Gaming update: Chris Roberts, Linux Gaming, Wii U teardown, SOE & Wikia and a new PSN store

Welcome to another weekly gaming update here at The TechnoFile. This was a great week for new releases with two high profile titles launching: Dishonored and XCOM Enemy Unknown. Both are getting great reviews, but gamers of a certain age might also want to check out Retro City Rampage which is some kind of an 8-bit nostalgia trip, or so the marketing materials tell us. I haven't played any of these games yet. So many titles, so little time. All three of these titles are available for Windows, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

If you're running Linux, you may have heard the rumblings that Valve is porting Steam to your favorite OS. The beta is coming soon and now we have a leaked list of launch titles, courtesy of linuxgamenews.biz:

... those taking part in the Linux Steam Beta can expect to play a selection of somewhat outdated games at launch comprising Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Crusader Kings 2, Cubemen, Dynamite Jack, Eversion, Galcon Fusion, Serious Sam 3: BFE, Solar 2, SpaceChem, Steel Storm: Burning Retribution, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, Trine 2, Waveform and World of Goo.

It's not a huge list but hopefully it'll grow quickly. Valve seems pretty serious about supporting Linux as a way of voicing Valve co-founder Gabe Newell's displeasure with Windows 8. And Newell may have a point. Already it seems Microsoft is putting limitations on the "Windows 8 store" and won't allow ESRB Mature rated games on there. As Kotaku points out, this isn't a huge issue here in the US but in Europe anything rated above PEGI 16 will be disallowed, and that includes a lot of big titles.

Next up, Sony Online Entertainment is partnering with Wikia.com for its official player communities for Planetside 2 and EverQuest 2. This partnership should leverage both the passion of fans and the in-depth knowledge of Sony personnel to create a comprehensive player destination. In the past, SOE has struggled to keep its own community sites, such as eq2players.com, updated in a timely manner. Offloading the infrastructure to Wikia.com and letting the players help out should make for a better all around product.

Prior to partnering with Wikia, SOE was in a partnership with ZAM Network that began back in 2009 and ended earlier this year. SOE gave ZAM access to live game data which allowed ZAM to in turn give players browser access to in-game tools such as the Broker (a marketplace for buying and selling virtual items). It sounds like the Wikia deal means SOE is moving away from data-driven content and embracing a more guide-like approach. (I should note that the EQ2 Wikia page is not new and has been a valuable resource for players for some time; SOE's official blessing of the product is what's new.)

Moving on, Nintendo made the news this week when it did something unusual: it posted a teardown of its own hardware, the new Wii U console. We didn't get full details of what's going on under the hood but there's still some good reading to be had for hardware junkies. You can go straight to the source, Iwata Asks, or read Ars Technica's summary of the discussion.

And while we're on the topic of consoles, let's talk about the Playstation Store. I love that PSN offers so many full games in a downloadable form. Steam has taught me that I don't need plastic disks any more. But to call the layout of the Playstation Store 'sparse' is to be generous, so I was delighted to hear that the story is getting overhauled, and soon. Europe, Asia & Australia will see the new layout on October 17th and here in North America it'll arrive on October 23rd.

In addition to being easier on the eyes, the new store will have improved filtering, a better search engine and will segregate PS3 titles from those for the PSP or Playstation Vita. Visit the Playstation blog or VG247 for a few more details. Now Sony, how about working on Tuesday afternoon (that's when the store gets updated) download speeds?

Remember that Moga Game Controller we talked about last month? It's now available for pre-order from Amazon, and is headed to retail stores for its October 21st launch. It sounds like Best Buy, Walmart and Toys R Us will all be carrying the device once it launches.

And I've saved the biggest news for last. Well, it's the biggest news for those of us who grew up engrossed in the Wing Commander series of space-combat games. Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, who left the gaming industry a decade or so ago to make movies, is back. His new project is a space-combat universe that's kind of two games in one. Squadron 42 is primarily a single player game with a narrative-driven campaign where you'll follow a specified series of missions. Basically Wing Commander for today's generation of gaming PCs.

But Squadron 42 itself takes place inside Star Citizen which is a much larger, open-universe multi-player game where players can find their own adventure. Be a mercenary, a trader or a pirate. It's all up to you. So the product as a whole combines Wing Commander and Privateer, in a sense.

We're still two years from launch, but Roberts has set up a Kickstarter-esque system that lets fans pitch in now. It doesn't cost much to secure a copy of the game (and access to alpha and beta builds), and by spending more you get various starter ships and other perks. You can find out more at the Star Citizen website or get comfortable and check out this 11 minute video to hear Roberts tell you about the game he wants to build:

Ambitious, no? Perhaps a little too ambition? I'm almost getting a Battlecruiser 3000AD vibe from his pitch. My trepidation didn't prevent me from pledging $60 though.

Before I close I wanted to ask my readers what they've been playing and what your plans for the weekend are. I'm still fairly engrossed in Guild Wars 2, though I checked out the Planetside 2 beta yesterday and had a lot of fun with that. Sadly my FPS skills continue to atrophy with age but the spectacle of being in an epic sci-fi fire fight was really enjoyable. I'll apologize in advance in case I ever wind up on the same team as you; I'm hardly an asset! I also need to finally get started with the new XCOM game. So what will you be playing this weekend? Please leave a comment!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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