Last year saw the release of Raven's Cry, an action-adventure pirate game that promised an immersive open world and historical accuracy. What people got was an incredibly buggy game with poor voice acting and glitches aplenty that would eventually earn a 1/10 "Abysmal" review on Gamespot. The creators addressed the concerns by attempting to fix all the bugs and re-releasing it in November of 2015 under the title Vendetta: Curse of Raven's Cry. Alas, it was eventually removed from Steam two months later after it received some very suspicious positive reviews. If you'd like to see what all the fuss is about, video game aficionado and YouTuber Jerma985 has some great examples of gameplay from both the original and the re-release. (Both NSFW audio)
In a world where electric lightbulbs were still uncommon, Victorian engineers were building steam engines of breathtaking size and power. Two that are still operational today are the beam engine at the Papplewick Pumping Station (beautiful pictures), and the River Don Engine (video) (recreated in Meccano).
Steam's turned toxic, and Valve doesn't care. A tale of community vs. technological moderation. [more inside]
Virtual Reality, a tech geek dream for decades, was long hobbled by high latency, clunky hardware, and perennially absurd reports on network news. That all changed in 2011, when Palmer Luckey, then 18, built the first Oculus Rift prototype in his parents' garage with iPhone repair money. Awed by its powerful sense of presence, developer John Carmack became a fan and demoed it at E3. The ensuing Kickstarter campaign shattered all fundraising goals, and Facebook controversially bought the rights for a whopping $2 billion -- alienating erstwhile partner Valve Software, the iconic creators of Half-Life/Portal/Steam. A Cambrian explosion of headsets followed: Morpheus, HoloLens, Google Cardboard, Gear VR. But perhaps most interesting is Valve's own counter-project: a breathtaking "room scale" VR set-up with Tron-like "Chaperone" and tracked motion controls called the HTC Vive. With this week's commercial launch of Rift and Vive bringing us to the threshold of a new interactive medium, look inside for guides, notes, and killer apps for this, the stunning arrival of consumer VR. [more inside]
Got a hankering to cash in that newly-acquired gift card or just browse the newest Winter Sale? You might be waiting for a while, as the Steam Store is currently very, very down. [more inside]
After a long wait, PC developer/publisher/hivemind Valve have finally begun to roll out their big push for the living room space. [more inside]
If you're a long time user of Steam, you might assume that the current top selling game would be a AAA blockbuster, or maybe a half-finished multiplayer survival game. But for the past few weeks, the gaming world has been completely gripped by a game about cars playing soccer. [more inside]
Sergey Galyonkin, creator of Steam data tool Steam Spy, offers some analysis of use to game developers and of interest to gamers: Some things you should know about Steam.
N&W 611 is coming back. The 4-8-4 took her first steps this week after being removed from the Roanoke Transportation Museum for a year-long rebuild, and will be headlining steam excursions in the Eastern US this summer and presumably for the next 4 years. Retired from revenue service in 1960, she was rebuilt in 1982, but fell silent again in the early 1990's. Now she's back!
After almost 4 years of development, Kerbal Space Program hit version 1.0. Today, Kerbal Space Program reached a major milestone, declaring the release of version 1.0 and the removal of the "Early Access" label. [more inside]
Steam has released news that they will be adding a paid marketplace to one of their most popular workshops (meaning mod database): Skyrim. This GameSpot article has more details about the specifics of what the new mod monetization entails. VentureBeat rounds up the distressed reaction from fans. Here is the FAQ provided by Steam for payments through Workshop if you would like to draw your own conclusions. [more inside]
What is the most popular Steam game of 2014? The answer may surprise you, as it's a free to play game made by sixteen year old Nelson Sexton. (In totally unsurprising news, the game with the most hours played per user is Football Manager 2015.)
"Death #1: Devoured by bats. Death #2: Sailed too close to the Elder Continent; my ship, bones gained sentience." People have been discussing Sunless Sea, the nouveau-Roguelike game just released by FailBetter Games. What else are they saying? Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "...the most delicious collection of words in all of gaming." Eurogamer: "This is the video game at its most mystical and revealing." There is, of course, a trailer. [more inside]
105 miles of steam pipes (NYT video) run beneath the streets of New York, delivering steam to 2,000 buildings for heating, cooling, and other purposes. The system is maintained by Con Edison (1 2 3). [more inside]
1944 Locomotive firing course. Traffic demands during World War II taxed American railroads to their capacity. Orders for new steam locomotives kept the builders busy. Along with the need for more locomotives came the need for men trained to operate them. Responding to this situation, the Education Department of the State of New York, through its State University system and the Bureau of Industrial and Technical Education, published a Suggested Unit Course in Locomotive Firing. The course was prepared by curriculum writers at Seneca Vocational High School in Buffalo, and was issued from Albany in 1944.
Online game retailer GOG--which started (as Good Old Games) with a focus on updating classics to run on modern computers, then branched into offering newer games DRM-free--has announced that they will start selling movies under their DRM-free model. [more inside]
Struggling UK indie developer PuppyGames' uncomfortable truths about selling indie games: Steam and bundles have destroyed the market for games, individual customers are now worthless, but everyone has to keep on smiling. Oh, and the demo is dead: 1, 2.
WYNC's Manoush Zomorodi investigates the gender gap in tech and computer science, and finds a number of people working towards bridging that gap, from childhood to university: completely restructuring a required computer science course to make it more welcoming to female university students, celebrating women in computing history (and recognizing that computer science wasn't so male-dominated, and making children's books and toys (even dollhouses!) for kids to explore programming concepts on their own. She also noticed that the majority of female computer science students in the US had grown up overseas - possibly because computer science isn't a common subject in American high schools. This is slated to change: a new AP Computer Science subject is in the works, with efforts to get 10,000 highly-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the US. If you want to join Mindy Kaling in supporting young girls entering computer science, tech, and coding, there's a lot [more inside]
Consider the Holy Bible as a product in a marketplace. It has several attractive qualities, foremost among them the tantalizing possibility that it contains the true word of a being who created the universe. But it has several worrisome drawbacks as well. Like most written anthologies it has poor replay value when compared to something like Spelunky; after you read it once you know more or less how it goes. It features a relatively weak Physical Rights Management scheme; for example, you don't need to purchase one for your household if you can simply borrow it from a friend or read it in a local church. Even its branding as a 'perfect document' becomes something of a double-edged sword; the first, purportedly perfect edition might seem very desirable indeed, but who is going to buy Holy Bible: Religious Text Of The Year Edition when the original is supposed to be immaculate? How are you going to make corrections, utilize analytics data or market additional 'content'? Where will your fine sponsors place all their full-page advertisements: After the crucifixion or before?—Form and its Usurpers is a long essay by Brendan Vance [previously] about videogames, Hegel, form, content, what "free" means, how capitalism ruins everything and what to do about it.
Iron, Steam and Coal. Photographer Matthew Malkiewicz captures the timeless beauty of the steam locomotive and steam trains - the steam, the tracks, the folks who run them and just the folks who love them. (Via Petapixel)
Maybe you've tried a pan full of water. Maybe you've tried to find some way to hack up one of those Steam Shark things. Maybe you just open the door and spray. Those days are over, because the best way to get your oven good and steamy to keep your bread crusts thin and crisp has been discovered, it doesn't require anything you won't almost certainly already have around, and it's dead simple.
If you've time to spare, the Unusual Locomotives page is a good index for your perusal. [more inside]
On this date in 1804, at Penydarren Ironworks in Wales, the first locomotive hauled passengers and freight for the first time. Richard Trevithick was the inventor who created it.
You control a group of exiled travelers who decide to restart their lives in a new land. They have only the clothes on their backs and a cart filled with supplies from their homeland.
Created by a single developer, Luke Hodorowicz, Banished reached 13 500 active players* on its first day of release on Steam. [screenshots] [more inside]
Created by a single developer, Luke Hodorowicz, Banished reached 13 500 active players* on its first day of release on Steam. [screenshots] [more inside]
This past week the digital game distribution service Steam unveiled a new beta feature: user contributed tags for games. Unsurprisingly, the feature was quickly abused, leading to Steam introducing means to moderate tag usage. The plus side to all of this is that you can now play a game where you match Steam tags to the games they describe! Steam Tags: The Game
When Jason Rohrer's Castle Doctrine hits Steam later this month, it will be on release sale for 12 dollars. After that, it will be 16 dollars. Forever. Rohrer talks to Giant Bomb about why he thinks constant sales are bad for games. (previously)
Steam locomotives weren't always brute machines. About 220 of them in the United States were streamlined for (mostly) competitive reasons. Some of them were masterpieces.
"Last April, I began working on a game. In October, I released it. This is the story of Eldritch." David Pitman tells the story of developing and selling the roguelike/FPS Eldritch, described as equal parts Lovecraft and Minecraft. Includes lots of lovely sales figures.
The initial beta release of SteamOS became available for download yesterday. Intended to run on Valve's emerging SteamBox platform [Prev] , you can also install it on a fairly modern desktop PC today, presuming it can match up with the adoption-limiting early hardware support requiring UEFI BIOS and Nvidia GPUs ("AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon!"). [more inside]
Twenty years ago tonight, id Software uploaded Doom to an FTP server at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completely changed the video gaming industry. [more inside]
When a liquid is dropped onto a smooth plate that is heated to a specific temperature well above its boiling point, boiled vapor will get trapped underneath the remainder of the droplet insulating it from the hot plate, allowing it to dance around the plate like oil on a wet surface in what is known as the Leidenfrost effect. Intriguingly, surfaces that are grooved into the shape of a saw blade will cause droplets suspended by the Leidenfrost effect to predictably skitter in the direction of the groove, allowing University of Bath undergraduate students Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy to build a fascinating maze. [more inside]
Released today on Steam, Gone Home has garnered praise for its deeply affecting narrative, stripped-down design and a unique aesthetic steeped in 90's nostalgia and riot grrl culture. "When I played Gone Home I had the stunning realization that there could be a game for me. Someone can make a game for me." -Leigh Alexander. "It’s touching, unsettling, deeply honest, and enormously compassionate. -Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "Gone Home is an epic story, but its definition of epic is far removed from how we usually talk about scope and drama in games. It’s epic, personal and revelatory to the people involved, and that’s why it’s so special." -Giant Bomb. Polygon's 10/10 review. How Gone Home's design constraints lead to a powerful story. The Fullbright Company's Journey Home.
An honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately informative postmortem on the positively rated game Retro/Grade presented at the 2013 Game Developers Conference.
"When we first started working on Dustforce, it was frustrating to not be able to find much data about whether indie game development is a realistic thing to do with your life." Hitbox Team helps remedy that for future designers in this article about the finances and sales of their game, Dustforce.
If you've been along the Connecticut river in eastern Vermont, you may have crossed the Samuel Morey Memorial Bridge, relaxed at Lake Morey, or seen some road markers mentioning Samuel Morey. Besides being the second person in the world to be in a car accident, who was Samuel Morey? [more inside]
Steam Greenlight is Valve's initiative to expand their catalog by letting the community vote on the games they want to see distributed (sound familiar?) Developers are generally positive, but issues with discoverability and outright trolling have led Steam to institute $100 entry fee (with all proceeds going to charity) that runs the risk of "[limiting] Greenlight's appeal by crowding out hobbyist developers that ... lack the will or ability to risk $100." In response, Dejobaan Games announced their plan to loan the fee to one aspiring developers and is calling on others to do the same. Meanwhile, the first ten games have made to the coveted Greenlit section.
"Behold the future of video games. Or at least the future as envisioned by a bunch of gamers, programmers, tinkers and dreamers at the Valve Corporation here. This is the uncorporate company that brought us the Half-Life series, the hugely influential first-person shooter game. The Valve guys aren’t done yet. Founded 16 years ago by a couple of refugees from Microsoft, Valve makes games that wild-eyed fans play until their thumbs hurt and dawn jabs through the curtains. But what really makes Valve stand out is its foresight on technology." [more inside]
Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road. -- Stewart Brand
Steam to sell productivity software [main link]. Gabe's dislike of the Windows 8 app store [BBC] may be explained. It's particularly interesting given that Steam is about to launch on Linux [Valve] [previously on Mefi]; it's one app store across all three platforms. [more inside]
The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that people can resell used software licenses. Rock, Paper, Shotgun speculates about what this will mean for gaming, an industry which has embraced digital distribution wholeheartedly.
"If you believe in a principle, never damage it with a poor impression. You must go all the way." Charles Parsons
Unusual marketing technique: an inventor offered a demonstration of his custom-built speedboat design by speeding past security and crashing the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. [more inside]
It looks like the speculation on a near-future market for wearable computers is already heating up. However, the first competitor to the recently-announced Google Glass project comes as a surprise to almost everyone: Valve, the gaming company renowned for Half Life, Portal, and many others, in addition to their digital distribution heavyweight Steam. This will be their first foray into hardware of any kind.
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