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Inside the troubled development of Star Citizen, looking back on gaming without nostalgia, YouTube heroes explained, Civ VI devs show off combat and city building, Battle.net name change, crunch culture of Japan, Oculus founder helped to fund "shitposting meme magic" group, what 'optimization' really means in games, a look at Japanese arcades, SF V Update makes PCs vulnerable to malware, Nintendo taking final orders for the Wii U, postmortem on Sorcery! series, Paper Mario accidentally released early for some, 23 year old game being localized, the realities of being a game designer in a big studio, Asia's videogame subcultures, Valve tweaks review system and UI, stories of murder and theft from Ultima Online, and more.

 

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AJSA Youtube's This Week In Gaming

 

Gaming News

 

Nintendo NX to be released Christmas 2016?

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Nintendo is now taking final orders on Wii U consoles. Those that haven't ordered by the end of next week (Friday September 30) will not be able to order the Wii U again from Nintendo. Is this Nintendo's last roll of the dice with the Wii U so they can plan to give retailers details about the new hardware next month? Is something exciting due to be announced in October?

 

YouTube Heroes Explained

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YouTube Heroes, announced September 20th, immediately drew massive pushback, but is it really as awful as people think it is?

If you don't want to sort through videos of people misunderstanding things, yelling, or freaking out about the thing that will cause the "death of Youtube" (this month), then the the above video is a good one that actually looks at the system and the ideas that were likely behind it. Jim Sterling also did a good video but it tends to repeat what he has already said about Youtube in a video I shared the last time Youtube was dying, and this talks a bit more into some of the systems behind it.

 

Blizzard Is Killing The Name 'Battle.net'

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It’s the end of an era for Blizzard, as the company announced today plans to say farewell to the name Battle.net, which they’ve used to refer to their internet platform since 1996.

 

Valve slightly tweaks Steam's review system again

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Last week, Valve made a number of changes to Steam's review system in order to curb abuse. That involved removing from a game's overall score any review from customers who acquired games via key activations. This naturally irked a number of people, in particular developers accustomed to distributing keys following successful Kickstarter campaigns. The argument was that the most passionate fans were being removed from the metrics.

Steam is getting a UI overhaul soon, according to new Steamworks post

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A significant update to Steam's UI appears to be on the way, according to a leaked post by Valve. Originally posted in the closed, developers-only Steamworks group, the document outlines all forthcoming changes to the storefront, including a home page visual refresh and new discoverability sections, among other things.

 

Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen

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For the past seven months, I’ve been talking to the people who have been making Star Citizen. This includes its directors, a number of anonymous sources who’ve worked on it, and the man who drives the whole project: Chris Roberts. From the outside, Star Citizen appears to have been wildly successful; to date, it has raised more than $124 million from passionate fans. The money has allowed its developer, Cloud Imperium Games, to open studios around the world and employ more than 325 talented developers.

The 24-Year Feud That Has Dogged Star Citizen

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This is part of an ongoing series about Star Citizen on Kotaku UK. Read our investigation into the game's development so far, Inside The Troubled Development of Star Citizen, right here.

Star Citizen's First-Person View Is Based On Birds

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Star Citizen’s first-person view isn’t like other games, where you’re essentially in control of a floating camera. That approach is tried and true, but not wholly realistic. In the preposterously ambitious space game, your view and your body are one-in-the-same, just like in a real human body. Problem: turns out, human bodies have a lot going on.

 

Battlefield 1 unveils its maps and modes

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As Battlefield 1 hurtles towards its October 21 release, EA and DICE continue to drip feed us new details on what to expect. Using the “most optimised” version of the Frostbite Engine to date, we learned that their take on the Great War begs some pretty intensive system specs earlier this week, and we now know the nine maps and six modes it’ll boast at launch. 

Battlefield 2142 Revive brings back EA's cult-classic online shooter

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The ten-year-old sci-fi shooter Battlefield 2142 is back, sort of, thanks to Battlefield 2142 Revive, a fan-made project that went into release just ahead of the weekend. It's free to download and play, and even though it isn't officially sanctioned, Electronic Arts so far seems content to let it slide.

New Battlefield 1 Single-Player Campaign Details Emerge

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The rating description explains that Battlefield 1 is set in "various locations" during the Great War. Players will take on the roles of a number of characters as the plot unfolds, including, according to the description, a fighter pilot, an armor crewman, a rebel fighter, and a "message-runner."

 

Trajan takes charge of Rome in Civilization 6

Civilization 6 puts Gilgamesh in charge of Sumeria

CIVILIZATION VI - Devs Show Off Combat and City Growth

 

NetherRealm addresses concern around Injustice 2's new Gear System

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"We anticipated what some of the hesitation might be from players and are developing intelligently to deliver something which will hopefully appeal to all of our fans, whether you're a hardcore fighting game enthusiast or a more casual fan," NetherRealm's Brian Goodman told Eurogamer in an interview at EGX.

 

THINGS SEEN IN YAKUZA 6’S NEW TRAILER: CRYING BABIES, CAT CAFÉS, AND LOTS OF SUSHI

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Where we last left Kazuma, he had just reconciled with Haruka. He fell in the snow, bleeding—the injuries sustained from the final battle appearing to have mortally wounded him. Kazuma, losing consciousness, said he had to “go back where everyone is waiting for me.” Whether this meant the afterlife with his fallen brothers, or in the theater square with the yakuza families, or even the Sunshine Orphanage, is left unclear. In an emotional scene, he regains consciousness, asking Haruka if he’s dreaming, to which she replies it’s not a dream. The ending of Yakuza 5 (2012) lead us to believe that Kazuma, after nearly dying, was ready to start over—to leave his dangerous lifestyle behind and reconnect with the things that matter most to him.

 

Yakuza 0's Business Edition Revealed, PC Version Not in the Works

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New details about Yakuza 0 have been revealed, including the specifics of a special day one edition that will be available and a potential PC version (which you shouldn't get your hopes up for).

 

Dawn of War 3 Eldar units and heroes detailed

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Relic and Sega have released more information about Dawn of War 3's Eldar faction. These elfin warriors are referred to as the "swordwind" because of their love of hit-and-run tactics, which they accomplish using webgate portals and units that can run really fast.

 

Obsidian’s Tyranny looks wonderful in new behind-the-scenes dev diary

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Tyranny—the forthcoming high fantasy RPG that’s being developed by Obsidian —bucks the standard genre trend of portraying an empowered Good battling a merciless Evil. Instead, it takes place in the aftermath of conflict in something Chris described as “like a sequel to a game we haven't played or a story we've never read.” The source of that fresh-familiarity dichotomy is explored in the latest developer diary which reveals how Tyranny’s world and characters are brought to life.

Tyranny - Spell Creation & Dungeon Crawl

 

Princess Maker 2 Refine coming to PC via Steam in English on October 3

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A 1993 life simulation game developed by Japanese studio Gainax.

 

Dishonored 2 trailer shows Emily and Corvo’s creative kills

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Split between two Emily-led set pieces and two Corvo-starring ones, the following short showcases both heroes mixing and matching a selection of their supernatural abilities, weapons and gadgets to make light work of oncoming foes.

“Players won’t understand Dishonored 2 till they play it twice” claims Harvey Smith

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But we do have a lot of players who go through many times, because in Dishonored you cannot see everything at once. You probably only see 25% of the game if you play it once.

 

Bit.Trip Runner 3 coming 2017

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Choice Provisions, developer of the Bit.Trip series, announced the next game in its Commander Video-starring platformer series today: Runner 3. The studio didn’t provide much in the way of detail on the follow-up to Bit.Trip Runner 2, but did release a short teaser trailer and a release window for the game; it’s coming in 2017.

 

There’s yet another Wonder Boy game in the works

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Sega and Westone’s classic side-scrolling arcade game Wonder Boy is coming to Steam this fall in the form of a remake, Wonder Boy Returns. Developed by Korean company CFK, Wonder Boy Returns will feature redrawn and redesigned characters, as well as new levels and monsters.

 

Telltale’s Bloody ‘Batman’ Shows How the Studio’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Should Have Been

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Spoilers follow for Batman: The Telltale Series, and Telltale's Game of Thrones, too. So if you've not played either game, but are planning to, it's best to click away for now and come back later.

 

UPCOMING GAME ABOUT A STUFFED RABBIT GOES TO A SURPRISINGLY DARK PLACE

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If you ever had a favorite stuffed animal as a kid, you had one or two close calls where it was left somewhere a little too long and forgotten. Most of the time, an eagle-eyed parent would spot it and rescue it from the corner of the laundromat, or the rental car. Other times, it wasn’t so lucky, and sleepless nights would be spent until it was retrieved from its hiding place or a suitable replacement was found. Now take that childhood dependency and switch it around.

 

Being Lara Croft in VR Is Basically ‘Tomb Raider: Gone Home Edition’

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Tomb Raider's never been about standing still. Play the latest instalment in the 20-year-old series, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and it's all motion, all energy, all the time. Pillars collapse around you. Bullets fly. Walkways fall apart beneath your feet. Hungry bears fancy you for their lunch. Pausing to look at things, whatever their age or value, is a relative rarity. It's certainly not something you'd ever imagine a Tomb Raider to be built around.

 

3on3 Freestyle Brings Street Basketball to PS4 in Q4 2016

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Joycity is proud to announce that we are inviting gamers to try a closed beta version of our multiplayer street basketball game, 3on3 Freestyle for PS4. We could not be more excited to have passionate gamers test our game and give us feedback, but before you go and sign up for the closed beta, we would like to tell you the story of how we put the game together.

 

Beyond Good & Evil Director Teasing Fans With New Artwork

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Michel Ancel, creator of Beyond Good & Evil, has reignited speculation that a sequel is in development at Ubisoft. Ancel posted artwork on Instagram which features a male engineer-type character with a pig sitting on his shoulder.

 

Sundered is an arty Metroidvania-style game coming next year

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Here's the first trailer for Sundered, a side-scrolling combat game from Thunder Lotus, best known for Norse fantasy Jotun which focused on tough boss battles.

 

A DADDY-DAUGHTER STEALTH GAME ABOUT ESCAPING A WAR-TORN CITY

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Now there’s another on the way and it’s called Lily – Colors of Santa Luz. A graduate project from the Paris-based 3D animation school ISART Digital, Lily has players assume the role of Yvan—a father desperately trying to shepherd his young daughter to safety and keep her innocence intact. This is off the back of their once-vibrant home bring turned to ruins; it ensnared in the presence of a malicious occupying force. The story is told from the perspective of a 45-year-old Lily, recollecting the events of that defining day via the scrapbook of drawings and mementos the player collects amid their escape from Santa Luz.

 

Version-exclusive Pokémon and New Features Revealed in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon!

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Take a look at some of the version-exclusive Pokémon you'll meet in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon!

 

Top 5 Things We Learned in the For Honor Alpha

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From dense maps to character upgrade strategies, Spencer details the top 5 things learned from the recent For Honor Alpha.

 

EGX 2016: Torment: Tides of Numenera - Building reactive narrative in impossible worlds

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Torment: Tides of Numenera is set in a wonderfully bizarre world filled with incomprehensibly advanced technology. Colin McComb, creative lead for the project, discusses the process for creating believable characters and responsive stories for a game set a billion years in the future.

 

Titanfall 2 will bring back Attrition mode

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Titanfall 2 will offer Attrition, the fan-favorite competitive multiplayer mode that was available in the original Titanfall, developer Respawn Entertainment confirmed today.

Titanfall 2 will have a one-on-one dueling mode

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EA’s Titanfall 2 will feature a one-on-one game mode called Coliseum. In a press release issued today, representatives of the Mountain Dew and Doritos brands said the mode would be accessible via special codes available on their retail products.

 

Nintendo's Big Fall Wii U Game Briefly Went On Sale Two Weeks Early

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Some shocked Wii U owners spread the word this morning that Paper Mario Color Splash, the only remaining big Nintendo-published Wii U game of 2016, was playable today despite it not technically going on sale until October 7.

 

OH DAMN, A GAME INSPIRED BY ALBERT ROBIDA ILLUSTRATIONS IS ON THE WAY

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Zipping along an elevated restaurant and opera house, there are flying cars, buses, and other ships. The sky is teeming with these vehicles, transporting Victorian-garbed folks to and from their destinations. This is the futuristic world envisioned by 19th century artist Albert Robida in Le Sortie de l’opéra en l’an 2000. This is the same world inspiring Voici, an upcoming game being created by Rotterdam-based designer Joost Eggermont. Under the backdrop of a retro-futuristic city, Voici oozes the same kind of playfulness and charm as found in many of Robida’s prescient works.

 

Failbetter Games announces Sunless Skies

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Failbetter Games has announced Sunless Skies, a sequel to Sunless Sea, live on stage at EGX 2016.

7 Facts About Our Next Game

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Our next game, the sequel to Sunless Sea, will be called Sunless Skies, and we’re doing a Kickstarter for it in February next year!

SUNLESS SKIES PROMISES A GLORIOUSLY VICTORIAN SCI-FI TALE

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In place of an underground empire is a stellar one (space, that is), as orderly and controlled in a way that only autocratic Newtonian mathematics and the predictable, elliptical orbits of Kepler can be. And, rather than a captain venturing out from safety, the player will control someone shunted out to the periphery of this perfect, ordered empire: bohemians, revolutionaries, and outcasts.

 

ASTRONEER WILL TAKE HUMANITY’S FIGHT AGAINST NATURE TO SPACE

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In last year’s man vs. nature (in space) thriller The Martian, Matt Damon’s stranded botanist looks into the camera and tells us exactly how grave his situation is. “If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of implode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death…”

 

Planet Coaster will, of course, let you crash your rollercoasters

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Planet Coaster, the spiritual successor to the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, will have its own coaster crashes. Obviously.

 

Watch Dogs 2 - Welcome to DedSec Trailer

15 Minutes of Watch Dogs 2's High-Tech Gadgets

Watch Dogs 2: A Full Mission of Failing Hacks and Firing Guns

Watch Dogs 2 feels slick, enjoyable, but terribly hollow

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Watch Dogs 2 is about Sticking it to the Man in the same way that ordering salad in a burger joint is about bringing down the entire fast food industry. It's also a joyfully barmy open world affair in which you can get yourself murdered by blowing kisses at gangsters. Watch Dogs 2 is about being an online freedom fighter, waging war on the power-brokers of cyberspace, in the same way that owning a Che Guevara poster makes you a fully paid-up communist. It's also a sleek stealth-action sandbox in which you can dismantle an entire factory complex using nothing but volatile gas pipelines and an RC car.

 

Yooka-Laylee Official Character Trailer Starring Shovel Knight

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The spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie is seeing a guest appearance from the spiritual successor to the 8- and 16-bit mascot platformer.

 

Persona 5's Real-World Locations

 

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The major Tokyo locations, such as Shibuya Station, match up well enough, but it’s interesting to see what inspired where the Protagonist lives.

 

Endless Space 2 Hits Early Access Next Week

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Interstellar 4X strategy game Endless Space 2 [official site] will launch onto Steam Early Access

 

Mafia 3 - Official 16 Minute Gameplay Demo

 

Fifa 17: Iceland team in 'cash row' with game developers EA

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Iceland will not feature in the Fifa 17 video game because of a cash row with developers Electronic Arts, says the country's football association (KSI).

 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – System Rift DLC Launch Trailer

 

Sunless Sea's Zubmariner expansion gets a launch trailer

 

Watch five minutes of Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel gameplay

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Dark Souls 3 developer From Software has released nearly five minutes of new footage from its upcoming Ashes of Ariandel expansion.

Wolves Ate Us in Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel

 

Overwatch Test Patch Adds Tons Of New Voice Lines

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Yesterday, Overwatch’s public test server got an update that added new spectator options and tweaked the balance of Ana, Widowmaker, and Junkrat in ways that may or may not make it into the regular game. But that’s not all.

Overwatch to buff Symmetra in November, says game director

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Of its 22 character roster, Indian architect Symmetra is one of the game’s least played characters. Game director Jeff Kaplan describes her as a “situational” hero, which is why Blizzard plans to reevaluate her stats in the coming months.

Blizzard reveals fix for Overwatch thumbstick acceleration control

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A patch is coming to Overwatch that could change the experience considerably on console. Blizzard is finally doing something about thumbstick acceleration.

 

GTA 5's Biker DLC Arrives October 4, New Screenshots Released

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Rockstar has announced the next content update for GTA 5's online mode will be available on October 4. The Bikers update will introduce "underground motorcycle clubs to the forefront of the Los Santos and Blaine County criminal underworld."

 

Capcom promises Street Fighter 5 rollback after "rootkit" discovered in the latest update

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A furor has erupted over a new “anti-crack solution” in Street Fighter 5, which actually installed hidden, unsecured "rootkit" in Windows. Its presence came to light when players noticed that the most recent update was seeking “kernel level” access to Windows for no apparent reason; worse, according to this thread, the Capcom.sys driver at the heart of the problem “doesn't specify any security, so any user at any privilege level can attempt to open and control the device.”

 

Big changes are coming to The Division

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Now, Ubisoft has announced plans to tackle one of The Division's biggest problems: balance.

 

Breaking up with Batman

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Rocksteady Games, creator of the Batman Arkhamverse, is here at EGX to show off Batman VR - a brand new Batman Arkham experience made after the studio said they were definitely done with Batman.

 

Ubisoft aims to foster Canadian indie scene via dev contest series

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Embattled Ubisoft intends to make a show of supporting the indie game community in Canada this fall via a series of open competitions to which indie devs can submit their games -- and potentially win prizes that include money, support and publishing on uPlay.

 

It’s like somebody always says, probably: If you can’t beat ‘em, convince them to join you.

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Upon discovering a few pirated versions of their PlayStation Vita game, SUPERBEAT: XONiC, on the Vita Piracy and Vita Hacks subreddits, developer PM Studios joined the discussion. Here’s what they wrote

 

Oculus Rift Founder Palmer Luckey Funding Trump Shitposters

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Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus Rift, has been keeping busy since he sold the company to Facebook in 2014. One thing he’s done to pass the time, as reported by The Daily Beast, is to financially back (and be named Vice President of) a company dedicated to alt-right meme shitposts.

The company, described in The Daily Beast’s article as “a pro-Trump political organization”, is called Nimble America, and say they are dedicated to establishing that “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real.”

“We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it’s time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not,” a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit.

Insomniac, other devs condemn Palmer Luckey's support of pro-Trump group

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Much of the anger over Luckey’s decision to support Nimble America seems to be rooted in the group’s close ties to the Donald Trump-dedicated subreddit, which in recent months has become a home for white supremacist images and has been the home to racist, anti-semitic, and sexist language.

Luckey’s (admitted) support therefore doesn't just constitute the support of a Republican presidential candidate, but also a contribution to a group aiming to build on the work of that subreddit.

 

Frictional's existential horror game Soma sells 450K, turns profit

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Soma, the latest horror title from Amnesia developer Frictional Games, has sold 450,000 copies in 12 months to help the studio break even on the game, and even turn a bit of undisclosed profit.

 

N64 Emulator Pops Up On Xbox One, Gets Removed

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A Nintendo 64 emulator was briefly available on Xbox One earlier this week, but Microsoft yanked it from the store today.

 

Pokémon Uranium finally shuts down development, once and for all

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After shelving the project in August, the team behind ambitious fan-game Pokémon Uranium has ceased all development. That means no more updates or patches for the free download, which could only be found through unofficial means after Nintendo sent a copyright notice.

 

Esports News

 

After Backlash, Riot Is Changing How Pros Are Paid

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League of Legends publisher Riot Games announced major changes to their revenue structure today, addressing concerns waged against Riot by esports figureheads last month.

Can Riot's latest initiative save the League of Legends pro scene?

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To say that Riot has had a mixed month would be an understatement. The company has had a flurry of ups and downs over the last few weeks: on one hand, they’ve released some exciting new projects, including a critically acclaimed board game. On the other hand, there have been doubts about their long-term prospects. Marc “Tryndamere” Merrill has ended up with egg on his face over a couple of occasions, including the now infamous Reddit comment that kicked off a war between Riot and team owners over the economic sustainability of the LCS.

 

Heroes of the Storm takes inspiration from League of Legends in 2017 esports plans

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After a rough year for Heroes of the Storm’s esports scene — which included the 2015 world champion team disbanding — Blizzard is taking drastic action with some extremely ambitious plans for next year. And if you’ve played League of Legends before, these plans are likely to look familiar.

 

Bayonetta Player Humiliates Opponent In Japanese Smash Bros. Tournament

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Hiro did, however, get the consolation prize of completely disrespecting the tournament’s third-place finisher, Chanshu.

 

A video of the full match can be found linked in the article.

 

Smash Bros. Player Shuts Down Heckler, Goes On To Win Tournament

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ZeRo is also fighting another battle, however. Along with a number of other pro Smash players, he’s looking for the scene around the competitive game to evolve and change, in part, so that other players at tournaments don’t have to deal with the kind of interruption and harassment he says is prominent at every tournament he attends.

 

Smash Bros. Player's Sexual Consent Guide Ignites Debate In Community

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Chhetri’s article didn’t come out of nowhere. Over the summer, at least five female Smash players publicly alleged sexual assault perpetrated by male community members. Most prominently, in July, Smash streamer VikkiKitty came forward alleging that pro Smash 4 player Hyuga sexually assaulted her in a hotel room (Hyuga would go on to say he was drunk and didn’t remember what happened but also said “I accept all my consequences and punishment.”) Several other lower-profile instances of alleged assault have bubbled to the surface, with responses ranging from sympathy to aggressive doubt. Chhetri’s recent report rides on the heels of what she describes as “the recent community-wide outbreak of reported sexual assaults”

 

Virtual reality gets going in esports—a lot faster than expected

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When Valve released its spectator hub for Dota 2—just in time for The International 2016—it probably got the ball rolling concerning virtual reality experiences in esports. A partnership between ESL and SLIVER.tv, a small 360 virtual reality startup, will make sure Valve’s second popular esports title, CS:GO, gets its VR injection too.

 

Team Dignitas and Apex are now owned by the Philadelphia 76ers

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The Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA have acquired Team Dignitas and Apex, becoming the first North American pro sports franchise to own and operate its own esports team. The 76ers said the two outfits will be merged under the Team Dignitas name, and will field teams in League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite.

 

Crowdfunding News

 

Code: HARDCORE - The Coolest 2D Mecha Battle Game

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High-quality mecha-themed 2D platform shooting game designed to deliver an amazing gaming experience.

 

TINY METAL

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An indie turn based tactics game by a bunch of grizzled Japanese devs.

If Nintendo Won't Make A New Advance Wars, These Guys Will

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Tiny Metal, billed as a “spirtual successor” to the Advance Wars series (which hasn’t seen a new release since 2008), is being worked on by guys like writer Hiro Inaba (I Am Setsuna, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright) and Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta (who, weirdly, is not composing ,but instead acting as “scenario supervisor”).

JAPAN CAN’T STOP DEPICTING WAR AS THE CUTEST THING ON THE PLANET

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The fact that Tiny Metal adopts a similar approach to war is not much of a surprise, then. Its lighthearted approach to war vehicles and the deaths of soldiers—exemplified by everything being “tiny” and cartoon-like—is exactly how Japan tends to depict its combat forces. You can see it in other Japanese war games like KanColle, Panzermadels, and War of the Human Tanks (2012).

 

Hypnospace Outlaw for PC/MAC/LINUX, by the creator of Dropsy

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Police the internet of the future via an arcane operating system. Pursue outlaws on the Hypnospace Highway. Feed adorable virtual pets.

 

NITE Team 4 - Military Hacking RPG

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NITE Team 4 is a story-driven military hacking simulation game with strategy and RPG elements featuring cyberwarfare scenarios.

Black Watchmen Devs Crowdfunding Hack ‘Em Up NITE Team 4

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John is a fan of the ARG-y puzzle games of Alice & Smith [not our Alice, Adam, or Graham, honest guv -ed.], looking at games like The Black Watchmen as part of his Bleeding Edges series, but their latest demands the attentions of a specialist. ‘5up d00dz’, as we ‘l33t’ planet-hackers say on the ol’ datanet.

 

The Entire History of Kickstarter Projects, Broken Down by City

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A different approach: use Kickstarter data, which is one of the largest archives of creative projects, ever. They gave us access to 100,000 projects, which means we can characterize every major city by the types of projects it launches.

 

Other content I found interesting this week

 

Dark Side of the Sun

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In 2013 I spent three months living in Japan, interviewing over 80 game developers to produce three books: The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers. My intention was to understand the background to my favourite games - what I did not expect, what surprised me, was how challenging it was for the men and women who created these games. For many, their stories had never been heard, and they were keen to share the good times and the bad times they faced. It occurred to me we have very little understanding of how the Japanese industry worked. In fact, their stories mirrored what developers faced in the West, and there were more similarities than I realised. Crunch time is ubiquitous, implying a solidarity among developers the world over. Having said that, though tough conditions are common in game development, in Japan I heard accounts of worrying extremes. What I hope to demonstrate is that these are not just "products in boxes",  people really suffered and sacrificed to bring us these games.

I heard personal accounts describing being locked in offices, underage staff, office raids by the police and regulatory agencies, physical violence, and stories of colleagues literally working themselves to death; intermixed with revelations of the yakuza protecting arcade operators from gangs and intimidating court witnesses in patent cases, of corporate bosses being arrested for tax fraud, and the political machinations that happened behind the scenes.

 

Gambling dens and gamer monks: Asia's offbeat videogame subcultures

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And that’s why as I travel around Asia, I always try to stop at arcades, game markets, and shops. The games themselves are less interesting than the people who play them and the social structures they build around those games. These video game subcultures owe much to the national and religious culture that spawns them, and you can learn a lot about people from how they buy and play games. From the freewheeling markets of Hong Kong to the Buddhist monks sneaking a game of Candy Crush on their Samsung, games reveal the culture of the player.

 

THE DETERMINATION OF CHINA’S INDEPENDENT GAME SCENE

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At night, Shanghai transforms itself into a new city. Bars, restaurants, and small shops start to open in the alleyways and neon red lights begin to shine throughout China’s largest city. Its nightlife, as well as its economic growth, makes this city the best place to see how the country has changed. At the end of July each year, Shanghai also becomes the hub of the Chinese videogame scene for one week. China Joy, the largest consumer and business game show in Asia, opens its doors for people from all over the world who arrive to try to understand what’s happening in China. However, there is another side to China Joy, far away from the spectacle of the show floor. Tonight, 30 minutes away from the city center, dozens of independent game makers from all over China are gathered at Indie Light, the first independent game bar in Shanghai.

 

THE NEGLECTED HISTORY OF VIDEOGAMES FOR THE BLIND

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The 1997 Sega Saturn Japan-only release, Real Sound: Kaze no Regret, is a fully-voiced interactive romance game with elements of mystery and suspense, featuring two elementary school students with plans to elope, a portentous clock tower, and possible murders in the underground. With no visual elements for its entire runtime, it’s something like a choose-your-own-adventure radio play. In other words, it’s not a videogame, but an audiogame: a game in which graphics are nonexistent or optional and can be played through sound alone.

 

The Creation of the ESRB - Gaming Historian

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Gaming Historian provides a history of the ESRB's creation. In the early 90's, there was a growing concern from the public about violent entertainment. When the government began seeing footage of graphic video games, they stepped in with an ultimatum for the industry: Regulate yourselves, or we'll do it for you.

 

How Worms studio head Debbie Bestwick went from retail to MBE - interview

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“I never went back to finish my A Levels,” Bestwick tells me. “I fell in love with the games industry. One thing about a retail environment – I didn’t appreciate it at the time – but it’s direct to consumer. Direct to your audience. There’s no better learning experience when you’re trying to understand what people’s expectations are. This was a new form of entertainment and it was taking over.”

 

Postmortem: Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series by Inkle

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About five years ago, Joe and I sat down in a West London pub with Steve Jackson, co-founder of Games Workshop and Lionhead, and co-creator of Fighting Fantasy (and a personal game-design hero of mine). We were showing him our early prototype of an “inklebook” -- an iPad-based choice-driven story made of “pages” which stitched together into a single flow via frequent choice points.

It was a lovely UI for a choice-based game, even in prototype form, and we had a strong scripting language underneath it -- the first version of ink. Steve listened, nodded, and told us to come back when we’d sold ten thousand copies.

A year later, after the release of Dave Morris’ Frankenstein, we met Steve again. The timing was perfect: the Sorcery! license, previously with another developer, had just become available.

 

Looking Back On Gaming Without Nostalgia

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Imagine being someone who’s never played Pokemon or Legend of Zelda, Dark Souls, any Metal Gear Solid or Sonic the Hedgehog. Would you be lost? Who would you be in game culture? Ironically, I am that person. In a world where embracing the past is the way to participate in present gaming culture, I find myself still very much a step behind, learning as I go, and ultimately outside of the circle of many of my peers. Many of the things that gaming culture holds up as the touchstones of what it means to be a gamer, still remain shrouded to me as someone who never got to play them as a child (or even as an adult).

 

How Devolver Digital is redefining videogame publishing

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Devolver digital isn’t your average videogame publisher. I realise this in a basement, fifteen minutes away from San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference, watching colourful penises slither across the screen. Next to me is Mike Wilson, one of Devolver Digital’s five founders. We both watch as two dicks circle one another like professional wrestlers, each trying to penetrate the other’s asshole. Cheers erupt from those around us as one succeeds, then rise even higher when the other also penetrates, forming a swirling genital ouroboros. Mike turns to me and smiles. “Welcome to the Devolver Bunker.”

 

5 stories of murder and theft that prove Ultima Online was one of the best MMOs ever

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Ultima Online turned 19 today and despite being so outdated, few PC games inspire nostalgia quite like Richard 'Lord British' Garriott's first MMO. Unlike most modern MMOs—ignoring EVE Online of course—Ultima Online is unique because it's the closest thing to a Dungeons and Dragons campaign gone massively multiplayer. It's sometimes bizarre, always hectic, and wonderfully intimate. Without all the modern luxuries of global chat or automated trade systems, players had to interact with each other in ways that gave rise to friendships, rivalries, and devastating betrayals. Oh yeah, Ultima Online was hardcore as hell too. Griefing and player killing were the laws of the land, and death wasn't just a slap on the wrist—you could lose everything.

 

Banned From Twitch, 'Bikini Streamer' Finds Success (And Haters) On YouTube

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Burgher’s insinuation is a deeply ironic one: while some accuse her of weaponizing her sex appeal for personal gain, the truth is more that other YouTubers are exploiting her looks for better thumbnails, and saucier news/reaction videos. Every time a YouTuber features Burgher, they increase her profile more and more. YouTube and social media are complaining about a behemoth that it created in the first place.“

At the end of the day, people could be getting entertained anywhere on the internet—even on the pornographic sites people suggest as alternatives for content, but they’re not; they’re watching me,” Burgher said. “So I will take their good faith and invest it into myself to evolve and grow as a person and YouTuber.”

 

The realities of being a game designer in a big studio like BioWare

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James Ohlen has been in the game industry for a while now – 20 years just at BioWare. Today, he’s design director of the EA-owned developer looking over franchises like Mass Effect and Dragon Age.

As design director of BioWare, he has to help communicate the creative vision of massive, sprawling virtual worlds will millions of fans to hundreds of game designers and other developers throughout the company – a significant task.

At Austin Game Conference today, he gave fellow devs a peek into the ideas and concepts that drive design at a large studio such as BioWare.

 

How level designers make us feel smart

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Ubisoft Toronto level design director Matt West will never approve a four-meter-high wall. Three-meter-high walls look scalable, he told me over the phone, and five-meter-high walls look unscalable, but four meters high? That’s a confusing wall. You’ve got to run up to it and mash a key to find out if you can climb it—screw that, get rid of it.

 

Steam's Digital Homicide Fiasco Is Valve's Fault

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The Digital Homicide situation is the culmination of Valve failing to address critical issues in Steam. Namely, an endless flood of crappy or sketchy games through services like Greenlight and Early Access, and a lack of strong anti-abuse tools for developers and users. These problems make life more difficult for users and developers on a daily basis, and they communicate this frequently. If Valve put more time and resources into curating and moderating, they could likely stem the tide, if not solve the problem. Despite that fact, Valve typically says and does very little—at least, until somebody sues.

The key problems that brought us to this point, though, can be simplified to the following: 1) Valve refuses to curate Steam in meaningful or consistent ways (except when things reach a breaking point and the damage is already done), and 2) Valve allows and systemically endorses Steam users to behave in ways that are toxic, verging on abusive, with developers and each other.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Seasons' dungeon design | Boss Keys

 

Creating Time For Atmosphere - [game array]

 

The Sound of Hyper Light Drifter

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In this GDC Europe 2016 talk Heart Machine's Akash Thakkar shows off the sound design process for Hyper Light Drifter, including how Thakkar used everything from 1950s wire recorders to modified stethoscopes to create the eerie soundscapes for the game.

 

A Geographer's Guide to Building Game Worlds

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This 2016 GDC Europe talk, presented by IGDA executive director Kate Edwards, draws on her 20+ years of experience as a cartographer and game advisor to explain the primary factors game developers should consider in order to make their worlds seem more real, more relevant, and potentially free of inappropriate cultural cues.

 

The 10 Biggest F-ups From DrinkBox Studios

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This GDC 2016 talk from DrinkBox Studios' Chris McQuinn and Graham Smith (Guacamelee, Severed) covers the studio's worst business mistakes, ranging from allowing toilets to overflow to missing a flight to PAX, and the biggest lessons learned from grappling with them.

 

History Respawned: L.A. Noire

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Bob talks with Professor William Deverell about L.A. Noire. Topics include the postwar boom, the history of the LAPD, and race and ethnic relations in Los Angeles.

:54 Postwar Boom in Los Angeles

3:24 LA and Noir stories

7:02 History of the LAPD

9:03 Police Culture versus Public Culture

10:36 Race and ethnic relations in Postwar LA

13:59 Development of city districts

 

The Strange Melancholy of Sakura Maid

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I kept thinking about these edits of Garfield as I played Sakura Maid, an eroge visual novel that tries to be fun and sexy, but ends up feeling sad and lonely. If you are unfamiliar with the Sakura games, they are utterly disposable, fan-service anime tiddy games. Many avid visual novel fans think the Sakura games are ruining the good name of the genre, but I love them for their unapologetic trashiness. The Sakura games are the equivalent of watching terrible B-movies on Netflix; they are best enjoyed with company (online or in real-life) and healthy quantities of booze.

 

What it’s like to manage a gaming community on fire

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Micah Whipple didn’t believe in Real ID. It was unveiled in 2010 as a new social initiative in the Blizzard forums, effectively forcing players to register their real names instead of Battle.net aliases to cut down on the witch hunts and treachery that so often define anonymous, online public spaces. Whipple thought the policy would be unsustainable and unenforceable, but as a World of Warcraft community manager it was his job to go to bat for it. The CM role is simple: be a plebeian, embed yourself in the community, serve as liaison between publisher and community, and most importantly, stay optimistic.

What that really means: when the players got angry, Whipple was paid to run into burning buildings. Sometimes he was a firefighter, and sometimes he was a meatshield.

 

Why Dating Games Were the Best Thing at 2016’s Tokyo Game Show

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Dating games aren't new. They've been around long enough for pretty much every possible variety to exist – up to and including the pigeon dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend. But this up close and maybe too personal mode of advertising new games seems entirely unique to the otome market – and even then, it's perhaps more specifically Japan-centric than genre-wide. I can't tell you a single other time I've experienced something like this: a real display of the feelings and themes these games are trying to evoke, channelled through live character performance.

 

Review: Japanese Arcades

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In which George gets drunk and crawls into some Gundam pods.

Anyone who happens to be in Tokyo right now: I highly recommend checking this place out before they shut down soon

 

Indie Game Devs Move Studio To Tropical Island For Three Months

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Broforce developer Free Lives Games have stolen away to a tropical island refuge along with other developers for three months. The entire experience is being documented in a series called Game Jam Island.

 

How the New Video Game 'Virginia' Found a Voice Without Dialogue

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I've had over a week to digest Virginia and the first shot of Anne Tarver hasn't left my mind. Who you are is revealed uncompromisingly right at the beginning of the game, and it's a viewpoint you'll revisit many times throughout: Anne staring dishearteningly at the mirror.

 

An INSIDE Joke (Inside Review)

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The script for this video has been posted if you'd like to read along, or want to review what I say afterwards:

 

What 'optimization' really means in games

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Peter "Durante" Thoman is the creator of PC downsampling tool GeDoSaTo and the modder behind Dark Souls' DSfix. He has previously analyzed PC ports like Dark Souls 3, written an open letter to PC developers, and more.

Dive into a forum discussion about a new PC game, and one word will inevitably show up: optimization. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided? "I think this game is not optimized AT ALL!" writes one player on Steam. Metro: Last Light? "In a few words optimization in this game is terrible," writes another.

Complaints about bad optimization are often shorthand for 'this game doesn’t run well on my PC.' But is that performance really the fault of the game’s programming not being written as efficiently as possible? How do you really know if a game is poorly optimized, or simply pushing your PC to its limits?

 

How Virtual Reality Is Revolutionising Clinical Therapy and Treatment Rehabilitation

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For many, virtual reality as a medium and a concept had failed. For clinical application, though, it was enough to get the idea of VR-inspired treatment rehabilitation off the ground. "It was sufficient, though costly, difficult to create and not easily modifiable and so what ended up happening was maybe a hundred or so dedicated clinicians hung in there for the last 20 years and gradually the technology got better," explains psychologist Albert "Skip" Rizzo, the director of medical virtual reality at the University of California's Institute for Creative Technologies.

 

Errant Signal - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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I try to look at the fourth in a series of games about people in trench coats finding the same six jerks responsible for Every Bad Thing Ever, then failing to do anything about it because sequels.

 

Does Metroid Other M Still SUCK?

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Metroid Other M is over 6 years old. Taking a magnifying glass to the gameplay, it's time dissect what didn't work about this oft hated Wii game.

 

Guest Column: What Fighting Game Is Right for Me?

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Guest columnist Patrick Miller breaks down some of the biggest titles in the current competitive fighting scene in order to help you find your first fighting game.

 

Talking to the Guy Who Transformed 'Doom' into 'No Man's Sky'

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He hasn't settled on a name for his mod yet, wavering between No Guy's Sky and Doom Guy's Sky. (My vote's for the latter.) The mod is more than an aesthetic makeover; Doom Guy's Sky tries to replicate the core features of No Man's Sky, right down to applying random generation algorithms to the creatures and planets. You can even mine resources to provide additional fuel for your ship, allowing you to leave a planet. Alien languages are randomized, too.

 

Things I found entertaining throughout the week relating to video games

 

Millions Of Destiny Players Eager To Jump Back Into Whatever The Fuck Is Happening

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All across the globe, millions of eager Destiny players are putting on their best gear and grabbing their best guns, ready to leap right in and do whatever it is the objective on their screen says until they get that fucking XP.

 

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