Depressing Reminder: Xbox.com down for maintenance.


I nearly forgot that today was the day that Xbox Live was to be down for a backend update. Luckily, I just picked up Metal Gear Solid 4 to keep me company for a few hours after work, not to mention that both Heroes & a Pittsburgh Steelers game will be on TV tonight!

If that’s just not enough for you, Xbox.com came up with a funny list of the Top 10 Things to do while Xbox Live is offline… including tips like 9. Play through the story-mode of the original “Gears of War” so you have a story refresher before “Gears of War 2” launches in November. Practice your Roadie Run. A preview of “Insider Moves” to come? 😉

Sadly, you’ll even notice the “My Xbox” section of Xbox.com is offline. I guess I’m going to have to keep myself entertained chatting with folks on other sites, like Unscripted 360.

Peggle FINALLY announced for XBLA!


In an interview with Talking About Games, PopCap Games officially announced that Peggle would be coming to the XBLA. You remember Peggle, right? It’s that game that I confirmed was coming to Xbox Live on the 2nd day my site was open, clear back on January 4th? Other sites picked it up a few days after I broke the story, back in January, but it’s taken all this time to revamp the game, add some new multiplayer features and polish it up a bit. It’s going to be nearly an entirely new experience – and that’s exciting. So go read the interview, already!

[Update 1] Keep It Clean… Halo 3 reinventing itself?

For anyone having a hard time with Bungie.net, here’s a mirror for the “Large” Windows Media version of the new “teaser trailer.”
KeepItClean_Teaser_ESRB_720p30_ST_6300kbps.wmv. 47.9MB.

The teaser shows an interesting art style, different from the Halo 3 universe we’re used to. But it still doesn’t tell us much. Halo 3, prepare to drop – that’s about all it says. Let’s wait for the ultra fanboys to pick it apart. 😉

Update 1: Just like I said, wait for the ultra fanboys to do their job. And in about 1 hour, they did. Xbox Live advertising of some form has confirmed that this is a campaign expansion for the game, and the “video analysts” may have already found a release date for the project. Sadly, if they’re correct, we won’t see any new action until after the new year.

My sister taking part in a 10k AIDS walk… got a dollar?

A few days ago, I received a message from my sister. I’ve cut it up a little bit, here, but I wanted to deliver the general information in pretty much the same way she presented it to me. It’s a little humorous, that’s our writing style, as siblings. Anyway, the deal is she set up an account with AIDS Walk Los Angeles. She set a simple goal of $150. I would like to see her exceed that goal. After Edith’s Goal (more on that later), I think us helping her attain that $150 should be simple.

Now, I know this isn’t my traditional “gaming for charity” sort of thing, but keep in mind, that my sister is most certainly a gamer. And as always, it’s for a good cause! I don’t do these things for tax breaks, I barely do my taxes – I do these things for the sake of charity! I want to thank anyone who can give, any little bit helps reach her goal. So then, here’s what my sister had to say:

Once an while I get a charity thing in my head and… here it is.

The organization has provided me with a form letter to follow as a guideline so I’ve annotated it with a little extra information. Read on:

I am writing to let you know that I have registered for AIDS Walk Los Angeles and am very excited about the event [This is true]. This is a very important issue to me so I have set an ambitious fundraising goal [the ambitious thing is not so true]. I want to do as much as I can to make a difference in the lives of men, women, and children affected by HIV and AIDS. Even though there has been a lot of publicity about drug treatments which are prolonging some people’s lives, they don’t work for everyone and there is still no cure in sight [good general information]. Moreover, young people are still getting infected at alarmingly high rates [also true, but the old folks homes are another place it’s a big problem and I’m not kidding].

I want your help [Yes, need it]. Will you please sponsor me for the AIDS Walk [pretty please?]? Just click on the website address below to enter my personalized web page and charge your donation [They’ve assured me it’s secure]. Thank you, in advance, for supporting this important cause and for showing that you join me in wanting to end this epidemic [and if you do you rock, seriously].

And that’s that. Thanks for real if you can help out and if you can’t, send the link on to someone who can.

Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support AIDS Walk Los Angeles.

On her personal web page for the AIDS Walk, she also notes: “If you guys could kick down a little I’d really appreciate it. It’s a good cause. And yes, I’ll really walk it.” 😉 It’s a 10k walk, and you can get even more details here.

Life with Playstation: a bigger disappointment than I envisioned

For those not paying attention to real websites, but somehow stumbling on mine: Life with Playstation has officially launched. I need to watch the video that I just embedded here, but from all of my accounts, it’s not that great. PS3 Fanboys are complaining that it’s being compared too much to the Wii Weather Channel and News Channel. That’s not fair. It doesn’t have near the locality that the Wii’s Weather Channel has, and the news reading feature is impossible – even on a 42″ TV, everything I tried to read was far too small, and there is no “Zoom” feature like there is with their web browser.

I like what Sony is trying to do, here – just a little something extra for the PS3 owners. This sort of feature (at least weather) has been something I’ve been hoping for in the 360 for a long time. It’s a nice bonus. But I don’t care what the weather is like in Washington, DC, or New York City – I live closer to Philadelphia – but that’s not even an option! Let’s also not forget that this isn’t an RSS driven mini-browser, it’s just basically a web browser going through Google News. Thus, if a link takes you to a random third party website, and you get the “not enough memory” error that the PS3’s browser is famous for, too bad, chum. You don’t get to read that story. It’s a start, but here’s hoping for the next version, soon.

If you want to give it a try, it’s free and simple. From the Playstation Blog: “Life with PlayStation is now available for download by selecting the Folding@home icon under “Network” on the XMB.”

360 Getting Renamed? Or is it the Next Xbox?

A picture showed up at the doorstep of your favorite CAGCast, suggesting that the Xbox 360 was in for a name change.

Other news sites have picked up the story, suggesting that it may be the code name for the “Next” Xbox, others think it could be the revised name for the New Xbox Experience. Remember, when it was announced, it was hailed as the first time a console would essentially relaunch itself, entirely through software. Why not give it a new name, when you do?

The memo does note something about “metal plates” – an easy way to cover one name up with another. And calling this one “Xbox Pure” may alleviate the console naming and numbering scheme down the line (we’ve all heard 720 and all of that jazz…). Still, I’m more inclined to agree that it’s a working name for the next generation of hardware. We’ve all grown fond of the new Xbox Experience – if they really wanted to brand it as an entirely new thing, they would’ve been hyping up that name long before now.

I’m sure the discussion is well under way at sites like CAG, so rather than asking what you think, I’d say go join the discussion over there! Think of this as a PSA, helping to spread the word, and let’s thank places like CAG for being able to uncover some of the things they do!

[update 1] WBX: Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars Developer Interview!


WBX: WinBreak Exclusive
I’ve talked about it before, it’s the little game with the big name! Anyon who has been interested to see what Battle-Cars is going to offer may be thrilled to read this one. I sent off an email to Psyonix, not sure if it would ever be seen again. Amazingly, within a couple of days, my questions were answered by Director of Development Dave Hagewood himself! And if you’ve got unanswered questions at the end, place them in the comments, and perhaps I will be able to get them answered, or maybe Dave himself will stop by and answer them for you! Enough friendly banter, here’s the meat…

NuAngel: To begin with, I’d like to thank you for taking the time out of their your day for a lowly blogger like myself.
So, first question: what is your name, and what is it you do at Psyonix?

DH: I’m Dave Hagewood, Director of Development at Psyonix.

Nu: As you can probably tell from my website, I’m mostly an Xbox 360 gamer, who is still branching out to the other consoles. With the 360 having publically available tools like the XNA Studio and other familiar development tools, what draws you to develop on the Playstation 3?
DH: Sony has done a great job making their platform available to smaller-sized, independent studios. In fact, they pretty much welcomed us with open arms whereas there are an enormous number of titles competing to go on XBLA right now. XNA Studio is fantastic, but we are Unreal Engine developers at our core. UE3 makes it just as easy to develop on either platform and I think a lot of small studios don’t realize how accessible Epic Games has made their technology for downloadable games.

Nu: Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars appears to be Psyonix’ first full game – is it? And how was the process of developing a full game different from working on certain game types and levels as you have done in the past?
DH: It is our first title developed entirely in-house. We’ve been fortunate to have been involved with shipping games all the way to completion several times before so it actually went pretty smoothly as this is a smaller game than most we have worked on. We are also self-publishing the game however and that definitely presented a new challenge for us. Lots of paperwork!

Nu: Have you considered porting the game to the Xbox Live Arcade, or even the Wii Shop?
DH: The game is exclusive for PLAYSTATION(R) Network right now but XBLA is definitely a platform we are considering for the future.

Nu: How did the concept come about / How was this game first pitched?
DH: We started thinking about it shortly after we did Onslaught for Unreal Tournament 2004. I’d always wanted to do something we cars that can jump and it just went from there. We had the idea that by “bootstrapping” the development in between outsourcing projects we could develop the game for as long as we wanted, with no real deadlines or budget restrictions. Because of this the concept actually changed quite a bit. It started out as more of a track challenge game. From there it went to a vehicle combat multiplayer game, and finally the soccer-based we have today. We didn’t intend for the soccer game to be much more than mini-game at first but after playing for a while we quite literally became obsessed with it around the office. At that point we knew it was the game we had to do.

Nu: Though “arena” concepts have to be similar, how many levels will be shipping with the game?
DH: Three levels will ship with the game with more to come shortly after release over DLC. We really want to support a community around the game and do as much free DLC as possible.

Nu: Free is always music to the ears of people out here! Here’s hoping! Are the cars like players in a sports game, with different classes or stats? Or are all vehicles created equal?
There are subtle handling differences just because of their different shapes but for the most part they are equal. We see the game as a serious competition game and we don’t want to introduce balancing issues with cars that have differing stats.

Nu: Let’s say I just downloaded the game, can you give me some advice as a first time player?
Make sure you learn to powerslide right off the bat so you can do a quick turn. Also, don’t be afraid to jump to hit the ball!

Nu: How many players can play the game online simultaneously? Will the game include local split screen? If so, can split screen players also go online?
DH: 8 players online, 4 players split-screen, and yes, split-screen/online combos are supported. We wanted to support everything mutliplayer! We even support a persistent team system where you can register a team with your friends that actually gets ranked in the leaderboards with its own name.

Nu: Very interesting! Few games support a good team system! Will the game support regional / global leader boards?
DH: We totally support leaderboards, both individually and team-based.

Nu: Do you have any plans to release downloadable content?
DH: Yep, as I mentioned above we already have a new arena that will be ready very shortly after release.

Nu: Is the game being released internationally?
DH: US is coming first with Europe shortly afterward.

Nu: Is there a target release date or a set price point, yet?
DH: Not yet, but we should be announcing that soon. Right now all I can say is early Fall.

Nu: You guys have a history of working with modders-turned-employees… do you have any plans to include a level editor and level-sharing (ala LittleBigPlanet) to see what your fans can create?
DH: That is a very big endeavor for a downloadable title. It is something we would love to do in some way in the future however.

Nu: And the irresistible question: the previews for Gears of War 2 have shown quite a few “vehicle” scenes. Were you guys heavily involved with the production of Gears 2?
DH: Actually we’re not involved with Gears of War 2 this time around. Besides, we would have insisted they call it Super-Destructive Cover-Jumping Locust-Blasting Chainsaw-Fest! 😉

Nu: I would totally still buy that game! 🙂 I want to thank everyone for their time, and wish you the best of luck in with Battle-Cars and all future endeavors. Final question: would you be willing to share you Playstaion Network ID so we can find you online for a challenge?
DH: Sure! I’ll be on as “CapitalistDog”.

Nu: And that’s it for my interview with Dave Hagewood, Director of Development at Psyonix!

I can’t thank these guys enough, it seems like they have gone above and beyond to take their time out for a little site like mine. I truly appreciate it.

You may have noticed I forgot to ask about a demo – well there are murmurs about one floating around out there, and I have asked Dave a follow up just to get some kind of confirmation. I will update this article when I hear back from him. I doubt we will be able to get a date on that, as the final launch date for the game hasn’t been officially set, either – but we’ll all know soon enough. And you can bet WinBreak will be covering that as soon as it happens! Until then, thanks for reading another WinBreak Exclusive.

Update 1: I contacted Dave about the demo question… kindly, he got back to me within hours. Are they planning a demo? DH: “Absolutely! We expect to release a demo the same day as we release the game.”

Gears of War 2 ViDoc #1: "Touch the Sound" – download it here!


Yesterday saw limited release of some Gears of War 2 promotional videos! “Touch the Sound” is the first in a series of ViDocs – and this one, of course, dealing directly with the sounds in the game. I’m quite excited to see it, myself!

Here is the official press release:
Today, Microsoft releases “Touch the Sound,” the first in a series of video documentaries that showcase the development of “Gears of War 2.”

“Touch the Sound” features interviews with Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski, senior producer Rod Fergusson and “Gears of War 2” soundtrack composer Steve Jablonsky (composer of the “Transformers” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” soundtracks). They describe the impact of the rich variety of audio in “Gears of War 2,” from the sound design to the voice acting and musical score.

Additional video documentaries will follow in the coming weeks, leading up to the worldwide November 7th launch of “Gears of War 2,” the Xbox 360 exclusive sequel to the 5 million selling “Gears of War.”

Then fun part is that I was given the opportunity to download multiple versions of these videos – some had improper capitalization (the “I” in the word “VIdeo”), and misspellings, and the other video package was corrected. True, this could be simple typographical error, or a drunk employee, but the fundamental difference is that one package is 4MB Larger, and is rated by the ESRB. One claims it is “No ESRPB” – whatever that may mean!

Any way, knowing my audience, why waste time with the ESRB rated crap, eh? I haven’t watched them, but knowing CliffyB (I will continue to use that name), these non ESRB ones will contain Not-Safe-For-Work (NSFW) language, and copious amounts of gore. Maybe there’s just no ESRB tag at the beginning of the video? Like I said, I haven’t had a chance to watch and compare. But for now, here are your links:
WMV Download in 480P (78.5 MB)
WMV Download in 720P (283 MB)

Keep in mind, this isn’t “Touch the Sound,” the documentary about Evelyn Glennie, the deaf percussionist. 😉

Pre-ordering Dead Space? Let us help!


I have fallen in love with Dead Space. I decided, today, that I wanted to be sure I got my hands on it as quickly as possible. I have even become so involved with the story that I wanted to buy the “Dead Space Downfall” movie – in Hi Definition BluRay, of course. I looked in to Best Bu to preorder both, so I would have a copies reserved at my closest Best Buy Store come launch day. At this time, only the movie was available for preorder, no the game, and the BluRay version was $30. I kept hunting.

Again lacking the preorder for the game, Wal-Mart is taking preorders for the movie as low as 19.98 for the BluRay version.

The game and movie are both available for preorder at Amazon. The BluRay movie is $2 more than Wal-Mart’s price, but you can currently save 5% ($3) and preorder either the PS3 or Xbox 360 version for $56.99.

Still want more? Alright then, how about this: Pay the full $59.99 directly from The EA Store or from GameStop and get a limited edition artbook, entitled “The Art Of Dead Space: Designing a Nightmare.”

One more: eStarland is selling the Xbox 360 version for $55.95, and the PS3 version for $56.95.

To be entirely honest, I haven’t even decided what I’m going to do, quite yet! But if you find any more deals (particularly better ones!), then by all means, pelase let us know! And remember, if you see the game as low as $50, it’s probably the PC Version.

Wii: Still no Hard Drive, but something in the works?


Club Nintendo had an article, and the fans over at GoNintendo.com just had to get it picked apart and translated. The article was an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto ad Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo’s top dogs. Based on the efforts of the community, one of the more interesting questions asked had to do with re-designing the console to include a hard drive. Miyamoto responded that something was in the works, but not to expect it any time soon. Clarification in why not to expect it came with Fils-Aime’s response, when he noted that console redesigns often happen when sales are in a slump.

A notable question also came when they were asked about Xbox 360’s upcoming Avatars. The Nintendo rep’s happily replied that imitation was the highest form of flattery!