Archived News:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 Happy Whacking Day (Springfield)

Mass Effect Series on Hold?

Kotaku reports that they're told the Mass Effect series is on hold due to the response to Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was mixed at best. The unconfirmed report is attributed to "four sources close to" developer BioWare, who all indicate this is not the death of the series, just a hiatus. They also report that resources at BioWare Montreal are being reshuffled, while some of the staff there remain dedicated to supporting Andromeda. Though it does not address the status of the series, they did get a response from BioWare Montreal confirming some personnel moves:
Our teams at BioWare and across EA put in tremendous effort bringing Mass Effect Andromeda to players around the world. Even as BioWare continues to focus on the Mass Effect Andromeda community and live service, we are constantly looking at how we’re prepared for the next experiences we will create.

The teams in EA Worldwide Studios are packed with talent, and more than ever, we are driving collaboration between studios on key projects.

With our BioWare and Motive teams sharing studio space in Montreal, we have BioWare team members joining Motive projects that are underway. We’re also ramping up teams on other BioWare projects in development.

There will be much more to come from BioWare in the years ahead.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Patched

Speaking of which, the new patch is now live in Mass Effect: Andromeda, updating BioWare's sci-fi game to version 1.06. This page has the complete patch notes in English and links to them in other languages. Since the update carries significant multiplayer combat balance changes, they also run through these in a separate post. Here's the overview from that:
We’ve received a lot of community feedback about balance issues in multiplayer. We have improved the overall experience based on that feedback and our own testing.

Powers and weapons were underperforming at higher difficulties—particularly power combos and assault rifles. As a result, players relied heavily on the Vanquisher sniper rifle and melee-focused classes.

We found current damage levels significantly slowed the pace of games on Gold and Silver difficulties. To fix this, we started to overhaul the balance in multiplayer. Today’s changes are the first step in that process.

PAYDAY VR Announced

Starbreeze's promised announcement from their StarStream is PAYDAY VR, a virtual reality version of their heist sequel that will be available to all PAYDAY 2 owners. This trailer offers a look at what this is like (thanks Devicer), showing that it will be possible to form a crew combining players using HMDs and regular monitors. Word is: "PAYDAY is coming to VR - so now you can become a true heister and immerse yourself as a fully fledged bank robber." They say to expect the beta to start later this year. Continue here to read the full story.

PC VANQUISH This Month

SEGA announces VANQUISH is coming to Windows on May 25th via Steam, offering a port of this sci-fi shooter they say benefits from "SEGA's renowned best practice conversion treatment." They provide a look at what this means in this trailer featuring in-game footage. They are also throwing a couple of incentives, saying everyone who pre-purchases the game will get a free upgrade to a deluxe edition, and that there's also a 25% pre-purchase discount for owners of Bayonetta. Here's word:
Pre-order VANQUISH on Steam to receive the Digital Deluxe Edition which includes a 5 track soundtrack sampler, character and enemy avatars, art book and exclusive wallpapers. Fans who already own Bayonetta on Steam or purchase it before May 25th 2017, will automatically get 25% off when they pre-order VANQUISH. However, players only have until the 25th of May, 2017, to secure the Digital Deluxe Edition via pre-ordering before it reverts to the Standard Edition.

Directed by Shinji Mikami, the creator of the Resident Evil™ series, VANQUISH is a sci-fi shooter of epic proportion. Take control of DARPA operative Sam Gideon, who has been assigned a mission to battle legions of future-tech enemies using a vast arsenal of weapons. VANQUISH boasts fluid and frenetic combat, spectacular melee moves, and intense speed, wrapped in a gripping story. VANQUISH is the latest best practice conversion from SEGA, and features a host of PC optimized options, including an unlocked framerate, 4k resolution support, extensive graphics options and full keyboard and mouse support.
Continue here to read the full story.

Capcom Fighters Network Beta Weekend

CapCom Unity announces a second beta weekend for the Capcom Fighters Network (CFN) for Street Fighter V. This will take place on both PC and PlayStation 4 and cross-platform play is one of the things they will be testing. This post from a couple of weeks ago outlines all the changes this will involve, including improved loading times and a matchmaking update that now includes rage quit penalties. It will also provide the first chance to play as the game's Ed, the game's newest fighter. Here's the plan:
Ready to sample the new and improved Capcom Fighters Network (CFN) for Street Fighter V? Both PC and PlayStation 4 players can leap into the CFN Beta for some cross-play action beginning 6PM PT on Thursday, May 11, and play through the weekend to 6PM PT on Sunday, May 14. For our European players, that’d be 2am GMT Friday, May 12 to 1am GMT Monday, May 15. You don’t even need a copy of Street Fighter V to participate – simply download the Beta client for free and get crackin’!

Ed and his Psycho Power-infused boxing skills make their debut during the Beta as well. You’ll be able to sample the upcoming character Ed throughout the Beta, so please enjoy this free preview.

Ed, the Season 2 balance changes and numerous other tweaks make this an extremely important Beta for SFV players and the new CFN. We want to ensure this update injects a new sense of excitement and energy into the online Street Fighter V experience, so please log in and let us know what you think!
Continue here to read the full story.

Quake Champions Visor Trailer

Bethesda.net now offers a new Visor Champion Trailer, showing off the abilities of another of the combatants coming to Quake Champions, id's upcoming shooter. They note that he is one of the champions players will be able to try during the open tech test that gets underway Friday. Visor returns from Quake III Arena, and his kit harkens back to the day, as Visor's active ability is basically a wall hack, while his passive ability is a speed boost from old-fashioned strafe jumping. Here's how they are described:
ACTIVE ABILITY – PIERCING SIGHT
Using his Piercing Sight active ability, Visor can temporarily see through all matter, allowing him to keep tabs on any opponents who may be trying to get the drop on him. He can even use his Sight to track Nyx after she has activated Ghost Walk. Good luck trying to sneak up on a man who can see through walls.

PASSIVE ABILITY – GRASSHOPPER
Visor may be cocky about his skills, but he certainly has the speed to back up his claims. He can even keep up with the fast-talking (and faster moving) Anarki. Thanks to his Grasshopper passive ability, Visor can continually gain speed when strafe-jumping, with no cap on just how fast he can go. If you’ve got the skill, you’ll be able to keep up with anyone. Paired with Piercing Sight, Visor is a handful in Deathmatch and the perfect choice to bring along for a Duel.
Continue here to read the full story.

NY Times on Star Citizen

An article in the New York Times takes a look at Star Citizen, Cloud Imperium's upcoming space flight game. The article is titled "Video Game Raised $148 Million From Fans. Now It’s Raising Concerns," but it's not really as critical as that implies. The concern they raise refers to crowd-funded games that ended up disappointing backers, citing Mighty No. 9 and Clang. But their discussion of the game's extraordinary funding success expanding the project's scope uses only positive perspectives, in spite the concerns of some backers and observers that things have gone off the rails. They quote developer Chris Roberts and three mostly satisfied backers, one of whom has sunk $15,000 into the game. Here's the back-and-forth on that:
For Matthew Slattery, 18, a Star Citizen backer from South Australia, the idea of being able to play the game while it was still in development was a big draw. He has pledged about $100 to date.

“Getting to learn the process of game development, communicate with the developers and ask questions directly to the best in the field is a very rare opportunity,” Mr. Slattery said.

Clifford Zernicek, a 36-year-old designer from Houston, has pledged more than $15,000 to Star Citizen. He said he liked that the development of the game “isn’t behind closed doors, like normal publishers.”

For now, both donors are willing to wait for Star Citizen — even though its initial release of 2014 was pushed back to 2016, and has been pushed back again. It now has no set release date.

Even so, gamers know Mr. Roberts is adding more features to the game. Mr. Roberts said he was investing in film-level graphics for Star Citizen, as well as building an ever-increasing universe with multiple solar systems and planets for players to explore — all rendered in elaborate detail.

“Of course I have reservations about whether or not Cloud Imperium Games can meet their goals,” said Mr. Kearns, the web designer in Chicago. But he added that “after a few updates and patches, I considered my pledge money well spent and anything else that came from the game was a bonus."

Absolver in August; New Trailer

A new trailer from Absolver, offers a combat overview of this upcoming melee combat game from developer Sloclap and publisher Devolver Digital. They also specify a release date, saying to expect this on PC and PS4 on August 29th. Here's more:
Absolver puts players behind the mask of a Prospect, who has taken a sacred vow and chosen to join the Absolvers, an elite corps of combatants fighting to maintain stability in the world. Prospects will choose a combat style, each with their own special abilities, and assemble their own custom Combat Deck to create a personal fighting system in intense, real-time combat. Choose to wander the land alone, with friends, or find a mentor to spar and learn from to become a more polished warrior.

Absolver's new trailer dives deep into these details, giving players a good look at each unique fighting method and the abilities they serve. At the beginning of your journey, players choose one of three combat styles, but others exist in the world of Adal waiting to be discovered. Each of the three initial combat styles come with special abilities and improves special character attributes depending on player style:

  • Kahlt Method – Absorb hits without being stunned or pushed back, and regain lost health with every successful counter attack.
  • Forsaken – Balanced and powerful, prospects can parry enemy attacks and briefly stun opponents.
  • Windfall – Greater dexterity and will, prospects can avoid enemy attacks leaving them open to a powerful counter attack.

The trailer also outlines the Combat Deck. The Combat Deck is the inventory of attacks that players can use while fighting. Your deck is made up of four stances, and in each stance different attacks are available. Players can choose attacks and stances to create their own unique fighting style; it's fully customizable and you can change your stance on the fly to keep your opponents on their toes.

In combat, players are also able to unlock new attacks, or you can take on a mentor and learn their ways – relationships are as important as they allow you to acquire more skill and knowledge.

Continue here to read the full story.

RIFT Expansion Renamed; Offered for Free

Trion Worlds announces they've renamed the latest expansion for RIFT, their fantasy MMORPG. This was previously called Starfall Prophecy but it is now Prophecy of Ahnket. They explain that this is to avoid confusion for a charity called the Starfall Education Foundation. They also announce that although this is a premium add-on, they are giving it away for free to all players who log into their accounts over the next few days. Here's word:
Beginning today, RIFT’s latest premium expansion (earlier called Starfall Prophecy) becomes Prophecy of Ahnket.

As part of a special limited-time promotion, players who log into RIFT between May 10 and May 14 will permanently receive the Prophecy of Ahnket premium expansion for free. In addition, all players who log in during this period will also receive a free “Prophecy of Ahnket Cache” that contains in-game rewards and items, including Individual Reward Charges for the expansion’s new Looking for Raid system. After this promotional weekend, Prophecy of Ahnket will be available to purchase for $19.99.

Three items originally obtainable by purchasing the Deluxe Edition – the Ethereal Drake Mount, Asha Catari’s Raiment, and the Ring of Ahnket Portrait Frame – can now be acquired by purchasing the “Celestial Adventurer's Pack.” The level 65 boost, originally obtainable by purchasing either the Deluxe or Standard Editions, can now be purchased directly from the RIFT store for 6000 Credits.

Shortly after announcing the new expansion as “Starfall Prophecy,” Trion Worlds became acquainted with the Starfall Education Foundation, a public charity aimed at providing children with educational resources at little or no cost through audiovisual interactivity. Out of respect for the foundation's history and efforts, Trion has changed the name of the new RIFT expansion to Prophecy of Ahnket.

The Steam 360 Video Player Beta

Steam News announces that The Steam 360 Video Player is now in beta, offering VR playback. Word is:
The Steam 360 Video Player, which allows for instant playback of VR movies and other linear VR shorts and shows, is now available in beta.

The Steam 360 Video player leverages the Pixvana SPIN Studio technology to enable adaptive streaming in Steam VR, eliminating the need to launch a separate application for playback of linear VR content.

On Sale

  • Axiom Verge on Steam. Save 50%.

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

  • Hell Warders - Indiegogo. "Fight swarms of invading demons with a team Hell Warders, an ancient order of heroes with unique powers and abilities. Co-operate with up to 4 players to fend off the demons in this online multiplayer action game that redefines the defense genre. Push back waves of demons with pure battle power or by building formidable defensives such as catapults or flamethrowers. Hell Warders will be available on the PC (Steam Platform)."

Endless Space 2 Fallen Faction Details

Amplitude Studios announces details about the Unfallen civilization from Endless Space 2, saying the community designed this eighth faction for the 4X strategy sequel. The Windows game is currently in early access on Steam, and word is we can expect an official release on May 19th. Publisher SEGA offers two new videos to celebrate the news, an Unfallen prologue trailer and a "making of" feature that has more on the collaborative design process. Here's word:
Amplitude Studios announced today that the 8th major faction for their sci-fi grand strategy game, Endless Space®2, will be available via Steam on May 19. The Unfallen civilization, completely designed by the community, utilizes gameplay modeled around a tree metaphor, with the Unfallen’s homeworld being the trunk, as they slowly expand via their tendrils - colonizing systems that are nearest their homeworld. To lose their homeworld is to lose their entire empire, as the Unfallen must maintain contact with their homeworld to survive.

Players of the Unfallen will favor the “slow and steady” pacifist style of play, rather than rushing out to conquer as quickly as possible – expanding their “branches” as they go, while seeking symbiosis with the other factions and providing bonuses to their allies. The Unfallen are also in synch with nature and have the unique ability to awaken the Guardians, beings that normally lie dormant on planets, which when awoken, provide benefits to their owner and friends, and penalties to their foes. Created in cooperation with the Endless Space® 2 community, the Unfallen were designed in several phases by fans via Games2Gether – each phase reflecting an aspect of the new faction; the gameplay, the visuals, and the narrative.
Continue here to read the full story.

Last Stitch Goodnight Dawns

Last Stitch Goodnight is now available on Steam, offering a side-scrolling action/adventure for Windows and OS X. Here's the release trailer and here's word on the game:
In Last Stitch Goodnight, you find yourself captured by a mad doctor who is intent on learning the origin of life. The only path to freedom is to battle your way through well trained soldiers, deranged experiments, and surprisingly efficient office temps. But what good is a lead pipe against a giant BirthBot that keeps eating scraps from the recycle bin to make new drones? You'll need to think fast and use your weapons as more than just bludgeons, using them instead as tools to solve puzzles and outthink your foes.
Continue here to read the full story.

Warfare Online Online

Warfare Online is now available on Steam, offering a free-to-play "tug of war" game set during World War II. This is from the developer of Warfare 1944, an online Flash game also set during the big one. Here's a trailer and this post offers thanks to early access testers and adds some details:
The battle has begun.

Warfare Online is a fast-paced, focused, online tug-of-war.

Collect and customize infantry, vehicles and support assets to push forward, destroy your opponent’s outpost and seize victory!

Assemble your Platoons and battle with Commanders from all over the world in head-to-head online multiplayer action.
Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

My update yesterday on our contractor situation inspired some questions, so I should clarify. The basic query was to ask why we *need* to do anything to sell the house. The answer is that while we technically don't, there were some things that made a lot of sense, like putting in a proper bathroom in my attic office to make it a more liveable space. But one remaining task has an undeniable priority, as there is a leak in the main bathroom on the second floor that really needs to be repaired, and unfortunately, this is going to require breaking through the wall. Combine that with the fact that this is a really crappy little bathroom that needed a renovation 17 years ago when we moved here, it made no sense to demolish a wall and return it to its awful state. Since we were set with a contractor when this whole project started, we have the tiles and fixtures, we just need someone to put them in. We are still stuck on that topic, so I thank those of you who had suggestions for apps and other services to help find help. We were hoping to do this with a personal recommendation (for all the good it did with our first guy), but we need to make something happen soon, so one of these resources may be the answer.

R.I.P.: Trance legend Robert Miles dead at 47.

Repaired Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Idle Tower Defense.
TransCube.
Science: The intelligent intersection could banish traffic lights forever.
Possible human ancestor turns out to have shared Earth with us.
NSAID painkillers linked to increased risk of heart attack.
Images: Pure Wholesome Dump. Dog pr0n. Thanks Kxmode.
Media: Everything Wrong With Assassin's Creed In 13 Minutes Or Less.
Games where your choices don't actually matter (NSFW).
RAY MANZAREK-RIDERS ON THE STORM.
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