Archived News:

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011

Game Health Warning Legislation, Take 3

Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto, CA.) is taking another stab at forcing video games to carry health warnings, reports GamePolitics. The Congressman previously tried to pass such legislation in 2003 and again in 2009, calling his new bill "The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011." Word is this would call for any game rated teen or higher to carry the following: "WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior."

Custom StarCraft II Games Beta has details on three new custom games now undergoing beta testing in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Blizzard's real-time strategy sequel. There are details and screenshots on a collection/cooking free-for-all for up to eight players called Aiur Chef, a puzzle/strategy game for up to four players called StarJeweled, and a two-player co-op survival and siege game called Left 2 Die.

Dungeons Multiplayer "Possible"

The Dungeons interview on Hooked Gamers talks with Christian Wolfertstetter of Realmforge Studios about Dungeons, Realmforge's upcoming strategy game. Topics include similarities to Dungeon Keeper, the game's resource system, character progressions, AI, plans to refine and release their level editor, and more. When asked about multiplayer support, Christian explains why it is "possible" this will be added to the game after release, saying: "The initial release will – sadly – have no multiplayer, since we wanted to focus on a great single player experience. However, the code base is multiplayer oriented, so it's possible to integrate it later in the game. That depends on our publisher, Kalypso, however. At the moment there are no specific plans as how multiplayer will work."

Earthrise Roadmap

The Earthrise Website has a roadmap for Masthead Studios' upcoming MMORPG. They explain what features will be live when Earthrise launches on February 4, plans to add exploration rewards later in February, plans to open Siege territories, add new combat skills, and add crafting blueprints in March, plans to add vehicles in April, and monster-patrolled resource mines later this year. They also discuss plans for a graphics engine update in March.

Disney Cuts Confirmed

The Canadian Press has a confirmation of layoffs at The Walt Disney Company, as they shift focus away from console games and towards mobile and social games. They do not specify how many positions were lost, but they confirm cuts at Junction Point Studios, and call the moves "part of setting a strategic direction for future success in the digital media space."

Gatherings & Competitions

  • AgendaStats is now the official tournament provider for Global Agenda.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Save the Uranium-233, Explore Space, Save Lives. Thanks Kxmode.

King's Quest III Redux Announced

AGDInteractive Studio announces King's Quest III Redux, a remake of the adventure sequel in the same vein as their remakes of its forebears, Kings Quest I: Quest for the Crown and King’s Quest II: Romancing the Stones. A new King's Quest III Redux - To Heir is Human Teaser Page offers a few screenshots for this, and this forum post has more on the project, which has been underway for eight years now, concluding with word that "it’s almost ready!" That post also explains the level of fidelity to the original this is shooting for: "So what is it? And why call it Redux? We figured calling it KQ3VGA (after KQ1VGA) or KQ3+ (after KQ2+) wouldn’t describe the game well, because the game lies somewhere in between both extremes. It’s not a 1:1 remake like KQ1VGA is, nor is it a major reworking like KQ2+ where many characters’ roles were spun around. The underlying plot remains the same, but many existing elements have been given more personality and polish. A few new elements were added, but not on KQ2’s scale. So we gave the game its own unique moniker."

Pachter vs. Gamer's Voice

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter has issued a response to Gamers' Voice after they reacted to him calling them a "cry baby" over their efforts at calling out Activision to the UK government over unhappiness at the shipping state of Call of Duty: Black Ops for the PC and PS3. Pachter's missive is posted on Computer and Video Games (thanks Joao), where the admittedly "arrogant" analyst seems interested in a war of words on this topic. Here's an excerpt from his 953(!) word response:
"Now that I have had the opportunity to take their comments into consideration, I think that I may have insulted all crybabies by using that word to describe Gamers' Voice. They seem genuinely unaware about standards for product performance in the UK and elsewhere; products must perform adequately, not flawlessly, unless there are safety or health concerns.

"As far as I am aware, none of the bugs in Black Ops cause people to have seizures, so I'm pretty sure that health is not a concern. I am also not aware of any issues with safety, unless the Gamers' Voice organization is concerned that the overweight segment of the gaming population might suffer if they have to arise from the sofa to re-boot their PS3s when they seize up.

Magicka Patched

Steam News announces the availability of a new patch to automatically update Magicka to address some of the issues with the just released action/adventure game. This comes shortly after Paradox informed Rock, Paper, Shotgun that such a patch was in the works and that the game would be receiving new patches approximately every 24 hours to address any other problems that crop up. The change list follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Dead Space 2

EA announces the release of Dead Space 2 in North America, saying the survival/horror shooter sequel is due in Europe on January 28. Word is: "Dead Space 2 pushes the limits of action, horror and terror. After mysteriously awaking in a sprawling, massive city anchored to one of Saturn’s moons, hero Isaac Clarke again finds himself thrust into the middle of a relentless Necromorph outbreak. Surrounded by the screeching cries of undead monsters and the haunting drum of echoing noises, Isaac plots a course through The Sprawl. Dead Space 2 is noted by critics worldwide for delivering an epic terror experience that takes players on an explosive thrill ride filled with intense action and spine-tingling scares through deep space." Visceral Games also announces Dead Space 2: Severed, a DLC pack for consoles, though this does not sound like it's destined for PCs at this point.

Love Price Drop

A Craigslist-style update on the Love Website outlines a large number of changes that are now live in this offbeat indie MMOG. Included is word that the subscription price for the game is now 10 euros for six months, where it was formerly 10 euros per month. Thanks VG247.

Magicka and Demo Now Available

Paradox Interactive announces that Magicka is now available via Steam, offering Arrowhead Studios' action/adventure game in a setting based on Norse mythology, which they describe as a "parody and satire of a clichéd fantasy world." A playable demo is also available, and here's word on the game: "Developed by Arrowhead studios, Magicka throws players into a realm filled with hordes of ogres, goblins, and other monsters you've seen countless times in games and movies throughout the last 50 years. Explore the land alone or cooperatively as you and your "friends" battle through the masses to save the world and be mocked incessantly by the entire population when you perish trying to do so. Put your robe on and get ready to do lots of prancing around in the forest!" The Magicka release trailer shows off the game. The feature list follows. Continue here to read the full story.

MicroVolts Beta Resumes Friday

Rock Hippo Productions plans a second and final round of closed beta testing for MicroVolts, their upcoming toy-themed, third-person teamplay shooter. The testing will resume this Friday, January 28, and players interested in participating should sign up for a beta key at the MicroVolts Website, where they can also register for a free-for-all tournament that will begin Saturday, February 5. "The MicroVolts community flourished during the fall of 2010 and we are excited to kick off the new year with a special beta and great events," said Howard He, President of Rock Hippo Productions. "The MicroVolts fans have helped shape and mold the game as it gets ready for launch and now we are asking them to join us in this final closed beta as we get closer to that special day." A new Welcome to Our Playground trailer celebrates the news, and the embedded version follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Dragon Age II Unlocks in Dragon Age Legends

The BioWare Blog has details on Dragon Age Legends, the upcoming Dragon Age Facebook game that ties in with Dragon Age II, EA's role-playing sequel. The game will allow players to unlock loot for Dragon Age II, and they offer details on each of the five items, saying they will explain how the unlocking works in a future update.

Age Of Empires Online Details

There are new Age Of Empires Online details on Gamasutra where they explain the business model of the upcoming MMORTS game, supplementing the info in the Age of Empires Online FAQ. The game will be free-to-play, and will feature persistent civilizations that can be cultivated over time. Players will also be able to purchase Premium Civilization upgrades to unlock all of a civilization's abilities at once, including special "star techs" abilities on its tech tree. The game will also offer sales of cosmetic vanity items and microtransaction "booster" packs, offering new quests or gameplay types. Prices for these microtransactions and premium upgrades have not been revealed yet.

More Games to Use the Skyrim Engine

Pete Hines says the "creation" engine from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be finding its way into future Bethesda games, reports VG247 from their ever-upcoming interview with the Bethesda PR maven. "Yeah, I mean obviously, whatever Bethesda Game Studios works on after Skyrim will take advantage of the tech that they have developed," he told them. "But what that next product is or what it’s going to be? Everybody’s gonna have to wait and see."

UK Group Reports Call of Duty: Black Ops

An open letter from Gamers' Voice to the OFT regarding Activision follows up on this gamer advocacy group's promise to report Activision to the UK's Office of Fair Trading over bugs in the PC and PS3 editions of Call of Duty: Black Ops. The group also fires back at occasionally accurate industry analyst Michael Pachter saying they sound like a "cry baby," saying: "His comments are inaccurate, inflammatory and insulting to computer and video game consumers." Here's the list of multiplayer problems that spurred their action:

  • Sudden disconnections from online multiplayer game sessions
  • Inability to join servers that play host to multiplayer game sessions
  • Freezing of PlayStation 3 console, forcing the user to reset it
  • Main menu freezing as the game is started on the PC version

Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator Patch

A new version 1.30 of the Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator is now available, updating this multiplayer, multi-computer networked game for Windows that allows three to six players to act as the bridge crew of a starship. Word is the new version offers: "Massive UI and Art changes, and a host of upgrades and fixes." One purchase allows the game to be installed on all six of the workstations on your "bridge," and besides being available as a demo, the full version includes a money back guarantee. They also outline how to get a free copy of the game, as detailed below. Continue here to read the full story.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Trailer

A new car customization trailer from Test Drive Unlimited 2 shows off the ways you can pimp your ride in the upcoming racing game sequel. Some of the results could be considered crimes against your eyes, so people with bad taste should have a lot to work with. The embedded version follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

Gamasutra - Video Game Ethics And The Coming Bulletstorm.
We've seen these features before. Games have always been violent, and they've often reveled in brotastic protagonists who serve as ciphers for our own power fantasies. Games have always featured lame and offensive dialogue. The difference between those games and Bulletstorm, though, is the intentional nature of all of these things.

Bulletstorm is meant to shock and offend, but ultimately, to titillate. While games have portrayed violence, and shocked the public sense the beginning, rarely has a such a mainstream AAA title been so blatantly unabashed about the nature of the game. In the 70s, the arcade game Death Race, arguably the reason for the first video game violence related controversy, was conceived with an obvious naivete.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

GeForce GTX 560 NDA expired this morning.

Out of the Blue

More snow today yeesh. Anyone else watching Shameless on Showtime? We've been very impressed so far, and are growing ever-more curious about the British series on which it is based. But I'm also starting to wonder about my fascination with shows about dysfunctional families (Arrested Development, Raising Hope, and Shameless come to mind as examples). I think I had a pretty normal upbringing myself, but maybe that's one of the reasons: I can imagine these shows would not be nearly so entertaining if the subject matter hit too close to home.

Shameless Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Cloudy.
Soul Redeemer.
Links: Top 20 Insane Pet Products for Crazy Owners.
Space and the Y Axis - Clever Things to Say. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Stories: Globes On Hold, Razzies Announced.
For Sale Cheap: House infested with snakes. Thanks Boing Boing.
Harvard Chooses Jay Over Conan.
Science: Blocking a gene stops cancer cells spreading.
Bristol team pioneers depression surgery technique.
TB vaccine protects before and after exposure.
Media: Most Awesome SKATE FAIL Reactions. NSFW.
William Shatner on the origin of Star Trek.
50 Comedy Spoilers in 3 Minutes.
The Funnies: xkcd- Na.
Follow-up: Magnificent Seven on Mars: Opportunity. Thanks Jim.
Two More "Matrix" Films? Ain't Happening.
'Gods of the Arena' premiere delivers record 'Spartacus' ratings.
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