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Friday, Aug 07, 2009


DoubleBear's Zombie RPG

The Iron Tower Forums shed a little light on what's up with newly revealed developer DoubleBear Productions (thanks Jon). We're talking a zombie RPG:

Was hoping to save this for a rainy day, but it is cloudy here in Seattle today, so here we go. As the speculators have correctly guessed, yes, DoubleBear’s first game is indeed a Zombie RPG, which we have fondly referred to as a ZRPG internally. Before people start running in all kinds of directions with that, here’s what I will confirm:

-Set during the breakdown of society as emergence of zombies causes widespread panic and disorder.

-Slow, shambling zombies. Spreads like a virus/bite transmission. No, you are not a zombie, that would be stupid.

-Serious examination of a national crisis or natural disaster. Humans and a lack of order are a bigger threat than the undead. Think Hurricane Katrina, Children of Men, Dawn of the Dead NOT Resident Evil, Return of the Living Dead, zombie shooter-type games.

-Game is about survival. Scavenging resources, exploring the area, dealing with other survivors, and managing a “shelter” of sorts are the main focus of the game. More on this later.

-Game is open-ended. There are characters and events that could happen, but the story depends on where you go, what you do, and who you meet. Of course, there’s a lot more to this and we'll go into more details as time goes on.

We’ll be here often shooting down the wildest of theories and discussing our systems in more detail. Let’s start the old back and forth, shall we?

PC Shatter?

Gamasutra has an interview with Mario Wynands of Sidhe discussing Shatter (thanks IGN), in which possibility of a PC port of the blockbuster game is discussed:

Our tools and technology are very cross platform, and we have also ported PhyreEngine to the 360 which we used for GripShift XBLA. We already have working builds of Shatter on PC and XBLA but are reviewing the situation to see whether it makes sense to continue investing in those versions to bring them to completion and release them.

So far, it is looking likely we will bring the game to other platforms.

Conquest! Medieval Realms Patch

A new version 1.6 patch for Conquest! Medieval Realms is available from (direct link), though for some reason it's not listed on their downloads page. The download is mirrored on AtomicGamer, where they also have patch notes outlining the improvements and bug fixes offered by the patch.

East India Company Patches

The Paradox Interactive Forums have three new patches for East India Company to update either the English, German, or Spanish editions of this naval combat real-time strategy game to version 1.05. The new version adds some new features while fixing some bugs. These updates are also available automatically from within the game, but those who have purchased the game through Steam or Impulse are reminded their versions will be updated through those services. The patches are available on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Restaurant Empire 2 Beta Patch

A beta patch for Restaurant Empire 2 is now available to update the food services simulation to beta version 1.01. The new version addresses an issue with systems with more than two CPU cores and tests a workaround for a crash the game's shadow rendering system could cause in incompatible 3D cards. The patch is posted on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

Still More Sales

Steam offers an Indie Games Sale, with 75% off their 10 Game Pack ($29.99 instead of $119.90) or 50% off their five game pack ($19.99 instead of $59.95). Titles in the deals are Audiosurf, Blueberry Garden, Braid, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Darwinia, Everyday Shooter, Gish, Mr. Robot, The Path, and World of Goo. Death to Spies: Moment of Truth is now on Steam for 10% off until August 10. Fallout 3 on Direct2Drive is $24.95 (50% off) through Sunday. Preorder Osomos on Direct2Drive and you get a coupon so a friend can buy the indie game for $1.00. 3000AD is holding a 20%-off sale on all their games not currently in the public domain. Finally, other stories outlining current sales are here, here, and here.

Batman: Arkham Asylum Movie

A new "making the game" behind-the-scenes trailer is now available for Batman: Arkham Asylum, discussing development of the upcoming superhero action game. The movie is posted on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Not X-Wing LucasArts Retro Announcement Monday

LucasArts Tweets about a back-catalog game announcement on Monday, throwing advance water on hopes it is X-Wing. Is it possible it relates to this Twitpic from Telltale Games? Update: No, it's not TIE Fighter either. Here's word from LucasArts:

Got a back-catalog announcement on Monday. It's not X-Wing! I'm heading THAT rumor off at the pass!

Modern Warfare Map Pack Follow-up

MTV Multiplayer follows up on earlier reports that only two map packs are in the works for Modern Warfare 2, getting the skinny from Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling confirming our suspicions about the situation, saying in part:

We’ve confirmed we’ll be doing AT LEAST two map packs which were announced at E3 as a timed exclusive for Xbox 360. The fact that we confirmed at least two map packs doesn’t mean there won’t be more

Best Buy Tests New Games at Used Prices

Cheap Ass Gamer has a photo of a stand up at a local Best Buy in West Jordan, Utah that says the following: "Why buy used when you can buy new? Best Buy now price matches NEW video games at USED prices from Gamestop of Game Crazy." Joystiq has a follow-up from Best Buy confirming this is a local test that's just underway, but not a national program.

BF2 Patch Awaits "Politics"

The Electronic Arts UK Forums have a status report on the seemingly endless wait for the coming version 1.50 update for Battlefield 2. Apparently the patch is now delayed by "office politics" intriguingly described as "worth the slight extra delay." Word is once this situation is resolved "we'll be good to release it, though they add that another closed beta will precede the release of the patch.

Death to Spies Digital Release

1C Company and Aspyr Media announce that Death to Spies: Moment of Truth is now available in North America via digital download, and that the stealth action sequel will be available in North American stores with no DRM on August 18. The game is available via Aspyr's GameAgent, and they say it will also appear on other digital distribution sites, but we can't find it listed on any of them. Here's a bit about the World War II stealth sequel: "The hero possesses the skills to accomplish dangerous missions that include gathering information on the location of hostile military and civil units and assassinating enemy agents, including the Wehrmacht’s high-ranking officers. His task is to capture spies and saboteurs and gather information about their actions using unique technologies and devices." A playable demo for the game is also available.

No Brutal Legend Compensation?

The Los Angeles Times article on yesterday's settlement of the Brutal Legend lawsuits includes a note from an anonymous source who tells them the game is still going to be released in October, and that the settlement was spurred by indications that the judge was prepared to rule against Activision's attempts to block its release. This prompts the article's writer to speculate that Activision probably didn't profit from their lawsuit, saying: "it appears very likely that Activision received little to no compensation from Double Fine and agreed to a settlement to avoid losing its case in open court." Thanks Joystiq.

Hearts of Iron III Digital Release

Today is the digital release date for Hearts of Iron III, and the World War II RTS sequel is now available via GamersGate, and there's a Hearts of Iron III release trailer on the YouTube. Other versions will unlock soon, which gives a last chance to jump on a couple of preorder bonuses, as Direct2Drive is still offering free sprite packs with preorders, while advance purchase on Steam will still get you a free copy of Hearts of Iron II Complete. The game should be appearing in stores next week. If you are interested in sampling the game, a playable demo was released earlier this week. Update: The game is now also for sale on Direct2Drive, Impulse, and Steam, so your last chance at preordering is gone. All three sites also offer sales of the game's two bonus sprite packs (they are part of a bundle on Direct2Drive, but available separately on the other two sites), though these don't seem to be on GamersGate.

Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 2 August 20

The Tales of Monkey Island Website has details on the next installment in Telltale Games' episodic Monkey Island series, saying chapter two, The Siege of Spinner Cay, is expected on August 20. Apparently Telltale themselves made a typo calling this "The Siege of Spinner City" (thanks spindoctor), the correct title is found in this video, which warns it contains spoilers from Chapter One. Here's a bit:

Guybrush's adventures continue on the high seas as pox-plagued pirates lay siege to the innocent Mer-People. In between defending the Mer-People and dodging the persistent pirate hunter hot on his trail, Guybrush manages to catch up to his beloved wife and despised arch-nemesis -- but their reunion is short-lived. Now Guybrush must focus on eradicating the Pox of LeChuck before more harm can be done. And as the Mighty Pirate draws closer to a cure, the waters will only grow murkier in this thrilling chapter of the epic saga.

Batman Demo Yesterday

Since the demo for Batman: Arkham Asylum was promised for today, we'll point out the sample of the superhero game was actually released last night in case you are looking for it and missed that. We also lit the bat signal to help notify everyone, but it's a little too bright outside to see it right now.

Blood Bowl Patch

The Blood Bowl Website offers a new version patch for Blood Bowl, continuing the relentless post-release support for Cyanide's Warhammer-style tackle football game. The new version addresses some bugs and adds a new star player named Morg 'n' Thorg to all races. The patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer and The Patches Scrolls. Meanwhile, the Blood Bowl Website has a new "meet our champions" trailer highlighting the Wood Elves (calm down Beevis), which is mirrored on Gamer's Hell.

The Sims 3 Patched

A new patch is now available for The Sims 3 to update the lifestyle simulation from EA Maxis to version 1.04. The patch is a hotfix for a couple of issues, and the extensive patch notes on The Sims 3 Website are deceptive, as the first two entries are new, and the remaining notes are from previous patches. the new PC version 1.4 fixes an issue that could hinder uninstalling The Sims 3 if the 1.3 update was interrupted, and the Mac update fixes a problem that prevents players from installing custom content after the 1.3 update. If automatic updates aren't your thing, manual PC patches are available on AtomicGamer and The Patches Scrolls.

ARMA II Server

There's a new version 1.03 dedicated server for ARMA II to correspond with the new automatic or manual version 1.03 patch for Bohemia Interactive's military shooter sequel. The Windows dedicated server is available on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Two Modern Warfare Map Packs

Shacknews has a tidbit from an Activision Blizzard post-earnings conference call revealing "only" two post-release map packs are planned for Modern Warfare 2, the upcoming military shooter sequel. "We plan to launch two separate map packs for this title," is the quote they supply from Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith. We find it hard to imagine that additional map packs are out of the question if the first two are wildly successful, but this remains to be seen.


The FINAL FANTASY XIV Website offers new details from the story for the upcoming MMORPG from Square Enix as well as an introduction to the races and new disciplines that will be at the heart of this installment in the FF series. There's also more information on character progression, the game world and gameplay. FINAL FANTASY XIV is scheduled for simultaneous global release in 2010.

Blur Interviews

Ben Ward on Blur on Destructoid is an interview with Bizarre Creations about Blur, their upcoming racing game, and their attempt to change the trajectory from the usual racing game. Also, Upcoming Bizarre titles to use 'Blur' tech on Kikizo (thanks Mike Martinez) talks with Ben about plans to use the game's engine for other projects.

Runes of Magic Chapter II Details

Runewaker Entertainment offers more details and some new screenshots on the coming Chapter II update for Runes of Magic, their subscription-free MMORPG. The coming expansion, dubbed The Elven Prophecy, will add new territories, one called the Savage Land, though Ka-Zar does not seem to be involved. Here's word on the new area:

Situated northwest of the ‘Weeping Coast’ lays a bastion of elves. The peaceful atmosphere of the thick forest might be disorienting to hapless adventurers, making their way through the woods. But here, they have to face the Apeman and worst of all, the Naga, who broke through the defensive barriers in the west and started building defensive outposts to secure their supply lines.

Further away, adventurers will come across a small camp, known as The Fungus Village. Innocuous at first glance, the Fungus King and his guards will defend their lands ferociously against any intruder. Players will be able to explore the ‘Savage Lands’ during the final launch phase of the second chapter in September. With the raising of the level-cap in August, the adventure begins for all level 52 characters and above.

Op Ed

Develop - Who killed the video game star?
The caricature that is Duke Nukem will therefore live longer in the memory than Faith from Mirror’s Edge or Call of Duty’s Soap MacTavish. Or think of Naughty Dog’s output – from Sonic-rivalling Crash Bandicoot, through Jak and Daxter to Nathan Drake of Uncharted. The latter is richer in narrative than the previous titles or most other games for that matter, but could you honestly describe the hero? GTA IV’s Nico Bellic is the exception that proves the rule, personality wise, and the odd player character still manages to combine pseudo-realism with some physical uniqueness – Gears of War’s Marcus Fenix is nothing if not a bland cliché, yet physically he can be recognised from a silhouette.

Trembling Hand- Why Does it Need to be Massive?
Consider a game with a 'massive' lobby where you do your shopping, train up your character and find your team - or even survey the strategic map. Then you launch in to a 'tiny' instanced encounter that caters to your current fancy. It could be a PvE mission, a PvP battlefield or an RvR engagement etc. Such a game wouldn't be lumbered with the hosting burdens of a 'massive' game, and it could better tailor content - and difficulty - to the teams as they enter the world. It could even include more randomised content, so you don't get situations where you know precisely where the mission objective is or the spawn points are. Kind of like Left4Dead. Furthermore, it could more easily cater for the large proportion of solo players by scaling to their needs. I call it an MTMO (Massively Tiny Multiplayer Online).

GameTopius - An “Odyssey” Game.
In short, science fiction bends and stretches reality, yet its core presence in video-games is nearly infinitesimal. I find that extremely interesting, considering what videogames represent to the subculture at large. Plenty of scientists gave rise to and contributed immensely to what we now (rather dismissively) categorize as science fiction, be it literature or movies. With the amount of work that’s put into making videogames these days, I’d be more pressed to say that it’s a games development process that's escapism (I still categorize my time with any title as 'Experiencism').

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation


Legal Briefs

Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

The electrician found the gable fan to be more-or-less dead, but a couple of guys are going to have to come back and install a new one from the roof-side, so it's just as well that I'm not trying to deal with it myself. Unfortunately, this means that this isn't fixed yet, and the hot weather persists, but what can you do? Meanwhile while the electrician was here the dogs were in the yard, and at one point the Gunnar-man started howling wildly. I right away could tell what happened from the separation anxiety in his voice: Hudson the wonder dog had left the yard, and by the time I got to the scene, Gunnar had taken off after her. Much to my relief, they both came back quickly after I started calling them, but they were already across the street and around the block, so we feel very lucky that no tragedy came of all this. And now I have a gate latch to fix, as I that's how they escaped in the first place. At least I know I won't need an electrician for that.

Repaired Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Gravitee 2. Thanks Jay is Games.
More Zombies.
Pixel Grower. Thanks Jay is Games.
Links: The Top 10 Most Disturbing Video Game Bosses.
If Sarcasm Ruled the World.
Stories: 'Bourne Identity' director Doug Liman plays hero on the Hudson. Thanks Digg.
Bridge rises in shadow of Hoover Dam.
Science: Researchers force bacteria to evolve for life in a fuel cell.
Auctions: Sarah Palin Signed Autograph XBOX 360. Thanks Joystiq.
Images: Hand-built Portal Weighted Companion Cube. Thanks Digg.
Media: John Hughes Montage. Thanks Acleacius.
Physics of Starship Battles: lasers and kinetic energy.
James Bond is all for women rights.

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