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Monday, Jan 31, 2011

Dragon Age II DRM Explained

A forum thread on the BioWare Social Network goes into detail about plans for digital rights management in Dragon Age II, BioWare's upcoming RPG sequel (thanks Strategy Informer). The Steam versions will rely on Steam DRM, while other versions, both boxed and digital will need to authenticate themselves "after a select period of days," which is not yet specified. There will also be a Release Control system which does not install anything, but prevents the game from being played before its release date. The game will not require the disc in the drive, and it can be installed on an unlimited number of PCs, though one copy can only be played on five different PCs in a 24 hour period. In addition to current DRM plans, there is also a follow-up post outlining how there are plans in place to "sunset" their authentication system down the road. Here's word:
Recently there has been some concern over the DRM (Digital Rights Management) included with Dragon Age 2. Hopefully this post will help clarify what the DRM is for all versions of Dragon Age 2.

Steam versions use Steam DRM, no other DRM is added.

Non-Steam versions (digital or retail disc) are as follows:
- No disc check, you do not need the disc in drive to play.
- No limit on the total number of PCs you can install and play the game on.
- There is a limit to the number of unique/different PCs that can start/play the game within a time window [5 PCs in 24hrs].
- Each install requires logging in to your EA account to verify game ownership and if you are a member of these forums, you have an EA account.
- You can play offline but the game will require a login check after a select period of days.

Release Control (does not use securom)
    . It does not install anything to the PC.
    . Sole purpose is to check with a server to validate whether the game release date has passed or not.
    . It completely removes itself after the game release date has passed.
    . You will not be able to play until that date has passed.
    . Dates & times are set to the retail street date per country.

Hopefully this explains the DRM included in Dragon Age 2.

Daggerdale Demo and Sequel Plans

The Future of D&D Games Interview on Eurogamer.net talks with Bedlam Games creative director Zandro Chan about Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale, their upcoming co-op D&D game. Along the way they discuss plans for other games in the series, which gets this coy response: "This is the first part. That's something where we'll have to see how things pan out." The reply about whether we can expect a playable demo is more straightforward: "Yep! We are right now preparing a demo level that can be downloaded and players can get a taste of what it's like."

Move PC Support Planned?

The Game Developers Conference Website outlines a conference with a description suggesting that Sony plans on offering PC support for their Move motion controllers, saying: "This talk will bring developers up to speed on developing for the PlayStation Move controller. We will cover developing for the new PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter accessory. We will discuss the new Move Server project that will make it possible for academics and hobbyists to develop software using the PlayStation Move controller on their own PCs." Thanks Kotaku.

Dungeon Viva Announced

Zeload.com announces Dungeon Viva, a free-to-play web-based game expected to launch sometime this year, powered by the Unity 3D engine. From the description, this will be another installment in the newly burgeoning field of Dungeon Keeper-style games, as word is: "In Dungeon Viva, players are tasked with the role of powerful underlords – masters of underground dungeons to be exactly – and have to start from scratch to build their own mighty, monstrous empires." They also tout the game's social features: "The game is also crafted with a nice social touch in mind, in that players can not only challenge each other to their wits and skills, but are also requested to cooperate in order to beat certain quests. In addition, there is a wide range of features specifically designed to allow players showing off their uniqueness and achievements to their friends, such as the highly flexible avatar system, the richness of dungeon decorations, and the customizability of monsters, all of which give the players the ability to add their own personal flavor to their new, virtual home beneath the ground." The Dungeon Viva Website is online with forums, a trailer, and word to expect a Dungeon Viva Tower Defense game next month.

Faxion Online Closed Beta Begins

UTV True Games announces that closed beta testing of Faxion Online is now underway, and that those who have been accepted as testers for this upcoming MMORPG based on the struggle between heaven and hell should be receiving their beta keys presently. For everyone else they are still accepting applications for this game they describe like this: "Faxion Online will feature a persistent world with competitive and robust PvP play and territory control with ground-breaking action that strips away the typical 'stand and fight' experience and monotonous level grinding found in so many MMORPGs today."

APB: Reloaded Beta Plans

The APB: Reloaded Website has a new update on what's up with the planned relaunch of APB: All Points Bulletin, the online sandbox action game. The update covers changes to the game and features of their closed beta test. The update does not cover all their planned changes, but rather is restricted to what's new in the beta. They discuss integrated cheat detection, weapon modifications, marksmanship, witnessing, camera, progression, vehicles, and more. They also discuss the quandary they face in trying to make desirable premium items without upsetting game balance, which they plan on discussing further closer to the game's relaunch.

Homefront Interview

The Homefront interview on Computer and Video Games talks with David Votypka of Kaos Studios about Homefront, their upcoming military first-person shooter set on US soil. The discussion covers how much of Frontlines: Fuel of War is in the new game, how Homefront differs from competing games, finding broad appeal in a first-person shooter, lack of 3D support, whether they yearn to develop games in other genres, THQ's "online pass" system, and more.

128-Player BF2 Project Reality Server

Planet Battlefield has a trailer showing a 128-player server running a massive game of the Project Reality Battlefield 2 modification. There isn't any combat shown, so this seems like a proof of concept, but what a grand concept it is. Word is to accomplish this the server needed to handle 9MB of data per second. Thanks Ant.

Ships Ahoy - Who's That Flying?!

Steam now offers Who's That Flying?!, an indie casual/action game from Mediatonic. Word is: "As the mysterious and powerful 'Guardian of Earth' your steely eye and HYPER-POWERED LASER ARM have kept the citizens of Earth safe for generations (as well as proving a hit with the ladies)."

Black Mirror 3 German Demo

A German-language playable demo for Black Mirror 3 is now available, offering the chance to test your German along with the third-installment in this horror-themed point-and-click adventure series. The download is hosted on Gamer's Hell, Strategy Informer, and WorthPlaying. On a related note, there's a new Black Mirror 3 features trailer on Gamer's Hell.

The Next BIG Thing German Demo

A playable demo for The Next BIG Thing is now available, this too only in the German language. This sample of Pendulo Studios' adventure game is available on Gamer's Hell and WorthPlaying.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Snow Storm Will Cover 3/4 Of United States. Yeesh. Thanks Acleacius.

Battlefield Academy Patch

This Slitherine Downloads Page is where to find a new patch for Battlefield Academy to update the World War II turn-based strategy game to version 1.5.1. The download is mirrored on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell, and the patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Trainz Multiplayer Open Beta

NV3 Games announces they've opened beta testing for Trainz multiplayer to all owners of Trainz Simulator: 2010, their transport simulator. Word is: "Trainz Multiplayer is the biggest thing to hit Trainz in its 10 year history and N3V Games is proud at the addition of a feature which is sure to be a massive hit with Trainz enthusiasts from all over the world." The Trainz Multiplayer Wiki Article has instructions on how to participate. Here's what this will include to begin with:

  • Play with Trainz enthusiasts from all across the world.
  • All features of single player driver are included like picking up passengers or transport freight, work in a yard and building consists.
  • 2 free play sessions with more features to come throughout the beta.

Dungeon Defenders Delayed

Trendy Entertainment tweets about another delay to the PC edition of Dungeon Defenders, saying: "Release date will be late Q1, around March / April." (April will actually be early Q2.) They add: "PC version will release shortly after console versions. Sorry for the confusion." The game was previously expected this month, and no reason for the setback for the action/RPG and Tower Defense hybrid is offered. Thanks Big Download.

Frogster Online CEO Resigns

Frogster Interactive announces the resignation of Andreas Weidenhaupt from the executive board of the Berlin-based game publisher. Word is Weidenhaupt "was founder and managing director of the games portal Onlinewelten.com and has been CEO and managing director of the Frogster Online Gaming GmbH since July 2008." As for the future, they say he: "will remain closely connected to Frogster and will still be available as a consultant."

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood PC Interview

The Assassin's Creed Brotherhood PC interview on PC Games Hardware talks with David Coulombe of Ubisoft Montreal about Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, learning what's being done with the time between the release of the console editions of the stealth/action series and the upcoming PC edition. The game still only supports DirectX 9, but he talks about how bugs from the console release will be fixed in the PC edition, and goes on to describe PC-specific features as: "Scalable settings (multi-core, higher frame rate, higher resolution, MSAA, higher shadow, reflexion [sic], environment quality etc.), as well as Eyefinity and 3DVision support. The other advantage is the guarantee of hard-drive installation which ensures decent loading times." He also explains what's improved over the previous Assassin's Creed games: "Graphically we've added some image processing effects such as SSAO and better level of detail transitions. A brand new shadow algorithm was also developed to increase the overall visual quality."

The Rise and Fall of Interplay

All three parts of Matt Chat's video interview with Brian Fargo are now online, offering a verbal history of Interplay Entertainment. There's Matt Chat 89 where the Interplay founder discusses "his early days, the story of Bard's Tale, life at Interplay, Wizardry, and the humor of Battlechess," Matt Chat 90 covers "Wasteland, Fallout, Stonekeep, and more," as well as, "modern CRPGs and why the 80s style (parties and turn-based) went away." Finally, the topic of Matt Chat 91 is "the fall of Interplay." Thanks Ant.

Dragonfly Shooter Exports

Joymax and Dragonfly announce a global publishing partnership to bring a couple of Dragonfly's Korean first-person shooters to other audiences. Word is Joymax plans to publish Special Force in the Middle East, Africa, Russia and India, and they will publish KARMA Returns in North America, Latin America and Europe before the end of this year. Here's a bit on each game:
Special Force is a historically inspired, first-person shooter that delves into the secret world of an elite military unit. Armed with cutting-edge weapons and gadgets, players are thrown into a fierce battle at the heart of a world at war.

KARMA Returns is the newest installment in the KARMA Online series, the first online first-person shooter released in Korea. The game takes players back to World War II, in which they must choose to side with the Axis or Allied powers and join the fight for global victory.

UK PC Bestsellers

GFK Chart-Track offers the top 20 bestselling full price PC games in the UK for the week ending January 29. The list is again topped by Football Manager 2011 and features on new entries, Dead Space 2, which debuts at number two.

Interstellar Marines Trailer

A new will you believe trailer from Interstellar Marines shows off gameplay, cinematics, and more from Zero Point Software's upcoming indie first-person shooter. While waiting for the game interested players can still check out the three online games related to this project: "An interactive 3D tour called The Vault featuring several of Interstellar Marines’ characters; the advanced shooting range Bullseye where players test their skills against various targets aboard the military space shuttle AIV Kitty Hawk; and finally Running Man, a true first-person action experience where players face an onslaught of combat robots while training to become an elite marine."

Morning Screenshots

Hardware Reviews

  • AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB Graphics Card on Techgage.
  • AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB vs GeForce GTX 560 Ti Graphics Card on Guru3D.
  • Antec True Power Quattro 1200W PSU on Technic3D. In German.
  • ASUS HD 6950 2GB Overclock Edition Graphics Card on Bjorn3D.com.
  • ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Motherboard on HEXUS.net.
  • ASUS P8P67 EVO Motherboard on OCIA.net.
  • ASUS SBW-06C1S-U Slim USB External Blu-Ray Writer on Tweaknews.
  • ASUS U41JF-A1 Laptop on TechReviewSource.com.
  • ASUS Xonar Xense Audio Card & Headphones on Neoseeker.
  • Areca ARC-1880ix-24 PCI-E x8 SATA-SAS RAID Controller w/24 Crucial RealSSD C300s on TweakTown.
  • Corsair Force 90GB SSD Single & RAID on Hardware Canucks.
  • ECS P67H2-A Black Extreme Motherboard on OCWorkbench.
  • Evercool Transformer 4 HPJ-12025 (2010 Ed.) Heatsink on FrostyTech.com.
  • GIGABYTE GA-X58-USB3 Motherboard on Overclockers Club.
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U260 12.5" Laptop on TechSpot.
  • Lian Li PC-V2120A Full Tower PC Case on PC Perspective.
  • MSI N560GTX-Ti GeForce Graphics Card on Benchmark Reviews.
  • MSI P67A-GD65 Motherboard on Overclock3D.
  • Sapphire Pure Black X58 Motherboards on PureOC.
  • SteelSeries Xai Laser Mouse on eTeknix.
  • Xigmatek Pantheon Case on Vortez.
  • Zalman CNPS5X-SZ CPU Cooler on ProClockers.

Out of the Blue

James Bond composer John Barry dies aged 77 (thanks Neutronbeam) announces the passing of the man who created the soundtracks of many memorable movies, including all the early James Bond movies (though it is unclear how much he contributed to the iconic James Bond theme, which is credited to Monty Norman). My opinion is that about half the early success of the series was due to the suave Sean Connery and the other half is due to Barry's compositions. One of his Bond themes was also the wedding song for MrsBlue and me: "We Have All The Time In The World" from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

R.I.P.: Impressionist David Frye dies in Las Vegas at 77.

Bonded Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Book of Mages: The Dark Times.
Woodcutter.
Links: 8-bitscapes. Thanks Neatorama.
New library vending machines. Thanks Neatorama.
Locomotive Engine Failure - Blown Piston. Thanks Boing Boing.
Stories: U.S. Set to Evacuate Trapped Americans in Egypt. Thanks Digg.
Science: Scientists Create Super Strong Robotic 'Terminator' Hand. Dr. Krieger!
Humans 'left Africa much earlier'.
Images: When someone says it's a trap...
Media: Time Freeze Shootout.
Special teams pigeon plays for Raiders.
Swiss Ball Surfing.
The Funnies: Brevity.
Follow-up: Whom Did Cavill Beat To Play Superman?
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