Archived News:

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008

Tabula Rasa Rumor Refuted

Massively follows up on yesterday's rumors about layoffs at NCsoft Europe and the possibility that the future of Tabula Rasa is in doubt (story). They point to an itsy-bitsy post on from NCsoft's "Ziggidy Zaggidy" saying simply: "There are no current plans to can TR. Long Live TR." As for the concurrent rumor that layoffs are coming to NCsoft Europe, the news isn't so good, citing another post on that seems to confirm that jobs have been cut.

MS Still Committed to AoE & PC Gaming

Kim- We Still Believe in PC Games on Edge Online quotes Microsoft Game Studios' Shane Kim following news that Ensemble will be shuttered (story), saying MS remains committed to first-party PC games. He also says that the end of Ensemble by no means signals the end of the Age of Empires series: "We’re still super excited for the potential for the franchise. The Windows gaming world continues to evolve, and we believe in the future of that property."

Ken Levine Threatened Over BioShock DRM

Computer and Video Games quotes BioShock designer Ken Levine saying he received some "nasty f-ing threats" over the copy protection for BioShock, which had a limited number of allowable installations and the constant desire to phone home for authentication. He doesn't seem embittered by the experience, rather talking about the need for someone in his position to take responsibility for such decisions.

Warhammer Online Delayed by WoW

MTV Multiplayer has a candid comment from Mythic's Mark Jacobs, as the Warhammer Online lead designer admits that the release of the Burning Crusade expansion for World of Warcraft actually prompted a delay for the release of Warhammer Online: "…they put in some of what we call ‘water cooler quests,’ the things that you talk about around the watercooler. We looked at the amount of content they put in that and said we need more time if we want to add some of those things, if we want our own water cooler quests or more water cooler quests. So our choice was to delay the game and spend more time on it. It was a major bump."

Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss Website

A new Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss Website is live as home to Mythic Entertainment's upcoming Ultima Online expansion, finally offering official details on the ninth add-on for the MMORPG. They say: "By visiting, players can unearth information on the newly-playable Gargoyle race, never-before seen spells, powerful new weapons and armor, an expansive and dangerous dungeon, and a variety of new, tough-as-nails monsters."

Far Cry 2 Q&A, Movie

Clint Hocking on Far Cry 2 on Rock, Paper, Shotgun is a Q&A discussing Far Cry 2, the upcoming shooter sequel. They discuss various aspects of the game's ambitious open-world, discussing non-linear storytelling, open-world design, whether they've had to scrap ideas during the development process, whether the linear shooter is fading, as well as questions about other aspects of gameplay. There's also a new Far Cry 2 Africa Trip Video Diary on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell recapping the development team's research expedition.

Quantum of Solace Movie

A new 'From Movie to Game' trailer for Quantum of Solace looks at footage from the upcoming Bond game and the movie and discusses the process of recreating characters and scenes in the game. The clip is available on FileFront and Gamer's Hell. On a semi-related note, the official Quantum Of Solace theatrical trailer is online from the movie. Thanks nin.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Into the Black

Scientists Activate Particle Collider. I think we're still here. Update: Yeah, I was able to confirm this via the Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the earth yet website. Thanks banddirector.

FIFA 09 Demo

A playable demo for FIFA 09 is now available, offering the chance to kick around the next installment in the football/soccer series. The demo features a couple of gameplay modes and the choice of six different clubs. The download is available on AtomicGamer,, FanGaming, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell. On related notes, EA Sports Reveals New Online Mode in FIFA Soccer 09 For Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and Konami: No PES 2009 demo tomorrow.

NCsoft Launches NC West With Lofty Goals

NCsoft announces the formation of NC West a wholly-owned subsidiary focused on western regions including the US and Europe "with a dedicated focus towards becoming the world’s premier western publisher of MMOs." NC West will be headquartered in Seattle, WA, and will unify existing subsidiaries NC Interactive, NC Europe, NC Austin, and ArenaNet, with ArenaNet cofounder Jeff Strain serving as the new outfit's president of product development. The announcement doesn't reveal any specific plans, just an overview from Chris Chung, NC West's newly minted CEO: "There is an unparalleled opportunity for growth in the massively multiplayer online market. By combining the strength of our US and European teams, NCsoft has the best global infrastructure to win in new and existing markets, and the best developer talent capable of creating blockbuster MMO franchises." Rumors from yesterday spoke of cuts at NCsoft Europe (story), but no such plans are mentioned in the announcement.

Left 4 Dead Demo Plans quotes Valve honcho Gabe Newell saying they plan on releasing a playable demo for Left 4 Dead for both Windows and Xbox 360, and that the demo will include co-op support. The sample of the zombie-fest will include the beginning portion of one of the campaigns, "probably" the Hospital. No release date is set at this point.

Brain Games Control?

The future of gaming is all in the mind on CNN is an article profiling the Emotiv EPOC headset, the latest attempt at using non-physical input as a game controller, called "the first Brain Computer Interface" by its creators. Other similar products in the past turned out to rely on reading forehead muscle movement more than your thoughts, but this time the claim is: "The EPOC detects and processes real time brain activity patterns (small voltage changes in the brain caused by the firing of neurons) using a device that measures electric activity in the brain. In total, it picks up over 30 different expressions, emotions and actions." The article also quotes industry analysts about the potential of such a device. Thanks Mike Martinez.

NVIDIA Class-Action Suit

ComputerWorld reports that NVIDIA has been hit with a class-action lawsuit over defects in its GPU line, the suit alleging the company knowingly concealed information about the problem from its investors. The suit is seeking unspecified damages. Here's a bit: "Highlighting the seriousness of the charges laid against Nvidia, the lawsuit said Hewlett-Packard issued a BIOS update to mitigate the chip problem eight months before Nvidia revealed its existence to investors. Nvidia and computer makers have used BIOS updates that cause system fans to run more often in an attempt to reduce heat stress on the affected chips and prevent them from failing." Thanks Mike Martinez.

Warhammer: Battle March Patches

New patches are now available for Warhammer: Battle March to update Black Hole Game's RTS expansion based on the Warhammer universe to version 2.14. The new version fixes a number of issues with the game, all detailed in these patch notes. There are patches for the US and European editions as well as the European Gold edition; downloads can be found on ActionTrip, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Demigod Beta Begins

Gas Powered Games announces that beta testing of Demigod is now underway for those who have preordered the action/strategy/role-playing game that's planned for release early next year. Word is: "Demigod's publisher Stardock will continue to provide limited access to the Betas through pre-order signups." Thanks Gamer's Hell.

MGS Confirms Ensemble Closure - Updated

GameSpot reports a confirmation that Microsoft Game Studios is planning on closing Ensemble Studios after completion of development of the console RTS game Halo Wars (story). The statement is complementary of the studio, saying the closure does not reflect on the quality of their work, going on to explain this was about the bottom line: "This was a fiscally rooted decision that keeps MGS on its growth path. While the decision to dissolve Ensemble was not an easy one, Microsoft is working to place as many Ensemble employees who do not move to the newly formed studio into open positions within Microsoft as possible." The also say the "leadership team" will form a new studio that will support Halo and "work on other MGS projects." Update: has what is purported to be an internal email from Microsoft Game Studios boss Phil Spencer to the MGS staff explaining the move, and offering reassurances that in spite of whittling down to two internal studios (Lionhead and Rare), Microsoft is still committed to first-party game development. On the other hand, WildTangent CEO Alex St John made a statement to, the former MS evangelist and current MS naysayer says that this represents Microsoft Game Studios entering a "cost recovery phase" where they will be concentrating less on first-party development in an attempt to become profitable, saying Sony is in a similar mode.

Hydrophobia Q&A

The Hydrophobia Q&A on Three Speech chats with Pete Jones and Rob Hewson of Blade Interactive about Hydrophobia, their upcoming waterlogged survival/adventure game. The conversation offers some insight into the nature of gameplay with quotes like this: "If this wall gives way and a stray bullet shoots out that window, the water flow is dramatically altered. As such branching in the levels becomes more a result of endlessly testing the simulation in each area to cover every possible scenario than a cut and dry level design decision."

Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods Q&A

The Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods Q&A on PC Games talks with Kevaad Abdool of Trine Entertainment, the Indian company that turns out to be the developer of the upcoming Forsaken Gods add-on for Gothic 3. Since the notorious bugginess of Gothic 3 is probably the first thing that springs to mind when discussing an expansion, here's an answer that directly addresses that issue: "Gothic 3 was a great game, but it had the potentially [sic] to be much more. Unfortunately it had technical issues which hindered its performance. Several patches were released to help fix its various problems, but many of these lie deep within the foundations of the game. We spent a lot of time making improvements to the engine code trying to squeeze as much performance as we could. We have also done some work on the character creation process. We extended the artificial intelligence system to take into account more variables. This gave us more control over how we want characters to behave."

Fragging Free for DOOM 3: RoE

The debut release of the Fragging Free modification for DOOM 3 is now available. The mod actually requires the DOOM 3: Resurrection Of Evil expansion, and the goal of the project is to recreate the fast-paced style of gameplay found in earlier id shooters.


Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Well our phone problem was cleared up yesterday, so thankfully this won't end up being one of these protracted mysteries. A different technician came to check things out, and thankfully he started from scratch, so he was not distracted by the previous tech's misdiagnosis. It turns out that there was a short in one of the phone wires in my office... the problem cleared up when I unplugged everything from the jack, and when he asked me if I had a splitter plugged into it I had to laugh, as this one jack has a three-way two-line splitter, which has a two-way splitter plugged into it, as well as a couple of DSL line filters, and of course, a whole bunch of wires. The silliest part of all this is that when I figured out which wire it was, I traced it around to, well, nowhere, as it was not even plugged into anything. D'oh!

Short Circuited Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Orbitrunner.
Links: 10 Suckiest Video Games People Play In Science Fiction.
The Top 7... New franchises that already feel old.
Top 5 Overlooked Videogame Prequels. Not actually prequels, but we've been through that already.
Stories: Paul Schulte Masters Art and Science of Wheelchair Basketball.
KFC shoring up security for secret recipe. Thanks brother19.
Dad, Son Tread Water Overnight In Atlantic. Thanks brother19.
Science: Human Genetics is Now a Viable Hobby -- 23andMe Cuts its Price to $399.
Red Bull drink lifts stroke risk.
Ten things you don’t know about the Earth.
Images: Gordon Freeman spotted near Large Hadron Collider.
Media: World's Most Amazing Videos Fight Parody. NSFW.
Teh Funny: ActionTrip Comic Strip- The Beauty of Evolution.
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