Friday, April 27

Halo 4 DLC Spartan Ops DLC hinted at?


cortana on the forward unto dawn

Gameinformer has a pretty sweet article on Halo 4. The key take away for me was Frankie from 343's comments on Spartan Ops (the multiplayer element of the game).

"The Spartan Ops story will stretch out for several weeks, but not months, according to O'Connor. And beyond that? "Season one comes free with the game. If we did another season we would be building that from scratch. Maybe that will be DLC; maybe it goes in the next game. We are still tinkering with that."

Speculation from Frankie or a teaser about DLC? Either way it's important as Frankie never gives up speaks of such things loosely.

Tuesday, April 24

Shane Pierce's Gears of War 3 Concept Art

gears of war 3 concept artwork

Artist Shane Pierce has put up some of the concept artwork he did for the Gears of War 3 game - mostly the images posted are of landscapes and buildings. Pretty awesome design work for the world of Sera!

Check out more of Pierce's artwork here.

gears of war 3 concept artwork

gears of war 3 concept artwork building

gears of war 3 concept artwork building with water



Sunday, April 22

Chuck Beaver on Gears of War " It contains atrocious, offensive violations of story basics"

kantus gears of war

"Story can only ruin a game for those people who care about story, so it's a conditional answer. For instance, Gears of War. It contains atrocious, offensive violations of story basics. Yet it doesn't seem to ruin it for many, many people. It's literally the worst writing in games, but seems to have no ill effects."

So said Chuck Beaver. Best known in the gaming industry as the story producer for Dead Space. And apparently it's causes a wee stir. Or made Cliffy B upset. 

Most importantly, what's my view? I think this statement is most definitely true for the first Gears of War game. The story was bat-shit insanely loose with no fricken clear direction. To this day I still have no idea why General Raam was on that train with the so called Lightmass Bomb. Was he there to stop the bomb or kill our heroes Or both? I have no idea but he was a memorable boss ending for what it was worth. Gears 1 only became a great game because of it's look, feel, game play and full on multiplayer. 

Check Beavers comment is perhaps less true for game's 2 and 3. Game 2 was mildly crazy but then again I have no idea why we had to go inside a giant worm or some secret lab who's real context in the Gears saga was never rely explained well enough in game.

I felt Gears 3 had a clear and direct purpose: find Adam Fenix and save the day. 

dead space mask Beaver was clearly having a discussion about qaulity writing and took the time to think back on the Dead Space story as well:  "We knew so little about story back then, and overruled our writers on a lot. Dead Space was just a   simple haunted house story that we later pasted a personal aspect on top of – a lost girlfriend who is really dead. Dead Space 2 was a huge challenge. All these elements from the original game that were  poorly thought through, like the Marker Lore, Necro ecology, etc., had to move coherently forward into the next narrative. The first story we had was a wreck of unrelated events and broken structure, so we cut our teeth getting that into shape, and didn't fully make it. Plus, we got lost a bit in complicated lore and plot elements that didn't come through. And don't even get me started on the final boss sequence that they put in without me in the meeting! That was fun."

But despite this Chuck has said that his original offending words had been taken out of context. He's issued this drippy statement as a result (and following the removal of the actual issue from the EA site). 

"I just wanted to jump in and clarify some of my comments that were taken out of context about Gears of War. First, let me say that I'm a huge fan. It is an epic franchise that has trail-blazed more than a few industry-leading player experiences and mechanics. It is deservedly recognized as a top-tier title. Its success as a property is evidenced by its giant sales and rabid fan base. The industry is far better for Epic's contribution, and we all owe a great deal of inspiration to their work." 

So there we go, we can all go back to being friends?

Does this Savage Grenadier remind you of any one?

Savage Grenadier

So I spied on the internets some dude gave another dude a drawing and I thought, how nice. And then I looked at this picture of the 'Savage Grenadier' from the Gears of War series and I thought that's cool but what does that face remind me of? And then it hit me. It was a subtle nod to one of the worst movies in history.

The Savage Grenadier looks like Howard the Duck:

Howard the Duck

Now haters gonna hate so don't tell me he's got a cloth around his face or anything, aight?

Halo 3 Multiplayer still alive and kicking on the charts



I was checking out Major Nelson's Xbox promotional site and I spied the Xbox live activity chart - as you'd expect the massively popular Call of Duty games are dominating the numbers - Reach is holding it's own at 5 but I was pleased to see Halo 3 managing to stay on the charts with a solid place at 15.


LIVE Activity for week of April 9th
  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops
  3. FIFA 12
  4. Battlefield 3
  5. Halo: Reach
  6. Modern Warfare 2
  7. Skyrim
  8. Gears of War 3
  9. NBA 2K12
  10. Mass Effect 3
  11. GTA IV
  12. Forza Motorsport 4
  13. NHL12
  14. Madden NFL 12
  15. Halo 3 
  16. Saints Row: The Third
  17. Red Dead Redemption
  18. Call of Duty 4
  19. Call of Duty: World at War
  20. Sniper Elite V2 DEMO 





Come up to the lab, see what's on The Slab


Come up to the lab, see what's on The Slab

I totally missed this for sure but The Slab novel is to be released next month - the fifth Gears of War novel by Karen Travis, it's focus appears to be on the Fenix family - Adam's dealings with that nasty Queen and Marcus' term in the Prison known as the Slab - those who played the original game will recall that's where it starts - with Dom taking Marcus out of his cell. 

Here's some promo guff for the novel.

MARCUS FENIX. WAR HERO. LOYAL SON. TRAITOR.

Ten years after Emergence Day, as the Locust Horde advances on humanity’s last defended area—Ephyra—in a bloody war that has seen billions die, Marcus Fenix does the unthinkable: he defies orders and abandons his post during a critical battle in a bid to rescue his father, weapons scientist Adam Fenix. But Adam is buried in the rubble during a ferocious assault on the Fenix mansion, and Ephyra falls to the enemy. Marcus, grieving for a father everyone believes is dead, is court-martialed for dereliction of duty and sentenced to forty years in the Coalition of Ordered Government’s brutal maximum security prison, known simply as the Slab.

But Adam is very much alive, snatched from the destruction by the elite Onyx Guard on Chairman Richard Prescott’s orders. He’s now a long way from home and in a prison of his own—a COG doomsday bunker on the tropical island of Azura, a place hidden from the rest of Sera since the Pendulum Wars. His own guilty secret has been exposed: Adam knew the Locust existed deep below the surface of Sera long before Emergence Day, and were being driven from their tunnels by a lethal parasite known as the Lambent. Now he has to find a way to destroy the Lambent while the dwindling COG forces fight to hold back a growing Locust army that’s threatening to overrun the city.

As Adam struggles to find redemption in his comfortable island jail, Marcus seeks his own atonement in the squalid, closed world within the Slab’s granite walls. While Dom Santiago and Anya Stroud fight to get him released, ready to make any sacrifice to free him, Marcus gradually finds unexpected kinship among Sera’s most dangerous criminals—and a way to carry on his personal war against the Locust.

-

Cortana revealed - is she Paisha Coffey?

Paisha Coffey cortana model halo 4
Cortana as found in Halo 4
We wondered in January if Paisha Coffey was really going to be the model for Halo 4 and now that some official screen shots of Cortana from the game have been released we can have a look for ourselves and decide. This guy from reddit was pretty convinced and this facebook shot suggests it- what do you think? Is Paisha really Cortana? The nose seems a little similar.....

Fans can relax however, Jen Taylor is definitely doing the voice of Cortana for the game!

Paisha Coffey cortana model
Paisha Coffey, model

Friday, April 20

So when should the big guy sue the little guy?

bethseda's fallout
Copyright Bethseda
The recent example of how Bethseda sicked the laywers on to the Fallout Poster fan site made me think of what a tricky line it is for video game producers and publishers to walk in terms of giving the community but not letting them dictate the terms of that community.

As usual, I have to cite Bungie as the archetype for community management - they have fostered the development of Halo fans so that those fans stay loyal to the game. Even Microsoft who own the Halo intellectual property for Halo allow fans to use game content and the like on the basis that no monetary gain is made (George Lucas is a famous example of this as well). 

However fans don't own the IP so when they make posters that breach copyright or a trade mark those rights holders have to ask themselves. Is this kid worth it? Is he contributing to the community? Or are the abusing it? Are they taking a yard instead of an inch? 

Some video gamers and fanboys (and girls!) can be observed to feeling they are rights to the games themselves. Think the Mass Effect 3 ending. People were outraged that the ending to their game sucked. And then promptly demanded ME3's producers change the ending. 

But fans don't have that right. In the case of the ME3 ending DLC, they might have won this short term battle but they sure as heck have not won the war. 

The converse applies to the issue as well. If a company comes down too hard they run the risk of looking like big giant corporate bullies who don't care about their fans.

So when should the big guy sue the little guy? What do you think?

Thursday, April 19

Why the Halo movie failed by Jamie Russel


Here's a pretty succinct article by Jamie Russel on why the Halo movie fell over. It's acutally from his book: How video games invaded Hollywood

The short answer is money but it's a good read. Here's a snippet from the article:

What was apparent during the Halo deal-making was that Microsoft was far from home, perhaps even surrounded in enemy territory. In the middle of the Halo negotiations, as all parties sat around the table, Shapiro recalls the discussion between Microsoft’s Hollywood liaison Peter Schlessel and Jimmy Horowitz, Universal’s co-president of production, taking an aggressive turn. “Schlessel was getting really tough on some of the terms with Horowitz: ‘Come on, don’t be a jerk, blah, blah, blah…’. It was getting really heated. The guy from Microsoft [Steve Schrek] was like, ‘Wow, this is really good.’ Then we took a break and Schlessel goes to Horowitz, ‘Are you coming over for Passover?’ Because they know each other. You don’t have those kinds of relationships in videogames. In Hollywood you can be getting at each other but then you’re playing golf together the next day.”

Even after the deal was struck, the misunderstanding over how the movie business operated continued to be a problem. Microsoft wanted a big-name director, but Peter Jackson, helmer on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, decided to sign on as a co-producer alongside Peter Schlessel, Mary Parent and Scott Stuber.

Jackson wanted his new protégé, an up-and-coming commercials whiz kid called Neill Blomkamp, to direct. With Jackson’s fee running to several million dollars the studios knew there was an advantage in hiring a cheaper, less well-known talent to sit in the director’s chair. Microsoft was reputedly not happy with the decision.

OXM suggests a new Halo 4 gun?



The May 2012 OXM UK mag cover features the big green fulla - with a new gun? HT/ HBO

Halo 4's Neil Davidge is the lineman for the County


Halo 4 composer Neil Davidge has done an extended interview with Kotaku on the Halo score - how he got the gig, the music process and his favourite singer.....

Here's a cut from the IV:

How far along are you guys? How's it coming together?


We've clocked off about 4 hours of music. It's a huge amount of material. I think we originally signed on to create 150 minutes worth of music, [laughs] we went over that in the first couple of months of working on the project.

Something that occurred to me the other day was that in the last 18 months I've probably written more music than I have probably written in the last 18 years working with Massive Attack. The process has been so painfully slow, in many ways I feel like I've been released, and allowed to just my instincts and follow my gut on this project.

343 have been amazing in that way, and very very trusting, and allowing me to experiment and just gently prodding me every so often when I kind of go off track. [laughs] Well sometimes not quite so gently, but… for the most part, they've applauded my wish to experiment and just to see where we can go with a particular theme or piece of music. And sometimes I go too far, and I'm very aware of this, but it feels necessary when trying to flesh out a whole new universe—this story is a progression, it's a whole new story arc—it's important to me to progress the music as much as the story's progressed.

So, there was a lot of experimentation. They've given me a lot of free reign in that, and in return I've given them a huge amount of material from which they can then go and choose what is most fitting for the game. What's most fitting for that particular mission or that particular character.

Tuesday, April 17

Missed out on your free Fallout Poster?


Image Source: www.fallout-posters.com


Say you run a fan site about Fallout that allows fans to download fall out posters.... say the IP rights holder is not happy and sicks the lawyers on to you....do you take them down?
This happened to the administrator of Fallout Posters, Erling Anderson. In response to legal demands he stopped the posters from being able to be down loaded and has this to say.
"Now, I’m not out looking for trouble. I set up the website out of pure 'fandom', and the last thing I wanted – or expected – was to be threatened with a lawsuit by Bethesda," Andersen wrote. "What pisses me off isn’t the fact that they’re looking out for their trademark – as they have every right to do so. What I’m pissed about are large companies abusing their monetary power, hiring global law firms to go after a fan online, immediately threating with a lawsuit.
Anderson then went on to say 
"Had they had the slighest bit of PR-savyness, they would have shot me a quick personal mail asking me to remove the (supposed) infringing content – and preferrably sent me some nice Fallout-swag as a nice gesture (yes, I am that corrupt)."

Erling wrote the lawyers back a sweet little letter on his blog but  he's had no response to date. I wonder if Bethseda will take it further given the publicity that's resulted. 
What do you think? Should this fan art be allowed to stay on the interwebs?

Halo 4 release date announced


halo 4 release date

Master Chief Returns With Worldwide Launch of "Halo 4" Beginning Nov. 6

Marking the return of gaming's most iconic hero, the first chapter of a brand new "Halo" saga is the year's most anticipated video game release.

REDMOND, Wash. — April 17, 2012 — The countdown has begun for the landmark entertainment event millions of fans worldwide have been anticipating for more than four years. "Halo 4," the hotly anticipated sequel to the iconic franchise that has shaped entertainment history, will launch worldwide on Nov. 6, 2012.

"Halo 4" marks the return of legendary hero Master Chief, named by Fast Company as "one of the most popular characters in gaming history1," and aims to set a new standard for blockbuster interactive entertainment with the launch. Set four years after the events in "Halo 3," Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe. Developed by 343 Industries, "Halo 4" marks a new beginning for the landmark entertainment franchise that has sold more than 40 million games worldwide and inspired multiple New York Times best-selling novels, live-action shorts, comic books, action figures and apparel.

"We are beginning a new saga with 'Halo 4' and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of 'Halo' games and experiences," said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. "Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief, and, with 'Halo 4' leading the charge, we're confident 2012 will be the most successful year in Xbox history."

"Halo 3," the biggest consumer product launch of all time when it released in 20072, concluded the original game trilogy, but left many unanswered questions around the fates of the series' beloved hero, the Master Chief, and his artificial intelligence companion, Cortana. On Nov. 6, fans will experience the next chapter of the iconic franchise. Tonight, Conan O'Brien will help celebrate this fall's launch of "Halo 4" with a special segment on "CONAN" on TBS at 11 p.m. PDT/10 p.m. CDT. Those interested should tune in and check out http://www.teamcoco.com or follow @TeamCoco on Twitter for updates and more details.

About 343 Industries
343 Industries is the publisher and developer of the blockbuster "Halo" series of videogames and, as part of Microsoft Studios, oversees the "Halo" franchise, including novels, comics, licensed collectibles, apparel and more. 343 Industries is home to world-class developers working on the "Halo" "Reclaimer Saga," which commences with the arrival of "Halo 4" on Nov. 6, 2012, exclusively on Xbox 360.

About Xbox 360
Xbox 360 is a premier home entertainment and video game system. Thanks to the addition of Kinect, Xbox 360 will forever transform social gaming and entertainment with a whole new way to play — no controller required. Xbox 360 is also home to the best and broadest games as well as one of the world's largest on-demand libraries of music, standard- and high-definition movies, TV shows and digital games, all in one place. The entertainment center of the living room, Xbox 360 blends unbeatable content with a leading social entertainment network of 40 million Xbox LIVE members to create a limitless entertainment experience that can be shared at home or across the globe. More information about Xbox 360 can be found online at http://www.xbox.com.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

1 Source: Fast Company: Why It Feels Good To Get Inside Master Chief's Helmet
2 "Halo 3" generated $170 million in 24 hours in the U.S., surpassing the $125 million day-one record set by "Halo 2" (2004).

Sunday, April 15

Justin Beiber's Mass Effect


Justin Bieber Mass Effect?
What does Justin Bieber have to do with Mass Effect? This cartoon apparently

As found on Kotaku.

Josh Holmes chats about why he's doing Halo 4

Cortana on the forward unto dawn artwork
Cortana needs to wake the chief up
Check out Josh Holmes, who you perhaps recognise creative director of Halo 4 talkng about how he first played Halo and why he joined 343 Industries to make his own Halo game.  


Watch the video here

Thursday, April 12

JJ Reviews: Primordium by Greg Bear

You might have read how much I loved Greg Bear's Halo: Cryptum and that within a short while of reading the last page I had ordered the second in the saga, Primordium. I'm gonna assume you've read Cryptum too as I review it. So do I need to say spoilers?

halo primordium cover
JJ Reviews: Primordium by Greg Bear

Opening with a very quick recap of the events of Cryptum, it's immeadiately clear that this story is a retelling of an adventure that happened to one of the characters from that novel, Chakas. The twist is that he appears to not be himself any more. Is he a collection of thoughts on a disk drive? Has he turned into another being? All, I'm sure is to be revealed.

Chakas finds himself crash landed on a Halo and perhaps almost too quickly falls in love (of a kind) with a local 'inhabitant'. From memory, the Halo games have never shown us as having intelligent life (other than plants and the odd bird) so this sets up an interesting premise.

But it's a premise that takes a little time to really get into gear. As a hero and his two new best friends seek out the abandoned city where Riser might be found, we basically learn nothing except that there are rabbits on the Halo.

But once we are passed that minor hurdle Greg Bear settles into the narrative, drop nice little hints and references along the way about the Librarian, geas and the unspoken plan to keep the reader interested. Which is the point of a book right? (You can tell Jimmy Jangles doesn't have a career in book reviewing ahead of him - Ed.)

Finally (and I really do mean finally as it's a bit of a slog) there's a real sinister turn taken where we realise that the Precursor that was revealed to be alive on the last page of Cryptum is alive and well on Halo and seemingly in charge of the bloody thing. Talk about a bad turn... At least  Chakas has found Riser and they start a great journey, the end of which signals the climax of the plot arc.

Things come to a head. Our hero is confronted with saving the Halo so that it can be used against the Foreunners but does he want that?

The ending largely wraps up well, an adventure here, a near death (?) experince there, souls long dead revived through geas to give us context there, an old warrior servant wreaking havoc there and we're done.

The twist, if you could call it that, was obvious and I'd wondered if that was it a few chapters into the main story but fitted in nicely to traditional Halo lore, so I'll give big ups to Greg Bear for that.

Was I satisfied with Primordium? Not really. I found the journey to get the climax long and ponderous. Some of the detail in describing things was so vague as to not be helpful and the climax itself was a convoluted array of ghosts, monitors and walking corpses. That said, it was ultimately a good ending, perhaps just not as exciting as that of Cryptum.

I did feel however that Cryptum and Primordium were both written at same time as the same book, just split in two. I would bet Greg Bear and his 'Halo team' had the trilogy's essential elements well plotted before the writing began (thus meaning a a huge epic novel could have been written - but where's the money in that?!).

Thus the scene is set for the third novel in the The Forerunners Saga. Or is it? The third, as yet not named book, is going to only be released after Halo 4.... which you might recall Frankie having said the novels feed directly into that game. It will thus be interesting to see how Halo 4's plot will influence or echo that third novel.

Wednesday, April 11

What does Massive Attack have to do with Halo 4?

Recording sessions for the Halo 4 soundtrack
Recording sessions for the Halo 4 soundtrack
What does Massive Attack have to do with Halo 4?


The link is round about in the that composer Neil Davidge is the lead composer for the Halo 4 soundtrack. David produced Massive Attacks' albums, perhaps most notably Mezzanine.

Neil Davidge halo 4 composer
Neil Davidge
He's now landed the role of the Halo 4 composer and had this to say:

“Music has always been at the heart of what makes Halo so captivating and iconic. With Halo 4, we want to build upon the franchise’s amazing legacy and create a score that captures the awe and wonder of the Halo universe, and reinforces the deeper and more emotionally impactful journey Master Chief will embark on.” Which sounds like complete PR spin to me ;)

This vidoc however strongly suggests he and 343 are on the right track for Halo 4's soundtrack.



Sotaro Tojima, Audio Director for Halo 4 had this to say of Neil "When we met up, it was perfect—I discovered that he was a huge fan of the Halo series and had an equally strong passion for matching the next Halo score with his technique and experience. He was also willing and, indeed, enthusiastic to have strong communication, collaboration, and tough iteration with 343 to build something really special with Halo fans in mind. We were exactly on the same page! For me, there was no reason to look any further."
And here's a sample of the music released by 343:



What do you think? Does the music sound like Halo? Is it too different? I reckon it's it's pretty epic with some nice chord changes.

You can download a short sample track right here - thanks 343!

Tuesday, April 10

Gears of War: Exile canned by Bleszinski

gears of war exile

You might recall the stir that hit the interwebs last year when it was noticed that Gears of War: Exile had been trade marked.

It was supposedly going to be announced at a trade event but that got axed.  It was rumoured to be a Kinect based game.

Gears of War producer lead guy dude Cliff Blezsinksi told Gamepot "Let's just bury the hatchet now, Gears of War: Exile was an unannounced game that I can't give any details about that has since been cancelled."

So there you have it, we'll just have to see if any thing Gears related is announced....





How a Halo blogger reaches out via Twitter


Here's a post I thought I'd write for Twitip but it appears to be a dormant site so here you go...

A fair while I ago was delighted that Twitip chose to publish a couple of articles I wrote, 'You know you're addicted to twitter when' and 'The Angels and Demons Guide to Good Twitter Etiquette'. Since that time I've just got on with the job of blogging and using twitter to reach out to my readers. I thought I'd share what I've learned.

How a Halo blogger reaches out via Twitter


Halo is a massively popular series of games for the Xbox 360 and I’m a bit of a Halo nut and soon enough I created Gears of Halo, a blog dedicated to promoting and sharing the ‘fan boy love’ for Halo and other video games I enjoy.

The blog has been steadily building a faithful audience and I believe a stong part of this reader growth is due to using a dedicated Halo Twitter account.

Here’s the lessons I learnt on the way.
  • Bite the bullet, forget your general twitter account and create a new account directly for your blog. It allows like to match to like – people who are only interested in your subject but not what you did on Saturday night will appreciate it. 
  • Follow movers and shakers in your subject niche. I go for two sets of people. The producers of the video games and their industry associates. Another other group to target were the other fans who are clearly ‘talkers’ about Halo games. I know they sometimes check my site out and occasionally give out a RT. 
  • Link your blog posts to your twitter account so when you publish a post, a tweet announcing the fact is made to your followers. Set the tweet so it’s clear it is a ‘New Post’ tweet. I use Twitterfeed
  • Retweet news that other twitter folk come up with or create. This could help you noticed by the watchers and lurkers as being being someone with your finger on the pulse. When it’s time for you to show off your “L33T skillz”, they may just give you a RT. 
  • Come to the party. In the Halo universe and other genres there are plenty of colourful characters – some have taken these over to the Twitterverse and tweet in character – playful engagement with these types of twitterers can help get you noticed in your subject area. Check out the famous Darth Vader twitter account as an example. The twitter force is strong with that one!
  • Write a blog post about the Top Ten People to follow on Twitter in your niche. Let those people know about it and being flattered, they might just retweet the post giving you more exposure. Trust me, it works! 
  • Aim to have more people following you than you follow yourself. It’s a ‘people like them so I'll like them’ psychology. I suspect there’s some kind of mental accounting people do when deciding whether to follow someone – having more followers than you follow might suggest your audience is more than just your friends and thus are worth following. 
  • That said, anytime a follower engages with you, consider following them back. It may help cement their loyalty to you, your twitter account and perhaps more importantly, your blog. 
  • How do you get more followers? Make it clear on your blog you have a twitter account. Invite people to follow you. I have a note at the bottom of every post, suggesting people follow. 
It's my conclusion that as a result of having a dedicated twitter account with followers that are specifically interested in your website’s subject matter, you're more likely to get more readers of your posts than without it.

Those readers are perhaps also more likely to engage with you on the site, for instance, they might leave comments.

Lastly, as your ‘authority’ as an being an expert within your subject niche grows, so does the chance that that authority will create more authority by way of new followers and increased through-put readership of your blog.

Now, how l33t are your retweet skillz?

ME3 Resurgence pack DLC is free!


Bioware have been busy with Mass Effect stuff lately with the patch release, the Extended Cut and now some new free DLC for ME3 multiplayer fans comes in the form of Resurgence pack.

I wonder in light of the fiasco around the ending (which I kinda liked) that Bioware chose not to charge a fee for the DLC so as to keep fans happy...? What do you think?

You can down load the DLC right now. 

Here's the promotional guff from Bioware.

Join the war for Earth in Mass Effect 3! Owners of Mass Effect 3 can download the first multiplayer expansion for no additional cost. The Mass Effect 3 Resurgence Pack adds new unlockable content: deadly weapons, new consumables, and powerful characters for each class in multiplayer, including the Asari Justicar, Batarian, Geth, and Krogan Battlemaster. Additionally, the Mass Effect 3 Resurgence Pack also includes 2 new maps, Firebase Condor and Firebase Hydra. Download this pack on April 10th and take the battle online in the critically acclaimed Mass Effect 3 multiplayer experience.

NEW CHARACTERS



CHARACTERS

Asari Justicar Adept


Asari are fierce, graceful warriors. They are incredibly powerful natural biotics. The asari excel at hit-and-run tactics that ruthlessly eliminate their opponents from the battlefield.

Krogan Battlemaster Vanguard


Krogan Vanguards are a brutish specimen. These fully mature krogan might be old and slow, but their biotic charge ability makes up for it. Their heavy shields and ability in close makes them a menace on the battlefield.

Geth Infiltrator

Geth Infiltrators converge quickly on a target while remaining undetected. Their unique perception systems give Geth Infiltrators an unsurpassed understanding of the battlefield.

Geth Engineer
Geth Engineers are elite support specialists. Their unique perception systems give Geth Engineers an unsurpassed understanding of the battlefield.

Batarian Soldier & Sentinel

Batarians are large brawlers that use nets and spiked weapons to capture targets… or to bleed them dry on the battlefield. If an opponent gets too close, a Batarian bludgeons them with spiked armor and enforcement gauntlets.

NEW MAPS







MAPS

• Firebase Condor – A warzone outpost located on one of Palaven’s moons, Firebase Condor represents a crucial asset in the defense of the Turian homeworld, providing the beleaguered turian fleet with a place to refuel and repair. Its loss could grant the Reapers unparalleled access to the Inner Council Theatre.

• Firebase Hydra – Firebase Hydra is located in an old abandoned Quarian colony which humans took over when they originally settled the world of Ontarom. It has since been converted into a massive dam facility which powers the communications hub located at Firebase Dagger and the kinetic barrier which protects it. Without this critical power source, Systems Alliance communications within the entire theatre would go dark.

NEW WEAPONS

WEAPONS

• Striker Assault Rifle – Krogan rifle with explosive rounds. Its rate of fire increases when the trigger is held.
• Kishock Harpoon Gun – Deadly one-shot batarian weapon. Causes bleed-out or disruption of target.
• Geth Plasma SMG – Fully-automatic geth submachine gun. Its rate of fire increases when the trigger is held.

FAQ

When is the Resurgence Pack available?


The Resurgence Pack is available on April 10th for Xbox 360 and PC worldwide. For PlayStation 3 owners the pack will be available on April 10th in North American and April 11th in Europe.
What exactly is included in the Resurgence Pack?

Firebase Hydra and Firebase Condor are available to play on as soon as the Resurgence Pack is downloaded. The new weapons, characters, and equipment are available as rewards inside Reinforcement Packs.

How many new characters are there total?


There is a new character for each class in the game, so 6 new characters to play as total. There are also new races introduced including the Geth and Batarians.

Does each new character come with new abilities?


Yes the new characters will have their own unique abilities and loadouts.

How much does the Resurgence Pack cost to download?

The Resurgence Pack is available at no additional cost for Mass Effect 3 game owners.

ME3 bug fix patch to be released today

samara cosplay rana

A patch to improve Mass Effect 3's performance has been released. Details below which fix bugs and glitches across all three platforms on which it was released.

Patch Notes:

April 9th – PC
April 10th – Xbox and PS3
  • Fixed issues when in some cases Shepard’s customized facial features from ME1/ME2 may not be properly imported to ME3
  • Fixed an issue when quickly and repeatedly selecting to Resume a Save could result in Player Level reset and a potential locking of powers.
  • Fixed an issue when selecting Multiplayer in the Main Menu while under a poor network connection could result in an unresponsive state.
  • Fixed a potential crash while accessing an in-game terminal from Eden Prime level.
  • Fixed an issue when attempting to login while Server is down. It would display a Server Down message and accepting the Server Shutdown message would shut down the game.
  • Fixed a potential memory crash while loading a Quick Save of a custom FemShep.
  • Fixed an issue when restarting missions and acquiring an above max amount of weapon mods results in displayed debug text on-screen.
  • Fixed an issue when an unresponsive game state could occur during transition after the Conduit level.
  • Fixed an issue when DLC game saves can be accessed from an account without DLC if another account on the same computer has access to the related DLC. (PC Only)
  • Fixed an issue when saves from different accounts on the same computer may become locked if one account has access to DLC which the other account does not. (PC Only)
  • Fixed an issue when potentially the game could enter unresponsive state when transitioning from the Holding Docks area to the Normandy Docks area of the Citadel. (PS3 Only)
Perhaps more importantly Bioware has also announced their will be an Extended Cut DLC that enhances the ME3 ending.

Incredible Mass Effect 3 Cosplay from Pax

thane from mass effect cosplay


Incredible Mass Effect 3 Cosplay from Pax

It seems to me that Mass Effect cosplayers might be the best in costume play out there. Check out these images of the cos play action from the recent PAX event.


tali cosplay mass effect
Tali

Samara


mass effect mordin cosplay
Mordin. No word on what the cosplayer sang...
Thane again and a certain doctor...

Check out some more Mass Effect costume players.

Screenshots from Assassin's Creed III revealed

assassin's creed 3 screenshot

Assasin's Creed 3 Screenshots revealed 

Assassin's Creed 3 in game screen shots have been released - check out what the next version of the blockbuster game series will look like. I'm sure you'll agree these images are a vast improvement on the prior games - no doubt due to a new game engine....

Monday, April 9

How many hours does the average player play Skyrim for?

skyrim dragon

According to Skyrim's producers, the average playtime for Skyrim players is around 85 hours. A another remarkable stat puts my 30 - 40 odd hours on Mass Effect to shame as well - nearly thirty percent of players have put in over of a hundred in-game hours in the world of Skyrim.

I imagine the fact that DLC is soon to be annnounced means those play hours will only increase....

What's the most amount of hours you've put into a video game? I'd hate to think how many hours I've clocked up on Halo's various multiplayer versions!

Just blow in the cartridge

just blow in the cartridge

As found on IGN's Google Plus.

Requiem for a Halo 4 Dream


cortana halo 4 concept art


The Game Informer article leak has confirmed a few things for the new Halo 4 game.

Halo 4 takes place four and a half years after the events of Halo 3 when Cortana wakes up the Chief after detecting an alien intruder aboard what is left of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn.

The ship eventually crashes onto the planet Requiem, which is enclosed in a Dyson Shell. There's been a lot of speculation about what Requiem actually was so some fans will be pleased they were right.

We now know that we haven't quite got rid of the Covenant, however, the Chiefs main enemy is a new 'faction' that the article describes as being “kind of elevated in terms of their intelligence and complexity relative to the Covenant.”

This info is all kinda sketchy and just taken from fan sites around the place - things might change with the official release of the Game Informer magazine...

Some Halo 4 Game Informer Leak news


master chief halo 4

Some Halo 4 Game Informer Leak news

Multiplayer – It’s red versus blue.

 Mulitipayer with take place on a 3km long training ship for Spartan IV’s (for reference, Master Chief is a Spartan II and Noble Team were III’s). Red Vs Blue must be a nod to the long running series by Rooster Teeth

Run Forrest

Sprint is now a standard for everyone. The hologram, jetpack, and active camo will be making a return as well There is one new armor ability called Forerunner vision. It lets you see through walls.

Spawn

There is no more respawn delay, this has been removed entirely in favour of immediate respawns in Slayer games.

Spartan Points

Use Spartan Points for buying in game items. So basically Halo: Reach’s credits with a new name

Joining while games in progress

Sounds like you can avoid the lobby if you want!

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC formally announced

mass effect concept art

So I went to a place that had no internet for four days and came back to this encouraging press release from Bioware regarding the Mass Effect ending. As they promised, they've had a think and have decided to release a DLC.
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An official press release went out today announcing how we are re-prioritizing the Mass Effect 3 post release content schedule to provide a more fleshed out experience for our fans. For many of you the “Extended Cut” will help answer some questions and give closure to this chapter of the Mass Effect story. Oh and it’s at no cost to you – the fan.

Here is a mini FAQ to help you understand what the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut is and isn’t:

What can fans expect from the Extended Cut DLC?
For fans who want more closure in Mass Effect 3, the DLC will offer extended scenes that provide additional context and deeper insight to the conclusion of Commander Shepard’s journey.

Are there going to be more/different endings or ending DLCs in the future?
No. BioWare strongly believes in the team’s artistic vision for the end of this arc of the Mass Effect franchise. The extended cut DLC will expand on the existing endings, but no further ending DLC is planned.

What is BioWare adding to the ending with the Extended Cut DLC?
BioWare will expanding on the ending to Mass Effect 3 by creating additional cinematics and epilogue scenes to the existing ending sequences. The goal of these new scenes is to provide additional clarity and closure to Mass Effect 3.

When will the Extended Cut DLC be available?
Currently the Extended Cut DLC is planned for this summer, no specific date has been announced at this point.

Why are you releasing the Extended Cut DLC?
Though we remain committed and are proud of the artistic choices we made in the main game, we are aware that there are some fans who would like more closure to Mass Effect 3. The goal of the DLC is not to provide a new ending to the game, rather to offer fans additional context and answers to the end of Commander Shepard’s story.

Will there be more Mass Effect 3 DLC?

More content is being planned and we will release information at a later date.

So there you have it. Are we proud of the game we made and the team that made it? Hell yes. Are we going to change the ending of the game? No. Do we appreciate the passion and listen to the feedback delivered to us by our fans? Very much so and we are responding.

Summer is coming…

Wednesday, April 4

Bungie's Goodbye Sweetheart Halo Wallpaper

good bye sweet heart bungie wall paper

Bungie's Goodbye to Halo Wallpaper known as "Goodbye Sweetheart" is a pretty impressive look back across the Halo games.

Right click and 'save as' to get the wallpaper for yourself!

As found on Bungie's homepage. Check out the good bye multiplayer statistics!

Remembering Commander Keen


Gears of Halo has been talking about Mass Effect lately but before there was the Normandy, before Eden Prime and the Geth, before Miranda Lawson and before the Reapers, and before there was Commander Sheppard there was the ultimate Commander, Commander Keen.

Billy Blaze would jump around on a pogo stick avoiding green aliens and shooting robots with his laser gun and it was the coolest thing around at the time for my thirteen / 15 year old year old self. Except maybe Lemmings....

Commander Keen taught me about looking for hints and tricks in games. A secret message there, a subtle joke there. It was very original in many facets of its workings.

tom hall commander keen
Classic Tom Hall pose
A bit of of history of the game's birth tells that three men made it possible. Tom Hall, John Romero and John Carmack banded together in their 'off time' at a company called Softdisk but they eventually left to form the company ID.

I recall the first episode was shareware which was a pretty cool idea back in the day. Indeed the 3DRealms site says "The entire first episode of Keen was released to the world as shareware. The idea was that you got a good sense of what it looks like and feels like, and if you liked it, you paid for it - and obtained the remaining parts of the game"

The game was released in December 1990 "Gamers who wanted the next two levels had to pay for them - and pay they did. In January, the ID guys got their first royalty check, for approximately $10,000." They didn't look back after that.

commander keen billy blaze cosplay
Billy Blaze cosplay
John and Tom went on to become involved in Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake.

Those three games became genuine gaming phenomenons in their own right.  I think a lot of modern games such as Halo and the like have a wee duty of debt to such games.

I see that Commander Keen is available for download on the Steam service - I'd buy the game if there was an ipad version! Can someone make that happen?

Tuesday, April 3

Mass Effect writer interview: John Dombrow

krogan concept art mass effect
Nicked from the Bioware Blog. The cynic in me suggests this was released to take some heat off Casey Hudson but it's probably just part of Bioware's community reach programme..... either way it's a very good insight into a video game writer's frame of mind and sense of purpose.

Who are you and what is your role at BioWare?

I’m John Dombrow and I’m a senior writer on the Mass Effect 3 team.

What is the best part about your job?

Having the job! When Mass Effect 1 came out in 2007, I was a BioWare fan like so many others. I ran over to Gamestop on release day and snagged a copy because all the previews I’d seen about the game looked amazing. I remember playing it and thinking “Wow, this Garrus guy is cool” or “This Wrex guy sure is a bad-ass” and then pondering all the questions that Mass Effect 1 posed like “I wonder what’s going to happen with this genophage problem?” Or “What were Protheans really like?”

So jump ahead to 2010 when I’m working on Mass Effect 3 and I got the writing assignments for bringing closure to the genophage issue, writing Wrex, writing Garrus, and writing our Prothean squadmate, Javik. And BioWare was going to pay me to do that? Wow. It was a dream come true, taking the passion I felt as a fan of Mass Effect 1 and applying it as a writer to Mass Effect 3.

What does an average day look like for you?

That depends on what stage we’re at in the project. Early in Mass Effect 3’s development it was all about meetings and brainstorming, trying to hash out the basics of a mission as we gradually worked our way towards a more detailed vision. All of that happened on paper. Then once we had approved mission documents and moved into production, the day was spent writing scenes, revising them, going to review meetings as the mission gradually took shape – artwork, level design, combat, cinematics, audio, VO dialogue –all of that started to work its way into the mission, getting more and more refined as we went. I’d play my missions constantly, assess what was working and what wasn’t, make adjustments, and so on. Then once everything was at a more finalized state, it was all about polish and bug-fixing, ironing out the kinks, trying to make it as perfect an experience as you can. The trick is you could have several missions that were your responsibility, so you’re doing all of this across multiple missions which could all be at various stages of the process. Writers at BioWare quickly learn how to juggle!

Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments working in game development?

Lately, that would be experiencing the Tuchanka genophage mission. I had spent so much time thinking about it and then writing it, that to finally see it in all its final glory, with finished cinematics, music and sound FX, was incredible. I was so proud that we’d hit all the emotional beats we had hoped to hit and successfully brought closure to a complex issue with all the characters fans had come to love. Even better, was seeing the fan reaction to the mission. As a writer you hope that maybe once in your career, no matter the medium, you’ll emotionally move people, and I was so proud to see that was happening to players when they finished this mission. And I stress “we” because a mission of that size, scope, and ambition doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s a true team effort.

I had an awesome level designer, Dave Feltham, who was in sync with the story, the themes, and what the mission was all about and how to pack with all these amazing action moments. Boyd McKenzie’s artwork was incredible, and then I worked with two great cinematic designers, John Ebenger and Richard Boisvert to bring the scenes alive, along with our cinematics team that handled the Reaper vs. Thresher Maw fight. Then another writer, the very talented Patrick Weekes, who had created Mordin in Mass Effect 2, got involved in shaping and writing Mordin’s final goodbye in this mission to give him a proper sendoff (along with one last chance for Mordin to sing a song). Add the final touches with sound and music from our audio department, and all cylinders were firing. There’s pride in that – pride in knowing you and your colleagues have brought your “A” game to the table, infused it with all your own individual talents, and created something whose sum is greater than its parts.

What’s a geeky thing about you?

I like to go back once in awhile and play old Infocom text adventures. Zork, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Lurking Horror, Planetfall – I still get a kick out of them. There’s something about a blank cursor waiting for you to make your move that gives you the illusion of total freedom.

Do you have any advice for those wishing to get into the video game industry?

Find what you’re good at and then keep getting better at it. Whether it’s writing, designing levels, creating sound FX, doing concept art – you’re only as good as your product. You should play games all the time, see what works, what doesn’t, and learn from the successes and failures of others. But also be realistic – you’re not going to land your first job in the industry as Lead Designer. Be prepared and willing to work hard starting from the ground floor, improve your craft, and eventually you can get where you want go.

If you weren’t working in the industry, what would you be doing?

Banging on the door trying to get into the industry. Failing that, when I was a kid I seriously wanted to be director of the CIA. I’m not sure why, but I had this phase where that seemed like a legitimate career goal. Now I think back and wonder – huh? What was I thinking? Because I had it all planned out – I knew how I was going to win the Cold War, which countries I’d recommend we invade, where I was going to send my spies on missions, and how I was going to read all the top secret files about UFOs.

What are you currently playing, reading, or listening to?

I’m playing Skyrim followed by more Skyrim. Very addictive game. Book-wise, I’m in the middle of reading Guillermo del Toro’s third novel of his vampire trilogy, The Night Eternal. As for music – I’m pretty much a movie soundtrack guy most of the time. I find soundtracks provide the best inspiration for writing. Everything I did in Mass Effect 3 was inspired by some particular piece of movie music. And when I get tired of that, there’s always the aforementioned Patrick Weekes, who will gladly burst into song and give us all a Mordin tune whenever we ask for it.