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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Apple Games Features Shaun White Snowboarding
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Apple Games has taken to the slopes with a new article about the recently released Mac version of Shaun White Snowboarding. The game, developed in collaboration with Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, allows players to experience a variety of snowboarding action. Apple's article includes an overview of the gameplay and a short bio of Shaun White.

Each of the game’s mountains is an open-ended environment that you can explore any way you want: master tricks, take on challenges and competitions, and discover secret areas. Take chair lifts, or a helicopter, to reach each mountain’s peak and tackle the death-defying conditions there, or compete with other riders in the terrain parks. You can even take off your snowboard and hike into the back country, where you’re free to carve your own trails.

Just as Shaun captured one of your ignominious moments, you can film your exploits, edit the footage with the game’s built-in tools, and upload the clips for sharing with others. You can also take your snowboarding online and rocket down mountainsides with others or invite them to multiplayer-only game modes, such as rat race — in which everyone gets to create their own route to the finish line — or betting challenge, where you put up some of your hard-earned cash and see who’s faster at time-based tricks.

You also accumulate money during single-player action — all of your earnings go toward not just new accessories, such as clothes and backpacks, but also new snowboards that are perfect for specific situations. For example, racing requires a board with the right length and friction for maximum speed, but you’ll want a board with perfect amplitude (flex and pop) for getting plenty of height and hang time during tricks.
Read the full article at the link listed below.

Apple Games: Shaun White Snowboarding
Shaun White Snowboarding
Buy Shaun White Snowboarding

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IMG Reviews Be a King!
7:44 AM | Marcus Albers | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the medieval simulation Be a King! from Rake in Grass. As head of the kingdom, it is your job to make sure that everything is up and running as it should be. Here's an excerpt from the review:

Enter a village and you're in the heart of the game. The scale suddenly gets much smaller—in fact, it's just slightly larger than the village you're in. There are typically a few "starter" buildings scattered around, and the rest of the space is filled with scattered bare spots that indicate predetermined locations for additional buildings. Part of the strategy in this game—OK, about 90% of the game, really, is figuring out which buildings to put in the limited spaces you have, in order to meet the goals of each scenario. The buildings fall into four categories: dwellings, food-producing, defensive, and support. Support buildings are in effect another type of upgrade to the other three—they increase population limits, boost food production efficiency and so on. Your advisor, a rather high-strung, elderly gentleman, will tell you what you need to accomplish in order to meet your kingly goals for that round. He'll also apprise you if you are not meeting the fundamental human needs of your subjects: "Your peasants have no food! Build more farms!" etc.
Follow the link below to read the full review.

IMG Review: Be a King!
Be a King!
Rake in Grass
Buy Be a King!

Platinum Arts Sandbox 3D Game Maker RPG Released
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Platinum Arts has announced that the first episode of The Exciting Adventures Of Master Chef Ogro Fruits And Vegetables Extraordinaire has been released. The game was created by high school students using the Platinum Arts Sandbox RPG a branch off of the main version of the open source free 3D Game Maker.  The game features magic and monsters to encounter on its multiple levels.

The majority of the content was created by High School students and it has already been accepted at a College festival and competition.  The RPG features produce magic and monsters and many levels to explore.  The project has been kept kid friendly with mild animated combat which features monsters becoming "full" and unable to attack. The RPG contains many new powerful features, including the ability to easily add and tweak NPCs, monsters, spells, etc.  Though kid friendly, without much effort the RPG could be used to create a non kid friendly game.

The main version of sandbox is getting a ton of awesome updates!  It has been reported that Sandbox runs even faster now, and there are tons of new features coming up, including a map with a working train!  Check out the screenshot in the custom content section!  A new release is expected in 1-2 months.
For more information about the game and the Sandbox follow the links below.

Sandbox Game Maker
Platinum Arts

Majesty 2 Previewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Wargamer has posted a new preview of Majesty 2, the sequel to Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, a unique melding of sim and strategy mechanics. M2 will feature a 16 mission campaign, several quick missions, and the chance to play with up to 4 others on a variety of multiplayer maps.

From the preview:

What's there is good, though. And what is there? Much of what I remember (dimly) from the original game has been faithfully reproduced in the alpha. Players can establish guilds for different classes of heroes (mages, clerics, warriors, rogues, and rangers), sell potions at the market and weapons at the armory, and drop flags which offer rewards for exploration, destruction, protection, etc. The elves and dwarves of Majesty are here too, but their buildings were buggy; whenever I tried to hire anyone the game would crash. Such is to be expected from a game still in development, I’m just sorry I couldn’t play test these features. It's also possible to worship the gods by constructing temples, which grant the player bonuses from one deity but enrage others. The enemies your heroes square off against run the gamut from harmless rats that spawn from sewer grates (another carry-over from the original game) to giant fire-breathing dragons who, when the die, convulse wildly and collapse in a gout of flame.

The graphics (which, for gamers used to splashy graphics might represent the biggest obstacle to enjoying the original Majesty) are very sharp and appropriately fantastical. Spell effects and animations are particularly dazzling. Everything is rendered in 3D but the engine didn't seem to be very taxing, even at this early, unoptimized stage. My modest rig handled even the largest skirmishes (with a dozen or so units on each side) with ease. Majesty 2 also continues the recent trend of strategy games implementing physics. In this game it makes a bit more sense than in others, since watching individual units square off is a large part of the fun, and seeing buildings fracture and beasts tumble to the ground up-close adds to the experience in meaningful ways. That said, physics engine doesn’t appear to be quite finished either. Trees, when toppled, have a tendency to bounce like basketballs. And archers' arrows bend their trajectories to follow enemies.
Visit the page below to read the entire preview article.

Wargamer: Majesty 2 Preview
Majesty 2
Virtual Programming

Vogel's Discussion Of Underpricing Indie Games Continues
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

On his blog, The Bottom Feeder, Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel continues his discussion of the pricing of independent games, specifically addressing the drawbacks of downward spiraling prices. In the second part of the discussion Vogel refutes the common reasons customers feel lower prices would be better and offers his solution to the problem.

"If You Charged Less, You Would Sell More Copies"
This is true. The problem is that I won't sell enough more to justify the lower prices.
Microeconomics tells us that as we charge less, we sell more, but we make less per sale. At some point, there is a best price, a point where (number of sales) * (profit per sale) is at its maximum. The question is, where is it? Based on my experiences shifting prices up and down, I think I'm actually at the sweet spot.
Suppose I charged a World Of Goo price, like $15. This would roughly halve my profit per sale. (Because of the way credit card fees work, the less I charge per sale, the smaller percentage of profits I make.) To make up for this cut, I would have to double my sales. Double! That is a huge increase! Doubling would be big!
Based on data I've received from distributors, I believe that about 3% of my downloads turn into sales (this is called the Conversion Rate). To make up for the price cut, I would have to increase my conversion rate to 6%. This is a HUGE rate, pretty much impossible to get for a niche product like mine. If I had a more casual-friendly product, I might manage it, but that's not my niche. I have to set a price to reflect the nature of my niche.

"I Can Buy Better Old Games At the Game Store For Far Less"
This is, honestly, a pretty hard charge to answer. When someone says, "Why should I get your game when I can get Baldur's Gate 2 for $10?" what I think is, "Dude, you haven't played Baldur's Gate 2 yet? Go get it! It's awesome! And you know something? In a few weeks, when you're done with it, I'll still be here."
I can't compete on price with old classic. Nobody can. To expect me (or anyone) to match price with a handful of old games is completely ridiculous. Can't happen.
But my games have an advantage. They're new. Go ahead and play the old classics, or at least the ones you haven't played already. Go play Fallout or Planescape: Torment. They're SWEET.
You'll be done soon enough. And, when you are, I'll still be here.
Head over to the link below to read the rest.

The Bottom Feeder: Indie Games Should Cost More, Pt. 2
Spiderweb Software

Mac Games News for Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mac Games Arcade 1.1 Released, Offers Free Game11:23 AM
Fallout Retrospective Features Developer Commentary6:00 AM
Geneforge 3 Goes Universal, Adds 32-bit Color6:00 AM
Savage 2: A Tortured Soul 2.0.0 Patch Released6:00 AM
World Of Warcraft 3.1.1 Update Now Available6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, April 22, 2009 on one page

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