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Imperator: Rome gets a major free update, new DLC and cross-store multiplayer

Wednesday 12th of August 2020 05:53:18 PM

Paradox Interactive and Paradox Development Studio put out a massive upgrade for Imperator: Rome which includes a free update, an expansion and cross-platform / cross-store online play.

There's quite a lot to dissect here, so let's start with the free content update. The 1.5 "Menander" update went out, as part of their focus on smaller and more regular updates to various systems. With the main point being to add greater depth to cultural management in the game. Here's the highlights:

  • Cultural Integration: Extend political rights, including citizenship, to large subject minorities, increasing their loyalty and productivity.
  • Reworked Rebellions: Rebels are now more likely to grow in strength among same culture provinces, as rebels take land, demonstrating the viability of their cause.
  • Noble Population: The upper classes in your provinces have specific needs and are more likely to to lead rebellions.
  • Reworked Politics: Republics have fewer political parties to track, and their voting preferences are more easily understood.

You can view the update trailer below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

Sounds like Paradox have been putting a huge amount of work into Imperator: Rome.

You can find Imperator: Rome on GOG, Humble Store and Steam.

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Prepare your hard drive as another Steam Game Festival is coming in October

Wednesday 12th of August 2020 05:18:51 PM

After a massive success with the most recent Steam Game Festival back in June, it's going to return for another round later this year in October. This is where Steam users get to play through a ton of limited-time demos, which originally started back in December 2019 to go along with The Game Awards.

From a post on the Steamworks Development group on Steam, the date is confirmed to be October 7 - 13. Valve mentioned in the announcement that they will soon open up the developer opt-in for the event, giving developers another chance to get a demo out there and get more eyes on their game. Developers don't have long, as the opt-in date is only open from between August 19 - 26.

Like last time it seems they will also show livestreams, Q&A sessions and more. To be eligible, games need to have a launch date set between October 13 2020 and May 1 2021. In that same announcement, Valve confirmed more Steam Game Festivals for 2021 but didn't go into any more detail on that point but it's good to know it will be a regular thing.

I had a lot of fun going over the various Linux demos last time, you can see a little overview here if you missed it.

Speaking to Valve press, they confirmed to GOL that more details will be announced "soon".

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My experiences of Valve's VR on Linux

Wednesday 12th of August 2020 11:04:12 AM

As the proud and excited owner of a shiny new Valve Index kit to go with my almost-new all-AMD rig, I thought I’d outline the journey to getting it all working, exclusively on Linux.

Now bear in mind that I’m not amazingly Linux-savvy. I’ve been using it since the early 2000’s, sure, and full time, exclusively, since 2013, but I’m not very interested in learning the guts of this stuff. I’m extremely technical as a network nerd, but my O/S is just a tool to let me run cool things. I want to be a “normal” consumer of that O/S and if things don’t work out of the box, I take a dim view of it and I don’t have a lot of patience for terminal hacks or “compiling my own kernel”.

Why is that important? Because  when it comes to the Valve Index on Linux, absolutely nothing works out of the box... and yet it’s still (mostly) a success story. Here are some of the hoops I had to jump through to get this stuff working (again, mostly).

My system:

  • Distribution: Mint 19.3
  • Desktop Environment: Cinnamon
  • RAM: 32GB
  • CPU Model: AMD 3900X
  • GPU Model: AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT

You can also see my specs in my profile or by clicking “View PC info” under my avatar in any of my comments, but I’ve listed them here so that this article notes them statically as those during my experience with the Index.

Edit: I'm also using Kernel 5.7.8 from Mainline here, which is important given the hardware I'm using. Also, the OIBAF PPA puts me on Mesa 20.2 at the time of writing.

Unboxing

It’s so pretty! The presentation and unboxing experience is very Apple-like or Google Pixel-like in that it tries to get your buy in just from opening the box! There’s a real wow-factor at play here. It’s a HUGE box, bigger than it needs to be probably, but the presentation is great.

(The HMD visor is so shiny and new that you can see me taking the photo in the third shot!)

There’s not many pictures from here on out, because trying to capture a VR experience with a screenshot (or even a video) is like trying to taste food with your nose pinched.

So, let’s get started!

First Attempt

The “Getting Started” card is pretty basic actually. In summary:

  • Basestations are plugged into a power outlet, front and back of room - check
  • Headset (HMD) is plugged into Displayport and USB3, and powered - check
  • Controllers are on - check
  • Enabled the Steam beta - check
  • SteamVR is downloaded - check

Let’s do this! In Steam, I change my “games” filter to “games and tools”, then run SteamVR. Nothing happens. But wait! I see a light from the HMD. Putting it on, I can see a basic, default, VR environment - a grid on the floor, with mountains in the distance, stars overhead and a moon hanging directly above me. Head tracking is fine, and everything is nice and clear, but I can’t actually do anything and I certainly haven’t defined my “play area”, so I’m reluctant to actually launch a VR game at this point, for fear of walking into a table, wall, or through the french windows while they’re closed!

Taking the HMD off, I can see that I have a bunch of errors on my Steam client about how “SteamVR failed to initialize”. Okay then.

The errors must have taken a few seconds to pop up, or they did so as a result of my putting the HMD on. Hmmm.

So… to Google!

Second Attempt

Well, it looks like SteamVR also has a beta branch, which you activate like any game. Go to SteamVR, right click and choose Properties, then hit the Betas tab:

Which to choose though? Well, I’m on Linux, so the answer is pretty obvious! The “temp” worries me, but it’s the only Linux entry, so I choose it anyway. It downloads, I run SteamVR again, it asks for my sudo password (surprising!), and off we go.

Much better!

Now, I get a pop up on the desktop screen asking me to step through a set up process, including defining my play area. Basically, you stand in the centre of your “space”, point your controller at the screen and pull the trigger, then lay both controllers on the ground, then finally you move the controller around the edges of your space, holding down the trigger, to form a virtual box. This box must be at least 1.5m wide and about 2m in length, otherwise the program complains that it’s too small. I had to rejig my room a bit to accommodate that! I think there’s supposed to be a way around that minimum size, but this version of SteamVR literally won’t you press the “next” button unless you hit the minimum, so that’s what I did.

Having done so, I could put on the HMD and I was back at the default landscape. But now there’s an option in the bottom bar called “SteamVR Home”. I click on it with my emulated laser-pointer controller and finally got my first taste of how absolutely incredible VR can be when it’s “done right”.

SteamVR Home is like BigPicture mode, but for VR. It emulates a room which has a balcony space outside overlooking a distant mountain range. Butterflies flutter by, and you can customise the room and the balcony/garden area in a variety of ways. You also have an “avatar” and can invite friends to your room for chat, or as a party set up for games.

I customised my avatar, drew weird shapes with my painting tool, threw the Portal companion cube around a bit, watching it bounce around. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that Steam Home seems to have a problem saving environments, which is a shame. Frankly, until that’s fixed, there’s literally no point in using Home at all. Later on, I’ll end up disabling it completely, which is pretty disappointing.

But I’m here for now, so I tried to launch a game. Any game. But no dice. I could “view details” of games, but there was no launch button. So what’s going on?

Taking off the headset, I see more errors on the desktop. Sheesh. This looks serious.

So… to Google!

Third Attempt

Looked like I already had a lot of these installed, but as the error notes, it’s the 32-bit versions I need. So after a bit of searching on the web and via Synaptic, I get this to go away with a series of apt commands. In summary:

sudo apt install libva-x11-2:i386 libva2:i386 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0:i386 libxtst6:i386 libgtk2.0-0:i386 libbz2-1.0:i386 libvdpau1:i386

And for good measure, I also do:

sudo apt install libvulkan1:i386 mesa-vulkan-drivers:i386 vulkan-utils:i386

After all that, I’m not getting any errors anymore, which is great. And I have a “Launch game” option in SteamVR Home now! Which does… nothing. At all.

So… (surprise!) to Google!

Fourth Attempt

I’m going to quickly summarise about an hour of frustrating googling/launching/killing/launching/googling here, but ultimately, I resorted to the tried and tested “have you tried switching it off and back on again” method of nerd troubleshooting.

And it almost, kind of, worked.

I start Moss from inside SteamVR Home, and my launch button now fades the Home environment away, and I’m now in the default environment, with a floating banner that says “Up Next: Moss”.

However, after a disappointing couple of minutes, it’s clearly not doing anything.

So… (you know the drill by now) to Google!

Fifth Attempt

Okay, so it looks like the main issue is that a lot of the games I’m trying to launch are Windows only and perhaps they have to be launched directly from Steam? It looks like SteamVR on Linux doesn’t know how to handle Proton titles from “within” the SteamVR environment.

So, I fire up SteamVR, leaving it in the default environment (not SteamVR Home), then I hit the “play” button on Moss on my desktop.

It works! Almost. No sound! But the game launched and it’s my first “real” VR gaming experience. I don’t spend long with Moss though, as it’s clear that it’s a narrative-driven experience and I don’t want to ruin it by playing without sound.

So why are my Index speakers not working?

So… to Google!

Sixth Attempt

Well, this was over an hour of trying various things - mainly running

tail -f /var/log/kern.log

... and then unplugging the USB3 connector and plugging it back in, and watching the output in the terminal. It’s definitely recognising all the devices - the HMD, the twin cameras on the HMD, the microphone, the speakers… but for some reason that's not translating to an actual device in my sound control panel.

Long (really, really long, another hour or two maybe) story short - it looks like my multi-monitor set up was interfering here. I noticed that the speakers’ description is “HDMI / DP 5”, which is the same port number my second screen uses.  When I unplugged my second monitor, the Index speakers appeared in my sound’s control panel. I have sound!

Perhaps this issue is related to https://github.com/ValveSoftware/SteamVR-for-Linux/issues/348

Who knows? Who cares! They work!

Kind of… they’re actually crackling and hissing on certain channels. I notice this in Moss when certain music plays, on the sound effect when you push/pull objects, and most annoying of all, when the narrator speaks.

So… to Google!

Seventh Attempt

Okay, quicker fix for this one. A weird fix, but it works. All you have to do after starting SteamVR, is start the PulseAudio Volume Control (I had to install it first, of course, it’s rarely included by default, at least on Ubuntu derivatives). And, that’s it. That’s all you do. You go from hissing/crackling sound to crystal clear sound on your Index… by opening that app. I have no words.

Later on, I’ll discover that by changing my primary, now singular monitor from HDMI to DisplayPort, I seem to get pretty consistent, crystal-clear sound without resorting to opening the Pulse Audio volume control. But for now, I’m just delighted it works.

It’s time to go big. It’s time to try Half Life Alyx.

Or not. Starting the game fails almost immediately with a vriniterror_init_interfacenotfound error. You know what that means? Yep.

So… to Google!

Eighth Attempt

At this point, I’ve probably had the VR set up for around 10 hours, most of which is actually with the HMD sat on my desk as I troubleshoot what the bloody hell is wrong with it. So I’m properly gutted that one of the biggest reasons I bought a VR kit, Half-Life Alyx, doesn’t even start.

After googling for about 20 minutes, all I’ve really found is a Steam Forums post noting that they had to update SteamVR before Alyx would launch. My SteamVR is already up to date though, albeit I’m still on the Linux_Temp build.

I’m desperate though. I can force an update if I change beta tabs! I switch back to SteamVR_beta, wait for the 500Mb download to complete, restart my PC to give it a clean slate, enter my sudo password again (yeah, that’s still weird) and finally start Alyx.

It works.

Indeed, not only does Alyx now work, but my SteamVR “settings” app works too. In fact, so does the desktop reprojection option! So does “reset seating/standing position”! In fact, everything seems to be working now (except the volume slider for some reason)!

Arrival: VR

I’ve now spent around 20 hours in VR, which is a crucial tipping point for me - it took me around 10 hours of soul-destroying googling to get this far. I can’t stress enough the weird dichotomy of running VR on Linux. On one hand, I paid £900 for the full kit, only to spend over a full working day wrestling with awful, incomprehensible issues for which I had little to no context.

On the other hand, now that it’s largely up and running, it’s easily the best money I’ve spent in a long time, because when you use a high quality HMD on a powerful PC and run “built-for-VR” games and software… it’s mind blowing. Truly, literally, game changing.

It’s not perfect, by a long way. The whole “getting started” experience is, as you can see, appalling. Especially on Linux. And even then there’s stuff that just doesn’t work, either well, or at all:

  • The cameras don’t work, as they’re tied to a D3D11 interface which fails on start up. Ironically, you can run guvcview and play about with them there - they’re just standard v4l2 cameras after all! Hopefully they get this fixed soon, but they'd have to rewrite that D3D11 dependency, so I don't expect that to happen quickly.
  • The volume slider on the “Dashboard” does nothing. You have to modify the volume setting on your desktop.
  • You can’t turn off the basestations yet, so make sure you can reach a plug/switch for them.
  • Steam Home doesn’t save any settings/changes you make within it, rendering it largely useless.
  • You can’t launch games from Steam Home, because it doesn’t seem to understand Proton.
  • Two of “The Lab” experiences crash out - “Robot Repair” and “Secret Lab”. They just fail, no idea why. All the others work though. This is also common on Windows, but none of the Windows fixes seem to work on Linux.
  • I can’t use my second monitor any more. This is probably my biggest gripe right now.
  • The Index head phones crackle until you launch pavucontrol (although this appears to be fixed by not using any HDMI on my system at all).
  • Finally, when you run SteamVR, the sound device appears in your sound panel, but it doesn’t switch to that output. Pulseaudio does has an option to auto-switch to “newly detected devices”, but something about the way that SteamVR creates the output channel seems to bypass this. After starting SteamVR, you have to switch the sound output manually.

But in the grand scheme of things, I’m finally really pleased with the overall result. In fact, there’s only one thing that still annoys me (other than losing my multi-monitor set up), and it’s the noise the basestations make when they’re on. It’s a high pitch, and apparently not everyone can hear it, but I appear to be one of the “lucky” few who not only hears it, but can easily hear it from about 3m away. For me it’s not subtle and only starting a game would distract you from the noise they make. So, basestations definitely off while not in use, sadly, which is a bit of a pain given the lack of remote power options on Linux. I have to literally unplug them.

Do I have any regrets? None at all now that I’m “here”. But good god, Valve have a long, long road before this stuff is mainstream. I’m thinking years, given their rate of progress so far. The out of box experience is just simply diabolically poor.

Is this the future of gaming? Yes and no. Yes, once you’ve experienced VR first hand, you’ll realise how fundamentally important and immersive it is. But no, not at this price, and certainly not with this level of hassle from a technical perspective. Also, arguably headsets need to get lighter, and potentially lose the wires too, which is still the biggest restriction/annoyance you’ll face in VR.

The jury is still out on whether VR could be good in an FPS environment too. Apparently Killing Floor 2 has VR support? I’ll maybe give that a shot. Or Dying Light, perhaps? I haven’t tried anything in VR that features traditional movement yet - it’s all jump-based movement, which isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But I suspect that traditional movement might cause motion sickness, so we’ll see.

But other games work amazingly well in VR. Moss, for example, is just spellbinding. And Elite Dangerous feels like a completely different game in VR.

I just can’t stress it enough, the difference VR makes. You know when you start an FPS game it’s stuck on 1024x768, 70 FOV and with motion blur? Then you figure out how to get 1920x1080, 100 FOV with no motion blur and you’ve gone from a game you literally can’t play to a really beautiful, engaging experience?

Imagine that, but multiplied by a hundred. The idea of playing “flat” Elite Dangerous is now utterly laughable. Like, why would you restrict yourself so needlessly?? I’m being facetious to hammer home the point, because it’s hard to put into words otherwise. It’s THAT spectacular a jump.

To sum up, if you:

  1. Have the money
  2. Have the PC
  3. Have the technical skill
  4. Have the patience

...then VR is a fantastic experience when it’s all working. But you have to have all four, I think, before it’s a sure fire recommendation.
 

Appendix
Here's the games I've tried that work near-enough perfectly:

  • Half-life: Alyx
  • Beat Saber
  • Moss
  • Smashbox Arena
  • The Lab (although noting that two experiments crash)
  • Elite Dangerous
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • Superhot VR
  • Gorn
  • Waltz of the Wizard
  • Sheaf - Together EP

And a couple of games that don't work:

  • Project Cars 2 doesn't recognise the HMD at all.
  • Overload doesn't recognise the HMD at all.
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Sci-fi racer with fancy 4-point physics 'DRAG' is now in Early Access

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 07:42:11 PM

Orontes Games have finally unleashed DRAG, their sci-fi racer set sometime in the future with advanced 4-point physics into Early Access. Note: key provided to GOL by the developer.

Introducing what they say is a "new kind of vehicle-physics", their 4-way contact point traction technology (or 4CPT-technology for short) simulates every component of the vehicles in real time. The result is supposed to give you "realistic, dynamic" behaviour with a full damage model, so expect to see wheels flying across your screen when in multiplayer. You can view the Early Access trailer below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

Feature Highlight:

  • DRAG combines arcade style racing with vibrant driving mechanics.
  • Even though DRAG is not a simple arcade racer, it's designed to be played with a gamepad or keyboard. Support for racing wheels will be added in Early Access.
  • 24 Singleplayer challenges
  • Multiplayer wheel-to-wheel racing in online or split screen matches

One element that makes DRAG quite interesting is the slipstream feature, so you can follow along another car closely behind and gain a bit of speed which you can use to then overtake them. However, you can also play it dirty. Slamming another player off the track is a perfectly valid tactic here.

I've not had long with this build of the game, so some proper thoughts will be reserved for another time. Initial thoughts though? Impressive. DRAG certainly leaves a lasting impression. One of difficulty though, as getting even a basic grip on the handling is thoroughly challenging that really needs your absolute undivided attention to master.

The single-player challenges and trials are absolutely great, with nice short-bursts that you can repeat over until you really know the track and some longer to really test you. Online is going to take some more developer time put into it, as right now the only option is to join a random online game. A proper lobby system would be a good addition there but it works enough for now. During Early Access they plan to add more cars, tracks and so on.

You can buy DRAG on Steam.

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Inscryption from the developer of Pony Island has a new trailer

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 05:50:24 PM

Inscryption from Daniel Mullins Games (Pony Island, The Hex) sounds absolutely wild and it's got a brand new trailer but we've got quite some time to wait on it.

Based upon the title Sacrifices Must Be Made, which Mullins made for the Ludum Dare 43 Game Jam, Inscryption is described as an "inky black card-based odyssey that blends the deckbuilding roguelike, escape-room style puzzles, and psychological horror into a blood-laced smoothie".

Check out the first proper little trailer below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

They said you will:

  • Acquire a deck of woodland creature cards by draft, surgery, and self mutilation
  • Unlock the secrets lurking behind the walls of Leshy's cabin
  • Embark on an unexpected and deeply disturbing odyssey

Interested? I know I am and like their previous games it will release with Linux support. If their previous games are anything to go by, it's going to be an unmissable and perhaps a pretty creepy experience. The trailer above certainly grabs you attention and gave me a bit of the shivers.

You can wishlist and follow it on the Steam page which is also now live.

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3D Realms announces the Realms Deep 2020 digital event for September

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 02:24:36 PM

Are you a fan of first-person shooters? Mark down September 5 - 6 in your calendar as 3D Realms (and "Friends") have announced the Realms Deep 2020 event. With travel still being crazy due to COVID19, this is another wonderful sounding online event to keep you busy.

This event will be featuring companies including 3D Realms, New Blood, Running With Scissors, Nightdive Studios, 1C Entertainment, Apogee Software and a bunch of special guests too like Cliff Bleszinski and John Romero. As for what will be shown? Well, it's not entirely clear, the actual schedule is just a bunch of ??'s. Obviously though lots of first-person shooting and slashing is to be expected. Check out their brief teaser trailer below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

They said there will be a bunch of games featured including multiple upcoming and already released Linux games like Prodeus, Core Decay, Hedon, Warfork and others too including some DOOM conversions like The Adventures of Square. Expect more than that though, they're saying it will also have world premiers so it's likely to have some new game announcements and fresh footage of already announced titles. All sounds pretty exciting.

On top of that there's going to be a Child’s Play charity drive. It will be live between 6PM UTC - 11PM UTC (11:00 AM PT - 4:00 PM PT) on 3D Realms' Twitch. You can see the event website here. There will also be a Realms Deep Steam Sale happening from September 3 - 7.

We will be keeping an eye on it to let you know of any important announcements.

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Hilarious slapstick comedy game West of Loathing had an anniversary update

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 12:33:45 PM

Three years after launching, Asymmetric have given West of Loathing a big anniversary update to get rid of some issues and add in some silly new content. Even their version numbering is ridiculous, with this being update v1.11.11.11.1.

From the creators of the browser-based comedy MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing, don't let the stick figures and super-simple style fool you, this is a great game worthy of your time and it's definitely funny. Easily one of 2017's best indie games. This is where you get to pick a character class between a Cow Puncher, a Beanslinger and a Snake Oiler so you know you're in a for a wild ride right away.

The majority of this new update is just cleaning up some loose ends but there's a few little highlights:

  • Through the miracle of animation, the clown described as flipping his knife by the campfire is now actually depicted flipping his knife by the campfire.
  • There's a new character to chat with at Clooncy's in Frisco.
  • Once you've dealt with Norton, there are now pedestrians wandering in Frisco, and they have a few things to say to you.
  • A bunch of combats now have custom fight backgrounds that more accurately represent their locale. No one ever complained about this, but now that we've brought it to your attention I fully expect to get reports about other places where things look weird.
  • Unity upgrade to Unity 2019.4
  • All known typos have been fixxed, except that one.

Highly recommended if you've not played it yet.

You can pick up West of Loathing on Steam, Stadia and GOG. The build on GOG is currently out of date but they did say it will be rolled out there too when it's had enough testing.

Not seen it before? The original release trailer can be viewed below:


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Take control of your AMD Wraith Prism RGB on Linux with Wraith Master

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 11:26:59 AM

Where the official vendor doesn't bother with supporting Linux properly, once again the community steps in to provide. If you want to tweak your AMD Wraith Prism lighting on Linux, check out Wraith Master.

It's a similar project to CM-RGB that we previously highlighted. With the Wraith Master project, they provide a "feature-complete" UI and command-line app for controlling the fancy LED system on AMD's Wraith Prism cooler with eventual plans to support more.

Designed for feature parity with the official Windows-only Cooler Master application, Wraith Master supports all modes and settings that the Wraith Prism can use. As the Wraith coolers are capable of storing RGB configurations in-device, no daemon is required to maintain configurations, and the program can be uninstalled without fear of losing your settings.

Wraith Master got a sweet 1.1 release which adds:

  • Firmware version reporting
  • Resetting to default profile
  • Toggle for Enso mode (example video below from the developer)
  • Focus clears on pressing the escape button
 

Additionally, the UI now has a bit more padding to feel less cramped along with a bunch of bug fixes. Just like on Windows, this Linux-only tool needs your cooler properly hooked up with the internal USB cable so it can communicate directly with it.

Check it out on GitLab and give your AMD RGB some freedom.

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RimWorld gets a big 1.2 update out with lots more options to tweak your game

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 10:57:44 AM

The brilliant colony-building sim RimWorld has another mega post-release update available now, with content included for both the base game and the Royalty expansion.

Looking over the changelog, which is as long as expected, it sounds excellent. RimWorld has gained a whole new way to tweak your experience with a "custom playstyle system", which allows you to adjust a large number of settings to how you want your game to be. So you could make it a lot easier and more of a building sim and less of a "oh my god everyone is going to die from raiders" sim. There's also a bunch of new visual effects and many new sound effects added in for free too. There's loads more, especially for the Royalty DLC like an entirely new major quest that involves defending a damaged shuttle or assaulting a bandit camp.

You can get an overview of what's new and improved below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

RimWorld is easily one of the best games available on Linux, in fact I would say it's one of the best games as a whole across Linux, macOS and Windows. Every time you play will be different, thanks to the AI story generation systems and now even more so with the new options you can tweak to your liking. So much can happen in a game it's absolutely crazy. We're going to need to take another look during a few livestreams sometime soon, so be sure to follow us on Twitch.

Don't own it? You can pick up RimWorld from Humble Store, GOG and Steam.

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Check out the new trailer and demo for the sci-fi puzzle platformer Transmogrify

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 10:37:09 AM

Your facility appears to be overrun by strange creatures, with a forgetful research AI trying to help you escape but you do at least have a gun that can turn creatures into useful objects. This is Transmogrify, an upcoming sci-fi platformer that was partly funded on Kickstarter a few years back.

It's closing in on release and it's starting to look really sweet. The idea of needing to transform creatures to help you get through levels isn't unique but it does have a nice twist on it. The developer, Odyssey Entertainment, emailed out to mention they have a new trailer which you can see below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

Feature Highlight:

  • Transmogrify strange creatures to solve puzzles and help you advance
  • Challenging and tight platforming
  • Art style that is a perfect blend of creepy and cute
  • Fly, push, grab, rocket jump, and glide: powerups allow you to decide how to move through levels
  • Over 75 unique levels across 4 different worlds

Want to try it out for yourself? Their shiny new official site is up with a brand new demo too. It's also another game built with the free, open source and cross-platform Godot Engine.

You can follow it on Steam. Their current plan is to release in full later this year.

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There's going to be an online Linux App Summit this November

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 09:54:07 AM

Are you interested in helping to make Linux a great end-user platform? Or perhaps you just want to listen to speeches and find out more info from those working on it? Mark November 12-14 on your calendar.

This is the date of the upcoming 2020 Linux App Summit, an event co-hosted by GNOME and KDE as they work to bring everyone together to push Linux further. LAS will have a range of different talks, panels, and Q&As on a wide range of topics covering everything: creating, packaging, and distributing apps, to monetization within the Linux ecosystem and much more.

Recently they announced that the call for Talks is now open, so you can submit your ideas by September 15. They're encouraging new speakers, so you don't need to have done lots before. If you have a good idea, you should go for it and they have some suggested topics too like growing the ecosystem, platform diversity (technology speaking like helping to enabling cross-platform distribution), innovation and more.

Picked speakers will be announced on October 1.

We shall hopefully follow the event along to report on anything interesting in November. They also appear to be looking for sponsors to come up.

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Competitive platform-jumper 'Jumpala' reveals new character, getting a free version

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 09:38:21 AM

Jumpala is an upcoming fast-paced competitive platformer that sees you constantly hopping across tiny little pads, it's actually brilliant fun and they've done a few new reveals recently.

When you think about platformers, traditionally this would mean running along different floors, a little tricky jumping here and there and perhaps various enemy encounters. Jumpala is none of that. Instead, the whole arena scrolls upwards with small platforms each player needs to jump across, to turn it into their colour before it drops of the screen. It's highly competitive and from the early builds we played—a huge amount of fun.

The latest character reveal is Dr. Time, who can slow down time to escape danger and beat others to items and their ultimate ability entirely stops time so you can do as you wish. Have a look:


Watch video on YouTube.com

Does the game seem a little familiar? It's inspired by the classic Spryjinx, a classic from the DOS era.

Feature Highlight:

  • 4-player competitive action. Compete with your friends in fast-paced free for alls, or team up in 2v2 matches. No friends? Go up against challenging CPUs, or compete against others in online 1v1s.
  • Easy to learn, tough to master. If you want to be the best, you'll have to plan your routes, practice your timing, and perfect your positioning—all while being mindful of your opponents.
  • A wide variety of stages. Each stage has unique features and hazards to watch out for.
  • Original set of characters. Each character has their own unique abilities and playstyle.

You can check it out right now on the itch.io demo or buy the main version on itch.io (not finished though, Early Access). The game is also heading to Steam later this year, and there's a demo there too.

Additionally, the developer is planning to release Jumpala: Tryouts Edition (Steam) as a free version on August 20. This should eventually replace the demo as a cut-down version, although with support for online play for people to be able to get into it.

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Vibrant twin-stick slasher 'Breakpoint' gives you exploding weapons

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 09:18:53 AM

Enjoy some classic fast-paced vibrant arcade-style action? Breakpoint looks like it's worthy of some attention for putting a nice unique spin on it.

With bright neon graphics, they mixed in elements from the classic arcade games with "modern sensibilities". It's a top-down highscore chaser with melee weapons that…explode? Yes. No ranged attacks, no laser weapons, no pew-pew-pew. Instead you slice, crush, and blast your way through the swarm and when you push your weapons to their breaking point (it's called Breakpoint—get it?), they unleash a big explosion.


Watch video on YouTube.com

This actually looks like a genuinely fun take on all the classics, I for one am looking forward to giving this a go. Will swapping lasers for exploding melee weapons help me hit the high score? Not likely, I'm pretty terrible at these types of games but it looks like you can go out in a blaze of bright glory here.

When querying Linux support on Steam after noticing Linux being added to the system requirements, the developer replied to confirm it's launching for Linux.

You can follow Breakpoint on Steam.

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Steelbreakers turns the feel of classic Zelda into local multiplayer action

Tuesday 11th of August 2020 09:04:43 AM

Currently in development with a demo now available, Steelbreakers takes the basic look and mechanical feel of classic Zelda and turns it into a competitive local multiplayer battle arena.

The developer mentioned their idea with it was to make a game they wanted to play that they felt didn't exist already. As they said they "always wanted to play a Zelda game that demanded technical skill and would let you fight with your friends on a top-down 2d playing field" and so Steelbreakers was created.

Together up to four players can fight for dominance in small arenas with traps and all sorts. At release, the developer is planning to have online play, additional game modes, plenty of maps and weapons, AI enemies and the list goes on. The demo is just a small slice of what to expect.

After playing a bunch of it, we got a little bit hooked over here at the GOL office. The basics are already pretty great and it works wonderfully on Linux with it being built with cross-platform MonoGame. We've played absolutely tons of local multiplayer action games but Steelbreakers certainly has a unique feel to it thanks to the inspiration.

While they "gauge interest" in this new game, they're going to be using what they learned to improve their previous game Sol Standard, a PvP turn-based tactics game that also supports Linux. After that, they plan to return to Steelbreakers to "add a whole bunch of new content".

You can find it and grab the demo on itch.io. Do let the developer know what you think.

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Party game 'Drink More Glurp' is an absolute barrel of laughs - out now

Monday 10th of August 2020 07:00:56 PM

Drink More Glurp, a party game that thoroughly parodies sporting events like the Olympic Games and also pokes fun at sponsorship systems is out now. Note: key provided by the developer.

Set on an alien world where the inhabitants attempted to copy our sporty games, however they got everything just a little bit wrong which has resulted in a serious of ridiculous contests with completely mental physics. This might be the funniest party game I've played all year. After trying the original demo during the Steam Game Festival, I was hooked.


Watch video on YouTube.com

What's so great about Drink More Glurp is how easy it is to get into and start laughing. You just spin the gamepad sticks around with each controlling an arm, flail about for a while and hope for the best.

I honestly can't stop smiling every single time I load it up. Like any game though, with enough practice you can become pretty good at it and eventually you start learning a few tricks—not me though. Winning isn't the point with Drink More Glurp, most of the time that's a happy accident you can quite literally fall into. Enjoy this video of an 8 year old destroying what I thought initially was quite a good throw considering my own complete lack of coordination (I'm LM with a score of 17.29…):

 

Feature Highlight:

  • Local multiplayer Party Mode from 2-20 Players
  • Thousands of possible event and sponsor combinations
  • A new competition each time you play
  • Single player Challenge Mode with online leaderboards and replays
  • Silly physics

Don't have people over often? There's single-player too! That's another part that I enjoy with it. A great party game it is, as you can sit around and laugh at the failure shown all around you. However, the single-player challenge mode is equally a good time when you're alone and there's plenty of these challenges with lots of variety to keep you going for hours. Plus, the online leaderboard system along with replays is a seriously fantastic touch. You can watch how others do it but that doesn't mean you're going to be able to replicate their amazing score.

Good family friendly fun that makes you really thirsty for a nice cold can of Glurp, it's just so completely stupid you have to love it. Something you need to be aware of though is that due to the control scheme, you need a gamepad to play. Since it's a hot-seat game, you only need one pad that you throw around to each player when its their turn.

You can buy Drink More Glurp on Steam and you should because it's awesome.

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Challenging co-op dungeon crawler 'Barony' gets Linux Steam and Epic Store crossplay

Monday 10th of August 2020 03:41:51 PM

Recently, the first-person dungeon crawling roguelike Barony had a bit of an upgrade along with a release on the Epic Store and that came with crossplay.

"Barony is the premier first-person roguelike RPG with cooperative play. Cryptic items, brutal traps and devious monsters, like those found in classic roguelikes and CRPGs, await you. Conquer the dungeon alone, or gather a perfect party in co-op with iconic and exotic RPG classes."

The problem was, the Linux version on Steam did not have the Steam -> Epic Store crossplay feature. I mentioned this to the developer, while pointing out that the Epic Online Services actually does have Linux support (it's just the store that doesn't). A few days later and another update went out to enable it. Really great to see Linux nicely supported there by Turning Wheel LLC. Now anyone on Steam/Linux can easily play with friends who picked it up on the Epic Store.

To enable it, go into the Settings and to the Misc menu, it's at the bottom:

I've tested it myself and it works perfectly.

If, like me, you found Barony a little difficult to get into, the last update added in a nice Hall of Trials mode to get you started on learning it all which you can see again below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

You can find Barony on Humble Store, Steam and GOG. Barony's code is open source too on GitHub but you still need a copy to play with it for the data.

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Get ready to beat 'em up as 9 Monkeys of Shaolin releases in October

Monday 10th of August 2020 03:04:50 PM

9 Monkeys of Shaolin is an upcoming beat 'em up from Sobaka Studio, what they claim will mark the "true rebirth of the iconic beat 'em up genre in vein of old-school video games".

We've been waiting on this for quite some time now after being announced back in 2018. They've now confirmed it will see a release on October 16. Check out the brand new trailer:


Watch video on YouTube.com

When speaking to the developer initially on Twitter, they mentioned that the date should include Linux too but they would be making a special update on it later. However, a few days later they reached out to us at GOL directly to chat about it and go through more details. After a chat and some initial testing done, they mentioned to us they can say it will "definitely" release on Linux. I can also tell you the combat felt really good but not much more than that for now.

Feature Highlight:

  • 3 unique fighting styles: fight on earth, in the air or use mysterious magic seals. Combine these elements to defeat every enemy on your way.
  • Captivating narrative: discover the fascinating story of Wei Cheng and follow him as he rises from a simple fisherman to the master of Shaolin martial arts.
  • Stunning visual style: unlikely combination of historical and mystical elements gives you an exciting experience from every scene appears on screen.
  • Extensive character development system: you learn a great deal of ways to victory as you discover various unlockable perks, items and fighting styles.
  • More than 25 different levels: Chinese villages, pirate ship, Buddhist monasteries, Japanese mansions, ancient ruins and many more.
  • 10 types of Chinese and Japanese polearms, each with its unique traits. Discover the landscapes to find new items!
  • Co-op play: invite your friend to help you fight through growing waves of enemies and complete the game together.

You can follow it on Steam.

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NVIDIA GeForce are teasing something for August 31, likely RTX 3000

Monday 10th of August 2020 02:47:29 PM

Ready for your next upgrade? NVIDIA think you might be and they're teasing what is most likely the GeForce RTX 3000 launch at the end of this month.

We don't know what they're actually going to call them, although they will be based on the already revealed Ampere architecture announced back in May. It's probably safe to say RTX 3000 for now, going by the last two generations being 1000 and 2000 but NVIDIA may go for something more fancy this time.

So what's going on? On Twitter, the official NVIDIA GeForce account tweeted the hashtag "UltimateCountdown" along with an 8 second teaser with some sort of sci-fi space explosion and the sound of a ticking clock. Additionally, their Twitter header image is now this:

Their first GeForce release was on August 31, 1999 - so it's pretty clear what's going to come on August 31, 2020 don't you think? Would be weird if it wasn't. Wccftech actually managed to grab some info from secret sources, that gave a roadmap of their planned releases and it seems they will launch in September.

We've put it on our calendar to keep an eye on.

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The 'Tiny Teams Festival' on Steam shines a light on micro studios

Monday 10th of August 2020 02:30:34 PM

Tiny Teams Festival, a little sale and event page went live on Steam recently to showcase a bunch of micro-teams and their games and there's a few fun picks there.

Run by Yogscast Games, a YouTube / Twitch group that have turned to publishing indie games. So you could compare this little Steam event to other publisher-focused sales although this includes plenty not published by Yogscast. It's interesting for us, because smaller teams are what make up a large majority of games supported on Linux. They're the ones who most need our support too and so it's nice to highlight some good stuff they make.

Some of the Linux games out now which are worthy of you purchases include:

It's also a nice reminder of a few upcoming games which have demos like:

See the full event page on Steam. The event runs until August 15.

With the The Last Cube, I actually missed the demo during the Summer Steam Game Festival, so that was a nice reminder of a rather atmospheric upcoming puzzle game that's worth a go.

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Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition gets more graphical upgrades

Monday 10th of August 2020 12:46:17 PM

Beamdog are really starting to put the Enhanced into Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition and showing just how much they care about the classic RPG experiences as a studio.

A fresh development build for Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition went up recently with a brand new Lighting Engine and the difference it makes is quite ridiculous. They said their aim with this is to "allow much higher quality future content, but also in large to enhance the visual quality of existing content" and since pictures say more than a thousand words they showed quite a few examples. Here's one to save you a quick click:

Left old / Right new. See a bigger comparison on this dedicated page.

What the feature will come with:

  • Physically based rendering (PBR), with emulation of specular reflection, surface “roughness”, Fresnel-effects and gamma correction. All in all, this gives a more realistic and “natural” look.
  • Tone mapping that prevents color distortion of bright lights and enables overbright.
  • Per-pixel lighting rather than per-vertex of the old setup, yielding much more precise light illumination levels relative to distance.
  • Full dynamic lighting, supporting up to 32 dynamic lights (previously NWN effectively only supported 6).

Plus, it is of course fully optional. It's heavier on GPUs, so you can tweak it and turn it off.

Additionally, Water Rendering also had something of an overhaul in the same way. With full configuration and the ability to turn it off: water now renders full dynamic light reflections, including sun and moon. Water will also show wave displacement based on area wide and local wind sources (such as explosions) much more realistically than the previous water did. They put up some comparison shots again but here's one below to save a click again:

 

Left old / Right new. See a bigger comparison on this dedicated page.

Even more is coming like improved Grass Rendering, which is sorted by distance and they fixed transparency issues so it looks denser and more natural. Grass Rendering was also "heavily" optimised. Pathfinding has also be drastically improved, so you should no longer get stuck on random objects. There's also tons of modding improvements with more access to the internals like the SQLite databases for various parts of the game and plenty more of the game has been put into scripting so it's no longer hard-coded like walking animations.

Beamdog said they intend for this all to go live "in the coming weeks". You can see the full breakdown of everything coming to the next build here. Sounds like some really amazing stuff.

You can pick up Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition from GOG and Steam.

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