By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net ONLINE game publisher Level Up! is bringing to the Philippines Crazy Kart, an online racing game developed by Shanghai-based Shanda. Crazy Kart is one of the two online casual games that Level Up! is set to launch. It is also the first racing game to be introduced in the Philippines. The company has already put up a local website for their new casual game. Level Up! marketing director Jake San Diego told hackenslash the game is modeled after some casual racing games, particularly the Mario Kart series. The games features customizable cars, track obstacles and even weapons for players. There will also be more unique features for Crazy Kart such as customized local maps patterned after familiar roads in Metro Manila. San Diego said Shanda developers will also create a digital version of the Filipino jeepney, which will be playable like the other karts. For the advergaming aspect, San Diego said the game has over 800 real estate spots for advertisers, in the form of billboards, car accessories and even car decals. San Diego said they have started the internal testing of the game but will soon launch a closed beta, most likely in early June. He added that the title of the second casual game they are launching will also be revealed sometime during the beta test of Crazy Kart.
May 2008 Archives
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE ASSOCIATION of Southeast Asian Nation Foundation (AF) is set to launch in July a PC game that aims to provide a fun learning activity to the youth and give them useful information on the 10 member countries of the ASEAN. AF executive director Filemon Uriarte Jr. presented the ASEAN Quest game during a memorandum of agreement signing between the AF and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Makati City. Uriarte showed a box version of the game as well as the opening cut scene. Uriarte described ASEAN Quest as primarily a single-player role-playing game where players have to navigate through several, albeit short, levels. There are portions of real-time strategy, trivia, a spy game and even a "build" game. Much of the game focuses on the cultural nuances of the 10 member countries of the ASEAN. Some of the mini-games are patterned after some of the popular PC games such as Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Warcraft and StarCraft. However, the difference is that there is no indication of violence in ASEAN Quest. De La Salle University was tapped to develop the game and was awarded a $90,000 grant in 2007 for the project. The game will be launched during the upcoming ASEAN Youth Science Summit, which will be part of the National Science and Technology Week from July 1 to 11. A gaming competition featuring ASEAN Quest for the participants and delegates will be held during the Youth Science Summit. Uriarte said the commercial price of the game could reach between P300 and P500.
By Joey Alarilla INQUIRER.net YUP, we love playing games, but how about creating one yourself? Nope, I don't mean becoming a game developer (though you can if you want to), but going to a site that allows you to quickly customize free Flash games and embed them on your blog or social networking profile. One site I tried today is Pictogame. It's a fun site, and I tried making a game. I have a six-year-old daughter, OK, so please excuse the choice of a cutesy game :) That's Sam's pic I used, and I've also embedded this game on my personal blog. Sploder, though I haven't tried it out yet. Let me know if you've tried other sites that let you create your own games.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net LET'S see if an Iron Man video game based on the movie-comic book tie-in would save the world from the bad movie-video game curse. Nope, it won't. Our faith in even the most beloved comic book franchises cannot save the poor gamer from having to suffer from the effects of playing video games based on movies. At some point you would ask, "Why do all movie-video game tie-ins suck?" Iron Man the game is a big joke. Which begs the question: why do developers and publishers bother releasing a title that they know will suck? Simple: some of us get suckered into shelling out a few bucks to satisfy our curiosity and at some point, to falsely believe that there's a future for video game-movie tie-ins until they're dashed the moment we chuck the game disc into our players. Just the same, it is still the duty of a few poor reviewers to play the game all throughout just to come up with believable and unbiased reviews, to save other gamers the trouble of having to play a crappy game. Luckily, Iron Man for the PlayStation 2 is one short stint. I can't say the same for reviewers on the other consoles but most likely they'd share similar sentiments. Iron Man the game is loosely based on the movie of the same name (that's obvious enough). The video game's story begins almost the same way as the movie does where Tony Stark gets kidnapped by Afghan terrorists (incidentally called Ten Rings, a direct reference to the Ten Rings of Power wielded by Iron Man nemesis the Mandarin) to make a weapon using Stark's own equipment. Instead, Stark whips up a simple armor to make his escape. He returns to the US where he develops a new armor, which he uses to stop the Ten Rings, and later on, against the Iron Monger worn by his rogue executive Obadiah Stane. The story arc continues beyond the movie and Stark faces off against other enemies from his comic books including Titanium Man, Melter, Controller and Whiplash, all of whom are bosses. The story is pretty simple and does have a lot of reference to the comic books. But I can't say the same for the gameplay, which is nothing short of being deadweight. The game is played in third-person perspective with the camera right behind Iron Man. The control scheme is similar to nearly all first-shooters; the left analog button is for movement (forward, backward, strafe left and right) and the right is for the camera angle. R1 is for firing weapons, R2 is to activate flight and L1 is for hovering. The D-pad serves as a power conduit wherein the player can set where the energy level of Iron Man will be utilized, such as his propulsion, his palm repulsor blasters, and armor strength. The game features a lot of explosions but they are all repetitive. The first time Iron Man takes flight the player will get a chance to enjoy flying around swooping and shooting ground enemies with his repulsor blasters and most often his Gatling gun. When bored, the player can use Iron Man's Unibeam, which is similar to his repulsor blast but is much wider and can take out more enemies. However, it takes some time to charge up the Unibeam and in which case, it won't be used that often unless during boss stages. Yes, Iron Man is particularly tough even in the game. In the comic books, it takes much more powerful weapons to even dent his armor. The video game gives that much credit to Iron Man so he won't need any life globes to charge up. What he uses is backup battery power. When Iron Man's armor level goes down he goes into a "life-threatening" power drain. No worries. The player can start it up again simply by playing a mini-game to defibrillate Iron Man. When properly timed Iron Man can charge up his armor level again and he can go back his merry way destroying enemies. Unfortunately, it's not always merry because the enemies are somewhat slow, uncoordinated and less challenging. Iron Man can just fly around destroying anything that's moving. Even the boss stages are pretty easy. I would have half-expected the Titanium Man to pose a challenge to Iron Man but I'm left just avoiding his attacks and countering with the Gatling gun or repulsor blast. Bar none, Iron Man the game is one of the most boring movie-video game tie-ins ever made. Not even the game's 3D cut scenes and the borrowed voice acting of some of the movie's actors (Rober Downey Jr. and Terrence Howard) can bring the game to life. It's a total waste of time.
By Joey Alarilla INQUIRER.net JUST upgraded to the new version of RealArcade. Yup, I also love casual games :) I like the new version, actually, because it's a lot easier to navigate. Of course, it's obvious they also did it in order to better present ads on their site, but as long as the design is uncluttered, I don't mind. In fact, I saw a video ad there from Chili's. All you need to do is watch the short clip to get a free copy of Burger Rush. So, yup, why not? This really will be the trend -- online video ads and free ad-supported games. And as long as the games are good and the ads aren't annoying, I think many of us wouldn't mind. By the way, while you're there, you can also sign up for a free 30-day trial of RealArcade's GamePass service, in case you're interested. How about you, what do you think of the new RealArcade? And what do you think of more free ad-supported games? Heck, maybe in the future free ad-supported versions of even AAA console, PC and massively multiplayer online games like Halo, Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft franchises would become the norm.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net AFTER several nostalgic attempts to bring back old actors as the characters that made them superstars (think Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone), here comes Harrison Ford out to reclaim his title as the eponymous Indiana Jones with a new movie, still armed with his trademark bullwhip, revolver and indomitable fedora. His latest adventure, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," is largely George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's remake of the same good old fashioned 80s-era action-adventure to satisfy the cravings of a nostalgic thirtysomething crowd and see if the same moviemaking formula of the early 80s would work with a new audience. This review may contain some spoilers, so stop reading if you don't want the movie spoiled for you. Sure, maybe the movie is an attempt to cash in on a once-popular franchise that made both Lucas and Spielberg among the biggest icons in moviemaking history. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is an action-adventure movie that throws Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones Jr. more than 20 years into the future since his first adventure in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," which was set in 1936. This puts Indy face to face with Russian communists and spies during the 50s cold war. It's clear that Indy has aged through the years and tends to drop middle-aged gripes over curled brows compared to his smart smiling sarcasm when he was younger. Cate Blanchett plays Irina Spalko, a cold-hearted yet less-than-scary Russian parapsychologist. She and her group of Red soldiers kidnap Indy and his sidekick Mac (Ray Winstone) to find a missing alien artifact that she claims holds the key to ultimate power. As in previous Indiana movies, Indy gets to escape while taking down half of Irina's group. Later, Indiana meets up with motorcycle-riding Mutt Williams (Shia LaBouf) to help find his foster dad, and Indy's close friend, Harold Oxley (John Hurt), who left a message to Indy indicating that he has found a crystal skull that could point the way to a mythical kingdom of vast wealth. Incidentally, it is the same place where Irina and her ilk are searching, but her reasons for finding the lost city are more nefarious than just stripping it of its treasure. For those who watched the first three films in the early 80s, there's some sense of reminiscing on the days when Spielberg and Lucas would both use some sort of analog technology to get the desired visual effect in their film. These were mostly blue screens that put characters in a scene, which are actually small set productions. In those days (and I have fond memories of watching such movies) the special effects put the viewer in the middle of the scene along with the protagonist of the film. The special effects were barely noticeable, as though a scene was seamless from start to finish. People would then wonder how the effect was made or if it was an effect at all (an example is the famous rolling boulder scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"). However, moviegoers are far less excited with special effects now than they were a decade ago, as computer graphics have made almost anything possible on the silver screen. "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" used just about every computer-made special effect technique in the arsenal of Industrial Light and Magic. "Blue screened" scenes were quite obvious, digital rotoscoping was employed and there were spots where Ford's face was digitally plastered to an actor's body to make it look like he was doing the action. The action scenes can still be appreciated but knowing that the same digital visual effects from Lucas and Spielberg's works have been used in the latest Indy film make it less exciting. The acting is somewhat contrived for some of the characters and the build-up of their profiles, especially the new ones, is weak. Of course, Ford as Indiana Jones remains as effective a hero as he was 27 years ago but a few of the other actors are less than supportive. Case in point is Blanchett's characterization of a Soviet dominatrix. Stone cold as she may seem, there is little character development that would have put a lot more emphasis on her demeanor. Her use of a rapier would have given ample backstory characterization but audiences are left to wonder how she really came to be and only her intentions are known. Meanwhile Mac and Oxley's characters are neither given some thought as to how they should be integrated into the story but that's passable considering they play smaller parts in the story: Mac constantly buggers Indy with his greed and Oxley just keeps giving Indy small clues that Indy himself would have solved himself. LaBouf's characterization of Mutt Williams is nothing spectacular but remains passable as it gives the viewer, old and new alike, a sense of things to come. You'll find out what I mean when you watch the movie. Still, LaBouf should shed off some of his angst-ridden onscreen persona as it's become pretty much his forte in his previous films. For all its problems, the same action-adventure formula works for the latest Indiana Jones franchise. The action is intense; the staple of deadly animals and acrobatic tribesmen, as well as lots of gunfights and car chases, will still make nostalgic older audiences find their way back to the days when they wanted to roam the world looking for some adventure. Meanwhile, younger generations of moviegoers will find it amazing to see that Ford can still hang on to his bullwhip while swinging around, dodging bullets, and remaining cool about it.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net AVATRIAN LLC, a US company focused on creating virtual items, said Filipino firms must tap online virtual worlds, particularly Second Life, in creating brand awareness in newer markets, especially those not familiar with their products. Incidentally, Avatrian, which has its production office in Cebu City, is hoping that Filipinos would lose the perception that Second Life is an online game. In fact, Avatrian creative director Rodion Herrera still likens it to social networking sites that are utilized by some companies to promote their products and services. Herrera said virtual worlds, or metaverses, offer a wide variety of utilities that individuals, groups or even companies can utilize for specific or general purposes. "People should embrace these new tools and see them as methods to create a brand of their own. Virtual worlds equalize the playing field for everyone," Herrera said. Second Life, and another virtual world, Entropia Universe, are similar to social networking sites but work like video games, complete with maps, in-game characters called avatars, and tools for purchasing virtual items. However, such virtual worlds focus largely on building networks, trading and communications. Little if any hack-and-slash action happens in these virtual worlds. Herrera said such virtual worlds start out with little content, which allows new players to create their own content to be shared or distributed, eventually create living, breathing communities of people. "Very few know what's in store for them in these virtual worlds. We also have to change the perception that Second Life and other services like them are video games," Herrera said.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net ACKNOWLEDGING the reality that many of the players of their games are also part of social networking sites, online game publisher Level Up! is opting to shift their attention toward using these social networking sites rather than relying on their own. In fact, the company is shedding the use of its own social networking site called CLIQ, launched in 2007, and is rolling out their own "embassies" in various social networking sites, including Facebook.com, Friendster.com, Multiply.com and even some gamers' blogs. Level Up! new media director Jose Carlo Medina explained the company's experience in building up their own social networking facility in the hopes of attracting more people, especially non-gamers who may eventually start playing their games or using some of their services. "CLIQ only covered 10 percent of the gaming population. It had low usage, lacked in-game feature integration, lacked platform expertise, and lacked cross-platform integration from other services. Players don't want to connect to another application just to check on their character profiles," Medina said. It took a while before Level Up! realized their market is already part of other social networking sites that are more robust and have stable integration to other social networking services. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the company decided to just harness the available networking sites to promote their games. Medina said it works as it saves them time and even widens their own network of potential customers or players, not just existing ones. Level Up!, however, will still retain its online gamers' forums where most of their players meet virtually and even share some content. Level Up! has even tapped the services of a blogger to work as their editor in chief. Kevin Codamon, also known Kiven at Codamon.com will be the company's "Lord of the Blogs" who will manage content development from Level Up! as well as managing their gamer communities.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net TO HELP draw more players to the World Cyber Games Philippines tournaments, the local Microsoft Xbox online forum PinoyXbox.com has started a raffle for players of the two Xbox 360 games included in the WCG preliminaries. The PinoyXbox raffle rules state that players who join the tournaments for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Virtua Fighter 5, which are the official Xbox 360 games for the WCG, will get the chance to win several Xbox 360 titles. These include Virtua Fighter 5, Project Gotham Racing 4, Universe at War, Grand Theft Auto 4, and a Guitar Hero III bundle, among others. The titles are provided by video game sales shop Ysidro's GameCore and online rental company GameHopper.com. The titles cost between P1,500 pesos to P2,500. Incidentally, the raffle is not officially sanctioned by the organizers of the WCG Philippines tournaments. In an interview, PinoyXbox moderator Philip Ortiz said the raffle was started by PinoyXbox and the game providers and is aimed at enticing Xbox 360 players to join the preliminary competitions for the Xbox 360, which start in June. "But we've talked to the organizers of the WCG and they actually liked the idea. This is to draw up support for the Xbox 360 games. This is our own initiative," Ortiz said. In previous years the only Xbox 360 game fully supported by WCG Philippines was Dead or Alive 4. The first placer in Guitar Hero III will join the Philippine delegate to the WCG Grand Final in Germany in November. Likewise, the second placer in Guitar Hero III and the first placer in Virtua Fighter 5 will go to the Asian Cyber Games competition in Singapore.
UPDATE: Editor's note: Corrected error in second paragraph. By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net LEVEL UP! Philippines CEO Jane Walker clarified Friday that the local game publisher is in a "neck and neck" battle with publicly listed IPVG Corp., a close rival, in the local gaming business. Walker stressed that PLDT's figures do not reflect its overseas, mobile game business, and advergaming, which when added up to the existing online game business, is "at par" with exceeds that of IPVG Corp. "For the total Philippine operations, Level Up! Philippines is at par," Walker said in an interview, stressing that Level Up!'s overseas and mobile game business are huge. Level Up! International, which is a privately held company, operates in Brazil and India. Publicly listed firm IPVG Corp. said it has beaten the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.'s (PLDT) gaming company Level Up! in gaming revenues during the first quarter of 2008, according to IPVG Corp. CEO Enrique Gonzalez. Gonzales reported that the company's gaming business generated P124.60 million in gross revenues and profits of P57.13 million during the first quarter of 2008. PLDT reported earlier that it has earned about P77 million in net revenues during the first quarter of 2008 from online games through subsidiary Level Up! Philippines. It also reported that the online gaming service revenues of Level Up! Philippines grew by 27 percent to P77 million. Walker said that gross revenues of Level Up! Philippines, however, have reached more than P100 million, despite the closure of several online games in 2007 and this year. Level Up! has also launched its mobile business recently. Walker, however, said that Level Up! cannot release its overall revenues, including overseas and mobile gaming business. "I can only release what PLDT said," she added. Gonzalez said that IPVG gaming subsidiary IP e-Games has generated P92.92 million in net revenues during the first quarter, surpassing Level Up!'s figures. He said gaming, which covers online and mobile gaming and some overseas licensing support services, has remained IPVG's steady money earner because of the high margins it generates from online and mobile games. The IPVG executive said "advergaming" or advertising generated from games has produced about P21 million in 2007. Meanwhile, Walker said Level Up! Philippines' advergaming revenues were not included in the reported net revenues. She explained that net revenues usually reflect the money they earn from selling pre-paid gaming cards to subscribers minus the discounts and taxes. IPVG Corp. said its gaming subsidiary IP e-Games produced the biggest share of gaming revenues at P111.55 million, while recently acquired mobile content developer firm MegaMobile added P 1.39 million during the first quarter of this year. IPVG Corp. also reported P11.66 million in "overseas" gaming revenues generated from "relicensing" gaming titles to Vietnam, Gonzalez said.
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net PUBLICLY listed firm IPVG Corp. said it has beaten the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.'s (PLDT) gaming company Level Up! in gaming revenues during the first quarter of 2008, its top executive stated Thursday. IPVG Corp. CEO Enrique Gonzalez reported that the company's gaming business generated P124.60 million in gross revenues and profits of P57.13 million during the first quarter of 2008. PLDT reported earlier that it has earned about P77 million in net revenues during the first quarter of 2008 from online games through subsidiary Level Up! Philippines. It also reported that the online gaming service revenues of Level Up! Philippines grew by 27 percent to P77 million. Level Up! Philippines CEO Jane Walker said that gross revenues of Level Up! Philippines, however, have reached more than P100 million, despite the closure of several online games in 2007 and this year. Gonzalez said that IPVG gaming subsidiary IP E-Games has generated P92.92 million in net revenues during the first quarter, surpassing Level Up!'s figures. He said gaming, which covers online and mobile gaming and some overseas licensing support services, has remained IPVG's steady money earner because of the high margins it generates from online and mobile games. The IPVG executive said "advergaming" or advertising generated from games has produced about P21 million in 2007. Gaming subsidiary IP E-Games produced the biggest share of gaming revenues at P111.55 million, while recently acquired mobile content developer firm MegaMobile added P 1.39 million during the first quarter of this year. IPVG Corp. also reported P11.66 million in "overseas" gaming revenues generated from "relicensing" gaming titles to Vietnam, added Gonzalez in an interview with reporters. Gonzalez remained confident that IPVG would retain its leadership in the local market, which he expects to become more competitive this year with the entry of newer titles and players. IPVG Corp. has already announced two new online games, Cabal Online and Pandora Saga, with two more titles coming this year, Gonzalez added. All games of IP e-Games are free-to-play, meaning players can play games for free, but can opt to buy items to upgrade or arm characters. Free-to-play online games will continue to dominate the local gaming market because "people still want to play for free," the executive added.
By Relly Carpio INQUIRER.net TEAM Ninja of Manila won over a field of over 60 local teams, of five members each, to win the Philippine Qualifiers for the Asian DOTA Championships (ADC). The final match between Team Ninja and Team Corporation of Davao was held at Mineski Cyber Cafe along Taft Avenue. The exciting match was a best-of-three competition. One round was won by each team, with the deciding third battle being won by Team Ninja. Team Corporation manager Ria Jose was present at Mineski though her team was assembled at, and was competing from, Davao. Team Ninja's win will now allow them to compete in the ADC Finals Qualifiers for the chance to gain one of two slots available in the final field of ten countries that would compete in the ADC Finals. Incidentally, the venue of the qualifiers was the home of Team Mineski; one of eight teams with an assured slot in the finals. Should Team Ninja win one of the two available slots in the Asian Eliminations, the Philippines will have two teams in the finals. Team Mineski placed fourth in last year's ADC. Team Ninja is composed of Jeffrey "Fox" Fortunato, Tony "Ynot?" Mazinni, Vinni Carlo "ViNi" Caños, Regie "Rejz" Ragel, Joseph "DSR" Marco, Laurence Anthony "LA" Chua, Mark Vincent "Enteng" Co, and Jave Yu. Team Corporation consists of Jay Arabia, Jester Ching, Duke Dalumpines, Chian Coronel, Subang Padilla, Paul Limlao and Maj Geneblazo. They are sponsored by DotAStrategy.com. Defense of the Ancients is a mod of Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, the fantasy real-time strategy game from Blizzard. It involves team battles between five heroes to control a three-lane map.
By Candice Montenegro, Contributor INQUIRER.net FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD singer Sam Concepcion is out to prove that the Philippines is indeed a goldmine of great musical talent, as he sings the song "Kung Fu Fighting" for the DreamWorks animated movie "Kung Fu Panda." At a press conference held at Annabel's in Tomas Morato on May 13, Selina Gecolea, general manager of the Philippine office of United International Pictures, announced that DreamWorks gave Concepcion the green light to record the movie's theme song. "On every single screening of 'Kung Fu Panda' in the Philippines, Sam's version of 'Kung Fu Fighting' will be played during the end credits of the film," Gecolea said. Here's a photo of Gecolea with Concepcion. "Kung Fu Panda," which features the voices of big Hollywood celebrities like Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman, is about a big clumsy panda named Po, a kung fu fan who was chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy alongside five legendary kung fu masters. Here I am (left) posing with Po and INQUIRER.net multimedia reporter Erika Tapalla. The original version of the theme song that will be used in the movie was recorded by US band Gnarls Barkley's frontman CeeLo Green. An Asian version was also recorded by Korean pop star Rain, but UIP Philippines took the opportunity to nominate a local talent who can sing the song for the movie's Philippine release. Concepcion’s version of the song will be included on the limited edition Asian recording of the movie's original soundtrack, giving him the international exposure he deserves. The song's music video, directed by Marie Jamora, was shot in an authentic Chinese temple and will be released soon. Sam, who played Troy in the local adaptation of Disney's "High School Musical," was the perfect pick not only because of his talent but also because of his wholesome image. Besides being a pop star, he is also currently a youth spokesperson for the Department of Education. He said that everything happened so fast, from studying the song to submitting a demo, and before he knew it, he was recording the final version of the song. “Everything just fell into place after that. It's really great to be a part of this highly anticipated movie. It's an honor to be the first local artist to sing the theme song. This is a first for me, in terms of doing something international,” he said. The young star said it is hard to explain how happy and excited he is about the project, but at the same time he hopes that more local artists can make it internationally. "Sana more doors will open for other Filipino artists. There is so much talent that needs to be recognized," he said.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net PINOYXBOX is one of the most prominent console-based gaming forums in the Philippines and is also one of the oldest, having been an offshoot of PinoyExchange. It boasts of 4,000 members, the majority of whom are from the Philippines though some based in other countries. It is pretty much a close-knit society, especially with the availability of Xbox Live, which allows Filipinos to play with or against each other and other nationalities. Husband and wife Philip and Joanne Ortiz are among the moderators of PinoyXbox. They regularly check out the online activities of their members and get loads of information themselves from members. In one particular thread, there were members who stumbled upon Xbox 360 titles and equipment in a warehouse in Mandaluyong City. The two accidentally found an entire RockBand set that they bought for less than half the price in regular shops. Normally, a RockBand set, which consists of a guitar controller, drum set, microphone and the RockBand title, would sell at around P13,000. Here's the video I took of Philip and Joanne, who share some of their experiences as PinoyXbox moderators and Xbox 360 players. "You get loads of information from the users and many of them share their own experiences with others. It's a pretty tight group," Philip said. Xbox Live also enjoys a robust community of Filipino members, most of whom are from PinoyXbox. There are Filipino groups for Halo 3, NBA 2K8, and Call of Duty 3. Philip said there is already a group of Filipino "gangsters" playing Grand Theft Auto IV on Xbox Live. Offline, the group has a few eyeball parties where they also compete with each other in certain games. In their last EB in 2007, they were joined by members who lived abroad. Philip also said the group is getting the attention of such companies as Microsoft Philippines and the organizers of the upcoming World Cyber Games Philippines. Joanne for her part said that one of the advocacies of PinoyXbox is to have their members play only original titles. "With the prevalence of pirated discs, there are opportunities for Xbox 360 owners to play pirated discs instead of original. There is little risk there but they don't see the value of the people who work hard in making these games." Incidentally, here's a video I took of Joanne her brother Rafael Formoso playing Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock on the Xbox 360 on its highest difficulty setting. This, along with the interview with Philip and Joanne, was taken during the WCG Philippines press conference. The song title is "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by Steve Ouimette. Editor's note: Videos taken by INQUIRER.net community evangelist Alex Villafania.
CHECK out the latest "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" trailer, courtesy of Solar-UIP Philippines.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net DESPITE the Philippines not winning a single award in the World Cyber Games Grand Final in the last seven years, Samsung Electronics Philippines and Intel Philippines said they will continue supporting the local activities of the WCG, hoping that eventually, gaming tournaments in the country will become a respected spectator sport and produce professional gamers. Intel Philippines country manager Ricky Banaag said the gaming community is heading toward that direction with gaming shops purchasing more powerful PCs that could run resource-intensive games. He added that many local tournaments are being conducted, indicating a growing community of semi-professional gamers. "Our latest processors are aimed toward the gaming industry and we see that the demand is high. Hopefully more gamers will see themselves competing in a tournament level," Banaag said. For his part, Samsung Philippines general manager for Marketing Jerry Lacson said the company believes it takes a while to nurture professional-level gamers and that by continuing to back WCG Philippines, more companies will become interested in supporting Filipino gamers. He also belied misconceptions that gaming has few beneficial purposes and said that the company is promoting responsible gaming. Organized by eSports, WCG Philippines 2008 will include Counter-Strike 1.6, WarCraft III: Frozen Throne, Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath, and Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock tournaments. The eight winners in these games will be sent to Cologne, Germany for the WCG 2008 Grand Final. A contingent will also be sent to Singapore for the Asian Cyber Games that will include Defense of the Ancients, Need for Speed ProStreet, Guitar Hero III and Virtua Fighter 5 competitions. The WCG Philippines preliminaries will start on May 17 and provincial eliminations will be held in Davao and Cebu.
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net THE RESURGENCE of interest of the online gaming community in a five-year-old game boosted revenues of local online game publisher Level Up! Philippines during the first quarter of 2008, a top executive told hackenslash. Level Up! CEO Jane Walker confirmed in a telephone interview that the company earned about P77 million in net revenues during the first quarter of 2008. In an earlier financial briefing, executives of ePLDT, the Internet subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), reported that the online gaming service revenues of Level Up! Philippines grew by 27 percent to P77 million. Walker said gross revenues of Level Up! Philippines, however, have reached more than P100 million, despite the closure of several online games in 2007 and this year. Level Up! Philippines pulled the plug on Rose Online in 2007, and Khan and PangYa this year. Khan was taken out after its developers stopped supporting the game. PangYa was seen to have not generated much interest from local players, said Walker. "[PangYa] was not a profitable game. We didn't believe in the longevity of the game in the Philippines," she said. To date, Level Up! now runs five online games, namely Ragnarok, RF Online, Flyff, Freestyle, and Perfect World. Walker said two more online games are set to be released this year. One will be a "high-traffic" game that will be announced in two weeks, she said. Walker declined to comment on whether the local game publisher remains the leading company in the market. But she pointed out that Level Up! has seen about 50,000 stable concurrent users every month, and close to a million active users. With the holding of the Ragnarok World Championship in the Philippines in October, Walker said the interest in the five-year-old game is at its highest again, following a slump. "It also helped that we introduced free-to-play," she added, referring to Ragnarok. It is the first time that the Ragnarok World Championship is going to be held outside South Korea. Asked about the prospects of online gaming in the country, Walker said the industry is still promising this year, given the good growth of revenues and number of users last year. She said that for Level Up!, fierce competition will lead to more people playing online games.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net COMIC books still appeal to many people, collectors and non-collectors alike. And if there's one thing that everyone loves, it's freebies and what more can make a comic book fan happier than free comics? At the Free Comic Book Day celebration at Comic Odyssey in Robinsons Galleria, comic book enthusiasts lined up just to grab copies of the comic books. The event, which is an annual activity for Comic Odyssey, is aimed at reinvigorating the comic book collection community. In an interview, Azrael Coladilla, co-organizer of the Free Comic Book Day celebration at Comic Odyssey, said dozens of titles were available during the event, including DC and Marvel comics. "Comic Odyssey had stocks that also needed to be disposed so those were also given away as part of Free Comic Book Day," he said. Coladilla also said this was the first time their event was live-streamed through the Internet, enabling people abroad to watch. Another highlight of the event was the presence of renowned Filipino comic book artists Gerry Alanguilan and Edgar Tadeo, who were there to sign autographs and create sketches of visitors. Alanguilan, in particular, was signing copies of Graphic Classics, which were given away to the first 200 people who attended the event. This issue of Graphic Classics features art and cover by Alanguilan. Check out this video interview with Alanguilan. Coladilla said the event will become a regular activity as long as there are comic book enthusiasts in the Philippines. Editor's note: Videos taken by INQUIRER.net community evangelist Alex Villafania.
A REPLICA of the legendary Mach 5 from the upcoming live-action film "Speed Racer" is on display at the Rockwell Center. The car comes complete with Yokohama tires and a cockpit although the gauges are stickers on the dashboard. Video taken by INQUIRER.net community evangelist Alex Villafania.
By Relly Carpio INQUIRER.net AFTER THREE years, Khan, the fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game of Level Up! Inc. has closed its gates. Launched in September 2004, under netGames, which later merged with Level Up!, Khan Online went commercial in 2005. According to the open letter presented by Level Up! to its "Khanatics," they decided to "discontinue the contract for Khan which will expire on April 30, 2008, due to the lack of developer support, no new content, and patch fixes for in-game exploits/bugs." Level Up! gave out a migration package for its Khan players for entry into Perfect World, and compensation by giving extra MyLU Credits to loyal Khan players with reimbursement of all remaining in-game money and game time. The servers were officially shut on May 1 at 9 a.m. A Khan Online Philippines tribute site may be found here.
By Relly Carpio INQUIRER.net TIMEZONE has unveiled its newest driving game at the recently concluded Celebrity Open held at the Trinoma Activity Center -- Sega's Ford Racing: Full Blown. Here is a video interview I conducted with Timezone Philippines president and general manager Raffy Prats. The video also gives a sneak peek at Ford Racing: Full Blown. The game features various cars from Ford Motors Co. These are categorized into Classic, Modern, Racing/Touring, Concept, and Off-Road. Examples of some of the cars included are the 1965 Mustang Mach 1, the Focus 2003, the GT 500, the Shelby Mustang Concept, and the Ford trucks. Prats mentioned that they currently have eight units, with four tentatively going to the SM Megamall branch of Timezone. As of this writing, they are still determining whether the other four units will end up in TriNoma, Glorietta or the Mall of Asia. Since hackenslash was there, we decided to give it a whirl after the celebrities had their fun with it. The game has the following controls: a force feedback steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, and a tiptronic transmission short shift knob, that is located on the seat for some reason. There are three buttons on the left side: Start, View, and Credit. The gameplay itself took a bit of getting used to as with all driving simulators. But after I spun out with the GT 500 I realized that it might not be the machine, but rather my driving. So on my next go I got one of the modern hatchbacks of Ford rather than the GT 500 and soon enough after a rough start, I was driving pretty well. It was my driving style, my bad. The tracks featured varied terrains and the great thing with the force feedback wheel was that whenever you hit a little dirt, the vibrations mimicked the real thing, and when you end up using the dirt as a shortcut, the effect on the car is the same; at a certain speed, you will spin out. And spin out a lot I did -- my bad, trying to use a 500 horsepower machine like a tractor, plowing across grass at over a hundred miles per hour! There is a left foot rest at the pedals. Those who drive an automatic know that this is a very important addition to the car when its transmission is automatic, as having a foot rest for your left foot which does nothing most of the time when driving an automatic, is actually relaxing. For those who don't drive, it's a rule for normal driving that the left foot is never ever used for stepping on the brakes. The surroundings and background are pretty dynamic, and there is a feeling of motion as the tracks have great scenic effects including lens flares and sunlight reflecting on the cars themselves. Each car handles differently, which adds a certain amount of realism to the game. Cars that can handle rougher terrain don't have problems when they slip out of the road a little, while the performance cars spin out easily on rough patches. There is a single-player mode and the linked multiplayer mode, which as far as I saw can handle up to six linked units. The artificial intelligence of the game is relentless but not indestructible. What might be a difficult thing to master is the shift knob found on the seat. Not all these cars originally had tiptronic shifting and it felt strange to use it with the Mustang Mach 1, but it was all right with the GT 500. As far as the roster of Timezone driving games goes, this is a great addition. Instant gratification is a good thing for those virtual drivers feeling the need… the need for speed.