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Archive for March, 2009


   
 

SEGA Merch Week: The Box of Awesome, Day 2

With the amazingly massive Dreamcast bag lifted, today it’s time to check out some more items from the Box of Awesome.

When I was in elementary school, your lunchbox said a lot about you. No self-respecting boy would bring a lunchbox that didn’t feature something cool, like Dinosaurs, or Ninja Turtles, or – of course – Sonic the Hedgehog. Back then, we all imagined ourselves as a super-fast blue dude with sneakers who saved the day and collected rings – now, when teachers ask the age-old “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question, kids have a new option:

I want to drive a taxi with three clowns in the back seat head-on through traffic, ramping off trucks, through parks filled with people, until I arrive at Pizza Hut or KFC – all the while jamming out to The Offspring.”

I’m not sure how many of these were made, but there’s no doubt whoever has one is among the coolest kids in school.

Next up is the first T-shirt I found in the box. Fly like a butterfly:

It’s a girl’s shirt and also a small, but there were larger sizes (and a male version) made among the originals. I spoke with Clumsy about other Jet Set/Grind Radio merch, and he showed me a very cool shirt from the original JGR for Dreamcast – expect pictures of that shirt on the blog sometime in the future.

Tomorrow we’ll be checking out two more vintage items from the box – one of which is a pretty neat item that involves everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog.  (And that’s no April fool’s joke.) Catch you then!

 
   
   
 

SEGA Merch Week: The Box of Awesome, Day 1

It’s an odd line to start a blog with, but I’m doing it anyway: Earlier this afternoon, I came into possession of… a box.

Now normally, I wouldn’t really blog about getting my hands on a dimensional piece of cardboard – but what matters, as everyone knows, is what’s inside the box. This time around, we totally hit the jackpot – and, just like with those MadWorld hoodies, I feel I owe it to you guys to show you the awesome goodies that I have discovered. Let’s take a look…

Behold: The Box.

As I soon found out, the Box contains exclusive merchandise from the SEGA days of years past – it was filled with stuff from the old SEGA building before the move, and has apparently just now seen the light of day once again. You can tell it’s going to be awesome just from the Dreamcast Bag on the top – which you can see in more detail here:

*Cue Dreamcast Startup Intro*

This, Dreamcast fans, is the one piece of merchandise that everyone with a fifty-pound laptop (or small child) truly needs. It’s huge, emblazoned with the Dreamcast logo on the front, and could probably fit my Dreamcast and my entire collection of games inside – which is saying a lot; I’ve got stacks of games at home.

The back has four straps – two if you want to try wearing it backpack style (might look a little odd), a large strap for carrying it over your shoulder, and a smaller strap with a grip for your hand. The inside has a laptop pocket and four – yes, four – mesh pockets for holding whatever you want to hold, but I think they’d make a fine place for a VMU, some extra controllers, and a few games. 8)

Join us tomorrow as our adventures into the box of awesome continue. (If you guys want to see any more pictures of the merch we show, just comment with a request and I’ll add more shots to Flickr.) We’ll see you guys again tomorrow!

 
   
   
 

Stormrise now downloadable on Steam!

Great news for all you Steam and RTS fans out there, as Stormrise has just gone live on Steam! This means you can skip the trip to the mall or game store, and download the game straight to your PC instead.

Anyone want to hit up some multiplayer versus or team matches over the weekend? Drop a line in the community forum over at Stormrisers – I may actually hop in soon, just need to get a bit more practice…

Have a good weekend everyone!

 
   
   
 

Valkyria Chronicles Anime Trailer (Japanese)

I don’t speak Japanese (very well), but those of you who do – or more importantly, all you Valkyria fans – should definitely check out the new trailer for the anime, if you haven’t already:

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Fansubbers at the ready? 8)

 
   
   
 

The Conduit @ GDC- Two New Videos

Straight from the Games Developers Conference, two new gameplay videos of The Conduit have appeared over at GameTrailers. The quality is decent for a handheld camera and shows off two environments from the upcoming game, enjoy!

The Conduit @ GDC on GameTrailers

The Conduit @ GDC on GameTrailers

 
   
   
 

Stormrise ships across the US!

Thunder booms across the country as gamers count down the hours… The storm may still be a day or two away for most gamers, but it’ll be here before you know it!

As of today, Stormrise has shipped to retailers across the US! While the realistic date that you can pick it up is still a little ways off, you can also give a ring to your local gaming store and find out when they expect to get them in. The nice part about Stormrise is that you can pick it up on either 360, PS3, or PC, so if you have any of those you’re set to go!

Once you pick it up – or even while you wait – you can talk about the game straight up with other players and even the development team over at the Stormrisers community! They have some fantastic concept art too, which I would highly recommend to those who study or enjoy some really well-done artwork.

I got into the game a fair bit over the weekend, and although it took me just a bit to get used to Whip Select, I think the concept of the game is very cool. Voice acting and the storyline were also very well done – and I’m sure it’s not just because I’ve been playing a certain new 360 RPG lately with both scripting and voice acting that makes me cringe every time I hear it – either way, Stormrise really impressed me in that field. (Well, it may just be the old English major in me speaking. Maybe.)

 
   
   
 

Empire: Total War Team Q&A

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With Empire: Total War currently flying off shelves around the world, we spoke to several members of the Creative Assembly to get their thoughts on the game and spill the beans on their winning tactics!

Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your role on Empire: Total War?

Mike Brunton – My name is Mike Brunton and I think my current job title is Head Writer and Senior Designer, but who can say? According to some the words “paranoid” and “curmudgeon” may appear in there as well, but I say in reply: who are these little bastards, and why are they following me around? :-P I think I’ve written quite a lot of the words on Empire: Total War, or did I? Perhaps some of the historical content, whimsy and the occasional humorous asides in the game would, if dusted for prints CSI-style, lead back to me.

Lee Cowen – I’ve been at CA 10 years in May. So I’m a veteran of the company having been on the 2001 Rugby World Cup game, followed by the PS2 version and then onto Rome: Total War where I was the campaign map guy. Following this was Barbarian Invasion and Alexander and now Empire: Total War.

On Empire: Total War I’m part of the battle team responsible for all the naval combat that is the cannon fire, the crew and the ship locomotion.  My other main job was the battlefield buildings. Getting them from our 3d modeling app onto the terrain and creating the internal structure logic of the building.

Jerome Grasdyke – Hi all, my name is Jerome Grasdyke and I’m the lead programmer on Empire.

Kevin McDowell: Hi all, I’m Kevin McDowell, Lead Artist on Empire TW. I co-ordinate and manage the art team and supply art direction.

Tom Pickard – Hi, I’m Tom Pickard and I’ve been on the total war team since the summer of 2006. I’ve been working on the campaign map primarily since I arrived and have been involved in most stages of its development over the past 2 and a half years. I am a big Total war fan so as you can imagine landing a job on the TW team and having to not mention a thing about it for 2 years till it was announced to the public was pretty hard…

Pawel Wojs – My name is Pawel Wojs and I’m an artist on Empire.

James Buckle – I’m James Buckle, Senior Tester and Internal Support Lead on Empire.  I walk around QA and whip the testers with a cat if they’re bug count gets too low.  Sometimes, between whippings, I like to drink a nice cup of tea and play the game.

Mark O’Connell: I’m the PR and Online Manager for Empire: Total War and have been with the Creative Assembly since September 2006. Some of my responsibilities include press and community events around the world, running our websites, speaking to our lovely community and spreading the word about all things Total War. I also did quite a good job on the company Christmas tree last December!

Which part of the game are you most proud of?

Mike Brunton – I’m quite chuffed I managed to use the words “genuphobe”, “tympanitic”, “air loom”, “jugs” and “pie-shop hussar”. Actually, I’d like to see “Pie-Shop Hussar” on promo T-shirts – maybe I should ask… I’m also quite pleased that the original tech tree, buildings and army lists from my early drafts of years ago survived reasonably intact into the published game. Quite a lot of the development process ends up developing stuff out of existence as needs and targets change, but in this case it looks like the first stabs were going in mostly the right direction. They’ve been extended, tweaked and polished since by many hands (some of them under the conscious control of their owners!), but that’s the nature of development.

Lee Cowen – The gameplay involved with making the naval battles fun to play. It’s not everyone cup of tea but the demo seems to have gone down really well in the community

Jerome Grasdyke – Whoa, where to begin? Empire’s such a rich and varied game that it’s really quite hard to pick a favourite feature… I guess I’d have to go for the new campaign map, which I think has worked out really well. It gives the artists a lot more control over the look of the map, and they’ve definitely made great use of it in places like India and the Caribbean.

Kevin McDowell: The new campaign map is a really big step up from what we have had in the past. The ships are wicked too.

Tom Pickard – On a Personal level, I’ve been involved with the campaign map pretty much from the start, when I arrived the concepts we’re done and the project approved so it was a case of getting down to it. It being a massive aspect of the game to work on and have a chance to influence the direction of the campaign map as we move into a non tile based design was a great experience.

The campaign map for at least a year and a half was somewhat of a minefield of new features and experimental tech, a lot of new coders and new ideas mixed with a now un-tiled handmade map, made in 3d Max(…. that one took a while :P) this map would drive the path finding and was originally meant to be the graphical side of things too, however with some rather frank admissions that this would be unworkable as both sides of the map, the wonderful graphics programmers worked their butts off to make me a more usable system that would give us (well me and Ben the other artist working on the map) greater control of the graphical side of the map. The campaign programming team on the other hand we’re using my max map to the fullest, as we started to create something that looked so unbelievably complex just so you the player would get a continuous experience across the world. Over the Last 6 months and many late nights we’ve all brought this together and polished it to be the largest TW map and something I hope all the players spend many, many months looking at.

Pawel Wojs – Literally every aspect, the game as a whole. I’ve seen it grow for the past 3 years, having played it to death, I still can’t get enough of it, and I’ll be playing it compulsively for a long time to come.

James Buckle – It’s hard to pick out any one feature, it’s just a big pile of awesome.  But I think the naval battles really stand out.  Few games have tried it and fewer have made it work.  We’ve managed to capture the essence of naval warfare and make it fun on our first attempt.  Building your first 1st Rate, sending it into battle and seeing it blow the crap out of an enemy ship with a single broadside is a really satisfying moment.  Having said ship attempt to board a pirate galleon only to be repelled, set on fire and blown in two by its powder magazine is a little less satisfying.  Damn those pirates and their wily pirateness.

Mark O’Connell: I love the entire game and it’s been an honor and a privilege to work with the talented team that created it. That said, I am particularly excited with what has been achieved with naval battles. I still can’t help but be impressed with the level of detail and depth of the new mode, which stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the other modes in the game. It’s also a lot of fun when a well-placed shot causes your opponents ship to blow up!

What is your favorite faction to play as and why?

Mike Brunton – I’m going to be dull and say the British, but that’s only because I know where to find Britain on a map, mostly. My grasp of geography south of Doncaster is a little vague. It’s a wonder that I ever find the CA office some days.

Lee Cowen – I’m currently playing Road to Independence Episode 3, so I have to say America. I’m very much into US history and politics anyway and our game fits perfectly into that. It’s good that we went ahead with RTI as it really helps with learning the mechanics of campaign map. As I was the campaign map coder on Rome and have had little to do with that side of the game this time around, it’s interesting to compare the differences. There is so much more to it now, it’s scope is massive in comparison. Rome’s campaign map was much smaller. Basically it was myself full time, plus 2 or 3 other programmers.

Jerome Grasdyke – Usually I play as the United Provinces. It’s a good challenge since you start with few territories, but you’ve got money, some targets close by and a presence in all three theaters. I like the Ottomans as well as they’ve got quite a few colorful units which are fun to experiment with.

Kevin McDowell: Sweden’s fun, you’re in your own little corner, and there are lots of different ways to break out of it…you play a land or sea game, it’s up to you.

Tom Pickard – Well… I do love playing Prussia as a faction, but when I had a campaign where I allied myself with Austria and invaded Poland and France in swift powerful moves before I was stopped as I marched towards Moscow…. sounded a little too familiar for me… So then I played as Sweden and found them to suit my style of warfare, controlling the Baltic and invading Russia (sorry Russia I seem to pick on you whenever I’m an eastern/Northern European faction) Struggling with my economy until I secured enough trade deals and regions I’d captured became well enough behaved to tax properly. Before sweeping through Denmark into the thick of Europe’s elite armies. I’m going to plug for Sweden with Prussia a close second…

Pawel Wojs – The Ottomans! Out of all the factions I’ve played they are pretty much the toughest on the highest difficulty settings, I challenge anyone to play as the Ottomans, without saving and reloading when everything goes wrong.

James Buckle – That’s a tough one, I’ve had a good run on all of them and each one is a different playing experience.  I’ll probably go with the United Provinces.  You have a foothold in both the American and Indian theaters right from the start, bringing in lots of trade.  Your home region is sat next Westphalia, Bavaria and Hannover, so you have lots of minor factions to stomp on.  Of course, it’s not all roses, if you pick on the wrong little guy and he’s allied to one of the heavyweights you’re in trouble.  France and the UK are right next to you. Pick a fight with them and they will raid your trade routes, blockade your ports and generally ruin your day.

Mark O’Connell: I have probably spent the most time with the British. Being an island nation they are pretty well protected in the early game and you can work on establishing a foothold in the United States. They also have an excellent navy, which is ideal for suppressing pirates and setting up trade routes abroad. I have also really enjoyed playing as the Marathas because of their unique units and setting as well as the United Provinces when I fancy a challenge!

Have you got any tips or winning tactics that you’d like to share?

Mike Brunton – Don’t spend all your money. Keep up with the Joneses (as it were) with tech research. And never, ever, do what I did (repeatedly) and put your immovable saker cannons in a spot where they can’t hit anything. That’s really stupid, I can tell you. And remember to go fish mining – no, hang on, that’s in one of those MMORPGs, isn’t it?

Lee Cowen – Keep your ship’s in formation or you’ll end up micromanaging every single ship. Cross the enemy’s line if their sails are up and chain shot them.

Jerome Grasdyke – At the risk of stating the obvious I tend to pile in with superior forces – my victories are mostly won on the campaign map before I even get around to fighting the battles. That does mean actually paying attention to diplomacy in this game though.

Kevin McDowell: No. Loose lips sink ships.

Tom Pickard – Strong Allies, Aggression, and knowing when to run away and save your troops. Also one of my weaker aspects is my economy, most of my wars become bloated and once a campaign is completed I have to slash army numbers just to balance books… Not good when you’ve just declared war on France and its allies, and failed to take Paris.

Pawel Wojs – Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of melee, even in this period and especially if you have elephants in your army :p.  Play RTI even if you’re a total war vet, you won’t be disappointed! Also build up a strong economy, and protect your trade routes at all cost!

James Buckle – Some of the tactics I used in the previous games don’t work in Empire as it’s a different kind of warfare, but most of them can be adapted.  One that still works and is as old as the hills, is to stack units on one flank and then wrap around the enemy line.  The cross fire it creates will ripe the enemy units to pieces.  Unfortunately, this tactic tends to fall on its face when the enemy has greater infantry numbers.

I leave you to figure out how to get around that problem.

A sneaky tactic I sometimes use is to attack the flanks with galloper artillery.  I hide them in the woods to the side and wait for the enemy to line up, once they begin firing, pop up on their flank and fire straight down the line.  The effect can be devastating, whole rows of men get wiped out by canon fire.  If you can get it in close, hit them with canister shot, it’s brutal.  Be aware of their cavalry units, they will often be floating around on their flanks and, if ignored, will quickly obliterate your artillery and with them any chance for victory.

The new naval battles gave me a headache for a while, it’s a new aspect of the game so I couldn’t adapt old tactics in the way I did for the land battles.  This took a quiet a while.  A great tactic when you’re outnumbered by smaller ships, which happens a lot with all the pirates around the place, is to sail away from them in a zig-zag.  As they follow you, turn into them and fire chain shot at their sails, then turn away and reload.  With their sails torn to pieces they will fall away.  Keep this up and as each ship is immobilized it will be left behind by the chasing pack until you have a whole fleet of strung out and disabled ships.  You can now turn around, park out of range of their guns and shred them with round and grape shot until they surrender and leave you with a tidy little prize.

Mark O’Connell: In naval battles, set a couple of your ships up sideways in the deployment phase. Then unleash a devastating assault of chain shot as your enemies move into attack. It’ll leave them sitting ducks in the water as their masts come crashing down into the sea. Then you can maneuver your fleet to catch them in deadly crossfire of round and grapeshot.  Here’s another tip – select any unit during land battles and press the ‘Insert’ key. It’s awesome.

Finally, do you have any messages for our community?

Mike Brunton – Thanks for being so informative and enthusiastic/keen/mad for it/vaguely threatening (delete as appropriate) in your posts over the years. Now go and enjoy yourselves playing the game!

Lee Cowen – This is one of the largest games ever written, with massive scope, so bear with us if you have any issues, we always consider your comments. Just enjoy what’s great about the game.

Jerome Grasdyke – Just to remember to take it easy, and enjoy conquering the world (again). And also, that Total War would not have become what it is without their enthusiasm and support.

Kevin McDowell: Have fun! Try playing different nations. There are lots of different play styles available.

Tom Pickard – First, I hope you enjoy, and I hope it’s as much fun for you guys to play it as it has been to make.

I’d also like to take this to address a one of the things I’ve seen repeated on the forums (see we do read them ;) ) The areas we covered (or the areas we left off the map): I understand many people’s frustrations at not seeing their country/faction, or not seeing all of say Siberia or China or Australia to capture, but the map is massive, it is truly giant on so many levels and it took lots of designers and many art/coders/producers months of wrangling to decide which areas should make the first draft of the campaign map, This was based on so many deciding factors, and then it took a year or so after to slim it down to a size that was both manageable and fun, and most importantly the gameplay /style/loading times/so many other things was vastly improved because of the time we we’re able to spend polishing the (vast) areas we ended up focusing on. Also If we gave you the world what would the fantastic TWMod community do ;)

Pawel Wojs – Enjoy! We’ll look forward to your feedback, in the forums.

James Buckle – See if you can find the kittens.

Mark O’Connell: I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your feedback and support throughout the duration of the project. We have a lot more planned in the coming months so stay tuned to www.totalwar.com for the latest information. Oh, and thanks for reading!

 
   
   
 

Satisfy Your Bloodlust: 26 Goriest Kills in MADWORLD

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Even if you’ve played MADWORLD all the way through, chances are you haven’t discovered all of the different ways to kill someone in the game. In case you missed it, GamePro has you covered with their story “26 Most Insanely Gory Kills in MADWORLD”.

Some are kills you probably discovered already — how to snap someone in half, impale them on spikes, or smash them in the death press. But did you know you could flush enemies down the toilet, skin them with bullets, or deep fry them? Here’s an excerpt from the article to whet your appetite.

#4: Deep Fry

One of the most satisfying methods of extinguishing the lives of your enemies in MadWorld is by dunking their carcasses in Asia Town’s giant Tempura-frying vat. Throw an enemy in the pot of flesh-boiling oil and they’ll rise to the surface once they’re extra crispy. You can even pick up their deep-fried corpse and chuck it at other bad guys if you’re feeling extra evil.

When the urge for new and creative kills strike, try one of these.

 
   
   
 

High Voltage Interview on IGN – New Story Details

IGN had a chance to sit down with Joshua Olson and Eric Nofsinger of High Voltage Software and discuss The Conduit’s story and dive into some of the questions that everyone’s been asking. Here’s a snippet:

IGN: Exactly who is Agent Ford, who does he work for, and how does he specifically become involved in the anarchy in Washington DC?

Josh Olson: Agent Ford is a U.S. Secret Service agent. He is clean cut, has a square jaw, and doesn’t drink or smoke. He’s idealistic and follows orders. He believes in honor, duty, service to country. He likes baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. These qualities draw the attention of John Adams, head of an enigmatic government organization known as The Trust, who recruits Ford to help track down a terrorist cell and reclaim some stolen Trust technology. Ford quickly finds himself in the middle of a much bigger crisis and heads down a long and dark rabbit hole in the interest of doing his duty for his country – and ends up… well… that’s part of the fun.

Find the rest of the interview at IGN!

And, as luck would have it (or is it something more sinister, from the shadowy figure across the way), we’ve seen a new release of some new screenshots. We’ve upload the full batch to our Flickr page, so click on through to see the new images.

 
   
   
 

We’re Now @Sega on Twitter

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We’ve been tweeting under the Twitter username @SegaAmerica for the past few months, and our European colleagues have been tweeting under @Sega_Europe.  We recently decided that we’d like to tweet as one, and the kind folks at Twitter have released the username @Sega to us. I’ve re-registered @SegaAmerica and set it up with a “we’ve moved” message.

If you were already following @SegaAmerica, you’ve been automatically transferred over and don’t need to take any further action.

If you were following @Sega_Europe but not @SegaAmerica, please go to our new page and follow @Sega.

If you were never following us, but would like to, please go to our new page and click “Follow”. You’ll need to sign up for a Twitter account if you don’t have one already.

If you’re new to Twitter and don’t understand what it is, here’s a great video from CommonCraft.

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Please help us spread the word about this change. We’ve been fortunate enough to be listed on a few “best of twitter” blog posts, and we still want people to easily find us.

Follow @Sega on Twitter now!

 
   
   
 


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