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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

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StarCraft II: Q&A Round 34
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

The latest StarCraft II Q&A batch is now available on Blizzard Entertainment's official forums. The 34th batch answers the usual set of five fan questions. StarCraft II will continue the storyline of the popular franchise and give multiplayer fans new challenges to enjoy.

Chat with the Devs: As of recent, the Dev Team has added a new ability to the Protoss Carrier that will give it a little more Umph! versus Zerg Corruptor attacks or Viking raids. In the past, the Carrier simply had a large swarm of Interceptor fighters which you had to build from scratch. Carriers now come built with 4 Interceptors already loaded (which is also the max number of Interceptors currently). They also have the new ability to have Escorts built for a temporary power boost to focus fire. Strike Fighter Escorts cost resources to build and last only 45 seconds, but add a decent amount of firepower to a Carriers attack. A Carrier can have a maximum of 4 Escorts. Escorts are given attack orders to focus-fire on whatever the Carrier is attacking and they can be destroyed independently of the Carrier or each other. The cost for these Escorts will be significant enough to where players will not want to just have the max number all of the time, as that would bleed your economy needlessly. Thus, players will have to pick and choose their battles in where they want the full force of the Protoss fleet present.

2. The Infestor is a very impressive unit that enchanted the community, because we all wanted to see a unit that is able to move while it is burrowed. Nevertheless there are still pending questions. Can the Infestor even infest Zerg buildings? Are infested marines produced as fast as it is shown on the gameplay trailer? Do you have to train them manually or will they pop out automatically? Do they cost minerals?
Like many Zerg units the Infestor is still under development. It cannot infest Zerg buildings though that is something we are still discussing. The speed at which Marines are generated changes frequently as we work on the ability. Sometimes its fast, sometimes not so fast. They will (probably) pop automatically. They do not have any cost associated with them.

3. The Medivac is a very interesting Unit, but there are not many information given to us so far. Can you tell us any more details about it? At which tier can it be found? How does the healing work? Can it even heal multiple units at once and how fast does it heal compared to the medic?
The Medivac is currently available from the Starport (no add-ons required). The healing works just like the medic. We will (if we keep the mechanic) be adding a graphic of the Medivac deploying medical drones to heal friendly biological units. It will only be able to heal a single unit at one time. The speed at which it heals changes frequently as we try different balance options.
Head over to the site below to read the rest.

StarCraft Forums: SC 2 Q&A Batch 34
StarCraft Forums: Ask Your SC 2 Questions Here
StarCraft Forums: Q&A Archive
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

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Hoyle Puzzle & Board Games Digital Download Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story, in partnership with Encore Software, has announced the release of Hoyle Puzzle & Board Games as a digital download. This marks the second Hoyle game now available as a digital download. Hoyle Card Games was released two weeks ago on Both games were previously available in a boxed format only.

It's game time! Twenty-one classic and new challenging favorites provide something for every player with HOYLE Puzzle Games 2008. This great collection features traditional puzzle game standards like Hangman, Mahjongg and Anagrams PLUS mind-bending puzzle classics like Sudoku and over 1200 different Crosswords. All games are designed with the official rules from HOYLE, the Official Name in Gaming.

You automatically earn HOYLE Bucks, the more you play the more you earn! Get new backrounds, music tracks, etc. All games are based on the official rules from HOYLE, the authority for over 200 years. Create your own character with Face Creator, customizing everything from facial features to clothing. Interactive computer opponents with multiple skill levels to challenge everybody. Play together on the same computer and challenge your friends and family with old classics, or play alone and take the high score!

Hoyle Puzzle & Board Games requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later, 600 MHz PowerPC G3 or better, 256 MB RAM, and 32 MB VRAM (ATI Rage cards not supported).
Hoyle Puzzle & Board Games is available exclusively for $19.95 through A free Universal Binary demo version of the game is available for download on the web page.

Buy Hoyle Puzzle & Board Games

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Penumbra: Overture Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Applelinks has posted a review of Frictional Games' Penumbra: Overture. The game drops players into a creepy environment of horror where they must solve puzzles to survive. Applelinks gave the game a score of 4 out of 5.

From the review:

I found the familiarity of Penumbra Overture's plot—which is revealed through scattered letters/journals and through radio transmission from a fellow named "Red"—to be endearing, actually—like dusting off an old book for another read. The one problem, though, is that I felt no real attachment with Phillip, the main character you control throughout the game. He starts to question his own sanity almost immediately after he begins his descent into the mines, which rang false to me. Dude, if you're scared already, just leave. There's a big area between "I'm kind of frightened" and "Get out my head before I lose my mind! Or is there? Next time my daughter tells me she's afraid of the dark, maybe my first question should be, "Do you think you're about to go insane and start eating spiders?"

Thankfully, the game's structure and style compensate for the lack of a logical/involving story. Adventure games may pretend to be about adventure, after all, but they're really just about solving puzzles. Penumbra has some fun and unique puzzles, many of which are based around the physics of the game. For instance, early on, an electric fence is blocking your path. In the old days, getting around it would've required finding a MacGyveresque combination of a paper clip, yarn, electrical cord and rat food to disable the electricity. In Penumbra Overture, you just need to stack a couple boxes, place a wooden plank from them to the fence, then walk across the plank. In other words, most of the puzzles here are meant to be solved the way you would in real life, because the game utilizes a more realistic physics engine.
Check out the full review at the link provided below.

Applelinks: Penumbra Overture Review
Frictional Games
Penumbra: Overture

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Jeremy Soule Discusses The Art Of Creating Game Music
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

G4TV recently published a new interview with famed game music composer Jeremy Soule about his award winning musical compositions for a variety of games over the years. His work is featured in games such as Total Annihilation, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Neverwinter Nights. The interview covers a broad range of topics including the difficulties peculiar to composing music for games, his musical background, and his current projects.

For someone out there who is learning music, reverse engineering as you say, is that the most challenging part of the learning process? And what has been most challenging for you as you have emerged  in your career?
The biggest challenge with music for me is having the kind of control to create something at 3 or 4 in the morning and wake up the next morning and still like it, like “hey, I wasn’t completely crazy and out of my mind at 4 in the morning! That was actually a good idea!” That extends beyond the 24 hour cycle. I look back at some of the work I’ve done, and I will say there’s a period of time in my career where just the economics of the business and scheduling worked against me where I wish I would have had a little more time to work on a couple of these games. To create something that stands the test of time not only in the composers mind but in the mind of the audience, that to me is the holy grail.
I think the big challenge is being persistent. Calvin Coolidge, great president, I’ll paraphrase, he basically said “talent isn’t enough, intelligence isn’t enough, persistence is really the thing that gets through” and I think for anybody just getting started…once you’re far enough along in music you can do something. I think for the people just getting started, you have to find a way to have the sticktuitiveness, the diligence and get to the next stage.

You mentioned the economics of the industry. You have a record expansion of the gaming industry last year. Are you doing anything special with Artistry to expand with the industry?
I’ve heard from reliable sources that a Peter Jackson production can easily have a multimillion dollar music budget. And this is true of Hollywood. I think the video game industry as always been about ingenuity and sort of thriving with the tools you have to make something good. For me to make a living writing music for the video game business, I was really, really, really lucky in terms of being able to carve out a spot. I think we have to look at the video game business as a field of specialists. Music can no longer be an afterthought with video games; it’s never been an afterthought with movies, all the way back to the 30s.
For me I follow the advice of J.S. Bach. He said if you want to be a great composer, compose every day. Specialization is absolutely key. The economics are starting to support more specialization, but we are a long way from having a million dollar video game music production, a long way from doing it. At some point the stakes will be high and they’ll[developers] realize that it’s money well spent.

To read the full Q&A follow the link provided below.

G4TV: Jeremy Soule Talks Music And Games

Mac Games News for Monday, April 7, 2008

IMG Reviews Sudoku - Latin Squares6:13 AM
Avernum 5 Reviewed6:00 AM
BlizzCast Asks For More Listener Questions6:00 AM
Deliver2Mac Adds Ankh 2 And Brain Jogging6:00 AM
New Spore Movie Available6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, April 7, 2008 on one page

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