Tag Archives: steam

Makers Of Horror Game That Was Removed From Steam Say It’s Not Coming Back Anytime Soon

When it released in February, Devotion received thousands of positive reviews on Steam and was becoming popular with viewers on Twitch. But it was taken down after only a couple weeks when fans discovered art in the game that appeared to make fun of China’s president. Five months later, the studio behind the game says it still won’t be returning to Steam “in the near term.”

“While mediation is still in progress, Red Candle’s co-founders have reached a unanimous decision to not re-release ‘Devotion’ in the near term, including but not limited to obtaining profit from sales, revision, IP authorization, etc. to prevent unnecessary misconception,” Red Candle Games said in a statement released on Twitter this morning. “As we reflect on the situation, we notice many players, industry friends, and the media are starting to understand that the incident was indeed a malfunction of project management, not a deliberate act.”

The “incident” the studio is referring to was the appearance of a scroll in the game which contained the name of China’s president, Xi Jinping, next to the name Winnie the Pooh and the word “moron.” It’s a popular meme associated with mocking the president after China banned the new Winnie the Pooh movie for perceived similarities between Pooh and Jinping. The fact that the meme was appearing in a game developed by a studio in Taiwan, which is considered part of China but has its own elected government, only made the situation more fraught for the developers.

After the discovery was made, Chinese players began review bombing the game on Steam, and the game was subsequently removed. Red Candle Games said that the image in question was placeholder art developed by one team member and was never intended to be in the final version of the game or represent the views of the studio. Despite that explanation, Red Candle Games’ publisher, Indievent, cut ties with the studio, and in June, Chinese authorities revoked Indievent’s business license.

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Given Devotion’s popularity and critical acclaim prior to the art surfacing, lots of players, myself included, have been curious to see when it will become available to play again and in what form. In May, Red Candle Games told Vice it planned for the rerelease of Devotion to be the same as the original, minus the offending placeholder art. But part of the issue with the game is that many players believe its underlying story is also an anti-Chinese allegory about the country’s relationship to Taiwan. As a result, Red Candle Games has been trying to downplay those fan theories.

“In ‘Devotion,’ its core message is about the tragedy of a loving family twisted by the frantic belief of a religious cult,” the studio said today. “We made a critical and unprofessional error during the game’s production. It saddens us that the focus of the game was shifted drastically since the erroneous art asset was found…In the aftermath of the incident, some still possess different speculations about ‘Devotion.’

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“As regretful as the incident was, we have to bear its full consequence. We hope for a second chance in the near future. A chance to prove that, both Red Candle and its partner simply wanted to create a great game and no one wished for such incident to occur.”

Source: Kotaku.com

I Wish I Could Play More Wacky Builds In Dota Underlords, But I Like Winning

SteamedSteamed is dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s PC gaming service.  

A couple weeks ago, I came across a Dota Underlords video that changed everything for me. In it, a player managed to buff one unit, the self-cloning Arc Warden, such that he was able to spawn nearly limitless copies of himself. The board was a sea of crackling wizards with fishbowls on their heads. I imagined an old man, years later, gesturing into the dark alley where all of Underlords’ battles take place and saying, “I remember when this was all Arc Wardens, far as the eye could see.” In that moment, I decided I wanted to pull off this overwrought strategy. Problem: It’s not exactly a practical way to win.

Don’t get me wrong: The Arc Warden murder swamp combo is hilariously powerful if you manage to assemble the needed components. This involves picking up another unit, Crystal Maiden, whose ability regularly grants additional mana to all friendly units, allowing them to use their abilities more frequently. You’ll want at least a couple Crystal Maidens and a couple Arc Wardens on the field, ideally. Then you need to pick up an item called Refresher Orb, which refreshes all ability cooldowns and restores mana. All of these things in conjunction will cause your Arc Wardens to start cloning themselves at a pace so rapid that it’s like they suddenly realized they were approaching their late 30s and only had so much time to make a family, so they decided to do it all right then and there—through mitosis. The best part? Damage to opponents is based on how many units you have left on the field when you’ve defeated an enemy army, so you put somebody down for the count in a turn or two with this strategy. It is, in the strictest, most serious sense of the term, a ludicrous hootenanny of a time.

It does, however, take time to build up. Arc Wardens rarely appear as a purchasable unit until mid-game, and Crystal Maidens frequently get snapped up by other players because they’re just generally good. This means your early game can be gnarly, and you might still have trouble leveling up your units enough for them to survive and pull off the clone bonanza later on. As for items, you get to pick from a random selection of them only at the end of certain turns, so your chances of nabbing a Refresher Orb aren’t great. I haven’t seen one at all in several matches, come to think of it. This strategy, in other words, is not a reliable way to win. It’s fun as heck when it works, but it frequently fizzles out and leads to an endgame in which my Orb-less Wardens and Maidens do all right but ultimately get rolled by combos that scale better in the damage and defense departments.

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Most of the time, then, I start matches intending to pursue this fun strat or a number of other off-kilter ideas, only to settle into a familiar, meta-friendly groove. This makes me a little sad. Personally, I believe that discovery and experimentation are the most enjoyable elements of games like these—that you should approach each match with the mindset of a mad scientist who doesn’t care which bubbling chemical mixtures blow up in their face. But also, I want to win. The best way to do this is to read about strategies that work and enact them with cold, mechanical rigor. Right now, that’s knights and trolls, or trolls and warlocks, or knights, trolls, and warlocks. Before a recent balance patch, it was warriors and hunters.

These combos are fun, but what they all have in common is that they’re relatively straightforward. When clumped together on the field, knights provide huge defense bonuses while trolls provide big attack bonuses. With their blind spots mutually covered, they trudge out and melt the enemy army like it’s their job—by which I mean, a job they’re perfectly effective at but haven’t been passionate about in years. They don’t have much in the way of flashy abilities. There’s no storyline or surprise to their victory. They just carve up enemy armies and win. (Warlocks make this a little more interesting, but only a little.) Dota Underlords is still very new, and Valve doesn’t quite have the balance down yet, so when a build is overpowered, it’s WAY overpowered. This means you can do everything right only to come up against a solidly constructed knight/troll build and realize it’s just better.

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Meta-friendly units are not hard to come by, nor is there much complicated assembly required. You can enact a variation on this strategy in pretty much any match. It’s fun to do so, as well. The whole point of auto battlers like Dota Underlords is to assert control over RNG chaos. Slowly but surely, over the course of a match, you go from being powerless in the face of random unit selection to having all the power by way of clever unit purchases and economy management. You never know for sure that other players aren’t going to luck their way into a come-from-behind victory, but there’s an undeniable high to reaching that point where you’re reasonably certain you’re going to win a match. You did it. You put all the pieces together better than seven other players.

Still, I wish I was better at resisting the meta’s siren song and just going after whatever bizarro build the RNG gods present me with. The other day, I was backseat driving a match a friend was playing, and he got a two-stack of items that buff “brawny” units early in a match. We decided to just go with the flow and assemble the beefiest army of brawny beef boys this world has ever seen. Did we win? No. But we did all right, and we cracked a lot of dumb jokes, up to and including renaming a unit called Beastmaster “Beefmaster.” I want more moments like that.

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But I also like winning. I’m in a constant struggle with my own nature—a beef, if you will, with myself. Perhaps, then, the greatest Beefmaster of all… is me.

Source: Kotaku.com

There’s A New Turok Game Coming Out This Month, And It’s Super Cute

Coming to Steam on July 25, Turok: Escape From Lost Valley looks very different from the first-person dinosaur-hunting games of old, but the idea is the same. Turok and his brother Andar are trapped in a valley full of dinosaurs. Hunting ensues. Adorable hunting.

While it seems to have come out of nowhere, Turok: Escape From Lost Valley was one of six finalists in last year’s Universal GameDev Challenge. The contest, launched during the 2018 Game Developers Conference, challenged small teams of Unity developers to create games based on iconic Universal-owned properties. The contest’s $150,000 grand prize went to developer Gbanga for one-on-one strategy game Voltron: Cubes of Olkarion, also coming to Steam on July 25. Despite not winning the big prize, Pillow Pig Games’ chibi take on Turok is getting a Universal Studios Interactive Entertainment release as well.

Trailer uploaded to Youtube via Eurogamer.

While earlier games in the Turok series were based on the character’s appearance in the 1998 Acclaim Comics series, Escape From Lost Valley takes the character back to his 1954 roots. In his earliest comics, published by Western Publishing, Dell, and Gold Key, Turok and his brother, Andar, were a pair of pre-Columbian Native American youths who found themselves trapped in a mysterious valley with prehistoric life. The series chronicles the pair’s attempt to escape this lost valley, just like this new game.

Poor honker.

No laser rifles, no cerebral bore, just a couple of brothers doing the best they can in a dinosaur-infested world gone mad. We’ll see if Turok: Escape From Lost Valley is as charming as it looks when it hits Steam on July 25.

Source: Kotaku.com

Shady Market G2A Offers To Pay Journalists To Run Pre-Written Article Defending Them

Image: G2A

G2A, a third-party gray market for game keys, doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation, given the accusations of sub-par security, developer disenfranchisement, and fraud that have surrounded it for years. Today, someone from the company tried to take control of the narrative surrounding its shady public image—by sending out a “transparent” and “unbiased” pre-written article about stolen game keys and asking sites to publish it “without being marked as sponsored or marked as associated with G2A.” A representative for the marketplace then blamed this move on an “employee without authorization,” calling it “unacceptable.”

The email in question, which Kotaku has viewed, was sent to multiple members of the media, including one who posted a screenshot of it on Twitter earlier today, sparking widespread discussion and anger. The email asked press to cooperate with G2A in the name of improving “our brand awareness and public image, especially among the indie and smaller game developers.” In other words, whoever sent the request wanted to con people into thinking that the article had been written by an independent reporter.

“We have written an unbiased article about how ‘Selling stolen keys on gaming marketplaces is pretty much impossible’ and we want to publish it on Your website without being marked as sponsored or marked as associated with G2A,” said the email. “It is a transparent and just review of the problem of the stolen keys reselling.”

This all came in the wake of new controversies swirling around G2A, which initially centered onaround the company’s practice of buying up Google ads for individual games. This prompted some developers to say they’d rather people pirate their games than buy them on G2A, because they wouldn’t see a cent either way, and they don’t want to see that money go to such a dodgy operation. In turn, G2A said last week that it’ll work with an independent auditor to look at its own store and those of other developers. Depending on the outcome of this process, the company said it’ll “pay developers 10 times the money they lost on chargebacks after their illegally obtained keys were sold on G2A,” but only if they can “prove such a thing actually happened.”

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Today’s email also included a sample of the article publications were being asked to publish, which—somewhat counter-productively—says that, “with some luck,” you can probably “sell one or two, even ten keys” on G2A “without triggering any other security measures,” as all you need to provide to make an account is your phone number and a social media account. The problem, according to this article that only mostly reads like it was written by a G2A employee, is in collecting your money. To do that, you’ve got to provide your bank account info, which will apparently “make you an easy target for the police.”

It then makes an incredible leap to drive the point home: “It’s like walking into a police station and pointing a gun at the officers there. OK, you got in, but will you get out of there alive?” And that, whoever from G2A wrote this article argued, is why selling stolen keys on the marketplace is impossible.

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Yet people have claimed that G2A has allowed them to profit off stolen game keys, so this system does not seem ironclad, to say the least.

The email concludes by asking for “pricing and details about Your options for such content publication.”

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It almost immediately earned the ire of developers and fans on Twitter, who pointed out that it was the shadiest way possible for G2A to inform people that it’s not shady. In response, G2A said on Twitter that the email was the work of a rogue individual within the company.

“These e-mails were sent by our employee without authorization, for which we apologize to [Indie Games Plus] and the 9 (!) other media outlets he sent this proposal to,” said G2A’s official account. “He will face strict consequences, as this is absolutely unacceptable.”

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Kotaku reached out to G2A and the employee in question for more information, but neither immediately responded to a request for comment.

What’s ironic for G2A isn’t just how tremendously this move has backfired, it’s that the act of even making a request this shady will forever raise questions about anyone who now defends the company.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Week In Games: The Doctor Will See You Now

Dr. Mario has fired his brother, Dr. Luigi, and now has control over the clinic once more and he is ready to start giving people pills. So many pills. Dr. Mario World for phones is coming out later this week.

I don’t think Mario is qualified to be a doctor, and I don’t think Luigi is any more qualified, either. What I want to know is, who in the Mario universe is actually qualified to be a doctor? Wario? Bowser? Peach? Toad? I think we can safely say Yoshi is not doctor material.

Beyond a new Dr. Mario game, next week has a few other things releasing for various platforms. It is still summer time out there, so we are still in the quiet season for video game releases. Dragon Quest Builders 2 comes out next week, God Eater 3 comes to Switch and for those of us who love puzzles, but don’t want to actually put together a real puzzle, Bepuzzled Jigsaw Puzzle: Aquatic drops at the end of the week on Steam.

Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:

Monday, July 8

  • Square Norm | PC
  • Detonation | PC
  • Life ed | PC
  • Arcade Simulator | PC, Mac
  • Cooking Trip: Back On The Road | PC

Tuesday, July 9

  • Bear With Me: The Complete Collection | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • They Are Billions | PS4
  • Umihara Kawase Fresh! | Switch
  • Senran Kagura: Peach Ball | Switch
  • KEIKA – A Puzzle Adventure | PC
  • SINNERS | PC
  • Adventures Of Isabelle Fine: Murder On Rails | PC
  • Master Of The Forbidden Sea | PC
  • OldWar 2 | PC
  • Hyperlight Ultimate | Switch

Wednesday, July 10

  • SolSerpah | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Doughlings: Invasion | Xbox One
  • Grass Cutter – Mutated Lawns | Xbox One, Switch
  • Emoji Charades | PC
  • Godhood | PC, Mac
  • Dr. Mario World | Android, iOS

Thursday, July 11

  • Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble | Switch, PC
  • Blazing Chrome | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Eagle Island | Switch, PC, Mac
  • RED HOT VENGEANCE | PC
  • Skulls Of The Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition | Switch
  • Professor Lupo And His Horrible Pets | Switch
  • Doodle God: Crime City | Switch
  • Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Feet | Switch
  • Dead In Vinland – True Viking Edition | Switch
  • Metaloid: Origin | Switch
  • Wayout | Switch
  • Vektor Wars | Switch
  • Psyvariar Delta | Switch

Friday, July 12

  • Dragon Quest Builders 2 | PS4, Switch
  • Lethal League Blaze | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Aggelos | PS4, Xbox One
  • God Eater 3 | Switch
  • Streets Of Rogue | Xbox One
  • 1000$ | PC
  • Poly Mole | PC, Mac
  • Neon Slashers | PC
  • Royal Life: Hard To Be Queen | PC
  • Spy Tactics | PC, Mac
  • Isotiles 2 | PC, Mac
  • Super Mutant Alien Assault | Switch
  • Mad Bullets | Switch
  • Distrust | Switch

Saturday, July 13

  • Bepuzzled Jigsaw Puzzle: Aquatic | PC

Source: Kotaku.com

Dota Underlords, As Told By Steam Reviews

SteamedSteamed is dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s PC gaming service.  

Are you someone who still battles in video games by using your fingers to directly input commands, like some kind of barbarian? That’s old hat. Today, auto-battlers are all the rage. Simply buy some guys, arrange said guys, and they (the guys) will do the battling for you. With Dota Underlords, Valve rushed to capitalize on the trend that began with a user-created mod of its own game Dota 2. So far, Underlords’ speedy turnaround seems to have paid off.

Underlords, currently in early access, is heavily based on Dota Auto Chess, a mod in which eight players purchase automated units and try to outdo each other in a mini-tournament of 1v1 duels. It may not sound like much, but it’s easy to learn, and once you’ve let your brain marinate in the intricacies for a bit, it’s addictive as heck. Steam users are pleased with Valve’s faithfulness to the original mod, as well as the subtle quality-of-life improvements and item changes that streamline some of the mod’s sloppier elements. Some people, however, are wary of hero and synergy changes Valve has made, while others just don’t dig how RNG-based the game (and genre) is. For most, though, Underlords is hitting the spot.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Shenmue III Developers Offer Refunds To Kickstarter Backers Angry About Epic Store Exclusivity

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Fans are upset that an upcoming new game is an Epic Games Store exclusive, and the developers have to react. This time it’s Shenmue III, whose creators said today that any Kickstarter backers displeased with the state of things will be able to get a refund.

Last month, the makers of Shenmue III announced that the game will be a timed exclusive to the Epic Store on PC, a move that angered quite a few people who had helped crowdfund the game. After all, when Shenmue III first launched on Kickstarter in June 2015, the developers had offered Steam keys as a reward option. When the game comes out in November of this year, however, Steam keys won’t actually be available. It’ll be on Steam in November 2020.

Steam, of course, is the ubiquitous store-slash-platform that hosts the majority of games you can play on your computer. The Epic Store, which launched last year, has been racking up exclusives thanks to lucrative deals for publishers and a developer-friendly revenue split. Epic only takes 12%, while Steam takes 30%. It’s an ecosystem that has led to lots and lots of vitriol, sparked by the Epic Store’s lack of features among other fan concerns (and occasional conspiracy theories). There’s no extra cost associated with switching between the two PC launchers, so for those who are upset, this appears to be about convenience and principles.

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Those who backed Shenmue III in 2015 and wanted Steam keys for their efforts have a few options. One is to take an Epic Store key. Another is to switch platforms. A third is to get a Steam key one year after launch, once the exclusivity window is up. And a fourth, the developers said today, is to get a refund.

“In response to backers who have requested Steam keys for their rewards, we discussed offering the keys on the day of release,” the developers said in a Kickstarter update today. “However, coordination with the sales policies of the involved companies was untenable, and as a result we are not able to make a day one distribution option for Steam keys available. That we are not able to offer Steam keys for Kickstarter rewards at the time of the game’s release is a great disappointed and inconvenience for those backers who were expecting to receive them. We deeply apologize for the unrest caused by the announcement… Along with Deep Silver and Epic Games, we have agreed that should the above proposal not be acceptable to backers, refund requests will be honored.”

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More details on how to get a refund “will be announced in a following update,” the developers said, although they also warned backers that if they picked one of the tiers including in-game content that’s already been implemented into the game, a full refund won’t be available.

Meanwhile, you can expect these Epic Store controversies to continue at least until Valve relents on that 70-30% split, which might affect their yearly company-wide Hawaii vacations but would probably make game developers’ lives a whole lot better.

Source: Kotaku.com

This New Sega Game Sure Looks Like ActRaiser

SolSeraph, coming July 10 to PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One, is a combination of side-scrolling platformer and overhead strategy in which the player is a divine being tasked with rebuilding civilization while protecting humanity from demons and monsters. In other words, it’s a dead ringer for the Super Nintendo classic ActRaiser.

Developed by Quintet and published by Enix in 1990, ActRaiser for the Super Nintendo was exactly what I just said SolSeraph is, a mash-up of platformer and city-building simulation with divine themes. Enix followed it up with ActRaiser 2 in 1993, but stripped it of all the simulation parts, thus defeating the whole purpose. The series has been dead since then.

SolSeraph, developed by Ace Team of Rock of Ages and Zeno Clash fame, is obviously a spiritual successor to ActRaiser. It’s got the same themes, similar gameplay, and the name is even the exact same number of letters with an inner cap in the same place. It’s even got music from Yuzo Koshiro, the composer behind ActRaiser’s amazing soundtrack.

Will SolSeraph be the sequel ActRaiser fans deserve? We won’t have to wait long to find out.

About the author

Mike Fahey

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, toys, snacks and other unsavory things.

Source: Kotaku.com

Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night, As Told By Steam Reviews

What is a Kickstarter-funded spiritual successor to Castlevania? Either a miserable or non-miserable pile of secrets (and gameplay mechanics), depending on which Steam reviewer you talk to.

Whether they love it or feel lukewarm about it, like Kotaku’s Joshua Rivera, nobody’s pretending Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night is something that it’s not. This, pretty much everyone agrees, is a Metroidvania throwback in the style of director Koji Igarashi’s beloved classic, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, albeit with some modern quality-of-life updates and elements from more recent Castlevanias like Dawn of Sorrow. But is that enough to pass muster in ye newe year of 2019? That’s the real question. Broadly, Steam reviewers seem to think it is, with 93 percent of reviews registering as positive so far. But not everybody’s in agreement.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Valve’s New Auto Chess Game Is Already Way More Popular Than Artifact Ever Was

SteamedSteamed is dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s PC gaming service.  

The failure of Dota-themed trading card game Artifact might have left Valve with egg on its face, but the company has now scraped off that egg and made an omelette with Dota Underlords. Valve’s take on the obscenely popular Auto Chess genre hit a peak of nearly 180,000 concurrent players today, almost tripling Artifact’s all-time peak and planting a flag firmly near the top of Steam’s most-played games list.

Underlords, which went into open beta yesterday, has already hit a peak of 179,019 concurrent players. It’s not hard to see why: It’s a polished take on Auto Chess with more effects and personality than the original, as well as some smart streamlining of integral mechanics, like items. Its interface still needs some work, but it’s already a heck of a good time. Unlike Artifact, which launched to immediate criticism, Underlords has largely positive Steam reviews. One of the most upvoted reads “What Artifact should have been.”

According to Steam Charts, a third-party database of Valve-provided Steam data, Artifact’s all-time high is 60,740 concurrent players—a number that precipitously dropped off not long after the game’s launch toward the end of 2018. The card game faced widespread complaints about its cards-for-money-based system. Unlike its competitors (notably, Hearthstone), Artifact forces you to spend money to get the best cards—you can’t just earn them through play. Players also didn’t love what they perceived to be RNG mechanics, nor were they fans of other ways the game encouraged them to spend money. At the end of March, after a period of prolonged silence, Valve announced long-term plans to overhaul Artifact, but it has no timeframe for when that process will be complete.

While Artifact was cratering, Auto Chess’ star was on the rise. At the start of the year, the Dota 2 mod—which has been likened to deck-building card games despite focusing on pieces instead of cards—became one of the most-played anythings on Steam. Its mixture of casual-friendly design, mid-match progression, ocean-deep strategic variety, and just the right amount of randomness becomes immediately (some would say horrifyingly) apparent.

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Despite mechanical differences, some fans likened Auto Chess to Artifact, saying that modders made a better Dota card game than Valve. Unsurprisingly, Valve has now emulated it, and the digital storefront-operator-turned-game-developer is already reaping the rewards.

League of Legends developer Riot’s version of Auto Chess, Teamfight Tactics, has been a huge success, taking over Twitch after its open beta launch earlier this week and causing test servers to buckle under constant strain. Underlords seems to be headed down a similar path, though the servers seem to be doing much better.

Source: Kotaku.com