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Wednesday, Jan 31, 2018

GDC Pulls Bushnell's Pioneer Award

A tweet from the Game Developer's Conference announces they have decided not to give out a Pioneer Award this year, following backlash to their choice of Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell based on allegations of sexist behavior. The tweet does not directly reference Bushnell, but does say their awards advisory committee believes "their picks should reflect the values of today's game industry and will dedicate this year's award to honor the pioneering and unheard voices of the past." Interestingly, there is no notice of this on the Game Developers Conference Website, and yesterday's announcement of the Ambassador, Pioneer, and Lifetime Achievement Award recipients has since been scrubbed of any mention whatsoever of Bushnell and the Pioneer Award. For his part, Bushnell responds with a tweet where he apologizes and expresses support for this action:
"I applaud the GDC for ensuring that their institution reflect what is right, specifically with regards to how people should be treated in the workplace. And if that means an award is the price I have to pay personally so the whole industry may be more aware and sensitive to these issues, I applaud that, too. If my personal actions or the actions of anyone who ever worked with me offended or caused pain to anyone at our companies, then I apologize without reservation.

Avernum 3: Ruined World Released

Spiderweb Software announces the release of Avernum 3: Ruined World, a concluding chapter in their long-running series of throwback role-playing games for Windows and macOS. This trailer from when the game was announced offers a look at gameplay, and the game cane be picked up from Spiderweb Software, GOG.com, Humble Store, and Steam. Here's word:
Spiderweb Software, Inc., makers of fine indie fantasy role-playing adventures for 24 years, announce the release of Avernum 3: Ruined World. A tale of desperate exiles and their battle for a land to call their own, Avernum 3 is an epic fantasy role-playing adventure for Windows and Macintosh, with a mobile version arriving Q1 2018.

At last, your people are free. You broke out of the underworld prison of Avernum. You emerge onto the surface, back into the sun at last, only to find that the world is being destroyed. Plagues of horrifying monsters scourge the surface. If you don’t stop them, you will have no home to escape to.

Avernum 3: Ruined World is the conclusion to the epic Avernum saga and a full remaster of Spiderweb Software’s greatest hit. It is an epic fantasy role-playing adventure in an enormous world, spanning an underworld and a gigantic surface continent. Fight the plagues of monsters that are destroying your home. Explore a world that evolves as time passes. Towns are destroyed. Refugees flee. Disasters happen.

Fight to save the world. Or don’t! Do odd jobs. Become a bounty hunter or a merchant. Buy a house. Explore a multitude of towns and dungeons. Master over 60 spells and battle disciplines and hunt for hundreds of magical artifacts. Explore one of the biggest, most unique worlds in computer games!
Continue here to read the full story.

David Brevik Announces It Lurks Below

Graybeard Games announces It Lurks Below, an RPG in the works at this studio founded by Diablo co-creator David Brevik. Word is this will be coming to Steam later this year, but closed beta testing is getting underway this week, offering the chance to see the game in action via live stream. Here's the plan to show things off starting Friday:
Two years after founding his one-man studio known as Graybeard Games, industry luminary David Brevik has returned, set to debut his first major release since 2013. Coming to Steam later this year, It Lurks Below combines Brevik’s love for the creative spirit behind such titles as Terraria and Minecraft with the revolutionary RPG mechanics he himself conceptualized for Diablo, all with a delightfully indie/retro aesthetic. Those curious to see exactly what lurks below can tune in to Twitch this weekend to view a closed beta comprised of 200 players experiencing the game for the first time—except for Brevik, of course, who has spent many months with the game and will also be streaming it.

The closed beta begins on Friday, Feb. 2, and ends Monday evening, Feb. 5. All participants are actively encouraged to stream the game via Twitch, and Brevik will be doing so himself at the following times from twitch.tv/graybeardgames :

  • Friday, Feb. 2: 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. PST
  • Saturday, Feb. 3: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Feb. 4 (it’s the biggest game to watch of the day!): 10 a.m. – Noon PST
  • Monday, Feb. 5: Noon – 2 p.m. PST

Brevik also promises to randomly surprise beta players who are checking out the game—there’s no telling where else you’ll see him pop up!

“Though I certainly had creative influence as CEO of Gazillion, I feel like I’m finally right back where I belong—actually getting my hands dirty and creating great games,” says Brevik, who moved on from his position as CEO of Gazillion Entertainment in 2015. “It’s humbling going from large teams making content based on huge properties like Marvel to a one-man team with a brand new idea no one has heard of yet—but I’m loving every minute of the process. It’s all very exciting…and a little bit scary, too. I’ve always been a huge proponent of community involvement in game creation, and I heartily welcome all feedback from players and Twitch-stream viewers—anything that can make It Lurks Below the best it can possibly be.”

Frontier Pilot Simulator Early Access

Steam now offers Early Access to Frontier Pilot Simulator, a new single-player, open-world flying adventure developer RAZAR calls the "first space trucker simulation." Here's a recent video showing things off, and here's word on what this is all about:
You have arrived on the new planet, with a human colony (seem like humans not alone here) to make some money. You buy a CargoShip and start your commercial pilot career. The planet you arrived is full of rocky mountains, geysers, volcanoes and unexpected weather changes. More you discover, more secrets stations, upgrades, and quests for your cargo ship, you get.

Most of us dreamed become an astronaut to explore new worlds, make a human colony or buy a truck and drive along the roads winding miles. Razar s.r.o. combine it and created cargo spaceship simulator with economic, futuristic and flight simulation elements.

What happens with the ship if you get into the storm? Would you be able to deliver fragile cargo to the base? Can you land your ship on the ocean drilling platform?
Continue here to read the full story.

Space Invaders Extreme Next Month

Degica Games announces Space Invaders Extreme for PC will come to Steam on February 12th. They still aren't committing to what OSes this will support, but they do offer a new trailer which does show off some gameplay. Here's more on what to expect:
The critically acclaimed update to the Space Invaders franchise is here to invade Steam. Learn the intricacies of the scoring system and use that knowledge to conquer the leaderboards. The invaders have evolved. Can you keep up?

  • Greatly improved graphics and audio
  • Interactive sound and synchronous visuals
  • Brand new World Ranking System
  • 16 stages brimming with devious invader attack patterns and bosses whose strategy adapts according to game difficulty
  • Practice individual stages then go up against your rivals score in Arcade Mode
  • Discover all the countless hidden bonuses
  • New tracks by Zuntata and Cosio

Welcome to the new invasion.

Continue here to read the full story.

Gigantic Closing

There's a "final update" on the Gigantic website announcing that this MOBA/shooter will be shutting down on July 31st (thanks DSOGaming). In November it was reported that Perfect World Entertainment had laid off most of developer Motiga, so this was not entirely unexpected. Here's word on how they will wind things down:
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the January Update is the final content update for Gigantic, and the game servers will be discontinued on July 31, 2018. The journey over these last few years was met with outstanding support from our players and we are all very proud of the incredible experience Gigantic is today. The team wants to give a big shout out to our awesome community - both those who have been with us since the beginning as well as those who just picked up the game recently. We want to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who gave Gigantic a chance.

For all the amazing folks who continue to play and show passion for Gigantic, all Heroes will be FREE as the purchasing of Rubies and Hero Packs have been disabled. This includes our newest hero, T-Mat! Currency will still be rewarded in-game, and any Crowns or Rubies gained by an account will remain available to purchase Shop items at discounted prices. You can read more in our January Update Notes.

Discontinuing Gigantic was not an easy decision. The game is a unique and exciting experience that captured many hearts and minds. Unfortunately, it did not resonate with as many players as we’d hoped. Over the last several months, the teams at Motiga and Perfect World looked into viable options to sustain Gigantic. However, the current state of the game has restricted options for further progress and relevant content updates, and delivering basic features while also fixing long-standing issues was more complicated than expected. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find an impactful solution that would help Gigantic break through in a crowded market.

Gigantic remains a labor of love to the Motiga and Perfect World teams who worked on the game. It pains us to let it go, and we cannot thank everyone enough who saw something special in Gigantic and its vision. We hope you continue to enjoy Gigantic until July 31st while the official servers remain online.

One last GIGANTIC thank you to our amazing community, and while the sails are up, we’ll see you on the airship!

League of Legends Champion Roadmap

A new Champion Roadmap for League of Legends has details on reworks coming to a few champions in Riot's MOBA. They kick things off with details on a new marksman that's in the works:
SUITING UP A NEW MARKSMAN
To start things off, let’s talk about a new champ we have in the works. Looking back at the last few marksmen released, we discovered something that’s been null from our roster for a long time: a super high-risk, high-reward marksman, in the vein of well… Vayne.

With that in mind, we locked onto a marksman that rewards players who aren’t afraid to hunt for the perfect opportunity, no matter where it takes them. This new champion’s best players will go deep into enemy territory and thrive, while the weak players will perish, never to be heard from again.

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

Respawn's Star Wars Expected in FY2020

During the conference call following yesterday's earnings announcement, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen was asked about plans for Star Wars Battlefront III. Rather than take the bait and discussing an unannounced installment in the series, he took the opportunity to say the Star Wars game in the works at Respawn Entertainment is currently expected during EA's fiscal year 2020. Looking to an actual calendar, this mean we can expect the game, which was announced in 2016, sometime between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. Thanks GameSpot.

Battlefield 1 Turning Tide North Sea Update

The Turning Tide North Sea update for Battlefield 1 is now available in the World War I shooter for premium pass owners (thanks MP1ST). This adds new maps, and a lengthy list of balance changes. Here's the introduction to the extensive patch notes:
The second wave of Battlefield 1 Turning Tides is here! Fight alongside the formidable German fleet or test your mettle among the British Royal Marines in dramatic naval clashes. Opposing armadas struggle to gain the upper hand to exhibit supremacy over the high seas.

Battlefield 1 Turning Tides – North Sea is bringing new maps, the fearsome C-Class Airship, and continued improvements to Battlefield 1. We hope you enjoy taking command of the sea, air, and land in the battles that turned the tides of war. Available to Battlefield 1 Premium Pass owners* and owners of Battlefield 1 Turning Tides.

GDC Reconsidering Bushnell Award After Backlash

Rolling Stone's "Glixel" reports that the Game Developer's Conference is reconsidering plans to honor Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell with their Pioneer Award at the 2018 GDC Awards. This follows an outcry that's spawned a #NotNolan campaign, citing well-publicized stories of how the original Atari culture was a hotbed of drinking, drugs, hot tubs, and sexism (in other words, the 1970s). Concerns are being voiced that the timing of this award is especially inappropriate in light of the current focus on movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and a GDC spokesperson tells Glixel they are looking at the choice "more closely" in light of this.

Hacktag Next Month

Piece of Cake Studios announces a February 14th release date for Hacktag, as the Windows and macOS stealth game will us the cover of Valentine's Day to sneak out of early access on Steam. "We’ve been working night and day to get Hacktag ready to bring co-op stealth to PC players who like to play together," said Marine Lemaitre Freland, cofounder and CEO of Piece of Cake Studios. "Feedback from our community has been tremendous and we’ve added new modes and features to make the game even more fun while keeping its subversive nature front and center." The previously released early access launch trailer offers a look at the game, and here are more details
In Hacktag, the Agent moves physically through a corporate building level while the Hacker moves alongside electronically via network nodes. While the Agent avoids physical guards (watch out for those pandas!), the Hacker avoids anti-virus software moving through the network, with both players seeking to hack computers to steal the data required for mission success. While some tasks can be accomplished by either player, many tasks require the cooperation of both—for instance, opening a locked door requires the Hacker to electronically unlock it while the Agent physically opens it.
Continue here to read the full story.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

The Gunnar-man's digestion has been a little off lately, as our fantastic Poodle has been suffering a spate of what I'll call constarrhea (I thought I made that up until I typed it out and it was not flagged as a misspelling). I think he turned a corner last night, as I woke up to find a pretty substantial pile of pretty normal looking poop by the back door. Gunnar was quite perturbed, as he never has accidents (the incidents I've described of him peeing on the stove were all deliberate), but I reassured him he was not in trouble as I cleaned up the mess. Hopefully his gut is back on proper track now.

Poopy Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Fox Simulator 3D.
Link: How Goodyear Hid Evidence Of 'The Worst Tire Made In History' Linked To At Least 9 Deaths. Thanks ViperFour.
Stories: 'Emotional support peacock' barred from United Airlines plane.
Do ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies Cause a Rise in Speeding? Thanks j.c.f.
Poor unfortunate soul: Kids upset after Ursula loses head during Little Mermaid ride.
Science: A brain scan can reveal which people you're friends with.
Amateur Astronomer Finds NASA Satellite Long Given Up For Dead.
Why Dogs Have Floppy Ears. Thanks RedEye9.
Media: Persuade - Epic NPC Man.
THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! - GEOMETRY DASH (Adults React- Gaming).
These cops will pull you over for literally anything. Thanks ViperFour.
Follow-up: 20.8 Million Prescription Painkillers Sent to West Virginia Town With Population of 2,900.