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Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 Beware the Ides of March


Prey 2 Details?

Kotaku has a rumor of some of the details of the storyline in Prey 2, Human Head's just-announced first-person shooter sequel. They say "a source close to the game" tells them: "players will take on the role of a federal air marshal who is aboard the commercial airliner seen crashing in the spaceship early on in the original game. Prey 2 takes place during the same time frame as the original, but with this different perspective." They offer further unconfirmed details, calling the game an open-world shooter where the player ends up a bounty hunter on "a seedy alien planet that sounds a bit like the future Earth of Blade Runner."

Spiral Knights Announced

The SEGA America Blog announces Spiral Knights, a free-to-play online multiplayer game in development at Three Rings (Puzzle Pirates). They offer an announcement trailer, and the Spiral Knights Website is live. Here's a bit:

A spirit of fun, adventure, and mystery oozes from every inch of this game. Take control of your own spiral knight and guide them — alone or in a group — down into the Clockworks, a mysterious and ever-changing labyrinth of dungeons. You’ll be able to acquire and upgrade your gear through adventuring or through the purchase of Crystal Energy, and doing battle within the Clockworks.

We’re very excited to help bring you this game, and not the least because Three Rings is such a singular and creative development team. Spiral Knights already feels like one of “those games” — something that does its own thing and makes it feel effortless. The world of Spiral Knights is easy to jump into but goes miles deep, and we’re very excited to get a chance to share this new and exciting adventure with you.

Crytek Plans UDK-Style CryENGINE SDK

Develop has word that Crytek plans an CryENGINE SDK along the lines of Epic's Unreal Development Kit. Details are sparse, but the company "has a business model in mind," Crytek co-founder Avni "Anvi" Yerli tells them. "It will be extremely user-friendly," adding: "The barriers for entry will be very low, and perhaps [it will be distributed] for free."

Violent Game Restriction Debate

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is urging gamers to attend a debate at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Thursday on whether violent video games promote real-world violence. Tickets are for sale on this page, which are $12.00 for C.W. members, $20.00 for non-members, and $7.00 for students (with valid IDs). Here's word:

Do violent video games present a danger to national safety? Should selling them be restricted, as with pornography? Critics argue that there is a link between children's exposure to violent video games and their increased likelihood to commit violent acts. In a time when it is very easy for individuals to carry out senseless acts of violence, the state government has passed a law that bans the sale of video games deemed “ultra-violent” to children under 18. AB 1179 was signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2005 but is not in effect because of an injunction. The Supreme Court has heard arguments and will soon decide how far the government should go to protect the well-being of our children in a case that touches on free speech, national safety and the rights of video game manufacturers and retailers.

Panelists at this debate include California State Senator Leland Yee, who was the original sponsor of the so-called violent video game bill that is now before the Supreme Court; George Rose, the Executive VP and Chief Public Policy Officer for Activision Blizzard Inc.; and Michael McConnell, the Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Ubisoft Distributing AC Brotherhood Soundtrack from Torrent?

A thread on Reddit has screenshots suggesting the Assassin's Creed Brotherhood soundtrack being distributed to those who have preordered the digital deluxe edition of the stealth/action sequel was actually downloaded from a ripped version of the soundtrack being illicitly distributed via torrent. We asked Ubisoft whether this is the case, and if so, why, but have not received a reply. Thanks nin via Kotaku, where they note the similarities between this allegation and an incident a few years ago when the copy of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 distributed via Direct2Drive used a pirate no-CD crack.

New UDK [Updated]

The Unreal Development Kit Website now offers a second March edition of the UDK, the free toolkit for developing Unreal Engine 3 games. There's no indication of how this differs from the March UDK released last week. The download is mirrored on Gamer's Hell. Update: Epic Games tweets about what this does: "This update should correct any issues with DX11 Editor support." Thanks Kitkoan.

Realm of the Titans Alpha Next Month

Aeria Games is planning an alpha test for Realm of the Titans to be conducted next month in advance of the beta testing for their MMOG, which will still take place this spring. The alpha seeks feedback from a handpicked small group of experience Multiplayer Online Battle Arena players, and those interested can apply through this forum post.

EA on The Old Republic vs WoW

IndustryGamers hears from EA Games Label President Frank Gibeau on the topic of competing with the World of Warcraft juggernaut in the MMORPG market, and he explains why he thinks Star Wars: The Old Republic has a chance of doing just that. "It operates across multiple classes from Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitors, bounty hunters, spies, troopers, to Jedis… it’s a really fantastic world," he tells them. "On multiple levels we’re highly differentiated and different from World of Warcraft. We’re not being slavish or imitating them at all. We’re doing our own thing. We’re doing our own unique way. BioWare and Blizzard have been around for almost the same period of time. They’ve built incredible audiences. They have their own unique cultures, and they do things very differently. They’re both very successful RPG developers."

Quote of the Day

"One thing that everyone should remember is that Valve got its start through the support and community mindedness of id [Software]. So if it hadn't been for John Carmack, Jay Wilbur, Michael Abrash supporting us and encouraging us in what we did, Valve wouldn't have gotten its start. -- Valve Managing Director Gabe Newell.

On Sale

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

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Live Feed: Bald Eagle Nest. Thanks Ant.

THQ Stock Drops

Gamasutra reports that THQ's stock price plunged about 25% today, though they add that "a small portion of that decrease has been reversed in after hour trading as of this writing." They speculate this may be due in part to reviews for Homefront, as Metacritic shows the just-released first-person shooter as having scores of 74 (mixed or average) on PC, 72 (mediocre) on Xbox 360, and 76 (generally favorable) on PlayStation3. They note a couple of other factors that may play into this are disappointing sales of the Wii-based uDraw tablet and platformer De Blob 2. Thanks Joao.

Brink Class Trailer, EU Preorder Bonuses

The Bethesda Blog offers a new trailer from Brink, the first-person shooter due in May from Splash Damage. Word is the clip shows "a glimpse at the game’s classes and how they work together on the battlefield. Titled 'A Matter of Class', the trailer also shows off this year’s playable PAX East centerpiece Security Tower along with a few other of the Ark’s districts." Also, following on the North American Brink pre-order bonuses announced last August, a new update outlines bonuses for preordering the game in Europe.

E.Y.E Delayed, Soundtrack Released

The E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy Website announces another delay for this Source-engine shooter/RPG that was announced for release in Spring 2009 before a delay to an indeterminate date was announced in October 2009. The new update says they were set to release the game at the end of last month before the developers at Streum on Studio decided it needed more polish. They say they "preferred to re-work these few points to offer you a game as perfect as possible instead of hastening ourselves to release it," and that a new release date will be announced "very soon." As a consolation prize, they are offering the game's original soundtrack as a free release.

Prey 2 Not Using Tech 5

The announcement of Prey 2 from yesterday stated Human Head's upcoming first-person shooter sequel "is being built on the cutting edge id tech engine from id Software," which lead to our presumption that this referred to the Tech 5 engine that will power RAGE and DOOM 4. This turns out not to be the case. There's a footnote updating IGN's story about the announcement, where they correct their own Tech 5 assumption, as it turns out the game will use a slightly less cutting edge prior version of the engine. They quote Bethesda Softworks' Pete Hines on the topic: "This game has been in development for quite a while and id Tech 5 is still in progress (until Rage ships, and probably even after). So it really wasn't an option." Thanks VG247.

Ships Ahoy - Homefront

THQ announces that Homefront has invaded stores worldwide, offering Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 gamers the chance to play Kaos Studios' first-person shooter based on a near-future invasion of the U.S.A. by the Greater Korean Republic. The release is accompanied by this new trailer combining live action and gameplay footage showing the (hopefully) fictional future history that leads to a unified Korea, the invasion and occupation of the U.S., and the resistance that is the central theme of the game. "Homefront combines a unique, emotive single player campaign with an incredible online multiplayer experience," said Danny Bilson, EVP Core Games, THQ. "Kaos Studios has created the definitive large scale warfare experience on console and PC, and innovations like Battle Points and Battle Commander offer a completely new twist on the genre, and make the game accessible and rewarding for newcomers and FPS veterans alike."

Dragon Age II Controversy of the Day

A post on Reddit centers on a since-deleted user review for Dragon Age II on Metacritic which seems to have been written by a BioWare engineer under the name Avanost, giving the game a glowing review without disclosing his conflict of interest. This has set off a firestorm of irate commentary, and also seems to have generated backlash, as a number of recent user reviews give the game a score of zero. There are links to cached pages that don't seem to reflect what's in the story, but nin found a cached copy of the Metacritic page that does show a portion of Avanost's 10/10 review. A Reddit comment also notes there is also a 10/10 review by a one-review user named LupoTheeButcher, which is also the nickname of a moderator on the BioWare Social Network. There's also a thread about this on the BioWare Social Network.

WoW Patch Plans

A post from last week on outlines the new patch on the Public Test Realms for World of Warcraft where players can check out changes in an upcoming version 4.1 patch for Blizzard's MMORPG. Included is word on plans to reopen Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman and an outline of further class changes, as they say: "While we do intend to make fewer balance changes in patch 4.1, you can still expect to find a fair number of updates." Thanks Ant.

Aion PvP Events

NCsoft announces two PvP events in their MMORPG Aion which will go live starting tomorrow:

Behind Enemy Lines
This is a Rifting event will last a week until 23rd March. During this event, the defensive PvP buff will be removed in the zones of Heiron and Beluslan, encouraging spies from both factions to engage deep behind enemy lines (the defensive buff will remain in place for Eltnen and Morheim).

For War and Glory
This is an Abyss Points (AP) event that goes on for two weeks until 30th March. During this event, AP loss from PvP encounters in the Abyss and Silentera Canyon will be reduced by 50%, with all other zones resulting in a normal amount of AP loss. As well as this reduction in AP loss, the amount of AP gained from monsters in the Abyss and Silentera Canyon will be increased for the period, providing more AP per kill (this increase does not include monsters inside any of Atreia’s dungeons).

Portal 2 Video Interview

There's a Portal 2 video interview on Games On Net where Valve programmer Jeep Barnett and marketing maven Doug Lombardi discuss the upcoming first-person puzzle game sequel. They discuss Jeep's transition from hobbyist on Narbacular Drop to professional, supporting multiple platforms and console control tuning, cross platform co-op support, Source engine enhancements, play testing and refining puzzles, difficulty levels, and more.

Shogun 2 Interview

Total War: Shogun 2 Interview on Armchair General talks with Craig Laycock of The Creative Assembly about their real-time strategy sequel, which is being released today. Topics include plans to expand the company, the game's artwork, game modifications, multiplayer balance, their avatar system, matchmaking, family trees, trading, religion, and more.

Dawn of War II Voiceover Trailer

A Dawn of War II trailer introduces some of the talented folks providing the voices for the characters in Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II and offers some behind-the-scenes footage of the recording sessions for the real-time strategy sequel. Thanks GreyViper.

Impulse Top 10

Here's the list of the ten bestselling titles on Impulse for the week of March 6-12:

  1. Dragon Age II
  2. Starpoint Gemini
  3. Sins of a Solar Empire - Trinity
  4. Sins of a Solar Empire Expansion Bundle
  5. Crazy Machines Bundle
  6. Battlefield Bad Company 2
  7. Academagia - The Making of Mages
  8. Elemental: War of Magic
  9. Galactic Civilizations II - Ultimate Edition
  10. Sins of a Solar Empire - Diplomacy

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

New NVIDIA reviews.


Out of the Blue

Today is Idus Martii, the Ides of March, which would probably be forgotten today were it not the occasion when Julius Caesar was assassinated. This was immortalized by William Shakespeare with the whole "beware the Ides of March" warning. This year in particular one can only hope that this doesn't apply, as there have been more than enough disasters leading up to the Ides, and the situation in Japan sounds worse with every news report. Here's hoping the omen works in reverse, and things start improving from here.

Ides of Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Carveola Incident.
Cops vs Supers.
Links: ROTFLSHMSFOAIDMT. Thanks Neatorama.
An Open Letter to the Citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom.
How "Dungeons & Dragons" changed my life. Thanks Neatorama.
Stories: Snakes dies of silicone poisoning after biting woman's breast.
Two Dogs Defy the Wave. Thanks nin.
Newhall names Dr. Richard Frankenstein as chief medical officer. Thanks Neatorama.
Science: Volunteers 'vital to science data collection'. Thanks Acleacius.
Images: T-Shirt Mash Up Of The Day.
Cyoot Puppeh ob teh Day.
M thru F: Nobody Notices Anyway.
Media: Conan Rips Nicolas Cage - Threat Level.
Kinect Self-Awareness Hack.
Cat Plays Dead.
The Funnies: Brevity.
Follow-up: Movies Pulled After Japan Disaster.

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