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No Gothic 3 Add-on From Piranha, But They Still Own 'Gothic'

We still don't know what were JoWooD thinking when they made the announcement that production on Gothic 4 has already begun (see yesterday's story), but the folks from Piranha Bytes / Pluto 13 were kind enough to explain us a thing or two about the dire situation in which their Gothic franchise now finds itself. Fortunately, we can still say it's *their* franchise, as they confirmed that "'Gothic' is a registered trademark of Pluto 13 GmbH and remains so". So the fans can breathe a bit easier now, we hope.

On the other hand, it's also true that "JoWood holds some usage rights, which might allow them to develop Gothic 4 without us", as the studio's managing director Michael Rueve tells us. He couldn't go into further details, though, due to the usual contractual confidentiality clauses with JoWooD that are still in place.

As for that Gothic 3 add-on that we were still uncertain about yesterday, well... let's just say you can forget about it. Piranha isn't making it, and we seriously doubt that anyone else will.

"We are not currently developing Gothic 3 AddOn or Gothic 4. Negotiations about these products between us have failed after more than 6 months", said Michael Rueve. "JoWood insinuates that development is already done by another team - but I do not really believe that, especially since they have not substantiated that claim."

So there you have it, embrace yourself for a really long wait until any future Gothic RPG... Let's just hope that it comes from Piranha, and that next time they'll get all the time they need to make it right.

(N.B. Archive text, links removed)
We're getting some very mixed emotions here, after JoWooD's latest announcement in which they confirm the production of Gothic 4. First of all, fans of the series will likely be disappointed to hear that original developer Piranha Bytes / Pluto 13 will not be working on the fourth chapter in their role-playing series. Their collaboration with publisher JoWooD has apparently come to an end, since they couldn't come to terms regarding the development of Gothic 4 (according to JoWooD's communique).

Secondly, the same communique statest that Gothic 4 is currently planned for PC and consoles. And worst of all, not "next-gen consoles", but "current-gen consoles"! That makes the project sound pretty obsolete already, and who knows how many years it will take to be completed. Especially when we take into consideration that JoWooD has yet to announce a developer for Gothic 4, as they are barely "in promising negotiatons (...) with various prospective development studios".

All this also seems to cancel the following statement made by Albert Seidl, CEO of JoWooD, last September (story):

"We are already working on add-on packages of JoWooD's SpellForce- and Gothic 3 series, which will partially be launched in 2007 already."

If JoWooD and Piranha have parted ways, odds are there won't be any other Gothic 3 add-on released. There are also some other things we're confused about right now (such as the ownership of the "Gothic" trademark), so we're hoping to get some comments on this from Piranha. We'll get back with an update if that happens.

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Need for Speed: Pro Street To Be Annouced On May 31

You'd think that four street racing / car pimping Need for Speed games were quite enough; but with Electronic Arts, enough is never enough as long as they have a milk cow on their hands. Which the NFS series obviously is. Gone are the days of driving out in the open, on treacherous mountain roads or down by the beach, and it seems that street racing is here to stay, whether we you like or not. But hey, at least there will be some massive damage re-implemented in the next (11th) NFS game, so... that's a good sign, I guess.

Apparently titled Need for Speed: Pro Street, according to the Czech EA website, the next game in the series is simply referred to as Need for Speed: Next on the NFS: Carbon website. And since countdowns are so "trendy" these days, sure enough EA also started one of their own. It should reach zero on May 31, at which point we expect that NFS: Pro Street will be properly announced.

In the meantime, a new image will be activated on the official website with each passing day, but most importantly, a teasing video is also available there in various formats. It doesn't show much, other than a "patched-up" car that seems to have gone through some rough races, and a few bits of action, arguably not in-game. Or who knows...

(N.B. Archive text, links removed)
Crytek Opens New Budapest Studio, For Non-FPS Games

For a studio that launched only two games so far, Crytek is expanding at an alarming rate. Albeit there's nothing really alarming about it. While their well-established studio in Germany is hard at work on the upcoming Crysis shooter (among other projects), and their younger Kiev studio is also cooking up some kind of secret original project, Crytek announces the opening of yet another European studio, in Budapest, Hungary.

Commenting on the news, Crytek's managing director Avni Yerli said that they chose Budapest not only because it's "a wonderful city" (with wonderful female citizens I might add), but also due to the "significant pool of very qualified and experienced game development talent already in place there". Something that's been proven for many years now, since the Hungarians have been making great games ever since the early '90s (Reunion warps to mind).

"We think it is a great way to widen our horizons and develop for a new gaming genre while continuing our company's strategic growth and expansion", added Avni Yerli. "It is also an opportunity to further leverage all the effort that our team has put into developing our proprietary CryENGINE 2 technology while building on our tradition of producing the highly innovative and creative kind of games for which we are known."

The marked passage above is reason enough to believe that the new Crytek Budapest studio will not be making another shooter, but some other kind of game - perhaps even a CryEngine 2-powered strategy game, given Hungary's specialty in this genre. We hope to find out soon enough.

In the meantime, let's not forget that Crytek has also been hiring for console development, including for the PS3. And there's also that Xbox 360 Crysis follow-up we've been hearing about some time ago.

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Having initially denied the existence of an 80GB PlayStation 3 model, after it was speculated in March, Sony now confirms that such a model is indeed lined up for release, but only in South Korea, where the console has yet to launch next month. Until recently, it was believed that the Koreans would only get the 60GB model, but all that changed yesterday, when the 80GB PS3 model made an unexpected appearance on Sony's Korean website.

The page clearly suggests that this model is to be released there on June 16, at a price of KRW 518,000 ($557 / €412), and GI.biz later managed to confirm this information with a Sony Computer Entertainment Europe spokesperson, who also revealed that the 80GB model will be the only model available in South Korea. No 20GB, no 60GB.

Could this mean that the rest of the world can also look forward to this enlarged PlayStation 3? Yes, it could, depending on what Sony decides for each territory. But as it stands now, "there are no plans to introduce the 80GB version of PlayStation 3 in Europe", according to the same source. And another spokesperson (Satoshi Fukuoka) basically said the same thing about all other territories, adding that "it could be an option to introduce it in other regions but it needs to be decided by each region".

For a company that has made a habit of living in denial, I guess we can expect Sony to slowly replace the 60GB model with the 80GB PS3 worldwide. Much like they're doing with the (former) 20GB model.

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When we think of American McGee, we try not to think about the last couple of games he smeared his name with - (S)crapland and Bad Day L.A. Instead, we think about Alice, that insanely twisted fairy tale action game he became famous for back in 2000. "We want more of that!", that's what we're thinking! And that's what we're hoping to get from his next twisted fairy tale project, American McGee's Grimm. We briefly wrote about it a few months ago (story), although we still had no idea when to expect it at that time. Now we have. Sort of.

After the first preview of Grimm was published by PC Gamer, McGee can finally start talking about his new game, and one of the first things we learn is that Grimm will be an episodic project, currently planned as a 24 part series. The first episode should be released in 2008 by GameTap, who can pride themselves with having delivered the entire first season of Telltale's episodic Sam & Max adventure game.

As expected, American McGee's Grimm will be a dark retelling of several Brothers Grimm (and maybe other) fairy tales, completely unlike the fluffy, "politically correct" variations promoted by the likes of Disney. So forget everything you saw in cartoons about tales like Cinderella, Snow White, or Pinocchio. To get an idea about the mood of the game, today we have another couple of disturbing artworks in our gallery, once again done by Spicy Horse artist Lin Ran (Spicy Horse being the new studio that McGee opened in Shanghai).

There's still much to be revealed about this game, but from the little we've seen so far, we're inclined to believe that the spiritual sequel to American McGee's Alice is finally coming.

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We waited and waited, but it seems that Eidos is still not prepared to properly announce the next game in the Deus Ex series, leaving us with the oh-so-brief revelation from a few days ago, made during an interview with Patrick Melchior (Eidos France general director) on Canadian station MusiquePlus. Although the theme of the interview was actually Tomb Raider: Anniversary (recently confirmed for the Wii as well), monsieur Patrick couldn't resist saying that the first mission of the young Eidos Montreal studio will be to bring back the Deus Ex series.

About 40 developers are currently working on the future Deus Ex 3 (replace "3" with some uninspired subtitle), but before we get all excited, let's not forget that neither Warren Spector, nor Harvey Smith - the "illuminati" minds behind the first two parts - have anything to do with Eidos anymore, ever since they left the Ion Storm studio (also shut down in the meantime). However we do hope that it won't be another shitty game like Project: Snowblind.

It might be interesting to note that the DeusEx3.com domain was reserved by Eidos since 2000, in the same year that the first Deus Ex was being released - which, by the way, has just been declared the best PC game ever on CVG. And in 2003 Warren Spector was already rushing to "confirm" the Deus Ex 3 project, saying only that it will continue the story of Deus Ex: Invisible War.

So, until further novelties, we're patiently waiting for Eidos' other upcoming projects, including Tomb Raider 8 (the next one after Anniversary), planned in great secrecy for Christmas 2008. (thanks Dan)

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What may seem like a terrible news at first, should actually bring us a sigh of relief. No longer shall we be confused about the black and orange "flavours" in which the next Half-Life 2 episode will be packaged, because Valve has cancelled the PC-exclusive Black Box pack, leaving only the larger Orange Box collection. The latter also includes the original Half-Life 2 game and the first expansion (HL2: Episode One), so those who already have these PC titles and were hoping to get away with just the Black Box, will have to pay an extra $10 for the full deal.

In IGN's report, Valve's Doug Lombardi makes the following couple of noteworthy mentions:

"Those who purchase the PC version of The Orange Box will get three separate Steam product codes: One for the three new games (ed. - Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and Portal), one for HL2, and one for Episode One. This way a PC Orange Box owner can give away their Half-Life 2 or Episode One unused Steam product codes if they don't need a copy of those games."

Just to make things perfectly clear, here are the five titles bundled in the Half-Life 2: Orange Box pack:

- Half-Life 2

- Half-Life 2: Episode One

- Half-Life 2: Episode Two - the second installment in Valve's episodic trilogy advances the award-winning story, leading the player to new locations outside of City 17.

- Portal - a pioneering type of single player action game that rewrites the rules for how players approach and manipulate their environment - much like how Half-Life 2's Gravity Gun reinvented the way gamers interact with objects in the game.

- Team Fortress 2 - an all-new version of the legendary title that spawned team based multiplayer action games. The game's daring new art style features the most advanced graphics of any Source-based game released to date.

Last we heard, the Half-Life 2: Orange Box for the PC (priced at $50) was still on for an autumn 2007 release, with the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions (priced at $60 each) set to follow later this year.

P.S. Valve confirms plans to stay independent.

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StarCraft II - Hell, It's About Time! // UPDATE - third trailer

We feel terribly sorry for those who were hoping that Blizzard would announce a World of Lost Vikings MMO today, but the game confirmed after years and years of very plausible rumours, is StarCraft II. The fans' enduring patience was eventually rewarded in full, as this morning's actual announcement also brought the first sets of screenshots, artworks, wallpapers and, yes, trailers. Two of them even! A cinematic trailer and one showing gameplay footage among various artworks.

The grand official revelation was made at the 2007 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational event in Seoul, South Korea, in recognition of the most hardcore community of fans and professional players who made a career out of StarCraft. It's no wonder therefore that the future StarCraft II promises to be the ultimate competitive real-time strategy game, returning with a fast-paced multiplayer over the Battle.net service (in an upgraded version), thoroughly balanced and pitting against each other the same three races we got used to for nearly a decade: Protoss, Terran and Zerg.

That's not to say the single-player component will be overlooked: far from it! There will of course be a solid campaign for those who would rather enjoy the game offline, but at least for the time being "the blues" aren't in any rush to talk about the story in StarCraft II. However, you might spot some clues in the aforementioned trailers... particularly at the end of one of them...

Among the novelties revealed today on the freshly opened official website StarCraft2.com are some new Protoss units, and a similarly refreshing treatment will also be applied to the other two races. Even some of the classic units, says Blizzard, are being trained some new abilities, and the gameplay mechanics will be tinkered with accordingly. The most obvious change, however, is the new 3D graphics engine, compatible with DirectX 10 and integrating the Havok physics system, and ready to show some huge armies not only from a unit-count standpoint, but even some of the units will be pretty huge themselves.

Finally, StarCraft II will be accompanied by the powerful editor currently used by Blizzard, with a launch planned simultaneously for the PC and Mac (no consoles in sight so far). All's well and dandy, but instead of finishing their announcement with at least a vague release date, Blizzard left us hanging with an unfulfilled curiosity, simply inviting us to wait a few more months...

P.S. There's another gameplay trailer coming tomorrow!

UPDATE: "Tomorrow" actually turned into "Monday", but either way, it's here: the new StarCraft II gameplay trailer, showing over 20 minutes of Protoss-centric strategic action! This is the same demo shown at the event is Seoul. [21.05.2007, 17:20]

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If there's one game that deserves to be called the most unexpectedly cool shooter of 2004, it's gotta be The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Starbreeze did a fantastic job turning the movie into a PC and Xbox action game, leaving many to hope for a next-gen Riddick sequel. Well... it may not be a suquel, but it sure as hell is next-gen. According to a MCV UK report cited by Pro-G, the original is being remade (and partially continued, we hope) for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, more than likely by Starbreeze once more.

The remake is said to be titled The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, with the report indicating that the game will feature an extended single-player campaign, brand-new online multiplayer and a developer's commentary mode. Pro-G couldn't get any more details from their "official source" at Vivendi, but was promised that "an announcement is coming soon". Goodie, that's the best non-denial ever!

The original game was set before the events of "The Chronicles of Riddick" movie starring Vin Diesel (and the 2000 cult classic "Pitch Black", which first introduced Diesel as enigmatic anti-hero Riddick), and it told the story of Riddick's dramatic escape from the previously inescapable triple max security slam Butcher Bay, home to the most violent prisoners in the galaxy.

You're free to guess where Assault on Dark Athena will come in, although the more practical thing to do right now would be to wait for Starbreeze's other next-gen action game that rapidly nears completion: The Darkness, spreading over the PS3 and Xbox 360 in late June 2007.

(N.B. Archive text, links removed)

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