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Thursday, Nov 30, 2006

  

SkillGround

SkillGround (thanks Shacknews) is a newly launched service from GrooveGames that features online competitions for real cash money in WarPath, Close Quarters Conflict, Kung Fu: Deadly Arts, and L.A. Street Racing. Games can be played for free, or you can put your money where your mouse is and wager on yourself.

Introversion and amBX

Introversion Software announces plans for an amBX edition of DEFCON, as well as their goal of also creating amBX editions of Darwinia and Uplink. amBX is a multimedia peripheral system that adds lighting and wind control to the gaming experience. This seems suited to action games, but they are finding ways to adapt it to strategy games as well:

DEFCON is the latest offering from indie-developers, Introversion, which enjoyed a successful launch in September 2006. DEFCON is an online multiplayer strategy game simulating global thermonuclear war. The game, inspired by the 1983 cult-classic film Wargames, superbly evokes the tension, paranoia and suspicion surrounding the Cold War era.

‘amBX and DEFCON are ideally suited to each other’, commented Chris Delay, Lead Developer at Introversion, ‘With our third game DEFCON we spent a huge amount of time trying to create the atmosphere of being buried deep within an underground bunker, slowly ending the world in the last war that will ever be fought. amBX is ideally suited to enhancing that atmosphere, taking it out of the confines of what’s right in front of you on-screen, and expanding it into your whole room.’

Combining DEFCON with amBX brings the whole messy scenario of nuclear war direct to the player’s bedroom. Flashes of blinding white light and gentle rumbles indicate when your missiles have hit home. Whilst a spine-chilling rush of air announces the raining down of fallout on millions of innocents. Meanwhile the dread of realisation approaches as the lights fade, the music slows, and your population withers. DEFCON amBX is a harrowing experience that will ensure you’re never so blasé about thermonuclear global war again.

Star Wars Galaxies Updated

LucasArts and SOE announce that the latest chapter in Star Wars Galaxies is live:

LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment today announced that Chapter 4: Armed and Ready for Action is now available to Star Wars Galaxies subscribers. Chapter 4: Armed and Ready for Action is the latest in a series of updates that Star Wars Galaxies subscribers will automatically receive throughout the remainder of 2006 and into 2007, as part of their regular subscription to the game.

To date, four of the Star Wars Galaxies professions have benefited from the new Profession Expertise System, and with Chapter 4: Armed and Ready for Action, the final three combat professions (commando, spy and medic) will see the system introduced for them as well. In addition, commandos will receive a powerful new battle boost as they rack up enemy casualties.

The Late Show

A new Penumbra: Overture movie offers a high-resolution look at Frictional Games' upcoming first-person horror game, accompanied by developer commentary. The clip can be found on 3D Gamers and Worthplaying.

Evening Q&As

  • Darkfall
    The Darkfall Q&A on MMORPG.COM talks with Tasos Flambouras about Darkfall, Aventurine's upcoming MMORPG: "Darkfall features unrestricted PvP combat with accountability. Combat is real-time and attacks are aimed. There's full looting and an alignment system. Darkfall has a skill system where your character's skills improve through use, and no levels. More than 10 thousand players can be online at the same time. Player skill is as important as character development. All items in the world are player crafted. There is mounted and naval combat. There's a "real" weather and planetary system. The terrain is fully hand-crafted, all locations are unique. There are more unique mobs in Darkfall than in any other MMO. Clans can engage in empire building, conquest, massive battles, and there is control and ownership of areas. There's much more that we haven't and won't talk about before the game is released."
  • Mythic Wars
    The Mythic Wars Q&A on gry.o2.pl offers a bilingual English and Polish conversation with Alexey Kozyrev about 1C Company's turn-based strategy game: "It's a classic turn-based war game with a plot and non-linear unit development. It is important to create a good army and to learn how to use it properly, in order to achieve mission goals. It is also necessary to know about environmental influences and unique unit abilities. The only player resource is money, which is acquired when cities are captured or after a mission is completed. Money gives an opportunity to recruit new detachments and to upgrade old ones. The whole army moves with player from mission to mission and develops up to the end of campaigns."

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Legal Briefs

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

etc., etc.

Thanks Mike Martinez.

Into the Black

We had a lovely mild day today, apparently putting us in the lucky minority, as a severe winter storm has socked most of the country. We're supposed to get some of it tomorrow, but even then, apparently it will be thunderstorms, and not snow, like elsewhere. This certainly has been the mildest November I can recall.

Mild Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Links of the Evening: Japanese Kids Super-gluing Wii Controllers to Their Hands.
Radio-controlled airgun picks off unsuspecting rodents, children. For xXBatmanXx.
Scatological Barbie.
Stories: Americans drive less for first time in 25 years.
A slow liftoff for the personal helicopter.
Killer whale breaks trainer's foot at theme park. Thanks Boing Boing.
Science!: Scientist Says Concrete Was Used in Pyramids (registration required). Why do I remember this from years ago?
Single massive asteroid wiped out dinosaurs study.
Media: Dallas Clark Madden 07 Apology Video. Thanks Miindstorm.
Forget the physics lesson - dude jumps over 13 people.

Guild Wars Weekend Event

ArenaNet announces plans to inflict the Domain of Anguish on players who have completed Guild Wars: Nightfall in a special event this weekend:

Fans of Guild Wars® know that weekend events are part of the fun, and this weekend is truly special as we launch the opening of the Domain of Anguish! Players who have completed Guild Wars Nightfall™, the latest game in the award-winning Guild Wars universe, will be given access to this elite area through the Chantry of Secrets. Players will find four separate areas to explore, nearly a dozen quests, new armor upgrade options, a system for acquiring novel weapons, and of course a compelling mission as well. Stay tuned to www.GuildWars.com for more details!

Dare I say, have fun in the Domain of Anguish!

Sword of the Stars Patch

Lighthouse Interactive now offers the second patch for Sword of the Stars, updating Kerberos Productions' 4X space strategy game to version 1.2.1 (thanks Frans). The patch is said to offer "an impressive set of features & fixes further improving and upgrading gameplay" created in "Close co-operation with the very active Sword of the Stars community and online forum." Word is: "The patch can be used by both English as well as localized versions of the game (except Russian)."

Football Manager 2007 Patch

As noted on the Football Manager Website, a new patch is available for the PC, Mac, and Intel Mac editions of Football Manager 2007, updating Sports Interactive's sports management sequel to version 7.01 (thanks Frans). Word is: "The patch will fix a number of issues that were brought to the attention of the dev team by the community, the majority of which only affect a small amount of users. The patch is saved game compatible, but for the full effects, a new game should be started." The Sports Interactive Website offers a list of download locations for the patches.

Armed Assault German Patch

This forum post links to downloads of a new patch for the German edition of Armed Assault, bring this localization of Bohemia Interactive Studio's military shooter. The update also reproduces the read me for the patch, which is likewise in German. Thanks The Patches Scrolls.

Vista on the Horizon

Steve Ballmer Kicks Off Most Significant Product Launch in Microsoft's History is the press release with more on the news, noted in an earlier Tech Bit, that Windows Vista is now available to volume licensing customers, along with the 2007 edition of Microsoft Office. Here's a bit from the announcement, which likely confirms the newest edition of MS's OS will make its most recent consumer release date of January 2007:

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- At a press conference at NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT - News) Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced the business availability of the Windows Vista(TM) operating system, the 2007 release of Microsoft® Office, and a host of other new product offerings designed to enable businesses to thrive in a world of instant communication, expanding information and constant change.

Today's announcement that Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office release are available to volume licensing customers marks the beginning of the most significant product launch in company history and the first simultaneous release of Microsoft's flagship products since the joint launch of the Windows® 95 operating system and Office 95 more than a decade ago. Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system will be available to consumers and organizations without volume license agreements on Jan. 30. In addition to Windows Vista and the 2007 release of Office, Ballmer discussed more than 30 new offerings for business customers. A complete list is available at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/default.mspx .

Prey on Steam

The Steam Website has word that Prey will be released on the Steam service today. This solves the problem for owners of the game by way of the now-defunct Triton service (story) who have not yet received their boxed copy (story), and offers an interesting counterpoint to negative comments about Steam from Scott Miller just yesterday (story). Word is:

Prey will be available Thursday, November 30 on Steam for $49.95. Previous purchasers of the retail or downloaded editions of Prey can activate a copy on Steam at no cost by using their existing product key.

Sam & Max: Episode Two Plans

GameTap and Telltale Spread More Sam & Max Mayhem with Original Machinima Shorts and Episode 2 (thanks Frans) unveils plans for "Situation: Comedy" the next episode in the Sam & Max series, to debut on GameTap on December 21, to follow on January 5, 2007 on the Telltale Games website. They are also kicking off a series of machinima movie releases to build towards the launch:

ATLANTA, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- GameTap, the first-of-its-kind broadband entertainment network from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.), and interactive entertainment pioneer Telltale today unveiled exciting news about their critically-acclaimed Sam & Max franchise. In addition to revealing details about "Situation: Comedy," the second installment in the hilarious "Sam & Max: Season 1" episodic video game series, today marks the premiere of the first original Sam & Max machinima short on GameTap TV.

The new animated shorts were created using machinima, an innovative filmmaking technique that utilizes the real-time 3D virtual environment of a video game. Sam & Max use their newfound time in the spotlight to tackle whatever outrageous issue they've happened upon. From reality TV to Aristotle, and from day-trip destinations to turkey franks, everything and anything is fair game for the dynamic detective duo. Beginning with today's debut, a new short will air on GameTap TV every Thursday leading up to the launch of each new, full-length episode of the "Sam & Max: Season 1" video game series. These shorts will be released on the Sam & Max sites at both Telltale (www.telltalegames.com/samandmax) and GameTap (www.gametap.com/samandmax) four days after they are released to GameTap subscribers.

More Dark Messiah Patch Plans

The French Ubisoft Forums offer word on plans for a single-player patch for Dark Messiah of Might and Magic in addition to the planned multiplayer update reported here last night (story). Thanks to our French friends at NoFrag for the news, as well as a rough translation of what's in the works, which include ramping up the game's highest difficulty level, a "very hard" difficulty level will be added, the later half of the campaign will be more difficult to compensate for your characters advancing abilities, new texture resolution options, and fixes for all the major identified bugs.

WoW Patch Plans

The World of Warcraft Forums describe the upcoming "before the storm" update for Blizzard's MMORPG (thanks Ant and WoWBreak.com) that will implement the new PvP honor system:

The next World of Warcraft content update, “Before the Storm,” will include the new PvP Honor System, as well as other new features that will prepare us for The Burning Crusade expansion. We are currently planning to release this content update next Tuesday, December 5. Please note that the patch date is still subject to change, and we will keep you informed of any changes to the plan as they happen.

If the patch goes live as planned, this will be the last week that new PvP ranks under the old Honor System can be earned, as the patch will immediately introduce the new Honor System. We will run one final honor calculation on December 5 and update everyone’s ranking accordingly on that date so that players who achieve a new rank for that week have the opportunity to display that title on their character. Please note, however, that no new PvP rewards will be unlocked for purchase with this final “old Honor System” calculation, regardless of any increase in rank.

For those who have been seeking high-rank PvP armor and weapons, note that the new Honor System will still include these item rewards, and it will actually be easier to earn these items under the new Honor System than under the old Honor System. Those who wish to see how their PvP abilities measure up against other players will still be able to do so under the new Arena System.

Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War Ships

Matrix Games announces the availability of Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War, their new grand turn-based strategy game:

Western Civilization Software and Matrix Games release their American Civil War grand strategy title.

Matrix Games and Western Civilization Software (www.west-civ.com) are pleased to announce the release of Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War strategy game. Based on the Crown of Glory engine, Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War is the latest incarnation of Western Civilization Software's already popular Napoleonic War title.

David Heath, Director of Operations expressed his excitement that the next grand strategy project from Western Civilization has finally come to fruition: "Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War includes all of the addictive gameplay that brought such high acclaim to Crown of Glory while still capturing the look and feel of commanding large armies during the Civil War. Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War is a fun, accessible game for strategy fans and a rich historical journey back to the 1860s for Civil War buffs and grognards."

Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War is a operational level turn-based strategy game that allows the player to command brigades at the tactical level in classic hex-based combat. However, Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War is not only a standard operational military strategy game as it also gives you complete control over military, economic and political developments.

Runaway 2 German Demo

ANACONDA now offers a German language playable demo for Runaway 2: Dream of the Turtle, the adventure sequel that just shipped to German stores. The demo is entirely in German. Thanks Frans.

Morning Preview

  • World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade on IGN.

Morning Screenshots

  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl on ToTheGame.

Morning Legal Briefs

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Mobilization

Thanks Mike Martinez.

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Gatherings & Competitions

Game & Mod Development

Thursday Game Reviews

Thursday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

MrsBlue and I think it's not our imagination that Gunnar seems to be responding to his antibiotics pretty quickly. His eyes look clearer, and his incredible liquid consumption already seems to have abated. We've still got our fingers crossed, and are appreciative of all of you who are keeping our ailing poodle in their thoughts.

Medicated Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Play: Superhero-Villain Name Generator.
Link of the Morning: PlayStation 3 vs. Nintendo Wii on The Onion.
Stories: Blood Donors Save Plunging Pets.
HBO hears word, brings 'Preacher' to small screen. Thanks Neutronbeam. My friends think I should be Cassidy.
Baby Needs New Shoes and a $4,000 DVD Scrapbook (registration required).
Science!: GM Shocker! Plug-in hybrid SUV announced.
Media: Pit Bull vs. Dog Handler. Horrific. NSFW language.
Whiteboard stop motion.
Teh Funny: ActionTrip Comic Strip: Punage.
FoxTrot.



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