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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

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Eschalon Book II: A Land Without Horses
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 5 comments

Basilisk Games has released the third of its weekly Q&A updates featuring answers to questions from forum members about the upcoming Eschalon: Book II. The latest answer explains why players will not have the opportunity to ride horses in the next installment of the old school RPG series.

Question #3: [Yeliu] Will we be able to ride horses to move faster and add a charge attack?
No. There will be no horses (or other mounts) in Book II. To be fair, we tried...we spent 3 weeks in February experimenting with adding horses to the engine and it just requires waaaaay too much modification. Things we had to consider: what to do with horses in towns and dungeons, horses in combat, how do traps/disease/poison effect horses, horses in regards to boats and portals, how player encumbrance effects horses (and a horse's carrying capacity in general), food/water requirements (if player needs to eat, shouldn't their horse as well?), not to mention tons of additional animation needed to put horses in the game. Seriously, horses and mounts need to be worked into an engine at the development stage for it to work properly- it's not something that can be easily tossed into an already developed engine.

I do promise that it will be considered for any future game we do outside the original Eschalon trilogy.

Head over to the link below to read the rest.

Basilisk Forum: Eschalon Book II Question Of The Week
Basilisk Games
Eschalon: Book II
Buy Eschalon: Book II

Chessmaster 9000 Universal Patch
1:03 PM | Evan Holt | 3 comments

Feral Interactive released the 1.1.2 patch for Chessmaster 9000 to update it to a Universal Binary.

This update to the game allows Chessmaster to run at full speed on Macs with Intel processors… and that's very speedy indeed. We've also fixed a few graphical glitches that occurred while running the game on OS X Leopard.
This patch also adds the Sparkle auto-updater so that if any future patches are released they will be downloaded and installed for you.

Follow the link below to Feral's website to learn more.

Feral: Chessmaster 9000 Universal Patch
Feral Interactive
Chessmaster 9000
Buy Chessmaster 9000

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IMG Reviews The History Channel Lost Worlds
7:36 AM | Marcus Albers | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the hidden object game The History Channel Lost Worlds. Here is a clip from the review:

Let me go over the selling points again. We have 1) Multiple Game Types. Four game types do count as multiple, so that is not a lie. 2) Authentic Imagery and 3) Beautiful and Challenging! I will hold off and number two and half of three till later. So is it challenging? Sure, some objects are hard to find, differences are hard as well (for the wrong reasons), and the puzzles are tricky. So that does make it challenging, right? I'll put it this way; if you complete a puzzle or don't, you advance to the next stage. Think about that for one more second. You can beat the game without even playing it. Just let the timer run out! Randomly click and make mistakes so the timer runs out faster! Move on ahead! Isn't that the exact opposite of a challenge?
Follow the link below to read the full review.

IMG Review: The History Channel Lost Worlds
The History Channel Lost Worlds

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Fitness Frenzy Released For Macs
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Macgamestore has announced the release of Fitness Frenzy for the Macintosh. The game was developed by Gogii Game. As Vicki, a personal fitness trainer, players must help all sorts of people from newbie joggers to muscle-bound weight lifters reach their personal fitness goals.

A great fitness trainer has the speed and knowledge to help clients hit their target body weight and shape in this Time-Management sprint. Pump those dumbbells and propel your way into a Fitness Frenzy.

* 50 unique levels to play
* 10 different Fitness Centers
* Cute funny characters
* Can you keep up to the Frenzy!
* Tons of upgrades and Special helpers
Fitness Frenzy for the Mac is available for $19.95 USD through Macgamestore. It requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later. A free 60 minute trial demo version of the game is available for download.

Buy Fitness Frenzy

LEGO WeDo Announced
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

The LEGO Group has announced LEGO Education WeDo, a new educational construction product that allows children ages 7 to 11 to build a LEGO model and program it to perform a certain task. Similar to scientists in working labs, children can test and adjust their programming in real time. After reflecting on what did and did not work, users can adapt programming, adjust models or begin again.

"Building upon our successful 10-year history of bringing educational robotics to middle, high school and university classrooms with the award-winning LEGO MINDSTORMS toolset, we are excited to extend this expertise to benefit an even younger audience," said Jens Maibom, vice president of LEGO Education. "With a progressively competitive global economy, we know it is imperative to provide even younger children and their teachers with curricular-relevant, easy-to-implement educational materials to spark children's interest in all manner of subjects. After observing classroom tests conducted in Brazil and the United States, we are confident that WeDo, the first product from LEGO Education designed to serve the classroom needs of emerging markets, will inspire teachers and motivate students in classrooms around the world."

"While still meeting state curriculum standards, the LEGO WeDo platform enabled me to start facilitating a new but natural process where my students had an opportunity to direct their own learning," said Debra Heath, science lab teacher for Don T. Durham Elementary School. "All of my students were so engaged in the lessons that they didn't realize they were learning; even the students who struggle in every subject were able to excel during LEGO WeDo projects."

"The LEGO Group and National Instruments share a vision of inspiring design and creativity in children through hands-on, interactive learning," said Ray Almgren, vice president of academic relations at National Instruments. "Through our joint development of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT and now LEGO Education WeDo, we are helping build an educational robotics platform, Powered by NI LabVIEW, that enhances science and engineering education for students in all age groups."

The complete LEGO WeDo package includes:
• 158 brightly colored LEGO elements, including gears, and levers
• One LEGO USB Hub connects directly to a Mac/PC laptop, desktop, OLPC XO or Intel Classmate computer to allow control of hardware input (tilt and motion sensors) and output (motor), thereby bringing models to life
• One motor, one motion sensor and one tilt sensor
• Drag-and-drop icon-based software that provides an intuitive and easy-to-use programming environment suitable for beginners and experienced users alike, developed by a leading provider of engineering hardware and software, National Instruments
• Activity pack CD-Rom provides up to 24 hours of instruction and includes 12 activities based on four themes: Amazing Mechanisms, Wild Animals, Play Soccer and Adventure Stories. Running alongside programming software, activities are introduced via animations. Teacher notes and glossary are also included.

LEGO WeDo is scheduled for release in January 2009. For more information follow the links below.

LEGO WeDo Announcement
The LEGO Group

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StarCraft II Panel Discussion
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Joystiq has posted a report on a recent StarCraft II discussion at Blizzard Entertainment's Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France. Blizzard's Robert Pardo covered the latest developments for the three playable races in the sci-fi RTS, and offered insight into the design choices being made as the game progresses.

Q: How will the planet systems be used?
A: The star map in the story campaigns is you mission selector. You will explore the story and have a lot of different paths to follow. You can choose from 2-7 missions depending on where you are in the story. There is a starmap in all three campaigns. but different for each race. For example, in the Terran campaign you will take a lot of mercenary missions for money to pay for technology.

Q: What role will hero and multiclass players play?
A: We are de-emphasizing heroes in Starcraft2. That's what Warcraft 3 is for. There will be some missions where you play named characters like Raynor, but not much. Mostly dialogue and story characters, not much as gameplay chars.

Q: What kind of units will come out from Protoss infested buildings?
A: I misspoke earlier. They [the Zerg] cannot infest Protoss buildings, but we're still deciding for sure.

Q: Will the Ghost unit get telekinesis or telepathic abilties like in the books and manga?
A: There is much experimentation right now with the unit and it's centered around the lore. There is a good chance, yes.

Click over to the link below to read more.

Joystiq: SC II Panel Discussion
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

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Diablo III Info Roundup
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment's recent announcement of Diablo III has led to a flood of new articles about the upcoming continuation of the successful action RPG series. IGN, Gamespot, Joystiq, and many other game websites have released interviews, previews, screenshots, and video footage from Blizzard's World Wide Invitational in Paris.

From an IGN interview with Rob Pardo:

The gameplay was also given several overhauls. "We were pretty heavily influenced by some of the games that were coming out like God of War, a very visceral game," said Pardo. "A totally different genre but you kind of saw games like that and we thought we really needed to update this game's gameplay…it has to be much more of an action game."

With many before the reveal buzzing about a potential Diablo MMO announcement, we had to ask: was there ever any thought to moving Diablo away from its overhead action-RPG roots? "It totally crossed our mind but this is the game we ultimately wanted to make. Obviously I love MMOs, I think it's a great genre, but that doesn't mean that other genres aren't great too. I actually see a huge opportunity in the action-RPG genre because nobody's really doing a lot of games in that genres and I don't understand why, personally."
From a GameSpot First Look:
The Witch Doctor will have control over disease, can summon pets, and can even control the minds of his or her enemies. We saw a few examples of these different approaches in the game demo: Locust swarm is a spell that summons a nasty horde of flying locusts that can overwhelm an opponent. Better yet, the locusts will automatically spawn to attack additional enemies in the area. We saw one pet in use too; the mongrel. This pet can attack enemies and can be buffed with other Witch Doctor spells; during the demo, the player cast locust swarm on his mongrel, giving the pet an attack bonus. We also briefly saw the horrify spell, which causes enemies to temporarily flee in terror. By far, his coolest ability was the wall of zombie, which was truly terrifying. If you've seen a wall of fire or ice in a game before, you probably have a pretty good idea of what this skill involves.

At first glance, the Witch Doctor resembles the Necromancer from Diablo II, both in his relatively skinny appearance (at least, when compared to the Barbarian) and through the class abilities (pet summoning, disease control). When asked about it during the gameplay design seminar, Blizzard developers were quick to point out that the Witch Doctor is very much its own class and that its presence in the game wouldn't necessarily require the removal of the Necromancer in Diablo III. In other words, it's conceivable that both classes could end up in Diablo III, even if it looks unlikely to us at this point.
To read more about the game follow the links collected below.

GameSpot: D3 First Look
GameSpot: D3 Videos
IGN: Rob Pardo D3 Interview
IGN: Class & Skill Creation Panel Discussion
Joystiq: D3 Lore & Art Panel Discussion
Joystiq: Leonard Boyarsky & Brian Morrisroe D3 Q&A
UGO Gamesblog: D3 Preview
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
Buy Diablo III

Mac Games News for Monday, June 30, 2008

Diablo III Announced7:42 AM
4th Of July Release For Europa Universalis: Rome6:00 AM
Diablo 2 Digital Download Added To Blizzard Accounts6:00 AM
Geneforge 5: Overthrow June Update6:00 AM
StarCraft II Unit Update6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, June 30, 2008 on one page

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