Get Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones for Free

Stealth Inc 2

The Windows-only Stealth Inc 2 is available temporarily for free from the Humble Store.

In Stealth Inc 2, you play the role of a clone escaping a sinister and high-tech testing facility. Stealth Inc 2 tests both your brain and your reflexes over 60 varied levels linked together in a sprawling overworld.

Death is never more than a few moments away, but one of the few advantages of being a clone is that death isn’t all that permanent. With no loading screens and no lives to worry about, players are encouraged to use their inevitable demise as a learning tool as they navigate lasers, homicidal robots and terrifying bosses in the ultimate hostile work environment

You’ll get a DRM-free copy of the game via the Humble Store and a Steam key all for the price of nothing until the 31st of August.

YouTube Gaming

YouTube’s Twitch-competitor, YouTube Gaming, launched yesterday as an app on mobile devices and as a website. There are three major improvements that the announcement touts:

  • YouTube Gaming is your go-to destination for anything and everything gaming because it automatically pulls in all gaming-related videos and live streams from YouTube.
  • Viewers get personalized gaming recommendations based on the games and channels they collect. With over 25,000 game pages and even more gaming channels, it’s never been easier to connect with your gaming community.
  • We’ve also made it easier to create a live stream — check out the beta version of our new way to go live at youtube.com/stream today.

Lets talk about them in reverse order, starting with the streaming improvements.

If you wanted to stream to YouTube before, you had to manually schedule a start time and end time as an upcoming event. Scheduling didn’t suit the unplanned streams that are typical of Twitch and other game streaming sites. There’s a new dashboard for streamers as well that is a definite improvement over the Twitch dashboard because it seems like someone at YouTube actually put some thought into the design and what information streamers want to see when they’re streaming. Large text lets you know the health of your stream’s quality, how many people are watching, and how long you’ve been streaming for.

When you’re finished streaming, the stream will be archived by YouTube and begin processing immediately. Twitch only saves your videos temporarily and waits a short time for you to create highlight reels from them with a YouTube export option. For people who don’t have storage space or the upload bandwidth and time to dedicate to editing and re-uploading a local copy of their recorded stream this could be a great improvement. 

Of course there are the typical launch-day issues.

Yesterday, when I first attempted to stream Black Ops 3 to YouTube Gaming from Open Broadcaster Software, the new live video dashboard said that my stream was fine but all viewers saw was a blank “offline” message. Later in the day the issue cleared up and streaming worked.

Overall, the front-end for viewers on YouTube Gaming is redundant when all of the same content is available through YouTube proper. Scrolling through the homepage can best be described as an experience in wondering how a website from a major technology company in 2015 with so many resources can perform so poorly and slow your browser down so much if the new site loads at all. Today when I browse to gaming.youtube.com in Chrome I get a 404 page. Now we’re into launch week issues.

When it does load, YouTube Gaming’s front-end is fine and replaces the most common textual searching for live and archived game videos that users do with graphical box art of games to follow and click on to find what they’re looking for. The carousel of the most popular live video streams at the top of the page is a major improvement over the similar feature on Twitch’s front page. Twitch’s front-door carousel immediately starts loudly defiling your speakers or headphones even if you’re just momentarily browsing the front page while looking for something else or logging into the site. YouTube is nice enough to mute the audio.

The duplicated content just makes me think Google is getting ready for when, like other Google products have done after 6 months to a year, YouTube Gaming goes kaput and reintegrates with YouTube. This is a product that doesn’t need to exist. It is a sub-brand of a sub-brand of a product at a company that was fine without a gaming-specific site. At a time when the major improvement YouTube needs is a reduction in automated copyright notices that deny gaming video creators the ability to monetize their work on that platform YouTube is instead focused on recapturing a group of live streamers that long ago departed for the more live stream friendly waters at Twitch.

Competition for Twitch is good, but in order for a site to compete with Twitch effectively it needs to be useful from day one. YouTube Gaming is not quite there yet.

The Jig is Up

Brianna Wu & Zoe Quinn were interviewed by MTV’s Shaunna Murphy recently, a year after the GamerGate bullshit kicked off:

Wu: When I got dragged into Gamergate it felt like there were people that actually believed, “It’s about ethics in game journalism.” What I [later] saw was people stopped believing that. They understood it was about harassment of women. When you go over to Gamergate headquarters, you can look at what they’re saying, and now I think they’re a lot more honest that this is about harassing feminists. I think they know the jig is up. And I certainly think the press knows the jig is up.

The bullshit cover story about ethics is, thankfully, gone, now we’re just left with the shamelessly hateful who still think that women shouldn’t be treated equally and have equal representation in games and games press. No critique of the status-quo will ever be acceptable. 

The most personally disappointing part of GamerGate for me has been the people I used to respect who bought into GG or have even just been emboldened by the backwards thinking that it represents. Over the past year die-hard racists, misogynists, and homophobes who were once only privately terrible have been publicly hateful and will do whatever they can to defend their attitudes because there is no question in their mind about the inferiority of anyone who commits the crime of being different from birth or by choice. To the hateful, compassion is censorship, feelings are lies, opinions have no place in journalism, and any hint that they should stop being terrible is cause to throw a tantrum or leave when it doesn’t work and they don’t get their way.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Windows Multiplayer Beta on timedoctor.org live

I got a chance to play the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta on Windows today. Here’s the footage from the live stream of my first hour or so with the game. It looks like Treyarch has done a great job with the Windows version. The FOV and FPS police should be happy with the options in-game, but I’m sure they’ll find something else to complain about.

Here’s my suggestion: Linux/SteamOS support.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega

Dan Whitehead reviewing the Sinclair ZX Spectrum-in-a-controller:

I’m holding a Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega, the crowdfunded plug-and-play gaming device produced with the involvement of Sir Clive Sinclair himself. Even the box, with its black cardboard sleeve and rainbow corner flash, has been designed to mimic that of the original 48k home computer. I can feel the nostalgia juices rising, but also a wave of scepticism. Is this a genuine new Sinclair product, or a cleverly packaged emulator, ruthlessly designed to tweak my middle-aged yearning?

[…]

As an actual piece of hardware, the Vega does not impress. It’s light and feels cheap. The input buttons are stiff, and the odd button placement does it no favours in games that require more than just moving, jumping and shooting. More troubling is how many corners have clearly been cut. Two long and rather ugly wires trail from the Vega. One is a standard AV input which plugs directly into the basic Video In and left/right audio sockets on your TV. There’s no HDMI, and if you even want to run it through SCART, you’ll need to supply your own connector.
This is also true of the power, since your only option out of the box is a USB cable. The idea is that this plugs into the USB socket on your TV – assuming your TV has one – or else you’ll need to borrow a phone charger or find some other USB port to draw power from. The absence of even a simple plug really makes this feel like a bargain basement offering. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the Vega retailed for around thirty quid, like other plug-and-play TV game devices, but when the asking price is £100 requiring the customer to dig around for spare parts is very cheeky.

Who would have thought that a Sinclair-approved product would feel like cheap junk? Still, I’d like to play Elite on an original ZX Spectrum at some point and I suspect that it’ll cost much less than the £100 (157.68 USD) asking price for the Vega to acquire one.

Two Men Arrested for Bringing Guns to a Pokémon Tournament

Luke O’Neil:

On Saturday, cops arrested two men who may have intended to carry out a shooting spree at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, where thousands gathered over the weekend for the Pokémon World Championship.

James Austin Stumbo, 27, and Kevin Norton, 18, high-level competitors in the internationally popular card game, had traveled from Iowa to take part in the event, and were listed in the “Masters Level,” according to the Pokémon website. (Their names have apparently since been removed.) Boston police say the duo was turned away on Thursday by private security after they had been alerted to a threatening message posted by Stumbo on a Facebook group called Mayhem Pokémon Crew. The post, a picture of firearms arranged on the back of his vehicle, read, “Kevin Norton and I are ready for worlds Boston here we come!!!”

Metal Gear Solid 2’s False Hero

Richard Stanton has this great article on Metal Gear Solid 2 and how the game was itself an examination of expectations for what a sequel to Metal Gear Solid could be. Here’s a short part about the protagonist, Raiden:

Raiden was MGS2’s big secret, a character visually designed to appeal to people who didn’t play MGS – specifically women. The first game’s audience was largely male, and Kojima believed a good-looking young man would be a pleasant contrast to the gruff chain-smoking Snake.

But the true purpose was different. Before he was ever called Raiden, the character was known by the kanji (Ore) that literally translates as ‘I.’ Raiden was intended to represent the player, specifically the type of player who enjoys war-themed games like MGS. The events at the Big Shell closely parallel the events at Shadow Moses, with one big difference.

The first time you control Raiden, with his mask off and blonde locks flowing freely, the location is designed around a bespoke effect: lots of bird shit. Walk on it and Raiden pratfalls, an initially amusing animation that soon becomes a little tiresome as you search for the way forward.

It’s a little thing but, boy, do they pile up. MGS2 in ways big and small undermines Raiden at nearly every turn, constantly reinforcing to both him and the player that he is not Solid Snake. The Big Shell is Raiden’s first combat mission, and no-one misses the opportunity to remind him of it. When Snake meets Raiden he calls him “green” and “rookie.” Raiden’s first boss fight, against Fortune, cannot be won – and she taunts him for not being Snake. Where Snake stoically bore torture, Raiden ends up crying.

There’s so much more in the article. The upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5 is giving people a great excuse to write about the older games in the series and how awesomely unconventional they were.

There’s One Big Upside to Broadcast & Cable Television

The FCC’s page on the CALM act that outlawed loud commercials:

Q: Do these rules also apply to radio commercials or commercials on the Internet?
A: No, the CALM Act only applies to commercials aired on television.

This explains the deafeningly loud commercials while watching Mr. Robot on USA’s Apple TV app.

Winners Don’t Use Drugs

Sean Hutchinson has the story behind the famous slogan:

But what, then, should the slogan say? How could the Bureau be concise without coming off as condescending or paternalistic? The teams spitballed phrases and designs. Fay remembers that Davenport came up with the final slogan. Davenport believes it was someone else. “We were just tossing things around,” he said. Anyway, both of them found “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” direct and snappy, with a blithe cheerfulness that would’ve fit at any Boy Scouts meeting. “We wanted to get it to something that was short,” Fay said, “something that you could say winners not only applied to game-playing, but also if you want to be a winner in life, you can’t use drugs.”