Looks like Blizzard’s shadowy new MMO is kicking it into high gear. Today, World of Warcraft lead designer Jeffery Kaplan finally typed /gquit of his own accord (and didn’t end up naked in the middle of Orgrimmar) – leaving behind World of Warcraft in favor of Blizzard’s “unannounced MMO.”
“I wanted to take a moment to let the community know that I’ve switched roles here at Blizzard to work on our upcoming, unannounced MMO. World of Warcraft has been such a central part of my life these past six and a half years, and it’s success would not have been possible without the tremendous community around it, so I wanted to say thank you to all our players who’ve shared this amazing experience with us so far,” Kaplan said.
Does this mean that WoW is taking an exceedingly slow drive over to the retirement home, though? Kaplan said no, but in a far less succinct manner.
“I still plan to be very involved with the future course of World of Warcraft, but will leave the day to day operations of World of Warcraft to my partners in crime, Tom Chilton and J. Allen Brack.”
Unfortunately, if Blizzard’s “one frontline release per year” strategy holds up, we probably won’t actually play this game – or maybe even hear anything about it – until at least 2011, assuming StarCraft II hits in 2009 and Diablo III in 2010.
In other words, don’t cancel your WoW subscriptions just yet, folks.
Microsoft received considerable buzz over its Silverlight web browser plugin during the Beijing Olympics, in which NBC opted to use Silverlight rather than Adobe's Flash to stream its Olympics coverage. But it didn't take long for NBC to run back to Flash once the Olympics were over, taking the spotlight off of the Silverlight platform.
Silverlight is back in the news, this time for a new contest Microsoft has launched at serverquestcontest.com. The contest is being aimed at Silverlight game developers age 16 or older and living in the U.S. To enter, eligible developers must create a user profile on the site, download the Software Development Kit, and then use it to create an online game.
Participants can submit up to three entries, each of which must follow a set of strict guidelines. These include a file download size not larger than 4MB and total file size of less than 10MB, resolution of 800x430 or less, the game cannot include any upload file aspects nor can it require or allow any external communication, it must be developed in Silverlight 2.0 and submitted in object/binary code format, and finally the game must clearly indicate to others that it is governed by the Creative Commons license. Phew!
The contest runs through April 30, 2009 (11:59 PM PST), with a voting period to take place between May 1 and May 14. Winners will be announced May 25, 2009.
Cool, right? Granted, Valve has never given us reason to fear that it’s into the whole nickel-and-diming thing, but it’s still nice to hear that our dwindling budgets can now go toward more important things like Starbucks coffee, impulse iPhone app purchases, and a replacement iPhone after an ill-advised literal interpretation of DanceDanceRevolution S Lite.
Oh hey, here are some details about the new rides the Survival DLC pack will bring to Valve’s carnal carnival. Apparently, the mode will see “up to four players set records for the longest time surviving hordes of zombies on over 12 maps.” That’s all anyone knows at this point, really.
The odds have always been stacked against Call of Duty: World at War. This sequel revisits an undeniably exhausted FPS setting—World War II—and wasn’t designed by series creator Infinity Ward, but Treyarch has delivered a sufficiently compelling shooter. World at War doesn’t bring any lasting innovations to the FPS genre, but it has enough unrelenting shootouts and dramatically scripted events to keep us immersed in the action.
Generally, the term “conference call” stirs up images of stuffy businessmen swapping stories about things like revenues, stocks, and how to be completely out of touch with today’s youth (“Call your online database ‘kgb’! Then fill your commercial with facetious douchebags!”). However, there ain’t no conference call like an Activision Blizzard conference call, and today’s game of telephone didn’t disappoint.
First up, Acti-Blizz finally took war back to the future with the announcement that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will launch during Q4 (real, not fiscal) of 2009. Is it us, or is the recession looking a little pale?
Continuing its elongated pop-the-question date with our PCs, Activision Blizzard also plans to launch StarCraft 2’s beta sometime in the “months ahead.” In addition, the much-anticipated beta will include an early version of Battle.net’s next iteration, which will probably just open a portal to heaven or something.
Did we mention that Activision won’t be laying-off anyone? Presumably at all? Draw your own conclusions.
No one makes a big open-world role-playing game like Bethesda. That’s what the Elder Scrolls games are famous for, and that’s what the company has brought to the post-nuclear-holocaust milieu of Fallout 3. The game takes you to the world outside Vault 101, the charred remains of the Washington D.C. metro area 200 years after the nukes flew. Truly, Bethesda has built an amazing world.
And this world is the star of the game. Fallout 3 is massive—closer to a single-player MMO than a traditional, linear single-player RPG. As you explore the Wasteland, which surrounds D.C., you’ll meet hundreds of people, many of whom have their own stories to tell, and find hundreds of locations to explore. These range from fully fledged towns to survivalist outposts to ammo caches to camps for the various factions that populate the land. As in Oblivion, you control your progress through the game. Should you choose to skip the main quest, you can explore the world and look for adventure, completing quests and reaping the rewards along the way.
In the original Far Cry, rigging a tree branch to clothesline a hapless foe was a deadlier alternative to, you know, shooting them. With guns. Unfortunately, Far Cry 2 de-fanged guns in a similar manner (minus the pro-deforestation propaganda) – something for which we nearly awarded it a seven out of ten. Good thing, then, that Ubisoft Montreal has announced a new “Hardcore” Far Cry 2 multiplayer patch that promises to make sure in-game guns’ bite outdoes trees’ bark (grooooan).
"The hardcore mode has been designed as an answer to a community request," Ubisoft community developer Atmon wrote on the game's official forums. "Some players were seeking and expecting a more realistic experience.”
A new damage model will be applied with increased damage for all weapons.
All weapons have been rebalanced on normal mode, and on hardcore mode.
Enemy names will disappear after the spawning invincibility period is over (A shield is displayed above a player’s head for a few second to show that he is invincible).
A new option will allow you to tweak spawning time (but not spawning rate).
A new search option will be available in multiplayer to allow you to find games that are playing on hardcore mode.
The patch hasn’t been given a drop date just yet, but we’ll be sure to give you a heads up when it does.
Multiverse might be on the verge of revolutionizing web-based gaming, or so it claims. Using its technology platform, Multiverse says it's possible for developers to create 2D, browser-based versions of a full-scale downloadable 3D game, and then allow players to interact between them.
"Now, you can have proven genres of videogames, really popular games, like shooters, real-time strategy, sports, and things that exist on consoles or specially installed games, and those types of games can live in your web browser without a download," said Corey Bridges, Mulitverse co-founder.
To showcase the technology, Multiverse released a simple Flash game called Battle that runs on Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, and Kongregate. According to Bridges, Battle is one of the first-ever multiplayer, real-time, action or combat-based Flash games. And unlike most multiplayer Flash games, Battle isn't turn-based.
But the real value to developers in having a 2D to 3D cross-over capability might come from being able to offer free online trials where potential game buyers can jump in and play with other people without requiring a download.
Whether or not Multiverse's platform catches on, only time will tell. But according to Bridges, we may not have to wait long. He says a small handful of developers have begun taking their in-development 3D worlds and "are making a window into those worlds that can be done in Flash."
Well, kinda. GameStop has reopened its palace doors to Dawn of War II and – by virtue of its inclusion with the game -- would-be assassin Steam, but THQ’s Saints Row II and 2K’s NBA 2K9 remain conspicuously absent.
Upon its removal from GameStop’s pre-order list, Dawn of War II was thought to be the opening volley in a scuff between storefronts – retail vs. online, to be specific. GameStop employees, however, insisted that the retail giant merely exhausted its pre-order supply for a short period of time.
Certainly, GameStop’s passive refusal to slow its waterfalls of boiling oil for Saints Row II and NBA 2K9 seems a little odd, but re-stocking Dawn of War II – PC gaming’s first heavy-hitter of 2009 – pretty much puts the kibosh on any sort of cold war between GameStop and Steam.
Well, that’s that. Every single inhabitant of the Capital Wasteland – be they man, woman, or part-man, part-tree, with-another-person-in-there-somewhere-maybe – has gazed upon our newly acquired invisibility suit, badass lightning sword (technical term), and gauss rifle, and felt envy’s green tendrils grip the Do Want lobe (again, technical term) of their brains. Hell, we even created a separate Fallout 3 save file in order to murder all of said people with said badass lightning sword. Long story short, we’ve encountered the Wasteland’s most intimidating foe: boredom.
But sadly, we might just have to expose our virgin minds to other games, because Bethesda recently sent word that Fallout 3’s remaining DLC packs, The Pitt and Broken Steel, have each been delayed for a month.
The Pitt will now go live in March, while Broken Steel and its ten levels-worth of new content won’t emerge from the vault until April.