TheDominoKing is an artist on YouTube that has long been putting together domino creations related to pop-culture. His latest creation is dedicated to Donkey Kong, and it’s a spectacular homage to this famed video game mascot and the surrounding series.

“The Donkey Kong Country series as a whole are some of the best games I’ve ever played,” writes TheDominoKing in the video’s description. “And with DK Tropical Freeze for the Switch right around the corner, I thought it was time to make Donkey Kong in dominoes.

Six days and 24,949 dominoes later, he built an incredible tribute. Check out the video below to see for yourself.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more of TheDominoKing’s creations, check out these domino set-ups relating to Cuphead, Sonic, Yoshi, and Shovel Knight.

Bluepoint, the developer behind the recent Shadow of the Colossus remake, spoke with Digital Foundry (via EuroGamer) and disclosed that the team is working on a new remake. What makes this even more exciting is that it’s apparently even larger in scope that the work they did for Shadow of the Colossus.

After confirming a new project is in the works, Bluepoint president and co-owner Marco Thrush said, “This project served us as a great point of growing the art team to the point where we can take on a full triple-A game major scope of art content. So now our next step is, let’s improve the art pipeline, let’s improve the engine, let’s improve workflow for artists, let’s grow on the art side some more to handle our next project because it’s a bit bigger. And our next focus is, all right, let’s work on design and add new stuff to get to the next remake, because now that can be our sole focus of making sure that’s where we put the time and everybody else, they’re already at a level where we can perform.”

The studio is currently hiring, and has greatly expanded and grown since working on their previous project.

Technical director Peter Dalton told the Digital Foundry that, “With Shadow [of the Colossus], the studio most definitely grew in both number of people and skill level – and so we continue to grow and expand and look at areas of weakness. One area that we’ve not explored very deeply is, ‘What does our design prowess looks like? What is our ability to build something original and to expand it, rather than just upgrading something?’ and so we look at those things and we are constantly trying to enhance and strengthen the studio to get to a point where, yeah, doing original development or whatever comes our way, we’re fully capable of doing it.”

Though these details are certainly intriguing, Bluepoint didn’t reveal exactly what the project is or it would see release. For more on the Shadow of the Colossus remake, read our glowing review here.

[Source: EuroGamer]

 

Our Take
I absolutely adored the Shadow of the Colossus remake – it was true to the original, along with some much needed improvements. My hopes are high that this studio can tackle another ambitious project just as well. I’m excited to hear more details about what we can expect.

Black Panther released to theaters about a month ago, and already it has grossed over $1 billion worldwide at the box office. This makes it the fifth Marvel movie to reach that milestone, and the 33rd movie in general to do so.

The wildly successful film has earned over $530 million domestic, meaning that it will soon surpass Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($532 million domestically) and The Dark Knight ($534 million domestically), which will make it the seventh-biggest domestic grosser ever. Once it does surpass The Dark Knight, it’ll then be the second-biggest comic book superhero film in North America, with only The Avengers ($623 million domestically) behind it.

Black Panther also broke a record for selling more pre-sale tickets than any other Marvel film. For more movie-related news, read our geek guide to 2018 films by heading here.

[Source: Variety]

The first three Tomb Raider games, each of which released during the late ’90s, are receiving remasters on Steam. If you own the original DOS versions on Steam, you’ll be able to grab these remasters for free.

Realtech VR, a developer that previously ported Tomb Raider 1 and 2 on mobile, is behind these upcoming remasters. As such, the PC remasters will be based off the mobile versions, support OpenVR, and feature a new 3D engine. 

Realtech also announced that a Tomb Raider 3 mobile port is in the works, and will be showcased in early April before its release. Last year, the company showed off footage of the unreleased PC remasters on YouTube. You can view a couple of these videos below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The remastered releases of Tomb Raider 1, 2, and 3 don’t currently have a release window or price range (if you don’t own the originals), but should we find out, we’ll update this article. Late last year, Square Enix teased that a new Tomb Raider is on its way, and that we’ll hear more in 2018. A new Tomb Raider film is also releasing soon. You can read our feature about what the films got right and wrong about the series by heading here.

 

Our Take
I haven’t played Realtech VR’s mobile ports of the original Tomb Raider games, but they seem to have been well-received on the iOS App Store. Although the above videos don’t show massive graphical overhauls, it still looks like a worthy upgrade with crisper aesthetics.

Masses of people, similar to crowds you find in metropolitan subway stations, walk forever forward. They traverse through pristine, tile floored areas, where giant falling cubes may block their way. Sometimes other humans kill them. This is the premise of a trailer showing off Humanity, an upcoming game billed as a “crowd action game” by Japanese developer tha ltd.

It’s unclear exactly what the objective of the game is, but from the trailer, it looks like you attempt to guide massive crowds through different places. With an unsettling narrator talking about what it means to be human and the overall aesthetics, Humanity looks to be an unsettling but intriguing game.

Take a look for yourself at the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

No platforms have been announced yet, but Humanity is expected to hit sometime this year.

Evolution Champion Series (Evo) organizer Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar has reported a mass shooting threat made against the event to the FBI.

The threat was made earlier today on yungmushu_’s Twitch channel by user quackquackhonks during a stream. The message read “Mass shooting @ EVO18 see you there,” as posted by Twitter user Dankadillas.

After learning about the threat, Cullar notified the FBI and Twitch about the threat and plans to punish the offender “to the full extent of the law,” according to his Twitter.

With over 15,000 attendees every year, Evo is the biggest fighting game tournament in the world, making a mass shooting threat a serious concern. As of this writing, the account “quackquackhonks” is still active on Twitch.

 

Our Take
As with any kind of drive-by post like this, it’s hard to know whether this was some idiot trying to rile people up or a genuine threat. Either way, it’s good to see Cuellar take action quickly, and I hope the perpetrator faces consequences for their actions. This isn’t something you do as joke.

As part of its new Inside Xbox video series, Microsoft announced a number of updates coming to Xbox One later this spring, and Xbox Insider Alpha testers for the console can take these features for a spin right now.

First, Xbox One S and Xes will support displays with FreeSync, a TV and monitor technology that lets the monitor synchronize its refresh rate according to the game. This leads to less framerate stuttering and tearing. All Xbox Ones will also support Low Latency mode, a feature in some TVs coming later this year that will automatically remove post-processing effects some TVs use to make images look sharper when games are being played, reducing input latency while playing games, then restore them when you go back to watching TV or movies.

As previously teased by Xbox VP Mika Ybarra, the update also includes the ability to post videos and screenshots on Twitter. Players will also be able to share their controller with viewers while streaming on Mixer, Microsoft’s livestreaming platform. Viewers will be able to use a either an on-screen or physical controller to play a streamer’s game while watching on their PC.

Finally, Microsoft Edge will be getting a makeover to look more like it does on Windows 10. You’ll also be able to download photos and files onto your Xbox One. If you like an image you find online (and I’m sure there are plenty of those to choose from on the internet), you can set it as your background like a cool guy.

[Source: Xbox Wire]

 

Our Take
There are lots of images on the internet to choose from for your Xbox One background. Lots of them. Use this power responsibly.


Art Credit: Robbie Trevino.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to play and watch others play Artifact for a few hours at Valve’s HQ in Seattle. To learn how the game works both from a mechanical and financial perspective, head you can read my write-up here.

Before any of that, however, Gabe Newell gave a presentation about the company’s history, the purposes behind each of their games, and what they hope to do with Artifact. It’s an illuminating look at the company, and I recommend you watch it

Then I had the chance to sit down and chat with a few of the people behind the game, including Magic: The Gathering designers Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias, and ask them a few questions. Read for details about how the game will handle its economy, how Valve gauges success, communication, and balance, and how tournaments will be an integral part of Artifact.

Coming off of Gabe Newell’s talk about some of the stuff he wanted to introduce us with for Artifact, what left me most curious is about your business model with how the game wasn’t going to be free-to-play and that the market would be heavily involved. How much can you tell me about how you expect players to interact with the game financially? What is the buy-in, and how does the marketplace roll into that?

Brandon Reinhart: There will be packs that look a lot like you would expect. You can buy, sell, and exchange singles on the marketplace.

But to access the game…?

Eric Johnson: It will cost money to purchase the game also. We haven’t set a price yet.

When you buy that, will you get cards with that as well? Will it come with a set number of cards?

Jeep Barnett: If you buy the game, you’ll have the ability to play it. [laughs]


Art Credit: JiHun Lee.

So you’d buy the game and get a certain amount of cards. Is it up to players to go into the market place to buy new cards or will there be a standardized shop?

BR: We won’t sell cards directly. You go to the marketplace and buy them from other players. 

How do players go about buying new cards? Do they buy random packs? Where do the cards initially come from?

BR: Cards initially come from packs. We see pack opening as this opportunity for competitive play with draft-style modes, social pack opening – that kind of stuff.

I know Brad [Muir] didn’t want to use the word “trading” earlier, but is that something you’ll be able to do with other players? Say I just got this card I know my friend wanted. Would I be able to send that directly to them?

BR: At launch, we’re going to focus on the marketplace. What we do from there is unknown right now.

Richard, you were one of the big surprises over at Gabe’s talk about how you’re heavily involved in this. How did Valve approach you and talk about making this card game?

Richard Garfield: I approached Valve. When Magic came out in the 90s and then started making electronic versions of it, it was quickly apparent that because it hadn’t been designed for electronic play, it was not optimal. We spent a lot of time trying to solve the problems which Magic brought to the online world. But immediately, that said to me, what is the optimal game? If we designed a trading object game for online, what would it look like? I’ve been thinking about that design and working on various projects ever since then, and at one point I sent a document to Chris Green who I’ve worked with here at Valve on a couple things and he liked what I was laying down and the approach I was talking about. Skaff and I met with Valve and how we could work on this. That’s what got it going. 


Art Credit: Lake Hurwitz

One of the things that Gabe also mentioned was how you guys don’t have the traditional approach to success and failure with games. You don’t think about “What is the return on this?” When you guys sort of removed that from the equation, how do you guys measure how well something is doing? Do you measure your own progress with external metrics?

EJ: The answer is yes. We do everything. It’s a part of everyone’s job at the company to try and understand the state of the world with respect to their customer base. I actually think it’s a falsehood to think that just because you have access to all this data to generate a true picture of the state of the world – it became really fashionable over the last 5 to 10 years. And while that stuff is super useful, the amount of stuff that customers are buying is really important. Just as much of the picture is reading through how your customers are talking about your product. What are the things that they’re thinking about? It’s about trying to use as many different sources as possible to try and get in the heads of as many customers as possible. When we do The International for Dota, it has a bunch of great, non-obvious side effects to our company. One of those things is that we get to talk to a bunch of people that play Dota in-person and ask whatever questions we want. That’s actually super helpful for us in how we think about running that game, so I think the question you’re asking is so core to how we do our job. How do we understand the state of our customers? We use any piece of data we can possibly find.

JB: We watch all kinds of people play Artifact and it’s really exciting seeing them find a new combo or find a new idea they haven’t considered before like a new way to use a card. It’s super gratifying, and in terms of the health of the community with all the games we’ve worked on, it’s really exciting to see people talk about who would win in a fight: Tidehunter or Kunkka? Or what happens when you put a portal inside another portal? When people talk about those sorts of things on that level, that’s what I really view as a healthy community.

A lot of it has to do with recognizing those interactions as important, but also sort of balancing that with the idea of, you know, balance. So you see people do stuff with cards, or even with Dota, things you didn’t expect. What do you think is the line between keeping something cool in a game that you didn’t notice or this is something that might be an issue?

EJ: Is it cool or not? That’s usually the issue. Honestly, with Dota, just because it has more customers … I don’t know how it is with Magic.

JB: [Looking at Skaff and Richard] You two guys can talk about this a bunch more in terms of the meta of card games and how strategies rise. There’s a lot to say on that. How do you decide if something’s a bug or feature?

Skaff Elias: You just declare it a feature and move on. [laughs] You’re trying to give the customer as many options as possible. It takes a long time for the meta to settle down, and then hopefully by that time, you’ve injected more cards. It’s the idea of always having something for your community that keeps playing. And these games are so complicated that I think you’ve failed if you’ve anticipated every combination and every possibility because you’ve set your sights too low. You want to give the audience a true sense of exploration and they can tell if it’s a rich environment to find combinations, that’s a platform for them to innovate on, as opposed to something with few things to connect.

BR: This idea is so fundamental, it’s really where the Artifact comes from. The Artifact is this object that you search for and discover, that you solve a puzzle and you find it. It implies that discovery process.

One of the things Gabe said is that he wanted the game to be unsolvable. As someone who only recently got started with online card games, it always feels like you see a strategy evolve around an ideal deck. This is the ideal with deck, with a few permutations, this is what you should into battle with. How do you guys avoid that being the case?

JB: There’s a huge thing that mitigates that in Artifact. If I were to have someone play the game for a week with a tournament-ready deck versus someone with a random deck who has played it for a month, I bet my life on the guy with the random deck. A huge amount of skill comes from how you play those cards and how you react to your opponent and the cards your opponent plays.

SE: Also part of the general system design, if I know exactly what you’re playing and I know your deck, I can build a deck to beat it. As long as that’s true for every deck, there is no best deck. That is an extremely important part of the process.


Art Credit: Randy Vargas.

This is maybe more specific to Valve, when it comes to communication you say that you input a lot. One of the things I saw with Dota is that you’re planning to balance more regularly. Is that the same approach you’re taking to Artifact, in terms of having more regular updates? A lot of people describe Valve as a black box where you observe but don’t interject unless you absolutely need to. With Artifact, do you have plans to change that approach?

JB: We have a long history of partnering with our community and making sure we’re building the thing that best serves that community.

SE: Our intention is to update it primarily releasing new cards.

RG: It’s worth noting there that we will nerf and buff cards at an absolute minimum. We probably would never buff a card. 

SE: There’s never a reason to buff a card.

RG: The only reason to nerf a card is in the unlikely situation where everyone has to play this card or they’ll lose. We would rather let the metagame play out and if a card is a problem, it’s going to go away anyway.

So you plan to use that rotating format?

RG: Yes.

Another thing that Gabe mentioned is that the single player experience would be defined mostly by teaching. You play against an AI to learn the game. How extensive is that? Is it like here’s a bot, you can test whatever you want, or do you plan to have hey, here’s not only the rules of the game but here’s a few tips on how to deck build or other aspects of the game and strategizing?

JB: The community will do a lot of that for us. People will write guides and teach each other what they think is a good or interesting way to play.

With Dota, there’s a lot of that stuff in-game. Do you plan to implement that at some point, despite Artifact’s difference from Dota? Would there be some sort of reward for people writing guides?

JB: I actually hadn’t thought about this, but we have a really brilliant AI programmer. Watching the plays that the AI makes sometimes has given me interesting ideas about the heuristics that I should consider for a play. Maybe just watching that AI would help players learn something new.

RG: It’s worth pointing out that the AI is really quite good. When we say that there’s no campaign or no single player content to speak of and people will want to play against other people, we’re really underselling the AI. Playing AI against most board and card games, but this one you could play against the AI and have a lot of fun and learn a lot.


Art Credit: Kieran Yanner.

From a community standpoint, you said you’re planning on having a million dollar tournament, things like that. Where do you see yourselves building off of Dota? Is that sort of the start here? With Dota, it seemed to start off a little hands-off with tournaments and then tightening the grip a little bit. When you guys think of that, how much do you plan to emulate what you have now versus trying something new?

JB: [Looking at Eric] You can speak to this better because you’ve covered the tournament scene, but if you look at TF2, CS:GO, and Dota, they all handle the competitive scene differently. It’s about what fits the needs of the community and what they’re looking for.

EJ: It’s a game design exercise. The same people who designed the game or going to determine how tournaments are administered. I think the idea of the community having some interaction with the price pool is pretty interesting. You want to learn about the community, who the pros are and get things rolling to design the best possible tournament.

JB: We’ve also learned a lot from Richard and the staff who have participated in card tournaments for years. You should talk about the grass roots stuff a little bit.

SE: The plan for the tournaments is to not just focus on the top level, but there should be tournaments for all different levels of play. Magic does very similar things and that’s absolutely something we want to emulate. We don’t want to put on only a few elite tournaments a year where a few people play and everybody else watches.

Gabe did mention that there would be more regular tournaments within the game itself. Do you guys have a plan for players who do well in these in-game tournaments and getting them to the next level?

SE: Not just a plan, but too many plans. We still have to work on them, but yes, there are plans, but nothing is settled.

RG: It’s really exciting to play in tournaments and it’s a shame that only the top one percent of the one percent can really do it.

During a developer livestream, Beamdog (who have been enhancing and re-releasing various CRPGs like Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate, and Icewind Dale over the last few years) announced, among other things the release date for their enhanced edition of Neverwinter Nights: March 27.

Beamdog also announced they will continue to update and patch the game, and add new content and expand the modding toolset. Finally, the company mentioned that while it doesn’t have any plans to bring the game to Switch, the idea “is something that is appealing to us.”

[Source: Beamdog Games]

 

Our Take
I’m not a big CRPG guy so I don’t have plans for play Neverwinter enhanced or not, but I think if the question of a Switch version has been brought up enough that the developer needs to issue a statement on it, it should probably head to Switch. Here’s hoping.

After revealing the game’s date and price a few days ago, State of Decay developer Undead Labs has made another announcement fans should be excited to hear: The game will not have microtransactions.

The team mentioned the detail during a livestream discussing the first gameplay details shown off by IGN a few days ago. When asked about whether the game would have microtransactions, the developer said they have no plans to include them in the game. However, because the game is currently priced at $30, they did say they may have plans for paid expansions packs down the road.

While this isn’t the first time the company has made the statement (Undead Labs has previously stated they wouldn’t be doing microtransactions while responding to players on Reddit), the affirmation of it is good to see in light of the reduced price tag.

[Source: Undead Labs via COGConnected]

 

Our Take
Hopefully Undead Labs can support the game and its community with the reduced price tag and DLC-over-microtransactions model. It’s definitely something I’d like more games to do.