PC Gamer

In the latest update for the Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter campaign, Frontier Developments have released a video showing off the game's multiplayer component. Sort of. It's not the most action-packed preview, featuring a ship chasing David Braben around an asteroid field for five minutes. Spoiler: at the end, he crashes. More exciting is the information Braben gives over the top of the video, detailing the features the team plan to add to the game.

For starters you'll be able to choose just how dangerous your corner of space will be. Matchmaking settings will let you play solo, with a group of friends or in a free-for-all against everyone else looking for the same. The video also explains how the damage system will work. Ship destruction will be localised to specific areas, meaning damaged ships can be spewing out debris and cargo, but will still be able to limp away and repair. Finally, Braben oulines the heat generation system, saying that fancy manoeuvres will generate more heat, causing the player to show brighter on the radar of other ships.

The update also introduces a new funding tier, presumably in a bid to push the Kickstarter over the less-than-stellar total of £585,500 and towards its £1.25 million goal. The writer's pack will allow backers to spend £4,500 to essentially insert their Elite fiction into the game. Let today go down in history as the day we all learned that Elite fanfiction was a thing. PCGamesN have already spotted a separate Kickstarter by one Elite fan hoping to raise the money to add his novel to the game. Rumour has it that if someone starts another Kickstarter project to back the project that's hoping to back the Elite project, Kickstarter itself will implode.

PC Gamer

The first time I heard that Double Fine was doing a public Amnesia Fortnight, I naturally assumed it would be a livestream of Tim Schafer playing horror game Amnesia for fourteen days straight. To be clear, I would totally pay to see that. In fact it was the company's rapid prototyping gamejam, in which four ideas are worked on for two weeks as a testbed for potential future games. Now, after a week of public voting by buyers of the Amnesia Fortnight bundle, those four projects have been chosen.

The successful prototypes are Hack 'n Slash, a Zelda-like dungeon crawler in which you use cheats, trainers and hacks to progress; Spacebase DF9, a simulated space station city builder; The White Birch, an "ambient platform exploration game" and Autonomous, an 80s-inspired first-person construction sandbox. Each project will be developed over the next two weeks, with the process being streamed over at the Double Fine Twitch.tv site (when they wake up, the lazy Americans.)

That's the What, but Tim Schafer's also interested in the Why. He's set up a post on the Double Fine forums asking voters to detail what it was that appealed to them about the ideas they backed. You'd think "80s-inspired first-person construction sandbox" would speak for itself.

Below are the four successful pitch videos. Did your favourite idea get chosen?

PC Gamer
Stunt Island

This article originally appeared in issue 242 of PC Gamer UK.

Flight simulation wasn’t always the sombre, dandruff-sprinkled academic he is today. Back in his youth he liked to giggle and gallivant as much as the next genre – indeed there was a time when you were almost as likely to find him larking about under blazing dirigibles and collapsing canyon bridges as fretting over fuel mixture settings and radar sub-mode choices.

Crimson Skies was probably the finest product of that wild childhood, but a joyously irresponsible, wilfully unconventional offering from eight years earlier gives it a good run for its money.

Stunt Island is the flight sim that insists you try all the things flight sims generally frown upon or forbid. Land on a busy road bridge! Fly through a railway tunnel! Collide with a Jumbo Jet! The 32 aerial challenges read like the secret ‘To Do’ list of an embittered, redundancy-facing flying instructor.
Of course, Disney Interactive don’t publish games about vengeful sociopaths in Cessnas. The suicidal sortie instructions aren’t an incitement to commit vehicular manslaughter, they’re just a typical month at the office for one of Hollywood’s hardest working and most orthopaedically resilient aviator-stuntmen. With a single inspired wave of the premise-wand The Assembly Line justify some of the strangest sorties you’ll ever fly.

In Stunt Island a Sopwith Camel isn’t for smiting Fokker triplanes or downing Gothas, it’s for plucking felons off Alcatraz or flipping catering trucks driven by fleeing gas-station bandits. Parachutes aren’t safety devices, they’re how you get from skyscraper roof to getaway hovercraft, or from aircraft to hot-air balloon cranium. Giant fibreglass duck-plane? Obviously, that’s for egg-bombing cop cars during the filming of a documentary on ‘the criminal proclivity of birds’.

The sorties are usually as demanding as they are doolally. Nipping at the flight surfaces of the 45 types of flyables is some surprisingly spiky aerodynamic algebra. Spins might not be modelled, but as you struggle to line up with that speeding Humvee or narrow aqueduct arch – as you chop your throttle in preparation for another pocket-handkerchief landing – it’s all-too-easy to provoke a stall or a fit of catastrophic wingtip wobble. One minute it’s looking like Take #28 might be the one, the next you’re gazing up at the misty visage of the studio’s resident surgeon, as he declares, with a thick Teutonic accent:
“You have a lacerated arm, a fractured clavicle, a ruptured spleen, and a runny nose. We’ll have you patched-up and flying again... tomorrow!”

The injuries vary but recovery is always, in effect, instantaneous. A couple of clicks after hearing the prognosis, you’re back in the cockpit again, determined to turn a little more smoothly or maintain a tad more speed as you execute manoeuvre X, Y or Z. Short challenge durations and the freedom –outside of the game’s ‘Stuntman of the Year’ mode – to select any of the game’s missions, ensures Stunt Island, while brutally hard at times, never generates the speechless apoplexy that was the trademark of a certain other fall-guy game. (I still wake up bathed in cold sweat thinking about that Stuntman level where you have to beat the train to the level-crossing.)

And if the aviating does ever get exasperating, you’ve always got the extraordinary mission-editor/machinima creation mode to fall back on.
Lurking like a jewel-stuffed ziggurat at the heart of Stunt Island’s fun-jungle, is a set of tools so powerful they could have been sold as a standalone 3D game creation package. Head for the production building and find a door marked ‘Set Design’ (the game’s menus masquerade as various palm-fringed locales on the titular isle) and you enter a world of near-limitless pratting-around possibilities.

How did you spend yesterday evening? I spent most of it filming crucial scenes in Pterrorized II. I won’t bore you with the entire backstory; all you really need to know is that after deep-frozen pterodactyl eggs are incubated by an accidental nuclear blast, the little town of Shyte, Montana finds itself acting as a giant bird-table for flocks of ravenous winged reptiles. In an effort to lure the screeching horrors away from a crashed school bus, visiting British ornithologist Bill Oddie ends up speeding through the streets on the back of a monster truck.

Will he survive? Not sure. When I finally crawled away to bed, he’d just been carried aloft in the talons of a sky dinosaur piloted by Yours Truly.

With a vast selection of animateable props and cameras at your disposal, and a simple yet powerful “If...Then” scripting language waiting in the wings, the possibilities really are mind-boggling. While you can just mess around creating obtuse flying tests (land a hang-glider on the wing of a taxiing B2 bomber! Put your A-10 between the President’s motorcade and that incoming ATG missile! etc), since the devs have provided everything necessary for fashioning and exporting handmade action flicks, it seems a pity not to use them.

Naturally, any film you make today with Stunt Island will look as if it’s been shot with one of those Poundshop webcams. You could saw wood with the tilted horizon, and play snooker quite happily on most of the island’s rural land surfaces. The game looks its age, a fact that makes the absence of sequels all the more tragic.

If there are any devs out there stuck for ideas or wondering how to revive the popularity of flight simulation, just give the world a stunt-based flying game that looks like Arma 3 and lets players hunt Bill Oddie with a pterodactyl.

I guarantee you’ll make a fortune.
PC Gamer

Good news, god game fans: Maia has reached its Kickstarter target of £100,042, with just under three days to go. Things were looking a bit hairy for Simon Roth's impressive sci-fi god/management game for a while there, as only a few days ago there was still around £30K left to achieve. Thankfully, two things happened in the last couple of days that seem to have made all the difference: TotalBiscuit stepped in to make a recommendatory video, and several other indie devs gathered round to launch the Indie Hug Bundle.

In an act comparable to crossing the streams in Ghostbusters, an indie bundle met a kickstarter page as The Indie Stone (Project Zomboid), Terry Cavanagh (VVVVVV), Puppy Games (Revenge of the Titans), Rob Fearon (Death Ray Manta) and Dull Dude (of unreleased game Battle Cave) stepped forward to donate copies of those games to Simon, who then promised them to anyone who pledged £56 or above. (Incidentally, the GLaDOS tier is now sold out.) Thankfully for Simon, for fans of god games, and even for fans of 70s sci-fi, like me, the move has paid off - at the time of writing, Maia's now raised £101,444 and counting.

The next stretch goal, at £101010, adds cats and dogs. "Aid your colony's defenses with some fluffy dealers of death."
PC Gamer
scribblenauts unlimited

Scribblenauts Unlimited - the third in the charming puzzle series that asks you to create on-screen characters and objects by typing their names into a magical notebook - was released on Steam a little while ago to coincide with the Wii U version. Well, in North America at least. The game's still not materialised over here - in fact, it's been pushed back to 2013 - and nobody seems to be able to say why.

Unlimited came out in the US around a week ago, and was expected to hit Europe on November 30th, to coincide with the launch of the Wii U. Well, that's no longer happening. Developers 5th Cell broke the news via a tweet that reads "EU launch is not until 2013, unfortunately," with CEO Jeremy Slaczka elaborating on the situation over on NeoGAF, by stating that the delay is "due to things outside of development," and has nothing to do with localisation issues, as is often the case when it comes to Europe (The US version already has multiple languages).

Publishers Warner Bros will only say that "details on the European distribution of Scribblenauts Unlimited are coming soon." (That was in a statement to Joystiq). In the meantime, the game is sitting there, on Steam, but bureaucracy means we're not allowed to purchase it in Europe. Ridiculous.
PC Gamer

Valve is still working on polishing the last bits of Dota 2 before a full release, including the completion of the tutorial for the game. But we haven't got all the heroes yet, either. A total of sixteen heroes from the original game, at the time of writing, are unreleased.

They range from the stompy Tauren Chieftain to the mechanical Goblin Shredder, and are in various different states of development. Here are the three that are closest to release.

Goblin Shredder
Rizzrak the Goblin Shredder is a nasty combination of a tank and a ganker. He's a tiny little goblin in a huge suit of armour, equipped with everything necessary to cut down trees. Wait, did I say cut down trees? I meant rip your flesh apart.

As such, his skills are generally about causing as much damage as possible across a wide area. His Whirling Death tears apart anything organic standing nearby. His Timber chain lets him latch on to a tree and pull himself towards it. His reactive armour gives him better regen and armour when attacked, and his ultimate - Chakram - fires a spinning saw blade at an area, disintegrating anything inside in a mess of wood and blood.

Troll Warlord
Some heroes are ranged, and some are melee, but Jah'rakal the Troll Warlord is both. His basic power, Beserker Rage, lets him swap between hurling his axes at distant enemies or using them at close quarters. Close up, he gains bonus damage, HP, and movement and attack speed.

He rewards players who like to stick on one target, too. His Fervor passive increases his attack speed with each continuous blow on the same target, and his bash skill gives him a chance to stun. Whirling Axes changes depending on whether he's in ranged or melee mode, and his ultimate, Battle Trance, is a global 10-second power to gives all allied heroes a hefty bonus to attack speed.

As you might imagine, Medusa the Gorgon is an archer with the ability to turn enemy units to stone. Sort of. Her ultimate, Stone Gaze, means that any enemy with line of sight of her will lose any status buffs and have their movement and attack speed reduced to zero for five seconds. Nasty in a team fight, though you can still use abilities while affected.

Elsewhere, her Mana Shield ability is a toggle that uses mana to absorb incoming damage, and her Mystic Snake steals mana by jumping from target to target. She's a neat pusher too, with Split Shot - an ability that splits her arrows into multiple shots, targeting five enemies at once.

More heroes waiting for their time to shine include Tuskarr (who rolls allies in a snowball towards an enemy unit and launches victims into their air with a Walrus Punch), Tauren Chieftain (whose ancestral spirit mirrors his movements), Goblin Techies (who deploy invisible traps and can commit suicide dealing massive area damage), Bristleback (who, disgustingly, can cover an enemy in snot) and the Legion Commander (who can call in an enemy hero for a duel, disabling abilities and forcing them to only attack each other).

Who do you want to see Valve add next? Tell us in the comments below.
PC Gamer
Bridge Project

Having retired from world-saving heroics, Christopher Livingston is living the simple life in video games by playing a series of down-to-earth simulations. This week he takes a job as a bridge planner, but will he wind up building bridges or just burning them?

Bridge Project has maps, and those maps have gaps, and those gaps need something that unfortunately doesn't rhyme with maps or gaps: bridges! There are essentially three stages to Bridge Project:

Planning, where you stare at the map and think, "Huh, this doesn't look so hard."
Building, where you click on the map and think, "Huh, this doesn't seem so hard."
Testing, where your bridge explodes.

I start with a city map, where I need to build a small bridge across a narrow river, which doesn't look so hard. I click and drag some wood from left to right, filling in the gap, which doesn't seem so hard. I click the test button, and watch as my wooden platform immediately collapses into the water below.

Huh. I see this simulation has cleverly included physics. Well played, video game. Forcing me to build with non-magical wood that doesn't just float in the air when I stick it there, eh? I take another crack at it, this time trying to hold up my bridge using cables. Somehow, this makes my bridge collapse even faster.

Okay! Clearly, I need more of a secure structure on top. I add some wooden beams, crisscrossing them to support the road, and then crisscrossing them again to support each other. When I run out of wood, I start using iron beams. When I run out of iron beams, I start using cables again. When I've run out of everything, I assume that means I have built the most stable and secure and awesome bridge ever. That's how professionals design bridges, right? Just take a giant pile of materials and cram them together haphazardly until there's nothing left?

The cables lose tension, the wood crackles, the iron groans, but my bridge doesn't collapse in a big splintery pile in the water. Sure, it's ugly as hell, but it serves several functions. First, terrorist bombers looking for a tasty target will assume it's already been hit. Suicidal jumpers will take one look and decide they'd rather kill me than themselves. And, as an added bonus, cars can actually drive across it without it falling apart, as I discover when the game runs tests on the bridge by sending across some automobiles and a couple buses. My job here is done, provided my job was "Construct Needlessly Huge Shuddering Eyesore."

I move on to a new map in another city unwise enough to hire me. This time, I use iron girders and cables to construct a bridge across four lanes of traffic. Amazingly, it doesn't fall over, even as the game tests it with several buses and an earthquake. Okay, part of it falls over. I would say... a fair amount of it falls over. But most of it doesn't! Plus, as you can see below, I've cleverly placed the bridge's supports directly in the traffic lanes below, meaning I'm encouraging visitors and tourists to admire the majesty of the bridge as they fly through the windshields of their ruined cars. You're welcome, unnamed city!

I should point this out: one of the best features of Bridge Project is that in addition to the prescribed tests for each bridge, you can also run your own manual tests. So, even if you build a simple wooden bridge on a rural map that only needs to withstand a few three-ton buses...

...you can still enjoy a pleasant wave of wanton destruction when you decide to test it for a hundred-ton train.

If trains aren't your thing, run a half-dozen military tanks across your bridge, or subject it to earthquakes or hurricanes. And why even wait until your bridge is complete before you start testing it? I mean, how do you even know this town needs to spend millions of dollars on a bridge unless you test the situation out first?

Okay, I think they might genuinely need a bridge.

Another note: even if your bridge collapses during a test, you can just go back into edit mode and it's made whole again, allowing you to tinker with and improve your design rather than build it over from scratch. This means that despite my constant failings, I never really get discouraged. Heck, failing is actually a lot of fun. In fact, why don't we dispense with the screenshots and enjoy two and a half minutes of my bridges failing on video! (Though I consider the final clip less of a failure and more of a creative success.)

Something else worth pointing out: three days after buying Bridge Project, I'm still playing it, which is unusual for this column, as you may have noticed. Also, I am actually getting better at building bridges as I play. I finally figured out how bridge pistons work: I'd been placing them under the bridge, trying to lift the entire structure up, instead of just lifting a portion so the boat can pass underneath. Also, it helps if you unlock the joints so the portion of the bridge can actually, you know, be lifted.

Though they'll never be tourist attractions or make an appearance on a postcard, my bridges start working, inasmuch as they don't immediately collapse when driven on. I'm getting the hang of suspension bridges, too, and I've probably unlocked about 40 of the 48 maps the game comes with. A couple of mt bridges even look sort-of-almost-kinda nice.

Conclusion: I am a bridge builder! A terrible one, but still, I haven't enjoyed being this terrible at a game in a long time. There's also an expert mode which I have not tried for obvious reasons, a map editor for creating your own levels, and a real-time stress analysis feature that turns the portions of your bridge bright red if they are under undue pressure, allowing you to easily spot your bridge's Achilles heel, or in my case, Achilles heel, elbow, wrist, femur, ribcage and spine:

You should be a bridge builder too. I definitely recommend you give Bridge Project a try. There's a demo that gives you a handful of maps to play with; the full version is $20. Worth it!
PC Gamer

Minecraft will soon be coming to David Braben's clever £30 computer, the Raspberry Pi. The game will be a port of the Pocket Edition, but will come with a few new features which dovetail with the Pi's educational remit, allowing you to crack open the game code and manipulate Minecraft itself.

Announced today in the midst of a wonderfully chaotic Minecon 2012, the project aims to add further encouragement to people looking to pick up some programming skills.

Demonstrating this on stage, Mojang's Daniel Frisk wrote out some simple code that immediately conjured giant words to appear in the Minecraft level on screen. No doubt there are even more dramatic possibilities waiting to be explored by inquisitive minds.

It'll support multiple programming languages and be completely free. It's not available for download yet, so it's wise to keep an eye on Mojang's blog for the latest details.
PC Gamer
wot my little pony

I was surprised enough to see a World of Tanks advert on primetime UK telly, but thanks to this latest WoT development my face is now perma-frozen in shock, like those poor unfortunate souls out of Ring. PCGamesN bring news that someone has made a My Little Pony mod for World of Tanks. Well, actually it's a number of existing mods bundled together into a whopping 5-6gb collection that adds pony skins and decals, among other things. Full, terrifying details here.

Together, the mods form a complete overhaul of the game, replacing standard voices with shrill pony ones, and stuffing rainbows into every available crevice. It's almost cute, and kind of funny, until you remember about bronies and you never, ever stop screaming. There's an exhaustive forum post courtesy of creator RelicShadow, which details the included mods, and will guide you through the installation process, if you fancy ponying up. The mod itself can be begotten here.

The following video, of one of the mods, should give you an idea of what to expect.

PC Gamer
super shock bundle

If you can tear yourselves away from the Steam sale counter for just a minute, we bring news of a different sort of countdown, for the perhaps aptly named Super Shock Bundle. You're probably rolling your eyes right now at the presence of yet another indie bundle, but here's why you should consider rolling them back, as painful as that might be: the Super Shock Bundle will feature thirteen games, including VVVVVV, Home, Thirty Flights of Loving, Probability 0 and Cortex Command. The other thing to consider is that the offer's only open for seven of your Earth hours, starting today at 5PM UK time (that's 12PM Eastern Standard Time).

The site itself shows only a counter and thirteen question marks, but there's details of the actual games featured here. The list was originally going to include Hotline Miami and Pid, but last minute changes mean they've had to be replaced. Still, thirteen games for $12.99 (couldn't they have just rounded it up to $13?) is nothing to sniff at. Here's the full list:

Deepak Fights Robots
Little Gardens
Puzzle Bots
Starseed Pilgrim
Probability 0
Captain Foraxian
Cortex Command
Thirty Flights of Loving
Offspring Fling

Moreover, each game will be DRM free, and come bundled with a Steam key, where applicable. If that's not enough indie sales news (this seems to be the weekend for it), GamersGate have launched their own series of countdown bundles leading up to Christmas, the first offering Aeon Command, Space Pirates and Zombies, Gentrieve 2 and Waveform for £2.50.

Also of note: Jonas Kyratzes' dreamlike adventure game The Sea Will Claim Everything is on special offer, with an oddly specific 42% being shaved off the asking price. That makes it £3.75 in old money.