As we all know, the desire to wage war and blow your enemies to bloody confetti on a large scale is a perfectly natural human impulse. The only thing holding most people back? Money. Yep, nowadays, massive weapon payloads and small armies are prohibitively expensive, so what's an average, empty pocketed Joe (or Joette) like yourself supposed to do to satisfy your average dark, bestial bloodlusts? Battlefield Heroes? No, no. We know kittens who are grittier than that game. Fortunately, this is where Battlefield Play4Free comes in.
In a nutshell, the horrifically titled game mixes Battlefield Bad Company 2's weapon and class system with Battlefield 2's most popular maps, and then wraps it all up in a free-to-play browser-based package. A match made in heaven? Perhaps, depending on your tolerance for – you guessed it – microtransactions.
Now, if you'd rather not spend your hard-earned cash until the game becomes BattlefieldPlay4YourHouseAndYourSonsCollegeFundYouMonster, you'll have BFBC 2's XP system to keep you company. Same classes, same unlocks, etc. Meanwhile, microtransactions won't give deep-pocketed players too much of an edge. Rather, they'll offer slight tweaks and weapons that allow you to play your class differently – but not necessarily better.
If, however, you love BFBC 2 so much that you did, in fact, marry it and can no longer touch another game without tarnishing your holy matrimony, DICE has also announced VIP Map Pack 7. It's composed of four maps, two of which hail from the first Bad Company – all of which are completely free to PC players.
Seriously though, DICE, what's with all the presents? We definitely appreciate them, but is there something else at play here? Some kind of special occasion, maybe?
Adafruit Industries lit a fire under the hacking community's feet when it announced a chance to win $2,000 to the first person to deliver open-source software drivers for the Kinect, and it looks like a winner has emerged.
Nothing has yet been verified, but NUI Group forum member "AlexP" posted a couple of videos showing the Kinect merrily communicating with Windows. Microsoft, as you might imagine, probably isn't going to take the news well and was never in support of the contest to begin with.
"Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products," a company spokesperson told CNet. "With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering. Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant."
AlexP has been down this road before. In addition to hacking the Kinect, he also modified Sony's PS3Eye Camera to run under Windows.
One step forward, two steps back. Just when you thought Microsoft's consistently behind-the-times (or “draconian,” because we think that's a neat word) online service had lost one of its main footholds and fallen into the abyss of your bad memories, Dawn of War and Company of Heroes publisher THQ has decided to forgive and forget.
“It's been easier for development [moving to Steamworks], so far, but Microsoft is really talking to me a lot about getting back on Games for Windows Live,” THQ core games boss Danny Bilson told Shacknews. “I like both platforms and I really, really, really like Microsoft as a partner. They're fantastic partners. I want to respect them.”
“There are a lot of discussions going on about that now because it's a sensitive issue. But from a development point of view, it has been easier on Steamworks. That has nothing to do with Steam as a distribution platform, as you know. The developers really like it, but again, I have incredible respect for Microsoft and they're really fantastic partners. And so, there's a lot of ongoing discussion about that.”
On the upside, Bilson also threw his company's considerable weight behind the PC, saying that “you're going to see every single title from [the Core group at THQ] that makes sense, on PC. I mean, almost every one.”
Meanwhile, in GFWL's little slice of the gaming world – which we have to imagine is located under a rock, unburdened by silly inconveniences like recent developments or timely feedback – they're just now getting around to lauching a dedicated online marketplace. Granted, it's lacking a number of Steam's features, but hey, at least they're finally getting rid of those silly Microsoft Points. Which is all a very roundabout way of saying: Danny, we love you, so please don't make us hit you.
The series that's ended relationships and turned more than a few people to lives of solitary, scruffy bearded hermitude is making a somewhat unexpected leap to Facebook, of all places. Granted, it's not Dragon Age 2 in its entirety, but Dragon Age Legends, as it's known, is riding to battle a month before Dragon Age 2, and it'll let you see some brand new sights in advance of the game's release.
On top of that, playing the game will score you all manner of glittering prizes for use in Dragon Age 2. And, on top of that – standing on its shoulders to form some kind of unweildy videogame Voltron – you can play the game with friends, although BioWare hasn't specified exactly how it'll work just yet.
There's just one slight problem: it's sort of completely hideous. But then, so was flash game Dragon Age Journeys, and that actually turned out really well. Plus, in a gaming landscape dominated by farming sims, a decent fantasy RPG stands to seriously spice things up a bit. And yes, if you approached us two years ago and told us we'd be saying that, we probably would have laughed in your face. Then we would've launched into a tirade about how Duke Nukem Forever will never, ever come out, and you would've just shaken your head, hopped into your time machine, and gone to kill Hitler liked you'd originally planned.
The past 24 hours, for those of you who haven't been keeping up, were pretty darn important for the future of videogames. The Supreme Court went through with its hearing for the California violent videogame bill, which – if passed – would put the ESRB out of a job and usher in a whole new set of regulations for videogames. The worst case scenario? The bill passes, and many games are more or less lumped in with pornography, leading to potential removal from retail locations altogether. So, what happened? How'd it go? Well, initial responses from the Supreme Court justices look promising. Some highlights (via Gamasutra):
"If you are supposing a category of violent materials dangerous to children, then how do you cut it off at video games? What about films? What about comic books? Grimm's fairy tales? Why are video games special?" - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg
"What's next after violence? Drinking? Smoking? Will movies that feature scenes of smoking affect children? ... Movies that show smoking can't be shown to children? Will that affect them? Of course, I suppose it will. But are we to sit day by day to decide what else will be made an exception from the First Amendment? Why is this particular exception okay, but the other ones that I just suggested are not okay?" - Justice Antonin Scalia
"One of the studies ... says that the effect of violence is the same for a Bugs Bunny episode as it is for a violent video [game]. So can the legislature now, because it has that study, say we can outlaw Bugs Bunny?" - Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Granted, a final ruling won't be made until June of 2011, so this is hardly over. On top of that, the justices are known for pummeling both sides of an argument with near-impossible questions, so their harsh volley against the California bill was nothing out of the ordinary. Also, as Gamasutra points out, the current justices tend to lean more conservatively, which doesn't bode well for things involving the entertainment industry.
So, the long and short of it? You may now take a breath and maybe even smile a little. But this was just a quick skirmish, and the war's far from over.
Well folks, looks it's “GG” for humanity, as a StarCraft II player by the name of “Lomilar” has crafted a program called Evolution Chamber, which takes genetic algorithims and translates them into StarCraft II build orders. So basically, it turns you into a cruel, unfeeling robot's meat puppet. Evolution Chamber pulls the strings, and you do the grunt work.
For now, the program's focused on Zerg build orders, although considering its initial success, we wouldn't be surprised to see Terran and 'Toss versions eventually pop up as well. So, how does it work? In a nutshell, it pits build orders – the details of which are entered into Evolution Chamber manually – against each other. After an intense, cheesey one-liner-packed Math Battle, the winner advances and the loser is ruthlessley cast aside. So essentially, it mimicks biological evolution to a tee, and the results thus far have been fairly promising. Or apocalyptically terrifying, depending on how you look at it.
Already, Evolution Chamber's pioneered a build known as the Seven Roach Rush, which gets seven of these bad boys up and running after only 4 minutes and 45 seconds. Protoss players, especially, have had trouble coping with it, so odds are, players will keep it in their rotation.
Impressive, huh? Obviously, the program's not perfect (it's incapable of accounting for scouting, travel time, etc), but it's still quite an accomplishment. Already, computers tend to be better than humans at Chess, and it looks like it won't be long before they have us beat at StarCraft as well. And after that? Well, Korea will be easy prey. From then on, it'll only be a matter of time...
There are fans, and then there are frothy mouthed disciples. And then, about 100 links above them on the devotion food chain, there's this kid – or, as the Internet has dubbed him, “Red Shirt Guy.” If you're not a fan of watching videos – because, let's face it, those newfangled camera-majigs are probably coming up with new ways to steal your soul as we speak – here's the short version:
During a panel at BlizzCon, Red Shirt Guy approached Blizzard Loremaster Chris Metzen with a question about a Warcraft character named “Falstad Wildhammer.” In response, Metzen said he thought Wildhammer had kicked the bucket, only to have Red Shirt Guy cooly explain that Wildhammer is, in fact, alive and kicking according to the game's lore.
Now, slightly more than a week later, WoW's Council of Three Hammers has a newcomer in its ranks. Standing next to the very much alive Falstad Wildhammer is a short, red-shirted dwarf called “Wildhammer Fact Checker.” Congratulations, Red Shirt Guy. Until the far-off day when Blizzard pulls the plug on WoW's servers, consider yourself immortalized.
Still though, we can't help but feel a bit left out here. After all, it's our career to question game developers at every turn and generally make their lives unbearable. Where's our videogame character, huh?
Microsoft tomorrow will begin pushing out its Fall Dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console, three days ahead of the Kinect launch.
In addition to adding support for Kinect, the mandatory update revamps the user interface and adds some new features, like ESPN 3, Zune Music, a new voice communications codec, and perhaps best of all Netflix search functionality.
Those who decline the update will not be able to connect to Xbox Live, though all the offline features will remain intact. View the full FAQ here.
If you've ever played a Diablo game before, you pretty much know what to expect from Diablo III. There will be hacking. There will be slashing. Enemies will drop piles of gold upon death because apparently hell doesn't have a bank. Been there, done that. Shamefully walked into Hot Topic and bought the T-shirt.
When we went to BlizzCon, we were pretty much in the same boat. But the devil's in the details, and Diablo III's newly announced PVP Arena system is a detail the size of the big red guy – no, not the Kool Aid man – himself. Better still, in some ways, it legitimately surprised us. How? Well, let's run down the list.
1. The chaos – Sure, we expected three-on-three Diablo matches to be pretty wild, but we were still a bit taken aback when our tiny four-sided arena exploded into an ocean of fiery wizard magic, witchdoctor hell hounds, and barbarians hopping around like steroid-fueled, axe-wielding bunny rabbits. Basically, there were more than a few moments when our character keeled over, and we just paused, blinked, and said, “wait, what just happened?” However, confusing though it may occasionally be, it's also wildly exciting. Matches have their share of tactics, sure, but this is no chess match. If you get bored while playing this game, you might want to check your pulse, because you're probably dead.
Have you ever listened to yourself talk and/or think while you're playing videogames? We like to think it's akin to hearing William Shatner read a comment on any given Internet message board: it comes at a breakneck pace and doesn't make a lick of sense. And if it's a game or level you've never played before, turn that into a crowd of William Shatners all reading different spam emails simultaneously.
So, while taking Diablo III's brand new Demon Hunter class for a test drive during last weekend's BlizzCon, we decided to play Rosetta Stone and translate our sleep-deprived, caffeine-addled spill of Brain Soup into a real human language. The results were... amusing, to say the least. Also, surprisingly informative! 1. “Sh** sh** sh** sh** sh** sh**!” – The Demon Hunter – battle-hardened and thick-skinned though she may seem – is actually quite squishy. She's a ranged fighter, after all, so she doesn't take too well to pointy objects making shish kabobs out of her internal organs. As a result, seeing a horde of bulky demons, shambling zombies, and other hell-born riff-raff booking it straight for your Demon Hunter will have any number of four-letter words spewing out of your mouth as you make the necessary split-second precautions to intercept them. On the upside, it's utterly thrilling to be constantly walking such a thin line between life and death. On the downside, though, make one misstep and you''ll probably go splat.