ARK: Survival Evolved has Gone Gold, Release Date Announced

After two years in early access, Ark has finally gone gold and is scheduled to release on August 29th. While i don’t get the point of survival games (and wasn’t exactly pleased to see Ark releasing paid DLC before being a finished product), it is good to  see the dev teams hard work has finally paid off. Now the question is: will it matter?

While the game hasn’t been in a finished state, it has been playable for the past two years. I was going to pose the question of “if the player base has dropped, will the game actually being released be enough to bring them back”.  But after doing a bit of digging, i found this:

1

This more or less says that, at the time of writing, the game’s player base has been more or less consistent over the last two years. That’s all well and good, but now another question comes to mind: what if everyone who wants the game already has it? As far as i’m aware, survive games are a  rather niche genre, and with a preexisting installed player base it doesn’t look to be a welcoming place for new comers. I could be totally off base here, granted, But i do have to ask: if there isn’t a large player base interested in the game who doesn’t already have it, how do you make any money off it? More DLC? Sure, that could work, but that requires more development time. I guess what i’m trying to figure out is, now that the game is done, how does it benefit from that fact? I’m not trying to say the game should stay in early access or that this isn’t an accomplishment for the dev team, it’s just a question that’s been on my mind.

The Bullshot Stops Here

In the wake of the controversy surrounding No Mans Sky and it’s use of Bullshots (images and videos not representative of a games final product), Valve just added a new rule for those hoping to use their storefront. The message to devs in the recent SteamWorks forum stated that “…images uploaded to the ‘screenshot’ section of you store page are actually screenshots of your game.” This means that only real, representative images of a game are allowed under Steams new rules. No concept art, no pre-rendered images, and no more bullshots. While it’s hard to praise Valve for doing this when it should have been the rule from day one, it is one of a few positive steps the company has been making lately to reign in some of nastier habits devs and publishers have been pulling.

It’s easy to forget in a lot of gaming circles, where cynicism has long set in after years of games never living up to the E3 stage demo, that not every one is quite clued into just how over blown video game advertisements can be. Again, this should have been done ages ago, but i find it hard to fault anything that helps gives consumers more power and information in their purchasing decisions.

Digital Homicide is Dead! Dead! Helleluyah!!!

stupid-shit-2

What do you get when you try suing both your costumers and one of the only store fronts willing to house your work? Bankrupt, that’s what you get. In an interview with techraptor.net the Development Duo said that “The case dismissal was only due to financial reasons caused by the removal of our games”, though they failed to mention that their games were removed for…you know….suing steam customers. Wow, it’s almost like these two have no form of self awareness whatsoever. Who’da thunk? Personally i think this news is long overdue. Once DigiHom showed more creativity in getting into pissing matches with nay-Sayers than they did making games, i couldn’t see any point in Steam continuing to sell their games. In a year filled with so much stupid it’s nice to know there’s still some good in the universe.

PS: 10 awesome points to anyone who got the Vader reference in headline/

Valve Digitally Murders Digital Homicide

14364835_189118131516895_5673404951913894483_n

After stupidly trying to sue Youtuber Jim (Fucking) Sterling (Son) it would seem like the duo behind Digital Homicide have found something they enjoy just as much as making awful games: filing moronic lawsuits. That’s right, if you said anything negative about these two shitlords, you may be one of the 100 anonymous steam users who are being sued. While this is so goddamn stupid i want to believe it’s an Onion or Point and Clickbait article, sadly this is in fact a real news story. But don’t fret children, there is an upside to this as well. While Valve was more than happy to let DigHom rip off players their a flood of asset flip “games”, suing steam costumers seems to be their line in the sand. All of Digital Homicide’s games have been removes from Steam, as well as their greenlight projects as well from what i’ve been told. That means that the only storefront carrying their games is no longer willing to deal with them. Sadly i can’t say for sure if this means any future games by the duo will be available or not, but we can hope Valve sees the value in keeping them away. We can also hope that this will end up as a warning other asset flipping garbage pushers, but i wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

While not officially released, Ark drops Paid DLC.

“Ark: Survival Evolved” has been in early accesses for over a year now. You would think the development team would have been using this time and the money made from the $30 asking price to finish the game, but it seems they had different plans. Last Thursday the development team released a $20 expansion for the called “Scorched Earth”, but the game has still not left steam early access. So in order to get the full experience of this unfinished game you’ll have to fork over nearly as much cash as a full retail game.

Now, i have an issue with either early access or DLC, but this is bothers me greatly. To me this is the developer using the “early access” label to undermine criticism for what should be a finished game.  I could be wrong, but that’s the only way i can see them thinking this was a good idea. The fact of the matter is, if you are already charging for a game that isn’t finished, your main focus should be on finishing the game and not on getting more money out of an unfinished product.

The Final Station Review

By William Shelton

Release Date: August 30th, 2016

Systems: PC(Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One

Developer: Do My Best Games

Publisher: tinyBuild Games

Rating: N/A

Obtained By: Review Code Provided by Publisher

Trains are amazing things. The wide spread use of them helped build the US as we know it today, and they’re still in high use in places like Japan and…..Japan is the only one I know to he honest. So with that knowledge it’s kind of amazing more games don’t use them as a focal point. I mean honestly, how has no developer ripped off Snowpiercer yet? Getting back on track, The Final Station is a game where you play as a train conductor after the apocalypse. Is it full steam ahead or a total train wreck? All aboard and we’ll find out.

In The Final Station you play as a train conductor 106 years after an alien invasion. On this particular day it seems like the world might be facing another invasion, and you are tasked with taking important defense materials to where they are needed while also finding any survivors who may need help. While the games main story isn’t much to write home about, each station and survivor you find has their own story and I found those to be very entertaining. Unfortunately, the act of experiencing them could use some work. I remember once I had a group of survivors in the train argued about a conspiracy surrounding the First Visitation. I was enthused with the conversation, but I was only able to get bits and pieces of it as my attention was diverted and NPC conversations kept going even while I wasn’t able to pay attention to them. Because of this I didn’t really experiences a lot of these stories as fully as I wish I had. Not knowing how those two survivors worked out their conflicting feelings on the truth behind The First Visitation annoys me. And that’s not the only story I can say that about. The late game makes up for this a bit with a pretty great piece of environmental storytelling and an ending that is rather heart breaking. You could speed through the story like an express train through a vacant station, but I enjoyed taking the scenic route.

Gameplay is split between taking care of the train and it’s passengers and exploring towns and stations. The train sections are the low point, as most of what you do is some light puzzles making sure the different sections of the train aren’t drawing too much power. Not a bad idea for a core mechanic, but so little goes wrong at any one point that these sections feel like busy work. I was never rushing from one section of the train to another, instead I was casually strolling every now and again. Taking care of the passengers isn’t much better. You have to keep track of their health and hunger, but the ones who need it the most are almost never worth the effort. There were times I’d find myself wasting all my health packs on someone because they offered the best rewards only for them to die anyways due to reopening wounds. Or, maybe that was due to the fact that a train conductor was playing nurse. None of this is bad, I just wish it was expanded upon more. As it exists right now these sections feel more like they are there to give the player something to do between missions. But, with just a little more work they could have really added a lot to the core experience. For example, if too much went wrong and the player ignored it, what if the train broke down, forcing them into an impromptu mission to find replacement parts? What if as passengers died the others began to decide it was in their best interest to take their chances on their own? Minor additions like that would have helped the game greatly.

The Final Station Pic 3
There is some brilliant scale work done in this game

Combat and exploration fairs better however. Most of the places you stop are deserted and overrun with zombie like people infected by an alien virus. You have to go out and look for the code that disengages the locks on the train to get moving again, while also looking for supplies and survivors. I never found these sections to be hard, but they were enjoyably suspenseful. Rooms are blacked out until you open doors or windows, so you never know whats coming your way until it’s right there. And like in most survival horror games, health and ammo is always scarce and hard to find. Because of this, even when I knew I could shoot my way through an area I still moved with trepidation through each location.

1
What’s across the street? Health? Ammo? Death? No way to know.

The only complaint I have about these sections is that they don’t evolve enough throughout the course of the game. The scope of the towns and stations you explore increases, sure, but you’re doing the same thing each time. With this making up the bulk of the game play, some mechanics changes every now and again would have been appreciated. The enemy variety does help with this to an extent, but one or two big shakeups to the formula would still have gone a long way. As is, the combat still manages to impress, but playing for extended periods gets tedious.

3

The visuals and sound design never failed to impress however. Not only does the game look fantastic, but if you take the time too look at the back grounds there are some pretty damn gorgeous back drops. Add to that the sparse use of music and you get that classic survival horror feeling of isolation. Most of the games sound track is just your footsteps echoing on whatever surface you’re walking on until a fight breaks out. When music does come in its either disconcerting or somber, matching the games tone perfectly.

The game was tense when it needed to be and was engaging through out the four hours I spent with it. It may not scare the pants off of you like some other games and you may not find your self going back to it once it’s over, but I defiantly recommend giving this a look. The Final Station gave me a good few hours of tension and that’s all I wanted out of it. Some aspects of the game left me wanting more, but that’s only because what’s there was so good to begin with. It might be a bit of a bumpy ride at times, but this is still a train worth catching.

FS Review Scores

In the Wake of Gambling Controversy Valve may finally start Moderating Steam

I Love Steam, but it’s hard to praise Valve too much as their lessay fair attitude to moderating the site has allowed for a lot of bullshit to filter though. Well, that might be changing soon as in an unprecedented attempt to reign in steam related issues Valve will start sending out cease and desist letters to gambling sites that use Steam assets. In the statement form Erik Johnson it was even noted that Valve would “… further pursue the matter as necessary”.

It’s been made clear that this is due to the back lash when two youtubers started advertising one of these gambling sites without discoing they owned  and were profiting off it. Now all that remains to be will this new found ownership over steam issues mean Valve will start cracking down on shoddy developers using their site. Will games using stolen art still be able to use the green light system to get on steam? Will developers who censor negative criticism still be able to operate freely on the platform? Will Valve finally take ownership over their site? I don’t know, but last year i would have imagined Valves response to this Controversy to be “not our problem” and leave it at that, so this may be the first steps in the right direction.

For those interested you can read Erik Johnson full statement HERE.