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Thursday, Feb 15, 2018


Rainbow Six Siege Free Weekend Underway

Steam News announces the promised free weekend is now underway for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. The game is also on sale for those who enjoy their sample. Here's word on the game:

Master the art of destruction and gadgetry in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. Face intense close quarters combat, high lethality, tactical decision making, team play and explosive action within every moment. Experience a new era of fierce firefights and expert strategy born from the rich legacy of past Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six games.

Engage in a brand-new style of assault using an unrivaled level of destruction and gadgetry.
On defense, coordinate with your team to transform your environments into strongholds. Trap, fortify and create defensive systems to prevent being breached by the enemy.
On attack, lead your team through narrow corridors, barricaded doorways and reinforced walls. Combine tactical maps, observation drones, rappelling and more to plan, attack and defuse every situation.

Choose from dozens of highly trained, Special Forces operators from around the world. Deploy the latest technology to track enemy movement. Shatter walls to open new lines of fire. Breach ceilings and floors to create new access points. Employ every weapon and gadget from your deadly arsenal to locate, manipulate and destroy your enemies and the environment around them.

Experience new strategies and tactics as Rainbow Six Siege evolves over time. Change the rules of Siege with every update that includes new operators, weapons, gadgets and maps. Evolve alongside the ever-changing landscape with your friends and become the most experienced and dangerous operators out there.

Compete against others from around the world in ranked match play. Grab your best squad and join the competitive community in weekly tournaments or watch the best professional teams battle it out in the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League.

Steam Wishlist Changes and Lunar New Year Sale

Valve announces a Steam Lunar New Year Sale is now underway, offering discounts on thousands of games to celebrate the year of the dog. They also announce changes to how Steam Wishlists operate they've rolled out today. They describe the following as the key pieces they've added so far:

  • Steam has long shown the discount and price for items on your Wishlist, but there hasn’t been a way of sorting or filtering based on discounts. This can be frustrating when trying to find items during a large Steam sale or to finding purchases at particular prices. Now you can filter items shown on your Wishlist by levels of discount like 50% off or 75% off. You can also filter by various tiers of price, or filter to only see items you can buy with your current Steam Wallet balance.
  • We’ve also heard a lot of requests for the ability to filter your Wishlist by tags or genres to help find games when you’re in the mood for a strategy game or an RPG. So now Steam displays the top-ranked tags for each item on your Wishlist. Clicking any of those tags will filter your Wishlist to just other titles with that same tag applied. This makes it easy to find the best co-op games on your Wishlist, or quickly find a discounted horror game.
  • Many players have reported that they find a promising game currently in Early Access that they want to keep track of, but aren’t interested in buying until the game has transitioned to full release. Now your Wishlist will reflect if a game is currently in Early Access, and we’ve added a filter option to hide those games until they have transitioned from Early Access to full release.
  • Players frequently add unreleased games to their Wishlist, which is a helpful way to express interest in an upcoming release and be notified when the game releases. But between now and that title’s release, it isn’t always helpful to see those unreleased selections when you’re shopping for something to play now. So we added the release date to each Wishlist item along with a filter option to hide unreleased games until they become available.

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn This Spring

Saber Interactive announces they're partnering with publisher Wired Productions to release Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn this spring. They celebrate the news with a new trailer celebrating how much the original game sucked and how the new game doesn't. This comes with details about the game's release for Windows and consoles, including special offers for owners of NBA Playgrounds on Nintendo Switch and the game's Indigogo backers:

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is an intense, action-packed beat ‘em up which sees players take on the role of the unstoppable Shaquille O’Neal as he fights his way through the hordes of hell and Hollywood. Master devastating combos, battle outlandish celebrity bosses and take on all comers with an array of weapons, including katanas, shuriken and baseball bats. Channel Shaq’s alter egos, Big Daddy O and Big Diesel, in epic battles in the successor to the worst game ever on a mission to restore Shaq’s legacy.

“We know diehard fans have been waiting eagerly to experience the hard-hitting action of this new take on Shaq Fu, and we’re excited to team up with Wired Productions to get the game physically into the hands of players this spring,” said Saber CEO Matt Karch.

Leo Zullo, Managing Director at Wired Productions, commented, “Shaq Fu has an incredible legacy in the history of video games, and we’re delighted to be part of the team shooting to earn Shaq his place in the future of video games.”

Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn will arrive globally at physical and digital retail this spring for the PlayStation®4 system, Xbox One, Windows PC and Nintendo Switch. This game is a co-production of Saber and Big Deez Productions and published in partnership with Wired Productions.

Anyone who purchased NBA Playgrounds on Nintendo Switch prior to June 10, 2017, will receive a free copy of Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn upon release. Saber will share more specifics regarding timing and delivery of rewards for the game’s Indiegogo backers directly via the game’s Indiegogo page.

Continue here to read the full story.

Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition Patch and Steam Beta

The Beamblog announces the release of a version 8159 patch for Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition and the launch of the promised Steam beta for headstart customers. Here's word on the patch, testing, and how to get a Steam key:

The next step towards the launch of Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is a beta on Steam. Over the next few weeks, we’d love to hear feedback from Steam = players on Friend Lists, Steam Workshop, stability, and about any translation errors.

To get access to the Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition Steam beta, pre-order NWN:EE on Find out more about how to get your Steam key here.

Community participation in the Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition Head Start program has been amazing! Your submitted bugs, feature discussions in the Beamdog forums, and participation with the input and roadmap Trello boards has really helped light the way. Keep on letting us know what features and fixes you want to see!

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

Evening Interviews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Final Trailer: "Ready Player One." Thanks Ant.

Senator Presses FTC and ESRB on Loot Boxes

Rolling Stone reports more scrutiny falling on the use of loot boxes in videogames, as U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board on the topic on the same day she raised it during a Senate committee meeting. The letter touches on the question of whether loot box sales represent a form of gambling, and asks the ESRB to direct some extra scrutiny toward this topic, suggesting that "at minimum" the rating system should identify a game's use of loot boxes. During a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Senator Hassan solicited reassurances from four Federal Trade Commission nominees that they feel gambling concerns make this an issue that bears investigation by the FTC, depending on the ESRB's response to the Senator's letter. This video shows the questions at the committee hearing, and Rolling Stone also has the letter of response from ESRB president Patricia Vance, saying, "As the industry evolves, so does our rating system, and we will continue to make enhancements to ensure parents continue to be well-informed." Here is a portion of the original letter Senator Hassan sent to the ESRB:

The prevalence of in-game micro-transactions, often referred to as ‘loot boxes,’ raises several concerns surrounding the use of psychological principles and enticing mechanics that closely mirror those often found in casinos and games of chance. The potential for harm is real. Recently the World Health Organization classified “gaming disorder” as a unique condition in its recent draft revision of the 11th International Classification of Diseases. While there is robust debate over whether loot boxes should be considered gambling, the fact that they are both expensive habits and use similar psychological principles suggest loot boxes should be treated with extra scrutiny. At minimum, the rating system should denote when loot boxes are utilized in physical copies of electronic games.

To that end, I respectfully urge the ESRB to review the completeness of the board’s ratings process and policies as they relate to loot boxes, and to take into account the potential harm these types of micro-transactions may have on children. I also urge the board to examine whether the design and marketing approach to loot boxes in games geared toward children is being conducted in an ethical and transparent way that adequately protects the developing minds of young children from predatory practices.

Further, I urge the ESRB to consider working with the relevant stakeholders – including parents – to collect and publish data on how developers are using loot boxes, how widespread their use is, and how much money players spend on them.

Finally, I ask that you develop best practices for developers, such as ethical design, tools for parents to disable these mechanisms, or making them less essential to core gameplay.

Sea of Thieves Scale Test This Weekend

Sea of Thieves Website announces a weekend Sea of Thieves Scale Test will get underway tomorrow. This will be available to all who had access to the recent closed beta test as well as all Xbox Insiders. They warn that this may be a disrupted experience, since dealing with issues is one of the things they are testing:

Scale Testing
Since the Closed Beta, our services team have been assessing their plans for launch to ensure the game stands up to the amount of interest we’re expecting to see. As a result of the Closed Beta, we are planning on running a couple of Scale Tests between now and launch, with the first of these beginning on Friday, February 16th at 10am GMT (2am PST) and ending on Sunday, February 18th at 10am GMT (2am PST).

The goal of this is to test a lot of the work we’ve done since the Closed Beta, and to try and hit a higher concurrent players number than we’ve ever seen before.

What to Expect
With this added scale we expect – and plan – to see issues, that we can learn from and address. Not only are we looking to hit scale, we will also purposefully be stressing our services by throttling performance at certain times, testing the game in different data centers around the world, and simulating deliberate outages.

Some examples of the issues we expect to see are:

  • Sessions being interrupted
  • An inability to join the game at certain times during the weekend
  • Issues when using shops in-game

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 Next Month

Fatshark announces a March 8th release date for Warhammer: Vermintide 2, offering a sequel to Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide. They announced this during a livestream on Twitch that you can still go back and watch, and they also plan another livestream this afternoon. The Windows melee action game is available for pre-purchase on Steam, and this carries two incentives, as preorder customers will receive a Vermentide 1 DLC pack and access to an exclusive pre-launch beta. "Being passionate fans of the Warhammer IP, we’ve always wanted to create a Warhammer sequel that both stayed true to the beautifully dark atmosphere of the world but also brought new ideas and experiences for players," says Martin Wahlund, CEO of Fatshark. "It's been years of work but on March 8th we look forward to joining forces with players everywhere to defend Helmgart from evil." Here's more on the game:

Vermintide 2 is a visually stunning and groundbreaking melee action game pushing the boundaries of the first person co-op genre. Set within the dark End Times, during the destruction of the World That Was, the game introduces the dark, bloody and twisted Chaos as a formidable and unrelenting enemy faction. Other new features include 15 hero careers, new environments, talent trees and the proprietary Heroic Deeds System.

Stardew Valley Multiplayer Progress

A new developer blog for Stardew Valley has a status report on the upcoming version 1.3 patch for Chucklefish's farming simulation (thanks PCGamesN). This update will add multiplayer support, and Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone explains the process for completing the update, saying he's hopeful it will enter beta testing in the spring:

As you may know, I’ve always worked solo on Stardew Valley. However, for this multiplayer update I’ve had the help of Tom Coxon (of Chucklefish). He’s done all the network coding to turn Stardew Valley into a multiplayer game… truly an impressive feat, and one that would not be possible without his talent. He deserves a lot of credit for this — Thank you Tom!

Now, here’s where we’re at:
Work on the new features is done, and we’ve sent all the new text off to be translated into the different languages. Meanwhile, we are working on bug fixes. Once we’ve received the translated text and integrated it back into the game, we’ll begin a serious QA phase involving thorough testing of all new features in both multiplayer and single player contexts. When that is finished, the update should be ready for a public beta. I am still shooting for a spring release for the beta.

When the beta gets closer to launch, I’ll fill you guys in on more specifics as to how multiplayer will work, as well as a more complete list of the new features in the update.

I’ll also be sure to let you guys know as soon as we’ve determined a more concrete timetable for release.

PUBG Plans to Reveal Plans

In one of those announcements of announcements everyone loves so much, a tweet from Sammie Kang has word from one of the developers of PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS realize they've fallen silent lately (thanks VG247). She says they've been spending early 2018 working on a roadmap for early 2018 that they will share soon:

Our dev team has been working on a dev roadmap for early 2018 in the past few weeks.

It's about time we update you on what's happening and where things are at. We will share this roadmap with you soon once we have finalized all the details.

Happy Valentine’s Day, btw.

Morning Consolidation

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Out of the Blue

Today would be my late dad's birthday. If you've noticed my strong affinity for corny humor, old jokes, and running gags, then you've seen some of my pop showing through in me. In honor of this set of enviable traits, I will share one of his favorite cans of corn, a limerick I've since learned was written by Dixon Lanier Merritt, who was born in the 19th century. So yeah, old jokes:

A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I'll be darned if I know how the hellican.

Corny Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: 3D City Racer 2.
Stories: Football coach reported dead after shielding students from Florida gunman. Words don't suffice.
Solar storm could strike Earth Thursday: What you need to know.
George R.R. Martin basically confirmed we won't see 'Winds of Winter' in 2018.
Science: Here's why it's so hard to make a better flu vaccine.
Ultra-processed foods 'linked to cancer.'
FDA approves first blood test that can help diagnose a concussion.
Graphene film makes dirty water drinkable in a single step.
Termite-hunting ants in sub-Saharan Africa heal each other’s wounds by licking them. Thanks RedEye9.
Media: DIY dot matrix pencil printer. Thanks Boing Boing.
How Overnight Shipping Works.
Perfect Pub Prank. NSFW.

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