Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Nathan Grayson)

Here at RPS, we’re not often in the business of reporting rumors, but this one’s too much of a doozy to leave inside the colossal organic womb ship from which all rumors are born. Prey 2‘s been MIA since time immemorial, with various rumblings of strikes, stall outs, and near-cancellation the only things even vaguely resembling a warm trail for us to follow. Now, however, according to Kotaku and Prey 2 fansite Alien Noire, Dishonored developer Arkane has – allegedly somewhat reluctantly – taken the reigns. THE PLOT THICKENS. Watch it ooze and burble after the break.


PC Gamer
Fallout: New Vegas mod Project Brazil

Project Brazil, a mod project for Fallout: New Vegas, is the type of labor of love that makes the PC modding community a very special thing. The mod features a new Fallout 3-size map, a new vault, an original cast and 5,000 lines of professional quality dialog from over 20 actors. Creator Brandon Lee headed a small team of dedicated die-hards who spent four years building an unofficial sequel so they could release it into the great big internet for absolutely free.
The game is set in the secluded Vault 18 near the San Bernardino mountains sometime after the events of Fallout 2. Vault 18 has managed to stay out of the war until a prominent member of the vault community is revealed as a member of the Enclave, and the entire vault erupts into civil war.

Released in three installments, the first of which drops tomorrow on NexusMods, Project Brazil focuses a lot on what Lee calls Black Isle-style character-driven content. “We really focused on your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats with our own internal Fallout: Project Brazil philosophy, and those 7 stats really show up everywhere, especially in dialogue options,” Lee writes in the Nexus Mod writeup. “Your skills largely affect things like combat, crafting, healing, but we took the "speech" skill, and made it exclusively a skill that affect things like standing at a podium and delivering a legit speech to an audience, and how high your speech skill is will determine if a small army or group will help you, and how much they're willing to sacrifice.”

Episode 1 will take about three hours to complete and about seven hours to completely explore. The only thing required for installation is a vanilla copy of Fallout: New Vegas. Watch the Nexus Mod page for release sometime tomorrow.
PC Gamer
Harvey Smith - Headshot

With games including Dishonored and Deus Ex under his belt, Arkane Studios' Harvey Smith knows a thing or four hundred about storytelling. In April he published his first novel, Big Jack is Dead, and if you download it before tomorrow, you can enjoy it for free (the link goes to the US store and will not work outside the US, but you can download the book from the Amazon store in your region).
The story revolves around Jack Hickman, an "antisocial software exec" who finds out during the middle of a corporate meeting that his father has killed himself. Although it's primarily a work of fiction, parts of Harvey Smith's Southern Gothic novel are pulled almost directly from Smith's own tumultuous personal history, including his own father's suicide and the overdose of Smith's mother on drugs.
Don't have a Kindle? No problem, just download the Kindle app for iOS and Android or use Amazon's Cloud Reader.
Product Update - Valve
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has just been updated.

This update includes the following:

- Russian language
- Czech language
- Polish language

to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire, and
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn on Steam.

PC Gamer

Obsidian's Feargus Urquhart recently spoke at a GDC Russia panel entitled "The decline of the gaming industry as we know it—is there a way out?" While he cast doubt on the notion that huge, console-focused, "AAA" titles are going anywhere, he declared them "not relevant for the development community as a whole." The inflated budgets and team sizes required to make such titles, he cautioned, can also be detrimental to the creative process.

"Trying to manage a team of 1,000 people, I think is just crazy... and it costs a ton of money," Urquhart said of the model used to produce games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. "The result of that is we get fewer games. And I just don't think that that's good. It means we're going to get less innovations... No one wants to try new things. Because if you're going to go spend $100 million, $200 million on a game, it has to make its money back."

Urquhart revealed that some games we think of as AAA actually cost significantly less—Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas were called out specifically—due to a different development philosophy. He also stressed that better tools allow high quality games to be made for less money, and that the big publisher model is ultimately something that will remain restricted to a very small percentage of studios going forward.

"I question the relevance of AAA," he said. "AAA is not relevant for the development community as a whole, unless you want to go work on a team of 300 people, 400 people, and you want to make five specific games."

You can check out the full video above (though it's mostly in Russian). Obsidian's own Project Eternity became one of the most successful Kickstarted games ever last year, bringing in well over $4 million. While impressive, it's only a small fraction of the budgets for titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic, which was rumored to have cost as much as $300 million. This all seems to serve as an apt illustration of Urquhart's point: the games that get the most attention are often made by a very small percentage of studios working with wildly unusual development resources.
PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online remains a big question mark in the eyes of a lot of Elder Scrolls fans. How will the immersive, interactive world of Skyrim and Oblivion translate to an always-online multiplayer experience without losing their character?
After all, one of the great things about the Elder Scrolls games has always been the permanent consequences of your actions. Kill a named character and they (usually) stay dead; roll 5,000 sweet rolls down a cliff and they’ll just sit at the bottom.

The Elder Scrolls Online released a video today that answers some of these questions. In it, the player can be seen looting food and small items from crates on the dockside and risking the wrath of the gods by stealing bread straight off an altar. Have you no shame, player?

“It’s not just useless stuff,” Creative Director Paul Sage says in a voice over. “Right now you can take any one of these items that you find and it’s going to be part of a recipe. It’s going to be part of our crafting system. Yes, you’ll go out into the world and you’ll explore and you’ll find plants and many of the other things that you expect, but it all starts right in town.”

Like so many parts of the gameplay transition from single-player to MMO, the daedra will be in the details. If any crate can give crafting materials, how long until every crate in town has been picked clean by other players? If the items restock, doesn’t that bring players back to the feeling that they’re running on a treadmill?

The Elder Scrolls Online is currently in closed beta testing. It should be released sometime this year.
PC Gamer
FalloutNV 2013-05-15 11-43-32-40

We've heard a lot of numbers thrown around relating to game piracy—everyone from the ESA to Crytek has put figures out there, usually suggesting that the problem is larger than we might think. An academic paper published recently tells a different story, however. Using state of the art BitTorrent tracking software, the new data obtained has led Aalborg University researcher Anders Drachen to conclude: "the numbers in our investigation suggest that previously reported magnitudes in game piracy are too high."

The study was conducted over three months, beginning in late 2010 and concluding in early 2011. During that time, about 12.6 million unique peers were identified pirating games. The most pirated title was Fallout: New Vegas, with 967,793 downloads. That's a lot, but the overall piracy rate still falls well below past reports. Perhaps owing to the window of the study, RPGs were easily the most pirated genre, followed by the somewhat vague "Action-Adventure" (a category that included Darksiders and The Force Unleashed 2). 37 percent of the pirated games were M-rated, and a strong correlation was identified between Metacritic score and how often a game was pirated.

Of course, a three-month period may not represent the lifetime piracy rate for a game. The study is also quick to point out that it was not aiming to speculate on how pirated copies translate in terms of lost sales. You can read the full report for yourself here, and Wired has broken down the methods used to obtain the data in a more digestible format.
Product Release - Valve
Dishonored - Void Walker Arsenal, all new content for Dishonored is Now Available on Steam.

The gifts of the Outsider are bestowed unto those who walk the Void.

With the Void Walker’s Arsenal add-on pack, gain immediate access to four content bundles previously available only through pre-ordering Dishonored. The Acrobatic Killer Pack, Arcane Assassin Pack, Backstreet Butcher Pack and Shadow Rat Pack offer unique character bonuses, additional bone charm slots, unhidden books and bonus coins that will aid you in your pursuit of revenge. Found in the Hound Pits Pub, use these items to enhance your playthrough of Corvo’s main campaign in the original game.

PC Gamer
civ v defeated

I've never played a game of Civilization V from the Ancient Era to the Modern Era. I start out intending to, but then there are no fish or whales off the coast of my starting territory, and Gandhi builds the Great Wall before I can, and Dido founds a city near the inlet where I was planning to put a city, and it's the worst thing that has ever happened to me so I start over.

Here's another confession: after 40 hours of Skyrim, I haven't completed more than a few main storyline quests. Instead, I've created character after character, because I’m indecisive and terrified of commitment.

If you're a serial restarter too, let's work on it together with some help from one of the internet's most plentiful resources: banal relationship advice. By slightly reworking advice for the romantically cold-footed, I've developed a plan to help us stop starting over.

Get over the honeymoon phase

I love the initial exploration and discovery in Civ V, and designing RPG characters is my favorite part of playing RPGs, because I become obsessed with the idea of what’s ahead of me; all the potential scenarios I can imagine.

And then it starts getting serious. Oh no. I'm doing more work but I'm getting fewer rewards, and shockingly, the game hasn't molded itself to my imagination’s grand specifications. My glorious naval empire turns out to be a few coastal cities and some boats. My cunning thief is a mute skeleton murderer. My space pirate is mining space rocks. And none of those things ever want to cuddle anymore.

...Except my EVE Online character, maybe.

My fantasies gives way to actual game mechanics. It becomes a Serious Relationship, and it's harder, but ultimately more rewarding. That initial passion is nice, but it doesn't compare to the stories I get from a long-term relationship, when I actually start to care about a character's progression.

So don't be afraid to care. It leaves you open to be hurt—like, say, when an unmet civilization builds the Great Lighthouse first or when an actual pirate suicide ganks you—but that's OK. You can raze their cities and starbases later.

Stop dating playing as the same character
This may be my biggest problem: I almost always choose rogue, thief, or some analogue in RPGs, and I’ve built this concept map in my head of all the things they should be. No one game can deliver all those things, and my disappointment leads to futile re-rolling. As long as I don't get too far, I can't be disappointed, right?

There's an easy solution: don’t keep playing the same character hoping they’ll be a more perfect version of the last. When I try a warrior or mage class, I’m more willing to let the game inform what I can and can’t do, because I haven’t built such a rigid ideal. In Civilization, where I love seafaring nations, my longest and most interesting game was played as landlocked Germans.

Let your characters be imperfect. Let them be who they are, because they will never be exactly who you want them to be.

I've had more fun as Mr. Purrface than with any of my "serious" character builds.

Don't use rough patches as an excuse to flee

When I contracted vampirism in Skyrim, I almost rowed against the current back to a previous save, but I'm so glad I went down that river instead (if not very far). Building a narrative as I go is always more rewarding than trying to overlay my ideal story, and that's especially the case when things don't go according to plan. Tragic stories are inherently interesting, and failure isn't something to undo. Remind yourself of that.

Note: In actual human relationships, contracting diseases should be avoided. Other than that, this analogy is perfect.

See a therapist—you have unresolved issues from your childhood

OK, this analogy isn't perfect. I may have coasted through my psychology elective, if you must know.

The point is: serial restarters are missing out. The goal of these games is to start down a path and react to its twists—to let it challenge us—but instead we're caught in a loop, trying to find a perfect path where there is none. If you identify with this problem, pit the brunt of your willpower against it by vowing to keep playing regardless of the outcome, or use in-game mechanics—XCOM's Ironman mode, for instance—to force your own hand.

From now on, I'm going to be a one-character man. Well, probably not, but I'm going to try.
PC Gamer
Skyrim 610x347

Blink over to GamersGate and you'll find a selection of Bethesda published and developed games, their prices magicked in half for this weekend by Baargan'an, Daedric lord of cheap stuff. From there you can... er... damn. I was going to crudely shoehorn in a Rage reference, but I can remember almost nothing about that game. Oh, it had John Goodman in it. Maybe there's something there?

Highlights include Dishonored and Skyrim at £7.49 each, and Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (the one with the added DLC bits) for £7.48.

Strangely, even the earlier non-Steamworks parts of their discounted catalogue, like Morrowind and Oblivion, require a Steam account to activate. It's unlikely to be a big deal for most, but it's worth bearing in mind if you don't want Rogue Warrior to Sulley your account.

"Sulley," get it? Because that was John Goodman's character in Monsters, Inc? Honestly, I don't know why I bother.

Head here for the full sale list.

Thanks, Joystiq.

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