Archived News:

Thursday, Mar 04, 2021

Get Wargame: Red Dragon for Free

Wargame: Red Dragon is now available for free on the Epic Games Store, offering this RTS game from Eugen Systems as latest in their ongoing series of giveaway. This is yours to keep as long as you collect your copy over the next seven days. They also announce that next week you'll be able to get into your inner Mark Watney when their new giveaway is Surviving Mars. Here's more on this week's freebie:
The Wargame series returns to duty, larger, richer and more spectacular than ever before. In Wargame Red Dragon, you are engaged in a large-scale conflict where Western forces clash against the Communist bloc.

1991: the two blocs confront each other in a new theater of war, Asia, joined by various other countries: Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

You command the military resources of all 17 nations involved, assembling your fighting force from a phenomenal selection of 1,450 units that have been meticulously reproduced from their source! Command tanks, planes, helicopters, new warships and amphibious units in intense battles of unequaled tactical depth. Master the relief of varied, ultra realistic battlefields, dominate the new maritime areas and rewrite history in a conflict that has been directed and designed in stunning detail by development studio Eugen Systems.

Artifact Ends Development, Goes Completely Free

A post from Valve called The Future of Artifact has the bad news that Artifact no longer has much of a future, as development of the card-based strategy game is coming to an end. Up until now Valve was working on a reboot called Artifact 2.0, and while that's not complete, it is playable, and will be released as is. But the game has failed to attract enough player interest, so they are releasing both Artifact Classic and what's now called Artifact Foundry as completely free games. This page outlines the difference between the two versions, and here's more on the free releases:
It's now been about a year and a half since the current Artifact team began work on a reboot in earnest. While we're reasonably satisfied we accomplished most of our game-side goals, we haven't managed to get the active player numbers to a level that justifies further development at this time. As such, we've made the tough decision to stop development on the Artifact 2.0 Beta.

However, we recognize that both versions of Artifact still have players and still have value to the community. For this reason, we're opening both games up to make them available for free to everyone. Final releases of both Artifact Classic and Artifact 2.0 Beta (renamed Artifact Foundry) are now available. Technically Artifact Foundry remains an unfinished product, but most of what's missing is polish and art - the core gameplay is all there. While both games will remain playable, we don’t plan to ship any further gameplay updates.
Continue here to read the full story.

More on Apple v. Epic Games

Two different stories have more on the fallout of the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games over app store fees related to Fortnite. BBC News has word that an investigation in the UK is looking into claims that the Apple treats developers unfairly. Word is: "The investigation will consider whether Apple has a dominant position in the distribution of apps on its devices and look at whether it imposes unfair terms on developers." There's also a report on Gizmodo of an anti-monopoly bill under consideration in Arizona that would serve Epic's cause by allowing developers to bypass app store fees. Here's an explanation:
Arizona House Bill HB2005 “restricts the ability of certain digital application distribution platforms to require use of a specific in-application payment system.” (You can read the text of the bill here.) This restriction applies to digital application distribution platforms like the iOS App Store and Google Play, and any other distribution platform that exceeds 1 million cumulative downloads in a single calendar year.

It also bans distribution platforms from requiring Arizona-based app developers to use “a specific in-application payment system as the sole method of accepting payments.” So Apple’s requirement that all in-app purchases must go through its own payment processing mechanism would no longer apply to developers like Epic Games and others who want to give their customers a direct payment option.

If the bill becomes state law, companies like Apple and Google would also be banned from retaliating against developers for using an in-app payment system other than their own. In the case of Epic Games, Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their respective app stores because Epic added a direct payment method, which violated Apple and Google’s terms of service for developers.

Elite Dangerous: Odyssey Open Alpha This Month

Frontier Developments announce the PC Alpha for Elite Dangerous: Odyssey will start on March 29th, giving the chance to help test the upcoming expansion for their space game. They give an early look at this early testing in a trailer showing a pre-alpha mission walkthrough. The expansion is expected in late spring, and here's what to expect from the expansion and the alpha test:
Frontier Developments plc (AIM: FDEV) today announced that the PC Alpha for the highly anticipated Elite Dangerous: Odyssey game expansion will start on 29 March. In anticipation of the exciting new gameplay features Commanders will first experience during the Alpha phase, Frontier released a video showing an Odyssey mission playthrough, which features gameplay captured from a raid mission.

The video shows a team of three Commanders plunge into a daring on-foot raid of a military outpost. Their objective: to disable the power center and ultimately render the opposing faction powerless.
Continue here to read the full story.

For Honor Year 5 Season 1 Begins Next Week

Ubisoft announces Year 5 Season 1 gets underway on March 11th in For Honor, their melee combat game. This will begin with a limited-time, in-game event called the Horkos Masquerade. They rend asunder an Asunder Story Trailer to illustrate the news. Here are the details:
Kicking off Year 5, Asunder continues the narrative arc introduced in the world of For Honor in Year 4. The ongoing war continues to pit the warriors of the Chimera Alliance and the Order of Horkos against each other. However, Asunder represents a period of great abundance for the warriors as they enjoy festivities within their respective covenants.

Beginning March 11, a limited-time in-game event called the Horkos Masquerade will let players prove themselves to the Order of Horkos through a new 4v4 game mode: Carousel of Horkos. A free event pass will be available for the duration of the event with 30 tiers to complete.

Along with this event, Year 5 Season 1 Asunder brings an update to the Warden, new armor variation and weapons throughout the season, more in-game events, a Battle Pass and Battle Bundle containing an all-new paired emote along with weapons, executions, effects and more. More details for Year 5 Season 1 will be revealed in a Warrior’s Den livestream today at 12:00PM ET on the For Honor Twitch channel at twitch.tv/forhonorgame.

Retro Machina Demo

A playable demo for Retro Machina is now available for Windows on Steam, offering the chance to check out this single-player action/exploration game set in a retro future. This paves the way for the full release of the game, which is planned for Q2 of this year. Here's more on the game itself as well as the demo:
Set in a world hundreds of years from now that has long been devoid of humanity, Retro Machina puts players in the metal-shoes of a tiny robot as he searches for the answers to a great mystery — “What the heck happened to the humans who used to live here?” Explore a beautiful world inspired by American futurist and social engineer Jacque Fresco’s art and help our plucky protagonist get to the bottom of things.

In this latest demo, players will get a glimpse into the city of Endeavor, a stunning metropolis protected from the outside world by an enormous glass dome. A host of mechanized workers keeps things in tip-top shape, but for whom? And why? Take control of a plucky worker bot who has been tossed out of the city for being imperfect and must explore the ruins of a world chock full of mystery and adventure in his quest to return to Endeavour City. Take control of your mechanical kin and hack your way through five beautiful and unique biomes, solving puzzles, evading traps, and avoiding injury — or worse.
Continue here to read the full story.

Primordials: Battle of Gods Now Free-to-Play

Primordials: Battle of Gods is now free-to-play on both Epic Games and Steam, offering a 1v1 tug-of-war strategy game for Windows. Those who purchased the game during its Early Access period now have every army, champion, and premium skin already unlocked, and are entitled to all future skins for free with the exception of progression and battle pass skins. You can see the game in action in the Launch Trailer, and here's more:
Primordials: Battle of Gods is a tug-of-war 1vs1 strategy game where players rule kingdoms and build armies to war for ever greater power. Compete in 1v1 duels against other Primordials and their armies, simultaneously balancing resource management while choosing upgrade paths for buildings, champions and minions to gain key advantages on the battlefield. While even the greatest Primordial may not control every unit on the battlefield, some have abilities and ultimates that can turn the tide of war.

One Will Rise, Many Will Fall.
Continue here to read the full story.

City Block Builder Announced

Tentworks Interactive announces City Block Builder, a multi-business management game set in 1950s LA coming to PC via Steam this year. This trailer provides a look at gameplay, and here's word:
City Block Builder is a mashup of deep tycoon management games with large-scale city building elements. Set in Los Angeles during the 1950s, the game puts you in the shoes of a young, budding entrepreneur who is determined to build their own business empire. Fresh off the victory of WWII, Los Angeles is the pop culture capital of the world. With the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, designer shops, and finest cuisine money can buy, all under a canopy of clear blue skies, the City of Angels represents the “American Dream” at its most ideal.
Continue here to read the full story.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 in June

CI Games announces a June 4th release date for Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, the next installment in its sharpshooting series. Preorders are now underway for physical console editions, which come with an excusive weapons and skins pack. There are no options to preorder yet on Steam, and it's not clear if these bonuses will be offered to PC gamers. The news is accompanied by a Gameplay Reveal Trailer showing the game in all its gory glory. Here's more:
The Sniper Ghost Warrior series is the best-selling first-person sniping franchise of all time selling over 11 million copies worldwide, and CI Games is eager to continue building on this success with the highly-anticipated sequel. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 marks the most thrilling entry yet, adding an entirely new level of challenge with the extreme-range sniping of targets over 1,000 meters away, in addition to an arsenal of other new features:

  • 1000m+ extreme-range sniping
  • A dramatic single-player campaign set in modern day Middle East, with 5 distinct sandbox maps featuring a variety of fully accessible, interactive areas players can approach their own way
  • Next level realism with authentic gadgets and weapons customizable to fit different styles of play
  • Replayable missions that can be completed in a number of ways, with unlockable rewards for achieving all objectives
  • More intelligent adversaries with improved tactics
  • Next-generation features include enhanced visuals, native 4k resolution, and improved loading times, setting a new benchmark as the best looking Sniper Ghost Warrior game thus far

Motorsport Games Acquiring Studio397 and rFactor 2

Motorsport Games announces it is in the process of acquiring developer Studio397 and the rFactor 2 Simulation Platform (thanks Eurogamer). Here's the news:
Motorsport Games Inc. (NASDAQ: MSGM) (“Motorsport Games”), a leading racing game developer, publisher and esports ecosystem provider of official motorsport racing series throughout the world, announced today that it has entered a binding term sheet to acquire Studio397 BV, the company behind the industry leading rFactor 2 racing simulation platform, from Luminis International BV. The acquisition will see Studio397 continue its work on rFactor 2 while also developing the physics and handling models for Motorsport Games’ forthcoming projects. Motorsport Games expects to utilize its resources and expertise to enhance the rFactor 2 offering, especially in areas highlighted by the racing community.

Studio397 and Motorsport Games have long worked in tandem, with rFactor 2 providing the simulation platform for the highly successful 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual race, as well as the Formula E Race at Home Challenge, both of which were operated by Motorsport Games. It is expected that Studio397 will retain its name and branding with the existing development team and management will remain with the studio.

Dead Age 2 Leaves Early Access Next Week

Publisher Headup and developer Silent Dreams announce the age of Dead Age 2 begins on March 12th, when Early Access will conclude for the survival/RPG sequel and it will be officially released for Windows, macOS, and Linux on GOG.com and Steam. You can get a look at gameplay in the previously released Early Access Launch Trailer, and you can find all the details below:
The newest game in developer Silent Dreams' fan-favorite franchise blends the survival, management, and role-playing game genres with elements of rogue-like gameplay and turn-based combat as players battle to survive the zombie nightmare while rebuilding society. Players will experience a brand new, stand-alone story and all-new features, as they once again brave a world infested with flesh-eating devastation.

Building on the strengths of the original Dead Age — which currently has a "Very Positive" rating on Steam by over 3500 user reviews — players can expect improvements across the board to the mechanics that drew thousands of players to the franchise. Dead Age 2 introduces a new, open world where players can explore unique indoor and outdoor environments, and additional exciting ways to reach over 80 locations including boats, trains, and other vehicles for faster travel. A new, advanced combat system will make the survivors a deadly match against enemies, and an upgradeable 3D base will provide players with the tools they need to survive and thrive, such as a crafting room for creating helpful items and a radio station to help them locate essential supplies.
Continue here to read the full story.

First Strike Classic Next Week

Blindflug Studios announces First Strike Classic will come on March 10th, as a remastered second strike for its nuclear warfare strategy game for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. The refreshed and optimized edition completely revamps the game's AI and includes a reworked user interface. It will replace the versions of the game on Steam, the Google Play Store, and the Apple App Store, and will be a free upgrade for previous owners. Word is this will serve as a new platform for future expansions, the first of which is expected this summer. Here's a trailer and an outline of all that's new and different:
Over the years, the First Strike fan community has requested new content. This remastered version of the game will now serve as the base for future content updates. Those expansions are exclusive to the free version of the game, which are planned to start rolling out in summer 2021.

First Strike: Classic Features:

  • Twelve playable nuclear superpowers - You decide which real-world superpower you play, from the USA to Russia, China or North Korea.
  • Devastating superweapons - Build twelve technologically advanced rockets, from Tridents to the TSAR, unique to each nation.
  • Build rockets and missiles, conquer territories and research new devastating nuclear technologies.
  • Control the world - shoot and defend against nuclear rockets on a 3D globe.

Continue here to read the full story.

Marvel's Avengers XP Rework Coming

Square Enix announces that the launch of the Hawkeye content for Marvel's Avengers along with the next-gen versions of game on March 18th will come with changes to how XP and cosmetics are handled in the superhero adventure. The post explains that players will have to experience more of the game to earn their Experience Points, as the inexplicable linear XP system is being replaced by a curve, a concept as old as the oldest of RPGs. A bug that permitted even faster leveling for players with multiple high-level characters is also being eliminated. These changes will not be retroactive, so players looking to avoid the extra grind still have two weeks to speed-level their characters:
The current XP “curve” isn’t really a curve at all. In most RPGs, the amount of XP you need to level up increases as you gain levels in a curve, but our system is a straight line. This has led to pacing issues, such as skill points currently being rewarded too fast, which may be confusing and overwhelming to newer players. We want each decision to invest in a skill or Heroic to be more meaningful.

Based on these issues, we’ll be increasing the amount of XP needed to level up, starting from around level 25. This amount will increase the closer you get to level 50 so that it will take longer to reach higher levels, and will only affect character level, not power level. If you already have level 50 characters, which is the current maximum, this won’t affect you. If you have a character who isn’t level 50 and want to speed up their progress, take this time to do so before the update on March 18.

Note: Due to a bug we discovered, players could level characters at a blistering pace if they had multiple high-level characters. We intend to fix this issue once Clint arrives.

Diablo II Remaster Can Import Original Diablo II Saves

IGN Middle-East reports that the Diablo II Remaster will actually support the import of saved games from the original version of Blizzard's action/RPG (thanks GamesRadar+). Please excuse me while I look for a ribbon cable to sort through some old hard drives. Here's word:
Can we import original save files into Diablo 2: Resurrected?

Matthew: Yes! Yes, keep those!

[Everyone rejoices!]

Matthew: Back when we were working on [the remaster], we wondered if the old save files would work and we kind of shoved it in and it worked! And we were like, ‘okay, that’s the best feature ever’.

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante Released

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is now available, offering a text-based, "dark fantasy" RPG for Windows from publisher 101XP and developer Sever. This can be found on 101XP.com, the Epic Games Store, GOG.com, and Steam. It features five chapters, and you can get started with chapters one and two, which are offered for free on Steam, where they have met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. A new trailer shows off the game's look, which is bleak and mostly monochromatic, befitting the bleak title. Here's more:
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is a narrative-driven text-based RPG set in a ruthless medieval realm that comes to life on the pages of the protagonist's journal. Though every man's life is predetermined by the Lot they received at birth, it is you who decides whether your character will challenge fate and alter his destiny, rewriting the established laws of the universe.

Your decisions will shape Sir Brante’s personality, revealing new choices and twists of fate in the years to come. Will he be determined, strong-willed, and driven to succeed by any means necessary? Or will he grow up to be a wise, insightful man capable of understanding the inner workings of the world and reading the hearts of the people around him? Develop the personality traits you want to see in the main character and watch his life unfold before your very eyes.

Witness the harsh customs and merciless justice of the Blessed Arknian Empire, and write the main character’s fate as he lives it. Who will he become – a judge, an inquisitor, or a rebel? The choice is yours.
Continue here to read the full story.

Blink-Controlled Before Your Eyes Announced

Publisher Skybound Games and developer GoodbyeWorld Games announce Before Your Eyes, a narrative adventure game that's coming to Steam. This will feature an unusual control scheme whereby the user controls the story through eye blinks, which are detected through their webcam. Here's the Blink and You'll Miss It Announcement Trailer and here's more on how this will work:
A personal tale of self-discovery at its core, Before Your Eyes tells a heartfelt story as players reflect and relive the happy, beautiful, and heartbreaking moments of a life once lived. Players embark upon a thought-provoking journey with the Ferryman who is tasked with shepherding souls to the afterlife. They move through time by using real-world blinking to interact and progress through the story.

Before Your Eyes’ unique blink interaction mechanic offers a novel way for players to control the story and become more immersed, as their progress is determined through their eyes and detected through the player’s webcam. As life flashes before their eyes, each blink will help the players interact with the world or make the memory fade and disappear like a dream. Players move organically through the story and experience its emotional peaks and valleys in the most natural way, until they reach the end of their journey and realize the ultimate truth.
Continue here to read the full story.

Mail Mole Surfaces

Mail Mole is now available, offering a 3D platformer for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Switch, with an Xbox edition to follow tomorrow. PC users can pick this up on Steam where it carries a 20% launch discount. In it, you play as Morty the Mole, a postal worker whose ability to burrow underground probably makes it easier to live up to the whole "neither snow nor rain" vow. The Release Trailer shows the rodent public servant on his appointed rounds, and the description helps explain what it depicts:
Mail Mole is a charming 3D platformer, featuring an unusual hero in his quest to make his most important deliveries yet. Molty, the Mail Mole, will take on the most demanding challenges to reach Carrotland's oldest Mailboxes: endless pits, giant boulders, steep slopes, bouncing platforms, sharp spikes..... tough roads! But when the power is out, you can't send an e-mail!

A World to Discover
Mail Mole takes place in Carrotland, an original colorful world full of surprises to discover! From the calm beaches of Coconut Islands to the freezing heights of Yeti Ridge, Molty will make new friends, race against misterious mech-rivals, solve a few puzzles and try to find all of the delicious collectibles scattered around the world!
Continue here to read the full story.

The Art of Artisan Keycaps

There's an article on PC Gamer on the creation of artisan keycaps, an interesting look at a hobby/business that we weren't previously familiar with, even though the scene has been growing for several years (thanks Neutronbeam). As the piece notes, these keycaps are not necessarily intended to practical as much as fun and aesthetic, so the assertion that these will be "your new PC gaming obsession" may or may not be accurate. There's a profile of Clackeys, a company that's evolved to creating such keys via 3D printing. But there's also an outline the process of creating your own, and this video from a couple of years ago shows the process, which involves resin, silicone molds, and LEGO, of all things. Here's a bit:
Undoubtedly, then, manufacturing your own keycaps is a niche hobby. As Black puts it: "a niche hobby in a niche hobby in a niche hobby." But one that can be highly rewarding if you're prepared to put the effort into it.

From a humble hobby to a business on the side, to a larger-scale operation like Clackeys, though, there's a laundry list of reasons why artisan keycaps could become your next PC gaming obsession. Even if you're more than happy to let someone else do all the hard work and wish to donate your hard earned cash in pursuit of becoming a keycap connoisseur.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

I know people can find Canada Geese a nuisance, but I find the fact that our homeowners association rounds them up every spring extremely distressing. When I first learned of the practice I asked if they were relocated or killed, and the glib answer was "don't know, don't care." The idea they might be killed bothers me a lot, and with the first geese showing up on the pond for the spring this is starting to stress me out. I decided to do a little poking around, and found the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Regulations on the topic. It turns out that trying to drive them off is allowable, but relocating them is not, and killing geese here would require a specific federal permit. It would not surprise me greatly if the HOA is not bothering to get such a permit, so now I need to decide whether I want to get caught up in raising a fuss over this. Have any of you had such a bad experience with uncontrolled goose populations to know that I'm going to regret it if it turns out there's something I can do about this? I'm imagining there's a possible Twilight Zone scenario here where I end up in a hell of my own making.

Goose Round-up Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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