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Saturday, May 11, 2013

  

Incredible Machine-inspired Contraption Maker Announced

A Contraption Maker website is online, heralding development of Contraption Maker, a sandbox puzzle game that's a spiritual successor to the Incredible Machine from Spotkin, a developer that includes members of the original Incredible Machine team from Dynamix. We have some screenshots showing off the Rube Goldberg-inspired gameplay, and they say Windows and OS X gamers will get the opportunity to play the game this summer when an early alpha access program will launch. Here's word:

Solve puzzles involving ridiculous chain reactions full of hamster motors, trampolines, alligators, cats, and so much more. Then go to the powerful Maker Lab, where you can create your own contraptions. Everything you loved about the original game is back and improved with a new physics engine, high definition art, and new parts and programmability.

Diablo III Auction Houses Return

The Diablo III website announces the Diablo III auction houses are back online after an exploit allowed some players to duplicate enormous amounts of gold, though they also note that one needed billions of gold to do this, and in the end only 415 of the game's well-heeled illuminati took part in the duping. Blizzard clarifies that while they did not roll back everyone's progress, the accounts of some of the perpetrators of this game fraud have been rolled back and that accounts have been suspended or banned based on their activity. Word is that 85% of the duplicated gold has now been removed from the game, they expect to get more of it going forward, and that the proceeds of the sketchy auctions will be going to charity:

What Does That Mean for Me?

Soon after the exploit was discovered, we contemplated doing a complete rollback, as was suggested by a number of players here in the forums.

The vast majority of players did not participate in the exploit and we didn't like the idea of punishing them for the bad behavior of a few people. A rollback would mean bringing the servers down for a lengthy period and a loss of all progression since 1.0.8 was released. Many players made significant accomplishments in the game that required time and dedication, and we felt it was worth the work involved to try to preserve these efforts and go after the exploiters instead.

With this in mind, we elected not to roll back the servers in The Americas and are instead working to remove duplicated gold from the economy through targeted audits and account actions (as indicated above) without taking away progress that our players rightfully earned.

As of this this post, we have already recaptured more than 85% of the excess gold from the accounts involved, and over the days ahead we will continue to pore over our audit data to reclaim as much duplicate currency as possible. We've also done a full audit of our code to help make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.

So, What's Next?

Many people bought and sold items and gold on the Auction House on Tuesday. We're making sure that all legitimate transactions go through. This means that if your account was not involved in the exploit, you will get to keep your items and gold, as well as any money you received from sales on the real-money Auction House. We'll also be donating all proceeds from auctions conducted by the suspended or banned players—including all of THEIR sale proceeds that we intercepted as well as our transaction fee—to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

On The XCOM Shooter's Evolution

A feature on IGN Video takes a look at The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and how this shooter based on the XCOM series has evolved since it was first announced and it had a different title and focus. Or, as they put it: "How the new XCOM spin-off went from a first-person horror game to a tactical third-person shooter." This includes developer commentary and footage of the game, both then and now. Thanks Finn. Continue here to read the full story.

Shadow of the Eternals and "Donations"

Polygon examines the implications of the terms under which "donations" are being accepted to fund Shadow of the Eternals, the upcoming spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem from Precursor Games, the spiritual successor to Silicon Knights. They note the company being in Canada is the obstacle to using Kickstarter, and explain the pledge system being used, and what it does and does not offer to donors:

The pledge system, which is managed directly by Precursor Games and collects money through PayPal, includes a number of specific conditions outlined in the site's terms of service including the fact that all money given to the studio are "strictly donations and are not consideration for any services or product," and that donations will be accepted immediately upon receipt, unlike Kickstarter, which only accepts funds if a funding goal is reached.

"A donation cannot be cancelled or returned once it has been completed, whether or not Precursor Games completes the game or fulfills the specified reward," it reads.

The website's FAQ states that the financial goal is a "flexible one" and "if it becomes apparent that we cannot raise enough to develop this project then we will refund all pledges."

Saturday Interviews

On Sale

Thanks Acleacius.

  • EA Bundles on Gamefly. Save up to 80% and 15% more with code from Dealzon.
  • Rockstar Games on Amazon. Save 50% and get a $5.00 credit.
  • Tomb Raider on Amazon.com. Save 25%.
  • Torchlight II on Steam. Save 66%.

Saturday Previews

Saturday Consolidation

Saturday Mobilization

Saturday Metaverse

Saturday Safety Dance

Saturday Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Man, I got an emergency alert on my phone a bit ago, as the heavy rains around here have triggered a flash flood warning. We weren't really planning on this when we headed out pretty early today for supplies for a cookout tomorrow, but that's worked out pretty well, because I think they were onto something with this flood stuff... it's a scene out there.

Scenic Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: New Splitter Pals.
Stories: Bike lanes led to 49% increase in retail sales.
Movie theater publicity stunt triggers police response. Thanks brother19.
Science: MIT-trained engineers building flying hybrid car TF-X.
Media: My First Crowbar - Half Life Controller.
Future First Person Shooter - Real Life Call of Duty MW4 + Battlefield 4 +
Auction: Rare Video Game Manual Fetches Over $1,000 In Auction.
The Funnies: ActionTrip Comic Strip: EA's Star Wars Library.

Friday, May 10, 2013 Happy Whacking Day (Springfield)

Defiance Renewed

Syfy announces it has renewed Defiance for a second season, saying the MMO tie-in will return next year:

New York, NY – May 10, 2013 – Syfy has renewed its groundbreaking series Defiance, giving a 13-episode second season order to the critically acclaimed hit that has catapulted Syfy to the top cable drama spot in the time period among adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and total viewers for three consecutive Mondays. Season two of Defiance, produced by Universal Cable Productions, will begin production in Toronto in August for a 2014 premiere, returning as the anchor of Syfy’s Powerful Monday’s block of primetime original series.

Redefining the transmedia experience, Defiance has distinguished itself with an unprecedented partnership between Syfy and Trion Worlds, by creating the first-ever true convergence of television and online gaming. To date, the game has garnered more than 1 million registered accounts while making gaming history as the first online open world shooter to launch on three platforms simultaneously. As the collaboration between show and game continue into a second season, players will have the opportunity to further influence the world of Defiance.

Watch_Dogs Free-Roaming Footage

A video preview on IGN offers a look at free-roaming gameplay in Watch_Dogs/Watch Dogs, showing off the open-world aspects of the hacking game. They demonstrate the kind of off-mission mischief the player can get into, and take two separate opportunities to tout the game's superiority on "next-generation" consoles, so take two shots if you're playing the next-gen drinking game. There's a similar clip on Hardware Heaven that concludes with a developer interview discussing the game (this may be a tough listen, as the studio part is a bit harsh, while the interview suffers from horrible background noise).

Shadow of the Eternals Video

A new video offers over nine minutes of cinematic and gameplay footage from Shadow of the Eternals, Precursor Games' upcoming Eternal Darkness spiritual successor. This includes some previously released scenes, all presented with in-game sound for the full experience. Thanks GamesHQMedia.

Half-Life 2 Oculus Rift Support

The Oculus Rift Developer Forums announce official support for Oculus Rift is now available in a new Half-Life 2 beta, enhancing the virtual reality of Valve's shooter sequel. Word is: "This port is a bit more raw than TF2 was when it shipped, so we would appreciate hearing about any bugs you find. Just like in TF2 this mode is experimental, so we really want to hear what you think." Thanks Polygon.

Energy Hook Kickstarter

This Kickstarter seeks to fund a game called Energy Hook from Happion Laboratories, a game from the creator of the highly regarded web-swinging in the Spider-Man 2 game that follows a somewhat similar principle of navigating a city with a sky hook of sorts. The project is already funded, but that was easy, since it began with a goal of one dollar, as the developer admits he will finish the game no matter what, but he also really needs the money. The project has now hit its first stretch goal of $10,000. Thanks nin.

The Sims 3 Dragon Valley

The Sims 3 website announces the chance to get in touch with your inner Khaleesi at the end of this month with the release of The Sims 3 Dragon Valley:

Nestled in a distant valley lies a mythical town straight out of tales of lore. Travelers journeying to Dragon Valley will discover a village full of towering and fantastical architecture resting along the banks of a gently flowing river and low-rising hills. Visitors will find a world inhabited by colorful elven Sims deeply rooted in centuries-old traditions, and where baby dragons not only exist amongst the residents, but are also kept as pets.

Available on the Sims 3 Store on May 30, 2013, and in stores worldwide starting August 6, 2013.

Learn more about Dragon Valley

Join the conversation

Watch the teaser trailer here

Evening Interviews

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

I'm off to carouse tonight. Hide your Scotch!

Borderlands 2 Weekend Events

Gearbox Software announces that they are gearing up for next week's release of the Krieg the Psycho character in Borderlands 2 with special in-game events between now and then. They don't specify what these are other than to mention increased drops and some heavier enemy populations:

Prepare for the arrival of Krieg the Psycho -- the new playable character for Borderlands 2, releasing May 14 -- with special in-game events from May 10 through the end of May 13!

The Bandits of Pandora can feel one of their own approaching and have ramped up the production of Bandit gear accordingly, so expect to see an increase in Bandit gear drops when playing Borderlands 2 while connected to the internet. But watch out! Reports suggest an increased population of Badass Psychos in Lynchwood, Thousand Cuts and Eridium Blight.

To learn more about Krieg, check out the hands-on previews at Game Informer, Rev3, DLCentral, NBC News and IGN as well as tune in to the 2K and Gearbox livestream on Monday, May 13 at 3PM CT (What time is that for me?) at twitch.tv/2k

Sun Setting on Silicon Knights?

Our mixed metaphor headline comes from a report on Polygon saying Too Human developer Silicon Knights is down to its last few employees as they have closed down operations. Sources tell them the studio laid off most of its staff last summer, and has now closed its office and sold off its remaining assets. Their attempts to contact the studio by phone have failed, and they believe the company's main number has been disconnected, though CFO Mike Mays tells Polygon that the few remaining employees are "very busy" and the studio is "definitely alive." Silicon Knights' fate was sealed about a year ago when Epic Games won a $4.45 million award from the company in a dispute over Unreal Engine support in a lawsuit that was actually initiated by Silicon Knights. Polygon notes that many of the company's assets were sold to Precursor Games, founded by former Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack, a move that has inspired scrutiny from Epic, in spite of that not seeming fishy in the least. Precursor Games is currently attempting a Shadow of the Eternals Fundraiser for a spiritual successor to Silicon Knights' Eternal Darkness. Polygon quotes a Canadian bankruptcy attorney saying Silicon Knights has not filed for bankruptcy.

Road Redemption Funded

The Kickstarter campaign for Road Redemption shows this Road Rash-inspired motorcycle combat racing game from DarkSeas Games has surpassed its $160K funding goal with a couple of days to spare. Following the road less travelled, the game is coming to Windows next August, followed by a WiiU edition, and if the game raises about $18,000 more, the stretch goal for an Xbox 360 edition will be triggered, with a goal for Oculus Rift support looming after that. "We’d like to give a huge thanks to all of Road Redemption’s backers for making this possible, and for helping us spread awareness. Road Redemption has been our dream project for over a decade, and we’re so excited that we can now devote our full time towards finishing it," says project spokesperson Claire Fontenot. "We’d also like to thank Road Rash Co-Creator Dan Geisler for all of his support as we’ve tried to raise development funds."

SimCity Patched

The SimCity Blog has details on a new version 3.0 update that's now live in Maxis' urban planning reboot (thanks VG247). A point release implies significant changes, but the highlight of this is two dozen new hotels, and the patch is mostly tweaks and bug-fixes. Here are the patch notes:

  • New: Added 24 new hotel models to increase hotel variety.
  • Traffic: Updated routing system to improve traffic. Routing system now understands more information about u-turns, required vehicle stops, and vehicle behavior on certain road types. This should make traffic smarter.
  • Traffic: Commercial and industrial buildings stagger their work shifts to start throughout commute hours instead of at the top of the hour. This should reduce traffic.
  • Traffic: Fixes one issue where a car won't move causing traffic to back up behind it.
  • Traffic: Vehicles can now make right turns on Red. This should improve some cases of traffic.

Continue here to read the full story.

World of Tanks Lawsuit

Wargaming is suing Chinese companies Changyou.com Limited and Beijing Gamease Age Digital Technology seeking damages and an injunction over a game called Project Tank (aka Tanks Ground War) that's currently in closed beta, saying the game is "disturbingly similar" to their World of Tanks. According to Polygon, the companies "copied the plot, theme, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, and character of World of Tanks, in addition to copying specific features, items, tanks, and artwork." There's a statement from the "Project Tank Team" on GameBox saying: "Continuously sabotaged by Wargaming, Project Tank and Gamebox have never intended to pose a threat or compete at any platform with World of Tanks. The graphics used in Project Tank are our efforts to reconstruct WWII battle scenes. We feel truly shocked and bullied by Wargaming, a giant company of the gaming industry who is apparently “threatened” by a closed beta phase browser game aiming to provide a cheaper, fairer, and more accessible war game to players around the world." Wargaming counters this: "Copying is evidenced by the fact that the designers of Project Tank copied historical inaccuracies found in WoT, each of which does not affect game play, but which was included in WoT to simplify the tank modeling and rendering process," Polygon's quotes the complaint as saying. "Copying is further evidenced by the fact that the designers of Project Tank copied tanks from WoT that never existed in real life, and which included features original to WoT."

Cognition Episode 3 Next Week

Phoenix Online Studios announces Cognition Episode 3 will be released next week for Windows and OS X. Here's a new teaser video, and here's word: "When Cognition Episode 3: The Oracle debuts for PC and Mac next Thursday, May 16, Erica finally closes in on the serial killer who's been hiding cryptic clues at crime scenes and going after her friends. But first, her post-cognitive powers are put to the test as she steps into the Oracle's shoes. In this exciting episode, you'll play as both Erica AND the killer, reliving the past in graphic detail to understand why this person turned to murder and why Erica's a target."

Jagged Alliance: Flashback Trailer

A new trailer from Jagged Alliance: Flashback (currently in the middle of its Kickstarter campaign) answers the potentially burning question of "What is Jagged Alliance," though it's hard to imagine anyone watching the clip who actually needs that answered. Digressions aside, here's the description of the clip: "In this video, Thomas Hentschel Lund - CEO of Full Control, gives a brief rundown of what the classic Jagged Alliance games had that made them interesting to revive now almost 15 years later. He also touches upon what the Kickstarter for Jagged Alliance: Flashback is about in the context of the classic games."

The Forest Trailer

This trailer shows off gameplay from The Forest, a first-person, open-world survival/horror game in the works at SKS Games, a Vancouver studio formed by special effects artists who have worked on films like 300 and TRON Legacy. They say an alpha version of the game is expected this year, and the video, in which it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees, calls the footage it includes "pre-alpha." The game is seeking Steam Greenlight support, and here's why they feel it's worth your vote from The Forest website:

The world
Enter a living, breathing forest with changing weather patterns, plants that grow and die. Tides that roll in and out with the day/night cycle. Below ground explore a vast network of caves and underground lakes.

Complete player freedom
Chop down trees to build a camp, or start a fire to keep warm. Scavenge food to keep yourself from starving. Find and plant seeds to grow food.

Build a small shelter or a large ocean side fortress. decorate your home with found items. Lay traps and defenses to keep a safe perimeter.

Gameplay
Explore and build during the day. Defend your base at night. Craft weapons and tools.Bunker down during the evening or bring the fight directly to the enemy.

Fight or Hide
Use stealth to evade enemies, or engage them directly with crude weapons built from sticks and stones.

A new type of open world, survival horror experience
Defend yourself against a clan of genetic mutant enemies that have beliefs, families and morals and that appear almost human.

Morning Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Just took possession of a new meat tenderizing mallet as a new addition to Manstovia, so I will no longer have to abuse the bottom of a skillet for such chores. The unfortunate side effect is that I keep making jokes about pounding my meat. Happy Whacking Day! I'm sooooooo mature.

Mature Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Alien Anarchy.
Links: The Onion's Online Banking Security Guide. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Science: “Vaccine” against heroin keeps it out of the brain.
Plants 'talk' to plants to help them grow.
Images: Nerd King Stabs Link and Steals Zelda Away. Annotations make everything better. Thanks nin.
Media: Comedy boy-band extols virtues of indie games. NSFW (and awesome).
Better Names for Things.
This Video Of One Half-Second Of High Frequency Trading Is Insane, Terrifying.
Let Go of My Stick.
Follow-Up: I have some happy news - The Oatmeal. Tesla museum saved. Thanks nin.
The Funnies: Dilbert.
Brevity.



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