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Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017


Smedley Opens New Amazon Games Studio

Amazon announces that industry veteran John Smedley is heading up a team at a new Amazon Games studio in San Diego. They offer just a brief outline of what he's working on, saying, "His team is already hard at work on an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world." Smed most recently was at Pixelmage games, where they attempted to kickstart a project called Hero's Song before it was cancelled. Prior to that he was at Daybreak Games, the developer formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment after starting life as Verant Interactive, where he helped launch EverQuest. Here's the announcement:

We’re excited to announce an all-new Amazon Games Studio based in San Diego and led by industry veteran John Smedley.

John’s pioneering work helped define the modern MMO, and his influence can be felt in thousands of games that followed. He helped create the blueprint for fusing massive game worlds with vibrant player communities, a vision that we share at Amazon Game Studios. That’s why we’re excited to announce that John has joined Amazon Games Studios to lead an all-new team in San Diego.

His team is already hard at work on an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world.

>From the high-fantasy role playing of EverQuest, to the intense FPS action of Planetside, and the brutal survival sandbox of H1Z1, John is no stranger to bucking trends and creating unforgettable games. It’s early days, but we can’t wait to see what John and his team create, and share it with you.

And, oh yeah, we’re hiring! We have openings in our San Diego, Seattle, Orange County, and Austin locations. If you or someone you know is a killer artist, engineer, or designer and are interested in joining the team, check out our latest job postings here:

Path of Exile The Fall of Oriath Announced

The Path of Exile website announces The Fall of Oriath, a new expansion coming to Grinding Gears' action/RPG (thanks Bevan). This page offers a trailer along with links to coverage of the news. They also offer this summary:

We're proud to announce Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath! This announcement covers the full details of the long-anticipated 3.0.0 Content Update that will change Path of Exile as you know it. Not only have we removed the Cruel Difficulty and added Act 5, we've also removed Merciless Difficulty and added Acts 6 through 10. Yes, you read that right! It's one ten-act playthrough. Check out the trailer and announcement page for more information!

Continue here to read the full story.

Vikings – Wolves of Midgard Next Month

Kalypso Media announces a March 24th Steam release date for Vikings – Wolves of Midgard, their upcoming Norse action/RPG. They illustrate the news with this trailer, which features gameplay. They also announce some preorder bonuses:

Sharpen your axes and ready your spells: Kalypso Media is excited to reveal the release date of upcoming action RPG Vikings – Wolves of Midgard digitally on March 24th 2017 for Steam (Windows PC) and March 28th 2017 for physical retail and digital consoles, as well as a Viking-sized hoard of goodies available to players that pick up a boxed copy of the game on their platform of choice. Customers that secure a boxed retail copy of Vikings – Wolves of Midgard on PlayStation®4 or Xbox One will receive a Special Edition that includes digital soundtrack and digital artbook. Meanwhile, Windows PC customers will receive the digital soundtrack and digital artbook as well as an exclusive DLC pack containing an additional outfit for both male and female warriors, consisting of an additional tattoo, hairstyle and clan symbol, as well as a new beard style for male characters and tribal jewelry for female characters. Steam users can pre-purchase at a 15% discount, while also receiving the digital soundtrack, digital artbook and the DLC costume pack.

To celebrate the announcement, Kalypso has also prepared a new multiformat trailer showing off the latest brutal gameplay footage ahead of release.

Continue here to read the full story.

Prey Footage

A bunch of outlets have "first x minutes of Prey" videos online showing off the opening moments from Arkane's upcoming sci-fi shooter. These are labeled highlights of the first hour, but Rock, Paper, Shotgun's clip runs a full 60 minutes. So if you are willing to have the opening of the game spoiled, you can get an unfiltered look at how it begins. They also offer an accompanying preview with their first-hand impressions. They warn right off that this includes more spoilers.

On Sale

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Origin Access Free Trial

Origin is now offering a seven-day free trial of Origin Access, the subscription service that allows unlimited access to a library of games, early access to some games, and a discount on purchases. The free trial requires signing up for the service, but you can cancel at any time. Continuing past the free trial will cost either $4.99/month or $29.99/year. Here's the deal:

Try FREE for 7 days – Limited time only!

Explore an instant collection of great PC games and play as much as you want. Origin Access members also get to try new EA games before they’re released and save 10% on Origin purchases*.

Join now for your free 7-day trial, then it's just $4.99 a month or $29.99 a year. Cancel anytime.


Unlimited access to full PC games

  • Download and play an instant collection of 50+ great PC titles.
  • Dive into blockbuster hits from franchises like Battlefield, Dragon Age, The Sims, and many more. See all games.
  • Explore indie favorites including Torchlight II, The Banner Saga, and Mini Metro.
  • More games are added over time.

Watch Dogs 2 Updated Ending Offers Hint?

A new 14GB patch is now available for Watch Dogs 2, updating the open-world hacking sequel with new content and paving the way for upcoming season pass content. As noted on Eurogamer, this also alters the game's ending, and they say this may offers a hint about a new setting for a future installment in the series. Warning that it may spoil things for those who haven't yet finished the game, they offer this video with a new ending cutscene along with this outline of the changes:

The change comes as part of a 10GB patch (14GB on PC) which updates the game's world with new areas, fresh dances and emotes, new clothing and other bits and pieces to prep Watch Dogs 2 for its incoming season pass content.

Everyone gets all the extra content regardless of whether they buy the season pass or not - and a friend can enable you to play through it all in co-op without buying it yourself.

Ubisoft's new ending scene takes the form of a recorded phone conversation and comes right after Watch Dogs 2's final hacker broadcast which summarises the game's ending - so take care watching it below if you have yet to beat the story.

Alternatively, here's the phone conversation in text form:


Man 1: How much of this is hyperbole? Has it really gone global?
Man 2: There are new DedSec cells popping up everywhere. The Middle East, South America, Europe. And not just them. We can't even keep up with all the new hacktivist groups.
Man 1: Alright. Make the call.
Man 2: You Sure?
Man 1: Do it.

Continue here to read the full story.

For Honor Workarounds

This post on the Ubisoft Forums lists issues users are encountering in For Honor along with workarounds and solutions for some of them (thanks VG247). Here's word:

General Issues

[PC] Easy AntiCheat – Impossible to launch the game

  • Easy AntiCheat sometimes displays an error message. Afterwards the game doesn´t launch at all or just closes after the intro videos.
  • Workaround: Use the "Verify File Integrity" option in Uplay PC client. Open your For Honor game page, click "Properties", and in the "Local files" section select "Verify files".

[PC] Easy AntiCheat – Easy AntiCheat sometimes displays an error message with error code 10018

  • Easy AntiCheat sometimes displays an error message with error code 10018.
  • Workaround: Close the game, check that all game processes have ended correctly (or close them using Task Manager), and restart the game.
  • Close the game and restart Uplay PC client.

Continue here to read the full story.

Blood Bowl 2 Adds New Teams

New Khemri and Chaos Dwarf team packs are now available for Blood Bowl 2 on Steam, expanding the roster for the fantasy-themed tackle football sequel. These are now included in this Team Pack, and here's word on what they bring to the game:

Being dead has its advantages. The Khemri team not only possesses the Regeneration skill but, due to certain arcane devices dragged up from the tombs, some players also benefit from Block and Pass. This means that they surpass the other Undead teams when playing the ball as they can run and pass almost as well as similar players of the living races. The flip-side of course is that since the majority of the team is made up of shambling Skeletons and lumbering Mummies, Khemri Coaches will need all their centuries of experience not to lose their most useful players early in the game.

The Chaos Dwarfs are different. They are the twisted descendants of Dwarf explorers turned into evil, self-centered creatures by the forces of Chaos. Their teams are defence-oriented and benefit from the great velocity of their Centaur retrievers and from a very powerful front line that can endure (and apply) a lot of pressure. Their main weakness lies with their poor ball-handling skills, forcing them to rely on their fragile Hobgoblins.

Valve on Countering Cheats

A post to Reddit from Valve answers a question about auto-detecting cheating on Steam (thanks PCGamesN). The topic of automatically banning blatant bots in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive inspired a response that explains that Valve doesn't want to get into an "arms race" with cheaters:

So some bad news: any hard-coded detection of spin-botting leads to an arms race with cheat developers – if they can find the edges of the heuristic you’re using to detect the cheat, the problem comes back. Instead, you’d want to take a machine-learning approach, training (and continuously retraining) a classifier that can detect the differences between cheaters and normal/highly-skilled players.

The process of parsing, training, and classifying player data places serious demands on hardware, which means you want a machine other than the server doing the work. And because you don’t know ahead of time who might be using this kind of cheat, you’d have to monitor matches as they take place, from all ten players’ perspectives.

There are over a million CS:GO matches played every day, so to avoid falling behind you’d need a system capable of parsing and processing every demo of every match from every player’s perspective, which currently means you’d need a datacenter capable of powering thousands of cpu cores.

The good news is that we’ve started this work. An early version of the system has already been deployed and is submitting cases to Overwatch. Since the results have been promising, we’re going to continue this work and expand the system over time.

Morning Patches

Morning Consolidation

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

I threw out a lot of junk yesterday as part of gearing up to move. A lot of junk. Like an extreme amount of junk. This leaves me in a position where all that remains is to throw out a lot of junk. A lot of junk. Like an extreme amount of junk.

Junky Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Story of a Pawn.
Story: Karma Comes Back Around For Dumbass Arsonist. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Science: Get it while it's hot: NASA's Space Poo contest winners wipe up $30k.
Images: Grounded generator. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Media: Love with a VR boyfriend.
The World Is Slowly Running Out Of Sand.
Amazing Cat Rescues Puppy From Ditch In India.

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