Archived News:

Thursday, Aug 09, 2007 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Settlers IV Beta

GameSpot is now offering the chance to beta test The Settlers: Rise of an Empire, the next installment in Blue Byte's strategy/management series. There aren't details on exactly what the beta entails, but it is specified that you must be a registered GameSpot member to participate.

Epic Versus Silicon Knights Counterclaim

Mark Rein: Epic Games Did Nothing Wrong; Silicon Knights is Stealing is an article describing a counterclaim Epic games is filing against Silicon Knights in response to Silicon Knights' lawsuit over what they say are shortcoming in the Unreal 3 engine and its support (story). Epic's motion to dismiss states that Silicon Knights, who apparently received a discount on their engine license, "decided to misappropriate Epic's licensed technology," and that "Indeed, the plain language of the Silicon Knights' Complaint makes clear that Silicon Knights wants to take Epic's Licensed Technology, pay nothing for it, and use it any way it pleases." As a follow-up, Silicon Knights Responds Epic Counterclaim Has No Merit; Too Human Development on Track quotes Silicon Knights saying Epic's case will not impact Too Human development, and: "We don't think Epic's counterclaim has any merit. We believe strongly that our claims in our complaint will prevail and the damages Silicon Knights has suffered in connection with its original complaint are vastly more, millions of dollars more than what Epic claims its damages are in its counterclaim. They've set forth $650,000 and our claims will dwarf that substantially."

NYC WoW Issues

New York Time Warner Connectivity Issues on the WoW Forums reveal an ongoing issue for Time Warner/Road Runner subscribers in the New York City area (thanks Shacknews). At this point Blizzard is saying the issue is on Time Warner's end, with some theories indicating packet shaping software is at fault. Time Warner denies this, but they are looking into identifying the cause of game issues, which apparently impacts other games, with Counter-Strike offered as an example.

The Spiderwick Chronicles Announced

Sierra announces The Spiderwick Chronicles, a children's game due for release next year. The game is based on a movie, which is in turn based on a book series. Word is:
Los Angeles (August 9, 2007) – Sierra Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games, today announced development of The Spiderwick Chronicles, a video game based on the upcoming 2008 theatrical release of the same name by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Films. The game, which will recreate the fantastical world of the Spiderwick film and best-selling book series, is in development at Stormfront Studios and will be available for the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system, Wii™ home video game system, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo DS™, and PC in February 2008.

The Late Show

  • Age of Empires 3: The Asian Dynasties
    A new Age of Empires 3: The Asian Dynasties trailer shows off one of those dynasties from the upcoming RTS expansion, specifically India. The clip can be downloaded from 3D Downloads, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.
  • Trainz Railwayz
    A new Trainz Railwayz trailer offers a look at the coming railroad simulation that's on track for a fall release. The movie is available on 3D Downloads, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Evening Q&As

  • John Carmack
    John Carmack Talks Rage, id Tech 5 And More on Game Informer is a conversation with id Software's technical director on the aforementioned topics. The conversation, from QuakeCon, touches on which platforms are easiest to target, DX10, Vista, Macs, Rage, and more.
  • Drakensang
    There's a Drakensang Q&A on Drakensang.info that is a translation of a German community Q&A with Fabian Rudzinski and Dennis Reichelt. They discuss character customization in the RPG, leveling up, skills, party interaction, and more.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Loki Demo

A playable English single-player demo for Loki is now available, offering a sample of Cyanide Studios hack 'n slash RPG. Word is: "In this 991 MB demo, players will jump into the blood-soaked boots of the Norse Warrior, one of the four characters available in the full game. The Norse Warrior is the toughest and most brutal character in the game, and prefers to deal death with two-handed weapons - including his trademark battle axe. As part of the demo campaign, players will have to collect elements needed to defeat Fenrir the legendary giant wolf and will also be able to level their character up to a max of 20 -- which means several hours of hack 'n slash fun for those who will want to explore the skill tree of the Scandinavian hero (200 is the maximum level you can reach in the game). In order to do this, players will face hundreds of enemies, wild beasts and other dangerous creatures that live in Myllkwoord forest, in the volcano and in the dungeons of the goblin city." The download can be found on 3D Downloads, ComputerGames.ro, FileFront, FileShack, Gameguru Mania, Gamer's Hell, and GameSpot (registration required).

Tabula Rasa Preorders

NCsoft announces that preorder packs for Tabula Rasa are now shipping to stores, and that Destination Games' MMORPG can also be preordered on their website starting tomorrow. Here's word on the incentives they are providing to inspire preorders:
Austin, Texas, August 9, 2007—NCsoft®, the world’s leading developer and publisher of online computer games, announced that the pre-order bonus pack for Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa® has begun shipping to retailers. The pre-order box offers customers several perks, including exclusive in-game items and a three-day head start when the product launches this fall.

Customers will find the pre-order bonus pack and digital pre-sale availability at various retailers in North America and Europe, as well as the NCsoft store at PlayNC.com.

Richard Garriott is best known for creating the Ultima® series, including Ultima Online, one of the first commercially successful massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) in North America. Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa, which is one of the most anticipated PC titles of the year, is set in an epic science-fiction story where players will be challenged by dynamic and fast-paced adventures on unique alien worlds.

Players who purchase the pre-order for Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa not only get a three-day head start on the live service, they also receive exclusive character emotes, exclusive in-game pets to accompany their characters, access to the beta test, and a DVD with the game client, bonus wallpapers and art.

“There is an amazing amount of anticipation for Tabula Rasa’s launch within our development team and the player community,” said Richard Garriott, executive producer. “The player feedback at this point has been extremely helpful and we’re putting the final touches on the game. This pre-order release truly marks the final stages in developing this epic adventure, and since owning the pre-order allows players beta access, it is a great way to try Tabula Rasa out before we launch the game.”

Please contact your local retailer for details on when Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa will be available on the shelf, or download it from the PlayNC store beginning Friday, August 10, at https://secure.plaync.com/cgi-bin/Store.pl.

For more information about Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa visit http://www.rgtr.com.

Red Stone Beta

K2 Network announces the launch of open beta testing for Red Stone, an upcoming free-to-play 2D fantasy-themed MMORPG:
IRVINE, Calif. – August 9, 2007 – K2 Network, Inc. (www.k2network.net), an online game publisher announced today that its upcoming 2D Fantasy MMORPG, Red Stone is now in beta and open to the public. The game can be downloaded for free at http://www.playredstone.com/download.php Red Stone, a Free2Play, episodic MMORPG, offers players a unique fantasy experience with a deep and compelling storyline set in a detailed and dangerous setting. Offering 8 unique transforming character classes and compelling strategic missions, the player will seek to recover the lost shards of a powerful jewel in order to restore peace to the destroyed world.

“Red Stone’s mesmeric storyline and highly original character set are just a few of the appealing ingredients,” said Matt Norton, Senior Producer at K2 Network. “Add to that its Free2play element and classic style presentation and gameplay, we believe Red Stone has global appeal that will charm and captivate the MMORPG community.”

K2 Network has also launched Red Stone’s new website and forums which will play host to exciting promotions within the game. Valuable prizes, unique and rare items, as well as complete PC gaming packages from top companies will be awarded to gamers who reach a key milestone in the game.

Gamers will enjoy Red Stone’s unique Transform System where all characters have the ability to change jobs and weapons as well as transform into other characters, enabling unique, strategic gameplay. Also setting it apart from other MMORPG’s, Red Stone characters do not use Mana (MP) when spells and skills are used; instead, they use a rechargeable Charge Point (CP) system, challenging players to use their skills strategically.

Gamers interested in being part of the open beta which is now live and continues through until early September should visit http://www.playredstone.com to sign up and start playing.

For more information on Red Stone visit the new site at www.playredstone.com.

Gold - BioShock

There's a Q&A with Ken Levine on Level Up discussing BioShock and its recent Game Critics' award for /beta action/adventure game at E3. Included in the conversation is the off-hand revelation that Irrational's eagerly anticipated first-person shooter is gold. Though there are no further details, the game's release date as established as August 21 several months ago (story). This news is hashed out a bit in the 2K Forums (thanks L.T.). In lieu of an official gold announcement, here's Ken's description of how they are celebrating this milestone:
We just had a team party in Boston, and then we have a event on the launch night on August 20th, which we’re inviting lots of people to, including members of the BioShock fan community. I'm actually looking forward to that, because launches are usually such abstract things. You wake up launch morning and it’s like, "Hey, our game has, umm, shipped to retail!" It’s not exactly like headlining at Madison Square Garden.

Ramayan Announced

This press release reveals plans for Ramayan, an MMOG based on an Indian comic book. We don't see many game announcements that include quotes from Deepak Chopra, so here's a first:
SAN DIEGO, California & NEW YORK, New York (AUGUST 9, 2007) — Through a deal that joins two of the world’s most innovative entertainment brands, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), a global leader in the online gaming industry, is teaming up with Sir Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra’s Virgin Comics to bring the popular, India-based Ramayan 3392 A.D. comic book universe to life as an MMO video game initially for the PC.

The deal was announced today by John Smedley, President of SOE and Sharad Devarajan, Co-Founder and CEO of Virgin Comics.

“Ramayan has inspired the lives of millions of people through the ages. The re-imagining of this great ancient epic through the creativity of a game platform re-affirms the fact that Ramayan is one of the greatest stories ever told,” said Deepak Chopra. “The fact that the same creative team of young Indians that created the story will be involved in working with SOE’s game development team, is a testament to the innovative and mythic minds of these gifted Indian creators who will take a new generation to new frontiers across the seas of consciousness into new realms of mystery, magic, adventure, and transformation.”

Through this exclusive multi-year, worldwide license agreement, SOE will develop and publish an MMO based on Ramayan’s story of mythological lore. Virgin Comics will serve as a creative consultant on the project. Virgin’s creative involvement with SOE’s game development team will be spearheaded by its President and head, Suresh Seetharaman, who has also overseen the development of the comic series. Also involved is acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, a co-founder of Virgin Comics.

“Virgin Comics approached us with a portfolio of amazing comic properties based on Indian lore. We particularly love Ramayan 3392 A.D., as we feel Virgin Comics’ telling of The R ® m ® yana is particularly gripping, graphically brilliant and lends itself extremely well to an MMO,” said Smedley. “This a fantastic time for us to expand our games to include this culturally rich storyline and we are honored to do this with a diversified, creative and experienced company like Virgin Comics.”

Virgin Comics’ Ramayan 3392 A.D., initially released as a comic in late 2006, re-imagines one of India’s greatest epics into a futuristic realm. Gotham Chopra, Virgin Comics’ Chief Creative Officer commented, “While many of the characters and settings remain familiar to the original lore, we never intended to re-tell the story, but essentially use it as the key inspiration for something fresh. What remains intact to our story are some of the core universal themes like duty, honor, sacrifice, and fraternity while also mining uniquely Indian ideas like karma (how action and consequence are linked) and the malleability of time itself. To bring all of these ideas into a game with SOE is just awesome.”

Devarajan concluded, “In a world increasingly dominated with games influenced by a western Tolkien mythos, Ramayan will offer gamers a chance to experience a whole new universe of characters and archetypes derived from one of the oldest cultures on Earth. Our mission at Virgin Comics has always been to allow this generation of Indian youth to have a creative platform through which to speak to the world. Through this collaboration with the likeminded visionaries at SOE, our young Indian creators will make gaming history worldwide.”

Battlefield 2 Stats Compensation

The Battlefield Website has word on plans to compensate players for stats lost during their recent Battlefield 2 stats outage (story) that it turns out cannot be recovered (thanks Ant and Planet Battlefield). Word is:
Following the June outage of Battlefield 2 player stats, DICE and EA have been working to compensate all players who were active during that time for the frustrating inconvenience we realise this issue represented. We were particularly eager to provide this as it was recently discovered that stats from some 64 player servers during the outage period cannot be recovered as we had previously believed and sincerely hoped. Stats from smaller servers should be unaffected however we realise this still represents a disappointing loss of play time recognition for some players and wish to apologise for that unanticipated outcome.

After examining all the options, it has been decided that players who were active during the stats outage will be granted an additional 2000 points as well as a gold star. This will be awarded to over 150,000 affected players from midnight onwards (US West coast time) on Wednesday August 8th. We hope this goes some way towards redressing the balance and wish to again apologise for the frustration this stats issue represented for many of you.

See you all on the Battlefield.

Tronji Announced

This press release announces Tronji, a children's MMOG that will use a rapid development cycle to come to market sometime next year. Word is: "Tronji is now ready for its first focus testing sessions which will involve many children over the next four months. A pre-alpha testing strategy was adopted to allow early feedback and to ensure that the development meets its tight deadlines. The team at Nice Tech is able to rapidly re-think any design issue that needs moderation based on the feedback from the young testers. Ben Simpson added “This mid-development, pre-alpha, core gameplay testing ensures that we get critical feedback from the players at an early stage. We can conduct online testing and follow what the players are doing and enjoy and use metrics to discover what’s working or needs modification."

Scallywag: In the Lair of the Medusa Demo

A demo for Scallywag: In the Lair of the Medusa offers a sample of Chronic Reality's recently announced single-player, action-oriented dungeonbash for Windows. The small download is available on the Shrapnel Games Website and mirrored on FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and Gameguru Mania.

Ultima Online Chat

Stratics Central announces tonight they will hold one of their House of Commons developer chat sessions with the folks behind Ultima Online to discuss the long-running MMORPG. The festivities kick off at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Medal of Honor: Airborne Movie

A new Medal of Honor: Airborne movie offers a look at the next installment in the World War II shooter series. The clip, which offers a look at multiplayer play, is available on ActionTrip, FileFront, FileShack, and Gamer's Hell.

Morning Q&As

  • id Software
    id Tech 5 Interview on Eurogamer is a conversation with id Software's Steve Nix about their new game engine technology, discussing the engine's strengths, developer reaction to what they've seen, competing with the Unreal 3 engine for licensees (no worries), and more.
  • Tabula Rasa
    The Tabula Rasa Q&A on Eurogamer is an article based on a discussion with Richard Garriott about the upcoming "blank slate" MMORPG.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened
    The Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Q&A on GamersInfo.net talks with Mario Kroll of CDV about the mystery game. Topics include the Cthulhu/Holmes hash-up, the game's setting, clues, getting around being stuck, whether a friend can play as Watson (nope), and more.

Morning Previews

  • Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway on ActionTrip.
  • TimeShift on IGN.
  • World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King on IGN.AU. Who is the Lich King?

Morning Screenshots

Thursday Game Reviews

Thursday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I'm off to get the stitches removed from my mouth. You know, in spite of us having spent the past week together… I don't think I'll miss them.

Unstitched Links! Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Links of the Morning: Batmobile Case Mod.
Nakamura Case Mod.
Top 10 QuakeCon Case Mods.
Stories: Video captures gun drama. This video. Thanks brother19.
Texas 'Redneck Games' draw thousands. Thanks brother19.
Science!: Potential Flaw Seen in Design of Fallen Bridge (registration required).
Feminine guys better for long-term love: study. Thanks Kxmode.
Introducing predatory fish could curb malaria. "There was an old lady…"
Image: Funny Business Name.
Media: 100 Gallons of gasoline and 100 gallons of propane (Boom).
How Your Dog Can Get Your Baby to Stop Crying. Live action Ren and Stimpy?
Starz Bunny Club Exclusive: Napoleon Dynamite. Thanks Neatorama.
Follow-up: Interest low, Segway user group folds.
The Funny: Penny Arcade! - Brains With Urgent Appointments.
ActionTrip Comic Strip: Space Invaders.
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