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Friday, Mar 11, 2011


BioWare on Dragon Age II DRM

We haven't heard from EA on the story about reports of SecuROM DRM in Dragon Age II, but BioWare Live Team Technical Producer Derek "CrushBug" French made a couple of posts to our forums that discuss the matter. He says:

"Sorry, but there is some confusion on this. We use Sony Release Control which shares some functionality with other Sony products (SecuROM), but we do not use SecuROM for the DRM. Once the Sony Release Control check is passed, Release Control self-destructs, removing the Release Control wrapper and it is never used again. Game updates will not use Release Control because obviously the release date is passed. Additionally, installing the game and then any future game patch will also remove the Sony Release Control check and it will never run on your computer."

When asked about a running SecuROM process, he said: "There is no running process once it unwraps and self-destructs." In reply to a question about registry entries, he replies: "An inert registry entry that does nothing." Finally, when asked about files remaining on users' hard drives, he explains: "In a temp folder that is never referenced again. This part is sloppy and should be cleaned up, though. We will see about doing that in a patch."

The Old Republic Trailer, Guild Program Details

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Website now offers Fate of the Galaxy, the PAX East trailer from the upcoming MMORPG. The clip features in-game footage, and here's the description: "Tension between the Republic and the Empire is running high. The uneasy truce established by the Treaty of Coruscant is quickly tearing apart at the seams, and a return to all-out war has begun in all but official terms. A new generation of heroes, both light and dark, emerges to face the difficulties of these chaotic times, and fight for the fate of the galaxy in this most desperate age." Also, BioWare has launched a Guild Headquarters with a pre-launch guild program. Here's word on guilds:

Every guild gets its own guild mini-site on, complete with information about the guild, its recruitment status, and its own public and private forums. Create or join a guild now and you’ll have the opportunity to have your own space to socialize and organize before the game launches. Every guild is automatically entered into the searchable guild database, which makes it easy for players to find their ideal guild. Get your guild together early and get ready for The Old Republic!

To learn more about guilds in The Old Republic, check out the Guilds Game System page for details, and to search for or join a guild, visit the Guild HQ now! Also be sure to visit the Guilds FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions.

Men of War: Assault Squad Patch

The Men of War: Assault Squad Website has a new patch for Best Ways' real-time strategy sequel. Word is: "The patch adds new multiplayer maps together with number of vehicles and weapons, improves game balance and fixes several bugs." The change list has details on the extensive changes, and the patch is available on this page, and the automatic patch for the Steam edition is also available. Thanks dj.

Trine Patch

The Trine Website now offers a new patch to update Trine to version 1.09. The patch is available on this page, where word is "Steam and Impulse versions are automatically updated to the latest version." Here are the full patch notes.

Quote of the Day

"It's probably the most important question the industry is wrestling with right now. If this conference was called 'Game Publishers Conference,' I think everyone would be in the bar crying into their beer and being just miserable." Former Sony Worldwide Studios boss Phil Harrison.

On Sale

The Spring Break Sale on Direct 2Drive gives 20% off when you use the code "hangover" at checkout. The 5th Anniversary Sale on GamersGate offers a huge selection of games up to 75% off.

  • Beyond Divinity on Save 40%.
  • Crazy Machines Everything Pack on Steam. Save 40%.
  • Divine Divinity on Save 40%.
  • Might & Magic: Heroes VI on Impulse. Pre-Order and get a bonus Hero and an in-game artifact.
  • Might & Magic Heroes VI on Steam. Pre-purchase and get beta access.
  • Personal Nightmare on Save 40%.
  • RIFT on Steam. Receive an extra seven days of game time.
  • Rome: Total War - Gold on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Simon the Sorcerer on Save 40%.
  • Simon the Sorcerer 2 on Save 40%.
  • Simon the Sorcerer 3D on Save 40%.
  • The Feeble Files on Save 40%.
  • Waxworks on Save 40%.
    Still on sale (previously reported). Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Prey 2 Revealed

French website NoFrag has a cover image of the next issue of French gaming magazine Joystick, which shows their cover story to be a Prey 2 reveal, indicating a follow-up is in the works to the first-person shooter. There are no details yet, but the accompanying blurb says "personne ne l'attendait mais ca va changer!" NoFrag helped us with a translation, saying this means "Nobody was expecting it, but that's going to change!" The original Prey was developed by Human Head Studios for now mostly defunct 3D Realms, but the rights to the franchise now belong to id Software and Bethesda Softworks parent company Zenimax.

BioWare Forum User's Game Ban Lifted

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has word that EA has rescinded the ban on the user who was locked out of playing Dragon Age II after misconduct on the BioWare forums (thanks eviltimmy). They reproduce an email the user received from EA Senior Director of Customer Support, Boyd Beasley saying his 72 hour ban was only for the forums, and he was locked out of the game in "error." Here's word:

Unfortunately, there was an error in the system that accidentally suspended your entire EA account. Immediately upon learning of the glitch, we have restored the entire account and apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused while accessing other areas of the EA service.

Bridging Portal and Portal 2

After speaking with Valve at PAX East, Kotaku reports that a "surprise" is planned between now and the release of Portal 2 the week of April 18 to help explain the goings on in the many years between Portal and Portal 2. "We're actually going to release something that we're not talking about yet that will give a little bit of the story of the interim time," Valve writer Erik Wolpaw told them today. "We're doing that before release." Wolpaw discusses this timeframe in brief: "Portal is after Half-Life 1 and before Half-Life 2," he said. "Without getting into it too much, Portal 2 is further down the line." His comments also should put a damper on speculation that the Portal and Half-Life storylines tie into each other very directly. "We tried to keep as light a touch about it as we did in Portal 1. Fans of Half-Life will notice some things, but if you haven't played Half-Life they'll just kind of pass right by you. You're not going to see Gordon tromping through the facility," he says. "Aperture Science is kind of this fun-house of science, this bubble in the otherwise serious Half-Life universe."

Crysis 2 "Be Fast" Trailer

A new Crysis 2 "Be Fast" trailer uses gameplay footage, some of which is familiar, to show off more of the capabilities of the nanosuit 2 in Crytek's upcoming first-person shooter sequel. The clip is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Darkspore Scaldron Trailer

This Darkspore trailer introduces the Scaldron, one of the enemies players will face in the upcoming action/RPG from EA's Maxis studio. We'll sheepishly admit to posting this to the YouTube a few days ago and forgetting to mention it here until now. Here's the embedded version. Continue here to read the full story.

SecuROM in Dragon Age II?

Self-appointed DRM watchdog Reclaim Your Game is apparently reporting on the use of SecuROM DRM in Dragon Age II (the site is currently returning a "403 Forbidden" error), even though this is not disclosed anywhere in the game's packaging or EULA, and BioWare explicitly stated the game would not use SecuROM back in January. According to Vivid Gamer, RYG has stated the following: "We have CONFIRMED from testing that it DOES contain SecuROM, and that it DOES leave files behind. We can also confirm that nowhere on the package, in the EULA or on the Website for the game is thee [sic] ANY mention of the inclusion of SecuROM. EA had been ordered by the courts to disclose the use of SecuROM on any game that uses it. And it is contradictory of what Bioware has been saying for the last 3 weeks." We have reached out to EA for comment on this as well as the report of a player who is unable to activate his copy of Dragon Age II due to being banned on the BioWare forums, but have yet to receive a response. Thanks Destructoid.

Tribes: Ascend Announced

Hi-Rez Studios announces Tribes: Ascend, an upcoming game to precede the previously announced Tribes Universe, as they resume the series of sci-fi multiplayer first-person shooters started by Dynamix in 1998 with Starsiege: Tribes. The game will use the Unreal Engine 3, and is targeted for release later this year for Windows and Xbox 360. A Tribes: Ascend Website is already online, offering a pair of teaser trailers, a Blood Eagle version and a Diamond Sword version, which are identical save for the color scheme. We asked what this meant about the status of Tribes Universe, and were told the same thing that it says in the announcement: "We’ve had tremendous fun play-testing and realized the potential of a multiplayer focused title ahead of Tribes Universe." We asked for further clarification, and were told this will be more of a "traditional" multiplayer game, while Tribes Universe will operate more along the lines of an MMOG. Here's a bit from the announcement:

"Before Halo, before Modern Warfare, and before Battlefield, there was Tribes.", says Todd Harris, Hi-Rez Studios COO. "Tribes fans appreciate the game's essence - athletic FPS combat combined with teamwork and strategy. As we began development of Tribes Universe, we focused first on capturing that essence - refining and modernizing iconic elements like jetpacks, skiing, and vehicles. We’ve had tremendous fun play-testing and realized the potential of a multiplayer focused title ahead of Tribes Universe. The community has been waiting for a multi-player shooter that is the modern successor to T2. Tribes: Ascend is that game."

The National in Portal 2

Valve announces an original song by The National is part of Portal 2, the first-person puzzle game sequel due for release next month. "The inclusion of the original song, Still Alive, in the first Portal game was part of what made the game special," said Chet Faliszek, writer at Valve. "For Portal 2, we wanted to extend the use of music. When Bug Music mentioned to us that The National might be interested, we jumped at the opportunity to work with them."

EA Forum Ban Prevents Game Access?

There's a thread on the BioWare Social Network started by someone who had to create a new account to post there, because his original account is still enduring a 72-hour suspension for what was deemed an inappropriate forum post (he says he agrees he deserved the forum suspension for posting "Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?"). In a surprising turn, he says that besides keeping him from being able to post to the forums, the temporary ban is preventing him from activating his copy of Dragon Age II, which, as noted on Kotaku (thanks nin), is especially odd, since this is a single-player game. There was a similar story in 2008 that resulted in EA explicitly denying that forum offenders were being banned from games, but this thread concludes with a moderator explaining that under certain circumstances, an EA forum ban can indeed prevent access to your games:

Please review the EA Community Terms of Service, particularly sections #9 and #11. There are two levels of enforcement here:

1. BioWare community bans are forum-only and can be for as little as 24 hours. These bans should have no effect on your game, only your ability to use all the features of this website/community. these bans are handed out by BioWare Moderators as the result of our travels around the forum and/or issues reported by fellow community members.

2. EA Community bans come down from a different department and are the result of someone hitting the REPORT POST button. These bans can affect access to your game and/or DLC.

Because the BioWare community now operates under the same umbrella as all EA Communities, community members here have all explicitly agreed to abide by and be governed by both sets of rules. Consider it an added incentive to follow the rules you say you're going to follow.

Batman: Arkham City in October

WBIE and DC Entertainment announce plans to release Batman: Arkham City for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in North America on October 18, in Australia on October 19, and Europe and other territories on October 21. The announcement is accompanied by three new screenshots, and this description of the game:

Batman: Arkham City builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of Batman: Arkham Asylum, sending players soaring into Arkham City – five times larger than the game world in Batman: Arkham Asylum – and the new maximum security “home” for all of Gotham City’s thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds. Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new, all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight.

Carmack: Direct3D Now "Rather Better" Than OpenGL

John Carmack, id Software technical director and stalwart OpenGL supporter, tells bit-tech that Direct3D has emerged as a superior graphics API. "I actually think that Direct3D is a rather better API today," he tells them. "Microsoft had the courage to continue making significant incompatible changes to improve the API, while OpenGL has been held back by compatibility concerns. Direct3D handles multi-threading better, and newer versions manage state better." That said, he adds id will not be making the switch at this point because the benefits would not be significant, and all their tools use OpenGL. "It is really just inertia that keeps us on OpenGL at this point," he explains. "OpenGL still works fine, and we wouldn’t get any huge benefits by making the switch, so I can’t work up much enthusiasm for cleaning it out of our codebase. If it was just a matter of the game code, we could quite quickly produce a DirectX PC executable, but all of our tool code has to share resources with the game renderer, and I wouldn’t care to go over all of that for a dubious win."

February Game Sales Beat Expectations

Despite pessimistic expectations, word on CNBC is the NPD's analysis shows video game retail sales in February actually exceeded expectations. Game sales for the month were still down 5% compared with the same period last year, but analysts were expecting them to be down as much as 10%. Meanwhile, with gaming hardware sales up a surprising 10% compared with February 2010, the industry as a whole showed a 4% gain. They also repeat the ever-more common understanding that these retail figures are not representative of the entire industry: "The monthly brick and mortar sales numbers from NPD only represent 60 percent of the overall revenue in the video game industry. Used games, game rentals, subscriptions, digital full game downloads, social network games, downloadable content and mobile game apps all contribute to the bottom line of publishers — and are a growing force."

Call of Duty: Black Ops Top Selling U.S. Game Ever

IndustryGamers quotes NPD analyst Anita Frazier saying: "Call of Duty: Black Ops was the best-selling game in February, retaining the top selling spot since launch in November. It has now become the best-selling game in history, topping Wii Play." They follow this up with word the military first-person shooter sequel has sold 13.7 million units in the U.S.

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Announced

Wizards of the Coast announces Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012, a new videogame based on the Magic: The Gathering card-based strategy games set for release this summer for PC (Steam), Xbox LIVE Arcade, and PlayStation Network. Word is: "With an easy to use tutorial, Duels of the Planeswalkers is the best way for new players to learn Magic: The Gathering. Players that are already familiar with Magic will enjoy a new-to-digital multiplayer game mode called Archenemy where players gather up to two allies and team up against the AI." The game will be playable at PAX East, which gets underway today. Here are some screenshots, and here's a gameplay-free teaser trailer, which is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Crysis 2 Demo Tweaking

There's a Crysis 2 demo tweaking guide on PC Format that offers information on how to tweak the recently released Crysis 2 demo, and a link to a handy tool to manage settings.

Total War Sale, Shogun TF2 Items

Steam News announces a sale on Total War games to celebrate the imminent release of Total War: Shogun 2, offering discounts on the Total War Collection Pack, which includes the pre-purchase of Total War: Shogun 2 along with Napoleon: Total War Imperial Edition, Empire: Total War, Medieval II: Total War, and Rome: Total War Gold. They add that pre-purchasing Total War: Shogun 2 will get you Shogun-themed items for Team Fortress 2, Valve's dress-up/shooter game.

Hannibal: Rome and Carthage Patch

Matrix Games announces a new patch is now available for Hannibal: Rome and Carthage, updating the historical strategy game to version 1.03. Here's the story on this: "The update improves Numidian Cavalry during pursuit, updates the tutorials, adds a balancing factor regarding city militia, improves the already formidable AI, and addresses some remaining bugs." The patch is available for download from this page.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

As heavy rains cause more flooding here in the northeast, the real news is a massive Earthquake in Japan, an 8.9-magnitude quake that's the sixth largest since they started keeping records in 1900. The ensuing tsunami is correspondingly huge, so the full ramifications of this are still unknown, so here's hoping that the worst of it is over, and the victims of these disasters are receiving the aid the need. We have friends in Japan, but they are in Tokyo, so they are okay since they were fairly removed from this, but for those concerned about friends and family in the area, Google has launched one of their Person Finder dealies.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Call of Bieber.
Omega Box.
iStunt 2.
Links: The Thing’s Thing Of The Day.
Stories: Bank robber forgot to take the piss. Thanks Slashdot.
Windsor teen survives Golden Gate Bridge jump. Wow! Thanks Roger.
Science: Saving the Earth: meet NASA's Planetary Protection Officer.
Disaster clusters keep scientists guessing.
Images: Companion Cube Soap.
Gameboy iPad Cover.
Media: The Fantastic Mr. Star Fox.
All Hail the Crazy Ones - Think Different.
How Not to Photograph the Stanley Cup with a Leica M6.
The Funnies: Dilbert.
xkcd- Charity.
Follow-up: Cereal killing? Or mutiny? Neither! Cap'n Crunch lives. Thanks Capella.
Sweet Ride Of The Day.

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