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Thursday, Jul 08, 2010

  

Team Fortress 2 Engineer Update Live

The Team Fortress 2 Blog announces the promised Engineer update is now live, offering robot arms, mini-sentries, and other goodies for the Engineer class in the teamplay shooter. Steam News has the related patch notes for an auto-update for TF2 as well as Counter-Strike: Source and Day of Defeat: Source. The patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Spartan Revealed

The former Age Of Empires developers at Robot Entertainment are working on a strategy game called Spartan, reports Kotaku, who say they've gotten indications that it has a lot in common with AoE. The company's newly relaunched website has word that they are working on an unannounced game for Microsoft Game Studios, though it's not clear if this will be for the PC at this point. Thanks joao.

Evochron Mercenary Announced

StarWraith announces Evochron Mercenary for release this fall to complete the Evochron series of space combat games. Thanks Big Download, where they say the game will include an all-new graphics engine. This trailer shows off a bit of the game.

Numen Demo Planned, But No Sequel

The Steam Users' Forums have word that there will not be any sequels or expansions for Numen: Contest of Heroes in answer to a user's question. Word is: "Master Jacques, we are really glad that you like our game. But no, I think that there will be no expansions or sequels to Numen." In a bit of more positive news, the answer to another question says a demo is to be expected at some point: "Yes, there will definitely be an English demo for Numen. We are working on it (it won't be difficult, because there is already a Czech demo out there), but no release date has been set for it yet." Thanks Gamer's Hell.

Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter Weekend and Sale Underway

Steam News announces the promised free weekend for Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter is now underway. Likewise the 50% off sale on the game is now running. The free weekend ends Sunday at 4:00 pm EDT, and the sale ends Monday at 1:00 pm EDT.

Ships Ahoy - King Arthur - The Saxons

Steam News announces the release of King Arthur - The Saxons, new downloadable content for NeoCore's King Arthur - The Role-playing Wargame. The DLC is $17.99 USD, and word is: "King Arthur: The Saxons is a sandbox expansion where you lead the warriors of Christianity, the Saxons against the tides of pagans and the gathering darkness." Here's a bit more: "A brand new campaign with 30+ hours of gameplay where you take the role of the Saxon king. The campaign is set during the events of King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame, but it follows a stand-alone story with a different ruler."

Mafia II Specifications

The Mafia II Website has the minimum and recommended system requirements for the upcoming life-of-crime sequel. The full list follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Aliens vs Predator Patched

A new patch for Aliens vs Predator is now automatically available on Steam to update the shooter sequel with a couple of balance tweaks and bug fixes. The patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Guild Wars 2 "Defeat" Explained

There's a post on healing and death on the Guild Wars 2 Website where ArenaNet designer Jon Peters explains how death and resurrection will work in Guild Wars 2. He explains that defeated players will be downed, but not dead: "Rather than being presented with immediate failure, when a player loses all of their health in Guild Wars 2, they are put into "downed mode." In this mode, the player has a number of downed skills they can use to target enemies and fight for a chance to survive. A downed player can still be attacked, which will send them into a defeated state, leaving them to either wait for an ally to resurrect them or to resurrect at a waypoint." Thanks Guild Wars 2 Slovenija. On related notes, PC Gamer has an article on this, describing plans to scrap healers and tanks, and German site gamona has an English translation of an interview with Eric Falnnum on the subject.

Back to the Future Survey

The Telltale Games Blog has a survey asking people what they would like to see included in their upcoming Back to the Future game. They stress that they are making "no promises," so "please don’t take any questions here as commitments on what we may or may not do!" Thanks Big Download.

Football Manager 2010 Sale

Steam announces as sale on Football Manager 2010 in honor of the World Cup. The association football/soccer simulation is 25% off through midday Monday.

It Came from E3 2010, Part 36

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Will It Blend?: Vuvuzela. Thanks Ant.

Korean Law Behind Real ID Changes?

A post on law blog Zeroday offers an interesting take on Blizzard's Real ID program, and the recent revelation that this would require StarCraft II forum users to use their real names. The author points out that Korean law may be the motivation for this policy, as StarCraft's popularity in Korea is obviously an important consideration. Word is: "I’m going to make the suggestion that South Korea’s Real Name System is a driving force behind this decision. In 2009 South Korea’s government created a law that was meant to curb online defamation by insisting that all users who comment on sites with greater than 100,000 users per day must use their real name." Thanks Joker961 via Kotaku.

Firaxis Firings

Approximately 20 employees at Civilization V developer Firaxis have been let go, reports Kotaku, having confirmed this with Firaxis parent company 2K Games. "I can confirm that Firaxis has realigned its development resources in order to streamline its development process, reduce costs and maximize the overall performance the studio," 2K global PR director Markus Wilding told them. "This will result in the elimination of approximately 20 positions. These reductions will not impact Firaxis' ability to create and deliver AAA titles, including its forthcoming Sid Meier's Civilization V and Sid Meier's Civilization Network for Facebook." They add an unconfirmed rumor to the mix, saying they've also heard that Jesse Smith was let go last month, calling him "a producer on both Civilization IV and a yet-to-be-named secret project." Thanks joao.

Dragon Age II Character Changes

BioWare officially announces Dragon Age II, saying the just revealed fantasy-themed RPG sequel is scheduled for release in March 2011 for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. It turns out the sequel will not feature the character customization of the original Dragon Age: Origins, and like Mass Effect 2 will limit the player to choosing between a male or female version of the human character. Word is: "Dragon Age 2 thrusts players into the role of Hawke, a penniless refugee who rises to power to become the single most important character in the world of Dragon Age. Known to be a survivor of the Blight and the Champion of Kirkwall, the legend around Hawke’s rise to power is shrouded in myth and rumor. Featuring an all-new story spanning 10 years, players will help tell that tale by making tough moral choices, gathering the deadliest of allies, amassing fame and fortune, and sealing their place in history. The way you play will write the story of how the world is changed forever." A discussion on the BioWare Social Network (thanks nin via Kotaku) confirms the situation, which has lead to some outcry with fans unhappy with the change. The announcement is accompanied by a couple of pieces of concept art.

King's Bounty Online Announced

KranX Productions and Nival Group each reveal plans for King's Bounty Online, an MMOG installment in the King's Bounty RPG series. The announcements are in Russian, and at this point there is no indication of their plans for releasing the game elsewhere. Here's a portion, translated through the help of Google: "King's Bounty Online is created with all the features and the rich possibilities of social networking ZZima.com. Among them - access to all projects through a single account, users communicate with each other, clustering, and more. With gaming and social networking ZZima.com online game King's Bounty Online Millions of players for the first time in the history of the series will be able to participate together in exciting journeys and adventures in the world of King's Bounty in 2011." Thanks Gamer's Hell.

Disciples III: Renaissance Demo

A playable demo is now available for Disciples III: Renaissance, the turn-based tactical RPG sequel. Word is "Disciples III: Renaissance Demo contains the game's tutorial level, along with one complete mission level for each of the game's factions (Elven Alliance, Legions of the Damned and The Empire)." The nearly 4 GB download can be found on AtomicGamer, FanGaming, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and WorthPlaying.

Dragon Age II Revealed

August Cover Revealed on GameInformer.com shows their upcoming coverage of Dragon Age II, a sequel to BioWare's fantasy-themed RPG. Word is: "Last year, BioWare and EA introduced gamers to a vast new fantasy world with Dragon Age: Origins. Now, after an expansion and plenty of DLC, the renowned RPG developer is ready to unveil the next chapter in the Dragon Age saga. Dragon Age II is a full-fledged sequel, featuring a new hero, a different part of the world, and a ton of surprising improvements that will shed even more light on the lore of the Dragon Age universe. You can learn all the details in our exclusive 10-page cover story in issue 208." A Dragon Age II Website is now live, offering some concept art, and promising the debut trailer will be released on August 17.

Divinity II – The Dragon Knight Saga Announced

Focus Home Interactive announces Divinity II – The Dragon Knight Saga, an upcoming bundle of Divinity II – Ego Draconis and the previously announced Flames of Vengeance expansion for Larian's RPG sequel. This will be released for Windows and Xbox 360 in October of this year, and word is the graphics in the Ego Draconis are being remastered for the new version: "Divinity II – The Dragon Knight Saga includes the original adventure “Ego Draconis”, and “Flames of Vengeance”, the Dragon Knight's new adventure that continues the epic story and adds dozens of hours of additional gameplay. Divinity II – Ego Draconis appears here as an entirely new and re-mastered edition with improved graphics and content that make the game even more beautiful and more impressive than ever before!" The announcement is accompanied by this batch of screenshots.

FIFA 11 PC Announced

EA Sports announces plans for the PC edition of FIFA 11, the next installment in their association football/soccer simulation. Saying the PC edition is two years in development, they state "the console game engine has been optimised for PC, delivering next generation console-quality gameplay, game modes and visuals to FIFA 11 PC." The news includes a doubled-up screenshot, and here's more on the game:

The physics-based, data-driven technology behind the EA SPORTS football engine has been optimised for PC to deliver true freedom on the pitch with individuality of player control and movement, sophisticated ball touches, and physical interaction between players. FIFA 11 PC will feature the market-leading true 360° dribbling system that gives players precise control of the ball and next generation animation technology that delivers Skilled Dribbling, enabling skilled dribblers to face defenders and use highly responsive lateral dribbling to skip past them. Plus, Physical Play has been improved using collision sharing, creating a varied, less predictable, and extended fight for possession between players.

StarCraft II Beta Phase Two Begins

The Battle.net Forums have word that yesterday's new StarCraft II beta client was indeed an indication that another round of beta testing for the real-time strategy sequel was coming. Phase two is now underway, and will run through July 19, leaving a narrow one week window before the game's scheduled July 27 release. Word is: "As stated previously, all data from beta phase one has been reset. This includes characters, match history, ladder rankings, and achievements. Beta participants will therefore need to recreate their characters and, if joining matchmaking games, complete a new series of placement matches." Thanks Ke.

Aquaria Source Code Released

The Infinite Ammo Blog has a post from last month announcing the release of the source code to Aquaria as promised, based on the success of the Humble Indie Bundle. Word is: "In any case, hopefully some people will find the code useful, and hopefully some will manage to improve it." Thanks Ant via LinuxGames.

Team Fortress 2 Engineer Day 3

The Team Fortress 2 Blog has a "day three" update leading to today's planned release of the Team Fortress 2 Engineer update. They offer a shot of a map named after a character in the greatest movie series of all time, and promise more goodies, saying to expect more wrenches as well as "a community-made surprise."

Sword of the Stars II Trailer

A new teaser trailer from Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter shows off Kerberos Productions' upcoming 4X strategy sequel. Here's the brief description of what the clip depicts: "In the trailer, the Lords of Winter have spread doom over an Argos Naval Yard with a surprise attack. But this time, The Lords of Winter may be you."

Op Ed

Thanks Ant.

Hellmode - Why Real ID is a Really Bad Idea.
This is a horrible idea. Forcing people to sign real life name to a forum post is problematic on a basic level. The internet is largely what it is because of its anonymity–for better and for worse. Many great discussions have been had solely because someone could submit their words without worry of being judged. While it’s unavoidable that some people use anonymity to grief others, they aren’t as large factor on forums as heavily moderated as Blizzard’s. When Blizzard offers that requiring the inclusion of real life names will make gamers more civil and promote polite discussion, I must wonder if they’ve seen most gamers. The ones who played by the rules–who will sign at the dotted x on every forum post–were never the ones who were meant to be civilized. In fact, they are the ones being punished by this new system.

IGN - The Case for More Violent Games.
Consider games like GTA IV, Uncharted 2, BioShock, Red Dead Redemption, and Fallout 3, and you might be led to the opposite conclusion. To appreciate the characters and stories in these games you've got to look through a thicket of violence, which often chokes the believability from the polygonal dramas waiting to play out on the other side. But the blood spurts and rag dolls are illusions designed for repeatability and player convenience. They sometimes look and sound like violence, but rarely do they feel violent for more than a few minutes. Games have gotten as far as making killing an interactive option, but few have pushed into what it might actually mean to take a life by force.

Hellmode - Fallout’s Forgotten Revolution.
But what happens during the day, between the time when the Vault Dweller walks out into the wastes and returns home thereafter is completely up to the player. The player’s footprint has a visible impact in the wasteland sand. In the protagonist’s shoes, your choices are only ever limited by objective reasons within the narrative, which are never arbitrary.

If anything, Fallout is a forgotten revolution, and it’s about time that someone else picked up the torch. After so many false revolutions, the genre deserves a new champion.

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well tonight is going to be like Christmas for fans of an NBA franchise, as LeBron James will show up under some team's tree. I am among the Knicks fans that have been dreaming that the king will move his court to Madison Square Garden, but the way things are playing out, I think it's going to be a worst-case scenario for the Knicks, as it looks like he is probably heading to Miami. Oh well, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Cavalier Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Icosien.
Alien Roll.
Zom TV.
Links: LeVar Burton's Comic Book Debut- 'Con-CERNed'. Thanks Digg.
The 42 Greatest Old Spice Commercials of All Time.
How to Mow a Lawn Tips. Thanks Digg.
Stories: Tired Gay succumbs to Dix in 200 meters. Thanks Huffington Post.
Papers reveal Nixon plan for North Korea nuclear strike.
Science: Link between inactivity and obesity queried.
How an ultrasonic blast can restore a man's virility.
Happy moments 'protect the heart'.
Images: 11 sci-fi, fantasy and horror characters drawn on Etch A Sketches. Thanks Digg.
Toys and memories for an 80s child. Thanks Digg.
Media: Cardboard Warfare. Thanks FLY.
Big Bang, Big Boom.
Wrench.
Auction: Turner masterpiece sold for £30m record at auction.
The Funnies: Brevity.
Follow-ups: Solar-powered plane lands safely after 26-hour flight.
Recovery effort falls vastly short of BP's promises.
BP's Big Ad Buys: At least $5.6 Million.
Porn Star, Promises World Cup Oral Sex To Twitter Followers. Thanks scorcese.fan.



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