Friday, 29 December 2017

Black Jewel Brings Commodore-Style Shirtless Swordplay Action

ss_4f4643aff61611c3e8b9907b7892f0dcca1ccc90.1920x1080.jpg

Black Jewel aims to emulate a c64 art style with its tale of stolen magical jewels and shirtless men with swords who aim to bring them back.

Darkor, unfortunate enough to have been saddled with such an obviously-evil name, has decided to steal the black jewel, and Ryan the Barbarian is having none of it. Even if he has to cross forty levels, striking countless goblins, ogres, and other giants until their skin literally falls off, he'll bring the gem back. Unless, you know, all of those fire-breathing trees and huge bosses give him some guff.

Black Jewel is a slower-paced action game, with Ryan taking a little bit of time to wind up a swing or a jump, making things feel a bit more strategic rather than slashing away, players will need to take care if they want to return that enchanted jewel. Still, they'll be gifted with some soothing sounds and charming pixel art that will dredge up many fond memories of the system and games built for it. Just don't lose YOUR skin while enjoying it all.

Black Jewel is available for $1.99 on Steam and Itch.io. For more information on the game and developer Oscar Celestini, you can head to the developer's site or follow them on YouTube and Twitter.



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Black Jewel Brings Commodore-Style Shirtless Swordplay Action

ss_4f4643aff61611c3e8b9907b7892f0dcca1ccc90.1920x1080.jpg

Black Jewel aims to emulate a c64 art style with its tale of stolen magical jewels and shirtless men with swords who aim to bring them back.

Darkor, unfortunate enough to have been saddled with such an obviously-evil name, has decided to steal the black jewel, and Ryan the Barbarian is having none of it. Even if he has to cross forty levels, striking countless goblins, ogres, and other giants until their skin literally falls off, he'll bring the gem back. Unless, you know, all of those fire-breathing trees and huge bosses give him some guff.

Black Jewel is a slower-paced action game, with Ryan taking a little bit of time to wind up a swing or a jump, making things feel a bit more strategic rather than slashing away, players will need to take care if they want to return that enchanted jewel. Still, they'll be gifted with some soothing sounds and charming pixel art that will dredge up many fond memories of the system and games built for it. Just don't lose YOUR skin while enjoying it all.

Black Jewel is available for $1.99 on Steam and Itch.io. For more information on the game and developer Oscar Celestini, you can head to the developer's site or follow them on YouTube and Twitter.



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TouchArcade Game of the Year 2017: 'Death Road to Canada'

This has been a truly incredible year for iOS gaming. We started with a list of hundreds of fantastic titles, whittled that down to a Top 100 Best Games list, and then started the day off with a short list of eight games in consideration for TouchArcade Game of the Year: Splitter Critters [$2.99], Data Wing [Free], Gorogoa [$4.99], GRID Autosport [$9.99], Cat Quest [$1.99], Reigns: Her Majesty [$2.99], Death Road to Canada [$10.99], and Arena of Valor [Free]. On this week's episode of the podcast, we walk through all of these games and what made them so special before eventually hashing out what was going to win what. Normally, we reserve the video version of the podcast for TouchArcade Patreon backers, but since this is a special event that only comes around once a year, we figured that we'd just put the video up for everyone to see. If you're at all curious about these additional titles, or the reasoning that went into what games won and why, definitely check this out or listen to our Podcast on iTunes:

 

GAME OF THE YEAR: DEATH ROAD TO CANADA


I'm not sure what kind of witchcraft is enchanting both Rocketcat Games and Madgarden, but it seems like the monkey's paw wish they made years ago is still paying off with their ability to flawlessly release game that push every single one of our buttons. Back in 2014 we awarded Rocketcat Game of the Year for Wayward Souls [$6.99], and this year we are happy to announce that our 2017 Game of the Year is Death Road to Canada.

We absolutely loved the game in our review back when it was released earlier this year. It was the game to beat, and while many games came close, nothing dethroned Death Road to Canada. The roguelike gameplay of completely random games and the absurd events that would transpire made trading tells from your time on the Death Road just as fun as playing the game itself. Additionally, a barrage of updates has pulled us right back into Death Road to Canada multiple times throughout the year. The game was among the most popular titles on our forums as well.

 

RUNNER UP: CAT QUEST


One thing we really loved about our 2016 Game of the Year, Crashlands [$6.99], is how it took a fairly complicated genre and made it unbelievably approachable. The Gentlebros' Cat Quest [$1.99] is dripping with similar magic, and is both a super lightweight RPG you can just play for a few minutes at a time which also features loads of depth if you're looking to explore it. Great touch controls, a ultra cute art style, and perfectly paired music all come together in one of the top must-play experiences of the year. (And our forums also agree!)

 

HONORABLE MENTION: SPLITTER CRITTERS


With our top two picks being pretty deep in the gamer-y games category, we also wanted to give a special nod to the best iOS puzzler of the year, Splitter Critters [$2.99]. When we first saw this at PAX it was obvious that Splitter Critters was either going to win tons of awards or it'd just be totally under the radar. Thankfully, they ended up winning all sorts of things including an Apple Design Award. As we explain in our review, gameplay involves making tears (or splitting) in the game world to then rearrange those pieces of the level into a way that allows your Lemming-like little blue aliens to reach their space ship. The base game was amazing, and then they updated it to support ARKit, turning one of the best puzzlers of the year into the best AR experience we've seen yet. Folks on our forums also really dig it.


For more end of the year coverage of the best games of 2017, be sure to check out our top 100 best iOS games list, as well as these personal top tens that we've been drizzling out over the week:

Also, if you'd prefer to listen to our Game of the Year discussion in the form of an audio podcast, here's all the links to do that:

iTunes Link: The TouchArcade Show
Stitcher: The TouchArcade Show via Stitcher Radio for Podcasts [Free]
RSS Feed: The TouchArcade Show
Direct Link: TouchArcadeShow-336.mp3, 83MB

Thanks a ton for sticking with us all through 2017. It's been a wild year filled with amazing games, and we really can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. Something tells me 2018 is going to be filled with lots of mobile games, but that's just a hunch.

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TouchArcade Game of the Week: 'Cinco Paus'

The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn't necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable "best" thing. Instead, it's more just us picking out the single game out of the week's releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.

These picks might be controversial, and that's OK. If you disagree with what we've chosen, let's try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.

Without further ado…

 

Cinco Paus

It was an odd week around here with the App Store being frozen for the holidays and only a handful of new games even being released. We even decided not to do our normal Out Now post on Wednesday because, well, it would have had like four games on it. However, one pretty significant game did make its surprise debut on Christmas Day and that game is Cinco Paus [$4.99], the latest game from popular roguelike developer Michael Brough. If you're familiar with the fanaticism surrounding Brough's previous games and their enduring designs, you'll know why Cinco Paus was an easy pick for Game of the Week this week whether it was just a handful of games being released or a hundred. This is another dose of the Michael Brough good stuff.

As our own Shaun Musgrave has already reviewed Cinco Paus in depth, I'll save going into the details in this feature. All I'll say is that the immense replay value, layers upon layers of depth, and many hidden elements that slowly unfold the more you play are all hallmarks of Brough's designs and they're ever-present in Cinco Paus too. One interesting tidbit is that the game is purposely in Portuguese, because Brough is currently learning the language and wanted to immerse himself in it as much as possible, even while designing games. It also pushed him to think about how to make the gameplay clear to everyone whether they knew the language or not, which I think is really interesting. He goes into more detail about the design process of Cinco Paus in this blog post and it's a really fascinating read.

So, with this being our final Game of the Week of the year, I feel pretty good we're sending off 2017 with such a high-quality release from one of the best game developers out there, and I'm looking forward to whatever amazing mobile gaming adventures await us in 2018!



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Soapbox: Yoshi's Woolly World Mended My Rocky Relationship With Yoshi

Soapbox: Soapbox: Yoshi's Woolly World Mended My Rocky Relationship With Yoshi

A cracked heart tightly stitched back together



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This Week On Xbox: December 29, 2017

Here we go…the latest episode of This Week On Xbox.

Remember, you can watch the interactive version of This Week on Xbox from the Community section of the Xbox One dashboard in Canada, the UK and the US or watch it on the Xbox YouTube channel (This Week on Xbox Playlist).

Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think of the show.



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Best of 2017: Game Design Deep Dive: Creating believable crowds in Planet Coaster

"10,000 guests was what we targeted, and simulating each seemed like a challenge. This was where using flow/potential fields became very appealing." - Owen McCarthy, principal programmer at Frontier. ...



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Get a job: Insomniac Games is hiring Engine Programmers

Insomniac Games is looking for mid to senior level Engine Programmers to work with the team to design, add and modify features of both runtime and tools components of the engine. ...



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Battlegrounds surpasses 3M concurrent players on Steam

Fresh out of Early Access, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has surpassed 3 million concurrent players on Steam. ...



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Tiny Metal Review

Jared's 10 Best Games of 2017 - Some of the Biggest Releases of the Year and a Few Hidden Gems

Well, 2017 has been yet another incredible year of mobile game releases, and just like always when I sit down to pick out my own personal favorites of the year I had a really hard time keeping it to just ten. For this list I focused mostly on the games that made the biggest impact on me this year as well as the ones I spent the most time playing. That said, this list could easily be ten times the size and there are a lot of fantastic games that I enjoyed in 2017 that I had to make the tough decision to omit. Heck, our 100 Best Games of the Year list actually IS ten times this size, and there's dozens of games that I wish we could have included on it still. I think we just have to get used to the fact that there's an overwhelming amount of great content on mobile, truly something for everybody if you're willing to search through all the crap to find it. That's really why TouchArcade exists in the first place, and we busted our collective butts this year to bring you as many great games as possible, and we plan on working even harder in 2018 to continue that tradition.


 

Beat Street

Beat Street, Free - Being an '80s and '90s arcade rat, one of my very favorite genres is the side-scrolling beat 'em up. Despite being a somewhat shallow type of game, it's surprisingly hard to get the formula just right, which explains why there's a zillion beat 'em ups out there but only a very few great ones. It's why the classics hold up so well decades later. Lucky Kat's Beat Street has found that special sauce that makes a beat 'em up fun, and has added some very smart modern touches that have made it a daily habit for me. The most important elements of a great beat 'em up are the combat and the enemy AI, both of which need to be complex enough to still be engaging but simple enough to be approachable. Beat Street nails those aspects perfectly. Then layered on top is a LENGTHY campaign mode (rare for this genre) and a character unlocking and upgrading system that ensures you've always got something to shoot for when you play.


 

Cat Quest

Cat Quest, $1.99 - I have a hard time getting into most RPGs usually because I can't handle the scope. Rather than hundred-hour affairs with deep, complex storylines I'd much prefer something breezier that gets to the point and focuses on what makes the genre so fun. It feels like Cat Quest was made for someone like me. There's not loads of text to bog down the action, but the main storyline and side quests are still filled with entertaining tales and colorful characters. There's equipment upgrading and character progression, but it's just enough to be manageable while still allowing you to tailor your character to your style. The combat and magic system are similarly diverse enough to be interesting but not overwhelming, and it's tailored so well to the touchscreen it makes the real-time battling tons of fun. Cat Quest is like a concentrated dose of action RPG and cat puns, and it's some of the most fun I've had gaming in 2017.


 

Darts of Fury

Darts of Fury, Free - Yes, it's the year 2017 and I'm picking a darts game of all things for my top 10 of the year. I'm just as surprised as you. The funny thing is, despite there being dozens if not hundreds of darts games on mobile over the years, none have been especially great, which is a shame as flicking your finger on a touchscreen is a great way to represent throwing a dart. Well, I'm here to tell you that Darts of Fury gets it right. The physics are totally on point, and reward solid flicking mechanics and aim just like the real thing. Aside from a couple (admittedly fun) training mini-games, Darts of Fury is an online PvP game, and with good matchmaking and a great leveling system it's a blast to rise the ranks and face off against other players. There's plenty that could be improved here, namely the inclusion of more modes and dart game types and especially the ability to play against friends instead of just randoms, but the dart throwing is so much fun that it hasn't stopped me from playing this one each day since its release.


 

Death Road to Canada

Death Road to Canada, $10.99 - There's something about Rocketcat's games that just push all the right buttons for me. They tend to create games that reward skill and insist you actually learn the details of the game rather than just brute force your way through. Our 2014 Game of the Year Wayward Souls was an excellent example of that. And now Death Road to Canada, made in conjunction with authentic Canadian developer Madgarden, is another. Your goal is pretty simple on paper: Escape the zombie apocalypse by road tripping from Florida to the safety of The Great White North. In practice it's not quite so easy. I've always loved roguelike games because of their ability to let you create your own adventures rather than the one the developer envisioned for you, and in that sense Death Road is like a storytelling machine. The sheer variety of what can happen to you in any given road trip is sure to create some lasting memories, and with careful resource management, some nimble fingers, and a whole lot of luck it's chock full of extremely rewarding gameplay too.


 

Flipflop Solitaire

Flipflop Solitaire, Free - I don't think I'm alone in saying that I have thousands of hours invested in playing Solitaire over the years. It was a big reason my parents bought a computer when I was a kid! With such an enduring design, you'd think a classic like Solitaire would be impossible to improve on, but developer Zach Gage somehow pulls it off with Flipflop Solitaire. Just a few rule changes have created an entirely new experience, and unlike Solitaire where you'll often find yourself in a dead end situation nearly all games in Flipflop Solitaire can be won. Because of that each game feels almost like a puzzle that you can solve, and with so much extra flexibility in the rules compared to the traditional game, I've been surprised with how many times I think I've been stumped only to discover a string of crazy moves I can make to get me out of a stuck situation. It's SO satisfying.


 

Getting Over It

Getting Over It, $4.99 - I love weird physics-based games, mostly because they're purposely silly and somewhat shallow and don't take themselves too seriously. Getting Over It shares the silly and weird part, but it most definitely takes itself seriously. This is a game that's built to abuse you over and over while simultaneously talking you through the emotional damage it's causing you. Your job is to climb a mountain while sitting in a cauldron using nothing but a sledge hammer to push and fling yourself around. It's totally absurd, but there's something incredibly satisfying about overcoming such adversity… right up to the point where you make a wrong move and go plummeting down to the bottom, losing possibly hours of progress in the process. Yes, that happens a lot. But somehow you just want to come back for more.


 

Gorogoa

Gorogoa, $4.99 - This has to count as the biggest surprise of the year for me, as Gorogoa only came out a couple of weeks ago but in all honesty it only took a couple of minutes before I knew this would be one of my favorites of 2017. It's something of a hybrid of a point and click adventure game and one of those tile-sliding picture puzzles, but that description doesn't nearly do this masterpiece justice. You'll zoom in and out of many beautiful illustrated scenes, and also slide different layers off of the environment to manipulate and interact with various elements in the pictures. Gosh, it's SO hard to explain, but that's what's so amazing about Gorogoa. It's unlike any game I've ever played, and it will constantly be blowing your mind with how inventive it is and how it can create these rich, interconnected environments. The best part is that Gorogoa tells an interesting story and creates an interesting universe to explore and it does it entirely without text. It's so stunningly brilliant that the only bad thing I can say is that the game ends at all, as I could easily poke and prod my way around this fascinating world for eternity.


 

GRID™ Autosport

GRID™ Autosport, $9.99 - I don't get into racing games very often, and even when I do they tend to be the more unrealistic, arcade-style games. I did have a love affair with the original two Gran Turismo games back in the day but as technology advanced the series just got too difficult for a car noob like me, and I've pretty much avoided hardcore racing sims ever since. Which sucks because I WANT to like them, you know? I just couldn't. Then GRID Autosport arrived on iOS and basically provided my dream racing game. It's simulation-focused but not overly so, and it has so many dang options you can pretty much tailor the game to suit your style no matter what your experience or enthusiasm towards racing is. Then there's the staggering amount of event and race types that are connected to a rich career mode that is always waiting to give you something satisfying to accomplish. Throw in the best visuals we've ever seen in a mobile game to date and there's no better way to spend your money than GRID Autosport for both hardcore and casual racing fans on the go.


 

Pigeon Wings

Pigeon Wings, $1.99 - Side-scrolling cave flyer games are a staple of the mobile platform, as they're typically one or two button affairs that lend themselves incredibly well to the touchscreen. Because of that we've been inundated with these types of games for years, and it's become increasingly difficult for new ones to stand out. Pigeon Wings may look like your average cave flyer, but it's actually one of the finest racing games on mobile and stands out in a number of ways. First, it's level-based, and each level is a finely-crafted course that will reward your quick reflexes and taking advantage of subtle strategies like drafting behind the racers ahead of you. There's also some shooting elements thrown in and even boss fights, and each level is bite-sized enough that it's easy to squeeze in a game here and there as well as go back and repeat a course over and over trying for a better time. This formula has brought me back to Pigeon Wings constantly since its release, but a recent endless mode addition pretty much ensures I'll never stop playing this one.


 

Steredenn

Steredenn, $3.99 - I love shoot 'em ups, and I love roguelikes, so it stands to reason that I'd love a roguelike shoot 'em up and the brilliant Steredenn is proof of that. It's a horizontally-scrolling shooter that has you playing through a set of semi-randomized levels each capped off with an epic boss battle. Upon completion of each level you're given the choice of a number of weapons or power-ups to equip, meaning you only get more bad ass the further you get in the game. It's also designed so that you can beat all levels and loop back around to continue on, going until you die, and like most great shooters it's not merely designed to be "beaten" but mastered and replayed over and over. A special shoutout goes to the excellent touch controls implemented into this mobile version of Steredenn that creates a crosshair sort of thing whenever your ship might be hidden by your thumb, which is just ingenious and should be standard on all mobile shooters from now on.



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Review: Stern Pinball Arcade (Switch eShop)

Review: Review: Stern Pinball Arcade (Switch eShop)

A classic experience



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Some mobile games now report TV viewing habits back to advertisers

A number of mobile games and apps now use a smart device's microphone to track the shows or advertisements its players see on TV. ...



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Gamasutra's Best of 2017: Brandon Sheffield's top 10 games hidden in other games

"I'm talking about games tucked away within published games. Specifically I'm interested in games that have little to nothing to do with the games they're hidden in." ...



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Looking Back at 2017 – Highs and Lows

We are here again at the point of the year where I take a moment to look back at the state of things and wonder how we managed to get things as messed up as they appear to be.

This post follows the usual random stream of consciousness, “oh yeah, that happened” level of effort with no attempt to link out to anything.  I just spew out bullet points.  Past efforts, for comparison or whatever, are available:

So what happened in 2017 that stuck with me:

Blizzard

Highs

  • World of Warcraft team managed to keep delivering new content with the Legion expansion, which seems like it will stem the usual max exodus that comes with the regular second summer content drought.
  • Money money money money… WoW still brings in so much money it has avoided any real F2P lootbox taint so far.
  • New expansion, Battle for Azeroth, announced at BlizzCon.
  • Holy fuck, WoW Classic announced at BlizzCon!!1! one one !
  • Diablo III got the necromancer and that odd Diablo special event.
  • Overwatch is still go-go-go.
  • More Hearthstone card packs to sell.
  • StarCraft Remaster!
  • StarCraft II base game now free.
  • Heroes of the Storm got some sort of revamp… and then another one.

Lows

  • WoW subscription numbers are still top secret and their other metrics are BS; SuperData Research can seem more informative than Activision Blizzard quarterly reports.
  • We haven’t actually hit the second summer of Legion yet; things could still go badly.
  • The renewed Horde vs. Alliance aspect of Battle for Azeroth isn’t a universally inspiring as, say, the Lich King.
  • Blizzard is just now staffing up the WoW Classic team, so the ship date is probably still far away, like 2020.
  • League of Legends still makes more money than WoW and Riot doesn’t have to design huge zones or raids, they just have to sell some skins, boosts, and the occasional OP champion.
  • Diablo III is very much on the back burner now.
  • Still no Diablo II or Warcraft III remasters.
  • StarCraft II feels like it is also falling by the wayside; making it free and putting the remastered StarCraft on the Battle.net launcher feels like the successor never topped the original.
  • How long until Hearthstone card packs hit the level of absurdity?  I suppose if Magic: The Gathering is any indication, the answer is “never.”  But for me that point has already come and gone.
  • Did the Heroes of the Storm updates make any difference?  Is Heroes of the Storm even going to be a thing come BlizzCon 2018?
  • I hate to get all “what have you done for us lately,” but you got anything new planned Blizz?

Daybreak

Highs

  • Still holds a high enough spot in my heart to get its own category in this post despite my not playing any of their games right now.
  • Continued the Norrath development cycle another year, with EverQuest and EverQuest II each getting a new expansion.
  • Planes of Prophecy in EQII got some good reviews by the locals and continues the successful nostalgia plan at Daybreak, it being a call back to the monumental 2002 Planes of Power expansion in EQ.
  • Somebody must be buying the $140 versions of those expansions if they keep offering them.
  • Ongoing Norrathian nostalgia train as post EQ and EQII got new expansion locked progression servers.
  • DC Universe Online remains strong on consoles.
  • H1Z1 – King of the Kill was the king of battle royale games on Steam for a while.
  • H1Z1 – King of the Kill is going to China via Tencent, Riot’s parent company.
  • Just Survive is supposed to get some attention and updates.
  • Still a rumor of a new game coming from Daybreak, maybe even a Norrath game.

Lows

  • The EQII fan base remains restive, especially in the forums.  Daybreak inherited a lot of anger debt from SOE.
  • How many special servers can Daybreak roll out before they hit diminishing returns?
  • How many time can EQ go back to Kunark before that well dries up?
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battleground pretty much dwarfed H1Z1 – King of the Kill on Steam… and then so did Fortnite.
  • H1Z1 – King of the Kill renamed back to just H1Z1 because the word “kill” kills sales, or so they say.
  • In China H1Z1 will apparently be King of Survival. Bite the wax tadpole!
  • Just Survive seemed aptly named given how long it was neglected.  But at least it did survive.
  • Landmark, gone in a blink, a lesson in early access.  There is nothing special about “going live” when you’ve been charging people to play all along.
  • Rumors don’t pay the bills and any new game will likely go straight on to Steam as unfinished “early access” and suffer the same fate.

Standing Stone

Highs

  • Free from WB and their bottom line expectations, they are focused on their two titles.
  • Continuing to develop and improve both Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online.
  • Launched the Mordor expansion so, after a decade, the end of the War of the Rings is in sight.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online got some updates as well.

Lows

  • Company is clearly tied to milking the final acts of both DDO and LOTRO; they will never create a new title.
  • Since they didn’t get Asheron’s Call, that went away.
  • Still not really sure who owns them; WB doesn’t just give assets away.
  • Still not clear on relationship with Daybreak and who is benefiting from it.
  • Not sure the avatar graphical update was worth the investment; every gripe I had about the old avatars still exist.
  • From Frodo leaving Bag End to the destruction of the ring took about six months in the books (September 23, 3018 TA to March 25, 3019 TA).
  • The end of the War of the Rings means the end of the game, unless we’re going to get a quest to go with Sam to the Grey Havens and then help him run for mayor.
  • The Mordor expansion… just not that appealing… and the expensive versions of the expansion seemed even more over-priced for what one got than even Daybreak’s offerings.

CCP

Highs

  • Consistent updates and big feature expansions are still a thing for EVE Online.
  • A renewed focus on EVE Online late in the year.
  • Promise of a 64-bit client, which should reduce client crashes in big fleet fights… at least crashes from exceeding the 32-bit limit on memory allocation.
  • Can still get headlines out of player conflicts in null sec.
  • Andrew Groen has a podcast going into more detail about null sec history.
  • A lot of community outreach by CCP, with players streaming on their Twitch channel and such.
  • An expansion of Alpha Clone abilities.
  • The company seemed to be a leader in VR titles with Valkyrie, Gunjack, and the new Sparc.
  • Valkyrie now available for non-VR players with the Warzone expansion
  • Project Nova and Project Aurora are going forward with partnered studios doing much of the heavy lifting.
  • /r/eve on Reddit… not as toxic as it once was.

Lows

  • Literally dammed if they focus on EVE Online and dammed if they do not.
  • The cost of focus on EVE Online was layoffs.
  • Somehow, laying off most of the EVE Online community team was “focusing” on EVE Online.
  • This year saw the least number of Dev Blogs published in the history of the game, and at this point they get a dozen gimmes in the form of the Monthly Economic Report.
  • EVE Online remains the only viable post-Hættuspil game for the company.
  • EVE Online also remains firmly in the post “Jesus Feature” era; not much being added to the game that would bring back old players.  Updates in 2018 were mostly iterative.
  • The captain’s quarters are gone.  Some part of me did want that to work out, but CCP just doesn’t have the breadth to do that and keep internet spaceships viable at the same time.
  • Music with updates seems to be a thing of the past, which is sad because EVE Online music is something I actually listen to regularly.
  • Null sec headlines this summer quickly turned to bad player behavior thanks to GigX making real world threats, thus reaffirming that New Eden is a horrible place for horrible people.
  • Apparently nothing outside of null sec and the occasional scam makes for a headline or a story worth telling.
  • Andrew Groen gave up focusing on EVE Online after only a few episodes.
  • The whole Alpha Clone thing opened the door for creeping microtransactions and the eventual shit-death of the universe.
  • Some of our community remains shit.
  • While VR is growing as a segment, it is still very small.
  • Making Valkyrie available without VR doesn’t inspire confidence in the VR market
  • Valkyrie with VR was visually interesting, taking that away makes it feel flat.
  • Need to been an octopus to play Valkyrie well with keyboard an mouse; really requires a game pad… by which I mean an XBox 360 controller specifically, unless you want to configure everything by trial and error.
  • And speaking of things that do not inspire confidence in VR, I hope you really like Gunjack, Sparc, and EVE: Valkyrie exactly the way they are now, because development for the products has been shelved and most of the staff laid off.
  • What are the odds that an EVE Online based shooter or mobile app will be a success no matter who is doing the coding?
  • Ha, ha, ha… I just remembered when they were talking about an EVE Online TV show.
  • /r/eve on Reddit being better than before is a very low bar and hardly worth bragging about.

Nintendo

Highs

  • The Switch is selling well.  It will pass total Wii U sales numbers soon.
  • Video games on the Switch sell well even with reduced visual fidelity
  • Seemed to figure out its NES Classic issue so SNES Classics are much easier to come by
  • Might actually re-release the NES Classic next year.
  • New Pokemon games in the form of Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon.
  • Old Pokemon games in the form of Pokemon Gold & Silver… and Pokemon Crystal soon.
  • Yet more Metroid of some sort.
  • More mobile apps.  Lots of people downloaded Super Mario Jump!

Lows

  • For all its success, I cannot see a reason to buy a Switch.  And it isn’t anything like Wii level popularity.
  • End of the Wii Store is coming… well, in 2019, but still… alright, I was surprised it was still even open.
  • Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon were not a big change over Pokemon Sun & Moon.
  • No Pokemon Diamond & Pearl remake… yet.
  • After Pokemon Go other Nintendo mobile apps have failed to see anything close to that level of popularity or financial success.

Other Games

Highs

  • Unified Minecraft clients so you can share servers with your friend on different platforms
  • Fortnite shows up as an sharp looking co-op survival game.
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battleground takes the Battle Royale idea and runs with it to massive success, leaving H1Z1: King of the Kill in the dust.
  • Star Citizen hasn’t imploded yet and even seems to have made some progress.
  • Word of a Age of Empires remaster to go with my Age of Kings remaster.
  • Steam, still a purveyor of the occasional rare gems, always a sale of some sort just around the corner.
  • Rimworld ate up a lot of my gaming hours over the summer
  • I played a lot of MMOs over the course of 2017.
  • Lots of MMOs still out there surviving many years in.
  • Toril MUD is coming up on 25 years of operation in one form or another!
  • EA going too far with Star Wars Battlefront II microtransactions brought a lot of attention to what is going on with that sort of thing.

Lows

  • Original Minecraft, now called the “Java edition,” was not part of the unification plan.
  • PUBG devs got really pissy when Fortnite decided that it too would become a battle royale game.
  • Have you tried to decipher Fortnite’s purchasing options?  I went to their site and gave up after looking at that.  Also, if you bought in for co-op survival, sorry, battle royale is now the thing.
  • Star Citizen is still a lot a vision and very little reality as fan boys celebrate getting access to an Alpha version only a few months late while a real viable game isn’t even a speck on the horizon yet.
  • Speaking of Star Citizen, giving everybody access to the public test server doesn’t count towards “shippping” the long promised Alpha 3.0 release.  That just says it isn’t ready yet.
  • Eventually we will hit remaster saturation… or start having to remaster the remasters as tech progresses.
  • Steam is still clogged with a huge mass of absolute shit that makes finding gems a near impossible chore.
  • I’m glad I bought No Man’s Sky on sale, as it really didn’t grab me at all. Slowest load times ever.
  • I played several MMOs for less than a month each this year before landing back in WoW, so same as it ever was.
  • I went on a zone (raid) with a group in TorilMUD and my ability to parse scrolling text is not what it used to be.  I was totally lost.
  • Server merges for games like Runes of Magic and SWTOR show the decline.
  • Club Penguin thrown over by Disney for a mobile app.  After “land war in Asia” one of the classic blunders is to force your installed base to change platforms and re-start from scratch.
  • Marvel Heroes suffered a sudden, if not totally unexpected demise, leading to questions about refunds for people who recently made in-game purchases.
  • Are there any Funcom MMOs that are not in maintenance mode?
  • Civilization VI just didn’t inspire me, but at least I bought it on sale.
  • EA managed to go so far on the microtransaction greed front as to attract the attention of various governmental organizations.  That could end very badly for all of us.  Way to shit the bed for everybody there EA!
  • Trion, apparently missing the whole EA fiasco, decided to sell a $100 lockbox in Rift with a random “premium” mount, some of which are available in-game for much much less.  Then attempted to deflect criticism via derision and sarcasm.  At least they saw the light after a few hours of being pounded.
  • Games I backed on Kickstarter continue to fail to ship, with Mineserver leading the way in the ratio of promise to actual delivery date failure metric.
  • Early access, Kickstarter campaigns, and beta have all become pretty much synonymous with getting the money up front and delivering shit as the industry does its usual gyration where somebody succeeds on good faith and then others take the most superficial lessons from that and pile on simply looking to make money before delivering.
  • Fewer video high quality video games showing up as the expense to make them continues to rise while older games hang on through DLC and other monetization plans.  How long ago did GTA V ship?
  • As I write this I cannot think of a new video game title to which I am looking forward to seeing launch.

Media

Highs

  • Blade Runner 2049 really looked, sounded, and “felt” excellent.
  • Dunkirk was beautiful and engaging to watch.
  • Lots of blockbuster superhero movies, if you like that sort of thing.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi for pete’s sake!
  • Fantasy Movie League has been fun.
  • Stranger Things 2 gave fans of the first series something new to binge on and was strong enough that a third season has been green lit.
  • Comcast put Netflix and YouTube apps in their cable box so I can now easily switch to either service and watch them on the TV.
  • Amazon Prime video remains worthwhile.
  • The beloved celebrity death train that was 2016 seemed to have subsided somewhat.

Lows

  • Box office confirmation that Blade Runner was a cult classic and not a mainstream success in any way.
  • I saw Dunkirk in IMax and it was so loud I think it damaged my hearing.  Also, I refuse to believe in Spitfires that can glide forever.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi left me feeling dissatisfied.  We’ve also hit a point in the franchise where you can neither like or dislike a film, or any aspect of the film, without somebody declaring your opinion flat out wrong because you’re either too big of a nerd or not big enough or a nerd.  That’s not how this works.
  • I am not very much into the superhero things really.  Can we get some better science fictions movies… that aren’t necessarily Star Wars of Star Trek?
  • Fantasy Movie League can seem really random in results unless you are REALLY into keeping up on details and projections.  I fail at that more often that I succeed.  My ability to care is limited and sometimes I just want to roll the dice.
  • Stranger Things 2 lacked the punch, got off track, and was a lot more interested in itself than the first series.
  • If I couldn’t figure out where Stranger Things 2 was going to go, where in the hell will Stranger Things 3 end up?  How much can Hawkins take?
  • You don’t want to see my Comcast bill.  And I have to have them because there are literally no other choices in my area.
  • And in this era where I am paying so much to Comcast, HBO, Netflix, and Amazon for streaming, the best and most cost effective way to see a new release at home is still getting disks in the mail via the old Netflix delivery service.  All hail the postal service I guess.
  • It is a good thing the video has value because Amazon Prime shipping… let’s just say I wouldn’t order anything breakable from Amazon these days.
  • I watched YouTube’s 2017 Rewind video and… boy do I feel old.  I got fidget spinners, the eclipse, and maybe that planking is dead?
  • I might be willing to sacrifice a few more celebrities if it would keep the president from provoking North Korea on Twitter.  Maybe we can get some deal on all the ones suddenly accused of sexual misconduct?

The Blog, internet, and other things

Highs

  • The blog, it still lives!
  • I managed to just about keep up the pace, posting more than 300 times.
  • People still show up here, read posts, and occasionally leave comments.
  • I still actually enjoy writing.
  • There is still a pretty active MMO blogging community out there.
  • There is even something of an MMO press still.
  • Net neutrality was good while it lasted.

Lows

  • More blogs I have known have fallen by the wayside or disappeared.
  • Reddit, Twitter, and Twitch are a far more common outlet for gamers than blogs and podcasts these days.
  • The alleged MMO press can’t really stick to MMOs most days without stretching the definition to mean simply “online multiplayer.”
  • Massively OP continues to demonstrate that they have some sort of institutional axe to grind when it comes to EVE Online and Daybreak.
  • My rate of posting, while still beyond my “every weekday” goal, continues to slacken.
  • People showing up and leaving comments is, likewise, falling off.
  • Do I really play anything besides EVE Online and WoW?  So what will I write about?
  • My typos are starting to become more common and more egregious… it now compares with Apple’s auto-correct in absurdity some days… to the point that I am starting to wonder if I have some sort of neurological disease.   Stapling machine.
  • I am starting to enjoy what I have written more than what I am writing, so that the looking back section of the month in review posts have started to expand considerably.  Blog founded largely on nostalgia likes nostalgia!
  • WordPress.com is getting more aggressive in monetizing free blogs, injecting more ads and pushing their subscription plans constantly.
  • For all of WP.com’s ballyhoo’d features I still have to keep a Rube Goldberg-esque series of technologies in harmony to have a dynamic blog roll in my side bar.
  • Patreon managed to screw a lot of small content creators by announcing (then withdrawing) a horrible cash grab that was badly disguised as an improvement.

Well, that is all I had from 2017 stuck in my brain.  The time left in the year is easily measured in hours at this point.  On to a new year.

Was anybody else looking back at the old year?



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Flying Tigers: Shadows Over China Is Now Available For Digital Pre-order And Pre-download On Xbox One

Content: Flying Tigers: Shadows Over China
Check pre-order price and availability in your Xbox LIVE region

Game Description: You may pre-download this game, but it will not be playable until release date (01/11/2018 – 9:00 PM).

FTSOC, short for FLYING TIGERS: SHADOWS OVER CHINA, is an air-combat action game based on the true events of America’s secret volunteer squadrons that defended China against Japan in the China-Burma-India theatre of World War 2. Experience rarely depicted air-battles as you take on the role of headstrong fighter pilots, self-sacrificing transport navigators, and daring bomber crews and gunners of the AVG, the RAF, and the USAAF to repel the onslaught of the Japanese war machine. Dogfight skilled enemy aces using “hit and run” tactics, carry out breakaway air-strikes behind enemy lines, and take part in the defense of China’s critical supply-routes, from Rangoon up the Burma road, and across the deadly Himalayan “Hump”.

Xbox One Pre-Order FAQ



from Xbox Live's Major Nelson http://ift.tt/2BTLyl2

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