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Monday, Sep 28, 2009


Stardock/UPS Follow-up

Stardock's Brad Wardell sent a follow-up to our earlier post about Stardock possibly boycotting UPS. He clarifies the originations of this story and his true feelings about the topic in the following statement:

The article in question is a recap of a recap of a private comment on Facebook. It had nothing to do with Glenn Beck. I don’t watch his show. Don’t care about his show. I was annoyed to see UPS playing politics with its ad dollars by boycotting entire networks and told the shipping guys to pick the FedEx box instead of the UPS box. Bam. Whole story. :)

Tactical Intervention Revealed [Updated]

There's a Tactical Intervention Preview on IGN revealing the next project from Minh "Gooseman" Le, co-creator of the original Counter-Strike. The article fills us in on Gooseman's recent history, including his time with Valve working on Counter-Strike 2, which ultimately did not work out, him living in his parent's basement for a while to reduce overhead as he worked on his next game, and the South Korean investor who helped push the project into high gear. They also profile Tactical Intervention, his new game, describing a shooter that shares some gameplay elements (and a graphics engine) with the original Counter-Strike, as well as the elements that address some of the problems with CS, specifically described as "snipers, camping, and waiting." As for Minh, he says: "It's very much a what have you done for me lately attitude now," he says. "And I haven't done anything for a while." This will change soon, as Tactical Intervention will soon enter beta, and is said to be "likely to be released by the end of this year." Update: It's been pointed out that while the article says "On the surface the new game very much resembles Counter-Strike in appearance; both games run off the same engine so the graphics haven't progressed much," the screenshots look like they use the Source engine, which is the engine for Counter-Strike: Source, not the original Counter-Strike.

Lucidity Trailer, Price

A new trailer is now available for Lucidity, LucasArts' recently unveiled PC and XBLA puzzle/platformer. The clip offers a look at gameplay and offers indications that the game takes place within a dream, not unlike Newhart. Meanwhile, a new post on the Lucas Workshop sets the price point for the game, saying the PC download will be $9.99 via Steam and Direct2Drive, while the Xbox 360 edition will be 800 MS points, which translates to $10.00 USD.

Stardock Boycotting UPS? [Updated]

Stardock boss Brad Wardell has updated his Facebook page with his objection to UPS pulling its advertising from FOX in objection to some of the comments by conservative host Glenn Beck (calling President Obama a "racist" in particular). Apparently Wardell is a fairly staunch conservative as well, which prompts him to say that Stardock does "a non-trivial amount of shipping with UPS" and that if they did not reverse their position on this, he would take this business to FedEx. Boycotts are somewhat common, but this is the first time we can recall the treat of a company being boycotted over their own boycott. Thanks GamePolitics via The Angry Bear. Update: Brad Wardell sent a statement about this story clarifying his position.

The Music of Dragon Age: Origins

A new trailer from Dragon Age: Origins introduces the music from BioWare's upcoming RPG, getting thoughts on the topic from Simon Pressey, audio director on the project, and Inon Zur, composer of its soundtrack. They discuss the epic nature of the music and the game, the vast amount of material composed for the project, and the participation of the Seattle Northwest Symphonia performing the score. They also get thoughts from vocalist Aubrey Ashburn, who gets high praise from Inon for her collaborative efforts at making his work even better. The clip can be found on ActionTrip, FileFront, GameTrailers, and GameVideos.

On Sale

Direct2Drive's 5 Year Anniversary page lists other games still on sale, and has details on their anniversary giveaway. Also, once again, SalesCircular (thanks Ant) has newspaper sales circulars from the 48 contiguous US states.

Impulse Top 10

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising Trailer

THQ now offers a trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising, the recently announced expansion for Relic's futuristic RTS sequel. The clip is a cinematic teaser to the events in the expansion, with no real gameplay on display. Thanks Hellburger.

Risen Trailers

Two new teaser trailers from Risen are available, setting the stage for this Friday's launch of Piranha Bytes' fantasy-themed RPG. There's an intro teaser on FileFront, GameVideos, GameTrailers, and IncGamers and there's also a cinematic teaser on FileFront and GameTrailers. The clips are accompanied by a new blurb about the game, so here's something to read while the movies load: "This epic role playing game is set in a medieval world on a volcanic Mediterranean island, The "Risen" story unfolds over four chapters and will offer multiple ways to develop the story by his own actions and decisions. An innovative and intuitive user control interface will support both casual and hardcore gamers. With full world streaming support, the player will have a seamless experience while playing in a fully simulated game world with authentic characters."

Shattered Horizon Beta Invite

Futuremark Games Studio announces a last chance to get in on the beta testing of Shattered Horizon, the upcoming zero-G first-person shooter that is their debut game. Word is qualified applicants who sign up over the coming week will participate in the final week of beta testing:

HELSINKI, FINLAND – SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 – Futuremark® Games Studio today announced that they are giving gamers one last chance to join the closed beta for Shattered Horizon™, their multiplayer first-person shooter played in zero gravity. PC gamers who register before Monday 5th October will be invited to play in the final week of beta. Sign up now at the official website.

Shattered Horizon sees players fight in the aftermath of a catastrophic Moon mining accident that throws billions of tons of rocky debris into near-Earth space. In zero gravity players have complete freedom of movement and can use new combat tactics that cannot be found in other games.

The beta is open to PC gamers from North America and Europe aged 18 and over. The minimum hardware requirements are Windows Vista or Windows 7, DirectX 10 graphics card, dual core processor, Steam account and a broadband Internet connection.

Love Alpha

Quel Solaar now offers downloads of an alpha client for Love, the upcoming artsy-fartsy MMOG being created by a one-man development team (thanks Massively). This is not to actually login and play the game, but rather to iron out compatibility issues with the graphics extensions the game utilizes, and there are subsequent updates outlining the hardware that's proving troublesome to save you some time if that applies to you. Word is:

My silence should not be mistaken for inaction, in fact the opposite is true. Today I start the first stage of the open Alpha for Love. At this stage you wont be able to log in and play but you will be able to see the engine run on your machine, giving you an idea of how well your machine will handle the game. This will let me work out any compatibility issues. The client will contact my master server and send the name of your graphics card and if its supports the three OpenGL extensions I use (FBO, VBOs and GLSL), no other user data, ip addresses, or anything else is collected. This data will also let me count you in order to estimate how many servers I will need.

World of Warcraft Patched

A new version of World of Warcraft is now available, updating the recently version 3.2.2 to version 3.2.2a, heading off a possible future number shortage by going the letter route. The WoW Patch Notes outline the changes in what Blizzard describes as a "minor" patch that addresses a handful of bugs in the MMORPG. The US/Aus patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and The Patches Scrolls; and various other localized patches are mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and The Patches Scrolls.

Who Owns Planescape: Torment?

This Direct2Drive Tweet may vex folks hoping that Planescape: Torment will be re-released in the current reissue-happy environment where older classics get new life via digital distributions. Word is: "@Daggity hah, would love to re-release Plancescape [sic]...if we could find someone who actually owns the rights! Sad." This highly regarded role-playing game was released in 1999, and developer Black Isle Studios closed in 2003, but publisher Interplay is still in operation, albeit tenuously, fighting to maintain control of rights to a Fallout MMOG. Presumably Interplay would have control of these rights, or would know where they currently reside, but one would also assume that Interplay would have been the first place the D2D folks would have inquired about this.

UO Return to Britannia Campaign

EA and Ultima Online Announce “Return to Britannia” Campaign in Honor of 12th Anniversary Celebration, as Ultima Online first launched on September 25, 1997. They celebrate the first dozen years of operation by the fantasy-themed MMORPG by offering former players the chance to play the game in its current form for free between now and October 16. For everyone else, there's also a 14-Day Free Trial for the game. Here's word on Return to Britannia:

Closed accounts in good standing have been re-activated, and former players can log back into the game using their original user name and passwords.

New content available to returning players through the Return to Britannia Campaign includes Mondain’s Legacy, the 7th UO expansion which introduced the playable Elven race and dangerous, new dungeons to explore. Mondain’s Legacy was made available at no charge in August 2009 to existing subscribers and to new players as part of the Ultima Online 14-day free trial.

“We’re hoping that, as part of the Return to Britannia Campaign, former players will once again rediscover the joys of Ultima Online,” said Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer for Mythic Entertainment. “UO was the first love of many MMORPG players, and it still holds a special place in their hearts after 12 glorious years. I think returning players will be pleasantly surprised to find a thriving and vibrant community from around the world ready to welcome back their former compatriots and include them in their ongoing adventures.”

Borderlands on Steam & Preorder Strangeness

Gearbox's Mikey Neumann tweets: "Today is OFFICIAL BORDERLANDS PRE ORDER DAY. Twitter me a screen of you buying the game and I'll play BLs with you and give you loot." This was posted by Kotaku, at which point it seems they, as they put it, may have called a bluff, but he subsequently tweeted that he seems to be following through on this, saying: "To everyone flooding in from Kotaku. I'm writing down XBL's PSN's and whatnot for when the game comes out." Finally, he also tweets about an "official Steam announcement," which is actually an unofficial Destructoid article saying the game will be released via Steam, also getting word from Gearbox's Steve Gibson that the PC edition of Borderlands will include the ability to export jpgs of your weapons, will have full mouse support for menus, and the best graphics out of the game's target systems.

Alpha Protocol Delay?

GameStop and now list a June 2010 release date for Alpha Protocol, indicating a delay to SEGA's upcoming espionage-themed RPG. This was reported Friday by Kotaku, and we thought an official statement would follow soon enough, but it has not, so there you have it, unconfirmed suggestions that Alpha Protocol will not hit its previously planned release date, which is only eight days hence.

New Battlegrounds 2 Source Mod

The Battle Grounds Website has the release of a new version 1.5a of the Battlegrounds 2 modification for the Source engine. The new version celebrates the eight anniversary of the release of the first Battlegrounds modification for the original Half-Life. The new version adds iron sights, a CTF mode, King of the Hill settings, and more. Thanks Ant via Half-Life Fallout.

Op Ed

Offworld - The Far Reaches of Edutainment. Thanks Slashdot.
But I don't suppose that was the only reason. Games don't necessarily have to be fun to be engaging. Indeed "fun" seems like a trite expression in the face of some contemporary projects: games can provoke more than simple enjoyment. Look at the terrifying crypts of Stalker, or the strange sadness of Shadow of the Colossus. To realise that games ride on more than fun only takes a quick glance at the bigger picture.

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Out of the Blue

Today is Yom Kippur, but my understanding is this the highest holiday on the Jewish calendar, but also a very solemn one, so wishing a happy one is inappropriate, so here's to an appropriately somber Yom Kippur to those who are observing the day.

R.I.P.: US columnist William Safire dies.

Somber Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Soldier.
Stinger Mission.
Links: Top 10: Video Game Remakes.
7 Dogs That Accomplished More Than We Ever Will.
LEGO House Gets Destroyed—You Can Cry Now.
Science: Burst of technology helps blind to see. Thanks j.c.f.
Traumatic head injury? Weird Science prescribes vodka.
Media: Homemade -Big Daddy- Costume with Working Drill.
The Technology That Will Change Cinema FOREVER. NSFW.
Spider attacks the Pope.

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