Champions Online is Cryptic Studios' latest entry into the Superhero MMORPG genre, representing several years of advancement in game design both for Cryptic and for MMOs as a whole. It's no longer a new field, and there are now certain expectations about what an MMO should contain, and how it should play. Two major factors to a new game's success or failure are the standards they embrace and do well, and the ones they reject and do differently. Champions Online succeeds at adapting many established concepts, while still setting themselves apart from the typical swords & sorcery backdrop. Read on for the rest of my thoughts.
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An anonymous reader cites a report on The Guardian: Perhaps there's nothing more annoying than going in for the kill to suddenly be "pooped on" by a Windows 10 automatic installation taking out your computer mid-stream to your 130,000 or so followers. After deciding to advertise during the weather by attempting to automatically install midway through a forecast, Windows 10 is starting to wreak havoc with gamers. Ex-professional Counter Strike player turned full-time streamer Erik Flom was rudely interrupted mid-game and live on Twitch by Windows 10 automatically installing on his PC. "What. What!? How did this happen! Fuck you Windows 10!" Flom said. "Oh my God! You had one job PC. We turned off everything. Update faster you fuck!"
It seems that the requirement to be online and save games on a remote server even in single player mode is leading to a less than ideal launch for SimCity 5. choke writes "Players attempting to play EA/Maxis' new SimCity game are finding that their save games are tied to a particular server, are facing problems with disconnects, inability to track friends or search for specific coop games online and failures to load game, and wait times of 20 minutes per login attempt. The question is, why the online restriction? Does this possibly indicate future micro-transactions in game?"
Jon Brodkin writes "The Wii U has been out for two weeks, with most of the attention naturally focusing on the console’s tablet-y GamePad and blockbuster titles such as New Super Mario Bros. U and Assassin’s Creed 3. But $60 games aren’t the only draw on Nintendo’s new system. There are exactly five games on the Nintendo eShop for $20 or less: Nano Assault Neo, Little Inferno, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, Chasing Aurora, and Trine 2: Director’s Cut. You could call most or all of these indie games, depending on your definition of an independent developer." Read below for the rest of Jon's review.
benrothke writes "Anyone who has worked in information technology knows of Gartner. They are one of the leading information technology research and advisory firms. Most of their clients are CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, high-tech and telecom enterprises. Gartner is huge with over 5,000 associates, over 1, 200 research analysts and consultants and clients in 85 countries. Their revenue in 2011 was nearly $1.5 billion. While Gartner is the world's largest, there are over 650 independent analyst firms worldwide. Barbara French's Directory of Analysts provides a comprehensive list. With all that, very few people understand how Gartner works and what makes them tick. In UP and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence: A complete guide to analyst influence, ex-Gartner analyst Richard Stiennon takes the mystery out of Gartner. In particular, a good part of the book deals with Gartner's vaunted Magic Quadrant." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
basscomm writes "Just the other day, it was discussed here on Slashdot that Final Fantasy XIV was released into the world as a buggy, incomplete mess. Now, it's been announced that due to 'generous amounts of player feedback' that lots of changes are coming (honest!). And, as a result, anyone who registers their game before October 25th will have their 30-day trial upgraded to a 60-day trial. But will it be enough to keep the game from hemorrhaging players once the free trials end?"
captainktainer writes "In one of the largest tests of EVE Online's new player sovereignty system in the Dominion expansion pack, a fleet of ships attempting to retake a lost star system was effectively annihilated amidst controversy. Defenders IT Alliance, a coalition succeeding the infamous Band of Brothers alliance (whose disbanding was covered in a previous story), effectively annihilated the enemy fleet, destroying thousands of dollars' worth of in-game assets. A representative of the alliance claimed to have destroyed a minimum of four, possibly five or more of the game's most expensive and powerful ship class, known as Titans. Both official and unofficial forums are filled with debate about whether the one-sided battle was due to difference in player skill or the well-known network failures after the release of the expansion. One of the attackers, a member of the GoonSwarm alliance, claims that because of bad coding, 'Only 5% of [the attackers] loaded,' meaning that lag prevented the attackers from using their ships, even as the defenders were able to destroy those ships unopposed. Even members of the victorious IT Alliance expressed disappointment at the outcome of the battle. CCP, EVE Online's publisher, has recently acknowledged poor network performance, especially in the advertised 'large fleet battles' that Dominion was supposed to encourage, and has asked players to help them stress test their code on Tuesday. Despite the admitted network failure, leaders of the attacking force do not expect CCP to replace lost ships, claiming that it was their own fault for not accounting for server failures. The incident raises questions about CCP's ability to cope with the increased network use associated with their rapid growth in subscriptions."
Michael J. Ross writes "Of the leading content management systems used by developers for creating websites, Drupal is highly regarded for many characteristics, including a much smaller initial footprint, compared to Joomla and other CMSs. Yet some developers find this a disadvantage as well, because one of the most common criticisms leveled against Drupal is its lack of built-in support for images and multimedia elements — thereby forcing new Drupal developers to choose from the thousands of contributed Drupal modules those that would be optimal for implementing their websites' multimedia functionality. Aaron Winborn's book Drupal Multimedia is intended as a guide to help such developers." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
Next Generation (now happily fully merged with Edge) is carrying a story entitled Videogame Usability 101, attempting to lay out some standards for interacting with games. Some of them, like '3. Always let players remap controller buttons to suit their preferences' seems fairly straightforward and hard to disagree with. Others may be a bit more controversial: "4. Always let players skip cut scenes no matter how important they are to the story. What a predicament cut scenes create. As a designer, you want all your hard work to be acknowledged, even the cut scenes. Sadly, interactive entertainment is the name of the game, and it always comes first. That's why gamers play these things. So rather than assume every player wants to watch your story-telling chops, allow them to bypass cut scenes, tutorials, and even speed up the showing of logos when a game boots up. Tell your story through engaging gameplay, and you'll easily be remembered and praised regardless of what you accomplished in a cut scene, tutorial, or start screen branding." Anything on there that you categorically disagree with?
It's been about six months since we took the pen and paper gaming industry's temperature. There have been some important product releases since November, many of them well worth looking at. Steve Jackson Games continues to release books for its Fourth Edition of GURPS, and Wizards of the Coast works to expand the appeal of both the core Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) setting and the Eberron campaign world. Read on for some highlights from the world of tabletop gaming.
The rich IP backgrounds of Square/Enix and the Disney Corporation were thrown together for the first time in 2002. The Square-developed game, entitled Kingdom Hearts, surprised players with a story that blended two very different flavours into a compelling whole. The extent to which that game drew on the respective company's products made for a breathtakingly large world, and a storyline twisty enough to satisfy even the most jaded RPG player. Unfortunately, weak gameplay detracted from the overall experience of the unique title. The sequel, Kingdom Hearts II, picks up the pieces where the original left off and makes noticeable improvements in both story and gameplay. Read on for my impressions of a solid RPG that does fan service like no other title out there.
Via Cathode Tan (who has some commentary of his own on the subject), a Guardian article attempting to ascertain who is at fault for crappy game movies. From the article: "Because, unlike cinema, computer gaming is a medium which requires the player to make things up for themselves. An individual game may be laden with 'plot points' but its narrative is always up for grabs. It is a format of scenarios rather than stories, elements which can be bolted together in differing orders with varying outcomes. Cinema, on the other hand, is designed for people who like to watch and listen, and who expect the film-maker to get their story straight before the movie reaches the theatres. Viewing a film based on a computer game is like hanging around in an amusement arcade, peering over the shoulders of other people playing video games. It has less to do with story-telling than conceptual shelf-stacking. And it is symptomatic of the painful death of the art of narrative cinema."
Late last week, Sony Online Entertainment announced a fundamental revamp in the way that the Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG will be played. The Everquest-like autoattacking gameplay and multitudes of player classes are being removed. This marks the most dramatic change ever made to a MMOG already live, and Sony Online President John Smedley is willing to take questions from the Slashdot community about the changes. One question per comment, and we'll send the ten best questions on to Mr. Smedley. We'll post his answers as soon as they're returned. More details are available below, as are some preliminary responses from Mr. Smedley about the broad picture they're aiming for.
Hardcore gaming gets a lot of press attention for the intense graphics and the meaningless violence. Despite this, there are millions of gamers who enjoy their entertainment in a more casual vein. One of the champs of the casual PC market is Maxis behemoth The Sims 2. The sequel to the original, much expanded, Sims is now working its way through a series of content additions of its own. The most recent expansion for Sims 2 is "Nightlife". This out-and-about addition incorporates much of the "Hot Date" material from the original game, with a generous helping of extras. Read on for my impressions of the latest attempt by Maxis to improve your virtual person's social life.
Spacefaring races always seem to get into trouble, and game designers love to put us into the shoes of the explorers and soldiers of tomorrow. Unfortunately, futuristic titles can be just as tiresome as Dungeon Crawl #457. Both MechAssault 2 and Nexus: The Jupiter Incident are examples of this truism. Both games are well conceived, with fine pedigrees behind them, but neither manages to deliver satisfying gameplay or long-term enjoyment. Read on for my analysis of these two titles...in spaaaaaaaaace.
AdamBa (Adam Barr) writes "Juiced is not a great book. The writing is workmanlike but not particularly entertaining, none of the stories are more than slightly amusing, and its protagonist projects an unappealing mixture of vanity and whining. There is a bit of dirt on players, and a couple of nuggets about Madonna and the sex lives of baseball players (and the intersection of those two), but as a baseball autobiography, it pales besides better competition. And yet, Juiced may be one of the most important baseball books ever written." Specifically, the book provides an insider's account of one aspect of biotech that has achieved widespread use, if not acceptance. Read on for the rest of Barr's review.
An anonymous reader writes "Gamasutra is running a post-mortem on an interactive love story that was written by students. They were attempting a solution to the game designer's challenge from the GDC 2004. From the article: Interaction with video games is currently done at an almost entirely rational level. The player may react to a game emotionally, but the game will never know about it, and thus, never respond to it. We wanted to change this, and have the player interact with the game solely through his own emotions."
Last week, Tycho mentioned a set of questions they'd sent in the direction of the folks at Blizzard regarding the downtime World of Warcraft has been experiencing. Today Blizzard responds to their questions. Tycho agreed to the interview being reposted below the cut, so read on if you'd like Blizzard's response in the face of player frustration.
The original Half-Life is regarded widely as a defining moment in the first person shooter genre. The game's use of story and in-game scripted elements changed the expectations of game players and spawned a bevy of imitators. The sequel, Half-Life 2, has been in the works for almost six years and is one of the most hyped and anticipated games of 2004. It was launched last week after delays, a code theft, and lawsuits frustrated the anxious fans waiting for a chance to play. Post-launch the game has received wide praise and, thanks to the unique distribution and authentication system called Steam, many complaints as well. Read on for my impressions of Valve's Half-Life 2.
My ongoing quest to find the perfect MP3 playing stereo component continues this week with the Rio Central. This is a $1500 box with a 40 gig hard drive that aims to do everything audio, from feeding reciever units, burning CDs, and populating portables, and of course, providing an interface to manage your tunes and play them on your stereo. And it's built on Linux- a USB keyboard is all you need to get to a command line!