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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

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Din's Curse Enters Alpha Testing
2:30 PM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

A new blog post from Soldak Entertainmen's Steven Peeler recently revealed that Din's Curse, the company's next action RPG, is now in the alpha testing phase. If all goes as planned the game will enter beta testing in late January and could be available for pre-order soon after.

Well Din's Curse is finally in alpha. Technically it started over a week ago during the holidays. I was hoping we would be at this point in early November. However, with Soldak I really try to stick with the idea of releasing our games when they are done, not when an arbitrary schedule says to. We have spent the extra two months making Din a much better game. In the long run, I think this is the right decision. In the short term it hurts though (less revenue for last year and we missed submitting to IGF).

So far our alpha testers seem to be really enjoying themselves. They have been trying out all sorts of different builds thanks to the hybrid stuff and racking up a lot of playing hours already. They are even playing more multiplayer games than I thought because two of them happened to be at the same place during the holidays. With their help we are pretty quickly polishing some of the rougher parts and making Din as good as a game as possible.

Right now I'm thinking my longer alpha time guess of around a month is more likely at this point. Hopefully this means we will go into beta somewhere around the end of January. We will continue our internal testing at that point in time, but we are also still planning on the preorder/beta idea (short recap: you will be able to buy the game for a reduced price and get access to the beta).

Overall, I'm excited by our progress.
Head over to the page below to read more.

Din's Curse Status Update
Soldak Entertainment
Din's Curse
Buy Din's Curse

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Apple Games Features Guitar Hero, SW: The Force Unleashed
2:30 PM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Apple Games recently published two new feature articles, one focusing on Guitar Hero World Tour, and the other on Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition. The articles includes overviews of the games, comments from developers, tips and tricks for success, and cheat codes for those seeking an extra edge.

Star Wars The Force Unleashed:
“We purposely supported a few different play styles. If you’re a button-masher who likes to get in close with your lightsaber, you can be successful doing that. And if you want to hang back and act as a sniper, you can do that too: learn to use Force Grip to pick up objects and throw them at enemies, make liberal use of the charged lightsaber throw, and unlock the lightning grenade combo, which lets you charge up a gripped enemy, who will explode when you throw him.”

Lucas signed off on those over-the-top Force powers along with The Force Unleashed’s overall storyline. “During our meetings with him,” Blackman relates, “he gave us a lot of very general story advice, such as encouraging us to include a strong love interest (Juno Eclipse) and a comic sidekick (PROXY). He did have very specific guidelines on how we could use Princess Leia, but other than that, he basically gave us the freedom to tell the story we wanted to tell.”

Guitar Hero World Tour:
Whether you play solo or as part of a band, you’ll meet some of the most famous rockers in history, and guitarists get to face off against two of them: Zakk Wylde, who plays lead guitar for Ozzy Osbourne, and Ted Nugent, who began his career in the late 1960s and is known for such hits as “Cat Scratch Fever.” Those head-to-head battles challenge you to keep up with those experienced axe men and prevent the crowd meter from swinging to their side.

In addition to Hendrix, other musicians you’ll meet include Ozzy Osbourne, Sting, Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams, Smashing Pumpkins lead guitarist and vocalist Billy Corgan, and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. “Yep, that’s some rock ‘n’ roll royalty right there,” says Lee. “Who wouldn’t want to share the stage with some of the best musicians of all time?”

During your world tour, you’ll play in a variety of venues, including Amoeba Music’s record store in Los Angeles, New York City’s Times Square, a German stadium used for an Ozzfest concert starring Ozzy, an environment created in conjunction with the band Tool, and various other places around the world.
Click over to the pages below to read the full article.

Apple Games: Guitar Hero World Tour
Apple Games: Star Wars The Force Unleashed Ultimate Sith Edition
Aspyr Media
Guitar Hero World Tour
Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition
Buy Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition

Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel Discusses Ending Avernum
2:30 PM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment recently published the results of an interview with Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel. The developer discussed his decision to end the Avernum saga with episode six, his inspirations for game creation, and Spiderweb's Mac focus.

1UP: Counting Exile, the Avernum series has been running pretty steadily for 15 years. Why bring it to this definite conclusion?
JV: Fatigue. There comes a time when you just look at something and go, "I'm not feeling this so much anymore." I really enjoyed writing Avernum V and VI. They have a lot of cool stuff in them, and I'm as proud of them as I am of anything I've written. However, I got them to that point by burning off all of the rest of the good ideas I have.

Well, actually, that's not true. I do have a cool idea for Avernum Zero, a one-shot game set well before the series started. But I would not write that for years and years, and I'd sigh a little bit when I did so.<

1UP: It's pretty unusual, especially these days, to see a developer that focuses on Mac as its primary platform. Why stick with Mac? One would think there's more money to be made by working with Windows as your main platform. (Not that I'm complaining, being a long-time Mac user myself, but....)
JV: These days, our sales between the two platforms are pretty evenly split. Mac users love Indie games.

I write my games on the Mac first because, basically, I'm only one guy, and to have a chance of getting a big job done I have to do as much work as possible in the environment that makes me the most comfortable. For me, personally, that is the Mac.

Visit the page below for the full Q&A. Jeff Vogel Interview
Spiderweb Software

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Vendetta Online Status Update
2:30 PM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Guild Software has posted a lengthy new update on the news blog for its massively-multiplayer online space strategy game, Vendetta Online. The post includes information about upcoming changes like conquerable space stations, improving static bots, and ongoing universe updates, as well as recently added improvements.

Station Conquest - This was widely requested not too long ago, spawned a variety of posts and an RFC thread (don't post to that thread, start a new one if needed), etc. We had a few irons in the fire already, at the time, such as implementing the now-available PayPal direct payment system. Beginning next week, we will be looking at, hopefully, having some sort of simplistic conquerable-station scenario, in production, during the month of January. However, like all great goals, this is uncertain and entirely dependent on what issues crop up. You guys know we can't make promises, but this is what we're trying to do. I don't know what form this initial conquest scenario will take, probably something along the lines of a handful of new "conquerable" stations scattered around grayspace. But, we shall see. We'll start small and Make It Work.

Dueling Badges - Four levels of badges available based on the Duel Rating of the individual character. Each badge level replaces the previous one, and they include: "Duellist" (1600), "Master Duellist" (2000), "Grandmaster Duellist" (2400), and "Legendary Duellist" (2800). Keep in mind that the Duel Stats Page only lists those who have dueled recently. Older veterans fall off after awhile, if they haven't fought under the Duel framework in the last couple of months. So while no currently-ranked player rates the Grandmaster status, we do have two veterans who do, unsurprisingly Ghost and martin. The possibility of Legendary duellists is one for the future.

I have not tied the duellist badges to any items as of yet, although I think that would be cool to do at some point (some special-looking ship skin, perhaps). I definitely want to add more regularly-scheduled gameplay that brings player duels together in a weekly, monthly, and even yearly (best of the best) competition. Rather than relying on an Event to do this, we'll probably do some custom development to make it an automated function, and then add in some interesting prizes and things for major winners. One-on-one PvP has always been one of the most fascinating and unique aspects of our game, completely unlike any other (that I've experienced, anyway), and I'd like to do more to celebrate that aspect if possible.
For more information click over to the pages linked below.

Vendetta Online News
Guild Software
Strategy First
Vendetta Online

Mac Games News for Monday, January 4, 2010

Mobile 1UP Brings iPhone Games To Macs6:00 AM
StarCraft II: Protoss Mini-Campaign Confirmed6:00 AM
The Exciting Adventures Of Master Chef Ogro Updated6:00 AM
Two Worlds II: New Screenshots, Gameplay Videos6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, January 4, 2010 on one page

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