The world of video game fan projects never ceases to amaze, as gamers everywhere continue to show-off their creativity and imagination by developing the kind of experiences that many of us wish would get an official release.
The latest in this long line of “I can’t believe someone is doing that” projects is called Installation 01, and it intends to give PC players everywhere a proper modern-day Halo multiplayer experience to call their own. You can check out this project’s progress in the developer diary video below:
Installation 01 is currently being developed by a group of 30 fans with various talents that intend for their game to be a largely unique experience in the style of previous Halo titles rather than a direct port of those games.
As part of their compliance with the content usage rules set forth by Microsoft, the Installation 01 team is developing nearly everything in the game (including assets that were previously included in Halogames) from scratch. That means that every character, every animation, every level, and every weapon has been hand-designed by the team. While much of the game is still made to resemble elements of the Halo franchise, the developers are also working on unique levels and weapons that will be exclusive to this release.
By going to such lengths to create everything themselves, the hope is that Microsoft will not shut down the game such as how Nintendo has shut down a few recent fan projects based on their properties. Given the sheer amount of work that appears to have gone into the project (it’s even set to feature its own level creation toolset), it certainly would be disappointing if this was ruled to be a license violation, especially since there have been no talks of porting the Halo franchise to PC since the release of Halo 2 for Windows in 2007.
The group behind this project have made some incredible progress since we last checked in. It’s clear that there’s still a ways to go before its completed, but the Installation 01 developers certainly prove their resolve in this Q&A video about the project:
If that’s not enough to convince you that the team behind this project is dedicated to bringing a complete Halo experience to PC users everywhere, then perhaps this impressive homemade cinematic trailer for Installation 01 may just get the job done with its look at how visceral classic Halobattles can get.
I’ve been privately lamenting the lack of PC game demos lately. There was a time when demos were commonplace: a chunk of a brand new game you could try out for free before you bought the full game. Demos gave us a chance not only see what a game had to offer and whether or not we enjoyed it, but also allowed us to continually tweak the settings and try different graphics options to see how our PCs handled it. Plus, instead of waiting months for a sale to try the game without a lot of risk, you could play right when the game came out, while everyone else was still talking about it.
While I was at this past weekend I spent a few minutes talking with Kim Nordstrom, former general manager of Swedish game company King and current leader of Paradox Interactive’s mobile initiative. We chatted about PC and mobile games, and especially about Introversion’s Prison Architect, which is making an unlikely appearance on mobile platforms with Paradox as the publisher. Nordstrom’s plan for Prison Architect provide a few lessons PC games could learn from with its unusual, almost shareware-era approach to pricing.
Big, meaty mobile games have a challenge when it comes to sales. The roots of mobile are in free games, or exceedingly cheap ones: 99 cents, maybe a couple of dollars. Pricing a mobile game at $15 or $20 is a dubious prospect, which is why so many are free-to-play with microtransactions: get the game into players’ hands first, and try to get money out of them later. The issue is that ‘microtransaction’ has become something of a dirty word, and that’s mostly true on PC as well. While there are a number of great free-to-play games on PC like Dota 2 and League of Legends, there are scores more that have left us highly suspicious of the F2P model, with gated progress and gameplay designed around making you so damn impatient you’ll pay just to advance at a reasonable pace.
On mobile, Prison Architect will cost around $15. That feels like a fair price for what you get—it’s a complex management simulation and , —but Nordstrom knows simply plopping it on mobile stores with that price tag probably won’t fly. So it will be free to download, and unlocking the complete game lands somewhere between free-to-play and full-price.
“It’s not a free-to-play with microtransactions, nothing like that, it caps at $15 right now,” Nordstrom told me. “But we basically just made it so anyone can install it, and it’s a try before you buy.”
Nordstrom holds out his hands a few inches apart, then widens them as he describes how the game unlocks more content for those who purchase it in chunks. “And the game size is this big, we offer you this much for free, and then we’re very clear on if you pay whatever dollars, you get the sandbox, if you pay [more] you get the chapters, and if you pay the full price you get the full game.”
So, you get to play a portion of the game as much as you want for free, just like a PC demo. Inside the game itself there’s a store that lets you unlock the rest of the features at certain price points. While that sounds suspiciously like microtransactions, there’s a difference: the total amount you can spend is capped. You won’t be nickel-and-dimed forever. If you decide to spend money, you’ll know exactly how much, in advance, it will cost you, and once you’ve spent it, you’re done. You own everything, and you’re never prompted or even tempted to spend more.
The demo, man
As Tyler concluded recently, big-publisher games can cost a lot on PC, especially when you factor in their many special editions, and that along with having no way to try a game before buying it has kept me away from a lot of games in the past few years. With Steam refunds, you can play a game for two hours before returning it or deciding to keep it but as we pointed out recently with Prey, which had a console demo but irritatingly none on PC, that’s nothing like a proper demo at all. (The reason given by Prey’s co-creative director Raphael Colantonio was “It’s just a resource assignment thing. We couldn’t do a demo on both the console and on the PC, we had to choose.”)
Sometimes there are free weekends for games, which are great, but that’s usually well after launch (this weekend’s Rising Storm 2 beta excepted) and usually long after people are actively talking about the game and your friends are still playing it. I’ve never bought a game just for a pre-order bonus, because pre-purchasing isn’t a great idea and the bonuses aren’t much to speak of (what am I really going to do with a digital art book, besides either flip through it once and forget it, or completely forget to flip through it at all). And pre-orders don’t always include a discount, so there’s rarely any real reason to pre-purchase anything.
We do get a few demos nowadays—though most often they don’t arrive as a game is released, such as Dishonored 2’s demo which came months after launch—but we need more, and more games with something like Prison Architect’s mobile model. If Deus Ex: Mankind Divided had been downloadable for free on day one, with a nice chunk of it playable indefinitely (like Prison Architect’s mobile version), players who were undecided about purchasing it for $60 could have gotten a good long look at what it has to offer. It would have given players like me time to play with a selection of augs and try out different playstyles. And it would’ve provided us with a good chance tweak the settings to see how well the it ran on our PCs, something the two-hour Steam refund window simply doesn’t allow for (and really shouldn’t be used for anyway).
If a potential customer such as myself ultimately decides not to buy the rest, what does the publisher really lose? I know creating game demos means more work, and that it’s not as simple as cutting off a slice of the game and plopping it in a folder. But in addition to demos being beneficial to gamers, developers and publishers can gain valuable information from making free demos available. As Kim Nordstrom told me, there’s value not just in the sales a company makes but in having information about the sales they didn’t make.
“The problem is that we as a company, we would never learn if we [had] a $4.99 price point in a storefront, or even a $14.99, because we wouldn’t know,” Nordstrom said. “We would just know who bought it, [but] we wouldn’t know who didn’t [buy] it.”
Information on who didn’t buy your game is useful. How many people were interested enough to download it but were turned off by something in the opening hours? How many people were willing to pay some, but not all, of the full price? Plus, it could whet the appetite of some customers who would then buy later during a sale instead of simply forgetting about it. This strikes me as a net positive for both developers and players.
Even if people don’t buy Prison Architect on mobile after trying it for free, Nordstrom says, “…they’ll play the game and if they enjoy it they might get interested in the company, or the brand, or Introversion’s games, and such. And they might spread it in terms of [word of mouth], and some people say ‘Holy crap, this is a great game, I’m going to buy it.'”
For publishers and developers, demos put a game in front of more players on launch day, provides them with additional information on how their game is being played and received, and can increase interest in their games even if not everyone who tries them, buys them. They can even get more technical feedback if their game is having problems on launch day. For players, they’re given a chance to sample more new games, to properly try before they buy, and less incentive to abuse Steam’s refund policy or wait months for a sale. PC demos are good for everyone, and it’s time for them to make a comeback.
Earlier this month, Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two angered the PC gaming community after sending a cease and desist letter to the developers of the OpenIV modding tool. OpenIV allowed people to create modifications for GTA IV and GTA V single player, but according to its creators, the letter said their tool could “allow third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two’s rights.” Facing the threat of legal action, they announced on June 14th that they would stop distributing OpenIV.
Now, after revolt by players including a campaign of bad ratings for the GTA games on Steam and a Change.org petition with over 77,000 signatures, Rockstar Games may have worked out a solution. A post on its support forum today said that Take Two has agreed that it will “generally” not take legal action against third party projects as long as they meet certain guidelines.
After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project.
While it went out of its way to say that this is not a waiver, and “is not a license, and it does not constitute endorsement, approval, or authorization,” it may be enough for modders to breathe easy. Rockstar representatives have told PC Gamer and Motherboard that it is in contact with the makers of OpenIV, apparently to try to prevent people from using it to affect the GTA Online multiplayer. There’s no word from the team yet, but today the tool received an updated build.
Imagine a $4 million loss sliding off your back like it’s no big deal. Well, Rust developer Garry Newman doesn’t have to imagine it at all.
All told, Facepunch Studios gave out $4 million in refunds — which is only 6 percent of the total sales Rust has made since its soft launch release on Steam’s Early Access platform three and a half years ago, according to an interview Newman did with PCGamesN.
The whole point of Rust is to survive its world, and you’re not given a lot of tools to help you do that. Here’s how the game is described on its website:
Rust’s world is harsh. The environment is not kind. Bears and wolves will chase and kill you. Falling from a height will kill you. Being exposed to radiation for an extended period will kill you. Starving will kill you. Being cold will kill you. Other players can find you, kill you, and take your stuff.
It’s not exactly the most forthcoming game and — like a lot of other world-building, player-driven PC games like DayZ — it can have a fairly steep learning curve.
So Newman isn’t exactly surprised that a lot of people didn’t get his game and asked for a refund in the name of a lack of fun. It’s not for everyone.
The first episode of Hitman from today will be free on PS4, Xbox One and PCThe first location in the IO Interactive game, the Playground, features two story missions, two Escalation contracts and more than 40 challengers.Hitman is completely free to play on the PS4, Xbox One and PC from today and is NOT a limited-time offer.
The first episode will be free to download from 5pm BST today, or if you’re in other European countries 6pm CEST.
If you choose to buy the full game your save data and everything you earn during your Hitman playthrough will carry over.
You can also get 60 per cent off the price of the full Hitman game this week on all platforms.
The first episode of Hitman is now free on PS4, Xbox One and PC
Hakan Abrak, CEO of IO Interactive, said: “I’m proud to announce that our first hello as an independent studio is to invite all gamers to play the beginning of HITMAN for free.“There is a lot of love out there for HITMAN and with this offering we hope that many more will fall in love with the game. We believe that this is Hitman at its best. So jump in and give a try.”
The offer comes after IO Interactive on Friday secured an agreement with Square Enix to become an independent studio.
They also retained the rights to the Hitman franchise.After the agreement last week was announced, Abrak said: “This is a watershed moment for IOI.
“As of today, we have complete control over the direction for our studio and the Hitman IP – we’re about to forge our own future and it’s incredibly exciting.
“We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.”
The latest version of the Hitman franchise initially received backlash from fans after taking a new, episodic release structure. The full season was later released as one standalone title.
However, the game has since received a warm reception from critics and fans, with a strong 84 per cent rating on Metacritic based on 40 different reviews.
HITMAN FREE – WHAT YOU GET IN FIRST EPISODE• The ICA Facility will be available as a free download on PS4, Xbox One and PC
• The download includes everything released for that location
• Two story missions (including all cut-scenes)
• Two Escalation Contracts
• More than 40 challenges
• 17 achievements and trophies
• Plus thousands of player-created missions in Contracts Mode
• Players who download the ICA Facility for free will be able to keep all of their progress when they upgrade to the full game
The lands of the east are now open, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is officially released. Rather than fork over the full $40 price for the expansion, PC gamers can upgrade at GMG and catch a 17% discount to $33.29. Authorized Mog Station key deal (the non-Steam version) saving you about $7. Same percent discount available for the Collector’s Edition at GMG..Login or create an account to see their best VIP price.
Waiting on bated breath for the Steam Summer Sale? GamersGate has jumped the gun and launched their own 2017 PC Gaming Summer Sale this week. Discounts on hundreds of titles up to 92% off. The top notable deals include hot offers on Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Far Cry 4, the entire Assassin’s Creed franchise, and Killing Floor 2.
While GameStop hasn’t technically begun their 2017 Summer Sale, they do have a boat load of titles up to 80% off. Despite the generic name PC Gaming Sale, it is not a typical round of PC discounts at GameStop. We’re seeing the lowest price ever on Dark Souls III and its Deluxe Edition (which includes the Season Pass). Also notable are discounts on The Sims 4 plus its many expansion packs, Grand Theft Auto V for $29.99, and Tales of Berseria.