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Tired of waiting until Valve announces Half-Life 3?

Why not reacquaint yourself with Half-Life and Half-Life 2 while you wait? Some community-created mods might just surprise you…

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Half-Life G Man

Why not reacquaint yourself with Half-Life and Half-Life 2 while you wait? Some community-created mods might just surprise you…

Nobody knows for certain that Valve are working on Half-Life 3. Nobody knows that they aren’t either though, and while the not knowing is by far the worst part, it’s this tantalising uncertainty that keeps the gaming community hooked.

Gamers are no strangers to waiting – it feels our patience is tested at every turn – but fans of the Freeman find themselves waiting a very long time indeed. With six years between the original Half-Life in 1998 and its sequel in 2004, with its last episodic release Half-Life 2: Episode 2 dropping in 2007 (we’re still smarting about Episode 3 being MIA by the way, Gabe) we’re now up to eight years without any new Half-Life to play, or even any news of a Half-Life 3 release date to speak of.

We’re willing to wager that Valve announces Half-Life 3 at some point over the next few years, when Steam Machines are prevalent and their haptic controllers are de rigeur, though we wouldn’t exactly bet our house on it; in the meantime how do we get our Freeman fix?

Black Mesa is a great place to start. A fan-made re-imagining of the original Half-Life built in Half-Life 2’s vastly superior Source engine, Black Mesa is both a wonderful stroll down memory lane for experienced crowbar wielders and a great re-introduction to the series. You can download Black Mesa from the developer’s site directly but remarkably, it has also been Greenlit for release on Steam and Valve are not being at all pissy about their IP being used. That’s refreshing!

It’s not quite finished yet and is missing the later levels of Xen, but nobody really minds that – the real-world beginnings were always more enjoyable than the off-world ending anyway – so take a look at their official trailer, and do try to contain your excitement:

When you’re done with Black Mesa, why not fire up Half-Life 2, re-imagined with a whole new set of textures, lighting and shaders? Half-Life 2: Update is available on Steam right now and does some truly wonderful things to the look and feel of a title that’s unfortunately starting to show the effects of its eleven years. Here’s the official comparison trailer between the original and the update, to show off all those gorgeous tweaks:

And if you fancy some brand new Freeman action, and have given up waiting for Episode 3 to ever surface, then you should definitely look into Transmissions: Element 120. Set after the events of Half-Life 2: Episode, Transmissions features all the intricate puzzling and crowbar mayhem we come to expect from a Half-Life title proper, but wraps it up into a genuinely freaky mystery. Oh, and did we mention that it contains a modified Gravity Gun that allows you to rocket-jump like freaking Quake? It’s no surprise that a mod this impressive was in development for two years, and that its creator Shokunin landed a job interview at Gearbox as a result.

Massive thanks to Kotaku for the tip on this one – we love it!

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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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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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Control Ultimate Edition is less free next-gen upgrade, more next-gen pre-order

You might want to check the fine print on Control’s “free next-gen upgrade” offer.

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Control Ultimate Edition

You might want to check the fine print on Control’s “free next-gen upgrade” offer.

Developer Remedy Entertainment and publisher 505 Games have today announced Control Ultimate Edition. As you might expect, it includes the base game and both of its DLC, The Foundation and the yet-to-be-released, Alan Wake-themed AWE. It also brings the game, previously an Epic exclusive on PC, to the Steam store for the first time.

So far, so standard. But we’re just around the corner from the next generation of consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. That means publishers are falling over themselves to offer free next-gen upgrades to players who buy games like Marvel’s Avengers or Cyberpunk 2077, to try and prevent fans holding off on purchases at the tail-end of the current generation.

It’s unsurprising, then, that Remedy is offering a “free next-gen upgrade” on the Control Ultimate Edition. But what about players who have already bought Control? Ah. Well. This is awkward. We’ll defer to the official post on the Control website to answer that:

Will Control Ultimate Edition give me access to Control on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5?
We will offer a free next-gen digital upgrade for those who buy Control Ultimate Edition on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. For more information on eligibility, stay tuned to our website and community channels.

What if I purchased the original version of Control previously?
The free upgrade path to Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 version of Control is only available for Control Ultimate Edition.

The “free upgrade” is only for players who buy the Control Ultimate Edition on PS4 or Xbox One. Anyone who already owns the base version of the game won’t receive the upgrade.

So in a sense, this is less of a “free next-gen upgrade” on Control – which should include players that already own the game – and more of a next-gen pre-order. Pre-order a copy of Control Ultimate Edition for PS5 or Xbox Series X and you’ll receive a free version to play on current-gen consoles right now.

Still not a terrible deal, obviously, but it’s a bit of a sore point for players who already bought and supported the game.

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This week’s Nintendo Switch releases (August 10-15, 2020)

Here’s the full rundown on this week’s lineup of new Nintendo Switch eshop releases.

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New Nintendo Switch eShop releases
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Here’s the full rundown on this week’s crop of new Nintendo Switch eShop releases.

The Alto Collection is our pick from this week’s lineup of new Nintendo eShop games. The collection brings together two snow (and sand) boarding games – Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey – that were greeted with wide acclaim on mobile. Don’t let the smartphone roots put you off, these are magical, blissful games that shouldn’t be missed.

Faeria, the turn-based digital card game from Abrakam, also lands on Switch this week. The game has a well designed hex-based battle system, over 100 hours of single-player content, and a generous amount of co-op missions.

Other new Nintendo Switch releases include the romantic visual novel Big Dipper, top-down shooter Zero Strain, and the time-bending twin-stick shooter, The Ambassador: Fractured Timelines.

We’ll update this page with any changes throughout the week. In the meantime, here is the current lineup of new Nintendo eShop releases.

New Nintendo Switch releases: August 10-15, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

  • Twist & Bounce

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

  • Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Infinite Combate (NA)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

  • Banner of the Maid
  • Metamorphosis
  • Volta-X
  • Escape From Tethys

Thursday, August 13, 2020

  • The Alto Collection
  • Collar X Malice -Unlimited-
  • Boomerang Fu
  • Bite The Bullet
  • Faeria
  • The Ambassador: Fractured Timelines
  • Double Kick Heroes
  • Darkestville Castle
  • Big Dipper
  • Pro Pool Gold
  • Devious Dungeon Collection
  • We Are Doomed
  • Zero Strain

Friday, August 14, 2020

  • Deliver Us The Moon
  • Shaolin vs Wutang
  • Linn: Path of Orchards
  • Prehistoric Dude

Saturday, August 15, 2020

  • Regina & Mac

You can also catch up with the week’s new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One releases.


More video games from Thumbsticks

Bookmark our new releases page for regular Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 updates. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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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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Xbox Series X confirmed to launch this November

Xbox Series X will launch in November, Microsoft says, despite Halo Infinite delay.

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Xbox Series X release date November 2020
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Xbox Series X will launch in November, Microsoft says, despite Halo Infinite delay.

Halo Infinite is no longer coming this holiday season. But, Microsoft insists, the Xbox Series X still is.

In a post on Xbox Wire, editor-in-chief Will Tuttle announced that the console will arrive this November. That’s as specific as Microsoft has been willing to get so far (while still being pretty vague).

“We have plenty to keep you busy until Chief arrives: There will be thousands of games to play, spanning four generations, when Xbox Series X launches globally this November and over 100 optimized for Xbox Series X titles, built to take full advantage of our most powerful console, are planned for this year,” writes Tuttle.

“And with brand new console features like hardware-accelerated Direct X raytracing, framerates up to 120 frames per second, faster loading times, and Quick Resume for multiple games, playing will look and feel better, no matter which games you choose to play on day one.”

During last month’s Xbox Games Showcase, each trailer ended with the promise that the game would be available on Xbox Game Pass. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that Xbox is invested in selling subscriptions to the streaming service, at least as much as the company is invested in continuing to sell consoles and its flagship games.

Now, with its biggest launch game delayed, Microsoft is relying even more on Game Pass’ impressive catalog. The Xbox Wire post emphasizes Xbox’s massive library, citing Game Pass and the wealth of Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games available through backwards compatibility.

Microsoft no longer has a system seller for this fall. We’ll see if that even matters anymore.

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Halo Infinite delayed into 2021

Halo Infinite, Microsoft’s flagship title for the launch of the Xbox Series X, has been delayed into next year.

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Halo Infinite Delayed
343 Industries

Halo Infinite, Microsoft’s flagship title for the launch of the Xbox Series X, has been delayed into next year.

Look, after the Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 delay, nothing can hurt me. But, that doesn’t mean Halo fans the world over aren’t bummed that they won’t have a new crop of Covenant to shoot their way through this holiday season.

Microsoft made the announcement on Twitter, via the official Halo account.

Halo Infinite Delayed to 2021

“We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure that the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo experience that meets our vision,” wrote 343 Industries studio head, Chris Lee.

“The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday… The extra time will let us finish the critical work necessary to deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever at the quality we know our fans expect.”

343’s Halo History

Halo Infinite is the third original Halo game from 343. Halo 4 and Halo 5 disappointed many longtime series fans. As a result, there’s a lot riding on the success of Halo Infinite.

But, when Microsoft showed off extensive gameplay for the first time last month, the game’s graphics were mocked and memed on the Internet. Halo Infinite just didn’t look like what fans expected from a next-generation Halo game.

In part, that’s because Halo Infinite isn’t a next-generation Halo game. Microsoft has committed to launching first-party titles on the upcoming Series X and the aging Xbox One. Halo Infinite has the unenviable task of running on this-gen hardware while looking like a next-gen game.

Hopefully, with the extra time, 343 can deliver a game that feels like an evolutionary leap. And hopefully they can also maintain their mental and physical health in the process.

Enjoyed this article?

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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