Apr 292014
 
Habitat


Habitat is a real-time, physics-driven orbital strategy game for PC, Mac, Linux and Xbox One where you build, fly, and fight with unique space stations you create out of space junk orbiting earth. Their Kickstarter is already successful, and it may be in part due to its unique gameplay.

A thousand years into our future, the Earth is on the brink of oblivion. To save Mankind, you must use the mind boggling amount of junk in orbit around the planet to create new habitats and vehicles – and yes, weapons – to support life or to destroy it. You have to explore and manage your resources, or your brave little band of humans snuffs it. With the addition of salvaged rockets and other propulsion devices, you can build self-mobile space stations, scout vehicles and screaming metal death traps to use against your enemies.

A fascinating side note to this story is that while they were working out the gameplay and the physics it would use, they learned about a phenomenon known as the Kessler Effect or Kessler Syndrome. In 1978, NASA scientist Donald Kessler published a paper on the frequency and consequences of artificial satellite collisions in Earth orbit. This describes the point at which our sky is so full of junk that mass chain reaction collisions can occur, and to a certain degree this is already happening.  That’s the core concept behind the 2013 film Gravity in which the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope, Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the Chinese Tiangong space station were all involved in a chain reaction debris cloud started by a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite.

Almost unsurprisingly, there is already a rock band called Kessler Effect. They’re from Letterkenny, Ireland.

While Gravity‘s portrayal of the Kessler Effect is heavily dramatized, occurring over hours instead of years, it’s already starting to happen. Minor collisions involving bits of other satellites are already starting to happen.

The game has both Sandbox and Campaign modes, and it supports cross-platform, multiplayer action. Versions will be available for the XBox One, Windows, iOS, and Linux. Backers who join the campaign now can get their XBox One copy reserved for only $35.

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Dec 082013
 
starpigs

Barbily Game Ltd has released a new game called “Galactic Space War”, and has already become the #1 New Space War Game on iOS & Android and web browser. Barbily Game has scored a big hit with this new app, and it has created quite a buzz on the gaming forums and blogs – and for good reason.  The game is significantly similar to the Relic Entertainment / Sierra Online game Homeworld, released in 1999. That game was the first fully 3D real time strategy game, and also the first of its kind to be used for a space strategy game.

It’s hard to find the app in the Android app store.  “Galactic Space War” gets you dozens of hits to scroll through.  Search for “Galactic Space War Strategy” instead and you’ll find it right away.   Once you have it, though, it looks and feels a lot like the very popular game Homeworld, and all versions of the game allow players to interact with one another regardless of the platform they’re using at the time.  The app is free, and Barbily is monetizing it by selling power-ups in game for actual currency.

“Galactic Space War” has dozens of missions to complete. Players from all of the world can compete against each other and collect credits to upgrade their space ships. This is one Mobile Gaming App that is loaded with advanced features, such as: engaging in tactical space battles, build a fleet of unique star ship cards, fully customize each ship’s weapons and combat abilities, unlock new weapons and missions, challenge the enemy in high stakes battles, and upgrade individual weapons to make them more potent.

Building ships is roughly the same as it was in Homeworld, and the battle visualization is hauntingly similar to Homeworld.  The user interface and play mechanics are substantially similar as well – and why not?  It’s a design pattern and a formula that works and has a huge fan base in the Homeworld community.  New players will be on some very familiar ground here.  Apart from the funny animals theming, the visuals are sumptuous and meet every expectation, and the game is detailed and responsive.

Tbe only odd thing we find about this game is the strange idea of making funny cartoon animals the various races in the galactic conflict, and they’re all Terran species.  The artwork is childish and cartoony.  We think they were going for a “Star Fox” vibe, but this simply doesn’t work for this kind of a game. We find that design decision ranging from “a bit peculiar” to “a desperate cry for help” depending on who you ask.  Not including “Star Pigs” in the actual name of the app as listed in the app store services for Android and iOS just makes it worse, because it anonymizes their product listings to the point where you’re lucky if you stumble across the game, and there is a lot of space strategy competition out there – which is a shame, because otherwise the game appears very deep and robust and very very playable.

You can download either the  iOS Galactic Space War APP or the Android Galactic Space War App.

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Oct 202013
 
Linden Lab's new draconian policies voiding content owners rights has users up in arms.

Linden Lab’s new draconian Terms of Service voiding content creators’ rights has users up in arms.  Linden Lab’s response?  “Trust us.”

In mid-August, and with little fanfare, Linden Lab rewrote the Terms of Service for Second Life, their popular online multiplayer 3D environment.  The new Terms of Service agreement, which users must assent to before being allowed to log onto the service, was rewritten to strip ownership rights away from content creators completely.  Under the new agreement, Linden Lab now claims the right to do literally anything it wants to with uploaded content, ““… for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula or medium now known or hereafter developed.”  And that includes, without limit or conpensation, the right to “sell, re-sell, sublicense, modify, display…” and “…make derivative works of.”

Second Life public relations officer Peter Gray sent a statement to both Living in a Modern World and New World Notes  saying  that people shouldn’t read the new terms as a content grab.  “Linden Lab respects the proprietary rights of Second Life’s content creators,” he said. ”We regret that our intention in revising our Terms of Service to streamline our business may have been misconstrued by some as an attempt to appropriate Second Life residents’ original content.”  Despite this refutation, the Terms of Service haven’t changed to reflect that clarification.  The phrase “streamline our business” is meant to sound like a good thing, but no explanation as to precisely what that means in customer terms was offered.

Discussions in the larger chat groups within the Second Life indicate a user base that is profoundly unhappy with this state of affairs.  There are three main camps:

  • Some believe that the ToS is unenforceable anyway, because the user base is from all over the world and many countries have laws which void some or all of the Linden Lab Terms of Service.
  • Some believe that if the ToS is, in fact, enforceable (and most do), the chances are as good as even that Linden Lab legal simply wrote something without bothering to consider what affect it would have on the content creators whose man-centuries of creative work define the content on Second Life.
  • Some believe that the ToS was written with intent, and that it simply signifies that Linden Lab doesn’t give two shakes what its own users think, and is trying to make the content legally accessible to whomever might buy Second Life if they do indeed spin it off.  This idea is supported in a small way by Linden Lab’s apparent concentration on Patterns,  a game which some perceive as a “me too” attempt to replicate the success of Minecraft Diverting essential resources from Second Life to the Patterns development team may have left Second Life under-maintained and under-managed, which in turn may be a sign that Linden Lab really isn’t interested in the long term health of its popular MMO beyond simply keeping it running well enough to eventually unload it and cash out.

As published on September 30, 2013, a survey conducted and published by ToyTalks.Weebly.com discovered that at that point in time, 54% of content creators were so concerned about the change in the ToS that they have completely suspended uploading content until the ToS changes.  Of these 11% responded simply that they were done with Second Life and Linden Lab’s capricious behavior and were simply shutting down their SL businesses completely. A staggering 79% that they believe there will be negative long-term impact on Second Life due to this change. Of those, 32% thought that Second Life might die as a result because it could “cut new content creation to dangerous levels.”

Third party content sites share their concerns.  Renderosity, a popular 3D content marketplace, has issued a statement saying that Renderosity products can not be used in Second Life for any reason.  Since Renderosity license terms are not transferable, and Linden Lab now effectively requires their content uploaders to transfer their rights to Linden Lab without compensation, the Renderosity license and the Second Life terms of service are now unworkably incompatible.

 

Similarly, CG Textures, a popular free textures site, also issued a statement in response to the new terms.  “As soon as you upload any content to Second Life you give Linden Lab unlimited and irrevocable rights to do whatever they want with your work,” the company said. “The previous Second Life TOS  was appropriate and reasonable: when you uploaded your work, you gave Linden Lab rights to use it in Second Life and not much more.  With their latest TOS update they go way beyond what is reasonable.”  As of September 6, users are no longer allowed to upload textures or meshes or other content created with CG Textures images to Second Life.  Existing materials may be left up, but the reason has more to do with practicality than anything else.  It’s impossible to remove them.  Once uploaded, the materials can be sold as digital goods and distributed widely within SL, making them impossible for content creators to track and retrieve.  Further, only the owners of the intellectual property can file DMCA takedown notices.  Content uploaders have no say in the matter if they were not the creator of a given asset, and cannot remove materials from the Second Life asset servers they upload themselves in any case.

The company said it contacted Linden Lab about the problem, but Linden Lab responded with the same “talk to the hand” approach they offer their own users. “We received only nameless, canned replies on how we could get a texture removed if we did not agree with it’s use,” CG Textures said. “Apparently they don’t care about this problem, so we don’t see how we can come to a solution.”

The web site GridSurvey.com bears witness to the slow yet relentless collapse of the Second Life platform.  From a high of almost 26,000 in June of 2010, private ownership of  regions within Second Life has dropped to just 19582, the lowest number since June of 2008.  Except for a brief, small uptick in November of 2011, privately held sims have been evaporating steadily since 2010, a date widely identified as the enactment of the widely unpopular Homestead versus “Void Sim” bait and switch pricing policy enacted by Linden Lab.

No one at Linden Lab could be reached for comment.

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Jun 042013
 

SAN MATEO, Calif. – June 4, 2013 – It’s Clobberin’ Time! Gazillion Entertainment today releasedMarvel Heroes, the highly anticipated free-to-play action-MMORPG set in the Marvel Universe. Created by David Brevik, the visionary behind Diablo and Diablo II, Marvel Heroes lets gamers suit up as their favorite Marvel Super Heroes, including Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man, as they battle through an extensive original story crafted by Marvel super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis. Marvel Heroes is now available* worldwide as a free digital download for PCs at www.marvelheroes.com.

They’re going toe to toe with DC Universe Online, the free-to-play MMO that launched in January of 2011, but instead of letting you design your own hero, you get a different sizzle: you get to play as one of the iconic characters from the Marvel universe.  The game has been in development by Gazillion Entertainment for a bit over three years – but there’s no Playstation3 version, no Wii version, no XBox360 version.  It’s expressly for the PC, and that puts them at something of a disadvantage to start out. There’s no information yet on whether there will be console versions of this online game.  There isn’t even a Mac version yet – that’s still in development.

Marvel-Heroes-1920x1200

Want this image as wallpaper for your computer desktop? You’re welcome. Right-click on the link and select “Save As”.

At launch, Marvel Heroes will feature 21 Super Heroes, each with unique and extensive leveling systems, power trees and equipment. Players can choose to wear costumes from over 70 years of Marvel history, including costumes from Marvel’s recent theatrical blockbusters Marvel’s The Avengers and Iron Man 3. At any time, players can swap between their favorite Marvel Super Heroes on the fly.  All the expected features will be there – vast, expansive story lines, great action, player versus player and more.  They’ll add more heroes and more content as they go.

To download and start playing Marvel Heroes today, visit www.marvelheroes.com or download the game on Steam.

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Links

An interesting side note: the press release for this came with the statement, “Super Heroes is a co-owned registered trademark.”  Legally you can’t say “Super Heroes” unless it refers to either a DC or Marvel product.  Believe it or not.  Whether this trademark would actually pass the giggle test in court remains to be seen, but it possibly wouldn’t – the term has been in popular use for decades, and it’s even in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Apr 032013
 
defiance

Today’s Video of the Day is Bear McCreary’s Theme from Defiance.  You’ve heard Bear McCreary’s music before, most recently on Krypton Radio from the soundtrack he wrote for the amazing web series Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome.  His music also graces the popular zombie apocalypse series, The Walking Dead as well as the ill-fated The Cape.

Defiance, though, isn’t a movie, or a television series, or just a video game – it’s an unusual hybrid of all three. They’re calling it a “transmedia experience”.

Defiance tells the tale of a future Earth, and it’s an MMO that released just yesterday from Trion Games, but it’s also a series on SyFy Channel and the game and the TV series interconnect (admittedly in a way that the publicity is a little floaty about defining, but the creative content is something they share in common).

All that said, the music alone is the stuff that makes it onto the Krypton Radio playlist, and if you watch the video, you’ll see why.

Enjoy.

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Links

Oct 302012
 
sci-fi-mmorpg-mmo-games-transformers-universe-screenshot-7-666x374

The Transformers Universe beta is now open and accepting applicants  to beta test British online computer game developer Jagex Games Studio‘s new MMORPG. Based on the Transformers series of toys, cartoons, and movies, it was originally announced in 2010 as an MMO for Middle East, East and Africa, and was going to be handled by a company called NetDragon.  That company is now obviously out of the picture, and the beta is going online as Transformers Online.  The game is set for release sometime in 2013, and the release venues have completely changed. It is now going to be released in North America, Latin America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

The game was first revealed at BotCon 2011 in Dallas, Texas – the game is purported to be heavily team play oriented, and players can develop their characters according to various classes and can choose either Autobot or Decepticon alliance.

Visit www.transformersuniverse.com  to register.

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