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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

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Apple Games Features iPod Sudoku
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Apple Games has posted a review of Sudoku for iPod, one of several titles released for Apple's handheld multimedia device. This version of the popular number matching game offers a variety of difficulty levels and the unique ability to enter a puzzle from a newspaper or magazine. Apple's feature also includes a brief history of the game.

The biggest puzzle craze to hit newspapers since the invention of the crossword, Sudoku challenges you to fill an 81-square grid with the numbers one through nine, so that those digits appear only once in each row and column, as well as in each three-by-three subset of the main grid. Only logic can help you deduce the right numbers, although the game will fill in squares for you if you’re stuck.

Just don’t ask for assistance too often, though, because every time you ask for a hint, you reduce your final score. Each time you successfully solve a Sudoku puzzle, you earn Journey Points that go toward unlocking new background images and sounds, giving you fresh accompaniment for your brain-teasing travels. You can also unlock a new level of difficulty, Insane, that is sure to give all Sudoku fans their greatest challenge yet.

Click on the link below to check out the rest of the feature.

Apple Games: Sudoku for iPod
Apple Store: iPod Games

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IMG Reviews Tetris Zone
11:20 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of Tetris Zone. Here's a clip from the review:

Tetris Zone includes two choices of pleasing music and four game modes. Marathon, Challenge, Sprint, and the insane Master mode.

Marathon is a simple mode allowing you to go as far as you can. Challenge allows you to progress as far as possible in ten minutes of game play. Sprint allows you complete 40 lines as fast as you can. And Master mode is only for those incredibly brilliant or undeniably masochistic. In this mode, blocks appear at the bottom of the tray with no falling observed and a split second is allowed to slide the block in place.

To check out the full review, please follow the link below.

Inside Mac Games Review: Tetris Zone
Blue Planet Software
Tetris Zone

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Planewalker Games' Jason Compton On The Broken Hourglass
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Tales of the Rampant Coyote, a blog on the Rampant Games website, recently posted an interview with Planewalker Games' Jason Compton. The in-depth interview examines Planewalker's upcoming RPG, The Broken Hourglass, a fantasy adventure constructed in the style of classics in the genre.

Rampant Coyote: Besides the fact that it is for “ Baldur’s Gate Fans,” if you had one or two “hooks” … you know, big marketing plugs there to say, “This is what makes The Broken Hourglass so freaking cool,” what would they be?

Jason: I… Right now we’re at the point of just saying, “Oh, we’ve worked so hard on it, buy our game!” But I know that’s not a realistic expectation.

I guess the thing I’d say the “hook” is that we are making a story for you, the player. There’s been a lot of emphasis lately… and I’m not saying it’s bad or negative or hurts people or whatever … but there’s been a lot of emphasis on building multiplayer worlds where a lot of the story or engagement is based around you and some people that you managed to hook up with and collaborate with. And you build the story around the programmed events in the game. And that’s fine.

And then there are games where the exploration is the story. They give you kind of a loose plot thread, and the story comes together in your head as you buy houses and play dress-up. And that’s fine, too, but… the way we’re doing it is: We are building a story – what we hope is a rich and engaging story – for you the player, with you in mind, for you to play on your own, to enjoy, to immerse yourself in. Certainly to discuss it with your friends and collaborate with on strategies or mods or whatever. But it is built as a single-player experience.

And that’s something that not everyone can say that they do right now. I think that there is still a need for that. The same as there is a need for group events, and there is a need for being able to go home and read a book. We are more the reading-a-book side of it.
Head over to the site below to read the rest.

TotRC: Planewalker Games Interview
The Broken Hourglass

An Unreal Future For Epic Games
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

GameDaily BIZ recently posted an interview with Epic's Mark Rein and Cliff Bleszinski about the company's recent successes and future goals. Among other things the interview mentions diversifying the uses for the Unreal Engine, the importance of storytelling in games, and broadening the audience for games.

BIZ: [to Mark ] In a recent issue of Games for Windows, you said that over half of Unreal Tournament players never took the game online. Since the primary emphasis of UT2K4 was multiplayer, do those kinds of statistics surprise or disappoint you?

MR: No, it just shows that we did a really good job on the AI – that we gave you the multiplayer experience even if you never went online, because that's clearly what seems to be satisfying a lot of people. It's this ability to play against the kind of opponents you would see online and the kind of tactics you would get from a human player, and enjoy that without ever having to go online and get yelled and screamed at or beaten down by someone who's really amazing. You can choose, "I want an opponent who's this level, or three guys who are this level, and I want to go now!" So for me, UT was mostly a single player game—I would mostly play against bots—because I would just have 5 or 10 minutes to kill and I wanted to have a game and just wanted to play a couple different levels; I didn't want to have to go out and find a server and things of that nature.
For the full interview follow the link provided below.

GameDailybiz: Mark Rein & Cliffy B Interview
Epic Games

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Third Installment Of RPG History Released
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Last week Gamasutra posted the third part of The History Of Computer Role-Playing Games. Titled The Platinum and Modern Ages, this third installment offers an extensive look at the successes and failures in the RPG genre between 1994 and 2004. Games discussed include Baldur's Gate, Diablo, and Neverwinter Nights.

To my mind, the games that really represent the best of the genre appeared during the period I've termed the "Platinum Age," which begins in 1996 with the publication of three very important games, Origin's Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992), Blizzard's Diablo, and Bethesda's Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall (both 1996) .Other high points of the age include Interplay's Fallout (1997), Black Isle’s Planescape: Torment (1999), BioWare's Baldur's Gate (1998) and Baldur's Gate II (2000), Troika's Arcanum (2001) and Sir-Tech's Wizardy 8 (2001). The single-player, standalone CRPG reached its zenith during this period, and I've begun to doubt if Baldur's Gate II will ever be surpassed. Even in many of these games, though, the presence of online, multi-player options signaled the impending doom of the old CRPG we knew and loved. At the end of the platinum age, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, or the MMORPG, dominated the scene, and, at least to this critic, the future of the CRPG is grimmer than anything ever dreamed up by Lord British.

Not all that glitters is platinum, however. It’s during the early 1990s that we really begin to see games marred by sloppy code, particularly on the DOS and Windows platforms. Many otherwise impressive games were doomed at the start by hundreds of game-crashing glitches, which infuriated gamers and united critics against them. The likeliest explanation for the preponderance of bugs during this era is an industry-wide shift in development methods. Instead of just a handful or even a single person in charge of the coding, games were being built by increasingly large teams of specialized programmers, who would work on individual parts and then jam everything together. While this process occasionally went smoothly, more often that not bits of the code were incompatible, and finding bugs in such massive piles of code was like finding the proverbial unassigned pointer in the memory stack. Another key issue was the lack of industry standards among early graphic and sound card manufacturers; developers had to slap together code to support dozens of different standards—or risk alienating hordes of money-waving gamers. While it's now relatively easy to download and install a patch to address such issues, most people weren't online until well after many of these bug-infested games had passed out of circulation.
To read the rest of the history, including the first two installments for those who may have missed them, follow the links listed below.

Gamasutra: RPGs, The Platinum and Modern Ages

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Ćon's Secrets of Prey FAQ Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

Ćon's Secrets of Prey FAQ was recently released, offering a wealth of secrets to fans of the unique first person shooter, Prey. Focusing on the single player portion of the game, the FAQ offers step by step guides to finding secrets and hidden areas lurking within the dark corners of the game's levels.

This FAQ - actually a list of Secrets - is intended for the fans of the Single Player portion of Prey (developed by Human Head Studios), who have found several of the hidden areas, and are now wondering if there is more to discover.

Note: There are no "official" secrets - of the "You have found a secret" sort - in Prey. But there are several hidden areas that can only be accessed via Spirit Walk . Plus there are many - what I am calling - Special Areas that are off the well trodden path.

To make life easier I am providing "enhanced" screenshots to let you quickly find the hidden areas in the game. These are listed in the order of appearance in the game. The internal Map Names are also mentioned for your convenience.

Tip: If you only wantt to find out how many secrets there are per Map (avoiding spoilers), take a closer look at the Table of Contents , where you will find Secret and Special Area counters .
The FAQ contains spoilers for those who have yet to finish Prey, and is recommended for those who are taking a second trip through the game.

Click on the link below to check out the FAQ.

Ćon's Secrets of Prey FAQ
Aspyr Media
Buy Prey

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id Software's Todd Hollenshead Interviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

A recent Next Generation interview with id Software's CEO Todd Hollenshead offers a glimpse of the company's future game development. The interview covers a range of topics including the upcoming Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, the licensing of id properties like Wolfenstein to outside companies, and John Carmack's unnamed new FPS product.

I ask him if (Carmack's) game is going to elicit the same sort of ‘Oh My God’ responses that Id games in the past have achieved?

“When we went from Wolfenstein to Doom, people were said ‘Oh My God’ and then again when we went from Doom to Quake. I’m confident that John is going to be able to deliver that ‘Wow’ factor in terms of a huge visual and technological difference.

“We don’t go out and require people who are licensees of ours to issue press releases saying how great we are, how great our technology is.”

 “His approach allows us to do some things visually that we haven’t ever been able to do before. He is really unfettering the ability of artists to go absolutely nuts. We are not going to be constantly strapping artists down under budgets and memory restrictions. The technology allows artists to fully express the fidelity of their imaginations. I believe this game will look better than anything we have previously seen.”

The game’s name is not known, only that it will likely make use of outdoors environments to an extent rarely seen in previous Id games. This also means that the new engine on which the game is based has no name. In fact, it may be that the engine and the game will not share the same moniker.
Read the entire interview by clicking on the link below.

Next Generation: id CEO Todd Hollenshead Interviewed
id Software

Mac Games News for Monday, April 16, 2007

Barefeats: 3D Gaming On The 8 Core Mac Pro6:00 AM
Discussing Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword6:00 AM
Runes Of Avalon Released6:00 AM
StarCraft 2 Rumors Resurface6:00 AM
The Broken Hourglass: Level Paths6:00 AM
The Late Call Teaser6:00 AM
The Sims 2: Pets Updated6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, April 16, 2007 on one page

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