Crap V’Ger is here someone call Kirk: With the recent release of Elite: Dangerous we’ve seen some incredible world building and great level of detail but one of the most interesting things is the verisimilitude of the world created. Recently a gamer found Voyager 2 floating in deep space at the exact co-ordinates it will be by the time we hit the future of Elite Dangerous. Not only that but one of the commenters over at VG247 reports they found the first Voyager probe! That’s not all, if you get up close you can hear the recordings playing from the real Voyager! Now this is the kind of detail I want to see! (Source VG247)
The film itself grossed 1 million dollars in the limited release while VOD numbers are not yet in, add to that Anonymous leaked a pirated copy of the film (though they said they would only do this if the film was not released, so much for integrity) and it was pirated 750,000 times over the last couple of days. Was it a success or not? Who knows, given the budget they are probably going to take a bath on this. One thing I know is (having seen it) who ever tried to get it killed did a silly thing because the film isn’t that good. Better than Pineapple Express but that’s not saying much. Funny, but no Team America: World Police. I’m glad I paid 7 dollars to rent it and not theatre prices because I’d be very mad if I had.
Meanwhile in a fit of Streisand Effect type carrying on, Sony have threatened to sue Twitter and pretty much every news agency in the world. While they are understandably upset at some of their corporate secrets getting out it appears they want to prevent any further leaks and damn the consequences of setting precedent. (Source Hollywood Reporter, New York Post, CNET, Kotaku and Polygon)
Not all bad news: Things aren’t entirely bad news for Sony, this is one of those silver lining situations but Sony recently revealed that they face potential hardware shortages in Europe. Why? Well because everyone loves them so much! (Source Computer and Video Games)
Deus Exmas: Do you like the world of Deus Ex? Well the folks over at Eidos have a little gift for you, a piece of fiction set in the world of the hit video game as a prequel to the recent Deus Ex reboot. Best part of this, it’s free! So get in there and enjoy your dystopian future fiction. (Source Deus Ex Tumblr)
All your laughing and crying needs in one place: Telltale Games has been on a roll the last couple of years, with titles like The Walking Dead and Fables having established a strong identity as story tellers and new entries like Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands showing their ability to work successfully with properties not based on comic books they have really become the home of not just episodic content but also adventure games and interactive fiction. Turns out that if you are have not yet invested in their titles or have tried one episode and been bitten by the bug Microsoft and the Xbox One has an offer you can’t refuse. You can now buy “The Telltale Games Collection” on Xbox One digitally or in stores. This is a collection of both Season 1 and Season 2 of The Walking Dead, Season 1 of Fables, and the first episodes of Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands with the ability to download the rest as they become available. This would normally be around 160 dollars to buy but is only 109 and for sale at 50% off on the Xbox Marketplace! Get it while you can. (Source Major Nelson)
Free is good: One of the best parts of the console wars is it has led to the platforms giving away titles. Major Nelson recently revealed the games for January on the Xbox consoles, the 360 will see MX vs. ATV and a discounted The Witcher 2 while the Xbox One will see the recent Dark Dreams Don’t Die (aka D4) coming to the console for free. You can’t argue with free! (Source Major Nelson)
About time: One of the most innovative parts of Halo 4 was the Spartan Ops portion, an episodic co-op based story mode that carried on the story after the conclusion of Halo 4 away from the ever watching eye of the Master Chief. Not originally included in the Master Chief Collection this is another piece of free content expanding the offering for owners and was released to the public this week. (Source Polygon)
One of the few good things going for Nightfall: Halo Nightfall was a title that should have been awesome, you had some pretty prestigious names attached to the project including Ridley Scott. Unfortunately Scott still appears to be phoning it in and the end result was at times painful. One of the few good things involved in the project was Mike Colter, the primary protagonist of the series, he was a solid performance that made the best of a bad script. (In fact all the actors were decent but the effects made Sharknado look like Titanic and saying the writing and direction was tepid is being generous.) He will be returning to the Halo franchise in Halo 5 but 343 Industries better have finished with him because Marvel has just announced that they are casting him in their A.K.A. Jessica Jones as Power Man (also known as Luke Cage). Given this is a major character and has been discussed as having his own series in conjunction with the New Defenders series he’s not going to have a lot of time on his hands for VO work. (Though I have to admit the rumour about Terry Crews would have been super awesome!) (Source Polygon)
X-Files meets Maniac Mansion, I’m in: It was announced this week that Thimbleweed Park, the love letter to classic adventure gaming penned by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick has hit its target and is moving forward. Not only that it cleared ALL its funding goals meaning it is not only getting translations but will also be a Talkie and will make it to mobile platforms! SWEET! (Source Polygon)
Now you don’t even need a PlayStation to play PlayStation: Do you have a Samsung Smart TV? Then you are in luck! PlayStation Now, Sony’s rental service is coming to your TV in 2015! Samsung have announced it will support full functionality that means trophies, online multiplayer, and cloud saves. Now if they can only get Sony to price titles at something a sane human would want to play and then you are set! Also, figure out a way to protect it from the folks over at Lizard Squad. (Source Joystiq)
Yubnub: Knights of the Old Republic is considered one of the best Star Wars games and RPGs of all time, re-released via steam and recently on the iOS it has made its way to Android with a release in the Google Marketplace. So, if you are looking for a nostalgia burst or have yet to play what is arguably a story better than all three of the prequels now is your chance. (Source Joystiq)
Shifting in to Overdrive: Sunset Overdrive had received fairly positive reviews at its launch but it has not had much attention since then. This week they released their first DLC content which will hopefully get people’s eyes back on the title. Mystery of the Mooil Rig adds new movement options, new story content and more of the irreverent humor that filled the title. Season Pass holders will get this content for free and can expect two more. (Source Joystiq)
Just like Hollywood: Over the last few years Hollywood studios have been increasing their attempts at wooing the Chinese audience. Their efforts have included shooting on site in China, running scripts by state censors, and even including local actors (to the point the last Iron Man had entire scenes not included anywhere else in the world). The reason being is a growing middle class and increased affluence has a market about to burst with potential.
Video games are no different, a recent report from a Chinese industry association clocked game revenues for China at 18.5 billion USD. This is a big increase year over year and with the introduction of both Sony and Microsoft consoles to the market this is bound to continue. For the record, last year the US only clocked in at 15.39 billion USD over the same period. The interesting thing that is not discussed in the study is the types of transactions taking place. Due to the restrictions on the market place many games available in North America would never be able to be sold in China and the market is notorious for piracy. This has led many developers to create free to play titles (Activision are creating a free to play version of Call of Duty) that are heavily reliant on micro-transactions. This model seems to appeal to the Chinese market while it is an anathema to the North American markets. I suspect we’ll see the Western and Eastern markets diverge with a sharing of resources but a continuation of development of very differently monetized products. (Source Joystiq)
Hat trick: Are you Canadian and looking to get a PS4? In Canada we are granted not just the American import of Black Friday but the post-Christmas shopping bonanza known as Boxing Day sales. Like a true Canadian deal the 500GB PS4 will sell for $450 Loonies. This will include your PS4 but also NHL 15 and Little Big Planet 3. That’s a pretty decent deal eh? A right humble Canadian Christmas Tradition. (Source Joystiq)
Vapor-hardware: Valve have been known to not been the most reliable in the timelines for releasing their products. There’s a reason why “Valvetime” has become a commonly used jab used regarding the developer’s cycle. This has recently burnt their OEM partners who produced hardware with the promise of a SteamOS and a dedicated controller in time for the 2014 holiday season (forcing people like Alienware to release their own customized Windows 8 boxes with Steam installed and an Xbox 360 controller). It turns out that leaked images show that Valve may once again have modified the designs for their struggling controller adding a modified d-pad reinforcing the earlier suspicions that they may not have the fortitude to commit to a design. It appears their executives are not the only thing Gabe second guesses and contradicts. (Source Joystiq)
Game On: This holiday season saw some “fun” in the form of attacks by a group of “Hackers” named “Lizard Squad” on Sony and Microsoft’s gaming networks. This elicited a response from “FinestSquad” who battled to prevent the DDOS by doxxing members of Lizard Squad. Starting on the 25th, the fine folks at Lizard Squad decided they didn’t want to allow people to enjoy their gifts and brought down the two networks just as threatened despite the warnings and attempts of FinestSquad to prevent it from happening which led to this hilarious (in a sad kind of way) interview on Youtube where members of both “Squads” faced off via skype.
The services remained spotty until Kim Dotcom, he of the questionable fashion sense, questionable ability to manage finances, and questionable moral turpitude with regards to IP infringement. He offered the members of Lizard Squad membership passes on Mega his new upload site. This included 500GB caps and the promise to convert these to lifetime memberships should they follow through. After an initial lull (by which point Microsoft had already recovered and fended off Lizard Squad’s attacks) the group resumed activity (while claiming they were not). The group was so bold that one of the members of Lizard Squad did an on air video and didn’t even disguise his identity claiming this was for some reason an attempt to “educate” people about “network security” and that people should have better things to do than play video games on Christmas Day. He kind of missed the point this was probably mostly effecting kids who got gifts of systems, so kind of being Grinchy or the fact a lot of people don’t actually celebrate Christmas.
Anyhow, in step Anonymous. Anonymous promptly declared war on Lizard Squad stating that FinestSquad was in fact a puppet and a part of the group being used to drum up publicity for the group making it look like they were “hard core” and that they (Lizard Squad) had stepped over the line by saying Anonymous were helping the FBI and that they were only in the “hacking game” for money. So, it would appear that Anonymous are “on the job” and are going to step in to “defend Gamers”. Funny thing about that, less than 24 hours later they leaked the logins, passwords, credit card numbers, CCV numbers and personal information of over 13,000 users including people on the Live and PSN services. So, while LizardSquad were just making it hard to play and have fun, Anonymous (or a group within Anonymous) decided to compromise the financial security of over ten thousand people. If Lizard Squad are dicks, Anonymous would be the Uber-Dick. The dick to end all Dicks, in the end it all just reminds me of this.
Well that’s something: Rockstar and the GTA V team had planned a host of Christmas themed events including snowball fights and seasonal garb. Due to the attacks by Lizard Squad players have not been able to access any of this so as a work around Rockstar has extended the event with no specific deadline. So apparently as they are going to keep it going until the networks stabilize. (Source Joystiq)
Score one for the Good Guys: Nintendo have faced a host of lawsuits regarding patents tied to their very successful Wii console. This past courts tossed the complaint by Texas company UltimatePointer LLC that was pretty much a patent on anything that used a pointing device as a method of input. That said this means a 1/1 ratio for the company who recently lost a suit filed by Philips in the UK regarding camera based motion sensing technology. (Source Joystiq)
Back from before he was weird: Some of you may remember a guy named “Lord British” (aka Richard Garriott) the quirky son of an Astronaut who created the Ultima world and later paid a lot of money to go in to space himself. Over the last few years since his departure from the Tabula Rasa project (under some rather less than positive circumstances) Lord British really hasn’t contributed much beyond some online gambling games and a Kickstarter project that is still quite rough but despite that for many he still holds a very fond place in our hearts. If you want to relive the glory days now’s your chance. GOG is offering free copies of Akalabeth the first game created by “Lord British”. If that’s not enough you also can get your hands on his other titles Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empre, Ultima Worlds of Adventure: Martian Dreams, and Ultima 4: Quest for the Avatar all free! (Source Joystiq and GOG)
Time to get Decking Chummers: During the development of their Shadowrun Returns Harebrained Schemes did a survey to see where people would like the expansion to take place. The winner was Berlin and we got the Dragonfall expansion but it only just beat out the runner up Hong Kong. Harebrained Schemes announced that they will be launching another Kickstarter in 2015 for a new Shadowrun project set in Hong Kong and have released some art to go with that. This is something that sounds very intriguing, especially for fans of the Shadowrun universe. It’s unclear if this will be an expansion like Dragonfall or a new full-fledged product but I’m looking forward to finding out. (Source Polygon)
Well can’t be as bad as the last time: Thunderbirds are a series I never quite got, the puppetry was pretty bad and the stories were almost as wooden as the puppets but for some it takes up a really big place in the nostalgia part of the soul. It appears that they are doing yet another adaptation and the first teaser has been released. They would be very hard pressed to make it as bad as the last one (Source Dark Horizons and Thunderbirds.com)
Star Trek Drift: Paramount recently noted they had parted ways with Orci, the writer tapped to direct the third installment in the parallel universe adventures of Kirk and Crew. Paramount announced a date (July 8th 2016) and that Justin Lin of the Fast and the Furious franchise will be taking over. Abrams (who departed to hel the Star Wars reboot) and Roberto Orci will remain as producers but what that means is up in the air. In Hollywood a producer could be anything from a payout to a person for not getting in the way of production to very hands on forces so we may still see the influence of Abrams and Orci on the film. (Source Comicbook.com, Variety and Polygon)
Haa ha: Netflix recently placed the entirety of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse in to their catalogue but in addition to this Pee-Wee aka Paul Reubens let slip that the Judd Aptow produced Pee-Wee film will be coming soon and will be going directly to Netflix. It would appear the aggressive expansion of Netflix in to original content distribution continues. All I care about though is more Pee-Wee! (Source Engadget and The Verge)
Canadian TV seriously not sucking: What do you get when you take the people who made Flashpoint cast members of Orphan Black, Luther, Being Human, Flashpoint and Hannibal and do a period piece? Camp X the CBC production about a group of young recruits from Britain, America and Canada sent to a top secret training facility to create super spies on Lake Ontario. This is my kind of awesome that I’m happy my tax dollars are helping fund! (Source Nerdist)