Posts Tagged ‘beta’

Premature Evaluation: The Magic Circle

By Marsh Davies on May 18th, 2015.

One of the things I like most about The Magic Circle is its name. It captures the illusory nature of these conjured worlds, their potential for wonder and the artistry that informs them. Celebrated sentient beard and author Alan Moore has, in his mischievous way, declared himself a magician and all art a kind of magic. Defining art as the act of creating illusions to work an effect on the mind of the audience, he claims this is as close to a shamanistic understanding of magic as we have in this century.

Each week Marsh Davies plays unfinished and broken games on Early Access and usually tries to come up with an introductory sentence which says exactly this while using imagery appropriate to the idiom of the given week’s game. But the idiom of this week’s game is being an unfinished and broken game! So, job done. It’s The Magic Circle [Steam page], a game set within a game, in which the player edits the properties of the world around him while exploring the strata of the game’s many abandoned developmental stages, unravelling the story of its creators in the process.

I have tamed Jim Rossignol’s bumhole. I’ve also made Jim Rossignol’s bumhole fireproof, which is just as well, since Jim Rossignol’s bumhole spews gouts of flame when angered. Jim Rossignol’s bumhole has a lightning rod jammed in it, too, which deactivates forcefields. With my latest effort, Jim Rossignol’s bumhole has sprouted a little propeller, allowing Jim Rossignol’s bumhole to fly about. John Walker’s angry red Weeto has many of the same properties, and it should surprise no one that Alec Meer’s huge husky third leg is shaped like a ginormous mushroom.

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Premature Evaluation: Exanima

By Marsh Davies on May 4th, 2015.

Exanima has an unusual relationship to the body. Its physical simulation of every limb creates a greater sense of your avatar as a real tangible object. And yet, at the same time, the fact that you can’t control it with the same instancy as you can your own body actually distances you from the avatar, perhaps to a greater degree than a less nuanced control-scheme might. I feel like comprehensive physics simulation could go through the same sticky patch as motion control did on consoles, where it proved a less efficient conduit between player intent and avatar expression than just pressing a button.

Each week Marsh Davies lurches drunkenly through the dank cloisters of Early Access and brings back any stories he can find and/or spasms like a misfiring physics object caught in a doorway. This week he wobbles and flails in the low-fantasy RPG Exanima, a smaller standalone “prelude” to the Kickstarted open world game Sui Generis.

Exanima isn’t like other RPGs, the Steam store page tells you with some insistence. It’s true for several reasons, but the most obvious is its fully physics-modelled combat which renders close quarters engagements as tense, tactical affairs conducted between two or more appallingly drunk people. Every collision has a physical effect, as subtle or extreme as the speed with which it occurs, and so combat is about caution and timing, dodging incoming swings and finding the time to wind up, directing your weapon in a sweep to connect with your opponent’s most vital areas with the most momentum possible. At least, it’s about these things inasmuch as these things are even possible while piloting someone with a near-lethal blood-alcohol level.

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Premature Evaluation: Mordheim: City of the Damned

By Marsh Davies on March 23rd, 2015.

I’ve always enjoyed the mash of historical periods and technologies that occurs in Warhammer. It starts with a base layer of sub-Tolkien medievalism and dark age myth, but then, as it attempts to differentiate the factions, teeters into the Enlightenment and, at its most fanciful, veers into steampunk Victoriana. The human factions are a case in point. Bretons are drawn as though from the age of chivalry, as depicted in late medieval French romance: all jousting knights and noblesse. The Empire, meanwhile, is styled very much after 16th century Germany, with elaborate cannon and plentiful muskets, and a dash of 17th century dress-sense in their flamboyant feathered caps.

Each week Marsh Davies bleeds for you in the cold, accursed alleys of Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or a repulsive corruption born of arcane mutagenic powers. This week he and his band of rat-men scuttle through the streets of Mordheim: City of the Damned – a turned-based tactics game set in the world of Warhammer. Fellow Skaven-fancier Adam had a slightly cool impression of it last November, but have the subsequent five months made a whisker of a difference?

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Protoss The Button: Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void Beta

By Alec Meer on March 18th, 2015.

The poor old Adept will have to retire his name if I ever control him

Good news if you’ve been waiting to see how Big Stubbly Man and Chitin Stilettos Woman managed to defeat timeless evil once and for all until the next sequel: the third and final chunk of StarCraft II is very much on its way. In fact, beta invites for the Protoss-focused Legacy of the Void are due to go out before the end of the month. “Much has changed” since the last time Blizzard let us have a peek at their void.
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Premature Evaluation: StarCrawlers

By Marsh Davies on March 16th, 2015.

I’m writing these alt-texts on what is often now called Mother’s Day here in the UK, but can be helpfully distinguished from the American day of the same name by its more accurate title, Mothering Sunday. The origins of each are different, though intertwined, and certainly the popularity of both celebrations share a common factor: the pain many mothers felt at losing their sons to war - which is definitely entirely relevant to SpaceCrawlers and not at all a wild digression born of my waning attention span.

Each week Marsh Davies plunders the ravaged hulk of Early Access and smuggles out any stories he can find and/or succumbs to the terrors of the interdimensional void. This week he murders robotic wait staff and asset-strips sci-fi dungeons in space salvage RPG StarCrawlers. It goes on sale tomorrow.

Is it any wonder that some members of the gaming community nurse a persecution complex when, in the games themselves, so few people, animals, robots, or multifanged amorphous spacethings are ever pleased to see us? In StarCrawlers, even the cleaning droids and busboys want to have a pop, lobbing chinaware and squirting me with detergent. Admittedly, I am usually there to plunder their derelict spacestation, or sabotage their data centres, or “deliver a severance package” to a megacorp employee who has, in a literal and shortly rectified sense, outlived his usefulness. But still, it is a bit of a hit to the self-esteem that you can’t walk from one room to another without some haywire robot or grotesque alien hatchling flinging itself at you. “Where’s the beef?”, I mutter to the hatchlings, as I ruefully sunder them with psychic horror channelled from the abyssal nightmare of the void.

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Hot Cakes: Dirty Bomb Weekend Beta Key Giveaway

By Adam Smith on March 6th, 2015.

Edit: That was quick. All keys have been claimed, I’m afraid. Enjoy if you managed to grab one!

Fancy an early jaunt in an upcoming game? This weekend, the folks at Splash Damage are performing a stress test of their multiplayer FPS game, Dirty Bomb [official site] and we have a pile of keys to hand out to our readers. All you need to do to snag one is pop your email in the box below. The giveaway is first-come, first-served and the key is distributed via godankey.com. They won’t use your email address for anything other than dispensing the key.

The stress test has already started and runs through to Monday. Go go go!

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Premature Evaluation: Distance

By Marsh Davies on January 12th, 2015.

I’d like to see a series of Top Gear in which “the lads” are injected into an imploding cyber-horror unreality. Come on, Clarkson, say something off-colour about this giant buzz-saw you’re about to plough into.

Each week Marsh Davies revs his engines and tears off into the nightmarish neon digiscape of Early Access and returns with any stories he can find and/or skid marks. This week he speeds into the distance in, er, Distance – a hallucinatory “Survival Racing” game.

“Survival Racing” say the developers. It’s an ominous appellation that suggests players might have to rumble along the verges on wooden wheels, shunting rubber trees until they’ve shaken enough ingredients loose to build some tyres. Fear not – Distance isn’t that sort of survival game. It is, in fact, a time-attack obstacle course apparently set inside the cheese-dream of a Tron lightcycle. You play as some sort of car AI in some sort of collapsing simulation – the “story” of the story mode is just as deep as it needs to be – and you must speed through these pulsating landscapes of monolithic black shards and streaking neon, all while avoiding inexplicable laser hazards and performing rad stunts. Naturally, there is a throbbing electro soundtrack, too.

It’s already terrifically entertaining. Merely weaving through the stacks and overpasses of this world to the pulse of the music offers a baseline level of aesthetic scintillation, but the game builds and builds upon its core driving model until you are flipping between perpendicular roadways, flying, boosting, jumping with split-second precision as the rhythm pounds and the environment itself contorts and explodes. Cool.

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Premature Evaluation: Frontiers

By Marsh Davies on December 22nd, 2014.

Pining for the big outdoors?

Each week Marsh Davies voyages into the uncharted territories of Early Access and comes back with any stories he finds and/or hypothermia. This week he packs his pickaxe and pith helmet, and sets out for Frontiers, an ambitious firstperson survival-RPG.

How much can I bench? I can bench an actual bench. I’m benching it right now, and maybe forever, not only because I can, but because I must: because I cannot put down this bench. I only wanted to see if I could balance it on the head of an NPC who was rudely ignoring me. I couldn’t. Nor could I put it anywhere ever again. This is how I live now – with a bench hovering just in front of me, occasionally spasming as I pass through doorways that are substantially smaller than it, clipping into the faces of people as I try to buy sausages from them. I really regret picking up this bench.

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Desert Island Risks: Wayward

By Adam Smith on September 1st, 2014.

Survival and crafting are strongly linked concepts in gaming. Here in the real world, I survive by writing about toys (and the occasional art-toy), an onerous duty that is deemed worthy of financial reward. I use the dosh to buy chips and fizzy pop, and somehow that seems to be enough to keep my tiny engine running. Truth is, I’ve never crafted anything in my life – I had to phone a friend to help me out last time I bought a piece of furniture from Ikea. If I found myself on a desert island, like the player character in turn-based survival sim Wayward, I’d walk around looking for a Wifi hotspot until the landcrabs ate me. The game is free, in beta and a damn fine example of the type.

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Rockman, Paperman, Shotgunman: Mighty No 9 Beta

By Adam Smith on September 1st, 2014.

Mighty No. 9 is Mega Man and Mega Man is Rockman. I don’t know if it’s better to be mighty or to be mega, but I do know that when it comes to platformers, it’s generally better to be Shotgunman than Rockman. It’s hard to jump if you’re a geological anomaly and there tend to be plenty of things to kill between the platforms and the spikes. Kickstarter success Mighty No. 9 is the creation of Comcept, with input from Mega Man co-designer Keiji Inafune. We’ve seen plenty of progress shots and videos since the crowd funded the game, and there should be a great deal of footage to come now that the backer beta has been released to high tier ($80+) supporters. An official video shows some of the new content.

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Hands-On: Pillars Of Eternity

By Adam Smith on August 20th, 2014.

After publishing my thorough conversation with Pillars of Eternity lead designer Josh Sawyer, I realised that I hadn’t actually expressed an opinion about the game. I was curious and hopeful but hadn’t had a chance to play it, and see how well all of the elements came together. The backer beta, which launched yesterday, is a huge relief. Pillars is shaping up to be worthy of its inspirations, and intelligent and bold enough not to be bound to them.

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Be There, Be Square: BattleBlock Theater

By Adam Smith on March 5th, 2014.

BattleBlock TheatER is The Behemoth’s well-received follow-up to the side-scrolling beat ‘em up Castle Crashers, which contained gaming’s most recognisable defecating deer. I don’t know if BattleBlock continues the proud tradition of cacking Cervidae but the trailer announcing the Steam version does have one sadly unexpurgated scene of extreme expurgation. Whether you’re keen to see a cartoon trouser-mess or not, you should watch the trailer because it’s a brilliant little skit about console-to-PC ports, and it contains more Oculus Rifts than any of those underground indie game conventions that you never seem to get invited to.

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Desktop Despots: Tropico 5 Beta Begins Next Month

By John Walker on February 27th, 2014.

New Tropico games aren’t appearing as quickly as my brain thinks. This is simply that I now perceive time at such a pace that the world is a dizzying blur around me. If you’d held a knifegun to my headthroat and demanded a release date for Tropico 4, I’d have tried to second-guess myself and suggested late 2012. It was in fact August 2011, and I am an old, confused man, unsure why the Christmasses won’t stop happening. Anyway, my confused rambling aside, Tropico 5 is appearing a very appropriate three years after the last time El Presidente reared his undemocratic city building head, and is now accepting applications for its March beta.

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