When I See the Blitz Coming, I Audible to a Dragon ShoutReview copies of Madden NFL 13 arrived today. EA Sports usually sends out funny premiums with its review guides, like it did with a yardage book for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13. This year, they included a quarterback wristband—the kind you see Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers flipping up and staring at during a two-minute drill—to highlight the new audible commands for the Kinect-enabled version of the game.

It's rather clever, as I'm having a tough time grasping the full vocabulary available for making pre-snap adjustments (there are more than 120 commands you can give). This may not be as handy as my Cooking Mama oven mitt but it's still a useful piece of swag.

Especially when I apply it to one of my favorite games.

When I See the Blitz Coming, I Audible to a Dragon Shout


Paul Steed, Artist on Wing Commander and Quake Series, DiesPaul Steed, an artist whose video game career spanned design, publishing and even console development, died unexpectedly, according to The Jace Hall Show. Steed was perhaps best known for work on Wing Commander and Quake and also for controversies arising in his time ad id Software.

Steed was most recently the executive creative director of Exigent, a 3D art company he founded. Prior to that, he had worked for publishers such as Atari and Electronic Arts, with Microsoft on the Xbox 360, and at id. He got his start at Origin Systems as an illustrator for the Wing Commander series and had credits on other games such as Privateer and Strike Commander.

At id, he worked on Quake and Quake II. According to John Carmack, id's co-founder, in 2000 Steed was fired (over Carmack's objection) in retaliation for his insistence on working on what would become Doom 3, a project then opposed by two of the firm's co-owners. Steed also was notorious for releasing the "Crackwhore" player skin for Quake II, a model apparently intended as a tribute to a clan by that name but controversial for its name and appearance. Steed also was noteworthy for giving the keynote speech of Game Developers Conference 2008.

Jace Hall called Steed "a close friend" and "simply one of the first cutting edge low-poly 3D modelers to ever exist in the industry." The circumstances of Steed's passing are unknown. Steed is survived by his wife and children.

Goodbye Paul Steed [Wing Commander Combat Information Center]

Quake, Video Game Industry Legend Paul Steed has Passed Away [The Jace Hall Show]

Image via Wing Commander Combat Information Center

PC Gamer

Tyler, Evan, and T.J. form a crack team of talk to discuss DayZ's stand-alone future, Skyrim's Dawnguard vamp-spansion, Steam's upcoming inclusion of non-game software, our upcoming PAX panel, and the future of storytelling in games. All of that, plus more news, Truthiness or Falsity, and a puzzling conclusion in...

PC Gamer US Podcast 325: Quest for Story

Have a question, comment, complaint, or observation? Leave a voicemail: 1-877-404-1337 ext 724 or email the mp3 to pcgamerpodcast@gmail.com.

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Follow us on Twitter:
@elahti (Evan Lahti)
@logandecker (Logan Decker)
@tyler_wilde (Tyler Wilde)
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PC Gamer
In Skyrim, a mage is an unstoppable storm of destruction. In real life, a mage is just an illusionist: they can't do much except trick you. If one of them turned out to be the world's only hope of salvation, hijinks and sudden death would inevitably ensue. Since these are my two favourite things, I've decided to try playing this way.

Skyrim does have a school of magic comprised entirely of illusions, so I'm sticking strictly to this. I can't wear any armour, hold any weapons, cast any non-Illusion spells, or ever attack anyone directly - not even with a punch. Yes. This is an excellent idea.

Straight outta Helgen

I create a High Elf, since they're good with magicks, and give her a good magician's name: Sarah The Implausible.

Skyrim starts with your execution, which is conveniently interrupted by a Plot Dragon, who deals exactly no damage and only destroys parts of the castle that are in your way.
"Could the legends be true?" a guard says.
"Legends don't destroy houses." another replies. OK, but the things they're about can, right?

When I have to choose who to flee with, a rebel or a guard, I pick the guard, Hadvar. He looks better equipped, and when you're partnering up with someone who can't attack, equipment helps. He suggests I find some weapons and armour of my own. I take them out of the chest to make him happy, then drop them all clattering to the floor when he turns around.

Stormcloaks! I hide in a corner while Hadvar deals with them. Spiders! I hide in a cave while Hadvar deals with them. A bear! I run past while Hadvar deals with him. We're out.

"Thanks for your help," says Hadvar, while I study him for any hint of sarcasm. "I wouldn't have got out of there without you."

You would and you did. He suggests we both head to Riverwood, then for some reason adds, "It's probably best if we split up."

That's an excellent idea for you, but a terrible idea for me. I can only use Illusion spells and I don't have any Illusion spells - that doesn't give me a lot of options where I stay alive.

Hadvar sets off, and I traipse nervously behind him. He stops, looks at me, then silently turns back and carries on. After a few minute's walk, he says "You should go to Solitude."

Wow, dude. There are nicer ways to say it.

"The Imperial Legion could really use someone like you." Oh. They could use someone who never takes any action, even when her life is in danger? How?

I am musing this, and examining some stones, when I realise I've lost him. Shit, run! No, sneak! No, there he is!

Just as I reach him, a wolf collides with the side of my face. Ow! Save me Hadvar!

Hadvar hacks the wolf down easily, then turns to me. "I'm glad you decided to join me." I narrow my eyes.

Reaching Riverwood

Soon, though, we've made it to Riverwood, and Hadvar's uncle welcomes us, coos at our story, and says we're welcome to everything he has. After an evening meal of everything he has, I cross the street to the Riverwood Trader to see if I can actually acquire any Illusion spells.

I'm in luck! The trader has Fury, which makes enemies attack whoever's nearest, including their friends. I have to sell most of what Hadvar's uncle had to afford it, but it'll be worth it. For me.

Spells come as books, though, and I can't seem to read this one. I left-click it, I right-click it, I drop it, I fling it into my face, but the arcane knowledge isn't transferring. I check my spellbook. I already know Fury. High Elves start with it. I could have pissed off everything in Helgen with this!

It's still early evening, so I have time to go for a stroll and enrage the wildlife for a few hours before turning in for the night.

A long, winding path takes me past some beautiful views in the twilight. When it ends, a bandit draws her weapon. Two bandits draw their weapons. Fury!

The woman flares red and hacks at the man. He's aiming his bow at me, but now he turns to her. As they whack at each other, I'm unsure what to do - what happens when it wears off? I Fury the man too, just to make sure that if the woman stops attacking him, he won't do something stupid like 'forgive her' or 'understand that magic exists'.

The woman kills him, then comes for me. I realise this plan had no phase two.

I sprint down the mountain screaming, jumping rocks and steep drops, buckling my legs as I go.

When I finally stop, there's no sign of her behind me, and I'm almost back at Riverwood. I could have led her back to Riverwood. I walk back up the moutain path until I spot her, then lead her back to Riverwood.

This still involves a lot of running an screaming, but this time I stop running and screaming occasionally to make sure she's keeping up, then run and scream again.

By the time we reach Riverwood, it's dark. I can still see, but no-one's around to help - they're all in bed. There aren't even any guards. The only one out and about is the village dog. The bandit kills the village dog.

Jumping a fence, dashing past a panicked cow, I finally find Hadvar's uncle. I hide behind him, and the bandit steps around awkwardly to try to get to me. Eventually he tires of this and punches the bandit a few times for being weird. She turns her attention to him, and - weirdly - he walks calmly to his house and leans against the wall. The bandit keeps stabbing him, and I'm suddenly worried he might actually die. Should I Fury him?

I ready the spell, but before I cast, Hadvar's uncle slowly reaches for his mace, turns to the bandit, and bats her into a vegetable cart. She's dead.

"Take what you need my friend," he reiterates. "Within reason, of course."

I mentally nod, walk into his house, and lie down in the family bed.

Next week: Seeking Solitude.

If you're in the UK, the next two entries in this diary are all in the issue of PC Gamer currently on sale. They'll be going up one a week until the next issue comes out.

They Were Laid Off From Their Game Company. Now They Want To Change The Way We Play.Jason Fader and his team were sitting in a bar, drinking. Commiserating.

Earlier that day they'd all been laid off from their jobs at Obsidian Entertainment, where they helped work on games like Fallout: New Vegas and an unannounced project called North Carolina. When North Carolina was axed, Obsidian had no choice but to let the team go. It was grim. Job opportunities were limited. Some of the team—particularly artists and designers—were worried they'd have trouble finding gigs.

Five months later, they've all got gigs—and an ambitious plan that promises to give us a new way to play video games.

"I wasn't planning on starting up a studio again," Fader told me. He's a longtime veteran of the industry. He's worked on games like World of Warcraft and helmed production on the DLC for New Vegas, Obsidian's excellent post-apocalyptic role-playing game.

"I was just going to call it quits at Obsidian, maybe go back to Blizzard or something," he said. "[But] everybody's kinda turning to me... they all looked to me, asked if I was gonna start up a studio."

So he did. He re-launched Iocaine Studios, the indie company he had started before Obsidian, and brought the majority of his team aboard. (Fader says he can't pay them yet, but he takes them out for pancakes every weekend.)

They Were Laid Off From Their Game Company. Now They Want To Change The Way We Play.Now they've got big plans. They're simultaneously developing three games. One is a SimCity or Civilization-like town builder called Steam Bandits: Outpost. The second is sort of an action-RPG inspired by games like Privateer and League of Legends. The third is a flight simulator not unlike Crimson Skies.

Here's the catch: all three of these games will take place in the same persistent universe. You'll be able to interact with people who are playing the other two games. And you'll be able to team up to make your characters better.

"If my girlfriend loves town-building games, she can play Steam Bandits: Outpost on her iPad, build up a town and stuff," Fader said. "I'm playing the other game... one island I visit and trade with could be her island. I can link up with her and she's on my friends list. I can visit her island at will. I can link my captain up to her island as my port of call. Any time I go on a quest, she gets a reward as well since she's sponsoring me. And any time she produces stuff, that gives me a little boost."

There will also be quests that span multiple games, Fader says. "Let's say in my captain game I'm on a quest. I pick up a really weird item, a crafting recipe. Now there's no crafting in the captain game; it's RPG and combat focused. I can take this [recipe], hand it off to my girlfriend who's playing the town-building game. She can build it up. I can equip it on my airship... We're taking quests a layer above an individual game and spanning it across an actual game world."

Sounds neat, right? It also sounds ambitious. And like most ambitious game makers nowadays, Fader has started a Kickstarter for his project, asking gamers for $30,000 to help him release the first game of this three-pronged series by November. Right now they've raised around $10,000. They have 11 days to go.

(I asked Fader what he'll do if he can't meet his Kickstarter goal. He says he's been approached by publishers and angel investors, and that he'll figure out a way to fund this project either way. He's passionate about this. "No matter what, I will find a way to make this game," he said. "This game has to happen.")

They're avoiding Facebook. The first game will be released on Steam, iOS, and Android. The second game, just Steam. The third is slated for digital release on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. All three games will cost nothing to play.

Diet Civ

Fader describes Steam Bandits: Outpost as "kind of like a diet version of Civilization." It's got shades of SimCity and Tropico too.

Here's the premise: You're working for a major company that controls all of the steam in the world. (In this lore, steam is a rare and precious resource.) They're investing in you to settle on an island, build it up, populate it, and turn a profit. To do this, you can construct different types of buildings: inns to hold people, for example, or taverns to get them drunk. Power generators to keep everything running.

You're also in charge of an army of captains that you can send out on various quests. Fader says they're inspired by companions in BioWare's online game Star Wars: The Old Republic. You can level up these captains, give them equipment, and boost up their stats and skills as they go from mission to mission doing things for you.

(Fader, laying out some not-so-subtle Firefly references, gives me an example named Captain Melvin (or Mel) Reynolds of the ship Tranquility. Who eventually gets himself a brown coat.)

As you keep playing, you'll be able to train captains, collect resources, and grind out large amounts of money. And you can eventually amass an entire empire of floating islands. All without paying a thing.


Steam Bandits: Outpost is a casual game, but it's not a Facebook game. It will be free-to-play, but not exploitative. It will have microtransactions, but it won't keep you jailed until you spend money on them. And it definitely won't ask you to spam your friends with notifications.

"That is not playing together with a friend," Fader said. "That is just bugging the shit out of them... I'm calling us the anti-Facebook game company. That model just needs to die a horrible death."

"I'm calling us the anti-Facebook game company. That model just needs to die a horrible death."

So when Fader calls Steam Bandits: Outpost casual, what he means is that it can be played in short doses. He compares it to Puzzle Quest or even Torchlight, games you can enjoy during both quick and lengthy sessions. He has the lofty goal of making Outpost appeal to just about everyone. Especially those of us with long work hours and not as much time to play games as we used to have.

"I'm making this game for the hardcore player that does not have time to be hardcore anymore," Fader said. "The part-time hardcore player. I grew up playing games like Civilization and SimCity and Tropico and it pains me that I don't have time to put so many hours into them. I can't sit in front of my computer and just play."

The key to keeping it appealing, Fader says, is not limiting the amount of time that we can spend playing it. Steam Bandits: Outpost is free-to-play, a term that has been stigmatized by companies like Zynga that use "energy" systems to restrict your playtime. Fader can't stand it. He calls it "gaming paralysis."

"It's dumb. It's business-driven design," Fader said. "When these guys were designing their games, the first question was 'How can we get players addicted and then take away their addiction so we can get money from them?'"

Not that Fader and his team don't want to make money. But their microtransactions are more like League of Legends or Team Fortress 2. You'll be able to spend real money on outfits and accessories, not playtime.

"[Steam Bandits] is pay-to-style," Fader said. "Not pay-to-win or pay-to-continue-playing."

And if Fader has his way, Steam Bandits won't just be a set of good casual games. This will be a set of good casual games that changes what casual games bring to the table for people who like video games. These will be the type of games that wash out "the bad taste Facebook games are making on the gaming industry," Fader says.

It's passionate. It's ambitious. And maybe it won't work. But it'll be a fun experiment to watch.

PC Gamer
PCG Podcast

This week Owen, Chris and Tom Senior discuss the Source 2 rumours, SW:TOR free-to-play, the decline in WoW subscriptions and their very real and surprisingly detailed fear of vomiting uncontrollably while using the Oculus Rift. Also featuring the Steam charts, Skyrim, The Walking Dead adventure games, and your questions from Twitter.

Download the MP3, subscribe, or find our older podcasts here.
Show notes

Source 2 rumour round-up.
Oculus Rift's Kickstarter success.
The Old Republic goes free-to-play, World of Warcraft loses 1.1 million subscribers.
Evan's reviews of The Walking Dead: Episode 1, Episode 2.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

No, you can't take his skirt off

After a couple of months spent kneeling at the altar of Microsoft exclusivity, Skyrim’s first expansion Dawnguard has made its expensive way to the admirably-supported PC version. It brings vampires and it brings vampire hunters – but will it bring the game-changing of Bloodmoon or the deflation of Shivering Isles? Gaze into my proud undead eyes, human cattle, and allow me to seduce you into reading on.> (more…)

PC Gamer
Skyrim Mods thumb

We've recently updated the PC Gamer Skyrim Mods collection. Collections are just lists of mods, but they make it super easy to install them all at once: we check they’re good and that they all work together, and you just click a ‘Subscribe to all’ button. They’ll all be downloaded and added to your game the next time you start it up, and they’ll even be updated as the creators improve them. We already brought you the best of our steam collection once, but now we're bringing you a round up of all the new mods we've added since then.

Previously we told you we'd split our mods into two collections, Improvements and New Content. Now we've added a third, Graphics, which collects the best visual enhancements for your Skyrim experience.

We'll be adding to all three collections continually, so if you have any suggestions please mention them in the comments below.

Xenius character enhancement

Xenius' character tweaks and enhancements were some of the first Skyrim mods to arrive, and they're still among the best. This mod actually consists of a dozen other, smaller mods. Each one subtly smooths out the bumps and jagged edges of Skyrim's player and NPC models, but without making them overly glamorous or deviating too far from Bethesda's intended look.

This mod appears in the graphics collection.

Lush Grass and Lush Trees

Skyrim may be memorable for its stony mountains and icy glaciers, but Bethesda's foliage deserves some recognition as well. The trees and forests of Skyrim are just as impressive as its more barren landscapes. These two mods, Lush Trees and Lush Grass, make Skyrim's plant life just a little bit prettier, ensuring your vistas are greener than ever. To see this mod at its best, I recommend a tour of Falkreath Forest.

These mods appear in the graphics collection.

Realistic Lighting

Realistic Lighting is probably one of the biggest graphical improvements you can make to your game without resorting to post processing. This mod tweaks balance of light and shadow all over Skyrim. The result is clear, every part of the game looks a little more defined, a little more real, a little more rounded. It also makes nights and dungeons much darker, putting more emphasis on torches and light spells.

This mod appears in the graphics collection.


W.A.T.E.R, or Water And Terrain Enhancement Redux, grew out of the classic Realistic Water Textures mod we've featured on PC Gamer before. Sadly the creator of Realistic Water stopped updating the mod, so the W.A.T.E.R. team stepped in to build a new version from scratch. W.A.T.E.R. redesigns every river, lake and ocean in Skyrim to be ebb and flow in a more realistic and far prettier fashion.

This mod appears in the graphics collection.

Enhanced Distant Terrain

This self proclaimed 'small but mighty' texture mod is focused on the long view. By upgrading all of Skyrim's long distance textures it gives the impression of a much better draw distance without overly taxing your PC. Skyrim is all about distant landscapes, and this mod makes them all look just a little bit crisper and nicer.

This mod appears in the graphics collection.

Better Dynamic Snow

I don't know if you've noticed, but Skyrim is a pretty snowy place. Half the country is a freezing wasteland, so it's a shame that the snow can often look a little flat and boring. The problem is 'Dynamic Snow' the snow that falls from the sky and sticks to other objects, it's a fairly simple white texture. This mod replaces that texture with the far prettier snowy ground texture, resulting in much more appealing winter landscapes.

This mod appears in the graphics collection.

Unofficial Skyrim Patch

This mod does exactly what you'd expect it to do. Modders realised they could patch the game faster than Bethesda, so they banded together to fix whatever bugs they could. The mod is being constantly updated, fixing new bugs as they emerge and updating the patch whenever Bethesda themselves release an official fix. There's also a variety of subtle tweaks, like making sure Brand Shei (above) eventually get out of prison after you frame him, so you aren't robbed of his services forever.

This mod appears in the improvements collection.

Chopping Wood/Wood Fires fix

Bethesda's official texture pack is terrific, and I certainly recommend you try it, but if you do I also recommend you download this mod, which fixes some problems it causes. Specifically it fixes the textures for chopping blocks and wood fires, which looked a little off in the original release (see above). So unless you want your fires to have a disturbing unearthly glow, you want this.

This mod appears in the improvements collection.

Specialised Followers

Skyrim's followers are pretty cool guys, there's dozens of them across the land, and they have lots of different personalities. The problem is that their abilities are kind of similar, and some of them don't make much sense. Why does Jzargo have heavy armour training? How come every Housecarl is the same? This terrific mod tweaks every single follower, giving them all new stats, new perks and new special abilities, making them all useful in different ways. Kharjo now sneaks even in heavy armour, making him the perfect companion for thieves, Jenassa disappears from combat to backstab enemies and Derkeethus can fire exploding arrows.

This mod appears in the improvements collection.

Better Horses

This mod replaces both Whistle and Faster Horses in our mod collection, doing everything they do and more. Better Horses lets you adjust the speed of your horse and call them from a distance, but it also makes him run from combat, gives different breeds different abilities and makes sure they won't detect you when stealthed. It's also fully compatible with Horses for Followers, which is why we've included both in this pack.

This mod appears in the improvements collection.

Horses For Followers

One of the things that always bothered my in Skyrim was the fact that whenever I rode off on my horse, my follower would get left behind, desperately sprinting after me. This mod, actually two mods, Horses for Followers and Better Follower Improvements, combine to fix this problem in the best possible way. Install them and you can buy a horse specifically for your companion to ride. They'll automatically mount up as you ride off, and their horse will always follow yours. It's a simple improvement, but one of my favourites.

These mods appear in the improvements collection.

Upgrade Levelled Items

Unique items are some of the coolest and most powerful equipment in Skyrim. The only problem is that many of them are scaled to your level. If you find Dragonbane at level 7, you'll have a much worse version than if you found it at level 14. This is annoying, as it means the best way to get great items is to ignore them till the endgame. Thankfully this mod lets you upgrade levelled items at any forge, bringing them up to your own level, so you don't need to throw away Chillrend just because you got it too early on.

This mod appears in the improvements collection.

Realistic Map and Roads

Skyrim's 3D world map is very pretty, but it isn't always helpful for getting you where you need to know. This mod improves the map by adding meticulously hand drawn roads, making it much easier to navigate. Hats off to modder '3 weeks here don't delete me' for having the enormous patience to get this done.

This mod appears in the improvements collection.


Skyrim's crafting system is pretty comprehensive, but it misses one trick, you can't make arrows. This mod adds fletching to the game, letting budding archers make their own ammunition. Making an arrow requires feathers, which can be obtained by plucking chickens in town or shooting hawks out of the sky, whichever you prefer.

This mod appears in the improvements collection.

Plant Trees

Plant Trees is a special case amongst Skyrim mods, it's the product of Bethesda's own community manager Nick Breckon. The mod adds a plant vendor just outside of Whiterun, who sells a variety of seeds which will (eventually) grow into plants. He also sells a staff which makes flowers bloom on whatever it's pointed at, including people.

This mod appears in the new content collection.

Hedge Knight Armour

Hothtrooper44 is the man behind some of best armour mods in Skyrim. This is his Hedge Knight Armour, a wonderfully detailed set of heavy plate. The whole set has a great gritty medieval look, not a fancy knight in shining armour, more a grim and deadly Game of Thrones feel.

This mod appears in the new content collection.

Warchief Armour

Man those Sabre Cats can be annoying when you first start playing Skyrim. Always jumping you on the road, constantly threatening you as you go from place to place. Wouldn't it be nice if, when you got to a higher level, you could kill one and wear it as a hat? This mod lets you do just that. The Warchief Armour set a very different flavour from the rest of Skyrim, with a more tribal feel.

This mod appears in the new content collection.

Redguard Knight Armour

A third cool armour set for you. This one is an armoured version of the Redguard clothing already in the game. It has a decidedly Saracen theme, in perfect keeping with Skyrim's depiction of Redguards.

This mod appears in the new content collection.
Announcement - Valve
In celebration of the mega gaming event QUAKECON, save big on different games from id Software and Bethesda each day, now through August 6th at 10am Pacific Time.

Today only, save 75% on all *id Software titles!
*Rage not included

Or, pick up the massive QUAKECON Bundle, a collection of all released id and Bethesda titles for one low price!

Announcement - Valve
In celebration of the mega gaming event QUAKECON, save big on different games from id Software and Bethesda each day, now through August 6th at 10am Pacific Time.

Today only, save 66% on the Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas!

Or, pick up the massive QUAKECON Bundle, a collection of all released id and Bethesda titles for one low price!