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Steam: Green Light / Red Light for Hatred

By Jeff Buckland, 12/16/2014 6:52 AM

Earlier yesterday, Steam Greenlight allowed a game called Hatred to pop up into their crowd-choosing sub-platform. It's an isometric action game where players go on mass murders of innocents and take out cops that come in as well. After a bit of controversy, Valve pulled the game and said they will not be publishing the game at all.

Fair enough, but is it because the game made that the objective? Because you can do this in a lot of games... including the Grand Theft Auto series. The trailer's below. You decide!



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You might not want to pre-order The Order: 1886 (or any game!)

By Jeff Buckland, 12/12/2014 1:34 PM

Ian Higton from Eurogamer put together a nice little video showing five reasons you "might not want to pre-order The Order: 1886". For me, what he shows could also count as reasons you might not want to buy it at all! Or, at least, wait until it's on sale or something.

The video is below, but I wanted to point out cover-shooting as one thing. We've had a LOT of games with cover shooting as a main mechanic over the last seven years, and while cover is a worthwhile mechanic for a realistic-ish action game, it needs to give players and enemies good reasons (realistic or not) to actually leave that cover some of the time. Relatively few games do, and from what I'm seeing, The Order is not one of those few games.

Anyway, check out the video and see if you agree. At the very least, I almost always recommend pre-ordering a game that you can't at least cancel with a single click. (Like Amazon's system.)



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GOG.com Winter Sale Begins

By Jeff Buckland, 12/4/2014 9:01 AM

GOG.com has announced that their winter sale has begun. You can get some great discounts on entirely DRM-free versions of many games, both new and old. The $21 D&D Package including a ton of classic RPGs like the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights series is great, and you can even pick up, while "supplies" last, a free copy of Age of Wonders. Would have liked to see the Star Wars X-Wing and Tie Fighter packages on sale down from $10 each, but oh well.

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Tales from the Borderlands is Reviewing Well

By Jeff Buckland, 11/25/2014 9:06 AM

Looks like Telltale Games has the Midas touch, as right when you'd think people (game reviewers included) would be pretty sick of Borderlands games - what with the less-than-completely-stellar Borderlands Pre-Sequel just having been released within the last six weeks - it turns out this one's getting many 9/10 and similar reviews. I'm sure it's at least due to Telltale making use of Gearbox Software's writing talents very well, something that 2K Australia seemed to fail at with BL:TPS.

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New EVE Online Trailer

By Jeff Buckland, 11/22/2014 7:38 AM

The space-based sandbox MMO game EVE Online only continues to grow, even if slowly, but the 11-year running game has been the source of some very interesting stories. It's extremely involved and complex, and completely unforgiving. The latest trailer shows some of that, along with impressive space battles and recordings of voice comms supplied to developers CCCP by real players. Looks good, right?



Commentary follows:

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Fallout: Lonestar Looking Interesting

By Jeff Buckland, 11/18/2014 6:50 AM

Patricia Hernandez at Kotaku did a little article looking into this whole Fallout: Lonestar mod for Fallout: New Vegas, and new entire mod-based games based on the Fallout world always look interesting. I'm definitely looking forward to this mod when it's released.



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Remembering Half-Life 2

By Jeff Buckland, 11/16/2014 9:13 PM

You have probably seen recently that Half-Life 2 quietly celebrated its tenth birthday this week. One of the things that keeps this series, besides its high quality, is the simple fact that Half-Life has consistently lived up to the considerable hype these games have received over the years. Of course, we haven't seen anything new in years and years, and I'm sure that somewhere at Valve people are very worried about making a follow-up that lives up to the expectations of gamers. It's a weird position to be in, considering that Half-Life 3 hasn't been announced and currently doesn't even officially exist - but for now, I think you'll find that the entire Half-Life series still holds up well. Considering the last Half-Life 2 release was over seven years ago, I think that's a pretty good track record.

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G4 Shutting Down Nov 30th

By Jeff Buckland, 11/16/2014 3:11 PM

Looks like G4 is finally shutting down this month. Those of you with fond memories of greats like Attack of the Show! and other gaming-related content will likely lament the end of G4, but then again, maybe we should have been doing that a long time ago, as G4 hasn't really had new and original gaming-related programming for quite some time now. (Usually it was just Cops reruns, I think.)

Let's pour out a forty for good ol' G4 and hope that if we ever see another TV channel devoted to gaming, that it lives a fuller and better life than G4 did.

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What a difference a change in perspective makes!

By Jeff Buckland, 11/5/2014 6:28 AM

Rockstar has been largely quiet about what's going on with the next-gen and PC versions of Grand Theft Auto V until recently, but the latest video showcasing an optional first-person perspective looks fantastic. It naturally puts you closer to the game's best effects and textures, and the animations, considering they've probably had to be re-done at least some, seem to be worth the effort. (For that matter, we're in support of action game developers putting in both first- and third-person views in as many games as it is appropriate, as it seems worth it to us to have the option in most action games.)



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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 Polygon.com 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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