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Archive for August, 2010

Slam Bolt Scrappers playable at PAX

August 31st, 2010 No comments
Fire Hose Games' Slam Bolt Scrappers impressed us at E3 even though it was a ways off from its expected "early 2011" launch on PSN. PAX, taking place this weekend in Seattle, will be the public-at-large's next chance to see what we were talking about. The game will be playable at booth #3834, and the developers will be on hand for feedback.

Slam Bolt Scrappers is an intuitive and hectic combination of Rampart and Tetris. If you're at PAX, definitely check it out. The latest trailer for the game can be found after the break.

Continue reading Slam Bolt Scrappers playable at PAX

JoystiqSlam Bolt Scrappers playable at PAX originally appeared on Joystiq on Wed, 01 Sep 2010 01:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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New Apple TV may finally offer Netflix streaming video access

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Netflix Watch InstantlyAs if we needed any more rumors surrounding Apple’s media event on Wednesday (we covered the major rumors in an earlier post), we’re now hearing that the company may finally bring Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming video service to its revamped Apple TV, three unnamed sources tell Businessweek.

Netflix’s streaming video service was first released in 2007 with support just for Windows PCs. It quickly gained popularity as it landed on popular devices like the Xbox 360 console in 2008 (and the PS3 and Wii more recently), and certain Blu-ray players and TVs. Netflix partnered with the media streaming company Roku to create the Roku Box in 2008 — a $99 device built specifically for delivering Netflix streaming video to TVs. The company has also focused heavily on expanding its streaming library — it recently landed deals with Relativity Media and the pay-TV network Epix to stream titles from high-profile studios.

Clearly, Netflix’s streaming pursuit was prescient. Now with Google TV, and the rumors that Apple is cooking up a streaming video offering on the new Apple TV (which may be called iTV), streaming media is one of the topics in tech right now.

But despite the popularity of Netflix’s streaming service, Apple managed to avoid making it available on its Apple TV. Many argued that it didn’t want to cut into its iTunes rentals and sales — but now that Netflix access is practically ubiquitous in the living room, Apple needs to support it to remain competitive. (I personally have three separate devices in my living room with Netflix access.)

That we’re hearing this news so close to Apple’s event is a good sign we’ll finally see the new Apple TV at the event. I just hope that this time around, it doesn’t ignore the Apple TV as mere hobby.

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Keith Lee’s location gaming firm Booyah launches InCrowd on the iPhone (video)

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Booyah launched today its InCrowd mobile social app for the iPhone. The app, one of the first to utilize Facebook Places, is the latest attempt to loop social gaming services and the location stack. Using art and game mechanics from Nightclub City and MyTown, Booyah is pushing the envelop of the involvement of location and brands in social gaming far beyond where rivals such as Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla have taken it.

This leading edge approach fits the style of Keith Lee, chief executive of Booyah, who previously worked at Blizzard Entertainment, one of the most celebrated traditional game publishers. We recently interviewed Lee on video and talked about his apps, learnings, and vision for Facebook social gaming. Lee sees social games converging with mobile platforms over time and feels that all developers should think about a dual strategy on both mobile and Facebook in order to succeed. Mobile can potentially deliver better average revenue per user, but it suffers from a hugely fragmented market. That makes it hard to acquire new users. Facebook Connect, which  brings your friends into a mobile device, helps alleviate that problem. That gives us some insight into the launch of InCrowd, a title that helps people interact with other location-based users in a richer more playful way than previous location based apps.

Booyah raised $4.5 million from Kleiner Perkins’ $100 million iFund last year. The company has the pedigree to make real-world mobile gaming work. Its three founders were instrumental in making games at Blizzard Entertainment, now part of Activision Blizzard, like Diablo II and at Insomniac Games with titles such as Resistance: Fall of Man and the original Ratchet & Clank.

Check out our video of Lee below, where Lee talks about how Booyah runs its business. Sana Choudary runs the social gaming division of social game studio Somatone Interative. She also organizes the SF Game Developer’s workshop, a bimonthly series on game design, production and monetization.

SanaOnGames Interview Keith Lee of Booyah from Sana Choudary on Vimeo.

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Launch Trailer for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Activision still believes in Spider-Man, or at the very least, is milking the franchise until their contract with the property expires. Today, they released the launch trailer Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which is due out on September 7th.

The game will offer four different Spider-Mans that are all playable and at one point, had a comic series that starred them. The playable characters are: Noir Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man.
While I like the new art direction, which now uses a cel-shading to emulate the comics, the gameplay still looks like it’s using the stale engine, that some of the older Spidey games used. Hopefully, things have changes — but I’m not holding my breath.

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Fast Striker is the new Last Dreamcast Game Ever

August 31st, 2010 No comments
The Dreamcast continues to cling to the barest sliver of life, thanks to the work of NGDev Team. The developer and publisher announced that it's porting Fast Striker, a vertical shooter made for (fellow dead system) the Neo Geo, to the Dreamcast, with a scheduled winter 2010 release.

If you want to buy a new Dreamcast game (and doesn't that sound great?) you can pre-order Fast Striker from NGDev directly, in either a regular edition or a limited edition that includes a soundtrack. If you're really enthused about Fast Striker, you can buy a pack containing both editions. The Neo Geo MVS version is also available.

Check out a trailer after the break. A trailer for a Dreamcast game.

Continue reading Fast Striker is the new Last Dreamcast Game Ever

JoystiqFast Striker is the new Last Dreamcast Game Ever originally appeared on Joystiq on Wed, 01 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Here is the New Xbox 360 Controller

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Yesterday, we were first to report that Microsoft was going release a controller that had its d-pad redesign for the Xbox 360. We also wrote that Microsoft would officially announce the newly revamped device and up top is a video with the actual redesign.

Like we said, the d-pad can be popped-up by routing it 90 degrees, giving the player the feel of a four-way directional pad, instead of eight. The controller is supposed to gear towards the fighting fan, who in the past, complained about the original Xbox 360 control pad and some even refused to buy one for the system.

One thing we didn’t know was the price, but now we do. According to Microsoft, the controller is going to cost $65 when it’s released on November 9th, which is $15 more than the original wireless one.

After the jump, watch Major Nelson fool around with the controller and not a sexual way, either!

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Sony Announces Loony Animal-Oriented Apocalypse Combat Sim

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Tokyo Jungle

The city of Tokyo is home to a teeming variety of animal life -- cheetahs in the zoo, cute Chihuahuas in the apartments, about eight hundred million stray cats on the streets. But what if the human race suddenly vanished one day? What would all these animals do; how would they survive? Sony Computer Entertainment has a theory: They'd all fight each other in a vast, visceral bloodsport, clawing and biting their way to the top of the food chain through wits, cunning and brute force. Even the chickens and ostriches.

Tokyo Jungle, tentative title of a PlayStation 3 game Sony unveiled in Famitsu magazine this week, is the latest in the long line of patently ridiculous games SCE likes to release in Japan about once every year. The game's divided into a story mode and a multiplayer survival mode. The story mode -- set in a completely vacant, semi-destroyed Tokyo -- is divided into a set of missions, each starring a different animal trying to handle a different task. In one chapter, you might be a Pomeranian dog who's run out of pet food and now has to fend for itself in the wild; in another, you might be a thoroughbred racehorse running around Tokyo, searching for its old track rivals in hopes of staging one more race. As you go through the missions you'll uncover why the human race suddenly disappeared, along with some even more sinister secrets -- including why there's a dinosaur or two tramping around town. (We're not making any of this up. It's in the preview and everything.)

Survival mode, meanwhile, lets you choose the animal of your choice (over 50 species and 80 different animal types are available, from baby chick to hippopotamus) and survive for as many years as possible. A farmyard chicken taking on a full-grown tiger? Yep, it's in there. To win a lopsided battle like that, you'll have to take advantage of each animal's natural traits, from speed and nimble jumping skills to the power to call for fellow companions and form enormous, street-choking herds. (In herd or pack-based combat, whichever side runs out of pack members first loses. You can even direct part of your pack somewhere else to bait your opponent into chasing them. No, we didn't make that up, either.)


PSP White Knight Chronicles A Prequel to PS3 Game

August 31st, 2010 No comments

White Knight Chronicles

The fabled PSP version of PlayStation 3 RPG White Knight Chronicles, which we reported on back in June, is finally beginning to step into the light a bit. Sony Computer Entertainment revealed a few more choice details behind the game in this week's Famitsu magazine, including the full name of the thing: White Knight Chronicles Episode Portable: Dogma Wars.

What'll be most interesting to those who played the PlayStation 3 WKC is the setting. Episode Portable is set a whopping 10,000 years before the original WKC and its Japan-only sequel, long before Leonard uncovered the titular knight and saved the world from the revived empire of Yshrenia. In the PSP game, the original Yshrenia is still in existence, and they're busy fighting the Dogma Wars, the conflict that spawned the giant Incorruptus robots...erm, sorry, magical suits of armor that were the centerpiece of the PS3 game's plot.

Details are a bit skimpy on what the PSP White Knight Chronicles plays like, but chances are it won't stray too far from the original's formula. Like in the first WKC, you'll create an original avatar character before anything else, someone who'll join your party in the single-player campaign and later take center stage in the online component. There's a variety of new clothing and the like to outfit him in...and that's about all Sony is saying right now.


Writer Neal Stephenson unveils his digital novel The Mongoliad

August 31st, 2010 No comments

mongoliadAuthor Neal Stephenson has been credited for inspiring today’s virtual world startups with his novel Snow Crash. Now he’s launching a startup himself: Subutai, where he is co-founder and chairman.

The company, based in Seattle and San Francisco, has developed what it calls the PULP platform for creating digital novels. The core of the experience is still a text novel, but authors can add additional material like background articles, images, music, and video. There are also social features that allow readers to create their own profiles, earn badges for activity on the site or in the application, and interact with other readers.

Stephenson said in an interview that this material is an extension of what many science fiction and fantasy novels already offer.

“I can remember reading Dune for the first time, and I started by reading the glossary,” he said. “Any book that had that kind of extra stuff in it was always hugely fascinating to me.”

Subutai is launching its inaugural product today, a serialized story called The Mongoliad about the Mongol invasion of Europe. The company promises to release a new chapter a week. Readers can pay $5.99 for a six-month subscription fee or $9.99 for a year.

Co-founder and President Jeremy Bornstein said the company is experimenting with a new model for publishing books. The traditional model of paying for content may not hold up when the content “be canned and sent around to your friends for free,” he said, but people will hopefully still to pay for content if “the experience is so much more rich, so much more involving.”

Stephenson isn’t writing the book alone. There’s a team led by a writer Mark Teppo; it also includes Greg Bear, author of Blood Music and other science fiction novels. Stephenson compared the experience to writing a TV show, and not just because it’s a team of writers. The Mongoliad will have an ending, but there’s room for sequels and other stories set in the world, so it’s kind of like season one of a show.

Bornstein first showed off The Mongoliad back in May. The first chapter should be available on The Mongoliad website now. There’s also an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch application going through Apple’s approval process, and an Android app in the works. Subutai is self-funded.

mongoliad screenshot

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HP’s fall line-up includes 3D laptop, wireless TV-laptop link, and colorful notebooks

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Hewlett-Packard may not have a permanent chief executive. But it hasn’t stopped launching loads of new products. Today, the company is taking the wraps off its fall line-up of consumer laptop and netbook computers.

The flagship is a 3D laptop (below, right) that is very Apple-like in its elegance. The Envy brand, originally created by the Voodoo PC business that HP acquired, is as elite as HP gets. HP trots out the brand whenever it has something it thinks will go up against the very best of what Apple can design.

The HP Envy 17 3D is the company’s first foray into stereoscopic 3D viewable laptops, which have already been fielded by the likes of Dell Alienware, and Origin. HP’s Envy isn’t targeted at gamers per se, but it does focus on enthusiast consumers. The laptop has a 17.3-inch screen that can support 1080p (high-resolution) high-definition movies as well as a Beats branded audio system. It comes with HP 3D active shutter glasses (from Xpand), which provide a pretty crisp viewing experience. The machine has up to two terabytes of hard disk space, a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics. The laptop will be available this holiday season; pricing is still to be announced.

HP is also launching the HP Envy 14 Beats edition (left), which has a red and black design as well as an audio system created by Beats by Dr. Dre. The system is designed for music aficionados. It’s a follow-up to the first Beats edition laptop launched last October. HP is proliferating the Beats technology through its Envy laptops as well as its HP Pavilion dv7 and HP TouchSmart 600 computers. The Beats model comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and Adobe Premiere Elements 8 software for photo and video editing on select models. It gets 6.5 hours of battery life. It has ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics and an unreleased Intel Core processor. It costs $1,249.

Then there’s the HP Wireless TV Connect, which lets consumers plug an adapter box into a laptop and another adapter box into the HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) of a TV. The laptop can then display its screen on the larger TV or display. It can wirelessly accommodate 1080p HD images and Blu-ray content. You can watch movies, videos, photos and other content without the clutter of audio or video cables or software installations. The wireless is fast, so it minimizes any lag in transferring images or video. Since the adapter gets power from the laptop’s own universal serial bus (USB) port, you don’t have to plug it into an electrical outlet. It will be available in October for $199.

HP is also launching the HP Pavilion dm3 laptop with an intelligent cooling system, aimed at minimizing heat. When you put it on your lap, it won’t feel hot. HP’s CoolSense technology cools the machine, which has air vents in the right spots to create a path for air flow inside the machine. HP added its Thermal Assistant software to detect how the PC is being used and shift it into maximum cooling or maximum performance modes. The dm3 has a 13.3-inch screen and gets up to 7.5 hours of battery life. It’s less than an inch thick and costs $549.

Meanwhile, HP is getting all colorful with the new additions to its line of mini notebook PCs (pictured at top), which are considered “ultra-portable” devices. The HP Mini 210 is dubbed a “companion PC” to keep you company wherever you go. It has built-in wireless networking, a webcam, microphone and a keyboard that is 93 percent of full size. It has an option for a new dual-core Intel Atom processor, the N550. You can also order Intel N455 or N475 versions. The machine is less than an inch thick and weighs 3.1 pounds. It gets 10.75 hours of battery life and comes in five colors. (The names are hilarious for their marketing spin: charcoal, crimson, red, lavender frost, luminous rose, and ocean drive). Among the options: You can use Evernote note-taking software that lets you quickly capture and search for notes. The HP Mini 210 is available now in the U.S. for $329.

HP is also launching the HP Mini 5103 (right), the latest small laptop with a 10.1-inch touchscreen. It has an Intel Atom low-power processor and features an all-metal case in a new “espresso” brown color. It weights 2.64 pounds and is aimed at mobile professionals and students. It has Intel’s new dual-core Atom processor, the N550, as well as options for the N455 or the N475. You can get it with a standard screen or touchscreen. The keyboard is 95 percent of standard size. It has a Broadcom HD video decoder card that lets it play 720p or 1080p HD videos. It has a battery life of 10.25 hours and includes the previously launched HP Day Starter, a program that lets you view your daily calendar before you boot up your machine. The HP Mini 5103 is available in the U.S. now for $399.

Absent from the line-up is anything new from HP’s newly acquired Palm division. But Palm’s Timothy Pettit, a senior product manager, said that Palm is working on version 2.0 of its WebOS operating system for its mobile phones and tablets. The new operating system will be used on the upcoming WebOS tablet computer, dubbed a Slate, coming in early 2011.

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