Star Wars: Battlefront is a thing I'm rather excited about, and that's despite me not being a huge fan of multiplayer shooters, galaxies that at one time have harboured Jar Jar Binks, or games where I'm required to be any good. The previous Battlefronts were so enormous that I could happily do my own thing as a battle Ewok or something, contributing to the larger fight without feeling pressured that I had to bring my A-game. I have high hopes for DICE's reboo-quel, in other words, and a new interview on IGN conducted with Battlefront Design Director Niklas Fegraeus hasn't lowered my expectations a jot.
Leading with a new piece of concept art (you can find that below), the real meat of the article comprises a few choice quotes from Fergraeus, including this one:
We have actually made the decision to specifically tailor certain maps to certain game modes, and what we get from that is not only incredibly varied scales, but also gameplay that will allow players to live out some of their most memorable Star Wars battle fantasies.
Fergraeus promises "great variety" in the scale of Battlefront's maps and modes—for instance, snowy, AT-AT-riddled Hoth will be bigger than the more densely packed forest of Endor. Reading between the lines, I don't imagine we're going to be spending much time in Hoth trekking around on foot.
It's this kind of disparity between maps that's always appealed to me in the Battlefront series, so it's reassuring to hear that this philosophy appears to have carried over to the new game. Size aside, maps should also be pretty fancy looking, thanks to a process called 'photogrammetry'. I'll spare you the Google search—photogrammetry is a clever way to use photographs for environmental texturing, and it's how the developers of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter made such a damned beautiful game last year.
There's a spiritual successor to the accomplished Wonder Boy/Monster World games in the works, coming later this year for the PC and PlayStation 4. If you've not had the pleasure, they were a series of platformers for the Arcade/Master System/Mega Drive, set in their own distinct universe where player transformation often featured heavily.
If you'll allow me a little self-indulgence, the Wonder Boy/Monster World games mean a great deal to me. Or rather, one of them does—Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. The Master System game was my first platformer set in a world rather than a series of levels, boasting as it did a nonlinear, Metroidy linked environment you gradually unlocked with the aid of new abilities. Key to this was your power to transform into various humanoid animals, including Mouse-Man, who could walk up walls and ceilings, and Hawk-Man who could fly around at will.
Indie developer Game Atelier was already working on a spiritual follow-up of sorts in the form of Flying Hamster II, via an unsuccessful Kickstarter that didn't a gain a lot of traction last year. Now, they've used an update on that page to announce that it's being reworked into Monster Boy and the Wizard of Booze, an even more spiritual successor made with the help of original series developers Westone.
While they don't have the rights to the name, they consider Monster Boy an official follow-up to the Wonder Boy/Monster World series. It certainly looks the part, with several enemies in initial screenshots seemingly drawn directly from previous games. Starting out as a clone, Flying Hamster II has morphed into a full-fledged Wonder Boy game, with "no more hamsters but a new hero with a story matching with the Monster World universe".
The original version of the game seemed to be sticking fairly close to the Dragon's Trap way of doing things, featuring a non-linear world and bunch of different transformations, each with their own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. It looked a bit lovely, and I think it looks even lovelier now that it's an 'official' Monster Boy title. This new version has a publisher, FDG Games, so I don't think there's another Kickstarter on the cards.
Skyrim is weird place filled with ice wraiths, giant spiders, werewolves, and skeletal dragons. It could always stand to get a little weirder, though, so why not start filling the world with walking, talking, humanoid creations made of wood? You can assemble these wooden people yourself with the Craftable Followers mod.
Start by subscribing to the mod in the Steam Workshop. Once you've loaded the game, find Anise's cabin, a small shack southwest of Riverwood. Head inside, pick the lock on the cellar's trapdoor, and look for a book on Anise's table. Grab it and read it, then head back outside, where you might find Anise in a foul mood. Like a lot of uptight Skyrim citizens, she doesn't like having her home broken into.
Visit a forge: this is where you'll be building your new wooden pals. In the crafting menu, scroll down to 'Misc' to find the list, and note the necessary ingredients. You'll need firewood, of course, and often things like leather, linen wrap, wheat, some plants, and possibly a few weapons or armor, depending on who you want to build. You can chop firewood at mills, gather wheat on farms, buy leather from blacksmiths, and find linen in general stores or by killing the undead. You'll also need some soul gems, which you probably have dozens of anyway.
Once you've got the goods, build someone. They'll appear in your inventory as a scroll, so select it, use it, and presto! You've got a new best friend. You can craft bards, merchants, farmers, mages, or warriors. You can build a trainer as well, and while they can't personally teach you anything they can at least sell you a selection of skill books.
If you plan to build more than one wooden ally, I'd suggest starting with a crafted lumberjack. He carries around 1,000 pieces of firewood, so if you build him first you won't have to do any more chopping. It's a little ghastly: from his perspective he's essentially carrying around a bunch of dismembered limbs, but he seems fine with it, so why should you object?
If you want to get even weirder, you can craft a wooden bride or groom and get married, though I'd be mindful of splinters on your wedding night. And, if the sight of your creaking creations walking around makes you wish your own body was made of wood instead of boring old flesh and blood, no worries. By starting a new character (or using the 'showracemenu' console command) you can actually play as a member of the Manakin race, as the mod calls them.
Talk to one of your creations, and you'll get the same options as when you talk to any of Skyrim's followers. You can invite them to come with you, dismiss them, or have them hang around a particular spot waiting for you. Keep this in mind while dragging them off to fight monsters: your new pal is made of wood, which comes with a natural weakness to fire. On the plus side, they're immune to poison and disease, and don't need to worry about breathing during extended underwater dives.
I spotted this mod on Kotaku. Thanks, Kotaku!
Shaun Prescott, Australia Editor
Is tired of being sold pre-order packages just to avoid missing out on virtual goods he has no idea if he wants yet.
Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor
Wishes we lived in a perfect world where Evolve shipped with mod tools, but is a sad, sad realist.
In Face Off, PC Gamer writers go head to head over an issue affecting PC gaming. Today, Shaun and Tyler debate whether or not Evolve s pre-order and season pass bonuses are excessive.
Shaun Prescott: YES. It pressures customers into buying into an unknown quantity.
Imagine this: you wake up on the morning a videogame is released, you pay the asking price for said videogame, download it, boot it up, and happily play the videogame. You are not anxious that you did not buy the Premium Deluxe Super Bundle Pack or the Gargantuan Mega Bonus Everything Pack, because the game is just the game. Seems like fun, doesn t it?
Evolve isn t the first title to muddy the waters with confusing pre-order incentives (hello, Ubisoft), but there seems to be a lot more at stake. This is a new series and it will live or die based on the strength of its online community. Additionally, dangling a full playable monster as a pre-order incentive seems cynical at a time when most blockbuster video games barely work at launch.
Tyler Wilde: NO. It s on par with what we expect from a big publisher, and not that bad.
I m playing devil s advocate here, but I think it s a fair argument that, realistically, we re just not going to get a single package and years of free updates from 2K. Here s a subsidiary of a big public company spending loads of money on a very expensive-looking risk from Turtle Rock, and we have to ask why it s pushing a $100 special edition? I mean, consider the graphics alone: Evolve is gorgeous. Except for a few anomalies, we re not going to get accomplishments like that without a big publisher and big marketing push.
SP: Just because it s common practice doesn t mean it s good practice, and doesn t mean we should tolerate it. I understand the publisher s imperative to make money. Take-Two is a publicly listed company and it has stakeholders to please, but pressuring us to purchase before we even know whether the final product is worth our money and making the incentive something quite critical to the core game does not a goodwill effort make. The fact that Turtle Rock try to spin this as a thank you is pretty funny, actually. I suppose it is a bonus to pre-order customers, but it s also a cool thing you re not getting for people who buy the regular product. As a business 2K has a responsibility to its investors, but without its customers, it has no investors to report to. Please customers with an exceptional game and people will buy your game and respect your company.
TW: Goodwill doesn t keep people employed. I don t have any inside knowledge about Turtle Rock s situation, but hypothetically, if I were in their shoes, I d be on board with 2K s plan. A season pass means I get to stay in business making Evolve-related stuff for a quantifiable amount of time, and that s attractive in an industry that just loves to layoff 100 people after every release. I hate that about the industry, and selling giant season pass packages certainly isn t the best solution, but I hope it keeps Turtle Rock going—maybe with one team plugging away at Evolve DLC, while another can start working on a new game.
SP: You re absolutely right that post-launch layoffs are horrible, but the fact of the matter is: this is a premium retail game. Take Left 4 Dead for instance: that was a game released with no confusing post-launch transactions and people still play it. As you mention, Turtle Rock isn t the decision maker here, but they are a fine and convenient example of a studio that can release a hugely profitable game without the nonsense.
TW: Yeah, but that was with Valve. I mean, they own the thing that distributes PC games to everyone. I just don t think companies like 2K, which make big investments in the hope of big returns, can afford to sell a game like Evolve for $50 with no pre-orders and hope for the best. This is an asymmetrical shooter unrelated to any established series, which makes it a big risk. Pushing for pre-orders is just risk management. I never recommend pre-ordering, because launches of multiplayer games tend to go poorly, but if we have to wade through some annoying marketing tactics to get games that aren t rehashes or remakes, I can deal with it.
SP: That may be true, and that kind of risk management is understandable (if ugly) when it comes to, say, the new Assassin s Creed. But Evolve will rely on the community it establishes. If 2K pisses off the community then it calls the game s whole existence into question. Look at how difficult it is to get a game in Titanfall nowadays thanks to an onslaught of paid-for map packs. While Turtle Rock has promised it will release maps free to avoid this fate, a full-priced multiplayer-focused game needs to offer a level playing field. It needs to be fair. It needs the appearance of being fair. It is a bad thing for some players to have things that others can t (unless they pay for it months down the track).
TW: Turtle Rock has said that none of the DLC stuff will segment the playerbase. Like you say, all of the maps will be free. If someone has an extra monster, you can still play against it—you just won't be able to play as that monster. That's not really unfair, because it s not monster vs. monster. It s just another interesting enemy I can play against even if I don't pay for the privilege to play as it.
SP: Yes, but it still creates an environment where a competitive game is operating based on how players have spent their money. This isn t just a matter of offering choices, as Phil Robb said last month. It s segmenting haves from the have nots. I don t want to feel like I m missing out when I fight the Behemoth. I don t want to think the player with access to the Behemoth is gaining a competitive advantage while I wait to pay for it. Am I being entitled? Probably, but I m also probably going to spend a lot of money on this game when it releases.
TW: You know, I think there are reasonable arguments on both sides, but it's tough for me to continue arguing that this pre-order stuff doesn t lower my opinion of Evolve at all. Dammit Shaun, you win, because, yeah, it definitely does. I can understand why these pre-order bonus packages happen, and I think Turtle Rock has been really open about how this is not going to segment players, but that isn't the only problem. Pre-orders in general are the problem. Consumers shouldn t be pressured into throwing money at something before it s released just to get DLC they can t possibly know yet if they want. Buying games shouldn t feel like gambling—though to be fair, that's not just Evolve, that's most big publisher releases. But you win—next time you be devil's advocate, OK?
I get irate when watching a bad pickban phase.
League's is simplistic compared to Dota 2's: for LoL, each side takes turns banning champions one at a time until six are banned away. Then they take turns picking champions in a 1-2-2-2-2-1 pattern (blue side picks one, red side picks two, blue picks two, etc). Then they swap the champions onto the players that are supposed to play them and hash out their strategies in the game. Dota 2's competitive system has bans and picks interweaved with each other, making for an involved game of what David Sirlin of "Play to Win" fame would describe as "yomi," or a form of mind-reading. But where Dota 2's is something akin to a game unto itself, League's much simpler approach only qualifies as a diversionary minigame.
Theoretically, it should also be a minigame long solved. High-priority or flexible first picks and the core-structuring red-side 2/3 aren't complex concepts, and even a pro player distracted with thoughts of their rival's reputations and known specializations can kick out a decent team half the time. The fact that it's now global standard for coaches to assist their team in picks and bans, as has been recently formalized in both NA and EU LCS, should by and large make all team compositions and pick processes go like clockwork, or at least fail to make the audience smack their foreheads.
Forget about slapping foreheads. I'm putting a dent into my desk. In North America, especially, the picks are so incredibly bad as to be stunning. But NA might as well be fielded by ten teams of utter geniuses compared to what happened over IEM Taipei, when defending GPL champions and LMS leaders Taipei Assassins got literally everything they could have wished for from the Saigon Jokers.
It can't be the coaches, at least not entirely. TPA's process brightened the hell up once they got external aid. Are they simply not aware of how badly they've messed up their research and preparations?
The more complex a game, the harder it is to balance it well. Sure, there is such thing as a competitive rock/paper/scissors scene, but is it going to get 150,000 Twitch viewers per broadcast? For various reasons, no: we prefer myriad and unpredictable outcomes that not only summarizes but demonstrates a player or team's cleverness. We also prefer it to be immediately understandable, which is tension in another direction and why watching Dota 2 pickbans put me to sleep—I'm not so nearly invested in their scene as to understand the nuances, so I lose interest quickly.
But here in January 2015, the big priorities of League of Legends' pick/ban strategies should, by all means, be self-evident. And I feel that if it is evident even to me, there's no excuses for coaches and teams to be dropping the ball. They have to at least know what they're likely going to run into—there aren't that many different strategies to memorize, early into the 2015 season!
If you aren't ready to deal with Gnar and Jarvan, ban one or both—and, honestly, if you're that badly prepped, ban both immediately. The "Gnarvan" combo is easy to understand: Jarvan creates a ring of walls around his target, and Gnar stuns anybody he slams into walls. The natural synergy, especially given that Gnar is blatantly overpowered at the moment with way too many free stats as Mega-Gnar, is usually enough to wreck any team they encounter.
The funny thing is, this wasn't supposed to be possible. Gnar was explicitly designed to be hard to control: the forced transformation at full rage is meant to be difficult to handle, and hard to combo with. Difficult, but not impossible—and he was designed prior to Riot re-coding wall-creating abilities to interact exactly like their permanent environmental counterparts, enabling current top laners to figure out absolutely sickening synergies with their junglers. You know a team's gone when the combo hits—you know it because Gnar's so aggressively overtuned that the wide and heavy hit melts even the tankiest health bars, tipping the balance in his team's favor.
But note that I'm stressing Gnar's involvement, and not Jarvan IV's. Though Jarvan has been an incredibly popular jungler, his individual contribution mainly counters no-dash champions like Xerath or Sivir, who needs Flash up to escape his attention. Other popular picks are less vulnerable to him—but all are vulnerable to Gnar, whose conditionally long-range jumps can ruin the day for even the most mobile champions. Fights are slightly less effective without a summonable wall for him to interact with, but junglers like Lee Sin, Rek'Sai or Rengar still work just fine setting up for his rampage.
If teams are smart enough to ban out Jarvan and Gnar together, they haven't quite caught on that it isn't safe to relax yet. As mentioned: part of the reason to pick Jarvan in the first place is to have a hard answer to Sivir. So why pick Sivir? Because Kassadin, Lissandra and LeBlanc are in the game, and good luck surviving encounters without a Spell Shield to negate a double AP assassins initiation! Setting up the strategy core is also deceptively easy: all three are great midlaners right now, but Kassadin and Lissandra are also highly effective top laners, making it difficult to know if a team's going for this specific strategy until it's too late and one side's already locked into their strategy.
This is the one composition that maybe gives the Gnarvan combo problems. Due to the immediate blink abilities, Jarvan's Cataclysms are less reliable set-ups for Gnar's wall-slams, allowing a team to swiftly reposition and take advantage of their ability cooldowns to destroy the back line. But assassins are decidedly early and mid-game oriented strategies, and bypassing the threat wall imposed by Jarvan and Gnar is a very skill-intensive deed, turning considerably harder the later the game goes on (and very hard if the Gnar player has above-caliber rage management).
If you don't need to worry about Gnar and Jarvan and are expecting your opponent to dip into their assassins pool, you're going to be running Sivir and Morgana. Possibly Sivir and Janna, if the threat is more from hard damage than crowd control abilities. Sivir and Morgana, in particular, are nearly impossible for the current crop of close-range assassins to sink their fangs into: both have Spell Shields to deter attempts to pin them down, and the mobility offered from Sivir's On The Hunt lets them slip away long before even Kassadin can Riftwalk after them.
But the threat isn't the bot lane pairing specifically, but what Sivir's presence enables. Like with Jarvan's interaction with Gnar, her ultimate supercharges a jungler from decent status to unholy terror. Though the western scene's infamously had a hard time utilizing Rengar in competitive play, literally everybody else in the League of Legends scene has long since treated him as a high priority. With Sivir, Janna or Orianna to help him close the distance on squishy targets—like other assassins—a Rengar-centric composition is like an anti-pick composition. His rooting crowd control and instantaneous burst out of stealth would normally be telegraphed by the Metal Gear Solid-esque exclamation marks over opponents' heads when he approaches, but the speed bursts provided by the rest of his team largely negates this deliberate weakness in his design. It also really helps that On The Hunt goes both ways: it lets Sivir and her support fall back as Rengar advances, rewriting the lines of the battlefield in favor of their team.
So that's the current lopsided rock-paper-scissors situation for League of Legends, but there's one last thing to note: Rek'sai. Yes, like Gnar, another ridiculously overtuned champion to prioritize in bans or even first/second picks. League of Legends' answer to Dota 2's Sand King's an enormous destabilizing force, and I wholly recommend simply banning her outright at the start. Not only does she very easily bypass most barriers, not only does her ultimate effectively grant her total map control, but the damage she currently does is on the absurd end. Even if she builds full tank—especially if she builds full tank—the base values and true damage nuke makes her a fully independent threat, with any of the current team comps only amplifying her effectiveness.
Piece by piece
Though there are individual elements in the current metagame that I consider destablizing (Gnar and Rek'sai's lead designers need to spend a good long time contemplating their philosophies), I actually like this current metagame's three-way tension, as each has multiple variants and approaches within them, and each are centralized around teamfighting anyhow, producing spectator-friendly clashes. What I don't like is needless sloppiness, or evidence of lack of preparation from nominally professional teams and players. The data, nuances and success rates of all three current strategies should be very well known to them and their analysts, as well as the preference rates of their rival teams. Knowing how to prioritize the picks to obfuscate their intentions should also be clear, yet what we're seeing is not obfuscation but outright errors.
The difference between solo queue and ranked 5's play is building a coherent intention, not reactively cobbling responses, yet you see a lot of the latter at the bottom of the LCS ladders. Order of picks matter: whether you're blue side using a flex pick first to test enemy waters, or if you're red side nabbing priority picks before your opponent can dilute the field against you.
Bans matter especially so: blue side gets a significant advantage, being able to effectively four-ban against a single player, which is absolutely devastating against teams with a known specialist of limited breadth, though it's a strategy that falls out of favor against truly high-caliber players whose overall game mechanics are sound even without favorite picks. Yet even without locking out, hyper-focused bans do lock teams in on specific champion-oriented strategies, and can be used as a trap to draw them out of their comfort zones.
It would be a mistake to treat the initial strategy parts of a competition as less vital than overall skill. Everybody's putting in the hours now. Everybody's taking practice more seriously (or should be). Even in the western scene, where the grassroots histories of players and organizations are still peeping out in tufts from the roughly woven blankets of respectability and legitimacy, there's been an increasing equivalence in individual skill. The hierarchies are no longer so strict as Player A is guaranteed to beat B is guaranteed to beat C, but roughly estimated odds and percentages based on matchups and conditions.
So the teams, and especially the coaches, have to learn to create those conditions. Piece by piece. Champion by champion. And most importantly, pay attention to how their rivals are doing so, and what changes they are likely to make from week to week.
Don't think for a moment that they won't be scouting you in Shanghai or Seoul. If not now, then certainly over the summer. Plan accordingly.
The language of gaming is constantly mutating. For instance, "lag" used to refer to delays in client/server communication, but lately we've heard it used as if it's synonymous with "low framerate." Baffling. To help clear some things up, we've asked regular PC Gamer writer and all-round lexical savant Richard Cobbett to create a brief glossary of PC gaming's most important terms and their modern definitions (with a few additions of our own).
Page one: AAA - DRM
AAA: Industry talk for big and amazing game . Since nobody will admit to actively making crap, almost nobody will admit to going below AA.
Abandonware: A nice sounding but legally-meaningless term for games no longer sold and thus deemed fair to download for free. Respectable abandonware sites will remove any that return to the market, such as via GOG.COM, even if their current rights-holders ambitiously think a game that nobody actually liked back in 1995 is now worth $10, had nothing to do with the original, and nobody involved with its creation is being paid.
Achievement: An in-game recognition of your ability, specifically your ability take a sense of pride in such things as playing 500 multiplayer games or collecting a hundred hats. Originally referred to actual achievements, but people didn t like them being so hard to achieve.
Action: A niche genre defined by things happening, sometimes things involving movement.
Adventure: A point and click-based genre involving wonderful worlds, often hilarious dialogue, epic tales, and mindbending puzzles that any sane person would solve by taking $20 to the nearest hardware store instead of stealing from tramps and whipping up chlorine gas.
Aimbot: A cheat that cheaters use to have the computer aim for them, the cheats.
ARPG: Action RPG. Or a grammatically incorrect way of saying an RPG .
Assassin s Creed: Ubisoft wishing you a Happy New Year.
Autosave: Something you know you shouldn t switch your PC off during, but occasionally feel the urge to just to stick one to that smug spinning icon.
Avatar: A player character, usually customisable. Come in many flavours, occasionally including tall and blue, but none worse than that M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Beta: See Finished game.
Boss: A particularly tough enemy that proves its wits and tactical savvy by either living in a room designed to kill it, or a dungeon containing a weapon which is its only weakness. May repeatedly attempt to charge and headbutt you despite being knocked unconscious with every failed attempt.
Buff: A beneficial effect placed on a character to make them stronger or shinier. Debuff is the negative, yet Debuffest is highly regarded.
Bullet hell: Games and mechanics that involve filling the screen with dangerous projectiles. It is not clear what the bullets did to deserve their damnation. Probably jaywalking in improbable expanding patterns.
Cheese: Any strategy that enables players to win in a manner unforeseen by the developers. Cheese is increasingly spreadable thanks to the internet. (And always delicious.)
Checkpoint: Thing that you die a hundred times before reaching.
Cooldown: The amount of time you have to feel depressed between using cool attacks.
Console: Something non-PC owners will need once their new toy becomes outdated.
cRPG: Computer Role Playing Game. Typically like playing a party based game of Dungeons and Dragons with your friends, only without the need for a Dungeon Master to handle the action, dice to determine results, or indeed, friends.
Cover system: A way of spending entire battles staring at the side of a crate, occasionally popping up into the air to trade shots like they re Pok mon cards.
Crouch jump: A height-giving move better appreciated than imagined.
Class: In which the vast possibilities of the universe are condensed into a few more easily balanced archetypes, the female variants usually wishing they got proper armour.
Closed beta: A brief period of time where developers give a game to fans to test, and then pretend that all of their problems and complaints will actually be fixed before release.
Cutting edge: About $400 more than you secretly know you actually needed to spend.
Cutscene: A scene intended to convey plot, which in most cases should have been cut.
Difficulty level: A decision you re asked to make by psychically predicting what the developer's definition actually entails, and are then stuck with even if they turn out to be sadists.
Double-jump: An affront to physics so common, it is its absence that often feels strange.
DLC: The rest of the game you bought.
Dungeon: A sprawling world of monsters and treasure and occasionally a cell. It is rarely particularly clear who built these things and why. But on the plus side, loot!
DRM: An expensive and controversial way of making pirates wait almost a week to play the latest games, sometimes.
Early Access: A way to get access to your future favourite games long before they re any fun, and be sick of the sight of them by release. And often pay more for the privilege.
Episodic: With the exception of Telltale games and very few others, a guarantee that the game you just bought will never be finished and you should not get too attached to anyone.
E-sports: A growing craze in which prodigious expert gamers can make millions and earn the acclaim of the world, before old age takes them in their mid-20s.
Emergent: Action coming from the interplay of systems rather than being scripted, though quite often with nudging behind the scenes to make cool stuff happen.
Escort mission: The art of making any game suddenly excruciating by putting the player s success in the hands of an uncontrollable, useless, usually suicidal AI idiot.
Exclusive: Game everyone will be able to play in a year, max.
Exploit: A cheat that you re not supposed to use, especially if it reveals developer sloppiness. Can result in a ban if online, often more out of pique than actual damage done.
Fall damage: Because the designers hate you and your stupid legs.
Field of view: At high settings, lets you roleplay being an owl that thinks it s human. An owl with an Uzi.
Farming: The art of standing around and gathering the same item or killing the same monster to progress through the game without having new experiences or fun.
Finished game: See beta.
Fog of war: The unseen battlefield/world, even in games that let you play with futuristic units and satellite systems, or games like Beyond Earth where you arrive from space.
Free to play: A delightful sweep of games, their goals ranging from simply getting lots of players in and hoping some pay up, to pay mechanics so hostile that they might as well swear at you every time you put in your credit card number.
Games For Windows Live: A painful reminder of torture survived.
Ghost: A live replay of Patrick Swayze s best performance. Can you beat it?
God game: A genre of enjoying ultimate power over little worlds of inevitably abused subjects. Ironically died out after everyone lost faith in the market.
God mode: Invulnerability to most or all things that might cause injury; also spelled IDDQD .
Griefer: A player in an online game who gets their kicks by trolling, blocking, killing, and annoying other players. According to Dante, future inhabitant of the Fifth Circle of Hell.
Grinding: The art of turning a good eight hour game into an excruciating 20 hour one by padding out fun with calcified not-fun.
Health potion: A thing that can recover you from the brink of death, if not beyond, yet nobody ever remembers when a character gets hurt in the course of the plot.
Indie game: A game claiming to be indie, be it from one person working in a shack to a company funded by newspaper magnates or discovered leprechaun gold.
Instance: A section of a multiplayer world cut off for just you and any members of your party to adventure in and explore without those pesky other humans getting in the way.
JRPG: Japanese Role-Playing Game. Plays like a novel that needed an editor with a machete broken up by fighting, cool music, and ridiculous hair.
Kill streak: Sometimes just a commendation for multiple kills in one life, other times a bonus for being better than everyone else, which helps make you even more better than everyone else.
Lag: The ultimate excuse for poor performance, whatever you think it means. (ed. note: can we all please agree that it doesn t refer to framerate?).
Lane-pusher: What we call MOBAs because Chris Thursten told us not to call them MOBAs. See MOBA.
Level: Thing your parents and every TV writer who has to make up a game for a show thinks that all games are still split up into, to the sadness and amusement of all gamers watching.
Ludology: Fancy way of saying stuff about games .
Microtransactions: An ongoing industry attempt to redefine the word micro .
Mana: The limited resource that takes all the fun out of being a wizard.
Matchmaking: An attempt to automate finding an opponent suitable for every skill level, sometimes stymied by rocks and particularly slow animals not owning copies.
Middleware: All that nonsense that pops up at the start of the game to tell you how it made its trees and what powers its physics engine and other things they know you don t and never will care about.
Mob: A single enemy. It made sense at the time.
MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. A magic incantation guaranteed to summon hordes of angry MOBA players demanding you not call them MOBAs. See Lane-pusher.
Mouselook: A way of using the mouse to scan the environment while moving and shooting that seems like the easiest thing in the world until you watch your parents try and do it.
Multiple endings: Something to watch on YouTube after finishing a game once.
MMORPG: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. A genre that began as an exciting glimpse into a world where everyone could play together in fantasy kingdoms, before being completely swallowed up by Personal Quest design and ironically becoming one of the most actively antisocial genres and one of the hardest to play with your friends.
Myst: Gaming s most ironic hit.
Nerf: Your favourite character/weapon sucks now, while everyone else s remains OP.
Noob: The most accursed type of human, all others emerging from the womb able to pull off advanced Dota 2 strats while rocket-jumping in another game at the same time.
NPC: A non-player character. Often has a missing dog or cow you need to find; sometimes sells you things.
NVIDIA: The way it s meant to be played. Unless AMD paid for their logo at the start of the game instead. Then that.
Open-world: Most games trap you in a small box. These games offer a much bigger box.
Overpowered (OP): Thing that just killed you. See nerf.
Permadeath: One life, one chance. Also a really bad haircut.
Persistent World: The game goes on whether you re there to do things or not, though probably doesn t actually change all that much unless you re gone for years.
Pixelbitching: Having to sweep the screen in search of the one hidden or obscure item that will allow progress, from the Where s Waldo Game Design School of Fuck You.*
Port: A chance to play a game made for the consoles that performs about as well as trying to play it on the previous generation s hardware. If you re really lucky.
Procedural generation: The art of creating game worlds, items, and more using algorithms instead of handcrafting. The promise is that this will create games you can replay forever, though finding guns with 0.5% faster reload speed gets old long before forever.
PvE: Player vs. environment, where players team up against enemies rather than each other; trying to overflow landfills with empty bottles of Mountain Dew.
PvP: Player vs. player. A staple of action games, and every forum/comment thread.
Quest: A word that began as a suitable descriptor of epic tales of action and adventure, but quickly became the polite way of saying Shit To Do . Slay a dragon to save a kingdom? Quest. Kill 10 rats? Quest.
Quick time event: An innovation in games that helped developers offer exciting, thrilling battles filled with action, which nobody is watching because they re too busy looking out for button prompts and flashing arrows. Named for the quick time in which they stopped actually being an event, and for being about as interactive as the average .mov.
*Not a real school. Tyler feels bad for editing an a sweary bit into Richard's entry.
Replay value: A thing no game ever has as much of as it claims to.
Real-time strategy: A genre in which the goal is to build refineries very quickly.
Retrogaming: Going back to play games, usually from childhood, and then realising the controls are rubbish.
Rocket-jumping: A one-time Quake physics glitch turned standard gaming leap really far technique. Unlikely to work on a real battlefield, but has anyone actually tried?
Roguelike: A game that probably has nothing much to do with the original Rogue anymore, save permadeath, randomisation, and a difficulty measured in giga-aaarghs.
Romance: A heartfelt series of interactions where two lost souls find each other by means of one checking an FAQ to see what they want and giving them twelve of them.
RPG: Role-Playing Game. A genre that lets you explore fantastical worlds of pure imagination, which almost inevitably turn out to be a bit like a Rennaisance Fayre with set character archetypes and big spiders. Sometimes take place in space instead.
Simulator: A joke game. Formerly a simulation of something that people might actually want to simulate, like flying, or running a theme park.
Season pass: In which a publisher that s convinced you to gamble on their new game being good gets you to double-down by agreeing you ll definitely want more of it afterwards.
SLI: Scalable Link Interface. An NVIDIA technology for combining the power of two graphics cards. Finally at the point where it no longer feels like punishment for being tight-fisted.
Sliding block puzzle: A declaration of creative bankrupcy from a developer, and permission to hit them in the face with a banana-cream pie at the next available opportunity.
Speed-run: The art of using in-depth knowledge of games and glitches to break them over an expert s knee and finish them faster than you can say Good grief, the final level alrea- Sometimes assisted by tools and scripts, other times mastered by players for whom hitting a button at the correct eighth of a second is no big deal.
Stealth mission: Frustrating exercise where you know you could just take out everyone in your way, much like you have in every single encounter up to this point and after, but aren t allowed to because Reasons.
Strategy: Big-picture decisions; something your entire team ignores. See Tactics.
Survival Horror: A genre devoted to making you think that death could come at every minute, until that wears out, when it usually resorts to lots of jump-scares. Boo!
Tactics: Small-scale decisions, such as jumping, lying down in mid-air, landing on your stomach, and shooting someone in the head in one motion. See Strategy.
Theorycrafting: Replacing the magic of a game s world with hardcore maths and an army of people who will tolerate nothing beyond the current One True Build in their teammates.
Touchscreens: The first step to getting greasyscreens.
Twinking: Handing down high level gear to low level characters to help them along their journey, much to the envy/annoyance of others.
WASD: Conventional controls on a US/International keyboard, where W is up, A and D strafe, S goes backward, and most other keys are chosen at random.
Wallhack: A common cheat that allows one player to see enemies through walls, or sometimes shoot/attack through them without so much as a Here s JOHNNY!
Zombie: Ferrous metal which is constantly pulled toward the electromagnet you swallowed.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video, especially one at 60 frames-per-second, is worth...a lot more, that's for sure, and these are the best videos of the week.
Is Doom's BFG scientifically possible? Can we build a portal to hell on Mars? I'm guessing these aren't exactly the myths they'll try to bust, but Mythbusters is actually airing a Doom-themed episode today.
So you've probably seen the Strafe Kickstarter video, and yes, it's amazing. But how about the game? In this video, the developers walk us through some early gameplay. They're pretty funny still, and the game looks good!
Conan O'Brien wanted to do an entire episode of his show in Minecraft, but Mojang wouldn't let him, so he kind of just did it anyway.
Why would you want to play Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes like an actual snake, damned to crawl on your belly beginning to end? Because you can.
It's been three (!) years since we first told you about WesterosCraft, a project that aims to build the entirety of Game of Thrones world in Minecraft. It's still going, and it looks as impressive as you'd expect.
I keep forgetting that a new Unreal Tournament is a thing that is actually in development. The latest update from the team is a great reminder that it will look very, very shiny.
Stitch a riven world back together, assassinate jerking insects as Agent Frog 47, explore space prose and do two other mysterious things this week. If you've settled yourself down into your free games papoose—you could also use a chair, I suppose—we can begin.
The text/translation could use a good going over in this inventive, detailed indie puzzler, but I just love the idea at its heart. You're a Stitcher, or a guy with a length of hemp that can be used to bind the sundered parts of an apocalyptic world together. Hemp can be acquired from the environment, but you can only carry so much—oh and it's only so effective, at least at the start. To stitch the severed islands back together, you first have to jump to move the Earth, then hit F or K to hurriedly sew the landmasses shut. I admire the mind that came up with that detail—this is a silly and sweet take on the end of the world.
Would you look at that! I'm a sucker for games that fit entire worlds onto one screen, and Kram Keep earns my deepest respect by being a perfectly readable game too. Somehow, you can find your character and tell everything that's going in this micro Metroidvania, and that's no small feat indeed. Even if it weren't all zoomed out like, this would be a pretty good platformer, with solid physics and art and a decent level of challenge for those brave enough to dive in.
Planetoids + gravity = oooooohhhhhh, that's lovely. And this is an equation that applies to Ditto's Planeter as well. It's a sort of puzzler in which you expand a solar system by ferrying things into switchy things, but it's actually a game about jumping between gravity wells, listening to catchy music, and making friends with the colourful aliens scampering around and around their spherical homes. Ditto's great at making games that feel weighty and solid, and that's true as ever here.
Jake Clover's atmospheric space game Space Pirate Dernshous gets a successor in the form of Johnston, a game of giant, giant text boxes and stories rather than fuel conversation and blowing stuff up. Wander into wormholes, suns, stations and other phenomena in the little craft that could, while you curse Jake Clover for not adding more line breaks or, at the very least, a slightly bigger font.
You're a frog that assassinates flies—so, in other words, you're a frog. Unlike in the real world, you can't just sit on a lilypad and wait for the insects to come to you; you're instead locked into a tiny rhythm-based pixel world. (Also the flies here will kill you, if you're not careful.) As Auntie Pixelante explains here, your enemies in this world jive to a regular beat. See how many you can take out, by bashing into them before they bash into you; it's a simple but tough matter of timing.
Look at all those hunters, getting ready to fight the various beasties of Evolve as part of a coordinated group. Well, Turtle Rock have just released a new video reminding us that you don't need other people at all—you can play Evolve just fine on your own. Probably. I mean, it doesn't sound like the ideal way to play, but thanks to AI and character hotswapping, it should be feasible at any rate.
Here's a look at Evolve's "solo gameplay experience". It's two matches; the first shows the player having a go at being the monster against four AI hunters, while the second shows them taking control of the hunters, using the nifty ability to switch between characters at any point.
As with Left 4 Dead, I think it's great that you can play Evolve by yourself. I went through the campaigns of L4D and its sequel on my own before venturing into co-op; firstly to learn the layouts, and secondly to explore the environments and story at my own pace, without having to accommodate faster or slower players and kind of ruining my first playthrough. I don't imagine many people will be buying Evolve without having co-op in mind—either with friends or with strangers—but it's good that offline's still in there as an option, a fallback or a warmup.
In weirder news, Evolve has a tie-in match-3 companion app, which...yeah.
I can't think of a better fit for a philosophical puzzle game than a murderous Detroit cyborg who shoots first, shoots later, and only stops to think when he's reloading. Croteam neglected to include RoboCop in their well-received first-person puzzler at the time of its release, but that mistake has now been rectified by a modder named 'Ar2R-devil-PiNKy'. Look at that brilliant, ridiculous image up there.
The Talos Principle's RoboCop mod can be found here, which uses the model from the 2014 mobile RoboCop game that apparently existed. Deprived of his typical killing tools, renowned thinker and MRI hazard Alex Murphy has to rely on every ounce of his pulsating cyborg brain. Let's enjoy some more images of him trying to do just that.
He looks so out of his element. I love it. Thanks, Destructoid!