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douchey

Meet Guy. He’s the lamest character I could come up with in Arma III’s virtual arsenal. Look at him! He’s got a cigarette behind his ear, a bandanna that was too weak for Call of Duty: Ghosts, and he’s wearing white cowboy boots. That’s a starter pistol in his hands, so he’s useless in combat as well. I wouldn’t buy a used car from this person, yet he’s ready for (in)action in Arma III. I can’t wait to make a mission using the in-game scenario editor in which the players will have to escort Guy through a battlefield. Or maybe a hot tub sales convention.

The wardrobe and infantry testing area is part of the free Bootcamp Update that came out earlier this week. Besides the dress-up module, Bohemia Interactive added VR training missions and a prologue to the single player campaign to ease newbies into the particular style of infantry gameplay the Arma series offers. The developers have also revamped the fatigue and weapon sway mechanics as well as crushing a few bugs.

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, | Movie podcasts
Dawn_podcast

It would take three monkeys put into one podcast for one hour to arrive at the same conclusions as us regarding the latest Planet of the Apes movie. At the one-hour mark, this week’s 3×3 calculates our favorite uses of math in movies.

Next week: Anarchy: The Purge

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pizza_delivery

The enemies in Jason Stark’s Ninja Pizza Girl could’ve been robots or aliens with laserguns, but thanks to his teenage daughters’ input, they’re far more scary. They’re other teenagers. In the game, players take on the role of Gemma, a 16-year-old delivering pizzas in a side-scrolling race by using parkour and acrobatic skills to traverse the terrain in style. Screw up, and other teenagers make fun of her. They hurl insults and generally become jerks. If it happens enough, Gemma gets depressed and color drains out of the world ending her run. In the Kickstarter, Stark describes how his idea for a simple platforming game became something else entirely.

Despite its unusual premise, Ninja Pizza Girl’s story is based on the real-life experiences of our two eldest daughters going through High School. Being a teenager is tough. Being a teenager that’s slightly different to all the other teenagers around you is a nightmare.

Disparity Games is looking for $35,000 in pledge funding to launch Ninja Pizza Girl in March 2015 for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Versions for consoles are being negotiated.

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ghostly_buddy

What happens in Don’t Starve’s cooperative multiplayer mode when your partner dies? She or he turns into a ghost, of course! Klei Entertainment’s Seth Rosen posted some details of the upcoming Don’t Starve Together update including a video demonstrating the co-op afterlife. Rosen explains the haunting mechanic.

When I haunt something, it gives me back some life force (the blue stomach meter). As long as I have some life force, my humanity (the blue heart meter) won’t drain further, which is good because my humanity level is my maximum health if and when I get revived. If I manage to get my life force meter full (through haunting enough objects, which I was actually able to do in a dense forest – though the forest also got burned down, or by haunting a resurrection object or being given a reviver by a living player), then I will get resurrected.

Rosen noted that the final ghost implementation will be adjusted to foster less griefing. Don’t Starve Together will be a free update for all owners of the base game later this year.

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, | Game reviews
divinity_main_small

I was just looking for a spell scroll, perhaps something that would shoot a fireball or drop a boulder from the sky, when I accidentally click and dragged a barrel of oil that I had in my character’s inventory. (Why was my fighter dragging a barrel of combustible liquid around? Oh, that’s right. I had accidentally put it into his pockets during a routine loot grab and hadn’t bothered to get rid of it.) Plop! My fighter tossed the barrel out into the middle of the undead pack that was trying to eat my party’s brains. Wait a minute! This could work. My fighter bashed the barrel open with a mighty swing of his axe, spilling oil on the ground. My ranger used a scroll of fire immunity on the fighter, then my wizard tossed a flaming bolt at the puddle. Whoosh! The undead went up in a satisfying blaze while my protected warrior laughed.

After the jump, what can you say about a game that’s like one big Easter egg for role-playing game fans? Continue reading →

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, | Game reviews
Reign_of_Missiles_review

I bought A Reign of Missiles, a solitaire game, a year or so ago based on a tip from a friend. It didn’t make much an impression at the time, but I admired its attempt to model a very specific situation. Namely, the reaction of Israel to rocket attacks launched out of the Gaza Strip in 2012. That’s not an easy thing to game for various reasons, among them that it’s a very current event, a very divisive current event, and a not very gameworthy divisive current event. But A Reign of Missiles enjoys the unique luxury of small projects no one has heard of. I don’t intend that as an insult. Indie flags fly like no other flags.

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas has escalated over the past month, and now that it has once again re-ignited into an exchange of rockets from Hamas and air strikes from Israel and ground forces poised to raise the stakes even further, I returned to A Reign of Missiles for a closer look (i.e. I actually cut out the counters and played it a few times). What can we learn about the conflict between Israel and Hamas from playing this solitaire tabletop game?

After the jump, are you kidding? Continue reading →

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, | Games
Mario_workings_fast_food

You’re playing too much Mario Kart 8 when you look at the above photo of a Mario Kart 8 event at a Los Angeles McDonalds to promote Nintendo-themed Happy Meals and the second thing you think is “you know, those kids might be getting extra top speed by equipping the slick tires, but they’re really sacrificing traction and acceleration, so they should consider swapping them out for sponge wheels, or maybe rollers, depending on the track”.

Of course, the first thing you think is, “man, Mario is really creepy as a life-sized fast food worker”.

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boyes

The advantages of early access for developers are obvious. Games offered through Steam’s early access program have allowed independent developers a way to finance their projects while leveraging community participation, and gives them the power to avoid contractual pitfalls that can come with publisher backing. High-profile games like DayZ, Rust, Planetary Annihilation, and Prison Architect are benefitting from early access. Larian Studios even attributes the success of their recently launched RPG Divinity: Original Sin to feedback gleaned from players during the early access period.

While PC players may have demonstrated their eagerness to purchase unfinished games, will console players do so as well? Sony is considering the question. In an interview with Gamasutra, Sony’s Adam Boyes says that figuring out how to do early access the right way is something his company is looking into.

That’s one of the massive conversations we have internally – that, at what point does [a game meet standards of release]? We still at some point ensure that we’re being mindful of the consumer. We don’t want somebody to stumble across that title and expect a full product, and have a negative experience.

Boyes admits that he played Rust and had a great time despite it being unfinished.

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dead_island_2_box

Publisher Deep Silver is polling the community to determine what keepsakes they’d like to see in a Dead Island 2 Collector’s Edition. A beach towel? Beer cooler case? A zombie arm back scratcher? There doesn’t seem to be a choice that includes a bloody dismembered bikini-clad torso like they originally planned to ship with Dead Rising: Riptide. A golden zombie “Oscar” statue just doesn’t have the same impact.

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, | Game reviews
Caverna_review

Uwe Rosenberg’s Agricola is a classic boardgame for many reasons. It’s easy to learn, yet it’s wildly varied. It’s charming enough to play with your family, yet it’s brutal enough to play with your buddies. It’s a beautiful piece of work, with solid pieces, hearty boards, cute cards, and a distinct autumnal palette. Quick, what color is Agricola? You know you said orange.

However, Agricola has worked its way to the back of my closet with the rest of my infrequently played games. And I know precisely why. It suffers from what I call “the reed problem”. Caverna, the latest game from Rosenberg and an obvious follow-up to Agricola, handily sidesteps the reed problem, and furthermore fixes a lot of Agricola’s shortcomings. I fear that my copy of Agricola will never make its way to the front of the closet.

After the jump, a much needed de-reeding. Continue reading →

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kimmy

Scoff if you will at the simple gameplay and obvious free-to-play money grind mechanics, but Bloomberg reports that the financial outlook on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is green. The mobile game is on track to make $200 million in revenue by the end of this year and developer Glu Mobile is reaping the rewards.

“It might be our biggest game of the year,” Chief Executive Officer Niccolo de Masi said in an interview. “We’re not surprised. Kim is a one-of-a-kind talent with an incredibly precise fit to the game engine that we tailored but already had in the company.”

The game encourages players to climb the social strata of Hollywood by dating celebrities, making extravagant purchases in Beverly Hills, and being seen by the right media at the right times. Players can purchase in-game currency to speed things up, or earn them the hard way by actually playing the game. If that sounds shallow, keep in mind that it’s the only program in the Apple Appstore Top 10 with a perfect 5-star rating. Fans of the game noted that the game’s appeal comes from the integrated social media aspects that keep them involved with the real-life Kim Kardashian.

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riddles_in_the_skull

It turns out that the answer, according to this Twitter exchange between a player of Skullgirls Encore and developer Lab Zero Games, is that people who see the above screen have probably not paid for the game.

“So I got this message after beating story with both Para and Cere and I have no idea what it means…”

“Oh that? It means you should probably buy the game instead of pirate it. o:)”

Bravo, Lab Zero.

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Ragha

Ragha is a dual kingdom of fire and ice, rage and serenity. Half of the population are Abysian descendants from the isolated colony of Tur, and half the population are Airyan refugees from Caelum.

So here’s the deal. A bunch of fire warriors get attacked by some flying ice people. But then a civil war breaks out in the homeland of the flying ice people, so the attackers aren’t sure if the war is still on. While they’re waiting on the civil war to shake out, they settle peacefully alongside the fire warriors they were attacking. Many years later, the result is the Ragha, a mixed race of fire and ice people where the rulers take turns based on whether it’s summer or winter. Bipartisan politics at its finest!

The Ragha thrive differently in either extreme of temperatures, and you can play them in Dominions 4. Some of their units can only be recruited in places where it’s really hot or really cold. “Wrong temperature” the tooltip says as you go down the line checking which units you can build.

The Ragha are available as a free update to Dominions 4.

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boeing-747-fsx

After Microsoft Flight! crashed and burned, you could be forgiven if you thought Microsoft’s once-flagship PC flight simulation franchise was dead. If you’ve ever noticed the copious amounts of DLC in Steam for Train Simulator, you know that there’s an audience that not only buys these types of rivet-counting no-combat simulations, they buy a lot of really expensive DLC to go with them. Dovetail Games, makers of Train Simulator, think they have what it takes to transfer some of that train sim success to planes because they have secured the rights to create a new Flight Simulation game from Microsoft.

We are very proud of the strong community we have created around the Train Simulator series of products, and we are looking forward to extending our knowledge and experience into working closely with the flight simulation community. We know that they are a very knowledgeable, passionate and committed group of individuals and we welcome their feedback and involvement as we start to create the next generation of games in this area.

As part of their licensing deal, Dovetail will also be bringing Microsoft Flight X, originally released in 2006, to modern gamers with Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition later this year. It will include the Deluxe Edition and the Acceleration Expansion Pack features.

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alienz

Most of the original cast of 1979 film Alien will reprise their roles in pre-order DLC missions for Sega’s Alien: Isolation. According to the announcement by the publisher, Sigourney Weaver will play Ellen Ripley in DLC missions “Crew Expendable” and “Last Survivor.” She will be joined by Tom Skerritt as Dallas, Veronica Cartwright as Lambert, Harry Dean Stanton as Brett, and Yaphet Kotto as Parker. Ian Holm’s murderous robot will be played by another voice actor. Both segments will feature missions based on scenes from the movie. The first mission will even allow players to take the supporting character roles. Maybe you’ll do better as Dallas in the air vents?

Alien: Isolation’s main story involves Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda (as discussed in scenes from the director’s cut version of the movie) investigating her mother’s disappearance 15 years earlier. Alien: Isolation will be available on October 7th for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC. The “Nostromo Edition” featuring the DLC levels will be part of the pre-order bonus incentives.

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