Archived News:

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

Howard on Bugs and Why Skyrim is Not an MMOG

Joystiq spoke with Bethesda's Todd Howard about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim during PAX, learning more about Bethesda's upcoming RPG sequel. He has an interesting comment about bugs, which at this point are a signature component of the series, saying: "We try to solve most of it, we're sensitive to a lot of it. There is a subset of that where we say 'Well, that's what can happen.' If there's entertainment value in that, whatever it is, we'll leave a lot of it. If it's gonna break the game, or unbalance the game in some way, we do try to solve it. If the solution is gonna make the game less fun ... well, hey, leave it in." He also explains why they are not pursuing an online component or making this an MMORPG:
"I like this kind of game better," he said. "You know, it's what most of us are into. I'm not really an MMO guy. I respect them, I look at them, but I don't play them. It feels more real to me when I'm the hero and it's crafted for that. A community aspect to it, I recognize a lot of people would want that in a game like this, but it changes the flavor for me.

"The audience we have for our kind of thing is big enough that we don't have to tone it down. We can just do our thing, and it's kind of grown with each game. So there was no pressure from anybody above me to say 'Hey, you need to change this.'"

Call of Duty XP Not Yet Sold Out

The Call of Duty XP Website is still offering ticket sales for this Call of Duty gaming convention, even though tickets have been available for almost six weeks and the event kicks off in under 48 hours. When Call of Duty XP was announced, Activision said it would host "more than 6,000 fans," but GameSpy confirmed with Activision that tickets are still available. This is a striking contrast to Activision's other gaming convention, BlizzCon, for which tickets traditionally sell out in minutes, in spite of hosting approximately 27,000 attendees in 2010, and, according to reports, more than 30,000 this year. For those interested, tickets to the Los Angeles event are available to those at least 18 years of age for $150.00, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Call of Duty Endowment. Attendees will receive the Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition and get to see performances by Dropkick Murphys and Kanye West. Also, Shacknews points to a Call of Duty XP 2011: Recap Day 1 video and a hyped-up Call of Duty XP 2011Walkthrough with Robert Bowling.

Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition Details Leak

Speaking of the Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition (above), has a leaked image promoting this special edition of the upcoming military shooter sequel revealing what makes it so hardened. The contents are revealed to include "unique disc art, a collectible steel case and a 100-page 'field journal' packed with Call of Duty sketches and diagrams." It also comes with a free one-year membership to Call of Duty Elite, the game's upcoming premium multiplayer service, which includes "founder's status," which provides "exclusive in-game emblem, player card, camouflage, clan XP boost and other exclusive benefits." Thanks Computer and Video Games.

Take-Two Sued by Former QA Tester

Take-Two is being sued by former QA tester Aaron Martinez, who accuses Take-Two subsidiary Visual Concepts of failing to provide legally mandated breaks and overtime pay. VG247 sums up the details in the case, saying the plaintiff is asking a California court to designate this a class action, stating "over 400 employees were not compensated for overtime and not provided with lunch breaks." They also have Take-Two's denial, saying the plaintiff "fails to state facts and is unable to state facts," and that the firm compensated employees "at the legally required rate for hours worked in excess of 8 hours per day." This includes reporting from NeoGAF, Develop, and Edge.

New Miner Wars 2081 Alpha

The Miner Wars Website now offers downloads of an updated pre-alpha version of Miner Wars 2081, the upcoming first-person action-survival space simulation game. the new version includes new features, including a new HUD and GUI, new weapons, improved AI, and more. It also includes as an in-game editor and prefab modules to allow the creation of new space ships, space stations, and more.

Hawken Desert Trailer

Another new work in progress gameplay trailer from Hawken is now available, showing off the game's dusty desert environment (which is probably hell on a mech's moving parts), as well as more combat from this UDK-engine shooter in the works at indie developer Adhesive Games. The clip concludes with a bunch of photos from a "Hawken Landmark Challenge."

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Turns 15

The Bethesda Blog notes the 15th anniversary of the release of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall turns 15 with a series of unboxing photos of the second installment in the RPG series, showing the old days when boxed games included more than just the game media. For those interested in revisiting the game, Bethesda released it for free a couple of years ago on The Elder Scrolls Website.


"FYI - The Serious Sam 3 EULA grants me access to any snacks I want from your house and 15 minutes with your mom's hot friend Beth." -- Fictional Devolver Digital CFO Fork Parker.

New Via Digital Distribution


  • Puzzle Pirates on Steam.


  • Portal 2 on Steam.
  • War Inc. Battlezone on Steam.

On Sale

Evening Previews

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Winning Million Dollars By Cheating On Game Show. Albeit quite drawn out. Thanks Ant.

Star Wars Galaxies Endgame Plans

The Sony Station Forums have word that the closure of Star Wars Galaxies on December 15 will involve an "epic" conclusion to the galactic civil war in the Star Wars MMORPG (thanks Eurogamer). This will be open to all players with an active paid subscription, an active Game Pass, or SOE All Access Game Pass in good standing as of September 15, as word is: "Recurring SWG Game Passes will not be billed after September 15, 2011." Here's some detail on the plan:
Beginning in September, the ongoing Galactic Civil War will escalate further as both sides seek to decisively win the epic conflict. In addition to all of the current Galactic Civil War activities, new events and contests will provide you with new ways to earn Galactic Civil War points and advantages you can use to help your side win.

At a time and date yet to be announced, but prior to December 15th, all Galactic Civil War points will be tallied by server. The side with the higher score will win the game, and the galaxy, for each server, as well as change the way the game will end and what happens in the final moments. Celebrations will be in order for those who win and, for the losers, let’s just say they’ll be going out with a bang.

Neutral players will also see new decorations in the Storyteller system that will allow them to host their own shutdown events if they choose to opt out of the final battles in the Galactic Civil War.

Driver: San Francisco "Garage" Trailer

A new trailer from Driver: San Francisco offers a look at the garage level in the upcoming driving game, which is a direct homage to the garage training course in the original Driver: You Are the Wheelman, which itself was a video game homage to a scene in The Driver, Walter Hill's 1970s Ryan O'Neal vehicle. In another film reference, this note accompanied the video, though we're not sure it's serious: "Fun fact: To time travel back to the garage level from the original Driver in Driver San Francisco, simply find a DeLorean, shift into it, and drive 88 MPH." Continue here to read the full story.

Call of Duty XP Paintball Field has a photo of the paintball field that will be part of the festivities at the Call of Duty XP event this weekend in Los Angeles. This was described as "an astonishing real-world recreation of Modern Warfare 2's fan-favorite Scrapyard level," but it seems to be a loose interpretation (though it may still be under construction). Appropriately, they say the shot was captured using a remote aircraft, or a UAV, if you will. We're not sure how classified this information is supposed to be, but since this field will be used for competitions, it seems only fair to put the word out to all to avoid any one team having an unfair advantage in crafting their strategies.

Uncut RAGE for Germany, DOOM and DOOM II No Longer Indexed

The Bethesda Blog has word that Bethesda has successfully appealed to the German ratings board, and now DOOM and DOOM II are no longer indexed, so both first-person shooters are cleared for sale in Germany. Each now carries a 16+ rating, and they are working towards releasing them to allow German gamers to party like it's 1993. They also indicate that RAGE has passed the strict German ratings system, and the uncensored version of id's upcoming shooter will be sold in Germany, saying: "While we work to make both DOOMs available widely there, we’re also set to release an entirely uncut version of id Software’s RAGE to German stores. Look for it on October 7!"

Dead Island Release Trailer

We have a new launch trailer for Dead Island, celebrating next week's release of Techland's zombie action game, which is due on September 6 in North America and September 9 elsewhere. The clip features some gameplay and cinematics, and it's accompanied by this description: "Set in an open world tropical island, hordes of different festering zombies await players around every corner while they embark on a variety of thrilling missions through the holiday resort. With firearms and ammunition being scarce the player must rely on discovering and utilising items as weapons for self-defense and fighting off zombie hordes in intense melee combat. A diverse range of items can be collected and will later serve to transform the player’s ordinary makeshift weapons into serious instruments of destruction." Here's more:
Dead Island™, the upcoming gruesome zombie action game with RPG elements by renowned developer Techland, combines first-person action with a heavy focus on melee combat, character development and customisation of a vast array of weapons. All of these gameplay features are presented in a dark story inspired by classic zombie movies with a gritty and engrossing campaign that can be played with up to four players in co-op mode.
Continue here to read the full story.

Possible Deus Ex: Human Revolution DLC Details

Citing an unnamed "source," VG247 says they have learned the recently cracked coded message in Deus Ex: Human Revolution will lead to the reveal of the first DLC for Eidos Montreal's action/RPG prequel, as many have theorized. They offer some alleged details on the new content this will provide, saying it will take place at sea, involve a floating prison, and the player will be separated from the game's comm support. They also say their source tells them this will involve choosing a new augmentation configuration, which suggests this may not involve playing as Adam Jensen. The puzzle solution suggests we will learn what this is all about on Sunday.

No Shooting Civilians in Battlefield 3

There's a Battlefield 3 interview on VG247 talking with lead designer David Goldfarb, discussing the single-player campaign in the military shooter sequel. Also, Rock, Paper, Shotgun has news that while there will be civilians in Battlefield 3, players will not be able to fire upon them, which recalls the controversial "no Russian" mission in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 that involved a civilian massacre. They have word on the topic of collateral damage from DICE executive producer Patrick Bach:
“In a game where it’s more authentic, when you have a gun in your hand and a child in front of you what would happen? Well the player would probably shoot that child.”

This is something Bach wants to avoid, because while the choice to do that ‘bad’ thing would have been the player’s, “We would be the ones to be blamed. We have to build our experiences so we don’t put the player in experiences where they can do bad things.” While not explicitly mentioned, the spectre of Modern Warfare 2 and its notorious ‘No Russian’ level seemed to this correspondent to loom large here.

So, Bach admitted that there was a degree of self-censoring necessary to limit potentially disagreeable player behaviour. “Me personally, I’m trying to stay away from civilians in games like BF because I think people will do bad. I don’t want to see videos on the internet where people shoot civilians. That’s something I will sanitise by removing that feature from the game.”

Importantly, “That doesn’t mean that I don’t want people to feel that war is not good,… We are trying to do something that is more mature. Mature not being gore –some people confuse the two. That’s childish actually, to want more blood.”

Ships Ahoy - The Baconing

Hothead Games announces the release of The Baconing, saying the new DeathSpank action/RPG is now available for Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The Baconing Website offers a new launch trailer celebrating the news, and here's word on the game from the announcement:
In The Baconing, hero DeathSpank, oblivious of an ancient Thongolith myth, carelessly pulls on all six Thongs of Virtue at the same time, summoning an unspeakable self-evil, the AntiSpank. DeathSpank must bear the incredible heat and enter the Fires of Bacon to destroy five of the six thongs to vanquish the AntiSpank.

With an improved tactical combat system, players can defeat evil on their own or partner up with new side-kick, Bob from Marketing and other characters for local co-op play. Along the way, DeathSpank travels through sci-fi inspired worlds, meeting a hilarious cast of characters, and obtains new Weapons of Justice and suits of armor as he fights to return peace to his beloved Spanktopia.

Shogun 2: Rise of the Samurai Catch-up

There's a Shogun 2: Rise of the Samurai Preview on Rock, Paper, Shotgun with a look at an upcoming samurai-themed prequel campaign for Shogun 2: Total War. This alerted us to the announcement of this campaign from a few weeks ago that we overlooked at the time, much to our embarrassment. There are details on the Rise of the Samurai, which is due in September for $9.99 USD, on the Total War Website along with a bunch of screenshots. With all due apologies for the oversight, here's word on what to expect:
The Rise of the Samurai adds a brand new playable campaign to Total War: Shogun 2. The campaign can be played in both single and multiplayer modes. Six new playable clans, each with unique traits are also added for a brand new campaign experience. These clans come with sixteen new land units and ten new naval units between them offering a very different set of strategies to the would-be general. There are also four new hero units including the Tetsubo Warrior Monk Hero and the deadly female Onna Bushi Heroine. As well as all these additions the Rise of the Samurai expansion adds four new agent types, each with their own skill trees. From the seductress Shirabyoshi to the shrewd and zealous Junsatsushi Inspectors, each of these offers a brand new campaign experience. With all these clans, heroes, agents and units at your command you must ride with the first of the Samurai and decide the fate of the first ever Shogun of Japan.

LIMBO Developer Buys Itself

Gamasutra has word that Playdead Studios, developer of LIMBO, has bought itself back from its investors -- a move that grants the studio greater financial and creative independence. The game was initially funded with help from the Danish government by company founders Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti, but investors were later brought in. Word is: "The founders of Playdead said that they were able to buy back the company due to the strong performance and success of Xbox Live Arcade and PC platformer Limbo."

Jurassic Park: The Game PAX Trailer

The Telltale Games Blog offers the action montage trailer from Jurassic Park: The Game they were showing off at PAX. The Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum-free clip shows off a number of dinosaurs from the movie tie-in, and concludes reaffirming its previously announced November 15 release date.

Ads in Violent Games Less Effective?

The University of Texas at Austin announces the results of a study suggesting in-game advertisements are less effective in violent games:
The study, the first to confirm the link between increased video game violence and impaired in-game ad effectiveness, was authored by College of Communication researchers Seung-Chul Yoo, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Advertising, and Jorge Peña, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies. It appears in the July/August issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

"Although violent video games are very popular and can reach a young, highly engaged audience, their effectiveness as an advertising medium is questionable," said Peña. "Our study demonstrates that featured violence diminishes brand memory and primes more negative attitudes toward the brand."

As part of the study, participants played one of two video games with embedded advertisements. The violent video game featured computer-operated avatars holding guns and shooting at the participant as he or she navigated through virtual rooms drenched in blood. In contrast, the non-violent video games featured the same avatars holding nothing and the virtual rooms were soaked in water.

Morning Previews

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy birthday to Hudson the wonder dog, as the loyal guardian of the BlueTower, and one of my favorite "people" in the world, turns 11 years old today. I was planning on giving her salmon as a treat, as she really loves fish, but following Gunnar-man's prodigious bout with diarrhea last week she had a very loose movement yesterday, and then last night woke me up every 90 minutes or so to go out, so I'm worried she may now be suffering with whatever was bothering him, and feeding her something unusual may is not advisable. It was not so fun having to get up four or five times overnight, but it was preferable to having to clean up multiple messes this morning.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Awesome Ghosts vs. Stupid Zombies.
Links: 11 Surprising Celebrity Hobbies. Thanks Neatorama.
Back to School FAILs.
Stories: Oklahoma, Texas Wildfires Destroy Dozens of Homes.
DC Comics Reboots Justice League and Other Series. Thanks j.c.f.
Science: International Space Station Could be De-Crewed by November. Thanks TDW Geeks.
Have a happy heart about eating chocolate.
Images: Cosplay Corner.
Just Another Day on Canada’s Only Highway.
This Is What My Baby Will Dress Like.
Media: Dog DNA.
Cat Finds Balloon Caricature of Himself Offensive.
The Funnies: Nerf Now: Free Market.
Follow-up: After Hurricane Katrina, Years of Post-Traumatic Stress. Thanks Boing Boing.
How To Prepare Your Car For a Hurricane.
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