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Tuesday, Nov 03, 2015

Paragon Revealed

A new Paragon website is online, revealing details on Paragon, a new game coming to PCs in 2016 from Epic Games. They are holding back on most details for now, but they are already accepting signups from prospective beta testers, and offer the chance to unlock in-game items. They are also revealing a new character from the game each week, and kick things off with a new Twinblast teaser video. Continue here to read the full story.

Anno 2205 Released

UbiBlog announces the release of Anno 2205, celebrating the news with a new launch trailer. Here's word on the two editions they offer: "Available at retail and as a digital download, Anno 2205 comes in two editions, standard and Gold. The latter also includes access to two expansion packs, which will be released at a later date and include new technologies and two new regions, Tundra and Orbit. (The expansions will also be available separately, or as part of the Season Pass for owners of the standard edition.)." Here's more:
As a newly minted corporate officer, you’ll spend your time in Anno 2205 building high-tech cities, developing neighborhoods and growing the local industry while keeping tabs on the needs of your citizens. Before long, you’ll be able to build a space elevator and colonize the moon, then brave its unique challenges until you can share resources and technological advancements across your colonies, creating a sprawling, interconnected empire. You can also quickly switch between your settlements using Anno 2205’s session mode, letting you manage them all simultaneously.

Your push to the stars isn’t without conflict, however, and every so often you’ll be tasked with fending off hostiles in real-time naval battles, pitting your heavily armed fleet against enemy ships and installations. Along the way, you’ll also be able to take on optional tasks from business partners and friendly corporations, all of which give you more materials to upgrade and expand your settlements.
Continue here to read the full story.

Battle Battalions Launches

The Battle Battalions website announces the promised launch of Battle Battalions, their free-to-play real-time tactical game. This involves five-versus-five battles with each -player teams each controlling a battalion. Here's word on why this isn't an RTS for a MOBA:
Battle Battalions allows players to customize and command a role-specific ‘Battalion’ of military might on a fast-paced, team-based battlefield. Each player's Battalion, composed of lethal high-tech units ranging from stealthy Sniper infantry to hulking Juggernaut tanks, fills a critical role in the 5v5 multiplayer teams. Battalions earn valuable experience and credit with each battle, which gives access to powerful enhancements, personal customizations and perks unique to that specific Battalion.

Petroglyph, whose roots and brand name are heavily associated with the real-time strategy (RTS) genre, is keen to point out that Battle Battalions is not an RTS game in the traditional sense; Battle Battalions features no respawns, base building, in-game economy or resource gathering. It is also not a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, as the goals are to hold control points and destroy enemy Battalions, not opposing bases or structures. The gameplay centers squarely on tactical control of your chosen Battalion to cooperatively secure key map points, eliminate rival forces and score more points as a team than your foe, be it human or AI.

“We’re extremely excited to release a gaming experience that lets players either jump immediately into fast-paced battlefield combat or spend their time meticulously perfecting the look and potency of their hard-earned Battalions”, says Joe Bostic, Co-Founder of Petroglyph and Game Visionary of Battle Battalions.

“We feel the game breaks new ground in the real-time tactical space. As opposed to controlling a single Hero unit in combat, this time your entire Battalion is the hero.”

Star Wars Battlefront Trailer

A new teaser trailer from Star Wars Battlefront shows off the Battle of Jakku, a scenario based on the upcoming Episode VII. Word is: "Be among the first players to experience the Battle of Jakku*, the pivotal moment when the New Republic confronted key Imperial holdouts on a remote desert planet. Taking place in the aftermath of the Rebel victory in the Battle of Endor, players will experience the events that created the massive, battle-scarred landscape of Jakku shown in Star Wars™: The Force Awakens™." Continue here to read the full story.

World of Fishing Beta Opens

Open beta testing is now underway for World of Fishing for those angling to try their hand at this MMO based on the outdoor pastime. Here's word:
World of Fishing is a full-fledged MMO featuring character development, exciting quests and the addicting hunt for rare fish. Starting out with a small boat and basic equipment, players will be able to work their way up to the point where they will catch huge fish like tunas and even exotic sharks. Dynamic real-time battles with over 360 fish species controlled by a realistic AI, provide an entertaining and challenging gameplay that feels as close to the “real thing” as possible.

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

  • BATTLETECH by Harebrained Schemes LLC — Kickstarter. "Final Total $2,865,422! All Hail Our BATTLETECH Backers!" Thanks nin.
  • Hex Phase -- Steam Greenlight. "Exploding with colors in a visual extravaganza, a new form of genre, the VFX Puzzle spouts from the depths to bring you Hex Phase! Match the hexagons to its vibrant center to complete a phase whilst switching between two or three other phases, or even just a single phase on Super, Deluxe, and Regular modes respectively."

On Sale

Activision Buys King Digital; Releases Q3 Financials

Activision Blizzard announces the acquisition of King Digital Entertainment, with the deal's 5.9 billion price tag reflecting how much the Candy Crush developer has been crushing it. The good news for them is that this brings Activision Blizzard's monthly total user count to more than a half-billion, and the deal is expected to boost Activision's adjusted revenue and earnings by about 30%. The potential bad news is that about a third of the company's revenue is from Candy Crush Saga, which is by far the most successful of the more than 200 games they've created since 2003. "The combined revenues and profits solidify our position as the largest, most profitable standalone company in interactive entertainment," states Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. "With a combined global network of more than half a billion monthly active users, our potential to reach audiences around the world on the device of their choosing enables us to deliver great games to even bigger audiences than ever before." Activision Blizzard also announces "better-than-expected" third quarter 2015 financial results showing that World of Warcraft subscriptions, which they call "relatively stable" ended the quarter at 5.5 million, and in spite of the dropoff, note WoW "remains the No. 1 subscription-based MMORPG in the world." Here's more:
Selected Business Highlights:

  • Activision Publishing had its highest ever third quarter non-GAAP operating income, driven by strong engagement and digital revenue, with Q3 monthly active users (MAUs)B up 17% year-over-year, and the largest Q3 and year-to-date digital revenues in its history. Activision Publishing continues to have 3 of the top 5 games on next-generation consoles life-to-date.2
  • Activision Publishing's Call of Duty® franchise year-to-date non-GAAP revenues increased by a double-digit percentage year-over-year due to strong catalog sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, both for full game and Supply Drops. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare remains the No. 1 game on next-generation consoles life-to-date, as it has been since its launch a year ago.2
  • On September 15, 2015, Activision Publishing and Bungie released The Taken King, the largest update to the Destiny universe yet, which was enthusiastically received by fans and critics alike. Day-one downloads broke PlayStation records, day-one engagement saw the highest number of active players in Destiny's history, daily player engagement is now well above 3 hours per day and the Destiny community has climbed to over 25 million registered players. Since its launch, Destiny has become the most watched console game on Twitch.
  • On September 20, 2015, Activision Publishing released Skylanders® SuperChargers, the next installment in the franchise with all new vehicles, action figures and exclusive Nintendo characters. Even with increased competition, SuperChargers is one of Skylanders' highest-rated entries to date and has strong engagement, with more toys per player than last year.
  • Blizzard Entertainment's third quarter MAUsB were up 50% year-over-year, reflecting strong engagement with the online player community.
  • World of Warcraft® subscriptions remained relatively stable, ending the quarter at 5.5 million subscribersC. Players are excited about the upcoming expansion, Legion™, which will feature a new class, customizable Artifact weapons, class order halls, and much more. World of Warcraft remains the No. 1 subscription‐based MMORPG in the world.
  • On August 24, 2015, Blizzard Entertainment launched The Grand Tournament™, the second expansion for Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft™, with over 130 new cards. As a result of this new content, continued strength on mobile, and continued strength across geographies, key engagement metrics grew 77% year-over-year and set a new quarterly revenue record for the franchise.
  • Blizzard Entertainment brought new players into Heroes of the Storm™ with the release of The Eternal Conflict, a series of content and hero additions based on the Diablo® universe. Blizzard also held the Heroes of the Storm regional championships as part of its Road to BlizzCon® esports series, including the Americas Championship in Las Vegas and the Europe Championship in Prague.
  • Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo III continued to bring in new players in Q3, and in China, the game passed the 2-million-unit milestone.
  • Blizzard Entertainment began closed beta testing for Overwatch™ on October 27, 2015, with over 7 million players signed-up to participate, not including China.

On Metal Gear Solid's Future

Konami is mulling over the future of the Next Metal Gear Solid franchise, according to a print story on Nikkei noted on Kotaku. No solid plans are in place, and it's not clear whether this would involve series creator Hideo Kojima, who is reportedly on vacation, though rumors have continued to swirl that he will be leaving Konami. The translated quote that started all this refers to how they would need to spend some serious yen to make a new MGS game: "When we start development, a large-scale investment will become necessary." On a related note, a tweet from George Broussard (thanks VG247) reflects a rumor that Konami is closing Kojima's L.A. studio: "BREAKING: Rumor tells me that Konami has shut down the Kojima Productions LA studio, taking with it approx 35 jobs, just before Xmas," and Kotaku notes this tweet with a similar report which may have been the source of George's rumor.

Democracy 3: Africa Announced

Cliffski's Blog announces development of Democracy 3: Africa, a standalone expansion Positech describes as "a sort of ‘re-imagining’ of the original" Democracy 3. This self-confessed "risk" will refine the game and its expansions, while also drawing attention to the topic of African politics, which is not generally a topic of discussion, much less video games. Here's a bit on the plan:
Democracy 3 is a pretty popular game, and actually, while I’m mentioning it, you can get it at 66% off RIGHT NOW on steam. Anyway…over the years it’s had 3 expansions, (Social Engineering, Extremism and clones & Drones), and recently we revisited the game to tweak it with some GUI improvements and new achievements. Because of its popularity, I’m able to ‘take a risk’ and make a version of the game that at first glance might not make commercial sense. When I told some friends about it they said, ‘why Africa? who is interested in African politics?’

And thats kind of the point. In the west, we tend to think of Africa as either the target of charity fund-raising concerts, or somewhere to go on a safari. We never think about the African economies, or African industry or exports. Lets not forget Africa is home to a billion people…

Elder Scrolls Online Orsinium DLC Released

The Elder Scrolls Online website announces the release of the Orsinium DLC pack for the Windows and OS X editions of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, saying this will come later this month to the console editions of Bethesda's MMORPG. This post from last month has all the details along with this trailer showing off what to expect. Here's a bit:
The Orsinium DLC game pack, which boasts over 20 hours of story content and quests, will be accessible at no cost to those who have an active ESO Plus™ membership. Otherwise, it will cost 3,000 crowns in the ESOTU Crown Store. The base-game patch includes long awaited features such as gamepad support for PC, subtitles, LFG system improvements, and more.
Continue here to read the full story.

World Ship Simulator Announced

Excalibur Publishing announces World Ship Simulator, a new installment in their Windows and OS X transport sim series that will enter early access on Steam next week. Though this is being handled by a new development team they are admittedly refinancing the previous release, so they will offer this as a free upgrade for all who own European Ship Simulator on Steam. Here's word on the game and what to expect from the early access version:
In a fictitious environment but with landmarks drawn from around the world and challenges inspired by real-life ports, this vibrant simulator comes alive with a host of thrilling new dynamics and challenges drawn from life on-board. This Early Access launch features three new and three remodelled ships to offer a broad experience of all aspects of shipping and sailing. Using Unity 5, the new development team has brought together a number of new features designed to stimulate the die-hard enthusiast. These include a brand new career mode with complete missions that are challenging to complete and truly develop the player's experience. The open-world environment allows for sailing between the three ports that are available with this Early Access version. Further development will expand the ability to sail from port to port in a totally free-roam world.

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

So I was planning on shaving my beard and leaving just a mustache for Movember, but this plan has not met with universal approval here in the BlueTower. I did a little poking around on the topic and found that apparently starting the month with a 'stache is cheating anyway, as one is expected to start clean shaven and grow one from scratch to help draw attention to men's health. I guess I'll just do my part by encouraging everyone to check out the homepage of the Movember foundation for tips on how to stay healthy and support the cause.

Molinks: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Pillow City Zero.
Zombie Hell.
Galaxy Mission.
Link: [Theory] Jar Jar Binks was a trained Force user. Amazing. Thanks nin.
Story: Congress prepares to ban 'pay for patriotism' promotions at games.
Science: NASA has trialled an engine that would take us to Mars in 10 weeks. Thanks Derek.
Media: Halloween Costumes For Pets.
Subaru Aluminium Cylinder head Meltdown Big Flames.
The slowed-down Chipmunks are both brilliant and terrifying · Great Job, Internet.
The Funnies: xkcd: Salvage.