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Aeriolod Released

The creator of MagicaVoxel just released a new free interactive path renderer for heightmaps called AerioLOD.  It is a very early version, labeled 0.0.0 and available for 32 and 64bit Windows machines.

The very brief description from the homepage:

An interactive path tracing renderer for height maps.

  • support rendering height maps of size up to 16384^2.
  • support importing and exporting 8-bit and 16-bit png images.

Current release notes:

0.0.0 – 10/19/2019

You can check out AerioLOD in action in the video below.

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Dota 2 Update – October 18th, 2019

Matchmaking Update:
==
– Immortal players can now only party with Immortal or Divine players in Ranked.
– Immortal players will only ever be matched with other Immortal or Divine players in Ranked. This means, for example, that if there is a Divine player in a party with players below Divine, that divine player will as a result never end up in a match with other Immortal players.

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Unity Announce Price Increases

For the first time since moving to a subscription based pricing model, Unity Technologies have announced an increase in price for their Plus and Pro subscriptions.

Here are the current subscription costs:

image

Effective January 1, 2020 prices will rise to $40 a month for Plus and $150 a month for Pro subscriptions.

Some details from the Unity blog:

What’s changing and when?

Effective January 1, 2020 at 12:00 am UTC, the price for Unity Pro subscriptions will be USD $150/month and Unity Plus subscriptions will be USD $40/month. This pricing applies to new subscriptions, additional seats, and renewals of expiring custom agreements. Current seat subscriptions and current custom agreements are unaffected. If you wish to confirm this, please check your email or contact the Customer Service team.

Why are you raising the price of subscriptions?

The price has remained the same for over three years and we are making these increases in order to continue investing in new technology, features and services that will benefit all Unity creators.

Will there still be a free Unity version?

Yes. Unity Personal remains free to creators with revenue or funding (raised or self-funded) below USD $100K in the past year.

Subscriptions purchased before January 1st will remain at the current pricing, so if you are looking to subscribe, now is the time!

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Like… Magic: Arena? You’ll love these alternative CCGs

By Josh Brown 17 Oct 2019

Just a few short years ago almost every developer inside and out of mobile gaming was holding the idea of the CCG close, finding every which way to include ‘Card Battle’ elements into new IPs and sequels that made absolutely no sense. That RTS sequel? Have some cards. The latest iteration of your favorite shooter? Cards.

Developers have taken a step back recently, but the resurgence of Magic: The Gathering with its new MtG: Arena game has reignited the urge to pull packs and build decks. It hasn’t made its way to mobile just yet, though, so if you lack a PC capable of running the game or just need your CCG fix on the go, we’ve rounded up a bunch of popular big-brand CCG games you can play where and whenever the itch needs scratching.

Barring a few odd exceptions, All of the titles below can be played on both PC and mobile, with console being an option with some. Each takes certain cues from the Wizards of the Coast game that started it all, too. So while you’ll need to learn the ropes with each of these, if you can play the CCG that stumps Chess-besting artificial intelligence, you can probably pick up and play these without much issue.

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links (iOS and Android)

Konami has released a few different Yu-Gi-Oh games on mobile over the years, but Duel Links has proven to be the more resilient of the lot: and it’s multi-platform!

Released back in 2017, Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links condenses the classic card battler into short, snappy duels better suited to on-the-go play while preserving popular strategies seen in top tournament over the years. If you haven’t played Yu-Gi-Oh before, it’s less about managing resources and more about managing your monsters. Battling requires notably less mental arithmetic despite attack and defense numbers going well into the thousands, yet the core idea remains the same: whittle down your opponent’s life with direct attacks to win the game.

Spell and Trap cards help create synergistic strategies, and with thousands of cards to pull from its dozens of packs, there’s just as much thought to building a themed deck as you’ll find in Magic. It’s not quite the core Yu-Gi-Oh experience you’d find at your local card shop, but it keeps enough to not feel dumbed down for mobile play. It’s Yu-Gi-Oh, but faster, and fans of the still on-going anime show will find the overhanging story and periodic character releases as a reason to keep coming back.

If you prefer the high-fantasy style of Magic but enjoy a side-helping of anime, Shadowverse is really worth a look.

Created by the good folks over at Cygames – who are responsible for Nintendo’s Dragalia Lost and the ever-popular Granblue Fantasy, Shadowverse is like the love child of Hearthstone and Magic, mixing the mana management of Hearthstone with the more complicated battle systems of Magic. The gorgeous anime-inspired high-fantasy art-style adds a unique personality to the game that’s sure to appeal to a more specific type of player. And if you’ve ever played a Cygames title before, prepare to see characters cross over from their other titles for that added easter egg kick.

Like some of the other options here, Shadowverse has a rich lore and a single-player storyline to run through. The English dub doesn’t skimp out on the voice actors, either, with Cassandra Lee Morris (Persona 5‘s sleep-obsessed Morgana) taking the helm. It’s available on both mobile and PC, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to squeeze in some practice at home without draining your phone battery.

The longevity of ongoing support for Shadowverse comes into question with the recommendation. Mobile titles can close down at a moments notice. But if you’re at all interested in the premise, I can personally attest to Shadowverse being well worth your time. Maybe just think twice about dumping too much money into if I you notice a few too many run-ins with the same player. Though the recent announcement of an anime project might mean there’s still plenty of life in this one yet.

The Elder Scrolls Legends (iOS and Android)

Another case of a popular franchise jumping on the bandwagon. The Elder Scrolls Legends isn’t the most popular CCG on the market, but its reputation is that of a unique and intriguing card game that wasn’t just some ham-fisted attempt to cash in on the Elder Scrolls namesake.

If you’re one of the thousands of players still enthralled by Skyrim or happen to be balancing life around The Elder Scrolls Online, The Elder Scrolls Legends can keep you immersed in the world of Tamriel while you’re out and about. Its various expansion sets all bear an obvious likeness to ESO add-ons, too, so new and old players of the franchise are sure to get something out of its varied content.

You won’t be able to hop on over from another CCG and play like a champ from the get-go with this one. There are similarities – like the return of the ever-popular Mana system – but you’ll still have to play through the tutorial to understand the rest of the game board and how to position your cards.

Gwent (iOS) (October 29th)

Here’s one we weren’t expecting to add to the list. Despite more or less every other CCG tie-in making a point to release on mobile, CD Projekt Red’s attempts to tackle the genre extended to simply making a standalone version of the card game available in The Witcher 3. That changes toward the end of October when Gwent finally leaves its PC/Console confines to join the Apple ecosystem by landing on the iOS App Store.

Notice the lack of mention of Android? It’s true. Gwent is doing the unthinkable by launching exclusively on iOS. The original blog post (from March) does bring up Android as something that’s being worked on, but even seven months on, we’re still being told and Android release will “be announced at a later date”. If you’re here before the grand iOS release date, chances are you can still squeeze into the closed beta.

As Paul Tassi explained in a Forbes article a few years back, unlike the other games on this list, an understanding of something like Hearthstone doesn’t mean squat in Gwent. They couldn’t be more different. It’s a numbers game, with rounds as well as turns. There’s less card RNG in play and far more strategy. It’s about reading the room and outplaying your opponent, and about knowing when to hold back and when to go all-in.

Learning the basics is about as hard as learning its intricacies. It’s a complex game. If you like the fake-out meta of Poker, you’ll probably get a kick out of Gwent. And if you like The Witcher, you’re just looking at an extension of the tabletop game you probably sunk dozens of hours into across The Witcher 3.

Josh had a whole section here, but Hearthstone doesn’t need any further introduction. It’s the game that launched a thousands CCGs, and it differs from Magic in a few key fundamental ways that you probably already know about. 

Honorable Mention:

Pokemon TCG Online (iPad and Android Tablets)

If, like me, your first venture into the CCG/TCG space was with Pokemon, you might be surprised to hear that you can play a completely digital and 100% official version of the Pokemon TCG at home and on the go. This one predates the card-game boom of recent years, but for one reason or another, the only way it’s playable on the go (without a laptop) is with a tablet. They just never updated the game to really work on a small screen.

For the uninitiated, Pokemon TCG Online is quite unique in how it plays. Much like the traditional RPGs, you’re encouraged to focus on a small and varied selection of Pokemon. Resource management comes in the form of coloured “Energy” cards used to power each card’s multiple moves, with the aim of the game being to knock out enough of your opponent’s critters to claim the six “prize” cards taken from your deck at the start of each match. There’s quite a bit of RNG not only with luck of the draw, but also countless coin flips to decide how status affects like Paralysis and Sleep help or hinder your team.

Unlike the other entries on this list, the Pokemon Trading Card Game app extends into its physical version. Packs can be bought in-game, but each real-life booster pack and deck comes with a redeemable code to add that same purchase to the video game.

It’s a great tool for existing TCG players to practice their strategies online, but those without a nurtured interest in the physical game have plenty to gain here, too. Its visuals are overly childish and barely represent the franchise’s other entries, and there isn’t much single-player content to sink your teeth into. But if you’re looking to play the Pokemon TCG against other players without waltzing into your local hobby shop, it’s a good go-between.

—————–

In an earlier version of this article, Nick put forward his own list of credible Magic: The Gathering alternatives. Since the mobile CCG market has moved on a bit since then and Magic’s potential on mobile has shifted, we thought we’d re-do this article with a fresh perspective.

It’s not possible to keep all text, but if you’re interested in the games he recommened that were like Magic: The Gathering, here they are:

  • Card City Nights
  • Dream Quest
  • Lost Portal CCG
  • Five Card Quest
  • Treasure Hunter

Do you have any games you’d recommend to scratch that Magic itch? Let us know in the comments!

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Dota 2 Update – October 16th, 2019

– The match quality survey we mentioned in our recent blog post is now enabled. Let’s hear your feedback!

– On Friday we reverted the change that reduced the hard limit for MMR party spread in ranked matchmaking. We will be thinking about that change a little more and revisiting it when we are more confident in the change and the alternatives that exist. In the mean time we’ve added a UI indicator when large MMR spreads exist in parties to let players know that being in such parties will negatively impact match quality and queue times.

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RobocraftX Becoming Gamecraft–Free Until Oct 24th

RobocraftX by FreeJam is a game about creating games that is currently in early access on Steam.  In the upcoming release it is going to be rebranded to Gamecraft at which point it will become commercial software.  However if you add RobocraftX to your library before October 24th, it will remain yours forever for free.

Details from the Steam announcement:

On October 24th 2019 Our plan is to shift the game over to $5 Premium (i.e. pay up front) along with the brand name change.

ANYONE WHO ALREADY HAS A COPY OF THE GAME WILL KEEP THEIR COPY, FOR FREE, FOREVER.


ANYONE WHO HAS THE GAME IN THEIR STEAM LIBRARY BETWEEN NOW AND THE 24th WILL ALSO KEEP THEIR COPY, FOR FREE, FOREVER.
SO – TELL YOUR FRIENDS OR ANYONE YOU THINK MAY BE INTERESTED TO OWN THE GAME IN FUTURE, THAT RIGHT NOW IS THE LOWEST PRICE THE GAME WILL EVER BE (i.e. FREE!) AND TO GET IT NOW.


The Gamecraft Team

The upcoming release will also contain several new features, including the ability to share your creations, a move to Unity’s DOTS physics engine and additional logic controllers and bricks to play with. 

In the meanwhile you can check out some of the new features in the preview release on Steam.  You need to follow the following instructions (more details here or shown in the video below):

  • Open the Library tab on Steam
  • Right-Click on RobocraftX
  • Click on “Properties”
  • Click on the “Betas” tab
  • Enter the code “FreedomIsKey” and click on the “Check Code” button
  • Click on the dropdown and select the “Preview” branch
  • Give this a minute to download
  • Make sure the game appears as “RobocraftX [preview]” in the Library
  • Click Play and enjoy!
  • You can learn more about Robocraft/Gamecraft in the video below.  Another very similar experience is GameBuilder that we covered in this video earlier in the year.

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    Bad North is now available on iOS and Android

    As it’s likely there may not be a Friday update this week due to me being away, just thought I’d let you know about one game that’s just dropped onto mobile – Bad North. We were given the heads up about this a couple of weeks ago and I’m glad it’s finally here.

    Just in case you’re still not in the know, Bad North is a ‘micro’ real-time strategy game where you control a small group of units that have to defend various islands from waves of Viking invaders. The islands vary in size and topography, and as you progress through the campaign you can get access to more/different units, upgrade your existing ones and even find loot to help you in your fight.

    It’s a game that’s mainly about planning and making sure you have the right counters in play, but there’s a permanence to the choices you make. If you sacrifice that one unit to buy yourself some extra seconds, that unit is gone. Damage units take will need time to heal as well. Publisher Raw Fury are celebrating the mobile launch with this new, and slightly bizarre, trailer:

    Bad North is available on both iOS Universal and Android for $4.99/£4.59. If you’re wondering what the ‘Jotunn Edition’ tag means, that’s just the name of the free content update they put out on the PC version a couple of months ago which added a bunch of new things for players to enjoy. It’s considered the ‘definitive’ edition of the game, although that’s not to see there won’t be further updates. We’ll have to see.

    We’ll be working on a dedicated PT review as soon as we can, but in the meantime you can always read our sister site’s thoughts. I’ve played it myself and I can definitely say it’s good, and the niggles we had a launch have long-since been ironed out. It still might not be everyone’s cup of tea – this is a very simplistic strategy game at the end of the day, but you’re still required to make tough choices, sometimes on the spot. Still, pending our full review it still gets my personal recommendation, for whatever that’s worse.

    Let us know if you end up picking up the game, and what you think of it.

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    League of Legends celebrates ten years by announcing all of the things

    By Joe Robinson 16 Oct 2019

    Fun fact – before taking over stewardship of Pocket Tactics et al, I did a brief stint in PR (I was a deputy editor at another website before that so this was a bit of an experiment), and that company had Riot Games as a client. I helped out at eSports events (which are fascinating, by the way) and then mainly did a bunch of grunt-work since I was a junior executive.

    I’d never really tried to fully appreciate MOBAs before that job, but working for a company like that meant I had to give it a serious shot. It was ok – I definitely appreciated the team-play. I play a lot of Rainbow Six Siege in my personal-time these days so I appreciate it even more in hindsight.

    Riot Games has never really been a known entity in the mobile world, at least in the West. There’s that League of Legends mobile variant out in China via Tencent, but so far the MOBA studio have stuck to what they know, which is PC. Now, as they celebrate the 10th Anniversary of League of Legends, that’s all about to change.

    Riot made a range of announcements last night about their plans for LoL and other projects, and we’re excited to report that a couple are coming our way. Let’s take it from the top:

    Teamfight Tactics Mobile

    If you’ve been following the Auto Chess craze, you might have heard of Teamfight Tactics. It was basically Riot’s own take on the format and is the third big ‘player’ in the Auto Chess/Underlords/TFF trifecta. Unlike the other two, it wasn’t on mobile and existed within the main League client as an alternative game-mode.

    It’s due to release on mobile in Q1 2020. Pre-registration on Google Play is open from today.

    In addition to that, a new set of champions is going to be released to the PC version themed around the elements, called Rise of the Elements.

    Legends of Runeterra Card Game

    They say the best strategy is to wait until all your opponents have weakened themselves by fighting each other, and then pounce when no-one can put up any kind of resistance. At least, I hope they say that, because it’s the only reason I can think of as to why Riot would announce their own free-to-play strategy card game this late in the day. I would have thought that genre had played itself out.

    Still, while Hearthstone remains the champion, the competitive CCG scene has been ripe for a new leader for a while now and, well, Valve failed hilariously with their own attempt. Riot have plenty of lessons to learn from at least. The press blurb for Legends of Runeterra is a little vague, but this seemed to be the most important part:

    LoR’s gameplay is built around dynamic, alternating combat that demands players use their skill, creativity, and cleverness to succeed. LoR offers players multiple options to acquire cards, including both robust free-to-play options and the ability to directly purchase any card with either earned or paid currency.

    It’s due to come to PC and Mobile in 2020, but you can pre-register now.

    League of Legends: Wild Rift

    Not content with their experiment with Tencent, Riot has now announced a bespoke mobile and console version of League of Legends known as Wild Rift. It’s still 5v5, and it’s still a MOBA, but it’s main innovation is a twin-stick control scheme, and matches generally designed to last no-more than 20 minutes.

    Wild Rift will launch on mobile in 2020, and pre-registration on the Google Play Store is available now.

    And that’s it as far as known mobile projects go. Riot seem to be working on plenty of other new things as well, from an Overwatch-style competitive shooter, to a fighting game, even some kind of eSports team management game? But none of those have even been hinted at coming to mobile, so we won’t spend too much time on them here.

    So, what do you think? Are you excited for any of the above? Let us know in the comments!

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    Material Maker 0.6 Released

    Material Maker is a free and open source MIT licensed procedural texture generation tool built using (and that can run within) the Godot game engine.  Material Maker 0.6 was just released.

    Details of the 0.6 release from the Itch.io news page:

    • Material Maker is now a lot more generic and nearly all generators are based on GLSL shaders that can be edited. To test this feature, just drag one from the library to the graph editor, selected the newly created node and hit Ctrl+F. The node becomes editable, and hitting the pencil button will show the shader editor that can be used to define the node’s parameters, inputs, outputs, and GLSL functions that will be used to generate textures. For now it lacks diagnostic tools, so you’d better start with  code you already tested (in shadertoy for example). Since images described in GLSL are math functions, all those generators are resolution independent.
    • It is now possible to create a group of interconnected generators using Ctrl+G. This will create a new node that contains the previously selected ones, while keeping all connectivity with other nodes of the graph. To edit the new subgraph, click on the pencil button of the newly created node ; and to get back to the parent graph, use the Up button in the top left corner of the view. If a Remote node was selected, it will be used to define the new node’s parameters.
    • All nodes now have embedded previews. Just click on the closed eye left of each node output to open it.
    • The 3d preview can now be moved manually, and the “O” button in its top right corner will show the preview as background of the graph view.
    • the library pane now has icons for many generators and a filter.
    • There are quite a few new generators: truchet, weave, runes, mirror and kaleidoscope.

    The source code for Material Maker is hosted on GitHub, although the 0.6 code doesn’t seem to have been made an official release yet.  Material Maker can also be downloaded from within the Godot Engine, in which case it will directly create a Spatial Material ready for use in your Godot game.  The standalone release instead exports a series of PNG textures for use in whatever engine or application you wish to use.

    You can learn more about Material Maker in the video below.

    GameDev News