Games

American Truck Simulator isn’t quite ready to do what Spintires does

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A section of Highway 1 in Big Sur, California was closed due to a landslide that occurred on May 20th. If you’re not cruising down the historic Pacific Coast Highway this summer, you may not think this would have an impact on your activities, but if you play American Truck Simulator, think again. SCS Software has implemented an update of the game that includes this 13-acre addition to California’s coastline and closure of the in-game route.

Its reopening in our American Truck Simulator will depend entirely on real world events.

It appears SCS Software may have its first test of their software-as-service approach. As of a few hours ago, the California Department of Transportation has issued an alert that the previously closed route is now partially open. If only American Truck Simulator modeled mud-slogging and dirt traversal!

Sony says they aren’t doing cross-network play because please think of the children

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One of the big mysteries for Sony PlayStation gamers is the platform’s lack of cross-network play with Xbox. When Microsoft announced the cross-network play initiative earlier in the year, Sony only confirmed that they already had that ability since Final Fantasy 11 on the PlayStation 2 and PC. A cryptic but possibly hopeful answer to Microsoft’s invitation. Those hopes were dashed when Sony confirmed at E3 that Rocket League and Minecraft on PlayStation 4 would not be participating in the effort despite Nintendo pledging to make their versions of the games cross-network compatible. Eurogamer sat down with Sony PlayStation’s global sales and marketing head Jim Ryan and put the question directly to him.

We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft – the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.

When pressed for clarification since Nintendo, a company famously protective of their young audience, is willing to cooperate, Ryan offered, “Everybody has to take their own decisions.”

This may be your last chance to ‘get woke’ to Alan Wake

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Alan Wake may be disappearing soon. According to Remedy Entertainment, the 2010 horror game is being removed from sale on digital outlets, including the Xbox, Steam, and Windows stores on the 15th of May. The developer noted that music rights issues are the reason for the removal, and while they are looking into solutions such as relicensing, they cannot guarantee that a deal will be worked out. While the game will be removed from sale, if you already have it in your library by that date, you should be able to re-download it at any time.

While Alan Wake’s original score was created by Petri Alanko, the game did feature a few songs from other artists such as David Bowie, Roy Orbison, Nick Cave, and Depeche Mode which could be problematic for renewing the music licenses. Alan Wake will go on sale on the 13th at a 90% discount to allow for last-minute buyers to grab it. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, the 2012 standalone sequel, is not being impacted by this music licensing issue and will remain available for purchase.

Forget violence. The real sin of videogaming is sloth.

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According to an article on The Economist’s online magazine:

…games have got [sic] immeasurably better. They are often beautiful, narratively interesting, enriching and social. Indeed, it is possible that they are too good. Today’s games seem to be displacing careers, friendships and families, and thus stopping young people (particularly men) from starting real, adult lives.

Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. Oh, what? You have some data?

Between 2000 and 2015, the employment rate for men in their 20s without a college education dropped ten percentage points, from 82% to 72%. In 2015, remarkably, 22% of men in this group – a cohort of people in the most consequential years of their working lives – reported to surveyors that they had not worked at all in the prior 12 months. That was in 2015: when the unemployment rate nationwide fell to 5%, and the American economy added 2.7m new jobs. Back in 2000, less than 10% of such men were in similar circumstances.

And what’s that got to do with videogames?

Economists typically (and reasonably) assume that people tend to buy more things as they earn more money. But as they grow richer, they buy proportionately more of some things and less of others. Spending on necessities, as a share of all consumption, declines as incomes rise. Economists label “luxuries” the things that account for an increased share of spending as income goes up. There is a similar logic to leisure luxuries. As the amount of time people spend at leisure (as opposed to work) rises, some activities (like bathing or sleep) account for a shrinking share of total leisure time. Others the leisure luxuries account for more.

(What does it say about me that as I read that article, I imagined how that model would fit into The Sims?)

Among those predisposed to the leisure-luxury life, better games mean people are quicker to swap working hours for gaming hours; given nes-era [sic] gaming technology, a twenty-something might decline an opportunity for overtime work to have a little longer with Mario and Luigi. Now, a part-time job might be all they are willing to do, so good are the worlds and characters waiting at home. For those with the means, any hour on the job is an hour too much.

A lot of writer Ryan Avent’s anecdotes smack of videogaming guilt, a unique phenomena which doesn’t exist to the same degree for other forms of entertainment. His attempt to draw a parallel between life and game design is cringe-worthy, particularly his conclusion that the real world needs better dynamic difficulty adjustment. But his basic premise isn’t the usual mainstream alarmism. While I believe videogames belong alongside other forms of leisure and entertainment, their capacity to suck up time is unique. The long-term and widespread effects can’t be negligible.

Taxidermy is even creepier than normal in Ghost Recon Wildlands

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One of the skills you can unlock in Ghost Recon Wildlands is thermal vision, which highlights warmer objects from everything else in your view with splashes of red, orange, and yellow. The image above shows regular vision in a hunting lodge on the left and what you see in the same room with thermal vision enabled on the right. Notice the stuffed animals? Unless they practice taxidermy very differently in Bolivia, this can’t be right.

Someone was listening while everyone complained about No Man’s Sky

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Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on– Oh, look, a massive update for No Man’s Sky! Look at all that new stuff: base building, creation sharing, ship collecting, class specialization, land vehicles and exocraft, races, new stuff to buy, new stuff to build, new ways to shoot at things, meaningful survival mechanics, permadeath. Permadeath! The thing that makes all games even more replayable! Even persistence for the various places you’ve discovered, such as Wlkjtulappd, and Berlkdipbiesy, and Yiplyustokpydy. As you recall, those are all planets in the Bfeudisklonklorrl system. Remember the Bfeudisklonklorrl system? Remember all its purple planets with their pink skies? Yiplyustokpydy was definitely my favorite. I guess if I’m going back, I should rename it to something like Chickworld or Tomholme or Yes Album Cover #317.

The update also includes the obligatory visual improvements, such as horizon based ambient occlusion. Whatever that is, it’s something that wasn’t in No Man’s Sky before.

Scroll through this splashy page to see what Hello Games has done to their aimless game-less space game. Because from where I’m standing, waiting on the Steam download to finish, it looks as if there might be an actual game in there now.

Presenting the winners of 2016’s annual Quarter to Three Quarterlies

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Way back in 2007, the Quarter to Three community voted on the best games of the previous year. The numbers were tallied, the winners declared, and the awards weren’t handed out in an extravagant ceremony hosted by Geoff Keighley. It was our own Peoples Choice Awards, decided by the folks who hang out in the virtual spaces of our forum. We’ve been doing these annual Quarterlies ever since.

So what game is the big winner after ten years of Annual Quarterlies? Continue reading →

FIFA Ultimate Team gambling grows up

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Two men have been arrested and charged with promoting unlawful gambling in the United Kingdom. Dylan Rigby and Craig Douglas of Essex, England are being prosecuted by the UK Gambling Commission for violating the Gambling Act and for inviting underaged participation in betting activity. Both men individually owned and operated numerous sites related to FIFA Ultimate Team gambling and trading. They co-owned and promoted the FutGalaxy and Ultimate Coin Exchange sites. Rigby and Douglas are the first people being prosecuted by their government for illegal videogame gambling.

The recent CS:GO Lotto scandal involving Counter-Strike: Global Offensive cosmetic gun skin betting prompted Valve to issue cease and desist letters to gambling sites and has resulted in some civil suits, but no criminal charges have been filed yet. While the Attorneys General in the United States are aware of some of the videogame gambling complaints, they have thus far declined to prosecute.

That’s how you know an illicit activity is maturing, by the way. It’s when the law finally takes notice of it. Now that the scope of videogame gambling has grown sizable enough to attract the attention of the government, you can expect further legal action in the future.

Donald Trump would take umbrage at the new Frost update

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Frost is an indie deck-building game with superlative atmosphere, clever gameplay, and some unfortunate interface issues (see the video above). It’s also got excellent post-release support, as you can see in the latest update, which adds new cards, characters, and scenarios, as well as a new mechanic for temperature. What does temperature do?

It affects the size of your hand

After a couple of quick playthroughs, I haven’t seen its effect yet, so I presume I haven’t unlocked any temperature cards (a lot of Frost’s content is locked behind how much you’ve played). But I can plainly see a slider in the upper left hand corner showing how warm I am alongside a count of how many cards I can hold. The colder you are, the fewer cards you get to play. In other words, as we all know, being cold shrinks appendages.

No Man’s Sky and the journey into undiscovered country

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No Man’s Sky had one of the best launches on the PlayStation 4 since the console was released. It sold almost a million copies on PC in preorders and the first week of sales. It’s an unqualified sales success. Less than a month later, refund requests are in such volume that Valve has posted a special notice on the Steam store page. What happened? How did the indie darling go from being one of the most anticipated games of this year, to a swirl of controversy? Between accusations that Hello Games and Sean Murray lied about the game’s content, and a public debate about the merits of marketing, there is No Man’s Sky – a title that’s become the new poster child for an industry of hype.

After the jump, it’s the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning! Continue reading →

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s solution to save-scumming

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Adam Jensen is hunkered down behind a convenient desk. Heavily armed guards patrol back and forth. I could have my Jensen, my stealthy silent assassin cyber-augmented Jensen, stay crouched behind cover and stealthily take each guard out with long-range abilities, but my ninja Adam Jensen is a dumbass. He wants to scurry out into the open because that’s what happens when you load from a save while in cover and have to hit the spacebar on the PC version of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The button to confirm the load is the same as one to vault over objects while in cover, which means save-scumming presents its own form of punishment with each reload. Pop! Up comes Jensen! “Hey guys!” I imagine the look of surprise on the guards faces as they mow Jensen down.

The tide of Warhammer stuff keeps rolling in

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One of the benefits of the Warhammer license being handed out like candy is that some of the games that use the Warhammer license will be good. Perhaps even very good. And some of those games will keep on giving. Today, the Space Marines arrive in Battlefleet: Gothic Armada, the Witch Hunters arrive in Mordheim: City of the Damned, and the Eldar arrive in Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. All on the same day! Space Marines cost $7, Witch Hunters cost $10, and the Eldar are part of the ongoing process of adding content to Eternal Crusade’s ongoing early access. Which I wouldn’t normally mention, but it’s worth mentioning any time space elfs show up.

You’re up, Creative Assembly. Not that Total War: Warhammer is hurting for content, but we’re all eager to hear who the new kids in class will be. Skaven? I bet it’s the skaven.

Lionhead may be dead, but Fable may live on

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Microsoft closed Lionhead Studios in April, but the Fable franchise remains active despite Fable Legends being canceled shortly before the studio shut down. Fable lives! A group of ex-Lionhead folks have licensed the Fable name and started a Kickstarter for Fable Fortune, a concept that came out of the Pub Games project. Now separated from Microsoft, the game needs crowd-funding assistance to get finished.

Microsoft have helped us by giving us the license for Fable Fortune, but they are no longer investing in the project. We need to secure the remaining funds ourselves to complete development.

Fable Fortune from Flaming Fowl Studios will be a free-to-play collectible card game that leans heavily on the good versus evil morality system present in the Fable games. It may not be a full-blown action roleplaying game, but it looks like Flaming Fowl has the essence of Fable in it. You get all the British humor you’d expect from the series including bad puns, silly mustaches, and bodily functions.