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Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

  

EA Salt Lake Layoffs

The Escapist has a statement from Electronic Arts confirming an unspecified number of layoffs at EA Salt Lake, developer of some Tiger Woods PGA Tour games and Sims 3 expansions among other things. "EA Salt Lake is becoming largely focused on mobile development, including The Sims and other projects. Recent shifts unfortunately resulted in the reduction of a few teams," the publisher said in a statement. "As we look to match skills with opportunities, some staff will be offered other positions at EA, while others will leave the company."

QuakeCon 2014 in July

The Bethesda Blog announces QuakeCon 2014 will be in July this year, the only other month when the Dallas area is as hot as it is in August, when the id Software-centric LAN party/game convention normally takes place. Here's word:

Returning for its 19th year, North America’s largest BYOC LAN party returns to the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX — taking place Thursday, July 17th – Sunday, July 20th.

For regular QuakeCon attendees, you’ll immediately notice that we’ve moved the event forward by a couple weeks. As such, we’re already making this year’s room reservations at the Anatole available. Figure out your plans with friends on the QuakeCon forums and then dial 1-800-Hiltons (or visit this link) to take advantage of the $159/night special rate. Just be sure to reference QuakeCon 2014!

Moving the event ahead by a month, we’ll also be sharing updates on the event earlier than ever. Expect the first updates on registration in the coming month.

Each day of QuakeCon is packed with game presentations, contests, entertainment, announcements, panel discussions, parties and more. Come check it out for free!

Ships Ahoy - King's Bounty: Warriors of the North - Ice and Fire

1C Company announces King's Bounty: Warriors of the North - Ice and Fire is now available via digital distribution, saying the boxed version of this DLC for King's Bounty: Warriors of the North will also come to some territories in the future. Here's a feature list outlining what this adds:

  • Creature skill system – lead your troops through dozens of battles and they will become stronger than ever!
  • Snow Elves – a new Elven nation that prefers snow and blizzard of the Ice Gardens instead of the green forests of Merlassar.
  • Necrolizards – a new kind of the undead, Lizardmen that have risen from the dead.
  • New locations to explore.
  • Over 20 new creatures.
  • Revamped creatures of King’s Bounty: Warriors of the North.
  • New items with unique attributes.
  • Over 20 hours of additional gameplay.

Epigenesis Free Weekend

The Steam page for Epigenesis reveals it is on sale for 75% off during what is a free weekend for this multiplayer first-person shooter that won Epic's "Make Something Unreal Live" competition last year. Here's word on the game, which is still in Steam Early Access:

Epigenesis is an online multiplayer sports/FPS game in which two sides are locked in a never-ending fight for world domination by playing ball. In this non-lethal ballgame of the future, players leap across platforms suspended high up in the air trying to get a ball located in the middle of the arena and score goals against their opponents. Each player carries a gravity cannon capable of pushing enemies (and friends) down from the heights of the arena.

When a player scores, he receives a genetically modified super-seed and gets the opportunity to plant it onto a platform to capture it. To win the game you must capture towers and construct a node system from your goal post all the way to your opponents' goal post. If this hasn't happened by the time that the clock reaches zero, the team with the most scores win!

Teamwork, tactics and precision is key to win eternal glory in a game of Epigenesis!

Ships Ahoy - Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is now available via GOG.com and Steam and likely other distributors as well. Here's word on this offbeat action/adventure:

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a game about destruction, deception, and fatherhood. The player controls Octodad, a dapper octopus masquerading as a human, as he goes about his life. Octodad's existence is a constant struggle, as he must master mundane tasks with his unwieldy boneless tentacles while simultaneously keeping his cephalopodan nature a secret from his human family.

In this sequel to the splash hit Octodad, our cephaloprotagonist has gotten himself in a bind between his wife’s mounting mistrust, and a disastrous trip to the local aquarium! Are you dad enough to control the titular octopus father as he strives to hide his nautical nature from his family while keeping his tangled tentacles intact?

Dark Souls 2 Video

This new trailer shows almost nine minutes of raw gameplay footage from Dark Souls 2, From Software's upcoming action/RPG sequel. Various gameplay mechanics and lots of combat is included along the way. Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

  • Humble Weekly Sale: Codemasters on Humble Bundle.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on Steam. Save 70%.
  • The Ship on Steam. Save 80%.
  • Splinter Cell Franchise on Steam. Save up to 75%.

Evening Interviews

Evening Patches

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Things to do in GTA V - Frogger (NSFW). Thanks nin via Kotaku.

Star Swarm Demo

The Star Swarm demo for Windows is now available on Steam, offering the chance to experience Oxide's Nitrous Engine, a 64-bit cross-platform strategy game engine that's been described as "stunning." This is not a game, but a tech demo of the Stardock-funded project (the Steam page calls it a "benchmark"), described thusly: "Star Swarm is a real-time demo of Oxide Games’ Nitrous engine, pitting two AI-controlled fleets against each other in a furious space battle. Star Swarm shows off Nitrous’ ability to have thousands of individual units on screen each running their own physics, AI, threat assessments and pathfinding." Word is this is optimized for AMD Mantle (due today, but not yet available here), but it is not required.

Warlock 2 Trailer; Editor Plans; Livestream Today

Paradox Interactive now offers this this tongue-in-cheek trailer showing off gameplay in Warlock 2: The Exiled, the upcoming fantasy-themed wargame sequel in the works at Ino-Co Plus. For those who like what they see, a livestream of the game should kick off in about two hours at 2:00 pm EST on the Paradox Interactive Twitch channel. Finally, Paradox also announces plans to support the game with the release of level editing tools and Steam workshop support, saying this will provide "fans with a simple way to alter the game with custom scenarios, allowing magical modders to edit quests and place resources and cities on customized maps, weaving all of their changes together into unique Warlock 2 campaigns which can then be shared with mages throughout the world via Steam Workshop." Continue here to read the full story.

PC Lococycle Next Month

Twisted Pixel Games reveals plans for a PC edition of Lococycle amid a post about plans for the Xbox 360 edition of the Xbox One motorcycle game, saying they've been "secretly" working on a version to release on Steam. They say the Steam and Xbox 360 editions are both due on February 14th, and each edition will be priced at $10.00. They celebrate the news with a giveaway of a "highly customized, one-of-a-kind, Xbox 360 console and controller," and by reposting the game's live-action launch trailer. Here's an official description:


Newly self-aware, I.R.I.S. the martial-arts wielding assassin motorcycle, has begun a cross-continent escape to freedom. I.R.I.S.’s only ally is her engineer Pablo, who gets conscripted into the quest after his pant leg gets caught in her chassis. Hunted by the psychopathic motorcycle S.P.I.K.E. and a multinational weapons cartel, I.R.I.S. and Pablo face long odds, but they are riding for ‘Murica and freedom - so how can they lose?

Continue here to read the full story.

Battlefield 4 Mantle Update Released

EA's Battlelog announces the delayed "Mantle" renderer is now available for the Windows edition of Battlefield 4 for owners of AMD graphics cards, though for some reason this comes in advance of the new AMD beta drivers to enable support of the new API (when they're released they should show up on this page). They offer benchmarks to show the performance improvements seen running the military shooter sequel under Mantle, and the following explanation:

Mantle is a new low-level graphics API that we’ve been working very closely with AMD on over the last 2 years and it is a major change & improvement to how we are able to program & use modern GPUs in order to get the most out of them.

Battlefield 4 on PC is already quite heavily optimized using DirectX 11 and DirectX 11.1, but with Mantle we are able to go even further: we’ve significantly reduced CPU cost in our rendering, efficiently parallelized it over multiple CPU cores and reduced overhead in many areas.

The biggest performance gains can be seen when the game is bottlenecked by the CPU which can be quite common even on high-end machines and this was main goal to improve on with Mantle. We’ve also been able to streamline and optimize some of the GPU workload. The end result is that game performance is improved in virtually all scenarios in Battlefield 4 on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 when running with Mantle!

This update is the first release of our new Mantle renderer, and we will continue to provide more tuning for different types of configurations in future updates. Still, we are really happy with the performance improvements that we are seeing with this update and we believe you will be as well.

Next Car Game Makes $1 Million in One Week

Bugbear announces the Early Access to their Next Car Game offered through Steam and the Next Car Game website surpassed $1 million in sales in its first week of availability (there's also a free tech demo of the game available for those who sign up for their newsletter). They point out what a triumph this is for the demolition game which many publishers thought would crash and burn:

This is an amazing success for a racing game, especially considering our tough road to the success. Along the way we pitched the game to numerous publishers in the hopes that the game would eventually get released. Unfortunately we receive the same response all over again – there were no market for a game like ours. Come on, who would want to race and crash with such old beaters? Well, we would! Because of that we didn’t give up, but instead chose to seek crowd-funding on Kickstarter. However, we experienced another setback when our Kickstarter campaign didn’t reach the goal we were aiming for.

However, we still believed in the game, and we decided to release a playable technology sneak peek. We were literally awe-struck by the great response the sneak peek received. The pre-order sales skyrocketed, and we reached and actually topped our original Kickstarter funding goal in just week! And most importantly: the success showed us that the players believed in the game.

Wayward Terran Frontier Kickstarter

Here's a Kickstarter aimed at raising $50,000 to develop Wayward Terran Frontier, a single-player and multiplayer trading- and exploration-themed action/RPG set in space with an FTL feel (thanks Justin). They offer this "Ambition" trailer to show things off, and here's an explanation of the game from their Kickstarter pitch:

The game takes place inside a procedurally generated galaxy filled with dynamic events, making each game a brand new adventure.

At the every galaxy’s heart is a handful of human worlds which act as safe havens, and commerce hubs with functional economies. The core planets are brimming with life, surrounded by space stations and NPCs going about their daily lives (yours to bother and exploit). Out in the wilds of frontier space, there is more opportunity for profit—but also far greater danger.

Play How You Want

Wayward Terran Frontier lets you experience content the way you choose. You can be an honest freighter captain, delivering cargo and winning the galaxy over with charm and diplomacy from the safety of the core planets, or take to the wild frontier as a pirate in pursuit of plunder and glorious explosions. WTF will initially be a Windows-only release, but a port for Mac and Linux are both long-term goals.

Continue here to read the full story.

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition Graphics Comparison

Eurogamer has a "Next-Gen Face-Off" for the recently released Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, which ups the ante for the action/adventure prequel on next-gen (current-gen?) consoles. While they focus on how the Definitive Edition looks on Xbox One versus the PlayStation 4, they also compare the PS4 version to the regular PC edition, which in spite of being non-definitive previously boasted the best visual depiction of the game. As they note, and demonstrate in this video, for the most part, the PC edition still sets the bar for the series. Here's the explanation:

A direct comparison with the PC version set to the ultimate quality preset reveals some large discrepancies between the Definitive Editions compared with the full-fat PC experience. Aspects such as tessellation are missing on the characters and environments, with some of these elements appearing more blocky on the PS4 and Xbox One as a result. Meanwhile, motion blur is used much more sparingly, while texture resolution is noticeably lower in some cases. On the flip side, all the Definitive Edition graphical extras - such as the dynamic foliage and the impressive sub-surface scattering - are absent from the PC, which represents another (albeit smaller) compromise.

The differences here are interesting, because they suggest that the developers of both PS4 and Xbox One versions of Tomb Raider have made some sacrifices to allow for the key range of upgrades on offer in the Definitive Edition. We feel that TressFX may be the main culprit here, given how much impact the older iteration of the tech has on the PC game, where frame-rate can be halved by its inclusion in certain scenarios. Looking at the cut-scene performance analysis on PS4, we can see frame-rates drop significantly when Lara is on-screen, particularly in close-up. Another indication that TressFX sucks up considerable console GPU time concerns the sub-native cut-scene resolution downgrade we occasionally see on Xbox One. Again, we suspect that it's the close-ups on the TressFX-enabled Lara that incur the hit.

Continue here to read the full story.

EVE Online Livestream Today

CCP plans to take to their Twitch channel today at 2:00 pm EST (19:00 UTC) to discuss the latest happenings in EVE Online, their space-based MMORPG. Topics will include the Rubicon 1.1 patch that just went live, the game's just concluded epic space battle, Fanfest 2014, the upcoming New Eden Open, the latest Council of Stellar Management Summit, and more.

Morning Patches

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Thursday Night Football is long done for this season, but I still want to remind participants that there's one last game to pick on Beat the Insiders, since I know at least one person who wasn't aware this extended into the playoffs (or at least that was their excuse for falling behind me in the standings). Sadly, the latest weather reports make it seem less and less likely there will be snow for the Super Bowl, though I guess with talk of possibly rescheduling it in the case of bad weather makes this for the best.

TNF Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Building Rush.
Mio Craft.
Fire Catcher.
Link: Victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing Take a Cruise Together. Thanks nin.
Stories: Super Bowl sales might be a sign of challenges ahead.
And Now, Ads for the Super Bowl Ads.
BBC News - German cows cause methane blast in Rasdorf.
Science: “Astrobiologist” sues NASA, says Mars rock a “mushroom-like fungus”.
Can flywheel technology drive out the battery from car hybrids?
Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth.
Images: They wanted to shoot me making games on local TV. I couldn't resist. So awesome.
Do a barrel roll.
See 'The Shining' Twins All Grown Up. Scarier now.
Media: Cat versus Mailman. Thanks nin.
Weatherman versus douchebag.
Broncos versus Seahawks in real life.



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