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Adam Creighton, Computer and Video Gaming (Subscribe)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Back in the saddle ... (Updated)

I haven't written in a week. Fine. I've been on vacation.

Apologies to those of you who hang on my constant industry updates and insights, and ...

Y'know what, screw it. People who need daily updates probably stopped reading this thing a week ago.

For those sentimentalists among you, I'm going getting into the WayBack Machine and doing a post similar to the original "Xbox Buddies Newsflash" of years ago -- lotta brief summaries.

In brief:
  • Video game comics
  • Tenchu Z
  • Castlevania film update
  • Gamecock's EIEIO
  • Halo 3 "goodies"
  • Soul Calibur IV (video)
  • Xbox 360 changes
  • David Jaffe
  • Gears of War DLC
  • 3D Realms announces announcements
  • BioWare's 2009 MMO
  • Carmack's game engine (video)
  • Junction Point updates
  • Steamed Capcom?
  • Sony launches blog
  • Dark Sector due 2008
  • Episodic content expands
  • Usability and Human Factors
  • Peter Cullen (video)
Here we go ...

Video game comics:

It's not just Halo and Marvel -- now Gearbox Software and Dynamite Entertainment are going make a comic book series based off upcoming Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. Relative newcomer Dynamite is pretty amazing to me (check out their titles), and I'm looking forward to more comic book goodness from them.

Tenchu Z:

Tenchu Z finally hits the Xbox 360 stateside. The Japanese demo I played way back when left me underwhelmed, but I'm sure this thing has gotten at least two coats of polish since then. And there's the overwhelmingly redeeming facet of getting to fight pirates -- as a ninja. Seriously.

Castlevania film update:

Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, AVP: Alien vs. Predator) is out. Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard, Ronin) is the new Castlevania hotness. To quote Kotaku's Michael Fahey, "So we have a relatively untested director with one major sleeper hit under his belt, but White is also slated to direct Frank Miller's Ronin, and Miller's properties aren't exactly fluff that studios hand out to just anyone."

Gamecock's EIEIO:

This is mainly for its local Austin connection (and my respect for these particular industry folks). but indie-publisher-looking-to-break-the-deep-pockets-mold Gamecock Media is throwing a party at the same time as this year's greatly reduced Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Gamecock's shindig is called the "Expo for Interactive Entertainment: Independent and Original" ("EIEIO"; those guys are nothing, if not punsters).

The gig looks to be shaping up to be less inclusive and more Gamecock-y, but they've got 6 titles for which I'm already stoked, and promise two "major unannounced next-gen titles" (does anyone ever promise two minor titles?). I'm guessing at least one of those two will be from Big Rooster.

Gamecock has not knocked down my door and invited me to their party. I'll let you know if that changes.

Halo 3 "goodies":

Can't get enough Halo 3, now that the beta is over?

Get ready for two, limited-edition wireless controllers (one Spartan, one Covenant), and a limited-edition wireless headset. The controllers will set you back an extra $10 (at $59.99 MSP) over the non-LE wireless controllers, but you get a free Halo 3 figurine. Given the art and figurine are designed by Todd McFarlane (an amazing business and licensing creative), I'm looking for pretty-to-look-at, non-functioning tchotkies. One would hope this applies just to the figurine (Toddy, I like your stuff, but if they aren't fully articulated, it's just your take on the Precious Moments concept).

Better picts of the accessories are available at

(I wonder if JoyRide Studios lost the Halo franchise to McFarlane Toys? That would be sad.)

Soul Calibur IV:

I'm sorry, but weapons-gimmicky button-mashing franchise Soul Calibur is my favorite fighting game. I'm so happy Soul Calibur II now plays on the Xbox 360. And I don't feel like I missed out on the PS2-only Soul Calibur III, given critical and popular reception. But Soul Calibur IV looks to add beautiful interlocking fiber armor and more ... Ivy (fans of the franchise know what I mean). And, so far they're guaranteeing 60fps and 1080p when the game hits sometime in 2008. Buttery ...

UPDATED: I like this open letter to Namco posted on

Xbox 360 changes:

Picts of cracked open repaired Xbox 360s reveal something interesting. A new (additional) heat sink / pipe combo.

So, if we tally up the following:
  • Heat sink / pipe combo (now)
  • Quieter DVD drives (now; in new units and some repaired units)
  • Smaller, cooler, cheaper CPUs (July-ish)
  • Smaller, Cooler GPU (Fall 2007)

By this Christmas, we should see a quieter, more robust 360 -- a scant three years after the console's release.

UPDATED: From Microsoft (a la

"Regularly updating console components is commonplace within the industry
and is a standard aspect of the business for a variety of reasons including cost
reduction, improved manufacturability and improved performance."

David Jaffe:

The dude behind God of War and Calling All Cars might be making good on his "going independent" mutterings. Cell phone picts have surfaced on Jaffe's site, indicating an in-process build out, possibly of a development studio. Will he become a Sony "Second-party" Dev (playing it safe), or will he branch out and show some Wii, 360, PC, and other love? We'll see ...

Gears of War DLC:

A Gears of War free title update (with new achievements) hits late tonight (June 14th) / tomorrow. It'll add eight new achievements for the "Annex" game-play type and Hidden Front Maps. It also includes an improved version of the "Roadie Run" controls.

Also, according to Major Nelson:

'The "Annex" gametype is now available for free and the "Hidden Fronts" Multiplayer Map Pack is available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points. All four multiplayer maps will be available for free after Sept. 3, 2007.'

3D Realms announces announcements:

3D Realms, the developers of the forever-in-development Duke Nukem Forever, have two upcoming non-DNF announcements. Says creative director Raphael Van Lierop:

"I can say that we have a big announcement coming in the next four weeks, and I'm not sure, but I believe we have another major announcement coming in the next four to six months... while I can't say exactly what these are, are they about Duke Nukem Forever? No."

BioWare's 2009 MMO:

BioWare Austin's (Star Wars-themed?) MMO opus won't be hitting until 2009. Yes, "9". Last I heard, they were using a middleware solution so they wouldn't have to build their own engine, so maybe all the extra time is for incredible MMO add-ons and deepenings. PvP newness. Branching paths to the nth power. Cross-platform play. Voice acting for every NPC organism (call me). Important stuff like that.

Carmack's game engine:

Demoing during a Steve Job's keynote address, id Software's John Carmack showed off the new "id Tech 5" game engine -- designed for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and ... Macintosh. Looks slick, promises to make amazing development easy, blah blah blah.

It is cool that it seems to decouple the game play from the asset reworking, so, after finalizing game play, you can still "put artists on it to go ahead and make it look as good as we have time and resources to do."

Junction Point updates:

Another on the Austin gaming connection, over at the recently reworked, new concept art for unnamed game(s) is showing up throughout the pages. And there's a new, bare-bones WordPress blog for Warren Spector and other Junction Point devs to use as a pipe through which to share their brilliance with the rest of us.

Steamed Capcom?:

Capcom's jumping on Valve's Steam distribution / download service, which is huge. Microsoft, Sony, GameTap, RealNetworks, Valve -- there are a ton big (and a plethora of small) players in this space. As broadband speeds increase, ultra-wideband wireless becomes a reality, and fiber becomes the norm, the winners are going to win big.

Sony launches blog:

Joining the now-gen, Sony has launched an official Playstation blog, with the inaugural post by none other than President & CEO Jack Tretton. Some good, reasonably transparent stuff here.

Dark Sector due 2008:

For gamers, this holiday is going to rock. For those (like me) waiting for Digital Extremes' Dark Sector, you're going to need to wait until after the holiday. According to D3Publishing:

"We've decided to pull Dark Sector out of a very crowded holiday season and it is now slated for release in Q1 2008."

Episodic content expands:

Telltale Games got a $6 million influx. What they're using it for is more of their successful multi-platform episodic content.

Honestly, "Episodic Content" and "Digital Distribution" are two of the two New Hotnesses of gaming, so Telltale is on the forefront, and playing this wicked smart.

Usability and Human Factors:

Usability is not a choice. Good usability is. So I like this apropos Penny Arcade strip. Devs, take note.

Peter Cullen:

Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime in the 80s cartoon, upcoming Michael Bay Movie, and video game tie-in, gives a brief video explanation of his role and the voice of Optimus. As a voice actor, I'm inspired. As a fanboy, I have goosebumps.

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