PC Gamer

Photo credit: Riot Games

Here s a fun piece of trivia: Hai, LemonNation, and Piglet. What do all three of these players have in common?

Some likely answers might be: they re popular players with long careers. They ve all attended Worlds. They could all be reasonably considered Hall of Famers once they retire. All of those answers are correct, but they re not quite what I m looking for. Here s the really interesting answer: all of these players are currently playing in the North American Challenger Series.

Hai and LemonNation are on Cloud9 s Challenger team after announcing that they intended to scout young talent, foster them, and work towards finding new talent. This is certainly an admirable goal. Dardoch and Biofrost are two examples of young talent who come from North America, which is a region that sports its fair share of imported players from other regions. With the region locks in place, and rumours that those locks are about to become even more restrictive, native talent is extremely important. Some fans have wondered whether Cloud9 is really there to pick up Challenger talent, and they re keeping their lips sealed about their plans. There has been word of scrims, and the recent pickup of Contractz (formerly of Ember) is a sign of progress.

Piglet is another tale altogether. From World Champion to Challenger series seems like quite a fall, but at the same time, the circumstances are quite understandable. Piglet is a player who was nicknamed Practice Worm for the long hours that he put into the game. Even when he was on Liquid, there was never any question that Piglet cared. His sights were set firmly on making it back to Worlds, and when Cloud9 knocked Liquid out of the gauntlet in their infamous Cinderella story from ninth place to Worlds, Piglet sobbed into his keyboard. The unrelenting passion, combined with another fourth place finish, must have been devastating. Now, Piglet is playing in Challenger, and his teammates say that he seems happier. There are photos of him smiling with his teammates on Liquid Academy. Even if this is where Piglet s career ends, he s still a World Champion, and his mechanics are no doubt a cut above your average Challenger player.

Photo credit: Riot Games

When you have a world class shotcaller, a World Champion, and a veteran coach and player in a circuit that s meant to be a place for amateurs, that raises the question of whether that s fair. Part of the fun of Challenger has been the dream of getting a group of friends together and competing. Of course, every year, the circuit moves farther and farther away from this casual ideal. Eanix, for instance, bought Team Dragon Knights for a sizable sum, in a mirror of the big money deals that have become commonplace in the LCS. Challenger teams are investing in gaming houses, analysts, coaching, and staff. Challenger is, in essence, developing into a competitive league of its own.

The promotion system encourages this. The best teams have a shot at making it to the LCS. The problem is that, historically, once Challenger teams make it to the LCS, they have a hard time staying there. While Apex seems to be holding their own as a mid tier team, they are an exception who are loaded with LCS-tested talent. Coast, the Renegades, NME, and Team Dragon Knights have all been one split wonders who graduated and were summarily booted back into Challenger. Riot presumably wants to counter the revolving door, hence the changes to auto promotion and relegation, but it doesn t seem quite enough. So, what s to be done?

Well, this might be part of the necessary growing pains. As established esports brands continue to invest into Challenger, they may find that there s more than the scene needs than just money. Think back to Spring, when the Immortals swept through North America with a devastating 17-1 record. While they didn t win the Split, they shook the entire region up. Now, in Summer, the playing field is decidedly more even. This may be a similar situation: with Cloud9 and Liquid fielding strong Challenger rosters, we may see the rest of Challenger grow as a result.

Photo credit: Riot Games

For too long, Challenger has been a field of rough teams against a few polished rosters. People are crying foul now that the gap has widened further, but this may be exactly what the scene needs. If Challenger is meant to be a legitimate stepping stone to the LCS, then it needs to viably prepare players for the LCS. As it stands, that simply isn t working. The dream of a few close friends banding together and becoming pros with no infrastructure or support has been dead for a long time, and it s time to admit it.

Now, does this mean the system is perfect? Of course not. Currently, an LCS spot has a massive monetary value attached to it. When Apex made the LCS, they turned around and prepared to do the exact same thing with Apex Pride, and they re likely doing it for the paycheque involved in selling a second slot over the thrill of competition. Cloud9 and Liquid Academy both have strong rosters and could also benefit from similar paydays. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, however. When there s money involved in the scene, and a way to benefit, that encourages teams to invest in the scene. As long as they stick around and invest some of that payday back, there s nothing inherently wrong with making money off Challenger.

While 2016 s North American Challenger circuit seems lopsided and unfair, consider that 2017 and 2018, and onwards, may end up being legitimately exciting for the scene. Every scene goes through growing pains at one time or another. Playing against a World Champion may seem wildly unfair or it may be the experience of a lifetime. It likely depends on your perspective, and maybe in a couple of years, hindsight will give us a clearer vision on whether this was an opportunity or an oppression by the LCS elite.

PC Gamer

It appears that BioShock: The Collection, the existence of which has been rumored since February, is about to be made official. The official BioShock Twitter account posted its first tweet earlier today, and more to the point, a BioShock: The Collection page also appeared on the 2K Games website.

The page has since disappeared from the site but I grabbed an image before it did; there's not much to see, but it was definitely there. The obvious assumption is that this will be a bundle of the BioShock franchise the first, the second, and Infinite enhanced and remastered for current platforms. The original BioShock is almost ten years old, after all.

I've reached out to 2K for more information and will update if and when I receive a reply.

Update: No reply has been received from 2K, but NeoGAF noticed that a number of screens bearing "the_collection" in their filenames were recently uploaded its servers. They seem to have been taken offline, but not before Polygon was able to grab some. There's also this skin, and this cover image. So it seems perfectly clear at this point that BioShock: The Collection is going to happen. We just need 2K to make it official.

PC Gamer

Photo credit: ECS
Jordan n0thing Gilbert

Often reserved and camera-shy, professional gamers can make for unconventional interviewees. Cloud9 s outspoken and cheerful Jordan n0thing Gilbert is the antithesis of this. Backstage at the ECS Finals in London it s clear Jordan is a man who everyone knows, and who knows everyone, stopping regularly to chat or break a joke with players, casters and crew. After their victory over the Danish Astralis, Jordan sat down to share his views on North American CS and the weight of competing for his nation s hearts.

 The state of NA

Despite his youthful exuberance, Jordan is actually one of the most experienced faces in the North American scene, and as captain of Cloud9 he faces a lot of pressure for the team to perform. The rise of Luminosity Gaming has rocked the American scene, and while C9 no longer hold the top spot, they see LG s story as an inspiration.

I think it takes away some of our excuses, says Jordan. Because it shows that a team who not only came to North America without being ranked in the top ten, then also grinded their way to the top ten. That just goes to show that if you re hungry, if you re passionate and a tight-knit group of guys that really works together then teamwork is well there s no I in team right? It s actually pretty funny, I set my desktop background to a picture of Fallen s bedroom because they had to share a bed, him and Fer, and I literally have a big bedroom out in Cali. I used it as motivation because those guys came in and showed us that there s no excuse if you can be mentally strong and work hard as a team you can achieve anything.

With the likes of Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming and TeamSoloMid all vying for attention, NA CS has entered one of it s most contested periods, making for exciting viewing. American audiences dominate online, comprising a huge portion of discussion on sites such as HLTV and the Global Offensive subreddit. While this gives NA teams an enormous support base, it also presents a onus for success many players struggle to handle.

One of the toughest things in North America is the weak mentalities across the scene, Jordan begins. I feel like a lot of NA teams lose the psychological battle. In terms of mechanical skill the Europeans aren t dominating us, it s not like they have the best 3-point shooters in basketball. Most of it comes down to overall talent in teamwork and decision making. It s great to see more North American teams competing because we have that mechanical skill, we just have to up that psychological game. If we get there then the conversation can end and the stigma can go away.

Photo credit: ECS

 Haters gonna hate

The ever-present divide between North American and European CS the former often struggling to compete in spite of a vast player spectrum and monetary support has dogged the NA scene for years. American fans expect victory, so when things aren t going well, playing for one of your country s top hopes can be grueling. Far from being limited to Cloud9, the internet is rife with mockeries of North American failure. While the great majority is in good humour, there is also a significant amount of aggression.

It takes a certain mindset to realise that there s gonna be a lot of supporters and a lot haters, says Jordan. [We ve] gathered a lot of fans over the summer who enjoy watching our streams, so when they see us play if we don t perform up to the standard they re used to watching then they like to jump on us. I can t blame them for being upset but there s obviously a lot of immaturity. You have to kind of ignore that and hope it doesn t affect any members of the team.

The contrast between streaming and competition performances isn t an easy thing to convey to viewers, particularly those younger or new to the game. When individuals draw huge streaming audiences, it becomes very easy to disappoint on the stage.

That s shroud s biggest problem, Jordan says of his teammate. Because people on his stream watch him dominate singlehandedly. And the truth is, he doesn t care on his stream, he s having fun and purposely not playing like he would in a match. People are very hard on him because he s on reddit all the time with stream highlights. That crosses over into competition and people criticize him. A lot of it stems from jealousy but there are real fans who just want him to succeed.

Photo credit: ECS

 Positive communication

The semi-anonymity and speed of services like Twitter can lead to a real disconnect in people s attitudes compared to face-to-face interaction. Online abuse is in no-way unique to esports, but it remains an enormous issue in the competitively-minded landscape.

It s crazy to me that when I m on Twitter or anything and people are talking crap about me or my team, Jordan says. I reply to them and say hey, why would you say that and can you elaborate on your point? After that first malicious statement they say hey my bad I didn t mean it bro. I just wish you d played better. People don t realise that just because you re on twitter or behind a screen, there s no facade here, you re still a person just throwing words in the air.

The problem clearly frustrates Jordan, especially without an easy solution in sight. Nevertheless, with more outspoken and respectful players as role models, there is always the chance the community will evolve.

I hope people will start to take more seriously what they re saying, Jordan says. Even you and your friends can get confused texting each other, let alone a stranger. How do you expect people to not misconstrue things [online]? I just think people should start to be more respectful and thoughtful with the way we speak on the internet. As Counter-Strike s audience continues to grow, It s a lesson many could stand to learn from.

PC Gamer

The Kickstarted arcade racer Road Redemption has its final release date: October 15.

That's a good way off its target of August 2014, but Road Redemption has been in Early Access since September 2014 and is sitting pretty on a 'Very Positive' Steam rating.

The most recent target was the end of summer, and PixelDash's Ian Fisch cites Early Access in explaining the further delay.

"We decided that since our backers have had access to regularly-patched PC, Mac, and Linux beta versions of the game, that it's better to take our time and release something great, than to feel pressured to stick to our 2014 Kickstarter date and release something mediocre."

Thanks, Eurogamer.

PC Gamer

The first update for the rebooted Doom will add a new Photo Mode designed for taking screens, and a new option to place your weapon in the center of the screen, just like back in the good old days.

Set to go live on June 30, the update will also make changes to the multiplayer mode, a couple of which have already been rolled out. The SnapMap editor is being tweaked a bit, and a number of fixes are on tap as well. The full patch notes are below.

New Features and Optimizations

General:

Added Classic DOOM weapon placement/view model option (all modes)

Campaign:

Added Photo Mode (You ll find the new Photo Mode toggle in the game settings. It is available through the pause menu once you are loaded into a map via Mission Select)

Multiplayer:

Updated weapon balance (live as of June 10, 2016) Clan Arena and Freeze Tag now require the winning team to complete 5 rounds in order to win the match. (live as of June 10, 2016) Customization UI has been implemented to show all possible unlocks Cross Style option has been added to settings for MP.

SnapMap:

Added Original Author to the map info page Added a timeout for AFK in Lobby Added a property to allow map authors to choose if SnapMap will auto-manage (hide/show) hand-placed AI Added Enable/Disable to Shootable Trigger Added Sky/Window props Added an auto-rollback to previous version for corrupted maps Improved sorting algorithms for Most Popular map searches

Fixes

Single Player:

Fixed Steam Friends Ultra-Nightmare Helmets not populating the map Fixed freeze when opening weapon wheel at more than 142 FPS (PC) Fixed quit to desktop when clicking campaign after initiating Dev Mode (PC) Fixed IDKFA Trophy/Achievement not properly unlocking (all versions) Fixed PS4 crash when reloading checkpoint in Foundry Fixed some occurrences of the Every Nook and Cranny Trophy not unlocking after collecting all Doomguys (PS4) Fixed an issue where the game required Internet access (Xbox One)

Multiplayer:

Fixed crash while experiencing server connection issues (PS4) Fixed crash when a client suspends the game while a lobby loads into a match (PS4) Various cosmetic and gameplay fixes Matchmaking improvements (Fix for restrictive NAT types being chosen as dedicated server lobby host, fix for larger lobbies having longer matchmaking times, fix for Player getting left behind if they join a friend as the lobby countdown finishes)Bug and stability fixes

SnapMap:

Fixed Asian language font issues Fixed AI pathing error with certain types of props Fixed error where multiple maps share the same Map ID Various map error fixes Various logic fixes Various stability fixes

PC-Only:

Fixed Dev Mode incorrectly triggering when the user retrieves their own save data from Steam Cloud

PC Gamer

The Fallout 4 community has been hard at work with the new Contraptions Workshop! Bethesda's latest DLC lets you turn your settlements into factories complete with machinery and conveyor belts, but naturally some players are taking a few liberties and using the parts and pieces to build contraptions of mass destruction (or at least mass annoyance). Here are the best of what we've seen.

There are plenty more clever contraptions in the works, so we'll certainly be adding to this page in the days ahead. And if you see something, say something: drop a link in the comments to any contraptions you've found or made yourself.

Calculator

History has shown us that if a game gives you logic gates, someone is going to use them to build a giant functional calculator. Above, you can see Redditor Quinchilion's proof of concept. First, they built a mechanical register and then followed it up with a 4-bit adder and multiplier. "... it is possible to create a general purpose computer in Fallout 4," Quinchilion says. "I do not suggest doing so, however, unless you want to spend your next two weeks running around and wiring logic gates together." Good point.

Abbatoir

Enterprising farmer '50451' decided to update their thriving mutated creature concern into a meat packaging plant. The radstags are caught using cages from the Wasteland Workshop, and as they're released from their cages, they're killed by sentry turrets. Then, they make a trip through the factory, where they're broken down into component parts and even dumped into boxes for easy shipping. Clever! Gruesome, but clever. The Manufacturing Extended mod was used.

Teddy torture

The first thing I personally tried to build was a cannon to shoot steel balls at a pilloried Blake Abernathy, which sort of, kind of worked, but not really. YouTuber 'Father' went to far greater lengths to punish some of Fallout's characters by building an elaborate teddy bear manufacturing plant, which fed the stuffed toys into pitching machines aimed at the heads of several characters while they were locked in pillories. Getting beaned by cuddly bears won't kill you, but being gently smacked with thousands of them would certainly be maddening.

Companion launcher

I like most of Fallout 4's companions, but just about all of them can get on your nerves once in a while, either by blocking doorways, getting injured, or just picking an inopportune time to want to discuss something personal. YouTuber Klone Wolf decided to take out some of his frustrations by gently coaxing companions (well, whomping them with a radioactive hammer) into a junk mortar and them launching them into a field of spike traps. Take that, endlessly loyal followers.

Four-story armor factory

Not everyone is using contraptions to hurt people. Redditor 'GRZ NGT' has cobbled together an impressive armor factory. It's four stories high, with production beginning on the roof and the components proceeding down, level by level, via conveyor belts. What will be done with all that armor? I dunno. But it's a neat way to make it.

Marcy Mangler

Fallout 4 Fun Fact: everyone hates Marcy. With pillories added to the game, it wasn't going to take long for players to exact some revenge. This neat gadget sends some cannonballs Marcy's way, where she is imprisoned in front of a sign reading, bluntly, "Fuck you Marcy." The fireworks celebration after she gets clobbered are a wonderful touch, too.

Paintball Pillory Punishment

Speaking of pillories, Youtuber 'IAGO' has built a rather complicated Rube Goldberg-esque machine involving ramps, traps, and pressure plates, which culminates in Preston Garvey getting shot in the butt by paintball guns. It looks like it took a lot of work to get right, probably hours and hours of testing and tweaking. Hard to argue with the results though.

PC Gamer

My name is Ivor. I'm an engine driver. I'm wheeling my vaguely-futuristic train through the grey, hushed landscape of post-holocaust Russia, stopping at stations to search for survivors and tend to their needs. It's a grim, bizarre, and occasionally beautiful place, enshrouded in fear and mystery, and also the kind of setup for a videogame that I absolutely love. I went into The Final Station, a 2D, side-scrolling, retro-styled action-adventure game, with very high hopes. But after a few hours with the recently-released preview build, I'm worried it's not quite all its cracked up to be except where the story is concerned.

Stations along the route can't be bypassed, so I was forced to explore all of them, even when shortages of ammunition and medkits left me ill-equipped to deal with the spooky, wraith-like Infected lurking in their halls and closets. And it's really exploration in name only: The layout and contents of each individual station is the same from game to game, and the paths through them are almost perfectly linear. The goal is to find the four-digit code that unlocks the train and allows it to move to the next station in the line. Each code is hidden in increasingly unlikely and convoluted circumstances Bob wrote it down and stuffed it in his pocket before he nipped into town to buy a pack of smokes, and the world ended while he was out and you re stuck until you track it down.

Once you do, you can be on your way, or if you prefer, you can keep poking around and maybe dig up some food, medicine, ammo, or money, all of which will make life on the rails a little easier. Supplies are scarce, and the Infected are not, which can make for some very tense (read: frustrating) moments. Getting a handle on melee combat helped ease the ammo pressure, but the hand-to-hand fights, which are simply a matter of running back and forth past infected and timing right-clicks to punch them as you go by (and hopefully not getting clobbered in kind), aren't much fun.

Risk vs reward decisions are meant to be the basis for much of The Final Station's tension, but it never adds up to much because you can t leave a station and move on to the next without doing a nearly complete circuit through it anyway. The tough calls that are supposedly at the heart of the game are largely non-existent: At one point, I discovered a note warning me not to go to the subway, which was fine, because subways are generally bad news in a post-apocalypse anyway except, whoops, I have to go to the subway, because it's the only way to continue through the level. (And of course it's packed with infected.)

Foreshadowing is fine, but suggesting that I have a choice in the matter, and then almost immediately taking it away is just irritating. I get that there's a story to be told, but I came into The Final Station expecting that I'd have some control over my destiny, and moments like this are an explicit reminder that for the most part, I do not. Similarly, I didn't have the option to reject potential passengers in order to preserve resources; the people I talked to decided for themselves whether or not they'd join my train, without any input from me. (Joke was on them, though: Most of them died long before we made it to our destination.)

Keeping the people I picked up alive was the other half of my job as an the engineer, and that was both trickier and more tedious than I expected. They are (or were, as it almost inevitably turned out) incredibly delicate. People who by all appearances were in good health when I picked them up would starve to death between stations if I didn't bring them food, or suffocate if I failed to adequately monitor the ventilation system. My assumption is that these survival mechanics are meant to inject drama and tension between stations, but it just doesn't work in its current state. It's entirely superfluous, and even silly: These people will literally die in their seats rather than get up and open a window. Death comes so quickly and of such easily avoidable causes that I quickly stopped caring. I became like William Hurt in A History of Violence, staring down at the fallen and wondering how they possibly could have been so stupid. (It didn't help that it seemed not to matter whether they lived or died anyway.)

The Final Station's world was pretty clearly a mess well before disaster struck.

So The Final Station is very linear, and a bit dull, and the segments aboard the train fail to add anything to the experience but a bit of pointless busywork. In spite of all that, I want to see more. The preview build isn't complete the dialog is largely placeholder, mechanics are still being worked on, and it only covers the first, shortest chapter of the game and more importantly, I really feel like there's something legitimately intriguing in it. The preview only hints at it, but The Final Station's world was pretty clearly a mess well before disaster struck. And the end of the world isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds, either. Cities continue to function, with people going about their business, some of them apparently unaware that anything untoward is happening at all. There was also a late-preview surprise that was genuinely disturbing, and subtle enough that I almost missed it.

That's why I'll keep following along, and look forward to playing the final release, whenever it comes out. I wish it was for a better reason than a vaguely-formed hope that its potential will coalesce into something worthwhile, but unless and until the stations become more fun to play through, and I m given some proper freedom to make the decisions that move the game forward, the mystery of this grey, broken world is The Final Station s only real hook right now.

PC Gamer

The TruckSimRadio VTC lines up for an imposing shot.

[Update: After publishing, members of the TSR community and the original interviewees reached out to clarify the origins of the radio station. The article has been updated to reflect those changes.]

For many, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a stubborn rhetorical question. Why play a game that simulates work, the slow transport of goods across long stretches of pseudo-European highways? Players have to manage everything an actual trucker would: delivery schedules, fuel costs, road tolls, bank loans, and their careers in the cutthroat online trucking industry. Hauling 30 tons for hours at a time, avoiding accidents and obeying local traffic laws all the while can be lonely, stressful labor.

And yet, when you re playing with others, the open road inspires a calm camaraderie. Two of Euro Trucking Simulator 2 s most dedicated players know it best. Mark Watson (Mini in the online trucking world) joined a community effort to start TruckSimRadio (formerly EuroTruckRadio), an internet radio station made specifically for the trucking sim community (and the terrestrial counterpart to EVE-Radio). Later on, Ben Kingdon (Crumbs) came on to provide graphics for the official website and took up the reigns as head of the TruckSimRadio (TSR) virtual trucking company (VTC). With the help of the TSR community, they built something that could only happen on the PC: an amateur internet radio station dedicated to an unofficial multiplayer mod in a niche, monotonous simulation game.

Mini and Crumbs sat down over Skype to tell me how it all came about.

Breaker, breaker

Drivers in Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator can tune their radio any available internet radio station, but Mini felt there was something missing from the simulation. Calling into stations to request songs or send shoutouts to friends is like shouting into the abyss there s no guarantee friends are listening, and calling stations often means dialing another country. The station was created by a group of players active on the ETS2MP.com forums (no longer active) who quickly became passionate about the idea. Rick, the forum-goer with the initial idea, quickly recruited Mini, along with ETS2MP members Clare, Alex, and Mark.

About four or five of us got together, put down some money, bought a dedicated server box, put up a quick website, and started streaming live music.

Mark "Mini" Watson

There was a small group of us at the very beginning," says Mini, "about four or five of us got together, put down some money, bought a dedicated server box, put up a quick website, and started streaming live music.

As much as it sounds like a hobbyist s decision, Mini and friends weren t making the decision lightly setting up a legitimate internet radio station isn t like setting up a Tumblr. Besides the costs of setting up the server, license fees for station operation landed somewhere between 400 and 500. For personal reasons, Rick left the project after 18 months. Even Mini parted ways with the station, leaving behind the trucking scene as a whole. But the call of the open road let to his inevitable return, in which he took over TSR and lead the station to where it is today.

As a place for people looking to roleplay, amateur or not, trucking sims already attract a curious type, which makes them a great low risk place to stretch one s disk-jockeying skills Mini and Crumbs knew they d get applicants without any formal experience, but that s part of why they do it.

Drivers all over Europe know the name.

We like taking on people as if it's their first DJing role. says Crumbs. They re not the best to start off with, but our most recent DJ, when he started off, he didn t even know how to use the software, and he s doing three to four hours in the morning every day now and obviously he loves it. Actually he s part of the radio station management now. He started from the bottom. Now, TruckSimRadio has a regular stream of DJ personalities taking requests and shoutouts. Some show up every day during the same hour, a few come and go as they can, but the schedule is almost always filled with 10 or more hours of scheduled, hosted programming. They ll play music, hold contests, chat about the state of the game, or what they ate for lunch that day. It s an eclectic mix of amateurs and the experienced donating hours of their daily lives just to keep drivers company on the road.

The radio station was, and continues to be a hit. Mini claims they re getting about 200 or more listeners a day, and Crumbs talks up the growth of their Facebook group each week. Euro Truck Simulator 2 has around 13,000 active players at a time, an untold percentage of which use the multiplayer mod, which makes that audience pretty impressive. Because Mini and Crumbs found such a successful mouthpiece, they took the community evolution to its next logical step: public convoys.

We got a mighty (slow) convoy 

In most European countries, the highway code dictates that a convoy a group of vehicles moving in unison is to be treated as a single vehicle. That means other drivers aren t allowed to split the procession at any point, be it on the highway or moving through an intersection. In Euro Truck Simulator 2, convoys aren't exactly sanctioned, but they re not traditional convoys either. They re, as Crumb puts, controlled chaos massive online gatherings where dozens and dozens of truckers meet up to make the same drive. Drivers inch along, snaking their way across low-res Europe, proudly bearing their VTC colors, and chatting all the while. The most popular convoys are scheduled on ETS2C.com, and happen on Wednesday and Sunday, bringing in 80 to 150 drivers regularly. But when Crumbs talks about convoys, his voice strains for enthusiasm.

As it turns out, putting on a convoy isn t just a matter getting in line and hitting the gas it s a marvel that they happen at all. He s no longer in charge of keeping convoys organized, but feels for the two drivers who took over. I did the job they re doing for a couple of months and it was a nightmare, he says. And it s true. If one driver makes a wrong turn, then it s easy for others to follow suit, resulting in a splintered, lost, and frustrated group of 50-plus drivers.

Even so, they re not nearly as much of a mess as they used to be. TruckSimRadio and co. developed a few tactics to keep convoys in line, literally. Before every drive, TruckSimRadio deploys a convoy control team, whose members park near particularly confusing intersections and repeatedly point out which direction to go in the chat. To make it even easier to deploy the convoy control team, they use custom save files to get on point and respond to problems instantaneously. Crumbs came up with the idea to park at every vital convoy control point on the route ahead of time and make a save file for each. By distributing these files, control members are able to spawn at the designated control points simply by loading their appointed save. The files let convoy control team members teleport between save points without affecting the multiplayer server as a whole, because the files are saved locally and only affect the player that uses them they basically reset positional data.

Despite the ease they provide, Crumbs says the advances only turned unorganized chaos to organized chaos, but I d argue small doses of human error are part of a convoy s cryptic appeal.

Anyone can take part in a public convoy, but participating in the TruckSimRadio VTC is a more advanced process. They have a reputation to protect as one of the most popular and respected VTCs. To get in, you need to register on TruckSimRadio.com and then take a driving test as an official panel watches on. If they don t pass the first time we offer them a bit of training and whatever they need, and we get them to come back and do another test, says Crumbs. As soon as they pass that test they can drive as part of our company. It s the ShackTac of truck simulation, roughly.

There s a romanticism about road-tripping with friends, driving for long stretches, watching the plains spin up into mountains and the fog give way to blue skies but when it comes to making the cut, business comes first. There s even a dress code , so to speak, if you make it. Crumbs explains the truck decoration code like he s explained it a hundred times before. We ask that they have TSR VTC (TruckSimRadio Virtual Trucking Co.) in their name, and they drive if in solo, they can drive any truck any color they want. If they drive in a convoy of two or more trucks, they have to use the orange white and black paint scheme. It s fancy uniform.

Dress for the job you want.

While the paintjob is a banner of pride for many in the community, for Mini, it functions as a conversation starter and the hard-earned assurance that his crazy ideas are amounting to some good in the world. You can t drive along the road in the colors of TruckSimRadio and not be noticed. Mini s smile widens. They say oh, great radio, we listen in all the time! It s really great to get that kind of feedback and obvious we re doing things right if people are engaging with us in game.

For younger people it s quite hard for them to know how to pay their respects, how to get involved in things.

Ben "Crumbs" Kingdon

Mini, Crumbs, and the TruckSimRadio VTC are still reeling at the success of convoys even if they can be a logistical nightmare as Crumb says, and now they ve found ways channel the chaos into tangible good. After the horrific attacks in Paris last November, TSR organized a truck gathering in ETS2 s virtual Paris, where every truck wore the colors of the French flag and they talked about the tragedy. What seems like a passive, incredibly closed off method for showing support was actually a somber educational seminar. Because a surprising number of kids and teenagers play ETS2, Crumbs believes that it s their community s duty to be positive role models. For younger people it s quite hard for them to know how to pay their respects, how to get involved in things. They talked with teens about a very sensitive subject in an adult way, something unheard of in most popular gaming communities.

Pictured: the TSR VTC parks it in virtual Paris to chat about the tragedy.

Due to the radio s reach and the popularity of their VTC, TruckSimRadio is making a habit of charity work and educational outreach however they can. Just last October, they put on a 100 hour convoy in an effort to raise money for the BBC Children in Need fund. By the end their long haul, they made over 1000. Shipping goods and shipping good aren t so different for TSR.

Keep on trucking

Despite the growing community, the charity events, and popular radio station, Mini and Crumbs make no buts about how uneventful trucking can be. Crumbs described another event they host, where companies meet up in parking lots to show off their most expensive trucks and chat. They sit in the same place for an hour, an hour and a half, and they love it, they love doing it. It s just one of those things. It sounds extremely boring and people love doing it.

Strip away the trucks, the simulation, and you re left with a group of friends hanging out. Their trucks are just expressions of themselves, tuned and designed to reflect their personality. In the real trucking world, drivers only meet in passing through a quick overtake on the highway or a conversation at the rest stop. A community exists, but it s ephemeral, coming and going as the drivers do.

In a VTC like TruckSimRadio, those artificial barriers of contact dissolve. Mini and Crumbs, with plenty of help, made one of the most unique, positive, safest places in PC gaming, and the closest we ll ever get to a trucker s utopia. It s a virtual reality in which traffic laws embrace the trucker, convoys, and the spirit of open road trust. Business obligations melt away leaving only the drivers with their trucks, each a personal, powerful force sliding through a live pastoral scene, a long monotonous drive with the radio calling their name and a crowded CB as company, exactly the way it should be.

PC Gamer

This is definitely Campo Santo's.

Developer Campo Santo can take pride in the fact that its Firewatch art captured the spirit of the wild so perfectly that a Ford dealership stole it for a sales event. Alas, I fear that even with 0% interest, the Ford Freedom will prove a poor match for the scree and cave systems of Shoshone National Park.

For the avoidance of doubt, allow me to credit the ad to Quirk Ford. Well, the bottom half of it. The art is the work of Campo Santo's Olly Moss. And the screenshot is by Kyle Daigle, via Firewatch co-producer Panic Inc. Everyone acknowledged? Phew.

Campo Santo has responded with wit, if not good humour. No acrimonious copyright suits to see here.

Speaking to Game Informer, Quirk Ford said the image was taken from a wallpaper site a wallpaper site that does not guarantee the provenance of its images. Furthermore, Vanaman pointed out that some elements of the ad could only have come from an old Campo Santo website.

Quirk Ford has since apologised, and the fire is out.

PC Gamer

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 our review 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.

Nuclear Throne Together 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 .

I hope this mod is the sign of a co-op naming trend, by the way. Don t Starve Together, Nuclear Throne Together it s just such a nice way to say two-player. Grab the mod here.

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