Archived News:

Friday, Aug 21, 2009

New Battle.Net Details

A new Battle.Net FAQ on the Blizzard Website offers images of the new version of Blizzard's network interface-cum-marketplace. There are details on how this will impact various games, including how WoW players will eventually be forced to migrate, confirmation the service remains free, and word the marketplace will offer (presumably paid) content. Here's a bit:
What will be available to players in the StarCraft II Marketplace?
After the launch of StarCraft II, we aim to add the StarCraft II Marketplace to Battle.net, which will create a vibrant ecosystem of user-generated content, including multiplayer maps, single-player scenarios, challenges, themes, and more.

How will Battle.net affect my multiplayer StarCraft II experience?
We’ll be implementing a new auto-matchmaking system, with advanced skill tracking to allow players to be matched with other players of similar skill level. This will help players consistently face evenly matched competition. We’ll also be implementing various leagues and ladder systems to allow a more competitive StarCraft II landscape.

What is the Real ID feature?
Real ID is at the forefront of online gaming as it will allow you to easily connect, communicate, and play with real-life friends. Connect with old friends and current guildies, and make new friends with the integrated Battle.net social networking tools. Beyond simply seeing your friend’s character names (e.g. “Gorlac” in World of Warcraft or “Snip3r” in StarCraft II), and having to remember which character name goes with which friend, you will be able to see your Real ID friend and chat with him or her across Blizzard games. What’s more, Real ID is totally optional -- the options are there for you to build your Blizzard Entertainment social network however you see fit.

What are some of the communication tools available in the new Battle.net?
Our vision is for the new Battle.net to become the ultimate Blizzard Entertainment social network, in addition to its matchmaking foundation. Simply logging in to Battle.net will make it easy to find and chat with your friends across World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and future Blizzard Entertainment titles, including Diablo III. Keep track of all your buddies in your friends list, view their online status and presence information, voice chat, send out party invites, and broadcast messages to your friends. Detailed character profiles let players keep up to date on friends’ progress and achievements.

Scott Miller: 3D Realms' "Future is Fine"

'20 Years Of Evolution - Scott Miller And 3D Realms' on Gamasutra chats with the Apogee/3D Realms cofounder about the recently formed Radar Group, his history in the gaming industry, 3D Realms, and more. Scott overcomes his reluctance to discuss his pivotal role in the shareware revolution, as well as other old school topics like BBSes, the early days working with id, and more. Scott also confirms that the whole Duke Nukem Forever team has been laid off, but that he cannot discuss the status of the game because of pending legal actions. As for the future:
Our future is fine. We have, I think at last count, 11 or 12 projects in the works. One of them is coming out next week. Another one is coming out in about six weeks. Both of those are on the iPhone. We have some major games in production still. So we're fine. That's not an issue at all.

Ships Ahoy - Raven Squad

SouthPeak announces Raven Squad is now available at retail for Windows and Xbox 360. The announcement is accompanied by some new screenshots, and here's a bit on how the game combines the first-person shooter with a real-time strategy game:
Raven Squad puts players in the boots of two groups of mercenaries as their plane is shot down over the Amazonian jungle. Caught in the midst of a civil war in Brazil, it’s up to these gods-among-men to fight their way out of this hostile environment as they drop bombs, one-liners, and a smattering of politically incorrect and geographically challenged statements faster than you can say “get to da choppa.” Players have complete control over their gaming experience, whether in RTS mode, FPS mode or a mixture of both, switching on the fly. Not only that, but the fully cooperative story mode offers gamers the chance to play the entire game with a friend or loved one online or locally via system link. Tear your way through 12 awesome levels of intense hot jungle action as you revel in the team’s witty banter and highly explosive tendencies.

Stargate Worlds Gains Funding

MMORPG.com reports that Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment has secured funding thought to be desperately needed to continue development of Stargate Worlds, their MMORPG based on the sci-fi universe of Stargate. They have word from Cheyenne's Shane Hensley, "Things are actually very good here right now. We received some funding commitments that will provide financing over time and allow us to move forward with development and start catching up on our past due financial obligations, including some back payroll that we paid last week."

TF2 Bullet Spread Changes

There's an automatic Team Fortress 2/Day of Defeat: Source Update that has fixes for the Orange Box Engine and Team Fortress 2 that also adds the following changes to the bullet spread algorithm (BSA) in the teamplay shooter:
    • Bullet spread algorithm changed to fire a bullet right down the crosshair under these circumstances:

        • The first bullet of a spread weapon (except for rapid fire spread weapons like the minigun)

        • The first bullet of a non-spread weapon if it's been >1.25 seconds since firing

Left 4 Dead Patched

Steam offers a new automatic update for Left 4 Dead closing an exploit in the multiplayer zombie shooter and fixing some bugs. Also: "Novint Falcon support is now enabled by default."

The Uwe Boll Totally Awesome Videogames Filmmaking Competition

G4's Attack of the Show Website has full rules and details on The Uwe Boll Totally Awesome Videogames Filmmaking Competition, though the name pretty much sums it up. Do you think you can make better movies than Uwe Boll? Of course you do, so here's word on your chance to do it:
Got a great idea for a video game movie, but playing video games has ruined your attention span and you can't concentrate long enough to make it? “Attack of the Show” wants you to send in a movie trailer inspired by your favorite video game(s) to our G4 Panel, for The Uwe Boll Totally Awesome Videogames Filmmaking Competition, where we will find the best entries based on creativity and technical execution.

The top two finalists will be hand-picked by “AOTS” hosts, Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn, and the two teams will be flown to Fantastic Fest film festival in Austin, Texas (www.fantasticfest.com), where the best trailer will be chosen and announced by the amazing Dr. Uwe Boll himself!

Evening Previews

Into the Black (For Reals)

Our power came back after a few hours. Yay!
Link of the Day: 'Dollhouse' season two poster.

New 38 Studios CEO

38 Studios Appoints Jennifer MacLean as CEO announces a new boss at the MMOG developer launched by former Major League pitcher Curt Schilling, as they have promoted this former senior VP CEO. As for former CEO Brett Close, they simply say this move comes on his "departure," with Schilling adding comments about Close's leadership. Gamasutra contacted 38 Studios for more details, but were simply told Close left "to pursue other opportunities."

WoW Cataclysm Videos

Three new videos are available for the just-announced World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion. There's the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Debut Trailer on GameTrailers.com, a Lost Isles Walkthrough Video on GameVideos, and a Gilneas Walkthrough Video from GameVideos.

On Sale

For completeness, this list includes items mentioned in this week's previous on sale story:

Dragon Age: Origins Trailer

There's a Dragon Age: Origins City of Haven Trailer on GameVideos introducing one of the cities in BioWare's upcoming action/RPG. We also have some screenshots of Haven, and here's the description of this location: "Some years ago, a lone traveler paid a visit to a tavern in Denerim, and after imbibing a great quantity of ale related a tale of his travels to the tavern-keeper. The traveler claimed to have stumbled upon a strange village high in the Frostback Mountains. The village was peaceful, he said, and the villagers polite, if a little aloof. They fed him and watered his horse, and then urged him to be on his way. When he lingered too long, suddenly their mood changed. Their faces grew cold and knives appeared, and the traveler was told that what was to happen next “was done in Andraste’s name and for the good of all.” He fled in a panic and could not afterwards retrace his path. The traveler took a room at the tavern and yet never slept there. He disappeared that night and was not heard from again."

Into the Black?

The storm has caused a blackout here, and I am on a dwindling battery, so it's possible this will be the final update for the day if the blackout persists.

Blizzard Release Plans, SC2 Beta This Year

The BlizzCon broadcast outlines Blizzard's tentative release plans for their upcoming projects. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime says StarCraft II and the just-announced World of Warcraft: Cataclysm are the two titles Blizzard plans to release next year, so presumably we should not expect the release of Diablo III next year. Also, in spite of the recently announced delay until 2010 for StarCraft II, Morhaime still says they expect the game's beta test to begin this year: "I'm confident the beta will start this year," Morhaime tells host Geoff Keighley. "We don't have a date yet, but that is a focus--we're working on getting the beta ready." Thanks Shacknews.

Slight Fallen Earth Delay

The Fallen Earth Forums announce a minor delay to the launch of Fallen Earth, the MMORPG under construction at FALLEN EARTH, LLC. The game was planned for a September 9 release, but this has been pushed back all of six says, as word is: "The Fallen Earth team has decided to move the launch date for the upcoming post-apocalyptic MMO to September 15, 2009, to continue work on server and client optimizations as well as graphic improvements."

WoW Cataclysm Announced

Blizzard officially announces the Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft, confirming the title uncovered by a trademark filing at the beginning of July. The World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Page has artwork, screenshots, and details. Here's the feature list from the announcement press release:

  • Two New Playable Races: Adventure as the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
  • Increased Level Cap: Advance to level 85 and earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to customize characters.
  • Classic Zones Remade: Quest to level 60 as you never have before. Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been reforged by the cataclysm and updated with new quests and content.
  • Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms from a whole new perspective.
  • Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements.
  • New High-Level Content: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great sunken city of Vashj'ir beneath the sea, and enjoy even more high-level raid content than in previous expansions.
  • New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
  • Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
  • New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.

Fourth Diablo III Class the Monk [Updated]

The fourth playable class in Diablo III may indeed be the Monk reports Diii.net in news sure to bring joy to Tony Shalhoub fans. They have an image found on the Korean Blizzard website that appears to add the Monk to the previously revealed Barbarian, Witch Doctor, and Wizard classes. Update: Opening Ceremony Live Blog on WoW.com confirms this. Here's a bit: "Lots of melee, very fast. There's that shielding spell again. Another spell that has the Monk warping from enemy to enemy in a blur. Touch an enemy and it explodes in blood and gore. He does carry some mace/staff thing, so it's not all hand-to-hand like an old-school Monk."

More Final Fantasy XIV Clips

Final Fantasy XIV Online Gameplay Part I and Part II on GameTrailers.com offer another pair of clips shot off a monitor showing off one of Square Enix's upcoming FF MMOGs. The gameplay clips feature a pretty steady ShakyCam, but the accompanying narration is in German, except for the switching between characters for some reason. The clips are mostly characters running around, the latter part of the second clip features combat against something like baby dragons or vampire moths.

Avatar: The Game Trailer

The GamesCom debut trailer for James Cameron's Avatar: The Game is now available on GameTrailers.com, showing Ubisoft's upcoming game tie-in with the Avatar motion picture. The clip offers fairly stunning imagery, all the more impressive as it's said to be all in-game footage. As already mentioned, the trailer for the movie itself is online, as are some screenshots from the game. Both the game and the movie are due this coming December.

Crysis Wars Trial Next Week

The promised free summer trial for Crysis Wars gets underway a week (and two hours) from now, offering a chance to check out Crytek's multiplayer shooter gratis. MyCrysis offers links to download the trial client and an explanation of how things will work. Also, the Crysis Wars Free Trial week FAQ is available if you still have questions.

John Carmack on PhysX

There is a video on the YouTube highlighting comments John Carmack made during a Q&A session at QuakeCon 2009 where he was asked about hardware-based physics solutions such as PhysX, now owned by NVIDIA (thanks game\phys). The id Software technical director was already on record as being against dedicated physics processing units, but in his answer he elaborates. Here is our hand-crafted transcript:
Okay, hardware physics. I think I was fairly public about my thinking that that was a really bad idea, and in fact it was pretty clear to me from early on that the whole idea for that was to do a startup to be acquired.

I didn't feel it was actually... I actually had a really quite negative opinion about stuff like that because they went out, they evangelized, they got some people to buy a piece of hardware that I didn't think was actually a good technical direction for things on there; certainly was going to be supplanted by later generations of more integrated compute resources on there. I don't think it was a good idea, I certainly wasn't a backer of the company, and I hope NVIDIA didn't pay a whole lot of money for them.

English Futebol Plans

gamigo announces plans to release English and German versions of Futebol by the end of the year, offering other territories access to the MMO academy football/soccer game first launched in Brazil. They also say French, Spanish, Turkish, and Polish language versions will follow in 2010. They have a video of the game in action, and here's a bit: "This realistic football simulation offers players exciting 11-a-side matches combined with action-packed gameplay. The intuitive controls are a snap for beginners while providing the finesse demanded by our more advanced gamers – they can even queue commands up to 4 seconds in advance, entirely eliminating latency issues. Players earn experience points not just by scoring goals, but by their overall performance in the match – players at all levels and in all positions will have a great time!"

Section 8 Diary Trailer

A new Section 8 video diary on GameTrailers.com outlines how the dynamic combat missions in TimeGate Studios' upcoming shooter will work. The clip features developer descriptions of these missions, accompanied by gameplay footage, while later portions of the trailer describe the role of deployables on the game's futuristic battlegrounds.

Mount & Blade: Warband Trailer

The GamesCom video from Mount & Blade: Warband offers a look at the upcoming expansion for this expansion for Paradox Interactive's hack-and-slash RPG. The simple description of the clip is: "Ride into battle with pride in the new trailer that gives a preview of the adventure to discover in Calradia." The trailer is posted on the YouTube.

C&C4 Subtitle: Tiberian Twilight

A video on the YouTube offers the promised reveal of the new subtitle for Command & Conquer 4 as Tiberian Twilight. So there you have it, the next installment in the long-running RTS series will be Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight. Thanks Ant and CNCNZ.com Forums.

Diablo III Impressions

There's A Quick Diablo III Recap before Blizzcon on OS X Reality recalling what we've heard about Blizzard's action/RPG sequel. There's also a Blizzard Offices Diablo III Demo Report on Diii.net ahead of this weekend's BlizzCon. They offer extensive hands-on impressions of the game, and share indications that the game's fourth playable character probably will not be revealed at BlizzCon as many have anticipated. They describe how several game functions have evolved since Diablo II, including the inventory, quests, skills, skill trees, the lack of mana orbs, and more.

Another Gothic III Community Patch Planned

World of Players announces a version 1.73 community patch for Gothic III is in the works, in spite of indications that the last patch would conclude this unofficial support in for the RPG sequel. They outline the fixes and changes planned for the patch, which they expect to release next month. Thanks RPGWatch and LittleMe.

Guild Wars Sequel Won't Stop Original

ArenaNet offers a reassurance that the launch of Guild Wars 2 will not put an end to the original version of their online RPG, as Guild Wars servers will not be going away:
We won't shut down the GW1 servers when GW2 comes out. We will continue to support GW1

Jekyll & Hyde Announced

bitComposer announces Jekyll & Hyde, an upcoming action/adventure game based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson's seminal 19th century novella (not to be confused with the 2001 game by French developer In Utero). Four Jekyll & Hyde screenshots show a bit from the game, which is planned for release in the third-quarter of next year, and here's a bit from the announcement: "In addition to classic adventure gameplay, Jekyll & Hyde will also have action- and skill-based elements. Alternating between the two protagonists, players will have to utilize each character’s attributes to solve the thrilling riddles, puzzles, and action-oriented challenges. An adaptive camera adjusts to the players’ situation, changing to allow for easier control during platforming portions. Players will also have access to a mobile chemistry lab to create the transformation potion at any time. The lab will prove to be vital to solving puzzles."

Iranian Games Look West

An article on BBC News describes the Iranian presence at the GamesCom in Germany, where representatives from a trade group called the Iran National Foundation of Computer Games are hosting a dedicated stand. They are exploring the possibility of getting western investments in their game development scene and getting western retailers to stock their games, with representative Amir Tarbyatjoui saying US sanctions against Iran "do affect our industry, but they cannot stop it." They quote Bahram Borgheai of Ras Games about Iranian game development and political controversies:
Mr Borgheai said that while most Western developers used Greek, Norse, or Roman mythology to base their games on, Iran had its own unique mythology that has rarely been used in video games.

"What we have is something quite unique and we are using the event in Cologne to show that to the world."

Video-game development in Iran attracted global media attention in 2007 with the release of Special Operation 85: Hostage Rescue. The game saw two Iranian nuclear scientists kidnapped by Israel with players in the role of Iranian special forces sent to rescue them, while battling Israeli and American forces.

However Mr Borgheai said he doubted if it was a real game in its own right.

"We never heard about it in Iran," he said. "It certainly wasn't released there and the first I heard about it was through the international media," he said.

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

For the last couple of years this time of year has gotten pretty hectic with trade show news. For a while there I was thinking the re-biggened E3 meant this effect would be diminished, but it seems as crazy as ever. Okay, we can deal. Hope everyone attending BlizzCon 2009 starting today enjoys themselves.

Busy Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Viva Caligula.
Asteroids Deluxe.
Links: If The Internet Named Movies.
The Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design. Thanks Boing Boing.
15 Awesome Star Wars Demotivational Pictures.
Images: Now you're thinking with portals. Thanks Digg.
Can’t talk now.
Norton AntiVirus Professional Starring Edward Norton.
Media: The 20 Best Public Service Announcements of the Last 30 Years. Thanks Digg.
Squirrelsuit at 120+ mph. Thanks Cutter.
Funniest FedEx Commercial.
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