Archived News:

Tuesday, Mar 26, 2002

Rise of Nations Q&A

There is a brief interview with Jason Bestimt on Rise of Nations Pantheon, talking to the Big Huge Games programmer about his work on the upcoming isometric RTS (thanks GameSpyDaily). Jason discusses the technical challenges of their hybrid 2D/3D graphics engine, the effort spent on creating the unit artwork, weather and environment effects they're working on, support for modifications, and a few other topics.

Dungeon Siege Round-up

Here is another collection of links covering the ubiquitous press build of Dungeon Siege, the now-gold 3D role-playing game by Gas Powered Games. Dungeon Siege Preview on LoadedInc offers a fair overview of the game, its features, graphics engine and gameplay, naturally illustrated with a few more screenshots. Dungeon Siege: Preview on Fragland.net is a shorter article with its own set of images, as is the Dungeon Siege preview on Ferrago.co.uk. A more comprehensive effort is the Dungeon Siege preview on GameAxis, while Korean site GamingGround let us know about their large collection of gameplay movies here and here (Windows Media Player required).

Tuesday Screenshots

  • Tactical Ops
    HomeLan Fed has posted three new Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror screenshots, showing more from the team-based Unreal Tournament mod turned retail game by Kamehan Studios.
  • Stung!
    There is hands-off preview of Stung! on MGON that is accompanied by six new screenshots and five concept images of this first- and third-person action game by Prey Digital Studios.
  • Xtreeme Forces
    The Raptor Entertainment site has been updated with four new screenshots of Xtreeme Forces, their 3D RTS in early development, starting with the last shot on this page and continuing on this one.
  • Neocron
    Half a dozen new Neocron screenshots are online at Neocron Central, captured from the ongoing beta test of Reakktor Media's sci-fi MMORPG.

Dungeon Siege Q&A

The Dungeon Siege Developer Q&A #3 on RPG Vault is the latest in this series of Q&As with the folks at Gas Powered Games about their now-gold RPG that follows the Vault's one question/many answers format. Today's question at hand is "What are a couple of your favorite spells in Dungeon Siege, and what reasons do you have for choosing them?" Respondents are president/designer Chris Taylor, assistant producer/network administrator Marsh Macy, artist Darren Lamb, tester Jason Moerbe, engineer Scott Bilas, 3D artists Lee Phemister and Joe Kresoja, community coordinator Darren Baker, level designer Chris Burns, production coordinator Bert Bingham, and art director Steve Thompson.

Global Ops Update

A post to the Global Operations Message Forum has word on plans for a patch for the retail version of the game, as well as hopes for an update to the public beta. Here's the skinny:
Hi guys. I thought I would do a quick update to let you know what is the status of all the stuff we have been promising. We had originally planned to do a quick patch for the beta test last week, but unfortunately we ran into a few delays. We are now back on track and we are testing a patch for the retail version of the game now that I think will make you all very happy. It includes about 20 bug fixes and a few minor new features like a bandwidth switch on the browser screen.

Also, there will be a massive server speed and bandwidth improvement in the patch. This will have the additional effect that many of the bugs in the game that are caused by the server bogging down will go away. I suspect that the reload bug is in this category since we never once saw that issue until we released the PB. The server optimizations are one of the reasons that we did not release the patch next week. We needed the extra time to work on the server and then work out all the issues that were created. We really wanted this patch to fix as many known issues as possible.

It is possible that if these server optimizations work as well as we hope, that we will be able to enable listen servers and allow the running of 2 servers on one PC in the next patch. We will need a bit of time to sort through some of the issues, but we know this is very important to you.

So, we need about 2 more days to test the patch and if all is well, we will release it. Linux server will be next on our list. It will need to be upgraded to the new version and then tested, but hopefully should not be more then a day or 2 behind.

Also, I hope that we can do an update to the Public beta at that time, but please understand that the retail version is the priority now.

I want to take a moment to thank all of your for your support. We know that this game will only be successful with the support of the community and we do appreciate all of the support. Team, stick together!

Shadow Force Patch

FUN Labs has released a new patch for Shadow Force: Razor Unit, upgrading their recent budget-priced first-person shooter to version 1.2. This 2.4 MB release includes a sound update and fixes some memory leaks and a game crash.

Gold: Blood Omen 2

A post on Gone Gold has "official" word that the PC version of Blood Omen 2, the Legacy of Kain sequel already available for both the PS2 and the Xbox, is gold. According to Gone Gold's Release Date List, the third-person action game, which once again puts players in the role of the vampire Kain, is due in Stores as early as this Friday.

Neverwinter Nights Preview

There's a Neverwinter Nights Preview on Games Domain with a look at this upcoming D&D RPG in the works at BioWare. Starting off with some background on the various tales of intrigue that lead to Infogrames upcoming the titles publisher, the article goes on to offer numerous quotes from BioWare co-CEO Dr. Greg Zeschuk discussing what gameplay will be like including quite a bit on the game-mastering system and tools to create your own adventure modules.

Oblivion Lost Movie

A movie trailer of Oblivion Lost is now available for download from German site GIGA Games, showing off this sci-fi first-person shooter by GSC Game World that apparently goes by the full title S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost. The movie comes as a 15.0 MB download in DivX format and offers some two minutes of high-resolution footage, demonstrating the way outdoor environments are rendered by their in-house engine along with plenty of gameplay action. Thanks gamemag.ch for the tip.

SoF2 Q&A

Planet Soldier of Fortune's Matt Morton Q&A (thanks HomeLan Fed) talks with this associate producer at Activision on Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, Raven Software's upcoming mercenary first-person shooter follow-up. Topics include reconciling the traditional "lead boss" climax of shooter games with an attempt to imbue SoF2 with a sense of realism, whether a future version of their random-mission generator will help revive co-op play, whether randomly-generated missions could replace traditional single-player game design in the future, how vehicle damage is handled, how much swapping between the game's two CDs is required, the possibilities of console ports, and more.

O.R.B. Beta Plans

This Strategy First Press Release has word on plans for a public multiplayer beta test for O.R.B., their upcoming 3D RTS game set on an "off-world resource base." Applications to participate in the testing can be made on the O.R.B. - Multiplayer Beta Test Application Form for users of Windows-based systems, though it is noted that Windows 95 and Windows NT are not supported. Testing is slated to commence April 8, 2002.

Ships Ahoy: Freedom Force et al

A few more games have been liberated from their manufacturing plants, as For Freedom! Electronic Arts and Crave Entertainment Ship Freedom Force for the PC is the announcement that this spandex-infested 3D tactical combat RPG by Irrational Games is on its way to stores. Also, Infogrames, Inc. Re-Writes Evolution With Carnivores(TM) Cityscape announces that this Serious Engine-powered first-person shooter by Sunstorm Interactive is about to appear on store shelves as well. Finally, for now, Strategy First sends along word that Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Cliffs, the isometric RTS by Object Software set in Chinese history, has been released as well.

Nakatomi Plaza Q&A

The Armchair Empire's Bryan Ekman Q&A talks with the art director at Piranha Games about progress on Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza, the upcoming action game that puts you in the bare feet of resourceful NYC detective John McClane. Topics include how this project managed to make the transition from Half-Life modification to a full-blown game project, how they managed to get Fox interested rather than getting "Foxed," the possibilities of extending this game into a series, distinctive touches from the movie that will be found in the game, AI, working with the LithTech engine, and more.

IGI 2: Covert Strike Preview

HomeLan Fed's IGI 2: Covert Strike Preview offers further impressions of that preview build of Innerloop's upcoming shooter sequel that's been distributed to a bunch of press outlets. The article offers thoughts on the original Project IGI, describes the five semi-complete levels included in the beta, the types of gameplay goals the player is faced with, the realistic weapons, and more.

FireStarter Site

Publisher Russobit-M sends word that the official FireStarter site is now open for business, properly introducing this fast-paced first-person shooter in development at GSC Game World. The site provides details on the game's backstory, single- and multiplayer gameplay, other features and in-house Firestarter Engine, as well as plenty of new screenshots and concept images.

Carnivores: Cityscape Movie

Infogrames has opened a product page for Carnivores: Cityscape, showcasing the first-person dinosaur shooter by Sunstorm Interactive that should be shipping in a day or two. Along with terse game information and the system requirements, the page also offers a movie that features half a minute of gameplay footage in AVI format for the price of a 6.6 MB download.

Ages of Athiria Update

A new Ages of Athiria newsletter is now online at the official site for this massively multiplayer online world in the works at Elysian Productions. Topics in this edition include an updated Guild FAQ, the introduction of a new playable race, imaginatively named the Orcs, and a Q&A about the game's music along with an MP3 sample.

Miscellaneous Patches

After the English patch over a week ago (story), SSG has now also released some international patches for Warlords Battlecry II, updating the German and French editions of their new isometric RTS to version 1.02. As before, this release includes a couple of gameplay changes, several multiplayer improvements and some bug fixes as listed on the patch page. Further, the Laser Squad Nemisis site offers a new version 1.06 patch, adding a new main-game interface and three tutorials to the play-by-email tactical combat game by CoDo Games. Finally, although the English Patch page still hasn't been updated, the German Patch page offers a new version 2.04.1090 release for both the English and German language editions of The Settlers IV, applying more improvements and bug fixes to Blue Byte's isometric management strategy game (thanks Rabus' Update-Site).

NWO Beta Delayed

An update on the Project Three Interactive Center Page (thanks Steffan Berg) has word that the multiplayer beta for New World Order that was intended for release today (story) has been delayed. The hold-up is due to a bug that could not be eradicated in time for their self-imposed deadline, and their new expectation is to release the beta over the Easter weekend (this coming weekend).

Ships Ahoy: Global Ops

The Official Global Operations Website has word that Global Operations, Barking Dog Studios' tactical first-person shooter, is shipping to retail stores, and word on the page is: "Check your local stores in the next couple days to pick yours up!" Likewise, EA Ships The Sims Vacation Expansion Pack has word that the latest installment in what looks like an endless series of expansions for their get a virtual life game has shipped as well.

Tech Bits

  • New CPUCooL
    A new version 7.0.1.5 of the CPUCooL utility is now available. Thanks File Flash.
  • New ICQ
    The ICQ Downloads Page has a new ICQ 2002a Beta Build #3722. Thanks Roger Eldridge.

Consolidation

GameSpot's The Thing Preview is online, offering hands-on impressions and 10 new screenshots of the upcoming PS2 horror/survival game based on the John Carpenter film of the same name. Also, there's a Resident Evil Preview on GamePro.com with hands-on impressions of another upcoming horror/survival game, this one destined for the GameCube. Included are 15 new screenshots.

Console Reviews

EQ Rate Hike

Citing unspecified "increased costs of running the EverQuest game service," the EverQuest Website has word of plans for a jump in the monthly subscription rate for the addictive MMORPG to $12.95 (thanks Evyenia). Just like the crack the game is often likened to, there are discounts to be had for buying in bulk. According to the update: "You don’t have to do a thing; you will automatically be migrated to the new billing structure under your current subscription plan when your current subscription plan expires."

Farscape Diary

Farscape: Game Developer's Diary on SCIFI.COM (thanks HomeLan Fed) offers a developer diary that's moved to this site (though it's not clear where it was located prior to this). Along with the diary is an extensive rundown on "The Story So Far" for the upcoming action adventure set in the universe of this science fiction television series.

New Q3Offline

ShellShock's Crater now offers a new version 02.03.25.00 of the Q3Offline front-end for Quake III Arena. In the new release Qstats now offers HTML output of game statistics, a change in how cvars are executed so that all the selected options are in effect for the first map, and a new toolbar on the game's config page.

Game Guidance

After going up and down like a yoyo for nearly a week, the Rise of Nations FAQ on the Big Huge Games Website has hopefully stabilized to the point where it can be visited if you have questions about this upcoming historical RTS game.

Game Reviews

Other Previews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

In the nearly two weeks since first discussing the story Congress Looks to Stop Copying of Digital Content in this space (story) the matter has progressed further, and the proposal is now a bill before Congress called the Hollings copy protection bill, also known as the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA), which is also the subject of this recent Wired article (thanks Guy Peters). DigitalConsumer.org's Help Stop the CBDTPA is a petition they are hoping you will sign, it states their case against this bill (more fully expressed in their position paper). There is also a United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary Feedback Form that will allow reactions to be sent straight to the lawmakers here (probably best to keep the tone rational on any feedback you provide), and if all that still leaves you feeling the need to express yourself, Dan passes along this page where you can find contact information for your local Senator.

Play Time: Web-based Pictionary. Shockwave required. Thanks Merdoc.
Wild Science: Up, Up and Away. Anti-Gravity? As [MP] Wolverine [MP] put it: I can't weight!
Weird Science: Satellite Spots Mystery Patch of Black Water Near Florida. Thanks SurlyBitch.

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