A feature at Gamasutra examines one of the foundations of many MMORPGs — the idea that class roles within such a game fall into three basic categories: tank, healer, and damage dealer. The article evaluates the pros and cons of such an arrangement and takes a look at some alternatives. "Eliminating specialized roles means that we do away with boxing a class into a single role. Without Tanks, each class would have features that would help them participate in and survive many different encounters like heavy armor, strong avoidance, or some class or magical abilities that allow them to disengage from direct combat. Without specialized DPS, all classes should be able to do damage in order to defeat enemies. Some classes might specialize in damage type, like area of effect (AoE) damage; others might be able to exploit enemy weaknesses, and some might just be good at swinging a sharpened bit of metal in the right direction at a rapid rate. This design isn't just about having each class able to fill any trinity role. MMO combat would feel more dynamic in this system. Every player would have to react to combat events and defend against attacks."
Earlier this month, we discussed news that Sega's new Aliens vs. Predator video game had been refused classification in Australia, effectively banning it. After a scathing response from the developer saying they wouldn't censor the game, and later news that the classification scheme may be updated to include an R18+ rating, it now seems that the Classification Board has seen fit to give the game a green light after all. Sega's Darren Macbeth told Kotaku, "We are particularly proud that the game will be released in its original entirety, with no content altered or removed whatsoever. This is a big win for Australian gamers. We applaud the Classification Review Board on making a decision that clearly considers the context of the game, and is in line with the modern expectations of reasonable Australians."
coondoggie writes "NASA is looking to reduce the deadly impact of helicopter crashes on their pilots and passengers with what the agency calls a high-tech honeycomb airbag known as a deployable energy absorber. So in order to test out its technology NASA dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet to see whether its deployable energy absorber, made up of an expandable honeycomb cushion, could handle the stress. The test crash hit the ground at about 54MPH at a 33 degree angle, what NASA called a relatively severe helicopter crash."
One year after its rocky launch, Age of Conan has stabilized and seen a growth in its player base, reports FunCom. What's more, they say, is that players seem to be playing for longer periods of time as well. Game Director Craig Morrison said in his May letter that work on the next major update, 1.05, is nearing completion, and provided some more details about the new features. This is the same patch which, due to the sweeping stat and equipment changes, will allow players who have a character at level 50 or higher to create a brand new character already at level 50. Reader Kheldon points out a two-part interview with Morrison in which he discusses the laundry list of changes they've made in the past year to improve the game, as well as some broader thoughts about storytelling in the MMO genre. FunCom also released some early details yesterday on two new, free-to-play MMOs they're working on, one of which is browser-based and one of which is Java-based.