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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spiderweb: Geneforge 5, Universal Updates, A New Series
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 4 comments

Spiderweb Software has issued a new company newsletter detailing recent releases, updates, and upcoming projects for the game developer. The release of Geneforge 5: Overthrow brings the RPG saga to a close, deciding the winner in the war between Shapers and Rebels. For those with Intel macs who haven't started the series, Spiderweb is also working to develop universal versions of the first three Geneforge titles. Future projects include a conclusion for another RPG series and the launch of an entirely new one.

Geneforge 5: Overthrow Released:
It has been a long road. From the forgotten shores of Sucia island to a secret rebellion brewing in the southern mountains to a cataclysmic war ravaging all of the known lands. At last, the time has come. Someone must win this war. It will be up to you to decide who. The Geneforge Saga comes to a close.
Geneforge 5: Overthrow is set in the land of the Shapers, a secretive sect of wizards with the ability to create new life to serve them. Then their servants rebelled, and their whole world slid into ruin. Play a lone traveler in this strange land and fight to bring an end to this war. End the reign of the Shapers. Or, if you choose, join them and destroy the rebels once and for all.
Geneforge 5: Overthrow has a huge, open storyline. You can choose to serve one of five different factions, each of which has its own path to bring the war to an end. There are dozens of different endings and paths to victory. Help the rebels or fight them. Kill your opponents or use stealth and diplomacy. Focus on the storyline or simply seek wealth and carnage. No matter how you play, Geneforge 5 offers an epic adventure with plenty of replay value.

Geneforge 1-3 Universal Versions on the Way:
We have some more good news for users of Intel Macintoshes. We are working on making Universal, Intel-native versions of the first three games in the Geneforge series. Public beta testing of Universal Geneforge has begun. Watch the Geneforge 2 and Geneforge 3 pages to see when the new Mac versions are available.

What Else Are We Working On?
We are taking baby steps toward designing our next two games. One of them will bring our oldest and most popular series to a smashing conclusion. Literally. And the other will be the beginning of a completely new series. We'll say more in upcoming issues of the newsletter.
For more information about Spiderweb Software and its RPG games follow the links below.

Spiderweb Software
Geneforge 2
Geneforge 3
Geneforge 5
Buy Geneforge 5

Used Games Threaten Developers
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 16 comments

Gamasutra has published a new article examining the impact of used game sales on developers. Industry insiders discuss the multi-billion dollar resale market, how game developers feel about used games, and how the shift to digital distribution will change the playing field for resellers and developers.

"I compared the sales figures to the number of tech support calls we were getting in Italy," David Braben says. "Would you believe that we had sold only 100 or so games, but were receiving tens of thousands of support calls? It's that sort of thing that gets you thinking about the costs you incur from piracy and from pre-owned games.

"That's in addition to the fact that we don't see anything from the used-game sales, which is one reason why the price of new games throughout the industry remains artificially high," he says. "I mean, the industry has to make all its money from the first sale since we don't get a penny from the subsequent dozen or so sales of that same game."

The used-game market may also be negatively affecting the quality of games, he notes. "Five years ago, a great game would have sold for a longer period of time than for a bad game -- which was essentially our incentive to make great games."

"But no longer. Now publishers and developers just see revenue the initial few weeks regardless of the game's quality and then gamers start buying used copies which generates money that goes into GameStop's pocket, nobody else's."
Check out the full article by following the link below.

Gamasutra: Used Games Get More Painful

Study Finds Half Of American Adults Play Games
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 14 comments

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently released a new report on the playing habits of video game players. Among other things the examination revealed that 53% of all American adults play video games, of those 65 and older who play games nearly a third play games every day, and 73% of adults choose the personal computer as their platform of choice for playing.

Some 53% of American adults age 18 and older play video games, and about one in five adults
(21%) play everyday or almost everyday. While the number of video gamers among adults is substantial, it is still well under the number of teens who play. Fully 97% of teens play video games.

Younger generations tend to dominate the gaming world; however, older respondents who do play games are more avid players. Older gamers, particularly seniors, tend to play games more frequently. Over one-third (36%) of gamers 65 and older say they play games everyday or almost everyday, compared with 19% of adults aged 50-64, 20% of adults aged 30-49, and 20% of adults aged 18-29. Senior gamers may play more frequently because they have more time to play than younger gamers, as 77% of senior gamers reported being retired.

Of the devices that can be used to play video games, computers are the most popular. Fully 38% of adults report playing games on desktop or laptop computers. This percentage compares with 28% who play on game consoles like an Xbox, PlayStation or Wii; 18% who play on a cell phone, Blackberry or other handheld organizer; and 13% who play on portable gaming devices like a PSP, DS or Gameboy.

These trends contrast with the gaming experiences of teens. For those ages 12-17, game consoles are the most popular gaming device, and 89% of teen gamers use consoles to play games. Teen gamers are no more likely than adult gamers to use computers to play games, and while adult gamers are more likely to play games on cell phones or Blackberries than on portable gaming devices, teen gamers show the opposite set of preferences, preferring the portable devices to cell phones.
The full report can be downloaded in pdf format from the link below.

Pew Internet & American Life Project Report
Pew Internet & American Life Project Website

Click to enlarge
Under The Sea With Aquaria
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

The Mac Gamer recently posted a new review of Aquaria, Bit Blot's 2D sidescrolling underwater adventure game. Brought to the Mac by Ambrosia Software, the game allows player to take the role of Naija and work to unlock the secrets of her past while defeating or outwitting the various creatures encountered along the way.

From the review:

As you wind your way through the caverns that make up Naija’s world, you will find yourself faced with many a puzzle. Some are quite simple, while others are very oblique. And the game is in no hurry to hand the answers over. Many puzzles will not be solved until you progress further in the game, requiring you to revisit areas later after you have acquired certain abilities. And while Aquaria’s mapping system does a good job of showing your progress in a particular area of the game, there is no facility for showing your progress in the areas of the game that you do not currently occupy, making remembering where you’ve been and what was there a huge part of the puzzle-solving mechanics.

The story of Aquaria is deep and involved. It is played out slowly as you progress through the game, with Naija narrating the progress, and quite often switching to cut-scenes that show bits of the history of the land, or Naija’s own history. The voice-acting is top-notch, and the dialog is well-written.

All these elements combined, you get a game that invokes a couple of classic game titles in my mind. The over-all experience and progression of the game is reminiscent of Metroid, as you explore an extensive system of caves, facing puzzles that often cannot be overcome until you acquire further abilities. The use of music calls up memories of the LucasArts adventure classic Loom, in which your warlock character was able to cast spells by playing tones on the mystical titular instrument. The experience of Aquaria is at once familiar and unique. It is a game that will keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, and you won’t regret it.
Visit the page listed below to read the full review.

The Mac Gamer: Aquaria Review
Ambrosia Software

Mac Games News for Monday, December 8, 2008

Fusion Fall To Launch In January 20096:00 AM
Kivi's Underworld Updated6:00 AM
LEGO Indiana Jones Now Shipping6:00 AM
ToCA Race Driver 3 Reviewed6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, December 8, 2008 on one page

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