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Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is making the most of summer

Technically the last day of summer is September 22, but the weather already feels like it's turning and we won't have another three-day weekend for quite a while. This holiday feels less about sleeping in and more about frantically trying to have as much outdoors fun as possible before the chill of autumn lingers beyond mornings.

While our frenzied efforts will eventually give way to falling leaves and the bite of frost, there's still a few weeks of enjoyable weather left! Our grill is fired up and this tarp we've laid on the lawn might work as a C-grade slip 'n slide, but we're wondering what you do to enjoy the summer weather. Are you a theme park junkie, or do you prefer weekend-long hikes that let you camp out under the stars? Not that we're trying to steal your ideas or admitting that you're generally more creative than us ... No, of course not.

Tell us how you make the most of summer in the comments, right after you read the comics after the break and vote for your favorite!

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Scenic wilderness and awkward tension fill this Firewatch trailer

Image "So, last night" is a rough topic, especially when shared by an underling and a supervisor, as is the case with Firewatch's Henry and Delilah. The mysterious adventure's first trailer hints there's a lot more to Campo Santo's debut than the incessant threat of a fiery demise. [Image: Campo... Continue Reading

Report: More Dragon Quest mobile ports on the way

Square Enix's mobile ports of Dragon Quest 4 and Dragon Quest 8 must not have strained the publisher's budget too terribly, as Game Informer reports the RPG nostalgia train will keep running on mobile devices. According to the report, a mobile port of the first DQ is due within the next few weeks, though it's to be based on a 2004 remake that was for Japanese mobile devices. The report also claims that versions of DQ2 and DQ3 will follow in the coming months.

It's fair to assume Square Enix will exhaust the numerical DQ lineup until they catch up to DQ8, but there could be an interesting exception: according to the report, DQ mobile producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto has said that DQ7 is "technically impossible" to port at this time due to its volumes of text.

The report also states that the DQ games that do arrive on phones and tablets will be tweaked to be more accommodating, with frequent saves, tweaked encounter rates and boosted experience payouts among the adjustments.

Unfortunately, we're still without word on whether the briefly-popular Dargon Quest spinoff series will ever see a successor.
[Image: Square Enix]

PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own

After the better part of a year of being both an excellent building simulator and the sparse skeleton of an actual MMO, Landmark is finally starting to fill out in all sorts of pleasing ways. At this year's PAX Prime, Dave Georgeson was gushing about the joy that's been unleashed with the recent PvP combat patch. Not only are players reveling in the slaughter of their fellow humans, but a new market for death match arenas has sprung up virtually overnight.

"Players are having stupid amounts of fun with the PvP, even if they aren't typically into PvP," Georgeson noted. He said that contrary to popular belief, PvP is tougher to put into an MMO because it deals with a very unpredictable foe (a thinking human). But it's also better for the team to implement that first and home in on what makes the combat click to make PvE combat sparkle when that's added later on. More PvP customization options are on deck for the future as well.

Also part of the crazy fun are the new platforming elements: teleporters, moving platforms, and "flingers." Georgeson predicted that once the playerbase gets a handle on what these elements can do and how they can be chained together, the game will grow several orders of magnitude wilder.

From here, Landmark's progress will only speed up. The team is going to focus on bug fixes and polishing the new systems while listening to what the players think about the new toys. One thing that the devs have to do is separate ideas that are possible (such as allowing players to order voxel structures to obey the laws of physics) from those that are not (such as allowing players to create enemy creature models). The team does have a release date for the game in mind, although it is not sharing.

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Nintendo of Europe layoffs involve 320 employees

Nintendo went on a bit of a news spree yesterday, but not all of it was good: in addition to 130 employees affected by the closure of Nintendo's European headquarters, the game and console manufacturer told Kotaku it will also cease working with 190 other people by August 31.

Nintendo explained that the additional layoffs are related to reorganizing its European Localization Development department. Going forward, Nintendo said there will be "an increase in outsourcing future translation and test activities to third-party companies on an as-needed basis."

While the group of 190 worked with Nintendo through a leasing agency and were considered temporary employees, some of them told Kotaku they had been working exclusively with Nintendo for years.
[Image: Nintendo]

Mew-Genics on hold, will return when it's 'more coherent'

Mew-Genics is officially on hold, Team Meat's Tommy Refenes confirmed to Joystiq at PAX Prime in Seattle. The game was first revealed in October 2012, though the Super Meat Boy developer did not fully explain how the genetically-altered cat lady simulator would operate for another four months.

The decision to drag the game's esoteric explanation out is one that Refenes seemed to regret, saying the developer "shouldn't have been talking about it as much in the beginning as we did, because the game expanded beyond what it originally was." As a result, the game grew beyond Team Meat's own original vision: "Even some of the posts that we made in the beginning, that stuff doesn't exist in the game anymore," he added. For example, the developer discussed a "trinkets" system in December 2012, which is now gone from Mew-Genics, as it's "expanded into the stores" in the game.

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Fantasia's full set list includes Gaga, Jimi Hendrix, Flaming Lips

You won't know exactly what Fantasia: Music Evolved's set list will sound like once you put your own twist on it, but at least now you know what you'll be working with: Harmonix shared the remainder of Fantasia's tracks at PAX Prime today, with the final portion including Jimi Hendrix's "Fire," Lady Gaga's "Applause," The Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1" and contributions from Imagine Dragons, J.S. Bach, New Order, Liszt, Inon Zur and Missy Elliot. Yup, the sampling is still all over the place.

You can remind yourself of Fantasia's previously-announced songs with a full bulletpoint set list after the break, but if you want more than the base offering, placing a pre-order will earn you three more songs: OneRepublic's "Counting Stars," Demi Lovato's take on Frozen's "Let It Go" and Avicii's "Lay Me Down."
[Image: Harmonix]

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Behind-the-scenes video basks in Geometry Wars 3's glow

We don't envy Lucid Games – the studio has a passionate fanbase to appease when it launches Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions this fall on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC. Fortunately, Lucid houses senior developers from now-defunct series creator Bizarre Creations, and it's clear that the team has some ideas on how to progress from 2008's GW2: Retro Evolved.

In a behind-the-scenes feature posted after the break, Lucid Co-Founder Nick Davies and Creative Director Craig Howard describe what they have in mind for Dimensions, including boss battles, 3D battlegrounds and head-to-head multiplayer. Check the video to get a glimpse of those elements in action and to get reacquainted with your neon-hued geometric rivals!
[Image: Sierra]

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H1Z1 on PS4 planned to follow a steady PC release

Sony Online Entertainment's zombie-survival online game H1Z1 must first find stable footing on PC before the game begins to take shape on PS4, Senior Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt tells Joystiq.

Months after being announced with a promise to launch on Steam Early Access, H1Z1 is still in closed testing. Whisenhunt says his team doesn't want to rush to market, instead setting a goal to release a game to Early Access that's as technically stable as it is fun.

"I would love to have it next week," Whisenhunt laughs. "The thing about [Early Access] is the community takes a look at a bunch of streams and says 'It looks really cool. It looks playable. Please release it.' But our concerns aren't the shiny things, it's making sure that our server isn't going to ... look, we know we are going to have a server issue within the first week of Early Access," he admits.

"We do want to make sure that we're ready to respond to that the right way."

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PAX Prime 2014: Going on a deer hunt in H1Z1

The time was just before dawn, with colors muted by the limited light. I silently roamed through fog banks, looking for a quarry in the woods and finding none. It was my first time playing H1Z1, and I had no other purpose than to find something living (or unliving) and end it with my hefty axe.

Suddenly I spotted it: the flash of a white tail as a deer sprinted away from me through the brush. I pressed down the sprint button and went after it, chewing through my stamina and cursing my lack of four legs or gasoline-powered wheels.

The deer led me on a grim chase through the mostly silent woodland. At one point, a wolf appeared out from behind a tree and sprinted after the doe as well, although it couldn't catch up and eventually became disheartened (or glitched out). Yes, I felt both gruesome and silly spending my moments at the demo booth trying to kill Bambi, but I needed to know if I would be able to survive in this environment.

One wrong move and I was upon the prey, bringing it down with a sickening thud. Continuing to hack away at the carcass with my axe found me rewarded with more crafting materials and a dented conscience. Stricken, I wandered away and roamed up a hill, only to encounter a strange solitary sign with a skull on it.

"That marks the border of the game," a nearby developer told me while another dev professed amazement that he had never seen such signs before. "If you go past here, you'll die," the first dev cautioned.

Maybe I deserve to die. If chopping through a tender critter is what it takes to survive in this new world, is that worth the cost? I put down the controls and walked away, innocent no longer.

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Saints Row 4 SDK released, chaos expected to ensue

Developer Volition announced at PAX Prime that they have released the official software development kit (SDK) for Saints Row 4 on PC, allowing enthusiasts of virtual sandbox mayhem with the technical know-how to create ... pretty much whatever they want. This can only end well.

Although Saints Row 4 was released in August of last year, Volition is keeping up support for the game with two projects, both due on January 27, 2015: Saints Row 4: Re-elected will port the base game and all the DLC released so far to Xbox One and PS4, while Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is a standalone expansion that sends players literally into the bowels of Hell.
[Image: Deep Silver]

Joystiq Weekly: Amazon buys Twitch, Madden 15 review, Early Access feature and more

Welcome to Joystiq Weekly, a "too long; didn't read" of each week's biggest stories, reviews and original content. Each category's top story is introduced with a reactionary gif, because moving pictures aren't just for The Daily Prophet.

PAX Prime 2014 is already underway, but as fun as joining a swarm of people buzzing around video game displays can be, you don't even have to leave the house to get this weekend's highlights. Well, unless your house is a black hole for Internet and phone reception ...

The point is, Joystiq is on the front lines of PAX Prime, ignoring sensible limitations to bring you a slew of news and previews. With this morning's proof that survival in numbers is a relative concept in Don't Starve Together and a reminder that thinking every MOBA is interchangeable is a mistake when it comes to Gigantic, the good stuff is already underway. There's always yesterday's reveal of Xbox One and PS4 versions of Saints Row 4 too, as well as a new, standalone expansion called Saints Row: Gat out of Hell.

Stick with us until PAX Prime's conclusion on Monday, September 1, and in return we'll tell you all about the show's highlights without subjecting you to the dreaded PAX Pox. For now though, we've got a full recap of this week's news, reviews and features. Amazon's surprise acquisition of Twitch, Nintendo's new 3DS models, reviews of Madden NFL 15 and The Walking Dead's season finale, an examination of what makes Early Access such a valuable space to developers ... it's all arranged neat and orderly-like for you after the break!

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Motiga's Gigantic makes a big first impression

In Motiga's Gigantic, a team of five players choose unique champions who must work together to effectively control a map and slaughter their enemies – another team of five players – with the ultimate goal of destroying the opposing team's Guardian, a valuable asset that lies in wait at the opposite end of the map.

On paper, it sounds like yet another MOBA, the rapidly-expanding genre pioneered by games like League of Legends and Dota 2. In practice however, while the game's DNA is undeniably colored by the m-word genre, you'd be doing the game a ... well, gigantic disservice to think of it as another imitator.

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Don't Starve Together is for people who 'just want to watch their friends burn'

Klei's cooperative Don't Starve expansion, Don't Starve Together, has the potential to bring you and your friends closer than ever before. That's when they'll least expect an axe in the face.

Don't Starve Together is unique in that it encourages both cooperative and competitive play. Plopped down in the middle of the unforgiving wilderness, up to four players team up to build a camp, hunt wildlife and eke out a meager existence, strengthened by their bonds of friendship.

The core Don't Starve experience can be much more forgiving, for instance, when you assign one friend to craft survival supplies while another goes and chops firewood. If you ran into any opposition alone and unprepared, you'd be in serious trouble, but with an armed buddy watching your back (and reviving you when you're overwhelmed), being stranded in the wilderness isn't so bad after all.

If one of your teammates decides to choose the pyromaniac character class, though, you could be in for a world of hurt.

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PAX Prime 2014: H1Z1's bears will end you

In most MMOs, bears are chunky cannon fodder: good for lowbie XP and a sad scrap of a pelt as loot. In H1Z1, bears are possibly more terrifying than zombies and gankers combined. At PAX Prime this weekend, Senior Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt explained that in this game, a bear attacked will run you down as fast as it does in nature and make a plaything of your skull. It's a good thing that they're relatively rare and give a warning roar before charging, otherwise the zombies would be coming to you for help.

Expanding the role of nature is essential to the immersion of H1Z1's survival aspect. Wolves, deer, and bear roam the countryside, getting into the occasional tiff with each other and the undead. They're useful if you can take them down quickly, since the harsh elements (such as rain and snow) will soon be programmed to degrade your well-being and those animal pelts could be made into clothes.

Whisenhunt walked us through the four essential stats to staying alive in this world. Stamina is for sprinting and attacks, and while it regenerates quickly, neglecting it will ensure your body will draw from your hydration and energy levels instead. Your health is also constantly ticking down and replenished by the food and water you drink, meaning that you'll always need to be looking for more to scarf up and quaff in your journeys. Stashing your food in your backpack is a good option, although the team is still tinkering with the style of inventory to make the limited storage another survival factor.

When H1Z1 goes into early access later this year, there will be one "vanilla" server on which no punches will be pulled (this is doubly true as all players will start with only their fists as weapons). Other types of servers, such as player-only or PvE rulesets, are possibilities once the team assesses how players are engaging the game in beta.

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 110: The Walking Dead, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright, NHL 15

Latest episode: Friday, August 29th, 2014

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