Eleven years ago, Wing Commander designer Chris Roberts announced Star Citizen, an online multiplayer game that he said would "change the way people perceive games for the PC." Roberts told Ars' Kyle Orland soon after that he didn't enjoy the four-year development of another hit, Freelancer, because "spending that many years disconnected from your audience, sort of working off by yourself, wasn't creatively fun for me." With Star Citizen, Roberts said he could keep development from dragging on by engaging fans and using a pre-built engine, as opposed to what Roberts said would be "two years" building his own.
Roberts has definitely engaged his audience in Star Citizen, to the tune of $616 million raised from more than 4.8 million "Star Citizens." It has just taken a bit longer than two years to give them a true release.
Roughly 11 years after Star Citizen's initial announcement that included it, then nine years after its first potential release date, Squadron 42, the single-player campaign, is now "feature complete" and has "entered its polish phase." Roberts announced this in a video released Sunday as part of an annual CitizenCon for backers, along with footage from the game and details on its development.
Here at Ars, we've seen time and again how simple web and/or mobile games can be cloned or outright stolen by unscrupulous developers aiming to cash in on someone else's game concept. But developer Josh Simmons was in a unique position to inflict a particularly rude punishment on websites that were directly stealing and monetizing his web game Sqword without permission.
Since its launch last year, Simmons says he has attracted a "steady group of daily active users" for Sqword, which involves placing letters sequentially in a 5×5 grid to make as many valid words as possible. But as noted on Simmons' blog (and noticed by 404 Media), searching for Sqword also brings up several "game aggregator" sites that simply embed the game content from Sqword.com in an iFrame window, only now surrounded by annoying banner ads.
"This made me angrier than it should have—not because Sqword is a cash cow—we don't run ads on the site and don't make money from it, it's just for fun—but because it was a passion project with friends, something pure and intentionally free to play WITHOUT ads," Simmons writes. "It's against my ethos as a developer, there are banners and popups everywhere. If I build an app, I believe it should either be free or it should be upfront about what the subscription or purchase price is (and then not upsell you). I couldn't abide seeing my code monetized in this way."
Valve has announced that it will begin reversing bans incurred by Counter-Strike 2 players that used an AMD "Anti-Lag+" driver, which started setting off the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system earlier this month.
AMD took down version 23.10.1 of its AMD Adrenalin Edition graphics driver shortly after its October 11 launch, following reports that Valve was banning Counter-Strike 2 players that used the driver's Anti-Lag+ Technology.
"AMD's latest driver has made their 'Anti-Lag/+' feature available for CS2, which is implemented by detouring engine dll functions," Valve wrote on social media on October 13. "If you are an AMD customer and play CS2, DO NOT ENABLE ANTI-LAG/+; any tampering with CS code will result in a VAC ban."
"You can sequence break the game," the developers of Space Wreck suggest on its Steam page. The game is "Inch wide, miles deep," with "Combat 100% optional." There is so little artifice to Space Wreck's presentation as a "Hardcore role-playing game," no real sense of wider-audience marketing. Perhaps that's because, after playing it, you get the sense the developers saved all their creativity for the possibilities inside.
The easiest point of comparison for the just-released Space Wreck are the first two Fallout games, the isometric, click-to-move kind, from the late 1990s. That's because Space Wreck's developers, two folks from Latvia, directly point to those games wherever they can. Having sunk hundreds of hours into those games, I see the homage. It's a game with a post-apocalyptic, used-future aesthetic, intentionally clunky graphics, a wicked sense of humor, turn-based combat, and room for lots of builds and strategies.
Full release trailer for Space Wreck
But Space Wreck offers a whole lot more role-playing than gaming, and that's a good, refreshing thing. There's no deep mythology here, very little voice acting, and combat is not all that complicated. Instead, you get, according to the developer, three to eight ways to complete every quest. To get into a room guarded by a gun-toting security guard, you could, of course, win a shootout with the guard. You could persuade him to step aside. You could disguise yourself. You could, if small enough, climb into a nearby vent and sneak into the room. You could reprogram some nearby security bots to take out the guard for you. Nearly every situation in Space Wreck has this kind of flexibility, and some of them far more.
Retro game enthusiasts will know Analogue for its consoles’ dedication to accuracy. From the original Analogue Nt, which used chips harvested from broken NES consoles, to the Analogue Pocket, which uses an FPGA chip to accurately emulate handheld hardware, the company has always focused on modern hardware that can play actual game cartridges while preserving the idiosyncrasies of the original game consoles.
Today, Analogue is announcing the Analogue 3D, a console that will use an FPGA to run games made for 1996’s Nintendo 64. Because FPGAs emulate consoles at a hardware level, they're much better at replicating all of the specific quirks of the original hardware, making games look and run like they would have on the original consoles without any performance problems or rendering inaccuracies. Like Analogue's other home console replicas, the Analogue 3D is designed to play original cartridges and not ROM files, and the cartridge slot is region-free, so it'll work with games from all over the world.
Analogue didn't reveal a price or a specific launch date for the Analogue 3D, just that the console will show up sometime in 2024. It also didn't show off the design of the console itself or the controller, though it did tease both—if you look closely, you'll see an 8BitDo logo on the controller, the same company that made Analogue's replica controllers for its Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and TurboGrafx retro consoles.
AMD has taken down the latest version of its AMD Adrenalin Edition graphics driver after Counter-Strike 2-maker Valve warned that players using its Anti-Lag+ technology would result in a ban under Valve's anti-cheat rules.
AMD first introduced regular Anti-Lag mitigation in its drivers back in 2019, limiting input lag by reducing the amount of queued CPU work when the processor was getting too far ahead of the GPU frame processing. But the newer Anti-Lag+ system—which was first rolled out for a handful of games last month—updates this system by "applying frame alignment within the game code itself," according to AMD. That method leads to additional lag reduction of up to 10 ms, according to AMD's data.
That additional lag reduction could offer players a bit of a competitive advantage in these games (with the usual arguments about whether that advantage is "unfair" or not). But it's Anti-Lag+'s particular method of altering the "game code itself" that sets off warning bells for the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system. After AMD added Anti-Lag+ support for Counter-Strike 2 in a version 23.10.1 update last week, VAC started issuing bans to unsuspecting AMD users that activated the feature.
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, emailed employees after news of Microsoft's successful $69 billion acquisition to say that he was "fully committed to helping with the transition" and that he would stay on as CEO through the end of 2023.
Kotick's statement left some ambiguity about his plans for 2024, but Bloomberg's Jason Schreier reports that on January 1, Kotick will depart. It's "a massive change for the video game industry," Schreier writes, which seems almost restrained, given Kotick's longevity and recent history. Several employees Schreier spoke to are "very excited for this deal to go through," specifically to see leadership change.