Hats are brilliant. I primarily use them to disguise my massive fivehead, for instance, but hats can also bless their wearers with amazing powers. At least they can in A Hat in Time [official site], Gears for Breakfast’s crowdfunded N64-style collectathon platformer. Hats that blow stuff up, hats that let you gaze into other dimensions — is there anything they can’t do? A Hat in Time is out now.
In A Hat in Time, you’ll control Hat Kid, a wee spacefaring girl whose journey comes to an unplanned stop when her fuel gets scattered across a planet. Gathering up all of that fuel again will require some hat magic, of course, as well as a liberal dose of climbing, clambering and jumping around.
The quest for fuel will send Hat Kid through seven areas, each with their own neat hooks. On the Owl Express, for example, Hat Kid will need to interrogate her fellow passengers to solve a murder, much like a tiny Poirot in a top hat. In another area, she becomes a band marshall. And in another, she’ll need to sneak through a studio run by birds.
During the Kickstarter, Gear for Breakfast added a co-op stretch goal, which was surpassed, and in June last year announced that the game would launch with co-op. Unfortunately, it hasn’t. According to the developer, it will be added in a post-release update. It has launched with full modding support, however, which is a nice surprise.
Here’s what you’ll be able to mod:
-Full level editor
-Full script access
-Full Steam Workshop support
-Add a hat
-Add two hats
-Add a lot of hats
-Add new chapters
-Add new enemies
-Make a game inside a game
-Make a game inside a game, that is inside a game
So pretty much everything.
A Hat in Time was one of the first seven games in Humble’s publishing portfolio in February as it launched its plan to be more than just a shop. It’s available now from GOG, the Humble Store, and Steam for £22.99/€27.99/$29.99.
We are very proud to announce that the Albion Online live server is online and running, and the first Legendary adventurers have already arrived at the shores of the starter islands. As Albion Online is now officially released, everyone starts with a clean slate and history is ready to be written! What will your story be?
Start Your Adventure!
Legendary Founders and Legendary Starters can start playing right now!
Epic Founders and Epic Starters can start playing on July 18th, at 13:00 UTC.
Veteran Founders and Veteran Starters can join them on July 19th, at 13:00 UTC.
Are your fingers itching to start exploring? Download Albion Online and make sure you have your hands on one of the different packs.
Craft. Trade. Conquer!
Write your own story in the massive open world of Albion, a sandbox MMORPG where you get to decide who you are. No need to pick a class, your equipment determines who you are! Switching from knight to magician is as easy as swapping your armor and weapon.
Explore a vast, open world, consisting of different unique biomes, where everything you do has an impact. Take part in the player-driven economy, where every piece of equipment is crafted by players from resources gathered by players.
More of a fighting type? Venture out into the world or into dungeons and face Albion’s inhabitants and wildlife, or fight other adventurers in open world clashes and tactical group battles for territory control.
Relax by retreating to your personal island. Build a home. Grow crops. Raise animals. Leave your mark in the world. In Albion, everybody matters!
I wrote about isometric action-RPG Immortal Planet [official site] two months ago when a release date was announced: based on early gameplay footage I liked what I saw, but I wasn’t sure about the combat, which looked repetitive. Well it’s just come out for real now, and the launch trailer suggests the swordplay might be more varied than I first thought.
It’s a ‘Souls-like’ (drink) game based on slow-paced melee combat. You’re not going to rush in whirling your sword around your head and hope for the best: you have to dodge and block enemy attacks and manage your rapidly-depleting stamina bar, as well as strike when enemies are tired. I like the aesthetic, and it’s from the creator of turn-based stealth hack-and-slash Ronin, which was rather good.
The new trailer is below. It looks like there’s actually a good range of attacks and dodges to use, as well as lots of different weapons (there’s a sword that transforms into a trident at 00:31):
Each level has a single checkpoint, so you drop in and start exploring. If you die, you go back to the start and lose experience, but you can pick that experience back up at the spot you died. There’s “multi-stage struggles” with bosses at the end of the level, too, and lots of options for character customisation.
Here’s a little more on the combat, which seems to be the standout bit:
“Patience and focus are much more important than reflexes. Block, dodge and tackle enemies while managing your stamina. You can see enemy stamina and exploit it to stun them when they are exhausted.”
If that more cautious approach tickles your fancy, it’s on Steam and GOG for £9.89/13,49€/$13.49, which includes a 10% discount until Thursday.
Ahead of the launch of Splatoon 2 this Friday for the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Switch Online [Free] companion app is now live. It’s a super quick download, and seems to seamlessly link to your Nintendo account… But (as of this writing) it doesn’t seem to do a whole lot yet. I can sort of link my account, then it tells me the service is down for maintenance.
Regardless, if you want to get ahead of the game, you can go ahead and grab it right now. Once the service is fully functional you’ll be able to use the app to do voice chat with Nintendo friends as well as use the various social networks to find and invite people into your game. I’m still not super sold that it’s a better solution to having a full-featured dashboard for the Switch like the Xbox and PlayStation have, but, eh, we’ll see how it works in practice.
Subscribe to the TouchArcade YouTube channel
Anyway, I’ll be rapidly switching back and forth between being a kid and a squid later this week, and I’m super curious how the app voice chat is going to be any better than just using Discord.
Compete’s video team headed to the University of Utah to check out their varsity esports program, which began as a League of Legends fan club that grew into the student-run organization Crimson Gaming, which helped pave the way for the school’s official scholarship program for budding pro gamers. (UPDATE: 5:00 pm- This paragraph has been updated to clarify Crimson Gaming’s beginnings.)
The University of Utah is part of the Pac-12 conference, and according to Robert Kessler, executive director of the school’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering program, the Pac-12 has “been talking about the idea of having a conference-wide league for esports. But it hasn’t been able to get everybody to agree to all the details. So we decided … we might as well jump into this.”
Compete also spoke to Angie Klingsieck, the Executive Director of Crimson Gaming, as well as Crimson Gaming’s Competitive Director Jordan Runyan, about the student-run organization’s growth over the past few years. The school’s devotion to League of Legends caught the attention of Riot Games as well as University of Utah’s administration. According to A.J. Dimick, the director of operations for University of Utah Esports, the “grassroots movement of these students” led to the eventual foundation of the school’s program, which they hope will inspire similar programs at other schools.
This is the latest episode in our new season of Compete videos. Last week’s video profiled the Southern California fighting games scene, and our debut Compete video profiled medical experts who keep esports pros healthy.
VIDEO CREDITS: Executive Producer Fritzie Andrade
Senior Producer Anastasia Weeks
Producer Zoe Stahl
Associate Producer John Dargan
Shooter Mitch Blummer
Editor Anders Kapur
Graphics Devin Clark
Writers Maddy Myers Eric Van Allen
Additional Consultation from Editor-In-Chiefs Stephen Totilo Tim Marchman
Event footage and photography courtesy of Han Yang Crimson Gaming
Competitive League of Legends has grown past just the five-player line-up. Coaching staff and more people in charge of training, guiding, and managing players are becoming necessary for a successful team eyeing a spot at the top of the League Championship Series.
Or so says the coaching staff for the Immortals, who spoke to me over Skype about their process, structure, goals, and ambitions as one of the largest support structures in the North American LCS. We reached out to them after a commenter inquired in April about what a coach for an esports team actually does. In most ways, the dynamic between players and coaches isn’t unlike what you’d see with traditional sports teams—just maybe with a little extra life management.
Immortals’ League of Legends team has seven players: five starters, two subs. Its coaching staff is composed of five members, including head coach Kim Sang-Su (known as SSONG), team manager Jun Kang, coach Robert Yip, head analyst Brendan Schilling, and analyst Nick Luft. It’s a stark contrast to the early days of League and even modern esports teams in other games like Dota 2, which can often get by with a single coach-slash-manager or less.
A day in Kim’s life usually goes something like this: The head coach wakes up and, during the weekday, manages the team’s scrims. One set of scrims, break to rest and eat, then back to scrims. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s focused training for the Immortals squad, and after that, Kim sits down at his computer to watch matches and study strategies, from North America to Korea.
Kim’s focus tends to be on building teamwork and achieving milestones. He’s working with five different players who operate at the top of their game in each role—the trick isn’t always getting them to play better individually, but together.
“I treat it as, the five different players and five different positions, I compare it to a real-life job,” said Kim. “It’s having different occupations—top, jungle, mid—they’re all experts in their own lane. Since this is a team game and they don’t have the knowledge of the other lanes or other occupations, I try to meld them together into a team.”
The head coach also diffuses arguments and helps to mediate discussion, but big picture strategy is often Kim’s purview. Identifying mistakes, reinforcing good habits, and checking off mile-markers for improvement makes up a good portion of Kim’s role in the team. Still, he tries to keep things lighthearted.
“My ultimate goal is that since we’re pro players and professionals, that we treat daily scrims and practice seriously as professionals,” said Kim. “Then when that day is over, that we just enjoy what we’re doing instead of being stressed all day.”
Robert Yip, another coach on the team, came into the League of Legends scene in 2012, at a time when most coaches were former pros, recycling the talent pool.
“You would hire people that had really good base knowledge because they were former pros, and they would work with the up-and-coming pros,” said Yip. “Normally there wouldn’t be a lot of new faces or new ideas in the scene. Slowly but surely, people are incorporating people from outside esports because they bring a different perspective or skillset.”
Former esports player and team manager Jun echoes this sentiment of growth in the scene. “When I played, I didn’t have a coach,” said Jun. “We were just five players. Having someone to talk to about strategy, getting feedback about what I think and asking them, learning about their experience when they were a player, is very valuable.”
While many modern coaches are still former pros or high-level players, like Kim and Jun, support staff membership has been expanding to those with different schools of thought. People with sports backgrounds, physiotherapy or athletic training, are becoming advantageous in a league system that resembles modern sports structures more every day.
This manifests in the larger support staffs for teams like Immortals, where Yip’s role is performance coach, a new trend in esports. Unlike Jun or Kim, Yip hails from a sports coaching background. Strength and conditioning, sports psychology and health are his fortes, and Yip’s focus is to make sure the team is exercising, sleeping and eating well, and staying emotionally sound.
“The [performance coach] works with the team or group to make sure people are physically, mentally, emotionally stable and strong enough to compete in a high-pressure environment,” said Yip. “It’s something that a lot of teams should look into getting. It’s something that a lot of the better teams have, and have had someone working with them consistently, and they’re seeing the benefits of that these days.”
Like physical therapists Matt Hwu and Cait McGee, Yip works with players on posture, stretching and fitness to make sure they don’t incur any injuries that might inhibit their performance. There’s not a lot of physicality involved in esports, as Yip mentions, so players spend time doing core exercises and wrist stretches so they don’t succumb to injuries.
“What’s key is to make sure they have a long career so that they can play for a lot longer,” said Yip. “They can reap the benefits of their skills and it sets them up for the future if they want to go into coaching or college, or anything like that.”
Jun’s role as team manager tends to be twofold: One part is handling the logistics of the team itself. From mediating arguments and overseeing the team’s scrim schedule to waking them up in time for practice, Jun handles the day-to-day of Immortals. “I’m basically the dad,” Jun tells me. His other role is being a bilingual go-between for the players. Head coach Kim is from South Korea, and Immortals’ players hail from South Korea, China, America, and the Philippines. Though English is a common enough through-line, Jun often handles translation for Kim during team meetings and interviews, including our own. Though his duties have become more focused on play than the day-to-day logistics in the last year (the team has hired a cook, which Jun was happy about), it was clear Jun was the Cliff Gardner to Immortals’ organization.
All these moving pieces, from strategy discussion and scrimmaging to physical well-being and teamwork discussion, culminates every weekend in the week’s LCS matches. It’s at this point that the coaches have to let the players fly—unlike football, basketball, or even games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, coaches are only able to talk to the team during their draft and for one minute after the draft has concluded. The rest is up to the five players, led by their in-game shot-caller.
“We just try to talk to them about the big picture, how they should be playing out the game as a whole,” said Kim. “We can’t really micromanage small things because the game is volatile, it changes every minute, so they have to figure out what they have to do in certain situations on their own.”
At that point, Kim and the others can review what happened and reinforce better ideas, starting with basic concepts. One that came up was improving communications, a general concept but one critical to a game where operating as a whole unit rather than five individual players tends to make the difference in late-game fights.
“We try to isolate, what are the roles and responsibilities of each person on the team,” said Yip. “What can they be held accountable for? And with all the coaches and analysts we have, we keep track of all the players and qualitatively map out what they say versus what they should be saying, trying to make their communication more effective.”
As franchising looms on the horizon, the coaches had different opinions of what it would mean for their roles. Kim believed it would put more pressure on players and coaches to perform, as you’re now a permanent representation of a brand. Yip sees teams taking more chances, bringing in more coaching staff like himself that can focus on minutiae or out-of-play concerns. Positional coaching, having a literal mid-lane coach or bot-lane coach, was brought up. It’s an asset some teams already utilize, similar to a quarterback coach. But even greater, organizational assets become possible as established brands can bring on performance coaches to not just work with their League team but their Overwatch, Counter-Strike, and fighting game players as well—a rising-tide of support staff.
Where the former days of League had team houses encountering health concerns and fire hazards, a growing coaching staff scene is raising the bar for competition, allowing players to focus on the game with expert support. As that grows, cultures and processes can emerge for teams, building eras and dynasties rather than just brands.
“Players and coaches will start looking at the unique selling points teams have,” said Yip. “And say, ‘This is the team I want to play for.’”
Coaching around the world
Then And Now: Talking To Retired Pro Gamers About The Rise Of Esports
Street Fighter Player Turns To The Book Of Daigo After Loss
Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch saw a significant update on the Public Test Realm server lately that introduced a highly requested feature – the ability to save and export Highlights.
The new Highlights system allows you to keep any highlights for 24 hours and they remain even if you exit the game. Along with the top five highlights of a game, players can also record their own highlights in the middle of a match. If you want to keep the highlights permanently, it’s possible to download them on to your system, tinkering with the resolution, quality and frame rate to improve the final video.
But perhaps the more significant change is that to the Loot Boxes. Duplicates gained in Loot Boxes will be reduced significantly and to compensate for Credits that you’d otherwise get from dupes, the amount of currency earned will also increase. This should assuage many complaints about the Loot Box system, especially in light of the Anniversary Event.
What are your thoughts on these changes? Let us know in the comments.
It’s tough to determine a “winner of E3” this year. One could easily say that Microsoft stole the show with their reveal of a new Xbox, although we won’t know how successful it will be yet because of its high price tag. Companies like Sony and Bethesda presented huge reveals in regards to VR but once again, we will need to see how the community reacts upon release. The announcements at the 2017 E3 Expo marked a new age for gaming and technological advancement; this new era will require more exploration before we can determine if E3 was a success this time around.
Arguably the biggest reveal from this year’s E3 was the Xbox One X from Microsoft. To date, the Xbox One X will be the most powerful console available, capable of true 4k resolution and 326 GB of memory bandwidth. The only drawback is the $499 price tag which is $100 more than the new console from Sony.
Several industry analysts have already voiced their concern that the price for the new Xbox will simply be unaffordable however, you are definitely getting your money’s worth based on the specs that were revealed. Several new games were revealed for the new console including Forza Motorsport 7, Assasin’s Creed Origins, and Metro Exodus. In addition to the long list of titles Microsoft revealed, they also dived deeper into previously announced titles such as Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Anthem.
Sony used the majority of their segment to discuss more details on previously announced games such as Destiny 2 and God of War. There were also announcements of new games including a remastered edition of Shadow of the Colossus on the PS4. Like their Microsoft competitors, Sony revealed their plans to incorporate VR.
Games such as Skyrim and Final Fantasy XV’s Monster of the Deep will have PSVR exclusive versions. To end, Sony gave an extended peak at their new Spider-Man title. The game features similar combat/movement mechanics to Batman Arkham and will feature quick-time events when saving the people of New York.
EA’s kicked things off with the announcement of new games such as Madden NFL 18 and A Way Out, however, the focal point of point of their conference was an in-depth look at Star Wars Battlefront 2.
In addition to releasing a teaser trailer, EA gave a first look at multiplayer and new heroes that will be available in this much-anticipated sequel. Lastly, EA gave a teaser for the new Bioware game, Anthem. The title has not been given a release date yet, although Bioware hopes to release the Anthem by early next year.
Ubisoft delivered a solid showcase at this year’s E3 event. Among the biggest announcements were the reveal of Super Mario Odyssey and Rabbids Kingdom Battle. We were also given more details about recently announced games including Assassin’s Creed Origins, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Far Cry 5, and Steep: Road to the Olympics. Lastly, Ubisoft announced several new titles in development such as The Crew 2, Skulls and Bones, Transference, and much more.
Nintendo revealed several surprises during their E3 2017 spotlight. Most notably, Nintendo announced that a new Pokémon game is in the works in addition to Metroid Prime 4. We also received a more in-depth look into games that were announced earlier this year. Rocket League will be available on Nintendo Switch sometime during the holiday season this year; in addition to Nintendo themed in-game items, the cross-network play will be available.
We were also given a look at an extended trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the Nintendo Switch which is also set to release during the holiday season. In other big news from Nintendo, a trailer for the new Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC was revealed. The DLC will feature additional gameplay, a new difficulty mode, and a plethora of new items.
Bethesda began their E3 presentation by giving us a look at their new VR games in development, Doom VFR and Fallout 4 VR. They also revealed updates for existing titles. Leading the charge was the announcement of Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, a DLC for the incredibly popular Elder Scrolls Online MMORPG. The DLC will include an entirely new explorable area, tons of additional quests, items, and much more.
We were also given a look at the Skyrim Creation Club, an innovative approach at adding new game content to classic games like Skyrim and Fallout 4. The Creation Club will allow community creators to work directly with Bethesda to create new content for their games. What sets the Creation Club apart from conventional modding is that all created content will be compatible with achievements and previously saved games.
Some secrets stay hidden for years. Others stay hidden for a couple weeks, but only because people collectively poured hundreds of hours into solving them.
As part of World of Warcraft’s most recent major update, Tomb of Sargeras, Blizzard added a secret so deviously obtuse that no single player had much hope of solving it. So players banded together via WoW’s Secret Finding Discord Community and started sleuthing.
What they uncovered was a series of pages scattered across Azeroth, each marked with an infuriatingly vague clue. Some, like “the first of lords to fall”—which points to Ragnaros’ lair—weren’t so bad, but others, like “in snow, sand, and stone” could’ve applied to just about anything. They had to be collected by individual players in a specific order that was inspired, oddly enough, by the cosmology chart from real-life book World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume 1. As WoWhead points out (via PCGamesN), the page numbers even spell out the the book’s ISBN: 9781616558451.
In this wonderless year of 2017, it’s rare that secrets stay secret for long, often thanks to dark arts like datamining. This secret hunt was particularly clever in that it couldn’t be datamined. Apparently, pages only appeared in the game’s database after players interacted with them. I’m not 100 percent sure how Blizzard achieved that, but it’s damn cool.
As members of the Secret Finding Discord Community sleuthed themselves into oblivion, WoW senior game designer and riddle master Jeremy ‘Muffinus’ Feasel lurked—secretly, of course—in the Discord channel, taunting players and occasionally dropping hints via Twitter.
Two weeks after the Tomb of Sargeras update dropped, players finally solved the puzzle. For their troubles, they were rewarded with a special mount, Riddler’s Mind-Worm. It might not seem like much given all the trouble people went through, but something something the journey not the destination or whatever. Also, some WoW players just go fucking batty for special mounts. It’s a thing!
Once it was clear that the puzzle was solved, Blizzard’s Feasel signed off with one last tweet: