PAX Prime, probably by far the largest ongoing event spawned by a web comic, is in progress right now in Seattle, with an attendance of 70,000 gamers (and a smaller number of dancing stormtroopers). Two big announcements about future PAX events were announced on Saturday. The first is that next year's event will be a four-day gathering rather than the thus-far usual three; the second is that, some time next year, PAX will make its first international foray, with an event in Australia — exact time and place to be determined.
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samazon writes "Earlier today, City of Heroes community manager Andy Belford announced that NCSoft is shutting down Paragon Studios. Over 7,500 individuals were viewing the official CoH forums as of 3:00 PM EST, and this thread from Belford, AKA Zwilinger, notes that 'In a realignment of company focus and publishing support, NCsoft has made the decision to close Paragon Studios. Effective immediately, all development on City of Heroes will cease and we will begin preparations to sunset the world's first, and best, Super Hero MMORPG before the end of the year.' A petition has already been created to save City of Heroes."
kungfugleek writes "Throughout the launch of subscription-free MMO Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet has stated that the player-experience is their top priority and, if necessary, they would suspend digital sales to protect their servers from crushing loads. While the launch has been considerably more stable than most big-budget MMO's in recent months, some players, especially those in Europe, have experienced trouble logging in and getting booted from servers. So yesterday, ArenaNet held true to their word, and temporarily suspended digital sales from their website. Personally, I think this is an incredible show of customer-centered focus. To turn down purchases, especially first-party purchases, where the seller gets a higher percentage of the sale, during a major title's first week of sales, would be inconceivable by other companies. Is this a bad move for ArenaNet? Will there be enough of a long-term payout to make up for the lost sales? And does this put pressure on other major studios to follow suit in the face of overwhelming customer response?" New submitter charlieman writes with related news: "Yesterday ArenaNet banned players for exploiting an error in their new game Guild Wars 2. The so called exploit was in fact an error on ArenaNet's side, leaving weapons at a low price from some vendors. Players saw this and started making profits buying and selling the items. Should players be penalized for errors committed by the game developers? Taking in account that the game is fairly new, the economy hasn't stabilized yet and most don't know the value of things. Today they've given these players a 'second chance', but shouldn't they be apologizing instead?"
Cheeze ball writes "Due to the level of support provided by their forums community, Runic Games has released the Torchlight 2 release date early. Torchlight 2 will be available on 20 September 2012. The 'official' announcement is tomorrow at PAX, where the game is available for play. The forums have been very supportive of the dev team, primarily because of the team's responsiveness in posting weekly updates and the way the beta test was conducted. This support prompted Runic to inform its forum community first." If you're curious how the game is shaping up, Eurogamer has a thorough preview from a few months ago.
An anonymous reader writes "Intel's Open-Source Technology Center was given source-code access to Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 game in order to help them fix Linux bugs and to better optimize their graphics driver to this forthcoming Linux native game on the Source Engine. Intel has talked about their Valve Linux development experiences and now they managed to get Left 4 Dead 2 running on their open-source graphics driver. Valve also has grown fond of open-source hardware drivers: 'Valve Linux developers have also been happy looking at an open-source graphics driver. Valve Linux developers found it equally thrilling that now when hitting a bottleneck in their game or looking for areas for performance optimizations, they are simply able to look into Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver to understand how an operation is handled by the hardware, tossing some extra debugging statements into the Intel driver to see what's happening, and making other driver tweaks.'"
An anonymous reader sends this quote from Geek.com: "PS3 gamers may now never get access to the content in Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC. That's the news coming out of Bethesda via their forums. Administrator and global community lead Gstaff posted an update on the state of PS3 DLC for the game, and it's not looking great. Gstaff explains that releasing sizeable DLC is a complex issue, and it seems like for the PS3 it might be just a bit too complex. No detail is given as to what the specific problem is, but Bethesda is preparing PS3 gamers for the reality that Dawnguard, and for that matter any other Skyrim DLC, may never reach the platform. I'd like to know what the exact problem is they can't overcome, but I'd also like to know if this is a failing on Bethesda's part or a shortcoming of the PS3 architecture. Maybe Sony should pay Bethesda a visit and see what's going on." In other Skyrim news, a mod for the game that attempted to recreate J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, has received a Cease & Desist letter from Warner Bros, causing development to stop.
cold fjord writes "Is this the end of the world . . . of Warcraft? Maybe for Iranian gamers who are undergoing a forced morale check due to tightening sanctions cutting access to their game of choice. From the article: 'Iranian players of "World of Warcraft" ... have found themselves frozen out by Blizzard Activision Inc., the American company behind the game. Iranian role playing enthusiasts have spent much of the past week peppering Blizzard's message board with complaints about how they weren't able to log on to the service — only to be told recently that U.S. law was to blame. "United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran," the company said in an email sent to players last week...'" Thanks to the sanctions, they can't get refunds either.
An editorial at IGN discusses healthy (and unhealthy) ways to play video games. The author says that while gaming is a perfectly legitimate hobby, it needs to be approached with moderation and an understanding of what you get out of playing. Without understanding your motivations and compulsions, it's quite possible to play video games in a way that's detrimental. From the article: "Games, especially modern ones, revolve around the principle that if you put the time in, you will be rewarded. Many gamers claim to not understand how anyone could put up with grinding in a video game. But grinding is comforting. Grinding tells us that, no matter what, if you keep playing you'll become more powerful. ... The real world does not operate this way. You can 'grind' at a job for 10 years and still be laid off. You can 'grind' at your physical health your whole life but if you switch to an unhealthy lifestyle you will immediately begin losing this progress. ... It's important for gamers to have mastery of their own mind. Are you grinding out a level in World of Warcraft because you're truly enjoying the experience, or are you doing it to replace missing feelings of self-worth that you don't want to confront? Do you revel in your virtual successes to avoid the uncomfortable internal dialogue regarding of your abandoned gym routine? Are you playing games because you're having fun, or because you have an unconfronted fear of failure?
Dave Carter, who works at the University of Michigan's Computer and Video Game Archive. He deals with video games, from the oldest hand-helds and consoles to the newest Xbox and PC games and controllers. A lot of his time is no doubt spent fixing things that break, finding obscure games, being generally helpful, and making sure nobody breaks the games, consoles, computers, controllers, and even board games and memorabilia in the collection. But still, this has got to be the ultimate job for a game junkie. And it looks like a great place to visit, because this museum is part of a library, and just as a library encourages you to pick up books and read them, this is a place where you can actually play the games, not just stare at a ColecoVision console in a display case. You can play in a cubicle or, for games that take some space, there are a couple of big gaming rooms with soft-looking sofas and big flat-screen TVs, where you can jump up and down like crazy while you're doing Guitar Hero or using a Wii or Kinect. And if you can't make it to Ann Arbor, MI, there's an informative blog that's all about video games past and present that's must reading for almost any serious gamer.
An anonymous reader writes "As a kid in the late 1970s and the 1980s, Dungeons and Dragons, as well as many other fine tabletop roleplaying games, figured heavily in my life. From learning about various forms of governments (theocracies, oligarchies, etc.) and Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology, to what N.B. and et al. mean, to the social glue that enabled people like me to get together, write cool adventures, problem-solve, and have a blast doing it all, role playing games were a powerful force in my life. The thing is, I still enjoy playing them. A lot. I get together once a month with friends and we play for sometimes up to eight straight hours of epic battles, puzzles, legends, lore, and camaraderie. All of this, unfortunately, seems totally alien to someone who did not grow up with RPGs and who has never experienced the sheer joy of a dungeon crawl. Have you ever had to explain to your spouse or significant other why you value gaming so much, or why it is ok to spend a hunk of time with other gamers? How do you begin to relate it all to them?"
Croakyvoice writes "In what seems to be the 'in thing' at the moment comes another auction to add to last month's Zelda NES auction and that crazy million dollar collection. This time, for RPG fans, this could be classed as the Holy Grail of NES games. The game in question is Final Fantasy 2, which was never released outside of Japan, but luckily for the person who at this time is selling this on eBay for 50K, there was one made for the 1991 Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by SquareSoft. Sadly, the U.S. version never had a release because they decided to work on the Super NES instead."
crookedvulture writes "For years, PC hardware sites have maintained that CPUs have little impact on gaming performance; all you need is a decent graphics card. That position is largely supported by FPS averages, but the FPS metric doesn't tell the whole story. Examining individual frame latencies better exposes the brief moments of stuttering that can disrupt otherwise smooth gameplay. Those methods have now been used to quantify the gaming performance of 18 CPUs spanning three generations. The results illustrate a clear advantage for Intel, whose CPUs enjoy lower frame latencies than comparable offerings from AMD. While the newer Intel processors perform better than their predecessors, the opposite tends to be true for the latest AMD chips. Turns out AMD's Phenom II X4 980, which is over a year old, offers lower frame latencies than the most recent FX processors."
YokimaSun writes "The world of Homebrew Coding never ceases to amaze, even on an old system like the Atari 2600 a coder over at the Atariage forums has released a clone of the original Nes game Super Mario Bros with video, which has the first level from the classic game and eventually will have the first four worlds. Equally as impressive is this 3D Mario game written for the Sega Saturn."
Deathspawner writes "The future of PC gaming is oft-debated, but one thing's for certain: modding has always made it better. With that, wouldn't it make sense for developers to focus more on giving the community the modding tools it needs? Further, couldn't publishers look to modding as a way to increase revenue, by allowing modders to sell their sanctioned creations? Valve already offers robust community options in its Steam platform — and already has payment processing in place. Is this the natural next step for PC gaming?"
silentbrad sends this quote from GamesIndustry: "Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has told GamesIndustry International that the percentage of paying players is the same for free to play as it is for PC boxed product: around five to seven per cent. ... 'On PC it's only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for F2P, but normally on PC it's only about five to seven per cent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It's around a 93-95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage. The revenue we get from the people who play is more long term, so we can continue to bring content.' ... 'We must be careful because the consoles are coming. People are saying that the traditional market is declining and that F2P is everything — I'm not saying that. We're waiting for the new consoles — I think that the new consoles will give a huge boost to the industry, just like they do every time that they come. This time, they took too long so the market is waiting.'"
RogueyWon writes "Eurogamer is reporting that Sony has closed its subsidiary developer Studio Liverpool. Beginning its life in 1984 under the name Psygnosis, the development house has played an important role in the history of computer and video gaming, publishing classics such as the Lemmings series. Since its acquisition by Sony in 1993, the studio has been best known for its work on the WipEout franchise, which helped to establish the PlayStation console as a successful brand. Sony's statements indicate that it will seek to find positions for staff in its other development houses, but that some redundancies will be necessary." Eurogamer posted an update, indicating that the studio was working on WipEout for the PS4.
stillnotelf writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the official Nintendo magazine, Nintendo Power, is shutting down after 24 years. The gaming magazine has been run by independent publisher Future US since 2007, but Ars Technica's source and deleted Twitter posts say that Nintendo is uninterested in continuing the paper magazine in today's digital age, and also unwilling to convert it into a primarily digital experience. There's been no official confirmation of the cancellation or word of how many issues remain of this bit of childhood nostalgia for so many gamers."
Jon Brodkin writes "There’s a new Super Mario Bros. game out for the 3DS handheld console. It’s called New Super Mario Bros. 2 and features Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser, and the same fun gameplay you’ve come to expect from Nintendo’s most iconic game series. But this latest adventure stands out by not standing out at all." Read below for the rest of Jon's review.
Croakyvoice writes "Nintendo has today released the 3DS XL in the U.S. The console comes with features such as screens which are 90% bigger in size than the original 3DS, a much needed improvement in battery life and also the 3D effect on the console has noticeably improved. The 3DS XL is Nintendo's attempt at even moreso dominating the handheld console market over the PSVita, but also bringing back the gamers lost to the likes of Android and iOS devices. The other major 3DS news of the day is the release of New Super Mario Bros 2, a continuation of the DS game released in 2006. In Japan the game has sold over 800,000 copies since game launch and Nintendo will be hopeful to replicate that success in the U.S."
An anonymous reader writes "Speaking at GDC Europe this week, BioWare Montreal's Fernando Melo spoke about how the oft-disparaged first-day downloadable content for video games is actually something a significant amount of players want. 'Melo argued that on the occasions when BioWare hasn't provided DLC from day one, those players who complete the game quickly then complained that there was nothing more to play and asked for extra content. If DLC isn't provided for these players, they may well move on to a different game and never come back to play DLC later on. As proof that day one DLC also works in terms of sales, Melo said that 53 percent of all sales for the first Dragon Age: Origins DLC pack — which was released on the same day as the full game — were made on release day."