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Last week was a tremendous and a tiring week for the Sri Lankan Ingress community because for the first time ever Colombo was selected as a connected cell for the global anomaly called Interitus 02 by Ingress. It was a 31 septacycle (checkpoint) mission or simply put 31 battles against the opponent faction to win the anomaly that might add 20 points to the respective faction globally. Unlike all other Ingress cycles monitored by Google, this main cycle of 5 hour 31 checkpoints made both Sri Lankan Enlightened and Resistance teams work harder than ever before and those who participated had poured a tremendous effort to make their team win this and ultimately Sri Lankan Enlightened team got the chance to win the anomaly for Colombo.

For those who do not know what Ingress is, briefly it is a location based strategic augmented reality game introduced by Google that needs an Android smartphone with GPS and an internet connection in which the player has to physically travel from place to place and capture ground areas for their team/faction making fields by linking portals such as statues, archaeological buildings, and unique signs around the country. The more you cover the more points for the faction according to the population density of the covered area. And the tactics can immensely increase or multiply those area points called ‘Mind Units (MUs)’ by using multilayering fields across the ground.

Ingress Interitus final marks

End of the 31 battles across the country to cover the biggest area inside Colombo cell globally known as AS10-GOLF-01, local players from both teams had to travel around Sri Lanka to execute their quick and massive plans several times during the past week that cost time, sweat, thirst, travelling costs, fines and injuries too. If you need to know how precious a minute is, you have to play Ingress and see how it counts to the final decision of who won the cycle with how much score. For this, both teams, Enlightened and Resistance kept communications with India and Maldives players to cover Colombo cell by making bigger fields with multiple layers. This sort of work needs so much planning and final moment decisions when executing plans or to mitigate risks from the opponent team, which might turn the whole situation upside down.

Sri Lankan Enlightened cross-country mega field made with India

Sri Lankan Enlightened cross-country mega field made with India

However Enlightened team in Sri Lanka managed to create multilayer cross-country fields connecting Ambalangoda, Bible Rock and Coimbatore in India, plus some inland fields covering one fifth of the country with the help of Indian players, adding around 20 million mind units (points) at the very first battle to the Enlightened team and the team was lucky enough to repeat the same plan twice more to keep Resistance team behind the winning line. Knowing that, Resistance team too planned and executed various missions to block Enlightened from making mega fields and their plans too were blocked by Enlightened many times. However Resistance team came up with a massive mind unit gain plan by connecting Jaffna, Udawalawe and Maldives covering half of the country, but just a few minutes before the Google’s checkpoint (two checkpoints before the last around 0630 hrs), a lower level Enlightened player managed to destroy the 20 million worth cross-country fields letting the Resistance team lose their last hope of winning. Both teams tried hard to block and distract opponent plans in many ways that lead many players run here and there across the country sacrificing time, money and sweat.

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So we wish all the best to both the teams for taking part in this global anomaly by shedding tears and sweat to win against opponent team by carrying out mission after mission. Congratulations to the Sri Lankan Enlightened team for securing the Colombo (AS10-GOLF-01) cell for the Enlightened faction.

Download Ingress from Play Store here.

Read more about growing Ingress community in Sri Lanka here.

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Ingress is a real life location based augmented reality game, developed by NianticLabs@Google.

Recently the Ingress activity has seen some momentum in Sri Lanka, specially in Colombo suburbs and in Kandy. There are many activities detected all over the country.

The gameplay consists of establishing “portals” at places of public art, landmarks, cenotaphs, etc., and linking them to create virtual triangular fields over geographic areas. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units, i.e. people, nominally controlled by each faction (as illustrated on the Intel Map). The necessary links between portals may range from meters to kilometers, or to hundreds of kilometers in operations of considerable logistical complexity. International links and fields are not uncommon, as Ingress has attracted an enthusiastic following in cities worldwide amongst both young and old, to the extent that the gameplay is itself a lifestyle for some, including tattoos.

Ingress in Sri Lanka

Ingress in Sri Lanka

A possible portal looks like this:

Portal

So there are two teams known as Resistance(Blue) and Enlightened(Green). And they fight over capturing and establishing their strong hold around the cities.

Players actually need to go to the real location marked on the map to interact with a portal. So it really is a time consuming and tiresome game, but a good game if you are traveling in vehicle and you often get caught in traffic.

So each player has a user level, which increases with the activities you do in Ingress. So people destroy portals and capture an enemy portal and do all those other stuff to gain point and to level up. The higher level player gets the liberty of using more powerful weapons and items.

Also there is a real time COMM chat system, helping each faction to communicate with each others and to get real time update on what is happening around them in Ingress.

Resistance Meetup near Word Trade Centre. Photo credit - Thilanka Niroshana

Resistance Meetup near Word Trade Centre. Photo credit – Thilanka Niroshana

Also people become friends with same faction and they do get together often not only to meet but also to engage  in larger missions and fun stuffs. Going on trips to unveil hidden and unknown portals and create control fields to show their power are really fun.

Here is some of major Ingress operations that went over the country to capture large area of land by both factions.

Operation – From North with Love
Faction – Resistance
Reference - https://plus.google.com/+GaveenPrabhasara/posts/9LE8KwPHaNh
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Operation – Coast2Coast
Faction – Enlightened
Reference – https://plus.google.com/118118346515377811509/posts/PCEbg4EKqF1

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✮ Top Game of 2013 at Google Play Player’s Choice Awards.
✮ Best Android Strategy Game Runner-up at Android Central Best of 2013 Awards
✮ One of the Best Android Apps of 2013 – Gizmag

Resource : Ingress Sri Lanka G+ Community , Ingress Official Site

Google Play Store : Download the Game Here

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Anno 1404 – Dawn Of Discovery is a city building and economic simulation game with real time strategy elements. The game was released  on February 26, 2010. It was developed by Related Designs, produced by Blue Byte, and published by Ubisoft. Anno 1404 is the sequel to Anno 1701 and is followed by the futuristic sequel Anno 2070. Though the game centers on a series of fictional events, the overall concept of the storyline is based upon real life aspects of medieval/renaissance history such as the Crusades, advancements in Gothic architecture, construction of cathedrals, and hanseatic trade involving the rise of patrician merchants and early forms of capitalism.

Gameplay

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As with the other Anno games, the core action of the game consists of discovering new islands, building settlements, cultivating goods, managing trade routes between settlements and managing the needs of the populace to advance the in-game society. One of the main focuses of the game is building monuments. There are 2 types of monuments in the game. Namely a large Gothic Cathedral and a large Arabic Mosque. Certain conditions have to be met by the player in order to start building said monuments.

Trade, acts as a vital part in the game. Occidental populations can not grow past a certain level of success without Spice, and later Quartz, that can only be generated in Oriental lands. Although the taxes bring the player sizable income, it is difficult to generate enough gold to make meaningful capital investments without extensive trading. This can be simplified by creating a passive trading system using the tools player is given in the game.

As player advances through the game, the game rewards the player with access to naval vessels and troops.

Plot

In the first few chapters of the campaign, the player learns the basics of game-play and the economy by assisting Northburgh and Forcas with supply and construction tasks, as well as meeting some of the other main characters.
As the Crusader ships leave the harbor, Northburgh begins to uncover clues to a mysterious plot. He and the player travel to the Orient and befriend the Grand Vizier of the Sultan, Al Zahir, who helps the player to defeat a band of Corsairs and break up a child trafficking scheme. The plot thickens as further clues reveal that a main character is implicated in a sinister conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor himself. Because he comes too close to the truth, Lord Northburgh is captured and the player is tasked with unraveling the mystery.
Over the next several chapters, the player must win over new allies, convince the leaders of the Crusade that they are being manipulated under false pretenses, and survive dire circumstances in order to defeat the villains and restore the Emperor to his rightful place.

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The campaign is divided into eight chapters and each chapter can be played on 3 different difficulties: easy, medium, and hard. Apart from the story elements, the campaign serves as a tutorial to prepare the player for the more rigorous scenarios and continuous game modes.

All of the main characters encountered in the campaign are also encountered in the scenarios mode and can be selected as computer opponents in continuous games, although the actions of the characters during the campaign are unrelated to their actions in these modes apart from having similar personalities. Lord Northburgh and Al Zahir act as mentors and trade partners in the other modes, much like they do in the campaign.

Details

Developer(s) – Related Designs
Blue Byte Software
Publisher(s)    - Ubisoft
Composer(s)  - David Christiansen
(Dynamedion) [1]
Platform(s)     – Windows
Mac OS X
Nintendo DS
Wii
Release date(s) - EU June 25, 2009[2]
NA June 23, 2009[3]
Genre(s) – City-building, Business simulation, Real-time strategy
Mode(s)  - Single-player, Multi-player
Distribution DVD, download

System Requirements

Minimum System Requirements:

  • CPU – Pentium 4.3 GHz or comparable
  • RAM – 1 GB
  • VGA – DirectX9 compatible graphics adapter with 128MB memory.
  • DX – DirectX9/10

Recommended System Requirements:

  • CPU – Dual Core
  • RAM – 3GB
  • VGA – DirectX compatible graphics adapter with 128MB.
  • DX - DirectX®9/10

Sources – Wikipedia and Gamespot

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The Settlers: Rise of an Empire is a real-time strategy game. It is the sixth game in The Settlers series. It was developed by Blue byte and published by Ubisoft and it was released in September 2007.

Gameplay

The Settlers – Rise of an Empire is a 4x strategy game. The fundamentals of 4X are expansion, exploration, exploitation, and extermination. In the Settlers – Rise Of An Empire, players have to build lively and buzzing towns in a richly detailed medieval setting. Though it is a game from 2007, the graphics in the game are crisp, rich and lively.
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As with previous Settlers games, the focus of the solo campaign is a mix of stereotypical city building with traditional Age of Empires-like resource gathering and soldier recruitment. The players are able to built richly detailed buzzing medieval settings. The game focuses more on the city-building and managing aspect rather than a military gameplay. The players also have to fulfill certain quests in order to move through the main campaign. The ultimate objective of the game is to expand your empire and become a legendary ruler. Each settler figure in the game has his or her daily routine which the player can observe. The player must develop a flourishing economy, satisfy the needs of citizens, and protect the settlers from danger.

As with most of the strategy games the game consist of 7 types of units.

 Knight(s): The starting unit. Each knight (Marcus, Alandra, Elias, Kestral,Thordal or Hakim) has a different ability. You can have and start with a single knight only. (But there is a campaign mission that allows you to have more than 4 knights, but it’s that mission exclusive)
 Swordsmen: Units that carry swords. They can set buildings on fire using torches from outposts.
 Archers: Units that carry bows.
 Archer mercenaries: Bandit archers that you can train in bandit camp. They carry bows.
 Clubman mercenaries: Bandit swordsmen that can also be trained in bandit camp. They carry a small, round, wooden shield and a short club, and can set buildings on fire.
 Vikings: Barbarians who attack villages and your city, and are hostile to all players. The best way to get rid of them is by training some troops or building a castle wall. They can set buildings on fire and steal women. They use either axes or clubs.
 Wolves: Wild animals who attack you, your allies, neutral players and enemies.
 Bears: Wild animals who attack you, your allies, neutral players and enemies. There is also Polar and Black Bear, but Black bear is one mission exclusive troop to defeat, also the most powerful Wild animal.

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The game also features 4 different climate zones. Northern territories have shorter growing seasons that force you to build up food stocks when the weather is pleasant, as well as rely on wild game and fish, while southern regions are so warm that it’s hard to keep crops from burning up. None of these climate zones is overly extreme, although they do establish a sense of place so that you’re not just working with the same generic terrain over and over again.

Plot

The campaign mainly involves a war against the evil Red Prince and his right-hand lady, Crimson Sabatt. Throughout the campaign, the player must attempt to gain allies in the fight against them and put a stop to their quest for dominion over all the lands.

Details

Developer(s) - Blue Byte Software
Publisher(s) - Ubisoft
Series – The Settlers
Engine - RenderWare
Foliage – SpeedTree
Platform(s) - Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) • NA September 25, 2007
• EU September 28, 2007
• AUS September 30, 2007
Genre(s) - Real Time Strategy, City-building game
Mode(s) – Single player, multiplayer
Distribution – DVD-ROM

System Requirements

  • Operating system: Windows XP, Windows Vista
  • DirectX 9.0c
  • Pentium 4 1.8 GHz, Athlon XP 1800+ CPU
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card with 64 MB RAM, Vertex Shader 1.1 and Pixel Shader 1.3 support (Pixel Shader 2.0 recommended) NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti or better ATI RADEON 9500 or better
  • 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

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Each year there comes a time when all else stops in the local video gaming scene. Studies, work or even your significant other are given low priority compared to what lies ahead. The “Sri Lanka Cyber Games” is what’s on every gamers lips, who spend months practicing to be crowned the champion of Sri Lankan e-Sports. For a Sri Lankan gamer, there is no higher honor.

 

What’s new?

This year, SLCG is partnering with Sri Lanka’s premiere IT exhibition, Infotel. The Colombo qualifiers and grand finals will be held alongside Infotel. Not only will SLCG be held at Sri Lankas largest IT exhibition, but the event is scheduled to come to a climactic finale with a Sri Lanka vs Maldives inter-country exhibition match taking place. The first time a foreign e-Sport team will play on Sri Lankan soil – a momentous occasion indeed.

Further, Colombo Ride fans will be in for a treat this year as SLCG ’10 will be the first time Colombo Ride 3D, (GTS Game Studios 3rd iteration of their Colombo Ride mobile game series), is played competitively. If you thought last year was epic, this year will blow your mind!

SLCG 2010 is expected to attract over 1,000 participants and 50,000 visitors – making it undoubtedly the largest e-Sports tournament in Sri Lanka, and very possibly one of the largest events overall in the country.

 

When is it?

Kandy Qualifiers – 25th and 26th September 2010

Colombo Qualifiers and Grand finals – 1st, 2nd and 3rd October 2010

Sri Lanka Cyber Games 2010 will be held from the 25th to the 4th of October. On the 25th and 26th of September, SLCG will head to the hill capital of Sri Lanka to hold its inaugural Kandy qualifiers at the Kandy City Center and will then come down to the BMICH for the Colombo qualifiers and grand finals from the 1st to the 3rd of October.

 

The games

The SLCG official game-list will stay unchanged from last year, with the only change being Colombo Ride 2.0 being replaced by its sequel, Colombo Ride 3D. The tournaments are as follows:

 

On PC

  • Counter Strike 1.6 (5v5)
  • Call of Duty 4 (5v5)
  • DotA (5v5)
  • FIFA 10 – (1v1)
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted – (1v1v1v1)

 

On Mobile

  • Colombo Ride 3D

 

On Console

  • Halo 3
  • Project Gotham Racing 3
  • Guitar Hero

 

Team Watch

Counter Strike 1.6

  • With Team Liquid stepping down from the spotlight, the Counter Strike 1.6 title is up for grabs. Last year’s runners up, Living Legends are the favorites to win considering that two members of Team Liquid are now part of their team.

Call of Duty 4

  • With Team Perks unsure of taking part, and Team Awesome recruiting new blood, who will grab the title from current title holders Team Perks?

DotA

  • Team Toxics Tensa-Zengetsu will be taking a break from competitive DotA. Will Toxic play on without their leader? Or will WDF step in to take their place?

FIFA 10

 

  • Arguably the most unpredictable and competitive tournament. Keep an eye out for Extreme, Ifiboy, Hulk, CB, Flashbullet, Leon and Shake.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

  • Another hotly contested tournament, NFS:MW has seen clan Death Company’s STALKER consistently winning previous tournaments. Can he pull off another win?

 

Stay up to date on SLCG happenings, check our these links:

Official SLCG website

http://slcg.lk

 

Gamer.LK – Where Sri Lankan e-Sports was born

http://gamer.lk

 

Official Gamer.LK facebook page

http://facebook.com/gamerlk

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The FIFA World Cup ended as a disappointment for most of us. We all waited anxiously for the past four years for it to start and within a week after it was started I couldn’t wait until it was finished. The football quality that we see week in week out it the major European leagues was not there and there were so many controversies. What’s more, my favorite team got their butts kicked by the team that I hate the most. But most importantly to us gamers, usually with every world cup we can get our hands on the official FIFA World Cup game as well. But this time around we PC gamers didn’t get that opportunity either and that made the time period even more boring. The reason being that EA sports did not release a PC version of the FIFA World Cup game so the less fortunate people like us who cannot afford a PS3 or an Xbox360 (even iPhone users got a bite of the cherry) could do nothing but to watch YouTube videos about it.

New Home Screen for Manager Mode

On that note I thought of writing about EA’s new installment of their football game, FIFA 11. If you are a FIFA fan, you will be aware that EA tends to release the game with the start of the European football season. PC gamers would be delighted by the announcement that EA has implemented the same game engine and the gameplay that they’ve been using for the PS3 and Xbox for the PC platform as well. Well it took them more than 3 years to implement a next gen engine for PC and maybe that’s an indication that EA has finally sensed that Konami game engine is far better that there’s and lets thank god for that.

 

Better Transfers

Now if you are a PC gamer let me just add something before you go taunt your console gaming buddy. The consoles will still be getting something more, as they will receive a updated game engine, which still leaves PC gamers one step behind. Again. But to be honest different stories breakout everyday with mixed feelings since some people say nothing much has changed but on the other hand EA is saying that this will be a totally new and a different experience for PC users. But one thing remains certain. Console users will still get a better game.

 

As usual FIFA have upgraded the players’ appearances and mind you Wayne Rooney looks more handsome than last time which is in fact good news. A new feature called Personality Plus is introduced and this feature claims to add another layer of real-life authenticity to the players from their stature and size, down to their playing attributes and technical skills.

As Konami catching up fast lest hope that this edition of FIFA will be a life saver for EA and we the PC users can finally experience something new. I have to say, over the last couple of seasons, the Japanese have their noses ahead in my book. Let’s hope we have a new favorite after 28th September.

 

Game   FIFA 11

Platforms   PC / PS2 / PS3 / Xbox360 / DS / Wii

Developer   EA Sports

Publisher   Electronic Arts

Release Date   28 September 2010

Genre   Football Sim

ESRB Rating   E

 

System Requirements

Operating System   Windows® XP SP3 / Windows Vista® SP2 / Windows® 7

Processor   Intel® Dual Core 2.4 GHz or equivalent

RAM   1 GB for Windows® XP / 2 GB for Windows Vista® and Windows® 7

Graphics   256 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800, ATI Radeon™ HD2900

Disk Space   Approx 7 GB

 

Image sources:

Gamespot.com

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Author: Buddhika Siddhisena

The state of gaming on Linux has improved vastly over the years with many games being developed on top of Open Source Doom / Quake and Cube game engines. But when it comes to playing commercial game titles, Windows has remained the de facto option with only a handful of publishers opting for a native Linux port.

Fortunately thanks to the tireless hard work of smart Open Source hackers, it is now possible to run Windows applications on top of Linux, thus opening up many popular commercial game titles to citizens of the Linux OS platform.

WINE is the project that helps one get over a hangover from moving from Windows by letting you run many Windows applications on Linux. WINE stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator, even though most people loosely considers it as a Windows Emulator. Technically speaking, WINE is not an emulator but rather a reimplementation of the Windows core APIs required for a Windows program to function. As one would imaging, reimplementing Windows APIs are easier said than done! Its no wonder WINE took over 15 years to reach a stable version of 1.0! Windows is closed source and so are some of the APIs, which themselves are regularly evolving.

Installing applications, especially games under WINE can be anywhere from a plain, simple out-of-the-box experience to a hair pulling, reading tons of posts and full day of tweaking ordeal. But there is an easier way – to use a support application that automates installing software by making the necessary changes on a per application basis. In this article I will review two such game enabling applications and point you to a few more in the reference links.

 

PlayOnLinux

Play on Linux is an Open Source software that is available on many Linux distributions. It contains predefined profiles for many of the popular commercial games. For instance to install Call of Duty 4, you would search for it and click apply to launch a wizard that will walk you through the installation process. Each game installation is installed in a separate directory in order to isolate the changes made to WINE to make one game function from not affecting another game from malfunction. These are known as WINE PREFIXES or WINE bottles.

I didn’t try installing Call of Duty 4 so I can’t comment on its playability but there are a few games I did try out over at Steam.

Steam had a great sale recently to commemorate QuakeCon which I ended up buying after few seconds of careful thought! Anyway to cut a long story short, I’ve been playing some of the older games such as Doom, Final Doom, Quake Arena quite successfully with full frame rate of 1024×768 at 32bit using PlayOnLinux. This shouldn’t be a surprise as generally older games do tend to work better than newer ones over WINE as more issues get resolved over time. I did have issues launching some DOS based games such as DOOM via the Steam interface, running under PlayOnLinux and had to use the command line to resolve it. Once the game was launched manually using the wine command, it ran flawlessly.

 

CrossOver Games

If you don’t want to waste time messing around with WINE or having to go to the command line when things don’t work, then CrossOver games might be a better option. CrossOver Games software makes installing of popular games a snap as it has an online database of hundreds of games, each with a rating of Gold, Silver, Bronze or Unsupported.

Gold rated games are known to work perfectly as expected while Silver rated apps also works most of the time but with minor issues. CodeWeavers the company behind the CrossOver Games product has pledged to improve the product so that all Silver rated games will eventually become Gold rated.

CrossOver Games is commercial software and you’ll have to pay USD 39.99 after the 7 day free trial period if you want to keep using it. If your lucky and skillful, you should be able to find a discount code online to reduce this price by as much as 60%. For those looking for a “feel good” factor for purchasing CrossOver Games can take pride in supporting CodeWeavers, the primary sponsor and contributor of the WINE project so you know some of that money is going back to the community. CodeWeavers also provides 1 years of free updates and support when you purchase the software and works hard on making new popular games work.

For instance as of this writing, CrossOver 9.1 supports Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 as well as StarCraft II, two games that came out recently with a Gold rating.

I managed to install Steam and under it Portal and both ran just fine under CrossOver with a decent frame rate that was playable on my Macbook having an Nvidia 9400. I also tried out some older games such as StarCraft and Max Pane and they ran at full speed to the point it felt as if I was gaming on Windows.

Similar to PlayOnLinux, CrossOver also uses the bottle concept, but has better management and flexibility to WINE bottles. For instance, you can select a bottle and install software on to it or kill all misbehaving applications from just one of the bottles.

Both of the above tools have databases of games that are known to work (or not work) but if you can’t find the game listed then don’t despair, it might still be installable and runnable. Besides games, these softwares can install many generic Windows applications such as Internet Explorer, MS Office, Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver etc. So give either of these tools a try and see which one works best for you. Or if you’d rather get your hands wet then there is always straight up WINE.

As a general advice, make sure you turn off 3D desktop acceleration such as Compiz which puts an extra overhead on your game’s use of the 3D graphic card. Also make sure you’ve got the latest 3D drivers. Running a light weight desktop manager such as XFCE or LXDE instead of GNOME or KDE will also help in making more memory available to games.

Happy gaming on Linux!

References

  1. PlayOnLinux – http://www.playonlinux.com
  2. CrossOver Games Compatibility Database – http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/
  3. WINE – http://www.winehq.org
  4. Wine Tricks – A set of automation scripts to improve WINE – http://wiki.winehq.org/winetricks
  5. List of Game Engines – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_game_engines

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by Kushan Dodanwala

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With the 2010 FIFA World Cup in full swing down in South Africa, this is a good time as any to talk about the latest football game from EA Sports, FIFA Online.

The first question someone may have is why? EA Sports already has the major slice of the football videogame market with its annual FIFA Soccer and FIFA Manager titles plus the seasonal World Cup and Euro offerings. So why bother create another game somewhere in the middle?

Well, the answer is accessibility. According to the EA Sports president Peter Moore himself, “There are 2 billion football fans worldwide, and we sell 10 million (FIFA games) on a good day. Clearly, the other 1.99 billion might be interested in playing a FIFA game, but whether it be the cost of entry, a lack of skill, or any number of other reasons, they’re just not playing. Therefore, with FIFA Online, EA Sports have taken major steps to make the game accessible and enjoyable to everyone.”

The first step is to make the game free to play. That’s right; the game is available as a free download over the internet and free to play as long as you want. Of course, as in any free to play game you can always ‘cheat’ by buying stuff for real money, but EA have assured that those who do pay will not be receiving significant performance upgrades, but rather just a push to move forward in the game faster.

The next step is making the game run on a wider range of PC’s. The game is based on the FIFA 10 game engine and sports FIFA 09 like graphics, most of which have been ported over from the console versions of the game. Even so, the game is very scalable and runs smoothly even on ultra-low end PC’s. So if you have an average PC bought in the past 3-4 years you can play the game comfortably with no lag.

The final and probably the most significant simplification is the game play itself. According to EA Sports, the game can be played competitively by using only one hand! The full range of actions available in the game can be performed with a standard 3-button mouse, making it the ultimate for casual gamers. If you’re a hardcore FIFA fan this may alarm you. Don’t worry though; full keyboard and gamepad support is still available as before. The first time you enter the game, you are given a tutorial on how the mouse control works, and surprisingly, it’s quite good. Its miles ahead of the previous attempts by EA Sports to implement mouse control into their games and you actually can use it to be competitive. However, I prefer to use both my hand so I’m sticking with the keyboard.

As the name suggests, the game is meant to be for online play. You will require to be logged in to the game server to even start the game. However, there’s still a single player mode you can enjoy on your own.

The game download is around 1GB, and it’s basically a stripped down version of FIFA 10. The minor leagues and the excessive reserves have been eliminated, as well as the reward and tournament content. You can select one team for your manager mode and this team can be used in online matchmaking as well. So if you play with Manchester United and your opponent also picks the same team, you can expect drastically different teams depending on which stage of their career each manager is in. The money system has also turned more casual, with you being able to ‘buy’ players fitness back. The player contracts operate in a continuous basis and can be renewed with the money you earn. At the beginning of the career, you are given a choice between a few of your star players who are ready to leave the club, and you have enough money to sign only one of them. Unfair as this may be, throughout the season you win chances of signing new players. At the end of each match, the manager is given certain ‘markers’ to choose from. These can range from cash bonuses, to bonus items to even new players available to sign. Bonus items can be bought using in game cash or real cash to boost player abilities.

The other game mode available in the game is the World Cup mode. You can select your favorite international team and take part in the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The number of games that you can play is governed by the number of ‘tokens’ you have. Entry to the world cup costs you 20 tokens and playing with any other team than your career team in online games costs 5 tokens each. You have a free quota of 20 tokens a day and more tokens can be won by participating in community mini games or by purchasing with real money. To summarize the gameplay experience, everything apart from playing the actual game seems to be brought straight out of popular online games in social networking sites down to the last detail, which is rightly so as the game is targeted mostly at the same target crowd. So if you are an avid fan of Farmville or Mafia Wars, then FIFA Online should be right up your alley!

The online play sadly is below satisfactory quality to us in Sri Lanka. The game servers are located in the US and UK, which means that the pings are constantly high and you can expect constant latency of nearly 1 second. EA Sports are currently working at establishing servers in the Asian and African regions. Apart from the lag issues, picking up a game is fairly easy as there are plenty of players online.

The game is still in beta testing at the time this article is written, so I wouldn’t want to go into detail with the many minor technical issues that seem to plague the game, such as connection timeouts and errors with adding friends. Expect EA Sports to iron out most of these come the release date on the 4th July 2010. Want to get in the action straight away? Log into http://fifa-online.easports.com/ right now to create your own profile and start playing!

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By Kushan Dodanwala

Heroes of Newerth is a Real-Time Strategy/Role Playing/Arena/Tower Defense game developed by independent game developer S2 Games. Why so many genres you ask? Well the game is actually a blend of all of them and is based on the Warcraft III mod; Defense of the Ancients. The game is the third by S2 games to feature their trademark Newerth Universe, the first two being Savage: The Battle for Newerth and Savage 2: A Tortured Soul.

For those new to this genre, let’s look at the game that started it all. Defense of the Ancients (DotA) is a custom scenario for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, based on the “Aeon of Strife” map for StarCraft. The objective of the scenario is for each team to destroy the opponents’ Ancients, heavily guarded structures at opposing corners of the map. Players use powerful units known as heroes, and are assisted by allied heroes played by teammates and AI-controlled fighters called “creeps”. The game is played out in a 3rd person strategy view as in a typical Warcraft RTS game and As in role-playing games, players level up their hero and use gold to buy equipment during the mission. The game was easy to learn, but unless you were prepared to down and get into the roots of the game, it was impossible to master.

 

DotA being a mod, it carried its fair shares of obstacles and glitches. It also required the original game to be installed and didn’t allow for a player to be reconnected in case of a disconnection. Even though the game is still immensely popular, by now the eight year old Warcraft III engine was beginning to show its age and its limitations could be ignored no longer.

So let’s get to the basics. S2 Games have taken the whole idea of DotA and put it in a new standalone game with better graphics and a gameplay engine, so it’s technically not a brand new game, rather a remake of a classic. The game features a remake of the original DotA map, as well as ports of many favorite heroes from DotA, tweaked to fit into the Newerth Universe. However, the game does feature original content as well, including two brand new maps and new heroes. According to the developers, the new K2 engine used in the game has enough flexibility to accommodate new maps and new map types as well as a number of new heroes and abilities.

 

The other plus point of the game is that it features dedicated online servers for better gameplay. DotA could only be played online by connecting via a third party LAN client such as Garena. HoN features a number of dedicated servers located around the world to offer players better connection and matchmaking options. However, the game is for online only and doesn’t feature a LAN mode, so you will have to login via the internet to play.

Play HoN with Sri Lankan gamers!Once you log into the game, type “/join clan gamer lk” (without quotes) to connect to the Sri Lankan chat server. Once there you can request an admin to add you to the clan so that you will be instantly notified of any Sri Lankan HoN action!

The best thing about the game is that even though there is over three months for the official game release, you can get your hands on the game right now! HoN had been in closed beta testing for six months and on 31st March, it went into open beta testing. Anyone interested in playing can simply go to www.heroesofnewerth.com and create a free beta account and play by downloading the beta client which is only around 350MB. Your account will be valid until the beta expires and the game is released to retail. The game is available for pre purchase at US $ 30 which is said to be a onetime fee only. This means that all updates/server facilities will be provided free of charge for those who buy the game.

During the beta period, the game has proved to be a massive hit among gamers worldwide. The inherent competitiveness of the genre which made DotA so popular stays true in HoN as well, with many competitive tournaments being carried out even before the game is released. The Sri Lankan gaming community had their own little HoN mini league, GCHL, to test the waters. You can read all about it in the GCHL wrap-up in the local scene section.

 

As in many remakes, HoN has its fair share of controversies. Many avid DotA players criticize the game for being a rip-off with nothing more than shiny graphics to entice casual gamers. However, it has to be said that many of these claims are baseless and merely outcries of die hard DotA fans who don’t like to accept the fact that there can be a superior remake of their beloved game. Its Agreed that HoN does have its shortcomings, but it’s still in beta testing and expect all glitches to be ironed out come the retail release. From what we see of the beta, HoN takes DotA to the next level by bringing better graphics and physics while retaining the original gameplay and it improves the player experience by adding more variety to gameplay.

Whatever the naysayers may say, one thing is pretty clear. Heroes of Newerth is here to stay! Watch out for a more in depth review of the game closer to the release. Until then visit www.heroesofnewerth.com and start playing now!

 

Game Heroes of Newerth
Developer S2 Games
Release Date Q3 2010
Genre RTS Arena/RPG

 

System Requirements

Operating System Windows® XP / Windows Vista® / Windows® 7 / Linux / Mac
Processor 2.2GHz
RAM 1 GB
Graphics 128 MB GeForce FX, ATI 9×00, OpenGL 1.2 compatible (Linux and Mac)
Disk Space 400MB
Network 256Kbps connection recommended

 

 

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Mass Effect 2 is the sequel to a game that received the 2007 game of the year award from The New York Times, best RPG awards from IGN, Yahoo Games and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and many other awards from the gaming community. I would say that, at least in this area, the Mass Effect lore is comparable to that of Star Wars, but, unlike Star Wars events which happened ‘a long time ago’, Mass Effect is set in the future, the year 2183 to be exact, when destiny reveals its great plans for Commander Sheppard in a universe full of incredible planets and species.

 

Mass Effect 2 continues after Sheppard faced the extra-galactic threat, and, without spoiling, i’ll tell you the scenario is built in such a way that you’re allowed to benefit from the character you developed in Mass Effect 1 by importing the saves, but also ensuring an equitable beginning for everyone. You’ll also find that decisions you made in the first part will impact what happens in the sequel, sometimes quite seriously, and especially where ex or future team members’ evolutions are concerned. The classes are the same as in ME1 (Adept, Infiltrator, Vanguard, Sentinel, Engineer and Soldier) and you’ll be given the opportunity to change your class even if you imported the saves.

 

You can, of course, become ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by increasing your paragon or renegade levels (which don’t necessarily exclude each other). This happens automatically depending on what decisions you make and how you navigate through conversations. The innovation here is that being paragon or renegade not only unlocks special conversations options (e.g. persuasion or intimidation) but now also allows you to take instant action as events unfold, provided you notice the window of opportunity and use it before it disappears. Additionally, the level-up screen is changed from ME1 and it may seem a bit counter-intuitive at first, but it’s actually a nice and proportional representation of your progress. Each ability requires more and more points for you to be able to reach its next level, so, at times, if you want to improve a specific ability before the others you might have some extra points you won’t be able to spend. It’s up to you to figure out a balance between being good at everything and being good at something in particular, and the way you do this should also take into account what class you’ve chosen. In case you’re not satisfied with how you distributed your points, at some moment in the game you’ll have the possibility to invest in a specific research project that redistributes them, in a lab on Normandy (your ship).

 

Fig. 1 – The level-up screen

 

Talking about research projects, we get to the economic aspect of the game. There are, of course, credits, which allow you to do most things, but as a new element ME2 introduces the ships ability to mine for certain metals or materials (Palladium, Iridium, Platinum and the rare Element-Zero) through specialized probes which can be launched by the ship when situated near planets. Scanning for these resources is done manually, from orbit, and sometimes anomalies might be discovered, even leading to special missions.

 

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Fig. 2 – Scanning a planet for resources

 

Various quantities of these resources can be spent to unlock research projects, which improve your fighting/tech equipment or your ship. Even choosing what research to invest in will have repercussions later in the game, so think strategically :)

 

As in ME1, you gain your team members’ loyalty by accomplishing missions usually related to their status prior to meeting you. Depending on how you fight, what decisions you make and which missions you accomplish, you’ll receive achievements (as medals) which you can view in the captain’s cabin – your own private place on the ship where you can do all kinds of leisurely stuff. This brings me to the improved sense of realism the game has. For example, a subtle detail but with a very immediate feel to it is seeing coffee machines on tables. Even the mini-games used to hack datapads or gain access to various rooms are surprisingly realistic towards their purpose: to bypass security you work on an actual circuit and to hack code you match actual snippets of code. There are other mini-games and puzzles spread throughout the game, some tied to non-essential assignments but some vital to the mission.

 

Fig. 3 – Bypassing security

 

Fig. 4 – Hacking code

 

The combat system is kind of new in ME2, although you can use powers in the same way: you now need thermal clips instead of your weapon just cooling down on its own – the heat generated when you fire your weapon goes into those clips. This is another realistic part because sometimes you might run out of them in mid-battle, so you’ll have to spot some and avoid enemy fire until you get there; or you can change weapons. When you get cover, if you’re crouched and your cover isn’t very tall you can jump over it taking advantage of a pause in enemy fire. Jumping to the unrealistic part, you can also revive your teammates by using the Unity power, but that’s no reason to complain :) However, it can be fun to measure up alone against your opponents. Controlling your squad’s position can be done individually now, so you can either put them out of harm’s way, use them as a vanguard or place them strategically depending on how you want to engage your enemy (sometimes luring them out of their original location is a good tactic).

 

Fig. 5 – Evil robots from outer space? They’ll never know what hit them…

 

The DLC (downloadable content) system is pretty interesting itself. Some DLCs are available as add-ons and offer extra missions:

● Zaeed Massani offers a new character with the same name, adding to the game missions and stories

● Firewalker gives you an assault vehicle that allows you to hover over the battlefield, and it includes a few missions for you test it out

These are available as part of the Cerberus Network, which also includes extra weapons and assault gear. The Cerberus Network is a new kind of DLC portal that allows you to download its content for free as long as you’re subscribed to it. Retail purchasers should already have a network card with the Cerberus redeem code in it, otherwise (e.g. buying used games) redeem codes can be purchased separately as well. There is another DLC called Kasumi – Stolen Memory which appeared in April. It features a new character (Kasumi, an enigmatic thief) and a loyalty mission which is pretty cool, but short. It’s not available as Cerberus DLC, but separately, and costs 560 Bioware points (you can buy 800 points with 10$). What this game seriously lacks though is multiplayer functionality. Even if it will be added through an add-on later, it won’t spark all the hype a built-in one would have. Maybe this is something they’ll consider for the 3rd installment.

 

As you progress you’ll notice which missions look ‘more final’ than others. Before you embark on the journey towards the final battle be sure you invest into research as much as possible, recruit all the characters, make them loyal and explore all the planets, otherwise outcomes of certain situations you’ll be put in will ‘sting’, even if you’ll be able to go on in the game. In any case, keep your savegames, you’re going to need them :) . Once you’re done with the game, keeping your savegames will also be good for Mass Effect 3, which will probably allow for importing as well. If you’ve played ME 1 you’ll know that you’ll grow attached to some of your team members and the same thing will happen now. If you haven’t played ME 1, play it, you’ve got some catching up to do :)

 

Characters are more profound than filling positions on the Normandy reveals about them. Not only are their personalities thought-through, but the art & animation department, as well as the voice cast, are incredible. I like to see who voices the characters when i finish the game as the credits roll so i won’t spoil it for you, but i’ll say there are a lot of celebrities among the cast. Some you will have recognized even before you finish the game. Speaking about personalities, when you revisit important planets try to choose different squads – there are some meaningful places where you can talk to them and they share insights and opinions. For example, some of the landscapes in this game, not just the pre-rendered ones, are simply spectacular.

 

Even if the year isn’t over, Mass Effect 2 has already received its own awards: Best RPG of E3 from GamePro, IGN, GameSpy and others. Bioware, one of the industry leaders, is also working on what is probably one of the most anticipated games: Star Wars: The Old Republic, a ground-breaking MMORPG. Given all this history and the promise of the future itself, Mass Effect 3 should prove one of the best games ever, and, furthermore, EA and Bioware will have reasons to support this franchise for a long time to come.

 

Resources:

- some of the images are from Mass Effect Wiki and YouTube

- Mass Effect official site