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Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017

  

Star Wars Battlefront II Forces EA Stock Towards the Dark Side

Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering, and suffering hurts stock prices. At least that's the take of this CNBC article, which correlates the beating EA's share price continues to suffer to the controversy over progression and loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II. Word is:

Electronic Arts' shareholders are running for the hills this month and for good reason.

The company's profitable business model is now at risk after angry gamers revolted over its aggressive in-game moneymaking strategy in "Star Wars Battlefront II."

EA's stock is down 8.5 percent month to date through Tuesday compared with the S&P 500's 2 percent gain, wiping out $3.1 billion of shareholder value. Its competitors Take-Two and Activision Blizzard shares are up 5 percent and 0.7 percent respectively during the same time period.

Civilization VI Expansion Announced

Take-Two Interactive announces Sid Meyer's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, a "huge" new expansion coming to Firaxis' turn-based strategy sequel on February 8, 2018 (thanks Fydar). This adds a new underlying game mechanic which inspires add-on's title, where a civilization can entire a golden age or a dark age. This will add new storytelling elements called Historic Moments, which highlight turning points. Word is, "These events happen every time you play, making playthroughs unique, while also giving them meaning in the mechanics." Here's the trailer accompanying the news, and here is a features list from a shorter press release:

Key features for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fall include:

  • GREAT AGES: As your civilization ebbs and flows, and you reach milestone Historic Moments, you will experience Dark Ages or Golden Ages, each providing specific challenges or bonuses based on your actions in-game. Rise triumphantly from a Dark Age, and your next Golden Age will be even stronger – a Heroic Age.
  • LOYALTY: Cities now have individual Loyalty to your leadership – let it fall too low, and face the consequences of low yields, revolts, and the potential to lose your city to another civilization, or its own independence. But one civilization’s loss can be your gain as you inspire Loyalty among cities throughout the map and further expand your borders.
  • GOVERNORS: Recruit, appoint, and upgrade powerful characters with unique specialization bonuses and promotion trees to customize your cities, and reinforce Loyalty.
  • ENHANCED ALLIANCES: An enhanced alliances system allows players to form different types of alliances and build bonuses over time.
    EMERGENCIES: When a civilization grows too powerful, other civilizations can join a pact against the threatening civilization and earn rewards, or penalties, when the Emergency ends.
  • TIMELINE: Review your civilization’s history at any time with the new Timeline feature, a visual journey through the Historic Moments that you encountered on your path to victory.
  • NEW LEADERS AND CIVS: Nine leaders and eight new civilizations are introduced. Each brings unique bonuses and gameplay, as well as a total of eight unique units, two unique buildings, four unique improvements, and two unique districts.
  • NEW GLOBAL CONTENT: Eight new world wonders, seven natural wonders, four new units, two new tile improvements, two new districts, fourteen new buildings, and three new resources have been added.
  • IMPROVED GAMEPLAY SYSTEMS: The Government system has been enhanced with new Policies and additional improvements have been made to existing systems.

Continue here to read the full story.

Black Mirror Released

KING Art Games and THQ Nordic announce the release of Black Mirror for Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. This is unrelated to the British television anthology series, rather it's a remake of the horror game of the same name first released in 2003. The PC editions are available on GOG.com and Steam. This video shows how they've updated the game, and here's word on its similarities and differences compared to the original:

Like in the original graphic adventure trilogy, the Gothic Horror genre and its unique atmosphere of madness and psychological distress remains at the heart of Black Mirror.

The point-and-click gameplay of the original trilogy served as the basis for the re-imagined gameplay, which focuses on close-up investigation and interaction with nightmarish visions that plague the protagonist of the game David Gordon.

Key Features

  • A modern re-imagining of the acclaimed gothic-horror adventure series
  • Interactions with vision-like apparitions which help you learn more about your family's past
  • Eerie atmosphere focusing on the horrors of the mind, in the style of EA Poe and HP Lovecraft
  • High quality voice acting from a compelling ensemble cast

Continue here to read the full story.

STAR OCEAN - THE LAST HOPE - 4K & Full HD Remaster Released

Steam News announces the release of another remake, as STAR OCEAN - THE LAST HOPE - 4K & Full HD Remaster is now available for Windows, carrying a 10% launch discount. The original action/RPG is now old enough to drink while the original Last Hope came out in 2009. Here's how it's been updated:

From the creative minds of Square Enix and tri-Ace, STAR OCEAN - THE LAST HOPE takes place at the very beginning of the Star Ocean series.

This action-packed RPG takes players on the epic journey of mankind’s last stand, with exploration and battle across some of the most mysterious, dangerous and fantastical worlds of the universe.

Earth has been decimated by World War III and now humanity must turn to the stars in search of a new home. Explore the galaxy on your quest, make allies and enemies among the alien races you encounter and uncover a danger so great that it threatens all of creation.

  • Spectacular New 4k and Full HD Visuals
  • Exhilarating Real-time Battles

A universe of adventure and danger await in the great Star Ocean!

EverQuest II Expands

Daybreak Games announces the release of Planes of Prophecy, the 14th expansion for EverQuest II, the MMORPG sequel. This trailer offers a look, and the announcement has all the details:

EverQuest II: Planes of Prophecy is a throwback to the classic EverQuest expansion, Planes of Power. In the Planes of Prophecy expansion, players experience the wonders of the celestial realms, where fates are decided, prophecies are fulfilled and realities are remade. Venturing deep into these mystic lands, including the Planes of Magic, Innovation and Disease, players will forge deific alliances and harness primal powers to wage war against Lanys T'Vyl and her Tenets of Hate, who seek to lay waste to Norrath and the pantheon.

The expansion features all-new dungeons for solo, heroic and raid players, as well as an increase in the level cap and a new weapon type: soulbound weapons, which gain experience and grow in power as they level up.

EverQuest II: Planes of Prophecy is available for purchase today beginning at $34.99 for the Standard Edition, $89.99 for the Collector’s Edition, and $139.99 for the Premium Edition. Each edition features a variety of special bonuses, as well as access to all previously released expansion content. Daybreak All Access members will receive a 10% discount at checkout. For more information, visit www.everquest2.com/expansion-content.

Continue here to read the full story.

Hunting Simulator Demo

This announcement reveals the availability of a free playable demo for Hunting Simulator, offering the chance to try on the camo and deer urine of a virtual hunter (thanks Frans). Here's word on the release:

In this free version, you’ll begin your adventure with three missions in which you will hunt different prey in the wilderness of the Colorado plains, the Rocky Mountains and the French Alps.

Just like in the full game, you’ll need to prepare your equipment beforehand and adapt yourself to your environment in order to properly track down your prey.

Experience the thrill of the hunt now!

Op Ed

GamesIndustry.biz - Games could be hit hard by net neutrality's death. Thanks RedEye9 via [H]ardOCP.
"Studio Wildcard co-founder and co-creative director Jeremy Stieglitz commented to me, "Anyone who cares about multiplayer online gaming should be up in arms about the imminent demise of net neutrality in the USA. It's completely destructive to the idea of fair and level competitive gameplay to have throttled bandwidth depending on whether you are a small title or a part of a big commercial enterprise.

If you enjoy online games like Rocket League, you need to fight for net neutrality
"Once the network carriers decide they can prioritize bandwidth to their own offerings above anything else, independent games such as Ark are likely to suffer. This performance degradation may not happen overnight, but it almost surely will happen once the carriers decide to commercially exploit the extreme power they will have been given. Gamers everywhere should try fight this, to the extent that they can make their voices heard."

And it's not just about gamers. Game companies, especially startups, will almost certainly be affected by all of this. If you're one of the smaller companies in gaming, you have no chance to compete with juggernauts like Steam anymore because the playing field is no longer level. For example, Steam might pay to be included in the ISP's gaming package, get that fast lane, but then up-and-coming download portals could see their speeds throttled. It's just not a fair fight, and it's bad news for a free economy."

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Destiny 2 Free Trial Released

The promised free trial for Destiny 2 is now available, with the Windows edition of the first-person shooter sequel offered through Blizzard's Battle.net. This page has the details, and here's the overview offered there:

DESTINY 2 TRIAL INCLUDES:

  • Campaign Mission on EDZ & Titan
  • Adventure and Explore two full worlds
  • PvP Multiplayer: Crucible Quickplay Playlist
  • Character Progression: to Level 7
  • Gameplay carries over to full game with purchase
  • Clan Functionality

Square Enix on the Future of Deus Ex

After indications early this year that the Deus Ex series was going on hiatus, Square Enix refutes any perception that the franchise is dead. In an interview on GamesIndustry.biz with Yosuke Matsuda, he explains that this is a "very important franchise" and that they are already having internal discussions on the next installment. Here's word, which notes that the Thief series is likely affected by the same glut of projects at Eidos Montreal that caused Deus Ex to go on the back burner:

Matsuda is also quick to quash premature reports of Deus Ex's demise: "We have never said anything about discontinuing that title but for some reason that's the rumour out on the market.

"What I can say is Eidos Montreal has always developed Deus Ex, and the issue is we do not have limitless resources. We have several big titles that we work with and that's partly a factor in what our line-up looks like. Of course, it would be ideal if we could work on all of them all of the time, but the fact of the matter is some titles have to wait their turn. The reason there isn't a Deus Ex right now is just a product of our development line-up because there are other titles we are working on."

He went on to add that Deus Ex is also a "very important franchise" for the publisher, highlighting its unique position in Square Enix's portfolio as a first-person title, and added: "We are already internally discussing and exploring what we want do with the next instalment of it."

While Matsuda didn't address Thief specifically, the stealth series is also developed at Eidos Montreal so is no doubt in the same position at Deus Ex. This is in no small part because Eidos Montreal is one of several studios working on Square Enix's multi-year, multi-game partnership with Marvel Studios.

Unity Acquires Multiplay from GAME

Unity Technologies announces the acquisition of Multiplay Ltd and its game hosting business from GAME Digital for £19 million GBP (a bit over $25M USD). This adds a new dimension to Unity's engine licensing business with back-end support for multiplayer games. Here's word on the plan that quotes Unity boss (and former EA CEO John Riccitiello:

Unity Technologies (https://unity3d.com/), creator of the world’s most popular creation engine that reaches nearly three billion devices worldwide, announced today that the company has entered into a definitive acquisition agreement under which Unity Technologies has acquired Multiplay Ltd and its game hosting business from GAME Digital plc (LON:GMD) for £19M GBP. The events business and its associated IP’s will remain with GAME.

“The team at Multiplay have created scalable multiplayer technology that gives all game creators, from indies to AAA studios, the ability to create performant experiences that can serve hundreds of thousands of players at once,” said John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies. “We welcome the Multiplay team to the Unity family.”

“Multiplay is thrilled to be joining Unity for what will be an exciting new chapter,” said Paul Manuel, Managing Director of Multiplay. “It’s a great fit because like Unity, it’s in our core to solve hard problems so game developers don’t have to. This deal will let us bring scalable AAA quality server technology and infrastructure to a much wider audience.”

Multiplay serves today’s most popular games including Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts), Rocket League (indie developer Psyonix) and Rust (Facepunch Studios).

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam Adds Australian Forces

Tripwire Interactive now offers a Bushranger content update for Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, adding Australian forces to the Vietnam War first-person shooter. They celebrate the news by putting the game on sale on Steam for half-off. This forum post has details on the Bushranger update along with screenshots, and their announcement includes an outline of all that's new:

Tripwire Interactive is excited to release the Bushranger Content Update, the first free major content update for the award-winning tactical shooter Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, which debuted for PC via Steam earlier this year in May. The Australians were a major player on the anti-Communist side of the war for 10 years, between 1962 and 1972, along with supporting elements from New Zealand. Now playable in today’s update, the Australian forces come with new unique customization options and specially recorded voice-over.

To celebrate this milestone, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is featured on Steam’s Midweek Madness sale for 50% off! This sale is live and will end on Dec. 1st at 10 a.m. PST.

The Bushranger Content Update for Rising Storm 2: Vietnam includes:

  • New Weapons
    • L1A1 SLR – The backbone of the Australian Army’s arsenal, this 7.62 NATO semi-automatic is available for the grunt class
    • L2A1 LMG – Machine gunners will be able to choose this fully automatic version of the L1A1, with an added bipod and fire selector for precision aiming
    • Owens SMG – First brought into service during World War II, the gravity-assisted 9mm machine carbine was still used by troops during Vietnam
    • F1 SMG – Similar to the British Sterling, this 9mm submachine gun comes with semi and full automatic fire modes and a detachable bayonet
    • Browning Hi-Power Pistol – Semi-automatic 9mm sidearm sporting a 13-round magazine
  • New Maps
    • Long Tan – NLF forces will be tasked with attacking a defensive position set in a rubber plantation on a dark and stormy night
    • Rung Sac – Battle in the Vietnamese marshlands, culminating with a last stand in an old Indochina-era fortress
    • Operation Forrest – A large-scale map taking place across swamps and farmland, this map features the games longest engagement distances to-date
  • New Commander Ability
    • The Canberra Bomber – Australian Forces commanders can now call in English Electric Canberra bombers to carpet bomb an area along a set path. New UI features have been added to help commanders direct the trajectory of this ability as well as the existing Napalm Strike ability
  • New Vehicle
    • Huey ‘Bushranger’ Attack Helicopter – Complete with folding-fin aerial rockets (FFAR) and adjustable miniguns for the pilot and co-pilot, and dual mounted M60 door guns for passengers
  • Bug fixes and improvements in response to community feedback

Morning Patches

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy Giving Tuesday, an occasion I daresay rates more attention than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Dark Horizons has word on the possibility of a sequel to Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, just 14 years after the release of the age of sail movie. I found the original to be a terrific epic tale, and always thought its worthiness of a sequel was a no-brainer, but I'd long ago given up any hope that one would happen. This possibility was raised in a tweet from Russell Crowe, and he suggest that the chances this will happen could be enhanced by tweeting 20th Century Fox which may be enough for me to start a persona Twitter account just to throw my support behind this.

R.I.P.: Pelham's Anthony Senerchia, inspired Ice Bucket Challenge, dead at 46.

Giving Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Neon Biker.
Big Ice Tower Tiny Square.
Stories: Woman Gets Final Birthday Flowers From Her Father, Years After His Death. Onion warning. Thanks RedEye9.
Alfa Romeo Giulia named 'Motor Trend' Car of the Year.
Bali Volcano Spits Ash 2 ½ Miles in the Sky, Airport Closed.
Science: Dance By The Light Of The 2017 Supermoon- The How And When.
See a doctor if you drank raw milk, federal officials warn.
Is it possible to eat so much that your stomach explodes? Thanks RedEye9.
Media: ADAM: Episode 2. Thanks Hypothermia.
Cheese Expert Guesses Cheap vs Expensive Cheeses.
The pain must have been unbearable. Adorable animal and nutshot video mashup.
Follow-up: Judge: Doctor who doesn't use computer can't regain license.
A flat-Earther’s plan to launch himself in a homemade rocket has been postponed — again.
Cameron On "Avatar 2" Delay & Possible Failure.



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