Kotaku

The Grinns Tale is the Most Charming RPG I've Played in YearsThose delightful little creatures with their strange cross-time clothing choices and maniacal grimaces are more than just the player characters in one of the finest social role-playing games going — they're also my friends.



Nexon's The Grinns Tale is a twisted little turn-based role-playing game with a little town-building thrown in for good measure. Players cultivate a team of oddly-adorable warriors, assigning them character classes, forging equipment and harvesting the resources required to keep them powered and geared for the winding climb up a torturous tower filled with bizarre creatures that would do them harm.



The Grinns Tale is a social game, fully-launching in November on Facebook and Kongregate (though you can play it now), but it's not the hideously annoying sort of social that more mainstream gamers tend to despise.



You won't need to bug your friends for a single thing in The Grinns Tale. You can visit them, should you like, earning decorations and resources for your Grinns by doing so, but you will never their help to complete a quest. You will never need to ask them for 20 pieces of wood. You won't need their help building anything.



Well, not directly at least. See, the characters that populate the town you build for your Grinns are Facebook friends, assigned randomly or specifically named. It's the same with the heroes you recruit to your cause. For instance, here's our own Evan Narcisse.



The Grinns Tale is the Most Charming RPG I've Played in Years



In The Grinns Tale, well, mine at least, Evan is an Archer. By building an Archer base in town and upgrading it I can increase his level cap and craft new sets of equipment, so when he goes into the tower to take out the big baddies he's ready for anything. I build lumber yards to generate wood, mines to craft metal. I use those resources to create new buildings and equipment.



The only real restriction in The Grinns Tale is time. Though I can speed things up a bit by rallying my villagers, harvesting wood, crafting equipment and upgrading buildings takes time (as well as items gathering in the tower).



Even that waiting and downtime is offset by the availability of companion apps on iOS and Android, allowing players to harvest resources, read background information and send gifts to their friends from the relative safety of their mobile devices.



But as far as far as exploring the dungeon and engaging in simple-yet-satisfying bouts of strategic auto-attack-style RPG combat, there are no limits. You can go back in again and again. Once you hit the level cap (dictated by village building levels) you can continue harvesting items in the tower until the opportunity for more progression comes alone.



The Grinns Tale is really unlike anything I've played on Facebook. The art is wonderfully weird, the music epic and adventurous, and the gameplay is simple and engaging without ever getting frustrating. You should play it.



Play The Grinns Tale [Facebook]



Play The Grinns Tale [Kongregate]


Kotaku

GameStop Cancels All Midnight Openings For Assassin's Creed III In The Northeast If you live anywhere in the path of Hurricane Sandy, don't go to GameStop for Assassin's Creed III tonight. The gaming retailer has cancelled all midnight launches for the new action-adventure game.



I pinged GameStop this afternoon to ask for their plans in the wake of the vicious storm that is currently approaching New York City (and making my lights flicker!). Here's what they told me:




Our top priority is the safety of our employees and customers. In compliance with directives issued by state and local authorities, stores in the path of the storm will remain closed until it is safe to re-open and midnight openings for Assassin's Creed III have been cancelled in the northeast. Customers should check with their local stores for details on when we will re-open.




Yesterday afternoon, GameStop was texting customers that the game would be available at midnight tonight, so if you live in the northeast and you got that text, ignore it! Oh, and charge up all your portables in case the power goes out. So you don't have to stop playing games and do something boring, like talk to people.


Kotaku

The Ten Commandments Of Video Game MenusA good video game menu is like a good roadie: It stays out of the way. But still, far too many menus waste far too much of our time. People want to play games, not mess around in menus!



We've gone up to the top of Video Game Mountain in search of answers, and have come down with ten rules all video game menus should obey. Ten "commandments," if you will.





10. Thou Shalt Allow Players To Skip The Splash Screens


For while players are no doubt excited about the Unreal Engine, Dolby Digital and Speedtree, they shall doubtless be less psyched about them after the hundredth time they watch the opening splash screens.



The Ten Commandments Of Video Game Menus



9. Thou Shalt Make "Continue" The First Option In The Main Menu


For lo, many players art excited to play their game, and so they press the A button repeatedly to skip through the splash screens (provided thou art obeying commandment #10), and therefore shall likely press 'A' straight through the main menu. This pressing of A shall take them into their most recent saved game. It shall not tell them that starting a new game will overwrite all auto-save information. Please mindeth the flow.



8. Thou Shalt Not Place A Montage Video Before The Main Menu


Looketh. We art all excited to play the game in question, but we already bought it, and there is no reason to play a hypey montage video before the menu even loads. We are about to see the game itself! We do not need to see any more trailers. If the game doesn't convince us it's awesome, no trailer before the game is going to. This is not Battlestar Galactica, and you know, come to think of it, we never understood why they played pre-episode clip-montages either.



Which brings us to this Sub-Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Cut Away From The Main Menu To Show An Attract-Mode Sizzle Reel Of The Game, For This Is Not A 1990s Arcade Cabinet



7. Thou Shalt Automatically Save Settings Once They Are Changed


For it is known that players like to tweak settings in the options menu, and shall become irate if they have to enter every menu twice to make sure that whatever settings they just implemented actually stuck. Again, this is known.



The Ten Commandments Of Video Game Menus



6. Thou Shalt Quit Reminding Us That The Game Auto-Saves


While it is known that this is a requirement put in place by hardware manufacturers and publishers, it is also known that every single person who has ever played a video game is now aware that video games quick-save, and furthermore, if one were to turneth off the console in the middle of saving, it would somehow be detrimental to the system. However, if this were to actually happen, it would likely be because the power went out, not because the player decided this would be a good time to turn off the system.



5. We All Shall Agree Where Everything Goes


For there are but a few basic types of menus, and we shall agree on what goes where. Subtitle toggling shall forever go under audio, not video video, not audio. (Okay, we art convinced.) Y-axis inversion shall forever go under controls, not gameplay. Difficulty and violence filters shall be placed under gameplay, however. PC games shall condense the "video" and "graphics" menus into one menu called "video," because we think we can all agreeth that we do not need two menus for video options and "graphics" is a silly term.



4. Thou Shalt Giveth The Option To Invert The Y Axis Before The Game Begins


In a perfect world, one without sin, all games would be like Xbox 360 games and would remember your preference. But until we arrive at that perfect world, all games shall give some sort of access to the options menu before the game begins, so that the very first thing a player does in the actual game isn't pause to invert the Y-axis. Or worse, try to pause only to accidentally skip the very first cutscene.



3. Thou Shalt Agree To Use 'A' To Advance And 'B' To Go Back


Whatever the menu or the function, the 'A' button shall move players one step forward, while the 'B' button shall move players one step back, eventually landing them in the main menu. (Or, "X" and "O" for PlayStation.) The 'B' button shall be required to get players into the game (we are looking at you, Mass Effect), nor shall it be used to quit the actual game (ahem, PC versions of Crysis 2 and Arkham City).



2. Thou Shalt Not Bury The Map Behind More Than One (1) Level Of Menus. In Fact, Just Anchor The Map To The Select Button Because Come On Already


Lo, it is understandable that there are a great many functions to assign to the various buttons on the controller, but the map is always one of the most important aspects of a game, and shall be easily accessible. Putting it behind even one extra layer of menus is annoying at first and maddening over time. Players shall not need to memorize a button combination just to quickly access the map.



The Ten Commandments Of Video Game Menus



1. Thou Shalt Always Allow The Player To Quit To Desktop


In every menu, there shall be one option called "Quit." Upon selecting that option, the player shalt be given one (1) pop-up menu that lets them either quit to the desktop (or dashboard) or to the main menu. Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, force players to first quit to the main menu, then quit again to the desktop. Thou shalt not get cute with the language in the qutting pop-up, and if thou placeth a loading screen between quitting and actually being out of the game, thou shalt rot in a special circle of Hell, where inconveniencers and meddlers go.



By obeying these commandments, game developers shall make video games a more user-friendly and enjoyable experience for all man and womankind.



So it has been written, so it shall be. One day. Hopefully.


Kotaku

FarmVille Fortune Teller: Everything You Need to KnowA brand new event has launched in FarmVille, giving players a chance to deal with the past, present and future by collecting Tarot Cards for their Fortune Teller booth. This feature is like a puzzle, as you'll need to collect dozens or even hundreds of Tarot Cards that fall into one of three categories. From there, players are required to determine the right combinations of those three types of cards in order to win 10 prizes. Let's take a look at this new feature, which is now available on our farms!



First things first, you can place the Fortune Teller booth for free, and it comes pre-built. You'll be given a starting allowance of Tarot Cards to get your bearings within the event, as you'll receive four Past Tarot Cards, two Present Tarot Cards and two Future Tarot Cards. This is the exact amount of cards you'll need to receive the first of 10 prizes in this event: the Old Telescope. This is also the smallest supply of each card that can be used to make a guess at earning the other nine prizes.



FarmVille Fortune Teller: Everything You Need to Know Unfortunately you might need to rely on a bit of trial and error as you try to combine different amounts of each card to earn prizes, but you can earn all three for free by asking your friends to send them to you. Past Tarot Cards are earned by sending out individual requests to your FarmVille neighbors, while Present and Future Tarot Cards can be earned by posting general news posts to your wall. You can ask for Present Cards once every four hours, but must wait eight hours in between requests for Future Cards. Of course, if you don't want to wait for any of these, you can also buy individual cards with Farm Cash.



Thankfully, other farmers have found some of the combinations for these items (there might be more than one combination for the same prize), and they're sharing help over on the game's official forums. Here's the lineup of prizes that are available to earn, and their combinations where available.



FarmVille Fortune Teller: Everything You Need to Know



Floating Mirror - 8 Past, 7 Present, 2 Future

Gypsy Wagon - 8 Past, 5 Present, 2 Future

Abandoned Sundial - 10 Past, 10 Present, 4 Future

Paper Fire Tree - 15 Past, 31 Present, 5 Future

Baby Carnival Elephant - 25 Past, 25 Present, 5 Future

Celestial Horse - 30 Past, 20 Present, 10 Future

Purple Panther - 22 Past, 18 Present, 11 Future



Again, there might be more than one combination that will reward you with the a specific prize, and there are also prizes whose combinations are still unknown. We'll make sure to stay on top of things and will update this space as we confirm more combinations for additional prizes. Good luck winning them all!



More FarmVille Coverage from Games.com





Republished with permission from:

FarmVille Fortune Teller: Everything You Need to KnowBrandy Shaul is an editor at Games.com


Kotaku

Steam Is Having A Halloween Sale Happy Halloween! In case your backlog isn't scary enough, Steam's having a new sale to spook you into buying more video games.



You can get games like Prototype 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 for 50% and 75% off. Costume Quest is a wonderful deal at $7.49, as is the Fallout: New Vegas ultimate edition (which includes all the DLC) for $15.



Other deals include Dead Island for $10, The Darkness II for $12.49, and BioShock 2 for five smackaroos.



If Valve were a small business running ads on local television, I bet they'd have Gabe Newell stand in front of a store and scream about how their prices are so low, they're spoooooooooky.


Kotaku

Save-Erasing Bug Hits Borderlands 2, Travels Through Xbox 360 Multiplayer There's a nasty bug going around among Xbox 360 players of Borderlands 2. The bug travels like a virus, and erases players' save game data.



Gearbox staff explained on their forums that the bug originates from certain players using "an external application to maliciously disrupt the experience and sabotage characters of legitimate Borderlands 2 players on Xbox 360." As Eurogamer explains it, some players are using a hacked version of the game, and other players who end up in multiplayer—knowingly or unknowingly—with those players face the possibility of having their games erased.



So like any virus, the way to avoid catching it is go avoid contact with carriers. As Borderlands 2 community manager Chris Faylor put it, "concerned Xbox 360 players of Borderlands 2 should consider playing online with trusted individuals in non-public sessions." He added, "We also advise that before ceasing play, users always select "Save and Quit" from within the pause menu while their character is alive. If after the death of their character players find themselves at the main menu of Borderlands 2 instead of respawning in-game, be sure to immediately select "Continue" to resume playing as that character."



Gearbox has already submitted a fix to Microsoft.



Important Notice for Xbox 360 Players [Gearbox forums via Eurogamer]


Kotaku

F-Zero and Yoshi Return (Sort Of) in the Wii U's Nintendo Land While Nintendo's making sure to have at least one big first-party title available for the launch of their new console in the form of New Super Mario Bros U, some of the company's other heavy hitters are quite as lucky. Metroid Blast—part of the themed mini-game collection Nintendo Land—isn't quite a full Samus Aran adventure but it brings in elements that hark back to the Metroid experience. And Nintendo's just revealed the other franchises getting similar treatment in their console's virtual amusement park.



The dinosaur that raised Mario and F-Zero's burly pilot will be part of the final three Nintendo Land attractions. Here are the official descriptions:




Yoshi's Fruit Cart: Using the GamePad touch screen and stylus, the player draws a path for the Yoshi Cart to follow through each course. However, only the view of the course displayed on the TV screen shows fruit that must be collected and obstacles that must be avoided along the way to the goal. This fun attraction is a great example of the kind of integrated second-screen game play made possible by Wii U and the GamePad controller.

Captain Falcon's Twister Race: In this single-player Attraction based on the F-Zero racing franchise, players get a top-down view of the track on the GamePad, which is held vertically and turned to steer the vehicle through a winding, twisting track, as they try to hit checkpoints before time runs out. Driving across dash plates can provide a quick burst of speed, while obstacles like speed spikes, whirlwinds, other vehicles and even bombs can make for a dangerous run.

Octopus Dance: In this single-player Attraction, players use the GamePad to mirror dance moves performed by a deep-sea dance instructor. The goal is to always be watching one's own movements from the back to more easily mirror dance moves, but the dynamic interaction between the GamePad and the TV adds a unique twist. Players must be ready to switch between the views offered on the TV screen and the GamePad screen, as sometimes one view is more useful than the other.




So, the Yoshi and Falcon fans amongst you should again note that Nintendo Land comes out on November 18th, either bundled with the $349.99 Wii U Deluxe Set or comes sold separately for a $59.99 price tag.


Kotaku





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Last fall, eyeballs got seriously smacked by the neon-flecked awesome of Nitronic Rush, an arcade racer built by students at DigiPen. Some of those same developers are making a spiritual sequel to that game called Distance.



You can really see the beginnings of a stronger approach to the same gameplay idea in this pre-alpha trailer. Distance looks a good deal prettier and shows off some clever touches like a more detailed gameworld and flying/gliding sequences. I especially like having the HUD on the car itself, as it's a nice way to keep the screen uncluttered and let the art direction shine. If you like what you see, head over to the Kickstarter page for Distance and offer up what your heart dictates.


Kotaku





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With most of New York City shut down—no trains, no buses, some evacuations—those of us at Kotaku who normally work in the main office are working from home. That's me, Evan, Jason, Chris and Tina. So we're home, looking out our windows as trees begin to bend, winds begin to howl and... is that rain blowing upwards?



Yeah, we've got Hurricane Sandy on our minds. But we'd rather think of some less damaging storms. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's Song of Storms comes to mind. It's no storm, but rather a song Link plays to summon a brief and useful bit of wind and rain. That's my kind of weather event.



Share your picks for gaming's most impressive storms below.


Kotaku





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Here's the official launch trailer for Assassin's Creed III, which comes out tomorrow for PS3 and Xbox 360. Meet Ratonhnhaké:ton, adopted name Connor. Meet George Washington. Muskets. Axes. Large ships. Bloody killings. All that jazz.



I've never been a huge fan of Assassin's Creed, but there's something really appealing about this setting. I'm pretty psyched to hack away at revolutionary soldiers and sneak through the woods of New England as a half-Native American assassin dude. What do you think?


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