For those that don’t know, coding your favorite games isn’t the only thing that John Carmack does well, turns out he’s not half bad at rocket science. He’s proved this most recently at the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, which is being held by the X Prize Foundation and sponsored by NASA. The goal of the challenge is to help in the development of a fleet of lunar ferries that could one day carry people and payloads between lunar orbit and the moon’s surface.
The challenge consists of several levels and Carmack’s team, Armadillo Aerospace, has passed the first one. Level one requires that a rocket take off from a launch area, climb to an altitude of 150 feet, hover for 90 seconds and then land safely at a landing pad 150 feet away. They were then required to repeat the flight in reverse within two and a half hours. Their ability to complete this goal before any other team has won them a cool $350,000.
Level two is a bit more difficult. It requires that team double the amount of time hovered, and then land on a simulated lunar surface that’s littered with craters and boulders. Armadillo Aerospace attempted the course, but was unable to complete the task. That means that there’s still $1.65 million up for grabs.
Mr. Carmack, we’re going to have to insist that you keep doing great things, but don’t forget about us!
Are you absolutely, er, perishing to play Left 4 Dead? Well, Valve has your back. Simply plunk down $5 on the undead murder simulator and you'll unlock a free demo on November 6 -- five days before everyone else.
"This pre-order promotion applies to all Steam PC pre-orders and all Xbox 360 and PC pre-orders from participating retailers in North America," read the press release. GameStop is the only confirmed retailer at the moment.
The demo will serve up both single player and co-op modes for 1-4 players. Since the demo's spewing a bubbling concoction of content, there is, of course, a catch: the demo -- like a zombie Undead American with a live grenade jammed down its throat -- will only be active for a finite amount of time.
"The demo concludes on November 18, when Left 4 Dead will be made available at retail outlets across North America and worldwide via Steam," notes the press release.
All told, though, we're pretty excited about this. Oh sure, we could give Valve a stern talking to for falling into the retail trap of giving preferential treatment to pre-orderers, but it's Left 4 Dead, guys. No matter how sordid the method of delivery, if we snag some hands-on time, we'll be too disgustingly over-joyed to care.
According to an announcement from Blizzard, World of Warcraft got bigger. We didn't see this coming or type up this article five months ago or anything! So, commence with the throaty gasps and whatnot. We'll be out not knowing about Star Wars: The Old Republic and, uh, not working here yet. Peace.
"It's been very rewarding to see gamers around the world continue to show such strong support for World of Warcraft," said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. "We remain fully committed to responding to that enthusiasm with a high-quality, constantly evolving game experience."
Jump past the break to see what qualifies you as a subscriber from Blizzard's look-at-all-the-ants perspective. Just, you know, if you're curious.
We can't help but feel for Fallout 3. When it's not having drugs pilfered right from under its nose, it's getting booted out of India. But, as the most oppressed and censored game since Barbie Murder Adventures (later toned down to the more family friendly Manhunt 2), it'd be anticlimactic if Fallout 3's launch week trotted in unhampered. Good thing, then, that Bethesda seems to have made one vocal Washington D.C. resident a little hot under the collar with a series of controversial promotional materials.
However, today's Fallout 3 ad removal is a tad perplexing, as it simply asks websites to cast all official Fallout 3 trailers into their Recycle Bins -- with no explicitly stated relation to the D.C. fiasco. Says the email from Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines:
In connection with ESRB's advertising guidelines, you are instructed to remove immediately any of our Fallout 3 trailers from your website, pending further notice.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Our guess? Precautionary action -- brushing Fallout 3's "threatening" imagery under the rug to avoid more controversy. Great job on defending Bethesda's interests, though, (ESRB parent organization) ESA! So, who will the ESA tangle with next in its daring and valiant mission to "protect [game companies'] legal rights and legislative interests"? A quardiplegic kitten that licks people when its angry? An ally?
Well, kinda. Make no mistake, BioWare, EA, and LucasArts hope to four-legged race right past WoW's 11 million subscriber record, but even if WoW's legions commit to Blizzard's ludicrously popular MMO, marry the game, have adorable children, and then sell them to buy more WoW gold, the Old Republic team won't lose any sleep over the lost customers.
“Just look at the base of Star Wars fans, plus what BioWare can do," EA Games president Frank Gibeau told Videogaming247. "Trust me: we want to win. EA’s reputation is for wanting to win."
“This is going to be a powerful category and there’s lots of ways to compete in this category. [Blizzard] created a much larger opportunity for everybody else, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way.”
LucasArts online boss Tom Nichols elaborated, and also downplayed Blizzard's userbase as the be-all, end-all of the MMO market.
“When World of Warcraft came out, everybody thought, ‘No, the market is only this big, because that’s as big as EverQuest was.’ Blizzard showed that it could be much larger,” he said.
“Our goal is to show that by bringing storytelling to the genre that we can attract an even wider audience. Plus, we have the benefit of this huge brand, which has done very, very well for nearly 30 years.”
We think The Old Republic has a better chance of seizing WoW's spot on the winner's podium than any other MMO. How about you?
With all the recent hubbub about DRM (seriously, we're getting tired of using that link), it was only a matter of time until some brave soul stepped forward to behead the "draconian" menace*. Fittingly, that someone is Stardock, whose handiwork birthed the Gamer's Bill of Rights.
"While Stardock doesn't put copy protection on its retail games, the fact is that most publishers are never going to agree to do that," Stardock CEO Brad Wardell said of one sticky stipulation in the Bill.
"So the publishers are telling us, 'Put your money where your mouth is. Why don't you guys develop something that you think is suitable that would protect our IP, but would be more acceptable to users?'"
"We're investigating what would make users happy to protect their needs, but also provide some security for the publishers. ... We're actually developing a technology that would do that."
Although Wardell's plan still has all four limps planted safely in the cradle, he does have one concrete idea. "We want that license to be yours, not per machine. ... It's not your machine buying the game. It's you," he said, voicing his hope for unlimited downloads of a purchased game.
When asked if his solution could be defined as DRM, however, Wardell was hesitant to slap the newborn plan with gaming's three scarlet letters.
"The problem with 'DRM' is that it's so loosely defined. ... Stardock's products use activation, and I wouldn't say that it's DRM," he emphasized. "We're just verifying if you're real customer."
All told, though, we think Wardell is really onto something. Now, with time out of the way, it's just a matter of how many bricks we'll have to chuck through John Riccitiello's window until he actually listens.
We don't claim to be businessmen, but even we have to say LucasArts' rationale behind Star Wars Galaxies' continued existence seems a little off. When asked whether the troubled Star Wars MMO would step down gracefully or take a lightsaber to the gut, LucasArts senior online exec Tom Nichols replied:
“We’re still committed to Star Wars Galaxies. A couple of things: a demonstration of that commitment includes a recent trading card game that we launched in August. It’s doing very well for us and we have a new expansion pack being planned for that."
“I think the market will definitely support [both Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Wars Galaxies]."
He also noted that the two games feature different mechanics, which he believes will attract different audiences.
But if you've never played either game, what can Galaxies throw your way to entice you to its shriveled up side of the force?
“Shortly we’re going to release a new Hoth encounter that recreates that classic battle in the Empire Strikes Back, and that’s exciting content for our Galaxies community, so we’re definitely committed to the product.”
A Hoth level. Added to one of the few Star Wars games in history that didn't already have one.
Galaxies fans, feel free to tell us why we're wrong/why we should die in a fire.
It's official. E3 as you know it is no more. Again. E3 version 3.0 will return to the glitz and glamour of the gaming trade show's 2006 iteration, but with a few tweaks to put an end to those pesky money leaks.
"[E3 2009] will be smaller than E3 2006 because it will be a much smarter show than E3 2006," ESA President Mike Gallagher said, boasting the new format's cost-effectiveness.
Compared to its 2007 and 2008 counterparts, E3 2009 intends to stop sucking it in and let its girth flow freely. With a target attendance of 40,000 industry professionals, 2008's 5,000 will have plenty of company. However, 2006 and 2005 remain "king of the hill" and "hill," respectively, with totals of 60,000 and 70,000.
So, the question you probably skipped all of the other stuff to answer: Can you get into E3? Well, not really.
Strolling into E3's hallowed halls is as simple as being a "qualified" industry or media member -- though defining that position is much less simple.
"We have criteria set up to define what is an analyst, what is a media attendee," Gallagher said. "We want to make sure bloggers and others in the online space have the right path to admission, as long as they're legitimate."
"This is not a consumer show," he emphasized.
Unless, of course, you're a booth babe.
"Here's the thing," Gallagher said of the sisterhood of the traveling pants-less. "Our publishers will have the maximum ability to drive energy and excitement around their titles and their products. I would expect that you're going to see models there, but there will be controlled guildelines, just like we've had previous years."
E3 2009 will run from June 2-4. We'll be there, reporting with oodles of "energy and excitement." Oh, and booth babes -- look out. We've been known to get a little feisty while on show floors.
Sorry this post is so late. On the way to our computer, we were mobbed by women, had to refuse a couple marriage proposals, and were forced to drum up conversations with a few people who actually weren't my mom. But it's ok! Because according to a recent study by IGN Entertainment and Ipsos Media CT, this sort of thing happens to you guys all the time (even without the ability to flash Maximum PC blogger credentials), so you probably understand.
The study corralled 3,000 participants and discovered, foremost, that gamers no longer display aesthetic symptoms typical of vampirism -- casting aside their dimly lit basements and blanched-white skin to bask in the company of other people. But here's the kicker: apparently gamers, in between playing games, find more time for their social outings than non-gamers.
For example, the study noted that gamers are 13% more likely to frequent movie theaters, 11% more likely to throw down in real life sports, and 9% more likely to kick back with friends than non-gamers. But it gets better.
See, we make more money too. Our deft reflexes, calloused thumbs, and superlative interloping abilities snag, on average, $79,000 per year, while non-gamers are forced to make do with $54,000. (Note: average income was not calculated to include money spent on gamers' hedonistic gaming and movie-going habits.)
And of course, everyone loves us, since dropping a pebble into our wells of knowledge wouldn't yield a splash for years. As such, 37% of those surveyed said friends and family look to them for entertainment advice, and 39% said they assist acquaintances with tech and gadgets.
So, if the cool kids are still beating you up out by the monkey-bars, you're in the minority. In fact, a large portion of us are probably helping administer the mega wedgie-swirly combos. What? We get bored.
For the past few weeks we have presented you with our $1500 Budget Badass and $2500 Power User PC. This week we’re bringing to the table our picks for a $2500 Pro Gaming PC. With significant price cuts since our last Pro Gaming PC build-it guide, we were able to give our gaming PC some extra juice so system lag can no longer be blamed for missing a crucial headshot. Many parts have not changed since the last update, but with new hardware technology coming soon to the computer industry, be prepared for some significant tweaks next month. But for now, here’s what we got.
Would you build it differently? If so, we would love to hear how you would do it in the comments!