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Wednesday, Jan 05, 2011


Ships Ahoy - Angry Birds

The Intel AppUp center now offers the Windows edition of Angry Birds, the birds, pigs, and slingshot game which has proven quite popular with mobile gamers. The PC version supports Windows 7 and Windows XP, and sells for $4.99 USD. Thanks Big Download via Rock Paper Shotgun.

Gemini Wars Announced

Camel 101 announces development of Gemini Wars, an upcoming real-time strategy game set in space featuring an epic campaign involving fleets of ships in massive battles where the player is a fleet commander rising through the ranks of the United Space Federation forces. The Gemini Wars Website is online with a cinematic teaser trailer. They promise further details soon, and for now offer the following feature list:

  • 3 Unique factions, with different units and strategies.
  • Epic single player campaign.
  • Ability to control fleets of starships, space stations and planets.
  • Research tree leading to powerful units and upgrades.
  • Cinematic battle camera
  • Multiplayer action providing endless re-playability.
  • Unique gameplay providing a refreshing twist to the RTS genre.

Shafer to Stardock Follow-up

Stardock sends along a confirmation of the news that ex-Firaxis designer Jon Shafer has joined their company, to help lead their design and modding efforts, saying: "Shafer will bring additional modding expertise to the recently launched Elemental: War of Magic and will take the lead in designing the next as-of-yet unannounced Stardock title." Stardock also states this bolsters their commitment to continue to support Elemental: War of Magic. "With Elemental, Stardock essentially developed an incredible new game engine optimized for the creation of PC strategy games," said Shafer. "I’m excited to take on a leadership role at Stardock and help the company extend the ability for modders to take this engine and be able to create dramatically different games."

Mytheon Closed Beta Relaunching this Month

Big Download has a press release from UTV True Games announcing closed beta testing for Mytheon will resume later this month, saying they have moved development of their upcoming multiplayer RPG in house. Here's word:

"First and foremost we are committed to improving the overall user experience for Mytheon," said UTV True Games' Director of Product Development, Peter Cesario. "We received great feedback from our beta testers regarding certain issues they were experiencing and optimizing these areas is our top goal as we head towards our official launch."

To reward loyal Beta testers from the previous Beta period, UTV True Games wants them to be among the first to experience the upcoming beta. The company will contact previous beta testers via email with exclusive keys and in-game rewards in the coming weeks leading up to Closed Beta period so these players can use their previously created accounts to have a first look at the improvements that have been made to the game.

DC Universe Online End of Beta Event

"Battle of the Legends" events are taking place this evening place to wrap up the closed beta testing of DC Universe Online, SOE's upcoming PC/PS3 MMORPG. Word is: "Based on the events revealed this summer in our "Who Do You Trust?" cinematic trailer, Beta players can align and fight alongside or against some of DC Comics' most legendary heroes and villains, including Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor and The Joker. Join us and take this last shot at creating your legacy! Become part of this epic conflict when it erupts on your server." For those not participating, the DC Universe Online Facebook page will have a live stream of the festivities. A complete list of events, which will involve comics legend Jim Lee, follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Zombie Driver Patch

A new patch is now available for Zombie Driver to update the game of undead motoring to version 1.2.6. The new version address three audio problems, and carries a warning not to install it for the Steam edition of the game, which will update automatically. The download is available from AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Zynga and Activision Sued over Game Tourney Patent

Gamasutra reports on a lawsuit against Zynga and Activision Blizzard over a gaming patent for distributed electronic tournaments filed by Walker Digital, parent of, the discount airfare and hotel room site. Word is the patent covers "a method and a system for a distributed electronic tournament system in which many remotely located players participate in a tournament through input/output devices connected to a central controller which manages the tournament." They say: "The lawsuit alleges that Activision Inc., Activision Publishing, Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, and Zynga have released a total of 24 products infringing on that patent, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, Blur, Wolfenstein, DJ Hero 2, Golden Eye 007, World of Warcraft and its expansions, Mafia Wars, and many others."

Quote of the Day

Intel's new second-generation i7 Sandy Bridge CPU "allows for a console-like experience on the PC." -- Valve Managing Director Gabe Newell.

Op Ed

1Up - Why Star Wars- The Old Republic Might Already Be Too Late. Thanks Mike Martinez via Slashdot.
And it goes beyond play mechanics as well. The success of World of WarCraft over the years has driven many publishers into the realm of browser-based and microtransaction-driven MMOs with varying degrees of success, to say nothing of the explosion of ultra-casual MMOs like Farmville. It's difficult to imagine The Old Republic working as a free-to-play MMORPG, but the point is that the genre is clearly moving in a number of different directions. It's entirely possible that World of WarCraft has sucked the oxygen out of the market for subscription-based MMOs, leaving even massive games like The Old Republic with no room to grow.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

It Came from CES 2011, Part 2

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Modern Warfare Prequel Rumor

A post on this is reports a rumor that Infinity Ward's next installment in the Call of Duty series will be a prequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that will focus on the back-story for Ghost. They attribute this to a "source within the industry," saying this source has been accurate on several other tips in the past. Word is: "players will revisit locations from both Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2, but this time from a different viewpoint," adding that this rumored game will use the same engine as Modern Warfare 2. They also say it "will not be released this year under the title of Modern Warfare 3," though that wording doesn't make it clear if they are referring to the release date, the title, or both. Thanks Eurogamer.

Dawn of War II: Retribution's New Race

Dawn of War II Website has word that print coverage of Dawn of War II: Retribution is now available on newsstands, saying this reveals "the inclusion of an all new race with a distinctly Imperial feel" in the real-time strategy expansion. A post on their forums says this will be the Imperial Guard, with several of the posts that follow dismissing this as old news.

Homefront Video Diary

Fight For Freedom is a third video developer diary from Homefront, offering thoughts from the developers at KAOS Studios on their upcoming first-person shooter. They discuss the goals of the single-player game, how different it is to have citizens as protagonists rather than trained soldiers, the consequences of the game's violence, character details, the supporting cast, depicting occupied America, and more.

More Raven Call of Duty Speculation

A help wanted ad from Raven Software for a Lead FX Artist adds further credence to the rumor that the Activision-owned studio is working on a Call of Duty game. Word is: "Raven Software, developer of numerous award-winning games, including X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Wolfenstein and Singularity, is seeking a lead visual effects artist to drive the development of stunning visual effects for an established console-based, realistic, first-person military shooter." Thanks MCV, where they note that the Call of Duty series is Activision's only series that fits that description.

EA Server Shutdowns

EA announces its nearly annual list of online servers that are being shutdown (thanks Eurogamer). Word is The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth PC servers closed on December 31 as their licensing deal with Middle-earth Enterprises is expiring. They also announce The Sims Carnival will go offline on January 17, saying: "After January 16th 2011, you will not be able to access any content from The Sims Carnival. Any games that you may have created or modified or other content that you have created on the website will no longer be available to you. Also any embedded links to games on The Sims Carnival website will no longer function. We thank you for playing with us on The Sims Carnival. We hope you've enjoyed the site as much as we have and that we'll see you again in another great EA game!" Finally, they list a number of EA Sports game servers that will shutdown on February 8, with the closure of servers for Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 09 for Wii to follow on March 1, offering the following explanation:

As background information, the EA SPORTS™ games scheduled for shutdown in February and March 2011 represent roughly 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles. Despite some people's perception, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these older games up and running. We would rather our hard-working engineering and IT staff focus on keeping a positive experience for the other 99% of customers playing our more popular games. These decisions to retire games is never easy. The development teams and operational staff pour their hearts into these games almost as much as the customers playing them and it is hard to see one retired. We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the games and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.

THQ and Mattel Games

THQ and Mattel announce they are partnering to create video games based on Mattel's toy properties such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price. Word is: "The two companies said Wednesday that the multi-year agreement will also allow them to expand the video game capabilities of product lines including Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Masters of the Universe and Polly Pocket." They say this will include games for consoles and handheld systems, personal computers, mobile devices, social networks, and online gaming portals, with the first Mattel games expected for this year's holiday season.

New World of Warcraft Mobile Armory has details on a new version of the World of Warcraft Mobile Armory, a mobile app for iPhone and iPod touch that allows access to the official Armory database from anywhere you have a mobile connection, featuring much of the functionality of the Armory website. The new version has UI improvements and an updated look, and adds support for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Thanks Ant.

West and Zampella's Costly Legal Battle

The lawsuit by former Infinity Ward bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West against Activision and Activision's countersuit are proving costly to the pair, especially as Activision seeks to include EA in the legal proceedings over the formation of Respawn Entertainment. Kotaku has new legal documents from the case where West and Zampella complain that Activision knew of EA's involvement six months before attempting to add them to the suit, saying that Activision is deliberately attempting to delay the case from its scheduled May start. Stating they are paying for this litigation from their own funds, West and Zampella say their legal costs have now exceeded their combined annual salaries, and that "any delay of the trial in this lawsuit would increase the financial and non-financial burdens and would continue to distract us from running our business and earning a living."

Homefront Interview

The Homefront interview on Computer and Video Games chats with Jeremy Greiner of KAOS Studios about Homefront, their upcoming shooter where the United States attempts to combat a North Korean invasion. They discuss the game's environments, the consequences of your actions, morality, comparisons with other first-person shooters, possible backlash from their subject matter, the possibility of follow ups like Homefront London or Homefront Reykjavik, and the game's refreshing lack of zombies.

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

It Came from CES 2011, Part 1

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Morning Legal Briefs

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

My most recent batch of chili produced more than a gallon of output, but this is gone already, as we brought two quarts to our friends' house last week (which we shared in), and MrsBlue brought a quart to her office to share with coworkers. This is strengthening my resolve to get a pressure cooker so I can make larger batches and home can them, so we don't run out so quickly. One of my younger friends has kidded me that talk of home canning makes me officially old (I'm pretty sure my birth certificate did that already), but I'm looking forward to canning anyway.

Canned Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Champions of Chaos.
Blue Archer 2.
Gravity Guy.
Links: The First Moonwalk.
Mad Men vs. Firefly.
Stories: Real-Life Superhero Walks Streets, Fighting Crime. Thanks Boing Boing.
Don't fancy a pint? UK introduces new beer size. Thanks Neutronbeam.
500 birds found dead in Louisiana and Swedish birds 'scared to death': veterinarian. Thanks Digg.
Science: Girl, 10, becomes youngest to discover supernova.
New material blocks light from exhibiting diffraction.
Images: Mario Hits Hollywood.
After a Day of Slaying Dragons I Check My Email.
Mario Bento.
Media: Forgotten 80s Nintendo Games. Thanks nin.
8-Bit NES Season's Greetings in LEGO.
Eva Mendes Sex Tape. Thanks viperfour.
Homeless man w/golden radio voice in Columbus, OH. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Auction: MAGFest Holding Child's Play Charity Auction.
Follow-up: Solar Eclipse 2011 Photos.
Bye Bye Blackbirds in Arkansas, Louisiana.

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