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24 May 2012

ShootMania Trailer Revealed

** Sign up for the beta of ShootMania: Storm! **

Yesterday, Nadeo and Ubisoft unveiled the trailer for the upcoming installment in the ManiaPlanet universe called "ShootMania".

Now, I'm not normally an advocate of First-Person Shooters, but those that know me understand that I'm a HUGE (understatement) fan of TrackMania and everything cool that Nadeo has built into that community-driven racing series.  That is obviously reason #1 that I would look into ShootMania, but there a couple of things I find very exciting about this title:
  • Nadeo has taken the exiting ManiaPlanet/TrackMania engine and all content creation tools, etc. and enhanced them to function as an FPS.  The software developer geek side of me loves this, as it is a prime example of good software architecture.  But more importantly, fans of TrackMania will already be familiar with many of the game's look and feel, including the menus and tools.
  • Even more importantly (to me) -- Nadeo's big push is to keep ShootMania a family-friendly game, not focused on hard-core gratuitous violence like many I've seen lately.  ShootMania: Storm looks more like a massive game of "Freeze Tag" in a way (watch the trailer and you'll see what I mean.)  The players seem to freeze, then disappear and respawn to get back in the action.
In TrackMania, Nadeo changed the way that we play racing games.  They completely removed the element of player collision and pit you against the tracks.  It is still competitve because players test their skill in completing the tracks against the other players.  ShootMania isn't any different.  Nadeo has pulled it back to the basics.  From the trailer and some other articles I've read, ShootMania: Storm will be released with 2 simple weapons, and they will leave it up to the community to go crazy and create more; and to leave them free to let their imagination run wild in creating elaborate maps to play in.  The simple play will draw both children, casual gamers and hard-core gamers alike.

This doesn't mean Nadeo hasn't thought about others.  In a video interview with Edouard Beauchemin, product manager at Nadeo, he mentions that they came up with several different weapons, but they really want this to be a community-powered content game like TrackMania is... so they're leaving it at the basics for us to make what we will.

I wouldn't be surprised, after what I've seen the community do with TrackMania, if we don't see a new genre of FPS created within ShootMania within 6 months to a year (if not sooner) of the games release this fall.

As I mentioned before, TrackMania fans will pick this game up very easily, especially those that build maps... the map editor is the same as in TrackMania, but with blocks and scripting appropriate to the ShootMania world.

The trailer is pretty exciting, especially the part where the blue team makes their epic jump over the trees to fly into a red capture point. The end is pretty awesome also.

The game is in its "alpha" stage this month, with plans to go "beta" in June.  You can sign-up to be a part of the beta at the official ShootMania website.

So enjoy the trailer, then sign up for the beta, and welcome in another great product from Nadeo!  I hope they'll be making a big reveal at E3 in a couple of weeks!

Good news for Steam lovers and DRM haters

The Big List of 3rd Party DRM on Steam

I found this today while looking up some information about the Steam versions of Thief Gold and Thief II: The Metal Age.  I want to send a shout out and a huge thank you to those that maintain and contribute to this list.  It will greatly assist those of us who despise and oppose DRM in making well-educated purchases (or in many cases, deciding against purchasing.)

For the record, which I expected, there was no DRM for these two games on the Steam version either.  Someone had posted a forum thread requesting Steam remove it, but was corrected by other players.

I hope you find this useful.  I know I will.  Especially in the rare cases when Steam omits the DRM information from the game's page.

And, as always, you can always purchase Thief Gold on GOG.com as well as Thief II on GOG.com and be guaranteed DRM-free.

08 May 2012

Prepare for the Portal 2 Content Explosion

Valve announced today on Steam that the "Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative starts now."

This means that players can create custom Portal 2 levels in a simplified editor without leaving the game.  It also allows players to upload them to the Steam Workshop which will allow other players to find/rate/download puzzles to their hearts content.

Mind you, custom content has been around for a long time for both Portal and Portal 2, but you had to know where to get it, and sometimes jump through hoops to get them working in your game.  I still want to send a shout out to sites like thinkingwithportals.com, portal2maps.net and MyApertureLabs for providing custom content until now.  They've all worked hard to make extending our Portal experience awesome; and have done a great job.

This new effort should make it much easier for all to create, find and enjoy new custom Portal 2 content, and I'm really excited to see how it works out.

So go check it out, and remember, the cake is still a lie... and potatoes are good for us all.