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Assassin’s Creed 3 designer: “A lot of games have been ruined by easy modes”

September 5th, 2012

Assassin’s Creed 3 designer: “A lot of games have been ruined by easy modes”

Assassin’s Creed 3 Lead Designer Alex Hutchinson recently spoke with Edge about the inclusion of difficulty levels in games and the apparent harm they cause in providing players ample challenge, claiming, “A lot of games have been ruined by easy modes.”

“If you have a cover shooter and you switch it to easy and you don’t have to use cover, you kind of broke your game,” he said. “It’s like if I picked up a book and it said, ‘Do you want the easy version or the complicated version?’ [Game designers] can simplify the language, you know; we can make it two syllables.”

Lead Gameplay Designer Steven Masters also explained that his team conducts heavy playtesting when determining the success and failure rates of players during combat, escaping, and high- and low-profile assassinations. “We’re not trying to make a brutally difficult game, so we go through all the playtest data and make sure it works,” Masters said.

The challenge Assassin’s Creed 3 brings, like its predecessors, is optional objectives filled during assassinations. “We can put a lot of constraints in like ‘don’t take any damage’ or ‘assassinate the target without being detected,’” Masters said.

Hutchinson’s blunt comments seem to emphasize the player’s power to add additional (and optional) challenge as they see fit. As a helpless completionist, I know only the most perfectly executed kills will satisfy me, even if they involve stabbing 20 marksmen with their own muskets or clotheslining Boston’s mayor for those optional objectives.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Hearthfire screenshots show grand designs

September 5th, 2012

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Hearthfire screenshots show grand designs

There’s no place like home, especially when said home contains the corpse of a giant spider you’ve slain, stuffed and mounted over the fireplace. Hearthfire is out today on consoles and Bethesda have taken some pictures and put them on the internet to celebrate. Some of them show the great wooden skeleton of a grand hall in progress, but just how customisable will the house layouts be? Ponder that while enjoying a still image of a Snowberry Crostata, which comes with a tasty 4% resist fire buff, just how ‘ma used to make ‘em.

Hearthfire will also let us adopt children to live in the houses we create and a bunch of new crafting plans will give us the license to fill our homes with adventurer tat. Find out more in the Skyrim Hearthfire trailer. There’s no release date for Hearthfire on PC yet, but it’ll probably pop up in a month’s time, once the Xbox exclusivity period has expired. Grrr. It’ll cost 400 MS points, which is about £3.50. Read more…

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 system requirements and enhanced PC features detailed

September 5th, 2012

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 system requirements and enhanced PC features detailed

Treyarch have upgraded the DirectX 9 Black Ops engine to a “leaner” DirectX 11 edition that promises “significant improvements” for us PC players. The updated engine should make more efficient use of GPU power, and will have “more quality vs. performance options than ever before.” The upgrade means that it won’t run on Windows XP, however.

“Performance has been a top priority for Black Ops II PC from day one” say Treyarch in a post on the Black Ops 2 site, spotted by Eurogamer. “Black Ops II PC features enhanced lighting, shadows, antialiasing, bloom, depth of field, ambient occlusion, and other enhanced effects that are still in the works. And the game can run at higher resolutions and higher framerates on the PC.”

There’s no frame rate limit either, so we’ll be able to cram even more Call of Duty into our eyeballs every second than ever before. Treyarch also released some minimum system requirements so you can plan an upgrade if you need one:

Black Ops 2 PC system requirements

  • OS: Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7
  • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E8200 2.66 GHz or AMD Phenom X3 8750 2.4 GHz
  • Memory: 2GB for 32-bit OS or 4GB for 64-bit OS
  • Gnomes: Four hardened micro-gnomes with front line combat experience
  • Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 8800GT 512 MB or ATI Radeon HD 3870 512 MB

The extra polish should help to sell Black Ops 2′s future setting a little better on PC but with Warface, Battlefield 3 and Planetside 2 kicking around, it’ll be going up against some big engines this winter. If only there was a way to put them all in some sort of thunderdome and make them fight for our love.

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ArenaNet repairs Guild Wars 2 Trading Post, tussles with ongoing grouping problems

September 5th, 2012

ArenaNet repairs Guild Wars 2 Trading Post, tussles with ongoing grouping problems

Guild Wars 2 offers very soothing background colors while crafting leather boots, but trying to turn a profit on those boots hasn’t been quite as pleasant. Accessing the Trading Post has frequently met with a jarring shuttered window, deflating the dreams of aspiring cobblers. Lucky for us, ArenaNet has trumpeted to the rescue with a Trading Post functionality fix included in its status update digest yesterday. Heroes of the Tarnished Coast server, prepare to browse 20 pages of my boots and love every second of it. (Read: I need money.)

ArenaNet’s next task is swatting down troublesome grouping woes. The over-stuffing of players in popular zones sends excess players into separate, overflow queues – essentially, a waiting-room replica of the zone with quests, NPCs, and everything else in place for unfettered gameplay. As a result, linking with friends between overflow, regular, and instanced areas turns into a chore.

“We’ve made progress but still have capacity constraints causing issues with party and guild functionality, including symptoms such as party members not appearing on the map, parties not staying together as they travel between maps or into dungeons, and guild manipulation not working,” ArenaNet said. “We’re working on a fix and will provide a further update soon.”

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Blizzard: Battle.net being blocked in Iran is due to US sanctions, not government censorship

September 4th, 2012

Blizzard: Battle.net being blocked in Iran is due to US sanctions, not government censorship

It was recently reported that Battle.net users with Iranian IP addresses were being locked out of Blizzard’s Battle.net service, and thus, all of their flagship games: Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, and World of Warcraft. It was speculated that this was due to content the Iranian government found inappropriate, but as it turns out, the line was cut from the outside. As a Blizzard employee has revealed on their official forums, the outage is the result of sanctions imposed by the United States government.

“Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens,” the post reads. “What we can tell you is that United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran. Several of you have seen and cited the text in the Terms of Use which relates to these government-imposed sanctions. This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services.”

VG24/7 reports that Battle.net isn’t legally available in Iran anyway, but that virtual networks have until now allowed citizens to access these games. Presumably these new procedures Blizzard has implemented have cut off this Terms of Service-breaking means of access. Strangely, the VG24/7 article also reports that Blizzard would “happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows.” This seems to suggest that Blizzard does not take issue with Iranian gamers accessing their servers through virtual networks to bypass government restrictions.

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Skyrim: Hearthfire announced: buy land, build a house, adopt children

September 4th, 2012

Skyrim: Hearthfire announced: buy land, build a house, adopt children

Skyrim’s next slice of DLC will be Hearthfire, an add-on that will let you buy a plot of land, build a house, design its interiors and then adopt children to turn that house into an home. It’ll be out on September 4 on Xbox, so probably about a month after that on PC. It’ll cost 400 MS points on the consoles, which equates to about £3.43 / 4.80 Euro / $5.

It looks as though there will be a bit of crafting involved in building your new abode, but once the roof’s on you’ll be able to start converting it into a monument to your mighty exploits. You’ll get to show off the creatures you’ve slain by stuffing them or nailing them to your walls. Once you’ve created the most terrifying taxidermy diorama possible, you can adopt children and raise them among the corpses of your enemies. That’s parenting, Dragonborn-style.

Here’s the announcement trailer. I’m already mentally picking a spot for my plot. Hmmm, a bit of land among the silver birch forests near Riften would do rather nicely. What do you think?

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Assassin’s Creed 3 trailer shows new crunchy, choppy combat moves

September 4th, 2012

Assassin’s Creed 3 trailer shows new crunchy, choppy combat moves

Assassin’s Creed 3 isn’t all about the new setting and locations, it also contains many new ways to hit people. Hatchets, bayonets and rope darts are a few of the more brutal tools at Connor’s disposal. Capturing those kill moves takes a lot of time, effort, and serious stuntmen men in ball suits. The latest Assassin’s Creed 3 gives us a look at the processes that go into realising all that on-screen violence, and contains a few tips for British troops from historians.

‘Don’t walk down open roads in bright red suits’ being the soundest pearl of wisdom of the lot. Watch Connor break people in ways you couldn’t imagine in the trailer below.

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted gameplay video shows open-world racing and complicated car names

September 4th, 2012

You find it, you drive it. That’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted’s motto, and besides the novelty of finding hellishly expensive sports cars littered everywhere, Most Wanted’s open-world racing lets you check out player scoreboards, queue up a race, tinker with on-the-fly car mods, and evade the heat all as part of the seamless Autolog matchmaking system. If that isn’t enough, the trailer above exhibits some pretty slick rides — namely, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage and the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series, both ritzy roadsters that also happen to sound like names for computer parts. Watch them blur along the rain-slick industrial streets in a “Red Shift” circuit boasting more powerfully thrumming bass tracks than a Scion commercial.

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Guild Wars 2 peaked 400,000 concurrent users during headstart

September 4th, 2012

Guild Wars 2 peaked 400,000 concurrent users during headstart

Ooh, shiny numbers. You’ve probably witnessed, heard of, or participated in the small armies of players steamrolling the lands of Tyria in Guild Wars 2 during its three-day headstart, but publisher NCsoft revealed today those armies peaked at a staggering 400,000 concurrent users at one point. Nope, that isn’t an extra zero.

NCsoft also said Guild Wars 2 sold over 1 million copies leading up to today’s launch, an impressive feat for a pre-launch promotion and a promising glimpse of the MMO’s continually expanding population going forward.

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3,000 Guild Wars 2 players permanently banned for karma exploit

September 4th, 2012

3,000 Guild Wars 2 players permanently banned for karma exploit

Arenanet have permanently banned 3,000 players from Guild Wars 2 for taking advantage of an exploit that allowed them to craft high level weapons at “one thousandth of their normal price.” An emergency patch has closed the loophole and players that “significantly” exploited it have been thrown out of the game. 72 hour suspensions were dished out to lesser offenders.

Lead producer Chris Whiteside posted on Reddit with further explanation. “Today we banned a number of players for exploiting Guild Wars 2. We take our community and the integrity of the game very seriously, and want to be clear that intentionally exploiting the game is unacceptable. The players we banned were certainly intentionally and repeatedly exploiting a bug in the game. We intended to send a very clear message that exploiting the game in this way will not be tolerated, and we believe this message now has been well understood.”

He goes on to say that Arenanet are “just this once” offering to convert perma-bans to 72 hour suspensions. The exploit involved buying abnormally cheap items from a karma vendor and then fusing them to make high level items at the mystic forge. En-masse exploitation of the loophole threatened to flood the market with powerful items and destabilise Guild Wars 2′s economy.

“Let me assure you: All the people we banned were fully aware of it being an exploit,” said Arenanet on Twitter. “If you bought a few weapons – you were not banned. If you massively exploited it – you were.”

Popular Youtuber, Kripparian was among those banned. You might recognise him as a member of the first team in the world to beat Inferno Diablo on hardcore mode. He was live streaming the exploit on Twitch TV and issued a 72 hour suspension in the middle of the broadcast. Arenanet confirm that this was later turned into a permanent ban.

Kripp posted a video response to the ban on Youtube. Skip to 7:30 to see the moment that the suspension landed.

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