Offworld Trading Company Prototype Now Available For $80

By Graham Smith on July 22nd, 2014.

Offworld Trading Company, the “economic RTS” being developed by Civilization IV designer Soren Johnson and Mohawk Games, now has a playable prototype available. The catch: it costs $80, its under NDA, and there’s no publicly available screenshots, videos or comments to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The game’s FAQ explains that they “intend the $80 Founder’s Elite Edition to cater to people who want to get their feedback into the design process as early as possible, either out of love for the concept of Offworld Trading Company or respect for Soren Johnson and the rest of the Mohawk team’s previous work.”

Is this a good thing? I can’t decide, so you tell me.

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First Person, Cuter: Lovely Planet

By Adam Smith on July 22nd, 2014.

I spent almost a year of my life lugging a few Lonely Planets around in a backpack but I don’t think I’ve ever had a Lovely Planet to call my own. Gaming often introduces me to dead planets, toxic planets, desolate planets, living planets that eat other planets, and the occasional meat or bone planet, but lovely planets are rare. Quick Tequila’s first-person shooter lives up to its name though, with colours and cuteness aplenty. The aesthetic caught my eye but it’s the running, jumping and targeting that kept the eye from wandering.

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Canada Route Zero: Highway Of Tears Demo

By Adam Smith on July 22nd, 2014.

Digging through the RPS archives can be rather alarming. Highway of Tears looks like the kind of game our keen eyes may have spotted so I dutifully typed the first few letters into the ‘tag’ search – ‘h-i-g-h-way To The Reich’, the form completed itself and waited for my approval. No. Bad form. Bad RPS. I’ll deal with this situation right away. I wonder what other innocent words produce a single disturbing response?

Highway of Tears caught my eye because it has a strong set of influences, including Kentucky Route Zero, True Detective and ‘the mythology of the Haida aboriginals’. That already makes for a more attractive point and click prospect than ‘comedy anti-hero’ or ‘rubbish [insert job title]‘. A demo is available.

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H2O: Chemical Puzzler Sokobond Now On Steam

By Alice O'Connor on July 22nd, 2014.

Bond those chemicals!

Now, let’s be clear. When I say “Hey, Sokobond has been out since September but now it’s on Steam,” I don’t mean to imply that you should refuse to buy games not on Steam, and I don’t want to encourage people who do. But a game being on Steam always draws more attention, and launching on Steam can reintroduce it to a larger audience. A Sokoban-y puzzler shifting and bonding atoms to form chemical compounds is a quiet and unassuming sort of game, after all. But a good one.

Hey, Sokobond has been out since September but now it’s on Steam.

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Awkward Zombie: A Gaming Webcomic About Games

By Graham Smith on July 22nd, 2014.

The best type of joke.

There is an arc to popular videogame webcomics: they start off being about videogames and then they drift, as the creator and audience change and develop, to being more about the characters contained within the comic. It makes sense that as people become more invested in their own creative world, they’d shift slightly from solely making jokes about other people’s.

Praise be for Awkward Zombie, a videogame webcomic which has been open in my browser for three weeks. As I’ve sat here, clicking through its years and years of archives, reading its jokes about PC games (and Nintendo games) instead of working, a thought occurs. If I share this fun with other people, it becomes work. These hours wasted were research.

So there we go. You can click the link and start reading for yourself, or you can step below for some examples and some prattling about joke forms.

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Stikbold & The Beautiful: ’70s-Styled Dodgeball With Whales

By Graham Smith on July 22nd, 2014.

John and Alec in the early '90s!? What are you guys doing in this game!

Local multiplayer games seemed a frustrating shame until recently: I’d see a cool art style or neat idea and then discover that I could only play it if I had people around my house. I hate having people around my house, because that’s where I store the evidence. But then Nidhogg, Gang Beasts and Towerfall happened and I had a gang of folks whose houses I could visit, and so Stikbold, a 1-6 player local multiplayer dodgeball game with colour, humour, and whale-based bossfights seems like an extremely enticing prospect.

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Training Wheels: Train Simulator 2015 Introducing School

By Alice O'Connor on July 21st, 2014.

Trouble with the thermic syphons, I see.

I sometimes fancy visiting the countryside in the driver’s cab of a virtual train, especially now I’ve seen the new Japanese DLC route inspired by Spirited Away, but know I’ll never put the time into teaching myself to drive one from manuals and tutorial videos.

Almost as if they knew train simulators appear terrifyingly complex from the outside, Dovetail Games have announced they’ll tackle that with Train Simulator 2015. This year’s refresh will bring a train-driving academy teaching how to make choo-choos chug-chug, along with new base routes and trains–including a train from the future.

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Of Guards And Thieves Is Like Tom Clancy’s Monaco

By Graham Smith on July 21st, 2014.

I don't think this is the same camera angle as the video.

Sure, you could watch six rounds of Rainbow Six: Siege being played to get your daily fix of asymmetrical multiplayer, but that game isn’t out yet. Of Guards And Thieves meanwhile is a multiplayer stealth game which as seems as inspired by Clancy-ish infiltration mechanics as it is Monaco’s camera view and Team Fortress 2′s character classes and art design. It’s in Early Access on Steam as of a few days ago and there’s a trailer below.

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Devil’s In The Draw Distance: Into The Gloom

By Adam Smith on July 21st, 2014.

Gloom is a fantastic word, too often ignored in the gaming world because a certain FPS takes all the ‘oom’ attention. Loom deserves some of the ‘oom’ love, of course, and perhaps a little should be spared for Into The Gloom as well. It’s a first-person horror game with puzzles to solve and darkness to flee from, and it has the sort of old-fashioned grayscale (+red) graphics that will cause some observers to roll their eyes in exasperation. There’s a reason for the style though – and it’s not just the lack of a huge art team. The gloom uses a short draw distance and simplistic visuals to conceal…something.

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Liberty City Nights: A NFS Underground-y GTA 3 Mod

By Alice O'Connor on July 21st, 2014.

Neon Nights

Races have consistently been my least favourite activity and mission style in Grand Theft Auto games, but here I am downloading Grand Theft Auto III so I can play a mod dedicated to the blighters. Liberty City Nights’ creator amibitiously describes it as “the best racing mod GTA III ever saw,” which also implies “the least horrible racing GTA III ever saw,” but that’s not why I’m interested. See, I’m interested in mods which try to recreate or crib from games and series which are no longer made, and Liberty City Nights is after the neon night racing of EA’s Need for Speed Underground subseries.

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Unscripted Sieging: 6 Rounds of Rainbow Six Siege

By Alice O'Connor on July 21st, 2014.

He's upside-down.

We were quite excited about the defence-building, wall-exploding, hostage-rescuing, man-shooting action of Rainbow Six Siege during E3, but the demo Ubisoft showed was ever-scripted and poorly-acted silliness. We’ve been waiting to see actual gameplay since, and last week Ubisoft showed it off with six supposedly live rounds during a livestream. You may be surprised to learn that unscripted Siege contains fewer dramatic twists and less emoting than the demo. Come watch the games yourself and see what you make of it now.

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What Was Prospero, The Fantasy Game Valve Never Made?

By Graham Smith on July 21st, 2014.

The road not traveled is uninteresting to me when the road we are travelling is winding, densely populated and has no speed limit. (The road I’m talking about is videogames.) That didn’t stop me being intrigued to find out more about Prospero via the latest episode of Valve Time Database. Prospero was one of two game’s Valve were working on when the company was founded in 1996, and Valve Time Database is a series of short YouTube videos detailing elements of Valve’s universe of games.

Episode 3 contains previously unreleased screenshots of the never released game, along with quotes from Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw. I think the information is new, but either way it’s entertaining and embedded below.

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Biblical Action: Super Noah’s Ark 3D

By Alice O'Connor on July 21st, 2014.

He's HELPING the animals.

I’m fascinated by attempts to remove violence from first-person shooters. One Wolfenstein 3D mod replaces enemies with giant coloured marbles and turns hanging skeletons to hanging pot plants, yet leaves in all the Nazi symbolism “in order to keep the original ‘spirit’ of the game.” That is, I think, a serious attempt at de-violenceing. More jokey is Happy Doom, where “you are a little boy who has a basket of flowers” and give them to “cloud people” to make them happy and sleep.

Super 3D Noah’s Ark, a game I never knew existed, was wholly serious. It’s essentially Wolfenstein 3D, and built on the Wolf3D engine, but with Noah running around the Ark, ‘feeding escaped animals’ using high-powered catapults. And now it’s been re-released.

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