Archived News:

Tuesday, Nov 08, 2005

Lord British Honored

Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announces Richard "Lord British" Garriott is their latest Hall of Fame honoree:
CALABASAS, CA - November 8, 2005 - The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) announced that computer games pioneer Richard Garriott will be inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. Annually voted on by the Academy's Board of Directors, this honor is awarded to individuals whose efforts and contributions have expanded the scope and success of the computer games industry. As the ninth member of the Hall, Garriott joins an already impressive fraternity of gaming icons, including Trip Hawkins, Peter Molyneux, Yu Suzuki, Will Wright, John Carmack, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Sid Meier and Shigeru Miyamoto.

"Richard Garriott has inspired countless game designers over the past 20 years and his influence can be seen in many of today's most popular games," said Ted Price, president, Insomniac Games. "He has become an icon inside and out of the games industry; because of his accomplishments and leadership within the field of interactive entertainment, Garriott deserves to be a member of the AIAS Hall of Fame."

Garriott is best known for creating and publishing the best-selling Ultima series, including the first commercially successful online game, Ultima Online.

Lowenstein on Games

There's a Doug Lowenstein presentation recap on Next Generation recapping a talk by the head of the ESA at the PR for Games Conference in San Francisco, discussing some of the challenges facing the computer and video games industry going forward:
Lowenstein pointed out that the majority of the movement to regulate game sales has come from Democrats who are scrutinizing the last presidential election results. The net result of that analysis is that President Bush had more than a 20% lead over Kerry with parents of youngsters. Lowenstein says that one of the take-aways Democrats have deduced is that making noise about protecting children will help address this shortfall in future elections.

"We need to change the debate," said Lowenstein. He pointed to the success of the cell phone industry, which in past years was under intense scrutiny for the alleged harmful effects of phone use. In the end, sheer consumer demand, expanded services and force of will has largely trumped the negative image of the industry.

Similarly, he says that discussions about gaming and its growth also have to be tied to its influence in other sectors. Gaming has been one of the primary factors in the adoption rates of broadband across the country and the world. In the coming generation of hardware, it will be a major driver of HDTV adoption. Impact beyond the direct financial contribution of our industry is a very compelling argument for politicians and reporters.

Hot Coffee
In the Q&A session that followed, Lowenstein recounted how large a setback the 'Hot Coffee' issue was for the industry. At the time of the debacle, the ESA was in the midst of discussions with Congress on issues of copyright and IP protection. But it soon found itself excluded as 'Hot Coffee' was deemed a distraction.

The Late Show

Site Seeing

The Pandemic Studios Website has been revamped, offering a home to the developer's future projects, including a new Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers Product Section for the upcoming squad-based strategy sequel. Also, the Official Website for Peter Jackson's King Kong - The Official Game of the Movie has relaunched, another Flash home to the upcoming game of the movie. Thanks Frans.

Evening Q&As

  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Q&A on XboxGamers is a conversation with Bethesda Softworks that took place before the recently announced delay to the RPG sequel (story). Many of the questions focus on their console system of choice and how the Xbox360 version will differ from the PC edition: "The differences will be pretty minimal. We like to create the game we want to make and put it on as many platforms as possible without changing the game. So, same quests, same functionality, etc. We’ll have downloadable content for both versions so you can add new things to your existing game. The big thing for the Xbox 360 is that it’s a known level of performance, whereas the PC could be any of 10,000+ combinations of hardware, OS, etc. But the game itself will be the same."
  • Hero's Journey
    MMORPG.COM's Hero's Journey Q&A #10 hears from Eric Slick about Simultronics' upcoming MMORPG: "We want to have enough collision detection that you won’t see visually odd things such as creatures or players walking through trees or other objects they clearly shouldn’t. However, it’s technically impossible to eliminate all visual oddities because games require imprecise collision detection. This includes players colliding with other players. Even if we have it, it won’t be visually precise in any case so in the end, gameplay (including abuses such as someone blocking a door to a key merchant) will dictate how colliding with other players will be handled."

Dungeon Siege Mod Tools

Gas Powered Games has released the mod SDK for Dungeon Siege II, offering a toolkit for those interested in modifying the action/RPG sequel. Thanks Frans.

Gold - Mac RollerCoaster Tycoon 3

Aspyr announces that the Macintosh edition of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is now gold. They don't specify an in-store date, but say the theme park sim will begin shipping next week.

Dragonshard European Patches

This Atari FTP Server offers downloads of new patches for the European versions of Dragonshard, updating various localized editions of Liquid's D&D RTS game to version 1.1.24b. Thanks Frans.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Thanks Mike Martinez.

Evening Mobilization

Thanks Mike Martinez.

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Which Peanuts Character are You? Thanks Ant. I'm Charlie Brown, but isn't everyone? I thought that was the appeal of the strip.

R.I.P.: 'Kramer's' mother dead at 72.

Peanut Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Play: Beer Golf. Thanks banddirector.
Link: Steve's Vintage Color TV page. Thanks Devicer.
Stories: Outside the box and inside your head.
Auction: Handmade Flying Spaghetti Monster Plush. Thanks EvilToast.
Follow-ups: Stern pulled after promoting Sirius.

New CSI Game

Ubisoft Announces development of a third installment in the series of games based on the series of CSI televisions shows. CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder is due next spring:
SAN FRANCISCO – November 8, 2005 – Today, Ubisoft, one of the world’s largest video game publishers, announced the latest CSI video game, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: 3 Dimensions of Murder™, to come out of its exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with CBS Consumer Products for CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) video games. CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder™ will be based on the characters and storylines from the original hit television series CSI, and will launch worldwide for PC in spring 2006. This is the third release in the CSI video game franchise.

Developed by Telltale Games, CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder™ will continue the authentic experience of Ubisoft’s popular CSI video games. Players will work alongside Gil Grissom, Catherine Willows and the rest of the original Las Vegas cast to help solve intense cases and investigate crimes using cutting-edge techniques and real-world forensic equipment. CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder™ improves upon the successful core design concepts of previous CSI games, featuring an all-new, real-time 3D engine, enriched character interactions and animations, and longer, more immersive stories.

“CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder™ will build upon the success of the previous CSI games with fresh new episodes that fans of the show will truly enjoy,” said Jay Cohen, vice president of publishing at Ubisoft. “We take the crime-solving team back to Vegas in a gorgeously rendered 3D environment complete with all the forensic science, tools and technology that players love to use; they will feel like they are part of the Las Vegas team!”

Ships Ahoy - JoWooD Compilations

Aspyr announces they've shipped the North American editions of four compilations of JoWooD games, though the bundles may be going out by tortoise, as they are not expected in stores for another 10 days. Here's word:
AUSTIN, TX (November 8, 2005) - Aspyr Media today announced it shipped to North American retail outlets four highly anticipated compilation PC titles – SpellForce Platinum, Gothic II Gold, Silent Storm Gold, and The Guild Gold. All of the compilations, which have been released internationally from JoWood, include the original title and their corresponding expansion packs. With SpellForce Platinum, players will get three games in one – the original and both of the game’s add-on pack. Each compilation pack will sell for $19.99 and is scheduled to hit retail shelves by November 18, 2005.

With these four games, Aspyr Media will offer PC fans a variety of gameplay genres, including role-playing, real-time strategy and simulation action. These titles help to round out the company’s 2005 PC offerings and Aspyr has more action and adventure coming out on the PC in the spring of next year.

Sawyer Sues Atari

Atari Facing Lawsuit by Rollercoaster Creator (thanks Frans and Gamecloud) has word that RollerCoaster 3 Tycoon creator Chris Sawyer is suing Atari for unpaid royalties from the mega-selling theme-park sim. The $4.8 million figure named in the lawsuit is impressive enough on its own, but is dwarfed by the royalties the designer has already received:
Of the $180 million generated by RollerCoaster Tycoon, Sawyer received around $30 million, but he says this is shy of the figure he ought to have received.

Lawyers have been wrangling about where the court case should be heard, because Sawyer is based in Britain. It's finally been given the go-ahead for a hearing in London.

Ships Ahoy - GUN

This Activision Press Release announces that GUN has shipped in the U.S. (thanks Frans), bringing the frontier days of wild west to the PC and Consoles:
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov 08, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Saddle up for the ride of a lifetime! Activision, Inc.'s (Nasdaq: ATVI) highly anticipated action game GUN(TM) has shipped to retailers nationwide. Developed by Neversoft Entertainment, GUN puts players in the role of Colton White, a vengeful gunslinger who straddles the line between good and evil as he makes his way through the untamed West of the late-1800s where greed, lust and brutality were a way of life.

"GUN transports players back to a time in American history when laws were virtually non-existent and the only true friend was a gun," said Dusty Welch, vice president of global brand management for Activision Publishing. "Players will be drawn into an epic free roaming action-adventure that will have them on the edge of their seats as they brave the elements and battle challenging enemies through the backdrop of the American West."

Ships Ahoy - The Matrix: Path of Neo

There is now spoon, and there was no gold announcement, but there is this announcement (thanks Frans) revealing that The Matrix: Path of Neo is shipping, and that Shiny's second game based on The Matrix movies is now available in the U.S. Here's a bit:
THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO is the first and only Matrix game that lets gamers take on the role of Neo and become "The One" by reliving his most important and memorable scenarios from the blockbuster motion picture trilogy of The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions from Warner Bros. Pictures. THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO is rated 'T' for Teen and is also available for purchase at www.thematrixpathofneo.com.

"THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO delivers the interactive Matrix experience fans have been waiting for -- now they can confront the challenges Neo faced and control their own gaming outcome with new, never-before-seen story responses and a completely new Matrix ending written and directed by the Wachowski brothers," said Marc Metis, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Atari, Inc. "The 'bullet time(TM)' special effects, martial arts combat and Hollywood-style action sequences re-created in THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO are sure to delight long-time franchise fans and appeal to new consumers."

Ships Ahoy - The Movies

This Activision Press Release announces that The Movies has shipped, and Lionhead's cinema simulation is ready for its closeup in the U.S. (thanks Frans). Here's word:
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov 08, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Lights ... Camera ... Action! Activision, Inc.'s (Nasdaq: ATVI) The Movies(TM) is ready for its close up and is now available at retail outlets nationwide. Created and developed by renowned life simulation pioneer Peter Molyneux and Lionhead(R) Studios, The Movies allows gamers to become the ultimate Hollywood player by building and running their own movie studio, from crafting and shooting unique movies to making or breaking the stars they discover and create.

"The Movies is the most comprehensive Hollywood experience ever," said Dusty Welch, vice president of global brand management, Activision, Inc. "Whether it's building and running the studio of your dreams or creating movie masterpieces, The Movies delivers something for everyone who has ever dreamt of making it in Tinseltown."

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Ships

EA Ships the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Videogame (thanks Frans) rounds out this morning's batch of shipping announcements with word that the latest adventures of the bespectacled boy wizard is appearing in stores in conjunction with the release of the movie of the same name:
CHERTSEY, England--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 8, 2005--Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are pleased to announce the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire(TM) videogame released today for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Xbox® video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube(TM), Nintendo DS(TM), Game Boy® Advance, and Windows PC. Launching in conjunction with the Warner Bros. Pictures film based on J.K. Rowling's fourth book, the game allows players to experience thrilling moments of the movie and master magic in cooperative play with up to two of their friends.

Chaos at Digital Jesters

KaosKontrol, Inc. terminates publishing agreement with Digital Jesters (thanks Frans) has more fallout from the uncertain state of publisher Digital Jesters (story), as the developer of PC titles BlowOut, Genocide and the upcoming DogTag (under the name DiezelPower Studios) has terminated their agreement, claiming breech of contract:
TOKYO - JAPAN - November 8th 2005: KaosKontrol, Inc. announces that Digital Jesters has been in breach of contract and that KaosKontrol has terminated the publishing agreement with Digital Jesters with immediate effect. KaosKontrol has additionally moved to petition a compulsory Winding-Up of the company 'Digital Jesters Distribution' with the district court of Birmingham in the United Kingdom and informs that its attorneys may initiate legal steps against the directors of Digital Jesters for fraud under section 206 of the Insolvency Act 1986. The development and ownership of game products are entirely unaffected and KaosKontrol will rapidly move to place them with another publisher.

Tony Tough 2 Delayed

German publisher DTP announces that Tony Tough 2: A Rake`s Progress is delayed, and the adventure game is now due in the first quarter of 2006. Thanks Frans.

Vietcong 2 Troubleshooting

The Pterodon Website (thanks Tiscali Games) has a guide troubleshooting Vietcong 2 for those experiencing problems installing or running the military shooter sequel. The post covers CD key issues, incomplete or interrupted installations, stuttering cinematics, and problems getting the game to launch.

Morning Q&As

  • GUN
    The GUN Q&A on Worthplaying talks with Neversoft President Joel Jewett about their upcoming wild west action game: "So BEFORE the capturing of the Western came, the list of what is going to be totally fun and entertaining to do in a Western game was written. And that’s basically the foundation for Gun. We started there. That’s where you have things like, 'Can we make riding a horse and combat on a horse more entertaining than anything that has basically been done before?'"
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    Gamers With Jobs Radio Episode Seven is their latest audio program, which includes an interview with producer Gavin Carter of Bethesda Softworks about The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, their upcoming RPG sequel.

Atari Gets Unreal

Atari Licenses Unreal Engine 3 (thanks Frans) has word on Epic Game's latest licensing agreement:
NEW YORK, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR - News), a leading global publisher and developer of video games, and Epic Games, developer of cutting-edge computer and video games and the pioneer of the award-winning Unreal® Engine, today announced that Atari has obtained the rights to use the Unreal Engine 3 and tools for games on next-generation platforms in a multiple-licensing agreement.

Morning Previews

The Mod Squads

Gamecloud's Soulkeeper Q&A talks with Don Morti, project leader on Soulkeeper, a recently released fantasy-themed modification for Unreal Tournament 2004.

Help Wanted

Remedy Entertainment is looking to remedy a personnel shortage at their Espoo/Helsinki (Finland) based offices. They have listed openings for an AI programmer, a game programmer, and an animator.

Tuesday Game Reviews

Tuesday Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

As the football season roars into its second half, there is disturbing news from the baseball front. Word is the GMs are considering implementing some sort of instant replay rule... I personally hate this idea. I like replays in the more techie sport of football, but not in the more organic sport of baseball. If they are looking to bite the bullet and take out the variables of human error from the grand old game, I think a much more worthwhile breakthrough would be to judge balls and strikes electronically. Umps very rarely get calls wrong on the base paths and such, and I feel these errors are part of the game. Watching umps enforce their personal opinion of the strike zone, however, is maddening. Bad enough that it seems no two of them share the same opinion about what constitutes a strike, but there are also too many cases of the same ump calling the same pitch differently during the same game.

On Target Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Links: Homestar Runner Costumes.
Free the Grapes! Thanks Devicer.
Story: Own Robby the Robot.
Science: Ship blasted pirates with sonic weapon.
Women May Enjoy Humor More, if It's Funny.
Russian, U.S. Crew Leave ISS for 5 Hours in Open Space.
Follow-ups: Stem-Cell Hopes Hit Home.
Mars Lander Still Missing (registration required).
Teh Funny: UserFriendly. Thanks Mox.
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