Recent Entries in Gaming


The Sims Online is a clean, well-lighted corner of the Internet where people work to build an elaborately decorated, chat-filled virtual world. But if playing by the rules in this realm isn't entertaining enough, there are after-hours joints where rogues and grifters gather to swap schemes for gaming the game and growing rich.


The chatter at, for example, is a mix of simple tips for guiding the characters known as Sims and elaborate strategies for earning millions of the online currency known as simoleans. Recently much of the talk has centered on using extra software, known as a bot, to automate the most tiresome clicking so players can rack up hundreds of thousands of simoleans in their sleep.

One of the players engaging in this automated counterfeiting, a 29-year-old financial planner from Texas, said he did so without apology (although he did not want to be identified by name). "I think the bots actually level the playing field for people who have day jobs," he said. "When I play an online game, I can't be the best because there are some college kids out there spending 14 hours a day."

Web sites like are a challenge for the rapidly growing world of interactive games. While breaking the rules or using secret "cheat codes" has always been an accepted, even treasured part of single-player games, new online games match competitors, often strangers, remotely, which changes the dynamic. No one likes to lose unfairly, and those who play by the rules often struggle against schemers who believe that all is fair in love and simulated war.

  SWG Game Preview

Let's get this out of the way right now: Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided is one of the most highly anticipated games ever. It's a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and like other online RPGs, Star Wars Galaxies will let you create an in-game character to venture out into an online world with other like-minded players. But no other online RPG has ever taken place in the Star Wars universe--specifically, in the time frame between the original Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back motion pictures. And no other online RPG has ever offered players as many intriguing options as to how they can play their characters, whether they wish to play as architects, smugglers, bounty hunters, or even would-be Jedi knights. Sony Online Entertainment and LucasArts graciously invited us to Sony's Austin, Texas, office to take a firsthand look at how the game is shaping up.


As far as online virtual reality metaverses go, this one's pretty good. It's apparently been around since 1995, and has a similar interface to ActiveWorlds. But it's much much better, and didn't cost anything to get online. There's a pretty extensive avatar list, and you can probably make your own. Still looks like a Dire Straits video, however.

Communities of users build their own houses, cities, and, in some cases, worlds. With 900,000 subscribers, AlphaWorld is supported by advertising and by subscription fees ranging from $10 to $1,000, based on how many users there are and how big a virtual space they occupy.


Some features:

  • A huge selection of avatars: many human, human-like and animal.
  • Text chat with whisper & mute.
  • Numerous viewpoints that you control: The camera that follows your avatar can be set in 1st or 3rd person and at different positions and varying speeds.
  • Discussion groups you can join at a click of a button - Let's talk about.
  • Free, anonymous email - send and receive mail to your username account
  • Get easily acquainted with other users by viewing the Personal Info they chose to share.
  • Keep track of your friends via the Friends list: you'll always know when your friends are online!
  • Teleport instantly to new locations via the map, or follow a friend to join her/him instantly.
  • Listen to music within
  • is constantly evolving - get automatic upgrades.
  • Explore's Web-of-Worlds. easily using WorldsMarks, which are much like Bookmarks & Favorites in your Web browser.
  • Check out all the interesting 3D spaces, and try to find some hidden rooms.
  • Enter contests and win prizes.

  Habbo Schmabbo

As far as virtual reality chat rooms go, Habbo Hotel is pretty good in that it knows its limitations. Far from making an engrossing 3D world in the style of a First Person Shooter (FPS), Habbo gives you a cute cartoon avatar in a bunch of limited capacity rooms. The big side effect is the place is always full of kids (mostly British pre-teens), so don't expect an insightful conversation or a high level of maturity. Of course, I never expect that when going into an online chat room.

It's clever: It's free to join, free to customize your avatar, free to make a room, and it doesn't oversell itself to the public. The conversation mechanism is clever too -- you can hear fragments of conversations as you walk through a room, since you have to be close to a person to hear what they are saying. Alternately, you can yell to everyone in a room, and all the little avatar heads turn to look at you.


  Inactive Worlds

This site is one of the first websites to go for the deep virtual reality experience. It's been around for a number of years now, but hasn't improved the look or function since I've been viewing it (and I've been back a couple of times over the years). Essentially the engine is about the level of Castle Wolfenstein, and you can still get through any wall or door simply by going sideways. Other than the technical drawbacks, there's no real reason to be in here, since there's never anyone around. Most "tourists" congregate near the starting portal and chat for free. Other members--those who allegedly pay for this service--aren't anywhere to be seen, but they've created some god-awful nightmare buildings and landscapes. It's about as fun as exploring the Ontario Science Center (without all the science stuff). Big, lonely, and ugly-looking.

Download the client and try it for yourself. But be aware there are far better games out there.


  Time to go "There"

Here's (or There's) one of the more professional-looking virtual reality online worlds. It's (There's) currently in beta testing, but it looks like it'll rival the Sims Online for non-gamers:

'"There" is the first online getaway that gives you the freedom to play and talk naturally while having fun and making friends. Check out the pictures below for just a glimpse of what you'll find in There. Then sign up to be one of our Beta Testers and see it all for yourself!

Grab a buggy or hoverboard and join a race, host a trivia contest, or create your own scavenger hunt. It's all up to you.

Hit the shops to check out the latest fashions and cool gear in There. Or, go bargain-hunting at the There auctions.

Find a guide and he or she will show you around the island. Or explore on your own. You may even find a few surprises...

Chat with your friends and meet new people through clubs (join up!) and topic listings, or hang out at the local bar. It's all in There.'


  The Sorcerer of Sony

The hottest properties in cyberspace are virtual worlds. Meet the man who's making magic -- and millions of dollars each month -- by developing the Net's newest boomtowns.

On any given day, you can find John Smedley smiting the odd necromancer or brandishing his sword alongside wood elves who want to kill the emperor of the snakelike Shissars. Sometimes, though, he just strolls around observing his fellow citizens. To you, they might look like knights, wizards, and ogres, scuttling across a three-dimensional landscape of castles, caves, and dank swamps.

But to him, they must look like money.

Smedley, 33, is the chief operating officer of Sony Online Entertainment, where he's master of the virtual boomtown known as EverQuest. Once a destination for the fringe Dungeons & Dragons crowd, the online role-playing game now has 433,000 paying customers who generate $5 million a month for the Japanese entertainment giant. Given the 40 percent gross-profit margins, and the fact that this world practically runs itself, the dragon-slaying business is looking pretty good these days.,1640,42210,FF.html

LucasArts will delay the inclusion of player-owned cities, vehicles, and Dark Jedi to some time after the April launch of the Star Wars online role-playing game.

LucasArts and Sony Online have revealed that some key features have been postponed from the initial feature list for Star Wars Galaxies. The list includes player-owned cities, drivable vehicles, player-generated missions, and the Dark Jedi character class.

In a lengthy post on the official Star Wars Galaxies forums, LucasArts producer Haden Blackman offers detailed reasons for why each feature will be delayed, noting that in the Live Team schedule there's "a plan for implementing the postponed systems within the first seven or eight months after launch." Blackman also suggests that many of the delayed features are not immediately critical because it will take some time for players to attain the necessary levels in order to use them.,10870,2910404,00.html

He lost a violent cyberwar game known as Counterstrike and then shot the victor.

Police now think that losing the game and being ridiculed about it triggered the Coquitlam Internet cafe shooting Jan. 18 that cost 17-year-old Christian Kwee his life.

  SWG: The Consecrated

Pulled this from the SWG forums. It's a bunch of X-tians who will be playing StarWars Galaxies, and want to setup an X-tian players' association. I think it's strange that people would intentionally bring their religious beliefs into a StarWars-themed game.

This is Zodakk, leader of The Consecrated.
The Consecrated is a Christian Player Association. We accept anyone that believes Jesus died for their sins and as their personal Savior. We are currently looking for new members in all professions and species.
The Consecrated was created for Christians to come together and play Star Wars Galaxies and have fun as a group of people in the same faith. You can visit our site for more information."

Atari, BioWare Corp. and FloodGate Entertainment are joining forces to expand the universe of the smash hit Neverwinter Nights™ , the award-winning fantasy role-playing game based in the Dungeons & Dragons™ Forgotten Realms™ world created by Wizards of the Coast. Neverwinter Nights™: Shadows of Undrentide is the first official expansion pack and is scheduled for release in Spring 2003.

SOUTHFIELD, MI.Bored with scaring elderly misers, the Ghost of Christmas Future is spending the holiday season taunting modern children with visions of Christmas 2016's hottest toy: the Sony PlayStation 5, a 2,048-bit console featuring a 45-Ghz trinary processor, CineReal graphics booster with 2-gig biotexturing, and an RSP connector for 360-degree online-immersion play.

Looking for a new MMRPG game to get into? Well, look no further, citizen. Welcome to City of Heroes, the online world that's home to an entire universe of heroes. Here you and thousands of other players can take on the roles of super powered heroes, fight villains, and help create the story in a stunning, 3D graphical world.

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