Recent Entries in Gaming

Weird -- it's like a blast from the past:

David Sutherland, an artist whose work appeared in various Dungeons and Dragons rule books, has died. He was 56 years old.

Sutherland passed away at his home in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on June 6 from chronic liver failure.

Although he remained faceless to Dungeons and Dragons players, a generation of gamers grew up with Sutherland's otherworldly images in the 1970s and '80s.

Perhaps his best-known illustration is the one that appeared on the cover of the first Dungeons and Dragons set.

CBC Arts: Dungeons and Dragons artist dies

  Sith Comes Up Short

The good news, based on playing the video-game version of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, is that it seems that the last and final Star Wars film will provide the franchise with a dark, morally conflicted and splendid finale.

The bad news is that despite a promising start and an interesting underlying dynamic that takes the player from good to evil, the LucasArts game -- with its hack-and-slash simplicity -- starts to get tiresome far too quickly. That means that the relatively short play time of about four hours ends up feeling more like an act of mercy, which is bad news if you've dropped the full price of $50 for the Xbox or PlayStation 2 version.

Wired News: Sith Comes Up Short

  Lego Star Wars: The Game

The unyielding Hollywood marketing juggernaut has given us dozens of games based on movies, and hundreds of toys based on movies. However, it takes George Lucas, the emperor of movie marketing, to give us Lego Star Wars, a video game based on a toy based on a trilogy based on an older, more popular trilogy.

If you love Lego toys, have a tolerance for the Star Wars prequels, enjoy video games, and won't be psychologically scarred by seeing a small plastic figure in childbirth, then this may be the cross-marketing meta-product for you.

Wired News: Lego Star Wars: The Game

More than 60,000 pirated copies of Nintendo game consoles were seized Wednesday during raids in New York and New Jersey, prosecutors announced.

Four people were arrested in the crackdown on the theft of popular games such as "Donkey Kong," "Mario Brothers," "Duck Hunt," "Baseball" and others, according to a release by federal authorities and papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Newsday.com: Four arrests in crackdown on gaming thieves

As a massively multiplayer online game, many people think of Second Life as little more than a virtual playground. But an increasing number of people and organizations are employing the game in applications that are useful for far more than entertainment.

Second Life was crafted as an open-ended environment that would allow players to fly, drive fantastical vehicles, dress up in outlandish outfits and build just about anything they could imagine. The game's developers at San Francisco's Linden Lab, however, didn't expect it to be used as a way for business school students to test entrepreneurial talents or for abused children to rediscover social skills.

Wired News: Second Life Teaches Life Lessons

The Matrix movies raised the question, "How do we know we're not in the Matrix right now?" The Matrix Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game for the PC, answers that question: If we were in the Matrix, we'd know it by the clumsy interface, frequent glitches and tedious gameplay.

Wired News: Matrix Online: Gaming Repackaged

  MMORPG Golf ??

Arguably more than any other sport, golf requires focus and mental stamina, and so does Shot-Online, which is a reproduction of the full experience and game of golf in full, rich 3D graphics.

Shot-Online is not just an online sports game either, but it is a highly accurate simulation and a deep role-playing experience. It is the RPG quality that makes Shot-Online the unique game it is, especially with the community interaction and the enhancement and leveling of your character. Speaking of community and role-playing, Shot-Online offers both realistic and rare items drawn from the celebrated history of golf. Practicing every day, competing against players with different skills, allows the gamer to advance their characters abilities. Quests and item exchanging and more add to the community feel.

Shot-Online Client

A Shanghai online game player stabbed to death a competitor who sold his cyber-sword, the China Daily has said, creating a dilemma in China where no law exists for the ownership of virtual weapons.

Qiu Chengwei, 41, stabbed competitor Zhu Caoyuan repeatedly in the chest after he was told Zhu had sold his "dragon sabre", used in the popular online game, "Legend of Mir 3", the newspaper said a Shanghai court was told on Tuesday.

Yahoo! News - Cyber-sabre provokes real death

  Sony PSP ready to launch

Yesterday at the York Theatre in Toronto the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) got its official roll-out in Canada.
Besides having big wigs on hand to do interviews, Sony also used some star power; bringing in Alexisonfire, and Wayne Gretzky to help show off some of the features of the new handheld (although having Gretzky there meant the inevitable deluge of sports reporters dying for a Hockey related sound bite would also be there).

CANOE -- WHAM! gaming

A U.S. district court judge in Los Angeles dismissed several key claims by comic book publisher Marvel Enterprises, Inc in the company’s trademark and copyright infringement case against online computer game publisher NCsoft® Corporation and game developer Cryptic Studios™. Marvel sued NCsoft and Cryptic Studios in November of last year, claiming that the City of Heroes® online computer game allows players to imitate comic book characters owned by Marvel.

In a March 9 order, U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner agreed with NCsoft that some of Marvel’s allegations and exhibits should be stricken as "false and sham" because certain allegedly infringing works depicted in Marvel’s pleadings were created not by users, but by Marvel itself.

PlayNC: Federal Judge Dismisses Claims and Strikes Allegations in Marvel Lawsuit Against NCsoft

LucasArts has been following the same formula for years. Basically, it consists of taking whatever video-game genre is currently popular and plugging in characters from the Star Wars universe. This has given us everything from Star Wars fighting games to Star Wars kart racers, and it's mildly surprising we haven't seen Dance Dance Mos Eisley Cantina yet.

Wired News: Clone Game Fails to Excite

Michael Feir is an avid gamer. He spent so much time playing games in college he created his own online gaming magazine. But Feir doesn't play the best-selling games and has never seen World of Warcraft -- he's blind.

It doesn't matter. A growing library of computer games has been built specially for blind gamers, using sound instead of visuals to let players know what's going on around them.

Wired News: The Blind Fragging the Blind

To show its love for video game developers, Microsoft gave away 1,000 high-definition television sets Wednesday to those who listened to a pitch for its new game console at a San Francisco conference.

The giveaway was just an opening salvo in the all-important battle for the hearts and minds of video game developers. The allegiance of those developers will make or break the next generation of consoles expected to be introduced this year by Microsoft and its rivals.

MercuryNews.com | 03/10/2005 | Free TVs for game developers

An engineer working for leading publisher Electronic Arts has become the second staff member to file a class action lawsuit against the company, seeking back pay, damages and penalties for unpaid overtime hours.

Leander Hasty, who has worked for the firm since mid-2003, filed his suit yesterday against the company, arguing that a special Californian law which exempts certain creative professionals from overtime regulations should not apply to EA's engineering staff.

The Californian law, instituted in 2000, says that programmers who make more than $41 an hour and are working in creative or intellectual roles on advanced technology projects - a definition which Hasty's lawyers challenge in the case of EA employees.

GamesIndustry.biz - Electronic Arts hit with fresh class action suit over unpaid overtime

If any machine could conceivably take a healthy bite out of Nintendo's control of the handheld gaming market, Sony's PlayStation Portable is it.

Released last month in Japan, the PSP's launch allocation quickly sold out. Sony is still struggling to put enough units on shelves to cope with demand. The system is expected to launch in the United States by the end of March, though Sony has made no official announcement.

Wired News: Portable Gaming, Sony-Style

As online-game companies court new and wider audiences, many are running into an old problem: "griefers," a small but seemingly irradicable set of players who want nothing more than to murder, loot and otherwise frustrate the heck out of everyone else.

Social miscreants can do more than ruin the game for better-behaved competitors. They can hurt game companies' bottom line by driving away customers and burning up support lines. Problems related to grief players often account for 25 percent or more of customer service calls, according to game publishers.

Now an increasing number of companies are fighting back, using a combination of technology, sociology and psychology to limit griefer damage. Success could be important to the industry's growth, as companies seek to expand beyond the audience of hard-core players to more casual customers, many of whom are unlikely to tolerate bad experiences for long.

Inflicting pain on 'griefers' | CNET News.com

Peter Ludlow's expulsion from The Sims Online may well be the highest-profile player ban in the history of video games.

His tale of being thrown out of the virtual world by Sims' developer Electronic Arts -- which he maintains stemmed from having exposed the participation of underage players operating in-world brothels on his blog, which was formerly called The Alphaville Herald -- was written up in scores of newspapers and online publications.

Because he knows something about being at the whim of faceless decision-makers at profit-minded gaming companies, Ludlow is a big fan of an emerging concept in massively multiplayer online game circles: the open-source metaverse. Built by independent contributors, the open-source metaverse is an infinitely extensible virtual world with few rules and no oversight from corporate overlords.

Wired News: Gamers Eye Open Virtual Worlds

  A New Kind of Evil

Gamers know there's nothing quite like making a zombie's head explode with a well-placed shotgun blast -- and that no games provide this experience quite like Resident Evil.

But although the seminal survival horror franchise has always had its die-hard fans, even they have begun to grow weary of the series' shortcomings. With Resident Evil 4, published by Capcom for the GameCube, the designers went back to square one and radically revised nearly every feature of the series, leaving no sacred cow unslaughtered.

Wired News: A New Kind of Evil

After a recent three-day binge of playing the Japanese cult hit video game Katamari Damacy, Los Angeles artist Kozy Kitchens discovered that walking away from the game was not as easy as putting down her joystick.

In the game, players push around what amounts to a giant tape ball, attempting to make the ball bigger by picking up any and all objects in its path. Kitchens found that her urge to keep picking things up was not so easy to shake.

Wired News: Real World Doesn't Use a Joystick

A swimming pool cools a nuclear reactor in the basement. Dismembered tentacles mope in the attic listening to punk music. And a murderous purple meteor sucks out the brains of a bikini-clad babe for no real reason.

To some longtime computer gamers, this will all seem familiar. It's part of the fan-created computer game Maniac Mansion Deluxe, a remake of the 1987 LucasArts Maniac Mansion.

The original groundbreaking computer game changed the future of plot-based games. Its point-and-click interface killed the text parser game designers preferred until then. That engine also allowed a German schoolboy named Sascha Borisow with limited understanding of English to enjoy an American adventure game.

Wired News: Maniacs Make a Modern Mansion

The best thing about The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth for the PC is that it incorporates nearly every character, creature and military unit from the movies. Rohirrim and Uruk-Hai clash, Ents and Oliphants march across the battlefields, and Saruman and Gandalf go staff-to-staff. Ever wonder who would win in a fight between the Balrog and the Army of the Dead? Here's your chance to find out.

Wired News: Middle-earth a Middle-Tier Game

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is a pretty good game. It could have been great if publisher LucasArts had let the title cook for another six months instead of rushing it out for Christmas.

The game's predecessor, Knights of the Old Republic, was my favorite game of 2003 and topped a number of other critics' lists. The two big surprises surrounding the newly released sequel (available now in Xbox and in early 2005 for the PC) were that the game would come out 18 months after the first KOTOR, and that developer Obsidian would take the place of BioWare.

Wired News: Star Wars Sequel Lacks Force

Think you're the master of smooth talk? Prove it with Sprung, a new title for the recently released Nintendo DS handheld system that puts you in the role of a single guy or gal looking to hook up with the finest digital hotties.

While Sprung's witty dialogue and offbeat scenarios make for an intriguing premise, the repetitive, limited gameplay and low replay value mean you'll want to sneak out without saying goodbye.

Wired News: Playing the Dating Game, DS-Style


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