Archived News:

Friday, Jul 16, 2010 World Snake Day (Sorry Indy)

WSJ: StarCraft II Cost More Than $100M

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has an interesting game budget tidbit about StarCraft II, saying: "Blizzard's parent company, Activision Blizzard, has spent more than $100 million developing the computer-based game." Thanks GameSpot where they note that this figure represents development costs, and does not include the marketing budget for the real-time strategy sequel.

Mafia II DLC Plans

2K Games announces plans for two upcoming DLC packs for Mafia II, their open-world crime sequel. One pack is called The Betrayal of Jimmy which will be a PS3 launch-day exclusive. The other is called Jimmy’s Vendetta, which will be released at some point after for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Word is: "In Jimmy’s Vendetta, which will be available for PlayStation 3 system, Xbox 360 and PC, players will get their hands dirty helping Jimmy clean up other people’s messes. New city-based missions and locales will give players many new reasons to head back to Empire Bay. Jimmy’s Vendetta will offer more replay action and allow players to outrank friends as they rise to the top of the leaderboard. Details on pricing and availability for Jimmy’s Vendetta will be revealed at a later date."

The Old Republic Music, Sound, Comic, and Comic-Con Plans

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Website points to a new Music of The Old Republic trailer about the creation of the score for the upcoming Star Wars MMORPG using familiar music from the movies as well as new compositions. Continuing to show sound thinking, they also have a Sounds of The Old Republic Developer Blog on the game's audio. That's not all, as they also announce the seventh issue of Blood of the Empire, their online comic. Finally, this forum post begs for Facebook fans and Twitter followers, promising that if their lofty goals for each service are met, they will make a "cool reveal" at Comic-Con International.

WWII Online Patched, Welcome Back Plans

An update to the WWII Online: Battleground Europe Website outlines the new version patch that's now live in the MMO military shooter, clearing up some issues that remained after the release of version 1.31 and adding some new features (with a follow-up post describing a stats glitch that's now fixed). Speaking of new features, this blog post outlines plans to implement player-placed objects in the game. Finally, they promise details soon on a "promotion to invite past players to try out the update with a specially designed mini-campaign that will emulate the famous Battle of Monte Cassino."

Left 4 Dead 2 Mutation

The Left 4 Dead Blog announces the week 13 mutation for Left 4 Dead 2 is called Hard Eight, saying: "Face eight Special Infected at one time, this is double the standard number! And if that wasn’t trouble enough, we also increase the spawning frequency so it is raining Specials."

D2D Sales and MW2 Explanation

A sale on Direct2Drive offers all games from Kalypso for 50% off (except Disciples III: Renaissance). They also have The Scourge Project for 75% off. Also, they are now offering sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which is a reversal of policy, as they previously were unwilling to sell games like MW2 that require the use of Steam. Big Download contacted IGN to ask about this, and received the obvious explanation that this was due to user demand, and they say they will evaluate future games that require such third-party interaction on "a publisher by publisher basis."

New Wine

Wine is still not an emulator, but it is updated, as WineHQ offers the release of Wine version 1.2. Word is: "This release represents two years of development effort and over 23,000 changes. The main highlights are the support for 64-bit applications, and the new graphics based on the Tango standard." Thanks Ant.

QuakeCon BYOC Details

The Bethesda Blog has news from id's Marty Stratton about the BYOC area at QuakeCon 2010, saying: "any attendee who is a registered guest at the hotel under the QuakeCon 2010 room block for the 3 nights of the event (Thursday – Saturday nights) is guaranteed a spot in the BYOC." They also add: "If you haven’t done so already, you can reserve a room at the at the Hilton Anatole using the group rate for 'QuakeCon 2010'."

Free Alien Swarm & DLC Monday

Steam News reflects back on the two years since Valve hired the developers of Alien Swarm, saying they have not forgotten the game, and that in between other projects, the team spent a lot of time bringing the game to the Source engine. Their plan is to release the updated version on Monday for free, along with an SDK, saying: "In addition to the game, Valve will also release the complete code base for Alien Swarm. This includes updates to the Source engine SDK and full Steamworks integration. If you’ve ever thought about developing a mod on the Source engine with Steamworks, this release provides more insight and examples for using Steamworks in game production."

Fallout 3 DLC on Steam

The Bethesda Blog notes that Steam now offers sales of the individual DLC packs for Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: 5 Bitter Truths About Chocolate.

Blizzard Real ID FAQ

Though Blizzard backed off the plan to require the use of real names on their forums, other privacy-related concerns about the Real ID system have been coming up, so the World of Warcraft Forums now has an article posted by Blizzard to address questions they've been getting about how Real ID will operate. They explain they will be announcing a way to opt out of having your real name displayed on Real ID "friends of friends" lists, their efforts at protecting Real ID information from third-party add-ons, account security, how they do not currently have plans on being able to use aliases or handles in Real ID, their plans for Facebook integration and other social networking aspirations, and more.

EA Selling Ubisoft Stake

Electronic Arts is selling out some or all of the stake in Ubisoft it purchased in December 2004. According to Reuters, as of May 2010 EA owned a 14.8% stake in the French company, and while a Ubisoft spokesperson was unwilling to confirm whether EA was selling its entire interest in Ubisoft, they also say "a source close to Ubisoft" said Electronic Arts had given investment bank UBS a mandate to sell it all.

James Bond 007: Blood Stone Trailer

Here's the debut trailer for James Bond 007: Blood Stone, the just-announced James Bond action game in the works at Bizarre Creations. The clip is a sex-scene and a shaken vodka martini short of being a full Bond film, as it features the voices of Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench, a car chase in the Aston Martin, international terrorists, skydiving, hand-to-hand combat, helicopter attacks, gunfights, a speedboat chase, missile strikes, and Monty Norman's iconic Bond theme. Here's the embedded version. Continue here to read the full story.

A Game of Thrones: Genesis Announced

Focus Home Interactive announces they are publishing A Game of Thrones: Genesis, a new strategy game by Cyanide Studio (Pro Cycling Manager, Blood Bowl), based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels. Accompanied by a couple of pieces of panoramic artwork, the announcement says the game will require you to "match your political prowess with your strategic and military skills." Here's more:
"A Game of Thrones: Genesis" plunges you into the heart of the battles and intrigues between the Families that shaped the Kingdom of Westeros. However, victory does not necessarily result from brute force. The innovative game mechanics provide players with numerous paths to success: will you opt for a military, economic or diplomatic approach? Trickery, treachery and deceit are widespread and you will constantly have to watch your back if you want to avoid a bitter defeat! Peacefully or forcefully annex surrounding territories, besiege enemy castles, send spies to infiltrate behind enemy lines, assassinate trouble-making officers or capture them to ask for a ransom... When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground!

James Bond 007: Blood Stone Announced

Activision Publishing announces James Bond 007: Blood Stone, a quick confirmation of yesterday's rumor that a new Bond game is coming, saying it's a third-person action game due for release this holiday season. The announcement confirms everything from the rumor, as development of the game for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 is being handled by Bizarre Creations, the game "features the likeness and voice talent of Daniel Craig, Joss Stone and Judi Dench and features an epic, original story developed by legendary screenwriter Bruce Feirstein," and: "Joss Stone provides an original musical track to the game titled, 'I’ll Take it All' written and performed by her and Dave Stewart of the [sic] Eurythmics." Here are some screenshots along with photos confirming Joss Stone's bona fides as a Bond girl (and that she has a navel piercing), and here's a bit on the game:
Players can engage in cover-based firefights, lethal hand-to-hand combat and speed their way through explosive adrenaline-fueled driving sequences as they embark on a global chase leading to action on land and sea through Athens, Istanbul, Monaco and Bangkok. Gamers can also feel what it is like to be a 00 agent, as they take the battle online in several robust 16-person multi-player modes that require skill, teamwork and strategy as players compete in matches that will have spies battling mercenaries.

Aion Expansion in September

The free Assault on Balaurea expansion for Aion is expected on September 7, announces NCsoft, which is when updated retail boxes ("featuring exclusive in-game pets") for the MMORPG will be released in North America, while the new version is due at European retailers on September 10. Here's a bit on the expansion, and its pets with benefits: "In Aion: Assault on Balaurea, the exciting new chapter of Aion, characters have the ability to align together to launch massive counter assaults against the invading Balaur on their homeland while experiencing new and updated instances and zones, an increased level cap, new weapons and items, new skills and added flight mechanics. Characters will not be alone as they explore the new areas, as Aion introduces functional pets equipped with in-game benefits."

Breach Goes Hardcore

Atomic's Games announces a delay to the Xbox 360 edition of Breach, which they planned to release prior to the Windows edition of the upcoming military action game, but are now delaying its release until this January when it will come out alongside the PC version. The news is a bit unusual, as they say development of the game is actually complete, but after missing a window to get the game on XBLA in June, they made the decision to add in certain elements of the modified version of Breach used for military training, in particular, a more realistic "hardcore" mode. Here's how Atomic Games president Peter Tamte explains: "I've always said, we don't make simulations for the public and we don't make games for the government. However, we have come to realize there is a growing segment of the gaming population that wants to test these simulation systems out for themselves, which is why we're adding features, like a Hardcore mode, to Breach."

Pachter: Activision Should Charge for CoD Multiplayer

IndustryGamers quotes occasionally accurate industry analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities on declines in the gaming market. While many blame sagging game sales on a rough economy, Pachter believes the problem is gamers playing multiplayer games for free (which it seems they were also doing when game sales were more robust). He says all the time players spend on MW2, Halo, L4D, etc., "has sucked the available time away from what otherwise would be spent playing newly purchased games." Ignoring the failure of games like Hellgate: London that attempted to charge a premium for multiplayer play, he says this is what Activision must now do for the next CoD game: "We think that it is incumbent upon Activision, with the most popular multiplayer game, to take the first step to address monetization of multiplayer. It is too early to tell whether that will be a monthly subscription, tournament entry fees, microtransaction fees, or a combination of all three, but we expect to see the company take some action by year-end, when Call of Duty Black Ops launches."

Cliffski versus Epic

A post to Cliffski’s Blog has a reaction from Positech Games CEO Cliff Harris to an incident at the Develop conference where he says a panel discussion on "microstudios" like his one-man shop was heckled by Epic's Mark Rein, who made derisive comments after Cliffski cited one-on-one communications with customers as an advantage of being a small indie. This prompts Harris to call Rein a "jerk," and offer some criticisms of Epic's approach to the industry (concluding by telling them to "f**k off"). He explains why this got his goat so badly: "The only reason I’m moved to give a damn enough to state my opinion, is that I resent having some triple-a studio jerk come and tell someone whose run a microstudio for thirteen years that he is doing it all wrong. If Mark from introversion [sic] suggests I’m doing it wrong, thats [sic] cool, he does what I do, and has some serious experience, ditto anyone on that panel, or anyone with long indie experience."

Rift Class Interview

Ten Ton Hammer gets classy with Scott Hartsman, chatting with the Chief Creative Officer of Trion Redwood Shores Studio about the class system in Rift: Planes of Telera, their upcoming fantasy-themed MMORPG. He goes into their Soul system, and how the ability to control multiple souls makes the nature of a player's character open to more variety than more traditional class systems. Thanks Cutter.

Future Wars on Steam, On Sale

Future Wars on is now available through Steam, offering a sci-fi strategy game described as similar games like Advance Wars and Battle Isle. To celebrate the game's arrival on Valve's digital service, it is being offered at a 20% discount for the next week.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Thank you Cutter, for pointing the way to this article on composting, which helped me understand that I probably need to add more "brown" stuff like dried leaves and straw to the mix to help fight my insect problem. The sad thing is with the weather so dry and hot lately, finding brown leaves to add is probably going to be easier than it should be in the middle of summer.

Brown Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Moose to the Moon.
Five Minutes to Kill (Yourself) Reloaded.
Links: The World's Weirdest PC Game Controllers.
Robocop Ran DOS.
Stories: Man Fined $2,000 For Taking Garbage From Sidewalk. Thanks Digg.
Science: A Scientist Takes On Gravity (registration required).
8 totally awesome natural phenomena you probably didn’t know about.
Mona Lisa painting gives up more secrets to science.
Images: Warhammer 40K Potato Head.
China Enters the Giant Robot Statue Race.
APOD: 2010 July 14 - Easter Island Eclipse.
Media: FERRIS CLUB: Ferris Bueller’s Cameron vs. Fight Club.
Penn and Teller on Jonathan Ross. NSFW.
The Funnies: Dear Slinky - The Oatmeal.
Follow-up: Recycled Island will be created from plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean. Thanks Slashdot.
US army heat-ray gun in Afghanistan.
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