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Demo photo
Join the convoy

Are you suited for the trucker lifestyle in these fine United States of America? I won't let you spend another fidgety night in bed pondering that burning question. You deserve a refreshing slumber.

You can find some much-needed guidance in the newly minted demo for American Truck Simulator, which is said to "identical" to the full game minus the number of jobs available and Nevada. Las Vegas is out, but don't worry -- I have it on good authority you'll be safe and warm in LA.

Any progress you make in the demo (and by that I mean "all of the debt you accrue from botched jobs because safely operating a giant-ass vehicle is hard") will carry into the full version.

American Truck Simulator Demo Released [Steam]

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Q&A photo
Ask us questions, tell us no lies

Let me tell you about questions: I like 'em, I love 'em, and I want some more of 'em. Podtoid 322: Football or Gay Porn? was a great 'cast -- that's shorthand we in the biz use to refer to a podcast. And do you know why it was a great 'cast?

That's a rhetorical question by the way, just another tool of the trade in the 'cast biz. The answer, dear listener, is questions. Not the rhetorical kind. Voi wrote in a doozy o' some good questions here in the comments and we (Kyle/Brett/Darren/Steven) had a rip-roaring good time answering them.

So ask us some more!

Bless.

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Finding Weezer's 'Across the Sea' in Firewatch

Feb 10 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]340578:62211:0[/embed] Firewatch's protagonist, Henry, is in need of something, anything that's therapeutic. That's why he accepted this job in the mountains away from his ever-crumbling life. His wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and her parents took her back to Australia to live with them. Henry didn't have much say in the matter. So, he fled to the isolation of a Wyoming outpost, more alone but not necessarily any more lonely. The only human communication Henry would have for three months was with his boss, Delilah, via walkie talkie. It's the most beautiful part of Firewatch. The two converse regularly -- sometimes in a boss-to-subordinate capacity, sometimes just shooting the shit. On day one, Delilah feels like a stranger on the other side of the radio; by day 70-something, she feels like a best friend. Or, something more. Throughout "Across the Sea," Rivers maybe laments more than anything else. "Why are you so far away from me? I need help and you're way across the sea," he sings. It's clear that he has fallen to the rock star loneliness complex, the thought that even though you're immensely popular, there's no one who's actually close to you. It may be aggrandizing to cling to one fan in Japan, but he did. And it helps. In Rivers' case, his anchor is a world away. For Henry, it's as far as a short-range walkie talkie can reach. It doesn't matter; the difference is all the same. Both have found resounding solace in another person they've never physically met.  As both examples reveal, these types of relationships amplify certain emotions. There's an exchange early in Firewatch where Delilah prods Henry to describe himself. She wants to know what his eyes look like, what he'd be wearing if she caught his glance from across the bar. Rivers and counterpart have the same natural curiosity described in lines like "You wanted to know all about me and my hobbies," and "I wonder what clothes you wear to school, I wonder how you decorate your room." There's a darker side, though. Feelings of insecurity and guilt manifest for both. More accurately, they've always been there, but they surface now. Rivers emphatically states "I could never touch you, I think it would be wrong." Henry's reactions in certain moments make it clear that he's not sure all of this is appropriate, especially while his wife is still alive. He and Delilah aren't romantic, but they're intimate. They're close. Is that any better than a physical tryst? The answer is, well, it's complicated. Firewatch affords a lot of time to walk around and think about these things, but nothing ever becomes any more cut and dried. There's ambiguity and uncertainty, just as there should be. But, like Rivers' Japanese girl, Delilah gives Henry something to lean on. She's a beam of hope in an otherwise dark cloud of loneliness and doubt. That seems like it's probably worth it all. "Why are you so far away from me," indeed.
Firewatch photo
Fall to little pieces

As I trekked through Firewatch's forested western Wyoming landscape, one song kept entering and leaving my head, and it wasn't one of the game's serene, folksy acoustic guitar tunes. It was a song I listened to a lot in high school, but maybe didn't understand the profundity of at the time. It's about sadness and hope, insecurities and loneliness. It's kind of a great analog for Firewatch's strongest quality.

That song is "Across the Sea" by Weezer. In it, lead singer and songwriter Rivers Cuomo tells of an unconventional two-way relationship with a young woman in Japan. "I've got your letter, you've got my song," he ends each chorus. That sounds like any rock star/fan dynamic, but it means more to Rivers. There's an infatuation and it's therapeutic.

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Minecraft photo
Prepare to mine

LNeoX spent ages creating one of his favorite fictional locations -- Anor Londo of Dark Souls fame -- in Minecraft. It's a 1200x1200 map, complete with a dungeon and a minecart system. The screens are definitely awe-inspiring, though the atmosphere is clearly touched up a bit and the reality (in the gallery below) is less haunting.

While people generally gush all over Anor Londo constantly (and the first Dark Souls in general, come at me), I really liked the Drangleic Castle in Dark Souls II as well, and have come to like it quite a bit more after several replays of the Scholar of the First Sin edition. Every Souls game has a least one iconic location like this!

Anor Londo [Planet Minecraft]

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Review: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

Feb 10 // Chris Carter
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (PS4 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: Media VisionPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: February 2, 2016MSRP: $59.99 Cyber Sleuth stands tall as a cute, vibrant adventure full of interesting setpieces. For those of you who scared of hearing "Arurururu-mon" over and over like previous iterations, the tone is amusing without being too cutesy and annoying, and the option to turn off monster voices in battle helps (I'm sure people would love that for Pokemon). In other words, Media Vision found a good balance between the series' mature and childish elements. The developer has also gone full Internet again. In this edition, your avatar is at the epicenter of a cyber world, complete with Digimon battles and a personified world wide web. The setting is EDEN, a virtual consumer-oriented network run by Kamishiro Enterprises, that prides itself on shopping first and foremost, which the game has mild commentary on to boot. Over the years, viruses and hacking have started to run rampant as a fringe movement, however, and that's where said monsters come in. EDEN is beautiful, to put it bluntly. The blank skies are actually an endearing quality that help differentiate it from many other renditions of the Internet, and the upbeat soundtrack is reminiscent of the Persona series in all the best ways. Avatars also chat about real locations like Roppongi and Shinjuku, and it's generally fun to hang around the world even without a purpose, just like in the .hack games. This is partially because the world is believable. The team put a lot of work into building up its lore and foundation. [embed]340181:62208:0[/embed] Cyber Sleuth doesn't exactly look like a current-generation RPG (mostly because it was originally released on the Vita in Japan), but the brief anime cutscenes help breathe some life into it. As a note, the entire cast is comprised of Japanese voices, and the avatar (male or female, your choice) is mostly a silent partner, only speaking to him or herself. The rest of the characters probably talk half of the time. This halfheartedness spills over to the story somewhat, because while the universe itself is compelling, the "hacker" angle doesn't really go anywhere, and suffers from an overly long intro/tutorial section. The Persona comparisons don't stop at the presentation. The world map is also a menu, with larger hub worlds to explore after making a selection. It's deceptively large, because while it's not truly open world (or even open map like Final Fantasy games), you'll unlock so many areas over the course of your adventure that it will take quite a while to explore them all fully. Since you can save nearly anywhere (Cross-Save is also in), the segmented zones don't become anything more than a minor nuisance. The battle system is basically everything you've seen before from the past few decades of JRPGs. There's an easy-to-read timeline on the side showing turn order, and your 'mon can attack, use a skill, guard, or change out. Yes, random battles are in, which is either deliciously or inexcusably old-school, depending on your tastes. At this point in my life, I'm kind of at a middle-ground mindset. I still love JRPGs dearly, especially those with great world-building and infectious casts, but I can do without the random battles. At the very least, it would be nice to see enemies on-screen -- or, as several games have done lately (such as Bravely Default or the modern Final Fantasy re-releases), allow the option to eliminate them at will, though you can reduce the frequency at some point. As expected, 'mon can level up to gain new skills, and since each one can house up to 20, it can get very deep very quickly, especially when you consider that there's over 240 in all. Party members also follow you, which is a nice touch as you're wading through all of the random battles. Feeding, a DigiFarm meta-game, a lab that levels up non-active 'mons, and evolution are also in, so there's plenty to mess around with if you aren't feeling up to a dungeon crawl at any moment. Said dungeons, however, are mostly linear. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth plays it safe in a lot of ways, but for many of you out there, that's going to be perfectly fine. Just don't expect it to convert you if you're sworn off the formula. [This review is based on a retail version of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Digimon Story review photo
More Persona than Pokemon

For the past week or so, people have been asking me non-stop if we're going to review Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. I wasn't actually sure if Bandai Namco was going to send a copy (it sent everything else), so for the game's launch last week, I decided to pick it up and start cracking away. The publisher sent it a few days after I bought it.

But you know what? I actually had a good time, so it's cool.

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World of Warcraft photo
May include everything but Legion

Everybody knows cinema tickets are expensive as all hell. You spend upwards of £20 to sit in a room with a load of noisy, obnoxious arseholes and ultimately get a worse experience than if you just watched it in your underwear at home. That would all remain true for the upcoming Warcraft movie too, had Blizzard not just managed to sweeten the deal somewhat.

According to email surveys sent out by Blizzard, it is considering giving everybody who goes to see Warcraft a free copy of World of Warcraft and all of its currently released expansions. Dubbed the Ultimate Movie Edition, the bundle would also include a month of game time and a free, exclusive item.

While many on reddit initially assumed this was some sort of phishing attempt, a Blizzard rep confirmed that it is indeed considering this deal. There has yet to be an official confirmation that it will be going ahead, but it’s an appealing offer nonetheless.

I’m not entirely sure why somebody who’s never played WoW would sit through the Warcraft movie (other than for my lovely Durotan, of course), but hey, a free copy World of Warcraft might just be a good enough deal for me to put some trousers on…

Blizzard considering giving World of Warcraft to all movie-goers [PCGamesN]

Everybody knows cinema tickets are expensive as all hell. You spend upwards of £20 to sit in a room with a load of noisy, obnoxious arseholes and ultimately get a worse experience than if you just watched it in your underwear at home. That would all remain true for the upcoming Warcraft movie too, had Blizzard not just managed to sweeten the deal somewhat.

According to email surveys sent out by Blizzard, they are considering giving everybody who goes to see Warcraft a free copy of World of Warcraft and all of its currently released expansions. Dubbed the Ultimate Movie Edition, the bundle would also include a month of game time and a free, exclusive item.

While many on reddit initially assumed this was some sort of phishing attempt, a Blizzard rep confirmed that they are indeed considering offering this deal. There has yet to be an official confirmation that it will be going ahead, but it’s an appealing offer none-the-less.

I’m not entirely sure why somebody who’s never played WoW would sit through the Warcraft movie, but hey, a free copy World of Warcraft might just be a good enough deal for me to put some trousers on…

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Mastering game making with two masters of Game Maker

Feb 10 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]340355:62197:0[/embed]
Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes every Sunday at 2:30pm EST!

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[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great video games. It airs live every Sunday at 4:00pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.]

It used to be that making a game in Game Maker was a badge of dishonor for some game developers. Thankfully, the potential for a developer to suffer that stigma seems to be getting smaller every day, thanks in part to developers like Zack Bell and Greg Lobanov who have pushed what the the engine can do in surprising and exciting new directions. 

Wandersong, Greg's upcoming game, integrates singing mechanics in a way that few games have ever attempted. Like John Cleese once said, engaging in play can free us to experience potential epiphany in ways that that few other activities can. In other words, singing to a cloud just may take you to heaven, but only if you give it a try. And who's that bald man selling candy? He looks like I feel. 

As for Zack, he's in an interesting place in his career, having gained a name for himself by helping other aspiring Game Maker developers get more out of the tool, while never reaching a point where he was truly satisfied with his own work. From the sounds of it, that may change with the release of Fara and the Eye of Darkness. The top-down action exploration game seems to actually impress this otherwise un-self-impressed young man. I can't wait to play it at GDC in a few months

Thanks again to Greg and Zack for hanging out with us, and be sure to tune in this Sunday for the live show with Mark Venturelli of Rogue Snail Games (Chroma Squad, Relic Hunters Zero). 

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Mega Man photo
Mega news, man

Mega Man, meet badges. Badges, Mega Man.

According to Famitsu, Capcom will be partnering up with Nintendo to bring the Blue Bomber and company to Nintendo Badge Arcade, in the form of special in-game rewards and boards. Right now the promotion is only announced for Japan, but with Mega Man Legacy Collection coming out soon it would make sense to go worldwide.

It looks like they're limited to the original NES series, as the Robot Masters on display are hand-picked from Mega Man 1-6.

Mega Man [Famitsu]

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The meaning of The Witness (Part 2 of 3)

Feb 10 // seanHTCH
Part 2: The popular perception and influence of The Witness      Of course, we haven't even talked about what might be an elephant in the room: as far as this essay is concerned, up to now, it's basically ignored the fact that: The Witness was super hyped It had an eight-year dev cycle It cost $5+ million, funded mostly by one person Blow hired architects, talented artists, sound designers for it, had some incredibly realistic lighting technology created for it It was widely known for having done these things throughout development. The creator is considered a genius by many people The rhetoric around The Witness's reception by critics and fans - mostly positive - seems to reaffirm that the decision to spend so much time and money was a good thing. Often I hear the quote from Shigeru Miyamoto, "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." Is that really always the case? Let's keep that in mind through the next few paragraphs. One article by a journalist mentions his experience with the 2016 The Witness and 2011 The Witness. To him, the puzzle aspect of the game largely felt unchanged: "I'm fairly sure that, when I played the game all those years ago, there was a podium outside these gates with a narrator's voice on it, explaining why we're here. Instead, there's just a ton more foliage." The differences between the two versions were that in the final game, concrete narratives were struck away and replaced by audio logs of quotes. The biggest change to him was the improved and detailed art style, going from crude and rough to impeccably realistic - more foliage. To work towards its goal of creating an 'area for contemplation,' The Witness seems to have shifted much of its work hours towards improving the visuals of the game and removing a focus from a traditionally authored narrative. I think it is safe to say that in doing so, The Witness's narrative and world, as a result, is not what people would call 'political' - it doesn't explicitly deal with ideas like race, gender, and class. As artist Hito Steyerl mentions in an essay about the politics of labor in the contemporary art world,     "Art is not outside politics, but politics resides within its production, its distribution, and its reception." "If contemporary art is the answer, the question is: How can capitalism be made more beautiful?" She wants us to remember that even if a game is not what we traditionally deem "political" - aspects in how the game is made, how it influences how people talk about it, and how popular it is, even what it chooses *not* to talk about - should be considered political. This is interesting - what happens when we apply these ideas to The Witness? This game perhaps only strives for a few things like polished visuals, good puzzles, and a light narrative with themes that are arguably shallow. Because it's had so much money and labor put into it and had a very vocal creator with a previous game that did well, it has inflated the perception of the game beyond that of just the game. Because of the narrative around the game's creation - that it was created by a "genius," people are seeing it as something profound, something amazing, something to aspire to. Some feel the game proves that "games are art," and that much of the game is or feels "beyond understanding." It's nice for people to have something to inspire them. But what does it mean when this inspiration is lauded as the most important inspiration, compared to any other given games? It goes beyond the normal entertainment kitsch of most games - the shooty-shoots, the collectathons, and so on. But, the game is playing into an ages-old dynamic of what's safe and acceptable in the art world. Art that is 'universal,' that tries to reach beyond boundaries of race, class, gender... art that considers those boundaries as trivial, that tries to make universalizing statements believing that we don't need to think about these problems - how men feel emasculated when they can't live up to a standard saying they need to be confident, women feeling unsafe on the street, and so on. That we don't need to think about these issues in order to progress the human race. Art that, I suppose, can make capitalism seem 'beautiful,' by washing away the blemishes. The Witness is talked about as if it's this formula towards making worthwhile games: a single creator, lots of money, a strong vision. It is talked about as if this is some ideal, that the best ideas are those that ignore certain topics or ideas. The Witness's existence and the way people talk about it continues to support that being a 'genius' is worthwhile and healthy. It is largely unaware or ignores that it does this. It seems to forget the cultural power it has to change this narrative about games and art. The Witness continues to support the myth that less people, more money, and more time, necessarily equates a better game, supporting that a visually beautiful thing can be okay to spend money (from millions of players!) on. That it's okay to pad out an insecure core with millions of dollars of pure spectacle. It supports the idea that the best messages are those that don't get caught up in 'politics,' even though it does not directly argue that itself. It supports the idea that good games are those built up from locking yourself away, working incessantly. And at its core - in that tiny little audio log - there's this speck of insecurity. As if the game knows that it is just putting all this visual fluff on top of a core it isn't happy with. Is that what 'genius' leads to? It seems unhealthy - sad.  Yet this behavior is praised, upheld by the media. The Witness makes no attempt to criticize this problem with the dynamics of popular culture. That feels disturbing to me, as I know many talented artists/game developers making little or no money from their art or games, and can't be a 'genius' in this way. People who can't spend all that money for all that visual, polished fluff. The idea that human drama is too commonplace, that a worthwhile thing to spend millions of dollars on is a beautiful island with good puzzles, that the best we should aspire to is attempts at universal statements about humanity. How does holding that as an ideal influence our future? This culture we've created - and that The Witness, a powerful game, condones - implies that if you can't meet the conditions of 'genius,' then you might be able to make something good, but you'll never be as good as games that have a lot of money, have a single vision, have a lot of time spent on them. What does this mean for developers, artists, people trying to make a living, their self identities - unable to meet this standard for 'profound' art?  It is a philosophy that leads us to idolize some particular creators, and forget everyone else. It's a view of the world that can't see that all art is influenced by philosophy, other media - not just ones that happen to cut and paste some quotes and videotapes into it. It's a view of the world that sorts us into geniuses and non-geniuses, only conferring the title of genius to those who go through the motions and rituals of appearing as one. It leads us to continue being a surface-oriented, visual-primacy society, doomed to ravages of advertising, focus on individual accumulation, distrust of others. Thanks for reading this far! If you like my writing, you can find more over at Medium. If you're interested in my games, check out my current one, Even the Ocean, a longform, narrative-driven adventure platformer coming out summer 2016. In Part 3, I will talk about some games that I feel succumb to this 'genius narrative,' or have drawbacks from having one creator, like FEZ and Undertale. I also mention few games that benefit from the one-creator model of creation. I also conclude the essay with some general thoughts on consumption and creation in games.
Promoted Blog photo
Promoted from our Community Blogs

Assuming you're all caught up with Part 1, Part 2 of this analysis brings up how the way we discuss and perceive The Witness has been warped by its hype, and the media portrayal of both it and the primary game designer, Jonathan Blow.

I'm Sean Han-Tani-Chen-Hogan, and am currently developing the adventure platformer game, Even the Ocean, with a friend, Joni Kittaka. We also made the game Anodyne.

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Don't even bother booting up Destiny for the Crimson Days event

Feb 10 // Chris Carter
Readers have asked when I plan on hanging up Destiny, and I think that time is this week. Nearly all of my raiding group wasn't feeling up to playing, and some, after dabbling in Crimson Days, quit in disgust. Yes, I'm being dramatic -- this is a video game about shooting various aliens with little to no in-game backstories (why didn't they take David Cross' material!)-- but that's just the reality. Destiny is a very good game that's just handled poorly. Let's take a look at what Crimson Days entails. The Tower is decorated with cute Valentine imagery, which is fun for a few minutes until you realize that it's not nearly as in-depth as the previous Festival of the Lost event, despite twice the hype and buildup. Then there's two free basic-level emotes, and a handful of limited edition™ premium ones you can net for roughly $5. The cherry on top is a PVP mode called "Crimson Doubles," which pits two Guardians against another team of two, and then powers-up one member if the other dies (which is not actually beneficial if you play Bladedancer because it ruins your invisible effect -- oops!). Okay, great! So how long does the fun last? Around 30 minutes. That's mostly because Crimson Doubles feels like a repackaged mode that's existed since the game's launch. After 15 or so games I have yet to see a Ghost (much less a 320 Ghost), which is the sole draw of the event for hardcore players. If Doubles were more fun, I'd be inclined to play it a bit to get my elusive Ghost, but since I'd likely have to grind it out for days on end to even see a viable drop,I'm just going to Jerry Seinfeld my way out of the situation now. Even casual fans have been noting how much of a letdown Crimson Doubles is, because regular old Crucible gear is interspersed with the rewards. It's kind of like spending your afternoon doing Nightfalls at a Light Level of 315 to get a set of 305 Ghosts. This albeit limited survey suggests that getting a 320 Ghost is subject to a less than 1/500 chance. The kicker? There's no matchmaking. Wait, what? Yep, due to some technical reason beyond Bungie's control, there is no matchmaking for this two-person, opposite of "massive" event (for those of you who insist the game is an MMO for some reason, despite the largest activity only supporting six players). Because the community is so great, and so passionate, they actually did a lot of Bungie's work for them and created their own fun Tinder-like matchmaking system. Like all of the good matchmaking platforms (DestinyLFG, /r/fireteams), they are unofficial. To add insult to injury, the slightly different Ghosts and the reskinned PVP event is only available for one week. After that, it's back to thinking about how you want to break up with the game. Did Bungie not make enough money to fund real DLC yet? AAA development really isn't sustainable if that's true, and the "10-year plan" for the series is looking rather bleak unless big changes happen on top. It's crazy when you remember how much momentum Taken King had just a few months back.
Destiny photo
Broken Valentines

When Bungie announced the Crimson Days event for Destiny, my heart sunk a bit. I mean the notion is nice, but really, we all know that the Tower makeover is basically just an excuse to sell more microtransactions.

"But you can pay for the [insert popular meme here] Drake Dance." Should I just...uninstall it now, or?

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Project Elea, a sci-fi walking simulator, is coming to a PC near you

Feb 10 // Chris Carter
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Project Elea photo
Maybe it's near you? I'm not your dad

Independent Bulgarian developer Kyodia has unveiled Project Elea today, which is an "interactive storytelling adventure inspired by the work of classic 20th century sci-fi authors." It'll wield the Unreal Engine 4 to tell a story regarding AI and interstellar travel, which either sounds pretty dope or pretty tired, I can't really tell.

Kyodia promises a "dramatic story," citing Stanislaw Lem (Solaris), Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey), and Frank Herbert (Dune) as direct influences -- that's...quite the pedigree! It's only in development for PC, but they're thinking about VR compatibility and other systems (including "Nintendo's upcoming next-gen console").

I'll have to keep an eye on this one.

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Super Smash mods photo
Who needs arms with legs like these?

The Super Smash Bros. series has had its fair share of mods, but I think this just might be my favorite one yet. Modder Smb123w64gb has taken the liberty of swapping everyone on the Super Smash Bros. roster with Bayonetta's character model, and the results are simply fabulous.

I never thought I'd see so many Nintendo characters with legs for days, all trying out their sexiest poses. And then there's Kirby, who has gone full-on Rayman. Lucas has got to be my favorite, though; he's really grown into a confident young man!

I would totally play a few rounds of Smash in Bayonetta mode, although I'd probably crack a rib from laughing too much.

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Sonic the Hedgehog photo
Woaaaaah my head's spinning!

What do you imagine a decent Sonic the Hedgehog film would look like? Fully animated, being able to properly utilise the many colourful and fantastic locations the games are known for? Maybe even a feature-length version of the frankly pretty brilliant Sonic Boom TV show?

Because no matter what you think, I can almost guarantee you that you’re not thinking of a live action-meets-animated mashup. That’d be a silly idea, right? We’ve seen fan videos try it before and... well... the less said about that the better. Seemingly nobody told Sega Sammy, however, as it’s exactly what’s coming in 2018.

In an interview with The World Folio, President and CEO of Sega Sammy Holdings Hajime Satomi confirmed that we’ll be seeing a feature-length Sonic movie in 2018, to be produced by Sony. It’ll combine live-action footage with animated elements, presumably meaning Sonic and friends having their adventures in ‘the real world’:

Sega Sammy Group is currently planning with Sony Pictures to create a live-action and animation hybrid “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie scheduled for release in 2018. Like with this CG animation production, we would like to expand our business into other entertainment areas beyond what we are currently involved.

Now I might be being a bit too hard on this. After all, Sony’s got some pedigree with animated films with stuff like Hotel Transylvania and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I really hope it’s good because I love Sonic the Hedgehog, but I am having flashbacks to the President of the United States having a photo of Sonic and Shadow on his desk in the Oval Office…

Sega’s new era in entertainment [The World Folio]

Sega’s new era in entertainment
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Star Wars photo
Anyone still play this?

I only jump onto Star Wars Battlefront every so often with friends as it got stale pretty fast, but for those of you who still play, there's a double XP event this weekend. This is because the community managed to complete over four million challenges, so everyone gets to reap the rewards. As far as timing goes, it'll run from February 12 until February 14.

Cool? Too bad this doesn't have real online split-screen -- I'd love to play this side-by-side with my wife for Valentine's Day.

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OG Pokestuff photo
Celebrating 20 years in style

Some new, 20th anniversary Pokemon junk is going on sale in Japan this month. February 27, if you want to plan a trip around it. Playing up the re-releases of Red, Blue, and Yellow (and their subsequent themed 2DS models in Japan), Amazon Japan and Pokemon Center retailers will be selling things based around the original artwork.

Cushions: ¥2500
Pikachu hat: ¥5900
Not Pikachu hat: ¥5400
T-shirts: ¥1500
Backpack: ¥8200
Bag: ¥6800
Keychain: ¥450
Pen case: ¥800
File folder: ¥280
Hand towel: ¥400
Bigger towel: ¥1000

Those shirts suck bad. But the pillows, bag and backpack are aight.

Pokemon sprite merchandise to be sold in Japan starting February 27 [Nintendo Everything]

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Pokemon photo
Insert dirty joke here

CoroCoro Magazine has revealed a brand new Pokemon, Magiana. Evidently this 'mon is going to show up in the new movie, where Volcanion will be chasing after it for some unknown reason that will likely be a revelation. Said film has a title, by the way: "Volcanion and the Exquisite Mechanical Magiana." Descriptive!

According to the info so far, Magiana is a "man-made Pokemon" (?), that was created over 500 years ago. Its metallic body is supposed to drive the point home that humans made it, even though there's several existing metallic Pokemon out there. What is Game Freak trying to tell us? That all metal Pokemon are man-made?

CoroCoro Reveal [Serebii.net]

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Tough, but fair photo
Nor should the recommended

The new Hitman boasts bigger crowds than most games, but it has some of the more reasonable minimum (and recommended, actually) required specs that I've seen in a while, according to the Steam page:

Minimum:

  • OS: OS 64-bit Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel CPU Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz / AMD CPU Phenom II X4 940
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 / Radeon HD 7870
  • DirectX: Version 11

Recommended:

  • OS: OS 64-bit Windows 7 / 64-bit Windows 8 (8.1) or Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel CPU Core i7 3770 3.4 GHz / AMD CPU AMD FX-8350 4 GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 770 / AMD GPU Radeon R9 290
  • DirectX: Version 11

If those do indeed kill you and I was being insensitive by assuming you might have such a computer, well, you may console yourself with the PS4 or Xbox One versions. If you don't have either of those, why are you even reading an article about Hitman's specs? Geez. Get a life.

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Dead: Michonne photo
And monthly after that

After months of waiting, Telltale has finally decided to unveil the premier date for The Walking Dead: Michonne. It'll drop on February 23 on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One -- as usual, the iOS and Android versions are coming later. They're actually doing a monthly cadence this time around, with episode two arriving in March, and episode three in April. It's $14.99 for the whole shebang.

I wonder if this will end up feeling more like a gaiden, like 400 Days. I actually liked that one but all I constantly hear about is how pointless it is from fans. The decision to only have Michonne limited to three episodes is interesting as well. If you want to see more, Telltale is showing the first five minutes on its YouTube channel on Sunday at 8:30pm ET.

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Everything is out to kill you in The Flame in the Flood

Feb 10 // Ben Davis
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The Flame in the Flood photo
The wilderness is not your friend

After a successful Kickstarter campaign a couple years back, The Molasses Flood is set to release its first game, The Flame in the Flood, later this month. The team, comprised of industry veterans who have worked on AAA games such as BioShock, Rock Band, and Halo, has been hard at work on this “rogue-lite” river adventure which seems to be a modern-day take on Oregon Trail, only the trail is a river and you never have to ford it (at least I hope not).

Players will be foraging for supplies, crafting tools, evading predators, and generally fighting for survival on their way down the unforgiving, procedurally-generated river. They won't have to go it alone, though, as the faithful canine companion, Aesop, will keep players company and help out in any way he can.

The newest teaser trailer shows off some of the predators that can be found in the surrounding wilderness and how to deal with them. You might want to employ a different strategy around the bears, though. It's probably best to stay very, very far away from the bears.

The Flame in the Flood will be coming to Xbox One, PC, and Mac on February 24 for $19.99.

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See just how much the gameplay has changed in Valkyria: Azure Revolution

Feb 10 // Steven Hansen
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First gameplay video photo
Guess it really ISN'T a strategy game...

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It's been clear from the get-go that Valkyria: Azure Revolution is a spinoff from the Valkyria Chronicles series that graced the PS3 and PSP. It is much more anime-y, there are overwrought swords and melee combat, as well as this smaller party system more like a JRPG than a turn-based strategy game.

This demo, which is included in the Japanese release of the PS4 version of the original game, shows you just how different the gameplay is. And it's pretty different, with apparent zoned instances along a linear track, unless that's solely reserved for this stage as a kind of tutorial. There are even combat rolls and super Lolita attire. 

Honestly...eh, I am not feeling it. I just replayed the original last year and it holds up real well, especially in how much care was put into each stage and making it distinct in terms of layout and strategy. This is more like an action RPG with live character swap among the three. There's even a giant enemy crab boss at the end. Oh well. It's not the game I wanted, but I'll likely still give it a shot. Otherwise, there's always XCOM 2 and Fire Emblem: Awakening.

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Hands-on: I like the new Hitman, and its episodic model

Feb 10 // Steven Hansen
[embed]339955:62169:0[/embed] Okay, so, that out of the way, yep, the Prologue does take you back 20 years to 47's entrance into the ICA (like a pimp, but for murderers) and first meeting with his British-accented handler out in some Siberian-looking snowy wilds. The amount of story there, besides peoples' surprise at 47's murder prowess, is minimal, and it's mostly about setting up training missions to help get people acquainted with the Hitman style. And they're actually really cool because instead of virtual reality or whatever, the missions are actual, constructed sets. For instance, there is a yacht infiltration, but the boat is landlocked and there are blue tarps around it on the floor representing water (all the people, too, are, I suppose, ICA staff acting a part -- not sure where the secret organization finds dozens of extras, but, whatever). Beyond that cool touch, they are legitimate Hitman-style missions, closer in size to older entries. The boat adventure tasks you with killing "The Sparrow," a legendary thief half-heartedly trying to go clean, while introducing distraction techniques, disguises, acquired weaponry/items. Various costumes will grant you access to various parts of the ship -- security will keep you from walking straight on, but you can go around, choke out a maintenance worker, and work your way into the ship's underbelly and up towards the waitstaff, then clobber one of those fools. And maybe then just take up position at the bar and pour The Sparrow's lady a drink laced with poison. Me, I snuck into the room where he was doing business and shot both him and his associate in the head. Second bit in the prologue involves a Soviet defector whom I was able to kill by disguising myself as a mechanic and fiddling with the ejector seat he was meant to test per safety rules in the jet he was making his escape on. Shot his ass right through the roof and walked slowly away while everyone freaked out. I keyed onto the option because Hitman will offer some guidance in the form of Opportunities. Generally, you'll overhear some dialogue (if you stop and listen at the right place, right time) that hints at a murder solution (or towards a murder solution, i.e. letting you know where a target will be and when). If you decide to track that opportunity, it leaves breadcrumbs to the next bit in the form of UI markers on the map. Hitman purists, however, can turn them off completely, and there's no shortage of ways to do a murder, especially when it really opens up with the first mission, Showstopper, which takes place in an enormous mansion in Paris during a fashion show. One fun solution in Paris (also offered as an opportunity): the German model headlining the show looks quite a bit like 'ol McFurrowed-Brow, hint hint, wink wink. There are two targets here, a power couple in the fashion world secretly dealing undercover operator names to highest builder on the sly. The fashion show is huge, brimming with several hundred NPCs, from reporters to wait staff to models to socialites, while the dual targets encourage you to do something cool and stealthy (so as to not raise alarms and get into a firefight before you can take out the second). In addition to Prologue and Paris, the initial $15 (or $60 if you're a gambling man) also opens up Contracts, player-made hits using the same sandbox, as introduced in Absolution. The feature was something of an afterthought in the latter but ended up hugely successful, played by over 40% of players. One cool addition is the Elusive Targets, which appear for a limited time (in real-world hours) and only afford you one shot at making the assassination, like real life. Your success or lack thereof is tracked in your profile. They'll be much harder to suss out, too, requiring some detective work (eavesdropping, etc). These high stakes missions could end up a surprise high point. There are also developer-designed Escalation missions. The first -- again, set in the same Paris sandbox with the story-mode targets still present -- required me to kill a certain, new NPC with a saber (which you can only acquire in a certain area). From there, difficulty ramps up as parameters are added. The next rendition requires killing the same man with a saber, but also hiding the body within 90 seconds after the kill. And as you can see we're getting into the realm of replay and re-use. Player-made Contracts and Escalation missions are effectively the same as the lone story mission, but with different goals. If all you want is to keep fulfilling tasks until the game is over, Hitman's set up might not be for you. But I think the series works best as a creative sandbox you have fun and experiment with, which is why the $10 release structure for new areas makes sense for me, so long as the new areas are varied enough in their killing options and layouts. I enjoyed skulking about the Paris level for a few hours and there are still experiments I'd like to try -- not to mention that I never did finish the mission with finesse (I always cocked up by the second hit for a noisy kill, subsequent firefight, and inelegant escape). That you can test the waters with the first $15 episode -- if you don't like it, you're unlikely to like any more areas -- is an alright option as far as I'm concerned.
Hitman hands-on photo
Hands-on Ste-view

Have you ever wondered just how Cueball McFurrowed-Brow became the famously good killing man of the Hitman series' glory years? Of fucking course not, which is why the need to string Hitman: Absolution together into some S&M nun story fell kind of flat last generation.

The new, cleanly-named Hitman from IO Interactive does want to tell you Agent 47's origin. This takes place in the Prologue, which is one part of the first chunk of game in Hitman's "episodic" release schedule. That years-long, nose-buried Absolution development cycle? IO wants to be a bit more agile than that from now on, so we have another Street Fighter V-style "games as platform," at least for 2016.

The short of it: pay $15 for the Prologue + first location (Paris) on March 11, then $10 per location every time a new one is loosed or pay $60 from go and wait for your meal piece by piece. There's also a $50 Upgrade Pack you can tack on to the initial $15, but why? Why would you do that? You're already paying $5 more than $60 for your pansy-ass caution, why not just do it in the $10 increments? Also, the whole thing gets a full physical release towards the end of 2016.

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Mad Catz photo
Our thoughts are with everyone affected

Over a third of Mad Catz staff will be let go by the end of April 2017.

Following missed financial targets, the hardware company is expected to save $5 million by cutting 37% of staff.

Despite having its second-highest quarter to date (a 114% year-on-year increase to $65M), net income is down by 10% to $1.2M with the previous nine months chalking up losses of $4.4M.

According to new president and CEO Karen McGinnis, Rock Band 4 sales were “strong” but initial sales forecasts were overestimated.

Rock Band sell-through was lower than originally forecast resulting in higher inventory balances as well as lower margins due to increased promotional activity with retailers,” said McHinnis.

“Looking ahead, we are confident in our ability to further monetise our diverse range of products and are focused on updating and improving many of our product offerings to better leverage the opportunities we see ahead.”

Maybe charging eleventy gazillion dollars* for each RB4 peripheral dampened sales?

Our thoughts and best wishes to all who’ve been affected by these cuts. <3

* May be an exaggeration

Mad Catz lays off 37% of staff despite “strong” Rock Band 4 sales [VG24/7]

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Ty the Tasmanian Tiger photo
Not a full remake, more an HD re-release

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When Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 4 released on Steam last year, developer Krome Studios teased that the previous games would also eventually make their way to the platform. It has now finally, officially announced that the original Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is coming to Steam Early Access in March

The video up top shows some of the nice tweaks being made for the re-release, including a higher resolution, more detailed backgrounds, and the inclusion of anti-aliasing. It doesn’t look too different, but as far as HD re-releases go it definitely isn’t the worst one.

While I am excited to see how this turns out, it does annoy me somewhat that the game is being released for early access. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was released back in 2002, so the idea of it coming back as an unfinished game 14 whole years after its PS2 and Xbox launch is questionable as hell. This really feels like the sort of thing Krome should’ve just quietly worked on until it was done.

But hey, if you feel like paying for an unfinished port of a 14-year-old game, you can do so when it hits early access in March. The rest of us can just impatiently wait for it to be done.

When Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 4 released on Steam last year, developer Krome Studios hinted at the previous games also eventually making their way to the platform. They’ve now finally, officially announced that the original Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is coming to Steam Early Access in March

The video up top shows some of the nice tweaks being made for the re-release, including a higher resolution, more detailed backgrounds, and the inclusion of anti-aliasing. It doesn’t look too different, but as far as HD re-releases go it definitely isn’t the worst one.

What annoys me somewhat is that the game is being released for early access. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was released back in 2002, so the idea of it coming back as an unfinished 14 whole years after its PS2 and Xbox launch is questionable as hell. I’m glad that Ty is finally making a comeback, but this really feels like the sort of thing Krome should’ve just quietly worked on until they were done.

But hey, if you feel like paying for an unfinished port of a 14-year-old game, you can do so when it hits early access in March. The rest of us can just wait for it to be done.

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The Sonic Twitter is hinting at something pretty huge

Feb 10 // Joe Parlock
It all started with this tweet: [embed]340401:62199:0[/embed] Looks innocent enough, right? Sega just poking some fun at musician Madeon’s debut album, Adventure. Well, surrounding the image there are a series of rune-like shapes, and those shapes imply there’s a heck of a lot more going on. Those symbols are something Madeon has used before to sneak secret messages into his cover art. Once translated, the words on the tweet read: HELLO HUGO THE SECRET IS INSIDE THE EMPIRE WE CAN GET IT BACK THE FATED SON OF DAEDALUS ADD THE NUMBERS But… numbers? There aren’t any numbers! How we can we add numbers when they don’t exist?! Well, subreddit /r/monstercat has figured out that the messages refer to separate tracks on the special edition of Madeon’s Adventure. “THE SECRET IS INSIDE THE EMPIRE” may refer to track #11, Pixel Empire.  “WE CAN GET IT BACK” is a message written in the rune-y alphabet on the back of the single Technicolor, which appears as track #17. Finally, “THE FATED SON OF DAEDALUS” refers to Icarus of greek mythology, and is also the name of the 13th track on Adventure. Add those numbers up, and you get 41. This is where things either get very cool or very meme-y. Waaay back in November, the Sonic twitter tweeted at Game Grumps host Arin ‘Egoraptor’ Hanson, who is known for his intense hate of Big the Cat and his friend Froggy. The tweet hints at something that’ll be coming on April Fool’s Day, or in the American date format… 4/1: [embed]340401:62200:0[/embed] So either Sega is pulling the longest prank in history, with it winding up in it telling us we must increase our velocity… or it's  gearing up to announce something big. With the title of Madeon’s album being Adventure, could this be the year we finally see a Sonic Adventure 3 happen? It all started with this tweet: [embed]340401:62199:0[/embed] Looks innocent enough, right? Sega just poking some fun at musician Madeon’s debut album,Adventure. Well, surrounding the image there are a series of rune-like shapes, and those shapes imply there’s a heck of a lot more going on. Those symbols are something Madeon has used before to sneak secret messages into his cover art. Once translated, the words on the tweet read: HELLO HUGO THE SECRET IS INSIDE THE EMPIRE WE CAN GET IT BACK THE FATED SON OF DAEDALUS ADD THE NUMBERS But… numbers? There aren’t any numbers! How we can we add numbers when they don’t exist?! Well, subreddit /r/monstercat has figured out that the messages refer to separate tracks on the special edition of Madeon’s Adventure. “THE SECRET IS INSIDE THE EMPIRE” may refer to track #11, Pixel Empire.  “WE CAN GET IT BACK” is a message is written in the rune-y alphabet on the back of the singleTechnicolor, which appears as track #17. Finally, “THE FATED SON OF DAEDALUS” refers to Icarus of greek mythology, and is also the name of the 13th track on Adventure. Add those numbers up, and you get 41. This is where things either get very cool or very meme-y. Waaay back in November, the Sonictwitter tweeted at Game Grumps host Arin ‘Egoraptor’ Hanson, who is known for his intense hate of Big the Cat. The tweet hints at something that’ll be coming on April Fool’s Day, or in the American date format… 4/1: [embed]340401:62200:0[/embed] So either Sega are pulling the longest prank in history, with it winding up in them telling us we must increase our velocity… or they’re gearing up to announce something big. With the title of Madeon’s album being Adventure, could this be the year we finally see a Sonic Adventure 3 happen?
Sonic photo
Might actually be Sonic Adventure 3

The Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account is teasing something. If it isn’t just memes (which we’ve all come to expect from the Sonic Twitter), then it’s something potentially huge.

[embed]340401:62199:0[/embed]
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And the winner of the Games Journalism Award...not a games journalist!

Feb 09 // Steven Hansen
It's not just games of course. Rob Kuznia, a newspaper journalist in California, had already left for a PR job by the time he won a Pulitzer prize last year for his (and a few others') reporting work. (And of course this year we lost Grantland and The Dissolve; most of Destructoid's original competitors are closed now, too) A former Sports Illustrated writer with a 25-year-long career, now out of work, said: "The reality in sports journalism in 2015 is this: You need to be willing to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and do so with a smile on your face...and not worry about being well paid." It is the exact same for games journalism, and we miss out on a lot of talent accordingly as folks who are good at this, understandably, finally get fed up and stop working a challenging job for wages that make even middle class luxury look like a pipe dream (you mean I can write my rent check without looking in my account!?) Heck, also nominated for the Game Journalism award? SB Nation's Jon Bois, of whom I am a dork-level fan. I don't think he calls himself a journalist and he definitely doesn't call himself a games journalist, because he is a sports writer. SB Nation is a sports site. And his series, Breaking Madden, is definitely some of the best video game writing you can read. It's almost sad, but then it's funny because I think of Bois' 50,000 word novella over at SB Nation starring a fictional Tim Tebow in a surreal-ass fake Canada that doesn't have phone lines, but instead a giant network of tubes that have messages screamed into by little kids working as "shouties." Even if you don't care about Madden, football, or sports, Bois' is eminently entertaining. So congrats to Cara Ellison, whose years of barely making rent while entertaining and enlightening readers got an additional sliver of recognition tonight (and no additional money).
NY Game Awards photo
Ellison nabs NY Game Awards prize

The 5th Annual New York Game Awards took place tonight in Arizona. Nah, nah. It was in New York. I fooled you for a second, though, I bet. The event is put on by the New York Videogame Critics Circle, which counts Samit as one of its members. Sports!

Anyways, the award show gave out its inaugural Game Journalism Award, meant to "serve as an affirmation of the value of games journalism, and as a denouement for the hard work and creativity demonstrated by the journalistic and critical community throughout the year." That's the year 2015, by the by, which I am still writing on all my checks!

Cara Ellison took home the 2015 Game Journalism Award. Her opus last year, to go with regular columns and other great writing, is Embed With… The crowd-funded series was a roughly year-long stint of spending each month with a new game developer for some meaty, embedded journalism. It's damn good and has since been compiled into a book you can buy, Embed with Games: A Year on the Couch with Game Developers, while the original online versions are still up as well.

Another interesting thing about the games journalist whose work was so revered by her peers that she won this inaugural award? No longer a games journalist!

Here's her goodbye from last May. It's a good read and bitterly amusing in its matryoshka nesting of a goodbye from Kieron Gillen, who spent 10 years as a games journalist (PC Gamer, then co-founded Rock Paper Shotgun) before splitting in 2010. As Gillen wrote then, "games journalism isn't a career for life yet." Clearly it still isn't as Ellison had to jump ship, too, despite peerless work. If the best in the industry can't find sustainable work, who can? If you're wondering why the field is such a revolving door of people.

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Undertale toys photo
Dibs on the dog

Look, I'm going to level with you, internet, I haven't actually played Undertale yet. You don't need to boo and hiss at me, I know I'm scum. I've wanted to play it since it came out, but after seeing these amazing Undertale figurines (especially the little dog in armor) available for pre-pre-order at Fangamer, I think I'm going to move it up the backlog to the very next game I play.

You can't actually purchase these figures yet, but you can submit your name, email, and figure preference to be notified when they are available for pre-order. I'd roll my eyes, but apparently the demand is so high for these little guys, Fangamer needs as big a head start as it can get. 

There's also a plushie Toriel available if you like your collectibles cuddly. I haven't even played the damn game and I have to admit it's pretty cute. No wonder people won't shut up about it. 

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Rez, Lumines dev's puzzle RPG 18 coming west

Feb 09 // Kyle MacGregor
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Tetsuya Mizuguchi photo
For iOS and Android devices in Q2

If you're a fan of Testuya Mizuguchi's work (Rez, Lumines, Space Channel 5, Child of Eden) and enjoy smartphone games, well buddy, let me tell you, 2016 is looking like one hell of a year.

In addition to a pair of new Lumines games coming out later this year, publisher GameSamba has announced plans to bring Mizuguchi's trippy mobile puzzle RPG 18 to North America by "Q2"

Go ahead and complain about mobile games in the comments, but I'm in the market for something new to play in line at the post office, and that art is pressing all the right buttons. A game that can evoke Persona, Catherine, and The Cat Returns all at once is clearly doing something right.

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Rocket League photo
Three DLC packs included

As promised, Rocket League is coming to Xbox One soon. Developer Psyonix plans to self-publish its darling soccer-with-cars multiplayer game on Wednesday, February 17 for $19.99. I'm thrilled for a new audience to discover if it's as good as folks say (it somehow is).

This port includes three DLC packs (Supersonic Fury, Revenge of the Battle-Cars, and Chaos Run) at no extra cost, amounting to even more cars and customization items. Xbox One players are also getting a pair of exclusive vehicles based on Gears of War and Sunset Overdrive among other Xbox-centric cosmetics like the Overcharge Rocket Trail shown above.

According to Psyonix, Rocket League is now "11 million players strong." I'd say that's deserved.

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Feminist Frequency makes new Twitter Trust and Safety Council

Feb 09 // Steven Hansen
So Twitter is at least paying lip service to the idea of online safety with the formation of the "Trust & Safety Council," which includes games critique's Feminist Frequency as one of its 50 council members from 13 different regions. While some digital-focused, newer organizations like FemFreq are represented, it includes groups with decades-long histories. The council, "provides input on our safety products, policies, and programs," which Twitter supposedly has, even though it is currently not against Twitter rules to basically be as aggressive, rude, and offensive as possible to others. Meanwhile, there was huge backlash during the weekend over the idea of Twitter fucking about with removing the chronological timeline view it is known for in favor of a Facebook-style wacky, wild algorithm shit -- a decision that no one who uses Twitter wants. Twitter's head has denied that this change was in place for next week, but the company also randomly turned "favorites" (stars) into "likes" (hearts) recently for no fucking reason. Unfortunately, Twitter's rate of new members is steeply declining, so the folks running things must be panicked as hell as other social media platforms like Instagram aren't displaying that same kind of ceiling. Twitter stocks actually hit an all-time low yesterday. You screwed up not taxing the hell out of the company when you could, San Francisco.
Twitter photo
Among many members

I love Twitter.

[embed]340330:62195:0[/embed]

Love it.

But the quasi-public nature of it means it's kinda of like plopping down at a crowded beach. You don't expect fellow beach goers to come up to you and interrupt conversations between you and your friends, or tell you that they're going to kill you later tonight, but it happens. On Twitter, I mean. Beach people are usually pretty nice in San Francisco, except for the assholes from the golf club arcoss the street that ride their horses down at Fort Funston and leave pounds of shit everywhere and threaten the safety of all the cute pups.

This is exacerbated by online anonymity but not the lone reason, given how many people post extreme, offensive comments via their personal Facebook page, like "i'm going to kill your family while you're at work" or "ciabatta is the best bread." Truly disgusting.  

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Lumberyard photo
Finally, some Legal Fun

Normally, the Amazon Web Services Terms of Service is an interminable slog of legalese and jargon, a veritable Dagobah-esque mire only decipherable by super ambitious law-school kids. And with the addition of Amazon's new Lumberyard game engine come new rules to follow, including a clause that lays out Lumberyard usage in the case of a zombie apocalypse.

Yes, nerds sure do love their zombies, even going so far as to legally define a zombie apocalypse for the sheer purpose of a joke you would only notice if you bothered reading the Terms of Service. That's the kind of commitment I can get behind.

The clause can be found in point 57.10, restricting the use of Lumberyard in "life-critical or safety-critical" systems, like "medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat." Basically, Amazon is covering its ass in the event someone builds, say, a self-driving car using Lumberyard and the car ends up killing a whole bunch of people.

Of course, you can throw all that out in the event of "a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization." This epidemic will need to be defined by the Center for Disease Control, or a "successor body," like that one guy from the first season finale of The Walking Dead.

So, hypothetically, a scrappy band of nerds could use Lumberyard to program robots (military use in connection with live combat) to fight zombies, and it would be legal as defined by Amazon's terms of service. I call this hypothetical film...Lumber(ing)yard. You're welcome, Hollywood.

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