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Check out Caro’s new game Legend of Fae! It’s featured on Steam!


Caro's Game!

Carolina, our awesome master artist just released her game on Steam. It’s awesome and incredibly beautiful. It is currently being featured on Steam, and here’s the link to the game.

The story and concept of the game:

Sea Cross Island was a quiet haven just off the mainland, but recently strange things have been happening! Mysterious creatures known as Fae have started appearing and are wreaking havoc. A young girl named Claudia, is thrust into adventure as she searches for her missing uncle amongst the chaos. It’s a dangerous journey but she’s not without friends. Four elementals are drawn to her aid as Claudia finds out that she’s actually a sorceress! Embark on a journey to discover the secret behind the mysterious Faery Gates.

Please go out and buy this game! Caro poured her love and passion into this game, and it really shows.

Lessons from WoW – from both player and developer perspectives


Last night our guild (a 10-man party) finally conquered Nefarian in Blackwing Descent in normal mode, which is the 12th and the final boss in the latest patch of World of Warcraft – Cataclysm. It has been more than 3 months since we started the raid progression. We are not a PFU (play for uber) guild at all, and this progress is by no means fast, as top tier guilds have already finished the hard mode for all the bosses months ago. Still, as a team that can only spend around 7 hours a week, we all felt really excited, with the great satisfaction of achievement :)

This is the charming part of World of Warcraft. Even though it’s already in its 7th year and 4th major version, it still provides great fun for so many players around the world. WOW is still considered a hardcore game, because they don’t provide you a way to level up or gear up fast even if you’re willing to pay. For new players, it would probably take them 3 months to get to see the boss if they only spend an hour or two per day. But on the other hand, the fruit of success tastes so much better for the efforts you spent.

The raiding experience in WOW is both fun and challenging, and requires very high level of teamwork, including:

1) All the members should have similar levels of expectation. Blizzard has been trying very hard to accommodate all sorts of players – including those pursuing world first kills to those who never raid but fish all the time. However, you definitely cannot put them in the same party. It’s the best case if all the members can regularly spend the same amount of time (meaning sacrificing their personal time for other activities), be willing to make progress, value the team’s overall benefits over his own, and always respect others. This has nothing to do with game skills or anything – in fact PVE in WOW is never a skill intensive game. But having this kind of team is by far more difficult than the game itself.

2) There are 10 classes for characters and 3 talent trees for each class, allowing the formation of a 10-person group with various combinations. The boss skill is very versatile, and according to the team’s composition, there are usually different types of strategies that players need to find out themselves. Top tier guilds find out the solution by trial and error, and lower tier guilds can have plenty of resources to find on web. Even with the numerous guides online, you still have to find out the best way that your team can execute with the lowest possibility of error. It’s very common for a team to get stuck at a boss for 50-100 raid attempts.

3) Even if the game is not skill intensive, it is knowledge intensive. The game has a lot of internal mechanisms, which are either announced by Blizzard, or discovered by the community. Some players even spend time building mathematical models and do simulations to find out how to maximize damage / survival ability, and all players participating in raids would have to reference those information for the best performance. This kind of information cannot be found within the game, and the players need to spend extra time on the web to find out.

I was very lucky to have a team like this so that I could enjoy the game. Some of the teammates are my old friends back in college, and some of them are 10 years younger than I am that I have never met in person. Still, while we were playing, we all had the same goal, and I believe we all had the same fun.

I started playing WOW around 5 years ago when it was still relatively new. Stopped twice in the middle, but then came back again when a new version was published. The game has changed a lot since its first version, which is something that we can learn from.

1) In the first version, PVE raiding was so much harder than it is now. I couldn’t even conquer the entry level dungeon at that time before I quit for the first time. At that time, a raid team requires 40 people, and just to get all the people online at the same time is already a huge pain. Everyone in the team had to spend probably over than 50 hours to keep farming for some special gear. Otherwise, it was impossible to survive. Probably less than 1% of the players would be able to get in the final dungeon, let alone experiencing it.

Blizzard clearly tried very hard to fix the problem by finding out a way to satisfy both the uber players and normal players. Right now, a dungeon can be finished by either 10 or 25 people, with the same set of drops (just different in quantity). Each dungeon has a normal mode and a hard mode, where normal mode can be accomplished by a team like ours, and hard mode definitely requires a lot more.

2) The progress of leveling and collecting gears can be repetitive and boring. Blizzard also made a lot of efforts here. They made leveling much more faster, easier to get access to fast mounts, and older version of dungeons much easier. Whenever they have a new version (new dungeons), they nerf the old ones, so that new players would be able to catch up more easily.

Blizzard also spent a lot on designing missions during leveling. A lot of missions have stories behind them, and by helping out the NPCs you get to experience them. Some of them are pretty big stories that are described in series of missions, and some of them are really interesting or sarcastic little things that will make you smile knowingly. Even without the raids, by going through all the missions and experience the story, the game would already be very good.

3) Blizzard is never afraid of changes. They are even notorious for tweaking things back and forth especially for class balancing – one common critique of WOW. Despite that, there are something that never gets changed: for instance, the threat system, which requires a team to have tanks, healers, and damage dealers. This is core of PVE gaming, which requires each member to co-work, rather than having a hero that is better than everyone else. Also, unless you pay other people to play for you, there’s no way to get top gears without participating in the raids, as few of them are trade-able.

You can definitely tell that this game is well designed in all perspectives: story design, world construction, boss skills, game complexity and so on. That’s how Blizzard makes a good game that keeps me playing.

Manhunter: New York


Classic Games We Loved

The early 1990′s were the Golden Age of Sierra Adventure Games, which featured a bunch of addictive, kid-friendly adventure titles like So You Want to be a Hero? and Space Quest III. These games featured cheesy protaganists and plenty of self-deprecating humor. So when Manhunter: New York came along, the sudden turn towards a dark tone and bleak atmosphere was shocking.
Manhunter: New York was set in the unimaginable post-apocalyptic future of the year 2004. An alien race called The Orbs had occupied New York City two years before and turned it into an impenetrable fortress. The Orb’s domination of the city was total — all inter-human contact was strictly forbidden. To make matters worse, your nameless protaganist was one of the stooges for the alien oppressors. As the eponymous Manhunter, it was your job to track down and arrest human criminals on behalf of the Orbs.
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Baldur’s Gate


Classic Games We Loved

This edition of Games We Loved is contributed by our friend and gaming junkie Alexander Liss
pic1There are certain things an RPG needs to do in order to qualify as “epic.” These things include: engrossing storyline, engaging game dynamics, open-world gameplay structure, lots of sidequests, replayability, and hidden goodies to reward the player who spent more time adventuring than was probably advisable. The classic PC RPG Baldur’s Gate had all of those things, yet went above and beyond in such a way that it lives to this day as one of the greatest of all time.
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Classic Games We Loved
Your village, once peaceful and thriving, is now all but deserted and overrun by creatures from the nearby forest. Press any key to venture on….
With those simple words begins a harrowing, epic adventure to the limits of the universe.
Ragnarok was a rogue-like PC game produced from 1992 to 1995 by Norsehelm productions. It also had a European release called “Valhalla.” Its bare-bones graphic interface was more than made up for by rich gameplay, vast amount of quest content, and classic rogue-like mechanics that built on what previous games had done as well offering revolutionary ideas:
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Streets of Rage 2


Classic Games We Loved
Streets of Rage 2 Max Neck SnapSome will insist there are more challenging games, longer games, more varied games, and less linear games than Streets of Rage 2- and they would be right on all accounts. Streets of Rage 2 was not revolutionary, but rather a well tuned classic from day 1, a work of casual arcade brilliance, meant to be played out in one sitting. While other designers were focusing on making games more accessible to players by adding save functions and level select screens, the Streets of Rage 2 team instead focused on making an accessible and re-playable arcade game without betraying the ethos of the genre. Read the rest of this entry »

Dirt Bike 3D


Classic Games We Loved
When I think of the couple games to whom I owe the most of my wasted youth, Dirt Bike 3D (Released 2000ish) is high in the mix (download here Mac or PC).
Dirt Bike 3D game Dirt Bike 3D brought three great things to the table: Uber-simplicity, a dynamic mouse control that was both rare and innovative (and controversial) for its kind, and a strong track editor.

Many of these old games would qualify today as “casual games,” and it’s such a misnomer. Jon Radoff of GamerDNA had some concise thoughts I couldn’t agree with more: engagement and depth of gameplay are not at all correlated to the size or length of the game. Dirt Bike 3D was a great example of a simple game that delivered a very deep engagement. The 2nd and 3rd points are my speculation at the reason why:
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Classic Games We Loved
Asterax Title ScreenDespite our penchant for 3D games, team Muse has fond memories of classic gaming, and most importantly, well balanced gameplay. On that note, I’m kicking off the Games We Loved section with an arcade style masterpiece that lived in relative obscurity, yet still managed its way into the youth and subconscious memory of a few of us at Muse – Asterax.
As you might have surmised, Asterax is an adaptation of the Atari classic, Asteroids. At first glance, it seems evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. The basic gameplay consists of blasting large chunks of rock into smaller chunks of rock – and eventually space dust. Once you’ve destroyed the rock, the level ends. There are no victory conditions, rather, your goal is simply to stay alive as long as possible – and collect as many points as you can. Your life is shortened by three types of alien spacecraft, and any collisions with the pesky bits of space rock. Simple enough. Read the rest of this entry »