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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

  

Ubisoft Financials

Ubisoft announces the release of financial results (Adobe Acrobat format) for their fiscal year 2013, saying their numbers for the year are "at the upper end of the recently-raised target ranges." They report annual sales are up 18% to €1,256 million and non-IFRS operating income is up 79% to €100 million. The results include perspective from Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot:

"In 2012-13 our financial performance outstripped the targets that we had announced a year ago, notably with non-IFRS operating income up 79% and higher-than-expected cash generation. The expertise and talent of our teams enabled Ubisoft to manage the year’s difficult market conditions and the drop in the casual segment remarkably well. In addition, the success of Far Cry 3 confirmed our strong comeback in the major segment of shooter games.” Guillemot continued "We began fiscal 2012-13 with two major franchises: Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance. Twelve months later, we have substantially extended our reach by establishing Far Cry as another major franchise, building upon the great potential for our newest brand, Watch Dogs, and making our online/digital segment an increasingly significant part of our business. The steady rise in our operating and financial performance during the last three years is the direct result of the longterm investments we have made, with the continued development of our creative capacity and the bolstering of our expertise in online activities.”

1666 "Suspended"

IGN has word from Ubisoft's post-earnings conference call that the game codenamed 1666, which Ubi acquired as part of the breakup of THQ, is no longer in development. Last week Ubisoft fired Patrice Désilets, who was thought to be the designer on the unannounced game, and today CEO Yves Guillemot dropped the other shoe on the project, revealing development has entered the sort of limbo that can be very difficult to escape, saying: "we have suspended project 1666 for an undisclosed period of time."

Ships Ahoy - Sanctum 2

Coffee Stain Studios announces the release of Sanctum 2 for Windows PC and Xbox 360, offering a sequel to their tower-defense/first-person shooter hybrid (the game is coming to the PlayStation Network "in the coming weeks." The launch trailer shows off a little over a minute of gameplay. "We built Sanctum 2 from the ground up, creating stunning visuals while keeping everything that players loved from the original," said Anton Westberg, CEO of Coffee Stain Studios. "We then added more characters, more enemies, more bosses, more levels, more weapons and more towers to make Sanctum 2 bigger, better and badder than we ever imagined." Here's a description of the game:

In Sanctum 2 players take on the role of an elite soldier whose mission is to protect the oxygen-producing Cores from hordes of deadly aliens who are threatened by their existence. Utilizing key elements of both tower-defense and first-person shooter genres, players set up defensive towers to take out the waves of attacking enemies and then jump head-on into the fray, either alone or as part of a squad in four-player co-op multiplayer.

Ships Ahoy - Anomaly 2

11 bit studios announces the release of Anomaly 2, saying the tower offense vs. tower defense sequel is now available for Windows, OS X, and Linux on anomaly2game.com and Steam, with each site offering a 10% launch discount, while the former also providing a free copy of Anomaly Korea for Windows (for the first time on the platform) as an additional bonus with each purchase. Here's a new launch trailer and here's word:

From Warsaw, Poland-based 11 bit studios, Anomaly 2 features an exciting single-player campaign that transports you to a bleak, frozen Earth, overrun by the alien anomalies. Humanity has been nearly wiped out, and you'll need to use all the tools at your disposal -- tactical planning, a wide range of units featuring brand new morph modes, the commander's support abilities and quick thinking -- to take back our planet from the alien scum. Anomaly 2 also introduces the unique tower offense vs. tower defense multiplayer mode, testing your wits and skill in intense one-on-one battles.

Continue here to read the full story.

Diablo III XP Boost

The Diablo III website announces that to celebrate today's first anniversary of Diablo III they are rewarding all players by allowing them to play the game less:

One year ago today, the gates of the Burning Hells opened and Diablo III was unleashed onto the world. Since then, millions of heroes have been created, billions of hours have been spent in games, and trillions of demons have been slaughtered without mercy. We've grown and improved a lot since release, both as a game team and as a community, and thanks to your feedback, passion, and unquenchable bloodlust, we expect the next year to be even more epic.

To celebrate this milestone and the community that made it possible, we're giving away free buffs! (Who doesn't like free buffs?) Players who log in to defend Sanctuary between May 15 and May 21 will receive a 25% boost to their Magic Find and +EXP stats. The buff is only available while logged in to the game, but it will apply to all characters as well as stack with other similar bonuses -- the +EXP bonus will stack multiplicatively and the Magic Find bonus will stack above the 300% cap!

On Metro: Last Light Development

An article on GamesIndustry International written by Jason Rubin has the outlook on development of the just-released Metro: Last Light from the man saddled with the (ultimately futile) chore of trying to rescue THQ, the now-defunct company that was to publish the game. He talks about the obstacles that the project was forced to overcome, including a meager budget, a workspace smaller than EA's gym, and a need to smuggle equipment into the Ukraine. Here's his explanation of his motives for his missive: "It is a true testament to the raw skill and potential of the team. Ultimately, it is a desire for the recognition of 4A's talent that drove me to write this. You may know that I have a history of talking about developer recognition. These guys need recognition."

Jagged Alliance Online Steam Changes

Cliffhanger Productions sends along an explanation of how Jagged Alliance Online is being changed for its release on Steam, saying the focus of the game is being changed compared with the browser-based version of the game. They say their goal is to make microtransactions entirely optional:

Vienna, May 15, 2013 – Jagged Alliance Online brings PvP-centric gameplay to the classic strategy series when it launches on Steam this spring. Featuring modern firepower, squad combat, and turn-based gameplay, Jagged Alliance Online for Steam will be the first in the series to focus on the competitive experience, with optional content for single-player.

Disregarding typical free-to-play tactics, Jagged Alliance Online will offer all PvP content, including 40+ mercenaries and 500+ items, free of charge. Cliffhanger Productions assures players that everything can be purchased through regular play, with cash purchases offered only as secondary alternatives. Optionally, a single-player content pack containing 100+ hours of gameplay will be available for purchase.

“Jagged Alliance is all about superior tactics (and big guns, of course), so that means providing every player with a chance of winning based on tactical choices, and not any outside factors such as paid items,” says Cliffhanger Productions Founder and Creative Director, Jan Wagner, and continues, “The PvP part is also what makes us stand out from all the Jagged Alliance games, I believe, since no matter how good an AI is, in the end, the true challenge is another player. I am glad we could finally do the game the way we wanted.”

DARK Trailer

Here's a new trailer from DARK, showing off gameplay from the upcoming vampire-themed stealth/action game. The clip shows off vampire powers such as hypnosis, as well as console powers like health regeneration. Here's word: "In the new trailer, you'll get a close-up look at several of the vampire powers available to you, as the newly turned vampire, Eric Bane. Watch as Eric hypnotizes unsuspecting guards to slip past them or deliver a deadly strike. Or, use Regeneration to convert the blood of your enemies to health points! Watch the new video to learn more about these and other stealth-focused powers featured in DARK, which Kalypso Media will release this summer on Xbox 360 and PC." Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

  • Shadowrun Returns on VG247. Thanks nin.

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

Into the Black

Steam Trading Cards Beta

Valve announces that Steam Trading Cards are now in beta, offering virtual cards that can be redeemed for game badges and other virtual commodities:

May 15, 2013 -- Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal, and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced Steam Trading Cards, a new service that rewards gamers for gaming on Steam.

Released in beta today, Steam Trading Cards allows customers to earn Steam rewards for playing the games they love. Those who participate will receive game-specific trading cards that can be collected to earn rewards such as game badges, profile backgrounds, emoticons, coupons, and more.

The group of titles participating in the Steam Trading Cards beta includes Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2 and Half-Life 2. The service will expand over the coming months to include many more titles on Steam.

For more information on Steam Trading Cards visit http://steamcommunity.com/tradingcards/

Star Wars Focused DICE Studio Coming

GamesIndustry International has details on EA's new DICE studio in Los Angeles that will be focuses on creating games to capitalize on EA's new exclusive Star Wars games deal. They have liberated this information from the tyranny of the WSJ.com paywall, where they say the new studio will have a headcount of 60 by the end of this year. Apparently part of the appeal of that area is to be able to poach talent from Southern California studios like Treyarch and Infinity Ward: "There is an extreme talent pool over that we want a part of," says DICE general manager Karl-Magnus Troedsson. "It's no secret that our main competitor is there."

Metro: Last Light HUD "Fix" Inbound

The Steam Forums have an update from Professor Pew, spokesperson for 4A Games, and esteemed doctor of pew-pew, who explains the situation regarding the locked field of view in Metro: Last Light, their new shooter sequel (thanks Strategy Informer). It turns out the problem is that allowing adjustable FOV would conflict with their 3D HUD (which arguably means the HUD should have been reworked, rather than FOV locked). They are contemplating their options for a long term fix, and in the meantime are planning a game update "in the next few days" to allow players to adjust the FOV by directly editing CFG files, though this will indeed mess with the HUD. Here's word:

We're aware the community have been asking for a 'Field of View' slider for Metro: Last Light. Unfortunately, this was not as simple a thing to implement as it might appear!

The main reason for maintaining a fixed FOV is because we have 3D elements like the watch and weapon ammo that need to remain visible.

In addition, all the game's first-person cut scenes and cinematics and each and every animation involving Artyom's hands - idle weapon animations, reloads, ladder climbing, melee attacks etc, - were created assuming the same, fixed field of view.

Changing the FOV would break all the cut-scenes and animations - you would be able to see inside Artyom's arms, or they would appear to float in the air in front of you. Or worse.

We had considered offering three FOV pre-sets, but this would still require significant work to re-do every animation, adjust the HUD and UI and other seemingly small but incredibly time consuming tasks.

Even with a wider but still fixed field of view, Artyom's hands would look too far away. We know - we tried.

Game performance is also tied to FOV - the amount of geometric detail we put in each scene has been partly determined by this set FOV, and setting a wider FOV would have a performance impact.

We understand this issue is important to many people, and we have been looking at possible solutions.

In the immediate term - the next title update, due in the next few days will allow you to directly change the FOV in the .cfg files.

This may well trigger a number of issues listed above - you have been warned!

Waveryder Kickstarter

Candella Software has launched a Kickstarter for Waveryder, a boat stunt-racing game they plan to bring to Windows, Linux, and OS X if their fundraising campaign can generate the £6,600 they seek for its development. Here's what they have in mind:

Harking back to the classic boat racing games of the 1980’s and 1990’s, Waveryder combines stunning cutting-edge visuals and exciting arcade-style gameplay. Set in exceptionally detailed photorealistic real-world locations such as Venice, Lake Zurich, Niagara Falls, Egypt, Paris, London, Goa, and Prague, Waveryder pushes modern PC hardware to its limits.

In addition to arcade racing, the game also features a dedicated Stunt Mode. Available in both singleplayer and multiplayer, Waveryder’s unique stunt mode allows players to engage turbo and leap over some of the most stunning bridges in the world. These iconic bridges include the Calatrava Bridge (Venice), Tower Bridge (London), Charles Bridge (Prague) and Pont Neuf (Paris).

As the boats leap over the bridges, time slows down, allowing players to execute multiple acrobatic stunts. Based on the quality of their stunts, players receive achievement points and unlock trophies. All achievement points can be uploaded to a global leaderboard.

GRID 2 Trailer; Track List

VG247 has a track list for GRID 2, a surprisingly large list of 82 tracks (counting preorder bonus tracks) in the game. Also, this trailer from Codemasters Racing shows off Asian cars and locations in the upcoming racing sequel, along with some Asian-style racing competition, if you catch our drift. Here's word:

Racers earn points for style and form in Drift events on steep and aggressive mountain roads filled with hairpins inspired by Okutama in Japan. Open Road racing is represented with Touge events in Hong Kong, where players must close the gap and take their chance to pass in one-on-one, contactless sprints.

The Street Racing category is showcased in Dubai, as cars power down highways and speed past stunning skyscrapers in this distinctive city fuelled by petrol-powered wealth. Track Racing is shown at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, one of the most advanced and thrilling dedicated racing circuits in the world which has played host to a wide range of motorsport up to the very highest level.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Interviews

Op Ed

Warren Spector - Why Metacritic Should Be Irrelevant.
The fact is, few of us will ever approach that Platonic ideal of art, commerce and critical acclaim achieved in equal measures. And that means each of us must decide for ourselves how to define success. For me, that means achieving a kind of self-satisfaction - knowing my team accomplished the goals we set as effectively as we could, given circumstances. For me, that means living up to the priorities captured in a personal mission statement. For me, that means doing well enough, commercially, that someone will step up and fund my next game.

Gamer Horizon - Star Wars and EA is a Good Thing.
When I think of EA I don’t see “the worst company in America.” I see the publisher that gave me some of my favorite experiences this generation like Skate, Mass Effect 2 and to a lesser extent, Mass Effect 3, Dead Space, and Mirror’s Edge. I see them in the business of entertainment, and like all in the business, they have some misses minor and major. If Kathleen Kennedy is okay with the Star Wars brand in their hands, then so am I. I haven’t been this excited about the future of Star Wars in over a decade.

Morning Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

The only thing harder than watching the Knicks get manhandled by the Pacers is having to listen to Reggie Miller doing the announcing. You are cruel TNT, just cruel. The frustration of a Knicks fan is now perfectly portrayed in the social media: Did JR Smith Miss- (DidJRSmithMiss) on Twitter. Spoiler alert: Lots of yeses.

Paced Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Super Duck Punch.
Nuke Defense.
Links: 43 Things That Will Make You Feel Old. Thanks a lot nin.
Attention idiots with too much money: "sex cereal" is now a thing
Woman ejected from plane for singing Whitney Houston. The crazy plane.
Media: Waking Up Justin Prank Goes Wrong. Thanks reddit.
Old Girl (New Girl Parody).
Best Fails of the Week 1 May 2013. NSFW. Thanks Videosift.
Becky's Bad Day.
Auction: Georgia man claims to have found copy of Coca-Cola recipe.
Richter painting breaks record for living artist at N.Y. auction.
Follow-Up: Check Out The First Trailer For Joss Whedon's S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Show.
The Funnies: xkcd: Interstellar Memes.
The Greatest Match Cartoon - Savage Chickens.



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