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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Apple Games Features The Sims 3
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Apple Games' latest feature article examines The Sims 3, the recently released continuation of the popular life sim series. The game adds customizable personalities, goal oriented gameplay, movie creation and editing, and an online community. Apple's article includes commentary from lead designer Ben Bell, a list of the new features in the game, tips and tricks for success, and an explanation of why the game is considered a prequel to the original Sims.

Bell’s team also overhauled what was happening below the surface by developing moodlets that represent a Sim’s long- and short-term moods, exploring the “nature vs. nurture” aspect of genetic traits, and giving the digital characters new artificial intelligence (AI). In a departure from previous games, each adult Sim has five personality traits, along with a lifetime wish, all of which drives their behavior. (Similar factors influence the characters found in The Sims 3 for iPhone/iPod touch.)

At that moment, a good example of those three concepts enters the park: the Alto family, which is currently locked in a struggle with the Landgraab and Goth families for control of Sunset Valley. Nick Alto, the father, wishes to become Leader of the Free World in his lifetime and counts evil desires and hot-headedness among his personality traits. He has to start somewhere, so he’s participating in the upcoming Sunset Valley mayoral election — he’s in the park glad-handing potential supporters. Unfortunately, his tendency to be a slob and engage in inappropriate behavior turns off more than a few people, which ignites his temper.
Click over to the link below to read the rest of the article.

Apple Games: The Sims 3
Electronic Arts
The Sims 3
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Diablo III: Rune Swapping
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. This time the discussion focused on runes and the ease of removing them from items and replacing them with others.

The intent isn’t for runes to be hot-swappable or interchangeable at any time. The ability to change the rune is the point of any comments made about switching them around, not that we want to allow easy and free interchangeable runes. What we do intend is for people to be able to try different runes without fear of losing the rune, or permanently changing the way a skill works.

Early design thoughts on rune swapping are that there would be some sort of cost to remove them so a new one could be put in its place. Early in the character’s life it would be inexpensive enough so it isn’t prohibitive, as we want to encourage experimentation, but later on the cost would become more substantial.

In addition, the high end runes are intended to be very rare. So while you’re looking for them we want you to be able to use the runes you have without fear of losing them or using them incorrectly. Being able to experiment with different runes along the way to creating your perfect character is more fun, and potentially enlightening to the different ways your character can be used.
Head over to the Blizzplanet page linked below to read more.

Blizzplanet: Diablo III Rune Swapping Info
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
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Wandering Willows Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

GamersInfo has posted a new review of Wandering Willows, a casual RPG from PlayFirst. In the game players take the role of a baloonist stranded on an island filled with colorful characters and creatures. Repairing the balloon and returning home requires making friends with the inhabitants of the island. GamersInfo described Wandering Willows as "cute, quirky, and surprisingly long for a casual game."

From the review:

The controls are straightforward. Point and click to direct your character (and/or your little animal buddy) around the island. You can either move about freely on the main screen or select a faraway part of the island to travel to with the help of a small world map. If you select a person or place on the world map, your character automatically walks from where you are currently to the selected spot, unless you see something or someone you would like to interact with instead.

You get to find and collect a wide variety foods, natural materials, sewing supplies, flowers, recipes, critters and much, much more. You spend your time exploring, gathering, growing, sewing, cooking and even soldering. In order to sew a costume, you first need to find a pattern, gather the required materials (by growing cotton, gathering dye, saving some money and purchasing thread), then you actually get to make the desired item. The process is similar for recipes and floral arrangements. When you are out and about gathering items, you and your little animal companion come across other animals. There are all kinds of creatures that you can charm to drop items. If you are lucky, they drop an egg that you can use to hatch a controllable companion animal. Each animal has different attributes — some are great at climbing trees, while others are better off digging or charming other animals. Luckily you can train any of them to improve their skills and equip them with items that boost their attributes. For those of you who are achievement happy, you can earn medals for things like finding every recipe in the game, or collecting one of each and every animal species.
Read the full review at the link listed below. Wandering Willows Review
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Gamer Psychology: Collecting Items And Achievements
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

Gamasutra has published a new article on the psychological motivations behind the quest to collect items and achievements in computer and video games. The article includes commentary from doctors who have studied gamer psychology, and examines the possible correlation between hoarding in games and obsessive compulsiveness in the real world.

Item collection has been a staple of video games since Pac-Man swallowed his first cherry. Since then, we’ve collected stars, coins, rings, nuts, bolts, packages, armor, weapons, Achievements and so on. Games like Call of Duty 4 take exploration out of the collection equation, and use experience points and graphs to indicate how close we are to obtaining that next weapon or Perk.

All of this “stuff” is tied to the player, whether it’s a high score with your initials beside it, your Gamertag with its high gamerscore, your PlayStation 3 Trophy Room, your save file that says you recruited all 108 Suikoden characters, or your World of Warcraft or CoD4 account that’s filled with the best weapons and items. Such accomplishments, as frivolous and intangible as they may seem to outsiders, are meaningful to gamers.

One of the aspects of gaming today that most obviously appeals to our inner hoarder are Achievements. We joke around that video game “Achievements” are a misnomer, because what is it exactly that you’re achieving, other than sitting on your ass all day trying to kill 100,000 Locusts in Gears of War 2?

In collecting these digital gems, are we just filling ourselves with an empty sense of accomplishment when, in fact, we’ve accomplished nothing? Not necessarily, says Dr. Cheryl K. Olson, co-director at the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, and author of the 2007 book, Grand Theft Childhood.

“People work for intangible rewards all the time,” she says. “Money and love, for example. A paycheck may seem ‘solid,’ but it represents an abstraction. And what’s more abstract than earning an ‘A’ in philosophy?... Small things can be quite rewarding. A smile from a cute girl may be a small thing, but it can make a teenage boy’s week.”
Visit the page linked below to read the full article.

Gamasutra: The Psychology Behind Item Collecting And Achievement Hoarding

Mac Games News for Tuesday, June 2, 2009

IMG Reviews Fix-it-up: Kate's Adventure7:44 AM
Eschalon: Book I Reviewed6:00 AM
StarCraft II: 2009 Release Planned6:00 AM
Tellini Releases 3Doku 1.46:00 AM
The Sims 3 Available Today6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, June 2, 2009 on one page

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