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Friday, Oct 04, 2013


SimCity Offline Mode a "Possibility"

A State of SimCity address is up on the official website of EA Maxis urban-planning series. The update, penned by Patrick Buechner, General Manager of the Maxis Emeryville studio, discusses all the work that has gone into the game since launch to better meet customer expectations, and how they will continue refining the game going forward. It covers a lot of topics, but the most notable takeaway is the admission they are rethinking the always-online requirement that is the source of so much unhappiness, though they are not promising it will go away. Here's word:

Right now we have a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode. I can’t make any promises on when we will have more information, but we know this is something that many of our players have been asking for. While the server connectivity issues are behind us, we would like to give our players the ability to play even if they choose not to connect. An offline mode would have the additional benefit of providing room to the modding community to experiment without interfering or breaking the multiplayer experience.

Steam Hardware Prototype Details

The Steam Community website has more details on plans for Steam hardware and the prototypes they plan on shipping to testers. Here's a bit on the update from the Steam hardware bunker:

So for our own first prototype Steam Machine ( the one we're shipping to 300 Steam users ), we've chosen to build something special. The prototype machine is a high-end, high-performance box, built out of off-the-shelf PC parts. It is also fully upgradable, allowing any user to swap out the GPU, hard drive, CPU, even the motherboard if you really want to. Apart from the custom enclosure, anyone can go and build exactly the same machine by shopping for components and assembling it themselves. And we expect that at least a few people will do just that. (We'll also share the source CAD files for our enclosure, in case people want to replicate it as well.)

And to be clear, this design is not meant to serve the needs of all of the tens of millions of Steam users. It may, however, be the kind of machine that a significant percentage of Steam users would actually want to purchase - those who want plenty of performance in a high-end living room package. Many others would opt for machines that have been more carefully designed to cost less, or to be tiny, or super quiet, and there will be Steam Machines that fit those descriptions.

Here are the specifications for Valve's 300 prototypes.

The 300 prototype units will ship with the following components: GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660 CPU: some boxes with Intel : i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3 RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB DDR5 (GPU) Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

As a hardware platform, the Steam ecosystem will change over time, so any upgrades will be at each user's discretion. In the future we'll talk about how Steam will help customers understand the differences between machines, hardware strengths and weaknesses, and upgrade decisions.

Steamships Ahoy - Knock-knock

Ice-Pick Lodge announces Knock-knock is now available on Steam for Windows, Linux, and OS X, and is discounted 15% off the full price for the next week. They also offer this new trailer with gameplay, and here's an explanation of the game that knocks:

A wooden house stands in the forest. A single man lives there.

The house recieves visits from unusual guests that knock on the window inviting this strange hermit to join them in a game of hide-and-seek. To win, simply remain alive and maintain your sanity until sunrise. Approaching the Visitors head-on is a dangerous idea.

As soon as the first Visitor emerges from the forest, the countdown begins. Every passing hour brings them closer to the house, and the house's walls offer no sanctuary. Something is already inside. Something is opening the window and banging around in the kitchen. Something controls the cellar and attic. Floorboards creak softly deep in the bowels of the house.

The Visitors are well aware of your position, so you must make your rounds of the house and find the breaches that let the creatures inside while doing your best to mend them.

You may come across some useful items that might help your survival, but those items are always random and your inventory is limited to 5 slots, so your gear changes by night.

Survive until sunrise and the monsters disappear, but if they get you before the sun peeks over the horizon, well, just the idea is terrifying.

Continue here to read the full story.

PAYDAY 2 Trailer

This trailer is episode 6 in the web series of live action films promoting PAYDAY 2, the heist sequel. Here's word: "Episode 6 of PAYDAY – the web-series is out now and draws us closer into the seedy world of “Vlad and Gage.” Special Agent Griffin is getting too close to CrimeNet...Bain sends Vlad to have a friendly chat with her...but will she get the message? Co-op heist shooter PAYDAY 2 is out now on Steam, PS3, 360, Playstation Network and Microsoft’s Games on Demand." Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

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Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Early evening update!

Link of the Day: Incredible designer posters reimagine 'Robocop,' 'Blade Runner,' and more. Thanks nin.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode One Trailer

Irrational Games offers a new live-action trailer from BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode One teasing the upcoming DLC for BioShock Infinite, which visits Rapture, the underwater setting of the first BioShock, and allows players to take on the role of the previously non-playable Elizabeth. The new clip explores the origins of Rapture, saying: "Myles Bloom further explores the mysteries surrounding the underwater city of Rapture in this “Fact from Myth” segment. Who is the mysterious woman in upstate New York – and what is her connection to the people in the painting?" Continue here to read the full story.

Battlefield 4 Beta Opens

The Battlefield 4 Website announces the Battlefield 4 beta is now open to all who are interested in checking out the next iteration of DICE's military shooter series. Here's the beta overview video, and the instructions for PC users are pretty simple, as the beta is now available through the Origin client. Word is: "If you’ve been logged in to Origin for a few days, you may want to hit the "Reload" button in the upper left-hand corner to refresh your game library." Here are the system requirements:

Minimum system requirements for the Beta
The BF4 Beta requires a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 (the full version of Battlefield 4 will also support 32-bit operating systems.)
4 GB
512 MB
1,6 GB (approx.)

Recommended system requirements for the Beta

The BF4 Beta requires a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 (the full version of Battlefield 4 will also support 32-bit operating systems.)
8 GB
3 GB
1,6 GB (approx.)

Dark Matter This Month

Iceberg Interactive announces Dark Matter will be released this month for Windows, OS X, and Linux via digital distribution, saying there will also be a boxed retail edition of the 2.5D survival platformer in western European stores. Here's the pitch on the game:

Developed by InterWave Studios, Dark Matter is set in a derelict spaceship inundated by a sinister alien presence and infested with deadly parasites. As the Ensign, players must explore the adrift spaceship Endeavour through echoing, fetid hallways and facilities, scavenging for parts and blueprints, while expanding their arsenal and customizing their combat style against the intelligent and reactive enemies.

Infinity Wars Streaming Party Next Weekend

Lightmare Studios announces an innovative way to spread the word about beta testing of Infinity Wars, their upcoming card-based strategy game. Next Friday they will issue a code to allow YouTube and Twitch users and their viewers access to the game to participate in a weekend event involving live streaming games on each network. This update has all the details, and on a related note, there's also a new video previewing features in a large content patch coming this month. This event will coincide with a double XP weekend, and all participants will receive an account-bound card pack perk, even if they previously had access to the game. Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

A problem in our downstairs toilet is forcing its replacement, as it would not stop running in spite attempts to repair and replace its ancient inner workings. The plumber says the new toilet will pay for itself very quickly in water bill savings, which is cool. We'd break even on this even sooner if I was willing to try installing it myself, but in spite of what a simple process this seems to be, I don't have the experience or the nerve to attempt it for fear of the floods and other horrors I'm imagining an error could cause. The other thing is that this toilet is touted as one that can be abused without being clogged, so it's good that I already learned my lesson about not flushing the wrong things, so hopefully that experience will keep me out of trouble here.

Running Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Headless Zombie.
Links: Poking holes in the Gravity trailer with NASA’s help.
Media: GoPro: Lion Hug. Wow.
'95 Miata Review: Hilarious and Informative.

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