All manner of outrage followed the launch of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Not only was the finished product pretty average, but it paled in comparison to early demo footage. Many felt they'd been rorted. That sentiment will be tested in a court of law soon, because Californian law firm Edelson LLC yesterday filed a suit on behalf of one Damion Perrine, claiming that demos of the game at events including PAX and E3 were not indicative of the final product.
The issue seems to center around press embargoes, interestingly enough: the suit insinuates that these restrictions prevented customers from assessing whether the game was worth their money in due time. "Unfortunately for their fans, Defendants never told anyone - consumers, industry critics, reviewers, or reporters - that their 'actual gameplay' demonstration advertising campaign bore little resemblance to the retail product that would eventually be sold to a large community of unwitting purchasers," the suit reads . The embargo for Aliens: Colonial Marines lifted on the morning of the game's launch.
The suit is claiming damages for those who purchased the game both on its release date and as a pre-order. It also draws attention to a Tweet from Gearbox president Randy Pitchford, who Tweeted after the game's launch that the complaints were "understood and fair". It'll be interesting to see how this saga ends, and what ramifications - if any - it will have on the way publishers handle pre-release demo footage.
Stealth Bastard Deluxe is a world of frighteningly fast-paced, dancing-between-the-deadly-lasers fun, so you can't blame Curve Studios for wanting to get it out to as many people as they can. Yesterday marked its official release on Mac and Linux (or as I like to call it, the penguin OS). But if you're a regular ol' Windows gamer like me, you might wonder, "Huh. What do I get?" Don't worry, friend. No matter the platform, everybody can now get the pixelly stealth platformer on Steam for 50% off. No longer will we be divided by our choice of operating system. Discounts for everybody!
"Since the original was PC-only, this will be the first chance that Mac and Linux players will have had to jump in. I'm really happy to finally be able to make players swear out loud on these platforms too," says developer and totally nice guy Jonathan Biddle.
Self-described as "Metal Gear Solid meets Super Meat Boy," Stealth Bastard Deluxe has been knocked down to $5 over on its Steam page, an offer that'll last till May 7. If you're into that trippy, chippy soundtrack, you can buy it bundled with the game for $6.50. Lastly, fresh players on Mac and Linux can also pick up the DLC, Teleporter Chambers, for $1.50 more.
It's that sad, age-old tale of a traveler never making it to his final destination. Or, in this case, the second part of an atmospheric adventure game not reaching its intended recipients in time. Cardboard Computer have announced, via email newsletter, that part two has been delayed by "a couple of weeks" - but to make up for it, they'll be releasing "small/weird screenshots" regularly on social media till then.
We loved the series' beginning and are slightly grumpy about having to wait a bit longer for part two. Previously due this month, the Cardboard team blame the frenzy around distribution, troubleshooting issues, and the excitement of taking part in the Independent Games Festival for the delay. No exact release date has been specified, but we're hoping to be able to continue Conway's oddball antique-delivering journey in mid-May.
In the meantime, here's a suitably enigmatic screengrab from Act 2. More will be released over the coming days, so if your mind needs something to chew on till the next part's released, follow 'em on Facebook.
Online games almost always run into trouble during their grand launches, as us online gamers are only too aware. For many games, it's the first time they've been introduced to such a wide audience, and the resulting stress and unearthing of bugs is often more than the developers might anticipate. Why, you could almost feel sorry for them - almost. Of course, not being able to play a game you've paid for sucks, and it might be something you've experienced with the launch of Neverwinter's open beta. While the team at Perfect World try to wrangle the queue issues, here are some obscure fixes for other problems you might be having.
The sudden influx of players in the new free-to-play MMO has led to numerous players stranded before a buggy launcher that won't let them in-game. Staff at the Perfect World forum will probably be up all night, stomping bugs. It'll be nasty work for them, but it turns out that if you have any of the following error messages, the problems are quite easily fixable:
The patch client got a message while it was in a state with no response function OR Trying to update the launcher. Be patient. Tried connecting 1 time. You are advised to visit a download link listed on the forum, and to replace your existing .exe with the newly downloaded file.
403 error. Visit the Redeem Key page. No, you don't actually need a key to redeem; just visiting this page should be enough to solve this particular error.
CrypticError: Oops! Your Cryptic application has crashed. To help us out, please indicate what was going on at the time of the crash, while we gather information. Are you running Mumble and/or Teamviewer? Close 'em. It's awkward if that's what you're using to communicate with your pals in-game, but hopefully there'll be a proper fix soon.
More issues can be found at Neverwinter's General Discussion forums. Are you playing? Have you mentioned to defeat the queue and get in-game yet?
After the release of the new GTA 5 trailer, we became conspicuously aware, once again, of the absent PC release date for Rockstar's next open world fiasco. So we reached our hands into the mists of Grand Theft Autos past, crunched some numbers, and came up with the best possible estimate of when the game will be announced and released for the PC.
If we look at all games in the Grand Theft Auto series since Vice City, we can see that it's about 462 days, on average, between the announcement of the game and the announcement (not release) of the PC version. It's a slightly more reasonable 212 days between the first console release and the PC release. You can see a game-by-game breakdown in this handy chart:
If we take the average time between console and PC announcement and add it to GTA 5's original announcement date of October 13, 2011, that should have put the PC release date announcement around January 17, 2013. No such luck. Assuming they're going to make us wait just as stupidly long as they did for GTA 4 (821 days from the first E3 tease, for the record), we'll be hearing about a PC release date around January 11, 2014. Every main series entry since Vice City has failed to announce a PC ship date until after the first console version shipped.
In terms of when we might actually be able to play it, the gap between console and PC release has been consistent(ly frustrating) at around 212 days, without the kind of crazy deviation we see in the release date announcement window. 212 days after the currently listed ship date for GTA 5 on the consoles would be April 17, 2014. If the gap is as long as it was for San Andreas, we would have it by April 30 instead.
On the off chance that Rockstar makes us wait as long for a PC announcement as they did on GTA 4, and as long between PC announcement and PC release as they did on San Andreas, we've been shoved back to July 4, 2014. Not to say that they couldn't try to annoy us further by breaking their own records, but that's our official prediction for the most distant date to reasonably expect the game on PC.
There you have it: by our highly scientific reckoning, you'll probably be loading up GTA 5 just in time for the 238th anniversary of America's independence. As to when we may be free from the tyranny of waiting months for our Grand Theft Auto ports (we still haven't forgotten about Red Dead Redemption, by the way), we don't have enough data to speculate. At least we always get the best version. We're willing to wait for the ability to mod in stuff like this.
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.
There's a saucily dressed priestess in all of us, as I like to say. She's probably wearing a hat shaped like a cat. If this sounds familiar to you, it's probably because, like pretty much every gamer on the planet, you have a history with the adorable manga-esque Ragnarok Online. Most of us have thoroughly abandoned the fantasy MMO's grindfest for good, but maybe the new sequel, now headed to Steam, will pique your nostalgia-fuddled interest.
Ragnarok Online 2 follows on from its decade-old predecessor, offering a recognizable world that—finally—is rendered in full 3D. Based on from what we've seen in the beta, there's a hell of a lot less mindless grinding this time, though the questing system looks so streamlined that I wonder if we'll run into the opposite problem of leveling simply being too easy. It won't cost much to find out, as the series has gone free-to-play, and at the very least it'll be worth downloading for the nostalgia hit. Who doesn't want to see how porings have evolved in their new 3D environment?
Ragnarok Online 2 has been in open beta for a few months, but May 1 marks its official release on Steam. It was originally handled via the nightmarishly clunky site WarpPortal, and unfortunately, we'll still need to register an account there—but come the official commercial release, we'll also have the option of playing through Steam. Hopefully it'll make the in-game transactions a lot less difficult to complete; it's been too long since I donned the birthday cake hat.
If I was nerdy enough to have a "favorite engine," it would probably be the Unreal Engine—not necessarily for its technical achievements (though you can't say it hasn't been an essential tool for developers in the past decade), but for its accessibility. The easy-breezy development kit has been especially kind to indies, and because of that, some brilliantly creative games have been built on the engine. Now Steam's flogging an Unreal Indie Bundle, and for $20, it's actually got a pretty admirable selection of games.
In the seven-game lineup, the stand-outs for me are the hypercute Dungeon Defenders and slick-looking Sanctum - these are two tower defense games I've dragged numerous pals into playing the past couple of years, and I'd feel pretty pleased with myself if I could drag the readers of PC Gamer into playing it too. Meanwhile, I'm also looking forward to giving Primal Carnage a whirl. While our preview in October last year thought it decent despite not seeming quite fleshed out, it's half a year onward, and I'm dying to see if those promisingly savage dinosaurs have cut their teeth on the beta stage and become truly, frighteningly awesome.
The other games included in the package are Q.U.B.E., The Ball, Unmechanical, and Waves. All up, the games are worth about $80, but in the Steam bundle? You can get 'em for twenty. Though there isn't a specified end date for the promotion, it's warning that it'll be around "for a limited time only."
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.
Rejoice, fans of freezing to death in the harsh and unforgiving coldness, surrounded only by the pained screams of troops locked in a bitter battle between two unstoppable war machines! If you're worried that Company of Heroes 2's campaign won't keep a chill in your bones throughout the summer months, Relic have announced a second mode. It's called Theatre of War and, from what they say, it sounds like an automated delivery system for human misery (and tactically satisfying RTS missions).
Taking the form of new single player and co-op challenges, the mode will provide a series of scenarios against unique AI commanders and "overwhelming odds". COH2 game director Quinn Duffy has this to say on the matter: "Theatre of War acts as a perfect bridge between the game’s single and multiplayer content providing a high level of re-playability and helping to introduce traditionally solo players to the online elements of the game."
At the game's launch, Theatre of War will contain nine unique missions per faction, set around key battles of 1941. More missions will be added after release - including the already announced pre-order mini-campaign.