Shacknews - Steve Watts

The hardcore tactical RPG Rainbow Moon will be getting a sequel in 2014. "Rainbow Skies" is coming from SideQuest Studios, the developer behind the original game from last year. The game is in the early development stages -- so early, in fact, that it's seeking freelancers to fill in some gaps.

On the SideQuest official site, SideQuest posted listings for a story writer, character concept designer and sound effect designer. The developer promises a number of new features for the sequel, including the ability to catch monsters and convert them to party members, new combo attacks, an improved side-quest system and new treasure-hunt quests, explorable buildings, and new mini-games.

IGN has further details. The game will have two parallel worlds, light and shadow, and the two will interact with each other. SideQuest is also trying to increase the variety so areas seem fresh, and they promise a new "emotion" system to express the characters' individual personalities.

SideQuest says the game is set for consoles and handhelds. Platforms are unconfirmed, but Nils Ngai from publisher EastAsiaSoft suggested the "chances for being a PlayStation exclusive are high." Meanwhile, SideQuest is still planning to release a port of Rainbow Moon on Vita later this year.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Fantasy MMORPGs may come and go, but dear old EVE Online stands firm, offering something unique and (mostly) not throwing money away lusting after World of Warcraft's crown. Developer CCP today announced that its Internet spaceships MMO has passed 500,000 subscribers for the first time in its almost-ten-year history, making it pretty pleased as it heads into the second decade.

"Ten years after release, it is incredibly inspiring that, through a lot of hard work from our EVE Online team, we are crossing the half-million subscriber mark," CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson said in today's announcement. "For me, this is a true testament that EVE can live on forever, as long as we do right by her. We have not come to this point alone; millions of players have helped push us to this milestone. I now know in my mind what I previously only believed in my heart: that EVE will outlive us all."

While this is a remarkable accomplishment, it hasn't all been plain sailing. CCP sunk an awful lot of time and effort into the 'Incarna' tech, but few players were particularly interested in it and it fell far short of what was promised. Incarna granted previously-disembodied players avatars to stroll around space stations, socializing, gambling in bars, running stores, and whatnot. When it finally launched, though, players could only stroll around their cabin by themselves. And, of course, what EVE players really want is to fly spaceships.

Pétursson later apologised for the "estrangement" CCP had caused with Incarna and a microtransactions upset. It also cut resources from its World of Darkness MMO to focus on EVE. Working on the spaceships side of EVE, CCP started winning players back.

With a few really solid expansions--free as ever--and a relaunch in China, EVE has now finally broken the half-million mark. The next big thing on the EVE scene is Dust 514, the free-to-play PlayStation 3-exclusive FPS which connects to EVE. Dust players can win territory for EVE corporations, while spaceships in EVE can bombard battlefields in Dust. It's in open beta now, if you're curious.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

More details about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have emerged, thanks to a set of German previews. Among the news is the revelation that those who have already taken up the mantle of Geralt will be able to import their data, which will impact which characters appear and how they react to him. His backstory is set in stone, however.

Previews in PC Games and Gamestar, as summarized by OXM, also state that towns will have more life to them. Citizens go about their daily business and will call the guards if they catch you pilfering. It introduces a combat system similar to Fallout 3's "VATS," letting you target specific body parts in slow motion. QTEs, meanwhile, are reportedly gone altogether.

Save-importing only applies to PCs as far as we know. PlayStation 4 is counted out because the previous game never appeared on the PS3. CD Projekt has committed to next-gen consoles, which almost certainly means Microsoft's as well, but without knowing how saves will be structured on the next Xbox it's impossible to tell if the save imports are even feasible on the system.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Avalanche Software has been dropping teaser images for its next game, which looks suspiciously similar to Just Cause 2. The latest has a man clad in garb similar to Rico Rodriguez jumping from a plane, which would be incredibly dangerous if not for a parachute. As Just Cause players know, Rico has plenty of those.

The teaser image from studio founder Christofer Sundberg (via Joystiq). Two weeks ago, Sundberg released a similar teaser image of the character on a bike. A follow-up from the studio head implies that this is building to an E3 reveal, which is pretty far away to start the drum-beat this early.

The smart money seems to be on Just Cause 3, but one other possibility has been proposed. This could be the long-rumored Mad Max game that had been reportedly in development at Avalanche until last year. Then again, Mad Max is all about a post-apocalyptic future where gasoline is scarce, and airplanes aren't exactly fuel-efficient.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Thatgamecompany co-founder Kellee Santiago, who left the Journey developer in March last year, is joining Android console company OUYA as its head of developer relations. Santiago tweeted that she is "looking forward to continuing my work in tilting the industry scales towards indie developers and more variety in game content." She added that she will still be "making stuff" while at OUYA.

OUYA founder and CEO Julie Uhrman announced the hire in an update on the company's official site: "We're calling her OUYA's DBF (Developer's Best Friend)."

Santiago has been a strong supporter of indie games, and is a founding member of the Indie Fund.

In other OUYA news, the console will be shipping to its Kickstarter backers on March 28, and hitting retail shelves in June, Uhrman said.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Activision isn't exactly hurting for money. Between the annualized blockbuster success of Call of Duty and the millions of people still paying a monthly fee for World of Warcraft, the company seems to be sitting pretty. But it doesn't want to stake its future on those successes, and has set other plans in motion in case they fizzle.

"A significant portion of our revenues has historically been derived from products based on a relatively small number of popular franchises and these products are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of our profits," reads an amended annual report. "For example, our four largest franchises in 2012--Call of Duty, Diablo, Skylanders and World of Warcraft--accounted for approximately 83% of our net revenues, and a significantly higher percentage of our operating income, for the year."

The report goes on to state that the "disproportionately high percentage" of revenues means they're dependent on those, and "failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results."

To deal with this potential pitfall, the annual report claims that Activision will be taking a few steps: shifting toward digital delivery and supporting online communities like those surrounding CoD and WoW, looking into free-to-play models with microtransactions, and developing new intellectual properties. It cites Skylanders as an example of a new IP that paid off, generating more than $1 billion in worldwide sales so far. Its deal to publish the upcoming Bungie FPS Destiny is said to be its next large step.

Shacknews - John Keefer

When Andrew visited Sony for his preview of The Last of Us, he got a look at the various stages of infection that Naughty Dog was using to create non-zombies. A new video developer diary goes into a bit more detail on the creation process, while showing off some game play at the same time.

The diary, entitled Hush, details how the look of infected was created, using images of diseases and fungus to get the right look and feel. It also explains a bit how the clickers use echo-location to hunt down prey, and shows how players can throw things to make sounds to distract them. It does a good job of creating the eerie feeling of dread when you hear the clicking noise.

The Last of Us is coming exclusively to PlayStation 3, but the release was recently delayed until June 14.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Mythic's Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes will shut down on March 29, having never officially launched. It simply didn't make enough money for EA to keep running it. The free-to-play PvP arena battle 'em up entered open beta in April 2012, where it has stayed ever since, and shall until EA turns off the servers next month.

"As a producer for this game from the start, I am proud of the hard work and effort that made the game possible and I feel sad that it is not able to carry on," producer James Casey said in the announcement. "I think we created something special and I would not trade the time creating it or playing it (on all those Friday Fight Fests and anonymously almost every day) for anything."

He describes the Warhammer Online spin-off as "a grand experiment," saying Mythic used it to test new server technology and "learn more about the free-to-play market." And have fun killing men, of course.

While Casey dances around the issue of why EA is shutting down WoH, the FAQ states it plainly: "Unfortunately, the project could not meet its financial goals to be sustained."

Any real money that players have invested in WoH's virtual currency Gems will vanish when the game shuts down, so you'd better get spending if you don't want to entirely waste it. Mythic plans to release a load of "work in progress" characters before then, so players can blow Gems on them to try something new at least. Anyone who's played WoH this year will receive free items in Warhammer Online too.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Plenty of people have noted the distinct lack of an actual hardware showing at the PlayStation 4 announcement, but the presentation didn't give much time to a much more prevalent part of day-to-day use: the user interface. Sony changed that today, with a set of screenshots showcasing the UI as it appears on the system itself, along with mobile and tablet mock-ups.

The interface, posted on Gematsu and later confirmed by Kotaku, looks as if it takes some cues from the recent PlayStation Store update. The game page includes a quick overview of friends, shared media, add-on content, and popular videos. We also get a look at the social page filled to the brim with throw-downs and videos, and a closer look at the Share feature with a "Trim Video" function.

Take a look in the gallery to see all of the screens.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is making the transition to PC, but Konami has no plans to bring it to the Wii U. So why is the company skipping the latest video game console on the market? According to producer Dave Cox, it comes down to budget and resources.

"The reason why we are developing it on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 is simply because that's the amount of people we got," Cox told Eurogamer. "If we want to do a Wii U conversion, that's another 20 people. We just don't have the resources or the budget to do it."

While Cox doesn't rule it out sometime in the future, "at this point we don't want to lose focus on what we're doing. We've got a certain way down the line, and it would be a distraction to have to do a port to another system at this point." He also noted that the office space intended for 60 employees is crowded with 110 currently, making bringing on even more workers a logistical issue.

Previously, when Cox announced that it was coming to PC but not Wii U, he noted that the Wii U doesn't have a large install base. That implies that if the system weren't suffering from a sales slump, the decision might be different.

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