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Round-Up: Open AIM For Games, More Guitar Hero, Chinese EQII Ending

Today's news round-up includes America Online granting developers open access to its AIM service, the confirmation of a Guitar Hero sequel, and the discontinuation...
Today's news round-up includes America Online granting developers open access to its AIM service, the confirmation of a Guitar Hero sequel, and the discontinuation of EverQuest II services in China, as well as the latest GameSetWatch posts, product news, and Gamasutra job postings. - America Online has announced the Open AIM Initiative, designed to allow independent developers freer access to the company's previously closed-source AOL Instant Messenger service. The system has been used in online games before, such as Sega's The Matrix Online and Electronic Arts' Majestic, but AOL is now openly inviting game developers and other tool developers to integrate the service into their software. "The Open AIM initiative will allow game developers the opportunity to integrate community into their game play to give users a more active and engaging experience while playing some of their favorite online games," AOL Games general manager and VP Ralph Rivera. "This could be game changing for smaller developers considering they may not have had the resources to integrate a communications offering into their games." - RedOctane CEO Kelly Sumner has confirmed to UK trade magazine that the company is working with Harmonix for several future Guitar Hero sequels. "We are working on Guitar Hero 2, which will have 40-plus new tracks," said Sumner, as well as country music and heavy metal-themed expansions. The company plans to produce "a further five or six titles by the middle of 2007." In addition, says Sumner, a standalone plug and play version not requiring a PS2 may be in the works. Still unconfirmed are rumors of a second model of guitar controller modeled after the Gibson Flying V. - Sony Online Entertainment and local operator Gamania are preparing to end Chinese operation for EverQuest II, one of the more popular Western MMORPGs on the market. The beta test for the Chinese version of the software completed on March 1st, and following the March 30th end of Chinese operations, all data and player accounts will be moved to Western servers located in North America. The news comes right on the heels of reports that World of Warcraft, one of EQII's biggest competitors, is also facing problems in the region due to high lag and frequent outages. - Recent posts on Gamasutra sister weblog GameSetWatch include info on Plasma Pong, women and first-person shooters, news on the localization of Grasshopper Manufacture's Contact, and some actual news on the GP2X handheld. - Also updated today, product news on LifeMode's LifeStudio:Head's appearance in some new game titles, as well as the latest Gamasutra job postings, including openings from Backbone Entertainment, LucasArts, Disney Buena Vista Games, Datascope Recruitment, Cryptic Studios, Javaground, The Guildhall at SMU, Perpetual Entertainment, and Nihilistic Software.

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