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Friday, January 8, 2010

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Din's Curse: New Screens & Preview
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Soldak Entertainment has unveiled a new set of screenshots for its upcoming action rpg, Din's Curse. The images provide a glimpse of the game and come with descriptions of the creatures and areas depicted. Co-Optimus has also released a short preview of the game's features.

The action-RPG has been experiencing a resurgence of late, as evidenced by the well-reviewed Torchlight. Another example of the genre is being developed by indie studio Soldak Entertainment. Din's Curse will follow the Diablo 2 formula for gameplay, but there are some nice innovations that make it stand out from the crowd.

There are six character classes in the game, and each has access to three types of skills. For example, the Wizard class can use spells from Ice, Fire, and Magician lines. This is standard, but what makes it unique is the ability to choose a hybrid class, selecting any two skills types across classes. You could play a Weaponmaster (Warrior skill)/Magician hybrid, for instance. According to the Din's Curse website, there are 141 combinations!
Click over to the link below to read more.

Din's Curse Screenshots
Co-Optimus: Din's Curse Preview
Soldak Entertainment
Din's Curse
Buy Din's Curse

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AbleGamers Gives Dragon Age Mainstream Accessibility Award
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

AbleGamers, a website devoted to "bringing people with disabilities into the digital entertainment space by advocating for the necessary accessibility options," has awarded Bioware with the 2009 Mainstream Accessibility Award for the RPG Dragon Age: Origins. AbleGamers gave the game a score of 9.8 out of 10.

Fully accessible mainstream games are the core mission for the accessible gaming movement. AbleGamers selects one game to represent the most accessible game of each calendar year. This year is no different, one video game stood out from the rest with accessibility options far beyond what most companies are willing to include.

Mark Darrah, the Executive Producer for Dragon Age: Origins says, “The Dragon Age team is honored to win this award. We try to appeal to as broad of an audience as we can and accessibility is certainly part of this effort. It makes me proud to have the game this well received by this community.”

Dragon Age: Origins offers some of the most astounding accessibility options seen in any game this year. With only one accessibility complaint, Bioware far exceeded expectations for an accessible title. However, the relatively small font size was immediately addressed by Bioware, bringing the number of accessibility problems to zero.

The accessibility of Dragon Age: Origins includes:
  • Multiple levels of subtitles - You are given the option of no subtitles, only subtitles, or subtitles plus ambient noise subtitles. In addition, even when selecting no subtitles as your option, the game places subtitles in the interactive cut scenes at the top of your screen.
  • Extreme mobility options - Users can control the characters from multiple camera angles allowing for various play styles. Players can use the keyboard or both mouse buttons to control the cameras and the characters themselves. There are precise movements needed in some situations, but most actions are very forgiving and easily managed. Moreover, there is no need for a mouse sensitivity option and on-screen keyboards work perfectly.
  • Colorblind friendly - With the addition of improved fonts, all status bars are easily read no matter the color impairment.
  • Cognitive friendly - Perhaps the most underrepresented disability in mainstream games, cognitive impaired gamers can pause the action quickly and as often as necessary in the heat of the battle. Orders can be issued during the pause, allowing anyone to keep up with the game no matter the level of cognitive impairment.
  • Extra accessibility - Ambient noises, subtle movements, clearly marked terrain, multiple levels of difficulty, and many other small accessibility options.
What makes this title so exceptional is the level of options given to the gamer to choose their level of accessibility. Options are the key component to adding accessibility without harming the overall gameplay of any title. As long as developers like Bioware continue to add accessibility in layers of options that enhance their gaming titles, disabled gamers will continue to be able to play great titles such as Dragon Age: Origins.
For more information follow the links below.

Dragon Age: Origins

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Vendetta Online Duel Stats Updated
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Guild Software has posted a new update on the news blog for its massively-multiplayer online space strategy game, Vendetta Online. The post highlights recent changes to the game's dueling system stats in an effort to adjust ranking volatility and enhance competitive dueling.

We have significantly changed the way we calculate Duel Stats, to try and enhance competitive dueling in the game while also keeping rankings within the realm of sanity.

- We are now scaling the K-factor by the duel rating. The original K-factor is still used between 1000 and 1999, allowing people to quickly gain (or lose) duel rating points. Between 2000 and 2399, half the original K-factor is now used, making making people ranked in that area less volatile in their changes (increases are slower, but so are decreases). Above 2400, the K-factor drops to 1/4 the original, further reducing volatility for the top-rated players. This slows the process of rank inflation, but still keeps relative ranks comparable between strong players.

- Combat Level 4 is now required to be rated in Duels. Players under that may participate in Duels, but will neither give nor receive any changes in rating. This is to allow new people a little breathing room to learn, and also to prevent trivial exploitation of duel rating by continually fighting trial account characters (still possible, just now more involved).

- Rating lower limit is now clamped to 900. This was done to allow people who have experienced many duel losses to recover more quickly if they desire, instead of bottoming out all the way to zero. At the same time, since continually defeating these opponents would not diminish as quickly (as the rating is now clamped), we had to artificially reduce the amount of ratings gain that could be accrued by defeating someone with a rating under 1000. So, there is now another special K-factor for situations where a person over 1000 defeats a person under 1000; in that case the K-factor is reduced to 1/2 of normal for the winning person of over-1000 rating. If a person under 1000 rating should win, their K-factor will be unchanged, so they will gain quickly. If two people under 1000 should Duel, their K-factor will also remain normal, allowing the usual fast gains and losses. People with a rating of 900 are no longer listed on the main Duel Ranking page, although they still show up under the individual wins/losses. Hopefully allowing people to recover from a losing streak more quickly will help increase dueling activity.
Visit the page below to read the rest.

Vendetta Online News
Guild Software
Strategy First
Vendetta Online

iGame Radio Episode 89 Released
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Episode 89 of Omaha Sternberg's iGame Radio podcast is now available for listening. The podcast features an interview with Pangea Software's Brian Greenstone and reviews of Spiderweb Software's Avernum 6, Alawar's Gourmania, and Geospace's WordSpin.

Episode 89:

  • An interview with Brian Greenstone of Pangea Software. The history of Pangea’s Mac games, their current iPhone games, and what their plans are for the future.
  • Also, a review of Avernum VI, Spiderweb Software’s final episode in the popular retro-RPG series. Get lost in an underground world, kick Slith butt, and get high on Skribbane. What could be better?
  • Plus, a review of Gourmania, the Alawar frantic restaurant cooking game for the iPhone. Move quickly to find all of those ingredients in time and hit the big leagues. Just don’t expect to finish the game.
  • Finally, a review of WordSpin by Geospace. This iPhone game puts a new spin on word games like Boggle or Scrabble, but you’ll miss the social interaction.
Check out the podcast at the web page linked below.

iGame Radio: Podcast 89
iGame Radio

Mac Games News for Thursday, January 7, 2010

Apple Games Features Civilization IV Colonization6:00 AM
Diablo III: Magic Find, Monk Resources, Necromancer Return?6:00 AM
Dragon Age: Origins Reviewed6:00 AM
Jeff Vogel Discusses Avernum And Future Games6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, January 7, 2010 on one page

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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