Archived News:

Friday, May 06, 2005

Dear Diaries

The Fable: The Lost Chapters Designer Diary on IGN features designer Dene Carter sharing thoughts on the upcoming PC edition of Fable, though this all may be the outgrowth of some chemical experiments. Also, a new Imperial Glory Dev Diary on IGN is authored by Álvaro Vázquez, designer on Pyro's upcoming strategy game, as he discusses land combat, naval combat, the campaign, historic battles, and multiplayer. Also, a new producer's diary on The Godfather Website written by Hunter Smith, who kicks off his diary series by offering thoughts on The Godfather game, as well as the book and movie (thanks Frans.

CS: Source Maps Next Week

This Steam Update (thanks Richard) has word that Valve plans on releasing de_port and de_inferno next week along with an updated version of the current CT model. They also have a new shot from the inferno map online, as well as an outline of their E3 plans: "Half-Life 2 Xbox will be shown in the Xbox area of Microsoft’s booth. Meanwhile Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, which is the new, single-player level created to introduce High-Dynamic Range (HDR) lighting to the Source engine, is slated to appear in the Games for Windows area at the show."

Evening Q&As

  • SWAT 4
    There's an in-house Irrational Games Q&A on Freedom Force Universe (thanks Frans) talking with programmer Chris Kline about his work and the police shooter sequel: "The first thing that happened was that everyone on the team played SWAT 3 at work if they hadn't already played the bejeezus out of it on their own time. Then the entire company brainstormed about what aspects of SWAT 3 were great, which ones sucked, and how we wanted to take the SWAT concept and "make it our own". In the end we decided that we wanted to take most of SWAT 3 and improve it with better AI, better graphics, an improved command interface, the feeling of being immersed in a dark, gritty, miserable world."
  • S.C.A.R.
    The S.C.A.R. Q&A on Blackhole Motorsports discusses Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo with Simone Bechini, producer at Italian developer Milestone about their racing game: "SCAR is an innovative racing game that aims to introduce some new issues in the genre. We focused on the driver psychology, both simulating emotions and mind dynamics and advanced AI behaviours. For sure SCAR is not designed for hardcore simmers, like, for instance, GTR. BTW, as I’m an hardcore simmer myself, along with many of our developers, we spent a big effort on the game physics and handling, accurately modelling each and every car in the roster (there are 25 Alfa Romeos available) with appropriate behaviour in accordance with drivetrain, suspension stiffness, tires type and time of production."
  • Squad Assault
    Double the Fun, Double the Warfare in Squad Assault: Second Wave on GameZone talks with Eric Young about the upcoming updated version of his World War II real-time strategy game: "The primary reason is the new content. Operation Bloody Ground is a wonderful set of battles set in the Hurtgen Forest in 1944. The Market Garden Maps are excellent, and the modder upgrades to the stock maps make the new version head and shoulders above the old version. I would like to give credit to Benjamin Donaldson, Kari Salo, Wilf Thorn, Robert Tupniak, and Thomas Daxner, for their excellent work on maps included in this build and for the shadow tool Thomas put together."
  • NFS: Most Wanted
    The Need For Speed: Most Wanted Q&A on 1UP talks with (the other) Michael Mann and Justin Wiebe about EA's street racing sequel: "A lot of the Underground guys are now working on Most Wanted. We are trying to create a fresh, new look for the franchise and part of that is moving the experience to daytime. Habib and a number of MW's very talented team members did extensive concepting and prototyping on the look and feel for the new game. The team has done an amazing job creating an edgy, illicit feel to the game."

Evening Previews

  • Auto Assault on bit-tech.
  • Dungeons & Dragons on GameZone.
  • Hitman: Blood Money on IGN.
  • The Suffering: Ties That Bind on IGN.

Evening Screenshots

Mac CoD: United Offensive Map Pack

MacGame Files has downloads of a map pack for the Mac edition of Call of Duty: United Offensive, the World War II shooter expansion. Word is: "The pack includes 8 maps total - 6 which update original Call of Duty maps, and 2 brand new maps."

Pariah Patch

The first patch for Pariah is now available, updating Digital Extremes' first-person shooter to version 1.01. The update addresses a "problem where the game would not load when using Windows 98 or Windows ME." The download is available from this Groove Games Support Page. Thanks Frans.

Ships Ahoy - TrackMania Sunrise

Enlight announces that TrackMania Sunrise has pulled out of the garage, and that Nadeo's tack construction and racing sequel is now pulling into North American stores:
"TRACKMANIA SUNRISE" NOW AVAILABLE IN STORES ACROSS NORTH AMERICA

Crazy Arcade Racer Now Available in Stores

PARKVILLE, MD - May 6th, 2005 - Enlight, a leading software developer and publisher, announced today that "TrackMania Sunrise," the racing heir to the original "Trackmania," has shipped and is now available in stores across North America. Developed for the PC by Nadeo, "TrackMania Sunrise" offers gorgeous environments, competitive multiplayer race modes, and insane customizable tracks with off-the-hook jumps, loops, and tight corners.

"We are delighted to announce that driving fans across North America can now get their hands on this free wheeling arcade classic," said Trevor Chan, chief executive officer of Enlight. "With two new racing modes and P2P network community, 'Trackmania Sunrise' is destined to become one of the sleeper hits of 2005."

Features for "TrackMania Sunrise" include:
* 3 new sports cars that burn up the highway at breath-taking 250 miles per hour in gorgeous news environment off the Pacific Coast
* Two new solo racing modes, Platform and Crazy
* Peer-to-peer network community that allows players to exchange thoughts, comments, tracks, and skins
* Totally customized racing environments, including sunrise, day, sunset and night

For additional information on Trackmania Sunrise please visit: www.tmsunrise.com

Call of Duty (2) and Quake 4 the Holidays

Activision's Q4 and Fiscal 2005 Year End Results (thanks Frans) are online, revealing "Record Q4 and Fiscal 2005 Year End Results." The story mentions a conference call to discuss the news, and the results of that call are reflected in Activision Earnings Way Up, Hot Titles Soon on IGN, revealing an apparent fiscal third quarter 2006/calendar fourth quarter 2005 release date for Quake 4 and Call of Duty 2:
Though the company's strong performance is encouraging, perhaps most exciting for gamers is news that many of Activision's most-anticipated titles will arrive in time for the holidays this year. In a conference call with investors today, Activision Publishing president and CEO Ron Doornink revealed that new entries in the Tony Hawk, Call of Duty, X-Men Legends, True Crime, Quake, and Shrek franchises would appear in the company's third quarter -- i.e., October through December 2005.

Anarchy Online: The Lost Eden Found

The Anarchy Online: Lost Eden Announcement heralds development of an upcoming add-on for Funcom's science fiction MMORPG, and there's also a product page online for the expansion. The site offers a full Letter from the Game Director outlining the project, along with some screenshots. The project is due for release in "early winter," and here's a bit:
“With ‘Lost Eden’ we are continuing our focus on the unique sci-fi aspects in ‘Anarchy Online’, and we are giving our players extensive new gameplay options” said Game Director Morten Byom. “The ability to raid and control orbital battle stations, steer powerful battle Mechs, fight inside the motherships and new character advancement options should bring great fun to all of our players.”

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in 2006?

Oblivion-Lost.com has a story up speculating that the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has slipped until 2006, offering the following quote from THQ responding to questions about the game's absence from their recent financial reports covering releases through the middle of next year: "We have no definitive release date yet for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. We do expect to have some announcements, including a public demonstration this summer. More news to follow." In an amusing side note, the THQ's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Website (thanks Rhialto) actually lists the game as "now available," much to the amusement of those who frequent the GSC Game World Forums.

Knights of the Temple 2 and Gene Troopers Revealed

Cauldron has released screenshots from Knights of the Temple 2 and Gene Troopers, revealing development of both games (thanks Tiscali Games). The Gene Troopers Teaser Website is up (thanks Frans), and there's a Gene Troopers product sheet on Worthplaying. Here's the product sheet for KOTT2, which is in development for PC, PS2, and Xbox:
Travelling ancient kingdoms
In KOTT2 players will join the ultimate battle of Paul de Raque, Grand Master of the Order of the Temple and hero of the first game, and the forces of Hell. Travelling the lands and kingdoms of 13th century Europe, Paul must unveil the secret of three mysterious ancient artefacts and fight the demon armies attacking our world.

Victory
A Grand Master of the Order of the Temple, Paul de Raque has fought many battles in the eternal war between Good and Evil.

But now he faces his greatest challenge yet. Visions of evil forces invading our world, undead beings ravaging the peaceful lands of northern Europe and a dark menace opening a portal closed millennia ago.

Fight your way through a forgotten Roman city, deadly dungeons of the Saracen empire, discover long forgotten islands, ruins and catacombs on a search for a secret hidden on the ground of an ancient underwater fortress.

Test your fighting skills, overcome the hordes of darkness and discover that victory must be paid with blood, pain and even your very own soul...

Product Highlights:

    1 Non-linear game play - Move freely between levels, choose quests and follow the main storyline your way.
    2 Interactive dialog system - Choose from different dialogue options, gather bonus information, new side quests or follow the storyline. NPC characters will react to your choices.
    3 Trade mode - Sell or buy items, weapons and armour, or have them repaired.
    4 Side quests - Solve 18 side quests and discover new areas, encounter new NPC’s and acquire new, powerful items.
    5 RPG elements - Additional RPG elements make your character even more complex (new active and passive abilities).
    6 Alternative endings - Your decisions determine how the game will end.
    7 Multi-player - Play with different multi-player characters, each with its individual upgradeable special skills, just like the game’s main character.

Exceptional warrior
Knights of the Temple II is the sequel to last year’s acclaimed Knights of the Temple, which followed the epic exploits of the young templar Paul de Raque in his battle against the demonic forces of Hell.

Continuing the story of this exceptional warrior in the Dark Ages of medieval Europe, we added additional innovative game play elements.

KOTT2 features non-linear storytelling, interactive dialogues and fully customizable character development and quest solving. Players are free to choose how to go forward in the storyline and to bring an end to the quest of a lonesome holy warrior

www.cauldron.sk

Destineer goes Atomic

Destineer acquires Atomic Games on GameSpot has the news that Destineer Studios has acquired wargame developer Atomic Games, providing a Q&A with Destineer's Peter Tamte about the move: " Every military game now promises 'authenticity,' but virtually nobody actually delivers it. Atomic figured out authenticity back in 1996 with Close Combat. The military community will tell you that Close Combat is still the most realistic military real-time strategy game ever created because its realism is based on simulating the human aspects of combat. Still to this date, nobody else has done this well. Atomic is doing work now with the Marine Corps that's going to result in some very authentic real-time strategy games, starting with Close Combat: Red Phoenix next year."

Game Movies

The Witcher Official Website has details on plans to limit press showings of CD Projekt's upcoming RPG at E3, as well as a new gameplay trailer showing off the game. The movie is mirrored on 3D Gamers, FileFront, Filerush (torrent), and Worthplaying. Also, the French website for the Singles 2 (thanks Frans) offers a new French gameplay movie showing off some Frenching in the upcoming get your groove on simulator.

Steam Updates

Steam News has word on the release of an updated Source client as well as a SourceTV update: "An update for the Steam Client (and the HLDS Update Tool) has been released, along with some improvements to SourceTV. (SourceTV is for broadcasting Source games to large numbers of spectators.) The update will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. "

Dear Diaries

RPG Vault's Gods and Heroes Rome Rising Peek #2 is another look at Perpetual's upcoming persistent-state combat game, as lead designer Stieg Hedlund elaborates on the rock/paper/scissors principle that guides their design. Also, Alex Seropian Begins Blog on 1UP (thanks Frans) kicks off a series by the Wideload Games cofounder about Stubbs the Zombie, their upcoming tongue (and brains)-in cheek horror game.

Status Reports

  • City of Heroes
    City of Heroes Issue 4 "Colosseum" Live! has details on the latest content update for Cryptic Studios' MMORPG: "With Issue 4, heroes of all levels will be able to test their tactics and skills against their peers in the new PvP Arenas. Other new features in Issue 4 include a whole host of new costume additions, body scaling options, and the ability to link Super Groups together through Coalition Chat."
  • Darwinia
    The Darwinia Website (thanks Frans) has an update on Introversion Software's evolutionary strategy game, marking two months since the project's launch. The update discusses sales ("good but not great"), where this leaves them as a company ("Enough for us to stay working for Introversion and push on with our other projects, but not enough for us to start hiring and expanding and moving into offices. Or buying Ferarris."), , as well as mods, their upcoming webstore launch, and a look ahead ("Future patches will concentrate on modding facilities, and maybe, just maybe, multiplayer.").
  • Auto Assault
    There are a bunch of updates on the Auto Assault Website, here's the summary: "There are two new Recon updates up this week, a new chapter in our historical preludes to the game called “For the Greater Good", and a look at the Biomek Terminator class. Our forum poll has been updated as has the NetDevil Auto Assault team page."
  • Battlefield 2
    The Battlefield 2 Website (thanks Frans) has details on a mod day at EA to introduce some mod teams to the toolset and engine they will be using to create Battlefield 2 modifications.
  • World of Warcraft
    The World of Warcraft Community Site (thanks Frans) announces a new version 1.4.2 auto-update patch for Blizzard's MMORPG.

Morning Q&As

  • Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows
    Romero Lays Down the Gauntlet on Computer and Video Games is a Q&A with the famed designer about his work at Midway on Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows: "We're achieving this by removing as much corny stuff as possible and making the story and content more adult and serious. One thing you realize when you play this new Gauntlet is how fast, responsive and brutal the action is. Secondly, you will notice that the characters are realistically portrayed and don't engage in clichéd dialogue. The major tasks you do in the game aren't cheesy 'Bring the talisman of Megabadman to me!' but more serious fare with a lengthy story behind each goal. There's a reason why you're accomplishing each task.
  • Fairyland USA
    RPG Vault's Mystic Journey: Fairyland USA Q&A talks with several of the folks behind this online world that isn't your father's MMORPG: "Fairyland USA is not your typical massively multiplayer game. The goal with the title was always to appeal to a much broader audience than the current crop of generic fantasy titles. We feel Mystic Journey is more 'timeless' in its appeal to both young and old. The gameplay runs the gamut from non-violent to grouped combat, and so on. It's really up to the players themselves to decide how they wish to experience Mystic Journey."

Morning Previews

Hard Truck Tycoon Announced

A new Hard Truck Tycoon Product Page is online, unveiling a new economic simulator in the works at G5 Software. Here's the deal on Hard Truck Tycoon, due in the fourth quarter of this year:
Immerse yourself into the atmosphere of the US infrastructure development of heavy truck transportations. The game provides you with the unique possibility of becoming a part of the awesome process which shaped the world greatest transportation system. It makes you feel what it takes to evolve from clumsy farmers’ motorized vehicles into superpower heavy trucks.

Hard Truck Tycoon is an economic simulator. It tests your capability to make tough decision under realistic business conditions. Start from the scratch, try to develop your infrastructure and find out whether you are up to follow or exceed the success of the great founders of US transportation system.

Morning Screenshots

Thanks Frans.

The Mod Squads

Gatherings

  • 'Video Games Live' kicks off July 6 (thanks Mike Martinez), a concert series that "features music from some of the biggest video games performed by top orchestras and choirs across the country combined with video footage, lasers, lights and live action to create an explosive and unique entertainment experience."
  • Free Play '05 Announced. Thanks Mike Martinez.

Game Guidance

A new Honor System F.A.Q. is online, to answer some burning questions about the new Honor System in World of Warcraft.

Game & Mod Development

Friday Game Reviews

Friday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Hudson the wonder dog and I visited the Devicers' for a bit yesterday to renew her friendship with their pair of pooches. Since the arrival of her young ward Gunnar, she has fully emerged as an extremely alpha dog, and has taken to putting other dogs in what she deems their appropriate places on a regular basis. Things went great on our visit, helping confirm that she doesn't seem to have a problem with her existing friends, and that she seems to have more of an issue with male dogs than females. Sure enough, this morning walking with her pack of trail friends she got to face off with the male Irish Wolfhound who ran over one of our Smurfs a while back, and demonstrated her wild (dare I say insane) side by completely backing down this 150+ lb monster with a display of furious barking. As the old saying goes, it's not the size of the dog in the fight... it's the size of the fight in the dog.

Love Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Play Time: Python Challenge. Thanks memepool.com.
Links of the Day: How Lightsabers Work. Thanks (and congrats to) EvilToast.
Khronos Projector. Thanks EvilToast.
Stories of the Day: Dozens Contract Illness From Small Pets.
Science: Wind, voltage postpones electric car record attempt.
The speedy way to capture a city.
Army to Get Energy-Converting Sheeting.
Media of the Day: Unknown Hinson. Thanks EvilToast.
LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick.
The Dukes of Hazzard.
Teh Funnies: Dr. Fun.
Follow-ups: Pope's old car sells on Internet for nearly quarter million dollars.
Mars Polar Lander Found at Last?
Darwin on trial: Evolution hearings open in Kansas. Tennessee vs. Scopes II?
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