Archived News:

Wednesday, Jun 01, 2016

Heroes of the Storm Adding Unranked Draft

Blizzard announces they are adding an unranked draft mode to Heroes of the Storm, which is probably the feature most frequently requested for their MOBA. The new draft is coming with some changes to how their MMR system works, and they hope these changes will improve matchmaking. Word is this will launch along with the ranked revamp expected this month. In other Heroes news, they also offer balance update notes for a patch that will come tomorrow to buff Chromie. Here's the overview of the unranked draft news:
Coming with our ranked revamp will be an Unranked Draft mode. With its own unique queue similar to Quick Match or Ranked modes, Unranked Draft will feature a pick and ban system similar to Hero League, no party restrictions, and its own unique MMR (Matchmaking Rating). Our hope is that Unranked Draft will be the preferred queue for players looking to draft with a few friends or play in a more structured environment than Quick Match but without the pressures of ranked play.

With this new game mode and the Ranked Play Revamp, we will also be implementing a couple of behind-the-scenes changes that should address some concerns regarding fair matches and immobility on the ladder.

Mafia II Back on Steam; Mafia III CE Unveiled

2K Games reveals a collector's edition for Mafia III, a special version of the upcoming open-world crime sequel, a special treat for collectors who collect collector's editions (the game will also offer a treat for collectors of vintage pr0n). The Mafia website has details on this version's contents, including two vinyl LPs. Word is: "The Mafia III Collector's Edition is packed with physical and digital items, providing a window into the sights and sounds of a turbulent 1968 New Bordeaux, Louisiana, the vast, diverse and seedy criminal underworld of Mafia III." They offer this image showing off the whole shebang, and speaking of showing off, they also announce plans to demo the game at E3, and say IGN will post gameplay footage on Sunday, June 12th. Finally, they also reveal the game has returned to digital distribution, is it is back on Steam, and is currently on sale for 80% off.

Blackwood Crossing Announced

PaperSeven announces Blackwood Crossing, a story-driven adventure game coming later this year to Windows and consoles that will be the debut release from this indie British developer formed by industry veterans, mostly from Disney Black Rock Studio, the Pure and Split/Second developer that closed in 2011. Here's a teaser trailer, and here's word:
Brighton-based independent studio PaperSeven today announced a new story-driven adventure game, Blackwood Crossing, coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2016. The team at PaperSeven developing the game is made up of former Disney Black Rock Studio developers, as well as Oliver Reid-Smith, writer of The Room.

Blackwood Crossing is a story-driven first-person adventure game exploring the relationship between Scarlett and Finn, orphaned siblings growing apart as Scarlett is coming of age and leaving childhood behind. When they cross paths with a mysterious figure, a seemingly ordinary train ride evolves into a magical story of life, love and loss.

“This is our first original game since forming PaperSeven and we are immensely proud to be announcing it” said Alice Guy, co-founder of PaperSeven. “There’s been some fantastic narrative adventure games coming out in recent times - we’re hoping to take a place at this table whilst offering something different to what’s come before. Blackwood Crossing is evidence of our desire to explore experiences with depth and meaning, and create characters that challenge the often clichéd gaming landscape.”

Hearts of Iron IV Video Diary

With Hearts of Iron IV set to invade on June 6th, the anniversary of D-Day, Paradox Interactive offers third and final video developer diary 3 from the World War II strategy sequel. Along with the video they also provide some more details about the game to inspire everyone to want to check it out:
With Hearts of Iron IV only days away, Paradox Development Studio offers you the levers of power as the world descends into the firestorm of World War II. The latest and final video developer diary before release outlines the types of decisions you will be asked to make as the president, prime minister or dictator of any nation you choose.

The focus here is on the big picture – the long term decisions you make as a national leader to set yourself up for ultimate victory.

On the political side of Hearts of Iron IV, you will responsible for the final shape your nation takes.

  • National Focuses: Each major power has a custom tree of decisions where you can set out your immediate and future goals
  • Ideological Drift: Appoint cabinet ministers who represent fresher ideologies to bring closer to one side of the ideological struggle.
  • Coups and International Support: Commit political power to supporting the rise of a friendly party in a potential rival or sponsor a rebellion against your enemies
  • Research and construction: You can’t do everything at once, so organize your government and infrastructure to achieve your long term goals.
  • Send "Volunteers" to Help Friends: If a civil war breaks out, it might be helpful to push your side to victory by delegating your own troops to fight at their side.

Hearts of Iron IV will be available on June 6, 2016.

Continue here to read the full story.

Rocket League Soars Past $110M

Rocket League continues to kill it, with Psyonix telling Forbes that the motorized sports game has sold more than five million units and five million DLC packs across all platforms, and has earned more than $110 million. "Our numbers are actually going up, not down," Psyonix vice president Jeremy Dunham explains. "Which is not very common for a game that's ten months old." Indeed, it was just December when it was reported the game was approaching the $50 million milestone.

Steam Controller Report

Valve now offers a June update on their Steam Controller, discussing how developers are better supporting it in new releases, and discussing recent improvements to how the controllers work. They say they've sold more than a half-million of them, and they are making good use of all the data these are producing. They conclude with an idea of where they are going next:
Coming soon: Even more configuration power
You will soon be able to use Activators to assign actions to press-and-hold, double click, toggle and more. For example, in DOOM you can cycle through all weapons by pressing a button or double tap it to bring up your BFG.

We'll continue to add features and functionality going forward, so be sure to keep giving us feedback on what would make the Steam Controller even better.

On Sale

  • Syberia Bundle on Steam. Save 80%.

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Hound.

Free Copies of Some Steam Games unveils Connect, which offers customers DRM-free versions of eligible games they previously purchased on Steam at no additional cost. They say other games may become available like this in the future, and they kick things off with a list of 22 games that can be imported if you already own them. This will be permanent, though you have only five days to connect your account and claim your copies. Word is they will offer additional titles in the future: "You'll be able to permanently import all the games listed below to your library – assuming you own them. The eligible games are limited-time offers made possible by participating developers and publishers, so stay tuned for more games to come." There is a FAQ noting that you won't get an extra key for games you already own on both services, and that they reserve the right to remove games from your library if they no longer appear in your Steam library, though there's no way to take back downloaded copies of their DRM-free games. Connecting accounts at this time brings up a warning that completing the process may take "up to several days" due to "exceedingly high demand."

Competitive Overwatch Delayed; Balance Changes Discussed

Blizzard tweets about plans to launch competitive play in Overwatch, saying "We'll be introducing our Competitive Play (hopefully) later in July," a change from their previously announced intention to get this going by the end of this month. A later tweet specifies: "We're aiming for mid-to-late July." In related news, Overwatch principle designer Geoff Goodman touches on balance changes for the multiplayer shooter in a couple of replies to a thread on the Overwatch forums on the topic. Blizzard has not discussed balance changes before, and this is not comprehensive, but he does specifically mention the possibility of nerfing McCree and buffing D.Va. This post about D.Va says that she probably need improvements, but based on the nature of the character he says that this is unlikely to be in the form of increased damage, and in this post he discusses corralling everyone's favorite cowboy:
I've been watching McCree carefully since we've released. McCree's flashbang plays an important role in being a strong option against very fast/agile teams (tracers/genjis/etc). It is also a nice tool to prevent close range devastating abilities and ultimates such as Reaper's Death Blossom.

That said, its probably a bit too good at dealing damage to higher health targets such as Tanks and barriers. I don't have any concrete changes yet, but I'm going to be testing some things internally to see how he plays.

Kerbal Space Program Lead Developer Leaves

Gamasutra reports that Felipe Falanghe has stepped down as lead developer for Kerbal Space Program, though the forum post where they say this was announced is unavailable (the forums seem to be offline at this moment). They say he talks about how much the game has grown past his original vision, and that development will now continue on without him. They offer one direct quote from the post: "There was a fine line we needed to stay on, lest we let the project slip and become something other than what we intended," Falanghe wrote. "That is no longer the case, and that's a very good thing. It means that conceptually, the game is complete."

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

  • Cleave by Wolves of Ragnarok Studios — Kickstarter. "Cleave will be the first game developed by Wolves of Ragnarok Studios and seeks to meld two established genres into a single game. Select where you wish to attack on a tactical map of Silver Vale then engage in tower defence battles to determine who will control that segment of land." Also on Steam Greenlight.

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

We're off for a new adventure today, as I'm taking Gunnar for a grooming. I've always washed and cut him myself, and while I am earnest, I'm not trained or anything, so he has never had the pro treatment. Our new vet has grooming services, and I've let them give him a couple of baths, but today is going to be his first real haircut. Poodle cuts can be a little much, so hopefully they'll follow my wishes and not make him too froofy. Either way, at least he'll be better equipped to deal with the sudden onset of hot weather in these parts.

Trim Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Spiders Arena.
Science: Gravitational waves may reveal stringy Universe.
Media: OVERWATCH (Honest Game Trailers).
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - After Credits.
University Lecture Interrupted by sleeping student. Thanks nin.
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