Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
1. No subscription fees.
2. Persistent world
3. While having a persistent world, GW2 emphasises a strong narrative, extensive instanced gameplay, an anti-grind philosophy (although it's debatable if GW ever achieved that thanks to *cough* GW:EN *cough*) and strong support for competitive play.
4. Players will be able to pick a character from 5 races: The Humans, Charr, Asura, Norn and Sylvari.
5. They're adopting a sidekicking system similar to what they use in City of Heroes.
The 2 new units that have been introduced over the weekend are the Prospector (the Allied ore collector) and the classic from Red Alert 2, the Kirov Airship. Nothing much to say about the Prospector besides it being able to collect ore and it acting a bit like the Surveyor Unit in C&C 3 where it can create areas to build new bases.
The Kirov Airship is almost identical to the one in Red Alert 2 as well, except this time you can give it a quick boost of speed ad the detriment of your unit's hitpoints.
That's right folks. Pretty exciting news but Blizzard has announced Diablo III! Just like with Starcraft II, it looks like they're going for the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it... much" formula giving players the same view as in previous Diablos, with similar gameplay except better graphics. Sounds like this game is going to be a real competitor for Guild Wars 2.
Some info about the game so far:
1. Five distinct classes to choose from. The Barbarian and Witch Doctor are the first confirmed classes.
2. Game once again takes place in Sanctuary.
3. Set 20 years in the future from the previous Diablos.
4. Environments will still be randomly generated.
5. Co-op gameplay is the focus, as always.
6. There'll be several familiar characters in the game (including Deckard Cain)
7. Some places you visit will be new while others are from previous Diablos (like Tristram)
8. You'll now be able to pick male or female for a class.
9. Unfortunately (as always) Blizzard is hush-hush about the release date.
Friday, June 27, 2008
1. No Gap Generators in RA3
2. No Allied pillboxes in RA3, but they get bunkers that operate similar to the ones in Starcraft (i.e. you customise it by placing what infantry you want in there).
3. No Allied Weather Control Device in game.
4. Ore nodes do not become totally empty but they do reach a point where they produce so little that they may as well be abandoned.
5. There are unit upgrades in RA3
6. The Tesla Tank isn't available in multiplayer but will be available in the single player campaign.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Obviously a pic from the character creation screen (apparently as a child you receive a book called "YOU'RE SPECIAL!" that allows you to set the starting attributes for your character).
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The reason this is big news? It's the first news in awhile about Guild Wars 2, albeit indirectly. Guild Wars 2 will apparently be accepting all achievements that are tied to this new account filter as opposed to getting achievements character-by-character.
My only question is, are the account-based achievements the current account-based titles or when they say account do they mean the total of achievements you've gained over all characters (i.e. if you get Vekk prestige armour on one character and Pyre prestige armour on another, would the account achievements show both)? I'm guessing by them wanting to encourage players to play all their characters, it's the latter - which suits me just fine :).
- Red Alert 3 are getting more of its cues from Red Alert 2 than Red Alert 1 - which is a good thing. C&C has always seemed too serious for its own good at times and Red Alert 2 showed that RTSes could be silly, yet fun at the same time.
- Still on the topic of silliness are that the Soviet units will be even more ridiculous than ever: with armoured bears and cannons that fire infantry, I'm thinking this is true.
- The development team had a challenge with creating the Allies side since they were to use the most conventional weaponry and because of that, they didn't want them to appear like another GDI. They think they've achieved to stay different enough by creating units that look antiquated (e.g. the Century Bomber) except retrofitted with new technology (such as the Allied Chrono and Prism technology).
- The dev team also had a challenge creating the Japanese side since they had no starting point as with the other two sides plus they didn't just want to make an "anime side" (although they admit some units are obviously inspired by anime).
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Sega started off as "Standard Games" in 1940 (not exactly a title to encourage confidence in how fun your games are if you ask me) in Hawaii. In 1951, they moved to Tokyo, Japan and in 1952 renamed their company to "Service Games of Japan" (you can start to see where they got the abbreviation Sega from ;)).
During the 50s and 60s Sega started to specialise in making coin-operated games and did so well for itself that by 1982, its revenues were in excess of $214 million. A year later, Sega released its first video game console, the SG-1000. It was this year that Buck Rogers was also released.
I won't bother with the late 80s-90s onwards since that recent history is probably more familiar to most of you (i.e. how it became a hardware manufacturer in competition with Nintendo and then its exit from the market resulting in it focusing on software again). Needless to say, Sega has been doing rather well for itself as a software publisher in recent years so it was a good decision in retrospect.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The biggest news for me is that Colonization will have a totally revamped interface plus code is to be streamlined hopefully giving performance gains. Also graphics will be slightly improved over the standard Civ IV engine.
Also there has been another update to the RA3 website with the addition of a new unit profile, the V4. Looks like this unit is going to be quite similar to the original V2/V3 units from previous Red Alert games except this time you can choose to set the rocket onto what is similar to a MIRV mode that scatters multiple mini-rockets over an area.
Friday, June 20, 2008
A lot of you may not remember 4mation Software but if any of you were educated in a British curriculum school in the '80s, you'll probably remember a fun little BBC Micro game called "Granny's Garden". Granny's Garden was an adventure game set in the "Magical Kingdom of the Mountains" where you were tasked on finding the six children of the King and Queen. Along the way, you'd have to solve several puzzles that were educational in nature.
In my memory, this was the very first edutainment title I ever played. Written by Mike Matson back in 1983, this game would prove to be a major success for the company 4mation. In fact, over two decades later, the company is still in business, no easy feat in the volatile software industry. According to them, they're one of the top independent educational software houses in the UK.
Mike Matson doesn't appear to be developing games anymore and is now working on web development and video production. In 2005, it was reported that he was working in Botswana.
You can purchase a retro version of Granny's Garden off the 4mation website for apparently 10 Pounds (which is about $18 AUD at the time of this post) if you wish to relive youth :).
Maxis and EA are running a YouTube Spore Dance Off Contest. All you need to do is:
1. Download the Free Spore Creature Creator
2. Create a creature and animate it with the best dance moves
3. Upload the video to YouTube and register into the competition.
You've got until the 1st of August to register and the finalists will be picked on the 18th. Finalists will then be judged by popularity on YouTube to determine the winner and two runner-ups.
Not really much detail on the actual prize but apparently it's a trip to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. (guess it's not much of a prize if you live in DC)!
Oh and some nice creative stuff done here in this video too (which is obviously inspired by Japanese console games and anime):
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The Starcraft 2 website was updated yesterday to include a new "planet bio" on the volcanic, inhospitable planet, Char. Looks like it's still earmarked to be the primary Hive for the Zerg in Starcraft 2.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
It's hard to tell at the present time since this is after all a demo but there doesn't appear to be that much variety in the creature's sound effects (at least after trying with a few of Maxis's creations and my very own). However, after some YouTube surfing of Spore Creature Creator Videos from other players (there'll be a lot of these popping up for the next few days since that's the default video name in Spore), I discovered that there is some difference. I even ended up finding one that sounded like wolf, donkey and monkey.
Music in Spore is composed by Brian Eno and is claimed to be "procedural music". I can't quite see what's so procedural about it yet but then again, this is only a demo and I probably can't see it in action yet. I did notice the music changes according to what dance your creature does, but that's old technology. The actual music itself however is very fitting to the game. The best way to describe it is that it's a weird fusion of cute-synth-tribal music (there's a small sample of it in the video posted below).
The visual style that is employed in this game is one that is appealing to children as the aliens look like they're straight from some sci-fi cartoon. This means the aliens don't look terribly realistic in some regards but they definitely move fluidly enough. One of the promoted features of Spore is the fact your creatures move in the most logical way given the number of appendages they have and where their centre of gravity is, and judging from the demo, looks like Maxis were spot on. I only spotted a couple of instances where there was some weird clipping going on (in particular when I had my creature do a "sad" emote its head somehow ended up in its torso).
Being a sandbox game there really isn't any plot except the one you wish to create (now that's creativity!). Consequently, no marks lost here.
Hard to judge the actual gameplay but the demo has succeeded in whetting my appetite. Depending on what parts you put on your creature and even where you put them will determine what sort of attacks it will perform, whether it will be more efficient at being a cultural creature that can influence other tribes or a better fighter so it can use aggressive tactics instead. The fact that your creature is basically your baby (something that Black and White fans can associate with I suppose!) you really want to see how a whole tribe of these things handles itself in the big bad world. I can only assume it's going to be awesome.
This is a Maxis game, need I say more? :P These guys are the masters of creating replayable games, mainly because they're sandbox games. Spore is no exception.
A welcome surprise for me is that the demo, even though it's not the full game, is running very stable and I haven't had one single hitch. They even have seamless integration with YouTube so you can record and upload videos to your channel without even leaving the game! The only criticism I had was that due to my slow connection, it took a long time to upload it and there was no loading bar when the upload took place (people like to know how long they have to wait for Maxis) - but due to Spore being so stable I could easily alt+tab out and do other things without fear of it crashing.
Overall - 80%
For you Sims and Maxis fans out there (which is a lot judging by the success of The Sims and The Sims 2), you've probably already got your copy of the Spore Creature Creator and playing around with it right now. For those of you who haven't, give Spore Creature Creator a whirl. It won't take much of your time and it'll give you a small glimpse at how creative you can get with Spore. There are some limitations on what you can do but it looks like there'll be enough variety in this to let the more creative players come up with some pretty ridiculous looking aliens and Spore will seamlessly calculate the best way that they interact with their universe.
Nothing really new but it's good to hear they're taking most of their cues from Fallout 1 as opposed to Fallout 2. Yes I know a lot of people preferred the second one to the first, but I could never get into the second one - the first one just seemed to gel better.
One interesting bit of information from the interview are the custom weapons you can get in the game such as the "Lunchbox Bomb" and the "Rock-It Launcher" (which is basically a leaf blower which can use random bits of trash around the game as ammo). I'm curious to see how its implemented!
I was only mildly interested in the Dungeon Siege franchise when it first came out, since I only saw it as a Diablo-clone. That's not to say I don't like Diablo, it's just something would have to be substantially better for me to top Diablo (and that game for me at the moment is Guild Wars). However, the Dungeon Siege series had several things going for it, which has culminated in it even being made into a film (except it had to be made by Uwe Boll, WEISHENME???!!!): it' was produced by Chris Taylor of Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander fame, it had a most excellent soundtrack by Jeremy Soule and the main reason I loved Diablo - it had a co-op campaign. Rarely nowadays do you see PC games with co-op campaigns where you and a bunch of mates can experience a story together from beginning to end.
Well, Gas Powered Games are now putting the finishing touches on Space Siege, which is the latest game in the Siege series and this time it's set in space (I swear they soo stole my idea :P!). It promises to have all the same reasons that made the Dungeon Siege franchise popular, minus Jeremy Soule (a big minus in my books). The only things that may prevent it from greatness is that the graphics don't look too special on first glance and it'll be curious to see how the game works in terms of customising your character. There aren't any character classes which is a bit of a let-down, instead you can modify how human your character is. In Space Siege you determine how much cybernetics your character wants to use (which apparently makes fighting easier) although it'll cause NPCs to react differently to you because of it.
Regardless, this looks like a game to definitely keep an eye on. It's expected Australian release date is the 15th August.
Haven't ever tried it but will do when I have time (oh time, where art thou?).
If anyone else has tried using it please give your thoughts on the software :).
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Be sure to download your copy once it's released within the next few hours here:
(I expect it to be pretty congested come release time, so may be worth waiting a few days :P)
System specs are listed below:
OS - Windows XP/Vista
Processor - 2.0 GHz P4 processor or equivalent
Memory - XP: 512 MB RAM / Vista: 768 MB RAM
Hard Drive - At least 300 MB of hard drive space for installation, plus additional space for created creatures. (190 MB for the Trial Edition)
Video Card - A 128 MB Video Card, with support for Pixel Shader 2.0*
For computers using built-in graphics chipsets, the game requires at least:
* Intel Integrated Chipset GMA 950
* Dual 2.0GHz CPUs, or 1.7GHz Core 2 Duo, or equivalent
Supported Video Cards
ATI Radeon(TM) series
9500, 9600, 9800
X300, X600, X700, X800, X850
X1300, X1600, X1800, X1900, X1950
2400, 2600, 2900, 3650, 3850
NVIDIA GeForce series
FX 5900, FX 5950
6200, 6500, 6600, 6800
7200, 7300, 7600, 7800, 7900, 7950
8400, 8500, 8600, 8800
Intel(R) Extreme Graphics
GMA 950, GMA X3000, GMA X3100
0 = Abysmal
1 = Pretty bad. Worse than average.
2 = Nothing special. Average.
3 = A bit better than average. Some neat little features but not enough.
4 = A good, solid game with regards to the rated attribute. Not breaking any new ground but it's up there with the best of them.
5 = Cutting edge, stands out from the crowd, a pioneer at this particular attribute and executed to perfection.
When rating the attributes, I'll aim to compare the game to other games that are similar or within the same genre (no point comparing a puzzle game's plot with that of an RPG or adventure :P) Some attributes that I deem are more important than others (for example a game's music and replayability is quite important to me) will come with a weighting which will reflect in the total score. The total score will be expressed as a percentage.
In terms of the actual attributes I intend to use, I've decided so far on the following:
This covers basically voice-acting and sound effects - whether quality voice acting was done and whether sound effects are of good quality and believable.
Music (x2 weighting)
Oftentimes I find I enjoy games that have soundtracks created by particular composers (Jeremy Soule and Frank Klepacki are two that come to mind for me). Music is important in immersing you in a game so a good soundtrack should never be ignored.
This covers simply how good looking the game is. As you can see I don't apply much weighting to this since although it's nice to have pretty graphics, it shouldn't take priority over how fun a game is.
This covers the plot of the game, whether the story proposed is interesting, believable and is cohesive. Of course some games don't really have a plot but since I'll only be comparing to other games within the same genre, it shouldn't be a problem.
Gameplay (x2 weighting)
This is the meat of the game and where most comparisons will be drawn between competitors within its genre. Here the game will be assessed on whether it's actually fun to play or not, whether any new ideas it brings to the genre work and whether it's addictive enough for you wanting to come back and see it to the end ("Just one more turn!" in the case of Civilization players).
This covers on how replayable a game is - i.e. how many different ways can you play the game to achieve different outcomes. The more options Sandbox games like The Sims for example will score high in this category.
This basically covers the questions: how smooth does the game run? How well are the ideas executed? How buggy is it? Is the UI intuitive? As an all-round package does it work?
Of course, this is all subject to change as I start reviewing :).
Have you ever wondered what happened to all the game developers of yesteryear? I find that like film pundits who have a preference to watching films by a certain producer or director, so is the case with me and computer games. I'm always curious to see if a favourite game producer/developer/composer of mine is still in the business and what he/she's working on.
For my first "Where are they now?" I decided to investigate a bit about Ron Gilbert. Many of you will remember Ron Gilbert as the mind behind the early Lucasarts adventures. He's had some part to play in producing the classics Maniac Mansion, Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge. His most important contribution to Lucasarts however was the development of SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) which was used for almost all of their early adventure games. After Lucasarts, Ron switched companies every few years working on various projects, the most notable probably being his Putt-Putt children games and helping the now defunct Cavedog produce Total Annihilation.
Ron Gilbert is now working for a company called Hothead Games and is producing an episodic adventure/RPG (seems that is *the* thing to do nowadays - episodic content) called Deathspank.
For more info on what Ron's been up to recently, check out his blog: The Grumpy Gamer
Monday, June 16, 2008
Word of warning though, the game is listed as $14 USD (which is reasonable) but the shipping and handling charges bloats the price to $39! (Yes I know what you're thinking right now: "WTF mate? Why pay so much for a game soundtrack?" - well I don't spend money on music that often and I really like game soundtracks - just like film soundtracks they really help in setting the mood to ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible :).
I'll be also sure to give a review of the soundtrack once I've had a good listen to it, but judging by what I've heard in the game it's going to be at least good, if not excellent (mind you there will be a lot of ambient stuff).
Battlefield Heroes will be the next game on my most anticipated games list to be released as it's been slated for a Summer (Winter, if you're in Australia like myself) 2008 release. This game will be DICE's (the studio behind the prolific "Battlefield" series) latest PC game as the game Battlefield: Bad Company, is going straight to console. Like Battlefield 1942, the game has adopted a WWII setting, but this is where the similarities end.
In their latest iteration of the Battlefield series, DICE aims to create a shooter that is aiming to focus on fun rather than realism. As can be seen by the graphics, DICE are adopting a similar artistic style to what was adopted for Team Fortress 2 which helps to further promote this game as one that doesn't take itself too seriously. The game is definitely aimed towards the more casual gamer as they're also adopting a system that only pits you against opponents of a similar skill level and not 15 year old uber-pros. The game even allows you to customise your character the further you progress in the game giving it a bit of an RPG bent to it and best of all, the game is promised to be free (although you can pay to get extra customisation options).
Those are the reasons for me being quite excited by this game - although what remains to be seen is whether the game will really take off? Sure the game is free, so that's a drawing card in getting people to play it but if the game isn't as fun as DICE promises it to be, it could be a disaster. Frustrated players leaving the game could cause a domino effect resulting in hardly any players which is bad news for a solely multiplayer game. The game may discourage the more hardcore players as well since it effectively appears to be a first-person shooter from a third-person, over-the-shoulder view (although DICE claims they may change this depending on player input). One other minor annoyance is that they way DICE will generate revenue is from in-game ads, although they claim that by "in-game", the ads will only be displayed on the game setup pages as opposed to the game proper.
The game is currently in closed beta so hopefully we'll be able to get some opinions from beta testers in the near future.
Well that's all for now. Stay tuned for an upcoming review of the PC version of Mass Effect which I've just completed recently (although doing a second run through as a Renegade character now). I'm hoping to also get some friends of mines aboard to add a bit of variety to the blog :).