Starcraft 2 Announced
Starcraft 2 was announced this last week. Time to brush up on your Terran, Protoss and Zerg history!
FRAG! Feb/March, 2010
Goodman Games hasn't officially announced the product yet but it appears that they are working on a retro-clone RPG system. For those of you not into the world of pen and paper RPGs what this means is that the game system will closely resemble the early days of Dungeons and Dragons, back when it was called Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, as opposed to being a continued evolution.
Recently the retro-clone genre has become quite crowded. Several years ago the only retro-clone game was Castles and Crusades from Troll Lord Games but now you can't roll a d20 without hitting half a dozen (or more) retro-clone RPGs. It makes sense though since there was considerable backlash when fourth edition D&D came out, and for many older gamers trying to recapture the glory of the early years is more intriguing than playing a tabletop version of World of Warcraft.
"...many independent games try to keep the past alive."
The retro-clone system seeks to mimic the old game systems, which means the mechanics are fairly simplistic (and at times questionable), but the potential is limitless thanks to that same simplistic nature. This is what tends to drive new players to these systems. Having been fed up with the current mechanics players want to get back to the "pure" game, not the spreadsheet masquerading as a RPG. Even those looking for nostalgia look at the system first as something playable and secondly as that trip down memory lane.
I've been thinking about the abundance of retro-clone RPGs and whether there is anything similar in the world of digital gaming. There is, and it's independent gaming.
Just as retro-clone RPGs are meant to evoke the same type of gameplay you found in games decades ago many independent games try to keep the past alive. Take the indie CRPG scene for example. No one is trying to make the next Oblivion, but there are numerous developers making turn-based, stat heavy CRPGs just like what we grew up on.
A genre close to our heart, strategy, is another good example. winSPWW2 and winSPMBT hearkens back to the great turn based games we used to play on our PCs. The upcoming Star Legacy (if this is your first encounter with the name you'll find more information in the next section of the newsletter) is influenced by the great sci-fi 4X games of the past down to the point that graphics will be in -gasp-2D.
What's interesting is that many genres won't really work as a retro-game. Would anyone want to play a shooter like DOOM, with it's basic arcade action and hunt-the-keycard gameplay in today's world even with superb modern visuals? Or imagine a flight sim in 2010 consisting of wireframe polygons. We may have fond memories of F-15 Strike Eagle, but not that fond.
So while there's no question that retro-gaming is big in indie gaming, and there is a market for it, what does the future hold? Twenty years from now will we still be playing old school games? And what about gamers growing up today, what will their retro-games consist of? Are today's disposable games worthy of being mimicked two decades later?
Hello and welcome once again to the e-newsletter that asks no questions, tells no lies, and takes no prisoners! You may have noticed that this isn't the March newsletter and this isn't the February newsletter, rather it's the February-March newsletter. Frag! will go back to a monthly schedule next month, but for now enjoy this doublestuffed newsletter of joy.
Let's get started with the buzz from February.
In 2008 Goblin Slayer, a free print and play board game was released by Digital Eel, the creators behind the IGF award winning Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space. Goblin Slayer was a quaint game about the love between a dwarf and his axe. Featuring bloody tactical violence and simple mechanics, Goblin Slayer was a great little game for when the urge to slay goblins was upon you.
Goblin Slayer though was missing something though; color. Originally released in shades of gray slaying goblins had a definite '40s kind of movie vibe to it, which is okay, but let's face it everything is better in color. Imagine if Skittles were without color...not a pretty thought, is it?
Enter the works of Orlando Ramirez, James "One Monk" Hartman, and Andrew Tullsen. These fans used their artistic talents to bring Goblin Slayer to life with all new full color print and play goodies. We're talking full color modular game board pieces, full color stand up flats for the characters, and a full color cover. The twisted underground world of goblins has never looked so vibrant on your kitchen table!
How many dwarven kugerands would you pay for this awesomeness? Ten ducats? Twenty farthings? Fifty kroners? Keep your gold, for the upgrade pack costs the same price as the original Goblin Slayer-nothing! Yep, it's absolutely free! All you need is to download the upgrade pack and print and assemble its contents.
You'll find the art update download at our Free Games download page under Goblin Slayer. The upgade is only a few megs in size so there's no excuse for not grabbing a copy. And while on the page be sure to browse the complete collection of free games and download any that you may have missed.
Down your Goblin Slayer art upgrade pack here.
Now, for all you fans of the sci-fi 4X genre we have some very exciting news. Shrapnel Games has just signed a new developer, Star Legacy Development Group. SLDG is hard at work creating a brand new SF 4X title: Star Legacy.
Star Legacy may be the most comprehensive SF 4X title ever. This is a game in which the developers, all fans of the genre and in most cases having much experience already in modding SF 4X games, are taking everything they love about the genre and adding in everything they'd want to see in the genre. This promises to be a true gamer's game.
While extremely early in development at the highest level Star Legacy will feature everything you already expect to find in a SF 4X game. Players will lead one of multiple races in a quest for technology and exploration while battling all they come in contact with for ultimate victory.
As one drills down though Star Legacy's bullet point list continues to grow and grow, such as players having full design capabilities for starships. Everything in the game will be moddable right from the get-go using XML files. Graphics will be in 2D, allowing anyone to make the game look as they wish without needing specialized software. Multi-player will be supported, and the developers are examining what they can do with multi-player that will really make it special.
The open-ended turn based nature, along with the ease of modding, should make for a game that allows players to explore their imaginations without boundaries. If you can think it, and don't mind the work, you can make it. From space opera to technical science fiction, Star Legacy will be a game of endless possibilities and one that will stay on your hard drive for years to come.
Unfortunately you'll have to be patient. Currently Star Legacy is slated for possibly a late 2011 release. Hey, you know what they say...good things come to those that wait. At the moment it is aimed only at Windows, but the developers have expressed an interest in ensuring that it can be easily ported to other operating systems to the list may grow by release.
In the near future we'll introduce you to the developers, so look for that down the road. In the meantime be sure to stop by the official Star Legacy forum. Drop in to say hello and let the developers know what excites you about a sci-fi 4X game.
And that wraps up the February news. The March news, even though we're not even halfway through, has been pretty exciting.
Dominions 3: The Awakening has a new patch! Yes, the game that keeps on giving is still giving. Considering that it was released in 2006 and this is 2010, I think you'll agree that few developers are as dedicated to their games as Illwinter Game Design.
The latest patch brings all retail game versions up to 3.24 and includes the following:
- Eliminated nations are now also shown in the graphs.
- Spell AI improved regarding when to cast Arrow Fend, Gift of Flight and Legions of Steel.
- Could get some kind of mine even though all site slots were full--fixed.
- New monster modding commands: #inquisitor, #shatteredsoul, #banefireshield, #uwdamage, #popkill.
- *Some units like the vampire now actually takes damage from being underwater, just like they were supposed to.
- Description changed for Maggots to better correspond with its true effect.
- Djinn is now a unique monster.
- Increased maximum number of messages a player can send on a given turn.
- Fixed crash during turn generation.
- Support for PulseAudio on Linux.
- New resolutions! 1024*600 and 1024*576 (for netbooks).
- Dominions could crash when changing video preferences--fixed.
You can download the patch from the official product page.
On the subject of Dominions 3: The Awakening now is a good time to mention it can available to purchase as a download! Over the years we've gotten many requests for this to happen so hopefully this news will put a smile on a number of faces around the world.
The new downloadable edition of Dominions 3: The Awakening goes hand in hand with the news of our newly upgraded official online store, the Gamers Front. The upgrade has been in the works for a couple months now and with most of the dust now settled we are very happy to present you guys and gals with a wonderful new shopping experience.
The new Gamers Front has a number of great new features. Shopping has been made even easier than before, with the ability to easily sort through genre, format, OS, and more. We're now offering bundled savings, so if you purchase a core game and an expansion pack at the same you'll see an immediate savings. We have extended download services now and a product knowledge base. Our old reward system has morphed into a new reward credit system that gives you credits for future purchases. Members can create wishlists, personal reminders, and more with their account. We even have a classified ad section now that works just like it sounds. From selling the junk you found in the attic to employment opportunities, the classified section provides a little bit of everything.
Not all is new with the Gamers Front though. We still offer the same fast service as before, along with the support of a great customer service team.
Please take a few minutes to explore everything about the new Gamers Front. There's a lot to check out and we're sure you'll like your experience. Visit it here.
We'll see you again next month! Until then, good gaming!
The First World War was a conflict which laid the foundation for all conflicts to follow. It was during the war that the tank, machine gun, aircraft, and submarine all made their marks on the minds of military strategists everywhere.
While the aircraft carrier would later change the way naval warfare was fought it was the submarine that had the greatest impact immediately after the Great War. During WWI almost all navies had submarines but only the Germans truly used them in a truly effective manner. Launching 373 submarines, the German submarine arm sank 5,708 ships at a loss of 178 of their U-boats. Most other navies simply used submarines for scouting, not as a major offensive weapon.
Due to their lethalness when the war ended with the Versailles Treaty Germany was expressly forbidden to build any submarines. While they could not build new ones, the treaty had no rules against the Germans using their knowledge to build submarines for other nations, andadditionally there were no stipulations against building submarine parts. Only whole subs.
In 1922 Germany set up a corporation in Holland named Ingeniuer-Kantoor voor Scheepsbouw (I.v.S). I.v.S. was to design submarines for various nations, such as Finland and Turkey. Now, it just happened that I.v.S. was associated with the German arms manufacturer Krupps, and coincidentally all the information that passed through the home office of I.v.S. in Holland somehow managed to also flow back to Germany.
There were other ways the Germans were side-stepping the Versailles Treaty. Obviously before a sub could be sold to someone it had to be put to sea and tested for seaworthiness. Who better to test the sub than members of the German Anti-Submarine School (cheeky monkeys, those Germans, naming a submarine school an anti-submarine school)? And so students from the school went to Holland and test drove the submarines, resulting in of course real world experience. Soon the Anti-Submarine school was filled with highly experiences submariners.
Remember how the treaty didn't say anything about parts? Well, back in Germany the naval yards had to keep lots of spare parts laying around for all these subs being sold from Holland to other nations. After all, no one is going to buy a sub if when it breaks down it couldn't have been repaired, right? The fact that there were enough spare parts usually laying around that entire subs could be constructed from them was obviously just a fluke. Just like how many of the parts were for subs not even being sold but rather future designs. And those new sheds built at the Kiel
yards that would allow six subs to be thrown together at once? Nothing to see, move along.
In March 1935 Adolf Hitler formally renounced the Versailles Treaty. At this point the British and French were beginning to realize that Germany was rearming, but had no idea of just how rapidly this could be achieved. Hitler promised the British that he would keep the German submarine fleet at only 45% strength of the British submarine fleet which at the time numbered at 59. This was acceptable to the British as obviously building up the U-boats would take years, and in the meantime the Royal Navy would continue to grow.
Not so. In June 1935 the first German U-boat was launched from the Kiel Navy Yard. By the end of the month, thanks to all those spare parts in German naval yards, Kiel was putting a new U-boat out to sea every eight days!
Initial boats, the Type I and II, were coastal boats. Karl Donitz had been put in charge of the U-boat Fleet and saw the need for a blue-water force that could operate in packs, and thus the Type VII class boat was created. By the end of 1935 the U-boat arm was well under way to becoming a formidable force, and when war broke out in 1939 the Germans went to sea with 46 U-boats.
U-Boat Flotilla Designation/Home Area
1st/Germany, France after its fall
2nd/Germany, France after its fall
3rd/Germanry, France after its fall
4th/Germany (training unit)
6th/Germany, France after its fall
7th/Germany, France and Norway after their fall
8th/Germany (training unit)
19th-27th/Germany (training units)
31st/Germany (training unit)
32nd/Germany (training unit)
33rd/Germany, Far East
1, 162 U-boats were built during the Second World War. Only 156 were left at the end of the war (not all were lost to enemy action, as 221 were scuttled by their crews upon learning that they were to surrender).
For modern land warfare on the PC there is only one developer worth knowing and that's ProSIM. ProSIM are experts in the genre, so much so that professional organizations around the world use their simulations for real world training. And yes, make no mistake these are simulations, not games. Because of this some gamers may be nervous about diving head first into one of their titles, as it represents a completely different kind of game than they're used to. Yes, there is a learning curve but once learned the rewards are rich.
Battle Group Commander: Episode One is a perfect entry point into the world of ProSIM. As the title says this is actually the first episode in a multi-episode arc focusing on the British Battle Group. As an episodic title this essentially means that you get a lot of bang for your buck with plenty of gaming but at a reduced price.
Selling for only $14.95 Battle Group Commander: Episode One allows players to fight against a Soviet-style enemy at the United Kingdom's Salisbury Plain Training Area, one of the oldest military training areas in the world. Unlike the more expensive titles it only features four scenarios, but each scenario includes multiple AI plans of engagement ensuring that these four scenarios play out differently each time.
With the exception of the lack of a scenario editor Battle Group Commander: Episode One has all the pomp and circumstance of the bigger ProSIM titles. You can play against the computer or other live opponents, there is an extensive database of vehicles and weapons to command, maps are all based on real world digital elevation models, full manual and
tutorials, realistic combat and maneuver, and much more.
And once you've mastered Battle Group Commander: Episode One you'll be able to jump in any of the other ProSIM titles. At only $14.95 this is a great way to be introduced to the ProSIM way, and get many hours of enjoyment along the way. As a bonus you can even import the British unit database and the maps from the game into Air Assault Task Force if you wish.
Start your journey into the world of modern land battles with Battle Group Commander: Episode One.
For more information please visit its official product page.
It seemed like about every four or five months someone would pop up and inquire, "Hey, why can't we buy Dominions 3: The Awakening as a download? You sell everything else as a download, after all!" And our response was always, "We do, but we don't sell Dominions 3: The Awakening as a download. We may in the future, but not today."
Welcome to the future! Whether you need shades is a matter of debate.
Yes, finally Dominions 3: The Awakening is available to purchase as a download. Now even if you're stuck in some remote part of the world which only gets mail service once a year you can still get Dominions 3.
While we have officially announced this it doesn't hurt
to tell everyone you can that they can now get it as a download. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, pets, whoever will listen (and whoever has a credit card).
Get the new download from the Gamers Front here.
The physical product is of course still for sale, so if you want the joy of holding the beautiful 300+ page manual written by the legendary Dr. Bruce Geryk, don't worry, it can still be had.
Richard III: The Wars of the Roses (Columbia Games)
Sometimes you want to get away from panzer divisions sweeping across the Russian steppes in your gaming. I know, I know, madness! There's always plenty of American Civil War titles, and of course all the Nappy titles, but let's face it those eras can be just as overplayed as dubya dubya two. So how about gaming men in armor whacking each other with swords?
Richard III: The Wars of the Roses (henceforth simply Richard III) is a new block wargame from the guys who created the whole block genre way back when, Columbia Games. A game about the war for the English crown between the Yorks and Lancasters (George R.R. Martin uses the Wars as a basis for his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire) the game represents decades of bloody battle playable in a single session.
If you've played any of the recent Columbia Games titles the learning curve for Richard III is pretty much non-existent. Even if you've never played a Columbia block game this is one of the easiest wargames you'll encounter, with only a few pages of rules to learn and rather simple mechanics.
Designed for two players, one York and one Lancaster, at its core Richard III is a card-driven area movement wargame featuring standard IGOUGO turns. A game consists of three campaigns, each lasting seven turns. Between each campaign is a political phase which determines who holds the throne, the ultimate goal of the combatants.
During each campaign players are dealt seven cards and yes, that means each card is used for a turn in the campaign. Like most CDG the cards can either be used for Action Points, which allow the player to move units or recruit new units, or can be used for special events if the card calls for them. The majority of cards simply provide Action Points. These Action Points vary card to card, and deciding when the best time to use the particular number of Action Points is one aspect of the game's strategy the players will have to deal with.
The combat system is the same system found throughout Columbia Games titles. Attacking units are limited to attacking into a defender's area based on the border type they are crossing over, which often means that in order to match or exceed the defending forces one will haveto launch attacks from multiple regions. This means spending a good sum of Action Points, making the high value cards important when a player wishes to launch a major assault.
Combat takes place after both player's movement, and so there is a chance for the defender to move in more units to a battle. Attacking units pin down an
equal number of defending units, so defenders will never be able to flee instead of fighting. Combat is resolved by rolling a number of d6 equal to a unit's current strength and comparing the results to its attack rating. Each hit knocks an enemy block's strength down however many hits.
Battles don't take place simultaneously, but in a set order dictated by the rank of the unit. All units are ranked A through D, with A fighting before B, which fights before C, and so on. Furthermore, defending units fight before attacking units, which means that bringing a horde of C units to fighta throng of A units is not a wise idea. When units are eliminated some are permanently eliminated from the game while others can be recruited for the next campaign.
During the political phase whoever has the most nobles, along with other factors such as the church, takes the throne. Additionally, all units are replenished to full strength.
Richard III offers players some interesting decisions. First, there is the question of what card to play and when. Do you start the campaign with a bang? What cards do you hold to react to your opponent later in the campaign?
Then there's the combat system. Usually very damaging to both sides the threat of elimination is a powerful motivator for not going all out with the bloodshed. After all, your surviving noble houses are what help put you on the throne, and so the more that are permanently put down the harder it is to reign supreme. This is really tricky, as ultimately the most important noble count will be the last political phase. Trying to keep enough units alive by the end of the game, while at the same time trying to decimate your opponent whenever possible, is a deadly juggling act. It's not at all uncommon to see a bold player open the game strong, dominating the first campaign, only to lose in the end thanks to the attrition that then took place over the remainder of the game.
With a low unit count (typically a player will have about 15 units in play on a turn) and a fast moving combat system turns go by rapidly, allowing players to easily complete the game from opening the box to breaking down the game in just a few hours. Players have to think in terms of both immediate concerns and plan for the long term, which make for some great dynamics and provide for good replayability since there are always multiple strategies to try.
Richard III: The Wars of the Roses is a great game on a different subject than the usual grognard fare. And the fact that you don't need to devote more than an evening to finish the game is just icing on the cake.
As mentioned earlier our online store, the Gamers Front, has been upgraded to a much cooler shopping experience. The main address has changed so be sure to bookmark the new address: http://www.gamersfront.com/store/index.php
Well the top sellers for January and February were our evergreen titles: Dominions 3: The Awakening, Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, and winSPWW2 Enhanced. In January we also had a tie with War Plan Pacific's sales coming in neck and neck with winSPWW2. Aside from that and a difference in placement between months for winSPWW2 and Weird Worlds (in January winSPWW2 was in the number two spot and in February it was in the number three).
Anyone want to bet that next month Dominions 3: The Awakening is still in the top three? Still going strong after all these years...
The ultimate fantasy PBEM experience in Dominions 3: The Awakening.
Fight the PTO in three hours with War Plan Pacific.
This time it's war with winSPWW2 Enhanced.
Watch out for space hitchhikers in Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space.
The Gamers Front specials of the month can be found here.
For March we have Raging Tiger: The Second Korean War and Space HoRSE on sale.
Raging Tiger: The Second Korean War normally retails for $44.95 but it's on sale for only $39.95. It is available for Windows.
Raging Tiger: The Second Korean War is a hypothetical real time simulation of modern land combat on the Korean peninsula between US and ROK forces and the DPRK. As a ProSIM title it provides gamers with the ultimate combat experience outside of professional software (and indeed, ProSIM titles are used for professional military training). Command a wide variety of land forces as you battle across an accurate digital terrain model in an engaging campaign that can be played in any order desired. Scenario giving you a hard time? Simply skip it and move on. Multiplayer is supported as is the ability to create your own scenarios.
Armor, infantry, gunships, rugged terrain, Raging Tiger: The Second Korean War provides players with an interesting array of challenges and is a must-have for any fan of modern land combat wargaming.
Space HoRSE, which is available as both a download and a physical product, is a great homage to everyone's favorite non-violent four player game from the 1980s, M.U.L.E. Fans of that game will feel right at home with Space HoRSE's gameplay, while those that may not have grown up with 8-bit computers will enjoy the fast paced economic structure. Very easy to pick up, Space HoRSE is a great family game.
Space HoRSE is available for Windows and normally sells for $34.95. It's currently on sale for $29.95.
Monthly specials always begin at the first of the month and end with the last day, so be sure to check out the newest special when the calendar changes.
Okay, if you're into modeling (the plastic kind) or miniatures this is a pretty cool little application. Reaper, that great miniature company out of Texas, recently put on their site an online color matching tool. All you do is either submit a link to an image or upload an image to their server and then start clicking away at the picture. The application will then spit out the closest Reaper paint color to the area in which you're pointing.
Over here at Frag! we tried it with some Luftwaffe camouflage schemes and it seemed to do a decent enough job. Obviously there are a couple of limitations. First and foremost since it's from Reaper they will only show you Reaper paint matches. They have a wide enough selection but if you're into modeling you may be more used to other lines of paint such as Model Master, in which case you'll have to find an analogous paint. The other limitation is that while it's good it's not perfect. As the FAQ explains that due to how computers create colors there will be times when the color the tool tells you is just plain wrong.
Still, while not perfect it is generally helpful and much easier to work with than the usual method of picking out a color that's "close enough for government work."
Visit the site at:
Copyright © 2010 - Shrapnel Games, Inc.
All American: The 82nd Airborne In Normandy: 2010
Eat Electric Death! (Board game): Production Pending
News List (11-20 of 3,495)
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