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Thursday, August 27, 2009

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Eschalon Book II: Two New Screenshots
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Basilisk Games' recently launched an updated version of its website which includes two new screenshots from Eschalon: Book II, the upcoming second title in its planned "old school" RPG trilogy. The screens depict the frozen arctic Northland Expanse as well as some new graphical elements of the user interface.

• Eschalon: Book II is the sequel to 2007’s award winning RPG Eschalon: Book I, although no previous experience is needed to play and enjoy Book II.

• Book II will be available for Windows, Macintosh (Universal Binary) and Linux-based computers.

• Play as a male or female character.

• 1024 x 768 native resolution.

• Most tiles have been re-rendered to take advantage of the higher engine resolution. Hundreds of new graphic elements, tiles, sound effects and music means Book II is not just a remix of the previous game.

• New weather effects: snow, rain, and thunderstorms. Weather isn’t just an effect; severe weather effects gameplay stats and skills.

• Additional skills and improved skill balancing.

• Improved GUI including additional save game slots, increased number of Inventory and Quick Slot spaces, Key Ring and Recipe book, and much more!

• “Equipment configuration” presets for convenient swapping of entire armor and weapons sets.

• New difficulty modes and tracked statistics add to replay value.
Head over to the page below for more information.

Eschalon Book II Screenshots
Basilisk Games
Eschalon: Book II
Buy Eschalon: Book II

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Quest Design In Soldak's Upcoming Dungeon Crawler
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

A new blog post from Soldak Entertainment's Steven Peeler reveals some information about the questing system in the company's upcoming new "real time dungeon crawl" game. The post offers examples of the ways the players' actions have a tangible impact on the outcome of missions.

Pretty much all rpgs have quests, so how is our quest system in our upcoming dungeon crawl different? Well frankly in most rpgs (there are exceptions of course) quests exist in a vacuum. They will sit there forever, nothing can change them and they change nothing either. Your choices don't really matter. There are no consequences to your actions. You can't really fail. Text like "hurry", "emergency", and "or else" are just flavor text and don't mean anything. And every time through a typical rpg the quests are exactly the same as the last play through.

None of this is true for our upcoming game (Depths of Peril is similar in many ways). I'm going to show this with a bunch of examples of the typical rpg and our game. These examples will overlap a bit.

Emma was picking wild mushrooms down in an area in the dungeon that was thought to be safe, but was captured by Scree. Please go rescue her. In a typical rpg, there is no way to fail. She will patiently wait for her rescue forever if need be and she can't be killed. In our game, Emma can definitely die and will without your help. Can you save her before she is gruesomely murdered?

Hurry or else:
Storm is planning to attack the town. Hurry and kill him before the attack is launched. In a typical rpg, there is no point of hurrying, the town is going to be attacked or it's not. It just depends on how the quest was created and has nothing to do with your actions. "Hurry" is just there to make the quest feel intense. In our game, hurry really does mean hurry. In this case, if you are too slow the town will be attacked just as you were warned. If you are quick, like the quest suggests though, you really will prevent the attack.
Click over to the link below to read the rest of the post.

Stephen Peeler's Blog: Our Quest System Is Unique
Soldak Entertainment
Depths of Peril
Kivi's Underworld
Buy Depths of Peril

Greg Canessa Talks Battle.net 2.0
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Shacknews has published a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Greg Canessa about the features proposed for Battle.net 2.0. The article covered a variety of topics including the company's desire to combine social networking with game features, sales of player made maps and mods, the possibility of selling and supporting the games of other developers, and accommodations in consideration for customers who want LAN support.

Shack: Is there a chance you'll look at selling and supporting the games of other publishers on Battle.net in the future?
Greg Canessa: Yeah, I'm getting this question a lot. [laughs] I can tell you that we don't have any specific plans to talk about today, but it's our first step. Obviously Blizzard is all about the game, and we're focused on quality and a world-class experience. This is a very ambitious project; as you can see it's a very complex service we're providing, and our goal is to make sure StarCraft II is a world-class experience. And so that's our focus right now.

Then of course we're building this system, this online games service, to serve all Blizzard games going forward. So you look at Diablo III, there will obviously be a very deep, integrated experience there. And then you look at World of Warcraft, and some of the things we're doing just even at the ship of StarCraft II to integrate with World of Warcraft, facilitating cross-game chat, cross-realm chat, friends list--those are examples of the type of things we're doing and going forward. That's a lot of work.

And so, future titles--who knows. I can tell you that one of the things we're proud of and excited about with the new Battle.net is the fact that, since we are focused and have a small number of titles, we're not constrained by the need to be a platform, in the same way that Xbox Live and Steam and PlayStation Network need to be a platform, and need to provide that lowest common denominator set of features that all games can plug into despite what genre they are. We're not bound by that constraint at Blizzard; we can build deeply integrated, super-cool scenarios for our games.

The decals stuff is an example, that's a StarCraft II-specific feature. The leagues and ladders stuff is a StarCraft II-specific feature. We can afford to do those types of things that are deeply integrated, that nobody's been able to do with these generic platforms, because it's too much work. They can't support hundreds of games and do that level of integration. So that's really a competetive advantage.

Shack: Maybe something where you connect once to Battle.net, but from that point on you'd only connect every now and then, and the connection would essentially act as a zero-ping LAN?
Greg Canessa: Something like that. Maintaining a connection with Battle.net--I don't know if it's once or periodically--but then also having a peer-to-peer connection between players, so that it'll facilitate a very low-ping, high-bandwidth connection between two players. Those are the types of things that we're working on. So we understand and acknowledge and sympathize. I think part of this LAN thing was that people saw that out of context, without understanding what we were doing with the service. And hopefully now that people understand this huge service we're building.

Shack: And you couldn't possibly be abandoning the competitive leagues of StarCraft II.
Greg Canessa: Right, and we have solutions for location-based tournaments and other things. We just haven't announced the specifics for a lot of things. But we're working on it.
Visit the site below to read the entire Q&A.

Shacknews: Battle.net 2.0 Q&A
Blizzard Entertainment

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Changes For Everyone In World Of Warcraft's Cataclysm
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

Wired has posted a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Cory Stockton about Cataclysm, the upcoming new expansion for the popular MMO, World of Warcraft. In the Q&A the lead content designer describes the many changes coming with the release of the expansion including a new look for nearly every area in the game as well as adjustments to a variety of content.

Wired.com: We won’t be able to go back to old world content post-Cataclysm. So what does this mean for new players? And what about players who don’t buy Cataclysm?
Stockton: Everyone’s going to get (the world changes of) Cataclysm no matter what. You can be on vanilla WoW. You can be on Burning Crusade (expansion), on Northrend (in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion). No matter what it is, all of the changes to the level 1 to 60 zones will be patched down to everyone. Now granted, that’s going to be a large patch, but everyone will get that content and be able to quest using existing races and classes. You could level up through that just like normal. That’s just going to be part of (patch) 4.0.

Wired.com: For people who are nostalgic for the old world before Cataclysm, is there going to be some way to revisit Azeroth as it was before?
Stockton: I think that’s what Caverns of Time is for. We’ll definitely have the ability to do that kind of stuff, but we are also going to do a huge world event leading up to the Cataclysm. Some time after patch 3.3 and after (the Lich King) Arthas is defeated, you’ll definitely see a giant world event that affects the Alliance and the Horde very, very much. It’s going to change everything for them. It’s probably going to last something like a month. Something similar to the zombie invasion before Northrend. It will be something that will roll out slowly over time. But we are planning to do a huge world event, so everyone will know the Cataclysm is coming.

Wired.com: With the new races, there are new starting areas. Are there going to be new experiences to teach the player? And does that mean you have to change the starting experience for all the races?
Stockton: Definitely. The actual 1 to 60 Cataclysm revamp is affecting every single zone in the game. So things like the Valley of Trials, where the orcs start in Durotar, will be completely different. For Trolls, Gnomes, everything; you’ll see it all the way across the board. In some cases, it won’t be huge changes. Like Elwyn Forest, for example. We’re pretty happy with it, and there’s not a lot we would do there. We would maybe want to put a flight path out to Eastvale Logging Camp because it’s kind of annoying to run all the way there. But other than that, we fell pretty good about it.

Things we would do is to go back and look at quests that say, “Bring me 20 of this item.” These days, we might want to cut that to 10. And maybe we’ll up the spawn rate on the thing you’re looking for. That’s the kind of stuff that we go back and do, and those are things we can do really quickly. So in a zone like that, we can burn through it really quick. But in something like the Barrens, where it’s split in half, it’s regrown, there are huge cracks in it, and Camp Taurajo is burned down and attacked by the Alliance — in that case, you are talking about an entire revamp. And the zones that are big like that, that we think every player will flow through, those are the zones we are going to spend that time on.
Check out the full interview at the site listed below.

Wired: WoW Cataclysm Q&A
Blizzard Entertainment
World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Mac Games News for Wednesday, August 26, 2009

IMG Reviews Braid6:17 AM
City Of Heroes Reviewed6:00 AM
Mad Skills Motocross Released6:00 AM
New Missions For EVE Online Detailed6:00 AM
World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm Previewed6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, August 26, 2009 on one page

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