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.