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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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Turtling Is For Terrans In StarCraft II
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

In a recent post on the official StarCraft II forums, Blizzard's Karune discussed the effectiveness of the turtling strategy in the upcoming sci-fi rts sequel. Although none of the races will find it as easy to hide within a heavily fortified position in SC II as it was in the original game, the Terrans are better equipped for the attempt.

Overall, 'turtling' is a bit harder in StarCraft II since every race has new ways to keep them mobile. Terrans will likely have more Dropships than before, since they double up as medics. Zerg has the Nydus Worm, allowing whole armies to be transported to a set location. Lastly, Protoss has 'Warp-In' along with the newest version of the Mothership, which is slower, more hardy (in terms of hit points), and allows for the player to teleport a whole army to its location.

Nonetheless, looking at the three races, Terrans are still relatively the best for a 'turtling' strategy. In the current build, Terran Siege Tanks's AoE (Area of Effect) attack have 13 range (more than twice the range of a Marine) against ground units, and Thors' AoE attack have 10 range. Getting an army of both is quite expensive- though if you can build the momentum, it is quite difficult to stop this ranged combination.
Click over to the Blizzplanet site below for more information.

Blizzplanet: StarCraft 2 Tidbits
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

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RPG Developers Discuss Setting, Story, And Characters
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Iron Tower Studio recently published a lengthy roundtable interview with role playing game developers. The three part Q&A covered a range of issues within the range of setting, story, and character development. Participants in the discussion included Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel, Basilisk Games' Thomas Riegsecker, and Planewalker Games' Jason Compton.

What are your preferences and thoughts in regard to storylines? Linear or non-linear? Epic or low-key? Formulaic or "chaotic"? Taking control from the player for extra drama (i.e. you fell asleep, was captured, and thrown in jail. Surprise!) or leaving the player completely in charge? What are your storytelling trademarks (or what storytelling aspects would you like to develop into your own trademarks)?

Jason Compton: Everybody wants to rule the world, so the song tells us, but first they must save it. It turns out that "saving the world as I know it", aside from providing a very clear and present danger for the player to tackle, is something which many, many different personality concepts for a player character can get behind. "Well, *my* guy doesn't want to play *your* game" is an objection a CRPG plotter has to get past, so threatening the Imminent Destruction Of All is one handy way to get past that issue and get on with the individual plot lines which make up the whole.

I would actually very much like to do CRPGs at some point which are more condensed and personal in scope. These concepts would have far less at stake, where the final outcome may only truly matter to a few of the participants and their victims and/or beneficiaries. The tongue-in-cheek code name for one such game is "Alassa's Big Night Out", and I've scribbled down notes for a small game which would extend the story of one of our serial stories as well, from the point of view of one or more of the central characters. And I don't mean a game which starts out sending you on a flower-picking quest when you then *discover* that you must save the world, I mean one with no swerves, no mysterious conspiracies revealed in chapter 3 that you stumble into—just one with personal stakes.

With The Broken Hourglass we decided to go with a game that would allow more flexibility and freedom in the personal definition of the player character—who, by the way, is threatened with the Imminent Destruction Of All. Just in case you were thinking that your character would prefer to stay in bed and not play the game after all.
To read the full Q&A click on the link provided below.

Iron Tower Studio: RPG Roundtable - Setting
Iron Tower Studio: RPG Roundtable - Story
Iron Tower Studio: RPG Roundtable - Characters
The Broken Hourglass

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Penny Arcade Adventures Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Computer and Video Games recently published a new review of Hothead Games' Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 1. Based on the characters from the Penny Arcade comic strip, the episodic adventure game allows players to create a character and step into an adventure with Tycho and Gabe. CVG gave the game a score of 7.8 out of 10.

Twelve-word review: the puzzles are fine, the dialogue is great and the combat tedious. The division of your playing time between those three exploits is roughly 40%-20%-40%, so the mathematics don't churn out an overwhelmingly favourable figure.

But cold calculations can't account for the nerdy glee of embarking on a pseudo-Lovecraftian adventure with that guy who likes dice and that guy who likes Pac-Man.
The webcomic is funny, three times a week, and has been since the beginning of time. It has also developed artistically from basic sketchings to a sumptuous and elegantly expressive strip. Moreover, it contains many swears.

These three powerful boons have survived the change to game-form mostly unmarred, since the artist and author of the strip are also the artist and author of the game. (Respectively, as seems only wise.) The reason for the word 'mostly' is Episode One's 3D character models. Most of the game is played in 3D, roaming stylised environs with the comic's heroes at your side, but the posse are pretty grotesque.

The game gets away with it, though, through a Machiavellian alignment of steep camera angles, oppressive gloom and voluminous hairstyles. It can't entirely conceal Gabe's plastic-toy face, Tycho's improbably bowed legs or Annarchy's doll-like rigidity, but it does prevent them becoming too problematic. The backdrops and 2D art used in conversations and cutscenes are splendid. Even the ingenious rendering of your own character is striking.
Follow the link below to read the rest of the review.

CVG: PAA Episode 1 Review
Hothead Games
Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade Adventures

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Hands-On Preview Of Spore Creature Creator
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

A new hands-on preview from Joystiq offers an examination of the Spore Creature Creator. Set to be released in September, the program features a stand alone version of Spore's creature creation tools, giving users a chance to put together their own unique lifeforms.

From the preview:

There's virtually no learning curve to the creator. It's stupendously intuitive. Without even a shred of guidance, we were instantly resizing a colorful floating blob to form the body of our creature. This was the full version of the creator, so we had access to all of the various creature parts it ships with (the free edition contains only a quarter of them).

There was virtually zero guesswork involved in grasping which parts were better at what, whether it was mouths made for eating only meat but gave your creature a combat advantage or an herbivore maw that was better for singing, and thus socializing. Parts are broken down into mouths, eyes, arms, legs, hands, feet, and extras. They're all displayed in their own tabbed windows, and you can place them anywhere you'd like on your base creature shape. Your only limits are cost (each part carries a certain DNA point price, and you have a "starting balance") and complexity (an on-screen indicator lets you know when you're tricked your beast out to the max).

Other than that, we had a mind-boggling amount of freedom in crafting our little bundle of goofy-looking joy. Our first effort, which we eventually named Sporky (don't ask), came out of a simple dragging and dropping of a toucan-like mouth, webbed ears, antlers, a fin, and some butt flowers (for good measure) onto our initially pear-shaped primary form.
Head over to the site below to read the rest of the preview.

Joystiq: Spore Creature Creator Preview
Electronic Arts
Buy Spore

Mac Games News for Monday, May 26, 2008

Encryption Chip To End Game Piracy?6:00 AM
Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords Reviewed6:00 AM
StarCraft II: Baneling Feature6:00 AM
Supernova 2: Spacewar Released For Mac6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, May 26, 2008 on one page

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