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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]

Weekly Webcomic Wrapup fears Black Friday

There's a famous quote I often find myself referencing when the holiday shopping season starts, as it is about to do this week. Here, I'll share it with you now. Ahem:

"You are not prepared!" - Illidan Stormrage, World of Warcraft.

Yes, Black Friday (or "Black Thriday" as I've heard it called, since many stores are now opening their doors on Thanksgiving) is nearly here, and not all the raids and dungeons in the world can prepare you for the madness. In fact, while things are relatively calm and pleasant in my neck of the woods, there will no doubt be many shoppers who are injured or come into serious conflict this week. Since we check in with our webcomics every weekend, this is my chance to make sure I remind you to be cautious and take care of yourself in the midst of the shopping crazes.

For the veteran shoppers, why not leave your tips and tales in the comments below, after you've voted for your favorite webcomic after the break? This week's selection includes:

Penny Arcade (Helm's Deep)
Hejibits (Financial Fondness)
ReadySoup (It Had To Be Turtles)
ActionTrip (Bizarre Creed)
Nerd Rage (One Forward, One Back)
Awkward Zombie (Aggressor Layton)

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Report: Steam Fall Sale begins November 26

The Steam Fall Sale will commence on November 26, the day before Thanksgiving, and run until December 1, according to VG247. The site reports that an email sent by PayPal, encouraging account holders to stock up on Steam Wallet codes, has beaten Valve to the punch and revealed dates for the annual spree of wallet genocide savings before an official announcement.

Of course, by listing the dates before Valve has confirmed them, PayPal runs the risk of being incorrect. We doubt that's the case, seeing as PayPal works closely with Valve to act as one of Steam's methods of payment, but we'll keep an eye out and let you know when things become official.
[Image: Valve]

Meta Knight Amiibo exclusive to Best Buy, Lucario to Toys R Us

Where's the fun in collecting something if you can just place a one-and-done order for the entire set with an online retailer? Amiibo fans are in for some legwork (or a few extra clicks), as two more retailer-exclusive deals have been announced concerning February's batch of Amiibos: Meta Knight will reside exclusively at Best Buy, whereas Lucario can only be found between the tall shelves of Toys R Us.

This pair of exclusives follows news of Xenoblade Chronicles' Shulk continuing his series' GameStop-exclusive legacy when he arrives in the same set of Amiibos as Lucario and Meta Knight. At least existing partnerships are with mostly-easy-to-locate retailer chains – things will get a little more interesting with the announcement of an Ice Climbers Amiibo, which we assume will only be sold at a rickety shack atop Mount Everest.
[Image: Nintendo]

Amazon tells Tales From Deep Space on Fire tablets

Tales From Deep Space, from Amazon Game Studios and co-partner Frontier Developments, has achieved lift-off and can now enter the orbit of 2013 Kindle Fire and later tablets, according to a press release from Amazon.

The game shoots a spacefaring salesman named E into the depths of space with a helpful robot named CASI. Together, the pair must escape the space station known as "Big Moon." If you and a friend both have a Kindle Fire HDX and/or a Fire 2014 model tablet, one player can control E while the other controls CASI.

Tales From Deep Space is one of Amazon's earliest forays into gaming; Amazon Game Studios was founded just two years ago. Since then, they've acquired Killer Instinct developer Double Helix, as well as Portal co-creator Kim Swift and Far Cry 2 lead designer Clint Hocking.
[Image: Amazon]

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Far Cry 4 Arcade Poker, Arena Master apps now in the wild


Far Cry 4 has a pair of companion apps awaiting iOS and Android users, provided they're up for a round of poker or controlling deadly arenas on the go. A press release from developer Ubisoft notes that both the Far Cry 4 Arcade Poker and Far Cry 4 Arena Master apps launched this week to complement Far Cry 4's high-elevation adventure.

In Arcade Poker, players make hands out of a set number of cards that gradually fall to the bottom of the screen. Each card can be repeatedly flipped into a new suit and value, but if they reach the bottom before the desired card is found, they'll slide into a playing hand as-is. Hands must meet demands tied to objectives, such as making a two-pair or a flush in one hand. Victories are rewarded with in-app currency, with progress eventually leading to cash-outs for money to use in FC4.

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Sony denies hacker group's infiltration into PSN

There has been no intrusion into the PlayStation Network, Sony has told Joystiq in the wake of a hacker group reportedly leaking 2,131 PSN logins.

"We have investigated the claims that our network was breached and have found no evidence that there was any intrusion into our network," a Sony rep wrote to Joystiq. "Unfortunately, Internet fraud including phishing and password matching are realities that consumers and online networks face on a regular basis. We take these reports very seriously and will continue to monitor our network closely."

According to Cnet, the group leaked these logins in a public Pastebin document. However, both the group's Twitter account linking to the document and the document itself have since been taken down. Cnet reports that the group also revealed 1,473 Windows Live logins, and 2,000 2K Games logins. We've reached out to Microsoft and 2K to confirm network intrusion and will update if we hear back.
[Image: Sony]

Trials Fusion online multiplayer planned for 2015, PC beta live

Trials Fusion's support for head-to-head online multiplayer is running a little behind its end-of-the-year schedule, according to a press release from Ubisoft. The launch window has shifted to early 2015, though PC players can rev up in a beta that's available now.

Fusion's online components include Online X-Supercross, a randomly-selected three-course score battle for up to eight players, Private Game, which lets up to eight compete in individual, modifier-friendly matches, and Private Game with Spectator, a mode similar to Private Game that lets its hosts watch the matches they create instead of partaking.

Fusion had online functionality closer to its launch in the form of tournaments, but they were ran off of leaderboards rather than direct competition. Teams were also implemented in this week's update, which allows up to 50 players to band together under a name and emblem to conquer leaderboards dedicated to tracking teams. The eventual-arrival of parallel multiplayer will address one of the criticisms within Editor-in-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann's review, but even with that absence and a nagging need to unlock content, Ludwig remarked that Fusion "nails its balance between purity and cruelty."
[Image: Ubisoft]

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Three years later, Calendar Man reveals Arkham City easter egg



Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham City has an easter egg that even "The World's Greatest Detective" (AKA: Batman) might have struggled to find, players have discovered. A recent YouTube video from the channel "Batman Arkham Videos" (embedded above) has revealed a secret message in Arkham City that not only went undiscovered for three years, but required developer intervention to discover.

Turns out, if you set your Xbox 360, PS3 or PC's clock to December 13, 2004 - the day Sefton Hill and Jamie Walker founded Rocksteady - you'll trigger a unique monologue from Calendar Man. After talking about how he's been there "from the beginning," the date-obsessed villain warns that "the end of days is coming."

If you think this story sounds familiar, that's because it also took a nudge from Rocksteady to reveal an easter egg hidden in Batman: Arkham Asylum. In that case, the secret was a room stuffed full of references and teases to Arkham City. The uploader of this new video likewise theorizes that Calendar Man's cryptic message is a reference to the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight.

You know, if a development team can slip these hidden bits of information past the Dark Knight and his followers so routinely, we have to wonder if Rocksteady might secretly be run by supervillains.
[Image: Warner Bros. Interactive]

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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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