Archived News:

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

Ice Age 3 Demo

A playable demo is now available for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the just-released action/adventure game tie-in with the animated movie sequel of the same name. If you want to Scrat the itch to try this game, head over to AtomicGamer, FileFront, or Gamer's Hell, where the 513 MB download is hosted.

"AAA" Monolith Game Revealed

Monolith Job Listing for a Senior Software Engineer reveals plans for an unannounced project they call "a cutting-edge first-person action game on PlayStation 3, XBox 360 and PC." The game is also referred to as "a triple-A next-generation console title" and one of the listings under preferred experience is: "XBox 360 and/or PlayStation 3 development experience." Thanks IGN/VG247.

id Software Interview

Kikizo's id Software Interview talks with id Software Director of Business Development (and lead singer) Steve Nix, though the conversation took place before last week's announcement that id has been acquired by ZeniMax, so it is obviously not discussed. Topics that are covered include id's foray into mobile gaming, engine licensing, Wolfenstein, RAGE, and more.

Tigon Interview

A Hollywood Tale - Part Two on GamesIndustry.biz follows up on last week's part one of their interview Ian Stevens, head of Vin Diesel's Tigon Studios, discussing Tigon's works and the relationship between the film and the game development industries. The following comment on that topic (admittedly noticed as it was highlighted by Joystiq) is his point that Hollywood views the licensing of videogames as just another merchandising avenue, like action figures: "They don't, and the set-up is so horrible. It is a business for them - the studio goes ahead and slates the films for production in the next couple of years, and part of that revenue stream is licensing and merchandising. For a lot of those guys over the past twenty years, making videogames has been the same thing as making action figures, and putting your characters on cereal boxes, or making pyjamas. And that's been a very successful model."

Second Annual Philly Game Jam

GameX Industry Summit announces the Philly Game Jam 2009 will take place from October 24-25, 2009 as this game design event will be part of the GameX Industry Summit hosted by IGDA Philadelphia. Registration ends on October 10, and word is: "The Philly Game Jam is a 48-hour game building marathon where game professionals, students and amateurs alike compete to build new game concepts based on a theme announced at the start of the contest."

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Thanks Mike Martinez.

Merchants of Brooklyn Renamed, Patched

Steam News now offers an automatic update for Drug Wars, which seems to be the new title for the multiplayer game formerly known as Merchants of Brooklyn, as it looks like the game has been quietly renamed after the game mode introduced by a recent patch. The update re-enables four team multiplayer, updates maps, tweaks weapons, and more.

Dark Void Simultaneously on PCs and Consoles

Though a release date for Dark Void has not been set, VG247 reports on Capcom's plans to release Airtight Games' horizontally challenged shooter simultaneously for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. This represents an unusual move for the publisher, whose PC offerings traditionally trail their console counterparts. Thanks Mike Martinez.

U-Wars Date, Movie

Russian developer BIART officially announces U-Wars, though we've already seen a couple of Q&As for this underwater third-person shooter, as it was shown off in May at Moscow's KRI 2009 (thanks Gamer's Hell). The Underwater Wars Website links to a new diary movie that includes gameplay and English subtitles on the YouTube, and here's the announcement, which says the game's release for Windows and Xbox 360 is expected in the middle of next year:
Moscow, Russia / Frankfurt, Germany, 30th June 2009 – Today the Russian developer BIART announce its ambitious next gen Project "U-WARS" on XBOX360, PC and PSP. Starting the developing progress end of 2007 the game will hit the shelves mid of 2010.

“U-Wars” is a tactical sci-fi third person shooter set up an ultra realistic subaqueous scenario. Combining the thrill of an undersea setting with a cinematic approach and a superior story line “U-Wars” is the first lifelike underwater action experience.

In “U-Wars” the player will take control of an elite force and is constrained to accomplish covert operations both on land and undersea. As the PC version is supporting the NVIDIA PhysX technology the XBOX users will enjoy a variety of multiplayer modes via XBOX Live. During this year E3 the game was presented behind close doors and got great feedback from international publishers and journalists.

Chronicles of Spellborn "Re-Development"

Acclaim makes the unusual announcement that The Chronicles of Spellborn is undergoing "re-development," and that when the revamped version of the fantasy-themed MMORPG launches in 2010, it will be a subscription-free game supported by microtransactions, as they will scrap the "freemium" model that offered both free and subscription-based zones. In the meantime the game will continue to operate as before, and players will receive credit for unused time on their subscriptions once the game goes free:
Los Angeles, CA (June 29, 2009) – Acclaim Games announces the re-development of their recent MMORPG The Chronicles of Spellborn which was released in February, 2009. The development is planned to carry into 2010 and will include several enhancements and changes to the current game. The enhancements and development of the new model will be carried through a joint venture between Spellborn NV and the development studio of Frogster Asia Co. Ltd. based in Seoul, the Korean studio bringing its expertise in the field of free-to-play and micro-transactions.

After the re-development, the current subscription model will be switched to a free-to-play system supported by micro-transactions. This will open the world of Spellborn to all players and give them a chance to experience the rich lore and game-play in its entirety.

Players who are currently playing the game will be able to continue playing the game in its current form via the subscription service. At the point where the new version is released, any unused subscriptions will be credited to their accounts. Any players who wish to register for a free account can sign up now at http://spellborn.acclaim.com.

Steamships Ahoy - Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is now available via digital distribution for those seeking Techland's new wild west shooter prequel through alternative means. The game can be purchased and downloaded from Direct2Drive and Steam, and perhaps elsewhere as well. Also, the launch trailer for the game can be found on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

WAR XP Event Underway

The Warhammer Herald announces that July 4th celebrations are already underway in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, offering extra XP for participants:
WAAAGH!!!

The hot days of summer are settling in and the 4th of July is quickly approaching here in the states. While we know not everyone celebrates Independence Day I think we can all agree it's a good enough reason to celebrate in game with bonus XP, Renown, and some festive fireworks to boot!

From today until Monday, July 7th you'll earn 10% more XP and Renown for kills and enemy players will drop fireworks for your amusement.

It's our way of saying thanks, have fun, and enjoy the start of summer with a BANG!

Three DLC Releases Planned for Red Faction: Guerilla

Eurogamer follows up on earlier indications that Volition plans to support Red Faction: Guerilla with post-release downloadable content (DLC) with word on plans for three DLC releases for the upcoming shooter. The first will be called Demons of the Badlands, which is slated for release on August 13, while details on the other two bits of DLC will be released "later this year." They have some Demons of the Badlands screenshots and word that this pack promises a new single-player campaign set outside the main game's campaign setting. They only mention console plans, and with signs the Windows edition of Red Faction: Guerilla may be delayed, it is not clear if any of these DLC packs is destined for the PC.

Ships Ahoy - Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Ubisoft announces that Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 is now available in North American stores, offering Techland's prequel to their wild west shooter Call of Juarez:
SAN FRANCISCO — JUNE 30, 2009 — Today Ubisoft announces that Call of Juarez®: Bound in Blood, the prequel to the Wild West action shooter Call of Juarez, is now available in stores across North America for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and Windows-based PC. Developed by Techland, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood takes place 20 years prior to the events of the original storyline.

Following the story of the McCall Brothers, players enter a quest for the legendary Gold of Juarez leading them from a ravaged Georgia during the Civil War to the Aztec ruins of Mexico. The brothers, Ray and Thomas, make their lawless trail into a truly Wild West, using their superior gun-slinging skills to take out all of those that stand in their way.

"Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is one of the best and most authentic Wild West experiences ever offered as interactive entertainment,” said Tony Key , senior vice president of sales & marketing. "We know that the Wild West offers a great setting that is underrepresented in the world of interactive entertainment and we are proud to bring this quality product to the marketplace.”

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood also brings the Wild West mayhem online. Gunslingers, bandits and marshals struggle online for bounty, and multiple character classes can be unlocked for use during team-based objective modes or the straightforward team death match. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood introduces an innovative Bounty System, which increases the bounty on a player's head as they rack up more kills.

StarCraft II LAN Dropped Due to Piracy

Joystiq has more clarity on Blizzard's rationale for dropping LAN support in StarCraft II, which has inspired much outcry, as well as a petition from unhappy fans. The explanation is as many expected, which is they are using Battle.net to combat piracy of the upcoming RTS sequel. Here is the statement they received from Bob Colayco at Blizzard PR:
We don't currently plan to support LAN play with StarCraft II, as we are building Battle.net to be the ideal destination for multiplayer gaming with StarCraft II and future Blizzard Entertainment games. While this was a difficult decision for us, we felt that moving away from LAN play and directing players to our upgraded Battle.net service was the best option to ensure a quality multiplayer experience with StarCraft II and safeguard against piracy.

Several Battle.net features like advanced communication options, achievements, stat-tracking, and more, require players to be connected to the service, so we're encouraging everyone to use Battle.net as much as possible to get the most out of StarCraft II. We're looking forward to sharing more details about Battle.net and online functionality for StarCraft II in the near future.

Firefox 3.5

Firefox version 3.5 is now available, offering the latest version of Mozilla's web browser (thanks Cale). This page describes the new version, this CNET article offers some analysis (thanks Mike Martinez), while Slashdot point the way to a review of the new release on Slate Magazine.

City of Heroes Issue #15 Live

This press release announces the launch of Issue #15 for City of Heroes, NCsoft's superhero MMORPG. Word is: "Commemorating the game’s recent five-year anniversary celebration, Issue 15: Anniversary brings City of Heroes its 15th major free content update introducing players to all-new content, missions, features and customization tools that continue to place City of Heroes at the forefront of the evolving MMO genre." Also, the City of Heroes Website announces the first weekend in August will be a double-XP weekend with the bonus beginning on Friday, July 31st 2009, at noon Eastern time.

Ships Ahoy - Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Video Game Hits Store Shelves Worldwide Today announces the game tie-in with the animated movie sequel is now available in North America in advance of the movie debut on Friday. Word is: "the game allows players to command their favorite movie characters, including Sid, Manny, Diego, Scrat and the relentless one-eyed Dino hunting weasel, Buck, and venture into a mysterious underground world of dinosaurs, while solving puzzles and platforming through more than 15 exciting levels."

Rogue Warrior Interview

Rebellion's Guy On Reinventing Rogue Warrior on Gamasutra sits down with Aeron Guy about Rogue Warrior, Rebellion's upcoming first- and third-person shooter based on the life of Navy SEAL Richard "Demo Dick" Marcinko. They discuss starting from scratch after the switch in developer from Zombie, collaborating with Bethesda, mission structure, the role of stealth in gameplay, working with Demo Dick, and more.

Red Faction: Guerrilla Interview

The Red Faction: Guerrilla interview on Digital Foundry/Eurogamer talks with Volition associate producer Sean Kennedy and senior programmers Eric Arnold and Dave Baranec in the first installment in a two-part interview on the technology behind the upcoming shooter sequel. They discuss the switch to third-person perspective, open-world gameplay, the game's lengthy development cycle, editing tools, and of course the destructible environments that are the signature element of the series.

Ships Ahoy - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

EA and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Announce that the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince game is hitting stores this week for most platforms, from Windows through mobile. The game should be on shelves in North America today, and in Europe by the end of this week. Word is: "In the game of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, players return to Hogwarts™ – reproduced from movie blueprints in exacting detail - to help Harry survive a fraught sixth year. Players will be able to master gesture-based spell-casting as they explore the Hogwarts school grounds, from the heights of the Astronomy Tower to Professor Slughorn’s Potions classroom in the depths of the dungeons and iconic locations in between such as the Gryffindor™ common room and the Great Hall."

Blood Bowl Patch

A third patch is now available for Blood Bowl, which will update Cyanide's just-released, fantasy-themed sports game to version 1.0.1.2. The patch was discovered by The Patches Scrolls, where they offer it for download, and it is now also available from AtomicGamer, and here's the odd change log: "To enhance the performance of the game on your computer, the game resolution has been decreased. You can change that parameter later in the game options."

Priston Tale Summer Events

Wicked Interactive announces special summer events for Priston Tale, their subscription-free fantasy MMORPG. This page outlines the festivities, beginning with fireworks tomorrow, and followed by new quests and in game events starting July 2.

The Sims 3 Interview

The Sims 3 Interview on Skewed & Reviewed chats up some unnamed members of the development team on The Sims 3, the just-released installment in EA's lifestyle simulation series. Topics include the game's setting, Sim creation, enhanced exploration options, aging and career progression, items, social options, obstacles faced during development, the game engine, movie making, and more.

Ships Ahoy - FUEL

Codemasters announce that FUEL is now available in North America for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, with the new racing game from Asobo Studios set to take the green flag in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) territories on Thursday and in the UK on Friday. A batch of new screenshots accompany the announcement, and the FUEL Website features a new video that "showcases the diverse locations, beautiful scenery and freedom to explore which up to 16 players can enjoy in FUEL's stunning game world." Here's word on the game:
FUEL offers an astounding 5,560 square miles playground which is fully open to race and explore. Based on satellite data from the United States, wildly diverse terrain from the snow-capped Mount Rainier to the arid Grand Canyon and everything in between create an atmospheric, epic racing sandbox. With a 70+ strong vehicle line up, including bikes, buggies, quads, cars, roadsters, trucks and even a hovercraft, gamers experience unprecedented choice in choosing tactical routes on-the-fly, on or off-road. The wide vehicle roster is perfect for taking on hundreds of exhilarating arcade events, from large-scale raid challenges to tight circuit races, available in FUEL’s career mode.

Extensive multiplayer options allow up to 16 players to discover FUEL’s world in free ride or compete in thrilling head-to-head races. Gamers can also unleash their creativity by using the powerful yet intuitive race editor to create events set anywhere in FUEL’s environment and share them online.

PlayLogic Portal

PlayLogic has launched GamEssence, a new digital distribution portal for their own games as well as games from third-party publishers, with their initial offerings including Age of Pirates, Gene Troopers, Aggression: Reign over Europe, and more. GamesIndustry.biz quotes Rogier Smit, "Playlogic has taken an aggressive approach to become one of the world’s leading videogame publishers," says the executive vice president of Playlogic. "Gamessence.com presents another revenue opportunity for Playlogic, providing us with the ability to fully manage our content directly into the hands of the consumer."

Brian Reynolds Gets Social

Legendary Game Designer Brian Reynolds Joins Zynga as Chief Designer announces Brian Reynolds has joined social gaming developer Zynga, in spite of indications just a month ago that Reynolds would continue to serve as a consultant for Big Huge Games after the developer he helped found was acquired by 38 Studios. Word is: "Reynolds will head up operations at Zynga East, expanding the company’s presence on the East Coast. In 2009 this office will begin with 12-15 employees, including game designers, web developers (PHP, MySQL, Flash), artists, and producers. Based in Baltimore, Md., production efforts will be focused on creating new social network games on Facebook and other platforms--particularly games with a strategic emphasis."

Global Agenda Beta Next Month

Hi-Rez Studios announces they now expect closed beta testing for Global Agenda to begin sometime next month, a slight delay from previous expectations that testing would launch by the second quarter of this year (which ends today). There are details on the beta for the upcoming MMORPG in this FAQ, and there's still an opportunity to sign up to be a tester on this page.

On AoC Launch Woes

AoC's Craig Morrison Interview on IncGamers is the conversation with Funcom's game director on Age of Conan from which they posted excerpts yesterday. The conversation focuses on problems with the game's launch, including reasons subscriber numbers for the MMORPG dipped after launch, whether there was enough content included from the outset, mid-level gameplay, the year it has taken to get some issues with the game addressed, and more. They also probe for details about expansion plans, but Craig was under strict orders from marketing not to spill any beans.

On Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Race Relations

The interview with Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood writer Haris Orkin on The Game Reviews talks with Haris Orkin, writer on the wild west shooter prequel. The conversation covers possible controversy over issues explored in the game, as it touches on "racism, slavery and the oppression of Native Americans and Mexicans in south Texas." Here's a bit:
I’ve been reading some of the forums. Some people - not very many - are concerned that the playable characters are on the side of the confederacy. Some people simplistically believe that everyone who fought on the side of the south was evil. The truth is, the causes of that war were very complex. There were northerners involved in the slave trade and southerners who didn’t believe in slavery. When the war started it was more about state’s rights versus federal control. The truth is, most of the soldiers fighting for the Confederacy were not slaveholders. Maybe 20 percent had slaves. Atrocities were committed on both sides. Many of the actual outlaws of the time were former confederate soldiers; Jesse James and his brothers, the Youngers. Archie Clement. So the McCalls were based somewhat on those actual outlaws. Confederate soldiers who suffered the brutality of war and lost everything they had.

StarCraft II LAN Petition

There's now a LAN in Starcraft 2 Please. Petition imploring Blizzard to reconsider stated plans to include no LAN multiplayer support in StarCraft II (thanks IncGamers). Here's a bit: "We understand you will be adding amazing new features to Battle.net that you can't talk about yet, but regardless of any features you might add online, we would still like to be able to play in a traditional network where no internet connection is needed. For an internet connection might not always be available."

id Mobile Interview

Interview: John Carmack and Tom Mustaine on Doom, iPhone Desires, and the Future of id Mobile is a conversation about the just-released DOOM Resurrection for iPhone as well as id Software's ambitious mobile gaming plans. According to Tom, they started using touch screen controls, and the project may well have been cancelled until they found its fun factor in the accelerometer: "So we made a pretty big change. At the halfway point of the project we were kind of considering, this could get canceled if it doesn't get fun. And so we moved it over to the accelerometer controls, and it was kind of surprising, because I think we've played almost every other game called a shooter on the iPhone, and nobody's really landed on this control mechanism before. And that was kind of our 'ah-ha' moment."

Ghostbusters Interview

When a Ghostbusters Game Appears in the Neighborhood, Who You Gonna Call? on GameZone interviews Brendan Goss, Terminal Reality's Executive Producer on Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Topics include how this project got off the ground, the participation of Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as writers, gameplay, teamwork, multiplayer play, environments, weapons, matching the look of the movies, and more.

Empires of Steel Map Tutorial

Editor of Steel on Battlefront.com is a brief tutorial on how to use the map editor included with Empires of Steel. Word is: "In this article he's making full use of the nifty "overlay" feature to re-create a European map from scratch!"

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