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First Move from Microsoft-Mojang

By Jeff Buckland, 10/12/2014 6:47 AM

It's not a huge thing, but Minecraft developer Mojang, under their new Microsoft ownership, have made their first move: Erik Johnson at MCV UK confirms that they're releasing a Pocket Edition of the game for Windows Phone. Obviously there needs to be something bigger than this for Microsoft to justify the 2.5 billion dollar price tag that Mojang commanded, but it's good to hear about some movement only a few weeks after the purchase.

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Honest Trailers: Team Fortress 2

By Jeff Buckland, 9/7/2014 1:53 PM

I love that the Honest Trailers guys got into doing their magic on video games a while back. Here's a great one as they roast Team Fortress 2.

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Gratuitous Space Battles 2 Looking Epic

By Jeff Buckland, 8/8/2014 3:06 PM

Cliff Harris (a.k.a. the one-man studio known as Positech Games) has released a new video - see below - for Gratuitous Space Battles 2, his space strategy sequel with the unique feature that you don't control your ships directly during the battle. Instead, your building and strategy happens almost entirely during the planning phase. He's got a new video up showing native dual-monitor support. This is what PC game developers need to be focusing on, is adding options to make use of PC features that you can't get anywhere else.

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Polygon's Ben Kuchera isn't buying Battlefield: Hardline

By Jeff Buckland, 6/25/2014 3:26 AM

Ben Kuchera over at has declared that despite a love of the Battlefield games, he won't be buying the upcoming Hardline, and puts together a pretty good case for why you shouldn't be either - including quotes from DICE's Patrick Bach saying that making Battlefield a yearly franchise would suck, that having another studio make it would suck, and EA wouldn't do that. Well, now EA is doing exactly that, so I think it would pretty much stand to reason that what Patrick Bach said will actually come true. Another studio (Visceral Games, coming hot off the failure of Dead Space 3), a year after the release of BF4 (which for some players still doesn't work right), and EA is of course leading with all their usual DLC trickery.

On this matter, you don't even have to listen to Ben, who many will consider suspect as he is a game journalist. Listen to DICE's own Patrick Bach, whose words are coming back to haunt him as this new Battlefield looks like it's pretty much his own nightmare scenario.

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Xbox One Controller PC Drivers Released

By Jeff Buckland, 6/5/2014 4:23 PM

Couch-friendly PC gamers rejoice! MajorNelson over at Xbox has released Xbox One controller drivers for the PC. You can plug in the controller with a regular Micro-USB cable and don't need to insert any batteries. The game will work directly as an Xbox 360 controller without any additional software. And of course, if you'd rather do this with a PS4 controller, you can do the same (or connect via Bluetooth) using DS4Tool.

I tried a bit of Watch_Dogs on PC with an XB1 controller and it worked perfectly. If you've got the hardware and the desire to game on your PC with a controller, give it a shot.

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Pre-E3 Announcements

By Jeff Buckland, 6/2/2014 1:39 PM

If you've been watching your favorite game sites over the last couple weeks, you might think that someone secretly canceled this year's E3 and only told the publishers, not the general public. We've seen multiple game and console announcements come ahead of this year's E3 over the last couple of weeks, and where past years have given us a few, there have been many already and we're still about a week away from E3. Just today Crytek announced Homefront: Revolution, while Playground Games and Microsoft announced Forza Horizon 2 for XB1 and 360. Plenty of others were announced in the last week, and before that, Microsoft couldn't wait to tell people about the Kinect-less Xbox One weeks before their big E3 press conference. So what's the deal?

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EA Finally Posts gameplay video of their UFC Game

By Jeff Buckland, 5/20/2014 1:46 PM

EA Sports UFC was announced at E3 last year, and the publisher has put out a slow trickle of footage that mostly just shows the accuracy of the fighters to their real-life counterparts. And yes, it's impressive. But they just released their first full-on gameplay video, which you can see below. (My thoughts follow the trailer.)

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Halo 5 Announced

By Jeff Buckland, 5/16/2014 5:45 AM

343 Industries' general manager Bonnie Ross has announced Halo 5: Guardians, which will be coming to the Xbox One this fall. More info will be at E3 next month, but for now, I'm excited to hear that it'll be only a year between the launch of the XB1 and a new Halo game. In the past I've gone in-depth as to why these console manufacturers don't launch a console with a huge flagship game immediately, so one year is a welcome change from when the Xbox 360 launched and we got a new Halo two years later.

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Dragon Age III Trailer Shows BioWare Still Lacking

By Jeff Buckland, 4/22/2014 1:24 PM

I'm a huge BioWare fan even through some of the dark days they've been through, but this latest Dragon Age: Inquisition trailer shows glaring issues that I wish RPGs could get figured out. One is that I see attacks hitting enemy monsters and them reeling back in ways that make no sense considering the attack that came in. (We're still dealing with an age-old action game problem of hitboxes and that needs to end very soon.) But the bigger one to me is that BioWare games focus so much on characters and story, but they still do old-school animations where a math algorithm, not acting performance capture, is at the heart of the look of every character's face. Sure, BioWare figured out how to put emotion on their characters' faces a while ago, but as budgets grow well past 9 digits for games and players demand larger and more expansive and detailed worlds, can't we get characters that actually mouth the words that are supposed to be coming from their faces properly? See for yourself:

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Michael Abrash Leaves Valve, Joins Oculus, and explains

By Jeff Buckland, 3/28/2014 2:12 PM

Two things happened today to help boost the Oculus project, the company that Facebook will be buying for $2 billion - a move that gamers the world over decried as the end of the fun of Oculus. (And I was a part of those millions of manchildren crying out as if suddenly something nice was destroyed instantly.) What are those two things? Well, since we do things old-school here at AtomicGamer with raw HTML in some places, I'm happy to say that both are contained in the Kotaku story. Michael Abrash, a force behind the scenes of PC gaming for two decades, has left Valve to join Oculus. But more importantly, he actually explained why Facebook buying Oculus is good. As he puts it, the reason that VR has never taken off is because no one invested significant amounts of money in it. With Facebook's purchase of Oculus, that just happened for the first time in the history of VR technology:

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place on Tuesday. A lot of what it will take to make VR great is well understood at this point, so it's engineering, not research; hard engineering, to be sure, but clearly within reach. For example, there are half a dozen things that could be done to display panels that would make them better for VR, none of them pie in the sky. However, it's expensive engineering. And, of course, there's also a huge amount of research to do once we reach the limits of current technology, and that's not only expensive, it also requires time and patience fully tapping the potential of VR will take decades. That's why I've written before that VR wouldn't become truly great until some company stepped up and invested the considerable capital to build the right hardware and that it wouldn't be clear that it made sense to spend that capital until VR was truly great. I was afraid that that Catch-22 would cause VR to fail to achieve liftoff.

That worry is now gone. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory. The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR and some of them are hard indeed. I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can.
The thing I'm taking away from this is the notion that even if Oculus Rift crashes and burns, even if Facebook squanders what they've built, even if hardcore neckbearded PC gamers like many of us don't get what we were hoping for, we're still more likely to get it than before Oculus. Hell, it might even be better than if Oculus stayed indie and brought their first product, the Rift, to full market and retail, because it was never guaranteed to sell enough to keep the company afloat. Facebook will take VR mainstream, and after that we PC gamers will likely have many choices to pick from.

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Someone's Mom Reviews Dark Souls II

By Jeff Buckland, 3/25/2014 6:50 AM

I think that this "review" of Dark Souls II shows the rather wide gulf between casual gaming and core games quite well. To play and enjoy a game like this, you have to have played games like it in the past to understand even the simplest things about what's going on. These games come with expectations made of the player - some might call it baggage - and they expect us to have some knowledge of what's going on.

Even if Dark Souls II had a classic tutorial where one couldn't die, I doubt it would have helped someone like this writer's mom.

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Jim Sterling Takes on Adblock

By Jeff Buckland, 3/7/2014 11:12 PM

Jim Sterling and his Jimquisition show have taken on the topic of Adblock (with relation to games media). Long time coming, I'd say, and I do like Jim's conclusion, which is basically threefold: 1) Advertisers can do some very scummy things and a good chunk of blame goes to them, 2) Getting mad at those who use Adblock solely because they use it is silly, and 3) Anyone who goes out of their way to directly tell a content creator that they're blocking the way they make money deserve nothing but contempt. (There's a vast gulf of difference between the people in 2 and 3, that's for sure.) But I've got some more thoughts on it that I'll humbly put forth:

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Tropico 5 Beta Signups Begin

By Jeff Buckland, 2/26/2014 6:49 AM

Kalypso Media has announced that a beta test for their upcoming city-management game Tropico 5 will begin soon, and you can sign up now.

Or, well, you will once Kalypso's poor site comes back online. Everyone's hammering it as of this writing.

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Let's Not Be Mad About Pillars of Eternity's Delay

By Jeff Buckland, 2/9/2014 7:20 AM

Obsidian's Josh Sawyer told Eurogamer this week that their upcoming Kickstarter-funded RPG Pillars of Eternity isn't going to make it out in April-ish as originally planned, and instead will come in the last half of this year (as an estimation, at least) - and it's mostly because of all the money that rolled in and all the features that the developers added as stretch goals. Those who know Obsidian Entertainment's history and how the video game business should know, however, that rushing Obsidian does not go well... for anyone.

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Thief Preview Video with Actual Critical Commentary

By Jeff Buckland, 1/24/2014 12:50 PM

Maybe it's because the guy doing the preview isn't the guy that was playing, but this Thief preview wound up being refreshingly critical of the game, pointing out both good and bad things about it. With all of this said, I do believe that most of the complaints that the speaker has are related to the Medium difficulty, which is not remotely intended to reproduce the feel of the original games. Whether higher difficulty modes actually succeed at that or not is up to question, but I believe that was the intent. Nevertheless, check out the footage:

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4K Monitors for $700, But Are we Ready?

By Jeff Buckland, 1/9/2014 6:35 AM

Are you a hardcore PC gamer? If so, you might have heard that monitors are coming within the next month or two that support 4K resolution (that's 3840x2160, or the pixels of four 1920x1080 monitors in a 2x2 grid) at relatively reasonable prices. Dell's going to be offering a 28" 4K monitor for $699, and Lenovo will have a similar offering. But are PC gamers ready for 4K?

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Next-Gen Console Progress Report: December 2013

By Jeff Buckland, 12/2/2013 6:22 AM

Video game news is relatively quiet for what seems to be the first time in a year. Steam's got their autumn sale going on, both new consoles are now out in as many countries as Sony and MS are able to get to this year, and all of those games are now on shelves. The news is quiet as these companies simply now produce hardware and release software... and just wait for people to buy. The buzz is there for all of this new stuff, so the buying is definitely happening, but is gaming healthy right now?

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Gran Turismo 6 Infodump

By Jeff Buckland, 11/9/2013 11:32 AM

Polyphony Digital has released a bunch of info (plus car list and track list) on their upcoming current-gen final hurrah, Gran Turismo 6. While my PC gaming buddies enjoy some really cool visuals and physics, this game is going to have 1200 cars (including all with in-cockpit view this time) and a ton of features. Here's one I thought was really cool:

Course Maker
This feature, available at a later stage through an update, will allow you to create your own custom tracks that can be driven in the game. Additionally, in another update we will add the possibility to generate a track by capturing the GPS coordinate data of a mobile app while you are driving that course. This GPS-generated tracks will be available in the game as playable content.
There's plenty more to see at the links above. Cool stuff for racing game fans!

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New Nvidia Drivers Released: Shadowplay Included

By Jeff Buckland, 10/28/2013 11:09 AM

Nvidia has released some new drivers today, just in time for Call of Duty Ghosts and this week's Battlefield 4. There's also a new, major feature in here: Shadowplay.

Shadowplay is a video recording system that works on the GPU and uses fewer resources than many other similar programs costing quite a bit of money. You can leave it running in the background and tap a key to save the last X minutes of your gameplay to disk as a video, or you can use it like FRAPS and the like to purposely record big, long sessions of gameplay with a key toggle. Recording video of your gameplay isn't exactly revolutionary, but early users have said that it can record up to 1080p 60fps footage at quality that's much better than YouTube can handle with little-to-no impact on their frame rate. Anyone who's tried recording 1080p60 video with FRAPS knows that that's quite the achievement.

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EA Sports & The Dreaded Focus Test

By Jeff Buckland, 10/25/2013 8:55 AM

GamingBolt has word that the upcoming EA Sports UFC game will run at 1080p resolution on PS4 and Xbox One, but only at 30fps. The developers go into how focus tests tell them that this will be better... but of course, focus tests generally pull in "average" gamers, not enthusiast gamers, and I'm just not sure that these kinds of decisions should be made by way of focus tests. But there's more here, too...

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