All servers are not created equal. Some leave you feeling all warm-and-squishy after each match, while others insult humanity as a whole nearly as often as they insult your mother. Valve understands this and – with an eagerness to please its fans that’s borderline depressing (Just imagine: you’ll probably never be as devoted to anything as Valve is to you) – has braved the numerical gorilla pen that is mathematics in order to bring you a solution.
"After kicking around some proposals, we came up with a simple system built around the theory that player time on a server is a useful metric for how happy the player is with that server. It's game rules agnostic, and we can measure it on our steam backend entirely from steam client data, so servers can't interfere with it,” said Valve’s Robin Walker.
The finished product, then, operates on a point system -- sending well-behaved servers out for some time in the yard and booting rabble-rousers straight to the chair.
“In short, servers that have lots of players joining & leaving rapidly will score badly. Servers that consistently have players join and stay on for long periods of time will score well,” Walker explained.
“Our first step in improving this part of the player experience has been to delist all the really bad servers. The master server will simply stop giving these to you when you fire up the serverbrowser.”
“After that, we're going to keep improving our ability to measure this kind of problem.”
We’ve always taken issue with the Internet’s highly malleable list of steps for rocking ultimate. "1) Do a thing, 2) Do another thing, 3) ???, and 4) Profit" are all well and good, but our generation’s best and brightest seem to have omitted the final step: Get sued by a tiny, opportunistic company over some patent that holds about as much water as a shattered snow globe.
Worlds.com, currently in the process of suing NCSoft -- while almost assuredly sliding its fingers down a bountiful mustache and readjusting its monocle -- has voiced its diabolical intentions: First NCSoft, then the World… of Warcraft. Then the world.
Worlds.com CEO Thom Kidrin said as much when he told Silicon Alley Insider that his company “absolutely” intends to send the gavel crashing down on games like WoW and Second Life if its suit against NCSoft succeeds.
Apparently, the conspicuously convenient patent arises from a collection of Starbright patents, which provide “an architecture for enabling thousands of simultaneous users in a 3D virtual space.” Worlds.com now owns said patents and decided they might – like an errant $20 bill in a recently washed pair of jeans – be useful.
So, where does mean old man Jenkins’ money-grubbing plot fall apart? Let our good friend and super sleuth Thomas McDonald explain it for you:
“This must be news to Steve Colley. Back in 1973, he and some other young programmers interning at NASA created MazeWar… Not only did you navigate a maze, but each player was represented by an avatar (an eyeball), people could shoot each other, and the whole thing was networked, complete with online chat!”
“But MazeWar wasn’t Colley’s work alone. Others had inspired him, and subsequent people built on his work, drawing on the potential of new technology to forge the entire gaming industry. No one person or company can claim ownership of these ideas.”
Big-name sequels charting well in their first month of sales? No way. Also clown-in-your-cake surprising is Fallout 3’s staying power (the game first launched in October!), for which we use the only portion of Left 4 Dead that didn’t also claw its way into the top 20 to give a hearty thumb-up.
Check out the full list:
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $38 (Average)
The Sims 2 Double Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II / Relic / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $37 (Average)
We’re not even sure what a “next-gen” is anymore (The next batch of consoles? Current PCs? What’s the Wii?), but whatever it is, it’s almost here, according to gaming’s own bells-and-whistles-slinging Xzibit-equivalent, Crytek.
This month’s GDC Expo, which runs from March 25-27, will see the unveiling of Crytek’s most ambitious project yet: CryEngine 3. The “all-in-one game development solution” promises to allow for development on most any machine – DX9, DX10, Xbox 360, PS3, etc. -- provided that said machine isn’t afraid of staring straight into the face of oblivion and watching it blink and contort its retched features at an infuriating 13 frames per second.
However, the engine certainly seems to be designed with “upcoming” systems in mind.
“Our complete game engine solution enables realtime development, ensures teams are able to maximise their own creativity, saves budget and creates greater gaming experiences. Also with our solution developers can start working on their next generation games today,” said Cevat Yerli, CEO & President of Crytek.
“CryEngine 3 is a revolutionary change from our previous PC-only engines – and we’re applying a similar revolution to the service we provide to developers using the software to create extraordinary games.”
The question, then, is whether or not Crytek’s newfound desire to join the cool kids club will lead its wandering gaze to spend less time hovering on the PC gamers who first gave it some love. However, knowing Crytek’s penchant for mind-blowing graphics – in addition to current-gen consoles’ somewhat surprising ability to remain graphically relevant at this stage in the game -- we doubt our concerns will matter too much in the long run.
When worlds collide, things tend to end badly. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning tried to send its ragtag, wax-on, wax-off-trained team of novices against WoW’s dojo, and it lost more than a few teeth. And now, Warhammer’s taking one giant leap right into a different world: its own.
Mythic recently announced (and presumably carried out) mergers between 43 servers on the first ever MMO competitor on The Biggest Loser. Characters and items stored on closed servers were apparently transferred to pre-existing, less corpsified servers.
If your old server’s now hosting TF2 matches for angels, note that all of your character’s items, friend lists, guild info, and ignore lists should have transferred to your new server, while items listed for auction, guild alliances, and in-game mail and attachments, unfortunately, will forever languish in the Internet’s lost-and-found box.
(On the bright side, though, we just discovered that "server merger" is really fun to say. Try it. Hey, don't judge us; we're bloggers -- not grief counselors.)
So, for those among you whose entire world was destroyed, how are the new digs looking?
Along with introducing a myriad of new notebooks to the public this year, Asus is looking to update their gaming notebook, the G71, at CeBIT as well.
The G71Gx, Asus’ update on an old favorite, has been upgraded to hold an Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M graphics card (the fastest available), an Intel Centrino 2 processor, up to 12GB of DDR2, and 1TB of storage.
There’s no word yet on pricing or availability for this new beastie, but we can expect that it will cost a pretty penny.
It's hard to find good freeware games that are original, but not overly wacky. A lot of the more unique titles can tend to be a little esoteric--they don't offer your traditional platform gaming or simulated RPG, instead opting for a crazy mix of minimalist design and weird gameplay. It sometimes works, but more often than not, these games fall to freeware's version of the bargain bin.
That's not the case today, however! We've scoured the Web to find some awesome free hits that represent a good mix of zany and traditional gameplay elements. In this roundup, you'll become a historian, play a card game, recreate your favorite Steam experiences in 2D, and shoot down enemy planes. It's a tall order, but we think that you're up for the task. Click the jump and check out the unique titles we're showcasing in this five-game freeware roundup!
Update: Looks like we (along with a few other websites) spent too much time losing ourselves in Hollenshead's beautiful blues and -- hearts full of hope -- skimmed over his real meaning entirely. Maybe if they'd stop making these alarm buttons so red and shiny, we'd be less tempted to press them so often.
“When it’s done,” you’re done. Go running back to Duke Nukem Forever. You knew what this was.
While speaking with GameTrailers TV at last month’s DICE Summit, id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead gave gamers the signal to look out over the horizon, because Rage is a comin’.
When asked whether his company’s latest monosyllabic murder simulator would blow its top in 2010, Hollenshead replied, “No, we'll be out this year."
Well, that’s good enough for us. Rage will be published by Electronic Arts and will probably aid F.E.A.R. 2 and Sadness in helping some website establish a “Best Game Ostensibly about a Vague, One-Word Emotion” award category for their best games of – take of whiff of that new release window smell – 2009. We can’t wait to hear more.
If you fix it, they will come, apparently. After a somewhat sloppy launch, PC RPG The Witcher managed to stick its landing with The Witcher: Enhanced Edition – a re-release (or free patch, if you purchased the original game) that weeded out the game’s bugs in a motherly, primate-esque fashion, while also re-bewitching players with as many new features as possible for a world where kitchen sinks have yet to be invented.
“So what’s all the buzz about? Well, according to our latest sales data, The Witcher has sold more than 1,2 million copies around the world! 'More numbers,' you might say, but let me finish before J Because of those numbers, The Witcher has jumped onto the list of the 100 bestselling PC games in history,” said CD Projekt marketing coordinator Karol Zajaczkowski.
“Not bad, huh? Nevertheless, bragging is not the most important thing here. What’s important is the fact that we would like to thanks all of you - our fans. We did it once before with the anniversary movie, and we just can’t stop thanking you for making The Witcher a popular choice among PC games. You are the real proof that sometimes going upstream, no matter what people say, is worth taking a risk. Without you, none of this would be possible and none of our dreams would ever come true.”
So, did you help buoy Geralt and co. to the top of the heap? If not, consider yourself grounded from the above helping of the warm-and-fuzzies until you've contributed some words of encouragement and a totally manly ass-slap to one of PC gaming's greatest -- yet somehow under-the-radar -- success stories. And hey, you'll even get a pretty decent game out of the whole deal too.
Some game developers and publishers are vehemently opposed to used game sales, and for them, Amazon's announcement of a new used-game trade-in program is nothing to jump for joy over. For everyone else, it just might be.
The Good More options is always a good thing, right? The obvious comparison here is to GameStop, and Amazon bursts out of the gates with over 1,500 eligible titles. But the real surprise is how the trade-in values compare. Amazon appears to be offering more than both GameStop and Game Crazy on most titles. For example, Little Big Planet (PS3) fetches $29 at Amazon versus $26.25 at GameStop and $22.73 with Game Crazy. In that same order, Left 4 Dead for the Xbox 360 pulls in $26.50, $24, and $22.73 respectively.