Archived News:

Thursday, Mar 06, 2008

InstantAction Instant Beta

The InstantAction Blog announces that open beta testing of InstantAction begins tomorrow, then quickly spills the beans that the beta can be accessed right now, offering the chance to check put their multiplayer shooter based on the revered Starsiege TRIBES.

More on the State of PC Gaming

Valve Explains Why PC Gaming's Gaining Steam is a Gamasutra Q&A with Valve's Doug Lombardi, who posits that PC gaming is not as troubled as some recent indications have some believing, in part because revenue generated from services like Steam, things like WoW subscriptions, and more casual games are not included in most evaluations of the marketplace: "If you took Steam, Peggle, PopCap, WoW and mixed it with NPD numbers, the world looks a lot different. All of a sudden, it looks like PC's probably the biggest one, and year over year, the fastest-growing." In contrast, Midway Prepping Casual Portal, U.S. PC Market 'Softening', also on Gamasutra, reflects Midway's feelings that the PC market in the US is softening, though the PAL market is still strong (some of the comments from Valve mention their perspective is global, not just for North America). As a result Midway, who just announced a loss of $100 million for last year, say they will be producing more casual console games going forward, and are also preparing to open a casual games web portal "in the near future."

ETQW Linux Beta

The Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars Website now offers the Linux client as well as the standalone server for the new version 1.5 beta for Splash Damage's teamplay shooter. This is an incremental update that requires version 1.4 to already be installed. The 1.5 BETA Issues forum is where to discuss the beta.

Infogrames offers to buy Atari

Infogrames offers to buy Atari reports that Atari's majority shareholder has offered to purchase the remainder of the troubled company:
Atari Inc. has announced that it received a letter from Infogrames Entertainment S.A., the company's majority shareholder, expressing its intent to acquire the remaining outstanding stock of the company.

Infogrames' offer, which is non-binding, amounts to USD 1.68 per share for the Atari Inc. stock it does not own.

Atari Inc. said that a special committee of the company's board of directors intends to undertake, together with its advisors, a thorough evaluation of the proposal.

Sins of a Solar Empire Patch Plans

The Sins of a Solar Empire Website has a preview of the upcoming version 1.03 patch for Ironclad Game's 4X space strategy game (thanks Gamer's Hell). Changes will include significant AI improvements and new game setup options, and they say a release is expected within the next week or two. For users who don't find changes they are hoping for among the nine items listed, they say they already have compiled a pretty large to-do list for the version 1.04 patch that will follow.

Lost Empire: Immortals Early

Paradox Interactive has tweaked the release schedule for Lost Empire: Immortals, Pollux Gamelabs 4X space strategy sequel. The game carried a March 15 release date when it was declared gold (story), but now the game is expected on March 11 in the US and March 14 in Europe.

SAGA Patcher Patch, Q&A

The SAGA Website now has downloads of a fix for the game's patcher utility that should clear up issues some users are having retrieving and installing automatic updates for the just-launched MMORTS game (thanks Gamer's Hell). On a related note, there's a SAGA post-launch interview with Slava Zatuchny on Ten Ton Hammer.

Guitar Hero and the Rock and Roll HoF

This press release announces a deal that Activision will sponsor a guitar exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Guitar Hero franchise. This will include a set-up at the HoF in Cleveland ("All the little kids growing up on the skids are goin' Cleveland rocks, Cleveland rocks!") where the game can be played as well as sponsorship of the Hall's 2008 induction ceremony in New York City this coming Monday.

Red Baron Returns

Stainless Games announces the release of Red Baron, a World War I aerial combat game developed by Stainless Games. Red Baron is also the title of a beloved game following a similar theme released by Dynamix in 1990 (thanks Gamer's Hell). Another unusual aspect of this game is that it is only being sold through Wal-Mart. A PS3 version is in the works, and here's word on the PC edition:
Red Baron returns to PC with intense dogfighting capable of supporting up to 8 players online.

Red Baron is an engaging arcade flight-shooter set in World War I where the player battles numerous enemies in a vast array of levels. Dogfight against intense computer AI in single player or wage war against 7 other aspiring "Aces" online. Take to the skies and rise through the ranks to ultimately become the "Ace" in Red Baron's squadron.

Features Include:

        • Dogfight in 21 highly detailed World War I Aircraft

        • Conquer all 24 challenging Single Player Missions

        • Engage up to 8 Players in Online Multiplayer in three modes: Deathmatch, Team-Deathmatch and Capture the Flag

        • Experience World War I air-war intensity through next-gen graphics

Frontlines for Call of Duty 4

Version 1.0 of the Frontlines Mod for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is now available (thanks Ant). Word is: "Frontlines will bring 3 brand new gametypes to Call of Duty 4, plus a smart spawn protection to avoid the spawn killing that is happening in all COD4 servers around the world. Also will come with a revolutionary feature called War Server, which will transform a single server in a full War, with many different battles and a final objective to complete. This War can be completely configured and depending of the size setted [sic] could finish in one day or take years to reach the end."

The Late Show

  • Age of Conan
    A new March trailer for Age of Conan is now available, showing off Funcom's soon-to-be-released MMORPG. This movie is located on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, and Gamer's Hell.
  • Chronicles of Spellborn
    A new video is now available for Chronicles of Spellborn, in which "You’ll see the starting zone located on the Parliament Shard, Hawk’s Landing, just outside the city of Hawksmouth." The clip can be found on FileFront and Gamer's Hell.
  • LEGO Indiana Jones
    LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is on display in a new trailer whipped up by Traveller's Tales. This movie is available from ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, and MyGameTrailers.

Evening Q&As

  • Legendary
    Spark's Craig Allen goes Legendary on Play.TM talks with the CEO of Spark Unlimited about Legendary, their upcoming mythology-influenced shooter: "And in looking at everything from aliens, that's been done a lot, maybe we'll do something with spectral forces, we went down the list... and came across these mythical creatures. Sure there have been games with mythical creatures, but they tend to be role-playing games. There really hasn't been a first-person action game that has taken on mythical creatures in a modern world setting."
  • 38 Studios
    Brett Close on the Unreal Engine 3 on Ten Ton Hammer is a Q&A with the president of 38 Studios, focusing on the selection of the Unreal Engine 3 as underlying technology for their mysterious upcoming MMORPG.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Game Guidance

Team Fortress 2 Strategies: "Badlands" on GameSpy. "We'll keep pushin' 'til its understood, and these badlands start treating us good."

Evening Gatherings & Competitions

etc., etc.

Crysis Issues & Workarounds

Crymod Modding Portal has a list of known issues and workarounds with the just-released version 1.2 patch for Crysis. A half-dozed potential issues have been identified, and there are workarounds for all but one of them. Thanks Ant.

Alien Arena 2008 Released

COR Entertainment announces the release of Alien Arena 2008, their freeware OpenSource first-person shooter follow-up. The Windows and Linux editions are available now, while the Mac OS X version is due in about a week. Word is:
This game is the followup to the critically acclaimed Alien Arena 2007, and features nearly all new game media, gameplay improvements, and a client that has been signifigantly upgraded for improved visual effects as well as major optimizations that greatly improve the fluidity and performance.

Alien Arena 2008 also offers a change to it's overall theme, moving towards a slightler darker, more serious tone, while still retaining a good bit of it's retro style, creating an interesting marriage between classic and modern sci-fi. This resulted in completely new player models, many new weapon models and textures, and seventeen, yes, seventeen new levels! The transformation is nothing short of remarkable.

There are major improvements in weapon effects, per-pixel lighting, texture resolution, and resource usage, as well as the addition of a cross platform server browser, FUSE. Weapons have been tweaked for better balance, and movement has been enhanced with the addition of dodging abilities. Alien Arena 2008 will run on Windows and Linux, and the OSX/Mac port will be released in one week.

StarCraft II Ads Correction

Blizzplanet has a clarification from Blizzard, who say that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick's comments about the potential for ads for StarCraft (story) do not actually reflect plans to place them in the RTS sequel. Apparently he was referring to the potential to put ads where they already exist according to their explanation:
We have no plans to have in-game advertising in StarCraft II. We believe Bobby was actually referring to Battle.net, which has always included ads

Beta NVIDIA Drivers for Crysis

New Beta version 169.44 ForceWare reference drivers are now available for GeForce FX, 6, 7, and 8 series GPUs, described as the recommended driver for the new version 1.2 patch for Crysis (thanks Gamer's Hell). There is a driver for Windows XP, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP x64, Server 2003 x64, Windows Vista 32-bit., and Windows Vista 64-bit.

Arctic Stud Poker Run Ships, Updated Demo

Got Game Entertainment announces the release of the full version of Arctic Stud Poker Run, the combat-racing poker dealie, which is now available for online purchase. Accompanying the release is an updated playable demo, which is mirrored on AtomicGamer and FileFront. Here's word:
Weston, CT – March 6, 2008 - Got Game Entertainment LLC today announced that “Arctic Stud Poker Run”, an arcade-style combat racing game for the PC, has shipped to retail across North America. Developed by Game Refuge, the veteran arcade team behind “Rampage World Tour” and “General Chaos”, “Arctic Stud Poker Run” is a decidedly irreverent, over-the-top reinvention of real-life cross-country "poker runs" in which players race from place to place picking up playing cards in an effort to assemble a winning hand. With its revolutionary multi-player battle experience, this action-packed “full-contact poker” game throws down high stakes, high speeds, and high explosives. “Arctic Stud Poker Run” makes its retail debut at $19.99 (USD) and is also available for immediate download purchase from www.ArcticStudPokerRun.com. The game is rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Comic Mischief, and Mild Violence.

No pleasant dealer in a bad tuxedo shirt and bow tie in this game. Rather, in this “friendly” game of cards featuring 37 unique, playable characters and 126 levels spanning 81 square miles in 9 environments, players race around on high-powered vehicles, engaging machine guns, dynamite, heat-seeking-missiles and more, to find, grab, or steal their winning hand.

“’Arctic Stud Poker Run’ lets you do all those things you daydream about while patiently sitting at a Texas Hold ‘Em table,” said Got Game Entertainment President Howard Horowitz. “Here’s your chance to steal cards, shoot machine guns, and put a bounty on the head of your biggest poker competition.”

While gameplay is fast and furious, “Arctic Stud Poker Run” allows players with varying skill sets to compete effectively thanks to the “Auto Card Swap” feature which alleviates the need for advance poker knowledge, plus the “Big Hand Possible” feature which advises the best available hands before the round begins. “Arctic Stud Poker Run” also features cash-based tournament scoring and a player-to-player bounty system for alliance formation.

For more information, visit www.ArcticStudPokerRun.com.

Crysis Patch

The long-awaited new patch for Crysis is now available to update either previous version of Crytek's science-fiction shooter to version 1.2. The Crymod Modding Portal has details on what's changed in the patch, summarized like so: "The main improvements in Patch 1.2 include tweaks to multiplayer, mod support and balance of weapons, AI and vehicles." The 361 MB download is mirrored on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, AusGamers, ComputerGames.ro, eXp, FanGaming, Fileaholic, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, PixelRage, and Strategy Informer. Update: A list of known issues and workarounds for version 1.2 is online.

Edge of Twilight Next Year

SouthPeak Games announces a 2009 release date for Edge of Twilight, which seems the same as the previous release date for this Unreal 3 engine steampunk action game, but since we can't seem to find that announcement in the archive, here's the new one:
GRAPEVINE, TX – March 6, 2008 – SouthPeak Games announced today that FUZZYEYES’ “Edge of Twilight” will be available for the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system, PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC in 2009. The game is currently deep in development at FUZZYEYES utilizing SouthPeak’s studio-wide Unreal Engine 3 license.

“We are very excited to help bring FUZZYEYES’ creative vision to life. The team spent a lot of time developing a comprehensive story to give the universe a history and purpose, which can change based on the players’ interaction within the world,” said Melanie Mroz, CEO of SouthPeak.

“Edge of Twilight” takes the player into a lavishly envisioned steampunk world to play as Lex, an outcast bounty hunter who finds himself caught between clashes of two polar opposite civilizations. Delivering a unique brand of fast-paced cinematic action, the game will be a truly immersive experience.

“It is energizing to see our unique vision take shape. We are bringing some unusual ideas to the table and so far we couldn’t be happier with the results,” said Wei-Yao Lu, CEO of FUZZYEYES. “Gamers should look forward to 2009!”

Edge Of Twilight will be released in 2009. Visit www.edge-of-twilight.com for more.

Europa Universalis III: In Nomine Announced

Paradox Interactive announces Europa Universalis III: In Nomine, an expansion for the real-time strategy sequel expected some time before summer, which seems oddly close to the planned release of Europa Universalis: Rome. In a twist we can't recall encountering before, this is actually an expansion for an expansion, as In Nomine requires the Napoleon's Ambition add-on:
New York, USA (March 6, 2008) – Paradox Interactive announced today a new expansion for critically acclaimed Europa Universalis III.

EU III - In Nomine (requires Napoleon's Ambition) is scheduled for a release before summer and fans of the series and strategy games can discuss the game further with more than 90,000 other gamer on the Paradox Forums.

"The idea for this expansion was born on our forums, said Producer and Head of the Paradox development team Johan Andersson". "In this case we felt that the forum wishes for the next EU III expansion was aligned with our visions for Europa Universalis III and we are really excited to launch this product".

Features include:

        • Start in October 1399 and the coronation of Henry IV of England. Experience over 50 more years of gameplay, experiencing the Byzantine Empire, Tamerlane and the end of the Hundred Years War.

        • Better overview of the decisions needed to shape the future of your country. Strive to create Great Britain, Make Paris worth a Mass, or institute an East Indian Trade Company. Act, rather than react, and implement decisions on both country and province level, with the new decision system, including hundreds of different decisions depending on situation.

        • Experience the new Mission System, where the player and AI alike will be given goals to achieve, providing endless replayability by guiding history along different tracks every time.

        • Rebels with a Cause. There are countless types of rebels, all with different goals, and different abilities. You may get colonial rebels in your colonies determined to get representation or independence, you may get reactionary nobles rising up to put the serfs back where the belong. Crush them by force, or negotiate with them, or even worse, watch them enforce their demands on your country.

        • Religious tolerance now depends on the ideas and decisions you take, making it a new layer of strategy. As cardinals stay loyal longer, the power of the Papa Controller has grown, as he can now excommunicate rulers, and call crusades against infidels.

        • Revised AI, focusing on strategic top level goals, with support for fully scriptable logics.

Retail Damnation Announced

This press release announces Codemasters' plans for a retail version of Damnation, a project that began life as a modification that was runner-up in the mod category in the Make Something Unreal Competition (story). A new Damnation Product Section is home to the game, which is due for Games for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 later this year. Here's word:
Tuesday, 6th March 2008 – 2pm UK – Codemasters®, a leading video game publisher, and US creative studio Blue Omega Entertainment today announced Damnation™, a new videogame franchise set to come leaping onto the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft®, the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and Games for Windows® this winter.

Evolving the shooter genre with its unique and exhilarating combination of fluid action and combat, Damnation will feature huge, open environments, frenetic combat, daredevil acrobatics and high-octane vehicle-based stunts. Presenting players with an intense test of reflexes, quick thinking and rapid-fire conflict, Damnation will feature vast, breathtaking landscapes, each covering miles of distance and thousands of vertical feet.

Billed as a 'shooter gone vertical' and visually inspired by iconic elements of American history, these massive streaming landscapes will form the battlegrounds for a post-industrial conflict between humanity and an unstoppable arms dealer hell-bent on total world domination.

Players will be able to choose their own paths and navigate the world by performing daredevil feats on the edge of human ability. However players aren't the only ones with mind-blowing acrobatic skills; intelligent enemies will give chase and engage players in frantic gun fights and attacks that can come from any direction – in Damnation's world there's no safe place to hide.

With up to three hours of actual gameplay stretching out in front of them per level, players will need more than just muscle power to get across each level safely. Damnation will offer players a selection of awe-inspiring vehicles, from motorbikes capable of launching across seemingly infinite chasms, to huge, armour-piercing marvels that will induce mayhem with every huge shell.

The high action will be supported with an epic and in-depth story which, while focusing on the exploits of the hero character Rourke, is truly an ensemble piece. Players will meet and become involved in intricate story plots that reveal much more than the obvious.

In addition to the single player experience, Damnation comes complete with a unique set of multiplayer options that take full advantage of the game's expansive levels. Currently in development at Blue Omega's facilities in Annapolis, USA, Damnation will be available for Xbox 360, the PLAYSTATION 3 system and Games for Windows in late 2008. For more information and to catch a glimpse of what the future of gaming has in store, visit www.codemasters.complaydamnation.

Individual Orange Box Games Next Month

Joystiq reports an April 9 street date for the retail editions of the individual games from Valve's Orange Box collection (thanks Mike Martinez). Indications are the MSRP for Portal will be $29.99 and $19.99 will be the price for Team Fortress 2 or Half-Life 2: Episode Two.

Ads in StarCraft II?

IncGamers highlights an overlooked tidbit mentioned by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick in his recent talk at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference that leaves the door open for in-game ads for StarCraft II:
Kotick says that, on the Blizzard side, the company has started to think about how Starcraft - as a short session experience - can actually be the model for in-game advertising and sponsorship and tournament play and ladder play for the future.
"These are the early days, but these are the kinds of things that have come out of just the first few months of integration planning," he said.

Dungeon Runners "Heave"

NCSoft announces a new "heave" for Dungeon Runners, their free online role-playing game. Heave is their latest addition to the gaming lexicon to go along with "chunk" (chunks being major updates and heaves being smaller ones, though we can only hope they can find a way to combine these terms into something that involves heaving chunks). The announcement they sent does not specify this is live yet, and the latest Patch Notes do not reflect the update (perhaps these are chunk notes, rather than heave notes). In short, the new version entails "some frosty surprises including snowmen, a new dungeon, new items and improvements to the waypoint system."

Loki Patch

The Loki Website offers a new patch to update Cyanide's action/RPG to version 1.0.8.3, the link they provide for list of "correctives" and improvements does not actually work, but the front page does say this: "This patch contains all previous correctives as well as new improvements for the game, including a better cheat protection system…" The update can be applied to either the DVD or the download editions of the game, and the incremental patch is mirrored on FileFront, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and PixelRage and the full patch is on ActionTrip, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and PixelRage.

Dominions 3 Patch

The Dominions 3: The Awakening Downloads Page offers new patches to update the Windows, OS X, and Linux editions of Illwinter's fantasy-themed strategy game to version 3.15. Word is: "As you've come to expect the patch, which is version 3.15, contains a mixture of cool new features and the elimination of a number of bugs. Players will happily note that one of those eliminated bugs is the scale spread bug that brought woe to some. Some other notable highlights that should bring a smile to your face and put a spring in your step: MA Ulm and LA Abysia boosted and Ermor domkill at proper levels now."

Carriers at War Patch

Matrix Games has released a new patch for Carriers at War that updates the World War II naval combat game to version 1.02.2. Described as "quick but helpful," this small patch address a couple of issues that cropped up following the recent version 1.02 patch.

Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines Patch

The Patches Scrolls, official home of the unofficial Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines patches, now offers a new version 4.9 update for the Source-engine action/RPG from deceased developer Troika Games. The patch is available as an incremental update for version 4.8 and as a full patch for the last "official" version of the game.

Co-op Renaissance

Cooperative games get casual players involved on the San Francisco Chronicle discusses the impact cooperative multiplayer support can have upon the success of a game, suggesting even the mainstream press appreciates a point that sometimes seems lost on actual game developers. This may be changing as the article highlights what they feel is a trend in the right direction in this regard, citing Rock Band, Gears of War, Rainbow Six Vegas, and Army of Two as recent examples of games with strong co-op support, and titles such as Resistance 2, Fable 2, and Haze as upcoming releases with co-op support.

On Turning Point Reviews

Turning Point dev hits back at poor review scores on VideoGamer.com is an article based on a conversation with Spark Unlimited CEO Craig Allen, who reacts to lukewarm review scores for Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, the upcoming alternate-history shooter. The scattershot list of explanations for this include the game being a "high concept idea," that it isn't targeted at the "core gamer," and that developing the game while Epic was developing the Unreal engine made just getting the game on shelves their "biggest hurdle." While he doesn't ever say Turning Point was not polished enough, he does say additional polish is one of the things that will be different about Legendary, their next project.

King's Bounty: The Legend Website

A new King's Bounty: The Legend Website offering a full-featured home to 1C Company's upcoming project: "an adventure game with tactical turn-based battles and role-playing elements. In a fairy tale fantasy world of fearless knights, evil mages, wise kings and beautiful princesses the player controls a hero who explores the game world, commands armies in battle and accomplishes incredible quests." The site offers information on the game along with artwork and other media, with videos and more on the way.

Magic Bus to Stop in NA

Meridian 4 announces plans to publish The Magic Bus in North America and Australia this May, allowing folks in those territories the chance to get in touch with their inner Ralph Kramden (or Otto-man or Who fan) with this transport game already available in Europe. Word is: "In Bus Driver, your job is to transport passengers around an attractive and realistic city. You must drive to a timetable on a planned route, while obeying traffic rules, and taking care not to upset or injure your passengers. This makes Bus Driver unlike any other driving game - the experience of driving a bus is very different from blazing through a racing circuit."

Help Wanted at Zombie Games

Zombie Games has put out the call for level designers as they work on a pair of upcoming Unreal-engine games. Thanks Beyond Unreal.

Morning Preview

  • D.I.P.R.I.P. on Mod DB. Half-Life 2 modification.

Morning Screenshots

Wednesday Game Reviews

Wednesday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Small explosion hits New York's Times Square is the news that met me when I hit the news desk this morning. The video they were showing on TV at the time offered a sight I have never seen in a lifetime living in the New York City area: the entirety of Times Square closed off to traffic, with not a single car in sight on Seventh Avenue or Broadway, normally one of the busiest intersections in the entire world. What a strange scene! Anyway, thankfully no one was hurt.

R.I.P.: Leonard Rosenman 1924-2008.

Deserted Links!: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Galactic Dodgeball.
Drunken Masters.
Link of the Morning: Slurm is coming!! (maybe). Thanks Dean.
Stories: Men who do housework may get more sex.
Cemetery full, mayor tells locals not to die.
Vegas clinic may have sickened thousands.
Media: Will Ferrell's The Landlord Criterion Edition w/commentary.
Bikini fashion show.
Sophie Would You Like Some Air? Terriers rule.
Follow-up: Buffett Ousts Gates as World's Richest Man.
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