Shacknews - Steve Watts

Gaming is generally an expensive hobby, but you can make it work on a budget if you search the right spots. The Humble Bundle 6, for example, opened the other day to offer six games for around six bucks. Since that clearly wasn't enough to tempt some hold-outs, today it added four more.

Today's new additions include Humble Bundle alums Bit.Trip Runner, Gratuitous Space Battles, and Jamestown, along with Wizorb making its Humble Bundle debut. Each game's soundtrack is also available.

These join Dustforce, Rochard, Shatter, Space Pirates and Zombies, Torchlight and Vessel, each with their own soundtracks as well, bringing the grand total up to ten games. The new additions are barred behind paying more than average, but the average as of the time of writing is less than six dollars. C'mon, cheapskate.

The bundle hit 220,000 purchases and $1.3 million in sales in its first week. You have one week remaining to grab a big bunch of indie games on the cheap.

PC Gamer
Gratuitous Space Battles

Fledgling space admirals can never have too many Flash Gordon effects and science-fiction noises. To that end, Positech Games has released a free update to its set-and-go tactical sim Gratuitous Space Battles adding direct unit control, shield shimmers, and shockwave ripples from explosions.

In the features video above, Space Battles designer and former shipwright Cliff Harris showcased how single units, squads, groups, and even individual weapons platforms receive order overrides alongside fire and movement commands. Although explaining direct control only works in single-player missions - campaign and online battles remain hands-off - Harris hopes the extra layer of control equates to stronger tactical options during a fracas.

And how about those shield and shockwave effects, huh? Both are carryovers from Positech's Gratuitous Tank Battles. Now, when my fleet spills its metal space-guts across its future nebula graveyard, I'll enjoy seeing my shields waver and shimmer under fire and my frigates distorting space as they blossom into spectacular fireballs.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Jim Rossignol)

The point of Gratuitous Space Battles was that it was a fleet manager, not an RTS. So while you watched the space battles play out, you didn’t actually influence them – you were the admiral who had designed the ships and decided upon the tactics. And that made the actual battles gratuitous in terms of the gameplay. That, however, is no longer necessarily true. Cliff from Positech has sent word that he’s continued fiddling with the game, and has released a free patch to allow players to get involved with the battle-action. Cliff says: “It’s only an ‘optional’ feature, and only works in single-player offline games, but from patch 1.60 (which is now live, steam copies will be updated soon), the player can select ships and issue movement and fire orders mid battle, and even edit the ‘standing’ orders for ships in the middle of an engagement.” There’s a video, which explains it in a bit more detail, below. (more…)

PC Gamer
Gratuitous Tank Battles review

Gratuitous Tank Battles is the result of experimentation with the tower defence genre, yielding a strategy game where you attack as much as entrench. Experimentation with units means players can make their own machines and turn them on their foes. And experimentation with AI means the computer can use your creations against you in an endless arms race of tanks, mechs and laser-toting Tommies.

Fittingly for a world where the Great War never ended, very few units will make it through: hundreds will die in a pointless bloodbath to gain just a few inches of ground. But GTB’s fields of death are thrilling to die on, over and over again. The key is asymmetry. Playing a map as the defender gives you a traditional tower defence game, where you plop down turrets and defensive forces to try to stem the incoming tide. Attacking is more like the ‘reverse’ tower defence of Anomaly: Warzone Earth – you decide the order and routes of your units in the hope of breaking through the cyber-Kaiser’s defences.

But what really makes both sides of this top-down strategiser stand out is the unit customisation. Much like Positech’s previous game, Gratuitous Space Battles, you build your own units. Pick a hull and add whatever weapons, armour and engines you desire. Trenches full of riflemen giving you trouble? Put together a heavily armoured flamethrower tank to smoke them out.

But there’s a catch: any unit you design can also be used by the game’s superb, adaptive AI. So that flame tank you treasured as an attacker is now a rolling fortress on the defence. A long-range laser turret will fry an enemy before he gets close, but next time out you’ll have to deploy some heavily shielded mecha-men to take it down. You’re forced into a continual arms race with yourself and, in keeping with the WW1 theme, one you can never quite win.

The campaign is a little on the short side with only a handful of official maps available, but you can browse an abundance of user-made missions. Budding Field Marshalls can edit maps and upload their forces online, custom units and all, for anyone to defend against. The ease with which these challenges can be shared and downloaded extends your playtime immeasurably.

More problematic is the game’s tendency to crash faster than a biplane over Belgium. Starting or finishing a map, as well as saving and deleting units, can potentially result in a short sharp trip to your desktop. You’ll rarely lose any significant progress this way, but it still makes for a frustrating experience.

But these are minor issues that continuous updates will fix, and they don’t take the shine off an otherwise excellent game. Gratuitous Tank Battles is both challenging and strategic, and the clever use of AI and customisation results in a successful bout of experimentation.

PC Gamer
Best of British Indie Bundle

As part of Steam's regularly awesome Midweek Madness sales, the Best of British Indie Bundle packages seven indie games crafted by the skilled folks across the pond. Lasting until 4pm PDT Thursday, the $10 deal provides a sampler of excellent strategy and action timesinks, including Introversion Software's DEFCON, Alex May and Rudolf Kremers' Eufloria, Mode 7's Frozen Synapse, Positech Games' Gratuitous Space Battles, Puppy Games' Revenge of the Titans, and a double-whammy finisher of Size Five Games' Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! The value-candy gets even sweeter as most of the included games (with the exception of Gratuitous Space Battles and Size Five's goods) carry Steam Achievements for your hunting pleasure in addition to saving nearly $70 in your still-recovering-from-Summer-Sale wallet.
Announcement - Valve
Some of the best-rated indie developers from Great Britain have come together to create the Best of British Indie Bundle during this week's Midweek Madness*!

This Bundle includes:*Offer ends Thursday at 4PM Pacific Time

Product Update - Valve
version 1.015
1) Updated the sound library
2) Fixed a bug in division management
3) Rebalanced 2 scenarios
Product Update - Valve
version 1.014
1) Added hint to make divisions if you have lots of units and have not created any yet.
2) Changed the way unit icons are created so they make more sense for long-barrelled guns.
3) Added new option to allow the game to auto-manage and update divisions for each type of unit.
4) Fixed bug where if you didn't restart the game, you kept unlocking the same unit.
5) Added support for colorblind mode.
Announcement - Valve
The Steam Summer Sale continues today with huge savings throughout the store!

Today's Daily Deals Include:

Don't forget to check back for a new Community Choice vote every 8 hours and new Flash sales throughout the day! You can also grab the Steam mobile app to make sure you never miss any great deals while you're on the go!

Complete information on all the savings, Flash Sales, Community Choice Votes and more may be found on

Product Update - Valve
version 1.013
1) Dog Tags and Supply Drops now come with explanatory tooltips.
2) Deployment icons now have extra tooltip data to explain supply trucks and current stock levels.
3) Removed redundant and confusing restock-timers for supply truck icons.
4) Battle minimap now has a popup key that displays like a tooltip to explain the colors.
5) Fixed bug where the procurement achievement would trigger under the wrong circumstances
6) Dialog for loading existing designs on the design screen now also displays mini design icons and the hull name for each item.
7) Unlock system changed so that the important unlocks occur early on in the process.
8) Fixed bug where the overseas medal did not trigger as soon as it should have.
9) Armor color changed to be more orange and less red, to avoid confusion with damage.
10) Fixed bug where game hangs loading on an attacking custom map if the defending ai has too many resources relative to placement opportunities.
11) Fixed bug where editing existing player units can leave the old image being used on the deployment bar.
12) Fixed bug with tank exhausts that meant they would linger too long if you were not looking at them.
13) New feature: You can now drop replacement infantry into half-empty trenches to fill the slots, even mixing infantry types.
14) You can now disable the supplies exhausted siren under the options screen.
15) Fixed bug where you could try to post a challenge despite not setting up a user profile yet.