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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Square Enix: DRM is “essential for the foreseeable future”">Deus Ex: Human Revolution

In a new interview, an executive at Square Enix has doubled-down on the company s DRM policy. The executive claims that DRM protects profits at the end of the day, and that s the most important thing to any development studio, big or small.

The primary benefit to us is the same as with any business: profit, Adam Sullivan, the senior manager of business and legal affairs at Square Enix, told TorrentFreak. We have a well-known reputation for being very protective of our IPs, which does deter many would-be pirates. When asked if DRM actually works, he responded, ffectiveness is notoriously difficult to measure in short, we rely on the data available to us through our sales team and various vendors, along with consumer feedback.

When asked if DRM is here to stay, Sullivan said, "This depends on your definition of DRM, but generally yes I think DRM will be essential for the foreseeable future.

For all of the many strides being made in the DRM conversation, it s a bit depressing when a company stands up and makes the same arguments we ve been hearing for years decades, even. Server authentication through reliable networks like Steam have taken some of the sting out of modern DRM, but even so there have been more than a few recent disasters. In the meantime, companies who foster goodwill with their player-bases and offer DRM-free alternatives are becoming a larger part of the discussion and thank goodness for that.

To read the full interview with Sullivan, head over to TorrentFreak.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Updated: The Elder Scrolls Online item duplication bug forces Zenimax to shut down guild banks">The Elder Scrolls Online economy right now

An economy-crippling bug caused The Elder Scrolls Online to disable its Guild Banks on North American and European servers early Friday. Developer Zenimax has already put together a fix in the latest patch, but some users are complaining that they ve been trying to warn developers about the problem for weeks.

The item duplicating bug became widely known after a thread about the problem hit the front page of Reddit. In that thread, redditor Mistress-Rarity writes that the bug is so simple, in fact, that it is possible to do it by pure accident. The game servers have been filled with layers in full legendary gear, billions of gold (From duping and selling them to vendors over and over), and so much more.

A few videos showing how to duplicate items have been uploaded to YouTube, though the video s instructions can no longer be put to use since the Guild Banks were suspended. One such video is below:

Bugs that damage the fragile in-game economy are nothing new. More troubling, though, are the many users commenting that the bug has been widely known since before the game launched three weeks ago. A deleted ESO forum thread (cached here) contains users posting that they first heard about the bug as early as this spring s beta test weekends or even last fall. Users claim to have reported the bug to Zenimax numerous times throughout development.

The ramifications for the in-game economy are pretty dire. If item duplication has been going on for this long, then those illegal items have already been used, traded, and sold throughout the economy. Trying to ban users might be hard if the bug is easy to do accidentally, and rolling back servers will result in a lot of players losing their hard-earned progress thanks to a few cheaters.

We ve reached out to Zenimax Online for comment, and we ll report back when we have an update.

Update: A PR representative at Zenimax told PC Gamer, "Yesterday, we identified an item duping bug in ESO that some players chose to exploit. We acted quickly, and have since fixed the issue. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to abusing exploitable bugs, and those who were found doing so will have their game account permanently banned."
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Take On Mars: Expedition One launches, ready to put humans on the Red Planet">tkom_expeditionone_update1_03 (1)

You will never step foot on Mars. Let that slightly depressing feeling that you were born in the wrong time sink in. Now cheer up and take comfort that you at least have the technology to play pretend in a videogame. Bohemia Interactive has released the first portion of its manned mission content for Take On Mars for current Early Access players.

Titled Expedition One, the update allows you to explore the Red Planet and establish a self-sufficient human habitat. This first portion give you access to a manned science buggy featuring an interactive 3D interface, and will ask you to explore the Cydonia Mensae location which spans 8x8 km. You ll also be able to use a 3D printer to construct various parts that can be put together to build a Habitat Construction System, which you then use to form other buildings and installations.

Take On Mars is still in Steam Early Access and costs $18/ 12 The next portion of Expedition One will release in May 2014, and will allow you to mess around with resource extraction, habitat pressurization, and your marsonaut vitals.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Brutal Doom update v20 to add ragdoll physics, more brutality">Brutal-Doom

I didn t think it was possible for Doom to get any better, but mods make everything better. The absurdly violent Brutal Doom mod is doing a great job of keeping Doom just as shocking and visceral of an experience as it was when it first came out 20 years ago, and the newest version will add ragdoll physics because when I shotgun an Imp, I wanna see it tumble.

The Brutal Doom mod, which you may have seen us squee about before, adds new effects, animations, way too much blood, and other things that heighten the experience. v20, as you can see in the video above, makes each shotgun blast even more satisfying by knocking the enemy back an unreasonable distance. To me it looks like the right amount of ridiculous, but creator Sergeant_Mark_IV said he s going to tone it down a notch.

I have been playing a lot of Killing Floor lately and noticed how small zeds are sent rolling on the floor when killed by shotguns at close range, I love this effect, then I thought about making something similar on Brutal Doom, he said. Of course it will not send almost every enemy flying away like in the video. I will reduce the minimum range from 300 to 200 units. I mean, the shotgun will only send flying enemies that are VERY close to the player, and shooting on the legs or heads still causes amputations.

When it comes out, v20 should also make the mod run smoother, make blood splatters and ejected magazine last longer, and other nifty things. It seems like Facebook is the best place to keep up with it, and you can download it for free from Moddb.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Tropico 5 pre-orders now available for swag-filled physical, discounted digital versions">Tropico-5

You know that a publisher has faith in its game when it starts offering special editions with silly bonuses. You may think of the Tropico games as a niche PC series, but this recently announced Tropico 5 Limited Special Edition argues otherwise. It s not quite as silly as, for example, Wolfenstein: The New Order Panzerhund Edition that includes everything but the actual game, but it tries.

If you pre-order a physical copy of The Tropico 5 Limited Special Edition you ll get a snazzy avatar costume for your El Presidente. Kalypso neglected to mention any further details about it, so for now we ll have to let our imaginations run wild with the snazzy adjective. The actually substantive addition here is another map for the game s sandbox mode called Bayo del Olfato ( Bay of Smell? The Smelly Bay? ). Finally, it wouldn t be a special edition without some physical swag, so it also includes an authentic Tropico passport.

If you re going digital, you can pre-purchase the game from Steam with a 10 percent discount, which will also get you the Businessman avatar custom and the Isla de Vapor sandbox map.

If getting the best deal right now is all you care about, you can get Tropico 5 from the Kalypso Launcher for a 15 percent discount, but keep in mind it won t have any Steamworks features. All of the versions will be available on the game's release date, May 23.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The week’s highs and lows in PC gaming">Hightop

Each week PC Gamer probes the previous seven days to scientifically establish what rocked our world and made us despair for its very future. As usual, we begin with the good stuff


Cory Banks: This one s easy: the high point of my week was getting Peter Durante Thoman to evaluate the technology behind From Software s Dark Souls 2 PC version. We re talking about the guy who single-handedly saved Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition from itself, restoring the kinds of features we PC gamers expect from our games. His technical analysis is astounding in part because of how simple it is: he breaks down the state of the game s engine so easily that you don t need a degree in quantum videocard design to understand how improved it is.

That Durante s analysis is just one part of our two-week crusade to give you everything you need to know

about Dark Souls 2 is, really, just so freakin great. Expect much more soon, including Durante's tweak guide to getting the game looking as good as it possibly can be.

Evan Lahti: PAX East was splendid. We held a stimulating panel (video archived here) on the future of PC gaming where I got to interrogate Palmer Luckey and Chris Roberts. I fell in love with a new roguelike, and Cory fell in love with a new Capybara game. Cory and Tyler also got to try Evolve for the first time, which they were quite impressed by. And almost two-thousand people came to our party, which featured The Crystal Method.

My favorite part about it, though, was realizing that being accompanied by a camera makes it socially appropriate for me to just go up and talk to other PC gamers.

Tim Clark: Sam Roberts, our UK editor, and I were discussing this week how one of the best things about working on PC Gamer is there s never a drought. There s always so much interesting stuff happening, that the hard part is deciding what not to cover. I love being able to write about AAA behemoths one minute and weird indie curios the next. No surprise, though, that it s so much easier to deal direct with smaller studios. Easily my highlight this week was speaking to Hinterland Games Raphael van Lierop about The Long Dark. You can read about his game s so-pretty-it-hurts vision for the end of the world here. After our Skype call I bugged him to listen to Farewell Trasmission by Songs: Ohia on the basis that it ends with Jason Molina (RIP) howling long dark blues! Safe to say that s not how the Call Of Duty dev interviews tend to go these days.

Wes Fenlon: Civilization: Beyond Earth is almost certainly going to be the game to drag me into the Civilization series. I've long preferred real-time strategy to turn-based I couldn't tell you how many hours I've poured into Command & Conquer, Red Alert 2, and Warcraft 2 over the years but recently Total War and Endless Space have given me the 4X bug. And there's just something special about space as a strategy setting. It suggests endless possibility, an entire galaxy to explore instead of a single planet. Of course, that's also a little intimidating. I can already see weeks of my life slipping away as I brush up on my history with Galactic Civilizations and Alpha Centauri.


Wes Fenlon: I'm sad that there's absolutely nothing about The Elder Scrolls Online that makes it even a little bit interesting to me. Our review couldn't make it sound much less inspired, and the traditional MMO formula quickly leaves me bored. There are simply too many games selling the same grind. With Guild Wars 2 around, any new MMO launching with a monthly fee better do something bold and innovative to be worth paying $10 for every month. I don't think ESO is that game, but I hope Sony's plans for Everquest give the MMO genre a hard kick in the pants.

Cory Banks: It wasn t super surprising, but getting confirmation that CCP has canceled its long-in-development World of Darkness MMO is still sad. The game itself could have been something special, with all of the ambition that has made EVE: Online a one-of-a-kind MMO experience. Sadly, it won t happen, and it means CCP has had to lay off 56 team members. We hope everyone lands on their feet and keeps making amazing games.

Tim Clark: Aside from the strangeness (from the outside, at least) of veteran Halo composer Martin O Donnell s apparent firing, it also reminded me that Destiny still hasn t been announced for PC, and how ass-backwards a decision that feels in 2014. I mean, shouldn t someone at Blizzard gently remind someone at Activision that the PC is an astonishingly vibrant platform on which you can make quite a lot of money? I mean, hey, it s not like we re short of exciting new shooters like this, this and this in development, but I suspect a belated port of Destiny will still feel like something of a missed opportunity.

Evan Lahti: Despite a thorough regimen of convention food, the PAX pox (known in the scientific community as H1Nerd1 (at least it isn t H1Z1, right?)) made residence in Tyler and I s bodies. We re still recovering our HP and MP, but working through the weekend was absolutely worth it. At least we ll have some playoff hockey (Tyler: San Jose; me: Detroit) to tune into over the weekend while we recover.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Ask PAX: PC gamers on the state of PC gaming">ask-pc-gamers

One of my PAX East discoveries was that a media badge and a camera gives me full license to talk to strangers. After our panel on Friday, I spent some of Saturday cruising the LAN and BYOC area and the rest of the show floor to survey PC gamers on what they're playing, what they're looking forward to, and what they love about our favorite hobby.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Dark Souls 2 comparison video: Xbox 360 vs. PC at 1080p">darksouls2-small-13

Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition was a bad port of a brilliant game. Dark Souls 2, on the other hand, is a well-made PC port (even super-modder Durante thinks so). But just hearing that isn't enough: how much better does it look on PC than on consoles?

To find out, we made this video of side-by-side comparisons between the Xbox 360 version and the PC version running at 1080p, with all settings set to max, on the Large Pixel Collider. Let the footage be the judge which do you think looks better?

We have a lot more to say about Dark Souls 2 in the week before its release. We've already given you tips on staying alive longer, shown you a few of my stupidest deaths, and asked Peter "Durante" Thoman to talk about its engine. Stay tuned for more on Dark Souls 2, leading up to our review on Friday, April 25.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Long Dark’s creative director explains why the apocalypse doesn’t need zombies">newtop1

From the Aztecs worrying about the sun disappearing from the sky, to Hollywood's endless variations on the end of the world, it seems like every civilisation is fascinated with the idea that it might be the last. Perhaps it's a sign of humanity's general narcissism, with each generation secretly hoping to be the one left staring into the abyss at the end of it all, because that might make us special. Or maybe folk just like seeing what happens when stuff goes really wrong.

The Long Dark is going to deliver a comparatively restrained, but no less frightening, vision of our demise. It's a survival game, funded on Kickstarter, which has already generated plenty of buzz for its startling visuals. The end of the world has rarely looked prettier. And it has also never been more popular on PC. MMOs like Rust, DayZ, and the forthcoming H1Z1 are dealing with the collapse of society in lurid, and let's be honest, often quite funny, ways, as players behave exactly as reprehensibly as you'd expect from survivors eking out a living in the End Days. But there are other games, like Telltale's hugely successful The Walking Dead episodes, which look to paint a slightly more considered, and humane, picture of the apocalypse.

The Walking Dead is the link I immediately make with The Long Dark, which is being created by Canadian startup Hinterland Games. I spoke with founder and creative director Raphael van Lierop about the team's goals for the game, starting with whether he thinks a free-roaming version of The Walking Dead is a fair comparison. "I think that s fair," he says. "Certainly, they were an excellent example of how to deliver a story-driven adventure game within a fairly confined, linear experience."

However, the games' paths start to diverge at that point. There are no zombies in The Long Dark. Your antagonists will be the environment itself, in the form of hunger, lack of shelter, and the cold, as well as the animals wandering around the stunningly illustrated Northern wilderness, and, of course, other people. Because people are the worst, and the total breakdown of law and order hasn't helped their manners at all.

Van Lierop definitely isn't trying to out-bleak The Walking Dead, though. "We won t deal with moral choices the way that they did," he says. "Like, 'you have four seconds to decide which of these two people is going to survive'. Our approach will be quite different from that." Part of that approach will be ensuring that players, who'll be exploring a world in which technology has failed entirely due to an unspecified geomagnetic event, get to experience moments of beauty and hope amidst all the tension and horror.

The easiest way to achieve that effect, according to van Lierop, is by giving mother nature a makeover. "We ve adopted a very storybook, painterly art style," he says, "and we emphasise bright colours, and have these very dramatic sunsets." Once the stars are out, The Long Dark is arguably even prettier. As in Skyrim, the aurora borealis allow for some stunning skyboxes. Indeed, the Northern Lights are so important to the game's aesthetic, that in the original pitch video van Lierop describes them as a visual metaphor for the power of nature and how the world has changed.

The message seems to be: In a world gone to hell, beauty matters even more. "Nature is, in a lot of ways, neutral to your existence," says van Lierop. "Just like zombies are neutral to your existence. But you'll have these moments when you crest a hill and see this beautiful landscape. You might be in the midst of freezing or starving to death, but as a player you ll still think: "Wow. That s beautiful."

The team at Hinterland currently comprises 10 staff, most of whom have a background in AAA development. The dichotomy between nature's beauty and its inherent dangerousness is something van Lierop has carried over from the pre-production work he was involved with on Far Cry 3, where one of the key design ideas was 'savage beauty'. He's also drawn on a lot of his own time exploring the Northern Canadian wilderness: "You know that at any point if you make a bad decision, or you have an accident, that you could go from vacationing in a beautiful, exotic place to being in a very dramatic survival situation."

Van Lierop cites Cormac McCarthy's none-more-grim novel The Road and Fallout 3 as The Long Dark's other key influences. Bethesda's post-nukes RPG sparked his imagination because: "Everything you saw on the horizon was potentially an interesting place to explore. I found that so compelling, and I remember thinking: 'What would this be like if there was no combat? What if it was just wandering through the environment? There's no zombies, there's no nothing, you're just looking for places and trying to survive.'"

The design has evolved since then, and you will be able to shoot animals, but with resources inevitably scarce that often won't be the best approach. So, if combat isn't at the core of what The Long Dark is going to be, what is? The game begins in the immediate aftermath of your plane crash-landing in the wilderness as a result of the unexplained geomagnetic event. As pilot Will McKenzie, you stumble out of the wreckage, and presumably immediately begin to regret not wearing thermal underwear for the flight.

Though this is an open world, which you're free to explore as you choose, it won't be as open as, say, Skyrim. The comparison van Lierop makes instead is with Stalker. "It didn't have huge contiguous maps where you could just move seamlessly from one area to another you would go through a connective portal, and it's the same for us." The point here is that it will make it easier for Hinterland to funnel the player and manage the narrative aspects of the game. Specifically, the encounters you need to have with other humans to drive the story forwards.

In addition to the not insignificant task of staying alive, you'll gradually discover how the world has changed in the aftermath of magnetgate, as no-one else is calling it, and perhaps eventually discover the cause of the disaster. That's a way off though. The Long Dark is being built in seasons, in both senses of the word, the first of which will be winter, and will comprise an as yet unspecified number episodes before the focus shifts to spring. The arc will cover an entire year, and the suggestion is that you can expect significant cast changes over the course of it.

Again The Walking Dead link seems clear, but van Lierop doesn't think you'll mind the lack of zombies. "I think the fascination with the zombie genre particularly is almost a cathartic thing. The more zombies we can shoot in videogames, the more control we might feel about the way the world is around us. Maybe the world feels like it's falling apart around us and that's our way of coping with it. they're not even that much of a threat. It's really the humans who survive, and how society's mores change in light of the zombie invasion: that's the real threat."

It will be key to the potential success of The Long Dark that your encounters with strangers have some subtlety to them. Something that's tricky to achieve, beyond creating ever more intricate dialogue trees. I ask van Lierop how they're hoping to handle player interaction with NPCs. "You have trepidation," he says, "you're skeptical about them, but you also recognize to some degree that your success depends on being able to interact with other survivors and learn what they know."

Again, in many instances combat will be a possible outcome, but likely a disastrous one for you, given your fragility. But as to how to give those meetings depth and nuance, van Lierop isn't ready to discuss what he thinks the solution will be, other than it's definitely on the to-do list. In addition to the main narrative mode, there's also a pure sandbox variant in which your goal will be to survive for as long as possible, which is what the team has been spending most of its energy on recently. "For a long time nobody could break through the two-day mark," he says, before excitedly telling me that someone just managed to hit five days.

Before we finish, I ask him for a typical example of how it can go wrong in survival mode, and he tells me a story about trying to make a nighttime dash from a lookout tower to a supply cache. As the sun set, and the weather began to close in, he began to hear animals in the trees. To help navigate better, he lit a flare, before climbing a hill only to find himself face to face with a wolf. Startled by the flare, it scampered off into the night. "I thought, 'Shit. If I hadn't had this flare in my hand, as soon as I came over that edge '"

The story doesn't have a happy ending. The weather closed in, swiftly turning into blizzard conditions but van Lierop designed the map, if anyone could find his way to safety in the whiteout, it ought to be him. "I walked and walked and walked," he says. "I came across various landmarks, and I thought I was on my way. I was very close to death when I thought I was at my destination, and I did that classic thing that you always read about in survival literature, which was I ended up realizing I was back at the lookout tower where I had started!"

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Forest early look: scavenging and survival in a land of clever cannibals">The Forest 1

The Forest doesn t look like a game made by just four people. Its production values are remarkable, which is thanks to its developers, Endnight Games, and their background in film production design and special effects, as well as a whole lot of talent. It s a survival game where you wake up after a plane crash in a hostile forest that s populated by cannibalistic natives. The game mixes horror and survival, but stands out from the crowd with its lavish visuals and realistic firstperson character movement.

We re a tiny team, says Ben Falcone, creative director. Our 3D animator and main 3D artist come from a VFX background, where they worked on films including Harry Potter and Snow White and the Huntsman. My background is mostly in film, where I worked on projects such as 300 and Tron: Legacy. In 2012 I released my first game, a solo effort for iPad called End Night. During development I became really excited about what was possible with Unity and a modern PC.

The Forest s subtle lighting is particularly striking, and isn t just for show. The game is lit using a full volumetric light system, with fog in-scattering and a full day/night cycle. We try to think of ways that lighting can not only be used to pull players into the world, but also to alter the gameplay experience. Get hit while holding your lighter and you ll be temporarily in complete darkness as the flame will be put out by the force. Deep underground light becomes one of your most important assets, and keeping track of how much charge your torch has left or how many flares you still have is a big deal.

I ask Falcone whether The Forest is a narrative game or an open sandbox. You ve been thrown into this world: you re not alone, what do you do, how do you survive? Unlike a lot of the survival games, however, we do have an ending. We want to avoid the issue players run into a few days/weeks into the game when they re able to survive and think, Now what? We try to keep upping the level of threat, especially with our enemies. As players progress further underground, they will be able to learn more about this enemy and possibly uncover something even more terrifying.

Richard Matheson s novel I Am Legend, he says, has been a massive influence. It s that realistic smart enemy threat that we re trying to capture. The enemies in The Forest are creatures with emotions and attachments to one another, and many will act differently depending on the situation. Some of the best moments in the game come when you re beating a mutant to death, and another jumps in the way to protect him. It really makes the player question what they re doing.

Endnight have resisted the urge to build the game around permadeath; it can be enabled, but it hasn t been solely designed for it. I love the idea of permanent death, but in practice I always find it frustrating. It s tricky to balance. Our world, although not randomly generated, has lots of random elements, the biggest being the actual plane crash it s completely random each time you start a new game giving permadeath players a fresh experience each time.

He continues: Hunger is a big part of the experience, and players will need to source berries, trap rabbits or try spearing fish to find enough food to keep their energy up. Not eating for a long time will have a negative effect on your overall energy/stamina levels and make everyday tasks much harder. Being surrounded at night by a bunch of hungry cannibals when you ve not eaten yourself means you re not in peak condition and are unlikely to survive long.

Cold and sickness also play a part, again feeding into our energy system. Stay cold for a long time and you ll burn energy, which needs to be replenished with food or sleep, but building somewhere safe to sleep, or finding food also takes energy, so it can be challenging just to stay alive in the world even without the cannibal threat.

The Forest will have native Oculus Rift support when it s released, which should make those flesh-eating forest-dwellers, and the dark, dense forest setting, even more intimidating. It feels like you re entering a different world, says Falcone. You look down and see a body, you see your feet in the dirt. It feels like being there. Walking through the forest during the day and seeing the light rays coming down through the trees can be a really calming, serene experience. Then deep in a cave, moving through a tight space, you see something pale and strange moving in the distance. That s really scary.

But if you can t stomach the horror, Endnight say there ll be an optional peaceful mode where the cannibals and other horror elements can effectively be disabled . No release date has been set, but an alpha version is out in May. I hope the game itself can live up to those stunning visuals. It s an exciting time to be a PC gamer when a team of just four people can create something this impressive.

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