Archived News:

Thursday, Jul 17, 2008 World Emoji Day

Step Closes, Inhabited Island: Still Coming (Eventually)

The Ilya Chudakov Q&A on Adventure Classic Gaming talks with one of the folks from Step Creative Group, learning that the Russian developer has once again shut its doors. In spite of this, they report Akella has expressed a commitment to completing the much-delayed English edition of Inhabited Island: The Earthling, Step's latest adventure game based on a science fiction novel by the Strugatsky brothers. The conversation focuses on the game itself, but they do also touch upon localization and support issues:
To tell you the truth I do not work in Akella, so I do not know if they take part in the game localization. But what I know for sure is that we have collected all the materials to be localized, and made a raw translation to English of all in-game texts, when I was working in Step Creative Group as a game designer.

Ubisoft Pirates No-CD Crack?

From the man bites dog file, the Ubisoft forums have indications that in order to get around Ubi's own copy-protection for the Direct2Drive edition of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2, a version of the game cracked by a piracy group may have been, well, pirated and distributed. An examination of the internals of the executable allegedly reveals the embedded tag from the pirate group. Thanks Chris.

Red Faction: Guerrilla Trailer

Part one of a "destruction trailer" from Red Faction: Guerrilla highlights the physics-based destruction and the stress system Volition is creating for their shooter sequel, and how this sets the game apart from other destructible environment games. The narrative in this developer diary also outlines the issues that go into designing buildings in the game. The movie is posted on ActionTrip and AtomicGamer.

Tomb Raider: Underworld Trailer, Release Dates

Eidos recently unveiled November 21 as the EU release date for Tomb Raider: Underworld, and now offer November 18 as when to expect the return of Lara Croft in North America. On a related note, a new trailer from the game is online. Word is: "This new trailer takes you through the developer Crystal Dynamics' vision for the game, with commentary from key team members: Erics Lindstrom (Creative Director), Dan Neuberger (Lead Artist), Rob Pavey (Lead Programmer) and Harley White-Wiedow (Lead Designer). The trailer reveals new assets including early footage, screenshots and concept artwork from several of the game's breathtaking levels." The clip is on FileFront.

New ATI Radeon Drivers - Updated

The ATI Drivers & Software page is where to find new version 8.6 reference drivers for AMD/ATI Radeon series accelerators. These release notes outline what's new and different, including OpenGL Adaptive Anti-Aliasing Custom Filters support, OpenGL CrossFireX™ (QUAD) support, and no reboot required upgrades. Update: These actually came out last month. Sorry about that.

Evening Previews

♪ ♫ Intermission ♫ ♪

Evening Screenshots

Into the Black

Here's the Watchmen trailer (thanks Kxmode). I've been trying not to get my hopes up, but that looks pretty perfect, and my hopes have grown so powerful they are now spending time brooding on Mars.

Who Watches the Links?: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Battle Mechs.
Robomaro. Thanks Jay is Games.
Link: Bear Breaks Into Circuit City, Has As Much Luck Locating An Employee As You Do. Thanks Capella.
Stories: Penis costume draws apology. We're sorry penis costume!
Air hostess picks up chocolate bar, wins space trip.
Science: Grunting fish yield vocal clues.
Media: Going Back To Philly - It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Thanks Enahs.
Groverfield.
Tiny Dog Has Been Barking Nonstop For 6 Years. Thanks Digg.

MMO KOTOR Confirmed?

EA to Play in Knights of the Old Republic Portfolio.com's Technology Blog seems to offer confirmations of a BioWare-developed Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic MMOG straight from EA boss John Riccitiello (thanks DenonSix), in what seems like an oddly low-key approach to such a highly anticipated announcement:
N. Evan Van Zelfden in Los Angeles warns, watch out World of Warcraft. In an interview at E3 this week, Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello said that EA is working on the next version of Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic, and it will most certainly have a massively multiplayer online component to it.

"We've got two of the most compelling MMOs in the industry in development," said Riccitiello. The first title, based on the Warhammer property, will launch soon. "And the one that people are dying for us to talk to them about -- in partnership with Lucas, coming out of BioWare, which is, I think, quite possibly the most anticipated game, full stop, for the industry at the point when we get closer to telling you about it."

Does Riccitiello mean the oft rumored Knights of the Old Republic Online? "Yes," he said.

Moving into MMOs is an essential component for any gaming company, and it's a big part of the reason Vivendi merged with Activision, for that company's World of Warcraft MMO.

Riccitiello told Portfolio.com that he was interested in owning World of Warcraft, and that he did discuss it, but it wasn't in the cards. "Because [Vivendi] couldn't afford control of EA, and I wasn't giving it up."

But EA is firmly on that path now, with a KOTOR MMO, which would sidestep the consoles owned by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. "Increasingly, people are going to be talking about direct-to-customer in our business," said Riccitiello. "I think we'll be talking about it louder than most."

World of Warcraft Achievements Coming

The World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Website announces that achievements will be added to World of Warcraft with the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Here's a bit:
World of Warcraft’s achievements come in several varieties. Some simply require specific actions to unlock, such as getting a haircut or defeating a member of each race in your opposing faction in PvP. Others involve a progress bar and require you to do something several times -- such as give out 10 hugs. Some achievements are progressive; for example, once you complete an achievement to collect 10 vanity pets, you might next be asked to collect 25. Finally, meta achievements unlock when you complete other achievements -- unlocking all World Exploration achievements (see below) unlocks a World Explorer meta achievement. Some achievements, including those that involve quests, honorable kills, items currently in your possession, skills (including professions), exploration, and reputations, will be applied to your character retroactively.

HanbitSoft on Flagship

HanbitSoft: "Flagship Is Selfish And Irresponsible" on Hellgate Guru translates an article originally written in Korean where HanbitSoft lays into Flagship management over the uncertain state of the Hellgate: London and Mythos IPs (story), and says they are considering legal action to protect their interests and those of their userbase. Here's a bit:
According to HanbitSoft, they offered several methods and the means to keep Flagship alive in consideration of the users, but Flagship majorly lacked in effort. Hanbitsoft already has offered large amounts of investments but Flagship replied with ridiculous counter-offers and the negotiations went south. Even so, HanbitSoft continued to make investment offers which were all rejected, leading to the lay-offs of all of the Flagship employees.

HanbitSoft also stated, “Flagship not only lacked effort, but were only looking for personal gain. Firing all of the Flagship employees in order to protect the personal interests of its founding members only shows how selfish and irresponsible they are.”

Dawn of War II Free GFW Support

IGN has word from Microsoft explaining the absence of PC gaming news at E3, in spite of the staggering support they are throwing behind their "Games for Windows" program that has so taken the gaming world by storm. Kevin Unangst of the Games for Windows program describes the show as "the battle of the consoles," as if somehow this is unrelated to the fact that they seem to be de-emphasizing PC games. IGN also points out they've discovered that Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II will have "gold" level Games for Windows matchmaking support for free out of the box. They question why they learned this from Relic's community site, rather than a Microsoft announcement, getting the following response: "Don't confuse a focus on the console at E3 with a lack of news or impending announcements coming from us on the Windows side. E3 fundamentally is a console show and do you want to compete and rise above the din or do you want to go on the cadence that we think is important to communicate that out." While Kevin has "nothing to announce yet" about whether the premium fee is to be dropped from the GFW program, the explanation of what's going on with the Dawn of War sequel implies this may be the case:
It was important when we talked to Relic that they be able to bring that full, unapologetic multiplayer experience to their gamers. They wanted to announce the game coming to Games for Windows – Live at E3, so we have a relationship with them and that's what we worked out. You'll continue to see movement from us on this front relative to what else we may be doing with Games for Windows – Live sooner than later.

Activision Blizzard Cuts Coming

Activision Blizzard to suffer job cuts on mcvuk.com has word that the merger of Activision and Blizzard will lead to an "all-star team" of developers, but that "overlaps" will result in "redundancies," meaning that some people are going to lose their jobs: Here are quotes pulled from their Thomas Tippl interview:
“With every merger, there is overlap and redundancy, and so the same will be true here. Of course we’re going to go to our customers with one face. We don’t need two sales forces,” he explained.

“Having said that, if you look at our industry, it’s rapidly growing – last year it grew 30 per cent. So over time I expect our headcount to grow.”

“But in the short term we will exterminate some of our overlap through redundancy – but we will treat people respectfully.”

“We will try to put the best team together – the all-star team. We’ll update both companies’ skill and experience levels and become a formidable company,” he added.

Bungie Dropped from E3 for... Time?

Microsoft explains Halo's no-show at E3 game conference on the Los Angeles Times where they have word from Microsoft on why Bungie's announcement was dropped from their E3 presentation (story), in spite of a countdown that teased the announcement in advance (story). According to Microsoft they upset their audience and the folks at Bungie due to time considerations, but hey, as long as we got to see more of Banjo and Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts and Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, who is complaining? It sounds like they are planning on giving the game a separate launch, as they quote MS's Don Mattrick as saying: "We had an embarrassment of riches. We felt we could do this game more justice with a more dedicated event."

1C Company Acquires BUKA

Eastern and Central European publisher 1C Company announces they are acquiring Russian publishing and distributor BUKA:
MOSCOW, Russia- July 17, 2008 - Leading Eastern and Central European publisher 1C Company officially announced today that it has signed an agreement in which it has acquired one of the largest Russian publishing and distribution companies, BUKA.

1C and BUKA are two of the most well known brands in the Russian games and multimedia market. Future cooperation opens new horizons for the strategic development of both companies.

A merger is currently not planned, but managers of both enterprises will try to make the best use of the synergy in their publishing, distribution and marketing activities. This approach will give both 1C and BUKA a chance to develop even faster, outstripping the market's rate of growth.

"BUKA is one of the oldest players on the Russian game market. I always admired the company, its corporate culture, staff, management and operational efficiency," said Boris Nuraliev, Director of 1C Company. "The mutual potential of 1C and BUKA opens new unique opportunities and will help us to achieve success on this challenging and rapidly growing market. It will be an honor for us to develop such a well-known and popular brand."

"We have received offers from several potential buyers, however 1C's advantages were obvious. 1C is our long-term partner. We have experienced firsthand what 1C's basic principles are - to be honest to partners, customers and employees," comments Igor Ustinov, Chairman of Board of Directors of BUKA. "We highly estimate our staff and the brand that we were developing through all these years. Therefore one of the main aims for shareholders was to leave the company in good hands."

AVENCAST Patch

A new patch is now available for AVENCAST: Rise of the Mage, updating ClockStone Software's their fantasy-themed action/RPG to version 1.04. The multi-language update is available from the Lighthouse Interactive Website, where they have details on what's included in the new version.

Spore to Feature an Ending

Joystiq is highlighting a tidbit revealed during the E3 presentations for Spore, EA Maxis' upcoming life simulation (thanks Mike Martinez). They say the outer space portion of the game, which producer Thomas Vu refers to as its role-playing phase, will offer 15-20 hours of gameplay. What this means is that contrary to most of Maxis' previous games, which have often been likened more to "toys," Spore will actually have an ending. If that's not enough of a curveball in and of itself, Vu says the ending will involve a "twist." Here's a prediction that we'll learn that Bruce Willis has actually been dead through the entire story.

Dragon Age: Origins Trailer

A direct feed of the E3 trailer for Dragon Age: Origins is now available, offering a look at actual gameplay from BioWare's upcoming RPG. The clip features melee combat and magic effects, lots of fire, and an enemy that's just plain big. The clip is available on Tiscali Games.

Borderlands Presentation Video

The Borderlands presentation video from E3 is online. The clip features narration, and the footage looks like a ShakyCam shot off a monitor, except it's exceptionally steady. The references to the controller during the presentation makes it clear this it a console version of Gearbox's co-op shooter being shown off. The clip is posted on AtomicGamer and FileFront.com.

It Came from E3 2008, Part 12

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Just in time for all these E3 movies, my cable bandwidth was quietly upped, and I am now getting staggering 31 Mb/s downloads, close to 4 MB a second. This makes it more apparent than ever that in this brave new internet world, my old 1.5 Mb/s connection probably doesn't even qualify as broadband, as it was not really capable of downloading a lot of these clips, much less streaming them. Back in the day we had a joke about "Low Ping Bastards," but I think that's much too kind a description of the connection I'm currently enjoying.

LPB Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Pixelshocks Tower Defence.
Link: Ten Epic Superhero Movie Mistakes.
Adulthood Spent Satisfying Childhood Desires.
Stories: In Paris, Burgers Turn Chic. They're finally getting some culture.
Images: LEGO Sentry Gun. Thanks Ian.
TSG Mug Shot Andy Dick. Thanks nin.
Auction: Hendrix's burnt guitar up for auction.
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