By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.NET Mobiusgames, the online gaming division of Digital Media Exchange (DME), has launched Season 4 patch for its flagship title MU Online. The patch is a sudden jump from the current Season 2 of MU Online. The patch would have several new features including a better laid-out user interface, new quests, a third wing for each of the character classes, a new female character for the Summoner class, 48 new items and weapons, among others. Along with the launch of the new patch, Mogiusgames will also be holding game spormos, such as an upgrade system and a raffle that could win players new weapons and armor. These will run from September 15 to October 15.
September 2009 Archives
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.NET SINGAPORE - By all accounts, this year’s Games Convention Asia is toned down as there seems to be fewer participation of gaming companies, perhaps affected by the weak global economic crisis that detracted people from spending. The annual event – already in its third year – was organized by the Leipziger Messe International (LMI) Asia, whose parent company operates the Games Convention in Europe. Citing a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, LMI CEO Wolfgang Marzin said Asian gaming companies were indeed affected by the economic crisis, like other industries in the region. According to Marzin, global consumer spending has lessened on all games, be it console, handheld, PC and online games. But Marzin also said Asian firms are more resilient against the effects and will see some growth in the coming years, again citing the PricewaterhouseCoopers report. The PricewaterhouseCoopers report said the global trend for the gaming and digital entertainment market for the year will remain weak until 2010 but will only start to pick up by 2011. But the report also pointed out that the Asia Pacific region will be among the fastest growth areas for gaming and digital entertainment, growing 4.5 percent every year and reaching US$413 billion by 2013. Consumer spending on gaming and other firms of digital entertainment is forecast to grow at least 7.1 percent every year. Hybrid games, anyone? Even with lesser game time for people, there is still demand for innovation in the game development industry. One of the big topics in this year's Games Convention Asia was developing hybrid-type games that combined elements from established genres. For example, titles developed by Gas Powered Games combined elements of role playing and strategy. These include “Supreme Commander” and “Demigod.” Gas Powered Games Founder Chris Taylor said having innovations in the gaming business keeps people interested to try out new titles, while trying to compare these existing and familiar genres. Such interest fuels better innovations from the developers, fueling more interest from players, which effectively makes the game development business more profitable. “Players might get bored with the same old gaming style. They have to be interested in something new. But developing a new type of game isn’t easy, nor does it come cheap," Taylor said. "But the outcome, especially if the product is a hit, is as much a reward already for the developer,” he added. Gaming's newest platform One platform that has seen an explosion in demand for gamers and game developers alike is Apple's iPhone device. Even Filipino game development companies are starting to create games for the iPhone. Game Development Association of the Philippines (GDAP) Board Member Paul Gadi became part of a panel discussion on the iPhone as a gaming platform during the GCA. He noted that more than just the fancy features of the iPhone, its unique touch screen and motion sensitivity makes it appealing as a gaming platform. He also said the iPhone’s development software kit is friendly enough for developers to create games. Filipino developer Anino Games is one of the local companies that are hoping to jump into the iPhone development bandwagon. It created the game “Turbo Subs” that already became a hit on the iPhone. Not surprisingly, Anino was the first game development firm in the Philippines focusing initially on the PC. Console power Gaming consoles are a good measurement for the success of gaming. The higher sales of consoles means the industry is doing well. But having a regional office solely dedicated to one console means the device also has a huge potential beyond current sales. Erik Ford is the senior marketing manager for Microsoft’s Southeast Asian Entertainment and Devices Division, which sells games for Microsoft Windows as well as the Xbox 360 console. Ford said that sales of the console have grown steadily in the Southeast Asian region, despite problems with piracy of Xbox 360 games. In particular, Asian traffic in the Xbox Live network has also grown to 269 percent (he would not give exact figures). Ford noted that the growth is due to the availability of online components of many of their games, which required the use of an original game. “Xbox Live is a critical differentiator versus competition. It also makes people value original games because they can go online and play with their friends,” Ford said. Reinventing Lara Croft Even with different platforms vying for the attention of gamers, development firms shall and always will be primarily content developers working on products that can be delivered to any platform. The choice of which platform to bring their games has many factors, one of which is the potential for the market. One icon of the gaming industry that has spanned different platforms and crossed to different forms of media is buxom game character Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider series. But after more than 10 years, questions linger if Lara Croft has still more going on for her. In an interview, Ian Livingstone, president of Tomb Raider series creator Eidos Interactive said they are looking at ways to innovate Lara Croft and continue making her appealing to her old fans as well as new ones. “It can be in a different platform like the iPhone but what’s important is how Lara Croft can continue engaging the player,” Livingstone said.
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net SINGAPORE - Nobody gets tired of a good racing game especially if it gives the player total control over the entire car's functionality. At the 2009 Games Convention Asia (GCA) in Singapore there was a deluge of racing sims that undoubtedly tried to outdo each other both in the gameplay and graphics. Two of the racing sims were Turn10's much-anticipated Forza 3 Motorsport for the Xbox 360, which is considered perhaps as the most realistic racing simulator for the console. Forza 3 is being put in the same plane as the upcoming Gran Turismo 5 for the PlayStation 3. The Microsoft Xbox booth at the GCA was huge and featured no less than a dozen Xbox 360 consoles featuring the latest games. The most notable, of course, was the Forza 3 set up that included a racer seat, a wireless steering wheel and three LCD screens. The widescreen TVs are best used for the in-car view, which lets the player see the car's dashboard and virtual steering wheel. In an interview, Turn10 Content Director John Wendl said the new in-car view would give hard-core racing simulation fans the closest they could get to a real driver experience. Aside from the new view, he said the company made Forza 3 even more realistic by adding new tire physics that will make the car go on a roll; the game also has 10 times the number of polygons to make the cars more realistic; players can also paint the cars; and there are new cars in the game such as the Audi R8 (the same one driven in the Iron Man movie). Wendl also noted that the game will be compatible with the new Fanatec ultrarealistic racing wheel, which will compete with Logitech's G25. The Fanatec controller will have 900 degree turning radius, a clutch, and an H-shift. But Turn10 only showed the demo version of Forza at GCA, with only about a dozen cars and three tracks. Nevertheless, the experience of driving the R8 using a steering wheel was something new. Not to be outdone, Electronic Arts doubled up its efforts by showcasing Need for Speed Shift (NFSS) and Need for Speed Nitro (NFSN), two games targeted at different audiences and different consoles. The NFSS is for the Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows while the NFSN is for the Wii. EA overhauled the gameplay for NFSS and made it more realistic than the arcade racing style that the series is known for. A professional mode is available to make the game more realistic and as such, would require an ultra-realistic steering wheel such as the Logitech G25. Of course, the arcade racing style is still there and would only require a controller, which would not make a player feel any better than if he had a steering wheel. Too bad they didn't' have that in GCA. Still, the graphics for NFSS is equally impressive and the audio - provided there is an available surround-sound system - gives players the closest they could get to be inside a racing car. One nifty addition to NFSS is the blurred vision whenever a driver hits a wall or bumped by another car. This makes the player feel like a nauseous driver after a bad crash. NFSN, on the other hand, goes back to the series' arcade roots. Because it is only available on the Nintendo Wii console and DS handheld NFSN can be enjoyable to younger people. The graphics for this game is cartoony with real-life cars simulated to look like they came out of a drawing. Controlling the cars are nowhere close to the real thing. As it is, NFSN is more of a kiddie game than for the serious gamer. The racing game genre is getting a little crowded these days especially with some of the major game developers getting into the fray. The upcoming Gran Turismo 5 will essentially fuel the competition among racing game developers. The GCA is but one of the places where these companies will try to outpace - if not outrace - each other. Obviously, the racing simulation market will continue to grow and for sure, the realism will increase.
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.NET MAKATI, Philippines –Refreshed after months of hiatus Philippine online game publisher E-Games is going on a launch spree with the introduction of two games in a single week. The first game is a major massively multiplayer online game (MMORPG) entitled Runes of Magic, which combines elements from several genres, including World of Warcraft, Warcraft III: Defense of the Ancients, and The SIMS. It was launched last September 9, coinciding the date (090909) with a thematic apocalyptic approach. Runes of Magic is developed by Taiwan-based Runewaker. E-Games Vice Products Vice President Heidi Anne Mendita-Garayblas said they are currently opening for alpha testing alpha testing and will have the open beta test in October, with the game to go commercial before the end of the year. The second game would be launched on September 11 and would be entitled Operation 7, the company’s first shooter game. OP7 is currently on open beta testing. During the press conference of Runes of Magic E-Games President Gil Edeza said the new MMORPG would be targeted at new and existing players from their current MMORP line up as well as from competing titles. He notes the game would have the gameplay elements for serious gamers while also being easy for first-time MMORPG players. During a previous press conference Enrique Gonzalez, president of IPVG (parent firm of e-Games), they are looking to strengthen their content divisions, particularly on online games. E-Games contributed P121 million in revenues to IPVG during the first half of 2009, second only to IPVG’s communications division, which contributed P557 million. Overall, IPVG pegged P762 million in consolidated net revenues for this period. Gonzalez also noted that while their communications business remains to be their biggest revenue contributor, online games would be the fastest growing segment of their business.
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.NET MANILA, Philippines -- New online game publisher Run Up Interactive Inc. is eyeing a bigger share in the casual gaming market, a sector that is seen to be the more appealing and lucrative compared to more serious games. During the launch of its first game in the Philippines, Luna Online, Run Up Operations Manager Kit Chan said the casual gaming market remains to be one of the bigger growth areas in the Philippines, with most online gamers playing casual games. Chan said they are confident enough company also plans to introduce about two more games in the coming months. Luna Online is developed by Korean firm EYA Interactive. Despite its more children’s cartoon graphics, it plays out like a hack-and-slash type massively multiplayer online game. The main focus, however, is more on community building. Players can form up into a “family” composed of a virtual father, mother, and three children. Families can also join up to form larger groups. There is also a farming mini-game in Lune Online wherein families manage a virtual farm to get more powerful rewards or credits. A dating system is also included in the game wherein players can be hooked up with each other based on region, age, likes and dislikes. There are also three character classes, either humans or elves, with different physical attributes. The characters can also show emoticons, some of which can also make characters do certain actions like dancing.