It's not always game news that come out of conferences like AGC. Sometimes, it's the technology behind the games, as dPVS middleware was today acquired by Umbra Software from Hybrid Graphics Ltd:
Austin Game Conference, Texas, September 6th, 2006 — Umbra Software Ltd. announced that it has completed the acquisition of the dPVS middleware from Hybrid Graphics Ltd. dPVS is the market leading visibility optimization middleware for Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs).
Under the terms of the agreement, Umbra Software will be the sole owner and licensor of dPVS and all future support and services for existing customers will be handled by Umbra Software Ltd.
The game development middleware dPVS was pioneered at Hybrid Graphics to be the cutting edge visibility tool used by heavy-hitting game developers, such as SOE and NCSoft.
With the acquisition of Hybrid Graphics by NVIDIA Corporation earlier this year, Hybrid sharpened its focus by deciding to sell the PC and game console development middleware.
“We are tickled pink to see dPVS going to a good home where the future development of the software will be in capable hands”, says Mr. Ville Miettinen, CTO of Hybrid Graphics.
Umbra Software’s new CTO Mr. Otso Mäkinen, who has had 8 years of experience with dPVS while at Hybrid Graphics adds “At Umbra Software our goal is to build on dPVS and develop the next generation version, modernizing it for high end gaming platforms”. Umbra Software is currently developing new version of dPVS, Umbra, which will fully utilize the modern graphics hardware. Umbra targets the Xbox 360™, PlayStation®3, and PC platforms.
In a world where it seems like we're constantly reporting about cheaters being banned and players scamming other players, it was a nice surprise to see this story gracing my inbox.
One of Entroipa Universe's players is using money that he has earned by playing the game to help fund his sister's college education. Check it out!
US university tuitions have dramatically increased in the past five years leaving many college graduates thousands of dollars in debt. Other countries around the world are not far behind, with 2006 reports indicating education costs rising 6.5 percent from 2003-4 in the UK and 3.2 percent in Canada. As students struggle to make ends meet by combining income from multiple jobs with scholarships and loans, others are turning to creative alternatives to pay for a higher education.
Meet Mike, aka. Ogulak Da Basher, an 17-year-old from Durango, Colorado who has accumulated enough funds playing inside an online virtual gaming community, Entropia Universe, to pay for his siblings’ college tuitions. “I began playing Entropia as a form of entertainment with my mother; however after 3 years of fostering relationships, building businesses, and developing my hunting and mining skills, I have raked in over $35,000, $12,000 of which will go towards helping my brother and sister attend college.”
Entropia Universe is a rapidly growing virtual world that actively supports sales of virtual products with actual cash value within its real economy system. The economy offers players a secure and safe way to make purchases, sales and exchange real-life currency into PED (Project Entropia Dollars) and back again into real money, at a fixed exchange rate to the US Dollar. PED allows members to invest in personal development and growth through the acquisition of goods, buildings, and land in the virtual universe.
Ogulak Da Basher is a captain in the Entropian hunting society, “ck Coat Killers.” He has cultivated his mining and hunting skills, obtaining precious minerals and materials that are then sold at a premium price. From his virtual profession as a hunter/miner he has also mastered the crafting of weapon/mining attachments resulting in a completely new business model that has the potential for increased revenue growth. “What I like best about Entropia Universe is the ability to pick any profession. I have tried other virtual communities and MMORPG’s that allow members to play only one class, while EU creates unlimited goals and endless room for opportunity with a free economic structure.”
“While many claim that online and console games have a negative impact on a teenager’s mental and physical development, our observations are different,” says Marco Behrmann, CIO of MindArk, game developer of Entropia Universe. “In Entropia we are seeing a positive outcome from our online gaming community. Members not only building social skills through global interaction, but are even learning the business tools to succeed in the real world”
For more on Entropia Universe click here.
Codemasters and ArchLord have announced that they are now heading into the 3.0 point in their Beta Phase. The announcement means that pre-order gamers will now be invited to join in the beta excitement.
The game is slated for a September Launch:
Codemasters Online Gaming is pleased to announce that the ArchLord™ BETA test has progressed to phase 3.0 as the title prepares to launch at the end of September.
ArchLord BETA phase 3.0 further expands the game service and enables the thousands of pre-order customers to now enter the epic battle to become the mighty ArchLord.
Phase 3.0 adds a new game features including the opportunity to embark on a number of incredible in-game events specially hosted by Codemasters Online Gaming.
Ed Relf, Director of Marketing at Codemasters Online Gaming, commented:
Further to the commencement of phase 3.0 Codemasters Online Gaming have also released details on the commencement of an exclusive BETA movie competition where players within the ArchLord BETA can capture their own in-game movies for a chance to win up to $1500! For more details on the Grand BETA Movie Competition visit http://www.archlordgame.com
There are a still a limited number of places remaining for the final stages of the ArchLord BETA test and gamers can guarantee a slot now by pre-ordering the game at www.archlordgame.com/preorder
For more on Archlord, click here.
There are five of us here at AGC (The Austin Game Conference) this year. Carolyn Koh kicks things off with her first blog entry, written last night. Expect more, as well as panel reports and game specific interviews as we take part in this exciting conference.
|Where the Developers go, the press will follow. The Austin Game Conference opens this week with some nice weather as a cold front moved into Austin the night before. It may still heat up with all the hot air that just arrived… but here’s hoping! ;)
At the Airport shuttle counter, I ran into Richard “Jonric” Aoishi of RPGVault. Walking to the Austin Convention Center which was a nifty whole entire city block away from the hotel – yay! Kudos, Mr. Travel Guy! – I met a couple from GamersInfo. After picking up my Press Badge and goodie bag, I met the developer of Morph Vox which is voice altering software that’s targeted towards gamers.
You can read more here.
MMORPG.com is please to present our second new contest for September! We have teamed up with Zboard to bring you a giveaway for four Zboard keyboards with the Guild Wars Factions keyset along with a retail copy of Guild Wars Factions!
This contest will run from Sept 6, 2006 through Oct 5, 2006.
As with all of our contests, the more days you login to MMORPG.com, the better your odds of winning! (see official contest rules for details)
Ready to enter? Click here!
CCP has announced that their MMORPG, EVE Online has surpassed the 30,000 Peak Concurrent User mark. The exact number, according to the news that was posted on the EVE Online site yesterday, was 30,538:
EVE Online realizes its goal of 30k simultaneous users
There was much to celebrate at the CCP office in Reykjavik today. In addition to the birthdays of CEO Hellmar's daughter who turned three and producer Oveur, whose "thirty something," shouts of joy rose up at 19:36 GMT as 30,538 EVE Online capsuleers zoomed their way into history by setting a new concurrent user record of over thirty-thousand simultaneous users on the Tranquility server.
" It is with great honor that I see the 30k mark being broken," said EVE player RipLee. "CCP has done an awesome achievement in such a feat. Kudos to CCP."
For more on EVE click here.
NCsoft is moving to try to take some of the risk out of online gaming. Today, the company announced the formation of a public service program that will see a card be placed in all NCsoft retail products that will contain tips to help to improve both personal and data safety:
AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 5, 2006 -- NCsoft®, the world’s leading developer and publisher of online games, has announced the creation of PlaySmarttm, a public service program promoting common-sense guidelines that will be delivered directly to customers to help enhance personal safety and data security.
Drawing from industry standards, NCsoft has developed a set of simple guidelines for its customers that focus on two areas: personal safety and data security. Personal safety includes tips for families who play online games and data security covers issues such as data loss or online scams. The set of guidelines will be placed on a card in all of NCsoft’s retail game packs as well as being available on NCsoft’s game portal, PlayNC®.com.
NCsoft has chosen to proactively develop a program, which if followed, may help to make playing online games a more positive experience for individuals and families by helping to reduce risk factors.
“We recognize that there is an inherent risk to any social interaction over the Internet. Whether it is over chat rooms or social networks, the Internet is rife with scams and individuals who would take advantage of others,” said Robert Garriott, CEO of NCsoft North America. “PlaySmart is an effort to educate our customers about these issues and offer simple guidelines to help mitigate problems inherent in interacting online. Our games are known for their positive social climates and as a place to find exciting online entertainment and by following the few simple guidelines in PlaySmart, players and their families should find online gaming a source of fun, stress-free entertainment.”
The guidelines are being developed by NCsoft in accordance with industry standards made available at such sources as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Following is a sample of a few of the “smart tips” that will be delivered directly to NCsoft customers as part of the PlaySmart program:
For personal safety:
For data security:
“These are basic, common-sense guidelines which are obvious to most of us. But it only takes one successful scam or incident of inappropriate behavior to have a very negative impact on a player and their family,” Garriott said. “We will always endeavor to ensure customer’s personal and data security, and by following these very simple precautions, players and their families can reduce the risk factor of a negative incident dramatically.”
NCsoft will unveil a PlaySmart web page with a full list of safety and security tips later this year. Also, a smart play tips card will be placed into game packages later in 2006 or early in 2007. NCsoft will also organize a panel of experts, including security and behavioral authorities to create, review and update the PlaySmart guidelines each year.
For additional resources for safe gaming, go to ESRB at ESRB.org.
The deadline for World of WarCraft's Movie Contest is fast approaching. For anyone that wants a crack at the $23,000 in prizes that are being offered, you have until the 12th of September:
MENLO PARK, CA – July 26, 2006 – Xfire, Inc., one of the fastest growing online gaming platforms and communities in the world, and Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., the developer and publisher behind such critically acclaimed games as StarCraft® Warcraft®, and Diablo®, remind gamers that the submission deadline for the largest machinima contest featuring Blizzard®’s popular online game World of Warcraft® is approaching fast. Aspiring moviemakers in the United States, Canada, and Europe have until September 15th to submit entries in one of four categories: Short Film, Comedy, Drama/Action, or Dance/Music Video, and compete for prizes totaling $23,000.
“It’s not too late for World of Warcraft fans to submit their movies and have a chance at the $23,000 in prizes,” said Mike Cassidy, CEO of Xfire. “Xfire users and the World of Warcraft community are a passionate and creative group of people, we couldn’t be more excited to review all the amazing submissions we expect.”
Details about the contest can be found on the contest's official site at: http://www.xfire.com/cms/xf_wow_contest_summer.
For more on WoW click here.
The MMORPG, Fallen Earth, will be making use of VIVOX in-game voice communication. The two companies, Icarus Studios and Vivox Inc., announced that they had reached a technology integration agreement:
FRAMINGHAM, MA – September 5, 2006 – Icarus Studios and Vivox, Inc. announced today that Icarus’ highly anticipated massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) Fallen EarthTM will include on-demand, in-game voice communication as the result of a technology integration agreement between the two companies. Vivox will provide Icarus with game-embedded voice communication services customized for and integrated into Fallen Earth. The MMOG is set in a near future post-apocalyptic world struggling to emerge from the collapse of civilization brought on by viruses and environmental disaster.
Fallen Earth players are able to speak at will with other players in-game, create discreet team audio conference channels and join, leave and rejoin voice channels during game play without impacting game performance. All voice communication is hosted and mixed on Vivox servers in order to ensure no lag in game play and minimal drain on CPU resources. On-screen indicators show players which channels are monitoring audio communications and which player within a channel is speaking. Players will also have moderator privileges to kick, mute, ban and un-ban other players, all synchronized with the team and raid privileges of the in-game group leader.
“We pride ourselves on our cutting edge, internally developed technology, but when it comes to offering real-time voice communications to our players, we turned to Vivox for their ability to deliver superior server side VoIP technology and easy expansion for external and cross-game IP voice chat,” said Jim Hettinger, CEO of Icarus Studios. “The Vivox Network managed service offering allows us to get up and running quickly. In addition, they have been great partners in the development effort to bring our vision for in-game communications in Fallen Earth to life.”
"Industry veterans and visionaries such as the Icarus team continue to raise the bar for richer gaming experiences in an exhilarating MMOG market,” said Vivox CEO, Rob Seaver. “Including real-time voice in Fallen Earth demonstrates their commitment to innovation and to the immersive player experience. By partnering with Vivox, Icarus Studios will open communications to players inside and outside the game, improving game play and strengthening community around the title and their brand. It’s this kind of innovation that will further revolutionize the industry and keep players engaged for the long term.”
Icarus Studios will offer a sneak peek of Fallen Earth for the first time to the game industry, and demonstrate the embedded voice solution in the Vivox booth number 314 at the Austin Games Conference, September 6-8, 2006 in Austin, Texas.
For more on Fallen Earth click here.
Turbine has announced that they have selected "LETSGAME" as the Korean distributor for their MMORPG, Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach:
WESTWOOD, MA – SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 -- Turbine, Inc., a premier publisher of online subscription entertainment, announced today that it has a distribution agreement with LETSGAME, a leading online game and comunity portal in Korea. Under the agreement, LETSGAME and Turbine will cooperate in localizing DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE™: Stormreach™ (DDO) for the Korean market. LETSGAME will market, distribute and operate the game in that territory. DDO is based on the world-renowned DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® brand franchise from Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE: HAS). DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is under license from the Hasbro Properties Group, the intellectual property development arm of Hasbro.
“The Korean market represents an important opportunity for Turbine,” said Jeffrey Anderson, president and CEO of Turbine, Inc. “This agreement signals Turbine’s commitment to a long-term presence in Korea and the continued rollout of DDO as a global franchise.”
LETSGAME is a leading online game and community portal in Korea offering 25 games to over 3.5 million registered users.
“As one of the leading online games operators in Korea, we have a deep understanding of the market,” said Jack Shin, chief executive officer of LETSGAME. “There is enormous demand for more MMO titles in our community and through close cooperation with Turbine, we will deliver a premium title to our customers.”
“We are excited about the upcoming release of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach in Korea,” said Jeff Burdeen, vice president of digital media for the Hasbro Properties Group. “The introduction of a truly unique and innovative massively multiplayer online game for the DDO gaming base reaffirms DUNGEONS & DRAGONS as the premier fantasy brand today.”
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach recreates the essence of the classic pen-and-paper roleplaying experience - with an emphasis on non-grinding, instanced quests that provide a unique, immersive experience for each party. Authentic features in the game include customizable characters, dungeons filled with devious traps, monsters and stories from the Eberron® campaign setting, an on-screen d20 (20-sided die) and a dungeon master. The unique online world of Stormreach is a bustling city with thousands of players from around the world. It represents a new paradigm for the MMO genre with unique features including party-based quests, integrated voice chat, real-time action combat, and award winning graphics.
Published by Atari, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATAR) in North America and Europe, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE™ has been enthusiastically received by many gaming critics, including The New York Times, PC Gamer, Game Informer and many more.
For more on DDO click here.
Garrett Fuller interviews PR Manager Marco van Haren about The Chronicles of Spellborn in this new MMORPG.com exclusive Q&A.
| MMORPG.com: With all the fantasy races out there what made you choose to create the Daevi for this game?
Marco van Haren: The Chronicles of Spellborn features a unique, genuine setting, environment and atmosphere. It would have been completely out of place to have a “regular” fantasy race such as orcs or elves living in the TCoS universe.
Looking at the lore we see these eight demons ruling a world filled with servitor races. Up until now there is no clear evidence found that explains if the humans were created by the demons or were part of the world history for a far longer period. With the Daevi, we wanted to create a race serving as a link between the humans and their oppressors. Not only does this allow for an exciting graphical character, but it also gives the designers room for cool future content focusing on the more social aspects of the bond between the eight demons, the daevi and the humans.
On a side note; during the design of Spellborn we kept the possibilities for additional playable races in mind. Some of the current NPC races in the game are already designed this way.
You can read more here.
This week, EA Mythic's Sanya Thomas returns for another new grab bag. Down below, you'll see only one of the questions answered in this weekly feature, follow the link below to read it all:
Q: Oh Sanya, Armswomen don't make the "Top 25 Armsmen" Lists!
My character has 400K rps total and from what the Guinevere list shows, she should be in the top 25 armsmen on the server.
A: When this poor Armswoman sent in her question a month ago, I whisked it to the guys who fix the Herald among many other duties. They are the same people who have been handling much of trials and tribulations of network migration, and have been unable to address Herald problems as quickly as usual.
This week I was notified that the fix was in! However, I was ALSO notified that our migration to the EA network had left behind the Herald hamster while I was out of the office, so nothing updated for a bit there. But in theory, everything is now back up. If you or someone you love is not on the Herald in their true and proper form, wait 24 hours – and if things still aren’t right, send a feedback form, category “Herald Issues.” Thanks for your patience with all this. I’m told the worst is over.
For more on DAoC click here.
Guild Wars has released a new State of the Game report today. The new report takes the form of a Championships Round-Up:
Individual and team builds, favorite skills, and chosen tactics are all gameplay elements detailed within the latest State of the Game article, which analyzes the Guild Wars Factions championship. Find it here.
For more on Guild Wars click here.
We originally wanted to do our customary re-review of World of Warcraft. Given the timing - Burning Crusade is coming - we decided to hold off. Instead, we offer you a review of the spot so many people are in: the end-game. Find out what Garrett Fuller thinks of where the game stands for level 60 characters.
|Players who have reached level sixty can work on several things for their character in the end game of Warcraft. The two biggest that come to mind are PvP and raids. Warcraft’s end game is not based on achieving skills for your character, but on getting loot that will boost your character’s abilities. Simply put, it is all about your gear. A player who is all geared up in epic armor and carrying an epic weapon will crush their opponents whether PC or NPC. I know, some NPCs are huge bosses that are designed for raids, but on a solo level, players who have acquired the best loot are extremely strong opponents. This dynamic has forced many (if not all) players to work on getting high-end gear for their characters. Using this gear based system Blizzard gives its players few choices to get the best armor and weapons.|
You can read more here.
MMORPG.com is proud to announce that we have partnered with Acclaim in order to bring another exciting beta contest to our members!
From now until October 1, 2006 @ 9PM EDT we will be taking entries into our 9Dragons 200 Beta Contest. Entering this contest you will have a chance to win a beta test account for the upcoming fantasy game 9Dragons being published by Acclaim.
As with all of our contests, the more days you login to MMORPG.com the greater your chances of winning! (see official rules for details)
Are you ready to enter? Click here!
MMORPG.com is pleased to release the August month-end episode of our podcast, Game/On:
This week MMORPG.com is pleased to present the end-of august version of Game/On. This week, Jon hits the commentary solo, talking about EVE Online, Non-Disclosure Agreements and more while Dana Massey sits down with Jason Roberts, the Lead Designer of EverQuest II to talk about their deity system.
You can listen to the podcast here.
Greg Wiatroski, the Lead Developer of Toontown Online, covered his own event for MMORPG.com recently. This Disney children's MMORPG recently hosted Toonfest. Here is what happened:
| Today (August 26th) we’re hosting the first-ever fan-fest for Toontown Online in Burbank, CA at Walt Disney Studios. Since the event sold out in one week, we were expecting a strong turn out of enthusiastic fans – a group that ranges from kids and teens to moms and dads. I arrived on-site around 8:30am and was thrilled with the setup that the events team had put together. The setting, decorations and backdrops really brought the game to life along Mickey Avenue. There were over 40 computers set up for an in-game scavenger hunt and for Goofy Speedway grand prix racing as well as stages for developer Q&A sessions and sneak peek panels.
Throughout the day I’ll be on-stage for four "Sneak Peek" panels where we will give the guests a preview of what is in the cards for Toontown Online. I am also looking forward to watching our guests play the Toontown themed carnival games, checking out the many fan costumes and maybe even trying my hand at some of the activities like “Squirt the Cog.”
You can read his whole diary here.
Thanks to Troy and company for making this happen every week.
Turbine has released a new bathc of Alpha Player Journals for our reading enjoyment. Below, you will find only a sampling of what appears on th site, so follow the link below to read the whole thing:
My adventures began shortly after the Alpha 3 players were permitted to begin playing, Monday evening. At first, I was admittedly overwhelmed by a sense of awe just to be in the world. I didn't have much trouble figuring out the newbie instance and solving the quest objectives. I did have a little bit of trouble figuring out how to use the different chat channels, but after a few failed attempts, I was able to find out how to change my default channel. After that, the learning curve seemed to be fairly easy. Tiggs and other players were very quick to answer questions and give advice and instructions.
I am currently a level 10, Female Human Burglar. I have run across a few bugs, but not nearly as many as I expected. The quest log is terrific! I have only had problems solving 1 quest so far due to inadequate or unclear objectives, which others have also posted about on the forums and it's being worked on. I really love the Lore Book with its additional objectives to receive rewards from. I am quite eager to see more and am already feeling pretty addicted.
The servers have been remarkably stable. There was one reset last night, but other than that I have not had any crashes. There is lag whenever I am in a crowded area, but I've seen worse in games that are post-launch, and truly believe it can be alleviated with further optimization.
I have to give the Turbine two thumbs up on their efforts so far. The game is shaping up very well. The communication between players and employees is excellent and I think they are doing a wonderful job making the playing experience a positive and fun time for everyone.
Read it all here.
Age of Conan has sent out a reminder to all of its fans that they will be appearing at Dragoncon in Atlanta this week:
This week sees us at the Dragoncon convention in Atlanta. With lots of fun and a chance to meet some of the team, make sure you check out the details.
Several Funcom events are planned including panels on Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, a Funcom fan gathering and participation in several of the panels going on including those on our games and a special panel on getting a job in the game industry.
All players of Funcom titles are welcome to come by the booth and meet with ARK, the GridStream Production Crew, Gms and Devs from Funcom.
See the Dragoncon schedule for times and locations. Stop by the Funcom booth in the Marriott (booth 211) for info on a special Saturday night gathering. Attend in costume or bring an item fashioned after one from Anarchy Online and get a prize!
Scott Allie the editor of the Conan Dark Horse comics will do signings at the Funcom booth in the Marriott (booth 211) on Sunday Sept 3rd from 3-4pm. Scott writes and edits for Dark Horse Comics and other publishers. Editing credits include Conan, Hellboy, The Goon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Serenity. His writing includes the horror comic The Devil's Footprints.
Bring your camera for special photo opportunities with Conan's throne!
We look forward to seeing you there.
For more on Age of Conan click here.