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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

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Torchlight Video Developer Diary Released
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Runic Games has released the first of two video developer diaries featuring information about the company's upcoming RPG, Torchlight. The video includes commentary from the game's creators, an overview of the Runic studio, and footage from the game.

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.

Dear Diary,

I think I will make a kick-ass game. Yes! That’s all for now. Lootfully yours, Runic Games.

Or maybe we’ll just show it in a video. Check it out, installment 1 of 2 behind the scenes interviews with the Devs, shot on location at Runic Games. See us in our natural habitat! The first video gives you an overview of the studio and our vision for Torchlight, and features Max and Erich Schaefer, Jason Beck, Travis Baldree, John Dunbar, and oh, some game footage! Have at it!
Click over to the page below to view the video.

Runic Games: Torchlight Video Dev Diary Pt. 1
Runic Games
Buy Torchlight

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Eschalon: Book I Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

My Game Company has posted a new review of Eschalon: Book I, Basilisk Games old school single player RPG. The game is inspired by classic role-playing games of the past and sends players across massive outdoor environments and deep into dozens of sprawling dungeons in a quest to uncover the mystery of their character's identity.

The story in this game is really something. You begin with no memory of who you are, where you are, or how you came to be there. This means you will be learning about the world of Eschalon along with your character, which adds a lot of realism to the adventure. The only clue you have regarding your past is contained in the sealed note shown in the screenshot above. This note provides the guidance and direction you need to get started. As you play through the game, you will discover that things aren't always what they seem. I was surprised by a number of clever plot twists that I didn't see coming. The story is epic in scope and very well-written indeed.

The game itself is largely non-linear. You can play along with the story, or you can go off on your own adventure. The game world is massive, with lots of places to explore and things to do. You have the freedom to travel in any direction, although you have to be careful you don't wander into places that require a more experienced adventurer. I sometimes stumbled into situations where I was hopelessly outnumbered or confronted with an enemy who was much too powerful for me, and had to beat a hasty retreat. The nice thing, though, is that your character grows and develops as you gain experience, so you can always return later and try again.

One of the many things I really enjoyed about this game was all the attention to detail. I could tell that this game was a labor of love on the part of the developer. There were a lot of little features and minor details that resulted in some pleasantly surprising and very satisfying gameplay. For example, I was looking for a place called Bordertown, and as I was getting closer, I ran across a group of bandits. I was outnumbered with only partial health and no healing potions, so I decided to run. The bandits pursued. I ran in the direction I was already going, hoping to find the town and a shop I could duck into to buy some healing potions. As I approached the town, I was surprised to see the townspeople rush out to intercept the bandits and start fighting them! In some games, the townspeople would just stand there while you were being killed, oblivious to what was happening. But not this game! This little detail made the game world feel so much more real and immersive. And I've had lots of other experiences like that too, where the game world just seems to come alive!
Head over to the link below to read the rest.

My Game Company: Eschalon Book I Review
Basilisk Games
Eschalon: Book I
Buy Eschalon: Book I

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Blizzard Devs Discuss World Of Warcraft
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

MMORPG has published a new interview with Blizzard Entertainment's J. Allen Brack and Frank Pearce. The developers discussed a variety of topics includingWorld of Warcraft, the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, and the company's focus on polishing games.

When interviewing and talking with Production Director J. Allen Brack about the upcoming additions to World of Warcraft there were a lot of ideas that look great for the game. The MMO market is changing and WoW is set to change with it. Their system of the five man, 10 man, and 25 man advancement dungeons are tiered so that players with all kinds of time can enjoy the game. If you do not have the time to raid every night, you have the chance to do instances and still gain the epic gear in the game. Brack was definitely excited about Patch 3.3 where players will get the chance to square off against the Lich King himself and hope to add some epic storylines into the dungeons they are creating. The idea of a two handed legendary axe named Shadowmourne has Death Knights, Hunters, and Warriors eager with excitement. Patch 3.3 will have normal and heroic five-man, normal and heroic ten and twenty five man instances. You can except some heavy lore added in this patch about Northrend and the Lich King himself. The patch will close out the Lich King story line and lead into the new era that we all know as Cataclysm.

In talking about Cataclysm, Brack explained a lot of the reasons behind the choices they made. The Goblins are there to give the Horde a small race, complimentary to the Gnomes, while the Worgen are seen as the sinister side of the Alliance being compared to the Undead of the Horde. Both classes offer something new to players who want to create a new character. The other area we did not talk as much about is giving the new class break down to the different races. There are charts out there, and if you play WoW you have likely already decided which class you will play.

This led to Brack explaining the changes in the level twenty through sixty zones of the game. There are many areas that the Blizzard team felt needed improvement in these zones so Cataclysm was a great story method for them to restructure the old world. Players will get a new, more streamlined experience with Cataclysm similar to the quest design in Lich King. Blizzard VP Frank Pearce also explained in his interview that he is not one to re-roll new characters through old content. Cataclysm gives him a reason to do that. As far as the facts about Cataclysm many have been revealed. When Blizzard does talk, especially about WoW, they are pretty clear about what they are doing. The real cause behind the interviews was why are they making those choices.
Read more of the article at the site linked below.

MMORPG.COM: WoW Interview
Blizzard Entertainment
World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm

PopCap Games Receives $22.5 Million In Funding
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

PopCap Games, the company responsible for popular casual games like Bejeweled, Peggle, and Plants vs. Zombies, has announced that it has secured $22.5 million in funding. The new funds will be for expansion into "social media and reaching new geopgraphies," as well as for "potential acquisitions."

Meritech Capital Partners led the funding round, which also included tech industry investors Larry Bowman and John McCaw. PopCap said the funding represents a minority stake in the company, which "has maintained profitability since its inception" 10 years ago. The Seattle-based game maker employs over 240 full-time staff across several locations worldwide.

Meritech managing director Rob Ward said, "While other video game companies put out more flops than hits, PopCap has never produced a game that wasn’t a critical and commercial success. Taking the company’s boutique development style and universally appealing product lineup to the top of the video game food chain will be an exciting, potentially industry-changing, experience and we’re happy to be a part of it."

PopCap CEO Roberts added, "We’ve been pursued by investment firms for many years and have resisted taking outside capital, but we liked Meritech’s style and believe there’s a tremendous opportunity to grow and evolve our business at a time when many other video game firms are retrenching."
Visit the Gamasutra page below to read more.

Gamasutra: PopCap Games' New Funding
PopCap Games

Mac Games News for Tuesday, October 6, 2009

EVE Online: Dominion Revenue Stream Updates6:00 AM
iGame Radio: Wolfire Interview, Zuma's Revenge Review6:00 AM
Spore Goes Hollywood6:00 AM
Two Worlds II: NPC Reputation System, Antaloor Desert Region6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, October 6, 2009 on one page

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