Shacknews - Joe Tirado

Let me get this out of the way right here, I never played the original Hard Reset. After my time with it at Pax, I am happy I finally got to experience it, albeit in its updated form. It plays like the classic shooters of old, like Quake and Unreal Tournament, with some new school dressings. 

Hard reset has a plot, but you can pretty much ignore it. The build we played didn't have headphones on the loud show floor, so we couldn't really hear the protagonist chatting with the person guiding him, but that really didn't matter much. The game shines when you are creating mayhem and demolishing enemies in spectacular fashion. Get shot by an evil robot? Go find a green powerup on the map. Run out of seeking rockets? Dash around your enemies and find some ammo boxes laying in the corner, and look for some false walls with secret shiny collectibles hiding beyond them. The game is very clearly going for a Serious Sam / Painkiller vibe, and that isn't a bad thing. In fact, some of the team at Flying Wild Hog worked on the original Painkiller, and the fellow we interviewed, Tadeusz was a user of Shacknews in the early Quake days, so clearly these guys know classic shooters. 

The original game had two weapons, but the most recent version adds some new tricks, like a katana and all new dashing system. The dash system definitely adds to the quick "blow everything up" gameplay, as you can avoid enemy attacks and then get to making real pretty explosions with your weapons and their Republic Commando style attachments. You can also use the agility to get up close and personal with your soon to be dead foes only to dispatch them with sweet sweet katana action.

Andrew took some time to chat with Tadeusz Zielinski to talk about Hard Reset Redux, which you can view below.

Hard Reset Redux is a love letter to classic style shooters, with some shiny upgrades that makes it fun for anyone who likes blowing stuff up in style. There isn't a hard release date yet, but Tadeusz told us the game will be available "soon, not even soonish, but really soon." Let's hope he means it. 

Shacknews - Joe Tirado

Have you ever wanted to turn the tables on puny meatbag humans by "upgrading" them to the status of undead? Have you also ever heard of the wildly successful 1991 game Lemmings? If you answered yes, then Zombie Night Terror is for you. 

Let's not jump to conclusions here though. Zombie Night Terror is absolutely inspired by Lemmings, but the French studio No Clip has taken that inspiration and turned Zombie Night Terror into a game with plenty of depth and some laughs too. You see, zombies are quite dumb. Your job is to take their raw talent and to literally point it in the right direction. Zombie Night Terror plays like a puzzler, where you have to figure out how to infect everyone on the map by either guiding your zombies to chomp on their fleshy parts, or stealthily infecting them with your stockpile of syringes.  

zombie night terror screenshot

Not every human is a pushover though. In the build we played, we saw our dinner wielding guns and melee weapons, and we had to use the environment to either sneak behind them, or overun them with sheer force. There are also different zombie types. You can upgrade regular zombies into "signposts" that will point a horde in the direction of your choosing. There are also big beefy tank zombies that can crush through walls and withstand punishment from small arms fire. We had a couple of situations that required us to strategically rush in with the big boys to clear the way for our horde to follow, or use signpost zombies to stop our group of zombies from walking over a cliff. 

No Clip promises a ton of value with plans for 40 levels at launch and more interestingly, plans for a level editor. The studio will release tools that not only let you create your own levels, but also the tools to create cutscenes to add to the production value. Players will then be able to share levels in Steam workshop for everyone to enjoy. The level editor will be packaged with 10 free DLC maps that will be released sometime post launch.

 We also took some time to chat with one of the members on No Clip for a video interview, which you can watch below. 

Zombie Night Terror was plenty of fun. The 80's inspired art style mixed with tense puzzle gameplay has me excited to finally get my hands on it when it releases some time this summer. I'm also really looking forward to getting to make some twisted levels that I can share with the community. 

Shacknews - David Craddock

Volition, best known for its Red Faction and Saint's Row games, may be working on a game titled Agents of Mayhem.

The title was leaked by Twitter user "Nerd Leaks," who spilled a few documents giving what appears to be near-conclusive evidence of the title. The first document is a trademark filed by Koch Media, Volition's parent company, earlier this week.

Other mentions of Agents of Mayhem have been cropping up. Actor/stuntman Brandon Molale, who played a role in L.A. Noire, listed the game on his resume (via GameSpot). According to the listing, Molale did work for various characters in the game and listed representatives from Volition as references.

Animator John Velazquez also listed Agents of Mayhem on his resume.

Given the time of year, we don't expect Volition to confirm or deny the report until E3 rolls around next month.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

Our PAX East 2016 coverage continues with an interview with the developers of Crush Your Enemies. Check it out!

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Shacknews - Joe Tirado

When I showed up for the appointment for Crush Your Enemies, I didn't know what to think. I was greeted by two fellows wearing horned barbarian helmets and thought I might have arrived at the wrong booth. Vile Monarch, the studio behind the game, was formed by Grzegorz Mazur & Kacper Kwiatkowski, who also happen to be members of the team who created one of my favorite titles ever, This War Of Mine.

Crush Your Enemies is in no way as serious or moving as This War Of Mine, and for the developers, that is exactly what they wanted. Picture your favorite RTS title, and then strip it of everything unnecessary.  Vile Monarch aimed to simplify the genre as much as possible, and the result is addictive game that is also extremely accessible.

The game consists of two factions vying over territory on the game map. Your objective is to, as the name implies, CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES. You do so by guiding your group of Barbarians across the map and converting squares from hostile to friendly. You can convert the basic barbarians to other types, like archers and warriors, by simply having them enter a friendly building of that type. No resources to mine or crafting periods. Once a path is cleared through enemy lines, you can pillage enemy structures and win the game.

Did I mention that the game only requires a mouse to play?  The developers have gone so far to simplify gameplay that the use of a keyboard is unnecessary. Our demo station didn't even have one. This also means that the game will be coming  to Mac, Linux and Windows as well as Android and iOS, and Vile Monarchy has plans for cross platform multiplayer as well.

Just because the game is simple to play though, does not mean that it is easy to master. Because building your army is as simple as the click of a mouse, the game lets you focus on building real time strategy based on terrain and the movements of enemies. Sometimes you should rush right into enemy squares to get a jump on them before they can build a large force. Other times we kept our warriors on home turf, opting to instead slowly grind the battle out in a war of attrition. There are also challenges for each level. Some of them included beating your opponent quickly, while others were to only take a certain number of squares. This adds to the strategy, forcing you to think quickly in order to win and also complete challenges.

My cohort Andrew also took some time to interview the developers, which you can check out below.

Crush Your Enemies is a game that does not take itself too seriously, while offering simple yet engaging gameplay in short doses. You can get your hands on it on all platforms this spring.

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

Star Fox Zero has been a huge letdown for diehard fans of Nintendo's Star Fox series. Shacknews was willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt after a lukewarm reception at E3, and a delayed release, but there is no defending this game. Today on Stuff That Sucks, Greg talks about why so many fans are disappointed. Check it out! 

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Be sure to also check out Steve Watts' review of Star Fox Zero here.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

Shadow Warrior 2 wowed many folks at PAX East 2016. The team spoke with one of the developers on the show floor. Please take a look.

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Shacknews - Asif Khan

Our continuing coverage of virtual reality continues with gameplay footage of Cyberpong VR gameplay footage running on HTC Vive. Please take a look.

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

You can download Cyberpong VR here on Steam for $14.99.

Shacknews - David Craddock

Hundreds, if not thousands of new games pour onto the iOS App Store every month. A select few get handpicked by Apple to occupy primo real estate on the front page of the storefront. Just how important is Apple's golden touch for downloads?

The numbers don't lie. According to a report published on App Annie (via Gamasutra), games featured on the App Store "experienced the most lift with a median 140% increase, with South Korea’s Games downloads rising by a staggering 500%."

App Annie explained how it arrived at those amounts. Using its App Annie Intelligence software, the site canvased five different countries based on their market maturity. After gathering data, representatives from App Annie talked to developers to transmute all those big numbers into firsthand accounts of how being featured affected their business.

"Strong featuring doesn’t necessarily ensure the success of a title, but it goes a long way in launching and sustaining a successful app," said Disney Interactive Games senior VP Chris Heatherly.

Gamasutra's Christian Nutt points out that App Annie's report purposely excludes data pertaining to a game's first 60 days of availability because its analytics haven't had a chance to even out. Furthermore, the report zeroes in on top placement in the overall store. Getting top bidding in a particular category of games can boost downloads as well. Plus, it's easier to rise to the top of a single category than to compete against every single app in the entire store.

Shacknews - David Craddock

The Witcher 3 entranced players with its beautiful world, vast scope, and mature quest lines and dialogue. In anticipation of the game's upcoming Blood and Wine expansion, one of CD Projekt Red's moderators collected questions from fans and submitted them to quest designers Pawel Sasko and Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, quest designers at CD Projekt Red.

Sasko and Tomaszkiewicz went above and beyond, giving detailed answers that illuminated their process for conceptualizing and implementing stories. "It always begins with an idea, but the origins can be varied," said Tomaszkiewicz in response to a fan who queried after how ideas for quests begin. "Many times the base idea comes from the writing team, especially when it comes to main storyline quests, but sometimes they come directly from quest designers, as was the case with most of the side quests in The Witcher 3."

Not just any idea will do. Designers submit notions in brief pitches, then cull the list. Once a pitch gets picked, the designers flesh it out into a full scenario, coming up with "the foundation behind the events, specific scene ideas, what should happen where," and so on. From there, the team takes several passes at the quest, shoring it up or scraping it and starting fresh when needed.

Once the writing is done, asset creators take over. "The quest designer prepares a list of all assets needed to implement that quest in the game engine – characters, locations, items, music, etc. As the other departments work on these assets, the quest designer implements the first draft using temporary assets."

That's not to say quest designers can wash their hands of a quest once they turn it over to artists. They're responsible for ensuring that the mood of the quest coalesces appropriately: lighting, ambient noises, music, and items to find and use are discussed and tweaked until they're just right.

Another fan asked about the most difficult quest create, either technically or creatively. Sasko and Tomaszkiewicz agreed that the Bloody Baron line of quests posed the biggest challenge from a writing standpoint, while the Battle for Kaer Morhen quest was more difficult in terms of technical implementation.

"Players could have between 9 and 16 characters supporting them, depending on all other things they did – and those characters could appear in any possible combination, plus some of them had to have additional separate scenes," Sasko said. "I had to make sure that every player who brought a unique set of characters had a quality experience that would stay with them for a long time."

The Bloody Baron quest line went through several iterations before it got the thumbs-up from designers. "The topic we decided to tackle was difficult and ambitious and required special attention. Karolina Stachyra, who did all the writing, spent lots of time with me dealing with nuances. Both Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz and Marcin Blacha offered lots of feedback and ideas to improve the writing – we wanted to present mood of Velen through the character of Baron and sketch the similarities between two fathers who lost their daughters."

Ultimately, the Bloody Baron quest won the Golden Joystick Award for Best Gaming Moment in 2015, making all the effort worthwhile.

There are plenty of other questions and answers to read through, so be sure to check out the forum post.


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