Using Google to find Carmen Sandiego seems like cheating

, | News

If you were a kid or parent during the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, you might have fond memories of Carmen Sandiego, a globetrotting ne’er-do-well that was foiled only via the geographical knowledge possessed by elementary school children. The Broderbund classic series of games began with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and spanned over a decade of cartoons, books, and other media. Her popularity has waned over the years, but there were sporadic sightings to keep her on 90’s kids’ minds. (She has a Netflix animated series, but her last game sighting was in 2015 when The Learning Company released Carmen Sandiego Returns.) Now, thanks to the magic of Google Earth, you can look for Carmen again! Just go to Google Earth, click the “Catch Carmen Sandiego” button and you’ll be transported on an edutainment adventure.

You can pay for the next Apex Legends pass by grinding the first one

, | News

Respawn and Electronic Arts have published details of the Season 1 Battle Pass for Apex Legends. For about $10 in real-world money, you can have the opportunity to grind through 100 levels of rewards. If you diligently kill your way to the end of the pass content, you’ll win enough in-game cash to purchase the next Battle Pass, assuming it costs the same 950 Apex coins. Will there be enough earnable coins in Season 2 to buy Season 3 as well? Maybe we will all be playing the next hot Battle Royale game by then.

Apex Legends Season 1 Battle Pass: Wild Frontier begins tomorrow. There is a free track for cheapskates that offers a few consolation prizes.

Snoop Dogg’s Gangsta Gaming League is a real trip

, | News

Once you’ve redefined rap, worked with Dr. Dre, and cooked with Martha Stewart, what do you do next? You take your Madden NFL skills on the road and start a an eSports gaming league. Snoop Dogg is an avid gamer and he loves weed. He’s seen an opportunity for an eSports organization that covers that lifestyle. The Gangsta Gaming League promises to highlight his love of both activities. The first games of Snoop Dogg’s tournament happened overnight, and you can watch a recording of the stream here.

The truly eternal Empire of the Sun…is a wargame

, | Game reviews

I recently said that you should pay attention to questions designers are asking. But what I didn’t say was that often, these are questions the players have given them. I’m pretty sure this is what has given us such a lackluster roster of Pacific theater wargames over the years. “How do these carriers fight??” “Where are the critical hits??” Reasonable questions to ask about a campaign marked by carrier battles by a generation brought up reading Walter Lord’s Incredible Victory. So designers chased mechanics that allowed players to recreate specific encounters with ships and planes, while not quite knowing how to integrate this into a larger context. The logistical considerations, huge distances, intermittent pace of fighting, and lack of clear front lines all conspired to stymie designers from the beginning of the hobby. SPI’s infamous U.S.N. showed how back in 1971 there just wasn’t the development skill and mechanics vocabulary to address such a complex design problem. John Prados, designer of the revolutionary Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, failed utterly to adapt his economic system to the Pacific with 1977’s Pearl Harbor. That same year, a game that focused almost entirely on the ships fighting came as close as anyone could for a long time. And no one calls Victory in the Pacific a realistic wargame.

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Best thing you’ll see all week: Prospect

, | Movie reviews

Movies are uniquely suited to building worlds by letting you listen and watch.  Traditional exposition is a crutch. Wasted time that could be spent showing me something, letting me catch something in the dialogue.  I’m already watching the movie, so I obviously want to be here. And if I’m watching, I’m listening. A movie should take advantage of my attention.  It should value it as much as I do. It should reward me. It should appreciate that I decided to be here.

There aren’t many movies that appreciate my attention as much as Prospect.

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After 17 years, Dwarf Fortress is ready for a retail release

, | News

The unofficial community motto for Dwarf Fortress may be “Losing is Fun” but the game is finally going to win a sales spot in stores. Dwarf Fortress is coming to Steam and itchio. The granddaddy of minutiae will remain free in its original spartan form from Bay 12 Games, but the newfangled paid version created in partnership with Kitfox Games will feature entitled gamer junk like music and graphics. You haven’t seen hardcore gaming until your decades-old village of miners succumbs to a plague and flushes weeks of your time.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC is not an Epic Store exclusive

, | News

The long-rumored, often hoaxed, PC version of Halo: The Master Chief Collection is finally on its way. In a surprising announcement, the title will be available on Steam as well as the Windows Store. The games will launch one at a time, to give developers 343 Industries, Splash Damage, and Ruffian the chance to make sure each releases in tip-top shape.

Our current plan is for this journey to begin with the launch of Halo: Reach – the fictional beginnings of Master Chief’s saga – with the rest of the titles following in chronological order thereafter. Halo: Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST (Campaign), and Halo 4 will each be available for individual purchase within MCC as they become available.

In related news, Halo: Reach is being added to the collection. It will be added to Xbox One players’ accounts as a free multiplayer extension, with the campaign and horde-mode gameplay available for a fee. Once completed, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will include six Halo games. That’s a ton of Flood-blasting, Arbiter-baiting, and Cortana-wooing.

Let me guess. Someone stole your doughnut in Fallout 76?

, | News

Fallout 76 is getting its first seasonal event. The Fasnacht Parade is a repeatable week-long celebration in the town of Helvetia that will include gathering quests for party prep, robot marcher escorting, and dealing with uninvited guests that will culminate in a chance to win one of the cosmetic masks pictured above. Fasnacht for Fallout 76 begins on March 19th and ends on March 26th.

The “Fasnacht” in the game is likely based on the Fastnacht or Fasching Carnivals in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, a version of which has been transported to the United States via the Pennsylvania Dutch communities. A fasnacht is a type of pastry traditionally eaten during Carnival.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 shows off the softer cousin of loot boxes

, | News

Larian Studios is adding more free content to Divinity: Original Sin 2. Today, along with the latest patch, everyone is getting more visual customization options for the character creator. Larian calls it Gift Bag #1, (not to be confused with loot boxes, which the studio says are “hard and contain loot”) with another Gift Bag coming soon. Larian founder Swen Vincke says more free content will be released throughout the year with help from Fool’s Theory and Anshar Studios.

Don’t be fooled by the “new” Z1 Battle Royale. It’s just H1Z1 again.

, | News

H1Z1 is now Z1 Battle Royale. It’s the third re-launch of the game since its 2015 early access launch as H1Z1 by Daybreak Game Company. In early 2016, it was split into H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Hill, then both projects were changed in 2017 to Just Survive and H1Z1 respectively. Now under development with NantG, Z1 Battle Royale supposedly reverses many changes that angered the core players during the last year, and adds all the free-to-play battle royale genre goodness one would expect like goofy cosmetics, loot crates, and seasonal play.

“Since taking over development of the game in September the team here at NantG has worked with a firey [sic] passion to bring back the feel that was lost with the Combat Update.”

The new Z1 Battle Royale roadmap is available here. Look out, Apex Legends! Your competitor has arrived.

Gwent vants to zuck your blood… And money!

, | News

CD Projekt RED has announced the first card expansion for their free-to-play Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. The Crimson Curse set features cards themed around Dettlaff van der Eretein, the vampire from The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine DLC. As you may already suspect, vampiric abilities, blood poisons, and bats figure heavily in the 100+ new cards. That’s enough new cards to make Sesame Street’s Count von Count (yes, that’s his real name) pause!

The Crimson Curse for Gwent will be available on March 28th.

Your window to buy a PS Vita is closing

, | News

Sony has officially signaled the end of production for the PS Vita handheld console. The company has cancelled the two remaining PS Vita models on the product page, ending the manufacturing run. Pour one out for the little battery eater.

The Sony PS Vita launched in 2011 and despite strong initial sales, never cemented the case for handheld gaming outside of smartphone apps or Nintendo’s offerings. Sony has no plans for a follow-up handheld.