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Monday, Aug 28, 2017


Rune: Ragnarok Announced

Human Head Studios reveals plans for Rune: Ragnarok, a surprising follow up to Rune, an action/adventure released in the last millennium. Word is they are planning an open-world sandbox environment, and this website is online as home to the project, which does not yet carry a release date. The original was steeped in Norse mythology and melee combat, and while there was an expansion, a sequel never materialized before now. Here's the announce trailer, and here's word:

Human Head Studios has revealed Rune: Ragnarok, a sandbox, open-world RPG set in a dangerous Norse universe during the end of days. A highly anticipated follow-up to Rune, the team’s hit action-adventure game, Rune: Ragnarok places players in the middle of an epic battle where gods, beasts, and the last remaining humans struggle to survive.

By pledging allegiance to one of the Norse gods, players gain favor and special abilities to aid them as they raid enemy villages, fight the undead in brutal melee combat, sail to new lands, and craft powerful weapons to complete the goals of their god and conclude Ragnarok.

From Project Director Chris Rhinehart: “After seventeen years, we are thrilled to finally announce a new Rune game. In the spirit of the original, Rune: Ragnarok has intense and brutal combat in a world steeped in Norse mythology. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve created.”

Continue here to read the full story.

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder Rolls Out

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder is now available for PC and consoles, with the Windows edition out on Steam. There's also DLC for this already, a classic pack, as well as a Binding of Isaac pack which is free for the next month. Rock on with your bad self and check out the launch trailer, and read on for the announcement, since it's all downhill from here:

Explore lavishly developed artistic worlds as you smash hapless enemies and smoosh famous figures into obscurity. With new stages, characters, units, and boulders, ROA2 is truly a bigger and boulder game than the original. Oh, and ACE Team even beefed up multiplayer modes so more friends can now experience the pure pleasure of rolling a large boulder down a hill and devastating everything in sight. Play with up to four players online or locally with customizable banners and colors for each team! Partner up with your best friend to absolutely crush the dreams of your other two, not so best, friends in 2v2 War matches. If you want to prove you're the hardest rock of the bunch, the free-for-all Obstacle Course is the way to go.

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder will be available digitally on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The standalone game will be priced at $14.99 on all three platforms with Xbox One players receiving 10 percent off their purchase during the first week. The game will also be available in a bundle on PS4 and Steam which contains:

  • Rock of Ages 2 + Classic DLC Pack + Rock of Ages ($19.99) - This package includes Rock of Ages 2; the Classic Pack which features the Smiley Boulder; Sisyphus avatar and three army banners; and the original Rock of Ages. This bundle is available on Steam now and will be available on PS4 tomorrow (Aug. 29).

There will also be two DLC packs available as well:

  • Binding of Isaac Pack (Free) - This DLC contains a very special Isaac boulder, three avatars (Isaac, Azazel, Blue Baby), and three Isaac-themed banners. This pack will be available for four weeks following release with all purchases of the game. This is available now on Steam and PS4 in the Americas. It will go live for PS4 in Europe on Aug. 31 and Xbox One worldwide tomorrow.
  • Classic Pack ($1.99) - This DLC is free for those on Steam and PS4 who own Rock of Ages and sees the return of the Smiley boulder and Sisyphus avatar, as well as three new banners. For Steam players, a bonus soundtrack is also included. This is now available on Steam and PS4 in the Americas and will be available on Xbox One worldwide tomorrow. It will come out for PS4 in Europe on Aug. 31.

Continue here to read the full story.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Trailer

A new trailer from Divinity: Original Sin 2 is now available, showing the RPG sequel in what's described as its final state, as it's due to leave early access in a couple of weeks. They offer a not-at-all subtle hint that this also reveals the Undead as the game's sixth and final playable race. Word is: "This trailer features final art and character designs for the game. Wait, what was that skeleton dude? Could that be the sixth origin character and final playable race in the game, this long-rumored 'undead' race? Stay tuned for more info on that dropping Thursday this week!" Continue here to read the full story.

Heroes of the Storm Kel'Thuzad Trailers

A trailer called Resurrecting Kel'Thuzad: Honoring a Legacy looks at the history of this Warcraft character that Blizzard is bringing to Heroes of the Storm. Word is: "Join us for episode one of Resurrecting Kel'Thuzad as we show how the Heroes of the Storm team honored the legacy set forth by the hundreds of Blizzard Entertainment employees that have brought this iconic villain to life over the past 20+ years." On a semi-related note, just for fun, a Designing Kel'Thuzad video from Carbot Animations shows the process of finding the signature Carbot style for showing the character in future cartoons. Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Evening Patches

Evening Previews

  • Assassin's Creed Origins on UbiBlog. "Exploring Memphis at Gamescom 2017."

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Safety Dance

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Game of Thrones Game Rumor

A placeholder listing noted by NeoGAF user That Damn kid on the Target website seems to indicate a Game of Thrones game is in the works. There's nothing there but the title and the name of Bethesda, and perusing other game listings there suggests this is because they are the publisher/distributor rather than developer, though they may be both. But they also may be neither as there is nothing confirmed so far, so we'll just have to see what more comes of this. Thanks Techraptor.

X4: Foundations Announced

EGOSOFT has unveiled plans for X4 as promised, saying the new installment in their space exploration and combat series will be titled X4: Foundations. This page has info, though this does not yet seem to carry a release date. There are screenshots, which are also in an album on Imgur and there's an announcement trailer. The description of the video has a detailed description.

X4: FOUNDATIONS, the long awaited sequel in the successful X series brings our most sophisticated universe SIMULATION ever. Manage an empire or EXPLORE space in first person. Fly every ship, TRADE and FIGHT to BUILD your empire with modular station construction and THINK carefully when embarking on an epic journey.

Freedom to personally fly all ships:
X4 will allow you to fly all ships personally. From small scouts over a wide range of ship classes up to the biggest carrier, everything can be piloted from the cockpit or an external view. Additionally some drones and utility vehicles in X4 can be remotely controlled by the player.
A big focus in the development of X4 has been to achieve a seamless and immersive experience when moving between ships. You can leave a ship, climb down a ladder, walk over the dock of a large space station into another ship you may have parked there and replace the pilot that was working for you just by clicking on his chair.

Modular stations and ship upgrades:
Building space stations and factories has always been a foundation of the X games. After gaining enough money through fighting or trading, most players want to establish their own economy and start influencing the universe on a larger scale. In X4, it is now possible to be completely free and creative. Stations can be constructed from a variety of modules, be it production modules, living sections, docks or many other types of parts. The powerful new map system allows you to drag and connect modules using a connection system to design your own unique creations.
Ships also offer a variety of upgrades. Engines, weapons and other equipment can be added in a graphical editor and actually seen on the ship.

Most dynamic X universe ever:
X4 will be the first X game to allow our races and factions to freely build and expand their empires; the same flexibility the player enjoys in creatively designing space stations from modular building blocks is also available to them. Races expand their empire based on supply and demand, which leads to an extremely dynamic universe where every action the player makes can influence the
course of the entire universe.

Continue here to read the full story.

MS's Virtual Reality Sets This Year

Ars Technica has word Microsoft's plans for their own virtual reality head-mounted displays, saying support for these should come to Windows 10 this autumn and the units should ship by this holiday season. Word is the goggles will sell for around USD $299.00 and there will be a bundle for a hundred dollars more that will include motion controllers. There are some surprises, including word that these will support Valve's SteamVR games, they will not require base stations for tracking, and the controllers are more complex than those for current HMDs. Here's a bit :

In time for this year's holiday season, there will be $299 headsets and $399 headset-and-motion-controller bundles, using Microsoft's new motion controllers. Aside from the price, the Windows platform has a few features that make it stand out from SteamVR and the HTC Vive and Facebook's Oculus Rift. The first is substantially easier setup, as the Windows platform doesn't need fixed base stations for position tracking. Instead, it uses "inside out" tracking; it combines acceleration input from accelerometers with visual input from cameras embedded in the headsets to provide motion tracking. This means that it doesn't need base stations on the walls, nor does it need the laser-based tracking used in the HoloLens headset.

The same tracking system is used for the motion controllers; they include embedded accelerometers, and this data is combined with the camera data (since most of the time your hands will be on the edge of your field of view), and reverse kinematic models (which is to say: since you're holding the controllers, their movements are limited by human anatomy). The Microsoft controllers are more complex than those used by the HTC Vive, with more buttons and controls on them; they're also asymmetric, with a dedicated left hand and right hand controller.

Brain Controllers Progress

An article on the New York Times discusses progress on neural interfaces, and the implications thought controllers have on both video games as well as future prosthetic devices. Though they say some of this still inspires skepticism, there are some signs of progress over products like the Minddrive, which was a first attempt at something like this that they reported on over 20 years ago with a much greater degree of disbelief. Here's a bit:

When you pull the headset over your eyes and the game begins, you are transported to a tiny room with white walls. Your task is to break out of the room, but you cannot use your hands. There is no joystick or game pad. You must use your thoughts.

You turn toward a ball on the floor, and your brain sends a command to pick it up. With another thought, you send the ball crashing into a mirror, breaking the glass and revealing a few numbers scribbled on a wall. You mentally type those numbers into a large keypad by the door. And you are out.

Designed by Neurable, a small start-up founded by Ramses Alcaide, an electrical engineer and neuroscientist, the game offers what you might call a computer mouse for the mind, a way of selecting items in a virtual world with your thoughts.

Incorporating a headset with virtual reality goggles and sensors that can read your brain waves, this prototype is a few years from the market. And it is limited in what it can do. You cannot select an object with your mind unless you first look in its general direction, narrowing the number of items you may be considering.

Xenia This Week

Loresoft announces Xenia, a game with a story they say is inspired by real-life Greek Queen Xenia and gameplay inspired by the Metroidvania genre. Those interested will not have long to wait, as this is due for release on Steam this Friday (September 1st). In the meantime, here's the announcement trailer and here are further details:

In Xenia you will be able to control Ardas, a blacksmith who sees his city being rushed by evil forces. Queen Xenia is a real-life character, who lived in the 12th century b.c. Her castle was located at Ftheia plateau, Greece. According to the game’s plot, the evil wizard Skotos kidnapped the queen in order to use her blood to become powerful. After the royal army was sent to Troy in aid of King Achilles, Ardas has to accomplish a very difficult task. Save the queen at any cost.

The game has been developed by only one person, Dimitris Floros, after 8 months of work. It’s a side-scrolling Metroidvania style Platform in which you collect gold and use it to buy items from the Magic shop. Xenia has 12 levels, 7 bosses and makes use of secret rooms and alternate endings, which increase the game’s replayability. Progress is being done by checkpoints and gameplay is fast-paced.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Previews

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Got my new desk setup and my office moved back into my office. As I described, the improvement to my ergonomics are immeasurable, so I am extremely pleased to be done with my uncomfortable temporary setup. And it occurs to me that this actually worked out well in one way, as my office is a finished attic which is by far the hottest place in the BlueTower. So with the end of August upon us, I managed to be out of here for most of the hottest part of the year, which saved a lot of sweat and air conditioning. I'm just going to pretend this was the plan all along.

Ergonomic Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Fist Punch 2.
Little Alchemy 2.
Link: 18 space suits from science fiction, from worst to best. Thanks Neutronbeam.
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How College Loans Got So Evil.
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