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 …

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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like the kind of thing that was hard to get into because there was so much out there, and the basic books were always out of date from years’ worth of regional sourcebooks and the like.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 …

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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, …

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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

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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 …

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Is Nintendo in Trouble?

Nintendo has always been a well-known figure in the video game industry. The company is credited with bringing gaming back into a viable industry following the crash of the ’80s. It has always been on the forefront of innovation and technical excellence, and was practically synonymous with “video gaming.” My how times have changed.

 

 
 

Today, Nintendo is not the power it once was. Sony’s Playstation has captured most of the market and while Nintendo currently enjoys financial success brought on by Pokemon, many industry experts view Pokemon as a passing fad, doomed to go the way of Tamagotchi and others like it.

So is Nintendo in trouble? In the words of the venerable eight-ball, “all signs point to yes.” Here’s why.

(Please note, the majority of this editorial is based on rumor and conjecture, and therefore shouldn’t be taken as absolute truth, but merely opinion)

Rumor has it that back when Sega Dreamcast was announced, both Sony and Nintendo were working on their new systems which were far superior to Sega’s machine. The two companies had a relatively easy time at it, considering the amount of information that was available about the Dreamcast in the year prior to its announcement. The rumor goes on to state that Nintendo was ready to announce its new system, but Sony beat them to the punch.

Some time before the official Playstation 2 announcement, Ken Kutaragi went on record saying that Sony wanted to create an experience that was closer to film than games …

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The online game -Boxerjam

One of the largest areas of growth in online gaming deals with trying to attract the non-hardcore gamer. You’ve seen them and perhaps played them – come on admit it. Usually they are Java based games, possibly trivia or card games. Sure, you know what I’m talking about.

So today we take a look at Boxerjam. A free site supported by a few unobtrusive advertising banners. Participants do attempt to be friendly and occasionally conversations take place during the game. Newbies are quite welcome and receive encouragement and help from veterans, which is nice. JavaScript is necessary so ensure that is enabled before you attempt gaming at this site.

The site is free, as mentioned, and offers prizes based on a drawing. The prizes are, of course, a nice feature but it would make so much more sense if they were related to the scores within the game. Perhaps they should make it more of a contest; highest score wins a prize or whatever.

Boxerjam offers four games, Napoleon, Take Five, Out of Order and Strike a Match (my favourite). Although only four games are offered they are quite a variety. Napoleon is essentially a card in which you get points for coming up with a winning hand. The are hand types that you are required to get, think Yahtzee and you get the idea.

In Take Five you are presented with a series of 9 words and asked to make a sentence using 5 of the words. It’s not …

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Sequels: The Good, the Bad, and the Funny

Some sequels are better than others

  

This week deals extensively with sequels to games and their makers. The developers of perhaps the finest sequel ever have gone out of business; an �unexpected� sequel will be coming in time for Christmas from another; not really a sequel, but one of the best selling games last year finally gets an expansion pack; and a pleasant surprise from the makers of the finest (or at least funniest) adventure series ever. And speaking of sequels, next article will showcase the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA where sequel galore could be found.

 
 

Looking Glass Studios is closing up shop, and quitting the development game. The makers of the highly acclaimed, loved by reviewers, ignored by consumers �System Shock 2,� and the �Thief� series of games, have just run out of money. The remaining projects at Looking Glass, including �Thief II Gold� and �Thief 3,� have all been cancelled. Designer Rich Carlson commented on the affect this will have on the gaming business, �I don’t think the industry will ever be quite the same.” Looking Glass Studios will be sorely missed for their substance over style designs and innovation.

 
 

On a related note, something that should have gone under a while ago, but hasn�t, there will be a new �Tomb Raider� game by Christmas time. Supposedly, in the newest episode, the game play will be completely different. Not much is known about the game yet, but to be worth anything the whole game should be …

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Interview: Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns

Steve Hemmesch, the Lead Game Designer for Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, took a minute out of his busy schedule at TimeGate Studios to answer a few questions about the new Real Time Stragetgy game that everyone is talking about (Review coming soon!)

 

 
 

How was your typical day spent during the design of the game?

My name is Steve Hemmesch, and I was the Lead Game Designer for Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns. I was responsible for working with the Executive Producer (Alan Chaveleh), who was also the man who defined the game concept at the beginning. It was my job to take his concepts and story ideas and flesh them out, turning them into working gameplay. I was also responsible for creating most of the content of the game: units, spells, heroes, tutorials, and the campaign. My typical day differed depending on what stage we were at in development cycle. During the height of development, I would spend the morning responding to new bugs and content issues sent to me by other team members. Then I would continue work on the campaign map I was currently focused on, defining its look, adding triggers, and writing dialogue. Then I would round out the day with balance testing of recent unit and feature additions, making tweaks and corrections when necessary.

What did you try and accomplish with Kohan?

Our primary goal in Kohan was to blend the truly strategic gameplay found in most turn-based computer and strategy board games with the exciting, quicker paced gameplay …

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Microsoft forces Bungie towards X-Box: More to follow?

The PC Gaming industry may be slipping

 

 
 

Microsoft, the glutton of smaller companies, has taken over control of game developer Bungie in an unexpected move. Bungie, the makers of the Myth series, were not a serious contender in the market, and the purchase by Microsoft surprised many. However, Bungie is developing one of the most anticipated games in the foreseeable future, “Halo,” something Microsoft probably wants to get their hands on. On the plus side, with Microsoft’s enormous amount of resources, shouldn’t Bungie produce a superior product for PC gamers? They should, but Microsoft may not let them. With their eventual release of the gaming console X-Box, Microsoft has been recruiting developers everywhere to make games for it. Bungie will now direct their focus towards development of “Halo” for the X-Box, with a possible port for PCs afterwards. The head of Microsoft’s gaming division, Ed Fries, mentions that “Only a few very special games will work well on both PC and on X-Box.” Those PC gamers anticipating “Halo” may have to extend their wait from much longer to forever.

 
 

PC gaming is now walking a razor sharp tight-rope. At the end of the rope is the acceptance and embrace of the world’s developers, producers, and gamers, plus the support that will make the computer a viable platform for games. On either side of the rope is failure. The “Halo” episode is only one of the many examples that show the PC is slipping from its perch. As the PC progresses …

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