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Download This Demo: Unity of Command

One of the best strategy/wargames of the year, or maybe the past few years, is now available in demo form on both PC and Mac. Unity of Command is a wonderful piece of game design and you really need to give it a whirl.

Remember, even the esteemed Jon Shafer thinks so too.

Don’t be intimidated by that screenshot, this is a streamlined design that is a step up from Panzer General but not super detailed like a chit-based wargame. It’s excellent.

You can buy Unity of Command direct from Gamersgate for $29.99 and is worth every penny.

Resonance Available for Pre-order

I don’t actually know much about Resonance, except that it’s a new point-and-click adventure from xii games and Wadjet Eye Games, publisher of Gemini Rue, and it features voice-work from Logan Cunningham (aka Bastion’s narrator). Oh, and the trailer has a quote from Forbes.com, which means…something, I guess. Still, I’m a sucker for classically-inspired adventure games, and this one is looking mighty tempting.

Resonance is set to release June 19, but you can currently choose from two flavors of pre-orders, including a boxed collector’s edition for $24.99, or the digital-only version for $8.99 through GOG.com.

Craving More Guild Wars 2

If you bought into the hype of a wholly re-imagined MMO, Guild Wars 2 will likely spark a tinge of disappointment, but it’s a temporary affliction. MMO-players have certain expectations, and some staples of the genre work just as they are, so trashing all of that ‘just because’ would probably amount to video game suicide.

While most MMO developers focus on giving familiar features a unique spin, ArenaNet is re-examining the core purposes and implementations of those features. It’s a subtle, but very important difference.

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Blizzard Offers Apology; Real Money Auction Delayed

In case you didn’t notice, the Diablo 3 servers are down again today for “maintenance.” So my plan of playing some Diablo 3 this morning before getting into my workday has been shuttered, forcing me to actually read emails, reply to emails, and finish up E3 scheduling (I hate E3 scheduling). How long will the servers be down? Who knows? Blizzard said it was to be from 4:00AM to 7:00AM PDT.

When you buy an MMO you expect this sort of thing as it goes with the territory but it didn’t have to be this way for Diablo 3. In speaking to Todd yesterday he made a great point. I remember because that doesn’t happen every day.

This is less about Diablo. People are going to jump through hoops to play Diablo because it’s Diablo. It’s an “event” game. However, this will most assuredly affect the next new Blizzard IP if the company tries to pull this online nonsense off again with a game that isn’t built specifically for online play. I’ll be your monkey to play Diablo. But not the next game.

Of course I have no idea if Todd really means that, but I’m willing to bet there are going to be people who remember this launch because I’m looking at a $60 piece of software I cannot use until Blizzard says it’s ok to do so. Will all of these hiccups get worked out in the coming weeks? I hope. I think they will. But that’s not really the point though is it?

At least Blizzard has acknowledged this. The company released a statement asking for patience.

…we’d also like to say that we’ve been humbled by your enthusiasm — and we sincerely regret that your crusade to bring down the Lord of Terror was thwarted not by mobs of demons, but by mortal infrastructure. As many of you are aware, technical issues occurring within hours after the game’s launch led to players experiencing error messages and difficulty logging in. These issues cropped up again last night for the Americas and Europe servers. Despite very aggressive projections, our preparations for the launch of the game did not go far enough.

Full statement is below:

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Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Beta & Trailer

While I am still (slowly) tooling around with Endless Space, let us not forget the beta for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, which you can play by pre-ordering the game from Stardock. This is becoming quite the fad it seems – this whole pre-order/play the beta deal which really I like a hell of a lot more than the, “Pre-order from Gamestop/Amazon/Target and get a neato piece of armor or a pew-pew laser gun that causes +5 damage” scheme.

Of course here you are literally paying to beta test the game but you sort of know that going in, right?

Anyway, Sins was (and is) a great game so I see no reason why not to jump in and support Rebellion. We’ll have some folks from Ironclad on the podcast soon. Should be fun.

Redux: Dark Matters Dreamcast-bound

NG:DEV.TEAM is at it again. Known for creating hardcore games for retro systems (eg Gun Lord and Last Hope), the developer is teaming up with Rene Hellwig and KTX Software to create a new shmup for the Sega Dreamcast. Some might question the decision to develop a game for a bygone system, but the team has already blown past its Kickstarter goal in one week, leading to possible releases on other platforms.

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Soren Johnson on Why He’s Left EA for Zynga

Chalk up another designer heading to the foothills of social game design. This GI Biz piece lays it all out there as to why the designer of Civ IV will be setting up shop at a Farmville near you. This is worth a read, and Soren is such a nice guy — I personally wish him nothing but success.

Here’s a big takeaway and is something we continue to talk about here at NHS. This sort of says it all:

Q: You’re the latest in a string of former EA employees to join Zynga. What do you think this says about EA and what does it say about Zynga?

Soren Johnson: The shift we’re seeing with industry talent moving towards social and mobile games illustrates the challenges of the old model. That model demands selling a $60 box product, which requires exceptionally high production values to sway the consumer. Of course, AAA production means development costs measured in the tens (or perhaps hundreds) of millions of dollars, which then requires a game to sell at least several million copies at the $60 price to be worth developing. This business model can work, but the margins are not great, and they keep getting worse as development costs increase and retail sales soften.

Diablo III Impressions – Has it Been Oversimplified?

Along with about a billion other hosers, I picked up Diablo III yesterday and have given it a few hours of play time, basically enough to face off against the game’s first “big” boss, the Skeleton King, and then a couple of extra quests besides. I’m not remotely ready to start talking in absolutes about this game and I haven’t tried any multiplayer yet, but I do have some initial impressions to share.

Back in February –good god, was it that long ago?– I posted some thoughts and concerns after having played through the beta. Much of what I wrote there remains true. At its heart, this is just more Diablo. You run around with pointy weapons (or clobber’n weapons, or missile weapons, or spells) and you kill things by clicking the left and right mouse buttons over and over again until your fingers cramp up, decay into blackened dried out husks, and then blow away like dust as soon as you encounter a stiff breeze. This is not your go-to game if you’re looking for a revolutionary leap forward in general gameplay. How much the smaller touches and nuances and changes to some general mechanics change the balance of play I’m not comfortable saying just yet…

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The Diablo 3 NoHS Battle Tag Exchange

So I finally got this damn game to work. Turns out my issue was not related to the floodgates opening and the servers burning. My issue was …odd.

If you do get the wily error code 315300, you can fix it by:

1. Cursing Blizzard in a ceremony of your choosing (do not harm any animals, please) for forcing you to be online and dealing with this nonsense if you want to play Diablo III by your lonesome.

2. Deleting your Battle.Net and Blizzard directories in your Programdata folder.

3. Create a new admin profile for Windows. Login with that profile, fire up Diablo III, start killing demons.

(You can now delete the new admin profile.)

So, seeing as how I have to be online to play this thing, let’s see if we can’t organize and get some No High Scores team action going.

Slap your Battle Tag in this here post if you’d like to play. I have no idea if you need the # after the name but in any case hare the IDs for both Todd and me:

TheAbner#1644
ubrakto#1464 

I’ll put this over on the right sidebar for future reference.