Archived News:

Friday, Jan 14, 2005

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory MP Beta Soon

The Splinter Cell Website (thanks Frans) has word that multiplayer beta testing of the PC edition of the next Splinter Cell game will begin soon, though as the detail page indicates, the first week will be one of those exclusive GameSpy paid subscriber dealies. Here's a bit:
We will soon be launching the Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Beta test (PC), for the multiplayer versus mode (developed by Ubisoft Annecy, creates of Pandora Tomorrow's versus mode). It will feature two maps: Museum (an upgrade of the map Museum from Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow) and Club House, a brand new map). The Beta test will enable the community to get their first experience of the awesome new features in Splinter Cell Chaos Theory: new gadgets and weapons, including the Thermoptic Camouflage suit, new game modes, and destructible items in the levels.

Game Movies

This Ubisoft FTP directory now features a second movie for Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, showing off gameplay from Gearbox Software's upcoming World War II shooter along with some interview footage with Gearbox's Randy Pitchford and military advisor John Antal. Thanks Frans. Also, a trio of new Project: Snowblind trailers show off Crystal Dynamics' upcoming first-person shooter, the clips can be found on the Project Snowblind Website and mirrored on 3D Gamers, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.

Star Wars Battlefront Patches

New client patches are now available for the various international editions of Star Wars Battlefront, updating them to the same version 1.2 as yesterday's dedicated server update (story). One or more of the variety of patches can be found on the LucasArts Website (thanks Ant) and mirrored on 3D Gamers, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.

Call of Duty Server Patch

A new patch for the dedicated Call of Duty server is now available, updating Infinity Ward's World War II shooter to version 1.5b, closing off the same exploit as the recent beta patch. The small download is available on 3D Gamers, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.

Evening Q&As

  • Ask SOE
    Ask SOE #29 on EverQuest 2 Vault poses another batch of questions of EQ2 community manager Steve "Moorgard" Danuser about the MMORPG and the planned adventure packs: "One of the ways in which an Adventure Pack differs from an expansion is that it focuses on one central area and storyline, much like a module in classic tabletop roleplaying games. Our first Adventure Pack, for example, starts out in Nektulos Forest and ventures into the caverns deep below the surface. As for what you'll find there... well, I'll leave that a mystery for now! But overall, Adventure Packs tell a focused story that adds something new to a particular area of the existing world."
  • Dark & Light
    The Dark & Light Q&A on MMORPG.COM talks with Stephane Quilichini, lead designer on NPCube's upcoming MMORPG: "Yes, we are no match against these two marketing juggernauts that are Sony and Blizzard. This is why we started Internet marketing a long time ago, in order to spread the word. Thanks to this, even if the marketing budget was minimal, we are still in good position among specialized websites. But if you have good leaders in one sector, the other sectors usually benefit from it too. The market is still developing really fast; you can see it with the huge success of WoW that got many subscribers without taking Everquest players away. I think that we have our fans as well, and of course there will always be people who go from game to game. But this will certainly go both sides."
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
    The Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Q&A on FileFront talks with Ubisoft producer Mathieu Ferland about the upcoming stealth action sequel: "First of all, the projected light and shadows are much more realistic than the ones in Pandora Tomorrow or the first Splinter Cell – there is less contrast between light and dark areas, which makes changes more gradual and subtle. Also, the addition of specular highlights and normal mapping definitely enhance the realism of the game. For example, by looking at a textured wood floor, you can feel the grain of the wood and see the reflection of the light on it. It is really impressive and not found in any other games – at least not to the extent that we have implemented it Chaos Theory."

Dear Diaries

The Close Combat: First To Fight Diary Vol. #5 on GameSpy offers Peter Tamte's discussion of the AI of your Marine squad mates in Close Combat: First To Fight, Destineer's upcoming military shooter. Also, RPG Vault's The Witcher Peek #9 features thoughts from CD Projekt on the mad blade skills of The Witcher in their upcoming RPG.

Site Seeing

The Worms 4: Mayhem Official Website is online for the just-announced next installment in Team 17's squirmy strategy series (thanks Frans). Also, the official Auto Assault Website has received a bit of a tune up, and now offers new screenshots, and the first update to their Recon Section, which will provide weekly status reports on NetDevil's upcoming MMORPG.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Space Hack Patches

The Space Hack Official Website now offers downloads of new version 1.2 patches for the various international versions of the science fiction RPG. No details on what's changed are provided. Thanks Frans.

Counter-Strike Bot Cometh

Valve sends word that the Official Counter-Strike Bot for CS: Source is due for release on Monday:
The official Counter-Strike Bot will be released for Counter-Strike: Source on Monday (January 17th). The Bot features enhanced abilities and will be available for all owners of Counter-Strike: Source. Also included in Monday’s release is an updated version de_tides, rebuilt by Turtlerock Studios. For more information or to purchase your copy of Counter-Strike: Source, please visit www.steampowered.com.

Universal Combat: A World Apart in May

DreamCatcher Games announces they've signed on to publish Universal Combat: A World Apart globally this May, in spite of last year's since-resolved legal clash between the publisher and developer 3000 AD (story). In addition to this stand-alone retail boxed version of the space combat simulation, there will also be a version of A World Apart released as an expansion for the original Universal Combat, but this will only be distributed electronically via various ecommerce sites. More information on the expansion and how it will differ from the boxed edition can be found on this page.

Euro DAoC: Catacombs in March

Wanadoo announces plans to launch the European edition of the Catacombs expansion for Dark Age of Camelot in March of this year. The Dark Age of Camelot Europe Website has details on the expansion, which has been live in North America since December 2004 along with a gameplay trailer.

Act of War: Direct Action Demo

The Act of War Website (requires Flash) now offers downloads of a demo for Act of War: Direct Action, the RTS based on the work of author Dale Brown that centers around a near-future conflict over the world's dwindling oil supply. The demo is a 668 MB download, which is also mirrored on 3D Gamers, FileFront, Filerush (torrent), Gameguru Mania, and Worthplaying.

DRIV3R PC Pulse - Delay

The newly opened ATARI Deutschland DRIV3R Product Page (thanks Frans) has a sign of life for the PC edition of DRIV3R, which has been pretty low profile since the release of the console versions. The site offers a German-language description of the project, along with March 17, 2005 as a projected release date. The game's most recent previous release date was January of this year.

More EA & DICE Doings

EA Waives a Condition on Its Offer for Shares of Digital Illusions (thanks Frans) has more follow-up on EA's attempts to snap up Swedish developer Digital Illusions CE:
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. & STOCKHOLM, Sweden--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 14, 2005--Electronic Arts Holding AB ("EA") (Nasdaq:ERTS - News) today declared its decision to waive one of the conditions in its offer to the shareholders of Digital Illusions CE AB (publ) ("DICE").
The offer had previously been conditioned upon EA becoming the owner of more than 50 percent of the total number of shares representing more than 50 percent of the capital and votes in DICE after dilution upon exercise of employee warrants outstanding under the option program launched in 2002. Even though the extended acceptance period has not yet expired and the calculation of the outcome of the offer has not yet been made, EA has decided to waive the above-mentioned condition for the offer.

This means that EA will acquire all the shares tendered in the offer, regardless of whether EA reaches the 50 percent threshold (assuming that the acquisition is not hindered or rendered more difficult by circumstances beyond EA's control).

The acceptance period will end on January 20, 2005, and EA does not intend to extend it any further. Payment to shareholders that have tendered, or will tender their shares before the acceptance period expires, is expected to be distributed beginning on or about January 27, 2005.

The other terms and conditions of the offer remain unchanged.

EA reserves the right to acquire additional shares of DICE in the market.

Site Seeing

A new Myst V teaser page is online, though there's not much to see yet on the Flash placeholder for the upcoming installment in Cyan's adventure series. Also, a Constantine PC Website is now live, further confirming the PC edition of the upcoming movie/comic book tie-in. The site offers PC shots, which are basically identical to the previously released console shots. Thanks Frans.

Morning Q&As

  • Blizzard
    GamesIndustry.biz's Focus On: Blizzard Entertainment (Part One) talks with Chris Metzen and Paul Sams of Blizzard as "the two share some insights into the hugely successful company, its creative process - and why developing an MMORPG has made them wake up screaming at night." Thanks Frans.
  • Act of War
    HomeLAN Fed's Dale Brown/Act Of War Direct Action Q&A talks with the thriller author about the upcoming computer game adaptation of his work. On a related note, Atari's Act of War Direct Action Blurs the Lines between Films, Novels and Video Games (thanks Frans) is a press release highlighting the convergence this project represents.
  • Playboy: The Mansion
    The Playboy: The Mansion Q&A on Gamebiz talks with Brenda Brathwaite, lead designer on the now-gold Hef simulator: "Every month, you’re going to need an interview, a cover model, a centerfold, a pictorial, an essay and an article. To get these things, you’ll need to hire and manage a staff and make the necessary celebrity connections to get the content. The better your content, the better your magazine. The better your magazine, the more money you make and the more famous you become. As you get more famous, you’ll move up in social circles. Instead of inviting Hollywood-wannabes to your parties, you’ll be inviting Hollywood royalty."
  • Empire in Arms
    Experience Gaming's Empire in Arms: The Napoleonic Wars of 1805 - 1815 Q&A talks with Marshall Ellis of Australian Design Group's about the upcoming computer version of their strategy board game: "It is a unique strategic scale that allows some tactical control. You can pick the battlefield tactic and your casualties. Each battle day last for 3 rounds and based on a picked attack and selected defense then each side loses a certain number of troops and a certain number of morale points. When a side reaches zero troops or a morale of zero then they break and retreat."

MMO Subscription Updates

Star Wars Galaxies Added to Sony Online Entertainment's Station Access Subscription Plan (thanks Frans) announces that Star Wars Galaxies is joining the other SOE MMO offerings as part of their all-you-can-eat Station Access plan: "Star Wars Galaxies joins the already available line-up of titles offered under the Station Access subscription plan, which includes the original EverQuest®, the recently released EverQuest® II, PlanetSide®, EverQuest® Online Adventures(TM) for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, EverQuest for the Macintosh and the three Station Pass games, Cosmic Rift, Infantry and Tanarus." Also, Funcom announces plans to extend the free side of Anarchy Online through the end of next year: "First of all we would like to mention that the free Anarchy Online offer has been a tremendous success and will be fully extended throughout all of 2005 and into 2006. Anarchy Online has more users than ever before and the game is setting records on an ongoing basis, with more active players now than seen in the month of launch more than 3,5 years ago. We see this as great news for the entire community since AO is more vibrant and alive than ever before. As a result of this Funcom is adding additional customer service staff to the AO team to make sure that we can maintain our high level of customer service towards all customers."

Morning Previews

  • Project: Snowblind on IGN.
  • The Punisher on IGN and IGN. Almost missed 40% of this week's punishment (thanks Frans).

Paratrooper Follow-up; Demo Plans

Aussie independent DrewFX sends along a follow-up about the gameplay trailer on the newly launched website for Paratrooper (story), their upcoming PC/Xbox action game: "Regarding the Paratrooper demo, there has been some controversy over the gameplay video. I would like to point out it is only a functionality video and only a hint to the gameplay. The demo available at the end of the month will be a better indication of the gameplay itself. Due to some confusion the site was advertised ahead of time. The trailer contained within was only a tester and not really meant to indicate what the player will be doing during the game."

Blizzard & BnetD Follow-up

The EFF (thanks Mike Martinez) has filed an Opening Brief in their appeal in the dispute between Blizzard and the BnetD Battle.Net emulator (story). Here's word on this from LinuxElectrons:
Yesterday the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a brief in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that federal law forbids videogame corporation Blizzard from interfering with gamers' ability to create new products to enhance their game experience. EFF is co-counsel for the defendants in Davidson v. Internet Gateway, a case on appeal from a district court in St. Louis. The district court held that an open-source software gaming server called BnetD was unlawful because its makers had violated Blizzard's End User License Agreement (EULA) and portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Competitions

The Music by Jason Hayes Website has details on a writing competition the World of Warcraft music composer is conducting to inspire the tunes for his next album. Also, World tour for top video gamers (thanks Mike Martinez) profiles the upcoming CPL world tour.

Help Wanted

The Elder Scrolls Website seeks help: Do you have the skills to create the next generation of RPGs? Send your resume to Bethesda Game Studios. We have several new openings on our job page including Game Programmer, World Artist, Character Artist, Special FX Artist, Concept Artist, and Sound Engineer."

Friday Game Reviews

Friday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well it was a long ordeal with Dr. Toothy preparing some new dental work, but we did manage to forgo the potential root canal, so I have that to be thankful for. On the other hand, it turns out that two crowns need replacing, rather than the one that we originally anticipated, so it was far from a pain-free visit, it's just that most of the discomfort is in my wallet (Dr. Toothy is good, but he doesn't work cheap).

Play Time: Ripley's Believe It or Not IQ Game. Thanks Sharon.
Links of the Day: Build Your Own Light Saber. Thanks Baldric.
Story of the Day: ‘Ali G’ character causes near riot at rodeo. Thanks Domeas.
Science!: Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons.
Canadian Researcher Invents New Solar Cell. Thanks boogaloo.
Rebranding Physics = Making Einstein Youth Friendly.
Images of the Day: Kibabu.
Ice Dreams 3.
Auction of the Day: Pacific Fighters Poster Signed by Oleg Maddox. Thanks Jim.
Follow-ups: Kayak Attack Faked. Thanks John. "Regis fait du kayak."
Evolution Stickers Ordered Removed. The evolution will not be stickerized.
Monsanto Suing Farmers Over Piracy Issues.
Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
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