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Thursday, May 31, 2007

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Conquest of Elysium II Released As Freeware
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Illwinter Game Design and Shrapnel Games have made Conquest of Elysium II available as a free download. The turn based fantasy strategy game is the precursor to the enjoyably complex Dominions series, and allows one to eight human or computer controlled nations battle for sole rulership of the land. Although not as complex as its descendants, CoE II offers a horde of units and options to play with.

In 1997 Illwinter Game Design, best known for their award-winning series, Dominions, released on an unsuspecting world Conquest of Elysium II. The direct precursor of Dominions 3: The Awakening, Conquest of Elysium II is where the addiction originated. Unfortunately, for fans wanting to see how their favorite fantasy series began, acquiring a copy has been difficult, at least until now.

Illwinter Game Design and Shrapnel Games have just made Conquest of Elysium II available to the world as a FREE download. This is the full game, no strings attached. Download and play it forever!

Available for all the major operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux-sorry, Sinclair ZX81 users!), Conquest of Elysium II allows gamers to step back in time and discover a true strategy gem that emphasizes gameplay over glitz, and rewards players with a rich tapestry of carefully woven fun. Dominions players will instantly recognize the themes and options explored in the game, although at a smaller scale than they are used to.
Head over to the site below to download the game.

Conquest Of Elysium II
Shrapnel Games

Mac GameTap on Tap for Late Summer
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 8 comments

Joystiq has posted an interview with GameTap's VP of Marketing, David Reid, and the VP of Content, Rick Sanchez, about the upcoming changes to the subscription based game service. In addition to discussion about free to play games being made available today the interview also briefly touches on updates specifically for Mac users. No specifics were given other than the promise that in late summer "Mac users will get use of and our subscription service."

Will there be more options available for Mac users in the future other than Myst? Has there been enough of a Mac presence to make it worthwhile?

It's definitely something we're looking into -- late summer we'll have a Mac product.

Late summer you'll have a what?

We'll have a Mac product. So yes, late summer Mac users will get use of and our subscription service.
Check out the rest of the interview at the link below.

Joystiq: GameTap Q&A

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Blizzard's Rob Pardo Discusses StarCraft II
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 5 comments

MSNBC has posted a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Rob Pardo about the upcoming, and eagerly awaited, StarCraft II. Sequel to one of the most successful RTS titles of all time, the game will continue the saga of the Terrans, Protoss, and Zerg. The interview covers a variety of issues including Blizzard's long development cycles and StarCraft II's "when it's finished" release date.

Speaking of secrets, what is your timeline for release for “StarCraft II?”

It’s a secret! I can give you the old Blizzard mantra of: “It’ll ship when it’s ready,” but it’s something that historically, we’ve learned to keep release dates really close to the vest. I think all game developers are extremely optimistic, and we used to give optimistic dates and we’d disappoint our fans when we didn’t hit them. So now, I think we’ve just gotten more gun shy. The only thing I can give you [that’s] concrete is it’s not going to be this year. Some people were hoping, because of how advanced the game looks, that we’d have it out by Christmas, but that’s definitely not happening.

That’s a pretty long development cycle, if you started work on “StarCraft II” in 2003.

Different companies have different philosophies on how long they spend on products. I think we…have smaller development teams than other companies in the industry, and that turns into longer development cycles. We’re very iterative in our approach to game development. We can really look at the game and make really big decisions on redoing whole aspects of the game.

“Warcraft III” as an example: About two years in, we overhauled a large portion of the game because we just felt like we were going in the wrong direction. We’re able to do that because we have smaller teams and we give ourselves time to iterate through the product. You see a lot of companies that are so focused on the release date that they put 100-person, 200-person teams together to hit that date, and at that point you’re really the runaway train. You have to hit that date and live with decisions that you might not have been 100 percent happy with. We take the opposite approach.
The full interview is available at the link below.

MSNBC: StarCraft 2 Q&A
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

On The Rain-Slick Precipice With Hothead Games
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Gamasutra is now offering a new interview with Hothead Games' CEOs Steve Bocska and Vlad Ceraldi about the company and its upcoming projects, including Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. The Q&A session examines the history of the company, trends in the gaming industry, and reveals what it is like to work with Gabe and Tycho.

How did you become involved with Penny Arcade?

VC: A few people I was working with kept talking about this ‘Penny Arcade’ thing about seven years ago. I checked it out and liked it, so we tried to get Gabe and Tycho into one of our games as secret characters. But the publisher eventually passed on the idea. A few years later, I got a chance to be on an industry panel at the first Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). We kept in contact ever since. When we started Hothead, one of our programmers here, Cary Brisebois, was a huge fan of Penny Arcade, knew Gabe and Tyco, and helped get us all together.

How important do you think it is for the game to be multiplatform?

VC: While it is always a good business decision to have a game on as many platforms as possible, we are doing it because we believe a gamer should have a choice to play a game on whatever system they want. There are a lot of great game platforms so we are operating system- and platform-agnostic. We would like to add more platforms as we continue production and for future episodes and games.
For the full interview head over to the site provided at the link below.

Gamasutra: Hothead Games Interview
Penny Arcade Adventures

The Importance Of Writing In Games, Part 3
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Ars Technica recently posted the third and final installment of a series looking at the importance of writing in computer games. The articles examine the lack of quality writing in many titles and the difficulty introduced by the interactive nature of games. The latest installment is an interview with veteran game writer Susan O'Connor.

Ars Technica: Many people tell me that they want to write for games, but it's one of the few careers in gaming that is still shrouded in mystery. How does one become a game writer? Is it a matter of knowing people, or is there an actual career path?

Susan O'Connor: It's still the Wild West in terms of finding a position. But that's true for most creative jobs, not just writing. Personal connections help. The good news is that people in the gaming industry are easy to approach. The IGDA has chapters in most major cities, and they hold regular social events. There's one thing that future game writers can do while they wait for their big break, and that is write. Because if a job opens up, the first thing the studio will want is writing samples. Not in a week, but in an hour. And that's samples, plural! So it's not a bad idea for would-be game writers to give themselves a few writing assignments.

When someone's just starting out, any kind of samples will do, but dramatic pieces are probably best—film or television specs. But—here's the trick—the writer has to be ready to show the developer how they would write for an interactive medium. So a TV spec won't be enough. Here's another idea. They can write a "missing level" for an existing video game. And frankly, a lot of games cut levels at the last minute, so it's easy to find candidates for that kind of project! Just be ready to do a fair amount of game design along with your writing. Good times.
Click over to the links below to read the rest of the interview and the first two installments of the series.

Ars Technica: Why Writing In Games Matters Part 3
Ars Technica: Why Writing In Games Matters Part 1
Ars Technica: Why Writing In Games Matters Part 2

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Inside Mac Games Interviews Cyan's Rand Miller12:47 PM
Apple Games Features Texas Hold'em6:00 AM
The Impact Of Online Games On Single Player RPG Design6:00 AM
The Late Call Update: 3D Screenshot, Music Sample6:00 AM
Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Comic Available Online6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 30, 2007 on one page

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