Wot I Think: Hand of Fate

By Alec Meer on February 24th, 2015.

uh, you really should learn how to fast shuffle, dude

Hand of Fate [official site] is a CCG/roguelite in which a masked, magical figure challenges you to play an increasingly deadly card game against him, switching to high-speed, stabby third-person combat whenever you get into a fight. It’s out now.

The reason I so often want to play boardgames despite having a hard drive full of more videogames than I could ever hope to complete isn’t simply because occasional contact with other human beings is unfortunately necessary in order to remember how to talk. It’s because having an opponent who voices their frustration and exhilaration as the game goes for or against them makes it seem so much more than it is. It becomes a true contest, its cards and dice these physical extensions of your will to defeat another lifeform. Videogames, usually, offer us the canned, meaningless soundbytes of a hundred thousand slain foes, but they don’t often offer us a single, overarching opponent who lets slip irritation or indulges in crowing. They’ll often offer us someone we want to defeat because they’re shown to do terrible things or have a skull for a face, but they very rarely offer us someone we want to defeat purely because they are our rival.
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Hands On: Hearts Of Iron IV

By Adam Smith on February 24th, 2015.

Hearts of Iron [official site] is my Moby Dick. I’ve spent an inordinate portion of my adult life playing grand strategy games, particularly those of the Paradox variety. I’m slightly unusual in that Europa Universalis wasn’t my gateway game – I entered the fold by means of the first Crusader Kings, which swiftly became one of my favourite games, despite its problems. From there I moved to Europa Universalis II and struggled to infiltrate the colonial powers of Victoria. It wasn’t until the sequel that I learned to enjoy the nineteenth century.

Hearts of Iron IV might finally bring me into the heart of the twentieth century.

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Wot I Think: Frozen Cortex

By Fraser Brown on February 24th, 2015.

Frozen Cortex [official site], formerly Frozen Endzone, is a futuristic American Football analogue where surprisingly graceful robots take the place of fleshy, armour-clad men. It’s evocative of Speedball and Blood Bowl, but it’s really Frozen Synapse wrapped in the theme of competitive team sports. The result’s a purely strategic and tactical game, entirely absent RNG, with players taking their turns simultaneously. I’m quite bad at it.

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Premature Evaluation: Eden Star

By Marsh Davies on February 23rd, 2015.

A drop of fairy liquid and some hot water should sort these fellows out.

Each week, Marsh Davies crashlands into the hostile alien landscape that is Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or an acute appreciation of how precious are the few fleeting moments of life allotted to us on this Earth and whether it really constitutes a full life, a good life, to spend the ever-diminishing number of hours and minutes clicking on virtual trees to turn them into virtual logs. Nevertheless, this week, he survives yet another survival game – this one called Eden Star, in which resource scrabbling is appended with tower-defence-style fortification on a distant planet.

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Wot I Think: Trash TV

By John Walker on February 23rd, 2015.

Absolutely nothing to do with Smash TV, Trash TV is a brief puzzle platformer in which you play an old television set attempting to escape from a recycling centre. A concept that sounds so strange, it’s quite the mystery that it feels so very ordinary. Here’s wot I think:

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Victor Vran: Early Access Impressions

By John Walker on February 23rd, 2015.

Well, we’ve got the next action RPG to look forward to!

aRPGs are an odd genre, with there being so popular, but with so few that stand out. Obviously the Diablos, the Torchlights, and the Titan Quests. There’s Path Of Exile, there’s Grim Dawn, and then it gets trickier. The dreary Dungeon Siege games? The clumsy Sacred series? The almost there Van Helsing silliness? I think we may have a game that could sneak into the list, however, with Victor Vran [official site], currently in Early Access.

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The Pipwick Papers

By Philippa Warr on February 22nd, 2015.

It is currently Saturday and I am typing this with tiny T-rex arms on account of going wall climbing earlier because FITNESS. This is a demonstration of my dedication to the Pipwick Papers. This edition has ended up quite biology-focused although that wasn’t intentional. Anyway, just think of me as a bird (descended from dinosaurs), flapping about and finding grubs to deliver to your faces. Except the grubs are weblinks and birds are rubbish at the internet.

This is not the Sunday Papers.

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The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on February 22nd, 2015.

Sundays are for rolling around on the floors of your new home in search of a stronger mobile data connection, while waiting for Monday to bring a BT engineer and a proper internet connection. Good thing Friday’s are for trips to coffee shops and advanced assemblages of fine internet writings about videogames.

  • I’m aware I link the Guardian here a lot, but they’ve been doing good stuff of late. This week’s piece on the current state of industry crunch – examining whether anything has really changed since 2004’s EA Spouse – is essential reading. So read it.
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S.EXE: Full Throttle

By Cara Ellison on February 20th, 2015.

This week I’ve been trying to think about a relationship between a man and a woman in a game where they become close, but don’t actually have romantic involvement or a silly damsel in distress situation. There’s a strange set up that is echoed throughout our culture that [heterosexual] men and women can’t be friends, just like in Billy Crystal’s famous speech in When Harry Met Sally. ‘You realise of course that we can never be friends. …Men and women can’t be friends, because the sex part always gets in the way.’ ‘I have a number of men friends…’ ‘They all wanna have sex with you. No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.’

Well BILLY CRYSTAL. Why don’t we start up Full Throttle and prove you wrong you silly Monsters Inc-voicing maniac.

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Why People Are Making The AI Fight Itself In Civilization

By Richard Moss on February 20th, 2015.

A strange thing happened in the Civilization community r/civ on January 10, 2015. Inspired by similar, smaller-scale offerings by a Twitch.tv livestream and fellow redditor DarkLava (from whom he explicitly sought permission), user Jasper K., aka thenyanmaster, shared the first part of an experiment he was conducting wherein he put 42 computer-controlled civilisations in their real-life locations on a giant model of the Earth and left them to duke it out in a battle to the death, Highlander style (except instead of heads they need capital cities).

Since then, the practice has exploded in popularity. Reddit’s Civilization community has AI-only fever, but what exactly is so compelling about watching the computer play a very slow-paced turn-based strategy game with itself?

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In Celebration Of Early Access Games

By Alec Meer on February 20th, 2015.

Nearly done!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Early Access (and the same concept under various different names) has only improved my gaming life.
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The Flare Path: Muskets, Moscow, And M4s

By Tim Stone on February 20th, 2015.

Tim’s pre-FP checks

  • Is it Friday morning?
  • Is coffee pot within reach?
  • Are biros arranged according to ink content?
  • Are members of Perry Miniatures SAS squad a) upright and b) equidistant from each other?
  • Do all visible D6s display odd numbers?
  • Has photo of Neville Duke been saluted?

Yes?

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Why You Need A Monitor With Adaptive Sync

By Jeremy Laird on February 19th, 2015.

We’ve done IPS panel tech. We’ve done high refresh. So let’s wrap up the holy trinity of gaming-relevant monitor technologies of late. It’s time to talk frame syncing or adaptive sync. Probably better known via brand names like Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync, frame syncing technology is all about getting your games running smoother and without any nasty screen tearing. But here’s the twist. It does that without requiring that your games run faster or that you buy a $/£1,000 mega-GPU. And it really is rather lovely
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