Gamefront: Weekly Network Update 58 (week 09, 2012) - News - FileFront News Posted by: Danny on 03-04-2012 @ 10:42
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Here it is the 58th version of the Weekly Gamefront Network News Update, the news part of the update covers the news side of the Network and the Gamefront Main site over the past week. There has been a fair bit of news from the Main site including a lot of trailers, reviews, previews and a lot more, with a lot of interesting articles this week on new consoles, piracy and even a real wipeout model!. However you can find more news from the main Gamefront site - Here
We would love to hear any suggestions that you have; if you see something that you would like to be added to the Weekly Network Update, or you have any suggestions that you think may improve the Network Update then simply drop me an email at Danny[at]filefront[dot]com (please put "Network Update" as the subject though ).
Also If you like the Network Update please feel free write a comment as I would love to hear any critism, or support (constructive though please as this is the only way that I know how good or bad the insider is and it would help me to improve this further). Also I should mention that the comments section is not for complaining about the bugs of the network sites, most of these we do know about and are with the Break.com Tech Team , also again this is not the place for comments about the bugs, I myself do not have the ability or the knowledge to fix them, although you can use our forums to post your comments here - http://forums.filefront.com/filefront-com-help-center-1272/
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In many ways, trying to “review” a game like Dear Esther is as random and interpretive as the game itself. An experimental title originally created as a Half-Life 2 mod, there’s much debate as to whether Dear Esther — a first-person title in which players can’t actually interact with the world around them, but only walk, look and listen — is a game at all.
But in terms of what experimentation in storytelling such as this can do for video games, Dear Esther is in a precarious position. It toes a strange line: on one side, there’s the advancement of games as an artistic storytelling medium; on the other, there’s Dear Esther’s lack of “game” elements, which makes one wonder just how much such experiments can do for the medium as a whole.
Dear Esther (2012): PC (reviewed)
Developer: thechineseroom and Robert Briscoe
Released: February 14, 2012
Unnecessary. Tacked on. Against the spirit of the game. When BioWare announced that Mass Effect 3 would have cooperative multiplayer, franchise fans didn’t soft-pedal their criticism. They saw their beloved space opera RPG joining a long line of successful games whose sequels were marred by obligatory, unwanted multiplayer modes. In vain, they second-guessed the developers, wondering why Mass Effect even needed multiplayer.
When asked about multiplayer in Skyrim, Bethesda marketing VP Peter Hines raised the crucial question: “If you’re doing multiplayer, why are you doing multiplayer? What are you trying to accomplish?” Most gamers would agree with Hines’ verdict: “If that’s a singleplayer game that’s 15 to 20 hours, then make that! Don’t waste your time on features that don’t make the game better.”
So why do game developers and publishers add multiplayer modes to successful singleplayer games? Their track record is, at best, mixed. Bioshock 2, in many ways the originator of the trend, is widely regarded as a failure, and its multiplayer was singled out for particular criticism. Assassin’s Creed, on the other hand, was widely praised for the unique gameplay provided in Brotherhood. Multiplayer in games such as Dead Space 2 falls somewhere in the mediocre middle.
Perhaps it’s due to a plot that dovetails nicely with the looming Mayan Apocalypse, but no game is as highly anticipated in 2012 as Mass Effect 3. Despite being riddled with controversies ranging from the inclusion of a cooperative multiplayer, to a DLC strategy that tests the patience of gamers already willing to spend hundreds on their consoles and PCs, expectations are still enormously high for the final Commander Shepard game to be the best in the series.
Whether or not it can meet those expectations will remain a mystery until it launches in one week, but success or failure, every single one of us will be playing. And because we’re as obsessed as you are, we see no harm in stoking feverish impatience further with a detailed look a the epic conclusion of one of the defining gaming phenomenons of our time. Please turn off your omni-tools and tell your significant others they should go: Here is everything we know about Mass Effect 3.
(This is another edition of , a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
Ed McMillen recently attempted to get his blood-soaked, hyper-violent action game The Binding of Isaac published on the 3DS and was refused a license by Nintendo. The game, which is available on Steam, features a naked little boy who is trying to escape a mother that wants to kill him in the name of God. The game is full of blood, monstrous creatures, and dark themes, yet Nintendo didn’t have too much of a problem with any of that, by all accounts. Being a violent M-rated game is just fine … but you can’t talk about God.
The reason that Isaac has been refused classification isn’t for the violence, but for “questionable religious content.”
To which I say … oh fuck you.
I’ll tell you right off the bat that I am not a religious person. In fact, I do all I can to avoid that kind of thing, which is pretty hard as a British man living in the middle of Mississippi. Perhaps my being in a state where half the population wants “life” to begin at conception and for miscarriages to be treated as potential murders has embittered me a little toward the Christian set, but I have to say that I am pretty fucking sick of religion being treated with kid gloves. There are some that would want you to believe that wealthy, white, numerous American Christians are somehow “persecuted” in a society where religious lobbyists have the power to influence law, and where a politician can say that the Devil has enslaved the education system and still be considered a credible presidential candidate. You mean to tell me that these people need protection? That they can’t weather a little criticism when they’re currently in control of everything?
The video game reboot is a tricky thing. As much as we remember loving a classic game, technology, not to mention our tastes, marches on. The experience of actually playing a game can never match the way we remember it, particularly if we’ve gradually adapted our memories to fit the technological possibilities we now enjoy. There’s also the tricky matter of game genres waxing and waning in popularity. That puts tremendous pressure on the developer to reinvent the game to resemble whatever it is people send their hard earned video game dollars on these days.
Such is the dilemma facing EA imprint Starbreeze Studios, as they try resurrecting 1993′s classic real time tactical game Syndicate. The original Syndicate helped define the way the cyberpunk aesthetic would be expressed in gaming, and also happened to be a great deal of fun. In the nearly 20 years since, numerous (aesthetic) imitators like Perfect Dark and the Deus Ex series have enjoyed fantastic success, so it makes sense to bring Syndicate back for a new generation of gamers, not to mention their parents ahem older peers who loved the original. Alas, any orgiastic celebrations may have to be postponed, at least until the sequel.
Gone is the isometric real time tactical game of yore. In its place, a first person shooter that superficially manages to capture something of the original’s flavor. The wonderful setting and beautiful aesthetic retains a kernel of the original game, and with exciting combat a winning gameplay system and wonderful co-op it has a lot to offer. Unfortunately, for all of it’s successes, Syndicate’s narrative is dull, underdeveloped and derivative, and it suffers from some rather annoying visual problems. But if you can set aside your longing for the Syndicate you once knew (and embrace the clever way the reboot nods to that game), the new Syndicate is very promising, even if it is also a mess of missed opportunities.
It should come as no surprise to anybody with a lick of common sense that Facebook gaming is not quite the guaranteed moneymaker some had assumed it to be. In fact, its honeymoon period may be over, with the latest figures suggesting that Facebook users have gotten over the novelty by now. According to a report on MCV, the number of Facebook users playing games has seen a sharp decline, with a significant yearly drop. In 2010, over half of Facebook users played games on the social network, which decreased to roughly 25% in 2011.
Naturally, the usual suspects have cropped up as reasons for the decline. Mobile gaming is a big contributing factor, according to researchers. There’s also little doubt that intense saturation of the platform has turned many users off. More interestingly, however, is the suggestion that users are sick of “casual” experiences like Farmville and want something with a little more challenge. I think all of these factors are important, of course, but while we “hardcore” gamers celebrate the downfall of social gaming, it would be unwise to write Facebook off completely. In fact, I think it’s an exciting platform we ought to encourage, especially now that the mainstream users appear to have gotten bored of it.
I feel Facebook game developers went wrong by targeting just casual users and expecting them to stick around. The mainstream consumer loves a fad, but doesn’t love it forever. Huge crazes are fueled by intense, obsessive love of a product, but it’s a love so hot it burns as swiftly as it does brightly. It’s not a sustainable business model to build your future around that kind of consumer craze, and that’s why there are now a bunch of developers facing an ever-dwindling audience. Facebook users are, by their very nature, easily weary and highly distracted. That’s why we have Facebook accounts — because we so easily get bored and need new information to fill our empty heads. Right now, the Facebook gaming scene is saturated with studios, all trying to copy each other and attract the attention of people who are already looking for the next big waste of time. Right now is the time to change one’s target audience … and start going after actual gamers.
U.S. Presidential elections. Leap years. Every four years, both appear together. Never wanting to miss an opportunity for game-related celebration, we at GameFront cudgled our brains, searching in vain for an article to commemorate today, rarest of days.
Suddenly, it hit us. Ever since Pitfall! arrived in 1982, games have been chock full of leaping. Most people call it jumping, sure, but what’s a little archaic usage among friends? Over the course of three decades, the total number of video game leaps must number in the hundreds of billions. So today, in honor of leap year, we present 5 Epic Video Game Leaps.
5. Mirror’s Edge
4. Demon’s Souls
3. Battlefield 3
2. Mass Effect 2
1. Double Jump (Pick Your Platformer)
Click below for full info
Read: 5 Epic Video Game Leaps Gamefront News: Activision Launches First DLC Bundle for Modern Warfare 3 on March 20 on Xbox Live
After rolling out new downloadable content for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for the last month that was available to subscribers to Activision’s Call of Duty Elite service, the publisher has announced it’s bundling all the major content packs yet released and making them available in one big package on Xbox Live.
It’s called the Modern Warfare 3 Collection #1, and it includes four multiplayer maps and two Spec Ops missions. The maps are Liberation, Piazza, Overwatch and Black Box; the Spec Ops missions are Black Ice and Negotiator.
All the DLC packs are first made available to Elite subscribers through March (the Black Ice, Negotiator and Black Box content for Elite subscribers drops on March 13). On March 20, the first content pack with everything released since January will be made available to Xbox Live users. It’ll likely be about a month before Playstation 3 and PC players get their hands on it.
Activision hasn’t dropped a price tag for Collection #1 just yet, but if history is any indication, expect it to be about 1200 Microsoft Points, or $15.
The Age of Conan developers have decided that, in order to improve on the MMO’s crafting system, they need to rebuild crafting completely from the ground up. Progression in crafting and gathering will now be linked to actually creating items and using the relevant skills — gone are the fetch-quests. Trade-skills will now be available as soon as you hit level twenty after the Tortage experience.
The monthly development update stated:
“The first thing to stress here is that this process hasn’t been approached as tweaking or improving the existing system. This is a totally new system. When we sat down and looked at the system and how we could add depth and improve engagement, it became clear that it was better to start over. So rather than try and shoe-horn what we had into something a little more useable, we decided to bite the proverbial bullet and start over. This meant that we would not be restricted by the limitations of the original system, and that we were free to try to create something with a lot more freedom for you guys to experiment with.”
Frictional Games does indeed have a follow-up to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. And apparently the game needs even more indie prowess, so the developer has enlisted the help of Dear Esther dev thechineseroom, too.
In fact, thechineseroom is developing A Machine For Pigs, which is set in the Amnesia universe (and carries the moniker in its title) but is not a direct sequel to Frictional’s horror game. As Joystiq reports, there’s no set release date yet, although the two companies are aiming to have it out in 2012 and hope for a launch that happens before the end of October.
It still sounds like A Machine For Pigs aims to be scary, although it doesn’t include the same characters as The Dark Descent. Here’s a description from Joystiq’s story:
Set in 1899, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs follows the “wealthy industrialist” Oswald Mandus, who has returned home from “a disastrous expedition to Mexico, which has ended in tragedy.” Struck by a destructive fever, Mandus is haunted by dreams of a dark machine until he mysteriously regains consciousness. Months have passed, unbeknownst to the industry tycoon, and as he emerges from his slumber the roaring engine of a mysterious machine sputters to life.
Rest assured, we’ll be bringing you guys everything we can find about A Machine For Pigs as it becomes available.
Bohemia will offer a “community alpha” testing phase of ArmA 3 after it shows the game off at E3 this year — and if you like that, you’ll love to hear that there’s a big player beta test coming, too.
As VG247 reports, Bohemia Project Lead Dan Musil said the company is going to release a playable build of the PC exclusive, which it refers to as the community alpha. That will be open to players and made available for the purpose of shaping and honing content. It won’t include a ton in the way of assets, Musil said, and will instead focus on new game systems and the like and be used to gather player feedback.
“Ours is a large and complex game – being developed by a relatively small team – so we really appreciate your opinions, thoughts and feedback,” he said. And the early look at the engine and the technology will allow modders to get to work.
Musil said there would later be a more extensive beta of ARMA III, although he said the details haven’t been worked out yet and would be made available closer to launch.
All this community involvement sounds like a good idea. Bohemia recently announced it was delaying ARMA III until Q4 2012 because the game needed more development time, and by opening up early builds of the game, it seems the dev team might be able to get players to help with quality assurance early in the process.
The universe of Mass Effect is a big one, and though the Commander Shepard trilogy is coming to an end in just a week’s time(!), BioWare has suggested it’s not done with the universe by any stretch.
But a Mass Effect MMO? Well, it’s possible, but BioWare isn’t rushing into it.
Speaking with Penny Arcade Report, BioWare’s founders, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, noted that the universe of Mass Effect offers a huge “possibility space” — there’s potentially a lot of things gamers would like to do and could be able to do given the size and strength of the universe. The developer is still coming off the apparently successful but still arduous launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and it doesn’t seem ready to tackle an anything MMO in addition to the one it’s already running anytime soon.
That said, Zeschuk and Muzyka didn’t turn down any possibilities in the interview.
“It’s daunting, but the neat thing is it would lend itself to a different type of game play,” Zeschuk said in the interview. “It’s fun to think about. I imagine people think it would be just like Mass Effect as it is… but there’s lots of people there. It’s really interesting, I don’t know. It’s a tough one.”
You have to hand it to Valve. The announcement of DRM is almost universally seen as bad news, but it seems to be just dandy when Steamworks is involved. If you are one of those folk that have no issue with Valve’s anti-piracy measure, you’ll be thrilled to learn that the PC version of Borderlands 2 shall be rocking it. As expected, it’ll get all the benefits that Steamworks provides as well. DRM with benefits to the paying consumer … what an idea!
Such benefits include cloud saving, Steam Achievements, auto-updates, matchmaking and easily obtainable downloadable content. This extends to retail copies of the game, as well as those purchased digitally through Steam itself.
The game is up for pre-order right now, and it’ll be available on September 18. I’m pretty stoked.
Seems like Electronic Arts is throwing Mass Effect 3 DLC in with just about anything it can brand for the game. We’ve seen it with everything from phone cases to action figures. Now console owners have a way to get at something exclusive, too, with the above case from Calibur11.
That there is called the Mass Effect 3 Console Vault and it’s modeled after the chest plate of male Commander Shepard’s N7 special forces armor. The insignia even lights up when you turn the console on. More importantly, the DLC that comes with the case is called The Vault’s Reinforcement Pack. It’s geared for multiplayer and contains: “a variety of character race and class unlocks, weapons and weapon modifications, ammo, power and health consumables, and more.” The DLC is also available if you participate in the Mass Effect 3 Recruitment Facebook app.
The Vault will run you just under $90, but it doesn’t void your console warranty. You can order one from BioWare right here.
Rumors around the Internet have it that the next off-year Call of Duty title (that is, not a Modern Warfare entry into the series) will be Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Further rumors suggest it has a (fully predictable) release date: November 12.
The date reportedly showed up on a Spanish online ad by retailer Fnac, an image of which was snagged by Gamepur. There’s not a lot of info on the image except the date, but that jives well with Activision’s yearly refreshes of the series, which tend to get released in the second week of November. The trouble is, it’s also a Monday; games tend to release on Tuesdays, which would put the likely release date for Blops Deux on Nov. 12 or Nov. 6. But even if Fnac is guessing at the release date, you can pretty well bet November when the game will be out, barring some kind development disaster.
The other interesting thing about the image is that it further strengthens the assumption that Black Ops 2 will be the name of the next title. The first Black Ops was a record-breaking release in 2010, so it’s very reasonable that Activision would rather continue to build on that sub-franchise than create a more disparate entry. We could very well be on the cusp of two Call of Duty franchises releasing in tandem. Yikes.
The beta for the online-only multiplayer experience Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is in full swing, so we’ve dispatched Mitch and James of the Game Front video team to check it out. The results are bullet-riddled, but entertaining.
Both Mitch and James used to be Counter-Strike players waaay back in the day, but they’ve since fallen out of touch with the Valve FPS. So it’s off to the beta they go, to shoot at guys and relearn a few things, like grenade avoidance, sniper rifle etiquette, and that walking backwards in order to try to guard a teammate’s back leaves you open to getting shot from the front.
The 1999 action film The Boondock Saints is receiving the video game treatment, with Critical Mass Interactive spearheading the project. According to its website, Critical Mass Interactive was recently awarded interactive development rights to The Boondock Saints, and cast members from the movie, including Norman Reedus, will be making an announcement during the ScreenBurn Arcade portion of next month’s SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, TX.
Critical Mass Interactive generally handles outsourced art, design and programming duties for other developers, listing The Outfit and The Incredible Hulk among its past projects. What, exactly, we can expect is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see something à la Saints Row.
Electronic Arts has passed out some details on the newly announced Medal of Honor: Warfighter in a report from OXM: First up, it’ll use Battlefield 3′s Frostbite 2.0 engine. That should make it look pretty damn spiffy.
The report has a few other cool tidbits:
* Warfighter will loosely follow real events and real soldiers, like the series’ last title.
* Danger Close says it’s going for “authenticity” rather than “simulation,” which will translate into things like regenerating health
* Preacher, Voodoo and Mother — as well as other characters — are going to be returning in Warfighter
* Warfighter seems like it’ll include more player choice; OXM cites an example of players choosing which method to use to breach a door
* Expect a one-shot kill “hardcore mode” in multiplayer, which is being developed in-house by Danger Close
* There’s likely to be some kind of co-op mode, but Warfighter probably won’t include full campaign co-op
We’ll keep firing details your way as more about EA’s upcoming title comes to light.
Set to release June 25th, the Menace of the Underdark expansion for Dungeons & Dragons Online will have players fighting the Queen of the Demonweb herself, Lolth. The expansion includes three Forgotten Realms adventure packs and epic destinies that allow for progression from levels 20-25.
Players will defend the village of Eveningstar from drow raiders in the King’s Forest, venture into the Underdark and attack a drow city, then journey into the Demonweb and face Lolth, the Demon Queen of Spiders.
Bonus features for VIPs or for those who pre-purchase the expansion include the druid class and the Eveningstar Challenge Pack, for levels 15-25.
According to DDO Executive Producer Fernando Paiz, “an agressive pace of updates” will follow the expansion.
Epic planning to preview the next-generation version of its Unreal Engine technology, Unreal Engine 4, at Game Developers Conference 2012.
The preview isn’t available to the public, however; it’s reserved for licensees (read: game developers), press and a few other lucky individuals. Epic hasn’t released more information than that, but given how ubiquitous the Unreal Engine 3 has become, the company’s next game engine offering is sure to make a big splash in the industry.
We’re keeping an eye out for any information we can get on the Unreal Engine 4; last we heard about it, Tim Sweeney was saying the new engine wouldn’t start showing up in new games until 2014. That’s still a long way off, but who knows how things are progressing over at Epic.
Big news in Amalur, today: the first downloadable content pack for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, “The Legend of Dead Kel”, will be arriving on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Steam and Origin on March 20.
The expansion will add a new continent for players to explore, the island of Gallows End, which constitutes a 15% expansion of the game‘s world, complete with a new story arc that takes place there. In addition, the pack promises numerous sidequests and a new player residence, an estate consisting of multiple buildings.
If you’ve been using tricks like the easy 100% experience bonus, then odds are you’ve long-since finished the game and have been waiting for new content.
Mass Effect 3 launches this coming Tuesday, and no doubt you’ll be doing everything you can to get your hands on it as quickly as possible. If you’re lucky, or smart, you’ll be downloading the PC version. If you’re not so lucky, you might find yourself at Gamestop. That’s because, as expected, on March 6 they’ll be opening up 3600 stores at the stroke of midnight for the Mass Effect 3 launch. This is going to be a mixed bag for most of you, but if you live in either Los Angeles, Boston, or Chicago, they’re also hosting some special events that might make enduring the slow service and uninformed staff worth the hassle.
In LA, or more specifically the GameStop in West Hollywood, BioWare developers will be on hand to sign autographs and take questions. They’ll also be hosting a trivia contest, with Mass Effect 3 related prizes for the winners. Developers will also be on hand in Boston and Chicago, but patient shoppers will also be able to play Mass Effect 3 on kiosks set up in select stores. Much cooler than a trivia contest, but without the free gear.
Those of you not interesting Mass Effect 3 can also pick up copies of Street Fighter X Tekken, MLB 12: The Show, and Major League Baseball 2k12.
Bigpoint announced that it has been working on a Game of Thrones browser-based MMORPG since last summer, and an initial closed beta is planned for fall 2012. The game will be based on the HBO TV show, which was adapted from the bestselling fantasy book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R.R. Martin.
Heiko Hubertz, CEO and founder of Bigpoint, said:
“We intend to build a game that resonates intimately with its diehard community of followers, while also creating an authentic gaming experience that attracts newcomers to the franchise. The excitement of online games is that, over time, their collective input will help shape the game’s destiny; we’re eager to see how the story unfolds.”
Bigpoint’s design goal is to capture the show’s drama and action and create a visceral gaming experience via “an unprecedented level of visual fidelity.”
Jane’s Advanced Strike Fighters will be released in the UK on 2012, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, on March 9. Boasting over 30 flyable jets, 16-player multiplayer combat, and a full campaign that can be enjoyed solo or through 2-4 player co-op, J.A.S.F. looks like a fun jet fighter game, as the trailer below demonstrates:
My concern is that Jane‘s name has traditionally been attached to hardcore simulators, whereas this feels more like an action game. While this can certainly turn out to be a great game, diehard Jane fans may feel cheated and even mislead.
Will you be busting out your joystick for this title?
Lionhead Studios, the maker of Fable and studio of one Peter Molyneux, seems to be up to something.
The studio’s official website has been replaced by the graphic shown above, complete with a counter ticking off about a week’s worth of time. It seems that timer is rolling down to a big website update for the company — as well as something else.
The seven-day ticker will put the new Lionhead Studios website rollout right in the middle of Game Developers Conference 2012. That suggests some kind of announcement; who knows what it could be, but I bet that button is a clue. Maybe Fable: The Journey?
We’ll have more details when our own Ben Richardson hits the ground in San Francisco next week for GDC 2012.
PC Gamer has compiled a handy guide on everything we need to know about XCOM: Enemy Unknown. If you were a fan of the original, you likely have a few questions about this remake, so here’s the skinny:
The original creators are not involved.
The game will feature destructible environments, as in the original.
There is still perma-death for soldiers, and options will allow the game to be as difficult as the original.
The game’s “strategic layer” is still real-time.
“Time Units” have been removed from the game.
You can still manage your soldiers’ equipment.
You still build your own base.
The music will be similar in tone to the original’s.
Mod tools may be released post-launch.
It has not been simplified for consoles.
Sid Meier has some involvement in the development.
No word on multiplayer.
How does that sound to you?
Turbine is putting out a new retail release of Lord of the Rings Online for the first time in three years. Called the “Mithril Edition,” the new release includes some spiffy collector’s edition extras for fans.
The new box is available now at GameStop stores and includes a bunch of in-game extras for LOTRO players. It also features a discount price: $29.99 for what Turbine calls “over $50 worth of content.”
Here’s a rundown of what you get if you pick up the Mithril Edition:
Exclusive ‘Steed of the Horse-lords’ Mount
Travel Middle-earth in style with this exclusive in-game mount! Saddle up as early as level 5 and be on your way to adventure much faster than on foot!
Path of the Fellowship Bonus Quests
Forge your own legend in Middle-earth alongside Aragorn, Legolas, and Gandalf. From the Shire to Rivendell – adventure in a masterful recreation of Middle-earth! Includes the Trollshaws, Eregion, Mines of Moria, and Lothlorien.
2,000 Turbine Points
Customize your LOTRO experience with 2,000 points to spend in Middle-earth! Buy cosmetic gear, rare mounts, experience boosts, buffs and more.
Blizzard is laying off 600 employees worldwide, roughly 90% of whom are from departments unrelated to game development. Development teams will remain “largely unaffected” by these layoffs, so don’t worry about Diablo 3 being pushed any further back because of this.
Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard, said:
“In order to keep making epic game content while serving players effectively, we have to be smart about how we manage our resources. This means we sometimes have to make difficult decisions about how to best maintain the health of the company. We’re in the process of making some of those hard decisions now.
“After evaluating our current organizational needs, we determined that while some areas of our business had been operating at the right levels and could benefit from further growth, other areas had become overstaffed. As a result, we need to scale down some of our departments and part with some of our colleagues and friends here at Blizzard.”
Morhaime went on to assure us that game development will continue unhindered by the layoffs, and promised a Diablo 3 release date in the coming weeks:
“I also want to emphasize that we remain committed to shipping multiple games this year, and that our development teams in particular remain largely unaffected by today’s announcement. We’re continuing to develop, iterate, and polish Blizzard DOTA, Diablo III, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, as well as other, unannounced projects. We’ll have exciting news to share in the coming weeks regarding Diablo III’s release date, and will soon be holding a private media event to showcase the latest work on Mists of Pandaria. It goes without saying that we’re working hard to get all of these games in your hands as soon as possible.”
Earlier this week, the Internet nearly asploded when several images purporting to be from Doom 4 were leaked, accompanied by a rumor that id Software had decided to pull the kill switch on the long-awaited fourth installment. Doom 4′s cancellation was soon denied by sources close to the game, but as no official statement from IDS on either the game, or the images, was offered, speculation continued apace.
That speculation may now end. id Software’s Matt Hooper took to Twitter on Wednesday and clarified matters once and for all. “Those images have nothing to do with what you’re gonna see in Doom4,” he said. “When we officially show things you’ll see awesome.” Obviously, based on Rage, we’ll agree to reserve judgement until we actually play the game. Still, good news for people dying to revisit the defining FPS of the Clinton years.
We recently asked Mojang’s Jens Bergensten if they might consider a more regular schedule of Mincraft updates. Alas, though he admitted they could do a bit better, he also confirmed they don’t plan to establish a regular update schedule. Oh well. Maybe that’s why Minecraft 1.2, released yesterday, took us by surprise. Announced by Mojang on their official site, the latest update comes with lots of goodies. It adds a new jungle biome, plus some ocelots, cats and Iron Golems to run around in it. For you parents out there, you can live vicariously now that villagers will have kids (if the village is big enough), and tame wolves will now have puppies. (awww). That’s a very large amount of blocky cuteness.
But that’s not all. in addition to the somewhat aesthetic tweaks, 1.2 also includes some technical improvements, incuding new AI for mobs, a map height limit of 256 instead of 128, new items and blocks, better functioning double doors, rare drops for mobs, and more. And if that was enough, mere hours later, 1.2 was updated to 1.2.2 with the addition of birches and pine trees. Cool stuff, and it’s an automatic update the next time you log in. And if you still aren’t playing Minecraft, you can get it right here.
What would you do if you suddenly found yourself 3 million dollars richer? Would you buy a house? Live on a boat? Get a diamond grill and a tattoo that says “nerd life” across your torso? All good ideas, but what if, instead, you decided to be the most awesome person ever, and give the money to your employees?
That’s what Mojang’s Notch did. Thanks to the astonishing success of Minecraft, he pocketed around 3 million dollars in dividends from Mojang. At which point, he decided to reinvest it in the company, by which we mean, give his employees an incredible year end bonus:
In an industry ruled by alpha dog status seekers living in immense palatial estates, it’s kind of nice to see someone whose wealth didn’t turn them into a cliche. Congratulations, Mojang employees. You might be the only people in the business whose bosses aren’t bastards.
While I enjoyed the movie Inglourious Basterds for a number of reasons, my list-topper is probably the fact that we get to see a gunman shoot Hitler’s face off with a high-powered firearm. Any movie that kills Hitler is okay in my book.
Sniper Elite V2 is looking to do one more by giving players the chance to kill Hitler themselves. Fans who pre-order Sniper Elite V2 from any UK retailer prior to May 4, the UK launch date, will gain access to a single player mission to assassinate Hitler. Also included in the pre-order bonus are two new weapons – the Soviet semi-automatic battle rifle SVT-40 and the standard German service rifle Kar 98.
Sniper Elite V2 is a third person tactical shooter set in the dying days of World War Two, set to release on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Learn more at the game‘s official website.
Big news people. The Verge is reporting a rumor that, if true, could send a nuclear bomb through the gaming console industry and completely upend the idea of PC gaming. Supposedly – and please do take this with a huge grain of salt until it’s confirmed – Valve is working on a Steam gaming console.
Valve hasn’t confirmed anything, but as The Verge notes, Gabe Newell recently hinted at such a device, saying “Well, if we have to sell hardware we will.” However, Valve apparently isn’t planning to enter the hardware game themselves. Instead, so sources claim, they’re drawing up hardware and software specs for a device that would be built by third parties; specs apparently include Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. The device might take advantage of other projects Valve has been working on, incorporating biometric feedback for example; other information associated with this rumor suggests their goal might not be to take out Xbox and Playstation, but to go after Apple TV, a worthy goal if ever we heard one.
With GDC coming up next week, there’s strong speculation that Valve might be planning their announcement to coincide; our own Ben Richardson will be on the scene to report any news as soon as it breaks.
In a trend-bucking release, Capcom has announced that Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City will show up on PCs slightly earlier than the game‘s console release.
The developer announced that the non-cannon four-player cooperative title set during the events of Resident Evil 2 is hitting PCs on May 18, with the console versions launching two days later on May 20. It also revealed what kind of features PC players can expect to see in their version of the game: namely, Nvidia 3D Vision support. Plus there’s the standard fare features the game will have for everyone, which include eight-player multiplayer support and four-player online campaign play.
If you’re not familiar with RE: Operation Raccoon City, is an upcoming addition to the Resident Evil series that puts a handful of Umbrella commandos into Raccoon City during the massive zombie outbreak that takes place in Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. Each different character has different special abilities, and players are tasked with gunning down zombies and carrying out the Umbrella Corporation’s evil wishes. We played a bit at E3 2011 and had a good time of it.
Gaming peripheral manufacturer ROCCAT Studios has unveiled a new entry in its lineup of high-end gaming mice: the Savu Mid-Size Hybrid Gaming Mouse. ROCCAT, the company that teased us with the “Isn’t PC gaming dead?” website last week, says the Savu “severely outperforms every gaming mouse in its class.”
* True 4000 DPI optical sensor
* Easy-Shift[+] technology allowing for advanced button configuration, transforming a 7-button mouse into a 12-button one
* Lighting system delivering 16.8 million colors
* Debut of the ROCCAT Achievements Display – or R.A.D. – an application that tracks and rewards a wide range of gaming feats, such as mouse movement, button clicks, scroll steps, etc.
16.8 million colors. That’s just under 16.8 million more colors than my current mouse. And that braided cable is perfect for pet owners — I know one day, I’m going to wake up to find my current mouse’s wire chewed through by my cat.
The Savu’s achievement system is a world first, and while it seems to be a gimmick, no one can deny the power that Achievements hold over gamers — just take a look at a random Steam user’s profile.
The Savu will be showcased for the first time at CeBIT 2012, and further information on this mouse will become available at roccat.org after March 6th.
The story of Commander Shepard is drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean the universe created in the Mass Effect titles is disappearing along with him/her. In fact, there’s a vital world filled with alien races, awesome events, deep history and lots of potential for other games in the Mass Effect franchise, which is why Ross Lincoln and I put our heads together to come up with titles we doubt have much hope of getting made, but which would sate our thirst for all things Mass Effect. So here they are: our six Dream Mass Effect Spin-offs.
While there are pundits out there who wish to convince you that single-player, story-driven games are dead and that multiplayer must rule everything, there are plenty of success stories to prove otherwise. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim may be the biggest example of recent years, and one studio at least has taken notice. Remedy, the studio behind Alan Wake, has revealed that Skyrim inspires it to persist with narrative-led titles, its success providing some much-needed encouragement.
“The Call of Dutys and the Battlefields are doing extremely well in the US,” franchise development head Oskari Hakkinen told Eurogamer. ”Those are the type of games that are in popular demand, so it’s really positive to see Skyrim and other RPG games that have a lot of story in be successful as well. It gives us motivation to do story-driven games, because there’s obviously an audience out there of people who enjoy story as well.
“Seeing something like that being successful, we don’t need to consciously try to make our stories any less than they are, not try to make them any simpler. Our stories are not necessarily complicated, but our games are very story heavy. And, just to see games like Skyrim succeed, it’s like, let’s not try to make it any less story-heavy.”
We’ve recently seen story-driven successes like BioShock and Metro 2033 cram multiplayer into proceedings, just to fill some imaginary obligation, and it’s foolish. Skyrim works perfectly well as a solo affair with a focus on its story, and I dare say a fair few games would benefit more from simply being allowed to do what they do best. I’m glad that at least one studio has taken notice.
Piracy. It is, if the world’s copyright owners are to be believed, a threat to life and limb approximately on par with ebola and space herpes. We beg to differ of course, and, as it turns out, so does Starbreeze Studios. Turning the old adage “if you can’t beat em, join em” on its head, they’ve decided the best way to defeat a pirate is to lure them over to the other team. And that’s just what they’ve tried to do, with a clever tongue in cheek pitch inserted into the source code for their most recent game, Syndicate.
A clever Redditer called MikkleManDK discovered the easter egg, if it can be called that, while digging through Syndicate’s source code. It’s a file called Syndicate-SBZ.nfo, and it’s designed to look like the calling card of a cracker inserted into the game. A closer look at the file gives you the most hilarious headhunting scheme since Keith David started shilling for the US Navy. “Are you bored with watching from the sidelines?”, the page asks? “Ready to make the switch? Do you have considerable talents in any of the following areas? Art, modeling, texturing, sound design. Programming. Game design? If you meet one or more of those criteria, and want to be a part of the fun, email us at email@example.com today!”
Don’t expect the main character of the upcoming Playstation 3 title The Last of Us to have a Commander Shepard-like archetypal hero.
That’s according to actor Troy Baker, who voices protag Joel in The Last of Us and is known for lending his pipes to Booker of BioShock: Infinite and Snow of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Baker told OXM-UK that The Last of Us’ hero is drastically different from the heroes in other Naughty Dogs, such as Nathan Drake.
“He’s not a hero, he’s not a badass,” Baker said. “He’s a guy that learned how to use a gun because he had to, and he’s fighting every day because that’s what you do. Does that mean that [he] steals this, that [he] does this? Maybe. But it’s not that he has a plan, or that he’s a strong archetypal character.
“I really think it’s gonna turn the model of the hero on its ass.”
For months, my skepticism for Mass Effect 3 has been growing like a tumor on the side of my, er, Mass Effect organs. The recent Demo only made it worse; the single player campaign shows signs of being significantly dumbed-down to attract new players, and the less said about the multiplayer, the better.
Then I saw the official launch trailer. Suddenly, I feel the hate leaving me. In its place, a sudden, frustrating, urgent need to play Mass Effect 3 as soon as possible. Good job, BioWare. You are officially excellent at advertising for your game.
If you thought the commercialization of Angry Birds had gotten ridiculous, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The world’s most popular game about birds launching themselves at pigs has been turned into a theme park which will open in Finland this Summer. I think we can safely say at this point that Rovio will happily attach its intellectual property to anything.
It’s not going to be its own self-contained attraction, but will instead be tacked onto Finland’s Särkänniemi Adventure Park as a magical place of wonder called Angry Birds Land. So far, we can only speculate as to the kind of nonsense that’ll go on inside, but sneak peek photographs are scheduled to appear between now and the grand opening. Meanwhile, those of you with a penchant for melodrama can make plans to kill yourselves in time for the unveiling.
“Our goal is to motivate the fans, both adults and children, to exercise and enjoy the outdoors,” said Rovio merchandising EVP Harri Koponen. Incidentally, Koponen has the easiest job in the world, apparently having to just say “yes” to every idea that gets passed under his nose.
With mere days to go before the release of Mass Effect 3, tidbits are falling out right and left, almost as if BioWare wants this information leaked in order to stoke fervor for the game. But nah, that would be a cynical suggestion. Anyway, the latest to find its way into the collective gasp-o-verse is snapshot from someone’s computer monitor that shows off the alternate outfits your squad will get when you install the From Ashes DLC.
Pictured here: Tali, who looks just smashing in a black ensemble that screams “I want to retake my homeworld!”; Ashley Williams, doing her best Ripley impression; Garrus, whose gold outfit is appropriate for fighting the Reapers, and for celebrating afterward The Sands; James Vega, sporting a blue suit of armor that barely conceals his ‘roid rash; Kaiden, now with armor that forces him to lean crotch-first into the camera; and Liara, who does nothing to dispel the negative stereotype that Asari always look hot.
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: Rockstar Tradmarks “GTA TV” and “Rockstar TV”
Gamefront News: Rockstar Tradmarks “GTA TV” and “Rockstar TV”
Hinting at what lies in store for Grand Theft Auto V, it has been discovered that Rockstar Games has trademarked the names “GTA TV” and “Rockstar TV”. The filings, both publicly viewable on the US Patent and Trademark office website, were made on February 14 and are largely identical. They each list a wide variety of services ranging from games, feature films and live action TV, even animated projects and documentaries.
Naturally, this doesn’t actually reveal anything. In order to ensure they aren’t poached, they need to be certain the trademark covers as wide a range of entertainment possibilities as possible. Furthermore, Rockstar has repeatedly kiboshed suggestions of films based on the GTA series. It’s therefore likely we won’t actually be seeing after school cartoons, TV shows or movies anytime soon.
But what does it mean? These filings represent the first tangible information since the initial announcement, and they say little. Rockstar has been enormously coy about GTA V. Since announcing the game last fall, they have provided no new details, no follow up trailers, not even confirmation of whether or not the narrator in the trailer is the game‘s protagonist. (I still insist he isn’t.) We still don’t even know if it will see release in 2012.
That doesn’t mean we can’t speculate, of course. My guess is that Rockstar TV and GTA TV are indication that GTA V will have a far more robust multiplayer than anything previously seen in the series. Expect something like Call of Duty: Elite, with player video uploads, possibly custom content produced by very prestigious people, and an increased community environment.
Lord of the Rings Online: Update 6: Shores of the Great River
Turbine have announced their new update, Update 6: Shores of the Great River, this will get you even closer to Isengard following the river Anduin, explore new areas and do new quests as well as more updates to game including being able to bring your skirmish soldier into the PvE world to help you with quests!
Check out the updates below:
quote]Travel along the shores of the mighty Anduin in the expansive new region coming in Update 6! The signs of war are all around you as Isengard and Barad-dûr put their dark plans into motion. Push back the Easterlings, dangerous brigands and an ancient enemy of Rohan, as they gather for an attack on Rohan and Lórien. Explore seven new areas along the upper Anduin including the green plains of Parth Celebrant where treacherous shades roam, unable to rest.
The latest chapter in LOTRO’s free Epic Story awaits! Travel to Lothlórien to seek Galadriel’s wisdom after experiencing troubling dreams. Investigate the grim tidings along the Great River but be prepared as the evidence may point to a foe more terrible than your darkest nightmares.
Get the helping hand you need with LOTRO’s new Soldier on Landscape! This new feature allows you to summon your faithful skirmish companion in the field. Customize your skirmish solider to help you tackle even the toughest challenges!
You spoke, we listened, and now we’re making Instance Finder better than ever! Instance Finder will soon allow you to queue for the specific instances and skirmishes that you want to do. You can also choose to change loot rules and remove players with a fellowship vote. The rewards are being enhanced, too, granting additional XP for skirmish completion and scaling currency bonuses for when you queue for a larger range of instances.
See the official link here
Read: Update 6: Shores of the Great River
More Lord of the Rings Online News: FileFront's Lord of the Rings Online Files