News articles search results by Leo Chan
A friend in need gets a serious show of support
The fallout of the 38 Studios closure will also affect its Baltimore-based subsidiary, Big Huge Games, which has struggled to weather as much of the storm as possible to keep a sinking ship afloat. Now a fellow Baltimore studio, Epic Games, has offered a helping hand to former BHG staff with contract positions. The best part, however, is that Epic has put into motion a plan for a new studio that will be used to realize new projects with the help of BHG talent.
How did all go down? Instead of crying over the bitter reality, the former leads at BHG went to work coming up with plans to turn things around, including getting in touch with Epic Games with a proposal. As it turns out, Epic was mulling over how it could possible get new projects off the ground that very same morning. Epic's president Mike Capps explains:
"On Wednesday, the ex-BHG leadership team contacted us. They wanted to start a new company and keep together some of the key talent displaced by the layoff, and hoped that they could use an Epic IP as a starting point for a new game. We loved that they all wanted to keep working together, but it was pretty clear they’d have trouble building a demo and securing funding before their personal savings ran out.
"In one of life’s coincidences, Epic’s directors had spent the morning discussing how we’d love to build even more successful projects with our growing team, but that we’d need a dramatic infusion of top talent to do so. Which, we all knew, was impossible.
"So now we’re planning to start an impossible studio in Baltimore."
The plan is still in its infancy, and there is still much Epic will need to work out to even get the contract work going in the meantime. But it's great to see Epic go out of its way to lend a helping hand to a fellow studio. According to Capps, Epic isn't the only one: Zynga East, Zenimax Online and other local studios have expressed interest in offering positions to displaced BHG talent.
But energy efficiency has improved as console hardware saw revisions
Thinking about going green through energy consumption? If you're big on console gaming throughout the year, you may not be doing much of that with those intense gaming sessions of yours in front of the HDTV depending on how long you play.
The folks at E Source have compiled a handy chart of the average energy consumption for many major console platforms throughout the years, including their earliest and most recent hardware revisions.
All major platforms enjoyed increased energy efficiency through their newer models, and some improvements proved quite dramatic. Unfortunately, even in 2010, the average annual energy consumption for console hardware was still relatively higher than some unlikely household appliances. E Source cites an EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) report:
"…the EPRI study estimates average energy consumption for a typical 'heavy' console user (a heavy user is assumed to spend a little under six hours per day using the game console, and is estimated to represent about 75 percent of users). The researchers calculated the average annual consumption for the 2010 models of three major consoles: 29 kilowatt-hours (kWh) for a Nintendo Wii, 178 kWh for a Sony PlayStation 3, and 184 kWh for a Microsoft Xbox 360. To put this into perspective, a typical clothes washer uses a little over 100 kWh annually…according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy."
To be fair, we'd be more impressed if the energy draw for 2010 console hardware topped that of, say, clothes dryers (which are a heckuva lot more power hungry!).
New DLC packs announced just ahead of HD remake for Super Street Fighter II Turbo
Don't worry, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (phew) is cleared for release on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade this November 25th and 26th, respectively. As part of the upcoming launch, Capcom opens a new online storefront for all their digital downloads, making them the first third party publisher to open a branded store over PSN and the New Xbox Experience (NXE). To leverage their branded digital destinations, Capcom calls forth the "Season of Street Fighter", a bundle of joy comprising of several Street Fighter-themed digital download packs available over both PSN and XBL. The first pack was already released last week in the form of Super Street Fighter Pinball FX, but there's more direct download titles on the way.
For example, perhaps you might be in the mood for some family friendly thrashing with... Street Fighter UNO Now our dream of unleashing Tiger Up-your-butts in UNO is fulfilled, and the game will feature appropriately themed backgrounds and music to help set that mood. Capcom also hints at another surprise title in the pipeline for the PSN "later in the holiday season".
Not all Season of Street Fighter download packs will be digitally distributed games. Capcom will also release the "Street Fighter Underground Remix", a direct-to-download music album featuring hip-hop tribute tracks "inspired by the Street Fighter series" from such artists as DJ Qbert, Hieroglyphics, Redman, Oh No, DJ Toure, Mistah FAB and Zion I. These tracks are exclusive to the PSN and will be free to download once the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix game launches.
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Will long-time supporters warm up to a new world, based heavily on the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance background?
"FINAL FANTASY XII is the most accessible RPG yet, allowing casual and hardcore gamers to truly customize the complexity of the game to their playing style," said Daishiro Okada, President and COO, Square Enix, Inc. "We're also very pleased to be able to provide several exclusives for the North American release including true 16:9 functionality, additional voiced CG sequences and a truly special Collector's Edition. The Collector's Edition comes with completely unique packaging, in-depth interviews with the development staff, special trailers, a history of the FINAL FANTASY series and several other features. We are extremely proud of both versions of FINAL FANTASY XII and hope gamers will enjoy our efforts."Early reviews of the final retail build highlight a remarkably different experience FF fans can expect, right down to the all-new battle system.
Acclaimed director sets sights on "filmic" game experiences
"It's a form of entertainment that's not a game and it's not a film. It's a filmic game experience," Jackson told an enthusiastic crowd. "I think we're on a threshold of a new way to tell stories. With that in mind we discussed a way to do it, and with that in mind we decided that the first title should be something that will allow us to not have to devise a whole new world but to allow us to tell the story.
"Given the fact we are making a little movie called Halo at the moment, and we're in partnership with the nice guys at Bungie, we decided the Halo universe is the best place for us to start," said Jackson. "It's not Halo 3 or four. It's not the film. But it is based on that amazing world."
One-year exclusivity deal works to Microsoft's advantage, but European PS3 sales are not expected to suffer by early lack of popular soccer gaming franchises alone
"The market for PS3 is going to be relatively immature for its first year, so EA will be able to release FIFA in 2008 into a more mature market with higher penetration... FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer are still going to be on PS2 this Christmas and that's where the money is going to be for publishers in December, not on PS3," added [Pinnacle Software' MD Peter Sleeman].
"It's a hell of a coup for Microsoft, extremely well done, and by the time PS3 does get a FIFA title it'll be FIFA '08. But it won't change our predictions for the PlayStation 3 one iota," offered [Chips' MD Don McCabe].
Obtains key next-gen soccer gaming franchises in key soccer territories
Please note this announcement will not affect the release of editions for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS and PC platforms. Whether or not it proves to be a setback for Sony's PlayStation 3 (the only victim) in Europe on the other hand depends on how readily available the console ends up becoming after its November launch.
Looks like we'll be joining Link in an arm workout after all
Additionally, Miyamoto hints at even more goodness in store of Zelda fans still patiently awaiting the release of the game for both GameCube and Wii versions. Hopefully Nintendo will not end up bloating the game with disappointing features in their attempt to pack even more surprises into the final product.
Since Link himself wields his sword in his left hand, we propose automatic victory in battle and wine, women and song for left-handed Wii players. :)
No penalties or fines to be imposed upon publisher
Paul Eibeler, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We are extremely pleased that the FTC has concluded its very thorough investigation, and that the matter has been resolved. We recognize the importance of maintaining public confidence in the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system and helping the ESRB educate parents and consumers about the rating system. We look forward to putting this behind us and focusing on what we do best - creating video games."Now it remains to be seen what lies ahead for the publisher in a separate investigation in New York.
Episode 2 to include Team Fortress 2 and new shooter dubbed Portal
On top of that, Episode 2 will come bundled with a new, episodic shooter game called "Portal" which involves the use of, well, portals which players can create in environments as they see fit using special weapons.
In the mean streets of New York, Hot Coffee still brews...
Wedbush Morgan stock analyst Michael Pachter predicts in a report that the jury investigation could last several months and while it is difficult at this point to determine just what the grand jury hopes to find, it is possible a few Take-Two employees will face potential criminal indictment and conviction over their involvement with Hot Coffee. Take-Two employees and directors both current and former will likely be asked to testify in court in the future.
"The subpoenas leave us baffled," continues [Pachter's report], "and raise the specter of quite serious consequences. The potential outcomes range from indictments and convictions of key employees to no indictments issued at all. Should one or more key strategic, operating or creative employee be charged with criminal activity, we believe that at a minimum, the employee charged would be distracted from performing his or her duties for the company, and at a maximum, the employee charged would be convicted and would likely leave the company."The Hot Coffee content has since been removed after its discovery and the subsequent uproar over gaming it caused, but only after the game was pulled from distribution for all gaming platforms to be re-branded with a new "Adults Only" ESRB rating.
Take-Two and Rockstar's legal woes don't end there, unfortunately. Actor Roger Hill has sued the companies over use of his likeness in the recent video game adaptation of the 1979 motion picture, The Warriors. Hill explains he had previously declined to work with the companies during development of the game, but Take-Two maintains it had secured "valid third-party license for the rights to use Roger Hill's likeness and the character of Cyrus in The Warriors video game and related marketing materials."
Wii port planned as launch title for Nintendo's new console
What's more, both versions of the game are scheduled to debut alongside the Wii console itself, so that places the game somewhere in the fourth quarter of this year.
Not that the future of the GTA franchise in the hands of Take-Two was really in doubt
The agreement, outlined in a 10-Q filing yesterday, is for a three-year term, and provides for the payment of $25 million in restricted stock, plus unspecified internal royalties.
The 10-Q explores the value of Rockstar's creative heads, and the risk to the company of any failure to offer a decent package to GTA's bosses. It states, "We rely on our management and other key personnel for the successful operation of our business. In particular, we are highly dependent on the expertise, skills and knowledge of certain of our Rockstar employees responsible for content creation and development of Grand Theft Auto and other titles."
In spite of all the Hot Coffee headaches the GTA franchise caused for Take-Two and Rockstar, the publisher certainly has no plans to reliquish their hold on the series anytime soon.
Red tulip plague not the result of a hacker/virus attack, but an uploading error on Nintendo's part
Partial blame was initially placed by players on a possible hacker or virus attack, taking advantage of new security risks involving friend codes. Nintendo however has denied any sort of security breach this time around, instead accepting responsibility for creating the problem through a botched upload process on their part:
"Nintendo would like to thank its numerous Animal Crossing: Wild World fans for helping identify and correct an unforeseen issue with the game. Some users of the community-simulation game for Nintendo DS noticed that receiving a letter containing a 'Red Tulip' could cause interference with gameplay," Nintendo said in an official statement issued to the press.
"We have isolated the problem and determined that there was a temporary error with the upload tool when this letter was posted. Thankfully we have been able to limit the number of people affected by removing the related file from circulation. Players who have received the letter should delete it before placing the Red Tulip anywhere in their characters' homes."
In other words, the tulips themselves do not cause problems until used in-game. This news is cold comfort to those already affected by the tulip tomfoolery, but in Nintendo's defense, the company is also working to find a fix for them. Concerned players should check with Nintendo's WiFi FAQ for further updates.
Trilogy bundle for Xbox, and special edition DVDs for PS2
Xbox GTA fans can expect to see "Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy", a compilation package that includes the GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas games. PS2 gamers meanwhile can choose to pick up the GTA: San Andreas Special Edition, which bundles San Andreas as well as "The Introduction" game movie CG and "Sunday Rider" documentary DVDs.
These special edition GTA releases should hit retail this October 18th. Naturally, both will bundle the M-Rated version of San Andreas that removes the hidden, incriminating Hot Coffee evidence from its game code. You will recall that current versions of San Andreas have been re-rated to "Adults Only", seeing as how they feature the Hot Coffee content.
Hot Coffee forces developer and publisher to apply an "Adults Only" rating for the newest game in the GTA series
Rockstar has promised to release a "new" version of the game that will conform to the ESRB guidelines for an "M" rating, and ship "AO" rating stickers to retailers that still plan on selling the game as it is. That said, the publisher still stands to lose a bit of revenue, as many retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City are expected to pull the game from shelves until that new "M" version launches.
Many retailers sell "M" rated games, which "may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older," according to the rating board, but won't sell "AO"-labeled games at all.
Take-Two also said Wednesday that it expects to suffer financially. It lowered its expectations for its current quarter and fiscal year to set aside funds for returns of the games, and figured that net sales could decrease by more than $50 million during the quarter ending July 31.
Future Half-Life and Counter-Strike console and PC titles will see retail release under EA's watch
Since then, Valve has been in charge of both distributing their own titles in the manner they see fit. That situation looks to change now that they have entered a new multi-year distribution agreement with a new publisher, who just happens to be industry mover-and-shaker Electronic Arts. Starting this Fall, EA will help publish Valve's latest games at retail level. The Xbox port of Half-Life 2 has been confirmed for release under EA's banner, as well as the Half-Life 2: Aftermath expansion pack and Counter-Strike: Source for PC.
'At EA Partners, our mandate is to seek out the world's top studios and game franchises, build partnerships, empower the development teams and help get these great games to more people in more countries than ever before. We consider Half-Life and Counter-Strike to be two of the best game franchises of all time,' said Tom Frisina, Vice President and General Manager, EA Partners. 'We could not be more excited to have the opportunity to help deliver these outstanding games to players around the globe.'
'EA is the worldwide leader in bringing best of breed games, for all platforms, to market,' said Gabe Newell, Valve's founder and president. 'Valve games have sold over 18 million units at retail since Half-Life shipped in November 1998. By combining EA's unparalleled operation structure and distribution channel with Valve's award-winning development teams and games community, we've established an awesome combination for delivering great products to console and PC gamers around the world.'
Valve of course is free to maintain their Steam operations and while the press release doesn't make any mention of this, we imagine they also retain the right to authorize which gaming cafes/centers receive permission to run their titles online for visitors who drop in and play.
Senator dissatisfied with ESRB ratings, calling for new laws to make selling M- and AO-rating games a federal crime
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of the District of New York today has called upon the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) itself to investigate the allegations as to where this questionable content is really coming from. Clinton has also expressed her dissatisfaction with the current Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating system, urging the FTC to examine the rating policies of the ESRB and retailers. Further drawing upon the momentum spurred by this one case, she is committed to proposing a bill to the Senate that would make it a federal offense in the U.S. to sell mature/adult-rated games to customers outside of their the target age group.
'No wonder these games are falling into the hands of our children and no wonder so many parents feel everyday like they are fighting this battle with their hands tied behind their backs,' Clinton said. 'We need to do better. We need to do everything we can to make sure that parents have a line of defense against violent and graphic video games and other content that go against the values they are trying to instill in their children.'
Was there something naughty hidden in the game that Rockstar didn't tell the ESRB about?
This investigation was prompted when a recent unofficial mod, made available for download for the PC version of the game, claims to utilize "unused code" for certain (after-)dating events inside the main game to create some saucy mini-games for the player to at last see and ultimately control to a certain extent. The ESRB's goal is to find out just how much, if any, of this content was indeed hidden in the game by the developers:
ESRB president Patricia Vance said her organization has "opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 'Hot Coffee' modification." "Hot Coffee" refers to the mod which, when installed on a PC with San Andreas on it, unlocks several minigames which prompts players to have the game's hero in X-rated acts.
The ESRB's investigation will examine whether or not the mod unlocks pre-existing code, as appears to be the case, or is actually a purely third-party creation. Its ultimate purpose will be to determine if Take-Two violated ESRB regulations requiring "full disclosure of pertinent content."
To tell you the truth, I would be somewhat impressed if Rockstar really did go to all the trouble of cooking something up for the "coffee" sequences, only to shove it to the nether regions of the game and away from prying eyes in the end. :P I wouldn't be surprised if it was just the work of the mod itself though, but we'll have to wait and see where this goes. It could just be a bit of senstionalist reporting, in the very end.
"The focus for Aftermath appears to break with the Half-Life tradition of presenting the storyline from the viewpoint of other key characters in the game, with the mooted Alyx-based episode apparently not happening as many of us imagined it might. Instead, it would appear that as a compromise, Alyx figures as a much more active partner of Gordon Freeman's adventures.As for where Aftermath is set, and the timeline, it's very much a logical continuation from where Half-Life 2 left off, as Laidlaw goes on to explain in the PC Gamer feature: '[Aftermath] deals with the events and issues set in motion during Half-Life 2. You've done critical damage to the Citadel. The whole place is going to go up, taking out City 17 and what's in its immediate radius. You and Alyx are leading the flight from the city getting up close and personal with some of the creatures and sights from the end of the game.' Interestingly, the assumption that you continue to play as Gordon isn't justified anywhere in the text; it's possible - and perhaps more likely given the game's ending - that you play as someone else instead."The article also hints at a Steam release for the expansion in spite of Valve's... checkered relationship with publisher Sierra/VU Games. In addition, more expansions may be on the way in the future, lending themselves to "episodic" releases for the new Half-Life story arc. Sadly, details of any gameplay enhancements and release information were nil so it appears Valve is still much too early in the expansion's development stages to have anything concrete. We should definitely be hearing more of Aftermath in the near future though!