Archived News:

Thursday, Mar 21, 2019

Get Tacoma for Free

The humble folks at Humble Bundle are offering another freebie, as they REALLY want you to subscribe to their newsletter. This time around the incentive is a free copy of Tacoma, Fullbright's adventure game for Windows, macOS, and Linux. They link to this trailer from back when the game was released, and offer this description of what you get in exchange for a foothold in your inbox:
The Venturis Corporation wants their AI back. That’s where you come in.

Tacoma is a narrative adventure set aboard a high-tech space station in the year 2088. As you go about your mission, you’ll explore every detail of how the station’s crew lived and worked, finding the clues that add up to a gripping story of trust, fear, and resolve in the face of disaster.

At the heart of Tacoma is the facility’s digital surveillance system, which has captured 3D recordings of pivotal moments in the crew’s life on the station. As you explore, echoes of these captured moments surround you. You’ll use your ability to rewind, fast-forward, and move through the physical space of these complex, interwoven scenes to examine events from every angle, reconstructing the multi-layered narrative as you explore.

Tacoma is the next game from the creators of Gone Home, and carries on that tradition of detailed, immersive, and powerful storytelling, while pulling players deeper into the narrative than ever before.
Continue here to read the full story.

XCOM 2 Free Weekend

Steam News announces a free weekend us underway for XCOM 2, which will continue into Sunday afternoon. As is the way with such events, the Windows, Linux, and macOS sci-fi strategy sequel is also on sale, and it can currently be picked up for 75% off. Would you like to know more?
XCOM 2 is the sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the 2012 award-winning strategy game of the year.

Earth has changed. Twenty years have passed since world leaders offered an unconditional surrender to alien forces. XCOM, the planet’s last line of defense, was left decimated and scattered. Now, in XCOM 2, the aliens rule Earth, building shining cities that promise a brilliant future for humanity on the surface, while concealing a sinister agenda and eliminating all who dissent from their new order.

Only those who live at the edges of the world have a margin of freedom. Here, a force gathers once again to stand up for humanity. Always on the run, and facing impossible odds, the remnant XCOM forces must find a way to ignite a global resistance, and eliminate the alien threat once and for all.

Cities: Skylines Free Weekend

A free weekend has also commenced on Steam for Cities: Skylines, Colossal Order's colossal urban planning game. This event likewise ends on Sunday, and the game is also on sale with a 75% discount. Here's a bit on the game:
Cities: Skylines is a modern take on the classic city simulation. The game introduces new game play elements to realize the thrill and hardships of creating and maintaining a real city whilst expanding on some well-established tropes of the city building experience.

From the makers of the Cities in Motion franchise, the game boasts a fully realized transport system. It also includes the ability to mod the game to suit your play style as a fine counter balance to the layered and challenging simulation. You’re only limited by your imagination, so take control and reach for the sky!

Video Game Hall of Fame 2019 Finalists

The Strong reveals the World Video Game Hall of Fame 2019 Finalists, saying they will reveal this year's inductees in a ceremony on May 2nd. This excerpt from the announcement shows the nominees as well as the previous honorees:
The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York, today announced the 12 finalists for induction: Candy Crush, Centipede, Colossal Cave Adventure, Dance Dance Revolution, Half-Life, Microsoft Windows Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, Myst, NBA 2K, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Super Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. Melee.

“These 12 World Video Game Hall of Fame finalists span decades, gaming platforms, and countries of origin—but what they all have in common is their undeniable impact on the world of gaming and popular culture,” says Jon-Paul C. Dyson, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “Whether it’s a true pioneer like Colossal Cave Adventure, a mobile gaming phenomenon like Candy Crush that’s been played by hundreds of millions, or a game like Mortal Kombat that pushed boundaries and changed the landscape of the gaming industry, they’re among the most influential games of all time.”

The World Video Game Hall of Fame received thousands of nominations from more than 100 countries for consideration for the 2019 class. Fans may vote for their favorite finalists from March 21 to March 28 as part of a “Player’s Choice” ballot at worldvideogamehalloffame.org. The three games that receive the most public votes will form one ballot and will join the 27 other ballots submitted by members of the International Selection Advisory Committee, which is made up of journalists and scholars familiar with the history of video games and their role in society. (The public, collectively, will have the weight of one judge.) The final inductees will be announced during a special ceremony at The Strong museum on Thursday, May 2 at 10:30 a.m.

The World Video Game Hall of Fame recognizes electronic games that meet the following criteria: icon-status, the game is widely recognized and remembered; longevity, the game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time; geographical reach, the game meets the above criteria across international boundaries; and influence, the game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general.

Anyone can nominate a game to the World Video Game Hall of Fame online at worldvideogamehallofame.org. Inductees to the first three classes of the World Video Game Hall of Fame—Donkey Kong, DOOM, Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto III, Halo: Combat Evolved, John Madden Football, The Legend of Zelda, The Oregon Trail, Pac-Man, Pokemon Red and Green, Pong, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Invaders, Spacewar!, Street Fighter II, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Tomb Raider, and World of Warcraft—are displayed on permanent view at The Strong in Rochester, New York.

Steam Adding Events and Renovating Game Libraries

During talk about Steam today at the Game Developers Conference, Valve announced plans for Steam that include an overhaul the appearance of game libraries and the addition of a communication element called Events (thanks Kxmode). Variety has details on the session, suggesting that some of what Valve is saying and doing is in response to the rapid inroads made by the fledgling Epic Games Store. They say: "While Valve’s talk Thursday never specifically mentioned Epic, it was clear the company was working to highlight the work it’s already done to establish itself in the market and the work it continues to do to make it easier for developers to stay engaged with their customers." Here's a bit on the new announcements:
Steam Events will be a new way for developers to communicate with their players through Steam. The idea is that developers can create a sort of call to action around specific in-game events. So when a big event is scheduled to go down in a game, Steam will allow developers to put all of that information into an Event in Steam which can be sent out to interested players. Events will feature all of the event details and even a button that allows players to automatically set reminders for the event through a calendar, Steam, email, or even a player’s phone.

“We want to build the foundation for a communication platform where all of the interesting things happening in a game finds its way to customers,” said Alden Kroll, product designer at Valve.

Events, which will go into open beta in the next couple of months, can include anything from an in-game event, to a tournament, live broadcast or major update. In one of the screenshots of the new feature shown off by Kroll, a page detailed all of the upcoming events of the week for a person’s purchased games on one page.

“We think of this as the way developers communicate with players through Steam,” Kroll said.

Another major change coming to Steam will overhaul the look of a person’s game library in Steam.

“When players come in to play a game, we’re going to keep that as easy as possible,” Kroll said. “This provides an opportunity for players to see what else is happening.”

We. The Revolution Released

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... it was the releasiest of times, as We. The Revolution is now available on GOG.com and Steam, offering the chance to relive the French revolution from comfort of your Windows, Linux, or macOS PC (console editions are "coming soon"). Here's a launch trailer. What, the peasants are hungry for more? Let them eat details!:
Featuring unique gameplay and a singular art style, We. The Revolution casts players in the role of a judge in the Revolutionary Tribunal during the great French Revolution era. Players will have to trudge through the turbulent setting passing sentences, playing a dangerous political game, and doing everything in their power to avoid the guillotine and being marked as an enemy of the revolution. As the revolutionary judge, players will have to confront their decisions with their family who may very often see things differently.

We. The Revolution puts players in morally ambiguous situations in which there are no obvious solutions, and the decisions they make are never clear cut. The power over human life and death is a heavy burden and having responsibility and strength will be tantamount when making decisions that can affect the fate of the revolution.

A list of features include:

  • Experience the oppressive atmosphere of the French Revolution as you’ve come to know it from the classic novels of Alexandre Dumas and Joseph Conrad
  • Preside over dozens of unique and morally ambiguous court cases
  • Run your own courtroom – question witnesses, analyze clues and evidence, read reports, and pass sentences
  • Confront your judgments with your family
  • Make friends and enemies of different rival factions vying for power. Make them your associates or make them disappear
  • Engage in a mix of genres, blending case-building with intrigue-crafting and turn-based tactics

Continue here to read the full story.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4: Zombies Experience Trailer

Activision announces the next chapter in the zombies adventure for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will arrive on Tuesday with the release of the next installment in their Black Ops Pass. Here's the accompanying Ancient Evil trailer, and here's word:
The next thrilling Zombies adventure in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is arriving next Tuesday for Black Ops Pass owners. “Ancient Evil” beckons the intrepid foursome from the Chaos Storyline – Bruno, Diego, Scarlett and Shaw – in a brand-new adventure into an underground Greek city to face off against new varieties of the undead. Featuring signature Call of Duty Zombies combat, Ancient Evil will test players’ skills as they fight new Zombies and enemies against the backdrop of a gargantuan cavern colossal enough to hold a sprawling city.
Continue here to read the full story.

Chernobylite Kickstarter Plans and Trailer

The Farm 51 announces plans to launch a Kickstarter in the next few weeks for Chernobylite, their survival/horror game set in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (thanks Rhialto). They share the news in this trailer, which also offers a first look at the game in action. Here's word:
It's time to share something special and important, both for you and for us. Having all the feedback we got from you after our teasers and making-ofs, we figured out that everybody wants the same: to explore the destroyed Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and Pripyat ghost city as deeply as it's possible.

Then we decided to expand these locations in the game comparing to the original concept and ask you for help in doing that. It's hard and dangerous task, assuming that we need to make some extra trips to the Exclusion Zone and scan more buildings and objects.

Within the next few weeks, we'll be starting the Kickstarter campaign. It'll let you pre-order the game and buy many cool gifts, including our highly demanded Black Stalker mask, and will let us collect some extra funds to do the Chernobylite location expansions plus add some extra features that we were always dreaming of.
Continue here to read the full story.

Trials Rising Season One

Ubisoft announces the first season of Trials Rising has risen. This trailer illustrates the news, which includes word on how this will play out over the next couple of months:
The first Season of Trials Rising kicks off today, and the race for prestige, glory, and an exclusive rider outfit is on. By competing in online multiplayer races, players will climb through the ranks, and with each new division they reach, a new part of the five-piece Golden Cowboy Outfit will be theirs. This competition will run through the end of May; during that time, new customization items will become available through Gear Crates and in the Gear Store. On top of that, the Easter Event and the release of Trials Rising's first expansion, Sixty Six, will bring even more Trials goodness to the table.

Starting in April, the free Easter Event will run for two weeks and introduce themed customization items for a limited time, including an Easter Bunny outfit. These items will be available through special Easter Event Gear Crates or through the Gear Store. Furthermore, players will have a chance to earn a themed helmet by completing a special Ubisoft Club Weekly Challenge: collect glowing data cubes hidden throughout 10 select tracks.

On April 16, Sixty Six — the first expansion — arrives, so stay tuned for more info. Sixty Six is included in the Expansion Pass, and will also be available for standalone purchase.
Continue here to read the full story.

Play Black Desert Online for Free

Black Desert Online is in the midst of a free week on Steam, so anyone can try this MMORPG for nothing between now and Monday (thanks Ant). For those who enjoy the game, it is also on sale for half-off, though it bears noting that the Steam version of the game is separate from the non-Steam version, so this involves making a decision between the two. Here's a refresher on the game:
Black Desert Online is a sandbox, living-world MMORPG. Experience fast-paced, action-packed combat, hunt monsters and huge bosses, fight with friends in a guild to siege nodes and region castles, train your life skills such as fishing, trading, crafting, cooking, and much more!

Players will enjoy jaw-dropping graphics, intuitive skill-based combat, and an immersive story encased in our expansive world that’s just waiting to be explored. Accompanied by a Black Spirit, a companion whose destiny is intertwined with their own, players will discover the secret of the Black Stones and the history of their corrupting effects.

New AMD Radeon Drivers

AMD Support now offers new Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3 drivers for AMD graphics cards (thanks Hypothermia). Here's the skinny:
Support For

  • Sekiro™: Shadows Die Twice
  • Generation Zero

Fixed Issues

  • Rainbow Six Siege™ may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay.
  • DOTA™2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan® API.

Known Issues

  • Mouse cursors may disappear or move out of the boundary of the top of a display on AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics.
  • Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII.

Battlefield V Firestorm Trailer

A new official trailer for Battlefield V shows off gameplay from Firestorm, the upcoming battle royale mode coming to the military shooter. For a deeper dive, the Battlefield V Chapter 3 Trial By Fire patch notes. The clip offers details on how this will work, and the following is from its description:
Watch the gameplay deep dive on Battlefield V Firestorm - a new Battle Royale mode available to all Battlefield V players on March 25: http://x.ea.com/57657

Scavenge - Work as a team to unlock high-risk, high-reward Objectives and claim the best loot while exploring a map ten times larger than Hamada.

Fight - Unleash Battlefield V's signature destruction with combat vehicles, artillery strikes, and an expanding arsenal of weapons.

Survive - Play together to share gear, revive fallen squad mates, and outlast the Firestorm that incinerates everything in its path.

Music: Zayde Wolf - RULE THE WORLD (Generdyn Remix) by Generdyn Music
Continue here to read the full story.

GDC Award Winners

With the 2019 Game Developers Conference underway, the 19th annual Game Developers Choice Awards were handed out last night in San Francisco, with God of War taking home Game of the Year honors. You can read all about the proceedings in this announcement and a replay of this Tim Schafer-hosted award ceremony and the IGF Awards can be viewed on Twitch. Here is the list of winners:
The Game Developers Choice Awards winners are:

  • Best Audio
    Celeste (Matt Makes Games)
  • Best Debut
    Mountains (Florence)
  • Best Design
    Into the Breach (Subset Games)
  • Best Mobile Game
    Florence (Mountains)
  • Innovation Award
    Nintendo Labo (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Best Narrative
    Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope / 3909)
  • Best Technology
    Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)
  • Best Visual Art
    Gris (Nomada Studio / Devolver Digital)
  • Best VR/AR Game
    Beat Saber (Beat Games)
  • Audience Award
    Beat Saber (Beat Games)
  • Game of the Year
    God of War (Sony Santa Monica / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Pioneer Award
    Rieko Kodama
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
    Amy Hennig

IGF Award Winners

With the Independent Games Summit taking place at GDC, this year's Independent Games Festival Awards ceremony was also held last night, with Return Of The Obra Dinn taking home the grand prize. The post announces all the honorees, and, as mentioned above, Twitch has a replay of this ceremony and the GDC Awards. Here's the full list of winners:
The winners of the 21st annual IGF Awards are:

  • Excellence in Visual Art ($3,000)
    Mirror Drop (Ian Lilley)
  • Excellence in Audio ($3,000)
    Paratopic (Arbitrary Metric)
  • Excellence in Design ($3,000)
    Opus Magnum (Zachtronics)
  • Excellence in Narrative ($3,000)
    Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)
  • Nuovo Award ($3,000)
    Black Room (Cassie McQuater)
  • Best Student Game ($3,000)
    after HOURS (Bahiyya Khan, Claire Meekel, Tim Flusk, Abi Meekel)
  • Audience Award ($3,000)
    ETHEREAL (Nonsense Arts - Nicolás Recabarren and Tomás Batista)
  • ID@Xbox Gaming Heroes Award
    Jerry Lawson
  • alt.ctrl.GDC Award ($3,000)
    HOT SWAP: All Hands On Deck (Peter Gyory, Clement Zheng)
  • Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($30,000)
    Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)

Game Reviews

  • Apex Legends on PCMag.com. Best Graphics Cards: 14 GPUs Tested.

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

I failed to mention Vernal Equinox yesterday. So happy spring to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and to those south of the equator, sympathies over the end of summer. Speaking of infrequent occurrences, MrsBlue and I made a rare foray to the movie theater last night to finally catch up with Captain Marvel. I wanted to go sooner, but in retrospect we're extremely glad we put this off and didn't inadvertently spend a night out for one of our last days with the Gunnar-man. I was a huge fan of the original character back in the Jim Starlin days and a huge fan of 90s action movies, so I basically loved every minute of it. A lot of my enjoyment of the old Mar-Vell was his somewhat nebulous set of continuously evolving powers and how awesome (and cosmically aware!) he eventually became (even though the character being over-powered was one of the things that turned me off to Superman). So I think all she had to do was kick some ass in the movie to make me happy. Mission accomplished. Also, yay Goose. Also, yay Stan Lee.

Marvelous Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Texas homeowners unknowingly had 45 rattlesnakes under their house.
Saltwater intrusion: Rising seas are poisoning North Carolina's farmland. Thanks RedEye9.
Science: More Than One Reality Exists (in Quantum Physics).
Drinking hot tea almost doubles risk of esophageal cancer, new study says.
Images: Super worm moon- Images of the last supermoon of 2019.
Media: Bowling Night - Cyanide & Happiness Shorts.
Mouse Cleans Up Garden Shed.
Manatees being bottle fed.
Follow-up: Anti-Vaxxer Gov. Matt Bevin Made Sure His Kids Got Chickenpox.
New Jack the Ripper claim strains under scrutiny.
The Funnies: Buni.
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