Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Back on the road.

Y’know GSC Game World? Oh, you do! The Ukrainian studio behind spookyhard FPS series S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Oh, you must! You remember – they seemed to close in 2011 but held on a bit longer, still working on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 for a few months then cancelling it, and since only resurfaced to weigh in on confusing brand rights issues. See, I knew you knew them. Well, they’re back, baby! Boom! And other exciting onomatopoeia. They’ve announced a return to active game-making, and chatted a little about what went down, including about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2’s fate.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

See this here? This is a bargepole. It is, I would say, approximately ten feet long. What I’m doing with this bargepole is very deliberately not touching something with it. Even if said bargepole were a hundred feet long, I would still be very deliberately not touching something with it. That something is a crowdfunding attempt for a game called ‘STALKER Apocalypse.’ The people making it previously tried to make a game called Areal.

Yeah, the Areal that got abruptly pulled down from Kickstarter because it made all kinds of dodgy promises about being a spiritual S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sequel. “Stalker is just a word”, apparently. Uh. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

I don’t want to get into any speculation of my own about what’s genuine and who has the right to do what in terms of STALKER’s heritage right now. Let’s just look at the brief in-game footage devs West-Games have finally pumped out to support their slow-moving Kickstarter, and see how we feel then.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Areal


The Kickstarter for the Stalker "spiritual successor" Areal looked like a sure-fire train wreck after it launched, as serious questions about its legitimacy and the bona fides of the team behind it seemed almost certain to bring it down. Yet it continues to persevere, and today the former lead designer of Vostok Games' Survarium, who also worked as a designer on the original Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl, posted a video message confirming that he's joined the West Games development team.

Alexey Sytyanov actually hooked up with West Games as a consultant last week, but today the studio announced that he's now joined up full time as a producer. In a Kickstarter update, Sytyanov compared the negativity surrounding Areal to the early days of Stalker, when GSC Game World faced criticism for its lack of experience. "What happened was that we pushed through that and made an awesome cult hit video game series," he wrote.

Sytyanov hasn't been involved in the Survarium project for about a year, according to Vostok Games, which said he and the studio parted ways over creative differences. But his presence nonetheless brings some much-needed credibility to Areal and West Games, whose claims of being composed of the "core people" behind Stalker were called into question by Vostok and others. West Games hasn't responded to requests for comment and the whole thing still looks a little bit dicey, but it's also seems increasingly possible that much of the furor over Areal was simply the result of extremely poor communication.

Sadly, Sytyanov's video message doesn't show us anything new; it's just him talking for a few minutes and then a few shots of concept art we've already seen. Meanwhile, the Areal Kickstarter continues to slowly grind toward success: With 15 days left on the clock, it stands at just shy of $35,000 on a $50,000 goal.

PC Gamer
4e36a15c5b98084c6fb813c0ce02c474_large


The team behind the Stalker-inspired Areal said in a recent Kickstarter update that it has worked things out with Vostok Games and cleared up all the complaints against it. But a Vostok representative says that's not really what happened at all, and that it's been forced to let the matter drop because it can't actually do anything about it.

I was excited for Areal when the Kickstarter went live a couple days ago, especially since the Kickstarter claims the game is being developed by "the core people that developed the Stalker series" and that most of the West Games team is in fact "composed of former senior GSC Game World staff members." But it didn't take long for that excitement to turn to suspicion.

Vostok Games, which emerged from the ruins of GSC Game World following the cancellation of Stalker 2 and has spent the last couple of years working on Survarium, very quickly spoke out against those claims. It suggested that West Games employees had only been peripherally involved in Stalker, and also complained that the Areal Kickstarter makes extensive use of Stalker assets and video without permission or even acknowledgement. The pitch video, for instance, is full of gameplay action lifted directly from the Stalker games, but the narrator strongly implies that it's taken from Areal.



It attracted enough negative attention that West Games posted an "Addressing Vostok Games" Kickstarter update yesterday. "We have contacted Vostok Games about their supposed claim that we are fraudulent," it says. "They say that they have no relation to that claim and have since deleted the forum topic wherein a moderator accused us of being fake." In a "mini-update" posted today, it repeated the claim that the complaints are coming from "a former Stalker modder and current creator of a similar post-apocalyptic Kickstarter" who is bent on causing grief for Areal.

But Vostok Games PR Manager Joe Mullin tells PC Gamer that while Vostok has spoken to West Games, it was to protest its claim of being "core developers of Stalker" and deceptive use of promotional materials from the game. The matter has been "sorted out," he explained, but only because there's nothing else Vostok can do.

"As Vostok Games does not own the Stalker IP we can't (ourselves) take any kind of legal action. That is up to the owner of the rights, GSC," Mullin told us. "Apart from that, if Eugene Kim from West Games decides to carry on with his false claims, that is his choice. But we feel we have made it clear that the public should think twice before donating any money."

It does look very dodgy. The Kickstarter makes big promises but comes to the table with nothing but some concept art and a pile of old Stalker assets, and the $50,000 goal is suspiciously low, especially for a multi-platform next-gen release. (West Games says Areal is being developed for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Wii U along with the PC.) And finally, there's the question of lead game designer Peter Dushynskyi, whose photo on the Kickstarter page is actually a Shutterstock image of "a young man standing on a dark background." Yet for all that, it's also enjoying some success, having raised nearly $32,000 of its goal at the time of writing.

We've reached out to West Games for further information.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

When we first saw the announcement, I had no idea someone making a 'spiritual successor' to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. would cause such a mess.

If you took a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. design document and replaced the words “Chernobyl disaster” with “weird meteorite,” you wouldn’t be far off from Areal. Think post-apocalyptic open world survival FPS with non-linear missions, populated by simulated life and mutants, and fizzing with dangerous anomalies. That sounds pretty enticing in itself, but developers West Games also have a few former S.T.A.L.K.E.R. folks working on the game, including the series’ lead designer.

As you might guess, it’s on Kickstarter. However, West Games don’t have much to show of Areal at this point. Their pitch relies heavily upon S.T.A.L.K.E.R. footage and pre-existing artwork not made for the game (some even made for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.). Given that they’re only looking for $50,000 ( 30,000)–nowhere near enough to realise such ambitious ideas–it’s a mite concerning.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Areal


Areal is a post-apocalyptic, open-world shooter that claims to be the "definitive spiritual successor to the cult hit S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series". Another claim: that its creators, West Games, are a team mostly "composed of former senior GSC Game World staff members". It's currently on Kickstarter, and it's looking for $50,000.

That's the basic starting point, but things get a lot more complicated. Vostok Games a band of former GSC Game World staff and creators of the STALKER-inspired MMO Survarium have taken umbrage to these statements, saying that West Games are fraudulently promoting themselves as core STALKER developers.



"We have contacted GSC s lawyers regarding this fraudulent claim of being the developers of Stalker and Metro Last Light," wrote Vostok's Joe Mullin on a now-deleted forum thread. "Please do all you can do ensure people know these claims are false."

Vostok marketing manager Oleg Yavorsky further expanded on their objections in a statement made to VG247.

"So that you understand, over the years of development of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and then Metro series, there have been literally hundreds of people involved in working on various bits and pieces, starting from beta-testers up to modellers responsible for certain weapon models.

"Many people came to the studio to work for a few months just for the sake of adding 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R. development' to their portfolio. Frequently they claimed afterwards to be the core developers behind the game (you wouldn t know anyway, right?).

"Yet, my biggest concern is that West Games are using the footage and assets of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and representing them as their own, which is not only illegal, but simply just not right. I guess it s all made for the sake of getting extra publicity (which unfortunately works), but guys on Kickstarter should probably pay attention."

West Games have published their own statement. In a Kickstarter update, founder Eugene Kim says:

"As most of you know, a studio called GSC game world existed until 2011 and they were responsible for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. After GSC dissolved, 2 new studios formed that consisted of former S.T.AL.K.E.R. employees: Vostok Games and 4A games. In 2013, a new company formed called West games, which consists of many former senior staff members from the now dissolved GSC Game World.

"Since then we've expanded (check out the Our Core Team section) and have been working on a project that you all know as Areal. Areal is based on a book of the same name written by Tarmashev (tarmashev.com). And now we're at present day and handling the launch of our Kickstarter (Ievgeniia and our PR guys have been a big help with that)."

"Now that our mini history lesson is out of the way, we can move on to other things! Regarding in-game footage, we have worked on various engines to thoroughly examine as well as learn about how different technologies and resources work. This development process is what we tried to convey in our trailer. Doing this allows us to maximize frame-rate and graphical fidelity in our game."

It's a complicated issue. Some of the concept art on the Kickstarter page appears to be from members of the West Games team, but was created specifically for STALKER. That makes it tricky to discern what the legal ramifications of their use might be.

More than that though, West Games aren't exactly clear about the footage shown in their Kickstarter video. Footage from STALKER is shown, but isn't clearly labelled as such. And much of what the team show is now suggested to be past work on "various engines". While it's not unusual for developers to turn to Kickstarter in the concept stage, it's in their interest to be honest with the people who plan to support them.
PC Gamer
Stalker


Like a lot of you (I'm guessing), I've never even tried the multiplayer modes in the terrific Stalker series, but it's good to know that I'll be able to if I ever get the itch. GSC Gameworld's post-apocalyptic horror shooter games are the latest to be rescued from GameSpy oblivion, via automagical Steam patches, or if you don't own the games on Steam, one equally magical manual multi-patch for all three games. This will switch the multiplayer servers over from GameSpy to GSC Gameworld's own, slightly less risky ones (it's not entirely clear who's running them, as GSC was dissolved in 2011).

If you've accrued an impressive set of statistics in Shadow of Chernobyl, Clear Sky or Call of Pripyat, those won't be saved, but if the post-apocalypse (and more destructively, the decline of GameSpy) has taught us anything, it's that nothing lasts forever, not even your kill-death ratio.

Previously on GameSpyWatch: Dawn of War, Battlefield 2/1942, Halo: Combat Evolved, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and various Civs and Borderlandses' multiplayer modes have all been saved. Crysis and Crysis 2's multiplayer shenanigans have not.

Have a read of Ian Birnbaum's recent GameSpy article to see the full scale of the problem, and to meet the players fighting to keep the games alive.

The GameSpy servers were shut down yesterday.

Ta, PCGamesN.
PC Gamer
world-of-pc-gaming


One of the pleasant parts of writing about games is just meeting the people who share your weird career. I went to a media dinner at PAX East this year and had the chance to get to know some editors that I hadn t met before. The guy sitting next to me happened to be primarily a console gamer, but that actually ended up being a neat opportunity for us to have a kind of cultural exchange. I got to learn about the state of Kinect games and Halo, and he got to hear me explain the appeal of Arma, a game that inspired me to memorize the NATO alphabet.

I took his business card and emailed him a few of my favorite Arma videos by Dslyecxi and CHKilroy later that night, hoping they would give him a sense of the beautiful coordination that s possible in a systems-driven, moddable, massive-scale multiplayer game. A few days after PAX East, I got a wonderful reply our conversation and the videos I d passed along had inspired him to build his first PC in 15 years.

I love being a PC evangelist. With my colleague s note, though, came a tough question: What are the three PC-only games I missed in the last 15 years that I absolutely have to play?

Daunting, right? These are the games I recommended, pasted verbatim from our email exchange:

//

From: Evan Lahti
Sent: Tuesday, May 5, 2014 4:01 PM
To: James Videogames
Subject: Re: ARMA WONDERS

Hey James,

Late follow-up here, but whoa, how exciting! Let me know if you need a hand with the build. Happy to pitch in or mail along one of our PC building issues.

Glad to hear you re willing to dig through some of PC gaming s wondrous past. Give GOG.com a gander for most of that. Fallout 2 is a must; building a grounded, variously amoral character in that setting holds up well. Deus Ex demands a bit of modding to make comfortably modern, though there are some great guides out there. TLJ is a wonder.

But man, this is a dream question. It s the gaming editor s equivalent of being visited by an alien, then asked to provide the three products of humanity they re most proud of. The approach I ve taken here is to suggest three games that are deeply representative of what there is to love about PC gaming as it exists right now. I don t know if I can say that these are absolutely, individually the best games ever made and I remember you mentioning not being particularly interested in MOBAs, so I ll omit those but as a group I think that these games form some good kindling for what ll hopefully be a passionate relationship with PC gaming going forward.

Play these games:


Civilization V
Civ is two things to me: the best board game in the world (that you can happen to play alone) and history, reverently presented in an elegant, entertaining form. The care with which Firaxis animates its tiny, tiled Earth and digital figurines does so much to make its subject matter vibrant. Beyond that, it s a wonderfully arranged set of rules that sets up meaningful decisions around how you develop your civilization. You have to zero-in on short-term and long-term goals while bumping up against the cultural, political, and territorial ambitions of the other civs in your world; it s one of the few experiences where I can drop a dozen-some hours into a game, lose, and enthusiastically start a new game the next second, certain in my new, improved plan to achieve a science victory.

My best advice, if you aren t big on history, would be to dig up a mod for whatever your favorite fandom might be LOTR, Game of Thrones, The Elder Scrolls Avatar: The Last Airbender? A weird amalgamation of Blizzard properties? My Little Pony? I don t know what you want. Perhaps your lifelong dream was to found a civilization dedicated to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Play as the Geth for all I care.


Papers, Please
A lot of the publishing friction that used to exist for individual and small game creators has been removed over the past few years, and it s a trend that s invited more weird, thoughtful, emotional narrative and systems-driven games. Papers, Please is my favorite from the past year; Lucas Pope takes a depressing setting (a fictionalized stand-in for a post-USSR Europe) and an uncomfortable subject (poverty and totalitarianism) and molds it into dystopian Oregon Trail told through rubber stamps and passport photos.

You play an immigration checkpoint officer, reporting into work each day to check over documents for errors. Each person processed correctly earns you money that goes towards maintaining the survival of your family (expressed as an end-of-day score screen where you pay to heat your squalid apartment, for example), but there s only so much time in each day to earn this money, so there s a real pressure to analyze quickly. Without spoiling anything the mundanity of all that is undercut by a series of moral decisions you have to make; in my review, I described it as the intersection of efficiency and intrigue. The need to focus on paperwork to detect forgeries while weighing your conscience and the need to collect your meager paycheck to support your family. The confluence of all that is brilliant. Another quote: A paperwork sim might sound mundane, but spotting a mislabeled gender or a forged stamp produces real pride, and Papers, Please keeps boredom at bay by gradually introducing incentives for bending or breaking the rules.

When you re done, do Kentucky Route Zero, The Castle Doctrine, The Stanley Parable, Gone Home, and The Swapper.



S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat + the CoP Complete mod
Despite being our designated shooter guy, I made the mistake of waiting years to try STALKER. Pripyat is the third expansion, and the Complete mod dials up the production quality of the game s skyboxes, textures, and other assets to modern standards without altering the story or gameplay. Complete is what I d recommend for a first playthrough, but feel free to give Misery a look if you re feeling especially masochistic.

Other than Arma, and with FEAR as a close second, the most memorable firefights I ve had in video games have been in STALKER. Imagine fighting on open terrain, in the dark, with limited ammo, against an unknown number of bandits that are crawling around in some beat-up, abandoned factory. Pripyat prompts you to play with a ton of spontaneity, and that scrappy quality of its firefights distinguishes it from anything else in gaming. The closest approximation might be clearing out a dangerous, random bandit camp in Skyrim, but that s always felt more like an exercise in picking apart an outpost at my own pace rather than being forced to fight on the fly.

STALKER isn't afraid to leave itself unexplained, and you realize how rare the experience of encountering enemies with zero introduction to how they operate is in modern gaming. In other words, without the heavy-handed explanation and focus-tested tutorialization you d get from many Western shooters. That doesn t mean STALKER is tough per se I d describe it more as a game that trusts you enough to feel around in its (haunted, radioactive) world with your arms extended, make mistakes, and learn through that experience. This approach to design is also part of the DNA of DayZ and Arma. Have fun fighting invisible radioactive monstrosities in swamps during a lightning storm!

Mechanically, too, STALKER mixes fidelity with playability in some nice ways; guns degrade and require specific types of ammunition, but every rifle and pistol feels as comfortable as a Call of Duty weapon.

Also:

FTL, the pinnacle of the current roguelike craze. I suppose it s out on iPad, too.

Skyrim + mods, most of which are single-click installs these days through Steam Workshop (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/browse/?appid=72850&browsesort=toprated)

Something like Skyrim Unbound is especially good for a second playthrough, as it makes how you enter the world selectable from the outset. You can cut the Dragonborn aspect of the game out completely I wanted to play as a completely martial, magicless atheist, so this was especially helpful.
http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/10/27/mod-of-the-week-skyrim-unbound/

Video games,

Evan Lahti
Editor-in-Chief, PC GAMER
evan@pcgamer.com
twitter.com/elahti

//

From: James Videogames
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:01 AM
To: Evan Lahti
Subject: Re: ARMA WONDERS

Heya Evan,

Great catching dinner with you too, man. It's a rare treat to pick someone's brain who's deeply ensconced in granular PC gaming. I know folks who experiment with ArmA and EVE Online, etc. but no one who plays seriously. These videos are fascinating especially the half hour one. I don't necessarily know if I'm tempted to play now, but it's certainly reinforced my fascination.

Your selection of highlights did, however, inspire me to purchase components to build my very first PC since ye olde Packard Bell I had back in '97. Pretty excited about it to be honest. My question for you: What are the three PC-only games I missed in the last 15 years that I absolutely have to play? Archaic mechanics and aesthetics don't frighten me, so don't hold back. Fallout 2, The Longest Journey, and Deus Ex are already at the top of my list.

Best,
James

//

On Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 10:55 PM, Evan Lahti wrote:
Hey! Great having dinner with you. Here's a few Arma videos that'll give you a sense of why folks get into it:

Some gritty, tough, guerrilla-style PvP
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI7fxwy0Llo

A sizzle reel of moments
http://youtu.be/iylW68mwYIg

A longer video that shows a large-scale infantry battle with a bunch of new (but relatively experienced) players, basically like a training mission for recruits against AI
http://youtu.be/BguGRjPqCtM?t=5m6s
PC Gamer
ethanhightop
Every Friday the PC Gamer team shines a torch into the dilated pupils of the week that was. As usual, read about the good stuff first, and then the not so good stuff on the second page

THE HIGHS

Samuel Roberts: Our first proper look at The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter made my week. I feel like I m looking at a hit in the making, and as a fan of almost any game that uses a Pacific Northwest-like backdrop the source of which is my ongoing obsession with Twin Peaks, as well as a strong liking for Alan Wake and Deadly Premonition and the richness of the environmental design and intriguing story, will no doubt find it an audience. It s so far from Bulletstorm in tone and pacing, and no doubt the ex-People Can Fly staff at The Astronauts are enjoying that difference.

Cory Banks: Ludum Dare 29 took place this past weekend, and it was the largest competition yet. Almost 2,500 games were created by some sleepless devs, an all-time high for the event. Take a second and think about that: Developers made 2,500 games over a weekend. I was just happy I got my laundry done.

Even better: all of these games are free. You can scroll through the entire list, but we ve picked out a few of our early favorites. Phil was fascinated by Beneath The City, a Thief-inspired, turn-based stealth game that challenges you to save your sister from a prison. Ian s early favorites are Beneath The Trolls, where you have to escape from a troll-filled cavern, and Atomical, which shrinks the escape theme of the game jam down to the atomic level. Even if these don t grab you, there are plenty more to choose from. If you re somehow out of games to play this weekend, you ll surely find something in this list.



Evan Lahti: Cheating is nothing to celebrate, of course, but we got loads of positive feedback on our investigation of hacking in multiplayer PC games this week. After the months of research that our writer Emanuel Maiberg dedicated to the story, we learned that the battle between cheating manufacturers and game developers is a constant one, and that the users of cheats themselves aren t universally the villains that we think they are.

An interesting fact that didn t make it into the final feature, Emanuel noted on Reddit, is that apparently games ported from Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 like Homefront were some of the most hackable because they were designed for a closed system.

Phil Savage: The mod scene is in an interesting place these days. On some level, you could argue that it had declined that the rise of accessible game engines like Unity means would-be developers have a better platform for hobby projects. Even where this isn't the case, the biggest projects are more likely to be released as standalone games as seen with The Dark Mod or Black Mesa.

Really, mods are just outgrowing the games they were once attached to. But even as this process continues, there are still plenty of people dedicated to expanding and improving the games that they love. We saw that plenty of times this week: the standalone Stalker: Lost Alpha introducing cut content back to Shadow of Chernobyl, Deus Ex: Revision bringing a new style to the immersive classic, Supreme Battlefeel beautifully retexturing Supreme Commander, and Morrowind Rebirth going back into labour. I wish mods were declining. That way I'd have more spare time.



Chris Thursten: The Dota 2 patch notes dropped at about two in the morning on a weeknight, which was actually pretty convenient given that I was still up and playing Dota at the time. I spent the next half hour going over the changes with my team on Skype. These bursts of social theorycrafting are one of my favourite things about a new patch even though Reddit will be reliably ahead of us in terms of unpicking the implications of every single change, there s something special about doing it ourselves. Now that the worst of the new bugs have been nixed (nyxed?), it s a great patch. I really like the changes to Axe moving Counter Helix to pseudo-random distribution might reduce the chances of a infini-spin rampage, but it raises the skill ceiling of the hero. He now plays a little more like Lone Druid, in that you re encouraged to keep an eye on your proc rates to ensure that you get those Counter Helix spins when you need them.

I m less in love with the changes to Phoenix, who has become one of my favourite heroes since he was introduced in January. Fire Spirits definitely needed a nerf I m not too fussed about that part but the massively increased cast point on Icarus Dive makes the hero a little bit less fun. His old hair-trigger escape-or-chase button meant that you could really push your luck with dives, whereas now you need to make sure you give yourself space to dive back if anything goes wrong. He feels less ballsy, now, which is a shame. I appreciate that a large number of people will have no idea what I m talking about. That s because you weren t up at 2am reading patch notes! Seriously, what s wrong with you.

Ben Griffin: Praise be, the Star Wars canon is being reined in. To prepare for the upcoming trilogy, it has been announced that the bloated, heaving Expanded Universe that stretches 36,000 years before The Phantom Menace and 130 years after Return of the Jedi is largely being jettisoned. That includes each and every Star Wars game, too. Will that give Visceral and EA a little bit more creative licence with the franchise in the future? Here s hoping.





THE LOWS

Cory Banks: I m pretty disappointed that Bungie isn t planning to bring Destiny to the PC. I m not a Halo fan by any means (though the series insistence on constraining your choice of weapons is one of my favorite FPS design choices), but a shooter MMO with Destiny s scope could surely find an audience on our platform. I applaud Bungie for at least being open enough to explain why it s holding off on the port, but I still think the studio is making a mistake. Prioritizing the PlayStation 3 version over the PC? Doesn t seem very forward thinking to me. Good luck with that.

Samuel Roberts: I echo Cory s disappointment over Destiny not coming to PC any time in the near future. I m sure the project, as it stands, is complicated for Bungie to pull off on the PlayStation and Xbox formats already, but skipping the PC is puzzling to me, particularly as the game's roots seem to draw heavily on many games that made their name on the platform. Destiny is arriving on two formats that can surely only have a year left in lifespan for a series that Bungie can potentially run for a decade, it s baffling to still not have that commitment to PC. I m sure it will happen eventually, though.



Phil Savage: I really liked Stealth Bastard. It skilfully combined puzzles, platforming and deadly robots, making for a well-paced campaign with some memorable levels. The developers have now announced Stealth Inc 2 having long since dropped the Bastard to appeal to family-friendly console markets. Normally, news of a sequel to a game that I like would be good news. Not this time: it's a Wii U exclusive.

I don't own a Wii U. Not many people do. At the end of 2013, Nintendo announced that it had shipped (not sold) 5.86 million units. For comparison, 5.35 million users are logged into Steam right now. Overall? Around 75 million. Stealth Inc 2's developers do have a reason for using Wii U, and if you squint a bit it almost makes sense. To paraphrase: Nintendo s console doesn't have many games, so it s easier to be noticed by the users it does have.

I kind of see what they're getting at, but limiting your potential audience seems crazy. If you're worried about people discovering your game, we can help. Email me and, if your game is good, I'll write about it. I'd rather do that than post a thirty-second trailer for a DLC map-pack.

Evan Lahti: Last week s Highs & Lows was published just as Dark Souls 2 was released, so we didn t get a chance to fully scold From Software for the issues the game experienced at launch. Though a 4/28 patch addressed a start-up crash affecting some players, the latest word from Namco on the VAC bans being wrongly issued by the game is that they ll have more information in the coming days.



Chris Thursten: I m not sure I ve disagreed with Ben this much since he killed an innocent backpacker with an axe for no reason. LucasArts distancing themselves from the Star Wars Expanded Universe feels like the final nail in a coffin that has been steadily building around the series since 1998. Like many others I used to love Star Wars it s one of the few fandoms I ve ever really belonged to - and the Expanded Universe was integral to that. It's what made Star Wars a world rather than just a series of movies and it s what protected the enthusiasm of its fans when the first shit movies started to appear, then the crappy cartoons, the awful games, and so on. The notion was this: that LucasArts could turn out bad products, but they d be drawn from a good place. Star Wars has been growing steadily more facile since LucasArts started to downplay the EU, and now that they re not bound to it at all there s nothing stop it from becoming a jumped-up firework display of a toy advert in earnest.

This is particularly true of the games. The best Star Wars games X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Star Wars Galaxies, the Jedi Knight series are completely embedded in the EU not only in terms of their subject matter but also their philosophy. X-Wing is a simulator, for crying out loud it s founded on the notion that this is a coherent universe which can be simulated with a degree of accuracy. Throwing out the EU is a big FU to the fans, and an abdication of responsibility to present Star Wars with any degree of coherence in the future. I d be furious if the prequel trilogy hadn t already burned out my capacity to have feelings.

Ben Griffin: So this guy asks for my thoughts on episode one of The Wolf Among Us. It s good but really short, I tell him. Like half an hour long. Really? he says, surprised. Yeah, the whole thing is set in a bar. Turns out this is complete bollocks. The episode is actually several hours long and traverses a number of locations I was just playing on a friend s save file. I wondered why nothing made sense...
...

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