Connect Four Meets Curling In Cuckoo Curling

SPORTS!

Connect Four is a solved game. If the first player drops their first disc in the middle column, their opponent can’t stop them winning (read this masters thesis to get technical). It’s still a spot of fun, but how can we reinvigorate Connect Four? How can we find it a vibrant competitive scene? Simple: round out the mental challenge with an element of physical skill by combining Connect Four with curling. For extra flair, add a disc-devouring tabletop alligator. That’s Cuckoo Curling [official site], a delightful free two-player etSport (electronic tabletop sport, yeah?).

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Early Death: Dark Souls III’s Launch Trailer

Dark Souls III [official site] is out now-ish! In Japan. Sorry. But hey, we can still benefit from the release of the Japanese launch trailer, which uses English for voiceovers and its other languages, of music and ultraviolence, are universal anyway. It’s pretty, and has me commencing my scripted descent into extended illness for the game’s western release on April 12th. Observe, but be wary of minor spoilers and revelations:

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Pool Nation Is The Perfect VR Litmus Test

I’ve deflected blaster shots using a lightsaber, standing in the shadow of the Millennium Falcon, fought off shambling horrors in the ruins of a city at night, and constructed fantastic contraptions, suspended on a grassy plain in a bright and breezy abstract world. No attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion yet, but VR has taken me to some wild and wonderful places.

And yet, the game that convinced me of the immersive qualities of the Vive’s roomscale and touch technology dropped me into a pub, in front of a pool table. Pool Nation, in replicating an experience that I’m familiar with, came closest to fooling my senses completely.

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There’s Poop In My Soup Is Actually A Game, And I Actually Played A Game Called There’s Poop In My Soup

I’ve always argued that there are far too few games about throwing poo at people. It seems an obvious choice for gaming, and yet so few major releases remember to include the feature. So, as is often the case, we have to resort to the world of indies to help us. And that’s why there is There’s Poop In My Soup [Steam page].

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Suh-Wing Batter! Out Of The Park Baseball 17 Released

“And it’s ‘One! Two! Three strikes; you’re out! at the old ball game!” They sing, and They are filthy rotten liars. Baseball has a great many more numbers than that, reams of statistics, waves of them, an ocean of numbers grinding down the shores of my brain. RBI, RC, RP, GPA, GS, HBP, SLG… but that’s fine, because numbers and statistics make a fine foundation for the complex high-rise of Out of the Park Baseball, the sim-heavy management series. Our Adam is an OotP fan but he’s still tied up in GDC tidying-up so hey, here’s me to tell you Out of the Park Baseball 17 [official site] is out.

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What It’s Like To Play Non-VR Games In Steam VR

We already knew that Valve was planning something called Steam Desktop Theater, in which non-VR games could be used within their Vive headset (and, indeed, any other headsets which end up supporting the SteamVR APIs), but I wasn’t expecting to see it until the first giant boxes full of matte-black hardware arrived at pre-orderers’ houses.

Turns out that Valve snuck out a beta update to Steam over the weekend, part of which was an early version of Desktop Theater. In like Flynn, me. The good news: it works. The bad news: I’m now more certain than ever that the hardware needs another generation or two before it’s truly ready for the world.

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Battleborn Open Beta Date Revealed Plus A Closer Look At Story Mode

Gearbox’s character-centric shooter Battleborn’s [official site] open beta will begin on PC on 13 April, including access to two of the game’s story episodes, the multiplayer modes “Incursion” and “Meltdown” and all the characters, loot, gear and progression systems.

I’ve written about Incursion before but let’s talk about story mode – here’s what it is, how it’s referencing episodic TV and some more about how it works:

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Have You Played… Portal 2

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Remember how recently Portal 2 [official site] came out? IT WAS FIVE YEARS AGO. Sorry about that. I have a suspicion those magic windows might be having unsuspected effects on time dilation.

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Fight The Future: Republique’s Final Episode Released

Episodic dystopian stealth game Republique [official site] has now wrapped up, as developers Camouflaj released the fifth and final episode yesterday. It’s been four years since Republique’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, two years since its debut on pocket telephones, and one since its arrival on PC. What will happen to Hope, the futureteen who’s grown up imprisoned in a futurescience facility? Mate, I- look, the whole point of this point is to tell you it’s out so you can see, I won’t just- what are you asking here. Come on.

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Hands On With Total War: Warhammer’s Vampire Counts

Bleached white bone is the new black, undead immortality is the new 30 and death is the life of the party. Playing as Total War: Warhammer’s undead faction, the Vampire Counts, injects some fresh mechanics into the long-running strategy series’ blood and provides plenty of evidence that this will be far more than a fantasy paintjob applied to well-worn rules and mechanics.

There are two main reasons for my newfound faith: the ability to resurrect the fallen and the existence of giant flying monstrosities that eat archers for breakfast. Welcome to Sylvania, the rotten heart of the Old World.

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Whoooooaaaahhhh! Planet Coaster Launches Paid Alpha

I probably would pay to visit an unfinished theme park, but mostly because I can’t imagine a better death than roaring through a loop de loop into a six-twist corkscrew then launching up a ramp to… nowhere, nothing, unfinished track, screaming through the air then landing in the crushing jaws of a still-skinless animatronic dinosaur. I’d be up for that. Let’s start smaller, shall we? You can now pay to create and visit virtual theme parks of your own in an unfinished version of Planet Coaster [official site], as Frontier Developments have started selling alpha access. It’s pricey, mind – more than twice as much as the game will cost when it’s done.

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Square Enix Collective Is Bringing 5 Games To Rezzed

The Square Enix Collective [official site] is an initiative whereby indie developers can submit game ideas for users to vote on and then the winners get Square Enix’s feedback and help with marketing the game and, if desired, launching it through a crowdfunding service. Now they’re bringing five of the project’s games to Rezzed next month, including three that were previously unannounced.

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Stardew Valley Patch Improves Your Marriage

Death is not the end, croaked Bob Dylan on 1988’s Down in the Groove. I’m not even sure that death is a possibility on the bright, friendly farms of Stardew Valley [official site] but there was an end-point of sorts. Marriage, rather than being the beginning of something wonderful, marked the end of independence, the full stop at the close of your spouse’s individuality.

No longer! A patch earlier this week improves the behaviour of spouses, allowing them to leave the house independently to go for a walk or visit town, and providing each with a set of unique dialogue. There are other tweaks as well, including a fix to “the farm rampage”. Boo! I don’t know what that is but it did really need to be fixed?

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Telltale’s “Pretty Innovative” Walking Dead S3 Due 2016

As first hinted back in 2014, there’s definitely going to be a Season 3 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead – because The Walking Dead in all its forms is a story specifically designed to never, ever end. Telltale promise that the endings of Season 2 will be respected, and claim what they’re doing is “not from the bag of tricks that that we’ve ever shown anybody before.”
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Cardboard Children: Filming Star Wars Rebellion

Hello youse.

In two days time, from publication of this piece, I’ll be filming a board game segment for a BBC TV show, and as ever the question is going to be – “how do we best cover board games in video form?” Further than that, the question is going to be – “how do we do it in a 4-minute segment?” Because while board game coverage on video is common on the internet these days (some might say too common), most of these videos are long and sprawling things. But in two days, I film a piece on the upcoming Star Wars: Rebellion, and it has to be good and short.

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Telltale Announce Extra Minecraft: Story Mode Episodes

Telltale’s episodic adventure Minecraft: Story Mode [official site] is due to wrap up this month an- oh no, no it isn’t. Telltale today announced that the fifth episode of their storytelling spin-off will launch next Tuesday, March 29th, but also announced that it won’t be the final episode. Another three parts are coming later this year, Telltale now say, “post-season episodes” sold as DLC beyond the original five-episode season pass.

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Layoffs At Scribblenauts Devs 5th Cell

Scribblenauts developers 5th Cell have laid off 45 employees but, contrary to initial reports, the company say they’re not closing down. 5th Cell had been working on a new mobile version of Scribblenauts, their series about solving free-form puzzles by drawing almost anything into existence, but its surprise cancellation left them overstaffed. The situation’s a bit unclear at this point, but they had also been working on a free-to-play PC action-RPG.

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Built-A-Bot Workshop: Fallout 4’s Automatron DLC Out

Automatron, the first DLC release for Fallout 4 [official site], came out today. It’ll let wasteland survivors create and customise their own murderbots, all wrapped up in a new quest line. You want a buddy who’ll leap at folks with dual stabby road drill arms or a big wheelybuddy bristling with guns? Get in, my son.

Plain old Fallout 4 is on sale to celebrate the launch too, with a 33% discount.

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System Shock Meets Open World Survival: P.A.M.E.L.A.

P.A.M.E.L.A. [official site] was one of the most exciting games I saw at GDC last week. I watched around twenty minutes of live play, showing off the construction of a safe haven as night fell on the beautifully rendered sci-fi city in which the game’s particular brand of survival horror takes place. It’s an open world game, but it isn’t quite like anything else in the genre. This is a claustrophobic open world and the game in question is an intelligent and bold exploration of the core concepts found in System Shock and Bioshock. Hell, if this were carrying the title System Shock 3, I’d be delighted.

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Steam Charts: Dinosaurs, Depths & Deception

Fans Of Things Not Staying Exactly The Same All The Time will be glad to hear that the latest weekly Steam top ten is quite a changed one from the previous week. A new number one, surprise re-entries and a loosening of Ubisoft’s chokehold on the charts.
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