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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

  

EA Dropping Licensed Firearms

Reuters reports on EA's plans to drop licensed guns from their video games, or more accurately the licensing part, as they still plan to include the guns without the licenses under the fair-use principle, quoting EA's Frank Gibeau saying "A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example." They say recent shootings and the NRA's attempts to shift blame for them onto the games industry did not factor into this, quoting EA spokesman Jeff Brown: "The response from our audience was pretty clear: they feel the comments from the NRA were a simple attempt to change the subject." They also note that there is currently a preliminary legal action between EA and Bell Helicopter over unlicensed helicopters in the Battlefield series, which Bell says is trademark infringement, and they suggest how the Bell case turns out may reflect on the legality of using the firearms as fair use. The article also states: "Legal experts say there isn't a single case so far where gun companies have sued video game companies for using branded guns without a license." Activision declined to comment when Reuters asked whether they were considering dropping gun licenses from the Call of Duty series.

Trials Evolution: Gold Edition Demo

A playable demo for Trials Evolution: Gold Edition is now available, providing a test ride of the Windows edition of RedLynx's motorcycle racing game. Steam offers a version of the demo on their service, and there's a downloadable edition available on Gamer's Hell. For those who enjoy the demo, they announce the full game will go on sale on Steam on May 9th for 25% off, so buying it before then would be imprudent.

Diablo III Patched

The Diablo III website announces the version 1.0.8 patch is now live for Diablo III in North America, adding promised co-op enhancements to Blizzard's action/RPG sequel. The new version also includes bug-fixes and class-specific balance changes, crafting changes, and perhaps most significantly, an increase in monster density in the 75% of the game previously ignored for farming due to the scarcity of opponents. They warn that global play will not be working properly again until all regions are updated to the new version.

GUN MONKEYS/GUN_MONKEYS Announced

BAFTA award-winning developer Size Five Games announces GUN MONKEYS (or GUN_MONKEYS, depending on which of their spellings you choose to believe), "a devastatingly-indie, procedurally–generated, physics-based, online deathmatch platform game" planned for release this summer for Windows, OS X, and Linux. "I needed a break from my next game, The Swindle," explains Size Five’s Chief Executive of Game Development, Dan Marshall. "I’d been working so hard on it for so long I was becoming frustrated, creatively. I decided to take a break and remake the very first game I ever made. The result, heavily tweaked, is GUN MONKEYS." Here's an announcement trailer (criminal use of intentional audio distortion warning), and here's the lowdown on the game:

In GUN MONKEYS, players take charge of a modern-day power company. In the distant future, a catastrophic experiment into Perpetual Energy obliterates all human life, leaving the world choc-full of free-for-the-taking energy. Your job is to send a legion of pleasingly-expendable monkeys forwards in time to collect Power Cubes and return them to present-day, all from the comfort of your PC. Sadly, it looks like one or two other entrepreneurs have had the exact same idea...

Continue here to read the full story.

EA Financials

Electronic Arts' Q4 FY13 and FY13 Financial Results are now public, offering the following crystal clear outlook on their business dealings for the quarter: "For the quarter, non-GAAP net revenue of $1,040 million was within our guidance of $1,025 million to $1,125 million. Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $0.55 was slightly below our guidance of $0.57 to $0.72." As for the year: "GAAP net revenue is expected to be approximately $3.50 billion. Non-GAAP net revenue is expected to be approximately $4.00 billion. GAAP diluted loss per share is expected to be approximately ($0.97). Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share is expected to be approximately $1.20." They also offer a handy list of highlights:

  • EA was the #1 publisher in Western retail markets in the March quarter, and the #1 global publisher in the iOS game market for FY 2013.
  • Battlefield 3™ Premium generated over $120 million* in revenue through the March quarter, and has over 3.5 million subscriptions to date.
  • SimCity™ sold through over 1.6 million units since launching in March, with approximately 50% of sales in the form of digital downloads.
  • FIFA 13 sold through over 14.5 million units in FY 2013, approximately a 30% increase versus FIFA 12 in the prior year.
  • FIFA 13 digital net revenue topped $200 million* in FY 2013, a 94% increase versus FIFA 12 in the prior year.
  • Total FIFA digital net revenue generated nearly $350 million* in FY 2013, including EA SPORTS™ FIFA Online and FIFA World Class Soccer.
  • The Simpsons™: Tapped Out was a top-5 grossing iOS game in the March quarter, generating almost $10 million* in digital net revenue in the month of March, and totaling almost $50 million* since launching in August.
  • Real Racing™ 3, the #1 racing title on iOS, has generated more than 30 million downloads, and has averaged over 2.5 million daily active users since launching in March.
  • EA's games and services for mobile and handheld digital revenue generated $104 million* in the quarter, a 21%* year-over-year increase in digital net revenue.
  • EA's Origin™ platform for downloading digital games and services has registered over 47 million users, including 20 million mobile users.
    Trailing twelve-month non-GAAP digital net revenue was up 36% to a record $1.7 billion*.
  • Trailing twelve-month operating cash flow was $324 million, a $47 million improvement versus the prior year.
  • EA will develop and publish new Star Wars titles for fans across the most popular gaming genres and platforms.

The Showdown Effect Free DLC

The Showdown Effect website announces the release of a new free update for The Showdown Effect, adding "Western Stages, Espionage and Sci-fi Characters, and Terrifying Hats" to Arrowhead Game Studios' action movie-inspired multiplayer action game. Here's a trailer showing off the new content, and here's word:

In today’s update players receive two new levels, South Eastwood and Fort Fiesta, inspired by classic ‘spaghetti Western’ films – with an unhealthy dose of 1980s monster movies mashed into the mix. The levels are available for free and will be immediately available to pick in both ranked and custom matches. Players will also meet two new characters: Thelma Vaine, British super-spy with a cloaking device and a sharp tongue – and Dr. Johnny Bionic, a cyborg who must fight every day to keep his drill-saw-arm from murdering all humans. These characters, plus a series of Reddit costume pieces, can be redeemed for free using in-game AC. An additional set of Western costume pieces can be purchased for a fistful of dollars.

Card Hunter Revealed

Kotaku has a write-up with details on Card Hunter, a web-based mash-up of a dungeon crawler and collectible card game from Blue Manchu, a new developer formed by Joe McDonagh and Jon Chey, veterans of Irrational Games and the BioShock series. The game has the unusual setting of a tabletop gaming session. They have details on how this works, here's just a bit: "The twist is in how your characters move and deploy abilities. Rather than a set number of preset moves with some timed magic recharges/stamina/mana points, each character has a deck of Magic: The Gathering-style ability cards. As you begin the game, each character draws a "hand" of four cards from his or her respective deck. Those cards represent the actions you can take."

Spicy Horse's Oz Game Plans?

Though Spicy Horse Games currently seems optimistic they will secure the Alice IP from EA to Kickstart a third game in the series, they apparently also have a plan b in place for a new game based on L. Frank Baum's Oz series. In a thread about their Alice ambitions on Facebook, a fan suggests "that Oz title instead, as Spicy Horse founder had an Oz game in the works a decade ago, but that project died when Infogrames (now Atari) pulled their support. The suggestion of the Oz game met with word that such a project is already happening to some degree: "It's already in the works." Joystiq followed up on this, speaking with Spicy Horse Community Manager Kelly Heckman saying this is in such early stages a genre has not yet been decided. She also indicates this is not the same game that was cancelled in 2004. "This is not, in any way, shape or form, the title from 2004," Heckman tells Joystiq. "It will be based on the entire Oz series – almost all 14 titles – so expect to see unique things not seen in previous incarnations."

Schein Demo and Trailer

This trailer offers a one-level pitch video for Schein, a puzzle platformer developer Zeppelin Studio is looking to fund through Indiegogo and get approved by Steam Greenlight. In short: "In Schein light is the key to everything: Defeat deadly beasts, solve tricky puzzles and uncover hidden paths through the murky swamp." This page offers a "Dev-Demo," which is currently at version 0.3.3, but will apparently not be for long, as they explain: "This Dev-Demo is different from a regular demo, because it will be constantly updated in the course of our development. That way you can see how Schein evolves and improves." Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Evening Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Interviews

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

  • The Rawbots Kickstarter looks to fund a multiplayer sandbox robot crafting game that looks like a lot of fun…

Into the Black

Ubisoft Fires Désilets

Patrice Désilets is no longer part of Ubisoft (again), as reported on Kotaku, where they quote Ubisoft making this sound like a fairly amicable split based on creative differences, and quote Désilets saying he was fired, and he intends to fight the situation. Désilets was Creative Director for the Assassin's Creed series before leaving Ubisoft in 2010, going on to sign with THQ, though he would have to wait for a non-compete clause to expire to join the new THQ Montreal studio (spending some of the idle time poachng old colleagues). Patrice then joined THQ, only to find himself drawn back in Michael Corelone-style when Ubisoft acquired THQ Montreal. This brings us to today, and Ubisoft's statement to Kotaku explains the company and Désilets didn't see eye-to-eye on his role, and sort of implies the parting was a mutual decision: "Unfortunately, since the acquisition, the good faith discussions between Patrice and Ubisoft aimed at aligning Patrice’s and the studio’s visions have been inconclusive. As a result, Patrice has left the studio." Their statement from the designer takes a slightly less diplomatic tone:

Contrary to any statements made earlier today, this morning I was terminated by Ubisoft. I was notified of this termination in person, handed a termination notice and was unceremoniously escorted out of the building by two guards without being able to say goodbye to my team or collect my personal belongings.

This was not my decision.

Ubisoft’s actions are baseless and without merit. I intend to fight Ubisoft vigorously for my rights, for my team and for my game.

Steamships Ahoy - Tomb Raider: Shipwrecked

Square Enix announces the Shipwrecked map pack is now available for Tomb Raider on Windows PCs and last-generation consoles to add new multiplayer content to the recently released action/adventure reboot. The Windows edition is available on Steam where they are also selling new Demolition, Mountaineer, and Sure-Shot skins, continuing to leave untold sums of money on the table by withholding the skin skin. The two maps in the Shipwrecked pack are Lost Fleet, where a "massive beached ship serves as a dangerous battleground filled with twists, turns, and traps," and Himiko’s Cradle, in which: "Danger lurks around every corner in this mountain top shrine. The area is sacred to the scavengers and will be your final resting place if you are not careful."

Saints Row 4 Meet the President Trailer

A new trailer from Saints Row 4 allows us to "Meet the President," introducing "a commander in chief willing to kick politics right in the balls." The clip shows Volition's upcoming action sequel features a POTUS who'd meet with the approval of America's most beloved ass-kicking leaders, Teddy Roosevelt, Harrison Ford, and Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Continue here to read the full story.

Wolfenstein: The New Order Announced

Bethesda Softworks announces Wolfenstein: The New Order, revealing that a new installment in id Software's seminal shooter series was the subject of their teasing yesterday, saying the game is coming to PCs as well as next-generation and last-generation (I'm working on spreading a new buzzphrase) consoles by the end of this year. They call the new game a "reimagining of this franchise," an "action-adventure" shooter in development at MachineGames, the Swedish developer formed by StarBreeze veterans that Bethesda acquired in 2010, so a tip of the hat goes to Polygon for getting the details right about this in a rumor they reported a couple of months ago. "We are excited to bring a new chapter of Wolfenstein to gamers everywhere," said Jens Matthies, creative director at MachineGames. "As fans of the series, working on this game is an honor, and our team is driven to create an unforgettable action-adventure experience that will make FPS fans proud." Their announcement actually holds back the details to kiss a little GameSpot butt, as GameSpot has an announcement trailer and say they will be posting details all this week. Here's what they have on the game's setting:

The New Order is set in 1960 after the Nazis won World War II. Gamers play as the familiar American war hero B.J. Blazkowicz and are tasked with launching an "impossible counter-offensive" against the Nazi powers that have taken over the world.

Set in Europe, The New Order will have players infiltrating Nazi strongholds and battling legions of enemies, while taking control of "super weapons" that the Nazis have used to dominate earth--"and beyond," Bethesda teased.

U.K. Sales Charts

The GfK Chart-Track listing of the 20 bestselling full-priced PC games in the U.K. is now online, a day later than usual. The Sims 3 makes a return to number one, with SimCity dropping to number three on a chart that's 40% Sims games. On the all-platforms chart things are pretty static, with Dead Island: Riptide retaining the top spot.

Death to Spies 3 Fundraiser

A new Indiegogo campaign is underway for Death to Spies 3, a third installment in this Smershy stealth/action series (thanks Jason) This sequel was announced a few years ago, but the campaign explains this was dropped by their publisher, so they are turning to the community to see if there is enough support to see it through. They offer a look at the previously released GamesCom 2011 trailer showing the game's late '50s/early '60s Cold War setting. Here's word on the game:

In this game you play as a group of three soviet agents during the period of the Cuban missile crisis. It's a stealth based game, where you have to be quiet to successfully finish your mission. Each character of your group has each own abilities and gadgets that can help in your tasks. You got some form of a freedom to complete each mission - with one or all three members of your group. It's like the mix of some Hitman and Commandos series.

City of Steam Open Beta Next Week

Mechanist Games sends word they've been rethinking their recent announcement about beta testing of City of Steam starting next week, saying while this was announced as an "early access" testing, it will be an open beta, as they say "we’ve dropped the early access part with keys and all that for a few different reasons," the most significant being the need for a proper stress-test of the steampunk online RPG's infrastructure. They say the beta will begin at 10:00 pm EDT on May 10th, and those interested should register on this page. Here's word on where this all stands:

So, now that you’ve heard about what we’ve changed, we’d like to talk about a few things. As you may already know, this Beta will start off with 3 classes and 4 (human) races and we’ll continuously release more races and the 4th class (Channeler) over time when we’re closer to the actual release of the game. As for the energy system, it’s to incentivize people to look at all the content and to counteract botters/farmers. As Dave has already mentioned in the forums, we’ll also be implementing PVP to Wilderness zones soon, so people who want to get their open world PVP groove on will be able to do that soon as well.

All in all a lot has changed since Closed Beta. We’re looking forward to you all playing the game and giving us feedback on what you like and dislike and all the new features. We’ve also got quite an aggressive development schedule, with continuous updates over the following weeks. As this is still Beta we’re of course also still in the process of balancing combat and the games’ difficulty, so please tell us if you think the game “feels right” in both PVE and PVP!

Jagged Alliance: Flashback Advisory Boards

Danish developer Full Control announces further measures they are taking to ensure Jagged Alliance: Flashback stays true to the Jagged Alliance series, as they continue their attempt to Kickstart a continuation of the franchise. Word is they've added Chris Camfield, a veteran of Jagged Alliance 2 development, to an advisory board, and they have also started an advisory team of modders. "We are extremely excited to have Chris on board as an advisor. He is able to not only answer how things were implemented, but why," said Thomas Hentschel Lund, CEO of Full Control. "We are able to get a much deeper understanding of the inner workings of Jagged Alliance 2 in addition to the insights that Chris and the Sir-tech team had during development on Jagged Alliance 3. And now in actively collaborating with established modders we're making sure that Flashback will support modding from day 1 in the best possible way." Here's word:

Copenhagen, May 7th - Full Control, a Danish development studio currently running the Kickstarter to make a Jagged Alliance: Flashback, a prequel to the Jagged Alliance series, today announced that Chris Camfield has joined the advisory board for their project. Chris was responsible for co-designing and implementing the classic Jagged Alliance 2 games, as well as leading design in the unreleased Jagged Alliance 3.

Additionally, Full Control has established an advisory team of community modders to advise and co-design the modding support options for Flashback. Currently this team includes R@S, creator of the Blue Sun Mod for 7.62 - High Calibre and DepressivesBrot from the 1.13-Crew. Full Control is in active talks with additional high profile modders to expand the advisory team even more.

Son of Nor Kickstarter Trailer

This trailer from Son of Nor offers a controls and game mechanics walkthrough showing off magic and telekinesis in this upcoming single-player/co-op action/adventure game to help generate interest in the Kickstarter stillalive studios is conducting to support the project. "The power of terraforming is a real driving force within our game development, allowing us to open up the environment to the players to control and manipulate to help solve puzzles and fight enemies." Said Julian Mautner, founder of stillalive studios. "The magic elements have also allowed us to make the game play incredibly open and personal. Players can combine elements such as telekinesis and magic, either in single player mode or when playing co-op to win otherwise unwinnable battles and open otherwise off limits areas." The funding effort is currently a bit over 25% complete with over three weeks remaining to raise the $150K needed to complete the game. Here's an overview:

Son of Nor is a 3rd person action adventure game set in a desert world where human kind is on the brink of extinction at the hands of the Sarahul; an evil race of reptilian creatures bent on the destruction of human civilisation. Players become humanity´s last hope for survival in an epic struggle to hold back the Sarahul hordes and change the destiny of the entire planet.

In Son of Nor, players command unique force abilities with which they must fight, solve puzzles and ultimately stay alive. These abilities include telekinesis, powerful magic spells and terraforming; manipulation of the game world itself, something that has not been seen to this level before in a video game!

If Son of Nor is successfully funded through Kickstarter, the team anticipate a release in Q2, 2014.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

  • World of Warships on Blue's News. The game formerly known as World of Battleships.

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Our experiment with a new ad provider does not seem to have worked out, those notices about weird mobile redirects was followed by some other warnings about dodgy sites, so their ad code has been replaced with code known to be reliable, if not particularly productive. My apologies for the situation, which went on longer than it should have, as it seemed like it was being worked out all along the way. This should be sorted now, so please let me know immediately if it isn't.

Sorted Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Feed Me Moar.
Links: The Onion’s Tips On How To Prevent Your Major Media Site From Being Hacked.
Stories: Bill Clinton tried to broker Led Zeppelin reunion.
Newly Declassified Memo Shows CIA Shaped Zero Dark Thirty's Narrative.
Science: Scientists' hope for HIV cure. Thanks Cutter.
Images: One Megabyte - aww.
Media: SNL - Game of Thrones Trivia - Zach Galifianakis.
Watch a Sand Storm From the Top of the Tallest Building in the World. Thanks brother19.
Top 20 Window Jumps. NSFW.
Follow-Up: Meet the thousands of people ready to die on Mars.



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