First Developer Diary for Dawn of Fantasy Now Available for Download

505 Games and Reverie World Studios have released a new developer diary that details the development of their upcoming MMORTS, Dawn of Fantasy. In the first dev diary, Lead Writer and Assistant Producer Gordon Farrell details the one of the game’s many modes, Stronghold Defense.

Stronghold Defense, the defensive counterpart of the Lay Siege skirmish mode, gives players the opportunity to practice defending a prebuilt stronghold in a quick-paced skirmish. Defensive players have an impressive array of tricks available to set up before the invading army reaches their walls; set up spike traps or plant man-eating plants outside your gate to destroy your attackers, position cavalry outside of your walls to trample enemy units, and construct ranged siege weapons and dozens of other wall-mounted siege defenses.

Be prepared to fight off ruthless attacks from the moment you spot the enemy on the horizon. Repair your damaged walls and buildings after every wave, and keep peasants nearby, ready to put out potentially-devastating fires caused by enflamed enemy arrows. The first wave is easy, the second… not so much. By the third, your king begs for mercy as the enemy breaks into the inner keep.

Dawn of Fantasy is proud to offer some of the most elaborate and bloodiest siege combat seen in the RTS genre to date – do you have what it takes? Stay tuned for more video diaries as Dawn of Fantasy nears completion

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Midnight release of Starcraft II

by Angie Quidim

We are anxiously awaiting at our local gamestop to get one of the most anticipated RTS games in the PC world. For years we have been waiting and the gaming gods will be appeased. It is finally the release of Starcraft II, the Wings of Liberty.
Retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Gamestop and Best Buy will be open midnight for the launch as well as the Fry’s Electronics in Fountain Valley will have the developers signing select copies for fans in California.

More to come on the Starcraft adventure… stay tuned

Star Craft 2: Ultimate Experience

Having gotten my copy of the Star Craft 2 Ultimate Wings of Liberty Experience, I immediately opened it up and tried to install the game…

Sadly, the game itself actually knows what time it is and promptly alerted me that I have to wait until midnight tonight to be able to install it… and as such I’ll start my review taking one step back… to the Ultimate Edition itself.

Collectors Edition Box

Quite a nice box it is, as you can see by the pictures of the box that I quickly put it back together.  As a quick run down here is what is contained within:

Open box

  1. DVD install disk
  2. Behind the scenes DVD with developer interviews, all 13 minutes of pre-rendered cinematic, and 32 minutes of in game “story mode” movies (with director commentary).  *NOTE* if you are interested in playing the story without spoilers, do not watch this first
  3. Soundtrack
  4. Starcraft comic Issue 10
  5. Art book (176 pages)
  6. Jim Raynor “dog Tag” USB Drive
  7. World of Warcraft cosmetic pet (Baby Thor)
  8. Battle.net downloadable exclusives

contents

I’ll go over each one in turn and we’ll see if this box is worth the 100$ price tag.

First off is the game itself, which retails itself for the standard 60$.  With this in mind we can move on to the other 40$ of potential content.

Behind the Scenes DVD: This item is a hit or miss type of deal.  I know some people who love this sort of thing.  Getting designers insight to the game, and watching all the wonderfully rendered cinematic over and over and over again.  (You know who you are)  Then there are those who would toss the extra disk aside never to be pulled from the shrink wrap as they can’t wait to play the game.  Personally, I have the DVD playing while I write this part of the review, but only because I can’t install the game itself for another 11 hours.  Don’t get me wrong, the movies are every bit the visual orgasm that you expect it to be, and Blizzard can officially give Square Enix solid competition for CGI.  With that said, if not for this 11 hour gap I have no need for this extra piece.  If it was at the register counter for an extra 2$ I would pick it up, so that is what I’m going to place its value at.

Soundtrack: Here is another extra of questionable value.  Once again, the quality here is high.  However, I doubt that I will ever be driving in my car, and feel the need to listen to the sounds of battle.  I’m not sure I would even pay 1$ for this one.  But, as I suppose it has to have some value for nerd sake to have this on your shelf… 1$ it is.

Comic: Issue 10?  Really?  I doubt I would read it if I had the first issue, but I definitely don’t have a need for a comic book 10 issues in, it doesn’t even have nerd value unless you have the first 9.  No value here.

Art of Starcraft:  Now this is worth something, hard cover, nice jacket, and 176 pages of art (with almost no pages wasted on text).  Even if you don’t collect art books, the fact that you are thinking about buying the Ultimate Experience box means you are probably a Star Craft fan.  All in all, this little piece might make the entire thing worth the price.  But since I started this review I’ll give it a price tag of 25$.  To some it may seem like a lot, but that’s what art books cost, and this one is a pretty good one.

art of starcraft

Dog Tag USB Drive: 2GB – Not a bad size.  Design – Pretty good.  And if you are a Star Craft nerd it comes with a nice surprise.  Star Craft and Brood War expansion set are preloaded on the drive.  The game may be old, but I’ll slap a 10$ price tag on this just for nostalgia and a useful 2GB usb drive.

usb  drive

In game Baby Thor for World of Warcraft: While WoW might be the most played MMO, if you are about to get serious into SC2, then I suspect you won’t have much time to log on.  Still, there will be a few thousand players who are bound to be willing to trade off quite the few Epic level items to get this.  I would say it’s worth at least a few thousand gold worth of items in game.

Exclusive Battle.net content: ah, now here is something worthwhile for SC2 players.  Army icons, Avatar portraits, exclusive version of the in-game Thor unit.  Nothing that unbalances the game, but all things to let other players know that you picked up the Ultimate edition and they didn’t.  Now all that’s left is to Zergling rush them into oblivion.

All in all, it looks like there is 41$, an epic ring or two, and on and offline nerd cred.  To be honest, as far as Ultimate/Special editions of games go, this one really is quite good.  I would personally recommend picking up the Ultimate Experience pack.  So with that said, I’ll see you all online tonight.  Hope you like my special edition Avatar as my exclusive skins for the Thor units shoot you dead.

Chris Hori

Diablo III’s Witch Doctor Shows Its Feminine Side

As with other classes in the game, there are two gender options for Diablo III’s Witch Doctor. We saw the male one months ago, but the female one has only been revealed today. So let’s take a look.

While her feathered in-game model looks a lot like that of her male counterpart, the Witch Doctor’s less armoured side shows someone about as far removed from your typical fantasy dungeon setting as you can get.

With all those feathers and white body-paint, it’s hard not to think about Monkey Island’s Voodoo Lady.

source:kotaku.com

U.S. ARMY LAUNCHES AMERICA’S ARMY 3 PC ACTION GAME

soldier

aa_banner

The U.S. Army today launched America’s Army 3, the only action game that delivers an authentic and entertaining Army experience by reflecting the training, technology, actions, and career advancement of a Soldier within an exciting, free game experience. Players can download the teen-rated game from Steam (www.americasarmy.com/steam), as well as from partners listed at the America’s Army website (www.americasarmy.com). As with previous versions of America‘s Army, AA3 will be constantly updated to include new features and missions and to highlight new technologies being incorporated in today’s Army.

In America‘s Army 3, Every Detail CountsTM and as a result, the game has more authentic military elements including training, technology, weapons, and audio than any other military game. Built on Unreal Engine 3, AA3 delivers stunningly realistic environments, lighting effects, animations, and team-based experiences so that America’s Army players can experience how Soldiers train, live, and advance in the Army. Players are bound by Rules of Engagement (ROE) and gain experience as they navigate challenges in team-based, multiplayer, force-on-force operations. In the game, a player’s actions and demonstrated Army values are integral to successful mission accomplishment and affect a player’s career progression.

The game is launching with five different environments, each with three different mission scenario options for a total of 15 different map/mission combinations. Initially, the core of the gameplay focuses on an Infantry Soldier (11B). Players first complete Basic Combat Training and then progress to Advanced Individual Training for a variety of specialized roles that the Infantry Soldier performs, such as Advanced Rifleman, Automatic Rifleman, Squad Designated Marksman, and Grenadier. This advanced training allows players to unlock new abilities and gear, customize their gear and equipment loads, increase their in-game skill level, and progress in their Army careers.

The America‘s Army 3 game offers a number of new features including:

  • New Scoring System – In this new Army values-based scoring system, a player’s “Honor” score is a combination of his/her scores from subcategories that represent the seven core Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. The values are matched with certain game behaviors, and demonstrating these values contributes to successful gameplay and accomplishments. For example, personal courage can be demonstrated by accomplishing the mission objectives even if the player is the last teammate to remain in the game. Selfless service is demonstrated by aiding an injured Soldier even though it may put the player in harm’s way. Other players will be able to select teammates based on their Soldier profiles, which reflect how players have progressed in the game as well as their player roles/gameplay style preferences.
  • Detailed StatisticsAA3’s extremely detailed statistics give players immediate feedback at the end of rounds and matches in online play, in addition to summarizing player behaviors. Players can accrue a number of stats including marksmanship accuracy; time played; time played by class role; total score; rounds won, lost, and survived; objectives captured, and teammates treated as a combat lifesaver. Players can also monitor where their hits are landing on other players, as well as where they are taking hits. These statistics are used to drive a player achievement system through which players can earn a variety of awards including coins, ribbons, and medals.
  • Character Movements – In addition to basic movements such as running, sprinting, and crouching, the game supports tactical and combat movement types. A tactical movement is a more methodical, slower movement that reduces the noise associated with the player’s motion. The combat movement is louder but faster. Combat movements include the combat roll, a full roll either to the left or to the right in the prone position, the combat slide in which players can slide into a crouch position from a sprint, and the combat dive in which players dive face first into a prone position. These movements enable players to evade the enemy or better position themselves to incapacitate the enemy. When moving throughout the maps, players can vault (place a foot on the object and leap or climb over it) as well as mantle (place a hand down to get over larger objects than the vault would support).
  • Player Damage Model – The player damage system has a high level of detail that tracks a number of the player’s health metrics and divides the player’s body into distinct areas that can each be damaged separately. The type and location of a player’s injury will affect the player’s abilities. For example, injuries in the lower body, such as the legs, will slow the player down, while injuries in the upper body, such as the torso and arms, will hinder accuracy but not movement speed. When players are affected by injuries they can be revived in some cases by their teammates. All players will have Combat Life Saving (CLS) training as part of Basic Combat Training so they can assist and stabilize an injured or incapacitated teammate. However, players must make the right decisions about medical treatment in order to heal, and not hurt, the injured player.
  • Mission Planning – Squad and Fire Team leaders now have strategic choices to make before a mission. The Squad Leader will assign the fire teams to an objective, and the Fire Team leaders will in turn determine where on the map their fire team will spawn. The individual Soldiers will make decisions about whether they carry heavy, medium, or light ammunition loads. The flexibility of mission preplanning gives players a variety of customization options and greater replayability.
  • Authenticity of Weapons and Weapons Effects
    Players can customize their weapon configuration and load (gear) with attachable modifications as well as select the type and number of ammunition cartridges and grenades they’ll need to accomplish their mission. These choices affect gameplay, as heavy loads negatively affect speed and endurance while lighter loads negatively affect fire power. The game’s ballistics models are also highly detailed. Bullets in the game operate as they would in real life, requiring players to be aware of their surroundings. The game demonstrates a realistic interaction between bullets and materials, allowing penetration through wood and drywall and ricochets off metal and stone. Even the material that a bullet ricochets off will create different angles of bullet movement. In this reactive environment, players will have to quickly learn the difference between cover and concealment.
  • Lighting and Sound – The development team paid great attention to the realism of the lighting and sounds within the America‘s Army 3 game to make them part of tactical gameplay. Players can use high fidelity audio clues to assess a combat situation. For example, they can determine the proximity of the bullet to their location based on the sound it makes. If the bullet is in close proximity to the player, the player will hear an explosive sound from the sonic boom that the bullet makes as it whizzes by the player. If the bullet is farther away, the player will hear the muzzle shot and the cavitation sounds the bullet makes as it echoes in the distance. These sounds were recorded in a live-fire scenario by the developers with the help of Army Subject Matter Experts. Sound occlusion and reverberation are other game features that make the AA3 audio experience more realistic than any other military game.

The AA3 team used Illuminate Lab’s Beast Lighting Solution to enhance the visual quality of the game. Beast is a global illumination package that, coupled with America’s Army, allowed the developers to design more realistic lighting and shadowing within the game. The realistic environments in AA3 reproduce the natural effects that occur when lighting reflects and bounces off materials and characters in the virtual world, making camouflage very important for the Soldier in the game. AA3’s lighting also simulates realistic eye adjustments when a player moves from indoors (dark areas) to outside (lighter areas) and vice versa.

These sound and light effects work together in situations, such as when a player throws a grenade in a small enclosed area and players who are close to the grenade’s point of impact feel the effects of overpressure, which can cause ear ringing, dizziness, and pain. A flash bang can cause the player to experience temporary blindness and hearing loss. Together, the high fidelity sound and lighting contribute to the overall realism and authenticity of AA3.

Players can also enjoy America’s Army – The Graphic Novel, a free online graphic novel based on America‘s Army 3. The graphic novel, which can be easily viewed without download, is live on the America’s Army website (www.americasarmy.com/graphicnovel/). America’s Army – The Graphic Novel begins at the start of a conflict with a story arc from the perspective of a Soldier who is a member of a U.S. Army Long Range Surveillance (LRS) team, and will intertwine that Soldier’s story along with the stories of others Soldiers whose occupational specialties include Military Intelligence, Medic, UAV Operator, Infantryman, and Helicopter Pilot. Through the episodic releases of the graphic novel, viewers will discover the main Soldiers’ stories and accompany them on missions as they experience the Army’s technologies and equipment, Army Values, different MOSs and Army life.

DoTA – Warcraft III’s Fountain of Youth

by Anthony (Rice King) Rice

The average lifetime for games is roughly a year. For particularly good games with strong re-playability, multiplayer, and Evolution factor it may be longer; for games such as X-blades and Golden Axe: Beastrider, it may be a matter of days. It is very rare that a game lasts 7 years and is still increasing in gamer base. It is even rarer that the main gamer base of a game is simply playing one map, which is actually a Mod. Warcraft III Mods, specifically the Mod DoTA (Defence of the Ancients), have helped Warcraft III live for 7 years and will help it survive for years to come.

A composited map of the latest DoTA Map

A composite version of the latest DoTA Map

DoTA is a RPG/Strategy game where you have two sides that are vying for control over the land, the Sentinel and the Scourge. Each side can have a maximum of five players. There are three lanes that connect the bases (see above illustration), and periodically NPC’s (known as creeps) get sent down the lanes from each base to fight for their team. The point of the game is to push the creeps and enemy heroes back to their base and destroy their main building. You can only do this after destroying the towers in a lane all the way through to their main building.

Dota Load Screen

Dota Load Screen

One thing that makes DoTA so popular is its always increasing complexity. As of writing this, there are currently 93 Heroes, 54 Items, and 56 Recipes. Recipes basically need a combination of 2 or more items in order to concoct a better item. This makes it advanced and challenging enough to make it always fun. With so many different possible combinations of items there is always room to try new strategies with different heroes. Another great thing about this game is that the learning curve isn’t too steep. This is one of the main reasons why the user base is growing constantly. The controls are that of a normal strategy game, which is comfortable for many gamers. After only a few games, new players can get the gist of the main strategies and get the hang of how recipes work. Many WoW players say that the game is similar to BattleGrounds, the PvP areas in WoW. This is also another reason why DoTA is so popular; WoW players can take a break from leveling and try to duke it out in a more relaxed brawlfest. The complexity of gameplay, the challenge, the moderate learning curve, and the familiarity make DoTA a blast for many gamers.

Screenshot from DoTA

Screenshot from DoTA

Of all the games that came out in 2002, only one can stand above the rubble and claim victory for having the longest and best run. Warcraft III has DoTA to thank for its success in the latter years of its popularity. As long as there are developers creating new items and heroes, there will always be an interest in DoTA, and therefore the gamer base will ever increase.

Battlestations: Pacific Play & Win Promotion

To honor our troops and mark the recent release of Battlestations: Pacific on the Xbox 360 and PC, Microsoft is hosting a Play & Win Sweepstakes on Xbox Live and GamesforWindows.com this Memorial Day weekend. Running from May 22nd – 24th, the promotion simply requires players to boot up Battlestations: Pacific to be eligible for over 100 prizes including a high-end gaming PC, Xbox 360 elite, Microsoft accessories, and Battlestations: Pacific merchandise.

For more information on this holiday weekend promotion, please log into Xbox Live or click on the following link:
http://www.gamesforwindows.com/en-US/Community/NewsArticles/Pages/battlestationspacificplaywin.aspx  As the immense sequel to the critically acclaimed Battlestations: Midway, BattleStations: Pacific completes the entire Pacific War with two massive single-player campaigns, the historically based US campaign and a historically possible Japanese campaign.  Commanding the US Fleet, players relive the grandest and most critical naval battles of the
Pacific War and for the first time, as the Japanese, players lead the IJN Fleet to a completely different ending to the war. So get out there and fight for your country for a chance to win awesome prizes!