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verMedia

MMO´S Massive multiplayer online games

INTERVIEW Markus Notch

top 10

designer gadgets

MAC or PC? find out inside

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verMedia PRODUCTION• ESAD CR EDITING• Jorge Oliveira DESIGN• Jorge Oliveira PRINTING• OffsetGraf DIRECTOR• Jorge Oliveira 24/12/2011 Made in Leiria

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Well hi there! Welcome to the first issue of Overmedia. This multi platform media magazine is brought to you by Jorge Oliveira a graduation student at Escola Superior de Artes e Design Caldas da Rainha, ESAD CR for short. made entirely by him, and showcasing his interests in gaming, technology and computers, this magazine is for an audience who wishes to stay updated on the recent discoveries this new world has stored for us, as well as general information on whats hot and whats not. With regards, Jorge Oliveira

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index

INTERVIEW notch persson

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OPINION pc vs mac

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NEWS wii angry birds

18 20

GADGETS top 10

24

ARTICLE mmo´s

28

REVIEW ipad 2

36

PREVIEW windows phone

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interview

NOTCH MINECRAFT’S MILLIONS:

Interview With Markus “Notch”Persson on the Indie Sandbox Building Blockbuster 8


Minecraft, the indie sandbox building game has quickly gone from cult favorite to blockbuster. According to the developer’s stats, the game has nearly 900K registered users, over 253K of whom have paid about $13 each for the game, mostly in the space of several weeks. Developed by a four person team, this likely means a net profit that’s already in the millions, and a success that major developers would envy.

“I’ve sold 6400 copies so far. I try to keep everything open so people can see how the game is doing and so, even though I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good idea or not.”

When did you learn to program? Notch: My father bought a Commodore 128 when I was seven years old, and we started subscribing to a computer magazine. It was a huge one, newspaper format, and it had program listings in it that you could enter into your computer to get a silly little game or fun effect and things like that. I started entering them, and noticed that they broke or did different things if you changed what you entered. I don’t remember exactly how fast this process was, but I know I made my first own program when I was eight years old. It was an extremely basic text adventure game where you had to enter the correct sentences to move on to the next room (“open the door”, “kill the ninja”, that stuff ). Minecraft seems to have more in common, code wise, with an en-

terprise Java application than with a regular game. Maybe that’s just because you’re running an application server... But am I right here? It seems like this is quite differently designed than most games. Notch: I don’t know if it does! Well, the distribution of the game is currently very web based, with links being passed around to join servers or load maps, but other than that it’s written pretty much the same way I write all my games. And it’s quite a few of them by now since I worked for king.com for over four years.But I do like to make my games less static than most regular games. I’m much more interesting in making working interactive worlds than just pretty sets you walk around in. And since my hobby games and Minecraft are designed on-the-fly rather than having a single fixed up front plan, I try to keep things as open as possible so I can easily add features that pop up.


“I try to spend a lot of time on the official IRC channel for instant contact with the most hard core of the players. It eats up a lot of time, but I think it’s worth it!”

I hear you’re planning on sticking with Minecraft for a while. Are you really hitting your stride with the game, or are you simply responding to the overwhelming interest? Notch: I’m really comfortable with the game code by now (although there are some ugly hacks in there, as usual), and there’s a million things that can be added. My original plan to have this be a shorter project are mainly driven by my desire to make more games and not just get “stuck” creatively. But since Minecraft seems to be getting quite popular and people seem to encourage all the things I add (even things not part of the original plan, such as nighttime, seasons and infinite maps), I decided to stick with this for as long as it’s popular.

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I will work on other games on the side, to preserve my creative sanity, but it will be my primary focus for probably quite some time to come. Hopefully. How many people have paid for the game? Is this a viable model for professional development? Notch: I’ve sold 6400 copies so far. I try to keep everything open so people can see how the game is doing and so, even though I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good idea or not.During the nine months I’ve been selling the game, that averages out to about 24 copies sold per day. For the last two days, it’s sold 200 copies per day, though, which is just crazy.


The sales curve has always been extremely tightly connected to the development speed. The more I work on the game and talk about new features, the more it sells. I also have a “day job” which I spend two days per week on, both for security, and for preventing me from becoming a total shut-in. As for being a viable model, I don’t know. What is? I definitely think you can get a long way by being fair to your customers and having a close relationship with them, and selling “pre-releases” while developing the game is a great way to both fund development and to gauge how well the things you’ve added so far works (both technically and commercially). Is this the first time you have worked with procedurally generated content? Notch: I’ve been interested in procedurally generated content

for a long time. Games like Daggerfall, Frontier (Elite 2), and roguelikes are very fascinating to me, they seem to hint at something bigger than just what the developer thought up. There’s a certain elegance in telling the computer how to make a world to show to the player rather than to tell the computer what world to show. When I was working on Wurm Online, I was in charge of making the maps, and intentionally used a very pseudo-random method for making them where not even I knew exactly what the maps looked like in detail. With the Java4k competitions, I found it easier to do procedural graphics and content rather than to try to squeeze a lot of graphics into the file, and I practiced it a lot there. Ironically, my “big” games are mostly procedurally generated these days, while my two latest Java4k games both have pre-designed graphics and levels.

“The most impressive thing I’ve seen technically was when people figured out how to make(...) computers that could add two numbers.”

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There are already custom clients for your game, written by the community. How do you feel about them? Notch: I find them demotivating. I’m a strong believer in the user’s right to play around with and modify games they’ve bought, so I’m not going to do anything about them. But a lot of them have the potential of encouraging or enabling piracy, or making griefing easier in multiplayer. What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen built in a Minecraft server? Notch: I don’t know if I’ve really seen anything that strikes me as strange. I’ve seen a lot of impressive stuff, both creatively and technically, and there’s a lot of weird abstract stuff, but nothing that really feels strange to me. I like it when people replicate things in the

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game, like the Riksdagshuset replica ecrider made for me this Christmas. The most impressive thing I’ve seen technically was when people figured out how to make single use logic gates out of sand and water in Minecraft. People made real working (single use) computers that could add two numbers. Very impressive! What is your coding routine like? Late nights? Coffee addict? Notch: I don’t think I have a routine yet! Many months into the project, and I’ll still changing my schedule a lot. It mostly depends on how interesting the problem I’m working on is. If I run into something tricky and interesting, I can stay up very late and try to get it working, but other than that I think my hours are mostly sane. I don’t drink a lot of coffee at home, but I am a sucker for espresso.


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PC MAC opinion

vs

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ince PCs and Macs hit the market, the debate has existed over which is best. Depending upon who you're talking to the PC vs. Mac debate is often even hotter than politics or religion. While you have many who are die hard Microsoft PC users, another group exists that are just as dedicated to Apple's Mac. A final group exists in the undecided computer category.

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Cost

For many users, cost is key. You want to get the absolute most for your money. In years past, PCs dominated the budget friendly market, with Macs ranging anywhere from $100 to $500 more than a comparable PC. Now this price gap has lessened significantly. However, you will notice a few key features that Macs tend to lack in order to provide a lower price:

Memory

Most PCs have anywhere from 2GB to 8GB of RAM in laptops and desktops, while Macs usually have only 1GB to 4GB. Keep in mind, this is for standard models, not custom orders.

Hard drive space

Macs typically have smaller hard drives than PCs. This could be because some Mac files and applications are slightly smaller than their PC counterparts. On average, you will still see price gaps of several hundred dollars between comparable Macs and PCs. For computing on a budget, PCs win. There are a few things to take into consideration that may actually make Macs more cost effective:

Stability

Everyone knows PCs crash, but Microsoft has made their operating systems more reliable. However, Mac hardware and software tends to be more stable and less likely to crash randomly than PCs.

Compatibility

Unlike with a PC, a Mac can also run Windows. If you want to have a combination Mac and PC, a Mac is your best option. Availability Macs are exclusive to Apple. This means for the most part, prices and features are the same no matter where you shop. This limits Mac availability. However with the new Apple stores, it’s even easier to buy Mac’s and Mac accessories. Any upgrades or repairs can only be done by an authorized Apple support center. This exclusivity is one of the things that helps makes Macs more stable. PCs, on the other hand, are available from a wide range of retailers and manufacturers. This means more customization, a wider price range for all budgets and repairs and upgrades available at most electronics retailers and manufacturers. It also makes it easier for the home user to perform upgrades and repairs themselves as parts are easy to find.

Software

The final Mac vs. PC comparison comes down to software. For the most part, the two are neck and neck. Microsoft has even released Microsoft Office specifically for Mac, proving Apple and Microsoft can get along. All and all, Macs are more software compatible as PCs only support Windows friendly software. Both systems support most opensource software. Software for both systems is user friendly and easy to learn. In the end, the choice comes down to personal preference. Due to price and availability, PCs tend to be the winner, while Macs remain the choice for the more elite or anti-Microsoft computer users.


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W news

ii

ho?

In 2005, Nintendo unveiled the Wii at the Electronic Entertainment Expo - but it showed the console without its controller. In 2011, Nintendo has come to Los Angeles and shown a controller, but not a console. Kind of.

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SO LET'S BE CLEAR: Wii U is a new console capable of HD resolutions, and having considerably more graphical power than Wii. But you'd be forgiven for not picking this up, because in its playable demos, Nintendo has chosen to highlight a few novel interactions and gameplay possibilities of the controller rather than Wii U's grunt. Several demos feature familiar Miis and Mario characters running around simple, colourful environments - albeit in crisp HD. At a preview event immediately after the Nintendo conference, you could just glimpse Wii U's sleek, curved remodelling of the Wii base unit design through glass letterboxes in locked cabinets. (Presumably these were empty shells accompanied by hidden dev kits.) Meanwhile, the only graphically intensive demo, a Legend of Zelda themed 'HD Experience', was interactive but not actually playable. The message was clear: we'll get to this part later. Today's star, then, is the part of Wii U you can pick up. Good job it's absolutely sensational.

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he Wii U controller is Nintendo hardware design at its absolute best. It displays innovation, lateral thinking, supreme ergonomics and a finish that, while not luxurious, makes you happy the instant you pick it up. It actually has more in common with the DS than the Wii remote, and not just because it presents you with a second gameplay screen. It's rich with unexpected features and offers a subtly different way of relating to games, rather than a single high-concept gimmick. And with its full suite of physical controls, its touch screen and its impressively sensitive gyroscope, it offers precision and control feedback the Wii remote simply does not. Also, crucially, it ensures Wii U is fully compatible with standard gaming control layouts and interfaces. It's big, but very light and extremely comfortable to hold.

A pronounced ridge across the back makes it easy to grip and it has that classic Nintendo rugged-plastic feel, with a matte surface. It's friendly rather than slick, and feels reassuringly familiar - the similarity now being with tablet devices, phones and portable consoles rather than a TV remote. The size is perfect for a device that will never leave the home; although we don't know what's inside it, or what its range is, we do know that the controller is useless without the base unit.Large triggers on the back, bumpers and the twin analogue sliders are all perfectly positioned and pleasingly tactile. The d-pad and face buttons are a little more out of the way. The decision to go for 3DS-style 'circle pad' sliders with a flat profile rather than proper analogue sticks seems odd initially; but it's probably to make them more discreet, and to be fair they don't seem to give away anything in precision.

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World Domination!

Angry Birds is dominating the best-selling-applications charts for Apple's iPhone.

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ot since the invention of bacon and eggs has the collision of fowl and swine tasted so good. A game called Angry Birds is dominating the best-selling-applications charts for Apple's iPhone with a simple, whimsical premise: Players turn different species of scowling birds into projectiles with which to crush a collection of grunting pigs scattered around various ramshackle structures. More than 12 million copies of Angry Birds have been sold since it went on sale late last year, most of them 99-cent downloads for iPhones and iPod touches, according to Rovio Mobile Ltd., the Finnish company that created the game. A number of famous people are said to be fans of Angry Birds, a popular mobile game that is one of many in a growing category of casual games for phones. Nick Wingfield explains. Why do smart people love seemingly mindless games? Angry Birds is one of the latest to join the pantheon of "casual

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games" that have appealed to a mass audience with a blend of addictive game play, memorable design and deft marketing. The games are designed to be played in short bursts, sometimes called "entertainment snacking" by industry executives, and there is no stigma attached to adults pulling out their mobile phones and playing in most places. Games like Angry Birds incorporate cute, warm graphics, amusing sound effects and a reward system to make players feel good. A scientific study from 2008 found that casual games provide a "cognitive distraction" that could significantly improve players' moods and stress levels. Casual games are defined by the ease with which they can be picked up, including by players bewildered by more complex "hardcore games" for PCs and consoles, with their intricate story lines and controls. The category spans early sensations like Tetris, the Russian-made puzzle game for PCs and consoles from the 1980s, to Bejeweled, a decade-old shape-matching game that is still in wide use in mobile devices.


“A number of famous people are said to be fans of Angry Birds” 21


Angry Birds has attracted an unusually high-brow roster of fans. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has said he plays the game on his iPad, according to Andy Payne, chairman of a British games-industry trade group, who spoke to Mr. Cameron at a group dinner in September. (A spokeswoman for the prime minister didn't return a request for comment.) The author Salman Rushdie in a recent radio interview called himself "something of a master at Angry Birds." And comedian Conan O'Brien posted a YouTube video recently to promote his new talk show, in which he boasts that he's on level four of Angry Birds. Angry Birds falls into a category known in the industry as "physics-based games," in which basic actions like falling and ricocheting provide the underlying challenge and fun of a game. Players use their fingers on the iPhone or iPad's touch-sensing screens to adjust the tension and angle of a slingshot loaded with a bird, with the goal of maximizing the damage the avian missiles cause to the pigs. Mikael Hed, chief executive of Angry

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Birds-developer Rovio, says the game's success is "really the sum of all of its parts," including the edgy-but-cute characters, amusing sound effects and simple rules. Rovio started in early 2009 with a rough idea of the protagonists it wanted to feature—a cast of sternlooking birds. It decided to make the game's villains a group of sickly-looking green pigs, in homage to the swine-flu pandemic then grabbing headlines. The reason the birds are so angry with the pigs, according to the back story of the game, is that the pigs swiped the birds' eggs to cook them up. Rovio spent about $100,000 on the original Angry Birds and has invested more in new game levels that it offers, free, through updates to the game, a Rovio spokesman says. Fueled by word of mouth, the game landed on the best-seller chart for Apple's App Store for Finland late last year. In February, when Apple made Angry Birds a staff pick in the U.K. App Store, sales exploded, Mr. Hed says. A couple of months later, the game became a best-selling paid app in the U.S. App Store, he says.


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top 10

gadgets

designer

Our editors have compiled a list of the "Top 10 Coolest Designer Gadgets" that we've come across in recent time for your enjoyment. Which ones are your favorites?

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Giovannoni Timesphere

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At $150, the Giovannoni Timesphere is a nifty alarm clock that is capable of projecting the time onto any surface via a wireless orb. While sitting on the base, the wireless orb is charged through induction and once it is completely charged feel free to place it wherever.

BenQ Wall Scanner

BenQ has unveiled a new type of scanner which can be hung on a wall (2cm - 9cm wide)to scan large posters or other images. The front cover can be replaced by a mirror for cosmetic “touchups� at the office or by a whiteboard for use as a notepad.

Seiko Bluetooth Watch

This Seiko watch not only tells time, it notifies you when a call or text message is received - on your phone - via Bluetooth. It also displays the battery level and network signal strength. SII in Japan has done a prototype of their bluetooth watch for mobile phone users.

iShirt

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Want a new way to carry your iPod Shuffle? Check out the iShirt, it's equipped with a magnetic clamp system to ensure your iPod Shuffle stays firmly attached even during vigorous activity. People who use pacemakers should never wear this shirt.

Ericsson Black Diamond

Designed by Jaren Goh, the Black Diamond handset is encased in a layer of polycarbonate and illuminated by OLED technology to create a "borderless screen" effect. It features a 4.0-megapixel camera and a host of other multimedia applications. No word yet on availability.

Transparent Toaster

This innovative "Transparent Toaster" concept uses special heating glass to warm a single slice of bread. It looks cool, but unfortunately, the glass doesn't reach a high enough temperature - at this time - to actually toast the bread.


gadgets 4 3 2

SoundArt Canvas Speakers

If you want to combine art and technology into one device, SoundArt has the answer in its stylish canvas speakers. Featuring one or two canvas speakers, a subwoofer, and your choice of canvas print. One potential drawback, it costs $3700.

iPod Nano Tunebuckle

Apple's iPod Nano is so small that it easily fits into a special compartment found on the Tunebuckle. This buckle will protect your Nano from scratches and has an opening for your headphones. It's made from "high grade metals and leather" and comes in white or black colors.

The Mini Desk

Made by MiniStatements, the "Mini Desk" looks good enough to drive. The entire desk is constructed from what looks like a real Mini with its top chopped off, interior gutted, and left door panel removed. Style doesn't come cheap, it retails at a whopping $4,400.

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Pong Clock In the old school Pong Š TV game you could put the paddles in such a position, that the ball kept bouncing forever. Quite hypnotic, and it became the inspiration for this time-killer clock. While this game of Pong randomly plays, the so called 'players' score the time. The left player scores the hours, and the right player scores the minutes, creating an unusual timepiece, ideal for those Friday afternoon moments.

Here's how it works: the score shown on the left and right sides correspond to the time of day -- a continuous random game of Pong is played by the clock every 24 hours.

The Pong Clock displays the time, but you can also switch to game mode. This allows you to play a game of Pong Š against the clock with the use of two buttons on the back !

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article

Its a

MMO

WORLD An In-Depth Background About MMOs

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•Aion is one of the most beautiful MMOs on the market.

SINCE

the start of the world-wide-web, online games have been keeping a large number of men and women amused across the world. Regardless of what type of game you're keen on - the internet has you covered. From Bingo to Checkers, you will find hundreds of chances to connect with others and play 24 hours a day. Recently, a new type of online pleasure has become just about the most addicting and entertaining games of the year. For many, MMORPG and MUD games have taken over the community. For those who do not know, MMORPG actually stands for Massively-Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Games. In less complicated terms, this means that hundreds of people role play and are in a position to virtually communicate with one another. Fortunately, you can find

lots of various kinds of MMORPG online games out there. Several virtual role playing worlds include the capability to not only take on other gamers in various countries, but to additionally personally become familiar with them. For several game addicts, it really is a totally distinct world, one which is a lot more relaxing and exciting than the one that they reside in. Typically, these kinds of role playing worlds tend to resemble a fairytale, including dragons and princesses. Whilst these kinds of online games are widely well-known today, they in fact have been in existence for quite some time. In the early 70's, a couple of gameaholics named Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw produced a role playing game through early multi user domains. Many of these games were used by a Telnet service.

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•Lineage II

Guild Wars II

By means of this client, users were able to play as many role playing games as they would like. Due to this fact, more games started to appear everywhere. The very first mainstream product ended up being sold to the public in 1984. The game, Islands of Kesmai, was extremely expensive, plus the graphics were anything but striking. Nonetheless, as the market grew, many diverse services popped up. For instance, Meridian 59 was launched in 1996 and produced an enormous following. Even as it was among the list of first online games, it actually allowed users to pay a membership fee, rather than pay by the hour. This change in gaming made countless people change to this type of MMORPG. Due to its uniqueness along with customer satisfaction, this network actually even now is out there now and has more users than ever.Since the early 1990's,

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MMOR swamping the internet. However, in the new millennium, technology has taken a giant leap in the video gaming industry. With achievements like Final Fantasy XI and Lineage II, users are able to not merely see the game through the character's eyes, but get a complete experience with the world. It truly is astounding for a game lover to be able to battle dragons and other characters with various other role playing users. With the consistent evolution of games and the internet, it is not impossible for this specific industry to climb even higher and grow to be even more successful. Soon these types of role playing games will become virtual reality havens; places intended for people to meet other users and characters on a totally different level. The opportunities are certainly unlimited for every kind of MMORPG.

SOME HISTORY CLASS ? In the ever advancing realm of PC gaming, one particular genre of game has quite recently taken the market by storm. That genre is Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). What began with very simple text-based adventures called MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) has since escalated into a worldwide phenomenon consisting of millions of players across hundreds of games and netting billions of dollars every year... and there is no sign of slowing. Today, games like World of Warcraft and EverQuest have dominated the market. Boasting powerful 3D graphics, persistent worlds that are truly epic in scale and a vast community of players that never sleeps, these games, and many others like them, have secured a solid foothold in the video game industry. The origins of these games are surprisingly humble. All of today's existing MMORPGs can trace their roots back to the mid -1970s and the first breed of true multiplayer online games known simply as MUDs or Multi-User Dungeons. A typical MUD is solely text-based with no graphical component at all; instead they use text to describe a particular room, treasure, event, or NPC. Players could input the actions they would like to perform based on a list of key phrases and commands (i.e. Attack, Move, Examine, etc.). Colossal Cave Adventure, Zork, and the very first MUD, MUD1 (now known as British Legends), are among some of the most popular titles of these games. Despite their age, lack of any graphics and often confusing interfaces, some of these games are still being played today, albeit with far less participation.


Meet the NUMBER ONE WoW The Most Played Game In The World ever created. Developed by Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft has almost twelve million monthly subscriptions and is now the largest MMORPG in the world-signed, keeping the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. In World of Warcraft or WoW, players create a character in a fantasy game world, traveling around the country, fighting monsters, completing quests and interacting with other players or non-player characters (NPC) in the game. When creating your character, players choose a realm or server to play in. Each realm is a duplicate of the game world. With so many realms players helps to spread across many servers. A server would not be able to handle twelve million players!

Good or Evil? Mass multiplayer online role playing games, have taken the world by storm over the last 21 years. These types of games have become more strategic and graphical since they first began in 1973 with Dungeons and Dragons. When home computers were made available and affordable to individuals the MMORPG’s began taking over the gaming industry. MMORPG’s offer player’s different options, for example an individual can choose their race such as druid, elven, vampire, dwarf, or human, they can choose their class such as archer warrior, or mage, and they can choose their character’s look and personality making them unique. Also within the game individuals can have relationships through their characters with other characters. Games such as Ultima Online and World of Warcraft, are a few popular

titles in the MMORPG industry. Individuals can become addicted to these games because their characters can be everything they want their physical selves to be. Individuals become emotionally attached to their characters, they can have limitless amounts of friends, choose their characters personality, and they can be rich, popular, and even envied by other players. In most cases an individual’s character is who the individual really wants to be, which makes their characters life more fulfilling than their own in the real world. The negative effects of MMORPG’s are players tend to have no social life outside the game. Individuals that play these games often lose track of time and forget to eat becoming malnutrition, or they have their food delivered and eat while playing

their game, which can cause obesity. Individuals also tend to lose large amounts of sleep, playing 48-72 hours before stopping. Individuals that play MMORPGs tend to be more aggressive. They become angry or irritable when they can’t play their game. Individuals that are addicted to these games find themselves having relationship difficulties problems at work, or school, because of the fact that all they want to do is play their game. The benefits of playing MMORPG’s are it is easy to make friends no matter where their actual location is. Individuals can have friends in Asia, Europe, or Australia and they can all ply together within the same game at the same time. But is this benefit enough to override the bad? The opinions vary from person to person. The choice is yours to decide.

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The Browser MMO phenomenon Without a doubt, Internet brought computer games to a whole new level. With them, playing ceased to be a one-person activity and gamers were given a way to communicate, share their common passion for that game and of course, play together. Internet also revolutionized communications. With the help of browsers, people from around the world had almost instant access to nearly anything, texts, movies, pictures, news and basically any other source of information. Everything went just fine until, one day,

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someone had the brilliant idea of merging those two, thus creating the first browser based online game... and the rest is history. With a timid start, but helped by the evolution of technology (especially Flash and Java), browser based MMOs evolved from simple numbers and text interfaces to high quality 3D web applications gaining more and more popularity. Further in this article, we're going to analyze the reasons behind it, how it all began and what may await us in the future. The first generation of browser games was based

on dynamic HTML (or DHTML) which had the capability of creating drop-down menus and rollover images. The first game to work in a browser was Earth: 2025, a turn-based strategy game launched way back in 1996. It used the popular tick system in which a turn passed after a set amount of time. After that, more and more games appeared and new technologies were developed. In 1999, maybe the best browser MMORPG, Runescape, which even today has millions of players, was launched together with Utopia, MMORTS and Hat-

trick, a football team simulator. From there on, the number of games as well as the number of players kept on rising, with browser games today being an important part of the gaming industry. There are some reasons why what was considered to be a geeky kind of game, managed to become so popular. First of all is accessibility. Basically, a browser supported game can be played from any computer with an internet connection (even ancient dial-up) and a working browser. You are no longer tied to a down-


loadable client, operating system or hardware configuration. You can play your game from home, work, school or traveling. It is an ideal type of game for people constantly on the move who can't always use their home computer but still want to play. This kind of people also don't have too much time on their hands so browser games are a perfect fit as most of them only require a few clicks a day, for a casual player at least. Of course there will always be hardcore players who stay on-line day and night watching their village

or character and trying to use the best strategy in order to be the best, but both types can live together and, unlike other games, even cooperate. But what kind of people plays browser games? Well, most of them are oriented towards the casual players, persons who usually use a computer at work and only want to relax a few minutes from time to time or want to have something else to do besides creating or editing documents. The secretary that usually plays Zuma will like games like FarmVille, while the guy

that spends his time playing Solitaire and MineSweeper would enjoy a more aggressive game like TribalWars, for example. As you can see, they don’t fit the hardcore gamer type you are used to. Their experience with computer games is limited. But they usually are familiar with the Internet, so bro wsers are an ideal place to hook them up. Quite simple in the beginning but with many strategical alternatives, these games are usually easy to learn and are n00b friendly, perfect for any beginner. Game companies are right

to approach this new market. The main reason is the numbers. There are many more people that only occasionally play on the PC than those who do it regularly. The bigger the market the more the chances to earn money with your game. Also, casual players are more willing to pay for certain advantages either because they cannot afford to spend too much time with the game or because they are easier to convince, while experienced players are more reluctant to these strategies and more careful with their money.

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review

Apple made the iPad 2 thinner, lighter, and more powerful than the first-generation tablet. The iPad 2 also has frontand rear-facing cameras, which enable FaceTime video chat, and at least one high-profile launch app iPad 2 exclusive in iMovie. While the iPad upgrades qualify as something more than a fresh coat of paint, the functional differences between the first generation iPad and iPad 2 are minimal. The iPad 2 is essentially the same device that reinvented the tablet market in 2010.

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Apple's new tablet is the best of its kind, but is it really good enough?

Yet,

the reality with the iPad 2 is that Apple has taken an iterative approach. In many ways, the iPad 2 is a crowd pleaser because it does not rock the boat. At 241mm tall, 186mm wide, and 8.6mm thick, the iPad 2 is just a hair smaller than the original iPad and it's thinner than the iPhone 4. It has a curved edge that makes it look a bit more 'space age' and, surprisingly, easier to grasp because you can curve your fingers more easily around the bezel. The most dramatic change is the

weight. At 680 grams, the iPad 2 is 80g lighter than the first iPad. That is about the same weight as a juicy red apple (curious, eh?). Yet, in using the device, it feels strangely lighter than it really is. Apple has made a second-gen iPad that feels lighter and more nimble, and its newfound mobility means it has lost the annoying heft of the original model. Meanwhile, the Motorola Xoom, at 730 grams, now feels like the tank that it is. (More about that later, because we do prefer the speedy pro-

cessor on the Xoom that handles 3D maps and games.) One other observation about the design: compared to the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 feels a bit more like a plastic plate (the back is actually metal) as though it really needs a protective case. Part of the reason for this 'cheap plastic' impression is that the device is one-third thinner than the original and 15 per cent lighter. Overall, the design is a stunner – it's brilliant. The aesthetics are much improved, although not everything about the iPad 2 is so equally impressive.

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preview

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango in-depth preview

M

ake no mistake, Microsoft isn't playing coy in the smartphone market any longer. The folks in Redmond are making a significant jump forward in the mobile arena, announcing that the upcoming version of Windows Phone, codenamed "Mango," will be heading to a device near you in time for the holidays. As its competitors have raised the bar of expectations to a much higher level, Microsoft followed suit by adding at least 500 features to its mobile investment, which the company hopes will plug all of the gaping holes the first two versions left open. We received a Samsung Focus preloaded with the most recent developer build (read: not even close to the market release version) and we had a few good days to put it through its paces. It's still far from completion, as there were several key features that we couldn't test out; some weren't fully implemented, and others involved third-party apps that won't be updated until closer to launch. Yet we don't want to call this build half-baked -- in fact, it was surprisingly smooth for software that still has at least four months to go before it's available for public consumption. At the risk of sounding ridiculously obvious, we're mighty interested in seeing the final result when all is said and done this holiday season. As a disclaimer, we can't guarantee that the stuff we cover here will actually look or act the same when it's ready to peek out and make its official introduction in Q4; as often happens, features and UI enhancements are subject to be changed by the Windows Phone team as Mango gets closer and closer to release. Let's get straight to brass tacks, since there's a lot of details to dive into.

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