Monday, February 28, 2011

Unreal Deal

The year after its unveiling, Epic Games announced a few days ago that they will be changing the rules that govern development using the Unreal Development Kit, a free-to-download version of their widely used Unreal Engine 3.  Anyone can download the UDK, and it remains free if it is only being used for educational (or any other non-commercial) purposes.  However, if you do use it to make a commercial game, all you need to do is pay a measly $99 upfront fee and the whole toolbox is yours to play with.  This also applies to schemes of world domination.  Previously, Epic would start taking a chunk of your profits (a 25% royalty fee) for every cent you made over $5,000.  With the new rules, the royalties threshold has been upped to $50,000.

Epic's Mark Rein posted on the UDK forums providing a reason for this surprising move, "We're really excited about folks making some amazing things with UDK and we realize that a lot of you are just started in the business so not having to pay royalties on your first $50,000 should help you get a financial footing towards building a quality game development business."  Well, that sounds downright reasonable.  Epic is not only providing us gamers with high quality titles like Bulletstorm and the Gears of War series, but they're inviting others into the arena and asking--nay, begging--them to make something and share it with the world, only collecting for themselves once a game has really made it.  This continues the trend of a gaming industry that is becoming increasingly accepting of start up and independent ventures.

UDK has already been shown to be quite the game development tool, capable of creating games for iOS and Android devices as well as the PC.  Among other notable titles, Infinity Blade and The Ball were made using UDK.  Powerful tools in the hands of creative people who aren't risk-averse and get to directly reap the benefits of their hard work, up to $50,000, without signing over a penny?  There's no way this can be a bad thing.

Announcing The Laser Romance Comic Strip!

Hey everybody, I hope you love good news as much as I love Thai food, which is to say, that's not possible but hopefully you still look forward to good news, regardless of my gourmet preferences! Before I talk about the launch of our new comic, I must first introduce the newest addition to the Laser Romance team!

We have recently recruited a clever and talented artist who goes by the "name" of Scott Myers. Is this his real name? We don't know. He may be a wanted man in Belize for all we know, however we are still thrilled to have his talents. We truly welcome him with open arms and a friendly slap on the rump, (but only in the way athletes do it), and hope he stays with us a long time.

In an effort to make our humble website a more colorful and lively place, Scott has agreed to pen a fresh, hand-drawn comic strip for Laser Romance. We are hoping that Scott will have a semi-regular output but if this fails to be the case, please feel free to spam his email, call him in the middle of the night and leave threatening notes (inked in goat blood) on his door. That way none of us at LR have to get our hands dirty. You folks are the best.

Without further ado, the first official Laser Romance comic strip!

Arcade Woes Pt. 1

Click on the strip for full size

If you like what you see, please check out Scott's hilarious book on called "101 Dumb Dog Deaths". And swing by his new deviant art page at It's brand new, so give him a while to get some content up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Modern Proposals: Popping The Question With A Little Help From Videogames

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a digital age. Long gone are the days where nerdy gamers feared playground wedgies and school toilet swirlies. Now we're all grown up, geek is chic and the world has embraced us gamers. We always told them nerds would rule the world. Hell, these days you're more likely to be made fun of if you don't have the latest console. What's that? You haven't played Bulletstorm yet on Xbox 360? What a dork.

Gaming is now a socially acceptable way to spend time with friends or even your significant other. There are games for everyone out there, from Donkey Kong Country Returns to Dead Space 2 to World Of Warcraft to Muscle March. So it's 2011 and men and women are playing games together. Naturally, the next step is people proposing to each other within these virtual worlds. What sane woman would prefer to be proposed to at the Grand Canyon at sunset, or asked in sky-writing on a picnic when they could be proposed to in a video game?

I think these types of proposals, whether 8 bit or in 3D (almost like proposing in real life!), are effective because they are still relatively new and unexpected. And still some are better than others. Buckle up and get your heart-swell on with a collection of video game proposals (that just might be in descending order based off how good they were) below the jump.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Watch This Video! (What The Hell Is Dead Island?)

What is Dead Island? Where did it come from? Is this trailer worth watching?

Answers: It's an open world, sandbox style (four player cooperative) zombie survival game with a focus on melee combat. I'm already sold, but okay, I'll continue. It's being developed (and has been in development for several years) by Polish team Techland, who were also responsible for developing the underwhelming Call of Juarez. And finally, a resounding yes, this trailer is worth watching.

It isn't often that I am surprised or genuinely moved by trailers, CGI movies, or media relevant to video games. But every now and then some team of computer nerds somewhere manage to rouse me out of my cynical state of disapproval. This is one of those cases.

While this video may successfully be horrifying and tragic, it's also beautiful and touching, and doesn't strike me as your run of the mill video game trailer. Which I think is both good and bad. Good, because it's so very brilliantly put together it demands to be watched over and over. I could barely say anything but curse words on the first pass, so, yes, it got an emotional rise out of me. Bad, because it doesn't outline anything about the game. We know that this is a piece of propaganda to get us excited about the game. But is it relevant? I sure hope so.

Hit the jump for my thoughts on the video and some actual game information.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shoot! Shoot the robots! Many robots! Shoot them!

After almost a decade in the games business, Demiurge Studios (notable work: Borderlands, Mass Effect for PC, Green Day Rock Band) is striking out on their own, slotting their first original title for release sometime this year.  No word on the platform yet, but Shoot Many Robots will definitely be a downloadable title.  Until yesterday, very little was known about Demiurge's first solo title, except that it would probably feature some way to forcibly insert bullets into clamoring metal baddies.  Now we know that there will be 4-player co-op shooting of robots in a 2D side scrolling shooter (a la Contra).  Hit the jump for trailers and more details.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chrome OS: Precursor Legacy

I noticed today something new and interesting about my New Tab in Chrome, Google's browser.  It seems like the precursor to their in-development ChromeOS, which has been reported to be based on web apps: the Chrome browser now sports an Apps.  Though a number of them provide the same sort of functionality users have enjoyed for years by employing plugins and extensions to their browsers.  That is: handy, boring things like Stickies or Weather.

There is also a slew of game apps.  Unfortunately, there's no Jak and Daxter to be played natively in your browser yet (c'mon, Naughty Dog, get off your ass... derrr).  However, you can find such favorites as Plants vs. Zombies and Canabalt alongside a wealth of other titles (some clones of familiar games, some originals--and everything in between).  At the time of writing, there is a total of 828 games to choose from.  The apps install extremely fast (though there are also some load times) and run beautifully in a tab, in a separate window, or full screen.  You can even create shortcuts!

I'll be curious to see how the Websense deals with this when I get to work tomorrow.  And like that *snaps fingers* Google enters the Gladiator arena that is the gaming platform industry, amidst continuing rumors that they are working on a hardware platform to go up against Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo as well.

Image from CNET UK

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yes, The Natural Selection 2 Devs Have A Water Jug

Which might be the least important detail of this video. Then again, staying hydrated is vital for maintaining a healthy body and mind.

The thirst-quenched members of this team make up Unknown Worlds, a small independent developer in San Fransisco. Their team is really only a handful of talented and enthusiastic programmers and artists. And a beautiful office space. And it's within this lovely environment that they are working hard on the Natural Selection 2 beta.

While I personally have never played the original Natural Selection mod, I seem to remember hearing only great things about it. And from what I've seen so far of the sequel, my WASD fingers are absolutely itching for the alien-splattering action.

I love these kinds of behind-the-scenes videos! Thanks to the Natural Selection HD youtube channel, you can see all of this, including the water jug, in the video-tour below. Water your favorite parts?

[Via RockPaperShotgun]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

There's a Bulletstorm on the horizon

There's been a hurricane of stuff about Bulletstorm going around lately. This is of course because it's set for release on the 22nd of this month, meaning it's time for Epic and People Can Fly to start a marketing whirlwind to try and snag some more customers. Which of course explains the Fox News article, "Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?"

Oh wait, no it doesn't. Either way, there's more Bulletstorm media after the jump, including the thrilling reason that Bulletstorm is not in fact the worst game in the world.

Friday, February 4, 2011

First Battlefield 3 Trailer Released

...And of course, the trailer is an incomprehensible set of war-like silhouettes. No surprise there, I suppose. That said, in the wake of announcing that the PC will not be getting Onslaught mode in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, or getting Battlefield 1943 at all, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My feelings on Bad Company 2 are mixed, and my thoughts on DICE even more so, but I can't help but feel a bit of hope at the fact that they are supposedly PCifying BF3 to include prone, 64 player maps, and jets.

On second thought, maybe I don't care about the jets.

via The Battlefield Blog

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Primal Carnage - If Jurassic Park Was a Game

This one doesn't have jetpacks or that one song from Inception (touche, Chris), but it does have PLAYABLE DINOSAURS.  Yes, boys and girls, Primal Carnage from indie team Lukewarm Media is a class-based team shooter that pits humans against dinosaurs.  And you can play them both.  There are a number of different classes for each team, each serving a unique purpose (check out their site for more details).  Their so-called Nemesis system works out to a rock-paper-scissors strategy dynamic where each class is strong against one type and weak against another.

I'm not sure if the graphics measure up to Orion: Prelude, but they certainly aren't bad--and, well, look at that fucking T Rex that you can play.

Here's a video of some gameplay from their alpha (no proper trailer yet) that features players leaping around as velociraptors.  I'm pretty much sold:

No release date yet, but I'll be keeping my eye on this one.  In the meantime, they don't have a Kickstarter, but you can still donate.  So concludes Dinosaur Day at Laser Romance.

via RockPaperShotgun

Orion: Prelude - Dinosaurs, Jetpacks, That One Song From Inception

It's a fact known around these parts that I have a fondness for dinosaurs; perhaps that's why I find the possibly-upcoming indie-like Orion: Prelude by Spiral Game Studios so intriguing. I say "indie-like" because good lord, look at this trailer. Look at that T-Rex, and tell me this game is as indie as Braid or Limbo. And yet, I say indie-like because over at Kickstarter the good folks at Spiral are asking for all of our help to get the game on track financially.

Does it make fiscal sense to give money to a game company with no releases under their belt and presumably no investors to keep them afloat, aside from those of us whose wallets fly open at the prospect of our names in the credits? No, absolutely not. But, I ask you Dear Reader, did you see that fucking T-Rex?

via RockPaperShotgun

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jam On!

This past weekend saw the largest game jam to date.  Every year, in the depths of winter (i.e. sometime in late January), game developers--professional, independent, hobbyist, or even just game enthusiasts that want to be a part of it all--come together in small teams to participate in the Global Game Jam.  After convening, the teams spend the subsequent 48 hours developing a game from scratch that is somehow related to the year's theme.  This year, the teams representing 44 countries from around the globe worked on games that were about Extinction.  The result?  Nearly 1500 games!  By clicking that link you can check them out and play them all.  The kind folks at the Global Game Jam have provided some methods of filtering the games you see to make it a little easier to parse it all.  You can even sort by achievement!  My three favorites: Picasso Lives, One Hit Wonder, and Back to School, OLD School.

If you've got a surplus of time on your hands, browse around and play some games!  If you don't, just wait for IGF to announce the winners (though you'll do fine by playing the finalists, too).  Don't worry, I'll be doing an Indie Games "Roundup" when it comes time--I'm way overdue.

Bulletstorm has some seriously great ads

In case you haven't heard, Bulletstorm, the new game from People Can Fly (Painkiller) is coming out very soon, February 22 to be exact, and as such, the media blitz has been underway for quite some time. While most of the advertising for this game has been pretty great (great, as in delightfully stupid and puerile, as in featuring the phrase “blow out a man's asshole” and making jokes about unplanned pregnancy), there have been a couple ads that I feel really deserve special mention. The first is an absolutely hilarious parody of the famous Halo 3 Believe TV ads from a few years back, which I thought were pretty neat, but undeniably very pretentious. If you've never seen it, definitely check it out below (also watch the Halo 3 ad linked above first if you aren't familiar).

However, nothing can hold a candle to their newest advertisement, called Duty Calls. No mere web video, People Can Fly has gone all out and created a parody game, skewering the franchise that all the cool kids love to hate. It's not the most sophisticated parody I've ever seen (I mean, this is Bulletstorm), and sure, it takes longer to download and install than to play in its entirety, but it will definitely bring a smile to your face, and honestly, I just think it's great that publisher Epic would go to this much effort to promote this game.
You can check out Duty Calls below. It's entirely free to download, and takes literally perhaps 5 minutes to play.

Duty Calls: The Calm Before the Storm