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Monday, August 30, 2010

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Amnesia: The Dark Descent Goes Gold
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Swedish game developer Frictional Games recently announced that Amnesia: The Dark Descent has gone gold and will be released to survival horror fans on September 8th. The game is described as a title which will take players on a "thrill-ride through the depths of madness and explore the dark side of human emotions." It follows the tale of a protagonist on the run from a horrifying foe.

We are extremely pleased with our creation and cannot wait to unleash our bundle of madness on the 8th of September. We feel that we have taken a giant leap forward compared to our previous games, the Penumbra series.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a first person horror game with a focus on immersion. It is a game where atmosphere and story comes first. We hope that the game will be a breeze of fresh air, in a genre otherwise populated by "one-man-army action hero" sagas. In Amnesia you are almost completely defenseless, something we believe not only makes the game a lot scarier, but also gives a vastly different experience. Do you have what it takes to survive?

Recommended Computer Specifications:
  • Windows XP/Vista/7, OS X 10.5.8/10.6.4 or Linux distribution released in 2010
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6 / ATI Radeon HD
  • 2.0 Ghz CPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2.5 GB Free hard disk space
Supported Languages:
  • US English with localized text for French, German, Italian and Spanish
Amnesia: The Dark Descent will be priced $20 (USD). For more information, including a new game trailer, follow the links below.

Frictional Games
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
YouTube: Amnesia Trailer
Buy Amnesia: The Dark Descent

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

Guild Software has released new patches for its massively-multiplayer online space strategy game, Vendetta Online. The latest update brings the game to version 1.8.142 and includes a variety of new updates, bug fixes, and content additions.

Changes offered in recent updates:

1.8.142 includes the following:
  • Modified Hives: the Siepos hive now spreads through Serco territory, while the Prosus hive appears in the Itani region of space. Milanar presence continues in grayspace.
  • Each hive now drops unique Milanar, Prosus and Siepos Neural Nodule items, which will factor into "manufacturing" driven gameplay down the road. These nodules are easily destroyed in combat, and as a result are only a 1-in-10 chance of dropping from most hive members. Only the Leviathan, with its larger neural array, is guaranteed to drop some nodules.. but not very many.
  • Fixed hive problem relating to NPC mining ships attacking instead of
  • Fixed hive issue with bots not respawning in the Milanar hives.
  • Frame limiter is now enabled by default, set to 120 frames per second.
Earlier this week, on Weds, we also released 1.8.141, a larger client-side patch including some new graphics:
  • Enhanced textures for the stations, new normal and specularity maps.
  • Improvements to detail textures on certain asteroids.
  • More efficient texture memory utilization.
All in all, these improvements to the Hive should continue to expand on the PvE gameplay and crafting ramifications, while the graphics drops have substantially spruced up some of our space stations and other assets. Lots of other changes in the pipe for the next couple of months, building up to a fall release of the Android version.
View the page below to learn more about the updates.

Guild Software
Strategy First
Vendetta Online

New Telltale Game To Include Characters From Several Series
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

GameTrailers is now offering a new teaser trailer for an upcoming new game from Telltale Games. The teaser includes silhouettes of characters from several series including Penny Arcade Adventures, Sam & Max, Team Fortress 2, and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People.

More information about the game will be made available when it is officially announced this week on September 2.

GameTrailers: Telltale Game Teaser
Telltale Games

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Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms Released
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Ubisoft has announced that its massively multiplayer online web-based game, Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms is now available in North America. Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms is available for Mac, Windows PC, and iPad users. The game combines role playing, adventure, and resource management elements.

Set in the Might and Magic universe, Heroes Kingdoms is the first instalment of the saga’s web-based MMO, incorporating role-playing elements, adventure, and management skills. Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms has all the ingredients of a great M&M Heroes game. There’s an involved storyline, taking place in the fantastic Ashan, and features epic battles and characters, as well as true RPG feeling and style. Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms brings the multiplayer online world all the richness of the franchise.

Key Features:
  • A full web-based MMO experience with PVP and PVE elements.
  • Thousands of fellow players for unlimited battle and alliance opportunities.
  • Free to play with an optional subscription offering additional features.
  • Play anywhere and anytime thanks to the iPad / Windows PC / Mac compatibility and instant access with no client to download.
  • Adjust your way of playing to your everyday life with a game adapted to multiple short sessions throughout the day.
  • Four different playable factions: Necropolis, Haven, Inferno, and Academy - with more to come.
  • Seasonal quests that trigger intense competition among players
Players can form alliances in order to dominate the world of Might & Magic. In addition, players are able to customize their in-game experiences based on their available play time, with the ability to successfully expand their kingdoms in either a few minutes or a few hours a day.
Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms is free-to-play with a subscription option available to access additional features.

Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms

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Darkwind: War On Wheels AI Routines Explained
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Earlier this month Psychic Software and the Darkwind: War On Wheels developers released some new information about the AI routines utilized in the multiplayer online turn based strategy game. Darkwind makes use of adaptive artificial intelligence algorithms which allow computer players to learn from the strategies used by their human counterparts. The algorithms are also used to improve computer pathfinding in wilderness areas.

Question: What is a "genetic algorithm" and how does this relate to AI?
Genetic algorithms are a form of evolutionary computation, which is a branch of artificial intelligence in which evolutionary approaches are used. They use techniques inspired by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and survival of the fittest via natural selection: a population of individuals undergo selection in a system where variation inducing operators such as crossover of genes and ongoing mutations are present. The evolution starts from a population of individuals and happens in generations. In each generation the fitness of every individual in the population is evaluated and based on this multiple individuals are randomly selected from the population and modified (recombined and possibly randomly mutated) to form a new population. The new population is then used in the next generation of individuals. A “fitness function” is used to evaluate individuals, and reproductive success varies with fitness. The results are the average fitness being increased with each generation.
On the racing circuits in Darkwind, Genetic Algorithm- evolved computer agents/drivers are being introduced for specific track/car combinations. Effective racing lines for these combinations are being evolved through the use of waypoints. Computer drivers use these waypoints during the game to influence their behaviour as they navigate static and moving obstacles on the racetrack. This provides an evolved understanding of the overall shape of the track, which in turn yields behaviour which is both more human-like and effective.

Question: In addition to the Genetic Algorithms being deployed in racing circuits, you are introducing a different form of AI in the wilderness areas to improve path finding, obstacle avoidance and terrain navigation. Can you explain this?
The traditional approach to making a computer agent make a routing or "pathfinding" decision is based on computational evaluation of the landscape, for example the distance to get there by various potential routes. It doesn’t necessarily account for terrain, so for example, a computer agent may decide to drive up a very steep embankment, or around the edge of a cliff which a human player would be less likely to do due to the potential for car damage/death. Many of the subtleties of landscape navigation are computationally very hard to evaluate when you take into consideration factors such as momentum, wheel grip, and terrain types. These type of factors are not relevant in most computer games that require pathfinding, yet in Darkwind they are absolutely critical.
Effective combat navigation is as much about mobility as it is about targeting weapons. Rather than making decisions based solely on a computational evaluation of the landscape, what we do is allow the computer agents to make use of the historic data recorded from humans playing the game. The agent doesn’t need to know why a large majority of humans took a certain route across a terrain: it just needs to know that they did so successfully. The computer agent is benefiting from the collective human processing of multiple data forms and is utilising the end results of this human behaviour. The routes taken by human players over thousands of journeys per week as they navigate the wilderness are used as a form of route planning consensus by the computer agents in a similar manner to that of how ants use pheromones to mark their trail and guide following ants. If the trail is successful and more cars use it, the guidance becomes more intense and denser, whereas other trails fade out.
Check out the latest information at the link below.

Darkwind AI Routines
Darkwind: War On Wheels

Mac Games News for Friday, August 27, 2010

Midnight Mansion 2: The Haunted Hills Released6:00 AM
Tasty Planet: Back For Seconds Pre-Order Available6:00 AM
Two Worlds II Q&A6:00 AM
WoW Cataclysm: Death Knight Preview6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, August 27, 2010 on one page

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