Indie Dev Says "No" to GameStop Purchase of Impulse

No High Scores

Blind Mind Studios, maker of space based RTS Star Ruler is none too happy with GameStop’s upcoming acquisition of Impulse. On a post on their site, they state, unequivocally, that once the aforementioned sale goes through, Star Ruler will no longer be available on Impulse. Here’s a small excerpt from their post, a post that is well worth reading in its entirety:

“We are ending sales through Impulse due to GameStop’s long, negative behavior toward the PC platform and independent games. We would never have signed onto distribution through GameStop, and being forced into this situation has only made it worse for us. We feel GameStop cannot serve as the leader of a true competitor in the digital distribution market.”

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell will be on the next episode of Jumping the Shark to talk about the Impulse-GameStop deal, so it will be interesting to get his take on this, as interesting as seeing how many other independent developers take Blind Mind’s lead.

Seen at Rock, Paper Shotgun.

Focus Home Announces Blood Bowl World Cup 2011

A little background.

If you know me, I mean really know the true me, you know how much I love Blood Bowl. It just makes sense, really. You are combining four of my greatest entertainment loves in the world:

*Warhammer Fantasy
*Sports
*Turn Based Strategy
*Boardgames

It would be the holy trinity of gaming if there weren’t four things.

So when Focus Home and Cyanide started development on a hardcore adaptation of the Games Workshop game I was beyond pumped. I rarely get overly excited about game announcements anymore. As much as I still love and play games on a daily basis you get to a point when announcements are cool and all but in the end — they are a dime a dozen. This was different. This was a game I had been waiting for since MicroLeague’s abomination of a game back in the mid 1990s. But this looked gorgeous, had all of the rules, had a career mode, had skill progression, it was basically the boardgame ported to PC and with a nice starting set of races. It was dreamy.

Then it was released…

Truthfully, Cyanide created what it promised: Blood Bowl on the PC is a faithful adaptation of the boardgame. When released it had some bugs, some skills weren’t working properly and there were other issues with the interface, but on the whole — this was Blood Bowl.

And yet it wasn’t.

The abysmal AI ruined the game for me. Elves that don’t pass, ridiculously aggressive play jumping out of tackle zones, it was a mess. Granted I have been playing Blood Bowl for years and consider myself a better than average bear, but the AI was atrocious and you’d need to be a either a complete newcomer to turn based strategy games let alone a BB newbie to lose to the computer. That…and when I played online matches I had about a 60% success rate — and losing a connection in the 2nd half of a close game was enough for me to weep as I shelved the game and moved on. I even organized a 32 team tournament which crashed and burned along with several lost connections during games.

So along comes The Legendary Edition — Cyanide’s attempt to make things right by adding in more races, some more skills. cleaning up the net code, and doing basically jack shit to the AI. Again…sadness.

I have Blood Bowl still on my hard drive. The icon stares at me every morning and every once in a while I’ll fire up a game and play about eight turns of a match, realize this is pointless, and move on.

ANYWAY, that has nothing to do with this announcement.

So, PR ahead:

Adapted from Games Workshop’s famous board game, the Blood Bowl video game is a violent team sport that mixes football and strategy set in the Warhammer universe. The first game, launched in 2009, managed to gather a large worldwide community of players and launched its first World Cup in 2010. The big finale took place in Cologne, Germany, where Andriy’s Dark Elves became the very first World Champion of Blood Bowl, the video game.

The finalists shared over $8,000 in cash prizes.

The recent release of Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition helped extend the game’s player base, so it’s no surprise that we announce that registration for the Blood Bowl World Cup 2011 are now open. The competition will exclusively be played online, on the official server.

Players can start preparing their best team for a chance at becoming Blood Bowl’s new World Champion and winning the big cash prize!

Sign up now for the competition on Blood Bowl’s official website! The tournament is open to all Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition players, from all around the world.

More info can be found here: http://www.bloodbowl-game.com

Red Faction: Battlegrounds Wants You To Shoot Stuff

I must admit, this one kind of snuck up on me. Oh sure, I knew about Red Faction: Battlegrounds, the four person co-op, vehicle based destructorama, but I just didn’t know it was coming out now. Whether you’re a PSN fan or an XBLA junkie, both platforms can now experience the thrill of blowing up tanks on Mars. Go explosives!

Killzone 3 DLC Announced in Tuesday Shocker; Gaming World Reels

Killzone 3 is recieving DLC add-on maps

Everybody, please, just settle down. I know we’re all at a loss for words. Can someone get that guy down there a glass of water? No, ma’am this is not a late April Fool’s joke. Here are the facts. We’re looking at two maps. Junkyard is a new Guerilla Warfare map that promises a lot of junk. Not like the rest of the levels aren’t already trashed. The other apparently takes players into the Stahl Arms factory, presumably for a little after-hours paintball match. Or worse- deathmatch. The so-called “Steel Rain” package, almost certainly named after a fictional 80s hair band that may or may not have opened for L.A. Guns at some point, debuts on PSN April 6th for Europe and the 12th in the US for $4.99. If you’re in the PlayStation Plus Super Pals Fun Club and Marketing Opportunity, it’s free for the first month. Also, Guerilla is pushing out a 1.07 patch that includes a host of minor tweaks not particularly worth enumerating and one major addition- a “Mute All” button.

Alright, I’m going to just step back and let all of this sink in. This, my friends, is a game changer.

New Portal 2 Trailer Makes Me Smile

Maybe I’m just an easy mark for this type of trailer. I probably am. But like the two second punch to the groin Saints Row 3 trailer, this latest Portal 2 trailer does a great job of not taking itself too seriously.

We’re done here.

Mass Effect 2 Free (Sort Of)

No High Scores

BioWare wants to thank you for purchasing Dragon Age 2 with a shiny, new download of Mass Effect 2 for the PC. Wait, you bought Dragon Age 2 used and it doesn’t have the code for the Black Emporium? Well, BioWare wants to thank you for nothing. Those of you that actually care about developers can go to the BioWare site for all of the information. If you’re thinking of picking up Dragon Age 2 and haven’t done so yet, don’t worry, you have until April 30th to get in on all of this hot, free, space squad action.

Konami Announces Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Clothing Line


OK, I’m going to eat crow on this one. Bill Abner, knowing that I’m a silly Hideo Kojima fan, sent me the press release from yesterday wherein Konami announced that they’ve partnered up with Musterbrand, LLC to produce a line of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker clothes. Having just last night witnessed a tubby teenager in a Halo: Reach t-shirt creepily prowling the aisles of a local Target, I was reminded of why I do not nor will I ever wear video game apparel. I mentioned this to Bill and made fun of gamer clothes, and he related a funny anecdote involving an “Ultima Rules” T-shirt. Gamer t-shirts make me think of body stink and failure.

After seeing some pictures, I have to say that I’m really impressed. Instead of the typical no-taste, tacky-ass logo branding and huge graphics designed to stretch over potbellies that I expected, the line appears to be some very cool, tasteful replicas of some of the in-game clothing designs. Which is to say that the line is mostly very chic, stylized military silhouttes. I adore the shirt pictured above, and as long as it’s not designer priced I’m planning on getting at least it and a pair of the fatigue-style pants. There are a couple of logo t-shirts, but they’re likewise tasteful with a Peace Walker emblem on one and the Foxhound/Kojima Production logo on the other. Very nice. Look for the line starting April 11. As for where, I have no idea, the press release didn’t say but the Konami website is probably a good place to start.

Randy Pitchford Rages Against Multiplayer Machine

Gearbox Software (Borderlands, Duke Nukem Forever) president Randy Pitchford told Edge something that I’m pretty sure we’ll all agree with — that publishers are in effect forcing developers to tick boxes off a feature checklist just for the sake of feature creep. In particular Pitchford is railing against adding multiplayer just for the sake of multiplayer, which is sucking away time and resources for developing a game’s core single player mode. Some games, I think we all agree, are simply better single player experiences and tacking on multiplayer just to “have it” usually leads to weaker games.

Regardless of what you think of it, it makes you appreciate Bethesda sticking to its no MP guns with Skyrim.

Says Pitchford to Edge:

“Let’s forget about what the actual promise of a game is and whether it’s suited to a narrative or competitive experience. Take that off the table for a minute and just think about the concept-free feature list: campaign, co-op, how many players? How many guns? How long is the campaign? When you boil it down to that, you take the ability to make good decisions out of the picture. And the reason they do it is because they notice that the biggest blockbusters offer a little bit for every kind of consumer. You have people that want co-op and competitive, and players who want to immerse themselves in deep fiction. But the concept has to speak to that automatically; it can’t be forced. That’s the problem.”

He goes on to correlate this plight to EA’s Dead Space franchise:

“It’s ceiling-limited; it’ll never do 20 million units. The best imaginable is a peak of four or five million units if everything works perfectly in your favour. So the bean counters go: ‘How do I get a higher ceiling?’ And they look at games that have multiplayer. They’re wrong, of course. What they should do instead is say that they’re comfortable with the ceiling, and get as close to the ceiling as possible. Put in whatever investment’s required to focus it on what the promise is all about.”

Preach it, brother.

Study Suggests Violent Games Turn Kids Into Unsympathetic Asses

Researchers at Simmons College have concluded that children who are overexposed to violent videogames are less likely to sympathize with other people in everyday life. The study, published in the Journal of Children and Media, surveyed 166 kids aged 7-12 about their favorite games, how often they played them, and asked questions related to violent behavior and proper response.

“To make a judgment about violence, at least two skills are necessary,” the paper explains. “First, a child must be able to imagine the point-of-view of both parties in the aggressive conflict. Second, he/she should be able to feel some sympathy or imagine some sympathy towards each party. Only at this point can a moral judgment be appropriately made. Those who play more violent video games perceive violence in the name of retaliation and self-protection as more justified, much like the view of violence presented in video games.”

“Certainly not every child who continues to play violent video games is going to go out and perpetrate a violent act, but the research suggests that children — particularly boys — who are frequently exposed to these violent games are absorbing a sanitized message of ‘no consequences for violence’ from this play behavior.”

Apparently, the kids who played a lot of violent games failed the test and have the sympathy of a diseased badger.

Thanks GameSpot

You can read the entire release here from Simmons College: http://simmons.edu/overview/about/news/press/1013.php

Spiral Knights Officially Launches

The online action-rpg Spiral Knights, published/produced by Sega and developed by Three Rings (the Puzzle Pirates people) is officially out of its beta period and is ready for public consumption. It’s also free.

Above is the launch trailer and below is the PR.

SEGA of America, Inc. and SEGA Europe Ltd. today announced that Spiral Knights, the newest title from online game developer Three Rings, has officially launched, offering players around the world classic, console-style adventuring in a persistent world. Spiral Knights is completely free-to-play, meaning that anybody who dares to face the perils of these dungeons, whether alone or with a group of up to three other friends, can start their journey to the core of the Clockworks right now at http://www.spiralknights.com

“The response we have seen from players during the preview has been fantastic,” said Daniel James, CEO of Three Rings. “We are tremendously proud of the team; they have worked hard over the last four years to bring the co-operative fun of Spiral Knights to life and we are delighted to be bringing their game to the world in partnership with SEGA. All that is left to say is: Watch out for those jelly cubes!”

Spiral Knights pits players against the creatures of Cradle, where they must fight to survive by scavenging materials from the ever-changing worlds beneath the surface.

The game features:

* A constantly changing world brought to life in a vibrant, retro-inspired visual style
* Intuitive Pick-up-and-play controls (including both mouse-only and gamepad control)
* Opportunities for players to create guilds, craft new gear, and customize the looks and abilities of their characters
* Easy matchmaking for co-op mayhem with parties of up to four players
* Gear and weapons upgradeable through adventuring or through the purchase of Crystal Energy

Players can download and play Spiral Knights for free today by visiting http://www.spiralknights.com