Take a look at Rag Doll Kung Fu, the first third-party game on Steam

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In 2005, Mark Healey, working for Lionhead as an artist at the time, got the mad idea to use his programming skills to marry rope physics code to kung fu fighters. Then he wrapped the whole thing up with footage from an ultra low-budget chop-socky film he had made with his friends. The result was Rag Doll Kung Fu, a goofy indie game that implausibly wound up as the first non-Valve developed game to be offered on Steam. People Make Games interviewed some of the folks involved, and the story is a mix of luck, good timing, and a lost wallet.

Healey left Lionhead in 2006 and founded Media Molecule with Alex Evans, David Smith, and Kareem Ettouney. Rag Doll Kung Fu continues to sell on Steam, but new versions were made for PlayStation and iOS. Steam published 7,672 games in 2017.

Is Cultist Simulator for you? Take this quiz and find out!

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Please read these four selections from Cultist Simulator. After you read them, there will be a short quiz.

“It enters the world one limb at a time, questing like a serpent, cawing like a crow, throbbing like a vein. It will cuddle close against my leg, if I let it, and afterwards I will have to dispose of my shoes.”

“In the forest where the moon couldn’t go, the boughs of the trees were woven together like bandages or lovers.”

“His face is creased by so many wrinkles that his features lie buried amid shadowy pockets of skin. Still, the dwarf’s well-practiced habits have left telltale tracks of a welcoming rictus across his visage.”

“In the display cases of the impossible museum, I always see an apple white as snow and hard as marble. A golden beetle in a stern box. A coy geometry awaiting my touch. A black envelope bursting with spring. A brass opera-box for instruments of record and measure. A storm in a tin. I always wake before I see the aisle’s end.”

And now for the quiz: Continue reading →

The second-best horse in gaming is in Red Dead Redemption 2

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Preorders are now officially open for Red Dead Redemption 2. Among the dizzying array of virtual bits and bobs and physical gewgaws available, is the War Horse, the infamously powerful equine from the first game. Like the current offer, the War Horse was a preorder incentive. It was also hands-down the absolute best horse in Red Dead Redemption. It had three times the health of any normal horse available to the player, and it tied the next best horses for speed and stamina. In fact, it was the only horse that had enough health to withstand a mountain lion attack. Beyond satisfying the completionist urge, there was no reason to own any other horse in the game. We don’t know how horse stats will work in Red Dead Redemption 2, or where the War Horse will sit in the rankings, but giddayup for the only horse that comes close to Roach.

Are the exotic new dangers of Pathfinder: Mummy’s Mask worth the hassle?

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It’s been a while since I’ve rooted around in an actual Pathfinder Adventure Card Game box. Four and a half years, to be exact. Oh, I’ve played plenty since then. Obsidian’s videogame version is a spot-on transliteration that’s arguably better than the tabletop version for how it streamlines out all the fussing with cards, and dice, and rules exceptions, and cards, and cards, and table space, and more cards, and cards that have to be kept just so, and cards, and looking up the rules, and also a whole bunch of cards. On the PC, all that stuff purrs quietly under the hood while you flip virtual cards, and huck virtual dice, and level up your characters as smoothly as if you were playing Diablo.

I say this videogame version is arguably better. But the operative word is “arguably”. Continue reading →

Descent heir Overload has been released and I’ve got a very bad feeling

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I’m honestly about to barf. Like, sitting here with my head between my knees in a cold sweat. But I just couldn’t stop myself. I just couldn’t. I kept going even as I felt it balling up in the pit of my stomach and then rising up my gorge. I couldn’t stop.

Revival Production’s Overload is so smooth and glorious in VR, much more than pretty much any dedicated VR game I’ve tried. If the barfing happens, it will have been worth it. By the way, it’s also pretty darn awesome in non-VR. Here’s about an hour of me babbling enthusiastically while playing.

Block traffic with your buddy in Bus Simulator 18

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To Americans, The Bus Simulator series is one of those inscrutably European things like mayonnaise on fries or courtesy. While Farm Simulator and Truck Simulator have both made the jump across the pond and cultivated stateside fans, Bus Simulator remains a puzzle. Drive large, slow buses through city traffic? Boring! At least 18-wheel trucking gives you the open road and dreams of booze-running with The Bandit. What Yanks do understand is multiplayer trolling, and we’re about to see some epic “rubbing is racing” gaming. Bus Simulator 18 is adding multiplayer!

Ignore that trailer showing enthusiastic drivers cooperating to shuttle passengers on busy roadways. We know what will happen when you jerks get together to drive buses. It’s going to be Speed mixed with Days of Thunder.

It will cost you a grand for permission to spend another $27,000 on Star Citizen

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Star Citizen is offering a $27,000 pack that includes almost every ship and goodie the game has for sale. The Legatus Pack, includes 117 in-game ships and 163 virtual extras like models, fish tanks, ship add-ons, decorative posters, and land claim parcels. There’s a small catch though. You won’t be able to see anything at that link unless you’re a “concierge” member of Star Citizen, meaning you’ve already spent $1000 on the game. That’s right, space peasants. You may continue groveling in space mud with your cheap starter accounts. You don’t even get the privilege of giving Roberts Space Industries $27,000 for the new pack. Be thankful that they let you buy the A2 Hercules for a mere $700.

If you’re interested in seeing the contents of the Legatus Pack, a Star Citizen community member listed the items offered here. Star Citizen’s pledge total stands at $186 million.

The Intellivision is returning, and it has a new boss

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Tommy Tallarico, (yes, that Tommy Tallarico) is the new president of Intellivision Entertainment and the company is getting ready to launch a new version of its retro home game console. The information released is short on details, but more will be shown on October 1st. According to the above livestream, Intellivision is aiming for less than $200 as a launch price, the box will support HDMI, and games will be preloaded onto the drive like other recent retro consoles.

The first DLC for Far Cry 5 is less apocalyptic and more Apocalypse Now

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Hours of Darkness, the first installment of three planned DLC packs for Far Cry 5, goes back in time to the jungles of Vietnam. You’ll play as Wendell Redler on a prisoner of war extraction mission. New weapons, enemies, and vehicles will be provided in the paid DLC and they will carry over into the main Hope County campaign. Items like the Vietnam-era M16, SVD sniper rifle, props, and NPCs will also be available to everyone for free in the game’s editor as assets for creating user-made scenarios. A Survivor Mode that reduces weapons and makes the game harder in many ways, and an Action Movie mode that makes everything even more ridiculous round out the DLC pack.

Hours of Darkness for Far Cry 5 will be available on June 5th.

A new dawn rises in State of Decay 2

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Night of the Living Dead invented zombies. So what if the word zombie comes from Haitian mythology? So what if the concept was inspired by the “vampires” in Richard Matheson’s Last Man on Earth? So what if the theme is a variation on the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers? When George Romero gathered some buddies to make a no-budget amateur movie in Pittsburgh, thousands of miles from Hollywood, he invented a new mythology. But it wouldn’t be fully realized until Dawn of the Dead. Years later, with a budget for better production values, with a larger crew on a more conventional shoot, with better actors, better effects, better cinematography, a better set, better distribution, and better marketing, he realized a fuller expression of what he created in his first movie. They’re both classics. But Dawn of the Dead is a timeless work of genre filmmaking and mythology.

State of Decay 2 is to State of Decay what Dawn of the Dead is to Night of the Living Dead. Continue reading →

Gamers are already drawing battle lines over the Battlefield V trailer

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That’s Battlefield V from DICE and Electronic Arts. It has women in combat, cricket bats, prosthetic limbs, jaunty music, combat sliding, window leaps, grenade shooting, samurai swords, and cars falling out of the sky capped off with a V-2 rocket attack. It’s World War 2 gone amok and for some people this is apparently a bridge too far despite Battlefield being the franchise known for platoon wing-walking and sniper shots after ejecting out of crashing helicopters. It’s a series that markets itself with “Only in Battlefield” to highlight the wacky things people do in the game. Add women and the disabled and somehow that’s the line crossed.

In the reveal event hosted by The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, DICE ran through a dizzying checklist of changes to the franchise. First, no season pass or DLC map packs will be sold. New maps and modes will be included with the base purchase for all players, funded by cosmetic bits and bobs in loot boxes. (Presumably DICE will use lessons learned from the disastrous launch of Battlefront 2.) The single player War Stories vignettes returns with scenarios set in Norway, Rotterdam, North Africa, and France. Physical interaction has gotten an overhaul with players able to roll and slide in prone positions, leap through and over obstacles, and injured players can be dragged to new areas for safety before healing. Speaking of healing, all players will be able to perform a limited revive, with the medic being the only class able to fully heal and revive. Say goodbye to active spotting, as enemies are automatically spotted depending on your class, proximity, and being in your field of view. New game modes include a Combined Arms cooperative mode that’s procedurally generated, and Grand Operations PvP with multi-day battles. Exciting changes, or sacrilege depending on your outlook.

Battlefield V launches on October 19th, but Deluxe Edition buyers will get early access beginning October 16. Origin or EA Access subscribers can get in even earlier on October 11th.

Videogaming joins the Special Olympics

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From ESPN to multi-million dollar prize pools, video game tournaments are taking root in the mainstream. Esports are now part of the best Olympics. Special Olympics USA and Microsoft are partnering to present the first-ever Special Olympics video game tournament as part of the 2018 Seattle Games. On Monday, July 2, eight teams consisting of pairs of athletes will face off in Forza Motorsport 7 and race for the gold. Additionally, fans will be able to play Forza 7, Minecraft, and Super Lucky’s Tale at booths all week during the event. Beth Knox, President and CEO of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, pointed out the developmental benefits of video games.

“Many of our athletes are avid gamers and research indicates playing video games can potentially boost cognitive and motor skills of people with intellectual disabilities.”

Microsoft has been a partner of Special Olympics USA since 2014. If you’d like to attend the 2018 Seattle Games or help out, information is available here.