Steam is now accepting discounted pre-purchases of Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army, a new standalone Sniper Elite expansion that's presumably what developer Rebellion started teasing last month. That's right, there's now more than one game series featuring Nazi zombies. The game is due for release on February 28th, and here's how it's described:
Featuring a co-op campaign for 1 to 4 players, Nazi Zombie Army is a horrifying new stand-alone expansion of the award-winning Sniper Elite series. In the dying flames of World War II, a despairing Hitler unleashes one final, unholy gamble – a legion of undead super soldiers that threatens to overwhelm the whole of Europe. You are Karl Fairburne – the sniper who shaped world history. You are one of the last living souls in Germany. You must team up or die. American, German, Russian – previous military allegiances no longer matter. Now it's just the living versus the dead. Only a Sniper Elite with nerves of steel and a steady aim stands a chance against Hitler’s Nazi Zombie Army!
Gamasutra expands upon the story of Valve's firing of engineer Jeri Ellsworth with the report that as many as 25 staff were fired by the developer yesterday. Details are scarce, though after contact with some of those involved, they say: "the impression we get is that these cuts were driven more by company challenges than by individual performance issues." They also have a speculative list of those who may have been let go by comparing the company's employee directory to a cached version from last month. Following up, Engadget has a statement about this from Valve Managing Director Gabe Newell:
"We don't usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons. There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I'd take the unusual step of addressing them. No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]. We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."
Eurogamer has word that Markus "Notch" Persson is the reason that Age of Wonders 3 is in development, saying the Minecraft creator and Mojang founder stepped up because he's a big fan of the role-playing strategy series. "We noticed Minecraft's random title-screen blurb mentioned Age of Wonders, so I thought what the heck and I sent Notch an email," explains Triumph Studios' Lennart Sas. "We had a demo for Age of Wonders 3 and talked to various parties including traditional publishers. There was certainly interest but the prospect of having Notch help fund was a dream come true, as he's a fan of the game and didn't insist on owning it like many of the publishers do these days when they fund development."
The Battlezone II patch page now offers a new public beta version 188.8.131.52 for Battlezone II, continuing the unofficial support by a couple of the original programmers on the action/strategy sequel. This patch replaces GameSpy matchmaking with RakNet matchmaking, since Battlezone 2 was one of the first games dropped by GameSpy/GLU Mobile.
The Double Fine Action Microblog reveals that Brütal Legend is being prepared for release for PCs, confirming suspicions fuelled by recent discovery of a Steam database entry for the musical action/strategy game (thanks nin). Pre-purchases of the regular version of the game and a "Soundtrack Edition" are now being accepted on Steam for 25% off the normal prices, and word is the PC edition is a "shinier, bad-asser, heavy metal-er Brütal Legend." Steam reflects the following modest system requirements: Continue here to read the full story.
The Path of Exile Website has patch notes for a new version 0.10.1 update that's now live in the beta of Grinding Gears' action/RPG (thanks Wowbagger_TIP). The new version adds new features and content along with bug fixes and balance changes. Here are the patch notes:
All skill gems and support gems have received new art.
The 3d artwork for many shields has been substantially updated and improved.
Overhauled most of the sound effects so that they use pitch and volume variations to avoid being repetitive.
Added new music for the Act Three boss fight.
Improved all of the Duelist's animations.
The Unique bow Death's Harp now has a particle effect for its custom art.
Updated and shrunk the visual size of Frenzy, Endurance and Power charges.
Added magic-only skeletons for the Map necro boss that can raise magic monsters.
Pressing the alt (or highlight) key in trade while hovering an item now says "item level" rather than "level" to make it clearer.
On-hit effects can now apply even if they deal no damage.
Renamed "Angel Kite Shield" to "Angelic Kite Shield".
Overhauled the zombie audio.
Improved blood effects.
Continued to incrementally improve the art, effects, environments and sound.
GOG.com now features a countdown that will hit zero around 6:00 am EST tomorrow, saying "System found." This is a confirmation of recent rumors that the online store for DRM-free games will soon offer System Shock 2, the highly regarded action/RPG sequel. This is covered by a Q&A on Rock, Paper, Shotgun talking with Guillaume Rambourg of GOG.com about the news, and with Stephen Kick of Night Dive, who explains how this small developer was able to secure the rights to work on re-releasing the game in this manner. There has also been speculation that development would also commence on a new installment in the series, but according to Kick, Night Dive's next project after preparing SS2 for GOG.com will be an original intellectual property.
Gearbox Software Support offers details on a patch for the PC edition of Aliens: Colonial Marines that's now automatically available through Steam. This offers a number of single-player and multiplayer bug-fixes, as outlined in this change list:
General user interface improvements.
Various performance improvements.
Fixed issue where a door may not function properly if a Xeno was killed while opening it.
Addressed issue where players could become stuck in a close encounter after killing a Lurker that had pounced them.
Fixed collision issue where bullets would not pass through certain open doorways.
Apparently enough Diablo III players are experiencing "unexpected errors" following the new version 1.07 patch for the action/RPG sequel that they have become expected. This Blizzard post for users encountering this problem outlines how to access the agent log and DB files to pass along to them to help them resolve this situation.
343 Industries' David Ellis tweets that Halo 2 PC multiplayer support is being extended through this June, in spite of the previous announcement that the PC multiplayer servers for the shooter sequel would be shut down this month. This includes hope for even further continued support for the game, as he says: "Halo 2 PC support extended through June 2013 while we investigate further support options. Now go get those achievements." Thanks Computer and Video Games.
Valve has fired Jeri Ellsworth, an engineer working on their hardware ambitions, reports Ellsworth, tweeting: "Yup. Got fired today. Time for new exciting projects." In September she told Engadget her team was working on Steam's assault on the living room, and spoke of their hopes of getting prototype Steam hardware into gamer's hands this year. This seems noteworthy as we don't recall hearing of any previous firings at Valve, where the management structure is famously unstructured. Thanks GamesIndustry International.
Free-to-play publishing specialist Nexon reports financial results for Q4 and fiscal year 2012, reporting better-than-expected results. Word is: "Fourth quarter revenues grew by 39% and operating income increased 5% year-over-year, both exceeding the Company’s outlook. Full year revenues grew 24% year-over-year, and full year operating income grew 25%." Looking forward they describe plans to offer further convergence between desktop and mobile gaming: "Longer term, we expect to see continued convergence between the PC and mobile devices. As a content creator, this trend presents significant opportunities for Nexon and increases the number of ways consumers can enjoy our games."
Did you know that skunks can be active in the winter? I sure didn't, until today at least. The dogs were out as I made the coffee this morning when they began barking, something they don't usually do at the crack of dawn. I called them back in, but they were clearly agitated, and Hudson the wonder dog was in full-on war mode, barking at the back fence (apologies to sleeping neighbors) and resisting my recall. Then I caught a whiff of the skunk spray, and knew just what happened, but thankfully, it seems the skunk was safely in the other yard when my guys encountered him, because nobody actually got spray on them, a lucky outcome to be sure. After I got the dogs inside I spotted Mr. Smelly in front of the house, by far the biggest looking skunk I had ever seen (though much of that was likely winter coat), waddling down the street, clearly put off by his encounter with unbridled canine aggression. Hopefully he found he way back home without getting hit by a car.
Today is Ash Wednesday. I don't think it's supposed to be "happy" Ash Wednesday, so good luck to those fasting or doing other forms of penance.
Kalypso Media USA announces Omerta - City of Gangsters is now available in North America of Windows and Xbox 360, offering turn-based strategy set in Atlantic City during the prohibition era. A playable demo was released earlier this year, and here's word on the game:
Ridgewood, NJ, February 12, 2013 - Are you the original gangster? Now is your chance to prove it, as Kalypso Media USA has released Omerta - City of Gangsters, their 1920's criminal conquest simulation, to North American retail stores for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC.
Grab the game that puts you in charge of your own crime syndicate in 1920's Atlantic City. Build, buy or burn...it's all up to you as you take over the Prohibition-era city, building by building and block by block. Local tough-guys think they can out-muscle you? Show them you mean business in tactical turn-based combat. Need fast cash? Send in your team to rob a local bank, or use your business skills to pull a con or bribe an official. Atlantic City is yours for the taking, you just need to decide how you'll do it - by muscle or money.
"We're very pleased to deliver another entertaining strategy game rooted in classic game play," said Mario Kroll, VP of Kalypso Media USA. "Tropico 4 developer Haemimont has done an excellent job of capturing one of America's most colorful and exciting historical periods, while offering gameplay that marries city management, organized crime and tactical turn-based combat in Omerta - City of Gangsters."
Siliconera translates a Japanese report on Online Game about an upcoming online first-person shooter from Nexon tentatively titled Ghost in the Shell Online. This project based on Ghost in the Shell- Stand Alone Complex was apparently first revealed last year, and the new report says it will be a first-person shooter with an emphasis on hacking and upgrading your cybernetic body that will feature combat in Tachikoma tanks and the ability to play as a Public Security Section 9 operative. Word is this will be released worldwide following a release in Japan during the first half of next year.
Joystiq talks with Rob Stokes and Michel Bastien of Moonshot about their plans, after reporting a few weeks ago that they have decided to cancel Fallen Frontier, their platformer announced almost two years ago. They discuss the bad timing of having a game rely on the downloadable console market at this time, and outline plans to pursue greener pastures in the mobile market.
Forbes - Conan O'Brien, Hitman, And Ludonarrative Dissonance In Video Games. Basically each of his jokes says something profoundly important about games whether or not he realizes it, and this is (I suspect) mainly because here we have someone who doesn’t play video games at all playing one and simply speaking his mind. The conceit of many video games these days is that you can get away with bad writing and preposterous narrative choices simply because it’s a game.
The Bungie Website states that Destiny is the title of the upcoming non-Halo project from Bungie, confirming repeatedrumors and even some details. Speaking of details, there are none to speak of at the moment, so whether or not this is an MMOFPS as has been speculated is not confirmed, and there's still no word on target platforms for the developer's first project since their emancipation from Microsoft. They say this will change in "a matter of days" when we get a "first glimpse" at their "brave new world." In the meantime they offer links to new social pages for the game on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Activison announces the Xbox 360 exclusivity of the Revolution DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops II will end on February 28th with the release of the pack for the Windows and PlayStation 3 editions of Treyarch's Cold War shooter sequel. Here's word on the four new multiplayer maps this adds:
Hydro: Located in Pakistan, this hydro-electric plant comes complete with a lethal spillway that floods with very little warning.
Grind: Set in a skate park in Venice Beach (the birthplace of skateboarding!), quarter-pipes and curved surfaces drive players away from easy cover and into intense firefights.
Downhill: A ski resort in the French Alps, this snowy map is complete with a moving gondola system that can both offer cover and crush you to death.
Mirage: Located in China's Gobi Desert, this luxury resort has been ravaged by a sandstorm.
Zombies fans get a terrifying double-dose of undead action in Revolution. First, the new map, "Die Rise," drops players inside a maze of crumbling skyscrapers amidst a ravaged Chinese city, where all-new Wonder Weaponry will play a crucial role as they make a valiant stand against the impending zombie hoard. Additionally, Revolution's new Zombies mode, "Turned," flips this new fan-favorite mode around, allowing players to become the undead and play as a zombie, offering an entirely new style of bragging rights.
Fans can either purchase Revolution as a standalone Map Pack for a suggested retail price of $14.99, or they can purchase the Call of Duty: Black Ops II DLC Season Pass. Season Pass holders not only get all four epic DLC Map Packs** for the discounted suggested retail price of $49.99*, but they also get the Nuketown Zombies bonus map, plus an exclusive in-game calling card.
Lace Mamba Global has released the following response to yesterday'sopen letter from Amanita Design, Colibri Games, and Daedalic Entertainment over lack of payment and other contractual issues with the publisher:
In reply to the open letter written by Daedalic, Amanita and Colibri on 11th February, Lace Mamba Global would like to comment.
In January of 2010 Mamba Games Ltd, an existing company, run by Jason Codd and Robert Neilson, formed a partnership with Adam Lacey of Lace International, with the intention of forming a new games company, Lace Mamba Global Ltd. This partnership was widely reported in the media at the time. As this was a partnership deal, Mamba Games Ltd continued to trade as a company in its own right, retaining its pre-existing contracts that were signed prior to the formation of Lace Mamba Global.
Mamba Games sub-licensed some of its pre-existing contracted product to Lace Mamba Global for distribution in the UK and Eire. Where Mamba Games product has been sold to other territories, this was done directly by Mamba Games, selling Lace Mamba Global branded product to international distributors for which Mamba Games were paid directly. Lace Mamba Global recognise that Mamba Games (Jason Codd) pre-existing contractual obligations are not being met and we will do all we can to help developers to ensure Mamba Games are held to account.
As per our previous statement (http://bit.ly/12rw1PZ), Lace Mamba Global also recognise that there have been some reporting and accounting issues in the past which we are actively working to resolve. We are pleased that those companies who we have been working closely with over the past few days have acknowledged that we have resolved their outstanding issues and we continue to work with and contact our other partners to ensure all of Lace Mamba’s contractual obligations are being met in full.
Lace Mamba Global are committed to regaining the trust of the gaming industry, we value our partnerships and will endeavour to resolve all the issues currently facing us. We would like to thank all developers for their continued patience while we review our contracts and report accurately.
Lace Mamba Global would like to state that we will not publicly discuss individual contracts or issues out of respect for confidentiality.
ManiaPlanet Official News announces open beta testing is now underway for ShootMania: Storm, the upcoming multiplayer first-person shooter from TrackMania creator Nadeo (thanks Frans). Accompanied by a new ShootMania logo and look, the announcement explains that users no longer need a key to join the beta, and outlines what testing includes and how preordering unlocks more features:
Talk about it around you: everyone can now download the ShootMania Storm client, create an account without the need of a key, and join the game right away.
The Open Beta give access to most of the game modes (except Heroes, Royal Exp and Elite Exp), servers and maps. Some features will remain limited for the players on free accounts. You can unlock all of the features by pre-ordering the game at a discount on the official website.
Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart comments to Rock, Paper, Shotgun on the possibilities of revisiting the Fallout series after the studio created the well-received Fallout New Vegas. He expresses enthusiasm for returning to the property the former Black Isle developers helped originate, though also notes that the current "disruption of the industry" caused by the life-support phase of the console cycle is an obstacle to making deals with publishers, in spite of their friendly relationship with Fallout owner Bethesda Softworks. Caution aside, he discusses how it would make sense for them to create another west coast version of the Fallout setting, since they are a west coast studio. RPS caps this by paraphrasing a response from Bethesda's Todd Howard, who expresses cautious enthusiasm for another spin of the New Vegas wheel. They promise to publish their complete interview with Urquhart "very, very soon." Thanks nin.
Yahoo! Finance transcribes a Warner Bros. post-earnings conference call that reveals plans to release another installment in the Batman Arkham series this year. This was posted last week, but sat unnoticed until noted by VG247. Here's the simple word on this:
And we also have a strong games release this year, which will include the next release in the Batman Arkham franchise. So all in all, we expect Warners to post another very strong year in 2013. And with a little luck, the year should be as good or maybe even a little bit better than 2012.
SEGA announces that Aliens: Colonial Marines is now available worldwide, offering a new first-person shooter set in the Aliens sci-fi setting for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, with a WiiU edition coming at some future date. Here's the official launch trailer for the game, and here's word:
SEGA® of America, Inc., SEGA® Europe Ltd., Gearbox Software and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products® today announced that its highly buzzed-about blockbuster Aliens™: Colonial Marines video game is now available on store shelves across the globe for 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.
Pitting players against the universe’s deadliest killing machine, the Xenomorph, Aliens: Colonial Marines is the official video game continuation to one of Sci-Fi’s most renowned movie franchises. As the authentic addition to the ALIENS canon, the game’s stunning visuals and adrenaline pumping action will deliver a breathtakingly immersive four-player drop-in drop-out cooperative campaign and four expansive competitive multiplayer modes – Escape, Team Deathmath, Survivor and Extermination.
The Kickstarter Page for WORLDS OF WANDER now offers a gameplay video showing side-scrolling gameplay created by this development tool. Here's word from Tom Hall on what this is about:
This is a small sample of what we'll implement, and just in one style. We'll work with the community on their favorite art styles -- this one's Retro, like old '50s cartoons. That's the whole idea behind World Themes in WORLDS OF WANDER: for example, you do a bunch of levels, but then decide you want to switch from, say, Retro Cartoon to Space Adventure. With one change, all the graphics on all the levels change! It's that easy.
Thanks for watching! We want to make the best platform game creator there is (WORLDS OF WANDER) and an awesome game in it (SECRET SPACESHIP CLUB) and build a Community Portal around it for hosting everyone's creations! Because we want to play what you make. Seriously. This is really important to us -- to let people easily play and create, anywhere they are. Please join us for this fun project. We're gonna make some awesome games together!
London, 12 February 2013: The nominations for the British Academy Games Awards 2013 were announced today. This year a total of 53 games have been recognised across 17 categories, showcasing some of the most popular and groundbreaking games of the last 12 months and highlighting the phenomenal level of creativity from UK and international development teams.
Journey and The Walking Dead are both nominated for Best Game, Game Design, Story and Original Music. Journey also receives nominations for Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, Game Innovation and Online-Multiplayer. The Walking Dead is also up for Mobile & Handheld as well as two nominations for Performer. Far Cry 3 and Dear Esther are both up for Artistic Achievement and Audio Achievement. Far Cry 3 is also nominated for Action, Story, Best Game and Game Design and Dear Esther for British Game, Debut Game and Performer.
Halo 4 is nominated for Action, Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement and Online-Multiplayer. Borderlands 2 receives nominations for Action, Artistic Achievement, Game Design and Online-Multiplayer. Assassin's Creed III is up for Audio Achievement, Online-Multiplayer, Original Music and Performer. The Room is nominated for Artistic Achievement, British Game, Debut Game and Mobile & Handheld.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Mass Effect 3, Dishonored, Forza Horizon, The Unfinished Swan and Thomas Was Alone all receive three nominations. Fifa 13, LEGO: The Lord of the Rings, Need for Speed Most Wanted, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, New Star Soccer and Diablo III all have two nominations.
The official website for Star Wars: The Old Republic has a couple of posts detailing plans for the upcoming version 1.7 update for the free-to-play Star Wars MMORPG. There's a developer blog with details on Relics of the Gree, a limited-time recurring in-game event, accompanied by another post with a sneak peek video of what this involves. The site and game are currently undergoing scheduled maintenance to install the new update, and the details LucasArts provides indicate players should be able to access this new event beginning today:
Relics of the Gree – Discover the mysteries behind the Grey Secant, an ancient Gree starship that has suddenly appeared over Ilum’s Western Ice Shelf. From February 12 to February 26, players can visit the in-game News Terminals located on Carrick Station or Vaiken Spacedock to begin their adventure. The Gree have promised advanced technology, including powerful weapons and armor, to anyone who is brave enough to aid them against an insidious foe who has taken control at the heart of their ship.
Galactic Reputation – This new system enables players to earn Reputation points by completing missions for factions such as the Gree, or for military divisions within the Republic and the Empire. The Galactic Reputation system advances characters through six ranks of increasing prestige: “Outsider”, "Newcomer", "Friend", "Hero", "Champion", and "Legend". Galactic Reputation is also tied to a character’s Legacy, so Reputation points and ranks are shared across all the characters within the same Legacy.
PCGamesN links to a D.I.C.E. SUMMIT 2013 Keynote Speech by Puzzle Clubhouse creator Jesse Schell where the CEO of Schell Games makes the interesting, if counter-intuitive case that releasing a demo for a game hurts sales, and that the key to successfully marketing a game is to make players want to try it without giving them a chance to. He offers a chart of the "Hype Curve" of marketing a game, which contains data points with disturbing labels such as "Peak of Inflated Expectations" and "Trough of Disillusionment," and offers the following personal perspective on how this works, at least in the case of his game: "You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half?," he asks himself, before answering: "Yes, that’s exactly what happened to you." Thanks Joao.
The Kickstarter for Unwritten: That Which Happened is in the final phases, and will conclude a but after midnight tonight/tomorrow morning. This post outlines a bunch of stretch goals hoping to inspire support for Roxlou Games' turn-based strategy game, which needs about $10K to reach its $75K goal, and $25K more than that for the first stretch goal, which would add OS X and Linux editions.