Indie gem Stardew Valley will get multiplayer on August 1st

Stardew Valley, the popular indie farming simulator (it’s more fun than “farming simulator” makes it sound, I promise) is quite possibly the chillest game of all time. But, without any multiplayer aspect, it can get … a bit lonely. From farming, to fishing, to exploring mines, it’s always felt like a game that would be better with friends. We’ll soon find out if that’s true. After about year of work has been put into the feature, the game will get cooperative multiplayer starting on August 1st. There’s a slight catch: multiplayer will be limited to PC/Mac/Linux, at first. The trailer (below) says support will roll out to Nintendo Switch/PS4/Xbox One “soon,” but doesn’t get into specifics. Multiplayer Stardew Valley will support up to four (4) players on the same farm, with all players sharing the same money and farmland. According to this page on the Stardew Valley fan wiki,
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What should competitive Fortnite look like?

Last weekend, Epic Games put forth its first true effort at official competitive Fortnite Battle Royale. It was a disaster. The private hosts used for the tournament were about as laggy as could be, with pro players getting eliminated simply because they couldn’t move. This tournament was for a total prize of $250K. That’s big money, and big frustration for pro players who were essentially eliminated by the whims of the server gods. But on top of the lag, the whole thing was, well, boring. A cardinal sin in any sport. The fact is that when you put 100 pro players in a lobby together and tell them that the last man standing wins, most of them will simply sit in a fort and stay safe as long as possible. This does not generate a whole lot of action. And when there is action on the map, there was no
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Now this… this is an ultra-wide monitor

I’ve been working with an ugly but functional lopsided two-monitor setup for years, and while it has served me well, I can’t say the new generation of ultra-wide monitors hasn’t tempted me. But the truth is they just aren’t wide enough. Or rather, they weren’t. Samsung has just blown my mind with a monitor so wide it will serve as a ramp that you can trick off of in the summer. It’s so wide that when it puts on a pair of BVDs they read BOULEVARD. It’s so wide that the Bayeux Tapestry got jealous. Actually it’s a little less wide than a couple of the monitors Samsung announced at CES — but those had two problems. First, they were 3840×1080. And I just need more vertical pixels than that. Second, they were 49 inches wide. That’s a BIG monitor! Not just big, but with those pixels spread out that
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Now you’re journaling with power! (with this Mario-branded Moleskine gear)

Although this isn’t a stationery news site (how I should like that!), the latest collection from Moleskine is Mario-related, so technically I can write about it. There’s even a phone case and a rolltop backpack! It’s pretty much exactly what you expect: the usual solid Moleskine notebooks with a Nintendo flourish. They’re all Mario -related, but have different styles: a cartridge and Game Boy for the pocket-size notebooks, and stylized NES graphics on the larger ones. Unfortunately there’s no planner (hint hint, Moleskine). “It’s a newstalgic mixture of contemporary technology and timeless paper,” reads the press release. “Nostalgic” already implies both new and old so there’s no need for a portmanteau, and a Game Boy isn’t exactly “contemporary,” but they got the paper thing right. Actually, the notebooks have some pretty dope detailing. The small ones are embossed with cartridge ridges and Game Boy controls. All of them
🔥
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Roblox responds to the hack that allowed a child’s avatar to be raped in its game

There’s a special place in hell for people who think it’s funny to rape a 7-year-old girl’s avatar in an online virtual world designed for children. Yes, that happened. Roblox, a hugely popular online game for kids, was hacked by an individual who subverted the game’s protection systems in order to have customized animations appear. This allowed two male avatars to gang rape a young girl’s avatar on a playground in one of the Roblox games. The company has now issued an apology to the victim and its community, and says it has determined how the hacker was able to infiltrate its system so it can prevent future incidents. The mother of the child, whose avatar was the victim of the in-game sexual assault, was nearby when the incident took place. She says her child showed her what was happening on the screen and she took the device away, fortunately
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Fortnite maker Epic Games beefs up its Unreal game engine in new update

After a wildly successful last few months thanks to Fortnite, Epic Games is delivering some substantial new updates to its Unreal game engine, which supports a variety of cross-platform titles and experiences. Some features like smoother compatibility on mobile and better support for Switch come directly from the fact that they’ve had to iterate so quickly on building such a massively successful cross-platform title. “Our engine is as good as it is because we ship games,” Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri told TechCrunch. “How many clicks an artist has to do to be able to change the color of something or adjust the look of something is all highly optimized because the artists scream at us day-in and day-out on the engine team if it’s not efficient.” The engine enables indie developers to gain access to a system for environment building and rendering that is on-par with the major
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Niantic acquires Seismic Games

Niantic — the company behind Pokémon GO — is back at it with another acquisition. After acquiring Escher Reality back in February and Matrix Mill back in June, this morning the company announced it’s acquiring Seismic Games. Seismic Games is probably best known for its work on Marvel: Strike Force, a mobile, turn-based RPG that has players build battle teams made up of all the big names from the Marvel comic universe. Niantic’s two biggest games of the foreseeable future — Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite — both rely heavily on licensed IP. So acquiring a team that already has a wealth of experience with licensed IP — specifically, a team that can walk that fine line of building enough new content to keep the players happy without doing something that sets off the IP owners — makes sense. No terms of the deal were disclosed.

No Man’s Sky Next seeks to right the game’s wrongs

For a certain kind of gamer, the premise of No Man’s Sky, that of an endless procedurally generated space universe teeming with life, was intoxicatingly perfect, almost too good to be true. After overselling that dream to the disappointment of just about everybody, Hello Games is back to make amends with a major new update: No Man’s Sky Next. No Man’s Sky Next will introduce a spate of updates, including long-awaited full multiplayer gameplay, a visual update to improve textures and add detail, first to third-person perspective switching, unlimited base building and command freighters that allow you to create, upgrade and dispatch a fleet of ships from the comfort of your own bridge. You can see a few of those changes implemented in the trailer below. The update, which will hit on July 24 as a free update to PlayStation and PC, also brings the advent of No Man’s
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Twitch streamers can now let viewers react with GIFs

Giphy is coming to Twitch . For the first time, Giphy is bringing its library of animated GIFs to the Amazon-owned game streaming service. The company today is launching a Giphy extension for Twitch streamers that will allow viewers to react in real-time using GIFs during a broadcast. The idea is that GIFs could make streams more engaging and entertaining, which would, in turn, attract retain viewers for longer periods of time. Twitch extensions were first introduced last year, but only recently did Twitch add support for running multiple extensions at once. That could encourage more developers to try out the Giphy extension, without having to give up their other favorite overlays. To use the new extension, the streamer will first configure which part of the screen area will be used to display the GIFs viewers post. Once the extension is activated, viewers will be able to access it during a
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This $20 DIY kit makes your NES, SNES or Mega Drive controller wireless

I have to hand it to 8BitDo. At first I thought they were just opportunistically hawking cheap hunks of plastic in an era of unparalleled nostalgia for retro games, but… well, who am I kidding? That’s exactly what they’re doing. But they’re doing it well. And these new DIY kits are the latest sign that they actually understand their most obsessive customers. While you can of course purchase fully formed controllers and adapters from the company that let your retro consoles ride the wireless wave of the future, not everyone is ready to part with their original hardware. I, for example, have had my Super Nintendo for 25 years or so — its yellowing, cracked bulk and controllers, all-over stains and teeth marks compelling all my guests to make an early exit. I consider it part of my place’s unique charm, but more importantly I’m used to the way these
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Ubisoft now auto-bans Rainbow Six Siege players who use toxic language

Ubisoft has implemented a new system in Rainbow Six Siege that bans players for using toxic language in the text chat, according to PC Gamer. Yesterday, a number of players started whining about being temporarily banned from the game after using a racist or homophobic slur in the text chat. The first offense results in a 27 minute ban. Second and third offenses will cost players 2 hours of game time, and any following toxic language will result in an official investigation and potentially a permanent ban from the game. Like most games, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege has a Code of Conduct that forbids “any language or content deemed illegal, dangerous, threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, racist, sexist, ethically offensive or constituting harassment.” However, most games do close to nothing to enforce these rules, which has led to an overwhelmingly toxic gaming community overall. This new banning system
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Klang gets $8.95M for an MMO sim sitting atop Improbable’s dev platform

Berlin-based games studio Klang, which is building a massive multiplayer online simulation called Seed utilizing Improbable’s virtual world builder platform, has just bagged $8.95M in Series A funding to support development of the forthcoming title. The funding is led by veteran European VC firm Northzone. It follows a seed raise for Seed, finalized in March 2018, and led by Makers Fund, with participation by firstminute capital, Neoteny, Mosaic Ventures, and Novator — bringing the total funding raised for the project to $13.95M. The studio was founded in 2013, and originally based in Reykjavík, Iceland, before relocating to Berlin. Klang’s original backers include Greylock Partners, Joi Ito, and David Helgason, as well as original investors London Venture Partners. The latest tranche of funding will be used to expand its dev team and for continued production on Seed which is in pre-alpha at this stage — with no release date announced yet. Nor
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Fortnite’s Summer Skirmish kicks off today, with $8 million prize pool

Fortnite Battle Royale has swept the gaming world. Alongside its 125 million users and record-breaking Twitch streams, the game has also drawn many competitive players away from their usual titles to try their hand at Battle Royale. Today, that competitive play reaches at inflection point. At 4pm ET, Fortnite Battle Royale’s Summer Skirmish will kick off, with $8 million going to tournament winners over the course of the competition, with a whopping $250K going to the winners of today’s tournament. This isn’t the first competitive Fortnite tournament we’ve seen. Celebrity Twitch streamer Ninja held a charity tournament in April, and Epic held a ProAm tournament combining competitive players and celebs who play Fortnite in June. Plus, sites like UMG and CMG have been holding smaller tournaments since Fortnite first rose to popularity. And then there are $20K Fortnite Friday tournaments for streamers held by UMG. But today, the ante has
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The International Olympic Committee is curious about eSports

If there’s still any doubt that eSports is coming into the mainstream, just look to the world’s biggest sporting event: The Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) have announced that they will host an eSports Forum, looking to gauge whether or not esports has a place in the Olympics. According to the release, the IOC and GAISF will host esports players, game publishers, teams, media, sponsors and event organizers, as well as National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, athletes and the IOC. The group as a whole is looking to “explore synergies, build joint understanding, and set a platform for future engagement between esports and gaming industries and the Olympic Movement.” In the release, GAISF President Patrick Baumann said:
Along with the IOC, the GAISF looks forward to welcoming the esports and gaming community to Lausanne. We understand that sport
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Oh, the things I would do to get this cardboard-style Nintendo Switch

Nintendo is building on its strange but wonderful cardboard Labo platform with some sweet Mario Kart integration and a truly fabulous limited edition Switch with a faux-cardboard finish. It really is just the greatest thing and I would do terrible things to have it. Unfortunately some smart kid will probably get it, because you have to win it by designing something cool with Labo. So, first the Mario Kart stuff. If you have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch, and you really should because it’s excellent, you can now use the Toy-Con (buildable with the Labo Variety Kit) as a sort of real-world controller. You twist the right “handlebar” to accelerate and rotate the whole thing to turn. This is the first game to get its own special Labo support, but the company says more are on the way. Splatoon 2, perhaps? If you’re a creative type and
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OpenAI’s ‘Dota 2’ neural nets are defeating human opponents

Artificially intelligent systems taking on human competitors is a grand tradition of computer science; thankfully, we’re still in the cute stages that don’t feel quite like War Games yet. For its part, OpenAI has been trying its hand at Dota 2 competitive play, and its bots are starting to win against some skilled opponents under certain conditions. The Elon Musk co-founded venture is aiming to raise awareness for where AI technologies are now and how the tech industry can promote safe advances that benefit everyone in the future. While playing an unabashedly nerdy video game better than human opponents may seem to be a weird place to expend extensive resources, it’s all the continuation of where AlphaGo and Deep Blue have taken us before: building machines that can beat humans in seemingly simple games. Unlike decidedly more turn-based games like chess or Go, Dota 2 is a title that requires
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An Overwatch hacker in South Korea just got sentenced to a year in prison

A 28-year-old man in South Korea faces a year in prison for hacking Overwatch . The sentence, reported by South Korea’s SBS News and Dot Esports, handed the hacker one year in prison and two years of probation for illicit activity related to the hit online multiplayer game. The particularly steep sentence is a result of both the ongoing nature of the activity and the fact that the individual generated 200 million Korean won (almost $180,000 USD) from Overwatch-related hacks. The hacker’s charges stem from the violation of two Korean laws: the Game Industry Promotion Act and the Information and Communication Technology Protection Law. In the last year, Overwatch developer Blizzard Entertainment has worked with the Seoul National Police Agency’s cybersecurity department to crack down on hacks that compromise the integrity of the high profile game, particularly due to its prominence in the esports world. “Cheating on the Asian Overwatch server
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Rumored full mouse and keyboard support for Xbox One could change the gaming landscape

Microsoft may be readying a new weapon that could shift the balance in the interminable console wars: the mouse. Wait, you say, didn’t they promise that years ago, and aren’t there peripherals already available? Kind of. But going whole hog into PC-style controls allows Microsoft to create powerful synergies with Windows, performing a flanking maneuver against arch-rival Sony. Mouse and keyboard is, of course, the control method of choice for many games on PC, but it has remained elusive on consoles. Some fancy accessories have made it possible to do it, and years ago Microsoft said it would be adding in mouse support to games on its console, but the feature has in practice proved frustratingly limited. More on-screen pointing has been done with Wiimotes by far. Windows Central got hold of an internal presentation ostensibly from Microsoft that details what could be a full-court press on the mouse and
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Microsoft and Nintendo release Minecraft trailer focused on cross-play

In the world of gaming, cross-compatibility between platforms has always bene a bit of a white whale. While most players hope for it, console makers and game publishers haven’t always been so willing. Until recently. Microsoft, Nintendo and PC game makers have started making games more cross-compatible. Most notably, the companies have made Fortnite Battle Royale, the biggest game of the year, cross-compatible on the Switch, Xbox, iOS, and PC. Yes, there is a big name missing from that list. Sony has yet to budge, forcing PS4 players inside of a walled garden. Obviously, players have been outraged. But today, Microsoft and Nintendo are seemingly putting salt in the wound with a new trailer for Minecraft. Rather than focusing on the game, the trailer’s entire thesis is centered around the fact that it offers cross-play between Xbox and the Switch. In the video, you can see a Switch player
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Singapore-based game studio Mighty Bear raises $2.5M ahead of debut release

Mighty Bear, a game studio startup that grew out of King.com’s former office in Singapore, has landed new funding as it readies its debut title for smartphones. The startup was founded by four former King.com staffers — Simon Davis, Fadzuli Said, Benjamin Chevalier and Saurabh Shukul — after the gaming giant closed its Singapore office — inherited via the acquisition of Non Stop Games — following its $5.9 billion acquisition by Activision. Today, Mighty Bear’s team of 18 counts experience working with Ubisoft, EA, Lucasarts, Disney, Gameloft and others. The startup previously raised $775,000 in a pre-seed round in early 2017, and this time around it has pulled in a seven-figure USD investment. The deal is officially undisclosed, but a source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch it is worth around $2.5 million. The deal was led by U.S.-based Skycatcher, New York hedge fund banker Eric Mindich’s Everblue
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