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Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008


Spore to Steam?

There's now a Spore EULA on the Steam Website, offering fairly convincing evidence that EA's life simulation will be released on Valve's distribution service, and suggesting the absence of most other EA titles on Steam may be ending soon. Thanks Shacknews. in other Steam-related news, new automatic updates are now available for Team Fortress 2, Defense Grid: The Awakening, and Garry's Mod.

Turbine Cuts announces that Turbine has cut QA and Account Management staff at its Massachusetts and California studios following the launch of The Mines of Moria expansion for The Lord of the Rings Online. They decline to discuss specifics about the cuts, but say there are no further layoffs planned, and according to a representative: "In fact, Turbine is still hiring and we will continue to grow in 2009." The cuts come just a couple of months after the formation of Turbine West, headed by Flagship cofounder Dave Brevik.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Trailers

The F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Community Website offers "Unsung Heroes: IT (Part 2)," a non-gameplay movie having fun with some BOFH-style support Monolith gets from its IT department, where they also show off some of their security techniques for wiping old hard drives. On a more game related note, a new "comic" trailer offers a 2D cinematic setting some of the grim mood for the upcoming shooter sequel. This clip is available from ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, and Gamer's Hell.

Axl Rose on GnR in Guitar Hero

Stage Select has an excerpt from a rambling chat session between Axl Rose and some fans on the touching on a number of topics. The point of interest here is his perspective on the participation of former Guns N Roses guitarist Slash in Guitar Hero III and the game's use of Welcome to the Jungle, which he implies may not have been properly sorted out as far as licensing goes. Here's the somewhat disjointed comment:

"It doesnít bother me unless itís being done at my expense and or to keep him associated as in Guitar Hero. Him being Guitar Heroís fine but not when Activison in using Jungle, having Yahoo use Sweet Child unauthorized, claims no involvement with Slash, his or anyoneís image or VR or anyone or anyoneís music in either camp in promotion or commercials etc. I wasnít broadsided. I read about it as it moved along but Activision continually denied it right up to the release. Thatís some low life chicanery on all their parts.

Yes Slash was in Guns and on Jungle (and the whole I came to him for his riff is as much crap as him saying he brought Locomotive and Coma in as complete songs) and he has rights to perform it but not to be represented in this context in association with Guns. And since they werenít granted the license itíll take some sorting.

Universal has Guns under contract but I own the name.

I donít have problems with whoever doing the songs but film or video gets into sync rights and I donít have an interest in anyone new, old or whatever trying to sell themselves as GNR under another name that way."

Surge Interview

Namco-Bandai Shifts West For Survival With Surge on Gamasutra is an interview with Namco Bandai's Andrew Lelchuk about their recently announced plans to open a Western studio called Surge: "But the reality is we want to focus on innovation -- everything from tech to art styles to storylines, to creating that totally immersive experience for the consumer. Whether it's creating a new genre or sub-genre, we really want to focus on creativity and innovation. This isn't us going out and doing another FPS or action game, but doing something that truly is creative and makes a difference."

2008: The Year in Lists, Part 7

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits



Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Cuts at Midway

Midway Games to cut 25 percent of jobs has a repercussion of recent reports that Midway is in serious trouble with tumbling stock prices after a sell-off by Sumner Redstone. According to the report, 180 employees are losing their jobs in this holiday season, with Midway Austin being closed down and further cuts coming at Midway's Chicago and San Diego studios. It is reported that unnamed "noncore" games have been cancelled, and the moves are described as "a response to the specific challenges we are facing at Midway, many of which have been amplified by the current economic conditions." As a result of the cuts, Midway expects to take a charge of $1.6 million in the fourth quarter.

EVE Exploit Follow-up

Massively summarizes the proceedings from a chat transcript on the EVE Online Forums recapping a recent meeting of the Council of Stellar Management, as the player-elected advisory body for CCP's MMORPG met to dig into the details related to the recently revealed exploit that allowed resources to be re-used in manufacturing in EVE Online. It is alleged that this bug was exploited for four years, and CCP confirms it was present as early as February 2007, but while the data they are currently analyzing offers no indications that this was being exploited by players before March 2008, they cannot nail down when it first surfaced until they load up some archived data and see what it reveals. They are likewise still examining claims that this bug was reported and ignored four years ago; an investigation complicated by an outsourced email system and changes to their petition system from right around that time. And while the economic impact of this was described as vast, CCP's in-game economist says this was not noticeable sooner because it wasn't used on a grand scale until this year, though they are not able to place a number on how much ISK (game currency) was produced thorough the exploit. There is also a discussion of appropriate punishment for participating players, especially where it's not clear if they were knowingly benefitting from exploiting this bug. Finally, the burning question is raised as to whether any CCP employees were involved after a scandal early last year that revealed some CCP staff taking advantage of their positions; at this time they have no evidence yet that anyone from CCP was involved, but investigations about this are still underway.

Morning Consolidation

F.E.A.R. 2 Cleared in AU

Games On Net has a follow-up to news from last month that F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin was refused classification for sale in Australia due to its violent imagery. They report that Monolith's horror-themed shooter has now been given a MA 15+ rating, and is therefore to be legally sold down under. In a confusing twist, they indicate the game that was approved included the exact same content as the one that was not, quoting an explanation from Acting Classification Review Board Convenor, Trevor Griffin: "After considering extensive submissions and demonstrations of game play across all levels, the Review Board concluded that the level of violence in the computer game, whilst strong, could be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification."

Ghostbusters Interview

The Ghostbusters: The Video Game Interview on Kikizo talks with Mike Douglas and Drew Haworth of Terminal Reality about their Ghostbusters game, and its recent brush with the afterlife. They discuss the game itself, as well as its behind-the-scenes drama, confirming one of the reasons Activision didn't want to publish the game is because it wouldn't make for good annual sequels: "Yeah, even [Activision boss] Bobby Kotick came out with that... They can't really serialise and annualise a game like this where there's not a movie released every year, and we kind of understand their position on that. We used to have a good relationship with those guys. It's unfortunate, and we were still shocked that they weren't going to carry on with Ghostbusters - it seemed like such a no-brainer to us - but we understand the position, that's just their business problem." Thanks Mike Martinez.

Have an MMO Holiday

World of Warcraft: Dear Greatfather Winter (thanks Ant) has word on celebrating the holidays in Azeroth, while NCsoft announces winter events for City of Heroes, GuildWars, and Lineage II.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Screenshots

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Wow, I know there's a nasty cold snap in some places, but it was balmy enough here yesterday that I found a tick on the Gunnar-man. I think it's supposed to end pretty quickly, so we're not putting away the winter clothes just yet though, I heard yesterday was to be the warmest day for the rest of the season.

Today is the 64th anniversary of the beginning the Ardennes Offensive/Battle of the Bulge (it's also the 235th anniversary of the event known as the Boston Tea Party). When I was young my mom always urged me to ask my Great Uncle about his participation in the Battle of the Bulge, and much to my regret, I never did.

Bulging Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Shaun the Sheep. Thanks Jay is Games.
Ninja Roll 2.
Fear Unlimited Arena.
Links: Ultimate Gift Guide 2008.
Science: Good news for wind, bad for ethanol in major energy study.
Obesity 'controlled by the brain'.
Auction: eBay bans man from selling his soul. Thanks Digg.
Media: Robert Kelly on Hardcore Gaming, Ninjas, and Girl Friends.
Tetris...with lyrics.
Digitally Assisted Billiards.
Follow-up: Pirates Outmaneuver Warships Off Somalia. Thanks j.c.f.

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