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Tuesday, Jan 05, 2010


Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter Patch

Steam has three new automatic game updates available. There's a patch for Foreign Legion Buckets of Blood which adds support for English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Dutch, five additional maps, customizable outfits, and new weapons. There's also an Osmos Update adding French, German, Spanish, and Italian support, DirectX (D3D) support, tweaks difficulty settings, and more. Finally, a new patch is now available for Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter with a lengthy change list reproduced below. Continue here to read the full story.

Capcom: "Looks Like" No PC Dark Void Demo

"Looks like it's console only" is the answer Big Download got from Capcom PR when they asked about a Windows edition of the imminent console Dark Void demo announced today. We also contacted Capcom about the possibility of a PC sample of Airtight Games' flying action game and received a vague indication we'd have to wait and see, which left open the possibility of a Windows demo, and it's fair to say this quote doesn't completely rule it out.

Jagex: Mechscape Assets Can be Reused

Assets from Mechscape will not go to waste, reports Develop, following up on the cancellation announced last October of Jagex's second project. Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard admits to missteps that lead to the game being cancelled, saying, "Yes, we made some serious mistakes. We even spent a whole year building a tutorial again and again and again. But it’s not all just a case of linear time that has been wasted." He further outlines reasons the game was not released, and goes on to explain that they have not wasted all the time and effort invested in the project: "Certainly there’ll be assets from Mechscape that we can re-use," Gerhard explained. "For example the engine has been developed for four years continuously, so the game we’re starting today will benefit from all that hindsight tremendously."

On Funcom's Future

This press release from Funcom brags that Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures was named by as the Most Improved Game of 2009, taking pride in what could be viewed as a dubious distinction. There's also a Life After Conan Interview on talking with CEO Trond Arne Aas about the company's future, discussing how cost-cutting measures have put the company on better financial footing going forward, though the Norwegian economy has a significant impact on this: "All of that is with a keen eye on the cost position of the company - we're also specifically exposed to the Norwegian Kroner versus the US Dollar exchange rate, which has been a specific challenge to us. We're taking steps to make sure we're not as exposed to that as we used to be."


Following the announcement last summer that MAKING HISTORY II: "The War of the World would include those social networking components that all the kids love these days, comes word the strategy sequel will actually be an entirely web-based game. Gamasutra has a feature on the game written by Muzzy Lane Software's Matt Seegmiller, discussing the engine technology that will bring "hardcore" gaming to the browser. A bit on how this works follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Achron Launches

Hazardous Software announces that a prerelease version of Achron is now available for online purchase, offering the chance to get early builds of what is described as: "the first game to feature single-player and multiplayer free-form time travel. It is the world's first meta-time strategy game, a real-time strategy game where players and units can jump to and play at different times simultaneously and independently." Word is: "Redefining the pre-order, purchasers of the game will be able to immediately access five single player levels. Within these levels, players will learn command hierarchy, become familiar with time travel, and begin to utilize time travel strategies. In addition, the purchaser will receive all future major builds of Achron through the final release. Hazardous Software is not only reinventing the real-time strategy genre with time travel but revolutionizing the way that game designers interact and deliver games to fans. The company is creating their own digital distribution platform to directly interface with gamers and be more responsive to fans. Purchasers will also gain access to mod and development tools."

Mass Effect 2 Vanguard Profile

Mass Effect 2- The Vanguard feature on IGN looks at the Vanguard class in Mass Effect 2, offering a gameplay trailer from BioWare's upcoming RPG sequel along with an interview with Christina Norman, who explains: "We wanted playing the Vanguard to feel totally different from playing a Soldier or Adept. Our mantra for the Vanguard was high-risk high-reward, and we designed the Vanguard's unique Biotic Charge power to enable this kind of gameplay."

Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising Librarian Profile

The Dawn of War II Website has a new Space Marines unit profile introducing the Librarian from the upcoming Chaos Rising expansion for Dawn of War II, Relic's RTS sequel. This is a character who will do more than "shush" you for talking in the library, as word is: "Librarians possess psyker abilities and have been trained to harness these powers to serve the Emperor." They offer an outline of these abilities.

Cinemaware Interview

The Bob Jacob interview on Gamasutra talks with the cofounder of Cinemaware, the highly regarded Amiga developer from back in the day. They go into details about a number of specific games, as well as the state of movie, TV, and sports tie-ins, both then and now. He has a cheery outlook about the company's run: "Look, I've got to tell you something here. I had a five-year rush. Imagine being in a position where you could put any game you wanted into development. At that time in the industry, if you were an innovator, you were gold. It was a great time, probably the most fun five years I've ever had in my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything."

PC as a TV Console

iGUGU announces Gamecore, a controller they say turns the PC into "the World’s Most Powerful Television Gaming Console." This is a wireless controller shown here on their website, and described like so:

iGUGU Gamecore transforms the PC into the world’s most powerful videogame console enabling users to access and play the vast majority of PC- and Internet-based titles on a television or home entertainment center. The iGUGU Gamecore system consists of a compact wireless controller which incorporates a robust set of controls, freeing the gamer from the need to use a traditional PC keyboard or mouse and a kit to connect the computer to any TV.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: "Bond 23" On Hold Due To MGM Sale. Thanks Ant. Boo.

Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Trailer

A trailer for Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening is now available to celebrate today's announcement of the upcoming RPG expansion from BioWare. The mostly cinematic clip is posted on the YouTube and below. Continue here to read the full story.

Star Trek Online Exploration Trailer

A new Star Trek Online trailer highlights exploration in Cryptic's upcoming Trekkie MMORPG, which apparently consists of the brief interludes of ship and ground-based travel before the phasers come out and everyone starts blasting everything to Ceti Alpha Five and back (which is also portrayed in the clip). The trailer can be viewed on the YouTube or below. Continue here to read the full story.

LEGO Universe Beta Signups at CES

The LEGO Group announces plans to show off LEGO Universe at CES 2010, the consumer/trade show that kicks off on Thursday in Las Vegas, NV. They say attendees will be given first-hand demonstrations, and will be able to sign up to beta test NetDevil's LEGO-themed MMOG, which is expected to go live in the second half of this year. The announcement highlights the content creation aspects of the game and the participation of adult fans known as LUPs (LEGO Universe partners), but no further details about the mentioned beta test are included.

Divinity II: Ego Draconis Patch

A new patch is now available for Divinity II: Ego Draconis, updating the just released US/English edition of Larian Studios' RPG sequel to version 1.03. The download is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and WorthPlaying. The Larian Studios forums have word that an updated demo is in the works as well as details on the patch, which follow. Continue here to read the full story.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat UK, Nordic, & Italian Date

Koch Media announces a distribution agreement for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, announcing GSC Game World's shooter sequel will be released in UK, Nordic, and Italian markets on February 5. The game's North American release date has already been announced as February 2.

Aion's Temporary Trillionaires

The Aion Website outlines a reward glitch on the Azphel server for Aion, NCsoft's MMORPG that accidentally gifted "a small number of players" with over 30 trillion Kinah (the game's currency) each. These newfound riches were short-lived, however, as this server has been taken offline for roll-back to a point prior to the hurricane of money. This is followed up with word that a few more glitches have been identified and are being addressed along the way: "We've found a few additional bugs that are having a direct impact on the stability of the Azphel economy. We hope to have more information for you Tuesday morning." Thanks Massively.

EA on Tiger Woods

As noted earlier, EA has decided to continue its relationship with Tiger Woods. Peter Moore's Blog has the official statement on this, saying "Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf" (apparently all the other sponsors who have cut ties with the randy golfer had relationships rooted in marital fidelity). The full statement follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Tactical Intervention Details

A Creator of Counter-Strike Developing Tactical Intervention has the official announcement of Tactical Intervention, offering more details on the upcoming shooter from Counter-Strike co-creator Minh "Gooseman" Le first revealed last year. The announcement is accompanied by some screenshots and a few details on the game, which is expected to enter beta testing in the first half of this year:

Tactical Intervention takes aim at maximize strategic team play. The game is being developed with Source Engine and set in the modern battle between terrorists and counter terrorism team. Tactical Intervention is guaranteed to deliver real-like weapon and character design as well as K9 units and hostage NPCs with impeccable AI.

"Counter-Strike-type of game is proven to be a success throughout regions such as Asia, Europe, and North America. It is quite challenging to balance between bringing out familiarity and new system at the same time. But I can guarantee you will have fun paying it," said Mihn Lee.

Zero Gear Preorder Discount, Beta Access

NimbleBit announces preorders are now being accepted for Zero Gear in advance of next week's Steam release for this cart racing/combat game, offering a 25% discount for the advance commitment as well as immediate access to the game's beta test. Prepurchases are being conducted through this page, there are screenshots on this page, and there's a gameplay trailer on the YouTube. Here's word on the game: "Zero Gear is physically-fueled, online multiplayer PC kart combat madness. Deck out your kart and character before jumping into one of many different game modes. Outrageous kinematic gameplay and weapons make every round a blast. The potential for tiny vehicular mayhem has never been so humongous! Boost, flip, spin, and slide your way to victory!"

Dragon Age: Origins Return to Ostagar Delayed

A very brief post to the BioWare Social Network announces an unexplained delay to for Return to Ostagar, the DLC for Dragon Age: Origins that was planned for release today (thanks OXM). Word is:

We’re sorry but the planned Return to Ostagar downloadable content scheduled to launch on January 5th has been delayed for all platforms.

We will update you as new information becomes available.

Dragon Age: Origins Awakening Announced

BioWare Announces First Official Expansion Pack to Dragon Age: Origins has the official announcement of the Awakening expansion for Dragon Age: Origins revealed last week. The add-on will be released for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on March 16. There are some screenshots on the Dragon Age Origins - Awakening Page, and here's a bit:

Designed and written by the same team that brought you Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion pack offers a brand new area of the world to explore known as Amaranthine, featuring an epic story that will allow players to unravel the secrets of the darkspawn - and their true motivations! Players will face a range of horrific and terrifying creatures including an evolved, intelligent breed of darkspawn and other menacing creatures such as the Inferno Golem and Spectral Dragon. Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening provides exciting new ways for players to customize their heroes and party, including the ability to re-spec their character attributes, allowing even greater customization and replayability. Featuring an increased level cap, new spells, abilities, specializations and items, plus five all-new party members, players can continue their adventures from Dragon Age, or begin with a brand new party.

Ships Ahoy - Divinity II – Ego Draconis

cdv Announces the release of Divinity II – Ego Draconis in North America for Xbox 360 and Windows, offering the sequel to Larian Studios' fantasy-themed RPG. A playable demo was released a couple of weeks ago, and word is:

The sequel to the critically acclaimed fantasy RPG Divine Divinity, Divinity II - Ego Draconis transports players back to the wide-open, war-torn world of Rivellon where they will battle the forces of evil not just as a human Dragon Slayer, but also as a powerful dragon!

Developed by Larian Studios, Divinity II – Ego Draconis boasts a robust fantasy adventure of more than 60 hours, teeming with massive dungeons and outdoor spaces to explore. It boasts a bevy of features unique to the RPG market, like a classless Skill Tree system allowing for endless upgrading combinations, the power of mindreading and for the first time you’ll have the ability to play either on-foot as a Dragon Slayer or as a fire-breathing dragon!

World Empires Live Launches

World Empires Live is now available, offering an online real-time strategy game described as "an Empire Builder for single player as well as multiplayer which take you from [the] Stone Age all the way to the Modern Era." The game features online matchmaking and leaderboards, and can be sampled for free, though the full game requires a subscription. Word is: "World Empires Live (WEL) is a Real Time hybrid which offers quick sessions of about 1.5 hours for up to 8 players in single player, multiplayer and rated games. To achieve victory for your faction or team you need to use exploration, military, trade, diplomacy and economic managements. WEL does not get you bogged down into detail and is easy to learn but hard to master. A game that is particularly good for many players and competition."

Why Shooters Need Dedicated Servers

A post on BASHandSlash describes how to force Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to select you as the host for multiplayer games. This quite plainly highlights the obvious problem with the lack of dedicated servers, and though this is not going to be news to most of the folks reading this, it bears repeating if it can help future games avoid the peer-to-peer multiplayer mistake going forward:

Hosting the game on your computer puts you at a very great advantage. You will have the lowest effective ping in the game (approximately ~20ms). It's the host's computer that decides the outcome of every battle, which means that what the host is seeing on his screen is the closest to what the registration algorithm thinks is actually happening.

A week ago I tried an experiment with Whiskey, a renowned CoD gamer from British Columbia. We set up a private match and we played a 1v1 death-match on Rust.

When I hosted (I'm in Toronto) I completely pwned. I had a K/D ratio of three. Yet...when Whiskey tried to host, the tables turned. The host was getting that split second that separates fragger and fragee in FPS. When I was hosting I'd see the enemy's head suddenly pokeout around the corner just long enough for me to blast away, whereas my opponent would see nothing.

Left 4 Dead De-make

Pixel Force: Left 4 Dead is a retro "de-make" created by Eric Ruth Games offering a 2D take on Left 4 Dead, Valve's Zombie shooter. There are screenshots, and there's a gameplay video on the YouTube showing what to expect. Word is: "Lovingly recreated in a fashion that would have been acceptable in 1986 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, this de-make stands as the flagship title of the upcoming Pixel Force series from Eric Ruth Games. Go alone, or invite a friend for 2 player co-op against the zombie apocalypse in all 4 of the original game campaigns. 2 difficulties and all 4 of the survivors make a glorious 8-bit appearence [sic], complete with first and second tier weapons scattered along your path to escape." Thanks ricin, who is supplying a another mirror and a Torrent. Another download mirror is on AtomicGamer.

New FreeCol

A new version 0.9.0 of FreeCol is now available, offering an update to this freeware turn-based strategy game based on Colonization. This page has all the details on the new version, and this page features downloads for Windows, Linux, and MacOS. Thanks Ant via LinuxGames.

Op Ed

Kotaku - Amazon's Kindle Offers Refunds For Digital Downloads, Why Don't Game Companies?
Amazon's either ahead of the curve, about to learn some hard lessons or operating with a medium that plays by other rules. It's hard to tell yet, but it bears watching and hopefully stokes conversation about what digital consumers have a right to do with the content they pay for.

Ars Technica - What we'd do (in a perfect world) to fix Steam's problems.
The problem is that many games on the service still use third-party DRM solutions like SecuROM. For many gamers, the use of these technologies is enough to sour a purchase; and there is no reason to add another layer of protection—especially using such a contentious program—when piracy of Steam games is such a nonissue.

The best thing we can say about this practice is that the use of SecuROM is disclosed, but that's cold comfort to gamers trying to keep the program off their system.

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Tech Bits

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

  • Champions Online on Ten Ton Hammer. Part 3 – End Game.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited on Ten Ton Hammer.
  • King's Bounty: Armored Princess on GameSpot.
  • Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood on IGN.

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

It's been quite frosty here in New York the past few days, with the wind chill putting temperatures in the single digits. This makes me feel like a total wuss when I walk the dogs, as I am all bundled up and cold, and they are quite happy running around naked, as it were. I felt even wimpier last night when we saw one of these "shorts guys" in the supermarket. You've probably seen them, maybe you are one yourself, but there he was walking through the parking lot in shorts, seemingly impervious to the cold. Brrr.

Cold Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Amberialites- The Tower of Endurance.
No Walking, No Problem Flash.
Bouncing Balls 2.
Links: Arnold Schwarzenegger's Bizarre Career Path.
Secrets of Na’vi Sex Revealed. Thanks Digg.
An Open Letter to James Cameron From Papyrus. Thanks Joker961 and Digg.
Stories: Fight Against Asian Carp Threatens Fragile Great Lakes Unity.
Christmas Gift Leads To X-Rated Surprise. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Workers at Lawrence animal shelter carry guns to protect themselves. Thanks dakslf.
Science: DARPA kick-starts flying car program.
NASA Kepler space telescope spies five hidden planets.
Images: The 'Lost' Supper.
This Optical Illusion is Nuts.
I'm Yours (ukulele). Thanks Orlando.
Auction: Knight Rider Replica.
Follow-up: End of the road for NASA's Mars rover? Thanks Slashdot.

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