October 2005 Archives
October 31, 2005
Blizzcon is done, the new World of Warcraft expansion has been officially announced, so ... now what? What do all these new changes mean? Since I have unofficial connections at Blizzard and have been playing WOW over the past four years (yes, you read that right) I thought I would put some of the larger rumors and questions to rest. If you have any other questions let me know and I'll do my best to answer them...
But weren't the Blood Elves/High Elves on the side of the Alliance?
So what is the new Alliance race going to be?
Why not the Pandaren? Why are so many other sites reporting the Pandaren as the new Alliance race?
Could this change at all? Could the Alliance get the Pandaren?
Why raise the level cap to 70?
But what about my Tier 1 and 2 gear from Onyxia and Ragnaros? Won't that get nerfed because of level 70?
When is expansion coming out?
Why so long?
So what about those rumors about Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 being revealed at Blizzcon?
October 28, 2005
So it's official. The new World of Warcraft expansion has just been announced by Blizzard and The Burning Crusade web site has been opened. Again, I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but here are the details:
Okay, I usually don't approve of gaming magazine scans, but the info in here is quite good ... and in English. Basically everything that I posted about yesterday is in here but in a lot more detail. What do you guys think? Here are the links (some people are having issues with these, there are others below): Pages 1-2, Pages 3-4, Pages 5-6, Pages 7-8, and Pages 9-10.
Also a bit of info about the origin of the scans (this letter wasn't written to me, rather the person who posted the original scans):
This is Jeff Green, editor-in-chief at CGW, and was just alerted to the fact that this article has been posted here. Now, I'm a reasonable guy and also a smart guy, so I knew the article would get scanned and posted right away. I can deal.
October 27, 2005
In just one more day none of this will matter anymore, but I figured it was worth the post to straighten out what we know about the World of Warcraft expansion. My buddy from Blizzard said the following after he read last week's speculation article, "you can say you know someone from Blizzard who says that 'leak' is speculation at best, and a lot is just made-up stuff."
However, I was able to find out a few interesting things that will be revealed at BlizzCon on Friday.
A few other interesting tidbits that I managed to find out. New raids will, if anything, require less people and not more. New high-level instances are going to be much shorter to allow for easier re-raiding and group looting. There will be tons of new areas opened up for players, including (perhaps) a raid instance in Tanaris that will allow to travel in the time and participate to the most important events of the story of Azeroth. Also the actual release of the expansion is a long way off (expected around May 2006). Hence a lot, and I mean a lot, can and will change from now until then.
And one final note ... yes, the level cap is going up to 70. Get ready to start grinding again!
October 26, 2005
So what's going on between Blizzard and the Xbox 360? There have been several "leaks" over the past few months, including the "accidental" listing of StarCraft: Ghost for next-generation consoles, an hour-long "Microsoft Next Gen Platform" presentation at BlizzCon this Friday, and several "Next-Gen" programming positions on the Blizzard jobs board.
Most likely Blizzard will simply be showing an Xbox 360 version of StarCraft: Ghost, but there is the possibility that they will be announcing an Xbox 360 version of World of Warcraft. However, I have confirmed that Greg Canessa (Group Manager of Xbox Live Arcade) will be at BlizzCon this weekend.
Why is the Manager of Xbox Live Arcade attending BlizzCon? Is he there just to hang out and play World of Warcraft with the masses or is he going to be announcing something? Very interesting. Well, BlizzCon starts on Friday so we'll all know soon enough!
UPDATE: This afternoon Blizzard changed their BlizzCon schedule and the mysterious Microsoft presentation was renamed to "MS Windows Vista Presentation". Hum, perhaps Greg is just going down to BlizzCon to play games and geek-out with the rest of us? We shall see...
October 24, 2005
Xbox Live's Major Nelson where we chat about the new Xbox Live, cool new Xbox 360 features, Major's gaming history, German booth babes, and much more. Check it out. Gaming Steve Episode 24 Program
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October 20, 2005
Perhaps the only thing we know for a fact is that in ten days at BlizzCon the new World of Warcraft expansion will be released. But until then let the speculation/guessing begin!
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit just came from the site WOWGuru where someone posted an extremely detailed overview of the WOW expansion plan. Who knows if this is accurate or total bullcrap, but it "seems" to be legit.
What I do know is that the expansion will be massive and not just a simple content update and according the post the expansion will be massive and include two new races, a new class, a higher level-cap, new transportation methods, a huge number of new instances and locations and more. Hence, I believe this post to be pretty close to the "real deal". Or it's the work of a very imaginative (and creative) poster, what do you think?
The original post is quite long, here are the highlights (even the highlights are long!):
Expansion Name: The "Burning Crusade"
Max Level Increased
New Horde Race: Blood Elves
New Alliance Race: Draenei
New Class: Spell Breaker
The New Echo Islands
The Emerald Dream
The Tower of Medivh
Caverns of Time
The Black Citadel
Some have gone as far as to speculate that Deathwing has been held captive and imprisoned within Grim Batol, though, others believe in the possibility that the creature that now holds the essence of the Sunwell might be under protection of the Red Dragonflight. Anyone who dares to venture into this max level 50-player raid instance will find themselves standing against the power of the Red Dragonflight, Alexstasza, herself. This is equal in difficulty to The Black Citadel.
The Lair of Malygos
This is a 100-player max level raid instance, and will challenge the Horde and Alliance to work together to defeat the Immortal Lich King. To have the full 100 players, 50 players of max level on Horde and 50 players of max level on Alliance must work together, merging both groups of 50 into one large raid party. Upon Icecrown, Horde and Alliance may not attack each other at any time, but are instead able to aid each other. Leaders of the Argent Dawn have also worked together to teach the Alliance and Horde to understand both, Common and Orcish, so they may communicate as they work together to defeat the Immortal Lich King.
The Eye of Ysera
October 19, 2005
The Nintendo DS might have started out slow but with the smash success of Nintendogs the DS is quickly picking up steam. Well the DS just got a little bit more interesting with announcement of the new Rumble Pak accessory.
The Rumble Pak is the same size as a Game Boy Advance game, and will come packaged with Metroid Prime Pinball (to be released next week). The Pak is the first accessory that makes use of the secondary slot normally reserved for Game Boy Advance games and it makes you wonder what other accessories Nintendo is going to release for us to shove up there? It is unknown how many games will be compatible with the Rumble Pak with it has been confirmed that Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (which launches on November 28) will work with the Pak. It has also been rumored on the IGN subscription threads (you need to be an IGN Insider to read the thread) that the Pak will also work with the upcoming Metroid Prime Hunters.
I don't care so much about Hunters, but if the Pak is going to work with the highly anticipated Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World I would say that Metroid Prime Pinball is going to quickly become a huge success.
October 18, 2005
Lost in the mix of the such classic gaming legends Will Wright and Sid Meiers was Cliff Johnson, one of the best game designers of the late 1980s. Cliff created award-winning puzzle games for the Macintosh and and in many ways the forefathers for modern puzzle games such as Bejeweled and Zuma.
Of the many games Cliff released his most popular and beloved were The Fool's Errand, At the Carnival, and 3 in Three. All three games feature simple yet striking graphics, original puzzles, and a central storyline. I have many friends who almost failed out of college playing these games and they just as much fun today as they were back when I was in college.
The Fool's Errand is probably the hardest of the three, At the Carnival has the most interesting setting (classic amusement park rides), while 3 in Three has the funniest story (the number 3 escapes a spreadsheet looking for freedom). If you like puzzle games definitely give these a try, they play great on modern systems and the graphics still look good to this day.
October 17, 2005
Evil Avatar, John Callaham from Gamecloud, and James Ransom-Wiley from Joystiq to dissect every aspect of the Xbox 360. We talk about the hardware, the interface, every single game at the event, and a lot more for over an hour and a half! It's like getting two shows in one, check it out. Gaming Steve Episode 23 Program
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October 12, 2005
During my second day at the NYC Xbox 360 Event I brought along my friend Dave to try out some of the multiplayer aspects of the games. Unfortunately Live multiplayer wasn’t enabled so we could only try out two-player and co-op modes on each game. Below are my thoughts on multiplayer as well some photos from the event. Make sure to come back later in the week for my podcast show where I’ll go into even more detail about every single aspect of the Xbox 360!
Perfect Dark Zero: It was a bit hard to completely understand what was going on with all the room noise but we got to play a cooperative mission where one person played Joanna Dark and the other person played a nameless female agent (well, I’m sure she had a name but we couldn’t hear what it was). The mission we were playing took place inside an industrial complex which was being attacked by small robotic spiders -- Dave mentioned that it looked like something from the cheesy Tom Selleck movie Runaway, not a good sign.
The level appeared to be a basic tutorial level it was explaining how to use the controller and it was a bit light on the combat. The mission consisted of us rescuing a scientist being assaulted by the killer robots, unlocking doors via a timing minigame, flying remote controlled skybots (which looked like chrome sphere’s from the movie Phantasm), and taking out flying enemies on the roof. Overall co-op play was a lot more fun than the single player experience, but then again, co-op play is usually more fun. I still have my reservations about this title as I didn’t see anything ground-breaking and the graphics were "next gen" but a bit on the funky side. But the weapon selection was very nice, and I wasn’t able to try out a large multiplayer map, so I’m still reserving final judgment.
One thing which should be mentioned right away is that you can’t jump in PDZ. You can do a combat roll, which is pretty cool, but Joanna Dark Can’t Jump. It was explained to me by the Microsoft rep that one reason jump was removed is that they didn’t want multiplayer to become a jumpfest. I told him to get ready for a mini-mutiny and sure enough throughout the night I would repeatedly hear “What? You can’t jump?!” But who knows? Perhaps the combat roll will become the new “jump button” of 2006?
Call of Duty 2: Being a huge Call of Duty fan Dave practically ran to this station and was not disappointed. The game looks great and plays just like the original. After playing single player for a bit the MS rep set us up on a 2-player deathmatch game in a bombed out town in France. I played the Germans and Dave played the British. Before the match we each got to select one of five different country-specific weapons and then the fun began. Dave took the ground while I managed to find a machine-gun nest on the second floor of a bombed building. Things were looking bad for Dave, until a well thrown grenade took my guy out.
The game continued as your basic one-on-one deathmatch game with each of us dying several times. Fun, but the map was a bit too big for intense two-player action. It would have been nice to try an eight-player deathmatch, but the game looked and played great. This game looks like a winner and a solid sequel to the excellent Call of Duty.
I also played Dead or Alive 4 multiplayer a bit, but don’t really have a lot to say about that game. If you played the first three you know what to expect in this version. Overall I was most impressed with Xbox Live Arcade, Kameo: Elements of Power, and Condemned: Criminal Origins as well as the physical unit itself. Look for a lot more Xbox 360 coverage in the upcoming weeks.
Finally, the ability to touch and use the Xbox 360 without a 3-inch protective sheet of plastic surrounding it.
When I first saw Wolfenstein 3D way back in 1992 it was one of the most amazing games I have ever seen. It featured full "3D" graphics, intense (and scary) first person action, and huge interactive levels. I was in college at the time of this game's release and it spread through the campus like wildfire. Everyone was playing this game and everyone was totally blown away.
Well, times sure have a changed! You can now the play the entire Wolfenstein 3D game in your browser ... using Flash. WolfenFlash 3D (requires the new Flash 8) plays exactly like the original and is still fun, but doesn't quite amaze me (or scare me) like it used to. What is amazing is that this entire game was so seamlessly translated into a Flash application. I can only imagine what things will be like 13 years from now ... where we'll play Xbox 360 on our cell phones. Now that's scary!
October 11, 2005
After spending one day with the Xbox 360 I went back to the New York press event and played the few games that I missed. Here are my thoughts on those and make sure to check out the site tomorrow when I do a final recap of the event, post some pictures, and talk about the Xbox 360 multiplayer experience:
Xbox Live Arcade: I spent quite a bit of time playing Live Arcade since I knew almost nothing about it before the event and ended up quite impressed. Think Shockwave.com but with more "mature" games and lower prices (each game is priced separately with most being under $10 each). All of the games from Live Arcade are downloaded onto your Xbox and they have wide variety of game categories. After you download a game you can try it our for free and if you like what you see you can purchase the game for a small fee. The games I saw were more twitch-based than puzzle-based (which I think is a "good thing"), they played great with the console controller, looked amazing in HD. You might not buy the Xbox 360 to play Xbox Live Arcade but I think people will be amazed at the selection and quality of these smaller titles.
Dead or Alive 4: If you played DOA1, or DOA2, or DOA3 know the drill. It looks amazing and it plays just fine. If you liked DOA3 (or 2 or 1) you'll like DOA4.
Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The demo only featured two levels, which I believe are the exact same levels you can play on the currently released PC demo. The gameplay was a bit rough, but the graphics looked great. Plus, it's being made by Michel Ancel and the same team behind Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil (a fantastic game that nobody played). Expect potentially great things.
Project Gotham Racing 3: I didn't get to spend a huge amount of time with this one, but the plethora of options should appease any hardcore racing fan. One nice touch was crowd reactions, smash your car into the guardrail and watch the people scatter. I heard there were "famous New Yorkers" in the crowds, but they're a bit hard to see when you're flying by at 140 MPH.
NBA 2K6 & NBA LIVE 06: Wow, I mean, wow. The graphics were jaw-droppingly realistic. Shame they didn't have NHL 2K6 there as that is one of the only sports genres I still actively play.
Finally, I got a sweet little "keepsake" from the event -- my very own Xbox 360 Memory Card (of which I'll show you all tomorrow) and they even preloaded a few games on it for me. Of course, now I need an Xbox 360 to play those games...
October 10, 2005
So here I was, just playing some new games when I was unexpectingly invited to a private Xbox 360 preview event right here in New York City. So I hopped on the subway, showed up to Xbox-themed loft, and played lots of Xbox 360 games for several hours (yeah, I know, I suck).
Before I get "into it" I have to say that I've been to a fair number of these things over the years but this one was by far one of the best. The space was small, quiet, comfortable, and I got tons of quality time playing Xbox 360 games.
The event started out with an hour demo of Kameo: Elements of Power (looked fantastic), Project Gotham Racing 3 (pretty good), and the Xbox Live Dashboard (beyond words cool) and then we were able to play games for a couple of hours. I have to say, I was a bit concerned about the Xbox 360 launch lineup, but after today I am starting to think that the PS3 might be in some serious trouble. I was extremely impressed with what I saw and a couple of the launch titles look downright legendary.
I will do a detailed podcast about my experiences at the event later in the week but here is a quick rundown of my thoughts:
"The Hardware": The Xbox 360 controller is "like butter" and handles better than the PS2 controller (yes, even I was surprised by that one). The system design itself is "iPod Nano slick", compact, and the little "trap doors" which protect the various plug-in elements (like the memory unit and controller slots) are a nice touch.
Xbox Live Dashboard: I have to admit I was quite skeptical about how well the Xbox Live features would integrate into the overall gameplaying experience. But after playing with the Dashboard firsthand I have to say that it is seamlessly integrated with the overall experience and Xbox Live will definitely enhance the overall gaming experience, even with games which have no multiplayer options (more on this in the podcast). Really impressive stuff.
Kameo: Elements of Power: Considering that this game was supposed to be a launch title for the GameCube, and then was supposed to come out for the Xbox, and then was "retooled" as a launch title for the Xbox 360, I had a lot concerns about this game. But after playing it I have to say that the graphics are most definitely "next gen", the gameplay was lots of fun, and the music fantastic. I think Kameo will herald in the triumphant return of great Rare games.
Perfect Dark Zero: I played two levels of this game and while it was definitely fun I am going to hold judgment. There were a lot of cool innovations in the game (the safecracking "locktopus" being the coolest), and the weapon variety quite nice, but the gameplay seemed pretty standard.
Call of Duty 2: Played a lot like the first Call of Duty but with refined controls and updated gameplay. If you liked the first one I'm sure you'll like this one.
Condemned: Criminal Origins: Of all the games I played today this one surprised me the most and I felt the "winner" of the show. Created by Monolith, the game is a bit hard to explain as it does of lot of things I have never seen before. It plays like Resident Evil crossed with an FPS crossed with an psychological thriller. The game looks amazing (when I was watching someone play the game I thought I was watching a movie) and pulls you into the story within the first five seconds. Expect this to be a huge surprise hit.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: For those of you who can't wait to get this game (you know who you are) make sure to pre-order your Xbox 360 now. Look forward to another 250+ hours of "Elder Scrolls gameplay" but with next gen graphics.
For pictures of the event make sure to check out Xbox Live's Major Nelson blog and photo album. On a side note I have to say meeting Major Nelson for the first time was great. Not only is he "the nicest guy ever" but he and I got a chance to talk "podcast shop". Very cool.
Whenever a new MMORPG comes out some enterprising hackers manage to figure out how reverse engineer the hosting server and then play the MMORPG on their own "private" servers. And with a game as popular as World of Warcraft it would only be a matter of time before private WOW servers appeared on the Net.
Now I don't approve of this activity in any way whatsoever and I'm sure Blizzard will sue these places out of existence. However, for those of you interested in "researching" this interesting and little known aspect of MMORPGs you can view a list of private WOW servers at wowstatus.net. Most of these servers aren't in English, and I'm sure most of them don't work, and you might get sued if you use them, but if you REALLY don't want to pay $14.95 a month you might be interested. Just remember, you get what you pay for!
October 6, 2005
The 1990s is often considered the "golden age" of PC gaming with some of the best games ever released at that time. Of course everyone remembers Civilization, TIE Fighter, Doom, X-COM, Myst, Half-Life, and so many more, but often lost in the shuffle of these classics is the excellent Star Control series. For those of you who have never heard of Star Control it was a trilogy of games released in the early/mid 1990s and all three are often considered some of the best video games ever made. Combining a nice mix of strategy, action, and adventure the Star Control universe is creates an complex compelling atmosphere unmatched by most modern games.
For those of you who have never played the original, or want to rekindle their Star Control love affair, you can now download and play Star Control II on your modern operating system! Back in 2002 the original creators of Star Control II Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III released the source code of the 3DO version as open source under the GPL. Since then, The Ur-Quan Masters (UQM) project aims to port Star Control II to modern operating systems and enhance the gaming experience with updated music and effects.
Of the three games released Star Control II is often considered the best and has almost a cult-like following. During the game you will create alien alliances (with 21 truly unique alien races to interact with), go on exciting missions, collect various resources, build a combat fleet, trade captured alien life forms for advanced technology, and, oh yeah, save the universe (no biggie!). The graphics might be dated, but the fantastic writing makes for a deep gaming experience.
Available for Windows, MacOS X, and Linux Star Control II might "look" dated but the gameplay holds up extremely well and will quickly suck you in. I just started playing again and I'm having a very hard time pulling myself away from the action. Definitely download this game and give it a try (and check out the walkthrough for a little history and how the controls work).
October 5, 2005
I used to love origami when I was a kid (I guess it's just "one of those things" that all kids get into). Making paper cranes and flowers was pretty cool, but I really liked the crazy hard origami models, like cars and trucks and the like.
Well what could be cooler than making Super Mario origami! Make sure to check out the very cool Bowser model (all five parts, yikes!), the cute little red pikmin, and the always popular "Mario in a bunny-suit".
And if you're looking for more video game origami also check out the Advance Wars Papercraft.
October 1, 2005