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Monday, May 16, 2011


On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport

This University of Washington research paper (Adobe Acrobat format) attempts to explain the enduring popularity of StarCraft as a spectator support (thanks Ant via Slashdot). The primary conclusion they draw is that the game benefits from information asymmetry, as spectators are aware of things the players aren't, and vice versa. Here's a bit on that:

All information asymmetry is reduced and eliminated as the game progresses. But as the information is revealed, the spectator is entertained in the process. The revelation of this information, slowly teased out, creates suspense for spectators and players. In an article of ―why Starcraft attracts crowds so often‖ listing 14 examples of exciting spectacles [4], the majority were cases of information asymmetry leading to suspense. The examples were: crazy unexpected strategies (player has information advantage), air chases, mine drags, storm blankets, reavers, and the clash (outcomes are highly variable and thus unknown), lurker hold position trick, arbiter recall on mines, and nukes (the spectator has an information advantage over the victim player). For example, as flying transportation vessels float over enemy frontlines, spectators watch in anticipation, wondering if they will be shot down by the opponent‘s turrets or if they will make it to the mining workers, devastating the opponent‘s economy. Starcraft‘s strength in attracting spectators lies in its many situations of long teasing information asymmetries of all three types. These drawn out unknowns build suspense for the spectators and their release is a source of entertainment.

Ruined Open Beta

Open beta testing is now underway for Ruined, a Unity-engine arena combat game from Bigpoint which is their first title created entirely in the United States. Here's word on how this game makes it good to be bad: "Set in wrecked venues inspired by some of San Francisco’s best known landmarks -- such as the Golden Gate Bridge -- Ruined is a fast-paced, tournament-style third-person shooter that pits players against one another in a competition to become the ultimate villain."

Dragon Age Legends Remix 01

EA2D announces the launch of Dragon Age Legends Remix 01, a hack-and-slash remix of the Flash-based Dragon Age Legends Facebook game. The game is currently exclusively on IGN and will be released elsewhere soon. Word is: "EA2D is proud to announce a collaboration between Dragon Age™ Legends, the innovative Play4Free online RPG now available on Facebook®, and the indie game developer Pixelante to build Dragon Age Legends: Remix 01. In this groundbreaking collaboration, the Dragon Age Legends team handed over their creative assets to the award winning developer of games like Hunted Forever (one of Time Magazine's Top 10 Games of 2008), Pixel Legions, and ImmorTall to interpret as he saw fit. The result is Dragon Age Legends: Remix 01, an action packed hack 'n slash Flash game."

Operation Flashpoint: Red River Sniper Trailer

A new trailer from Operation Flashpoint: Red River offers a biography of Corporal Jose Soto, a scout/sniper in Codemasters' upcoming military shooter sequel. The clip introduces the corporal's back story, explains the art of being a sniper, and shows off his sharpshooting skills. Here's the embedded version. Continue here to read the full story.

RAGE Interview

This interview on GamingBolt talks with Tim Willits, asking the id Software Creative Director about RAGE, id's upcoming first-person shooter. Topics include id's influence on the games industry, the decision to eschew traditional deathmatch for RAGE, how complete the game is at this time, the lengthy gap since their last game, storytelling, RAGE's setting, driving elements, their transition into the console space, Tech 5, his preferences among id's previous games, and more. Thanks reddit.

Sword of the Stars II Interview

The Sword of the Stars II interview on GameShark chats with Chris Stewart, producer on Kerberos' upcoming 4X strategy sequel. Topics include an overview of the franchise, how the growth of Kerberos since the first SotS is changing their approach, the impact of the game's new engine, working with Paradox, adding firepower to the sequel, new ships, changes to how the galaxy is depicted, interface changes, and more.

New Digitally Distributed Games

  • APOX: Legend DLC on Steam.
  • CreaVures on Impulse.
  • DETOUR on Steam.
  • FINAL FANTASY XI Ultimate Collection - Abyssea Edition on Steam.
  • Inside a Star-filled Sky on Steam.
  • Magicka: Marshlands DLC on Impulse.
  • Magicka: Vietnam DLC on Impulse.
  • Magicka Wizard Survival Kit DLC on Impulse.
  • Terraria on Steam.

On Sale

Impulse Top 10

Here's the Impulse Weekly Top 10 for the week of 5/8-5/14:

  1. Space Pirates and Zombies Pre-Order BETA
  2. Sins of a Solar Empire Trinity
  3. Elemental
  4. Galactic Civilizations II Ultimate Edition
  5. Sins of a Solar Empire Expansion Bundle
  6. World War One Gold
  7. Supreme Commander Gold
  8. Grotesque Tactics
  9. Trapped Dead
  10. Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: The Complete Edition

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: CAT TANK! Thanks Ant.

Duke Nukem Forever First Access Demo on June 3rd [Updated]

This trailer from Duke Nukem Forever announces plans to release the first access demo for Gearbox Software's shooter sequel on June 3rd in advance of the game's international release on June 10th and its debut in North America on June 14th. The trailer is narrated by the ever-enthusiastic Randy Pitchford, and plays off the game's delay announcement in revealing the news. The catch is that to qualify for the first access club one must pre-order the game through a participating merchant, as detailed on this page, or (update) by owning the Borderlands: Game of the Year edition (thanks Dirwulf). There's no word at this time on when the demo will be released for all. The embedded version of the trailer follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Gotham City Impostors Announced

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment announce Gotham City Impostors, an online first-person shooter in development at Monolith Productions for digital distribution on Windows and consoles "where players battle for control of an unhinged Gotham City overrun by impostors inspired by the DC Comics characters Batman and The Joker." A preliminary Gotham City Impostors Website is online, though at the moment all it has are pointers to the game's Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. The game does not yet have a release date, but their Twitter feed says that "E3 judges got a chance to play our first map, Amusement Mile, home of the 'Fun Hole'!!" (there was apparently a pre-E3 preview session... soon the entire year will be E3), and there's a preview of the game on Kotaku where they say that since everyone in the game would want to play as Batman, no one does, an odd twist on giving the customer what he wants. They describe a multiplayer-only game with no story that "feels a bit like a Team Fortress game."

Rise of Immortals Beta Key Giveaway

Important! If you are requesting a key, please read the notes at the end of this post to make sure they are still available. We now have keys to distribute for the closed beta testing of Rise of Immortals, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) in development at Petroglyph Games which uses the same setting as Guardians of Graxia, their fantasy-themed tactical combat game. This follows our surprisingly successful Age of Empires Online giveaway, which has now concluded, and we will take advantage of a few of lessons learned from that promotion to try to make this process as smooth as possible: Therefore all requests for keys should be made by replying to this thread alone, and a key will be sent to the email address associated with your account (to keep things organized, future mentions of the giveaway will point back here). Keys will be distributed on a first-come/first-served basis, and when the supply is exhausted, that will be noted in an update to this post (if you request a key after it states here they are all gone, you will not receive a response). Finally, anyone who wants more than one key can say so in their request, but they will only receive one for now. If we still have keys a week from today, we'll send out extras, once again in the order the requests were received.

Brink Tweak Tool

Rush-Zone offers downloads of version 1.4 of Brink Configurator, offering the ability to tweak field of view and other elements of Brink, Splash Damage's first-person shooter. Word is: "This program is to be used with the Brink it allows you to configure settings that are not in the in-game menus." Thanks PC Gamer.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Facebook Campaign

Eidos-Montreal and Square Enix want everyone to "like" the Deus Ex: Human Revolution Facebook Page, and they're not above bribes to accomplish this. Here's word on plans for social promotion of the upcoming action/RPG prequel: "The new program, which launches today, offers more than 90 individual rewards for Facebook fans, including new wallpapers, screenshots and concept art as well as further details on in-game Augmentations, weapons and the story."

U.K. Sales Charts

GfK Chart-Track has their list of the 20 bestselling PC entertainment titles in the U.K. for the week ending May 14. This week Brink enters the chart at number one and SHIFT 2: Unleashed reenters at #13, while Crysis 2 moves up five spots to number 7. The biggest drop for the week is Dragon Age 2, which falls nine spots to #19. MCV has the all-platform charts, where Brink is also number one and LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean enters at number two.

Gay Character Plans: ME3 Yes, DNF No

Casey Hudson tweets about the inclusion of potential gay love interests in Mass Effect 3, BioWare's upcoming RPG sequel: "Happy to confirm #ME3 supports wider options for love interests incl. same-sex for m&f chars, reactive to how you interact w/them in-game" (thanks Joystiq via GayGamer). On a semi-related note, a recent post on Eurogamer has word that a "gay robot" sidekick (Claptrap?) was dropped from plans for Duke Nukem Forever, though this character could still appear in a future title. The idea was "to explore how Duke would relate to a peer that might have a different sexual orientation," says Randy Pitchford. The Gearbox boss offers a spoiler while attempting to avoid spoilers: "I don't want to spoil it because we might go there. Ultimately the robot was in a situation where for an order for victory against the aliens to be accomplished, the robot's inner workings – a nuclear generator – had to be sacrificed" (thanks Kotaku via GayGamer).

SOE MMOGs Back Online

The Sony Online Entertainment Website has word that SOE's MMOGs are back online following an extended outage:

We are pleased to be back online and deeply apologize for the inconvenience caused by the recent data breach and subsequent outage.

To thank you all for your patience and understanding, we have prepared a Welcome Back Program that includes complimentary identity theft protection, free game time and special in-game items and events.

Reminder: As an added security measure, we require a password reset for your Station Account - we recommend you do this immediately.

For Customer Support, visit

More MW3 in November Clues

IGN has an image from their "anonymous retail sources" said to be a poster for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which includes a November 8, 2011 release date, which follows a previous indication that this will be when to expect the next installment in this military shooter series. This is supposedly from Australia, so if it's bona fide, it provides an indication that the 8th will be the game's global release date. Adding fuel to this fire is, where they are now accepting preorders for the game, which is listed with a November 8 release date. Thanks VG247 via Major nelson's Twitter feed.

Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell, and Ghost Recon 3D Film Plans

Variety follows up on Ubisoft's movie studio plans with word that this will result in three 3D films based on game franchises; Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell, and Ghost Recon. Word is:

An epic action-adventure, "Assassin's Creed" turns on the conflict between Templars and Assassins, two secret orgs with different ideologies who have influenced, according to the game, most major historical events.

An action drama in the vein of "The Bourne Identity," "Splinter Cell" turns on an elite secret agent fighting world terrorism and struggling to protect his daughter.

"Ghost Recon," a tech-driven war actioner set in the near future, follows a secret, elite team of soldiers fighting for world peace with cutting-edge military technology.

Baronnet said Ubisoft Motion Pictures has been working with the games' producers and Ubisoft's marketing team to identify the DNA of each game and come up with storylines that are consistent.

Why No Windows Fable II

BeefJack has word from Microsoft Game Studios on why Fable II is skipping the Windows platform, since the first game in Lionhead's RPG series was released for PC and the third installment is on its way. "With Fable III the team and time was right to create a PC version," says senior designer Mike West. "Once the game went to submission the content creators started working on DLC and therefore the coders were free to start on the PC version." As for Fable II, he explains: "Unfortunately for Fable II fans, those same coders are already working on new projects and going back to a Fable II conversion isn’t a priority I’m afraid." Thanks VG247.

FPS and MMO Manifesto Summits

FragWorld announces plans for 2011 leadership summits for both massively multiplayer online games as well as first-person shooters, to come up with updated manifestos for each genre in the vein of The First Person Shooter Community Manifesto they issued last year. Registrations for each summit are currently underway, and the town hall for the FPS Manifesto will be held via TeamSpeak on Sunday, May 22 at 8:00 pm EDT and the MMO town hall is on Wednesday, June 1 at 9:00 pm EDT.

The Creative Assembly Interview

There's an interview with The Creative Assembly on Strategy Informer, talking with TCA's Tim Heaton, and SEGA's Gary Dunn about what's going on at the U.K.-based developer, focusing on their recently revealed game based on the Aliens movies. They are still playing it coy about the genre of the new game and resist being pinned down on other specifics, though they also discuss DLC and other post-release support for Shogun 2. Since the new game announcement centers on console versions, they ask about connections to the Brisbane studio that created Stormrise, but were told that this is no longer part of The Creative Assembly: "We divested the Brisbane studio from the Creative Assembly stewardship, and we'll be making an announcement within the next few weeks about what they're working on next."

Chris Avellone on Choices and Consequences

An interview on Iron Tower offers thoughts from Obsidian Entertainment's Chris Avellone on choices and consequences in videogames. Topics include story and linearity, creating meaningful choices, diplomacy, violence versus conversation, multiple quest solutions, and more. Thanks Acleacius via RPGWatch.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

I recently did a little achievement hunting in Portal 2. One of them involves refusing to solve a puzzle, but there was no indication of how long this refusal would take. I eventually just left my computer on all night, and the next day, the achievement was still not triggered. I eventually figured out what I was doing wrong, but now my time played on the game shows 12 or more hours of zombie time. Oh well, I guess that counts on some level, though I'd prefer if that figure reflected actual play time.

R.I.P.: Sir Lattimore Brown. Thanks nin.

Achiever Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Fault Line.
Paper Floods.
Links: Michael Keaton’s dark memories of ‘Batman’ and shining love for ‘Beetlejuice’.
Thor press kit causes bomb scare in bus terminal.
Hilarious Anime Subtitles.
Stories: Syfy defends canceling 'Stargate Universe'.
Serial killer stages hunger strike over PlayStation.
Science: Directed evolution gets a significant speed boost.
Images: Videogames Alphabet and Simpsons Alphabet.
12-Sided Cthulhu Dice.
R2-D2 Smoker of the Day.
Media: Nintendo Nerd Rap of the Day.
An entire mall gets punk'd with the t-back prank.
Best iFart Use of the Day.
The Funnies: Penny Arcade! - His Dark Thesis. Thanks nin.
Follow-up: German TV: 'Star Trek' terrorists killed bin Laden. Thanks Neutronbeam.

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