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Square Enix’s Team-Based Shooter ‘Catacombs’ Unearthed

Nier developer Cavia is creating a new team-based shooter RPG codenamed Catacombs. It seems like it may never be released, however.

According to a new report from Siliconera, Square Enix planned to officially reveal the game at last year's E3. A source told the website the game is far along in development and "was playable, but Square Enix isn’t sure if they will complete the title."

Catacombs takes place at the Museum of Natural History in New York and features four playable characters as well as randomly generated levels.

A Square Enix representative told Game Informer, "We’ve not made an official announcement surrounding this title, and do not have any info to share at this time."

[Source: Siliconera]

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Cave Story+ hits the 3DS eShop soon, separate from Cave Story 3D

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Cave Story+, an updated and 3D version of indie classic Cave Story, is slated to hit the 3DS eShop “in a month or so,” developer and Nicalis CEO Tyrone Rodriguez told Destructoid. Cave Story+ is a remade, separate game from DSiWare’s Cave Story 3D, not an update, meaning even those who own Cave Story 3D will have to purchase Cave Story+ new.

“I fought really hard to try to get it to be just a ‘simple’ update; I feel that Nintendo wanted the same thing too, but the logistics behind it are pretty huge,” Rodriguez said. “The good thing is that if you already bought the DSiWare version on your 3DS and ever delete it, you’ll still be able to download it. The update won’t stop you from playing the prior version of the game.”

A version of Cave Story+ launched on Steam last year, but the 3DS version will be different even from that iteration, Rodriguez said. The eShop version can’t handle the Steam HD art or new music, but the sprites will be rendered in 3D, set to the beat of the original soundtrack.

Rodriguez teased a Steam update for Cave Story+ as well, saying, “You already know about the Cave Story+ Steam updates we have planned? How do online leaderboards for the challenges sound?” Sounds great, Rodriguez. Just great.

JoystiqCave Story+ hits the 3DS eShop soon, separate from Cave Story 3D originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Botanicula Brings Wonder And Weirdness

If charm and whimsy were the defining traits by which we evaluated games, Botanicula would get a perfect score. As it is, those elements carry the game a long way towards being fun. The rest of the credit goes to some clever implementation of some very old-school adventure game concepts, like hunting for clickable objects on screen or finding the right item from one place to utilize at another location. These simple (some might say tired) mechanics are given fresh life in Botanicula through puzzles that walk that fine line between easy and difficult.

A lone tree seed has fallen into the branches of its parent tree, and only the inhabitants of that tree have the wherewithal to get this new life into the soil before a menacing spider creature devours it. Five friends – Mr. Lantern, Mrs. Mushroom, Mr. Poppy Head, Mr. Feather, and Mr. Twig – come together to get the job done. In an unusual twist, players control the entire group of bizarre heroes as they pursue their adventure. Each mouse click sends the eclectic group skipping off to a new location. Sometimes, only one of the five has the unique skills needed to gather a well-protected feather, pluck a distant flower bud, or save a baby chestnut and return it to its mother. Most of the puzzles along the adventure are intuitive and offer some unique twist on expectation. One forces you to shake your mouse back and forth to scatter the seeds of a dandelion. Another demands you tilt the frames of paintings in the background to find what hides behind them. Even later in the game, most of the interactions remain simple, even if some of those same puzzles require significant consideration and thought.

The world of Botanicula is enchanting, brimming with personality and humor. Like an extended Pixar short film, no words or writing are needed to communicate emotion or the childlike narrative. Instead, a wonderful score of strange sounds and nonsensical voices combine with an entire ecosystem of creatures and plants to create an unforgettable environment. Like the best fantasies, Botanicula’s world is grounded in human feelings and easily identifiable character motivations, so when the game shoots off into wild flights of fancy and surreal imagery, the player is happy to go along for the ride.

As delightful as Botanicula is at times, it goes wrong in a few important ways. A handful of puzzles are based on trial and error, and don’t reset after departing the room, so you can end up making things worse for yourself just by experimenting. A few other situations, (one particularly nasty maze comes to mind) require too much mouse agility for a game that is otherwise about careful thinking and observation. Finally, presumably in an effort to make the latter levels feel more advanced, navigation between areas becomes maze-like. Moving between screens at this point is more distracting and frustrating than it is enjoyable.

By its nature as an exploration-focused adventure game, Botanicula has a deliberate pace, and the lack of direct control over character actions might irk some players. Old-school adventure gamers are in for a treat, and should absolutely put this on the playlist. In fact, if those same gamers are ready to pass their enthusiasm on to the next generation, Botanicula seems tailor-made to be enjoyed by a parent and child.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Catacombs: a canned shooter from Square Enix and Nier dev Cavia

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Nier developer Cavia was working on a team-based shooter RPG, entitled Catacombs, for Square Enix before the studio was dissolved a couple years ago. Siliconera has a wealth of information about the canceled game from an inside source, who was working on the project before its reported demise.

Catacombs sounds like it was a mix of team-based shooters like Left 4 Dead, mixed with the loot-whoring of Borderlands, and Diablo‘s randomly generated maps. Players would have guns, spells and magic rings to level up as they attempted to reach the elevator on each floor and escape to the surface.

According to the source, Square Enix planned to reveal the game at last year’s E3, but that clearly never happened. The source claims Catacombs was far along and playable, but is unsure whether Square Enix will complete the title.

JoystiqCatacombs: a canned shooter from Square Enix and Nier dev Cavia originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Top Android game apps: Shark Dash challenges Where’s My Water?

[In this weekly column, Gamasutra rounds up the most popular paid and free gaming applications on Google Play as of today, with Shark Dash, Where's My Water?, and BMX Boy currently ranking among the platform's top downloads.] This week’s top paid titles are: 1. Draw Something (OMGPOP, $ 0.99) 2. Angry Birds Space Premium (Rovio, $ 0.99) 3. Cut the Rope (ZeptoLab, $ 0.99) 4. Where’s My Water? (Disney, $ 0.99) 5. Shark Dash (Gameloft, $ 0.99) 6. Phase 10 …


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Naughty Dog Dev Leaves Studio For USC

After eight years with the studio, lead game designer Richard Lemarchand has left Naughty Dog to take up a teaching role at the University of Southern California.

Lemarchand joins the university's School of Cinematic Arts in the Interactive Media Division. He was most recently the co-lead designer on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.

He first joined Naughty Dog in 2004 with previous stops at Crystal Dynamics and MicroProse.

[Source: Gamasutra]

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

League of Legends adding spectator mode in next update

The next update for League of Legends will bring spectator mode out of beta and into the hands of all Summoners. Check out this video for a breakdown of exactly how it will work. And try not to be creepy while watching other people play, okay?

JoystiqLeague of Legends adding spectator mode in next update originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Top iPhone game apps: Ski Safari, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 report strong first-week sales

[In this weekly feature, Gamasutra rounds up the week's most popular paid and free iPhone and iPod Touch games, as current on the iTunes App Store.] This week’s top paid iPhone game titles on the App Store, as captured on April 30th 2012, are as follows: 1. Angry Birds Space (Rovio, $ 0.99) 2. Flick Home Run (Infinity Pocket, $ 0.99) 3. Draw Something (OMGPOP, $ 0.99) 4. Ski Safari (Defiant Development, $ 0.99) 5. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 …


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Walden the video game is funded by the NEA, is hypocritical


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If your high school English teacher had assigned you to play the game Walden instead of reading Thoreau’s writings on living deliberately with nature, Spark Notes may not have evolved into such a booming business. USC’s plan to put abridged study guides out of business, a video game based on Thoreau’s Walden, has just received $ 40,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (which is like Kickstarter but older, more official and possibly not as lucrative).

USC has been crafting Walden for roughly two years, and this funding may be the final step to its completion, lead game designer and USC associate professor Tracy Fullerton told TIME. “Having this support will allow the time we need to really bring the world of Walden to life,” Fullterton said. “We anticipate a rich simulation of the woods, filled with the kind of detail that Thoreau so carefully noted in his writings.”

Hang on. Thoreau’s point with Walden was to point out the intrinsic benefits of separation from technology in modern society, to slow down and live as one with nature as part of a larger, living world. Putting this experience inside of a video game, running on people’s computers in an air-conditioned office, cafe or mother’s basement misses the point entirely. However, it may offer a fine lesson in hypocrisy.

“Of course everyone should spend time in nature, but not all of us are able to set aside our lives for the time it would take to conduct an experiment like Thoreau’s,” Fullerton said. “The game is not a replacement for direct experience, just as the book is not.”

Fair enough. Perhaps if you want to stop Thoreau rolling in his grave, play Walden on a tablet in the middle of the forest without an immediate charging station. Or plant some beans or something.

JoystiqWalden the video game is funded by the NEA, is hypocritical originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 30 Apr 2012 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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In-depth: Functional programming in C++

[In this reprinted #altdevblogaday in-depth piece, id Software co-founder and technical director John Carmack looks at the value in programming in a functional style with C++.] Probably everyone reading this has heard “functional programming” put forth as something that is supposed to bring benefits to software development, or even heard it touted as a silver bullet. However, a trip to Wikipedia for some more information can be initially off-putting, with early references to lambda calculus …


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