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PC Games (Games)

eSports and Livestreaming Buoy PC Gaming ( 74

An anonymous reader writes: PC gaming seems to have fended off the threat from consoles, and it's due in no small part to livestreaming services and eSports. The PC gaming hardware industry is undergoing a resurgence, contrary to the predictions of even five years ago. The community that has sprung up around livestreaming self-promotes far better than any individual gaming company could hope. It's gotten to the point where developers are starting to think about the "streamability" of their game as they're building it. "There are plenty of things to avoid when building a game for livestreaming as well—specifically, anything that slows down the action. ... A good streaming game can't waste too much time in confusing menus or with difficult setup, either." One of the big questions now is whether VR technology will fit into this growing niche. A spectator mode that uses VR could be as much of a killer app as a great VR game.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Gamers Are Fans of Games, Not Genres 119

_xeno_ writes: A recent article on Steam Spy talks about how a "target audience" for game genres doesn't exist — or, more specifically, how there is no such thing as an "FPS gamer" or an "MMO gamer" or a "MOBA gamer." The majority of players tend to be fans of specific games, rather than genres. For example, the wildly popular MMO World of Warcraft managed to reach over 10 million players at its peak. However, these players never became "MMO gamers" — they were simply World of Warcraft gamers. As World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers fall, there's been no corresponding uptick in subscribers of other, competing MMOs. In fact, pretty much ever MMO released since World of Warcraft has been forced to move to a "free-to-play" model simply to survive. The article explains how the majority of gamers concentrate on a very small number of games, rarely trying new games: they're fans of a specific game, not any game that plays like it.
PC Games (Games)

Sprked Tries To Solve Valve's Paid Mods Scandal 41

SlappingOysters writes: This article takes a closer look at the emerging crowdfunding platform Sprked, which aims to follow the Patreon support model, but exclusively for video game modders. The service is currently in its early stages, but by crafting a system of appreciation and support that acknowledges the loyalty of the modding community, Sprked has the potential to promote and foster the creativity that is so integral to modding, instead of hampering it with the murky baggage of a mandatory economy. Valve's attempt to let modders make some money for their efforts backfired within the community — there are four demons the paid mods plan must slay to actually work.
PC Games (Games)

Warner Bros. Halts Sales of AAA Batman PC Game Over Technical Problems 223

An anonymous reader writes: The Batman: Arkham series of video games has been quite popular over the past several years. But when the most recent iteration, Batman: Arkham Knight, was released a couple days ago, users who bought the PC version of the game found it suffered from crippling performance issues. Now, publisher Warner Bros. made an official statement in the community forums saying they were discontinuing sales of the PC version until quality issues can be sorted out. Gamers and journalists are using it as a rallying point to encourage people to stop preordering games, as it rewards studios for releasing broken content.

Google Announces YouTube Gaming 50

An anonymous reader writes: Today Google announced a major new rival to YouTube Gaming. In addition to providing structure for the gaming content YouTube already serves (like walkthroughs, reviews, "Let's Plays," speed runs, etc), it'll also be a livestreaming hub for those who like broadcasting their games or watching other people play. Each video game will have its own dedicated page, and users will be able to add games to their "collection" to see other users's videos relating to those games. YouTube Gaming will have its own dedicated app, as well as being a part of the YouTube website. Google is also touting a recommendation engine that will help gamers find more content to watch.
PC Games (Games)

Amazon Hiring Devs For Its First PC Game 46

An anonymous reader writes: Several outlets are reporting that Amazon is preparing to dip its toes in yet another market: PC video games. They're specifically hiring for this purpose now, though they seem to have had plans for some time: "In addition to acquiring Killer Instinct developer Double Helix last year, Amazon has also hired notable developers like Kim Swift, designer of Portal, as well as Clint Hocking, who previously worked on franchises like Far Cry and Splinter Cell. Meanwhile, according to a report from Kotaku, Amazon has spent a lot of cash licensing the CryEngine, the same one used to make high-end PC games like Crysis 3. Outside of development, Amazon also acquired game streaming service Twitch last August for $970 million, and made gaming a big focus for its Fire TV media box."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Fallout 4 Announced 229

An anonymous reader writes: After teasing gamers with a countdown timer yesterday, Bethesda has now announced Fallout 4 for PCs, the Xbox One, and the PS4. They've also released an official trailer (YouTube video). The game will be set in post-apocalyptic Boston, and the player character will apparently be accompanied on his adventures by a dog. The Guardian has a post cataloging the features they're hoping will be improved from previous games in the series: "The combat system in the last two Fallout games was not universally adored. It often felt you were shooting wildly and blindly, biding time before you could use the the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting (VAT) system, which allows players to focus in on specific parts of enemies with a percentage chance of hitting them. ... Well-written, hand-crafted quests are going to be vitally important. The Radiant Quest system used in Skyrim sounds brilliant on paper: infinite quests, randomly generated and a little different each time. But the reality was a lot of fetch quests in similar looking caves. Bethesda may be tempted to bring that system across to Fallout 4, but there's an argument for abandoning dynamic quests altogether and opting for a smaller range of authored challenges."

Valve Introduces Steam Refunds In Advance of Summer Sale 126

Deathspawner writes: Despite all of its competition, Valve's Steam service remains the most popular digital PC game store around. While Steam does do a lot of things right, it can sometimes stumble in the worst of ways. Look no further than April's Skyrim mod debacle as a good example. Well, just as Valve fixed up that issue, it's gone ahead and fixed another: it's making refunds dead simple. While refunds have been possible in the past, it's required gamers to jump through hoops to get them. Now, Valve has set certain criteria for granting a refund, no questions asked: if you've bought the game within the past two weeks and played it for two hours or less, your refund is guaranteed. The changes are being welcomed by most, but not all: some developers of smaller games that take less time to play through are worried that this will lead to abuse, and the system may enable more risk-free review-bombing as well.
PC Games (Games)

How Cities: Skylines Beat SimCity At Its Own Game 86

An anonymous reader writes: Maxis, the studio behind SimCity, was shuttered earlier this year. Fortunately, another studio has taken up its mantle. The small team at Colossal Order has already won acclaim for city-builder game Cities: Skylines (and sold millions), earning a great reputation with the modding community by avoiding all the mistakes the last SimCity release made, such as enforced online/multiplayer. A new behind the scenes feature looks at how the game came about — it was not a response to SimCity, surprisingly — as well as what's next from the studio.

"We are planning to start another game project sometime soon," says Colossal CEO Mariina Hallikainen. "We definitely want to focus on old-school simulator games and definitely PC. PC, Mac and Linux, those are our 'thing.' But I think we're maybe going to do something a little bit different."

Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted 227

An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has selected the baseline hardware requirements for running their Rift virtual reality headset. To no one's surprise, they're fairly steep: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM. It will also require at least two USB 3.0 ports and "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture."

Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock explains: "On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering." He also points out that PC graphics can afford a fluctuating frame rate — it doesn't matter too much if it bounces between 30-60fps. The Rift has no such luxury, however.

The last requirement is more onerous: WIndows 7 SP1 or newer. Binstock says their development for OS X and Linux has been "paused" so they can focus on delivering content for Windows. They have no timeline for going back to the less popular platforms.
Classic Games (Games)

GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform 104

New submitter Donaithnen writes: Like many geeks, I'm against the idea of DRM in general and have championed's DRM-free approach to selling games online. Yet like many geeks, I've also often succumbed to the temptation of Steam because of the convenience of tracking, installing, and playing my PC game purchases through the launcher (not to mention the compulsion of collecting achievements, and watching the total playtime for my favorite games (to my occasional dismay). Now, GOG has announced the open beta for GOG Galaxy, an entirely optional launcher to allow those who want (and only those who want) to have all the same features when playing GOG games.

Half-Life 2 Writer on VR Games: We're At Pong Level, Only Scratching the Surface 125

An anonymous reader writes: Valve's Chet Faliszek has been in the video game industry for a long time, and his writing has been instrumental for games like Half-life 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. Valve is now developing a virtual reality headset, and Faliszek was on hand at a VR-centric conference where he spoke about how the technology is coming along. He said, "None of us know what the hell we are doing. We're still just scratching the surface of VR. We still haven't found out what VR is, and that's fine. We've been making movies in pretty much the same way for 100 years, TV for 60 years and videogames for 40. VR has only really been [in development] for about a year, so we're at Pong level." One of the obstacles holding VR devices back right now is getting the hardware up to snuff. Faliszek says, "There's one thing you can't do and that's make people sick. It has to run at 90 frames per second. Any lower and people feel sick. Telling people they will be ok 'Once you get your VR legs' is a wholly wrong idea. If people need to get used to it then that's failure."
PC Games (Games)

Kerbal Space Program 1.0 Released After 4 Years of Development 99

hampton2600 writes: The beloved space simulator game Kerbal Space Program has just hit version 1.0 after four years in development. It has risen to prominence in public beta, but the full release brings a host of new features: "The flight model has had a complete overhaul, meaning the lift is now calculated correctly to all lift-generating parts, which includes lifting bodies. The drag simulation has also been completely revised, and uses automatically pre-calculated data based on the each part’s geometry, to be finally applied based on not just the orientation of parts in flight, but also taking other parts into consideration. ... A new heating simulation has been implemented together with the improved aerodynamics. Now, not only temperature but also energy flux is considered when making heat calculations, meaning radiative, conductive, and convective heating and cooling are all simulated and all parts have their individual thermal properties. Parts will emit a blackbody radiation glow if they get hot enough." To the mun!
PC Games (Games)

SimCity's Empire Has Fallen and Skylines Is Picking Up the Pieces 256

sarahnaomi writes: Colossal Order's SimCity-like game, Cities: Skylines, sold more than half a million copies in its first week. The first 250,000 of those were sold in the first 24 hours, making it the fastest-selling game its publisher, Paradox Interactive, has ever released. Only a week before Skylines was released, game publisher Electronic Arts announced that it was shutting down SimCity developer Maxis' studio in Emeryville, which it acquired in 1997.

"I feel so bad about Maxis closing down," Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen said. "The older SimCitys were really the inspiration for us to even consider making a city builder." At the same time, Hallikainen admits SimCity's mistakes were Colossal Order's opportunity. "If SimCity was a huge success, which is what we expected, I don't know if Skylines would have ever happened," she said, explaining that it would have been a harder pitch to sell to Paradox if the new SimCity dominated the market.
PC Games (Games)

Steam On Linux Now Has Over a Thousand Games Available 192

An anonymous reader writes: This week the Steam Linux client has crossed the threshold of having more than 1,000 native Linux games available while Steam in total has just under 5,000 games. This news comes while the reported Steam Linux market-share is just about 1.0%, but Valve continues brewing big plans for Linux gaming. Is 2015 the year of the Linux gaming system?

Steam Broadcasting Now Open To Everyone 93

jones_supa writes: The beta test phase of Steam Broadcasting feature has been completed. It is now available to everyone by updating the client to the newest version. The feature allows users to watch and stream games to and from users on your friends list. Right-clicking the name of a friend who is in-game offers the option to "Watch Game." This will send a request which needs to be accepted by the player so that the spectator can hop in. A chat is also included. Steam Broadcasting was first announced late last year as an alternative to third-party streaming services like Twitch, Ustream and Hitbox.
PC Games (Games)

Sid Meier's New Game Is About Starships 227

jones_supa writes: The next game from the mind of veteran strategy and simulation game designer Sid Meier has been revealed. 2K and Firaxis Games have announced Sid Meier's Starships, a turn-based interstellar strategy game scheduled to arrive in early 2015 for Windows, OS X, and iOS (iPad). In the game, you control a fleet of starships as you journey through the galaxy to complete missions, protect planets and their inhabitants, and build a planetary federation. As you trek through the stars, you will be challenged to expand your federation's influence and reach. You shall also amass futuristic technology and take part in combat using a deep roster of customizable ships. When designing Starships, Meier was intrigued by the idea of exploring the next chapter in the story of Civilization: Beyond Earth. "What happens after we colonize our new home and eventually build starships to take to the stars? What has become of our long-lost brothers and sisters from the planet Earth," Meier asks. "My goal was to create an experience that focuses on starship design and combat within a universe filled with interstellar adventure, diplomacy, and exploration."
PC Games (Games)

Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player 473

Robotron23 writes: The developers behind the sequel to legendary video game Elite have, to the anger and dismay of fans, dropped the offline single-player mode originally promised. The game is due for full release in under a month. With the title having raised about $1.5 million from Kickstarter, and millions more in subsequent campaigns that advertised the feature, gamers are livid. A complaints thread on the official Elite forums has swelled to 450+ pages in only three days, while refunds are being lodged in the thousands. It is down to the discretion of Frontier, the game's developer, whether to process refund requests of original backers.
PC Games (Games)

PCGamingWiki Looks Into Linux Gaming With 'Port Reports' 77

AberBeta writes: PCGamingWiki contributor Soeb has been looking into the recent larger budget game releases to appear on Linux, including XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Borderlands: The Pre–Sequel produced by Mac porting houses Feral and Aspyr. Soeb reports that while feature parity is high, performance could be a bit better. Performance differences aside, the games are finally arriving on Linux — now the userbase needs to expand to make a virtuous cycle.
PC Games (Games)

This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning 103

Jason Koebler writes: Peter Richie spent eight months planning and building a megacity in vanilla SimCity 4, and the end result is mind-boggling: 107.7 million people living in one massive, sprawling region (video). "Traffic is a nightmare, both above ground and under," Richie said. "The massive amount of subway lines and subway stations are still congested during all times of the day in all neighborhoods of each and every mega-city in the region. The roadways are clogged at all times, but people still persist in trying to use them."