Bohemia Interactive follows the news that Arma III will be a Steam exclusive with word that an alpha version of the military shooter will be released one week from today on March 5th. The post outlines a release schedule where a beta will be released in Q2 of this year, followed by the game's official launch in Q3, and says that those who purchase the initial alpha are also entitled to these subsequent releases. Those interested in trying the game without the upfront financial commitment will be pleased to know that the paid alpha will be followed a week later by a free Alpha Lite version with no multiplayer or modification support, though this will be invite only, available from friends who buy the game as well as website giveaways. The lite version will expire on June 15th, and does not include access to the beta or the full game. They offer three paid versions with various perks: A standard edition for 24.99 EUR/19.99 GBP/32.99 USD, a Digital Deluxe Edition for 39.99 EUR/34.99 GBP/49.99 USD, and an Arma 3 Supporter Edition for 69.99 EUR/59.99 GBP/91.99 USD. Here's word on what the alpha will offer:
Featured in the Arma 3 Alpha are four showcase missions (Infantry, Vehicles, SCUBA and Helicopter), a limited subset of weapons and vehicles, two multiplayer scenarios, the powerful scenario editor and modding support. The 20 km² island of Stratis, which is positioned right off the coast from Arma 3’s main destination ‘Altis’ (270 km²), will form the backdrop of the Arma 3 Alpha.
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Steam News announces that The War Z is now once again available for purchase on Steam, following issues that caused them to stop selling the game "prematurely" late last year. They also state this means they are no longer providing refunds to customers dissatisfied with the initial release:
The War Z is now available for purchase on Steam. Valve and Hammerpoint Interactive collaborated to address community feedback, update the Steam store page, and make the title available for purchase worldwide. In addition, a patch has been released to update existing customers. As such, the special refund offering extended for The War Z Steam customers who previously purchased the title has concluded.
We have one additional detail to share about Victory, the just revealed project from Petroglyph Games that will be officially announced next week. Though Petroglyph has mostly focused on real-time strategy games since being formed by former Westwood employees, the action elements of their recent MOBA offerings continue in Victory, as rather than an RTS game, they tell us this will be a World War II action/strategy hybrid.
Steam News announces that Brȕtal Legend is now available (also on GameStop PC Downloads), offering Double Fine's action/strategy game based on the action-packed, strategic world off heavy metal music. In addition to the regular version of the game, they are also selling a version that includes a copy of the soundtrack. Here's word on the game:
Brütal Legend is an action-adventure that marries visceral action combat with open-world freedom. Set in a universe somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Spinal Tap, it’s a fresh take on the action/driving genre, which in this case is full of imitation cover bands, demons intent on enslaving humanity and Heavy metal tunes. Featuring the talents of comedian, actor and musician, Jack Black as super roadie Eddie Riggs, as well as cameos by some of the biggest names in metal music it's a wild ride in the belly of the beast that is not to be missed by gamers and Metalheads alike.
Included as a free bonus in the PC version of Brütal Legend are both the Hammer of Infinite Fate and Tears of the Hextadon multiplayer map packs.
Instant Kingdom now offers the promised release of Driftmoon via digital distribution. Described as a "quirky" role-playing adventure, Driftmoon comes from a husband-and-wife team after seven years in development, and now that the Windows edition is complete, they will look to bring the game to other platforms. You can get a look at the game in this previously released launch trailer or get hands-on play with the "long" playable demo they offer, which is said to include "full editor tools, and magic!" Here's word on the game:
The last hope of an enchanted world lies in an unlikely alliance: a hyperactive firefly, a queen panther with a whale-sized ego, and a fellow who's lost all but his bones. They'll take you on a journey like no other, full of amazing adventures, smiles and surprises, fantastic discoveries, wonderful stories, and fearsome foes!
Driftmoon and its long, free demo are available directly through the developer's website, www.instantkingdom.com, and through a number of digital distribution platforms, including GOG.com, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming and Desura. In addition to PC, porting to other platforms is planned. Driftmoon also includes a powerful editor and a one-click mod installation system.
To celebrate the launch, up until March 5th, Driftmoon is available for only €/$ 11,99. 15% of all direct sales from the developer's website go to the Red Cross.
Some people have had questions about what "Factions" is, and why we released it separate from the single player Saga. To summarize, we built combat for the single player game and decided to release it as multiplayer competitive game free and early as we continue to develop the single player game. Unlike many "free to play" games, there's no energy system, no pay to win, and matches are made between teams with even power, regardless of whether they spent money or not. In fact, we've pretty much designed a game that you never need to pay a cent for, truly and honestly. We've probably screwed ourselves. In the meantime, work continues heavily on the single player campaign.
ZaxisGames announces the release of 99 Levels To Hell, their new platformer/shooter for Windows and OS X. The game is available through Desura, IndieCity, and GOG.com, though GOG.com is the best bet for now thanks to the 20% discount they provide. Here's the release trailer, and here's word on the game:
99 Levels to Hell is a platform shooter with lots of guns, upgrades, magic, traps and monsters to kill. 99 Levels to Hell is a rogue-like-like, which means surviving is key and every time you play you get a new set of levels to play. When you complete 10 levels, the 10th being a boss-fight you unlock a door to the next dungeon.
Hidden in the darkness of the dungeons are shops, casinos and elevators. And if you search the dungeons carefully, you might find secret rooms that unlock more of the story, and free new adventures, you can play as in your next game. Let this great combination of a platformer and a roguelike RPG suck you into its multi-leveled randomly-generated dungeon. You won't be back for hours!
The World of Warcraft Website announces that the upcoming version 5.2 "The Thunder King" patch is now live on the public test realm for Blizzard's MMORPG. They offer updated, but still non-final patch notes, and say: "By logging in you can help us test a massive new raid dungeon, a multi-faceted new quest hub, Pet Battle improvements, new world bosses, significant class balance changes, brand new pets and mounts, assorted bug fixes, and more." They also have a new preview of the Throne of Thunder raid the new version will offer and a Tier 15 Armor Set Preview.
WBIE and Wizards of the Coast announce Dungeons & Dragons Online: Shadowfell Conspiracy, a new expansion that will launch this summer for Dungeons & Dragons Online, Turbine's free-to-play D&D MMORPG. The expansion continues their foray into the Forgotten Realms setting, adding new iconic heroes and raising the game's level cap. "Last year we expanded the world of DDO into the Forgotten Realms universe with the launch of our first expansion," said Erik Boyer, Senior Producer of DDO. "This year we’re introducing more content and making it even easier to experience the latest content with the introduction of Iconic Heroes that begin at level 15, allowing players to jump right into the action." The expansion be accompanied by two new Forgotten Realms Adventure Packs, as detailed here:
Two New Forgotten Realms Adventure Packs -- Featuring gorgeous new wilderness areas packed with new D&D monsters, dangerous encounters and a host of challenging dungeons.
Wheloon: Horrors from the Shadowfell pour into Wheloon, a prison city full of irredeemable criminals and traitors to the Crown. In this place, Netherese agents conspire to forge an army out of the Kingdom’s enemies. Masquerade as a traitor to infiltrate the Prison City, fight marauding criminal gangs, and destroy the army before it marches – all the while battling creatures made out of the very shadows.
Stormhorns: Deep in the Stormhorn Mountains, the Netherese Empire prepares to unleash its secret weapon against the Kingdom of Cormyr. Brave treacherous mountain passes through griffon territory and overcome cunning harpy ambushes. At the peaks of the mighty Stormhorns, overcome an alliance of giants and monstrous creatures – only to have to contend with a terrible Netherese secret weapon.
Introducing Iconic Heroes -- Jump into the action of DDO with these new prestige characters that start in Forgotten Realms at level 15 and feature unique looks and skills. Each of these classic D&D heroes is a paragon of their race and class and features custom iconic gear, appearance options and new abilities to enhance their power.
Attain Epic level to 28 -- Master your destiny and gain new epic feats and spells with three new Epic levels of advancement that let you reach new levels of power.
Blizzard Entertainment announces their Heart of the Swarm launch festivities which will surround the release of the new StarCraft II expansion on March 12. This will include a worldwide broadcast beginning the previous day so it can span a mind-boggling 24 hours to show local events all around the world. Here's a new Vengeance Trailer from the game, hand here's word on the festivities:
With the imminent arrival of Kerrigan and Heart of the Swarm on March 12, Earth awaits a global infestation. Blizzard Entertainment will be preparing for the onslaught with a worldwide broadcast spanning 24 hours leading up to the launch of the game. StarCraft players are invited to join us at official events in Melbourne, Australia; Seoul, South Korea; Versailles, France; and Irvine, California; or catch the celebration online. Top StarCraft II pro-gamers will play Heart of the Swarm show matches with your favorite casters narrating the action. We'll also feature live demonstrations of new features in Heart of the Swarm, showcase videos and community content, and give away great prizes.
Developers will also be present at other official launch events – check the list of locations for information about all these events, and stay tuned to this page for more details about the global launch celebration, coming soon.
Feral Interactive announces they are working on a Mac OS X port of XCOM: Enemy Unknown for release this spring. Word is this will include all the content released for the strategy remake so far:
The Mac release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the Elite Edition, and contains all previously released add-on content and updates. XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Elite Edition includes the Slingshot and Elite Soldier Pack add-on content, as well as the Second Wave update, which includes a series of gameplay modifiers that add further depth and flexibility to the campaign.
One Of Swords - Why some COD players don’t deserve respect. Hmm. To me, this is where right balances with responsibility. Do you have the right to focus on kills in a Domination game? Yes. Do you have a responsibility to your team? Yes. The bigger problem is not you focusing on your strengths or even playing the way you want (because, as I was reminded, “there is no rule that says I can’t”), but you ignoring the reality that you are in a 12-person public lobby with a clear structure. See, we’re not in your game — you’re in ours.
The next installment in the Assassin's Creed series may be pirate-themed or at least set on the high seas if a poster sent anonymously to Kotaku is genuine, as it shows our friendly neighborhood assassin cavorting with some scurvy swashbucklers on the deck of a sailing ship with the caption: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. We shouldn't have to wait too long to find out whether this is true, as Ubisoft recently announced the next installment in the stealth/action series will use a new setting and is expected to be released between April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. Further, Kotaku says their tipster says this poster is to appear in stores beginning March 4th.
The Bethesda Blog announces dates and details for QuakeCon 2013, which will run from August 1-4, when the asphalt runs like water in Dallas, Texas:
For the 18th straight year, QuakeCon will host North America’s largest BYOC (Bring-Your-Own-Computer) LAN party, with thousands of fans connecting their systems to play on a world-class network!
Taking place August 1-4, the event once again returns to The Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX. You can make reservations at the hotel by calling 1-800-Hiltons or 1-800-445-8667 or by going online to the hotel’s reservation page. Special room rate of $159 per night when you reference QuakeCon 2013!
As new details on QuakeCon 2013 become available, we’ll post updates here on the official site, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Steam Community Website announces all systems are go for a fifth set of titles deemed worthy of inclusion on Steam by the community. A couple of new productivity applications are included, and here's word on new games which will roll out on the service as they are ready:
Anodyne – The two-man development team behind Anodyne recently gave away the game on Pirate Bay, sparking a huge surge in votes and attention from the community and press.
Distance – Featured in PCGamer’s ‘best pc games of 2013’ and successfully funded on Kickstarter, Distance is a unique survival racing game where you boost, jump, rotate, and even fly through a chaotic and twisted city.
Evoland – This journey through the history of action/adventure gaming caught our attention early on with their dramatic gameplay video and proved to also be a community favorite, getting voted up the charts in just a month.
Huntsman:The Orphanage – This unconventional survival-horror game has captured the interest of the community by showing a lot of detail, posting gameplay videos and responding frequently to fans.
Kingdom Rush – This highly rated tower-defense mobile game comes to PC and Mac, exciting the gaming press and picking up supporters across the Greenlight community.
Legends of Dawn – This open-world RPG has moved up the Greenlight charts quickly and steadily since being posted at the end of December. Along the way, they almost doubled their funding goal on Kickstarter.
Organ Trail: Director's Cut – This retro zombie survival game brings you back to the days of gaming where your friends lived long enough to die of dysentery.
Receiver – Detailed FPS game that puts you in control of solving puzzles and the mechanics of operating your weapons.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 – This simulation game quickly climbed the charts with their free demo and hilariously tricky gameplay.
War Thunder – This World War II MMO has seen huge success in its open beta, already logging a half-million players and tens of millions of hours played, translating to a huge community of voters on Greenlight as well.
As with past batches, these titles will be released independently in the months ahead, as they complete development and integrate with any of the Steamworks features they are interested in utilizing.
Petroglyph is getting set to take the wraps off of Victory, the next game from the Vegas-based RTS developer. Details are scant for now, though the "WW2" in the URL for the Victory Website suggests a World War II setting, and we have confirmed with Petroglyph that this is a PC game. We should know more soon, as we're told they plan an official announcement on March 5th, and in the meantime, the site is accepting signups for a mailing list for those interested in the project.
The Natural Selection 2 website announces Friday will see the release of build 240 of Natural Selection 2, an update for the action/strategy sequel that developer Unknown Worlds planned to release already, before deciding to do some additional polishing. The new version is unofficially titled "Gorgeous," as it includes graphics enhancements, but it also includes new content, which they proudly point out is neither an expansion nor DLC, but in their view, the "norm," saying: "These days, it is rare for PC games to receive ‘expansion’ style content updates for free. ‘Season Passes,’ ‘Map-Packs,’ and ‘DLC’ are the norm. We’re proud that Gorgeous is breaking the norm, and hope you’ll help us tell the world about it when it goes live!" Thanks IncGamers.
OXM notes a few tweets from Randy "DuvalMagic" Pitchford unveiling plans for more DLC for Borderlands 2, Gearbox's role-playing shooter sequel. One tweet indicates they will indeed be raising the game's level cap, though he won't say when for fear of being "skewered" if this changes. A later tweet expands on this, suggesting a level cap raise and a sixth playable character are in the works, but may not be included in the Borderlands 2 Season Pass: "We're working on new DLC for these things in addition the campaign DLC offered in the season pass." Thanks VG247.
Funcom announces that Joel Bylos will be stepping up from his role as designer to assume a new mantle as Creative Director of a new centralized live team that will support all three of the developer's current MMOGs: The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online. "Having one centralized live team responsible for both the health and the future of each online game means there will always be fresh ideas, years of design know-how and invaluable skill with our tools flow freely between each project," says Bylos. "I am very excited to have been given the opportunity to lead this team going forward and we have already started mapping out a very exciting future for ‘Anarchy Online’, ‘The Secret World’ and ‘Age of Conan’. Stay tuned, great things are coming!" How this news impacts each game specifically is touched upon in a new Anarchy Online Monthly Development Update, an Age of Conan February 2013 Game Director’s Letter, and The Secret World February 2013 Game Director’s Letter. Word is: "In the letters, Bylos give fans a glimpse at some of the team's plans, including the new graphics engine for 'Anarchy Online' which the team hopes to get onto test servers soon, an outline of the coming updates for 'The Secret World' including the Tokyo update and the soon to hit Issue #6: 'The Last Train to Cairo', as well as what impact the upcoming Conan movie might have on 'Age of Conan'."
The AMD Game Blog an article on how AMD's graphics technology is being used in the Tomb Raider reboot to fix one the depiction of one of the most unrealistic physical characteristics of Lara Croft... her hair. They unveil "TressFX Hair," saying: "Croft is an iconic character with an equally iconic ponytail. Re-imagining Lara (and her haircut) for the 2013 release of Tomb Raider wasn’t just an opportunity to modernize the character, it was an opportunity to substantially advance in-game realism by tackling the long-standing challenge of unrealistic hair. Through painstaking collaboration between software developers at AMD and Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider proudly features the world’s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game: TressFX Hair."
GameSpot.com - The Emotional Price of Making Video Games. Regardless of the best intentions of those involved, executives or otherwise, the care and attention required means that work-life balance becomes a major issue on any game project. "It's exciting and energizing, but it's almost a reality-show-type environment," Hawley explains. "You're stuck in a room with a bunch of like-minded individuals, 20- to 30-something dudes. It's just not healthy. It definitely develops these Lord of the Flies-type situations. You've spent so long together that you develop a group craziness. You witness the very pinnacle of sleep-deprived in-jokes, and songs that are unique to the group. To this day I can't hear Journey without thinking of Burnout, because Alex [Ward, Criterion's creative director] would play it every single morning."
I mentioned taking another crack at a Bolognese ragù over the weekend, and it came out pretty good for a second effort, especially considering MrsBlue's insistence I use ground beef, rather than a more traditional combination of pork and veal (due to the sources of them being iffy and creepy, respectively). Even after meddling, she was dubious about sharing this carnivorous delight with me, but that was before she smelled it cooking. By the time it was done late in the evening, she demanded a small standalone serving immediately, and by noon the next day that she suggested we make pasta for lunch, so I think I won her over. This success should help me make the case for using the proper meats next time, but in any event, I am happy with the progress in creating one of my favorite dishes.