Posts Tagged ‘beta’

Impressions: Star Wars Battlefront Beta

I want to learn the ways of the multiplayer first-person shooter and become a headshot Jedi like I wasn’t a late-30s father. So I’ve been dabbling in Star Wars: Battlefront [official site]’s three-map beta, keen to see if’s really as spectacular as the marketing Death Star has implied.

Yeah, OK, that’s Star Wars.

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Street Fighter V Enters Beta October 24

Capcom have announced the first Street Fighter V [official site] beta test on PC, to run October 24-25. And if you’re sick of that PS4-owning mate who’s been bragging on about getting console access to the beta two days prior, you’ll be able to kick his virtual arse as the beta features cross-platform play.

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Star Wars Battlefront Open Beta Dates Announced

Sat there waiting patiently, you are. Wait no more, you shan’t. It’s coming it, na, sod it, I can’t keep this up. Mark October 8 to October 12 in your diary as Star Wars Battlefront [official site] is heading for beta.

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Premature Evaluation: Shoppe Keep

It’s a shame that Shoppe Keep reduces its encapsulation of fantasy commerce to frenetic makework - there’s loads and loads of interesting and eminently gamify-able elements to running a store. I’d like to see a game which used AI to explain/exploit customer psychology. In fairness to Shoppe Keep, there may be some AI-defined preference to what customers buy, but it is certainly hard to perceive and so impossible to manipulate in a meaningful way. There’s much more that could be done, for example, in charting the ways in which IKEA’s layout entraps and corrals its hapless consumer units. As anyone who has ever been swallowed by an IKEA hellmouth knows, it's a consumer experience so nightmarish as to constitute Sweden’s most significant act of international aggression since its war with Norway in 1814. It’s clearly also hugely successful in getting people to buy stuff they may or may not want - an effect that has been studied by academics at UCL.

Each week Marsh Davies peruses the scanty offerings of Early Access, stuffs anything halfway valuable down his trousers and legs it for the exit. This week, however, the tables have turned (or, at least, their percentage durability has decreased) as he plays Shoppe Keep [Steam page], a game about building up a retail enterprise in a medieval fantasy land.

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Premature Evaluation: Layers of Fear

Though you play an artist in Layers of Fear, most of the art hanging on your walls consists of a repeating number of famous paintings - perhaps the paintings that might pop up if you used the search terms “weirdest renaissance art”. But, eyerolls at the emo curation aside, some of the pieces are really very interesting indeed. Take Rembrandt’s Abduction of Ganymede, for instance (which, okay, in art terms is technically Baroque, but it comes at the very end of the larger social Renaissance that spanned the 14th and 17th centuries). It’s a peculiar piece about the politically charged myth in which Zeus falls in love with Ganymede, a dashing young shepherd and most beautiful of all mortals. As is Zeus’s rapey wont, he tansforms himself into an eagle, and carries Ganymede off to Olympus, where he makes him his cup-bearer. Other services may be inferred - indeed, it was commonly used as an emblem for ancient Greek pederasty and its social acceptance. The likes of Xenophon and Socrates may have asserted that Zeus loved Ganymede for his mind, but homoeroticism has nonetheless clung to the myth. And, for much of the Renaissance, this not-entirely-consenting relationship was presented with little apparent criticism: paintings presented Ganymede as unresisting, indeed, he is ascending to godliness. Zeus does make him immortal after all, so what’s to complain about?

Each week Marsh Davies lets fly at the blank canvas of Early Access and either returns with a masterpiece or ends up rocking back and forth in a corner eating Unity Asset Store crayons. This week he’s played Layers of Fear, a linear boo-scare walk-em-up set in the reassembling spooOOooky house of a maaAAaad painter.

I’m not sure a household needs more than one reproduction of The Abduction of Ganymede. It’s a fine work, sure, but I don’t want to be staring at a pissing toddler’s dangling bum while I’m having dinner, let alone every time I turn a corner in my home. But then, I’m not really sure of a lot of the other decorative choices that my character appears to have made here – the cupboard of black phlegm, the infinite library, the hell mirror, the Erik Satie levitation cellar, the room of bad chairs. Not even Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would go so far as to daub “ABANDON HOPE WHILE YOU STILL CAN” above a doorway. It doesn’t even make sense, Laurence!

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Hothtober: Star Wars Battlefront Beta Out Next Month

I’ve felt so little about Star Wars for so long now, and had so much distance from a fictional universe I threw myself into in my late teens that it no longer feels quite as over-exposed and cynical as it once did. This means I’m starting to find it vaguely appealing again. Nostalgia inexorably returns, God help me. Whether that will be aided or undermined by the looming marketingageddon of The Force Awakens I don’t know, but I do look at images of DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront [official site] and think ‘yes, those are science fictional battles I want to be a part of.’ It’s the industrial look of the ships and structures that does it, a sweet spot between functional and stylised that the prequel movies totally bungled.

I don’t care about the characters, though. Mostly I just want to drive an AT-AT. Oh God now I’ve opened an eBay tab and typed ‘AT-AT’ into it. This is bad. If I can just hang on until October, when the Battlefront Beta will be released, maybe I’ll be OK.

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Premature Evaluation: Universe Sandbox 2

Universe Sandbox 2 has some perfectly reasonable restrictions on what it is willing to simulate, but isn’t always clear about why it’s stopping you from doing something. I wanted to recreate the 0.1 fm wide black hole from Larry Niven’s 1973 story The Hole Man, for instance - and found the scale doesn’t descend that low. It’s not especially surprising that the game doesn’t model subatomic sizes, but getting the diameter below a couple of kilometres is also impossible and attempting to do so has this strange effect of deleting what you just typed and replacing it with the lowest number that the program will accept, and yet nonetheless changing a bunch of other stats that would be affected by a further reduction in diameter.

Each week Marsh Davies orbits the supermassive blackhole that is Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find or gets shredded to subatomic spaghetti as he tumbles towards a point of infinite mass. This week he has become death, destroyer of worlds, and really quite a lot of moons as well, in Universe Sandbox 2. Otherwise known as Universe Sandbox², if you’re the kind of terrible prick who insists on using Character Map to enforce your brand. Anyway, the game’s great.

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Premature Evaluation: Duskers

Duskers’ premise has the player investigating the disappearance of human life from the known universe. Hulks float through the emptiness of space with only the garbled fragments of old log entries as evidence for the existence of their crew. The game puts forward a few different possibilities for you to look into and eliminate, and these suggest an action that humankind takes which inadvertently precipitates its destruction: a nanotechnological experiment gone wrong, creating a grey goo that atomically disassembles human matter, or simply the use of a super weapon so devastating that the resultant chaos causes the rapid decline and extinction of the entire species. But, assuming that humanity survives to become a space-faring people at all, perhaps the larger existential threat is inaction.

Each week Marsh Davies pulls apart the fritzing hulks he discovers drifting through the lifeless void of Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or accidentally flushes himself out of an airlock. This week he’s been tentatively probing Duskers, a space-set roguelike in which you remotely operate a crew of drones as they strip derelicts of resources and attempt to uncover the reason for the dramatic depopulation of the galaxy.

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Superhot Is The FPS Made Cool Again

Superhot [official site] is the first-person shooter deconstructed. You don’t move and shoot, jump and dodge. You move then shoot, jump then dodge. The reason for your turn-based decision making is that time only moves when you do. I’ve been playing the beta for the past week, and it’s superb.

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Premature Evaluation: Crest

Crest seeks to explore the way religions evolve, say the devs - although “devolve” might be more accurate here, your various edicts warping with the strange whims of your followers. There is certainly precedent for that, in the long and bloody history of religious misinterpretation. One of the most famous instances of such semiotic slippage in Christianity occurs when St Jerome - the patron saint of translators, no less - attempts to produce a new Latin translation of the bible from the original Hebrew, rather than from the Greek which had been the basis for the Latin translation hitherto. And in so doing, he unwittingly creates a pervading racist slur that plagues an entire people to this day.

Each week Marsh Davies brings a rain of fire upon the Sodom ‘n’ Gomorrah that is Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or succumbs to the sordid pleasures therein. This week he fixes a puritanical eye upon the hapless hedonists of Crest, a god game in which your only interaction is to set a list of commandments and hope the humans heed your Word.

The god of Godus was less Jupiter than janitor, a god whose entire divine being was dedicated not to righteousness but to relentless menial labour. Crest’s god, by contrast, has a bit more responsibility, being required to describe an entire moral framework with a few judicious instructions. Though, that’s not to say your chosen people won’t find your religious writs open to some degree of interpretation. 180 degrees, in fact. Tell them to seek food and look after the elderly and, a few generations later, the tribe is waging a xenocide on gazelles and dancing until they drop dead.

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