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Thursday, April 6, 2006

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Dofus Free Play Troubles
7:49 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Dofus, The flash based fantasy MMORPG from Ankama Studio, is experiencing an overwhelming growth of free play gamers since they offered the single realm of Astrub to entice players into the world. Despite being in only one area and offering a limited feature set, the free play option has attracted so many interested gamers that Ankama has been forced to consider adding servers to keep the free areas useable for newcomers.

To deal with this issue the company will be attempting an interesting subscription for items scheme which they hope will encourage free play gamers to begin supporting the game with real life gold. Players will be able to purchase keys to open new dungeon areas or buy new pets for their characters.

It's simple: Dofus has grown enormously since we added Astrub - too much, even. We're worried that one day we'll have more F2P players than P2P ones. We're ok for now, but we're going to have to add servers and increase the size of the F2P area (because Astrub is supposed to be fun for new players and it's hard when they find themselves on a map with 60 other people). But I must admit it's a vicious cycle: the more the area grows, the more it attracts free players, and the more free players we have the more money we lose.

Increasing the current subscription, for example raising it to 6 euros, would be worse because the P2P players would be the first to suffer. Adding a new payment method for F2P players, to try to lure them in, should work for everybody. At the moment we haven't decided on much but the focus is mostly on personalization, with 10 or so pets, and dungeon keys. That's all.

In addition to attracting new paying customers this subscription model will provide a test for an upcoming Ankama game which will be entirely pay for item based. The company is quick to reassure players that items for sale will provide character personalization rather than skills or powers.
Something else, that may not come as welcome news, is that we're currently working on another game that won't have subscription, but just items to buy. Obviously we'll have to test if the system is feasible in France. And even if it goes ahead, it won't be another Gunbound where the richest get the most powerful equips - the focus will again be on personalisation.

We're going to add monsters with reactions towards these new creatures, that'll be a great feature for Dofus, but essentially this is a test for our next game.

To more about Ankama's plans head over to the Dofus forums at the link below.

Dofus Forums: Free Play Woes
Dofus Official Site
Ankama Studio

Tuncer's Blog: Hands On With Boot Camp
2:34 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Indeed, hell has frozen over...again. Not only has Apple switched to Intel, they've released software that allows you to play PC games on your Intel Mac. IMG's Founder Tuncer Deniz takes Boot Camp for a spin and reports his findings. How well do PC games play on Intel Macs? And how will this impact the Mac gamer and the Mac gaming developer.

To check out the article, follow the link below.

Tuncer's Blog: Hands On With Boot Camp

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IMG Reviews Crazy Machines
12:48 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review of Crazy Machines. The game does an excellent job of capturing what made the Incredible Machine games fun, while raising the quality levels of the game to modern standards.

Here's a clip from the review:

The concept behind Crazy Machines is simple: take an incomplete experiment, a number of extra parts, and try to complete it in the shortest time possible. This seems simple at first, but soon the challenges become quite complex, sometimes requiring a number of tries to get right.
To check out the entire review, follow the link below.

IMG Review: Crazy Machines
Viva Media
Crazy Machines
Buy Crazy Machines

Macgamestore: AGON, Super Gem Drop Available
11:49 AM | Tuncer Deniz has two new Mac games available for purchase including AGON and Super Gem Drop.

Available for $29.95, AGON embarks you on a fantastic journey to far lands. The quest for the truth will lead you to surprising discoveries, challenging puzzles and amazing characters. In three thrilling episodes, the quest for AGON will take you from London’s British Museum, north to the Polar Regions and south to Madagascar. The trail to AGON will lead you to precious secrets and deadly evil. Immerse yourself into the 3D world of AGON, to experience an adventure like no other!

Super Gem Drop is available as a digital download for $19.99. Drop jewels in columns of matching color. Arrange identical gems in groups of 3 or more to keep them from overflowing the screen.

Macgamestore: AGON
Macgamestore: Super Gem Drop

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WoW: 1.1 Explored, Designer Interview, Dungeon Preview
7:49 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Issue 6 of Blizzard Entertainment's Insider newsletter examines some of the new features of the recently released 1.10 patch for World of Warcraft, offers an interview with one of WoW's designers, and casts a clairvoyant eye into the future for a sneak peak at upcoming content in patch 1.11.

Players interested in checking out the new weather effects can download movie clips from Blizzard's site.

All across Azeroth, the elements are finally coming to life. Thick drops of warm summer rain are falling gently through the green canopy of Elwynn Forest, while scorching desert sandstorms are blasting the walls of Gadgetzan and faraway Cenarion Hold in Silithus. The dreaded ogres of the Alterac Mountains and the crazed furbolgs of Winterspring alike are tasting the chill of merciless blizzards ravaging the countryside. Even the stout-hearted dwarven mountaineers of Khaz Modan would rather be at the side of a crackling fireplace, dancing flames warming the feet and dark dwarven ale warming the belly, than outside in the blistering cold.
Once finished frolicking in the rains and snows of Azeroth, an updated interactive priest talent tree offers the latest adjustments and improvements in an easy to navigate format.
The brighter the light that shines, the darker the shadows it casts. The darkness and the light are but two sides of the same coin. The priests of Azeroth have been blessed, their powers and talents increased to help them better face their class' many trials. Many awesome new powers have been unlocked, and the priests of Azeroth can now wield even greater healing energies. Some seem to be increasing their proficiency with wands much sooner than before, whereas others have been sighted living on as healing angels after their deaths! Some priests can now tap directly into the energies of their guiding power and create a locus of healing called a Lightwell, from which their friends can drink to regain health. Truly the priests have achieved a new mastery of their most potent talents.
The process of updating and modifying talent trees for the priest class and others can be a daunting one. In an in-house Q&A Game designer Tom Chilton offers a glimpse at the behind the scenes labor which keeps World of Warcraft running smoothly for its myriad fans.
What can you tell us about how the talent changes are evaluated and implemented? How much of the design cycle is usually visible to the players on the public test realms?

Actually, the vast majority of the design cycle happens before players ever see the changes on the public test realms. Generally speaking, our talent reviews begin about two to three weeks before the changes become available for testing by the public.

Once we've gone through the "mad scientist" phase and evaluated many different options, we isolate the ones we felt held the most promise and begin testing these trees. It is after these changes have gone through a few rounds of internal testing with our Quality Assurance department that players are exposed to the first preview on the website and a run on the public test realms. We receive a lot of important feedback during the public phase, and we evaluate the feedback in the context of the designs we tried in previous weeks during our earlier iterations. Based on this "big picture", we decide which modifications should be made to the design. Once we're confident we've accomplished our goals for this review, the trees are locked and made ready for the next patch.

Finally, the Insider offers a teaser for new thrills and dangers lurking just over the content horizon. Kel'Thuzad, the Lich King's right hand, will be bringing the horrors of the undead to Azeroth in a new dungeon and lair.
Several years ago, the Lich King preyed upon the mind of one of the most reckless magi of the Kirin Tor: Kel'Thuzad, whose obsession with the dark arts had ever concerned his fellow magi. Eventually he became one of the Lich King's most valuable servants. It was Kel'Thuzad upon whom the Lich King bestowed the task of assembling the Cult of the Damned, opening the way for the Scourge and ultimately for the Burning Legion's invasion of Azeroth. The Lich King promised Kel'Thuzad eternal life, and the Lich King kept his promise. After Arthas slew the wretched mage, Kel'Thuzad was brought back from the dead to continue his cursed existence as a powerful lich, locked in the service of his dark master for all eternity. The necropolis Naxxramas is the seat of Kel'Thuzad's evil, from which he oversees the Scourge and heeds his lord's command. A dreadful dawn is rising in the east as the Lich King's dark minions prepare to descend upon Azeroth. Soon the Scourge will march again, and this time there is no prophet to speak the warning, no gallant knight to fight the coming darkness, no legendary hero to thwart the monstrosity on the Frozen Throne. Who, then, will be the fire that burns against the cold, the light of hope that prevails beneath the shadow of the necropolis?
To learn more about the latest WoW developments click on the links below.

WoW: Patch 1.1 Features
WoW: Talent Tree Interview
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
Buy World of Warcraft

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Zoo Tycoon 2 Reviewed
7:49 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Another game review has arrived from Applelinks, this one focusing on Zoo Tycoon 2. ZT 2 gives players the chance to build their own zoo. Everything from designing the animal pens to deciding how many concession stands to provide customers is available for the sim building fanatic. Applelinks gave Zoo Tycoon 2 a hearty endorsement of 5 out of 5.

From the review:

Of course, you are running a business, not some sort of personal animal farm, so you must find ways to make money. You have a wide range of variables here. Would you like to have a free zoo or set your cost low, medium or high? Many different types of stands are available, offering your customers hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy and other confections. Drink stands and souvenir stands must inevitably follow. Placement and quantity all are important. You do not want to block a good view of the okapi, nor do you want to jam up a busy sidewalk that offers access to the rest of the zoo. But where there are vendors, there is waste. So now you must place restrooms, trash cans and recycling bins, and hire your first groundskeeper to keep them clean and empty. If you give them enough places to put their trash, your patrons will use your waste cans and keep the zoo clean, making them more likely to rate their visit more highly. This will make them want to put money in your donation boxes, which you will also want to place conveniently, well, everywhere. And always, your customers want a place to sit down, so benches, picnic tables, and children's rides are necessary.
The full review can be viewed at the Applelinks page listed below.

Applelinks: Zoo Tycoon 2 Review
Zoo Tycoon 2
Buy Zoo Tycoon 2

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More HoMM V Hero Previews
7:49 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Ubisoft's official site for all things mighty and magical is offering more hero biographies from the upcoming Heroes of Might and Magic V. Inferno, Dungeon, and Academy heroes step into the spotlight this time, giving players something new to examine while they wait for the game's release. HoMM V is the triumphant return to the long running turn based strategy series.

Inferno :

One of the generals charged to refit Kha-Beleth's prison to better suit his own needs, the demoness Deleb developed an intricate knowledge of machines. Nicknamed "Meat Grinder" by her detractors, Deleb puts unquestioning faith in her own engines of war rather than trusting to fickle Demon troops, whose loyalty is a constant balance between terror of their masters and terror for their lives.

Dungeon :

Lethos is considered a very useful ally due to his ability to win a battle before it starts. Though he has served many decades, his intimate knowledge of the more exotic poisons and diseases remains undimmed. Enemy troops approaching the field may feel the effects of Lethos's spells and concoctions even before the fighting begins; wise enemies have been known to start their attack by retreating.

Academy :

Havez has an eye for anything that is quirky or odd. His personal effects are an unusual mix of items from all over Ashan – shadow silk cloths from Ygg-Chall, leatherwork from Irollan, jewels from the Dwarven mines, etc. His interest in the quaint and curious extends to his troops as well; he has for many decades studied the Gremlins and specializes in the upbringing and training of these lizard-like humanoids.

To check out all the new information while you wait for Freeverse Software to release the Mac version head over to the HoMM V website at the link below.

HoMM V Website
Heroes of Might & Magic V
Buy Heroes of Might & Magic V

Should Microsoft Just Buy Apple?
7:49 AM | Anthony Wang | 18 comments

Even though the idea of Microsoft acquiring its archrival Apple seems a longshot, anything seems possible to a few publications after Apple released its dual booting software, Boot Camp to allow both Mac OS X and Windows XP operating systems to run natively on the Intel Macs. A few websites, such as New York Times, Tech News World, and CNET have posted articles on the possibility of the situation.

From the NY Times:

Imagine if Coca-Cola agreed to stock Pepsi in its vending machines.

While not a totally apt comparison, it begins to convey the upside-down sensation that came with Wednesday’s announcement that Apple Computer has introduced software that will allow the simple installation of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system on Apple’s newest computers.

And now that we are thinking the unthinkable, here is one more: What if Microsoft decided to buy Apple?

It is a crazy-sounding notion that was floated earlier this week in an opinion piece in TechNewsWorld. Though it still seems absurd on its face — the antitrust concerns could make such a deal dead on arrival — the idea might be worth revisiting in light of Wednesday’s news that Macs are about to become a much more comfortable home for Windows.

Click on the links below to continue reading and to learn more information.

NY Times: Article
Tech News World: Article
CNET: Article
Apple Boot Camp
Apple Releases Boot Camp

Mac Games News for Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Developers React To Apple's Boot Camp11:00 AM
Macgamestore: QUAKE 4 Now Shipping8:53 AM
Create Games With Dim3 For Free7:45 AM
New Heroes Of Might And Magic V Screenshots7:44 AM
Ventrilo 2.3.2p9 released7:43 AM
Win A Year Of World Of Warcraft7:43 AM
WoW: The Latest In High Level Raid Armor Now On Display7:43 AM
Apple Releases Boot Camp7:41 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, April 5, 2006 on one page

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006
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