Tag Archives: new games

MumboJumbo games available on Ubuntu 11.04 and 10.10

MumboJumbo games available on Ubuntu 11.04 and 10.10

Canonical added a couple of days ago a selection of games from the MumboJumbo software publisher, available for purchase only via Ubuntu Software Center.


The games include 7 Wonders: Magical Mystery Tour (jewel game), Chainz Galazy (link-matching game), Unlikely Suspects (mystery game), and Midnight Mysteries 3 Devil on the Mississippi (adventure game).

The price for these games starts from $4.99 USD (3.6 EUR). They are available, at the moment, only in the Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) and the Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating systems.

The MumboJumbo games will probably be added soon to the newly released Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) distribution.

Journey back in time with the 7 Wonders series to when magnificent structures were being built in far away lands. Enjoy challenging match-3 gameplay in a newly enhanced interactive environment where you not only learn about marvelous new wonders such as Stonehenge and Taj Mahal, but also watch them come to life piece by piece before your very eyes.

  • Incredibly enhanced animation
  • New explosive power-ups such as the Single Cell Bomb, Chameleon and Timer Freeze
  • Seven all new locations to explore and Wonders to learn about
  • Take part in the construction by choosing what section of the Wonders to build first and visually see the progress on the screen and the game board
  • Strategically match, using a limited number, to get critical pieces down the board
  • Utilize a new shuffle option to refresh the board and keep the game moving

In the same news, the Atom Zombie Smasher game from Blendo Games is also available in Ubuntu Software Center at the price of $9.99 USD (7.3 EUR).

Start-up financing secured for online gaming development

SERIAL GAMES entrepreneurs Hugh Reynolds and Dr Steven Collins have successfully completed a €2.7 million seed funding round for their latest start up Swrve.

It provides tools for games designers to test and adjust their online games by monitoring game players.

Reynolds and Trinity College academic Collins were also the co-founders of Havok, a company that produces tools for creating realistic effects in games. Havok was bought by Intel in 2007 for €80 million. The following year they set up Kore Virtual Machines in 2008, which in turn was acquired by Havok last year.

Less than a year old, Swrve attracted a mix of Irish and American investors and funds, including Intel Capital, Initial Capital, SV Angel, the AIB Seed Capital Fund (Enterprise Equity), the AIB Startup Accelerator Fund, Bank of Ireland Start Up and Emerging Sectors Equity Fund 2010 (Delta Partners), Mochi Media founders, Enterprise Ireland and others.

“This funding round allows us to have a good long runway ahead of us to build this platform,” said Dr Collins, who is Swrve’s chief technology officer. Mr Reynolds is chief executive officer.

“With these investors, we also got some great connections and some great advisers.”

Dr Collins said the idea for Swrve came about last January, and by June, the company had a functioning prototype. Initial funding came from proceeds from the sale of Kore. Some of the original investors in Kore also invested in the new company, he said.

Dr Collins said Swrve “is designed to provide games developers with tools to manage their games as a service”. Using the cloud-based service, developers can monitor gamers as they play, helping the developers to evolve and improve games over time.

“They can track what users are doing and see if they’re finding certain parts of the game too difficult, or are enjoying them, or see where they’re buying things or not buying things, and change the game accordingly. You allow the game to adapt to how certain users are playing it,” he said.

The service is part of an emerging model of game development where “developers are now connected directly to the consumer, and there’s no middle man.”

Swrve has offices in Dublin and San Francisco. The engineering team is based in Ireland with sales, support and marketing in California. The decision to keep the engineering team in Ireland was based on better access to potential employees, he said.

“We are able to find great talent here, whereas it’s far more competitive and difficult to find developers out in Silicon Valley.”

The company, which currently has 15 employees, will use the funding for engineering and product development.

Dr Collins said that Swrve would be looking for additional engineers in Ireland on the back of the investment.

Swrve supports game development on a variety of online platforms, ranging from Apple’s iPhone to Facebook, web or smart TV platforms.

“As more and more games move online, Swrve’s analytics platform will enable game operators to deliver increasingly targeted content to every player,” Lisa Lambert, vice-president, Intel Capital, said in a statement.

Crytek ‘to evolve beyond typical development’

Announcement on the company’s new direction due in a matter of months

German independent studio Crytek is preparing to evolve its business beyond tradition games development, the company’s co-founder has said.

Avni Yerli said Crytek’s Frankfurt studio has been relocated so more people can join its team of 300 people, and also hinted at a new direction for the company.

“We evolving from a typical game developer to other… other things I can’t disclose yet,” he said in a newly published interview with Develop.

He said an announcement is due to be made “in a few months”.

“Crytek was built to grow not just from the team size but also its… well, for now let’s say ‘competency’,” he added.

Yerli believed the studio’s change in policy might have led some staff to believe the company was set to decrease its headcount. Yerli said this is “by no means the case”.

Crytek’s Frankfurt outfit inhabits some 300 developers, but little is known of what its teams have turned to since the release of Crysis 2.

Eidos Montreal ‘to become 700-dev mega-studio’

Square Enix will double headcount if £1.2m grant is approved, article claims

Japanese publisher Square Enix wants to position its Canadian studio Eidos Montreal at the very centre of its game development operations, a new report claims.

Its subsidiary Eidos Montreal could grow from about 350 staff to nearly 700 if a deal with state officials is agreed, according to local business publication La Presse Affaires.

But it is believed that Square Enix wants a CA$2 million (£1.2m) grant from local government to facilitate the rapid increase in staff. That deal is not thought to have been finalised.

Square Enix is in talks with influential funding group Investissement Quebec, the report alleges, and has reached a “tentative agreement” on the CA$2 million grant. Finer details still need to be agreed on.

A Square Enix spokesperson was not available at time of going to press, nor was Investissement Quebec.

Eidos Montreal, which recently concluded development on the console blockbuster Deus Ex, would become one of the biggest game studios in Canada if the deal goes ahead.

Reportedly, Eidos Montreal will create the first hundred jobs by the end of 2012, with the remaining 250 employed by 2015.

Key to the deal is the generous tax break subsidies offered by the Quebec government, which offers studios a 40 per cent discount on production costs.

That generous tax policy has attracted a growing number of game publishers, most recently THQ, which is shutting down numerous triple-A studios across the globe in favour of a new mega-studio in Montreal.

Ubisoft and Electronic Arts together employ about 3,000 game developers across Montreal.

Square Enix apparently looked across various Canadian districts, such as Ontario and British Columbia, when debating where to build its new studio. It decided on Montreal after consultation, though the logistics remain unknown.

Eidos Montreal will either have to relocate to bigger offices, or buy more space, to incorporate another 350 staff. There is a chance both studios will be separately located.

Hands-on (Virtually) With HEROCLIX ONLINE

By Seth Robison, Newsarama Contributor

Since debuting in 2002, HeroClix has stood out among all the superhero action RPG games thanks to its ever expanding gallery of miniature figures that do double duty as game pieces and as tiny works of art. In the past nine years over three thousand of them have been individually molded, decorated and bound by a common set of rules. Now the game is being brought online and Newsarama had the chance to take a few turns.

HeroClix Online is currently undergoing its “Paid Beta,” meaning that for a small fee players can take part in the game’s online shakedown, offer suggestions and report bugs. With the Beta label firmly attached, not much can be honestly said about the in-progress visuals and user interface, but with the groundwork laid it’s easy to see the direction the final game will take.

Foremost is the simulated economy that seeks to simulate the scarcity and randomness of the real-world process of buying sealed booster packs or trading/auctioning individual figures. To that end, HeroClix Online supports a micro-transaction system, where a common currency (Clixbucks) is used to buy sealed booster packs or crates of sealed booster packs. This currency is also used to enter tournaments, of which more Clixbucks are prize. Paid Beta members are supplied with a starter set of pieces from the Fantastic Four starter set, enough to play the basic game, but just as in the real-world, purchases of boosters becomes necessary to grow your competitive advantage, along with the attendant risks of ending up with lower-quality game pieces.

As it is presently constructed, HeroClix Online is supporting only Marvel Universe characters. The only boosters available are from the Hammer of Thor set which includes primarily Thor and his supporting cast, but also includes pieces like Captain America, Daredevil, Iron Man in his Thorbuster armor and all of the volume 2 iteration of the Runaways.

The lobby interface offers multiple tools for organizing your collection and contacting your friends. Apart from an announcements tab, there is the store tab where you can buy boosters and an auction tab that tracks all the ongoing sales. Another tab is set up for the deliberate opening of sealed virtual boxes, sifting through your collections and assembling teams in advance of competition. The lobby tab allows user to launch a pick-up game at any character point limit and for up to four players, or to join one of the scheduled tournaments.

The final tab is for a tutorial, though it is just for the online game’s user interface. While it ably takes players step-by-step though the game’s displays and the process of moving pieces across the game board, it does not go into detail as to the game’s actual rules. Those new to HeroClix entirely are vehemently encouraged to take the time to carefully read over the game’s rules, available on their website before attempting to play. While the game provides pop-up windows to explain individual player abilities, a lot of the game’s structural rules, like the ‘pushing’ system, are not entered into in a great amount of detail.

Once a match is launched, the game provides its most useful and welcome service, that of a completely impartial judge. From the initial dice roll that determines who picks what the map will be (three available at this point: The Baxter Building, Asgard and a S.H.I.E.L.D. base), who chooses their starting location first and who moves first and all though the match, the game will prohibit illegal actions, prompt players to use situational abilities and determine sight lines for ranged attacks. Anyone used to playing a ‘friendly’ board game of any type will quickly see how welcome this is. Having the game ‘computerized’ also helps during play in unexpected ways, by listing all available moves at any time, preventing players from missing opportunities.

In-match, the pieces are represented in their molded poses, without any additional animation, but with a fair level of detail that can be adjusted to an individual’s liking/PC power. The maps on the other hand, while floating free in space while attached to a HeroClix Online ‘base,’ feature small touches of animation: rippling water in a fountain or robots showing sparks while working away on armored suits. To view the action, there is a complicated system of camera adjustment and zooming. With a few clicks and some finagling, you can look from eight angles or from directly above all while being able to zoom in tightly to see any individual piece on the board, though not from their perspective, which limits its utility.

In play, HeroClix Online works similar to any turn-based strategy game. Its unique rules limit player movements and actions, and its ‘click’ system of hit points and developing/changing powers provide a special challenge to new players. At the same time it rewards those who take their time to do their homework about their individual characters. If a player knows personally how their character will change as they take damage they can plan ahead better for situations. For instance, a Doctor Doom piece available in the starter set will only be able to force re-rolls of any player’s attacks during a small window in the middle of his ‘click dial’ and not at the beginning of a match or near the end of his life.

A game of HeroClix Online moves at a very deliberate pace, while move timers are displayed, there are currently no consequences for reaching your time limit. Each turn, a player gets at least three moves to make, though each character, with some specific power-related exceptions, are limited individually by a fatigue system that will damage a character if he/she/it moves or attacks too many times in a row. Even with the game quickly resolving combat, expect a well-played game to take between thirty and forty-five minutes, with time spent early jockeying for position and missed die rolls complicating combat resolutions.

The largest barrier to HeroClix Online’s success is the acceptance by players of paying real money for virtual objects, something all but unheard of when the original game was launched, but not unusual in the age of Farmville and Team Fortress 2 hats. Another key will be to balance the desire to buy instead the real-world game pieces, which do double duty as tiny statues of favorite characters, with easier access to play the game without having to lug the figures around.

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