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Friday, Jan 22, 2010


Last Word on BioShock 2 DRM, For Now

A new post to The Cult of Rapture by 2K Elizabeth called "Scaling Back BioShock 2's DRM," recaps plans for digital rights management in the submerged shooter sequel. The plan is essentially the same as our most recent understanding, but it is now laid out in one place from soup to nuts. In short, there will be no SecuROM limits on either the retail or digitally distributed editions, though it will have a 15 installation limit through Games for Windows LIVE:

Over the past two days, I’ve fielded a lot of questions and concerns about the DRM for both the retail and digital versions of BioShock 2. Because of this feedback, we are scaling back BioShock 2’s DRM.

There will be no SecuROM install limits for either the retail or digital editions of BioShock 2, and SecuROM will be used only to verify the game’s executable and check the date. Beyond that, we are only using standard Games for Windows Live non-SSA guidelines, which, per Microsoft, comes with 15 activations (after that, you can reset them with a call to Microsoft.)

Continue here to read the full story.

Left 4 Dead 2 Update

The Left 4 Dead Blog has a status report on what's being worked on in Valve's co-op Zombie shooter sequel, and points the way to a Left 4 Dead 2 interview on CGSociety talking with Valve's Randy Lundeen and Jeremy Bennett. The blog update covers talks about versus mode changes, discussing bots briefly, auto-spawning in Versus finales, and more:

With our last update having come out a few weeks ago and the next one a few weeks out, we wanted to let people know what we are working on. In addition to "The Passing" DLC, we are working on some other updates coming for both PC and 360. While not a complete list by any means, we wanted to give a heads up on a few Versus changes coming.

We are adding bots for the Infected team to help out the Infected when they are down a man or two. This will also make 1v1 Versus a bit more fun.

We've also been experimenting with a solution for auto-spawning in Versus finales. Even though it's pretty obvious from the L4D forums that EVERYONE LOVES auto-spawning in finales, we figured, what the hell-we'd just go ahead and remove auto-spawning anyway. But before we make any change to Versus we always need to see how the game is currently being played.

So how do finales currently play out? Across all finales in Left 4 Dead 2 currently, a single survivor has a 34.56% chance of escaping. That includes the Concert Finale in "Dark Carnival", which boasts close to a 50% escape rate (and yes, a fix for everyone's favorite cheese spot is coming). Remove the Concert Finale, and we see the average drop to 29.61%. With these figures in mind, when we make changes, we can measure the difference and see how much the change impacted the balance.

Continue here to read the full story.

Battle of Immortals Announced

The Battle of Immortals Website is online for this upcoming MMORPG from Perfect World Entertainment which they say is has "a strong emphasis on hardcore PvP." The Perfect World Community Blog has details on the game, saying it is a 2.5D action MMORPG, and the story incorporates eastern and western culture, ranging from Norse Mythology to the Qin Dynasty. Word is: "Rest assured that we'll be diving into each of these features and explaining them more in-depth as we get closer to launch. By the way, we'll be posting a huge update on BoI later this week, along with the dates of our Closed Beta!"

NecroVision: Lost Company Website, Specs

The NecroVision: Lost Company Website is online as a home to the prequel to NecroVisioN, The Farm 51's supernatural World War I first-person shooter. The site offers info, media, and resources for the game, and narrows its release date from Q1 2010 to February 2010. They also list the game's system requirements, which follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Aussie Attorney-General Slams Gamers

GameSpot Australia has an article about political opposition for South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, the Aussie politician many feel is the main stumbling block impeding the sale of mature video games in Australia. Word is Atkinson is being opposed by Gamers4Croydon, a new party formed by gamers looking to replace Atkinson in the post he's held for the past 20 years by electing their own candidate in the upcoming South Australian election. His statements on the topic are inflammatory, to say the least: "I assume the Gamers4Croydon campaign will involve criminal activities and dirty tricks, which is what I've come to expect from gamers," he tells them. "Regardless, I think they will struggle to get even 1 percent of the votes, and their campaign will actually discredit the public campaign in support for R18+ rather than enhance its chances." Thanks Mike Martinez via 3FL.

On OnLive Testing

There's a new post on the OnLive Blog called "Beta Testing at the Speed of Light," which appears to be a response to a recent preview of the cloud-based gaming system on PC Perspective. The author of the preview was not actually an authorized tester, and the blog update describes how this outside the box approach may have been the cause of some of the lag the previewer experienced: "While the production OnLive service will adapt to different configurations each time you connect, during Beta testing each user is setup only to test a specific computer configuration (or MicroConsole™ TV Adapter version), a single Internet provider and, most importantly, a particular location. If you change any of these factors, OnLive Beta may not even run, or if it does, the lag and/or graphics performance may render games unplayable. OnLive will try to detect these conditions and warn you, but when you are using OnLive in a different location, you are not providing us with usable test data." Thanks Big Download.

D2D Mass Effect 2 Preloads Begin

Direct2Drive announces that preloads are underway for Mass Effect 2, BioWare's upcoming RPG sequel. Those who have preordered the game can now begin downloading so the game will be ready to play on launch day.

No R.U.S.E. Mod Tools

The Ubisoft Forums reveal that there will be no mod or map tools for R.U.S.E., Eugen Systems' upcoming RTS game. Word is: "The gaming community has talent, that’s an undeniable fact and we all love mods. However when it comes to the vastness of the maps we are talking about in R.U.S.E., things tend to be a little bit tougher and it makes the development process of a mapping tool a real challenge. So sadly there is no plan to include a mapping tool when the game will hit shelves. But you may not need it considering the thousands square kilometers waiting for you!" Thanks Blend Games.

Interplay and Masthead's Project: V13 Deal

Interplay announces they have "signed definitive agreements" with Masthead for development of Project: V13, the game understood to be the Fallout MMORPG that makes so much news (thanks No Mutants Allowed). Word is:

LOS ANGELES, CA, January 21, 2010 — Interplay Entertainment Corp. (OTC BB:IPLY) announced today that the Company has signed definitive agreements with Masthead Studios concerning the development of Interplay’s post-apocalyptic Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG), code named “Project: V13.”

Project: V13 has been under development at Interplay since November 2007 by some of the original Fallout® creators. Masthead joined the project in early 2009 and development continues under Interplay’s direction and control. Project: V13 will utilize the proprietary tools and MMOG technology Masthead developed for its “Earthrise” project.

Gatherings & Competitions

On Sale

  • 48 Hour Madness on GoGamer.
  • 4x4 Hummer on Impulse. Save 30%.
  • A.I.M. Racing on Impulse. Save 30%.
  • Bob Came in Pieces on Impulse. Save 25%.
  • Classic Car Racing on Impulse. Save 30%.
  • Cyan Games on Save 25%.
  • Dawn of Magic 2 on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • Death Track Resurrection on Impulse. Save 30%.
  • Rome: Total War Gold Edition on Direct2Drive. Save 50%.
  • Streets of Moscow on Impulse. Save 30%.
  • Time of Shadows on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • Tropico 3 on Impulse. Save 25%.
  • Tropico Reloaded on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • Sword of the Stars Ultimate on Impulse. Save 50%.

    Still on sale (previously reported)
      Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: NASA Unveils Personal Aircraft. Thanks j.c.f.

Company of Heroes Eastern Front Modification

As noted on the Company of Heroes Website, the Eastern Front modification is now available for Company of Heroes, Relic's World War II RTS game. The mod adds the Soviet Union to the game as a playable faction, and word is: "The Soviets play quite differently from existing factions, with new units, abilities, and of course art." Downloads and further details can be found on the Eastern Front Website.

More Rockstar Spouse Follow-up

An "Asked & Answered" post to the Rockstar News Wire covers several topics in answering questions from fans, including Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and most notably, the recent Rockstar Spouse incident involving an open letter decrying the working conditions at Rockstar San Diego. That letter complained of forced overtime and other stressful conditions at the studio for current employees, but Rockstar does not address those concerns, and instead talks of "former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling." Here's word:

As for the stories spreading around the internet, yes we have noticed them. Unfortunately, this is a case of people taking the opinions of a few anonymous posters on message boards as fact. No business is ever perfect, but Rockstar Games is a tight knit team made up of around 900 supremely talented and motivated professionals, many of whom have worked here for a very long time. We’re saddened if any former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling and wish them well with finding an environment more suitable to their temperaments and needs, but the vast majority of our company are focused solely on delivering cutting edge interactive entertainment. We’ve always cared passionately about the people working here, and have always tried to maintain a supportive creative environment. There is simply no way Rockstar could continue to produce such large scale, high quality games without this. That being said, making great games is very challenging, which is why we have and will continue to try to keep hold of some of the best talent in the industry and support them in every way we can.

On Bethesda's Mystery MMOG

The information Bethesda Softworks has been attempting to redact from the documents from their legal action against Interplay over the Fallout MMORPG has come to light. By pinpointing the segments of the record to be redacted, they have pointed prying eyes right at the erstwhile secrets in a variation on the Streisand effect. There are a few tidbits from the court transcripts on Duck and Cover, and here are a couple of quotes that reflect on the MMORPG Bethesda doesn't want to be made public at this point:

Q. How do you know what an MMOG is?
A. One of the divisions of ZeniMax Media, ZeniMax Online Studios, is currently in production of an MMOG and has been in production for a number of years.
Q. Is it a Fallout MMOG?
A. It is not.

A. ZeniMax Online Studios is creating a triple A MMOG along the lines of, I mentioned earlier World of Warcraft. It is, you know, a world wide launch. There's close to a hundred people that are working on the game currently. The budget for that, you know, is tens and tens of millions of to dollars.

Q. You never built a MMOG, have you?
A. We're building one right now.
Q. Prior to the time of the APA and the TLA, Bethesda and ZeniMax never built an MMOG, did they?
A. Bethesda began development with ZeniMax Online Studios -- ZeniMax Online Studios began to put together its design in I think late 2006, around 2007, so it's in development. Started around then and it's currently in development, it's been in development for a number of years.

Interstellar Marines: Bullseye Launches

The Interstellar Marines Website offers the launch of Interstellar Marines: Bullseye, the first playable preview of Interstellar Marines, the upcoming first-person shooter at one time known as Project IM. Word is the game introduces "some of the weapon shooting mechanics from Interstellar Marines." This makes use of the Unity Web Player to allow gameplay in a browser, and they say: "We are building Interstellar Marines on Unity, which allows us to execute our game with 16x Anisotropic filtering, Fullscreen Anti-aliasing, per pixel lighting, normal maps, lit translucency, dynamic shadows as well as most other AAA features you would expect from game engines such as Unreal or CryEngine .. but in a browser on both Windows and OS X. We guarantee you it's the best graphics, sound and fun you've had in a browser-based game!" Thanks ClanBase.

Sound Thinking on Battlefield: Bad Company 2

A post to the Battlefield Blog by DICE audio programmer Anders "katamakel" Clerwall, who offers "An Audiophile's Guide to BF:BC2." The article describes how the audio engine works in the Frostbite engine that powers Battlefield: Bad Company 2, their upcoming military shooter sequel. He explains: "Hopefully with this information you'll know how to get the most out of the audio in Bad Company on whichever platform you choose to play it on. It's going to get quite technical, but I'll try to summarize each section to make everything crystal clear."

Mass Effect 2 Paid DLC To Be Standalone

Joystiq has a story that makes sense out of the distinction between free DLC for Mass Effect 2 offered through the Cerberus Network and paid DLC that's also coming for BioWare's RPG sequel. Word is paid DLC for the game will be available separately, while free DLC will be offered through the Cerberus Network, the game interface which will be free for original purchasers of the game and can be purchased separately for $15.00 by those with a pre-owned copy. "We'll definitely have for-pay DLC down the road too," explains BioWare's Dr. Greg Zeschuk. "It's not going to be all free DLC for Mass Effect 2 -- far from that. There'll be paid DLC packs, and there'll be stuff available through Cerberus as well." Thanks nin. Speaking of Mass Effect 2, there's a new interview with BioWare designer Casey Hudson on

Sword of the Stars II and Two Other Games Announced

Paradox Interactive announces the conclusion of this week's Paradox Interactive Convention in Stockholm in a press release that also reveals plans for Sword of the Stars II, Commander: Conquest of the Americas, and Magicka along with word on plans to release the Magna Mundi modification for Europa Universalis III commercially. They also recap recent announcements about Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943, Rise of Prussia and Vainglory of Nations, and Majesty 2: Kingmaker. Here's word on the previously unannounced Sword of the Stars II (though this has been previously hinted), Commander: Conquest of the Americas, and Magicka:

Much to the delight of fans of the Sword of the Stars franchise, Paradox announced Sword of the Stars II, the full stand-alone follow-up to the popular space strategy titles. Sword of the Stars II will feature the six races from the original game, as well as its expansions, marking a major step forward in the series’ approach to 4X gameplay. Setting a new standard for the genre, as well as revealing dark secrets of the original series, Sword of the Stars II is sure to please fans of the genre when it is released next year

Commander: Conquest of the Americas combines the best elements of trading and strategy games. Set in the 16th century, players will take charge of a wide variety of European nations in efforts to conquer the New World. With as many as 30 ships to control and varied environments (from the Caribbean to the Hudson Bay), players have much to look forward to when the game is released in Q3 2010.

Following up on the recent news that Paradox Interactive will enter the console territory, Magicka, an action-adventure game based on Norse mythology, will be available to download on PC and consoles in Q2/Q3 2010. Up to four players will be able to join together in casting spells and wreaking havoc on the minions of darkness, in a grand and humorous adventure to save the world from ultimate doom.

KillSkill Announced

Russian developer and publisher Playnatic Entertainment announces KillSkill, a subscription-free MMO third-person shooter with RPG elements that will enter closed beta testing next month with an open beta planned to begin before the end of the quarter. Here are some KillSkill screenshots, and here are a few details from the announcement: "The story of KillSkill unfolds in the distant future on the inhabited colonial planet & space stations. The players will engage each other in a fight to the death and will opposite to inimical alien races. Main qualities of the game are dynamical game play, original role-playing system, low system specifications and great choice of cooperative PVE-modes (Freight seizure, Preparation of base for the landing, Patrol, Pursuit, Search for the spy, Annihilation, Survival) & PVP modes both classic and original, where players can fight with horde of enemies."

Mass Effect 2 and MAG Midnight Madness

U.S. games retailer GameStop announces plans to hold midnight madness events at 2,500 stores to start selling BioWare's RPG sequel Mass Effect 2 as well as MAG, Zipper Interactive's PS3 MMO shooter, at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, January 26. The events will get underway the evening of Monday, January 25, and some locations will offer attendees the chance to test their soldier skills with tank building challenges, commando dress up contests, grenade launches (huh?), and other games of skill. Word is: "Most participating GameStop locations will open at 10 p.m. local time for the special events with sales starting at midnight; however, customers are asked to contact their local store to confirm the exact time of the event." This document lists locations for the event in Adobe Acrobat format.

Warcraft III Patches

Blizzard Support now offers new patches for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos to update the PC and Mac editions of Blizzard's RTS sequel and its expansion to version 1.24d. The patches can be applied automatically through, but manual downloads are provided for flexibility. The Frozen Throne v1.24d Patch Notes have details on the new version, and the patch is available for a multitude of languages on The Frozen Throne patch downloads page, some or all of which are mirrored on AtomicGamer, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying. The Reign of Chaos v1.24d Patch Notes have details on that patch, which is available for various languages on the Reign of Chaos patch downloads page, and some or all of these are mirrored on AtomicGamer, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Sith Empire Timeline

An update to the Star Wars: The Old Republic Developer Blog points to the release of the sixth installment in their timeline holorecord series. The trailer holorecord is again narrated by Master Gnost-Dural, aka Lance Henriksen, and it covers the Onslaught of the Sith Empire, telling "the story of the Sith Empire’s surprise attack at the start of the Great War over 28 years before the Sacking of Coruscant."

AIAS Achievement Award Nominees

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announces their 13th Interactive Achievement Award Nominations, led by Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which earned 15 nominations. The awards will be handed out on February 18 during the D.I.C.E. Summit 2010 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, where entertainer Jay Mohr will returning for his fifth year as host. This Acrobat document has the full list of nominees, none of which were released yesterday. Here are the candidates for Overall Game of the Year:

Assassin's Creed II, Publisher: Ubisoft, Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Batman: Arkham Asylum, Publisher: Eidos/WBIE, Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Publisher: Activision, Developer: Infinity Ward
Dragon Age: Origins, Publisher: Electronic Arts, Developer: BioWare
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Developer: Naughty Dog

New Star Tennis and Trial

New Star Games announces the release of New Star Tennis for PC and Mac, serving up a sporting simulation with an in-depth career mode with a full tennis tour of 66 tournaments that puts the player into the world of a rising young tennis star. The PC and Mac editions are each available on this page along with trial versions and a gameplay trailer. Word is: "New Star Tennis is unlike any other tennis game out there. It couples a fun and addictive game of tennis with a detailed career mode that gives you a glimpse into the life of a young tennis star. Starting out as a 16 year old newcomer to the circuit you must train hard and win tournaments around the globe as you compete on the NSG World Tour. As you earn points you will move up the ranking chart, earning cash and sponsorship deals along the way. It’s not all tennis though! To keep your spirits up you can spend time in the casino, go karting, play darts, or even buy and train race horses!"

Strategic Command 2 - Weapons and Warfare Hotfix now offers a new version 1.06a hotfiix patch for Strategic Command 2 - Weapons and Warfare, addressing a few issues with the World War II strategy game. The new version fixes a unit mode TCP/IP replay error, an AI research development bug, an email replay error, and an HQ build list error that would incorrectly show a rating of 0 for previously destroyed HQs. The patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Trailer

The Battlefield: Bad Company 2 trailer on offers the single-player campaign reveal from G4TV's look at DICE's upcoming military shooter sequel. The clip features some action-packed cinematics and a few snippets of gameplay, and concludes with a scene of a battle being waged in and above a major metropolis.

On AC2 Releases

Ubisoft tweets about the release schedule for Assassin's Creed 2 DLC, saying: "Extend your #AC2 adventure and take part in the Battle of Forli (DLC), out Jan 28 for PS3 (3.99€) and X360 (320 MS Points)." They also tweet about the Windows edition, which is still expected over the next 70 days or so: "PC is due out in Q1 2010. A precise release date will be communicated later."

EVE Online Dominion Patched

EVE Online Dominion version 1.1 is now live, updating a number of aspects of CCP's sci-fi MMORPG. These patch notes outline the extensive changes in the new version, and Massively has an article on the capital ship changes included in the patch.

Op Ed

CNET - What video game sequels get wrong.
Playing Assassin's Creed 2, it's obvious that a newcomer to the series would be completely lost as to even the point of the game (which involves medieval virtual reality settings and "Da Vinci Code"-like secret societies). Having played, but not finished, the original two years ago, I was forced to head to Wikipedia for a refresher course on what was happening and why. The early versions of BioShock 2 we've played have the same fatal flaw, assuming an intimate familiarity with the settings and themes of the original (which is still especially worth going back and playing if you haven't already).

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Independents' Day- What Is Indie?
Vic Davis, aka CrypticComet, and responsible for perhaps our favourite turn-based strategy game of 2007, Armageddon Empires, and our favourite turn-based strategy game of 2009, Solium Infernum, has a more esoteric definition: “Indie means freedom pure and simple. It’s the freedom to be your own boss and chart your own course. It’s exhilarating frankly to have almost no constraints on you besides the consequences of failure. It’s the freedom the internet provides to cut out the middle man and own the customer yourself. It means that you can take risks that the big developers can’t afford to take. Indie to me means that you grab your surf board and ride the “Long Tail” as far as it will take you.”

Crispy Gamer - Spoilsport- On Gaming's Unhealthy Obsession With Spoilers. Thanks Joker961.
To interact with any creative work, whether a videogame, an album, a book or a film, is, in a very real sense, to be its co-creator, to pull from its core your own personal meaning and significance. To worry about spoilers is to cede this co-creative power; it is to make oneself a bystander in an active imaginative process. With videogames, we have nothing less than one of the most involving and potentially powerful forms of art in the whole history of the world -- a form of art whose interactivity has everything to do with the how rather than the what. Worrying about a mortar, or who the hell is Frank Fontaine, or that (spoiler!) the final confrontation in Assassin's Creed II is a fistfight with a fat guy, is not even infantilizing. Babies, after all, do not like surprises.

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits


Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

MrsBlue and I just caught up with the first two episodes of Human Target on the DVR. The show is totally ridiculous, offering unrealistic scenarios and over-the-top action sequences. So of course we loved every single second of it. And since Mark Valley was in Boston Legal (as Brad Chase as opposed to Christopher Chance), it leaves open the vague possibility of a William Shatner cameo. Denny Crane!

Targeted Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Prizma Puzzle 2.
Green Thumb Greg.
Links: 15 ways to tell you’re in deadly peril in a video game. Thanks Joker961.
Gandolfini Was the Model for 3D Shrek. Thanks Digg.
Story: O’Brien seals $45 million deal to quit ‘Tonight’. Thanks Digg.
Science: Clay-based hydrogels could be green alternative to polymers.
Keeping computers from ending science's reproducibility.
Images: 21 Awesome Life-Sized Legos.
Unbelievable Celebrity Phone Book Carvings.
Media: Sinistar is Craving Cary Grant.
George Lucas Re-Edits Star Wars Opening Text.
Ghost Recon designer Applies for Survivor. Thanks Genghis Khan.
Follow-up: UN climate chief admits mistake on Himalayan glaciers warning. Thanks Tony.
Past Decade Warmest on Record, NASA Data Shows.

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