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07/29/2007 - 08/04/2007

Quake Wars Beta 2 and QuakeCon

August 03, 2007


I had cheezeburger, and heartily recommend it. It's here! The new Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Beta 2 is underway. The new beta adds a new map -- Valley -- which features four new GDF vehicles to try out. Keys are limited, although some keys are being reserved just for FilePlanet subscribers.

Join the Beta Already!

Of course, if you're already in the beta and already have a key, you can just Download the New Beta Client.

What's New in the Beta?

The new map rages across picturesque Yosemite Valley in the United States. Strogg agents are attempting to poison the water supply here to make the inhabitants susceptible to Stroggification... unless the GDF can put a stop to it. This is a GDF offensive map, starting in the Southern part of the valley and loaded with vehicles. Engineers can set up forward bases and rebuild the bridges in order to claw their way across the map.

Only You Can Prevent Strogg Fires
New vehicles are available -- my favorite being the gunboat, which the GDF can use to rapidly swing up and down the valley via water. Of course, here at FilePlanet, we've only gotten a taste of the new map. The real action happens this weekend once the servers fill up with Strogg and GDF fighters.

During the first beta, everyone spent some time getting a feel for the game. Lots of people ignored the map objectives just to play around with the different weapons or classes. I'm predicting that that won't be the case this time around; get to know the map quick, because the combat is going to be brutal!

QuakeCon is Raging in Texas!

Aside from FilePlanet, the epicenter of the Quake world this weekend is near Dallas, Texas, where QuakeCon 2007 is already underway. GameSpy's got a man on the scene -- Check out GameSpy's QuakeCon Coverage, which includes previews of other maps that will be in the full game. While playing the Quake Wars beta this weekend, you might run across QuakeCon guests partying hard on the Internet servers...

Beta Keys Are Limited!

There are a limited number of keys for this beta. We've set aside a number of keys for subscribers, but both subscriber and non-subscriber keys will go fast. Hop into the Beta!

      -Fargo
Posted by at 9:20 AM PDT
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The MMOs, They Are a-Changin'

August 02, 2007


I had cheezeburger, and heartily recommend it. I've got three pieces of MMO news to chew on for today, pointing to some industry trends. First up? Penguins.

Disney Buys Club Penguin. The media giant bought out the game for $350M, with the promise of an additional $350M if the company meets some revenue goals. Think about THAT: That's nearly three quarters of a billion dollars for a kids' online game that has 700,000 paying subscribers. I've blogged about this trend before, but mass media is definitely investing BIG into the online space. Viacom/MTV are launching new MMO games seemingly every month. Disney had a lot of success with Toontown Online, just released Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and now the company has bought Club Penguin. Disney sees online games as a huge way to keep kids and families close at heart... expect other big media conglomerates to follow suit.

Club PenguinThis also points to a really cool trend, however: Club Penguin is an experimental little game done on a relatively small budget. The creators are now multimillionaires. That bodes well for gamers like you and me -- it can lead to a lot of innovation and new games!

Bethesda's Parent Company, Zenimax, Forms New Online Development Company. We all know Bethesda as the creators of gorgeous games like Oblivion or the upcoming drool-worthy Fallout 3. The new sister-company, headed by Matt Firor (one of the founders of Mythic), will create online games. Will we see an Elder Scrolls Online? Possibly. There's a trend here, though: Big game development studios are branching out with separate divisions to handle MMO games. Last year Bioware unveiled a new Austin-based MMO division. I expect to see more, especially since Blizzard has already proven that a successful game developer can create a mega-hit by taking an existing property online. If they're smart about it.

And finally, Hero Online Bonus Content is Available for all FilePlanet Readers over at the FilePlanet Free MMO Club. Hero Online is a martial arts epic with fast customizable combat. There are two trends of note here: first off, hundreds of MMOs have been created in Asia, and the best ones are being translated for American and European audiences (this one is kind of fun once you get used to the mouse-driven movement.) Secondly, as a way to stay competitive with so many games on the market, I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more games using the 'free-to-play' model. Hell, the Free MMO Club already lists dozens.

Oh, brave new worlds!

      -Fargo
Posted by at 9:55 AM PDT
Permalink

The Agony of Defeat?

July 31, 2007


I had cheezeburger, and heartily recommend it. It's good to be back! Not to be a downer, but for my first post-vacation blog I'd like to talk about defeat. Crushing failure. Abject ownage! Here's the game design question of the day: How do you make combat in a game feel exciting, without punishing failure?

I bring this up because Peter Molyneux, designer of Black & White and Fable, is wrestling with this issue for Fable 2 and is trying to come up with novel solutions. Check out what he says in this Gamasutra interview:
"I hate repetition, sitting through the same cutscenes... At the moment, we have only have tension in combat because players know they'll have to play the game over again if they die. We've been trying to think up a better way of having tension. Everyone is going to die sometime in the game. Death is part of drama but in Fable 2, it won't be a frustrating thing. That's our golden nugget." -Peter Molyneux

Fable 2Instead of forcing players to replay the combat, Fable 2 gives them the option of popping right back up to continue fighting after a laydown, but at the price of acquiring permanent scars and disfigurements for your character. Will vanity be enough of a reason to keep combat tense? That's the question.

This is an age-old design problem that designers have wrestled with for decades. It's an even bigger issue in the MMO space, where penalties for dying are part of the overall game balance between players. Early games made player death a big deal, which made combat hella more tense (although in reality it simply forced players not to take risks.) World of Warcraft moved in a different direction, where the only price for a player death was a short jaunt back to where you died. Players seemed to overwhelmingly like this method better. But at what point is failure such a non-factor that combat is meaningless? That's a tough line to walk.

Speaking of MMOs, the 2Moons Open Beta has started. You can try it out here on FilePlanet, part of our Free MMO Club.

      -Fargo
Posted by at 11:32 AM PDT
Edited on: July 31, 2007 11:36 AM PDT
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