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Friday, Mar 15, 2013 Beware the Ides of March

  

Battlefield 4 Reveal This Month

EA has sent out invitations for a Battlefield 4 unveiling event on March 26th at the Game Developer's Conference. BF4 Central shows the invite, which says we should learn more about the next installment in the military first-person shooter series beginning at 7:00 pm PDT that day.

Mage's Initiation Demo

A new Kickstarter update for Mage's Initiation now offers a playable alpha demo for Himalaya Studios' upcoming adventure/RPG inspired by the classic Sierra On-Line games from back in the day. For those interested in more on the project, they will be holding an AMA on reddit tomorrow at 1:00 pm EDT. Here's word on the demo:

This demo provides a very early look at Mage's Initiation, based on the current alpha build. As such, it may have some bugs and is lacking a few features that will appear in the finished game -- it's very much a work in progress! Besides giving backers and potential backers a peek behind the curtain, the team is hoping to gather feedback about the interface and combat system that will inform the game's development moving forward.

Maxis on SimCity: "In many ways, we built an MMO"

A new update from Lucy Bradshaw on SimCity offers "straight answers" from the General Manager of EA's Maxis label on the topic of "Always-Connected and why SimCity is not an offline experience." She goes into detail on all the benefits their approach to requiring the game be played online, saying: "In many ways, we built an MMO." She concludes by explaining that they recognize that there are fans who want to be able to build a single city in isolation, but this does not fit with their vision:

So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the “single city in isolation” that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans – people who love the original SimCity – who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.

AMD Catalyst Beta

AMD support now offers a new version 13.3 beta Catalyst driver for Windows 7/8/Vista 32-bit and 64-bit. They promise performance improvements for SimCity, Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider, and Hitman Absolution, but offer no promises of support, as the beta is provided on an "as is" basis. Word is that Linux users can expect a new beta driver next week.

E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy Free DLC Soon

The E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy website has details on free DLC that's coming soon to E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy with four new levels and the promised "Blood Games" PvP and more. This doesn't have an exact release date yet, but it is promised "soon."

On Sale

Evening Patches

Op Ed

GamesIndustry International - We're not always online; games shouldn't be either.
Always-online approaches to singleplayer have an extraordinary appeal for game creators, but they are a terrible idea, exemplifying all of the worst characteristics lambasted by the "defective by design" argument. This is only magnified when the approach is applied to a much-loved franchise like Diablo or Sim City, where players have a completely reasonable expectation of singleplayer functionality which the developer has rashly chosen to ignore. "This will be fine for the majority of players," I'm sure they thought - and they're right, but only in a narrow sense. I could play Sim City most of the time, certainly, so the always- online component should be fine for me - but at many times when I'd like to play it (trains, flights, hotel rooms, Christmas at home, etc.) I won't be able to, and that fact looms large on any purchase decision. I'm in the majority whom EA probably consider to be unaffected by their always-online strategy, but they're wrong; always-online means I won't buy their game, and sadly, it also means that what looks like a genuinely excellent update of the franchise is doomed to be remembered for its aggressive unpleasantness towards players

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Breaking the 4th Wall Movie Supercut. Thanks scorcese.fan.

Saints Row 4 in August

GameTrailers now offers a debut teaser trailer for Saints Row IV, the next installment in Volition's open-world action series, which was recently sold to Deep Silver as part of THQ's bankruptcy proceedings. The clip shows off some of the over-the-top elements expected of the series including nudity, car surfing, and epic nut kicks (but no weaponized sex toys), and concludes with an August 20, 2013 release date. Thanks Hubert.

Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World Expansion This Summer

2K Games announces Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World, an upcoming expansion pack for the turn-based strategy sequel to be released this summer, imbuing the Windows and OS X editions of the game with "a massive amount of new gameplay." Word is: "Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Brave New World provides new depth and replayability through the introduction of international trade and a focus on culture and diplomacy. The player’s influence around the world will be impacted by creating a number of Great Works across a variety of crafts, choosing an ideology for their civilization, and proposing global resolutions in the new World Congress. As players move through the ages of history, they will make critical decisions that influence relationships with all civilizations in the game world." Here's a feature list:

  • New Civilizations, Units and Buildings: The expansion features nine new civilizations, each with unique traits, units, buildings and all-new leaders, including Casimir III of Poland.
  • New Culture Victory: Spread your culture across the globe, dominating all other cultures. Create masterpieces with Great Artists, Writers, and Musicians that are placed in key buildings across your empire, like Museums, Opera Houses and even the Great Library. Use Archaeologists to investigate sites of ancient battles and city ruins for priceless cultural artifacts. Become the first civilization with a majority influence in all other civilizations to achieve a Culture Victory, becoming the envy of the world. Continue here to read the full story.

SimCity: Maxis Working on Traffic Jams; Deleting "Hack" Posts

A new update to developer blog for the new SimCity has word on Maxis' efforts at addressing user complaints about the urban planning sequel. This includes complaints that the residents of the city are not as simulated as promised, and lead designer Stone Librande explains that while the Sims in the game do not have fixed residences or jobs, they do have persistent happiness states, admitting that adding more detailed persistence is a performance trade-off. He also says they are fixing the artificial stupidity that the AI drivers demonstrate, as realistic as idiotic drivers may be. This video offers a look at SimCity "congestion avoidance tuning." Also, Computer and Video Games notes some tweets by EA's Erik Reynolds explaining he's being 1000% transparent in admitting they are deleting forum posts about hacking SimCity to play offline. He does not forbid the discussion, but says as a violation of their Terms of Service, it can't take place on their forums (he says they support mods, but parses this with "hacks are not mods"), so users should: "Please move it to other places and continue the dialogue."

POE Boasts 2M Players; Patch Details; Supporter Packs Update

Grinding Gear Games announces that Path of Exile now has more than two million registered accounts since the action/RPG entered open beta testing in January. "We're really pleased with Path of Exile's reception. It blew our expectations out of the water and continues to grow every day," responds Chris Wilson, producer for Grinding Gear Games. "The continued feedback and support from our fans has been great. We expect to add a lot of new content and features during the Open Beta period as we approach full release later this year." They also continue to update the open beta on a weekly basis and just this morning posted a lengthy update outlining plans for the version 0.10.4 content update they plan on releasing next week as well as patch notes for a new version 0.10.3B hotfix that launched yesterday. Next week's patch will introduce a new player skill and four new unique items, offering a teaser image to whet appetites. Finally, they have an update about shipments of physical goods from closed beta supporter packs along with the question of whether players would welcome a new set of such rewards for open beta supporters:

Many people haven't yet received the physical goods from the supporter packs that they ordered towards the end of Closed Beta (or in the case of some of the more crazy signing requests, earlier in the Closed Beta). Our bulk signing of physical goods was delayed by the launch of the Open Beta, but we now have signing stations set up at the office again and a lot of shirts/posters/DVDs/CDs are getting signed each day. We have also replenished our stocks of the manufactured physical goods required for these packs and are packaging/shipping as many as we can per day. Thanks very much for your patience!

Quick question: How much interest is there in the return of physical goods supporter packs for Open Beta that have different contents than the Closed Beta ones? We've been holding off on pursuing this idea until we have fulfilled the orders that people have been patiently waiting for from Closed Beta. I get more and more mail about this per day from excited fans who want to purchase packs that include physical merchandise (and exclusive pets).

Empire Eden Tech Demo

This Kickstarter is attempting to raise $19,000 for Empire Eden, a side-scrolling run-and-gun action/RPG planned for Windows, OS X, and Linux. To help give prospective backers a sense for the game, developer New Horizon Games offers a playable tech demo, though this is just the chance to "mindlessly" kill the same enemies repeatedly to show off game mechanics, rather than any part of the story. The demo is available for download from this page.

Call of Juarez Gunslinger Gameplay Trailer

A new trailer offers the first look at gameplay from Call of Juarez Gunslinger, the upcoming sequel that returns the western shooter series to the old days. Here's a bit on the game: "Made of memorable encounters with some of the West's most notorious names such as John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid and Jesse James, the game blurs the lines between man and myth. They all made their choice, and now you'll make yours. Call of Juarez Gunslinger lets players live the greatest legends of the Old West. It's time to settle up!" Continue here to read the full story.

Full Mojo Rampage Trailer

The Full Mojo Rampage Website has a new trailer and a developer blog for this Voodoo-themed action/exploration game, and say the game will be made available to play by preorder customers over the coming weeks. Word is: "Full Mojo Rampage is a fast-paced exploration and action game that takes place within the confines of the Voodoo reality. In this realm only the most powerful rites and powers can provide a safeguard against evil. It includes cooperative and competitive gameplay, so you can enjoy the game in different ways with your friends." Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Beware the Ides of March! I know, I hand out this warning every year, but remember those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, and this applies to classical English literature as well, so memorize your Bard quotes. Besides, as Alanis Morissette teaches: if that qualifies as good advice, then you need to take it to avoid the icy fingers of irony.

Ides of Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Shotgun vs. Zombies.
Links: Coffitivity.
Stories: 5 convicted of inventing movie to hide tax fraud. The Argo of income.
Science: Rapid HIV treatment points to "functional cure" for AIDS.
Images: I see this every morning as I row.
Media: "Dog Eat Dog" starring Zachary Quinto
The Simpsons - The Dependables from "Dark Knight Court".



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