Updated: Feb 17, 2018 12:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Saturday, Feb 17, 2018

Humble Offers Freebies

The Humble Bundle Blog announces that they are offering seven DRM-free games to everyone as free downloads through their Humble Monthly Trove. This is a beta program offering new DRM-free games to subscribers to their Humble Monthly program. These are free for all, but for a limited time, as the offer ends on March 2nd. The freebies are 2000:1: A Space Felony, Uurnog, THOR.N, Crescent Bay, Hitchhiker, Quiet City, and Keyboard Sports.

GTA Online Tax Refunds and Rebates

Rockstar Games announces all that money you pay your accountant in GTA Online is paying dividends, as the 2018 San Andreas State Tax Refund and Rebate is upon us. Everyone who logs into GTA Online between now and February 26th will get $250,000 of in-game currency as a refund. Additionally, they are offering up to one million in GTA$ to players as a 10% rebate on all in-game purchases during that period. Here are the details:

Tax season is upon us and with 2017's population growth, the San Andreas Treasury Department is happy to report a new stimulus for all citizens - hustlers, triggers, shot callers and kingpins alike. Plus, take advantage of new state-wide GTA$ rebate program to spend on anything in GTA Online; from sensible investments like Executive Offices to submarine-sports car hybrids like the Stromberg.

Simply log in to GTA Online at any point between February 16th and 26th to qualify for a GTA$250,000 stimulus bonus. Also, all GTA$ spent in GTA Online between February 16th and 26th will get you a 10% rebate (up to GTA$1M cash back). Then come back after February 27th to claim your GTA$ stimulus bonus and GTA$ rebate.

All GTA$250,000 stimulus bonuses and GTA$ rebates will arrive in your Maze Bank account between February 27th and March 6th.

Metal Gear Survive Details

The GeForce Website discusses the PC edition of Metal Gear Survive, which is set to launch next week. They don't just concentrate on the visuals, as this covers what to expect from gameplay in the survival game. They also do get to their core focus, discussing PC graphics, and what kind of NVIDIA hardware will help provide the best experience. Here are some PC-specific details:

If you're itching to dive in to Metal Gear Survive, you may be interested to know that the PC edition has a couple of graphical enhancements, in addition to being able to run at true 4K at 60 FPS+ (more on that later). Most noticeably, the PC edition has vastly improved ambient occlusion shadowing, resulting in a greater sense of depth and detail on objects, as demonstrated by the interactive comparison below.

Metal Gear Survive's SSAO Ambient Occlusion is of a much higher quality on PC

To make the extent of the enhancement even clearer, we can switch Metal Gear Survive to a view where only ambient occlusion shadows are rendered:

Elsewhere in the game, Konami has cranked up the quality of their newly-implemented God Rays, which are most visible when exploring the mist. On the PC, these shafts of light are rendered at a significantly-higher resolution, greatly boosting their visibility and fidelity, further enhancing image quality and the creepy, otherworldly vibe of misty areas. For an example, check out the interactive comparison below.

If you wish to experience Metal Gear Survive with the eye-candy enabled, you'll need the right hardware, and to determine what that is we put the game through its paces in our test lab.

Saturday Consolidation

Saturday Metaverse

Saturday Tech Bits

Saturday Safety Dance

Saturday Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

It's a beautiful sunny day around here right now, and while it's cooled off a but from the last couple of days of mid-50s temperatures, it's still close to 40° F out there. Apparently this is just nature messing with us, because there is also a winter storm warning in effect, and they say there's a 100% chance we'll get dumped with snow tonight. The forecast says it will reach the 70s next week, so this is weird heavy snowstorm dead in the middle of a week of spring-like weather. I don't think it will warm up again in time to melt the snow, however, so I probably won't get out of shoveling. Maybe I'll make it pay off by building a snowman.

Snowy Links: Thanks Ant and RedEye9.
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Friday, Feb 16, 2018

Remastered System Shock on Hiatus

A Kickstarter update from Nightdive Studios has bad news for backers of their planned remastered version of System Shock, the seminal action/RPG. They admit to losing their way, and say the project is on hiatus while they attempt to get their mojo back. The project raised over $1.3 million in crowdsourced funding, and they confess that taking in more money than they anticipated actually set them on the wrong path. CEO Stephen Kick takes responsibility for this in his explanation. Here's the update:

In March of 2016, Nightdive Studios released our video of our vision of System Shock Remastered. Done in Unity it was an immediate hit with almost a half million views on YouTube. In June of 2016 we launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the vision into a reality. It was tremendously successful with over 21,000 backers contributing over $1.3 million to the campaign. We put together a development team and began working on the game. But along the way something happened.

Maybe we were too successful. Maybe we lost our focus. The vision began to change. We moved from a Remaster to a completely new game. We shifted engines from Unity to Unreal, a choice that we don’t regret and one that has worked out for us. With the switch we began envisioning doing more, but straying from the core concepts of the original title.

As our concept grew and as our team changed, so did the scope of what we were doing and with that the budget for the game. As the budget grew, we began a long series of conversations with potential publishing partners. The more that we worked on the game, the more that we wanted to do, and the further we got from the original concepts that made System Shock so great.

Ultimately the responsibility for the decisions rests with me. As the CEO and founder of Nightdive Studios, a company that was built on the restoration of the System Shock franchise, I let things get out of control. I can tell you that I did it for all the right reasons, that I was totally committed to making a great game, but it has become clear to me that we took the wrong path, that we turned our backs on the very people who made this possible, our Kickstarter backers.

I have put the team on a hiatus while we reassess our path so that we can return to our vision. We are taking a break, but NOT ending the project. Please accept my personal assurance that we will be back and stronger than ever. System Shock is going to be completed and all of our promises fulfilled.

Eugen Systems Strike

GamesIndustry.biz reports a labor action at Eugen Systems, saying nearly half the employees of the French developer are on strike. They say this began right after this week's release of the Back to Hell DLC for Steel Division: Normandy 44, and point to STJV for a post airing labor's grievances. This is in French, explaining issues with failure to meet minimum wage requirements, failure to compensate for overtime, and other contractual problems. Eugen responds with this note, also in French, with their side of the story. They describe their compensation scheme, and refute most of the accusations leveled by the striking workers, including the accusation of cultivating a crunch culture. They do admit some late payrolls, but say they are up-to-date with all but two employees, who are having errors with their payslips corrected this month. Here's a bit of a machine translation into English explaining where they see all this going:

Finally, the Directorate endeavors to communicate with the staff representatives during the meetings, and internal discussions are currently underway regarding the classification of some employees. They will continue until an agreement is reached. As exchanged with staff delegates at the meeting of December 2017, Eugen Systems organizes, starting next week, the annual and professional interviews of collaborators, which will allow a time of exchange with each one.

Overwatch Free Weekend Begins

The promised free weekend is now underway in Overwatch, Blizzard's multiplayer first-person shooter. This post from earlier this week provides all the details:

From February 16–19, we're calling on all prospective agents: assemble your team and dive in during the Overwatch Free Weekend on PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One!

For this free weekend, we're making Overwatch's full roster of 26 heroes and 17 maps available for play in a variety of modes, including Quick Play, Custom Games, and the Arcade. Players will also have the ability to level up, earn Loot Boxes, and unlock a variety of different customization options.

Plus, if you decide to purchase Overwatch after test driving the game, you'll get to keep any progress that you made during the weekend—just be sure to use the same Blizzard, Sony Entertainment, or Xbox Live account that you played on.

Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2 Next Month

Crazy Monkey Studios announces Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2, saying their mobbed-up action sequel will get made on Steam on March 2nd ("Leave the gun Take the cannoli"). They illustrate the news with a new trailer featuring a look at gameplay, and the announcement includes a bunch of details, including word they are adding multiplayer support to this thing of ours:

So you wanted more guns, more gore and - especially - more cannoli? We’ve got your back! Crazy Monkey Studios is beyond excited to announce that our newest game Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2 is coming to Steam on March 2, 2018. That should give you just enough time to start dusting off those Tommy guns. Because you sure as hell are going to need them.

The story of the campaign mode kicks off some 15 years after the events of the first game. World War II is in full swing and while allied forces are landing on European beaches, the mob goes about its business. The Thugtown Massacre should’ve been a long forgotten memory, but when some loose ends of the past start crawling out, our mafia hero Vinnie Cannoli has to save the day once again.

Traveling as far as the European battlefields of the second World War, players will get to whack mobsters, zombies, monsters, Nazis and everything in between. Using a ridiculous arsenal of weapons, you’ll blast yourself a way through a variety of gorgeous hand-drawn levels. The new weapon wheel and full 360° aiming combined with improved mobility of good old Vinnie lets you easily shoot everything that moves.

We’re also happy to include one of the most requested features by fans: 4-player online multiplayer. Because the only thing more fun than shooting zombies on your own, is blasting the hell out of some (undead) Nazis with some friends. Those who prefer to be in high-fiving distance of their brothers in arms can rest assured that local multiplayer is still an option.

In short: if you liked the first game, you’re going to adore this one. The team worked hard to retain the unique feel and attention to detail of the original while making improvements to the gameplay where possible. We’re confident you’ll agree we did good.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Get Dungeons II Free on GOG

GOG.com announces the continuation of their Chinese New Year sale. They are now celebrating the Year of the Dog with a 48 hour giveaway of Dungeons II. Those who pick up a DRM-free copy of this Dungeon Keeper homage during the giveaway will get to keep it permanently, and the freebie also includes a copy of the A Clash of Pumpkins DLC, and the remainder of the game's DLC is also on sale. Here are more details:

Feeling like a modern take on Dungeon Keeper? We've got you. Grab a free copy of Kalypso's Dungeons II on GOG.com – the DRM-free dispensary of joy and prosperity.
Our Chinese New Year Sale is nearing its end, but not without a bang! If not for the hundreds of offers and Flash Deals, if not for all these Steam games going DRM-free via GOG Connect, then drop by for a second helping of freebie!

Dungeons II is…

  • …a highly polished, artistically strong romp from beginning to end. – 8/10 – Jim Sterling
  • …"Dungeon Keeper plus", what's not to like? – 8.5/10 – Hooked Gamers
  • …the tinkerer’s cave I’ve been waiting for. – Rock, Paper, Shotgun
  • …totally free for 48h on GOG.com, until February 18, 2 PM UTC.

The big sale is a also a fine chance to get more out of Dungeons II with extra DLC: missions, scenarios, multiplayer modes, a new faction, and more content – all for less than 5 USD at 75% off.

The Chinese New Year Sale lasts until February 20, 11PM UTC – but we're on the final twenty-four hour stretch of Flash Deals! So look out for great things at better prices every hour, on the hour. What happens after that? Well, that's for us to know...

Fe Released

EA announces the release of Fe, a new adventure game for PC (Windows only), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch, with the Windows edition available on Origin. This was developed by Swedish studio Zoink Games and marks the first release under the EA Originals program. Here's the launch trailer, and here are more details:

Named after the game's protagonist, players will run, climb, and glide through the Nordic forest as the cub-like creature, Fe. Uncover the secrets of Fe’s origin while protecting the ecosystem from the menacing machines, the Silent Ones. As Fe embarks on a voyage of discovery, the wordless experience requires Fe to learn to speak the language of the forest by singing in-tune with various fantastical plants and animals, each of which offers unique gameplay benefits that will help along the journey.

“In Fe, sounds connect every living thing in the diverse ecosystem,” said Klaus Lyngeled, CEO and Creative Lead at Zoink Games. “The forest holds a multitude of secrets to be uncovered by connecting with the flora and fauna. As a wordless experience, the entire story is up for the players’ own interpretation as they move through the forest at their own pace. Fe is a beautiful, connected world that players will never want to leave.”

Uncover the mysteries of nature in a world worth exploring as Fe happens upon ancient ruins, hidden artifacts, secret places, and new powers. Each experience offers a hand-crafted short story, wrapped in a visually stunning, memorable, and fun environment. Discover Fe’s origin and learn that nothing is what it first seems.

Continue here to read the full story.

Destiny 2 Faction Rallies Next Week

A new This Week At Bungie update recaps the latest activity at the studio. They note they are now in the midst of the Crimson Days playlist for Destiny 2, and announce that they will segue directly from this into the return of Faction Rallies next week. Word is: "Three factions face off again, their fates directly tied to your choices. Will Future War Cult finally win the day?" They show off the weapons that are rewards for this event and note that these are not all that is at stake, saying, "At the end of the event, the faction with the most packages redeemed will offer their prized weapon as a reward. Those who were loyal to the winner get a big discount and can pick it up for 1,000 Glimmer. Everyone else can still get it at 50,000 Glimmer." Here's more:

Rally Caps
Faction Rallies is returning next week. The event kicks off at 9 AM PST on February 20. This time, you can knock out Lost Sectors as fast as you can kill the bosses with no timers to hold you back. Start thinking about which faction deserves your loyalty. New Monarchy has won the last two rallies. Can they three-peat?

If this is your first Faction Rallies, here is what you need to know. First, visit the Tower and pledge your loyalty to one of the factions. Then, it’s time to set out into the wild to complete various activities. Once you’ve earned enough tokens to qualify for a reward, exchange them for packages full of loot.

Path of Exile Bestiary League Next Month

The Path of Exile Website now offers a timer ticking off the seconds until the launch of the Bestiary League for Path of Exile (thanks Ray). This will come in two weeks, part of a March update which will also bring new items, gems, and end-game content to Grinding Gear's action/RPG. Word is:

In the Bestiary Challenge League, hunter-scavenger Einhar Frey teaches you to hunt, capture and sacrifice beasts in order to craft powerful items.

Path of Exile's March Update includes the Bestiary League, dozens of new items, new gems, new end-game content, and more.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Happy Chinese New Year, as we bid a fond fondue to the Year of the Fire Rooster and celebrate the Year of the Dog. Specifically, we begin the Year of the Earth Dog. This is something I can get behind wholeheartedly, as it invokes my late, great besty Hudson the wonder dog. Hudson was an Airedale Terrier, and terriers are literally earth dogs, with Google offering the following origination of the term: "late Middle English: from Old French (chien) terrier ‘earth (dog),’ from medieval Latin terrarius, from Latin terra ‘earth’." So yeah, Year of the Terrier. I can dig it.

The thing of it is, I'm sure I'll still be writing Year of the Rooster on my checks for the next couple of weeks.

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