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Thursday, May 28, 2009

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StarCraft II: Q&A Round 51
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

The 51st Q&A focusing on answers to fan questions about StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Blizzard Entertainment's long awaited sequel to the original StarCraft, is now available. This time the Q&A includes a link to new death animations for units in the game. StarCraft II will return players to the story several years after the end of Brood War and will feature both a new single player campaign and a new multiplayer experience.

Chat with Devs: Between adding new unit models and sliming up the zerg buildings, the StarCraft II art team has also spent some time on some little details that make the game come alive, such as new unit death animations. Featured below, we have a protoss carrier being blown out of the sky by a squad of terran marines, as well as several zerg units falling to their fates.

2. StarCraft 2's terrain properties such as Xel'Naga towers, destroyable barriers and Brush have a significant effect on gameplay and appear to create specific points of interest/advantage on the map. Are there plans to introduce additional terrain buffs/effect to the battlefield?
The current terrain features are not finalized. We still have these three map features in the game and we plan to keep them during the beta, but it is always possible to add more features if we find something that’s balanced and encourages exciting game play.

6. StarCraft II is a package consisting of single player/campaign, multiplayer (+replay viewer), map editor and All four are complex and without a doubt require testing and patching. Has it been decided which of the above components are planned to be included in public beta testing?
You can have multiplayer game access through during the beta and you can watch the replays as well. There will also be access to the Map Editor during the beta process but not necessarily from the start. Single player campaign will not be included in the beta.
Visit the link below to read the entire Q&A.

StarCraft Forums: SC 2 Q&A Batch 51
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

Apple Games Features UP: The Video Game
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Apple Games' most recent feature article examines UP: The Video Game, the game adaptation of Pixar's latest film. The title will take players on an adventure with Carl Fredricksen and his young sidekick, Wilderness Explorer Russell, as they set off on a journey through the undiscovered jungles of South America. Players will be able to experience all four main characters from the movie.

Apple's article includes an exploration of the game's features with commentary from senior producer Brian Wiklem, a discussion of the voice talent behind the game's characters, a quick history of the career of Pixar's John Lasseter, and a list of the mini-games included in UP.

As gruff Carl slowly warms to energetic Russell, the two work together to navigate the harsh environment, fend off enemies, and keep each other safe from danger. That dynamic encompasses the movie and the game, as Wiklem explains: “The entire game is based on cooperation, rather than individual challenges that require only one character. Even in single-player mode, the player will have to switch characters so they can work together and achieve their goals.”

The Heavy Iron team also made sure the pair’s relationship came through whenever possible: “The characters need each other,” says Wiklem, “not just in the physical challenges, but emotionally as well. They have a ton of bantering back and forth in the game, some of it just in the nature of their personalities, with other bits in the same tone but disguised as hints and tips for players.”

Carl and Russell’s backgrounds also enabled Wiklem’s team to introduce tasks and challenges geared specifically toward the characters: Carl smashes spiders and collects his late wife’s mementos, which fell out of the house as it descended from the sky, while Russell catches rare bugs and completes the tasks that earn him more Wilderness Explorer badges. As both characters accomplish their goals, you’ll unlock cheat codes, bonus content, and video clips.

Our heroes’ possessions also play vital roles: Carl’s cane serves as a weapon and a tool, and he can use his hearing aid to stun enemies, while Russell’s mirror blinds opponents. In addition, they rely on other objects found along the way, including a magnifying glass and a pick axe, with Dug and Kevin providing specialized support at opportune moments. “Dug and Kevin appear just when players think they cannot go further, or a challenge seems impossible,” Wiklem says.
Read the full article at the webpage listed below.

Apple Games: UP The Video Game
UP: The Video Game

Vogel Discusses The Mechanics Of Addiction Based Game Design
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 5 comments

Jeff Vogel has released the twelfth installment of his View From The Bottom developer column. This time Spiderweb Software's RPG creator discusses the methods game developers use to tap into the addictive tendencies of players, and examines whether or not such addictive gameplay is truly evil.

The nice thing about actually defining this particular element of a design is that now, we can look for it in all sorts of games, not just MMORPGs. Lego Star Wars and other titles in that series are based almost entirely on heavy use of addiction-based design. Tower defense games use it too, rewarding you with stronger defenses in return for destroying nearly identical waves of attackers. They compress many iterations of the grind/reward cycle into one short play session.

Some of us still have hope for the genre as an art form, as something that can be really deep and fulfilling. For this to be possible, a game has to engage more than just one part of the mind.

To see the phenomenon reduced to its purest essence, be sure to download the free parody RPG Progress Quest. It plays itself, letting you watch the experience bar fill up. What's disturbing is how satisfying watching it can be.

On the other hand, some games lack addiction-based design completely. Consider Rock Band and Left 4 Dead, two where the play itself is the main reward. It's mostly unimportant whether any of your progress playing them is saved or not.

Addiction-based design is the sort of thing that can cause a knee-jerk negative response, but in fact, this sort of reinforcement has more of a place in good game design than you might think. The feeling of satisfaction we get from these sorts of rewards is real - peculiar, but real. It is a powerful tool, one we would be foolish to ignore.
Click over to the link below to read the full article.

View From The Bottom #12
Spiderweb Software

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FusionFall Giveaway
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Ten Ton Hammer and the Cartoon Network have announced the Ten Ton Hammer FusionFall Swag giveaway for fans of the network's child friendly MMO. Ten Ton Hammer account holders have the chance to win a variety of prizes such as t-shirts, hoodies, and clip-on charms.

Just as Cartoon Network is the one channel that children and parents can agree on when surfing with the remote, Cartoon Network's FusionFall is an awesome game for adults to share with young people. Hailed by Ten Ton Hammer's Danny "Ralsu" Gourley as "nothing short of a stroke of genius in the realm of family entertainment," FusionFall serves as the perfect gateway for big kids (that'd be you, parents) to share their love of MMOs with small kids (the little people who talk too much when mommy and daddy are playing their game).

To celebrate the way FusionFall brings the generations together in the online world, Ten Ton Hammer has joined forces with Cartoon Network to bring readers the Ten Ton Hammer FusionFall Swag Giveaway. Entrants will have a chance to win terrific prizes:

Adult FusionFall tees
Youth FusionFall hoodies
FusionFall Spawn Balls
Assorted character clip-on charms
Residents of the US or Canada with a valid Ten Ton Hammer account are eligible to enter the contest between May 24 and May 31, 2009. For more information follow the link below.

Ten Ton Hammer: FusionFall Swag Giveaway

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Youda Marina Released For Mac11:33 AM
City Of Heroes Architect Badges To Be Removed6:00 AM
Echoes Of War Music Compilation Re-Release Coming June 166:00 AM
Epic Games' Founder Tim Sweeney Interviewed6:00 AM
IMG Reviews Destination: Treasure Island6:00 AM
WoW: Updated Druid Forms Coming Soon6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 27, 2009 on one page

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