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Thursday, May 17, 2012 Happy National Day (Norway) Hurra, hurra, hurra!

  

38 Studios Misses Payroll; Bounces Check

Joystiq and WPRI.com have updates on the situation at 38 Studios, where recent reports of financial distress were followed by news that the developer had missed a $1.125 million loan payment. Several wrinkles have emerged since then, beginning with word that the studio missed payroll in an effort to make that missed payment, and that all temps and contractors were let go this week. This is followed by word that a check for the $1.125 million had been delivered, but that was returned for insufficient funds. The final twist is word that while company founder Curt Schilling is still mentioned on the company's visionaries page, his photograph and bio have apparently been removed, as has information about CEO Jennifer MacLean, who Joystiq says was last heard to be on maternity leave.

Unreal 4 Details & Screenshots

The Imagination Engine: Why Next-Gen Video Games Will Rock Your World on Game-Life is a Wired.com article with a look at the Unreal 4 engine that includes a bunch of screenshots of Epic's next-generation tech in action. They also offer first-hand impressions of seeing a demo reel for the engine. Here's a bit:

In previous engines, one floating ember was enough to slow performance considerably; a shower of them was impossible. With Unreal Engine 4, there can be millions of such particles, as long as the hardware is potent enough to sustain them. Game developers overuse features of every new engine, because they are suddenly so easy to implement. In the original Unreal Engine, for example, the ability to render colored lighting led to a rash of games that employed the effect. The same may prove true for UE4′s particle effects, for better or worse. (“Mark my words,” Bleszinski says, “those particles are going to be whored by developers.”)

In one 153-second clip, the Epic team has packed all the show-off effects that have flummoxed developers for years: lens flare, bokeh distortion, lava flow, environmental destruction, fire, and detail in landscapes many miles away. Plus, it’s breathtakingly photo-realistic—or would be if demon knights were, you know, a real thing.

But that’s just the opening scene. After the cinematic, Epic’s senior technical artist, Alan Willard, starts playing the demo. At this point the view switches to that disembodied first-person perspective made so ubiquitous by shooting games like the Call of Duty franchise and Epic’s own influential Unreal titles. Willard maneuvers his avatar into a dimly lit room where a flashlight turns on, revealing eddies of dust—thousands of floating particles that were invisible until exposed. In another room, globes of various sizes float in the air. Willard rolls a light-emanating orb along the floor (think of a spherical flashlight that rolls like a bowling ball) and beams of light wobble and change direction, illuminating parts of the room and revealing the clusters of floating spheres with a kind of strobe effect. At first it all seems perfectly familiar: “Well, yeah,” you think, “that’s how they’d act in the real world. What’s the big deal?” But it is a big deal: This is stuff that videogames have never been able to simulate—the effects simply aren’t possible on today’s consoles.

Ships Ahoy - Gratuitous Tank Battles

Positech Games announce the release of Gratuitous Tank Battles, and the follow-up to Gratuitous Space Battles is available on its official website, GamersGate, GameStop PC Downloads, and Steam. Here's the game's launch trailer, and here's word:

GTB is the 'not-exactly-a-sequel' to indie hit 'Gratuitous Space Battles'. Unlike GSB, which featured hands-off battles, GTB borrows more from the tower defense genre. Unlike any other tower defense game, Gratuitous Tank Battles gives the player the choice of playing defender OR attacker on every single map. It also incorporates customised unit design and a built-in map editor and map-sharing online 'challenge' system which results in an near-limitless amount of gameplay.

In a further unique twist, Gratuitous Tank Battles even supports saving out a recording of your attack, and playing against your own decisions in the defense role. Every unit in the game is designed from base components, meaning you will never get entirely used to the units the enemy will throw at you. You have the option to play GTB as a normal tower defense game, with scripted attacking enemies, or you can even select 'adaptive' AI which places attacking (or defending) units in reaction to the players decisions. If you allow it, the AI can even re-use units that you designed to attack you with... This is like no other tower defense game you have played.

Continue here to read the full story.

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission in September

Bohemia Interactive announces a September 27th release date for Carrier Command: Gaea Mission, their upcoming action/strategy remake. Word is: "Set in a massive archipelago, Carrier Command: Gaea Mission floats a refreshing gameplay combination of 1st/3rd person action with a hint of real-time strategy. The studio has been developing the game for Windows PC and Xbox 360 simultaneously, to ensure an optimal experience across the two platforms. The content in both versions will be the same."

Unity of Command Demo; Patch; Sale

This page offers a pair of playable demos for Unity of Command demo, offering wargamers the chance to sample the strategy game for either Windows or OS X with a tutorial, an introductory mission, and one complete single-player scenario. There's also a new version 1.02 of the game "with several new features, most importantly the ability to undo individual moves." Finally, the game is on sale at the moment for a 20% discount.

Conflict of Heroes Patch

Matrix Games now offers a new patch for Conflict of Heroes, updating the World War II turn-based tactics game to version 1.2. Word is: "The small patch contains improved AI scripting for the Nutcracker scenario, as well as added support for PS2.0 shaders."

On Sale

Game Downloads Mayhem - 12 Days of Dynamite Deals on Amazon (thanks Batman via Cheap Games Deals). Is it me, or does Amazon hide these things?

  • Take On Helicopters on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Franchise on Steam. Save 75%.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Two Borderlands 2 CEs Announced

Gearbox Software announces two different tiers of collector's edition for Borderlands 2, their role-playing shooter sequel that's expected this September. The Borderlands 2 Pre-Order Page offers links to the retailers offering the CEs and a bunch of photos of all the goodies included in these CEs, which include membership in a Premiere Club, similar to how they did with Duke Nukem Forever. Here's the deal:

The Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector's Edition (MSRP $99.99) includes a copy of Borderlands 2; authentic Marcus Kincaid bobblehead; Inside the Vault: The Art & Design of Borderlands 2 hardbound book; collectable sticker set; map of Pandora; digital comic download code; and bonus downloadable in-game digital content. The Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition (MSRP $149.99) includes all of those items, plus a collectable scaled replica of the red loot chests found throughout Pandora in Borderlands 2; steel book case; Creatures of Pandora wide-format ID chart; lithograph postcard set; field notes from Sir Hammerlock; cloth map of Pandora; and a numbered certificate of authenticity. Both of the special editions will be available for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows-based PC.

Gamers who pre-order the Deluxe Vault Hunter’s Collector's Edition, Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition or the standard edition of Borderlands 2 from participating retailers will also gain access to the Borderlands 2 Premiere Club, allowing them to download the Gearbox Gun Pack, a Golden Key, the Vault Hunter’s Relic and an all-new fifth character class - the Mechromancer. The Gearbox Gun Pack is a collection of unique guns to help players begin their journey on Pandora. The Golden Key is used to unlock a rare in-game item in the mysterious Golden Sanctuary Loot Chest found in Borderlands 2. The Vault Hunter’s Relic is an in-game item that boosts players’ gear-hunting fortune while playing solo or teaming up with friends. The Mechromancer character class will be available following launch when development of the character is complete and is free to those who pre-order Borderlands 2, and will be available for purchase for those who do not.

Skyjacker Demo & Kickstarter

The Skyjacker Website is home to a new space combat simulation from Digitilus, described as "a gang of professionals with over 20 years of real work experience in the seething core of game industry." The game will be based on a Russian science-fiction book series, and the project has a Kickstarter that's over 10% complete, and a playable demo is already offered. Here's a trailer showing off the game, which they say breaks the mold of the genre, and is more like LOTR from its gaming atmosphere, GTA from its "criminal background" and freedom of choice inside the game, and NFS due to its energy, gameplay dynamics, and customization. Continue here to read the full story.

World of Warplanes Trailer

The World of Warplanes Website now offers a new teaser trailer showing off some ground-attack aircraft in Wargaming.net's upcoming aerial combat game. "This is the best example of what a flying tank would be like," said World of Warplanes Project Manager, Alex Zezulin. "Ground-attack planes are heavy, slow-paced, close to invulnerable machines that might have the most important objective in combat: to eliminate any ground-based resistance and ensure the safety of their lighter allies." Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I've been working extra-hard the past couple of years on teaching an old dog new tricks, as I've been working on getting Hudson the wonder dog past the dog aggression she's developed since she suffered an attack years ago. Yesterday we had no fewer than five encounters on our walk, and for four of them, she did not even bark, much less strain at the leash. The final one resulted in more of an outburst, as we turned a corner leaving her basically face-to-face with the other pooch, so I think it's proximity related: It seems to me she can tolerate the other dog as long as it's outside her exaggerated sense of her personal space, which is about 20 feet in diameter. Could be better, but it's been a lot worse, so I'll take the progress.

Progressive Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Vehicles Level Pack.
Rubble Trouble Tokyo.
Links: Limited Edition P-body Portal Gun Replica.
250th anniversary of the sandwich.
Stories: Pythons Swallow Whole Deer in Florida, $6 Million Tab. Thanks brother19.
Media: Every Swear Word In Every Oscar Nominee For Best Picture. NSFW.
Zuckerberg - (The Musical).
Portal companion cube puzzle box.
The Funnies: Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived.
Follow-up: Prometheus viral - "Quiet Eye".



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