Buy and Download Homm3: Complete Ed. from GOG!

GOG (Good Old Games) Holiday discount campaign - 452 game-downloads for -50% until Jan 3rd

Monday, 31 December 2012

That's a nice deal! But only until January 3rd of 2013.

If you wanna grab some classic DRM free game-downloads from GOG I suggest you do it quick. Their holiday campaign includes massive selection of 452 games for -50% price tag. I really do like GOG although I usually don't prefer game-downloads over physical copy, but easiness to use their website, Windows XP/7-ready old Dos platformed games, and manuals that are included usually in Pdf format is nice touch.

Some of the best games you can get from them are best strategy and cRPG offerings from the 90's. I just acquired Disciples and Age Of Wonders games from them myself.. :-)

Lots of classics up for grabs for cheap for example:

Might And Magic 6-pack (MM 1-6) - $4.99
Heroes of Might And Magic 3 Complete Edition - $4.99
Ultima VII - $2.99
Freespace 2 - $4.99
Master of Orion 1+2 - $2.99
Planescape Torment - $4.99
Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura - $2.99
Icewind Dale Complete - $4.99
Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition - $2.99
Outcast - $2.99
Fallout 1 - $4.99
Fallout 2 - $4.99
...and over 400 more.

plus ending tomorrow: -75% "Santa in Space"-campaign for games like Star Control 1-3, Master of Orion 1-2.

Elite: Dangerous - make or break time for kickstarter campaign

Friday, 28 December 2012

One week left for David Braben and Frontier Developments to reach the necessary £1,250,000 goal in kickstarter campaign for Elite sequel "Dangerous": open-world space simulation with freedom to play in a vast galaxy as trader, rogue, or headhunter. "Get small amount of credits, crappy ship, and go make a fortune" .

The remaining week is pretty much "make or break" period, because succeeding in the goal gets agonisingly close, and it can still go either way. Elite: Dangerous will most likely make it though, since it has around £200,000 to make in seven days, but last few days have seen increasing pledging rate. It's also often seen in past campaigns that on campaigns which get close to succeed in the end, the last days have provided large percentage of money of the overall goal.

Braben & Co. should get approximately £28,000 a day on average speed. Braben has kept the campaign page coming with loads of updates within the last couple of days. He has explained a lot about game world economy, and how it works, as well as about trading system.

Here are the videos from newest updates for Elite: Dangerous, as well as Teaser video for those who don't know about the game:

(Dec 28, 2012 Update - About trading)

(Dec 26, 2012 Update - Gary Whitts interviews Braben (Elite: Dangerous) and Robers (Star Citizen))

(Teaser trailer)

Diablo III won't be seeing Team Deathmatch PvP mode - "the game designed for PvE"

According to Diablo III (Buy it) official website, development team has ditched the idea for any future Team Deathmatch combat mode.  That means players won't be seeing any team based player versus player combat in the game, only duels, which are promised to be added.

Game director Jay Wilson explained that the game was firstly designed for PvE (Player versus environment) in mind, rather than PvP (player versus player). Thus Diablo III is really not balanced for PvP style combat, especially due character class designs. Wilson also goes on explaining how they don't feel that Team Deathmatch would be any interesting event, but rather too superficial and repetitive.

Read Wilson's explanations for ditching Team Deathmatch mode below:

"[...] For us it comes to a few issues, one of which is depth. Simply fighting each other with no other objectives or choices to make gets old relatively quickly. We've brought a lot of people in to try out Team Deathmatch and, while some found it entertaining, most of our testers didn't feel like it was something they'd want to do beyond a few hours. Without more varied objectives, or very lucrative rewards, few saw our current iteration as something they'd want spend a lot of time in. 

Another is class balance. Like Diablo II, Diablo III was designed to be a PvE-first kind of game, where we never compromised on player abilities in the name of future PvP balance. We want to be able to carry over as many of the crazy runes, items, and skills as possible, with their crazy effects, and alter them as little as possible. In a casual PvP mode, something equivalent to a WoW Battleground, this would be fine, but Team Deathmatch felt very hardcore, and it put a laser focus on class balance in a way that we didn’t think would be good for the game as a whole."

It sounds bit like the development team is making poor excuses here, probably for failing to make PvP system totally working in the first place, and now they want to ditch the future development of it. Perhaps the game was made PvE in mind in the first place, which is where they probably went wrong since the beginning, and now they feel it's too massive job to balance the system so that both PvP and PvE combat would be rock solid. Way to go Blizzard!

Duel mode is scheduled to be released in Patch 1.0.7, and new replacement for Team Deathmatch will be in the planning stage, to be released as a free addon in future. Ditching Team Deathmatch has raised controversy among Diablo III fan base.

Best selling games of Christmas 2012 - Call Of Duty: Black Ops II best-seller in UK

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

According to GfK aka, Call of Duty: Black Ops II is hands down-winner for best selling game of all popular gaming platforms in Christmas sales (the week prior to 24th of December). GfK has their own software that keeps track on various retail/web-stores within UK, Ireland, and Denmark. See Top 30-list at the end of the post.

The sales of Black Ops II is not a huge surprise, since this tactical multi-platform (PC, Xbox360, PS3) first-person shooter, which aims for some multiplayer fun, but also features single-player side, is a sequel for Call Of Duty franchise, which has been a constant big hit for something like a decade now. Activision sure knew to aim their release near Christmas holidays too.

Somehow it still bugs me a bit what's behind the big sales numbers of Call Of Duty games from year to another, since they haven't really invented anything much groundbreaking between sequels and predecessors in ages. The changes usually have just included slight modifications of general game, with new guns, and new maps, with full price. But what the hell, someone once said "why fix it if it isn't broken?". Fast and pacey multiplayer shooters seem to be very popular these days, and I admit, I've enjoyed some Call Of Duty games too in the past, such as CoD 3 and Modern Warfare I & II. The franchise's game-play has been very fluid and solid.

Other than that, looking at the first ten best selling games, the list doesn't really feature much surprises (and I apologize for not sounding more enthusiastic). Everything's quite "same old". Big trademarks, sequels, multi-platformers, and games you can play with your friends. Actually this list makes me yawn a bit, since best sellers lacks originality. I don't mean that each of them should be bad games, but pretty much something that we've already seen, based on their predecessors.

Just look at for example Far Cry 3 that just screams everything that's typical for modern day first-person shooter: open sandbox style world with slight adventure element, but being purely first person shooter at it's core, with a loose story - second best seller (after mmo shooter of course).

(Far Cry 3 presents familiar feel with it's open sandbox style first-person shooter in beautiful island setting)

Or Hitman: Absolution, offering pretty much the regular shooter, but with more edge on the sneaking and planning rather than all-guns-blazing approach. A game where Square Enix / IO Interactive tried to put some basis on the storyline, but it's still lacking quite a bit. I'm quite certain that big part of the game's development budget went into the cut-scenes of the story, which features huge length over eighty minutes of movie-like cut-scenes and voice-acting. Still this doesn't reach the awesomeness of Thief: The Dark Project's unique atmosphere or sneaking - yet having quite a bit to offer for fans of this type of games, nevertheless. Third best seller of the list.

(Sneaking and and shooting in same package with s*it loads of cut-scenes - that's Hitman Absolution)

More sequels. Long awaited Assassin's Creed III can be found on seventh position in best-seller list, being somewhat mixture of open world adventure and action with slight sneak elements added in. The visuals are more stunning than before, but otherwise offering the same old secure experience of it's predecessors with a new story.

(Fresh story with familiar roots - Assassin's Creed III)

The top ten sellers include also some sports like football-game Fifa 13 of the long running series, and WWE '13 for some wrestling, Just Dance 4 for some social partying, Xbox360 exclusive Halo 4 for a sci-fi counterpart for Call Of Duty / Battlefield series, Need For Speed Most Wanted for your semi-open world arcade racing, and Lego Lord Of The Rings, which may be a nice holiday present for children.

However, what surprises me the most is that Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim still reached position eleven after over a year since the release. Although several old-school-cRPG fanatics often bash the franchise, especially latter releases, in my opinion Elder Scrolls games still have quite lengthy life span. And of course, ranking of Football Manager 2013 (13.) is also slight surprise.

(Gamers are still keen to hunt those dragons after a year of release - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)

Another thing that's worth to be mentioned is that Forza Motorsport 4, on position sixteen, still sold more than franchises newcomer Forza Horizon, on position twenty one, which is considered the "arcade-counterpart" for original Forza.

And perhaps Arkane Studio's first game for a long time called Dishonored should had deserved bit better ranking. Lack for XCOM: Enemy Unknown in Top 30 best sellers is also saddening, since Firaxis Games really made pretty good job with it, honoring X-Com franchise's original roots. Sure it has got some things dumbed down, such as no multiple bases around the globe, but it also does many things right.

Top 30 Best Selling Games in UK, Denmark and Ireland in the week prior to Christmas  (according to GfK charts):

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
2. Far Cry 3
3. Hitman Absolution
4. Fifa 13
5. Just Dance 4
6. Need For Speed Most Wanted
7. Assassin's Creed III
8. Halo 4
9. Lego The Lord Of The Rings
10. WWE '13
11. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
12. Skylander Giants
13. Football Manager 2013
14. Medal Of Honor : Warfighter
15. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed
16. Forza Motorsport 4
17. Moshi Monsters: Moshlings Theme Park
18. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
19. New Super Mario Bros. 2
20. Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
21. Forza Horizon
22. Dishonored
23. Mario Kart 7
24. Mario & Sonic London 2012 Olympic Games
25. Angry Birds Trilogy
26. Dead Island Goty Edition
27. Book Of Spells
28. Borderlands 2
29. F1 2012
30. Resident Evil 6

New Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) screenshots for X-Mas holidays (PS3, Xbox360; Spring 2013)

As most of you console-game freaks know, Grand Theft Auto V will be out within couple of months in Spring 2013 officially announced by Rockstar Games. This will be candy for all those open-world action-adventure-game fanatics out there, who also enjoy pretty visuals.

The release date is yet not officially released, but speculation says it might be around March 2013. We'll see about that. The game will be released for both consoles Playstation3 and Xbox360, and you can already pre-order it from for example. Get ready for nagging girl-friends and get your popcorn ready... you know you're gonna need it at least when the cut-scenes hit in!

What we know about this game is, that it is developed by Rockstar North (UK), and released by their mother-company Rockstar Games. The game takes place in fictional city of Los Santos in state of San Andreas, influenced heavily by real-world Los Angeles and Southern California.

The game will feature three different main characters, of which you can freely select who to play as. Rockstar North claims GTA V to be the biggest sized open-world game yet -- although unlikely -- since perhaps they are forgetting the history. There has been absolutely huge games in the past calculating by just a land mass size, but then again they contained a lot of empty space and random-content. However, that's another story... but the game should certainly be quite massive as it's promised to exceed the size of quite big GTA IV.

Below are five new screenshots, that Rockstar Games have released for us for Christmas holday seasons to look at. The game's visuals seem quite impressing, perfected quite a bit since GTA IV, although one can definitely see slight lack of detail (in modern day), since it gets tough to crank more out from old Xbox360 and PS3 hardware than what has been achieved previously. Mostly effects, shaders, and special filters get more advanced every year presenting better look for games, but they cannot add too much more detail, because the old hardware cannot take it.

Nevertheless, how these screenshots look like, pleases me enough. I'm sure GTA V will be entertaining action-packed no-brainer ride once again. The new shots presents us sharks, mini-submarines, fighter class aeroplanes, and a dog as companion. One things certain... you'd better off from deep waters without a damn harpoon on your hands.. Enjoy!

("I'll hit the brakes, he'll fly right by.")

("'Ey Rex, you're the only thing man can trust in this crazy town")

("So, you got the money"?)

("I'll hit the brakes, he'll swim right by.")

(a Yellow Sub-marine)

Peter Molyneux and 22Cans succeed with kickstarter campaign of Godus - Spiritual successor for Populous

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Yesterday, 21th of December 2012, kickstarter campaign for upcoming "god game" Godus was successfully funded in The team behind the game concept is "22Cans". A game development company found just recently in March 2012, which was formed by god-game-veteran Peter Molyneux (read more about him in our other article) among some other people, who loosely said, have been working with titles such as Syndicate, Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper and so on... 22Cans have personnel tied to previous companies like Bullfrog, Lionhead, Eletronic Arts, and many more. The team seems quite competent to create another "god game".

Godus campaign succeeded by raising £526,563out of £450,000 goal, and will soon be in the making.

So Godus will be a god game, but what does god game mean?
A god game is a type of game where player is set to control people or creatures sort of indirectly, with supernatural powers, such as modifying environments and landscapes, to allow his worshippers to live in better conditions and expand their cities. However player, a god, cannot directly give orders to his followers. He can influence their doings indirectly only. Player's own character is undefined, faceless form of life, a god. Examples of god games include classic titles of Populous, and Black And White, for example.

Peter Molyneux is one of the inventors behind god-game-genre with his Populous released in 1989 , of which spiritual successor Godus now aims to be. The game will feature Populous-like game play of leading your own tribe of worshippers to the victory in half of living sandbox game, and half of strategy game with indirect influence to your followers. 22Cans promise Dungeon Keeper-like battles against other gods and their tribes, combined with Black & White influenced changing world around you.

Godus will take roughly from seven to nine months to complete, which should mean that it's set to be out late autumn-winter of 2013 for PC, Mac (including Linux version), and Mobile devices.

Few questions with Guido Henkel (mini-interview) in 15-04-2012

This series of questions for Guido was originally intended to supplement an article about "Famous people in gaming industry", which included some information about mr. Henkel. You can read that article here. It also features Jon Van Caneghem (Might & Magic) and Peter Molyneux (Populous).

In addition I tried to ask Henkel more about his upcoming game Thorvalla with more planned out interview, once I knew it was in the making, but unfortunately kickstarter campaign didn't succeed, and thus the questions were left unanswered, too.

For those not familiar with Guido Henkel, he is German video game designer, programmer, and developer, as well as composer, musician, and writer. Henkel currently lives in America. He has worked with PC game titles such as Realms of Arkania trilogy, Fallout 2, Planescape Torment, and his own book series called Jason Dark franchise.

I'm going to publish these questions here now as such. I don't consider this as full interview or anything, as it isn't really planned series of questions, but rather, few separate questions I was interested to get answer myself.

The questions were asked in early 2012 based on information I found available of Henkel. More accurately I sent these in 15-04-2012. Whether you want to call this "mini-interview" or random questions for Guido Henkel, here we go:

Tane Norther: I recently read an article in your new blog where you said
that you are musician (which I knew), but also that you played
guitar (which I didn't) - the article also stated that you had
played in heavy metal bands in the 80's. Is this correct, and if
so, can you name any of the bands you played in? Did they ever
release any material, demo, EP? What type of heavy metal did you
play (thrash, heavy, speed, and so on)?

Guido Henkel: Ah yeah, those days. It is correct that I played in a handful
of metal bands during the 80s, but they were really just local
bands, nothing that ever broke out. We recorded a bunch of demo
tapes and had a song on one compilation album, but I don’t even
recall the name of the album. All I remember is that the song
was called “Duel of Wizards,” I believe. It’s all been so long
ago. It is funny, though, how hard it was to get stuff properly
recorded back then. It was an enormously costly process. Today,
anyone can really do it with a computer and $1000 worth of
equipment and software. Same goes for photos. I wish it would
have been easier then because a few pictures and a handful of
songs from one demo tape are all I have left of those days.

We gigged mostly, playing a lot of local venues and during the
time we had the chance to open for bands like Lee Aaron, Uriah
Heep, Talon, Tyran Pace, Grave Digger, Storm Witch and many,
many more.
It was a really fun time and although we were ambitious at the
time, it never really led to anything.

The music we played was very early Iron Maiden inspired at
first, a bit punky and fast with a lot of harmony guitar work.
Later on the bands I played in became more of the LA-style
hair metal bands, mostly riff-oriented with lots of groove. I
used to be a humongous George Lynch fan at the time and somehow
everything I played sounded like a Dokken song, hahaha!

TN: I know you're a writer, but did you write any of the Realms
of Arkania titles storyline or dialogue? I'm asking because I
could not find this in those games credits. If you did, how much
of it?

GH: These games were a large contributive effort and the team was so
varied that many people took on multiple roles. Pretty much all
of our programmers, for example, also designed parts of the game

and wrote tons of dialogue associated with those parts. The same
was true for me.

In the end, we needed to sort of press people into templates to
credit them, regardless of their actual functions or else we
would have wound up repeating everyone’s name about ten times in
the credits. That just seemed superficial to us and we talked to
the team members and decided how they were credited, based on
the field where they did the majority of their work in. You have
to remember that credits were not treated as delicately back
then as they are today, where they are even part of contract
negotiations. As long as your name was in a game you were happy.

TN:  I'm under impression that you composed most of the Realms of
Arkania franchises musical score, how much out of it did you
compose by yourself?

GH: The music for Blade of Destiny was actually composed by Rudi
Stember. Back then I simply had no time to do the music myself
because I was so heavily involved in the programming and design
of the game. After all, back then, Hans-Jürgen Brändle and I
were the only programmers on the project and we only added more
people to the team after the project was well underway.

When we made Star Trail I decided I’d like to give it a shot
and I wrote a few pieces, but it soon turned out that it was a
time-consuming process and that it detracted me from my other
responsibilities, especially because there was a steep learning
curve involved. I had never done these kinds of arrangement and
orchestration before, so I had to learn about the technique and
the technology. Therefore, Horst Weidle, another programmer on
the RoA team offered to contribute some music as well. In the
end it was a 50/50 split. He wrote one half of the music, I
wrote the other half.

I always felt there was a clash of style, though, and a lack of
consistency, so when we made Shadows over Riva, the decision was
made that I would write the entire score. By that time I had
more experience and was ready to go another step further, adding
live instruments to the mix, etc. I was also able to write the
entire score on the side while developing the game, so it took
not nearly as much time as Star Trail, though it still was a
very involving process that had me pull out my hair at times.
I still love the score for Riva, and listen to it occasionally.
Somehow I was able to capture much of the atmosphere I was
looking for, which is not an easy thing to do.

TN: What exactly was your role in Fallout 2?

GH: During the first months of development on Planescape: Torment,
Fallout 2 was in crunch mode. The team was just down the hall
from us, had a set deadline and they required additional
manpower to get done in time. A bunch of guys from the
Planescape team, myself included, jumped in to help with various
tasks. So, for a couple of weeks I was actually doing a lot of
story and NPC scripting on Fallout 2. Once that game was out the
door, we finally had time to go back and focus on Planescape:
Torment again. It was a fun little stint and I loved the game a

TN: You said that you're focusing now into music instead of
games (Note: this was prior to Thorvalla announcement), but how about composing, are you going to compose any
material for any official releases, or are you open for a
contract in case someone offers you a deal for example to
compose soundtrack for computer game?

GH: I think what you are referring to is that some time ago I
decided to go back and start making some music again—and I
posted that on my Facebook, I believe.

I had not touched anything music related in over 10 years, and
I really felt the urge to write some music. So I got back into
regularly practicing the guitar and piano, and I began upgrading
my equipment, which by that time had been horribly outdated.
That was more for my own enjoyment, however, and not something
I considered for professional purposes. I did a few bits and
pieces here and there, but nothing big, really.

TN:  Feel free to share anything about your current state of
career, what are you working with right now (15-04-2012).

GH: During the past three years or so I’ve been writing a lot. I
created and wrote a series of dime novels called the Jason
Dark: Ghost Hunter series. It is a pulpy series of supernatural
mysteries taking place in Victorian England—kind of like
Sherlock Holmes meets Van Helsing. I created elven stories in
the series until I felt that I really wanted to make another
game. So, I sat down and began working on the design of a new
computer RPG, called Thorvalla (Note: which kickstarter campaign unfortunately didn't reach the goal). It is in its early stages still

and I’ve been pulling in some people I worked with on previous
games. We will start a Kickstarter campaign for the game shortly
to raise the funds necessary to actually develop and produce
the game, so the past weeks have seen me very busy with the
preparation for this campaign. I hope it goes well and I hope
everyone who reads this will check out the project, because I’m
really itching to make this game.

-- Thanks for the answers mr.Henkel! I hope that maybe we get to make more planned out interview sometime in the future, in case you return to the gaming business one more time.. all the best.

Thorvalla Kickstarter cancelled, burial of the land of dragons

Monday, 3 December 2012

Guido Henkel's, his team's G3studios', and Neal Hallford's campaign for traditional computer-role-playing-game "Thorvalla" has been cancelled in 3rd of December 2012. Sad day for fans of Guido and Neal, and for those hoping to see the two teaming up for a new game. Though the campaign had it's share problems from the start despite interesting game concept (that would unveil perhaps bit too late):

Pledging for Thorvalla started really slow. Even though one thing probably is, that there weren't enough support for game like this one, the lads behind game perhaps should had planned press-relations bit more effectively. There was nothing wrong with the scene and setting of the game, but it just didn't get (in my opinion) enough recognition by magazines and e-zines. I'm talking by my own personal observations about this matter, since when I was checking out news from Fargo's Wasteland 2 and Obsidian's Project Eternity, the news items were to be found on several major gaming websites, and from Google search as well.

Thorvalla, however, seemed to fade into obscurity a bit on that part, mostly being featured in RPGcodex and some smaller scale blogs like this one. The lads also had a bit slow start with the campaign as there wasn't perhaps enough information about the game on the day one of the campaign, which has been proven to be the most important day of kickstarter campaign, by far. Usually huge slice of the pledges are made in day one.

However, the future kickstarter updates about game revealed perhaps enough information about the game that could had turned several day-1 "no-pledgers" into "potential pledgers", if they had known this information when making decision in the first place. The word about the updates revealing new information about the game didn't seem to spread well enough.

Another speculation, is of course, that there had been already several cRPGs crowd-funded successfully in year 2012, and therefore people were unwilling to spend any more money in this year to more games of the genre. Some people had already emptied their wallets.

One more big thing hampering Thorvalla's kickstarter campaign was, that it's setting, although would produce most likely interesting game, didn't appeal to big mass. More accurately problem relied in game mechanics, considering the game's target audience. Thorvalla in my eyes was aimed for older computer-role-playing-games loving audience rather than for modern cRPG fanatics. We've seen few games like that recently, "the old school cRPGs", to raise enough money needed for development of that kind of a game (as much as there has also been failures in terms of funding). However, old school cRPG fans are very pedantic about the fact that the game should rely on the table-top-rpg-like presentation on it's game mechanics, character building, and combat etc. If the game mechanics feature some "oddities" not regularly used in the regular old school cRPG which emulates table-top-rpg, then it will be far less appealing for gamers like that.

Guido wanted Thorvalla to appeal into that more old-school type audience, yet to use combat mechanics that were unusual for the games like this. Instead of dice rolls and usual cRPG combat, Guido had a vision about combat being handled with sort of "action-cards" representing different attacks and moves. Something that to me sounded like mixture of Magic The Gathering card-game series and original Realms Of Arkania cRPG series. You can read his more accurate description of this in Thorvalla kickstarter website. Needless to say this didn't appeal to many pedantic old-school cRPG fans at all, and therefore Guido and the Team lost some potential pledgers there, where he also didn't gain much audience among those cRPG fans who like newer games like Mass Effect for example.

Guido had his own vision to create something different yet traditional for the genre, which sort of a cut out some potential buyers from the both ends: hard-core old-school cRPG audience and modern cRPG audience, and in the end audience the game was aimed for was perhaps, too thin. This of course is bit sad, since nobody can say that game mechanics and setting for Thorvalla couldn't had worked. Hell, it could had been fresh breath to the cRPG field, but we will never know now.

I would personally like to see Guido and Neal try out a re-launch Thorvalla with improved campaign, either that or try something else. I wonder how much another sequel for Realms Of Arkania, or even Might & Magic, could raise? Another question is though, who owns their rights at the moment, and how much they cost to acquire. Then again, spiritual successor is always possible, too.