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HTC Vive pre-orders open February 29, 2016

After the Oculus Rift’s announcement last week, it’s HTC and Valve’s turn – the HTC Vive pre-orders open in February 2016.

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HTC Vive pre-orders

After the Oculus Rift’s announcement last week, it’s HTC and Valve’s turn – the HTC Vive pre-orders open in February 2016.

The game of pre-order chicken is over. Last week the Oculus Rift broke ranks, started taking pre-orders, and revealed their price and projected delivery date… or should that be delivery dates? I digress. The Rift is coming and that simultaneously creates a problem and an opportunity for the contenders, the HTC Vive and the PlayStation VR.

Why is it a problem? Because the other players in the space don’t want to be left behind and lose potential customers to the Oculus Rift by dragging their heels. But the opportunity, and the benefit of going second, is that it provides a chance to undercut the Rift in terms of price.

The Valve-backed HTC Vive then is expected to be more of the same as the Oculus Rift: it will be pricey, it will be high-end, and it will be competing in the PC space; so will require a high-end gaming computer in order to run it.

HTC have announced that the HTC Vive pre-orders will open on February 29, 2015. That’s certainly more than the 48-hours warning than we received for the Oculus Rift pre-orders. We don’t know the price yet, but devices will be expected to ship in April.

That April delivery date is particularly interesting, because the Oculus Rift’s delivery date has already slipped from March to June for all new orders under the sheer weight of pre-orders; we’ll be keeping a close eye on proceedings to see if the same problems plague the HTC Vive pre-orders.

It remains to be seen if the HTC Vive will be able to undercut the Rift on price however, as the inclusion of custom VR controllers from day one (the Oculus-designed controllers will not be available at launch) and a front-facing camera – which many poured scorn on, but might just prove to be a standout feature in the VR battleground – might see the price pushed even higher than the $599 US of the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift.

Watch this space for more news on the HTC Vive pre-orders.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Injustice 2 (and one other game) is free to play on Xbox One

Injustice 2 and Nascar Heat 5 are this week’s Free Play Day games on Xbox One.

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Xbox One Free Play Days - Injustice 2
704 Games / NetherRealm Studios / Thumbsticks

Injustice 2 and NASCAR Heat 5 are this week’s Free Play Day games on Xbox One.

NetherRealm Studios’ excellent superhero fighting game and 704Games roundabout racer are free to download and play on Xbox One until 11:59 pm PT on August 16, 2020.

Injustice 2 pits Batman against Superman in a one-on-one combat jamboree. It’s a well-liked game that balances an engaging story with improved fighting mechanics. NASCAR Heat 5 is the official game of the 2020 season, but – other than a roster update – it offers few improvements over last year’s entry.

As ever, all save progress and unlocked achievements carry over to purchased copies of either game. As luck would have it, there’s a crop of new discounts to encourage such a purchase.

It’s also worth remembering that The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited remains free to play on Xbox until August 19, 2020.

Xbox One Free Play Day Deals

Injustice 2

  • Standard Edition – 75% off
  • Ultimate Pack – 80% off

NASCAR Heat 5

  • Standard Edition – 20% off
  • Gold Edition – 20% off

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

  • Standard Edition – 50% off

For even more video game bargains, visit our dedicated sales and free games pages. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook.

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A Total War Saga: Troy, and three other games, are free on the Epic Games Store

A Total War Saga: Troy just launched today, but it’s already free on the Epic Games Store.

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A Total War Saga: Troy - Epic Games

A Total War Saga: Troy just launched today, but it’s already free on the Epic Games Store.

Creative Assembly’s brand new strategy game will begin retailing at $49.99 tomorrow. But, for now, you can grab the latest entry in the long-running series for free.

Reviews for the new Total War are strong, too. Not quite as strong as the reviews for last year’s game-changing Total War: Three Kingdoms,but, IGN and Eurogamer both recommend it.

All that said, A Total War Saga: Troy isn’t even technically one of this week’s free games. Remnant: From the Ashes and The Alto Collection are the titles currently highlighted in the store’s Free Games section.

Remnant is a 2019 third-person co-op shooter. Its punishing difficulty and tough bosses earned it comparisons to Dark Souls. But, its game feel is more akin to Gears of War.

The Alto Collection is also up for grabs, assembling mobile sand/snowboarding games, Alto’s Adventure (2015) and Alto’s Odyssey (2018).

But, for me, the most interesting free game is 3 Out of 10 EP 2: “Foundation 101.” This is the second episode in Terrible Posture Games’ five-part series. Unlike most episodic games, this one is releasing on a weekly basis, with plans to conclude by early September. I thought, the first episode, Welcome to Shovelworks did a pretty good job blending the game’s animated sitcom storytelling with short and varied interactive sections. I haven’t been blown away by the writing so far, but, hey, you can’t judge a show by its pilot.

With all these games up for grabs, Epic has unveiled next week’s freebies. Expect to get Enter the Gungeon (a free game for the second time) and God’s Trigger next Thursday. Plus, 3 Out of 10 will be back with its third episode.

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Get Quake II and Quake III free for a limited time

Following a successful charity drive, Bethesda is making FPS classics Quake II and Quake III free for a limited time.

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Following a successful charity drive, Bethesda is making FPS classics Quake II and Quake III free for a limited time.

Both games will be free to download from the Bethesda Game Launcher following an impressive fundraising effort from fans during the recent Quakecon at Home event. Over $30,000 was raised which will be distributed among good causes including Unicef, the Legal Defense Fund, The Trevor Project, and Direct Relief.

Quake II is available to download until 12:00pm ET on August 15, 2020. Quake III will unlock at 12:00pm ET on August 17, 2020.

Head over to the Bethesda Game Launcher to download Quake II and embark on Operation Alien Overlord.


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GDC 2021 date and format confirmed

Organisers of the annual Game Developers Conference have confirmed the dates for next year’s event, which will be a physical/virtual hybrid.

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GDC

Organisers of the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) have confirmed the dates for next year’s event, which will be a physical/virtual hybrid.

This year’s GDC was one of the first major video game events to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Some virtual talks were released in March as a short-term replacement, and last week’s digital-only GDC Summer streamed a larger programme of content to over 9700 virtual attendees.

GDC has confirmed that next year’s conference  – once again planned to be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco – will run from July 19-23, 2021, rather than in its usual spring window. The format will again be a mix of lectures, exhibits, and roundtables, but it will now include a full programme of digital content for virtual attendees. It’s a welcome, safety-first approach that will hopefully make more content accessible to a wider audience.

Additional virtual events are also planned in the coming year, beginning with a collection of virtual GDC Master Classes in late 2020. They will be day-long and multi-day virtual workshops examining specific aspects of video game development. Finally, a GDC Community Celebration will run from March 1-5, 2021. It will stream behind-the-scenes content on recent games, talks from industry luminaries, and various Q&A sessions.

The new format looks like a positive and overdue change for GDC that will hopefully benefit its organisers and the development community at large. In the meantime, readers interested in game development should check out the fascinating story behind Mixolumia.


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You can trace the development of indie game Mixolumia through a single Twitter thread

This Twitter thread charts the development of indie puzzle game Mixolumia. It’s a brilliant insight and you might just learn a thing or two.

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mixolumia development on twitter
davemakes

This Twitter thread charts the development of indie puzzle game Mixolumia. It’s a brilliant insight and you might just learn a thing or two.

“idk what this is yet but I had an idea,” wrote Dave Hoffman, AKA davemakes, on Twitter. As it turns out, “this” was a brilliant idea for a puzzle game.

The tweet was dated January 29, 2019, and marked the development of what would eventually become Mixolumia.

But back then, it was just a simple idea: What if a block-dropping puzzle game, like Tetris or Columns, took place on a grid that’s been rotated by 45 degrees?

It seems like such a simple idea, and it’s a wonder nobody has never thought of it before.

It’s not unusual for developers to tweet out early ideas to see if they attract any interest – just take a look at this Bugsnax tweet from 2014 – but what’s really interesting is that Hoffman continued working on this fragment of a game, from prototype to eventual release, all in this one Twitter thread.

That means every time they came up against a problem, or had a small breakthrough, or just made a tiny little tweak, it went in the thread. It also meant they got to ask questions of their followers and crowdsource design solutions for the game that would eventually become Mixolumia. Like what happens when you hit a corner, for instance, a problem that wouldn’t occur on a traditional vertical grid:

Which, a few days later, got refined further into this:

It’s interesting to trace the very public development of an indie game. Twitter may be lots of terrible, awful, no good things, but that sort of instantaneous insight? You’d struggle to get it any other way. It’s not all fun gifs and flashy effects, though:

From there, you can see the addition of a Patreon demo – which offered a boost to development – and the addition of a scoring system, pausing and an options menu, music from Hoffman and Josie Brechner, colour palette choices, particle effects, and plenty more. Even accessibility features and multiple game modes, including a chilled out relaxing mode, are covered.

And now, a year and a half later, Mixolumia is available to buy right now through indie storefront Itch.io. It features a 10% launch discount for a limited time and will set you back just $9. That’s a bargain, sure, but the insight into the process through the Twitter thread is priceless.


Don’t forget to follow Thumbsticks on Twitter for more gaming insights. Enjoyed this look at a quirky, indie development story? Support us on Patreon or buy us a coffee to enable more of it.

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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.


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