24th Jul2012

Buy Wanderlust, Support Starbound!

by Chris Maeurer

If you’ve read the blog post title, you may be a little confused.  Starbound is an upcoming indie title developed by Chucklefish, who has also chosen to publish this week’s release Wanderlust : Rebirth, read on and please help support the developers of these great games!

First Things First, What Is Starbound? Who Is Chucklefish?

ForestPlanet 1 215x106 Buy Wanderlust, Support Starbound!

Chucklefish is a small team of less than a dozen developers, who are currently feverishly working on the upcoming release called Starbound.  Starbound has seen much attention as a sandbox/crafting game with a heavy science-fiction flair, allowing the player to travel to many unique planets.  In addition to it’s grand scope, Starbound will be the first of these new games, seemingly inspired by the innovations of Minecraft, that will offer quests, persistent characters and more in-depth action/rpg elements.  One of the team members, Tiy, has previously worked on Terraria with the rest of the Re-Logic team.  We can expect a similar retro-2D aesthetic in Starbound, randomized planets and biomes that will all hold unique loot and creatures, and many more features that you can read about at the games main page and forums found here.

Where Does Wanderlust : Rebirth Fit In?

16 215x161 Buy Wanderlust, Support Starbound!

Wanderlust in a retro RPG, developed by Yeti Trunk, and releasing on Steam this Friday, July 27th!  To recap, Tiy and the rest of the Starbound team at Chucklefish, have received many, many requests for fans to donate to the development of Starbound.  Tiy has made it very clear, on the forums, that as appreciative of the support as he is, he is reluctant to receive money in advance for a commercial project.  Not long ago, Tiy took to the Starbound forums and polled it’s members on a new solution that would appease both the fans with money in hand and the principles of the Starbound team.  What if Chucklefish were to publish an indie game that friends of theirs were working on?  It seemed like a win-win situation, with a portion of the game sales going to the now-publisher Chucklefish, and the exposure and attention being added to with the already spectacular looking Wanderlust, from Yeti Trunk.  The result is the best way I’ve seen for fans to support two great indie developers; receive an amazing looking RPG now, and help support the development of Starbound, due out later this year!

Tell Me More About Wanderlust!

screenshot105.1 215x161 Buy Wanderlust, Support Starbound!

Well, the best description comes from the horses’ mouth, the developers description states that “Wanderlust: Rebirth is an online four player co-op arcade-action RPG set in the uniquely crafted fantasy world, Valandria.“.  The game features four classes and will support both single-player and co-op experiences.  In addition there will be a survival mode to unlock, and unique item crafting mechanic to add more excitement to the typical loot-searching and multiple endings.  If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, head on over to their homepage, here, for more information on the game.  Wanderlust can be purchased directly from the game’s website, for $10.00, or you can wait for the upcoming Steam release on July 27th, which can be bought for $7.99 prior to the release date(and presumably at $9.99 thereafter).  Both games look absolutely fantastic, and I’d highly encourage you to join me in supporting these developers on their upcoming titles!  We will certainly keep you posted on any new developments and hope to review both games for you!

Links, Links, Links!

Just to recap, here are all of the necessary links to any information relating to the project that you’d like:

The Starbound Homepage – www.playstarbound.com

The Wanderlust Homepage – www.wanderlustgame.com

An Explanation of the Joint Venture By Chucklefish’s Tiy – here

The Official Press Release for Wanderlust : Rebith – here

 

13th Jun2012

Torchlight 2 Beta

by Chris Maeurer

What can I say about Torchlight II that hasn’t been said?  The Beta has closed and E3 is now in the past, so hopefully this post won’t get lost in the E3 madness, and we will still foaming at the mouth with anticipation for Torchlight II!

Many, many thanks to the fine folks at Runic Games for allowing us to test drive the Torchlight II Beta. If I had any doubts before (and I had not), they would’ve been shattered like an ember crystal in the mines below Torchlight!  The game seems even better than anticipated, ripe with a sleeker artstyle and brimming with refined features.  Most underused new feature seems to be the ability to now give your pets a shopping list.  Yes, previously you could load up your pet and let them sell your unwanted junk in town, all while you continued to click-attack and loot in the nether regions of Torchlight.  As if that isn’t enough, you can now make sure your pet returns with not only money secured by selling your overflow, but also with a supply of scrolls or potions!

Skill trees for the new classes really seem to pop.  I’m sure it was part my own fault and part innovation on Runic’s part, but in the original outing I didn’t seem to focus my character classes on a specific skill tree.  Now, rather than attempt a jack-of-all-trades, the skill trees really seem to encourage you to focus your class skills in a specific direction and then replay with a new character to try out different builds.  This was especially apparent with the Embermage class, who has the option to study Fire, Ice or Electric schools of magic.  Sure, you could take the buffet approach to this, but focusing all of your skills points and harnessing the power of one of the three sets is much more attractive.  Still, the skill trees are a work in progress with perks for higher level skills and respecs being put under the microscope.

Now, all of that is fantastic, and I cannot wait for Torchlight II to launch, but there was one thing that stood out of this “Multiplayer” Beta: its performance online.  Now, a little clearing of the air before we proceed.  I in no way intend to fuel a competition between Diablo III and Torchlight II; they are both outstanding games and any hint of a competition between the two is silly at best.  Go out and enjoy them both for the top-notch experiences that they are. There is no “winner” or “loser;” they are both stellar entries.  Yes, they are both in the same genre and both releasing in the same year (hopefully); beyond that, I will not be accused of putting hashmarks in either column.  Now, having experience with the Diablo III Beta, of which you can read here, I knew that playing on a home internet connection that was awarding me an abysmal ping of 1740 probably meant that I would not be able to enjoy this Torchlight II multiplayer Beta at home, at least not without the lag noted in my Diablo III post or similar results with the internet connection required game Darkspore.  Both games lag out like crazy on my wonderful home ISP, but, to my surprise, Torchlight II did nothing of the sort.  Now, this means nothing outside the Beta, because Torchlight II will not require an internet connection to play on launch, unless, of course, you are looking to play co-op.  However, I did think that this was a great topic to bring up and discuss.

The video posted above is a gameplay capture from the Torchlight II Beta being played on the same home connection that rendered Diablo III and Darkspore, along with any other online game, completely unplayable.  You will notice the absence of any and all lag, but how exactly does Torchlight II do it?  Well, first, let’s look at the previously mentioned games, Darkspore and Diablo III.  Both of these games feature characters persistent to single-player and multi-player, so your single-player loot and progression is immediately available in a multi-player or co-op session.  As such, and with very competitive PvP players invested in these games, there must be anti-cheat measures taken to preserve an even playing field, free of hacks, cheats and illegal stat buffs.  To achieve this, the player must be constantly connected to the game online, via the company’s servers, with the bulk of the work being done server side.  Now, we know that Torchlight II will operate on an “honor system”, basically meaning that there will not be anti-cheat measures; it is simply up to the player to surround themselves with co-op partners that will not employ any unwanted hacks, cheats or the like.  So, should you not care if your co-op partners use such things, that is fine.  Should you object, then you must find other co-op partners that you can trust.  Either way, the onus is taken off of Runic Games and off of their servers.  This opens the game up to using a peer-to-peer server system, in essence placing the workload on your computer and not on the Runic servers.  The end result is a game that can be freely played on any internet connection AND used in all of its beautiful, lag-free glory in the LAN space, regardless of what type of an internet connection you are running the game from.  No matter how you choose to play—solo, online co-op or with LAN buddies—Torchlight II will provide you the best possible experience.  Now, of course, the seamless drop-in/drop-out co-op will still not work should you have a very high ping and desire to play with online partners, but I commend Runic on the approach that they are taking to ensure the best gameplay experience for everyone.

Now that we have the technical jargon out of the way, let’s talk a bit about this fantastic Beta experience.  The artstyle has changed very minimally, but it seems much cleaner and sleeker.  The four classes are all new–The Engineer, Embermage, Outlander and the Beserker.  The Engineer, previously titled the Railman, seems especially interesting.  This character has the damage dealing of the Barbarian/Beserker, being skilled with 2-handed weapons, but then it has the summons of an Alchemist.  The ability to summon bots, not very much unlike the Alchemists’ golems, bring with them buffs for the parties health/mana regen or stats.  The Outlander and his rougue-like skill tree and Glaive ability makes him immediately attractive.  All characters come in male and female customizeable flavors and there are many more pets to choose from.  In addition to the original cat, you now have a Wolf, Hawk, Weasel, Panther, Bulldog and Chakawarys, in addition to the star of the show—the coveted Falcor, the pet of Runic’s own Minister of Culture.

The Beta gave players a sizeable chunk of the game to explore—more than I could get around to during the Beta period.  I managed to finish the complete portion available and play with more than one of the characters and pets, but I can’t help but feel there was a portion left unexplored when the Beta came to a close this past May.  Fans of the original classes need not worry, as Runic has promised in the past, and we can now attest to after playing the Beta, those fond character classes will have there own “cameos”, so to speak.  All in all, the Beta confims what we already know: Torchlight II is going to be a complete home run.  The game is already available for pre-order on Steam for $19.99, giving you a free copy of the first entry with each pre-order.  I would highly encourage you place that pre-order now, it will be the best twenty dollars you have ever spent.  See you in Torchlight II later this year!

27th Apr2012

What’s On My Plate?

by Patrick Adams

I don’t know if it’s just me but it seems as though the beginning of this year is not as jam-packed with games as previous years were. It might be specific to me as I am not interested in a lot of the games released so far this year. Even though there are not many games out that are to my liking I am still very busy with a handful of games. I just wanted to take the time to share with you guys what I have been playing. Click a game below to read my thoughts on it.

[toggle title="1. Journey"]I myself have only played through Journey once but I’ve experienced it three times. It was an amazing experience, one that I wanted to share with others. I made my Uncle and Brother-in-law play through the campaign while I watched and it was just as enjoyable as playing it myself.[/toggle]

[toggle title="2. FEZ"]This game is interesting. On one hand I love it but on the other hand, as a completionist, it gives me a headache. It is very confusingly laid out and it constantly throws you into new worlds before you even wanted to leave the previous ones. I’ve heard many things about the game being very worth putting time into to solve all the puzzles and I find that very intriguing. I wonder if I will keep playing once I finish the campaign though. I guess we’ll see.[/toggle]

[toggle title="3. Ghost Recon Future Soldier Multiplayer Beta"]I am a huge fan of GRAW 1 and GRAW 2 and this game is a great addition to the franchise. I am thoroughly enjoying the multiplayer although I’ve been having a lot of problems with the service disconnecting for no reason. I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game coming in May.[/toggle]

[toggle title="4. SSX"]SSX is actually more frustrating than fun. I am more than happy that EA has finally released a next-gen SSX and the tricks control great. My only problem is controlling my rider. I am constantly falling off cliffs and dying and it’s just not fun anymore. I’d rather they did away with the death element. Yes, they have the whole rewind feature but it’s always painful using it and it’s hardly beneficial. I love the SSX franchise greatly but this one is more a hassle than it is fun.[/toggle]

[toggle title="5. Botanicula"]I was happy to hear Amanita Design, creators of Machinarium, released a new point-and-click adventure game. Even though the art style is much different than Machinarium the game is still great. Hey, Amanita!…can you start working on Machinarium 2 now?.[/toggle]

[toggle title="6. Windosill"]Windosill came with the Humble Botanicula Bundle if you donated more than the average. This game was a very pleasant surprise. It only takes about 30 minutes to complete which is too bad because the game is awesome. Everyone should play this game.[/toggle]

[toggle title="7. Borderlands"]A while back my cousins and I decided to start playing Borderlands. This is my second time playing through the game and their first. We’ve finished the campaign and are now working on the last of the DLC. I have now reached a point where I am ready to finish it all and get a good break before Borderlands 2 comes out. I cannot wait![/toggle]

[toggle title="8. Kingdom Rush"]Kingdom Rush is easily the best game on the iPad right now. It’s a tower defense game with an awesome cartoon art style. It’s super addictive and deep which means you can keep coming back to it over and over. I also love the upgrades. If you like tower defense games at all then Kingdom Rush is a no-brainer. I think it’s safe to say it’s the best TD game since PixelJunk Monsters.[/toggle]

There you have it. Even though I said the beginning of this year seems a little slower than most years I’ve still manage to keep a full plate of games. Hopefully you will give some of them a try!

 

03rd Apr2012

More Than a Game: Why the Mass Effect 3 Endings Work

by Eric Bouchard

By now, you have heard the outcry. Gamers have been blasting BioWare for how the company chose to end Mass Effect 3. Some have gone so far as to demand refunds on the game from Amazon and other retailers. Others have taken a much more gentle approach, chipping in to send 400 cupcakes to BioWare and including a note saying they believe the company will get it right. Things got so bad that Dr. Ray Muzyka, one of the co-founders of BioWare, wrote a statement on the company’s blog, viewable in its entirety here, stating the Mass Effect team was working on some game initiatives which should help fill in the gaps. Some are saying this means BioWare is going to change the endings, but that is not what Muzyka actually said. (more…)

29th Mar2012

FYI, That Isn’t Roman

by Timothy

With the new information that has come out recently regarding Assassin’s Creed 3, I’ve heard quite a few people remarking that they they think it is redictulus for the main character, Connor, to be wearing a Roman assassin style outfit,  that it doesn’t fit with the Revolutionary war period the game is set in, and that you are going to be extremely conspicuous trying to blend into a 1700′s crowd.   I’ve mentioned a few times on Twitter that no, it isn’t a Roman Assassin’s garb, that his outfit is pretty normal 1700′s soldier/scout/woodsman’s garb.  So I though I would take and point out some of the details, and show why this outfit fits, no pun intended. First, let’s compare Connor’s outfit with Etzio’s outfit from the earlier Assassin’s Creed games.

Here is Connor’s outfit.

assassins creed 3 FYI, That Isnt Roman

Connor

And here is Etzio’s.

ezio auditore de firenze 43306 FYI, That Isnt Roman

Etzio

Now at first glance you might say that they are almost exactly the same, but stop for a moment and look closer.  One major difference that should jump out is that Etzio has a cape (draped over his left shoulder), while Connor does not.  This is a point that I have heard mention several times specifically, that you are really going to stand out since he is wearing a cape.  However, looking at these pictures, it is pretty easy to see that there is no cape, at least, not an obvious one.  To confirm that there is none, let’s take a look from behind at both characters.

Again, here is Connor

assassins creed 3 21 FYI, That Isnt Roman

Connor

And here is Etzio

ac.brotherhood.02.lg FYI, That Isnt Roman

Etzio

Looking at these pictures it is extremely obvious that Connor does not wear a cape like Etzio. “But what are those long tails in back from, if not from a cape?” you may ask. Those long tails are from his Capot, a knee length hooded coat.  Here is picture of a modern made one in the style from around the time of the French and Indian War.

capot e1361140683792 FYI, That Isnt Roman

Now his is split in the back, which would make sense from a pure practicality aspect, as it would make the jacket less encumbering when moving swiftly. In addition, according to the Assassin’s Creed Wiki, he wears a dress uniform jacket, which also explains the tails, as the majority of uniforms of that time that I have seen are of that style. He is also wearing mocassins in the winter seens, which fit a woodsman/Indian of that period. Also notice the gilet (vest) he is wearing under his coat, which is standard of that time, and from what I’ve read trappers and hunters would often wear heavier ones like that as it adds another layer to help keep the core warm in the cold. And again, every uniform I’ve seen from that time period has it.

Hopefully this helps clear up some of the confusion regarding his garb. While I’ve only played a bit of the first game so far, and am not really interested in playing 2 – Revelations, this game has really caught my attention, and I definitely want to play it.

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