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Newsbriefs: The Ship Sails, Gamers Try, DEFCON Mods

[UPDATED: 4:49pm PST] Today's regularly updated newsbriefs include news of The Ship sailing to retail shelves, a new survey on gamers desire to 'try before they buy, and user-created mod and map support now added to Introversion's DEFCON<
[UPDATED: 4:49pm PST] Today's regularly updated newsbriefs include news of The Ship sailing to retail shelves, a new survey on gamers desire to 'try before they buy, and user-created mod and map support now added to Introversion's DEFCON. - Retail distributor Merscom has announced an agreement with Outerlight to bring the developer's first person murder-mystery The Ship to retail shelves in the first quarter of 2007. The Ship has been a popular third-party mainstay on e-distribution platform Steam since July of this year, but will now be available offline for a retail price of $19.99. Said Outerlight managing director Chris Peck, “Outerlight are delighted to be working with Merscom to bring our flagship title The Ship to our North American fans, as Merscom have shown a consistent belief in Outerlight and The Ship from the start. Since the game’s release on Steam in July, The Ship has had a great response from both gamers and the games press.” - A new survey released by anti-piracy group ECD Systems has found that a majority of consumers prefer a 'try before you buy' model before making gaming purchases, despite many publishers not yet offering one. Their survey showed that more than a third of gamers currently try before they buy, either by hands-on in-store demos, online, or through a friend. An additional 75 percent get opinions from friends, and 60 percent look online for additional opinions before buying. Said ECD CEO Jack Hart, “This survey shows that consumers have an appetite for finding new sources of information on video games, and that more and more people want to try before they buy. The sites currently available lack some of the features that respondents to this survey were looking for. We see a clear need for a comprehensive source of game information where consumers can exchange opinions, find new games and test games before committing to a purchase.” - Representatives from Darwinia developer Introversion have announced the release of a patch for their latest mutually-assured nuclear sim DEFCON, which gives support for user created maps and modes. Introversion's modding forum is hosting a map editor related DEFCON tools, and a complete third party mod list is available for already created new maps and creations, including maps for Australia, the UK, outer space, and "Ghost Hack," in which users "hack into each other’s cyber brains and blow them away!" - On top of its recent XNA release, Microsoft has announced a new software development kit specifically to aid in the development and programming of robotics. The Microsoft Robotics Studio gives robot-makers a drag-and-drop visual programming language and a PhysX-enabled 3D virtual environment to simulate robotics applications. In addition, more than 30 robotics industry hardware companies have pledged or already include support for the new Robotics Studio, including the LEGO Group and iRobot, makers of the house-sweeper Roomba line. The Microsoft Robotics group will also be the primary sponsor of July's RoboCup 2007 competition on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta. - Despite a growing chorus of concern over violence against non-Christians in the recently released Left Behind: Eternal Forces, with the head of the Christian Alliance for Progress calling the game's objectives "antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ" and calling for a ban of the game from nationwide Wal-Marts, Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon is defending the game as "inspirational entertainment." Lyndon also promises an upcoming patch to the game may quiet journalists and critics who have dismissed the game on more technical terms. Elsewhere on the religious gaming front, Manifesto Games is distributing word of the availability of The Shivah as the first Rabbinically-led game. Gamasutra recently covered The Shivah at length as part of its recent report on IGDA's Demo Night 4. - The latest updates on Gamasutra sister alt.gaming weblog GameSetWatch include the creation Bully according to Rockstar, the results of a recent Japanese '3 Minute Game' competition, and a collection of links covering such topics as backlash against Second Life, Orbital Media's handheld efforts, and Sony's PR tactics. - The latest updates from Gamasutra sister website Game Career Guide include a call for papers for the upcoming Computer/Human Interaction 2007 (CHI 2007) Workshop on "Supple Interfaces: Designing and evaluating for richer human connections and experiences." - Also updated today: the latest Gamasutra job postings, including openings from Amaze Entertainment, Blue Fang Games, EA Tiburon, Gameloft, Irrational Games, Relic Entertainment, THQ, Vigil, Volition, and Wizards of the Coast.

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