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title="Permanent Link to Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag preview – ship battles, piracy and exploration on the high seas">As a pirate, you’re even more morally ambiguous than previous protagonists.

As a pirate, you’re even more morally ambiguous than previous protagonists.

Preview written by Craig Owens.

Assassin’s Creed III’s best missions involved boats, and I’m not just talking about the naval warfare. As thrilling as it was to heave your hulking frigate in alongside some poor schooner and unleash a spectacular, splintering volley of cannon fire, Connor Kenway’s ship was also a useful pretext for leaving the American Revolution behind.

"we’re going back in time to the turn of the eighteenth century, a period when the New World really was new"

“Gosh,” I remember thinking the first time some beautiful Caribbean island hoved into view off the Aquila’s starboard bow, or the first time Connor disembarked to skulk around some far-flung West Indian fort, “how extravagant to do all this research, and produce all these assets for such a tiny part of the game.”

I was being naive. The glimpses of paradise seen in ACIII and the briny lashings of ship-versus-ship combat accompanying them were merely a tease for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Yes, there’s a numeral together with that subtitle, suggesting that Black Flag is more its own game than Brotherhood or Revelations were. Or suggesting, if you’re feeling cynical, that Ubisoft want to put some clear blue water between Black Flag and the disappointment surrounding ACIII. To be fair, there’s also a new lead character to justify that numeral: pirate captain Edward Kenway, Connor’s granddad. This means we’re going back in time to the turn of the eighteenth century, a period when the New World really was new, and privateers could carve out a lucrative career for themselves on the high seas.

“So, we meet again, Threepwood! ...I mean Kenway.”

More importantly, we’re moving to a place where the naval tech showcased in the third game can take centre stage, and a place where Ubisoft can introduce the changes to Creed’s structure it needs if they’re going to maintain that yearly release schedule. Traditionally, Assassin’s Creed games have centred on urban spaces, linked by sprawling but mostly uninteresting countryside. I liked scampering through the trees and descending upon redcoat patrols like a giant, murderous squirrel in ACIII’s frontier, but even that was a place you mostly visited on the way to the more bustling settings of Boston and New York.

"Black Flag doesn’t have a single landmass, it has an archipelago"

Black Flag doesn’t have a single landmass, however: it has an archipelago, and rather than swinging through foliage or galloping on horseback, this is a place you explore from behind a ship’s wheel. The Jackdaw, Edward’s vessel, lies at the very heart of Black Flag, and you’ll use her to voyage around the 50-something unique locations that make up Ubisoft’s Caribbean.

“It’ll be the most different Assassin’s Creed game in terms of world structure,” says creative director Jean Guesden. “We’re not dealing with a few large maps, but with one gigantic hub. You can go wherever you want with your ship and explore these locations.” He goes on to promise a sprawling list of environments: “There’s our cities: Havana, Kingston, Nassau. There’s fresh settings, like the fisherman’s villages; there’s plantations obviously, they were a reality of that time. There’s hidden coves with treasure, jungles, Mayan ruins, and obviously a lot of tropical islands – we’re in the Caribbean.”

Mayan ruins will make a nice change from clapboard towns.

Don’t expect to sail around the West Indies unaccosted, however, like some pensioner on a cruise. Rival pirates, not to mention the British, French and Spanish navies, will be patrolling the waters. These serve as organic barriers to your exploration of the islands: the plunder you take from defeated foes can be used to upgrade the Jackdaw and enable you to take on tougher opponents. “This big loop... this is how we want players to see the world and progress through it,” says game designer Ashraf Ismail.

"Plunder you take from defeated foes can be used to upgrade the Jackdaw"

Assassin’s Creed III’s naval battle system managed to convey a surprising amount of weight and drama despite its relatively simple mechanics. Black Flag will add all sorts of rigging to that fine vessel. “Game progression is something we’ve worked on a lot,” says Ashraf. “Traditionally in Assassin’s Creed the enemies were human, and so it’s actually very hard to give challenging progression. But because ships are inanimate, we can always have more cannons, more hull for defence, new abilities.”

One enemy type is the charger, a battering ram of a vessel that uses its superior speed and manoeuvrability to line up with Edward’s ship and slam its prow into the tender flanks of the Jackdaw. I didn’t get to see any other ship types, but Ashraf did explain how players are expected to size up potential enemy encounters: “One of new tools is the spyglass. At a distance, you can look at any ship in the game, you can assess the danger they possess, their strengths, even the cargo they carry, the loot. From a distance you can prepare your strategy for the fight.”

Early Wilkinson Sword safety razors went through a shady and little-documented testing process.

"The emphasis is still very much on quick kills in crowd-control scenarios"

It’s when you get close that the technological enhancements from ACIII become clearer, however. And when I say close, I mean very close indeed: “Boarding is one of our breakthroughs,” Ashraf says. “In ACIII it was a cinematic, now it’s completely seamless. Imagine a scenario where you see a ship, you like its loot, you attack it, weaken it, and you order your crew to throw the grapples to bring the ship in, and this can happen from any angle for orientation. As soon as the hooks are in, Edward lets go of the wheel, and as a player you can do whatever you want to accomplish your goals.”

So if you’re a lily-livered coward, for instance, you could use the free aim to shoot enemies on the ship from the safety of your own vessel. Braver souls can use a swing rope to board their victim, while cannier sorts can climb the Jackdaw’s mast and parkour their way across to the neighbouring vessel. “You can even jump in the water and swim around and sneak on from the other side,” adds Ashraf. “You know, we take a lot of pride in this, we want to make it this perfect blend between piracy and Assassin’s Creed’s core gameplay.”

A noble aim, but I can’t help feeling that the piracy mechanics are considerably more exciting than any further iterations on Assassin’s Creed’s core systems. From the glimpses I get to see of Edward boarding enemy vessels and duelling colonial soldiers, the emphasis is still very much on quick kills in crowd-control scenarios, rather than the one-on-one swordfights a dedicated piracy game might have inspired. Edward also seems to enjoy wielding dual cutlasses: a very literal interpretation of his assassin/pirate heritage that just looks a bit silly.

A game where you steal away to hidden coves like this? Sold.

"Events such as the marooning of Charles Vane will be woven into the narrative, as will a cast of historical pirates"

Combat isn’t the only piece of Assassin’s Creed heritage likely to get in the way of the rumdrinking, shipplundering fun, either. A fourth-wall-breaking frame narrative is still very much a part of the series, although you won’t be playing the muchmaligned modern ‘star’ of previous Assassin’s Creeds, Desmond. Instead, you’re a nameless tester for Abstergo Industries’ new Entertainment division. This is the setup that last year’s multiplayer mode introduced, and it hopefully means less obstructive present-day sections than in previous games, with 100% less Nolan North. That said, the sci-fi yarn is still a core part of the game: “It won’t be less important,” Jean insists, “because the present day is the main link between every time period we visit, but we’re putting directly within the AC universe for the first time.” It’s been clear for some time that AC doesn’t really need this hokey crutch, but at least this time they aren’t using it to tell some dullard’s tiresome story.

As ever, it’s the setting that intrigues. Ubisoft claim they want to capture ‘real piracy’, clearly hoping to ensure there’s no muddling of Black Flag with Johnny Depp’s more family-friendly adventures. Historical events such as the marooning of Charles Vane will be woven into the narrative, as will a cast of historical pirates. The desire to reveal the reality behind the myths seems a little lost in the pitch however: the first thing I’m shown is a trailer in which Blackbeard yarrs his West Country-accented way over a pint of what looks suspiciously like grog.

Still, this is a brave move for a series that has always been focused on the physical abilities of its protagonist. Edward Kenway will still have plenty of things to clamber across and opponents to stab, not to mention the ability to dive and explore the ocean depths, but it’s telling that Ubisoft spent more time during their presentation discussing the Jackdaw than the chap captaining it.

Animus patch notes, v51.2: ‘Fixed hole randomly appearing in cliffs.’
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Here’s Team Fortress 2 being played with an omnidirectional treadmill and Oculus Rift">TF2 oculus treadmill



We already know what Team Fortress 2 looks like when teamed up with the Oculus Rift, but it turns out that was only half the story. Thanks to an enterprising individual with access to both a Rift and a prototype Virtuix Omni VR Treadmill, TF2 is now immersive for the lower half of your body, rather than just the top. Is this the future of games? All I know is that I want to try this expensive-looking kit for myself - does anyone want to buy one of my livers? (I can get by with just one, right?)

The Oculus Rift, you'll recall, is in the wild now, while the Virtuix VR Treadmill - which reads the movement of your feet and feeds that information into the game - will be heading to Kickstarter soon. Together, they look like this:

(Thanks to Road to VR and Eurogamer)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Saturday Crapshoot: AntiKiller">ak_head



Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. Today, a Russian-born shooter that dares to beg the question, "Wait? AntiKiller? Isn't that a healer or something? Doesn't sound very badass..."

There's a specific reason for this game to be here, though you'll have to wait a teeny-tiny bit longer to find out what it is. As for what the game itself is, your guess is as good as mine. It's based on a movie, and has been translated into English... more or less... but in the way that you don't really have much of a chance of following what's going on. Luckily, its barks are worse than its bite. Quite literally.

Here's the intro that's meant to establish everything for us.



Okay. Not knowing the movie's story, I've done my best to figure this out. AntiKiller is the story of Bruce Willis' balder brother, who stumbles across a sinister plan to combine Don Corleone and Leslie Phillips into a slightly camp ganglord who should be applauded for still trying to give speeches after his tracheotomy. Inspired by video games, he opts to go into the world of street fighting, only to be interrupted by everything in the universe being infected by the Rage virus - except for one guy who's too busy zoning out on sugar pills that his genre-savvy dealer told him were 'the smack' or something. The entire story turns out to be an educational film, with the message that if the target gets close enough to your scope to stare into your soul, you're a really shitty sniper. A valuable lesson.

Or it might be about a former cop who gets thrown in jail after being betrayed, is finally released, and decides to kick all of the ass. (Checks Wikipedia) Ah. Yeah. It's that one. Ho-hum.



AntiKiller is a bloody awful shooter, handled with all the care and attention of a psychopath's rabbit hutch. The first mission for instance is just a big concrete filled mass of nothing, with design that forces you to run down and back through a long empty series of alleys just to pick up a decent weapon, and features at least one point that just kills you dead. There's a guy with a machine gun at the end of it, so that might sound fair enough. You're not allowed to shoot him though, and he just one-shots you without even aiming, because what you're meant to do is go upstairs and run through a bit of a building to get to a place where you can shoot him from a slightly different angle. That's worth a one-hit kill?

Then there's the second mission, which is technically called "Barkass' Club", but is actually just an bit of town that seems to be next to some public toilets. Here, you don't get to run around at will, but instead are locked in a pink boundary so that enemies - whose identities aren't explained - can run up out of nowhere and start swinging baseball bats. You kill 34 of them. In barely enough space to get a salsa dance going. And at some point, you'd think they'd maybe realise that this isn't the best tactic...

Kid, there's optimism and there's idiocy, and you're not even close to optimism here.

Also, since when did Baldie have... hair? Is this is a disguise? Someone else? It might help if the pre-mission cutscenes actually played every time, rather than just if they felt like it. Is this game just taking place over a really long time, or sponsored by Rogaine? I hope the film was a bit clearer...

Things just get more confusing as the missions click past. The next one goes to a supermarket, where two sides we've never been introduced to are fighting over something that's not been explained. You fight about a million mooks, with another guy who has a healthbar but doesn't actually bother fighting back most of the time. Enemy, or just really crappy ally? Turns out to be an enemy, who just happens to be immortal until you're supposed to kill him. But killing him doesn't kill him, but cuts to a scene where some gangsters are about to cut someone open with a circular saw but then opt to use an axe instead because... reasons. Probably good reasons. Not the kind I'd argue with them about, anyway.

You failed to return your shopping trolley. The penalty is death.

A running theme though is that the cut-scenes bear no relation to what follows. After the axe murder, the action moves to an assault on a banker that features lots of people running around and having exciting gun-battles. When this segues into the game though, it's just Baldy-No-More trapped out in the open by the evil border from before, in the middle of a city, single-handedly murdering 41 people in the face with a Magnum. Booker DeWitt would find this level of violence excessive. Also Rambo.

Did I shoot six times, or only five? Doesn't matter. Infinite ammo, sweetie.

Making it worse, it took three attempts to get through this without an enemy getting trapped behind scenery and impossible to target, courtesy of that evil border not allowing a straight shot. Nnggggghh...

And what happens after that? I have no idea. The next level on the map lit up, but didn't do anything when clicked. I think we can safely assume though that it wasn't anything particularly special.



A warehouse. Well, I think I can live without having played that.

But never mind the actual game. I mentioned at the start that I had a specific reason for doing this, and while the shooting is unquestionably bad, it's not... say... Isle of the Dead bad. Ordinarily, I'd just have played it, shrugged, and uninstalled. Except! AntiKiller has quite possibly the greatest barks ever.

What are barks? They're a technical name for those things that characters shout during the game - stuff like "He's over there!" or "Reloading!" or "Fisher! You think these jeans make me look fat, FISHER?" If you've played any action games ever, you'll have heard a million of them. You probably won't however have heard any as great as AntiKiller's - mumbled Russian, subtitled for our convenience. And they're wonderful, especially as this isn't even remotely a comedy. Someone thought these were the kind of badass things gang members and crooked types would shout in life-or-death situations. Ladies. Gentlemen. Prepare for... THE TOP TEN GREATEST BARKS OF ANTIKILLER!

10/ We'll be killing you now!

9/ Hands on the nape!

8/ Were immortal! (gets shot in face, dies)

7/ If we're killed, we'll win all the same!

6/ Muzzle down!

5/ Let's get out of here! Shooting!

4/ You'll pay for boy!

3/ He's got trunk!

2/ I'll suck your eyes out!

And my absolute favourite...

1/ Jiggers! Cops!

The translation hilarity doesn't end there either. The mission objective for the first level is - I quote - "Kick the bad boy asses. Help out the cop." That cop is helped when you go up to him and matter-of-factly state "I've killed everybody. Let's go." Beautiful. If only GTA could be so concise.

Oddly, none of this helped AntiKiller find an audience outside Russia - I have no idea if it found one inside it. As for the film itself, it currently holds 5.5/10 on IMDB, and got a sequel called Antikiller D.K. I'm assuming that doesn't stand for Donkey Kong, but on the chaotic evidence of the cut-scenes in this game I'm not willing to rule anything out. Except my bothering to track it down, of course.

No aunties were killed in the making of this Crap Shoot.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to SimCity Update 2.0 to kill residential-only cities and fix numerous bugs on Monday">Spark_2013-03-08_15-40-38



At 1 p.m. PST on Monday, Maxis will be rolling out the first major SimCity patch. SimCity Update 2.0 doesn't make any especially notable additions—mayors will now drive fancy cars or travel by helicopter if available, for instance—but it does implement a long list of bug fixes and improvements.

The biggest change prevents the infamous residential-only cities from surviving:

Residential Tuning: Residential-only cities have failure state.

Buildings are prevented from going up in density when they don’t have power or water.
The amount of happiness gained from low taxes, police, fire, and health outreach has been lowered.
Fixed some cases where buildings would not go abandoned when they should have.
Higher density residential buildings are no longer blocked from going abandoned due to not having enough money.
Happiness from low taxes does not double up every time it is given.
Losing happiness due to not having a job is more impactful.



Other fixes involve the accuracy of population counting and unexplained fluctuations, fixing issues with students and tourists. The tourism and casino specializations should especially benefit:


Tourism: Fixes for unexplained fluctuation of tourists. Tourists more smartly counted on transit.

Cruise ships are now more effective at bringing medium and high wealth tourists in coastal cities.
New tourists will now decide to come into a city once leaving tourists reach train stations, bus depots, or cruise ship docs instead of waiting for those tourists to go out to the region first.
This change will reduce the downtime of tourist buildings.


Casinos: Casinos tuned so that Gambling will be a more profitable specialty. Players can bulldoze and replace existing casinos to see effects of tuning.

The larger casinos now invite more tourists into the city which helps keep them full.
Note that existing casinos will need to be replaced to take advantage of this change.


The full patch notes are available on the official SimCity blog. The servers will be taken down for "a few hours" while the patch is issued.
PC Gamer



Prepare your skeleton for the seventh edition of Catfantastic, the world's most brutal and least fair PC gaming quiz show. Join Evan, Tyler, T.J., special guest Hollander Cooper, and hostmaster Logan Decker as they navigate a gauntlet of incredibly cruel trivia, electroshock therapy, and a black hole of anagrams and arbitrary rules for the devastating 350th episode of the PC Gamer US Podcast!

Witness the end of human civilization on PC Gamer Podcast 350 - Catfantastic VII: Origins

Have a question, comment, complaint, or observation? Send an MP3 to pcgamerpodcast@gmail.com or call us toll-free at 877-404-1337 x724.

Subscribe to the podcast RSS feed.

Follow us on Twitter:
@logandecer (Logan Decker)
@elahti (Evan Lahti)
@tyler_wilde (Tyler Wilde)
@AsaTJ (T.J. Hafer)
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@belsaas (Erik Belsaas, podcast producer)
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Blizzcon 2013 tickets go on sale next Wednesday">Blizzcon



Blizzard's annual fan convention, Blizzcon, is November 8 and 9 this year. As you might expect for a gathering focused on such monoliths of PC gaming as Starcraft and Warcraft, tickets tend to go pretty fast, so if you're looking to join in the scramble, you should know that tickets go on sale next Wednesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. Pacific. A second batch will become available Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. Pacific. The cost this year is $175 per person.

This year's Blizzcon holds a bit of mystery, since the slate of landmark franchises is pretty much clear at the moment. If I were a betting man, I'd put money on a Diablo III and/or World of Warcraft expansion announcement. And maybe, just maybe, we'll finally hear more about the enigmatic Project Titan.

More details are available in the official announcement, including tips to help you make sure purchasing goes smoothly.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Planetary Annihilation gameplay video shows unannihilated planet, alpha planned for May">planetary annihilation



I could probably spend hours just zooming in and out of Planetary Annihilation's forested planets. Space! Ground. Space! Ground. Spaaaace! Until I can—the "end of May," if Uber Entertainment hits the alpha release goal it sets at the end of this video—we can all see the scale of the Kickstarted RTS in today's archived livestream, in which Uber's Steve Thompson and Jon Mavor walk us through pre-alpha gameplay.

It's not far from the gameplay visualization the former Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation developers showed off during the Kickstarter. It's a little blockier and less complex, but crisp and charming—better-looking, I think.

Uber also shows off an impressive replay system, which allows players to rewind to the beginning of the game—while the match is still live—and watch past events. That and more is revealed in the 20 minute stream, and there's more information in our announcement preview.

If you want access to the alpha but didn't contribute to the Kickstarter, it doesn't come cheap—the minimum pre-order tier required for alpha access is the $90 Galactic Edition.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to MOBA Madness: Five new games on the horizon, and how they measure up">MMFeat-Final2



The MOBA/ARPG genre is exploding. From indie devs to mid-sized studios in international markets, the subgenre that began as a WarCraft III custom map is gaining traction and diversity. Over the last few weeks, we've taken a look at a fair few upcoming challengers in the arena. From a modern military MOBA/top-down shooter hybrid to a licensed effort with steampunk Batman, we've broken down where each one fits in, and what makes it different from what's already out there.


Infinite Crisis

Made by: Turbine, best known for Lord of the Rings Online
Releasing: 2013
Hands-on: Yes

What's different about it?
The most notable element in Infinite Crisis' corner is the DC Comics license. While much of the gameplay remains about what you'd expect from the likes of League of Legends or Dota, recognizable characters (12 of which have been announced) take the place of the unknown-outside-their game casts most MOBA players are accustomed to. Other interesting additions are comic book tropes such as destructible terrain, and the ability for super strong characters to pick up objects from the world to use as weapons.

How does it play?
The mode I played was similar to League of Legends dominion mode, with capturable points scattered radially around the map. The moment-to-moment also feels much closer to League than Dota, in terms of hero life pools and ability power. Long-time ARPG players should have no trouble adapting to the controls.

Can I play it?
Not yet. But you can sign-up for beta access on the official site.





Dragons and Titans

Made by: Wyrmbyte
Releasing: Q2 2013
Hands-on: Yes

What's different about it?
It's browser-based, for one. The controls, for another—but I'll get into that below. Dragons and Titans places you in a familiar 5v5 set-up, where each player is a dragon rider. The game layers its 17 playable dragons with 16 weapons, which are chosen separately before the match. This creates some interesting hybrids (such as a DPS dragon with a support-focused weapon), and is actually a pretty clever way to give you a couple hundred character combinations without having to memorize that many different heroes.

How does it play?
The control scheme takes a little getting used to. Constantly in flight, your dragon controls using forward and reverse keys, while the mouse aims and rotates you. It doesn't initially feel as intuitive as click-to-move for this sort of game, but once you get the hang of it, you can pull off some pretty cool moves (such as high-tailing it in reverse while still hurling dragonfire at your pursuers). The constant motion can also lead to getting stuck or hung up on obstacles in the environment, though generally gives matches a constant action feel.

Can I play it?
There are some beta codes floating around. If you don't have one, you can sign up on the official site for a chance to change that.





Merc Elite

Made by: Bigpoint, a browser games developer responsible for, notably, Battlestar Galactica Online
Releasing: Summer 2013
Hands-on: No

What's different about it?
It's a hybrid shooter, grounded a bit more in reality than your average MOBA. We're not talking Red Orchestra: Top Down Operations or anything, but there aren't giant, magic walruses running around punching mutant spiders. It also uses what the devs call a "direct fire aiming system," which basically means that all of the guns work like what MOBA players refer to as skill shots. Line of sight, cover, and high/low ground all matter when it comes to spotting targets and aiming. It's also class-based, rather than character-based. You'll be able to customize and level up a handful of kits such as sniper and heavy gunner.

Can I play it?
You're probably getting used to this answer by now... nope! But there is a page for closed beta sign-ups.





Prime World

Made by: Nival, a Russian studio best known for Heroes of Might and Magic V
Releasing: Spring 2013 (North American version—the Russian client has been running in open beta since last year.)
Hands-on: No

What's different about it?
A lot of what makes Prime World different takes place outside the match. You'll have a persistent city along the lines of Age of Empires 3 and Age of Empires Online, featuring buildings that generate resources which can be used to buy things. The skill system is also very different—for each hero, you'll create a build out of a few set, character-specific skills, and an open-ended pool of dozens and dozens of common skills that you'll accumulate through game currency and real money transactions, much like a collectible card game.

Prime World has also gained attention for the fact that it uses Facebook integration to determine whether you are male or female, and flags your account accordingly. You'll have a discount on characters of the same gender you listed, and there are mechanics in matches that make it beneficial for two opposite-gender heroes to fight together. The developers say these features are popular in the Russian market, but may be removed if the English-speaking community objects to them strongly.

Can I play it?
The English/North American version is currently in closed beta, which you can sign up for here.




Sins of a Dark Age

Made by: Ironclad Games, best known for Sins of a Solar Empire
Releasing: 2013
Hands-on: Yes

What's different about it?
Sins of a Dark Age focuses on trying to make the map feel like a living world, rather than a static stage. The day/night cycle grandfathered into the genre from the original Warcraft III engine has a more significant effect on gameplay than games like Dota 2, changing the behavior of creeps in the jungle, what kinds of minions spawn, where concealing brush pops up, and even the stats of certain items with the "Night" tag. Sins will also prompt each team with a series of randomized quests throughout the match, such as killing a particularly strong hostile creep and bringing its head back to their base, which give significant benefits upon completion.

How does it play?
Like most of the new wave of MOBAs, it seems to lean more toward the League of Legends side of the design spectrum than the Dota 2 side. Heroes are relatively durable (though less so than in Inifinte Crisis), concealing brush is present, and mechanics like denying are nowhere to be found. The quests really seem to make each match more interesting, and prevent any two matches from ever really flowing the same. I'll be interested to see how these sorts of randomized modifiers affect competitive play.

Can I play it?
Opting in to the Founders program (the lowest level is $25) gets you immediate closed beta access.

And so there you have it: five up-and-comers in one of PC gaming's biggest emergent genres. We'll continue to keep their lanes warded, and let you know which ones can hard carry like a boss, and which are more likely to AFK at the fountain and waste your time.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The Kingsport Cases procedurally generates horror mysteries, demo on the way">kingsport 2



The Kingsport Cases' drab port town manor may not dazzle, but a fascinating story machine churns beneath its pixels. It starts like many mysteries—you're a detective who arrives at a late-night party—but the layout of the manor, who you'll meet, their motivations, and the mystery itself are, according to developer Machines in Motion, proceduarlly generated for each new game. The novel idea is headed to Kickstarter on May 1, with a demo to follow shortly after, according to PC Gamer's e-mail correspondence with programmer and producer Andrew Stanek.

The developer blog features human-generated posts with surface-level explanations of how character, plot, and world generation work. "When a character—personality and all—is included in the story, they are given a role within the story," reads the latest post on character generation.

"Perhaps they're the journalist looking for scoop on the recent crime, or maybe they're the murderer come back to cover their tracks. Combining together their personality and role, the story tool creates an ambition for that character. What do they want? How far are they willing to go to get what they want? NPCs are given stake and drive (something all good characters have), and a personality which reflects what those goals are. And when all NPCs have ambitions, some intertwining and some clashing, an intricate story—and mystery—is born."



The goal is to create a horror game that's "all about, well, horror," weaving a story about the player's interactions which can be played again and again, always different. Such ambitious claims are hard to accept at face value, so I'm glad Machines in Motion is planning to release an alpha demo. We should be playing it "within the first week of the Kickstarter," according to Stanek.

You can read more about The Kingsport Cases' world and story generation, with its "thousands of nodal instances," on the official website and its Steam Greenlight concept page.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Minecraft update adds horses, horse armor at no additional charge">Armored_Horse



If you've been longing to gallop hard across the blocky plains and barren sands of Minecraft, now's the time to jump back in. Rideable horses have been added to the ever-expanding sandbox (based on those of the popular Mo' Creatures mod), along with horse armor, leashes, and a few other items.

Taming a wild horse will involve feeding it, and attempting to ride it like you would a saddled pig. Unlike our former porcine mounts of choice, however, horses can throw you off before they learn to recognize you as their master. Once you're partners, you can craft saddles and armor for your horse, and hitch them to items in the environment with a new leash item. Horses have variable amounts of health points, and can be selectively bred to maximize this trait—two hardy horses have a chance of producing an even hardier foal.

The update also brings some "huge changes to the base technology of the game", which now uses Java 6 and requires a minimum of OpenGL 2.0. You can read the full changes list for the update on the Minecraft Wiki.
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