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Saturday, Mar 21, 2020

Half-Life: Alyx Preloads

Preloads are now underway for Half-Life: Alyx on Steam. paving the way for Monday's launch of the new virtual reality installment in the Half-Life series. This may be useful to more gamers than imagined at first. Despite the fact that it requires a virtual reality headset, PlayTracker reports more than 300,000 gamers have preordered the VR shooter (thanks VideoGamer.com). Here's word:
Valve's return to City 17 is poised to make sales record headlines next week. PlayTracker Insight tracking is showing Half-Life: Alyx has already surpassed 300.000 owners ahead of its launch on Monday, March 23rd.

This already puts the game within striking distance of the biggest Steam releases of 2020 so far like TemTem, Wolcen, Borderlands 3, Metro Exodus, and, amusingly, Black Mesa - Crowbar Collective's re-imagining of the original Half-Life game. Launch sales should propel the game into first place, pending a surprising over-performance by Doom Eternal this weekend.

VR owners account for only 1% of Steam users according to the Steam Hardware Survey, making this sales performance quite an impressive achievement.

Valve Plans Artifact Reboot

GamesRadar+ has first word from Valve boss Gabe Newell on plans to reboot Artifact, saying the changes in response to failure of their virtual card game are so dramatic that internally the effort is referred to as Artifact 2. This stems from a visit to Valve HQ behind the cover story for sister publication Edge Magazine. They say Edge reports that it's unclear if this will be a full sequel, a "No Man's Sky-style comeback," or something else, but that Newell tells them that Valve has "to do a larger reboot in order to justify its existence to customers and to markets." There is now an Under Construction notice on the Artifact Website reflecting the situation. Here's what it says there:
First off, we wanted to say thanks for all of your tweets, emails and posts. The continued interest in Artifact has been encouraging, and we sincerely appreciate all of the feedback!

You might notice some changes soon – we are starting tests on our systems and infrastructure. This shouldn’t impact live Artifact but we wanted to give you a heads up.

Expect more news after the launch of Half-Life: Alyx!

Valnir Rok Key Giveaway

Valnir Rok is a multiplayer survival RPG for Windows that's currently in Early Access on Steam. We were contacted by the folks behind the game and offered the chance to give away a handful of free keys. We asked if they were okay if we offered these as a reward for those of you kind enough to back us, and they said that was fine. So here's the deal: We have 10 keys to give away. If you are interested in receiving one, you can express your interest in the comments for this post or by email. You don't have to be patron to ask, but if more than 10 supporters respond, we will choose randomly among them. If fewer than 10 backers participate then all of them will get keys and the remainder will be handed out randomly among other respondents. I'll do the drawing either today or tomorrow, depending on how many entries we get. To help you gauge your own interest, here's a description of the game:
Valnir Rok is an online sandbox survival roleplaying game inspired by Norse mythology. Players will awaken to find themselves on Valnir Island and must do whatever it takes to survive in a land of wild animals, mythical beasts, and violent men. As a hardened Viking warrior, butcher your enemies in bloody combat, build and improve village structures, and form a clan to expand your power and reputation. Battle against opposing clans, place bounties on hated enemies, and discover ruin artifacts to gain favor with the gods with great deeds and holy sacrifices. Might makes right in the Viking world of Valnir Rok.

Out of the Blue

With five times as many confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other state in the US, my home state of New York is now "on pause." Yesterday the governor ordered all nonessential businesses closed and all nonessential workers to stay home, FEMA has declared New York a ‘Major Disaster’ area, and New York City is now considered the epicenter of America's coronavirus epidemic. Since MrsBlue's asthma puts her at greater than normal risk of severe complications, we were already committed to abundant caution. So other than a couple of careful forays to try and stock up on food, like so many around the globe, we had already isolated ourselves. In a touch of irony, MrsBlue staying home actually means I am less isolated, as I have long been used to working alone in the BlueCave. But this has never been a hardship for me, as I am quite introverted, and suited to this life. As most people, including MrsBlue, are not, I understand how difficult social isolation can be. So as this spreads I hope you can all stay well mentally as well as physically. Hopefully the isolation measures can stem the spread as we all look forward to things returning to a more normal state sooner rather than later. In the meantime, at least we can give thanks that New York liquor stores are deemed essential businesses. I think I can use a drink about now. Stay safe everyone!

Obituary: Kenny Rogers, legendary country singer, dies at 81. "And somewhere in the darkness, the gambler he broke even."

Paused Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
Stories: What “sheltering in place” means, explained by an expert. Thanks RedEye9.
Lots Of Fun Things That Weren't Free Before Coronavirus Suddenly Are.
Sci-Fi Cult Fave Returns in Red Dwarf: The Promised Land.
Science: Superfast, Superpowerful Lasers Are About to Revolutionize Physics. Thanks Max.
COVID-19 Is Deadlier Than The Flu. How Else Do They Differ? Thanks RedEye9.
Was Freud right about anything?
Images: Time to go our separate ways... - Doom.
Photos show New York City streets emptied out because of coronavirus.
Media: Zach King's Day Off - Magical Short Film.
The lockdown: One month in Wuhan. Thanks Simon.
The Secret Darker Art Of Dr Seuss.
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