Updated: Mar 06, 2015 09:25 am Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Friday, Mar 06, 2015

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MS: No PC Xbox Gold Fees

Microsoft's announcements of games supporting cross-device multiplayer support between Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One raises an interesting question of whether Windows gamers would be expected to pay a premium, as Xbox gamers must pay for an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription for the privilege of multiplayer gaming. Microsoft's Major Nelson tweets a reassurance that PC gamers and Windows Phone users will not be required to pay (thanks Videogamer). Word is: "Not charging. Xbox Live Gold will not be required for online multiplayer gaming using our service on Windows 10 PCs and Phones."

Zombie Army Trilogy Invades

Rebellion announces today marks the launch of Zombie Army Trilogy, saying the conclusion to their undead shooter series is now available for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Here's the launch trailer, and here's word:

Available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, Zombie Army Trilogy marks the apocalyptic conclusion of the cult shooter series, swelling the re-animated ranks with two eye-popping remasters and summoning an all-new brand of horror in a blood-curdling third chapter. Joining the collection is a brand new Horde mode, new enemies, a new cast of player characters and of course, a demonic zombie Führer.

Continue here to read the full story.

Diablo III Launch Postmortem

Diablo III game director Josh Mosqueira spoke at GDC, offering a bit of a postmortem on the launch of Blizzard's action/RPG sequel. Here's a video and PCGamesN recaps the talk. While the drastic changes the game has undergone over time shows how many problems it had from the start, it's interesting to see the company's take on things, as the realization that things were broken dawned on them about as soon as the game officially launched. Here's a bit:

The servers wasn’t the only issue with Diablo III at launch. Diablo III was abrupt and merciless in its difficulty, and it was causing players to adopt some very strange, and un-fun behaviours. “The game was so hard,” said Josh, “that instead of being these epic heroes, fighting against the forces of darkness, you were a Barbarian smashing pots. That’s right - the best heroes in Sanctuary were farming terra-cotta, because it was more efficient and less difficult than fighting monsters”

And when the game actually did give you loot, the chance at finding something worthwhile was miniscule. “When [you] were getting loot, getting bags full of yellows and legendaries, you would know as you clicked on every single one, that you weren’t going to get an upgrade.

“A true story: on my live character - my awesome Barbarian - it took me 104 hours before I found my first legendary. And do you know what it was? A quiver. Something was wrong there, and I remember that moment - what happened?”

Unreal Engine 4 Cinematic

This video shows off the power of Epic's Unreal Engine 4, as they say the cinematic was rendered in real-time, though they don't specify what sort of hardware that involved. Here's what they explain about the clip: "The kite cinematic created in Unreal Engine 4 features a diverse and beautifully realized 100 square mile landscape. Everything you see was generated in real-time by Unreal Engine 4 at 30fps and includes fully dynamic lighting, cinematic post effects and procedurally placed trees and foliage. Get Unreal and get going for free at www.unrealengine.com." Continue here to read the full story.

Steamship Ahoy - Professional Lumberjack 2015

Steam News announces the release of Professional Lumberjack 2015, giving an opportunity to simulate the life of a pro lumberjack, including cutting down trees, skipping and jumping, pressing wild flowers, putting on women's clothing, and hanging around in bars. Here's more:

Face the hard work of real lumberjacks as you control and operate various small and large machinery at your disposal. From huge Feller Buncher and Harvesters that debranch and cut up the trunks, to tractors, cranes, trucks and trailers for the transportation of the chopped logs. In your own expandable mill you will be able to produce different goods from the raw material and sell your product output for profit.

Morning Patches

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Morning Tech Bits

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Out of the Blue

I've been doing a little spring cleaning around my office, which is a nice way to pretend it's springier than it is. Actually I'm pretending this is spring cleaning as well, since some of the mess I'm dealing with predates last spring, so it's not like this is an actual annual affair. All right then, teens cleaning it is, which can inspire a new policy: Straighten out my office at least once per decade, whether it needs it or not.

Clean Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: PIG.
Stacker War.
Puppet Hockey.
Story: Harrison Ford Plane Crash. Dangers of flying Solo.
Science: Lockheed Martin laser weapon takes out truck.
NASA Research Suggests Mars Once Had More Water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean.
Polar Opposites- What Would Happen To Us If The North Pole Suddenly Became The South?
Media: 15-Year-Old Tears 'Through The Fire And Flames' To Bits. Thanks nin.
Mehdi Sadaghdar - Making a Full Bridge Rectifier.
Ice fishermen in Pennsylvania get surprise.

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Thursday, Mar 05, 2015

Guild Wars 2 Demos Coming

ArenaNet announces it is debuting two playable demos for Guild Wars 2 to attendees of PAX East this weekend, one PvE and the other PvP. They don't say when these will be publicly released (technically, they don't actually confirm they even will be), but they do outline what they will demonstrate from the MMORPG:

ArenaNet is bringing the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns demo to fans at PAX East after announcing it as the first expansion to Guild Wars 2 in January at PAX South. Fans should line up early at ArenaNet’s booth (#5116) to get their hands on two different demos. There is a PvE demo that takes players on the first steps of the journey into the new Heart of Maguuma jungle, where they can experience the revenant, the entirely new playable profession coming with the expansion. They can also get a glimpse of the Mastery system, ArenaNet’s new approach to introducing endgame progression in an MMO. There is also a PvP demo of the all-new Stronghold game mode. Stronghold introduces new strategy and role-play into PvP with a mode where teams become either pirates or knights who must infiltrate and defend ground to kill the enemy lord. In addition to the opportunity to get hands-on with Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, ArenaNet will have a stage at its booth running developer-hosted demos, guest play sessions with popular online Guild Wars 2 streamers and trivia contests with prizes.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood Gameplay Streams

The Bethesda Blog has news that tomorrow and Saturday Bethesda will stream gameplay footage from Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, the just-revealed shooter sequel. Here's the plan:

This week Bethesda TwitchWorks comes in at a special time!

Tune into Twitch.TV/Twitch, or watch our Bethesda channel re-host of the world premiere of gameplay for Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

The stream, featuring Pete Hines and myself, starts live from PAX East at 10:30 am est on both Friday, March 6th and Saturday, March 7th!

Steam Machines in November

Steam now offers listings for Steam Machines, the upcoming computers that will actually be able to play supported Steam games. This points the way to a Steam Machines storefront with pricing on specific models ranging from $479.99 to more than one model for $4999.99. This does not mean they are finally available, but it does pin down a timeframe for their release, saying the first models should go on sale in November. They also have new pages with info on the Steam Controller, Steam Link, and SteamVR.

Cities: Skylines Video Diary

Here's a final video developer diary for Cities: Skylines, paving the way for next week's release of Colossal Order's city builder. Here's word on the themes explored in the new diary:

Never before seen in a city builder, Cities: Skylines contains the first integrated Dynamic Water System giving all the rivers and estuaries within the game real-world mass and direction. This will mean that you must think carefully where to place your water services to ensure that your city’s waste will go downstream and that you don’t pollute your population’s water supply!

The video developer diary also explores Zoning within the game, built to enable you to reasonably simulate a realistic city of up to one million people, along with the District Tool and the Economic Simulation model.

Continue here to read the full story.

Resident Evil Revelations 2 - Episode 3 Trailer

Capcom Unity offers a new Resident Evil Revelations 2 - Episode 3 teaser trailer to promote the next installment in the episodic survival/horror game. They say: "After this week's shocking (pardon the pun) revelation, Episode 3 promises to be an intense, important chapter in the Revs 2 plot. We've got a quick teaser clip of said episode, and a batch of screens that further tease the events of next week's events. Again, if you don't want to have anything revealed, don't read ahead!" Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

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Into the Black

Link of the Day: Lion Opens Car Door in Drive-Thru Safari Park. Upholstery cleaning not included.

Phil Harrison Leaving Microsoft?

Industry veteran Phil Harrison is leaving Microsoft, reports GamesIndustry.biz, saying they have learned this "through multiple sources at GDC," though the company is not yet confirming the departure. According to the little birdies they've been flocking around with, Harrison's departure stems from not getting being put in charge of Xbox when Don Mattrick departed and Phil Spencer got the job.

Source 2 Games Must Use Steam

There's a follow-up to Valve's announcement of the free Source Engine 2 on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, where they talk with Valve's Erik Johnson (inaccurately promoting him to "studio founder" along the way), who explains how Valve will make money while giving away their development tools. Erik explains that Source 2 games must be made available though Steam, which will pay Valve a 30% commission on all sales. There is no exclusivity to this, however, so said games can also be sold elsewhere as well, with no additional proceeds to Valve. They hash through what might be the best option for small developers choosing between Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4, and Source 2, all of which have recently introduced new business models making them all more affordable.

Ashes of the Singularity Announced

Stardock announces Ashes of the Singularity, an upcoming real-time strategy game, which will be the first game using Oxide Games' Nitrous Engine, which was announced in late 2013. "In Ashes of the Singularity, players can take command of the forces of either the post-humans or those of Haalee," said Brad Wardell, president & CEO of Stardock. "This is a galaxy-wide struggle in which each 'battle' wages across the surface of an entire planet. The scope of the conflict is unlike anything players have seen before." The Ashes of the Singularity website offers images and details, as well as sales of a founder's edition, which includes access to a friends and family beta, among other things, as well as a Founder's Lifetime Edition which include all future content for those who are willing to spring USD$99.99 based on the announcement and screenshots. That price has an asterisk, but there is no associated footnote to explain what sort of catch it involves.

Ensemble Vets Announce Servo

Stardock also offers first details on Servo, a new sci-fi RTS game from BonusXP, the developer founded by ex-Ensemble developers. The announcement trailer offers a look at gameplay, and word is this will enter early access at some point before its full release later this year. Meantime, word is this is now available for preorder for those into that sort of thing:

From the minds behind some of the most iconic PC games in the last two decades comes an incredible new title: Servo, a real-time strategy game that marries the persistent progression of gathering and equipping scavenged loot with intense RTS gameplay. Created by ex-Ensemble Studios developers at Allen, TX-based independent studio BonusXP and published by Stardock, Servo is now available for pre-order at http://www.servogame.com/store for $19.99. Servo will enter Early Access in the coming months before its release later in 2015 and is being demoed at this year's Game Developer's Conference in booth 2655.

Servo puts players in command of a team of far-future mercenaries who pilot their immensely powerful giant war machines, called Servos, in dangerous missions to profit from the deadly but valuable Bloom that consumed Old Earth centuries ago. Though humanity fled the doomed Earth decades ago, the way home has recently reopened – and the mysteries lying dormant in Old Earth’s ruins will change humanity’s fate once again.

All of Servo’s modes demand players master the economic, tactical, and strategic layers that make up the backbone of deeply involved real-time strategy gameplay. Capture Bloom sources to power global upgrades and Servo-supporting drone armies in order to win competitive player-versus-player games. Survive wave upon wave of terrible Bloomspawn attacks through skillful coordination with friends in co-op battles. Unravel the mysteries of Old Earth by overcoming the unique challenges in each of the 25 story-based missions.

Win or lose, every battle unlocks new parts to equip onto your Servos. Void Beams, Hydra Launchers, Nemodium Blades, and much more can be slotted into the dozen-plus slots on each Servo. Designing a team of Servos that works well together to execute your strategies – and can react to the new challenges each match brings – is as important as building up an economy or landing a perfect rocket swarm.

The team behind Servo includes longtime Ensemble Studios and Age of Empires veteran Dave Pottinger and respected strategy mind Bruce Shelley, whose design credits include Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, and Age of Empires.

Continue here to read the full story.

Cross-Platform Siegecraft Commander Announced

Indie developer Blowfish Studios announces Siegecraft Commander, an action/strategy game coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One, saying this will support cross-platform play between those devices, similar to what was announced for Gigantic. This page has some details on the game, and this announcement trailer shows it off. Here's word:

Siegecraft Commander is the most recent installment in the popular ongoing Siegecraft universe and challenges players to create the ultimate medieval fortress and wreak havoc and destruction on enemies with tower flinging fun! Carefully plan the location of the towers and walls in your fortress network to outmaneuver your foes. With a combination of twitch mechanics and positional tactics, the objective of the game is to build a fortress in a branching structure with specialized towers connected with lofty indestructible walls. The process of building a base, locating resources and dispatching units, along with fierce positional tactics and earthshaking cascades of destruction lend the game a feeling not unlike most RTS titles. Fans of cult classic Moonbase Commander will appreciate the fresh look and overall improvements.

Continue here to read the full story.

Cross-Platform Super Dungeon Bros Announced

In what appears to be a trend, Wired Productions announces Super Dungeon Bros is another upcoming game that will support cross-platform multiplayer play between Windows 10 and Xbox One. "We’re very excited to feature cross-device multiplayer in Super Dungeon Bros," said Leo Zullo, Managing Director of Wired Productions. "Cross-device gameplay has long been a wish of the gaming community. We’ve worked extremely closely with our development partners to make Super Dungeon Bros one of the first titles to support this innovative feature." Here's a gameplay teaser trailer and here's word on the game:

In Super Dungeon Bros, a band of four mighty bros raid the endless dungeons of Rökheim, a giant scar of godforsaken earth, where wars are waged in underground crypts built by the gods themselves. Teams of up to four players will control hard rocking warrior bros in ever-changing dungeons that combine rock and fantasy with dangerous foes, deadly obstacles, and hazardous puzzles. Fans are encouraged to register their interest at www.superdungeonbros.com, which will be updated with further Super Dungeon Bros details over the coming weeks.

Continue here to read the full story.

Vietnam '65 Released

Slitherine announces that Vietnam '65 is now available, offering the chance to go in country to experience the Vietnam War on Windows or iPad. The Slitherine website has details on how to get your copy, and a new trailer shows off a little of what to expect. A 10% launch discount is also available on the PC edition, and they are offering a free Steam key to anyone who buys a copy of the PC version from the Matrix Games or Slitherine store. Word is this game involves winning the war of propaganda as well as battles, meaning this virtual war will be as tricky as the actual conflict it simulates:

Fifty years ago Operation Rolling Thunder was launched. Supported by dozens of US fighter-bombers, this massive bombardment campaign aimed to persuade North Vietnam to cease its assistance to communist insurgents in South Vietnam and to destroy key military targets. Soon after ground units were also deployed and the US was fully involved in this iconic Cold War conflict!

Early 1965 US commanders did not realize that they were embarking on a very tricky unconventional war. In Vietnam, firepower and technology only get you so far. Thanks to their knowledge of the terrain, close relationship with the local population and their mastery of guerrilla tactics, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army regulars proved to be a dangerous and elusive enemy.

In Vietnam’65, a new strategy game releasing today on PC and iPad, players will experience the true essence of this war. Developer Every Single Soldier has focused on providing a realistic and credible Counter-Insurgency model. As a result, victory is not determined by simply eliminating the enemy, but rather by winning the Hearts and Minds of the local population, thereby gaining their support to crush the insurgency. Finding the right balance between conducting raids, ambushing the insurgents and securing the confidence of the locals is crucial in Vietnam’65. But the jungles of Vietnam are full of traps and surprises, not to mention the difficult task of keeping up support for the war back home in the USA...

Continue here to read the full story.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide Trailer

Here's a GDC sneak peak trailer from Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide, Fatshark's upcoming Warhammer action game. Word is: "Independent developer, Fatshark, released a new gameplay trailer today, showcasing some of the co-operative action and first person shooter/melee combat in Warhammer: End Times Vermintide. The footage shows one of the earlier missions in the game, where the heroes weave their way through the streets of Ubersreik in an attempt to reach the city garrison to warn them of the Skaven invasion." Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Patches

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Out of the Blue

I've been meaning for a while to comment on the news forum thread about the Elite: Dangerous launch, as this has become the most popular thread in the history of this site. It is now approaching 1100 posts (hey, it's not like we're reddit here), and remains on topic, a contrast to the other threads rounding out our all-time top four, as none of the other three are about games at all. In fact, the Elite: Dangerous launch thread has more than twice the comments of the next closest game-related thread, which was about the launch of Half-Life 2.

PopularLinks: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Papa Louie 3: When Sundaes Attack.
Valiant Knight - Save The Princess.
Media: ELDERS PLAY MARIO KART 8 (Elders React- Gaming).
Here's A Tortoise Chasing A Dog.
Follow-up: Power-Rangers and Focus (GUEST: Joseph Kahn). Thanks JDreyer.

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