No one can deny that StarCraft II's recently announced reverse-Voltron has officially renewed Blizzard's license to print money, but they can deny Blizzard's good intentions. Vehemently. Don't worry, though; the StarCraft crafters went out of their way to provide a few argument-dominating quotes on the off-chance you're still feeling a tad miffed about their decision.
"One of the things that [StarCraft II lead producer] Chris Sigaty was saying in interviews this weekend is that we had always planned to do two expansion packs for StarCraft II. This structure just reshuffles how we were going to do things," StarCraft rep Bob Colayco told Edge in response to the titular moo-juice allusion.
"Just to give you some context, typically with Blizzard RTSes, we release a single-player campaign that gives players just a taste of each race. The original StarCraft had 10 missions each or so for Terrans and Protoss. When we released the Brood Wars expansion pack, there was another eight or so missions for each of the missions."
Each race-focused StarCraft II release, then, includes the same number of missions -- and therefore, roughly the same amount of content -- as their unified predecessor. However, instead of a pithy 10 missions per race, the Terrans stand front and center for 30 missions, as do the Zerg and Protoss.
"Well, if you want to say 'one game' is 90 missions long, then yeah, I guess you’re only getting a third of a game each time," Colayco added. "Show me a game where there are 90 missions. We’re giving players a full-fledged single-player campaign experience included in each of the games."
See? That's no cash-grabbing scheme. That's Blizzard's sacrifice. We'd type more, but we're too busy saluting and choking back a single, glistening tear.
StarCraft 2 will likely be so great, many players will want to buy it twice. Unfortunately, however, after today's BlizzCon announcement, they'll be doing Blizzard (and themselves) a huge disservice by only making two StarCraft treks. Simply put, they'll be missing 1/3 of the spacefaring RTS' universe-spanning plot, because Blizzard has announced that StarCraft 2's campaign will clear the launch pad on three separate occasions.
Predictably, each release will focus on one of StarCraft's trifecta of races. Terrans: Wings of Liberty will be first out the gate, presumably with the national sport that is the game's multiplayer mode. Zerg: Heart of the Swarm and Protoss: Legacy of the Void, then, will be pseudo-expansion packs.
Don't get the wrong idea, though. Blizzard executive VP of game design Rob Pardo explained that the Zerg and Protoss titles will "be like expansion packs," but that they'll bombard players with content. "We want them to feel like standalone products," he said.
In order to accomplish this, each campaign will break off from the rest of the pack with its own feature set. The Zerg's flesh-crawling installment will include RPG elements, while the Protoss are going the diplomatic route. Terrans, on the other hand, seem to be getting the short end of the stick with only a Protoss mini-campaign to their name, but we'll see.
Pardo also noted that Blizzard sliced and diced StarCraft 2's campaign not for fat stacks of cash (WoW would get jealous, after all), but in order to avoid delaying the game or cutting corners on quality.
As for how long in between installments we'll be hanging from cliffs, Blizzard wouldn't say. However, knowing Blizzard, we're guessing the games will be less of a Zerg-rush and more of a Zerg-Half-Life 2 Episode Three.
Anyone that plays World of Wacraft will know all about the woes of bots. They provide players with unfair advantages, and the ability to level their character when they’re not even at their computer. Blizzard has been aware of this as well, having recently won a lawsuit against the bot program MMOGlider’s creator, MDY Industries.
For those that don’t know, MMOGlider is a third party application that runs the many repetitive tasks involved in World of Warcraft. Whether it’s leveling your character up from 1 to 70 or grinding for leatherworking materials, the application can do it for you. And the best part about it? You don’t even have to be at your computer, you simply run a script that sends your character in a pre-determined route.
Blizzard’s lawsuit is based on MMOGlider’s automation of said repetitive tasks. Using this application to complete these tasks breaks the terms of service that players agree to when they play World of Warcraft. The software is said to have sold 100,000 copies for $25 a piece.
While admittedly $6 million is no small number (unless you’re Blizzard), the amount could have been higher if MDY hadn’t won some of the prior arguments about the claimed damages in court. But there’s still a possibility for more, should Blizzard decided to appeal the judgment in favor of going for their original claim, which was double or triple that number.
The remainder of the case is set to go to court in January 2009, where the last of the issues in the legal conflict are likely to be settled.
Stop us if you've heard this story before: A semi-small dev team, formed in the mid-90's, lovingly crafts two 2D RTSes before upgrading right into the third dimension. The next RTS in their flagship series isn't quite as well-received as the previous two, but still flies off the shelves and perches itself on top of the sales charts. So what do they do next? Why, craft an MMO with the assistance of an extremely lucrative license! Got any guesses as to who we might be talking about?
That's right, Ensemble Studios.
Yes, Blizzard and Ensemble, after a quick make-up job, could probably star in The Parent Trap: Gamer's Edition (A Brett Ratner Film), but cribbed answers from each other's track records are only the beginning.
As early as 2006, Ensemble began work on a Halo MMO. Here, however, we're willing to wager that any similarities to Blizzard's MMO-opus are more than mere coincidence. Sadly, we'll never know what Ensemble had planned for this decidedly PC-oriented jaunt through Halo's universe, because it's been decomposing in Ensemble's recycle bin for nearly a year, according to a thorough analysis by Gamasutra.
World of Warcraft is pretty popular. So much so, in fact, that Blizzard could probably slap its painfully recognizable logo on an empty box and still have The Sims spewing furious, unintelligible curses over their relinquished seat at the top of the sales charts. But Blizzard would never do that to you. Instead, the mighty blue giant is cramming Warcraft-branded boxes with Wrath -- an ethereal substance that, admittedly, is still a fairly hard sell.
Don't worry, though; for those of you who feel deserving of an actual reward for you unbridled -- and somewhat perplexing -- devotion, Blizzard is also releasing a Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Edition. Within its confines, you'll find the following:
The Art of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, a 208-page book featuring never-before-seen images from the game.
An exclusive in-game pet: Frosty, the baby frost wyrm.
A behind-the-scenes DVD containing over an hour of developer interviews, the Wrath of the Lich King intro cinematic with director’s commentary, and more.
The official soundtrack CD, containing 21 epic tracks from the game, along with exclusive bonus tracks.
A mouse pad featuring a map of the newly opened continent of Northrend.
Two World of Warcraft Trading Card Game March of the Legion™ starter decks, along with two exclusive cards available only in the Collector’s Edition.
This "expansion," as Blizzard is calling it, hits shelves on November 13. Frankly, though, we just can't understand the appeal. Oh well.
SOE does what Blizzardon't. The online-focused branch of Sony's empire is trying its darndest to wed console and PC MMOs with its upcoming title, The Agency. However, the bride and groom to be aren't exactly hitting it off.
First up, PC games are much more susceptible to hacks and 'sploits than their console brethren, and "Being able to manage that is no simple task," said Executive Producer Matt Wilson.
Second, the mouse-keyboard vs. controller feud continues to rage, and neither side seems interested in saluting the ol' white flag.
"We can do things to equalize them, whether that's aim assist on the console or other things on the PC, but when we've actually done focus group testing and so forth, you're always going to have the console players versus the PC players," Wilson noted.
However, the final hurdle is definitely the tallest. Wilson explained:
"MMOs live and die by their updates, and we need to be able to update our product frequently," says Wilson. "The console requires a certification process, while the PC does not. And so it's going to be really difficult for us to maintain that synchronization across both platforms, and make that work really easily with the value of the MMO."
Assuming that SOE satisfactorily solves all of these issues, would you even want to play a PC-PS3 MMO?
"With great power, there must also come great responsibility" -- Uncle Ben, Spider-Man
"With great power and great responsibility, there must also come walls of text." -- Far too many videogames
It's atrocious, too. Last night, I was forced to read my way through the opening of a game released only a week ago. The game's gloriously rendered prison cell bars would likely have even the rottenest of holding cells in jealous fits, yet mere moments after I moved beyond those gnarled steel beams, I was assailed by a text tutorial of such ridiculous length that it would've benefitted from a rabbit-ear feature.
"This is next-gen?" I wondered aloud.
We can polish graphics to such a sheen that even the most mundane objects wrap their tendrils securely around our eyes and never let go, yet integrating a tutorial with actual gameplay is an insurmountable task? The very thought is absurd, and doesn't exactly get me pumped to play the rest of the game. After all, if gameplay matters so little that the designers couldn't even be bothered to, you know, teach me through interactivity -- a little quirk that I hear makes games sorta cool -- then why should I expect anything better from the rest of their game? It's like popping a Porsche chassis over a Flintstones car; take the thing for a spin and your next stop will be the used-car dealership.
So, which ripe-smelling, antiquated videogame "features" do you think should be given the boot? Are there any that you'd actually like to see stick around?
Today's Roundup is all about the future -- no artifacts from 1993 here. Inside, you'll find only the latest news concerning Deus Ex 3, F.E.A.R. 2 (Yep, that's the name, now), and two separate plans to "save" PC gaming.
As sunlight glinted off a grenade reaching the zenith of its soldier-bound arc, I could only wonder what my hapless opponent was thinking. See, the man was rooted -- as though entangled in nearby bushes -- to his position. There had to be a reason. Maybe he was a mathematician without peer; he'd done the calculations and no matter how fast he ran, he'd soon be engulfed by my ordinance's cantaloupe-colored splash. Or maybe his path in life had been bordered by four leaf clovers -- his luck so great, he was certain the grenade would be a dud. Maybe he just couldn't take life anymore. But then all of that ceased to matter.
As I continued my stroll through the brightly colored playground of destruction, I noticed that other soldiers were, all told, pretty okay with Havok-powered, life-halting flights.
Yeah, my enemies were walking vegetables. The only damage I accrued was a sinking sense of utter disappointment. Mercenaries 2, after its top-notch predecessor, labored development cycle, and catchy commercial jingle, was a big, fat letdown.
So, have you ever surfed a game's hype wave, only to reach a completely non-descript shore? What's your biggest gaming letdown? What game had you brimming with excitement, but only left you shuddering with rage? (And don't say Daikatana, because that's a cop-out.)
Today's Roundup is reporting live from outside a dark, ominous cloud that's recently enveloped one of the decade's biggest upcoming games. Additionally, you'll find stories about the MMO market's failings, a dev whose unmentionables you'll want to boot, and the Xbox 360's upper limits. All that and more after the break.
A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the venerable Tim Rogers, an opinionated games writer if ever there was one. Here's the fun thing about Rogers, though: If you were to shuffle one of his reviews in with those of ten other game reviewers, his piece would stand out like the Batman in daylight, foremost for one obvious reason -- it'd be really, really long. Rogers meanders all over the place, delving into each aspect of a game, as well as many things seemingly unrelated, which he then acknowledges as seemingly unrelated. Sometimes, after noticing that 15 minutes have ticked away from your life and your web browser's scroll bar thing is only half-way down the page, you just wish he'd get to the point.
Rogers, as far as game reviewers go, is an anomaly. People don't want a novel; they want pros, cons, and a numerical score, because they'd rather be dashing someone's virtual brains against the pavement than learning. So I guess it kind of makes sense that games generally exist on the flipside of that reviewing stereotype.
Take, for instance, Resident Evil. Find the red lion, blue tiger, and green goat to form a key so that you can crank open the Voltron door. Sure, your gun-toting pyromaniac of a hero probably could've written a book titled "101 Ways To Pop A Door Off Its Hinges," but where's the fun in that?
Oddly, even though we constantly quip about padded-out sequences or pointless sidequests in our favorite games, we sound the sirens on the whaaambulance when those elements finally take a hint.
So which do you want? Games that toss in chores and fetch quests in exchange for that ever so marketable "60 hours of gameplay!" bullet point, or masterfully designed experiences -- like Portal -- that leave you hungry for more?
Well, today's Roundup, described by some as a "masterfully designed experience -- like Portal -- that leaves you hungry for more," hopes to satisfy all comers. Caged within, you'll find stories about a bill of rights for PC gamers, a new race for StarCraft II, and free gas! You heard me -- free gas! It's all after the break.
I can't sate my Twitter addiction. I'm loathe to hit up my favorite gaming sites. I can't even allow my glance to linger on iGoogle. Why? Because PAX is in town, and I'm, well, not. Due to circumstances beyond my control, PAX is out of my reach this year. So while the hardest of the hardcore come together for a weekend of gaming goodness, I'm doing my best to avoid a jealousy-induced pity party. But, even though my non-presence at PAX is a huge loss for the entire gaming community, it got me thinking:
The PAXian legion, as I mentioned earlier, is predominately composed of so-called "hardcore" gamers. Without even being in the same state as the community-focused gaming expo, I can assure you that over 100 attendees will be clad in "Green Linen Shirt" T-Shirts, replete with armor stats and a sour tinge of body odor. Why? The answer's obvious: they're gamers -- and proud. For a number of reasons -- the medium's relative youth, alarmists' tendency to buzz about, etc. -- dedicated gamers embrace their hobby with a near religious fervor.
Sure, movies have "cinemaphiles" and literature has its bookworms, but gamers are Scientology to other mediums' group of co-workers who meet sporadically for a round of Putt-Putt. With time, I imagine our community will fragment -- genres will expand and tastes will narrow -- but for now, we're a thick stew, full of assorted meats and veggies, but still part of a cohesive whole.
So, do you call yourself a gamer? Are videogames an integral piece of your personality? Is your pride inextricably tied to your Gamerscore? Or are you just a person who happens to play games, and nothing more?
Today's Roundup is like a perfect sundae, with just enough gooey non-gamer-friendly fare drizzled over a vanilla base of terms like "ESA," "second-hand videogame sales," and "Starcraft II release date." There is a spoon, and it's after the break.