Why aren't there more tower defense games on Facebook? Is it because they tend to be more difficult than the normal Facebook fare, or because they aren't particularly social? Arcadelia challenges both of those notions with Apoteos: Steam Wars, a competitive multiplayer tower defense and attack game aimed squarely at the hardcore audience.
With its atmospheric steampunkart style, Apoteos is certainly easy on the eyes. It's not nearly as easy on the impatient unwilling to spend the time to master the intricacies of unit management and deployment needed to excel in this strange little hybrid of multiplayer online battle arena and tower defense.
The goal is to protect or abscond with resources from a steam plant, which produces the vital energy that makes steampunk steampunk. The defending player places their units, upgrading them as attackers are taken out. The attacking player deploys waves of units in the hopes of overwhelming/destroying defenses, clearing a path to the prize.
The twist here is hero characters. Like mobile battle arena games, players can deploy heroes with upgadeable statistics and special powers that can be activated in battle. One character protects units she's grouped with. Another snipes at attacking or defending units from afar. Players can form teams, giving teammates access to their preferred heroes in battle.
There's a single-player story mode, introducing players to core concepts and game mechanics, but the real challenge is in mutliplayer. Choose to defend or attack and battle against the heroes and resources of another player. Winning earns money that can be used to purchase new units and heroes, or you can just spend a little cash on some special in-game currency.
Apoteos: Steam Wars is currently in beta, so there's only a handful (by Facebook standards) of people playing. Ultimately its success will depend upon the community of players that springs up around it. Might as well get started early, right?
Apoteos: Steam Wars [Facebook]
Controlling a cockroach or an entire ant colony is pretty unusual, even for a video game. So we can say games featuring these ideas resulted in rather unique and underrated titles—and that's absolutely not a problem.
We collected some of the most interesting ones below.
source: Killerratte's LP
source: Vysethedetermined2's LP
source: KakeyoSilverton's LP
source: KawaKasper's LP
source: OzcrashSoNiC's LP
You should submit your picks of other games that feature insects with visual support below.
At the Game Developers Conference in 2011, Epic Games showed off a new demo of their widely-used Unreal graphics technology. The Unreal Engine drives a ton of popular games, from Gears of War and BioShock to Borderlands and Arkham City. The demo Epic showed was a violent, action-packed piece of work called 'Samaritan," and it impressed the heck out of everyone. You can watch it above.
The demo was using their current engine (believe it or not), the Unreal Engine 3—the Unreal Engine 4 was shown at last year's E3.
Samaritan was an impressive piece of work, but it was also mysterious. Who was that character? What was that world? Was this from some sort of game that existed at some point? Would we ever see any of this kind of stuff in an actual Epic game? No one really knew.
Yesterday, in the first sizable update to his personal Tumblr, former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski had this to say about it:
Q. What was that "Samaritan" demo that Epic produced a while back?
A. One day I'll be able to give the full story on that. It's really a doozy. If journalists nag Epic enough and they give the OK I'd be glad to give details.
Nag Epic about it? Okay then! I sent a quick note off to Epic to ask them about the demo, and whether or not it was okay for Bleszinski to talk about it.
An Epic Games spokesperson got back to me and said that they're not at liberty to talk about what they do or don't discuss with Bleszinski (who parted ways with Epic last fall), but did offer the following comment regarding Samaritan:
We don't have anything new to say about the Samaritan demo. Really! It was a "doozy" of a learning experience – after all, it was Epic's self-proclaimed love letter to hardware manufacturers. Samaritan shows what developers can do with Unreal Engine 3's DirectX 11 feature set, and in terms of R&D, it helped us realize new ways to optimize Unreal Engine 4 for next-gen game development.
Here's where the plot thickens just a bit: In the time since we first saw Bleszinski's Tumblr post last night and now, the bit about Samaritan has been removed. We can only hope that one day he really is able to give the full story, since it sounds like it might be a good one. I've reached out to him to see if he's interested in talking about it, but haven't heard back. (I'll of course update if I do hear anything.)
So, we've got both parties saying it was a "doozy," but no real sense of what that means. What do you think?
Four days ago, this Kickstarter campaign from "Dirty Bird Sports" popped up on the project-funding platform. The name is a reference to former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson, the project's apparent patron, whose "Dirty Bird" touchdown dance was a fixture of the Falcons' 1998-99 Super Bowl run.
Asking for $500,000 in capital funding, the collaboration with Jam Entertainment (Anderson's company) promised to deliver a challenger to EA's popular NCAA Football video game franchise. Perks for investors included dinner with "co-owner" Jamal Anderson, a chance to play-test the game, or a signed helmet from former Ohio State greats Archie Griffin, Eddie George, or Jim Tressel. The promotional copy suggested the game would be different from EA's offering, thanks to the participation of former college and pro football players, and would feature every college football team—including NAIA squads—and the highest-quality 3-D models ever seen.
That is, of course, if you believe the Kickstarter page, which asserts that the graphics actually come from the game. They don't. In fact, the funding campaign was canceled earlier today, shortly after we spoke with Anderson. He told us he had nothing to do with the project and no connection to Dirty Bird Sports.
At the time it was canceled, the campaign, titled "NCAA Football Game for Xbox 360 & Playstation 3," had 13 investors and $685 in total contributions, a long way from the $500,000 goal. The page promoting the new video game contained a number of images "taken from game," but a little googling shows that they all came from various sites on which 3D modeling artists sell their work. Specifically, the "NCAA D3 Stadium" comes from here, "Generic Stadium" from here, "True To Life Banners" from here, "Detailed Helmets" from here, "Accurate Campus Backgrounds" and "Ultra Detailed Stadiums" from here, "Gameball" from here, and the final two (NFL!) models from here.
We reached out to some of the artists who created these 3D models and asked if they had any affiliation with Jam Entertainment or Dirty Bird Sports. Artist Josh King, who created the top image in the Kickstarter page, assured us that he had never heard of the game or Dirty Bird Sports. He also confirmed the 3D model he had created had not been purchased any time recently. And even if Dirty Bird Sports had purchased the model, an in-game screenshot would look vastly different from the preview provided on the artist's website.
Anderson acknowledged that he'd had a conversation with an associate—"this guy I know ... somebody not close to me"—about the project, but he said he never signed on to anything, never approved the use of his likeness in the Kickstarter campaign, and is not a co-owner of any video-game-development franchise. Indeed, Anderson told us, he'd had conversations already about hooking up with already-established video-game companies. He declined to name the guy.
Whoever he was, it's a wonder he found any marks at all. The Kickstarter offered various perks for investment that could never actually be delivered. It's entirely possible this individual dreams of one day putting together an NCAA football video game, but it most certainly will not be on PS3 or Xbox360 as the Kickstarter asserts; by the time a new NCAA football property could come to market, those systems would be long gone.
Poor Jamal Anderson, whose post-playing career has been one shabby thing after another. A cocaine arrest. A DUI. A stint on ESPN that never went anywhere. A showdown with the IRS and the loss of his mansion in a foreclosure auction. And now there's "NCAA Football Game for Xbox 360 & Playstation 3": a video-game alternative for which no one was clamoring made by a company that doesn't exist backed by a demi-celebrity who wasn't actually backing anything, marketed with images stolen from other websites. Even now, everything with this guy is just so much futile flapping of wings.
Some would contest whether or not Dead Space was ever a scary franchise, but most will agree that Dead Space 3 focuses more on being an action title. In a recent NowGamer interview, Dead Space 1 writer Antony Johnston explained why he thinks the added action emphasis occurred.
While admitting that the newer Dead Space games weren't really for him thanks to the action focus, he said that the emphasis was "a necessary evil in order to broaden the fan base."
"I know the developers always wanted to go bigger, in terms of scope. And I've mentioned before that the universe we created was huge, with lots of elements, which simply didn't make it into the first game.
"So to get that story told, to round out the universe, it was inevitable the settings and environments would open out a bit, become a bit more epic in scale."
Without the more epic scale Johnston claims that Dead Space would likely become "pretty dull."
What do you think, does Johnston have a point? It seems to me that regardless of what Dead Space "really is" (or was), there is a group of people that wish Dead Space 3 was more of a horror game. People who are upset to be cast aside for the sake of a wider audience, even.
Following last year's Kingdoms of Amalur financial disaster that resulted in the closure of both Curt Schilling's 38 Studios and Maryland's Big Huge Games, Epic Games swooped in and rescued a group of Big Huge refugees, forming Epic Baltimore, eventually renamed Impossible Studios. Today Epic founder Tim Sweeney announced the studio's closure.
"When former members of Big Huge Games approached Epic last year, we saw the opportunity to help a great group of people while putting them to work on a project that needed a team. It was a bold initiative and the Impossible folks made a gallant effort, but ultimately it wasn't working out for Epic," said Sweeney via an announcement on the Epic Games community site.
Located in Hunt Valley, Maryland, and led by studio director Sean Dunn, Impossible Studios was tasked with finishing up Infinity Blade: Dungeons, a prequel to the hit series of iOS fighting games that served as a showcase for Epic's Unreal Engine 3 on mobile devices. That project is now on hold as Epic considers its future.
While Epic wouldn't comment on the situation — my requests were directed back to the community post — in the light of a late January tweet by Impossible Studios head Sean Dunn I can only imagine the closure came as something of a surprise.
Impossible Studios employees will be given three months' severance pay, as well as the opportunity to reform the studio under the existing name, complete with that amazing horned, winged bear logo that debuted with the studio in August of last year.
Last week, as you might recall, I promised to play Fire Emblem: Awakening with permadeath on. I also promised to continue battling no matter what happened: in other words, if any of my party members died in combat, they'd be dead for good.
This was a mistake.
I want to tell you a little bit about the characters that I inadvertently murdered, but first let me confess that I actually let a few people die before making last week's pact. I would restart when my best characters died, but I had no problem moving on without the crappy ones.
Starting last Friday, I stopped restarting. As I Fire Emblemed my way through subway and bus rides, I'd scream at the screen, infuriated when an unlucky critical hit took out one of my best warriors for good. Doubt seized me, begging me to hit restart or run my leader into the middle of the battlefield so I'd get a game over, but I stayed strong. I let people die. I lived with the consequences.
So here's a shoutout to all of the fallen. Some of these people are actually "retired," because the game has to keep them alive for plot purposes, but in my mind, they're all dead. Let their memories never be forgotten.
Died: The Twins' Turf
Killed during a side quest. Imagine being the one character who gets killed during a side quest. It's like, you're not even important enough to die in a blaze of glory doing something valuable. You just died saving some farmers who are probably going to get killed by Risen in six months anyway. Congratulations, Sumia. Your death meant nothing.
Died: Plegia Castle Courtyard
Cordelia died doing what she loved: riding a Pegasus to one corner of the battlefield in order to get one of those sparkly things on the ground that could be an item or experience or something, then accidentally moving within range of an enemy archer and getting sniped from the sky like she just got hit by a cruise missile.
Died: The Midmire
As a general rule I'm not a big fan of child murder, which is why it pained me to watch the young wizard Ricken die in the middle of the desert, his life cut short before it could even really begin. Ricken will never get to make love. He'll never get to travel the world. He'll never get to go to a Broadway show like he always wanted. His body has probably already turned into sand.
Died: Border Wastes
As a Dancer, Olivia had the ability to go up to a character and give him or her the chance to act again. Too bad she couldn't use it on herself. Now she is dead, struck down by an enemy wizard who set her on fire as Frederick watched in horror. R.I.P. Olivia.
Died: Border Pass
One day at the office, Kotaku editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo told me to bring in my 3DS. "Let's test out Street Pass," he said.
In Fire Emblem: Awakening, if you Street Pass with another player, you'll start seeing their army on your world map. You can challenge that army to a battle, and if you win, you can actually recruit the player's main character to join your army. This is very cool—until you challenge your boss to a battle, not realizing that his main character is ridiculously overpowered and has a spell that can one-shot anyone on the field. You think about restarting the game, then remember that you made a pact to keep playing no matter what happened.
And that's how the Russian mercenary Gregor, one of my favorite characters, had his life mercilessly extinguished by my boss.
Died: Border Pass
A talented assassin and one of my most powerful attackers, Lon'qu was a quiet, reserved man who got nervous around women and was, according to his in-game description, very good at peeling potatoes. Like Gregor, Lon'qu was cut down in the prime of his life, murdered by a cruel man named Stephen Totilo. Miss you, Lon'qu.
Died/Retired: The Searoad
[REDACTED], the [REDACTED] of [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], died on a boat. Poor [REDACTED]. He/she had just joined the army and I was really looking forward to pairing [REDACTED] up with [REDACTED]. I had known [REDACTED] for a while, but I never really knew that [REDACTED] was actually [REDACTED] until [REDACTED]. Now it's too late to tell [REDACTED] that [REDACTED]. Oh well.
Note: this section has been edited to remove all spoilers.
Died: Arena Ferox
Some dude killed Vaike in my fourth battle. I wish he had died earlier. Just look at this guy. His awful Goku hair. The ridiculous chains around his neck. The fact that he forgot to bring his weapon to a motherfucking war. Fuck Vaike.
Died: Port Ferox
Oh, Kellam. Your big gimmick is that nobody notices you because you're generic as hell. So it's only fitting that you were killed during a random battle that I only fought to power up some of my weaker characters. Like you, Kellam. Like you.
"I'm done for," Kellam said as he died. "I wonder if... anyone will notice...I'm gone..."
I'll notice, Kellam. I'll notice.
Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG. It runs every Friday at 3pm ET.
Remember when the Exotic Cook Station quests were released to a random group of players in ChefVille? Well, Zynga has once again rolled out a new event to a "random" assortment of players, with no time table for when the rest of us will get to play along. We've learned that this process could take "a few weeks," but the developer has been kind enough to give us a breakdown of these new "Tempting Truffle Cook Station" quests, so that we can plan ahead.
• Place and Finish the Truffle Station
• Place and Finish the Truffle Grove
• Cook with Truffles 5 Times
If the Truffle Station is anything like the Oyster Bar from the Exotic Cook Station event, it will come pre-built. If not, you'll likely need to finish this appliance using a combination of general news posts on your wall and individual requests sent to your friends.
As for the Truffle Grove, the same qualities apply. If it's not pre-built, you'll need to either gather materials from your friends or ask them to be staff within the building. Since we're still waiting on these quests to arrive in our games, the specifics are unfortunately unknown. What we do know, however, is that finishing this quest gives you a Truffle, 15 XP, and 30 coins.
Where's the Beef?
• Tend 6 Neighbors' Mom N Pop Shops
• Harvest 5 Sirloin Beef
• Have 2 Mastery Stars for Beef Carpaccio
The Beef Carpaccio is likely a new dish inside the Tempting Truffle Cook Station, while the Sirloin Beef comes from those Mom N Pop Shops. You'll receive two Truffles, 15 XP, and 30 coins for completing this quest.
Fish for Compliments
• Get 8 Truffle Slicers from Friends
• Tend 20 Neighbors' Wild Mushrooms
• Have 2 Mastery Stars for Truffle Roast Salmon
While you can likely find mushrooms in any friend's restaurant, the best way to finish this particular quest is to visit your low-level neighbors, or even those that you know have stopped playing the game. That way, you'll still be able to tend the Mushrooms, but you also won't waste that visit energy that could be spent on trying to earn better ingredients. Finishing this final quest gives you two Instant Thyme, 50 XP, and 30 coins.
While these quests are timed, you'll only be timed once these quests arrive in your individual game, and not by when they were first released to the game as a whole.
What do you think of this new Truffle-themed quest series in ChefVille? Have you already received these quests, or are you still waiting for them to roll out to your game? Sound off in the Games.com comments!
Republished with permission from:
Brandy Shaul is an editor at Games.com
In 2010, professor and game designer Jesse Schell gave an amazing talk at the DICE gaming summit that went viral. His topic: the gamification—the adding of points and play systems—to everything imaginable. He imagined a crazy future where we got points for everything from brushing teeth to giving each other high fives.
Three years later, just two days ago, he delivered a follow-up at the new DICE summit. He covers a lot: from the problem with adding chocolate to staplers to the wisdom of Disneyland ticket prices, with detours about just about everything.
You'll laugh. You'll agree. You'll probably disagree, too. Enjoy!
NOTE: If you're pressed for time and just want to see one crazy, great bit, jump to 10:36.
Oh, and warning, the end's a bit weird. Poor guy.
Watching someone who isn't too familiar with video games try their hand at Halo 4 can be pretty hilarious. But when it's Conan O'Brien testing out 343's first entry in the series, it's that much funnier. Even if he does roll his eyes a little too much at the storyline.
I mean, I get it. The story's depth might seem a little excessive and unnecessary to an outsider who thinks video games are made for mindless fun. But every year video games get a little better at telling stories. And that's definitely something we shouldn't roll our eyes at, it's something we should be proud of.
In between my laughs, I was a little sad that the audience was chuckling over even just the description of the storyline. It highlights how indifferent the majority of people are to games, and that they don't take the medium seriously enough to even give it a chance. Sigh. One day, guys. One day.