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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Half Broken Crown: The Broken Kingdoms Announced
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 8 comments

NextGenBooks and author Darren Reid have announced that they are bringing an all new point and click fantasy adventure to Windows PCs, Macs, and consoles. Darren Reid’s The Half Broken Crown: The Broken Kingdoms is an all new game based upon the best selling author’s upcoming novel The Half Broken Crown. The game is a point and click style adventure which incorporates MMO elements, allowing all online players to communicate and solve puzzles through collaboration and cooperation.

The main game, being co-developed by James O’Hara, will feature over 100 unique screens and be a complete, self contained experience. Additional in-game purchases will open up episodic content that will increase the size of the game over the course of 2007.

The Broken Kingdom sees players working in the same world as Reid’s upcoming novel The Half Broken Crown, decades after the events in the book. The game is presented from a first person perspective and is heavily reliant upon puzzle solving rather than combat requiring players to work together in order to solve a series of scenes and puzzles.

“Of all my upcoming projects this is perhaps the one I am most excited about,” admitted Reid, “It is a unique opportunity for me to expand upon the [upcoming] book and to tell new stories.”

The game will be launched exclusively on NextGenBooks and be playable through internet web browsers with specific and individual versions designed for Wii, DS, PS3, PSP, PC and Mac. All console and computer versions of the game will be fully featured, however, the DS and PSP editions will not immediately support the multiplayer components of the game.
The game is due to launch in June 2007 with the the main game being free to play and additional episodes available for a small fee. Depending upon the level of content the episodes will range in price from $2.50 to $5.00.

Follow the links below to learn more about The Half Broken Crown: The Broken Kingdoms.

The Half Broken Crown: The Broken Kingdoms
Broken Kindgoms Developer's Blog

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The Broken Hourglass: Dynamic Creature Generation
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

Planewalker Games has posted a new article focusing on its upcoming RPG, The Broken Hourglass. The article examines the game engine's encounter function and its ability to offer dynamic creature generation. The Broken Hourglass will feature an isometric viewpoint, a multi-character party, and a rich storyline.

Creating random (or semi-randomized) encounters in an RPG is a little bit magic and a little bit science. We expose some of the science used in The Broken Hourglass this week by taking the cover off the _encounter function and explaining its inner workings. Although the focus of TBH is not on "procedural" or "random" content, dynamic creature generation is a useful tool to offer gameplay variety, and _encounter is one of the major procedural tools in the WeiNGINE arsenal.
Check out the entire article at the link below.

The Broken Hourglass: On-The-Fly Creature Customization
The Broken Hourglass

The Everyman And The Action Hero
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Gamasutra recently posted an article examining the limitations of computer games as a platform for crafting a rich background for player controlled characters. The article suggests that many of the storytelling conventions which work well for novels are hard or impossible to implement in a game environment. This problem results in a narrow selection of main character archetypes, a lack of depth, and limited background stories.

And yet one of my all-time favorite games is the RPG Fallout, which spins its own version of an unknown hero in unfamiliar territory. There are some key differences, however. First, there is a sense of a safe home, and second, in a sense, you know exactly who you are. Home is an underground bunker, which has been sealed away from the world ever since the nuclear holocaust. But the bunker’s water-purification chip has failed, and somebody will have to venture outside and find a replacement. And that someone is you.

The feeling of wide-eyed naiveté as you step into the hot sunlight of the radioactively transformed surface-world feels natural and earned. The game simply and gracefully has given you an everyman character to play, and a plot with the urgency and drama to make it work. You are a messenger on whom lives depend, and, as you learn more about the looming threats lurking in the wasted world above, a potential savior. (The point belongs to some other article, but the familiar Mad Max setting makes your immersion into the world that much easier.)

In other words, Fallout doesn’t avoid back-story and character definition at all. Instead, the player character is properly defined by the circumstances of the story, a perfect everyman. Situation is everything, and Fallout isn’t just a good beginning. By largely eschewing simplified morality (you don’t have to be a good guy, and most of the people in the game aren’t stamp-mold bad guys), these interactions become more real and meaningful than in almost any other game I’ve played.
The rest of the feature article is available at the link provided below.

The Everyman And The Action Hero: Building A Better Player Character

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Hands On With Pirates Of The Caribbean Online
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

YouGamers recently posted a hands-on preview of Disney's upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean Online, a multiplayer online addition to the very successful Pirates franchise. The game will allow players to engage in a variety of piratical activities including sword fights and ship to ship battles. The preview offers the writer's experiences playing a beta version of the game.

Starting off with just a sword and a dose of courage, the game introduces you to the various control and combat mechanics. It's all very easy to get a handle on, and you're soon fighting skeletons and crabs on the beach for a bounty. Each type of combat – hand-to-hand, cannon, sailing and Voodoo – has its own set up upgrades and special abilities, which are upgraded with Skill Points. Timing is crucial in hand-to-hand combat, with extra damage doled out based on various combination attacks. Out on the open sea, ship-to-ship combat is varied and can be a bit difficult if you're sailing solo on your vessel, as you have to alternate between captaining and manning the artillery. But sinking another ship is a satisfying endeavor and as with on-land combat, the plundering can be lucrative.

As you complete various Quests and defeat enemies, you gain Notoriety – PoTCO-speak for levels. There is a main storyline to follow, of course, as well as numerous side-quests. I particularly enjoyed sailing aimlessly and sinking Navy ships, but often a well-equipped and heavily armored East India Trading Company vessel would spoil the party and fill my hull with holes in short order. I'd scour the beach for hours, killing enough crabs for a bounty to pay for ship repairs, then set sail again to repeat the process. New ships are expensive, so be prepared to complete some menial quests over and over to gather enough gold for upgrades.
To read the full preview head over to the link below.

YouGamers: PotCo Preview
Pirates of the Caribbean Online

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Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword Previewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

IGN recently posted a preview of Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, the upcoming expansion for the popular turn based strategy title. The expansion will focus on increasing the play value in the late game after the introduction of gunpowder. A variety of new scenarios, units, leaders, and gameplay improvements will be available for players to enjoy.

Espionage in Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword deserves special attention because it has become a more integral part of the game than ever before. Its importance to your empire is now comparable to scientific research, culture, or income from taxes. This is because, through an "espionage slider," you have the ability to divert part of your income towards espionage activities against other civilizations. Once you have reached certain thresholds of espionage investment, you start gaining some automatic intelligence benefits over rival civilizations, like visibility into their cities, access to their demographics and power graphs, knowledge of their current research efforts, and ultimately the ability to prevent foreign spies from operating within your borders. There are new buildings to support your intelligence strategy like the Security Bureau that make it harder for foreign spies to perform missions in your cities, or the Intelligence Agency that enhances espionage spending.

You may also take a more aggressive approach to espionage, sending your agents into foreign territory to gather further intelligence and to perform various destructive missions, like blowing up terrain improvements and buildings, poisoning water supplies, or stealing gold. Spies can also influence foreign affairs by spreading their civilization's culture into their target city, or even by coercing their target leader to switch civics or state religions! Finally, spies can provide defense against enemy espionage by performing counterespionage missions. We're very excited about espionage as it clearly adds a whole new dimension to the game.
There is no word yet on the possibility of a Mac version of the game expansion. Click on the link below to read the rest of the preview

IGN: Civ IV Beyond The Sword Preview
Aspyr Media
Civilization IV
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Mac Games News for Monday, May 28, 2007

Blizzard Sues Gold Farming Company6:00 AM
The Restaurant Game Serves Up Universal Binary6:00 AM
The Sims 2 Pets Reviewed6:00 AM
The Sims Coming To The Big Screen?6:00 AM
Widget Monkeys Updates Widgets6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, May 28, 2007 on one page

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