Russ posted some great news yesterday that’s worth a look if you missed it. EA and Valve get dressed for halloween. I’m fascinated by the business decisions surrounding the release of this episodic content. As the episodes become further and further separated (this Episode 2 pack will be hitting roughly three years after Half-Life 2 was first published), Valve and its partners seem to be doing everything they can to pull back those gamers whose attentions have strayed. Here’s hoping the 360 port is glorious good fun. But… bundles and packages for the PC version? I thought the philosophy of Valve’s Steam service was to allow games to be released when they’re finished, rather than on an artificial timetable.

The upcoming new IP for PS3 by developer Naughty Dog (Jak and Daxter series) has been leaked and ineffectively plugged. 1up has the story of a Naughty Dog employee who let slip (in an "Oops, whatever have I done, oh dearie me" fashion) not only the title of the new game (Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune) but a handful of stunning and not-final screenshots. Sony has, like a little Dutch boy or my vegetarian friends, stuck its fingers into the holes of the dyke, but the data are out there. Uncharted is going to be a rip-roaring exploration adventure, with Indiana Jones cited frequently as inspiration.

Time for your daily schadenfreude! You remember how bad the load times in Sonic the Hedgehog for the 360 were, right? (This video will gladly illuminate them if you walk in blissful darkness.) Gamebrink is now running a review of the PS3 version with uncorroborated claims that the load times are worse than those of the 360 release. If franchise fans aren’t tired of complaining about (or, more humorously, defending) their beloved spiky-thing, expect more outrage to hit your favorite haunts soon. All this does for me is increase my hope for the quality of Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Wii, so that I might climb upon the heaps of discarded 360 and PS3 discs like a warrior on a mound of skulls and reach for that goal of goals: the beautiful, brass ring.

With Utah now a fading memory, North Carolina is now considering the adoption of a state bill to classify M-rated videogames as harmful to minors. GamePolitics reports that the wording of this new bill, SB87, is different from the Utah bill, but the intents align pretty closely. Essentially, if passed SB87 would protect minors from these harmful videogames with the same methods that pornography is kept out of their grubby little hands. (Which is to say: not well at all.) Here’s the full story.

On the "things that excite Ian" front, screens and info about a certain Japanese developer’s foray into Microsoft’s XNA framework have been circulating. EvilAvatar’s got a good thread about it here. The XNA framework, designed so that hobbyist gamers could create game content for both the PC and, with some finagling, the 360 has sparked imaginations, but it’s still too early to really see impressive results. Some skilled developers seem to be making good progress, though. Encouraging this kind of hobbyist participation, even with the restrictions that MS has placed on it, is miles ahead of Sony’s draconian lockdown measures on the PSP in inspiring user interest, and maybe even loyalty.

Speaking of which, Sony has released PSP firmware version 3.11, now available to download from Network Update. The release notes say it fixes a bug for R-types, a PS1 game only available to download in Japan. Also, "Support for PLAYSTATION Network titles has been expanded," which strikes me as something similar to when I tell creditors that, "The EFT is in the mail." (i.e., a bald-faced stopgap lie.)

I’m a sad little man, so I take some pleasure in making this joke: Are you ready to rock out with your Wii out? Nintendo has announced that they plan to "double their offerings" for DS and Wii in fiscal 2008. The quote goes on to mention that one of those offerings unto heathen gamers will be a version of Guitar Hero. Maybe they’ll surprise us and put it on the DS, thus invalidating everything that makes the game attractive; more likely, it’ll be on the Wii and require you to emulate Prince’s half-time maneuvers to activate your star power.

Yahoo! Games has a nice little preview up here of the upcoming 300: March to Glory exclusive for the PSP. Gameplay is said to borrow some notes from God of War, and arrows are expected to blot out the sun. It’s dropping pretty soon, actually: February 27. Give it a gander.