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Joystiq Deals: TowerMadness and freebies galore

Joystiq Deals has a great collection of freebies for you today. First up is the Build Your Own iPhone Game Bundle, a free eight-week course that will walk you through the creative process and get your first mobile game up and running. If you're in the market for a web development toolkit, we've also got the 5 Hour Developer Freebie Bundle, which will teach you the ins and outs of HTML, CSS, and other languages in the space of a few short hours.

Looking to broaden your tech skillset? Skillfeed offers over 21,000 tutorial videos covering web development, 3D graphics, Photoshop, and many other topics, and you can get 45-day access today via Joystiq Deals free of charge. Mac users will also want to check out The Mac Freebie Bundle, a utility compilation that includes iTunes Data Recovery, Sharepod, a three-month subscription to Backblaze's Online Cloud Backup service, and more.

Finally, Android tower defense game TowerMadness is free via Joystiq Deals for today only.
Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Big Huge Games lives again with original founder, mobile strategy

Big Huge Games, known for PC strategy games such as Rise of Nations and the RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, was a casualty of 38 Studios' financial troubles in 2012 and its bankruptcy in 2013. 38 Studios closed Big Huge Games in 2012 and sold off its properties for $320,000 in December 2013. Turns out, the original Big Huge Games founder, Brian Reynolds, is the one who picked up those IPs. He's been operating under the studio name SecretNewCo (which really should have been a hint to the rest of us) since 2013, and now Big Huge Games is back with its first game, a mobile, empire-building strategy title called DomiNations. It will be published by Nexon.

Prior to re-launching Big Huge Games, Reynolds was Chief Designer at Zynga, and before that he co-founded Civilization studio Firaxis Games. In between, he helped found Big Huge Games the first time around. Reynolds is now CEO of the shiny, new Big Huge Games.

"We're honored to continue the legacy of Big Huge Games, which we founded on the concept of making fun, beautiful and innovative gameplay experiences on mobile devices," Reynolds says in a press release. "Nexon is lending us its proven free-to-play expertise in pursuit of that goal, and we can't wait to show players what we've created together."

DomiNations allows players to craft empires from the stone age to the space age, with single-player and co-op modes. It's free and due out on iOS and Android devices in 2015.

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Plague Inc. picks up more players during Ebola outbreak

In Plague Inc, players simulate fast-moving, contagious diseases in a bid to infect the entire world. Players are able to name their own diseases and experiment with simulated human behavior, such as eliminating hand-washing in certain countries or adding sophisticated hospital systems in others. The ongoing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has drawn extra attention to Plague Inc, driving sales up in recent weeks, creator James Vaughan told the Daily Mail.

"This hasn't been the biggest increase we've had in our downloads in 2014, but I think this is the first time a real-world situation has been the reason why people are getting the game," Vaughan said. On Twitter, he added, "Public concern about #Ebola has increased Plague Inc. downloads recently."

Last week, 430,000 people downloaded the Plague Inc app, a rise of 147,000 over the same stat two weeks prior. During that same time, 4 million people played the game, 923,000 more than player numbers two weeks prior. Plague Inc launched in 2012 and has a player base of 35 million across iOS and Android. Plague Inc: Evolved hit Steam in February and there's a version in development for Xbox One.

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SimCity BuildIt soft launches, starts building on Android, iOS

Mayoral duties can follow you everywhere in SimCity BuildIt, EA's new urban spread that has soft launched in Canada on Android and in New Zealand on iOS. BuildIt is a free download with in-app purchases, and while EA's reveal post in September mentions the presence of an offline mode, "many of the coolest features do require an online connection."

EA's reveal notes that longtime fans should find threads of the PC games in BuildIt, adding that they've been "streamlined to make the experience more fun and manageable on touchscreens." Players can tend to zones, roads and traffic, services, city specializations and data layers of their metropolis, and the familiar goal of landmarks returns. Of course, should you need to start over, disasters are still a therapeutic tool to help clear the grid.

BuildIt's store listing adds that you'll be able to "trade resources with friends and other cities," so maybe consult with a neighbor before letting your frustration fuel the death of hundreds of Sims. Unless your authoritative, do-good role is just a guise for your eagerness to be the kid burning ants with a magnifying glass, that is.
[Image: EA]

Okay, NOW NHL 2K is available on iOS, Android

Following a botched approach earlier this month, 2K Sports has circled round to slip NHL 2K into the App Store and Google Play. The $7.99 app includes My Career, three-on-three Mini Rink, turn-based Shootout, NHL Winter Classic and Free Skate modes, as well as live roster updates.

NHL 2K is the first mobile outing from 2K Sports' hockey series since NHL 2K11, which reached the Wii and iOS. Those using the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 or either model of the iPhone 6 might want to proceed with caution however; user reviews on both the App Store and Google Play have noted technical issues on both device types, ranging from scrambled character models to entirely unresponsive buttons.
[Image: 2K Sports]

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Hitman Go adds Hitman 2-inspired levels, on sale this week

Square Enix updated Hitman Go yesterday, adding new levels to the diorama-style puzzle game on iOS and Android. The game's eight new levels are based on Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Eidos' 2002 game for PC, Xbox and PS2. Additionally, the publisher dropped the price of the game to $1.99 (€1.79/£1.49) for one week, so those that have been on the fence about buying the assassination-themed puzzler may want to act fast.

The Hitman 2 levels are locked to players at the outset, but can be accessed in one of two ways just like the game's "Airport Box" update in July. Players will naturally unlock the Hitman 2 set by progressing through the game or can choose to pony up an extra dollar (€0.99/£0.69) to access the eight puzzles. The update brings the total number of levels in Hitman Go up to 91. Developer Square Enix Montreal's next mobile Hitman spinoff, Hitman: Sniper, soft-launched in Canada on iOS earlier this month and will arrive in the rest of the world this winter.
[Image: Square Enix]

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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]

Hearthstone shuffles to iPhone, Android phones in early 2015

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will reach iPhone and Android phones in early 2015, Blizzard revealed in a blog today. The developer said it is close to issuing versions of the collectible card game to smartphone players, but that "it's become clear that we need a little more time to get that version right." As a result, the small-screen smartphone version of Hearthstone won't be available until "early next year." As of September, Blizzard expected those versions to arrive by the end of the year, which is when it still plans on launching on Android tablets.

"One of the biggest challenges with that is revamping the user interface so it feels intuitive and offers the same quality Hearthstone experience, but this time from the palm of your hand," the developer added. The CCG based on the World of Warcraft universe has already became mighty popular without getting a glimpse of the Google Play store: The free PC and iPad game reached 20 million downloads in September, and Blizzard also revealed that over two billion hours of the game have been played to date. Hearthstone began receiving its multi-part "Curse of Naxxramas" single-player expansion in July.
[Image: Blizzard Entertainment]

Joystiq Deals: Android phone giveaway

This edition of Joystiq Deals wants to hook you up with a gratis Android phone, yours to choose from a selection of five high-end Android devices.

Entering the drawing is simple: Pay a visit to the Joystiq Deals website, enter your email address and click the giant "Enter Now" button. If you'd like to make the odds just a bit more in your favor, you can spread the word about the contest on your favorite social networking outlet. Each time an online acquaintance signs up for the drawing using your referral link, you'll automatically earn another entry.

You have two months to submit those entries before the drawing will be held, at which point one lucky winner will walk away with a choice of one of five Android phones. Available models include the Galaxy Note 4, the Moto X, the HTC One M8, the Galaxy Note Edge and the LG G3. For full details, see the Joystiq Deals website.
Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Sigils of Elohim is The Talos Principle's free, puzzling prelude

Sigils of Elohim is an early, free taste of one puzzle type you'll find in The Talos Principle, but it's also prime practice for those looking to brush up on organizational skills. Each timed stage asks players to arrange Tetris-esque shapes inside a grid that allows exactly enough room for its set. iOS and Android users can find Sigils of Elohim in their respective stores, while PC, Mac and Linux users can grab it on Steam.

A related press release notes that as players conquer stages, they'll unlock "helpful items and relics" to be used in The Talos Principle. Sigils of Elohim's first set of puzzles is available as soon as the game is installed on your device of choice, but two additional sets will arrive before The Talos Principle launches on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and PS4 later this year.

To get a glimpse of The Talos Principle in action (as well as Titan Souls and Not a Hero), check out Senior Reporter Jess Conditt's tour of Devolver Digital's booth from Gamescom 2014.
[Image: Croteam]

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Joystiq Deals: Choose Your Own Android Giveaway

Joystiq Deals has a giveaway today that you'll definitely want to check out if you're in the market for a new Android phone. One lucky winner will walk away with a Galaxy Note 4, Moto X (New Version), HTC One M8, LG G3, or a Galaxy Note Edge as part of our Choose Your Own Android Giveaway. All you have to do is submit your e-mail address to confirm your contest entry, so enter today for your chance to win!

If you're on the hunt for Steam deals, many developers are taking part in a shared free weekend event, giving you the chance to test drive and purchase featured games at a steep discount. Awesomenauts, Blade Symphony, Company of Heroes 2, Don't Starve, Grid 2, Injustice, Killing Floor, Payday 2, Trine 2 and XCOM: Enemy Unknown are all free to play through October 19 at 1:00 p.m. PST, giving you more than a full weekend's worth of gameplay and a prime opportunity to expand your Steam library.
Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Republique's third episode reaches iOS, Android next week

Fans of episodic touch-based stealth adventure Republique who've been waiting for more since the second episode debuted in May will be pleased to hear that episode three is slated to launch on October 23.

Though previously exclusive to iOS devices, October 23 also marks the Android release of Republique's first three episodes. Developer Camouflaj has revealed to us that it plans to discount the first episode of Republique on both iOS and Android for the week following October 23, though the studio did not specify how large the discount might be.
[Image: Camouflaj]

Google Play update adds local multiplayer to Android games

Android device owners can now crush virtual foes within spitting distance - please don't spit on your foes - thanks to the addition of local multiplayer to certain mobile games.

"Google Play Games has added the ability for players to find each other nearby in multiplayer games with the latest Play services update," reads an update on the Android Developers Google Plus page. "Through games that support Play Games multiplayer, players can now invite others nearby into the same game when starting a multiplayer session, creating more local competitive and cooperative experiences."

The only caveat here is that this local multiplayer support will only work in games built using the awkwardly-named Google Play Games services. It remains to be seen whether developers will embrace this new feature (and the Google oversight that comes with it).
[Image: Google]

Trine series tops 7 million sales, shares its level editor

The Trine series has surpassed 7 million sales worldwide, Frozenbyte announced today. That includes sales of Trine and Trine 2 across PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, Mac, Linux and Android. To celebrate seven figures, Frozenbyte has launched the level editor for Trine Enchanted Edition and Trine 2: Complete Story on Steam.

"The editor for the Trine games gives users a first-hand look at the development process," Frozenbyte says in a press release. "Players can now do the same things to Trine or Trine 2 as the developers; they can edit existing maps to their liking, create entirely new ones from scratch, or even create a completely different game."

Both Trine and Trine 2 are free to play this weekend as part of Valve's biggest free weekend ever. Trine wasn't listed in the original free weekend announcement, so that's a nice surprise. Games in the deal are free through Sunday, October 19, at 1PM PT, and they're on sale through Monday, October 20 at 10AM PT.

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Google reveals $99 Nexus Player game console, controller


Google announced the upcoming release of the Nexus Player, a $99 set-top box and video game console compatible with thousands of Android apps.

The hardware boasts a 1.8GHz Silvermont quad-core Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage space, and supports 1080p video streaming via services like Netflix and Hulu. Google will also launch a twin-stick controller peripheral priced separately at $39, putting it in direct competition with Amazon's Fire TV console.

The Nexus Player launches on November 3, and pre-orders open on October 17.

[Image: Google]

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