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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013

  

Ships Ahoy - Star Trek: The Video Game

Paramount Pictures and NAMCO BANDAI Games announce that Star Trek: The Video Game has beamed down into North American retailers, offering a co-op adventure based on the rebooted Star Trek movie series. Here's a launch trailer and here's the announcement:

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (April 23, 2013) – The wait is finally over for Star Trek fans, with the release today of the highly anticipated, unparalleled new game experience of STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME from Paramount Pictures and NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.

Offering amazing co-op play in the roles of iconic space adventure heroes Kirk and Spock, players will board the U.S.S. Enterprise and uncover a seemingly insurmountable threat by the rapacious enemy Gorn throughout the game.

STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME features the voice talent of Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, reprising their roles from the blockbuster 2009 film Star Trek and the upcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness. Offering 3D-compatible adventure, STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME requires players to work together as Starfleet officers Kirk and Spock by utilizing the intense co-op play that is at the core of the game.

“This is the most expansive, authentic Star Trek experience ever developed for the video game format,” said LeeAnne Stables, President of Consumer Products at Paramount Pictures. “It represents an incredible collaboration with the film creative teams, our development and distribution partners, and many true Trek fans. The result is a multi-faceted, fun-to-play new Star Trek adventure for gamers at all levels.”

Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Dead Island Riptide

The Dead Island Riptide website announces that Dead Island Riptide is now available in North America. They don't have any more to say about Techland's zombie sequel, but offer a release trailer to celebrate the occasion. Continue here to read the full story.

NVIDIA Beta Drivers

The GeForce Website now features new version 320.00 beta GeForce drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards. These include performance improvements, and are the recommended drivers for some new games:

The new GeForce 320.00 beta driver is now available to download. An essential update for gamers jumping into this month’s latest releases, today’s driver ensures maximum system compatibility and performance in games such as Dead Island: Riptide, Neverwinter, and Star Trek: The Videogame. 320.00 beta also boasts performance improvements of up to 20% in Tomb Raider, 20% in DiRT Showdown, 8% in Assassin’s Creed III, 6% in Far Cry 3, and 5% in BioShock Infinite.

320.00 beta also features SLI profiles for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Dead Island: Riptide, Neverwinter, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, GRID 2, and Remember Me, as well as updated profiles for Natural Selection 2, Resident Evil 6, and TrackMania² Canyon.

Strike Suit Infinity This Month

Born Ready Games announces Strike Suit Infinity, a "wave-based score-chaser" using the same setting and gameplay mechanics as Strike Suit Zero, though the original space combat game is not required for the new one. The game will be released through Steam on April 30th for USD $6.99. Here are some screenshots and here's word on how this will work:

In Strike Suit Infinity, players fight to stay alive as long as possible against a never-ending armada of enemies, with the intention of surviving each round and climbing as high up the leaderboards as possible. Each round is comprised of numerous waves of enemies, which get progressively harder. In order to reach the top of the leaderboard, players will need to successfully chain their scoring to increase their score multiplier. The multiplier will decay however, so players must maintain rhythm while quickly dispatching enemy ships.

In between rounds, players can use credits earned during combat to purchase reinforcements. Reinforcements range from Interceptors and Fighters all the way up to Cruisers and Frigates – challenging players to make strategic choices to get to the top of the leaderboard.

Anno Online Closed Beta

Ubisoft announces the launch of closed beta testing for Anno Online, the upcoming persistent-world installment in the Anno strategy series. Here's word on how this kicks off, which outlines plans to add guild features next month:

SAN FRANCISCO – April 23, 2013 – Ubisoft® has launched the Closed Beta phase of Anno Online, the latest installment in the award-winning PC strategy game series, for players in North America and all English speaking countries. Developed by Ubisoft Blue Byte, Anno Online is a free-to-play, browser-based world-building strategy game that challenges players to build and manage a medieval kingdom and trading empire. The Closed Beta is now available via the game’s official web site www.anno-online.com.

Based on the critically acclaimed Anno 1404®, Anno Online delivers the franchise’s proven and popular strategy-simulation gameplay along with the series’ highly-detailed animation and graphics, for the first time in a browser-based title. Players will build and develop great medieval cities using the detailed economic system enjoyed for years by Anno fans. As they satisfy the population’s needs, they will unlock new buildings and face more demanding inhabitants, eventually needing to discover and claim additional islands and connect them with trading routes.

Continue here to read the full story.

Jagged Alliance: Flashback Kickstarter

This Kickstarter offers the promised crowd-sourcing campaign for Jagged Alliance: Flashback, a new installment in the turn-based tactics series indie developer Full Control calls a "reset." They are seeking USD $350,000 and say they will always provide a DRM-free distribution option for the game and its future expansions, which will be available for Windows, Linux, and OS X. Word is: "Our main goal is to bring back the tactical turn-based action that the original Jagged Alliance games are known for - the game was a thinking man's game, a thinking man with lots of guns!"

Ships Ahoy - Panzer Corps Grand Campaign Mega Pack ’39-’45

Slitherine now offers the Campaign Mega Pack ’39-’45 for Panzer Corps as well as a new patch for the World War II strategy game. This includes some previously released content, and so they are offering 10% off the price of this for every DLC pack a customer has previously purchased, which can stack up to a 70% discount. Word is: "The Mega Pack features all the 10 linked campaigns bundled in one huge package. The player will have the chance to play all 150+ scenarios covering the entire war from the invasion of Poland and Norway on to the cold Russian winter against the Red Army on the East front, defend against D-Day and then take a final stand at Berlin."

Metro: Last Light Trailer

This trailer is the third and final installment in the Ranger Survival Guide for Metro: Last Light, 4A Games' upcoming first-persons hooter sequel. Here's word on how this shows off the game's atmosphere and arsenal: "Exploring the unique equipment and brutal, hand-made weaponry every Ranger needs to survive the perils of the Metro, this chapter also teaches you how to use light as an ally (or even as a potential weapon) as well as detailing Metro's infamous bullet-driven economy and gun trading and customization mechanic." The game is due for Windows and consoles on May 14th in North America and May 17th in Europe. Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Interviews

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: That Bike Is STOOPIDTALL (NSFW). Thanks Ant.

Bethesda's Endless Summer Sighted

AusVGClassifications tweets about a new Australian Classification Board Listing for a game titled Endless Summer from Bethesda Softworks/Zenimax Media. There's not much to go on other than word that the game's MA15+ rating is based on "strong horror themes and violence," which may or may not relate to Bethesda's recent announcement of survival/horror game The Evil Within. Thanks Kotaku Australia.

E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy Free DLC

A DLC pack called E.Y.E: Blood Games is now available on Steam as a free download for owners of E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy, Streum On Studio's action/RPG/FPS (currently on sale). The E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy website has details on the update, which includes four new solo/co-op levels along with changes and bug fixes, along with this trailer showing off gameplay. Continue here to read the full story.

"Strong Possibility" Relic to Make Dawn of War 3

Eurogamer talks with Relic about the future of the Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War franchise, learning from game director Quinn Duffy that he believes Games Workshop will tap them for another installment in the RTS series: "There's a strong possibility we'll all be working together again on Dawn of War." Complicating this is uncertainty of who currently owns the rights to the Dawn of War computer games, as the article states they have not been able to get answers from Sega or Games Workshop on this, and that Duffy is not clear on this himself. "I'm still a bit fuzzy on that. There were certain properties that were attached to the sale of Relic initially, which was Company of Heroes, but not all of Relic's initial IP was part of that initial sale package," says Duffy. "Dawn of War, because it's a license and it's owned by Games Workshop, they have the opportunity to work that license with whoever they want. I would hope it would be us again. We had a great working relationship with Games Workshop. Sega is establishing one now with the fantasy license for Creative Assembly."

New Lionhead Head

Microsoft announces the appointment of John Needham a Studio Head of Lionhead, saying effectively immediately he will take responsibility for the day-to-day management of the studio, reporting into Phil Harrison, corporate veep of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (EMEA). They offer his résumé, but no promises of games that will change the way we experience our families or how we breathe, so we're not sure he's ready to fill the hyperbolic shoes of departed founder Peter Molyneux just yet. "This is a historic time in our industry and I’m excited, and honoured, to be joining Lionhead and Microsoft Studios," says Needham. "Our vision is focused on building innovative gaming services and AAA experiences at Lionhead, and the rest of Microsoft Studios, which take advantage of Microsoft’s incredible hardware and software platforms. Personally, I can’t wait to get started." Here's the rundown on Needham's background:

John has been a prominent figure in the video game industry since 2001. As the former CEO of both Cryptic Studios and, most recently, Gazillion Entertainment, John brings over twelve years of leadership, business development and financial experience in the entertainment and online gaming industries to the role. John’s deep understanding of all aspects of the gaming industry, from subscription-based, massively multi-player to client-based console and free-to-play online, PC and mobile experiences, will be a huge benefit to Lionhead and European Studio operations more widely. John has also served as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Operations, and CFO at Sony Online Entertainment (SOE); as a board member of Quark Games (publisher of over fifty Top 25 apps, with in excess of 40 million installs); and is a former member of the Gamestop Digital Advisory Council (US).

Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell

Eurogamer has comments on Splinter Cell: Blacklist from Ubisoft Toronto's Jade Raymond, who discusses how the series has "stayed with the most pure approach to that stealth experience" over the years. Though she doesn't come out and say the game is being simplified for its upcoming installment, she does comment that there is a feeling among the executives at Ubisoft (surely hardcore gamers) that the Splinter Cell video games could be more popular but for their complexity: "One of the things that held it back is despite all of the changes that have happened over the years, it's still one of the more complex and difficult games to play," she tells them. "Even though we do have core fans who are like, 'Oh, I want to have more of this experience,' when you play any other game that has stealth elements, they're all a lot more forgiving than Splinter Cell." She goes on to talk of a "broader" experience which can allow for more of an action/game experience:

"We brought back the purest hardcore version, which is, you want to ghost through the level and get through it without killing a single person. Every single thing you want to do you can do in a non-lethal way. That requires the most planning and being the most strategic.

"You can even play that in Perfectionist Mode, which means if you want you don't have any of the added things, such as Mark and Execute, that make it easier.

"That's for those who want to plan it out and feel really smart, and, 'I'm going to use the Sticky Cam with the Sleeping Gas and them I'm going to whistle and the guy's going to come,' and do the full set-up."

By default, though, Splinter Cell: Blacklist offers a more "fluid, modern play-style", Raymond explained, which helps Fisher navigate the 3D environments without the need for as much interaction on the part of the player.

"You can climb up, do 3D navigation and jump over things without thinking too much or pressing buttons," Raymond said.

"Sam does it automatically. The Killing in Motion, being able to Mark and Execute while moving through the map, makes it much more accessible to more of an action gamer."

Lost Spirits of Kael Trailer; Funding Campaign

The Rablogames website offers a trailer showing off Lost Spirits of Kael, an indie action/RPG coming to Windows PCs next year. The site also announces their crowd funding campaign is underway, but rather than conducting this through Indiegogo or Kickstarter, they are soliciting support for the project by selling its work-in-progress soundtrack on Band Camp. Here's word on the game, which is described as "a mix between Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls, in a hand-painted 2.5D world:"

Lost Spirits of Kael is an action-RPG with focus on atmosphere. You play the role of a young painter who has lost his inspiration and tries to get it back in the Forest of Kael. There, he meets a mysterious harpist who covers the forest with magical mist by playing her harp. Lost in this creepy forest covered with graves (but no zombies), he will have to find his way out. But the forest has mystical powers that makes finding one's way nearly impossible, and some of its inhabitants will try to stop him.

Continue here to read the full story.

Paypal vs. Skullgirls

A recent Indiegogo campaign raised over $800K for DLC for Skullgirls, Lab Zero Games' fighting game that's out on consoles and coming to Windows this summer. One of the twists here was allowing contributors to vote for new characters to include in the DLC, which lead to a complication, as NeoGAF has word from Lab Zero's CEO that he could not make his payroll payments because PayPal was withholding funds. EventHubs (thanks GamesBeat) notes that this was due to fear that the voting part of this could backfire and those unhappy with the outcome would rescind their donations: "Basically, they are terrified of chargebacks. If we spend all the money and don't deliver and everyone chargebacks, Paypal is concerned they will be on the line for it. So they are effectively treating it as a loan. I mean, the guy flat-out said, 'Until the threat of chargebacks has passed, Paypal is effectively financing your development'." PayPal has since released most of the funds, but is hanging onto $35K in walking around money just in case they have to make good on some paybacks. Thanks Develop.

Dark Quest Trailer

The Dark Quest website offers a debut gameplay trailer from Dark Quest, a turn-based RPG that looks inspired by the HeroQuest boardgame. Word is: "Dark Quest is a turned based fantasy role playing adventure game where players assume the role of a mighty barbarian on his epic quest to destroy the forces of the evil sorcerer and save the land from evil." The game is currently available for iOS, but a Steam Greenlight campaign is underway for a Windows edition. Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

What Games Are - Formalists and Zinesters- Why Formalism Is Not The Enemy. Thanks The Indie Mine.
What you will also find, however, is people who have been around the gaming block a few times. People who have seen this struggle over "what is a game" happen before. People for whom the idea of a game that uses permadeath to make a point is not startlingly original. People for whom the cleverness of character reversal and the notion of play as self-loathing, or games that demand to not be played, are ideas that they've seen before. People for whom the debate has little or nothing to do with their own sense of power and everything to do with trying to get to a better understanding. People to whom zinesters seem intent on repeating a very old mistake.

Gamasutra: Michael Kelley's Blog - The Evolution and Rediscovery of Play in America.
And now for my favorite example of gamification vs. no gamification; Stanford released a program in 2000 called Foldit@Home. It was a screensaver-slash-distributed-computing-network and how it worked was that when your computer's screensaver activated as a result of user inactivity, it downloaded a protein structure and started folding it and reported the results back to Stanford. It visually demonstrated the folding, it was brilliant, it remains today one of the largest, fastest computational systems in the world, and, as far as I know, in over a decade it has accomplished very little.

Now, in stark contrast, the University of Washington's Center for Game Science in collaboration w/ the University's Department of Biochemistry, developed an online puzzle video game about protein folding. A “score” is calculated according to how well-folded the protein is and boasts a very competitive leader board. Foldit's community of players helped to decipher the crystal structure of the Mason-Pfizer AIDS virus. American play accomplished in ten days a solution that stumped scientists for 15 years. Surely that was a fluke though, right? Well, a few months later the community re-engineered an enzyme that catalyzes the Diels-Alder reactions. Their re-engineered enzyme increased reactivity 18 fold.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • Antec Kuhler 1220 H20 Watercooling kit on RBMODS.
  • ASUS RT-AC66U Dual band (802.11ac) and USB-AC53 Dual band USB adapter on Benchmark Reviews.
  • CompuLab Intense PC System on AnandTech.
  • Enermax Triathlor 650W PSU on HARDOCP.
  • EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB SuperClocked Video Card Overclocked on TweakTown.
  • Fractal Design Define Mini Case on AnandTech.
  • GIGABYTE F2A85XM-HD3 on Vortez.
  • GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi Mini-ITX Motherboard on PC Perspective.
  • ICY DOCK 2.5in - 3.5in SATA DOCK with USB 3 and eSATA on Hardware Heaven.
  • Pivos Technology XIOS DS Media Play Smart TV Companion on Mad Shrimps.
  • ROCCAT LUA Tri-Button Gaming Mouse on Nikk Tech.
  • Sapphire Edge VS8 Mini PC on TechSpot.
  • Swiftech H220 Liquid CPU Cooler on eTeknix.
  • Thermaltake A 41 Chaser Chassis on eTeknix.
  • Thermaltake NiC C5 Untouchable Cool CPU Cooler on TweakTown.
  • XFX R7790 Black Edition OC 2 GB on techPowerUp.

etc.

Out of the Blue

The guys finally came to check out the furnace yesterday, which was welcome because it was down to 59 degrees in the house, which is not a hardship compared with some recent horror stories of storms leaving people with no heat in the dead of winter, but still not so much fun. The boiler is close to 35 years old, so the good news is that it still has some life in it, and it just needed a little tweaking to get going again. What's odd is that there seemed to be two simultaneous problems: A valve was stuck so there was no water pressure in the tank, and there was some dirt preventing the pilot from firing. The weird part is we are told that a unit this old has no failsafe against firing without any water to boil, which would end up ruining the furnace, so we are to believe that the pilot coincidentally went flaky just in time when the water stopped flowing to prevent such a scenario. That's certainly a weird coincidence, but the guy who told us this has loads of experience in the field, and this simple job involved charging us for just a one-hour service call, so it's not like he was trying to sell me on something, so I have no reason not to believe him.

Warm Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Clowns in the Face.
Stories: 'Futurama' not renewed.
NYC proposes raising age for cigarette purchases.
Media: "Thor: The Dark World" First Trailer. Thanks nin.
All teeth pulled instead of 3! Crazy dentist. Never use a dentist with OCD.
"Get Lucky" Michael Jackson edit. Thanks nin.
Auction: You Can Buy the Leica That Captured the Iconic Kiss in Times Square Picture.



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