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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2008

id: Rage May not Support Mods

Gamasutra reports that the upcoming driving action game Rage may not support user-modifications, long a hallmark of id Software releases. The topic came up in a Q&A following Tim Willits' talk at the Austin Game Developers Conference (story) in answer to a user question. The id creative director reaffirms the company's belief in user mods, pointing out he owes his own career to game modding, but says that the horsepower required to process the megatextures used in the game may make full user modifications impractical. He does say he envisions users being able to create smaller modular mods that could be slotted into the game's existing structure. On a semi-related note, during this year's QuakeCon keynote, id technical director John Carmack revealed that their upcoming online shooter Quake Live will not support modifications either (story), albeit for completely different reasons.

Ships Ahoy - LineRider2: Unbound

LineRider2: Unbound is now available for Windows and DS, offering inXile Entertainment's sequel to the draw your own tracks gameplay of LineRider. The game features a Story, Freestyle and Puzzle Modes, and dozens of new tools to help get in touch with your inner doodler. Line Rider 2: Unbound for Windows and DS include online capabilities to allow players to exchange tracks. LineRider2: Unbound for the Wii is expected on October 6.

Call of Duty: World At War - Co-Op Collaboration Trailer

A new co-op collaboration trailer for Call of Duty: World At War is now available showing off the upcoming World War II shooter sequel. The movie features footage of soldiers shooting at each other, and the presumption is that they are cooperating somehow. The clip is available from Boot Daily, FileFront, and MyGameTrailers.

Dragon Age: Origins Movies

A pair of new movies from Dragon Age: Origins, the upcoming RPG BioWare considers a "spiritual successor" to Baldur's Gate. The first of the narrated gameplay clips can be found on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers. "Episode 2" of the movie demonstration is posted on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers.

Red Faction: Guerilla Movie

A new Red Faction: Guerilla movie offers some gameplay highlighting a figurine that will come in the collector's edition of the upcoming earth shattering shooter sequel. You can find the clip on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey Q&A

RPG Vault's EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey Interview talks with Noel Wailing and Jeremy Gess about the upcoming fifth expansion for Sony Online Entertainment's MMORPG, as well as the state of the game itself.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Into the Black

Okay, the post counts listed next to each story are now totally broken, after only being partially broken for a while. This is the only issue we are currently aware of, but I do not have an ETA on a fix.

Mythic's EA Comments Follow-up

Eurogamer has a follow-up from Mythic's Mark Jacobs, who backpedals from Paul Barnett's comment that EA knows "nothing about launching MMOs in Europe, unless it's spending lots of money closing them down I suppose" (story). Mark points out they already had a deal for European distribution of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning with GOA before they were acquired by EA, so this was not a case of choosing to avoid using EA for this. He chalks Paul's comments up to his well-known sarcastic sense of humor and irreverence, and says, "What Paul said about EA not knowing anything about launching MMOs: you know, Paul likes to exaggerate - of course EA knows things about launching MMOs. EA is responsible, certainly, for one of the most important MMOs of all time, and that was Ultima [Online]." This is excerpted from a larger interview with Jacobs discussing the game's impending launch, saying that so far their early access program has hit no snags, and has had no game crashes and no individual server crashes.

Valve on the Google Rumor

We got a reply from Valve to our inquiry about the rumor circulating this morning that Google was seeking to acquire Valve (story). According to spokesperson Doug Lombardi, this is just a rumor: "It's nothing more than rumor. Valve is focused on making Left 4 Dead a great product and supporting folks like Crytek and Ubisoft who are bringing great games to Steam this year."

New ATI CATALYST Drivers

ATI's Drivers & Software Page now offers new version 8.9 CATALYST reference drivers for ATI graphics accelerators. The new drivers offer custom HDTV modes, Overdrive support for QUAD CrossFireX configurations, and phase one of their OpenGL 3.0 support. A number of issues are also resolved. Word is the Linux 8.9 driver release is "coming soon."

Crysis Warhead on Steam

Steam is now offering online sales and downloads of Crysis Warhead, Crytek's first-person shooter follow-up. In a bit of a surprise, this precedes the game's international release, which is tomorrow (story). They are also offering Warhead as a bundle with the original Crysis.

On Ryzom's Future

The mysterious folks behind the re-launch of Ryzom have finally provided a few scant details on what they are up to in reviving this science-fiction MMORPG that has launched and closed a couple of times already. This forum post from yesterday, which they point out was the game's fourth birthday (story), describes their immediate goals as making the game profitable and getting their programmers up to speed on the game code. As for that profitability, they do not outline their business model, but indicate the game's free status is not permanent by promising Ryzom "will stay free for everyone *at least* until the end of October, and possibly longer." Meanwhile, their longer-term plan is simply to make a plan: "Every day we are thinking about where we want to go and what we want to achieve for you. But we don't want to make the mistake of planning bad decisions because we hadn't prepared enough or we rushed into these decisions too quickly; we want to prepare ourselves as best as possible before giving you any straight answers. Don't forget that an MMORPG is an extremely complex living thing, especially Ryzom."

id on Rage Sequels and QUAKE's "Identity Crisis"

id Software Talks Rage, Game Narrative on IGN recaps a talk by Tim Willits at the Austin Game Developers Conference where the id Software creative director discussed game narrative, making jokes himself that id is not the first company one would associate with this topic. He suggests that the story as presented in the game is only part of its narrative, but it also involves the gameplay experiences of the user, using DOOM as an example, saying if a user wrote down all their experiences playing DOOM and their reactions to the game: "…it would be a great story. And that is from a game that many people would say had a very bad narrative. The paper story is only one part of the videogame story." He also discusses Rage, making it clear they consider their action/driving game a franchise in mentioning how sequels might be named, describing how the Rage story will play out, and how creating a multiplatform game presents storytelling challenges as id strive to appeal to a wider audience. He also discusses how audience preconceptions and expectations are also elements of storytelling, offering a very frank assessment of how QUAKE fell short in this area: "Quake I was so much different than Quake II. When we were developing Quake II, we wanted to call it something else, but we couldn't find a name, our lawyers told us all the names we picked were already taken, it was extremely difficult to find a name, and we just wound up calling it Quake II. When people played Quake II they were so confused. They had such a preconception about what the franchise was that when they got to this game they had to overcome so much that the experience and story that we wanted to tell was actually hampered. Then, in our infinite wisdom, we made Quake III, which was completely backwards and we failed in that concept again. Even to this day the Quake series suffers from an identity crisis."

Mirror's Edge Delay?

Big Download has a post speculating that Mirror's Edge might be delayed, based on the occasionally accurate release dates reported by online retailers. Our post about this last night (story) was a little dismissive, accepting the explanation that the game is due this winter. In fairness, though, DICE's acrobatic action game was announced for release in "calendar 2008" (story), so if the game is released in early January as suggested (but not confirmed), that would indeed represent a delay, albeit an almost inexplicably short one.

Spore DRM Post of the Day

MTV Multiplayer contacted Electronic Arts to follow up on four major complaints about the SecuROM digital rights management in Spore; that it is limited to installation on three computers, that the DRM has some sort of spyware functionality, that only one Spore account can be created in spite of the manual saying otherwise, and the need for authentication every time online features are used leaves users vulnerable if those services are ever shut down. EA once again categorically states that Spore contains no spyware or malware (though they've found virus-infected copies on torrents) and repeats the explanation that manual was in error about being able to create multiple accounts (story). They also promise to patch the game to eliminate online authentication if they ever take the authentication servers offline and state they plan to release a patch in the "near future" to allow a game installations to be de-authorized so authorizations can be freed up to install the game on other machines. Perhaps most interesting are the questions that went unanswered, as EA declined to comment on their view of the legitimacy of these complaints about the DRM and if the DRM being handled differently for Red Alert 3 (story) signals their policies are shifting on this issue.

Age of Conan Director Leaves

GamesIndusty.biz reports that Gaute Godager has left Funcom, saying the producer and game director on Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is acting on his dissatisfaction with some elements in the recently launched MMORPG. A follow-up post quotes Funcom's European product manager, Erling Ellingsen, who says Godager "wanted to take the consequence" of these aspects of AoC by leaving the company he co-founded 16 years ago. While Ellingsen declines to specifically identify these elements, he does offer insights into areas of dissatisfaction in his outlook on what this will mean to players of the MMORPG: "The first things will be that we are updating the PVP, we're adding new PVP features and that's something players have been requesting for months now, they've been screaming at us. Next new content will introduce new areas into the game, new quests, hours of more exploration and so on. That's two of the things we're working very hard on right now." The Age Of Conan: Hyborian Adventures Website has a full announcement that Godager's successor is Craig Morrison (once of IGN), who previously served as producer and game director for Anarchy Online. They quote Morrison on his mission: "I have a clear conviction I can lead the further development in a good way, evolving Age of Conan into something even better. My main priority now is therefore to listen to, and act on, player concerns, while ensuring we add additional great content to the game."

Rumor: Valve & Google?

The INQUIRER cites "well placed sources" saying Google is going to be buying Valve "any second now." This is speculation from a site that specializes in such, but Edge Online has picked up the story from them, so this will spread. According to INQ's well placed source the crux of such a deal would be Google's lust for Valve's Steam as a mature content delivery service. It was just last month that Gabe Newell said Valve said Valve is approached "a couple of times a week" by potential acquirers or investors but they are "super-happy" as an independent (story). We've contacted Valve for comment, but it's still before dawn on the west coast. Update: The story has also been picked up by MCV, who also report Google refuses to rule out Valve takeover, though actually they simply refused to comment on the rumor.

P.U.R.E. Release Candidate

Mod DB offers release candidate 1 of P.U.R.E., a freeware real-time strategy game not to be confused with the ATV racing game due next week (story). This is the first of a number of R.C.s they will offer over the coming weeks to allow them to collect feedback on the project.

Frontlines: Fuel of War Downtime

The Frontlines: Fuel of War Website announces some downtime for the login servers tomorrow for KAOS Studios' military shooter. Servers should be down from around 9:00 am EDT to around 11:00 am EDT: "During this time you may not be able to join online games or may lose connection with online games you are playing. This only affects PC players and is unrelated to the upcoming patch."

BlizzCon 2008 Ticket Drawing Ends

The World of Warcraft Website announces the last of the tickets from the BlizzCon 2008 ticket drawing have sold out. Those interested in the proceedings at the convention still have the option of getting the pay-per-view on DirecTV (story), not that everybody is happy with that arrangement.

Demigod Q&A

The Demigod Q&A on Gaming Nexus discusses Demigod with Mike Marr, lead designer on the upcoming action/RPG/RTS hybrid. They discuss the game's use of the Supreme Commander engine, the game's "hook," specifics about the game's eight demigods, resource management, other types of units, piracy, and more. His answer regarding piracy shouldn't be a surprise considering Stardock is publishing the game: "Bottom-line? For this title Stardock and GPG believe that the solution to the problem is worse than the problem itself."

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Okay, the server move is done, and I can't thank Frans enough for his yeoman effort at making everything happen, which involved quite a lot. The only issue I'm aware of is how the post counts are off next to stories, but I'm pretty sure that'll smooth out once the DNS switch fully propagates, as we're currently pulling data from both the old and new servers. Other than that, registration should work again, reminder emails are going out, and the forum wonkiness seems ironed out. Thanks for all your patience in the time it took to fix all that.

Fixed Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Scarf it.
How Long Could You Survive Chained to a Bunk Bed with a Velociraptor? Thanks Neatorama. 1:22.
Link: Learning to make espresso machine from scratch. Thanks Boing Boing.
Stories: DNA to be used in dog mess fight.
Experts: 'Irrational' behavior drives gas prices more than Ike. I call BS.
Sylvester Stallone Doing Rambo 5 And 6 And Hopefully No More. Thanks Digg.
Science: NASA Selects 'MAVEN' Mission to Study Mars Atmosphere. Thanks Slashdot.
NASA bone-loss test sends man to bed for 84 days.
Media: TF2 Dance Party.
Portal -Still Alive- In Typography.
Disney Lab Unveils Its Latest Line Of Engineered Child Stars.
Follow-ups: 'Creationism' biologist quits job.
Study: Some Water Bottles Linked to Diabetes.
Teh Funny: UserFriendly.Org.
ActionTrip Comic Strip- Clear Skies Today.