The history of gnomes in games is, like gnomes themselves, short and pathetic. Gordon Freeman's got fired into space, then reappeared as Gnome Chompski in Left 4 Dead. Bully's idle fisher gnomes got smashed to dust so Jimmy could wear a gnome suit. WoW's gnomes are basically wannabe hobbits. And Risen? Risen turned our beloved garden ornaments into grotesque fat pig-goblin-thieves which you slaughtered by the hundred.
Meeting the original minelayers, and those who keep sweeping.
Is the resurgence of old-school RPGs down to more than simple nostalgia?
You already know about the bizarre shift Red Faction Armageddon has made from Guerilla's worthy socialist plot to an "alien invasion". Basically, folks (that's you) seemed to think imposing the story of Das Kapital on a "blowing-stuff-up" shooter held the same socialist fascination as monkey-suited Ed Miliband explaining how he's against cuts whilst in favour of cuts whilst making cross-eyed faces like he's crapping himself, and oh God that BORING voice...
As a writer, sometimes you're glad when things aren't published. About a month ago I wrote a preview piece for Eurogamer based on the Magicka beta - but the 3DS reveal took over, so we held off running it.
I'm so stupid. With my review account for Bloodline Champions, Funcom included some in-game cash so I could see what spending money in the game was like. With all the restraint of a Casablancan libertine, I wisely invested it in sex-change outfits, a character portrait and some weapons with faces on. Now they've released a frog suit for the Ranid Assassin. It's Kermit with knives and it's 3000 Funcom coins, 30,000 in-game coins, 18 Euros or one kidney to you and me.
Amidst the dusty annals of video gaming, there are games only mentioned in hushed tones. There are games that are traded in back-alleys, games where the few extant copies are guarded by hooded, pale-faced men who worship the old gods Mintah, Ammygah and Com O'door. Games where only one person has ever played it, and he whispers its plot endlessly from his isolated, padded rooms in Bedlam...
There will be unavoidable nepotism in this review. The UK games community has got so tiny over the years that only developers who deliberately shun the limelight, or (as games industry myth tells tale) deny their workers internet connections and phones, and site themselves in the arse-end of nowhere, are unknown to the welcoming and judgemental circle of UK games writers. When it comes to UK indie developers, like Introversions or Zombie Cow, they pretty much make you know them. I will therefore admit to knowing Dan and Ben, the scriptwriters and narcississistic heroes of this game. However, as my nearest and dearest will attest, I'm pretty much a sociopath with no social skills and face no problems in offending people I know and like, and so I hereby declare that joyously imagining their weeping, betrayed faces when they see the number at the end will have no impact on my review.
My first captain of infinite space got his oversized hat inextricably caught in a low-hanging tree. The second saviour of the known universe got atomised by an exploding custard pie he dropped on his foot. By the time I restarted the training mission, for the third attempt, I was prepared to give up the whole idea of user-generated content as a bad joke. After all, if the Maxis Illuminati couldn't make a mission, the first tutorial in the game, that didn't piss you off entirely, how could they expect anyone else to?
I've enjoyed many horrendous dreams through years of game-induced sleep-deprivation, but I've never had such a stupid nightmare as "trying to launch a multiplayer-only game which doesn't work in multiplayer". Yet that's what the Gas Powered Games boys, and their loyal fans, have had to put up with for the past month. If faith was ever panhandled, this beggars belief.
Last night, I travelled home angry. I nicked a seat on the tube, I bullied stumblebums out of my way; I was generally a bundle of passive-aggressive geekery. Why? Not because my day had been bad or because I'd messed up in the office. It was because the Chancellor (boss) of my Convergence (guild) had kicked me out, after I'd pressed the "mistrust" button on Dreamlords' rudimentary web interface.
With Battle.net, Diablo and WOW behind them, it's probably fair to suggest that PC gamers have spent more millions of hours on Blizzard's games than any other company's. Which is mental. With that in mind, we recently spent an hour chatting to three team leads on the original, now all working inside Blizzard on StarCraft II.
If you're not so enchanted with decapitation, burly men in thongs and the low (cut) fantasy of Age of Conan, how about popping over to Middle Earth for a bit of posturing high fantasy? Following our two chats with producer Jeffrey Steefel, we've knocked up a few tips for the classes of Lord of the Rings Online. If you fancy starting belatedly, this is a good way of getting an overview of the classes, and an idea of what role they play in a group. We've ordered them in increasing order as to how many of the developers at Turbine play as them, a sort of top ten of the best. Except it's actually a top 9, as there's only 9 classes.
Last week, we interviewed Lord of the Rings Online executive producer Jeffrey Steefel about Book 13, the next major content update for Turbine's splendid Tolkien MMO. Today, in part two of our interview, we shoot the breeze on a broader range of topics: how they're handling the lore, how they can improve the game's lacklustre player-versus-player, what the plans are for other platforms, why EVE Online is great, and who wants to be an Ent, anyway?
When you've got as much material to deal with as the Turbine boys have with the Tolkien legendarium (we're using the poncey word for his mythos out of pure pretention), then you'd think there would be no need to create whole new realms for players to explore. Yet the new books of Lord of the Rings Online - updates to you and I - are mostly exploring areas on the edge of the books, stuff that was barely written about. The upcoming Book 13 is a pertinent example, seemingly extrapolating from a single paragraph in one of the books an entire culture, environment and array of foes. We spoke to Jeffrey Steefel, executive producer on LOTRO, about what they're planning for Book 13 and what new mechanics they're introducing to the game.
If you cast your mind back to last April, you might remember something curious about the launch of Lord of the Rings Online: how smooth it was. There were very few bugs, despite the usual array of gameplay complaints, and a straight 9/10 score from our resident hardman Rob. No launch had been so professional in the MMO world since World of Warcraft's. And, unlike its near-contemporary Auto Assault, LOTRO is still going; in fact the number of people playing has been rapidly increasing. So what's changed since then, and why is it drawing new gamers in?