Oct 31, 2012
Poor Lydia. Her eternally pledged sword for the Dragonborn makes her nothing more than a guinea-pig for an egotistical nomad with volume problems. This time, she's blasting off into the sky once more after taking a small hot air balloon's worth of Fus Roh Dahs—aka The Only Shout That Matters—straight into her face. The resulting hilarious physics grenade comes courtesy of LilCosco08 and a usage of the "TCL" console command which toggles collision detection.
If you also feel like going back to Skyrim, our list of console commands should make your second visit memorable.
Oct 31, 2012
Blizzard still hasn't figured out how to link all of our minds with the protoss Khala yet, but it is giving us more tools to link up with our friends across the StarCraft 2 community. The Heart of the Swarm expansion will be introducing clan support, with a test build going live in the next major beta patch.
When you create a clan, you'll input a name and a 2-4 character tag that will appear in front of the names of everyone in your clan automatically. Strangely, clans currently have a limit of only 50 players. Blizzard explains that "Clans are geared towards teams of players participating competitively in StarCraft II," and they're "working on support for Groups: players who want to associate casually, and in larger numbers."
So let your squad/brood/tribe-mates know. And if you see tag on the beta ladders, brace yourself for some pain.*
*Assuming Gold League or below. If you're Plat or better, you'll probably pass out from laughter and still somehow win the match.
Oct 31, 2012
For glory! We've arrived at the final chapter of an epic undertaking: chronicling an alternate history of Europe in Paradox’s Crusader Kings II. I, King Murchad I of Ireland, have made a bid by right of birth on the Kingdom of England, and my armies are on the march to secure the throne of the long-embattled realm. Here the story ends, in victory or in death. Onward!
Get caught up: The Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6. Also check out the Strategy Chronicles Hub, which will be updated regularly.
A game of thrones
It is the summer of 1160. England has been a divided realm for almost a century, ever since King Harald Hardrada of Norway died and left Norwegians, Saxons, and Normans to squabble over every inch of ground. England itself is a shadow of what it once was, occupying an area far smaller than the long-stable Duchy of Lancaster to the north.
The current English king is a distant pretender, the Saxon Gudbrand I, who claimed the throne by murdering his nephew, the boy king Enguerrand. My mother was Princess Thorborg of England, daughter of the renowned English King Magnus II, making my claim much stronger than Gudbrand's. We have just won a great victory over the Saxons at St. Pauls, but the war is far from over, and I've emptied the royal treasuries arranging a fabricated claim on Wales.
September 9, 1160: Reading, Oxford, falls to King Murchad. The plunder from the hold is used to pay back Ireland's debts.
October 13, 1160: After defeating nearly all of Gudbrad's forces in the field, King Murchad leads his men to capture Winchester.
April 20, 1161: Winchester falls. Northampton is the only county that remains in Saxon hands.
May 4, 1161: Arriving in the Northampton countryside, King Murchad discovers that Gudbrand's last bastion is already under attack by the Duke Stigand of Norfolk. The Irish liege elects to leave them to their battles, riding off to secure the smaller settlements in Oxford.
You only need to capture the "main" castle or city in any given county for it to count as occupied and, thus, slowly tick up your warscore. But capturing the smaller baronies will force my warscore up faster. And it's not like I have anything better to do.
July 12, 1161: After his victory at Northampton, Duke Stigand of Norfolk rides to join King Murchad's siege at Buckingham. To cement their friendship, a betrothal is arranged between Stigand's son and heir, Oshere, and Murchad's daughter, Princess Leigha.
King Gudbrand, as it turns out, is not well-liked by the other nobles of Britain. He has no legitimate tie to the Norwegian House Yngling that has ruled England since the time of Harald the Conqueror, whereas my mother was a bona fide Yngling princess. It makes sense that Norfolk would prefer me as their king, even if I am Irish.
April 9, 1162: All the holds in Oxford have been captured by Irish and Norfolkian forces. Duke Stigand departs to mind his own realm against counter-attack, while King Murchad continues his ride to Wiltshire.
December 4, 1162: Duchess Éua of Connacht organizes a faction to be made Queen of Ireland.
The last thing I need right now is a rebellion on my home shores while I'm campaigning in Britain. Éua is the eldest of five daughters born to the late Gilla-Íosa ua Brian, the last of the Breifnean ua Brians to reign over Ireland. I deposed him in a succession war some time ago to put the original Munsterian branch of our house back on the throne. As the daughter of a once-king, it seems Éua has her eyes on my seat. Luckily, despite all of the annoyance I have garnered by keeping the realm's military levies raised for years to win my claim on England, my key vassals still like me enough to shun this traitorous faction. I plot to have my cousin killed immediately.
August 9, 1163: Southampton falls to Irish forces, ending all Saxon resistance in Winchester. King Murchad sets his sights on Wells, Somerset.
December 6, 1163: The king's eldest daughter, Máiread, comes of age. She is a brilliant strategist in keeping with the ua Brian tradition. A great wedding is held for her and her long-betrothed, Prince Mads of Denmark. The close bond between the houses of ua Brian and Ylving are renewed, though Queen Maria of Denmark declines to join Ireland's war in England.
July 19, 1164: Ilchester, Somerset falls, closing Murchad's grip on the county. Gudbrand continues to hide and bide his time.
There are very few towns in England that we don't own outright at this point, but the Saxons are still refusing to surrender. Technically, I could just hang around and wait for the warscore to tick up to 100 and force their hand... but I'd rather get this over with so my men can go home. Gudbrand's home county of Gloucester is one of the last containing Saxon-loyal strongholds. Time to head up there and seal the deal.
November 17, 1164: Bristol, Gloucester falls. Duke Gudbrand finally surrenders, and kneels before King Murchad I of England and Ireland.
Unfortunately, this isn't quite the coup that winning historical England would have been. It's very much a fixer-upper. The majority of what is considered "de jure England" has been ruled as the independent Saxon Duchy of Lancaster for decades. Kent and Norfolk are also independent, and the Kingdom of Norway holds sway in Cornwall. All I've really inherited is a disjointed blob of South Britain that has somehow retained the appellation "Kingdom of England" for all these years, when in fact it is far weaker than the Lancastrian realm that borders it.
The good news is that the title King of England allows me to press claim on just about any county between here and Scotland, with the exception of Wales, which I have conveniently fabricated claims on. For now, I need to dismiss my armies and let my disgruntled vassals calm down. But once the time is right, I have all the justification I need to start a conquest that could end in my being crowned Emperor.
After King Murchad's coronation, Duke Åle of Oxford begins scheming to make himself King of England.
Yep, let's hear from all the traitors in the house. Come on out and make yourselves known. The king appreciates your honesty. If you wouldn't mind, take this quick survey. Question 1: Were I to be beheaded, I would prefer the stroke to start at... A) The front of my neck, B) The back of my neck, C) The side of my neck, D) I would prefer to be drawn and quartered.
A century well-spent
January 10, 1165: King Murchad betroths his heir, Prince Brian, to the young Duchess Cristina of Ulster.
This is a solution to a problem that's been hovering just under the surface for a while. The Duchy of Ulster has been fighting my other vassals almost constantly, to the point that they own more sheer territory in Ireland than I have in my personal demesne. This means, was Ulster to rebel, I would almost certainly lose the Irish crown. And not to another branch of my own house this time. This marriage will effectively fold the Duchy of Ulster into the royal house over the next couple generations. Brian and Cristina's heir will remain King of Ireland, while also inheriting all of Ulster's holdings. Problem solved.
February 18, 1165: Duke Gudbrand forms a faction to reclaim the throne of England.
Yeah, good luck with that.
April 30, 1165: King Murchad's second daughter, Princess Leigha, comes of age. She is, of course, a brilliant strategist.
February 16, 1166: King Murchad's vassal, Earl Erlend of Wiltshire, seeks to usurp the Duchy of Gloucester from Gudbrand. The king encourages this.
September 15, 1166: King Murchad awakes as early autumn breezes sweep across the countryside of Thomond. Thomond, the land of his ancestors. The land of Brian Boru, founder of his great house. The land of his namesake, Duke Murchad I, who 100 years ago to the day, sent the ultimatum to Earl Muiredach of Desmond that began the rise of his lineage to power.
It was a land of great heroes and great deeds. Of his great-grandfather, Brian I, who united Ireland and became her king. A land from whence ships had sailed full of men ready to fight and die for their blood, for their honor, and for their faith. A land to which he had gathered his loyal host and won a second crown across the sea.
Time was often unkind to even the strongest of things built by human hands. Castle stones cracked and grew moss. Steel rusted, and cloth tattered and faded. But nonetheless, King Murchad could look upon what his bloodline had forged in the flames of intrigue and war, and know that its legacy would not be forgotten in any age soon to come. Ever the name of ua Brian would be sung from Ireland to Denmark, and the Holy Land beyond. Ever would they be counted among the greatest kings of the known world. And perhaps someday, his children and his children's children would go on to do greater things still.
A bird darted past his window, awakening Queen Gormlaith from her deep slumber. As their eyes met, fire finding its like, they both knew it was time again to march for song and legend. Battle was the true fuel that stoked the storied hearts of Ireland's reigning house. And until the day they died, whether over hills, down deep valleys, or across roaring waves, it was battle they would seek...
And there you have it. 100 years of alternate history. We've seen House ua Brian rise from a modest noble family in southern Ireland to a great and renowned dynasty holding claim to two kingdoms. 1166 marked the lineage at its most resplendent.
The ua Brians would go on to face continuing adversity in the coming years, as Duke Gudbrand declared war to reclaim England, swindling Norfolk to back his cause and calling on the aid of the distant Spanish realm of Navarra. King Murchad would be badly wounded in personal combat with the pretender, though he made a full recovery from the injuries in later life. The conflict ended with the assassination of Duke Gudbrand by the Earl of Essex, who swore fealty to King Brian and marked the largest expanse his borders would ever cover. King Murchad lost no battles over the entire course of the war, despite being outnumbered in several.
King Murchad finally left the world on June 7, 1173, after a period of infirmity at age 48. His son, King Brian II, became the youngest ever King of Ireland and England at 21, ruling alongside the Ulsterian Queen Cristina. The ambitious young liege would go on to wage war on Duke Stigand of Norfolk, former supporter of the traitorous Gudbrand, to unite southern Britain under the Irish-English crown. The momentum of the war was on King Brian's side, despite a brief Connachtian rebellion led by the heirs of House ua Brian of Breifne lasting from 1174 to 1176.
This momentum would finally be halted in August of 1176 when Duke Trond of Gloucester, son of Duke Gudbrand, declared himself King of England and called in the the aid of Norfolk (already at war with King Brian) and Somerset, once loyal to the crown. The royal host found themselves outnumbered three to one due to the stubborn insistence of Queen Cristina to use most of the Ulster levies to press her own ducal claims on Ireland's lesser lords.
Though they fought valiantly, King Brian's loyal men were dealt a decisive defeat at the Battle of Bath on December 4, 1176. This marked the effective end of Ireland's claim on mainland Britain, and the Kingdom of England would pass back to the Saxons. Nonetheless, Ireland would only grow stronger and more independent, becoming an unassailable fixture of northern Europe under ua Brian monarchs for generations to come, while the petty kingdoms of Britain continued to squabble and claw for territory.
Thus ends our tale...
Here's where I usually put the obligatory, "Thank you all for reading!" message. I started writing these chronicles way back in June, and the amount of positive feedback you guys have given has been truly inspiring. So much so that it pains me to say I'll be putting this project on hiatus for a while. It's fairly time-consuming to produce and edit, and everyone needs a break now and then. Never fear, though. This won't be the last you see of the Strategy Chronicles. There are plenty more awesome games out there that would lend themselves well to this format, and I'm already formulating ideas for the future.
If you have any suggestions for epic strategy titles that would benefit from the narrative treatment I've given to Civ and Crusader Kings, be sure to let me know in the comments. Total War? Mount and Blade? Might and Magic Heroes? Maybe throw in some sort of wacky restriction like Tom Francis' Skyrim diaries? I'm curious to hear your feedback.
On behalf of High King Brian II of Ireland, and all those who came before him, and all those who will follow, I bid you farewell for now. May you find clear skies, calm seas, and victory in the field.
I considered myself a contemporary Michelangelo after I erected a 50-block mud-house in my voxelized corner of Minecraft. Boy, was I just a clown crashing cubes together after viewing the breathtaking flythrough of an enormous Gothic cathedral composed of over a whopping two million blocks forming rows of spires and a crazily detailed interior. Creator GNRFrancis offers the colossal cathedral as a free download alongside video tutorials detailing the year-long construction process. I'll just get back to making sure my wooden door swivels correctly.
Inversion co-founder Mark Morris recently spoke with VG247 about his decision to bus slammer-sim Prison Architect over to the PC instead of Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network, citing the prohibitive cost of acquiring test kits to meet quality standards and telling Microsoft and Sony to "piss off" after calling them "second-class customers."
"If you look at our position, we’re two guys basically—although we’re a little bigger than that—working on a game we’ve launched ourselves," Morris said. "We’re in alpha, and we’re seeing money now which is enabling us to carry on developing it."
Morris believes shelling $10,000 for a console development kit is a "ridiculous" hurdle for indie teams seeking a break into the Xbox and PlayStation digital markets.
"And it’s non-refundable once you’ve bought it," he added. "I think our quality assurance bill was $30,000 for testing with Darwinia+, and it took four years to get the game certified to a standard that Microsoft wanted. It then sold rubbish. We hardly shipped any units on the Xbox 360 compared to PC. There is a strong indie community now on PC that doesn’t exist within the console world, and they’ve tried various ways to tap into that with Live Arcade and Xbox Indie Games, and they just never managed it in the way Steam has."
Morris also stated Introversion holds "no interest" towards a possible console port for Prison Architect—that is, unless Big Green and Big S sees the error of their ways.
“Microsoft and Sony comes along and says, ‘Well, we don’t want to have your game second, we want to be first,’" he continued. "Well, they can’t be first. We’re on PC because they’ve made it too hard. Also, they want exclusive content, so they can piss off. You’re not delivering the amount of sales, you’re making us work harder, and ultimately we’re getting paid less than what we do on PC. So, I think they’re definitely—in the indie world—second-class customers.
“If they want to work with us—and if they want indie games on their systems—they’re going to have to change quite a lot to make it attractive."
Read up on the rest of VG247's interview with Morris here.
Nailing down the range of possibilities afforded by modding's creativity yawns past the comprehension of us mere mortals. Yet, for a platform housing exploding horses, rug-cutting Combine, and the nesting-doll appeal of Minecraft's game-in-a-game sandbox, the PC keeps its lot of closed environments precipitated by developers and publishers as a means for balanced gameplay or brand protection. In an interview with True PC Gaming, Black Mesa Project Lead Carlos Montero flatly stated such a hindrance for mod growth "doesn't make sense."
"When you think about it, modders are like the ultimate fans," Montero explained. "They love this game so much, they're doing real, difficult, skilled work that you usually pay people for. Not only that, but they can add so much value to your game for the rest of your audience. Yet you still see companies look at this as competition. They sue and shut down these projects and ignore or drop support for people to mod their games. It doesn't make any sense. In my opinion, it’s the product of businesses (or lawyers) looking at this too analytically and short-term without understanding the long-term value it can create for their games."
Although Black Mesa earned the silent blessing of Valve during its lengthy session in the testing chamber, other ambitious projects met a not-so-friendly response from license holders legally stifling efforts. Montero's thoughts—the rest of which you can read in the interview—reflect a sentiment by modder-turned-developer Tripwire Interactive expressing confusion over why companies would stop mods on their games.
EA COO Peter Moore spoke with Wired in a wide-ranging interview covering the publishing giant's transformative adaption to the industry's shifting practices, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the refreshed focus for PC development. "As you get further into the cycle of fixed hardware, the PC just sprints ahead," he said. "The things we can do on the PC because of the power of both the CPU and the GPU are unbelievable."
"When I first arrived at EA in 2007, the PC was dead to us," Moore continued. "We just couldn’t find the right business model for it. As a result, it became a little bit pushed back into the office and the study. Piracy was an issue. We were still delivering games on CD-ROMs, and you just needed to deliver one and the market would take care of the rest of it. We still hadn’t built this kind of, if you will, content in the cloud strategy."
Moore claimed the PC's accessibility for digital- and cloud-based business models helped its restoration into EA's limelight, saying, "The big client PC games are back. Stuff we can do on an open platform from a business perspective, from patching every day without having to go through certification, or anybody else, dealing directly with the consumer without having to deal with our great friends at Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, makes the PC a very attractive platform. It has been the core of this company for three decades."
As for The Old Republic's impending free-to-play conversion, Moore said "price was always the issue" for surveyed players cancelling their subscriptions.
"You talk to people on their way out and say, 'Can you tell me why you’re leaving?'" said Moore. " 'I just didn’t want to pay $15 a month. I felt kind of locked in. I love the game, but I’m locked in,' and for a lot of people $15 a month is a lot of money. So when we looked at the data that was streaming out of the game, it was very clear to us that if we could knock down that initial barrier to entry that is price, we could blow out the funnel, and instead of dealing with several hundred thousand people on a regular basis, we could get into millions. That was the plan. The world moved very quickly around us, and we had to react."
Check out the rest of Wired's interview for Moore's thoughts on digital vs. retail, mobile gaming, Zynga, and other topics.
Yeah, you read that headline right. I was just as confused about the announcement of Sunset Invasion, the latest DLC for Crusader Kings II releasing on November 15, as you were...at first. To quote from the official release: "In the latest DLC for the critically-acclaimed strategy/RPG Crusader Kings II, Paradox Interactive and Paradox Development Studios pose the question—what would have happened if the Aztecs invaded 13th Century Europe?" What it means is that the Count of Anjou could have his heart ripped out of his chest and sacrificed to Quetzalcoatl. I think that's pretty awesome.
CKII's previous expansions, Sword of Islam and Legacy of Rome, have been focused on fleshing out existing, historical civilizations. Sunset Invasion expands the game's already rich palate for alternate history by turning the tables in a scenario that explores the ramifications of the Mesoamericans bringing the fight to Europe, rather than the other way around. The Aztecs will show up around the middle of the 400-odd-year timeframe covered by Crusader Kings, arriving at a random location on the Western coast. The irony of the fact that this will likely be Spain in many games, I don't think is lost on anyone.
The Aztecs will bring with them a new culture, a new religion, and some kind of terrible plague (again, no irony is lost) to shake up the European balance of power in violent, human-sacrifice-laden ways. Unfortunately, you won't be able to play as the Aztecs. The invasion is only two weeks out, so start reinforcing those castle walls and sharpening your swords. You're going to need them.
Still hard at work on the standalone version of DayZ, Bohemia's collaborated with the DayZ community to release an update for the mod version of the game today. Patch 1.7.3 doesn't add new features ("While dogs are "in" there are some mechanics missing so they cannot currently be used," Rocket says on the DayZ forums), but the patch does address the vehicle repair system, zombie death animations, and removes Alt + F4 as an method of escaping from death. Politely: die, cowards.
Patch notes below.
* Tents can no longer be placed on concrete.
* Building checks for tent placement (No longer place tents in buildings).
* Tents now are one click place.
* Fixed function for checking if in buildings.
* Vehicle repair menus now all replaced.
* Vehicle menus now list all damaged parts no matter if you have the item or not.
* Vehicle repair menus will now let you know the exact item you need to repair on failed repair attempts.
* Vehicle Damage is now fully working.
* Vehicle Killed is now in effect fully destroyed vehicles will now set correct in db.
* Tents Now add and remove from db.
* Food can no longer be consumed if the player does not have in inventory.
* water can no longer be consumed if the player does not have in inventory.
* Updated UI control bug.
* Toolbox is now needed for all repairs.
* Alt-f4 is now locked and will only open your status menu.
* No longer possible to drink/eat/pitch a tent/put on clothes/build sand bags/cat wire/hedgehogs/consume medical supplies/free filled water without consuming the item.
* No longer possible to create axes out of thin air if you already have one
* Switching skins no longer repairs pain shakes/broken legs/resets/dupes/screws/resets ammo
* Duping no longer possible through zombie corpses/etc
* It should now be impossible for a new players spawns to spawn unconscious.
* You can no longer cook infinite free meat from camp fires
* Survivors should no longer pickup a single item at the same time and both receive it.
* You can no longer generate multiple tents while packing up a deployed tent.
* You can no longer change clothes/eat/drink/etc. while in a vehicle
* ItemWire reduced from 0.06 to 0.01
* PartEngine updated from 0.01 to 0.06
* Version info is now displayed correct
* New Combat System If you fire a weapon, then you go into combat. During combat, "ABORT" is disabled. (Need to look at the effects with high player counts)
* Combat 30 sec timer on all combat actions.
* Zombie death animation is delayed (now it plays instantly)
* HiveEXT.dll now replaced with our new version.
* Official Hive login is now hard coded into the .dll
* New Hive can now set ingame time to custom, local(local server time), static
* Object Gear syncs happen based on radius not just on menu.
* Vehicle Position is now updated with client position.
* Vehicles save fuel properly
Oct 31, 2012
Anyone who's watched David Attenborough's Life of Dwarves will already know much about the Dwarven culture depicted in the upcoming Dwarf management sim, A Game of Dwarves. The scenes in which Attenborough donned disguise and infiltrated the inner sanctum with a camera hidden in a giant horse-hair beard will already know all there is to know of the well documented Dwarven tradition of drinking mead out of tankards and then hitting each other with tankards.
A Game of Dwarves seeks to depict the calmer side of Dwarven culture. Interior decoration and eating are activities common to both their species and ours. The latest trailer shows the most productive period of the Dwarven year, the one that comes just before Dwarfoween, Dwarfsgiving and Dwarfsmas and Dwarfdwarf, known fondly among its celebrators as Dwarftoberfest. Observe.