It may not be able to brag about escaping from the labs of Valve or Crytek, but that's no reason to discount Simutronics' HeroEngine. After all, BioWare, in its never-ending quest to unite as many seemingly made-up words as possible (Simutronics?), is using it for its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. And, no offense, but we think they know better than you. Probably.
“Our goal was to partner with a platform developer that knows online gaming and virtual world development, and the team at Simutronics has an excellent track record in that respect,” said Gordon Walton, Co-Studio Director at BioWare. “Their HeroEngine was specifically created for building MMOGs and it allows for a great amount of flexibility in the way our entire team collaborates.”
The HeroEngine allows developers to construct a game while playing on a server, meaning that a swing of the nerf bat will no longer take a couple weeks. Additionally, the engine eliminates "the need for nightly builds and code crunching, which significantly reduces the notoriously long MMOG development cycle." In short, this means that The Old Republic may actually escape from BioWare's tractor beam before the LHC comes back online and destroys us all.
Yeah, we're pretty determined to see this game end the world. What of it?
Update: *Waves hand in front of your face* This is apparently just a big misunderstanding. EA told Shacknews that "no statements have been made about the Star Wars business model," and that Ricitiello's statement was misunderstood. Thus, we can't really know how EA will sink its hooks into your wallet until February rolls around. So yeah, these droids? Totally not the one's you've been searching for.
Subscription fees, as we've discussed at length, are the beginning of a slippery slope down Blizzard's single, mega-games' throats, but microtransactions might be a different a story. Most titles that take up the little big label offer their services for free (or a small nominal fee), hoping that you'll drop a few coins into their cup at some point in the future. And if EA has its way, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be one such game.
"We are continuing to stick to the plan relative to building out our direct-to-consumer models which include microtransactions and subscriptions," said EA CEO John Riccitiello in a recent conference call. "The recent launch of Warhammer [Online] is a great example of that."
"Other initiatives we've announced, for example [the] Star Wars online MMO, are mid-session games which are microtransaction-based," he continued. "You'll be hearing more about those in the February [conference] call."
This announcement certainly seems to suggest that BioWare's galaxy far, far away won't take subscription fees as a viable method of payment, though Riccitiello didn't go so far as to completely rule them out.
Regardless, the potential accessibility of a "free" MMO combined with the production values and gameplay of a Scrooge McDuck-level big-budget game could very well melt the Lich King right off his frozen (and likely very uncomfortable) throne -- probably ending all productivity as we know it.
tl;dr: Looks like the Mayan Apocalypse might be coming early this existence. Neat!
Yuck. It's one thing to give the spotlight over to piracy and other dirty deeds on a bi-daily basis, but after seeing it all culminate, well, we're going to need to lie down for a little while.
Torrent-tracking blog TorrentFreak recently scoured the undersides of gaming's most illicit tables, putting together a list of piracy's greatest hits. The bottom line: Spore, as expected, took home the golden failboat ticket, while three of EA's other titles made the top five.
Meanwhile, big names like Call of Duty 4, Fallout 3, and Far Cry 2 also felt significant disturbances in their sales. Check out the full list below:
Spore / 1,700,000 / Sept. 2008
The Sims 2 / 1,150,000 / Sept. 2004
Assassins Creed / 1,070,000 / Nov. 2007
Crysis / 940,000 / Nov. 2007
Command & Conquer 3 / 860,000 / Mar. 2007
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / 830,000 / Nov. 2007
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / 740,000 / Jun. 2005
Fallout 3 / 645,000 / Oct. 2008
Far Cry 2 / 585,000 / Oct. 2008
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / 470,000 / Oct. 2008
Remember kids, only you can prevent PC game piracy. Otherwise, we'll light you on fire. Don't mess with us. We're crazy.
Back in our September 2008 issue, we published a list of 9 Skills Every Nerd Needs – a lighthearted examination of the essential abilities Maximum PC readers should have in their geek arsenal. We still stand by that list, but we were somewhat one-upped last month when we saw that Gizmodo had since run its own list of 50 key geek skills. Their list was very respectable, but we thought that we could do better by not only expanding and refining our original story, but actually teaching you these skills. The highest echelon of geeks will be able to do everything in this list, and this is by no means a full categorization of the complete geek skillset – only what we consider to be the most indispensable abilities. Have anything to add to our list? Post it in the comments!
Nvidia's nZone website has posted download links to new beta videocard drivers, version 180.84, for both Vista and XP. Little information has been given about the new drivers, other than that they're intended to improve gameplay with Rockstar's new Grand Theft Auto IV videogame.
"Nvidia recommends that you update your system with the following GeForce v180.84 driver for the best experiences on Grand Theft Auto IV," nZone writes.
Users who have installed and played GTA IV on the PC have complained of varying issues, including missing textures and intermittent crashes. GTA IV's support page lists several troubleshooting steps, one of which recommends users download the newest drivers with a link to the nZone page containing the beta release. However, no specific bug fixes or performance issues have been identified with the new drivers, so it might be hard to tell what difference they're making.
As always, take proper precautions whenever experimenting with pre-release code. As Nvidia discloses regarding beta drivers, they "may include significant issues." When you're ready to take the leap:
Another day, but still no dollar. According to a stark-white sliver of the Internet, Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment (developer of Stargate Worlds) employees' bank accounts are on life support -- having gone without a fresh cash transfusion for 23 days and counting. Senior Marketing Manager Kevin Balentine replied to the above allegation, but his words didn't exactly inspire confidence.
"At Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, we have always been upfront with the media and our fans that we are a start up. Like many start ups, we face the same cash-flow issues that all pre-revenue companies face. We have maintained a core of dedicated investors, but the new economic realities are forcing us to seek out additional sources of funding and that's what we're doing," Balentine said.
In addition, TenTonHammer's team of grapevine-whisperers recently heard that "more" employees have abandoned their posts at CME over the past few weeks. Definitely not a good sign for the struggling start-up.
However, we hold out hope that Stargate Worlds won't crash and burn before even crossing the starting line. After all, many mods died to bring us this game, and we wouldn't want their valiant sacrifices to be in vain.
In the beginning, Valve created Half-Life 2, and it was pretty flippin' awesome. Then, more towards the middle of the beginning, Garry Newman whipped up Garry's Mod, bestowing upon gamers a simple interface behind which they could all wield Valve's body-flinging, face-pinching powers. And after that, things got a little weird. But not for creator Garry Newman, who -- after selling his mod for $10 a pop on Steam -- found a new breadwinner.
Now, two years later, Garry's Mod has stripped 312,541 kids of their lunch money, bringing the total haul up to roughly $3.1 million -- or about 30 Midways.
"GMod hasn’t just given me financial stability," Newman said in a champagne-stained blog post. "It’s also made me a lot more experienced in c++. I learned how game engines are meant to work. I got to fly to Valve HQ and meet some game making dudes. I got to tell a nice bearded fellow how I was sick all over myself in the shower after eating airline food, and then realising I was talking to [Deus Ex creator] Warren Spector."
"And it’s my hope that it has inspired other people to do stuff. I mean, I’m a fool like you, I’ve just got more experience in pretending I’m not, and I did it... So why can’t you?"
Welcome to the latest installment of Disappointment Theater -- starring Your Life. Today's guest star: Grand Theft Auto IV! Wrecking one of the year's best games definitely seems like an impossible task, so read on and be astonished.
According to Steam's fuming masses, as well as gaming site Shacknews, GTA IV's creepy crawlies are all over the place. Topping players' lists of things not to be thankful for, however, are missing textures (apparently caused by corrupt graphics drivers) and the ever-popular crashing bug, which can potentially keep you from even loading the game at all.
Fortunately, one intrepid Steam user has tossed together a forum thread outlining all known issues and possible fixes, so as a (highly prestigious) reward we're putting his name on the site. Thanks, Ramzy!
Additionally, while it's not exactly a bug, the majority of wannabe-crime lords are being forced to run their game of choice at low graphical settings -- a complaint to which Rockstar has issued a response:
"Higher settings are provided for future generations of PCs with higher specifications than are currently widely available," claimed the developer.
Rockstar also released a statement promising that it'll unscrew this pooch as quickly as possible.
So, unless you want to pay $50 for a glorified beta test, wait a couple weeks before taking the plunge.
Ken Levine's latest dive 'n' demolish may have sold a gajillion of its umpteen-rapscillion units on consoles, but the brainy developer's true colors show right through his newfound wall of green. So, though it may be irrational, Levine is a PC man through and through.
"I wish the industry could find a way to make PC gaming more broadly successful. There are so many challenges for PC gaming--the complications from systems specifications to the drivers--most people look at PC games and say, 'What are you talking about?'" Levine replied when asked about his opinion on the industry's "biggest mistake."
"It's a shame because as a gamer, I am never more comfortable than I am sitting with a mouse and keyboard two inches away from my monitor."
Seems like a bunch of developers echo that sentiment -- which is great -- but can anyone other than Valve and Blizzard actually do something about it? What's your take?
Joining Peter Molyneux, Good Old Games, and Stardock in a swelling anti-DRM chorus, Valve president Gabe Newell has voiced his concerns about DRM's diabolical rule. The big G-man's opinion? Most DRM (ahem) is "just dumb."
"As far as DRM goes, most DRM strategies are just dumb. The goal should be to create greater value for customers through service value (make it easy for me to play my games whenever and wherever I want to), not by decreasing the value of a product (maybe I'll be able to play my game and maybe I won't)," Newell said in an email to a fan named Paul Reisinger (who promptly posted the response on his Live Journal page).
"We really, really discourage other developers and publishers from using the broken DRM offerings, and in general there is a groundswell to abandon those approaches," he added.
Of course, this is a huge about-face for Valve, whose Steam platform once coated games in a jawbreaker-esque, nigh-impenetrable DRM shell. Luckily, Newell and co. had the sense to mash that particular padlock with a crowbar, rendering its DRM far more tolerable.
Nice preaching on Newell's part, though. Choir, do you have anything to add?