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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

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Frictional's Unknown: Screens, Trailer, Editing Tools
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

Frictional Games, developer of the Penumbra survival horror series, has unveiled a new trailer and a handful of screenshots for Unknown, its upcoming new horror title. In addition to the new media, Frictional has also announced work on editing tools that it plans to include in the game's final release. Unknown is set in the late 18th century and will take players "on a thrill-ride through the depths of madness and explore the dark side of human emotions."

Today we are releasing a first teaser of our upcoming survival horror game, "Unknown". The video gives a quick demonstration of the mood and style we are aiming for, as well as demonstrating the maturity of the in-house developed HPL2 game engine. We have expanded the engine to include tools for testing, creating and editing levels - all of which have been used to create the level in the teaser. The tools are used during the production of the game and are also going to be part of the final release, allowing for end-user content creation.
Unknown is currently in full production and is tentatively scheduled for an early Q2 2010 release. Click over to the links below to learn more about the game.

Next Frictional Game Website
Frictional Games
Unknown Trailer
Unknown Screenshots

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Diablo III: Features Of The New User Interface
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

In a recent post on Blizzard Entertainment's forums Diablo III community manager Bashiok discussed some of the features planned for the upcoming action RPG's user interface. Among other things the new UI will attempt to automatically map new skills and abilities to a logical hotkey or mouse click.

From Blizzplanet:

Bashiok: In Diablo III youíll have seven places which skills can be placed. Four on the hot bar, one for the left mouse button, and two for the right mouse button. The two for the right mouse button can be swapped back and forth using Tab or the scroll wheel.

Currently any of your skills can be placed into any of these seven skill spots. The game tries to help you out with their placement though. When you train a new skill it will attempt to intelligently place it for you. So if itís - for instance - a buff or non-targeted aoe ability (witch doctor Horrify, barbarian Ground Stomp, etc.) itís going to put it into your hot bar as itís not something you use through a mouse-targeted enemy attack. For abilities that are used by clicking on an enemy (wizard Magic Missile, etc.), the game will attempt to intelligently place them on your mouse buttons for you. So after learning a new skill itís already on your bar ready to be used, and itís placed somewhere that makes sense to how itís used.

But just because it attempts to help you out by placing skills where they make the most sense, you can put them anywhere you like. If you want to have Magic Missile cast by pressing the first hot bar key (the 1 key on your keyboard), you can, and it will cast toward wherever your cursor is. You can do this with any of the abilities.

The system automatically places skills where they make the most sense, but allows you to customize however you please. Itís a nice wide open, play how you want to play approach, while still offering a helpful guide in the beginning. Also I think it will help, or possibly just not impede, class build diversification.
Head over to the link below to read more.

Blizzplanet: Diablo III User Interface
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
Buy Diablo III

Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel Interviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

RPG Codex recently published the results of an interview with Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel. The 25 question interview touches on a variety of topics including his game design philosophy, upcoming additions in Avernum 6, and whether or not RPGs are a good environment for showcasing in-depth tactical combat.

5. How about Avernum 6? What changes are in the pipeline for this one? Will character creation see any changes?

The game engine will be much the same. Character Creation wonít change much. If it did, it wouldnít be Avernum. Iíd get a lot of angry E-mails.

Much of the work for Avernum 6 has gone into the graphics engine. It will be the nicest looking Avernum game by far. And, of course the story. Avernum 6 has a really cool and detailed story. About the end of Avernum.

6. One gripe of many Spiderweb fans is that combat doesnít offer enough in the way of interesting tactical choices for non-spellcasters. Battle Disciplines in Avernum 5 partially addressed this. What other changes (if any) are in store for the combat system?

I get a lot of suggestions for how to add ďdepthĒ to the battle system. Most of them, frankly, arenít very good. Stuff like, ďOh, I see the monster is using a power attack. Iíd better press the Block Power Attack button. There. Done.Ē

Itís a turn-based game with small-scale combat. To be honest, there is only so much tactical depth youíre going to get. And, heck, please point me to an RPG that has rich and varied tactical combat, because Iíd sure like to play it.

As RPGs go, I think the Avernum games have a really good variety of challenging fights and tactical situations. But if you want lots of tactical choices, single-player RPGs, any of them, are really not where you should be going. That isnít what the genre is about. And, if I had big, epic, chesslike battles where you had to think about your battle plan until sweat poured down your face, a huge portion of my fans wouldnít like that. At all.

...Look, in a turn-based RPG, with a small number of dudes fighting a small number of dudes, there isnít much in the way of tactics that is possible. The math isnít there! I think youíre wanting something closer to chess. Sure, chess is complex, but thatís sixteen pieces on sixteen. For a single-player RPG, the fun is in the story (on a high level) and the stat building and lewt finding (on a low level). The combat is a means to an end. So make it fast and lively, end it, and get on to the next fast, lively combat. I do put in fights with odd tactics, generally weird or boss encounters. Itís nice variety. But combat is still the means to an end.

If you really want tactics in an RPG, play chess and give your pieces cute names. Like, ďI declare, forsooth, that Queen Zzelma, my 18th level Rogue-Paladin, doth move 4 spaces diagonally in defiance of the Darkbeetle Empire. Hark, she hath slain a Knight, and is thuseth Level 19. Huzzah.Ē Chess is about quality. RPGs are about quantity.

The whole structure and pace of RPGs is based on having many small fights, occasionally interrupted by a big one. Everything people like about the genre comes, in some way, from that. And small quick fights can't have strategic depth. Because they are, after all, small and quick. Prospective designers ignore this at their peril.

Read the full Q&A at the page listed below.

RPG Codex: Jeff Vogel Interview
Spiderweb Software

The Sims 3 Hands-On Preview
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

GameSpot has posted a new preview of The Sims 3, the upcoming continuation of the successful Sims franchise. The game will add new twists to the popular life sim formula with customizable personalities, goal oriented gameplay, movie creation and editing, and an online community. GameSpot's article details the experience of playing a current build of the game.

Once we bought our house and moved in, we set about the task of getting into the music-career track by picking up the newspaper and looking for a job. Fortunately for us, the music-career track was one of the first careers available in the newspaper, and we signed up for a five-day-a-week shift that started the following day. We were all psyched up to use the game's new-and-improved job system, which lets you choose your daily work demeanor each time you hop into the carpool to head out to the office, such as "work a normal day," "work extremely hard," and "slack off." We were especially excited about that final option, because, well, you know.

However, we'd spent most of our sim's money on purchasing a fully furnished house and didn't have enough funds to buy a high-end electric guitar to practice our creativity skill at home, so we knew we'd have to dig down deep to get the scratch for it. We took a deep breath, cracked our knuckles, and typed in the cheat code to get additional simoleans for free about four or five times, and then used the money to buy a new guitar, as well as a computer, and a telescope, which popped up on our sim's ongoing wish list. In The Sims 3, your sims will periodically have minor wishes appear in their wish window in the lower left-hand side of the screen, and left-clicking each wish to "promise" it to your sim will make it an ongoing goal that, if accomplished, will put your sim on the long-term road to personal fulfillment. It will also put your sim in a near-term nirvana state of a positive "moodlet"--the minor emotional bonuses and penalties that sims will experience as a result of their actions and their surroundings.
Visit the site below to read the full preview.

GameSpot: The Sims 3 Hands-On Preview
Electronic Arts
The Sims 3
Buy The Sims 3

Mac Games News for Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IMG Reviews Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble6:56 AM
BlizzCast Eight Now Available6:00 AM
Kivi's Underworld: New Monsters Revealed6:00 AM
Midnight Mansion Updated6:00 AM
Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel Discusses Game Piracy6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, March 31, 2009 on one page

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