Archived News:

Friday, Apr 27, 2018 Arbor Day (USA) - King's Day (Netherlands)

Get F1 2015 for Free

Steam News announces a weekend sale on F1 2017 that can get you the road racing simulation for 70% off its regular price. But there's an even bigger discount to be had for F1 2015, as this early game in the series is completely free to add to your Steam account until 3:00 pm EDT tomorrow. Here's part of the description of F1 2015:
Race like a champion in F1 2015 - get closer than ever before to the experience of racing in the world’s most glamorous, exciting and prestigious motorsport. F1 2015 puts you in the heart of the action with a stunning new game engine that recreates the blisteringly fast and highly responsive racing cars of FORMULA ONE™ and features all-new ‘broadcast presentation’ that immerses you in the unique race day atmosphere. F1 2015 is the official videogame of the 2015 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™ and also features fully playable 2014 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™ bonus content. Compete as your favourite FORMULA ONE star in the new Championship Season and push yourself to the limit in the challenging Pro Season mode. Hone your skills in the new Online Practice Session, and then challenge your friends and racing rivals from across the world in Online Multiplayer.

Call to Arms Issues a Call to Arms

Digitalmindsoft announces Call to Arms is now officially available for Windows on Steam, as this military action/strategy game graduates after almost three years of Early Access development. This post (oddly dated a couple of weeks ago) celebrates the news with a lengthy, detailed explanation of how the game has evolved. This also has a roadmap that unravels the complexity of their business model that includes a Free Version, a Basic Edition, a Deluxe Edition, and an Ultimate Edition. This post has word on the game:
Call to Arms offers an innovative mix of real-time strategy and 3rd, as well as 1st person controls. Set in the time of modern warfare, the game offers realistically modeled vehicles and heavy weaponry, as well as dozens of firearms and customizations. Command your troops to victory or fight by yourself in the 3rd or 1st person action mode.

PUBG Cheat Program Arrests

A post from PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS on Steam updates us on efforts to combat cheating in the Battle Royale game, including word that 15 people are now behind bars for allegedly creating programs to help cheaters succeed. Here's a bit:
We’ve upgraded our security measures, improved our anti-cheat solutions, and recently even added a new anti-cheat solution on top of all that. In the meantime, we’ve also been continuously gathering information on hack developers (and sellers) and have been working extensively with multiple partners and judicial authorities to bring these people to justice.

Earlier this month, on April 25th, 15 suspects were arrested for developing and selling hacking/cheating programs that affect PUBG. It was confirmed that malicious code, including Trojan horse software, was included in some of these programs and was used to steal user information.

Here’s some translated information from the local authorities we worked with on this case:

"15 major suspects including “OMG”, “FL”, “火狐”, “须弥” and “炎黄” were arrested for developing hack programs, hosting marketplaces for hack programs, and brokering transactions. Currently the suspects have been fined approximately 30mil RNB ($5.1mil USD). Other suspects related to this case are still being investigated.

Some hack programs that are being distributed through the internet includes a Heybox(小黑盒) Trojan horse*(Chinese backdoor) virus. It was proven that hack developers used this virus to control users’ PC, scan their data, and extract information illegally.”

The longstanding rumor that hacking/cheating programs extract information from users’ PCs has been confirmed to be true. Using illegal programs not only disrupts others, but can end up with you handing over your personal information.

We’ll continue to crack down on hacking/cheating programs (and their creators) until our players are free to battle it out in a totally fair environment.

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet: Ambush of the Imposters Released

Ambush of the Imposters is now available on Steam, offering the new DLC for the Windows edition of Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet. The DLC, which is also available for consoles, adds a brand-new story arc and more to the action/RPG. This trailer offers a look, and the announcement has more:
The first DLC Ambush Of The Imposters for SWORD ART ONLINE: FATAL BULLET is now available on the PlayStation 4 system, Xbox One, and PC Digital via STEAM. The DLC features a brand-new story arc with a new dungeon and boss battle. In addition, the Ambush of The Imposters also includes:

  • New playable characters: Dyne, Yamikaze and Musketeer X.
  • New game mode Bullet of Bullets: With their customized characters, players can fight Kirito and other characters in this new offline mode.
  • 4vs4 Deathmatch Multiplayer Mode (available in Hero Battle and Avatar Battle): Players can now fight in teams of four against each other without a boss enemy.

Continue here to read the full story.

Solo Goes It Alone

Solo is now available on Steam, offering a puzzle game for Windows that's picked up a handful of honors during its prerelease demonstrations at a game shows. This trailer shows off the game's serene vibe that inspires Team Gotham to call it an "introspective puzzle adventure." The description of the game shows its emotions:
Solo is an introspective puzzler set on a gorgeous and surreal archipelago. Reflect on your loving relationships by exploring contemplative, dream-like islands.

Solo is a game about love. About love as fuel, the force that drives us.

It is a universal feeling, but each of us experiences it in a different way. Individually, it holds different meanings depending on a variety of factors such as culture, gender, sexuality or traumas. That's why Solo will explore this theme in an introspective way, to have the players identify and reflect on their own experiences.
Continue here to read the full story.

Daybreak Layoffs Amid Questions About Russian Oligarch Ties

A post on Massively Overpowered explores the fascinating situation surrounding developer and publisher Daybreak Games, which was formerly Sony Online Entertainment before being sold off. They note that the company that bought SOE back in 2015 was identified as Columbus Nova, as reported here at the time. Columbus Nova is apparently owned by Viktor Vekselberg, one of the Russian oligarchs whose assets were frozen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for destabilizing activities, including possible interference in U.S. elections. Daybreak issued a statement to the site saying that this is fake news, claiming Columbus Nova is not actually their owner, asking us to believe their own press releases saying this was the case were in error. They claim the actual purchaser was Jason Epstein, a former senior managing partner of Columbus Nova. This seems like a stretch, and MassiveOP notes some Wikipedia shenanigans to try and scrub the company's history. The latest twist comes as VG247 reports layoffs at Daybreak, which the company has confirmed, calling them "workforce realigning." Workforces get realigned in this business all the time, but the layoffs also make sense in light of the theory that Daybreak's real owner has had his U.S. assets frozen. It bears noting that Columbus Nova was also named as the purchaser of Rock Band developer Harmonix back in 2010.

Blizzard's Announced Competitive PvP Shooter

Blizzard Careers seeks a Principal Game Designer for an "Unannounced Project" they are developing (thanks PCGamesN). The listing indicates this will be a competitive first-person shooter with a PvP focus. Here are the details:
Blizzard Entertainment is looking for a talented and experienced Senior or Principal Designer with experience in developing weapons, abilities, and gameplay systems in action or first-person shooter games. As a Senior or Principal Designer, you’ll work with numerous departments to shape the core gameplay experience for this unannounced project by defining the abilities, powers, and weapons our players will use.

The ideal candidate will design and implement great game experiences while helping to foster a creative and energetic environment. You have proven experience in game design, a strong aptitude for critical thinking and analysis, outstanding people skills, boundless creativity, and extensive knowledge and passion for competitive first-person shooter games.

Responsibilities

  • Work with team leadership to design units, weapons, and abilities
  • Implement units, weapons, and abilities using a proprietary design tool
  • Work with team leadership to set direction for game modes, level design, and game systems
  • Grow and mentor other designers
  • Work closely with the art, level design, and engineering teams to ensure the highest quality player experience
  • Act as a player advocate to ensure the highest level of usability, playability, and visual excitement

Requirements

  • A minimum of five years of experience in the video game industry
  • Designed, developed, and shipped major game systems in a AAA game
  • Able to develop and champion a strong design vision for abilities and weapons, from concept to completion
  • Technical experience building gameplay experiences using game tools
  • Outstanding self-motivation and initiative
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Able to work creatively in a demanding team environment
  • Absolute passion for playing and creating PvP game experiences

Pluses

  • Prior experience as a lead
  • Experience with current competitive action or shooter games
  • Experience with technical design tools

Quake Champions Patch and F2P Testing

The Quake Champions Website announces the launch of the April update for id Software's multiplayer first-person shooter. Word is: "Get ready friends and fraggers: Quake Champions’ April update is here! This update brings a host of refinements to the game, including additional content in the form of a new playable Champion, map and weapon!" This Strogg & Peeker Tutorial trailer offers a look at what's new, and the post fills in further details. They also announce plans to test the upcoming free-to-play update for the game by giving away some Steam keys and offering more outlook on the game's F2P future:
Starting this weekend, Bethesda is looking for FPS fans to help test Quake Champions’ upcoming Free-to-Play Early Access version. Starting Friday, a limited number of early Free-to-Play keys on Steam will be given away by PC Gamer and MMOPRG. Players who want to be among the first in the world to play Quake Champions for free can visit those sites to grab a code and jump right in through Steam immediately. These keys will allow permanent access to Quake Champions’ free-to-play mode.

The Free-to-Play Early Access version of Quake Champions includes all maps and modes, along with one starter Champion, Ranger. Additional Champions are available for purchase or can be earned through playing the game, or players can upgrade to a paid version at any time. The final full release of Free-to-Play mode is scheduled for later this year. Now is the time for players to get a jump on the competition, hone their competitive skills, and customize their favorite Champion.
Continue here to read the full story.

Steam AU Consumer Notice

Having lost an appeal over a $3M AUD fine over Steam's refund policy, Valve has posted a new Australian Consumer Rights Notice noticed by TechRadar even though we can't see any links to the post on Steam. Here's a bit:
On 24 March 2016, the Federal Court of Australia found that Valve Corporation had engaged in misleading conduct contrary to the Australian Consumer Law in representing to Australian consumers via the Steam Subscriber Agreement and Steam Refund Policy that consumers had no entitlement to a refund in any circumstances and that Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees of acceptable quality. A link to the Federal Court judgment appears here:

http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2016/2016fca0196

When you buy video games from Valve Corporation as a consumer located in Australia, the video games come with guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law that cannot be excluded, including a guarantee that the video games are of acceptable quality. You are entitled to a replacement or refund from the retail supplier of the video games for a major failure and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the video games repaired or replaced by the retail supplier of the video games if the video games fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure. Certain other rights are available directly against manufacturers that cannot be excluded or limited.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Trailer; Preorders

Square Enix, Eidos-Montréal, and Crystal Dynamics offer a new trailer from Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the upcoming installment in the Tomb Raider series. They confirm the game's September 14th release date, and announce preorders are now underway, saying these permit 48 hours of early access for those who preorder the Digital Deluxe, Croft Edition, or Ultimate Edition. They say we should expect to see previews after a press event last night, and note that a free event is being held for the game today in New York City at 4:00 pm EDT:
Last night, Square Enix welcomed fans, community leaders, press, and industry influencers to events in Montreal, London, and Los Angeles so they could experience Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider. Now, a wealth of information, screenshots, and more is now available at TombRaider.com.

Fans in the New York City area will be able to enjoy a Special Preview of Shadow of the Tomb Raider at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival on Friday, April 27. This free event will start at 4 p.m. EST, and will take place inside of the BMCC Theater at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Join the creative team as they discuss the evolution of Lara Croft and share in the techniques, tools and inspiration behind the series. Panel attendees will be able to witness an exclusive extended gameplay demo for the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider game.
Continue here to read the full story.

Cartoon Strike Announced

Developer Gametoria announces Cartoon Strike, an upcoming cartoony multiplayer shooter where each map is based on another game, jumping around between settings at will. This is planned for release by the end of June, but they say an open beta should be running by the end of the month on Steam. You can see this in action in the reveal trailer, and you can read on for further details:
In the multiplayer game Cartoon Strike, each map is inspired by a popular game. The players can enjoy a few minutes of fighting in the WWII, followed by a few minutes in the past or future. Aside from the default game modes, players can experience the well-known Battle Royale mode.

Early Access version offers you 7 maps:

  • Tounine – WWII with Germans and British forces
  • Castle Gate – a medieval map with Knights fighting Vikings
  • Dirt 2 – a map from the present with security forces battling ISIS
  • Planet Khione – a snowy map from the future
  • Cartoonfield - a military conflict from the present
  • Stream Houses – a war of streamers
  • Royale Island – a dangerous island with a Battle Royale mode

And also 4 game modes:

  • Team Deathmatch
  • Free for all
  • Arms Race
  • Battle Royale

Continue here to read the full story.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • Apexgaming AG-850M PSU on TechPowerUp.
  • ASUS STRIX H370-I GAMING (Intel H370) Motherboard on TweakTown.
  • Corsair Dark Core RGB SE + MM1000 Qi Mouse on ocaholic.
  • GIGABYTE X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WIFI Motherboard on TweakTown.
  • Roccat Horde AIMO RGB Gaming Keyboard on Benchmark Reviews.
  • Tt eSPORTS NEMESIS Switch Optical RGB Gaming Mouse on Nikk Tech.

Out of the Blue

Our maintenance hit a "hiccup" as Frans described it, but everything seems to be straightened out now. This also kept me from being able to update the site for a while after we came back online, but we're all caught up now. Thanks to Frans for his excellent work, and apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced by the downtime.

The quote of the night from the draft last night was from defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who was eventually drafted by the Jaguars. When asked on the red carpet what he was going to do with is first big NFL paycheck, he said: "Buy a new gaming PC." My kind of guy. And so the Saquon Barkley era begins for the Giants. I had different ideas of how the team could maximize their value from the second overall pick, but it's easy to like Barkley. And that was before I noticed the scouting report on the NFL website listing his NFL comparison is Barry Sanders, which is a staggering level of praise.

There's more to celebrate in the BlueTower today than the draft and the new Avengers movie, as it's our wedding anniversary. That's right, MrsBlue and I were married 22 years ago today. We planned on going to dinner tonight, but now my better half has a bee in her bonnet about seeing the Avengers, so we may end up making a movie night of it, and have our dinner plans tomorrow. Either way I'll probably wrap things up pretty early here this evening.

Celebratory Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Abba Reunite, Announce Two New Songs. Take a chance, take a chance...
Fox Plans "Choose Your Own Adventure" Films.
Science: Autism may be more common than previously thought; CDC says.
Media: STRANGER THINGS IN UNREAL ENGINE 4 - IT IS TIME.
That escalated quickly.
True Facts- Frog Fish.
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