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Archived News:

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

On Rune II Support

Venture Beat has a response from Ragnarok Game LLC to today's announcement that Rune II developer Human Head Studios is closed. This refers to Ragnarok as the publisher of Rune II, even though the Epic Games Store lists the publisher as Human Head. Ragnarok says the closure was unexpected, which is weird, since this post on Steam that seems to be from Human Head says, "Ragnarok Game, LLC is the business entity we created with our financial partner ESDF to publish Rune." In any event, they say they still plan on supporting the game, though it may take some time to get things in order:
“Yesterday, we successfully launched Rune II onto the Epic Games Store and the game’s demand has exceeded our expectations,” the Ragnarok team said in a statement. “First and foremost: We love this game, and we will continue to support Rune II.”

“Today, developer Human Head Studios announced that it closed its doors and will be starting a new studio,” reads the Ragnarok statement. “This is shocking news to us, as there are several entities working on Rune II — we found out about this news when you did.”

“Human Head had a longstanding agreement with Rune II’s publisher, Ragnarok Game, LLC, to provide ongoing support for the game,” reads the Ragnarok statement. “We are working quickly to resolve any current technical issues while we build the team that will execute the exciting planned future of Rune II’s post-launch content strategy.”

“Our plan remains to continue working on Rune II and launch onto other PC platforms in 2020,” reads the statement. “We’re excited to show you the future of Rune II content.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Update and Apology

Rockstar Games apologizes for the rocky launch of the Windows edition of Red Dead Redemption 2. They announce the release of a new patch for the wild west shooter and promise to soon reward players with a free care package for Red Dead Online that includes a poncho:
Over the past week, we have been working as quickly as possible to address issues that have impacted the launch of the PC version of Red Dead Redemption 2. As a result, we have already identified and resolved a number of these issues by deploying fixes to the Rockstar Games Launcher and some to the game itself.

However, we are aware that a small number of Red Dead Redemption 2 PC players are still experiencing some ongoing problems with the game stuttering. We believe this is due to unforeseen issues related to specific combinations of Nvidia graphics drivers, Nvidia GPU cards and certain CPU’s.

We will be rolling out an update to the game today which will address the stuttering issue alongside a host of other fixes. However, we are still currently working together with Nvidia to completely resolve the stuttering issue in a future update, and it may take us up to a few days to properly test everything and ensure the next update completely solves the problem.

We sincerely apologize for this temporary inconvenience and will update you as soon as we have more information to share – we want everyone to be able to experience Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC as we intended as soon as possible. If you are experiencing any issues that are impacting your experience with Red Dead Redemption 2 for any reason, please start by first visiting the troubleshooting page on our Support site for assistance: https://support.rockstargames.com/articles/360037908634/RDR2-on-PC-General-Troubleshooting

And as a show of gratitude to our PC fans while we sort this out in the coming days, everyone who plays Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC this week and through to the holiday season will receive a complimentary care package for Red Dead Online that includes the Prieto Poncho and an assortment of provisions and ammo. Look for more details on the care package to come.

John Carmack Working on AI

A Facebook post from John Carmack has word from the DOOM and QUAKE co-creator is reducing his role at Oculus in order to spend some time working on artificial intelligence:
Starting this week, I’m moving to a "Consulting CTO” position with Oculus.

I will still have a voice in the development work, but it will only be consuming a modest slice of my time.

As for what I am going to be doing with the rest of my time: When I think back over everything I have done across games, aerospace, and VR, I have always felt that I had at least a vague “line of sight” to the solutions, even if they were unconventional or unproven. I have sometimes wondered how I would fare with a problem where the solution really isn’t in sight. I decided that I should give it a try before I get too old.

I’m going to work on artificial general intelligence (AGI).

I think it is possible, enormously valuable, and that I have a non-negligible chance of making a difference there, so by a Pascal’s Mugging sort of logic, I should be working on it.

For the time being at least, I am going to be going about it “Victorian Gentleman Scientist” style, pursuing my inquiries from home, and drafting my son into the work.

Runner up for next project was cost effective nuclear fission reactors, which wouldn’t have been as suitable for that style of work. 😊

The Pit: Infinity Released

The Pit: Infinity is now out of Early Access and officially available for Windows on Steam, offering a roguelike first-person shooter/RPG. "Kerberos welcomes gamers to explore a new world of first-person, rogue-a-likes where being smart is as important as being well armed," says lead designer Martin Cirulis. "With randomized levels, over 30 unique monsters, more than 35 weapons and dozens of armors - not to mention various traps and tricks and an unlimited play mode - The Pit : Infinity will live up to its name!" Here's what to expect:
The Pit: Infinity is a cooperative RPG with first-person-shooter controls and roguelike permadeath. It is meant to be played solo, or cooperatively with up to three friends.

Players will take on the role of a Marine, Scout or Engineer character and enter the Pit, a high-tech dungeon in which diabolical experiments are performed on life forms gathered from all over the galaxy.

Game Features:

  • Start as one of three unique Characters, each with different Attributes, Skills and Items!
  • Explore procedurally generated hallways, rooms and biomes!
  • Battle monsters and robots to gain experience and loot!
  • Open locked doors, avoid traps, and rifle through alien treasure troves, seeking supplies, ammunition and gear!
  • Gain Levels to improve your Attributes and Skills!
  • Collect components and craft new items to improve your chances of survival!
  • Delve as deep into the Pit as you can, before you’re horribly killed! Each new floor becomes more challenging and progressively more difficult to beat.

The Crew 2 Blazing Shots Shoots Out

Blazing Shots is now available, offering the fourth free major update for The Crew 2, Ubisoft's open-world driving game. Word is: "With The Crew 2 Blazing Shots, the competition intensifies with new and unique LIVE Summit events where players must reach the top of the leaderboard to win exclusive rewards based on their ranking. Players can participate in weekly PvE competitions where they can take on nine activities selected among the game’s wide range of playgrounds and disciplines. Additionally, once a month, challengers can also take part in the Premium LIVE Summit that will reward the best competitors with a unique, special edition vehicle." Here's the Launch Trailer, and here's more:
The Crew 2 Blazing Shots will introduce the Elite Bundle 3 that features three exclusive vehicles for one month at a 20 percent savings: Ferrari 599XX EVO (touring car), Porsche Carrera GT (hypercar) and the Citroën GT (hypercar).

Additionally, new vehicles will be added throughout the coming months, including some of the most iconic cars ever created such as the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (hypercar) and the Mazda RX-8 (street race). To trick out the rides, a brand-new vanity category, Underglows, is now available, and 78 new vanity items will be added throughout the month so players can create a vehicle fit for a motorsports champion.
Continue here to read the full story.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: I am so sorry about this. My Movember 'stache is getting there.

Rune II Released; Human Head Closes

Rune II is now available on the Epic Games Store, offering Human Head's sequel to their Viking adventure from the last millennium. Unfortunately, it will be their swan song, as Human Head has closed its doors, reports VGC (thanks DoomWiki via Frans). Human Head's credits include Rune and Prey (2006), and they also worked on Batman: Arkham Origins, BioShock Infinite, and Brink. The good news is that everyone who worked for the company was offered a new position of Bethesda, where they are staffing up an internal developer called Roundhouse Studios, perhaps an homage to the offices Human Head one occupied at a former railroad roundhouse. "Sadly, we had to wind down the business of Human Head Studios and close its doors, which was particularly devastating due to the passion and creativity of the team we’d assembled," said Roundhouse Studios creative director Chris Rhinehart. "We reached out to our friends at Bethesda for help, and they saw that same creativity and passion in our team. With the formation of Roundhouse Studios, Bethesda offered every employee of Human Head a position at the new company." Word is Roundhouse will immediately begin working on unannounced Bethesda projects. Here's the Rune II Launch Trailer along with word on the final project from Human Head Studios:
Set in a dangerous Norse universe during the end of days, RUNE II is an epic action RPG where gods, beasts, and the last remaining humans struggle to survive.

You have been chosen by the gods to be Midgard’s savior - receive their blessings and powerful abilities as you endeavor to end Ragnarok! Race against time to prevent the trickster Loki from destroying Midgard as he keeps the world in a perpetual state of chaos.

Alone or with friends you will battle legions of Loki’s minions in brutal melee combat, travel the world collecting rare resources, locate precious artifacts to weaken the Realm Gate and craft the mightiest weapons the Nine Realms have ever seen.

Are you powerful enough to take down a god...or will a new age of darkness begin?
Continue here to read the full story.

BioShock Speculation

GamesRadar+ rounds up a handful of indications that a new BioShock game is in the works:
During its Quarterly Earnings call held last week, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick revealed (via GameRant) that the publisher currently has the "strongest development pipeline in history", and that fans of its games can expect "sequels from our biggest franchises as well as exciting new IP.

Incidentally, that same week a new job listing was discovered on 2K's website for an "End Game Design Lead" position in Novato, California, the same location of the secretive 2K Parkside studio that Kotaku reported was working on a new BioShock game last year.

The position reveals that 2K is looking to "build a post-narrative set of systems, quests, and player progression that gives our fanatic fangirls and fanboys more content to experience on an ongoing, live-service basis", suggesting that this sequel to 2013's BioShock: Infinite could be heading in the direction of many Games as a Service titles like Destiny 2 and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint.

A post on the BioShock Reddit forums has also put together a list of names and respected developers who appear to be working at this Novato-based studio on a mysterious, unannounced project, many of whom were involved in the making of immersive sims like Prey and the original BioShock games.

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS Testing Skill Ratings

An update on Steam announces a new version 5.2 update for PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS is now live on the test server for the battle royale game. This introduces PUBG Labs, which they describe as "a space where we introduce to you experimental in-game features and collect your feedback to perfect them as permanent game additions." They describe the first experimental content this will feature as a skill-based rating system that they expect to go live later this month:
The upcoming experimental content of PUBG Labs

  • Skill Based Rating (PC - Live server: Nov 26 - Jan 1 KST / Console - Live server: Nov 26 - Jan 6 KST)
    • Skill Based Rating is an experimental feature being tested through PUBG Labs, tracking your skill and assigning you a rating based on your match performances.
    • This Skill Based Rating is separate from the current Survival Title System.
    • Ratings will be applied for each mode based on players’ skill level. To see your rating, you must first play 5 matches.
      • After you finish 5 rating-evaluation matches, your rating going forward will be adjusted based on factors such as kills and overall placement in matches.
    • You can leave feedback about the changes to your rating after the end of each match, so we can gauge how the system feels.
    • For one week after the Skill Based Rating test ends, all players who participated can share their feedback via an in-game survey.
      • Feedback period
        • PC: 1/2 - 1/9 KSTConsole: 1/7 - 1/14 KST

You can check Skill Based Rating feature on the Test Server now, before it comes to live servers next week.

Commandos 2 HD & Praetorians HD Beta Access with Preorders

Kalypso Media, Yippee! Entertainment, and Torus Games announce release plans for Commandos 2 HD Remaster and Praetorians HD Remaster, saying the Windows editions of these remakes will come on January 24th. Closed beta testing for each game will begin on December 13th, and those who preorder will be granted access. Here are the product pages for Praetorians HD Remaster, Commandos 2 HD Remaster, and the Commandos 2 & Praetorians HD Remaster Double Pack. Here's more on what the betas will include:
In Commandos 2 - HD Remaster, take control of an elite group of Allied commandos who must venture deep into enemy territory and utilize their combined expertise to complete a series of notoriously demanding missions. In this World War II genre-defining classic, explore interactive environments and use your commandos’ unique skill sets to complete your mission against seemingly impossible odds.

Beta features:

  • Experience every tutorial and campaign mission from the original game revamped in high definition with new controls
  • Reunite with an eclectic cast of characters, including Jack 'Tiny' O'Hara and Whiskey the dog

In Praetorians - HD Remaster, lead the emerging Roman Empire by proving a legionnaire's worth on the battlefields of Egypt, the combat theatres of Gaul, and the heart of the Roman Empire in Italy, in a crusade to become Emperor. Combine units, master their varied skill sets and exploit the weaknesses of the enemy to emerge victorious.

Beta features:

  • Learn the ropes or show your militant might with access to every tutorial, campaign and skirmish mission from the original game
  • Play solo or go head-to-head with a fully remastered multiplayer mode

Commandos 2 - HD Remaster and Praetorians - HD Remaster are scheduled for release on Windows PC on January 24, 2020, with console versions (PlayStation®4, Xbox One) and Nintendo Switch, Mac and Linux versions of Commandos 2 - HD Remaster to follow in Spring 2020.

Railroad Corporation Next Week

Publisher Iceberg Interactive and developer Corbie Games announce that Railroad Corporation is scheduled to depart the Early Access station and arrive in a full release on Steam on November 18th. A FULL RELEASE Announcement trailer celebrates the news with a look, including some gameplay from Chapter 2 of the rail transportation simulation and answers to community questions about the project. Here are some details, reminiscent of epic Rails West! matches from the bygone days:
When entering Steam’s Early Access program, Railroad Corporation started with only one chapter and no additional game-modes. Since then, it has seen plenty of exciting new updates and features, including:

  • Sandbox Mode: letting players expand their train network without limitations, timers or objectives.
  • Challenge Update: a separate, more advanced scenario with complex tasks to solve.
  • Multiplayer Update: allowing players to compete against friends or faux when building their railway empire.

The full release will introduce a second chapter, where players can start their own companies and compete against an AI fighting for the same objectives as them. The release will also see the addition of a stock market feature, letting players grow their railway empire by buying and selling shares on the stock market.

Continue here to read the full story.

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

"On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that someday, he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his childhood friend, Oscar Madison. Sometime earlier, Madison's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

Happy Odd Couple Day!

Odd Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Momo Horror Story.
Links: Greedo Gets the Last Word in Controversial New Star Wars Edit. Thanks Neutronbeam.
J.J. Abrams discusses meeting George Lucas to talk Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: “He loves his Midi-chlorians.”
Stories: In a Chaotic World, Dungeons & Dragons Is Resurgent. Thanks Neutronbeam.
New Jersey country club sues waiter accused of pouring red wine on patron's $30G Hermès purse.
Science: If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like? Thanks j.c.f.
The Truth About Carbs And Calories. Thanks RedEye9.
Scientists may have just worked out why we hiccup.
Images: Silver-Backed Chevrotain, With Fangs And Hooves, Photographed In Wild For First Time. Thanks RedEye9.
Media: The New & Improved Sonic The Hedgehog Stops By CONAN.
SodaPresser - The Most Depressing Commercial Ever.
Living Pez Dispenser.
Follow-up: Ultima Thule renamed to avoid Nazi link.