Archived News:

Thursday, Oct 01, 2009

3000AD MMOG Tease

Galactic Command Online is a new website from 3000AD teasing mysterious plans for an upcoming MMOG from the independent developer. The page says "10-15-09", the date when more will be revealed, and in the meantime, the only content is the following tease/threat:

Star Wars: The Old Republic Microtransactions? has a clue that Star Wars: The Old Republic may use microtransactions when the MMORPG goes live, based on some information picked up in the Terms of Service for the recently announced testing program for the game. They offer a screenshot showing the terms in question, with are as follows:
(H) You acknowledge and agree that all points acquired during the Game program are non-refundable and have no monetary value.

(I) You acknowledge and agree that all items acquired for points during the Game Program are non-refundable and non-tradable.

(J) You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to add or remove points from your account at any time and without warning.

(K) You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to change/add/remove points rewarded in the Game store at any time and without warning.

Namco Bandai Online

Siliconera reports the formation of Namco Bandai Online, a subsidiary of Namco Bandai specifically focused on online PC games. There are no specifics for now, except this: "In addition to developing games for Japan, Namco Bandai Online aims to target Asia and overseas markets." Thanks Mike Martinez via Joystiq.

Aion Launch Q&A, Patch

The Complexities Of Launching Aion on Gamasutra talks with Brian Knox of NCsoft Seattle, asking the producer on the western version of Aion about its launch. They discuss the global nature of the game, the departure from other MMOG's Aion represents, what represents "western" gameplay, localization, the game's emphasis on storytelling, and much more. Also, Massively reports a new patch is live in Aion that prevents players from whispering until they reach level 5. This is a temporary measure to thwart gold farmers until a more permanent solution is devised.

On Sale

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Aliens-Style Power Loader Will Have You Battling Xenomorphs in No Time. Thanks Neutronbeam. "Get away from her, you BITCH!"

R.I.P.: Pangya art director SeeD dies of illness.

Sacred 2: Ice & Blood Trailer

A new Sacred 2: Ice & Blood trailer is now available for download from the Sacred 2 Forums and for your streaming pleasure on the YouTube, introducing the Draconicon, a special mount for the new Dragon Mage character in the upcoming expansion for the RPG sequel. Here's how the Draconicon is described: "At first glance only, this mystical creature is reminiscent of a horse. The Draconicon receives its legendary strength from the dragon blood, which flows in the veins of this hybrid being. Just a few dare to approach a wild Draconicon. Yet once it has been subdued and submitted itself to its master, it is one of the most powerful mounts in Ancaria." Thanks The Patches Scrolls.

Audiosurf Patched, New Site, On Sale

Steam News announces the availability of an automatic update for Audiosurf, the music game that is on sale for half-off all this weekend. The new version has balance changes, bug fixes, and expanded ride statistics, which tie in with the launch of a new Audiosurf Statistics Website where you can compare your results with the world at large. Here's the deal on the stats site: "Shout your achievements, thrones and accomplishments from the rooftops with the new community stats website--and, of course, cheer on your friends as they try hopelessly to beat you. And you'll have even more to shout about given our recent tweaks to some of your most beloved characters (Eraser, Double Vision, Vegas) to make things even more competitive."

Diablo II Patch Delayed Further

That Diablo II version 1.13 patch first mentioned back in March and said to be hitting the test real "soon" about a month ago has suffered another setback (thanks Ant via Planet Diablo). The post announcing the patch in March now sports its fourth update, explaining the latest problem:
The Diablo II 1.13 patch is on temporary hold while we investigate potential impact on the service. As we moved closer to launching the patch concerns grew that an increase in the player stash size (a feature in the patch) could compromise the Diablo II service. The hardware and configuration could potentially not handle the increased stash size gracefully under heavy load. Currently we’re investigating potential impact as it is one of the larger content features in the patch and we’re hoping it can remain a part of the release. If it does have to be removed it will require additional time to remove it, generate new patches, and test, which will add time before we can go live on the PTR.

We’re hoping to have our diagnostics and a final decision on how we’ll be moving forward decided by early next week and we’ll have an update for you at that time.

Kristin Bell Returns for Assassin's Creed II

Gamers swoon, Kristin Bell returns in Assassin's Creed II on Destructoid reports the Veronica Mars actress is reprising her role as Lucy Stillman from the first Assassin's Creed, offering photos of her recording voice-overs as corroboration (perhaps they are for that swooning, since you won't be able to ogle her in the game). "As an actress, it's both challenging and rewarding to play a complex character with this great mysterious background," they quote her as saying. "I'm very happy to be Lucy once more, and I look forward to fans discovering more about her - they will be pleasantly surprised." Also, there's a new Assassin's Creed II TGS walkthrough trailer on the YouTube.

The Incredible Machine Series Bought, Reissued

PushButton Labs announces they have acquired The Incredible Machine; both the series of puzzle games, as well as the intellectual property itself. PushButton Labs was co-founded by Jeff Tunnell and Rick Overman, veterans of Dynamix and GarageGames, and this acquisition of The Incredible Machine represents a bit of a homecoming for the series, as Jeff Tunnell was a co-designer on the original game (Wikipedia lists him as its producer). With the IP in hand, it seems likely new games in the series will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, they have bundled up almost every game in the series for release on in a DRM-free bundle called The Incredible Machine Mega Pack for $9.99. Here's an outline of the contents of the compilation: "Pack includes almost every game from series: The Even More Incredible Machine (includes The Incredible Machine with new puzzles), The Incredible Machine 3 (Windows compatibly The Incredible Machine 2 with new interface and enhanced graphics), Return of the Incredible Machine Contraptions and The Incredible Machine - Even More Contraptions."

Hello Games Formed

UK developer Hello Games says "hello world" with their upcoming debut title Joe Danger, a stuntman game slated for release via digital distribution. Hello games was co-founded by Sean Murray, formerly of EA and Criterion, who has teamed up with three friends who are veterans of Kuju, Climax, and Sumo Digital. Gamasutra interviews Murray about this situation, learning reasons for the formation of the new indie studio, lessons learned working at larger companies, advantages of smaller teams, and a bit about their Evil Knievel-inspired debut project.

Zattikka Formed

Develop has first details on Zattikka, a new online and mobile game developer formed by venture capital group Atomico Ventures, which was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, who played rolls in the formation of Skype, Joost, Joltid, and Kazaa. There's not much in the way of details about their plans, except this: "Zattikka is focusing its talents on developing games for the iPhone, social networking sites, and online browsers. The firm, only last month, had announced the purchase of popular flash game site Gimme5games."

Transmission Games Layoffs?

Gamasutra reports Melbourne-based independent developer Transmission Games has laid-off over 20 of its staff, attributing the information to "multiple reliable sources." The developer just released Heroes of the Pacific sequel Heroes Over Europe and before that Ashes Cricket 2009. They have no details on the nature of the cuts, but note that last year GameSpot Australia estimated the company had 135 employees.

Tropico 3 Patch

The promised patch for Tropico 3 is now available, updating the island dictator sequel to version 1.04. The patch is available automatically when the game is launched with an active internet connection, provided it is registered with a legitimate serial number. The list of prominent changes is the same as the list announced Tuesday:
- Fixed multiple issues with the German translation
- Fixed overflow in safety/crime overlay
- Overall performance improvements
- Improved performance on single core CPUs
- Radio system made more robust
- You can no longer build two Secret Police Headquarters
- Subtitles no longer show while in main menu
- Always stop music playback in main menu
- Citizen camera tweaks
- Arrows point at the builders of the selected construction

Risen Demo Rises [Updated]

A playable demo for Risen is now available, allowing those interested in Piranha Byte's action/RPG to see if it rises to the occasion. The demo is available on the official Risen blog (a little bogged down at the moment), where word is: "Within this demo of Risen, you will venture deep into the mysterious island called Faranga and experience a story never before told. The demo has 1,1 GB" (we're pretty confident this was translated from German). Mirrors of the demo can be found on AtomicGamer,, FanGaming, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls. The Windows version of the game is slated for worldwide release tomorrow, and there's also a new cinematic trailer from the game on the YouTube. Update: The original demo was corrupted, and the only mirror sites who have notified us they are carrying the proper copy are AtomicGamer,, Gamer's Hell, and PixelRage.

Gamers for Digital Rights

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) announces a "Gamers for Digital Rights" initiative to inform gamers and advocate for them in sticky issues such as "digital content distribution, license agreements, virtual property and video game piracy." Word is: "This group, Gamers for Digital Rights, strives to get the information out to consumers on the ins and outs of content protection: what exactly is intellectual property; what rights do creators and publishers have; and most importantly, what rights do we gamers have." Their website offers an overview and points the way to the Gamers for Digital Rights Facebook Group and where to Write the FTC about DRM and EULAs. The announcement has further details on how this looks to deal with DRM:
“Digital rights are an extremely important and timely subject for everyone who buys and enjoys entertainment, but especially for those who purchase and play video games,” said ECA Vice President and General Counsel, Jennifer Mercurio. “With Gamers for Digital Rights, our goal is to educate consumers about their rights, as well as the copyright and trademark laws associated with such technologies, and then work to open a dialogue between software publishers, developers and gamers.”

In forming Gamers for Digital Rights and becoming more active in a wide variety of DRM issues, the ECA has recently hired Robert L. Hunter, IV (“Beau”) as their Digital Rights Consultant. In his new role, Mr. Hunter will head up the ECA’s efforts on related outreach and educational programs for the Government Affairs team. Mr. Hunter also currently serves as the President of Global Intellectual Property Securities, a consulting firm dedicated to helping multinational clients develop IP education and enforcement programs. Previously, he was the Director of Strategic Operations and Development for IPSA International, as well as Manager for IP Enforcement with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade association that represents video game publishers.

The Wonderful Newell of Oz

As noted a couple of weeks ago, Australian gamer Joe W-A raised $3,000.00 to fly Gabe Newell to Australia to check out his game modification. Apparently this is a serious bit of frivolity, as Valve has issued a press release announcing their boss will land in the land down under next week, and they will be blogging about the trip: "Newell and Joe will meet in Australia next week. Reports of the trip will be posted on's blog section by Valve employee Erik Johnson, who will be traveling with Newell down under." An update on the Fly Gabe Newell Blog indicates the well-to-do developer is paying his own way to Australia, and the funds raised are going to Child's Play: "Also, Gabe and Erik are paying their own way, which means all the money accumulated will be going to the Child's Play charity. It will be going there tomorrow, because today my internet is shaped and therefore too slow to load PayPal."

Mytheon Delay & New Character Trailer

The Mytheon Website now offers a new trailer highlighting the three character classes in Petroglyph's upcoming online action/RPG. The site also reveals a delay to the game, which was announced with a Fall 2009 release date, but the site now says "Cast The First Stone 2010." Here's word on the new trailer: "In the trailer, players will the see the powerful Warcaster in action as he summons companions to fight alongside him in a battle against deadly foes. The Elementalist brandishes his abilities to channel the forces of nature to quickly bring down enemies, as the Eidolon demonstrates his prowess at conjuring companions, buffs, and debuffs to heal allies and weaken opponents."

Jack Thomson Sues Facebook

Good Gear Guide reports a lawsuit against FaceBook was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by former attorney Jack Thompson, who seeks $40 million in damages because FaceBook failed to remove postings about him from their social network. Thompson, a lightning rod for angry gamers for a history of litigation similar to this latest suit (oh the irony), is the subject of several FaceBook groups expressing their hatred for him and his behavior, with some of them offering threats, both frivolous (Jack Thompson should be smacked across the face with an Atari 2600) and potentially serious (a removed post apparently said "If someone can get a video clip of themselves punching Jack Thompson in the face I'll PayPal them $50."). Thanks Slashdot. In other JT-related news, GamePolitics reports he has filed a complaint against the president-elect of the Florida Bar for making a disparaging remark about a judge on her personal blog. This is similar to one of the charges that got Thompson disbarred, and there is speculation he is trying to get a precedent set (or broken) to highlight the unfairness of how he's been treated.

APB Beta Next Week

Beta testing will commence next week for All Points Bulletin (APB), the open world online action game from Realtime Worlds. VG247 reports this was announced by Realtime Worlds' Gary Dale at Tech Media Invest event in London. You can still sign up on this page for the beta, though there are no guarantees of being selected.

Love Playable Alpha

Quel Solar announces a playable alpha for Love is now available, after the release earlier this week of a tech demo Alpha for compatibility testing. Once you get the Alpha running, you will reach a screen explaining they are requesting a 3 Euro donation to play, offering the following explanation: "Given the untested nature of the game, and the very limited development resources (A single developer) you should not expect the level of polish, amount of content or level of service of a large commercial game. If you are even considering, if you think its worth 3 Euros, I advice [sic] you to save your money and wait for the finished game. In other words; unless you are OK with donating 3Euros not knowing If you will get a working game in return, this Alpha is NOT for you." Thanks Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Free Alien Assault (Space Hulk Remake) now offers downloads of version 1.0 of Alien Assault, a freeware remake of the 1993's strategy shooter Space Hulk first unveiled last year. The site includes screenshots, a couple of trailers, and ability for those who enjoy the project to make a donation.

Wardell on GFWL: "They Take Over, I'm Done"

The Stardock Interview Part 2 on Shacknews continues their conversation with Stardock boss Brad Wardell. Topics include the dumbing down of strategy games, how publishers lie about sales numbers, competing with digital retailers, and Microsoft's lack of leadership on the PC as a gaming platform. On the heels of an article on Joystiq about opening Games for Windows to indie developers, Brad offers a revelatory quote about the nightmare of working with the Games for Windows LIVE platform:
I don't know. I started out as a big Games for Windows Live advocate. I intended for Elemental to be on Games for Windows Live, but then as we got closer, the Xbox group took it over more and more. And they have things where, oh, if you want to use Games for Windows Live to update your game, you have to go through [their] certification. And if you do it more than X number of times, you have to pay money. It's like, "My friends, you can't do that on the PC."

On the console, I don't have to update my game because an anti-virus program got an update and is now identifying my VB scripts as viruses and I have to apply an emergency patch. That would just add insult to injury. We've had to upgrade our games plenty of times over the years, not because we found some bug, but because some third-party program, or driver, or whatever screwed it up. If Games for Windows Live maintains that strategy and they take over, I'm done. I'm not making PC games. I would be done.

MMOs and Economics

Reuters has an article on a study of the in-game economy of EverQuest II, attempting to compare it with real-world economics. The article is a bit scattered, the most tangible non-conclusion to draw is their assessment of why they observed a 50% spike in inflation in the game over a five month period. "We have seen that kind of volatility during times of war and in developing nations in the real world," says Dmitri Williams, assistant professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. "Our own economy has turned out to be less stable than we'd all assumed."

Left 4 Dead Patched

Steam News announces the release of another automatic update for Left 4 Dead, Valve's co-op Zombie shooter. The new version addresses a number of bugs and adds localized audio for the new Crash Course DLC. They also outline changes for the dedicated server for the Xbox 360 edition of the game.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 Trailer

A new trailer from Battlefield Bad Company 2 called "Battlefield Moments Episode 1" is available on the YouTube. The clip is one continuous gameplay sequence, showing combat, iron sights, support drops, and demonstrating the life expectancy of a bold soldier in the game, which is a bit over a minute.

Gratuitous Space Battles Trailer

A new video trailer from Gratuitous Space Battles is now available on the YouTube, showing off the game's titular gratuitous space battles, as well as the game's interface, which looks nicely intuitive. Word is: "GSB is currently in an extended beta test period, but everyone pre-ordering the game now gets access to the beta. The game is $19.95 during beta, but will be more expensive on launch. (exact price to be determined)."

Op Ed

Crispy Gamer - Games Are Not Art.
Roger Ebert doesn't think games are art.

John Carmack doesn't think games are art.

John, meet Roger. Roger, meet John. John and Roger, meet Scribblenauts, a game that proves your point and shows why games are not art, or at the very least, don't need to be art. And at the very, very least, games would be better off if they stopped worrying about the whole art thing all together.

Gatherings & Competitions

  • Indiecade, the video game industry's Sundance. Bring you own latte.
  • SPIN is November 13-17 in Montreal, Canada. A behind-the-scenes view of the video game industry for the public that will also encourage future recruitment and employment in the industry.

Morning Previews

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Sorry for the late update, MrsBlue had a doctor's appointment and threw the BlueTower into a little chaos this morning. She also got talked into a flu shot, since she has asthma, but I'm one of those who has always resisted this, and I have never had a flu shot. Of course I don't think I've ever had the flu either; I imagine if I did, I might feel differently about the shot.

Inoculated Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Zombie Taxi.
Solar Basic.
Assembler 4.
Links: Dog Judo returns. Thanks brother19.
Ten Things We Miss About Middle School. Thanks Slashdot.
6 'Brilliant' Movie Scientists (Who Suck At Their Job).
Stories: Russian Rifle Manufacturer Faces Bankruptcy. Thanks brother19.
Fire call hits close to home for 911 dispatcher. Thanks Neatorama.
Police Use Acoustic Warfare to Disperse Crowds. Thanks brother19.
Science: -Perfect storm- of galactic cosmic rays invade space.
Carbon nanotubes may power ultracapacitor car.
Patient with no pulse. Thanks Slashdot.
Images: Game Ads From 1994.
Media: Ultra Fighting Team Millenia Ranger: Super Battle Action Film GO! Thanks
Futbol fan impatient, takes penalty kick into his own hands.
Parental controls porn blocker.
The Funnies: Abstruse Goose » Generations. Thanks Digg.
Follow-ups: Nanomaterials Under Study by the E.P.A.
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