Posts Tagged ‘ Gaming ’

Warhammer Online Release Date: Part 2

So, it looks like the date got pushed up. Multiple sites are now showing the Collectors Edition of the game is due to ship on Sept 16th, and they are listing that the servers will go live on Sept 18th.

That sounds a little more solid than a guess. 

Warhammer Online Release Date Set

After multiple delays and push backs EA has announced the release date for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. September 23rd. Link Here. I am excited. You should be too.

Hellgate: London Update

Wow, this is getting very messy. IGN tries to clear it all up.

A significant number of Hellgate: LondonMythos and Ping0 staff have been made redundant, Gamasutrareports. Coming mere weeks after confessions from Hellgate executives regarding the game’s unfinished state, a sizeable rant by the company’s sole surviving programmer, and suggestions that the staff went considerably over-budget, the end of the line draws near for Flagship. Having accepted significant amounts of venture capitalist funding, Flagship currently has no way of repaying that investment, and presumably no way of paying day-to-day bills, despite EA’s claims of the game having one active million subscribers.However, Korean distributor and co-I.P. owner HanbitSoft later clarified that the majority of those subscribers were in their territory. And because of that, the firm has today taken control of Hellgate: London with the intention to maintain and update the game using in-house staff.

 

HanbitSoft states that the reason it is pursuing this course of action is because “It is hard for us to accept Flagship Studios’ requests for continued support in capital and funding any longer and because Flagship was being difficult”, and because it co-owns a direct stake in the IP, it therefore “has a say in reviewing and determining any course of action to be taken with Hellgate: London.”HanbitSoft is expected to take full control over the IP. HanbitSoft goes on to state that in doing so, it will be able to “properly manage and develop Hellgate: London into a good game with proper content”, with its own in-house team of developers.

The report further states that the online service of Hellgate: London, which started in January 15, 2008 acquired 100,000 early users within the first two weeks of operation during which time HanbitSoft earned 3 billion won (approximately 3 million USD) for the sales of Hellgate: London in Korea. However, the number of players in the game significantly declined due to the lack of general out-of-the-box content and the sparsity of ongoing content updates. Since its Open Beta launch, Hellgate: London has gone from being the 9th most played game in Korea to 52nd post-commercial launch.

Amusingly, Flagship knew nothing of the Asian revolt, and now intends to take all necessary legal action to retain control of Hellgate worldwide:

 

This story is an outright lie. We have no idea where they are getting their information from and have asked legal counsel to pursue the issue. We are mystified by Hanbitsoft’s conclusions and any attempt to take over the IP will be met with a strong and swift response, to “illegally take over the IP”. All right title and interest in Hellgate; London resides in Flagship Financing, LLC a wholly-owned subsidiary of Flagship Studios. We are outraged that Hanbitsoft would attempt to completely tarnish the reputation of its most vital developer. Hanbitsoft’s new management clearly does not understand the terms of its relationship with Flagship.

The saga continues, stay tuned.

Update: Hanbitsoft’s lawyers got in touch:

 

Please understand that the facts are (1) HanbitSoft is an exclusive licensee of both Hellgate and Mythos in Asia, with rights to sublicense the games; (2) in addition, HanbitSoft is a secured creditor who has been pledged the Mythos (but not the Hellgate) intellectual property as collateral for a loan; (3) Comerica, another secured lender, has been pledged the Hellgate intellectual property as its collateral for a loan; (4) Flagship Studios does not currently own the intellectual properties to either game, which are held in separate companies subject to the security interests of lenders, and Flagship Studios’ interest in those companies is also pledged to its lenders; (5) it is unfortunate that Flagship turned down additional investments HanbitSoft offered to make that would have allowed it to keep its doors open, but HanbitSoft hopes to work with Comerica and some of the team at Flagship to see if there is a way to continue to generate content to keep Hellgate online in Asia and to finish the development of Mythos.

Note point five: “would have allowed it to keep its doors open.” 

A Sinking (Flag)Ship

When Hellgate: London finished beta, the forums where full of beta testers trying to tell the company that the game was not ready, and post by fanboys screaming it was the best game ever and a miracle patch was coming. Well, Hellgate: London launched and was ripped apart by most critics and the majority of the fans. I was very sad because I saw it coming, and nothing was done.

Now Gamasutra is reporting that Flagship Studios the company made up of mostly ex-Blzzard North developers is having some major problems. It starts with rumors of layoffs and has moved to this:

Gamasutra has received confirmation from a Flagship Studios representative that the Hellgate: London developer has seen significant staff cuts.

This morning, Gamasutra obtained information from a source close to the company indicating that staff at both the Flagship development team as well as online services subsidiary Ping0 were let go. Both companies operate out of the same building.

Flagship declined to go into further detail about the layoffs, beyond stating that there was truth to the reports.

Hellgate: London was released last October to favorable-skewing reviews, but was plagued by notorious launch issues and certain major gameplay criticisms. The company’s core founders were comprised of former Blizzard North developers responsible for the Diablo games, and Hellgate was intended as a spiritual successor to those titles.

The news comes despite claims by co-publisher Electronic Arts that Hellgatehas over one million active subscribers – being particularly successful in Korea. 

In a statement last month, Flagship intended to reassure fans of the company’s health despite worries generated by a post on CVO David Brevik’s blog. 

“All our Directors and Founders are still working at Flagship, and all of them are working on Hellgate: London or Mythos,” read the statement. “The team size for Hellgate is as big now as when we shipped.”

A second source close to Flagship indicated to Gamasutra that even at the time of such outward confidence, the company was going through internal turbulence.

[UPDATE: Fan site Hellgate Guru has translated a Korean news reportindicating that Hellgate: London‘s publisher in the region, HanbitSoft, “…is taking full control over the Hellgate: London intellectual property from Flagship Studios,” and intends to continue the game using in-house staff.

However, Flagship has officially responded: “This story is an outright lie. We have no idea where they are getting their information from and have asked legal counsel to pursue the issue… We are mystified by Hanbitsoft’s conclusions and any attempt to take over the IP will be met with a strong and swift response.”]

Poor Flagship. I can’t feel that bad though, as they had plenty of warning.

Warhammer Age of Reckoning: Guild Beta Starting

For those of you who signed up for the guild beta of Warhammer: Age of Reckoning better check your inboxes. Mark Jacobs has announced the beginning of the guild beta.

“WAR’s Guild Beta is here and some of the world’s most experienced MMO players will now get a chance to play one of the most anticipated MMOs of all time,” said Mark Jacobs, vice president and general manager of Mythic Entertainment. “We look forward to seeing them beat, bash and burn their way through the world that we have created for their enjoyment. It’s going to be a lot of fun and it’s going to be glorious!”

Hit the jump for the full press release. Continue reading

Too Human, Not Enough?

For those of you who don’t know, Too Human is a Diabloish style game with a third person view set in a futuristic world of Norse mythology. Sounds pretty awesome to me. The initial gameplay videos made me really excited about the game. I was hoping that Too Human would be everything Hellgate: London was supposed to be. Exciting combat in a Sci-Fi setting with some awesome coop (and having it work). Well, last weekend the studio set out some preview copies to let reviews have some time with the game, and the results are not good. 

From Kotaku’s Round up:

Poor Denis DyackToo Human‘s not even out yet, and already, the knives are out. None sharper than this one: over on the Eurogamer boards, one of the site’s mods – a chap who claims to be a journo – says his Too Human review NDA is “against [his] human rights”. He also says “this has to be the worst game I’ve played in the last 5 years”, citing everything from the game’s animation to its supposedly repetitive combat. This follows on from a few hands-on impressions hitting yesterday that range from the wary to the downbeat to the cautiously damning. None of which are the final word. But all of which will nevertheless be taken as final gospel/reviews by the impressionable and trollish (despite the potential that one is a complete fabrication), which should make a fascinating case study in the construction of internet preconceptions for some student, somewhere.

“Interview with Silicon Knights about Too Human” [Eurogamer, via VG247]

Hit the Jump for the full preview round up. Continue reading

Diablo III Coverage

So now that we know it is Diablo 3, there have been quite a lot of coverage. Lets see whats going on:

From Kotak:

by Lesley Smith

Blizzard Entertainment President Mike Morhaime formally announced Diablo III during the WWI’s opening ceremony this morning, not that this will come as a surprise to anyone with the Diablo III forums already active on the official Blizzard site and rumours running rampant for nearly a fortnight.

After recapping on the success of the previous Invitational held in Korea, Morhaime premiered a trailer and then demoed a level playing as a Barbarian and a Witch Doctor, showcasing some of the improvements over the original game as well as giving attendees a hint at what they can expect from the final product. This includes a new UI in place of the potion belt and the ability to play the game just by using a mouse. Similarly the health system has been augmented by God of War and Devil May Cry style red globes which replenish not just the health of the character but also those near by.

After the Fire Dancers had left the main stage and the crowds has dispersed, many jubilant, I headed for the jam-packed press conference where journalists got to give Blizzard’s Jay Wilson (Lead Designer on Diablo III) and co-founder Frank Pearce a grilling about Diablo III.

“It’s been in development for a few years. About four.” Wilson admits and of course, when asked the next Big Question: a release date, he gives the typical Blizzard response. “When it’s done,”

Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce was quick to add that, even after four years, “it’s far too early in development.”

Despite being vague on many points such as how much of the game was complete – a process Wilson described as ‘super fun’ – and the specifics of the storyline, He revealed the game is set twenty years after the War of Destruction and the events of the original games have become regarded as myth, indeed even those who were alive (and that’s not many) are either insane or convinced that nothing happened.

Unlike Warcraft, this is not a game about crafting your own unique virtual persona. Other than the classes and the gender, avatars aren’t customisable; instead the idea is to “dive right in and get to the monster killing”.

Being a Diablo title, it really wouldn’t be right unless there were plenty of monsters to slaughter and bosses to defeat. The monsters themselves are huge but even the obese charging abomination we saw steam-rolling towards a Barbarian – a giant in its own right – was just a mob. But the most impressive aspect was not the size of the mobs – it was a wall of zombies which managed to elicit cheers from the crowds.

While the assembled masses were shown two areas, a dungeon and a grassy wilderness, that was more than enough to show off some of the more interesting aspects of the Barbarian and Witch Doctor. The first, for example, uses a special attack called Whirlwind to send zombies and other trash flying to their deaths while the Witch Doctor makes use of pets who do their bidding. They can also summon swarms of locusts who devour enemies and anyone nearby. Like World of Warcraft’s priests and warlocks, they also have the ability to send enemies running using an ability called Horrify as well as mind control which is going to make for some interesting fights. Even more so when you consider that maps aren’t all static, some are random meaning the exit and entrance to an area might not be in the same place each time.

Oh, and for those of you wondering what really was with that Blizzard splash screen well the Diablo theorists were right. Wilson confirmed that the design of the splash screen was meant to hint at Diablo III but doesn’t know anything about that purple penguin.

From Gamespy:

Just a few minutes ago, Blizzard kicked things off at the Worldwide Invitational in Paris, and did it by officially announcing their latest project: Diablo III. After showing off a short teaser unveiling the game, co-founder Mike Morhaime brought up lead designer Jay Wilson, who gave the crowd a 20-minute demo of the game in action.

The demo, which showed that Diablo III will use a 3D isometric view, included a look at the Barbarian and Witch Doctor classes and talk of destructible environments. The announcement ends a week of massive speculation throughout the online gaming community, who’d focused on a teaser image at the official Worldwide Invitational site through the week.

The unveiling of Diablo III is just the start of the festivities in Paris: through the weekend, we’ll be going hands-on with StarCraft II and the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion back, as well as chatting with members of Blizzard on hand. Check back regularly, as we’ll have more news and hands-on impressions through the weekend.

From IGN.com:

June 28, 2008 – We caught up with Rob Pardo, Blizzard’s executive vice president of game design following the Diablo III announcement at their Worldwide Invitational 2008 event in Paris, France. During the course of the interview he expanded on some of Blizzard’s design philosophy as it relates to Diablo III, its development process, some of the game’s features, and managed to eat about one half of a slice of pepperoni pizza. Development on Diablo III began way back when Blizzard North was still around and currently the team working on it consists of around 50 people. Initially the game’s visual design was closer to the older games than what we saw in the gameplay demonstration. “We probably did three rev[ision]s on the visual direction until we got to this and now we’re really happy with it,” said Pardo.

The gameplay was also given several overhauls. “We were pretty heavily influenced by some of the games that were coming out like God of War, a very visceral game,” said Pardo. “A totally different genre but you kind of saw games like that and we thought we really needed to update this game’s gameplay…it has to be much more of an action game.”

With many before the reveal buzzing about a potential Diablo MMO announcement, we had to ask: was there ever any thought to moving Diablo away from its overhead action-RPG roots? “It totally crossed our mind but this is the game we ultimately wanted to make. Obviously I love MMOs, I think it’s a great genre, but that doesn’t mean that other genres aren’t great too. I actually see a huge opportunity in the action-RPG genre because nobody’s really doing a lot of games in that genres and I don’t understand why, personally.”

Though there have been quite a few action-RPG releases since Diablo II, perhaps there weren’t as many as there should have been, or perhaps action-RPGs get labeled incorrectly. “What I think often happens with the genre, with the games that I’ve seen, is that they kind of get confused as to whether it’s an RPG that just happens to be real-time or is it just an action game,” said Pardo. “I feel like that’s oftentimes you get these games that are not quite doing both. I feel like that’s the big opportunity for us. If you look at Diablo and Diablo II, they’re really action games. The story was light, the RPG were very light and I think one of the things we looked at with Diablo III was that doesn’t have to be the case.”

Pardo cited what Blizzard did with real-time strategy design from StarCraft to Warcraft 3. “A lot of people in that time period were doing RTS missions where you just build up your base, slug it out against another base, do that 30 times and you’re done with the campaign. With War 3 we tried to come up with interesting scenarios and I think that’s the same thing with Diablo III. You guys may have been used to Diablo and Diablo II being really just kind of a point and click game…fun but not really immersive.”

Incorporating more involved questing and role-playing elements is something Blizzard is focusing on with Diablo III, but also make the gameplay more dynamic. “We had bosses in Diablo II but, again, they weren’t really involved. We really want to try to implement bosses that are much more epic, there’s much more gameplay to actually defeating them. We’re taking cues from games like Zelda, God of War, games like that, bring that to the action-RPG genre. We want to have side quests and scenarios that are much more involved…like defend the town from attack or something like that.”

Diablo III will be similar to Diablo II in terms of its overall structure. There’ll still be acts. There’ll be above and underground sections of maps, though the outdoor environment won’t be as randomized, as Blizzard wants to build more distinct personality into some of the game’s sections. There still will be plenty of randomization though when it comes to items, monsters, and dungeons.

While roaming around the game’s areas, you’ll have a selection of classes to pick from. At this point Blizzard is saying it’ll be similar to what was originally available in Diablo II before Lord of Destruction. Their official FAQ sheet says there’ll be five classes exactly. So far we know of the barbarian and all-new witch doctor, a spell-focused class that can summon minions, fear enemies, and summon walls of zombies.

Pardo had quite a bit to say about how Blizzard is going about the tweaks made to returning class skills and the new ones being brought in. “With any sort of sequel, and I’m going to go ahead and use Sid Meier’s rule because we use something similar…The way he approaches sequels is one-third proven, one-third improved, and one-third new. That’s pretty much how we approached StarCraft 2…some of the old units came in, some of the old units got improvements, we brought in some new units, and we also got rid of some units. I think you’ll see something similar [in Diablo III]. The barbarian as you saw has a ton of abilities that are totally new but we had to bring over things like whirlwind.”

So why announce Diablo now? We still don’t have release dates for StarCraft II or World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion, which many were speculating would be announced at WWI, so why bring another high profile product into the pubic with yet another nebulous release date? “The announcement of our projects is usually when it’s time for that game to be announced,” said Pardo. “This project has been going for a while and it finally got to the point where it felt like it’s time to announce the game. We kind of have this rule of, ideally, we announce a game a year to a year and a half before the game comes out. That’s our theory, and then three years later [trails off]. We’re getting to be a bigger and bigger studio so we can’t just keep one game announced and everything else hidden. We have several games in development now.”

Finally, when might we hear something about another MMO from Blizzard? “I think it’ll be a while before we announce our next game.”

There you guys have it, release info on Diablo 3. Although I am sad to hear it wasn’t Starcraft Universe, a new Diablo is pretty awesome.