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Valve Introduces SteamOS

By Jeff Buckland, 9/23/2013 9:50 PM

Welp, Valve has just announced SteamOS, which will go along with future hardware manufacturers' movements into the living room. SteamOS is a Linux-based alternative to running games on Windows or Mac (or a console, for that matter), but specialized for games with the similar kinds of game-oriented architecture improvements that consoles have included for years. You'll be able to stream Windows- and Mac-based games to SteamOS in the way that Nvidia Shield or PS Vita Remote Play does for PC to handheld, but in this case it'll be from one open platform to another. If it works well, this is a great foundation for Gabe Newell to make inroads for Steam as a gaming platform for all, not just for PC gamers.

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League of Legends Developers: Ragers Lose More Often

By Jeff Buckland, 9/12/2013 1:30 PM

Eurogamer has the story on a video that Riot Games, creators of League of Legends, made to demonstrate - with statistics - that those who get extremely angry at losses in the game lose more often than those who don't. Some would say that maybe they've got it the wrong way around - that losers rage more often, not that ragers lose more often - which isn't a very insightful thing to say, right? But I think the statistics Riot used show that yes, this true, and in my experience, they're right. When you're angry, you're not learning or improving. And if you're playing public games, there's only one big thing that's common to all games you play, that's consistent between every game you're involved in: you. Improve that one thing, and you'll win more games, and that might mean having to help teammates that make poor choices rather than screaming at them.

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Valve Adds XB1's Coolest Lost Feature

By Jeff Buckland, 9/11/2013 1:37 PM

Back when Xbox One was announced with all of its DRM and controls, there was one feature - family sharing of games - that turned out to be a really cool idea. Since then, Microsoft decided to axe the entire always-online system with both good and bad properties getting dumped.

Well, Valve just announced that Family Sharing is now coming to Steam. It's got some weird limitations and it could wind up being a bit of mess, but this is a really good sign for the future of openness in digital games. If you're interested, make sure to sign up to the Steam Family Sharing group to try and get early access to it.

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Is EA Turning the Corner... Again?

By Jeff Buckland, 8/19/2013 10:34 PM

Several years ago, before it became clear Activision was going to run Call of Duty into the ground and then continue drilling it until it popped out the other side of the planet, EA had the reputation of being game's big evil empire. With Activision's merger with Blizzard, making them the biggest publisher in the world and some flagging profits at the time, EA - with their new (at the time) CEO, John Riccitiello - said they wanted to change. New games like Mirror's Edge and Dead Space were born from that. Years later, we know what happened: EA didn't stick with that for long and have tried to franchise-ify these ones, most notably turning Dead Space into a transaction-laced AAA game too bloated to hold up its own weight; seemingly everyone was sick of it by the third game. And then SimCity happened.

And now, EA just announced a crazy new policy: refunds for games you're not happy with on Origin. Steam doesn't do this. GOG doesn't... nor does your local Target or Walmart, because they are directed to only give full refunds for unopened copies of any software, games included (console and PC). What does this mean for digital retailers and for EA themselves? Let's explore a bit...

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Bohemia Delays ARMA 3 Campaign

By Jeff Buckland, 8/6/2013 9:20 AM

Bohemia Interactive has announced that the single player campaign for ARMA 3 isn't going to make the release date for their FPS/military simulation and instead will be released in three DLC episodes, with the first coming about a month after the game's launch. Everything else, like the scenarios, mission builder, multiplayer, 290 square kilometers of terrain spread across two maps, and mod support will be in, though. In most games this would be a good reason to delay the game and it might be seen a huge show of some serious development issues, but this game is a little different. Past games in the ARMA series have survived largely just on the game modes mentioned above, and when we look at the considerable improvements the developers have made to the ARMA 3 engine and gameplay because of the lengthy vidxnxx public Alpha and Beta tests, it's clear they're still very committed. In many games, not launching with a traditional single player campaign would be suicidal for a AAA game, but that's not the case here at all.

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River City Ransom: Underground Kickstarter

By Jeff Buckland, 9/9/2013 1:32 PM

We at AG get lots of requests to post about Kickstarters, but I try to keep the posts about them to a minimum. But because River City Ransom was my favorite NES game - yes, I liked it even more than the Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, and Battletoads games - I'm posting about the River City Ransom: Underground Kickstarter.

The art looks awesome and true to the wacky Technos Japan art style of the original game, and yes, it's officially licensed.

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River City Ransom: Underground Kickstarter

By Jeff Buckland, 9/9/2013 1:32 PM

We at AG get lots of requests to post about Kickstarters, but I try to keep the posts about them to a minimum. But because River City Ransom was my favorite NES game - yes, I liked it even more than the Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, and Battletoads games - I'm posting about the River City Ransom: Underground Kickstarter.

The art looks awesome and true to the wacky Technos Japan art style of the original game, and yes, it's officially licensed.

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Sony Doubles Down on World Market, Introduces PSVita TV

By Jeff Buckland, 9/9/2013 3:18 AM

Sony's press conference in Japan introduced a lot of new stuff including quite a few cool Japanese-made games, but the two bigger things were that 1) PS4 isn't coming to Japan until 2014 (which you could infer from the Gamescom press conference when they specifically didn't list Japan as a launch territory), and 2) PSVita TV is coming.

What's PSVita TV? Essentially, it's a PSVita that is made for home use only like Ouya or a small mini-console. You plug it into your TV and use plain PS3-compatible controllers with it to play Vita games, make use of the same PS4-connected features the Vita is getting (like Remote Play), and other stuff like playing video. The price? Well, it's in Japanese Yen for now, but it's about $100 if Sony brings it to the US at the same price. And yes, Vita cartridges work, and there's a spot for a Vita memory card (all of which will be getting price cuts, or at least in Japan). Apparently PSVita TV won't work with every Vita game because of the lack of the touch screen and touch panels, which is a bit of a shame, though.

They didn't show The Last Guardian which a lot of people are mad about, but hey - the east has been desperately trying to make a vaporware game like Duke Nukem Forever without luck because everyone's still taking it so seriously.

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Xbox One Release Date Set: November 22nd

By Jeff Buckland, 9/4/2013 12:20 PM

Microsoft has finally set the worldwide release date for the Xbox One: November 22nd. (Well, for the relative few countries that the XB1 is being released in.) For those counting, the PS4's release date is on November 15th in North America, one week earlier than the XB1, but it's on the 29th in Europe, so that's one week later than XB1. Does that mean much? At this point, I don't think it'll make that big a difference in that one-week period where in both regions only one console will be out. But once both are out, availability will make a big difference. If one console is in stock and the other isn't, that'll be an easier choice for some.

Of course, being sold out isn't exactly a bad thing for the guy that's sold out. It's just a balancing factor that's likely to even out sales of both consoles.

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Nintendo 2DS Announced

By Jeff Buckland, 8/28/2013 2:22 PM

Nintendo has announced a new member of its portable family: the 2DS. They took the 3D effect out of the screens and took the clamshell/hinge out entirely, putting both screens and all controls on one slate-like device. Instead of the $170-180 that the 3DS costs new (with the 3DS XL at $200), this will cost $130. Nintendo seems to be looking to sell this thing to more kids, and it's the hinge that apparently breaks most often on their clamshell consoles, so this solves that problem - although I hope they're doing more to protect the screens, too, because now they're going to be a little more susceptible to blunt-force trauma. Scratches probably don't matter to a kid, but a decent hit with a solid object will wreck even a lightly-protected LCD screen.

With all that said, this opinion piece by Polygon's Chris Plante brings up an important point: the 2DS name is cute for those who know a lot about Nintendo's products, but confusing for everyone else.

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Do You Need to Rush into Next-Gen?

By Jeff Buckland, 8/27/2013 3:50 AM

Casual and semi-hardcore gamers keep asking me: should I buy one (or both!) of the new game consoles when they come out? When this happens, I usually hit them with a series of questions, but after only a few answers, I've got my conclusion for them. The conclusion is usually "no." Click "Read More" to see if my logic follows.

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GTA Online: A Lot More Than You Thought

By Jeff Buckland, 8/15/2013 9:40 AM

Wow. Rockstar has released the trailer for Grand Theft Auto Online, the online component that will be coming with next month's GTAV - see the trailer below. There's a ton of stuff here: 16-player cooperative missions, competitive stuff, full customization of your character and cars for the online world, race events, random stuff to do, and even user-generated mapmaking and content creation (well, to an extent). This is a superbly impressive revelation for a game that's already apparently chock-full with a huge map and a ton of single player activities.

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EA's Humble Bundle: 100% to Charity

By Jeff Buckland, 8/14/2013 5:54 PM

The latest Humble Bundle might be the most ambitious one yet: EA has put up 8 games, some with DLC, together into a bundle and ALL proceeds will be going to charity or to the Humble Bundle people themselves. EA plans to make zero off of this sale. Those who pay more than the average ($4.65 as of this writing) get Battlefield 3 and The Sims 3 with 3 DLC packs. The catch? The bundle is mainly for Origin, but EA is also providing Steam keys for the 5 games that are on Steam too (full list is at the above link and the Steam keys list is here).

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Xbox One Eighty Part Three: Headset

By Jeff Buckland, 8/8/2013 2:14 PM

Microsoft put together a video with Major Nelson showing an unboxing of the Xbox One, and surprise, surprise: it now includes a headset, which wasn't the case at least until a couple of weeks ago. This is the third time that Microsoft has reversed a decision regarding the Xbox One since its reveal - the first was backing off of the always-on connectivity and used games restrictions, the second was in announcing that indie developers could self-publish their games without tying themselves to a major publisher or Microsoft's own exclusivity rules, and now this third one puts a headset in the box.

But wait - Xbox One already has a microphone on the new Kinect, right, and crazy fancy software to remove the game sounds from the audio recording being pulled into the Kinect's microphone, so why do we need a headset? Let's dive in.

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John Carmack joins Oculus VR

By Jeff Buckland, 8/7/2013 9:22 AM

This is potentially a pretty big deal: Oculus VR, creators of the Oculus Rift VR device, has announced (their site went down in the news scramble) that John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and one of the biggest pioneers in game technology, has joined them and will be working at a new Dallas-based office. Some sites are reporting that Carmack has left id Software, but that's not actually confirmed, and Carmack has spent years splitting time already between id and his rocket engineering company Armadillo Aerospace. And considering that Carmack said at this year's QuakeCon that Armadillo is mostly dead and basically on life support, it's possible that he's going to be working at both places.

Update: This press release from The Redner Group I have in front of me says this: "Formerly at id Software, John is now full time at Oculus VR working on the Oculus Rift", while someone at Bethesda says, “John has long been interested in the work at Oculus VR and wishes to spend time on that project. The technical leadership he provides for games in development at id Software is unaffected.”

Update 2: Stephen Totilo at Kotaku has a quote from Bethesda: "John will spend time working out of Oculus as part of his role with them, but he will also continue to work at id." So, uh, yeah. Either he's there, or he's not, or he is a little bit.

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EverQuest Next Dazzles SOE Live

By Jeff Buckland, 8/3/2013 2:58 AM

Earlier today, Sony Online finally showed us a good chunk of EverQuest Next, the MMO they've been working on for years. Twitch has a recording of the stream done from the SOE Live event in Vegas. It's good stuff, but I do still have some doubts...

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Irrational Announces new BioShock Infinite DLC

By Jeff Buckland, 7/30/2013 9:46 AM

What was your favorite thing about BioShock Infinite? What's most memorable to you? Did the answer to either question have anything to do with the combat? If so, you'll like Irrational's first DLC, called Clash in the Clouds, which was finally announced and will be released... today. (Yep, simultaneous announcement and release.) It's only $5 which is a welcome change - 2K does usually carefully price their DLC - but after the sale of a Season Pass followed by months of silence on what the first DLC would be, I'm pretty sure plenty will be disappointed by this.

But there's more that's apparently coming later this year, and it's more of what you were probably hoping for. Just watch the trailer.

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Xbox One Eighty Part Two: Self Publishing

By Jeff Buckland, 7/24/2013 2:06 PM

GameInformer has word that Microsoft is changing their policy regarding indie games: now, like Steam on PC and Sony with their PlayStation platforms, they'll allow indie developers to publish their own games directly on Xbox One without finding a publisher or being forced to take on Microsoft themselves as publisher (who demands things like timed exclusivity - ask Fez developer Phil Fish or Super Meat Boy's Team Meat how well that went). But is this enough?

Updated: It's been confirmed by MS along with word that all Xbox Ones will also work as what those in the game industry call "devkits", which until this point, were specialized versions of the console that could run pre-release code which facilitates new games development. Now, all XB1s will have that ability. Still some issues, so click "Read more" and let's talk!

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Stone Warriors on Kickstarter

By Jeff Buckland, 7/18/2013 6:54 PM

We get lots of requests from developers trying to fund their game on Kickstarter, but I only post about the ones I really dig, and this is one I quite like: Stone Wardens. They're well short of their funding goal, but I think the mix of tower defense and action with almost an Okami-like art style is really cool. Check it out and pledge something if you're interested!

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Nintendo Blocks Smash Bros Streaming from EVO [Updated]

By Jeff Buckland, 7/9/2013 6:18 PM

It was bad enough that Nintendo started using its copyright muscle to take Let's Play video makers' YouTube money away from them - literally taking lunch money from their own fans in some cases - but today they really kicked fans in the jimmy. Fans raised nearly $100,000 for charity to make Super Smash Bros. Melee (the decade-old GameCube game, not even the latest one) the 8th main tournament game at the world's biggest yearly fighting game tournament, EVO. And Nintendo just informed the tournament organizers that they can't stream it, only 3 days from the event. As a result, the event schedule has changed to give more stream time to Persona 4 Arena and King of Fighters XIII. I'm sure that some fans of those two games will be happy to hear more tourney spots for their favorite games will be shown, I doubt they're really happy how it happened.

Update: Nintendo has relented and the Smash streams will go on. What even got them to the point of saying no in the first place, along with their previous overzealous protection of their property at the cost of fan promotion, shows that Nintendo still has a real problem with understanding their fanbase and that this might not be the last we hear of such issues.

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