Jun 30, 2012
Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

You've run out of new stories to read, listened to the latest episode of Weekend Confirmed, and still want more Shacknews? While these threads have expired, you can join thousands of other gamers as we discuss everything from videogame industry news to politics in the Chatty. Make sure you log-in and check your filters if you can't see the following:

Now that Dota 2 is confirmed as a free-to-play game, complete with an early access bundle anxious non-beta players can purchase, DM7 wants to know the best heroes to play for first time characters. Chatty, being the kings and queens of all things Dota 2, weigh-in with their selections. Alco23, a tad late to the party, drops some knowledge to the Chatty starting off with an article titled "Welcome to Dota, You Suck."

Doom 3 BFG is just over the horizon, but DarkDeus had a hankering to head to the depths of hell early. Using high-resolution textures and Sikkmod to update the visuals to modern standards, Doom 3 is looking mighty fine. Check out his screenshots in the Chatty thread. What do you think Doom 4 will look like? Rage? Whatever it is, let's hope there isn't a multiplayer horde mode. Stick to scarring me for life, please!

BioWare released the Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3 this week. Shackers at work took to their favorite video sites to watch the different endings, with Nitrium the first out of the gate. Given a bit of time to watch all of the endings, bradsh goes into some more detail discussing the finer points of the future of the universe. Did you play the Extended Cut DLC? Did you like the new endings?

gydot gets a bit of a surprise while playing through L.A. Noire this week in the Silk Stocking case, prompting a curious thread on 'shocking' games. The usual suspects all make appearances, including Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Quake 4. Nothing has quite scared me more than Resident Evil 2 on the Nintendo 64 when a Licker jumping through a one-way window came close to giving me a heart attack. We had the surround sound cranked up, lights off, and my parents were out for the evening. That scene still makes me cringe.

Need something to play this weekend? Pick any one of these titles, and you're sure to be entertained. tr0mblyj provides a rather large image featuring classics that shaped the PC gaming industry, including games like Duke Nukem 3D, Wasteland, Syndicate, and Day of the Tentacle. Now if I could manage to get Grim Fandango to work on a modern PC....

The Warp Zone

Welcome to The Warp Zone, where the posts are crazy and the lols don't matter.

Cats. They're everywhere. Sexpansion Pack finds an article that discusses how Google has a neural network of 16,000 computer processors that taught itself to recognize these felines on Youtube. Clearly, humanity as reached its apex. Next task is to identify political posts in Chatty and nuke them from orbit.

Hungry for pizza? You are now. Class is in session as the chefs of Chatty deliver their best home-made pizza making advice, all thanks to mancide. Did they miss anything? No, going to Little Caesar's for a Hot-N-Ready pizza instead doesn't count as a tip. Unless you want to deliver to me. Then maybe.

Start your weekend off with a gorgeous timelapse of the horizon with dodob. Maybe play some Explosions in the Sky, too.

The Euro 2012 Soccer Championships gave Finchypoo some fodder for a Tumblr site. Check it out; many laughs are in store. Check it out before you head to the thread by Wisp! discussing the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, or you might find yourself making similar expressions.

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

Shacknews receives a slew of new screenshots and trailers for upcoming games everyday. The most anticipated titles receive their own post, because we know you're eager to see that content. For the rest, we have the Daily Filter, a place to feature all of the media we add to our enormous database on a daily basis.

Today's Filter features a Last Sermon trailer for Darksiders II, the first gameplay trailer for Guardians of Middle-earth, and more.

Darksiders II

Guardians of Middle-earth

We also have a behind the scenes trailer for Inversion, and new screenshots for Persona 4 Arena, Of Orcs and Men, Company of Heroes 2, and Pokemon Black and White Version 2. Be sure to check out additional trailers and screenshots on each game page.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Level-5's gorgeous PS3-exclusive RPG, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, is one of my most anticipated games. I have a soft spot for pretty cel-shaded games--but a pretty cel-shaded Studio Ghibli game? Where do I sign up?

There must be other like-minded individuals. So of course, publisher Namco Bandai is readying a collector's edition to drain our wallets.

The "Wizard's Edition" of Ni no Kuni will be available on January 22nd, alongside the regular edition of the game. With a $100 price tag, this limited edition includes a 300+ page hardcover copy of the Wizard's Companion, the spell book Oliver uses throughout his journey. The book includes a bestiary of all the creatures found in the game, as well as descriptions of items, spell, and history. The Wizard's Edition also includes a plush doll of Drippy, Oliver's animated companion. There will also be DLC goodies as well: "golden mite" and "golden drongo" familiars. (We'll let you know what that means after reading the Wizard's Companion.)

Pre-orders of the Wizard's Edition are now available at Namco Bandai's online store.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Viz Media is launching an anime subscription service, targeting "connected video game consoles." Neon Alley promises to offer access to a library of uncut anime, including series like Naruto, Death Note, and Inuyasha. The collection will be rounded out with anime and martial arts movies. In addition to streaming in HD, Viz says that all content will be available with English dubs.

According to IGN, there will be tiered subscription offerings, starting at $6.99 a month with ads. While Viz has yet to announce which platform Neon Alley will debut on, it's safe to say that it will be on either PS3 or Xbox 360. However, is the lineup compelling enough for anime fans to bite? Especially when one considers the surprisingly robust anime offerings on Netflix and Hulu Plus?

Shacknews - Steve Watts

As far as marketing ironies go, leaking private information in effort of promoting a game about digital privacy concerns has to be high on the list. Such is the case with Watch Dogs, which has Ubisoft a bit red-faced after an effort to promote the game resulted in at least 1,000 fans having their e-mail addresses shared.

Kotaku reports that the problem arose from an alternate reality game (ARG) surrounding fictional art gallery owner Joseph Demarco. We saw his art gallery, dotconnexion, in the short gameplay demo. Today, the ARG revealed the death of Demarco, but sent the e-mail out directly instead of hiding them in the BCC line.

The e-mails were sent in sets of 500, alphabetically, and two groups have reported the mistake (A and B). Later letters don't suffer the same problem, so the error must have been caught in-progress.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Indie developer Tomorrow Corporation has announced its first game, titled Little Inferno. The game is still fairly mysterious, but Tomorrow Corporation says it felt comfortable revealing it now since the game is almost finished and ready for a winter release. The project is intriguing partly due to its pedigree: team members from Henry Hatsworth and World of Goo.

The Tomorrow Corporation site (via Joystiq) has become a design blog for the game as the company shares more info. The team includes Kyle Gabler and Allan Blomquist from World of Goo, and Kyle Gray from Hatsworth. So far, the developers have only given a single clue: "What would you most like to set on fire?"

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

Cloud gaming takes another step forward, as Gaikai moves onto the Chrome Box. Then, taking a page from Mario Kart Wii, Sony has detailed its own PlayStation Move steering wheel accessory. Finally, the creators of Angry Birds are making another game--one with a play, create, share feature. We take a look at Amazing Alex.

Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube. And, don't forget to subscribe to get the latest episodes as they go up.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The newly-release Spec Ops: The Line is on sale at $38 for PC this weekend, if you've dug the buzz and fancy picking it up. You'll also find digital distributors offering all of the Dragon Age games for $10, Civilization V's Gods & Kings expansion for $20, Skyrim for $40, big Warhammer 40,000 savings, and more lovely bargains.

Here's our selection of this weekend's PC deals:



Be Mine

Pay what you want for a bundle of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Oddworld: Avernum 4, 5 & 6, Hamilton's Great Adventure, Postal 2 Complete, Red Orchestra, and some music. Plus, Garshasp: The Monster Slayer if you pay more than $6. Most offer Steam keys, and some are available DRM-free too.


GamersGate's offerings include sales on EA and Square Enix games, with daily deals offering extra savings on certain titles, so you may want to hold off on their games to see if they're discounted further.


Get Games


GOG's Battle of the Games promo discounts two games every day, 60% off one and 40% off the other. Every day, you get to vote for the next day's discounts.


Green Man Gaming


Indie Gala

Pay what you want for Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty, and The Void. Beat the average price to score Air Conflicts: Secret Wars, Cargo! The Quest for Gravity, Commandos 2, Commandos 3 and Ion Assault too.


Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

John Sonedecker was a long-time part of a few Tom Clancy gaming franchises. A member of Red Storm Entertainment since its inception, Sonedecker worked on the original Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Rogue Spear. He left Red Storm shortly after it was acquired by Ubisoft, sensing a change of culture. After briefly spending time as part of a startup company, Sonedecker opted to go the indie development route, founding BlackFoot Studios in 2004 as one of the first game development studios in the state of Ohio. Finally, after eight years, Sonedecker has unveiled the company's first project.

Ground Branch brings back a sense of gameplay that has been missing from recent military-based shooters, one more akin to the original Ghost Recon, Sonedecker said. It's an online multiplayer shooter that promises to emphasize authenticity, a word that is more than a mere marketing phrase.

For Sonedecker, authenticity means doing away with several military FPS tropes. There is no regenerating health. Firearms are made unique and distinctive. Teams must operate as a cohesive unit. Map design is decidedly non-linear with randomized objectives and spawn points. Winning means players must work with teammates, adapt to unforeseen circumstances, and learn which weapon works best for their personal play style.

"Weapons behave as they should and are not artificially balanced," explains Sonedecker. "Ground Branch is about player choices and realistic consequences. Your skill and ingenuity will be what allows you to succeed. Ballistics will be modeled in a realistic way, because it makes the combat more interesting and fun. Projectiles will penetrate certain materials, lose velocity, et cetera. The player dictates their success and is not funneled into a certain way of playing by a forced game mechanic."

To put Ground Branch in perspective, don't expect another summer blockbuster-style military FPS like Call of Duty or the current line of Tom Clancy games. However, just because BlackFoot is aiming for authenticity, it doesn't mean players should expect a game like ArmA. In fact, Sonedecker details the differences between his upcoming game and Bohemia Interactive's military title -- the main one being BlackFoot's approach to Special Forces infantry combat.

"ArmA is a great platform for modeling 'War' as a whole," said Sonedecker. "Bohemia Interactive attempts to model multiple military branches and supports things like armored combat, aerial battles and infantry combat. While it's cool to support all of that, some would argue that certain aspects of that whole suffer as a result. Personally, while I purchase and enjoy those games to some degree, I've always been frustrated by the 'clunky' nature of the first-person infantry experience. The controls never felt like they were all that they could be, and shooting a weapon never really felt like a violent action. Ground Branch focuses on delivering an immersive and believable infantry experience. We are specifically modeling a Special Forces branch of the military that sort of gets to operate outside of the typical Military Regiment. This allows us to ignore things like a 'class system' and pre-defined loadouts or kits, allowing the players to make their own decisions amongst their teams. Also, our levels are individually crafted, 100 percent from scratch with no copy-and-paste towns. This is extremely important in a game of this type, as players will be able to communicate using unique landmark features."

In another effort to set itself apart from the competition, Ground Branch also does away with unlockables and the level system. Sonedecker attributes this idea to eliminating the "trophy hunt" mentality of other military FPS titles, which leads to a reduced emphasis on teamwork. He also points out that games like Quake, Half-Life, and the original Ghost Recon used to be played solely for fun. "The current climate of game development fits right into the notion of a new release every year and the unlock system is the carrot that keeps people buying so they can start the chase all over again," he said. "We want to give the player an even playing field right from the start and to let the gameplay speak for itself. Ground Branch will be supported for a long time. We are not interested in spitting out a new rehashed version for $60 every year."

While BlackFoot will aim to support Ground Branch in the future, the door has also been opened to the PC modding community. The game's Kickstarter page promises full modding support, which falls in line with Sonedecker's feelings on PC mods.

"Modding is the lifeblood of a PC game that aims for longevity and community support," said Sonedecker. "I was a very big supporter of modding while at Red Storm, championing the release of the mod tools. I won't lie -- mods help sell more copies of a game. Just look at DayZ for ArmA II. But more importantly, it allows us to have a greater connection with our communities. It makes people have more of an investment in the game than just a regular consumer. It also allows more interesting and diverse things to be explored than we could ever accomplish on our own. One thing about using Unreal Engine 3 is that it includes an awesome set of tools and those tools will be available at release time. This allows modding of maps, weapons, characters and anything else you can think of. We have also worked hard to make a lot of the less complex modding tasks (like making a new weapon) more accessible by making them almost 100 percent content driven. So no more learning UnrealScript just to make a new weapon. It's all done in the editor. We want to make modding fun and part of the Ground Branch experience."

Sonedecker even offers up some modding suggestions. He notes that vehicle combat will not be a part of the main Ground Branch game, since it focuses mainly on infantry combat. However, he notes that the basic script setups for creating land, air, and sea-based vehicles will be left in the game's code. Intrepid modders can use any of these available scripts to create vehicles for any Ground Branch mods.

Ground Branch currently has a Kickstarter in progress, but they are less than a quarter of the way to their $425,000 goal with only eight days to go. If the campaign is a success, Sonedecker hopes to have the game ready for PC and Mac in August 2013, though the possibility for a console release remains on the table. "We would like to do console versions at some point as well, but that requires a lot more money and resources and beyond our scope for now. Maybe if Ground Branch sells well initially."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Summer tends to slow down for game releases, making it a good time to catch up with ones you may have missed. If you're looking for a few on the cheap, the PlayStation Network "Summer Sale" kicks off next Tuesday, giving a 30% discount on several games for a full week. If you're a PlayStation Plus member, you'll get a 50% discount.

The discounts last from the time the PlayStation Store updates next Tuesday, July 3, through Monday, July 9. The list is pretty long, so you probably have good odds of finding a game. Check out the line-up below to plan your purchases:

  • Gotham City Impostors - $10.49 ($7.34)

  • NBA Jam: On Fire Edition - $10.49 ($7.34)

  • Shadow of the Colossus - $13.99 ($9.79)

  • Infamous Festival of Blood - $6.99 ($4.89)

  • Crysis - $13.99 ($9.79)

  • Killzone 3 Multiplayer - $10.49 ($7.34)

  • Closure - $10.49 ($7.34)

  • Jurassic Park The Game Full Season - $13.99 ($9.79)

  • Worms Ultimate Mayhem - $10.49 ($7.34)

  • The House of the Dead III - $4.89 ($3.42)

  • Real Steel - $6.99 ($4.89)


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