PC Gamer
Guild Wars 2 Flame & Frost

According to ArenaNet, the latest Guild Wars 2 patch - Flame & Frost Prelude - sees the birth of the game's new "living story". It's small, pink and wriggly at the moment, but the developers plan for it to grow over many updates into a tale that could result in dramatic changes to the world of Tyria. A post on the ArenaNet blog explains the Living Story team's plan.

"The job of the Living Story team is to bring the world to life," writes narrative designer Angel McCoy. "On an ongoing basis, we’ll spin out story threads that will introduce you to new heroic characters, mysterious plot twists, and dramatic moments that affect the world."

With Flame & Frost, that story is only being hinted at. "You can participate by volunteering to help the refugees streaming down from the Shiverpeaks in both the Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau. These refugees have lost their homes and their loved ones. They’re arriving in the Black Citadel and Hoelbrak with little more than the clothes and battered armor on their backs."

McCoy claims that each portion of the story will be available for a limited period of time, but will have a repercussions on the world. "The Living Story is simultaneously transitory and permanent. As the story arcs play out, the tale evolves." To ensure you don't miss out on anything, a new Living Story Achievements category will guide you to the relevant characters and locations.

"Story arcs will play out over time. You won’t necessarily know how long an arc is, and some could take months to fully unfold. We’re weaving many plot threads together to make one big cohesive world, a river of story, a living world."

Thanks, Massively.
PC Gamer
"It's just a flesh wound!"
"It's just a flesh wound!"

The latest patch for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare may not add anything as grand and regal as Brian Blessed, but developer Torn Banner understands what fans of the online dismemberment simulator really want: bludgeonings. Along with two modes and 13 maps, this huge content update brings a selection of brutal new weapons, including polehammers, flails and heavy flails. Things are going to get messy.

It's a massive amount of new content, all provided completely free. New modes include Capture the Flag and a Duel Mode, which comes with 10 arenas for your 1v1 grudge matches. There's also a full compliment of tweaks, bug fixes, added polish, stronger anti-hack measures and an option to specify how long corpses litter the battlefield. Well, you want to take pride in your work, after all.

Full patch list here, or you can watch a video tour of the update's new features below.

PC Gamer
Steam Logo Thumbnail

The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) is suing Valve over Steam's refusal to let users resell their games. According to Carola Elbrecht, the VZVB's project manager for digital consumer rights, Steam users should be given the same rights as owners of traditional board games - allowed to sell their used copies on at will.

The VZVB's complaint is that purchased games are tied to a user's Steam account, with no option to transfer the license to a third-party. The organisation also notes that, for those games that use Steamworks, it makes no difference whether a game was purchased online or as physical media, as either way the game is locked to a Steam account on installation.

The lawsuit follows a cease-and-desist order the company issued to Valve back in September. That action was prompted by not only the resale issue, but also in response to the updated Steam Subscriber Agreement, which prohibited class-action suits against the company.

The consumer group have attempted to sue Valve over game reselling before, but the case was dismissed by the German Federal Court of Justice in 2010. However, back in July, the The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the trading of "used" software licenses was legal, and the VZVB are hoping that this lends credence to their case.

Of course, Valve aren't alone in this practice. No digital distributor offers the option to sell on your used licenses to a third-party. Elbrecht says that, while Valve are the target, the suit is meant to serve as a signal to other distributors that operate the same way.

Thanks, PC Advisor (via Slashdot)
PC Gamer
Aliens Colonial Marines preview

After many years growing in its slimy cocoon, Aliens: Colonial Marines will finally come out on February 12. Though Gearbox hasn't talked about post-launch DLC plans, a ping on Polygon's motion tracker shows a $30 Season Pass for the incoming FPS lurking on GameStop's digital storefront.

According to the listing, the Pass provides a single price at a 33 percent discount for four DLC packs releasing in March and through summer. The add-ons offer "campaign content, additional multiplayer maps, new modes, character customization, and more."

Seeing as Gearbox already uses a similarly structured Season Pass system for Borderlands 2, it's no surprise Colonial Marines is following suit. What's more surprising is having your face eaten off by a player-controlled xeno popping out of nowhere in the multiplayer, which you can read all about in our preview and watch in the trailer below.

PC Gamer

Octodad, a physics-based adventure by indie group Young Horses released in 2010, is about an octopus disguising himself as a human male. Let the brilliance of such a concept sink in for a moment. The student project slowly picked up media attention, and now in an official blog post, programmer Kevin Geisler has described the timeline of the adorably clumsy cephalopod's rise to fame.

Geisler notes larger events such as the Games Developer Conference and Independent Games Festival actually contributed less exposure than simple word-of-mouth from gamers and press sites. A two-sentence tip from the Ctrl+Alt+Del webcomic granted the first spike in 2010, and a bundle of YouTube gameplay videos picked up the pace shortly thereafter. Geisler highlighted Cr1tikal's early playthrough in particular, which racked up over 1.5 million views.

Frankly, I can't get enough of a cheery octopus perfectly convinced of his disguise as he crashes into everything not bolted down, which is why I'm looking forward to the sequel, Octodad: Daliest Catch, coming out sometime this year.

Check out the rest of Geisler's overview on Young Horses' journal.
PC Gamer
Castle Doctrine

Back in October, Sleep is Death and Passage creator Jason Rohrer revealed The Castle Doctrine, "a massively multiplayer game of burglary and home defense." Though the prizes you'll pilfer sit in homes owned by players, you'll never know who you're burgling or who you're getting burgled by. Speaking to RPS, Rohrer stated all thefts in Doctrine are intentionally anonymous to send a message.

"When you leave your home, when you go to sleep at night, log out of the game, or you go out of your house to go rob somebody else's house, then your house is open to being robbed by somebody else while you're not there," Rohrer said. "Then you return to your house to see the results of that robbery."

Rohrer wants to underscore the kind of disruption an identity-less thief causes when intruding upon someone else's life, no matter his or her background. "I’m breaking into somebody’s house and I don’t know if it’s a teenage kid, an elderly woman, or a little girl who owns the house in real life," he explained. "Someone’s put work into this house, y’know? Someone’s amassed this collection of stuff that they’ve spent a lot of time on, and when we violate it we’re actually doing harm to a person in a real way. The moral ambiguity of the whole thing is at the core of what the game is about."

As a rather morbid method for encouraging emergent scenarios, players can house a wife and child in their homes and try to protect them from fellow encroachers while targeting someone else's family. "They're not controlled by anybody else," Rohrer said. "You want to protect them because they're unique. If they get killed, they're gone forever and you'll miss them, right?" Heavy.

Check out the rest of Rohrer's interview on RPS.
PC Gamer
Indie Royale Evolved Bundle

The first half of the Indie Royale Evolved Bundle's name sounds like a gourmet, locally-grown hamburger. Look elsewhere if you're hungry for food, but if you're hungry for five DRM-free indie games, the bundle is selling at a fluctuating minimum that's currently sitting at $5.35.

Included are Uncanny Games' tree-growing platformer OIO, Tale of Tales' imaginative spook-fest The Path, Fatshark's loot-crazy RPG Krater, Turtle Cream's colorful Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory, and Talawa Games' side-scroller Unmechanical.

As a bonus for paying $8 or more, you'll also get the first volume of Slipstream, a collection of remixed and remastered tracks from Wipeout and Wipeout 2097 by original artist Tim Wright. That's definitely a sweeter deal than any fancy-sounding burger.

Head over to the Indie Royale Evolved Bundle's site for more info.
PC Gamer
Dead Space 3 derelict

It's bedlam in Dead Space 3. Besides magical space rocks driving everyone crazy, we have to contend with freaking out our buddies with fits of hysteria and ex-Genesis drummers. And, as this latest trailer for Visceral's survival-shooter shows, our reasons for descending to Tau Volantis go out the airlock the moment the first squelching croak is heard from a Necromorph abomination.

Also, getting shoved down the stinking gullet of a giant pile of flesh and tentacles is a perfect opportunity for hero Isaac Clarke to reflect on the life choices he's made to reach this point.

Dead Space 3 is out on February 5. We don't yet know how it'll run on PC, but don't expect much in the way of platform-specific features.
Jan 31, 2013
PC Gamer
Antichamber Screenshot 5

Review by David Valjalo

Unlike Portal, there’s no test-subject narrative behind Antichamber, an austerely intellectual first-person puzzler from indie dev Alexander Bruce - but that doesn’t mean you aren’t under the microscope. As you wander the blinding white corridors of a space-bending facility, unpicking the cryptic clues within, you’re encouraged to think that your own psychological state is the real barrier to progress in the game’s interweaving, claustrophobic tunnels.

Wall-mounted plaques punctuate each new area and challenge, delivering existential wisdom of a seemingly glib kind. "The path of least resistance is a valid option," says one. Another reads: "A few steps backwards may keep you moving forwards." But these are also crucial hints, some a good deal more opaque than they first appear, to puzzles which intentionally avoid conformity. One challenge might simply task you with following signs to the exit, another may secretly encourage you to ignore them, while others play with space and perspective in ways which defy traditional game logic: walk up to a window, fill your monitor with the world inside and, like magic, you’re in it.

The first section of the game is a breathless parade of new ideas that approach puzzling laterally, forcing you to muddle your way past non-euclidian geometry and other brain-bending architecture. The latter half introduces more traditional mechanics in the form of four handheld gun-things that fill in voids, pick up and shoot blocks, and clear matter out of your way. Even though these tools offer new methods of traversing earlier environments, it’s a somewhat anticlimactic transition from the relentless invention of the game’s opening - but that doesn’t make the tests here any less agonising to fathom or a triumph to conquer.

When you nail a solution - often best achieved by taking a time-out and drinking a cup of tea, very calmly, as your nails grow back - you feel like a cross between Hercule Poirot and Socrates. Hercules, if you will. That said, there are some puzzles in here guilty of simple obscurity, and this undermines the satisfaction of their completion as well as throwing off the pace of the game. Luckily a hub room (instantly accessible by a tap of ESC) allows re-entry to any of the game's main areas, alleviating the need to pummel yourself against the same puzzle, and allowing you to re-evaluate the messages you've encountered so far.

For some, Antichamber may prove a little draining. It's a title that aspires to challenge your way of thinking and problem-solving and it’s a slightly chilly and solitary experience with it. If that doesn't sound like much fun - there are certainly times it isn't - that's likely part of Bruce's point, suggesting life is a struggle in which you get out what you put in. But Antichamber isn’t all earnest chin-stroking theory - it also hosts moments of transcendent beauty and vignettes that engage your brain on a level few games attempt.

Price: $20 / £12.50
Release: Out Now
Publisher: Alexander Bruce
Developer: Alexander Bruce
Website: http://www.antichamber-game.com/

PC Gamer
Somewhere 2

Somewhere is an abstract first-person exploration game created by Indian indie team, Oleomingus. You manipulate gravity to traverse the undulating, angular landscape on a quest to discover the whereabouts of a missing person. As you travel, you encounter invisible spirits with their own internal monologues. You can possess them and learn more about the world through their commentary and conversations they have with other characters.

It sure looks unusual, but this isn't an exercise in arbitrary fantasy imagery. Somewhere will attempt to represent the enmeshed perspectives of an entire community. Lead developer, Dhruv, was inspired by the people he met studying a series of insular fishing towns on the West coast of India. Those psychedelic shapes you see in the shot above are abstractions of fauna and architecture from the region. The developers have woven those inspirations into a story set in the early '50s, in the aftermath of India's declaration of independence from British colonial rule. I called up Dhruv to find out more.

The "where" in Somewhere is a fictional place called Kayamgadh, an amalgamation of characters and experiences recorded from populations in and around the West Indian towns of Bordi, Daman and Nargol. "We were doing a small ethnographics survey over there and I was mapping the place," Dhruv explained. "We entered the community and started talking to them. We stayed for about fifteen days. At the end of the whole process of getting to know everybody I wanted to take the whole idea of a complex community and put it into an interactive medium. We started experimenting with using Unity."

Somewhere is both an artistic and journalistic endeavour. Stories recorded from these very private communities will make their way into the game. "We are actually going to the village, photographing it, talking to people there and trying to distil characters. There's a character in the game world, he's a barber, he has been staying there for about 20, 30 years inside the dump, he also has this secret stash of alcohol which he smuggles to the neighbours.

"We had these small, small characters detailed with their own individual stories that you'll start exploring once you are inside the game world. By listening to them talk to other characters, and by making your character talk to them."

The lurid colours and ambiguous forms of Somewhere's environments are designed to alienate. A straightforward representation of the communities that inspired Somewhere would be difficult and problematic, relying much on the designers' interpretations of local customs and events. There's a sense that an abstraction inspired by those communities can do more to evoke the character of a place than a direct photo-realistic recreation.

By way of example, Dhruv drew my attention to the twisting, tree-like forms in the screenshot above. "That is directly derived from Mangrove clusters that you find on the coastal towns," he explained. "They have all these crooked forms, absurd branches going around. But we removed the colour and the feel of the Mangrove cluster, which usually very dark and moist, and replaced it with a very absurd orange that you see in the screenshot."

This environmental alienation extends to your avatar's abilities, which are deliberately restrictive. You have freedom of movement, but you cannot converse directly with the characters. You can only initiate conversations while possessing a character, and then you have no control over the content or direction of what's discussed. You're never one of the people. You're a tourist attempting to appropriate a foreign community by slipping clumsily between voices. In this way Somewhere confronts the player with the limitations of a colonial perspective.

"What we are trying to do is create a very uncomfortable game world in some ways, create a very absurd space. The feelings about the game world should be that the player feels as though they are outside the game world always. You should not become one of the characters."

Somewhere unifies narrative and spatial exploration in a similar way to Dear Esther. Dhruv mentioned that thechineseroom's haunting exploration game provided plenty of inspiration. "I really like that game, it's fantastic! It's beautiful," he enthused.

"With Dear Esther they've retained control of the player. The player can only do certain things within the game, physically, whereas the storytelling is more random. The story keeps popping up several times, in a different order depending on where you are in the space. We are doing something similar, but we're giving complete control to the player to move around as he wants, but we take control of the storytelling. You cannot even listen to what he's replying, the person he's taking to, you can only listen to the person who's speaking."

Somewhere will be released for free on Oleomingus' site and their Indie DB page when it's done. They're also working on a recently Kickstarted turn based strategy called Oxygen, and are sketching out "a very peculiar gravity shooting arcade game." The team consists of Dhruv, a dedicated musician and a small group of part time programmers. I had one more question. Is Dhruv operating as part of a bustling indie scene in India, or are the team working alone?

"I know of one developer in a city close by, but I have not had any contact with them, they develop for the touch devices, I think. Other than that we are developing in a bubble," Dhruv laughed. "I don't know of anybody who does independent gaming. Explaining to people what we do is also very, very difficult."