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Tuesday, Dec 05, 2017

  

The Battle for Star Control Continues

A post on GOG.com by Stardock's Brad Wardell adds a twist to the Star Control brouhaha which recently bubbled up (thanks Rollory). Stardock and Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III are engaged in a dispute over what aspects of the series are actually owned by which entity. Stardock purchased the game's name (at the very least) in 2013 as part of an Atari fire sale, but Reiche and Ford claimed they possessed the rights to sell the original two DOS Star Control games they co-developed. This morning we reported that Paul and Fred (aka Toys for Bob) claimed they removed the sci-fi action/strategy series from GOG.com of their own volition (no wait, that was a different fire sale) as a maneuver in this battle. Now Wardell says Stardock actually instigated the removal of the Star Control games so they could sell them there themselves, and in a later post the Stardock CEO says the games are now back on GOG.com being sold by Stardock, which lends credibility to his side of the story. Here's the post that preceded the reappearance of the series:

Paul and Fred have provided no documentation whatsoever, not even an email, to back up their claim regarding Atari. If they had, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

However, upon learning that Paul and Fred were the ones who set up the agreement with GOG, we informed them that they needed to take it down as they do not, and have never had the right, to sell or distribute Accolade (and now Stardock) Star Control games. We informed GOG of this change last week.

We have a great deal of respect for Paul and Fred as the designers of Star Control I and II. However, until they can back up their claims that the IP they licensed for Star Control I and II has actually expired with some sort of documentation we are not inclined to discontinue their sale and distribution as long as the fan community supports this.

With any luck, the Star Control titles will be transferred to the existing Stardock GOG distribution agreement and sales will continue. Paul and Fred will continue to receive royalties, as they have for the past several years, for the sales and distribution of the classic Star Control games.

For those not interested in the original DOS experience, there is the amazing Ur-Quan Masters project which is free.

Destiny 2 Curse of Osiris Released

The Curse of Osiris expansion is now available for Destiny 2, adding new content to Bungie's first-person shooter sequel. This comes alongside a new patch, detailed here, which updates the game to version 1.10 with a bunch of changes and bug fixes. Here's the launch trailer from the add-on, and here's the brief description:

Destiny 2 Expansion I: Curse of Osiris continues your Guardian’s journey with all-new story missions and adventures set in a new destination, Mercury. Journey through time and space to learn the secrets of Osiris, avert a dark future, and rebuild the ties between the legendary Warlock and his greatest student – Ikora Rey.

Continue here to read the full story.

Rainbow Six Siege Launches Operation White Noise; Boasts 25 Million Players

UbiBlog announces the release of the Operation White Noise expansion for Rainbow Six Siege, adding three new operators and a new map to the tactical shooter. They also use the occasion to announce that the game now has over 25 million registered players, saying, "we're thrilled to see that the community has embraced the game, brought along their friends, and really pushed our understanding of what’s possible with what we've created." The new Tower map from the expansion is now available to all players, and the three new operators in the expansion are now accessible to season pass holders, and after a week all players will be able to unlock them using Renown or R6 Credits. There also other changes and bug fixes, which are detailed on this page. Here's a trailer showing things off, and here's part of the announcement:

Rainbow Six Siege Operation White Noise is now available on all platforms. The latest expansion features three new Operators: Dokkaebi and Vigil from South Korea’s 707th Special Mission Battalion, and Zofia from Poland’s GROM CTU. It also introduces the new Tower map in which attackers must infiltrate by dropping down an elevator shaft or rappelling down the outside of the building high above the city streets. The Tower map is free to all players now. Season Pass owners have exclusive access to the three new Operators for seven days, and after that period, all players can unlock new Operators via Renown or R6 Credits.

With the release of Operation White Noise, Rainbow Six Siege has hit another milestone, surpassing 25 million registered players. “As the game progressed, we continued to develop it with the community in mind,” says said Alexandre Remy, Brand Director on Rainbow Six Siege. “We’re thrilled to see that the community has embraced the game, brought along their friends, and really pushed our understanding of what’s possible with what we’ve created.”

Continue here to read the full story.

Steep Road to the Olympics Hits the Slopes

Also on UbiBlog is word that the Road to the Olympics add-on for Steep is now available, adding new events and the ability to go for the gold (not literally) in the winter sports game. This launch trailer shows off the action, and the announcement has all the details:

Steep Road to the Olympics, an expansion to Steep, the open world action-sports game that launched in December 2016, is now available on PS4, the Xbox One (enhanced for Xbox One X), and PC. The Steep Road to the Olympics expansion will feature fresh Alpine and Freestyle events, including Giant Slalom, Slalom, Super-G, Downhill, Parallel Giant Slalom, Halfpipe, Snowboard Cross, Slopestyle, Big Air, Ski Halfpipe, Ski Cross, and Ski Slopestyle.

The Steep Road to the Olympics expansion features a new mode where players embark on the Become a Legend journey. Newcomers and players who want to build up their freestyle tricks and discover the new Slopestyle discipline will take on the journey of an athlete on their way to the Olympic Winter Games. Players will also be able to explore the mountains of Japan, carving through unique powder and exceptional environments.

Before each challenge in the Become a Legend mode, players will be treated to training tips and insights from Olympians on the variety of Steep Road to the Olympics events, track designs and the competition itself. Video interviews from 10 legends and rising stars are integrated in the game:

  • Lindsey Vonn, American Alpine Skiier who has won numerous competitions including a gold medal in the Downhill event at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010.
  • Kevin Rolland, French freestyle skier and progressive risk taker who won an Olympic bronze medal in the Halfpipe at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
  • Sage Kotsenburg, American snowboarder who won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in Snowboard Slopestyle at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
  • Ayumu Hirano, Japanese competitive snowboarder who won an Olympic silver medal in the Halfpipe at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
  • Alexis Pinturault, French alpine ski racer and Olympic medalist in 2014 for Giant Slalom.
  • Tessa Worley, French competitor of all five alpine disciplines and specialist of Giant Slalom.
  • Scotty James, Australian snowboarder, two-time world Halfpipe champion and 2017 superpipe champion.
  • Gus Kenworthy, American freestyle skier who won the silver medal in Ski Slopestyle at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
  • Julia Marino, young American snowboarder and 2017 Slopestyle snowboarding champion.
  • Bode Miller, Olympic gold medalist and the most decorated male American alpine ski racer of all time.

The expansion can be purchased for $30. Steep Winter Games Edition, which includes the original base game and the Steep Road to the Olympics expansion, can be purchased for $60. Steep Winter Games Gold Edition, featuring the original base game, the Steep Road to the Olympics expansion and the season pass, which gives players access to three previously-released add-on content packs featuring additional sports, challenges and outfits, will be available for $80.

Continue here to read the full story.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Adds New Chapter with VR Support

This Steam Community announcement has word that a new chapter called Blood Ties is now available for Rise of the Tomb Raider, available to owners of the 20 Year Celebration Pack or the Season Pass for the action/adventure sequel. The news includes word that this chapter can be played in virtual reality by owners of Rift or Vive HMDs. The game is also on sale for half-off, as is its DLC, including the 20 year celebration pack and the Season Pass. Here are the details on VR support:

HTC Vive and Oculus Rift owners can now experience the “Blood Ties” single-player story chapter through the eyes of Lara Croft on SteamVR. If you ever wondered what it would be like to walk through the halls of Croft Manor, VR is the ultimate way to do so. SteamVR allows you to stand in the Manor’s main hall, explore Lord Croft’s office, and discover memories long thought lost in the lower basement levels of the home of Lara’s youth. Explore Lara’s childhood home in VR and uncover a Croft family mystery that will change her life forever.

The SteamVR update is free and available now. The “Blood Ties” story chapter is included with Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 year Celebration. Owners of Rise of the Tomb Raider standard edition can purchase the standalone version of Blood Ties, which is included in the 20 Year Celebration pack DLC, or purchase the season pass.

Thanks to our friends at Nixxes for their hard work on this VR update!

EVE Online Arms Race Update Gives Free Players More Toys

CCP announces the launch of a new Arms Race update for EVE Online, kicking off a week long event in the MMORPG, and giving the game's free-to-play audience more ships to fly and additional skills. This post has screenshots and details, this video shows off the expanded free fleet, and there's more on all this in the announcement:

Today, CCP announced the launch of the Arms Race update for EVE Online, their in-depth and uniquely player-driven spaceship MMO game, which introduces even greater accessibility and wider gameplay variety to players with free-to-play accounts, known as Alpha Clones. Introduced in last year’s Ascension expansion, Alpha accounts enable players to permanently join hundreds of thousands of established users in EVE Online’s massive space sandbox for free. Now, CCP Games has opened up the ability for Alpha pilots to train many more skills, fly more impressive spaceships and equip more advanced weaponry.

“There has never been a better time to join the universe of EVE and begin your own unique space adventure, or re-join and continue your journey,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CCP’s CEO. “The increased flexibility and depth of the free Alpha Clone experience means that EVE is more accessible than ever. EVE players can return and fly their favorite ships for free, re-uniting with old corpmates or continue forging their own destiny to make their mark on the universe.”

To mark this release, CCP has issued a new video highlighting the vessels now accessible for free.

The Arms Race update immensely increases Alpha Clones’ options for skill training, allowing them to pilot the mighty Battleship and Battlecruiser classes of vessel, as well as many ships from across all of EVE Online’s stalwart Empires and infamous pirate factions, which represent some of the most popular ships in the game. To supplement this change, free access has also been granted to skills that allow for the use of upgraded weapons systems.

Alpha pilots will now be able to enjoy an even greater feeling of immersion and participation in the universe of New Eden. This update also provides a great incentive for any veteran pilots interested in returning to EVE Online, enabling them to fly powerful ships in their old player groups once again without a subscription.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Interviews

Evening Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Star Control Rights Follow-up

The conflict between Stardock and Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III recently reported here was a little hard to sort through, as Ford and Reiche suggested Stardock has no rights to sell the older Star Control games or use certain Star Control assets, and Stardock indicated they have every right to sell the games and that they have no intention of using the assets in question. Each side has followed up on this to clarify (or possibly further confuse) the situation (thanks Rollory). Fred and Paul have a new blog post making the case for their ownership of rights to sell the older game, saying this was something confirmed by GOG.com. They also say they are working on getting these games removed from Steam, since they are being sold there by Stardock. They also say they have terminated their agreement with GOG.com and are removing the games from that service as well, though it's not clear how this relates to the Steam situation (our vast team of lawyers is on vacation, and not available to help us understand this). Stardock responds with further thoughts on the right to use game assets, and relevant to the more recent post from Ford and Reiche, says the pair have produced no legal documents to support their claim that they have the rights to sell the older games, while Stardock has signed contracts to that effect. In a more recent post, Stardock's Brad Wardell further discusses the rights to sell the DOS versions of these games. Here are both sides of the story, starting with Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, aka Toys for Bob, from the Dogar And Kazon blog:

We've decided to stop selling our old games, because:

  1. We think it's necessary to 'clear the decks' to help resolve our definitely-not-harmonious, until-recently-private, months-long conflict with Brad Wardell and his lawyers at Stardock.
  2. The Ur-Quan Masters HD Project is a free, vastly superior experience. Did we mention it's free? Fans have been dedicated to improving UQM for 15 years and it is awesome! Hopefully Star Control I and III will also become available for free in the near future.

Why was it okay to sell the games on GoG, but not on Steam or elsewhere?

The simple answer is because we have had our own direct distribution agreement with GOG since 2011 and no agreement with Stardock or Steam or anyone else. If you're into details, here goes:

  • In April 2011, we learned that Star Control I, II and III had been re-published on Good Old Games (GOG) — a big surprise since the games hadn’t been sold for years and no one had contacted us for permission to do so.
  • We reached out to GOG who said our games had been offered to them by Atari as part of a large batch of older Atari products. We then contacted Atari to let them know that we were the original authors and owners of the copyright to the games and that we had not given permission for them to republish our work. Atari checked with its lawyers and wrote back confirming our claims, apologizing to everyone for the mistake and informing GOG to remove the games from sale and pay any royalties earned to us.
  • Instead we suggested a way that GOG could continue to sell our games. GOG signed separate, independent contracts with: Atari to license the Star Control trademark, and us to license the rights to the games themselves. GOG has been selling the games and paying us directly ever since.
  • In October of this year, history repeated itself when Stardock began selling our games on Steam and elsewhere (even bundled with theirs), again without getting our permission. This time we couldn't come to an agreement, so we asked that Stardock stop bundling and selling the games. They refused, so we've decided to end our 2011 distribution agreement with GOG as a first step to having the games pulled down.

Here's the more recent post from Stardock's Brad Wardell from the Star Control Discussion Board:

Nothing has changed in the sense that the Accolade Star Control games have been digitally distributed for sale since at least 2011 -- years before Stardock was involved.

Paul apparently made similar claims to us as they did in the post and we asked them to show us any documentation to back up that claim, even an email from Atari would have sufficed and they refused.

It's not like the games sell a lot of units. We have a lot of titles available through many channels and the DOS games, admittedly, are not at the top of our priority list. But our publishing team isn't going to just drop products when we have a written and signed agreement. When they brought this up we said that this was a perfect example of why we need some sort of agreement to clear this up.

They seriously need to stop making these kinds of blogs and speak to an IP attorney. This drama is really unhelpful.

Figment Demo

Steam now offers a playable demo for Figment, a musical adventure game for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Developer Bedtime Digital Games also announces a Nintendo Switch version of the game will launch early next year ahead of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One editions. Here's word on the demo: "The game was widely praised when it released for PC in the summer, with review calling Figment "charming," "intelligent," and "a delightful puzzle adventure." The new playable demo gives players the chance to check out a small portion of the game, and experience firsthand its unique mix of lively combat, head-scratching conundrums, and full-blown musical boss fights!"

Boiling Bolt Released

Boiling Bolt is now available for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, offering a bullet hell shooter with a time-control element. The Windows edition is on Steam, where it carries a 20% launch discount. There's a look at the concept and gameplay in this launch trailer, and here's a feature list:

Play as June, a soldier struggling to defend her island against the evil threat. Her decisions will prove crucial for the outcome of this world in ruins.

  • Use your arsenal to its full potential (Plasma Whip, Thunder Lock, Warp Launcher...)
  • Master the bullet time to reach the highest scores
  • Play through 5 different levels
  • Different play modes ( Arcade, Free run, One Shot One Kill...).
  • 30 Challenges to accomplish
  • Play solo or in coop mode
  • Compare your score with the online ranking
  • Personalise your ship's characteristics at the shop
  • Enjoy fascinating 3D graphics, impressive special effects and 2D manga animation

Continue here to read the full story.

Shadow of War Adds Online Fighting Pits

The Shadow of War website has patch notes for a new update that has tweaks and fixes for the action/RPG, and also introduces a new feature, online fight pits. This video shows this off, and here's are the patch notes:

Free Content Update and Features (Included in the patch)

  • Online Fight Pits: The Online Fight Pits allows players to train up their Orc followers by pitting them against Uruks and Ologs from other gamers’ armies around the world. Through this ultimate fight to the death in the arena, players can earn powerful rewards and upgrades that can be used to improve their army and continue the battle for Mordor.

Additional Fixes

  • Improved Fight Pit pacing: Shortened fight timer and increased damage dealt.

Balancing

  • Starting a Nemesis Mission will now reset the cooldown for summoning beasts and bodyguards.

General

  • Fixed an issue where player gear and buffs were affecting Fight Pit participants.
  • Fixed issues where players’ Overlords could disappear from the Army screen after losing a fortress.
  • Fixed issues where an Orc who cheated death after a Pit Fight loss could fail to re-enter the Army screen.
  • Fixed an issue where loading into an Online Vendetta could result in becoming stuck on a black screen.
  • Fixed a long load time issue when selecting “Leave Mission” during an Online Vendetta or Online
  • Conquest.
  • Fixed issues with incorrect Orc traits being shown in the Online Conquests preview menu.
  • Fixed an incorrect error message when replacing a daily challenge.
  • Fixed a campaign audio issue when accessing the first Shadow of the Past Mission.

Continue here to read the full story.

Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator

A new free game called Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator is now available with little fanfare on Steam. This appears to be a simple pizza tycoon game, but as GameInformer notes, as with other games from Five Night's at Freddy's creator Scott Cawthon, things are not always what they seem to be. Word is this eventually veers into a different direction, which probably shouldn't be spoiled. Boo!

Morning Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750 Keyboard on TechPowerUp.
  • Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4600 16GB Memory Kit on TweakTown.
  • EVGA DG-77 Case Review featuring the Star Wars TITAN Xp on BabelTech Reviews.
  • Gigabyte Aero 14 i7-7700HQ and GTX 1050 Ti Notebook on eTeknix.
  • Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha Pro Gaming Headset on Overclockers Club.
  • SilverStone TS12C USB 3.1 Dual-Drive Dock and Cloner on TweakTown.
  • Synology DiskStation DS418play NAS on Modders-Inc.
  • Thermaltake Toughpower iRGB Plus 1250W Titanium PSU on [H]ardOCP.
  • Toshiba OCZ TR200 480GB SSD on APH Networks.

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well, the rumors are true, the New York Giants yesterday cleaned house, firing Head Coach Ben McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese. I'm already on record as being in favor of this move, so I'm as happy as a fan of a 2-10 team can be. Reese has consistently failed to get value out of the middle rounds or address their glaring weakness on the offensive line over the past few seasons, and McAdoo has demonstrated an inability to lead the team effectively, nor has he shown the flexibility needed to deal with the fluid nature of the problems encountered by a head coach. I hope this opens a new chapter of greatness for the team, but for now I'll just remain grateful that this chapter is now closed.

Housecleaning Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Burning Wheels Backyard.
Short Life.
Links: The One That Started It All: Remembering “Dr. No” on its 55th Anniversary.
This high-tech suicide pod offers a quick, painless death and a built-in casket. Grim efficiency.
Story: Quentin Tarantino developing 'Star Trek' movie with J.J. Abrams. You know what they call a Tribble in France?
Science: The Greatest Leap, Part 1- How the Apollo fire propelled NASA to the Moon.
Media: Dramatic Rescue of a Fallen Big Wave Surfer. Truly spine tingling.
Mom tries a VR headset at the dogs expense.
Star Wars with Cats.

Monday, Dec 04, 2017

Get World in Conflict Free and Free Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Plans

UbiBlog announces that RTS World in Conflict and its Soviet Assault DLC is available for free for a limited time for the next week. This page is where to head to get started with this. And that's not all, as they announce this will be followed by a giveaway of Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag, the seafaring installment in the assassination series. Here's the plan:

Just in time for the holiday season, Ubisoft is celebrating two big anniversaries by giving players the chance to download Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and World in Conflict on Uplay PC for free. It’s been ten years since the release of critically acclaimed real-time strategy game World in Conflict, so from December 4 (9AM PST) through on December 11 (2AM PST), you’ll be able to download World in Conflict and its expansion (Soviet Assault) for free. Then, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the first Assassin’s Creed game, you’ll be able to get Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag for free from December 12 (6AM PST) through December 18 (2AM PST). As long as you download the games through Uplay during their free periods, they will be yours to keep and play whenever you like.

Developed by Ubisoft Massive, World in Conflict is an RTS set in an alternative history in which the Soviet Union invades the United States in the late 1980s. You play the role of an American commander tasked with marshaling air and ground units in skirmishes ranging across the U.S. (and into the U.S.S.R. in the Soviet Assault expansion). Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your armies, then leverage them as you wage war on destructible battlefields in the solo campaign or in online multiplayer.

In Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, you are Edward Kenway, a pirate out to make a name for himself on the tumultuous Caribbean seas by sailing your ship among the isles in search of plunder, attacking enemy vessels, and diving below the waves for lost treasures. Become embroiled in the conflicts of the era and discover your connection to the series’ age-old struggle between the Assassins and the Templars.

Mega Man 11 and Mega Man X Series Coming to PC Next Year

CapCom Unity announces Mega Man 11 is coming next year, saying the platformer sequel will come to PC as well as Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. They pile onto this news with word that they will also bring all eight games in the Mega Man X series to those same platforms during the summer of 2018. Word is: "It’s been nearly 30 years since Rock, Dr. Light’s robot lab assistant, first volunteered to be converted into a fighting robot and our hero’s place was cemented as a legendary video game icon, influencing and inspiring the action-platformer genre for years to come. Today we’re pleased to introduce you to an all-new chapter to the series’ storied history. Mega Man 11 brings a fresh new design and incredible 2.5D visuals to the classic series, leaping into the modern era of gaming with beautiful 3D-modeled characters and hand-drawn environments. Everything you know and love about the Blue Bomber and much more is here in a brand-new style! With an expert development team at Capcom, many of whom have been working at the company since the early 8-bit era, we’re revitalizing and revolutionizing Mega Man for a new generation while keeping the series’ tight classic gameplay and the heart of our beloved hero intact. Veterans can expect the series’ signature challenge, and we’re inviting new players to the mix with a variety of difficulty options to choose from in the game." They celebrate the news with a new Mega Man 11 - 30th Anniversary Trailer showing the series through the years. Here are more details on the plan:

I hope this news comes as a pleasant surprise and we thank you for your patience! We’ll have much more to share with you all on Mega Man 11 in Summer of 2018! Speaking of Summer, we also announced that we’re bringing all eight games from the Mega Man X series to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in Summer 2018! Set in the far-off future of 21XX, fans of this more mature take on the classic formula will have plenty of reason to rejoice when the wall-jumping, armor-wearing, Maverick hunting X makes his debut on modern consoles with Zero and Axl in tow. We’ll have more to share on this in the coming months.

Finally, with the announcement of a new numbered entry, now is a great time to revisit all of the Blue Bomber’s classic adventures! We’ve heard your requests, and Mega Man Legacy Collection, which includes 1-6 and Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, featuring 7-10 are coming to Nintendo Switch – play on the go, at home, or everywhere in between in preparation for Mega Man 11! We’re adding a Rewind feature to the first Mega Man Legacy Collection which will help you turn back the clock if you make a mistake or just need a moment to recover in the challenging 8-bit originals. These collections of retro classics will be out in Spring of 2018. Existing owners of the first collection featuring the original 8-bit entries can look forward to the Rewind feature rolling out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC in Spring of 2018 as well.

It’s an incredible time to be a Mega Man fan, and the 30th anniversary festivities are only just beginning with today’s announcements! There’s been a lot of great news today, so to recap:

  • Mega Man 11, a brand new game in the legendary series, will be out in late 2018 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs.
  • All 8 Mega Man X games will also be coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PCs in Summer 2018
  • Mega Man Legacy Collection and Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 will be coming to Nintendo Switch in Spring 2018.

Continue here to read the full story.

The Division Patch Tomorrow, Free Weekend Starts Thursday

Word on UbiBlog is to expect a new patch for The Division tomorrow to update the open-world shooter to version 1.8. They also announce plans for a free trial weekend for the game that will run from December 7-10. This trailer promotes the free trial, while this one covers the patch, which is also discussed in further detail in this post. Here are all the details:

The Division’s free Update 1.8, codenamed Resistance, launches tomorrow on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, bringing a raft of additions and changes to the battle for post-pandemic Manhattan. The most immediately noticeable is a whole new area of the map, West Side Pier, which also hosts two new game modes: Resistance and Skirmish.

In Resistance, up to four Agents can team up to fight off Manhattan’s enemy factions, who have united to take down The Division with waves of attackers. Using cooperative tactics is strongly encouraged, as is using the resources dropped by enemies to set up defenses or extend the battlefield. The longer you can survive, the greater the rewards you’ll earn. The PVP Skirmish mode, meanwhile, pits two teams of four agents against each other in a competition to get the highest kill count in timed matches. And it’s not enough to just “down” an enemy player – you have to eliminate them to make it count.

Update 1.8 also lets players upgrade their favorite Gear, ratchets up the challenge and rewards of the Underground DLC, and overhauls how players go Rogue in the Dark Zone. Division Agents can also meet up and gear up in a new social space, Camp Clinton. To celebrate Update 1.8’s release, all of The Division’s paid DLC expansions – Underground, Survival, and Last Stand – will be freely accessible to all players from December 5 through December 10. And if you haven’t yet tried The Division, you’ll be able to play the full game and its DLC at no cost during the free weekend, which runs from December 7-10. Additionally, The Division will be on sale for 70% off from December 5-10 on the Ubisoft Store and from December 7-10 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One. Both free events will be available on all platforms, and any progress you make will carry over if you decide to buy the full game or its DLC afterward.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Bossa Studios Making AI Push

Bossa Studios announces their plans to emphasize artificial intelligence going forward, and the U.K.-based developer says they are currently hiring to make this happen. This video shows a recent talk on the topic given in London by Bossa's Chet Faliszek who is said to be spearheading this initiative, which is interesting, as his high-profile position with former employer Valve Corporation was as a writer, not a programmer, not to mention that Bossa's previous titles Worlds Adrift, I Am Bread, and Surgeon Simulator are not the most AI-heavy games you will find. In the video Faliszek talks about AI's potential to change player interaction with virtual worlds, saying, "We can use AI not only to add to games, but to fundamentally change the way we tell stories." Here's more:

“We can use AI not only to add to games, but to fundamentally change the way we tell stories,” Faliszek tells his audience. Bossa Studios is keen to close the division that exists between the player and the characters they play in games. They intend to “resolve the dissonance” between these two perspectives, by using AI to power dynamic narratives that go beyond conventional methods.

This new project is illustrative of the acclaimed studio’s continued pursuit of the latest technologies to create innovative and memorable experiences.

Sylvain Cornillon, CTO at Bossa Studios, explains the motivations behind this project: “We are looking at AI as a means to create bigger games, allowing the players to experience deeper, more meaningful stories tailored to them.”

Bossa Studios is currently recruiting and assembling a talented team to support their ambitions, to make this bold AI vision a reality for players. Visit the studio’s official website for the latest openings.

More information on the project will be revealed in 2018. In the meantime, follow Bossa Studios for the latest news on its range of singularly special games on Facebook and Twitter.

Continue here to read the full story.

A.O.T. 2 in March

KOEI TECMO Europe announces a March 20, 2018 release date for A.O.T. 2, the upcoming action game sequel based on the Attack on Titan anime series. They celebrate the news with a new story trailer, and the announcement includes further details on what to expect:

Today KOEI TECMO Europe proudly revealed that A.O.T. 2 will be released on the 20th March 2018 for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, Nintendo Switch™, and digitally on Windows PC via Steam®!

To celebrate the news KOEI TECMO Europe shared an action-packed new trailer, giving a taste of the thrilling narrative players can come to expect from A.O.T. 2. In addition, they have unveiled new details on additional playable characters: Hitch Dreyse, Marlo Freudenberg, Mina Carolina, Nile Dawk, Thomas Wagner, Annie Leonhart, Bertholdt Hoover, Reiner Braun, the Armored Titan, the Colossal Titan, the Female Titan and a yet to be revealed Mystery Titan.

Players will be able to create their own custom Scout in A.O.T 2, an all-new addition to the series, offering a fresh perspective on the events of both seasons of the worldwide anime hit, ‘Attack on Titan’. With enhanced Titan movements, Scouts will have to strategically use a plethora of new abilities in order to survive; from evade-style attacks like the hook drive ability, to long-rage sneak attacks – carefully strategised with the help of the new monocular tool!

Additional RPG elements have been implemented into A.O.T. 2’s Town Life segments; allowing players to build relationships with their favourite characters from the Attack on Titan universe to gain a deeper understanding of their comrades.

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Government Simulator Released

Steam now offers the release of Government Simulator for Windows, a chance to go behind the political scene and see how the sausage is made. The Government Simulator website has details on the game and this trailer showing off gameplay that seems to borrow from Excel, everyone's favorite video game, featuring graphs, pie charts, and other action packed elements. Word is: "In this economic and political simulation game, you can take control of a whole country, like the USA, Germany, France, Russia, Switerland [sic], or Austria. Change laws, taxes and budgets based on real world statistics and data, and see what happens." Here's more on the game, and its use of real-world data:

In the game, you can for example:

  • Turn the USA into a social paradise or even a dictatorship
  • Start a war with Mexico
  • Make Russia a capitalist utopia
  • Turn Germany into a third world country
  • Experiment with universal basic income
  • Introduce a cash ban, nuclear phase-out, or diesel ban
  • and much more

The game simulates a whole country: Population, debt, GDP, economic growth, unempolyment, crime, life expectancy, birth rate, mortality rate, state of the infrastructure and so on. The player can adjust budgets, taxes, laws, and see what the outcome is.

The game is running on real-world data. Meaning everything is based on real values: If you play as the USA, the debt, income, expenditures, crime rate, unemployment rate, etc. you start with is based on the actual, real values of the USA. For example if you lower a tax rate, you'll see what the simulation calculates as new values afterwards, in dollars, people, crimes per 100.000, interest rate, life expectancy in years, and similar.

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Orochi Park Demo

Want more politics? Steam now offers a playable demo for Orochi Park, even though this adventure game is not due for full release for another year. This is an interactive story they call "the most advanced Twine game ever made." Twine supports Windows, macOS, and Linux, but platforms are not listed on the page. Orochi Park parodies games, pop culture, and global politics, featuring familiar game characters, as well as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, so expect some satirical politics along the way. This was started as a fan-created tribute to The Secret World, but somewhere along the way evolved into a planned commercial release. This trailer shows things off, and here's word on the demo:

In the new demo, released today via Steam, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un find themselves teaming up to fight a greater evil. Funcom writer and game director Joel Bylos makes a cameo.

The demo is an early one - the game is far from finished - but creator Anima Chambers hopes this will give people a taste of what's to come, as well as the opportunity for valuable feedback.

"Welcome To Orochi Park has been a labour of love for years now, and I'm delighted to finally reveal what I've been working on," said Chambers. "The full game won't be released for some time yet, but the demo should give people a sense of what the game is all about."

Chambers added: "The Secret World community have been really supportive so far, which is great for something that began its life as a fan project. I'm very grateful for my core fanbase of The Secret World players."

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U.K. Sales Charts

GFK Chart-Track announces Call of Duty: WWII has spent five consecutive weeks on the all-platforms chart of bestselling games in the U.K. for last week. DOOM VFR is the top new entry on their PC games top 30, where Football Manager 2018 maintains a toehold on the top spot. Here's the PC top 10, which does not include Star Wars Battlefront II, which drops to number 11 this week:

LW TW Title Developer Label Publisher
1 - 1 FOOTBALL MANAGER 2018 SPORTS INTERACTIVE SEGA SEGA
2 - 2 THE SIMS 4 THE SIMS STUDIO EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS
3 - 3 THE SIMS 4: CATS & DOGS THE SIMS STUDIO EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS
4 - 4 OVERWATCH GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT BLIZZARD ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
- * 5 DOOM VFR ID SOFTWARE BETHESDA SOFTWORKS BETHESDA SOFTWORKS
5 ˅ 6 CALL OF DUTY: WWII SLEDGEHAMMER GAMES ACTIVISION ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
9 ˄ 7 THE SIMS 4 CITY LIVING THE SIMS STUDIO EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS
6 ˅ 8 WOLFENSTEIN II: THE NEW COLOSSUS MACHINEGAMES BETHESDA SOFTWORKS BETHESDA SOFTWORKS
8 ˅ 9 THE SIMS 4 GET TO WORK THE SIMS STUDIO EA GAMES ELECTRONIC ARTS
10 - 10 DOOM ID SOFTWARE BETHESDA SOFTWORKS BETHESDA SOFTWORKS

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Somewhere along the way MrsBlue has become a Star Wars fan. This was completely unexpected by me, because she was indifferent just a few years ago, but her work on children's books on the series forced her to watch the first two trilogies, and drew her in. We usually don't go to the movies, but we did make it out to see both The Force Awakens and Rogue One, which shows how far this goes. And before I even got to ask about The Last Jedi, she asked me if we had tickets yet after seeing a commercial for it. So I hit Fandango and now we are set for a week from Thursday, hopeful that going to the first show will help avoid spoilers. There's no way I could have influenced this to happen myself, so I just have to thank the fates for working it all out for me. Or perhaps it was not the fates, but The Force?

Forceful Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Cow Defender.
Stickman Shooter.
Links: Artist Creates Cuphead Tribute With More Than 22,000 Dominoes.
Story: "John Wick Chapter 3" Begins Pre-Production.
Science: How will humanity react to alien life- Psychologists have some predictions.
Media: Vox: How Technicolor changed movies.
James "Bubba" Stewart is the fastest man ever to ride.
The Last Jedi: Lightsaber Training Featurette (possible spoilers).



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