The Thought Processes Of A Serial Hearthstone Loser

By Alec Meer on August 1st, 2014.

I’m pretty new to Hearthstone, Blizzard’s none-more-slick digital card game. I’ve just about clawed past the point where I’m randomly spamming stuff and hoping for the best, and now have a custom deck I’m continually tweaking and a few solid wins under my belt. Now I’m no longer facing total greenhorns, it’s a different game. I’m losing a lot. This doesn’t particularly depress me, as I know the key is learning, and I know that I’ve got a whole lot of that left to do. It’s rare for me to not run a mile at that kind of prospect, but Hearthstone’s doing a great job of pulling me back and making me battle human opponents – years-long entrenchment is slowing being eroded. I’ll probably do a few videos while I continue to learn the ropes, but let’s start with one that reveals my exact thought processes during a particularly embarrassing match, which involved an epic comeback from my opponent.
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The Flare Path: Belt-Fed, Bipod-Mounted, Beer-Cooled

By Tim Stone on August 1st, 2014.

For the last three years this column has used an ancient bolt-action Lee-Metford to dispense sim and wargame news. This week, as an experiment, we’ll be trialling a far more modern fact flinger, the MG 42K. According to its manual, this Mauser-manufactured marvel can fire 20 separate story snippets in under a minute! Obviously, the high ROF comes at a price. Accuracy – “especially at the end of long bursts” – can be “slightly compromised” says the bumph. Give me a second to insert my ear plugs and press my cheek against the porcelain-cool steel stock, and we’ll set about finding out what “slightly compromised” means. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wot I Think: Sacred 3

By John Walker on August 1st, 2014.

Sacred has always been Diablo’s cheeky little cousin. Made with none of the precision or flair of Blizzard’s series, they’ve been bumbling action-RPGs that have attempted humour, mostly missed, and been generic but inoffensive click-a-thons. Hey folks, that’s all about to change with Sacred 3! This game is properly, unambiguously rubbish. Here’s wot I think:

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Week in Tech: Random Screen Round Up

By Jeremy Laird on July 31st, 2014.

Never before in the history of mankind have so many PC display options emerged in such a short space of time. At least, that’s the way it feels right now and in the time-honoured journalistic tradition I’m certainly not going to let fact checking get in the way of a mediocre narrative. It’s, er, monitormageddon people! In all seriousness, it’s enough to keep up with all the 120Hz, G-Sync, FreeSync and 4K nonsense. But now the mix of panel sizes, types and resolutions is beginning to spin out of control. I’m rapidly approaching the point where I haven’t a clue what I would personally plump for. Things will settle down in the next 18 months or so as the sweet spot emerges, no doubt. But that’s no help in the here and now. If you’re in the monitor market today, what the devil are you supposed to do?
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Wot I Think: The Room

By John Walker on July 31st, 2014.

The Room, BAFTA winning mobile puzzling mega-hit, has at last reached the PC in HD glory. I’ve slid my bottom into the slot on my chair, pressed the button that popped up on my mouse, and rotated my head until it faces the screen, which caused a mechanical whirring sound and the revealing of wot I think:

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Dote Night: The Science And Ice Cream Of Losing Streaks

By Philippa Warr on July 30th, 2014.

Part of a miscellany of serious thoughts, animal gifs, and anecdotage from the realm of MOBAs/hero brawlers/lane-pushers/ARTS/tactical wizard-em-ups. One day Pip might even tell you the story of how she bumped into Na’Vi’s Dendi at a dessert buffet cart.

I am on a horrific Dota 2 losing streak at the moment.

Unrelatedly, this week’s Dote Night will be about losing streaks and Dota 2. I’ve been reading through the wisdom of SCIENCE to find out more about losing streaks and, hopefully, how to fix them.

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Impressions: Crypt of the Necrodancer

By Alec Meer on July 30th, 2014.

Crypt of the Necrodancer blends roguelikes with rhythm action, neatly makes that wild concept work, and is out on Early Access today. I’ve been dipping my twitching toes in and out of it for the last couple of weeks.

I’ve long been aware of my own challenging relationship with rhythm – although I did take a certain pride in people moving away from my frenzied, unpredictable whirling in clubs – but struggling to cope with even Crypt of the Necrodancer’s sound latency calibration tool was a blow. I stared at the blinking icons and listened to the test tone I couldn’t seem to predict, gripped by professional terror. Somehow I’d decided it was a great idea to write about a game based on rhythm. Now, excuses rushes through my brain. “I damaged both my index fingers while making a sandwich.” “My middle ear blew because my baby screamed too loud.” “It turns out I’m allergic to the word ‘crypt.”

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Wot I Think: UnEpic

By John Walker on July 30th, 2014.

UnEpic has been around for quite a while now. Adam first played a demo of it in October 2011, and it’s been in Early Alpha for a good while since. But now it is, they say, complete. Released as a final version, feature complete. I’ve played it a few times over the years, but started from scratch with this final build. Here’s wot I think:

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Lo-Fi Let’s Play: The Curse of Crowley Manor

By Leigh Alexander on July 30th, 2014.

[I've been doing a series of Let's Play videos exploring old advetures, text games and lost design forms from the 1980s Apple IIe and Commodore 64 era. In a time when young men shout over new action games, I will talk softly over strange old ones. Come along on a visitation of a different era that's one part meditations on my childhood, one part adventure game criticism, and one part preservation effort. Bonus: Everyone says the quiet talk, lo-fi handmade feel and keyboard tapping triggers ASMR responses. Please enjoy!]

In my excavations of text-based graphic adventures from the 1980s, one of my favorite discoveries has been the late Jyym Pearson’s “Apple Other-Ventures”. Each one begins with a dead-serious provocation: These are “state of the art”, with dynamically-changing, “breathtaking graphics”, “psychological realism” and “the plot quality of a fine novel.”

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Cardboard Children – Sidibaba

By Robert Florence on July 29th, 2014.

Hello youse!

Sidibaba sidibaba. Sidibaba sidibaba sidibaba. Sidibaba. Sidibaba sidibaba sidibaba. Now, I know this looks like I’m just trying to flesh out my word count by repeating gibberish, the way a writer on Buzzfeed might do. But no, Sidibaba is actually the name of a board game. And it’s a really enjoyable word to say. Try it yourself!

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Expert Speech Skill: Pillars Of Eternity Interview Part 2

By Adam Smith on July 29th, 2014.

In the second and final part of a conversation with Josh Sawyer of Obsidian (part one), we discuss how the design of Pillars of Eternity differs from Fallout: New Vegas. That involves a discussion of New Vegas’ post-release support, official and otherwise, and the pros and cons of traditional RPG systems. Of particular note – why Pillars of Eternity does not have a Speech skill, or any other skill of that sort.

With contributions from executive producer Brandon Adler, we also discuss the role of Paradox as publisher and the benefits of digital distribution, and end with a tribute to nineties RPG, Darklands.

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The Lighthouse Customer: Factorio

By Christopher Livingston on July 28th, 2014.

The factory is a mess, but at least no one works here.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, building efficient machines to make other efficient machines in strategy game Factorio.

I’ve got coal-powered drills digging up resources, mechanical arms collecting the raw materials, and conveyor belts transporting it across the landscape where more arms collect it and deposit it into fabrication machines, after which the resulting product is plucked out by still more arms, dropped on more belts, moved on to more factories. Clouds of pollution fill the air, production lines twist and turn haphazardly, electrical poles and storage units appear to have been placed by a confused and drunken city planner. It’s a mess. A big mess. But it’s a beautiful mess, because it all works.

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Wot I Think: Bik

By Jon Blyth on July 28th, 2014.

Please elaborate as I'm not sure whether to laugh.

Sometimes, you get a little glimpse of how you’re perceived by the world. That can be flattering, like when you leave a suicide note and hide in the wardrobe while everyone starts improvising really sweet eulogies over a human beatbox. Then there’s this line of an email, which neatly captures why I was considered appropriate for this review of sci-fi point-and-click adventure game Bik:

“The trailer maybe contains a scene in which an alien uses a machine to force feed poop into a child’s mouth? And you are that child!”

Some games writers focus on social justice, others carve themselves a sex niche. I’m the poop guy. Hi!

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