Archived News:

Thursday, Nov 25, 2004 Thanksgiving (USA)

Age of Empires 3 Tease?

"THE WAIT IS ALMOST OVER" screams the Ensemble Studios Website in what is presumably a tease for the imminent announcement of Age of Empires 3. Thanks HomeLAN Fed.

Half-Life 2 Stuttering Update, SDK & Surprise Plans

Steam News offers an update on the Half-Life 2 stuttering bug, as well as promised of the release of the Half-Life 2 SDK and a "surprise" soon:
The changes in this release are directed at reducing the problem some users are experiencing with sound stuttering. The sound stuttering is not indicative of a sound problem, sound stuttering is only a symptom of texture thrashing on your video card or AGP memory. For information on how to reduce texture thrashing visit this link on our support site:

http://steampowered.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/steampowered.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=280

This update will fix sound stuttering that users were experiencing that would last for longer than a few seconds during normal gameplay. This update will also eliminate this same behavior following a quicksave or autosave. There will still be a short pause while the autosave happens, but not the more drawn out stuttering behavior.

We are still investigating another performance problem on some hardware, which will manifest where the game is getting into a state where performance drops to less than 5 fps and does not recover or crashes.

Next week we will be releasing the Source SDK, along with a surprise for the community.

SÖLDNER Patch, Server

A new multilanguage patch is now available for SÖLDNER: Secret Wars, updating Wings Simulations' first-person shooter to version 30830. Accompanying the new version is an updated version 30830 dedicated server. Change lists for the new version are available in English and German, and the patch and server can be downloaded from this page.

New UT2K4 Server

A new version of the Unreal Tournament 2004 dedicated server is now available, updated to version 3339 along with the other versions of Epic's multiplayer shooter. As always, operating a dedicated server in this manner requires the use of a CD key, which can be acquired here. The download is available on 3D Gamers.

WoW Launches

The World of Warcraft Community Site (thanks Frans) reflects on the launch of Blizzard's highly anticipated MMORPG in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The update admits to problems created by the rush of new WoW players, and offers some suggestions on how to circumvent launch issues in the short-term as they work "around the clock to ensure we can smooth out this initial rush, and we will be working through Thanksgiving to address the latency issues that players are experiencing."

Game Movies

A new Dragonshard movie is online, showing off the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons real-time strategy game in the works at Liquid Entertainment. The clip is a 12 MB download, available on 3D Gamers and Gamer's Hell. Also, the Official Website for Prince of Persia: Warrior Within offers a new "Introduction to Shahdee" trailer as well as a 3D screenshot from the latest installment in the adventures of the acrobatic prince.

Mac URU Cancelled

The Cyan Worlds Website offers the admission that the planned Mac port for URU: Ages Beyond Myst, has been officially cancelled (thanks Frans). The announcement explains that issue turned out to be the absence of a Macintosh edition of the HAVOK physics engine used in URU. Word is: "We'd like to think that we learned something from the experience. We chose not to use the same physics engine on our current project."

Wildfire Demo

A new playable demo for Wildfire is now available, offering another opportunity to sample the fire-fighting strategy game based on the 70s Michael Martin Murphey ballad. The 98 MB download is available on GameSpot (registration required) and mirrored on 3D Gamers, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.

Worms Forts Trial

A new trial version of Worms: Forts Under Siege is now available, offering the chance to try out the full version of Team17's latest squirmy strategy game for 60 minutes before further play will require the online purchase of a game key. The 490 MB download is available on GameSpot DLX (registration required).

W3: Frozen Throne Bonus Map

The Warcraft III Bonus Maps Page now offers downloads of a new bonus map for the Frozen Throne expansion for Warcraft III called "Ruins of Stratholme" (thanks Frans), described like so: "Stratholme was once a bastion of Alliance power but now it stands as a burning testament to the evil of the Scourge. Only the bravest of heroes would dare enter this ruined city, for the undead armies of Kel'Thuzad still hold sway over the haunted capital."

Spaceships Ahoy - GalCiv Deluxe

Stardock announces that Galactic Civilizations Deluxe Edition is now available in North America. Word is: "This deluxe edition offers gamers the award winning Galactic Civilizations and the new Altarian Prophecy Expansion Pack. If you missed the opportunity to lead human civilization to domination the first time around, do not shy away from leadership now as Galactic Civilizations Deluxe Edition offers players one intense experience."

Turkey Day Q&As

  • Vampire
    Vampire: Bloodlines Q&A on FileFront sucks up to Troika's Leon Boyarsky to discuss their just-released Vampire RPG: "I wouldn’t call Bloodlines a completely different genre, or (shudder) an FPS. As to why we decided to make an RPG with first/third-person views rather than isometric, it was an organic decision, really. As soon as Valve showed us their engine, visions of an intense, action oriented (but true) RPG began to overtake our consciousness. From there, it took on a life of its own."
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
    There's a new in-house Q&A on the RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Website (thanks Frans) celebrating the completion of the theme park sim sequel by chatting with Jonny Watts of Frontier Developments: "We put a lot of effort into the Peeps, the park guests who inhabit RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 parks. They are a significant change from earlier incarnations of the game as they are now able to travel in groups, are different ages and have various likes, dislikes etc. We are also proud of the detail we put into their animation, so that when you zoom in close there is much to see that is interesting and entertaining."
  • The Matrix Online
    The Matrix Online Q&A on FileFront asks Toby Ragaini some questions about Monolith's upcoming Matrix MMORPG: "The Matrix Online is based on the premise that the Matrix is a changing and evolving place with characters and story that progresses on an episodic basis. Unlike most static MMO environments, each player will have a chance to play a role in the ongoing story. And when those events are concluded, they will never appear in the game again. This is important, because this allows MxO to have a true sense of history."
  • Guild Wars
    The Guild Wars Q&A on FileFront chats up ArenaNet's Jeff Strain about their MMORPG: "So the first thing we did was bring our experience in creating Battle.net to bear on the task of making a game that could host thousands of players but use a very small amount of bandwidth. One of the things that is going on behind the scenes that people don’t realize is this technology that we’ve developed to mask latency so that you’re using a very small amount of bandwidth as you play."
  • EverQuest: Omens of War
    The EverQuest: Omens of War Q&A on FileFront talks with SOE about their new MMO expansion, including a good nominee for the dumb question of the week: "Do you ever commune with John Lennon's spirit for guidance? I'm just wondering if I'm the only one."
  • Music
    The Miles Jacobson Q&A on Music 4 Games discusses trends in game music and his work on soundtracks for the Gran Turismo series.

Dear Diaries

The Stolen Designer Diary #1 on GameSpot is written by Blue52 producer Graeme Puttock, who discusses the approaching beta milestone for Stolen, their upcoming stealthy adventure. Also, RPG Vault's Mourning Peek #48 is the latest entry from Dan Antonescu, lead designer on Mourning, asking the musical question: "What are action somatic components, and what will they add to combat in the Quad and Newrosoft online offering?" Also, RPG Vault's Anarchy Online It's Alive #1 kicks off a new series by Funcom game director Morten Byom who describes the process by which Anarchy Online is updated.

PureSim Baseball Shareware

The PureSim Baseball 2005 Website now offers downloads of an unlimited shareware version 4 of this baseball simulator. This page outlines what's new and different compared with version 3.

Turkey Day Previews

  • Close Combat: First to Fight on IGN.
  • Pathologic on HomeLAN Fed.
  • Stronghold 2 on IGN.

Turkey Day Screenshots

Game Guidance

There's a Half-Life 2 Hardware Performance Guide on GameSpot Hardware offers tips on enhancing your system's performance in playing Valve's shooter sequel. Likewise, TweakGuides.com' Half-Life 2 Tweak Guide is now online. Finally, there's a World of Warcraft Newb Guide on Ten Ton Hammer.

Competitions

Lionhead's The Movies Website now lists the winners of their logo competition for their upcoming cinematic simulator.

Game & Mod Development

A new mailing list is underway looking to offer support for folks interested in creating maps and modifications for Half-Life 2. Sign-ups are on this Yahoo! groups page.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Today, of course, is Thanksgiving around these parts... towards that end I hope you find yourself in a position to be thankful, whether this is a holiday you celebrate, or not. Almost all the preparations for a gathering here at the BlueTower are in place... my own lesser contribution consisting of glamorous jobs like cleaning the bathrooms...

I did make my annual contribution to the holiday fare as well though, a big batch of Chex Mix (I did wash my hands between loo cleaning and cooking), in the classic triple the butter recipe, providing equal time, since they now print a reduced fat recipe on Chex boxes. I wonder if Chex would still be on the market if it weren't for the holiday season? I'm guessing if it were, it would not be in three different varieties. But anyway, I digress (which is a good trick in a digression-themed column). Happy Thanksgiving! And if you are hitting the roads, please be careful out there.

Link of the Day: The Christmas Resistance Movement.
Stories of the Day: Man Uses Faux Police Car to Slow Drivers.
Benihana Chef's Playful Food Toss Blamed for Diner's Death.
Police praise 'courageous' Ozzy. Thanks Dan. Courageous is this year's stupid.
Science!: Team Uses Biotech to Build a Better Turkey.
Isaac Newton in the Kitchen (registration required).
Stem Cells' Repair Skills Might Be Link To Cancer. Thanks Warren.
Image of the Day: Breathtaking Vista. Thanks Jim.
Auctions of the Day: Rockstar Pins Stickers V. RARE PR Tape Grand Theft Auto.
Devon Students put university on eBay.
eBay users go mad for basketball punch-up memorabilia.
Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
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