You’ve probably heard that print is dieing. Newspapers are going bankrupt, the magazine industry is condensing and people are losing their jobs. It’s largely due to the Internet, the old guard being slow to adapt and that crappy economy we keep hearing about. That did not phase the start-up magazine Kill Screen.
Kill Screen targets the niche market of people who take their video games seriously. At billions of dollars of revenue a year, it is serious business. There’s no ads, no reviews, no previews in Kill Screen. Just poignant discussion of our favorite medium.
Those who want a collectible magazine that can stand the test of time. One that any self-respecting gamer would be proud to display (“Hide those Nintendo Powers! Company is coming over.) should head over to the official website. A single issue costs $20, while a subscription of $75 nets you four copies of the quarterly magazine and a bonus T-shirt.
In addition to assisting raid strategy, AVR can also be used to make it look like Ironforge has contracted the measles.
Augmented Reality is a technology that’s gained a lot of ground recently, used primarily in advertising schemes or accompanying products to allow people to “interact” in the real world with objects that aren’t actually there. Usually this is accomplished by using a “target” (a card or other surface marked up with a special code), that when read by software through, say, a webcam, displays the fictional bauble above as though it truly exists. The user can then do things such as pass their hand over it to move it about or cause it to perform other actions.
Now, not too long ago, a mod hit the scene called AVR. That would be Augmented Virtual Reality, and it works on the same basic principal, except it allows things to be drawn on top of or overlaid upon an alreadyfictional world (in this case, it’s Azeroth). Blown you mind yet? The possibilities of such a plug-in should be immediately obvious, and it sure didn’t take long before people figured out how to use it to their advantage. One popular use was to mark the locations where people should stand during Sindragosa’s air phase so that you don’t wipe the raid (which is, in my experience, notoriously hard for your average raider to remember — yes, I’m bitter about it).
I found this idea so intriguing that I nearly made a video of it for Lore Hound, but retracted the idea when I realized that though the technology was cool, it wasn’t perfect. As it lays above the environment instead of specifically being pasted on it (imagine the way a puck is lifted just above the table in air hockey), changing the camera angle or using it on variable-height surfaces like stairs rendered it nearly useless. Still, the idea was great. You could place symbols on the ground to mark things, or put range circles/rulers around your character to figure out how far away you need to be from things, but of course this would make things far too easy when it did work.
People complain about World of Warcraft‘s difficulty all the time, but it makes you wonder how many of those players are raiding with a spartan, mod-free interface. How many of us are relying on one crutch or another to get through an encounter (and, as an added wrinkle to the argument, how many of those should have been standard and provided by Blizzard in the first place)?
Blizz is generally pretty lenient about the kinds of mods people create and we tend to depend on those that give us added information about the game world. I think the reason AVR is causing such a stir, though, is that it goes one step further and allows us to affect the environment itself. It exists beyond the two-dimensional plane of our user interface and expands into the third that Azeroth occupies, and that’s a major no-no. Here’s the official line:
This is a notice that we’re making changes in 3.3.5 in attempts to break the ability for the AVR (Augmented Virtual Reality) mod to continue functioning. For those unaware, this mod allows players to draw in the 3D space of the game world, which can then be shared with others who are also using the mod. In some cases this manifests itself through drawing/tagging/defacing the game world, but more popularly is used to give visual guides for dungeon and raid encounters.
We’re making this change for two reasons. The invasive nature of a mod altering and/or interacting with the game world (virtually or directly) is not intended and not something we will allow. World of Warcraft UI addons are never intended to interact with the game world itself. This is mirrored in our stance and restriction of model and texture alterations. The second reason is that it removes too much player reaction and decision-making while facing dungeon and raid encounters. While some other mods also work to this end, we find that AVR and the act of visualizing strategy within the game world simply goes beyond what we’re willing to allow.
The change we’re making in attempts to break the functionality is light in its touch and approach. When blocking any functionality we run the risk of affecting other mods, but we’ve targeted the changes as carefully as possible. If we find that the AVR mod (or any mod attempting to replicate its functions) are usable after 3.3.5 we will take further, more drastic steps. Read more…
Good news for fans of browser-based games, Winds of Conquest is a brand new one that lets you find the excitement of building your own company. Be the best business manager, constantly evolving your company, protecting it by rivals, overcoming issues and doing everything else you normally get paid for doing. You can also manage your business places, transportation, factories and production, competing against other players in a round-based style to see who has the brightest future as a business manager.
Publisher GamesCampus has revealed details about Soul Master, their “genre-bending” MMORTS, which is also free-to-play, by the way. Soul Master will combine the character advancement of an action RPG with the depth and gameplay balance of an Real Time Strategy game. The game tries to bring together the best of both worlds, with you being able to create and progress a character, take them on various quests and missions just like in any other ORPG, but you will also be able to send your character out hunting for resources, constructing buildings and producing and upgrading their very own army of units with which to battle the enemies. More information on Soul Master is coming soon, and the game is looking nice. If you like anime styled characters, that is.
Have you heard of the developer Runic Games? A small studio, started by whatever was leftover from Flagship Studios. And Flagship Studios was a small studio started by whatever was leftover from Blizzard North. And Blizzard North we know best for bringing us what is considered to be the greatest hack and slash RPG of all time, Diablo. Anyway, Runic started small. They quickly started working on their first game, Torchlight. Well, the game was a huge success and apparently the publisher of Jade Dynasty and Perfect World likes owning companies that make good games, go figure. So, Perfect World Entertainment acquired most of Runic Games. This means that PWE will be the new publisher for the upcoming Torchlight MMORPG. Great news, I say.
As Final Fantasy XIV makes its transition from alpha to beta, the public are given another opportunity to apply for a testing position. It seems that the Playstation 3 beta will also begin shortly, as users are given the option to enter the code that was received when registering the Playstation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIII through the Square Enix members site. Apart from access to the beta, the code will also grant the user an exclusive in-game item.
It was only a matter of time. Members of the WoW audience were not the only ones who took notice last month when Blizzard made the move to sell its first mount for IRL dollars. Of course not. At 25 bucks a pop, those sparkle ponies sold like hotcakes (and I, too, am guilty of this indulgence.) And in result, Blizzard surely made millions off of one single in-game item that looks pretty. How could the world not take notice of such a large amount of real-life cash being spent on a virtual item?
Some of us worried that this would set a precedent for things to come. And it looks like that is starting to unfold. Today, Sony Online Entertainment announced that it would sell its first ever marketplace mounts, called the Prowlers — available in “Ethereal” purple, “Sinister” green and “Ulteran” blue. And unlike the Celestial Steed that looks pretty but pretty much offers no advantage otherwise, these guys come with built-in buffs:
“Each mount comes in your choice of one of the following versions: Fierce and Arcane. The Fierce version increases Slashing, Aggression, Ranged, Piercing and Crushing of caster by 5, while the Arcane version increases Focus, Ordination, Disruption, Subjugation and Ministration of caster by 5. Both versions of the mount have a 65% run speed.
The Prowlers are guaranteed to be available for at least one month and adventurers can now purchase these new mounts for 2500SC (Pixie’s note – this equates to $25 each, the same as the Celestial Steed) from the Marketplace. These are the first Station Cash items of their kind and are immediately available in-game, upon purchase.
So even though we all pretty much saw this coming, it still bothers me. One of the huge caveats that supporters of the Celestial Steed — including myself — have been saying all along is that they support it because it does not provide any in-game advantage over other mounts. Not the case with The Prowlers. Does this raise the bar for what we’ll see in the future? Slippery slope, folks. That’s all I’m sayin’.
I love my shiny pony. But what will be the price that we ultimately pay for this service? Would those of you who supported the Celestial Steed like myself still agree with the idea if we start seeing more items that provide an in-game advantage?
The World of Warcraft Remote Auction House beta test is now open for business! The Remote Auction House is a new service in development that lets players access the World of Warcraft Auction House from the Armory website (http://us.wowarmory.com/auctionhouse/) or the Mobile Armory app for iPhone and iPod touch (http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=321057000&mt=8). Players can browse their characters’ local Auction Houses with the same search functionality available in the game, as well as see the real-time status of each of their current bids and auctions.
As we’d mentioned previously (http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=22748781945), certain features of the Remote Auction House will be premium-based. Once the beta test is complete and the Remote Auction House is live, players will be able to subscribe to a new service called World of Warcraft Remote (http://us.wowarmory.com/wow-remote.xml), which will allow them to buy items; post items for sale from a character’s bags, bank, or mailbox; collect gold from their bids and auctions; and more. During the beta test, players can try out these features for free, and each World of Warcraft account will be able to perform up to 25 transactions per day. (Please note this limit will be increased at launch.)
The list of realms eligible to participate in the beta test is displayed below. If your realm is not on this list, please check again soon, as we plan to eventually open the beta test to all realms.
Update 5/20 – The supported list of realms has been updated to include the Bloodlust and Cyclone battle groups. Read more…