Archive for June, 2013

State of Decay now slightly fresher

, | Games


If you’re like me and you’ve been waiting for the patches for State of Decay to finally come through Microsoft’s certification process, you’re now cleared for some zombie apocalypse this weekend. The latest update adds a whole mess of fixes and revisions, including the ones from the first patch fumbled in a previous update that also went through Microsoft’s certification process.

Of course, if you haven’t been playing while you waited, you might have trouble in store. The simulation in State of Decay runs in real time, whether you’re playing or not. Your characters will go on missions, eat your food, expend your ammo, and sometimes come to dire straits. When I started the game today after applying the update, nearly half of my survivors had gone missing. So far, I’ve found one of them. Marcus, my most powerful character, is still AWOL and I don’t see a mission yet to recover him.

I adore this game, but I am absolutely mystified about a design decision that punishes players for not playing. That should be the exclusive domain of subscription-based MMOs.

World of Tanks: it’s not the length of the barrel

, | Game diaries


In the summer of 2007 I played my last game of online StarCraft. The people I was subletting from had a copy on their bookshelf, and one night I gave in to nostalgia. After tinkering around in a few skirmishes, I decided to dip my toes into unranked non-ladder online play. How bad could it be?

It turned out it could be pretty bad, because I was pretty bad. In the nine years since Starcraft had launched the general level of play had advanced while my skills had atrophied. I died to my opponent’s first push. I then joined a random 4v4 game on Big Game Hunters, a game mode and map specifically designed for people who don’t want to deal with all the fuddy-duddy details of being good at Starcraft. Within 90 seconds, two of my allies cursed me out and quit. The third helpfully stuck around for another 30 seconds to yell at me for having a non-optimized build.

After the jump, sink or swim Continue reading →

Expect more games with Delta Force

, | Games


Victory for grizzled guys in beards on rocket assault motorcycles! Patent Arcade posted that the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has ruled that Activision Blizzard’s use of the term “Delta Force” in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 does not infringe on the trademark that NovaLogic claims to hold from their series of games starting with 1998’s Delta Force. Judge Walter ruled that Activision’s use of the name was protected as free speech and would not harm NovaLogic’s brand.

“Because the phrase ‘Delta Force’ and its insignia have an established and well-known prior meaning and connotation…that is unrelated to plaintiff and that meaning and connotation predate plaintiff’s use of the registered trademarks, it is highly unlikely that consumers will be misled.”

NovaLogic had also argued that Activision waived their free speech rights because Vivendi Games had paid royalties to NovaLogic for the Delta Force name in 2005, before they were acquired by Activision. The court did not accept this argument because Activision was not directly involved in the agreement.

People with level 110 Squirtles better watch out

, | Games


The Pokemon Company has issued a statement concerning hacked pokemon. (Polygon has the translated summary.) The site warns players that using hacks to acquire “illegal” pokemon may damage saved files, and runs counter to the spirit of the game. Neither the Pokemon Company nor Nintendo will restore saved games or fix corrupted data. They also advise cheaters that if they are caught they will be banned from participating in any official tournaments.

You’ll never beat Team Rocket with those black market pocket monsters!

Xbox devs can get $1500 worth of free software

, | Games


Unity Technologies and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership yesterday at the annual Build Conference in San Francisco. Unity Pro software will be free for developers when their game is published through Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One.

In addition, Unity will develop tools for the Xbox One entertainment system, including support for many next-generation features such as enhanced Kinect gestures and recognition, multiplayer matchmaking, SmartGlass and the unlimited power of the cloud.

Man, that cloud! It’s got unlimited power!

Current licensees of Unity Pro will receive a free upgrade for the Windows Store Add-on when it becomes available later this year.

Unity software has been used to develop thousands of games for the PS3, PC, Xbox 360, and mobile platforms.

Steam Workshop adds a lesson from Barney

, | Games


Sharing is caring, right? We’ll see how much Steam Workshop contributors learned from their preschool purple dinosaur friend thanks to Valve’s latest update. Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2 content creators can now use nifty sliders to give a portion of the item revenue to various communities and individuals.

When submitting an item to the Team Fortress 2 or Dota 2 Workshop, item creators can select from a list of companies, organizations, or individuals to receive a portion of revenue from that item’s sales.

The contribution will be made from a set percentage that is redirected from Valve to the toolmakers, not taken from the item creator’s royalty.

If you purchased anything from the Humble Bundle store, then you’ve got a good idea of how the new Workshop sliders work. It’s almost like a minigame on its own! Should these guys get this much or less? Should I scooch the slider to the right a wee bit more?

Suggestions for additions to the compensation lists can be given to Valve for consideration via the official discussion boards.

Guild Wars 2: the ties that bind and DOT

, | Game diaries


In the latest update for Guild Wars 2, developer ArenaNet saw fit to make necromancers more awesome. I’m not complaining. I might complain if I was playing a boring old warrior or ranger and I saw in the patch notes that boring old warriors and rangers were just as boring while already awesome necromancers got even more awesome. But the last people to decry the rich getting richer are the rich.

After the jump, tainted shackle love Continue reading →

World of Tanks: missing the mark

, | Game diaries


One of the biggest changes in World of Tank’s recent 8.6 update is the distribution of shells within the aiming reticle. While this may seem fairly esoteric, having your bullets go where you aim them is critical in a game based on shooting guns. Tradeoffs must be made between accuracy, damage, and rate of fire. For example, in the picture up there, a clever player landed his shots above the Super Pershing’s thickly armored gun mantlet and onto the thinner armor at the top of the turret. In World of Tanks, a gun’s accuracy limits the size of the fully zoomed-in reticle, and its aim time dictates how quickly the reticle shrinks down around your target. Roughly 5% of your shells will hit the edge of the reticle.

Or, at least, that’s what we’ve been told.

After the jump: lost in translation Continue reading →

EA plans to expand Origin service

, | Games


Electronic Arts’ Origin service launched in 2011 and while many gamers bemoaned the entry of another PC software client to purchase and launch games, the service has proven successful with over 10 million registered users. EA’s EVP Andrew Wilson spoke to GamesIndustry International and explained that he sees the future of Origin as more than just a PC-exclusive storefront.

Making EA games better is the core that Origin needs to embrace and expand on, Wilson believes. “What you’re going to see from us is to have a real focus on that, and a focus on getting that right and getting that better, and getting it done for PC. Then figuring out in the context of other platforms, what does that mean?” Wilson asked. “You don’t want a service that competes with other platforms like Microsoft or Sony or iOS. You don’t want a competitive service to them, what you want is a complementary service that enhances your game experience irrespective of where you made the transaction. That’s the shift you’re going to see from us.”

Speaking to the TheAListDaily, Wilson expanded on his vision for Origin.

“With all honesty, our focus right now is on the underlying service provision. The nature of the transaction, the nature of the business model that drives that transaction, will likely change a hundred times in the next three years. But the desire of gamers to get access to their games easily, simply, seamlessly, consistently, will not change. The desire for gamers to connect with their friends and know where there friends are playing at any given time will not change. The desire for gamers to have their experience enhanced by virtue of services that automatically update their games, that allow them chat, VOIP, Skype, whatever it might be that’s part of that, that won’t change. All of the other ancillary stuff about transaction and business models likely will. Our focus has to be on building a service that doesn’t change based on what those ancillary things that change around them.”

Wilson acknowledged that price is a factor for gamers, but reiterated that he intends on building value through the service.

Atlus’ parent company files for bankruptcy protection

, | Games


Index Corporation, the parent company of Atlus, has filed for “civil rehabilitation” for bankruptcy protection. Polygon has the english summary of the original filing. They owe roughly $224 million to creditors.

Index Corporation states that its previous attempt to acquire businesses targeted at both domestic and international interests did not work as planned, while overseas acquisitions was particularly unsuccessful in creating the necessary increase in revenue to justify the purchase.

Atlus, most recently known for publishing Catherine, Dragon’s Crown, and the Game of Thrones RPG, has been in business since 1986. Index specified in their filing that Atlus is their most desirable holding and is optimistic that they will be able to restructure and continue.

Microsoft drops the extra fee to patch 360 games

, | Games


One of the big barriers for indie games on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console is the fee they assess for every patch after the first one. We wrote about how it holds back developers and could be an issue for the upcoming Xbox One. According to Eurogamer, multiple sources have told them that Microsoft has changed that policy and no longer charges a fee to upload patches on the current console.

There are caveats, we understand. If a developer is deemed to be making an excessive number of re-submissions due to an update failing certification, for example, Microsoft reserves the right to issue a charge. But the changes should make critics of Microsoft’s closed platform happier – and align the Xbox ecosystem more closely with the likes of Steam.

The original policy was meant to be an incentive to developers to finalize their games before submission for Xbox certification. Hopefully, the policy update will carry forward to the Xbox One.

Qt3 Games Podcast: doing the Throne of Thunder

, | Games podcasts


This week, we have a very special guest. Tom Chick from the Future joins us to elaborate on drama that was defused immediately after the podcast was recorded. We also talk about what you’re going to do if you need to take pictures with your Playstation 4 and which games people in Australia can’t play. One of the guys on the podcast says mean things about Marvel Heroes, another one says nice things about Guild Wars 2, and another doesn’t have much to say yet about The Last of Us. Also, listen to learn how to talk like a World of Warcraft pro.


World of Tanks: the China syndrome

, | Game diaries

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Yesterday’s 8.6 patch contained good news for anyone who has been thinking about trying World of Tanks for the first time. While the game’s starting field of World War I era tankettes have not changed, the crews inside those tanks now start with a 100% training level instead of the previous 50% training level. On Monday, the gap between a new player in a stock tankette and a veteran in a kitted out tankette was immense. Today, that gap is merely large. Progress!

If the idea of having to care about a crew’s training level sounds dangerously abstract, World of Tanks isn’t for you. But if caring about levels sounds dangerously abstract, you’re probably not cut out for modern online gaming. The insertion of experience point systems into action games has reached a point where I expect Id’s upcoming Doom sequel will require hours of leveling guns and perks.

After the jump: gaming versus garaging Continue reading →

Todd Hollenshead leaves id Software

, | Games


IGN has confirmed that id Software President Todd Hollenshead has left the company.

“After many years with the studio, Todd Hollenshead decided to leave id Software to pursue other personal interests,” Bethesda’s Pete Hines told us. “While Todd was not part of the development teams, he was an integral part of id Software’s success as the business head of the studio and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

Hollenshead had been with id since 1996 when he came on as CEO. His title was changed to President after the 2009 buyout by ZeniMax.

ArenaNet trying for biweekly content updates to Guild Wars 2

, | Games


Speaking to GamerZines, lead content designer Mike Zadorojny revealed that ArenaNet’s goal is to add free content updates to Guild Wars 2 every two weeks.

“Our goal is that as we do this, we’re getting better and better at it. We’re starting to catch the bigger mistakes that we would’ve missed earlier on. We’re starting to build the infrastructure, the framework and the tools to help us do this because we really think that this is the longevity of the product.”

“If we can push this, if we can add content every two weeks that is engaging to the players, then really it’s almost like a TV show at that point. It’s kind of stay tuned until next week for the thrilling conclusion of… That’s where our goal is, and it’s really fascinating when you have an entire studio dedicated to pulling off.”

ArenaNet also said that the in-game Gem Store results in a “constant” revenue stream for the game.