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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.

The Longest Journey gets tested down under, global launch 'soon'

Despite recent reports, iOS adventure The Longest Journey is not currently available on the iOS App Store. Instead, publisher Funcom has decided to keep the game exclusive to Australia and New Zealand for an initial testing period.

"We're using Australia and New Zealand as test markets for an initial release, and if all goes well we hope to release it in more markets very soon," Funcom told Pocket Gamer. Unfortunately, there's no word on how well things are going, or when The Longest Journey might become available in other regions. We can, however, say that once it is launched outside of the South Pacific, The Longest Journey will feature a $7 price tag.
[Image: Funcom]

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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Blizzard gives thousands of Hearthstone bots the boot

"Several thousand" bots have been banned from Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft recently, Blizzard revealed in a Battle.net blog. The developer found that the accounts were associated with third-party programs that automate actions within the game, and they will now be banned from the game until 2015.

"As we've stated, fair play is at the core of the Hearthstone experience, and cheating and botting will not be tolerated," the developer said. "From this point on, accounts found to be cheating will be permanently closed without warning." Hearthstone players that believe they've encountered an exploitative account in the game are encouraged to report it to the developer at hacks@blizzard.com. The popular digital card game will reach Android tablets by the end of the year with Android smartphones and iPhone following in early 2015.

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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The Longest Journey completes its trip to iOS tonight

An upgraded iOS port of Funcom's classic point-and-click adventure game The Longest Journey will premiere in the App Store later tonight, Pocket Gamer reports.

The Longest Journey Remastered features a redesigned interface suited for touch screens, and takes players on a dimension-hopping adventure across parallel worlds. The app has already soft-launched in New Zealand, and will make its North American debut at midnight tonight.

The mobile release follows up on the recent launch of the episodic follow-up adventure Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey, which hit PC platforms last week. A PlayStation 4 port of Chapters is also in the works.

[Image: Funcom]

Simogo's next mystery, The Sailor's Dream, arrives Nov. 6

Simogo, the developer behind Joystiq-favorite mobile mystery Device 6, has announced that it's next "game(-like project)," The Sailor's Dream, will launch on November 6.

Little is known of The Sailor's Dream - Simogo has been purposefully quiet on the project, hoping fans will discover the game's nuances for themselves - but unlike Device 6, the game will not include typical adventure game puzzles. Instead, the game will be more focused on exploration and the unfolding story. "We hope it will leave you pondering and wondering and find reasons to talk about it with friends, and hopefully even return to it," Simogo explained.

There's currently no price point attached to The Sailor's Dream. If it follows the same pricing scheme as Device 6, expect the iOS adventure to reach the App Store at $4.
[Image: Simogo]

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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Final release version of Scrolls set to unfurl in November

Mojang's card battle game Scrolls has existed in an open beta state since June, but it's nearly time to release the final version, according to a statement made by the developer to Touch Arcade. Er ... maybe. "The guesstimate is late November," Mojang's Owen Hill told Touch Arcade. "But we're not going to release it until it's ready, if you know what I mean."

Mojang recently announced a price drop for the PC version of the game, from $20 to $5, to keep it competitive with other products on mobile platforms. However, when the game launches on iOS, players will be able to download the game for free and play several games as a "dummy" user. A $5 in-app purchase will unlock the full game.

And for those concerned about corporate overlords imposing their will onto a smaller company, Hill told Touch Arcade that he doesn't expect Microsoft's recent acquisition of Mojang to impact their future plans regarding Scrolls. "There's a good chance that the only effect is that we'll have to add a Microsoft logo to the launcher or something."
[Image: Mojang]

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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Trine developer launches iOS platformer Splot


Frozenbyte, developer of co-op platformer Trine, has created one of the most mobile-looking mobile games in Splot. The platformer is available today on the App Store for $3.99 (€3.59 / £2.49) and features a blob that must capture "birdlings" within a time limit. It's the fast-fingers type of game that's better suited for pretending you're watching reality television than on the morning commute.

The game includes 56 levels and over 150 Splots to collect, as well as seven types of worlds to bounce around in. The developer has certainly shown it has chops when it comes to making platformers, as the Trine series has over 7 million sales.

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]

Camp Pokemon collects pins and stickers on iOS

Nintendo launched yet another Pokemon-themed game on iOS this week, a mini-game collection of sorts called Camp Pokemon. Like the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online app that arrived on iPad in late September, the game is free to download, though in this case it's available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users. Camp Pokemon is geared toward a younger audience, as players complete a variety of activities on an island, earning pins and stickers for their accomplishments.

The mini-game events include a pokeball throwing game and quizzes that test players' knowledge of evolutions, battle matchups and more. It's not exactly a traditional style of Pokemon game, but may tide a few players over while they await the launch of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby on November 21. The Sapphire and Ruby remakes will receive a demo on November 7, though Nintendo is requiring a little legwork to obtain access codes for the trial game.
[Image: Nintendo]

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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