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youtube-gaming-stream

YouTube Gaming has launched. Google’s streaming video service competes directly with established services like Twitch by concentrating on gaming. It offers most of the features that Twitch does, but adds the financial clout and technical knowhow of Google. YouTube Gaming does some things Twitch doesn’t, like automatically archiving videos and a DVR mode that allows viewers to rewind a current stream. Tech-heads applaud the service’s use of HTML5 instead of Flash, which Twitch currently still uses to power their videos.

Some of the biggest YouTube gaming channels like jackfrags and Machinima have seamlessly become YouTube Gaming channels, which means Google’s infant service already has a sizeable audience. Google has also smartly bundled up existing YouTube videos on games and placed them into the channels for whatever game the video covers into the new service.

Will Google’s foray into gaming dethrone the current king? YouTube Gaming is off to a good start, but the key will be swiping the big official tournaments from Twitch. If Google can woo the heavy-hitters like Valve, Blizzard, Riot, and others away from Twitch, and if they can overcome the reservations some established star streamers have, YouTube Gaming may become as ubiquitous as VEVO is for music videos.

If you’re interested in becoming a YouTube streamer you can start the process here.

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Hegemony_III_splash

Canadian developer Longbow Games made quite a splash with Hegemony I, set in ancient Greece, and Hegemony II, set in ancient Rome. The schtick in their strategy games was a unified real-time world where you didn’t have to sit through a long loading screen every time you fought a battle. The battle just happened, right there on the strategic map, the same way actual battles happened in history. That’s realism.

Unfortunately, Longbow’s attempt to Kickstarter Hegemony III didn’t take. Was it because it was set in pre-ancient Greek times, before Alexander came along and made everything cool? Was it because Hegemony II was already plenty good and full of open-ended content? Was it because strategy game fans are too stingy to pony up a mere $30,000? Canadian dollars, sure. But, still, only thirty thousand of them. Whatever the case, Longbow was all, like, screw Kickstarter, we’re going to do it anyway and hope people just buy it when it comes out. That time is now. Hegemony III is out today on Steam for less than thirty bucks.

The thing about a Hegemony game is that the gameplay trumps the setting. I have no idea who these people are when I select one of the four factions in the basic campaign. The Veii, the Valathri, the Velch, and the Clevsin? I think I’ve fought all those guys in Star Control, but I couldn’t tell you anything about them. Hegemony III’s objective-based campaign will walk you through the ins-and-outs of being, say, a Veii in the olden days. But for everyone else, there’s the grand campaign, where you aren’t limited to just four factions. Let’s take a look.

After the jump, I came, I saw, I froze up because I didn’t know which one to take. Continue reading →

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diablo-iii-console

Just in case you were planning on playing any new games, Blizzard has released the 2.3.0 patch for Diablo III on the PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. It adds a new snow biome called the ruins of Sescheron. It is physically impossible to say the name of this new place without sounding like you’re drunk. The ruins of Sescheron (hic!) is where you’ll find the Horadric Cube, except now it’s called Kanai’s Cube because the name Horadric Cube was taken. Throw legendary items into this doo-dad to collect and catalog their powers for use in crafting recipes. Gotta catch ’em all! You can also more easily assemble sets of gear that were previously the domain of the random numbers generator’s cruel tyranny. Basically, your newfound Cube leads you down a whole new rabbit hole of crafting, guaranteed to keep you from playing other games for weeks to come.

Among the other changes, the Torment level now goes up to X. Adventure Mode, a.k.a. the Only Way To Play, has been adjusted to feed into the new crafting sink. Among the usual adjustments to the different classes, the largest chunk of text is devoted to Witch Doctor changes. Remember, kids, time spent in Diablo III not playing a Witch Doctor is time wasted!

Here’s the complete list of features.

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, | Movie reviews
Big_Sky_review

Someone needs to attack a van carrying mental patients to a treatment facility. Don’t ask. So he brings along his mentally disabled younger brother, who hasn’t taken his meds that day. The younger brother freaks out and shoots everyone. Later, the younger brother will dry hump a kidnapped girl while she’s passed out and tied up. He’s in the running for the worst possible guy you could bring along on a heist.

The twist in Big Sky, a movie where the big reveal is that kids were allowed to play unattended near a swimming pool, is that one of the patients being transported is an agoraphobe. The only way she can travel is closed up in a big metal box, which means the heisters didn’t see her. Now she has to set out under the big sky because her mother, who was riding in the van, is slowly bleeding to death from a gunshot. So the agoraphobe wraps herself up in cloth, puts on some gloves, and sets out across the desert, taking tiny baby steps, one at a time, very slowly. Meanwhile, her mother bleeds out. Big Sky is not about people doing effective things.

The character who takes the biggest slice of Big Sky’s dumb character cake is an addled druggie who attacks the agoraphobe heroine out in the desert. She has pepper spray to defend herself. She brandishes it. He takes it from her. Then he pepper sprays himself in the face. This actually happens. He pepper sprays himself in the face. He holds down the nozzle and waves it around his face as if he were applying spray-on sunblock. This allows the heroine to escape. Imagine a bad guy disarming someone by taking her handgun and then just going ahead and shooting himself. There’s a term for this in drama: deus ex moron.

These are the sort of characters who inhabit Big Sky, a thriller that goes to such ridiculous lengths to generate its supposed thrills that you’re still going “wait, what?” while it’s carrying on as if it just made sense.

Big Sky is currently available for video on demand. Support Qt3 by watching a guy pepper spray himself on Amazon.com.

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migingo-island-56

Someone at Square Enix is going to need to brush up on ultra-exclusive real estate. They’re offering an island as part of the Just Cause 3 Win an Island contest. Just pre-order the Just Cause Day 1 Edition, then rack up chaos points by blowing things up for 90 days while playing the game. The person with the highest score at the end of the contest period gets the island. According to the rules, the publisher doesn’t have an island picked out yet, they won’t guarantee that it will habitable or that you’ll be able to reach it by anything other than a private boat, and it’s only going to be worth $50,000. Checking some island real estate sites, that will get you a tiny slip of offshore rock covered in garbage, or a sandy low-tide atoll in the middle of shark-infested waters. Obviously, Square Enix is banking on the winner opting for the cash equivalent prize. Hold out for the island, lucky winner! You’ll be king of your very own paradise nation! King!

Just Cause 3 is launching on December 1st for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC.

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Rockstar_Editor-_Effects

One of the big features of the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V is the built-in movie maker. The Rockstar Editor allows players to record and fiddle with gameplay clips. You just snapped off the perfect kill shot on a police helicopter while flipping through the air on a fiery motorcycle. Thank goodness you have the ability to record that footage with a couple of button presses, then edit it into a masterpiece worthy of YouTube or Reddit! Soon, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will have this feature as well. The two console versions are getting the editor next month.

When the update to Grand Theft Auto V hits in September, all three platforms will also get enhancements to the Rockstar Editor like ambient audio and sound effects tracks, improved Director Mode, and better camera controls. You’ll surely get the angle you need for that Trevor pooping clip now.

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, | Game reviews
Conflicks_review

There are three stages of Conflicks: Revolutionary Space Battles. The first is before you’ve even played, when you see the game’s intro, which you can watch here. The wacky combination of European history, but in space; the Industrial Revolution, but with chickens; and that awesome artwork means I want to play whatever this game is. The second stage is finding out what this game is. A real-time strategy game with…an Angry Birds interface? If there’s one thing crazier than that intro, it’s space combat based on flicking your ships around the screen without even the benefit of an iPad.

After the jump, you’re on your way to the third stage of Conflicks. Continue reading →

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, | Game reviews
Cosmonautica_1

Better games than Cosmonautica have struggled with how to make commutes interesting. Flying across the reaches of empty space, which is pretty much what spaceships do, isn’t really a good thing to make a game about. Because what are you going to do when you’re not having a space battle? The same thing you do on a car trip? Listen to podcasts or books on tape? Chat with your buddy? Play “I Spy” with your kids? Zone out? Zone out is the answer provided by most games about flying through space.

Unfortunately, Cosmonautica doesn’t have a good answer, so zone out it is. Hit the fast forward button and wait. It didn’t seem like it was going to be that way when you first started Cosmonautica. You thought you would have a role to play when you first watched your crew scurry about in that precious cutaway view of your ship. Maybe you’d have to coordinate your crew the way you coordinate sims. But no such luck. They take care of themselves entirely. You’re just a spectator in a game where there’s nothing interesting to see. Just zone out until you get to the next space station.

After the jump, we’re still not there yet. Continue reading →

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, | Features
Qt3_CGC_TRON_20

The latest pick for the Quarter to Three Classic Game Club, chosen by WarpRattler, is Monolith’s cult classic TRON 2.0. Developer Monolith was at the top of their game when they released it in 2003. This was the Monolith that gave us No One Lives Forever, putting that same level of world-building, charm, and personality into the TRON universe.

WarpRattler explains why he picked it:

my dad found a copy at TJ Max (???) on clearance and bought it for me, but it wouldn’t work on my computer. I would’ve been…fourteen or fifteen at the time, I think? The game had been out for at least a couple of years. I later ended up giving it away to a friend without ever getting to play it, and my current copy came from a thrift store earlier this year.

Oddly enough, I did play the Gameboy Advance spinoff when I was younger. From what I’ve heard, it turns out some of the promo materials I got for TRON 2.0 from Comic-Con waaaaaaaay back when I went in, I think, 2003 ended up involving concepts that weren’t in the final Monolith game, but did end up in the GBA game.

TRON 2.0 is available for $9.99 on Steam. You’ll want to download the Killer App mod, which requires the unofficial 1.042 patch, and works on either the Steam or retail versions. The mod combines a couple of popular visual mods, adds in content (all for multiplayer, I think), and visual upgrades from the Xbox port, and offers widescreen support and a few other tweaks.

If you want to play TRON 2.0 and participate in the conversation, join the discussion thread here. Click here to see the earlier picks for the Qt3 Classic Game Club.

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l4d-03

Zombie Army Trilogy, the re-mastered and bundled package of Rebellion’s Sniper Elite zombie games, is getting an update today that adds the protagonists from Valve’s Left 4 Dead series. The free update puts Francis, Bill, Zoey, Louis, Coach, Nick, Rochelle and Ellis into 1945 zombie Germany. How did they get there? There’s a comic that explains it all, but who really cares? It’s zombie shooting!

Zombie Army Trilogy is on sale on Steam.

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, | Game reviews
Rise_of_Cthulhu_review_main

Fifteen minute games that aren’t silly or overly simple for two players. Why is that such a rare category? It seems like an ideal way to showcase interesting gameplay concepts. My current favorite is Cold War: CIA vs KGB, which is a series of quick rounds of Blackjack But With Special Powers, situated inside a metagame of agent-based bluffing to win control of classic Cold War countries like Nicaragua, Cuba, and Vietnam. Hey, look, it’s Afghanistan! The more things change…

Rise of Cthulhu, a fifteen minute game that isn’t silly or overly simple for two players, isn’t quite as hearty as Cold War. It’s certainly not as polished (Cold War has been reprinted by Fantasy Flight, and this year they even published a Star Wars version called Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion). But it does a great job showcasing an interesting gameplay concept. Namely, the orderly arrangement of sets of cards, with just enough chaos shuffled in the mix to earn its Lovecraftian theme.

After the jump, madness, I tell you! Continue reading →

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, | Movie reviews
Seventh_Son_review

20 years ago, Russian director Sergei Bodrov’s Prisoners of the Mountain was nominated for a foreign language Academy Award. That should have been his cue to jump into the sarlacc throat of Hollywood. It didn’t happen. He’s spent the last decade doing internationally funded historical epics starring people who don’t make box office in America. Somewhere in there, he also directed Seventh Son, which was Legendary Pictures’ hope for their own Lord of the Rings. Hence the impressive talent assembled behind the scenes, including Bryan Singer cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, who recently shot Drive for Nicolas Winding Refn; longtime Martin Scorsese production designer Dante Ferretti, whose other credits include The Name of the Rose, Cold Mountain, and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd; and John Dykstra for visual effects, whose career began with Silent Running and then a modest sci-fi project called Star Wars. But after Bodrov completed Seventh Son, it sat on the shelf for more than two years. This year, it was unceremoniously defenstrated into the dreaded January release window, alongside Jupiter Ascending. It flopped.

Did it deserve it? Who can say. Is it a bad movie? Maybe. Whatever. Do I count it among my guilty pleasures? You bet. This is no made-for-TV throwaway B-movie starring Adrian Paul alongside Syfy level production values. The top-notch behind-the-scenes talent comes through with a procession of imaginative set pieces. And in the lead, Jeff Bridges’ grumpy old wizard is a thing to behold. Imagine Gandalf crossed with Mr. Miyagi crossed with The Dude, but with the One True Beard and Mustache to bind them all. An astute Lebwoski-phile might figure his tavern intro as the bad-ass mage variant of “Hey, careful man, there’s a beverage here…”. He and Julianne Moore play their hero and villain roles as if they were exes at an uneasy standoff after a bitter divorce, but with crazy CG action sequences.

Although the two young leads are both duds, the rest of the cast is a lively group sparingly applied: not nearly enough Olivia Williams (Is there ever?), a brief but delightful Kit Harington appearance, and the distractingly hot Antje Traue (Man of Steel, Pandorum) bound up in a Ren Faire dress. To be fair, the costumes in Seventh Son are as aces as the rest of the production values. When Julianne Moore meets the ingenue, she takes the time to compliment her shoes.

The witch-hunters vs. witches world-building plays out a bit like The Witcher. In fact, this could be a Witcher movie, except for the fact that Bridges is such an unrepentant goofball. “It’s near impossible to battle demons when you have wet feet,” he grunts to his new apprentice, sending him off to get his shoes repaired, and reminding him to pick up flour, salt, grease, and bacon. “Fucking witches,” he will later mutter after briefly breaking down some backstory about the end of the world. He has a bitchin’ Bat Cave and the Witcher version of a Batmobile. It’s like he finished the main quest a long time ago and he’s at the level cap, so he can’t be bothered to do side quests anymore. This stuff is like DLC to him.

Seventh Son is available for VOD. Support Qt3 and watch it at Amazon.com.

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passtime

Remember that promotional interactive teaser for Super 8 that came bundled with Portal 2? It was supposed to be part of an ongoing business and creative collaboration between Valve and J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot. At the time, Abrams said he wanted to make movies or shows set in the Half-Life or Portal universes. Since that time, nothing’s really come of it and all that excitement went the same way Guillermo del Toro’s involvement in gaming went.

It looks like something’s come of it at last. It’s not a Portal movie though, so anyone wanting to see a found-footage film of Chell will have to be content with amateur YouTube productions. It’s a new Team Fortress 2 mode. PASS Time is the result of Bad Robot, Escalation Studios, and Valve working together. It’s like Halo’s Grifball or Rocket League, but with more killing. And hats. PASS Time is available now as an open beta in Team Fortress 2.

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