Archived News:

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013

Blizzard All-Stars Now Heroes of the Storm

A new Heroes of the Storm website reflects the news that Blizzard Entertainment has renamed the MOBA game formerly known as Blizzard All-Stars, confirming the speculation surrounding the recent discovery of the Heroes of the Storm Trademark filing. The announcement comes in this animated trailer with a funny look at the evolution of the game's title since it was known as Blizzard DOTA. Continue here to read the full story.

Arkham Games Ditch GFWL

A Steam Community Announcement tells us that Batman Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City are dropping Windows Live services in favor of Steamworks verification (thanks Clever Caviar). The games are on sale to celebrate, and here's the deal:
Dear Batman Arkham Fans - Microsoft has begun the process of closing down Windows Live services over the next year. To make sure there is no interrupted service, we will be moving the game to Steam for verification and update services for both the Base and GOTY versions of Batman Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City.

If you purchased either of the games on Steam all you have to do is let Steam download the latest patch and you will be fine.

If you purchased the games somewhere else you will need to enter the code in Steam. (You can find steps to do this on the bottom of this.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to continue playing from your current save. You will need to start a new game.
Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Face Noir

Phoenix Online Studios announces Face Noir is now available via Desura and Steam, offering their English port of this noir-inspired adventure from Italian developer Mad Orange at 20% off for the first week. You can find media and further details on the Face Noir website, and here's a description of the game:
With a storyline that would be right at home in a Raymond Chandler novel or Humphrey Bogart film, Face Noir puts players in the well-worn shoes of a private detective falsely accused of murder. To clear his name, Jack Del Nero must go underground in Depression-era New York City, digging into a little girl's mysterious past to figure out why their fates have converged. But -- as Jack's about to learn the hard way -- even in these tough times, destiny won't take a bribe.

Developed on a shoestring budget by two-man Italian studio Mad Orange and localized into English by Cognition developers Phoenix Online Studios, Face Noir is a point-and-click game with a classic noir storyline, traditional adventure gameplay, atmospheric graphics, and a moody jazz soundtrack. The Steam and Desura releases have full English localization as well as Italian and Russian subtitles.

Ships Ahoy - Tropico 4 Apocalypse DLC

Steam now offers the Windows edition of Tropico 4: Apocalypse, the new DLC for Tropico 4. Here's word on what this adds to the island dictator sequel:
The Cold War has gotten hotter, and mutually assured nuclear destruction is just around the corner…or is it? In the new Tropico 4 “Apocalypse” DLC, it’ll be up to players to prepare their island nations, and their Tropican citizens, for the end. The new DLC, priced at $4.99 USD on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC, gives players the tools they need to protect their island nations from the nuclear threat – protective shelters, a new survivalist trait (helps with scavenging food) and more.

Spaceships Ahoy - Dark Matter

Iceberg Interactive announces Dark Matter is now available through digital distribution for Windows, OS X, and Linux, saying the game should be available at retail tomorrow in some territories. Here's word on the game:
Developed by InterWave Studios, Dark Matter takes gamers on a tactical 2D adventure set in space and filled with vicious alien enemies. The game 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.

Ærena: Clash of Champions Ænnounced

Cliffhanger Productions announces Ærena: Clash of Champions is in early access on Steam for Windows, though OS X and mobile editions are also planned with cross-platform play promised. They call this game a "Tesla-meets-Dr. Frankenstein dieselpunk" conflict for Æther (our vote would be Unobtænium), showing their commitment making this game difficult to Google, though Steam just ignores the issue by listing it as "Aerena." Here's word on the game:
Ærena: Clash of Champions features true cross-platform gameplay across desktops, mobile devices, and browsers. Whether playing solo or against live opponents, players can command their teams of gladiators to outwit, outmaneuver, and outgun their opponents from virtually anywhere.

In the deadly confines of the arena, every action is a tactical decision. But, there are no winning formulas. With the option to recruit new gladiators and customize the supporting abilities of your ship, your strategy is your own.

2K Marin Layoffs

2K Games laid off staff today from the 2K Marin studio behind BioShock 2 and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified reports Polygon, where they call the cuts "massive," though the only confirmation they could get from 2K is the studio underwent "staff reductions" today. One source tells them a "majority" of the company is gone and the only employees spared were those moving to 2K's new Bay area studio. A separate source tells them they are "100 percent sure" that 2K Marin as is now known is closed. Here is 2K's official response to the report: "We can confirm staff reductions at 2K Marin. While these were difficult decisions, we regularly evaluate our development efforts and have decided to reallocate creative resources. Our goal to create world-class video game titles remains unchanged."

The Elder Scrolls Online Character Creation Trailer

A new trailer showing off the character creation system in The Elder Scrolls Online, a robust system that offers a wide variety of customization options in Bethesda's upcoming MMORPG. Thanks Ghoull. Continue here to read the full story.

Supreme Ruler 1936 Kickstarter

BattleGoat Studios has launched a Kickstarter to complete development of Supreme Ruler 1936, the next installment in their real-time strategy series. Here's their pitch for 60 grand:
BattleGoat Studios is delighted to announce the launch of their Kickstarter to fund the final stage of development on their upcoming Strategy game, Supreme Ruler 1936. Lead Designer and Co-Founder David Thompson commented, "Kickstarter funding will allow us to add more historical scenarios, more campaign starting points, and much more game content. It will also allow us to launch a beta program and incorporate ideas, feedback and suggestions from our most important audience: our supporters."

Anachronox on Steam

Steam News announces that Anachronox is now available on Steam, offering ION Storm's beloved RPG. In case you aren't off downloading this already, here's a description of Tom Hall's baby: "Join Sylvester 'Sly' Boots and Stiletto Anyway as they trek across six bizarre planets investigating a galaxy-crushing mystery, searching for artefacts from an extinct alien race and unlocking the secrets of a powerful, advanced technology. It's your turn. PICK YOUR POISON."

On Sale

Op Ed

Speakeasy/WSJ - Are Video Games Killing Childhood?
Have video games changed the way children are entertained? Absolutely. Yet so did television and radio before them. Indeed, what we consider “childhood” has been a constant process of reinvention for many years. The romanticized childhood some perceive to be threatened is really an invention of the Post-World War II world when children were freed from working in the fields and summer vacation became a time of leisure. It is a reality “traditional childhood” dates back only 70 years—less than a blink in human history. And don’t get me started on childhood as it was in Dickens’s world.

Evening Previews

Cyan Kickstarting Obduction

This Kickstarter is for a game called Obduction, an adventure game being proposed by Cyan, Inc., creators of Myst and Riven, adventure games highly praised for their artfulness when they were released back in the 20th century. They seek $1.1 million and are aiming to release this in mid-to-late 2015 for Windows and OS X, saying: "Obduction is an all-new, real-time, first-person adventure that harkens back to the spirit of Cyan’s earlier games Myst and Riven. Obduction resurrects that incredible feeling of suddenly finding yourself in the middle of a new world to explore, discover, solve, and become part of." The campaign includes a video showing some Unreal Engine 4 artwork to make you mysty with nostalgia, and an unscripted explanation from Cyan's Rand Miller of their plans. Here's more:
The Obduction project will take what Cyan knows about creating deeply immersive worlds and apply it to an entirely new game with fantastic scenery, incredible architecture, compelling story, and exceptional challenges.

Obduction will be built with the same framework that made Cyan's earlier games such a wonderful experience: stunning landscapes, deep storyline, engaging characters, dramatic soundscapes, and challenging yet intuitive puzzles. Obduction is an entirely new property, delivered using one of the most powerful game development technologies available today. Obduction is an adventure game for the new millennium that stays true to the concepts that made the genre great.

Aarklash: Legacy Demo

Cyanide Studio now offers a playable demo of Aarklash: Legacy, allowing a sample of their recently released tactical RPG. The demo is available on Steam along with the game, though it bears noting that it is on sale on for 20% off. Here's word: "The demo introduces the player to the outset of the Aarklash: Legacy scenario and gives access to the first levels, allowing him to get a good idea of the principles of the game. There is no longer any excuse for not trying Aarklash: Legacy!"

Thief Dropping XP System

The Eidos Montreal Community Website has a community Q&A about the upcoming Thief reboot, answering questions from eager fans of the franchise (thanks PC Gamer). The topic this time around is the removal of the planned XP system from the game, a decision the developers explain while dropping a hint they may have something positive to say about QTEs in the future:
Why was it removed?

At first, we wanted to outline the progression of the player with XP, but it was reducing our motivation to steal. The main goal of a thief should be to gain loot. Garrett is already the Master Thief, so we saw no need to have XP as a core mechanic.

Daniel: We wanted to put emphasis on stealing things, and put the rewards on the stealing aspect. We want to allow the player to decide the "how to" – we shouldn't judge how the player wants to achieve their goal, only reward them for achieving it.

The reaction from fans to the "Headshot XP" pop-up in the E3 gameplay demo was fairly negative. Did that have an impact on the decision to remove it from the game?

Daniel: Fans might be surprised how often the devs go to the forum to see how things are perceived in the "real world". This feedback is extremely valuable to us, so as you can imagine, the consistent reaction to the XP system was something that indicated we needed to revisit some design decisions.

Nic: It is more a design decision to add to our economy system and entice the player to steal more. But yes, the E3 reaction was right, rewarding killing like that was wrong for a Master Thief.

How will Garrett progress through the game without XP?

The goal is to use gold to buy elements to progress, to encourage the player to steal. The player will be able to choose how to spend money, for more stealthy or more aggressive tools.

Daniel: It was always possible to play without using XP, like it is still possible to play through the game without killing anyone or even spending any coin (though it isn't going to be easy!)

Thanks guys, this was very instructive. And wait until you hear what they have to say about QTEs...

Space Rangers HD: A War Apart Released

1C Company has released Space Rangers HD: A War Apart, and the space combat remake is now available through digital distribution, with a retail boxed edition to follow. Here's the story:
Space Rangers HD: A War Apart remasters and enhances the world of the cult Space Rangers 2. The game was developed by the SNK-Games team in close cooperation with fans of the series. New story branch, upgrades, equipment, planetary battles and famous text adventures expand the boundaries of the already lush universe of the game in every direction, roughly doubling the game content.

The game has also received a major technical overhaul to for seamless compatibility with modern OSes. Game art was reworked to support display resolutions of up to 1920×1200 and planetary battles employ modern render technologies.

Space Rangers HD: A War Apart takes place in 3300AD. Our galaxy is invaded by the Dominators, combat robots that come under the influence of an alien technology. Players find themselves in a living, breathing world where they can engage in multiple activities: fight in space and hyperspace, trade, accomplish government missions, liberate planets from the Dominators in 3D RTS battles and complete text adventures leading to unique plot twists and rewards. The game ending is not set and players may find a victory of either side at the end – anybody can live the life of a pirate as well as that of a hero. All player actions affect what kind of place the Galaxy will be at the end.

Terra Ex Kickstarter

A Kickstarter is underway for Terra Ex, a free-to-play, browser-based 4X space adventure from a team that claims veterans of development of World of Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and Lost Planet 3. They also say this is "more than just a video game" thanks to the real science it will present, thanks to contributions from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and physicist contributors to the History Channel series "The Universe." They also promise some of the proceeds from the game will contribute to science education. The Terra Ex website has more details, here's a trailer (which is not gameplay footage), and here's a bit of the announcement:
Terra Ex, a space game being developed by the talent that brought you World of Warcraft, Command and Conquer, Lost Planet 3, and many others, seeks to create a true-time space strategy game this October with the help of its upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

The game begins when Earth collides with Mars. Humanity must face its future and forge new civilizations in the far corners of space. This game allows the player to choose to be a peaceful nation of colonists, go into espionage, trade, or destroy other civilizations. With both player vs. player and player vs. environment capabilities, the possibilities are endless.

But Terra Ex is more than just a video game. With the help of scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and world-renowned physicists who are contributors to the History Channel series, “The Universe,” Terra Ex will be the first free online space game to inject real science into the world of science fiction. The star systems colonized by players will be generated from the actual systems found in the night sky, and players will be able to track NASA’s discoveries as they’re being made. So if a player is curious about a newly colonized system in the game, he or she can click on it to view updated facts about the star.
Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Still getting used to Thursday Night Football every week this season. As I joked to a friend, the two-day stretches without football are maddening. So I head once more unto the breach... I am wondering if I should try and pick the loser tonight, as in spite of my terrible record picking for the season, I am undefeated on Thursday nights, including last week where I picked against my own favorite team. So maybe if I could lose on Thursday it could trigger a few more wins on Sunday. Or maybe I should ignore mysticism and just pick better?

Mystic Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Royal Offense.
Candy Balance.
Link: Disney Halloween Gets Weird.
Stories: Ashton Kutcher Is TV's Highest Earning Actor.
Pit Bull Rescues Cat Being Attacked By Two Coyotes. Thanks brother 19.
South Park Missed Its Episode Deadline for the First Time in 17 Seasons.
Media: The Running of the Bulls.
I Broke Day One: Garry's Shitty Incident.
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