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Friday, Feb 08, 2013

  

Impossible Studios Closing

A Message from Tim Sweeney on the Epic Games Community Website announces Epic is closing Impossible Studios (thanks nin via Kotaku), the developer they formed just six months ago with staff from Big Huge Games, which went under as part of the bankruptcy of 38 Studios. The Epic Games founder explains "it wasn’t working out," and as a result, the iPad game Infinity Blade: Dungeons is now on hold. Here's word:

We’re closing Impossible Studios.

When former members of Big Huge Games approached Epic last year, we saw the opportunity to help a great group of people while putting them to work on a project that needed a team. It was a bold initiative and the Impossible folks made a gallant effort, but ultimately it wasn’t working out for Epic.

In addition to providing Impossible Studios employees with 3 months of severance pay, we’ll be giving the team the opportunity to form a new company with the Impossible Studios name and the awesome Impossibear logo.

This means that Infinity Blade: Dungeons is now on hold as we figure out the future of the project.

RAGE Tool Kit

The Bethesda Blog announces the RAGE Tool Kit is now available on Steam for those that want to work on modifications or other new content for RAGE, id Software's recent first-person shooter. Here's word, which notes these are "complex and aimed towards 'technically sophisticated and adventurous' modders":

Later today on Steam we will be releasing the official tool kit for RAGE – the same tools used to create RAGE and it’s DLC, The Scorchers. From the game’s world building tool, idStudio, to game maps and assets, the kit provides everything you need to get started with modding the first-ever idTech 5 title.

Interested? Before you start downloading the hefty 35+ GB file, the RAGE team has provided some documents to read. As described in the welcome document, these tools provided are complex and aimed towards “technically sophisticated and adventurous” modders.

    Welcome to the RAGE Tool Kit

    RAGE Tool Kit FAQ and EULA

To download the kit itself, be on the lookout for the RAGE Tool Kit in the Tools section of Steam (the same place you’d download Skyrim’s Creation Kit).

On behalf of everyone at id, we look forward to seeing your creations. If you have something to share, shoot us an email or share it with our id Software Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Diablo III Dueling Now Called Brawling

The Diablo III Forums have word that the upcoming preliminary PvP support in Diablo III has been renamed from Dueling to Brawling, to more accurately reflect the lack of meaningful outcome that a duel implies. Here's on this change in the upcoming version 1.07 patch for the action/RPG:

After reviewing feedback from the PTR, we've decided to rename dueling to brawling—a title we feel is much more fitting for the system. Rather than wait to announce this in the official patch notes, we wanted to let players know ahead of time, in part to reduce confusion and in part to explain the reasons behind the change.

While the system we designed for 1.0.7 was developed in order to give players a fun way to beat each other up in Diablo III, we've come to realize that "dueling" wasn’t the best name for it. Sure, it allows players to pummel, stomp, immolate, and hex fellow Nephalem (over and over again, if they so choose), but it's not a traditional one-on-one duel. It’s something much more wild and open-ended, where you can engage in 3-person and even 4-person free-for-all skirmishes with few restrictions. The system is all about letting players fight for the sake of fighting—you don’t need to worry about objectives, rewards, or scoring, and that’s exactly what we love about it. But again, that’s not really dueling; it’s brawling!

There's a lot of power in a name, and we think that the idea of a brawl more accurately describes the system we created. Heck, the NPC we added is even called Nek the Brawler, so we feel this re-branding must have been foretold in one of Deckard Cain’s prophecies. :)

This change will be reflected in the patch notes, as well as in all related game text fields once 1.0.7 ships. We’ve no further changes planned for brawling at this time, but we’re excited to see what kind of havoc players will wreak in the Scorched Chapel once the patch is released.

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Into the Black

Link of the Day: Bleep Bloop: Angry Birds Merch. NSFW.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Season Pass and Bug Hunt DLC Announced

SEGA announces a Season Pass program for Aliens: Colonial Marines, the first-person shooter from Gearbox Software that's due next week, saying this will offer four upcoming DLC packs for almost 40 percent less than the cost of purchasing them individually. The announcement also includes word on the first DLC release, confirming yesterday's report that this is called Bug Hunt, and is due in March. Here's word:

SAN FRANCISCO & LONDON (February 8, 2013) - SEGA® of America, Inc., SEGA® Europe Ltd., Gearbox Software and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products announced today a Season Pass promotional program for their highly anticipated release of Aliens™: Colonial Marines on February 12, 2013 worldwide.

Customers who purchase the Season Pass at participating retailers online or in store will receive all four upcoming pieces of downloadable content, which will feature new campaign as well as multiplayer content, for PlayStation®Network, Xbox LIVE® and STEAM for $29.99/£19.99/€29.99/$29.99/2400 Microsoft Points. The Season Pass will give gamers access to all four upcoming packs of DLC, as they become available, at almost 40% savings over the individual purchase of the content.* SEGA, Gearbox Software and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products are set to announce further details on the content and release dates of the downloadable content soon. Additionally, the companies announced the game’s first post-launch downloadable content. Scheduled for March 2013, Aliens: Colonial Marines’ first additional content pack, “Bug Hunt” will throw players into an all-new multiplayer mode where they have to take on waves of increasingly difficult enemies in three brand new maps based on environments from the ALIENS film.

Aliens: Colonial Marines will bring new levels of bone-chilling suspense and adrenaline-filled action to the renowned franchise, as the authentic addition to the ALIENS franchise canon. The game’s stunning visuals and adrenaline pumping action will deliver a breathtakingly immersive four-player drop-in drop-out cooperative campaign and expansive competitive multiplayer with four different modes (Escape, Survivor, Team Deathmatch and Extermination). Providing an innovative, asymmetrical competitive multiplayer experience, Aliens: Colonial Marines lets players fight in first person as the ultimate badasses – the United States Colonial Marines - or in third person as the universe’s deadliest killers – the Xenomorphs. Plunging into familiar and new environments from the iconic film franchise, players will have to fight the fear and face the true horrors of the ALIENS universe.

Aliens: Colonial Marines will be available in stores across the globe on February 12, 2013 on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC. A release date for the announced Wii U™ version will be revealed at a later time.

Obsidian Pitching New Star Wars RPG

Obsidian has pitched LucasArts on the prospect of creating another RPG based on Star Wars, following their work on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords, a sequel to BioWare's prequel role-playing game. EA's use of The Old Republic setting seems an obstacle to revisiting that setting, but Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart tells Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "There’s a lot of different eras in Star Wars, and that’s what we would focus on." He goes on to describe the time period they envisioned when they pitched the game to LucasArts. "We pitched a between-Episode III and Episode IV game," he explains. "Because we think that timeframe is super interesting. It’s the fall of the Republic, the extermination of the Jedi, it’s Obi-Wan going off and making sure Luke is OK. You have the Sith, but you have the extermination of all Force users except for very, very few. So it was an interesting time to set a game, and you know, Chris Avellone came up with a really cool story." A complication is that Disney's acquisition of LucasArts took place since that pitch, but Urquhart hopes this is all still in play, expressing confidence in what he calls one of the "top three pitches we’ve ever come up with," saying LucasArts was very enthusiastic, and that it's "something we’re still hoping for, even with the Disney/Lucas stuff going on."

SimCity Closed Beta 2 Next Weekend

The SimCity Blog has word that a second closed beta testing weekend for the urban planning reboot is planned to begin on February 16th, and saying those interested should register on this page before signups end on Monday. The article is mostly a FAQ for the new round of testing, clarifying that it will be for Windows only, that testing will only run for 24 hours, and that the main purpose of this is to stress test the servers. Thanks Polygon.

Origin for OS X

Electronic Arts announces an OS X edition of Origin, which is now available for Mac owners through the Download Origin Page. Word is this features dual-platform Windows/OS X support like their competitor Steam added a few years back:

But Origin for Mac will offer additional value to gamers who play on both PC and Mac devices: dual-platform play for select EA titles. With dual-platform play, gamers will buy a game once and be able to download it for both PC and Mac (if the game is available for both platforms). After purchasing the game via Origin on one platform, as soon as a player logs into their other device, the game will appear ready for download in the Origin “My Games” tab.

“Our vision with Origin is to connect your gaming universe online, and today we’re taking a major step in expanding our service to reach Mac-based gamers worldwide,” said Michael Blank, Vice President of Production for Origin at EA. “In delivering great game content, connecting the Origin service across PC, Mac and iOS devices, and offering great value to gamers with dual-platform play on select EA titles, Origin is making it easier than ever before for gamers to connect and play anytime, anywhere.”

Origin for Mac launches with a catalogue of hit titles from EA and publishing partners available for immediate purchase and download, including Dragon Age™ 2, Batman: Arkham City, LEGO Harry Potter and The Sims™ 3. In a special launch offer and to celebrate more than a decade of The Sims, players can enjoy huge savings across The Sims 3 franchise on Origin. The Sims anniversary sale gives players a chance to download The Sims 3 base game, plus numerous expansion and stuff packs via the new Origin for Mac application for as little as $10. These ‘simtastic’ savings on Origin are available for a limited time, so players should act fast.

Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey Kickstarter

This Kickstarter looks to fund Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey, the upcoming Dreamfall sequel from Red Thread Games (thanks Joystiq), a developer founded by The Longest Journey creator Ragnar Tørnquist, using a license for the adventure series granted by Funcom. The game seeks $850,000 for the project, and they offer a trailer along with the following pitch:

Dreamfall Chapters continues and concludes the gripping story of Zoë Castillo, the Dreamer.

Revisiting familiar locations and characters, and introducing new sights and sounds, new faces, new game mechanics, new thrills and challenges, Dreamfall Chapters takes the player on an emotional, exciting and challenging journey -- from a dystopian cyberpunk future, through the mysterious and dreamlike Storytime, to the magical landscapes of Arcadia.

We aim to recapture the heart and soul of The Longest Journey and to improve on the immersion and game mechanics of Dreamfall in order to bring you a fitting, satisfying and emotional conclusion to the Dreamer Cycle.

  • Experience a deep and complex storyline that continues the epic saga of The Longest Journey and concludes the Dreamer Cycle that began with Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
  • Explore a beautiful, rich, detailed, interactive and living world that mixes a cyberpunk vision of the future with magical fantasy, along with a broken and decaying dreamworld
  • Play as three different characters, all on journeys across worlds, through life, and into their own hearts and souls
  • 3D point-and-click interface and engaging puzzle gameplay designed for fans of adventure games

Journey is AIAS Game of the Year

The Academy Of Interactive Arts & Sciences announces the winners of the 16th annual D.I.C.E. Awards, where top honors went to PlayStation 3 exclusive Journey, which won eight awards, including Game of the Year, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming, and Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction (all in spite of apparently nearly going under during the game's development). The game also won Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition, which plays into the fact that the game's soundtrack is nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media (in case this inspires your curiosity, no, the classic rock band Journey never won a GRAMMY). Telltales's The Walking Dead game shambled off with four awards of its own, including Downloadable Game of the Year. Here are some select winners:

Action Game of the Year
Borderlands 2

Outstanding Achievement in Story
The Walking Dead

Downloadable Game of the Year
The Walking Dead

Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year
Mass Effect 3

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year
XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Adventure Game of the Year
The Walking Dead

Game of the Year
Journey

Why Borderlands 2 Level Cap is Still 50

Gamesbeat sat down with Gearbox Software's Randy Pitchford to discuss Borderlands 2, and say they plan to publish the entire conversation next week. In the meantime, they have posted a portion of the interview where they explore their agenda of getting the level cap raised, as it remains at 50 after three DLC releases, as opposed to the original Borderlands, which had two level cap increases. Randy admits they didn't plan very well for the cap raises in the original role-playing shooter, calling them mistakes. He then frankly admits they didn't really plan for an increased cap in the sequel either, which is why they are not repeating their mistake, and are still approaching how to raise the cap, saying: "It’s a big challenge. It’s a big undertaking. It’s not going to just turn on. It’s a thing we have to work ourselves through." Here's more, including an indication that console limitations may play a part in this as well:

That’s by design. Some of those things start to become game-breaking. This has actually created a huge problem for us. We designed the skills really well this time, but we did, for better or for worse, make a lot of the decisions with the knowledge that there will be no more skill points available to put into any trees after you reach level 50. We knew the impossible configurations. Some of the design exploits that. Some of the impossible configurations, if they were possible, would break the game. Sometimes very literally. “Oh, that’s gonna blow memory. Your Xbox will crash.”

Alien Arena: Mercury Edition

The Alien Arena Website now offers a new version 7.65 of this free multiplayer shooter, which they dubbed the Alien Arena: Mercury Edition, as it includes many new features as well graphical enhancements, including "a much faster rendering game engine." Here are some major features of the new release:

  • Major improvements in map rendering speed
  • HD lightmaps
  • IQM mesh animation now handled in GPU for major peformance gains
  • Particle rendering optimizations
  • Fixed issues with ATI and shaders
  • Soft shadowmapping for vegetation and players
  • Cubemapping on mesh and map surfaces
  • New glass and water effects
  • Weapon switching has been made significantly faster
  • TCA now best two out of three
  • Various player models received poly increases for smoothness
  • New armor models

New Evochron Mercenary

The Evochron Mercenary Website features downloads of a new version 2.308 update for this space exploration and combat game. Available as a free trial as well as an update for registered users, the new version offers the following enhancements: Continue here to read the full story.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Preview Trailer

Battle.net now offers a second preview trailer from StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the upcoming real-time strategy expansion. The clip features community manager Kevin "Cloaken" Johnson outlining some of the features in the new add-on that provide new ways to play, and make the game more approachable to new players. Continue here to read the full story.

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Out of the Blue

The storm I mentioned yesterday didn't arrive last night as I thought, as I guess I wasn't up on the latest forecast. The winter storm warning is still in effect, and they say we're looking at 100% chance of snow today and tonight, and we may wake up to as much as two feet of snow tomorrow. We're well stocked here, so we'd have to be snowed in for a good long time before we'd have to choose it out to see which one of us we'd feed to the dogs first. Hopefully it won't come to that. And if you are in the storm track, here's hoping you are safe, warm, and well-provisioned.

Well-Stocked Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Free Rider 3.
Links: Star Wars Bloopers. Thanks nin.
Stories: Horsemeat lasagna recalled in Sweden.
Famed Delacroix canvas defaced at new Louvre.
Media: 321 Fight: Adulthood vs. Childhood.
West People Problems.
Follow-up: Lance Armstrong sued over $12 mln in Tour de France prize money.



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