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Nuclear Throne is the rare game that I fail at over and over again, but keep coming back to. It s such a satisfying twitch shooter that I m constantly on edge and terrified for my life in the later levels very accurately describes it as a roguelike shooter of insidious grace and flexibility, with every single moving part a source of terrible fascination. When I saw an online multiplayer mod pop up last week, I was immediately compelled to play it what better way to alleviate the stress of an intense roguelike than to have a friend there to help? What an innocent though that was.
works shockingly well, and is a ton of fun, but if anything, it makes the game more stressful and frenetic. My co-op partner Tom Marks can attest to that, as I spent most of the later levels in our sessions shouting oh god oh god oh god as everything on the screen exploded constantly. We exploded a lot of stuff, Tom and I. It was a good time, and co-op adds an interesting strategic twist you won t find in single-player. When your partner goes down, the game gives you a limited window to revive them and split your HP. If you leave them down, you start taking damage and die yourself. We ride together, we die together. Mutant freaks for life.
I m still a little amazed that this mod exists. Nuclear Throne shipped with local co-op for two players on the same PC. Nuclear Throne Together takes that mode and brings it online, with full Steam integration (friends list, invites, etc.). I m no programmer, but I m pretty sure writing solid netcode for someone else s game especially when the source code for that game isn t publicly available is a hell of a task. Modder Vadim wrote on his website: Should you have an impression that reverse-engineering an existing large game to poke few thousand new lines worth of code into it isn't a bad idea it very well is.
Oh, and that s not all it does. As Vadim wrote, Nuclear Throne never was a coop-centric game, and thus coop mode didn't receive enough attention, remaining ridden with various small bugs. This mod changes that, fixing pretty much every known issue, and giving coop some much-needed polish. He also fixed some other game bugs while he was at it.
From my hands-on time with the mod, it worked perfectly about 90% of the time. In a few moments of heavy action, with tons of explosions going off on-screen, Nuclear Throne lagged to the point of entirely freezing up. This happened about four or five times across three runs (we even made it to the Throne in one of them!) and usually lasted a handful of seconds before clearing up. I believe both of us were on stable connections, though Vadim notes that the mod requires somewhat-low-latency (100ms delay / 200ms ping) connection for comfortable play and Comcast could be to blame for our little lag spikes. Either way, they didn t get in the way of us having fun. For the majority of our time playing Together, it was smooth shootin .
On a mission to spice up the mid-game, Stellaris' Asimov patch (1.2) is now live, bringing sweeping improvements. I pored over the biggest of the planned changes last week, but now we have an exhaustive changelog. Mercifully, Paradox has compressed the headlines into a handy graphic:
New and significant among those is the inclusion of improved skyboxes (spaceboxes?). The new textures are twice as big and look gorgeous, and as an added bonus, all-new skyboxes have been included too.
Catch up with the monstrous patch notes here.
WASD feels inevitable today. Once mouselook became standard in 3D games, it made little sense (at least for right-handed players) to hold your left arm across your chest to reach the arrow keys. The WASD keys were more comfortable, and offered easy access to Shift and Space. But even though WASD seems like the obvious choice now, far fewer players used it 20 years ago.
Our favorite four letter word was never a foregone conclusion, and didn't become standard through some gaseous enlightening that spread to every PC gamer simultaneously. The new movement scheme took several years to catch on, and while we can t know whose fingers found their way to WASD first, we do have a good idea of who popularized the style: the greatest Quake player in the universe, Dennis Thresh Fong.
Fong made history when he took home John Carmack's Ferrari 328 after winning the first-ever nationwide Quake tournament in 1997. And when he won that tournament, defeating Tom "Entropy" Kimzey on Castle of the Damned, his right hand was on a mouse, and his left hand was perched over the four keys we now consider synonymous with PC gaming. But even then, not everyone played that way.
In the early days of first-person shooters, Fong says the keymappings were all over the place, and even the great Thresh had only just started to play with a mouse at all. Imagine him just a few years before, sometime around 1993, as a teenager losing a match of Doom against his brother Lyle. Like many Doom players, Fong used only the keyboard. Without the need to look up or down, it was a natural choice so much that using a mouse was even considered weird. His brother, however, was playing with a keyboard and trackball, and he was winning. It wasn t every game both were excellent players but Lyle won enough that one summer Fong decided he had to learn to play with a mouse. After that, he was unbeatable.
Right after I made that switch, my skill improved exponentially, says Fong. Pretty much, from then on, I never lost.
It took some experimentation including a strange attempt to move with WADX but Fong settled on WASD and has been using it since Doom. Did he invent the scheme? No, probably not. Others were also gravitating to the left side of the keyboard for Doom at the same time. But without Fong's influence, the default could have ended up different. It might have been EDSF, or stranger configurations like ZXC to strafe and move backwards, and the right mouse button to move forwards. Some early shooters bound movement to the arrow keys. In 1994, System Shock used ASDX, while Descent used AZ for forward/reverse and QE for banking (if you didn't happen to have a joystick).
Fong tells us he even knew a player who used ZXCV to move.
I m certainly not going to take credit for the creation of [WASD], says Fong. I stumbled across it. I m sure other people started using it as well just based on what was comfortable for them. I definitely think I helped popularize it with a certain set of gamers, particularly the ones that played first person shooters."
It s likely that he did. The very concept of a professional gamer was new at the time, and Fong was well-known on the west coast as the best player around. As Fong s celebrity grew, the one question everyone asked him was: What s your config? His answer could be most readily found in , which describes the WASD formation as an inverted T. And his guide carried weight. Even before his success as a Quake player, Fong was a Doom champion, and so people imitated him, just as the kids at the basketball court by my house spend far too much time trying to hit Steph Curry s 30-foot shots.
The evidence can be found on old bulletin board systems. In , a poster recommends using Q and E to strafe and A and D to turn. Another suggests using the keypad for movement, and someone else says they use A, Shift, Z, X. It wasn't the case that everyone simply gravitated to the 'obvious' choice of WASD or ESDF, and in , we see how Thresh's performance in the Quake tournament spread his style. His play was so impressive, the poster looking for his config speculates that it was impossible for him to turn so fast with a mouse.
Another legend, Quake programmer John Carmack, took note. Even when I was hanging out with Carmack, wherever, at E3, random people would come up and he would hear them asking me what my configuration was, says Fong. So he ended up building a Thresh stock config into Quake 2.
It was a relief. Not only could Fong sit down at any computer with Quake 2 and instantly load his configuration, every time he got the question, all he had to say was type exec thresh.cfg.
Convenient as it was, Fong doesn t think the inclusion of his config was the main factor in the rise of WASD, and I d agree. By the time Quake 2 was out, WASD was starting to feel like common knowledge. I used it, and I don t remember hearing Thresh s name associated with it at the time, though it s possible his configuration entered my consciousness two or three people removed.
And yet games, strangely, took a while to catch up. Carmack may have bundled Thresh s config with Quake 2, but when it released in 1997 the default controls were still arrow keys. A year later, though, that changed. If Thresh's Quake tournament win was WASD's first watershed moment, the second came in 1998 with the release of Half-Life. The Quake and Doom players at Valve perhaps influenced directly or indirectly by Carmack, Thresh, and other top Doom and Quake players included WASD in Half-Life s default keyboard and mouse config, which helped solidify it as the first-person shooter standard.
Valve engineer Yahn Bernier checked Half-Life's original config file for us and confirmed it included WASD. "I remember finalizing this file (maybe with Steve Bond) during the lead up to shipping HL1 but don t recall specifics about when WASD was settled on or really why. We probably carried it forward from Quake1 " he wrote in an email.
The same year, and less than a month after Half-Life, Starsiege Tribes also made WASD default. Quake 3 followed suit in 1999, and WASD's popularity grew even more. It was also the default binding in 2000's Daikatana, but Half-Life, Tribes, and Quake 3 probably had a bit more to do with its popularity.
There were still plenty of heretical control schemes in 1999 like System Shock 2's, which defaulted to WADX (and S for crouch). But WASD had momentum. If it wasn t already ubiquitous by 2004, World of Warcraft defaulting to WASD codified it for millions of PC gamers. Now it s in RPGs and MOBAs and even strategy games, controlling camera movement over maps.
Interestingly, Valve boss Gabe Newell doesn t use WASD. I personally don't like WASD as it takes your hand away from your typing home keys, he wrote in an email to PC Gamer. I always rebind to ESDF. Newell's not alone there. Do a little Googling and you'll find plenty of people arguing that ESDF is the more natural configuration.
More surprisingly, another Half-Life developer, level designer Dario Casali, also rejects WASD. Instead, he prefers ASXC. It feels natural to me, where WASD feels odd, wrote Casali. But lots of people scoff at my config.
What would PC gaming be like had EDSF or ASXC been Half-Life s default? No offense intended to Newell or Casali, but I shudder to think of it. ASXC just sounds bonkers to me. Newell's fairly commonplace ESDF is more palatable, but as Thresh echoes, it feels harder to hit Shift and Control while easier to mispress one of the surrounding keys. For me, Thresh, and millions of PC gamers, it s WASD for life.
You can read more about the history of Quake celebrating Quake's 20th anniversary. We're also celebrating by , and Thresh himself will be playing on our US-West server today, Friday, from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Pacific time.
Wes Fenlon also contributed to this article.
The great and mighty Quake turned 20 earlier this week, a moment in gaming history we marked (and continue to mark) by putting up our very own PC Gamer Quake servers for the week. We've also got a really good Quake retrospective I'd encourage you to dig into here. Wolfenstein: The New Order developer MachineGames is getting in on the fun too: It's created an all-new Quake episode, and released it for free.
Happy 20th to Quake @idsoftware! As a gift to the fans, we created a new episode of the game https://t.co/BTgju8tLuI pic.twitter.com/gHlxBgjcBUJune 24, 2016
Installing the episode is easy: Just extract the archive to its own subdirectory inside your Quake directory, then run the Dopa batch file. It works perfectly well with the GOG version of Quake and presumably others as well (GOG's release is the one I tried it on), and you can trust me, it's perfectly safe and won't set your PC on fire.
I haven't finished it yet, but I'm midway through the second level and so far it's really good. The level designs have been really clever so far, with lots of secrets to find, and yes, there is a hidden (but not too-hidden) teleporter to Nightmare difficulty, if that's your thing. Enjoy!
There's lots of competitive gaming to watch this weekend, from top-tier Hearthstone and Street Fighter V to the Dota 2 scene's frantic scramble to make it to this year's International. Skilled players will win thousands of dollars over the next two days: an impressive sum in and of itself if you're American, getting more impressive with every minute that passes if you're British.
Hearthstone: Americas Spring Championship
Starting at 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST on both Saturday and Sunday, this is a showcase of top talent in the American Hearthstone scene. There's $80,000 on the line, as well as a spot at the Global Finals at BlizzCon. Here's the stream.
Dota 2: The International 2016 Regional Qualifiers
Qualification for the remaining spots at The International begins tomorrow. Play begins at 18:00 PDT on Friday night/03:00 CEST in SEA and at 01:00 PDT/10:00 CEST in Europe. As Europe wraps up, expect play to begin in North America followed by China. It's a packed schedule, so check out GosuGamer's match page for the latest info and stream links.
CSGO: Esports Championship Series
FaceIt's Esports Championship Series concludes this weekend with a dramatic faceoff between the world's best teams in London. You can find the livestream and schedule information on the official site. Up-to-date schedule information is missing at the moment, but expect play throughout the day on British time (CEST-1).
League of Legends: NA Championship Series
Another weekend of play in the NA LCS. Games run today and continue throughout the weekend, starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST each day and continuing for four-five hours. As ever, the best resource for further information and livestreams is lolesports.com.
Overwatch: OG Invitational
One of the biggest events in NA Overwatch so far, the OG Invitational has a $25,000 prize pool and showcases the region's best teams. Play begins at 10:00 PDT/19:00 CEST and you'll find the livestream right here.
Rocket League: Qualifier 2 Group Stage
After a few weeks of open qualifiers, the pool narrows. NA is playing on Saturday starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST and Europe plays on Sunday from 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST. Here's the livestream.
Street Fighter V: CEO 2016
One of the liveliest events in the Street Fighter V calendar, Andi sung the praises of CEO in his column this week. It's a premier event, so expect a very high standard of play. You can find the extensive schedule here and the action will be streamed on Twitch.
Deciding what thing you're going to make is often surprisingly difficult, so I can understand why Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games has outsourced picking the premise for its second game to its fans. OK, so it hasn't done that exactly, but it has released a poll asking fans what sort of game they'd like to see next from the studio. There are a bunch of ideas on the form, and you can rate each one on a scale from 'not excited' to 'very excited'.
The ideas include a Shovel Knight sequel, a Shovel Knight-themed karting game (not sure they're being entirely serious there), a Spelunky-like, a Metroidvania, and various others styled after retro games you may have some nostalgia for. It's a bit sad that every idea is framed in relation to an existing game, but then again Shovel Knight is great, and fairly original, despite owing a lot to Mega Man.
Me, I want Yacht Club to make whatever game it wants to make next, but if it's totally stumped by indecision, a new Landstalker-ish isometric action-adventure could be pretty fab.
In case you missed it, Shovel Knight is getting another free campaign, this one starring the acrobatic, British-autocorrect-hating Specter Knight.
I never played Day of the Tentacle, despite its reputation as one of the best adventure games ever made. With the remastered edition now available, Andy has challenged me to finish it without a walkthrough. It s my chance to experience the game as it was meant to be played without the safety net of the internet. In the spirit of the era, I can use Andy as my very own LucasArts helpline. Be warned, there are puzzle and plot spoilers throughout this article.
I m not too bad at modern adventure games I completed the Blackwell series without a walkthrough but I m less adept at the older ones. Monkey Island 2 had me utterly stumped. Judging by Day of the Tentacle s opening cutscene, I m worried this will be more of the same. It appears to take place in a slapstick cartoon, where logic has upped sticks and bought a quaint country cottage in a heartland of zany adventure. I m in trouble.
We open to the lobby of Doctor Fred s combined hotel, laboratory and psych ward. I recognise my first puzzle: a coin on the floor that s stuck to some gum. I go to pick it up, but it won t budge. No doubt this is part of some long, elaborate puzzle chain. If I was a standup comedian, here is where I d go on a long routine imagining common tasks through the lens of adventure game logic. Perhaps a skit about acquiring milk by using leather cushions to trick a cow into letting me near her udders.
No time for that, though, as I trigger a cutscene by climbing into a grandfather clock. Soon, a time travel mishap occurs. The three playable characters now exist in three different time zones. Equable roadie Hoagie is in the past, and skittish student Laverne finds herself in a future ruled by tentacle monsters. Both must get power to their Chron-o-Johns. Back (or forward) in the present, bookish Bernard must buy an expensive diamond to bring his pals home.
I quickly make what seems like progress by picking up every item I can find. Pretty soon Hoagie and Bernard s pockets are bulging. Not Laverne s though, because she s stuck up a tree. Also, I ve talked to the founding fathers of the United States. They seem nice.
Climbing into a grandfather clock in the past as Hoagie, I find Fred s ancestor, Red Edison. He s going to help me build a super-battery, but only if I provide him with three things: oil, vinegar and gold. I suspect these aren t the ingredients for a battery, but then Fight Club lied about the recipe for homemade napalm, and the most cartoonish thing about that was Jared Leto s hair. Thanks to my earlier hoarding, I already have the oil.
Next: vinegar. I don t find any, but I do have a bottle of wine. As any sommelier will tell you, wine plus time equals rhyme. And also vinegar. I m about to drop the wine bottle into the Chron-o-John which lets me transport inanimate objects between time periods when I realise a conceptual flaw in my plan. If I send the wine forward in time, it will still be wine. I need to hide the wine in the past, and have one of the other characters retrieve it and send it back. I am a clever boy.
Admittedly not that clever, as it takes me a while to realise I need to put the wine in Thomas Jefferson s time capsule. In the meantime, I cajole George Washington into cutting down a kumquat tree by painting its fruit the colour of cherries. This frees Laverne. I d gloat, but it was accidental. I recognised the basic template of an adventure puzzle, and attempted to solve it regardless of reason. I also add an amendment to the Constitution requiring vacuum cleaners in every basement. I assume this will, at some point, be of use.
Freed from the tree, Laverne is locked up by tentacles. Releasing her proves surprisingly easy. Feigning sickness, I steal a chart of tentacle anatomy and send it back to Hoagie. He hands it to a seamstress who assumes it s the template for a new American flag. In the future, Laverne is able retrieve the flag and wear it as a disguise. Did I say it was easy? I meant stupid. Free to wander the future mansion, I find the time capsule. Laverne can t open it with her bare hands, though. Didn t I see a crowbar back in Bernard s time?
I did! The crowbar lets me pick up the coin from the lobby, and also steal a stack of quarters from a candy machine. What I can t do is send it into the future to help Laverne. Instead, I do more things that don t make sense. I use the dime to shake a fat man off a sweater. (Why?) I put the sweater in a tumble dryer and use my stack of quarters to send it spinning into Laverne s time. (Er?) Later, I tell Bernard to steal a hamster. (What?) I put the hamster in an ice box. (Oh, come on!) In the future, Laverne retrieves the frozen rodent and puts it in the microwave. (Seriously?) I place the thoroughly damp hamster in the dryer-shrunken sweater to warm him up. (WTF, adventure games.)
Doing things for no reason works for a while, but pretty soon I m stuck. It s time to turn to my only hope: Andy Kelly, who is standing in for the LucasArts tips line. For a while, I d harboured dreams of completing the game without ever calling him especially as he ll be billing me for every hint I receive. Alas, I m at a loss. I email Andy and ask how to send the crowbar to the future.
Thanks for calling the LucasArts hint line. Calls to this 1-900 number are charged at $3 for the first minute, and $1 for every additional minute. Your hint is as follows: there are other ways to open a time capsule. The charge for this call is $4.
What a rip off! That is no help at all. I ve already been through the rest of my inventory, and there s no other item that could realistically open a... oh, it s the can opener, isn t it? That would be the most nonsensical solution, and so it s clearly the correct one. I send Laverne the can opener that Hoagie is inexplicably carrying and, yes, it works. Vinegar acquired. Just the gold to go.
Elsewhere, I m starting to understand what I must do in the other time periods. For Laverne, I need to lure away the tentacle guarding the grandfather clock that leads to the basement. To do that, I ll need to free the prisoners by offering their warden the free dinner that can be won from the tentacle s Crufts-like human beauty contest. Problem: I don t know where to get a human.
In Bernard s time, I engineer a situation that results in Fred sleepwalking to his safe. But every time I go to grab the contract secured inside, he sleepslams the door shut. What a sleepjerk.
Back in Hoagie s time, I can t find the gold. It s probably the pen by the draft Constitution, but I can t tell if the horse s dentures are gold or grubby yellow. Oh, right, yes: there s a talking horse. I can t wait to discover what logical, grounded and not at all contrived puzzle he s involved in.
I attempt to get some value for money by tricking Andy into revealing more than he should. How do I get the gold? I ask. And, if it has anything to do with starting a rainstorm, how do I get the soap? The latter has to do with a puzzle thread I don t really understand, but I m convinced will make me angry once it s played out. I m not even sure it s relevant to my current situation. Mostly, I m just frustrated that there s an inventory item I can t pick up. Every time I try, the cleaner scolds me and walks off with it.
My hope is that by my questioning a link between the two puzzles, Andy will be a bit broader in his hints. It doesn t work. You need to keep the maid busy long enough to grab the soap. As for the gold, the pen is mightier than the sword. $6.
What a swindle! $6 for information I (mostly) knew! I d already figured I d need to keep the maid busy, I just don t know how. The only interactive element in Washington s room is the bed, and I can t seem to use any item on it. In desperation, I try using the bed by itself. It works. Hoagie nudges against it, messing up the blankets. I call the maid and grab the soap.
As for the other hint, I suppose it at least confirms that it s the pen I m after. Also, now I have the soap I can clean the cart to trigger a rainstorm. Let s not stop to consider how idiotic that last sentence is, and instead stop to wonder why I need to trigger a rainstorm. I have no clue. I do it anyway, and, as a result, Benjamin Franklin returns to the hotel. I guess that s progress.
Using a letter from the past, Bernard gains access to a flag gun which I swap with a cigar lighter so as to pilfer an exploding cigar without blowing my face off. Perhaps, at times over the last two decades, you ve wondered why adventure games died out. I d argue that the answer lies within this paragraph. If you re au fait with the genre, you should be able to puzzle out the answer. No? Here s another clue: I then gave the exploding cigar to George Washington to blow out his false teeth.
Here I realise that I can use the chattering joke teeth from Bernard s time. If I can give them to Washington, people will assume he s cold and light the fire. I m not sure how this will help, but I figure any puzzle to do with the founding fathers will get me the gold pen.
The trouble is I can t get the chattering teeth. They bounce away whenever Bernard gets near them. Once again, I try everything in my inventory to no avail. Fine, Andy, you win again.
Catching the chattering teeth? That would be grate. $3.
As a games journalist, Andy s idea of a cryptic clue involves puns. Still, I had previously tried to pry open the grate. Unless, that is, I can just open it. I tell Bernard to open it, and, of course, it opens. Stupid verb wall.
I give Washington the chattering teeth and, lo and behold, a fire is lit. This gives me an idea. I go to the roof and place John Hancock s blanket over the chimney, filling the downstairs room with smoke. The founding fathers evacuate, and I pinch their pen. Sorry America, no Constitution for you.
I hand the pen to Red, who makes me a battery. It s uncharged, which finally explains the point of Benjamin Franklin. Besides the founding of a nation stuff, I suppose.
It s time for some more sentences I d never imagined writing. I have found an entrant for the tentacles human show. It s Ted, the mummified corpse that exists in all three time zones. Progress is smooth, at first. I plop some wet noodles on his head, and use a fork to style them into a meatball laden hairdo. I also get my strongest competitor disqualified with some fake barf that, earlier, I d rescued from a ceiling.
Hair is only one of the categories by which a human (or mummy) is judged. The other two are smile and laugh. Once again, I am stuck.
You can t use the chattering teeth, but there s another set somewhere around in Hoagie s timeline. I had to look that up myself, so that ll be $6.
The horse! I knew it! The problem is, I ve already tried to get the horse s dentures, and failed over and over again. And so, like some desperate puzzle addict jonesing for just one more hint, I go crawling back to Andy.
There s a glass next to the horse. When do people put their dentures in a glass? $3.
This makes me so frustrated that I involuntarily stand up in exasperation. That s when I remember that I work in an openplan office. I grab the mug from my desk and walk off to make some coffee, thus creating a cover story for my sudden vertical outburst. The reason I m annoyed is that, in previously attempting to learn the purpose of Bernard s book, I d used it on just about every character. Each one had said that it made them feel sleepy. I d come so close, but, for whatever reason, I hadn t considered using it on the horse. Back at my desk, coffee in hand, I easily acquire the dentures. Great, my mummy has the best smile.
A list of Andy's earnings: $3 Catching the teeth, $3 Making the mummy laugh, $3 Acquiring the lab coat, $3 Accessing the VCR, $3 Engineering a prisoner escape, $4 Opening the time capsule, $6 Acquiring the soap, $9 Making the mummy smile. $34 Total
I still can t work out how to do almost anything else. My progress has halted in each time zone. In the past, I need to persuade Red to give me his lab coat so I can hand it to Benny Franklin. In the present, I need to persuade Nurse Edna to let me access the security room s VCR. In the future, I need to persuade a panel of tentacle judges that my mummy has the best laugh. Instead of the usual back-and-forth, I send Andy a bumper list of requests.
An employee? Seems Red Edison wants help. Edna s a real pushover. Clowns often make people laugh. $9.
That was expensive, but worth it. In the present, I use the scalpel on the fake clown, take out his chuckling voice box and send it to Laverne. All items in place, she wins the competition. Also in the present, I notice the Help Wanted sign. I pick it up and send it to Hoagie. Red assumes he made the sign and gives Hoagie the lab coat. I deliver it to Franklin, who makes it into a kite. I attach the battery to said kite and hurl it into a lightning strike. Grabbing the now charged battery, I plug it into the Chron-o-John. I have completed the past!
As for Bernard, I wonder if it could really be so simple? I tell him to push Edna. He gives her chair a kick, sending her flying out of the room. Once again, I m a bit annoyed. Bernard is so mild that he refused to use a scalpel to cut gum off a floor. Now he s kicking lecherous old women? It s completely out of character. Yes, that s right, I m choosing to blame the game s inconsistent logic rather than my inability to use a verb wall.
I record Fred entering his safe code, and then watch as the IRS arrests him. I grab a contract out of the safe, and through a complicated series of events involving an ink-stained stamp collection, a painted mummy and some light dialogue puzzling post it in the past. As a result, Bernard has access to enough money to buy the diamond he s needed all this time. I stuff it into the time machine and complete the present day.
Just the future to untangle now, and doing so involves a puzzle so infuriatingly nonsensical that this remastered edition has an achievement that makes fun of it. Having given the prison warden my dinner coupon, I must now cajole the prisoners into staging an escape. Naturally, I have to consult Andy. He points me in the direction of the cat specifically to the fence it s scratching itself on and charges me another $3. Eventually, I realise I must use the correction fluid on the fence, which, as the cat returns for another scratch, leaves a white stripe along its back. Tempting the cat with a mouse, I grab him and take him to the cell. The prisoners naturally think he s a skunk, and make a run for it.
Look, I m just going to say it: I m glad adventure games died off. Fans used to lament the fact that mindless action had replaced their more cerebral pleasures. But Quake never asked me to paint a cat by proxy. That s not cerebral, just annoying puzzle design. The Longest Journey, an adventure game, has you use breadcrumbs to tempt a seagull into attacking a rubber duck so that you can retrieve a clothesline. Gabriel Knight 3, an adventure game, has you style a moustache out of syrup and cat hair in order to disguise yourself as a man who doesn t have a moustache. Adventure games deserved to die.
With the tentacle guarding the grandfather clock lured away, Laverne can now access the basement. I go to put the hamster on the treadmill of Fred s old generator in order to power the Chron-o-John. As I do, a boxing glove attached to an extending arm shoots out of the wall and punches Laverne in the face. This, I feel, is the perfect visual metaphor for my time playing this game.
The hamster scurries into a mouse hole, but I d already amended the Constitution to mandate vacuum cleaners in every basement. I did this for no conceivable reason. Retrieving the hamster, I put him on his wheel and plug in the Chron-o-John.
All time periods are complete, and the three characters reunite for an epilogue. It is mercifully simple, requiring only that I hurl a bowling ball at some tentacles and talk another into firing his shrink ray at Fred s head mirror.
It s done. I have completed Day of the Tentacle without a walkthrough. I owe Andy $34. More than that, though, I now hate adventure games. It s something of a pyrrhic victory.
The Steam Summer Sale is on! Lots of good deals to be had, including the famous team-based FPS Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is currently half-price that's $7.50/ 6. There's a catch, though, and it's kind of a strange one: If you buy it during the Summer Sale, you can't gift it to someone else.
The restriction came to light on Reddit, when a CS:GO redditor said he was unable to buy the game as a gift and asked if anyone else had experienced the same thing. A Valve rep quickly stepped in to confirm that everyone would experience the same thing.
CS:GO will not be giftable during the sale, the rep said. Our goal with sales is to grow the community and historically, during sales, the new users that stick around are mainly the ones that purchase copies for themselves.
That sounds to me like a nice way of saying that Valve wants to crack down on alt-accounts, which is understandable and even admirable, since it's effectively prioritize that over sales of the game. It's a bit surprising that there's no up-front warning of the game's current ungiftability, though; it's not like people are losing money on it, but a heads-up would go a long way toward avoiding unhappy surprises.
(And if you do actually want to gift it to someone? Just PayPal 'em the money or wait until the sale's over.)
Summoner s Rift is a place of constant change. Every new patch brings something different to the table, offering new item builds and shifts to current champion picks or bans. Although patch 6.12 has focused on slight tweaks to items and masteries, it has brought certain champions and classes to the forefront of the game. So who are the strongest champions to look out for this patch?
Ravenous Flock s functionality in patch 6.10 opened up a build that allowed Swain to leverage multiple pure-defense items while still dealing tons of damage. Given Riot s history with the broken tank Ekko build, they rightfully took steps to prevent tank Swain from becoming a thing by reducing Decrepify s damage and Ravenous Flock s healing. But despite his nerf in patch 6.11, Swain s impact in top and mid lane remains unchanged. His tankiness and CC are as potent as ever, while his base healing on his ultimate still feels strong. The combo of Rod of Ages and Rylai s Crystal Scepter compliment the meta of building tanky items with added damage, making him a very difficult champion to deal with.
captures just how strong and utterly infuriating Vladimir can be in the current meta. Vladimir s consistent damage and huge sustain makes him very hard to kill and frustrating to play against. The Crimson Reaper can be countered by building healing reduction items like Morellonomicon or Executioner's Calling and can be shut down with good team co-ordination. However, in solo queue it becomes all too easy for the blood thirsty vampire to spiral out of control and wreak havoc. Just like Swain, Vladimir can become an unkillable monster when ahead. His late game is very strong and his Sanguine Pool allows him to dodge most abilities, while Hemoplague gives him an insane amount of life back in teamfights. Vladimir is a champion you don t want to risk dealing with.
Anivia had a very shaky start in the mage rework patch, but Riot has since buffed her into an extremely dominant burst mage. While she s always been a power-pick for those willing to learn her steep mastery curve, Anivia as a whole feels a lot smoother to play. The Cryophoenix has more than enough damage to quickly dispatch enemy carries, while also zoning them from her team with Crystalize. This ability is especially potent due to the rise in popularity of marksmen without blinks, making it very difficult for them to escape the Guardian of the Freljord s icy clutches. Anivia fits this meta well due her use of tanky AP items and her ability to deal consistent burst damage.
Malzahar has been steadily climbing over the past few patches and currently has the highest win rate in top lane and third highest mid lane. He s a very strong champion in general and can deal high amounts of damage in teamfights, but what really makes the Prophet of the Void shine at the moment is his lockdown. Malzahar can easily shut down popular bruiser types like Irelia with ease by utilising Nether Grasp to suppress his enemy, killing them before they can pose a threat to his team. He also has a solid laning phase and can quickly push waves with the help of his Voidlings, making it difficult for his opponent to farm as they lose creeps to their turret. He s also a strong counter pick towards the more passive mages we re seeing in this meta.
The Rift s spectral horseman has been somewhat non-existent for several patches, but now he s galloping back stronger than ever. Thanks to the attack speed changes to Trinity Force Hecarim can now snowball into a tank that deals a lot of damage. The cursed spectre has the ability to gank from otherwise impossible locations, disregarding the usual ward placements and creating tower diving opportunities with ease. His high mobility allows him to quickly dive into the backline and kill enemy squishies while he sponges incoming attacks for his team. Hecarim is a truly terrifying presence on the Rift and one you should definitely watch out for. Just grab yourself a Trinity Force and you ll be ready to cause all the horsey hijinks.
League s resident polar bear is making a triumphant return this patch. While not as strong as Hecarim, Volibear is becoming quite a frequent pick and ban among Bronze, Silver and Gold divisions. His passive Chosen of the Storm allows Volibear tower dive with ease, turning high-risk situations into very low-risk plays. Because of the regen from his passive, it can be easy to misjudge how much damage is needed to kill a heavily wounded Volibear. Players can end up feeding him a kill due to his passive keeping him alive, putting his opponents on tilt and baiting them into unwinnable fights out of frustration. Volibear s popularity continues to rise due to the lack blinks and dashes in this patch, making Rolling Thunder all the more scary and effective. The Ursine Leader is an excellent hybrid tank that can sponge incoming attacks and deal percent and base damage to even the tankiest of champions.
Irelia has greatly benefited from the changes to Trinity Force and remains a consistent pick in all ranks except for Bronze. Trinity Force has allowed the Ionian to deal more consistent damage thanks to the added attack speed, as-well-as granting her cooldown reduction and subsequent buffs to her health and movement speed. This increase in damage allows her to focus on tankier builds, while still being able to output the highest amount of damage on her team. While not necessarily OP Irelia has become a popular ban amongst higher divisions due to the risk of her getting fed and becoming an unstoppable late game presence.
Ashe has seen a huge surge in popularity partly due to the indirect buffs of Essence Reaver and Infinity Edge which has increased the damage of her auto attacks. The recent Lucian nerf has only helped Ashe climb further in ranking as players look for the next best carry. She is a popular pick in all divisions except Bronze where Miss Fortune currently reigns supreme. With her top tier trading potential, excellent self-initiating ultimate and synergy between Frost Shot and Runaan s Hurricane, the Queen of the Freljord has once again become a top priority for those looking to deal tons of damage.
Zyra is definitely one of the most impactful supports in the game right now as she can initiate fights, play defensively, peel for her AD carry and counter-engage. This makes her a very flexible champion who can fulfil many roles, giving her the potential to become a secondary AP carry. This also means she is very diverse when it comes to itemisation. Zyra can hold her own in lane against the enemy bot lane with her high base and area of effect damage and can be really difficult deal with, especially late game when she has her core AP items. Her zoning potential is fantastic and remains useful even when behind, while her burst can allow her to safely harass from afar.
The salty scourge has fallen off the radar recently, but he is making a comeback in this patch. The changes to Trinity Force have allowed him to create more impact in the game overall. With the added attack speed and extra cooldown, Gangplank is now a stronger split pusher and objective-controlling champion. He is also one of the few champions with a truly global ultimate, making him a great pick for those wanting to control the Dragon and Baron buffs. His ability to shred through tanks makes him an excellent counter to the tanky junglers and builds we are witnessing in this meta. However, Gangplank is a high skillcap champion and can be hard to master, but if you re willing to put the time into learning him you will be greatly rewarded.
Twenty years ago, id Software released Quake. You ve probably heard of it. What s less known is that Quake was an idea that had been gestating since id s early days, back in the era when it was best known for the side-scrolling Commander Keen series. The first Keen promised that coming soon as The Fight For Justice, an epic RPG starring Quake the strongest, most dangerous person on the continent, who would explore an epic RPG world armed with a hammer in what id was already calling The finest PC game yet. Instead, it would take half a decade before Quake s adventure came out, breaking both technical limits and id Software itself.
When Quake arrived, it was a true 3D action game everything built in polygons. Until then, most games had just faked it. Wolfenstein 3D took place on entirely flat maps. Doom offered different heights, but everything was still drawn in 2D. It wasn t possible to have rooms under rooms and the like. Duke Nukem 3D and other Build engine games, particularly Shadow Warrior, used advanced cheats to fake the effect. When you jumped into water for instance, you were actually invisibly teleported into another zone elsewhere on the map. Quake was truly 3D, doing things like spiral staircases and lava pits for real, and being as twisty and turny as it liked.
There had been full 3D games of course, like Descent, or the Freescape games that powered the likes of Castle Master even as far back as the ZX Spectrum. To do this, though, they typically had to choose between simple and slow. Quake didn t. It was a technical showpiece and it moved like a greased-up ferret on a decent PC. No excuses. No compromises.
Or at least, no technical compromises. Of Quake s three great achievements, the single-player game is easily the weakest. It s not a terrible game or anything, but where Doom still stands up as a great campaign full of detail and wonderful design despite its simplicity, Quake is a largely bland and joyless experience whose memorable moments were almost entirely restricted to the first shareware episode. They were pretty cool, though. A main menu in the form of a 3D level, with each chapter s area themed around the aesthetic to follow, forcing you to jump a lava pit to select hard mode and seek out the Nightmare mode in the small level beyond. Big baddie Chthon, hurling fire in his lava lair. The first time having your face eaten off by a Fiend. The low-gravity physics of the secret level, Ziggaurat Vertigo. They re effective, as was the experience of being in a fast-paced 3D world full of action.
Players hoping for a constant stream of such innovation were disappointed. Despite the Lovecraftian influences, there was little to fear or any sense of anything great going on. There were no more giant, dramatic bosses, with the final one, Shub-Niggerauth, just being a static blob defeated with a cheap telefrag rather than a weapon. There was little sense of place. The levels were murky shooting galleries, where even Doom had tried to make its locations feel like real locations to whatever degree of real you can get from starbases slowly being taken over by biotechnology. Certainly players just coming in from Duke Nukem 3D and its real-world settings and constant variety couldn t help but be disappointed, even if Quake has honestly aged much better. It s still dull, but at least unlike Duke it s not writing cheques its engine long stopped being able to cash, and much easier to take as a simple shooter rather than a bigger Experience.
The main problem was that after years of promises and expectation, to have a game that was basically Doom again only set in a castle was something of a letdown both internally and externally. All the RPG features, most planned new gameplay concepts, even the idea of a main character wielding a hammer, had been sucked out, mostly to get the thing out of the door. This led to a major schism within id. John Romero packed his bags to go start Ion Storm and create the more narrative/detail driven game that he wanted to make. (In a case of history repeating, his co-founder Tom Hall had done much the same over the original Doom, which he d also envisioned as being much more of a story-driven experience than the shooter it ended up being.)
Luckily, multiplayer was a whole other matter. Here, the stripped down simplicity and full 3D allowed for fantastic arena design in genuinely atmospheric levels full of cubby-holes to camp and launch assaults from, and even the occasional gimmick, like hitting a button to slide back a level s floor and drop unwary players into a pool of lava. It felt great. The weapons had real kick. Gibbing other players was a pleasure.
Outside the game, it helped that by 1996 online play was finally becoming viable for PC gamers across the world. While Doom had spawned a huge scene in its day, getting online in 1993 was a pipe dream for most players outside of universities. At home, gamers were lucky to have a null-modem cable to connect two PCs together, never mind enjoy the fun of epic LAN parties. Of course those who could got to enjoy a truly wonderful experience.
And so, people played Quake, and saw that Quake was good. The rocket jump alone took Quake to a whole new level. This wasn t an id invention, but a discovery by fans, so of course the maps hadn t been designed to handle it. The result? One of the net s first famous speed-runs , in which the whole game was obliterated in under twenty minutes with tricks like bunny-hopping to raise incredible speed, and rockets to hop through what were meant to be tantalising doors only intended to be accessed after collecting a key or going all around the houses.
Playing fairly or not, the raw sense of place and weight that 3D offered soon made the fakery of 2.5D untenable. It became impossible to ignore that sprites were just two-dimensional, and that when killed, their collapse was a totally canned animation rather than reacting properly to physics (though it wouldn t be until Half-Life that games took the next step and made it standard to give characters skeletons instead of keyframed animation, ushering in the still ongoing ragdoll comedy era).
What all of Quake s technology really empowered though was its community. It was the first game-as-platform, made possible by not just by the 3D engine, but Carmack including an interpreted language called QuakeC that allowed modders to do more than simply create their own levels and make the monsters look like Bart Simpson. They could completely bend the engine to their wishes.
And the modding community ran with this. When you bought Quake, you were buying into a whole universe of content online. Initially this was limited to simple-but-cool additions, like giving the player a grappling hook to scale and swing around levels in ways that had been impossible with previous 2D engines. Experiments gave way to full total conversions like , which swapped the players out for vehicles and turned deathmatch into a 3D vehicle combat game. Others proved that the sky wasn t close to being the limit. A little game called Team Fortress, for example, began as a Quake mod, launching with the Scout, Sniper, Soldier, Demoman and Medic classes and building from there.
The ability to create stages, have polygonal characters, and have multiple people control them in scenes also spawned machinima filmmaking. Quake s early examples of machinima may be the of the genre by modern standards, with celebrated stuff like and now looking somewhat yeah... in the era of Red vs. Blue and Source Filmmaker and whatever the hell people are doing to the Overwatch girls today. At the time though, they were often very impressive, especially when run live in-engine, and did pave the way for something new.
Much as the Doom mapping community still puts out new levels, Quake still has a modding scene. This month sees the release of . Last month, joined the fray. Also, Carmack open sourced Quake s code in 1999, coders have been able to completely overhaul the old engine and bring it much more in line with modern standards. offers real-time rendering of light and shadow, and likely Quake as you remember it looking if you haven t played it for a while, while others, like focus more on accuracy.
One of many flowcharts mapping the history of Carmack's code, via Wikipedia. Click for full size.
No game since has managed to replicate Quake s spectacular level of success as a canvas for modding. Others have impressive modding communities, for sure, but not the same scale. With Quake, anything seemed possible as long as it didn t take too many polygons. Games like Second Life tried to replicate the phenomenon online, and of course, now would-be programmers can get their hands on the likes of Source and Unity and Game Maker for free or almost free, rendering modding less important at least for making total conversions or a wholly new game out of the bones of the old.
However long it lasted, the Quake era was important kickstarting many an industry career, as well as providing the kind of playtime that most games can only dream of supplying. Some mods even got a commercial release, though not necessarily fondly remembered ones. , anybody? The answer, in case you re wondering, is hell no .
Finally, the Quake story became weird. After two official expansions (Scourge of Armagon, aka The One Without The Dragon In It , and Dissolution of Eternity, aka The One WITH The Dragon In It ), id disappeared for a while and released Quake 2 as a single-player focused SF shooter in which you played a space marine fighting the unfortunately named Strogg. It was not very good. At all. Its main contribution to the world was, along with Unreal, teaming up with 3D accelerators to splash coloured lightning around the world whether it liked it or not. Then Quake 3 ditched all of that for a futuristic arena shooter starring characters like a giant cyborg eye before Raven s Quake 4 went back to the Strogg nonsense for another single-player focused game.
With the newly announced , it seems clear a new Quake game is no guarantee of a particular story or style, but rather a way for id to make use of owning the name. Despite that, close your eyes and picture Quake . What comes to mind isn t just another game to be ticked off as completed, nor a technical achievement to be respected, but that rare game that blew past its limits. Quake lives on to some extent in just about every shooter that followed it, and made gaming a better, more advanced, and endlessly more exciting place for its existence.