We elevate the Total War games beyond simply being good strategy games because we believe they’re story-engines: that not only do they offer deep and difficult decisions about how to paint the map your colour, but they also entertain you with your own genius.
Shogun 2 is a spectacular return to form. Partly, it’s the period: a time in Japanese history when heroes and villains rise and fall. Partly, it’s the technology: there’s little in PC gaming that can match the drama of a full speed cavalry charge. But mostly, it’s because the game creates interesting drama. The time when you had to rush an army home to fend off a betrayal from your neighbour clan. The time when you hid an army and engineered an ambush. The time when your veteran clan leader dismounted, and held the line while thousands of peasants rolled into the front gate. That time when… you’ve got the stories. You remember.
Highly recommended: Frozen Synapse and Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty.
'Tis the season for increasingly excellent indie bundles. The LittleBIGbunch sale has gone live now on Get Games. It contains the excellent turn based strategy, Frozen Synapse, plaformer Explodemon, Serious Sam Double D, Munch's Oddysee and New Star Soccer. You can use the payment slider to decide how much cash you want to lay down (or write the number into the payment box), and then decide how your payment gets divided up between the developers and GamesAid.
If you're on the hunt for more great deals, the rumoured Humble Indie Bundle 4 went live earlier today. That includes Jamestown, Bit.Trip Runner, Super Meat Boy, Shank, and NightSky. If you pay more than the average donation, you'll also get Cave Story+ and Gratuitous Space Battles. Buy both packs and you'll have plenty to play over the Xmas holidays.
Frozen Synapse developer Paul Taylor, from Mode 7, wrote a "mini-postmortem" at Games Brief on how business and design considerations influenced the game's development and marketing. He explains why Mode 7 gambled on a higher price point (for an indie game) and discusses how Frozen Synapse is at once limited by being pay-once, but how it would likely fail as a free-to-play game.
He writes, "Pay-once is the most maligned business model out there right now: I would suggest that even the most hardcore entrenched old-school developers have been won round by the raw data that free-to-play games have generated, so pay-once is in decline."
However, he also points out that a game like Frozen Synapse does not lend itself to F2P, and that Synapse's target audience of hardcore gamers is "averse" to F2P models. He also admits that designing for "pay once" let Mode 7 design a game that was "not based around restricting the player's access to content."
"I’m yet to hear a sane scheme for an F2P Frozen Synapse," Taylor concludes.
The whole piece is worth reading for an interesting description of how Mode 7 used a paid-beta to switch to full-time development, Steam's critical importance, and why Mode 7 is being very cautious about expansion and porting. While the core team has moved onto another project, because Taylor says they do not want to stagnate, they have also brought a new team member aboard to work on DLC and tweaks for Frozen Synapse.
Paul joined us on Three Moves Ahead a few months ago, and he addressed a few of these topics in some detail, as well as the importance of Frozen Synapse's curious fiction and single-player campaign.
The Humble Indie Bundle has once again proved an incredible success, with the latest packet of independent gems pulling in over a million bucks.
As reported over at Joystiq, the latest bundle that came packaged with fan-favourite Frozen Synapse went on sale in late September. The deal window is now over, meaning if you didn't get chance to take up the offer you're now out of luck, but 231,799 people took advantage of the pay-as-much-as-you-like deal and scooped not only Frozen Synapse, but SpaceChem and Trauma too. The average donation was $4.81/£3.07 per bundle, pulling in a total of $1,115,350.13/£710,947.02.
Last week we announced the landmark launch of PC Gamer Digital, and today we're excited to let you know that Episode 2 is now available on Steam - you don't want to miss it! In the second episode of PC Gamer Digital, you'll climb into the ethereal world of BioShock Infinite for a self-guided, 360-degree tour of Columbia, go behind the scenes of upcoming free-to-play shooter Tribes: Ascend, discover the cerebral tactics of Frozen Synapse, and much more!
Purchasing PC Gamer Digital Episode 2 also scores you the Killer Exclusive hat in Team Fortress 2. (It's extremely sexy!)
If you haven't checked out Digital yet, it's a brand-new interactive environment which houses all-original games coverage and strategy guides from the editors of PC Gamer. There's nothing else like it, so if you want to really know what it is, we highly recommend that you grab the free base application (which includes Episode 0 with free content) to experience the future of games coverage for yourself. PC Gamer Digital is currently only available in the US, but we're working through legal stuff and load testing as quickly as possible so that we can launch elsewhere - we'll let you know as soon as we have an international release date. For answers to more questions, give our announcement FAQ a glance.
Here's a little more about what you'll get in Episode 2:
BioShock Infinite - Step into Columbia's Downfall You've seen the trailers, but you've never seen BioShock Infinite like this. Experience the beauty and discord of Columbia as you explore 360-degree panoramas with commentary informed by Creative Director Ken Levine.
PCG Plays: Frozen Synapse - Tactical Showdown! This week, we're playing Frozen Synapse, an elegant game of tactics and psychology from indie developer Mode 7 Games. Not only that, PC Gamer's Evan Lahti got to test his wits against one of the game's creators, Mode 7 co-founder Ian Hardingham. See how he fared!
Tribes: Ascend - Interview with Todd Harris We visited indie developer Hi-Rez Studios to talk to Executive Producer Todd Harris about Tribes: Ascend, which promises to bring back the large-scale, kinetic CTF action the series pioneered, as well as introduce new facets, not the least of which is a free-to-play model.
StarCraft II - Protip: The Baneling Bust Are your Zerg rushes running up against pesky buildings? Damn industrious jerks. Learn how to clear the path with a tactic that's as explosive as it is gooey: the Baneling bust.
Video Settings Explained: Part 2 of 2 - Advanced Settings Demystified How does ambient occlusion work? What is tessellation? Discover the effects of five rarely-explained graphics settings with our direct on/off comparisons and narration.
The Humble Frozen Synapse Bundle already received a surprise bonus with point-and-click adventure Trauma, and now indie puzzle game SpaceChem has further sweetened the pot. In case you are not going through enough mental contortions from trying to plot your next move in Frozen Synapse, you can take a break by trying to solve problems with SpaceChem's molecular machines.
You can buy the bundle here. If you already have it, you will find that SpaceChem has been added to your account. Buyers who pay more than the average also receive Trine, the Shadowgrounds games, the prototype for Jack Claw, and a preorder for Splot. One week remains for this sale, which benefits the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and Child's Play.
Earlier this week we told you about the superb Frozen Synapse headlining the latest Humble Bundle, and today the deal just got sweeter. Acclaimed point-and-click adventure game Trauma is now part of the bundle as a bonus.
If you already jumped on Frozen Synapse, don't worry: anyone who has already bought the Frozen Synapse Bundle still gets Trauma added to their Humble Bundle download page. But if you haven't bought the bundle yet, Trauma is yet another reason to do so.
You can buy the Frozen Synapse bundle here. Proceeds from this sale support the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Child’s Play charity.
The latest Humble Bundle offers the tactical, turn-based Frozen Synapse (and its soundtrack) for a very reasonable "whatever you want to pay." As always, the bundle is DRM-free and you can register your copy of Frozen Synapse with another digital distributor, if you wish.
Gamers who pay pay more than the average ($4.37 at present) will also receive Trine, Shadowgrounds, Shadowgrounds: Survivor, Jack Claw (a prototype for a cancelled project) and the in-development Splot. This sale supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Child's Play charity.
Frozen Synapse is brilliant, 89% brilliant, in fact, which is why the release of a demo on the Frozen Synapse site is brilliant news. The 131MB download contains three demo missions and an instant skirmish option that will randomly generate an arena and some pawns to control. The multiplayer option is locked off, sadly. Frozen Synapse excels when you're facing off against human opponents, but don't worry, the AI is capable of giving new players a run for their money. Frozen Synapse is available to buy from the Frozen Synapse site and Steam.
BioShock Infinite stole the show at E3, and now it steals our September issue cover with an in-depth look at the high-flying shooter sequel and interviews with Ken Levine and his team at Irrational. We also got hands-on with two real-time strategy heavyweights, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Age of Empires Online, took an exclusive look at Diablo III’s followers, and reviewed indie tactical strategy hit Frozen Synapse and gorgeous racer DiRT 3. Oh, and we show you how you can strap a heavy machine gun to a cow in Arma 2.