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Fable Anniversary lead designer exits Lionhead

Fable Anniversary lead designer Ted Timmins has announced his departure from Lionhead Studios. In a multi-tweet explanation of his exit, Timmins said the Microsoft-owned company has been "such an integral part" of his life. Citing that his time at Lionhead made up more than one third of his life, "it's a good time for change."

Timmins' first project with Lionhead was the original Xbox action-role playing game Fable in 2004. Microsoft purchased the studio in 2006. Timmins thanked former Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux for establishing the company that would "give a spotty 18-year-old with no talent or qualifications a chance."

"There's also something quite special that Fable 1 was the first game I was a part of, and Fable Anniversary is my last," Timmins wrote.
[Image: Lionhead]

You can now buy Nuclear Throne straight from Twitch

Developer Vlambeer is offering the option to purchase its latest game, Nuclear Throne, through Twitch, a first for the video game broadcast company.

Purchasing Nuclear Throne through Twitch gives players access to the game via Steam Early Access, specialty Vlambeer emoticons, and a subscription to the official Vlambeer Twitch.tv channel, which offers exclusive streams and subscriber-only chat throughout the week.

"If you're interested in learning about game development, this is where you should buy the game. 60 percent of revenue goes to us," Vlambeer's website says.

Gamasutra points out that the revenue split through Steam is 70 percent to developers, while 90 percent of revenue goes to game makers when titles are purchased via GOG.com.

Vlambeer continues to evolve its latest release. During PAX East the developer added a two-player co-op mode, which co-founder Rami Ismail said was "so crazy and insane that we're not so sure it's a good idea to have four." The crazier, the better!

UK chain GAME to close dedicated Xbox store

GAME and Microsoft deemed the UK retailer's Xbox store a success, after confirming to MCV the London outlet closes its doors later this month. As MCV notes, the store opened in June 2013 on a short-term lease and with a focus of boosting Xbox One sales at launch.

"The short-term contract location for the dedicated Xbox store has given us real insight into what consumers expect from the next generation of retail," said GAME Stores Director Dave Howard told MCV. "We have implemented Xbox sections in all of our stores - we have taken all the best of the Xbox store into over 320 GAME stores around the UK. Customers really showed an appetite for hands-on experience, interactive displays and a way to digitally access Xbox Live content. We will continue to innovate our stores with Microsoft."

Pop-up stores for launches are nothing new in London: Ubisoft trotted one out for a game a few years ago, Q Entertainment's Child of Eden. While that game was arguably good enough to warrant its own store, it really could've done with 100 more.
[Image: GAME]

Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn surpasses 2 million registrations

This week's PS4 launch of Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn helped the MMO pass the 2 million mark for registered accounts. Square Enix didn't reveal any hard figures for how many players are exploring Eorzea on PS4, but we know six months ago the number of registered accounts was at 1.5 million. Meanwhile, a trailer from February proclaimed the second-iteration MMO had "over 1.8 million adventurers."

It's worth noting registrations do not equate to active subscribers, although the base game does require a purchase. According to a translated 4Gamer interview with Director Naoki Yoshida, in March around 500,000 people were logging into A Realm Reborn each day.

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Games so bad they're good: Far Cry 2

I was invited to be on the "Games So Bad They're Good" panel at PAX East, but a scheduling conflict prevented me from taking part. Fortunately, my Editor in Chief, Ludwig Kietzmann, was ready and willing to take my place. His selection, Far Cry 2, took more than a few people by surprise - the reaction on Twitter went something like "Are you crazy? Far Cry 2 is awesommmmeeeeee!" His reasoning was ... unusual, to say the least, so we're reprinting his argument. These are the notes he used for his presentation, exactly as he used them, thus the atypical format.

For the record, my choice was going to be Phantasy Star Online. I think Luddy won this one.
--Susan

I tried to be considerate about this, and cognizant of why bad qualities can lead to pleasure.

The thing about bad movies like Plan 9 is that you're looking at an event so awkward and terrible for the people involved that you want to instinctually stop them and protect them, but you can't because it's already committed to film.

It's too late to stop the tragedy, so now you are allowed to enjoy it.

In a game, if your actions don't align with your expectations or what the game is about, it's frustrating.

Most games are good despite their bad qualities, like story and controls, and not because of them.

At first I thought: Okay, what about games that give the player all the power and then back away?

Is that bad game design? Is God of War so bad, because they let you rip out a monster's medulla oblongata and then bash their head in with it and then you're like, "This violence is a bit mindless isn't it?"

Or, what about games that overcomplicate and abstract simple, physical actions, like QWOP, Surgeon Simulator and Octodad?

Then I had an epiphany, I yelled, "Eureka! "and someone said, "Shh, this is a library, keep your revelations to yourself."

I'm going with Far Cry 2, and here's why.

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Twitch funds chat-driven game Choice Chamber


Twitch matched funds pledged to Studio Bean's chat-driven Kickstarter project, Choice Chamber. The developer's crowdfunding campaign ends Sunday evening and raised nearly half of its $30,000 goal, and Twitch's contributions put it near the finish line. According to the project's reward tiers, the game is expected to launch in December.

Following up the success of Twitch Plays Pokemon, Choice Chamber is a PC and Mac game that is designed to be played while streaming live on Twitch. Described as a "real-time, crowdsourced, procedurally generated game," it allows stream viewers to use Twitch's chat functionality to either aid or hinder the progress of the game's primary player by voting on game-changing polls.

The player, who can choose to go the single-player-only route with offline mode, navigates an "endless series of dangerous chambers" while wielding a variety of weaponry with which to defeat enemies. In the prototype version of Choice Chamber, viewers vote on said weapons in addition to powerups, abilities and special maneuvers, though Studio Bean plans to add many more modifiable elements.
[Image: Studio Bean]

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Glorkian Warrior vs Dino Run 2: Crowdfunding before and after Double Fine

Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork is a different game than the one Pixeljam promised in its Kickstarter campaign. It's not unrecognizable – the Saturday-morning-cartoon artwork is still done by graphic novelist James Kochalka and it still stars a three-eyed alien blasting baddies from the sky, but the adventure aspect Pixeljam wanted in Glorkian Warrior didn't make it to the final game.

"We really wanted the Glorkian Warrior to have an epic journey, blasting aliens like Galaga, rolling around like Sonic, exploring like Metroid, making the player feel they were inside one of James' comics," Pixeljam co-founder Miles Tilmann tells Joystiq. "How we thought we could get this going with just $10K, I honestly have no idea. Somehow at the time we thought it was possible. It's interesting how the sheer excitement of starting a new project and raising money for it can make you blind to what's actually realistic."

Pixeljam's Kickstarter campaign concluded on March 22, 2010, after raising $11,200, and Glorkian Warrior launched on March 13, 2014. That timeframe is relevant for two reasons: Pixeljam took to crowdfunding before Double Fine Adventure broke down the barriers for gaming Kickstarters in 2012, and four years is a long time to keep backers waiting for a game.

"A couple of backers have told us that it was worth the wait, which is the best compliment we could possibly receive for the game," Tilmann says. "It reinforces the idea that the backers were simply excited to help us make something with James Kochalka, and were less picky about what the game would actually do. I think that's only the case with niche or small-budget projects, though. If something that raised $100K+ on Kickstarter took four years to deliver and didn't do everything that the original plan entailed, there would be much more of a backlash."

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Trials Fusion review: Lean to live


We've all had our secret victories in the war against wobble: freely standing in the shower on one foot while washing the other, or rejecting the easy-mode handrails of a jostling train. Trials Fusion is about those quick, instinctual corrections you make – or fail to make – when there's a bump in the road.

Balance is divine in Trials Fusion, and mastering it makes you a god on a motorcycle. But that's jumping ahead to the conclusion of the journey; this story of a tenacious man driving with abandon over hills and valleys, trying not to fall his little face off.

There's a lot to think about as you constantly fiddle with your speed and your driver's posture in a world of steep angles and dangerous pits, and yet it feels thoughtless in the moment. You just know it in your gut: You need to lean forward to keep the bike on this incline. Almost there, almost - oh that's too much acceleration, you're lifting up front. You can get out of this, you can bring it back, just wiggle a bit and – nope. You've gone and done the banana peel again. Now your bike is upside down and crushing your bones.

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Sony to sell all its Square Enix shares

Sony announced it's selling its entire stake of 9.52 million shares in Square Enix, with the PlayStation company booking a gain of 4.8 billion yen (around $47 million) in the current fiscal quarter. At the time of writing, Sony is the third-largest shareholder in Square Enix with an sizable equity of 8.2 percent.

Sony says it's agreed to sell the shares to SMBC Nikko Securities Inc, one of Japan's leading financial security companies; the sale price will be disclosed tomorrow. We'll learn more of the reasons behind the sale when Sony announces its full-year financial results on May 14.

While the PS4 is doing better than expected, Sony's financial troubles of late have seen the company enact numerous changes to its operations. Following the sale of its Tokyo offices and several thousands of layoffs, earlier this year Sony announced plans to sell off its Vaio PC business and overhaul its TV arm into its own subsidiary. Those moves will result in a further 5,000 layoffs over the next year or so.
[Image: Sony]

Conception 2 coming to Europe in May

European role-playing game fans will be able to enjoy Spike Chunsoft's Conception 2 in May, publisher Atlus has revealed. Though Atlus has yet to solidify dates, an email blast revealed both a demo for the game and the official release will come to the region next month.

"If you pick up the game, but haven't played through the demo, you may want to give it a shot! Your save data transfers over, and you'll get a set of free goodies," the promotional email noted. For the first month of release players can download the Disciple Weapon Pack DLC for free, which offers five weapons for players to distribute within their game's party. Additional quests will be released as free DLC in May, Atlus says, with more content rolling out each week.

Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars launched in North America yesterday for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. The Joystiq review said of the game, "none of its elements manage to rise above a general feeling of mediocrity."
[Image: Atlus]

Minecraft PS3 boxes clever with a disc version in May

Mojang is releasing Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition onto store shelves on May 16 in North America and May 14 in PAL regions, which is no surprise given how the Xbox 360 discs continue to strike gold. Mojang revealed the physical PS3 port includes everything in the sandbox game as of title update 14, but there's no word yet on a price. Check out the PS3 Edition box art by digging below the break.

The PS3 port sold one million copies within its first month of availability, adding to the 12 million sales on Xbox 360, 14 million on PC, and 21 million of the Pocket Edition. But why stop at gajibillions when you can try to take over the world?

To that effect, UK porters 4J Studios have PS4, Xbox One, and Vita versions in the works, although there remains no word on when to expect them.
[Image: Sony Computer Entertainment]

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CoD: Ghosts DLC adds Snoop Dogg voice pack and other, less awesome, stuff



Infinity Ward is launching DLC for Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox platforms that will add narration to multiplayer matches by the one and only Snoop Dogg. As you terrorize the battlefield, Snoop becomes your own personal hype man, which sounds like just about the most amazing thing in the world. Want something a little gruffer? A voice pack featuring Full Metal Jacket drill instructor R. Lee Ermey is also in the works. Each DLC pack is priced at $2.99.

IW is launching a number of new customization DLC packs for weaponry featured in Ghosts, as well. Continuing to show its friendliness towards all things 420, Ghosts players can purchase the puntastic Blunt Force Personalization Pack, which delivers "chronic lethality" camo, a reticle, patch, player card and background. The Blunt Force pack and other customization packages are available for $1.99.

Finally, the latest set of DLC features player skins, one of which features past CoD heroes Soap and Ghost. According to the Call of Duty blog, customization DLC packages "are non-transferable and cannot be carried forward or backward" between last generation's console and the new Xbox One.

All DLC will launch on April 22 for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
[Image: Activision-Blizzard]

GaymerX president on LGBT convention closing: 'We're still here'

LGBT-focused gaming convention GaymerX will be no more after this year's GaymerX2, being held July 11-13 at the InterContinental San Francisco hotel. But Toni Rocca, president of GaymerX and organizer of the con, isn't sad.

Rocca told Joystiq she and the GaymerX organization did something new, something no one was doing two years ago, when the con was first announced. She's proud of what the GaymerX convention accomplished, and what's more, GaymerX as an organization will continue forward.

This isn't the end of GaymerX, but a new beginning.

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PSN Store Update: Final Fantasy 14, Trials Fusion, FIFA World Cup

It's football, fantasy, and FMX in this week's line-up of PlayStation Store additions for North America, starting with the full launch of Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. PS4 players can hook up with the subscription MMO for $40, or $60 if they fancy some in-game items from the Collector's Edition. You can also transfer a PS3 copy across to PS4 - Amazon has the PS3 version going for $25.

Next it's FMX: RedLynx's next attempt to break your controllers is Trials Fusion, and it's the first in the series to arrive on PlayStation. The PS4 game - also available on Xbox One, 360, and PC - adds freestyle tricks to the trademark mix of motocross and puzzle-platforming. The regular game is $20 but if you're wheelie keen for the upcoming DLC, a Deluxe Edition is $40 and comes with the season pass.

Speaking of puzzles, the PS4 also gets a few brainteasers this week. Pure Chess and Backgammon Blitz are $8 each - you can get a game-pack stuffed Deluxe Edition of Pure Chess for $15 - and finally, That Trivia Game will set you back That Ten Dollars.

Onto to PS3, and football - the rounder, kickier kind. The catchily titled 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is only on PS3 and Xbox 360, and you can score it as a $60 download on the former. Meanwhile, Beyond: Two Souls has been out for a while, but it's also now on PSN as a $60 download. Don't forget, this week's PS Plus freebie is the new Castle of Illusion, and that comes bundled with the Genesis original as a nostalgic bonus.

Finally, the Vita has plenty of new releases including Conception 2 ($40, also out on 3DS) and Cross-Buy portable versions of Dead Nation ($8) and Ethan: Meteor Hunter ($10). For the full list of new releases, sales, and Plus discounts, head over to the PlayStation Blog.
[Image: Ubisoft]

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 explores The Room 2, The Cave, and more


Humble Bundle is back with another serving of high-profile Android games, featuring Double Fine's The Cave, Fireproof Games' The Room 2 and other standout apps in the newly launched Humble Mobile Bundle 5.

Pay at least $1 and you'll get Crescent Moon Games' action-RPG Aralon: Sword and Shadow, Hidden Variable's grocery-bagging puzzler Bag It!, and an Android port of Irem's classic arcade shooter R-Type 2. The Room 2, The Cave, and Carcassonne are available for buyers who beat the bundle's average purchase price (currently under $4), and more games will be added at a later date.

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 will be available through April 29.

[Video: Humble Bundle]

Halo, Destiny composer O'Donnell says he was fired 'without cause'

Halo series and Destiny composer Martin 'Marty' O'Donnell is no longer working for Bungie, and he claims the studio's directors fired him "without cause" last Friday, April 11.

O'Donnell tweeted the news this morning, and shortly after Bungie responded on its blog. Community Manager David Dague said the studio and O'Donnell parted ways "as friends."

"For more than a decade, Marty O'Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans," wrote Dague. "Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future. We wish him luck in all his future endeavors."

We've reached out to Bungie for further details.

O'Donnell's departure is certainly a surprise given his stock with Halo and Bungie fans, especially with Destiny rapidly approaching its release date of September 9. The veteran composer had collaborated with former Beatle Paul McCartney on a "musical prequel" to Destiny, titled Music of the Spheres. It has yet to be released.

Wasteland 2 beta update fleshes out Arizona

While "less than half" of Wasteland 2 is currently available in beta via Steam Early Access, an update coming next week will add another major area. After the update, Wasteland 2's beta will feature "most of the Arizona portion of the game."

According to "beta testing metrics and feedback," InXile estimates Wasteland 2 will take about 50 hours to complete for a regular playthough.

Developer InXile Entertainment is also teasing the location for the second portion of the game, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles (also known to residents simply as Los Angeles). The Los Angeles areas in Wasteland 2, teased above, will feature "the ruins of familiar landmarks overgrown with wild plant life, crawling with weird creatures, and dangerous mad cults." So, it's just like the real Los Angeles.

Wasteland 2 is the official sequel to the 1988 classic isometric role-playing game from developer Interplay. Its Kickstarter campaign, which sought a total of $900,000 to bring the series back from the dead, eventually accrued over $2.9 million.
[Images: InXile Entertainment]

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut sneaks onto Mac

A Mac version of the Deus Ex: Human Revolution "Director's Cut" is available now from developer Feral Interactive. The version is available exclusively through Steam. DX:HR - Director's Cut overhauls the original RPG's boss battles, tweaks enemy AI and "upgrades" the game's textures, fog, shadows and lighting. Black and gold environments never looked so pristine!

The Director's Cut also includes The Missing Link and Tong's Rescue Mission DLC, as well as the Tactical Enhancement pack. All content has "all been seamlessly integrated into the narrative flow of the main game."

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut is $19.99 on Steam, though as a Steam Play title the version is available to all whom already own the PC version of the game.

The Mac version requires a 2.0Ghz Intel Mac with at least 4.0GB RAM, 512MB or better graphics card and Mac OS 10.8.5 or later. Deus Ex: Human Revolution supports the ATI 4850 series or better, Intel HD4000 series or better, and NVIDIA GT130, NVIDIA 9600 or NVIDIA 600 series or better.
[Image: Square Enix]



Xbox 360 spring sale discounts Batman games, Saints Row 4

Microsoft is cleaning out its digital shelves with a sizable sale on Xbox 360 games and add-ons this week. Ending April 21, the sale spans 11 games and hundreds of pieces of DLC. Five of the games feature popular DC comics superhero Batman in some capacity, such as 75 percent off both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City through Games on Demand ($4.99 / £3.74 / 4.99 euros each). Additionally, Injustice: Gods Among us is half-off ($19.99 / £17.49 / 24.99 euros), Lego Batman 2 is 67 percent off ($6.59 / £4.94 / 6.59 euros) and XBLA game Gotham City Imposters is 75 percent off ($3.74 / £2.49 / 3.59 euros). All of the above deals are valid for those with a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription.

Among the other games on sale for all Xbox Live users is Saints Row 4, which is half-off this week ($14.99 / £12.49 / 14.99 euros). Three other games are discounted through Games on Demand: Borderlands 2 is 65 percent off ($6.99 / £6.99 / 10.49 euros), Lego Marvel Super Heroes is 33 percent off ($33.49 / £30.14 / 43.54 euros) and Prototype 2 is 75 percent off ($9.99 / £4.99 / 7.49 euros). Lastly, XBLA games Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ is half-off ($4.99 / £3.37 / 4.74 euros) and Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD is 33 percent off ($13.39 / £10.71 / 13.39 euros) for the week.
[Image: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment]

MechRunner coming to PS4, Vita, PC, Mac in July

MechRunner, an endless runner/action game featuring mechs and a wonderfully suitable name, is coming to the PS4, Vita, PC and Mac in July, developer Spark Plug Games has announced. To help add additional polish to the game, Spark Plug is turning to Kickstarter with a campaign targeting $25,000. A $10 pledge will net Kickstarter users a copy of the game for either PC/Mac via Steam or a cross-play version for the PS4 and Vita.

"The game is feature complete, fully playable, and in its final stages before we launch in July 2014," the Kickstarter campaign page says, indicating that regardless of the crowdfunding effort's outcome, MechRunner will be released.

MechRunner is a video game adaptation of Jane Austen's seminal work, Pride and Prejudice. Wait, no... the story follows a giant mech that can also turn into a tank with an affinity for destroying just about anything that stands in its way, which sounds more like the story in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

MechRunner is the North Carolina-based developer's second attempt at Kickstarter success. In 2012, the developer canceled a project called Steampunk Bullet Train, which sought the same funding total before the end of its campaign.
[Image: Spark Plug Games]

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