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Thursday, Aug 21, 2008

Bionic Commando Rearmed Secret Challenge Rooms

The Bionic Commando Website has instructions on how to access several "secret challenge rooms" in the just-released platformer remake. The challenge rooms, most of which are gaming website-oriented (which always helps at review time), are access using codes entered with a controller, and this applies to the PC editions as well, as they apparently not to create a way to enter the codes using a keyboard.

Gabe Newell Q&A

One-on-one with Valveís Gabe Newell on Videogaming247 converses with the Vale honcho on a variety of topics, including how he gets approached "a couple of times a week" by potential investors or buyers, future Steam plans that include peer-to-peer functionality, how Left4Dead is progressing, and more. On the inevitable topic of PCs versus consoles he makes a point about how updating PC games is more flexible, and how they are under pressure by the console overlords to charge for the updates they provide to PC users for free:
The big concern I have right now is our ability to provide updates. On the PC side, weíve done as many as four updates in a day, and thatís great: we can respond very quickly. If Nvidia puts out a new graphics driver and it changes some way about how texture management works, then before our customers know thereís any issue then the problem has gone away.

Or we can do the Pyro updates, and the Medic updates [and so on]. On the consoles, they want us to charge money for them, because thatís in their model, and our model is very much more to grow the community by giving out free updates. Thatís harder for us.

Mythic: Anonymity is Only for Credits

MTV Multiplayer has another follow-up from Mythic's Mark Jacobs on the complaints from an anonymous developer about people not being credited for their work on Warhammer Online (story). He uses both the carrot and the stick to try and inspire a break in this anonymity, first suggesting such a move lacks "balls," but then saying it's possible someone has been left out of the credits accidentally:
If you really think that weíre doing something wrong, at least have the balls to stand up and go ĎHi, my name is so-and-so.í

[Leaving the person out of the credits] could be a mistake. Iím not saying itís not happening. I just donít know who the heck this person is. So come out, stop hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and the legal shield of ĎIím going to sue EA.í

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Co-op Movie

A new Mercenaries 2: World in Flames "zero rules" movie showcases the cooperative gameplay in the upcoming open-world action sequel. The movie mostly uses split-screen and picture-in-picture views showing off two perspectives on the same gameplay, but this is the way the clip was edited from two different systems. The developer narration stresses that the entire game can be played from beginning to end in co-op mode. You can find the movie on AtomicGamer.

Prince of Persia Trailer

A lengthy new Prince of Persia trailer from the GC in Leipzig shows off a number of features from the upcoming PoP game, as well a good deal of the game's signature acrobatic locomotion, and some combat for good measure. The movie is available on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers.

Death Track: Resurrection Movie

The Death Track: Resurrection trailer from the Games Convention offers a look at the combat racing in the upcoming Death Track remake, as well as some of the game's settings and destructible environments. The clip can be found on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

Evening Previews

  • Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures on IGN.
  • Alpha Protocol on 1Up and IGN.
  • ANNO 1404 on GameSpot.
  • Arcania: A Gothic Tale on IGN.
  • ArmA II on IGN.
  • BattleForge on IGN.
  • Call of Duty: World at War on Eurogamer.
  • Champions Online on GameSpot.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 on GameSpy.
  • Crysis Warhead on GameSpy.
  • Damnation on GameSpy and IGN.
  • Dead Space on IGN.
  • Dragon Age: Origins on GameSpy.
  • Dream Of Mirror Online on RPG Vault.
  • Empire: Total War on 1Up, GameSpy, and IGN.
  • Fracture on 1Up.
  • FusionFall on GameCyte.
  • Heroes Over Europe on IGN.
  • James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace on 1Up.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Conquest on GameSpot and IGN.
  • Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising on IGN.UK.
  • Prince of Persia on GameSpot.
  • Raven Squad: Hidden Dagger on IGN.
  • Shaun White Snowboarding on IGN.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization on GameSpy.
  • Spore on GameSpy.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky on 1Up.
  • The Sims 3 on IGN.
  • The Witcher- Enhanced Edition on IGN.
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. on GameSpot.
  • Two Worlds: The Temptation on IGN.

Evening Screenshots

Into the Black

In the forums today was concern for The Professional, as it was reported Jean Reno had a heart attack. The follow-up is far les dire, saying the actor had "heartburn and gastroenteritis."

R.I.P.: NFLPA head Gene Upshaw dies of cancer at age 63.

Crysis Wars Video Interview

There's a video interview with Crytek on GameStar, where the German site interviews the German developer about the Crysis Wars multiplayer they are introducing with Crysis Warhead. Interestingly, the questions are in German, but the answers are in English. The clip also offers a Crysis Wars gameplay demonstration accompanied by developer narration (also in English).

Spore Q&A

Will Wright on the origins of 'Spore' (thanks Mike Martinez) chats with the Spore-meister about Maxis' imminent life simulation, inquiring about the game's origins and development: "The earliest evolution of it had to do with the SETI Project. The original concept was sort of a toy galaxy you could fly around and explore. As we thought about, it became apparent that evolution was a very important component. Some of the very first prototypes involved how you would move around and visualize the galaxy. And then on procedurally generated creatures. Could we actually generate creatures through evolution so there was a vast variety of creatures rather than just the 20 or 30 fixed things that games typically include."

Wheelman Trailer

A new trailer from Wheelman is now available, offering more hard-driving action from the Diesel-powered action game due this fall. Here's Midway's description of the new movie: "The trailer is a gameplay video narrated by mission designer Mark Thompson, showing a level from the game called 'Introducing Benito'. The new trailer features cinematic driving moments, vehicle super moves and on-foot action." The clip is found on AtomicGamer.

Mirror's Edge Movie, Preview

A new "Stormdrains Level" movie from Mirror's Edge released at GC 2008 is now available online, offering an extended look at gameplay from DICE's upcoming first-person action game. The clip focuses on the game's acrobatic parkour-inspired maneuvers, but a brief glimpse of combat is also included. You can find the clip on ActionTrip and AtomicGamer. There is also a preview of the game on Play.tm.

Crytek Q&A

Crytek Q&A on GamesIndustry.biz chats with Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli about Crysis Warhead, console development, and the game development game. Along the way we learn that everyone that Crysis needs expensive hardware to run is mistaken: "Well, there's a misconception in the market right now about that, which is that Crysis can only be played on PCs that are very expensive. It's not true - Crysis can be played on a USD 600 PC at the second-highest configuration that's better-looking than any console game, right now."

Wrath of the Lich King Cinematic, Interviews

The cinematic introductory trailer from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King is now available, setting the stage for the upcoming MMORPG expansion. The clip is posted on the North American and European World of Warcraft Websites. On a related note, a pair of interviews about the WoW add-on are online, there's an interview with lead game designer Tom Chilton and production director Jay Allen Brack on Play.tm and an article-format conversation with Chilton and Brack on Boomtown.

Project Origin Peek

The Jace Hall Show, Episode 12 (NSFW) is live, offering more offbeat interviews and other entertainment from KING OF TEH MONSTARS. After the Sony commercial (in which Jace gets extra butt-smooch points for wearing his RROD t-shirt), one of this week's victims is Monolith Productions, the company that Jace helped found back in the day, and he takes advantage of his insider status to score a brief peak at Project Origin, offering a ShakyCam view of a never-before-seen area in the upcoming F.E.A.R. sequel before getting shut down by the man (or in this case the woman).

New Grimm Episode

The American McGee's Grimm section on GameTap offers the latest episode of Grimm, Puss in Boots, which will be free for the first 24 hours, after which normal pricing and subscription fees apply. Here's word on the fourth of the 24 episodes planned for the fractured fairy tale game: "A miller dies and leaves only his cat, named Puss, to his youngest son. The son believes he'll have to eat the cat in order to survive the night, but Puss, asks for a brief reprieve and a pair of boots to prove his worth. The resourceful Puss manages to outwit the King, defeat an Ogre, and bring wealth beyond belief to his young master, but does he truly have his master's best interests at heart, or are his motives a little more Grimm."

Bully PC - Update: In October

Eurogamer has word that plans for a PC edition of Bully have been revealed at the Leipzig Games Convention by a German poster for the game that translates to "Coming soon for PC." No further details are yet available, but there's probably some renewed hand-wringing to be expected over Rockstar's controversial game. Update: IGN (thanks Tiscali Games) has confirmed the PC version of Bully: Scholarship Edition is indeed coming to the PC, saying a release is planned for late October.

id CEO: Piracy PC's "Hidden Benefit"

Hollenshead & Carmack - Part One on GameIndusty is part of a conversation with id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead and technical director John Carmack that was conducted at this year's QuakeCon. The main topics are engine licensing, digital distribution, and piracy, and one bit they highlight in a separate story that seems sure to spark some discussion is Todd's contention that piracy of PC content is perceived as a "hidden benefit" to PC ownership, a "dirty little secret among hardware manufacturers." Here are the two pertinent questions and answers:
Q: It's the barrier-for-entry thing isn't it? It's really easy to pirate PC games whereas console games are much harder to pirate so the returns are better. What can PC hardware manufacturers do to make it harder for pirates?

Todd Hollenshead:
There's lots of things that they could do but typically just they just line up on the wrong side of the argument in my opinion. They have lots of reasons as to why they do that, but I think that there's been this dirty little secret among hardware manufacturers, which is that the perception of free content - even if you're supposed to pay for it on PCs - is some sort hidden benefit that you get when you buy a PC, like a right to download music for free or a right to download pirated movies and games.

Q: You think they're secretly happy about it?

Todd Hollenshead:
Yeah I think they are. I think that if you went in and could see what's going on in their minds, though they may never say that stuff and I'm not saying there's some conspiracy or something like that - but I think the thing is they (realize) that trading content, copyrighted or not, is an expected benefit of owning a computer.

And I think that just based on their actions...what they say is one thing, but what they do is another. When it comes into debates about whether peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that by-and-large have the vast majority, I'm talking 99 per cent of the content is (illicitly) trading copyrighted property, they'll come out on the side of the 1 per cent of the user doing it for legitimate benefit. You can make philosophical arguments that are difficult to debate, but at the same time you're just sort of ignoring the enormity of the problem.

StarCraft MMO Would be "Difficult"

StarCraft II Interview on VideoGamer.com recaps a conversation with Blizzard cofounder Frank Pearce about the RTS sequel that took place at the Games Convention in Leipzig. They extract three of the most salient bits, one being the chance of console StarCraft II 'very close to zero', another that they still can't predict a release date (stop the presses!), and the perhaps counterintuitive thought that Blizzard's success with World of Warcraft makes a StarCraft MMO "difficult", though it doesn't seem that they are ruling anything out:
The StarCraft universe is really rich, and it's got a lot of cool stuff in it that could be leveraged for any number of different genres. A big factor would be what the development teams want to work on. When the StarCraft II team is done with StarCraft II, a factor is what they want to work on next, because the development teams plays a big role in deciding what they're going to do. So if there was a development team that was really passionate about leveraging the StarCraft universe for a different genre then that's something we would seriously consider.

World War II: Road to Victory Patch

Matrix Games now offers the first patch for World War II: Road to Victory to update this military turn-based strategy game to version 1.201. The accompanying blurb indicates that the new version includes new features, most notably play-by-email support, and that more new features will be included in future patches:
Matrix Games and IQ Software (www.worldwar2.pl) are thrilled to announce the release of the first official update for the new release World War II: Road to Victory. The new comprehensive update file will bring the version of the game up to 1.201 and comes with dozens of bug fixes and a handful of new features, including PBEM play. This is a major update for World War II: Road to Victory and it concentrates on addressing all reported serious issues with the initial release of the game to smooth out gameplay and assure the best possible experience while conquering Europe!

With the 1.201 resolving most major issues, the IQ Software team is hard at work putting new enhancements, features, and improvements into the game so stay tuned for subsequent updates because there is much more to come. This is not to say that the first update is without its share of enhancements and new features! The AIís garrisoning protocol is improved along with a tweak to make the AI better at sea transporting. New features include PBEM support for up to 8 players, a new ďsiegeĒ function and rule set for surrounded cities, new sea zones, Lend-Lease events, the addition of Malta as a territory, and much more!

Beyond Protocol Delayed

Dark Sky Entertainment announces it has pushed back the release of the upcoming sci-fi MMORTS game Beyond Protocol to November 21. There are new gameplay movies on this page showing simultaneous land and space-based combat, and here is word on the new release date:
While the game will be close to production status by the end of August, sufficient time must be allotted for bug detection and extermination. Many new features are about to be added to the game, in the August 23rd patch. We at Dark Sky Entertainment would like to be sure that customers receive the utmost in quality service.

This means two things. First it extends the free play time for any of you who have preordered the game already, meaning the beta will last longer, free of charge. Second, if you havenít preordered the game, you just found another reason to. In addition to a 24 head start on the public, on the permanent servers, a special in game hull, and a monthís subscription, if you order now, youíll also be able to play the beta for about three months beforehand as a bonus. If you canít wait for November, but you donít want to preorder, your alternative is to wait for the open beta. Just hope that seats donít fill up before you get your chance!

The Agency Q&As

The Agency Q&A Part 1 on The Agency HQ kicks off a recap of a lengthy Fan Faire conversation with SOE about The Agency, the upcoming espionage-themed MMORPG. This first portion concentrates on questions and answers about PvP play, while Part 2 of the Q&A continues on the PvP topic before moving on to learn more about operatives and missions.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

I propose we stop fooling around and just admit that August is just one big gaming convention. Rather than several smaller demos, game companies could concentrate on making a big splash at a single venue. We could call it AugustCon or something, maybe… E3. Okay, maybe things are better this way.

Okay Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Treehouse Defense. Thanks Jay is Games.
Links: Meet Leland Chee, the Star Wars Franchise Continuity Cop. Thanks Digg.
Story: Disgrace Invaders: Video game ripped by kin of those who died at WTC.
Science: Polygamy is the key to a long life. Thanks j.c.f.
Athletesí Body Types Are Often Similar, but Atypical Can Thrive.
Weight as Main Measure of Health May Be Misguided.
Auction: Five-year old bids £200,000 for Wii. Weee!
Media: Show off boxer gets knocked out.....HILARIOUS.
SWAT, Meet Gate.
Goblin Shark. Thanks Kxmode. Wikipedia explains.
Follow-ups: Fox Tries To Kill Watchmen.
Clayton police officer fired over Bigfoot hoax.