Shacknews - Steve Watts

Microsoft is throwing its financial weight behind Halo 4 as its big fall release, including a marketing strategy that involves a live-action web series. The series will be called Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, and will play out as five weekly installments, each around 15 minutes long. These will lead to the game's November 6 launch.

Variety reports that the story will focus on a young UNSC cadet, inspired by Master Chief, who eventually becomes a leader on the UNSC Infinity. The new character is said to tie into the plot of Halo 4 as well. The series will be viewable through the Halo Waypoint portal and Machinima, but the report hints at other platforms after the web debut. We would guess that means a Blu-Ray/DVD release akin to Halo Legends.

This will be Microsoft's largest investment to date in a live-action project, ever since plans for a Hollywood live-action movie fell apart. It's keeping most of the details under wraps for now, including the cast and director. The report states that it plans to reveal more specifics during the San Diego Comic-Con in July.

"Every time we do a live-action commercial the audience says, 'We want to see more so that we can explore the 'Halo' universe a little bit more,'" said Frank O'Connor, franchise development director at 343 Industries. "Demand grew more and more out of the two little vignettes we'd previously produced." But, he notes that delving into the series lore is "a big commitment." The company wanted to make sure people could enjoy the series without being neck-deep in its mythology, so new viewers wouldn't feel intimidated.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Are you in need of a new graphics card? Do you have about a thousand bucks just laying around? Do you tend to overdo it? The solution may just be the the GeForce GTX 690, NVIDIA's latest flagship graphics card. It boasts some impressive stats and design, and for that price, it really should.

The company announced the card on Saturday. It's powered by two Kepler GPUs, which the company boasts makes it almost match two GTX 680s in SLI, a difference of 2.8%. In terms of sheer stats, it has a base clock of 915 MHz, and a boost clock of 1019 MHz.

More specific details, along with shiny bits of technology porn, can be found in the announcement. NVIDIA points out that its price means it's "not a graphics card for everyone." Then again, if you're in the market for a luxury item and don't want to upgrade your card for a while, you can find ways to justify it to yourself.

Shacknews - John Keefer

If you are prone to nightmares, I suggest you do not watch this video. Hellspawn, glowing eyes, massive monsters towering over a cowering woman, and all that is good and holy trying mightily to keep the hordes at bay. It's not pretty, but it is entrancing.

Blizzard released a new Diablo 3 TV commercial announcing the impending return of the Lord of Terror to PC on May 15. The latest cinematic offers never before seen imagery from the game and should have gamers salivating even more over the thought of battling the inbound beasties.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

You may be enjoying your 3DS, with it's relatively small but quality library, SpotPass feature to be exploited at PAX, and loads of free games if you were a sucker. But we know that deep down, you wish that the system could match your Prince outfit during your weekly 90s pop-star cosplay parties. Nintendo knows too, which is surely the explanation for the new Midnight Purple 3DS.

The new color launches May 20 for the standard $169.99. It will be the fifth available color for the system, after Cosmo Black, Aqua Blue, Flame Red, and Pearl Pink. (Nintendo names its systems like Crayola crayons.) Most likely, this color is meant to widen the system's appeal to girls, as Nintendo has had luck in the past with expanding its handheld market toward the female demographic.

If the release date sounds familiar, it's because it's also the release of Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS, so anyone buying the system for the game will have that color option. That naturally leads to the question, what does purple have to do with tennis? And also, why did you memorize the release date for Mario Tennis Open?

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

It appears the rumors were true. Capitalizing on the "huge success" of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, the prolific publisher of hedgehog has announced a sequel: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Developed by the same team as the original, the sequel once again remixes a wide cast of Sega characters in a race towards the finish. This time, however, there's more than meets the eye--these karts can transform.

"When the road falls away beneath you on Super Monkey Ball's Temple Trouble track your car transforms into a boat and speeds down the rivers and rapids, whilst the Panzer Dragoon inspired track, Dragon Canyon, takes you into the sky in complete control of your plane, barrel rolling to out-maneuver rivals and obstacles before transforming back into a car and racing to the finish line," Sega's press release describes.

Of course, this being a Sonic game, you can expect it on nearly every platform imaginable: Xbox 360, PS3, Vita, 3DS, and PC. The original All-Stars Racing also managed to get an iOS port, so that's something to keep in mind. Expect the sequel later this year.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

A trio of devs who worked together on the BioShock series, including the writer and lead designer of the excellent BioShock 2 DLC Minerva's Den, Steve Gaynor, have set up their own indie studio. As you may expect from their pedigree, they're hoping to create "immersive places" and tell a "deep, personal story" with their first game, which curiously described as "nonviolent."

Together with Gaynor, who you may also know as 'Hot Scoops' of the Idle Thumbs podcast, Minerva's Den assistant director and graphic artist Karla Zimonja and programmer Johnnemann Nordhagen have co-founded The Fullbright Company.

"We missed working on a small team, on a small project, focused on telling a personal story in a player-driven way," Gaynor writes in a blog post. "We wanted to do that again."

Our intent in the end is simply to make a great game. A memorable experience that you'll be drawn into, and keep thinking about after the game's turned off, and want to come back to again someday. An experience that gets away from the constraints of ossified game genres, while relying on what we're good at as a team: creating immersive places to inhabit, and a deep, personal story to explore at your own pace. A nonviolent game in an unfantastical locale; an experience that not many games provide, built out of techniques that only video games can employ.

"We're working on a firstperson noncombat game for PC," he added on Twitter, "all about exploring a place & discovering what happened there."

What exactly that game is, is still under wraps, but the aspirations are certainly admirable.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Publisher dtp entertainment filed for insolvency yesterday, throwing the impending release of Awesomenauts into doubt. The German publisher has also been behind games like Divinity II and The Cursed Crusade, and now is in the uncomfortable position of needing to reorganize or liquidate its assets.

IGN reports that Awesomenauts developer Ronimo isn't certain about the release of Awesomenauts given this new development. "At the moment we're unsure what this means for [Awesomenauts]," said Romino's Jasper Koning. The developer says it is "working hard to try and resolve the situation."

It couldn't come at a worse time for Awesomenauts. The game was set to launch this week, and was even going to be offered as a free PlayStation Plus bonus. It seems that free goodie--and the release in general--will at least be delayed while dtp and Ronimo figure out a solution.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Update - Sony has tweeted that Awesomenauts will launch tomorrow as planned on the PlayStation Network, and will still be free for PlayStation Plus subscribers.

Original Story - Publisher dtp entertainment filed for insolvency yesterday, throwing the impending release of Awesomenauts into doubt. The German publisher has also been behind games like Divinity II and The Cursed Crusade, and now is in the uncomfortable position of needing to reorganize or liquidate its assets.

IGN reports that Awesomenauts developer Ronimo isn't certain about the release of Awesomenauts given this new development. "At the moment we're unsure what this means for [Awesomenauts]," said Romino's Jasper Koning. The developer says it is "working hard to try and resolve the situation."

It couldn't come at a worse time for Awesomenauts. The game was set to launch this week, and was even going to be offered as a free PlayStation Plus bonus. It seems that free goodie--and the release in general--will at least be delayed while dtp and Ronimo figure out a solution.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

One of the primary designers of the Uncharted series is leaving Naughty Dog to pursue a professorship at the University of Southern California. Richard Lemarchand was co-lead designer on Uncharted 3, but soon he'll be teaching at the Interactive Media Division, and working on experimental games for a research project.

Gamasutra reports that Lemarchand has been closely tied to USC for years, having been a guest speaker and lecturer. He'll begin teaching next year, after a three-month backpacking trip around the world. He'll be bringing his laptop on the trip to begin his research and start toying with the experimental game ideas.

"It seems like a natural transition point," said Lemarchand. "I was involved with the development of the Uncharted series not quite from the beginning, but almost... and even though the Uncharted series isn't intended to be viewed as a trilogy, maybe there's something about the number three that felt... there is a certain amount of completeness for me."

He says he's always wanted to try to make a more "avant-garde" game, but felt Naughty Dog deserved his full attention. Now that Uncharted 3 has wrapped up, he says he feels "very lucky" to be given the opportunity to explore smaller games in an educational setting.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

League of Legends has earned a name for itself as a kind of spectator sport -- as the packed crowds at trade shows and broadcast highlights would indicate. So it only makes sense that Riot Games' next update will include a full-fledged spectator mode.

The mode will let you watch your friends' games while in-progress, or you can choose from a list of featured games that showcase some of the best LoL players around. All live games come with a three-minute delay to avoid cheating. If you're playing a game, you can toggle an option to make a game private so others can't view it.

The replays will also feature "Timeshift" controls, letting you rewind, slow down, or pause a game even if it's live. Then you can fast-forward to catch up or jump back to the live display. Plus, the AI can direct the camera so you don't have to futz with it yourself. Check out a rundown of the features below.

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