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Best of 2016: The 4 years of self-imposed crunch that went into Stardew Valley

In this 2016 gem, dev Eric Barone talks about the 4 years of 70-hour weeks that went into Stardew Valley. “You should be free to work yourself to the bone, but not to force someone else to.” …


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New Halo 5 Update Adds Weapons, Updates Forge, And More

Halo 5: Guardians is getting another huge content update called Monitor's Bounty. On December 8, players can download a free update that includes new armor, skins, and weapons along with an option to join in-progress custom games, an eSports-esque Observer Mode, the ability to gift purchasable-only REQ packs to other players, and the "biggest Forge update ever seen in a Halo game."

Everything in the update is free except for the Voices of War REQ pack, which is $ 9.99 and features Spartan Buck, 031 Exuberant Witness, and Yabda the Merciless as multiplayer announcers.

Since it is one of the bigger updates, 343 will reveal the rest of the features on December 7, which will includes details on Forge, Canon Fodder, Warzone, and the Arena Matchmaking Playlists. For a complete rundown of the revealed details, read the post on Halo Waypoint.

[Source: Halo Waypoint]

 

Our Take
I love the trend of supporting a game well after its release. More and more games are doing it, and it's a good way to keep and reward a community.

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Opinion – Watch Dogs 2 Would Be Better Without Guns

Spoiler Warning: Some minor plot details are mentioned for Watch Dogs 2.

With a more jubilant protagonist, Watch Dogs 2 leaves behind the somber tone of the last game for a more vibrant and lighthearted experience. The 20-something hacker Marcus, who has a fondness for action films, video games, and crude humor, is a friendly jokester who spends much of his time making pop-culture references. While harmless outside of being able to create digital havoc, Watch Dogs 2 wants us to believe that he can also be a ruthless killer – and it just doesn’t fit.

Although the narrative introduces fascinating themes about technology, it’s negated by the existence of guns, creating a narrative dissonance that’s impossible to ignore. Marcus, who was unjustly profiled as a criminal by the mass-surveillance system, ctOS, wants to expose corporations and governments that abuse their power through technology. Gun-toting is inconsistent with his lighthearted and activist personality, making it difficult to get behind his cause when he’s printing guns out of a 3D printer and using hacks for his own personal gain.

This disconnect between story and gameplay is not a rare sight in video games. For example, it’s hard to believe that the friendly Nathan Drake, known for his dry humor, would mow down his villains without a second thought, or that Far Cry 3’s Jason Brody can go from skydiving with friends to initiating killing sprees. In Watch Dogs 2, narrative dissonance becomes all that more distracting, as it attempts to make a statement that is overshadowed by contradictory themes. You feel like a modern Robin Hood – a man of the people – when exposing shady corporations. The impact of these actions is less substantial when you can gun down those that stand in your way, which seems like too extreme an action for a goofy millennial savvy with computers.

In each mission, you have the choice to either play non-lethally or go in guns blazing. While you can approach missions non-lethally, it’s a much more challenging approach. Marcus’ stun gun has a slow firing rate, and along with a purchasable stun launcher, those are his only weapons that don't kill. A more varied repertoire of nonlethal options would have been a valuable addition. The use of firearms is an easier option, but it doesn’t make much narrative sense, and these conflicting themes are seen elsewhere in the gameplay too.

Marcus’ distrust towards CEOs of secretive large companies is founded, but almost hypocritical as he abuses the same powers they do. From one mission to the next, you steal personal data and infiltrate private properties, which is at odds with Marcus’ values. You can stroll down the street and steal from an innocent pedestrian’s bank account with the press of a button, and in the next moment you’re righting the wrongs of a social-media giant that rigged an election. I found it difficult to empathize with Marcus, or even get behind his goal, when these blatant inconsistencies were occurring so often. 

These conflicting tones are further complicated by the existence of guns, and Marcus is surprisingly skilled with them. What’s more surprising, is that Watch Dogs 2 doesn’t need guns to be a good game. This sequel improves over its predecessor by putting hacking at the forefront of gameplay, and gunplay is the least innovative quality. Gunfights are not nearly as inventive as the hacking mechanics, which allow you to buzz an enemy’s phone to distract them, or place electrical hacking traps to knock foes out. 

I much preferred hacking my way through one area to the next. Progressing through an area solely with hacking tools can make each location feel like a giant, compelling puzzle – a confounding but fun head-scratcher as you distract and manipulate your foes. The ability to blast your way through an area with bullets seems like a cheap shortcut, and a bland one at that. While there isn’t anything wrong with the gunplay, it offers little novelty as you defeat several enemies, while hacking requires more strategy. 

It would be refreshing to see more games have a better relationship between gameplay and narrative that makes sense for the world it presents. For example, Ubisoft’s decision to ditch gunplay in Far Cry Primal made narrative sense since the setting takes place in the stone age, and it was a bold move for a series that previously centered around guns almost entirely.

Watch Dogs 2’s hacking gameplay is strong and provides enough variety that it could easily exist on its own, without gunplay. After completing Watch Dogs 2’s story, it became clear to me: Marcus is not a killer. Instead, he’s a glorified prankster, a social-media enthusiast, and a guy who spends more money on hipster clothes than he’d like to admit. He’s skilled with his powerful smartphone in hand, but he’s not the type to pull a trigger. So why give him a gun?

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User Recreates Over 20 Real-World Roller Coasters In Planet Coaster

Planet Coaster hasn't even been out for a month yet and users are already creating super impressive works. Take modder Joey Designs for example, who has crafted and uploaded a number of real-world roller coaster recreations to the game's Steam Workshop.

The uploaded coasters include Dollywood's Wild Eagle, Carowinds' Thunder Road, and Six Flags' X2. You can find (and download) all of the coasters here.

Planet Coaster received a score of 8.25. You can read Ben Reeves' review of the game here.

[Source: Steam via Kotaku]

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IGF 2017 announces juries for Nuovo, Student, and Visual Art awards

The juries behind the GDC 2017 Independent Games Festival include a diverse lineup of lauded developers and industry professionals sign on to decide the finalists for next year’s awards. …


Gamasutra News

Learn How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse – For Real – In Dead Rising 4 Tips Video

Dead Rising 4 is out today, bringing the zombie-filled action back to where it all began in Willamette, Colorado. Frank West has done this all before, so taking on hordes of reanimated corpses is old hat for him. The rest of us could probably stand for some kind of refresher course, which is where Major Nelson's new video guide comes in.

In the video, zombie expert Cameron Carlson from the Zombie Research Society walks Larry Hryb through what he needs to keep an eye out for during the zombie apocalypse. If you're looking for some good general survival tips on where to find food, what can be used to start fires, and how to make a swinging weapon from an office chair, this the the video for you. There's also plenty of in-game footage from Dead Rising 4 to further illustrate the concepts that are being discussed in the live-live action video.

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Dead Rising 4 is available now on Xbox One and PC.

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Rumor: New Pokémon Go Monsters Coming Soon

A supposed leaked flier for Starbucks employees points to more monsters coming to Pokémon Go in an update this week.

The flier – an information sheet to prep store employees on a coming Starbucks/Pokémon Go promotion – says that the game is "about to expand with new Pokémon…" According to the flier, the update is scheduled to happen on Thursday, December 8, but it does not go into any detail about the forthcoming Pokémon.

The promotion, apart from introducing a Pokémon-themed frappuchino, will also turn participated Starbucks into PokéStops.

[Source: Reddit user alturrisi via Gamespot]

 

Our Take
Scrolling down the comments thread of the original Reddit post, apparently the drink itself is gross… 

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Ghost Recon Wildlands Gets A New Trailer And Registration Opens For Upcoming Beta

Ghost Recon Wildlands, the stealthy open-world shooter about taking on the Santa Blanca drug cartel in Bolivia, is opening up registration for an upcoming beta.

The trailer, which you can see below, details the game's structure while showing off how many things in the world can explode (spoiler: it's a lot). For more on the game and how to sign up for its beta, you can head to its official website, here.

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For more on Ghost Recon Wildlands, head here for our hands-on impressions from E3 2016.

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Settle Into Tamriel With Upcoming Elder Scrolls Online Housing Update

Elder Scrolls Online players will be able to create a place of their own in February, thanks to the Homestead update. A new trailer shows off some of these player-owned houses, featuring a variety of decorative styles and floor plans.

The free update includes more than 40 different homes – styled after the game's 10 different races – and more than 2,000 different decorative elements, such as furniture. Take a look at the trailer below to get a sense of what's ahead, and visit the official Elder Scrolls Online site for additional information.

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New Sniper Elite 4 Trailer Sets The Stage For Allied Invasion Of Sicily

After finishing up his role in the Allies' North African Campaign in Tunisia, Lt. Karl Fairburne heads to nearby Sicily to begin the story of Sniper Elite 4.

A new story trailer released today provides some context. Sicily was a strategically crucial launch point for the Allies' Italian Campaign, which sought to unseat dictator and German ally Benito Mussolini. By linking up with Italian anti-Mussolini fighters in Sicily, Fairburne's job will be to help sow seeds of rebellion and prepare the way for the southern Allied invasion of mainland Europe.

You can watch the full story trailer below.

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For more on Sniper Elite 4, including its returning gory X-ray kills, check out our hands-on preview here.

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