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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Apple Games Features Mystery Mansion Pinball
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Apple Games has added another game article to its site, this one focusing on the recently released Mystery Mansion Pinball for Apple's iPod. The arcade pinball game features a spooky theme, colorful graphics, and five mini games. The article includes an overview of Mystery Mansion, a short description of each mini-game, and a history of pinball games.

Eerie music accompanies the first ball you put into play. It speeds up the Ghostly Lane ramp, toward the secret lab, where electricity crackles each time it strikes a bumper; do that enough times and you’ll begin video mode. The ball rolls down Courtyard Lane and an expert flipper shot sends it up the treasure ramp. As you execute that move, a creepy voice cackles: “Don’t be afraid.” Easy for him to say.

The ball drops near the other flipper and you hurl it toward the moon, where a third flipper allows you to loop it into orbit as many times as you can, lighting up the letters in the word “MOON” along the way. Strike the moon a few times with the ball and you enter one of Mystery Mansion’s coveted multi-ball modes. Soon you’re racking up big points as you send balls flying around the table; cross the treasure ramp four times to earn a jackpot multiplier.
View the full article by following the link below.

Apple Games: Myster Mansion Pinball

Possible Future Mac Pro GPUs Evaluated
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Barefeats recently released new GPU comparison tests examining how current Apple offerings stand up to the ATI Radeon HD 4870 and the nVIDIA GeForce GTX 280, two graphics options which may be available for Mac Pro owners in the future. Since Apple versions are not yet available the tests were conducted using Windows Vista via Boot Camp.

Though the GeForce GTX 280 is clearly superior in the tests we ran, we think the Radeon HD 4870 is the better choice for Apple's next optional GPU. Why? Because ATI has optimized their Mac Edition drivers and firmware for the Radeon 2600 XT and 3870 so that they run Core Image effects much faster than comparable nVidia cards including the GeForce 8800 GT and Quadro FX 5600.

In other words, if Apple is truly serious about optimizing their suite of Pro Apps (FCP, Motion, Aperture, etc.) for Core Image performance, then the Radeon HD 4870 should be the next CTO "shoe" they drop. Better yet, I think they should go with the soon-to-ship Radeon HD 4870 X2 dual processor model. We hope to get our hands on a "Windows only" version soon but meanwhile, take a look at Andandtech's "early look." The GRID graphs are especially interesting.
Check out the full results at the link provided below.

Barefeats: Possible Future Mac Pro GPUs Examined

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Will Wright Discusses Gaming, MMOs, And Spore
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

An interview with Maxis' Will Wright has kicked off Eurogamer's Spore Week, focusing on the upcoming god sim, Spore. The interview touched on a variety of topics including Wright's personal history, the future of gaming, and Spore's position as a hybrid of single and multiplayer game concepts.

Eurogamer: You attempted an MMO with The Sims Online, which didn't prove a success; and you've described Spore as a 'massively single-player online experience'. Are you more interested in pursuing this course now, or have you learnt enough so that you would go back and look again and look at a more multiplayer-oriented title?
Will Wright: I think the reason I was driven to what Spore ended up becoming is that there are a lot of games out there that were single-player experiences, unconnected. There were a lot of games that were massively-multiplayer experiences, and there was nothing between the two. Yet there's a really interesting space of hybrids between the two that Spore became, where you have a lot of players connected through content, but it's not synchronous: it's asynchronous interactions.

When you design a massively-multiplayer online game you have to bite off a lot of major design limitations, like nobody can pause the game, nobody can cheat, you usually have to pay a subscription. But the biggest benefit I saw from that was the possibility of having a collaboratively built world, that's huge and always surprising. So for Spore we tried to figure out, how do we get the best aspects of a massively-multiplayer game without all these huge design limitations?

I think a lot of these limitations were what sank The Sims Online: we didn't have enough user-created content; to a lot of the people that were playing The Sims, the idea of paying a subscription was a really big filter - a lot didn't even have credit cards. So really I think it's interesting that nobody's explored this hybrid space between the two, and that's the reason we ended up there with Spore. That's not to say that one day we might not do a massively-multiplayer online version of it, but it's just not the most interesting initial unveiling of it for me.
Read the full Q&A at the site linked below.

Eurogamer: Will Wright Interview
Electronic Arts
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EVE Online Starship Speed Controversy
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has published a new editorial covering recent changes to EVE Online, CCP Games' space based MMO. To address balance issues the company has proposed changes to the speed of certain medium starships, creating heated debate within the player community.

I’ve been playing Eve Online on and off for about five years now and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much controversy as that being generated by the most recently proposed changes. These changes basically concern how fast medium sized spaceships should go, and what the ramifications for the rest of the game will be if they’re made to slow down. The mixture of rage, indignation and constructive feedback that has emerged in response to the proposals has created a sixty-three page thread on the official forums, and countless arguments elsewhere - even between my own Eve Onlining chums. But are the subs-paying players right to be angry when the developer changes the nature of their favourite toy? And who should be calling the shots anyway?

The argument taking place over the nature of speed as a tactic in Eve Online casts CCP in a rather autocratic light. The speedy ships that have evolved over the past eighteen months have appeared organically, as players did what they do best: figure out how to squeeze the most out of their chosen game. CCP have said that they want the tactic removed, and that’s that. Feedback might tweak things, but the changes are needed, say the CCP space-combat boffins.

The people who pilot the speedy ships, and have spent hours grinding for the money (or seconds trading game-time cards for the money), are predictably non-plussed, and have vented according. But do they have any right to their anger? Is it not the case, in fact, that CCP have a responsibility to keep the game evolving, and to keep it changing? Even if speed is a positive force in the game (which is highly debated), doesn’t CCP’s mandate to keep the game alive mean making changes that will ensure it cannot stagnate, even when those changes are radical? Speed is, as CCP point out, the most important factor in combat. So important that it is now the primary consideration in almost any Eve Online PvP situation. So should the balance be necessarily changed for the sake of progress?
Head over to the link below to read the rest.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun: EVE Online And The Big Nerf
CCP Games
EVE Online

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Diablo III: The Gender Debate
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 12 comments

MTV Multiplayer has continued the trickle of Diablo III tidbits with another series of comments from Blizzard's Jay Wilson about the upcoming action RPG sequel. This time the lead designer revealed the team's internal debate over the decision to allow both male and female versions of each character class.

Like the destaturated art style and the inclusion of old character classes, some “Diablo III” team members wanted to stick with the familiar one-gender archetypes.

And why was that?

“These [characters] are not people; they are so far above the normal civilians because that’s the tone of the game,” Wilson explained. “We really wanted the classes to be archetypal, and we wanted them to stand out from the world as a stark contrast.”

Wilson also told me that in making these unique archetypes, that meant having to create custom models. Add different genders to that, and it’s not cheap. “It’s pretty expensive for us art-wise because of the way we do our classes and the way we do a lot of the weaponry we create,” he said. “And essentially doing [different genders] adds a lot of model artwork. ‘World of Warcraft‘ was very smart about how they chose their class models and their NPCs, because they were very efficient with the number of models that they made. We were not.”

Despite the cost, the company is moving forward with gender choices for the character classes. For Wilson, it wasn’t even an option anyway. “For me it was always a no-brainer to have gender choice,” he said, having both male and female characters in “World of Warcraft.” “There’s so much interest as to guys who plays girls or girls who play guys. Sometimes it’s assumed that people play their own gender, but a lot of the times people don’t. It’s obviously a really important choice that we want people to be able to make on their own.”
Visit the page below to read the full interview.

MTV Multiplayer: Diablo III Gender Choice A ‘Big Debate’
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
Buy Diablo III

Mac Games News for Monday, August 11, 2008

MacRaider, Kerrie Reay Passes Away9:03 AM
BlizzCon 2008 Website Opens6:00 AM
Diablo III: Beta Keys, Achievements, Cow Level Failure6:00 AM
Eschalon Book II: Mac Requirements6:00 AM
Reel Deal Casino: Gold Rush Now Available6:00 AM
Vendetta Online Updated6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, August 11, 2008 on one page

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