Nintendo’s E3 2015 News

09:55

That’s it for Nintendo, up next is the Square-Enix press conference on timedoctor.org.

09:54

They want you to share your own video of you singing the 1-1 theme at a URL letssupermario.com but it doesn’t seem to be working.

09:51

A montage of Mario levels is followed by people making the Mario 1-1 background music in a bunch of different ways to celebrate the 30th anniversary.

09:50

We’re wrapping up. Super Mario Maker will be available to demo at Best Buy stores in the U.S.

09:48

You should try Mario Maker if you want to be a game designer. It comes out 9/11/15.

09:47

Miyamoto is talking about how you’re trapped into getting the first mushroom in Super Mario Brothers’ 1-1 level.

09:46

It even has a pipe for a base.

09:46

Wow, there’s an 8-bit Mario Amiibo that is huge.

09:45

Or putting characters underwater that have never been underwater.

09:45

You can combine elements from different Mario games to make new stuff. Like stacking enemies into a tower.

09:44

They found some old concept work from the original Mario games where Mario could fly in a cloud around the levels.

09:44

There’s a cat’s paw editing the levels instead of a human hand. That cat is pretty smart.

09:43

On to Mario Maker.

09:43

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for Wii-U holiday 2015

09:42

Mario Tennis now, with power-ups making the characters huge.

09:42

Mario & Luigi Paper Jam ships in Spring 2016.

09:41

More Paper Mario for 3DS. With the regular Mario & Luigi crossing over with their Paper Mario & Luigi variants.

09:40

Uh this is basically just ghost Pokemon where you capture some things into your in-game watch. Ships holiday 2015.

09:39

Level 5 is up next with more anime. Yokai Watch.

09:38

It ships October 16th, 2015.

09:37

Yarn Yoshi will be an Amiibo. Also the game will have co-op where the Yoshi can swallow each other and shoot each other out to different places. Different Amiibo will also change the look of your character in the game.

09:35

On to Yoshi’s Wooly World, the yarn-styled happy fun time Yoshi platformer for Wii-U.

09:34

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival ships Holiday 2015.

09:34

Amiibos for your favorite Animal Crossing characters.

09:34

Animal Crossing in a party game for Wii-U now.

09:33

Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer September 25th, 2015.

09:32

Xenoblade Chronicles X, mecha fighting commences 12/4/15

09:30

Time for Shin Migami Tensei x Fire Emblem. It’s more Anime bullshit. 2016

09:29

On to Fire Emblem: Fates with some anime trailer. Also coming out 2016.

09:27

4-player co-op FPS called Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Metroid Prime: Blast Ball a 3v3 sports arena type of thing. No date but 2016 is the year.

09:26

On to Metroid for 3DS.

09:25

That’s out 1st quarter 2016.

09:25

There’s a subtitle, Hyrule Warriors: Legends.

09:23

It’s just Hyrule Warriors. No biggie.

09:22

Here’s the rumored Hyrule Warriors (Dynasty Warriors Zelda) for the 3DS.

09:22

You’ll be able to play online co-op as well locally.

09:21

Woah, this time you collect items to get new outfits and the outfits change the way you play.

09:20

So they added this totem mechanic where you can carry your friends on your shoulders and apparently a four-player totem was too tall. So they’re limiting you to three. Also that works because of triforce being three things.

09:19

We’ve got the designer of the game telling us about their focus on working collaboratively instead of competitively in multiplayer Zelda co-op.

09:18

It’s got co-op. Fall 2015.

09:18

Now we’re on to Zelda: Tri Force Heroes for the 3DS.

09:17

So there will be a bunch of these Amiibolanders. I expect confused children everywhere to try to use the Amiibo mode on the wrong system.

09:15

You can twist the base of these new Skylanders to work as amiibo with a twist of the base.

09:14

Now we’re on to Skylanders superchargers. “Introducing Turbo Charge Donkey Kong”

09:13

He’s talking about Mario Maker, coming out later this year. And now Amiibo. Nothing new in either so far.

09:12

Reggie is introducing us in non-muppet form to what they’ll be talking about during this conference.

09:11

This Starfox isn’t a sequel or remake, so that’s why they called it Zero.

09:10

The Starfox ships, the R-wings, were supposed to transform in the Starfox sequel that never shipped. Starfox 2. That’ll be in Starfox Zero for the Wii-U.

09:08

The name of this Starfox is Starfox Zero.

09:07

Miyamoto is telling us about how Star Fox is designed. How important the gates you fly under are.

09:06

We’re live with Nintendo’s E3 press conference. Starting off with muppets of the Nintendo crew leading into Star Fox for the Wii-U.

Sony’s E3 2015 News

The Playstation press conference starts now:

  • Some dude with a shitty beard is yakking it up about how awesome gaming and Playstation are.
  • The Last Guardian, the next game from the developers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus is still on. They’re playing a trailer now. It comes out in 2016.
  • Guerrilla Games the developers of the most creatively named game since BonestormKillzone, are making something new. It has some kind of crossover between tree creatures and robot dinosaurs, looks a bit Turok-y and Heavenly Sword-y. There’s a stealth system similar to the one in Assassin’s Creed where you can crawl through bushes to keep awareness down. The protagonist lady has a laser bow that shoots rocket arrows. Also, a gun that binds the giant robot dinosaurs to the ground.  It’s called Horizon: Zero Dawn.
  • From IO Interactive, a new Hitman, seemingly just called Hitman with no colon or subtitle. No gameplay footage, just a new trailer. Playstation beta is exclusive for pre-orderers. Don’t pre-order games.
  • Street Fighter V. Exclusive to Playstation and Windows. Beta starts July.
  • Hello Games is back with more No Man’s Sky. Which predictably still looks amazing. The unpredicted is that they started off with space combat which hasn’t been shown before. I can picture the mythical publisher boss sitting in front of his desk, smashing down papers and shouting IF THIS DEMO DOESN’T START WITH GUNS YOUR GAME IS CANCELLED!  After the space combat, we go to a random planet. “Every planet in every solar system is fully destructible.” This demo is amazing. There are NPC guardians who protect the planets from being destroyed. Release date will be announced soon, but not today. Ends with a Carl Sagan quote.
  • Media Molecule is here to tell us about our dreams. You can sculpt in 3D with your regular Dualshock 4 controller and animate short films as well. It’s just called Dreams.
  • Firewatch from Campo Santo. Some kind of timed exclusive for Playstation. Still looks great. No release date.
  • Destiny: The Taken King. Another expansion for Destiny. If we don’t see Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 before the end of this press conference I will be surprised.
  • More Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Exclusive missions on Playstation 4.
  • Final Fantasy has gone super-chibi in World of Final Fantasy. Timed exclusive for PS4 and Vita. 2016. No real information as to what it is.
  • Final Fantasy 7 remake trailer. Timed exclusive for Playstation 4. Not even a year for a release.
  • A montage trailer from Devolver Digital for a bunch of games, Ronin, Eitr, Mother Russia Bleeds, Crossing Souls.
  • Shenmue III is going to be crowd funded. It’s already on Kickstarter. 2 Million goal for the project. It’s very strange since this isn’t from Sega, instead it’s Shenmue’s creator, Yu Suzuki with a company called Ys Net. $29 for a digital copy for PS4 or Windows. Estimated release is in December of 2017.
  • We’re on to some Batman-related thing. Oh it’s just Batman: Arkham Knight with some very strange exclusive Scarecrow missions for Playstation 4. 
  • Guerrilla Games Cambridge is working on a VR game called Rigs that will work with Sony’s Morpheus VR Headset. They said IP. Stop saying IP. There were a few other games in a montage.
  • Sony’s TV subscription package, Vue, is expanding to more places and will go a-la-carte. I don’t care.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Treyarch’s Mark Lamia is on stage to tell us about it. He looks and sounds like a car salesman who got hired to tell us about Call of Duty. Four player campaign co-op depicted in the trailer. It looks like you’ll have Bees instead of or in addition to attack dogs. Next up we’ve got some multiplayer. You can shoot people online. It comes out November 6th, 2015. Map packs come out first for Playstation this time instead of the Xbox. Pre-orderers get a beta. i made a mistake last time by getting it on Windows which was a horrible experience. Treyarch does typically do better on Windows than the other Call of Duty developers.
  • Shenmue 3 is now at $294,035 of its $2,000,000 goal. Kickstarter is going to get at least $100,000 for hosting a website if this project is fully funded.
  • Disney Infinity 3.0 Star Wars Rise Against the Empire Playset. One month exclusive on Playstation 4. The voice actor for Darth Vader sounds terrible. The Boba Fett toy is also exclusive.
  • More Star Wars: Battlefront. Nothing exclusive.
  • Awkward pause between the room going dark and the start of the Uncharted trailer. I need to go back and finish Uncharted 3. More techincal difficulties.They restarted and things are working now. The graphics look so good, but the gameplay looks like exactly what you would expect from a new Uncharted game.

That’s it for today.

Ubisoft’s E3 2015 News

Rayman’s Raving Press Conference starts now:

  • South Park: The Stick of Truth is getting a sequel with superheroes instead of medieval stuff. It’s called South Park: The Fractured, but Whole. Get it?
  • Lots of dumb butt-hole jokes with Matt Stone and Trey Parker on-stage. Apparently it’ll be using the same formula as the first Stick of Truth game, so expect more RPG in the same engine.
  • So many dumb jokes about other things including “tea-bagging.”
  • Reddit jokes.
  • Trailer for something called For Honor. Medieval dudes fighting. Vikings too? There’s a dude with a way too well manicured beard on stage with a cane. Two teams of four are now playing a demo. Looks like it is a cross between Chivalry and Mount & Blade.
  • The Crew is getting motorcycles and monster trucks in The Crew: Wild Run. November 15th.
  • A horse is galloping and shooting fire out of it’s nostrils with a weird cat thing that has a ray gun. It’s a new Trials game.
  • More Tom Clancy’s: The Division. Third-person multiplayer shooting. Sphero’s. A wilhelm scream as an NPC dies. Your team can betray other teams that you come across in the multiplayer. Or you can betray your whole team and take their loot for yourself. Betas for console and Windows early next year. The Division comes out March 8th, 2016.
  • Anno 2205, November 3rd. It’s Ubisoft’s city building game. They mention a beta later this year so I’m not sure if that is 2015’s November or 2016. The PC versions of these games have been pretty terrible in terms of DRM that only has a few activations before you can’t play it again.
  • They’re trying to make meme jokes with some dude in the audience who is wearing the most embarrassing cosplay and is not prepared for this at all.
  • Just Dance 2016 on all motion platforms. Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii-U. There’s Jason Derulo singing to a completely unresponsive crowd. Even the host of the show won’t get up and dance with the singer when he attempts to pull her on stage. After the song Derulo even mentions how awkward it was. There’s a subscription streaming service called Just Dance Unlimited for Just Dance 2016.
  • Of course what follows up dancing and singing better than terrorism in Rainbow Six: Seige. Angela Bassett was in the trailer, now she’s on stage. Bassett is your boss in the game. Terrorist Hunt is in this, if it’s anything like VegasTerrorist Hunt mode I will be psyched. There’s an on-stage demo, it looks awesome. You can break through walls with battering rams. Beta starts September 24th, 2015.
  • Trackmania: Turbo is up. Francois and Francois are here to show us some single player. It looks amazing. There’s a procedurally generated track mode. Francois flubs it the first time on the new track and hits a sign on a jump, flipping his car over.
  • Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Horse-drawn carriages and mutton chops mean it’s victorian England business. Not one assassination yet. Guns and wrist-blades are seen at the end. There’s some kind of in-person demo kiosks available in various locations around the world but the only United States location is in Los Angeles.
  • We couldn’t go through another press conference without mentioning “IP” and you bet it’s “new IP.”
  • The new IP is Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. It’s some kind of open-world third-person shooter. Tom Clancy’s name is getting a real workout for so much that he isn’t involved with. I guess that counts as new IP since the gameplay is kind of new,

That’s it.

Electronic Arts’ E3 2015 News

Here’s the news from the EA E3 press briefing:

  • The new Mass Effect has a name, it’s Mass Effect: Andromeda. “Discover a new galaxy.”
  • Need for Speed. No subtitle. Customization, what a surprise. “A new narrative.” with five ways to play. November 3rd. Looks good. I’ve been playing a bunch of Wreckfest lately and getting back into arcade racing.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has a new expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire. October 27th. Free to paid subscribers, free 2 play players are left out I guess?
  • “…next two original IPs…” STOP SAYING “IP”
  • Unravel. A cat made out of yarn called Yarny. Puzzle-platformer. The yarn that Yarny is made out of unravels while you move. It’s nice to have a completely different tone to this than the extreme bro-ocity of Need For Speed.
  • Of course we have to revisit Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. A zombie walks out on stage in a super hero outfit. The Zombie is ushered offstage while a joke, “You can’t take Zombies anywhere.” is delivered flatly and received by the audience with no reaction. Excuse me while I take a 5 minute power nap. Zombie co-op mode called Graveyard Ops. Local split-screen. A timer on-screen reminds us that it is only 35 minutes to Star Wars: Battlefront. Garden Warfare 2 launches spring 2016. Free content updates are promised.
  • NHL 16. Lots of Tim Hortons advertisements on the boards.
  • PGA Tour.
  • EA Sports Ultimate Team. It’s the same dumb card game thing.
  • NBA Live 16. “Rooted in self-expression.” Hoop God is here to show us how to do stuff. Face scanning. Face scanning is the stuff Hoop God is here to show us how to do. September 29th. Phone app for the face scanning. Apparently it’s spelled THAHoopGawd. “Up your swag.” No, up your swag. Dude only has one tweet.
  • Here’s a little secret between you and me, I didn’t even know that the Golden State Warriors were a professional team and I’ve been in Oakland since 2011. I thought they were a college team.
  • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes collectible card game for phones.
  • Minions Paradise. I’ve never see any of the Despicable Me movies. This awful game has two currency systems on screen already.
  • Pelé is on screen talking over a montage of football video. Now he’s on stage. The crowd rose to all take cell-phone photos. Nobody think about the current FIFA scandal. Nothing is wrong in the world of football. Pelé is here to make you feel better.
  • FIFA 16. “Tons of innovations in our game.”  We’re once again reminded that it there are only 15 minutes until Star Wars: Battlefront. “Women’s teams are in the game. Okay, that’s legitimately innovative.
  • What would life be like if we willingly gave up our privacy?” I don’t know, is Eric Schmidt up next to tell us about how we’ve been doing that for years? Oh, never mind. It’s Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. “She doesn’t need any guns.” Correct, Faith doesn’t. Please don’t ruin Catalyst with them. In-engine footage. February 23rd, 2016. Awesome. The game looks like they’ve been inspired by the lens-flares of Mass Effect.
  • Madden 16. Some dude from ESPN 2. I just hear the trombone sound of the parents from Peanuts speaking. Draft Champions is helpfully on-screen because I had forgotten what they were talking about. Fantasy football. That’s what they were talking about. I’m checking on my Fallout: Shelter on the iPhone.
  • Fuck the timer, the Battlefront trailer is already on YouTube:
  • Peter Moore is speaking about Star Wars: Battlefront but not showing the trailer.
  • They’re finally playing some Star Wars music in the background and trying to convince us how much they care about Star Wars.
  • Multiplayer and AI battles for singleplayer.
  • They’re still not showing game footage on stage. They just keep talking.
  • They’re finally playing the exact same trailer that is on their YouTube channel. The view switches between first and third-person. The schwartz is strong with this one.
  • No Battlefield 5 mentioned during this one. Did they not want to confuse people or what?

That’s it.

Microsoft Xbox E3 2015 News

Watching the Xbox press briefing this morning. Here’s what got announced:

  • Stop saying IP. Holy crap that terminology is dumb.
  • Halo 5 has 12 v 12 multiplayer that looks like battlefield and what looks like 4 player co-op.
  • Something new from the folks behind Metroid Prime but it was just a trailer instead of gameplay footage. Robots and power spheres in the desert called ReCore.
  • Xbox One, like the 360, will have limited backwards compatibility with some Xbox 360 games. There’s a list of 100 games that’ll be available later this year. People on the invite-only dashboard preview program can get access to some of them today. More games will be added later on until Microsoft stops caring and they have already put the onus on developers/publishers to approve their games for backwards compatibility during the conference.
  • Fallout 4 mods will work on the Xbox One at no cost. Fallout 4 comes out this November.
  • Xbox One Elite controller, it’s customizable, changeable parts, paddles and extra buttons on the back.
  • Electronic Arts’ Access Vault garbage having more games available. Access Vault is EA’s subscription thing ($5/month) where you get early access to games via download.
  • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.
  • An advertisement for a new Ford car preceded a Forza Motorsport 6 reel.
  • Dark Souls III. Early 2016.
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: The Division beta this December exclusively for Xbox.
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Vegas 1 & 2 backwards compatibility this December. They’re free if you buy The Division. I loved Vegas 1 & 2.
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Seige comes out October 15th.
  • Tacoma from Fullbright looks awesome. Timed exclusive for Xbox and Windows. No specific date but out in 2016.
  • Ashen, not Ashens.
  • Beyond Eyes, Summer 2015. It’s a third person game.
  • Cuphead, 2D platformer that looks like the original Mickey Mouse and old Betty Boop cartoons. Exclusive. 2016.
  • Unfinished games come to Xbox with Game Preview. It’s Microsoft’s answer to Steam’s Early Access. Each game will have some kind of free trial version. The Long Dark, Sheltered, Elite: Dangerous, DayZ are the first announced games for it. All are already on Steam. Elite: Dangerous and The Long Dark will be available later today.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider, end of the year. Xbox exclusive. Pre-order now to commit your money before you know if it’s any good or not.
  • The rumored Rare game collection is real. RC Pro-Am, Solar JetmanKiller-Instinct, Battletoads, Blast Corps, 30 games total. $30. It’s called Rare Reply and it’ll be out August 4th. Battletoads still sucks. No Goldeneye, no Donkey Kong Country, of course.
  • Sea of Thieves from Rare, exclusive multiplayer Pirate adventuring.
  • Fable Legends. Free2play for Windows and Xbox.
  • A bunch of VR stuff. They’re working with Valve VR as well as Oculus to display games in 2d in both headsets when streamed from an Xbox One to Windows. Mixed-reality with Microsoft’s Hololens.
  • Apparently Mojang is pronounced Mo-yang. What.
  • Hololens will work with Minecraft. It’s 2D and displayed wherever as long as you have a Hololens device. Or it can be displayed on a physical table and it’s augmented reality-ified. Nifty.
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. August 25th. Xbox One version of the first Gears. 1-week public beta starts today.
  • New Gears of War. Looks good. Dark. Seems less bro-ver-the-top. It’s just called Gears 4. Late 2016.
  • There’s a new Xbox One UI coming.
  • I just got an e-mail from the Elite: Dangerous developer, Frontier, encouraging me to buy Elite for the Xbox One with a £5 gift code for the Elite store if I do. I don’t really see any reason why I would do that when I  have it on my computer and can display that on my TV with a long HDMI cable and a wireless controller. Or a Steam Link. Or a Steam Machine.
  • No Call of Duty at this event, no mention of Xbox on the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 banner outside the E3 building.

That’s it.

YouTube Gaming

Alan Joyce:

This summer, we’ll launch YouTube Gaming, a brand new app and website to keep you connected to the games, players, and culture that matter to you, with videos, live streams, and the biggest community of gamers on the web—all in one place.

YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favorite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else. From “Asteroids” to “Zelda,” more than 25,000 games will each have their own page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title. You’ll also find channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators.

Keeping up with these games and channels is now super easy, too. Add a game to your collection for quick access whenever you want to check up on the latest videos. Subscribe to a channel, and you’ll get a notification as soon as they start a live stream. Uncover new favorites with recommendations based on the games and channels you love. And when you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe.”

 Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve put them front-and-center on the YouTube Gaming homepage. And in the coming weeks, we’ll launch an improved live experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube. On top of existing features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, DVR, and automatically converting your stream into a YouTube video, we’re redesigning our system so that you no longer need to schedule a live event ahead of time. We’re also creating single link you can share for all your streams.

A sub-site specific to games with custom search isn’t going to solve everything wrong with using YouTube for game streaming and pre-recorded videos but the other changes are very important. Scheduling a live event ahead of time makes sense for developers and publishers live streaming but doesn’t always work for people like me who would rather build up an audience of subscribers who get notified when I go live.

The most important change YouTube could make is to recognize that I’m in a game and more intelligently handle copyright notices. Video games are full of copyrighted music, and without legal advisement it is difficult to navigate YouTube’s current copyright notice system. To be fair, YouTube is more intelligently handling that problem than Twitch’s policy of just muting the audio for the portion of the video where the copyrighted music is present. I’m still terrified that my YouTube account will get shut down if I dispute the copyright notices with a claim of fair use, which is the only way to get some videos to be viewable again in the United States.

Dongler

The Xbox One controller is getting an update. It’ll have a 3.5mm headset jack and better bumpers. More importantly, Microsoft is finally going to release the wireless dongle for computers to accept connections from XBone controllers. Previously you could connect it with a USB cable, it’ll be good to stop using the one from my Steam Controller.

I’ve got the wireless dingus for 360 controllers to connect to PC, but those adapters are not as easy to find anymore and the newer XBone controller is superior to the aging 360 pads in most ways. Hopefully this also puts an end to the days of people trying to use 360 play-n-charge kits to connect their gamepads to a computer. That never worked because the play-n-charge kit delivered power without a data signal.

There’s no release date yet for the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows other than “this fall.” It’ll cost $25 when it is released or $80 in a bundle with the updated controller.

The new controller will be available on it’s own much sooner, on June 16th for $60, to coincide with a new version of the Xbox One that includes a 1 terabyte hard drive at $400. That’s $50 more than the 500 gigabyte Xbox One. The hard drive will still not be user-replacable on either version of the console because Microsoft:

  1. Doesn’t trust their users to swap hard drives
  2. They don’t understand the value of designing that functionality
  3. They want to give people a reason to buy new consoles.

Pick one. Any way you look at the hard drive situation on the Xbox, it’s insulting to users.

You could take this to mean that Microsoft just wants to be ready in case Valve’s Steam Controller gains more of a foothold. You might be right, but I don’t take that this latest push from Microsoft to mean much. They’ve pretended to care about Windows gaming before.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

I loved DICE’s Mirror’s Edge and rated it highly. It was different from so many other first-person games in that the focus was on running and movement instead of combat.

The only real failures in the first game were when the game forced you into combat and a not-so-great story. The sequel to Mirror’s Edge was first announced in 2013 and DICE’s Sara Jansson finally gave it a name today:

Mirror’s Edge has always had a special place in the hearts of all of us at DICE. The first game had a lot of promise. It was unlike anything else in terms of the gameplay and style — it had a unique soul. But as much as we loved that game, we knew it could be more. So that’s what we have set out to do as we introduce Mirror’s Edge to a new generation.

The team has spent a lot of time re-evaluating every aspect of the game and making it a new experience. This is not a sequel, this is not Mirror’s Edge 2. We have landed on a vision that honors the first game — pushing the boundaries of first person movement and diving deeper into the story behind our heroine Faith — but also brings a lot of great new, interesting gameplay and features to the experience for our players.

So on behalf on the entire team here at DICE, we can’t wait to show you what we have been pouring our heart and soul into. We can’t wait to introduce you to Mirror’s Edge™ Catalyst.

Steam Machines, Controller, Link up for Order

In addition to refunds, we have pre-orders available for the first three pieces of Valve’s Steam-appointed hardware.

Steam Machines. They’re from third parties like Alienware, they run Valve’s SteamOS variant of Linux and play games on Linux via Steam or can stream games from a Windows desktop in another part of your home. If you pre-order you can get one a month early on October 16th The machines available for pre-order today a range of prices from $450 to $1,419. Everyone else can get them when they’re released November 10th.

It’s still ridiculously awesome to see hardware manufacturers shipping a Linux-based gaming computer. After buying boxed games over a decade ago for Linux, watching it all burn down only to be resurrected through downloadable ports via Valve and the Humble Bundle. Not since the days of Civilization: Call to Power have Linux gamers had this much reason to be hopeful for the future. The Linux-based computers are almost as strange as the fact that some of the pre-orders are being handled through GameStop.

The second item in the pre-order lineup isn’t as hopeful. For those that want to spend far less and just want to stream from another gaming computer in their home to their TV there is the Steam Link. At the moment though, people who order the Link won’t be running any version of SteamOS’ Linux and won’t be downloading Linux games. Maybe in the future it’ll seem like a better option to get a Steam Link and stream games from a more powerful Linux machine. The Link is $50. Just like with the Steam Machine, the Steam Link can be pre-ordered for arrival on the 16th of October. Everyone else has to wait for the tenth of November.

Finally we have the controller. I’ve had the prototype model along with the Gigabyte Brix Steam Machine for over a year. This controller design looks incredibly different from the prototype and I don’t know what to expect at all in terms of usefulness. The prototype ended up being fun to try for a while but was only a stepping stone to this final design. The Steam Controller is $50 and has the same mid-October availability for pre-orders and November for not-pre-orders.

Sensing the potential for maximum confusion at the Steam Controller’s presence in a world dominated by 360, Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers, Valve has created a trailer for potential controller purchasers to make up their minds. I don’t recall ever watching a trailer with this much production expense having gone into it just for a controller. Unless they were up for crowd funding. Almost more ridiculous than Valve’s foray into the living room involving Linux is that these cross-platform supporters still require Adobe Flash plugin in Apple’s Safari web browser to watch videos or you get this unplayable mess:

Steam controller flash failure

Steam Refunds

Valve just added refunds to Steam. CD Projekt’s Gog and Electronic Arts’ Origin already had similar policies.

If you’ve played a game for two or fewer hours, and want your money back within the first two weeks of your purchase? You can get your money back. It’s great.

Got an incomplete game in Steam’s Early Access program that isn’t what you expected or maybe just a game that is completely broken? Get your money back.

Where it falls apart is for developers who must have questions that mostly have bad answers.

What if a game takes less than two hours to complete and players ask for refunds?

What if a player buys the game, plays it offline and completes it in less than two weeks and asks for a refund?

Right now, it seems like developers are screwed in those situation. The game is done. The player gets their money back.

Valve has said the rules are flexible for users who have played more than two hours or who have had the game in their Steam library for more than two weeks. They’ll still be able to get refunds.

What if that flexibility extended to developers who could specify a length of time their game takes to complete, and then the refund system could factor in a percentage of that time to allow for refunds? A two hour game could give you 25 minutes to decide if it’s good or not.

Having a standard policy for customer service agents to apply to every piece of software and refund situation on the service makes it easier for players as well as Valve’s customer service agents to apply that policy but Valve should be flexible enough in their technology as well as their application of this policy to not ruin the experience for developers who want to take risks by making shorter games that don’t require you to be online in Steam to play them.

It’s always better for a policy and system to focus on benefits for the people that use them, even over the needs of the people who feed these systems with software. Doing the right thing for their customers is why companies like Valve and Apple succeed where so many others fail. Overall, this policy is great. I’m just not sure about the two-hours.