Archived News:

Thursday, Dec 04, 2008

Hall of Famer Bruce Shelley

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) announces Bruce Shelley will be inducted into the Academy's Hall of Fame, the 12th game developer so honored. Shelley, an avid board game collector who began designing board games for Avalon Hill, has been a designer with three highly regarded franchises, having worked with Sid Meier on Civilization and Railroad Tycoon and on Ensemble's Age of Empires series. He also served on the board of the AIAS for several years. Shelley's Hall of Fame Award will be presented by Ensemble Studios founder Tony Goodman on February 19, 2009 in Las Vegas at the 12th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards during the 2009 D.I.C.E. Summit.

Left 4 Dead & Sacred 2 Steam Updates

Steam is now serving automatic updates for Sacred 2 and Left 4 Dead. The Left 4 Dead update addresses some bugs and exploits, speeds the process of finding a dedicated server, and locks Versus mode at Normal difficulty. The Sacred 2 update adds new bosses, eight new portals, balance changes, bug fixes, and more.

SecuROM Lawsuit Details

GameCyte has an examination of another class action suit over SecuROM, as the controversial DRM system is proving to be a boon to the legal profession. They follow-up on a recent report on 1Up on EA/Spore-related lawsuits, learning some fascinating details about the suit filed by California resident Alex McQuown. The lawsuit alleges that SecuROM actually caused physical damage to computer components, that it can be demonstrated that SecuROM has not prevented piracy, and that this suit is expanding its scope, looking to include anyone who has "purchased an Electronic Arts computer game with SecuROM" in the class action.

Cheyenne Responds to Rumors

Ten Ton Hammer has a statement from Stargate Worlds developer/publisher Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment about the rumor that employees there have not been paid in three weeks, prompted by a site dedicated to the situation called Days Since Cheyenne Mountain Employees Have Been Cheyenne's Kevin Balentine does not directly speak to whether they've been missing payroll, but he does admit they are a start-up in a cash-crunch: "We have maintained a core of dedicated investors, but the new economic realities are forcing us to seek out additional sources of funding and that's what we're doing." He also offers a status report on the Stargate MMOG: "We continue to move forward on the Stargate Worlds project. We recently completed a successful phase of closed beta testing and we will start a second phase early in 2009. We invite all of your readers to come to our site, check out our fantastic community and sign up for our beta."

Inside Game Piracy, Part 2

Inside Game Piracy, Part 2- The Countermeasures on Gamasutra follows up on yesterday's part one talking with the ESA and the PC Gaming Alliance about game piracy, focusing, as the article title suggests, on methods for combating it. Christian Svensson of Capcom (and the PCGA) admits that some of this is a grey area, saying of the balance between the needs of consumers and the industry: "I don't think that anyone has the right answer today." The topic of standards for DRM is also fuzzy, as Svensson uses the example of Stardock's Gamer's Bill Of Rights to illustrate: "Brad [Wardell]'s approach is very hands-off. I think that if the PCGA as an organization is going to be all-embracing, if Stardock were to become a member and EA were to become a member, I think there are very obvious differences in their strategy as pertains to DRM. As a PC gaming organization, we probably need to be able to embrace both approaches, and still be able to make recommendations."

Legends of Daemonica: Farepoynt's Purgatory Announced

This press release officially announces Legends of Daemonica: Farepoynt's Purgatory, though a Product Section (since removed) for the game went live almost nine months ago. This sequel to the original Daemonica, which was released in 2006, is described as a "full 3D psychological thriller containing unique features, elaborate characters, and a truly non-linear storyline." The game is set in the 14th century, putting the player in the role of "Nicholas Farepoynt, an obscure character with a troubled past who, along with twelve others, arrives on a mysterious island" (medieval Agatha Christie, perhaps?). The goal of the game will be to escape the island. The Game's Website is online, offering new screenshots and wallpapers.

Namco Bandai Surges

1UP reports that Japan-based Namco Bandai is opening a new game development and publishing studio called Surge, which is specifically intended to appeal to Western sensibilities. The first Surge release will be Afro Samurai on January 27, 2009, and Namco Bandai says other IPs will be switched to the Surge label.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

  • The Chronicles of Spellborn on FileFront.
  • Demigod on RPG Vault. Concept Art.
  • Divinity 2: Ego Draconis on Blue's News.
  • Hearts of Iron 3 on FileFront.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment on the Official Website. LOL: "Witness the awesome firepower of this fully operational battlestation!"
  • Things On Wheels on FileFront. This game seems to have missed its summer release window.

etc., etc.

Into the Black

What do you get for the driving game enthusiast who has everything? Why the Octane 120 Driving Arcade, of course. A driving cockpit with a high-powered PC, console support, a DLP projector, and yes, a beer tap. Breathalyzer not included.

Red Alert 3 Patch & Worldbuilder

Red Alert Website now offers a new patch for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 that updates the alternate-reality real-time strategy sequel to version 1.05, as well as version 1.0 of the Worldbuilder editor for the game. The patch includes balance tweaks and bug fixes, as well as the promised de-authorization tool that will help manage the game's Digital Rights Management. As for Worldbuilder, they say this map-making tool "gives players full creative control and all the tools they will need to make the ultimate Red Alert 3 skirmish or multiplayer map." The site offers downloads of both the Worldbuilder and the various language editions of the version 1.05 patch, but as for patching, they strongly advise using the in-game update function rather than a downloaded patch.

Activision: CoD6 "Speculative" reports that Activision has informed them that yesterday's report on MTV Multiplayer revealing plans for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a new James Bond game, Guitar Hero 5, and a new Tony Hawk game are "speculative." MTV's Stephen Totilo has proven a reliable source for items like this, and they point out that the equally credible N'Gai Croal Twittered about these games as well. Combining that with the use of the word "speculative" as opposed to, say, inaccurate, suggests Activision is just trying to put the genie back in the bottle on announcements they were not yet ready to make. Time will tell.

Mirror's Edge DLC Plans, PC Date Set

DICE announces plans for Mirror's Edge downloadable content that will be released in "late January" for the Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 editions of the parkour-happy action game. Of course the Windows version of Mirror's Edge isn't actually available yet, but the announcement also confirms the previously announced January release date for the PC edition, saying it will ship in North America on January 13 and in other territories on January 16. As for the DLC, that will offer seven "all-new and totally redesigned" Time Trial maps for $10.00 or 800 MS points. They also say PS3 owners will be able to download an additional bonus map at that time for free. There is a trailer for the Time Trial DLC on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers.

X3: Terran Conflict Patch

The EGOSOFT Website is now distributing a new patch for X3: Terran Conflict, updating the space combat sequel to version 1.3. They say: "The Update fixes many issues which have been bothering you as well as adding new features. We also listened to you and rebalanced the game accordingly. A big thank you to everyone who aided us in investigating some of these issues." The update includes new commands for controlling Freight Drones, an improved Shipyard trade menu, rebalanced mission enemies and rewards, bug fixes, and more. The patch is for the boxed version of the game, when the update for Steam is released, owners of that edition will receive it automatically upon login. The patch is available in the EGOSOFT Downloads Section and it is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FanGaming, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

New Grimm Episode

It's Thursday, and we all know what that means. Meatloaf! But it also means that GameTap is offering another episode of American McGee's Grimm, which, as usual, is free for 24 hours. The new installment in the episodic, fairy tale-inspired adventure series is called Iron John, which is described thusly: "An iron-clad forest-dweller with strange powers by the name of Iron John takes a young boy under his wing, in exchange for the kind act of freeing him from imprisonment. With Iron John's help, the boy wins the heart of the princess and lives happily ever after - unless Grimm has anything to say about it." Other new additions for subscribers are Gothic 3 and Kingpin, while for us cheapskates, they are offering Metal Slug X for free for a week.

Ships Ahoy - PBR Out of the Chute

D2C Games announces the release of PBR Out of the Chute, their professional bull riding game, which is now available via digital distribution for Windows and PSP. The game allows the player to assume the role of a pro bull rider, and in a variation we always appreciate in this sort of game, you can also, no bull, play as the bull: "Challenge the best or play as top riders including Guilherme Marchi, Justin McBride, and Chris Shivers. Even compete as one of the tour's rankest bulls, complete with signature moves! Intuitive controls and three difficulty levels allow everyone to pick up and play, have fun, and be challenged for hours. Multiplayer Mode allows players to compete against each other as rider vs. bull in 8 seconds or unlimited time modes. Season Mode features un-lockable riders, bulls, and videos as players compete to become the best rider or bull through the PBR season and win the World Finals in Las Vegas. Become part of the Millionaire's Club by beating some of the meanest, rankest bulls in the history of the PBR. Realistic sounds, pre-ride commentary, official rules, and heart-pounding music capture the essence of the PBR experience." The Windows version is on sale at Direct2Drive, though we can't find the PSP edition where it belongs on (though they do have the PlayStation 2 version).

Mac Keane Preorders

Freeverse announces they are nearing completion on the MacOS edition of Jack Keane, 10tacle Studios comedic point-and-click adventure game released earlier this year for Windows. They say the game will ship soon, so they are now accepting preorders. Here's a bit of the lowdown: "Players assume the role of our hapless, swashbuckling adventurer and accompany him in his travels across 15 locations throughout London, Capetown, and Tooth Island. Spectacular graphics, including dynamic lighting, realistic water, and particle effects, highlight your adventures."

Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor Patched

A new update for Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor is now available, updating the space strategy expansion to version 2.02. The game can be patched automatically via Impulse, and if you have the impulse to get it you can view the patch notes in this forum post, though the indication there is that not all localities will be updated just yet: "I'm sorry that we don't have the update for EU users up yet, but we had to make additional fixes for the translation. We're still waiting on some of the localized files, but we gave the translators the 2.02 files so the update will include the 2.02 changes." The new version consists of some balance tweaks and bug fixes. Thanks Bill.

Warhammer Online PTS & Patch Plans

The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Website announces the Public Test Server (PTS) for Mythic's MMORPG will go live soon, allowing players to help put new patches through their paces before they go live. They offer instructions on how to get into the Warhammer Online PTS when it launches, and outline plans for the upcoming version 1.1.0 that will be the first update tested there. Highlights of what's planned for version 1.1.0 include the full launch of the Knight of the Blazing Sun and Black Guard careers, the Open RvR Influence System, easy public quests, armor set improvements, UI improvements, new content, and more.

More Eidos Takeover Speculation

MCV adds a couple of wrinkles to the latest rumors of attempts to acquire Eidos (née SCi Entertainment). Those recent reports named usual suspects Electronic Arts and Ubisoft as prime candidates to pick up the struggling UK company, but MCV now says Warner Bros and Square Enix are also eyeing Eidos. They say "nose-tappers" (Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker?) think Warner will end up the victor here, noting they already own a 20% share and that Eidos recently lifted a restriction that prohibited Warner Bros. from increasing its stake. They offer a quote from an industry analysts indicating that Square Enix is a dark horse here: "I think Warners [sic] will still win, but it’s very interesting that Square have expressed this late interest. They are clearly looking for Western talent." They also mention the possibility that Eidos could be parted out, suggesting Square Enix may end up picking up individual franchises, offering the example of IO Interactive and the Hitman brand. Update: This story originally contained an inaccurate reference to EA having a stake in Eidos, apologies for the sloppiness and any confusion this caused.

Strategic Command WWII Pacific Theater Gold-ish announces Strategic Command WWII Pacific Theater is gold, though the accompanying explanation makes it clear they are using a different definition of "gold" than the rest of the industry. From their description, it seems that their use of that term in this case covers what is generally considered having created a release candidate: "What does 'gone gold' mean? It means that the game code has been 'frozen' and a final release candidate has been created. It does NOT mean that the game is ready for release yet. We now need to finalize testing, proof all the print materials, create and test the installers, and prepare our online delivery system for the downloads. A firm release date as well as info about pre-orders will be announced Sunday, December 7th (yes, that's a historic date). The game is a stand-alone third part of the series, does not require any previous games to play, and will cost $45." Normally a game is "gold" when it has been tested, approved, and released to manufacturing (RTM) for duplication.

GTA4 PC Problems

There are problems being reported on the Steam Users' Forums by users trying to run the just-released Windows edition of Grand Theft Auto IV, leading to a couple of sticky threads on a Missing Textures Issue and simply How To Get GTAIV Running. Also, Kotaku notes a considerable outcry over problems with the game on the GTAForums and GTAGaming. There's a statement from Rockstar on GTAGaming saying: "We are aware that a small number of fans are having problems running GTA IV on their PC’s and we would like to assure them we are working to help solve these as quickly as possible." In the meantime they recommend contacting technical support through phone numbers in the user manual and consulting for helpful information. This support information includes a graphics settings explanation and details on all of the game's error codes.

Champions Online & STO Maintenance

The Champions Online Official Site has word that scheduled maintenance will occur later this morning. Word is: "On Thursday, December 4th from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. PST, we will be performing scheduled maintenance on the Cryptic Account System. During this time, the Champions Online official web site and forums will be offline. We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your patience!" Likewise the Star Trek Online Official Website has word of maintenance during the same period.

Vendetta Online 2.0 Plans

A new Vendetta Online update outlines what Guild Software is up to in supporting their MMO space combat game. There is a story involved here, "as our development plans take unexpected twists and turns," and the resulting post is quite lengthy. Included somewhere in there is an outline of plans for Vendetta Online version 2.0: "Vendetta Online 2.0 is basically going to be the "Sequel" to original VO, in terms of features and polish. Although, strictly speaking, it will really be much closer to what we originally intended VO to be, from the very beginning, but never had the time or funding to complete. This is where all my blathering about Kourier/Erlang and massive NPC AI and other lengthy back-end development will really show its worth. You'll see bits in pieces of this in the much nearer future, as we start to expand Dynamic Warfare and so on, but there's a much 'bigger picture' that is coming down the road."

EverQuest II Interview

A Post-TSO interview with EQ2's Bruce Ferguson and Noel Walling on Ten Ton Hammer chats up these folks from Sony Online Entertainment following the launch of the new The Shadow Odyssey expansion for EverQuest II. The article-format conversation also talks about plans for the future: "One of the things that has been a challenge for us is shoring up our multi-core support. It’s not exactly an expansion feature. When we first launched the game, there were no duo-cores or multi-cores. That’s been an ongoing challenge for us, and one that we’ve started to address just this past year. We’ve got a new graphics programmer that’s working on shoring up our GPU support as well - making stuff run faster and better as well. It’s definitely a challenge dividing tasks code among cores."

Morning Preview

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

I mentioned yesterday that the new search function for the forums is far more feature-rich than the search function for the rest of the site. No longer, as Frans continues to beat Blammo into a properly submissive state, and now the same helpful Boolean search is live for the news articles here. Huzzah and kudos!

Boolean Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Noidzor 2.
Phage Wars.
Links: Walmart: You Cannot Buy This Lamp Anywhere, So Just Give Up.
Star Wars Slumbers - Sidi Driss Hotel in Tunisia.
Who Wants Police Academy 8? Anybody? Just You, Guttenberg? Thanks Digg.
Stories: Ralph magazine loses 130,000 inflatable boobs at sea. Rumors of busty Somali pirates unconfirmed.
'South Park' No Lark at B'klyn College. Thanks Digg.
Science: New blood scanner detects even faint indicators of cancer.
How Comics Can Save Us From Scientific Ignorance.
Media: Who's the Tank?
Office Apocalypse: When The Internet Goes Down at Work.
25 Ways to Die In Gears of War 2.
The Funnies: xkcd. Thanks Devicer.
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