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Stiq Figures, November 10 - 16: Best communities edition

Welcome to Stiq Figures, where the sales data is after the break and the posts don't matter.

Modern gaming is seemingly more about online play with each month, and though that apparently means we'll see plenty of rocky launches, it doesn't seem like a design convention that's going to change anytime soon. Online communities don't exactly have a sterling reputation as warm, enjoyable scenes, but some of them stand as welcome exceptions.

For example, every match I played of Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast started with opponents awkwardly bowing in the middle of an arena before slicing each other up with lightsabers. Rivals were also consistently willing to explain a mechanic to me when I was still new and didn't really know what I was doing, and though I was always an easy kill, no one ever took me out when I was clearly fumbling with controls over in a corner.

What about you? Is there a game out there that kind of felt like a huge circle of friends after a while? If you don't have a reflection on a game's entire community, was there an atmosphere with a few other players that made your time with that game substantially better? Tell us about the best people you've encountered playing games online, right after you check this week's Japanese hardware sales after the break!

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Evolve Medic Caira loves the smell of napalm and heals in the mornin'

Image Doctors in the real world may have goliath-sized tuition bills to pay off, but Medics in Evolve have it pretty rough too, what with the giant monsters and all. If you've wondered whether the Medic life is the life for you, here's a walk in the boots of Evolve's Caira. [Image: 2K Games]... Continue Reading

Check out one of Resident Evil re-remake's polygonal rooms

Next year's Resident Evil re-remake probably won't be as drastic of an upgrade as its 2002 GameCube source material, but there's still some interesting changes at play. As producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi explains via translator and demonstrates in the above video from Capcom Unity, select scenes will feature polygonal environments in place of the game's standard practice of flat images and video files played as backgrounds.

As for why the entirety of the remake won't feature polygonal environments, Hirabayashi said that the team had considered it, but since the goal is to recreate the same tone as the first remake, there were concerns that it might come off looking different or "maybe a little soulless." Instead, the team considered whether each room would benefit anything from such a conversion on a case-by-case basis.

This Resident Evil remake will arrive at digital storefronts on last and current-generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles. The Xbox One and PS4 versions will run at 1080p, but all versions will offer 5.1 surround sound, 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios as well as classic and modern control schemes.
[Image: Capcom]

Walmart and Amazon list more Amiibo figures for December 14

We already knew that Amiibo figures for Captain Falcon, Diddy Kong, Little Mac, Luigi, Pit and Zelda would be worming their way into our hearts and onto our shelves sometime in December, but Amazon and Walmart seem to have narrowed that window down to a single day: December 14.

When browsing Walmart's website, a release date of 12/14/2014 can be seen next to each of the aforementioned figures, ditto for Amazon. And it's not just online listings - the official Walmart Twitter account has also seemingly confirmed the date. "Yes, the release date for Captain Falcon Amiibo is set for December 14," the "Walmart Elves" tweeted to a prospective Amiibo purchaser after he inquired if the date was official.

Of course, numbers on the internet and even Santa's helpers can be wrong from time to time, but it probably wouldn't hurt to stake out your spot in line if there's a particular figure you need to add to your collection.
[Image: Nintendo]

MMO Week in Review: WoW's rebound

At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

After a shockingly long content drought and disappointing expansion previews, World of Warcraft proved that no one cares about content droughts and disappointing expansion previews by resecuring over 10,000,000 subscriptions, just in time for its 10th anniversary celebration. To compensate for the trainwreck launch of Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard granted the entire playerbase five extra days of gametime.

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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Vib-Ribbon's return began with an attempt at stage cred

When president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America Shawn Layden praised Vib-Ribbon's outside-the-box concept during this year's E3, he hoped it would show his legitimacy as a nerd worthy of standing beside better-recognized faces of PlayStation like Adam Boyes or Shu Yoshida, according to a report from Wired. Excited fans flooded social media in response, but their joy turned to rage when Layden took a sharp turn from his fond remembrance to introduce the gameplay debut of Mortal Kombat X.

As he was drinking in the backlash the following morning, Layden remembered that Vib-Ribbon was never actually released in North America. Instead of finding common ground with fans of the cult classic, he had reminded part of his audience of what they had never had a chance to play.

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Team Ninja's Ni-Oh is not dead-oh, needs 'a little time'

We wouldn't blame you if you didn't remember the announcement and reveal of Tecmo Koei's Ni-Oh - it's been eight years since the game reared its samurai armor-clad head during a non-playable demo at the 2006 Tokyo Game Show. Since then, it went dark and was later revived as a Team Ninja project - albeit a very quiet one. However, the wait may finally be coming to a close.

"I have heard rumors that it's been stopped, but it's actually very much in development," Team Ninja Producer Yosuke Hayashi told GamesBeat in an interview. "We still need a little time before showing it off, but it is starting to come together and feel good. You should definitely keep an eye out for it in the future."

Ni-Oh will have some fairly infamous company, should it ever actually see the light of day: Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines also saw numerous periods of quiet and multiple developers jumping onboard before release, and well ... we don't really have to tell you how well they went over. But then, Xbox 360 game Prey was also in that boat, and it was ... alright.

Celebrate Naughty Dog's 30th birthday with a Precursor Orb

You might not have properly appreciated Precursor Orbs when you were gathering hundreds of them throughout the Jak & Daxter series (or their Strange Relic counterpart in the Uncharted series), but Naughty Dog's online store can help fix that. In celebration of the studio's 30th anniversary, 1,000 polystone replicas of the Precursor Orb are now available for pre-sale.

The $120 replicas are approximately 10" tall by 5" wide and feature an Orb atop a base modeled after stone. While the base's front features the Jak and Daxter logo and a 30th anniversary Naughty Dog emblem, it can be turned for a more simplistic appearance.

The full total for a replica will be charged once an order is placed, but refunds will be available with cancellations prior to the ship date, which is currently estimated as March 2015. Considering their digital exchange rate in the Jak & Daxter series, we wonder how many secrets can be unlocked with a real-world, physical Orb ...
[Image: Naughty Dog]

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SCEA boss: 'You can't effectively test' for games like Driveclub

Wondering why Driveclub, a game that has required several post-launch fixes, didn't receive more testing to make sure everything was running smoothly before it was pushed out the door? According to Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) President and CEO Shawn Layden, it's because games like Driveclub, which focus heavily on online communities, can't be effectively tested.

"In the development cycle, we try to do all things. In the development cycle, we try to test against every possibility. We have a [Quality Assurance] team, we have a QA plan. You do a beta test, you scope against that," Layden recently told IGN. "But now, in a connected world, you can't effectively test in your house or in your beta group what it means to have 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 users hit your service. And the guys [at the studio] are struggling with that. It's throwing up things they had not anticipated."

Layden noted that progress reports from developer Evolution Studios show continued improvement, and called the problems experienced so far a "hiccup." For their part, Evolution has been quick to apologize for Driveclub's issues, going so far as to offer free DLC and extending Season Passes.
[Image: Sony]

Pre-order Geometry Wars 3, get two extra levels

You don't have to worry about quantities of Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions depleting during this week's launch, but pre-ordering the $14.99 twin-stick shooter wouldn't hurt if you're looking for a couple extra levels.

As explained on Sierra's website, pre-orders placed on Xbox One consoles will earn the torus-shaped Blood Count and the cupe-shaped Titan Box, the latter of which is exclusive to Xbox. In place of pre-orders on the Xbox 360, the extra stages will be given to anyone that purchases the game before 11:59 PST on December 2.

For PlayStation fans, the exclusive Symbolic stage will spawn enemies in shapes matching the four shapes used for the DualShock's buttons, as well as the triangular Secret Eye that's seen in the above image. However, pre-orders on PlayStation Network will only be available in the Americas.

PC, Mac and Linux users that pre-order through Steam will receive Secret Eye and Blood Count, and there appears to be no region-based restrictions on that offer. You shouldn't run out of targets if you decide to wait things out however, as GW3: Dimensions will still launch with more than 50 levels for single player.
[Image: Activision]

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Minecraft: Pocket Edition gets a facelift with update 0.10

Minecraft: Pocket Edition was patched to version 0.10 this week, an update that brought with it not only the usual bug fixes and general improvements (baby animals can now swim instead of sinking like rocks to a watery grave, for example), but visual enhancements as well.

A graphical update may sound strange for a game where the entire aesthetic design is based around low-resolution blocks, but the differences should be noticeable. As described by the official Minecraft: Pocket Edition Twitter account, there is now "more watery-looking water," "foggier-looking fog," "even more particles," and "tinted lighting on terrain and mobs."

Of course, it's fine to be happy that you won't be murdering some poor baby animal just by setting it in water anymore. That's okay, too.
[Image: Microsoft]

Combat-free MMO Wander coming to PS4

Wander is an unconventional, combat-less MMO that's currently in beta on PC and Linux and planned to reach PS4 in March 2015, as announced on the PlayStation Blog. Rather than the common hunt for loot and quests, Wander focuses on unguided exploration across a cluster of overgrown islands. Players can set out on their own to discover oddities, or work with those they cross paths with to piece together the area's history.

Adventurers begin as walking trees with no memory, but can find and take alternate forms like a winged griffon or the swimming-savvy azertash. While parsing through Wander's rainforest for hidden secrets might feel overwhelming, Siren-like songs will usher players toward secrets that they're close to.

While it seems expansive and mysterious, Writer and Character Designer Crystal Flinn explained that it's possible to get to the "end" of Wander's story. While a price for the PS4 version hasn't been offered, access to the PC and Linux beta is available for $25.
[Image: Wander]

The Alienware Alpha has come for your money, Earthlings

Alienware and parent company Dell have made good on the promise to release a console-sized, TV-oriented PC by year's end with the Alienware Alpha - a not-quite Steam Machine that runs Windows 8.1 and comes with an Xbox 360 controller (as opposed to running SteamOS and utilizing a Steam Controller the way a "true" Steam Machine does).

For $550, you can order the base model, which comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics card, Intel i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive. For $700, you can double the RAM and storage capacity to 8 GB and 1 TB, respectively. For $800, the Alpha will come with an i5 processor instead of an i3 (as well as the additional RAM and storage space). Lastly, for $900, you can get an Alienware Alpha with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M, i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage.

If you prefer to do your shopping in person, the Alpha is available at select Walmart and Fry's Electronics locations. Online, you can order via Walmart, Fry's Electronics, Dell, Best Buy, GameStop, Amazon, NewEgg, Sam's Club and Tiger Direct. Hey, maybe you'll even get one in time for the supposed Steam Fall Sale start date of November 26 and put it to use right away.
[Image: Dell]

Overdog matchmaking app to pair up online players with similar interests

If you play against an opponent in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, it's safe to assume you found someone who has similar taste in games. But what about the rest of life? Are they still trying to unravel every last plot point of Lost like you? Are they big on the Seattle Seahawks, and can they get down with your guilty pleasure, Kesha? An upcoming Xbox One app from Overdog is designed to help answer those questions and pair players up according to matched tastes in entertainment.

GamesBeat reports that a recent funding round has brought in $1.8 million for Overdog, which includes investments from Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus and Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise. Overdog told GamesBeat that the funds will go to marketing, additional hiring and the development of their app for a second, unspecified platform.

Overdog's website states that its app is due within December 2014 on Xbox One, and Overdog president Hunter Hillenmeyer added that the team hopes to "improve matchmaking for online games across all platforms, whether that's Xbox, PlayStation, mobile and tablet, or even some virtual reality ecosystem that has yet to materialize."
[Image: Microsoft]

Just Cause 3 won't launch with multiplayer, but Square Enix says it 'does make a lot of sense'

The recently-announced Just Cause 3 will not feature multiplayer capability when it launches in 2015, but developer Avalanche Studios and publisher Square Enix are being coy about the mode being patched in down the road. In an interview with Game Informer, Avalanche CCO and co-founder Christofer Sundberg said that although the team was focusing on the single-player content for now, they would consider it "maybe sometime down the line."

Taken on its own, that statement doesn't seem too encouraging. However, Shinra Technologies - a subsidiary of Square Enix that aims to pioneer cloud-based gaming technology - has several key personnel sharing Avalanche Studios' office space. Jacob Navok, senior vice president of business for Shinra, told Game Informer he and his staff were working on a "possible future collaboration" with Avalanche.

"What we see in the near future are cloud games that are developed from the ground up as well as games that are in an existing pipeline that we will enhance," Navok said before presenting an oddly-specific hypothetical situation. "For example, taking a game that doesn't have multiplayer right now and easily giving it multiplayer is what we imagine for enhancements."

When Game Informer asked Navok if Just Cause 3 could or would be that game, Navok responded, "I think it does make a lot of sense."
[Image: Square Enix]


The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 122: Far Cry 4, GTA V, Assassin's Creed Rogue, WWE 15

Latest episode: Friday, November 21st, 2014

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