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AntharioN

Open world, turn-based, party-based RPG AntharioN is looking absolutely lovely, in an Amiga sort of way. It's an ambitious game, crowdfunded a couple of years ago, and releasing—oooh—in less than two weeks. July 15th, to be exact.

Devs Orphic Software say their game is "an epic old-school fantasy RPG that combines tactical turn-based combat with the freedom of a huge living-breathing open world. You'll create and customize a party of four: choosing from seven races, nine classes and fifteen skills, before setting out to explore the fully interactive continent of Antharion. Explore dungeons, get thrown in jail, discover hidden passageways, burglarize homes, read books, create potions, become an infamous pickpocket, embark on a journey at sea and discover uncharted islands or persuade NPCs to do your bidding".

Baldur s Gate, The Elder Scrolls, Ultima VII and Pool of Radiance are all mentioned as inspirations, but I'm getting of a bit of a Wizardry/Might & Magic feel from the following trailer (only isometric rather than first-person, obviously). The bright, cheery, mid-90s art style won't appeal to everyone, but this could be something pretty special if the team manage to fulfil their sizeable ambitions. (Thanks, Blue's News.)

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This diary was originally published back in 2007, when this site was just a cosy corner of CVG. We're republishing it here a few entries at a time, every Saturday. The other entries are here.

Tom has since switched careers to game development, and is now making a space game of his own, Heat Signature.

Day 12: The last bill and testament

I'd been trading technologies with the Altarians—despite their earlier transgressions—so that I could keep up with propulsion advances without diverting research time from developing ridiculously powerful guns. Trading tech in GalCiv doesn't lose you that technology, so you don't have to worry about the cost to you, only how much you're benefitting a potential enemy. I was doing it on the assumption that the Altarians would never be a threat—or at least that the other three threats would kill me first—so I was being fairly generous. Alliances, Fertility Acceleration, Advanced Trade, I even gave them some of the lesser weapon technologies along the tech-tree branch I was climbing.

You're probably familiar with the literary technique of foreshadowing, so you may well be expecting to hear next of my demise at the hands of a now-mighty Altarian Empire. It didn't quite happen like that. In fact, shortly after our trading was complete, they surrendered under the might of a vast Drengin assault. They were out of the game.

But surrendered under, not surrendered to. Generally when a race surrenders, a report pops up informing you that they've given some of their ships to race X, some to race Y, and often quite a few to the race that conquered them. I am never race X or Y. I'd wondered if it was even possible for the player to be the recipient of these legacies, so consistently did I fail to inherit. This time, though, I got something! Two ships.

Slightly chuffed, I went back to tending my colonies, and clicked away a warning that the citizens of my colony on Amber II were becoming restless and thinking of joining the Drengin. Let them, I don't even remember which planet that is. Hang on, I actually don't remember which planet that is. I've never heard of it. Apart from Petroni and Banfield, mine are all named things like Blood, Death and Carnage (we overcompensate for our lovable physical appearance). I zoomed out. I'd inherited two ships, and the entire Altarian empire.

Oh. My. God.

It was hemorrhaging money, full of 150 billion profoundly unhappy people, and about to be invaded by a Drengin force the likes of which I'd never seen. But it was mine. I'd been clicking through three years' worth of turns because I was so screwed that there was nothing really to do. But now, with fifty new planets' worth of problems and an empire around eight times its previous size, I had something to think about. I saved, quit, and thought about it.

Day 13: Learning fast

Okay Altarian empire, let's see what you can do. Apart from sap my money and complain. Or get invaded and lose. I mean the other stuff. Military—can you make ships? Let's see... no, no you can't. One or two planets have enough factories to pump out the odd War Bastard, but I'm researching ships a whole tier bigger than those now, and these factories are simply too low-tech to cope. Planetary structures—got any? Make any? Not really and not really. Plenty there, but again all stone-age compared to my stuff. Really, guys, was your civ built to do anything other than surrender?

Yes, it turns out. Despite the profound lack of it evidenced in their own achievements, their colonies boost my overall Research rate enormously. Wow, enormously. The thing about Research is that every planet doing it is collaborating on the same thing. Everything else is per-planet, so a ship that can't produce ships quickly by itself might as well not be producing ships. But with my entire civ in research mode, every colony with so much as a library is getting me a little closer to HD Spike Drivers; a gun bigger than any I've researched before. In fact, we'll have it cracked in... one week. A single turn.

Scrolling down the list of research possibilities, the next rung up any given tech ladder would be done in one or two weeks. Research was about the only area where we were already competitive: we were a small race devoting all our resources to it, while everyone else was a huge race using only a small fraction of their potential. Now we were huge, and using it all.

There are two ways to catch up with someone: run faster than them, or keep running after they finish. I'd planned to hole up and research until I joined the Drengin at the top of the tech-tree, some time after they reached it themselves. Once we both had Black Hole Generators, I reasoned, their huge military advantage would be undermined. But now I was actually learning faster than them too—there was a decent chance I'd beat them there. All I needed was a little time.

Day 14: The Bongolian Deathcrab

Long story short, I got it. My enormous new hivemind of supergeeks plowed through the whole tech tree in under a year, and for an encore we researched the the hardest possible hulls and Ultimate Logistics, which would let me use the superships I created in fleets.

In the time it had taken to research these components, I'd been invaded a lot. The only three remaining races in the galaxy were all at war with me, and while the Drengin still inexplicably refused to land on my planets, the Yor and the Terrans rained troops down on me. Us Spectres have 12 billion people on every planet, and our nymphomania means we recuperate losses quickly, but the scale of the onslaught was such that we still lost one or two planets. So when it came to the fun part—designing my capital-class super battleship to use all the best technology in the universe—I was angry.

The Bongolian Deathcrab, a crab-class craft.

This is how, by the end of the half-hour design process, I ended up with a ship that is too wide to fit on the screen. It is around twelve times the size of the Drengin battleships. It doesn't just have a Black Hole Generator—the most devastating transdimensional weapon conceivable—it has ten. They're spread along its one and a half thousand meter wingspan to make it even more impressive when firing, and two huge blades at either wingtip indicate very clearly that it's not something you want to crash into on a dark space-night.

I took almost as long settling on a name—most of the ones that seemed appropriate would be too obscene to mention on this site—and finally decided it would be related to the Bongolian Ultraprawn, the smallest and cheapest ship in my armada. The Bongolians do things in extremes. One day I'll actually get round to naming one of my planets Bongolia, and this will all make sense. Right now it's just an obtuse Stereolab reference.

None of my colonies had anything like the production capabilities needed to produce a Bongolian Deathcrab before the heat death of the universe, so I'd have to buy one outright. It cost 15 trillion credits. I gulped, and clicked Accept.

It was enormous, and beautiful. It crushed a few local Yor fleets, then ran into a Drengin battleship—and instantly exploded. They already had Black Hole Generators.

Day 15: "Fuck."

Fuck.

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Minecraft Story Mode

We've known that Telltale are making a Minecraft spinoff for a little while now, but until now details have been thin on the ground. We knew that it was an episodic adventure, and that it would be as "Minecrafty as possible", but would it be full of agonising choices, and 'Creeper will remember that'?

Well, Telltale and Mojang have just released a few more details at this weekend's Minecon, along with an exciting first trailer. As the description to the following YouTube video reveals, Minecraft: Story Mode "is an adventure game, by Telltale Games, set in a Minecraft world. It is a five-part episodic series that will take you to the Nether, the Farlands, the End, and beyond! You will drive how the story flows through the decisions you make: what you say to people (and how you say it), and what you choose to do in moments of thrilling action.

"Players will control protagonist Jesse throughout the season, as portrayed by actor Patton Oswalt. Jesse and his group of friends revere the legendary Order of the Stone; four adventurers who slayed an Ender Dragon. The Order is the very best at what they do: Warrior, Redstone Engineer, Griefer, and Architect. While at EnderCon, Jesse and his friends discover that something is wrong... something dreadful. Terror is unleashed, and they must set out on a journey to find The Order of the Stone if they are to save their world from oblivion".

Patton Oswalt! Minecraft: Story Mode will be available to download "soon", and [UPDATE], Cory Feldman is doing one of the voices. Also Futurama's Billy West!

PC Gamer

The Act of Aggression preorder trailer released yesterday may not be quite as informative as the faction videos we've been treated to previously, but it does carry with it one very important bit of information: a proper launch date.

Act of Aggression will go live on Steam on September 2, a date that's not actually revealed in the trailer, but in the YouTube description. Publisher Focus Home Interactive also announced that prepurchases may now be made at a 15 percent off the regular price of $45/ 35, and that gamers who lay down their money ahead of time will also be granted access to the multiplayer beta. The beta is expected to begin in mid-July, and will be updated with new content throughout the summer.

Act of Aggression was announced last year as an old-school RTS follow-up to developer Eugen Systems' Act of War and Wargame RTS franchises. It will feature resource collection, base building, and three unique, rock-paper-scissors-style factions fighting for dominance in the near future: The tough, lumbering US Army, the versatile, high-tech UNO task force Chimera, and the Cartel, "a shadowy organization gathering together political men, arms magnates, [and] military decision-makers," who secretly wield the power of numerous private military companies. The Cartel doesn't have its own swanky trailer yet, but more information about them can be had at eugensystems.com.

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If butchering zombies in creatively horrific fashions no longer gives you the same thrill it used to, Techland's upcoming "Summer With Dying Light" campaign might be just the thing to get your juices flowing again. The campaign will offer six unique, one-time-only events running over weekends in July and August, beginning on July 4 with the "Spider-Crane."

The Spider-Crane event, beginning at midnight PST and running until the same time on July 5, gives players unlimited grappling hook shots and drastically reduces fall damage, enabling some very unusual travel options through, and over, the streets of Harran. The next weekend will see the running of the Harran Marathon, details of which haven't been revealed. The remaining events haven't been announced at all, but will take place over the weekends of July 15-16, August 15-16, August 22-23, and August 29-30.

There's not much more to say about Summer With Dying Light—future events will be revealed through "official channels"—so instead, enjoy thjs Dying Light "Bug Compilation" video, posted a few days ago by tester Radek Maciag, who has sunk more than 5000 hours into the game over the past 2.5 years. As the YouTube description puts it, "Yeah, he's seen some things."

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A pair of new Sword Coast Legends gameplay videos offer an "extended look" at the game's campaign creation toolset, and illustrate how it will play from the Dungeon Master's perspective during a "real" dungeon run.

The Campaign Creation video highlights what appears to be a very flexible campaign editor. Players can create and customize dungeons with various sorts of highly-detailed detritus, place and modify merchants, quest givers, and monsters, and string together individual encounters and quests into a larger, overarching campaign. Encounters can be left at default or built entirely from scratch, as can individual monsters in dungeons, via the game's "Creature Creator."

Once complete, the campaign can be modified on the fly by the Dungeon Master. We've already seen how this system will work, but this new video is more of a "live fire exercise," as a group of four players embarks upon the adventure just built, while the DM manages the campaign separately. The nature of "threat," the resource used by DMs to modify dungeons, is clarified a bit, as are the DM's abilities: Traps cannot be dropped directly on players, for instance, and once the party enters a room, the default encounter can no longer be changed.

It looks impressive, and increasing or decreasing "threat" based on a party's success (or lack thereof) is an interesting way to go about limiting the Dungeon Master's powers. After all, it wouldn't be much fun if the DM could drop the hammer at will on a party that's been hanging on by a thread from the word "go." Sword Coast Legends comes out on September 8. 

PC Gamer

It s a goddamn Resident Evil renaissance. In recent years Resident Evil 4 has been remade for PC (it works this time!), Resident Evil 5 s Gold Edition came to Steam, the original from 1996 received another HD remaster, and next year Resident Evil Zero will arrive on PC as well. It ll be nice to have the option to replay that one without having to date someone who owns a GameCube. But happy as I am to see so many classic Evils that are Resident getting spitshined for a platform I don t have to hunt for memory cards to use, there s a part of me wishing it was Silent Hill receiving this treatment instead.

Silent Hill s beginnings owe a lot to Resident Evil. It was initially conceived by Konami as an attempt to replicate the Capcom series success outside Japan the nods to American horror like Jacob s Ladder and Stephen King s story The Mist are there because Silent Hill was intended to appeal to the US market, but they came filtered through Japanese sensibilities and were all the weirder for it. Silent Hill s surprisingly coherent mythology takes the traumatic backstories characters in American horror fiction routinely suffer from and uses them to inspire its monstrosities, grounding them in psychological suffering.

That was best demonstrated by Silent Hill 2, still a fan favorite, which was ported to PC in 2002. Having played the PS2 original and the HD remake on 360, the PC version is easily the best. It has the bonus level that lets you play as side-character Maria, missing from some versions of the original, and the ability to quicksave. You might think quicksaving would make it less frightening, but what s scary about Silent Hill 2 is its oppressive atmosphere, not the the worry you ll get killed and have to re-do a bit.

Silent Hill 2

The PC version also has better textures. You d expect the 2012 HD remake to have the best visuals, but in rolling back the town s famous fog to show off an increased draw distance it revealed some distracting failures. The lonely sequence in which you row across foggy Toluca Lake wasn t as eerie when I could see the water below was a plain white untextured expanse, and monsters weren t as frightening after I saw one spawn and fall into place as if flung from a catapult.

It s a shame then that the PC version is so hard to find nowadays. It should be right there on GOG or Steam where I can gift it to my friends, with cloud saves and modern controller support so I can re-install whenever I feel like keeping myself awake all night. But at least Silent Hill 2 got a PC release in the first place, which is more then several other highlights of the series have managed.

The original, for instance, never did. It may have clunky translation and voice acting even by the standards of Japanese games, but that only enhances the first Silent Hill s resemblance to a B-movie and its ability to surprise you once the backstory starts being revealed, like garish wallpaper flaking away to show the history of bloodstains beneath. Although re-released on PSN, that original game has never been remastered. (Meanwhile the original Resident Evil had two director s cuts, a GameCube remake, and then a PC remake of the GameCube remake—who, me, jealous?)

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

It was re-imagined though, into 2009 s Shattered Memories, the best of the series not made by the original team. Its lead designer was Sam Barlow who also created Her Story, and its first-person psychiatric interviews are an obvious resemblance—although here you re the interview subject. The rest of the game was third-person and one of few to use motion controls effectively. Though given a late-in-the-day PS2 release it was best on the Wii, where the Wiimote doubled as your torch when investigating dark places and your phone when receiving voicemail messages. (They echoed out of the controller s tiny speaker when held up to your ear, which was intensely creepy.) During chase sequences you used the motion controls to shove enemies off and yank furniture down to make obstacles behind you, while whipping yourself in the face with the cord if you re as clumsy as me.

Demos for virtual reality games like Edge Of Nowhere make me think the third-person sections of Shattered Memories would suit VR, and newer motion controls minus my old enemy, the cord would be a definite improvement. The other reason I d love to see Shattered Memories remade for VR is that it s one of the least scary Silent Hill games, and the ability VR has enhance scares might actually kill somebody if applied to something as terrifying as P.T.

Being less scary isn t a weakness, though. Shattered Memories trades the oppressive fear typical of the series for a rise-and-fall cycle of tension, pacing its chases out with areas in which you re safe. Knowing the relief you feel at each escape is temporary and the return of its shifting monsters is inevitable means Shattered Memories evokes dread rather than terror, making you worry about things that aren t there rather than surrounding you with leathery twitch-beasts forever.

Silent Hill: Downpour

Another Silent Hill we never saw on PC was 2012 s Downpour. Hardly the best in the series but also far from the worst, it transformed the town into an open world that would be at home on PC. Remove the transitions between suburbs necessitated by old hardware and you d have a seamless Silent Hill worth experiencing. Although the main storyline was goofy, Downpour was full of sidequests that surpassed it; it s basically the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion of Silent Hills. Among the highlights was a quest triggered by a Have you seen this child? poster for a missing girl. Go to her address and you find out she was autistic and her mother had set up a system of colored ribbons she could follow to and from school. Follow the ribbons across town and you ll uncover one of the most chilling stories any survival horror game has told.

We may never get to play Silent Hills, the recently canceled sequel, on any platform. Still, having access to some of the best of Silent Hill s old glories would be a consolation—and also mean I could finally get rid of all the consoles I keep just to play them on.

PC Gamer

Turmoil at reddit

You may have noticed that some of the subreddits you frequent are inaccessible at the moment. No, the site wasn't hacked, though it is turning on itself in protest of the firing of Victoria Taylor, a high ranking administrator and Director of Talent who coordinated the sometimes complicated process of reddit's Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions.

Known by the user handle /u/chooter, it appears that Taylor was fired without given notice. This prompted moderators from several other subreddits to lock things down by making them private, thereby disabling access by the Internet community at large. Considering the large amount of traffic that reddit enjoys on a daily basis, this is a big deal.

Taylor played a crucial role at reddit. While running AMA might not seem like that big of a deal, she had several responsibilities, such as booking talent, verifying that celebrities were legit, making sure that AMA guests answered questions themselves rather than handing things over to a third-party (like a PR person), and helping computer illiterate folks, both by phone and sometimes in person. It's a process, and Taylor worked behind the scenes to make sure everything went smooth.

There were rumblings that an AMA with Jesse Jackson that turned bad was the cause for her termination, but it appears that's not the case. According to TechCrunch, a deleted answer on Quora provided some insight into her dismissal.

If the answer on Quora is true, then a clash with management is what sparked this whole thing. Apparently reddit management was pushing Victoria to do a bunch of commercial things around AMAs, like adding video. Supposedly Victoria resisted certain ideas, so management decided to abruptly fire her and eliminate her position altogether.

"They really underestimated how much moderators relied on her and cared about her," the Quora answer read.

After that, all hell broke loose. It eventually led to reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian telling moderators that their message was heard loud and clear with a promise to communicate better in the future, and that it's time to turn the subforums back on.

Most reddit subforums have been made public again, such as /r/gaming and /r/technology, though some remain dark (at the time of this writing) like /r/movies. There's also a petition circulating on Change.org for reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao to step down from her position. It currently has over 22,000 signatures of the requested 25,000.

Follow Paul on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook

PC Gamer

Broforce developer Free Lives is celebrating the July 4 weekend with freedom! That is, the Freedom Update, an ultra-patriotic patch that adds a pair of new Bros, new melee attacks, and "combat flexing."

First on the ticket is The Brocketeer, a "Golden Age" bro who wears a jetpack and launches devastating dive bomb attacks in his fight for liberty. Joining him in the battle against tyranny is Broheart, a Scottish-American hero of legend whose cry of "Freedom!" scatters all who stand in his path. Both characters, and the rest of the Broforce, can deliver roundhouse kicks and "organ punches," and even dish out that most American form of justice: A chainsaw to the face! Wicked sick, bro!

And of course, we can't forget the flexing. "No assault on terror would be complete without an impressive display of the bros' raw power, so we've introduced a new 'flexing' feature," the studio wrote. "Now you and your bros can cease-fire, flex your biceps in the face of evil, and exercise your right to bear arms so thick your shirts tear in half."

The update incorporates a number of bug fixes as well, to enemies, environments, bosses, and Bros, including Ripbro, Browilliams, Bro Dredd, Mr. Anderbro, and Rambro. A "second installment" to the update, expected to live in the new few days, will also add on some new levels. Full details are up on Steam.

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