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Feature: Early Access, as told by the devs that live there

"Early Access" has become a four-letter word. Tales of alleged scams, abandoned or canceled projects and unfinished games being sold at retail have many questioning the service's validity and usefulness as a tool for empowering developers. Customers are increasingly concerned about quality assurance and Steam becoming a hot mess of unnavigable menus drowning users in content.

In light of this, Joystiq reached out to developers with varying histories regarding Early Access to find out more. Meet Jamie Cheng, Chris Simpson and Ryan Clark, your tour guides behind the scenes of Early Access indie development. Join us as these three developers share their thoughts on what has caused the downward spiral of public perception surrounding Early Access, what can be done about it, and what future – if any – the program has.

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PSA: PSN gets knocked down again [Update: Back online]

The PlayStation Network servers are currently out of commission for the second time in as many days. Sony posted a notice to its official Twitter account that its engineers are "aware of connectivity issues" and "are working to resolve" them.

PSN suffered an outage for the majority of Sunday thanks to an apparent DDoS attack (distributed denial of service). Sony noted that no personal information was accessed in the attack. b=Both PSN and Sony Entertainment Network were "impacted by an attempt to overwhelm our network with artificially high traffic," though it's unclear if that's also causing today's issues. We'll update this post when PSN is up and running again.

Update: Sony said that "network connectivity is being restored," and thanks players for their patience.
[Image: Sony]

Tekken-style Pokemon fighter unveiled for arcades in 2015

Pokken Tournament combines the world of cutesy critter-catching series Pokemon with fast-paced 3D fighting in the vein of the Tekken series. Do not adjust your monitors, this is for real. As Famitsu confirms, the game represents a collaboration between Nintendo and Bandai Namco, and it's coming to arcades in Japan some time next year.

The game was revealed today during a Niconico livestream by The Pokemon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada and Soulcalibur producer Masaaki Hoshino. Gematsu reports Pokken Tournament will be developed under the leadership of Harada and Hoshino. Details are limited, but a short announcement trailer showed Lucario and Machamp duking it out, before revealing the Pokken Tournament logo.

To see the announcement trailer, pokken below the break.

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The Evil Within cast features Rorschach, Dexter's sister

The Evil Within's villain is voiced by a man with a sinister cinematic past: Jackie Earle Haley, the actor behind the mask of growling antihero Rorschach in the Watchmen film. Haley also played Freddie Kreuger in the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, as well as the disturbing neighbor in 2006 drama Little Children. In short, the man can do dark.

Starring alongside Haley in the Shinji Mikami horror is Jennifer Carpenter, who Dexter fans will recognize as Debra Morgan, the long-suffering sister of the serial-killer title character. Carpenter voices Judi Kidman, the junior detective partner of player protagonist Sebastian Castellanos, played by Hell on Wheels lead Anson Mount.

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Touch-based Age of Empires: Castle Siege unveiled for Windows 8

Microsoft revealed Age of Empires: Castle Siege this week, a Smoking Gun Interactive game that's coming to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 next month. Microsoft's Kieffer Bryant described Castle Siege as a "fast-paced experience" built for touch devices, with players dragging units across paths while accumulating resources and building up their cities.

However, it seems fans of the strategy series haven't taken well to the announcement. The majority of YouTube users thumbed-down the announcement trailer (which you'll find below the break), while some commenters derided the game as a Clash of Clans clone that isn't true to the series - Supercell's mega-popular MMO isn't available on Windows Phone.

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SOE Live 2014: H1Z1 is a full-fledged survival experience

With an event like Zombie Prom, it was hard not to notice a certain undead theme at this year's SOE Live. That's all courtesy of the studio's upcoming apocalyptic survival game H1Z1. And thanks to plenty of panels, interviews, and the keynote, we learned even more about the game: The new sandbox is so much more than a zombie shooter; it's a full fledged survival experience. There were even opportunities for fans to nab some hands-on playtime.

We had the chance to mix and mingle with Producer Steve George, Senior Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt, Art Director Bill Yeatts, Technical Director Tom Schenck, and Game Designer Adam Clegg to discuss where H1Z1 came from, where it is going, and how far it has gotten. Delve into the new air drops, the heat and temperature systems, and so much more. We've also embedded the full keynote panel for you.

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The Banner Saga victorious at The Geekie Awards

The Banner Saga added another trophy to its haul this month by collecting the The Geekie Award for Best Indie Video Game. Stoic's turn-based strategy RPG was up against tough competition from the likes of Outlast, Don't Starve, Axle and Octodad: The Dadliest Catch. But a winner had to be chosen and there was only one man for the task. Yes, one Richard Mitchell of Joystiq Reviews Content Director fame - and other judges, we gather - deemed The Banner Saga this year's worthy winner.

"We are honored by the outpouring of love from fans for The Banner Saga and know that this award is due to their support", said Stoic Technical Director John Watson. "This comes just as we are about to launch the game on tablet, and we are excited about the prospect of offering The Banner Saga to a new medium of gamers."

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Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition trailblazes the UK charts

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls - Ultimate Evil Edition is the new UK No.1, displacing The Last of Us: Remastered after three weeks running at the top. Data compilers Chart Track offer a few interesting infobits on the new chart leader, including that the top platform for sales was PS4 with 47 percent of the share. The PS4 version sold more than last year's original Xbox 360 release, but only around 500 units more. Xbox One took 32 percent of the share, Xbox 360 13 percent this time around, and PS3 8 percent.

Also rising out of the undergrowth into this week's top ten is Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, thanks to the brand new PS4 and PS3 versions. It takes third place behind The Last of Us: Remastered, while JRPG Tales of Xillia 2 debuts in an impressive tenth place.

Finally, and quite incredibly, FIFA 14 is out of the UK top ten for the first time since its release. If only EA had another upcoming edition of its soccer sim to replace it...

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How much is that Watch Dogs in the window? $36 on Amazon

Amazon, in a bid to recoup recent outlay, is offering open-world vigilante-em-up Watch Dogs as its Gold Box Deal of the Day. Ubisoft's game with the waggly tail is down from $60 to $36 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with the PC version nearly half-price at $32. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are available at $40.

If you've really got money to burn, the normally $130 Limited Edition is going for $85. It bundles in a steel book case, the soundtrack, a real-life vigilante mask for use on your own hacking exploits, a hardcover art book, and a 9 inch Aiden Pearce statue.

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Vita gobbles up Don't Starve: Reign of Giants next week

Don't Starve for me, soon on (E)Vita. The truth is Klei's dark realization of wilderness survival hits the Sony handheld on September 2 in North America and the day after in Europe, priced at $15 and 14 euros. It includes the Reign of Giants expansion that came to PS4 separately back in July, but at no extra cost.

Despite that disparity, Klei's made the Vita version cross-buy; if you own the game on PS4 you unlock it on Vita, and vice-versa. Don't Starve isn't cross-play, though, so saves won't cross over between PS4 and Vita.

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NBA 2K15's 'Yakkem' trailer is red hot

2K Sports' latest trailer for NBA 2K15 includes voiceover work by the basketball sim's pre-game commentary team Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal, the latter coining the phrase "Yakkem." Set to "Suck my Kiss" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the video shows the player models of a number of athletes, including LeBron James in his Cavaliers uniform.

The publisher issued a second video late last week in which NBA players Steph Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis and NBA 2K15 cover athlete Kevin Durant discuss the NBA 2K series. NBA 2K15 will launch October 7 for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. 2K Sports added 11 new Euroleague teams to this year's game, which features a soundtrack hand-picked by Pharrell Williams.
[Image: 2K Sports]

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GaymerX conference to return as GX3: Everyone Games

GaymerX, the gaming convention that seeks to "create a safe space for all gamers, especially gamers who are queer, women, and people of color," will return, and the event's organizers could use your help in funding the show.

Earlier this year, it was announced that GaymerX2, the second iteration of the conference, would mark the event's final appearance due to the costs of operating a show of that size in San Francisco. However, following that announcement, the organizers were inundated by support from developers who want to see GaymerX continue. "We are thrilled and humbled by the amount of support we've gotten since taking our financial difficulties public," said GaymerX CEO Matt Conn. "With amazing devs and publishers willing to put their money up to help save the concept of an awesome safe space for queer geeks and their friends, it means the world that we're able to potentially continue this convention."

Now, the organizers are planning a third GaymerX convention, scheduled for August 11-13, 2015. In lieu of calling it GaymerX3, the event is now dubbed "GX3: Everyone Games" to reflect the shift in attendance from strictly members of the LGBTQ community to their supporters and any number of other marginalized groups in gaming. If you'd like to help the event go off without a hitch, the organizers are currently attempting to raise $80,000 - 60 percent of the show's operating costs - via Kickstarter.
[Image: GaymerX]

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The Legend of Korra begins in October

If you've recovered from The Legend of Korra's season three TV finale, read on for more news about the series in video game form. Otherwise, take a few more deep breaths and brace yourselves:

The Legend of Korra game from Platinum and Activision is due out on October 21 on PSN and PC, and on October 22 on Xbox Marketplace, Activision producer Robert Conkey told IGN. The game is coming to PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. Last month, we got a look at some Korra gameplay featuring Naga, the polar bear dog.

Tropes vs Women further examines misogynist decoration in games

Image In the second part of Anita Sarkeesian's examination of women as decoration in games, the Feminist Frequency founder examines games in which female characters exist purely as sexual objects to advance the plot. Brief scenes of sexual assault in Metro 2033 and BioShock, for example, offer no... Continue Reading

Destiny devs nix player-to-player item trades

In its latest Destiny update, developer Bungie makes it absolutely clear that players will not be able to swap weapons and gear within the open-universe first-person shooter.

A fan asked Bungie if player-to-player trades will be available at Destiny's launch and was met with a succinct denial. "Nope. We want you to earn 'em," Bungie stated. "You should be able to tell a badass story for every sweet jewel in your arsenal." Though trades between players will be lacking from the game, Bungie does note that players can trade items between their own characters. "Once you earn them, the various Guardians under your account will be able to trade them, but weapons belong to the players who acquire them through action and bravery."

If you're now grumbling in frustration, have a look at Sony's official unboxing of the white Destiny PlayStation 4 bundle below the break. It's not a replacement for a proper, player-run economy, but maybe watching the birth of a new gadget will take your mind off of things.

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast Special: Gamescom 2014 Day 3

Latest episode: Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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