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PSA: DO NOT BUY DARK MATTER

The newest game from InterWave Studios, a Metroidvania/horror game called Dark Matter, came out the other day and it has one massive flaw: The game is literally unfinished. The Steam forum is full of people who have "completed" the game...Which suddenly ends about four hours in, presenting you with a cheap, unceremonious black screen with white text that tells you "the game is over, click to return to the main menu." Nothing is resolved; you just go through a random door that looks like every other door and that's it. Of course, this is mentioned NO WHERE on the game description, and it isn't being sold as an Early Access game. Apparently the developers ran out of money and just said "**** it, release that ****" after they failed to meet their goals on Kickstarter.

This is just downright disgusting and I really hope that GOG and Steam take this game down until the developers can find a way to finish it. I give indies a lot of leniency, in both my reviews and personal gaming habits. I understand that a small team with a minimal budget has to cut corners, and I look past a lot of jankiness that I would flip tables over if it was in a AAA release, but this is just inexcusable. It's a real shame too, because I liked InterWave's previous game, Nuclear Dawn, and had some hope that Dark Matter might be decent. I promoted the game on a Greenlight Spotlight some time back. I even hear that Dark Matter is pretty good, but all of that is rendered void when you release a game that is literally incomplete.

So yeah, avoid this game at all costs. Hell, send an email to GOG and Steam to complain. At the very least this game needs to be moved to Early Access and not be sold in such a way that it misleads people into buying an unfinished product. This isn't even the first time this has happened on Steam, and just further proof that Valve seriously needs to check this **** before putting games up for sale.

Buy Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages you dummies

Hopefully you guys see this in time; the new layout makes finding new blogs a giant pain in the ass.

Ring Runner is the current featured deal on IndieGameStand. As with all featured deals on the site, 10% of each purchase goes to charity (In this case Kids Need to Read) and if you pay above the average you get some nice extras. One of this year's sadly underrated gems because it can't get on Steam. It has some serious pacing problems in the first half of the campaign, and not too many people are playing online, but it is an awesome physics-based, top-down space shooter/RPG. BUY IT!

Also, would you kindly not be a jackass and pay $1 or something stupid like that just because it is "pay what you want?" It's a good game that has been selling like crap because the developers can't get out of Steam Greenlight Limbo and they could really use your money, to say nothing about the fact that some of the earnings go to charity.

Not On Steam

In case you haven't heard about this sale yet, I wrote a handy article. I can't tell you much about most the games on sale because I don't really know about many of them, but I can say that you should stop being dumb and buy Ring Runner while its $5. Of course Race The Sun is there too, and Inescapable, Full Bore, and Tower of Guns all look promising. Really though, just browse around the site, I'm sure you'll find some interesting games that you've never heard of before. Don't forget to visit the Greenlight pages too.

Ring Runner Review and new Greenlight Spotlight

I reviewed Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages a while back. It's a really solid game, if you can get past the rather slow start, and still has yet to be Greenlit on Steam. You can currently find it on GOG, GamersGate, and basically every other major digital distributor besides Steam. I also did a new Greenlight Spotlight today. Despite Valve Greenlighting 100 games recently, there are still a lot of gems sitting there in limbo.

As usual, I've been playing a lot of indie games lately. If you haven't bought it yet, go get Papers, Please. It's one of the most compelling games of this year, and has some serious messages to get across. It's the perfect example of why I love the indie scene so much, and it's one of those gems that keeps me interested in this hobby despite all the BS and idiocy coming from major publishers. I've been playing around with Steam Big Picture mode lately on my TV. I recently got around to buying a new controller for my PC, a Logitech F310, mainly because Guacamelee is almost unplayable with a keyboard and mouse. Even remapping the controls isn't an ideal solution, the way throws and special attacks work just doesn't translate well to an input device that lacks analogue sticks. If you do have a controller though, then you'll find one of the best Metroidvania-style games to come out in some time. I've also be playing Strike Suit Zero, which I picked up during the summer sale. Its...decent. The controls in Strike Mode just don't feel right, the missions are too scripted, and some of the gun weapons just seem underpowered. The optional objectives to unlock fighter upgrades are also a tad insane at times. It isn't a bad game, but maybe not something I'd recommend at full price. Maybe give it a go during a sale.

I'm looking for more stuff to cover on Gameverse right now. I never did a follow-up interview about Warmachine: Tactics, mainly because the Kickstarter ended at a bad time. I may still do that at some point. There are a lot of games that we never did cover on Gameverse, like Shadowrun Returns. I do want to start a preview series looking at games on Steam Early Access. I just need a snappy name for it.

My first interview!

So, I bagged my first interview as a game journalist. It was with Lyle Lowery, marketing manager at Privateer Press, and covers some basic questions about Warmachine: Tactics. I tried asking a good mix of questions aimed at both current Warmachine fans and gamers who have never heard of the franchise before. After all, the Kickstarter is attracting attention from (video) gamers that have never played, or even heard of, the tabletop game. I also have a (rather lengthy) new Greenlight Spotlight.

Expeditions: Conquistador Review

My review for Expeditions: Conquistador is done and on Gameverse. It has some flaws and missed potential, but I'd still recommend giving it a look. The Kickstarter for the Warmachine video game goes live tomorrow. I already have an interview lined up with their PR guy, so we'll be exchanging emails over the next few days and I'll get an article up about the game sometime in the near future.

New Greenlight Spotlight and other stuff

The last week or so has been both good and bad. My internship with Gameverse is almost over, and with it I've accumulated all the requirements I need to graduate from UAT with an Associate's Degree in Game Design. Those four years went by so fast. I'm kind of sad to be done...I actually really enjoyed by time as a UAT student. The downside is that now we have to start really worrying about those student loans. We got an email from one saying that we are late on a payment, which is actually their fault because we never got a statement for last month. Needless to say, my family and I will be paying student loans for quite some time. Maybe I should have followed in my family's footsteps and did a short stint in the military. That would have helped pay for college, and at one time I really was interested in being a tanker.

But the good side! I'm staying at Gameverse for now as a journalist. They are working on revamping the site and offered me a job. I'm probably going to find another little part-time job around town to help with the student loans, at least for now. I'm about to go reserve a PS4 as well. If I'm serious about covering indie games, I'm going to need one as soon as possible. You know, for research. I probably need to upgrade my desktop PC at some point too, it is about four years old now. Still reliable, but not as fast and flashy as she once was. I'm also still playing Expedition: Conquistador. I'm apparently just over halfway through the game, so a review should be coming soon. Until then, new Greenlight Spotlight.

The other good news is that Privateer Press announced Warmachine: Tactics yesterday! As I mentioned briefly in the article, I'm a bit wary about WhiteMoon Dreams. This is their first game, and they have a bad tendency to go dark on us, which is a big no-no for a Kickstarter. Still, I'm pretty excited. I even shot an email to Privateer Press about doing future coverage on the game. They returned my email this morning; I bagged my first interview. I'll send them some questions after the Kickstarter goes live. And my new Warmachine faction comes out in like 2 weeks!

So yeah, despite the whole loan sharks owning my soul thing, the future is looking pretty good.

Why Microsoft's One-80 doesn't mean as much as you think it does

After Microsoft announced yesterday that they are reversing their used games and DRM policy, gamers everywhere exploded into self-congratulatory joy. This is such a huge victory for consumer rights! The immense backlash helped sway Microsoft away from a bunch of horrible policies! It's time to go out and preorder an Xbox One now, right?

Not so fast. There is still another big, stompy bugbear that seems to have slipped past everyone's radar last night, and that bugbear is called "the cloud." Go review all the E3 coverage where MS and game companies making Xbone exclusives praised this mysterious cloud and how it will greatly improve our gaming experience. Play a drinking game where you take a swig whenever someone mentions "the cloud allows us to do things that would otherwise be impossible," preferably when they don't actually explain how or why "TEH CLOUDZ" will be so important. Actually, don't do that, you'll be dead from alcohol poisoning before you are done with even one article.

The problem is that cloud computing, by its very nature, requires a constant Internet connection. Games that make heavy use of the cloud, even if they are single player, will therefore require an Internet connection. I seem to remember something like this happening before...several times, in fact. They were called Diablo III and SimCity. What I'm seeing here with the Xbone's emphasis on the cloud isn't some positive force for gamers that will immensely improve our experience, but rather thinly disguised always-on DRM. Remember when EA went on and on about how SimCity's reliance on remote servers (aka "the cloud") was going to be an amazing feature and how the game would be impossible without being powered by this magical fairy dust of miracles? Remember how well that went?

From where I'm sitting, it looks like very little has actually changed. My cynical side is seeing this reversal as a last ditch PR campaign, a PR campaign full of half-truths and misinformation. Yes, the online DRM is technically gone, but the emphasis on "the cloud" and its mystical properties makes this a moot point. In other words, the Xbox One itself doesn't have online DRM anymore, but cloud computing could more or less be used as a type of always-online DRM by forcing it into games where it really doesn't need to be.

Need I remind you that the Kinect is still required, and after hearing about Microsoft's involvement with the NSA's PRISM project, I'm even more wary of having a camera/microphone that is constantly scanning my room and always listening. I also have no doubt that the Kinect will be used for more nefarious purposes, like allowing Microsoft to make more targeted and aggressive ads for the service that you already pay $60 a year for.

Even more relevant for me, as a huge consumer (And reviewer) of indie games, is that Microsoft's utterly stupid publishing policies are still in place. I simply can't, and don't want to, support such a ridiculously anti-indie console. Indies are one of the few bastions of creativity and innovation in this increasingly stagnant industry, to say nothing about how consumer-friendly many indie companies are. Look at all the free content that companies like CDProjekt and Ronimo have given their fans post-launch, while most major publishers are already talking about DLC months before the game is out (Battlefield 4...XCOM Declassified).

So I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm still not going to buy an Xbox One, and all of you should still be wary of it too. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Microsoft has conveniently left out information during their reversal announcement. Just minor information, like how "the cloud" is basically just going to be a renamed DRM system. Kind of like how Blizzard and EA tried to pull the wool over our eyes by saying that Diablo III and SimCity "aren't really single player games" and "The always-online connection will come with major benefits! Trust us! Nothing bad will happen..."

Gunpoint Review

That Gunpoint review I talked about is finally done and up on Gameverse right now. There was also a few new Greenlights recently. GOG's summer sale just started today. Most games on the site are 50% off, and they will have new bundles every day until July 5th. Today's bundles are the Alan Wake games for $4 and all the D&D classics for $21. You can also grab a free copy of Torchlight...for the three people who don't already own Torchlight.

I'll probably do a new Greenlight Spotlight this weekend. I'm looking for my next review now. Quite a bit of recent stuff that was never covered by Gameverse, like Prime World: Defenders, The Swapper, and Expeditions: Conquistador. Magrunner: Dark Pulse is due in two days. I may also start dipping into the Early Access section to do previews. I'm curious to see how Xenonauts is looking these days.