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Epic Games announces new $19.99/mo Unreal Engine 4 subscription plan photo
Epic Games announces new $19.99/mo Unreal Engine 4 subscription plan
by Dale North

Anyone can gain access to Unreal Engine 4 now with a new subscription plan, priced at $19.99 a month. This was announced this morning in a GDC press conference by Epic co-founder Tim Sweeney. 

With this new plan, users can deploy to four platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Developers will pay 5 percent of revenues for full access to Unreal Engine 4. This fee gets you the tools, access to full C++ source code (via GitHub), documentation, and forum support access. This new plan is available today, letting new developers download tools and get started right now (or in a few minutes -- the site is down right now).

Sweeney calls today the start of something new for Epic Games. He said that they’ve been working quietly behind the scene on new technology for awhile now. The future of the engine is inspired by a lot of changes in the game industry. The assumption was that bigger and better was going to be the continual goal for the future of gaming, but things have changed since, with mobile and VR entering the scene in a big way.

The newest form of  Unreal Engine 4 was built to be highly usable for developers of all sizes.   Sweeney says that even if you don’t know how to program, you could build a game in Unreal Engine 4. He confident enough about its ease of use that noted that the engine could potentially be a new outlet for the motivated Minecraft player.

It used to cost many millions of dollars and lots of licensing paperwork for AAA developers to use UE4 to make games. Sweeney admits that this is an outdated plan now. They’re shooting for practicability and accessibility with their new business mode; every developer on earth will have access to all the tools Epic has when they develop their AAA games now. For $20, cancelable at any time. How great is that?

As an example, they showed off a game they made with the tools, called Tappy Chicken. It was developed in two days with Blueprint in UE4, with no programming. Other examples of the tools were shown -- more on these later today.

You'll find the full details on this new plan here.

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The best and worst games of the week - A Bravely January  photo
The best and worst games of the week - A Bravely January
by Wesley Ruscher

January has come and gone, but that doesn't mean there weren't some great games to play. Just look at all the amazing "indie" games that hit the PC this month.

We had the fruition of two KickStarter campaigns finally see the light of day -- The Banner Saga and the first act of Double Fine's Broken Age -- the quirky Octodad, and the totally rad OlliOlii on PS Vita.

There was definitely some great stuff to keep us busy this month, and February is looking just as smooth. I can't even tell you how much I can't wait to get my thumbs on Bravely Default on the 3DS. Well... I guess I just did. 

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Review: Nvidia Shield  photo
Review: Nvidia Shield
by Jim Sterling

[Disclosure: Nvidia has provided Destructoid with a number of computers for PC game review purposes in the past. If you feel that may make our reviews of any of their products "biased" or "paid off," you are welcome to.]

The number of handheld devices hitting the market are becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of, a situation made all the more overwhelming by the continued erosion of the boundary between smartphones, tablets, gaming devices, and machines built solely for the purposes of showing your friends that "Blurred Lines" video. 

Several oddities have cropped up in this maelstrom of technology, one of which is the Nvidia Shield. Joining the Razer Edge in the "almost shockingly niche" category, this Android-powered, Steam-streaming, undoubtedly powerful system is heavy, expensive, and focused on a unique brand of gamer -- a cocktail of concerns that has led to many a cynical attitude toward it. 

I was cynical. Hopeful, as I am for all new gadgets, but cynical nonetheless. Having spent a good deal of time with the Nvidia Shield, however, I absolutely love the thing. It's still heavy, it's still expensive, and it's certainly going to appeal to a select few. Those few, however, will adore it. 

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The Ouya is a nice idea ... at least  photo
The Ouya is a nice idea ... at least
by Jim Sterling

The Ouya is on sale today, and I've spent a few days with the final retail unit. For $99, you can get your hands on a cute little cube that runs a selection of Android games, a handful of apps, and is designed for amateur developers to create from home to their heart's content. 

It all sounds very promising, and Ouya is nothing if not promising. It is, in fact, full of all sorts of potential. Just be warned, however, that if you spend $99 today, that's what you're getting. Potential.

Potential that may or may not ever be fulfilled. 

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The best and worst games of 2013: May Returns photo
The best and worst games of 2013: May Returns
by Jordan Devore

May was largely a quiet month for new game releases. Despite what felt like a slower schedule, especially coming off of a rather absurd April, here on Destructoid we did have a pair of 10s with the portable Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and captivating, clay-fueled puzzler The Swapper. Quantity isn't everything!

One thing is for sure, May presented us with an eclectic group of titles. Take a look at some of the genres represented in this breakdown of everything we covered.

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OUYA impressions: Hands-on with the early backer unit  photo
OUYA impressions: Hands-on with the early backer unit
by Casey Baker

When the OUYA was first revealed on Kickstarter last July, my curiosity was instantly piqued. Being the kind of gamer who values sheer fun and general style and aesthetic over pure graphical processing power, the more I read about OUYA, the more infatuated I became with the idea of a cheap, open-ended console that would allow independent developers to unleash their crazy ideas upon the world.

This is perhaps why at approximately 3:00 in the morning of August 29 I decided, "What the hell?" and threw down the requisite cold hard cash to become a part of gaming history, even though the OUYA creators were well beyond their initial goal of just under a million bucks -- already breaking that amount eight times over and then some.

Fast forward to early May, two months beyond the promised date for when early backers would receive their console, and the small, admittedly sleek device sits among all of my other much larger and more intimidating consoles, waiting for its day in the sun.

And if I'm to be perfectly honest, that little Android go-getter is probably going to be facing a long wait.

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The best and worst games of 2013: Hyperdimension April photo
The best and worst games of 2013: Hyperdimension April
by Jordan Devore

This review recap is brought to you by Daft Punk's Alive 2007, which fueled the incessant copying and pasting efforts needed to put one of these together. I don't feel like I've blinked since I started working on this, but it's worth it!

April was notable in that most of what we covered was smaller-scale and released through digital channels rather than at retail. We had Dead Island Riptide, sure, but there was also the likes of Don't Starve and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Speaking of which, did you notice that video reviews are back? There's going to be plenty more of those on the way.

Which games released in April, if any, decimated your free time?

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Review: Sonic Dash photo
Review: Sonic Dash
by Chris Carter

Not content with taking the Doodle Jump formula and simply placing Sonic in it with Sonic Jump, Sega has tapped a new mobile avenue, the 3D endless runner. Surprisingly, this sub-genre is the one that actually suits Sonic the most -- perhaps more than any IP ever could.

But as you can imagine, with the problematic and pushy nature of in-app-purchasing, Sega's handling of the franchise in general, and some developer's inability to translate quality into the mobile arena, a whole heap of things could go wrong.

Thankfully, they mostly don't. Mostly.

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Review: Pro Controller U photo
Review: Pro Controller U
by Patrick Hancock

[Update: For clarification, this product is not made by ThinkGeek and simply retails on the site. The headline of this post has been changed to reflect this. Sorry for any confusion!]

The Pro Controller U really appears to be a wonderful deal at first glance. It's a controller that functions with the Wii, Wii U, and can even be paired to Android devices via Bluetooth. However, there are quite a few issues with this controller, one of which is a clear sign of sleazy advertisement.

Specifically, this does not function as a Wii U Pro Controller, despite what the name may lead you to believe.

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The best and worst games of 2013: Infinite March  photo
The best and worst games of 2013: Infinite March
by Jordan Devore

What a month! Now that March is well behind us (and we remembered to take a look back to ponder), I feel confident in saying that between BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider, and yet another Gears of War, we are well into this year of big-budget gaming.

Take a look at everything we reviewed in March -- there's a lot! What was your jam? What did you miss out on? I still need to grab copies of HarmoKnight and Luigi's Mansion for my 3DS. The poor guy has gotten dusty and now only I'm to blame for it.

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Behold OUYA's launch lineup of 104 titles photo
Behold OUYA's launch lineup of 104 titles
by Tony Ponce

[Image from brentalfloss the comic]

I wasn't interested in OUYA in the beginning, but I've warmed up to the tiny box. A console just for free or free-to-play digital distribution games? After the parade of shame and disappointment that is the home console space proper, I'm ready for a machine that encourages simple pleasures over whatever nonsense big companies want to shove down our throats this week.

OUYA started arriving at Kickstarter backers' homes a few days ago, but the official release is set for June 4 -- that's my birthday, if you were wondering what to get me. A hefty 104 titles will launch with the box, including Canabalt, Giana Sisters, and Final Fantasy III. In addition to games, there will be other software such as a TwitchTV app and various console emulators.

I don't recognize most of the names on the list -- I'm sure a lot of them are garbage. That's the nature of the beast, I suppose. We'll see how well the machine is received once it drops. In the meantime, check the full launch lineup below.

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First Ouya reviews hit the Internet  photo
First Ouya reviews hit the Internet
by Jim Sterling

An early handful of Ouya reviews have popped up online as the system makes its way into the hands of early adopters. There's been a steady buzz revolving around the highly hackable, Android-based home console, but initial reactions have been lukewarm at best. 

Although the machine seems to have some decent points, common complaints include a seemingly unfinished user interface, hardware that feels cheap in the hand, and a worrying amount of lag between the controller and the console. Engadget and The Verge both bring heavy criticism to the table, and ultimately advise against an investment at this stage. 

It's worth noting that the Ouya currently shipping seems to be a placeholder, with talk of the official June release featuring a more finished machine. Even so, those looking forward to getting an early one are being warned.

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Review: Alien vs. Predator: Evolution photo
Review: Alien vs. Predator: Evolution
by Jim Sterling

When the makers of Alien vs. Predator: Evolution saw the negative press and subsequent fallout regarding Aliens: Colonial Marines, they must have laughed. I imagine them bellowing obnoxiously, roaring their gleeful approval that no matter what their game will be like, there's no way it could be considered anywhere near as bad. 

Sadly, these hypothetical developers are wholly mistaken. Evolution is ironically titled, as backward and inefficient as it is. It manages to do the seemingly impossible and rival Colonial Marines in its awfulness. Just when Aliens fans thought things could only get better, along comes Angry Mob Games to demonstrate that, no, the franchise isn't done being pissed on yet. 

In fact, the flood's only just begun. 

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Android rip-off dev did not know who Yoshi was photo
Android rip-off dev did not know who Yoshi was
by Tony Ponce

A few days ago, we learned about Era's Adventures 3D, a new Android game that stars an unlicensed character model of Mario's faithful mount Yoshi. It sounds incredibly ballsy that anyone would pull such a stunt and not anticipate the consequences. As it so happens, the creator is claiming complete ignorance about Yoshi's identity.

In responding to Ars Technica, Era dev Botond Kopacz stated, "Actually this is an indie game developed by one developer, so due to the limitation of effort, I purchased a cute character from TurboSquid, one of the biggest 3D asset stores, without knowing the background story of the character Yoshi, since I'm not a Super Mario fan.... Once the game was released on the Play Store, after spending hundreds of hours in making the game, I started receiving 'kind' mails from Super Mario fans that I stole Yoshi, etc. So I started Googling and I realized that the character is really from the Super Mario series."

Naturally Kopacz is planning to alter the model, but I nonetheless find it highly unlikely that a non-Mario fan who is nonetheless invested in gaming would not at least recognize such an iconic figure from the biggest gaming franchise of all time, even if he couldn't identify Yoshi by name. Has he never seen a T-shirt, webcomic, video, or news article that featured the green dino? You'd have to work extremely hard to keep yourself completely in the dark.

Nintendo's Yoshi sneaks on to Google Play in unlicensed game (Updated) [Ars Technica]

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Review: Star Wars Pinball photo
Review: Star Wars Pinball
by Brett Zeidler

It's been a couple years since Zen Studios first took on the Marvel license and subsequently released expertly crafted tables centered around the biggest characters and story arcs in the comic book giant's vast library. Each table outdid the last, and it seemed like there was no way they could do any better with the next tables. Then they did.

After fifteen tables and no signs of slowing down, the studio has done a brilliant job with the Marvel license, so what would the next logical step be for the masterminds at Zen? Well, Star Wars Pinball, of course.

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Valve fires employees from hardware and Android teams photo
Valve fires employees from hardware and Android teams
by Jordan Devore

[Update: Valve head Gabe Newell offered the following statement to Engadget: "We don't usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons. There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I'd take the unusual step of addressing them. No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]. We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."]

Last night, word got out that Jeri Ellsworth had been fired from Valve. While I didn't think too much of it at the time, she was a part of the company's hardware R&D division and, as we learned today, she was not alone in being let go. What's going on at Valve?

Gamasutra is reporting that "several employees" have been laid off, including folks who were on hardware and Android development at Valve, with employees describing the situation as a "great cleansing." While unconfirmed, the number "25" has been brought up.

Considering the profitability of the company, it would seem that this has more to do with the direction Valve is heading in than anything else. Gamasutra suspects the cuts were due to company challenges as opposed to individual employee performance, which makes a lot of sense as new initiatives are underway.

Several out of work as Valve makes 'large decisions' about its future [Gamasutra]

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