Shacknews - Shack Staff

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Shacknews - Shack Staff

Andrew and Joe caught up with Adam Bromell (eonix) at PAX East to talk about Astroneer. You know it, you love it, so watch some more gorgeous footage of Astroneer!

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Hungry for more Shacknews Astroneer content? Check out our GDC 2016 interview with Adam here.

Shacknews - John Keefer

It looks like more leakage in the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare marketing ship, as it appears that a promotional image for the game has emerged from a Canadian retailer showing the game name, release date and the special edition coming up. Oh, yeah, and that special Call of Duty Remastered game people were somewhat interested in.

The image, which is for the PlayStation 4 version, lists the release date as November 4 for a retail price of $79.99. The Legacy Edition for $109.99 will offer the Standard Edition as well as Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered. The ad reports that the remastered edition will only have 10 of the original game's multiplayer maps, not the whole selection. 

On top of this little marketing leak, which still isn't confirmed by Activision despite our repeated requests, CharlieINTEL is reporting that the new Call of Duty is being teased in the Black Ops 3 Nuk3town map showing a futuristic spaceship blowing up the landscape and revealing a new logo: 

This supports what we have heard previously that developer Infinity Ward is taking the game in more of a futuristic direction.

With all of this info coming rather quickly, it wouldn't surprise me if Activision has some sort of official announcement very soon.

Shacknews - John Keefer

You gotta love teasers for teasers. And we report on those teasers for teasers. So here's a Battlefield teaser that teases an event on May 6 where DICE will tease what's happening in Battlefield 5. Are you with me?

We will attend said event, which will be at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT, and give us some much needed details on where the franchise will be heading. At least as much info as they will let us release with embargos. And they of course will want to save more info for EA Play, which will be at E3, but not at E3.

According to the press release, "Get insight into the minds of the developers as you hear from the Creative Director Lars Gustavsson and Lead Producer Aleksander Grondal on the past, present and the future of Battlefield. You will be able to join in the conversation as we open the floor to questions." There will also be info at that time on the game's official Twitch channel.

Be sure to follow the event page for more teases ... er, details.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Now we've got a tale to tell you of the ones from long ago.

The Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods has 134 new cards to collect, but none of them have quite gotten attention and fan chatter like Yogg-Saron. The Legendary card is one of only four Old Gods, and his random effects make him by far the most unpredictable. With special access from Blizzard's Team 5, we can reveal unused Yogg-Saron card concepts and design insights straight from designers Mike Donais and Peter Whalen. 


The story of Yogg-Saron's development actually begins as a broader picture, with the development of the Old Gods as a family of cards. The initial concept was actually to have each card impact one of the core pillars of the game, and to take effect immediately when the game started. C'Thun would replace your entire deck, N'Zoth had an impact over your minions, Y'Shaarj replaced your Hero Power, and Yogg-Saron gave you extra Mana crystals. It worked well thematically, but it was limiting from a design perspective.

"We hit on the cultist ritual mechanic that we wanted to do for C'Thun, and at that point we started moving away from that symmetry where all of the Old Gods affected you at the start of the game," Whalen said. "And once we broke with that symmetry a little bit it made more sense to find the most fun designs for each of the Old Gods rather than try to tie them together into that mold."

Instead, the focus of the Old Gods designs shifted from having a singular theme, to a broader idea of what Donais called "blow-your-mind" effects. And some of the rejected designs, while they didn't work for a variety of reasons, were truly mind-blowing.

Design Notes: This is the first version of Yogg-Saron that we have a record of. We wanted the old gods to blow your mind when you saw them. We tried some crazy versions that had effects if they started the game in your deck. This one is a mixed blessing, your turns are really short, which can be exciting if you opt into it. As a bonus, once it’s in play, all your spells are 1 mana which can cause some crazy turns.

Despite this effect being limited to only when it's on the board, this effect was simply too powerful. Mike Donais said some combinations were "absolutely ridiculous," and as a result it didn't take long to change this design into something a little more reasonable. In particular, he said, playtesters would use Mage decks with Pyroblast and Arcane Intellect to deal massive damage and keep their hands full for more burn spells. As long as they could keep Yogg-Sarron on the board for a turn, it was essentially a guaranteed win. However, the shortened turn timer was one idea that the team would circle back to before development was finalized.

Design Notes: Playing these games had a weird feeling where one player felt like an adventure boss and the other felt like they were playing normal Hearthstone. It seemed like it was possible to make it fair, but the games didn’t feel particularly good, so we moved in a different direction.

This design would cap you at four mana, but you'd start with an important advantage. The result was a unique game style built around early leads and a "snowball" effect, but it ultimately wasn't very enjoyable for either player, for very different reasons. 

"If your opponent got to 6 crystals and could stabilize, they won, and otherwise you could just kill them with 5/4s," Whalen said. "It really felt like playing an A.I. where it feels good when you win but really bad when you lose. And it felt kind of boring for the guy who had just 4 mana crystals. Just, 'I'm going to do this thing.'" 

There wasn't much flexibility on the side of the player with Yogg-Saron, since the deck would be built with as many four-drops as possible, along with a handful of 1- and 2-Mana cards so you could play multiples on one turn. Your opponent's best hope was to "get lucky and stabilize with AOE." And while it wasn't necessarily unfair to the opponent, it certainly felt that way. That sensation was more important than the statistics.

"More than just the power level, it was the feel," Donais said. "Even if his winrate ended up being 50%, the times you lost to it felt really bad."

The team says they also attempted this with one less Mana crystal, so you would be capped at three, but it still didn't work.

Design Notes: We decided to try the 15 seconds per turn version again because it was exciting to play. People who liked the gameplay would include it in their decks even if it wasn't powerful. Some people didn't like being rushed and would avoid playing it.

This effect, which is essentially a one-sided Nozdormu, had lots of flavor going for it. Whalen even said that if they'd gone with the design, they would have liked to have some special animation to announce its presence. 

"We'd do some cool effects where he popped out of your deck, ate your mind, and popped back in," he said, "to announce to both players that something crazy happened."

As a trade-off for your short turn timer, you would have access to a 5-Mana 10/10, the largest Mana-to-stats ratio in the game to date. It was a Legendary built around calculated risk, and Donais said it was best for the player who tended to take quick turns anyway. However, it ran into technical limitations. 

"We had some problems with that, because the phone interface is a bit slower, and also if you had just a minor lag on your Internet service or if some cards don't interact perfectly," Donais said. "We'd have to really engineer turn timers so they were perfect. We didn't have the resources to do that and weren't sure it would be worth doing the card even if we had that."

Design Notes: We wanted to move the Old Gods to be more build-around, so we sat down and redesigned almost all of them. This one was the crazy spell build-around. People were very excited about it, but it turned out to be very, very dangerous.

This design was very close to the finalized one, but rather than cast a set of random spells, it would recast all of the ones you already had. The exploits were plentiful. The team said they simply found too many one-turn kill decks.

Blizzard cited a Druid deck with Bite and Claw, so you'd immediately build up a lot of armor and attack value at once. A Warrior deck used Charge with Blood Warriors, so you could get extra copies of Yogg-Saron and give him Charge as well. The Rogue could exploit Assassinate and Headcrack, but the bigger risk was to sap all the interactivity from the game.

"Infinite Yogg Saron," Whalen said. "It turns out if you play him and you cast Vanish that game, really, nobody gets to play Hearthstone anymore. You don't always win those games but they're not that fun."

Design Notes: Here is the design we finally arrived at and tentatively all liked. One last change after a lot of testing was removing 2 from his Health. He was pretty strong, we wanted to make him a touch weaker while still feeling large enough to be Yogg-Saron. We couldn't change any numbers in his Battlecry, and we liked all the gods costing 10, so Attack and Health were the only things we wanted to change at this point.

The near-finalized design had him as a 7/7, requiring only a minor tweak. Donais said reduction to five health made him "a little less reliable" so he wasn't simply an auto-include in spell-based decks. Even then, though, the engineering team had a task ahead of them. The randomness, and the need for Yogg-Saron to interact with every spell in the game, required a lot of meticulous testing. Ben Brode recently said on a stream that Yogg-Saron took the longest to program, and Donais and Whalen agreed. 

"Some of the spells on the back-end needed a little massaging to make it work in this crazy context being cast alongside other things," Whalen said. "Also the cards involving choosing had some difficulties because Yogg-Saron made the choice for you, like Tracking for example, or the Druid choice cards. That required a bit of additional work too. Secrets uses a slightly different code path than everything else so it took a little extra as well. The engineers needed to go through basically every card and make sure it worked right."

The result is a random effect that may not make its way into competitive tournament decks, but has made for some of the best replay and highlight videos of the expansion so far. Even in Blizzard's own reveal stream, Yogg-Saron impacted the board in unexpected ways leading to a dramatic finish. 

"One of the important things [for Old Gods] was you had to build your deck a certain way to take advantage of them," Whalen said. "We tried a bunch of different big payoffs for what Yogg-Saron does. The super-consistent Yogg-Saron variants caused you to kill your opponent that turn or create such an overwhelming advantage that it wasn't that much fun. So we ended up tweaking it for this random version, which ended up being a lot of fun and much healthier for the game than creating a bunch of one-turn kills."

Shacknews - John Keefer

Bohemia Interactive's Arma 3 continues to have a dedicated following long after its launch in 2012. The tactical shooter has been getting regular updates, including a 3D Scenario Editor earlier this year. Now, the company has released a community guide describing the ins and outs of recon, featuring Shack Chatty's own Andrew "Dslyecxi" Gluck of Shack Tactical.

"The new video explores what to look out for when scanning the terrain, as well as the various methods of 'recon' in Arma 3, ranging from infantry using binoculars and magnified scopes, to helicopters with magnified sensor suites, and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV)," according to the press release.

Of course, Dslyecxi has been into Arma and creating guides for some time. Bohemia was so impressed with his work that they hired him as designer for two years before he left In 2014, Around the time that he departed, he created a guide on air assault. There is a complete Community Guide playlist on Arma 3 YouTube channel.

If you play Arma and don't know about Shack Tactical, aka ShackTac, then you might want to check out the Community Spotlight we did on the group a few years back.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Well, that was abrupt. 

Less than a week after launching the BLACKROOM Kickstarter touting the return of old-school FPS game play, it appears John Romero and Adrian Carmack have decided to cancel this crowdfunding attempt so that they can get a demo ready to show off the game. The project had already received more than $130,000 of its goal of $700,000 when it was canceled.

Apparently, many fans were asking for a demo, and according to the Kickstarter site, the developers decided to oblige.

"We decided to complete the game play demo and relaunch with that. It was the right thing to do by the game," Romero Games Design Director Brenda Romero said. "Alternatively, we could have asked the team to finish it before the KS ended, but that would have been 80-hour weeks, and we just don't do that."

The reason for the given to backers offered a few more details.

"The team is at work on a demo which demonstrates the kind of gameplay, look and innovative, cool features that make BLACKROOM truly unique — the things we’ve waited years to put into an FPS and which make us incredibly excited about this game," the team said on the site. "There’s a hitch here, a hitch that’s making us do something that’s right for the game, the team, and the community: we’re pressing “PAUSE” on the fundraising campaign for BLACKROOM to complete this gameplay demo. Simply put, this will take more time than the Kickstarter has left, so we’ve decided to suspend the campaign and launch a new one when the gameplay demo is ready. We believe, however, it is the right choice. We know you do, too. Thanks to your feedback, we know we should have included it at launch."

The demo is expected to be ready in a month or two. The team has promised to honor backer achievements for the next campaign.

Romero said when the Kickstarter launched that it was time for the old-school FPS to emerge again, but many in the community were disappointed that there was nothing shown except concept art. He also released a new Doom level this week as a "warm-up" for BLACKROOM.

We'll keep following the story and update when the new Kickstarter launches again.

Shacknews - John Keefer

It looks like the Chaos Warriors are proving to be fairly popular. The race pack, which is being offered as a pre-order bonus if you grab Total War: Warhammer before its release, will now be available to those who buy the game within the first week that it comes out.

As part of the announcement,developer Creative Assembly has put together another Let's Play video, this one featuring Kholek Suneater's Chaos Warriors facing off against Ungrim Ironfist's Dwarves at High Pass. We had already ssen team Chaos face off against The Empire, but this time we see Dragon Ogre and Shaggoth units, to go with the usual array of cavalry and ground units. The battle is fought uphill, and actually makes for a fairly interesting battle to watch.

The game is slated for release on May 24 on PC. It was originally supposed to have come out yesterday. Creative Assembly has already detailed some of its plans for post-launch free DLC and paid content.

Shacknews - Brittany Vincent

Mass Effect fans looking to experience BioWare's sprawling universe have a chance to do so in real life now. Mass Effect: New Earth 4D is opening at California's Great America in Santa Clara on my birthday (May 18) and I don't get to go. So who cares? Just kidding.

We've already known about the ride for some time now, and riders will be given 3D glasses, follow along with a live actor, and utilize motion seats for a "4D experience." It's just like all those theater rides you've probably been on before at any one theme park. But it still sounds like a pretty awesome experience, and I definitely want to give it a try. Just the photo teaser alone posted on Twitter has me salivating for anything ahead of Mass Effect Andromeda's eventual early 2017 launch.

So who's up for a trip to Cali this coming month?

Shacknews - Brittany Vincent

May is almost here, and so is the upcoming Warcraft film. There's a brand new snippet out now if you're salivating over the movie's eventual release. It goes behind the scenes of The Lion's Pride Inn, showing off some of the easter eggs and other fascinating iniquities you'll see as a WoW fan in the movie.

The video below features Rob Kazinsky, who plays Orgrim Doomhammer in the film. You won't recognize him given all the special effects for the film (surprisingly powerful and impressive ones, at that) but you'll at least look back on this quick little snippet and remember what he looked like without Industrial Light and Magic's merged photos and scans.

If you're a big Warcraft fan, there's likely something you can find to appreciate about the movie, which doesn't look absolutely terrible, but hey -- the jury's still out on it. We'll see what happens before we pass judgment!

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