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Friday, July 10, 2009

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Avernum 6: New Web Page, Screenshots
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 10 comments

Spiderweb Software has unveiled a new webpage for Avernum 6, the upcoming sixth and final installment in the long running fantasy RPG series. Spiderweb promises that the game will wrap up loose plot threads from previous games and reveal the final fate of the underground realm and its popular characters.

Avernum is a world underground. It is a nation of people living in an enormous warren of tunnels and caverns, far below the surface of the world. Once a prison colony for rebels and thugs, it is now a wild frontier, full of adventurous souls looking for wealth, fame, and magical power. Avernum's sole link to the surface world: a single magical portal, small and difficult to maintain.

And then the Blight came. Almost overnight, the mushrooms Avernum needed to feed itself withered and died. Then the denizens of the low tunnels, the savage, reptilian Slithzerikai, emerged. Sensing weakness, they struck, destroying much of a weakened Avernum and creating waves of hungry, desperate refugees. Now chaos and hunger stalk this land, and none seem to be able to find a solution or a way to stop the Slith Horde.

In the midst of all of this chaos, you joined the army. You had a good, simple reason: Soldiers get food. And yet, through a run of good (or bad) fortune, you find that you have a chance to discover and confront Avernum's enemies. The nation of Avernum is rapidly approaching its final destiny, and you will be at the center of events. Can you save your homeland? And, if Avernum survives, what will become of it?

As you wander the gigantic world of Avernum, you will experience:
• An enormous world. Hundreds of quests, dozens of dungeons and enemy fortresses, and multitudes of characters.
• A fascinating storyline, full of surprises, treachery, and epic battles.
• Many unique encounters. Not just mindless hack and slash. Many unusual enemies that will require clever tactics to defeat.
• Rich game system with over 50 spells and battle disciplines, many character building options, and powerful secret skills to unlock.
• Unique game world. Unique races and settings make Avernum different from any RPG out there.
• Experience with previous Avernum games is completely unnecessary to enjoy Avernum 6.

• Macintosh running System 10.3.9 or later.
• 800 MhZ processor. Minimum 1.6 GhZ processor recommended.
• Video card or processor with OpenGL support and 32 MB video RAM (64 MB recommended).
• 512 MB RAM.
• 200 MB hard disk space.
• 1024x600 screen resolution with 32 bit color.
• Avernum 6 will run natively on Intel Macintoshes.
Avernum 6 is scheduled to be release this winter. Visit the page below to read more about the game and view a collection of screenshots.

Spiderweb Software
Avernum 6

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Eschalon Book I: Platinum Edition Possible After Book III
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

A recent developer post on the official Basilisk Games forums revealed that the original Eschalon: Book I might someday be re-released as a Platinum Edition with added dungeons, enhancements, and game improvements. Such a title would not see release until after the successful completion of the Eschalon trilogy with the debut of Book III.

I don't want to jump too far ahead of our plans, but we've tossed around the idea of re-releasing Book 1 as a "Platinum Edition" complete with a few more dungeons, a few game enhancements, and of course any lingering bugs fixed. This would not happen until after we wrap up work on Book 3, so we're talking probably a few years from now. The reasoning behind this is that it is likely Book 1 may not function properly on future versions of Windows, MacOS or Linux. Patching old software can only go so some point, we'll need to rework the original code to function on current (future) systems.

All this hinges on how successful Book 2 is, and then of course Book 3. If we make it that far and fans want to see an "Updated Enhanced Edition" of Book 1, we'll be happy to do it.
For more information about Basilisk Games, and progress updates on the upcoming Eschalon: Book II, follow the links below.

Basilisk Games Forums: Book I Platinum Edition Possible
Basilisk Games
Eschalon: Book I
Buy Eschalon: Book I

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New Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince Trailer, Featurette
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 7 comments

Apple recently posted a new trailer and featurette for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The videogame gives players the chance to return to Hogwarts and help Harry and his friends survive their sixth year at the magical school. The game features the ability to cast spells and move at the same time, the chance to take to the air in Quidditch matches, and the challenge of creating a variety of magical potions.

In the game of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, players return to Hogwarts™ – reproduced from movie blueprints in exacting detail - to help Harry survive a fraught sixth year. Players will be able to master gesture-based spell-casting as they explore the Hogwarts school grounds, from the heights of the Astronomy Tower to Professor Slughorn’s Potions classroom in the depths of the dungeons and iconic locations in between such as the Gryffindor™ common room and the Great Hall.

For the first time players can move and cast spells simultaneously, creating intense and fast-paced wizard duels as the champions from each house line up to challenge the Boy Who Lived. Players can also chase down the Golden Snitch™ as they take to the air as the Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch™ team. In addition to spell-casting and flying, players can put their potion-mixing skills to the test when they learn how to mix and brew magical ingredients in Potions class. Players may even get sidetracked by Ron’s romantic entanglements as they journey towards the dramatic climax and discover the identity of the Half-Blood Prince.
Head over to the link below to view the trailer and featurette.

Apple: Harry Potter Trailer, Featurette
Electronic Arts
Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

Essentials Of RPG Game Design: 20 Games Examined
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

Gamasutra recently published a new Game Design Essentials article focusing on computer role playing games. The feature offers an overview of 20 games which have influenced and shaped the way storylines and game mechanics for modern RPGs are designed.

4. D&D Gold Box series

Designed by: Jim Ward, David Cook, Steve Winter, Mike Breault (Pool of Radiance), others

Influenced by: D&D, obviously. Also Wizardry, especially in its use of specials.

Series: SSI made many of these, at least seven. SSI also made a couple of Buck Rogers games using the Gold Box engine, and the original Neverwinter Nights (an early AOL offering) was essentially an MMORPG Gold Box game. There was even a publicly-released Gold Box AD&D construction kit in the form of the Unlimited Adventures tool.

Legacy: Probably every D&D-licensed RPG to come after owes a tremendous debt to the Gold Box line.

AD&D was not designed to become a computer game, and thus there are some unusual interface challenges at work here. A big advantage coming from its trying to replicate a official pen-and-paper RPG is that some aspects of the game world which almost invariably get simplified out of a concession to workability on a computer did not with the Gold Box games.

Take, for example, Vancian magic, the (in)famous aspect of D&D versions 0-3 that had wizard and cleric characters memorize spells at the beginning of an adventuring day. At "the beginning of a day," even in table sessions of Dungeons & Dragons, is a simplification; 2nd Edition established complex rules determining how many hours of preparation magic users had to undergo before beginning to memorize spells, then the actual amounts of time needed to commit them to retain them. In play sessions DMs usually, and rightly, glossed over this needless complication.

In most computer RPGs, something as weird and flavorful as Vancian magic (something that is only really effective for people who have read Jack Vance's fantasy work) would be considered too much of an interface hassle to make up for the fairly-minimal atmospheric effect from using it. The Gold Box games do include Vancian magic, even though it required a great deal of interface programming at the time to accommodate it -- the games even accurately tally up the hours spent in memorizing spells. They also track encumbrance, and even the funky multiple coin types D&D used at the time, with at least one inn even refusing payment in anything but platinum.

The games themselves are remembered fondly by many players, probably because of their strong non-linear nature and challenging play. Like a semi-directed tabletop campaign, players are given many different possible tasks to accomplish and can do them in the order the wish, or switch between them. Many of the obstacles have multiple ways of overcoming them.
Read more at the page listed below.

Gamasutra: Game Design Essentials 20 RPGs

Mac Games News for Thursday, July 9, 2009

City Of Heroes Story Slots Available For Purchase6:00 AM
Cricket 3D Version 4 Now Available6:00 AM
Pipemania Released For Mac and iPhone6:00 AM
Worms 2: Armageddon Coming To Macs6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, July 9, 2009 on one page

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