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Thursday, February 28, 2008

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Apple Games Features Neverwinter Nights 2
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Apple Games has conjured up a new feature article for the recently released Mac version of Neverwinter Nights 2. The feature offers an overview of what the game has to offer, comments from game designer Tony Evans, additional comments from Ed Greenwood on the history of the Forgotten Realms setting, a list of classes and races included in the game, and finally a list of cheat codes for those looking for an advantage.

“Neverwinter Night 2’s story is a classic tale of great evil threatening the lands and heroes rising up to conquer that evil,” explains game designer Tony Evans. You’ll need 50 hours or more to complete the game’s sprawling narrative, which includes many side quests and other activities. You’ll even find your character placed on trial at one point, accused of a horrific crime that he didn’t commit, and later you’ll take command of Crossroad Keep, a fortress serving as your home base for later quests.

During your journey, you recruit up to three non-player characters (NPCs) to help you. The presence of certain ones triggers specific side quests, and your interactions with them dictates their loyalty to you, a status level that makes a major difference when you find the odds against you in a battle. How you treat other characters you meet also nudges the story in certain directions, potentially turning you into a villain, rather than the hero.

“I like to play as an evil warlock,” confides Evans. “We added a lot of dastardly deeds and devious twists and turns for evil players in the story. I highly recommend playing the game through to the end as an evil character. In my opinion, it makes the game even more fun.”
Check out the entire feature at the link provided below.

Apple Games: Neverwinter Nights 2
Aspyr Media
Neverwinter Nights 2
Buy Neverwinter Nights 2

Testing The Mac Pro Graphics Cards
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Macworld has posted the results of recent tests of the two graphics cards options Apple has made available to Mac Pro owners. The tests measure the performance of the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT and Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT when used in a 2.8GHz Mac Pro.

In terms of 3-D game frame rates, the Nvidia’s performance was impressive in our lower-resolution game tests, especially the more taxing applications like Doom 3 and Quake. Running at a resolution of 1,024-by-768, the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT was 41-percent faster than the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT. In Quake 4 testing at that same resolution, the Nvidia was nearly 9 percent faster than the ATI. Not a bad performance gain, but we were much more impressed by how well the Nvidia performed at even higher resolutions, barely slowing down even after we cranked up the resolution to 1,600-by-1,200. The ATI’s high-resolution performance, on the other hand, dropped dramatically at the higher settings—pushing through 49-percent fewer frames per second in both Quake and Doom tests when run at 1,600-by-1,200 versus 1,024-by-768.

Our legacy gaming test, Unreal Tournament 2004 (included in Speedmark 5 because of its extensive compatibility with older Mac systems as well as the latest models), showed the ATI with a surprising advantage at the lower resolution setting. But that advantage was erased when resolution settings were bumped up to 1,600-by-1,200.
Head over to the link below to read the rest of the results.

Macworld: Testing The Mac Pro Graphics Card Options

The Making Of Phase For iPod
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

A recent Joystiq article provides a synopsis of a speech given by Harmonix's Chris Foster at the Game Developer's Conference. Foster's discussion covered the creation of the rhthym game Phase for Apple's iPod multimedia device, specifically looking at the effort involved in making the game respond properly to the wide range of potential songs it might encounter.

The most notable feature, and the one that caused the most trouble for the development team, is the procedurally-generated gameplay. Since Phase works with the music on your iPod, note charts must be automatically generated. Foster talked at length about the issue of ensuring that these are fun, making sure that there aren't too many or two few and that they are consistent. Some important decisions that went into this: the "slider" sections in silent parts of the song, and varying note density not only by beats, but also by loudness, to ensure a dynamic gameplay experience. Sensitivity of the generator was tested with an eclectic set of 200 songs, including especially problematic Japanese noise music and Bjork.
Foster showed some early design work on Phase, which started development as a two-button PSP game, then was put on indefinite hold by some other project of theirs, with drums or something, and then was picked up again. Originally, the concept of the game involved building a city with your music -- as the player successfully captured gems, structures would begin to build up on the sides of the game track. This took a number of visual forms, including one arresting black-and-white view that Foster said he would like to revisit for a game. It looked really cool. The question of presentation lingered throughout development on the PSP and iPod until the discovery of Andrew Stewart's artwork provided direction. His fun-focused design helped lead the team away from iPod-shaped cars or Spore-style iPod monsters.

The iPod provided its own issues. It didn't have the power for a "world-building" design. It also had a weird controller. In order to test their designs, the team actually built an iPod "emulator" by cutting the touchpad off of a desktop keyboard and gluing two paper circles to it. This touchpad, however, was more sensitive than the iPod's. Foster revealed that the team also had to add code to iTunes in order to get songs into the game, meaning that Phase installs on the computer and the iPod.

For the full article click on the link provided below.

Joystiq: Phase Discussion

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StarCraft II: Q&A Round 31
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Another StarCraft II Q&A batch is now available on Blizzard Entertainment's official forums. The 31st batch explores some of the new terran units and abilities and answers the usual set of five fan questions. StarCraft II will continue the storyline of the popular franchise and give multiplayer fans new challenges to enjoy.

Gameplay Blog: This past week while playing a Terran versus Terran mirror game, I discovered a new unit option from the Factory. This new unit is known as the Jackal, which is a fast vehicle like the Vulture, but instead wields a rail gun, which does an area of effect damage in a straight line at ground units.
My opponent built the standard Marines & Medics (M&Ms) composition while I bunkered my choke point and teched straight to a Factory with a Reactor add on, which allows me to build two Jackals at one time from a single Factory.
After I built a group of 6 Jackals, I rolled onto the field with my Jackals broken up in two groups with 3 Jackals each. I engaged his M&Ms with my first group, having the Marines line up around my Jackals as they naturally do while firing. Quickly, I brought in my second group of Jackals along the side to flank the M&Ms and the line attack did the rest, killing up to 2-3 units with a single focus fire command. With a little micromanagement, I was able to decimate his whole group of 15 or so units, while only losing two Jackals. That battle gave me a significant military advantage, which eventual led to a relatively quick win.

1. How will Marines mount into a pod? Is this done via the barracks, or an entirely unannounced building, or Dropship-like airship yet to be revealed? (
Terran infantry currently load into the Shadow Ops building (prerequisite for the Ghost). A Ghost can then launch drop pods, which originate from that building.

2. Can a player order a Ghost in a Bunker to call Nukes and Drop Pods? baboonsy (
Yes, Terran infantry currently have all abilities except the SCV repair ability available for use while inside a bunker, including the use of Nukes and Drop Pods.

3. What spells are specifically affected by the Nullifiers ability? Will physical spells like the Marines Stim Pack, the Ghosts Nuke, or Reaper Mines be disabled? Also, will spells cast before entering the area (I.E. Ghosts cloak) be disabled upon entering the area? (
Only abilities which require energy usage will need be unable to be cast while in the Null Voids area of effect. Additionally, the Null Void ability will disengage cloak by units such as the Ghost. It also currently reveals burrowed Zerg units, but this is still being debated in terms of balance.
Head over to the site below to read the rest of the answers.

StarCraft Forums: SC 2 Q&A Batch 31
StarCraft Forums: Ask Your SC 2 Questions Here
StarCraft Forums: Q&A Archive
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

Mac Games News for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Apple Games Features OOTP Baseball 86:00 AM
Colin McRae Rally Mac Reviewed6:00 AM
Hothead's Ron Gilbert On The Rain Slick Precipice6:00 AM
Nine Paths To Indie Game Greatness6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, February 27, 2008 on one page

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