Cities XL 2012 Will Have Mods, Buildings

By Jim Rossignol on July 14th, 2011 at 10:14 am.

Alpine huts of the near past.
It seems as if the failed city-building MMO has become a fairly regular offline city-building series. Cities XL 2012 will be arriving in October, and expands on the previous offering considerably. Focus explain: “Cities XL 2012 allows players to become real urban planners, balancing economic & energy developments of their cities while managing transportation, housing, social services and recreational activities. Content is key to the new game, as Cities XL 2012 offers a staggering number of unique structures with over 1,000 in total.”

The game also now, apparently, open to modding, with a bunch of mod tools included in the 2012 release. A wise move, I suspect.

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Daylight Robbery: Payday The Heist Screens

By John Walker on July 14th, 2011 at 10:08 am.

Just like Bruce Willis in Bandits.

Payday: The Heist, as Quintin pointed out, looks like it should be a stealth-based bank robbing game, but is in fact a full-on murder-em-up. It’s Left 4 Dead, except they’re not dead until you show up. Which is an angle on bank robbery you don’t often see. Take a look at some of those angles in the screenshot gallery below.

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Tech Supported: Hard Reset

By Jim Rossignol on July 14th, 2011 at 8:22 am.

Ooh, moody.
The chaps at PCG report that Polish developer Flying Wild Hog have announced their game: it’s a cyberpunk FPS called Hard Reset. The Flying Wild Hog team is made up from members of the team behind Bulletstorm (from People Can Fly), and also folks from CD Projekt and City Interactive. The game is apparently “hard dark sci-fi”, so that means plenty of references from the likes of Bladerunner to keep us interested. In fact the teaser-trailer (below) might as well be a Bladerunner game, for all the darkness and flying neon hoardings. The story is a bit more later Matrix films, however.

Flying Wild Hog explain: “The PC-exclusive title transports players to a haunting, dystopian future, with humanity on the verge of extinction, confined to its last standing city and under constant threat from the robotic hordes that aim to annihilate mankind. Hard Reset is scheduled for release in September 2011.”
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Computer Reads Manual, Plays Civ

By Jim Rossignol on July 13th, 2011 at 7:38 pm.

We can no longer hide our secrets from the machines by writing them in books.
MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab report that they have boosted the effectiveness of a game-playing AI by enabling it to read the manual: “When the researchers augmented a machine-learning system so that it could use a player’s manual to guide the development of a game-playing strategy, its rate of victory jumped from 46 percent to 79 percent.”

What’s most amazing about this is that despite the trial and error nature of this kind of machine learning, the ability to correlate text instructions with events in the game do seem to have a significant impact on the system’s capacity to learn how to play, as the article explains: “The researchers also tested a more-sophisticated machine-learning algorithm that eschewed textual input but used additional techniques to improve its performance. Even that algorithm won only 62 percent of its games.” So, you know, RTFM is sound advice, even if you are a machine.

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Saints Row 3 Loses Last Vestiges Of Sanity

By Alec Meer on July 13th, 2011 at 4:08 pm.

MY EYEEEEEEEEEEEES

I’ve got to admire Saint’s Row: The Third’s sheer determination to entirely depart the shores of normality, but at some point it’s just going to start frightening people. They’ll back away slowly, hands in the air, trying in too-calm voices with tell-tale quavers to say “Hey guy, hey. Hey. Why don’t we all just take a deep breath and think about this, huh? It’s alright. No-one’s going to hurt you. We’re all friends here, huh? Why don’t you just put that musket down and take the live scorpion off your head? It’s going to be okay. No wait Oh God…”

This trailer for the game’s retail DLC Professor Genki’s Hyper Ordinary Pre-Order Pack makes me think it’s not going to be okay. It makes me think it’s dangerous
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A Tale Of Tails: The Cat And The Coup

By Alec Meer on July 13th, 2011 at 3:40 pm.

Cropping and shrinking: not ideal for tiny cat graphics

I was going to treat this as a Wot I Think, but sometimes you meet a game that just isn’t at all suited to any kind of verdict like that. There’s plenty I could probably find to moan about if I put my critic’s hat on, but what a futile endeavour that would be.

The Cat And The Coup doesn’t exist to serve games’ usual purposes, although that’s not to say it’s entirely divorced from why we play them. You owe it to yourself to free up 20 minutes for this. And I don’t only say that because it stars a cat.
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Dawn Of War 3: “Custom Mega Armies”

By Jim Rossignol on July 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm.


THQ are hyping their big announcement for Dawn Of War 3 at GamesCom in August, and they’ve been chatting to EG about it, claiming that they want to allow players to create “custom mega armies”. Relic marketing manager James McDermott said:

“With the 40k universe, the tagline is: there is only war. We want to give you that greater sense of the war. The battle. The war that rages eternal, and make that feel like that’s really imposing and all around you, and you have your own personal, custom army in there. Your army and my army should feel very different. That’s where we would like to get to.”

Relic are apparently “trying to leverage even more so on the Games Workshop tabletop game”. Exciting! The full details should emerge around 18th of August.

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Hip To Be A Square: Critical Mass Demo

By John Walker on July 13th, 2011 at 2:04 pm.

A cube, yesterday.

Critical Mass, the three-dimensional match-4 game that Brendan so exhaustively discussed a couple of weeks back, now has a demo. That is all. Move on. Go.

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EA’s Latest Shutdowns Barely Touch PC

By John Walker on July 13th, 2011 at 1:30 pm.

Driving off into the sunset.

EA’s latest wave of games having their internets switched off only grazes the PC this time. Beyond the demo for Battlefield 2142, the only PC title in there is 2005′s Need For Speed: Most Wanted. The full list is below, with the PC games in bold. Thanks to Eurogamer, from whom I’m wantonly stolen the list.

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Knickers Twisted About Win 8 and Xbox 360

By Alec Meer on July 13th, 2011 at 1:00 pm.

Well, so many games are just as brown as they were 20 years ago

The story that won’t go away at the moment, other than the one about the people and politicians of Britain finally trying to overthrow the secret ruler of the world, is that Windows 8 might, just might, have some kind of support for Xbox 360 games. It’s a story that’s arrived from rumour and speculation, but apparently that’s enough for less salubrious places to claim it as fact. So, this is not another irresponsible post that headline-screams ‘Windows 8 will be able to play Xbox 360 games’ in the hoping of snaring hits but proceeds to offer absolutely zero proof. This is a post to say ‘don’t take that rumour seriously – yet.’
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Pirates and Nobles Invade the Sims Medieval

By Mark Wallace on July 13th, 2011 at 12:15 pm.


Could EA have completely lost touch with their playerbase? It’s a widely known fact that never in the history of the Sims franchise has a player been the slightest bit tempted to bother, annoy, harass, or torture a Sim — not to mention keeping the hapless buggers from showering or using the WC. So the new Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles expansion pack, which introduces an “interrogation chair” in which Sims can be tickled, abused by a chinchilla, or otherwise wheedled and cajoled, could represent one of the great missteps in the gaming giant’s history.

Or not. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wot I Think: Cthulhu Saves The World

By John Walker on July 13th, 2011 at 12:00 pm.

Modesty.

No matter what I write about Zeboyd‘s Cthulhu Saves The World, even if I were about to launch into a scathing attack on the RPG, it still wouldn’t be able to combat the price. This game costs $3/£2. Except, actually, for that price you get two games, the other being Breath of Death VII: The Beginning. And both are RPGs. Big, detailed RPGs. Price doesn’t affect quality, but when it’s less than the price of a bottle of water for two full length games, it’s a competitive factor. So, despite the fact it barely matters at that price, here’s Wot I Think of Cthulhu Saves The World.

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Mass Exodus: Bioware Senior Dev Joins LoL

By Alec Meer on July 13th, 2011 at 11:20 am.

That's her on the right

We don’t tend to do too much in the way of ‘person x changes job’ stories here, which is primarily because the knowledge that disgusting organic creatures are responsible for our beautiful, clean, matter-free digital worlds is a horrifying truth we can’t accept, but also because… well, people do change jobs. This one stood out to me, however, due to both source and destination. The lead gameplay designer on Mass Effect 2 and 3, Christina Norman, has left Bioware – but to go where? Oh, that’s right, it says it in the headline. Yeah, League of Legends dev Riot Games.

So, from a console-straddling mainstream RPG/action developer that’s bigger than it’s ever been to the young home of devoutly hardcore multiplayer PC games.
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