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After almost 17 years, Homeworld: Cataclysm is back from the dead. With the source code long thought to be lost, developer Gearbox Software and digital distributor GOG have rereleased the game under a new name, Homeworld: Emergence.
Homeworld: Cataclysm was originally supposed to be an expansion for Relic Entertainment's original, highly acclaimed space based RTS Homeworld in1999. But the game, being developed by Barking Dog, evolved into its own standalone title. When Gearbox obtained the IP to the franchise from the THQ bankruptcy fire sale, it promised to remaster the series and treat it with the love and care it deserved.
Homeworld 1 and 2 were remastered and released in 2015, but Cataclysm was thought to be gone because of missing source code. However, GOG explained to Kotaku that its “technology allows us to take classic games and make them playable on modern machines without requiring the source code. We worked closely with Gearbox Software on making sure the game stayed true to the original, based on the builds that we have in-house.”
With that problem solved, another emerged. Cataclysm had been trademarked by Blizzard in 2009 for an upcoming expansion to World of Warcraft, and Gearbox was forced to try to find a way around the legal issues. The result was the new name.
Homeworld: Emergence is on sale for an introductory price of $8.99. A package with the Homeworld Remastered Collection and the Deserts of Kharak expansion is on sale for $37.87 for a limited time, and massive savings over the normal price of $94.97. If you enjoyed the remastered games, but missed Cataclysm, you can finally give it a whirl again.
This week on Shack's Arcade Corner, we take a look at the1980 space shooter Radar Scope. Produced and developed by Nintendo, the cabinet drew a lot of comparisons to Galaxian, but the graphics and gameplay definitely were unique. Players had a damage meter as opposed to the one shot deaths of Galaxian and Galaga. Radar Scope was the first game that Super Mario Bros. creator helped develop for Nintendo. The arcade cabinet was successful in Japan, but didn't meet Nintendo's expectations in the United States. Luckily, the cabinets were easily convertible to Donkey Kong and the rest is video game history. Please take a look at this video to find out more about Radar Scope.
In case you missed any of the over 100 episodes, check out our Shack's Arcade Corner YouTube Playlist.
Quake turns 21 today, and as a site originally founded a Quakeholio, it is only fitting that we celebrate the game's greatness each year.
The game, created by Doom developer id Software and released on June 22, 1996, was a spiritual successor to Doom and its ilk. Although, it originally started as a medieval first-person game and not a shooter, it evolved into its released form where Ranger must fight off waves of death squads sent by Quake to test humanity. He eventually enters the Slipgate, collecting four dimensional runes, and stops the invasion of Earth.
The game proved to be so popular that it spawned numerous ports, including Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn, and mods. The game also spawned two expansions and several special releases from id, including VQuake, QuakeWorld, GLQuake, and WinQuake. It was followed up by three sequels, including the popular Quake 3 Arena. And let's not forget the great soundtrack by industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails, with the band's front man Trent Reznor, voicing the character of Ranger. There was something poetic about Ranger carrying around a nailgun.
The game also created a massive multiplayer community, with pro players picking up the pace of the game to crazy heights and opening up a world of tournaments where players could actually start making a living from playing games. Names like Remedy, RiX and ZeRo4 became legends in the early days of Quake tournaments, with ZeRo4 (aka John Hill) making such an impression that he landed a job with id as the developer's eSports manager early this year.
A convention to celebrate all things Quake was originally dubbed #quakecon after the IRC channel players would congregate on. QuakeCon is also celebrating its 21st year, and will be held this year in Grapevine, Texas, on August 24-27. It has expanded since id's acquisition by Bethesda, but still holds true to its FPS identity with regular tournaments based on id games.
Last year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series, id announced Quake Champions, going back to the game's fast-paced roots of frenetic shooter with wild exotic weapons. Paying homage to its roots, one of the champions is aptly named Ranger. Quake Champions is currently in beta and will have its first pro championship tournament at this year's QuakeCon.
So happy birthday, Quake! Thanks for all the fun, the memories, and the website idea. We couldn't have done it without you.
Electronic Arts doesn't seem to have much faith in its Titanfall franchise any more, which is a shame for developer Respawn Entertainment. While several games got prominent play at EA Play's 2017 press conference, not a word was uttered about the popular mech game, despite the fact that a new free DLC pack was on the horizon and more are planned. It's as if EA sees Titanfall franchise as a titanic bust and is deliberately treating the critically acclaimed sequel as robota non grata.
Respawn appeared to be doing everything right for the sequel, at least in the eyes of fans. It was now offering a single-player campaign and the game was coming to PS4 as well this time instead of just PC and Xbox One. It was even revealed that all content after launch would be free. Things looked promising.
Right before E3 and EA Play last year, however, EA took the wraps off Battlefield 1, the next installment in EA's pride-and-joy franchise. It gave it an October 21 launch date, which fit comfortably into the holiday season. But the first inkling of a problem showed up a few weeks later when EA's Blake Jorgensen made an off-the-cuff comment at a financial seminar that Titanfall 2 would be coming within three weeks of Battlefield 1.
The problem was immediately apparent to some: it isn't good for competing franchises with similar audiences to come so close to each other, much less from the same publisher. Consumers with limited incomes have to decide which to buy, and pitting them against each other ran the risk of making one a loser of that bout.
EA's intentions seemed to become even more clear when the official launch date was revealed to be October 28, one week after BF1. To make matters worse, that date was sandwiched in between BF1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Activision's futuristic take on its flagship franchise, which had previously been pegged to a November 4 launch. The reasoning was never made clear as to why EA execs chose that date, but Titanfall 2 producer Drew McCoy said the date "was locked in a long time ago and there was no changing it."
Despite the back-to-back releases, EA publicly felt that Titanfall 2 would do strong sales because of its multiplatform offerings, but by the time the game launched, analysts were already predicting poor sales. "We suspect EA believed that by launching two shooters next to Call of Duty it could put a large dent in its biggest competitor, but instead EA appears to have wound up shooting its own foot off," one analyst said.
Less than three weeks after launch, and ahead of Black Friday sales, Walmart had already dropped the price of the game in half to $30. But EA continued to be unwavering in its launch timing decision. "It's not about the first day of sales or the first week of sales, it's about the long run," Jorgensen said at a business conference.
Respawn CEO Vince Zampella tried to put a brave face on the situation, saying the game was a "huge success" with critics. Indeed, it scored well in its Shacknews review and made our list of top 10 games for 2016. He said Respawn wanted to tell more of the story behind the game, but wouldn't commit to a Titanfall 3, turning instead to the EA rep in the room for some reinforcement. "What we've said is we're committed to the franchise," EA rep Devin Bennett said at the time. "Whatever the f*ck that means." Zampella responded in obvious frustration.
Despite any public push from EA, Respawn has continued to push out its free updates as promised. Since launch, the game has had five pieces of DLC, and currently has more than a million active players each month. And more DLC is still in the works for the coming months. In all, more than 20 million players have tried Titanfall or Titanfall 2. With numbers like that, you would expect EA blast out a press release. Instead, those numbers were confined to the latest update in the Titanfall 2 blog.
EA Play 2017 showed off a host of games, many of them core to EA's library. However, when NBA Live 2018 gets show time, but Titanfall 2 DLC coming within two weeks can't even get a mention, it raises the question of whether the Titanfall brand has any future with the publisher. We reached out to EA to ask why Titanfall 2 was not part of the EA Play presentation, but have yet to get an official response.
Jorgensen has said in the past that Titanfall and Respawn are part of EA's plans for "many years to come," but as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Right now EA's actions are all lip service and very little actual support for the popular developer and franchise.
Overwatch is getting an overhaul to its loot box system, which should make fans who hated duplicates happy. The better news is that the changes are already live on the Public Test Realm.
Under the new system, the dev team has "drastically" reduced the chance of duplicates appearing when players open new loot boxes. Players who were annoyed with the duplicates sold them for credits, and Blizzard acknowledged that, saying it would also increase the amount of credits players get in the loot boxes. "On average, players should be earning just as many credits, if not slightly more, from loot boxes than they did prior to these changes," the team said in the PTR blog update.
Also getting an overhaul is the highlights system in the game. Now, the game will continually generate highlights based on recent play, saving up to five (dubbed as Today's Top 5) and keeping them for a 24-hour period or until the game is patched. Players will also be able to generate their own clips of up to 12 seconds, with capture ability now getting its own key bind. These are saved under a new "Recently Captured" tab in the menu. Up to 36 clips can be saved and will remain until a patch comes out. Finally, Top5 and Recently Captured footage can be exported to to the designated media library on console or a specified directory on PC.
The PTR also has a bunch of bug fixes and general changes, which are detailed at the bottom of the blog post.
Game Director Jeff Kaplan took the time to record a developer update explaining the changes, which can be seen below.
Developer Respawn continues to faithfully plug away on Titanfall 2 for its fans, despite little promotional assistance from publisher EA. A new free DLC pack called The War Games is coming on June 27, bringing some new maps, a third weapon slot for pilots, a new execution and a new mode called Free Agents.
The maps took most of the focus in a new update on the Respawn blog about the DLC. The first map is entitled appropriately War Games, offering "civilian shops, tall buildings for window-to-window fighting, and city streets for Titan combat from the Battle of Angel City, and the large, open tank garage facilities for hand-to-hand Pilot combat from the Battle of Airbase Sierra." The idea for the map is a VR simulator that Frontier pilots use to train for life-like recreations.
A new Live Fire map is also being introduced called Traffic, which is a "weathered test site where pilot positioning is pitted against mobility across two busy thoroughfares. Dense cover makes every corner a threat, with room for snipers to hide in the back fields."
Respawn promises more details as the DLC gets closer to launch, along with a full list of balance changes and bug fixes.
As suspected, the Steam Summer Sale has officially kicked off today, and as expected the site has some incredible deals on popular games. Also, as expected, the site is getting hammered, so you might have to refresh several times to see the deals.
Some of the better ones we've seen:
There are plenty more sales for today, so head over and see what specials you can get on your favorite games.
[Update: Blizzard responded to inquiries regarding drop rates. The story below has been edited to reflect this information.]
Hearthstone's next expansion will come alongside some pretty major changes to how random drops work when you open packs. The biggest change comes to Legendary cards, which will no longer give duplicates in random pack openings.
According to the announcement, Legendary drops will always select one that you don't already own. The move is meant to make it more exciting to open a Legendary, without worrying about hitting one that you've already opened or crafted. That means that once you've crafted a Legendary card, you won't open it an hour later and feeling that sting of regret. You'll also always get a Legendary within your first 10 packs when a new set comes out.
Additionally, drops won't give you any more copies of a card than you can actually use in a deck. The card limit is two for Common, Rare, and Epic cards, so you won't open three or more of any of those card types in a single pack. This happened rarely, but it was always frustrating for players to open more cards than they have any actual use for.
Blizzard confirmed to Shacknews that the drop rates for Legendaries won't change once the update goes into effect. The announcement doesn't address what happens for the rare player who already owns all the Legendary cards in a given set, but presumably they would start to get duplicates again for the dust.
The timing for the next expansion is still under wraps, but Blizzard plans to release three full-size expansions per year now. The community has expressed some unease with that frequency, since it means investing in packs that much more often to keep up. Being a little more generous with Legendary cards may address that complaint.
As a promotion, Blizzard is giving extra cards for Journey to Un'Goro pack bundles this week. You can get an extra two, five, 12, and 18 packs from the standard bundle prices. Keep in mind this is before the new changes have gone into effect, so you can still open duplicate Legendaries and three cards in a pack.
Facebook's F8 developer conference in April had a heavy emphasis on VR. That's logical given its ownership of Oculus. But that did raise the question about the status of Oculus's own developer conference and if one would happen this year. It appears the answer is yes.
Oculus Connect 4 has been confirmed for October 11-12 at the San Jose Convention Center, although not much else is known at this time. The event is a day shorter than last year, and Oculus did not have an E3 presence this year, so it is likely we will get a few splashy announcements at the event. If you want a heads up on what is coming to the show, you can sign up for updates at the official site.
Last year, we got news about Oculus Touch, as well as some of the games coming for it. We also got a look at some Oculus peripherals and companies that were partnering with Oculus to make their laptops VR ready. Then John Carmack closes with the hard-hitter that VR developers need to start challenging themselves more and not be "coasting on novelty."
Of course, leave it to Asif to address the elephant in the room...
Shacknews' live E3 coverage started to wind down on Wednesday with something a little bit different. The fine folks at Yacht Club Games were invited into the Shacknews booth for a casual conversation about E3, game development, and some of the rockier moments the team experienced in bringing Shovel Knight to life.
As the time came to wrap things up, there was still one more question to ask. What's the current status of King Knight, the third and final Shovel Knight expansion?
Sean Velasco and Nick Wozniak were both happy to offer up the expansion's current status, so here's what we know so far.
Shovel Knight was a tale of heroism. It was a gallant knight traveling across the world to save his kingdom, as well as avenge his fallen partner. Plague of Shadows told the tale of the dark alchemist Plague Knight, who wished to gain his heart's desire by collecting enough essences to create his ultimate concoction. Specter of Torment was the story of a fallen thief, forced into the servitude of a great evil. All of these stories were epic tales in their own right, so what does King Knight bring to the table?
Well, King Knight brings comic relief. Yacht Club notes that King Knight's story will carry a far lighter tone, compared to his predecessors, which will fall right in line with his character.
"It's more wacky, it's more lighthearted," said Sean Velasco. "The personality of King Knight, we really want it to come through."
Velasco and Wozniak noted that while Shovel Knight moves gallantly, Plague Knight moves sneakily, and Specter Knight moves swiftly, King Knight's movement will be a lot more "doofy." In fact, the first concept for his movement was revealed in a tweet back in June 2016.
We're creating two new Shovel Knight campaign updates! Specter is cool and King Knight rules. Here he is in action! pic.twitter.com/tkIwxcA2Xy— Yacht Club Games (@YachtClubGames) June 2, 2016
The King Knight concept might sound strange, given his defining character trait is that he's a narcissistic dandy that pretends to be royalty. He's arrogant, he's selfish, he's out for himself and his treasures. But the picture starts to get a little clearer when Velasco compares him to a far more familiar face in gaming.
"I feel like Wario is sort of similar," Velasco explained. "Wario's just like greedy, wants to make a billion dollars with his game company…"
In that vein, Velasco and Wozniak stopped short of calling King Knight a "hero." He's the campaign's main character, but there's no mistaking that this story will be all about him and his selfish goals. And like Wario, Yacht Club is aiming for enough levity to keep the story grounded and lighthearted, giving players just enough reason to root for this goofball.
After almost five years, Yacht Club Games is ready to say goodbye to the Shovel Knight world for a while. While Nintendo subtly hinted at a sequel a while ago, Shovel Knight's creators are ready to move on from the world of shovelry first.
"Battle Mode will be the last thing that we do for Shovel Knight I," Wozniak said. "And then… I don't want to bury it, but…"
"Shovel Knight on ice for a little bit," Velasco added.
So look for King Knight to not only have his own central campaign that focuses on him, but look for it to also be a story that gives all of the Shovel Knight characters a fitting tribute and sendoff.
No release date has been issued just yet, but given that King Knight was in its early stages of development as Yacht Club was also working on Specter of Torment, don't expect the wait to be too much longer. The studio is actively working on the final campaign every day and is hopeful to release it soon.