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Thursday, November 6, 2008

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Apple Games Features CSI: Hard Evidence
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Apple Games has posted a new feature article, this one examining CSI: Hard Evidence, a new mystery solving game based on the popular TV series. In Hard Evidence players must use forensics and interrogation techniques to get to the bottom of five cases. Apple Games' article includes an overview of the game's features as well as a history of the TV franchise, a list of the unsolved cases in the game, and directions for unlocking every case.

Your initial fieldwork yields clues that point you in a general direction. Start talking to witnesses and possible suspects as you piece together the puzzle, obtaining search and questioning warrants as necessary. You’ll likely need to return to the lab and garage several times as you collect more evidence and build a case. Eventually, the connections you create will enable you to ask Captain Brass for an arrest warrant. Just make sure you nab the right suspect.

At the conclusion of a case, supervisor Gil Grissom presents an evaluation of your work and gives you a rank. To deserve the title of Master Investigator, you must earn all Thoroughness Points awarded for completely searching all locations, collect all evidence, and never ask your partner for hints. You must also collect all of the insects hidden throughout a case’s locations; Grissom is an avid entomologist and appreciates the specimens.

As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock a variety of bonus items, including trailers, character concepts, and storyboards for the game. If you complete all five cases with a Master Investigator ranking, you’ll unlock a blackjack game, which is prefect for relaxing after unraveling those convoluted Sin City mysteries.
Click over to the link below to read the full article.

Apple Games: CSI Hard Evidence
CSI: Hard Evidence

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Jade Empire Special Edition Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Macworld has published a new review of Jade Empire: Special Edition. In the game players face powerful human and supernatural foes, learn magical martial arts and weapons styles, and discover the darkest secrets of the world. Macworld gave the game a score of 4 out of 5 mice.

From the review:

If you’ve played Knights of the Old Republic, you’ll be familiar with a concept that’s recycled for Jade Empire: moral ambiguity. You can make positive or negative decisions that will affect your standings with others, and in turn, will direct you down two different alignment paths within the game, unlocking new story elements, capabilities and rewards. It isn’t presented as “good versus evil” - instead, it’s “closed fist” choices (often aggressive and can carry with them some sort of extreme negative connotation), and “open palm” ethical choices (more noble and upstanding).

You’ll need to choose a weapon and fighting style, and three main attributes-Body (health), Chi (magic powers) and Focus (special combat techniques)-help you succeed at what you do. You can learn a wide range of techniques, everything from wielding specialized weapons like a master to understanding the arcane arts and mastering shape-changing ability or the control of the elements. You’ll need different styles and weapons to combat different foes, so it’s a good idea to learn as much as what suits your particular playing style.

Mouse and keyboard control is very effective, especially compared to the game’s gamepad basis on the Xbox. They’ve carried over an intuitive targeting system that will help you focus on who (or what) you have to fight quickly. You carry on conversations with computer-controlled characters through branching dialogue trees, but it’s worth noting that those conversations (as well as the action that unfolds around them) are pretty linear. They’re there to dress up the story a bit, but not much more.
To read the full review head over to the link below.

Macworld: Jade Empire Review
Jade Empire: Special Edition
Buy Jade Empire: Special Edition

Widget Monkey Comes To iPhone & iPod Touch
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

The Widget Monkeys, the team of David Janik-Jones and Ron Letkeman, have released their popular Widget Monkey rag-doll toy for iPhone and iPod touch devices. Users control the doll's actions by pressing the screen or shaking the iPhone.

From the Widget Monkey press release:

Widget Monkey is the original fun, rag-doll monkey toy that has been repeatedly featured in the Top 10 list and Staff Favourite picks on Apple's site, and was the inspirational first toy in a line of popular Dashboard widgets that have been downloaded nearly 900,000 times in the past three years.

The iPhone and iPod touch version of Widget Monkey retains the "seriously simple fun" philosphy behind all our toys. Press on the screen to make Widget Monkey collapse. Shake your device around to make the monkey dance and go wild. Aside from being a lot of fun, you'll find youself simply wasting time making Widget Monkey dance wildly.

David Janik-Jones and Ron Letkeman, known through their much-visited website, plan to bring many of their other well known WidgetMonkey "games" to the iPhone and iPod touch in the future, including an updated version of the popular Banana Warehouse game, and more wild animals like the popular Widget Giraffe. The huge popularity of the toys and games are due to the fact that they have been made for users of all ages seeking simple, easy-to-play, short games, and as toys that provide playful fun combined with a sense of humour.

Janik-Jones and Letkeman used a new version of the Unity game engine, developed by Unity Technology in Denmark, to port Widget Monkey to the iPhone platform. This lastest version of the highly successful game engine brings revolutionary game development to a revolutionary device.

Unity has become a major game engine used by studios around the world to create AAA-title games and MMOs, and supports all modern game development needs including: built-in Ageia physX physics engine; multiplayer networking; dynamic lighting; full terrain engine; shaders; programming in Javascript, C# or Boo; one-click publishing to Mac, PC, Wii, iPhone, widgets or web-enabled players; superb workflow environment and asset management; and many more high-end game development features. 

David Helgason, co-founder and CEO of Copenhagen-based Unity Technology, after seeing how popular the first two WidgetMonkey games had become, said, "What sets Unity apart is our flexibility, simplicity of use and quick workflows. Creative people feel empowered by it, instead of alienated by ... technology. The success of WidgetMonkeys validates what we were trying to do [in creating the Unity game development tool]."
Widget Monkey is available for download from Apple's iPhone App Store for only $0.99 for all iPhones and iPod touch devices. Follow the links below for more information.

iTunes App Store: Widget Monkey
Widget Monkeys

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Guild Software's John Bergman Discusses Vendetta Online
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

NCFC recently posted an interview with Guild Software's John Bergman. The Q&A covers a variety of topics including Vendetta Online, game design, and suggestions for those seeking to begin a career as a game designer.

Question 11: How do you go about creating fun gameplay and levels that compliment it well, and how do you know when you've successfully done that?
Bergman: Well, "Fun" can be difficult to define, as different people find appeal in different ways. Our own game tries to balance various playstyles and perspectives. We're one of the few MMOs that still pushes completely non-consensual PvP combat, but we still try to keep it in balance with other, more peacable playstyles. However, I still get angsty emails from people who don't like PvP, or who *only* like PvP; you can't please all of the people, all of the time.
Anyway, more specifically, keeping a fresh perspective is good when testing any new gameplay you make. Making gameplay is like anything else. Like writing a song, or painting a picture. After staring at something for 8 or 10 hours, or worse, months on end, you really lose perspective on whether it's any good or not, and it becomes a lot more difficult to pick out the flaws. A fresh perspective is useful in this case. Bigger companies use professional game testers to come in and give them a sort of "focus group" response, and that's probably very helpful. I read somewhere about the intense testing/tweaking process that one of the recent Halo games went through, with the every-movement and action of all their testers being recorded for intensive analysis.. "Why are most of them getting hung up here?" or "Why are they getting confused about what to do next over there?", etc. This is easier to define a linear FPS, but the principles are all the same.
Visit the site below to read the full interview.

NCFC: John Bergman Interview
Guild Software
Strategy First
Vendetta Online

Mac Games News for Wednesday, November 5, 2008

IMG Reviews Jack Keane10:19 AM
EVE Online: Quantum Rise Final Release Coming November 11th6:00 AM
New Spore Patch Available For Mac6:00 AM
Secret Of The Lost Cavern Released6:00 AM
Tamagotchi: 'Round The World Comes To iPod6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, November 5, 2008 on one page

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