Talk about a hollow victory. You and your epic-clad, raid-running buddies wait more than a year for World of Warcraft's jam-packed new expansion, only to be within /spitting distance of its final raid bosses' lifeless bodies after a mere three days of playtime. Vacation's over, team. Back to real life.
Really, it makes us wonder why Blizzard decided to go with the bowling-ball-in-front-of-a-row-of-dominoes method when structuring its latest time-twister -- a question echoed by the guild that did the deed, TwentyFifthNovember:
"We are proud to declare that all WOTLK PVE raid content has now been cleared. This is both a moment of triumph and a cause for concern. The question in all our minds right now is if we could do this, how soon until the rest of the top guilds in the world clear all the raid content that WOTLK has to offer?"
"Did Blizzard miscalculate in the tuning of these encounters? Or is this Blizzard folding under the weight of a large casual player base that demands to be on equal footing with end-game raiders?"
Of course, this guild probably perforated WoW's new batch of glorified piñatas during the WoTLK beta, so odds are, they already knew the encounters inside-and-out before they even got their mitts on a retail copy of the game. Regardless though, that only means other guilds have the tools to pull off a similar thrashing, so we foresee a fairly large 24/7 raid converging on Blizzard's inbox in the near future.
However, before such "fans" sing "wah, wah, wah" all the way to Blizzard, we'd just like to remind them that other games do exist -- as do other, non-virtual worlds. So, you know, do something wholesome. Oh, and those strange people wandering around your house? That's your family. Enjoy.
Well that didn't take long. With Intel's Core i7's launch now official, OEM system builders are falling in line with new systems using the new processors. Such is the case with Gateway, who today announced two new FX Series PCs, the FX6800-01e and the FX6800-05.
Taking up the value end, the FX6800-01e comes equipped with Intel's Core i7-920 processor (2.66GHz quad-core), which Gateway ensures will "provide gamers with the critical horsepower to pwn even the most worthy opponents." And helping to "pwn" Photoshop and other memory intensive programs, the FX6800-01e comes with 3GB of DDR3-1066 memory. Gaming duties are tackled with a Radeon HD 4850 videocard, and you get 700GB of hard drive space to store those games. A 500W power supply, 18X DVD burner, onboard audio, 15-in-1 media card reader, ten USB 2.0 ports, four 1394a ports, two eSATA ports, and and HDMI connector (via DVI-HDMI dongle) round out the feature-set.
Settling in at the higher end, the FX6800-05 beefs up processing chores with Intel's Core i7-940 processor (2.93GHz quad-core) and doubles up the RAM to 6GB. And speaking of double, ATI's dual-GPU Radeon 4870 X2 finds its way into the FX6800-05. Storage chores are tag-teamed with an Intel High Performance 80GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. Gateway also doubles up on the power supply, trading in the value model's 500W for a beefier 1000W.
The FX6800-01e and FX6800-5 are available now from Best Buy for $1250 and $3000 respectively.
The economy is in pretty rough shape, and it would appear that Alienware has taken notice. Their latest machine is a clear attempt to tap into the market of people that don’t have several grand to drop on frivolous pursuits, or simply put, everyone but Eliot Spitzer.
The Area-51 750i will be built off of an Nvidia nForce 750i SLI motherboard, a Core 2 Duo E8400 and an Nvidia GeForce 9800GT. To compliment the mothership, there’s also 2GB of DDR2 RAM to keep the random accesses as random as possible, and it’ll all come to you on Windows Vista 64-bit.
While the tech specs might not seem incredibly impressive, the price isn’t too bad. And plus, who wouldn’t want that wicked Alienware case?
Hate Games For Windows Live because it's unintuitive and similar to Xbox Live in form, function, and ham-fisted unsuitability to the PC platform? Well, you'll be happy to hear that Microsoft had its top code-jockeys give the old girl a tune-up, and according to Shacknews, the prognosis should have Valve chomping its fingernails to the bone.
"The new in-game Games for Windows Live interface is a significant leap forward for Microsoft. It does everything you'd expect--displays your Gamerscore, provides a friends list, and allows for private messages and chat--but is now far more effective. It's a minimalist, PC-centric approach compared to the bloated, console-derived first iteration of the software," said the website in its impressions of the service.
In addition, Games For Windows Live general manager Chris Early confirmed that, on top of delivering DLC, the gussied up GFW will also become a distribution platform for full PC games -- just like soon-to-be competitor Steam.
"Clearly it's on our road map," he said -- describing full games as a "next step."
Anyone have a chance to fondle GFW's menus yet? What do you think? Does it have the potential to blow Steam out of the water? Or is GFW DOA?
Wrath of the Lich King may barely be ripe for the picking, but Blizzard's already hard at work on its next attempt at supplanting real life. Blizzard COO Paul Sams recent spoke with VG247 about the second generation of its MMO monarchy, and long-time WoW players will be both happy and relieved to hear that this game certainly isn't WoW 2.0.
“We want to create a great game,” Sams said. “Something that’s cool, and new, and different, and kind of next generation in terms of look and feel and gameplay. That’s a challenging endeavour.”
But as a dab of disappointment for WoW players' flagon of infinite joy, the new Blizzard MMO is still deep in the grimy pits of development, with no release date in sight.
“We’re definitely at the beginning, in the first half of development,” Sams continued.
“When we’re building a new game from the ground up, what happens is that it’s slow going for the first bit, while the team goes round and round and round figuring out how it’s going to look and feel, what the player experience is and what the differentiators are, and then the speed at which we then bring in the content and polish and actually get to the finish line…"
"I think the second half of the process is always substantially faster than the first half of product development,” he added.
Find out why it'll be quite some time before Blizzard gives fans an eyeful of its new MMO after the break.
When you were a hopeful, ambitious young whippersnapper, we're sure -- for the 15 minutes after you saw Apollo 13 -- you wanted to risk life, limb, and lunch by becoming an astronaut. Well, so did Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott, but he still went into game development and... oh wait, now he's abandoning game company NCsoft to live a life among the stars. Or something.
"I am very grateful to you loyal players for sticking around through what I think we can all honestly say was a rough launch. I thank the development team for pushing hard to get polish, updates and new content out every month since launch...a feat that I think is unusual in MMO development. They have a lot to be proud of," Garriott said in his farewell note.
"Many of you probably wonder what my plans are, now that I have achieved the lifelong dream of going to space. Well, that unforgettable experience has sparked some new interests that I would like to devote my time and resources to. As such, I am leaving NCsoft to pursue those interests."
Good luck, Mr. Garriott. Earth won't be the same without you.
Slow and steady wins the race against piracy? That's probably the mantra that came of EA and DICE's recent mind-meld, in which the publisher-developer duo decided to keep lithe heroine Faith from tip-toeing across PC rooftops until 2009 -- at least two months after consolites get their fix.
Now, today, after an almost conspicuously lengthy session of nonchalant whistling and faux-confused shoulder-shrugging, EA has announced a release window for its totalitarian twist on the formula Mario laid forth.
"The PC version of Mirror’s Edge will ship in North America in January 2009," said the press release. But that's not all.
"To keep the action coming after launch, DICE is currently developing downloadable content that will be available at the beginning of the year. More details to be announced shortly."
A late release to keep pirates from affecting sales figures? A spot of DLC to make players think twice about dumping Mirror's Edge in GameStop's used games section? Sounds like EA's really playing things safe with this franchise. It's just a damn shame that we all have to suffer for it.
Actually, "damn" isn't quite potent enough to describe the shame stream that currently plagues this situation. Jump past the break to see a more fitting phrase.
The argument against used games is that by buying them, you're cheating the developer out of potential profits he or she may otherwise have obtained had you purchased the game as new. The obvious flaw is that not everyone who purchases used games at a discount would have bought the title for a premium price as a new release, so the question of how much the used game market actually affects developers remains an open-ended one.
Nevertheless, developers and publishers are brainstorming on ways in which they can either deter gamers from buying used games or cash in on the sales, and some of those ideas are sure to irk the gaming community. Take for example Epic president Mike Capps, who claims some developers would like to see additional fees tacked on to used titles in order to complete the game.
"I've talked to some developers who are saying 'If you want to fight the final boss you go online and pay $20, but if you bought the retail version you got it for free," explained Capps to GamesIndustry.
Developers and publishers have already started to push one-time download codes for new games, such as the 20-song bonus tracks available to Rock Band 2 owners, as well as DLC codes in games like Gears of War 2 and NBA Live 09. But if DLC codes fail to lure more buyers from the outset, you can bet that developers will continue to cast an eye towards the used games market and come up with increasingly obtrusive strategies for cashing in.
And you thought only one person on the entire planet was well and truly pissed at EA for its repeated usage of DRM. However, that was only the beginning. Now, two more criminally dissatisfied customers have rallied their lawyers, hoping to pulverize the mega-publisher's pocketbook into penniless mush.
The first suit, filed by Pennsylvania resident Richard Eldridge, points the all-important blame finger at the Spore Creature Creator trial -- not the full game. According to the suit, the game "secretly" popped his machine's DRM cherry, a feature completely unmentioned in EA's End User License Agreement.
The other DRM-detractor, Dianna Cortez of Missouri, encountered SecuROM DRM in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Her computer was never the same after that day.
"After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer," reads the suit. "She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either."
She also calls EA's practices "immoral, unethical, oppressive [and] unscrupulous" -- a sentiment with which we're sure her fellow lawsuit-slingers would agree.
Now if the entire 0.2% hopped aboard the lawsuit express, we might be onto something. As is, however, EA's gold-encrusted big toe will be more than enough to squash these three valiant musketeers. If nothing else, we can only hope that EA will actually learn something from all this, but we're not counting on it.
Tim Holman, senior producer on Company of Heroes -- Relic's well-received, bajillion-selling PC-exclusive RTS franchise -- might be a teensy bit biased in favor of PC gaming. But his amorous feelings for the constantly morphing platform only go so far, and that's why it's time for an intervention. PC devs, quit shooting-up your games with prettier-than-real-life textures and nuclear-powered bloom lighting. Take it away, Tim:
"I think one of the things that hurt PC gaming is PC developers," he said. "If you make a game with such high-end requirements that only people with a $6,000 PC can play it at a decent framerate, of course your sales are going to drop."
"And of course people are going to pirate your game more, because they don't want to invest in your game first. They want to try it first for free [to see if it's compatible with their hardware]."
So, who's the excellently postured whiz kid sitting in the front of the classroom, setting an example for all the other miscreants? Why, that'd be Blizzard, says Holman. "It's no big secret. I know when I buy a Blizzard game, I'm not going to have to upgrade anything," he explained.
But Holman's far from stuffing this not-compliment sandwich into a plastic baggy and calling it quits; the thing's all condiments and no meat. His main point, then, is this:
"I laugh hysterically whenever I hear that PC gaming is dead. Every time I hear a person saying, 'PC games are dying,' or 'PC games are dead,' particularly if they're a competitor, I fully agree with them--and I encourage them to get out of the space as soon as possible, just so I don't have to compete with them," Holman said, laughing -- probably in a hysterical manner.
So, are you willing to give your eight GeForce graphics shurikens a break from flexing their potent prowess for the betterment of PC gaming? Or do you think Holman's opinion is a load of crock?