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Intrepid Cities: Skylines player inthoughtwelive has recreated downtown Seattle using 49,152 buildings, at which point the building limit put an end to his architectural dreams. I haven't been to Seattle this could be a replica Mombasa for all I know but Google Maps seems to corroborate things.
Starting with a template by Tanis_2589, inthoughtwelive "redid all the highways, and then eyeballed the rest using Google Earth as a reference". Traffic lights had to be forcibly disabled so as to avoid a traffic jam of apocalyptic proportions.
Accompanying the release of Blood and Wine The Witcher 3's incredible final expansion is the colossal patch 1.2. CD Projekt Red has tended its game like a loving gardener since it released a year ago, and even though this is the end, that hasn't stopped it fixing longstanding issues and adding free features for good measure.
The addition of enemy level scaling is a big one. It's optional, intended for the players who have outlevelled the native fauna through exuberant side-questing, and can be toggled at any time.
There's good news for card captors too: a new book, A Miraculous Guide to Gwent, lists the missing cards in your collection and offers hints at where to find them.
Most excitingly if you're dull like me the inventory, player, crafting and repair interfaces have been further reworked. Subcategories make inventory sorting easier, while missing reagents can now be bought straight from the crafting screen (assuming you're at a vendor, of course). Even icons have been redone to make oils, cards and decorations recognisable at a glance.
Patch note of the year: "Fixes issue whereby Geralt's clothing was not properly restored after sex scenes."
The extensive notes can be found here.
Few corporations in EVE Online will ever have a reputation like Hard Knocks Inc. More than just a group of elite soldiers, they routinely infiltrate alliances, blow up their most prized assets, and steal everything that isn't bolted down and that's just on a Monday. Their ranks are made of brigands, thieves, scammers, and all the other refuse that slowly filters out of the more upstanding corporations of EVE. But instead of falling into chaos, Hard Knocks have become a weaponized nightmare. If EVE Online is a sandbox, these are the players who like kicking down all the sandcastles. And now they've just finished building the biggest sandcastle the galaxy of New Eden has ever seen.
Last month, EVE Online released its latest update, Citadel, introducing indomitable new structures that pilots could build to better defend their space. Coming in three different sizes, these citadels are capable of dealing extreme damage against even the most coordinated invading fleet. Since Citadel's release, Hard Knocks have made EVE Online history three times. First, they built the first Fortizar-class large citadels. Then they celebrated by blowing up someone else's. And then, two weeks ago, they made history one more time when they announced the arrival of their Keepstar-class extra large citadel the biggest structure in all of EVE Online at this time.
Meet the Keepstar citadel (above), the first of its kind anywhere in New Eden. This monstrous fortress is 800,000 meters squared and is the only one in existence in EVE that we know of. It's so large that titans, the massive supercapital ships of EVE, can safely dock within its bays. Along its outer hull lies eight slots where anti-capital ship weapons are fitted, waiting to gut anything that gets too close. The crown jewel is a devastating weapon of mass destruction, one of EVE Online's "doomsday" weapons. With just the push of a button, Fort Knocks fires a beam of energy that bounces between ships, obliterating an entire armada in one fell swoop. Fort Knocks isn't just a weapon, it's practically an entire city, and it took Hard Knocks trillions of ISK (EVE's currency) and months of planning to build.
Jerzii Devil is a senior director within Hard Knocks, but he also has a long history of corporate theft under his belt. When I ask him about why Hard Knocks felt like they needed an extra large citadel, he laughs. "We absolutely don't need one, this is just a penis-waving contest here," he says. "We just decided to build one because, why not?"
He tells me that Hard Knocks' road to owning the first Keepstar citadel started all the way back in the spring of 2015 when EVE Online's developer, CCP Games, first announced it would be adding the new structures. Plans began in earnest in November of 2015 through to January of 2016, when more details on citadels were becoming public. With only months until they would be officially launched and available to the citizens of New Eden, the race to be the first was on.
"Early on we decided money wouldn't be the issue. We have all these older members, and they're all very rich," Jerzii says. But that didn't stop the alliance from hesitating to drop the 700 billion ISK required to purchase the blueprint needed to manufacture the Keepstar. For reference, EVE Online's largest battle, , cost an estimated 11 trillion ISK. For an even better reference, EVE Online's monthly subscription can be sold in-game as an item for 900 million ISK and costs $20 USD. That implies that the estimated value of the Keepstar is around $15,000.
If money wasn't a problem, however, manufacturing sure was. Being some of the biggest badasses in EVE Online had its downsides, like not welcoming pacifistic industrialists that many alliances rely on for income and wealth. For the first time in their history, Hard Knocks either needed to become the pilots that they so mercilessly slaughtered or, as Jerzii tells me, they could just find someone to do it for them. "We had to find a builder," he says. "We had a few possible people who might be able to build it for us, and eventually we got referred to this one guy. It seemed legit at first."
The arrangement was simple. Hard Knocks would pay this builder to create their Keepstar citadel for them, letting him handle the logistical nightmare of putting together EVE's equivalent of a Death Star while they stuck to what they were good at. It seemed like a good deal until a defector from the builder's group turned coat and had some interesting news for Hard Knocks. "The group he belonged to ended up imploding and we gained a few of their members. That's when we found out that his plan was to basically dick us over and lead us on while he was building his own citadel. That way he could stop us from building ours while he built his first."
Unwilling to trust anyone else, Jerzii and Hard Knocks knew that if they were going to build EVE Online's first Keepstar, they were going to need to do it themselves. They bought the Keepstar blueprint and made plans to start building. , Hard Knocks member Noobman detailed the extensive effort required to gather the construction materials necessary: "I had 18 builders with 180-200 [construction jobs] needing [blueprint copies] every 3-4 days. I had 4-5 private [blueprint copy] makers producing constantly for me as well."
Hard Knocks was becoming an industrial powerhouse.
But now they had a new problem: gathering the staggering amount of resources needed to even begin production. "It was about three months until Citadel launched at this point," Jerzii says. "We were never going to fill the kind of demand we had to build a citadel before they launch." He tells me that himself, Noobman, and others placed characters within New Eden's most popular trade hubs, aggressively buying up all the materials they could. Elsewhere, other Hard Knocks pilots had given up their murderous ways to focus on aiding in other efforts, like manufacturing, hauling resources, and other logistical tasks.
Hard Knocks began stockpiling resources and manufacturing on March 16th and by April 19th they had finally built the entirety of the components necessary for their Keepstar. On April 27th, when the Citadel update went live, Hard Knocks ferried hundreds of components and the blueprint to a station in high-security space, and began to assemble the Keepstar. Twenty days later, it was finished. But Hard Knocks now faced an even greater challenge. How the were they going to get the damn thing back home?
Hard Knocks' home system is called "Rage." This star system has no strategic or economic value. Its planets are mostly barren, its moons not abundant in valuable resources. It s the kind of place that most wouldn't think twice about revisiting, and Hard Knocks has transformed it into the closest thing EVE Online has to hell a bastion full of murderous thugs armed to the teeth and ready to tear apart any pilot that might stumble in. And even worse, no one even knows how to find Rage. In most cases, Rage finds them.
In EVE Online, each star system is connected by stargates that lead to neighboring systems, forming a vast tangle of pathways players can use to travel the galaxy of New Eden. They are strategic chokepoints, and it's not uncommon for stargates to be the center of EVE's epic battles. But around 4,000 star systems aren't connected by stargates at all. Instead, unstable wormholes stitch them together with the known universe for brief periods of time before collapsing and reopening with a brand new connection. This is where Hard Knocks calls home.
"Every day it's a new world," Jerzii Devil tells me. He describes life for a normal EVE pilot living in a region of space: "It's the same map, same enemies, same people passing through it can get pretty stagnant." In wormhole space, however, every day new connections are made and broken with any of the thousands of star systems of New Eden. And for one unlucky system, each day they wake up to find Rage on their doorstep. But right now, that unpredictable nature of Rage was a curse.
"At one point we talked about building [the Keepstar] directly in Rage," Jerzii says. "But the directors were like, no way, we're not risking putting that much money in our system." So instead they opted to build the Keepstar in the safety of high-security space where space stations couldn't be destroyed by anyone trying to stop them. Once the Keepstar was in transit, that was a different story. There was little they could do to prevent someone from blowing up one of their freighters if they were determined to do so.
The police force that patrols high-security space regions, called CONCORD, is reactionary at best. Like a real police force, their mission is to bring criminals to justice, not prevent the crimes from happening in the first place. In order to keep their Keepstar safe, Hard Knocks was going to have to plan a clever ruse when it came time to move it.
On May 17th, every pilot was hands on deck for the most important operation in Hard Knocks' history. Because the alliance had been somewhat public about their intention of building the Keepstar, they had no guarantees that spies hadn't been carefully watching them for weeks now. Operational security was at its tightest. "We didn't tell our members what they were doing, where they were going, or how they were getting there," Jerzii says. "We had to keep everything close to the chest. Only the directors could see the maps we were using."
The plan was broken down into multiple initiatives that required every pilot to be on their best game. In the system of Paara, where the Keepstar was built, four pilots were chosen to fly freighters. Three would act as decoys to lure off any ambushes while one carried the Keepstar. Between the four freighters, an escort of almost 100 Tornado battlecruisers would accompany each vessel. "If anything comes at [the freighter], it's pretty much over," Jerzii says. "So we decided we didn't want anything to come at it. If we saw anything get near it or anything that even just looks like it might be an issue, we'd just destroy it."
But that was only one half of the operation. Back in Rage, pilots were rolling wormholes like there was no tomorrow. Each wormhole connection in EVE Online degrades slowly over time, but can also be collapsed if enough mass passes through it. Using some hasty math, pilots can fly heavy ships through a wormhole repeatedly forcing it to collapse and automatically generating a new connection to a different part of New Eden. It's a brute force tactic, but if done enough times Hard Knocks stood a good chance at eventually getting a decent connection close to Paara. Meanwhile, another group of pilots were in covert-ops stealth frigates, using scanning probes to map networks of wormhole connections that might lead to a favorable route that way.
Eventually, a winding connection of wormholes was found that would lead the fleet from Paara, in high-sec, to Rage, in wormhole space. When they managed to clear high-security space without incident and enter into infinitely more dangerous wormhole space, Hard Knocks had their first unpleasant encounter.
Wrong Hole, an alliance of tough-as-nails wormhole dwellers like Hard Knocks were connected to the wormhole system they were passing through. If even one of their pilots caught wind of what Hard Knocks might be up to, the entire operation would end in disaster. Even if Wrong Hole didn't manage to destroy the freighter outright, Hard Knocks would never be able to safely set the citadel up in their system without worrying that half of the wormhole alliances were secretly waiting to get their revenge.
"We needed to get that connection gone," Jerzii says. "We had a small group of battleships start rolling the hole while a PVP fleet went to assist them in case they tried anything. We told [Wrong Hole] straight up, we have a huge fleet, just let us roll the hole, and nothing bad will happen. We didn't tell them what was going on or why, we just told them not to mess with us."
Wrong Hole took the threat seriously and stood down, but as one Hard Knocks pilot went to roll the hole one last time, it collapsed behind him. In an instant, he was stranded millions of light years from the rest of his fleet in a star system full of embarrassed and angry pilots who were just forced to kowtow to a greater threat. .
Once safely inside of Rage, the Keepstar was "anchored," a process that took 24 hours and ended with a 15 minute vulnerability window where the citadel could easily be destroyed by a determined force. While much of the fleet took a break to recharge before the 15 minute timer, a second fleet locked down the hole to make sure no one could get in.
The move operation from Paara to Rage took 12 hours of planning and execution. The next day, the Keepstar came online without issue. Hard Knocks sent a tweet to a CCP developer, who soon after to build a Keepstar in EVE Online a two month process requiring thousands of man hours, a trillion ISK, and one very nerve wracking escort mission.
When I ask Jerzii how stressful the whole situation was, he shrugs. "It went too smoothly," he complains. "I was kind of hoping for some hiccup or someone to try something."
Now that Fort Knocks is fully operational, Rage went from being a system most would avoid to one that you'd have to be insane to ever assault. I ask Jerzii why Hard Knocks would ever spend months of their time and a trillion ISK building EVE Online's most defensible structure in a system no one would ever want to visit in the first place. He laughs at me and explains it was never done to make their home more defensible. "Nobody was invading us anyway," he says. "Maybe this will make them try harder. People say we've painted a huge target on our backs, and that's exactly what we want."
Until the travel industry wises up and makes Agent 47 the official mascot for international holidays/naughty murdering, Square Enix and IO's own trailers will have to do. Once again, they've created a tourist destination that looks absolutely lovely, and ripe for exploration, if you can live with the small caveat that a conspicuous bald man might murder you and steal your clothes at some point during your stay.
The latest trailer for Hitman's Marrakesh-set episode ditches Agent 47 to focus squarely on that environment, implementing a fancy 360-degree camera that we can swivel about to admire it in all its beauty.
Hitman: Episode 3 is out tomorrow you can read all about it here.
This week on the Mod Roundup, we've got a mod that lets you play as the adorable and determined Kerbal race from Kerbal Space Program in Stellaris. There's also a mod that lets you camp anywhere you like in Fallout 4, then turn your campsite into a full working settlement. Finally, a mod for Skyrim changes the prison system to work like it did in Oblivion, makes your pet dog more like Fallout 4's Dogmeat (now it, too, can fetch items), and makes a host of other interesting changes.
Here are the most promising mods we've seen this week.
If you're a fan of space games, you probably enjoy both Kerbal Space Program and Stellaris. Now you can smoosh them together with this mod by Knucky333, which imports the Kerbol solar system into the space strategy game. The planet Kerbin and its Mun, and of course its adorably green and brainy residents, are now yours to play with.
Don't settle for Fallout 4's standard settlements: make your own wherever you want. This mod by Chesko (creator of Skyrim's Frostfall mod) lets you plunk a campsite down wherever you want, and if you enjoy the location, you can turn it into a full-blown settlement. You can build ten new settlements in all, and if you change your mind about some or all of them, you also have to option to dismantle them.
This Skyrim mod, by Sagittarius22, makes a number of changes. Perhaps most welcome is that your pet dog is now more useful, able to fetch items like Fallout 4's Dogmeat. That's just the beginning though, as the mod also changes Skyrim's prison system to ape Oblivion's (a long prison stay will erode some of your stats), requires you to own crafting tools if you want to create weapons or potions, lets you loot paralyzed NPCs, introduces blood poisoning if you drink too many potions, and tons of other changes you can read about here.
We recently came up with seven ways that Doom could be more metal. I present you now with an eighth: Doom for Doom, or as the cool kids like to call it, D4D, a mod that brings the weapons of n -Doom into the 1993 original.
It's still very much a work in progress only the pistol and shotgun alt-fires have been implemented at this point but even at this early stage it looks pretty fantastic. Co-creator DBThanatos said on the ZDoom forums that he tried to respect the firing times of Doom 4, but also balance them to Doom, which makes the weapons feel even faster than the normally are.
Beyond the weapons, he said he wants to upgrade the gore not BD [Brutal Doom] levels of gore, but enough to satisfy my needs and may opt for something like dual shotguns in lieu of alt-fires. If there's enough call for it (and right now there seems to be), he may also release a weapons only version that doesn't make any other changes.
A second, slightly newer trailer, demonstrates the D4D pistol and machine gun in greater detail. The mod isn't out yet, but will be soon...ish.
CD Projekt has released the patch notes for the coming 1.20 update to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which makes a number of improvements and fixes to the game, including one that will be a big boon for Gwent card collectors: A new book called A Miraculous Guide to Gwent, which displays the number of cards missing form your base-game deck, and information on where to get them. New players can get the book from the Gwent scholar in the prologue, while those of you already deep into the action can pick it up from the merchant near St. Gregory's Bridge in the Gildorf district of Novigrad.
Other big changes include the addition of optional enemy upscaling, which will make low-level enemies more challenging (but won't affect experience points, loot, or quest rewards), and an increase in the incidence of certain monster-based ingredients required for high-level alchemy. The inventory and journal have been improved to make them easier to use, automatic drawing and sheathing of swords can be disabled, and this is a big one there will be a fix for a bug "whereby Geralt's clothing was not properly restored after sex scenes.
There are quite a lot of other fixes and tweaks, most of them for the base game but some specific to the Hearts of Stone expansion. A rollout date wasn't announced, but CD Projekt Community Lead Marcin Momot said on Twitter that it will be out after this weekend, but shortly before the Blood and Wine expansion goes live on May 31, and Tom Senior's review says that it's very good indeed. Full patch notes can be found here, and the relevant discussion of the update on the CD Projekt forums is here.
It's a quiet weekend overall as many pro scenes enter a lull following a long month of dramatic Spring championships. That doesn't mean that you've got nothing to watch, however: on the contrary, there's no better way to cap off a week of Overwatch than with the game's first competitive LAN. If that's not your speed, the Capcom Pro Tour is hitting no less than three cities over the next two days, and there's still Dota 2 and Smite to be watched. Enjoy!
Dota 2: The Summit 5 Qualifiers
Playoffs are still a few months away, but this weekend will see a handful of matches played in the European and South East Asian qualifiers. There are games at 11:00 BST/03:00 PDT and at 16:00 BST/08:00 PDT on Saturday that'll be streamed on the . Afterwards, you can also catch Virtus.pro and Danish Bears in the StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 2 qualifiers at 19:00 BST/11:00 PDT (.)
Overwatch: TaKeOver LAN
The first Overwatch LAN is being hosted by TaKeTV, better known for StarCraft's HomeStory Cup. It's a relatively small and chilled-out event with a modest $5,000 prize pool. This is a chance to get a sense of the developing Overwatch pro scene in Europe. Play began today and continues starting at 11:00 BST/03:00 PDT on both Saturday and Sunday. .
Smite: Spring Split Week 9
As the Smite scene regroups after the you can expect that, at the very least, the rest of the week's games will last longer than a minute and a half. You can find top-tier play in Europe and North America starting at 18:00 BST/10:00 PDT on both Saturday and Sunday. As ever, you can watch the games on .
Street Fighter V: Combo Breaker and FFM-Rumble
There are several stops on the Capcom Pro Tour this weekend, including in Chicago, in Frankfurt, and in Tijuana. This means you're rather spoiled for choice when it comes to competitive fighting games, but Capcom promise a 'surprise' at Combo Breaker that might well prove to be a reveal of the next DLC character for SFV. If you're unsure which one to watch, then Combo Breaker is recommended for that reason. Find the schedule and stream information .
The intimidating Pillars arena will be joining Rocket League's Rocket Labs playlist in the June update. I'm desperately trying to think of a way to describe it without just repeating the word 'pillars'.
Two triangular columns (nailed it) split the field into three, with a clear central lane linking the two goals. This is the point where you start wishing you'd practised those wall shots some more.
As Psyonix has it, "banking shots off the tall columns in the middle of the arena makes for some incredible moments and driving up the walls and flying down on the competition feels just right."
There's no mention of how it feels to accidentally ramp off a corner and land on your roof.
It can be hard to keep track of all the free-to-play digital card games popping up lately, but SolForge is one of the longest running options out there. After nearly three years in Early Access, it will be hitting 1.0 and going into full launch next Tuesday, May 31. The official release will come with a completely revamped UI, a ranked ladder mode, new cards, and a whole lot more changes.
I spoke to Justin Gary, CEO of developer Stone Blade Entertainment, about what those changes mean for SolForge and what s coming most notably in my mind, the new UI, which Gary tells me they ve rebuilt the whole thing from the ground up. The last time I played played SolForge I had a lot of fun with it, but the game definitely looked and felt like something still in Early Access. And Gary knew it, saying before the update you enjoyed the game in spite of the experience you had to have to play it. The new UI has clearer animations, a log of what s happened, a new turn timer, and many more subtle adjustments.
The addition of ranked play is also a huge improvement, and Gary says it s been one of our most requested features. Previously, to play competitively you had to enter a tournament through SolForge s built-in tournament creator. While most digital card games don t have tournament support at all, Stone Blade chose to put that in first and a ranked ladder later. I came from a Magic [The Gathering] background, and as a Magic pro player and co-designing the game with Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic, we came at [SolForge] with that paradigm, Gary explained, which is you can play with your friends or against other people, or you can play in tournaments if you want to be serious.
While that makes sense for a paper CCG, it s not really what you would expect from an online competitive game. A ranked ladder has become the de facto way to play PvP games seriously across most genres, to the point where was pretty surprising. To many, adding a ranked ladder to SolForge will be a final step in making it a complete game, which is one of the reasons Stone Blade wanted to include it at launch.
Gary told me that SolForge has been in development for about five years, raising funding on Kickstarter back in 2012, but that with games like this, you re never really done. The beta label was mainly used for so long to make it clear that there were still big features missing, but developement isn t going to suddenly grind to a halt when the game leaves early access.
SolForge has already received six card expansions, with a seventh to be added on launch. What s more, the pace may quicken now that other features like the new UI and ranked play are done. We thought this [UI] rebuild would take six months, and it s taken a year, Gary said, so that means we haven t had new card content in those six months. Because of that delay, the next set of cards has been in testing longer than any other set they ve made, waiting for launch day to arrive.
It seems crazy to try and compete as a digital card game in a world where Hearthstone reigns so supreme, but Gary firmly believes that its rampant success is actually beneficial to the entire card game community, despite presenting a goliath-like competitor. It s a huge undertaking. We re competing against people like Blizzard, who has hundreds of millions of dollars to throw at this and hugely experienced teams, Gary said. And us, it s like five guys in my living room. We re trying to make it work. But he doesn t have dreams toppling Blizzard to the ground. Are we going to be as big as Hearthstone? Probably not, but that s not my goal. My goal is to make a great game that people love.
SolForge's focus on tournament play, its unique game mechanics, and the ability to share cards make it stand out in the digital card game space, and the cleaner, more satisfying UI has convinced me to give it another try come launch next Tuesday. If nothing else, news of its launch just continues to reiterate that it s a great time to get into CCGs on PC. You can right now.
Update: The Article originally said the developer of SolForge was Stoneblade Studios, not Stone Blade Entertainment. This has been corrected.