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Gravity Ghost swirls through Steam's solar system today



Ivy Games' Gravity Ghost is on Steam today for PC, Mac and Linux for $15, a reasonable price for a trip through the stars. Plus, it's two-for-one, forever – pay $15 on Steam, get two game codes.

"Why?" Gravity Ghost Designer Erin Robinson asks in an email. "I'm encouraging everyone to give that second copy to someone special in their life who doesn't play video games. My hope is that it will open the door to this amazing hobby and allow people to share that joy with their loved ones."

Gravity Ghost is a physics puzzler with a twist (or a twirl): Players soar around planets, using gravitational pull to gain momentum, alter direction and collect pieces of a shattered galaxy. There's no "fail" state, though there is a rich story with hints of darkness, plus voice acting by Ashly Burch (Borderlands 2), Logan Cunningham (Bastion) and Sarah Elmaleh (Gone Home). The soundtrack comes from FTL composer Ben Prunty. See the story trailer after the break.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition gets special recognition from GLAAD

GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has given a special recognition award to Dragon Age: Inquisition. The 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which has a laundry list of award categories, including comics, singled out the BioWare RPG from the video game pack.

David Gaider, lead writer for the Dragon Age series at BioWare has spoken in the past about the "hump of assumptions" involved in creating and including lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters in video games. Inquisition featured the first "fully gay" characters in the series. Straight and bisexual characters have been a BioWare standard for over a decade.

Bioware parent company, Electronic Arts, has also repeated received a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. The publisher earned the achievement again in 2015.
[Image: C. Felichidá]

On track with the first three hours of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

There's an immediate intimacy to my first three or so hours with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and no, I don't mean the bare buttocks I see in one of the opening cut scenes. The third entry in CD Projekt's fantasy RPG series may offer a new open world that's umpteen times bigger than previous entries. Yet, following a story-driven tutorial, I end up losing myself to the very first landmark, the peasant village of White Orchard.

It's a small riverside muddle of hovels, taverns and fields, its warm hues belying the deeper, darker stories within. There's the impulse to call my horse and gallop towards the horizon, but I find the village's multitude of side quests as welcoming as they are distracting, and certainly meaty enough to steer me away from temptation.

Eventually I drag myself to the main quest and my first wild hunt of The Witcher 3, as I track and take on a huge, bloodthirsty griffin. But before all that, let's return to those buttocks...

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Lady Hammerlock joins Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's playable lineup

Lady Hammerlock, sister to researcher Sir Hammerlock and heir to the family's fortune, will add a bit of class to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's playable lineup on January 27. Aurelia is included in The Pre-Sequel's season pass, but a related press release notes that fans who prefer to pick up DLC a la carte can also don her fashionable demeanor for $9.99.

Lady Hammerlock's progression branch into Huntress, Cold Money and Contractual Aristocracy skill trees. Huntress focuses on sniping, offering a skill that dishes out critical hit bonuses for each consecutive shot on a target. Cold Money is all about ice damage, as made evident by one of its abilities implementing Cryo damage with any equipped weapon. Contractual Aristrocracy is all about status, as suggested by one of its unlockables reaping Lady Hammerlock bonuses from kills made by her peasant teammates.

When firefights call for desperate measures, Lady Hammerlock's Cold As Ice action skill spawns a Frost Diadem Shard that chases down and latches onto targets, dealing constant damage until they finally keel over so that the shard can move onto its next target.

If you sat out The Pre-Sequel in hopes of a current-gen port but still want to freeze things to death as Lady Hammerlock, don't fret – Borderlands Handsome Collection will include all season pass DLC when it arrives on March 24.
[Image: Gearbox]

Homeworld Remastered Collection coming February 25


Homeworld Remastered Collection, a compilation that includes Gearbox's modern take on Relic Software's strategy game series, will make contact with Steam on February 25. As announced during Gearbox's presentation at PAX South 2015, the bundle includes original and updated versions of Homeworld 1 & 2, with Gearbox's recreations featuring new voice recordings and a remastered score. Homeworld Remastered Collection will provide commanders with space fleets for $34.99 at launch, though a 15 percent discount ($29.74) is available to those who preorder.

The bundle also grants access to Homeworld Remastered's Steam multiplayer beta, a mode that serves as a joined multiplayer mode for both games. Races, maps, game modes and features from both games will be ready for battle once the multiplayer beta launches.
[Image: Gearbox]

Check-in, Knock-out: More fun than jumping on hotel beds



Checking into a hotel can be stressful. Even if your overnight establishment of choice doesn't lose or otherwise muck up your reservation, what if you don't have a reservation in the first place and there's no vacancy? And then, there are the hotels that force you to do battle with your fellow room-seekers, tossing exploding luggage and tearing the room apart in an effort to make them fall to their death.

What, you've never had that happen? Clearly you haven't played Check-in, Knock-out. But you should.

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Adventures of Pip is modern cute plus classic challenge

I'm calling it now: the Kickstarted Adventures of Pip from developer TicToc Games is going to win cutest game of 2015. I don't care that we're not even to the end of January; Pip is so cute that I want him in a kids' TV show. He's so heart-meltingly precious that I want plush figures and a breakfast cereal themed after him.

Pip is so gawl-darned lovable and sweet that it makes me deeply, deeply angry.

The game's charming aesthetic masks a sinister beast. For despite the playful bounce of our square-shaped hero and the bright colors that surround him, this is a world looking to commit straight-up pixelated murder.

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First-person puzzler Magnetic: Cage Closed is like Portal, cubed

Guru Games isn't afraid of having their recently-announced game, Magnetic: Cage Closed compared to Portal. In fact, that's where it started: a school project designed as an homage to both Valve's famous, meme-producing first-person puzzler and lesser-known horror/suspense film, Cube.

Magnetic takes place in an alternate history version of the 1960s, where inmates sentenced to death can be sold for scientific testing. Such is your fate, as you are a prisoner charged with testing the D27 Magnetic Propulsion Device – or, in simpler terms, a magnet gun.

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For the '90s Arcade Gamer Soul: Gunsport

Wandering the halls of PAX South, a pattern begins to emerge: the 8-bit style resurgence has well and truly ended. While '80s nostalgia still rumbles throughout the booths of small developers, '90s style is what's playing on the screens. For newer players exhausted of blocky pixels in every other cult hit of the past five years, the chunky, dense neon of this 16/32-bit inspired games will be as welcome and vibrant as they were to players 25 years ago. To players of that era, games like Gunsport feel like home.

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EA snitches on Battlefield Hardline, reveals maps and modes

Following a raid by local authorities, informants at publisher EA were compelled to give up detailed information on the multiplayer maps and game modes included in the upcoming cops versus robbers shooter Battlefield Hardline.

The nine maps included in Battlefield Hardline all seem either ripped from a Michael Mann heist film or from one of the earlier, military-focused Battlefield games. Bank Job centers around an imposing financial institution that must be relieved of its cash, Hollywood Heights is populated by expansive houses likely belonging to media moguls and hip hop artists and Riptide is an ocean-front map that continues the Battlefield series' long-running fascination with gun battles set against a tidal backdrop. There's also a map called "Growhouse," but we're guessing you can figure out what happens there. A full rundown on each of the maps can be found on the game's website.

Battlefield Hardline will include seven gameplay modes, ranging from the classic to the wholly novel. Conquest is a Battlefield mainstay mode that pits teams of players (up to 64 in total) against one another in a battle to see who can control certain areas of the map. Blood Money, by contrast, is a new mode where both cops and robbers attempt to swipe money from the opposing teams' vault while gunfire rages all around. Perhaps the most intriguing new mode is Hotwire, a vehicle-focused addition in which the criminal team attempts to steal a list of cars while the cops try to stop them with extreme prejudice, leading to the sorts of high-speed gunfights pictured above. Full details on the game modes found in Battlefield Hardline can also be found on the game's website.

Battlefield Hardline is slated to launch on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC on March 17.

Trials Fusion adds online multiplayer, new DLC hits next week

As promised late last year, developer Redlynx has added online multiplayer gameplay modes to its stunt-platforming motorcycle game Trials Fusion in a new, free update.

According to publisher Ubisoft, the new online multiplayer options support up to eight players, and include three gameplay options. Online-X Supercross pits eight players against each other in a series of three races, while Private Game and Private Game With Spectator allow players to alter race parameters, ranging from track to speed and handling to the strength of gravity, before the event.

Additionally, Ubisoft has announced that the fourth Trials Fusion DLC pack, entitled "Fire In The Deep," will arrive on January 27. Described as the "biggest downloadable content pack yet," Fire In The Deep will include "11 new tracks, five new achievements and trophies to unlock, 27 new track challenges and dozens of new editor objects." Like all Trials Fusion DLC packs, Fire In The Deep is priced at $5, but can also be found among the five DLC packs included in the $20 Trials Fusion Season Pass.

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Early Access zombie survival hit DayZ tops 3 million sales

Publisher Bohemia Interactive has revealed that DayZ, the cult-hit, open-world zombie survival game, has attracted more than three million sales since its debut on Steam's Early Access platform.

DayZ arrives at this milestone only a year after reaching Early Access. Despite pragmatic warnings from DayZ creator Dean "Rocket" Hall that the Early Access version of DayZ is incomplete, the game was an immediate hit, selling over a million copies in its first month, owing largely to the cult following it attracted in its original incarnation: a modification for Bohemia's ArmA 2 first-person military sim.

"We would like to say thank you to every single one of the three million players, that have joined us on the journey of making DayZ," writes project lead David Durcak. "You all have helped make DayZ the best open world, zombie survival game. This is an amazing achievement, and we are really looking forward to start sharing with you all of our game design improvements, anti-hack solutions and other optimizations we have been working on for a majority of the last year."
[Image: Bohemia Interactive]

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How to make a game in an hour, no experience required


For many, game development seems like an unreachable dream. We envision a world where we can come up with an idea, hunch over a laptop, bang out some code and – voila – video game. Tom Francis, creator of Joystiq favorite Gunpoint, is putting together a very handy Game Maker tutorial and, while it won't make things quite as easy as they are in your dreams, you'll have a working prototype in about an hour.

The tutorial is published as a series of videos on YouTube (here's the playlist) and all it requires is a free download of Game Maker, which you may recognize as the engine that powers games like Spelunky, Hotline Miami, Risk of Rain, Gods Will Be Watching, Nidhogg and many, many more. You can download the free version of Game Maker Studio right here.

Even better, the tutorials require no programming or game creation experience whatsoever. If you can follow instructions, you can follow these tutorials. After the first two lessons, clocking in at a total of 50 minutes or so, you'll have a character that moves with the WASD keys and shoots in the direction of your mouse pointer. As noted by Francis himself: If you can shoot, it is officially a video game (also it's pretty easy to program).

Don't take my word for it though. Just check out the trailer for my upcoming indie-developed blockbuster, World of Shoo(ting). If you want to do more than just shoot, of course, you'll have to watch the rest of the tutorial series.

Breach and Clear: Deadline brings tactical thinking to zombie slaughter

A zombie apocalypse is no excuse for sloppy tactics. That's the thinking behind Breach and Clear: Deadline, an undead twist on the top-down strategy genre and offshoot of the iOS/Android game Breach and Clear.

In Deadline, ransacked interiors and mangled streets are home to various forms of infected; parasitic worms capable of "hyper-evolution" have invaded the soft, squishy bodies of the former humans that once lived here.

Okay, so they're not technically undead zombies, but the upside is that Mighty Rabbit is using the hyper-evolving worms as justification for a new campaign, a wide variety of enemies and a fresh gameplay experience.

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How to make top down horror like Noct scary? Ditch zombies

Noct, a new survival horror shooter by Chris Eskins, shouldn't be scary. Outwardly simplistic, Noct borrows the top down perspective of Devolver label-mate Hotline Miami as well 360-degree style shooting but ditches the color and detail. Dark, drab, and obscure, the black and white action is filtered through the ambient light of satellite night vision. Your blob of a character so easily killed is glimpsed through snaky sharp brambles and wandering down empty streets and detail-less warehouses. Noct should feel isolating but not scary. It's too distant, both in fidelity and in action. Yet it got me to yell, "Nope!" just like its characters do before they're run down by the blurry outline of a giant arachnid or wandering, ravenous, ill-defined bovine beast.

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