Monday, December 18, 2006

Virtual Gaming Tabletop Photoset


This is pretty awesome, a photoset of constructing a custom computerized tabletop for gaming. Basically a Dell monitor with a nice case that you can place figures on - this is definately the gem of someone's game night.

Source: Virtual Gaming Tabletop Photoset
Originally published on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 20:22:36 GMT by Josh

Hands-On: Age of Conan

Hands-On: Age of Conan: The Hyborean Adventures

HANDS-ON: Mounted combat, soul corruption, drunken brawling; it is soon time to crush your enemies and see them driven before you.

We've all seen the movies by now. Even the one with the basketball player. And I'll bet you sat through Red Sonja as well. Robert E. Howard's books continue to sell, and their critical appeal hasn't sagged either. When you think about it, Hyborea is the perfect setting for a game. And in the hands of Funcom, why not an MMO?

Set for release around April of next year, Age of Conan is an ambitious project. Let's go down the list of what they have planned.

Under the Hood

That's right, it's coming out on the 360 in the same time frame, although Funcom is still hammering out how they want the console and PC sides to connect -- if at all. Regardless, there will be a DirectX 10 version for Windows Vista, and it will be one of the "featured titles," so you can assume some inter-operability between Windows Live and Age of Conan. Blood and bytes. You'll also be able to use a 360 gamepad on the PC, controlling the action like usual.

We saw "only" the DirectX 9 version, but it still looks pretty darn good, with a long view distance, lots of interesting terrain and architecture, and smooth framerates, even though this build was only certified as alpha. Funcom appears to have worked hard at providing a wide variety of building styles, with thatch huts crowding up against gloomy stone towers. The whole art style is at the opposite end of the spectrum from WoW, which favors blockier shapes and slightly a whimsical character appearance. There's haze in the air, the water ripples prettily, and you should have weather effects out of the box. 7.1 surround sound is also a big factor.

The Background

This is based on Robert E. Howard's books, rather than De Laurentiis' movie adaptations. So while Ahhhnold won't be showing up any time soon, we have a much broader palette we can paint a world with. Along with the Cimmerians, we have the Aquilonians, based roughly on the Romans, and the Stygians, who are like the Egyptians. (Conan's people are comparable to the Celts). They're in an uncomfortable alliance against Thoth-amon.

Your character starts out in a slave ship, with amnesia caused in some way by Thoth. You also have an unusual tattoo. Both of these mysteries will unfold through a hybrid single-player storyline. Your appearance, however, is up to. You can randomize your guy or choose from an expanding list of sliders, nearly to the degree of The Sims. Of course, most of the choices you make won't matter when you're completely dressed up, but some of your choices, like complexion and sheer size, will always be obvious. Your choice of ethnicity will determine what classes (or "archetypes") are available to you, but you won't have to choose a specific role right away. That will be determined in the course of play.

Armor and weapons follow a less fantastic line than in World of Warcraft; you won't find any flaming bathtubs on your shoulders. But you will find the icon-based paper doll inventory.


The Design

You will start out on the beach, having escaped from the slavers, armed only with a broken paddle. Nearby, you will find your first missions; these exchanges take place in a letterboxed style, with dialog choices allowing you to do a little role playing. From there, you'll head into the jungle. Perhaps you'll find more missions along the way, but you will definitely learn how to fight. Melee is much more nuanced than is usual, with several different buttons dedicated to specific attacks. You can sweep around, attacking multiple baddies, or you can leap up and land a devastating blow, or you can stabby stab.

And not only will mounts be available, but you can fight while riding. You may want to stick with your trusty sword, or you can grab a lance for a surprise jousting match. It's up to you. Your combat options are more limited, but you can of course move around the battlefield much faster.

Magic also gets an interesting treatment. The Herald, for example, described as a "melee mage" casts spells on himself for protection and damage. You have to ride a fine line, however, because casting too much magic can turn you into a demon, and that will have some affect on gameplay. However, if you can manage the tightrope, there's Spell Weaving. Basically, you can create your own magic effects; there's a "container" spell, another action inside this that builds upon the first spell, and a "lid" spell to finish things off. This type of magic can be quite powerful, but you will accumulate "soul corruption" and may eventually die, even as the corruption grants you extra powers. When you die, you must fight your way out of Hell. Literally.

The Game World, and Beer

As we mentioned, there's a single-player aspect to this. In fact, you can play the game up to level 80 before you need to enter the online portion. Or you can play this section in "co-op" mode, with a small party of other players. However, the MMO half is where the action is. Here, you can join clans and build your own villages, if you have at least thirty players in your little tribe. It can be your travel hub, trading post, repair shop, and more. You can hire NPCs (non-player characters) to guard the place, peons to do the dirty maintenance work, and there are upgrade tiers for all buildings.

Unfortunately, you could spend hours with this game and only scratch the surface. That's the way it is with MMOs. The universe is complex, in the hopes of keeping people interested in it. Our tour eventually had to be cut short, but not before the Funcom guys showed off the drunken brawling mechanic. No, this ain't a joke.

As it turns out, getting drunk and punching someone in the face can actually turn out to be a good thing. Nobody dies, mind you; instead of death, the loser is just knocked out for a little bit. If you find that the whole thing is not your bag, you can hunt down virtual water and coffee to quicken the path to sobriety (which works a lot faster in a virtual world than it does in Real Life). Adding depth to this minigame is a rock-paper-scissors approach: Different types of alcohol will give you different abilities -- and weaknesses. So you can't simply chain wins together because you press buttons faster than the other violent wino.

We were also shown some Super Secret stuff we can't talk about yet, so keep your eyes peeled in the coming months for an update. It's hard to wait, but at least you don't have to contemplate it on the Tree of Woe.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Arrr, matey: New Pirates of the Caribbean MMO deets



Disney's upcoming MMO based on the wildly successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise released some new assets this week, and you can peep the screenshots after the jump. For the more adventurous among you, try finding the developer's video diary on the Disney site here. It ran our browser into rocky shores more than once, and we had to restart, so beware.
This game won't match the depth of World of Warcraft, and it's looking a bit like MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach with pirate outfits on, but we have to admit it looks fun. You get to outfit your own pirate, rig out your ship and set out to make a name for yourself. Plus, you'll be able to interact with characters from the game, including Captain Jack Sparrow. Who knew that Disney would get such mileage out of Depp basically playing "a gay Keith Richards"? Those are the Disney execs words, not ours ... but if Keith Richards was a gay pirate, that might be pretty spot-on.
The game runs on PCs and not Macs, which is a bit ironic considering that Disney bought Pixar earlier this year ... which was owned by Apple head honcho Steve Jobs. We suppose it's fitting, considering that most pirates are on PCs anyhow *ducks incoming cannon fire*.
Check out the screenshots after the jump, and drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Continue reading Arrr, matey: New Pirates of the Caribbean MMO deets


Source: Arrr, matey: New Pirates of the Caribbean MMO deets
Originally published on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 21:55:00 GMT by Kevin Kelly

Phat Loot Phriday: The Ravager


Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Instances, Quests, Features

Blades of Light! In one of the best-loved (and most traveled) instances in the game, you'll find this axe with what might be the most fun proc in the game.
Name: "The" Ravager (it's actually just Ravager, but this weapon is so cool it deserves to be singular)
Type: Rare Two-hand Axe
Damage / Speed: 104-157 / 3.50 (37.3)

  • For the down and dirty on today's Phat Loot, we're going straight to Isobelle over at Not Addicted, who says, "Why do I have such a stiffy for this Radiant Shard in Waiting? Take a look at that proc!
    Chance on hit: You attack all nearby enemies for 9 sec causing weapon damage plus an additional 5 every 3 sec.
    Are you kidding me? ALL NEARBY ENEMIES? Whirlwind hits only four additional enemies, has a ten second cooldown, only works in berserker stance, and has a cost of what some might call "much rage". This thing costs zero rage, works in any stance, and will hit as many enemies as you can get into melee range before it procs." Yeah. She loves it. And we do too.
  • The only problem? Whenever it procs, you stand there spinning for the whole nine seconds, whether there are enemies around when you're done or not. We're talking endless entertainment here. Isobelle: "It procs All Day Long. It procs procs, which then proc a proc. We've seen it go 4 times in a row, which can be a good thing, or a bad thing. That's like 20 seconds of whirlwind vortex love (when it re-procs, the 9 second timer resets, so you don't get a full 4x9 out of it), but sometimes you want to turn it off. You can't."
  • And Isobelle didn't mention it, but we will: the thing looks darn cool, too. As part of Herod's Scarlet set, it goes especially well with his helm and half-shoulder, too.
How to Get It: No quests, just lots of elite, instanced killing. The Ravager drops from Herod, the last boss in the Armory part of the Scarlet Monastery (to get inside there, you'll need the key from the end of the Library wing, but everyone runs SM all the time, so it's likely someone you know will be able to get you in with or without the key). The drop rate stands at about 12%, which isn't bad, but the fact is that this axe is great for anyone who can use a two-hander, so if you have any other heavy melee classes in your group, it's likely you'll have to win a roll for it.
Oh, and if you haven't noticed yet, Herod yells "Blades of Light!" a lot. Isobelle recommends setting up a macro to /yell that phrase whenever this procs, and we concur.
Getting Rid of It: BOP, Disenchants into a Small Radiant Shard, sells to vendor for 1g 89s 23c.


Source: Phat Loot Phriday: The Ravager
Originally published on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 19:17:00 GMT by Mike Schramm

DDO: December 12 updates


DDO banner

Get ready for another round of Dungeons and Dragons updates, dear readers. This week's post-maintenance updates are going to be dealing with one of the game's new zones: The Tomb of the Crimson Heart. This one will be delving into the maps of the said area, and a full bestiary so that you guys will know what's going to be greeting you when you decide to explore the spot.
And in related news, there's also data on a new NPC - Fram Redbones. If the name's any hint, he's the go-to guy for the guys who'd like to try out the "The Tomb of the Crimson Heart." Fram will be guiding your party through the quest, giving hints on who to bring, and what you need to do to prep for your final confrontation with Khnumhotep, the area's resident boss.
That's the skinny on the stuff that's up for reading on this update. The full monster list, the maps, and the detailed instructions from Fram are allk listed below. Good hunting.
New Bestiary : Barrow Wight  - Carrion Feeder  - Charnel Wight  - Corpse Glutton  - Death's Advocate  - Gallows Wight  - Grim Harvester  - Kabram the Vile  - Khnumhotep  - Pestilent Huntsman  - Priest of the Crimson Heart  - Risen Servitor  - Scion of Wrath  - Sepulcher Wight  - Shrouded Terror
New NPCs : Fram Redbones
New Quests : The Tomb of the Crimson Heart
New Zones : The Necropolis - The Tomb of the Crimson Heart

Source: DDO: December 12 updates
Originally published on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 13:14:18 GMT by Tim Y.

Perpetual Entertainment's response to reports of employee lay-offs


PerpetualThere have been reports that Perpetual Entertainment allegedly laid off 35 of its employees, citing budget issues related to the delay of its MMORPG Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising, or so says an anonymous employee. Gamasutra reports that the delay of the MMO release was believed to be an estimated six to ten months.
The layoffs are supposedly a cost-saving measure to accommodate the increase in the development time. The terminations also included several members of the development team of Star Trek Online.
Contrary to earlier reports, an official statement on behalf of Perpetual president and co-founder Chris McKibbin was posted on the God & Heroes community forums. It says that the delay of the game is related to feedback from beta testers, and that the Gods and Heroes development team remains over 80 people strong. The statement reads:

As some of you may have heard we have made some staffing changes at Perpetual. We are proud to announce that we are within a month of being content complete on Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, our upcoming AAA MMO title. As we achieve this major development milestone, a number of content production roles come to an end. The Gods & Heroes team remains over 80 talented people strong as we enter the final phase prior to launch -- play-testing and tuning to deliver the highest quality game possible.
In addition, because we value the feedback our beta testers have been giving us, and because we want to ship the highest quality game possible, we have moved our target ship date from the spring to the summer of 2007. This extension of the testing and tuning phase of the project will allow us to focus entirely on making a great game which is our #1 goal.
Perpetual remains 100 committed to shipping a fantastic Gods & Heroes game and to continuing development of the much-anticipated Star Trek Online.

Community response regarding the delay seems positive. Apparently people just want the game polished really well. For more info on the Official Statement and player response feel free to use our read-link below

Source: Perpetual Entertainment's response to reports of employee lay-offs
Originally published on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 13:43:39 GMT by Ian C.

Tier 5 stats taken from Burning Crusade beta


It was just only yesterday when we hosted the full intro cinematic for WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade. We know that the three-minute video clip excited the hell out of you (probably caused some to have goosebumps). We know because we felt it too. Anyway, we'd like to share with you something, probably not as bone chilling as the intro but definitely as exciting.
We came across a picture compilation of the Tier 5 stats from the BC beta. Details for some classes are missing but the pictures are a big help. The images are of the Priest, Mage, Paladin, Warlock, Rogue and Hunter. All in all, the stats are okay, nice upgrades from the previous ones. They are not what exactly the fans asked for, but we suppose we all could work with it for now.
We hope though that something would be done on the Priest side of things. The way we understand it, some players took offense because of the rather steep requirements brought by patch Before the Storm. At any rate, here are the pictures. Study them well and hard. After that, maybe you can tell us your thoughts about it.

BC Tier 5 stats - Image 1BC Tier 5 stats - Image 2BC Tier 5 stats - Image 3
BC Tier 5 stats - Image 4 BC Tier 5 stats - Image 5 BC Tier 5 stats - Image 6

Source: Tier 5 stats taken from Burning Crusade beta
Originally published on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 14:40:17 GMT by Ryan A.

Take a journey with more stunning Vanguard screens


Vanguard - Image 1Vanguard - Image 2

Everyday is indeed a winding road. You take the high road, I'll take the low road, he takes the by-ways, and she takes the path less-traveled by. What with all these songs, poems, idioms, and sayings all referring to getting somewhere, one cannot help but feel as if there's this sort of universal fixation with being able to arrive at your destination.
However, some would say that the journey itself is much more fulfilling than getting to your destination. Want some proof? We've got five lined-up as evidence today: Sony and Sigil Games Online have just released a couple of new screenshots for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

These screens show the various surroundings of the world of Telon. We see trees of green, red roses too... And we think to ourselves, what a wonderful world! There's magical ruins, majestic valleys, and hundreds of other points of interest to play as the stunning backdrop for your journey.

What a wonderful world... - Image 1What a wonderful world... - Image 2What a wonderful world... - Image 3



Source: Take a journey with more stunning Vanguard screens
Originally published on Fri, 15 Dec 2006 16:48:48 GMT by Gino D.

Age of Conan screens, and Age of Conan screams 360


Barbarian like bnig brawl!

Lush, tropical, and rugged is how barbarian likes it. Here be a tonnage of screens from Funcom's Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures to sweat to. Big, hairy barbarian also very happy to see a few scenes of combat against fellow barbarians and big, scary spiders. Doesn't take much to make barbarian happy, don't it? (Especially if Funcom throws in a drunken brawl every night...).
Ah, but big, hairy barbarian want to take 360 wireless controller and beat big scary creatures with it. Now it's possible. Funcom announced that Microsoft "gave them the green light" to dev their MMO for the Xbox 360, too. Says Trond Arne Aas, Big Barbarian Chief of Funcom, "This is a groundbreaking leap forward for Funcom. The fact that we now get the chance to develop Age of Conan for the Xbox 360 means access to a potentially whole new and large MMO market."
Interesting to see where this goes - Age of Conan is one of the Windows Vista showcase titles, and we're quite curious to see simultaneous Windows Live/Xbox Live multiplayer in the same manner as Shadowrun's. More puny skulls for barbarian to crush.

Roughing it... - Image 2Roughing it... - Image 3Roughing it... - Image 4
Roughing it... - Image 5Roughing it... - Image 6Roughing it... - Image 7Roughing it... - Image 8
More roughing it... - Image 2 More roughing it... - Image 3 More roughing it... - Image 4
More roughing it... - Image 5 More roughing it... - Image 6 More roughing it... - Image 7


Source: Age of Conan screens, and Age of Conan screams 360
Originally published on Sat, 16 Dec 2006 00:59:24 GMT by Chris L.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Conan set to rule on Xbox 360


MMO given green-light by Microsoft

Source: Conan set to rule on Xbox 360
Originally published on Tue, 12 Dec 2006 16:19:24 GMT

Second Life is growing


I stared stupidly at these graphs for approximately 30 minutes and I finally came to a definite conclusion. Second Life is growing at a steady pace and in all the right places. The numbers are rising, from the number of Premium Residents to Economic Activity.
im not much of an numbers personAccording to the first one (just click on the graphs to view them in their full glory), the number of Premium Residents has steadily increased from 5,000 at the start of 2005 to over 36,000 by the end of November 2006. Net growth in Premium accounts is up from 10 to 30 each month since 2005. Also, 90,000 unique Residents have been reported to have bought currency from the exchange, so basically, Premium Residents aren't the sole contributors to the economy.
i'm starting to get a headacheAnother thing shooting up is the regions of land owned by Residents. First, to be able to own virtual land, Residents need a Premium Account. Second, Residents, who already own land, pay a monthly maintenance fee. Landowners increase, therefore Linden Lab's revenues increase. Do the math. According to zeelinden, "In 2006, I expect that 70 of Linden Lab s revenue will come from land sales and maintenance fees."
all those hours spentUser hours and concurrent users in-world have also increased dramatically. In November 2006 alone, Residents collectively spent more than 6.4 million hours in-world. Users used up around 30 of user hours building and scripting content in-world. Women are estimated to make up about half of the total user hours each month. User hours contributed by new sign ups from outside the U.S. and by non-U.S. Residents show the fastest growth.
money, money, moneyThe LindeX is the in game virtual currency market. Residents can buy and sell Linden Dollars (L ) in exchange for real cash, virtual or real goods and services. They can even sell their Lindens on the exchange and use the resulting profit to pay the maintenance fees on their land. Since its launch in October 2005, more than US 15 million dollars worth of Lindens have been traded. Reportedly, many Residents earn enough money from in-game businesses and trading that Second Life becomes their sole source income.
The last graph is for those who monitor the economic activity of the Second Life. As far as I can tell, it shows that the in-game economy is steady despite growth; as a result, predictions regarding growth is accurate since the numbers are consistent.

Source: Second Life is growing
Originally published on Thu, 14 Dec 2006 03:54:47 GMT by Rio S.