Atmosphir is a software-based game building tool for PC and Mac users that lets users put together their own gaming levels. Like many consumer-facing game creators you're only limited by the tools that have been given to you. In this case the tools provided are split up into packages of "blocks" that are both interchangeable and feature simple gameplay devices like moving platforms, and various themed texture elements that let you build worlds with grass, dirt, and sand.
Although few outside the video game community noticed, September 9 was the nine-year anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast's launch. I can still remember holding the Official Dreamcast Magazine in my hands with a huge picture of Sonic on the front just waiting for the console to be released. And once it was released, I couldn't have been happier.
But unfortunately, I was (and I'm probably still) in the minority. Back then, Sega was off its game. It was trying to recover from the Saturn debacle and the countless other false starts it had succumb to over the years with products like the Sega CD and arguably, the GameGear.
The Dreamcast seemed different to me, though. Unlike previous Sega consoles, which only copied competing products and failed to truly grasp what gamers wanted, the Great White Beauty sitting under my TV was different. For once, Sega was ahead of its time; the Dreamcast had the best graphics of any console in the space at that point, offered compelling games that people actually wanted to play, and even included support for online gaming.
Of course, it lacked some of the necessities that could have made it more relevant in succeeding years: it didn't offer a DVD player like the Playstation 2 and although it had connectivity options, Ethernet support wasn't built into the console, which put it at a significant disadvantage once Sony, and especially Microsoft, entered that generation's console war.
Worse, the Dreamcast was plagued by poor third-party support and even major titles like Shenmue were met with lackluster excitement. Everyone wanted to play the Playstation 2--it offered better graphics capability, a DVD player, and better third-party support. All the while, the Dreamcast sat on store shelves.
And in the end, the Dreamcast finally died before its time and Sega was forced to retreat from the console space and try its luck in software. It was a sad time for Dreamcast Fanboys, but they got through it. How you ask? By keeping it connected to their HDTVs at all times and telling themselves that no matter what sales figures say, the Dreamcast really did win the last console war.… Read more
Hewlett-Packard said Tuesday that the Voodoo Envy 133 laptop introduced in June, is now finally shipping to customers.
It's HP's version of the Lenovo X300 or the MacBook Air: incredibly thin and pretty to look at. It was introduced as part of an elaborate product rollout at a high-profile event in Germany.
The Envy is a good example of the kind of design chops and credibility Voodoo brings to HP. When HP bought Voodoo a few years back, the enthusiast PC maker became HP's gaming PC unit, which made sense, especially after Dell bought Alienware.
But soon … Read more
Electronic Arts is delaying the release of its Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince video game until next summer so that it will coincide with the release of the film, which has also been postponed.
Shares of the game maker dropped by about 1 percent to $45.94 in after-hours trading on Monday.
Last month, Warner Bros. said that the release date for the sixth film in the series would be put off from November to summer 2009 because of after-effects of the writer's strike. (It said that production of the next two films in the series would not … Read more
Just released in the U.S. on Sunday, September 7, Spore is Electronic Arts' big holiday push for the still-alive PC gaming market. The game is from Will Wright, creator of the best-selling Sims and Sim City franchises, and developed by the same company, Maxis, so expectations are naturally high.
But despite the buzz, which includes full-page stories in the New York Times and numerous TV news segments, does Spore have a chance at mainstream video game success at the level of GTA4 or Guitar Hero (or The Sims)?
After spending the last week playing an early copy of the full game (where we created the Danosaurus, which lives on the planet Danlandia), we're ready to say that Spore is a monumental achievement in game design, and a genuinely engaging experience, but at the same time, it may lack that mainstream accessibility needed to resonate with non-core gamers. … Read more
Mobile gamers, take note: Asus today released the G50V, a 15-inch gaming laptop that appears to be a high-powered, low-priced affair.
The majority of gaming laptops use a 17-inch chassis and weigh 8 pounds or more. The Asus G50V packs many of the same features inside a 15-inch chassis that weighs a relatively svelte 6.2 pounds. Inside, the laptop supplies a high-end 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 processor, 4GB of fast 800MHz DDR2 memory, and an Nvidia GeForce 9700M GT graphics card with 512MB of DDR3 memory. Two hard drives are on board for a combined 500GB … Read more
James Goddard, CEO and founder of CrunchTime Games and professor of game development at the University of Advancing Technology, recently published the documents that got Shred Nebula the green light from Microsoft for the Xbox platform.Read more
In the past I've lobbied for the Wii to become the violent video game platform of choice, and in the process heard comments suggesting that video game violence was a problem for kids.
I'm here to admit that it's probably true that violent video games are bad for kids. There are lots of studies that suggest that to be true. However, there are plenty of other influences that are likely worse. One psychiatrist I spoke with said that lack of parenting is a much stronger influence than video games and violent movies combined.
Doesn't it rest … Read more
Electronic Arts' much anticipated evolution game, Spore hits store shelves Sunday in North America, and for those that have been on the project since the beginning, it has been a long road from concept to completion.
The game's creator, Will Wright, who is famous for previous games like SimCity and The Sims said recently that the game has been seven years in the making, meaning the project was getting under way not long after The Sims launched and became the best-selling PC game of all time.
Wright has talked at length about how Spore's origins lie in the SETI project and other flights of his fancy.
"The original concept was sort of a toy galaxy you could fly around and explore," Wright told me last month. "As we thought about, it became apparent that evolution was a very important component. Some of the very first prototypes involved how you would move around and visualize the galaxy."
In the highly anticipated lead-up to the Spore's release from EA studio Maxis, in Emeryville, Calif., almost all the attention has been on the game itself or on its Creature Creator, which gives users an easy and sophisticated way to create complex beasts and which was made available in June as a free download.
But for many people, an equally exciting element has been the series of prototypes available for free download on the Spore Web site, each of which provides a look at the origins of a small piece of the larger game.
In fact, the prototypes were a crucial part of making Spore a reality. For example, since the procedural animation of the creatures in the game is one of its most-heralded elements, it's notable that before the system was ever built into the game, it started as a prototype.
"The earliest prototypes were making strange topology creatures and seeing if we could teach the computer to make them move plausibly, and later, show emotion and behavior," Wright said. "We had to find out whether the project was doable or not, or if some part of it wasn't doable, where we have to scale it back."
The first programmer on the Spore team was a Maxis veteran named Jason Shankel. Prior to joining Wright on his evolution project, he'd been working on a project known as SimMars, which was essentially a Mars terraforming game that was supported financially by NASA before the plug was finally pulled. … Read more