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Friday, Jul 05, 2013

  

Left 4 Dead 2 Free Weekend; Sale

Steam News announces a free weekend and sale are underway for Left 4 Dead 2, Valve's zombie shooter sequel:

Play Left 4 Dead 2 for FREE starting now through Sunday at 1PM Pacific Time. You can also pickup Left 4 Dead 2 at 75% off the regular price!*

If you already have Steam installed, click here to install or play Left 4 Dead 2. If you don't have Steam, you can download it here.

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time

Team Fortress 2 Map Changes Detailed

The Team Fortress 2 website has details on changes coming to Team Fortress 2 in an upcoming patch for Valve's team-based shooter. They describe fixes coming to several maps to close off bugs and exploits, many of which have been caused by the introduction of new weapons over the years. They also have word on new maps being added to the rotation. Here's a bit:

And Badwater is just one of the maps with fixes in this update. In fact, the majority of maps in TF2 have gone through the same process. By eliminating these exploits and bugs, players can once again feel like they understand threats and the dangers presented in combat spaces.

Secondly: Sure, itís great to fix the old maps, but weíre also adding two NEW community-created maps by Ian Cuslidge that, and here's another spoiler warning, are fricking awesome. Introducing two all-new Capture Point maps: Process and Standin. Beyond a great polish, both of these maps offer unique and exciting gameplay; Process with its five streamlined Capture Points and Standin with its triple Cap Point free-for-all.

Natural Selection 2 Female Marine Detailed

Unknown Worlds details the upcoming addition of the promised female Marine for Natural Selection 2, their action/strategy sequel. They describe the three different versions they will offer, and note that they are breaking with how most developers portray female characters by actually giving her armor. Here's word:

The game industry has a history of depicting female characters inappropriately. Often, they are stylised to such a degree that they become sexual objects: While their male comrades are clothed, armed and armoured to fight, the female character is notable for the lack of any clothing at all. When female characters are granted equal protection, that protection often ignores basic laws of physics in favour of offering titillating form.

This is not good enough, and itís not a trope Unknown Worlds will entertain. Games are legitimate cultural influences, and game developers are responsible for the message they choose to convey to players. The Natural Selection 2 female marine is first and foremost, like her male colleague, a soldier. Her armour puts function before form, while adopting the science fiction, melee combat aligned design ques that have made the male marine so uniquely recognisable.

7 Days to Die Video

The 7 Days to Die website now offers this trailer with about 15 minutes of gameplay from this survival/crafting game. Here's a description:

An open world, voxel-based, sandbox game blending the best elements of FPS, Survival Horror, RPG and Tower Defense style games. "Seven Days to Die" looks to carve out its own space giving gamers what they really want with a unique combination of combat, crafting, exploration, and character growth. It's not just Survival Horror anymore its "Survival Horde."

Continue here to read the full story.

It Came from E3 2013, Part 15

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: William Shakespeare's Star Wars. Thanks Ant.

Unannounced Epic Game Revealed

An Epic Games job ad puts out the call for a Senior Systems Designer for one of two projects, one of which is Fortnite, but the other is an unannounced  "competitive online action game that includes player progression, heavy itemization, and a dynamic economy" (thanks VG247 via NeoGAF). That's about all it says about the game for now, but here's the whole shebang:

Epic Games is looking for a Systems Designers to join one of two projects. One of the teams is working on an unannounced competitive online action game that includes player progression, heavy itemization, and a dynamic economy; the other is for Fortnite. In either of these roles youíll be working on the biggest most important systems and will have a hand in designing everything from economics and itemization to balancing combat mechanics. Youíll be responsible for general design, balance, rules, interface, etc. and will play an integral role in defining the outcome of the project.

WoW Plans Microtransaction-fuelled XP Boosts?

A WoW DB Entry shows a new item found in the version 5.4 patch on the Public Test Realm for World of Warcraft called the "Enduring Elixir of Wisdom" which is sold from within the MMORPG to provide double XP, saying simply: "Experience gained from killing monsters and completing quests increased by 100%." This continues a steady trend over the life of the game to make leveling up quicker, though this would be the first chance to pay to not play the game. A blue post from Blizzard also explains they are testing the ability to make in-game purchases: "We are currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game. As part of this process, elements related to this will be appearing on the PTR. Weíll provide additional updates on our plans as development progresses." Thanks Blend Games.

Bethesda on Franchises: Dishonored Yes; RAGE TBD

There are quotes from an upcoming interview with Pete Hines on IGN where the Bethesda spokesperson discusses possible follow-ups to a couple of the publisher's recent games, as he confirms that a goal of their new IPs will always be to launch new sustainable franchises, saying: "In general, we try not to wade into anything as a one-off in the first place." He then confirms that Dishonored qualifies for a sequel, saying: "The success of that game and how proud Arkane is of it and what goes on at any studio when they put out something like that and all the ideas that are coming out, certainly itís something that we feel is a franchise." As for a possible sequel to id Software's RAGE, Hines is more circumspect, saying id is solely focused on DOOM 4 right now: "To be determined," he tells them. "Weíll see. Right now, [idís] focus is on their current project. They are full bore on that. What Iíve seen of it recently, Iím super happy about it. We want them to stick to that until weíre ready to talk about what that is. But letís wait until we get there first."

StarCraft II Arcade Weekend of Freedom

The StarCraft II website announces an "Arcade Weekend of Freedom," offering a temporary expansion of scope for the free starter edition of StarCraft II, Blizzard's RTS sequel:

Though many would consider July 4 a great time to get together outside in the sweltering heat, we think staying inside and playing amazing games might also be time well spent. What better way to show our appreciation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness than offering more FREE games? Over this entire holiday weekend -- from July 3 through July 8, all previously featured arcade games are now available to anyone using the free StarCraft II Starter Edition. From StarDodgeball to Blasterbots to Night of the Dead, thereís a wide range of different games to please everyone.

Brain Overclocking Headset

The Sydney Morning Herald heralds a scary-sounding development, profiling a headset being marketed to gamers that will "Overclock your brain using transcranial Direct Current Stimulation to increase the plasticity of your brain. Make your synapses fire faster" (thanks MCV). One could argue that your synapses would have to be operating pretty slowly to start with to find this appealing, but just in case, they offer a few cautions:

The company says the headset is not a medical device and is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. It also says the device meets all regulated safety standards but warns against its use by epilepsy sufferers or anyone with implants.

Professor Colleen Loo, from the University of NSW school of psychiatry and clinical and research psychiatrist with the Black Dog Institute said the effect on the brain was dependent on where and how the electrodes were positioned. ''It's a bit like having an accelerator and brake in a car,'' she said. ''Neither is bad and both are very useful but applying them judiciously at the right time and in the right context is absolutely essential. I think stimulation of yourself with do-it-yourself kits is potentially quite dangerous.

Morning Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Hope everybody celebrating had a safe and happy Independence Day! We survived the fireworks of the fourth, though with it falling on a Thursday there is little doubt there will also be explosions to be feared on the fifth and sixth, and I'd be surprised if we didn't get some on the seventh as well. We've got the hatches battened down... too bad they aren't sound proof.

Battened Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Endless War 7.
Stories: Boy 'lived as a robot' for two months. Video.
Science: New system to harness energy from ocean currents.
Images: Gallery: The International Space Station flight control room.
Media: Up in My Grill: 4th of July Rap (featuring Remy).
NSA Wiretap Footage REVEALED. NSFW.



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