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Thursday, October 8, 2009

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Apple Games Features Bioshock
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

Apple Games has posted a new feature article about Bioshock for Mac. The critically acclaimed first person title drops players into the undersea world of Rapture where they must avoid being killed by the bizarre denizens of the city while seeking a way to escape. Apple's article includes an overview of the game, comments from lead designer Ken Levine, a brief history of Rapture, and a list of tips and tricks for success.

“There are a bunch of places in BioShock where we tried to introduce players to the challenges in a very natural fashion,” Levine explains. “There are no tutorials in the game. I hate tutorials. I think people are so used to that trope when making games that we just keep having these training missions. I don’t think anyone has a fantasy about being trained to do something cool; I think they just want to do something cool.

“So we start the game right in the action; we train the player in a very subtle way,” he continues. “We have a dynamic training system that watches them to see if they’re understanding things. If they seem confused, we put some simple text on the screen that reinforces how they should be using the various game systems to be most effective.”
Read the full article at the link below.

Apple Games: Bioshock
Feral Interactive
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Diablo III: Alternatives To The Mana Resource
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story recently posted some of the results of an interview with Blizzard Entertainment's Jay Wilson about Diablo III, the upcoming continuation of its action RPG franchise. The Q&A focused on the resource systems to be used for the Monk and Wizard classes. In Diablo III only the Witch Doctor will make use of mana, with the other classes each having their own unique resource pool. Everyone seems pretty happy with the function and form of the Barbarian’s Fury resource, but nothing has been revealed about the non-mana resources that the Wizard and Monk will use. Can you give us some insight into what kind of play style their resources are meant to encourage?
Jay Wilson: Well for the Wizard we want to enforce the fact that she’s a glass cannon. I don’t think it’s fun to ever run out of mana. I’m not really interested in an extended resource for her. For the WD we’re okay with mana, since he’s got some pretty good skills to recover mana that also double as attacks. And he’s not defenseless when he’s out of mana. He’s got pets and ways to attack with them that aren’t mana intensive. For him that makes mana fairly interesting.
For the wizard, when she’s out of mana she just dies. And that’s not fun. So if anything, we want to encourage how she plays. So she’s the kind of character that blasts first and asks questions later. Very vulnerable. So we want to implement a system that makes her more blasty, but even more vulnerable. We want to make that a choice for the player. “Do I want to make myself more vulnerable in exchange for being more blasty.” And that’s a cool gameplay pull there.
For the Monk um… I’m not ready to talk about him yet since he’s just too early. We still haven’t decided exactly what we want to do with him. We’re still playing around with his resource system. Do you envision the health globes will boost those other resources in the way that the Wizard and Witch Doctor were gaining mana from them at Blizzcon?
Jay Wilson:Um, maybe? *sounding intrigued* Usually in the third or fourth skill revision on classes we look at that kind of thing. For the Witch Doctor we figured that a lot of the mana things we had on the Wizard would work better on the Witch Doctor. We were having trouble maintaining enough mana while play testing the Witch Doctor. Especially if players didn’t take a specific mana recovery skill. So we focused on spreading that out across a lot more of the class so he can pull mana back more easily. When we get to other classes I’m sure we’ll look for more of that.
But the key is that we don’t necessarily want to…. we don’t want to cannibalize an existing gameplay mechanic. So when you take health globes that are already important, and you make them even more important, then that doesn’t really create gameplay. For the WD, the health globes weren’t that important a lot of times, since he very rarely took damage with his pets, so for him by enhancing his desire for health globes, we’re really putting gameplay where it wasn’t. So whatever we’re designing a class that’s what we look at.
Head over to the site below to read more. Non-Mana Resource Systems
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
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Hearts Of Iron 3 Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 8 comments

Adrenaline Vault has posted a review of the PC version of Hearts of Iron 3, the latest installment in the World War II war strategy series. The game includes a large new map and more than 10,000 provinces. Adrenaline Vault gave Hearts of Iron 3 a score of 4 out of 5.

From the review:

In HOI3, you can take control of any extant nation during the period of 1936 to ‘48. The game takes place in hourly intervals, allowing you to play through every hour of every day before and during the war. HOI3 features a number of scenarios, from the lead-up to war in ’36 to the last desperate attempts of Germany to stave off defeat in ’44; the entire world is your battleground. You set your country’s policies, build your military (ships, brigades and air wings), assign leaders and order your units to fight in any way you choose. When combined with the complicated tech tree, a political and diplomatic system that realistically portrays feelings of neutrality and aggression in various countries, and a combat system that recognizes the importance of supply lines, combined arms warfare, and terrain, you find a historical game with everything except FPS resolution of combat. And because the entire world is represented, there is plenty of room to carve your own place in history. You could play as Franco’s Spain and join the Axis, or play an imperialistic U.S. that abandons Europe to the fire of war and instead chooses to conquer North and South America. Japan can decide that war with America is a waste of time and instead attack the Soviet Union. The possibilities are breathtaking, and the only limitation is the historical position of any nation at the start of a scenario.

There is plenty to do in HOI3, so much that it might seem that you could be overloaded. Managing the German invasion of the Soviet Union is enough to tax any player, but doing that while coordinating the strategic bombing of the United Kingdom would normally require obsessive behavior. And yet, Paradox’s greatest innovation in the game is an AI component that takes care of anything you assign it to do. I don’t just mean automating the economy or letting the AI conduct research for you. Literally, any part of the game can be handed over to the AI, with the added bonus of allowing you to give instructions and receive feedback on what the computer needs to accomplish those goals. As an example, in one game as the Soviet Union, I managed to crush the Axis fairly quickly, leaving me time to spread Communism to other parts of Europe. As a test, I handed over the entire Western Front to the AI, and told it to prepare for an invasion of Spain. The AI deployed its armies properly and stockpiled supplies, but it also sent me a request for additional units, specifically medium armor, because it estimated that it would need the extra offensive power to completely crush the enemy. When I declared war, the AI went to work while I sat back and sipped a refreshing beverage. It took only two game months, but the AI followed my instructions properly and annihilated Spain, allowing me to add it to my ever-growing Communist empire. While no one would want to play a game in which everything is automated, my experiment demonstrates that, when the action gets hectic, you can count on the AI to run the minor conflicts by itself and follow your instructions while you concentrate on what is really important.
Check out the full review at the page linked below. Virtual Programming is currently working on the Mac version of Hearts of Iron 3.

Adrenaline Vault: Hearts Of Iron 3 Review
Virtual Programming

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EVE Online: Dominion, Ambulation, COSMOS
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story recently published a new interview with CCP Games' Torfi Olafsson about future plans for the sci-fi MMO, EVE Online. The article includes discussion of the upcoming Dominion expansion, ongoing development to allow players to walk around in space stations, and the status of the COSMOS social interaction elements being introduced into EVE.

Can you talk about Ambulation; it has been a while since it was announced.
Torfi Olafsson: Building an MMO is a highly complicated task. The interactions, the systems, and the interaction between the systems are far more challenging than a single player game that will be finished in thirty hours of game play. The initial plans for Ambulation did not lean very high on the game design part of it. It was more a venue for socializing and player interactions. As we went deeper into it our ambitions grew and we realized that since we were providing this extra dimension to game play we really wanted to make it as engaging as possible. So we are victims of our own ambition in that sense. We feel that we're going to release it when it is ready. We have people working on it. We are working on both the technology and the game design. I can tell you a little about it. Our approach to it to date is that you are a pod pilot in EVE. You spend most of your time locked in your pod, floating in goo. You are jacked into your ship. You can launch a volley of missile with a single thought. You can destroy industrial ships with a blink of an eye. You are almost god-like in how your ship is an extension of your mind and your will. That is the back ground. That is who you are. So for you to leave that ship and be thrown on the floor of a smelly, stinky, space station being nothing more than a weak human frail piece of flesh is both revolting to you and humiliating. So what is driving you to go into the stations is you go in there to do stuff which cannot register on any network, on any electronic communication network at all. So your reason for going into the space station is to go offline basically. So that is going to be the interaction with people in the dark smelly stations.

Tell us about the Dominion Expansion.
Torfi Olafsson: Our next expansion for EVE Online which will be our twelfth free expansion to our subscribers is called Dominion and it is coming out this winter and we're pretty excited about it. It is already on our test server Singularity. In Dominion our focus was providing tools and mechanisms for stories to emerge themselves. What that means is? As you are familiar with EVE is a sandbox heavy game. Our most cherished feature is the fact that our most interesting story is; our most compelling interactions come from alliances and players interacting with each other. So years ago we built a sovereignty system which allowed you to lay claim to solar systems, constellations, and regions. This system has been used a lot and has been the setting for many exciting battles and adventures in the game, but it was sorely needed an iteration. We knew and our players knew that it could be better, more cerebral, and more tactical. It needed a good polish. So we put our best people on collecting ideas and feedback from our community and our Council of Stellar Management and mixing those with ideas that had been brewing within the company for years. This manifested into a system that we feel is a highly engaging and an interesting system for claiming sovereignty, owning it, maintaining it, developing them and building infrastructure.
Visit the website below to read more.

MMORPG.COM: EVE Online Interview
CCP Games
EVE Online

Mac Games News for Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blizzard Devs Discuss World Of Warcraft6:00 AM
Eschalon: Book I Reviewed6:00 AM
PopCap Games Receives $22.5 Million In Funding6:00 AM
Torchlight Video Developer Diary Released6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, October 7, 2009 on one page

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