Daily updates on video games and popular culture, along with Australia’s grooviest gaming podcast.

Pardo exits Blizzard

Posted by Karen Jacobson On Tuesday 8 July 2014No Comments

The sun sets on Pardo’s tenure at Blizzard.

In an impassioned message on the Battle.net forums, Rob Pardo, Chief Creative Officer with Blizzard Entertainment, has announced that he is leaving after 17 years.

Probably best known as a Lead Designer on the company’s long running World of Warcraft MMO, Pardo has also made significant contributions to the long running StarCraft and Diablo franchises.

Pardo spoke about the admiration he has had for Blizzard, even before joining the team, describing it as “simply the best place in the world to be a game designer”.

Pardo has given no indication as to the reasons for his departure or what he plans to do next. The lure of a new, yet to be formally announced, MMO was seemingly not enough to keep him at Blizzard.

Could the gradually fading popularity of World of Warcraft have been a factor in his decision? Regardless, it will be interesting to discover Pardo’s future gaming venture.

End of the road for Age of Empires Online

Posted by Erin Marcon On Monday 7 July 2014No Comments

A few final stats from the creators of the game.

Another of Microsoft’s many attempts to revive its PC gaming fortunes has reached the end of the road. Age of Empires Online, the company’s free-to-play (but far from free) strategy revival, was last week retired with little fanfare. With no new content being produced for the game over the last 18 months, this decision will hardly come as a surprise to fans of the game.

While Age of Empires Online showed some promise, many were never entirely convinced of its merits, particularly with regard to its pricing structure. In his 2011 review for The Black Panel, a shocked Matt Hewson lamented the MMO-style grinding associated with the game, which was presumably designed to nudge players towards paid content. At that stage, players were expected to shell out up to $250 a year to access everything the game had to offer.

Development duties for Age of Empires Online passed from Robot Entertainment (Orcs Must Die) to Gas Powered Games (Dungeon Siege) shortly before the release of the game.

Return to Dead Island… again

Posted by Erin Marcon On Sunday 6 July 2014No Comments

It seems that fans of the Dead Island saga won’t be lacking for choice in the coming years. Just a couple of weeks after announcing Dead Island 2 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, publisher Deep Silver has thrown a bone to gamers still committed to previous gen systems.

According to Deep Silver, the newly announced Escape Dead Island “unravels the origins of the zombie outbreak” and bridges the gap between “Dead Island and the recently announced successor Dead Island 2”. While the publisher describes the game’s visuals as “unique”, they’ll probably seem familiar to anyone acquainted with Jet Set Radio, Borderlands, No More Heroes and other cel-shaded offerings.

While previous Dead Island instalments have been first person in nature, the action in Escape Dead Island will take place from the third person perspective. Cooperative elements have also been shown the door in favour of a strictly a single player experience.

Escape Dead Island is coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in spring 2014.

The Black List 252

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Saturday 5 July 2014No Comments

Welcome to The Black List, your one stop shop for the stories published on the site this week.

SUNDAY NEWS Single player Titanfall not on the cards > Only the most avid of Titanfall enthusiasts would argue that the game’s campaign mode was anything more than an afterthought. The story was relegated to melodramatic audio snatches layered over multiplayer sessions featuring the same maps and modes found elsewhere in the game. No, this was a multiplayer focused experience through and through. READ MORE

MONDAY NEWS Robot clarifies comments on toxic players > The studio responsible for the forthcoming Orcs Must Die: Unchained has clarified the remarks of one of its employees. In a recent interview with Polygon, Robot Entertainment designer Jerome K. Jones suggested that players perceived as overly aggressive are “not going to go away” and “honestly I don’t think you want them to.” According to Jones, these players are actually “driving the game” and “giving it longevity”. READ MORE

TUESDAY NEWS Oculus buys Carbon > It seems that Oculus VR has already started spending some of that fat Zuckerberg cash. It didn’t have much time to burn a hole in their pocket as they have agreed to purchase the Carbon Design Group. Who are Carbon Design you ask? Well making the fairly safe assumption that you are a gamer there is a fair chance you have one or more of their products laying around the house. READ MORE

WEDNESDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Underworld Ascension > t’s a case of out with the new and in with the old, with Otherside Entertainment forming with the aim of rebooting classic franchises. The studio will begin by revisiting the Ultima Underworld series from the early 90s. With EA owning the Ultima brand, the new game will be known as Underworld Ascension. READ MORE

THURSDAY NEWS Airtight closes > s reported by GeekWire, Airtight Games has closed after 10 years in the industry and a week after debuting its latest offering Murdered: Soul Suspect. Little is known about the reason behind the studio’s sudden closure, as there has been no official statement from company executives or even mention of it on their official website. It now appears laying off 14 employees earlier this year may have been a last ditch effort to keep the studio afloat. READ MORE

FRIDAY REVIEW WildStar > A colourful and engaging new entry in the crowded MMO arena, WildStar is a cracking experience that will engage veterans of the genre and newcomers alike. An exciting world, amazing amounts of customisation and satisfying combat set this game apart from the increasingly generic pack. It is still let down a little by some MMO staples such as grinding but don’t let that keep you from diving into this first rate experience. READ MORE