A Chat with a Cornered Rat

A Chat with a Cornered Rat!

 
 

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Rodney ” Hatch” Hodge and Chris “Mo” Sherland of Cornered Rat Software. Hatch is the PR dude and Mo is the producer of WWII Online. WWII Online is a truly ambitious massively multiplayer online game due for release later this year based on, well…WWII. WWII Online will allow you to participate in land, sea and air wars. Some of the folks at Cornered Rat do have experience with this kind of endeavor, the teams’ last project was the highly regarded WarBirds! Read on to see just how WWII Online is shaping up and see how you will be able to participate in this truly unique game.

 
 

Q. First things first, let’s get that name out of the way. What does Cornered Rat mean? Is it some kind of private inside joke? It certain is distinctive.

LOL!!! It started as a joke based on experience but fit the bill so well that we decided to keep it..:)

As most of the online computer simulation community knows, we once merged our old company with another CD-ROM computer game company to help both companies through a successful IPO.

Unfortunately, it was pretty much an up hill battle from there. The long and short of the story is that we had a difference of opinion on the direction of game development, game quality, and community development, that unfortunately did not rear its ugly head until after the ink was dry …

Read More →

Unmasking Our Favourite Gaming Heroes

When we play a video game, we don’t want to sit there and fiddle with the controls; we want to be involved in the story, become overwhelmed and excited over our protagonist. Now, a new trend is entering the realm of video games. It seems the mystery buzzing around the real identity of ‘you’ is over. Revealing the face of the game’s main character seems risky, but it appears to be working in webbing a strong relationship between player and game.

Some developers do a subtle approach, such as Bioshock, plastering Jack’s face on a board with others from the game at its end. Others require gamers to put the pieces together. While you never saw Soap MacTavish’s face in Call of Duty 4, he was finally revealed as a Mohawked Scot in Modern Warfare 2. The same was applied for Singularity’s Renko during a flashback and Far Cry’s Jack Carver, whose faces were unveiled at the end of the games. Or some developers just throw the identity of ‘you’ right at you. One could name the Battlefield: Bad Company series as a culprit.

 
 

It was common and typical of first person shooters to keep the identity of the main character secret in order to maintain some imagination for the player, but even third person shooters are now getting in on the trend. Isaac Clarke of Dead Space fame had his face revealed at the game’s end, showing a battered, bruised and heartbroken man. This is continued in …

Read More →

E3 – the games

From the same ‘ol to nothing ever seen before

 

 
 

Today’s article is the second in a two-part feature on the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) held in L.A. May 11-13. Yesterday’s article gave a brief overview of what E3 is. Check it out if you really want to know. Today’s focuses on the actual games showcased at the expo – and mostly just the top game in each genre.

 
 

Sports 
Sadly, this area was possibly the least represented category at the Entertainment Expo. And sadly the top sports game is a sequel that will possibly rehash its last installment. Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL 2001” will probably play exactly like the 2000 game, but its biggest gain is in the graphic department. Large tweaks – like higher resolution player models – and smaller ones – like including wristbands and other gear on each player – will make it look as good as the eye-candy PlayStation 2 version.

 
 

Adventure 
Another ill-represented category with its top game also a sequel. However, when the game is LucasArts’ “Escape from Monkey Island,” it’s easy to forgive. The funniest and most beloved series in adventure gaming will be getting its fourth installment sometime this year. It was unexpected but a joy to hear. It will also bear some remarkable changes. It will change from its two-dimensional (although quite impressive) graphics, to a three dimensional world. It will be running on the same engine that ran another of LucasArts’ adventure games – “Grim Fandango.” While the game play …

Read More →

Trends and predictions

The last couple of years have seen a revival in wargaming, due in no small part to the publication of Warhammer Ancient Battles. Based on the popular Games Workshop rules for Warhammer, this set of books (Ancient Battles, Armies of Antiquity and Chariot Wars) provides an opportunity to wargame large campaigns or small scale skirmishes with a range of ancient and dark age armies. It’s effect has been quite astounding. Stalwart historical wargamers, previously determined to ignore the Warhammer phenomenon have tried Ancient Battles and even been tempted to play Warhammer Fantasy or 40K! (see the recent editorial at Battlegames).

 

 
 

As with Games Workshop products, Warhammer Ancient Battles has a particular, closely related, miniatures manufacturer: Foundry. Beautifully painted examples of Foundry models are used as illustrations in the Ancient Battles rule book. Their 25 mm models are of exceptional standard and a widely available in blister packs in wargaming shops worldwide. I have found their mail order service to be helpful and fast, and as a first-time buyer was given a 25% discount on my first two orders. Unfortunately the Foundry online shop sucks. Alternative 25 mm miniatures can be obtained from many sources, but I recommend Gripping Beast for their range of Dark Age figures.

The success of this rule set has meant that the British Historical Games Society runs competitions using Warhammer Ancient Battles during its National Wargames Championships along side the more traditional De Bellis Multitudinis (DBM) and De Bellis Renationis (DBR) games.

Foundry were also behind …

Read More →

Strawhead’s Songs of the Civil War

Strawhead is a remarkable folk group from the north of England who have been providing their avid fans with a range of “popular music of the olden times” since their formation in 1974. The three band members have never turned “professional”, enjoying the freedom to choose where and when they play, as well as the opportunity to research and select the music which forms their repertoire.

 

“The selection process is mystical and always has been…we just play through the songs and things either work for the band as a whole or they don’t.”

In their day-jobs Chris Pollington is the head of music in a tertiary college, Malcolm Gibbons is an antique valuer, and Gregg Butler is an “unfrocked Captain of Industry now into consulting.” The creative process starts with a general agreement on what the latest project should be. Gregg, who maintains a database of broadsheet ballads, does much of the band’s initial research and sings through the tune to the others. The musical arrangement of selected songs may need little or a lot of work — “not many Parliamentarian Civil War songs or Pro-Monmouth tracks” are available out there. Thus Malcolm and Chris collaborate on the arrangement, and Gregg steps in to provide the strange instruments.

Songs of the Civil War was recorded in 1997 and is available on an extended cassette tape (roughly an hour each side). There are plans to convert the recording to CD format in the near future, but Strawhead already have a number …

Read More →

Reviews: Recent D20 Books for Horror Games

It’s been tough trying to figure out how to write about horror — and horror games, at that — since 9-11. I’m all for the escapist powers of gaming, but horror games haven’t held much appeal for the last month. So, what I’m going to do this time is review the games I’ve bought recently, since I’ve lucked out and ended up with some really nice stuff.

 

 
 

The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.

I was never a big fan of the Forgotten Realms, exactly. It seemed like the kind of thing that was hard to get into because there was so much out there, and the basic books were always out of date from years’ worth of regional sourcebooks and the like.

But I picked this up, in part because of the dearth of supported D&D; settings in 3rd edition and in part because gosh darn it, the book is just so pretty. And it’s worth it. It’s a $40 hardcover, and it’s still worth it. Honestly, this is the best single-product storebought setting I’ve seen for D&D;, and it’s $40 because there’s so much stuff in it. The much-ballyhooed regional feats are a great idea which I hope are emulated by other D20 publishers. The setting section is enormous, as it should be, and has more adventure and campaign ideas than you can shake a stick at. I have a pick-up game going with my ex and her boyfriend, whenever we happen to have time, and we’ve had a …

Read More →

Finding Inspiration: The Rest of the Books

So, we’ve covered Stephen King. What else should you read?

 

 
 

H. P. Lovecraft. Don’t plan on doing much with Things From Beyond and Dark Secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know if you haven’t encountered Lovecraft. Most people know him indirectly – there are Cthulhu pastiches in every corner of fandom – but it’s really worth reading the original. Pulp horror at its finest – one of the grandfathers of the genre, the Tolkien of horror. His Cthulhu stories are his most well known, but there’s a Lovecraft story in pretty much every big hardcover horror anthology (you’ll find them remaindered in the mall, often enough). I’ve picked up lots of his books at used bookstores, too.

Naturally, if you’re interested in a Lovecraft game, your best bet is Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, which has supplements for the modern-day, Lovecraft’s own 1920s, and the Victorian era.

Anne Rice. For many people – too many people, in my frank opinion – Rice has the first and last word on vampires. The first book in her Vampire Chronicles, Interview with a Vampire, is good – you’ve probably seen the movie with Tom Cruise as Lestat. It was a nice change of pace for vampire stories – a sensual, almost effete vampire consumed by angst, the vampire as brooding sex symbol. The makers of Vampire: the Masquerade have taken this ball, run with it, and done a lay-up.

Peter Straub. Did you grow up reading Dean Koontz and Stephen King, …

Read More →

Seat Massagers for Gaming Chairs

If you ask ten of the most successful professional gamers from e-sports which are the most important miscellaneous element needed for success, you might get surprising answers. Sure, the mouse and professional keyboard are important, but on the long term, they will all tell you about the importance of having a good seat massager for gaming chairs.

Many of the modern gaming chairs also come with a massage feature, which is welcomed but also contested by professional and amateur e-sports players. Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of seat massagers for the people spending a lot of time in front of the computer: gamers.

Advantages of massage chairs for gamers

  1. Anytime – after a long and tensed Counterstrike fight online with your friends, you might want to relax by watching a quick Youtube movie before beginning the next session. By turning on your massage chair, you will relax easier and you will be ready for playing a lot faster than your opponents! Don’t tell them your secret, but we bet some of them already know it and they use professional massage chairs in their breaks.
  2. It can give similar effects with the ones offered by a therapist – most of these chairs are programmable, which is a delight for gamers to discover. Doesn’t be surprised the features of these chairs can be just as complicated as the controls of a space ship, as they offer many features and a relaxing massage at any time. This means you can relax after

Read More →

Can you go home again?

Can you go home again?

 

 
 

There is a certain fondness with which I recall my teen years. Not quite the kind of reverence that one reserves for nostalgia but there is certainly affection for that time. Some of my more vivid memories involve skipping class with friends and venturing to the local arcade; no this is not intended to serve as encouragement to others. Here my friends and I would spend hours feeding quarters to those hungry video game machines. Holding mini-tourneys to determine who was the best player at a given game. Galaga was my game of choice.

Well, now Macromedia has given me the opportunity to relive those days of yore. Through an agreement with Atari www.atari.com, Marcomedia Shockwave www.shockwave.com now offers Frogger, Centipede, Super Breakout and Missile Command available for play. For me it was an inexpensive stroll down memory lane. Inexpensive because these games don’t suck away any quarters, thankfully they’re free.

The game play remains true to the originals, if you played the monster machines you’ll remember how to play these. It’s like riding a bicycle. If you have been so unfortunate as to not have experienced the originals you’ll pick the play up very quickly.

The shockwave versions of these arcade classics bear more than just a passing resemblance to their forefathers. The biggest difference is the size of the shockwave games, while I didn’t break out a yardstick my guess would be that these games were no bigger than 2 inches by 2 …

Read More →

Preview: “Project EGO”

Big Blue Box is one of Lionhead’s satellite studios. Lionhead is the company that brought us the magnificent and innovative Black and White. The Black and White engine is the basis of Big Blue Box’s first game, code named Project EGO.

With such a pedigree already behind it, there are tremendous expectations for what Project EGO will be, and Big Blue Box has made some tremendous promises about what we can expect, mainly in the area of character management.

You start off with a single character, either male or female, who starts the game at the age of 15, and will age realistically. The average lifespan of your character will be about seventy years or so. Once your character dies, another, younger character can be created to take his place, but the details of that process is still being worked on.

As with Black and White, Project EGO gives you the freedom to have your character behave and develop however you like. If you want to be a valiant warrior, just grab that sword and start slapping enemies around. A thief? Put on some black clothing and stick to the shadows. A wizard? Well, you get the point by now. You’re not locked into any particular stereotype, though. If you want your thief to wear the brightest, loudest costume in the land, you are free to do so.

Your character’s appearance will change according to your personal preferences and lifestyle choice. A character that spends a lot of time whacking …

Read More →