Coronavirus: Telecom Italia says internet traffic up 70%+, mostly online games like Fortnite, Call of Duty

The death toll in Italy's coronavirus outbreak today passed 1,000.

Schools throughout Italy are completely shut down, which is reportedly driving a surge in internet traffic as bored kids forced to stay indoors turn to online games. Read the rest

February is "Snag-a-Normie" month in tabletop gaming

The online gaming portal, OnTableTop (formerly Beasts of War) is trying to establish February as "Snag-a-Normie" month. The idea is for tabletop gamers to try and bring their friends and family over to the dark side, to expand the hobby gaming community, and to find more players for yourself. As a life-long tabletop gaming enthusiast, I am all for this.

As my Snag-a-Normie contribution for the month, I thought I'd share a few ideas for what I think are great gateway games for getting newbies interested in tabletop miniature games, card games, and fantasy and sci-fi board games. These choices represent my particular interests, so this is far from a universal list. YMMV.

Wildlands - This 2-4 person board game with gorgeous ink-washed minis is easy to pick up and really gives players the feel of a dungeon delver without too much heavy lifting learning a lot of rules up front. Most of the action is card-driven. Here's my earlier review.

Keyforge - This card game is cheap to get into. Each player (2) needs a deck of cards and the rules are free online. Every deck is unique, so you're forced to learn to leverage the strengths of the deck you have (and to overcome its weaknesses). The rules can be a little fussy to understand at first, but once you get beyond that, it's pretty straight forward. My review.

Escape from the Dark Castle - My girlfriend is not a gamer, but we've played this dungeon-delving card game together and she loves it. Read the rest

'My hobby is designing and building unique arcade games from scratch.'

This is a really cool homebuilt arcade game project. Read the rest

I love this cheap, mechanical gaming keyboard... and it lights up too!

This Redragon 10-keyless mechanical gaming keyboard has increased my gaming enjoyment.

I moved from controller to KB+M gameplay and things are better! I mostly wanted the insane update that moving to a modern graphics chipset, ram and storage would bring but the increased control of playing games with a keyboard and mouse are a huge bonus.

I settled on this Logitech gaming mouse.

The Redragon keyboard is a tactile delight. Solid and well made it is pleasing to rest my hand upon. The keys offer good resistance and click. Keys also are firmly in place and I do not feel any wiggle or give under my fingers, there is no side-to-side torsion to worry about.

The keyboard itself sits firmly on my desk and doesn't want to slide around as I am pushing W and constantly driving my character forward.

For less than $40 this keyboard is a winner, and helps me be one.

Redragon K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, RGB Rainbow Backlit, 87 Keys, Tenkeyless, Compact Steel Construction with Cherry MX Blue Switches for Windows PC Gamer (Black)by Redragon via Amazon Read the rest

Wolfeye Studios' Weird West is looking like my kind of game

I'm looking forward to Weird West, for a number of reasons. Its hand-painted aesthetic and  top-down tactical game play bring to mind all of the love that I hold for Fallout and Fallout 2 and Wasteland 2—as does the fact that it's full of monsters and other horrific entities that crawl around the desert waiting to carve up any travelers that they come across. the description for this recently announced title reads like a shopping list for all of the shit I adore in a game:

From Wolfeye Studios:

Survive and unveil the mysteries of the Weird West through the intertwined destinies of its unusual heroes in an immersive sim from the co-creators of Dishonored and Prey.

Discover a dark fantasy re-imagining of the Wild West where lawmen and gunslingers share the frontier with fantastical creatures. Journey through the origin stories of a group of atypical heroes, written into legend by the decisions you make in an unforgiving land. Each journey is unique and tailored to the actions taken - a series of high stakes stories where everything counts and the world reacts to the choices you make. Form a posse or venture forth alone into otherworldly confines of the Weird West and make each legend your own.

Currently, it looks like Weird West is only destined to make its way to Steam, but tell me I'm wrong: this title has Nintendo Switch written all over it. Read the rest

Civ VI's Gathering Storm expansion is now available on iOS

I already purchased Civilization VI's The Gathering Storm expansion for my Mac, becasue of course I did. There's not a lot of games that my 2015 13" MacBook Pro Retina can play that I enjoy—Civ is one of them. I've been farting around with Sid Meir's games since the mid-1990s and my enthusiasm for his titles has only been crushed once. Sid, if for some reason you're reading this, Beyond Earth should have been an add-on for Civilization V. All on its lonesome, it was kind of a lame duck.

Anyway, The Gathering Storm.

In this, the second add-on to Civilization VI, players are introduced to the misery of natural disasters. Build on a flood plain, sooner or later, you're going to have a bad day. Set up shop in the tundra and you may be visited by a winter storm. Drought is a distinct possibility and don't get me started on volcanoes. The upside of all of this potential carnage is that, in the wake of some of the disasters, new opportunities to improve the lot of your cities becomes possible. Flooding leads to rich farmland, for example (but, unless you research and invest in technology to stop future flooding your peasants are going to be pissed when everything gets washed out again.) These problems add a welcome layer of strategy to a game that I've shamefully invested close to 100 hours in when I should have been writing my damn book. Now, it's not enough now that you have to worry about being influenced by other civilizations. Read the rest

Logos of videogame consoles from then and now

Graphic designer Reagan Ray compiled more than 100 logos of videogame consoles from 1976 to 2017. (Just a handful seen above.) Oh how I miss the days of the, um, Fairchild Channel F and the Bandai Playdia. Ray writes:

This list covers the second (1976) through eighth (present) generation consoles. According to Wikipedia, there were 687 first-generation consoles produced, so I decided that was a rabbit hole I didn't want to enter. I had fun designing the page to look like an old video game ad or one of those posters that came in Nintendo Power. The TV screen borders even made me nostalgic for playing games on an old crappy 19-inch TV.

Video Game Console Logos (ReaganRay.com) Read the rest

Cosplay of Greatness: 'Isaac Clarke'

Stupendous dedication and execution on this cosplay masterpiece. Read the rest

Visualizing the evolution of the Nvidia GPU (VIDEO)

This is a simple but wonderful little original video that shows each incarnation of the Nvidia GPU, from 1995 to 2019. Read the rest

Bethesda is launching a subscription service for the glitch-fest that is Fallout 76

Fallout 76 has been... not so great. Plagued with problems, bugs and angry players, it was a highly anticipated game that shit the bed almost immediately after its release. Instead of changing the sheets, Bethesda has seen fit to longe in the bed it pooped in. Certainly, they've made efforts to sort the multiplayer survival game out into something playable, but It's fair to say that the damage to the title's reputation has been done.

So, it's surprising to hear that Bethesda thinks that charging players a monthly premium to mess about with private servers and a few additional perks would be a great idea.

From The Verge:

...a $12.99 monthly subscription it’s calling Fallout 1st, which will grant access to premium features. In particular, the membership — Bethesda is calling it a membership and not a subscription — “offers something players have been asking for since before launch: private worlds for you and select friends.”

You’ll get some other perks, too. There’s a “scrapbox” storage container for holding unlimited materials, a monthly deposit of in-game Atoms currency for you to spend, exclusive outfits and other cosmetics, and a new fast-travel option called survival tent. Overall, these appear to be a mix of items you might normally spend real money on in any given month in Fallout 76, and the private world feature, which arguably is the only real benefit here.

I can see how being able to build and play on a server without being attacked every five minutes by other players would be appealing. Read the rest

Review: Untitled Goose Game is a difficult delight

I downloaded Untitled Goose Game to my Nintendo Switch a few days ago. It's the most self-abusive fun that I've had (with a video game, I mean we're all friends here) since I owned an NES back in the day. If you're not familiar with the game's premise and don't care to watch the video, here's the short of it: You are a goose. You're kind of a dick (becasue goose). You fuck people's shit up. Constantly.

Or if you're me, you try to.

The controls of this game are simple. The laundry list of objectives the goose must fulfill before moving on to each new area are simple too. Completing said list to-do list? That's often more difficult. Some tasks are a breeze: scaring a kid so badly that he locks himself into a phone booth to get away from you was a piece of cake. Attempting to steal multiple items from the same person, collecting them at a single drop point? Kind of a pain. If the person you're stealing from sees you take their stuff, they'll give chase. The best policy is to drop whatever you had in your bill as soon as you're noticed: run too far towards your stash of swag and your hard-won loot will be found and returned from whence it came, forcing you to start all over again, often with your loot stashed in slightly more difficult locales than where you first snagged them from. I didn't expect a goose-related game to take careful planning or involve stealth. Read the rest

World of Warcraft publisher suspends pro player for supporting Hong Kong

Blizzard Entertainment, best known for publishing World of Warcraft, suspended a pro Hearthstone player and pulled his prize money because he said, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” during a livestream.

Blizzard, which has a huge and lucrative market in China, determined that Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai's utterance was in violation of a competition rule:

2019 HEARTHSTONE GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o)

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.

According to Kotaku: "Blitzchung’s punishment is an immediate removal from Grandmasters, a withholding of prize money for his participation and a ban from taking part in Hearthstone esports 'for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020.'"

Image: Twitter Read the rest

Burning Cat, a new IRL gaming event by the creators of Exploding Kittens

The creators of the Exploding Kittens game wanted to make an event to "fix the things that were wrong with traditional conventions," that was "actually fun," and had a "giant cat that explodes."

Enter Burning Cat. A two-day event at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland that will feature guest speakers, a giant "ring," an enormous cat statue that will eventually burn, and, of course, lots of games.

About it, in their words:

We’ve attended a lot of gaming conventions. A lot of them. There are things we like. We like the fans. We like the games. We like the creativity. But there are many things that we don’t like. We don’t like that most conventions are basically glorified shopping malls. We don’t like that despite being a gaming convention, very few people play actual games or have actual fun.

So, we decided to reboot the idea of a convention. We decided to build something new from the ground up. We decided to focus on a core philosophy: this is a con you attend if you want to have actual fun. This is a place to observe and/or participate in games, comedy, and creativity. This is a place for tabletop gamers, card game players, casual party game players, families who love games, game makers, or anyone who ever hosted a game night.

Burning Cat is an event for people who are tired of screens and want to have fun face-to-face.

If this sounds fun to you (and why wouldn't it?!), Read the rest

Gaming's #MeToo moment: male fragility versus women's fundamental rights

The latest turn in the Gamergate sage: Zoe Quinn (previously) outed their former partner, game dev Alec Holowka as a sexual and emotional abuser, which prompted others to come forward with their own stories of abuse at Holowka's hands, which led to Holowka being kicked out of his Night in the Woods game project -- and shortly thereafter, Holowka committed suicide. Read the rest

Playable 'Super Mario Bros' 19-foot mural

This is a really incredible game-inspired DIY art project. Read the rest

The Nintendo Switch is the best platform for playing Torchlight 2 on

I love the mindlessness of a good quest-for-loot dungeon crawler. After a long stressful day, playing one for an hour or two gets me right out of my head. They're good games! But, for me, they'll never match the gory, cartoonish charm of Torchlight and Torchlight 2. When I bought my Nintendo Switch, around this time last year, I thought about how great Torchlight 2 would be a perfect port to play on the portable (alliteration, I know. I'm afflicted). I didn't think that it would happen: the game's development studio, Runic Games, closed down in 2017. But here we are: Torchlight 2 was released for the Nintendo Switch this week. After spending a good number of hours with the port, I can tell you that playing the game on a handheld, with control sticks and buttons trumps a keyboard and mouse in every way.

Playing with a joystick provided me with more of a challenge than pointing and clicking at enemies with a mouse. At the same time, it also gave me more of a challenge. Being able to map the Switch's buttons with my various abilities, spells and scrolls? Icing on the cake. Graphically, the game looks a lot tighter: but that could be more about the display resolution than anything else.

My only complaint about the port is that there's no way to tinker with mods like you can with the PC version of the game. But, for $20 Canadian (so, like what: three U.S. dollars?) it's pretty hard to beat the levels of portable entertainment that Torchlight 2 on the Switch delivers. Read the rest

Amazing cosplay art: V, from 'Cyberpunk 2077'

This cosplay project of V, from 'Cyberpunk 2077' is absolutely incredible, and was shared in two parts online by its creator, @aelirenn. Read the rest

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