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Microsoft announces Age of Empires: World Domination for mobile


We've known since last summer that Microsoft was looking to bring its Age of Empires series to mobile, but earlier this week we were given an official announcement and title. The game, which is being developed by KLab, is called Age of Empires: World Domination. It's coming to iOS, Android and Windows devices this summer. You can check out the announcement trailer above.

Unfortunately, there's not much else to go on at the moment, other than the game will feature Celts, Huns, Vikings and Franks. It's not clear if gameplay will follow in the series' traditional real-time strategy footsteps or be something else, but the trailer promises "an all new battle system reimagined for mobile."

Cry havoc and let slip the fingertips of war.
[Image: Microsoft]

OnLive cuts price of CloudLift subscription fee nearly in half

OnLive launched CloudLift last month, a service that lets users stream its selection of games from capable machines to devices that wouldn't normally be able to play them - think tablets and underpowered computers. CloudLift used to cost $14.99 a month, but that subscription fee has been slashed to $7.95, presumably because price drops are awesome.

Saints Row 4, Batman: Arkham Origins and The LEGO Movie Videogame serve as highlights among Cloudlift's offerings, all of which can be streamed from Steam if you own copies of the games there. Given that your interest in Cloudlift likely depends on whether the service stands up to your expectations, you can try a free 7-day trial by finding CloudLift in the OnLive application's Market.
[Image: OnLive]

Harmonix's free-to-play Record Run planned for May release

Record Run, Harmonix's free-to-play, rhythmic runner that builds stages from the music library on a player's device, was announced yesterday at PAX East 2014. According to Polygon, project director John Drake announced today that the mobile game will reach Australia and Canada within a few weeks, with a wider launch on Android and iOS devices following in May.

As a song progresses, players will switch between lanes of pavement to snatch up levitating discs of vinyl. Aside from accumulating a massive record collection, Record Run-ners can take on missions with more specific objectives, like collecting a certain amount of records or points. Weekly leaderboards are planned as well, but all-time scores will also be viewable.
[Image: Harmonix]

Epic working to bring Unreal Engine 4 to Windows Phone, Windows RT

Windows Phone and Windows RT, the Microsoft operating systems for the company's smartphones and tablets respectively, could be getting a little more ... epic in the future. Epic Games co-founder and CEO Tim Sweeney told forum-goers that the company is working on implementing its Unreal Engine 4 on mobile Microsoft platforms.

"We have been doing some work in this direction (implementing various levels of WinRT API support) and we want to have Windows Phone support eventually, but we're a very long way from having a ship-quality implementation," Sweeney wrote on the Epic forums. "Right now our mobile efforts are really focused on iOS and Android based on their huge market sizes. We have a lot of work to do on these platforms before expanding to other mobile platforms such as WP."

In other words, while we might see Unreal Engine 4 support on Windows Phone and Windows RT in the future, for now it's still more likely to hear or read "coming soon to iOS and Android" than it is "coming soon to Windows Phone."
[Image: Epic Games]

The Internet is your storytelling campfire in Storium [Update]



Ever tell ghost stories around a campfire? Or recount your life's adventures at a party? Storium by Stephen Hood aims to recreate those experiences, with the Internet acting not only as your audience, but your collaborators. You begin by choosing a world with a unique setting and history, and from there, create your own tale to tell within it. Other players can then join in on your story, contributing their own characters and actions.

The game is focused on writing, but mixes in game mechanics such as cards representing characters, items, obstacles and goals to keep players focused and the story moving forward. Think of it like a session of Dungeons & Dragons where the focus is less on killing monsters and more on acting out a scene.

The game has already been funded via Kickstarter, though more funding means more worlds for users to play in. So far, Storium is supporting worlds and settings like Bram Stoker's Dracula, a Red Dawn-like world where Russians invade the US, post-WW2 Los Angeles, and a near future where criminals and law enforcement alike alter their genes to become superhuman. There are no solid release windows or platforms given on the game's Kickstarter page, but it is advertised that players will be able to access Storium "with just your computer, tablet, or smartphone."

Update: Joystiq reached out to Storium creator Stephen Hood for more details, and he has responded. While backers who donate $10 or more gain instant access to the Storium beta, the public launch is expected in November. Storium is also browser-based instead of a standalone client, so any compatible browser, be it on your smartphone, tablet, PC or other device, should work.
[Image: Storium / Stephen Hood]

Magic 2015 deals in Xbox One, out in the summer


This summer, Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers brings the collectible card game series to Xbox One for the first time, but it looks like the game isn't coming to PlayStation platforms in the near future. Wizards of the Coast announced Magic 2015 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Steam, iPad, Android and Kindle, with PS3 and PS4 conspicuously absent from the deck; previously editions have traditionally come to PS3 at launch. As for the summer due date, that's only specified for Xbox One, and Wizards of the Coast notes its releases may vary from platform to platform.

Talking of decks, you'll be able to build customized ones in Magic 2015, and Wizards of the Coast promises "more robust" deck-building features to boot. Meanwhile, the story pits players as the prey of primal hunter and generally deadly dude Garruk Wildspeaker.

Of course, we might be seeing Magic: The Gathering on bigger screens in the future, after 20th Century Fox's purchase of the series' screen rights earlier this year. We look forward to the inevitable video game based on the collectible card game based on the movie based on the collectible card game.
[Image: Wizards of the Coast]

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Blizzard reveals Hearthstone single-player campaign

Blizzard announced its upcoming Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft single-player Adventure Mode at PAX East today, detailing the challenges players will face as they progress through the new Curse of Naxxramas campaign.

Curse of Naxxramas features a series of unique enemy encounters and boss battles that take place on a new Adventure Mode-exclusive game board with interactive corners. The mode adds 30 new cards to the Hearthstone deck, including bonus cards awarded for completing nine unique Class Challenges.

The Curse of Naxxramas will gradually roll out new Hearthstone content in the five weeks after its simultaneous launch for Windows, Mac and iPad this year. A release date has not been announced.
[Image: Blizzard]

Harmonix announces 'rhythm-runner' Record Run for mobile

Harmonix announced the development of a new free-to-play game at PAX East in Boston today called Record Run. Described by the developer as a "rhythm-runner," the game is "coming soon" to as-yet-undetermined mobile platforms.

Record Run features gameplay that compares to Gaijin Games' Bit.Trip series, according to Harmonix head Alex Rigopulos. The game uses songs from players' mobile devices as the backdrop for its levels, which features a character running down a sidewalk, avoiding obstacles and collecting music records, all seen during Rigopulous' presentation. He noted that Harmonix has "lots of other irons in the fire on mobile" aside from Record Run.
[Image: Harmonix]

Humble Weekly Sale: Guacamelee, Surgeon Simulator, State of Decay



The Humble Weekly Sale features a lineup of PewDiePie-approved games, with sales helping out the Save the Children charity. Available for anything you want is Surgeon Simulator 2013, Guacamelee Gold Edition and QWOP for Android. Up for $6 or more is SpeedRunners on Early Access and Garry's Mod, at $10 or more unlock Probably Archery, and for $15 or more you'll receive State of Decay.

All games are on Steam, except for "QWOP for Android." That one's on – wait for it – Android.
[Image: Humble]

Four new tables join Star Wars Pinball on April 29


Zen Studios continues to expand its nigh-ubiquitous virtual pinball offerings with the April 29 debut of four additional tables for Star Wars Pinball.

Included in the quartet of tables, collectively dubbed "Heroes Within," are Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope, Star Wars Pinball: Masters of the Force, and, newly-revealed today, Star Wars Pinball: Droids. As its name suggests, that last one is a table focused on the adventures of R2D2 and C3PO. While you'd think an effete stereotype and a beeping trash can would live sedate lives, as the trailer above demonstrates, our plucky metallic duo must contend with Jawas and inexplicably dangerous machinery while attempting to escape the iconic Sandcrawler.

Though no price has been assigned to the Heroes Within DLC, Zen Studios notes that these four tables will be available to all Star Wars Pinball platforms on April 29.

That Dragon, Cancer documentary follows a year of development, heartache



Thank You For Playing is a documentary about the development of That Dragon, Cancer, the low-poly adventure game from Ryan Green. The game tells the Green family's heart-wrenching story as their young son, Joel, battles terminal cancer. Joel died in March at age 5.

The documentary covers the past year of development, delving into tense family moments, following Joel to the hospital, and covering That Dragon, Cancer at shows such as PAX and E3. Thank You For Playing comes from veteran filmmakers David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall.

Ryan Green posted about the documentary for the first time on his blog today:

"You wouldn't think it so, since our family has been so public and in the news about sharing the game, and we've been part of a web-based documentary before, but letting a film crew in to our personal, creative and professional lives was a little scary. We are not the producers of this film. It is independent of us. Before this project, we did not know David and Malika, but we decided It was important that people see the parts of our lives in-between the scenes of the game. Life happens in the middle and so does death. David and Malika were with our family the three days leading up to Joel's passing."

Thank You For Playing is currently in production, as is That Dragon, Cancer.
[Images: Osit and Zouhali-Worrall]

Hitman Go launches April 17 on iOS, Android 'shortly after'

Square Enix Montreal will launch mobile strategy game Hitman Go on iOS on Thursday, April 17. Based on the publisher's popular Hitman series, the diorama-style, turn-based game will cost $5 (£3 / 4.50 euros). Announced in February, the first game from the developer has players navigating fixed, grid-like spaces while using familiar tools from the series, such as Agent 47's Silverballers.

Hitman Go will include eight special "Curtains Down" levels based on Hitman: Blood Money. While Square Enix didn't set a release date for it, the Android version of the game will arrive "shortly after" it launches on the App Store.
[Image: Square Enix]

Layoffs hit Sega Europe following restructure in US

Sega Europe suffered "a limited number of redundancies" due to a restructuring in Sega of America's Sonic and mobile divisions. The layoffs follow those that hit Sega of America in October 2013 due to another restructure.

"Sega is in the process of consolidating certain functions of the Sonic and Mobile departments within Sega of America, where the management and production for those areas of the business reside," Sega told Joystiq via email. "As part of that strategy a limited number of redundancies have taken effect in our European office, based in London."

Sega slashed its profit forecasts in February for the fiscal year ending March 31, cutting its expected net income by 36.2 percent to 30 billion yen ($293.5 million).
[Image: Sega]

Minecraft Pocket Edition chips off 21 million copies

Minecraft Pocket Edition has sold more than 21 million copies, developer Jens Bergensten says in a tweet. To celebrate this ridiculously large number, the Minecraft mobile team will host a live panel broadcast from Mojang offices on Monday, April 14, allowing fans to ask them anything. Whether they'll answer anything is up to them.

Players can submit questions to this reddit thread. Mojang will pick the best ones and address them live online – there's no specific time for the stream yet, but it will be archived. Mojang says to check the site for more info as it comes in.

"We're extremely grateful to all players for your dedication and creativity," Mojang writes. "Without that, Minecraft wouldn't be anywhere near as significant as it is today."

Minecraft recently passed 12 million sales on Xbox 360 and 14 million on PC. In its first month on PS3, Minecraft hit 1 million sales. In total, Minecraft has sold roughly 576 squidillion copies across all platforms.
[Image: Mojang]

Humble Bundle PC and Android 9 adds three games

Humble Bundle PC and Android 9 received three more games this week, bringing the total number of games (appropriately) to nine. Those that spend more than the average sale price for the bundle, which is currently $3.89, get The Shivah, Savant Ascent and Syder Arcade in addition to the six games originally announced for the bundle. Each game is available through Steam for PC, Mac and Linux, via DRM-free download and on Android.

Created by adventure game developed Wadjet Eye Games, The Shivah follows Rabbi Russell Stone as he surprisingly receives a generous sum of money to keep his synagogue open. Savant Ascent comes from D-Pad Studios and blends enemy-thrashing with the music of electronic musician Savant. A PS4 version of the game was announced in March. Lastly, Studio Evil's Syder Arcade is described as a "free-scrolling, multi-directional shoot em' up." Humble Bundle PC and Android 9 will end on Tuesday, April 15 at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
[Image: Wadjet Eye Games]

Digital board game Armello blends furry critters with strategy-RPG mechanics


Australian indie developer League of Geeks announced the upcoming release of Armello, a digital board game and strategy-RPG hybrid due to launch in 2015 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS.

As we previously saw at GDC, gameplay in Armello unfolds in the context of a multiplayer board game with card-based mechanics. Players choose among multiple playable clans, and can forge temporary alliances with other players as they quest for a ruling seat at the royal palace. Defining gameplay components include a day/night cycle, a dice-rolling combat system, and an in-depth equipment system that can be managed between turns.

Armello seeks $200,000 AUD to reach its initial funding goal. Ports for Android and Windows tablets are also being considered, pending stretch goal funding.

[Video: League of Geeks]

Card Hunter expansion tapped for later this month

Card Hunter will deal out "Attack of the Artifacts," the game's first expansion, later this month. The free-to-play browser-based game, which is also making its way to mobile, will deepen the deck-building strategy game with new adventures, cards and monsters.

Attack of the Artifacts isn't just for the solo adventurers getting in some Card Hunter between TPS reports at work. The expansion also adds league play where dungeon masters can "pilot monster decks and explore challenging new multiplayer boards to win prizes." Prizes include more pizza (the in-game currency), treasure chests and unique figures.
[Image: Blue Manchu]

Game of Thrones: Ascent studio developing strategic mobile Star Trek game


Disruptor Beam, the developers behind Game of Thrones: Ascent, announced the development of Star Trek Timelines today. Published by CBS, Star Trek Timelines is a story-driven strategy RPG for iOS, Android and browsers in which players explore galaxies and resolve conflicts through diplomacy, combat and science. Players will build a starship and crew and go on missions with characters from the many series of Star Trek TV shows and movies.

The studio's CEO, Jon Radoff wrote a blog on the developer's site detailing its vision for the multiplayer game, comparing it to Game of Thrones: Ascent. While Radoff said the game will be familiar to Game of Thrones players, Star Trek Timelines will feature a "more immersive exploration system" as well as "a more detailed tactical system" for conflict resolution. Disruptor Beam currently doesn't have a release schedule for the game.
[Image: Disruptor Beam]

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Marvel superheroes to join Disney Infinity


After years of superhero films from Marvel Studios igniting the box office, it was inevitable that Disney would add Marvel's characters to open-world license mashup Disney Infinity.

The game, which drops players into a sandbox-style environment populated with famous faces from throughout Disney's vast catalogue of lucrative characters, has long been a suspected destination for Marvel's heroes. In February, we reported on layoffs at Disney Infinity developer Disney Interactive, at which time the Wall Street Journal claimed that Marvel characters would join Disney Infinity in a "new version" of the game. Presumably that explains the "2.0" designation at the end of the above trailer, though so far we've found no further information on what might also be included in this new incarnation of Disney Infinity.

There's no word on when Marvel's heroes might join Disney Infinity, nor word on which heroes will make the cut. Given the title of the video, "Get Ready To Assemble," we think the Avengers will be a safe bet, but otherwise we're in the dark. When contacted, neither Disney nor Marvel had anything further to add.

Cartoon Network publishing Kickstarted Zelda-like Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

Indie developer SleepNinja will get a little help to bring Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake to Steam and mobile devices later this year, as it agreed to a publishing deal with Cartoon Network Games, the publisher confirmed to Joystiq. The developer earned $26,091 on Kickstarter in February 2013, enough to reach a stretch goal that will bring the game to Android in addition to PC, Mac and iOS.

"Cartoon Network have been great to work with and have definitely kept our backers in mind," SleepNinja Creative Director Justin Baldwin said via email. "Our publishing deal with them will not affect our backer's rewards; everyone will still be getting what was promised, and the game they were promised."

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is an "environmental puzzler" in the same vein as Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series that features a colorful 16-bit aesthetic that "doesn't rely on pixel art." While Cartoon Network Games primarily focuses on games related to its current properties such as Adventure Time, Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake will be its first original IP on Steam. Cartoon Network said it plans to publish "more than 10 mobile titles and at least four on Steam."

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