Gelatiman Gaming Australia's independent "PC only" blogs site for gaming thoughts, ideas and whatever random thoughts we decide to post! http://pcgamers.net.au Sat, 18 Nov 2017 15:57:34 +1100 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Drone Legion Previewed http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/535-drone-legion-previewed http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/535-drone-legion-previewed Drone Legion Previewed

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intro2Local Melbourne Developer Dark Shadow Studio's Drone Racing Simulator, titled Drone Legion, impressed me so much I just had to put something together on it. Casey and Reece, the founders and lead developers kindly gave me a go, albeit while they were still setting up with T-10 minutes left before the hordes of PAXies (and even some PIXies lol) arrived through the doors!

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Sitting down to play, Reece offered me a choice of PlayStation style or Xbox controller. I asked whether the 6 channel FlySky Radio Control Transmitter I'd spotted on the table was for decorative purposes only. Being a raving drone fanboy myself I have ample familiarity with such a beast, and to my shock and delight Reece said he'd hook it up no worries!

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So here we had a VR drone racing simulation, using a real controller, could it be that I don't even have to leave the house to go and terrorise the neighbourhood with my flying skills?
Strapping on the VR headset I was away. The aim is to navigate through rings around a racetrack as fast as possible. To begin with I was very apprehensive, not wanting to crash the drone at any cost but by the end of the demo I was careering around corners and giving it full throttle on the straight bits, terrific fun! The responsiveness of the drone was very realistic, the same reflex actions to keep altitude and use a combination of roll and yaw to turn hard corners was eerily close to the real thing.
The controller was Mode 2 which has the Throttle on the left hand stick. It's also the most common configuration in the U.S and happens to be what I am used to. What a terrific tool for teaching beginners how to fly, or refining the skills of experts with!

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Casey who is the CEO of Dark Shadow Studio's, kindly made some time available to answer some questions:

PCGamers - "Can you give us some detail on the history of the project?"

Casey @ DSS - "We started this project in February 2016 it was previously known as "Drone VR" however we have renamed it to "Drone Legion". It began as a project between myself and Reece as Lead Designer. We created a demo video in 9 days to take to GDC (Game Developers Conference) in San Francisco in March. After GDC we came back and redid the code and art style and since then we have had a pretty dedicated team working on Drone Legion to showcase it at this year's PAX."

PCGamers - "When are you are aiming to release Drone Legion?"

Casey @ DSS - "We are looking to release 10 playable levels by June 2017, fingers crossed but things do pop up or take longer than expected but June is our goal."

PCGamers - "Can you tell us about the Software Tech, what is it coded in and how has that platform been to work with?"

Casey @ DSS - "Unreal Engine. Our physics programmer had to create the entire code from scratch even though Unreal Engine is very user friendly it does not have real world drone physics which is what we are after – so now that we have created these physics we can manipulate the Engine to do what we need it to, easily."

PCGamers - "What hardware platforms will you support, what VR equipment and controllers?"

Casey @ DSS - "Our targeted platforms are PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 with the possibility to cross over onto mobile devices once we are happy with our release of Drone Legion. We want to keep Drone Legion as compatible as possible so currently it runs on PC with the Xbox One and PS4 gamepads however as drone pilots could also benefit from Drone Legion we have set it up that you can use an RC Transmitter (drone controller). Which leads me to another aspect, we are cohesively bringing together VR, with VR and Drones the hot topic at the moment we have combined these two items together and since drone pilots use FPV already we've made our VR use in first person or third person view."

PCGamers - "How has the reception to the game been so far?"

Casey @ DSS - "Since our showcase at PAX Sony, Microsoft, the Unreal Engine and NVIDIA VRWorks have offered their support and we are excited to be a part of the development and growth of Drone Legion!"

 

Thanks Casey and good luck on the Drone Legion project!

 

 

 

 

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jtorrisi@pcgamers.net.au (James) Gelatiman Gaming Wed, 07 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +1100
Master Of Orion - Conquer The Stars http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/528-master-of-orion-conquer-the-stars http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/528-master-of-orion-conquer-the-stars Master Of Orion - Conquer The Stars

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introMaster of Orion (or MOO) is a 4x turn based strategy game brought to us by NGD Studios and published by Wargaming. The original is over 20 years old and considered one of the greatest games of all time so it's easy to see why it's been chosen to be resurrected, and given a spruce up for today's hardware.
There are two editions of Master of Orion, one being the standard edition and the other the Collector's edition. I reviewed the collector's edition which comes with quite a few notable extras, most important of which is an extra (11th) race - the Terran Khanate which are a bunch of evil renegade humans, and the other perk being full copies of the original MOO 1, 2 and 3 for your retro nostalgia hit. It also comes with some gorgeous digital art books that give you a feel for the love that has gone into creating the games vibrant universe.

MOO begins with you selecting a race do dominate the galaxy with, each having benefits and downsides and an entertaining backstory.

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From there you are transported to a randomly generated chunk of space, with only your home planet colonised and a couple of other likely looking candidates. You start with a colony ship, a frigate and a couple of scouts and the early game is spent scouting out new candidates for colonisation, based on one or many of the following factors - the suitability for life, the propensity for scientific research and the abundance of minerals which are needed to develop your empire.

Once you do start a colony you'll have some decisions to make. Do you look to move your population into a research or industrial field, or do you concentrate on food production and try to grow your population? Growing your population leaves you vulnerable early but once your colony is up and running with a larger population and your industrial and research efforts will be much improved.

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You'll quickly outgrow your home planet so the next thing to do is to scout out new potential candidates for colonisation. The game uses "warp points" to link stars to each other and you'll travel between these at a speed determined by the technological capabilities of your ships engines.

Warp points are useful as they set a perimeter of sorts which can be used to secure your colonies with a well-placed military outpost or a frigate providing a blockade.

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As you move through warp points and on to other stars and solar systems you will reveal new planets and inevitably and eventually one of the many other races that inhabit the cosmos.

The other races soon make their intentions known as to whether they are willing to tolerate you or whether they are biding their time before coming to decimate your colonies. The AI is pretty clever when it comes to picking when to attack. In my first few games I lasted until about turn 150 before anyone dare challenge me. This I believe was because I had a pretty hard-core military thanks to pumping all my production and research into that area. In a subsequent game I wasn't so lucky, it was around turn 20 that the tyrannical Terran Khanate (the humans that have turned into murderous megalomaniacs) came and ran through my entire colony and rendered my race extinct! Turns out it was because they were scouting and could see that my military was poor.

The AI will try all sorts of cheeky stuff to pressure you into making a mistake. For example, watch allies and enemy alike try to close in to colonise newly liberated planets - basically not giving a damn that you did all the hard work to liberate them in the first place! Get too friendly with an enemy of a neutral and expect them to pull you up on it.

The other races can be leveraged for trades or to coerce into declaring war against a more powerful rival. Trading is interesting, I felt a bit like Jean Luc Picard weighing up whether a race was after one of my weapons in a mutually beneficial trade, just to come back later with a fleet and annihilate me with it.

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One minor quirk, it would be nice to be able to view the diplomatic status of all leaders before committing to war with one or the other - a race will ask you to go to war with another and you don't have a way to check your status with them before committing to a yes or no.

It also seems very very hard (maybe impossible) to get another race to declare War on an opponent. I had an "affable" relationship with the Klackon, we got on quite well by exchanging star charts and technology and eventually forged an alliance. But when the dreadful Bulrathi starting trying to wipe out my Psilon colonies in an unprovoked act of violence, I could not get the more powerful Klackon to step in and help me out, no matter how much money or sweeteners I added to the deal.

Then, about 3 turns later, the Klackon declared war on the Bulrathi anyway which didn't make any sense. Perhaps there needs to be some tweaks to the AI here?

Warfare isn't the only way you can win the game, you can win it with better tech, a more powerful economy or by being the best diplomatically.

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Technology is key though because it's the only way you can truly control your empires efficiency at production (keep the credits rolling in), military (you want to build up to date ships or you'll be humiliated by your peers) and defense (your empire will have more holes than a piece of swiss cheese if you don't bolster this area meaning by mid to late game to quote South Park - "You're gunna have a bad time".

The tech tree is huge but it's the same for each race. There isn't a heap of variation amongst the different elements, they are mostly just improved versions of something you already have, with the exception of say Jump Gates which are handy things that allow you to warp within a single turn to any of your controlled colony stars.

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As you uncover new tech you can retrofit your ship "blueprints" and upgrade already commissioned ships. It's important to stay up to date militarily or your opponents will see a weakness they can exploit.

It's a lot of fun mucking around with ship designs and trying to cram as much firepower and armor you can on one to get an edge in an upcoming battle.

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Spying a large part of the game, as is sabotage. Every planet and your empire in general has a security rating and unless you are spending considerable credits in this area expect all sorts of strife, colony revolts, poisoning's, sabotaged military and production facilities, argghh the stress it causes!

On the flip-side you can create your own agency, train your own spies and send them to enemy planets to steal blueprints or star charts or sabotage their colonies.

There are also various random Sim City style disasters that occur to spoil your day/year/eon.

For example I had a solar system whose host Star was going supernova and had to assign researchers on that planet to come up with some weird technology to stop it. Crisis averted!

Battles are exciting and can be auto resolved and played out entirely by the AI or you can take a more hands on approach and call the shots. I preferred to let the AI do its thing but sit back and select "Cinematic mode" to get a movie like view.... MOO is a truly great looking game.

I found in manual control mode the camera controls to move around battle map a bit clunky - possibly there's some room for improvement here.

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Playing on 4k the game looks incredible. The screen you'll spend most of your time in, for moving ships and colonising planets etc. lends itself well to a high resolution. The standout in the graphics department for me is the animation of the other races. The way the leaders move is very fluent and their facial expressions are very realistic, as much as you can say for a bunch of seriously grotesque aliens!

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Sound wise the game is fine, the voice acting is excellent.  The music is perhaps a bit light on, it's mostly classical, in the Star Trek / Star Wars mould but a few more soundtracks wouldn't have gone astray.

MOO supports multiplayer through local LAN and also online.  I didn't have any luck finding a match to play with online which was disappointing and surprising for such a new game.

The game has enough replayability through the different races and random events that you are going to log some serious hours to this game, easily hundreds.  I'm looking forward to play-through number 5 - I still haven't conquered this game even just on normal difficulty!

I was expecting a lot from this game and it has delivered.  It's nothing that hasn't been done before but it's done better and it's just much more accessible than a lot of other space turn based strategy games I've had a go at (like Galactic Civilisations).

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Tue, 13 Sep 2016 00:00:00 +1000
Reviewed: Lost Sea http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/523-reviewed-lost-sea http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/523-reviewed-lost-sea Reviewed: Lost Sea

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Lost Sea is a charming little Indie game for Steam, PS4 and Xbox One created by East Asia Soft. You select one of 8 different intrepid adventurers and start off stranded (of course) on a deserted (or is it?) island with little more than a machete (yeah!!!), a Hawaiian shirt, a wide brimmed hat and a thirst for adventure.


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What Happened?

It turns out your plane has gone down in a vicious storm and you've been swallowed up by the Bermuda Triangle. You'll assemble a team of crew members each with different skills as you travel from island to island trying to gather more ancient tablets that will eventually become the map you need to get home.

The islands vary by difficulty with the final island hosting a boss. You'll need to access the player and ship upgrades available to you from the "strange man" who follows you from island to island. These might be speed or combat upgrades, or the automatic reveal of treasure or tablets.

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Leaders aren't born, they are purchased in the shoppe

One of the most useful upgrades to get is the leadership player upgrade, it allows you to expand your crew from the starting number of one, up to 4 crew. You encounter crew hidden within the various islands and each one brings different skills to the team. Some crew members are locksmiths and can open treasure chests, some are carpenters and can repair bridges, others are basically D&D style clerics and can raise a player from the dead!

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It looks as good as Mary Ann or Ginger, depending on preference

Graphically, the game is well presented and polished. Lost Sea uses an isometric viewpoint to excellent effect which lends itself to the feeling of exploration, you uncover more and more of the map as you meander over docks, bridges, sand and stone, not really knowing what is around the next corner.

The islands you explore are home to a plethora of cute but lethal monsters each with different attack characteristics, and it will take you a while to nut out their attack patterns.

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Sonically, it's a gem. The music is brilliant and atmospheric and changes from island to island. The sound effects are suitably arcadey from the digitised player grunts during combat to the compliant "OK!" from a crew member that's just been ordered to unlock a chest. The monsters sound great too.

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Conclusion

All in all, Lost Sea is a great game. The developers have cleverly coded the game to be randomly generated meaning no two games are exactly the same which really adds to the replayability.

Even though it's roguelike in that you can only die once, I feel Lost Sea will probably resonate the most with kids and that is a good thing.  Watching my kids use their grey matter to try and get up onto a ledge to acquire another tablet or piece of treasure was great.

In this day and age where it feels like every kids' game is basically superficial trash full of in-app purchases it's nice to see a developer put together something as polished as Lost Sea.  It oozes fun factor and I think the best compliment I could give it is finally there is something to get the kids off Minecraft for once!

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Mon, 11 Jul 2016 00:00:00 +1000
Reviewed: Star Wars Battlefront http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/505-reviewed-star-wars-battlefront http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/505-reviewed-star-wars-battlefront Reviewed: Star Wars Battlefront

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A New Hope

EA recently acquired the game rights to release a Star Wars and with that announced they were going to reboot the old Battlefront idea, courtesy of their DICE studio, give it a lick of paint and bring it up to speed with support for current-gen consoles and PC's.


Firstly a quick history.


Star Wars Battlefront was first released in 2004 and featured 32 player online combat. Objectives were capture the flag based. Characters were class based and could be selected from 4 different factions. A myriad of vehicles from the movies were available in the game.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 was released in 2005 and expanded on this by introducing playable heroes and a more solid single player campaign.

Which brings us to the current day Star Wars Battlefront.
At its essence it's a multiplayer shooter with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from an AAA title. Is it any good though?

 

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The game gives a very realistic feeling of being in battle. Overhead, there are hectic dogfights between tie fighters and x-wings, with explosions, sparks and debris raining over the battlefield. There is the thud thud thud of humongous calibre laser artillery arcing across the field, eviscerating anything unlucky enough to get in the way. And the sound of thermal implosion grenades shaking (and destroying) everything within 20 metres of them. Screams of injured and dying Rebel and Imperial fighters, and of course the "zing zing zing" of heroes duelling using light sabers!

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I rarely play in the third person perspective but in this case I did, it just looks so great seeing your character move so fluently. It gives you a wider viewable area which is an advantage too.

Whilst there aren't many maps yet, the layout of them is clever and minimises the opportunity for players to "camp" in the one spot. Basically on every map it's nigh on impossible to have your back protected, you need to be constantly moving and looking around all 360 degrees to survive.

Use the force! (powerups)

This game is all about powerups, and the side that makes the best use of them will win the day. Someone kills you and you are pretty sure you know where they're hiding? Respawn, grab an Orbital Strike powerup and order one in smack down on top of their head! They won't be laughing much longer. The hero and vehicle powerups expire to prevent them from being held too long and disadvantaging your team which makes a lot of sense.
A strategically placed infantry Cannon can go a long way to defending a stronghold. There are a lot of grenades in this game, personally I find them a bit OP (which is fair enough when you consider, well they're grenades) but I would like to see a lot less of them to make the gun battles go on a bit longer. Often I'll be having a shootout with the enemy and some killjoy would just come along and end it with a grenade. Anyway!
Help yourself to one of these bad boys:

Blaster Cannon

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The Mark II is a deployable blaster cannon that uses devastating firepower to keep the enemy at bay.

Smart Rocket

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A rocket that can be dumb-fired at any target. Automatically switches to guided mode when it detects an enemy vehicle

Infantry Turret

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Automatically detects and attacks enemy soldiers.

Squad Shield

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Portable energy shield that protects users from blasters and other energy weapons.

Orbital Strike

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A lethal cannon barrage from planetary orbiting ships, covering a large area.

Thermal Imploder

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Compresses and heats the surrounding atmosphere, creating a vacuum that produces a violent implosion within a massive radius.

Proximity Bomb

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A powerful explosive that triggers when enemies are nearby.

Vehicle Turret

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Automatically scans for and attacks enemy vehicles

Sensor Droid

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This Droid patrols the immediate surroundings, scans for enemies, and attacks them on sight.

You can also get an R2D2 powerup and that little menace roams around like a maniacal trash can, laying waste to any Imperial's who dare to put a chip packet in him.

Things that make you go "pew"

Weapons are an assortment of Blaster Pistol's, Blaster Rifle's, Heavy and Shock Blaster's, Sniper Rifles and heat seeking Missiles. The game uses a level up system, based on your performance in matches you get assigned points at the conclusion of each match. At each level or "rank" increase, you are able to purchase upgraded weapons or items for your belt slots. Or if you are really vain, like me, you spend your points on visual appearance upgrades.

Thankfully there are no Microtransactions, everything can be purchased with in-game cred.

There are of course a multitude of vehicles you can command on the battlefield. These appear as power ups you run over and then activate. I like the fact there is a small delay in calling in a vehicle. You literally crouch and make a call on your Nokia 5110 or similar smartphone. The wait can be excruciating as you practically defenceless while you do it!

Ground based vehicles that can be commanded by you are AT-AT's, AT-ST's, Speeder Bikes (remember the famous scene on Endor in Return of the Jedi) and SnowSpeeders.

Game Modes

The game features a bunch of different Multiplayer Game Modes.

Blast is a 10 v 10 Unreal Tournament Deathmatch style, you know the drill.

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Hero's vs Villains is a 6 v6 Rebels vs. Imperials engagement, where three characters from each side will randomly spawn as either Luke, Leia, Hans Solo or Vader, Palpatine and Fett. This is fun but it's really just small scale Death Match, with the added sweetener of nearly certain duels between Luke and Darth Vader! Heroes have such impressive powers it's impossible not to laugh like a maniac when you are activating them!

Being able to deflect incoming blaster fire with a light saber is a hell of a feeling and a sight to behold. However my highlight was respawning as Palpatine and destroying wave after wave of Rebel scum with his Sith Lightning. Flanked by some RL Stormtroopers, my hero felt almost invincible!

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One game tip that comes in the load screen is that apparently Luke's sabre rush is effective against low flying Tie fighters! I haven't witnessed or taken down a tie fighter as Luke yet myself but it sounds like ridiculous fun, and I'd imagine would be a bit of a shock to the Tie fighter pilot!

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Supremacy is a 20 v 20 large scale tactical style match which is conquest based and relies on teamwork to co-ordinate attack or defense, depending on the goal. This reminded me quite a lot of Planetside 2, the free to play MMO we also rate very highly here. The Hero's make an appearance here and can turn an entire match.

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Fighter Squadron= 10 v10 aerial combat, tie fighters versus A wings versus tie interceptors versus Y wings, simple good fun. Again we see the hero element here with the Millennium Falcon able to be piloted as the "hero" craft for rebel, and the Slave 1 craft for the dark side.

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Walker assault is a 20 v 20 scenario where the imperials are commanding Walkers for an assault on the planet Hoth, and the poor old Rebels have to hold out. Piloting Imperial Walkers was in my opinion one of the most fun parts of this game. They are tremendously hard to take down. The Rebels do have access to AI piloted Y-Wing fighters to help bring them down, provided they have control of uplink stations and are able to defend them.

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There are a bunch of other multiplayer game modes with smaller player numbers to keep things interesting too. Let's hope player numbers aren't an issue with those because players certainly are sparser on them than the big maps.

EA has announced some free DLC on the 8th of December – The Battle for Jakku. This map features a clash between the rebels and imperials on Jakku, a scene featured in the recent Force Awakens movie. It's great to see EA investing in their player base.

Single player wise, there's no campaign, but there are scenario based objective missions that can be also be played co-operatively. These missions revolve around fighting invading Imperial forces, and can be played in Normal, Hard or Master mode. There's also the ability to play as Skirmish battles as a hero or standard infantry.

It looks as good as Princess Leia's hair

The game engine is impressive. The ability to render smoothly, a huge amount of activity over a large area is reminiscent of the Battlefield series and that's largely in part due to the fact that they share the same engine: EA's
"Frostbite".

Graphically it looks great. The explosions are some of the best I've seen in a game. There is also a kind of movie look to the scenes which is hard to explain. I think it's like a frame blurring effect, such as in this scene:

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How's the combat?

Fast paced. Theres no sneaking around tactically, it's all very Unreal Tournament. The combat took a while to get used to the fact that zooming doesn't affect accuracy. It's also possible to get one shotted very easily and sometimes respawns are nonsensical, you might get planted right next to an enemy which seems unfair.

Whilst I was initially frustrated with the matchmaking and lack of a server browser, it should be given a chance to see how it works (or doesn't) in a few months. Finding a server hasn't really been an issue for me and I've rarely seen one player tearing the game apart compared to the rest.

The implementation of Squads like Battlefield 4 would be useful addition. When you are paired with an Origin Friend, it's still pretty good. The lack of VOIP isn't a big deal because there are other options and this saves me from needing to mute players that like to sing, curse, belch or spout random crap over a live mic. When I tested the Origin VOIP, I was surprised at how well it worked - so it's a viable alternative for a 2 player experience.

Joystick support in the game seemed lacking, we weren't able to get our X52 to work which is surprising and disappointing, given the dogfighting element plays a huge part in this game.
Hopefully these grievances will be ironed out in the near future with a patch update.

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Right now the maps seem a bit limited but as mentioned EA are throwing more free DLC out there which will help. There is a Season Pass that can be purchased that will expand the game as well, but as yet no detail on what the Expansion packs will contain.

For a fun frag fest that doesn't take itself as seriously as Rainbow 6, you can't go wrong with Star Wars Battlefront. If you are looking for BF4 style team cohesive style combat it might leave you wanting more. It's more Arcade than that, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's the type of game you will happily log into after your Spaghetti for an hour or two a night and have a blast with. Yes it's nothing new in terms of its formula, but what it does it does well.

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Wed, 30 Dec 2015 00:00:00 +1100
Reviewed: Pillars of Eternity http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/469-reviewed-pillars-of-eternity http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/469-reviewed-pillars-of-eternity Reviewed: Pillars of Eternity

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     In truth, Obsidian's crowd-funded spectacular Pillars of Eternity arrived at PCGamers.net.au headquarters some time ago. The pre-release press only code was enough to get my hands dirty on the game, but I was reluctant to rush a review out as I felt it would not do this game justice. 

The game is immensely complex in its mechanics and so I wanted to spend some more time with it, to try and understand its nuances, and appreciate the fact that its roots are deeply embedded in an RPG era now largely left behind, but thankfully not forgotten. Whilst the Witcher's and Dark Souls of the world capture the imagination from a mostly graphical perspective, the niche of the isometric turn based RPG is more story-oriented. If Diablo 3 in it's purely action RPG machination can be considered the Cheeseburger of the RPG genre, Pillars of Eternity is the Fillet Mignon. The thinking man's (or woman's) RPG.

The game is intended for fans of the original Infinity Engine games such as Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. Obsidian started a Kickstarter campaign in September 2012 and have since raised $4.1 million (amazing considering that the initial target was $1.1 million, which it raised in 1 day!)

So can we expect a quality product from a crowd-funded campaign? I wasn't sure, but thinking about it there is so much to like about this approach. Consider that it is the fans of the genre that are driving the direction of the game. As they donate to the cause, stretch targets are met and the developers are able to add more and more content to their liking.

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A new level of collaboration exists now with developer diaries within social media circles discussing game direction, allowing feedback to be sought at a very early stage from the fans. This can only result in a better product right? Well thankfully yes, I can say that Pillars of Eternity has been a success.

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Gameplay

Once you jump into a new game you are presented with 4 levels of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard and "Path of the Damned". Path of the Damned difficulty means enemies have bonuses to most stats and encounters have many more enemies.
There are a couple of interesting modifiers that can be applied to a game on top of the difficulty level: "Expert Mode" which disables assistance and is recommended for experienced fans of the genre, and "Trial of Iron" mode whereby you only get one life, and if you kick the bucket, your save game does too. Basically, it's reserved for psychos.

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Figure 1. Are you a glutton for pain? Do you like slamming your squashy bits in car doors? If so then "Trial of Iron" mode is for you!

When generating your first character you firstly select a Male or Female, then a Race. Race can be Human, Aumaua (water residing human-like creatures), Dwarf, Elf, Orlan (ugly little impey things) and Godlike.
Humans are jack-of-all-trades, Aumaua and Dwarves are warriors, Elves and Orlan's are your deep thinkers who might be better suited to magic and Godlike are a bit of both might and magic.

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Figure 2. Bringing back the punk rocker era with dat hair!

Not all your typical D&D races make a showing in Pillars of Eternity, however there is some carry over. Where the divergence really takes place is in the Subrace. After selecting a Race, you select a Subrace from a list specific to that Race. For example, if you select a Godlike Race, you are then presented with a choice of "Death", "Fire", "Moon" and "Nature" Subrace, each with their own backstory and perks. Death gives the player a bonus when an opponent has low Endurance. Fire buffs you with damage reduction and fire damage when you are weak, Moon provides healing for yourself and your allies under duress and Nature provides buffs to multiple attributes when you your Endurance is low.

After this you select a Class, most of which should be pretty self-explanatory, out of Barbarian, Chanter, Cipher, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Ranger, Rogue and Wizard. The two classes I hadn't seen before are Chanter – basically a caster who cast offensive magical spells after reciting a bunch of phrases, and Cipher – a caster who targets the enemies mind and soul.
From here, select your starting Powers (Spells) or Abilities if you are a Melee class, roll for your Attributes (standard D&D fare of Might, Constitution, Dexterity etc.) and move to the Culture screen. Here you can choose your characters Culture and their Background. Every Culture and Background has a unique story and provides the player with different starting attribute bonuses.

Then customise your face from some very Eye of the Beholder like portraits (there's 67 of them and they are all awesome), select a character voice and voila, you're done!

The Story

The game begins with a dialogue explaining that you have fallen unwell on your journey to "look for a fresh start". Your party pulls over and makes camp for the night.

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The Caravan Master reckons he is too busy to go looking for the healing salve that you need, so he beckons for the rather attractive "Calisca" to take you through the forest to look for the components you need to get better.

She reluctantly agrees, and immediately you start to feel better. Your first party is formed!

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The first thing to strike me with this game is the music. It's beautiful and moody and perfect for setting the scene. I recommend playing this game with a good set of headphones.

Careful attention has been paid to the storytelling in this game and it is absolutely first class. The game conveys your surroundings and new events to you in vivid detail, both on the isometric player field of view, and the narrative which appears is timely and adds to the intrigue....

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Decisions, Decisions

Any form of conversation or negotiation involves choices, as it would in real life. These choices can be influenced based on the characters propensity for a particular attribute. For example, if your character is well versed in the Lore of the world, extra options may appear that may be more desirable than the others. Likewise if your character is a brute with an abundance of Might, he or she might have extra options of to, shall we say, exert considerable pressure on your target!

Negotiation tactics come in to play early with some Lore and Might dialogue options. This is one game you must be prepared to read and understand the dialogue before acting.

Actions can have a big flow on effect to. When I was faced with a choice early in the game to stop and allow an injured party member to rest, or heed the warnings of my guide and push on, risking the injured one, was stressful to say the least! Was it the choice I made that caused my party member to do a runner in the night with all our water supplies?

Do you have skillz?

Stealth, Athletics, Lore, Mechanics and Survival are the 5 core Skills in Pillars. Unlike Abilities and Talents which are used mostly in combat, Skills are leveraged often in a non-combat situation, for example when negotiating with an NPC, or trying to manipulate the world around you.

Combat

At the heart of Pillars is a fairly familiar combat system which despite looking complex is actually pretty simple. It really comes down to a comparison of some core attributes between the party member and the enemy, and an "attack roll" component to add the dynamics.

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Figure 3. I can't tell what on earth is going on here either. Suffice to say I think someone has got a pretty bad headcold.

The success of an attack is based on the attacker Accuracy rating versus the target's defense rating with an attack roll modifier. Each attack can result in a Critical Hit, Hit, Graze, or Miss, each affecting the amount of attack damage and/or duration.

Accuracy and Defense can be improved through better gear, levelling up, new abilities and talents. Damage amount can be reduced via the DR (Damage Reduction) modifier which is applied to armor. Consider it the difference between a suit of armor made out of aluminium foil versus kevlar!

Like all good hack and slash RPG's, critical strikes can be dealt which give a 50% damage multiplier.

There are 8 types of damage that can be dealt in Pillars. Slashing, Crushing, Piercing, Freezing, Shocking, Burning, Corrosion or Raw damage. Raw damage is not affected by armor and is usually associated with poison or bleeding attacks.

An interesting mechanic in the game is Endurance, and it is separate to your run of the mill Health. Endurance plays an important part in Pillars of Eternity. It is consumed when your opponent hits you successfully. If you character loses all of their endurance they are effectively KO'd rendering them useless in the fight. If remaining party members die then the KO'd character will die also. Unlike Health, Endurance will auto-regenerate quickly after a battle. Health can only be regenerated through rest. This makes it important to carefully pick when and where you make camp. Camp supplies are consumed when you make camp, so this is always a consideration. On resting, magical members relearn spells.

There is a massive array of magical attack spells in the game, some dealing direct damage such as the lovely Necrotic Lance, some AOE (Area of Effect) or are DOT's (Damage over time) like Malignant Cloud.

The game has an interesting stealth mechanic whereby your party can sneak around an enemy avoiding a potentially messy confrontation. Or, it can be used to allow you to set your party up in the most optimal manner to engage. Pop a caster or ranged party member at the back or flanks, and get your tanks ready to roll in for melee! Invest in the Mechanics skill if this sounds like something you are interested in.

Boars

Anyone who has seen the South Park parody of World of Warcraft will remember the boys having to defeat boars to level up their characters enough to take on the high level meanie who was ganking them at every opportunity. Boars are a bit of a running joke in World of Warcraft. I know I myself have killed many of them. Repeatedly killing something basic for the sole reason of levelling up is known as "grinding". Well the boars in the world of Pillars of Eternity will breathe a collective sigh of relief to find that they are safe from grinding, the Experience mechanic in the game does not reward Monster kills. Instead, party members are rewarded with XP through progression through quests in the game, whether they be main or side quests.

I am not sure how I feel about that; I think you should be rewarded for taking on monsters around your level, if you don't feel like questing. That being said, I prefer the no reward mechanic in Pillars to the ridiculous "monsters auto-level with you" mechanic in Oblivion / Skyrim.

Is it fun?

Well, yes! Mind you, this game is not for everyone. It's a game that truly respects the genre, but if you are a diehard Call of Duty fan then perhaps this isn't for you. Be prepared to do lots of reading and to have some quiet moments wandering across a map.

This is a great game which has been lovingly crafted and gives me real hope for the Kickstarter approach to games in future. It has been created by fans of the genre for fans of old school RPG's and if you ever found yourself lost in hours of party customisation in Baldur's Gate, or laughing at your sidekick Morte in Planescape Torment then this one is for you.

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Sun, 31 May 2015 00:00:00 +1000
Preview: Stranded Deep http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/447-preview-stranded-deep http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/447-preview-stranded-deep Preview: Stranded Deep

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This week’s preview comes to us courtesy of Beam Team Games.  I was skeptical when I first fired this game up I mean, how enticing can a game be when it’s still lacking the ability to actually WIN it.

Yes you heard right, you can’t WIN at Stranded Deep. That is, you are a castaway and you can’t actually be rescued. Yet.

Winning in games isn’t all about the cut scene at the end with the cheesy music, sometimes just surviving in the face of adversity is reward enough.

review info

Enter Stranded Deep. It’s punishing in that if you don’t plan ahead, and make sensible decisions, YOU WILL DIE.

You find yourself the unlucky occupant of a plane crash which puts you in the middle of the ocean with just an emergency blow up raft and a bottle of Evian Natural Spring Mineral water. A far cry from the luxury of the plane you were just on and the Martini you just poured.

Ah luxury. What is a luxury? One man’s definition of trash can be another’s treasure.  This game taught me that when you are stranded on an island, something as mundane as a dead crab can be considered a luxury. A bucket to store sea water in to boil into fresh water is a luxury. A couple of bandages – well that’s just downright decadent!

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In the words of the developers, Stranded Deep is “infinitely procedurally-generated and full of different biomes. Areas will not be incomplete or locked off; instead, the biomes and world generation will evolve as development progresses.”

In other words, the game is entirely open world.  It generates new areas on the fly.  This ranges from new islands to explore, ocean floors, ship wrecks, etc.

Stranded Deep is different every time you play it.

Essentially the game requires you to set up camp, scavenge for bits and pieces to make yourself more comfortable, make weapons,  hunt animals, pick plants, cook, build dwellings and chill out, when you get a spare moment.  I say that because you wear a fancy watch which monitors your food intake and hydration levels as well as your overall health, and the thing drops bars frequently, beeping to remind you to pay better attention to your vital signs.  Remember those things from the 90’s that were like virtual pets – Tamagotchi’s?  This watch is your Tamagotchi.  Respect it!

Crucially, the Tamagotchi watch tells you how many days you have survived as a castaway.  It’s worth bragging to your mates if you can get through a week without carking it!

The islands are cruelly only big enough to sustain you for a while, maybe a week or two, you are then placed in a situation where you have no more firewood to cook food with anymore and you have to head out onto the cruel sea to find another item or shipwreck to scavenge resources.

I’m hoping not to sound overly dramatic here, but I have to say it’s this point where you are leaving behind “home” where the game is incredibly moving.  Without any proper way to navigate (until you find a compass),   there is a very good chance you will not find your way “home” and will never see it again.

It happened to me, suffice to say it was hugely disappointing, however before I knew it I had set up camp on a new island and pretty much forgotten about the old one!

Maritime navigation is a huge part of this game. Once I spent an entire evening sailing to a distant island which looked promising only to get disoriented and end up back at the island I had started at! 

This might sound crazy but you would be surprised how disoriented you can get when you can see 7 or 8 islands on the horizon, all at different distances and you are on a blow up raft, getting belted around by winds and sharks.

Another time I sailed to another island to get wood, using the sun to navigate and feeling pretty smug about it, got blown around in a gale and lost visibility due to a storm. I thought I’d never see home again, but somehow found it, talk about a relief!

There are moments the game is punishing and difficult, sharks will frequently try to rip you to pieces (you do get some warning when they are approaching in the form of some daunting music).  Found a cool item like a pair of binoculars or some morphine?  Awesome, don’t put it in your raft and expect it to be there when you get back to your island.  Stuff just falls out!  Once or twice I found myself in desperation, digging around on the ocean floor trying to find something that had evacuated itself from my raft.

Cook your food.  Because raw food gives you Delhi Belly. But you know what, toughen up Princess.  Nature takes no prisoners!

Items have durability and need to be managed.  Cutting down palm trees blunts a pocket knife pretty quick as you’d imagine.  The beautiful thing is you can stockpile items like homemade axes and hammers and store them in your self-made shack where they are safe.  You can go travelling for days and visit other islands galore only to return to your fabulous island to find your shack with all the items in it just as you left them! 

Graphically this is a great looking game, sunlight and moonlight create dappled shadows through the trees that add a lot of atmosphere and realism.  Items exhibit ragdoll physics that appear very realistic, for example the wonderful effect of felling a palm tree and watching it crash to the ground.

There are a few bugs to iron out, as you’d expect with any Alpha release. 

Shipwrecks can spawn on islands and it’s possible to get stuck in them.

I found the equivalent of “Wilson” from the Tom Hanks Movie Castaway, I was so excited I accidentally threw him and he landed IN, yes IN a rock and I couldn’t retrieve him.  The whole experienced reduced me to tears in true Tom Hanks fashion.

There are some other things – i.e. not a single bird in the game, limited variety in fish, animals and predators, but it’s to be expected in an early release.

Beam Team Games are onto something pretty special here.  I really hope they open this one up to the Modding community at some point.  I’d also love to see a co-op mode, this sort of survival game would be perfect for that, one member could gather wood whilst the other hunted etc. etc.

Stranded Deep is currently tracking as “Very Positive” on Steam user ratings with just over 6000 votes so it comes as highly recommended, even at this early stage.

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DID I MENTION IT’S A GOOD LOOKING GAME?

buildstuffLOADS OF WOOD TO BUILD STUFF WITH, AND SOMEONE GAVE ME CRABS!

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THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD SLIP SLOP SLAP KIDDIES

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FLARES WORK UNDERWATER - WTF?

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MMM STINGRAY FOR SUPPER

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BUILDING A PALACE FIT FOR A KING

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APPROACHING LANDFALL

home
HOME!!!

wollie
WOLLIE!!!

shark
THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR TERRORISING GELATI MAN!

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +1100
PAX Melbourne 2014 Gaming Wrap http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/430-pax-melbourne-2014-gaming-wrap http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/430-pax-melbourne-2014-gaming-wrap PAX Melbourne 2014 Gaming Wrap
PCG Resident gamer guru James Torrisi (aka GelatiMAN) gives us his impressions of the PC fare at PAX Melbourne 2014.

From Friday 31st October 2014

PCgamers headed to the Melbourne Convention Centre to mingle with gaming enthusiasts and industry figures in a quest to savor the upcoming games across the AAA and indie space.

World of Tanks

Wargaming kicked us off with a keynote featuring a couple of charismatic MC’s and a speech from their Marketing Manager, Belarus based Max Chuvalov.  They went on to showcase the hugely popular World of Tanks, and provide a sneak peak of the yet to be released World of Warships which looks very impressive.

It dawned on me just how big World of Tanks is when a random kid picked from the audience was able to recite correctly the tank with the biggest caliber gun – out of the 300 odd tanks currently available in the game!

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Wargaming’s Max Chuvalov kicks off proceedings. Cool name eh?

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World of Warships is in Alpha and looking sweeeeet.

Follow World of Warships here along with the millions of other hooked peeps!

http://worldofwarships.com/

League of Legends

League of Legends featured heavily with an impressive big-screen stage setup hosting the Oceania Regional Finals.  Of all the games at PAX, LOL (is that really the acronym) had the biggest following and seemed to generate the most energy from the fans. It was packed whenever there was activity on the stand.

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LOL fans amass to watch the carnage

The Big Guys / AAA Titles

Of the big names, Farcry 4, Assasin's Creed: Unity, NBA 2K15 and anything Oculus related generated a lot of interest. It was standing room only at the Ubisoft booth and the queue to get hands on with Oculus was more than 30 long before the doors had even opened to the general public. I for one am beside myself with excitement over this one, Farcry 3 was and still is one of the best games I have ever played.

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Farcry 4 – We love Sandbox games here at PCG

Bethesda showcased their anticipated 2015 release – Battlecry, an online team based battler which looks interesting. Again, there was a huge following for Bethesda and the queues would have tested the commitment of many. 2K games had a big showing of Borderlands – the presequel, which will appeal to fans of the previous games in the series. The demo systems were getting a pounding every time we went past.

Overall in the AAA space there was some interesting titles but nothing especially new or innovative. 

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A mean looking dudette and dude.  Anyone recognize them? They look consoley.

Indie Games FTW!

We headed over to the Indie pavilion to look at the little blokes, and to be honest that’s probably where we were found ourselves the most pleasantly surprised. These booths were mostly understated but the developers were there to answer questions and their demos were generally pretty good with a few real stand outs. My fellow writer Phil handed me the controls and said "James, despite having the biggest pile of shame known to mankind on your Steam account, you have earnt the right to put these games through their paces."  Glad he did because I had a blast!

Influent

First up was Influent, coming to us from the San Fran based Rob Howland and Three Flip Studios.  Rob was onsite to help explain the game to me and came across as a very cool guy with some great ideas.

The game works by putting you in a 3d world with a control mechanism you will be familiar with, WSAD with Mouse Look.  As you explore the world and click on objects, however mundane, the game will recite the object name to you in your language of choice.  In my case it was Mandarin.  After collecting 10 words you are presented with a time challenge whereby you need to pick the objects out as the words are presented back to you.  This type of visual based learning is very effective, and on my first go I got 70% of words correct, some of which I remember now!

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Here I’m trying to get to grips with Mandarin, hell, I have enough trouble with English!

If you don’t feel like walking around selecting objects the traditional way, the game lets you take a small model plane around and shoot the objects with lasers which adds a fun element to the game!

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If you suck at Mandarin, maybe you don’t suck at being a pilot – or do you?

Overall I was impressed at how fun this made learning a new language.

Check it out here on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/274980/

Lost Sea

Next up it was over to East Asia Softs display of their new action RPG survival game - Lost Sea.  We spoke to Developer Aidan Price who explained the game and some of the benefits of using the Unity engine for developing.

This game had its hooks in me quickly, the premise is that your ship is wrecked on an island, and to get off it you need to find materials to repair it and hire some crew to go with it.  Sounds simple, but the problem is the island is full of nasty monsters.   The game is also randomly generated in that no island is the same as another so there is always a surprise factor. 

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Crack open crates for supplies!

I had fun hacking and slashing monsters and being able to deploy powerful totems with some direct damage and DOT (Damage over Time) attributes was an interesting game mechanic which introduced a Diablo action-RPG feel. 

The game will be released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2015. Definitely one to watch. 
Follow it here: http://www.eastasiasoft.com/index.php/press/press-releases/113 and vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

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Totems have cool powers

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Don’t be deceived by the cutesy graphics, when the monsters come out at night it’s scary!

Defect SDK

3 phase Interactive are a Melbourne based Indie software house.  Their first release, Stunt Star was a success on a plethora of platforms, now they have turned their attention to Defect, an action game combining real time strategy elements and an interesting back story.

Basically, your crew are a bunch of meanies and mutiny against you kicking you off your own ship.  It’s now up to you to build A BIGGER ship to go and hunt down the meanies.  And then you get kicked off that ship. And so the cycle of mutiny and retribution continues!

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David Bowie makes a return as Ziggy Stardust in Defect

The ship building mechanic looks very interesting and developers Chris Burns and Paul Baker tells us there are a ridiculous amount of combinations and permutations for creating ships, each with their own advantages and tradeoffs.  For example, putting bigger guns on your ship means you need to make it bigger, with an obvious hit to power.  As developers they are constantly grappling with balance, if they can nail that aspect they may have a gem on their hands.

The guys also use a Unity development platform and the game looks very polished with some impressive lens flaring visual effects.  The game worlds are currently linear but they may be procedurally generated in future with an update.

One of the main strengths of this game and one here we are very excited about at PCG is the ability to design your ship on a mobile platform such as an IPad, for later import into the main game.  Perfect for the train and Melbourne’s flaky public transport system!

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Note to the right of shot someone designing a big-arse ship to import into the game the blow up another big-arse ship

Follow the progress of Defect here: http://sdkgame.com/

Submerged

Uppercut games were formed by some of the guys that bought us two of our favourites here at PCG – Bioshock and XCOM so they have a rich pedigree, and it shows in the quality of their imminent release – Submerged which looks very impressive.

This one had a Tomb Raider feel to it but the completely foreign and perhaps fantasy setting made it very compelling (a clock tower in a tropical setting certainly unusual).  The graphics speak for themselves and the musical score was very moody, setting the scene well.

The game starts you off with the task of finding somewhere safe to put your sick brother, I quickly headed into the clock tower and gently placed him on a makeshift bed.  Next, to find some supplies.  I scaled up the clock tower and had a look with a telescope for some supplies, eventually finding some. Now to plot a way over there.

I like these types of survival sandbox games, Farcry, Stalker, Tomb Raider etc. and am very keen to see how this one turns out.

Check out the trailer below and follow development progress here http://www.uppercut-games.com/submerged/
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Stared at the eye candy on the title screen for waaay too long!

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Just had to include this screenshot, this game is better looking than most.

Satellite Reign

The final title that really grabbed our attention was from 5Lives Studios called Satellite Reign. This is an openworld cyberpunk class based strategy game with some really imersive lighting effects and intuitive viewing angles. The gameplay allows you to choose your style based on your team selection so it can be a game of stealth, action and carnage or perhaps propaganda and revolution. When we walked passed it, the gameplay on the screen took us back to the classic from Bullfrog 'Syndicate" - which makes sense because Satellite Reign is from the creator of Syndicate Wars. We'll be watching this one closely because it looked pretty slick and generated warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia from the 90's for a few of us old enough to remember. This is also a kickstarter title and you can get on board at http://satellitereign.com/

See the pre-alpha play through you tube video below
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All up, PAX Melbourne 2014 was a fantastic event and a great opportunity tro interact and support the developers who strive to entertain us (and earn a living at the same time). We were grateful for their time and patience, especially the Indie guys who were so proud and passionate about their work. See you next year guys!

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Wed, 05 Nov 2014 20:05:58 +1100
Gelatiman's Top 10 of All Time (Part 2) http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/428-gelatimans-top-10-of-all-time-part-2 http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/428-gelatimans-top-10-of-all-time-part-2 Gelatiman's Top 10 of All Time (Part 2)
After an absence due to cataract surgery, the Gelatiman is back with Part II of his top 10 of all time and he's making no apologies.. Check out part I  here


Gelatiman avatar

 

Gelatiman's Top 10 PC Games of All Time - Part II

 

5).  Half Life – 1999

The game that put Valve software on the map, and perhaps without it we wouldn’t have Steam, which is significant.

The year was 1999 and I had just joined my first IT company and was starting to cash paychecks, so what did I spend my money on?  Healthy food I hear you say?  No, a meaty rig to play this game!  Rocking an AMD K6-2 CPU with 3DNOW! (Marketing gimmick) and a Voodoo Banshee graphics card this game ran pretty well. 

And what an amazing game it was.  Brilliant storyline, dark setting, amazing weapons and level design.  But where it really shone was in the multiplayer and add-on arena.  It should never be forgotten that the Half Life engine gave us the original Counterstrike and Team Fortress.

Yeah the graphics are a bit pox by today’s standards and I probably won’t play it again, but this title was a trailblazer for the genre and to me it has to make the top 5.

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4).  Diablo 2 – 2000

Diablo 2 took an already excellent precursor and amped it up into an epic.  With 7 characters types for selection (2 were added in the Lord of Destruction expansion) and 4 huge acts, the game was an intense action RPG which surprisingly didn’t need great hardware to run, despite looking great.

The aim was to kill Diablo which was hard enough, but Blizzard being the sadists they are decided to introduce a Hardcore mode, which meant that if you died your character was lost forever and you had to restart the entire game.   I mean as if it wasn’t mean enough that it is impossible to save the game unless you have found a waypoint – bad luck if you need a toilet break!

The multiplayer was fun.  A mate and I used to team up over Battle-Net.  This guy was a pro and knew how equip his Sorceress with a rune combination in her staff which basically gave her unlimited mana.  Dem baddies didn’t stand a chance after that!

Many have copied this game since. Torchlight which is fun and the excellent Path Of Exile (check it out if you haven’t already, it’s free), but none have quite nailed the dark setting and feeling of D2.  Even Diablo 3 fails to recreate the magic.  A classic.

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3).  Grand Theft Auto 3 – 2001

Rockstar games completely rewrote the engine that gave us the top-down perspective GTA 1 and 2, and produced this masterpiece; a 3D sandbox, effectively the same thing we see with the recently released GTA 5 some 13 years later!

Graphically, it’s amazing, even now. Do yourself a favour and have a read on some of the challenges the developers faced getting this engine to move so smoothly on 2001 hardware.

The feeling of sheer freedom in this game is something to behold. Play through the storyline or just do whatever the hell you want! It’s fun to see how much you can wind the cops up! Buy property.  Pick up a prostitute. This is the game every parent fears their kid is gonna play, hence the R-rating.

If you do play through the storyline, expect to steal rare sports cars, assassinate people of interest,  deal with the mob, avoid cops and make bucket loads of cash.  Basically everything I wanted to do if I didn’t get myself into IT!

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2).  Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty – 2010

It feels like this game has been around forever but it’s not all that old.  It seems so familiar because it builds on Blizzards excellent Starcraft 1, which really was just a refinement of Warcraft 2.  With the exception of Command & Conquer and Total Annihilation it’s fair to say Bliz have been the kings of the RTS for some time now.

Wings of Liberty kicks of the Terran campaign, last year we had Heart of the Swarm which was the Zerg expansion and now hopefully this year we will get the Protoss oriented Legacy of the Void (no official release date has been set yet).

It’s hard to explain this game to the uninitiated.  The campaigns are great but at its heart this is a multiplayer game.  The balance is amazing. And I mean AMAZING.  All 3 races have different strengths and weaknesses but as a whole they cancel each other out, effectively making this a purely skill based affair.   I once heard someone explain SC2 as a giant game of rock, paper, scissors. Spot on I say, it could be said the Terran are the rock (ultra-defensive), Zerg are the paper (its everywhere) and Protoss are the scissors (they will cut through you with their tech).

Check out twitch TV to see some of the pros (players I mean, not the GTA variety!) in action.  There is some serious incentive to get good at SC2 with $1.6 million in prize-money on offer in 2014 alone!

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1).  World of Warcraft – 2004

Yeah I know it’s a Bliz game again!  3 inside the top 5.  Sorry about that.  Honestly I reckon they make the best games hands down.

I was relatively late to the WOW scene – 2007 I think it was when I started playing.  I quickly got my wife playing as well so she would understand why I was putting in the hours I was and she wasn’t seeing me much.  “Look babe, you can make a cute little Gnome with pink hair that shoots fireballs, and you can pick flowers and ride around on mechanized chooks and and and….” 

In truth I had her at the pink hair bit…

Yeah Blizzard have milked the hell out of this game with 4 expansions and a 5th to follow. Still no sign of WOW going free to play. After pumping some 176 days of play over 6 years into the game I no longer have a WOW subscription and boy is my bank balance happy about that.

Again I come back to balance, and this game has amazing balance.  Classes are balanced.  Raids are generally fair.  Don’t enter a dungeon if you are chasing loot or glory you don’t deserve.  The game will quickly smack you down.

Read my first blog post on the competitive nature of raiding.  WOW is the closest thing to going a few rounds of squash with your best mate.  Competitive, sweaty, fun and a complete zone-out.

It’s now possible to play to level 20 for free with a digital download of the WOW Starter edition, I encourage you to give it a shot but don’t blame me if you become utterly addicted!

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Mon, 06 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +1100
Gelatiman's Top 10 of All Time (Part 1) http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/410-gelatimans-top-10-of-all-time-part-1 http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/410-gelatimans-top-10-of-all-time-part-1 Gelatiman's Top 10 of All Time (Part 1)
The Gelatiman has decided to count down his top 10 of all time and there is going to be some controversy as he shows his age. Anyway, here is the first part counting down from 10 through to 6, more to follow..


Gelatiman avatar

 

Gelatiman's Top 10 PC Games of All Time.

 

10). Wolfenstein 3D - 1992

The game that kicked off the First Person Shooter revolution, and made me believe my PC was a bit more capable than a good Commander Keen rig! Wolf 3D taught me to strafe, shoot, and search for hidden passages all at once. Watch out for those blue machine gunner dudes! Graphics-wise she was a thing of beauty. Groundbreaking pixelated sprites would scale to give the impression of a closer object. A nice colour palette gave the game a cartoony but pleasant look.
Wolf 3d also gave me a reason to crank up my 16 bit ISA Sound Blaster with beautiful war-era musical scores with some impressive (but slightly daleky) voices. A classic.

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9). DOOM - 1993

Something happened to me when DOOM came out. I went from being a fairly happy-go-lucky 15 year to a nervous jittery wreck. At the time this game was utterly terrifying. The dark lighting, the demons that would come out of nowhere, the screams, even just seeing the word "DOOM" in uppercase makes me recall this special but spooky time!
Another FPS yes, and perhaps the spiritual successor to Wolf 3d – but with some added realism. Monsters could shoot at you from atop ledges. Plasma bursts would seemingly illuminate a room. Conserve ammo whatever you do or some big hairy orange giant eyeball demon will pull your pants down. A classic, pumping heavy metal soundtrack added real urgency to the game. Alas, my 2MB of RAM could not contain the beast that is DOOM, and I had to beg my parents to buy me another 2MB; just so I could run it. That was all fine and good but with a 386 SX-25 and a half megabyte graphics card I was limited to running the game in pretty much the smallest window in low detail mode. Who cared though – I had DOOM!

4.Doom5.Doom6.Doom

8).Eye of the Beholder - 1991

A friend of mine introduced me to Eye of The Beholder.That same friend introduced me to Barbarian on the Commodore 64, Golden Axe in the arcade and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. You might say he sounded like a violent fellow but that couldn't be further from the truth. He was a trailblazer in the world of hack and slash games. Eye of The Beholder was a hack and slash – if you wanted it to be. Your party could be made up of magic or bow users if you wanted.
The game was at its heart a RPG, and was bought to us by TSR and Strategic Simulations INC. It carried the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons certification, without the stigma of the board game.

Some of the puzzles were real brain teasers – I recall one room I entered only to find myself trapped. It literally took me 2 weeks to get out. The room required me to walk around it in a certain pattern and through walls to be able to come out the other side. Forget intuition here!

The game wasn't turn based which meant combat was pretty exciting, and meant a fair bit of juggling weapons and spells between characters, get your timing wrong and POW! – the skull and crossbones would appear in the fallen characters portrait and he or she would be no more – that's unless you carried a cleric in your party with resurrect skills.

7.EotB8.EotB9.EotB 

7). Dune 2 - 1992


The Godfather of resource management and real time strategy! Pick a House – the noble Atreidies, The Insidious Ordos or the evil Harkonnen, bring your troops to Dune, fire up some Harvesters and mine Spice Melange whilst laying waste to every other
gosh darn race on the planet! I have no idea what happened to the Fremen – I thought you helped them out in Dune 1 so why they don't make a presence here is beyond me!
Anyway Dune 1 was a completely different game, and excellent in its own right. The step into unknown territory with this game format must have been unnerving for the publishers – but boy did they pull it off. Remember this is the precursor to Starcraft, Warcraft, Command and Conquer, any other top down RTS you can think of.

Its old now, a bit daggy, but unlike the movie I still love it. Nothing like taking a bunch of rocket launchers up the side of the map and startling the surprisingly good AI.

 10.Dune211.Dune212.Dune2

6). The Elder Scrolls 3 –Morrowind - 2002

Morrowind introduced me to the world of Sandbox RPGs and the feeling of freedom in a game. Nothing about the game felt linear. Decisions had lasting effects and everything had to be carefully considered before making any rash judgments. Yes it was fun to launch fireballs at the innocents in the township, but the games Darwin mechanism would step in and make sure you paid for it one way or another!

The character creation and RPG elements were deep, and the combat was gritty and fun. Honestly the game is not that different to Skyrim, that's how much they got right with this game. But in some ways this game was better. The music was moodier, and something about those purple moonlit starry skies – WOW, if this is Tamriel then I would love to visit; minus the homicidal maniacs of course.

13.TES314.TES315.TES3

 

Stay tuned for part 2 where we count down the Top 5..

 

 

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Sat, 10 May 2014 00:00:00 +1000
What the Gelatiman is playing http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/394-what-the-gelatiman-is-playing http://pcgamers.net.au/index.php/component/k2/item/394-what-the-gelatiman-is-playing What the Gelatiman is playing
Let me introduce our latest contributer, the Gelatiman. His steam collection is extensive and very diverse but unlike many 'Steam Hoarders", Gelatiman has actually played most of the titles in his library for more than 5 minutes. A PC gamer with over 20 years behind the keyboard, we welcome him to the…


Gelatiman avatar

Lately I have had some flashbacks to my finest days as a gamer. In the middle of June 2007, Blizzard release the Burning Crusade expansion as a follow up to World of Warcraft.  To me, it was the pinnacle of the series which has gone on to see another 3 highly successful expansions .   This was the most competitive fun I have ever had as a gamer.  Being in a guild of 120 or so people, and being selected alongside my RL wife by our Guild Master to run through the game's high end dungeons in a "Raid" group for phat lootz and Guild bragging rights was a privilege, but also stressful as well.  Why stressful you ask?  Well if you weren't pulling your weight and performing you would lose your spot, and sometimes be chastised for it!

My character was a Shadow Priest and her primary role was as a damage dealer with some healing and mana recovery ability.  I recall we all had mods that allowed us to see Damage output.  Fine grained details such as Damage Per Second (DPS),  Damage Over Time (DOT), Critical Damage etc was mapped, graphed and made public to all in the Party and analysed in painstaking detail.   Thankfully my Shadow Priest was always up amongst the top damage dealers – this was in part due to the sheer amount of time I had spent studying the mechanics of the game and keeping my character current with the best gear and equipment.

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Since those days I have not been able to find the same competitive excitement.  Over Christmas I fired up WOW again and whilst it was fun to solo a new Priest to level 30, the game felt a bit stark and empty compared to those days. Former Guildies have moved on to other games and I wasn't sure I wanted to return to the days of Guilds, late nights, raids, responsibility etc.

Instead, I fired up a free to play Action RPG called Path Of Exile which is made available to us by NZ based Grinding Gear Games.   I am having a blast with this game!   Think Diablo 3 but with undoubtedly the most crazy skill tree ever invented (we are talking hundreds of skills), some very solid and fun gameplay mechanics and of course phat lewtz!  The crafting system is also brilliant and actually makes you WANT to craft stuff.

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I have teamed up with my wife for some fun dungeon crawling action and there is always a nice adrenaline hit when a big monster goes down and the floor lights up with shiny shiny lewt!  But the game is really a solo experience, this is not a knock on it but anything you can accomplish in a team in Path Of Exile, you can do solo.   As opposed to WOW which forces you to team up because a).  On your own the monster would one-shot you (kill you with one hit)  and b).  The monster can only be killed using a strategy which needs to be executed near perfectly – with everyone playing their specific part correctly.

WOW remains my favourite game of all time, and I still find myself yearning for the days of preparing for and being part of the execution of a successful Raid.  I am not sure a solo experience can ever compare to the feeling of a team accomplishment of achieving the next to impossible i.e. downing a boss of nightmarish proportions (Prince Malchezar in Karazhan) – followed by the sheer bliss of winning the subsequent /roll amongst party members for that final piece of gear needed to perfect my character (THAT dagger)!

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jamestorrisi@gmail.com (Gelatiman) Gelatiman Gaming Thu, 06 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +1100