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Friday, May 1, 2009

The Sims 3 Online Feature Set Detailed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Electronic Arts has released new information about online features for The Sim 3. Among the new features are SimPoints: currency used for downloading exclusive in-game content, The Game Launcher: a player hub offering a variety of game related information, and a completely redesigned Sims 3 website. The upcoming continuation of the popular life sim will also add new twists to the formula with customizable personalities, goal oriented gameplay, and movie creation.

Key Online Elements Include:
• Included with purchase of the game is $10 worth of SimPoints, which players receive when they first register their game online at They can use their SimPoints towards downloading exclusive in-game items from The Sims 3 Store to customize their game. For additional items, players can purchase bundles of 500, 1000 and 2000 SimPoints in $USD, EUR, GBP and other major international currencies using a variety of payment methods including international and national credit cards, PayPal, and EA cash cards (in North America only). Whether it’s the must-have new outfit or the latest style of plaid furniture, players have the opportunity to further customize and populate their Sims world with additional items.
• The Game Launcher is the key entry point for players into community. This hub page connects players to both the Store and the Exchange, and provides them with news and information about game updates. Players can keep track of their downloads, uploads, installs, game updates and their media portfolio that includes the videos and photos they can capture while playing the game. The Game Launcher also alerts players to new content in the store, localized game and store promotions along with relevant updates to the Store and cool new content from the community.
• With the launch of the game on June 2, The Sims 3 website will be replaced with the full community and product site for the game. The site will not only connect players, encourage new ways to be creative in the game, and offer personally relevant information for each user, it also will serve as the hub site where players can share their content with other members, and embed them on social networking sites and blogs.

Key Site Features:
• The Exchange: Building off of The Sims 2 Exchange’s success of more than 100M downloads, The Sims 3 Exchange highlights featured items, most popular downloads, powerful search and browse capabilities, along with giving players the ability to see what other players are recommending.
• Create a Movie and Create a Story: New easily accessible tools inspire creativity and allow players to create movies and stories and then show them off or share them with friends. Players can show off their Movies with the Create a Movie Tool by embedding them on external sites or with an email link back to their Movie on
• My Page and My Studio: The Sims 3 product site will allow players to maintain their profile pages on their My Page section as well as offering them the new My Studio section to manage all their creations – Movies, Stories, Exchange objects. My Page is also a blog space where players can post news, customize it with a personal avatar, track favorites and more. Users can make friends with other The Sims 3 players and share their content across a number of social network sites.
Head over to the links below for more information.

Worthplaying: The Sims 3 Online Features
Electronic Arts
The Sims 3
Buy The Sims 3

Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 May Be Coming To Macs
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 4 comments

Engadget recently reported that Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285 graphics card will be available for Mac Pro owners in June. The card features 240 processor cores, a 648MHz graphics clock and 1,476MHz processor clock, and can manage a texture fill rate of 51.8 billion per second. The standard configuration of the card comes with 1GB of GDDR3 and two Dual-Link DVI connectors. As of yet Apple has not officially confirmed Engadget's report.

From Macworld:

Benchmarks from PC performance sites show that the GeForce GTX 285 significantly outperforms other graphics cards like those available in the Mac Pro, including the ATI Radeon HD 4870 — the current high-water mark for Mac Pro graphics performance, available as either a $200 configure-to-order option for new Mac Pros or as a $349 add-on for existing systems. Indeed, the GTX 285 seems to match or perform slightly better that the 4870 X2 — a two-GPU variant of that ATI card.

Neither Nvidia nor EVGA, a graphics card maker whose logo appears emblazoned on the image in Engadget’s story, would confirm the news when contacted by Macworld. But the release of such a card in June is plausible given the timing: Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) runs from June 8 - 12, 2009.

What’s more, Apple is expected to release Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” at about the same time. The new operating system will feature support for OpenCL, which leverages the parallel processing capabilities of modern GPUs to speed up computational work for applications beyond games and other graphics-oriented software. OpenCL is expected to gain traction in science and engineering, biotechnology and other markets.

This marks the second time in two weeks that Nvidia’s been in the Mac news — the company recently announced plans to release a Mac version of its Quadro FX 4800 graphics card — it’s a high-end workstation-class card intended for engineering, 3D visualization, medical science and more. By comparison, the GeForce GTX 285 is consumer-oriented and lacks a 3D stereoscopy interface.
To read more click over to the links provided below.

Macworld: Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 Mac-Bound
Engadget: GeForce GTX For Mac Pros In June

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Introversion's Disastrous Year
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Introversion Software's Chris Delay has revealed in a series of posts on the company's forums that 2008 was a disastrous year for the company, nearly resulting in closing its doors forever. Trouble with the XBOX 360 version of Darwinia, production delays, Multiwinia's low sales, and a slumping world economy were some of the factors creating difficulty for the independent developer.

The first major problem was Microsoft. I want to be clear that in hindsight, we believe Microsoft were absolutely correct in the calls they made, and we were wrong. But at the time, oh my god they were pissing us off. We’d done a massive treatment of the in-game menus for Darwinia and Multiwinia, and the end result is exactly what you see in the PC/Mac versions of Multiwinia now. We were very happy with that and considered the game ready to go through their certification process, but Microsoft did not agree. They requested we go into an extensive period of redesign and polish on the game, covering everything from the menus to the squaddie control method in Darwinia, to the game modes in Multiwinia. It was the first time a massive company had effectively told Introversion what to do, and we didn’t like that at all. It was also months of work, and the concept of open-ended polish and iteration with a company several orders of magnitude larger than our own didn’t hugely appeal. We finally resolved this situation in the only way we could – we separated the PC and Xbox versions of the game, pushed ahead with a PC only version of Multiwinia, and put the Xbox project on a back burner.

...Another massive redesign followed. Ultimately we solved the interface problems (and Multiwinia) was made immeasurably better because of it. To be clear, we are hugely grateful to those guys at PC Gamer for being so honest with us. We told all the journalists to hold off on reviewing the game, and that we’d supply a new build a month later than planned. Vicky Arundel was clearly annoyed by this – she’d done an amazing job at arranging big online reviews in exchange for great coverage, and now we were ruining that plan. In addition, print magazines need months of lead-time before your review is published. So we were effectively ensuring that the print reviews would all be coming out at least a whole month late after the game launched. On top of this, our first ever Magazine Cover featuring a massive Red Darwinian (carefully arranged by Vic) fell through, and another print mag told us they weren’t interested in reviewing the game.

The game finally shipped on PC (on sale on our website, on Steam, and in the UK high-street through Pinnacle) and we celebrated with a launch party at our house. Tom had always fantasised about building a sales counter that would sit in the corner of the office and tick up whenever we sold a copy of a game. This time around he actually did it, building the device out of second hand parts bought from Ebay and writing custom driver software for it that linked directly to our Multiwinia sales counter. During our launch party dinner and celebrations that evening, what was truly amazing about this counter was how little it was actually going up. I’m not kidding when I say that we actually checked the connections and the software several times to make sure it was actually working, only to find out it was. Even then that very night we knew it was bad, that our whole future was in doubt.

Darwinia+ (for XBO 360) still needs all my attention and Darwinia+ is the only project that can see us through right now – but I can see the route forward this year. One person is currently working fulltime on Subversion (not me - but i'm saving that story for the next Subversion blog), Gary will be starting a day or two a week on it soon, i'll be getting back onto it soon as well, and Leander will be following after Darwinia+ is done. Assuming Darwinia+ does ok there will be be four people working on Subversion including myself, and there will be a momentum behind it such that it can't be stopped again. This is not a situation we would ever deliberately put ourselves in – all eggs in one Microsoft shaped basket, but that’s where we are, and for the first time in a long while, I’m feeling confident.
Check out the links below to learn more about Introversion's woes.

Introversion Blog: 2008 In Hindsight
Ambrosia Software
Introversion Software

Spore Galactic Adventures Previewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

IGN has published a new preview of Spore Galactic Adventures. The expansion for Will Wright's evolution sim will offer the ability to beam down to planets, an equipment editor, and an Adventure Creator that will allow players to create their own missions and share them with others.

The Algernon Empire, for example, had spotted a Grox drone ship on one of their planets, and they needed help to repulse the invaders before the Grox Infestation assimilates the planet. Zip over to the planet, beam down to the surface, and you'll find yourself in the middle of a raging battle between Grox and Algernon soldiers. You'll definitely need some kind of weapons and armor to survive, but there are regenerating power ups around that boost your health and energy (the latter is used to power your weapons and equipment, like jump packs.) Now this might make Galactic Adventures seem like some kind of hardcore action game, but rest assured that everything still has that Spore look and feel; this isn't some kind of twitch-kind of shooter experience. Instead, it's colorful and exaggerated and forgiving, even if you have slower reflexes. You do need to move and fire, but you don't need to have the reaction times of a 13-year old.

The emphasis is on having fun. Complete a mission and you get some funky electronic disco music and your space captain strikes a pose. Then you get graded for the mission, which is important since you'll be able to compare your scores against others. You also gain experience and can unlock new items, whether it's weapons, equipment, or armor. Yet there's a lot more to Adventures than simply battles. There are puzzles to solve, aliens to talk to or races to be won. There's a lot of variety now, in addition to the regular space stage missions, so the space stage is full of different things to do.

You don't need to play the space stage to experience adventures, either. You can simply load up any adventure, whether it is Maxis made, self-made, or downloaded from the community. The first time you create a captain the game loads up Adventure Town, which introduces you to the basics of being a space captain. Adventure Town is sort of a zany place; there are really happy space bunnies doing happy dances everywhere (with some funky techno music in the background), shooting confetti, and welcoming your arrival. The mayor greets with you a couple of alien babes at his flanks, and explains how you can interact with various citizens to get quests. It's just like an MMORPG in some ways; just look for the person with an exclamation point over their heads and talk to them.
Visit the page below to read the full preview.

IGN: Spore Galactic Adventures Preview
Electronic Arts
Buy Spore

Mac Games News for Thursday, April 30, 2009

City Of Heroes Five Year Anniversary Discussed6:00 AM
Heal The Land In Prince Of Persia6:00 AM
IMG Reviews Tribal Trouble 26:00 AM
Spiderweb: Fear Of Change, Facebook Page6:00 AM
World Of Goo Reviewed6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, April 30, 2009 on one page

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