Casual Game News

The Elder Scrolls Online Review Diary: Crafting and Exploration

10 hours ago

Crafting isn’t something I generally spend a lot of time with in MMOs. I usually find anything I want can be bought with gold I earned doing something more interesting than clicking “create” and watching progress bars fill up.

The Elder Scrolls Online puts a surprisingly tall – and very enjoyable – emphasis on crafting. I was skeptical at first, but after spending most of an entire day exploring Cyrodiil, gathering materials and custom-building my personal arsenal I’m quite hooked.

You see, crafting isn’t treated like a completely separate aspect of the TESO experience. Each trade has its own skill tree, augmented with the same skill points used to build up a character’s combat abilities. Some might groan at the tough choice between learning a new spell and being able to highlight resource nodes – and it does feel like a sacrifice at first – but it shows how important the developers want crafting to be.

news

In most games, crafting is a gradual, granular slog. You build the crappy equipment until you’ve leveled up enough to make the slightly-less-crappy equipment and so on. TESO makes the time I spend feel worthwhile, as I leave a personal mark on each unique steel snowflake.

Read more »
 

CandySwipe and Candy Crush makers settle trademark differences

Apr 16, 2014

Here’s something I bet you weren’t expecting: Albert Ransom’s trademark troubles are officially a thing of the past.

Ransom, whose company Runsome Apps created CandySwipe, has been fighting King’s Candy Crush Saga trademark since long before “candygate” became a buzzword. And when King applied for the US trademark on the word CANDY, Ransom swore he’d fight that too.

King fired a returning shot by purchasing the trademark rights to Candy Crusher, a 2004 game, and using those older rights to try and have Ransom’s mark on CandySwipe revoked.

In a word, things were getting ugly.

news

But as of today, that ugliness is a thing of the past. Ransom has informed Gamezebo that he and King have “amicably resolved” their dispute. He has withdrawn his opposition against the Candy Crush Saga mark, and in turn King has withdrawn their counterclaim against CandySwipe. “Both our games can continue to coexist without confusing players,” reads an official statement on candyswipe.com.

Read more »
 

Steam user data reveals the best way to do Free-To-Play

Apr 16, 2014

If you want an intense and fantastic example of Real Games Journalism, I recommend checking out Kyle Orland's exhaustive analysis of Steam user data at Ars Technica. It shows some incredibly interesting trends on how Steam users are buying -- and playing -- their games.

What I'm most interested in is what this means for free-to-play games and development in general. The top two games on Steam right now -- both in terms of total users and hours played -- are free-to-play. Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 both cost nothing to play, are essentially multiplayer-only, and started out as paid games. (In the case of Dota 2, that payment was to get into the closed beta.)

Ignoring Team Fortress 2 for a moment, I think Dota 2 is particularly interesting. About four thousand human years have been put into the game since it hit beta in 2011. My Steam profile says I account for nearly 400 hours of that, so I can hardly feign surprise.

news

Steam is estimated to account for three-fourths of the PC gaming market so it's not surprising that a game by Valve, the service's creator, would have a top spot in downloads. Dota 2 gets understandably preferential treatment on Steam's front page just about daily. It's not surprising that a Valve game, according to Ars' statistics, makes up a fifth of total playtime on a Valve service.

Read more »
 

GBA4iOS gets tactile with G-PAD

Apr 16, 2014

While the legality around playing ROM’s is murky at best, that hasn’t stopped GBA4iOS from becoming an insanely popular option for gamers looking to bring a little Game Boy Advance nostalgia to the pockets of 2014.

Besides, until Konami decides to release a proper Castlevania game to the App Store, this is as close as you’re going to get.

The only downside to the app is that, well… it’s an app. iOS devices are touch-screens by nature, and even though the touch controls work incredibly well here, there’s just something missing. Old school gamers sometimes crave a more tactile approach.

news

The G-PAD is the answer to their prayers.

Read more »
 

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 includes The Cave, The Room Two

Apr 15, 2014

It's an odd thing to want an Android device to justify buying games I already own on other platforms. Such is the world we live in where games can be bought for next to nothing, as long as you wait long enough for sales like the Humble Mobile Bundle.

If you're not familiar with the organization (and you really ought to be -- you're welcome) Humble Bundle provides packs of cheap games (and movies and ebooks and albums) on a pay-what-you want basis. If you pay more than the user average, you get a swathe of extras like more games and goodies like soundtracks.

news

This, the fifth Humble Mobile Bundle, includes Android versions of games like The Room Two, The Cave, Carcassonne, Bag It!, Aralon: Sword and Shadow and R-Type II. More games will be added over time, and purchasing now will get you those as well.

Read more »
 

Last Life is ‘Kentucky Route Zero in space’

Apr 15, 2014

At least that’s how it was described to me in a tweet from Andrew Webster, former Gamezebo editor and current scribe at The Verge. And after hearing a description like that, there was no way around it: I just had to learn more.

Now on Kickstarter, Last Life is a murder mystery with a twist:

The murder you’re trying to solve is your own.

“LAST LIFE is a sci-fi noir adventure game for PC, Mac and Linux about a transhumanist colony on Mars,” reads the official Kickstarter page. “When a murdered detective is 3D printed back into existence, he reopens his last case to uncover what he missed--a hunt that reveals AI corruption, corporate espionage, and the conspiracy that may have led to Earth's doom.”

If that sounds as incredible to you as it does to me, you’re not alone. The folks at Double Fine happen to agree with us, so much so that Last Life has become the second game to earn the “Double Fine Presents,” distinction – an initiative that Tim Schafer & Co. have launched to help raise the visibility of deserving indie games that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. 

Read more »
 

Drinkbox Studios' Severed: A little bit Kill Bill, a little bit Fruit Ninja

Apr 14, 2014

The previous game from Drinkbox Studios, Guacamelee! was a wonderful send up of the Metroidvania genre that’s colorful in more ways than one. Its bright Day of the Dead/luchador aesthetic was a cheerful celebration of Mexican culture, while its story and characters were frenetic and entertaining without becoming cloying or clichéd.

Severed looks similarly Central American, but a whole lot more serious. Guacamelee! had its sullen side, but Severed sounds like a tale of revenge. Our warrior protagonist has lost her arm (and possibly more, if I’m interpreting the above trailer correctly) and seeks retribution against supernatural forces.

So far it’s only been announced for mobile platforms, but the devs haven’t ruled out the possibility of bringing Severed to touchsreen devices like Vita, 3DS and even the Wii U. Considering the company’s history with Sony, at least one of those is probably a safe bet.

Read more »
 

UFHO2 dev: Valve doesn't want my game, so torrent it

Apr 14, 2014

Ciro Continisio of Tiny Colossus took to Reddit over the weekend in order to promote his strategy game UFHO2. After nearly two years stagnating on Steam Greenlight, and measly sales through Desura and Humble, Continisio has resigned himself to the fact that "nobody is going to buy it unless it's on Steam" and released a UFHO2 torrent onto The Pirate Bay. The release of the torrent came a little over a week after UFHO2 was released onto the iTunes Appstore where it's available for $3.99.

UFHO2, which stands for Unidentified Flying Hexagonal Object, was posted to Steam Greenlight in August of 2012. Six months prior the game managed to pull in over $10,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign. However, it is worth noting that about half of those earnings came from just around 10% of the backers. 

news

The game is a sequel to the 2007 game, UFHO, also developed by Continisio, which was available to play for free online. The servers for UFHO have since been shut down and the game is no longer playable. 

Read more »
 

Butterscotch Shenanigans and the Art of Speedcrafting

Apr 14, 2014

Butterscotch Shenanigans first appeared on my radar thanks to Gerblins, a cute little puzzle game that was both simple to play and shot through with personality. I liked it quite a bit, but as fun as it was, it didn't inspire me to think of the Butterscotch boys as a potential force in the field of mobile game development. That didn't happen until the March 2013 release of Towelfight 2: The Monocle of Destiny, a game I literally did not stop playing until May of that year, when Quadropus Rampage turned up and sent me on a quest to destroy Pete, the Mad God of the Sea. I'm still playing that one.

I don't want to say that Sam and Seth Coster are a strange pair, but the games they create do make me wonder what's in the water they drink and where I can get some. And now they're in the midst of an even more unusual project: "Speedcrafting," a sort of weekly game jam in which they give themselves ten hours to develop a small but complete game – a "Butterscotch Mini" – from start to finish.

news

"Our current plan for production is eight Minis, one every Monday, though that’s only to give us something to shoot toward should things get difficult. It’s much easier to motivate yourself to do another one if there’s an end in sight," Sam Coster recently explained. "However, they’ve been so useful (and fun to make) that we expect we’ll be doing these until our blood runs cold."

Read more »
 

Civilization: Beyond Earth - because strategy games belong in space

Apr 14, 2014

You know who’s great making PAX East announcements? Firaxis. Last year the studio used the Boston convention to announce the mobile port of XCOM: Enemy Unknown which, yes, managed to live up to the lofty promises they’d made. This year, they decided to go one step further and announce the next entry in everyone’s favorite strategy series, Civilization.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth will take players on a journey into the stars for the very first time (unless you count 1999’s spin-off Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which the devs of Beyond Earth love, but stressed they’re going in their “own direction” from in a conversation with Kotaku).

Following a series of events that Firaxis refers to as “The Great Mistake,” the Earth is looking a little rough around the edges. As a result, humanity sets off to colonize a strange new world. Unlike past games in the series that draw from history, Beyond Earth will be about making choices to shape humanity’s future. 

Read more »
 

Get Gamezebo daily updates in your inbox