Summer Officially Arrives with Steam Sale

No High Scores

Starting today, Steam wants to send you to summer camp, where you can spend all your money on games you might get to within the next ten years. Maybe. Today’s list of deals includes the following titles:

- Dawn of War II Retribution, $14.99 (50% off)
- Oblivion GOTY, $6.80 (66% off)
- Lead and Gold, $1.50 (85% off)
- Borderlands GOTY, $7.50 (75% off)
- Blood Bowl Legendary Edition, $13.59 (66% off)
- Operation Flashpoint: Red River, $29.24 (35% off)
- Recettear, $5.00 (75% off)
- Back to the Future, $12.49 (50% off)
- Medal of Honor, $10.19 (66% off)
- Bit.Trip Runner, $2.50 (75% off)
- Test Drive Unlimited 2, $9.99 (50% off)
- The Witcher 2, $33.49 (33% off) Buy this!

There will be a new list of games for sale every day until July 10th. I’m putting my credit card in a safe deposit box on my way home from work today.

Limbo Officially Hitting PSN, PC via Steam

The game everyone loves but Barnes* is making its way to both PSN and PC.

Many rumors were popping up about this but now it’s been confirmed. Look for a release “later this year.”

*I’ve never played Limbo. I am, however, quite certain Mike is going to tell you in the comments why he likes this game as much as a root canal performed by the dentist from Little Shop of Horrors. It’s why we love him.

Earth Defense Force: Armageddon – Destruction

One of Brandon’s eagerly awaited games of the summer has a new trailer available showing off its destructible environments. The game drops on July 5th on 360 and PS3.

You can read Brandon’s E3 write up here:

Can You Play Space Marine on PC?

THQ has revealed the specs for Space Marine on the PC.

Side note: THQ is flying us (well, not me, but a GameShark rep as I am all traveled out at the moment) to see Space Marine’s multiplayer on July 14th so look for a preview in a couple of weeks.

Minimum Configuration

* OS – Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7

* Processor – 2.0Ghz Dual core CPU (any Core 2 Duo or AMD X2 or better)

* RAM – 1GB (XP), 2GB (Vista), 2GB (Windows 7)

* Hard Drive – 20 GB space free (10 GB free after install)

* Video Card – 256MB Video Card using Shader Model 3 & DirectX 9.0 or better (Performance equivalent to an AMD Radeon 3850 or NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT)

* Online Steam account

Recommended Configuration

* OS – Windows 7

* Processor – Any Quad-core AMD or Intel Processor

* RAM – 1GB (XP), 2GB (Vista), 2GB (Windows 7)

* Hard Drive – 20 GB space free (10 GB free after install)

* Video Card – 512MB Video Card using Shader Model 3 & DirectX 9.0 or better (Performance equivalent to an AMD Radeon 5750 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260)

* Online Steam account

Hellgate Open Beta

Yep, Hellgate is back. I had no idea anyone was clamoring for Hellgate to be back but there it is– open for beta testing and nearly ready to roll. The game is going to be free to play. Honestly I thought the idea for Hellgate: London was a good one.

It just wasn’t very good.

Here’s hoping the new developer can make it work.

You can download the beta client here.

Todd Howard Talks About Skyrim

No High Scores

I’ve been seeing this excellent AusGamers interview with Bethesda’s Todd Howard make the rounds on various sites because in it Howard mentions their intention to do bigger DLC for Skyrim that’s more in line with doing an expansion pack. A good notion, that, but if Skyrim is on your must buy list you should read the full interview for everything else discussed there. Lots of good details about the mod community and Howard’s desire to find a way to put them on the Xbox. Some good nuggets about the quest engine, “Radiant Story,” how they unintentionally rebuilt the Gamebryo engine for this game, and why they demo on the 360 even though the PC version will look better. Here’s the bit about the evolution from Gamebryo to Creation:

Well we came off of Fallout 3 and we’re always moving our own technology forward. Whether that’s using a piece of middleware or doing AI or things like that. We had a pretty big list of what we felt the 360, the PS3 and the high-end PCs could do, and it wasn’t like we said “we’re going to re-write the engine”; we just sort of started with “okay, let’s do this to the graphics; let’s do this to the gameplay”.

We started hitting that hard right after Fallout 3, so I’d say after the course of the next year and a half it turns out we’d re-written all of this — look how it looks; we’re not using this anymore; we’re not using that anymore. So that’s when we actually decided to brand it; we should call it something of our own.

But it wasn’t from the get go “we’re going to re-write the whole engine”. It was a priority list and we ended up re-writing more than we thought we were gonna, but it worked out.

Conduit 2 Post-Mortem

No High Scores

It’s a bit of a slow news day, so why not take the time to read a four page post-mortem on the Conduit 2? It’s an interesting read, particularly the bit about the story. In a nutshell, High Voltage hired a writer and said writer came up with this epic tale that was unfeasible due to the size of the necessary cut scenes and the fact that the development team wanted to go lighter in tone. As a result, a lot of what the writer wrote was scrapped and the internal team worked last minute to get the script where they wanted it to be in time for the recording sessions. That explains a whole lot as the “comedy” in this game is just plain lazy. Lots of dumb quips and cheeky video game references, things I would expect from a frazzled team looking to meet a deadline rather than someone who gets paid to write as a full time profession. Then again, Gears of War 2 was written by a Writer with a capital “W” and that game’s dialog is abysmal, so what do I know?

Post-mortems are always interesting to read and this one is particularly interesting to me as it involves a franchise I enjoyed and a development company that I’ve always had great dealings with. Hopefully they can learn from their mistakes on Conduit 2 and come back swinging.

Video game news at its absolute finest

Pictured is either an impressionist painting or a random abstract image that is reported to be the first screenshot of the game that Respawn Entertainment is working on at EA. I believe it’s the latter. Respawn, as you’ll remember, is the landing pad for former Infinity Ward wardens and current defendants Vince Zampella and Jason West. In other words, the hot-s#!t guys that made Modern Warfare.

I’ve seen this news item turn up in the headlines at a couple of sites. Is this how far advance marketing has fallen, that a blurry screenshot of nothing is enough to pique interest and spark discussion? I bet these guys could take a picture of their post-chimichanga buffet dump and it’d make the news.

Go on, try to find the hidden pony or secret codes that may be there. Stare at it for four hours and chant “Soap McTavish” 150 times and maybe it will clear up and show an all-new military shooter. Are those bits of corn?

Team Bondi Running Developer Sweat Shop?

According to a story on Develop, they very well might be. If you follow the industry at all outside of just playing the games, you know this sort of stuff isn’t all that uncommon. EA took a ton of heat a while back for the same type of thing — EA spouses petitioned the company because their husbands and wives would spent 18 hours a day at the office, especially during “crunch” time. Major burnout was the result.

Sounds like Team Bondi is doing the same — and I think this is just a singling out case because I know for a fact that a “12 hour day” is not at all rare in this business, again, especially in crunch time. Now, that said, the list of accusations is…yeah I wouldn’t want to work there either; I like my weekends…

“There was simply an expectation that you’d work overtime and weekends. I was told that I was taking the piss by saying that I couldn’t give every single one of my weekends away. We were looked at as a disposable resource, basically. Their attitude is: ‘it’s a privilege to work for us, and if you can’t hack it, you should leave’. I heard one of the upper echelons say pretty much that. I thought it was disgusting. I don’t understand how they can’t see that maintaining talent would actually be good for them.”

Says Brian Robbins, chair of the IGDA Board of Directors:

“Certainly reports of 12-hour a day, lengthy crunch time, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the individuals involved, the final product, and the industry as a whole. We encourage any Team Bondi employee and/or family member to email with comments about the recent past and current situation – positive or negative.”

Now, if I were a jerk (or Barnes) I would make a snide remark about how those 12 hour days should have been 15 to make LA Noire a better game, but I’m really not that mean. I’m a nice guy, unless you’re seven years old and have a compass whistle.

Bodycount Release Date Set for August 30th

I was going to post the PR for this but it’s filled with so much hyperbole it’s one big strike-through, with a lot of “high octane” and mouth watering” references.

So, instead just know that the game is set to drop August 30th and you can read our brief E3 recap by Jason McMaster here.