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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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EVE Online: Dominion Coming This Winter
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

CCP Games has announced its next free expansion for the sci-fi MMO, EVE Online. Dominion will focus on alliance warfare and will feature an overhauled sovereignty system, new epic mission arcs for pirate factions, and the first version of EVE's COSMOS social networking platform.

Ten free expansions down. Now an eleventh. Set for Winter 2009, EVE Online: Dominion will focus on what is often cited as EVE's "end game" - alliance warfare. It offers a complete overhaul of the current sovereignty mechanics in favor of a system that's a brilliant mix of our game design vision and the input we've received from fans on forums, at conventions (FANFEST!) and via the CSM. Savvy alliances will benefit greatly from following and understanding these changes, which will receive extensive testing.

In addition, we'll be adding some new epic arcs for pirate factions, offering the first iteration of the integrated social networking platform known as COSMOS, setting our artists free to rebeautify planets and more.

As always, more information is in the pipeline from any number of sources. Check in with our dev blogs, CCP interviews at conventions like PAX and Austin GDC, coverage from Fanfest and Alliance Tournament VII, gaming news and fansites, our forums, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and the newly launched (but still mysterious) EVE Online: Dominion feature page.
Head over to the site below for more information.

EVE Online: Dominion
CCP Games
EVE Online

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Diablo III: Barbarian & Witch Doctor Skill Trees
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment has posted an examination of the skill trees for the Barbarian and Witch Doctor classes in the eagerly anticipated Diablo III from Blizzard Entertainment. The partial skill trees are based on the information Blizzard has revealed so far.

Rank: 1/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 200% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback.
Rank: 2/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 215% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback.
Rank: 3/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 230% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback. (presumed)
Rank: 4/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 245% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback. (presumed)
Rank: 5/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 260% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback. (presumed)
Cost: 1 Fury Orb

This skill, simple and returning from D2 though it sounds, was just about my favorite in the entire Blizzcon build. It works much as it did in D2, but the animation is so cool that it’s a blast to use. When using Bash, the Barbarian positively winds up, twisting his upper body and leaning completely over, away from the monster, before uncoiling and extended into the strike like he’s driving a railroad spike. It’s quite an, “OMG he knocked the sauce out of that dude!” visual, and better yet, sometimes when you kill a monster with this, you literally knock their skeleton out of their flesh, sending the fully-articulated, blood-stained bones sliding across the screen, shuffleboard style, a drenching trail of blood in their wake. I laughed like a school girl every time it worked.

That said, this one is a very slow hit, working at maybe 50% the speed of the Barbarian’s other attacks, and the Barbarian is vulnerable to all sorts of attacks while he’s winding this one up. It’s not a skill to use in crowds, unless you absolutely must kill that one target, but it’s great against harder targets that attack alone. This quickly became my go to skill against the nasty Dune Dervishes.

Skull of Flame
Rank: 1/5
Description: Lob a skull filled with fire dealing 4-5 fire damage to all enemies caught in the explosion.
Mana Cost: 7
Critical hits from fire damage cause targets to burn for an additional 25% over 4 seconds.
Rank: 2/5
Increases damage to 6-9.
Next Level: 3
Increases damage to 8-13.

The default attack spell early on, I must have hurled a thousand of these in the hour or so I played the WD. They’re a lot of fun to throw; they move a bit more quickly than I expected, and can be tossed to the furthest corners of the screen. Or even off of it, as I found when I locked onto some moving enemies and kept hurling the skulls even when they were out of sight.

The skulls do a nice job obeying the laws of physics, and are fun to really test out the 3D nature of the geography in D3. I was very fond of tossing these over the edges of cliffs in the surface desert areas, or down into the pits in the outdoor mine levels. To my surprise, those areas can be interacted with, and the skulls would fall down a considerable distance before bursting on catwalks or rock outcroppings well outside the area of play; places there was no way to walk down to, and upon which no monsters were ever found. I expected these areas to be null, and that the skulls would just blow up in mid air, or vanish entirely.

Skulls can actually be thrown too far, in some exploitative ways. Several times I saw a pack of Fallen or other monsters on some ledge way of in the distance, in a location I was supposed to have to walk way down around some boulders and along narrow ledges and paths to reach. Yet I could freely hurl my firebombs to those locations, with perfect accuracy, and was able to kill enemies who had no way to fight back. Naturally, I did so whenever possible, if only to watch the Fallen scurry around.

The monsters always reacted to the attack; their AI was good enough for that, but I was so far away by any ground route that they could seldom path find their way to me. They did usually run far enough that I lost the visual on them, and I’d find them spread out along some ramp or pathway a minute later, when I explored down far enough to find the way to whatever corner they’d initially been stationed in.

Also, this skill showed clearly that the spell damage in D3 is magnified (in unknown fashion) by attributes. I used this at level 2, when it listed 6-9 damage. Yet when I wrote down the stats on my character screen, with a brand new Witch Doctor starting out at level 12, the right click listed 19-29 damage for Skull of Flame.

Check out the pages linked below to read more. Barbarian Class Skill Tree Witch Doctor Class Skill Tree
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
Buy Diablo III

Paul Sams Discusses, StarCraft II, WoW Cataclysm
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story has published a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Paul Sams about the company's current projects. The article covered a variety of topics including the company's plans for 2.0, StarCraft II development, and the decision to revamp existing areas in WoW: Cataclysm.

Q: One of the things that Rob talked about in the presentation [at BlizzCon] was the marketplace, which he presented as something for the mod community. But are you seeing that as perhaps an extra revenue stream and a way to monetise for the company too?
Paul Sams: It's certainly possible. What we're doing right now is building the feature set and we're building all the different elements of the experience. We're trying to figure out how marketplace is going to work exactly and how consumers are going to be able to interact with that marketplace. It's certainly possible that there could be a charging mechanism at some point. I don't have any real details about that right now, but it's certainly something we're looking at - we're looking at all sorts of possibilities for each of the areas of

Q: Might it be a place where you could release smaller scale Blizzard products too, like pay-for assets?
Paul Sams: Oh, it's certainly possible. I don't know if it's somewhere we would actually go because we do have this issue with focus. We've got four games in development, we've got our cinematic team, we've got - that requires us to keep a lot of balls in the air. We don't want to make any big mistakes as you can imagine. So going and doing a bunch of smaller games pay-for there I think is a cool idea... whether or not we're going to be able to pull that off given the focus we want to keep on our big stuff, I don't know. Time will tell on that.
Read the full Q&A at the site linked below. Paul Sams Interview
Blizzard Entertainment

Going Postal For A Third Time
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 5 comments has posted a new interview with Steve Wik, Lead Design/Creative Director of Running with Scissors and Andrew Belkin, Lead Producer of Akella, about the upcoming Postal III. The return to the controversial game world will feature a third person viewpoint, a more story driven plot, and the ability to complete the game without killing anyone.

UGDB: The first Postal used an isometric perspective; the second was a FPS; this one is entirely third person. Is there any hidden logic behind this evolution?

SW: Unlike most developers, we don’t like to make the same game over and over. Plus, we thought it would be cool to actually see the Dude’s insane antics this time. But you never know what we’ll do in the future. I kind of like the idea of doing a Bionic Commando: Rearmed style remake of Postal I…

AB: The only logic I see is that all games of a series tried to deliver best experience with technology they possessed. But this time (as also said above) we are trying to deliver more of a focus onto main character, his personality, past and future actions. And this is where third person view is best possible.

UGDB: In the first Postal, there was no plot line, and the main purpose was to kill a certain percentage of armed NPCs on the map to reach the next level. In Postal II, the each level represented a different day of the week and the purpose of the game was to finish all of the tasks throughout that week. How will the main story develop in Postal III and what’s going to be the base mechanic of the game?

AB: In Postal III we are trying to put more focus onto the main character (Dude) and his story, meaning, the player will see sort of more “coherent” cinematographic storyline (whole bunch of cut-scenes in the game). The Dude starts “from scratch” in the new town of Catharsis (he’s a complete alien there), he’s trying to meet ends as a “normal guy”, but that doesn’t mean the town is normal enough to help him with that. Game’s storyline is pretty linear (to achieve that cinematic feel), however it still has some room for deviations, and side stories, depending on how violently you play the game.

SW: The player gets to decide if he gets tangled up in the schemes of Mayor Chomo and Uncle Dave (who miraculously survived the ATF assault on his compound in Postal II) or if he goes on the path of righteousness and joins the police force.

UGDB: In the previous titles of the series the players were able to accomplish all of their tasks without causing any controversial trouble. Is it going to be possible to finish Postal III without using any excessive means? Just like a “normal” third person shooter game, you know?

AB: “Normal” third-person shooter involves shooting people (or aliens, zombies, whatever) anyway. In Postal III, you can complete the game without killing anyone at all. This is challenging, yes, (but you know, being a good guy nowadays is challenging anyway), but this path has lots of benefits and extended storyline as compensation.
Visit the page below for the full interview. Postal III Interview
Running With Scissors

Mac Games News for Monday, August 31, 2009

Diablo III: Spell Animations, Cinematics, Female Monks6:00 AM
Plants Vs. Zombies Reviewed6:00 AM
Vendetta Online HD Trailer Available6:00 AM
World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm Previewed6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, August 31, 2009 on one page

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