PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The incredible story of Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr and the birth of EVE Online">eve online featured







The story of Jón Gnarr, who in 2010 was elected mayor of Iceland's capital and largest city, Reykjavík, could be mistaken for a story from EVE Online, the sandbox MMO created by Icelandic developer CCP. In EVE, players form corporations and take part in fascinating, often-bizarre political and military shenanigans. In Iceland, Jón ran for office as founder of "The Best Party," which he says wasn't, and still isn't, a real political party.



"It was supposed to be a complete nonsense party," said Jón during a Q&A after last week's EVE Online Fanfest in Reykjavík. "We promised whatever people wanted us to promise, but also promised to break all of our promises."



Icelanders apparently appreciated Jón's honesty, and he earned international fame after becoming one of the world's most fascinating and whimsical mayors. Though he claims he didn't even know what he was running for, he wasn't surprised when he was elected. "I could sense that people appreciated The Best Party," said Jón. "I mean, it's the best party."



Jón Gnarr, CCP, and Hættuspil

 





With a population of only 320,000, stories about Jón and stories about CCP are really stories about Iceland, all intertwined as part of the country's recent history. And here's where they intersect:



Before becoming a politician, Jón was already well-known as a comedian in Iceland, and appeared in one of Iceland's most popular board games, Hættuspil, which translates to "Danger Game." The man on the cover, dressed as a perturbed woman, is Jón Gnarr, and the company behind it was CCP.



Hættuspil's success funded the initial development of EVE Online, which was the plan all along, so Jón—the mayor of Iceland's capital—deserves some small credit for EVE Online and CCP's success.



An obsession with "building armies"

 





Jón says the people of Iceland are proud of CCP and what it's done for the country and Reykjavík, but he doesn't play EVE himself. "I suspect that EVE Online could be an obsession," he told us.



"I've been, yeah, I was obsessed with Warcraft and...uh, yeah," he continued, the crowd laughing in acknowledgement. "And Half-Life, and I just had to erase it and get rid of it."



After the Q&A, Tom Senior and I caught up with Jón for a few more questions about his gaming career and obsessions. His favorite game is Heroes of Might and Magic, followed by Elite.



"I played Elite on an Acorn Electron, and I was fascinated by it," he said. "It was quite time-consuming, it took a lot of time...and then of course, Warcraft came about. I dropped out after StarCraft, because it has become way too complicated for me. And the same happened with Might & Magic, it just became too complicated."



What did he enjoy so much about the original Might and Magic? "Building armies," Jón said laughing. "Building an army was my goal and pleasure. But I easily get addicted to games. I couldn't quit."



Danger Game returns

 





"One more turn" syndrome is the reason Jón now forgoes gaming in favor of taking walks and listening to podcasts, but his relationship with CCP isn't over. To celebrate EVE Online's 10 year anniversary, Jón is reprising his role in an English version of Hættuspil to be bundled with a new Collector's Edition.



Pre-orders are now open to get the box of EVE memorabilia, along with the first chance for us to play CCP's debut game, which set off a decade-long cascade of incredible stories from in and out of the EVE universe. If you don't play EVE, 149.99€ is real steep for just the board game, but perhaps CCP will decide to sell it on its own. Of around ten Icelanders I asked during Fanfest last week, only one hadn't played Hættuspil, and the rest gave glowing reviews.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Maybe there’s more to Half Life 1 mod Cry of Fear than screaming, gibbering faces and jump scares – the trailers have shooting, conversations and chainsaws – but my nerves, frayed rather than reinforced by years of vacationing in Silent Hill, failed to survive the opening scenes when I played last night. There’s something about the look and feel of the dated engine that unnerves me far more than something draped in bells and whistles ever would, although I’ve just conjured the image of a jester at a rave and that’s as petrifying as it is ridiculous. The Half Life engine has taken on the quality of a museum or funhouse packed with animatronics, and it’s perhaps that aspect that is most troubling. Well, that and the jump scares. Here’s how I got on.>

(more…)

PC Gamer - PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to PC Gamer UK Podcast: Episode 89 – To Go Into The West, And Remain John Riccitiello">Graham Chris Marsh







Graham, Chris and Marsh discuss Starseed Pilgrim, Monaco, and the impact of Dota 2 on our collective humanity. Plus the hot questions of the day: can you make a shooter without combat? What does Marsh dance to in the morning? Is Chris secretly an a**hole?



As I say at the beginning of the recording, there were some hardware problems with my microphone setup that cause intermittent issues later in the episode. The cable in question has been punished.



You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes,download the MP3 directly, or listen on YouTube. To ask us questions, follow the PC Gamer Twitter account - we'll put the call out prior to recording. You can also follow us as individuals:



Graham - @Gonnas

Chris - @CThursten

Marsh - @marshdavies

Show notes



A commencement speech given by author David Foster Wallce at Kenyon College, Ohio. Somehow we have decided that this is relevent to computer games where you make wizards push lanes.

Gamasutra report on Riot's League of Legends player behaviour experiments.

Cassandra Khaw's Monaco review.

Andy Kelly's Videogame Toilets tumblr.

'The Moon' from the Duck Tales soundtrack, the song that will play at Marsh's funeral.

'Betus Blues' from Super Meat Boy, or what it sounds like inside Chris' head when someone asks a question about MMOs.

Chipzel's Super Hexagon soundtrack and Souleye's VVVVVV score, Graham's preferred lullaby.

Smooth McGroove's acapella rendition of the Street Fighter II Guile Theme, or what it sounds like when PC Gamer UK conquer a deadline.

A forum thread with screenshots of the PCG vs. RPS Planetside 2 scrap, including that time I got my gunship stuck upside down.

To answer MaxUrsa's question about wireless headphones, Dave James scores Corsair's Vengeance 2000 set 88% in the upcoming PCG 253 Tech Supertest.

Alteraction's MASQ, the open-ended adventure soap opera that Graham recommends.

A horse dressed up as a lion: apropos of nothing, I just wanted to reward you for reading all these show notes.

Shacknews - John Keefer

It's been about six years since the Minerva mod for Half-Life 2 was released, but after some cajoling from co-workers at Valve, developer Adam Foster has given it a new coat of paint and is releasing it on Steam as a Director's Cut.

"It's taken long enough, but via lots of nagging and prompting from fellow Valve employees I've finally got round to getting MINERVA, the Half-Life 2 mod which got me a job at Valve, up on to Steam," Foster said in an email to Shacknews. "It was originally released in late 2007 to pretty much universal acclaim, but now there's about to be a super-fancy Director's Cut edition with tweaked visuals, bug fixes, better puzzles and all kinds of subtle improvements. Nothing hugely new, just old stuff tidied and polished for this re-release."

The mod, which is still free, tasks you with uncovering the mystery of an underground Combine facility while being fed information via text by a female character named Minerva. To play, you will need Half-Life 2: Episode One installed.

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

Hello?

I hate Adam Foster, creator of last decade’s rapturously-received Half-Life 2 mod series MINERVA (not to be confused with BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den) and more recently a Valve employee. I hate him not because he is talented, not because he works at a cool place and not because I have a pathological distaste for people called ‘Adam.’ (Smith, you’re fired). I hate him because today he has made me feel SO OLD.

One of the first long-form pieces I ever wrote for RPS was an interview with Mr Foster about his excellent, thoughtful mod, and its fine accomplishments in level design and mood. That was in 2007. Now it is 2013. Six years> later. And I am posting about MINERVA again. He now works at Valve, and meanwhile I’m still typing words into the same CMS, but older, grimmer, fatter. At least I’ve changed my chair twice since then. Something Foster has also done is repackage and spit’n'polish his mod for a well-deserved re-release on Steam today. (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Half-Life 2 mod Minerva getting Director’s Cut, Steam release">Minerva







Adam Foster, creator of the brilliant Episode One mod Minerva, works for Valve now. Clearly then, the temptation for this Director's Cut news is to lead with the implication that Valve are releasing a new Half-Life game on Steam. I'm not that mean - plus, it's early in the morning, and I'm worried the shock and subsequent disappointment would be too much for you all. Admittedly, then, it's not new, or even particularly official, but the Steam release of Minerva does promise to be the definitive version.



Foster explains that, while the Director's Cut won't contain additional content, it's still a significant overhaul, including "tweaked visuals, bug fixes, better puzzles and all kinds of subtle improvements. Nothing majorly new, just old stuff tidied and polished for this re-release."



If you're yet to play it, Minerva is one of those rare "Valve quality" mods, that in some areas surpasses the game its based on. Its cleverest trick is map design - Foster creates seemingly huge levels in surprisingly tight spaces, thanks to his talent at creating realistically proportioned, interestingly vertical game spaces.



Here's a short preview of what to expect, courtesy of ValveTime:







Minerva should release for free later today. You're now free to wildly speculate about this being the beginning of an Episode 3 ARG.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Mod of the Week: Dilapidation, for Portal 2">Dilapidation







I haven't really played many community-made Portal 2 maps. Whenever I get the urge for more Portal, it's usually because I'm in the mood for the biting insults of GLaDoS, the goofy earnestness of Wheatley, or the brusque instructional tones of Cave Johnson, as opposed to simply wanting more puzzles. This week, though, I decided to finally see what the Portal community has been up to, and I managed to find a decent seven-part single-player campaign called Dilapidation, set in a damaged and deeply unstable corner of Aperture Science.



Dilapidation was created by modder LoneWolf2056, whose name suggests that he or she is either a lone wolf from the near future or perhaps the 2,056th lone wolf to join the Steam Community. The campaign takes place after Chell's latest escape from the Aperture labs, and begins with you, an unnamed tester, waking up next to what remains of your stasis cube in the Enrichment Center. Like a series mentioned last year on PC Gamer, Decay, the Enrichment Center of Dilapidation is busted, rusted, broken down and getting worse. It's filled with shattered walls, piles of rubble, overgrown plants, and even some birds that have gotten in through some missing ceiling tiles that provide a few tantalizing glimpses of sky.



The  Weighted Companion Cube, doing its best G-Man impression.



The puzzles of Dilapidation are mostly very large, generally made up a series of smaller interconnected test chambers that form one big puzzle requiring a number of coordinated steps to complete. There are no gel puzzles or turrets, but just about everything else from Portal 2 is used: laser beams and fields, buttons and switches, storage cubes and discouragement redirection cubes, light bridges and excursion funnels, and plenty of emancipation grids. There are also a few puzzles involving faith plates and a couple that require you to power up a circuit.



The elevators don't arrive on time. And don't stop in the right place.



It's not just puzzles that are on display: Dilapidation also has a fantastic sense of atmosphere. There are some great sequences between puzzles where the floors buckle, bridges collapse, and elevators malfunction, sending you tumbling deeper and deeper into the facility. These events aren't just for show, either. At one point a metal catwalk collapses, dropping you into a new test chamber, and the section of the metal walkway that plunges in with you winds up being part of the puzzle's solution. Crafty!



Cube holsters on the floor AND ceiling. I'm not getting out of here for a while.



The beginning of each new chapter picks up right where the last left off, making it feel like a complete game as opposed to just a series of maps with the same theme. The whole thing feels pretty expertly done and well-planned. Rather than just give players a challenge, it's clear the modder wanted to provide an entire experience, and I'd call it a success.



The more you burn, the faster the fan spins. What should I burn next?



With almost no dialogue (you get a bit in the final chapter, as Dilapidation closes with a genuine boss fight) you wouldn't think there would be a lot humor in this campaign. And, of course, there isn't. Still, I wound up laughing a few times due to the Weighted Companion Cube, which appears here and there throughout the maps, tantalizingly close but just out of reach. It actually becomes a running gag as you try to reunite with the box-shaped heart, but are constantly stymied by the crumbling architecture and faulty equipment.



Come on, door. I've got five out of six checks! That's a passing grade! Let me PASS



How hard are the puzzles? The creator describes them as medium/hard, which for me translates to hard/quite damn hard/this is very, very hard. On the other hand, I've never been particularly great at Portal's puzzles anyway, so I expect the average gamer will do a bit better. It took me about three hours, so it'll probably take you around two hours, except for the one guy in the comments who will inevitably claim to have beaten all of the maps in fifteen minutes without even using the portal gun.



Oh, look who's awake.



Installation: Steam Workshop makes it easy as pie cake. Just subscribe to the Dilapidation collection, start Portal 2, select Community Test Chambers, then select Play Singleplayer Chambers. All the maps (0 through 6) will be listed in your queue!
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Poker Night 2 brings a new set of wisecrackers to the table">Poker Night 2







Who told you that Adult Swim cartoon characters, ditzy cyberpunk robots, and a cuddly rabbit-and-dog detective team couldn't live together in harmony? Because if today's Poker Night 2 release is anything to go by, they totally can. Well, as harmoniously as a bunch of wisecracking jerks can get on while competing ruthlessly for assorted unlockable items, anyway. Check out the new cast of players in the trailer - and we've got a list of the prizes up for grabs, too.







Brock Samson from the Venture Bros squares off against Borderlands' plucky Claptrap, while Ash Williams from Army of Darkness and the notorious Sam and Max are all plotting your defeat. Oh, and just to make your "Omaha Hold 'em" losses against these fictional smartasses all the more devastating, your dealer is the soul-crushing GLaDOS.



The prizes are based on your platform of choice, so us PC gamers will be aiming to outfit ourselves in these stylish Borderlands 2 and Team Fortress 2 items. Because look: you're nowhere near striking fear in your foes' chests unless your Mechromancer is wearing a perpetually grinning Max Mask. There are also numerous in-game unlocks to be had, such as themed poker tables and chips. I hope Max's face is slapped on everything.



For just a fiver, Telltale's Poker Night 2 is available today on Steam.
Product Update - Valve
Release notes for 4/26/2013

[ MISC ]

- Reduced cl_radar_scale minimum from 0.4 to 0.25.
- Fixed a problem where workshop maps included in Operation Payback weren't playable on community servers without Operation Payback Pass.
- Fixed a problem where Operation Payback banner could sometimes show up over friends in Play With Friends lobby.
- Added an explanation to Operation Payback Pass to indicate that Operation Payback is a mapgroup for Classic Casual mode.
Community Announcements - alfred
We have released a Beta update for Half-Life and associated games.
Changes in this update are:
  • Fixed music tracks to correctly play across level change and to not stop (or restart) at unexpected times
  • Clamped health values to fix display issues when it dropped below 1 or above 255
  • Draw the "Paused" message when you pause the game
  • Fixed custom game menus (like ones displayed by AMXModX) not rendering correctly
...

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