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Endless Legend available now on Steam Early Access

Endless Space developer Amplitude has released its newest game, Endless Legend, on Steam Early Access today. The two games occupy the same universe, but Legend is a 4X fantasy strategy game, whereas its sibling is built around creating a space colony.

Since it is an early access game, it features half the playable factions, with the additions of advanced AI for diplomacy, economics and combat coming in the future. There are many more details on what's included (and missing) on the game's steam page.
[Image: Amplitude]

Minecraft Realms subscription service now available

Mojang has launched its Minecraft Realms subscription service in North America, offering hosting and setup for multiplayer Minecraft worlds starting at $13 per month.

Mojang notes that the service holds particular value for parents, as Minecraft Realms makes it easy to set up a child's individual sandbox world and restrict it to invited players. The subscription fee also covers an automatic backup feature, allowing players to undo unwanted alterations and roll back worlds to a previous saved state.

Up to 10 players can join a Minecraft Realms-hosted world at once, and the service will host minigames and other exclusive in-game events on a regular basis. Discounts are available for users who sign up for a three- or six-month subscription package. The service is currently exclusive to the PC version of Minecraft, though support for Minecraft: Pocket Edition is planned in a forthcoming update.
[Image: Mojang]

Humble Weekly Sale: Dustforce, VVVVVV, Cave Story+, Limbo

The Humble Weekly Sale is bursting with a dozen of games this time around, and five of them are available for whatever price you want: Thomas Was Alone, Puzzle Bots, Dustforce, VVVVVV and Cave Story+.

Add six games for $6: Reus, Limbo, Cthulhu Saves the World, Mutant Mudds Deluxe, Lone Survivor and Element4l. The final game, Teslagrad, is locked under the $10 barrier. This Humble Weekly also has a round of physical merchandise from nerd-merch site Fangamer. For $40, get a shirt and a keychain, and for $100, add on another shirt, a sticker pack and three posters. Plus all the games, of course.

Part of the cash in this bundle goes toward the charity Direct Relief.
[Image: Humble Bundle]

The Girl and the Robot to deliver automaton friendship to PS4

Developer Flying Carpet Games has revealed plans to bring its charming action-adventure game The Girl and the Robot to the PlayStation 4.

As Jess explained last October, Flying Carpet Games is a developer composed of former EA and Gameloft employees. The Girl and the Robot is the studio's first project, and its themes of magic and friendship, when combined with the game's aesthetic and leading odd couple, seem to resemble a whimsical, fairytale riff on the PlayStation 2 classic Ico. What's more, the game is adorable. Take a look at the early trailer above for proof.

Though initially planned for release on the Wii U and Steam, the latest update to the game's Kickstarter page breaks the news that Sony has greenlit The Girl and the Robot for release on the PlayStation 4. Flying Carpet Games has yet to determine a solid release date for The Girl and the Robot, but the studio hopes to launch the game at some point during 2014.
[Image: Flying Carpet Games]

Omni VR treadmill gets $3 million in seed funding

Following Virtuix's announcement earlier this month that its virtual reality treadmill will arrive in July for its early adopters, the company revealed this morning that it received seed funding. Virtuix received $3 million to "expand production and distribution of the Omni," the $500 platform that has players strapping in to a harness and wearing special shoes to run, walk and jump using their real-life legs in games. The seed investment round was led by Tekton Ventures and Maveron.

One of the other investors onboard with the Omni is Radical Investments, a venture capital firm founded by Mark Cuban. Virtuix took a trip to the entrepreneurial ABC reality television series Shark Tank, which Cuban stars on, in an episode that aired in December. In it, Cuban pointed out that Virtuix's Omni is "pretty much based around Oculus Rift" and that "as Oculus Rift goes, you guys go."

Virtuix valued its idea at $20 million, which Cuban and the rest of the cast didn't buy into. "I could see you creating 20 million in sales, 25 million in sales with this, but you're competing just like headsets are going to be competing," he said. "You haven't told me that there's a way to get to 50 million in sales." Given Facebook's recent acquisition of Oculus VR for $2 billion, which was cleared by the FTC this week, Cuban now appears to see more hope for the Omni. Aside from private investors, the other groups that funded Virtuix's efforts this week are Scentan Ventures, Scout Ventures and StartCaps Ventures.
[Image: Virtuix]

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Goat Simulator to rampage across the UK in boxed release

The only thing more fun than a barrel full of monkeys is a box full of goats, and that's exactly what Coffee Stain Studios has planned for the citizens of the UK.

Koch Media, Goat Simulator's UK publisher, broke the news this morning, saying that the physical version of the Internet's favorite antisocial livestock simulator will reach retailers on May 23. No additional content is planned for the physical release, but buyers will receive a box emblazoned with the face of Satan's most cuddly terrestrial envoy. Notably lacking from the announcement was any word on what price point might be attached to the physical release.

In addition to word of this physical version of Goat Simulator, developer Coffee Stain Studios has detailed the game's upcoming 1.1 patch with a video that is sadly exclusive to Facebook. The highlight, both of this clip and likely of your day, is goat parkour. If those two words didn't immediately send you scrambling for the "Play" button, you're probably dead. Joystiq offers its condolences.
[Image: Coffee Stain Studios]

Joystiq Streams: Giveaways and The Wolf Among Us [UPDATE: Relive the stream!]

[NOTE: Part 2 of the stream archive is after the break.]

Joystiq Streams is already the stuff of legend, so it's no wonder we're drawn to Bill Willingham's long running Fables comic book series. Like its supernatural stars Snow White, Bigby Wolf, and Cinderella, we, too, are nigh-on immortal and in constant combat with evil despots forcing us to live exiled in New York City. That last part isn't true. What is true is that we'll be playing the very first episode The Wolf Among Us on Joystiq Streams alongside its creators and we'll be giving away heaps of codes for both that episode and Steam season passes.

Tune in right here to this post or the Joystiq Twitch channel at 4PM EST as we stream The Wolf Among Us: Faith alongside Telltale Games producer Chris Schroyer and actor Adam Harrington, the voice behind Bigby Wolf.

Richard Mitchell will play, Susan Arendt will chat, and in the Twitch chat feed Anthony John Agnello will be giving away three codes for Episode 1 on Xbox 360, three codes for the episode on PlayStation 3, and three full Wolf Among Us season passes for Steam. Codes are first come, first serve so get up in there quick.

Joystiq Streams broadcasts live every Tuesday and Thursday at 4PM EST at
[Images: Telltale Games]

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Take an Expedition into Titanfall's War Games map

Following an initial reveal earlier this month, developer Respawn Entertainment has now graced us with a handful of screenshots and solid information on the War Games map included in Titanfall's upcoming "Expedition" DLC pack.

Unlike the game's other maps, War Games isn't real. That is, it's even less real than the video game's other maps as it takes place within the same simulator players strolled through during Titanfall's training mission. As a result, the developers were able to craft imaginative structures with a focus toward acrobatics without having to worry about things like design congruency and sensible architectural layouts. This virtual setting also allowed Respawn's level designers to incorporate level battlefields for the game's titular giant robots, free of debris that might distract from the task of blowing apart opposing robots.

For more, pay a visit to the Titanfall website where designer Jason McCord offers his take on War Games. This map, along with two others, will debut in the Expedition DLC at some point in May, at a price of $10.

Bloodrayne Betrayal coming to PC next week, Japanese tease was port

Last week's tease by Arc System Works for something BloodRayne related was simply a razz for the Japanese localization of BloodRayne: Betrayal. The "BRCS" from the teaser site stood for BloodRayne: Crimson Slayer, which will be the game's name for the region. The solid action game from WayForward will be available in Japan on May 1 on PS3.

In the west, BloodRayne: Betrayal will be available on Steam for PC on April 30 with full controller support. In our review we said Bloodrayne Betrayal has "style, substance and butter-smooth combat."

Gone Home and Papers, Please sweep Games For Change Awards

The Games For Change Festival hosted its annual awards ceremony on Wednesday night, honoring socially conscious games in three categories: Most Innovative, Most Impactful, and Best Gameplay. Game of the Year, the fourth and final award, was given to a game that embodied all three categories. Some 140 games were nominated, and a panel of experts in gaming, media, education and philanthropy whittled those selections down to eight finalists.

Lucas Pope, though not in attendance at the awards, dominated the stage. Papers, Please, Pope's brutal game about playing a border crossing guard in the fictional communist nation Arstotzka, won both the Most Innovative and Best Gameplay awards. Speaking with Joystiq via email after the awards, Pope shared his thoughts on why his game seems to resonate so strongly with players.

"It puts players in an unfamiliar position and asks them to make difficult decisions with no easy answers," said Pope. "The subject matter is unique enough to get people interested, so the challenge for me was to hook them early with the core gameplay, then build on that with an interesting story."

Most Significant Impact, the award given to games about social issue that also encourages players to develop empathy and respect for the subject, went to Electric Funstuff's The Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey. Mission US simulates life for the Northern Cheyenne tribe as it confronted the institution of Native American reservations in the 19th century.

The Games For Change Game of the Year award was given to The Fullbright Company for Gone Home, their divisive first-person adventure. Steve Gaynor and Karla Zimonja accepted their award in a brief video message which, as the ceremony's host put it, may have been the first ever selfie acceptance speech.

Papers, Please and Gone Home both received year-end accolades from Joystiq and numerous other outlets. Lucas Pope offered some insight into why games that address social issues are gaining traction amongst players.

"I think the changing audience is related to generations and technology," explained Pope. "I grew up playing games my entire life so they're a natural form of expression and entertainment for me. I don't necessarily look to games for only straight up fun times, and I'd say most of my generation is the same way. At the same time, the tools and resources to create games have exploded in the last five years. It's much easier now to make smaller games that reflect personal experiences. With more games like this being made, there's naturally going to be an audience to play and enjoy them."

Evolve gameplay is all about the hunt

2K Games and Turtle Rock Studios launched an interactive trailer this morning for Evolve, the four versus one mulitplayer game coming this fall to next-gen consoles and PC. There's about an hour of content in the video above and if you want more you can check out our video preview.

Steam Midweek Madness: Portal 2, Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Portal 2 and Octodad: Dadliest Catch have a lot in common: Both are born from an independent developer concept; both feature a clueless collection of non-playable characters; and they each explore the absurdity of the human condition. Now, thanks to a Midweek Madness sale, both are available for a discounted price on Steam.

Portal 2 is available for $4.99, 75 percent off its regular price (or $8.74 for two copies for co-op adventures. Octodad: Dadliest Catch can be added to your Steam library for $9.99, 33 percent off (or $13.33 for the game and soundtrack; which, shockingly, does include the Lionel Richie classic "Stuck on You"). Each sale ends at 10am Pacific on Friday, April 25.

In other deal-related news, the newly released music exploration game FRACT OSC is available for 10 percent off ($13.49) until 10am Pacific on April 29.
[Image: Young Horses]

Twitch, Newegg put $20,000 into High School StarLeague scholarship

High School StarLeague organizes esports competitions for high school students in North America, and this season it's offering a scholarship of more than $20,000 for the winners of its finals round in June. Twitch and Newegg each contributed $10,000 to High School StarLeague for the scholarship.

"Through tournaments and scholarships, we plan to prepare our aspiring and talented gamers for the professional gaming scene, while simultaneously ensuring success in their education and character development outside of the game," High School StarLeague COO Jesse Wang said in a press release.

Games included in the tournament are League of Legends, Dota 2 and StarCraft 2. The High School StarLeague 2013-2014 finals take place in June in Southern California, and they'll be broadcast live on Twitch.
[Image: High School StarLeague]

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Get Red Orchestra 2 for free on Steam, offer expires soon

Update: The offer expires on April 24 at 10am Pacific.

Developer Tripwire Interactive is giving Steam users a freebie. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, a World War 2-themed tactical shooter, is available for free. Like Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2 some months ago, the game is yours to keep forever as long as it's added to your Steam account within the giveaway period.

Tripwire Interactive will parlay its gifting mood into a free Steam weekend featuring Red Orchestra 2's Rising Storm expansion. During the free trial period of the expansion, Rising Storm will be available for purchase at a discounted price.

To grab Red Orchestra 2 for free, simply "add" it to your account from the game's Steam store page. Tripwire's shooter is regularly priced at $9.99.
[Image: Tripwire Interactive]

Nine minutes of futuristic cell phone use in Watch Dogs multiplayer

Image In a nine-minute walkthrough of Watch Dogs' multiplayer component, Animation Director Colin Graham takes us through streets filled with people staring at their phones. It's the future. Watch Dogs is due out on May 27 for PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS3 and Xbox 360.... Continue Reading

Beefcake Braum is League of Legends' next champion

League of Legends' next champion will be the beefy barbarian Braum, developer Riot Games has revealed. The Freljord native will take up his massive shield to block projectiles and soak up damage from enemy champions. The official League of Legends site has more details on this magnificently mustachioed man, who is, according to Riot, the game's "first true tank support" character.

Braum is a support champion, meaning he won't be dealing out much damage of his own, but rather helping his teammates survive and taking the hits for them when he can. That doesn't mean he won't be useful in a fight, though. His "Winter's Bite" ability shoots a line of ice out from his shield, dealing magic damage and slowing those it catches. The "Stand By Me" ability causes Braum to leap to a nearby ally, positioning himself between them and the nearest enemy champion. This move also grants both Braum and the ally a boost to armor and magic resistance. His "Unbreakable" ability lifts Braum's shield and causes projectiles coming contact with it to be destroyed. Lastly, Braum's ultimate ability, "Glacial Fissure," sends out a long-range attack that knocks enemies into the air and slows them.

Braum is currently available on the League of Legends beta servers, and is expected to make his way to the main game soon.
[Image: Riot Games]

Project Cars takes drivers on 'the ultimate journey' in November

Need for Speed: Shift developer Slightly Mad Studios announced that its sim-styled racer Project Cars is due to hit the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and PC platforms in November.

Project Cars demonstrates its slick presentation and advanced damage modeling in the newly released trailer above. Slightly Mad recently announced that Project Cars will be one of the first games to feature support for Sony's upcoming Project Morpheus virtual reality headset.

[Image: Slightly Mad Studios]

Artist Omocat's surreal RPG Omori channels its inner Earthbound

Omori, a "surreal, exploration, horror RPG" from webcomic artist Omocat bears fleeting similarities to popular games like Nintendo's Earthbound, which may be what pushed it past its $22,000 goal on Kickstarter in just over one day.

Omori has players traveling between two worlds, exploring their own memories and uncovering some "hidden truths" between turn-based battles, which are listed as "traditional," though they feature untraditional player statuses "based off real human emotions and conditions." The game is written, directed and illustrated by Omocat with a soundtrack courtesy of chiptune artists Slime Girls and Space Boyfriend, the latter of which directly cites Earthbound, Animal Crossing and Persona as inspirations for the game's music. It is in development for PC and will come to Mac if the project crosses its $50,000 stretch goal.

Omocat expects to deliver Omori to backers by May 2015 according to the project's reward tiers, which includes a $15 level that grants donors a copy of the game.
[Image: Omocat]

FTC clears Facebook's purchase of Oculus VR

Facebook has earned U.S. antitrust approval to purchase Oculus VR, clearing the way for its acquisition of the company and its Oculus Rift VR headset technology, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition this week. Facebook announced its purchase plans last month, revealing that it will pay $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR and its assets.

Oculus VR crowdfunded its headset technology in 2012, later expanding its development team with the addition of former Valve software engineer Tom Forsyth, University of Illinois robotics scientist Steve Lavelle, and id Software co-founder John Carmack. The Oculus Rift headset has sold over 85,000 units to date.

[Image: Oculus VR]

Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor canceled, composer says

A proposed spiritual successor to Rare's Nintendo 64 platformer Banjo-Kazooie has been called off, series composer Grant Kirkhope confirmed in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" post this week.

"The other guys actually had a secret meeting in a pub near Rare and we even got as far as having a character drawn up and a demo level type thing but it all fell to bits .... everyone's got other jobs, etc.," Kirkhope said.

Developed by a team of ex-Rare staffers, the "Mingy Jongo" project promised to retain the detailed environments and googly-eyed characters of its N64 inspiration. The team's Twitter account went dark in December 2012, and a proposed Kickstarter project failed to materialize.

[Image: Rare]

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