Hello everybody and welcome back to This Week In Gaming, the first of the new year. I genuinely hope you all had a great holiday season; worked little, drank much and ate excessively. ‘Tis the season after all. As we settle in for our first weekend upon re-entry into the real world of moderation and deadlines, let me help us through it by providing you with news of Steamboxes, a certain basketball player’s triumphant return to video games, Carmack’s virtual reality shenanigans, grumpy Germans, bad news for DayZ enthusiasts and more videos and NAG highlights than you can eat in one sitting. Happy 2014; hit the jump.
We’ve had a lot of news on the Steambox in the last couple of months, with actual prototypes on show (some of them even at competitive price points), a look under the hood of the OS and ambitious plans from Valve for their controller.
Of course the difficulty with the whole idea is getting keyboard-and-mouse games to work with an actual controller, and this week at Polygon Valve said they even have their sights set on DotA 2.
Right now it’s possible to play the game in “legacy mode”, which essentially just maps controller buttons to keyboard keys – but you’re going to get crushed like that.
As Valve engineer Jeff Bellinghausen acknowledges, “It’s a real challenge, but would also be really exciting.
“You’re not going to take [DotA pro Danylo Ishutina] and have him play at his level with the controller, but that’s not really the goal. That’s true of the controller in general.
“Certainly something like DotA has a sophistication to it that is going to be challenging. We’re thinking we’ll get 90 percent of the way there.”
I can’t say I’m convinced; for a game like DotA 2 or an RTS to actually be viable on a controller? I won’t believe it till I can see it myself.
Lucky for us sceptical folk, Valve released a new promotional video this week which shows off a bit of SteamOS as well as some Portal play using that funky looking controller.
There’s also a bunch of promo stuff on games that you’ll be able to play on the Steam Machines. Check it out:
As for the machines themselves, this week Valve unveiled a whopping 14 machines, ranging from $499 to $6,000, depending on hardware and manufacturer.
At the bottom end is the CyberPowerPC, with the following specs:
CPU: AMD/Intel Core i5 CPU
Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 270 / NVIDIA GTX 760
Then we have more expensive options, such as this $1,500 box from Webhallen:
CPU: Intel Core i7 4771
Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 780
Storage: 1TB SSHD
Many of the manufacturers are offering highly customisable versions, with price points still to be decided (but indeed, going as high as $6,000).
There’s only one bit of important news this week, and that is Shaq Fu 2. Yes, Shaquille O’Neal said in an interview that Shaq Fu 2 is actually happening, and soon.
When an interviewer asked the basketball star when the oft-maligned 1994 fighting title was getting a sequel, O’Neal replied, “Actually, yes, it’s coming soon. And the graphics is crazy”.
The interviewer assumed this was a joke, but O’Neal went on to say that he’s super duper cereal about the whole thing.
I hope it’s awesome. I also hope it’s real, that Shaq is a kidder.
The other big news this week may not have been news at all. Much excitement was rolling around the internet when Skyrim was listed on the Bethesda website as a next-gen title.
Assumed to be the case of an accidental leak, it coincided with news that Bethesda would be announcing “something big” tomorrow (Sunday).
Things got decidedly less exciting when Bethesda apologised, dismissing it as a coding error, and also let everyone know that the “big announcement” is just a fan hoax.
Speaking of which, the Germans (known for their wit and likeable laid-back attitude) have uncharacteristically banned an advert which is seen as pushing in-app purchases to children.
The basis of this decision was mostly the fact that popular youth slang was used. I have a rebuttal for this – so frikken what?
Don’t almost all ads for toys market themselves at kids? When last did you see an 8 year old child with his own credit card to buy extra lives on Candy Crush?
If kids are blowing all their parents money on in-app purchases, it’s because some parents out there are dumb enough to let it happen.
Don’t get me wrong – it sounds exactly like something I would let happen. But I’d be blaming my own stupidity afterwards, not a television advert or a game developer. Marketing to children isn’t new, and once again the double standards when it comes to video games are being highlighted.
So John Carmack, legendary founder of id games, has left his studio to work fulltime on the Oculus Rift VR.
I said a while back that it may be a good thing, as after seeing the last couple of Carmack’s games, he may have lost his touch somewhat. Quit while you’re ahead, and keep the legacy intact.
Unfortunately, despite being the “chief technology officer”, Carmack is reportedly managing an internal software development team to create first party games for the Oculus.
I’m probably being a little harsh, but I don’t think RAGE is going to be any better in virtual reality. At least we can hope for some sweet demos to show off the tech.
Finally, the DayZ standalone title, which went into an extremely alpha phase last month, will only be getting it’s beta at the end of this year – at the earliest. This was confirmed by developer Bohemia Interactive’s CEO Marek Spaniel on the official blog.
End of 2014? I have to wonder if I’m the only one who’s totally lost interest; this is reaching Duke Nukem Forever levels of delay. Let’s just hope it’s a more substantial final product.
Psychological horror FPS is the flavour of the year, and Zombie Studios’ Daylight looks to be a decent one. Due for a first quarter release on PC and PS4, the game looks like it’s going to be creepy as hell – if this new trailer is anything to go by.
Another title arriving any day now is the much anticipated Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which will be coming to us on Valentine’s day. Nothing says romance like being glued to a computer screen all night! Check out this new dev diary.
Another RPG creating some buzz is Castlevania Lords of Shadows 2, which twists the franchise by dropping you into a modern, real-world setting. Although they’ve tried to keep that gothic feel with European cities which have a few castles and cobblestones scattered about as well. This interview with the producer shows off some of the modernised gameplay.
Finally is the unapologetic action rollercoaster Rambo: The Video Game, which has suffered a few delays at Polish studio Teyon. I don’t think you’re going to find much depth and character development in this one, you will however find a whole lot of this:
Best of NAG
Who says geeks aren’t romantic? One helluva smooth nerd created, with the help of this friends, a video game which culminates in a proposal to his girlfriend. Did she say yes? Head over here for the completely unsurprising answer, along with the obligatory reaction shot and a chance to play the game yourself.
Old school gamers with a penchant for the vintage generally have to turn to indie developers for that taste of yesteryear. One such fossil which won’t be found on the shelves at your CNA are point and click adventure titles, such as the Deponia scrapyard trilogy. The final instalment, Goodbye Deponia, dropped recently and Rick de Klerk took it for a spin this week.
I made a lot of resolutions for the year, as I’m sure many of you did too. There’s something beautiful about the blank slate of a new year, and something amusing about us writing the same stuff on it we did last year, despite our best intentions. In the spirit of that, this week I used my column space to talk about five resolutions of industry giants which likely won’t last the first month.
Finally, we got a glimpse at what looks to be a genuinely interesting Alien game – Isolation Revealed, a survival horror title that looks to bring some credibility back to the disappointing franchise. If you follow this link you’ll find a trailer and dev diary with actual gameplay, I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t gotten the chance yet.