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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Rob Zombie’s Assassin’s Creed Unity short film is surprisingly good (and unsurprisingly gory)">zombie

So, you want to give gamers a quick primer to France's bloody historical backcloth, but can t afford to send them all a copy of Les Miserables*. If you re Ubisoft, the not entirely obvious answer is hire Rob Zombie . The rocker-turned-director whose credits includes the startlingly grim The Devil s Rejects, and the startlingly boring Lords of Salem, has teamed up with Walking Dead artist Tony Moore to create a short animated film to promote Assassin s Creed Unity.

And you know what? It s pretty bloody good, with the emphasis very much on the bloody. Oh things start conservatively enough by Zombie s standards, but before long we re being treated to a cavalcade of head-chopping, cheek-ripping and eyeball bisection. That s right, I said cavalcade. The film was unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con, but thanks to the magical powers of 1s and 0s you can watch it right now.

While there s plenty of blood and death in the film mother might argue slightly too much there s little in the way of actual assassinating going on, with the game s main character, and new series star, Arno Dorian only appearing at the end. No matter, once you ve had your fill of edutainment scene-setting, check out our interview with the developer from E3. Assassin s Creed Unity is due for release on 28 October.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor’s newest trailer reveals the Wraith’s identity, more story details">ShadowofMordor_Screen3

Warner Bros. Interactive has revealed the identity of the wraith at the center of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and it's a surprisingly important character in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. The new trailer also sets up a lot of the game's story, including the Wraith's importance to the Dark Lord, Sauron.

Much of the power exhibited by Talion, the central figure in Shadow of Mordor, comes to him by way of the Wraith who has inhabited his body. But who is this Wraith, and why has it brought Talion back from the dead? That, design director Michael de Plater said at E3, is one of the game's initial goals: "To discover why Talion was denied death after he was sacrificed on the Black Gate, and to discover the identity of the Wraith."

But apparently it couldn't wait for players to figure it out on their own, as a new "Bright Lord" story trailer has dropped the big spoiler. The Wraith is none other than Celebrimbor, a central figure in Tolkien's universe and one of the foremost elves of the Second Age. It was he who crafted the Rings of Power; and when he later discovered Sauron's deception and attempted to foil his plot, he was captured in the sack of Eregion, tortured and eventually killed. And he's not very happy about it.

The trailer is pure cinematic, but as Tolkienesque plot twists go, it's a good one. When I first saw Shadow of Mordor, I dismissed it as an Arkham/Assassin's Creed mash-up with a fancy license, but perhaps there's a little more meat on this bone than I gave it credit for having.

In case you hadn't heard, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is launching a little earlier than expected, too. Look for it to arrive on October 2.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Lovely Planet review">Lovely Planet

I ve criticized games for making me memorize every level. I rarely find it more fun than solving problems on the fly, or with premeditated strategy. There are a few special games, though, that loop past that criticism, wind through furious delirium, and land among my favorites. Super Meat Boy is one, Hotline Miami is another, and Lovely Planet now joins them. It s not quite of the same caliber, but it s fantastic.

Lovely Planet is first-person shooter it s played from a first-person perspective, and you shoot things but shares few traits with other modern shooters. It includes 80 levels (unless there are more I somehow haven't unlocked), and they're all beaten in under a minute. Beating them, however, can take 10 or more tries let s say, 100 or so more tries. The number of failed attempts isn t recorded, sadly, but I clocked about seven hours just getting to the final area.

Gotta go fast

Your gun (a stick, really) fires an infinite supply of purple cubes that fly in slow, straight lines. Shooting accuracy is less important than I d like bullets don t retain your momentum and there are generous hitboxes around the stationary baddies but combined with its high-speed platforming, Lovely Planet is a brutal test of precision. There s only one way to survive its obstacle courses: restart over and over until you've memorized every flick of your wrist from the level start to the purple pole at the end. It s built for speedrunners who will exploit every bit of code to shave milliseconds off their runs, but just finishing a level is an accomplishment.

Here are a few reasons you might die or otherwise fail: You were hit by a projectile. You were hit by a homing projectile (you must shoot them out of the air). You jumped too soon. You jumped too late. You shot a neutral character. You didn t shoot a baddie (you must shoot all of them to complete a level). You shot and destroyed a platform you need to jump on. You let an apple touch the ground (they re fired into the air like skeet disks, and must be shot down). You touched a red blob on the ground. You turned left when you should have turned right.

The five areas gently introduce new concepts, then escalate to challenges I sometimes thought were mistakes. There is no damn way it is seriously asking me to hit a damn jump pad, spin around, shoot a damn apple, turn back, shoot the damn blob on the next platform, and nail the next damn jump. And then, through brute force repetition, I do it. I learn the first jump using Lovely Planet s total air control to strafe and spin mid-leap and then I can repeat it, and then I move on to the next problem.

Later, I ll bound across jump pads blasting three or four projectiles out of the air in milliseconds, feeling roughly like I ve cracked the Matrix. The mechanics are all so simple that I can practically see the code as a homing cube closes in on me, languidly halving its distance, and then again until it smacks into my face. The enemies always behave the same and the physics never surprises me, and that predictability makes Lovely Planet solvable by bashing my head against it until conscious thought is replaced with pure eye-hand mastery.


Beating a level in that autonomic trance feels amazing, and I even enjoyed the cruelest stages, sore wrists and all. My glowing praise for Lovely Planet only dims for its presentation. I had few technical problems outside of occasional frame dropping in windowed mode, and that it refused to save my resolution setting, but I never fell in love with Lovely Planet s lovely planet.

I don t mind that it rejects newfangled things like lighting and textures visual simplicity is an asset where precision jumping is required and I don t mind how cheerful and cute it is. I ve cried out for more Nintendo-style whimsy on PC in the past, but unlike a Nintendo game, there s no clever, coherent world building. Lovely Planet s areas are only differentiated by minor additions to the motif the swamp is shrouded in fog, for instance and they re weird, but forgettable. There s some attempt at narrative in mysteriously silent cutscenes, but I couldn t follow them. It s more abstract than 30 Flights of Loving, and not as appealing as its Katamari Damacy inspiration.

The sound design is another sore spot. The pshew pshews of my bullets and lazy groans of dying baddies lack vitality, and the latter are sometimes so drowned out by the music that they re not useful indicators that my shot hit. Eventually, I turned off the music. Each area has a single looping theme song, and while the third area s chipper beat grew on me, the first s aggressively happy tune did not.

Lovely Planet s awkward keyboard-navigated menu is its worst quality, along with its limited and poor presentation of information. At the end of a level, sometimes I get stars. I don t know what the stars mean. Sometimes I set a WR, which I ve determined stands for world record. I m glad my MLG pro skills are being recorded, but there s no name attached to record times and no leaderboard otherwise. I can t compare my times to my Steam friends , or see how I rank except against the one world record.

At least I know I m the best as long as you ignore that any records I set were in an early copy, against almost no other players. I m sure they ll be crushed as soon as Lovely Planet releases, but I love how beating a level makes me feel like I ve tapped into some impossible agility, like a seasoned t'ai chi master demonstrating his superhuman mind and body control.

Lovely Planet expects things of me that initially seem absurd. Then, by the end of a level, it s hard to remember why I thought any of it was hard in the first place. Its rapid repetition training can be grueling, but learning, succeeding, then mastering its trick jumps and perfect projectile slinging is heavenly.

Above: Just a few of the attempts it took me to beat one of Lovely Planet's shorter levels


Price: $6 (UK price currently unavailable)

Release date: July 31, 2014

Publisher: tinyBuild

Developer: Quicktequila

Multiplayer: None

Link: Official site

For a breakdown of our review brackets and methodology, check out the PC Gamer reviews policy.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Shadowrun: Dragonfall is returning with a Director’s Cut">Shadowrun Dragonfall

Harebrained Schemes has announced that Shadowrun: Dragonfall will be re-released in late summer in a heavily upgraded, standalone Director's Cut edition.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall earned a very respectable score of 81 in our February review, but citing the example of CD Projekt Red, which released "Enhanced Editions" of the first two Witcher games long after they originally came out, Harebrained Schemes has decided to take another run at it.

"As with Shadowrun Returns, we heard feedback about some things that folks wanted to see improved or simply wanted more of," Dragonfall Game Director Mike McCain wrote in a new Kickstarter update. "We also heard many requests for a standalone version of the game - since it s narratively independent of the Shadowrun Returns campaign, players wanted to be able to dive directly into Dragonfall."

Details won't be revealed until August but McCain said the Director's Cut will boast "new features, missions, art and more." It will be released in September on Steam, GOG and the Humble Store, and in another move perhaps inspired by CD Projekt Red, all Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter backers and anyone who owns Dragonfall will get it free.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The week’s highs and lows in PC gaming">high_top

Every Friday the PC Gamer team thumbs through its Filofax, coldly picks out the key moments from the past week, then makes an excuse about having to return some videotapes


Chris Thursten: Dotage

Everybody is expecting me to say the International, so I m going to say the International. I considered putting the final as my low for this week it certainly wasn t the contest I was hoping for but I still felt enormously lucky to be there. A disappointing International final is still the International final, and the event is quickly becoming the centre of my year. I care far more about it than I do about E3 or Gamescom or the rush of big releases before Christmas; e-sports are ultimately more about people than products and that s something I ve come to appreciate in the last couple of years. The International made me excited and happy and sad and ready for the next year of Dota. So yes, I suppose, it gets to be my highlight of the week.

Tyler Wilde: Hardline release date goes soft

Delays are usually bemoaned, but I m happy that EA has pushed Battlefield Hardline to 2015. When I first played Hardline, it baffled me: here s a cops and robbers version of Battlefield 4, but I still feel like a Russian soldier. It might be scary to drop or redesign the things thought to make Battlefield fun such as infinite parachuting but I have no use for another Battlefield right now unless it tinkers with some of the foundational design. The law enforcement vs. criminals angle is Battlefield s biggest conceptual shift yet, and I want all the new design ideas that it implies. I hope we see a very different Hardline next year.

Samuel Roberts: Burn notice

I m a latecomer to Titanfall, but it has become my go-to game after work. It s the sort of thing that s perfect for about three matches, before my reflexes begin to shut down in the fourth one and I just need to play something turn-based immediately (old, so old). I love the concept of burn cards as kind of temporary cheats, and news of Titanfall s impending black market can only serve to make these a stronger pillar of the game. (I suspect the idea of themed booster packs will encourage players to move out of their comfort zone cards and experiment a bit).

As promised by Respawn, too, no microtransactions will be involved it ll all be based on credits within Titanfall s current systems. If you played Titanfall at launch then cooled on it a bit, as a couple of my fellow PCG staff have, put that mentality to one side and get more out of your purchase.

Tim Clark: Eggcellent update?

I was torn between making the release of Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas my high or low. As my write up indicated, I loved the single-player boss battles, (puzzles is probably a better word), even if Normal mode was comically easy to beat. The slow but steady influx of new cards should also revitalise the metagame, but in trying to fix the Miracle Rogue problem, I fear Team 5 may have unleashed an even greater evil because right now the ladder feels something close to 70% Zoo. There is, quite literally, egg on everyone s faces. Hopefully the next four wings will restore some balance, or there s going to come a point when hearing Put this apple on your head! , the clarion call of the Knife Juggler, is just too triggery.

Cory Banks: Dark Souls 2 summons me back

I had finally stopped playing Dark Souls 2 just a few weeks ago, after spending a lot of time with the game s multiple PVP systems. I m done, I thought to myself. I ve experienced everything I need here. Shut it down. Of course, I d forgotten about Crown of the Sunken King, the first of three new addons that From Software will release this summer. And I was a little rusty, forgetting what it was like to not know a part of Majula like the back of my hand. That s part of what made Sunken King so challenging that and the stronger emphasis on puzzle design. But man, it was fun to play, and by the end I was obsessing over the new gear and co-op areas just as much as I did with the base game. I ve played nightly ever since, and I may not stop for a long, long while.

Evan Lahti: Rift driftin

We have no idea whether Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot is a game, or a VR experience, or what, but the idea of one of my favorite movies from the past few years teaming up in some form with the PC s most interesting new technology is exciting as hell. If anything, it s reassuring that Oculus is continuing to address the need for more content on its platform, and doing so in a way that isn t haphazard Pacific Rim, after all, featured VR as a part of its plot.


Tim Clark: What if I suck?

It doesn t seem like the single-player Naxx stuff is going to be enough to lure me away from the Hearthstone ladder for long, and I m still dealing with the weird anxiety I wrote about here. (This Team Liquid StarCraft II page has been helpful, though.) But another worry has occurred to me: I m pretty old now, what if I just suck? Like, I really want to play Gods Will Be Watching, which sounds fascinating in Richard s review, but clearly has some very stern moments. Two other colleagues who ve been playing it this week have found it hard to the point of impossible. The word demoralising was used. Is that the kind of game that s right for me now? In my fragile mental state? Reader, you decide.

Tyler Wilde: PC elbow

I woke up this morning with a sore arm; the kind of soreness you feel after a long day of hiking and swimming. I have not been hiking or swimming in a long time. It took me a few minutes to figure it out: my arm is sore because I ve been playing the incredibly demanding platformer Lovely Planet. The game is great (here's my review), so it s not my low. My low is the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. When your triceps feel like mashed potatoes because you ve been moving a mouse quite a bit, you start to suspect that your general health is on the decline. It s a beautiful day, and I think I m going to go outside. Just one more Hearthstone match, and then I ll go outside. Oh look, Divinity: Original Sin finished downloading. Dammit.

Chris Thursten: Where are my dragons?

I ve got mixed feelings about the Dragon Age: Inquisition delay, too. On one hand, delaying games for polish is something that EA need to get much better at, and Dragon Age 2 would certainly have benefited from it. On the other hand, I m ready for a new BioWare RPG and that s an extra six weeks for me to spend fretting about what I m going to call my Inquisitor. As for the potential reasons for a delay, I hope it s as they say to ensure that an already-strong experience is as good as possible. I m a bit worried that this is the first time cracks have appeared in the project, but I ve decided not to think too hard about that right now.

Samuel Roberts: The owl controller

A revised version of the Steam controller design popped up this week, and I m still super curious about Valve s attempt to make something living room-friendly that also has the capacity to overcome traditional controller issues with PC-specific genres. All that? Fantastic, even if Evan wasn t entirely convinced from his hands-on back at GDC. But it still looks like an owl. And now, in the image found on the Steam database this week, more like Nite Owl from Watchmen.

Andy Kelly: Sayonara, Spec Ops

This week Yager said there was no chance of a Spec Ops sequel. Despite critical acclaim across the board, it didn t sell very well, and now 2K seem to have nixxed any chance of a follow-up. Boo. I don t think Spec Ops was an amazing game or anything. It was a pretty rote shooter, saved by a surprisingly brilliant riff on Apocalypse Now. What makes me sad about the lack of a sequel is that Yager won t get the chance to build on what they did in that game. With the skills they picked up making it, and a decent budget, they could have made another dark, story-led game in the same vein, and maybe made it a better shooter to boot. But they may never get the chance, and that s a damn shame. This industry, sometimes. Honestly.

Evan Lahti: What s a Yog again?

Yogtastrophe, Yogbacle, Yoglemma upsetting details continue to trickle in about Yogscast and Winterkewl s failed Kickstarter. This week, backers of the project and the game s developer Winterkewl are all wondering: what happened to $150,000 that Yogscast demanded from Winterkewl when progress wasn t being made on the project? The past couple weeks have been an insightful look into what can go wrong when you overstate the scope of a project, then mismanage it thoroughly.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor launching five days early">Shadow of Mordor

Videogame release dates change all the time, but it's not often that they're moved ahead, rather than back. Yet that is exactly what's happened with Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, which is going to hit the shelves a few days earlier than expected.

"Based on hearing fans excitement over the latest chronicle in Middle-earth, WBIE will release the action game earlier than originally planned at all participating retailers," the publisher said in a press release. Monolith Community Manager Andy Salisbury emphasized the point on Twitter, writing, "We're fans of giving the people what they want!"

Not to be overly cynical about it, but Monolith may also be fans of not having their games buried by other releases. As Wikipedia notes, the original release date, October 7, is a busy day: Alien: Isolation, Driveclub, NBA 2K15, NBA Live 15 and Project Spark all launch on that day. October 2, on the other hand, is nothing but Mordor.

To find out more about Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, have a look at our hands-on E3 preview.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Into the deep: it’s time to learn how to play Dwarf Fortress">1 - W1tGs0j

Melissa Elliott is an author and security researcher who has been playing Dwarf Fortress for five years. She is pro-dwarf and vehemently anti-elf.

The above image may look like a cat walked all over an MS-DOS word processor. What it actually depicts, however, is unspeakable violence and brutality. A field strewn with spent arrows, severed limbs, and pools of blood leads to the trap-riddled narrow entrance of an underground fortress. Corpses of elves, goblins, trolls, humans, and even dogs rot in the open air, slain in attacks on peaceful trade caravans. The inhabitants of the fortress do not care. They got what they wanted from the wagons. Any outsiders who happened to be captured alive in the cage traps will soon be thrown screaming into the open magma pits several floors below.

This is Dwarf Fortress: an endlessly sprawling simulator of procedurally generated worlds awaiting dwarves brave enough to plunder their precious metals. Simple graphics interact with the imagination to reveal more detail than the most vivid high-polycount game for anyone willing to learn Dwarf Fortress's notorious complexity. It's actually not as hard as you think, and 2014's Dwarf Fortress update dramatically expands Adventure mode to tell sprawling RPG adventures with the same depth as Fortress mode. It's the perfect time to learn, and we're here to help. You'll be pouring magma on goblins in no time.

We've broken this beginner's guide to Dwarf Fortress into a few digestible parts to make it easier to follow.

Page 1: What is Dwarf Fortress? - Understand the game's Fortress and Adventure modes. Learn why you should be playing it, and how to get started.

Page 2: What's new in Dwarf Fortress 2014? - Learn the details of 2014's major update.

Page 3: Your First Fortress - Learn how to set up a world for the first time, understand what's happening, and where to find further resources to continue your Dwarf Fortress adventure.

Page 4: Defeat is glorious - Learn to love losing in Dwarf Fortress, because losing is half the fun.


What is Dwarf Fortress?

Dwarf Fortress is a donation-funded free game for Windows, OSX, and Linux. It's been in development since 2002. At this point, it's likely the most complex video game ever created, though its designers, Tarn and Zach Adams, still consider it an alpha. Tarn has called the game his life's work.

If you've seen pictures of Dwarf Fortress, you're probably familiar with Fortress mode, where the player acts as the overmind of upwards of hundreds of dwarves, each fulfilling their own AI directives. The latest version brings subtle improvements to this mode, in dwarven emotions and increased connections to the outside world.

There's also Adventure mode, which allows you to take control of a single dwarf or a human, or an elf, or any species you care to mod in to go romping about in a massively complex simulated world full of tragedy, gore, and glory. The newly revamped conversation system allows you to collect foolhardy allies and track down wicked necromancers for fame and honor. Imagine a Dungeons & Dragons campaign plopped into an immensely complex simulation engine, and you'll have an inkling of DF's Adventure mode.

Adventure Mode

Fortress Mode

Control a single character

Turn-by-turn play

Recruit followers

Explore vast, dynamic world

Visit fortresses

Gruesome combat

Control collective of dwarves

Real-time play

Attract migrants

Put your fort almost anywhere

Receive uninvited guests

Gruesome combat with magma

Dwarf Fortress is two games in one. In the newest release, the two modes interact more than ever before. It is now possible to stop playing a fort without destroying it, allowing you to build a new one in the same world while the old one flourishes under the care of the AI.

You can also switch to Adventure Mode from Fortress mode and explore your handiwork; consider it building your RPG world before playing in it. Whether you adventure in peace or leave the denizens in pieces is up to you. Be warned, though: you may arrive only to discover that a fell and terrible beast has beaten you to the idea.

There s no way around the fact that Dwarf Fortress is not a casual game. Its influence can be felt throughout newer games that are easier to pick up, from Minecraft to Rimworld, but none have yet offered the same depth and complexity of simulation. The one thing that everyone knows about Dwarf Fortress, however, is the text. Screenfulls of it, in sixteen colors, blood-soaked punctuation marks scattered everywhere like a fatal explosion at the typewriter factory. The aesthetic is a close cousin of pixel art, born from similar limitations. If the cascade of colored letters is intimidating, don t panic. After a few minutes of direct exposure, the bafflement wears off and you begin to see the pattern. If you re still not convinced, the community maintains sprite graphics packs which bring more of a 16-bit JRPG look to the game, within some engine limitations. (For example, the male symbol may display as a bag even when it does mean a literal male symbol; apostrophes may look like patches of ground even mid-sentence.)

A pleasant world map without too much purple. Purple is bad. I mean, fun.

There s one big upside to these simple graphics, of course: you don t need a fancy high-end GPU to play. What you do need is a lot of CPU power. Dwarf Fortress puts the hurt in gigahertz. Don t generate large worlds with long histories unless you re looking for an excuse to pick up a new novel.

On page two: the major changes in DF 2014.

What's new in DF2014: the "world activation release"

The new update is called the world activation release by its programmer, due to a focus on improving the liveliness of the randomly generated worlds. Version 0.40.01 came out on July 7, and smaller bugfix patches have quickly followed. This is the first major update to Dwarf Fortress in two years. And it is major. Here are just a few of the things it adds:

"Birth, death (to the extent it wasn't handled before), marriages, site foundation as well as reclaims, basic succession and appointments/etc., invasions, as well as some more detail beyond world gen, like patrols, banditry and animal population handling."

"Fortresses can be retired and unretired. Losing is still fun but if it doesn't happen when you want, you can put it off for a while. Retired forts can be conquered (much more easily than they would be if you still controlled them), so don't be surprised if you have to reclaim instead of being able to unretire sometimes."

"The mind has been rewritten quite a bit -- people now experience emotions according to different circumstances (lots of awkward monologues there), and they consider actions differently."

Those details (and the rest of the patch notes) may sound impenetrable if you aren't already familiar with Dwarf Fortress. The important takeaway is this: Dwarf Fortress is a simulation engine for amazing emergent storytelling.

In fortress mode, you may receive political reports of the outside world, which is no longer wholly frozen in time while your fortress is running. Strike out as an adventurer and encounter people who are extremely aware of their friends and enemies, their ancestry, their political situation and what s going on out in the wilds. Rumors are spread, invasions are launched, and plots are orchestrated, both during world generation and during play.

In one adventure, Mispy Cavehush was a dwarven woman like any other, newly appointed to the ranks of the guards in the fortress of Wheelmolten. It was a rare time of peace; goblins freely intermingled with dwarves in the trade depot, and the Captain of the Guard was at ease. A peasant came by to request that the guards dispatch a wild yeti. Mispy came across an old dwarven man sitting by himself in a far corner of the fortress, and he had a tale to tell. The new conversation system is replete with options, including context-sensitive ones to inquire about recent events and local goings-on.

Litast followed Mispy out into the bright sunshine. A band of humans had joined the goblins milling around the depot. When they saw the grizzled old dwarf accompanying Mispy, they were distinctly unhappy. The humans and goblins scattered in a panic. Litast suddenly began violently kicking at a hapless human man, knocking out his front teeth. The human retaliated.

Frightened and confused, Mispy wondered if she had been taken in by a madman s delusions. Asking around, she learned from the undwarven visitors that Searglaze was just as ominous as Litast had suggested. When pressed for an explanation about the dwarf s outburst, the humans had only one thing to say: It was inevitable.

None of them, incidentally, were willing to take Litast s place in the expedition to Searglaze. Not up for bone-chilling horror, these humans.

On page three: how to build your first fortress.

Your First Fortress

Ready to take a crack at building the next great fortress? First, you'll need to download the game. It's free, and you can download the latest version from the official site. If you're still intimidated by the ANSI "graphics," though, there are some graphic mod alternatives that make the game a bit more approachable.

If you re on Windows and want a graphical version, the easiest way is to download the latest version of Mike Mayday s graphical Dwarf Fortress pack. It contains the full game pre-configured with cute pixel art graphics. There's also the more configurable (but still very easy to use) Starter Pack, which includes several different graphics mods and a UI for making some configuration changes to Dwarf Fortress.

There's also the much more ambitious DFHack project, which includes a mod called Stonesense that actually renders Dwarf Fortress with 3D graphics. As of mid-July 2014, it's being updated to support Dwarf Fortress 0.40.xx.

A human woman starts a new game in Adventure Mode with the Mayday Graphics Pack.

Once you download vanilla Dwarf Fortress or DFG (Mayday's graphical version), running the game is as simple as unzipping a folder and double-clicking the executable. Now it's time to start tinkering and learning.

Controlling Dwarf Fortress

Start with a crash course in controls from the wiki and this more in-depth guide to getting and keeping a fortress running. For adventure mode, the equivalents are this quick start and controls reference.

I found the following mnemonics helpful to recall frequently used keys:

uild (to erect furniture and workshops)

esignate (to set up mining, tree-cutting, and other activities)

uery (to interact with things you ve built)

loo (to see what s on a square)

iew (to check out a living creature).

Never hesitate to look at side-bars and across the bottom of the screen for hints on what keys are available in the current context. If the up and down arrow keys don t work somewhere you expected them to, try the plus and minus keys. For sizing embark sites, farms, and the like, the keys function much like in other games. If nothing seems to be happening, check that you aren t paused (spacebar), or still in a submenu (escape key to back out).

I ve been playing for five years and I m not entirely sure what a few of these keys do. Don t panic, and if you can t find something, check the wiki! If you feel like there must be a way to do something specific you had in mind, there almost certainly is.

Creating your first world

When you generate your world, I recommend you bump size down to medium, history to short, and minerals up to frequent. When you pick your embark site from the world map, go easy on yourself and look for a place with trees and soil as well as both shallow and deep metals. Do not embark on an aquifer for your first fortress. You ll flood yourself out. It s possible to get a world riddled with aquifers and you may need to generate a new one. Do not embark on purple land - sinister, haunted, or terrifying. I mean it! Clouds of poison gas will consume your dwarves and turn them into malicious revenants! I mean it! I once lost an entire fort to undead puppies!

After choosing an embark site, you will be asked if you want to play now or prepare for the journey carefully. Play now gives you, in my opinion, absolute rubbish equipment and skills, but filling out the prepare carefully menu from scratch is quite intimidating for a beginner. A practical alternative is grabbing pre-made embark profiles.

It s up to you now. Dig out a bunch of space, get your stuff inside. You have some time before you have to worry about ambushes or thieves. Don t dig more entrances than you can watch, though, or one day your dwarves will wake up to goblins in their beds. Plant some plump helmets (they re mushrooms? apparently?) and for Armok s sake don t run out of alcohol. Nothing good has ever come of a sober dwarf.

Melissa Elfmurder likes opals, microcline, square rooms, square tilesets, and diagonal entrances for their sharp corners.

If it's your first time playing, you probably don't know how to do any of the above. That's okay--you just need to be okay with fiddling around, slowly figuring out how to run a fortress. Most importantly, you have to be ready and willing to do the one thing you'll do more than anything else in Dwarf Fortress: fail.

On page four: learning to love losing.

Image via bravemule.com

Defeat Is Glorious

If there's one story that should convince you, absolutely, that you should play Dwarf Fortress, it's the saga of Bravemule. Bravemule is a masterpiece of using Dwarf Fortress as a storytelling engine. Using in-game mechanics to assign or forbid individual dwarves from different parts of the fortress, it tells the story of suffering in a highly classist dwarven society, predicated on the resent that most players soon develop for worthless immigrants and the willingness to throw them in harm s way. Heavily illustrated with Stonesense (which renders Dwarf Fortress in 3D), it comes to a stunningly violent conclusion that captures the very core of the dwarven experience: losing is fun.

Losing is such a core aspect of the game that it has its own wiki article, and the article title Fun redirects to it. The whole point of being a dwarf is to dig too deep and too greedily; sitting around on the surface is for elves. You don t want to be an elf, do you? Of course not. They re cannibals. Reaching for difficult goals is honorable whether or not you achieve them. If it looks like you re not going to achieve them, fail in the most spectacular way possible. One of the most fun experiences I ever had in Dwarf Fortress was unintentionally tapping into an aquifer and flooding a well-established fortress. Sealing off the damage and restructuring around it was a fun challenge. More recently, I had a fort suffer the dreaded Tantrum Spiral: when negative emotions run high, fights break out, and when fights break out, negative emotions run high. I went from over 250 living dwarves to five. I rebuilt from those miserable ashes, and it was fun.

Dwarf Fortress has a strong sense of community, with friendly players exchanging techniques, mods, and horror stories about pulling the wrong lever (the right lever) and killing everyone. I ve made a lot of friends through this game. A classmate introduced me to Dwarf Fortress in 2009 and I ended up marrying him. I can t promise everyone will find true love down in the caverns, but glory, death, and fun are certain. Strike the earth.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Crytek says new source of capital has secured its long-term future">Crysis 3

Crytek has ended its steadfast silence regarding reports of financial trouble and dissatisfied employees that first came to light in June, when it was reported that the company was struggling to meet its payroll obligations. In a statement released today, it admitted that it hasn't done the best possible job of keeping staff apprised of its long-term plans, but says it has now "laid the foundation" that will secure Crytek's long-term future.

The statement in full:

"In recent weeks, there have been repeated reports and rumors relating to financial problems at Crytek. Having already given an update to staff across all our studios, we are now in a position to share more details with members of the press and public.

Internally, we have acknowledged that the flow of information to employees has not been as good as it should have, however we hope you understand that communicating details of our plans publicly has not always been possible.

Like the games industry as a whole, Crytek has been in a transitional phase. Our evolution from a development studio to an Online-Publisher has required us to refocus our strategies. These challenges go along with an increased demand for capital which we have secured.

We can now concentrate on the long term strategic direction of Crytek and our core competencies. We kindly ask for your understanding, that we won't be communicating further details about our developments and progress.

Ultimately, with our organization, capitalization, portfolio and technologies we have now laid the foundations for securing Crytek's future - not just in the short term, but also long term.

Through this period of speculation, we are thankful for the support and encouragement we've received from our community and our partners, and for the contribution all of our staff have made. We remain committed to doing what we are best known for and trying to develop the best interactive experiences and technology possible for everyone who loves gaming.

We are confident that we will be able to share more positive news on Crytek's progress soon."

It was reported in June that more than 30 employees have left Crytek U.K. since 2011, and that the company has been struggling to meet its payroll obligations since the cancellation of Ryse 2. Since then, Crytek's R&D principal graphics engineer and the lead producer on Crysis 3 and Ryse have also departed.

True to its word, Crytek did not respond to inquiries regarding the source of the capital.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to PC Gaming Alliance becomes the Open Gaming Alliance, welcomes tablets into its loving embrace">LPC

Formed in 2008, the PC Gaming Alliance is or was an organization dedicated to promoting the PC as a viable gaming platform for the future. But it recently renamed itself to the "Open Gaming Alliance," a change it said was made because "the PC is no longer the most dominant gaming form factor."

It's a bit of a confusing point. After all, if the PCGA was formed to promote the PC, why change the name if it still needs promoting? But as OGA President Matt Ployhar explained, the change isn't driven by a move away from the PC so much as by the evolving definition of what a PC is in the first place.

"PC form factors continue to evolve, as do the OSes that power them. Increasingly we're seeing companies' game engines, tools, games, ports, peripherals, etc., become more OS cross-platform," he said. "One of the biggest issues plaguing PCs, and the definition of PCs, is that marketing and analyst groups continue trying to distance the tablet form factor from being included in the PC family."

"I believe they've missed the mark. What they should have been articulating is that the tablet has become the most popular form factor choice amongst PC buyers who are okay with more of a consumption device than a productivity/consumption device," he continued. "Ultimately, I don't care what OS powers a PC, or even what it looks like. Just as long as it plays the games I know and love, remains open enough so that we're not being force-fed or given limited options, and plays nicely with other devices. We want to ensure that PCs stay open and innovative at all costs."

It's an interesting position to take. I'm not sure I agree with the idea that PCs and tablets are essentially the same thing, or even that one is an extension of the other, but cross-platform development for PC and mobiles is becoming increasingly common. It does strike me as a step away from the hardcore PC gaming segment, but that's a market that's in pretty good shape already; so even though the PC is no longer "dominant," it may well be secure enough that the OGA feels its efforts will be better directed elsewhere.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Yogscast statement addresses Yogventures Kickstarter funding questions">Yogscast

In an email sent to Yogventures backers that's been posted on Reddit, Yogscast co-founder Lewis Brindley said the $150,000 it received from the Kickstarter went toward physical rewards, marketing and "supporting the project," and added that it's spent a considerable amount of its own money on top of it.

The question of what happened to that money came up earlier this week, when Kris Vale of Winterkewl Games revealed that the amount had been transferred to Yogscast shortly after the Kickstarter wrapped up. No formal contracts were ever signed but Winterkewl had estimated that $50,000 would be required to create and ship physical rewards to backers, and expected that the rest would go toward hiring a programmer for the project, something that didn't actually happen.

But in an email to backers intended to address "misinformation in the media and elsewhere," Brindley wrote that the entire sum went toward promoting the game, and that it did in fact make an effort to hire a programmer.

"We set up a contract with Winterkewl early on to allocate funds between the two parties. Winterkewl would deliver the game and Yogscast would receive a portion of the Kickstarter money. That $150,000 was spent directly fulfilling physical rewards for Kickstarter backers, packing and shipping the rewards, covering marketing expenses - including the booth at E3 2012 - and supporting the project over close to three years. In addition we have spent (and will continue to spend), considerably more than any money we received on rewards for the people that backed this project," Brindley wrote.

"To address a specific point that has been raised about hiring a programmer: we did discuss this with Winterkewl in an effort to help them out, although wasn t part of the agreement and would have been paid for directly by Yogscast," he continued. "Multiple professional programmers were approached to work on Yogventures, however they all declined the position. Furthermore, the hiring of at least one programmer we courted was vetoed by Winterkewl. There were no further funds requested from Winterkewl."

To his credit, Brindley also spoke graciously about Winterkewl, writing, "The truth is that although Winterkewl worked really hard to deliver Yogventures, technical and personal issues meant they weren t able to create the game we d all envisioned at the start of the project." He also reiterated the promise to support Yogventures backers with Steam keys for TUG and other games and rewards that will be revealed to the community in the near future.

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