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Age of Conan : New Contest

Posted Sep 13, 2006 by Jon Wood

Age of Conan has announced a new contest. All you have to do to enter is email them your details, and you could win a "Conan Ultimate Guide":

 

Want to win one of the great new Conan Ultimate Guides? Check out our competition for your chance to land one of these amazing books!

With the release of the 'Ultimate Guide to the world of Conan' we have teamed up with the folk at DK Publishing to offer you the chance to win one of ten of these wonderful fully illustrated books.

You can find more information on the Ultimate Guide here, including sample pages that show some examples of the great information and images that has been put together for the guide. It's also something close to our own hearts and several of the games concept artists have contributed artwork to the publication so make sure you check it out!

To have a chance to win all you have to do is follow these simple instructions:

  • Send an email to community@ageofconan.com with the title 'Ultimate Conan Guide Competition Entry'
  • Include your name, date of birth, valid email address and postal address in the body of the email
  • Entries must be recieved by 1200 GMT on the 1st of October 2006
  • Any entries not following these instructions will not be valid entries

For more on Age of Conan click here.

EverQuest II : Database Update and Screenshots

Posted Sep 13, 2006 by Jon Wood

EverQuest II has announced that tomorrow (Thursday), they will be upgrading their database, which may cause some services to be unavailable. The upgrade will take place from 4am to 8am PDT.

 

On Thursday, September 14th from 4am to 8am PDT we will be conducting some upgrades to our database. We understand the importance of providing you with a high quality product and this will help us achieve that goal. During the upgrade some services may be temporarily unavailable.

The services affected include:

  • Subscriptions (changing, modifying, creating, and canceling)
  • Station Exchange
  • Station.com Store (purchases)
  • Fan Clubs (sign up)

We have also recently published five new screenshots from Echoes of Faydwer:






For more on EQII click here.

EverQuest II : Dev Chest

Posted Sep 13, 2006 by Jon Wood

SOE's EverQuest II has released a new Dev Chest. The Dev Chest points readers toward some interesting posts that have been made recently by EQII devson the game's official forums:

Sometimes it's hard to find the buried treasures contained within the EverQuest II forums. The Dev Chest highlights useful, insightful, or entertaining posts from the developers that you may want to check out. Get your treasure maps and shovels ready--we're about to discover a Dev Chest!

  • Are you curious about what the gods did while they were exiled? Well, Moorgard has some ideas as to what went on!
  • Chicken Little Effect...or harvesting nerf? A discussion ensued and Dymus answers these very questions in this thread.
  • A discussion has come up regarding "Cherry Picking 101". This is an interesting topic which Beghn offers some official answers to!

For more on EQII click here.

D&D Online : Weekly Development Activities

Posted Sep 13, 2006 by Jon Wood

Turbine's Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach has released a new edition of "Weekly Development Activities" for our reading and enjoyment. You can check out the whole thing by following the link below:

 

Check out the latest updates to the "Weekly Development Activities." The goal for this feature is to give solid expectations on what you can expect to see in future updates.

In QA

These items are in QA and should be a part of the next scheduled update - Stormreach Under Siege.

General

  • NEW - The Spell Selection window should no longer crash the client.
  • NEW - Some quest rewards were becoming permanently ransacked; this is now fixed.
  • The tavern in Necropolis is now named "One Foot Inn" and has a new flavor NPC to relate the tale of how it got the name.

Read it all here.

Vanguard : AGC: Jeff Butler

Posted Sep 12, 2006 by Dana Massey

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is one of the most anticipated games on our list. At AGC, Staff Writer Laura Genender interviewed President and Exec. Producer Jeff Butler and Senior Marketing and PR Manager April Jones. They concentrated primarily on diplomacy and crafting.

On Thursday I met with Sigil’s President/Executive Producer Jeff Butler and Senior Manager of Marketing/PR April Jones to talk about the highly anticipating upcoming MMORPG, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

I took this opportunity to talk to Butler and Jones about one of Vanguard’s unique features: the presence of an in-depth diplomacy system. According to Butler, this system is complete and is being integrated into Beta 3. All that is left between now and launch - which should be some time this winter – is for designers to flesh out the depth of the system.

As much as I fear getting my hopes up, if the diplomacy system is as complex and engaging as Butler described, Vanguard might be the game to bridge the gap between social gamers (There, The Sims, etc.) and combat types. The diplomacy system, paired with crafting, should provide more than enough content for players seeking a non-combat experience.

The rest of the article is here.

Myst Online : AGC: Ron Meiners Interview

Posted Sep 12, 2006 by Dana Massey

Ron Meiners is hard at work on the task of bringing the dream of Myst Online back to life in URU Live. The Cyan Worlds community manager spoke to our own Aaron Roxby at AGC.

1993’s Myst was an important game, but I don’t need to tell you that. If you played computer games during the 1990s, you most likely were aware of it, even if you didn’t play it. It has sold over six million units to date and was the world’s top selling computer game during most of the nineties, only to be dethroned by Will Wright and his Sims. Developer Cyan Worlds created four sequels, with the main storyline coming to a close in the appropriately titled Myst V: End of Ages. A new, massively multiplayer sequel, entitled URU Live was scheduled to be released in 2003. Unfortunately, that release never happened. Publisher Ubisoft was not happy with the number of players participating in the open beta phase and URU Live was cancelled in 2004.

This is not an unheard of tale in the volatile world of MMO publishing, and is where the story usually ends. The thing about Myst fans is that they are a passionate bunch. The URU community, those that had played the game during the beta phase, weren’t going to let it die that easily. Fans of Myst are by their nature fans of puzzles, and with URU cancelled they faced a though one. How to keep playing URU? Almost immediately, fan-run servers began to spring up. Not only did players find a way to continue playing their game, they began to independently expand it, creating new content to add to the game. Groups of URU players began to recreate their community in other virtual worlds. This phenomenon was the subject of recent dissertation by Celia Pierce.

You can read more here.

General : AGC: Gamebryo Interview

Posted Sep 12, 2006 by Dana Massey

Emergent Technologies Senior Engineer Vincent Scheib spoke to our own Aaron Roxby at AGC to discuss the work they have done on their Gamebryo Engine. Among others, it currently powers Civilization IV, Dark Age of Camelot and the upcoming Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

At Thursday’s Austin Game Conference, I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from Emergent Technologies about their Gambryo game engine and Metrics database system. I was introduced to Gambryo by Senior Engineer Vincent Scheib. Gambryo is a game engine designed with flexibility in mind. The engine made its debut with Bethesda’s popular game Oblivion. To give some idea of the flexibility Gambryo offers, the second game created with it was Sid Meier’s Civilization IV. The engine has since been licensed by Mythic, who is using it for both Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online. Electronic Arts has recently licensed the engine as well.

While Gambryo does trade off some of the benefits you can receive from a more specialized engine, it makes up for this with several factors. From a licensing standpoint, it is a less costly alternative. In fact, Emergent offers Gambryo Element, a low cost version of the engine, designed for smaller development teams, such as those creating games for Xbox Live Arcade.

You can read more here.

Lord of the Rings Online : Dev Journal

Posted Sep 12, 2006 by Jon Wood

Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, has released a new developer journal of sorts, as Lead Systems Designer Nik Davidson addresses the idea of PvP and playing the bad guys:

 

Gundo's wounds were serious. The dwarves had beaten the poor hobbit soundly with maces and axes. He'd lost a lot of blood. The corpses of his friends littered the field, but he was almost in the clear. His heart was beating fast; he had sent several dwarves to their bloody end, and he could hear their angry yells behind him. He ran - ran as fast as his stubby little hobbit legs could take him, his hands white-knuckled, gripping the flag. At last, he crested the hill, and the great horn sounded. Victory! Victory, but at what cost?

Yeah, so that's what we're NOT doing.

When we announced there would be PvP in LOTRO, I knew some people immediately would come up with the above nightmare scenario. (Or worse. You guys are hella creative.) As such, we just sort of shook our heads as people concluded that we were turning our game into "HOBBIGEDDON: SLAUGHTER AT BAG END." Nothing could be further from the truth. What I'd like to do today is clarify what we mean when we talk about playing evil races, and PvP in LOTRO.

This is a story about a world at war. The War of the Ring is the central focus of the narrative; through a series of narrow victories, unlikely discoveries, noble sacrifices and selfless alliances, a war is won or lost. And to truly explore that conflict in the context of the game, we wanted that war to be fought, in part, player versus player as well as player versus environment.

Now, from time to time we've dropped the phrase "monster play," and then quickly scampered back to our island fortress and pretended it never happened. As the astute among you may have guessed, this is the cornerstone of our PvP solution.

What does this mean? Players will have a chance to take on the role of a minion of darkness, a dark creature such as a goblin, orc, troll& or maybe even something fouler! Your monster player character is temporary – as a monster player, you have quests to complete, but you don't level up as an orc. At launch, this is the only method by which players will be able to play as a member of an evil race.

So why walk on the dark side? Success as a monster player allows you to gain a number of different benefits, "Monster Points," if you will. These points can be used to gain access to bigger, meaner monster play avatars, but can also be used to give benefits to your main characters. Accumulating monster play points will allow you to benefit your persistent characters, giving everyone a reason to give evil a try every now and then. More on this later, but that's the essence of the cycle – jump in as a monster, do some damage, earn some points, and spend those points to either play bigger monsters (which can in turn earn more points) or buy some nice little perks for your characters.

Players, on the other hand, will have optional series of quests that will pit them against monster players, giving them reasons to go out and mix it up. PvMP is optional and consensual – you won't "stumble across" a monster player. PvMP will be allowed in specially delineated areas of the game. Some of these areas will be instanced, others will be accessible only through travel NPCs. Either way, you won't need to worry about an orc running through the Shire smacking Hobbits who are just minding their own business and eating pie.

As I'm fond of doing, this article covers the general "shape" of the system – more details are forthcoming. Personally, I'm pretty excited about this system. It's a compelling PvP system that fits very well with the world we're building, it's a very different take on an age-old system, and it will give players an opportunity to experience Middle-earth from a very different perspective than they might be used to!

Stay tuned for more details!

For more on LOTRO click here.

World of Warcraft : Xfire Contest Extended

Posted Sep 12, 2006 by Jon Wood

The Xfire WoW Summer Movie Contest, which was originially scheduled to conclude on the 12th of September, has been extended by two weeks until the 25th of September. Read on for more information:

 

Xfire Extends World of Warcraft Summer Movie Contest Deadline Two Weeks

Aspiring Machinima Movie Makers Have More Time to Polish Their Masterpieces or Work on a Second Submission

MENLO PARK, CA – September 8, 2006 – Xfire announces a two-week extension for entries to the World of Warcraft Summer Movie Contest, giving aspiring film makers enough time to polish, or even begin, their machinima masterpieces.

“It usually takes longer than you might think to make a quality video and it is important that all entrants get the proper amount of time to finish their work,” said Mike Cassidy, CEO of Xfire.

With the addition of a short film (2 min) category this year and the chances for entrants to win more than one prize, auteurs that are already finishing up their first movie have more time to work on a second submission. With over $23,000 in prizes from AMD, XFX, Sennheiser and Ideazon up for grabs, including a $5,000 enthusiast computer, the time is right to get going.

The new timeline for the events is as follows:

Sept 25: Deadline
October 9: Finalists Announced/Voting Begins
October 23: Voting Ends
October 27: Winners announced

Please visit our official World of Warcraft Movie Summer Contest Page to get all the details about the event http://www.xfire.com/cms/xf_wow_contest_summer.

For more on the contest click here.

Guild Wars : Nightfall Debut Event

Posted Sep 12, 2006 by Jon Wood

Nightfall, the newest game in the Guild Wars franchise, will be be making its debut in an event that's open to "anyone who would like to play". The event is scheduled to take place from the 22nd to the 24th of September:

 

Guild Wars Nightfall World Preview Event Set for September 22 - 24

Guild Wars Nightfall to Debut in Free Global Event Open to the Entire World! Millions of Guild Wars Players not the Only Ones Invited to the Big Event!

September 12, 2006 (BELLEVUE, WA) – Announced today by ArenaNet®, developer of the wildly-popular franchise Guild Wars®, the studio’s latest game Guild Wars Nightfall™ will make its debut in a massive event open to anyone and everyone who would like to play. The event will take place September 22, 2006, beginning at 12:01am PDT and running through September 24, 2006 at 11:59pm PDT.

The Guild Wars Nightfall World Preview Event will feature previews of the new environments, new missions, and new battle arenas. The event will allow players to create Nightfall-specific characters from the six core professions as well as the two new Nightfall™ professions, the Dervish and the Paragon, and try out new Nightfall skills. The entire Istani province of the new realm Elona will be open for player exploration, and players will be able to view the first Nightfall in-game cinematics. In addition, two new arenas will make their debut, the Sunspear Arena and Churranu Island.

For an added bonus, the November 2006 issue of PC Gamer magazine, due in stores a week before the event, boasts a Guild Wars Nightfall cover story, and includes an access key for an exclusive, in-game, Gray Giant miniature. The Gray Giant will be useable during the World Preview Event, and then may be reactivated with a Guild Wars Nightfall account upon release.

The Guild Wars live events are world-renowned, drawing players in unprecedented numbers who log millions of gameplay hours. The Guild Wars Nightfall World Preview Event is expected to exceed prior Guild Wars beta records as eager fans await their first taste of one of the year’s most-anticipated games, and ArenaNet is preparing to handle the flux of participants on its servers.

Guild Wars, an instant bestseller worldwide upon its release in April 2005, and Guild Wars Factions, the number one game in both North America and Europe earlier this year, are global online roleplaying games. Guild Wars Nightfall continues the tradition of inviting players to immerse themselves in an epic storyline centered in a vibrant fantasy setting. Eager fans can get the Guild Wars Nightfall Prerelease Bonus Pack in stores on September 15, and the Guild Wars Nightfall Standard Edition and Guild Wars Nightfall Collector’s Edition on October 27, 2006.

For more on Guild Wars click here.

EverQuest II : Update #27 Notes

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Jon Wood

The devs over at EverQuest II have provided a neat little summary of notes for the game's Update #27:

 

Game Update #27 is live! If you didn't happen to catch the update notes we've got them here for you. Stop in and you'll be able to find out all the new features and content that we've added in this latest Game Update for EverQuest II!

For more on EQII click here.

Guild Wars : Autumn Season

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Jon Wood

Guild Wars is gearing up for a new fun season. As the weather gets colder and those traitorous trees start changing their leaves, the Autmn season is set to begin:

We will be restarting the Guild Wars Ladder this week, as a new fun season begins. The Autumn Season will give prizes in the form of copies of Nightfall and through in-game rewards, as well. The action starts at 17:00 GMT (10:00 a.m. PDT) this Thursday, September 14, 2006, and runs until 17:00 GMT (10:00 a.m. PDT) on Monday, October 16, 2006. Check out the rules for more information.

For more on Guild Wars click here.

World of Warcraft : Priest Talents and Spells

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Jon Wood

For all of you out there who are eagerly awaiting information about World of Warcraft's new expansion, "The Burning Crusade", Blizzard has updated their website with the new Priest talents and spells:

 

We have updated the Burning Crusade Talent Preview with the expansion's new Priest talents and spells. The spells and talents will be updated as development and tuning progress, so make sure to check back often.

For more on WoW click here.

Ryzom : Birthday and Ring Beta

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Jon Wood

The Saga of Ryzom is two years old. Not only that, but they are opening the Ryzom Ring beta as well. The beta is open to current paying customers, and allows people to try out and test the new expansion that allows players to create their own content.

 

Jon Wood had an opportunity to preview the expansion at AGC, so stay tuned to MMORPG.com for his article.

 

A special week is starting for Ryzom, it's birthday week! As you may already know, two years ago on the 16th of September, Ryzom went live and the first Homins could breath and run on Atys... But today is even more special as it also brings a very good and long awaited news: the opening of the Ryzom Ring Beta!

The Beta is reserved to our players who have a paying Ryzom account. As the Ring is currently available on the ATS (the Advanced Test Server), we are also opening the ATS to all of you. We copied your guilds and characters from three weeks ago.

In order to access the ATS and the Ring, you have to:

  • Create a copy of your fully patched Ryzom client folder;
  • Download this file, extract it, and paste this new client.cfg into your new folder, overwriting the one that is already there;
  • Launch the client_ryzom_rd.exe. You should have to patch between 600 MB to 1.5 GB.
  • While patching, why not reading the Ring Manual Beta version?

All you have to do now is have fun with the Ring on the ATS!

For more on The Saga of Ryzom click here.

ArchLord : Server Name Contest

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Jon Wood

The folks over at ArchLord are having a contest to go along with their beta. This one asks players to submit names for each of the five servers. Not just any names though, the five should actually follow a theme. The winner is going to get an ArchLord PC casing on top of the honor of having named the servers:

 

To coincide with the release of the Beta I am extremely excited to announce the ARCHLORD SERVER NAME COMPETITION!

One lucky winner will receive an exclusive ArchLord PC casing courtesy of MMOART.com as well has having all five ArchLord servers graced with the very names they have chosen.

So here are the details for you; we are asking you to provide names for all five servers:

  • These names must follow a theme that is evident across all five names.
  • When picking the names please avoid using real people, trademarked names and swear words. Generally, apply common sense.
  • Once you have settled on your five names, put them in an email along with your name, age, address and send it to archlord.comp@codemasters.com
  • Closing date for entries is Sept 15th 2006

Now comes the fun legal bit: "By entering the ArchLord Beta Server Competition ("Competition") you shall be deemed to have accepted the Competition's terms and conditions which can be found by clicking here. The competition is open to anyone who can comply with the Competition terms and conditions worldwide. No admission fee or purchase is necessary to participate. One entry per person."

For more on ArchLord click here.

General : AGC Talk: Moving Beyond Men in Tights

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Dana Massey

Jon Wood sat in on a panel interestingly called "Moving Beyond Men In Tights". This talk was given by Damion Schubert of BioWare Austin. Here is his report:

Working for a news site like this one, I have the opportunity to look at what people are saying about games, both on the side of the players and the developers. One thing that both sides have in common, even if they don’t realize it, is that they are both continually talking about the idea of innovation. Developers and Players alike are asking why we keep churning out so many “WoW clones”, games that simply copy and paste what has worked in the past. Schubert seemed to have a very simple answer. Because it works.

Schubert though, wanted to talk about ways that developers could innovate and still make a game that people wanted to play. The solution is “smart innovation”. Smart innovation, he told us, is “listening to and understanding the needs of your customers”. He says that one of the problems is that he sees far too much of what he called, “Crazy Innovation” which he defined as innovation that confuses people; no one cares about, and costs a lot of money. Another problem he noted was the industry Producer who, when presented with a design problem, says “What would WoW do?” He was quick to point out that while the industry often says that WoW simply was not innovative, they did have one huge innovation. WoW is soloable.

You can read more here.

General : AGC: Raph Koster's "Age of Dinosaurs"

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Dana Massey

Raph Koster was always a controversial figure when he was with Sony Online Entertainment. Now he's on his own and gave a talk at AGC called "The Age of Dinosaurs". Carolyn Koh reports.

On the second day of the AGC, I was assigned to cover the renowned industry guru of MMO Games, Raph Koster’s presentation, “The Age of Dinosaurs.” With Dana quipping that it would be right up my alley, me being in the “Dinosaur” age group. Ouch, score one, Dana!

“Fat Wookies should be able to belly-dance.” Raph Koster commented. “That was my last business decision made.”

By comparing the game industry to the dinosaurs, Koster warned a room full of game developers and media that the environment is changing rapidly and that they were doomed if they could not adapt.

You can read more here.

General : AGC Writing: Characters for Games

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Dana Massey

Aaron Roxby kept sneaking off to the AGC Writer's Conference to bring back reports of what he saw. This panel saw two of the BioWare single-player writers explaining how they create characters for games.

If Bioware is known for one thing, it is the deep, complex characters and dialogue that populate their virtual worlds. At the Austin Game Conference on Wednesday, Jade Empire Designer Mac Walters and Lead Writer Mike Laidlaw discussed the Bioware philosophy of character creation and how it is being implemented in their anticipated new game, Mass Effect.

Bioware’s RPGs have always dealt with incredible amounts of dialogue. As anyone who played Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic or Neverwinter Nights can attest, that translated to lots and lots of on-screen text. With Mass Effect, the writers and designers have new, very powerful tools for bringing their virtual actors to life. While this allows them unprecedented power for creating realistic, emotive characters, a whole new set of difficulties have presented themselves.

You can read more here.

General : AGC Blogs: Carolyn & Aaron

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Dana Massey

Aaron Roxby and Carolyn Koh deliver the final blog entries of our AGC coverage. Aaron comments on his last day, while Carolyn looks at days two and three.

Well, it is all over. I can no longer say that I have never covered a video game conference. AGC was a convention that I would describe as “nutritious”. As was previously stated, it is sort of like the Bizzarro world E3. The booths were low key, it was relatively quiet and people were there to work and get work, not to play. Not too much anyway. The panels I attended were almost all excellent and I found myself learning quite a bit.

On the last day, I met with folks from Uru Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea and Galaxy Life. All three looked are trying to offer that rarest of things in the MMO industry. Something new. Expect in depth coverage of those games soon.

You can read more of Aaron's blog here.

Carolyn's two entries are available here.

Gods and Heroes : Dev Profile

Posted Sep 11, 2006 by Jon Wood

It's amazing what you miss when you're travelling. Back on the 5th, Gods and Heroes published a new developer profile. You can read the whole profile by following the link below:

 

Welcome to the G&H Developer Profiles!

As the Development team has continued to grow over the past year we have gain a lot of new faces as well as many people you have never been introduced to that have been here since the beginning. These developer profiles will be an ongoing light-hearted series of introduction to the members of the Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising team.

Many of the comments are off-the-cuff and can help you start to understand just who these people are. And just remember, this is supposed to be fun and spur of the moment, so please take some of what is said with a grain of salt (and we make no promises).

The first person the community team was able to corner was John Danza, the Quest Lead for Gods & Heroes. Look for more info on the Quest system coming soon!

Read the profile here.

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