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Thursday, August 20, 2009

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EVE Online Economic Newsletter Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

CCP Games recently released its Quarterly Economic Newsletter for the second quarter of 2009 in its popular MMO, EVE Online. The newsletter offers an in-depth report of the current state of the game's complex economy, giving both novice and veteran players a wealth of statistics and information.

The Quarterly Economic Newsletter for Q2 of 2009 is now ready with some very interesting info on Tech II production and changes in ships flying in space. Of course it has other standard info as well, such as price indices, market snapshots and demographic information and some new info on how ISK is distributed throughout space.

It takes a lot of work from many people to make a QEN. There is a team of researchers that mines the massive amount of data available from TQ and analyse it to the best of our knowledge. But once that work is done another team takes over and creates the awesome looking layout of the pdf document and everyone within CCP is given the opportunity to read over the document and comment on the content and findings presented there. So many thanks go to all of those that have worked on this issue of the QEN, even working very late into the night to make sure that it gets published.

EVE has emerged as a society on its own, with player driven economy, politics and democratically elected council. This means that even though we have access to terabytes of data we do not always know exactly what is going on because much of what goes on the market is a part of future plans for individuals, corporations and alliances. We can use standard economic theory to analyse general trends but getting down to the specifics takes you guys, the pilots of EVE, to digest and debate the findings in the QEN for the second quarter of 2009.
Download the full report in PDF format at the link provided below.

EVE Online Economic Newsletter
CCP Games
EVE Online

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Diablo III: Hands-On Demo Previews
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments and Kotaku have both posted new previews of time spent with a demo version of Diablo III, Blizzard Entertainment's upcoming return to the popular action RPG franchise. The two previews give a brief glimpse of the Wizard and Barbarian classes in action against a variety of demonic foes.

The demo area turned me loose into the desert region Alcarnus. Starting from an outpost, the primary quest was to travel over to Lut Bahadur. After a brief walk through wind-worn ravines, the scene opened up into a sprawling desert with no shortage of enemies who weren't too please to see me there. Almost immediately, the "Diablo-ness" of this sequel came out. Over-excited by the moment, I charged into the first group of enemies and wound up dead quite quickly. Remembering how to play, I was able to settle into a rewarding tactic of luring a few foes out, freezing them in place with frost nova, moving back and blasting them with arcane orb, and finally mopping up the remainders with the more powerful spectral blade.

As you'd expect, a variety of demons and creatures came out of the sand to attack me. Some, such as the Lacuni Warrior and Fallen Overseer, had a fairly traditional demonic look with a hunched over posture and flaming swords in each hand. Others were desert creatures, like the Sand Wasp that flittered around a little ways off while launching volleys of baby wasps at me. One of the more dramatic opponents was the Dune Dervish; it twirled and spun around, and used those spins to produce a vicious stun attack with a knockback effect.

All this action looked familiarly enough like Diablo, but with all the polish of a modern game. Liberal use of special effects made a big impact on the presentation; the screen warped with the impact of spells and became obscured from dust swirling around the Dervish. And through it all, the unmistakable art style left no doubt what game I was playing.
We started off with some good equipment, two maces, an axe, a shield, plus full armor. We also had an Adventurer's Backpack, which brought our Barbarian's inventory to a cool 28 slots. The inventory screen should look familiar to Diablo fans, but the newest version is far more streamlined. When hovering over unequipped items in your inventory, you'll see a pop up window with that item's vital statistics and the item you currently have equipped in that slot.

We were also equipped with two Barbarian skills, Ground Stomp and Battle Cry. The former was hot-keyed to the "2" and, when enabled, stunned everything around the Barbarian. Helpful, when Fallen are surrounding you and Fallen Shamen are tossing fireballs your way. The Battle Cry, on the "1" key, increased our armor class temporarily. If we were playing a multiplayer game, that Battle Cry effect would have been passed on to our party members. But we were doing this quest solo.

The Barbarian's other skill, Cleaver, was mapped to the right mouse button. Click on it, and our lady brute did a two handed attack on two enemies at once, as long as they were side-by-side. Again, handy when surrounded by Fallen and Sand Wasps. Those Sand Wasps really suck, by the way, ejecting a quartet of mini-Wasps at our hero. Nasty.

The demo offered a few side quests on our way to Alcarnus. We ran into a "Crazed Miner," who offered us the quest, "A Miner's Gold." All we had to do was defend the miner while he raised a treasure chest via a pulley system. When he started, swarms of Fallen came after him. If we were successful in defending the miner from the swarm, we'd get half the gold. It really wasn't a challenge for the Barbarian, as Ground Stomp made that defense quest a simple task.
Follow the links below to read the rest of the previews. Diablo III Demo Preview
Kotaku: Diablo III Demo Preview
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
Buy Diablo III

id Developers Discuss Rage
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Big Download has published a new interview with id Software's art director Stephan Martiniere, lead designer Matt Hooper, producer Jason Kim and creative director Tim Willits. In the interview the game designers discussed Rage, the company's upcoming racing and shooting title set in a post-apocalyptic future.

Another part of Rage's design that hasn't been done in an id game before is a sense of exploration. Sure there have been hidden levels and areas in previous id games but they were designed mostly as Easter Eggs. Hooper said that players "can explore if they want to" and that they could find areas that are "really cool and totally different" from the main areas and storyline.

Another aspect of Rage is the various human characters that people talk to in the game's wasteland. Hooper said that they wanted to make chatting with the various NPCs to be easy and not be a burden. "You don't want to click through dialog" he told us. Also, don't expect to see the same person saying the same thing over and over again in the game. Hooper told us, "Every character is unique."

While creating an online community for Rage is actually easy for the consoles since they have their own proprietary systems (Xbox Live for the Xbox 360 and Playstation Network for the PS3) Willits told us, "The challenge will come with community features on the PC." However creating a game designed to be run on multiple platforms also means that they are looking at making the game's interface and controller set up work for both PCs and consoles. Willits said he doesn't feel making a game for a console means "dumbing it down" for the PC gamer, saying, "The fewer the buttons and the more intuitive you can make interface, the more fun for everyone."

Rage is indeed coming to the Mac as well as the PC and consoles and Willits said they will also serve the Apple gamer well, saying, "We are more of a Mac house than people realize. My only machine at work is a Mac." Other id team members use Macs at work and at home and certainly Carmack has demoed id games and id game engines, including Rage, at various Apple press events.
Head over to the page linked below to read the full interview.

Big Download: Rage Interview
id Software
Rage: Campaign Edition
Buy Rage: Campaign Edition

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Blizzard's Andy Chambers Delves Into SC 2 Single Player
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Joystiq recently posted a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Andy Chambers. The creative director for the anticipated StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty discussed the single player aspect of the game, which introduces a level of choice and interaction not seen in the original StarCraft and its expansion Brood War.

Dustin (Browder) was saying this morning in the theater that eventually there are moments where you're faced with a choice and you have to do A or B. And once you decide that, that affects your game and B will no longer be available to you once you choose A. And I imagine that changes the story, although he did say there's a beginning and an end, but the middle part has a lot of multiple paths.
The way we always describe it is being football shaped. So it has one origin point, it has one termination point, but that bit in the middle and how you get there is kind of up to you as the player. You know, we'll present you with choices all the time, and excepting in that one instance when there's an A/B choice, we won't take those choices away. So if you have five missions and you leave one of them until doomsday, we wont take it off your plate.

There's a lot of attention to detail now that we never had in the first game. Like, in the bar, the bits on the bulletin board, when he's in the cantina, on the ship, the Hyperion -- lots of detailed stuff that we'd never seen before in the Starcraft universe. What was that like? Getting all that stuff together and fleshing out those characters?
It was actually quite a lot of fun. A lot of those things are in there again for players who are coming into the universe fairly cold, so that they've got little artifacts they can pick up on and find a little bit more about. So some of it just came down to what would make interesting little objects, both in terms of what they were in themselves and what the characters might say or feel about them in particular. So, yeah that was quite a lot of fun.

There's been a few casualties along the way. It started out being a lot less character focused than it is now. But that's part of having done playthroughs and stuff and being responsive to, "Uh, I don't get this character, I need to know more about him." Alright, well we'll stick a wanted poster up about him, how's that? Actually, the wanted poster was in there from the start, but that is an example of the things where it's like, well, for the people who want to explore and find out more, then we can secrete all these little clues all over the place. It's been a lot of fun.
Visit the site below for the full article.

Joystiq: StarCraft II Single Player Q&A
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

Mac Games News for Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CCP Unveils DUST 514 Console Game Linked To EVE Online6:00 AM
Nelly Furtado And Others To Sing In The Sims 3 Expansion6:00 AM
Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning Mac Beta Reviewed6:00 AM
Zuma's Revenge! Coming September 156:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, August 19, 2009 on one page

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