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Saturday, Apr 14, 2012


Abrash on Valve, Snow Crash, and Wearable Computers

A new blog on the Valve Website is penned by Michael Abrash, the former Microsoft programmer that helped create QUAKE during his time at id Software (thanks Shok). Reviving the "Ramblings in Realtime" title used for his postmortem of his work on the QUAKE engine, he explains: "Valve: How I Got Here, What It’s Like, and What I’m Doing." He talks about his prior relationship with the Valve bosses from their Microsoft days that allowed Valve a foot in the door to discuss licensing the QUAKE engine, and the long view Valve took over the years when it came to recruiting him. He outlines the company's structure-free style of management (or lack thereof), its culture of pervasive trust, and offers other insights into what makes Valve unusual. He then proceeds to discuss what he's working on right now, which is exploring the ramifications of wearable computing, which recalls the confirmation that Valve has plans to create its own hardware. It's an interesting read, but to avoid giving the wrong impression about the state of this project, here are the caveats he lays out:

To be clear, this is R&D – it doesn’t in any way involve a product at this point, and won’t for a long while, if ever – so please, no rumors about Steam glasses being announced at E3. It’s an initial investigation into a very interesting and promising space, and falls more under the heading of research than development. The Valve approach is to do experiments and see what we learn – failure is fine, just so long as we can identify failure quickly, learn from it, and move on – and then apply it to the next experiment. The process is very fast-moving and iterative, and we’re just at the start. How far and where the investigation goes depends on what we learn.

PROTOTYPE 2 The Power of Revenge Trailer

This trailer offers "The Power of Revenge," a poignant trailer for PROTOTYPE 2 created as a TV commercial for Radical Entertainment's upcoming open world action sequel. In sending it along, however, Activision poses the question: "Is it too provocative or too disturbing for some major TV networks to carry?" Continue here to read the full story.

World of Warcraft Welcome Back

The World of Warcraft Website has a "Welcome Back!" post for recipients of "the new and improved Scroll of Resurrection" who are looking for direction about what to do after reaching level 85 in Blizzard's MMORPG. Word is: "Don’t worry: between dungeons and raids, new battlegrounds, the Archeology profession, more class/race combinations, transmogrification, and the reforging feature, there's plenty of content to explore. Here's a brief overview of some cool stuff that has been added since the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm..."

On Sale

Saturday Metaverse

Saturday Tech Bits

Saturday Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

I'm feeling that much better since my cold, but it has killed my appetite for most of this week, and it's still not right. I guess that's one way to get one's beach body (yeah right) back for the summer, but it's left me a little weakened. I was hoping to fire up the first steaks on my new grill today, but while that would certainly be a good way to restore some of that lost vigor if I could eat it, I'm worried I'll just end up picking at it, so I think I should just hold off on that.

Hungry Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Sichiken.
Links: Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love
The 10 Worst Jobs of 2012. Thanks Neatorama.
Stories: Yachting team uses staple-gun to fix up slashed sailor, completes race.
William Boyd to pen new Bond novel set in late 1960s.
Science: Researcher Says A Bit Of Beer May Help Creative Problem-Solving.
Manipulating memory to treat addiction.
Traditional Chinese Medicines Linked to Cancer.
Media: Assassin's Creed Bloopers.
Smash Brothers Brawl Lyrics Interpreted.
Kids of Today vs 1980's Technology.
Squirrel Adopted by Cat Learns to Purr.

Friday, Apr 13, 2012

EA Explains Warhammer 40K Tank Issue

GameSpot has a statement from EA explaining that the recently revealed tank concepts for Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances that look suspiciously like designs from Warhammer 40,000 were unintentionally exposed, and were never intended to be part of the upcoming MMORTS game:

"Games Workshop and EA are aware of the IP issues around the artwork in question, which have now been resolved," an EA representative said. "The artwork was internal EA concept art that was unintentionally released publicly. No Warhammer 40,000 tanks have ever made an appearance in Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliances, and never will. Games Workshop and EA continue to have a strong relationship working together on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and the new free to play game Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes which just entered open beta."

Apple's Cook Visits Valve?

Apple Insider writes Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly visited the Bellevue, Washington headquarters of Valve Corporation today. They proceed to get so caught up in speculation of the possible implications of this that they never get around to explaining the source of this report. Thanks GameInformer.

Dark Legends Desktop/Mobile MMORPG Launches

Spacetime Studios announces they've teamed with Google to launch Dark Legends, which they say is the first MMORPG that's played simultaneously on desktop and mobile devices. The free-to-play game is supported by microtransactions and is playable on Android devices and on the Chrome Web Store for Windows, OS X, and Linux, with iOS devices to follow after an exclusivity period. Here's an outline of gameplay: "Set in a gritty modern-day urban environment in which humans are aware of vampires’ existence, players assume the role of a recently sired vampire who must battle to survive in a world which fears and hates their kind. In the struggle, players must face gangs of well-armed humans, hordes of the undead, packs of werewolves, covens of warlocks and legions of demons."

ME3 Operation RESURGENCE Underway

Operation RESURGENCE is underway in Mass Effect 3, BioWare's action/RPG sequel. The BioWare Blog now offers a trailer showing strategies to employ, saying: "Watch the latest Mass Effect 3 video and get inside strategies from the masters at BioWare. Then take the battle online this weekend with the latest addition to Mass Effect 3’s critically acclaimed multiplayer experience, the Resurgence Pack; out now at no additional cost!"

New Via Digital Distribution

On Sale

  • Black Mirror 3: The Final Fear on GameFly. Save 60%.
  • Gothic Complete Pack on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Mount and Blade on GameFly. Save 75%.
  • Mount and Blade Collection on GameFly. Save 75%.
  • Mount and Blade: Warband on GameFly. Save 75%.
  • Mount and Blade: With Fire and Sword on GameFly. Save 75%.
  • Stellar Impact on Steam. Save 20%.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Ctrl+Alt+Del - Needs. Thanks Ant via Slashdot.

Valve Confirms Hardware Plans

The Valve Job Postings Page has a listing for an Engineer Electronics Engineer that seems a pretty concrete confirmation of hot rumors that Valve is planning to develop hardware of some sort (thanks Engadget). Here's the introduction with the pertinent information speaking of "whole new gaming experiences.":

For years, Valve has been all about writing software that provides great gameplay experiences. Now we’re developing hardware to enhance those experiences, and you can be a key part of making that happen. Join our highly motivated team that’s doing hardware design, prototyping, testing, and production across a wide range of platforms. We’re not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences.

Dungeon Lords MMXII Announced

Nordic Games announces plans for Dungeon Lords MMXII, a re-master of Dungeon Lords being developed in collaboration with D.W. Bradley's Heuristic Park, developers of the original edition of this RPG. "I'm delighted to be working with Nordic on the new re-master of Dungeon Lords MMXII, it's a rare opportunity for an author. Dungeon Lords is pure and true RPG, there are no mindless quests to kill 20 of these and find 12 of those, at least not without giving you a very good reason for it," says Bradley. "The story is full of plot twists and turns, players must stay alert and use their wits to solve the puzzles, and monsters don't like intruders. The new magic and action system makes the game sizzle with fun, and I'm excited to be pumping it up and bringing this epic RPG experience to a new generation of gamers." The game does not yet carry a release date, but we do have this feature list: Continue here to read the full story.

Nekro Kickstarter

A new Kickstarter seeks crowd-funding for Nekro, a "randomly generated action game about summoning evil forces of darkness to do your bidding," for Windows, OS X, and Linux, saying this will be "rooted deep in PC gaming's history, but with all the flourishes you've come to expect from a modern experience." This is being developed by DarkForge, formed by vets of Blizzard, Sony, Microsoft and more, who say: "Combining full HD graphics, a unique premise, solid gameplay, and tight controls Nekro can be one hell of a game - but not without you..."

The Old Republic Update Bears Gifts

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Website announces the launch of a new version 1.2: Legacy update for the Star Wars MMORPG. In addition to changes and bug-fixes, this also includes several free gifts: Subscribers receive a Tauntaun Ram Pet (just don't ride it out to the first marker), players with a level 50 or higher account receive 30 days of free game time, as well as a welcome back program which will offer former subscribers the chance to play for free from April 13-19.

Wargame - European Escalation Free DLC; Sale

The Wargame - European Escalation Website has word that the game is on sale on Steam this weekend, and also announces the release of free DLC for this RTS game. Here's what's included in the New Battlefields pack:

  • New skirmish AI: up to 7 human players may face a computer-controlled opponent (3 difficulty levels).
  • 7 new multiplayer maps, including 2 asymmetric battlefields for Attack/Defense games.
  • New "Flare" system: mark both the battlefield and the tactical map to enhance your team's coordination.

NPD Reports March Decline

Gamasutra has NPD's analysis of U.S. game performance at retail in March. This solely covers physical sales, and word is "software revenues at retailers in the U.S. dropped 26 percent to $585.1 million in March," while hardware declines were even more dramatic: "Hardware proved to be the biggest detrimental factor in an overall $1.1 billion industry-wide decline, with $323.5 million in hardware revenue representing a 35 percent decline from March 2011." They also offer a list of the top 10 titles at retail for the month:

  1. Mass Effect 3 (360, PS3, PC)
  2. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (360, PS3)
  3. MLB 12: The Show (PS3, PSV)
  4. NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PC, PS2)
  5. SSX (360, PS3)
  6. Street Fighter X Tekken (PS3, 360)
  7. Mario Party 9 (Wii)
  8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360, PS3, Wii, PC)
  9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (360, PS3)
  10. Major League Baseball 2K12 (360, PS3, Wii, NDS, PSP, PC, PS2)

Resident Evil 6 PC Edition Will Follow Consoles; Preorder Bonuses Detailed

Capcom outlines preorder bonuses for Resident Evil 6, which vary depend on where you purchase the survival/horror sequel. The update concludes with a release date for the console editions and the admission that the Window edition will follow at some point after: "Resident Evil 6 will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 2nd, 2012. There will also be a PC SKU of RE6, but we'll have more news on that exact launch date coming to you soon."

Legend of Grimrock Patch Plans

The Legend of Grimrock Website has a launch week update, saying the dungeon crawler can still be had for its 10% preorder discount, and also outlining plans for the game's first patch, to address the following issues:

  • vsync is enabled by default
  • borderless windows are no longer topmost
  • pressing ESC closes character sheet
  • fixed unlimited frost arrow exploit
  • bug fix: topmost menu item don’t work reliably in 2560×1440 resolution
  • bug fix: wall text translations are not dismissed when right-clicking
  • bug fix: inanimate objects can be backstabbed
  • bug fix: projectiles go through doors in some very rare cases
  • improved display resolution auto-detection at first launch
  • fixed a couple of typos
  • removed check that disables high texture resolution setting when running low on video memory (some graphics drivers seem to report available video memory incorrectly)

Max Payne 3 Bullet Time Trailer

Rockstar Games now offers a new trailer from Max Payne 3, showing how the upcoming third person shooter will handle bullet time, the slow motion shooting mechanic that's one of the trademarks of the series. Word is: "Check out the latest video in the Design and Technology Series that shows how enhancements to this signature mechanic add a new level of drama and detail to the third person shooter."

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Happy Friday the 13th! I'm actually feeling pretty lucky this morning, as I'm feeling a lot better after a couple of days suffering with a cold. I had a fever yesterday, but this broke overnight, so I seem to be on the right side of this now. Sorry about skipping the update last night, hopefully I'm back on track now.

On Track Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: The Last Shelter.
Stories: 'Munsters' reboot 'Mockingbird Lane' like 'an American Harry Potter'.
Images: Don't worry, it'll fit.
Rian Johnson's Time Travel Flick Looper Looks Fantastic. Thanks nin.
Small Body Mass FAIL. WTF?

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