Daily News Spin — January 5, 2001 (Friday)

Driving Mr. Trevor

Shoot Club gets behind the wheel and no one is safe. Tom's weekly LAN party tries its collective hand at driving games and goes all the way to London.

The Total Annihilation game you never saw

Real-Time Strategy Innovation is the title of Brad Wardell's latest column. Brad discusses how he and Stardock were very close to licensing to TA engine to create a new and improved RTS, Mobilization, and shares his design goals.

Mobilization was to introduce a few new concepts to the genre. We wanted to simplify the actual game play while making the game mechanics more complex. That is, less clicking, more thinking. So the first thing we did was eliminate the entire unit creation mechanism. Really, how do you build people? I bet Napoleon would have loved to be able to conjure up 10,000 more soldiers after Waterloo if he just had enough wood and gold.

Click here to tell us if Mobilization would have been great or a dud.


Wow, it's not enough that the Internet is imploding (CNET crap, UGO crap, IGN crap, Gamefan crapped out), but both of us are a bit under the weather today. It may take us a little while to get anything new up today. Check back later. We do have a new column from Brad Wardell we'll get up and maybe one or two other things. Not any game news of note so far today, but we're sure there will be some. Surely there's another gaming network due to topple?

Stop by our forums in the meantime. We have some lively discussions going on.

Daily News Spin — January 4, 2001 (Thursday)

Top Stories: 3am, EQ Addict Sentenced, 2By3 and Matrix announce games, Myth 3 and Age of Wonders 2, Future Network (Daily Radar, PC Gamer) stock price plummets

Slippery Xbox specs

IGN.XBOX posted an interview with J. Allard, General Manager of the Xbox. Some of the system specs have changed. To wit:

Graphics processor: From 300MHz to 250MHz

Polygon performance: From 300 M/sec to 125 M/sec

DVD movie playback: Now requires remote control accessory

When asked why they had changed specs after Seamus Blackley last year said, ""The only changes that you'd ever possibly see -- and I think that the probability of there being any changes is extraordinarily low -- would be upgrades to system performance", the answers got a bit evasive. About the polygon count dropping:

The funny thing about poly performance is that that's a theoretical number, and it's a good number to talk about because competitors talk about theoretical numbers, but we've long held that the most important number is what game performance looks like. So the fact that NV20s are in developers hands is great, and the final hardware will be in their hands in a couple of months. I think we'll have no problem making the 3x differentian in real game performance, and maybe even more.

Then about the graphics processor change:

It's more of a spec refinement, not a change. Technically it's a change -- that's the clock rate we're going to be able to achieve and still maintain the 3x performance.

That's pretty cool. It's a refinement and not a change, unless you want to get technical and then well, ok, it is a change. Heh.

The most surprising bit is that they're not going to include a remote control device for DVD playback with the Xbox. If you want to watch DVD movies, you have to buy your own remote. There will be no other way to do it!

What is up with this crazy Xbox? Comment here.

Future Network stock price plunges

We saw this story at Gamers.com. Future Network issued a second profit warning indicating that revenues would be 3% lower for 2000 than projected. Their stock price then dropped a whopping 44%. Future Network, which is based in the UK, owns Imagine Media, which in turn owns Daily Radar, PC Gamer, and Next Gen.

Future cited the PS2 shortage as the primary reason that sales were down. They're still waiting on the final word on their December sales, but they're now expecting revenues for the year to be about $381.1 million, with about $50.6 million of that being profits.

Myth 3, Age of Wonders 2 revealed

Saw this at Blue's News. G.O.D. has sent out gold masters of Oni and tossed in a promo calendar as well. The promotional calendar features some tidbits about all of Gathering's games, including mention of a planned Age of Wonders 2 and Myth 3.

Myth 3: The Wolf Age is a prequel and takes place 1000 years before Myth. It will be developed by Mumbo Jumbo. Here's the description from the calendar (via Blues):

It takes place 1000 years before the start of Myth: The Fallen Lords and follows the life of Connacht - the legendary hero who saved humanity from the insidious Myrkindia and the oppressive Trow, eventually becoming the emperor of all human lands. Myth III explores the daunting past before the Great War and the destructive clashes between the races.

In 1421 AE, the world is in sheer chaos. The nightmare, Myrkindia, runs rampant over the lands. The Trow enslave the Ogre to build titanic temples to their god. A new Leveler, claiming to be Moagim reborn, has just risen and swears to smash the empire of Cath Bruig. Most of humanity has been scattered for hundreds of years, existing in war tribes who hide in fear of the evil creatures who stalk the night. Myth III: The Wolf Age will live up to even the most critical Myth fan's expectations, yet is immediately engaging and easy-to-learn for the first time strategy player.

Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne is also mentioned in the calendar. According to Blues, it will use a "top of the line Direct 3D graphics engine". It's being developed by Triumph Studios who made the original and should be out in early 2002.

We had heard that both these games were in development, but this is official confirmation. Has a calendar ever lied to us before? We think not!

We're up for these games, or maybe we should say we're down with them. We'll be their faithful dogs, or something like that. We're sure they'll be the bomb, or at least a minor exploding device. Hey, can someone lend us a teenager and teach us how to be cool?

Is it hopeless? Will we never be kewl? Do we want to be? At least Myth 3 and Age of Wonders 2 sound cool, right? Tell us.

Three by 2By3 Games and Matrix

Those wargame developers are busy. Barking like an angry terrier at the heels of the annoucement of the formation of 2By3 Games comes the announcement that we're getting 3 games from 2By3 Games and Matrix, their chosen publisher. From the press release:

Matrix Games and 2BY3 Games today announce they will team up to bring three new computer wargames to market during the next three years. 2By3 Games, featuring the designs of award-winning game designer/programmers Gary Grigsby and Keith Brors, will develop three games to be published by Matrix Games. The first game, Uncommon Valor: Campaign for the South Pacific will feature the New Guinea and Solomons air, sea and land campaign that proved to be the turning point in the war against Japan. The second game, War in the Pacific: Struggle Against Japan 1941-1945, will feature the entire war against Japan from Pearl Harbor to Japan�s surrender. The third game will feature the struggle in the Mediterranean during the first half of WWII.

All three games will feature the historical detail and accuracy that Grigsby designs have been known for during his career that spans nearly twenty years. 2BY3 Games will also be assisted in the development of the three titles by Matrix Games programmers and artists. Several of these have worked on earlier Matrix Games revisions and updates of Grigsby games, most notably Steel Panthers: World at War.

Atten-hut! A new War in the Pacific from Grigsby? Unlike MacArthur, we shall not return that one! What do you think? Post here.

Stories we hate: EverQuest addict sentenced for death of infant

We hate hearing about stories like this one. This was spotted at Avault. It's a story about a 25 year old man, Tony Bragg Sr.,who killed his 9 month old son. He "assaulted" the child and left him to die. At the time he was playing EverQuest and was upset at being disturbed. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Both sides claimed that EverQuest had nothing to do with the crime and claimed that it would have been something else that triggered it, such as Bragg Sr. watching a football game and being interrupted.

We agree that you can't blame EverQuest, but this does highlight just how addictive are games like EverQuest. There are stories of people losing jobs because of EverQuest, marriages breaking up, and so on.

What do you think? Is this just the beginning of a problem with game addiction? As games get more realistic and life-like, will we see more and more people shunning work and family for games? Post here to comment.


The big news as far as gaming websites are concerned is the dissolution of the CNET Gamecenter Alliance, which is hardly a secret anymore. How does this affect Quarter to Three? Well, it cuts off our tiny revenue stream at the end of January. While it's true that we've just been getting started with this site and weren't really making much from it, it's easy to live with that if we can look ahead and see a brighter future. Right now things don't look so great.

So what does that mean for our future? We really don't know. We both really enjoy running this site, but it takes a lot of time and it really has to be more than a hobby for us to continue it, at least as we currently do.

So we're fishing around right now to see what opportunities are out there. Ideally we'd prefer an arrangement similar to the one we had, one that paid us a set CPM based on our traffic. That would allow us to focus on growing the site by doing what we know how to do best — create new and interesting content. We may look into selling our own ads, but this presents new problems outside the obvious difficulty everyone is having in selling ads now.

And of course our position isn't unique. There are a lot of sites out there now looking for ways to be profitable — not because anyone at this point is convinced that websites are a way to easy wealth, but simply because they love running a site and they just want to get some kind of return from their effort. We hope that the web scene doesn't devolve into two kinds of websites: the huge sites like Gamespot and Gamecenter, and fan sites. We love fan sites, but we hope that there's room for small, professional sites too.

So if anyone has any ideas, post them on our message board or email us. We're doing our own digging, but we're only two guys with about 1.5 brains between us. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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