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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

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Eschalon Book II World Map Revealed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Basilisk Games' recently released an image of the World Map from Eschalon: Book II, the upcoming second title in its planned "old school" RPG trilogy. The game, scheduled for a 2010 release, will include improvements like re-rendered tiles, new weather effects, new skills, new monsters, and a larger world to explore.

I promised this a while back, so it's about time I posted the World Map of Eschalon. A few things to note:

1) I rendered this low-resolution on purpose. The full high-res version will be on the Book II CD.
2) Sorry, you do not get to explore this entire world in Book II. This is simply the charted world of Eschalon as it currently exists, giving you an idea of the general continental layout.
3) Small details will continue to be added throughout the last few weeks of development, so this map is not likely to be "final".
4) The western lands are primarily "Book III" regions, so you see they still lack considerable detail. Those areas will be filled in with detail when we begin development on that game.
Click over to the page below to view the world map.

Basilisk Games: Eschalon II World Map
Basilisk Games
Eschalon: Book II
Buy Eschalon: Book II

Mac Gaming: Past, Present & Future
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 6 comments

MacScene and Bitmob has posted a collection of feature articles examining the history of gaming on the Mac. Writer Richard Moss began with Apple's early days and continued through the rocky history of Mac gaming to discuss the platforms current gaming status and its potential future.

Thankfully, there are still a number of companies working on Mac-native ports of PC and console games. Others have come and gone, but the big four Mac game companies nowadays are Aspyr, Feral Interactive, MacSoft Games, and Virtual Programming.

Aspyr scrambled to get a Universal Build (that's an executable containing both the Intel and PowerPC binaries) of The Sims 2 ready after Apple first announced the Intel switch. They had usurped MacSoft as the leading Mac publisher, and weren't going to see their most popular title lose its market longevity. Other Universal Build updates followed for much of the Aspyr product line. At the same time, the company set about ensuring that its upcoming games would work equally well for Macs of the two different architectures. They dropped PowerPC support in 2007.
Aspyr's porting efforts from the past few years include NeverWinter Nights 2, Call of Duty 4, Guitar Hero World Tour, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and the entire Civilization 4 lineup. While ports of Civilization 4 and its first expansion, Warlords, came less than a year after their respective Windows releases, the second expansion, Beyond the Sword, did not arrive until July 2009, a full two years after the PC version, due to difficulty in adding support for the PC version's many fan- and developer-made mods. Civilization 4: Colonization followed in December.

Feral Interactive's highest profile release came in October last year, with a Mac port of the award-winning Bioshock, which was released on Windows and Xbox 360 back in August 2007. But they've been busy working on other ports, too. In August 2008, Feral announced their Legends Series, which would be made up of older PC games that never made it to the Mac. Essentially forming the publisher's budget line, this label has so far brought Mac versions of Sid Meier's Pirates! and Rome: Total War, with more titles expected to come. In recent years, Feral have also released ports of LEGO Indiana Jones, Fable, Tomb Raider Anniversary, Black & White 2, and The Movies, amongst others. The delay between Mac and Windows releases is usually either around six months or a few years, although the ports are typically of a high quality.

The once mighty MacSoft Games have been disturbingly quiet for the past year. They published the Mac-only snowboarding title Drop Point: Alaska in 2007, and ported Age of Empires 3 and its expansions, with the most recent, Asian Dynasties, released in July 2008. But besides updating their earlier OS X games to run natively on Intel Macs, that's about all they've released in the past few years. Back in 2007 MacSoft announced a port of Unreal Tournament 3, but that has yet to surface.

Virtual Programming have been the most prolific of the Mac game publishers since the Intel switch, with more than 30 titles published in the past three years. Highlights include X3: Terran Conflict, Hearts of Iron 3, Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, Europa Universalis 3, and Majesty 2. Their lineup also includes a number of adventure games, and some arcade and casual titles.
Read the full articles at the links provided below.

Part 1: The Rocky History Of Mac Gaming
Part 2: The Current State Of Mac Gaming
Part 3: Endlessly Waiting For Tomorrow

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Insectoid Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

MacNN recently published a new review of ActionSoft's Galaga-inspired space shooter, Insectoid. The action game includes over 50 levels, four unique ships, a variety of enemies, and three difficulty modes. MacNN gave the game a score of 4.5 out of 5.

From the review:

When you start, you can choose from one of three levels and four ships. The levels include Easy for your aging hands or your young kids, Normal for those of us that don't get to play games as often and we like, and Hard. Needless to say, the Hard level is geared for the rough and tumble seasoned gamers. The ships vary in shape, movement and shooting speed, plus special abilities.

The premise of the game, explained in the Help screens, is that youíre an inexperienced pilot who finds himself or herself in the battle for his/her life against the Quíroth. This story scenario seems contrived though. The Help pages also explain a bit about the special power cores, weapons, and bonus points that yield you more ships. You can change the keys used, music, and sound in the Options screen.

Exciting game play, plenty of opposition in a variety of colorful forms, bugs, and critters make Insectoid a winner for anyone who loves the simplicity of a single-shooter game. The best part is there are no blood, no human targets, and no tedious levels that go on too long.

Each screen offers a fascinating look into a different 2D space. That's a lot of great graphics when you consider there are a total of 50 levels in the game. Each system contains ten levels, and if you make it to the sixth level of any one system, you donít need to restart at level 1 if you are annihilated.
Check out the full review at the link below.

MacNN: Insectoid Review

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Mythic Developers Discuss Warhammer Online
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

MMORPG.com with several Mythic Entertainment developers, about the fantasy themed MMO, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. The team discussedd a variety of topics including the scenario system, patches, the free trial, and future plans.

Warhammer Online features Realm vs Realm combat and allows players to enter a grim fantasy world where the armies of Order (Dwarves, High Elves, and Empire) and Destruction (Greenskins, Dark Elves, and Chaos) collide to determine the fate of nations.

MMORPG.com: RvR remains the core part of the game, what are you most happy with in terms of RvR in recent months?
James Casey:We love RVR, and we're very happy that we've been able to retain our focus on it, because we think it's one of the things (if not *the* thing) that players enjoy about our game the most. And because we hold it in such high esteem, we choose to continually challenge our approach (instead of putting it on a pedestal and leaving it alone). For example, even though removing content is something we like to avoid, we made the tough decision to pull the fortresses out of the campaign, as they were inhibiting players' ability to enjoy RVR. We experimented with a number of different approaches internally before coming to that decision, but felt the more significant change was the right one. Now after making this change and seeing how the community has responded, we believe we made the right change. And so we begin the process again, after giving a serious look at Open RVR, we've turned our eye straight to Scenarios. And after that, we'll be focusing on the RVR balance in the city sieges. And then we'll look at Open RVR again. Being able to constantly improve, listen to feedback, and react, we think keeps this aspect of our game fresh and exciting, and that of course, makes us quite happy.

MMORPG.com: Do you see a shift in players now moving more towards RvR content vs. the PvE parts of the game?
James Casey:That's a tough question to quantify. With changes like the consolidation of Tier 1 in the New User Journey and the endless trial, RVR has picked up in Tier 1. We've seen the same pattern with some of the changes we've made over time for other tiers. City sieges are hopping and we hope to make them more attractive and chock full of RVR in the near future, so it's absolutely something we've been focusing on, and we think our players are responding in kind.

MMORPG.com:Can you give us some hints on Warhammer's plans for 2010?
Carrie Gouskos: We're still working through the year's master plan, but we've released our next steps in the most recent Producer's Letter. The letter focuses on some near term initiatives like the city changes and increased inventory space in 1.3.5, as well as our intention to realign communication with our community. One thing we want to focus on going forward is the spirit of collaboration, so that our vision for the game matches the future that our players desire for it.
Visit the page below to read more.

MMORPG.com: Warhammer Online
Mythic Entertainment
Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning
Pre-Order Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning

Mac Games News for Monday, March 1, 2010

BlizzCast Thirteen Now Available6:00 AM
New Star Tennis Reviewed6:00 AM
Two Worlds II: Desert City, Reputation, Romance6:00 AM
WoW Twitter Q&A Transcript6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, March 1, 2010 on one page

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