Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

A federal judge's ruling in the ongoing "Too Human" lawsuit brought against Epic Games does not bode well for developer Silicon Knights. (The case was granted a federal jury hearing back in May of this year.) In it, Chief District Judge James Dever III, excludes the testimony of Silicon Knights' expert witness Terry Lloyd, a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst retained to provide an expert opinion on the damages alleged in the suit.

The court documents offer a rather scathing assessment of Lloyd's assertions, particularly the methodology he used to achieve them. The ruling finds him "not qualified," and asserts that his methods of assessment are "unreliable and speculative," and "do not fit the facts of the case." The documents also describe Lloyd's findings as "his own subjective conclusions about an industry in which he had no prior knowledge or experience." As a prime example, Lloyd claimed that the genre and marketing of a game play a key factor in overall sales; however, he used games with unlike genres or budgets for his comparisons.

According to information in the court documents discovered by The Escapist, Lloyd had broken down his assessment of the damages into the following six categories:

  • Lost royalties due to decrease sales ($6.2 mil)

  • Lost publisher bonus ($750k)

  • Lost ancillary royalties ($810k)

  • Lost profits from sequels ($16+ mil for Too Human II, $14+ mil for Too Human III) and another Sega title, The Ritualyst ($8+ mil)

  • Cost to develop a new engine ($2.3 mil)

  • Economic harm to Silicon Knights' reputation ($8.9 mil)

Lloyd's estimated costs for game engine development were also thrown out, given that Sega and Microsoft repay those types of related costs to the developer. The court documents also include the revelation that Silicon Knights is working on development plans for the games King's Quest and Sandmim, and has also engaged in talks with publishers Vivendi, Namco, Capcom, and THQ.

The lawsuit, originally filed in 2007 against Epic Games, seeks $58 million in damages related to the development and marketing of Too Human. Dollars for fallout and damage to the developer's reputation after the game was released are also included in the staggering figure. We reported that Silicon Knights is also claiming that Epic "defrauded" it and other developers about the limitations of Unreal Engine 3. We even found out what some other developers thought about the Dyack's claim at the time.

In what would seem to be a textbook example of a slippery slope, Silicon Knights is also seeking damages for two (unmade) Too Human sequels, which it claims became an impossibility after Microsoft cancelled negotiations due to Too Human's delayed release and poor sales. (However, it's worth noting that as recently as last May, Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack said that the team still intends to complete the trilogy.)

Epic fired back with a counter-motion shortly thereafter. "Having exploited Epic's intellectual property to its advantage, Silicon Knights now seeks to renege on its payment obligations under the License Agreement," it reads. "It is Silicon Knights, not Epic, that has engaged in deceit, infringement of Epic's intellectual property rights, breach of contract, and unfair business practices."

This latest ruling doesn't mark the end of the Silicon Knights vs. Epic Games lawsuit saga, but it sure seems to put a serious damper on the Too Human developer's claims for damages. The beleaguered developer also recently laid-off half of its 90-person staff, and still has a promised "prototype" game project it's supposed to be developing using government funding.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Every developer needs a pet project to unwind. In the case of Obsidian, the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas and the upcoming South Park RPG, that came in the shape of a coin-op classic arcade machine called "Obsidian: The Game," chronicling the tale of the studio owners.

Game Informer saw the game at the studio's offices while visiting for its South Park cover story. The cabinet sits in the dining area, with the Obsidian logo emblazoned across the top. It's a simple dungeon-crawler featuring the founders, created by a few friends within the company.

"We were aiming for Nintendo, like 1985 art quality because we thought we could hit that target," said programmer Dan Rubalcaba. The cabinet itself took only a couple of weeks, but the programming lasted a few months. Rubalcaba says he's heard requests to put it on the Web site, but he likes that it's in "a physical spot, that you have to come here to play it."

As for how he treated the studio culture itself: "I put tons of jabs at all the developers," Rubalcaba says. "I'm surprised I'm still employed."

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

It may not be the newest Gundam series, but it will be the first to appear on Sony's new handheld. Artdink, the studio behind the Gundam Vs. games for PSP, is developing Gundam Seed Battle Destiny for the Vita.

The game appears to play similarly to the PSP games, with the addition of Vita-centric controls. The right analog stick will control the camera (naturally), and touch screen icons will let you switch gear.

Siliconera notes that Destiny Gundam, Impulse Gundam, Strike Freedom Gundam, Akatsuki, Aegis Gundam, Justice Gundam, Gundam Astray Blue Flame Second Rev., and Gundam Astray Red Flame Rev. are all featured in the game. The game appears to feature a rather comprehensive overview of the Seed series, covering events and characters of the original, Destiny, Astray, MSV, and more.

A Japanese release is set for Spring. No US release has been announced--and Gundam games only sporadically get localized.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Battleblock Theater may be adorable, but behind that cute facade is a harrowing tale of prisoners forced to fight to the death in epic cage matches for your entertainment. To detail a little more about our hapless characters, The Behemoth has released a set of videos highlighting several Battleblock prisoners.

The official site (via Joystiq) offers brief character bios with the videos. Prisoner #10401, for example, is guilty of Necromancy. Prisoner #10329 used to be a Cyclopediast. Check out the videos below to see them in action.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

A class-action lawsuit filed against Square Enix back in 2009, complaining about Final Fantasy XI, has been dismissed by a US court. It was accused of "deceptive advertising, unfair advertising, and fraudulent concealment to conceal certain critical information about their online games."

The suit [PDF link], filed in June 2009, sought over $5 million in damages. It claimed that Square Enix deliberately concealed information concerning monthly fees, "licensing of the online game software disguised as a sale," "termination of the right to use the online game for late payment of the fees," and other things one expects from an MMORPG.

It was light on actual evidence backing up these claims, or even explaining what exactly they were upset with, so it's almost surprising this took so long to turf out. The suit was finally dismissed--with prejudice, no less--on December 20, Gamasutra spotted.

This wasn't the only legal upset Square Enix caused with Final Fantasy XI, mind. In 2008, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation trying to force MMO developers to have a way to cancel subscriptions online, inspired by complaints from the father of a FFXI player.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Nintendo will be hosting a New Year's telethon for its Nintendo Video service from the evening of New Year's Eve until the wee hours of January 2. The company is inviting calls and votes during the event, and the winner of the fan favorite votes will be featured on the service as a prize.

The announcement doesn't specify where the telethon will be broadcast, but it's a pretty safe bet that it won't be on TV. You'll probably be able to find it through the 3DS itself, making it more of a 3DS-a-thon. The event kicks off at 6 PM EST on December 31, and ends at 2 AM on January 2.

The winner will be dubbed the favorite video of 2011 and be featured on Nintendo Video for five days. If you're not familiar with the service, it's lets you use your 3DS to check out a constantly-changing selection of 3D movie trailers, shorts, and music videos.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Now that Gears of War 3 has been out for a while and Christmas is behind us, Epic's shooter has seen off the rush of people who'll buy it sight unseen. Now it's time to court those strange and unusual people who prefer to "play" video games before coughing up cash, and so publisher Microsoft has released a demo.

The demo offers "Shipwreck," the opening chapter of the second act in Gears 3's campaign. No doubt, Marcus and the funky bunch will face an obstacle which they shall then overcome, perhaps by shooting faces until they are no longer recognisable as faces.

Xbox Live Gold members can download the demo now, if you happen to live in certain corners of the world. The USA certainly has the demo, but Canada and Great Britain are among those excluded. Sorry, rest of the world, we're evidently not properly prepared for this taste of Gears of War.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

"Oh, another Katamari game?," I quipped as I saw the PlayStation Vita demo station equipped with Touch My Katamari. It's hard to get excited for a Katamari game, especially after countless sequels have failed to reignite the spark that made the original PS2 games so charming. Perhaps rolling an ever-growing ball o' stuff is just a one-trick pony.

Touch My Katamari still doesn't feel "new" or "fresh" to me, but it does add a number of key features that make it one of the most novel Katamari games I've seen in a long time.

The title should make it evident that touch is the biggest twist to the game. Although Vita comes equipped with gyroscopic sensors, Namco Bandai has opted not to use motion controls for this portable iteration. Instead, the game offers two control methods: an entirely touch-based method, and a more traditional control scheme that takes advantage of both analog sticks.

Katamari was designed with two analog sticks in mind, and that's arguably the best way of playing the game. It didn't take long for me to navigate the world, collecting a number of doodads. It felt like classic Katamari all over again. There is a novel Vita-exclusive twist, however. Touch My Katamari takes advantage of the Vita rear touch panel--and it actually works! (Unlike most other titles I've played so far...)

The rear touch panel, used in conjunction with the front touch screen lets you "pinch" the Katamari, letting you flatten the Katamari and pick up more objects. You can also squeeze the Katamari vertically, making you less capable of picking up objects, but faster. By manipulating the size and shape of the Katamari, you'll be able to navigate the environment in new ways, and try to discover secret areas. This mechanic added an extra layer of depth that's easy to appreciate.

While Namco Bandai has expanded the gameplay in this latest iteration, ultimately the game involves you rolling a ball. While I Love Katamari is downloadable for $6.99 on iOS, Touch My Katamari is a full retail release on Vita. Namco Bandai argues that this is the biggest Katamari game to date, and with a number of psychedelic videos included on the cartridge, it's easy to see the production values behind the title. But, do people really want that much Katamari? Especially since--in spite of Namco Bandai's best efforts--Touch My Katamari doesn't feel like an entirely "new" experience.

Shacknews - Xav de Matos

Super Monday Night Combat is currently in beta, but that doesn't mean developer Uber Entertainment is hiding the stars of the free-to-play title. We've already detailed the intricate (and crazy) bios of SMNC's Karl the Renaissance Robot, the award-winning gorilla actor-clone Sir Cheston, and the mer-eel-raised superhero Captain Space.

During our final day of character reveals, Shacknews introduces players to Wascot--a 33-year-old dishwasher from North Rhode Island who is obsessed with Monday Night Combat's mascot Bullseye.

There are fans and then there's Frank Deerfold, otherwise known as Wascot. The 33-year-old dishwasher had dedicated his life to following the Monday Night Combat scene, obsessed with everything that revolves the sport--but mostly, the mascot Bullseye.

"Frank turned the bedroom in his mother's house where he slept into a shrine, plastering thousands of images over the walls, ceiling- even the floor," his bio reveals, showcasing his fondness for the sport.

Listening to over first 17,000 episodes of the Monday Night Combat post-game radio show, Frank spent the last hour of each episode on the phone, hoping to speak with his hero Bullseye. One day, by chance (and possibly fate) his call went through. Bullseye, however, accidentally disconnected the call. This, as you might expect, sent Frank into a frenzy...and Wascot was born.

"He lay in bed for weeks, staring at the images of Bullseye covering every square inch of his squalid room while in a catatonic state, replaying the phone call in his mind over and over again." It was this slight that turned his life around and into a "new and terrible direction."

Frank Deerborn, a.k.a. Wascot

      Pro Career

    • Has killed Bullseye over 1,067 times (includes six incidents outside of sanctioned matches).

    • Does his patented "Bullseye dance" at the end of each game, hoping to catch Bullseye's attention.

    • Holds the record for most kills in a game by a rookie (all Bullseye inflicted).

        Personal

      • "Close, personal friends" with Bullseye, his "soulmate".

      • Not allowed to come within 100 feet of Bullseye.

      • Founded the “Bullseye Foundation”, a non-profit organization that gives grants to youth-oriented programs on behalf of Bullseye (note: Bullseye is not affiliated with the Bullseye Foundation).

        DNA shared

        Marilyn Deerford & unidentified musician

          Likes

          Bullseye, breaking and entering Bullseye’s apartment, sleeping in his car near Bullseye’s apartment

            Dislikes

            Bullseye, mood stabilizers

              Shoots Bullseye: Anger, then despair -- "How do you like me, now, Bullseye! Huh? How do you like me now? Oh my God! What have I done?"

                Kills opponent: Ecstatic -- "That was for you, Bullseye! Everything's for you!"

                  Taunt: Desperate -- "I love you Bullseye! I know you love me, too! Someday, we'll be together!"

                  Shacknews - Steve Watts

                  Gearbox Software is bringing some new classes to Borderlands 2, with lessons learned from the previous game's skill trees. Now the studio has detailed the skills for one of those classes, the wild dual-wielding Gunzerker.

                  The Gunzerker's primary action skill is dual-wielding, but the wrinkles come from building from three skill trees to modify that ability. The Rampage skill tree accents the "berserker" roots of the character type, to make the dual-wielding more destructive. The Yippe Ki Yay skill in the Rampage tree, for example, grants more gunzerking time for each kill, so large groups of enemies get laid to waste.

                  The Brawn skill tree, meanwhile, seems more attuned to being a tank in multiplayer. The Come At Me, Bro skill taunts enemies to focus their attention on you, reduces damage, and puts you at full health -- providing a helpful distraction for your teammates.

                  The third tree is Gun Lust, which focuses on unique abilities with guns. The No Kill Like Overkill skill converts any extra damage you do to an enemy to health for you. Swapping to a powerful weapon like a sniper rifle would deal overkill damage to restore their health.

                  As in the previous game, you can select skills from various trees, and combine them for more powerful effects. Combining Money Shot with No Kill Like Overkill means the last bullet in your chamber is more powerful, which makes getting health back with the Overkill ability easier.

                  "We won't talk specifically about how you do respec-ing," lead designer Jon Hemingway told IGN. "You know in the first game respec-ing was ridiculously cheap to do and you could do it whenever you wanted. We do everything we can to encourage experimentation so the players can try out the different things."

                  Using a grenade while gunzerking throws two grenades, but the second doesn't cost ammo. "What we're really seeing people do is they will collect a grenade mod which explodes and then throws out additional grenades when those all explode. When you combine that with this it's like it's a room clearer. Just very quickly 'boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.' Everything dies," said lead writer Anthony Burch.

                  "The skills and the loot really have interesting kinds of interplay," said Hemingway. "All the skills and all the loot have been sort of designed in such a way that you can combine them in these crazy ways."

                  ...