PC Gamer

Join us live at PAX Prime in Seattle today for the PC Gamer Megapanel, featuring a discussion on "The Incredible, Uncertain Future of Storytelling" with the super-creative minds of Jake Solomon (XCOM: Enemy Unknown), Dean "Rocket" Hall (DayZ), Greg Kasavin (Bastion), Sean Vanaman (The Walking Dead), and Markus "Notch" Persson (Minecraft).

The panel starts at 2:30 pm PDT (4:30 CDT, 5:30 EDT, 9:30 GMT) - if you're at PAX, come see it at the Kraken Theater, but if not: don't worry! You can watch it all live on the official PAX livestream above.

Don't Ruin Bastion by Letting it Play Through the iPad's Crappy SpeakerSupergiant Games' award winning action role-playing game Bastion is now available on the iPad, and it's one of the best experiences you can have with the Apple tablet. Just don't ruin it by playing without headphones.

The gorgeous hand-painted graphics and the shooting and smashing gameplay make the trip to the iPad intact, but those aren't the main draws of Bastion. It's the deep, growling voice of the game's narrator and the rich tapestry woven by the game's gorgeous soundtrack that make this game so damn pleasurable, and that's not something you're going to get out of that tiny, tinny grill Apple passes off as a speaker.

I was horrified as I started to play the iPad version, ignoring the suggestion that I should don headphones for the full experience. The poor narrator sounded trapped, caged in a world in which his sonorous pipes were rendered impotent, their magic ripped away cruelly.

And then the music started.

That glorious tapestry unraveled before my ears, sound meant to lovingly caress my hearing places at both ends condensed into a cacophony of raw, stabbing noise.

One 3.5mm plug later and all was right with the world once more, apart from the whole thing falling apart.

Bastion is now available for the iPad 2 and new iPad for only $4.99. Use the extra money you should have paid for this masterpiece to buy yourself a capable set of cans, or buy some portable speakers and share the magic with the world.

PC Gamer
It's PC Gamer live!

If you're going to this year's PAX in Seattle, Washington, then we'd love for you to join us on Friday for an unprecedented gathering of PC gaming's finest developers and storytellers at the The PC Gamer Megapanel: The Incredible, Uncertain Future of Storytelling!

From the earliest days of text adventures and multi-user dungeons to today's MMORPGs, open-world and sandbox games, PC gaming has a rich and decades-long history of amazing narratives whose influence is felt and embedded throughout our culture. But developers continue to explore new ways of telling stories and creating experiences for gamers--and that includes making games that allow us to create our own stories.

So we're bringing together the developers behind the some of the most memorable experiences on the PC to talk about the challenges of building narratives in games, and to explore the future of storytelling on the PC. Is it in branching storylines that adapt to player choice? Is it in player-generated experiences? What ideas are they toying with now that will show up in our games tomorrow? We'll have Dean "Rocket" Hall, Greg Kasavin, Sean Vanaman, Jake Solomon, and Notch on hand to help us figure it out.

Find out at the Kraken Theater @ 2:30 this Friday at PAX! You'll not only hear about the future of storytelling from the developers who are creating it, but you'll also be able to meet the PC Gamer team and hundreds of other PC gaming fans.

Ooh, and everyone at the panel gets a free bag of loot with beta keys, codes for in-game items, stickers, buttons, posters, food, and more! And a few lucky PC gamers chosen at random at the end of the show will receive even more loot, including a MechWarrior Online Legendary Founder's Package!

But if you can't make it to PAX, don't sweat it: TwitchTV will be livestreaming our panel. We'll share a link to where the livestream will be located here (and on our Twitter and Facebook pages) as soon as we have a URL.

2012 Has Been a Great Year For a Little to Mean a Lot in Video Games There isn't much to Sound Shapes. That's what makes it great.

I'm not talking about the campaign, which is great and I certainly could've used more of. No, I'm talking about the experience that the new Vita game delivers. From the way you play it—pretty much just rolling and jumping—to the environments you play through, Sound Shapes is a shining example of minimalism in video games.

Now, Sound Shapes could have delivered the same core experience with a tacked-on story, a more humanoid-looking avatar and more plush environments. Even it were more Mario-esque, players could still have gotten the main thrust of its structural aesthetics, which is the tight bond between sound and action.

But that fusion of music, visuals and interactivity stands out even more because of the lack of presentational clutter. Jonathan Mak's newest game isn't the only one to soar off the benefits of skeletal structure either.

Part of what made Journey such a great experience is what was left out. No words. No distinguishing characteristics on avatars' faces. No explicitly stated motivation or impetus for your character's voyage. You could make all of that up in your head if you wanted, which makes the experience all the more memorable and personal.

Part of what made Journey such a great experience is what was left out. No words. No distinguishing characteristics on avatars' faces.

And look at Thomas Was Alone, which gave you only colored blocks to control. You didn't need fancy animations to become attached to the quirky personalities. And detailed textures wouldn't have made the environmental puzzles any better either. Everything wonderful about the game comes across with a limited architecture.

Fez's spare presentation makes its signature mechanics seem even more magical. It helps sell the conceit that being able to rotate the world into a third dimension would rock the perceptions of the creatures that live in the gameworld. And it also makes the tough puzzles in the retro-looking platformer feel that much harder. There are very few distractions in Fez, just you and the brain-teaser that's driving you crazy.

Last year, Bastion exercised a sort of minimalism, too. It scraped away a lot of the trappings that you'd normally find in an action/RPG hybrid. Supergiant's hit from last year clearly riffed on the tropes of Japanese RPGs. But a lot was pared away. There's none of the melodramatic romances or tangled subplots typical to the genre. Bastion's minimalism was one of tone, not presentation. But it still had the same multiplying effect as in the examples above, where the agonizing choices felt more monumental because they stood out more.

Excess and minimalism don't have to be mutually exclusive, either. Moments of quiet economy exist in big-deal AAA games like, say, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Gears of War 3. But the less-is-more approach can feel more brave because there's less room to hide flaws. However, when minimalism succeeds in a game like Sound Shapes, it's because the unique elements are the main thing you interact with. And you'll probably remember those more.

Product Update - Valve
An update to Bastion has been released. The major changes include:

- Fixes screen flickering/stuttering for certain Mac users
- Fixes OS X 10.5 crashes on startup
PC Gamer
Innovative platformer Braid, differently innovative platformer Super Meat Boy and horror adventure game Lone Survivor have been added to the already immensely successful Humble Bundle 5. Anyone who's already bought the bundle will be able to grab the new games gratis. If you haven't already bought the bundle (WHY???), you'll need to splash out more than the average (currently $7.87) to get the three games included.

The latest Humble Bundle has been the best yet, packing Bastion, Limbo, Amnesia, Psychonauts and Superbrothers into one tidy and cheap virtual box. Now it's hard to know how it could be any more awesome, unless it added Half-Life 3 to the roster. We're also not sure how any future bundle can stand a hope in hell against its sheer blinding awesomeness.

Today, Super Meat Boy, Braid and Lone Survivor were added to the fifth installment of the Humble Indie Bundle. Just when you think things couldn't get more awesome. [HumbleBundle.com]

PC Gamer

Back in December, the Humble Indie Bundle 4 wowed us by making $1 million in a day. We thought that would prove a hard number to beat, but that was before we knew Humble Bundle 5 would contain Limbo, Psychonauts, Bastion, Sword and Sworcery and Amnesia. Unsurprisingly that incredible collection of games has helped smash the previous record. With the day not yet over, the latest Humble Bundle has already made $1.8 million, making it likely they'll more than double their previous total before the day is out.

Some numbers for you. So far 244,000 bundles have been bought at an average price of $7.65. Windows users pay the least, at $7.10 on average, while Mac fans stand at $9.13 and Linux users at a whopping $11.87. The highest price paid so far is $3001, by Notch, beating the second placed Humble Brony Bundle by $1. The cad. There's 13 days and nine hours left on the clock, so we can expect a lot more money raised for developers and charities before the sale ends. No wonder we named these guys our community heroes of the year.

If you want to know more about the bundled games you can check out our Limbo review, our Bastion review or our Amnesia review.
One of Bastion's defining aspects is its music. A combination of digging folk guitar and trippy beats, Darren Korb's soundtrack was one of the very best of 2011.

What better way to pay tribute to it than mixing it together and throwing down some rhymes? Rapper Adam WarRock has done just that—you can hear his first track in the video above.

It's good times, as these things tend to be—more than a little dorky but also fun, in an earnest sort of way.

You can download the whole thing from Warrock's website for free.

PC Gamer
Humble Bundle 5 thumb
Quick question, what's the biggest name game you've ever seen in a Humble Bundle? Whatever you answered, you are now wrong, because the Humble Indie Bundle 5 dwarfs all those that came before it. Previous bundles have usually included a single household name like Braid, World of Goo or Super Meat Boy, backed up by several other smaller (but nonetheless excellent) indie efforts. Humble Bundle 5 on the other hand delivers indie darlings LIMBO and Bastion, awesome survival horror Amnesia: The Dark Descent, recent hit Sword & Sworcery and Psychonauts. Yes that's Tim Schafer's Psychonauts. You may now gasp in excitement.

Considering Psychonauts was published by THQ and cost $13 million to make, it might just be the least 'indie' game ever to be included in the Humble Bundle, but that doesn't make the deal any less fantastic. Any one of these games could headline a bundle by itself, the combination of all five of them together might just represent the best deal in gaming. You can buy the bundle at the Humble Indie Bundle website. You'll have to beat the average price to obtain Bastion, but believe me, it's well worth it.

Here's a trailer for the bundle, including a personal message from Tim Schafer himself.

If you want to know more about the bundled games you can check out our Limbo review, our Bastion review or our Amnesia review.

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