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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pangea Ends Mac Development In Favor Of iPhone
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 38 comments

In a video interview with The Guardian, Pangea Software's Brian Greenstone revealed that the company would no longer be developing products for Macs, choosing instead to focus exclusively on iPhone titles. So far Apple's iPhone has earned Pangea $1.5 million, a number which Greenstone said makes Mac development earnings seem like "lunch money" in comparison.

There are over 27 thousand applications for the iPhone, a platform that has revolutionised the handheld gaming industry. For one Mac developer, it's the platform that made his company $1.5 million.

Brian Greenstone, creator of the phenomenon Enigmo - a game that's sold 810,000 units in six months - speaks with the gamesblog at the annual South by Southwest Interactive festival, about what it takes to be a successful developer for the new platform.
Click over to the link below to check out the interview.

The Guardian UK: How To Be A Successful iPhone Developer
Pangea Software

Driving Kids Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Mac|Life has posted a new review of Driving Kids, a web based MMO catering to 4- to 7-year olds. In the Flash based game players move around a map, clicking on icons to open Driving Kids' collection of mini-games. Mac|Life gave the child friendly title a score of 3 out of 5.

From the review:

The minigames let kids practice soft skills like pointing and clicking, recognizing patterns, matching like items, and listening to and following directions. They’ll guide a bus through a maze, match trucks and trains by color, identify matching musical tones, scoop up trash that’s polluting the ocean, complete puzzles and Memory-style games, and dump water from a helicopter to grow mushrooms to feed hedgehogs. (Yeah, don’t ask about that last one.)

While most of the minigames seem just right for the target age group, some of them were so hard, we adults had to give up: the house-building game from the Hydro Tilt level, for example. A minigame that had us tracing numerals by dragging the mouse was hampered by delayed input. And the taxi race suffered from unintuitive controls—the Up arrow always moves you forward, even if your car is pointed in the down, right, or left direction.

Players earn Auro, the in-game currency, then spend it on flashier vehicles or fancy paint jobs. What might be a trickier concept for younger kids to grasp is that the minigames also cost you Auro to play. If you pay 20 Auro as “ante” and then only earn 20 Auro with your performance, obviously you broke even. But if you quit a game in the middle, you’ll earn zero Auro and your total goes down.

Driving Kids has a social component too—you’ll encounter other players in the game world, and you can make friends with up to 50 of them. (No personal information is shared.) Players can chat with each other—Albymedia promises these chats are heavily moderated—and display cheerful emoticons above their avatars’ heads. A few multiplayer minigames are scattered around too, which you can only access if another Driving Kids user is there to play against you.
Read the full review at the link listed below.

Mac|Life: Driving Kids Review
Driving Kids
Alby Media

A Brief History Of Diablo
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Hellforge has published an article examining the history of Diablo, the first title in Blizzard Entertainment's popular action RPG franchise. The article, entitled The Great Wait for Diablo III: Series Origins, covers the game's beginnings and the gameplay foundations which made it a hit.

Diablo was never a complicated game. Originally intended to play as a very simple turn-based RPG during its development at Condor Studios (which would later become Blizzard North), Diablo evolved into what would become the first action RPG. One of Blizzard's and the gaming industry's greatest success stories with over 18.5 million copies of the franchise sold worldwide, Diablo was to eventually become a pivotal influence on many games since its release in early 1997.

The brainchild of David Brevik (who later left Blizzard for Flagship Studios), the gameplay of Diablo was heavily influenced by rogue-likes and dungeon crawlers alike, but the one key feature that would truly set it apart from all the rest would be its implementation of real-time combat. Only a minimal amount of player interaction was ever required-playing the game was a simply a matter of pointing and clicking and watching your character perform actions in real time. Though simple, the direct feedback would prove to be a draw. Each of the player's clicks felt purposeful and driven-the click of a mouse button was equivalent to the swing of an axe that cleaved a monster in twain. Visceral could only be one of many terms to describe the experience.

As an RPG, Diablo lacked in complexity, but its simplicity was also its greatest asset. Generally speaking, role-playing games aren't well known for their low barrier of entry. Burdened by pages upon pages of statistics and numbers, games that belonged to the genre prior to Diablo's popularity and subsequent influence were among the most inaccessible titles. Diablo was to be the paradigm shift in the development of the genre. It took the RPG back to its roots with the introduction of four very basic character stats that governed the rest of the character's strengths and weaknesses and built the rest of the game upon this strong, but basic foundation. Its successor and sequel would continue to build upon this foundation with the implementation of skills, customizable items and distinct character classes with unique looks and abilities, where previously the Diablo's classes were mere templates for a base character. of its writing, to lend the memory of playing it a sense of nostalgia.
Visit the site below to read more.

Hellforge: The Great Wait for Diablo III, Series Origins
Blizzard Entertainment

Click to enlarge
Discussing The Penumbra Series
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

A new interview with Frictional Games is now available at Strategy Informer. The Q&A focuses on the company's Penumbra horror series, indie game development, and what the company has planned for the future. Penumbra: Overture, Black Plague, and Requiem followed the horror laden tale of Philip and his quest to unravel the secrets of the past.

Strategy Informer: Some would argue that this is quite a low profile game, being developed by such a small, independent studio. Was the success of the game a surprise or did you always have an inkling that Penumbra would be something quite special?
Frictional Games: When we first released the tech demo we weren’t sure that this was something anyone would like and this was when it was still a school project, so we were really surprised when so many people liked it and so many people said it was good and so on. I’m still surprised that I can carry on making a living out of making our own game, but that I think was the most important thing, knowing enough people liked it that so it wasn’t such a surprise to know that we could sell the game!

Strategy Informer: What games would you credit with being an influence upon Penumbra?
Frictional Games: It’s hard to pinpoint any single game, but everything from text-based and interactive fiction games to newer survival horror games like Silent Hill and so on influenced us in the making of Penumbra.

Strategy Informer: And did you have any cinematic influences at all for Penumbra?
Frictional Games: I think Blair Witch Project is something that really comes to mind, not only in the ‘don’t show the monster’ thing that they have but also the whole low budget thing in that you can make something really cool with low production values. That’s a big inspiration not only style-wise, but also knowing that if they could do something that effective with such a small budget then we can do the same thing with our game.

Strategy Informer: There’s been mention of a new horror-based game that you’re making. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Frictional Games: It’s set in the 18th Century and it takes the player to this strange old castle where you have to explore all of these environments and learn certain stuff while doing so. It’s going to be more action-based (than Penumbra). It’s not going to be like running around shooting stuff but it’s still going to have this slower pacing and so on, but it is going to be more action-based. In Penumbra you had the stop-and-solve-a-puzzle moments then you’d move on, this time we want you to always be moving forward, make it more fluid and concentrate more on adventuring and exploring. When it comes to the whole 18th Century setting we want to have huge scenery, things like big cogwheels and stuff as opposed to the more computerised stuff like security cards and that kind of thing from Penumbra. In the new game we want to have more big things to move round and I think that will be more interesting for the physics. We’ve also made the physics a lot better, simpler and more intuitive when it comes to messing around with them.
The full interview can be read by following the link below.

Strategy Informer: Penumbra Interview
Frictional Games
Penumbra: Overture
Penumbra: Black Plague
Penumbra: Requiem

Laserface Jones Wins Big In uDevGames 2008 Contest
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

iDevGames has announced the winners of the uDevGames 2008 Contest. uDevGames is a Mac game development contest that requires teams to create a Mac game in just three months. Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious by Justin Ficarrotta was announced as the winner of Best Overall Game. Laserface also took the top spot in the categories of Gameplay, Graphics, Audio, and Presentation.

“I’m completely psyched. The last three months have been a rollercoaster, but uDevGames 2008 has been a really amazing experience. There’s something about the pressure of the deadline and tangling with scores of other talented developers that gets the brain juice flowing, and motivates me to create things that may otherwise have never existed. My career kicked off from uDevGames 2004, so it was a pleasure to be able to come back and compete again. Big thanks go out to Ben, Dan, Bruce and Steve who all provided awesome content for the game, Carlos and the uDevGames volunteers, fellow developers for making me sweat for it, and to all the friends, family and Mac gamers who played and voted for Laserface Jones, and spread the word!” said Justin Ficarrotta, winner of Best Overall Game of uDevGames

“With the success of the Apple iPhone and iTouch, there’s never been a better time to be a game developer for Apple’s platforms. This new found interest in gaming for Apple’s devices and computers, means that uDevGames is positioned to play a vital role in spotlighting tomorrow’s top game developers, as well as motivating our developer community to reach new heights in their programming and marketing skills. This year’s Best Overall Game, ‘Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious’ by Justin Ficarrotta, highlights the increadible talent that is within our community. Justin’s entry, along with past winners Turtle Turmoil, Kiki the Nanobot, Argonant 2149, and ShineBug, reinforces the mission of the uDevGames Contest — encourage the development of original Mac games while educating programmers on the pressures of the game publishing industry”, said Carlos Camacho, Editor-in-Chief, iDevGames.

Contest Results:
Best overall Game
1. Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious - Justin Ficarrotta
2. Constellation - Matthew Woods
3. uDeadGame - William Griffin

1. Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious - Justin Ficarrotta
2. Constellation - Matthew Woods
3. Maneuv'It - DGuy

1. Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious - Justin Ficarrotta
2. Surrounded By Death - Matt Hergaarden
3. ChasmBowling - Ben Mildren

1. Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious - Justin Ficarrotta
2. Maneuv'It - DGuy
3. ChasmBowling - Ben Mildren & Simoebic Dysentery - Joe Flores

1. Boston: Mouse in the Sewer - Lincoln Green
2. Gw0rp - Stephen Johnson
3. Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious - Justin Ficarrotta

1. Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious - Justin Ficarrotta
2. Constellation - Matthew Woods
3. Maneuv'It - DGuy

1. Simoebic Dysentery - Joe Flores
2. ChasmBowling - Ben Mildren
3. Gw0rp - Stephen Johnson
To learn more about the contest and the winning entries click over to the links below.

Laserface Jones vs Doomsday Odious

Click to enlarge
IMG Reviews Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest
6:00 AM | Marcus Albers | 2 comments

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the new strategy title from Ambrosia Software, Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest. From the developers that brought us Darwinia, Introversion Software, Multiwinia promises more stick-figure fun, but this time with other human opponents! Here's an excerpt from the review:

Rocket Riot is a combination of king of the hill, domination, and assault. You have to capture a number of points around the map to fuel your rocket, keep your rocket guarded so it doesn't get lit on fire, and mess up your opponents' rockets enough so that yours is the first to launch. It's actually quite enjoyable in a game with more than two players, as it has more than enough going on to require your full attention.
Follow the link below to read the full review.

IMG Review: Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest
Ambrosia Software
Introversion Software

Mac Games News for Monday, March 16, 2009

Blizzard Entertainment Global Writing Contest Unveiled6:00 AM
Kivi's Underworld Character Profiles Updated6:00 AM
Multiwinia: Survival Of The Flattest Reviewed6:00 AM
uDevGames 2008 Winners Announced6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, March 16, 2009 on one page

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