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  Review: Rise of Nations  
 
 
Posted 2003-06-17 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Rise of Nations

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Big Huge Games
Est. Price: $75CDN
Availability: Now


In the world of computer games, latest does not always equate greatest, but recently released Rise of Nations published by Microsoft Game Studios may by the cream of the strategy-game crop. Representing the inaugural title for developers Big Huge Games, Rise of Nations was guided from conception to completion by agile mind of veteran strategy game designer Brian Reynolds. Renowned for former hits Civilization II, and Alpha Centauri, Reynolds has poured the accumulated experience from these million-sellers into a new mould combining the best elements of popular Real-Time and Turn-Based Strategy games.

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  Preview: “Mythica”  
 
 
Posted 2003-04-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Microsoft Game Studios has announced in-house development of a hybrid MMORPG and single-player game where players adopt the role of fallen Norse hero on the road to godhood.

"Mythica," slated for release some time next year, uses the concept of "Private Realms," where the game experience is a little less cluttered (as with a public MMORPG server). Private Realms come in linear and "playscape" flavours. The former consists of handcrafted modules such as dugeon crawls, ambushes, or raids. Playscapes are also goal-oriented, but more freeform in nature and more conducive to repeated play than linear adventures. In addition to cosy Private Realms, gamers can engage in the usual party-based massively multiplaying adventures online gaming is best known for.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Preview: “A Tractor”  
 
 
Posted 2003-03-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A Tractor (PC)

Publisher: The Island Network
Developer: The Island Network
Price: $Free
Availability: Download



"A Tractor" is, if you believe the Web site, "the future of tractor-related internet gaming."

Free to play, and very, very strange, A Tractor puts players on islands that other players control and/or create. The rest is really hard to figure out. It seems that one's purpose in the game varies with which island you're on, as the owner of the island has configured such settings as "...how you gain points to the speeds of the vehicles to what happens when you die. Some islands are about earning money and building businesses, some are about fighting, some are combinations of these and other features." Judging by what I managed to glean from their arcane Web site, a big part of A Tractor is vehicular combat... but there is also "Crowfighting." Nothing about the game makes sense to a newcomer, but for a 3.4MB download, I'm willing to try it out.

More detail can be found in the extensive New Player Guides, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some screenshots from an upcoming upgrade to A Tractor:

Shot 1
Shot 2
Shot 3
Shot 4
Shot 5

Links not guaranteed for freshness.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Big Mac Attacked  
 
 
Posted 2002-11-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Remember when movie theatres only showed a few previews before a film? Remember when they added commercials to the mix? Videogames were advertisement-free once, too. Long lusted after as a vehicle for commercial messaging, games have finally joined the ranks of the rest of the entertainment industry.

In the soon-to-be blockbuster The Sims Online, players could find it difficult to avoid getting their fingers soiled on virtual McDonald's hamburgers. A deal struck between Sims publisher Electronic Arts and the fastfood mega-corporation allows Sims players to open up their own McDonald's kiosk and improve their game stats by consuming McD's greasy goodies. While news of this groundbreaking sponsorship deal fades quickly from memory, failure to address this latest barrage in the war on ad-free gaming could result in a super-sized sandwich of misery. Based on the success of previous Sims offerings, The Sims Online is an ideal high-profile backdrop in the war against "advergaming." The McDonald's kiosks that dot the imaginary battlefield are mere burger bunkers to be ad-busted in an anti-advergaming mission that could go down in the annals of gaming history.

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  Bites:  RUMBLINGS�IN�THE�DEEP  
 
 
Posted 2002-06-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 

Neverwinter Nights' End-User agreement has been amended. There is now wording that precludes BioWare/Infogrames from redistributing your original server-side modules, although downloadable modules are still fair game. [discussion>slashdot, my rambling comment here]

Thanks to Jos and Titus for individually pointing my browser to the Bloop story. Strange sound data suggests Godzilla may be real.

Just what we need-- yet another Instant Messaging service. This one's via file-sharing app Morpheus, and foolishly hopes to compete with AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger.

Looks like Micro$oft isn't the only one to screw up Web server security. The iron-clad Apache Web Server for Windows (oh, wait, maybe I was wrong about that M$ comment) is subject to DOS attacks. [bulletin>apache.org]

 
     
 
   
 
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  The First-Person Shooter Goes Retro  
 
 
Posted 2002-03-22 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
There was once a time when we didn't have videogames. You remember that, right? Well, maybe you don't, but that's okay -- I can help. Rewind a few decades, and the twitchiest games around were probably Hungry Hungry Hippos and Mousetrap. Board games were pretty much it for a quick, sit-on-your-ass game fix.

In the eighties, the whole board game industry got shaken up due to the sudden popularity of arcades and the primordial videogame consoles. If makers of tabletop games were lucky, a kid might stop playing her Atari or Colecovision long enough to sit down for some Pop-O-Matic Trouble. But, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em: So traditional game manufacturers like Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley cashed in on the arcade frenzy, coming out with board game versions of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Zaxxon. It wasn't long though before videogames started getting more and more complicated, busting out in a 3D stylee, ending the love affair between traditional games and videogames.

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  Bites: King Kong Versus Godzilla  
 
 
Posted 2001-12-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I picked up and played Aliens vs Predator 2 yesterday. The first-person perspective game allows one to play from the viewpoint of an Alien, Predator, human Marine or Corporate soldier. Each of the species has subclasses, basically light through heavy weapons and armour. The real joy of this game is being able to do the same things featured in the Aliens and Predator movies. Aliens can skitter around the floor, jump up and cling to walls, walk on the ceiling, and pounce from over fifty feet onto their victims in order to bite their heads off. Predators have the crazy infrared vision seen in the movies (it looks *exactly* like the movie), and can cloak themselves as well as employ a variety of harmful devices such as spearguns, plasma weapons, and netcasters. Marines and Corporates have life-form detectors, the cool M-41 machine gun, flamethrowers, miniguns, and even sniper rifles. Notable multiplayer game types include Team Deathmatch (one species versus another) and Survival, which pits Marines against Aliens. Initially all players but one are Marines. As Marines are killed, the player of the slain soldier then gets to play an Alien for the rest of the game. The result is exactly like the movies, where a group of terrified Marines shrinks in numbers while the Alien population overwhelms them. Marine players tend to huddle together in corners and tunnels, trying to conserve precious ammo as they fight off an Alien onslaught. The graphics are quite good, representing a variety of environments seen or hinted at in both movie properties. The sounds are straight from the films, replete with all the hissing, clicking, and bloodcurdling screams you'd expect. My species of choice- Alien Drone, because I like to kick it old school.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Novelist Jim Munroe Plays Games  
 
 
Posted 2001-06-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Jim Munroe writes novels to pay the bills, but would rather be making video games. A couple of years ago, HarperCollins Canada published his first novel, Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask. The experience so bolstered Munroe's hatred of the mainstream publishing industry that he published his second novel Angry Young Spaceman himself. With the same amount of sales and a better profit margin than his first novel, the 29-year-old Jim Munroe seems to have developed a killer strategy for self-publishing. A strategy he threatens to apply to the web, to video games and beyond.

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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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