Gaming Steve

PC Archives - Page 8

August 1, 2005

So ... Where Are the Graphics?

Zork IBack in the very earliest days of computing (AKA when I was a kid) some of the most popular PC computer games were "adventure" games. Easily one of the most popular gaming genres of its time, adventure games basically consisted of you "walking" around a world, picking up items, combining items, solving puzzles, fighting monsters, and so on until you won game. The graphics for many of these games were rudimentary to say the least, usually consisting of nothing more than simple line drawings, the sound-effects were beeps of various lengths, and the controls were usually along the lines of "drop", "inventory", and "look". In many ways these adventure games were nothing more than interactive stories since the graphics/sound/controls were so limiting. But yet these games were so popular because the stories were often quite good and you could save your progress throughout the game (a rarity of the time).

And of all the adventure games on the market the most popular ones consisted of no graphics, no sounds, and barely adequate controls. This strange hybrid of gaming was called the "text-based adventure game" which is pretty much what it sounds like. You had to play the entire game using nothing more than a text-based interface. That's it. Just text. Nothing else. Oh yeah, and these games were, by far, some of the very best games ever made. No really, I'm not kidding (stop laughing please).

Nearly all of these text-based games were made by a company called Infocom and they were the Bioware/EA of their day. Every couple of months they would release a new game, each featuring a deep, rich story, a fascinating universe, and some of the very best writing I have seen in gaming to this day. Seriously, don't just a game by its graphics. These games might not look like much to those of you waiting for the Xbox 360 to come out, but these games have deeper stories and more involved gameplay than most of cookie-cutter junk coming out for consoles today (Tomb Raider VII, I can't wait!)

I only bring this topic up because everyone who loves the video games should know its history, as well as the fact that I discovered a little gem on the web. It appears that you can actually play the entire game of Zork within a web browser. Zork is the granddaddy of text-gaming and if you are going to start anywhere you might as well start at the beginning. Of course Zork might not look like much now, but this game was "The Sims" of its time and managed to top sales charts throughout a good part of 1980s. You can also download all three original Zork games if you want to give them a whrill. And if you're interested in any of the other Infocom games out there you can pretty much find every single one if you look hard enough (not that I support those illegal activities, not at all). But if you are interested in giving some a try may I recommend Enchanter (as well as the other two games in the series), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (yeah, this game rocks), Planetfall (one of the funniest games ever made), Stationfall (the sequel), The Lurking Horror, and the Leather Goddesses of Phobos.

And for those of you who never played a text-based adventure game make sure to give Zork a try. It might look incredibly primitive, but the writing is fantastic and some of my very best gaming memories are from these games (I have played nearly all of them). You might just be surprised...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:30 PM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

July 23, 2005

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

The Sims 2 ... Naked!I guess crusading attorney Jack Thompson is a regular listener to the Gaming Steve podcast because I've been saying for awhile now that if you think GTA is bad (which was rated M for Mature) you should see what going on in The Sims 2 (which is rated T for Teen). According to Gamespot Thompson is attacking the Sims 2, saying that its salacious unlockable content "is no different than what is in San Andreas, although worse."

Okay I'm not on the side of Thompson in any way whatsoever, and I detest what he's trying to do to the industry, but I have to agree that the mods found in the The Sims 2 community are much worse than what can be found in the Hot Coffee mod. Not that I mind the content in The Sims 2, not at all. I just find it insane that GTA received an "Adults Only" rating by the ESRB because it contained some hidden "sex" scenes -- and I use that term loosely because these scenes looked like they were animated using the Doom 2 engine. Meanwhile the "regular" version of The Sims 2 contains both hetro and homosexual sex, sex with aliens, the ability to torture and kill your Sims, people going to the bathroom, taking showers, walking around half-naked, and so much more. And yet, this game is intended for children 13-years and older according to the ESRB.

And once you factor in all the various "skins" you can download for your Sims, which include naked people, disformed people, people with burns all over their bodies, and much worse, I would have to say that there are a lot of games out there which should be rated "Adults Only" according to the ESRB's recent actions. If GTA gets an "AO" rating for containing sex then all games which contain sex should be rated "AO" according to their logic, which includes The Sims 2, God of War (where you can play mini-game in which you have sex with two women at once), Mafia (again, in-game sex), and so many more. Oh no, this is far from over, Hot Coffee was just the beginning of a very long road indeed. Hello Kitty games for everyone!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 AM | Posted to Culture | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

July 19, 2005

Dungeon Siege II Gold

Dungeon Siege IISure the first Dungeon Siege sort of played itself, and the gameplay got repetitive, but lurking in there was a groundbreaking game. Well word just came down that Dungeon Siege II has gone gold and will be stores August 16, 2005. Normally I wouldn't make an entry on a single game going gold, but this game is from Gas Powered Games (makers of the upcoming Supreme Commander ... drool) plus I have been playing the beta of DSII and it's a ton of fun. This time around Gas Powered did their research to find out what people liked and didn't like about the last game and has vastly improved the overall gaming experience.

The gameplay is basically the same as before, you lead a party, you kill lots of monsters, you see lots of pretty environments, you build up your characters, and you get lots of phat loot. Basically the Diablo II formula but in full 3D and a larger party. The first game was good, but it had several issues, the biggest was that it was basically the game from beginning to end. It was so close to being the next Diablo, but it just missed the mark.

This time around there are a lot of little things which were added to make the game a lot more fun. Your party is smaller and a lot more manageable, as your characters level-up you can select special skills from a skill tree (similar to Diablo and WOW), your pets are much stronger and can level up along with your characters, the monsters are very cool and unlike any you have seen before, the story is surprisingly deep, the graphics are improved, the game interface is gorgeous, and lots more. Definitely be on the lookout for this game next month.

And now that DSII is done they can get cracking on Supreme Commander. Hurry up and finish that game!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:00 PM | Posted to PC | Preview |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

July 14, 2005

Divorced Couple Argue Over Virtual Items

his hersI guess it was just a matter time before we would start seeing this ... a couple filing for divorce in China is arguing over custody of their computer game characters and virtual items.

According to the Chongqing Business Post, Mr. Wang from Chongqing and Ms. Ye from Huibei met last September on Shanda's online game Legend of Mir 2. Wang saved Ye's character from being killed by another player and the two quickly fell in love. The couple married at the end of October but decided to get a divorce this last June.

During their marriage, the couple jointly played over ten Mir 2 accounts, attaining level 40 to 50 status for all of them, which I am told is quite high. All the characters and virtual items are estimated to be worth 40,000 to 50,000 Yuan, and Wang said that he wants to keep the accounts and virtual items and is willing to give their joint apartment to Ye. However, Ye wants to split the apartment and game items equally (how do you split an apartment?).

Remember, if you are going to share your virtual items with your significant other make sure to write your name on all your items!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 9:00 AM | Posted to Culture | MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

June 17, 2005

Total Annihilation "Sequel" Coming Soon

Cover of PCGamerOne of my great joys is when a new gaming magazine arrives in the mail. Most times I find the cover story interesting, but very rarely does the cover actually make me react with a "holly crap, I need to open up this magazine and read this story right this second!" And that is exactly what I said when the latest issue of PC Gamer arrived in the mail yesterday. The cover story is about "Supreme Commander", the "spiritual successor" of Total Annihilation.

For those of you unfamiliar with Total Annihilation, it was a PC Real-Time Strategy Game released in 1997 and is often considered one of the best, if not the very best, RTS ever released (GameSpy named it the best RTS of all time). It was an amazing game that actually required real strategy to win and not just gathering resources faster than your opponent. Plus, there were about two million different types of units in the game (okay, the real number was closer to 250, but that is still an insane number of units), and yet it was still balanced. And to make the game even cooler when it first came out Cavedog (the developer) would release a new unit for the game every single week. Now that was a great game.

Well it appears that the prayers of thousands of RTS fans everywhere has finally been answer by Gas Powered Games. Supreme Commander is being published by THQ and is due out for the PC next year. Definitely check out the latest issue of PC Gamer to view the RTS goodness.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 9:00 AM | Posted to PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

May 2, 2005

Random Gaming Madness

GTA: San AndreasWow, not much going on in the video gaming world. Let's see what I can find which is even a little bit interesting...

Ah, this is semi-cool. Engadget interviewed Bill Gates about the next Xbox, PC media center features, the PSP, and other gaming related items. Of course it is a bit annoying when the interviewer asks Bill a question, which then completely ignores and then just talks about whatever he wants. But it's still an interesting interview.

In other news it appears that Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter is a PS3 fan. Pachter wrote a memo where he stated "We think that many investors have misinterpreted the launch of the Xbox 360 as the beginning of the next generation, and expect rapid sales growth in 2006. In contrast, we expect the launch of Sony's PS3 (expected in late 2006) to mark the beginning of the next cycle, and think that rapid sales growth will not materialize until 2007." Interesting point of view.

Finally, Rockstar released lots of GTA: San Andreas Xbox and PC details. Here's the scoop:

  • Release date(s) - June 7, 2005 (North America); June 10 (Europe)
  • 480p (progressive scan) and 16:9 widescreen support
  • Higher resolution textures
  • New lighting and shading models
  • Increased draw distance
  • Customizable soundtracks
  • New 30-second instant replay feature

Visit the new GTA: San Andreas web sites for a closer look at the Xbox and PC features.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 6:00 PM | Posted to Interview | PC | PlayStation 2 | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

April 28, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 10 - 04.28.2005

Empire Earth IIHey all, this week we have an "extra special episode" of Gaming Steve where I interview Michael G. Shapiro, the music composer for the newly released Empire Earth II. In addition you'll find:

  • Intro music from Empire Earth II.
  • Turner announces GameTap.
  • The V-Chip is coming to video games.
  • The Nintendo DS keeps on selling.
  • GameTalk: Interview with TV, film, and game composer Michael G. Shapiro where we talk about his music background, how he got into the industry, the development process for composing the Empire Earth II soundtrack, helpful hints for up-and-coming composers, and what games does he enjoy?
  • “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week and a new clip.
  • Some more random thoughts on the daily craziness of Xbox 360 "news" items.
  • Closing music from the Empire Earth II soundtrack.
Get the podcast from this page (77 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 10.

Download the Empire Earth II soundtrack for free!

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 7:00 PM | Posted to Interview | PC | Podcast |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

April 8, 2005

Let the E3 Rumors Fly!

It's The DukeAfter E3 what on earth will the gaming community talk about? Between Xbox 2, PlayStation 3, Spore, and who knows what else this is shaping up to be an interesting E3. And now we're starting to hear rumors on some gaming projects.

Over at Computer Games Magazine they take a look at some potential upcoming projects including Crytek's (Fry Cry) next game, Gas Powered Games' (Dungeon Siege) next game, Remedy's (Max Payne) next game, id Software's (Doom) next game, 3D Realms's (Duke Nukem Forever) next game, and a few others.

Perhaps the funniest/saddest entry is Peter Molyneux's next project:

Lionhead’s Dimitri – Until just yesterday, nothing was known about this game except for the code name but the Computer and Video Games site revealed via a chat with Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux that the game is about recreating the player’s real life. Er…ok. That’s it folks…nothing more to see here..move along.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 3:45 PM | Posted to PC | Preview |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 30, 2005

Heroes of Might and Magic V Announced

Might and Magic VUbisoft declares the revival of 3DO's Heroes of Might and Magic franchise with the announcement of Heroes of Might and Magic V, Nival Interactive's continuation of the turn-based arm of the series.

This news isn't 100% new as the game was first revealed a few weeks ago when Ubisoft announced their 2005/2006 lineup. But now you can view the the first screenshots on the Might and Magic Website.

Being one of my favorite turn-based strategy games of all time this is welcome news, especially with the passing of 3DO and the uncertainty of the franchise.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:30 PM | Posted to PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 26, 2005

Flagship's Hellgate: London

HellgateSo it appears to be big news that the May issue of PC Gamer has a cover article on Hellgate: London, the new game in development at Flagship Studios (the ex-Blizzard designers and executives including Bill Roper). I'm surprised this has become such a big news topic as I got my copy of PC Gamer earlier in the week.

Oh well, here is the gist of the article (there are some spoilers):

  • The game plays from a FPS perspective but many Diablo-style play elements -- paper doll inventory, random level design, tons of unique loot, different classes, single-player and multi-player play options.
  • It is set five years after a war against demons has already been lost. London is depicted as a burnt out shell of itself and the demons are in the process of "hellaforming" earth to make it more suitable for their kind. Only a handful of humans have survived.
  • The game is expected to ship in 2006, will appear on PCs and Macs, and will be published by Namco.
  • Although it looks like a FPS it's actually an RPG since it "is not a twitch-based experience". Also because combat is entirely stat based and not twitch-based. Hits, misses, and damage will depend on the stats of your character and their weapons, and ranged weapons are referred to as "spell delivery systems".
  • The game will be played about half below ground, the other half topside. London was primarily chosen as the setting because it has many "natural dungeons" such as subways and aqueducts and authentic London locations will appear in the game.
  • Only one character class was revealed, the knight-like Templars. They were said to be the most effective force against the demons during the war (but yet they were still defeated).
  • Character customization exists but details were not revealed.
  • A third person view will probably exist, for melee fighting and viewing your character (there will be a "vanity mode" so you can view your character and his cool loot).
  • Level layouts will be randomly generated (so how will they get the authentic London locations into the levels?). There will be random quests and branching paths, all leading to tons of replay value.
  • Quests will be designed to push the story forward, with a minimum of FedEx style missions.
  • Most weapons, but not all, will be futuristic with destroyed demons dropping many items and weapons. All weapons will possess unique stats, even those that are essentially identical (such as two Peacemaker Pistols). Weapons will have slots where relics can be affixed that add additional damage (like socketed weapons and gems in Diablo). There's also the possibility of the equivalent of a Horadic Cube.
  • Some specific weapons include the Harp weapon, which temporarily stuns monsters; the Vulcan Bolter, which shoots fireballs; the Tempest Gun, which fires a round of ball lightning; the Zeus Rifle, which fires an electrical attack that can arc between multiple enemies; and the Peacemaker Pistol, which fires round that ricochets off walls.
  • PC Gamer is guessing there will be a total of 50 levels within the game, many if not all of them randomly generated.
  • Leveling up provides skill points that can be spent in three categories: offensive, passive auras, and combo moves. The skill system is still in development, but one possibility being considered is the inclusion of sub-classes.
  • Multiplayer will exist and support 16 to 32 players. Co-op gameplay will be emphasized, but deathmatch is a possibility, and you will not be able to play as a demon.
  • NPC's will join with your character form time to time, apparently only on a temporary basis, although they may reappear further along in the game.
  • PC Gamer speculated that the series will continue in new locations throughout the world, such as Las Vegas and Rome.

Wow, it sounds an awful like a 3D FPS of Diablo, doesn't it?

Posted by Gaming Steve at 5:00 PM | Posted to PC | Preview |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!