Post Mortem is Live! by Caleb Sawyer

Our new podcast/feature hybrid Post Mortem goes live today! Post Mortem is an extensive look at a game or topic that is written out and then recorded as a podcast, giving readers and listeners the ability to consume the material as they like. The articles are longform so if you have the time, settle in and give it a thorough read through, but if you have things to do, say you are in your car, queue it up on the radio and give it a listen. This first episode is about Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and Caleb goes into the both the mechanical side of the game and the moral implications of the protagonists' actions. 

So head on over to the Post Mortem page, give it a read/listen, and let us know what you think!

NerdyBits is Back with Bounty Board! by Caleb Sawyer

It has been a long time since we have produced quality content on a consistent schedule. We apologize for that (sincerely). But now, we're back, and better than ever! 

Bounty Board is the first part in a revitalization project that stretches as deep as it does wide. With a new weekly podcast NerdyBits is stepping up a putting our best foot forward. We have a lot planned for the future, so look forward to more post activity, live streams, experimental podcast shows, interviews, and so much more. 

For those of you who have stuck around: thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It means the world to us. For those of you new to our site: Welcome! You couldn't have chosen a better time to get on board.

Stay tuned for Episode 002 of Bounty Board today at 12:00 pm CST

Digging into Andromeda by Caleb Sawyer

It took a bit to get used to the new Mass Effect and all that came with it, but five plus hours in and Mass Effect: Andromeda has its claws embedded. 

Starting a new game has its ups and downs. New mechanics and systems take a little getting used to, even in brilliantly developed games. For Mass Effect, this is the beginning of a new era. New characters are introduced, new worlds, in this case a whole new galaxy. Straying from the traditional snap-cover based shooting mechanics, Andromeda seeks to make combat, and gameplay overall, a more fluid, visceral experience. I won't lie, I had my struggles. After trudging through the first engagements with the grace of a lanky teenager who hadn't quite mastered the use of their own limbs, it is finally clicking with me. A few hours of multiplayer with my friends later, I understand the new engine and its intricacies a bit more, and in a game as big as Andromeda, a little goes a long way.

...in a game as big as Andromeda, a little goes a long way.

Combat is just as pulse pounding as previous installments, without a doubt. But the lack of snap cover made the transition a bit harrowing. The first hour of play I died about as much as college girls (or me, if I'm honest) visit Starbucks. And while I repeatedly tried to do what I did years ago, Andromeda was liberal in serving size of punishment. Andromeda is unforgiving, both as a game and a galaxy. The enemies are smart. The Kett, the game's new primary antagonists, are unrelenting. Grunts are accurate, elites are smart, and shielded tanks walk right at you. Perhaps a testament to their implementation of a new cover system, hunkering down and fighting off waves of enemies just will not cut it.

As I said, I have only put in about six hours yet, but as soon as the scale and purpose of Andromeda made itself known, I was hooked. World exploration is interesting enough to make me drive away from my objectives hoping to discover new locations and missions. But it was calling in the first settlement that really locked it in. Mass Effect: Andromeda is about finding a new home for the human race. Establishing that first settlement, and the steps that led up to getting there, restored a feeling of wonder that I hadn't felt in Mass Effect since the first installment.

Caleb Sawyer
~@LubWub

Free Comic Book Day: Feed Your Inner Nerd for Free by Benjamin Sawyer

Videogames have been a giant part of my life. Even introducing me to other nerdy habits, like comic books, which happens to compliment my love of reading.

I remember when I first started following my first comic book series: Cable and Deadpool. I was playing X-Men: Rise of Apocalypse and I fell in love with the Merc with a Mouth. My brother, probably tired of hearing me rant and rave, said I should check out the local comic book store and read more about Deadpool’s shenanigans. The next day, I went and was directed to several Deadpool comics. I continued to go back and the issues were done by the time I made it home. We started buying two, or three each visit. Then, to feed my obsession, back issue sales became my scene. 

This is why I cannot help but talk about Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). 

FCBD is a collaboration of the North American comic book community coming together for the love of comic books. Local comic book stores work together to distribute comic books to the community while gaining national coverage. The first FCBD was in 2002 and was associated with a release of one of the first big comic book movies, “Spider-Man.”

FCBD is always the first Saturday in May, so this year’s, Saturday, May 7, is associated with the movie release of “Captain America: Civil War.” This year, the organization is celebrating 15 years of bringing free comic books to the community. 

FreeComicBookDay.com has a store locator on their website to help people find a participating store near them. While some stores may limit the number of comics given out, everyone is guaranteed one free comic book. The retailers receive a heavy discount on each of the comic books that they give out for free and some stores give out merchandise. It is all on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Some stores hire professional cosplayers to appear for the day for pictures and attendees are also encouraged to attend in cosplay as their favorite comic book characters. 

According to FreeComicBookDay.com, “[The event] is administered by a panel representing all parts of the comic book industry: retailers, publishers, suppliers, and Diamond Comic Distributors. Each year, publishers apply to provide comic books at cost to retailers, who in turn give them away for free. Diamond handles marketing and logistics for the event, shipping comics to shops and handling marketing and PR for the event.”

Besides just supporting the art form of comic books which has been around since the early 20th century, this day is a great way to promote comics to children. Comic books can be a great motivator for kids to get into the habit of reading and enjoying it. For me, I already had that love, but it kept me reading. Comic books are also a great way for parents to bond with children as they read the books together. 

But the bonding over comic books is not just for children and parents. Comic books vary in artists, writers, concepts, topics, humor, and more. It is hard not to find something to enjoy. This effort is easy to see on any FCBD at any local retailer. Crowds of people of all ages bond over the issues available. FCBD tries to provide comics that are both different and entertaining for avid comic readers and inviting for novice comic readers. 

Along with a sense of community and love of reading, this event promotes local business. FCBD drives consumers to local comic book stores and shoppers get to check out what the store has to offer, leading to future business for the comic shop. In this way, local small businesses are able to tap into a promotion that is nationwide and generate more publicity than they could with their own local advertising. 

To continue the community bonding aspect of the event, attendees are encouraged to take pictures of themselves enjoying FCBD and tweet @freecomicbook and use #FCBD2016 and #FCBD. 

The list of comic books to choose from can be found at http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/981. There are even downloadable previews for some of the comics. Follow FCBD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates. 

I hope you will join me and other fans by participating in this year’s FCBD Saturday. 

@AnimeKat13
~Kathleen
 

Homefront: The Revolution Gets Release Date by Benjamin Sawyer

Homefront: The Revolution, sequel to 2011's underdog title Homefront, got a new trailer today, and with that new trailer, a release date. The open-world shooter is being published by Deep Silver and developed by newcomer Dambuster Studios, a development studio created by Deep Silver when the acquired the franchise from Crytek. The title takes place in 2029, in a future where Korea has invaded and occupies the United States.

 

Look for Homefront: The Revolution on May 17th.

@LubWub 
~Caleb 

No Man's Sky Gets a Release Date (?) by Benjamin Sawyer

The new No Man's Sky trailer "I've Seen Things" is the most recent content to come out of the reclusive studio Hello Games, the English indie studio behind one of the most anticipated games on current gen consoles (specifically the PS4). The trailer shows off some new gameplay, a voice-over, and for the first time in months, a release window. 

Here's to hoping that, come June, we may find ourselves amongst the stars.

@LubWub
~Caleb 

Ubisoft's Lukewarm Fiscal Year Thus Far by Benjamin Sawyer

According to the latest earnings report from the Canadian publishing titan, Ubisoft has seen a significant drop in sales. The report, ending with September 30th, and therefore weighing earnings before major title Assassin's Creed Syndicate, reports a $224.9 million 2015 first semester, nearly a 61% decline in year-to-year sales.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot points out that, "The fact that more than 80 percent of our annual sales are expected to be generated in the second half of the year mechanically weighed on our earnings for the first six months,” but nevertheless, a 60% drop in sales is a frightful discovery for any company. Take into account that last year's first semester was bolstered by the extemely well selling Watch Dogs (May 2014), and that Assassin's Cred Syndicate, a title currently sitting at the top end of the game industry both in critical and commercial succes, and maybe this report is really nothing to fret about. Ubisoft also has three more major titles slated to release this fiscal year, Rainbow Six: Siege, The Division, and Far Cry Primal.

48.3% of this year's first semester of sales for Ubisoft can be attributed to digital sales, rather than retail, which is almost double the same category last year, but it is still a drop from the 56% that Ubisoft boasted in Q1 of this year.

For the official document follow the link here.

@LubWub
~Caleb Sawyer
 

SmuggleCraft Shows Off New Gameplay Trailer by Benjamin Sawyer

St. Louis Indie Developer Happy Badger Studio released a new trailer for their upcoming title SmuggleCraft last week. The trailer shows off some new sounds, lighting, and a multiplayer mode that was not prepared when I got hands on three weeks ago. It also gives people a good look at a game that is still growing, really giving players a glimpse of what that process looks like. 

SmuggleCraft is still a far way from release, but each piece that gets added to the puzzle adds to our excitement. NerdyBits is looking forward to SmuggleCraft. Give it a look-see, maybe you will too.

@CalebTSawyer
~Caleb 

 

NerdyBits Heads to Happy Badger Studios by Benjamin Sawyer

Today, EIC Caleb Sawyer will be visiting Happy Badger Studios to discuss the studio's newly announced SmuggleCraft. The small, St. Louis based studio, known for mobile titles like Strange Donuts vs. The World and Cosmic Kitty Pop!, is making the console leap with this new game, set to release exclusively on PS4 (as well as PC, Mac, and Linux) in 2016.

SmuggleCraft is a reconceptualization of the everyday racing game, giving players a world with procedurally generated tracks and story impacting player choice. Players will take on the persona of smuggler Ferre Astraea in a world where over-regulation is the norm.

For more info on the game, head to Happy Badger's SmuggleCraft announcement page here, or comeback tomorrow to read Caleb's write-up from today's visit. 

@CalebTSawyer
~Caleb 

Happy Badger Studios

Spider-Man Swings into Marvel Cinematic Universe by Benjamin Sawyer

After the emails from Sony were exposed that showed that Marvel and Sony had been talking about potentially letting Spider-Man appear in some of Marvels movies, nobody knew what was going to happen.

That was until Marvel and Sony made an announcement yesterday.

Spider-Man will be making his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The exact details of the deal are unknown but all that matters to us fans is that Spider-Man will now be able to cross paths with Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. It is currently unclear whether Andrew Garfield will be making his way back into the costume of Spider-Man, but they do state that "new creative direction for the web slinger" is on track. Besides the fact that our favourite Webslinger is now able to make appearances in other MCU Movies, other Characters have the chance of appearing in the next Solo Spider-man movie, coming to a Theater near you on the 28th of July, 2017. 

We do not know when Peter Parker will appear, but I think we will get a glimpse of the character in Captain America: Civil War.

To make room for Spider-man, some of the announced Marvel Phase 3 movies have moved. Here is an updated list on our next Marvel movies:

Avengers: Age of Ultron - May 1st, 2015

Ant-Man - July 17th, 2015

Captain America - May 6th, 2016

Doctor Strange - November 4th, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy - May 5th, 2017

Spider-Man - July 28th, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok - November 3rd, 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 - May 4th, 2018

Black Panther - July 6th, 2018

Captain Marvel - November 2nd, 2018

Avengers: Infinity Wars Part 2 - May 3rd, 2019

Inhumans - July 12th, 2019

 

Now to hoping that all these movies will continue to be awesome. We wont have to wait much longer, only 2 more months until Daredevil hits Netflix, and three more months until Avengers: Age of Ultron.

@DawnKnight1993

~Nico

 

Destructive Creations talks 'Hatred', Greenlight, and morality in videogames by Benjamin Sawyer

 

Przemysław Szczepaniak, the Business Development Manager of Destructive Creations, agreed to answer some of Nerdybits’ questions regarding their current project Hatred. R. Alex Holton’s questions are normal font, and the italics are his response.

Interview begins here:

I have to admit, you guys are in an interesting position when it comes to your relationship with Steam. Would you be at all willing to give your side of the whole saga? You submitted your game to greenlight, and it was the most popular title on the service. But then its' eligibility was revoked in an effort by Valve to curate the greenlight section.

There is nothing more that you have already heard or read in the press. What happened after we submitted Hatred to Steam, was something that we didn’t really expect - both, the rejection and the way we have been put back on Steam Greenlight (Gabe Newell’s intervention). It was a shock at first time, and then a big euphoria, and a feeling that this is for real. I mean who could even imagine such a scenario ;)?

Valve has been criticized for not curating the titles it allows on its Steam service, most notably allowing games like Air Control and Airport Simulator to operate with complete freedom. Why, in your opinion, was there a sudden shift in Valve's policy toward curation? Was it because of Hatred specifically?

I don’t think it is the cause. Hatred is still under Steam’s review, which means that game is not accepted for distribution and it is not available to play yet. So we haven’t been recommended yet by any curator. I think it’s more because Steam is growing, and more developers are submitting their games. They need to have a control over the content and see which games are worth to be recommended to gamers or for promotion.

One day after Hatred was removed from greenlight, Gabe Newell personally announced it would be re-instated on the service. What was your reaction to this sudden shift in policy?

We were totally surprised, shocked, but positively of course. We didn’t expect such a turnout of the situation. I can’t really describe it better :)

And now that it is back on greenlight, word gets out that the game has received an AO rating by the ESRB, which usually means the game won't be allowed on Steam. We haven't heard anything official from Valve yet, but Hatred remains on greenlight even following ESRB's rating of the game, so we can sort of draw conclusions regarding Valve's stance based on that. However the question remains; why even submit your game to the ESRB?

Steam doesn’t have a direct policy against AO games.  There are adult titles allowed on Steam, though they have a PEGI 18 rating. There are also PEGI 18 games on consoles. Practically there is no difference between AO and PEGI 18 :) It’s really up to Steam’s decision what will happen next.

It's a voluntary process, and many games have released without a rating. Being rated does allow for sale of boxed copies of the game, is that the goal you are pushing towards? Or did you want to get Hatred a console release?

We submitted a game because Hatred is on mouth of everyone. That gave us the position where nobody will say now that we make a game that would be in children's age range. There are many adult games out there for PC and consoles, and it will really depend on publishers and market if will Hatred be available on other platforms. Yes, we would prefer to have M rating, mainly because of lack of sexual content, but AO didn’t worry us at the moment. Firstly, we will see the PC digital distribution results, and then we will plan further.

Currently the game is scheduled for release in Q2 of this year, is that an attainable goal? And when will we have the opportunity to see more of the game than the trailer?

Yes, Q2 2015 is still an attainable release date. We think it would be April/May. Until then we will provide more teasers and more of the gameplay stuff, but not in a form of demo or beta, because that wasn’t planned.

Also, the content of the game (at least what has been released so far) has garnered some criticism for the seemingly 'spree-killing' nature of Hatred, saying it is immoral and shouldn't be allowed on Steam alongside such titles as Lego Marvel Heroes. Is there anything you would like to say in response?

Hatred is no different from any other shooting/violent game. I dare to say that some games are even more cruel and brutal. People are afraid of the context, but those people do not have much experience with gaming. Hatred tells you directly that you will kill. There is no game story that would justify the killing. Killing is always killing, and that’s why we decided not to explain why the Antagonist does that. We are giving gamers some field to think about what could push the Antagonist to do what he does.

It is mostly media and haters that caused so much noise around the title. Those who tell that games are a cause of violence should really stop doing that. This is total absurd. Games are on the market for around 30 years (in a commercial form), and there hasn't been any proof that they cause violence. It’s rather situation in life, real social, psychological problems that push people toward violence and killing. And what about war, politics, religion? They caused the biggest destruction and mass murdering in the mankind history.

Hatred will allow you to destroy everything around you after a hard day in virtual reality, without hurting anyone. It will help you have some fun, and will help unload your aggression virtually.

Thank you much for your time sir, and the quick response. I realize the time difference makes correspondence like this difficult. I hope you have a good day, and the best of luck to you and your team!

Thanks a lot too! Best of luck to you too!

 

Destructive Creations released a gameplay trailer for Hatred on the 29th of January, which can be watched here. (GRAPHIC CONTENT, Viewer discretion advised)

Hatred is currently on Steam Greenlight, and can also be pre-ordered on Destructive Creations' Official Website.

-R. Alex Holton (@Our_Alex)