Archived News:

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009

TF2 Soldier Update Info Leaked?

Total Gaming Network has what they report to be an update that briefly appeared on the RSS feed for the Team Fortress 2 Blog, which if real, is either an error, or proof Valve is now enamored of the leak-style announcement like they joked about after the leak of the Meet the Spy video. They have an image of the story, and summarize the details it provides, including new maps, a new King of the Hill mode that folks have been anticipating, and an item trading system. Popular sentiment seems to be this is a fake. Thanks Mike Martinez.

More F.E.A.R. 2 DLC

The F.E.A.R. 2 Reborn Interview on IGN talks with Monolith's Lucas Myers about Reborn, another upcoming DLC pack for F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. The article is in their Xbox section, and makes no mention of a Windows version, but previous F.E.A.R. 2 DLC eventually was released for free for Windows. The pack is due on consoles in August, and will offer four new single-player maps, and word is: "For this outing, you'll get to experience the F.E.A.R. 2 story from a different perspective as you take on the role of replica soldier foxtrot 813." The interview discusses all this, revealing that new achievements and trophies will be included. Thanks VG247.

Homefront Release Window

That VideoGame Blog has a tidbit from THQ's post-earnings conference call yesterday, saying it's been revealed that Homefront is expected during THQ's fiscal year 2011, which runs from April 2010 through March 2011. Homefront will be the second title from KAOS Studios, a first-person shooter where American Civilian Resistance does battle with a North Korean occupation. Thanks Mike Martinez.

Watchmen Ep 2 & More on Steam

Steam News announces the availability of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh Part 2 on Valve's online service. In other Steamy news, they also announce the release of Mata Hari as well as Steam Cloud Support for Trine, saying: "The indie hit Trine has just been updated with Steam Cloud support for save game files. Now you can play anywhere and resume right where you left off. In addition to that, language support for French, German, Italian and Spanish has been added."

C&C 4 Details

This thread on the Command & Conquer Forums offers additional details from gameplay designer Jeremy Feasel about Command & Conquer 4 in Q&A format. The post was penned a couple of weeks ago, but Command and Conquer DEN highlights a couple of bits that were just added (thanks Ant). Word is:
Q: Is there a population cap? What are the numbers (X/100) seen above the units on the UI?

A: The numbers shown above the units tab indeed represent a population cap. In C&C4, players are limited in the number of units they can make by Command Points, which allows the player to make smart decisions about which units they want to produce depending on the current state of the battlefield and limits single-unit spam and snowballing of attack power.

Q: Does the Crawler gain experience and level up during a match, like a hero?

A: While the Crawler can gain veterancy, just like a unit, all of the experience gained on the battlefield is gained directly by the player, allowing the player to unlock additional units, structures, powers, and upgrades, once the battle is complete.

Gates of Andaron Live

Gameforge announces Gates of Andaron is live, offering subscription-free gameplay in a westernized edition of this fantasy-themed MMORPG from Korean developer Zemi Interactive.

Rumble Fighter EU Launch

Casual MMO publisher OGPlanet announces Rumble Fighter is live in Europe, saying: "Following a successful Beta period, all European PC gamers are now invited to join forces with friends in the rumble zone, in battles of up to 8 players." They are also offering a prize to all early participants in this subscription-free online mixed martial arts game: "To celebrate the full launch of Rumble Fighter, OGPlanet will be giving all players a random in-game Astro item. All players who will have logged in before Sunday, August 2nd at 23;59 will receive their very own surprise!"

DiRT 2 Movie

A new movie from Colin McRae's DiRT 2 is now available, called "Racing on DiRT with Ken Block," as it features Subaru Rally Team USA driver (and DiRT 2 Technical Consultant) Ken Block talking about the joys of off-road racing to the melodic strains of Scars on Broadway. The clip includes live action, gameplay footage, and the combo platter of live footage of Ken playing the game. The clip is available on the DiRT2 Website (which is far less of a crime against HTML now that it's been redesigned) and it is mirrored on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

Champions Online Interview

Champions Online Interview on Ten Ton Hammer talking with Cryptic's Bill Roper about Champions Online, its Nemesis and Omega systems, and the high-level content they will offer players of the upcoming superhero MMORPG. The conversation goes into great detail, demonstrated by the fact that half the four-page article consists of the answers to two questions.

City of Heroes Interview

The City of Heroes interview on Ten Ton Hammer is a conversation from Comic-Con '09 chatting with NCsoft's Matt Miller and Joe Morrissey about the superhero MMORPG. The topics at hand are "Power Spectrum," the upcoming Issue 16 update for the game and the City of Heroes: Going Rogue expansion. We like Matt's ideas for alternate titles: "I really wanted to do Issue 16: When Pigments Fly, because it played off the saying "When pigs fly." But it was a little too campy for even us. The other one we bounced around was Issue 16: Going Rouge, which of course plays off the misspelling of our upcoming expansion. It was just a little too confusing for people."

Evening Previews

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Roof Luggage in Safari Park.

Analyst: StarCraft II May Just Sell Well

Gamasutra quotes a report by games industry analysts discussing StarCraft II. The article discusses the possibility that Blizzard's RTS sequel will be delayed into next year, and quotes oft-quoted games industry analyst Michael Pachter saying he expects the game to sell about four million units when it does ship, though given the level of anticipation for this title, that estimate almost seems low.

Gyromancer TMed

Gyromancer is the latest Trademark reported by the Trademark Watchers™ at superannuation. The new TM is registered by Square Enix, and it seems to cover about every use possible. We're just hoping the game is somehow involves conjuration of the spirits of the dead by the use of Greek food.

Dawn of War II Patch Tomorrow

The Dawn of War II Website announces that the "There is Only War" patch that recently left beta testing will be released tomorrow for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. This page outlines all the changes in There is Only War (remember when patches just had version numbers?), including bug fixes, map fixes, networking improvements, and extensive balance tweaks, though it neglects to mention the eight new maps it adds to Relic's sci-fi RTS sequel. The patch is expected at 11:00 am PDT, which is 2:00 pm EDT.

Spore Patch

Spore owners still running Patch 5 are so last week already, as the Spore Patches Page now offers a newer update for EA Maxis' life simulator. The update is available through the EADM program for PC users obnly, and Mac users are told to "check back soon." The new patch clears up a couple of bugs, and has been designated Patch 5.1, sending them down the slippery slope towards the actual version numbers they have clearly tried to avoid. Downloads of a manual edition of the patch can be found on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Aliens vs Predator Movie

A new Marine trailer from Aliens vs Predator is now available to reveal the heavily armed Colonial Marine class from Rebellion's upcoming first-person shooter. The clip offering a mix of cinematics, game footage, and explosions can be found on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Mass Effect 2 Interview

Hero to Zero, Vortex Throws, and So Long Mako in Mass Effect 2 on PC World concludes a four-part conversation with BioWare's Casey Hudson about the upcoming sequel to their science-fiction RPG (here's part one, part two, and part three). As they describe: "we cover Commander Shepard's level drop, the game's updated abilities, new vehicle attributes, the overhauled interface, and Casey explains why storytelling in at least some games doesn't suck."

EVE Online Movie

CCP has released a new movie from EVE Online to illustrate "the butterfly effect" in the game, which has nothing to do with Ashton Kutcher. The clip highlights the impact of the actions of an individual on a game world that boasts a population of over 300,000. The clip is available on the YouTube, where there is also a high definition version.

Infamous Film Plans

The Hollywood Reporter outlines plans for another game movie, this one based on Infamous, the PS3 exclusive action game. The movie will be penned by Sheldon Turner (The Longest Yard, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning). They report: "Sony Pictures has pre-emptively [sic] picked up a pitch from Turner to adapt the Sucker Punch Prods. video game into a feature film. The deal is for seven figures." Thanks Gamasutra.

Another Blood Bowl Patch

Don't blink or you'll miss another Blood Bowl patch, as a new version 1.0.1.6 update is now available for Cyanide's fantasy-themed tackle football game. The patch is available through this page, where they also have patch notes describing fixes for match save corruptions, improvements to the player invitation system, and a couple of additional bug fixes. The patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

WoW Sales Wow

Gamasutra says that World of Warcraft has sold approximately 8.6 million units, reporting data from the NPD group that adds further perspective to our understanding of the huge success of Blizzard's MMORPG that boasted 11.5 million subscribers as of December. While the game has not sold as many copies as there are subscribers (update: according to Dagok, these are US figures only), NPD has rolled up data on multiple SKUs of the game and its expansion packs to come to that 8.6 million figure, and Gamasutra guesstimates that this could amount to about $258 million in sales, a staggering sum, except when compared to subscription revenue, which would pass that in two months if all 11.5 million players were paying a full $15.00 a month.

Foundation 9 Cuts

A story on VentureBeat describes cuts at Foundation 9 Entertainment due to a downturn in the video game business. Foundation 9 is currently developing Assassins Creed II for PSP, Where the Wild Things Are, G.I. Joe, an unannounced Green Lantern game, and more. The story offers a quote from the company saying: "It’s important to F9 to remain a strong and profitable studio, so that we can continue to provide the best possible services to our publishing partners and employees. As such, we continuously monitor our production capacity and capabilities to make sure it’s in tune with the market. From time to time we make decisions to grow or shrink capacity in relation to market conditions, and we do not make public comments on these decisions. We can confirm that we recently merged the operations of our two Kirkland studios, Amaze and Griptonite. Having separate ‘console’ and ‘handheld’ studios under the same roof simply didn’t make sense in light of the convergence in capabilities of modern game hardware! J.C. Connors, studio head of Griptonite, will lead the combined studio. As part of that restructuring, and our normal practice of monitoring business conditions, we made the decision to close our Austin, TX handheld studio, Fizz Factor." Thanks Gamasutra.

NVIDIA Linux Drivers

The NVIDIA Unix Drivers Portal Page offers new version 185.18.29 drivers for NVIDIA accelerators running under various flavors of Linux and Unix. Thanks Mike Martinez and LinuxGames.

Ships Ahoy - Memento Mori

Got Game Entertainment announces Memento Mori is now available in North American stores and via digital distribution. Memento Mori (Latin for "remember you shall die") is a point-and-click adventure centered around the theft of some classic fine art. Here's the deal:
Weston, CT – July 29, 2009 - Imbued with the mystery and intrigue of contemporary detective work, classic art thievery, and a religious brotherhood shepherded by a centuries-old guide to death, “Memento Mori” brings thrills and chills to retail across North America this week as Got Game Entertainment announces the point-and-click adventure for PC has shipped. Join an unlikely team of investigators on a provocative and brain-teasing trail of clues that begins in the hallowed halls of a famous art museum, but ends in the realm of obsession.

In “Memento Mori”, when three priceless works of art are stolen from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, circumstances suggest that a secret society is behind the heist. Ambitious Interpol detective Lara Svetlana teams with reformed art forger and informant Max Durand to find the missing art, and unlock the mysteries of an ancient brotherhood obsessed with the 15th Century Latin work, “Ars Moriendi” or the “Art of Dying”. As the investigation deepens, the trail of clues takes you through 46 locations across 5 European countries and where, along the way, you may discover that when the powerful worlds of art and religion collide, the result can be murder!

“Memento Mori” immerses you in spine-tingling adventure in every aspect, from its smart story to the meticulously and authentically detailed museum (including the Winter Palace). With its innovative and comfortable dialogue system, immersive 3D aspects, unexpected plot twists, cinematic flair, seductive soundtrack, and 8 possible endings, “Memento Mori” is the entertainment steal of the summer.

Project T Revealed

VideoGamer.com reports that Neowiz Games and Blueside (Kingdom Under Fire) have revealed general plans for Project T (working title), a project that looks to fill the gaping hole in the marketplace for a fantasy-themed MMORPG. The story describes the game as featuring "highly stylish action and unique story-telling elements." They include a quote from Blueside CEO Sejung Kim: "With Neowiz Game’s undoubted speciality [sic] and strength in the worldwide online game publishing, I strongly believe that we together will be able to pioneer the global market of online gaming more widely and successfully than ever." Word is the game is slated for a worldwide launch in 2011. Here's more from Gaming Bits:
Departing from the ‘Kingdom Under Fire’ series, “Project T” is a completely new franchise being developed by BLUESIDE with a tremendous focus on stylish action and various aspects of online experience, some of which can be as sweet as a bed of roses or as bitter as a bed of nails in the world of M-M-O-R-P-G. With much ambition, though not too anxious to prove themselves, since they have demonstrated their expertise in creating games with spot-on action game-play and unprecedented graphic presentation through the ‘Kingdom Under Fire’ series and ‘Ninety-Nine Nights’, BLUESIDE is once again setting a new coordinate, and this time, towards a destination of fantasy wonderland to deliver an unparalleled MMO featuring highly stylish action and unique story-telling elements that will instantly draw in the players and immerse them in a whole new world full of excitement and adventures.. “Project T” is currently being aimed for a 2011 release.

QUAKE LIVE Patched

The QUAKE LIVE Website outlines the latest changes to id Software's free online first-person shooter, saying: "Included in today's update are some often requested clientside features and important fixes." They also outline future plans, saying: "As we continue to work through the remainder of this week our current focus is geared towards competition and shoutcasting features for QuakeCon 2009 - to be held this coming August 13-16." Thanks Voodoo Extreme.

Team17 on LSL and Alien Breed Evolution

The Alien Breed Evolution Interview on VideoGamer.com talks with Martyn Brown of Team17 about their upcoming remake of Alien Breed. Along the way the savagely negative reviews of Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust comes up, and while Martyn acknowledges the game had more than its share of problems, he doesn't think this should harm the reception for the new game: "Certainly with Alien Breed, if anybody's got any grumbles about what we can and can't do, they'll see the amount of effort and care put into a product where we're unbridled by any nonsense we had to deal with in the Larry project." He later outlines what this "nonsense" was: "Would we have self-funded, would we have done Larry by ourselves? Would we bollocks. We wouldn't have done that. We were making a game based on somebody else's script, somebody else's ideas, and it's very difficult in that position. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't work at all, and that was unfortunate."

The Bachelor & The Bachelorette Games

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Ludia Announce The Bachelor & The Bachelorette Videogames announces these reality shows are getting game adaptations. No platforms are specified, but they announce the games "will launch the videogames across multiple platforms following the conclusion of The Bachelor’s 14th season in 2010 on the ABC Television Network."

Ultima Online Free Expansion and Free Trial

Mythic Entertainment announces the launch of Mondain's Legacy, a free seventh expansion for Ultima Online, the seminal MMORPG. The expansion will automatically download for existing subscribers, and they are taking this as an opportunity to invite former subscribers back to check out the game in its current state with a 14-day evaluation program that's open to new players as well. According to Mythic Executive Producer Jeff Hickman: "Our goal is to continually provide fresh and rewarding experiences for our thriving UO community. By opening up our 7th expansion to all players, we hope to get everyone excited for the upcoming summer release of our 8th addition, Stygian Abyss." Here's word on the trial: "For players that are new to Ultima Online or for those interested in returning to the world, they can download the 14-day free trial which now features all seven expansions, including Mondain’s Legacy. Now all players can experience the Elves, new human racial abilities and new dungeons with dozens of new monsters to battle and weapons to wield."

Zeno Clash SDK Released

The Zeno Clash Wiki now offers the promised SDK files & documentation for ACE Team's fantasy-themed action/fighting game. Thanks Shacknews.

News from the BRINK

The Splash Damage interview on PC Games Hardware is a conversation with Splash Damage Technical Director Arnout van Meer to dig for details about BRINK, the upcoming action game built on id Software's Tech 4 engine. The game is being developed for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, and the conversation takes particular interest in how they will take advantage of PC hardware, discussing Virtual Texturing and other advanced rendering features, multi-core CPU support, physics simulation, Windows XP support, why they probably won't support Direct X 11, and more. BRINK is currently slated for release in Spring 2010.

Fallout 3 Patched, Q&As

Bethesda Game Studios Forums have word on a new patch that's automatically available from Games for Windows LIVE for Fallout 3 to bring the post-apocalyptic action/RPG sequel to version 1.7. We've been waiting for a manual patch to arrive, but nothing has happened on that front so far, but the good news is the update sounds pretty small, described as adding new achievements for Mothership Zeta. Thanks Bill. Also, there are interviews about the new Mothership Zeta DLC on Go! Gaming Giant and Talking about Games. Thanks No Mutants Allowed/RPGWatch.

Conquest! Medieval Realms Patch

Though still not listed on the appropriate Slitherine Strategies Downloads Page, a new patch is now available for Conquest! Medieval Realms to update this turn-based strategy game from Illustrious Software to version 1.5. The update fixes a bug impacting typing in a non-masked text box and reduces video memory usage to prevent out of video memory errors. The patch is available from AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

The Sims 2 & 3 Patches

A new version 1.3 is now automatically available for The Sims 3, the latest installment in this lifestyle simulator. A large list of fixes are included in the patch, all outlined on this page. The manual patches were tough to come by, but The Patches Scrolls found them after some detective work. Also, a patch is available for The Sims 2 to fix a problem that could prevent users from uploading custom content to The Sims Exchange. Posted on The Patches Scrolls (who discovered this one as well), this patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Blood Bowl Patch, Movie

Another new patch for Blood Bowl is now available, updating this game that combines the strategy of Warhammer with the brutality of tackle football to version 1.0.1.5. The patch is posted on Gamer's Hell and The Patches Scrolls. Also, a new "meet our champions" movie shows how the game is played Goblin style. Word is: "Showcasing their devious secret weapons and somewhat awkward techniques, they show you how a team that doesn’t seem to be made for winning may still score, win a match and, in some rare cases, make it out alive!" The clip is posted on the Blood Bowl Website and mirrored on AtomicGamer and FileFront.

IL-2 Patch Status

There's a conversation on SimHQ that talks with 1C's Oleg Maddox and Team Daidalos' Martin Kubani about the pending version 4.09 patch for IL-2 Sturmovik. They discuss the circumstances leading to Team Daidalos taking control of patch development and the new maps and aircraft the new version will include. The article includes screenshots and videos from the new version.

Alganon Beta Registration

After last night's post about Alganon beta testing, we got a clarification on how to register for the ongoing closed beta test of this fantasy-themed MMORPG in the works at Quest Online, and the subsequent open beta that begins in September. If you sign up for an account on the Alganon Website, there is an option to opt-in to the beta. You can increase your chances of being selected before the beta opens to all by posting to this forum thread.

Work at Gearbox

Gearbox Software sends along another pair of job openings at their Dallas, TX studio:
Gearbox Software is hiring! We’re looking for an Environment Artist with loads of experience (read- shipped games) as well as a Senior Level Designer. Our generous compensation/ benefits package and awesome work environment make for a FANTASTIC opportunity in Dallas, TX. If you want to work with some of the most creative minds in the industry, check out the jobs information on our website at www.gearboxsoftware.com. And be sure and send your resume/portfolio to gamejobs@gearboxsoftware.com.

Sound Blaster Audigy Drivers

Creative Worldwide Support offers new version 2.18.0011 drivers for Sound Blaster Audigy series audio cards (well, recent, they're a couple of weeks old). The drivers are for Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. The drivers come with a warning that applications from the original Sound Blaster Audigy CD will not work under these drivers on Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and they offer links to download alternatives. They also say: "DO NOT install this driver for Sound Blaster Audigy LS, Sound Blaster Audigy SE, or Sound Blaster Audigy Value." Thanks Ant.

On Game AI

Games That Design Themselves on h+ Magazine is an interesting article on varied approaches to artificial intelligence in games. One example they use is a project called The Restaurant Game, a research project at the MIT Media Lab, and the other is Façade, "a one-act interactive drama," involving a family squabble (thanks David). Both games have been around for a while, but they use each as examples of fresh thinking from an AI perspective. Here's a bit from the description of The Restaurant Game, which will credit anyone who has played a game as one of its designers:
This project attempts to address two frustrations I experienced as a professional game developer. 1) Convincing human social behavior is difficult to model with existing hand crafted AI systems. 2) Play testing by people outside of the development team typically comes too late to have a major impact on the final product. This experiment aims to generate AI behaviors that conform to the way players actually choose to interact with other characters and the environment; behaviors that are convincingly human because they capture the nuances of real human behavior and language.

Op Ed

The Escapist - The Downside of Direct Downloads.
Think about it: What if, 10 years from now, 50 percent of software sales for Microsoft's latest console come through Xbox Live? Or, in an even scarier scenario for consumers, what if there is no physical media drive at all, and everything goes through Xbox Live? Sony's marriage to the Blu-ray format ensures its continued support of game discs, but Microsoft has no such restrictions. They could cut console production costs and take control over the entire supply chain in one fell swoop.

Gamasutra - Persuasive Games: This Is Only A Drill.
There aren't many games like this, but there could be. Think of all the other things you would benefit from trying out once before having to do them in earnest: changing a diaper, threading a needle, negotiating a car purchase, hiring an escort, loading a dishwasher, carving a turkey, waxing a sports car, ironing a shirt, wrapping a gift, tasting a wine, assembling a bookshelf, staging a pick up, scolding a child, recording a television program. None of these are terribly monumental or interesting acts; indeed many are about as banal as it gets. But almost anything is challenging once.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

I had a spate of incidents with spider webs a while back that prompted me to joke I thought they were trying to eat me, but since then my encounters with webs have reverted to a more expected (as in rarer) rate. This morning I was in the backyard with the dogs when I saw the Gunnar-man stretching a web across his chest that was so thick it was visible from a few feet away (it looked like he was crossing a finish line). This web had to be a bunch of strands bunched together to be so visible, and I wish I had a camera handy to record the scene, as it looked like the web might me large enough to actually trap him. Maybe the spiders gave up on me when they set their sights on him? Probably not, huh?

World Wide Web Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Lock 'n' Roll.
Pixelvader.
Boulder Dash.
Links: Videogames That Went M.I.A.
The 15 worst-reviewed games of the past 15 years.
Top 11 Video Game Worlds You DON'T Want to Live In.
Stories: Flight grounded by coffee maker aroma. Thanks Digg.
Guinea Pig Rampage. Replacing all those dead clownfish named "Nemo."
Science: New State of Matter- Transparent Aluminum. "Keyboard. How quaint." Thanks theAntiELVIS.
Images: The coolest mutt in the East.
Media: Shatner Does Palin. Thanks Acleacius.
Giant Mousetrap Board Game.
'Heroes' season four trailer- 'Redemption'.
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