So after starting with a terrible Great Gatsby joke that goes over like a lead balloon, I enjoy a great conversation with Dead of Winter creators Colby Dauch, Jon Gilmour, and Isaac Vega about their zombie boardgame that straddles the line between cooperation and competition. What does it have to do with Lost, what did it used to look like, what are the plans for the add-on? And, of course, who are our favorite characters and why?
In the early 2000’s there were a bunch of mid-tier real-time strategy titles that crowded each other out of the market. Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, Dark Reign, Empire Earth, and Battle Realms to name a few. These were good games that developed a following, but never got out from under the shadows cast by games with better production values like Age of Empires and StarCraft. Some had just enough sales to get a sequel, but Battle Realms was one of the games that never did. Ed Del Castillo, the president of Liquid Entertainment, has talked about making a Battle Realms 2: Lair of the Lotus, but the funding just didn’t happen.
In this age of crowd-funding, there’s no need to wait for a publishing deal. Liquid Entertainment is still around and now they finally want to make a follow-up to Battle Realms. Sort of. The proposed Battle Realms Legends is a free-to-play, collectible card game, real-time strategy fusion. The game is set shortly after the events of the single player campaign in the original game, but players will be doing all the normal F2P stuff like collecting, crafting, gathering resources, and purchasing items with real money. If Liquid gets to the $100,000 Kickstarter goal, they’ll make this F2P game, but there’s no word on the fate of the Lair of the Lotus.
TIME’s conflict photographer, Ashley Gilbertson, used The Last of Us Remastered’s photo mode to capture still images from the game. The resulting experiment is interesting because it allows us to see how a person surrounded by real-life violence handles the situations in a world terrorized by zombie fungus.
I initially played the game at home. But after a short time playing it, I noticed I was having very strong reactions in regards to my role as the protagonist: I hated it. When I covered real war, I did so with a camera, not a gun. At home, I’d play for 30 minutes before noticing I had knots in my stomach, that my vision blurred, and then eventually, that I had simply crashed out. I felt like this could well be my last assignment for TIME.
Gilbertson was awarded the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal in 2005, and the ASME National Magazine Award in 2011.
In Sarah Northway’s zombie apocalypse strategy game, Rebuild, you manage a colony of survivors through hunger, bandits, zombies, despair, and strife. On the way to the end of the game, you might uncover story beats. Many of these give you choices with important gameplay implications.
One of the most memorable was the option to abandon the colony. To basically betray the characters you were controlling, the very game you were playing, in an attempt to secure a solitary victory. You had to lie about going on foraging missions when you were instead looking for a rumored cabin the woods. Then you had to secretly hoard food for yourself. Sometimes you even had to kill characters who figured out what you were doing. If you pulled it off, the colony fell to the zombies but you, the main character, lived happily ever after. You might have even gotten a high score.
After the jump, why can’t they make a boardgame like that? Continue reading →
The bear! The bear! The bear and the burglar so fair! Nope. That’s not how it goes. The Bear and the Burglar is the new free add-on for Divinity: Original Sin. The DLC adds two companions to the game to round out players’ four-person adventuring party. Bairdotr is a powerful ranger, and Wolgraff is the silent but deadly rogue. Rock, paper, scissors will be truly exciting now!
The Bear and the Burglar DLC is part of patch 1.0.169 that the developers claim adds a “big layer of polish” to various spell and environmental effects. With all the swoosh-boom that the game already had, the new effects must turn it into a Michael Bay movie.
Microsoft has purchased Mojang AB, and all of its game properties. Scrolls is now a Microsoft product, as is a little indie project known as Minecraft. According to the studio statement, co-founders Markus Persson, Carl Manneh, and Jakob Porser will be leaving to pursue other interests. Persson said in his notice to fans that his primary reason for selling Mojang to Microsoft was to get away from what his life had become and to go back to what he loved doing – namely coding and making small hobby games. Although Mojang states that they don’t have any plans for Scrolls, they do say they will continue planned development of their other property, so your Mojang account won’t be a total waste. Until it becomes an Xbox Live account.
You can read the official press release here.
[Editor's note: Every two weeks, we'll pick a classic game to play and discuss. Then the choice of the next game will be made by a randomly selected participant from the current discussion. It's like a book club, but with videogames. We'd love to have you join us. Register for the forums and hop into the discussion! This week's choice, by Stefan "Desslock" Janicki, is Fallout.]
As a lover of classic games, choosing just one to inflict upon you was extremely difficult. I narrowed down my choices to two games which I think everyone should have the experience of playing — they’re among the best games ever created and were influential, and yet neither was a significant commercial success at the time of release and they’ve proven surprisingly difficult to replicate well. They are also surprisingly similar games, despite being from different genres.
My choice is the original Fallout, developed and published by Interplay Productions in 1997. Several of the principal developers would leave Interplay to form Troika Games, while other members of the team who remained at Interplay would go on to release Fallout 2, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment under the “Black Isle” Division that was formed shortly after the release of Fallout. Fallout was a spiritual successor to Wasteland, an earlier game published by EA and developed by Interplay founder Brian Fargo – Interplay couldn’t get the IP rights to produce a Wasteland sequel, so it instead choose to develop its own post-apocalyptic setting. Fallout was also originally supposed to use Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS rules system – a popular and versatile pen and paper RPG system at the time – but disagreements during development ultimately resulted in Interplay creating its own system, which it called SPECIAL, which turned out to be one of best RPG development systems ever created.
After the jump, the game not chosen. Continue reading →
Remember what it used to be like in the days of the big publishers who forced developers to release games before they were ready? They did this because they didn’t care about games, about fans, about the industry as a whole, about me, about you. They only cared about profits. They took breaks from counting their money to hold meetings in conference rooms where they showed charts that explained how much money they would make if a game came out on a certain date, usually just before a fiscal quarter ended or in time for the holiday shopping seasons. The people in the meetings didn’t actually play games because they were too busy counting money, plus they were above such frivolity. They might as well have been selling shoes or plumbing fixtures or alt rock albums they didn’t even listen to. And then crowdfunding came along and game developers who loved videogames got to do what was best for the games, for the fans, for the industry as a whole, for me, for you. And we all lived happily ever after.
After the jump, I ruin the fairy tale. Continue reading →
Minimum has come out of early access and has launched. Human Head Studios announced that the game has been updated to 4.0 status and is now considered a “full game” by the developers which may seem premature to players as many parts of the game are still forthcoming. With the latest update Human Head has added a co-op horde mode, cosmetic skins that can be purchased for real money, and a new tutorial to ease players into the third person shooter’s MOBA-like titan vs titan mode.
Minimum started as a free-to-play game in development at TimeGate Studios. It was sold to Human Head as part of TimeGate’s liquidation and closure in 2013. Minimum is available on Steam for $4.99 to celebrate its launch.
For the first time, I’m returning to a game for another Let’s Play. And it’s the one that started it all: Kingdom: The Far Reaches. This capricious fantasy murder simulator has just enough knuckleheaded charm to keep me coming back. It’s like a turn-based Dragon’s Lair, which is no surprise, since Rick Dyer worked on both games. And, like Dragon’s Lair, it made short work of me yet again. I said a lot of bad words in the process.
The Xbox One has a had a relatively trouble-free record when it comes to the quality of the hardware. Certainly, there haven’t been accounts of widespread problems that plagued the early Xbox 360 consoles. It seems however, that something is afoot with some of the Xbox One units sold without the Kinect sensor. CNET reports that some Xbox One owners are hearing a “terrible noise” coming from their consoles. Most of the complaints on the official Xbox support forum describe the loud noise coming from the faulty units as being “grindy” or “like loud static”. Unlike the Xbox 360 Red Ring fiasco, Microsoft is responding quickly and definitively.
“We have heard that a small number of Xbox One owners in some situations may hear a noise from the console that is too loud. While this does not affect the safety or functionality of the system, we’re asking customers who believe they are experiencing this issue to contact Xbox Support. At the request of our customers, we are exchanging those consoles for new systems.”
Microsoft has not explained why the Kinect-less Xbox Ones would have this issue, and not the other, but it’s good to see them taking the issue seriously. No end date has been announced for the exchange program.
Will Ferrell, star of the Anchorman movies, 2005’s Bewitched, and former cast member of Saturday Night Live, wants to play games to raise money for charity. In the video, Ferrell, speaking as “Will Pharrell” brags about his gamer credentials and claims to have played Asteroids for more than 30 hours without even taking a bathroom break. Beyond the typical gamer cliches of having pizza boxes and Chinese food takeout containers strewn about, the video is for a good cause. The link to www.willferrellhatescancer.org leads to a real Indiegogo site. Ferrell wants to raise $375,000.00 for cancer charities. One lucky person will be picked to play with Ferrell in San Francisco during a Twitch stream. The minimum $10 pledge gives each donor an entry, and various pledge tiers give physical rewards and varying amounts of entries in the drawing.
I’ll admit – I’m recently educated about the close ties between video games and charity/cancer. I’m awestruck by it all, and you inspired me. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m hosting this challenge….I want more people need to know how video games can help and how benevolent the gaming community is.
The campaign ends on October 12th, and the live event will be streamed on October 26th on Twitch.
By now, you’ve probably heard the rumor. Microsoft may be trying to buy Mojang, the studio behind Minecraft. The Wall Street Journal broke the news late yesterday, naming an anonymous source near the negotiations. The most jaw-dropping bit of the news was the rumored price tag. $2 billion! It sounded crazy. Markus Persson, outspoken creator of Minecraft, was going to sell his company to Microsoft? The guy that flamed Oculus when Facebook bought them for $2 billion? The man that responded to shilling in 2012 with this sarcastic tweet?
Anyway, my price is two billion dollars. Give me two billion dollars, and I’ll endorse your crap.
A couple of hours later, Bloomberg reported the same story, but they had three sources and some intriguing details. According to their people, Persson reached out to Microsoft with the proposal! Mind-blowing, if true. Earlier today, The New York Times backed the rumors adding to the mill. The news reports agree that an official announcement could come as early as next week, if the deal gets finalized.
What would Microsoft hope to get out of the deal besides Minecraft? Probably nothing. They wouldn’t be interested in Scrolls, or any of Mojang’s other licenses. But Microsoft sure would be jazzed about an exclusive for Minecraft 2. Minecraft is available on everything from Android to the PlayStation 4, but a sequel could be locked down to in-house Microsoft systems, and that could really move some consoles. As for Persson, well it’s $2 billion. You can be as snarky as you want to be about selling out, but when you actually have that much money in your face, the math changes.
We’ve reached out to Mojang and Microsoft for more information, but both companies have declined to comment.