By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net ENTERTAINMENT software publisher Asian Media Development Group has begun selling the Eye of the North expansion of the online role-playing game Guild Wars. GW: EN will be sold through retailers nationwide or through the website GuildWars.ph at around P2, 200. The game continues the storyline of the Guild Wars series, whose first expansions included GW: Factions and GW: Nightfall. The latest expansion, which will be made available worldwide starting August 31, is also the next step toward Guild Wars 2, set to be released in 2009. GW developer ArenaNet, a division of the Korean game firm NCSoft, plans to have a public beta test of GW2 in the second half of 2008. GW: EN is set in the unexplored lands of the continent of Tyria. Three new races will be introduced in the game, namely the Norn, Asuras and Sylvari. While not yet playable in GW: EN, the three races will become playable when GW2 is launched. The majority of the game will take place in the dungeons of that area. The dungeons have multiple levels, each with its own boss stages. Players of GW: EN will need to have characters that reached level 20 in the previous GW installments. The expansion introduces 150 new skills, 40 new armor sets and 10 new Heroes.
August 2007 Archives
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net FILIPINO game developer Anino Entertainment bested about 140 other game developers to get into the semifinals of the Indie Game Developers Showcase, an international competition for independent game developers. Anino Entertainment's Word Archery game is one of the 10 casual games that entered the semifinals. Anino is also the only Asian company in the casual games category, which is dominated mostly by US-based firms. Apart from the casual games category, the semifinals also features the general category, which showcases games that have more development aspects. Finalists will be announced on September 6 at the Austin Game Developers Conference, with three runners-up and a grand prize winner in each of the two categories. Grand prize winners will receive high-tech workstations. Anino's Word Archery is basically a word game where a player forms words by shooting floating letters in bubbles using a weapon called Word Archer. The letters are spread out and wordsmiths should be able to complete complex words.
EVERYONE who's finished Halo 2 knows that the ending was a real, um, cliffhanger (as in WTF?! This is the ending?). So if you're wondering what happens next, check out Marvel Comics' four-part Halo: Uprising limited series. Marvel has announced that the first issue has already sold out at Diamond afyer less than 24 hours. Here's the press release from Marvel.
Marvel Comics is pleased to announce that the hotly anticipated Halo: Uprising #1 (of 4) has sold out at Diamond (though copies may be available at the retail level) after only 24 hours! Featuring the Eisner-Award winning team of writer Brian Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, this limited series bridges the popular Microsoft video games Halo 2 and Halo 3. If you’ve been wondering where the Master Chief has been and what the Covenant have planned, this limited series has the answers! Retailers all over the country are reporting that like with Dark Tower, Anita Blake and The Death of Captain America, Halo: Uprising is attracting new faces and new readers to stores, seeking out this critically acclaimed series!
“My reaction is: yay!” exclaimed Brian Bendis when told of the sell-out. “I'm so, so happy for Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth who poured every ounce of energy into this book that any comic fan could hope to get from their favorite artists. And our editor Ruwan who made all this happen on numerous levels! Issue two is even better—and that's a promise.” Now that the Covenant have arrived on Earth, it’s up to the Master Chief to find a way to stop them—if they don’t find the Key first! Don’t miss Halo: Uprising #2 (of 4), continuing this red-hot limited series and deciding the fate of planet Earth! And for an exclusive behind the scenes look at this landmark series, don’t miss Marvel Spotlight: Halo! Please note that Marvel may go back to press on Halo: Uprising #1.
THE LONG wait will soon be over! Singapore-based Infocomm Asia Holdings Pte Ltd, the exclusive regional distributor of the highly anticipated online game Hellgate: London, has confirmed that the game will be launched in Southeast Asia on October 31 -- the same day that it will be released in North America. Hellgate: London of course is the first title from Flagship Studios, the company founded by gaming legend and former Blizzard stalwart Bill Roper. I was lucky to meet Bill last year in Singapore during IAH's "One Market, One Asia" launch and interviewed him for hackenslash and INQUIRER.net. Here's an excerpt from the press statement sent by IAH.
Gamers in South East Asia will be able to lay their hands on it to try it out first hand together with the gamers in North America. Said Roland Ong, CEO of IAHGames: "We are very proud that our One Market, One Asia strategy has resulted in a One Launch with Flagship Studios." Hellgate: London represents the next leap in the evolution of the action RPG genre, combining the depth and captivating gameplay of traditional RPGs with the visceral action of first-person shooters. The game is developed by the principal creators of the Diablo series. "Announcing our official release date is a very exciting step for us," said Bill Roper, CEO of Flagship Studios. "We’re anxious to bring Hellgate: London to Southeast Asia with IAHGames and to get to know the passionate gamers there as well as we do in other parts of the world." One of the most anticipated PC games and RPGs of the year, Hellgate: London offers infinite re-playability with dynamically generated levels, items, enemies and events. The player creates a heroic character, completes quests, and battles through an innumerable amount of demons to advance through a deep, rich story-driven campaign. A robust, flexible skill and spell system, highly customizable appearances, and a massive variety of randomly generated equipment allow each player to create his or her own unique hero.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net UPDATE: Editor's note: Added video clip. COMPETITION in the online gaming industry is getting more intense even offline as game distributors employ young and sexy girls to up the ante. This time, Asian Media Development Group has tied up with record label Sony BMG to come up with the Game Girls. The Game Girls project, which started promotions and auditions in May, aims to find five young girls who will serve as both Asian Media and Sony BMG talents promoting the products of Asian Media, as well as making a name of their own as an entertainment group. So far, Asian Media and Sony BMG have listed 22 finalists for the five Game Girls slots. Most of the girls are between 17 to 23 years old. Here's a short video clip of the finalists: In an interview with hackenslash, Asian Media chief operating officer Ronald Allan Aquino said that unlike previous projects that sought pretty faces to promote an online game, their strategy with Game Girls is to present girls with real talent who can both sing and dance. "The idea behind Game Girls is following the footsteps of the Pussycat Dolls who are all very sexy, very good dancers and singers," Aquino said, referring to the popular all-female pop group. Aquino also said the five-member Game Girls will initially promote AsianMedia’s massively multiplayer online role-playing game Lineage II, as well as other upcoming products of the online game publisher. However, the Game Girls will also get a chance to have their own recording contract from Sony BMG, as well as endorsement deals initially worth P100,000 and corporate sponsorships. While the date for the announcement of the five Game Girls has yet to be finalized, Aquino said they have tied up with a TV station to come up with a reality TV-like segment in one of its programs.
HERE'S more good news for the game development industry in Asia. As Alex Villafania noted in a previous hackenslash story, the Philippines and 11 other Asian countries will sign a memorandum of intent at Games Convention Asia (GCA) 2007 in Singapore. Now the organizers of the GC Asia Conference, which will be held together with GCA 2007 from September 6 to 9 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Center, have announced that Susan Gold, chairwoman of the International Game Developers Association Education Special Interest Group (SIG), will give a talk on "Entering the Video Game Industry." Here's an excerpt from the press statement:
Susan Gold is an artist, teacher, and activist with a specialization in digital art, new media and video games. Her lecture "Entering the Video Game Industry" at GC Asia Conference will focus on preparing individuals to land and maintain a job within the extremely competitive and popular game industry. This includes putting together a resume and a portfolio, as well as advice on how to survive the interview process and establish a great network. As an educator, Susan Gold has helped to shape a niche program in Entertainment Technology. Prof. Gold also sits on the ACM SIGGRAPH Education Curriculum Committee for Computer Graphics and the IEEE WG16.3 Committee on Theoretical Foundation of Entertainment Computing. Susan’s artwork and writing have been featured in numerous galleries and museums and she has received several grants and awards for her work.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net FIRST-PERSON shooters are getting more intense, if only for the storyline and the "scare factor." The last FPS that really scared the hell out of me was Doom 3D and that was only because of the eerie lighting and the odd background music. Prior to this were System Shock and Deus Ex, which had a similar scary feel to the game and had really good gameplay. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is one of the newer FPS games that can send players jumping off their seats not just because of the nail-biting scare tactics that the game employs, but also because of a lot of flashy shootouts with humans and humanoid-like creatures in dark places. What's more, the game also features a surprisingly good number of plots and twists in an otherwise linear storyline to the point that this seems to be a mix between an FPS and role-playing game. Side quests are abundant and the number of endings is one that has not been seen in any such game in the genre. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is an acronym for Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers and Robbers. Quite a long name for a title, but this largely describes people living within and outside the borders of the worst post-war nuclear disaster site, Chernobyl. As the story goes, you play the character of the mysterious, unnamed and ostensibly mute "Marked One." You enter the fallout-riddled Zone after having an amnesia and you’re out to search for the man called "Strelok," whose name is written in your surprisingly antagonistic PDA. So your mission is to enter the Zone, find this guy and know why you have to kill him. One of the best features of the game is the huge non-linear map, which showcases the entire Zone. It's actually divided into mini-zones that the player can explore. The only noticeable event that happens when the player crosses the mini-zones are the pauses that indicate the loading of the next part of the map. Each part of the map has different types of interactive characters, enemies and monsters, and each map even has side quests that the player can either choose to take or not. A player can earn special items and skills by finishing these side quests. They are not necessary to finish the game but they do give newbie characters some powerful abilities against enemies, as well as for traversing the super huge map. For more veteran players, the side quests would jus enhance the story mode and perhaps unlock the other endings of the game. The gameplay is just the same as in other FPS games with you running around shooting and dodging enemy fire. But what makes this game better than most FPS titles is the virtual world needs of the human player. Fighting requires energy; therefore, the person needs food. So after killing off enemies, the Marked One will search his enemies not just for weapons but also for food. If he gets shot, he’ll need medipacks. The player is not just a passive superhuman that can withstand pain. The Marked One will require all of the provisions of surviving in a harsh world such as the Zone. He goes weak without his food and medicine as much as he becomes helpless without his weapons. Speaking of which, developer GSC has added a nifty feature in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. not normally seen in an FPS title but which could become more common in the future -- the use of weight-to-quantity ratio. This means a character can only carry so much items in his bag based on the combined weight. A player would have to choose wisely as to which weapons he should bring with him lest he gets slowed down in his many battles. He can be equipped with an arsenal of weapons, including real-world assault rifles, shotguns and pistols. In fact, the more you play this game, the more you’ll notice it's an RPG rather than an FPS. The weapons have different effects, much like their physical versions. Shooting an automatic assault rifle will cause some ricochet effects so pulling intermittently on the trigger is better than continuous fire. The other weapons also have their own virtual physics qualities that produce pseudo-realistic effects. One of the good things about new FPS titles is the enemy artificial intelligence. Most enemies usually just stand there shooting at you even if the last shot was nearly fatal. In other games, enemies just randomly hide, stand up and shoot, not caring if they did get shot the last time they stood up. But in other games, such as Half-Life 2 and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, the AI would know where and how to outflank the main player. In S.T.A.L.K.E.R., groups of enemies would have a predetermined hiding place and if one enemy gets shot, another would try to take his place just to outflank you. The same goes with the other unfriendly creatures in the game. Either they'll try to rush you out of instinct or they'll go around to get a bite out of you without you knowing. Sometimes, animals such as dogs in the game also have a sense of fear; when one of their rabid members gets killed while attacking your player, the rest would turn around whining and fleeing the scene as if afraid to end up being the next roadkill. Expect a lot of battles in this game and there would be times when you'll be playing alongside a group of other human survivors who aren't as friendly with their brethren as you'd expect. In one of the more memorable battles, there were several occasions when a bloodied ally being helped by others, but in some strange Kevorkian fashion, the wounded is shot in the head by other friendlies, apparently to alleviate the pain. The game takes about 10 to 12 hours to finish if you go straight through the main plot but taking the side quests will consume several more hours and could take as long as the main story itself. In fact, the main story is divided into at least seven endings and to unlock all of them means having to play the game at least four to five times. While the game itself is not as graphically good as the latest FPS games (the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. engine is an outdated X-Ray graphics engine) it still features a lot of graphical innovations, largely with the physics and also the huge world. Simply put, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is perhaps the best game in the FPS genre this year on any console. Perhaps the only other FPS that could beat it in the race is the upcoming Halo 3 for the Xbox 360. Then again, GSC's latest masterpiece is a must-have for a gamer's library. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl Genre: First-Person Shooter Developer: GSC Game World Publishers: THQ (World), GSC Game Publishing (CIS) ESRB Rating: M 17+
By Agence France-Presse PARIS--A fantasy plague that accidentally ran amok in the Internet's most popular game world, populated by nine million flesh-and-blood players, may help scientists predict the impact of genuine epidemics, according to a study released Tuesday. Virtual playgrounds such as World of Warcraft, launched in 2004, could soon become testing grounds for the all-too-real battle against bird flu, malaria or some as yet unknown killer virus, one of the authors, Nina Fefferman of Rutgers University in New Jersey, told Agence France-Presse. Discussions are underway, she confirmed, with the game's California-based manufacturer, Blizzard, a unit of French media giant Vivendi, on how future updates might yield useful scientific data. "As technology and biology become more heavily integrated in daily life, this small step towards the interaction of virtual viruses and humans could become highly significant," she said. The unlikely path to a collaboration between hard science and hardcore gaming began in late 2005, when Blizzard programmers introduced a highly contagious disease -- dubbed "Corrupted Blood" -- into a newly created zone of the game's Byzantine environment. World of Warcraft is a "multiplayer online role-playing game" in which players -- numbering in the tens, or hundreds of thousands -- use computer-controlled avatars to fight battles, form alliances, and dialogue simultaneously on the Internet. At first the "patch," as new elements such as the disease are called, worked as expected: experienced players shrugged it off like a bad cold, and weaker ones were left with disabled avatars. But then things spun out of control. As in reality, some of those carrying the virus slipped back into the virtual world's densely populated cities, rapidly infecting their defenseless inhabitants. The disease also spread -- much like real influenza or the plague -- via domesticated animals abandoned by players for fear of infecting their avatars, leaving the sickened pets to roam freely. Programmers tried to set up quarantines, but they were ignored. Finally, they resorted to an option not available in the real world: they shut down the servers and rebooted the system. "This was the first time that a virtual virus has infected a virtual human being in a manner resembling an actual epidemiological event," said Fefferman, whose co-author, epidemiologist Eric Lofgren from Tufts University in Boston, was playing the game when the plague struck. The authors had already discussed the possibility of using online gaming to study the spread of disease, and thus immediately recognized the opportunity. To date, epidemiologists have relied heavily on mathematical simulations to forecast the spread of contagious diseases across large populations. But crunching numbers has limitations, says Fefferman. "There is no way to model how people will behave" in a pubic crisis, she said. "How many will run away from a quarantine? Will they become more or less cooperative if they are scared? We simply don't know." Which is where the virtual netherworlds come into the picture. They can help scientists to "feed appropriate parameters into existing epidemiological models," she said. Some skeptics have suggested that gamers are more willing to take risks online than in the flesh, and Fefferman acknowledges there is a difference. But most players have invested a lot of time and energy into strengthening their avatars and forming alliances. For many, psychologists say, their virtual creations have become alter egos. "We don't mean to suggest that people's reactions in this game would exactly mirror their reactions in real life," she said. "But I think it is the closest thing we have to something that people really do become emotionally invested in protecting." The researchers are working on a proposal for a new patch that would be a "compromise between what gamers would most enjoy and what would be most scientifically useful," she said.
IT'S double the fun as GAME!, the gaming magazine of INQUIRER.net's sister company Hinge Inquirer Publications, dishes out Lineage II: The Chaotic Throne goodness in its August issue. Check out these two cover variants. Get a free Lineage II installer with your GAME! August issue. Here are more details on the August issue from the GAME! team:
GAME! dishes out previews on sure-hit international MMOs: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and 9Dragons. Enjoy features on sought-after games Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, Eve Online: Revelations II, Ran Online, and Counter-Strike. Score more with PangYa Shining Sand and Silvia Cannon course walkthroughs and catch items on sale at Ragnarok's hypermart. Double your chances of winning a PLAYSTATION 3 by collecting this issue's 2 covers! As an added treat, you get a FREE Lineage II installer! So rush to your favorite newsstands and grab a copy of GAME! Magazine's August issue for only PhP80! For suggestions, comments, advertisements & promos, email us at editors at gamemagazine dot ph.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net IP E-GAMES, the online gaming arm of IT firm Intellectual Property Ventures Group (IPVG), said its advergaming business could grow from the current five percent to about 20 percent in the next two years, driven by strong interest from advertisers seeking to shift from traditional tri-media to the targeted market offered by online games. Advergaming refers to virtual product placements within a video game. Virtual billboards, kiosks and even items that include the logo or names of a product signify advergaming. In some cases, real products can have virtual versions in a game and can be either bought or consumed by virtual characters. Speaking during the recently held Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines conference in Manila, IPVG president Enrique Gonzalez said advergaming is still in its infancy but will be a new and encouraging field for advertising firms and their clients. Advergaming targets a specific market, which are gamers with disposable incomes. He said the typical age of gamers is between 12 to 25 years old but the average age is 15, with most them having money to spend on playing online games. Citing several studies they have commissioned, Gonzalez said advergaming benefits both game publishers and advertisers as it generates revenues as well as specific measurement of usage. "We can measure the impressions depending on the click overs, and the consumption or usage of the virtual versions of the product. The advertiser will know who are using them and maybe change their marketing approach depending on the usage," he said. He also said the potential is huge as there are currently an estimated 15 million Internet users in the Philippines, 2.6 million of whom are online gamers. "The growth of the online gaming business is fast; by 2010 we estimate that the number of gamers could grow to 6.3 million," he said. However, Gonzalez said that advergaming would still take some time to take off in the Philippines as advertising firms and their clients are still wary of the new online gaming media. "It takes values to sink in but advergaming is the next stage for advertising."
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net THE YOUNG Game Development Association of the Philippines (GDAP) is set to sign a memorandum of intent (MOI) with 11 other Asian video game development organizations during Games Convention Asia (GCA) 2007, which will be held from September 6-9 in Singapore. The MOI will be signed by organizations from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. This was confirmed by GDAP president Gabby Dizon who said in an earlier interview that GDAP will have a booth at GCA 2007. GDAP said the move is aimed at building the network among game developers, entrepreneurs and professionals in the same business, and strengthening the budding development industry in other Asian nations, which is the traditional domain of big firms in the US, Europe, Japan and Korea. The GCA will be held from September 6 to 9 at the Suntec International Convention Center in Singapore. It will be attended by video game developers from across Asia who will discuss trends in the field of game and multimedia development, as well as link up with potential investors and partners for various projects. The Singaporean Venture Capitalists & Private Equity Associations and the Business Angels Network in Southeast Asia have given their support for GCA 2007.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net THE CENTER for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) has tied up with the Game Development Association of the Philippines (GDAP) to showcase the country's game development industry to the upcoming Games Convention Asia (GCA) 2007 in Singapore. GCA will be held in Suntec Singapore International Convention Center from September 6 to 9 and will be attended by dozens of game development companies from across Asia. In an interview, GDAP president Gabby Dizon said this would be the first time that GDAP would represent the Philippines in a major international conference of such nature. Dizon said CITEM will subsidize half the cost of the booth of GDAP during the GCA. The Philippine delegation will be represented by Anino Entertainment, FlipSide Games, Matahari Studios, Pixelstream and Skyrocket. Dizon is also the president of FlipSide. GDAP will also have two speaking slots during the four-day event. "The speakers could be Niel Dagondon and Paul Gadi, both of Anino Entertainment," Dizon said. Dizon also said CITEM's assistance would be extended through other future international game development conferences. Dizon also revealed that GDAP is looking to join the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP), an organization of business process outsourcers and contact center operators. "BPAP has access to marketing and trade shows in other countries. It is also working closely with CITEM. When they have events abroad, we can join to represent the country's game development industry," he said. Despite its relative youth, the video game development industry in the Philippines has been growing in the last four years. Currently, there are around nine full-time game development firms hiring about 200 developers, 3D artists and animators.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net AFTER four years, the Philippines has finally bagged its first awards in the World Cyber Games (WCG) professional video game league. The two awards, a bronze medal and a first-place award, were garnered during the regional WCG Asian Championship 2007 held last Sunday in Singapore. The group FLOW (photo shown here), the Philippine team for Warcraft III: Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) won third place to bring bronze medal, beating two other teams. Philippine Team DOTA is composed of Arby Ng, Jose Ena Uy, Bryan Ang, Marvin Jantzen Lu Tan and Alvin Villaguez. The group also won for themselves S$2,000 (P59,700) in cash. Israel Magante, who has been the country's consistent representative to the WCG for all Need for Speed competitions, won his first ever international professional gaming tournament during the 2007 Games Extreme League (GXL) Season 01, a sub-event during the WCG Asian Championships 2007. Magante played the racing game Need for Speed: Carbon at the GXL and won first place, as well as S$1,000 (P29,900 pesos) in cash. Here's a photo of Magante. He also bagged a second award after taking second place in another PC racing game GTR2 during GXL. He took home a Dopod mobile phone and a Seagate hard drive. Another group of gamers will be sent to the much bigger WCG Grand Final, which will be held in Seattle, Washington from October 3 to 7. The Philippines will be represented by eight gamers playing Counter-Strike, Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, StarCaft: Brood War and Need for Speed: Carbon.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net DIGITAL entertainment publishing firm Level Up! is turning up the heat in the intense online gaming business as it introduces Perfect World, a mythical Chinese-themed online role-playing game that the company expects to be its next hit. The game already started its open beta test last July 16, with the commercial launch slated on August 16. Here's a video of Toni Gonzaga singing the Perfect World theme during the consumer launch of Perfect World on August 4 at SM Megamall Megatrade Hall 2, taken by INQUIRER.net gaming and multimedia editor Joey Alarilla for iVDO. Level Up! Perfect World community manager John Paul Pelayo said the game is already enjoying a fairly high number of players, mostly new ones. "Only about 16 percent of players are from Ragnarok Online while the rest are new players," he said. Pelayo added that Perfect World will be their first major role-playing game that will be free-to-play, with in-game items that can only be purchased from the game's online item mall. "The item mall will have crafting items that can mold weapons, armor, clothes and other accessories, which can distinguish a player’s character. The items can be bought using our Level Up prepaid cards," Pelayo said. He added that while players can mold powerful weapons and magical accessories out of the crafting items, the resulting items cannot be worn unless the player has already reached a required level. Other players can continue hunting for special items spread across the game's virtual world. "It balances out the game between regular free-to-play players and those who have limited time to play," Pelayo said. Perfect World is the first China-made game to be introduced in the Philippines. Other online games are created by Korean firms. Perfect World was developed by Beijing Perfect World Technology and is a full 3D game. Its gameplay is somewhat similar to World of Warcraft but its unique feature is a customization tool that could even recreate the player's facial features. It can also handle about 160 players in a single skirmish to give the massive feel of real battle. Likewise, there can be one-on-one duels. During the Perfect World consumer launch at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, Level Up! also held a contest that sent lucky players to a trip to Boracay. As noted, the special guest at the consumer launch was female celebrity Gonzaga, who sang the game’s theme song, which is also included in her new album Falling in Love. Here's a video clip from iVDO of Gonzaga recounting how Level Up! approached her for the project. The interview was conducted by Alarilla while the video was taken by this writer.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net AFTER almost three years, the online game Rush on Seven Episodes (R.O.S.E. Online) has been shut down in the Philippines by online publisher Level Up! The last day of operation was on July 31 though Level Up! already announced in July 4 that it would close down the game servers. Level Up! marketing director Jake San Diego said the decision was made as R.O.S.E.’s Korean publisher Gravity (which also developed Ragnarok Online, published by Level Up! in the Philippines) announced that it would not be developing any more updates for the game. Gravity also announced that it would be moving the game’s development to another firm, Faith, Inc., though no announcement of updates have been made. "This made us look at different options: one is to just continue the game and just have players migrate to our other games. Or two, to get the game's development rights and just tap someone to develop the game for us. We opted to just shut down the game," San Diego said. He also said they could not continue the game if there were no updates that can be delivered. "Players would lose interest," he said. Because of the closure, Level Up! has invited R.O.S.E. players to migrate to other games, particularly Ragnarok. "We even have an invitation to them that when they migrate, they’ll get special items," he said. San Diego said R.O.S.E. Online has about 80,000 active players per month, with a concurrent user statistic of 5,000 to 6,000, comparable to that of RF Online, another online game published by Level Up! Philippines.
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net LEVEL UP! Philippines has announced that it is tapping a local game developer to produce content for the Philippine online game publisher. Jose Carlo Medina, Level Up! director of new media, said the online game publisher is now working closely with FlipSide Games in the development of custom games for its new casual game platform called Be There. "We're tapping them to develop custom games for a new platform, which is a casual game platform. It is Web-based," Medina said. "We're doing this because it complements our advergaming business. We would also like to strengthen ties with the local development community and eventually showcase them to other countries," he added. Level Up! Philippines is partly owned by Level Up! International, which also manages operations in India and Brazil. "We can export their [local developers'] output to India and Brazil," Medina said. Level Up! Philippines signed the contract with FlipSide Games two months ago, as it intends to have a long-term partnership with the local developer, he added. In a separate interview, Gabby Dizon, president and CEO of FlipSide Games, confirmed the collaboration. "They have a casual game platform. They're partnering with us to provide content for this casual game platform, where we will do our original content. This is the first time that a collaboration between an online game publisher and a local developer has happened," Dizon said. Medina said Level Up! Philippines has been "wanting to support local game developers, and this project was the perfect opportunity to have more local content delivered quickly." Level Up! expects to generate business from producing more local content through advergaming, or advertising within video and online games.