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Friday, Aug 02, 2013


Mars: War Logs Soundtrack

The Mars: War Logs Facebook page now offers the game's 44 track soundtrack for free in celebration of its upcoming PlayStation 3 release, saying: "But prior to the release, the developers are delighted to offer the Original Game Soundtrack by Sylvain Prunier, that contains 44 dark, gritty and often spellbinding themes!"

Omerta – City of Gangsters for OS X Released

The Omerta – City of Gangsters website announces the Mac OS X edition of this chance to run your own boardwalk empire. Here's an OS X launch trailer and here's the skinny:

Kalypso Media is pleased to announce today that Omerta – City of Gangsters, is now available for purchase and download via Steam and the Mac App Store. There will also be cross-platform multiplayer functionality between Windows PC and Mac, along with full support for Steam Cloud Saves on both platforms. Omerta- City of Gangsters drops players into Prohibition-era Atlantic City as they fight to take over the city through means both legal and illicit. Strategically conquer the city block-by-block by buying, building or bullying the competition, then pull off daring heists in turn-based tactical combat.

Payday 2 Safehouse Trailer

A new What is the Safehouse? trailer from Payday 2 answers the burning question of, well, you know. The clip features game director David Goldfarb elaborating on his point that "The Safehouse is really a place where you can do some experimentation with the stuff, the tools of the game, the mechanics of the game, without the pressures of cops shooting you in the face." The clip shows off tutorials you can practice, and also how your Safehouse shows your wealth, and can be decorated with items you can buy with your loot. Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Interviews

Evening Patches

On Sale

  • Bethesda & id Catalogs on Steam. Save at least 25%.
  • Poker Night 2 on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Idie Action on Save 60%.
  • Quakecon Pack on Steam. Save 74%.

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

I ended up with a lot more roundup stories than I thought, so I changed my mind and included them in this update.
Link of the Day: Super Modern Mario Bros. Level 1-2.

Voxel-based EverQuest Next Details

The embargo on details about EverQuest Next seems to have just expired, as Massively has gone all blabby about what they know about the MMORPG revamp, which is a lot, since they've gotten some face time with the game and its developers over the past few weeks. They go into detail about gameplay, discussing quests, combat, and the consequences of player choices. They say the game will be very much a sandbox, and while everything is based on the original EverQuest, EQ Next will be new and different in so many ways that newbies will not be at a disadvantage compared with EQ vets. Probably most significant is that the game engine will now be voxel-based:

First, everything in EverQuest Next is made of voxels -- the ground, the plants, buildings, everything. What's a voxel? Think Minecraft cubes, only you can actually form and shape each bit in a very organic way. Just look at the image embedded in this article -- do they seem blocky to you? Nope.

So why is having a world made of voxels important to you? Because it means everything in the world can be destroyed! If you wanted a way to affect the world, just envision actually blowing up a bridge to keep mobs from getting to you or collapsing a tunnel so no one else can find the cavern and quests underneath. And these changes are permanent. Isn't true permanency in games something many a sandbox fan has just been longing for? Well, this is only the beginning; permanence is a theme throughout the entire game. Of course, just because everything can be destroyed doesn't mean the devs will let you! As Georgeson explained to me, if some areas weren't restricted, Qeynos would become a parking lot in no time thanks to all you pyromaniacs. Keep in mind, though, such restrictions are only on players, not mobs.

The second compositional aspect is the fact that the world of EQ Next is not restricted to its surface. I am not talking about a few scattered underground caverns scattered; I am talking about a completely designed world from crust to core. Since you can start digging pretty much anywhere, you will actually find content as you go deeper and deeper and deeper still. This layered content isn't necessarily static, either. Lower levels are procedurally generated and can be closed off by dev-induced earthquakes or crop up elsewhere.

Activision Financials

Activision Blizzard Announces Second Quarter 2013 Financial Results. showing the newly emancipated company is still raking in profits, unlike some of its competitors: "For the quarter ended June 30, 2013, Activision Blizzard's GAAP net revenues were $1.05 billion, as compared with $1.08 billion for the second quarter of 2012. On a non-GAAP basis, the company's net revenues were $608 million, as compared with $1.05 billion for the second quarter of 2012. For the second quarter, GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $387 million and represented 37% of the company's total revenues. On a non-GAAP basis, net revenues from digital channels were $383 million and represented a record 63% of the company's total revenues. For the quarter ended June 30, 2013, Activision Blizzard's GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.28, as compared with $0.16 for the second quarter of 2012. On a non-GAAP basis, the company's earnings per diluted share were $0.08, as compared with $0.20 for the second quarter of 2012. " The release includes some easily digested tidbits, so here:

  • For the first six months of 2013, Activision Blizzard was the #1 third-party publisher in North America and Europe combined.(1)
  • For the first six months of 2013, Activision Blizzard had the top-two best-selling games in North America and Europe combined, with Activision Publishing's Skylanders(R) Giants(TM) and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.(1)
  • In both North America and Europe, Activision Publishing's Skylanders Giants was the #1 best-selling console and hand-held game overall in dollars for the first six months of 2013.(1)
  • As of July 31, 2013, the Skylanders franchise has generated, life-to-date, more than $1.5 billion in worldwide retail sales.(1)
  • As of June 30, 2013, Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft(R) remains the #1 subscription-based MMORPG, with approximately 7.7 million subscribers.(2)
  • On July 25, 2013, Activision Blizzard announced that it reached an agreement under which the company will acquire approximately 429 million company shares and certain tax attributes from Vivendi, in exchange for approximately $5.83 billion in cash, or $13.60 per share acquired before taking into account any future benefit from these tax attributes. In a related transaction, ASAC II LP, an investment vehicle led by CEO Bobby Kotick and Activision Blizzard Co-Chairman Brian Kelly, will purchase approximately 172 million company shares from Vivendi for approximately $2.34 billion in cash, or $13.60 per share. Following the completion of the transactions, which are expected to close by the end of September 2013, Vivendi will no longer be the majority shareholder, but will retain a stake of approximately 83 million shares, or approximately 12%.
  • During the quarter, Activision Blizzard paid a cash dividend of $0.19 per common share, totaling $216 million, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 20, 2013.

Titan "Unlikely" to be Subscription-Based

In a post-earnings conference call related to the story above, Activision CEO Mike Morhaime revealed that Activision Blizzard is going back to the drawing board a bit with their upcoming MMORPG codenamed Titan, reports Joystiq. Word is this includes the game's business model, as they seem to be concluding that in spite of their unprecedented success with World of Warcraft, Titan cannot rely on subscriptions. "We're in the process of selecting a new direction for the project and re-envisioning what we want the game to be," Morhaime said. "While we can't talk about the details yet, it is unlikely to be a subscription-based MMORPG."

Star Citizen Funding at $15MM

Roberts Space Industries announces that crowd-sourced funding for Star Citizen has now surpassed the $15 million mark (thanks nin via Joystiq). They explain what stretch goals this triggers for all backers, remind us of their $16 million stretch goal, and lay out an incentive if they reach $17 million:

It’s unbelievable: Star Citizen fans have helped us reach the $15 million mark without any special promotion! Ten years ago, big publishers decided space games weren’t profitable… and you are proving them very, very wrong!

The $15 million unlock adds another flyable ship class to the game, the oft-discussed escort carrier. Every backer will also get a free digital 42-page Upgrade Handbook manual with their game which goes through the process of customizing and overclocking ship systems! We’re excited about putting this one together, since it goes right to the heart of what’s going to make Star Citizen unique.

The previously-announced $16 million stretch goals are:

  • Arena mode: Arena mode is a simulation within the game, although it is not the simulator itself. Players will have access to an actual training simulator in their hangars, which will be used for the dogfight alpha. The Arena is something bigger. It is a galaxy-wide event, where players come to specific locations, pay their entry fees, and jump into space battles to prove who is the best dogfighter of all. Think of it as a combination of a sports tournament and modern-day gaming contests. Each winner will receive credits for the victory, and the best of the best will meet in higher and higher rounds until a grand champion is crowned.
  • A laser pistol for every pledger before this point. Keep your ship safe from boarders with a pistol by your side.

With today’s achievement, we’re happy to unlock the $17 million rewards:

$17 million

  • Ship upgrade package for every pledger containing an engine modifier.
  • Additional flyable ship class: battlecruiser

Thank you all for your continued support. Tell your friends, Star Citizen is coming!

March of War Episode 1: Soviet Storm Released

ISOTX now offers Soviet Storm, the first installment in March of War, their free-to-play episodic turn-based-strategy game. This can be found on the March of War website and through Steam early access. This trailer promotes the release, and here is the announcement:

UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS – August 1, 2013 - There is a storm brewing on the outskirts of Paris, where the Soviets are preparing themselves for an all-out invasion. Will the Alliance be able to fight off the Communists?

ISOTX, developer and publisher of the award-winning Iron Grip-series, announces today that the premiere episode, Soviet Storm, of their free-to-play episodic online multiplayer strategy game March of War is available now through Steam Early Access and the official website for PC and Mac.

March of War Episode 1: Soviet Storm tells the story of the Soviets violating the peace treaty and invading the city of Paris with an all-out attack. This is embodied by a compelling in-game world event, in which the Soviet Union and European Alliance play the lead role. This episode will see players aligned with these factions, and joining the fight for Paris armed with newly released units.

Players experience the latest episode of March of War’s story on multiple levels. From compelling in-game world events and new community-driven themed content to intriguing lore on the March of War blog and newspaper for players looking to immerse themselves even further.

"After the release of March of War, the world started to evolve at the hands of the players right from the start," says Vincent van Geel, Creative Director at ISOTX. "With Soviet Storm we are hoping to spice it up even more and see how the community will respond to the new content we are introducing.”

Some of the new units players can look forward to include: Cossack Cavalry, the French Panhard Tank, the German Sturmtiger, the Cannon Walker, the Soviet Maxim MG Team and much more. Furthermore: there are some new unit skins available and several maps will have tech buildings at the disposal of players who can capture them, opening up a whole new set of tactics.

Free race.a.bit Released

Headup Games offers race.a.bit, a new throwback racing game for Windows, and smartphones. This is a completely free release for the time being in spite of the game not including microtransactions, as they are asking players to pay for it with tweets and Facebook posts to help spread the word and support their Steam Greenlight campaign. Here's word:

Experience the thrill of retro racing on crazy tracks in the very first social racer – completely in the style of 8 and 16-bit classics. Enjoy the reinterpretation of old-school gameplay in combination with perfect controls and the driving beats of unique artist Bit Shifter!

Be creative: Race on self-designed tracks and share them with people all over the world! Countless level objects and a user-friendly editor offer you virtually infinite possibilities to let your creativity run free.

Compete against friends and the highest ranking players and beat their times on original tracks and maps created by them! Fight your way to the top of the global leaderboards!

Thanks to pick-up-and-play controls, you can jump right in and you'll soon be drifting through the bends and speeding along the virtual tarmac like a pro!

CD Projekt RED Opens New Studio

CD Projekt RED announces they've opened a new studio in Krakow (Cracow) Poland to support development of The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077:

CD Projekt RED, creators of the critically-acclaimed RPGs The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, announced today the opening of a new studio in Cracow, Poland. The new studio will bolster the development of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077.

“A new studio, new people and new energy - we’re growing and we’re extremely excited that we can tap into the potential that Cracow has to offer. We want to continue to make better and better RPGs and the new studio is another big step in that direction. Cracow, one of the cultural and scientific centers of Europe, is a really special place that will leave a significant mark on our games,” said Adam Badowski, Head of CD Projekt RED.

Altered Saints Row IV Okayed for Australia

The Australian Classification Board has approved an altered version of Saints Row IV for release down under, reports IGN, They say the potentially offensive Alien Anal Probe will still be included in its DLC pack, and that the clearance was earned by cutting a single side-mission from the game, which includes about 20 minutes of gameplay. “To achieve this rating one loyalty mission featuring the character Shaundi has been removed," according to a statement from publisher Deep Silver. "This mission has been widely reported on and contains the use of alien narcotics to obtain certain superpowers. This mission represents approximately 20 minutes of gameplay out of the hours available to purchasers. The removal of this mission has no negative impact on the story or the superpowers and will not detract from the enjoyment players will get from their Saints Row IV experience. The rectifier weapon will be available as part of a DLC package as originally intended. Deep Silver stands by this decision and thanks the Australian Classification Board for their assistance with this matter."

Saints Row IV Diary; Soundtrack Details

Speaking of Saints Row IV, a new video developer diary (NSFW) features the developers at Volition talking about the next installment in their open-world action series, concluding with this lesson: "It takes a lot of work to make something this beautifully stupid." On a related note, an article on Complex reveals the soundtrack for the game (thanks Fantaz), and talks with Volition about what goes into programming the game's radio stations. Continue here to read the full story.

Strike Suit Zero Oculus Rift Support

Born Ready Games now offers everyone who owns Strike Suit Zero a beta version of the action game that includes support for Oculus Rift VR headsets. This video talks about the changes they've made in this version, and here's word:

The Oculus Rift version of Strike Suit Zero puts players in a fully-3D cockpit, with environments that fill the entirety of the players’ peripheral vision. With the Rift headset on, all you can see is the vibrant universe that Born Ready Games has created. Responding to subtle movements of the head, playing with the Oculus Rift offers a completely new space combat experience.

"Space was always going to be a perfect fit for Oculus, and we’re excited to bring the world of Strike Suit Zero to life with the Oculus Rift.” said James Brooksby, Born Ready Games CEO. “Perhaps the biggest task for us was adapting the UI and HUD for this new version of the game – relaying all the relevant information to the player without breaking the immersion."

Continue here to read the full story.

BioShock Infinite for OS X This Month

BioShock Infinite will be released for Mac OS X on August 29th, reports The Verge, noting that owners of the game on Steam get this automatically, and that those who buy it from GameAgent will get the Columbia's Finest DLC and a 20% discount. Aspyr tells them the new Clash in the Clouds DLC for OS X will be available "at or near" August 29th as well, and that the upcoming Burial at Sea DLC is also coming to the Mac. Thanks nin.

Op Ed

GamesIndustry International - Enough of the games media “shock jocks”.
There are various phrases we've all heard while growing up which apply to a situation like that. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen; don't dish it out if you can't take it; and so on and so forth. There's something about sticks, stones and broken bones which also applies, of course. Yet even while I'm uncomfortable with the sainting of Phil Fish as an innocent dreamer who was cruelly tortured and hounded from the industry by the social media masses, I'm altogether more horrified by the sheer outpouring of hatred which is dished out by "gamers" on social media once they sense some blood in the water. Is Phil Fish guilty of being a thin-skinned man who foolishly starts fights which go on to wound him far more than his opponents? Yes, certainly. Does that excuse the awful pile-on which ensued all too regularly? Absolutely not.

Friday Interviews

Friday Previews

Friday Consolidation

Friday Mobilization

Friday Metaverse

Friday Tech Bits

Friday Safety Dance

Friday Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

The weather was bad enough that the canoe racing was cut short yesterday, but I headed off for a few oat sodas with a couple of attendees anyway, so thanks again for whatever tolerance for the absence you can muster. I'm off to a late enough start today that I won't do a second batch of bulleted roundups later, but hopefully we're pretty caught up as of now.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Super Mario Crossover 3.
My Undead Neighbors 3.
Science: Beam me up, Scotty! Would teleporting humans into space be possible?
Images: My Quakecon 2013 casemod... any Archer fans out there? Thanks Miss Awesome.
Media: Worst Villain Ever. NSFW.
Twisted Sisters, Hope and Rosey. Thanks reddit.
Follow-up: Curiosity’s first year on Mars.
Creator of xkcd Reveals Secret Backstory of His Epic 3,099-Panel Comic.

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