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Microsoft unveils Kinect PC adapter, issues SDK 2.0 for free

Today must be Christmas for would-be Kinect hackers as Microsoft has made it even easier to dig into the guts of its 3D camera peripheral with both new software and hardware.

Most notably, Kinect fans can download the gadget's new software developer's kit at no charge. Not only does SDK 2.0 include "over 200 improvements" since June's public preview, Microsoft also claims it's a "substantially more stable and feature-rich product." That should come in handy for developers hoping to sell their Kinect-enabled wares through the Windows Store, as alongside the new SDK 2.0, Microsoft now allows Kinect developers to commercially deploy their programs through the digital distribution platform. "This was a frequent request from the community and we are delighted to enable you to bring more personal computing experiences that feature gesture control, body tracking, and object recognition to Windows customers around the world," reads Microsoft's announcement.

Additionally, Microsoft has released a $50 Kinect adaptor that uses USB 3.0 to connect to a Windows 8 or 8.1 PC. While it won't replace the Windows-native Kinect for Windows camera peripheral, the adapter should make it easier to link an Xbox One Kinect with your home computer.
[Image: Microsoft]

Joystiq Streams: Relapse with Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Don't worry, the hard days are all in the past. The habit's been kicked. No more obsessing over leader boards. No more retries at dawn, trying to best your friend's achievements. No more shakes when you put down the controller. Geometry Wars 2 was 2008! We've all moved past it. Wait. There's a Geometry Wars 3? It warps and distorts the old twin-stick shooting? Fine. Just one play. It's easy to stop after just one round. Let's do this.

Lucid Games joins Joystiq Streams today to give us an early taste of Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. Starting at 5:15PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch, Ludwig Kietzmann (@LudwigK) will pick up his controller and relapse hard.

Joystiq.com/Twitch broadcasts live every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00PM EST, but if you want to catch streams of weird games and upcoming releases like this one, follow us on Twitch to know whenever we go live.

[Images: Sierra]

Joystiq Discussion: Will you get a new console this fall?

One year later and the current crop of gaming machines are looking a whole heck of a lot different than they did in the fall of 2013. Mealy launch exclusives like Knack, Ryse and Nintendoland are distant memories. Now the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U are cooking with gas. Sony's got heaters like Infamous: Second Son, Xbox One's got freaks like D4 alongside bruisers like Forza Horizon 2, and Wii U has heavyweights like Mario Kart 8 and weirdoes like Bayonetta 2 backing it up.

The question now is: Is that enough? If you haven't taken the plunge yet, have any of the new machines sufficiently convinced you? Are you considering adding a second new console to your living room domain? Or have you walked away from the console world for good? Take the poll then take to the comments to discuss.


[Images: Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft]

Halloween Horror Streams: A very Slender: The Arrival giveaway



The mere suggestion of danger, peril, and the impossible can be the scariest thing in the world to some folks. Take good old Slender Man, the Internet's very own nightmare tulpa. He's not even a killer! He's just omnipresent, convincing others to do evil. Spooky freak with his stupid Matrix suit. We'll show him a thing or two.

Joystiq's Halloween horror game streaming extravaganza rolls on at 4:00PM EST today on Joystiq.com/Twitch with Slender: The Arrival. Anthony John Agnello (@ajohnagnello) has never played any Slender game before and is walking in blind. Susan Arendt (@SusanArendt) will be on hang giving away copies of the game for PS3 and 360 in the chat and to laugh at Anthony's cowardice.

We broadcast live every Tuesday and Thursday on Joystiq.com/Twitch at 4:00PM EST, but we're streaming horror games every day until Halloween so follow us on Twitch to know when we go live.
[Images: Blue Isle Studios]

Dead or Alive 5 Last Round picks a fight in February 2015

The updated, supposedly final iteration of Dead or Alive 5, known as Dead or Alive 5 Last Round, will reach the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360 on February 17, publisher Koei Tecmo has revealed.

Alongside the wealth of fighters and stages included in Dead or Alive 5, Dead or Alive 5 Plus and Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, Last Round introduces two new fighters and new stages, including "The Crimson," a remixed Dead or Alive 2 stage where players battle their way across tin rooftops before plummeting onto a busy Asian street to continue the fight. Like all of Dead or Alive 5's best stages, The Crimson features "several all-new over-the-top Cliffhanger events" for those times when you just have to toss your opponent off a building.

Dead or Alive 5 Last Round will feature a $30 price tag on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and a $40 price tag on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, PlayStation 4 owners can download the free Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters for a test drive featuring four fighters and limited gameplay options, with the option to purchase additional pieces of the game later. Xbox One owners can purchase access to Core Fighters for $5, or they can play a free demo that lacks Core Fighters' DLC options.

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Layoffs hit WildStar's Carbine Studios

wildstar
Word is bubbling up from several sources that layoffs are impacting Carbine Studios and WildStar today. NCsoft confirmed the rumors in an official statement: "While decisions like this are always hard, they are necessary as we begin the implementation of a new strategy designed to strengthen our footing as a leader in global entertainment. Again, the decision to reduce staff was not an easy one, and we sincerely wish everyone well in their next endeavors."

Community Manager Tony Rey said that the remaining team would soldier on: "Today NC West announced staff reductions across its Western operations. While this impacted several colleagues, the teams here at Carbine are committed to supporting WildStar to ensure you get the experiences you want well into the future. We wish all of our friends well and hopefully our paths will cross again in the future."

Polygon reports that an unnamed source claims that 60 employees were let go. One employee affected was Chief Client Engineer Bitwise, who said farewell on Twitter: "My amazing time at Carbine has come to an end. I can't adequately express my appreciation to the company and players. Thank you!"

The WildStar developer recently saw several high-profile members of its team depart. Massively sends its regards to those impacted by the decision.

Civ: Beyond Earth lands on Mac, Linux this holiday season

Mac and Linux users won't have to wait long to micromanage the cosmos as Civilization: Beyond Earth will reach the two non-PC platforms in time for the holiday season.

"Players anxious to take a turn at the Mac and Linux versions may pre-order Beyond Earth right now through Aspyr's online store at GameAgent.com," reads 2K Games' official announcement. "All pre-orders through GameAgent.com will include the Exoplanets Map Pack as a free bonus. Additionally, any customers who are established GameAgent members will find a note on the Beyond Earth product page that will grant them a special 15% pre-order discount. This offer expires once the Mac and Linux versions of Beyond Earth have launched."

According to 2K, the Mac and Linux games will feature all the same content as the PC version which is slated to launch on October 24, and all versions of Civilization: Beyond Earth will feature cross-platform multiplayer functionality. Of course, that's still months away, so while you wait to build your fledgling intergalactic empire, you can bide your time by reading our four of five stars review.

Awesome Games Done Quick charity drive returns January 4

The good people behind the Games Done Quick charity fundraiser have announced that their next Awesome Games Done Quick event will take place between January 4 and January 10, with proceeds again going to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

For those unaware, Awesome Games Done Quick is a days-long exhibition in which some of the world's most talented speedrunners utterly destroy their games of choice for the amusement of the streaming public. Watching the event is free for anyone with Twitch access, but Games Done Quick does tidy business raising money through donations. A January 2014 Awesome Games Done Quick stream managed to pull in over $1 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

As the event's still months away, the final details and full schedule of exactly what will be streamed at the upcoming Awesome Games Done Quick event has yet to be finalized. However, if you're not allergic to spreadsheets, you can find a current outline of the event on Google Docs.

The Unfinished Swan painting PS4, Vita next week

Giant Sparrow's surreal exploration game The Unfinished Swan will arrive next week on PS4 and Vita, just over two years after it first launched on PS3. The game will launch on Tuesday, October 28 in North America and the following day in Europe for $14.99 (€12.99/£9.99). The Unfinished Swan will also be Cross-Buy enabled, so those that own any version of the game will be able to download it on the other two systems.

Our review of the PS3 game noted that The Unfinished Swan's power "lies in its engagement with our imagination, in its ability to remind us of that capacity for whimsy and fantasy." It's the first game from the Santa Monica-based developer, which is currently working on an as-yet-unannounced game that is not a sequel to The Unfinished Swan, but is "not a million miles away either."
[Image: Giant Sparrow]

New Nintendo eShop releases: Bayonetta 2, Fantasy Life, Aria of Sorrow

It's a busy week on the Nintendo eShop, with PlatinumGames' inimitably stylish action game Bayonetta 2 premiering on the Wii U while Level-5's RPG Fantasy Life leads the charge on the Nintendo 3DS.

Players who purchase Bayonetta 2 on the eShop will additionally receive a copy of the original Bayonetta for free starting this week. Other Wii U games premiering today include Ubisoft's Just Dance 2015, Activision's karaoke sim The Voice, and a Virtual Console port of Konami's 2003 Nintendo DS platformer Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.

Over on the 3DS side of the eShop, Nintendo's instructional app Pokemon Art Academy and WayForward's exploratory platformer Shantae and the Pirate's Curse headline a selection of 10 new games. 3DS owners may also want to check out Detune's portable synthesizer KORG DSN-12, Bandai Namco's Power Rangers: Super Megaforce, and Activision's The Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins.

Nintendo additionally teased next week's Virtual Console lineup, revealing that Capcom's ghoulish side-scrollers Demon's Crest and Gargoyle's Quest 2 will launch alongside Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land on October 30. Hit the jump below for a full list of this week's featured releases.

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Trine developer launches iOS platformer Splot


Frozenbyte, developer of co-op platformer Trine, has created one of the most mobile-looking mobile games in Splot. The platformer is available today on the App Store for $3.99 (€3.59 / £2.49) and features a blob that must capture "birdlings" within a time limit. It's the fast-fingers type of game that's better suited for pretending you're watching reality television than on the morning commute.

The game includes 56 levels and over 150 Splots to collect, as well as seven types of worlds to bounce around in. The developer has certainly shown it has chops when it comes to making platformers, as the Trine series has over 7 million sales.

ArenaNet teases Guild Wars 2's road to war

GW2
After a break, a feature pack, and the yearly antics of the Thorn family, the second season of Guild Wars 2's living world will soon be back in business. The business is, of course, preparing to fight Elder Dragons; the

We got to talk with ArenaNet's Lead Writer Bobby Stein and Associate Game Director Steven Waller about how the living world story has marked out what the team calls the "road to war" against Mordremoth and its minions. But as Game Director Colin Johanson said in his latest blog post, "The road to war is paved with points of no return." That doesn't exactly sound good for Tyria, but it may be exciting for GW2 fans who are looking forward to something big.

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Free Xbox Music streaming to stop in December

The free music streaming feature for Xbox Music will be discontinued on December 1, Microsoft revealed on an Xbox Support page for the service. The company said it is "focusing Xbox Music to deliver the ultimate music purchase and subscription service experience for our customers" with Xbox Music Pass, its $10/month music streaming plan.

Announced at E3 2012, Xbox Music arrived in October of that year as a Zune replacement and Spotify competitor. It took nearly a year before the service reached iOS and Android, just two months before Microsoft began closing down the Zune Marketplace. Those interested in trying out the paid music streaming service can sign up for a 30-day trial on Microsoft's site.
[Image: Microsoft]

Xbox One's screenshot feature won't arrive until next year

The Xbox One's screenshot-making feature won't be added to the system's feature set until next year. Xbox head Phil Spencer explained to IGN that as the company comes "back into the new year, we'll see new stuff, and screenshots is on the list." The news follows Spencer's promise a few weeks ago that the company would deliver on oft-requested features such as screenshot creation and background themes for the Xbox One's dashboard. Those custom backgrounds will be part of the system's November update.

"In December, it's probably a time for us to pause for a little bit and settle just as all the new consoles are coming online," Spencer said, indicating a small break in the action for the console's development team. He also noted that screenshot creation for Xbox One is "a little more technically challenging than I thought," but that the team found a "good solution" two weeks ago. "They're working on it. They know people want it. The team has a path to getting it done, and now it's just prioritizing," he added.
[Image: Microsoft]

World of Warcraft to relocate Oceanic servers to Aussie data center

WoW
Blizzard has just announced a new Australian server infrastructure for World of Warcraft, deploying ahead of the release of Warlords of Draenor in November. The existing Oceanic servers (Barthilas, Frostmourne, Thaurissan, Saurfang, Caelestrasz, Jubei'Thos, Khaz'goroth, Aman'Thul, Nagrand, Dath'Remar, Dreadmaul, and Gundrak) will physically move to a new Australian data center, ensuring reduced latency for players down under. Aussie and Kiwi players currently housed on North American shards will be granted free but optional character transfers and guild master realm transfers in the two weeks leading up to Draenor; Blizzard assures Oceanic players that LFG and PvP pools and queue times won't suffer unduly as a result.

In other WoW news, PC Gamer has a new interview with lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas, in which he discusses the "obstacles" facing aging games, the dilemma of graphics upgrades, and the non-Blizzard MMOs he enjoys. When asked about subscription models across the industry, Hazzikostas reiterated that subs still make sense for WoW: "We deliver high value for the monthly subscription because it allows us to provide a steady stream of content, and we don't have any plans to move away from that any time soon."

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 117: The Evil Within, Far Cry 4, Bayonetta 2

Latest episode: Friday, October 17th, 2014

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