Archived News:

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2018

Steam Chat Launches

Valve announces Steam Chat is out of beta and live for all Steam users, set to sow discord among the competition. This page outlines what's new and different, including the ability to carry on conversations in a web browser as well as the Steam client. This post has even more details, and says they plan on extending Steam Chat to mobile devices in the future:
Today we’ve made the new Steam chat features, which have been in beta since June 12th, available to all Steam users. The all-new friends list and chat system makes it easier to chat and play games with your Steam friends.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the beta! We'll continue to improve the new chat system based on your feedback and requests. We've already started working on making it easier to chat from anywhere with a new Steam chat mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.

Star Ruler 2 Goes Open Source

This community announcement on Steam has the news that Star Ruler 2 is now open source (thanks Frags of War), as Blind Melon Studios notes they are not doing anything with the source code since they went inactive following the 2015 release of the 4X strategy sequel (and, of course, their hit single No Rain). Here's word:
Hi everyone! It's been a few years now since Blind Mind Studios went inactive, so we figured if we're not doing anything with the code to SR2 we should just release it under an open source license.

If anyone is interested in seeing how the engine works, or tweaking whatever, the code for SR2's StarFlare engine is now fully available at https://github.com/BlindMindStudios/StarRuler2-Source

The repository includes build instructions for windows and linux, but no prebuilt binaries, this does mean everyone can play the game for free, but you will have to put in some extra effort to build it first.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew Launches Next Generation Expansion

Ubisoft announces your chance to make it so in Star Trek: Bridge Crew with the release of the Next Generation expansion for the virtual reality starship simulator. Here's a trailer along with word on what to expect, which sadly mentions neither Q, the Ferengi, nor Riker's beard:
Today, Ubisoft® announced that Star Trek™: Bridge Crew - The Next Generation expansion is now available on PC for VR players with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality support. The DLC is also available on PlayStation®VR and PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, including support for non-VR players on these platforms. The expansion is playable cross-platform across all devices and is available for the suggested retail price of $14.99.

Developed by Red Storm Entertainment, a Ubisoft Studio, under license by CBS Consumer Products, the Star Trek: The Next Generation expansion allows players to continue their voyage in the Star Trek universe as they crew the iconic Galaxy Class starship U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D.

The expansion introduces two new modes to Ongoing Voyages, Patrol and Resistance. Patrol mode provides players with opportunity to travel openly through space while experiencing unpredictable battles and objectives for endless hours of adventure. In Resistance mode, crews will complete a series of challenging objectives in preparation for a final showdown against the formidable Borg cube.

Additionally, the Star Trek: The Next Generation expansion introduces the new Operations command role. The Operations officer is tasked with assigning NPC crew members to certain stations throughout the ship to modify the ships’ capabilities, activating features like Shield Modulation, Precision Targeting and the ability to detect cloaked ships.
Continue here to read the full story.

Train Sim World Rolls Out

Dovetail Games announces the release of Train Sim World, with the Windows edition of the first-person railroad simulation available on Steam. "In Train Sim World, we put you in the shoes of a train driver so you can climb onboard, see the sights, hear the sounds and feel the immense power of trains under your command," explains Darren Potter, executive producer. "We’ve strived to deliver an authentic and highly detailed simulation across the PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC that will feel intuitive on every platform. Whether using a gamepad or keyboard and mouse, you’ll be able to feel the detail." You can get a look at the game in action in the launch trailer, and here's more:
Dovetail Games, the multi award-winning developer and publisher of simulation games, is pleased to announce that Train Sim World® is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation®4 and Windows PC.

Train Sim World is a train simulator that brings to life the experience of operating powerful and realistic trains on authentic replicas of some of the world’s most amazing railways. Choose how you want to play, taking control and mastering powerful locomotives, running-to-time, carrying out important tasks or riding along as a passenger and watching the world go by. Watch the action unfold and capture amazing screenshots, or go exploring to hunt down all the hidden collectables. Whatever you choose, there's lots to see and experience in Train Sim World.

Powered by Unreal Engine 4® technology and Dovetail Games’ proprietary SimuGraph® vehicle dynamics engine, underpinned with expert technical knowledge and real-world data, the performance, look and sound of each train have been accurately reproduced to feel just like the real thing.
Continue here to read the full story.

Pixel Game Maker MV Released

Steam now offers the release of Pixel Game Maker MV for Windows, the latest iteration of this software package that allows non-programmers to create their own games. Here's word on how this will help fight the shortage of pixel art games:
Pixel Game Maker MV – the latest entry in the Maker series – is now available on Steam Early Access!

Create action games with ease - no programming necessary
You can now create your very own full action games without the need for any programming whatsoever. Compatible with JavaScript extensions, anyone from total beginners to seasoned developers can enjoy game creation to the fullest.

Create endless fun with “Multi-Viewpoint/Multi-Versus”
Allows for both top- and side-based views, as well as cooperative or competitive local play between up to four players. Works with any genre, so the games you can create are limited only by your imagination!

A simple way to create rich and beautiful game graphics
Using the graphic import feature, physics engine, particle effects, and multiple layer combination, you can create your own ideal game in exactly the way you want to make it, easily and without all the hassle.

Semblance Released

Good Shepherd Entertainment now offers Semblance, and the Windows and macOS editions of the platformer are available through GOG.com and Steam. They call this a "plat-former," as it offers some semblance of the ability to deform the environment as part of gameplay, which is shown off in this trailer. Here's more:
Semblance is an innovative puzzle platformer where nearly everything, including your soft, bouncy character and the environment around you, is entirely deformable! Squish, squash, mold and deform in imaginative ways to solve problems, grab hard-to-reach collectibles and heal the land from an infestation of hard material. Semblance lets you move between challenges at your pace, with an engaging story that unravels organically as you explore.

Throughout development, Semblance won multiple special honors at gaming shows for its unique design and aesthetic. The game bubbles with beautiful colors, minimalist artwork, charming critters and a soothing atmosphere.
Continue here to read the full story.

AIRHEART Takes Off

AIRHEART - Tales of broken Wings has taken flight for Windows and macOS on Steam, offering a dieselpunk airplane action game. You can learn more about this through the AIRHEART Website, which offers this previously released trailer. In announcing this, developer Blindflug Studios reflects on the game's progress since entering early access:
Blindflug Studios, the award winning Zurich-based independent development studio, is thrilled to announce that AIRHEART is now available to purchase on PC and PlayStation®4, with additional platforms to be announced in the following weeks.

PlayStation®4 owners can purchase the game via the PlayStation®Store, while PC players can pick it up on Steam, or opt for the Deluxe Edition - which comes bundled with the original soundtrack and additional bonus content.

AIRHEART is a diesel-punk action game set in the beautiful, vibrant, floating city of Granaria. Players will step into the shoes of Amelia, a young pilot who dreams of one day reaching the world’s edge and capturing the legendary Sky Whale.

Amelia must take to the skies in her customizable plane – soaring higher and higher through a uniquely vertical environment as she explores vivid landscapes, partakes in a spot of sky-fishing and takes on rival aircraft in tight, blistering twin-stick combat.

A robust crafting system offers Amelia opportunities to upgrade her highly customizable plane, crafting new items from scrap obtained from fallen foes. Funds can also be earned from sky-fishing, but doing so might have a bigger impact on Granaria’s ecosystem than it first might seem.

“It’s been a long road since we launched AIRHEART in early access; the game has evolved so much since then, and I’d like to thank everyone who supported us during the development process,” said Moritz Zumbühl, Blindflug Studios CEO. “Amelia’s plane is now ready for takeoff, and we can’t wait for the AIRHEART community and newcomers alike to take to the skies and explore Granaria. The Sky Whale is waiting for you!”
Continue here to read the full story.

Headsnatchers Early Access

Early Access to Headsnatchers is now available on Steam, offering a Windows party game where you look to get a little head from your friends. Here's the Early Access PC Launch Trailer, and here's the pitch:
Publisher Iceberg Interactive and developer IguanaBee announce that Headsnatchers, their stupidly hectic up-to-4-player local and online multiplayer party-game, releases into Steam’s Early Access program today. The Early Access price is a more-than-reasonable $14.99 crowned with an even more generous 10% discount during the week of launch.

In Headsnatchers, you will be challenging your friends to insane brawls where the goal is to pluck heads from shoulders and use them to get that much desired victory. Because, let’s face it, you’ll do anything to win. The new Early Access launch trailer will show you just how bonkers this game really is:
Continue here to read the full story.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Video Game Vehicle (360 VR video!). Thanks Ant.

Cricket Captain 2018 Demo

Steam now offers a playable demo for Cricket Captain 2018, the latest installment in this sports simulation series (thanks Frans). This offers a chance to see the game's updated match engine and all the latest improvements. Even though there are brand new patch notes for the latest update to the game, there's no specific word on what the demo includes, so here's an overview of the game itself:
Cricket Captain returns for 2018 with an updated match engine, extensive additions to the records and statistics (including stats of every historical international player), Ireland & Afghanistan as playable test nations, improved internet game, improved coaching, and much more. Put your tactical expertise to the test in the number one cricket management game.

Developed in association with Jimmy Anderson, Cricket Captain 2018 also features a full database update (over 6500 players), with improved player generation, and greater accuracy in limited over player abilities. The latest changes to all domestic structures have been included.

Cricket Captain is unrivalled in cricket management simulation, and Cricket Captain 2018 improves the series once again with all the attention to detail that is the trademark of the series.

Rising Lords Announced

Developer Argonwood announces Rising Lords, calling this medieval turn-based strategy game "ambitious," and saying it is due for release in 2019. This includes card and board game elements, some of which are evident in this trailer. The announcement has more:
Cologne-based development studio Argonwood has today announced Rising Lords -- an ambitious Medieval turn-based strategy game, due to be released in 2019.

Revealed today via a teaser trailer, Rising Lords is a simultaneous turn-based strategy with card and board game elements. Send your serfs to fight and die in your name... or let them prosper, and use them to your advantage!

With a robust multiplayer component to boot, Rising Lords invites players to experience the psychology of war -- getting into the minds of their enemies, and making their friends pay for questioning their right to rule!

Up to four players will be able to play simultaneously, with no need to wait for each individual to take their turn.

Plus, the game will come with a sizeable single-player campaign mode with detailed customisation options and subtle variables. The tide turns quickly when at war.

Rising Lords will release for PC via Steam next year. Interested players can already wishlist the game on Steam to ensure they receive updates on the game's progress, and follow Argonwood on Twitter for behind-the-scenes information and work-in-progress images and video from the game.

39 Days to Mars Additional Victorian Adventures Released

Developer It's Anecdotal now offers a content update for 39 Days to Mars called Additional Victorian Adventures. This is available through Humble Store, Itch.io, and Steam as a free download for all owners of the steampunk puzzle game for Windows, macOS, and Linux. They offer a look at what to expect in this trailer, and provide more details in this announcement:
Developer It's Anecdotal announces a new and free content release for its PC puzzle-adventure game 39 Days to Mars has arrived on Steam, Humble Store and itch.io; with a week-long discount now underway to celebrate!

Dubbed 'Additional Victorian Adventures' and free for all current owners of 39 Days to Mars, the update sprinkles in a handful of new, cleverly-devised co-op puzzles throughout the original campaign that players can come across organically during a fresh play-through. Join Sir Albert Wickes and The Right Honourable Clarence Baxter once again for another set of exciting 19th century adventures!

39 Days to Mars is a 1-2 player co-operative adventure game set in an alternate reality some 150 years in the past. You're tasked with piloting the HMS Fearful -- a masterpiece of unreliable engineering -- on its maiden voyage to Mars. When the steam engine runs out of coal, the ship's cat shreds the navigation chart, and the tea gets cold, it becomes clear that interstellar transportation isn't a walk in the park. It will take the talents of two working together on a mix of puzzles and action sequences to get to Mars in one piece (let alone in 39 days).

39 Days to Mars is currently available on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. A console release is also in the works for later this year.
Continue here to read the full story.

Play as Quiet in MGS5

Konami announces the release of as new July 2018 content update for METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN, the latest installment in the stealth/action series (thanks USgamer). This version 1.17 patch includes new online development items, a new difficulty level for Event FOBs, and the ability to play as Quiet to infiltrate forward operating bases. Here's more:
Cloaked in Silence is available in FOB missions !
You can play as Quiet to infiltrate FOBs. You cannot change her uniform or head options. She is an expert with a sniper rifle, and her steady hands let her take her shots with minimal shaking. Quiet’s movement speed is extremely fast and allows for unique jumping abilities over high steps where a player would usually need a ladder. She can close in on enemies quickly with her special dash, while remaining still for a certain amount of time will make her stealthy.
*The defense value matches the highest defense value within the unlocked battle dresses.

New Online Development items added!
Look forward to the addition of new development items designed to aid in your missions. Below, we take a look at just a few of the new items. All of these are Online Development items, meaning their development continues even when you are away from your game system or PC. You can also use earned MB Coins to shorten the development time.

NBA Playgrounds 2 Delayed; Becomes NBA 2K Playgrounds 2

2K Games announces they will publish NBA Playgrounds 2, saying that Saber Interactive's two-on-two arcade basketball sequel will now be known as NBA 2K Playgrounds 2. This involves a slight setback, as the game was announced for release this summer, and this may be to provide clearance for the release of NBA 2K19 20th Anniversary Edition, as the next installment in this more realistic basketball simulation is due later this summer. Here's the news:
2K today announced that they will publish the next great arcade-action sports game from developer Saber Interactive - NBA 2K Playgrounds 2. This over-the-top, two-on-two basketball experience will complement the best-selling NBA 2K simulation franchise and expand 2K’s footprint in the basketball video game space.

“The original NBA Playgrounds was a fantastic throwback to the glory days of arcade-action sports,” said Greg Thomas, President, Visual Concepts. “The new NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 will step up this energy and attitude big time – with a bit of added NBA 2K flair – giving fans of both franchises an exciting new way to game with friends around the world.”

“No one is more committed to bringing fans a great basketball experience than 2K. We can’t wait to share more on how we’re teaming up to make NBA 2K Playgrounds 2’s incredible arcade action bigger and better than ever for players,” said Saber CEO Matt Karch.

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 will be released in fall 2018 on the Xbox One, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Nintendo Switch™ and Windows PC.

For the latest updates on NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, visit playgroundsgame.com, and follow the series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This is the Police 2 Trailer

This is the Police 2 is due for release on August 2nd on GOG.com and Steam, and publisher THQ Nordic offers a new trailer to help pave the way for the law enforcement sequel. This is not all Jack Webb and Dragnet, however, as the clip focuses on the seamier side of the game, police corruption. Here's word:
Sharpwood is a cold place, a desolate place. Corruption spreads, violence escalates. Local cults gain more power, as do criminal gangs. And the Police? Well, everybody has to make a living, right? So "To serve and protect" - but whom? And who can you trust, if some criminals also wear a badge? Welcome to Sharpwood.
Continue here to read the full story.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

As I've noted, we're in the midst of what seems like monsoon season in these parts, as the rains have been persistent, and quite heavy at times. So it was a terrible scare when MrsBlue asked me to look at some water in the basement, as we recently had a crack in our foundation repaired to prevent such water incursions. This was done at no small expense, so it would have felt like a disaster to have the repair fail so quickly. As it turns out there's a leak in the horrible toilet in our horrible basement bathroom, which I call the prison bathroom, if that evokes an image. This thing wasn't even filling previously, but now some calcium deposit that was clogging a leak has failed, or something like that, and we're getting water. But this is coming from inside the house, and I already have a call in to the plumber, who can hopefully fix things easily enough, which is a relief. I don't know if a homeowner has ever been so happy to find a pipe leaking as I was when I saw this had nothing to do with our foundation.

Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Scrabble Online.
Stories: Japan's All-Time Record High Broken as Kumagaya Hits 106 Degrees.
The 2019 Golden Globes Have an Air Date, but No Network.
Science: Sorry, Neil Armstrong. Boffins say you may not have been first life-form to set foot on the Moon.
'Zombie-like' virus killing raccoons in NYC's Central Park.
The Vindication of Cheese, Butter, and Full-Fat Milk. Thanks Max.
Media: Wicked heat wave in New York. And now, Ted with the sports.
Drive Thru Oops. NSFW.
Boys plays catch with neighbour's dog over fence.
Reinventing The Car Tire Using Coil Springs.
Follow-up: California wine seeing traces of radioactive material from Japan accident. Clean fruit flavors with a Cesium 137 finish.
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