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Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition Revealed

The Beamblog announces an announcement, saying Beamdog has something to announce today at 3:00 pm EST in a livestream. The developer then blows their own surprise with a tweet saying this will unveil the Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition. Further, GameInformer points the way to a gameplay trailer which shows off enhanced visuals. They also have some details on the project, including word that this is being created with input from the community, and will be backwards compatible with save games, modules, and modifications from the original 2002 version of the RPG. Here's word:

  • Improved Display: Your portrait, combat bar, inventory, and other UI elements adjust in size based on your chosen resolution including 1080p and 4k.
  • Advanced Graphics Options: Pixel shaders and post-processing effects make for crisper, cleaner visuals. Enable contrast, vibrance, and depth of field options as preferred.
  • Community Endorsed: Original developers have teamed with key members of the Neverwinter Nights community to curate important fan-requested improvements to support players, storytellers, and modders.
  • Backwards Compatibility: Works with save games, modules, and mods from the original Neverwinter Nights. A galaxy of community created content awaits.

Continue here to read the full story.

Free MDK with GOG Black Friday Sale

The GOG.com Black Friday Sale is now underway, offering up to 90% off on a bunch of games for the next week. This includes the opportunity to get a free copy of StarCrawlers if you spend $15.00, and they are also offering a free copy of MDK to everyone for the next 48 hours with no strings (or DRM) attached. Here's word:

Don't try to beat the rush, just drop by the gamer-friendly digital game store instead. The GOG.com Black Friday sale values both your time and money: free games for shopping or just dropping by, awesome offers, and a cool seven days to take in the selection.

Get MDK for FREE when you visit GOG.com in the first 48 hours of the sale. First released in 1997 to critical acclaim, this is a classic your library deserves – a unique sci-fi shooter with tons of personality, humor, and gameplay variety. Go to GOG.com main page and claim your free MDK by clicking on the banner.

Every purchase you make on GOG.com during the sale will bring you closer to unlocking StarCrawlers for FREE when you spend 15 USD. StarCrawlers is one of 2017's best hidden gems, think Legend of Grimrock in space, think cyberpunk meets Firefly, think ruthless corporations competing for power... and your morally questionable services in the midst of it all.

Finally, find over three hundred deals up to 90% off among all-time classics and greatest premieres of the year, including: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GOTY (-60%), Heroes of Might and Magic III (-75%), Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (-25%), Dungeon Keeper 2 (-75%), Titan Quest: Anniversary Edition (-80%), Little Nightmares (-50%), Furi (-40%) and many more.

Also worth noting are fantastic games under 2 USD: We Are The Dwarves with a whopping 92% discount; plus Total Annihilation: Commander Pack, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault War Chest, Populous and others!

Valve Reviewing Review Reviews

A new post on the Steam Blog has further thoughts from Valve on the process of refining the user review process on Steam to make them more useful to other users. They offer an extensive discussion of what makes for helpful reviews, and how they evaluate reviews for this quality. They note that one of the problems they must deal with is that the system for reviewing reviews itself is as subject to abuse as the review system itself. Here's word on what they are doing about this:

What we are changing
Up to this point, we've tried to maintain just showing the simple math behind how we calculate whether a review is helpful or not--the percentage and number of people who indicated a review as helpful. We like systems that are transparent and easy to understand, as they are also easier to believe and trust. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a system that allows a small group to manipulate reviews to a degree that is clearly decreasing the value of Steam for many other players. So we're making two main changes.

  1. Firstly, our system will use a new method of calculating the helpfulness of each review, taking into account the users that are trying to manipulate the system. One way we're doing that is by counting the helpful ratings on reviews differently for users that are far outside the norm. Ratings from users that follow normal patterns of rating will continue to be counted the same way that they have, whereas accounts that rate an excessive number of reviews on an individual game will see the weight of each individual rating count for less and less.
  2. Secondly, store pages will now show the default helpful positive and negative reviews in a similar proportion to that of the overall review score for the game. For example, if the game is reviewed positively by 80% of reviewers, then the ten reviews shown by default on the store page will be 80% positive, showing eight positive and two negative. This should keep the reviews shown on a game's page from being so easily manipulated by a few determined players and should more accurately represent the overall sentiment of the people playing the game.

We're rolling out both of these changes as a beta today. You can turn the new method on and off to see how it impacts the default display of reviews on any given store page. Note that these changes only impact the default listing of reviews (Called "Summary") and the "Most Helpful" display option.

Batman: The Enemy Within Episode Three Released

Telltale Games announces the release of Fractured Mask, episode three of Batman: The Enemy Within, their episodic game based on the exploits of the Dark Knight. Here's an episode three trailer showing off the new chapter, and here are some details on the midpoint of the series:

After an unexpected reunion, Bruce finds his attention (and his loyalties) stretched in yet another direction. Now, in addition to brokering a power struggle between Commissioner Gordon and Amanda Waller, Bruce must balance romantic entanglements with his mission to infiltrate the Pact. As he plunges deeper into the criminal underworld, the villains' plan starts to come into focus, but will his deceptions take a dire toll?

Episode three, 'Fractured Mask,' is now available for download on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, and mobile. A special Batman: The Enemy Within Season Pass Disc for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is also available at retailers across North America and Europe. The disc includes the first episode of the season, as well as download access to all subsequent episodes as they are released.

Continue here to read the full story.

Rainbow Six Siege Reconsidering Friendly Fire for Casual Playlists

Griefing by intentionally attacking your teammates has been a potential problem since the first team-based shooters appeared. This remains the case some 20 years later, and PCGamesN has word from Ubisoft that they may end up taking the established simple response to this by turning off friendly-fire for casual playlists in Rainbow Six Siege (missed this at the time, thanks PC Magazine via RedEye9). This came up in a discussion of player toxicity in the tactical shooter, and Ubisoft Montreal's Alexandre Remy tells them part of the solution to that may be to improve their reporting system to make it easier to identify bad seeds, but he also confirms they are considering removing the ability to shoot teammates altogether:

Remy says one of the biggest issues leading to the most toxicity is teamkilling. “We have a lot of ideas and we are thinking about how we can tackle teamkills. It depends on your place and your experience as a Rainbow Six Siege player, in fact I think it was with that I mentioned we are thinking about potentially removing friendly fire. I think that would resolve a lot of issues and for entry players I think it is a very good way of avoiding those behaviours. Starting next year, we need to start fixing toxicity.”

We asked if means friendly fire could get pulled from casual playlists soon. “It is not yet 100% decided. We are toying with that idea as a prototype, but it has some consequences, right? It is always a balance, if we decide to move forward with that idea, be sure that it is going to go to test servers first as it is such a heavy decision. Obviously it is something where we want to have feedback before we make it final. Maybe there are also aspects of friendly fire that we have not measured yet that can actually be triggered.”

Morning Patches

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Well it seems like a month since my last birthday, which means it's been another year already. This is one of those years when it falls extremely close to Thanksgiving, though it's occasionally the day before (Thanksgiving Eve?), as I was born on the last day of November that the holiday can't hit. We'll probably go out to dinner to celebrate, and if we do, the one thing that's always certain is I won't be ordering any turkey.

Turkish Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Sprinter.
Stories: Fox News personality 'Judge' Jeanine Pirro ticketed for driving 119 mph.
Big Tobacco's anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay.
Science: Scientist puts his dog on the editorial boards of seven predatory journals as proof of their negligence.
Media: USC The Spirit of Troy Halftime Show: "Guardians of the Galaxy." Thanks Hypothermia.
Georgia Dome Implosion Filming Fail.
Bird of Paradise up all night to get lucky.
Follow-up: Argentina missing submarine: Concern grows after two false alarms.
That ‘harmless’ radioactive cloud over Europe did come from Russia after all.

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Monday, Nov 20, 2017

Free Brütal Legend

The Fall Sale on The Humble Store rolls on, and they are now offering a new free game after last week's Killer is Dead giveaway. Today's offering is Brütal Legend, Double Fine's rock-and-roll adventure where you play as a jacked Jack Black. This is playable on Windows, Linux, and macOS, and is redeemed via a Steam key if you pick up your free copy by Wednesday afternoon. Here's a refresher on the game:

Brütal Legend is an action-adventure that marries visceral action combat with open-world freedom. Set in a universe somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Spinal Tap, it’s a fresh take on the action/driving genre, which in this case is full of imitation cover bands, demons intent on enslaving humanity and Heavy metal tunes. Featuring the talents of comedian, actor and musician, Jack Black as super roadie Eddie Riggs, as well as cameos by some of the biggest names in metal music it's a wild ride in the belly of the beast that is not to be missed by gamers and Metalheads alike.

Included as a free bonus in the PC version of Brütal Legend are both the Hammer of Infinite Fate and Tears of the Hextadon multiplayer map packs.

Star Wars Battlefront II Controversy Affects EA Stock and NFS Payback

GameSpot notes that while EA's share price is way up year-to-date, it took a hit following the controversy over microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II, saying it was down about 2.5% the day of the launch of the action game. Also, GamesIndustry.biz notes a post on reddit signaling EA is also changing how progression works in Need for Speed Payback, which seems to be an attempt to head off more controversy. Here's what they are changing in the recently released driving game:

Hey Everyone, bit of an update for you.

As you’ve seen from previous updates recently, we’ve been working on improving your experience with the progression.

We’ve been using Community feedback, along with our own in-game data and have come up with a number of changes, many of which are in the process of going live. Our aim with these changes is to make the progression, especially around the ownership of cars a much more enjoyable experience.

If you're currently playing the game while reading this, please restart in order for the changes to come into effect.

  • Increased the amount of REP awarded by taking part in events.
  • Increased the amount of Bank awarded by taking part in events.
  • Bait crates now reward increased REP.
  • Bait crates now reward increased Bank.
  • Competing against a Roaming Racer will reward you with increased REP.
  • Competing against a Roaming Racer will reward you with increased Bank.
  • Air Suspension will now appear more frequently within Shipments.
  • Slightly increased REP and Bank for finishing an event outside of first place.

Today’s changes are just phase one and we have further tweaks coming. Coming shortly will be some changes to the way tune-up shops work, especially around the quality / level of parts they stock. More on that soon.

It is worth noting that we do encourage you to recycle your speed cards for tokens. Targeted rolls are a very good alternative to tune-up shops. Definitely worth buying out the parts from the tune-up shop and recycling them.

Previous Changes

  • Decreased the time it takes for new parts to appear in Tune-Up shops, down from 30mins to 10mins.
  • Increased rate in which parts are rewarded within Ranked Speedlists.

As always, keep the feedback coming. Have a great weekend and we'll see you in Fortune Valley.

Heroes of the Storm MMR Changes on PTR

Blizzard announces an update to the Heroes of the Storm PTR to test a bunch of the upcoming changes for their MOBA that they announced at BlizzCon. This includes their new performance based matchmaking system, and they offer a new update explaining more of how this works and why they are making the change. Here's a bit:

Once we introduce performance-based matchmaking in the near future, our system will look at how well the individuals in a match are performing and use this to aid in calculating their MMR adjustments for the match. The system will apply context to these stats by looking at the Hero you’re playing, the Battleground you’re on, the game mode, and what region you’re playing in so it can make fair comparisons against other similarly skilled players under the same conditions. Our goal with this system is not to define a specific playstyle for each hero, since we are never manually setting which stats are considered important, but rather to let our machine-learning driven system define importance and weighting for stats based on millions of games of data. By looking at these stats across the entire player base, the system can see which stats are most important for effective play and create a data-driven model of what the most highly-skilled players are doing in any given situation.

What differentiates a highly skilled player on a given Hero isn’t always obvious, though. For example:

  • When looking at a Hero like Illidan, it’s pretty straight forward. A good Illidan does a fair amount of damage, soaks a lot of experience, doesn’t die very often, and captures a lot of Mercenary camps. Illidan has a fairly high skill ceiling, though, so we expect there to be a sizeable difference in all of those stats between a highly-skilled Illidan and an average one.
  • However, for a hero like Kerrigan, the difference in raw stats like damage and experience between a high skill and average skill player isn’t quite as dramatic. Instead, the biggest thing that sets apart a highly skilled Kerrigan is how effective they are in landing crowd control effects, so the system would put a larger emphasis on this stat for Kerrigan players. She’s still being evaluated on all the same stats as every other hero, though, so a Kerrigan who spends the game only attempting to land stuns would not necessarily gain the same amount of MMR, as they would need to also contribute to the game in a meaningful way on top of landing lots of CC.

The system can then use an individual player’s performance to adjust how much MMR the player gains, or loses, for a game. If they’re performing beyond expectations for their current MMR, the system will grant more MMR when they win, subtract less when they lose, and they’ll more quickly arrive at the proper MMR for their skill. The opposite is also true if they’re not performing up to expectations.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Unlock All Star Wars Battlefront II Characters in 24 Hours

A thread on reddit discusses the latest changes to progression in Star Wars Battlefront II, which has been the subject of quite a bit of controversy over a grind-heavy design and concerns about pay-to-win priorities (thanks GameWatcher). According to the thread, the latest adjustments make it possible to unlock all the characters in the Star Wars action sequel in about 24 hours of play, though there are also warnings that doing so would not be the best use of one's credits, as it will make it harder to level up if you choose to buy nothing but characters.

Rainbow Six Siege Year Three Details

UbiBlog has details on what to expect from year three of Rainbow Six Siege, their tactical first-person shooter. They illustrate the post with a roadmap image along with this trailer with White Noise Operators gameplay and starter tips. Here's the plan:

The Rainbow Six Siege development team has announced Year 3 content and support from the Pro League Finals in Brazil. Here’s what’s been revealed so far (click to enlarge):

  • Eight new operators
  • Two brand new maps set in Italy and Morocco
  • One map makeover with a new level design and art direction

Year 3 will kick off with Operation Chimera. This season’s two operators are specialists in biohazard situations, on top of being playable in adversarial multiplayer, and during four weeks they will have to face a major threat in what will be the game’s first co-op event ever, named Outbreak. This event will be playable during four weeks for free for Rainbow Six Siege owners. It will also feature an exclusive collection of cosmetics, available only during the time of the event.

The full reveal of Operation Chimera and Outbreak will take place in Montreal at the Six Invitational 2018. More information on Year 3 will be coming soon.

Continue here to read the full story.

PlanetSide 2 Celebrates Fifth Anniversary With a Patch

The PlanetSide 2 Forums celebrate the fifth anniversary of PlanetSide 2, the multiplayer shooter sequel which launched on this day in 2012 (thanks Dave). There is a new patch with user-interface and quality-of-life improvements, and they are now offering sales of three different anniversary bundles with all sorts of in-game gear. They are also offering double experience until Friday. Here's a bit:

On November 20, PlanetSide 2 celebrates its fifth anniversary as the world’s most massively multiplayer online first person shooter. From launch to now, our players have played for more than 211,215,456 hours combined, that’s 24,111 years’ worth of combat on the vast, battle-scarred planet of Auraxis.

To commemorate the occasion, any player can redeem the code “5YearsPS2” in the Depot and receive a free fifth anniversary decal! Double Experience will also be running from Nov. 17 to Nov. 24. (Members will receive quadruple experience on Friday, Nov. 24!)

U.K. Sales Charts

GFK Chart-Track announces their sales charts tracking game sales in the U.K. for the week ending November 18th. Word is: "Activision Blizzard’s ‘Call of Duty: WWII’ retains the No1 spot for a third week since launch, narrowly holding off EA’s ‘Star Wars Battlefront II’ which launched on Tuesday and Friday this week for PS4, Xbox One and PC." There are six new entries in the top 10 on their all-platforms top 40 chart, while Star Wars Battlefront II is the new debut on the top 10 of the PC top 30 chart. Here's that top 10:

LW TW Title Developer Label Publisher

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

At times, the sentiment behind the R.I.P. notations that occasionally (or these days seemingly frequently) appear here has been called into question, since saying Rest In Peace (or Requiescat In Pace) about arguably (or unarguably) evil people seems an unwarranted kindness. Besides how believers will tell you that judging these things is the sole province of the almighty, some of those involved in these discussions have correctly surmised that this is not actually an endorsement of the individual in question. It's just a shorthand introduction to the news of the person's death and their obituary, as opposed to saying something like "he's dead Jim." Please know that this is never meant as an endorsement or a way of overlooking wrongdoing. I'm not sure why I chose today to explain that today, I guess it's just one of those helter skelter thoughts that popped into my mind.

R.I.P.: Charles Manson, leader of murderous cult, dead at 83.

Living Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Crazy Pixel Apocalypse.
Story: Can Gory Police Dog Arrests Survive The Age Of Video? Thanks RedEye9.
Science: Here's How To Take A Blood Pressure Reading The Right Way.
Media: A Wrinkle in Time Official US Trailer. Thanks Gizmodo and Neutronbeam.
Satellite Captures 2017 Hurricane season.
Shapeshifting Deepstaria Jelly - Nautilus Live.
Follow-up: Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Its Reactors' Melted Uranium Fuel.


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