An anonymous reader writes "After their online store accidentally spilled the beans last week, Blizzard has now confirmed plans to let players pay $60 to boost one of their World of Warcraft characters to level 90, the current cap. At Blizzcon a few months ago, the company unveiled the game's next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, currently in development. When it comes out, they're giving every player a free boost to 90 in order to get to the new content immediately. They say this was the impetus for making it a purchasable option. 'It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service.' Why $60? They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.' Lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas said, '[L]eveling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.'" On one hand, I can appreciate that people who just want to get to endgame content may find it more efficient to spend a few bucks than to put a hundred hours into leveling a new character. On the other hand, I can't help but laugh at the idea that Blizzard will probably get a ton of people paying them to not play their game.
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eggboard writes "Henk Rogers was a Dutchman who arrived in Japan in the 1980s following a girlfriend (later, his wife). An inveterate D&D player, he became enthralled with the NEC-8801, and nearly killed himself trying to create a D&D-like world that he released as The Black Onyx. No one initially knew what to make of it, and the game sold slowly at first. Through savvy pricing, packaging, and press attention, sales grew, and the game jumpstarted RPGs in Japan. Rogers got left behind, though, as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy hit a local nerve better than his efforts. 'I also realized that I didn't quite understand the Japanese aesthetic and way. These games were quite different to mine, and just struck a more effective cultural chord.' Rogers went on to license Tetris to Nintendo, though, so he did just fine."
Emmett has a good rep as a video game music composer, and he's worked on a number of Star Trek-related projects, including the recently-released audio book, How to Speak Klingon: Essential Phrases for the Intergalactic Traveler. Emmett freely admits that he has no experience with RPG games. The closest he's come was running a major D&D meetup some years back. But he has experience and contacts developed from many years working online not only within the Star Trek community but (years ago) on Slashdot and as editor for Linux.com. And, he says, when he was a teenager he ran comic book stores. So is Emmett suited to run an RPG company? Possibly. He's actively looking for games to publish. Sales aren't going to start for six months or so, so there is no website for Arrakeen Tactical quite yet. Until there is one, you can contact Emmett about his game venture by emailing angelaATclockworkjetpack.com.
In 1990, a development studio called Toys for Bob created a game called Star Control, a fun little space combat game with a bit of strategy added in. In 1992, they released Star Control 2, a full-blown space adventure RPG, which became one of the seminal works of early PC gaming. (Later open-sourced and released for modern systems.) After that, creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III lost control of the franchise to Accolade, who botched Star Control 3 and eventually abandoned the series. Last July, Stardock, the studio behind Sins of a Solar Empire, acquired the rights, and they're now discussing their plans to resurrect the classic series. They'll be using Star Control 2 as a template and an inspiration for all aspects of the game, though they won't be using any of the IP from Star Control I & II. They've also contacted Ford and Reiche and will try to hold true to their creative intentions. (The two currently run an Activision game studio, so they won't be involved with the new game.) Production will begin this winter.
An anonymous reader writes "Lord of the Rings: Online's latest expansion, Helm's Deep, involved cutting many skills for all classes, with a only a handful reclaimable through the new, 1-dimensional trait trees. If you're not an end-game raider, you're out of luck. And if you are, you can now play your character perfectly with only one or two buttons. Like many who preordered the expansion, I feel robbed and I'm joining the mass exodus. What do you folks suggest? How do Guild Wars 2, RIFT, World of Warcraft and all the other MMORPGs stack up these days? What else would you recommend looking at?"
With three letters, you can get most gamers' attention: MMO. With three more, you can just as quickly inspire skepticism and doubt: FPS. Ever since the MMORPG craze got underway, players and developers have been looking for ways to meld it with the FPS craze that's been going on since the days of Doom. Unfortunately, it's proven much more difficult than expected. The spectrum ranges only from high profile failures, like Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, to minor successes, like the Planetside games. That's why Red 5 Studios, a company built upon industry veterans from studios like Blizzard, has been hesitant to throw around the term 'MMOFPS' to describe its first game: Firefall. They say emphatically that it's 'a shooter first and foremost,' and that it also has MMORPG elements. It's more than an academic distinction; they feel that you can't simply cobble together two different genres. In order for the game to work, it has to do the shooter part well, with the relevant RPG parts (character advancement, a persistent world, crafting, etc.) added only in service to the shooter aspect. As Firefall takes shape in an open beta period, it's clear that this is the proper approach. Red 5's unfinished experiment is promising.
Incarnate-VO writes "Many-platform space MMORPG Vendetta Online has added another first, with the official launch of support for the Oculus Rift family of head-mounted VR displays. The VR adds another level of immersion to the twitch-combat space title." A few limitations: Windows only (because the Rift only supports Windows), some effects are disabled, and the developers still want to tweak things like the HUD. But it's a good first step, and supports both the low-res and high definition revisions of the Occulus Rift.
An anonymous reader writes "Interesting behind the scenes interview with the creator of Paper Sorcerer, the stunning hand drawn RPG video game that was successfully Kickstarted last year and is now nearing launch. Jesse Gallagher, the artist single-handedly creating the game in Unity, has painstakingly drawn out each character and environment across all 50 dungeons. He estimates he's gone through at least 600 pages of drawings in his notebooks in the process, and had to scan them all in — but he says it's worth it to give artists more control over the games they work on. 'I was disappointed with how little input the artists had into the overall game design, so I decided to go the solo dev route,' he says. 'Now I'd like to just continue making indie games until I fall over dead at the keyboard.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The thirteenth annual Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming has five contenders: Wil Wheaton's "Tabletop" YouTube video series; the massive history of gaming book Playing at the World ; the Metatopia gaming convention where designers pay for access to alpha gamers; the romance-genre card game Love Letter ; and the RPG Dog Eat Dog in which players explore the dynamics of colonialism. When it comes to this award, typically all of the nominees are worth checking out."
hypnosec writes "World of Warcarft, the gaming industry's most popular franchise and one of Blizzard's cash cows, is bleeding subscribers with 1.3 million defecting from the game in the first quarter of 2013 alone. Blizzard revealed a subscriber decline of over 14%, the total now standing at 8.3 million in their earnings call press release (PDF)."
An anonymous reader writes "You see those stories popping up every now and then — new Dreamcast game released, first SNES game in 15 years etc — but an in-depth feature published today takes a look at the teams behind the retro revival, and looks at why they do what they do. Surprisingly, there seems to be a viable audience for new releases — one developer says his games sell better on Dreamcast than they do on Nintendo Wii. Even if the buyers vanished, the retro games would still keep coming though: 'I wager I'd have to be dead, or suffering from a severe case of amnesia, to ever give this up completely,' says one developer." Update: 03/23 18:28 GMT by T : If you want to play original classic games on new hardware, instead of the other way around, check out Hyperkin's RetroN 3, which can play cartridges from 5 classic consoles.
rcade writes "Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, the creators of the old-school super-hero roleplaying game Villains & Vigilantes, have won a copyright and trademark lawsuit over the game's publisher Scott Bizar of Fantasy Games Unlimited. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey of the U.S. District Court of Arizona ruled that Jeff Dee and Jack Herman own the rights to the game based on the 1979 contract they reached with Bizar. The court also found that Bizar never had the right to sell derivative products or ebook PDF editions, which are a big deal to tabletop publishers these days. Too bad this judge didn't hear Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's case."
New submitter abuelos84 writes "Just a few hours after the Kickstarter project was opened to the public, Torment: Tides of Numenera, successor of the legendary Planescape:Torment, had been funded. In the dev's own words: 'Our heads are still spinning at the incredible response we have had from today's support of our Kickstarter campaign. We had plans to roll out our stretch goals and to write our Kickstarter updates but never in our wildest dreams did we think we would fund this quickly!!! We are joyfully scrambling right now to get a longer update and some stretch goals in front of you as soon as we can. We should have more to say later today.'"
jjohn writes "Wizards of the Coasts, holders of the TSR catalog, have released rulebooks and modules for most editions of Dungeons and Dragons through a partnership with DriveThruRPG.com. The web site, dndclassics.com, may be a little overloaded right now. Most module PDFs are $4.99 USD." The article points out that these are all fresh scans of the old books. It's also worth noting that the decision to make these PDFs available reverses WotC's 2009 decision to stop all PDF sales because of piracy fears. The only reference to this in the article is a quote from the D&D publishing and licensing director: "We don't want them to go to torrent sites. Why not give them a legal route?"
An anonymous reader writes "PC Gamer has put together a huge list of PC games that are due to come out in 2013. They've broken out the lists by genre, and each list is pretty long. It looks like a good starting point for finding the games you want to keep an eye on. Here are some highlights: Star Wars 1313: 'Early glimpses suggest the game will ignore lightsabers and force powers in favor of gadgetry and guns, and the claims are for a more grounded and gritty fiction, instead of the fruity pan-galactic melodrama to which we are accustomed.' The Elder Scrolls Online: 'The real reason to watch The Elder Scrolls Online is the talent behind it – the ex-Mythic developers responsible for the innovative Warhammer: Age of Reckoning and, before that, Dark Age of Camelot. Don't write off the old-school MMO just yet.' Mars: War Logs: 'Say it with me: a cyberpunk RPG set on Mars. That's all you need to know.' Ring Runner: 'Missions challenge you to escape exploding trenches, battle bosses bigger than your screen, race against NPC pilots and engage in spectacular space skirmishes in an engine modeled on the laws of Newtonian physics.' There will also be new installments of Dragon Age, SimCity, Grand Theft Auto, StarCraft, Command & Conquer, and Everquest."
Aglassis writes "Eurogamer has reported that famed D&D and computer game designer Colin McComb is working on a spiritual sequel to Planescape: Torment. The game will be set outside of the Planescape campaign setting due to an inability to come to an agreement with Wizards of the Coast. The lead designer on the original game, Chris Avellone, has apparently given his blessing." McComb posted recently about the nature of Planescape and what would define a new game. He wrote, "Any setting that rewards the player for internal exploration (certainly deeper than, 'Can I hit it? How much loot does it have?') could host a similar story. As long as there’s a fantastical element to the world–whether straight fantasy or science-fantasy–these questions become possible and desirable. The farther away we stray from comfortable routine, the more likely we are to challenge ourselves, trying to define our place in the world. A boring setting frequently leads to boring questions; we know the drill and don’t have to examine it closely. But a fantastic setting forces us to re-examine the world, to take it in a fresh light, and to see that our fundamental truths may be flawed. That is at the heart of a Torment story."
An anonymous reader writes "Alex Norton is the man behind Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox, an upcoming indie action-RPG. What makes Malevolence interesting is that it's infinite. It uses procedural generation to create a world that's actually endless. Norton jumped into this project without having worked at any big gaming studios, and in this article he shares what he's learned as an independent game developer. Quoting: "A large, loud portion of the public will openly hate you regardless of what you do. Learn to live with it. No-one will ever take your project as seriously as you, or fully realize what you're going through. ... The odds of you making money out of it are slim. If you want to succeed, you'll likely have to sell out. Just how MUCH you sell out is up to you.' He also suggests new game devs avoid RPGs for their first titles, making a thorough plan before you begin (i.e. game concepts explained well enough that a non-gamer could understand), and considering carefully whether the game will benefit from a public development process."
In this video (with transcript) we review the newest expansion to World of Warcraft, titled Mists of Pandaria. This is the fourth expansion to Blizzard's successful MMORPG, and while the quality of the content remains high, it's becoming increasingly apparent that they're basing it on a game that's been under development for over a decade. On top of that, the MMORPG genre itself is evolving, and though World of Warcraft remains a juggernaut of the industry, juggernauts are tougher to steer, and less adaptable to players' changing demands. The question for the success of an MMORPG expansion isn't simply "does it entertain?" It is: "does it entertain, and for how long?" Mists of Pandaria succeeds on the first count — it refreshes the gameplay, dangles new carrots in front of the players, and brings much-needed improvements to older systems. But keeping players engaged for a long time will be much more difficult. Hit the link below to watch/read our review.
First time accepted submitter e-sas writes "Researchers from the University of Bristol have built a new type of display which allows both a shared view and a personalised view to users at the same time. Through the two view-zones, PiVOT provides multiple personalized views where each personalized view is only visible to the user it belongs to while presenting an unaffected and unobstructed shared view to all users. They conceive PiVOT as a tabletop system aimed at supporting mixed-focus collaborative tasks where there is a main task requiring the focus of all individuals of the group but also concurrent smaller personal tasks needing access to information that is not usually shared e.g. a war-room setup. Imagine you and your friends playing multiplayer Starcraft on one big screen instead of individual computer screens!"