Sunday, 31 October 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops - controversy=sales?

Among PC Games, few series have been as successful as Call of Duty. Back in 2003, what seems like a lifetime away in terms of PC gaming, the first Call of Duty game was released; since then six Call of Duty games have come out, and the seventh, Call of Duty: Black Ops (set during the Cold War period), is due for release on November 9, 2010 for PC and consoles. A further game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, is mooted for release in 2011.

Not at all my sort of game, but it has to be admitted that Call of Duty has captured the imagination of modern gamers.with 3 entries in the top 50 highest selling games of all time, and well over a year ago Activision boss Mike Griffiths told the press that total sales for all titles in the Call of duty series had topped 35 million units.  The series has certainly been the focus of a great deal of controversy about its portrayal of terrorist activity within the game.  Whatever individuals' feelings about the content one thing is sure - that this game, with projected sales estimated of over 12 million units, is going to be a massive commercial successful.


CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Strategy Game Release - Operation: FORKLIFT

I've been keeping tabs on this AGS-made strategy game for some time; it's now been released and loos really rather good. Much as I love adventure games, I'm always fascinated by what other genres AGS (Adventure Game Studio) has been successfully used for.

The official release notification:


====================================

Operation: FORKLIFT

  - A turn-based strategy

====================================



The tiny island-chain republc of Vontinalys has been seized by the merciless forces of the Socialist People's Union for Democratic Democracy (S.P.U.D.D.) following the outcome of its first free elections. As a new commander for the League of Nations you must help to lead their elite peacekeeping force, the White Helmets, to victory over the tyrannical military despotism that has ensnared this nation. All the while, getting around the somewhat overinflated ego and reputation of your own leader, Colonel Kraft.





A turn-based strategy inspired by games like the Nintendo Wars series (Advance Wars, Famicom Wars, etc), and the handheld version of EndWar. Featuring:

- strategic/tactical gameplay built out of a system for adventure games, with considerations such as terrain, flanking, and supply-line replenishments.
- seven different units to deploy
- singleplayer campaign, skirmish mode, and two-player hotseat gameplay as either SPUDD, or the League.
- four different endings!
- brilliant soundtrack composed by ShiverMeSideways
- 20% more bears than the next leading strategy!
- In-game editor to craft your own battlefields - which you can then share with your friends!

Your Game Community Needs YOU - SIGN UP FOR ACTION TODAY

Or get it from Gamejolt here!

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

Friday, 29 October 2010

Super Laser Racer 1.3

An updated version of Super Laser Racer is due to be released very soon, featuring new tracks, weapons and other stuff, but best of all... ONLINE MULTIPLAYER! Yes, 12 racers can fight it out against each other on any of the 24 tracks. You can even create your own tracks and share them online. The new version is currently in the last phases of testing so it should be up on Steam soon. This will most likely be a free update for existing customers, so hopefully the multiplayer option will get people playing again and help attract some new players towards the game.

In case you needed more than that to get your anticipation nerves tingling, here's a video:



See also:

Super Laser Racer Review


CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

MicroVolts: New features for Closed Beta

MicroVolts: New features for Closed Beta
New gameplay features, new map options and big Halloween events available today
Markham, Canada 28 October 2010 – Rock Hippo Productions Ltd is pleased to announce that the Closed Beta for MicroVolts (PC), a fast and furious MMO-TPS (Massively Multiplayer Online Third Person Shooter) will receive an update that implements several new features, directly as a result from player feedback:
·         The “Chess” map is now available to all modes, giving players a smaller map for fast paced action.
·         Gameplay additions have been implemented, such as defeated enemies will now drop ammunition.
·         The game has been tweaked and improved, balancing the overall performance and power of the weapons to improve the feel of the game.
Starting today through to November 2nd, we will be running a contest whereby players of MicroVolts are able to submit their own review of the game.  The selected winner will then get the awesome prize of being actually featured in the Open Beta Trailer that’ll be viewed all over the world.
For our Facebook fans, we’re holding a Halloween Facebook Event where each of our fans will receive a free and exclusive Halloween item set which includes themed weapons, masks and items.  To get these, simply go to http://www.MicroVolts.com to connect your Facebook account and become a fan of the MicroVolts Facebook page and we’ll take care of the rest. 
If you haven’t already signed up for a Beta account, you’re not too late. Join in the fun by visiting the game’s website at http://www.MicroVolts.com/. We’re keeping the site updated on a regular basis, giving would-be players an insight into the game and information on forthcoming in-game events that take place during the Closed Beta. Tournaments and other surprise events will be unveiled so make sure to keep a daily check on the site.

About MicroVolts
Pitting players in a war between toy-sized figures in a human-sized world, MicroVolts offers four different characters with a huge choice of customisation ensuring that no two players will ever look or feel the same.  Add these to the visually rich, dynamic worlds, a plethora of weaponry and it makes MicroVolts an adrenaline filled, fast paced shooter that will engage action gamers. 
With easy to master controls, MicroVolts is ideal for new and seasoned players alike as well as offering a true sense of community with its rich social media features.
For more information about MicroVolts please visit www.MicroVolts.com.
About Rock Hippo Productions Ltd.
Rock Hippo Productions Ltd. is a digital media provider and publisher of online, community based video games for distribution to the mass market on a global scale. Founded in 2009, Rock Hippo seeks to provide premier “free-to-play” interactive entertainment, which offers a community and social networking experience to gamers all over the world, resulting in a gaming experience that is second to none.
For more information about Rock Hippo and its current product offerings, please visit  
www.rockhippo.com

Screenshots:






CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

Thursday, 28 October 2010

First detailed look into the extensive Mythos achievement system


High Achievers
First detailed look into the extensive Mythos achievement system

The forthcoming Hack`n`Slash MMO Mythos is soon to  go online with its extensive achievement system. The collectors out there will be well catered  for, but the system offers much more, including bonus features not  usually  associated with this genre, which will have a direct influence on the game. Mythos is not only the first ever Hack`n`Slash MMO, but also the first to include an achievement system of this type.

Achievements are rewards that players receive for completing quests and missions they can collect and upgrade their character attributes. The hundreds of available achievements are ordered into various categories such as Quests, Relics, Hunt, Crafting, or PvP, each conferring a player attribute bonus, such as stamina or movement speed. Each achievement attained can be placed into one of six slots in the achievement system. Doing so activates the attribute bonuses which then have an immediate effect on a character’s capabilities. The rewards placed in the first slot becomes a title which is displayed in front of the character’s name. For example, if a player receives the title ‘Heavy Drinker’, they will receive a health bonus after consuming the required amount of potions  having activated the achievement slot. Another possible reward is ‘Messenger of Death’ which can be attained by defeating a certain number of players.

How players choose to place their achievements is up to them and the order can be altered at any time. This means players can adapt their characters to any situation in an instant.

Further information is available on the official website www.mythos-europe.com, where you can also register for the upcoming closed beta phase.


CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

TERA: Dark mystery meets deadly speed

Dark mystery meets deadly speed
The diversity of TERA: Castanics and slayer in the spotlight

The members of the castanics tribe are marked by a dark past. As such, the castanics are among the most mysterious people in the world of TERA. The slayer class, in contrast, is known for their deadly quickness. The members of this close combat class never take to the battlefields of TERA without their broadswords. In a spotlight Frogster is now releasing information about the tribes and classes from the upcoming online RPG: castanics and slayer.  

Race feature: Castanics
Small in stature with reddish skin, sharp horns, and long ears, castanics possess an indomitable will that belies their devilish appearance. They have more hair color variety than any other race, although their most common hair color is white. Independent and self-sufficient, castanics tend to rely upon their innate individual strengths. They are cunning, strong, and agile, and make great scouts and spies. Since the fall of their god during the Divine War, castanics have suffered prejudice and oppression. Like the high elves, they have a dark history, and the castanic inclination toward fierce independence and dark humor makes many uneasy around them. Still, castanics are an integral part of the federation, valued, if uneasy, allies.

Class feature: Slayer
Slayers use mighty broadswords to sweep their enemies from the field. They prefer the mobility of light leather armor, but their weapons are implements of overwhelming brute force rather than speed or precision. The weight of the broadsword slows their attacks, but when they connect, they deal great amounts of damage. Slayers’ ability to strike from behind make them useful for helping allies who are surrounded by enemies. The slayer's strong Whirlwind attack has several times the power of its basic attack and cuts down enemies on all sides. In order for Whirlwind to do its full damage, the slayer must spend 1.5 seconds “casting” the attack uninterrupted. The cast time might seem like a downside, but the high damage more than makes up for it! A useful attack to use on foes directly in front of the slayer, Trip Attack does high damage with an 8-second cooldown. This skill has a “cast” time of 1.6 seconds, similar to Whirlwind, but if executed it has a great chance of knocking down the slayer's target. For more information visit: www.Tera-Europe.com.

Screenshots:

















CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy Trailer

Due for release on 29th October.




Order it on Amazon.co.uk:



CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

Black Chicken Studios Announces the Release of College Vernin: The Legacy of the Towers, The Second DLC for Academagia: The Making of Mages

Black Chicken Studios Announces the Release of College Vernin: The Legacy of the Towers,
The Second DLC for Academagia: The Making of Mages

San Diego, CA – October 28, 2010 – Black Chicken Studios is proud to present our second free DLC for Academagia: The Making of Mages!

In the old world, King Vernin's realm had many towers, each built according to its own purpose. The King had a magical key which would open each according to his desire, and many treasures were well-hidden within. Vernin was famed for his many gifts, and his vaults were never empty...

What was the foundation of Vernin's prosperity?

This DLC includes:
·         9 new Adventures, themed around the College of Vernin: an ancient debt, the secrets of a library, and the Regent's favor are at stake!
·         20+ new Events, dealing with the various personalities and plans of the Students of Vernin, as well as several diverse Events submitted by the community.
·         1 new Skill, many new Items, and lots of new Abilities, Actions, Locations and Spells means many new ways to grow your Character.

Additionally, Mod Tools have been released, so that players can create their own stories, mysteries and magic!

Academagia: The Making of Mages retails for $24.95 and includes all the fun and adventure of the original game with all new content from College Vernin: The Legacy of the Towers. It is available from www.academagia.com as well as through digital distribution at Beamdog, GamersGate and Impulse.

About Academagia
Academagia is a 2D life simulation PC game for audiences ages 9+, and is parent and child friendly. Our game rewards relationship building, research and knowledge, and encourages the player to create their own individual story each time they play. Role-playing, thoughtful choices and a bit of whimsy permeate game play, and is intended to provide a refreshing alternative to the more violent, destructive and derivative titles in the marketplace.

About Black Chicken Studios
Black Chicken Studios, Inc, was formed in 2007 to provide interesting and novel alternatives to mainstream games, offering experiences which promote creativity, reward knowledge and inspire imagination. It is especially our goal to create games wherein challenges can be overcome by study, diplomacy and character. Our company has an inclusive content philosophy, and makes a practice of incorporating as much work as possible from independent writers and artists.

My review of Academagia


CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

Children of Neinzul Trailer



See Arcen Games' Website for more details.


CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Update Alert - A.I War 4.0

Arcen Games are excited to finally be able to share AI War 4.0 with the world:


AI War 4.0 Windows Installer: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?a7bb2axa4mi657n
AI War 4.0 OSX Installer: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?qkjy6vh9pns5ooj
The Zenith Remnant 4.0 Windows Installer: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?opf09fwr8ducaab
The Zenith Remnant 4.0 OSX Installer: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?jru6jhumak61kzu
Children of Neinzul 4.0 Windows Installer: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?j1qgbnlex8utb96
Children of Neinzul 4.0 OSX Installer: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?i8vh1h2ko5as2dv


This release is unreservedly huge. It's a full re-imagining of AI War, practically a sequel (but free to existing customers). Frankly there were more updates here than in a lot of sequels we've seen. So it is with some difficulty that we compile these highlights, as even the list of highlights is enormous, yet omits a lot of major changes. Listed here are just the things that have changed in the base game itself, this isn't even including all the stuff that was added as part of the new Children of Neinzul micro-expansion. So here we go:
  • A grand total of 147 new ships have been added to the game. Again, this is NOT counting the new ones added as part of CoN. Most of these new ships went to the AI or are things that the players must capture, but there are also dozens and dozens of goodies for the players in the form of new warheads, new mercenaries, new turrets, and new lines of command stations.
  • An enormous graphical overhaul has taken place. Every special effect in the game has been replaced and majorly improved, the HUD and GUI has been completely redesigned and has a cleaner feel to it, and the starfields/nebulae have seen a rather startling improvement as well. Those new ships come with a bunch of new prerendered-3D graphics, as well.
  • The soundtrack to both AI War and The Zenith Remnant have been completely remastered and re-edited, and in a number of cases have new live performances for trumpet and electric guitar (adding to the existing live vocals and piano). The soundtrack for Children of Neinzul was also done at this new quality level, of course. Additionally, two completely-new bonus tracks have been added for free to the base AI War game, and an old track ("Thor") that had been dropped due to quality issues is back and awesome with a live performance. 
  • The interface has been streamlined all over the place, in ways that have really been exciting our hardcore fanbase (who helped design some of the changes). The biggest amongst these changes are perhaps the more-readable galaxy map, the new context menu (alt+right-click) with things like Auto-Gather-Knowledge and special Transport-Unloading logic, the complete removal of "control nodes" in favor of a much cleaner set of menus, and a larger display-on-demand minimap replacement (hold T).
  • Many new teach-yourself-to-play-better features have been added: or, as we like to call them, "discoverability features." The new Objectives and References tabs provide a lot of guidance for players without hand-holding them, a new Tip of the Day system on the main menu shows player-submitted tips, and all of the tutorials in the game have been completely redone and updated, and are more helpful than ever before. A fan even did some awesome new video tutorials for us, which replaced our older 2.0-era series of the same.
  • Along the theme of streamlining: Knowledge raiding has been completely rebalanced to no longer be easy or necessary, returning it to the proper role of "last ditch effort to get out of a hole". This was a really tedious activity since players were embarking on it too often. Similarly, the endgame was ALWAYS a grind in the old versions, to the point where very few players actually won games, but now the endgame has been completely redone and is more exciting and full of back-and-forth power struggles than ever. Gameplay activities that were tedious have been cropped and replaced with something more fun, with a great deal of public player testing and feedback.
  • Brace yourself: but the entire combat, repair, economic, and construction models have been almost completely rewritten. To the novice player these changes are subtle enough that it feels like basically the same game. To the more experienced player, these changes are a dream come true, shaving off rough edges left and right and leaving something simpler and more elegant in its place. We had a corps of 95 community members giving us feedback, after all, so there's been a lot of vetting of this from both newer and experienced players. The main benefits of these particular changes are simplicity, transparency-to-the-player, and internal accuracy in outlier situations.
  • As part of the new combat model, the old concept of "shields" (as distinct from "force fields") has been removed, and the random-hit-chance and range-related components of the hit chance calculations are gone. In place of this is a new, simpler, and far better "armor" system that affects damage output instead of hit chance.
  • One key simplification in this new version is the removal of all the internal ship-specific damage multipliers. In their place, we now have a small number of new "hull types," and ships get visible bonuses against them. This also removes the "Strong Vs and Weak Vs" display in favor of both the raw hull attack multipliers display and a new Reference tab when really detailed data is needed (presumably not often).
  • Following on with those massive changes, every last ship in the game has been rebalanced to a heavy degree, sometimes pretty much completely. With a game of this scope, we expect there are still some rough edges in there, but overall it's far better balanced -- and easier to understand the balance in a meaningful way -- than ever before. As part of this, the turrets and starships have both become a lot more specialized and interesting, and more of them are available to players right from the start of the game.
  • Performance has gotten a major boost in general with the new version, but additionally we now have new "Performance Profiles" that let the game more easily run on a variety of hardware. Best of all, these profiles can be swapped in and out in realtime while playing. This lets borderline computers lower their simulation/graphics load temporarily during a massive battle, then turn those factors back up when the battle concludes. The game in general also now does a better job of degrading its framerate instead of its overall run speed, which is an enormous boon for multiplayer games where one player is on iffy hardware. And as if all that wasn't enough, we also have a variety of simple new performance-diagnosing tools right in the Players tab that lets players see each others' framerates, how fast the game is running at the moment compared to realtime, and other helpful things like that.
  • This next change is also a shocker: we've reduced the default ship caps in the game. The game has always advertised having 30,000+ ships in realtime, but the truth was that often players were running more like 70,000 to 120,000 ships in large games. This was simply more of a CPU drain than it needed to be, and tended to make a lot of the AI worlds a grind. We now have Unit Cap Scales that you can set in the lobby -- and the old "High" option is still there -- but the new default uses about half as many ships, which is still significantly more than we've ever advertised as supporting. And for iffy hardware, you can actually quarter the number of ships in the game, which is ideal for slower laptops or similar.
  • Part of the reason for the shift away from just huge numbers of fleet ships is our new emphasis on larger centerpieces. The AIs have massive new command stations and guard posts, as well as mobile Guardians that not only defend but launch often-brutal counterattacks. Going along with these are the exciting new AI Eye that emphasizes de-blobbing, the new AI Barracks that lets the AIs store up overflow reinforcements for later use, and the AI Carriers which are the late-game AI equivalent of transports. All of these new things take the place of turrets, which the AI no longer uses at all, and in general they lead to a vastly different feel of game. It's a lot quicker to resolve battles (without making you rushed -- just no longer a grind), and in general it makes planets feel more unique and fun before you even get into the various special weapons that have always been a cornerstone of AI War.
  • The AIs aren't the only ones who have been getting a makeover, though. We already mentioned that players now get a lot more starting turrets and starships for free (and both of those unit classes are now far more central to the game). Players also now get a lot more knowledge in general (3,000 per planet now, instead of 2,000), and the player economy -- especially in the early game -- has had a massive boost. Your typical income without economic upgrades will be almost double what it used to be, meaning you can field far more ships, faster, including starships. Speaking of faster, the player ships used to be 1.4x faster than the AI ships, but now they are a full 2x faster. This asymmetry plays well into the enhanced feel of the player as a guerrilla warrior against a superior foe. This unique aspect of the game is really emphasized a lot more, now, and players have responded really well to it in beta.
  • Did we mention Mac OSX support? Thanks to our switch to the Unity 3D engine, AI War is no longer just for Windows. And while Linux isn't directly supported, we have word that it runs flawlessly in the latest versions of WINE. And, along these lines, AI War no longer has any prerequisites -- installation and setup is far more painless than in the past.

And these were just the highlights. Read the full release notes if you want all the gory details: it's taken us 170 days, 81 releases, 95 testers, and untold man-months to get this awesome new version out. We're really excited not only about what is represented here already, but what this re-launch of the game will enable us to do both with future free updates and future paid expansions. Thanks to everyone for their support during this long process!


Read on for information about Children of Neinzul.

Today I am born, today I die.
The Neinzul are an insectoid race of perpetual "younglings" that live for an extremely short span before dying and being superseded by fully-aware and vicious replacements. Their Enclaves form mini-collectives with their own personalities, goals, and desires. In this second expansion to AI War, players face off against the Neinzul minor factions, against new AI types in general, and enlist the help of the friendlier members of this new alien presence.

Enclave Starships bring a long-awaited feature: mobile space docks. New map types and new capturables add more excitement. Optionally, Hybrid Hives bring a new type of AI logic to the game: these free agents are like a coordinated pack of velociraptors hunting you against the backdrop of the regular AI forces. For advanced players, the Hybrid Hives provide more cut-throat opposition than ever.

Child's Play
When you purchase AI War: Children Of Neinzul, you're not only getting an exciting new expansion, you're also supporting an important cause. Arcen Games has partnered with the Child's Play charity, pledging 100% of the profits from sale of Children of Neinzul (excepting any taxes and distributor fees) to helping sick kids in need.  The staff at Arcen has long admired the work done by Child's Play, and we're very excited to finally be able to contribute in a substantial manner.
Key Features
* 36 new ships, including:
   * 5 new ship classes with a variety of abilities.
   * Enclave Starships and Regeneration Chambers for direct unlock.
   * 6 new AI special weapons.
* 6 new AI Types.
* 3 Neinzul alien minor factions (NPCs).
* Devastating new Hybrid Hives AI plot.
* 3 new in-game music tracks, plus a new title music track.
* Two new map styles: X and Concentric Circles.

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Atari and Cryptic Studios announce Champions Online™ FREE TO PLAY for Q1 2011

ATARI AND CRYPTIC STUDIOS ANNOUNCE CHAMPIONS ONLINE™ FREE-TO-PLAY FOR Q1 2011

Free-to-Play Closed Beta Begins November 9, 2010
                                                                                                                               
London, United Kingdom - October 26, 2010 – Atari Europe, one of the world's most recognised videogame publishers, and renowned MMO developer Cryptic Studios have announced today that the superhero MMORPG, Champions Online™, will be free to play beginning Q1 2011. Players will be able to download and enjoy the game at absolutely no cost.

Champions Online free-to-play will also feature additional premium content for purchase. Adventure Packs, items, powers and costume pieces can be selected a la carte inside Cryptic's innovative C-Store. Additionally, current players may continue subscribing as Gold members, while new players may also optionally upgrade to Gold status, which unlocks most of the game's content and includes extra features.

"Transitioning Champions Online to the free-to-play model is a great opportunity to reach a whole new audience of PC gamers that view subscription fees as a barrier to entry," said John Needham, CEO of Cryptic Studios.  "By taking care of our current subscription-based community and welcoming the addition of new players through free-to-play, Champions Online is poised to build upon its success and to establish a new leadership position as the first free-to-play superhero MMO."

Champions Online has been lauded since its launch for the customisation options it gives players. The switch to free-to-play gives players even more control over their gameplay:

·         Unlimited Play Time – Play as much as you like, as long as you like, at absolutely no cost. No subscription or credit card required.

·         Your Own Hero, Your Own Story – Become a hero, encounter his or her Nemesis, and advance to maximum level at no cost.

·         Play Your Way – Utilise the optional web-based and in-game C-Store to purchase gameplay upgrades or additional premium content.

The Champions Online free-to-play closed beta test begins on November 9, 2010 and will be made available to a subset of current players, with potential openings for new users. 

Champions Online brings epic heroism to the MMORPG genre with depth that challenges the most experienced online gamers, while its fast-paced action engages new entrants to the online superhero universe. Join with Defender and the legendary Champions to stop Dr. Destroyer and his minions in the ultimate showdown between good and evil.

To learn more about Champions Online Free-to-Play, please visit:



CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog

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