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Thursday, Sep 18, 2008

Dungeon Runners Safe

A post on WarCry Network reports on an Escapist interview with (David) Reid that follows up on recent indications that Dungeon Runners might be facing the broadsword (story). He indicates that while NCsoft is putting more of its efforts behind games like City of Heroes, Guild Wars, and Lineage, the subscription-free MMOG is not facing closure, though it probably will not receive as much development attention going forward. Thanks Massively.

Left 4 Dead Presentation

Left4Dead411.com has a 10 minute video presentation made by Gabe Newell on the making of Left 4 Dead. This was originally only seen by members of the press at this year's E3, and the presentation is accompanied by an extended version of the E3 trailer from the upcoming multiplayer zombie game. Word is: "Gabe goes into detail on many aspects of the making of Left 4 Dead, including their goals in development, the what and why of the AI Director, all about the monsters including animation, physics and AI, and also all about the world including graphics and lighting technology."

Tunnel Rats Movie

Gametrailers offers the debut trailer for Tunnel Rats (referring to the title as "1968 Tunnel Rats"), Replay Studios' first-person shooter based on the upcoming Uwe Boll war movie that is surprisingly not already based on an existing game. The clip shows off the game's Vietnam War environments (both in and out of tunnels), and explains what the army has trained you for (fighting in tunnels and jungles), and what it has not trained you for (watching helicopters crash). Tunnel Rats was originally expected early this year along with the movie (story), so it is obviously delayed; Eurogamer says the game is due this autumn (and adding to the confusion, they call the title "Tunnel Rats 1968"), but the IMDB lists the movie's release date as March 13, 2009, so we'd bet that's when to expect the game, too.

ATI Linux CATALYST Drivers

The ATI Drivers & Software Page now offers the Linux version 8.9 CATALYST drivers corresponding to yesterday's Windows release (story). Thanks Ant and LinuxGames.

Valve DRM Q&A

Kotaku's Doug Lombardi Q&A discusses DRM with the Valve spokesperson in light of the controversy about this aspect of Spore. They discuss the growing pains with DRM Valve experienced when they launched Steam, the fact that DRM for downloadable games is probably here to stay, and as a point of reference they contrast how DRM is handled in Spore compared with Valve's DRM for The Orange Box.

Evening Previews

  • Need for Speed Undercover on GameSpot.
  • Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising on Eurogamer.
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 on 1Up.
  • The Sims 3 on IGN.AU.

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Okay, a bunch of forum posts that followed our recent server move are appearing out of order, but Frans has fixed this going forward as well as the thread counts and all the other glitches we were aware of, and even a few we weren't. I cannot say enough about the incredible effort Frans put in to make this move work out, it is safe to say it could not have been done without him. He is indeed the Man, with a capital "M."

Spore Patch

A new patch for the Windows edition of Spore is now available, updating Maxis' life simulation to version 1.01 with a number of new cheats, changes, fixes, and features. The patch is available via the EA Downloader (available via this direct link if you didn't install it with the game), and the patch notes are on the Spore website. There are also manual versions of the patch on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell. An update is also available for the Spore creature creator, The Mac editions will update automatically upon launch, while Windows users can either make use of the EA downloader, or manual patches for either the full or trial editions of the creature creator which are also posted on the same page.

Europa Universalis III: In Nomine Patch

Paradox Interactive announces the availability of a new patch for Europa Universalis III: In Nomine, their grand strategy expansion. The patch can be applied automatically by clicking the "check for updates" button from within the game. The update changes the way policy changes are handled, improves the espionage system, introduces commissioned Privateers, overhauls the UI, offers "massively improved" AI, and more.

The Witcher Enhanced Edition Blood Patch

A glitch in the version of The Witcher Enhanced Edition that was just released in North American prevents the revamped edition of CD Projekt RED's RPG from displaying any blood. There will be blood, however, as they have issued a small patch that should repair this issue, which can be found on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell. And remember, as Mick Jagger once sang, "we all need someone we can bleed on."

Crysis Warhead DRM FAQ

There's now a Crysis Warhead Copy Protection FAQ on the Crymod Modding Portal addressing concerns over the digital rights management in Crysis Warhead, Crytek's just-released shooter (story). The document outlines the reasoning for the copy protection, advantages this system provides (you do not need the disc in the drive to play), states that the game will only authenticate itself online the first time it is launched or after "significant changes" to your system, and clarifies that the game can be authorized on five different computers, rather than the three previously reported. It also states that Crysis Wars, the game's multiplayer mode, does not have an authorization limit, but does require a one-time online activation. The FAQ begins with a statement from Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli, that reads in part: "We realize that copy protection and piracy is a very emotional and hotly debated topic. It is very hard to find a solution that fits both our needs. We need to make an effort to limit piracy but we do not want to limit the experience of our fans."

Preorder Colonization, Get EU3 Free

GamersGate is now accepting preorders for Civilization IV Colonization, the upcoming turn-based strategy remake from Firaxis. Those willing to buy before they try will receive a free copy of Europa Universalis III, Paradox Interactive's grand strategy sequel.

AMD Fusion Gaming Utility

AMD has launched its new "Fusion" marketing campaign, promoting the synergy between their CPUs and GPUs, as detailed on their Fusion website. The program carries the slogan "The Future is Fusion," and the announcement offers a little world-class marketing-speak to describe what this means: "Fusion is AMD’s way to express how we blend our customers’ needs, dreams and desires with our unique passion for enabling innovation." Wading through this will offer a boon to owners of AMD technology, as the site offers a beta of what they are calling the AMD Fusion Gaming Utility, which is intended to improve performance on AMD processor-based PCs with the click of a button by "temporarily reducing resource-consuming background services while boosting compute performance with advanced acceleration technologies." The utility also includes options for advanced users to tune and overclock their systems. More information and the beta utility itself can be found on the Fusion for Gaming Page. Also, Bjorn3d has an article about the utility after taking it for a test drive.

Ships Ahoy - Ford Off-Road Racing

Empire Interactive announces that Ford Off-Road Racing is off the road and in North American stores, offering the latest installment in this racing series solely centered around the Ford brand. The game offers 4x4 racing over desert, water, and ice environments in a variety of Ford off-road vehicles, as well as the Land Rover brand.

Prince of Persia in December

Ubisoft announces that Prince of Persia will ship on December 2 for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, offering the latest installment in the long-running (and jumping) series that began with a game of the same name. Word is: "Prince of Persia opens an entirely new chapter in the Prince of Persia universe in addition to introducing a fresh Illustrative art style, evolved combat system, open world structure and dynamic AI – most notably in the form of the Prince's powerful ally Elika." Ubisoft also announces that Prince of Persia: The Fallen King for the DS will ship on that date as well.

New Free Grimm Episode

GameTap's American McGee's Grimm now offers Beauty and the Beast, the latest chapter in the episodic adventure series that culminates the first of the three volumes of American McGee's Grimm. As usual, the episode is free for 24 hours, after which normal purchase or subscription fees apply. Here's word on the new episode: "When a man is caught stealing a rose from an enchanted castle, the Beast who owns the castle offers to spare the man's life in exchange for possession of his daughter, Beauty. Beauty is forced to live in the castle, and as we all know, ends up falling in love with the not so savage Beast. But, how would the tale of the fair maiden and monstrous Beast be told if Grimm had his way?"

Football Mogul 2009 Release & Demo

The Sports Mogul Website now offers Football Mogul 2009, the latest installment in this tackle football management series, along with a free playable trial. Word is: "Football Mogul 2009 is the football game for fans who want their success on the field determined by their strategy, not their reflexes. You call the shots with full control over rosters, trades, draft picks, contract negotiations and playbooks. Football Mogul 2009 also gives you complete control on the field, with the option of calling every play and managing the clock -- or leaving it up to the computer."

Mirror's Edge Consoles for Holidays - PC Delay Confirmed

DICE Announces Holiday Ship Date for Mirror's Edge for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 has word that the console editions of DICE's first-person platformer/action game will ship on November 11. The announcement confirms recent speculation of a delay to Mirror's Edge for the PC (story), saying it will "ship later this winter." Word is the console release will be preceded by a demo, and that preorder customers will receive a code to unlock a Time Trial mode in the demo.

Crysis Warhead In Stores - Limited Installs & Online Authentication

As announced Tuesday (story), Crysis Warhead should be hitting store shelves today, and as announced yesterday (story), Crytek's first-person shooter sequel is also now available via Steam. On a related note, GameXtract has a screenshot of the EULA that indicates Crysis Warhead allows a limited number of installations, a controversial feature of other recent EA releases (thanks N4G.com). Confirmation of this can be found in an article on the game on PCGH offering hardware benchmarks and other details about the game. Among those details is a confirmation of this DRM feature, saying the game can be activated up to three times. The EULA in the screenshot on GameXtract actually says "The first end user of this License can install and authenticate CRYSIS WARHEAD on a set number of machines." The implication there seems to be this license is non-transferrable. That screenshot also says "CRYTEK reserves the right to periodically validate Your License through subsequent online authentication."

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Launches

This press release announces that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is now live for North America, Europe and the Oceanic territories. Word is: "Players entering the Age of Reckoning can look forward to invading enemy lands, assaulting imposing fortresses, and sacking sprawling capital cities for the glory of your Realm. They will wield devastating magic and deadly weapons, battle monstrous creatures, and join their brothers-in-arms in epic Public Quests™. Players can climb the Bastion Stair, carry their Guild Banner into battle, and unlock the infinite secrets of the Tome of Knowledge as they travel the world. The wait is over - the Age of Reckoning has begun and war is everywhere!" There's a Community Update - From Mark Jacobs on the WAR Website from just prior to the launch (thanks Massively) saying that players will no longer have to click through the Code of Conduct to enter the game, but they will have to continue to scroll through the EULA every time the game launches, says a last-minute patch has reduced the number of crashes some players were encountering, and that tomorrow they will begin "cloning" players from high population servers onto lower population ones to give players a choice of where to play.

AoC PvP Patch Live

Massively reports the patch is now live in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures that lays the groundwork for the PvP system in Funcom's MMORPG by introducing PvP XP and gear. The Age of Conan Europe Forum has the full patch notes.

The Hunter Revealed

Just Cause studio confirms free online title on GamesIndustry.biz has some details on The Hunter, a free online hunting game in development at Avalanche Studios (Just Cause). The game will reportedly be partly played in a browser, and part of the project will involve social networking to create a community of worldwide hunters.

Harvey Smith's New First-Person RPG

Gamasutra reports on Harvey Smith’s keynote at the AGDC Game Career Summit, where the former Origin, ION Storm, and Midway designer described an unnamed immersive first-person RPG he's working on at Arkane Austin. During the keynote he said, "Arkane as a company is very focused on immersive first-person experiences," and described his own design philosophy: "My focus is very much around games like Deus Ex." They spoke with him after the talk and he spoke of his happiness at returning to a project in the vein of Deus Ex and Thief: Deadly Shadows.

Atari Thinking Outside the Box

The game changers on MCV is an interview with Atari CEO David Gardner and Atari president Phil Harrison, discussing implications of their recent distribution deal with Namco Bandai (story). They make the distinction between their distribution efforts and publishing efforts, outlining the complicated aspects of the deal. MCV also highlights Atari's stated plans to move away from traditional boxed distribution, as Namco Bandai now has an option to buy Infogrames' distribution business outright in five years, and Gardner says the Japanese developer/publisher will "probably" own a majority of that distribution arm at that point. He goes on to say that by that time they will have "90% online projects."

Molyneux's Casual/Hardcore Obsession

Peter Molyneux interview Part One on GamesIndustry.biz talks with the head lion at Lionhead about gaming and his attendance of Games Convention Asia, focusing on the burgeoning Asian marketplace. Edge Online reports on Molyneux's keynote address at the convention where he spoke of his obsession with creating a game that will manage to satisfy the needs of both casual and hardcore players.

World in Conflict Maps

Massgate.net has news that the promised winning maps from the World in Conflict map contest, Arizona and Valley, are now available as promised. Word is: "The two maps, made by Slepnyrl and Gozeus respectively, charmed the World in Conflict team with a well-balanced Tug of War map and a visually stunning DX10 map in the contest." The maps are posted in their download section.

The Witcher: Versus Premium Content Plans

The Witcher: Versus will soon add premium content to this browser-based game based on CD Projekt RED's RPG The Witcher. Sales of premium content will support continued development of the game, though they are quick to point out: "Future changes in The Witcher: Versus will not focus on premium content only, and will serve to make the free-to-play game even more enticing; leagues, tournaments, challenges, a full-featured RPG world and much more will begin to find their way into The Witcher: Versus in the later part of the year." Back to the premium content, word is: "Premium content will be added gradually; the first premium access package will contain new features intended to ease account and character management; they include a rucksack for items that are not currently equipped, a history of fights against a certain player (for ultimate bragging rights), as well as a private duels archive. The designers will reveal additional details over the next few months."

Political Machine Express

Stardock announces the release of The Political Machine Express, a free game based on the just-released The Political Machine 2008. The free game puts the player in the role of campaign manager for Barack Obama or John McCain, orchestrating a run on the White House. The game requires an internet connection and includes a copy of Stardock's Impulse platform. Thanks Gamer's Hell.

Frontlines: Fuel of War Patch This Month

Frontlines: Fuel of War Website announces that a new version 1.2.0 patch is now in final testing for the Kaos Studios' military shooter. They say barring problems, the patch will be out by the end of September. Details on the patch can be found in the Frontlines PC Roadmap.

Sword of the Stars: A Murder of Crows Movie

Lighthouse Interactive has a new video showing off gameplay from Sword of the Stars: A Murder of Crows, Kerberos Productions' upcoming 4X space strategy expansion, which is due for release next month. They say of the clip: "Players get their first-look at the Morrigi engaging in fierce battles against the five other races introduced in Sword of the Stars and the first add-on Born of Blood. This new race features a style of gameplay that will challenge even the most avid Sword of the Stars fan."

Saints Row 2 Movie

A new "Talent Voice Over" trailer from Saints Row 2 features interview snippets with a number of the Hollywood actors contributing their voice talents to Saints Row 2, also offering in-game examples of their work on the coming open world action sequel. The best quotes are from Jamie Presley who enjoys the freedom the voice-work gives her to "come up with a million different voices and really let go," before a clip demonstrating her character sounds just like her normal voice, and says she had fun doing the game "because you can be anybody, so I can be as sexy as I wanted to be," suggesting she does not comprehend her real-life sex appeal. The NSFW clip can be found on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

I'm thinking about my mom a lot these past few days, as it was five years ago today that she died. I bring this up not to bring you down, nor do I need anybody's sympathy over this. But if you still have your mom, dad, or both, I'd like to ask you to give them a call or a hug today. It sounds corny, but it makes me feel good suggesting that; maybe because I know my mom would have liked the thought.

Thoughtful Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Fantastic Contraption.
Link: Atari Modern Classics. Thanks nin.
Story: Crash scatters nickels across interstate.
Science: The Science of Great Sex at 80. Thanks j.c.f.
Media: Real Life Should Be More Like Team Fortress.
How To Get The IT Department To Do Their Actual Job.
Chuck E. Cheese Apocalypse.