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Monday, Mar 14, 2011 Happy π day!


Transformers Online Announced

Hasbro and Jagex Limited announce plans for a Transformers MMOG to launch next year in North America, Latin America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia, though it is not clear if this is related to the Transformers MMOG announced last year for Asia, Russia (and CIS states), the Middle East, and North Africa. Here's word:

“Hasbro’s decision to align with Jagex speaks to the quality of their award-winning development and publishing team that boasts an outstanding track record of delivering innovative and fun online games capable of reaching millions of gamers across the globe,” said Mark Blecher, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital Gaming and Media at Hasbro. “We are extremely excited to create a dream team that combines TRANSFORMERS brand stewards with Jagex development experts to deliver an epic TRANSFORMERS gaming experience to fans in 2012.”

“TRANSFORMERS is one of the most iconic brands in the world and we are delighted to team up with Hasbro in order to bring our shared vision to reality,” said Mark Gerhard, CEO at Jagex Games Studio. “There is a huge appetite for an online TRANSFORMERS game and we will utilize every bit of our development and publishing expertise to deliver a dynamic and action-packed game that TRANSFORMERS fans will find irresistible.”

The Return of Lord British

Gamasutra has word from SXSW that Richard Garriott is pitching a Lord British social game at the conference. Details are scant for now, as he is in a fundraising stage seeking $3.8 million in investments, but they do have this on what to expect:

Lord British's New Britannia (working title) will be a social networking game built around Garriott's famous alter ego, which he wholly owns - as opposed to the Ultima universe, which Electronic Arts has the rights to.

The title is set to come out after the second quarter release of Ultimate Collector, the company's first original game, which will take the form of a social network game paired with a television show hosted by Garriott, the pilot for which has already been shot.

EA ♥s Fox News

IndustryGamers quotes Frank Gibeau on the topic of Fox News, and the EA Games label president is actually quite pleased with the free publicity they have been provided thanks to the network's vitriolic attacks on video games. "We love Fox News. They're bold... I’m serious," he tells them. "Look, when you’re building new IPs and you’re building games and you’re looking at an entertainment audience, they see a lot of messages. Controversy isn’t a bad thing. I personally believe you should court controversy." He goes into more detail on the help this provides:

"You should do it in a way that matches the creative integrity of the game. You shouldn’t do it in a gratuitous way, but if it matches the creativity of the game… I loved it when Fox News did the lesbian aliens on Mass Effect. I love when they covered the Taliban; I loved it when they covered the Bulletstorm stuff. In each one of those cases, it was true to the game and we were trying to do something creatively. The fact that their point of view is different than ours and represented an audience out there is fine by me. I felt we could stand up and defend what we did and be aggressive about it and be proud of it."

Gold - Adam’s Venture 2

Iceberg Interactive announces Adam’s Venture 2 is now gold, and Vertigo Games' action adventure sequel is expected in stores on April 8. Here's word on the game:

Adam Venture is an action explorer hero; adventurous but using his wits rather than resorting to violence. Brought to life from a third person perspective with the Unreal 3™ engine, adventure gamers are in for a real visual treat in combination with family values storytelling. In this second installment of the episodic series, Adam Venture and his crew end up in 1920’s Jerusalem having escaped alive from the Caverns of Eden. In their continuous search for the Lost Garden of Eden, they become entangled in a thickening plot featuring a ruthless dig for the ancient King Solomon’s treasure - but is that really all there is to it? What is the real goal of the infamous Clairvaux Corporation?

More DIS Layoffs

Disney Interactive Studios has cut another 2% of its workforce in another round of layoffs after their cuts in January, reports paidContent, who say 7% of the company's staff that once totaled 4,000 is now gone. Word is: "Disney provided a statement confirming 'targeted' layoffs 'as part of setting a strategic direction for future success in digital media'." Thanks Big Download.

Prototype 2 Trailer

A new "Heller Throws Down' trailer from Prototype 2 features a slow motion look at the protagonist in Radical Entertainment's upcoming action sequel offering an exit strategy to a Blackwatch guard, who fails to stick the landing. Here's the embedded clip. Continue here to read the full story.

Pride of Nations Interview, Trailer

A new video interview from Pride of Nations hears from Phillipe Thibaut, producer on the upcoming grand strategy game, as he "gives aspiring world rulers a glimpse of what Pride of Nations will include on launch day." There's also this new gameplay trailer helping to visualize what to expect.

Just the PAX, Ma'am, Part 3

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Pi Is (still) Wrong.

Minecraft Password Warning

The McBans Website offers a warning urging Minecraft players "to change their passwords ASAP" (thanks Ant). They explain that they have discovered a list of approximately 1,000 Minecraft account names and passwords were made freely available on the internet," expressing suspicions that these were collected "through the use of hacked clients (that pretend to only give you extra features like flying or seeing through blocks... or websites made to look like the official Minecraft site." Here's more:

Given this information, we feel we need to stress that people make sure to only use Minecraft client mods that they absolutely trust and are verified by the community. While this issue brings to the light the malicious opportunities client modders have, we want to stress that many client mods found within the community are not malicious. We believe people should be healthily skeptic but not overly paranoid as to whether or not a client mod is stealing your information. Unless you're using a sketchy client that allows you to cheat, for example, you should be safe.

Steam User Loses Almost $1800 in Games Due to Ban [Updated]

A post on Reddit's gameswap forum outlines the plight of someone whose Steam account has been permanently disabled, preventing his access to 149 games that SteamCalculator says were worth a total of $1794.52. This stems from a previous attempt to sell this account, which is a violation of the Steam Subscriber Agreement, as it states: "You are entitled to use the Software for your own use, but you are not entitled to: (i) sell, grant a security interest in or transfer reproductions of the Software to other parties in any way, nor to rent, lease or license the Software to others without the prior written consent of Valve." The user asked Steam support if he's been permanently disabled, and was told: "Correct, you lose access to your account permanently for violating our Subscriber Agreement." We contacted Valve for comment on this a couple of hours ago, but they have not responded. Thanks Joao via Ars Technica. Update: A post on the Steam Users' Forums from Valve says: "The article doesn't mention that the account has been re-enabled."

Operation Flashpoint: Red River Bio Trailer

A new biography trailer from Operation Flashpoint: Red River introduces Sergeant William Kirby, another of the characters in Codemasters' upcoming military first-person shooter sequel. Sergeant Kirby talks about the conflict and his reasons for enlisting, presenting a more thoughtful (and ominous) approach than the previous bio. Here's the embedded version. Continue here to read the full story.

Prey 2 Announced

The Bethesda Blog has the official announcement of Prey 2, saying the first-person shooter that surfaced on Friday courtesy of a French magazine is expected to be released next year for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The game is in development at Prey developer Human Head Studios, using "the cutting edge id tech engine from id Software" (presumably the Tech 5 engine from RAGE and DOOM 4). "We are thrilled to be working with Bethesda on Prey 2," says project lead Chris Rhinehart. "Prey 2 will provide gamers the opportunity to explore a new facet of the Prey universe, one that offers fast-paced action in an open, alien world. We're excited to show gamers the title we have been working on and hope they will be as excited by this title as we are." They have launched a Prey 2 Facebook Page where they say more information will be revealed next week.

U.K. PC Charts

GFK Chart-Track once again presents the top 20 bestselling PC games in the U.K., this time for the week ending March 12. This week Dragon Age II leaps into the number one spot, as Dawn of War II: Retribution drops to number four after being last week's bestselling title. On a related note, MCV reports boxed game sales in the U.K. were down 22% in February, compared with February of last year.

More on Reclaim Your Game, Dragon Age II, and SecuROM

Reclaim Your Game is finally up and running again after being offline for a few days after causing a firestorm by posting accusations that Dragon Age II includes SecuROM files after it was stated by BioWare's installation included "Release Control (does not use securom)." Both BioWare and Electronic Arts have refuted the notion that SecuROM is active on players' machines due to the RPG sequel, but RYG never claimed this was the case, simply saying that the installation left SecuROM files on systems following the installation and noting that their main concern is the disclosure of what's going on. They say: "Rather, the Dragon Age 2 reports were written to highlight a clear and systemic issue that is prevalent with many Publishers active within the Industry. That is: There is a clear lack of notification and consideration behind the DRMs implemented."

BioWare did state all along the game would use a release control system, so part of the disagreement here is whether that system, which contains files with SecuROM labels, are actually SecuROM, or a separate Sony product, though it also seems apparent that the main objection most gamers have to SecuROM is not whether a game uses systems with that name, but rather the use of the old-style SecuROM DRM that leaves processes running on gamers' systems after installation even when a game is not running, which does not seem to be happening in this case.

More Portal 2 ShakyCam

Here's more ShakyCam footage from the PAX East presentation of Portal 2 offering another very shaky cammed view of the presentation of Valve's upcoming first-person puzzle/platformer sequel. This covers the same presentation as yesterday's clip, and once again offers some spoilers if that concerns you. Thanks Ant.

Earthquake Takes FINAL FANTASY MMOGs Offline

SQUARE ENIX announces that MMORPGs FINAL FANTASY XI and FINAL FANTASY XIV are both temporarily offline due to the eathquakes in Japan, apologetically saying: "Based on the current situation, we have decided to shut down the game servers temporarily, and therefore to suspend services of FINAL FANTASY XIV, FINAL FANTASY XI, and PlayOnline temporarily." This is noted on Massively, where they also note that Sony Online Entertainment has temporarily suspended billing in Japan, but the link they provide explaining this is down at the moment. Thanks Big Download.

AMD vs. NVIDIA in Dragon Age 2

PC Format has some comparisons in Dragon Age 2 showing how BioWare's RPG sequel performs using AMD versus NVIDIA graphics cards. They have benchmarks showing NVIDIA achieving higher framerates, but offer complaints about "smoothness," saying under NVIDIA: "It's like the game is dropping animation frames here and there, with my characters stuttering around the landscape like marionettes with their strings tangled."

Interstellar Marines Interview

There's a Zero Point Software Interview on FiringSquad chatting with Kim Haar-Jørgensen and Kenneth Ellegaard Andersen of the Copenhagen-based developer of Interstellar Marines, the upcoming sci-fi first-person shooter that's had these two preliminary releases. The conversation covers the development team's background, how the idea for this game was actually spawned all of 18 years ago, and why it's taken so long to reach its current stage, how an indie can produce a AAA game, taking inspiration from the success of Minecraft, fundraising, whether they are interested in working with a publisher, DRM, the Unity engine, modding, game modes, and more.

New Fraps

The Fraps Website now offers a new version 3.3.2 of Fraps, the game benchmark and video capture software. Word is: "Microsoft have just released a new service pack for Windows 7 and we've updated Fraps to support Windows 7 SP1. There's also a new option in Fraps to only capture the external sound input while a hotkey is pressed. This is useful for people recording their microphone while using push-to-talk in their voice comms software." Thanks Ant.

Just the PAX, Ma'am, Part 2

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Not pleased with Daylight Saving Time this morning, as it was still pitch black when I got up. Blech. On the other hand, today is pi day, and who doesn't like π, or pie for that matter. Perhaps the proper way to celebrate would be to use pi to calculate the circumference of a pie at 1:59:26 today. Or maybe not.

R.I.P.: Joe Morello, Drummer with Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dies at 82.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Flood Runner 3: Armageddon.
Crash the Robot.
Link: 33 Pi Gadgets, Designs and Desserts to help Celebrate Pi Day.
Story: Call to vaccinate against possible H2N2 flu pandemic.
Science: Study explains why soggy skin gets wrinkly but does not dissolve. Thanks Neatorama.
Why Surfing A Tsunami Wave Won't Work. Thanks Reddit.
Images: Many more than 3.14... pictures of cool Pi creations.
Robotech Snow Sculpture.
Terminator Dog Needs Loving Home.
Media: A Bear Film. NSFW.
Queen Mary Ocean Liner Made Out of Toothpicks.
Flynn Lives Of The Day.
The Funnies: Brevity.
Follow-up: U.S. Nuclear Plants Have Same Risks as Japan Plants.
Japan's earthquake and tsunami explained.
New dramatic video: Tsunami wave spills over seawall. Thanks nin.
First-person Tsunami Video. Thanks The Flying Penguin.

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