Archived News:

Thursday, Apr 22, 2010 Happy Earth Day

Sega Layoffs, Reorganization

IndustryGamers reports Sega has reorganized its western operations, and has "made the reluctant decision to reduce headcount by 36 employees in the San Francisco offices and 37 in London." Word is the European offices will continue to focus on "traditional goods" game development, while Sega's North American offices will refocus on digital distribution. "We've been going through the planning process the past 6 months, taking a look at the future of the market and where we think our investments need to be. It's no surprise that the share of digital is growing as an overall part of the video game business, so we decided we have to invest more in that specific area," says Sega West President Mike Hayes.

On MW2 Bonuses

Gamasutra reports that Activision has awarded performance bonuses intended for former Infinity Ward executives Jason West and Vince Zampella to the employees who have remained with Infinity Ward "who did not allegedly attempt to steal company secrets." They quote community rep and former game journalist Dan Amrich in a Discussion about Activision Facebook Page referring to "Vince and Jason's surreptitious attempts to photocopy and scan sensitive documents." Not that they are looking to stem the exodus of IW employees with cash, but Dan adds: "more people will probably go too, looking for new situations. Maybe they will join Respawn, maybe not. I'm confused, because by leaving, they are giving up their bonus -- and the more people that leave, the bigger the bonus gets for the people who stay."

Puzzle Chronicles

Konami Digital Entertainment announces the release of Puzzle Chronicles, their action-puzzle/RPG, for Windows, Xbox LIVE Arcade, and PlayStation Network. The game is digitally distributed, with the PC edition available on the Konami Website. Word is: "As you progress through the adventure you will level up your character through a diverse skill tree full of magical and physical attacks. Players can collect a wide variety of weapons and armor by winning them in combat and purchasing them at vendors. Players can also venture into the depths of the many dungeons to search for rare and powerful items. Expanding on the already high replay value of the main storyline, players can challenge your friends to duels, level up your character in Quick Battles, or play Mini-Games to unlock new spells, items, or potions."

UK Truck Simulator Trial & Patch

A trial version of UK Truck Simulator is now available, offering a sample of this truck driving and business management sim where you drive on the wrong side of the road. The trial is actually the full game, which can be played for an hour for free before the purchase of a game key will be required to continue. The download is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls. There is also a new patch to update the retail boxed edition of the game to version 1.06 available on the UK Truck Simulator Website and mirrored on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Mac Secret of Monkey Island: SE Released

GameAgent now offers digital distribution of the Mac edition of The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. This requires an Intel CPU-based Mac and at least an ATI X1600 or NVIDIA GeForce 7300 graphics card.

The Settlers 7 Patch

A new patch is now available for The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom to update the strategy management sequel to version 1.03. There is an incremental version 1.02-1.03 patch on AtomicGamer, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying. There is also a full patch for any previous version on AtomicGamer, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying. The Settlers 7 Forums offer the patch notes, which follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Blood on GOG.com

The good old gamers at GOG.com now offer One unit whole Blood, which is what they are calling their Blood collection, which revives Monolith's stylized first person series in DRM-free form for modern systems. The collection includes the original Blood and Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage add-ons, and word is: "Experience the madness in one carnage-soaked package! All the gore, all the unholy war! Zombies, gargoyles, hellhounds and blood-crazed hordes of horrors await! Crush loathsome evil of the mighty Tchernobog! Or condemn yourself to eternal damnation in this leviathan of unhallowed gaming action!"

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: World's Largest Yacht Sports Lasers, Missile Defense System. Thanks Ant. Calling 007.

PC Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing Released

Steam News has word that the PC edition of The Passing DLC is now automatically available for free via Steam for owners of Left 4 Dead 2, the zombie shooter sequel. Word is the DLC "features 3 new maps, new weekly game modes (Mutations), a new 'uncommon common' zombie class (the fallen survivor), melee weapon (golf club), firearm (M-60), support for infected bot play in Versus, 10 new achievements and more!" To celebrate the release, Left 4 Dead 2 is on sale for 33% off through Monday.

StarCraft II Beta Patch

StarCraft II Beta Forum has patch notes for patch #9 for the StarCraft II beta, updating the test edition of the real-time strategy sequel to version 0.11.0.15097 (thanks StarcraftWire.net). The new version adds the StarCraft II editor, saying "Players will now be able to begin creating trigger maps in preparation for map publishing which will be made available in an upcoming beta patch." The full patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Zombie Driver Patch

A new patch for Zombie Driver is now available, though it's not yet posted on the downloads page for the game of undead motoring. The version 1.14 patch is available from AtomicGamer, FileFront, and The Patches Scrolls. As before, it is warned not to apply this to the Steam version of the game, which will get an automatic update separately. The patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Fallout MMOG Lawsuit Dropped

It seems the legal battle between Bethesda Softworks and Interplay has been settled, as Duck and Cover reports that Bethesda has dropped the appeal they filed after their quest for an injunction against Interplay's pursuit of a Fallout MMOG was denied. They presume Interplay's countersuit against Bethesda has been dropped as part of the deal, which apparently clears the way for Interplay's MMO Fallout game.

Ubisoft DRM Cracked?

Ubisoft's "always on" DRM has been defeated, according to a report on CNET, where they say a playable cracked version of Assassin's Creed II is now in the wild. All new Ubisoft PC games, including AC2, include internet-based validation that has caused problems playing games, but has been described by the publisher as "vital" to its business. It seems a little unusual for a mainstream site like CNET to post updates on pirated software, though Ubisoft's public denial of the previous report that their DRM was cracked has arguably set a precedent for this as a news topic. Thanks Joao.

Blizzard Appealing Korean StarCraft 2 Rating

Blizzard plans on appealing the "Adults Only" rating StarCraft II recently earned in Korea, reports Shacknews. Blizzard PR tells them the AO rating was based on an early build of the game and a newer build has already been submitted to "address the Game Ratings Board's concerns." They also report being told by lead producer Chris Sigaty that this should not delay the game beyond its planned mid-year release.

Field of Glory Patch

Matrix Games has the release of a new patch for Field of Glory, updating the turn-based tactical battle system to version 1.2.5. The patch adds two new battles (Otterburn and Towton), improvements to the multiplayer game interface, rule tweaks, additional documentation, and some bug fixes. Word is: "Please note that this update is incremental and will require that Field of Glory be updated to version 1.1.2. This update is also required for ongoing multiplayer play and will be required for the upcoming Storm of Arrows expansion, which adds the armies of Medieval Western Europe to the Field of Glory system."

Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing Details and Trailer

The Left 4 Dead Blog fleshes out how the weekly "Mutations" game mode will work in The Passing DLC for Left 4 Dead 2, saying these are: "week-long runs of new gameplay modes that range from 'Realism Versus' to 'Chainsaw Massacre'. Each week one new Mutation is featured and the previous Mutation retired." They outline the first such mutation, which is called Realism Versus, saying: "For this Mutation, Survivors have all the Realism changes working against them, no glows on items or survivors, tougher zombies, instant kill witches, etc. The Infected have all those changes working for them. This makes the Jockey one of the most powerful Specials for his ability to steer a Survivor out of view. You will want to make sure you have a working microphone so your teammates can hear your screams for help. This Mutation is only available in Versus." Also, to celebrate today's planned release of this new DLC for the survival shooter sequel, Valve offers a new trailer from the pack, as well as a ginormous poster. Confirming the release plans, the trailer concludes with the slightly premature (for the PC edition, at least) "get it now." The cinematic clip is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

GamePro - Gaming the Score: Metacritic. Thanks Mike Martinez.
Ken Levine, creative director at Irrational Games and designer of the original BioShock, thinks most people are afraid to admit it. "It scratches an itch we all obviously have as gamers," he says. "We could 'poo-poo' it and say, 'it's so bad,' but secretly we all want what Metacritic gives us."

BitMob - When Bad TED Talks Happen to Good People: Kellee Santiago Got it Wrong.
I realize that convincing Ebert to try a video game wasn't the intent of her TEDxUSC presentation. But please, don't call him out by name for the sake of making a headline with a presentation -- and if you do step up and outline an argument on behalf of our medium which may have widespread repercussions in the mainstream media, make it the best argument you can.

These opportunities don't come around every day.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy Earth Day, as today is the 40th anniversary of devoting 0.27% of the year to environmental concerns. Somewhat coincidentally, we just put a compost bin in the backyard of the BlueTower over the weekend after our village got a bulk discount from the folks that sell them. We don't really generate that much compostable waste, so we are not going to generate that much compost, either, but I do find the prospect of creating fertile soil out of waste very appealing as a science project.

Stalwart reader nin asks us to keep the victims of this oil rig blast in our thoughts, as he is close to the family of one of the missing workers who are going through a heart-wrenching time right now.

Earthy Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Curse Village Reawakening.
Beulah and the Hundred Birds.
It's A Monster.
Links: Plush Chainsaw.
Dexter Action Figure.
Stories: Treasury unveils new $100 bill.
James Cameron joins real-life 'Avatar' battle.
FEMA Flood Insurance Program Primarily Benefits The Wealthy: Study. Thanks Acleacius.
Science: Can green tech save the Earth? It won't be easy.
Sleep may cut childhood obesity. Thanks Acleacius.
Images: Not What I Meant By iTouch.
Surface Of The Sun PHOTO: Picture Reveals Star In Stunning Detail. Thanks Acleacius.
APOD- 2010 April 19 - Ash and Lightning Above an Icelandic Volcano. Thanks Justin.
Media: Real Life Portal Gun.
Master Business Card Thrower.
Follow-up: Avatar star Sam Worthington tipped as next James Bond.
Human Jawbone Grown From Stem Cells By Scientists At Columbia. Thanks Acleacius.
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