Archived News:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Brink DLC and Stats Plans

The Bethesda Blog has word that the Brink statistics site will go live next Tuesday for the console versions of SplashDamage's multiplayer shooter, while stats for those playing the Windows edition will follow "very soon." They also have details on the Agents of Change DLC that's due next month, outlining how it will raise the level cap to 24, and add new maps, new player abilities, new weapon attachments, and new character outfits.

Section 8: Prejudice Map Pack Next Week

The Section 8: Prejudice Website announces plans to release a new Overdrive map pack on Wednesday for the Windows and Xbox 360 editions of Timegate's first-person shooter. Here's word on the two multiplayer maps in the 320 MS Points ($3.99 USD) pack:
The Overdrive Map Pack includes two new multiplayer maps, Abaddon and Sky Dock. Amidst the magma craters of Abaddon, protect a power cell facility built on a scalding energy source. Sky Dock is a crucial military base and space port nestled in the frozen tundra. Each map is playable in both multiplayer and offline play for all game modes, which includes Swarm, Conquest, and the recently community-unlocked Assault game mode.

Modern Warfare 3 Survival Mode Detailed

USATODAY.com has details on Spec Ops "survival mode" in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the upcoming military shooter sequel (thanks Computer and Video Games). Here's a bit on that:
As we dispatched ever-increasing waves of enemies, I discarded my pistol for a shotgun. Rubin passed me some in-game currency and I bought and installed a turret to keep the evildoers at bay, while I watched for attack dogs.

After a few waves, the attack dogs became suicide bomber dogs that exploded a few seconds after you shot them. The next wave brought the kamikaze soldiers who exploded similarly.

Futuremark Teases Three Games

A new teaser trailer from Futuremark Games Studio teases three upcoming unannounced games. From the looks of things, one is a stylized space defense game, another a casual-looking microscopic critter game, and the third a space combat game that looks pretty high-end. Presumably further details will follow soon enough. Here's the embedded version. Continue here to read the full story.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Trooper Trailer

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Website has a new video trailer from BioWare's upcoming Star Wars MMORPG. The new clip demonstrates Trooper progression, as word is: "As the elite Trooper rises through the ranks of the Republic military, there are several ways he can specialize his training, and several sets of armor and weapons to match."

Rise of Immortals Podcast, Beta Keys

The Rise of Immortals Forums point the way to another closed beta audiocast, titled "Another Closed Beta Audiocast," talking about Rise of Immortals, Petroglyph's Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. If you are interested in checking out the closed beta of the MOBA, we have a bunch of them to hand out, so follow these instructions and we'll send one along.

New Via Digital Distribution

GOG.com is hinting at something mysterious (cue organ music).

Games

  • Homefront on Impulse.
  • The Sims Medieval on Steam.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Retribution on Impulse.
  • Winter Voices on Steam.

Patches

On Sale

  • All DotEmu Games on GOG.com. Save 50%.
  • Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Brothers in Arms Pack on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Homefront on Direct2Drive. Save 33%.
  • Homefront on Impulse. Save 33%.
  • Star Trek Online Digital Deluxe Edition on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Strategy Games on Direct2Drive. Save up to 75%.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Retribution on Impulse. Save 33%.
    Still on sale (previously reported). Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Screenshots

etc., etc.

Creatures Comeback This Year

Bigben Interactive, Gameware and Fishing Cactus announce plans to revive the Creatures franchise with the release of a fourth installment in the artificial life series later this year, saying: "The approach will be to maintain the characteristics and integrity of the earlier games." The new Creatures will be launched as a free-to-play online game for Windows, OS X, and iOS, and the announcement adds: "A collector gift box full of surprises will also be created." We were able to confirm that the free-to-play game will be microtransaction-based, though "most of the content will be entirely free." The plan for the boxed edition is still TBD, so we'll wait for more details on that. Says Benoît Clerc of Bigben Interactive: "We are very pleased and proud to participate to the rebirth of such a precursor of the videogame’s history, a title which became mythical and has left its mark on many gamers. This new chapter, in Free to Play for PC and iOS, keeps all mechanisms of its distinguished predecessors and will gather new genuine gaming principles which will certainly seduce everyone."

FIFA 12 Trailer, New Engine Skips PC

A new video for FIFA 12 was leaked on the YouTube before it was removed by the men in black (oops, looks like it's still on Dailymotion), offering a first look at the upcoming installment in the association football/soccer series. Eurogamer has a write up on what it shows, including features of the game's new "Impact engine." In a separate post they note, however, that this new engine will not be used in the PC edition, which is not the first time this series has held back its updated engine from the cutting edge. The reasoning behind this decision is not offered.

Volition's New IP

During a conversation with Volition's David Abzug, VideoGamer.com learned from the lead designer on Red Faction: Armageddon that the developer is working on a new game based on a new intellectual property in addition to their upcoming collaboration with director Guillermo del Toro on inSANE. "There are, but I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about them," he said when asked about new IPs. A follow-up answer about the first-person shooter genre suggests the new game will not be an FPS: "I would like to return to it with another IP, yeah." He elaborates, suggesting this will be a third-person game: "First-person and third-person are just two different ways of making it. There are things that first-person does better, there are things that third-person does better. Third-person gives you more situational awareness, first-person makes you feel more involved in the action. Third-person lets you see your character more, first-person gives you a more claustrophobic view - it's better for a military shooter." Thanks VG247.

BioWare on Dragon Age II Criticisms

A post on the Dragon Age II forum on the BioWare Social Network titled by BioWare's Mike Laidlaw discusses some of the negative feedback they've seen about Dragon Age II, saying "I’d like to take this opportunity to address some lingering concerns and clear the air somewhat" (thanks nin via Kotaku/BeefJack). Here's a portion with his take on the pros and cons of their RPG sequel:
Following the launch of DA II, I did some interviews and some of you interpreted my statements to mean I was blind to the concerns that have been voiced repeatedly on these forums. That was never my intent, nor the message I wanted to convey.

I am absolutely aware of the concerns voiced here. Issues like level re-use, the implementation of wave combat, concerns about the narrative and significance of choice and so on have all been not only noted, but examined, inspected and even aided me (and many, many others on the team) in formulating future plans. Further, I'm not only aware of the concerns, but I agree that there are aspects of DA II that not only can but must be improved in future installments. And that is precisely our intent.

Finally, let me conclude by saying that while we are all aware of your concerns, I am very proud of what the team accomplished with Dragon Age II. I know many are advocating a "it wasn't broke, why did you try to fix it?" stance, and I absolutely understand why. From my perspective, as someone looking to the future and the DA franchise, I think that DA II moved us into a space that has more potential.

Dungeon Empires Launches

Browser-based online RPG Dungeon Empires is now out of beta, though as a free-to-play game, this is a fairly fine distinction. Here's a bit on how the game allows players to assume the role of dungeon master to create challenges for other players:
Dungeon Empires offers lots of possibilities for creating spaces. Players can choose from a variety of room styles, fixtures and elements to that their creatures feel at home in their dungeon. From giant rats, skeletons and trolls all the way to huge dragons, each creature needs its master's attention. If the creatures are well-cared for, they will repay the favor with increased motivation and effectivity.

Players also create their own hero to raid other players' dungeons. The focus can be placed on strength, dexterity or magic. With each increase in level, the hero will receive stat points that can be invested in skills and spells. The hero license system is a special highlight. Players can create a license for their hero and send it to friends so that they can take the player's hero out on raids with them.

New Evochron Mercenary

A new version 1.428 of Evochron Mercenary is now available, offering an updated edition of this space combat game. This page offers downloads of the new version, which can patch previous editions of the game, as well as a playable demo for those looking for a sample. Word is: "The new multiplayer system is designed for improved performance, utilizes multiple CPU cores better, and should provide better compatibility with a wider range of network devices." There is also an updated version of the game's customization kit. The full change list follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - The Slow, Strange Death Of The Demo.
The other side of the coin is making the increasing rareness of a demo a promotional event in itself – the Duke Nukem Forever demo got its own announcement video, and will for a while be made exclusive to people who bought specific editions of Borderlands. It’s not about promoting the game, about letting people establish whether or not they’re interested in the game, but instead it’s treated as a reward to be fought and paid for, a product in itself: the polar opposite of the traditional demo. I don’t like having to beg to be marketed at. See also: Facebook Likes unlocking screenshots. Promotion becomes the reward, one we plead for rather than one we choose to assess.

Ars Technica - The death march: the problem of crunch time in game development.
It's also important to remember that not all employees in the game industry are working on projects they are passionate about. It's pretty hard to imagine the entire staff behind the latest Dora the Explorer game being gung-ho about their work every day. Even those who are lucky enough to work on amazing AAA projects often aren't creatively stimulated. If you're the guy who makes different brick textures for the buildings in GTA4, or the guy who programs the way fire behaves when it spreads to different substances, that's not the same as being a top-level designer.

Ars Technica - Modern Warfare 3 vs. Battlefield 3: the difference is in the PC.
That's the other reason Battlefield 3 has my attention: I can see what the engine is doing. The environments will feature massive destruction, and the animation of the soldiers is almost uncanny. It's immediately noticeable from a graphical perspective, and the physics updates will impact the game. Watching the Modern Warfare 3 presentation left me squinting as I tried to see what's new in the engine. Where are the big updates? We may see them later, but that's something you need to put front and center when you show a game for the first time.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Today kicks off the Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S., marking the unofficial beginning of summer. More importantly, this commemorates the sacrifice of those who've lost their life in the armed forces, which seems especially poignant for a country that's currently involved in the longest war in our history.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Arnold's Fury.
Pogo Rampage.
Links: Contest for the Worst PowerPoint Slide Ever.
Science: Can Space X and Orbital step up for NASA?
Images: Satellite images of Joplin, Mo., before and after the tornado. Thanks Kxmode.
Media: The Science Of Making Out.
Back to the Future Alternate Ending: Biff is Dead.
Tornadoes 2011: NASA's Incredible Footage and Storm chaser in Oklahoma drives underneath.
Auction: Unabomber's personal possessions set for creepy online auction.
The Funnies: The pros and cons of a man sitting down to pee.
Follow-up: 40 More Terrible Videogame Voices - Dean's Face Acting.
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