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‘Luftrausers’ a game with style and substance

LUFTRAUSERS” By Vlambeer for the Linux, Mac, PC, PS Vita, and PlayStation3. Rated E for everyone. Grade: A-

What’s the cut-off age for #Atari2600 nostalgia? Would 20-year-olds be familiar with that #system? Maybe if they found a box of their parents’ college stuff in the attic and didn’t mind ruining their eyes by playing it on an #HDTV.

The 2600 homage “Luftrausers” looks like an Atari game with its blocky graphics and minimal palette of two or three colors. You even play it with one joystick and one button. A bare-bones version could easily be ported to the 2600, a short “Luftrausers” demo for a ’70s system that could never handle the full game.

“Luftrausers” isn’t mere nostalgia, though. It might look like something you could’ve bought at Zayre in 1981, but Vlambeer’s new air battle game is too complex to squeeze into one of those small black cartridges. It mixes that 2600 aesthetic with unlockable perks and mobile-style goals to create one of the oddest, most exciting games of the year.

There are two basic actions in “Luftrausers”: flying, shooting, spiraling around in the sky in a massive, unending dogfight. You fire with any of the four face buttons and can just hold the button down for constant offense. Enemy planes swarm around you, rushing out clouds of bullets, while battleships and carriers attack from the sea below. Destroy an enemy to add to your score. Every bullet and midair collision hurts your plane, and if you’re hit too much, you explode, ending your game. The point is to survive as long as possible while taking out enemies and racking up points.

There’s no health meter. Like a first-person shooter, the only way to gauge your health is to pay attention to the color of the screen. As you’re hit, a circle of white closes around you. When that white touches you, your plane explodes and your game is over. You can regenerate health, but only when you don’t fire. So you have to be judicious with your gunshots.

As you accomplish goals, you unlock new weapons, planes and other bonuses that can greatly change your strategies. You can even change the color palette eventually, as on the 2600.

“Luftrausers” is a minimalist game with deep possibilities. Simple at its core, the action never grows repetitive. It’s a great arcade game and a better mobile game.

Reblogged from: bostonherald.com

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Saga Kingdoms – Revolutionary MMORTS

Recently posted on Linux Gaming News and certainly a fine Kickstarter campaign for Gnome Templar. This is another project well worth paying attention too.

Saga Kingdoms is a revolutionary real time MMORTS, focusing on questing and empire building.
They say it’s what Star Craft 2 could have been (in terms of gameplay).
It will be free to play (as it seems from the rewards), but you can pay for additional content.
Currently the project managed to get ~$8,600 of the $100k goal ,with 29 days to go.
From past experiences it’s very hard to get the funds for “free to play” games and I personally doubt that this project will reach it’s goal (although there is always hope).
[gigya height=”360″ src=”https://www.kickstarter.com/swf/kickplayer.swf?” flashvars=”allowfullscreen=true&autostart=false&backcolor=000000&controlbar=over&file=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fksr%2Fprojects%2F343862%2Fvideo-165793-h264_high.mp4&image=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fksr%2Fprojects%2F343862%2Fphoto-full.jpg&screencolor=000000&skin=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kickstarter.com%2Fswf%2Fkickskin.swf&wmode=opaque” width=”480″ ]

SAGA was designed to show what is possible in an RTS when it is made for the players and not by the big studios who may be too scared to try something new. We asked ourselves questions such as, What if the world never reset? What if we could figure out how to balance not just two or three factions but six? and most importantly, What if every play session enhanced your virtual empire and not just a rating?

Most RTS games we’ve ever played focus on player vs. player combat. This is understandable because creating 10 maps and relying on players to provide variety is much less time consuming than creating 600 quests. SAGA, however, embraces that players love a rich story and while PvP has its place and is certainly not an afterthought in our design, we felt it was a lot more fun going on quests not just alone but with groups of friends.

In Saga Kingdoms each player will control a capital city that will serve as the seat of their power, however we have greatly expanded on this concept by giving each player a full Island as a starting point. In addition we plan to allow players to take over both resources and outposts on the main continent as their empire expands.

Similar to SAGA, Saga Kingdoms will feature hundreds of quests to test your skill. While some quests do have prerequisites that you must best, you can always go back and do old favorites for loot and XP.

The power of our new engine means we can create much grander quests that can be enjoyed by large groups of friends.These epic battles will be much more difficult but we promise the rewards will be worth it.

Players will be able to choose from one of six factions, each with a unique look and play style.

Primary Race: Elves

The oldest of the races, the elves have long ago learned to live in harmony with Gaia – the spirit of the world itself. Through their allegiance and honor of Her, they have learned to master Her powers, and now control the most destructive forces of Nature. As warriors, they possess terrific skill, and have made strange allies in some of the oldest creatures on Gaia, including treants and elementals.

Primary Race: Orcs and Ogres

The orcs and ogres live for war. They have long pursued it, and have fashioned their living around it. They have traded refinement for mass, and like a blunt instrument, will bludgeon the life out of their enemies. Their spells and abilities are targeted inward, purposed with instilling their warriors with greater power in combat. Individually, their warriors are skillful, en masse: terrifying.

Primary Race: Giants and Humans

Noble, powerful and indomitable – the forces of Light are truly magnificent to behold. Their ancient civilization has reached a glorious age of wisdom and refinement, and their armies have long ago mastered the art of war. They are a balanced and formidable force, able to draw on heavily armored soldiers and powerful magic alike to crush their enemies into submission.

Primary Race: Dwarves

Dwarves are particularly skilled in the arts of mechanical engineering. Hidden deep in their mountain hideaways, they have created terrible machines of war and destruction. In all their tinkering though, they have lost the art of magic and must rely on their own ingenuity and cunning.

Primary Race: Dark Elves

The dark elves are the masters of magic. They have studied many dark arts and have mastered the secrets of daemonology, allowing them to conjure up horrible beasts. By tapping into the powers of the Underworld, they have possession of mighty spells, with which they terrorize their enemies.

Primary Race: Undead

When the god of the Undead was all but defeated he called upon his powers to bring to power the newest of the factions to gain a foothold on Gaia. Adept casters, the undead use their powers of decay to manipulate the course of battle and weaken their foes while gargantuan undead abominations rush forth to devour their prey.

We love variety in most RTS games. Trying to find the perfect balance of troops is an integral part of the strategy. As difficult as it was to balance 6 factions, that task was nothing compared to trying to create over 100 distinct troop types. Saga Kingdoms will bring back many of the old favorites and will commit to creating many more in upcoming free content expansions.
Saga Kingdoms is a Free-To-Play Collectible game

Collecting troops was one of the best received and unique features of SAGA. Booster packs which can now be purchased for gold farmed in game will provide a random assortment of troops. Nothing beats the excitement of ripping open a new pack or the exhilaration of finding a dragon as your rare card.

Every aspect of your empire can grow in power. This means that every play session will reward you with some type of progress.

  • Buildings will be constructed, which will provide additional benefits.
  • Research will reward you with new abilities and benefits.
  • All troops will gain experience during combat, making them more powerful.
  • Magic items will be found during quests and crafted in your city.
  • Every quest completed and booster purchased gives the possibility of new and exciting troops to enhance your army.
  • Even logging in for just a few seconds and collecting resources brings you closer to purchasing that next building upgrade or booster pack.

Each unit in your army will be led by a hero as detailed as any character in an MMO. Heroes can gain levels, learn spells and possess a range of abilities and bonuses that they confer to the unit they lead.

We’re also expanding the number of available heroes slightly from the dozen available in SAGA to many hundreds. (OK maybe more than slightly)

Not only will be we able to create items with a larger variety of abilities, but Saga Kingdoms will feature many thousands more magic items since Heroes can equip armor in multiple slots in addition to weapons and trinkets, rather than the limited 2 slots in SAGA.

Since Units in Saga Kingdoms are built around heroes not troop types, you will have much more freedom when designing your units. Each troop type will possess a special ability, allowing you to have much finer control over the type of army you field. For example, if halberdiers grant increased damage to the whole unit and swordsmen grant increased armor, a unit consisting of 15 halberdiers and 5 swordsmen will play very differently than one with 15 swordsmen and 5 halberdiers. Adding a hero who brings its own set of unit enhancements means an unlimited set of strategies.

Using the Unity engine means being able to do battle on a PC, Mac, or even using Linux. While the client will be available for all of these platforms, developing in Unity means that when you’re at work or school and can’t resist checking your empire or doing a quick quest, Saga Kingdoms will also be playable in a browser. In addition, developing in Unity opens the possibility for a mobile version.

We have been working on Saga Kingdoms for over a year. Some of our players have even had a chance to try the Alpha version.

We can field troops, move them around, and cause havoc to our enemies as well as build a city. The funds raised on Kickstarter will help us port the remaining SAGA features, finish our quest design tools and make the necessary changes to magic items and heroes to bring Saga Kingdoms to the next level.

Source: Linux Gaming News

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iControlPad 2 takes iPhone & Android game control open-source

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 Product 3 LLC says:

It supports standard gamepad/joystick/keyboard modes. It works without issue in Linux.

Thanks Product 3

A new open-source Bluetooth gaming controller with full QWERTY, from the team that delivered the iControlPad for iPhone and iPod touch, has hit Kickstarter in search of $150,000. iControlPad 2 will run open-source firmware and include dual-analog controls and support not only for Apple’s mobile devices, but Android phones and tablets, Google TV set-top boxes, and other hardware.

iControlPad 2 takes iPhone & Android game control open-source

It’s fair bristling with buttons and sticks, too, keeping even the most frantic gaming fingers occupied. As well as the analog sticks there’s a D-pad and the usual cluster of four buttons, a 5-row keyboard – with the sticks sandwiched in-between rows one and two – start/select, and two shoulder buttons, though the iControlPad 2 team says the layout isn’t quite final and could still be changed base on gamer feedback.

iControlPad 2 takes iPhone & Android game control open-source

Attaching to whatever mobile device you want to use the iControlPad 2 with uses a swivel-holder, that can flip around the back of the phone in case you need to suddenly take a call. Inside there’s a battery good for 12-14 hours of runtime.

It’ll work with your PC, Mac, and Linux too, and the firmware is open-source so that you can hack it about if you don’t have support for a specific device. Pledging is open from today, with a minimum pledge of $69 getting you a unit when it begins shipping; that’s expected to happen in time for the holidays.

Source: Slashgear

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Steam Box take two: Job listing suggests Valve is developing hardware

Linux and Open Source, a new direction for Valve.

Valve hiring industrial designer

Valve getting into hardware development has been a long running, popular rumor among the gaming population (rivaled only by rumors of Half-Life 3‘s launch date). The so-called “Steam Box” is a rumored console-like system with PC components that would allow you to play all of your Steam games in the living room using a variety of input methods (including a custom controller). Although the company has previously dismissed the notion, increasing evidence suggests otherwise.

The most recent indication that Valve may be diving into hardware development after all is a job listing in which the company stated that it is seeking an industrial designer with at least six years of experience shipping “world-class, high-tech technology products,” working knowledge of design principles, and familiarity with 2D/3D design software (among other qualifiers). This does not, by itself, confirm Valve will start developing the Steam Box, but when combined with other hints over the last couple of years, such a device does not sound out of the question.

In 2009, Valve filed for a pair of patents (US 2011/0105231 A1 and US 2011/0009193 A1 respectively) that covered both a modular game controller with interchangeable inputs, and a method to control a video game using biometric inputs (something Sony is also working on). Since then, the company has also worked on its Big Picture Mode, which is a 10-foot interface designed to make the Steam client easier to use on a TV screen in the living room (by having larger text, and controllable with a remote control). In addition, the company has announced the upcoming Steam client and Source engine port to the Linux operating system. Valve has even been quoted by Penny Arcade as saying “if we have to sell hardware [to innovate] we will.”

Valve's patented module game controller

All of those, and similar, announcements and actions lend a credibility to the Steam Box rumors — and now would be a great time for Valve to jump into the hardware game with its own platform. Microsoft is pushing for more control in the software that is run on its operating system — and wants to control the distribution and sales of said (Metro) apps as well. On the other side of things, the Android-powered Ouya console experienced a massively successful Kickstarter campaign.

Meanwhile Microsoft and Sony are taking their sweet time bringing next-generation consoles to market, leaving a nice opening for someone to come in and market to gamers with a new console. Should that someone be Valve, they could bring PC gamers to the living room while also bringing the best aspects of the PC to console gamers. If Valve wanted to, now would be a great time to do so — and evidence suggests that it is at least considering developing its own hardware platform. The combination of powerful PC hardware, Steam distribution channel, indie developer friendly programs like Greenlight, and a living room friendly interface would be an extremely potent one.

It is impossible to say for sure if Valve is going to bring the long-awaited Steam Box to the gamers that have been clamoring for it, but the future of Valve hardware seems promising.

Read more at Valve or see the requirement below.

Valve industrial deisgner listing

Source: extremetech

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GameStop CEO Digs Ouya

GameStop CEO Digs Ouya

GameStop head honcho J. Paul Raines is interested in the Ouya console. Apparently, the CEO thinks the platform is “cool” and would very much like to include it as part of GameStop’s ever-growing stock of video games consoles and tablet devices.

“We think Ouya’s cool,” Raines said in a statement to Joystiq. “We love the idea of open-source components. Everything we’ve read is great. There will be games developed for that stuff. So you’re going to see more of these open source type products, and we will be right in the middle of all of it.”

While Raines clarified that GameStop has no official announcement to make regarding the Ouya launch, his enthusiasm couldn’t be any more apparent. He went on to say that GameStop stocks all consoles and plans to “be a part of any console launch in the future.”

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