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Monday, Feb 07, 2011


Disabled Gamer Petition

This Video Game Custom Button Remapping Petition implores game designers to offer more options for remapping controls in console and PC games. One reason is to suit more players' preferences, but more compelling is that this was started by a disabled gamer who is unable to play Dead Space 2 due to the inability to map the move forward command to a mouse button, which would allow him to play the game using his head. This got started on and there are more details on the Overclockers UK Forums. Thanks Mike.

Diablo III Art FB Blackmail

The Diablo Facebook Page is looking to up the ante in competing for fans with Blizzard's Warcraft Facebook page. Word is that liking the Diablo page will inspire the release of new screenshots and artwork from Diablo III. Word is: "The Warcraft Facebook page recently hit 1million who 'Like' it and rubbed it in our faces. We know there are millions of Diablo players out there, and to take the fight back we have some incentives all lined up. Beginning at 550,000 'People Like This' of the Diablo Facebook page we'll post new art and screenshots, and for every 25,000 additional page 'Likes' we receive after that up to 1million. Let's do this!" Thanks Blizzplanet.

On Dungeon Siege III Stability

Dungeon Siege III interview on talks with Obsidian's Rich Taylor about their upcoming installment in the Dungeon Siege series of action/RPGs in a conversation accompanied by a cinematic/gameplay trailer. Topics include how this is as much a reboot as a sequel, the use of their in-house Onyx engine, who they can offer 15,000 pieces of equipment, differences between the PC and console editions, comparisons with Diablo III, and more. A good portion is devoted to creating a game with fewer technical problems than Fallout: New Vegas, their previous effort, and Rich explains the advantages of working with their in-house engine on Dungeon Siege III:

Stability and being bug free are extremely high priorities on this project, and we actually talk about it internally constantly. The advantage here we have over, for example Fallout, is when we have a question about how something works, I walk 10 feet outside my office door and go talk to the programmer who wrote it.

That's a lot different than trying to get someone on a mailing list, or get someone on the phone who's in a different time zone or across the country. Those sort of things have made it possible for us to stabilise things and keep things working as well as we like.

Roper on Flagship

Bill Roper interview on Gamasutra talks with the former Blizzard, Flagship, and Cryptic Studios developer about what he's up to these days and his plans for the future. They highlight the juicier portions of the conversation in a separate article called Bill Roper On How Flagship, Hellgate Spiraled Out Of Control on the failure of Hellgate: London, and how it dragged Flagship Studios under with it. He describes a project where the scope outgrew the studio's ability to succeed, noting the difference between how a startup was able to deal with issues compared with an established company like Blizzard. "The biggest failure with Hellgate is we just tried to do too much," Roper explained. "We were a single-player game, or you could go online and play for free. And there was also this hybrid subscription model that you could get into, and the game was coming out on the new Windows platform, and we were part of the Games for Windows program." He contrasts how this worked at Flagship to how it would have worked at Blizzard. "A couple benefits we had there [at Blizzard,] we really didn't have at Flagship -- I mean, even Blizzard now, but at Blizzard 10 years ago -- one, there was always support from Blizzard from the top-down, from the publishing-down. We'd go in there and say, 'We need to take six more months. This is why. This is the benefit you will see from it,'" recalled Roper. "And you always had to justify it," he told them. "There was always the support [at Blizzard] to say, 'You know what? If that's what you need to make this game great, then that's what we'll get for you. We'll figure it out'."

GamersGate on Steam Competition

The GamersGate interview on IndustryGamers chats with Theo Bergquist, CEO of GamersGate, to discuss the present and future of digital distribution. Theo talks with them about the growing appeal of buying games via download, what GamersGate is doing to compete in this space, and more. He also expresses optimism about their ability to compete with Steam: "Once digital sales are superior to physical sales, we believe Steam will have a harder time remaining #1. We’ve led the way with many things like weekend offers, promotion programs, holiday sales, and more and they’ve followed. We believe our focus on premium customer support, a client-free experience, a robust reward program, and a DRM-friendly policy will appeal to the masses once they decide to go digital."

Dungeons Interview

The Dungeons interview on Gaming Illustrated poses a couple of questions to Christian Wolfertstetter, creative director on Dungeons, the upcoming Dungeon Keeper/Evil Genius-style game. They get a rundown on the basis, which includes an expanded explanation of the game's premise: "The basic idea behind Dungeons is to explain why dungeons look like they do in MMOs and Action-RPGs these days. Why is there loot lying around for heroes to pick up? Why are the monsters challenging but not overpowering to the hero? Dungeons is what we came up with for an answer. In Dungeons you control the evil Dungeon Lord and craft your own dungeon. You place monsters, loot and so on until finally those heroes enter your lair. Now your job is not to kill them (at least not in the beginning) but rather keep them happy. The reason being, that happy heroes generate soul energy, which is a precious resource for you."

Magicka Patched

Another new patch is available automatically on Steam for Magicka, Arrowhead Studios' action/adventure game. The change notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Impulse Top 10

Impulse's sales charts are online, showing that the Blood Bowl had a good week on the service during Super Bowl week:

  1. Blood Bowl - Legendary Edition
  2. Sins of a Solar Empire - Trinity
  3. Elemental: War of Magic
  4. Command and Conquer - Red Alert 3
  5. AI War: Fleet Command
  6. Smugglers 4: Doomsday
  7. Achtung Panzer - Kharkov 1943
  8. AI War - Light of the Spire
  9. Making History II - The War of the World
  10. Sins of a Solar Empire - Diplomacy

Quote of the Day

"I'm not going to make the same mistake I made last year. The lesson I learned is to NEVER UNDERESTIMATE ROCKSTAR." -- Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

On Sale

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Cities in Motion This Month, New Trailer

Paradox Interactive announces February 22 is the release date for Cities in Motion, Colossal Order's upcoming urban transportation simulation. They also offer a new "tram" trailer described like so: "Travelling back in time to 1961, the ‘Tram’ trailer guides the viewer on the essentials of building a tram network system for commuters from creating a new line, adding stops in strategic locations and buying the trams to carry the passengers to their destinations."

Rift Open Beta Event Next Week

Trion Worlds announces that a six-day "Telara the Merciless" open beta testing event for Rift will commence on February 15th, offering the chance to check out their upcoming MMORPG before it officially goes live on March 1st. Players can sign up here for a guaranteed spot in the beta, and those interested in participating in the Rift head start beginning February 24 can preorder the game here. Here's word:

On February 15th Trion will lift the veil on their upcoming MMORPG Rift™ with a six-day open beta event, giving all would-be Defiants and Guardians the opportunity to preview the epic world of Telara before the game launches worldwide on March 1st. Servers are scheduled to be open from 10 AM PST on Tuesday, February 15th to 10 AM PST on Monday, February 21st, giving users a taste of Telara, including two playable factions, the first 42 levels of play, three PvP warfronts, and several zones and dungeons to explore.

Call of Juarez: The Cartel Announced

Ubisoft announces Call of Juarez: The Cartel is in development at Techland for release this summer for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, as a sequel to the wild west shooters Call of Juarez and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Interestingly, the new installment brings the series into the present, as word is: "Call of Juarez: The Cartel is set in present day and brings the best elements of the Wild West to a new and modern setting. As a first person shooter with an immersive and mature story, players can expect to embark on a journey like no other – one that will take them from the heart of modern day Los Angeles, California to Juarez, Mexico." The Call of Juarez Website has a couple of images, including the cover of the new issue of EGM, which will offer more details on the game when it's released this week.

Frostbite 2 Trailer, BF3 Details

A Frostbite 2 engine real-time radiosity trailer from SIGGRAPH 2010 shows off the power of DICE's Frostbite 2.0 engine that will power their upcoming Battlefield 3. Word is: "A presentation by Per Einarsson from DICE and Sam Martin from Geomarics. The presentation focuses on the implementation and use of Enlighten, a middleware toolkit for computing real-time radiosity from Geomarics. It demonstrates how the technology is used by its integration into the Frostbite 2 game engine. It demonstrates how the workflow, content pipelines and run-time systems are greatly increased with the help of Enlighten to achieve real-time radiosity for use in video games." (thanks VG247). There are also some BF3 details on the twitter feed of Alan "Demize99" Kertz, the senior gameplay designer on Battlefield 3 (thanks Big Download), who mentions "Huge Maps. Tanks Defibrillators. Jets. Team play" and "The focus of #BF3 isn't special forces... we'll leave that to MOH" and "Yes, there will be spotting" and "Dolphin Diving is out. Period" and "There will be a knife, there will be dogtags. No details for now" and "I want players to have to chose between CQB and Long Range, there won't be hybrid scopes because it kills that choice" and "Vehicle/Infantry balance is a focus for me, it will be awesome this time" and "No plans for ziplines or grapple hooks no" and "BF3 will be deeper than BF2. That said we've paid a lot of attention to keeping depth while pacing the learning curve."

New AC: Brotherhood Map with Facebook Milestone

The Assassin's Creed Facebook page has word on what Assassin's Breed Brotherhood players will get when the page scores its one millionth fan. They explain a few perks that will celebrate the occasion, including word that "Venezia by Night will be unlocked in multiplayer." Thanks Joystiq.

BlizzCon 2011 Announced

Blizzard announces BlizzCon 2011 will take place on Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22 in the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, saying further details on ticket availability and pricing will be announced on the Blizzard website as the event draws closer. "We look forward to holding another exciting BlizzCon this year, filled with some great entertainment and competition, as well as the latest news about Blizzard games," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "BlizzCon is built from the ground up with our community in mind -- we're pleased to be able to host an event where players can come together to have fun and celebrate their passion for gaming."

APB: What Might Have Been

The APB-Reloaded Website has an illustrated sneak peek of the territory that will eventually become the Third District in the upcoming APB: All Points Bulletin reboot. They also say they're closer to announcing plans for "premium and leased" weapons, and cap things off with a lengthy post by designer Zak "Qwentle" Littwin on things that should have been different in the original version of the game that gives a greater sense of their outlook on the game.

QUAKE LIVE Premium Servers Free Through Tomorrow

The QUAKE LIVE Website announces that access to premium servers in id's online shooter is free through tomorrow in compensation for some downtime. Word is: "QUAKE LIVE is now back online after experiencing an interruption of service. We regret the inconvenience experienced by our users and would like to thank everyone for their patience by granting free access to the Premium servers from now through Tuesday." Thanks Big Download.

UK Top 20 PC Games

GFK Chart-Track has the top 20 bestselling PC games in the UK for the week ending February 5. This week Football Manager 2011 holds the top spot, Dead Space 2 drops to number five, and Dungeons enters the chart at number six.

Op Ed

Firing Squad - Consolitis. Thanks Ant.
Generally, the only way to determine a feature is missing is if the game in question is a sequel or part of a genre that is prominent on PC. Examples include: no ability to lean in an FPS, no dedicated servers for multiplayer, no access to console commands, not being able to quick save, etc. Now that I think about it, several missing features can be attributed to the game being designed to work with a controller… Usually, these can’t easily be fixed during the porting process, so they aren’t. - A Death Worth Having.
From a less casual perspective, the fail state is something that we shouldn’t have to tolerate. It’s rarely fun to slog through the same content again and again because we keep messing up one thing, and here’s the crux of the matter: death becomes nothing more than an annoyance. It’s not dramatic, it’s not emotional; at best it invokes an eye-roll at the prospect of fighting through the same goons again, at worst a mouse gets launched into a £200 monitor and we find ourselves mourning the loss of hardware more than the death of Super Soldier X, who is now deciding whether to retry from checkpoint or load an earlier save.

MCV - Games education must move quickly.
Ironically, today’s children are naturally attracted to the digital world. They are a connected generation. They prefer to access and process information when needed using whatever media devices are available. Calculators and smartphones are not a substitute for learning; they enable it. It would be a simple matter to inspire them with creative computing. Enable them to build digital bridges for their shared world. Collaborating in teams with different but complementary skills naturally prepares them for their working life.

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