Updated: Jan 15, 2020 7:21 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday

Disintegration Open Beta Signups

Signups are now underway on this page for an upcoming technical beta for Disintegration, the sci-fi first-person shooter announced last year by Private Division and V1 Interactive (thanks DSOGaming). Word is this will be conducted in English for a limited time in certain territories on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. They also offer recommended PC specifications, warning that lower spec machines may harm the experience:
GPU | GTX 970
RESOLUTION | 1920X1080

CPU | RYZEN 5 1600
GPU | RX 480
RESOLUTION | 1920X1080

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls Found

XSEED Games announces the release of Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, a new installment in the venerable RPG series originated by Sir-Tech. This Windows game can be picked up through GOG.com, Humble Store, and Steam, with each store offering a 10% launch discount for the first week. Here's word: "In Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls players will recruit a party of six adventurers before venturing into vast underground dungeons, choosing between five different races and eight different classes to create a team with diverse skills. With over 100 unique enemy designs ranging from the traditional to the bizarre and dangers potentially lurking around every corner, players will need to remain vigilant and ensure that their party is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Staying true to the series?roots, these dangers will be plentiful卆nd quite deadly." They illustrate the news with the Opening Cinematic and offer more details on the game:
In a faraway land 2000 years before the current era, the god Avrul created the Draguun, a race bearing the bloodline of the dragon gods. They excelled in the mystic arts and built a prosperous civilization, ruling over the world for many years. However, the Draguun were arrogant, and eventually fell victim to their own powerful magic. Their disappearance plunged the world into chaos until the empire of Darua, in the land of Athals, united the people once again. Thus began the age of Athals.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Political Machine 2020 Announced

Stardock celebrates another election year in the US with the announcement of The Political Machine 2020, a new installment in their election simulation. This is expected to arrive in the middle of primary season this spring, though the Steam Listing currently says winter 2020. The official website is now updated for the new version, offering screenshots and details. Word is: "The 2020 edition is a complete rewrite of the game with vastly improved graphics and a more sophisticated simulation that combines polling data, voter enthusiasm, and the most recent US census results to deliver a game that is both fun to play for casual players, and realistic enough for political wonks." Here's more on the game, which includes actual democratic candidates and a made-up republican field that includes a candidate ineligible to run thanks to the 22nd amendment:

Stardock announced its new political strategy/simulation game today, The Political Machine 2020. The PC strategy game allows players to choose a candidate and run for President against either a computer opponent or a candidate controlled by another person over the Internet.

Candidates include the current Democratic front-runners including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, as well as Internet favorites such as Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard. Republican candidates include Donald Trump, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Players can also design their own candidates to take on the campaign trail to win the hearts and minds of American voters.

"This game takes politics and brings them to players in a way that is fun and interesting," said Stardock CEO Brad Wardell. "We use current data to model the US and voters in the game. The game emulates some of the unexpected things a candidate might have to deal with -- natural disasters, national tragedies, economic crises -- and immerses the player right in the middle of the insanity."

The game now features unique ideology trees for the candidates. This allows each candidate to play very differently from one another.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Cats vs Zombies 2. The purring dead. Thanks Ant.

Obituary: WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, The Rock's Father, Dies at 75.

WoW Visions of N'Zoth Live

Blizzard News announces the Visions of N'Zoth content update is now live in World of Warcraft, their enduring premium MMORPG. A Visions of N'Zoth Survival Guide video can help you navigate what's new, which is described below:
The Old God N抁oth has been unleashed from his titanwrought prison, and an ancient corruption has taken root across Azeroth, turning friends into foes and trapping warriors?minds in nightmare visions of a hopeless future. As despair and madness consume the land, the heroes of the Horde and the Alliance will need to fight for their sanity梐nd the fate of their wounded world in this content update.

The Visions of N'Zoth content update is packed with new features, including two new Allied Races梩he fox-like vuplera (Horde) and the crafty mechagnomes (Alliance); the introduction of Assaults and N'Zoth's Horrific Visions; new Corruption-tainted weapons and gear, a new legendary cloak to craft and upgrade桝shjra'kamas, Shroud of Resolve; raid that takes you into the heart of the Black Empire?Ny'alotha, the Waking City; and much more.
Continue here to read the full story.

Shenmue III Battle Rally DLC Next Week

Deep Silver announces the Battle Ready DLC for Shenmue III is battle ready, and will race into the adventure game sequel on January 21st. Here's the battle cry:
Today Deep Silver and YS Net Inc. announce the release date for their first Shenmue III DLC 揃attle Rally?

揃attle Rally?offers fresh gaming activities in a race unlike any other, as contestants engage in head to head battles whilst racing their way through the course.

Furthermore, for the first time in Shenmue III players will have the chance to step into the shoes of another protagonist! In addition to playing the hero of our story Ryo Hazuki, players can also choose the treasure-seeking 揥uying Ren? and making her first appearance in this game, Ryo's sparring partner, "Wei Zhen".

Cross the finish line in first place to win some truly awesome items!

Hockey Manager 20|20 This Month

Publisher/developer netmin games announces Hockey Manager 20|20 will come to Steam, offering an ice hockey simulation that puts you in command of your own franchise. Here's a trailer you can check out, and here are more details:
In Hockey Manager 20|20 you can lead your favourite club in America and Europe, control the financial aspects of your team, train the players, and manage transfers, sponsors and merchandising.

Hockey Manager 20|20 includes 3D action-packed presentations with full control of your own team in real time. Transfers with the Community can be easily executed via the Steam Workshop.

Hockey Manager 20|20 features an editor so you can create any team in the world, including players, jerseys, sponsors and referees. Additionally, it contains the official licenses of the French and Spanish ice hockey leagues.

Project AETHER Next Month

Developer Sleepy Spider Studio announces a February 24th release date for Project AETHER, their crowdfunded twin-stick shooter. They celebrate the news with a new Announcement Trailer showing off gameplay in the bullet hell style you will aether love or hate. Here's word on the game, which will be released on Steam:
Project AETHER is a high-octane love letter to retro twin-stick bullet hell games, as well as the classic giant-mech genre of anime series.

When a mysterious alien force invades from the depths of space, players take control of the prototype AETHER mech unit in an attempt to fight off the advancing threat.

Featuring a customisable loadout comprising of a combination of the player's choice of two swappable ranged weapons and a melee sabre, any AETHER pilot will have the tools needed to take out enemies at both a long and short range. Truly skilled pilots will need to learn to harness the power of all of their available weapons to take down the enigmatic invaders.

Players will battle invading fleets and their giant boss ships across 9 levels, each with their own unique threats. Success will only be assured if quick reflexes and tactical thinking are used in combination with the unique abilities afforded by the AETHER unit.
Continue here to read the full story.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! Early Access This Month

Early Access to Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is coming on January 29th, offering a renewed chance to test your simulated culinary skills without the chance of giving anyone actual food poisoning. This Window game will com to GOG.com and Steam while the full version will come to consoles as well when this comes in Q2. Here's an Early Access Launch Trailer, and Vertigo gaming serves up the following details:
Hit the road in this massive sequel and travel across war-torn America to participate in the Iron Cook National Food Truck Championships with your trusty robot crew Whisk ?voiced by @negaoryx ?and Cleaver ?voiced by @havanarama. Set in the radically-changed USA of 2042, play through the all new story-driven campaign where you cook hundreds of foods ?including many brand new to the series ?across hundreds of levels in a new gameplay structure that has been completely redesigned to deliver fast paced action, or take it easy with the all new Chill Mode that can be toggled on or off at any time!

Play through the campaign via single player or with a friend in local co-op (with the ability to change on the fly), upgrade your food truck with dozens of gameplay-affecting modules, expand your food catalog, and race to the nation抯 new capital in Nashville, Tennessee, to prove once and for all that you抮e still the best chef in the world.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

Following the age-old adage of never putting off until tomorrow what you can put off until the next day, I forestalled switching to Windows 10 for as long as possible. But inspired by yesterday's actual EOL for Windows 7 I decided it was time to make the move. The motivation for this was compounded by the fact that my system has been failing to install various updates over the past several months anyway, so I was only getting partial support for my OS while it was still being supported. I had concerns that whatever was causing this problem might impede my upgrade. Sure enough, trying to upgrade to Win10 cranks along until the first reboot, at which point it fails and reverts back to Win7. Here's the error message I receive: "0x8007001F-0x20006 The installation failed in the SAFE_OS phase with an error during REPLICATE_OC operation." The good news is that there is plenty of advice on the internet on how to fix this, starting with deleting third-party antivirus software all the way through using third-party tweak utilities. The bad news is that none of these have helped me so far. So after trying the upgrade about a dozen times I put this aside. So this morning I had a message from Windows Update saying a new update would apply the next time I rebooted, so hopeful that it would actually resolve itself, I tried that. And proving things can always get worse this resulted in a BSOD. This persisted through a few reboots, but, thankfully, shutting down entirely and starting my system worked. As part of this process I tried using my Win7 install disc to repair my install, but that does not seem to offer this option as expected, it just wants to go ahead and do an install. I assume this is because this is an installer specifically "Intended for distribution with a refurbished PC." Anyway, I will probably just let it go ahead and do a fresh reinstall so I can get the Win10 upgrade going. The good news there is that more and more of one's data and settings are in the cloud and proper backups these days, so it should be easier to get back to where I want to be than if this was 20 years ago. But it's still a pain, to say the least, so wish me luck. Thanks in advance for the inevitable suggestions that I install Linux. =]
Upgrade Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
Link: Cosplaying Politician Elected In Taiwan. Thanks The Flying Penguin.
Stories: This year may finally fulfill the promise of private human spaceflight.
Billie Eilish Set For New Bond Film Song.
Science: Sex delays menopause, study finds. Acleacius.
Gene Tweak Can Extend Life 500% (But You Have to Be a Worm). Fair tradeoff?
Images: Is this what people mean when they say their dog is broken? Asking for a friend.
Media: Scottish reporter falls for Australian drop bear prank.
Sigtuna 揌eavy Duty?U-Lock Picked.
Security Door.

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Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020

Arma 3 Free Week

A free week is now underway on Steam for Arma 3, the latest installment in Bohemia Interactive's military shooter series. The game can be sampled for nothing between now and January 6th, and if you decide you like it, you can keep your progress and pick up a copy for 70% off the regular price, while the game's DLC is also on sale for 66% off. Word is: "During the Free Week, all Steam users will have free access to the Arma 3 base game plus the Arma 3 Apex expansion. This also includes Arma 3's full "The East Wind" singleplayer campaign and the "Apex Protocol" co-op campaign. New players might also familiarize themselves with the game's controls via the "Prologue" tutorial campaign." This trailer celebrates the occasion. Here are more details on the game:
Experience true combat gameplay in a massive military sandbox. Deploying a wide variety of single- and multiplayer content, over 20 vehicles and 40 weapons, and limitless opportunities for content creation, this is the PC抯 premier military game. Authentic, diverse, open - Arma 3 sends you to war.
Continue here to read the full story.

Bot Net: Ramshackle Robotics Demo

The Steam Listing for Bot Net: Ramshackle Robotics now offers a playable Windows demo for Caffeineware's turn-based strategy game where you do battle with an army of robots of your own design. This gives a sample of the game, which is planned for release in autumn of this year after an Indiegogo Campaign planned for next month. Here's a trailer to convey the game's story, and here are some details:
The spaceship is disabled, the aliens have boarded and killed everyone in sight. Help isn抰 coming, and it抯 all on you to take up the roll of the hero, stop the aliens, and save the day. Only one problem; you aren抰 a hero. You don抰 have a badass suit of power armor, or a big gun, or even a crowbar. You are the ship抯 IT guy -- and right now -- you抮e locked in your office armed with nothing but a computer, 3D printer, and a hand full of janitor bots that you've hastily reprogrammed for combat. Your only hope of survival is to send your bots out to explore the ruined ship, find vital resources and upgrades, and build a force strong enough to take back control of the ship. Only then can you get the engines back online and warp to safety. Bot Net: Ramshackle Robotics is a turn-based strategy roguelike about fighting off an army of aliens with jury rigged robots. If that idea appeals to you, you抮e probably in the right place.

Delve into the easy to learn, but hard to master, Behavior System which blends the exciting tight-knit feel of squad based strategy, with the large scale planning of grand strategy. Build and upgrade your robot army with specialized bot upgrades and powerful weapons and items. Turn the tides of battle by gaining control of Stations; key locations that provide powerful bonuses and large scale effects. Learn to outsmart your enemies by exploiting their unique behaviors!
Continue here to read the full story.

Bug Academy Released

Bug Academy is now available on Steam, offering a Windows 2.5D arcade game that puts the payer in control of a swarm of insects. Here's a Launch Trailer, and there's a previously released playable demo you can check out. Here's word on the game, which will hopefully not be plagued by bugs:
??Bug Academy is a crazy action game in which you control a swarm of cute, little insects and try to guide them through a series of lessons and exercises. Break through walls while delivering fridges, send rockets into space using mosquitoes and chili sauce, or catch ghosts with a vacuum cleaner. Finish all the lessons and pass the final exam to become Bug Academy graduate!
Continue here to read the full story.

KUNAI Next Month

Publisher The Arcade Crew and developer TurtleBlaze announce a release date for KUNAI, saying this action game will come to PC and Switch on February 6th. They describe this as an "action-centric quest to salvage humanity from a merciless AI leading a robot uprising, and offer a new Boss Trailer with a look at gameplay. Here's word on the clip: "A new trailer was paired with today抯 announcement, sharing a glimpse of the pivotal showdowns players will need to overcome to succeed with their mission. Dispatched by their evil commander Lemonkus to curb any resistance to the new mechanically inclined world, these powerful foes will demand faultless reflexes as well as a mastery of blade and bullets." Here's a bit more on the game:
KUNAI抯 adventure through its striking war-torn world emphasizes swift exploration and combat; whether it抯 dancing on the heads of enemies with well-timed slashes of a katana, dodging death with grappling hook-esque kunai, or swinging over chasms to discover new areas, KUNAI equips players with an arsenal which makes experiencing every corner of its map a delight.
Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Crowdfunding

  • Aeolis Tournament by Beyond Fun Studio ?Kickstarter. "Aeolis Tournament is a 3D party action game where up to 8 players compete in various game modes based on a simple one-button mechanic. Characters use an air cannon to control the power of the wind and affect their surroundings. It's a high-tempo game in the vein of Fuzion Frenzy with a Nintendo-inspired cartoony and colorful art direction."

Into the Black

Link of the Day: The Deadliest Marksman抯 Cold, Brave Stand. Thanks Max.

Epic Games Store Sales Top $680M; Free Games to Continue All Year

Epic Games announces that sales on the Epic Games Store have now topped $680 million in total, and over a quarter of a billion dollars of that were spent on third-party PC games. They also say they have now given away 73 free games worth a total of $1,455, and that gamers have claimed over 200 million free games. Finally, they also announce they plan to continue to give away one free game per week throughout the remainder of 2020. Here's word:
Happy New Year!

New decade means new games and we抮e looking at a great start with tons of amazing titles coming exclusively to the Epic Games Store in 2020. To kick things off, we抮e extending our weekly free game program throughout 2020. Every single week, come back to claim your game. Once claimed, it抯 yours to keep forever.

Now, let抯 take a look at how far the Epic Games Store has come?br>
Continue here to read the full story.

Marvel's Avengers Delayed

Crystal Dynamics announces a delay to Marvel's Avengers (thanks Gematsu). Word is the super-heroic action game is now due on September 4th after previously shooting for a May 15th worldwide release. Here's word:
To our fans,

At Crystal Dynamics our ambition has always been to deliver the ultimate Avengers gaming experience. In order to achieve that goal, we have made the difficult decision to move the release date of Marvel抯 Avengers to September 4, 2020.

As fans ourselves, it抯 an honor and a privilege to work with these legendary characters and we know what these Super Heroes mean to us and True Believers around the world. When we set out to bring you our vision for Marvel抯 Avengers, we committed to delivering an original story-driven campaign, engaging co-op, and compelling content for years to come. To that end, we will spend this additional development time focusing on fine tuning and polishing the game to the high standards our fans expect and deserve.

The worldwide teams working on Marvel抯 Avengers sincerely appreciate the support you抳e shown us. We thrive on your enthusiasm and feedback and we can抰 wait to show you more. We apologize for the delay. We抮e confident it will be worth the wait.

Scot Amos & Ron Rosenberg
Co-Heads of Studio, Crystal Dynamics

Magic: Legends Beta This Spring

Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios reveal that beta testing of Magic: Legends will begin this spring (or autumn, for those down under). This will offer a first crack at this recently announced action/MMORPG based on collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. Word is: "The first playtest will introduce two new Planeswalkers, the earth-shattering Geomancer and the psychic power-wielding Mind Mage." If you are interested, they are still accepting signups from potential testers on this page. They also now offer a first trailer showing off actual gameplay footage. Here are some details on the game and the first two classes they are revealing:
From the developers behind Neverwinter comes a new top-down MMO Action RPG featuring fast-paced combat inspired by Magic: The Gathering. An ancient force moves in darkness, posing an ever-growing threat to the entire multiverse. Players will experience the power of becoming a Planeswalker as they discover exciting mana-based spells and strategically build out the perfect hand of balanced attacks to control the chaos of the battlefield. While openly exploring the vast planes from Magic: The Gathering, players will fight alongside iconic characters and legendary creatures made popular by the original card game. Key features of Magic: Legends include:
  • Become a Planeswalker ?Players can choose from five diverse classes and switch between different Planeswalkers at any time.
  • Walk Your Own Path ?Players will need to cross various planes to save the multiverse, but how they weave their path is up to them.
  • Control the Chaos ?Control the chaos in real-time combat. Choosing what spells go into each hand requires strategy, as they will be drawn at random during attacks.
  • Collect and Upgrade ?Players will discover a myriad of spells and collect spell fragments to make them more powerful.
  • Fight Together ?The planes in Magic: Legends can be traversed alone or with up to two other Planeswalkers.

Here抯 a closer look at the first two classes announced for Magic: Legends:

Continue here to read the full story.

The Longing in March

Publisher Application Systems and developer Studio Seufz (Studio Sigh in English) announce The Longing, a puzzle/adventure coming to Windows, Linux, and macOS on March 5th. Preorders are now underway on this page. This is based on the Kyffh鋟ser Legend and the twist is how you have 400 days to complete the game after starting, as the timer continues to tick away even when you aren't playing. This trailer shows off the game, which is nominated for the Nuovo Award in this year's Independent Game Festival. Here's a description:
The Longing抯 400 days count down in real time from the moment you start梕ven when you stop playing and exit the game. Your only required task is to awaken the King once the 400 days have passed. So, you could just wait to see how it ends?Or, you can explore the vast cave and eventually decide: will you stick with the King and build a comfortable life for yourself underground? Or will you make a break for it and escape to the world above? The Longing has several endings, and not all of them take 400 days to uncover.

  • Slow exploration of a vast, hand-drawn cave.
  • Atmospheric Dungeon Synth soundtrack.
  • Various endings.
  • Lots of well hidden secrets.
  • Time-based puzzles.
  • A lonely but cute protagonist.

Continue here to read the full story.

LUNA The Shadow Dust Next Month

Application Systems also announces LUNA The Shadow Dust is coming to Windows, macOS, and Linux on February 13th. This represents a delay, as they announced last spring that this was expected last summer. Word is this game offers "a hand-animated indie adventure with calming puzzle-oriented gameplay and a wordless picture-book aesthetic," as shown off in this Final Launch Date Trailer. You can preorder the game on this page and see more details on its listings in stores like GOG.com and Steam. Here's more:
Inspired by the adventure games of old, LUNA The Shadow Dust is a moving tale of two playable companions drawn together in a hand-animated puzzle adventure, featuring a breathtaking original soundtrack and beautiful 2D cinematics.


To light a candle is to cast a shadow

Behind the shadow of reality, an enchanted world awaits illumination. Experience the magical journey of a young boy and his companion as they solve puzzles and trace back the memories of old, brought to life with visually stunning, wordless cinematics.
Enter the ancient tower that stands at the edge of the world and discover the hand-drawn cinematics, intricate puzzles and haunting music of this indie gem.

Key Features
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Out of the Blue

I've recently started to experience a nagging pain just above the wrist along the ulna of my right arm. This is my mouse-hand, and since I work and play on the computer so much the obvious concern is some sort of repetitive stress injury. I've known a couple of sufferers, including former id Software programmer John Cash, and through their experiences I can appreciate just how serious RSIs can be. But this has only just started for me, so I've only consulted with Dr. Google thus far. The good news is this doesn't sound like Carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar tunnel syndrome, at least as far as I can tell. I have suffered on occasion from cubital tunnel syndrome, which went away when I stopped leaning on my elbow when reclining, but this doesn't seem the same as that either. Before we moved I had some arm pain from working in a makeshift environment, and this seems similar to that, so I have adjusted the armrests on my chair to make my forearm more level, and this seems to provide some immediate relief, so I'm hopeful this will take care of it. No one wants an RSI, so I will monitor this and will not put off seeing a doctor if it persists, as from what I read, early diagnosis and treatment is important in such cases.
Painful Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
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Star Trek TV Universe Set to Expand With Two More Live-Action Series on Deck, Says Alex Kurtzman.
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Missouri farmer ran one of biggest frauds in US farm history. Thanks Digg.
Tampa woman faces charges for allegedly making bomb in Walmart. Thanks RedEye9.
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The 100-Year-Search for a Missing Impact Crater Is Over. Thanks RedEye9.
Media: The importance of looting in Red Dead Redemption 2.
New Black Widow trailer introduces a new enemy, Taskmaster.
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Auctions: Australian developers organising global fundraising auction for fire services.
Follow-up: Anti-vaxxers celebrate victory in NJ as pro-vaccine bill falls apart.