Tuesday, May 29, 2012
E3 is tantalisingly close. Far Cry 3 raised eyebrows at E3 2011 with trailers introducing the game’s psychotic antagonist, Vaas. Hopefully we’ll get more of a sense of what the game will be like to play at Ubisoft’s conference next week. The misty flashes above tease a few new characters, but it’d be nicer to see more in-game action, to find out exactly how open Far Cry 3′s jungle will be. The footage so far has felt a little rail roaded. We’ll be covering E3 in force, so stay tuned for more on this year’s biggest games from the year’s biggest games conference next week.
- Blacksmith gold and page costs will be reduced.
- Jeweller gem costs will be reduced, gems up to flawless square level can be crafted with two gems instead of three.
- Legendary items to be buffed, likely in PvP patch 1.1. These buffs won’t apply retroactively.
- Item levels will be visible on 60+ level items to make them easier to compare to lower level Legendaries.
Cheaper items. Yes! It costs thousands and thousands thousands of gold to craft items and gems on Hell difficulty and beyond, which quickly becomes prohibitive. The Legendary item buff is good news as well, though there’s a risk that Legendary drops that occur before the 1.1 patch may lose some of their worth when the Legendary item buff hits. Legendary items are really living up to their name. in my experience. I’ve played 50 odd hours with my level 56 Barbarian and haven’t seen a single one. It feels like I’m missing out, but apparently Legendary items are “not designed to necessarily be the best items in the game.”
“They’re just one additional type of item as you level up, and they are not meant to be the primary items you’re chasing at the end-game. They can — and should — be exciting to find, but they’re not supposed to serve as the single driving force of the item hunt. Rare items, for example, have the possibility to roll up “perfect” stats that can, if you’re lucky, outpace the predetermined stats of a Legendary. That’s by design.”
There will be more alterations to class balance over the course of the next few patches. Blizzard recently released a series of quiet hotfixes in recent weeks to nerf a few key Wizard, Monk and Demon Hunter skills, but they say that hotfixes will only deployed when they discover something severely affecting game balance, and in future they plan to highlight incoming hotfixes in “Upcoming Changes” posts on the forums.
“We don’t want you to be worried that a hotfix nerf is lurking around the corner every day. If a skill is strong, but isn’t really breaking the game, we want you to have your fun. Part of the enjoyment of Diablo is finding those super-strong builds, and we want players to be excited to use something they discovered that feels overpowered.”
Blizzard don’t mention any specific changes they’re planning to make to characters or skills, but they suggest that any abilities that come to be seen as absolutely essential to surviving Hell or Inferno may be in trouble. Their main aim is to encourage build experimentation and make sure that there are multiple viable builds at Diablo 3′s highest difficulty tiers.
“If any single skill or rune feels absolutely required to progress, it means that skill is working against our goal of encouraging build diversity — and those “required” skills need to be corrected.”
The developers are “keeping a close eye on Inferno.” Many players have been posting on the Battle.net forums to say that Inferno is too tough for melee classes. Blizzard admit there may be some problems with the nature of Inferno’s difficulty, but reiterate that it is supposed to be immensely hard.
“Right now, there’s a lot more damage “spikiness” occurring than feels right, and that’s one major area we’re looking to adjust in patch 1.0.3,” they say, later adding that “While damage is a bit spikier than we’d like, we’re actually seeing a pretty significant number of people attempting Inferno without sufficient gear.
“There’s a good chance that returning to the previous Act to farm upgrades will do the most to help you survive. That said, we’d like to shift some of the focus away from survival and more toward using a variety of offensive tactics to succeed. Survival will still be important, but finding ways to maximize your damage while staying alive is more exciting.”
At the moment, defensive passives and escape skills are often essential in high difficulty fights. Blizzard say that they would “like to shift some of the focus away from survival and more toward using a variety of offensive tactics to succeed. Survival will still be important, but finding ways to maximize your damage while staying alive is more exciting.”
Finally, Blizzard revealed a few interesting facts about the millions of Diablo players out there. Apparently, less than 2% of players have reached Inferno so far.
- On average players have created 3 characters each
- 80% of characters are between levels 1 and 30
- 1.9% of characters have unlocked Inferno difficulty
- 54% of Hardcore players chose a female character
- The majority of Hardcore deaths (35%) occur in Act I Normal
- The most common level 60 build in the game is only used by 0.7% of level 60 characters of that class (not including Passive diversity)
- The most used runes for each class at level 60 are Barbarian: Best Served Cold, Demon Hunter: Lingering Fog, Wizard: Mirror Skin, Monk: Peaceful Repose, Witch Doctor: Numbing Dart
And here’s a rough outline of the patch line up for Diablo 3 as it stands.
1.02 – Due in the next week or so
Connection and client stability fixes.
1.03 – game balance changes, date TBA
Blacksmith and Jeweller alterations, class and skill balancing.
1.1 – PvP mode, legendary item changes, date TBA
Player vs. player arena mode that the developers showed at Blizzcon last year, but was taken out for polishing before Diablo 3 was released. Buff to Legendary items.
He’s taking screenshots to the art world, with a project called ‘Uncanny Valley‘ which will be exhibited at the Truman Brewery in London. In it, he uses shots from Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 to “question the validity of the perceived ‘real’ war photograph”.
I contacted Sam to ask him how he captured the images, thinking there’d be some sort of free camera mod with heavy PhotoShopping involved to let him get the pictures he wanted, some of which are very close to award winning pictures from recent conflicts. Stupid me – his technique was to point a camera at the screen while playing. Tricky to do, but he is a photographer after all.
War photography and the images of war is a difficult subject to tackle – on the one hand, it might seem facile to challenge photojournalists and reporters who risk their lives to bring back stories from warzones with pictures from videogames. On the other, their work is so important that it needs challenging regularly – at its worst, it becomes a process for satisfying the aesthetics of the image rather than the documentary truth of a situation.
“Some of the most celebrated war photographs of all time (Roger Fenton’s ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death‘ – 1855, Robert Capa’s ‘Falling Soldier‘ – 1936) were the result of ethically debatable degrees of representationalism or even straight forgery, using the perceived infallibility of the war photograph to mould the author’s own agenda around the image.” says Orchard, “This ranged from moving aspects of the scene to benefit the final aesthetic of the photograph (Fenton), or actually staging soldiers being shot to create an iconic image (Capa).”
“By mimicking the role of a war photojournalist and imitating the aesthetic conventions of the archetypal war photograph,” he says, “I aimed to plant a seed of doubt within the viewer’s mind – causing them to question not only my images, but other subsequent ‘real’ images of war. This process of creating an awareness to the potential of deception within the war photograph would therein challenge the working ethos of the war photojournalism industry and its supposed purveyance of truth.”
Le Show – which features collections from the Falmouth course, most of which have nothing to do with games of course – runs from 21st to 26th June. Image credits and copyright Sam Orchard.
“We take our beta events very seriously in terms of our development strategy,” writes lead producer Chris Whiteside on the Arenanet blog. “At ArenaNet, “beta event” means exactly that—it’s a development-centric event in which we test our systems, discover new and exciting bugs, and get pivotal feedback from our testers about what is going in the right direction and what isn’t.”
If you’re not on the beta, but would really like to try Guild Wars 2, keep an eye on PCGamer.com. We’ll be giving away keys as the next beta weekend approaches. For more on Guild Wars 2, check out our early look at the resourceful Asura, our video adventures in Guild Wars 2′s massive world vs. world. vs. world battles and our Guild Wars 2 preview.
Caixa Mágica 18, a Portuguese Linux distribution for desktops and servers based on Ubuntu, has been released. Caixa Mágica 18 is a long-term support release which guarantees that it will receive security updates for the period of five years. Four different editions - GNOME, KDE, LXDE and "servidor" - are available. The major software packages included in this release are GNOME 3.4.1, KDE 4.8.2, LibreOffice 3.5.2, Linux kernel 3.2, as well as a new Portuguese citizen card software program. Additionally, the project now offers a new web-based utility for one-click installation of software applications. See the release announcement (in Portuguese) for more information and a screenshot. Quick links to download the GNOME and KDE variants: caixamagica-18-desktop-i386-gnome-dvd.iso (1,572MB, MD5), caixamagica-18-desktop-i386-kde-dvd.iso (1,843MB, MD5), caixamagica-18-desktop-amd64-gnome-dvd.iso (1,760MB, MD5), caixamagica-18-desktop-amd64-kde-dvd.iso (2,032MB, MD5).