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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

BlizzCast Ten Now Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment has released the tenth BlizzCast, a series of podcasts created by Blizzard's Community Team and focusing on the company's current and future game offerings. Number ten features Q&As with Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer and Senior Game Designer Dave Maldonado about the recent 3.2 patch for World of Warcraft.

Zarhym: Iíd just like to get a few words from you guys about the new Battleground, since itís another major feature in 3.2. Can you give us some details on what the Isle of Conquest is and why players should feel invested in conquering this territory?
Scott Mercer: The Isle of Conquest is an island off the coast of Icecrown. Itís an island thatís been found by both the Horde and Alliance and itís full of resources. So thereís oil out there. Thereís cobalt out there. And the Horde and Alliance have both made a mad dash to this place to try to control these resources. So you as a player when you go in, because the Horde and Alliance right now are not super buddy-buddy, of course these things turn a bit violent and, you know, a fightís broken out.

Thereís an Alliance keep, thereís a Horde keep with a general in each keep and youíre fighting over these resources. Again, everything is leading up to Icecrown.

So thatís why they want all these resources because they can prepare better to attack Arthas, and looking beyond Icecrown as well.

Zarhym: So what objectives have to be achieved in order to claim victory in Isle of Conquest? I mean, you know, what objectives do you have to accomplish in order to win an actual match?
Scott Mercer: Sure. The basic objective is to kill the opposing general whoís in the keep. You canít just walk up to the general and go, ďhi!Ē and start tanking and spanking him.

You have to destroy the keep walls to allow access to him. So the first part of the Battleground ends up being really just trying to take down those walls and we give you all kinds of tools to do it. There are points of interest that you can take over that provide you with vehicles and weíve got, I believe four or five different vehicles that you can pilot there. Thereís an airship area where, if you take that point of interest, you can actually hop onto an airship that flies over the enemy base. And you can man guns from there and shoot the walls down. Another really cool thing you can do is, actually if you leap off of the airship, you can actually parachute into the enemy base, steal some of their explosives and then use those explosives to take out the doors. So the first part of it is just taking down the doors as fast as possible and having this huge 40 vs. 40-player fight over the various points of interest that provide vehicles; and then once the doors are down, then itís a mad rush to get inside the keep and take out the general.

Head over to the links below to listen to the podcast or read the transcript.

BlizzCast Episode 10
Blizzard Entertainment

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Multiwinia: Survival Of The Flattest Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Mac|Life has published a new review of Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest, the real time strategy title from Introversion Software and Ambrosia Software. Returning to the unique world of Darwinia, the game allows players to choose from six game modes on over 40 maps as they battle for stick figure supremacy. Mac|Life gave the game a score of 4 out of 5.

From the review:

Your job is to devise an overall strategy for success and then set up the mechanisms to achieve it. You start each game with a spawn point that burps out new Multiwinians. You can select a group of them and send them to another location (theyíll take over additional spawn points or capture king-of-the-hill areas automatically once you send them there), or you can promote an officer to point all nearby Multiwinians in one direction. These beings are basically lemmings, so if you send them over a cliff, theyíll just keep marching into the abyss, but youíll soon get the hang of how to direct them. (The basic tutorial is a must, but we had problems completing the advanced tutorialís objectives in order, although it still taught us some of the gameís finer points.)

The Multiwinians fire their lasers at nearby enemies, and you can have them march in formation for extra strength. Crate drops offer power-ups, but youíve got to send some Multiwinians out to fetch the crates first. Power-ups include gun turrets, napalm strikes, speed boosts, and even giant ants to sic on your enemies. And some game boards feature advanced equipment, such as satellite dishes that beam your men across chasms or armored vehicles for quickly moving them around.

And while you can play against the computer, with easy, normal, or hard settings, multiplayer is the whole point. (Multiwinia is named for Darwinia, a single-player title from 2005 that uses the same game engine and stick figure characters.) In fact, the single-player game is really here just to teach you the game mechanics, so you can battle your friends online. Itís a cinch to host or join games, and you can even play against Windows usersówe experienced no problems or stuttering on our high-speed connection, and the in-game chat works well too, even though we were too focused to pay much attention to it.
Read the full review at the link below.

Mac|Life: Multiwinia Review
Ambrosia Software
Introversion Software

Super Laser Racer Postmortem
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

iDevGames recently posted a postmortem article examining work on New Star Games' Super Laser Racer for OS X. In the article the developer discusses the design of the game, what went right and wrong with the title's development, and future plans for the combat racing title.

Super Laser Racer challenges players to reach the finish line on tracks set in "outer geometric space" while battling their fellow racers. The game features 12 tracks, 12 racers to unlock, 4 tournaments, and a variety of weapons.

Like most of my projects, Super Laser Racer was already perfectly formed in my head the moment I conceived it and required little in the way of design documents or planning. This is perhaps my biggest fault as a designer as occasionally I have to rethink a certain aspect of the game and waste time re-coding it. However, this doesnít happen too often, if at all with Super Laser Racer, and it never deters me from plowing on with the creation of the game with nary a thought for planning ó oh the joy of being an indie game developer! I donít deny that preparation is key for some projects but I find that the sheer joy of programming is what keeps me going each day and if I make some mistakes along the way, so be it. I find the journey much more enjoyable than actually reaching the destination anyway.

Unlike my existing sports games I decided to stay away from a detailed career mode in Super Laser Racer and keep it strictly arcade. One reason for this was to reduce the development time, the other being that contracts, sponsorships, shops and casinos donít really suit an abstract vector game. I also wanted to strip the game right down to the basics and concentrate on the gameplay, trying to achieve that elusive fun factor without the distraction of statistics or management.

Development Tools:
Super Laser Racer was created in BlitzMax. I love BlitzMax because it encapsulates everything that I love about programming. Put simply, it gets results fast. I donít mean the speed of the actual code, I mean the time it takes to get stuff on the screen and to get it flying about. When it comes to programming code I donít really care how it works, so long as it does what I want it to do. If itís inefficient but runs OK, that will do for me and itís on to the next milestone. With that in mind it wonít surprise you to learn that Iím all for using third-party modules if they help me get to the finish line quicker and this project was no different. I used several BlitzMax modules, the main ones being Liam McGuiganís FryGUI (which simplifies the task of creating the interface) and a bunch of Bruce Hendersonís fine mods for backend stuff like localization and network connections.
Visit the page below to read the full article.

iDevGames: Super Laser Racer Postmortem
Super Laser Racer
New Star Games

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New InstantAction CEO Discusses Browser Gaming Future
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Gamasutra has published a new interview with Louis Castle, the new CEO of InstantAction parent company IAC. In the interview Castle discussed his reasons for joining the company, future plans for the browser based gaming service, and the launch of a new studio to create original titles.

You talk about wanting to make your own games.
LC: Oh, absolutely. Already starting.

You obviously have a long, long development background. So that's something I would have asked you even if you didn't mention it.
LC: The three pillars of our business are: one, to be a great publishing partner for our existing frontline publishers and their current catalogues, not just older stuff. The second target, or business model, for us, is to directly connect developers to consumers in a way that's more robust than we already do.

Of course, the Torque tools are already good at that. We're going to try and make that better. And then finally, the third one, is to create products specifically designed around the current consumer landscape.

So, if you think about platforms, people think about the Xbox or Sony or whatever, the Wii, the PC, or the Mac. Those are devices, and we think of them as platforms, but really, it's more about who's on the other side of those devices. What defines an Xbox is more so its customer than the piece of hardware it's running.

And so when I look at where PC games have evolved into now, the customer landscape is dramatically different, and it's been a really short period of time, and I'm sort of brash enough, bold enough, and cocky enough to say, "Hey! We know how to make really good games. I know how to make really good games. No matter what the platform. Identify the consumer for me. Give me what it is I have to work with. I'm going to go make something really fun out of that." So that's really exciting to me. Will it be a hit, who knows? It's a hits-driven business, always, so what I do is keep swinging.
For more of the article click on the link listed below.

Gamasutra: InstantAction CEO Q&A

Mac Games News for Monday, August 10, 2009

City Of Heroes: The Struggle To Customize Power Colors6:00 AM
DEFCON Reviewed6:00 AM
Diablo III: Item Drops, PvP, Difficulty Escalation6:00 AM
World Of Warcraft Call Of The Crusade Reviewed6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, August 10, 2009 on one page

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