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Become a student of football in Madden 15

The "overhaul" to Madden 15's defensive controls announced in June is intended to make players more successful on that side of the ball, yet that won't help those new to the sport itself. For that, the development team at EA Tiburon is turning to the game's Skills Trainer mode to help players become better students of the game.

"‚ÄčIn Skills Trainer for Madden NFL 15, we are attempting to do something we have not done in the past, which is teach players basic football concepts in addition to stick skills," Madden 15 Assistant Producer Danny Doeberling told Joystiq. "When we playtest Madden year in and year out, we found out that a good chunk of players are not familiar with some of the terminology and some of the intricacies of the game, and football in general."

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Sniper Elite 3 review: War and pieces

Sniper Elite 3 marvels in its own destruction, continuing the franchise's adoration of slow motion bullets and the highlighting of a target's gooey innards. It glorifies not war, but something worse: Nearly every shot fired. This is the game's great fault: that it only has a single trick, an almost literal dissection of human beings as the player pumps round after round into their body, trying desperately to gussy up the retreaded ground as "excitement." After reusing and enhancing the same trick for multiple games, DLC and expansions, Rebellion's schtick has worn itself thinner than the skin each bullet pierces.

Despite its realistic World War 2 shooter veneer, Sniper Elite 3 continues the franchise's longstanding tradition of being absurd. This time you stalk massive African battlefields for a perfect sniping perch, set up your spot to do away with evil soldiers, and then are treated to flashes calling out every organ you decimate with your bullet. It's difficult to get wrapped into the game's serious narrative when the words "Testicle Shot!" flash across the screen.

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Barely Related: Harry Potter in his 30s, Seth Rogen's war

Oh, yes, Friday. Oh. Yes.

Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we're not stopping our focus on industry and gaming news. Think of this as your casual weekly recap of interesting (and mostly geeky) news, presented just in time to fill your brain with things to discuss at all of those weekend shindigs.

Grab a fresh drink, lean back in your armchair, and get ready to talk nerdy with us.

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Catlateral Damage of Kickstarter campaign estimated at $60K

The campaign for "first-person destructive cat simulator" Catlateral Damage has concluded,
exceeding its $40,000 goal with over $60,000. Developed by Chris Chung and published by Fire Hose Games as part of its accelerator/incubation program, the game is scheduled to nap until later this year and then suddenly spring into action on Steam.

We requested a comment from publisher Fire Hose Games on the Kickstarter conclusion in the form of a haiku. Their response was: "Kickstarter success / means cat game for all to play / thanks to our backers."

If you'd like to check out the game for yourself, there's a demo available on the Catlateral Damage site. The game won the People's Choice and Indie Prototype awards at the 2014 MassDigi Game Challenge

MouseCraft review: Pretty Gouda

If you were to ask me if MouseCraft is any good, I'd probably respond, "it's okay." It's nothing special, I'd say. "A decent puzzle game," I would call it, "but nothing spectacular." Having completed all 80 levels of MouseCraft, I think I stand by that recommendation, but it needs an addendum.

You see, when I went to sleep, I kept playing MouseCraft in my head, and that has to count for something.

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Gollum debuts in Shadow of Mordor behind the scenes clip

Image While Red Dead Redemption writer Christian Cantamessa and BioShock Infinite voice actor Troy Baker discuss how Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is both an original tale and faithful to J.R.R. Tolkien's immense canon, a familiar, gangly, wide-eyed figure peers into the camera like a paranoid... Continue Reading

Eiji Aonuma's Ocarina of Time anecdote hits the heartstrings

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is almost universally recognized as a classic, but technical quality is not what makes the game special. According to designer Eiji Aonuma, the game's greatest strength is its ability to inspire people.

In a recent Nintendo Japan update, Aonuma relays the story of a young girl who was hospitalized with an unnamed illness. To help pass the time, her mother purchased a copy of Ocarina of Time. "At first, she felt 'this is impossible for me,' but over time, she began getting the hang of it," Aonuma wrote, courtesy Siliconera translation. "Then one day, she told her mother, 'if Link is trying this hard, then I will, too!' as she put more effort into her rehabilitation." Aonuma claims this inspiration drove the young girl to fight off her illness and she soon returned to full health.

"To think that one could put in more effort after watching Link to do the same, and that such a positive way of thinking arose from the game, is something that makes me very happy" Aonuma added. "It's not that we purposely intend that while making games, but the key lies within what the players get to experience in the world."
[Image: Nintendo]

Crawl devs devise a better way to announce a delay

Just like Mother always said: "If you have to deliver bad news, use a gif."

Crawl, the monster-infested multiplayer dungeon crawler from Powerhoof, won't launch on its promised July 17 date. Powerhoof is an independent studio in Melbourne, Australia, and the team has run into tax issues that prevent the game from coming out on time. Right now, founders David Lloyd and Barney Cumming are waiting to clear the final pieces of red tape as they transform Powerhoof from a partnership into a company, meaning a delay of days or weeks.

"Everything was on track until pretty much the last step, where we got hit with an unexpected bit of red tape that we were told 'may take up to 30 days' to resolve," Cumming writes. "We tried to find a way around it, but there's nothing we can do."

Crawl is ready to roll, Cumming says, so with the extra time, he and Lloyd will look at adding some of their wishlist ideas. Crawl was Greenlit in March, and we thought it was the clear standout from that batch of 50 games. It's a pixelated multiplayer montser mash, where one player is the hero and the rest are evil beasties out to kill him – the monster who kills the hero becomes the hero, and the goal of the game is to escape the dungeons. It's like Evolve had a baby with Binding of Isaac (and didn't name it Isaac). Crawl is due out on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.
[Image: Powerhoof]

Sins of a Solar Empire dev discusses 'Rebellion' lawsuit

Following two years of legal battles, Ironclad Studios has been granted the right to use the word "Rebellion" in the title of its latest space exploration epic, a decision it hopes will set a precedent for the increasingly litigious gaming industry.

"Rebellion Developments [developer of Alien vs Predator] and its founders (Chris and Jason Kingsley) have aggressively opposed or petitioned to cancel trademarks containing the word 'Rebellion' and have been very successful in preventing third party use of the word 'Rebellion' in conjunction with video-games in the U.S. and Europe," Ironclad stated in a recent blog entry. In court, Rebellion attempted to argue that the title Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion was an attempt by Ironclad to trade on Rebellion's success as a developer, but Judge Victoria Roberts saw things differently. "...Defendants' use of REBELLION is expressive speech and is protected under the First Amendment," Roberts stated in her judgement. "Plaintiffs cannot satisfy the Rogers test; they cannot establish that REBELLION has no artistic relevance to Defendants' computer game, or that it is explicitly misleading as to source or content. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED."

Though this is good news, Ironclad isn't out of the woods just yet. The studio recently learned that Rebellion has filed to oppose Ironclad's trademark in Canada, and there have been "unconfirmed reports that [Rebellion] issued a cease and desist order to our partner in the United Kingdom."
[Image: Stardock]

Joystiq Deals: Hacker Monthly, The Witcher 2 for Mac

Joystiq Deals offers a three-year subscription to Hacker Monthly for the price of one as part of today's discount lineup, delivering an $87 value for just $29. Buyers will receive the next 36 issues of the acclaimed tech publication in a variety of digital formats, along with access to all back issues at no additional cost.

Also up for grabs is the Mac version of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition, available today through Joystiq Deals for $9.99. The package includes all previously released software updates, and is available for download via the Mac Game Store client.

Over on the Xbox Marketplace, Microsoft continues its week-long Ultimate Games Sale with discounts for Titanfall, Fable Trilogy, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, and many more titles from its back catalog. Discounts offering up to 75 percent off of featured games are available through July 14.

Pillars of Eternity enters beta next month for backers

Obsidian Entertainment has announced that a beta version of Pillars of Eternity will launch exclusively for Kickstarter backers next month, marking the first playable release for the team's long-in-development crowdfunded RPG.

Noting that Pillars of Eternity has entered the "finalization stage," producer Brandon Adler revealed that Early Access beta keys will be available on August 18 for supporters who pledged $110 or more. Launched in late 2012, the Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter project racked up nearly $4 million in backer pledges, resulting in a delay as the game's scope ballooned to meet its expanded budget.

Obsidian additionally announced that it has canceled its plans for a DVD and Blu-ray Pillars of Eternity making-of documentary release, as physical discs would need to enter production prior to the project's completion. Rather than release the documentary without a conclusion, Obsidian is opting instead to launch a "digital downloadable extended version" of the film at a later date. A replacement reward for backers who pitched in for DVD and Blu-ray copies of the documentary will be announced soon.

[Image: Obsidian Entertainment]

The Last of Us: Remastered now available for pre-order on European PSN

The Last of Us: Remastered is still a few weeks out, but now European PSN users can plunk down the cash for a digital pre-order of the prettied up post-apocalyptic adventure (just like their North American cousins).

Not only does The Last of Us: Remastered include a full, 1080p remake of one of the few games that we've awarded a five-star review score, it also includes a host of digital bonus items, aptly dubbed the "Survival Pack." This pre-order incentive grants players extra starting cash, new costumes for protagonists Joel and Ellie, upgraded healing, crafting and reloading speed and bonus experience points in multiplayer, among other additions.

Neversoft nevermore, team now fully merged with Infinity Ward

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series creator Neversoft is no more, as remaining team members have now merged with fellow Activision studio Infinity Ward to work on current and upcoming projects.

Neversoft's Matt Canale posted the above image via Twitter, bringing the studio's 20-year run to a fiery end. After being acquired by Activision in 1999, Neversoft went on to create standout games like 2000's Spider-Man, Xbox 360 launch title Gun, and several entries in the Guitar Hero franchise following the departure of series creator Harmonix.

Neversoft worked closely with Infinity Ward in developing its final project, the "Extinction" gameplay mode in 2013's Call of Duty: Ghosts. Infinity Ward is one of three studios devoted to the Call of Duty series, and is slated to produce a new entry in 2016 following this year's release of Sledgehammer Games' Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and a 2015 follow-up project from Treyarch.

[Image: Matt Canale]

World's largest fighting game tournament, Evo 2014, begins today

Today marks the debut of the Evo 2014 fighting game tournament in Las Vegas, but those who didn't book airfare to the City of Sin won't be entirely left out thanks to a bevy of broadcast streams covering all the virtual fisticuffs.

Eight top fighting games are officially represented at Evo 2014: Ultra Street Fighter 4, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3, Killer Instinct, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, The King of Fighters 13 and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Capcom's official "Capcom Fighters" stream on Twitch has you covered for all the Ultra Street Fighter 4 matches, while Shoryuken offers two streams to cover the remaining games: SRKEvo1 and the similarly-titled SRKEvo2.

The official Twitch streaming schedule offers a full rundown of what games will be shown. Today is a dominated by Ultra Street Fighter 4, Tekken and Injustice, but tomorrow features the more esoteric King of Fighters, Killer Instinct and BlazBlue tournaments.
[Image: Capcom]

Destiny beta grants three download codes for each player

Platform selection for the Destiny beta is live today. The beta itself is still a few days out, but eager Guardians are already getting some good news: Beta participants will be given three download codes for the platform of their choice. Whether you're planning to play on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 or PS4, you'll be able to fight wizards from the moon with two buddies, whether they've pre-ordered the game or not. Talk about viral marketing...

If you haven't done so already, you can redeem your 9-digit pre-order code at, after which you can select your platform. The beta kicks off on PS4 and PS3 starting July 17, followed by Xbox 360 and Xbox One on July 23.

Oh, and if you haven't pre-ordered Destiny, keep an eye on Joystiq. We'll be giving away hundreds of beta codes in the very near future (no, really).
[Image: Bungie]

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