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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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The Making Of Diablo III
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Gamasutra has published a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Julian Love and Kevin Martens about the eagerly anticipated action RPG, Diablo III. In the interview the developers discussed the game's long development process, staying true to the game's history, and integrating the game into the new

Diablo III was announced last year; it's been playable twice at Blizzcon now. Mike Morhaime suggested it probably won't be out until 2011. Does it feel like the development time has been extended to a surprising degree? Do you ever think, "Oh God, this really will be a while longer now?"

Kevin Martens: Here's the secret to Blizzard games, and this is a secret that won't help any of our competitors: endless iteration. We'll take something, we'll put it in the game. Maybe we'll like it when we put it in, maybe we won't. We'll leave it in there for a while, we'll let it percolate. We'll play it and play it and play it, and then we'll come back. We might throw it all out, or we'll throw half of that out and redo it.

It can be a long time, but it is fun to work on as well. That's the thing that keeps you going. Multiplayer always works, and the builds are always playable. We've played them constantly, and it's fun. You actually look forward to the weekly play session even though the game is still in progress. That's what keeps us going, and that's also why it takes so long. We'll do it over and over again until it's just right.

On the topic of Blizzard North and Blizzard Entertainment though, I do feel there was a difference in style between the Blizzard North and South games. The Diablo titles had a more baroque, intricate look, more tilework and stonework "along the grid." Diablo III is more of a blend of that style with the current Blizzard South style. How long did it take you to settle on the look for Diablo III?

Julian Love: Well, it took a while for us to settle on the actual style, but I don't think it was due any kind of difference between Blizzard North and Blizzard South philosophy. It had more to do with the fact that we were moving the game from a two-dimensional technology platform to a three-dimensional technology platform.

Issues like lighting and separation between the characters and the backgrounds are handled in entirely different ways -- ironing out how to get what we felt was a Diablo vibe while still managing to get the characters to pop.

Looking at D2, for instance, those characters are super bright, super colorful. They pop out of the backgrounds. So, we had to try to bring that forward, but at the same time we don't want to just rest on that art style and do the exact same game.

We want to elevate that. We've got to look at the other games that Blizzard does, learn from the things that they've done that make those games better, and really progress. I think what you're seeing in the art style is our idea of the actual progression of the Diablo universe.

We're heard a lot about some of what is doing for StarCraft II -- a deeper league system, a mod community, and so on. Can you speak at all about how Diablo III will take advantage of the new in gameplay terms?

Kevin Martens: We're definitely using it. A lot of the things that StarCraft is doing, we're paying really close attention to. We've got coders from the Diablo development team working on to make sure that they're laying the groundwork for the things we want to do.

Primarily at this point, we're interested in trying to make the co-op game as fast and as easy for players to get into as we can.

More co-op support is our primary interest, and the rest of the stuff, we'll develop as StarCraft II develops it. We're watching that process, and we definitely like what we see.
Visit the link below for the rest of the Q&A.

Gamasutra: The Road To Diablo III
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
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LEGO Batman Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Mac|Life has posted a review of LEGO Batman: The Videogame. In the game players can explore an interactive LEGO Gotham City as Batman and Robin, capturing infamous villains, and even taking control of the villains themselves. Mac|Life gave the game a score of 4 out of 5.

From the review:

In the grand tradition of LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones, LEGO Batman re-creates Gotham City in colorful, 3D environments built out of LEGO bricks. You play as Batman and Robin, switching on the fly. Or a second person can join the game anytime, and you work together. Anything made from LEGOs is destructible, and puzzles are often solved by breaking the scenery and reassembling the pieces into a tool, a vehicle, or a passageway needed to get farther into the game.

The all-new story line is split into three episodes, with our heroes chasing down escaped villains and herding them back to Arkham Asylum. But since the Batman universe features such larger-than-life criminals, the game includes another three episodes in which you play as the bad guys, each of whom have special powers.

In each episode, your characters fight enemies hand-to-hand, explore the gorgeous 3D environments, solve puzzles to lead them to the end of the level, and then battle a boss character. Along the way you also pick up coins to buy upgrades, find hidden treasure, and collect the pieces to construct trophies, but all those are really bonus diversions from the main game, included to boost replay value. You can’t find all of a level’s 10 hidden “LEGO canisters,” for example, when playing through it in Story mode. You have to beat the level in Story mode to unlock Free Play mode, where you play it again with any character--including the specialized characters needed to access all the LEGO canisters.
Head over to the site below to read the full review.

Mac|Life: LEGO Batman Review
Feral Interactive
LEGO Batman
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Torchlight Previewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 7 comments

Game Central has posted a new preview of Torchlight, Runic Games' upcoming single player action RPG with colorful cartoon graphics and Diablo inspired gameplay. Torchlight will give players the chance to choose a character and venture from the safety of the town of Torchlight into randomly generated dungeon levels. Once inside they will find a variety of monsters, a large selection of loot to find, and quests to complete.

A big emphasis from Travis about Torchlight was the level design. There are seven distinct tilesets of randomized environments, these include sunken ruins, mines, and crypts. Instead of the carefully mapped out topography of other such titles as Titan Quest and Diablo II, Torchlight features completely randomized levels. You won’t notice this unique characteristic on your first playthrough of this 20-hour game. However, it will be wholly apparent on return visits of the game; excluding the pre-designed “boss” portions, each room will appear to be totally different. It’s understandable why players could potentially be skeptical of this mechanic, as past games have been criticized for lack of depth and personality in the design. With Torchlight, Runic is attempting to combat this plague.

We questioned Travis about the narrative structure of the story progression, specifically how it will be possible in a game where levels are totally randomized. We learned not every single level is randomized, but a vast majority of them are. The story will remain the same, since there will be certain key dungeons that will appear in each playthrough.

The game’s artstyle, as pointed out by Travis, is sort of akin to the film The Incredibles. The “chunky” look of the graphics is reminiscent to past games such as Beyond Good & Evil and Psychonauts. One of the reasons Runic decided to go this route was for performance. A critical goal in developing Torchlight was to get the game playable on all systems, even netbook computers. As of the build at PAX, the game is currently playable on a GeForce 2-era graphics card, and a 1GHz processor system. Another reason for the artstyle is the reasoning that “cartoony” and less realistic graphics makes the game visually relevant years after release. Travis made the point that the Nintendo GameCube Zelda game, Wind Waker, still looks compelling even to this day.
For the rest of the preview click over to the page below.

Game Central: Torchlight Preview
Runic Games
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City Of Heroes: Going Rogue Discussed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Ten Ton Hammer has posted a new interview with Paragon Studios' Matt Miller, Senior Lead Designer for Going Rogue, the upcoming expansion for the comic book themed City of Heroes. The article covers some of the content planned for the upcoming add-on, which will feature a new alignment system to allow heroes and villains the chance to switch sides, two new primary fictional characters, and the new threat of the parallel universe known as Praetoria.

Going Rogue, the upcoming expansion for City of Heroes and City of Villains, will allow players to transition from hero to villain and villain to hero for the first time. We spoke with Matt "Positron" Miller, Senior Lead Producer of City of Heroes, about what the change will entail. “This process is not immediate, it’s not a switch, it’s not a $30 charge. It’s a story that you go through. For heroes, it’s a fall from grace, for villains it’s a redemptive arc. A hero will be a hero for a while and he’ll do enough content that he’ll become a vigilante... do enough of that vigilante stuff and you’ll get kicked out of Paragon City and you’ll end up in the Rogue Isles as a villain.”

“Villains don’t become vigilantes, they become rogues. They become the redemptive sort-of guys that think, ‘Maybe I’m fighting on the wrong side. Maybe I’m not doing everything for the right reasons. Maybe there’s a better way for me to use my powers.’ They’ll get what I term internally as the “Han Solo missions,” the heart-of-gold but wears a grey hat type stuff. Eventually if they do enough of that stuff, they’ll be invited over to Paragon City to become a full fledged hero. ”

Even if you meet the content requirements to change allegiances, there’s no danger of accidentally changing sides. “You’ll have to purposefully do the content, and purposefully make that transition. So you can kind of ride that middle line I talked about - you can really stay a gray hat, and there will be some advantages to doing so. You can go from one zone to another more freely, but you’ll lose some opportunities as well.”
Check out the rest of the interview at the page linked below.

Ten Ton Hammer: City Of Heroes Going Rogue
City of Heroes
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Mac Games News for Monday, September 21, 2009

Basilisk Games Merchandise For Sale6:00 AM
DOFUS 2.0 Coming December 2nd6:00 AM
Geneforge 5: Overthrow Updated6:00 AM
MicroWar 2.0 Available For Download6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, September 21, 2009 on one page

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