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Updated: 32 weeks 4 days ago

Conan Exiles Devs Want To Add A Castration Mechanic

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 10:00

Conan Exilesgleefully dangling unmentionables could one day become a hot in-game collectible. During a Reddit AMA session held over the weekend, developer Funcom put ritual castration on the table.

Along with promising to continue to tweak performance and working to make combat in the open-world survival game more enjoyable in the early access game, Funcom also fielded questions about one of Conan Exiles’ more infamous features, the ability to create completely nude male and female player characters, complete with penis and breast size slider options.

We discussed nudity early on and decided that for the lore and setting, nudity was something we wanted to go with. The slider was a natural evolution of that, especially seeing we had a similar slider for breasts. Equality and all that.

Funcom’s previous Conan game, the MMORPG Age of Conan, launched with breast sliders and topless options for female characters, but no male equivalent.

But now there are dicks and balls everywhere, depending on player preference, and should Funcom’s grisly trophy suggestion come to fruition, I do mean everywhere. Responding to a question about the planned ability for players to drag their enemies to sacrificial altars for a huge power boost, Funcom went into the possibility of collecting bits of your enemies as trophies.

In addition we really want you to be able to harvest the heads of your foes and stick them on spikes outside and around your bases. Maybe even at some point...castration.

Now before you go imagining a necklace of wind-swept dicks, remember that castration is the removal of the testicles, which would probably make for nicer jewelry anyway.

It’s an interesting (if grisly) idea, though it does seem to exempt female character players from the . . . I was going to go with fun, but now I am all confused.

Conan Exiles is currently on early access on Steam, with plans to release on Xbox One in the spring.

Celebrate Valentine's Day (?) With a Ton of Great Anker Discounts

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 09:37

I’m not sure that Anker products would really make the best Valentine’s Day gifts, but that’s not going to stop them from offering a ton of discounts and promo codes. Below, you’ll find your favorite charging cables, battery packs, and Bluetooth headphones, the most popular string lights we’ve ever listed, and a lot more. Just be sure to note the promo codes.

CablesChargersBattery PacksAudioLightingMobile Accessories

Nintendo Literally Switched The Super Bowl

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 09:30
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Nine minutes and 40 seconds before the end of Super Bowl 51, the Atlanta Falcons were about to cap off what had until then been a snoozer. Leading 28-12, the Falcons had a 99.9% win probability and had just gotten the ball back, giving them the chance to truly heal America by defeating the New England Patriots. Then, things... switched?

Just before the Falcons’ drive, the Super Bowl gods decided to air this commercial:

Three plays later, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower strip-sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and New England recovered, leading to a Danny Amendola touchdown. 28-20.

After a beautiful Atlanta drive (complete with an unreal Julio Jones catch) that took them to the Patriots’ 22, where a field goal would have essentially ended the game, Kyle Shanahan forgot he wasn’t on the 49ers yet and bungled everything, calling two pass plays that led to a sack, a holding call, and an incompletion. Suddenly, the Falcons were on the Patriots’ 45 and had to give the ball back to Tom Brady with 3:38 to go.

Brady drove for a touchdown, of course, and the subsequent two-point conversion made it 28-28. After winning the coin toss in overtime, the Patriots completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, much to the chagrin of millions of Americans. And it’s all Nintendo’s fault.

As NeoGAF user MarioLinkSamus points out—well, just look at this chart:

Nintendo handed Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their fifth Super Bowl victory, cementing their statuses as the greatest quarterback and coach of all time, and proving once again that the world is a horrible place. Just when we thought the Falcons might finally help America heal. Thanks, Nintendo.

Today's Best Deals: Anker Smart Scale, H&R Block, Stanley Bottles, and More

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 07:51

Tax software, Stanley drink vessels, and Anker’s brand new smart scale lead off Monday’s best deals.

Bookmark Kinja Deals and follow us on Twitter to never miss a deal. Don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter.

Top DealsH&R Block Software Gold Box

If you still haven’t gotten around to doing your taxes, you’ve got a big advantage over the early birds: Huge discounts on H&R Block tax filing software, courtesy of Amazon.

Those crossed out MSRPs you see? Those are the prices H&R Block actually charges, so we’re talking about serious savings here. If you need help deciding which tier to buy, H&R Block has a handy comparison chart here.

The best part? When you file through this software, you can opt to receive all or a portion of your refund in the form of an Amazon gift card, which will net you a 10% bonus. So a $1,000 refund could become $1,100 in your Amazon account, which would more than make up for the cost of the software.

Just note that like all Gold Box deals, these prices are only available today, so don’t miss out.

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair), $230

Update: These went up to $240 basically right as I published this post. That’s still a really good price for them, but obviously not quite as good as $230.

$230 might seem like a lot to spend on a set of dumbbells, but these Bowflex adjustable models take up way less room than a full rack of weights, and certainly cost less over time than a gym membership.

Still not convinced? They have a 4.7 star review average from over 3,000 Amazon customers, and today’s all-time low price easily tops the $250 deal we saw around Black Friday.

Eufy BodySense Smart Scale, $40 | Black with code KINJA110, white with code KINJA888

Anker just unveiled its very first smart bathroom scale, and as you might expect from one of our readers’ favorite manufacturers, it’s really good.

Update: You guys bought literally all of the white scales, and ran through the promo code redemption limit for the black one, but you can still buy it for $50.

As part of a limited time launch sale, you can save $10 on the Eufy (that’s Anker’s brand for home goods) BodySense Smart Scale with promo code KINJA110 (black) or KINJA888 (white).

In addition to functioning as a normal digital bathroom scale, the BodySense can measure metrics such as body fat percentage and body water, and sync all of that data over Bluetooth to your iOS or Android smartphone. You can see my impressions here, but it’s the most seamless and reliable smart scale I’ve ever personally used, and a great deal at $40.

12-Pack Philips LED Bulbs, $26

When you can get a dozen Philips LED bulbs for just $26, there’s really no reason not to upgrade every lamp in your house. These put out the brightness equivalent of a 60W incandescent, but with only 9W of electricity each. Plus, many local utility companies offer rebates when you buy these things, so they should pay for themselves in short order.

A few caveats to mention: These bulbs aren’t dimmable, which is par for the course at this price, but just be aware of it. Also, they’re daylight bulbs, which are great in rooms where you want to be active (think offices, the kitchen, bathrooms), but aren’t ideal in rooms where you want to relax. For those, you’ll want to opt for soft white bulbs for a few dollars more.

Moto Z 64GB Unlocked, $450

While not perfect, the Moto Z is fairly unique in its ability to augment its capabilities via Moto Mods, and you can get started with the handset for $450 unlocked from B&H today, with no sales tax outside of New York and New Jersey.

That’s still not an inexpensive phone, but the $250 you saved can go towards mods like the Hasselblad camera attachment, the Moto Insta-Share projector, or the JBL SoundBoost speaker mod.

Thermos Vacuum Insulated 16 Oz. Stainless Steel Bottle, $18

You know what they say; once you go vacuum insulated stainless steel, you never go back. This spacious 16 ounce Thermos can keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours, or hot for up to 12, and its lid even doubles as a cup to help avoid spillage. This model’s price fluctuates a lot, but today’s $18 deal is the best Amazon’s ever listed.

Kubo and the Two Strings (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD), $12

Kubo and the Two Strings has everything a perfect family movie could need: beautiful animation, anthropomorphic animals, and a feisty, young main character that has to save the day. And for $12, it’s something that should be on your Blu-ray shelf.

Crest Sample Box, $5 + $5 Amazon Credit

Everyone reading this (hopefully) brushes their teeth, so this Amazon sample box should be a no-brainer. $5 gets you a trial-sized floss, two Crest 1-hour express whitestrips, and 2.5 ounces of toothpaste, which is a perfect size for flying.

You should know the drill by now, but once you get your box, your Amazon account will automatically be credited $5 to spend on dozens of oral care products. Some of them are things you’d buy anyway, so you’ll essentially get the sample box for free.

Stanley Deal of the Day 

Conceal your booze or just safely bring some liquid camping thanks to this Stanley Gold Box from Amazon. This brand has been around for over 100 years and for good reason. The vacuum-sealed steel design basically started the craze of finding the best place to put hot or cold liquids and keep them that way.

Here are a few styles, but definitely check out Amazon for the rest.

Breville 1.8 Liter Kettle, $80

Electric kettles are the fastest and most efficient way to boil water, and if you’re going to buy one, you might as well go all out. Breville’s 1.8 liter kettle features five different water temperatures for different types of tea, plus boil dry protection. It also looks really pretty, which counts for a lot in my book.

Until today, Amazon’s never sold this thing for less than $99, so I wouldn’t hesitate at $80 if you’re in the market.

Bonavita BV1800SS, $107

The Bonavita BV1800 is your favorite coffee maker, and you can snag one with a stainless steel carafe for $107 today, which is easily the best price we’ve ever seen.

Our readers praised the Bonavita’s shower head system for saturating the beans to extract the most flavor, and added that its carafe can keep keep the finished product hot for hours on end. Sounds like a winner to me.

$25 AMC Gift Card + $5 Bonus, $25

If your movie theater of choice is run by AMC, there’s no reason not to buy this $30 gift card for $25. That’s an extra $5 you can spend on popcorn, which might even get you a small in certain cities.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience, $30

Metal Gear Solid V is still one of the best games you can play on the current generation of consoles, and the definitive edition, complete with all DLC, is a no-brainer at $30 if you don’t already own it.

Anker Valentine’s Day Discounts

I’m not sure that Anker products would really make the best Valentine’s Day gifts, but that’s not going to stop them from offering a ton of discounts and promo codes.

There are too many deals to list here, but we have them all broken out on this post. You’ll find our readers’ favorite charging cables, battery packs, and Bluetooth headphones, the most popular string lights we’ve ever listed, and a lot more. Just be sure to note the promo codes.

Topist Folding Camp Shovel, $9

This $9 camping tool is less than 6" long folded, and weighs under a pound, and yet it’s a shovel, hoe, compass, saw, nail puller, pickaxe and bottle opener all in one. Frankly, I doubt it’s amazing at any of those tasks, but versatility counts for a lot when you’re carrying everything on your back.

Love Home Premium Memory Foam Car Lumbar Cushion, $20. Discount shown at checkout.

As a rule, car seats don’t have enough lumbar support, but that’s easy to fix with this memory foam cushion. It’s listed on Amazon for $50, but that’s currently dropping to $20 automatically at checkout, while supplies last.

Save 15% off select Waterpik products

Waterpik is an easier (and they would argue more effective) way to “floss” between your teeth, and Amazon is taking 15% off select Waterpik products. Just remember to clip the coupon, and note that the discount isn’t shown until checkout.

The discount is on two styles: the Complete Care kit, which comes with the flosser and a sonic tooth brush, and a wireless version of the Waterpik.

20% off select insulated outerwear, footwear, and winter gear with the code SNOW

You probably already got your Bean boots and are ready for whatever 2017 throws at you (weather-wise, at least). But if you need to replace a few things, say gloves or a coat, L.L.Bean is giving you up to 20% off a ton of insulated outerwear and footwear, plus some great winter gear when you use the code SNOW.

And if you didn’t grab Bean boots, they aren’t marked down, but there are a ton of other options for great weatherproof boots on sale.

UE MEGABOOM, $190

Ultimate Ears’ MEGABOOM Bluetooth speaker is the extra large, waterproof version of the best Bluetooth speaker on the market, and Amazon’s marked the Electric Blue model down to $190 today, one of the best prices we’ve seen.

Leeo Smart Alert Smoke/CO Remote Alarm, $29

Smoke and CO alarms can keep you safe while you’re at home, but they’re totally useless if something goes haywire while you’re away. Leeo fixes that by alerting you on your phone whenever they go off, and you can get yours for just $29 today, or about $20 less than usual.

To be clear, Leeo isn’t a smoke or CO alarm on its own; it’s basically an internet-connected microphone that listens for your existing alarms. It can also alert emergency services and/or neighbors if you’re away from your phone, and it even operates as a full RGB night light that you can control from your phone or via IFTTT. That’s a ton of features for under $30.

OxyLED Smart Fridge Light, $10 with code OXYLDN03

OxyLED has been selling stick-anywhere LED lights in every shape and size for years, but their newest model might be the coolest one yet.

Functionally, it’s a motion-sensing battery powered-light like many of OxyLED’s others, but the design is 100% new. Instead of sticking the whole thing to a surface with adhesive, this two-piece setup includes a base that attaches with magnets or adhesive, and a separate light module that nests magnetically inside, allowing you to point it in any direction you want.

That means you can remove the light from the base at any time to charge it, or even to use it as a portable flashlight. Just be sure to use promo code OXYLDN03 at checkout to save $5.

DYMO LabelManager 160, $10

A good label maker is something everyone should own, and the top-selling DYMO LabelManager 160 is back in stock for just $10 today, matching an all-time low.

If you remember the old label makers that literally pressed the letters into a piece of tape, this is a bit more advanced than what you’re picturing. The Dymo LabelManager 160 can print in eight fonts at six sizes, along with clipart and special characters, and you can even preview the entire label on its LCD screen before you print.

We’ve seen this deal before, but it usually sells out quickly, so act fast.

Logitech G602 Gaming Mouse, $40

Logitech’s G602 is more than enough gaming mouse for most people—we’re talking 250 hour battery life, 11 programmable buttons, and per-user programmable DPI settings—and it can be yours for $40 today, if you’re a Prime member. That’s a match for the best price we’ve ever seen.

VicTsing Shower Speaker, $15 with code 3OO2QN5I

Whether you love to sing in the shower, or just need more time to catch up on your podcasts, everyone should own a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker when they only set you back $15.

Fire Tablet, $40 | Kindle, $60 | Kindle Paperwhite, $100 | Kindle Voyage, $180

Amazon just kicked off another of its periodic Fire and Kindle device deals, with $10-$20 off various devices, and up to $45 off bundles that include chargers, cases, and more.

These could make great Valentine’s gifts for the right kind of person, but we aren’t sure how long the price drops will last, so check them out here.

WD 2TB Elements 2TB Hard Drive, $70

The next PS4 firmware update will finally let you store games on external hard drives, and $70 is about as cheap as you’ll see 2TB models.

Tile is the ultimate device for anyone who can’t stop losing her things, and a single Tile Slim is back down to its best price ever of $25.

If you aren’t familiar, you just slide this thing into your wallet, keep it in your car, stick it in your luggage...anything you frequently misplace, and the Tile app on your phone can ping them over Bluetooth and cause them to beep until you find what you’re looking for. And if your lost item is outside of your phone’s Bluetooth range, it’ll show up on a map automatically any time another Tile user comes into range.

Today’s $25 deal on the Tile Slim is $5 less than usual, and a match for Black Friday if you missed out last year.

$10 credit towards anime video games with anime movie purchase

Can’t get enough anime? For a limited time, if you buy select anime Blu-rays or DVDs, you’ll get a $10 credit from Amazon to spend on select anime video games for PS4 and Xbox One. Just note that you won’t get the code until your movie ships, so keep that URL handy.

USB-C/QC 2.0 Power Receptacle, $27 with code N5OI53XR | QC 2.0 Power Receptacle, $25 with code HNOHZFWT

Our readers have upgraded a lot of AC power receptacles with USB charging ports over the last few years, but if you were holding out for more future-proof options with USB-C and Quick Charge technology, today’s your lucky day.

Top Greener’s brand new receptacles include either two Quick Charge USB-A ports, or one QC port and a USB-C port for your newer devices, and both are on sale today, plus modest additional discounts with the promo codes listed below. Unfortunately, you will sacrifice one of your AC outlets for the privilege, but chances are, you already have some USB charging bricks plugged in at all times throughout your house anyway.

There are also Quick Charge 3.0 versions of the same receptacles available, but unfortunately they aren’t on sale.

AmazonBasics 12-Pack AAA Batteries, $12

You’ve probably got a bunch of rechargeable AA batteries lying around, but if you need some AAAs to go with them, AmazonBasics’ 12-pack is down to just $12 right now.

RAVPower 8-Outlet/3-USB Surge Protector, $20

You can never have enough power outlets, and you can never have enough USB charging ports, but this $20 surge protector from RAVPower gets you a little bit closer to charging nirvana.

Suaoki Air Compressor, $30 with code 5EDE6JOQ

There are few things more irritating than noticing your tires are low on air, and then having to find a bunch of quarters, driving to the gas station, and cursing the heavens when the compressor shuts off before you’ve finished filling all four.

Instead, just buy this tiny $30 compressor, and fill up your own tires from anywhere. You can thank me later.

Beurer Foot Massager, $58 | Naipo Cordless Neck and Shoulder Massager, $75 with code 321off25 | Naipo Neck and Shoulder Massager, $36 with code 28off150

It’s been a...stressful few weeks for many of us, so turn off Twitter and treat yourself to a massage at home with these discounts. Then do it again, and again, and again, and ag....

Note: It’s not obvious from the images below, but the $75 Naipo includes a two hour battery, while the less expensive model needs to be plugged in.

Buy Five Items, Get Free Shipping

Amazon’s Prime Pantry service has kicked off February with a pair of free shipping promotions.

If the $6-per-box Prime Pantry delivery fee is scaring you off, it’s easy to avoid by including any five items from this page in your box. There are hundreds of eligible products from across every major category, so you should have no trouble finding five that you were going to buy anyway. If you meet this requirement, you’ll see the $6 shipping fee waived at checkout.

If you somehow don’t find five items that you want, you can also add some from this “Made For Super Bowl” promotion. You won’t get your items by Sunday, but there’s never a bad time to eat Stacy’s Pita Chips. It’s the same free shipping offer, but you could combine items from both pages to get the deal.

The best part? If you have a Prime Pantry shipping credit on your Amazon account for choosing no-rush shipping on a previous order, that will stack with this deal, saving you an extra $6.

Aukey Apple Watch Charging Stand with Suction Cup, $6 with code AUKEYLYU

There are probably thousands of Apple Watch charging stands out there, but basically every one I’ve seen shares the same problem: They slide all over your nightstand when you try to pull the watch off its magnetic charger.

Aukey seems to have solved that with an ingeniously simple suction cup on the bottom of its new stand. It’s a little thing, but you’ll appreciate it every night, and what’s $6 to someone who spent $270+ on an Apple Watch?

Note: This doesn’t include any actual charging hardware: Like most Apple Watch charging stands, it’s basically just housing for the included charger.

Aukey Car Mount, $6 with code AUKEYLYU

Aukey’s simple magnetic smartphone vent holder is one of the most popular car mounts out there, and from personal experience, I can tell you it’s awesome for taking on vacation for use in a rental car as well. For $6, go ahead, give it a try.

Aukey USB Wall Charger, $6 with code ZOERF9IO

You know the little charging brick that came with your phone? Throw it out, and spend $6 on this replacement from Aukey (white only with code ZOERF9IO). It’s basically the same size as Apple’s standard iPhone charger, but it includes two ports, folding prongs, and 2.4A of current (shared between the ports) to charge your devices faster.

Optimum Nutrition 30th Anniversary Gold Standard Protein Powder Set, $46 after $25 coupon

If you still haven’t given up on your New Year’s resolution to build muscle, Amazon’s selling an Optimum Nutrition protein combo pack with everything you need. You get 28 servings of whey, 30 servings of pre and post-workout blends, and even a mixing bottle for kicks.

The kit is currently listed for $71, which is about $10-$15 less than buying all the supplements separately, but for a limited time, a $25 on-page coupon will bring that all the way down to $46.

TechStoragePowerAudioHome TheaterComputers & AccessoriesPC PartsMobile DevicesPhotographyHomeKitchenTools & AutoLifestyleApparelBeauty & GroomingCamping & OutdoorsMediaMovies & TVBooksGamingPeripheralsPCPlayStation 4Xbox OneToys

Star Wars: Battlefront III Lives On In Battlefront II Mod 

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 18:30

While we wait for the full fan-made remake of the cancelled Star Wars: Battlefront III, another team is already releasing betas for a similar project. Only theirs is about modding Battlefront II and adding in a bunch of Battlefront III stuff in over the top of it.

Star Wars Battlefront III Legacy is a mod for Battlefront II that not only imports assets from the numerous leaked/cancelled versions of Battlefront III, but also adds a bunch of new stuff to the ol’ shooter, like a new HUD and new maps.

Here’s some footage from the mod’s latest open beta:

Because the mod is still a work in progress, not everything is in or working 100%, but you can now play as every class from Clone Wars, as a number of heroes like Obi-Wan, Anakin and General Grievous and on two maps that allow for seamless travel between the ground battle and space.

The beta is open, and you can grab the files needed to play it (if you have Battlefront II) here.

Making Minecraft Maps Beautiful

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 18:00

Minecraft may be practical, but its simple visuals can also be, for some folks, a bit gross. Which is why things like Chunky exist, to help make blocky maps beautiful.

Here’s what a “realistic” map looks like in vanilla Minecraft:

It looks like Civilization II with the UI turned off.

Here, though, Darastlix has shared an image of the same map, only this time it’s been run through Chunky, a tool that can render Minecraft maps and make them look like this:

Gorgeous.

Note that this isn’t a tool for playing Minecraft. Chunky takes map files and “renders” them, which means crunching the map and giving the blocks a more natural appearance. It can take hours to process a single image like this, and it can only handle vanilla Minecraft terrain blocks (no players, mobs, etc), so it’s mostly just a tool for making very pretty wallpaper.

Another Game Based On An Old WarCraft III Mod

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:30

DOTA might be the most high profile WarCraft III mod to be turned into an actual video game, but it’s not the only one. There’s also Ruin, a “top-down arcade style arena brawler” based on a popular old WCIII mod called Warlock Brawl.

It’s kind of like DOTA (as you’d expect, given their shared lineage), only instead of being a straight MOBA this is more of a brawler. Think DOTA’s controls, only expressed through the medium of Smash Bros.

Ruin is currently up on Kickstarter. If you want to (kinda) try it out to see what it’s like, the original creators of Warlock Brawl updated the mod recently to work in DOTA 2, and you can get that here.

Valve Removes Counter-Strike's Dust2 Map From Competitive Play

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:00

On Friday, Valve announced it was removing the CS:GO’s Dust2 from the Active Duty group. While the beloved map will still be playable in casual matches, it’s been replaced by Inferno for tournaments, making it the end of an era for the biggest shooter in esports.

Valve made the switch in the aftermath of the ELEAGE Major 2017, stating, “Inferno has returned to Active Duty, replacing Dust2, and will be featured at the next CS:GO Major. As in the past, the updated Active Duty pool is automatically selected when you enter Matchmaking.”

Dust2 was instead given its own category, meaning players can select to only play that map in casual and deathmatch modes—a testament to the level’s popularity and iconic status.

But while teams in qualifying for the upcoming IEM Katowice 2017 tournament still played on the map this weekend, going forward they will need to be prepared to compete on its replacement: Inferno. Featuring a village with narrower streets and busy architecture, Inferno is a big departure from the sand blasted compound feel of Dust2.

Dust2 was originally designed by David Johnston back in 2001 as a follow-up to his first Dust map. Writing about his design process a few years ago, Johnston said he wanted to create a worthy successor to Dust that was nevertheless its own thing. “I had to ensure that this new map had everything in common with Dust, without actually being Dust,” wrote Johnston.

This meant borrowing the iconic features of his earlier map, like its arches, roads, and building trim, but not overusing them. For the trim in particular, Johnston wrote that it was “incredibly important in a world that was almost otherwise entirely made of the same color stone.” As a result, he came up with rules for how to break up the monotony of the maps buildings and backgrounds without making them too busy.

“The trim would never appear on a floor or ceiling, or anywhere a player could stand on it. It would never be striped or tiled vertically across a surface. Finally, for any given flat wall, it would never appear more than twice (e.g. at the top, and at the bottom, but never in the middle as well.)”

As for its layout, Johnston wanted to keep the compact form of the original while also letting the action breathe a little. “In it’s most basic form, Dust was little more than a figure-of-eight that had grown a pair of arms and legs, centralizing the battles but providing tactical wiggle room,” he wrote.

Most notable about the map’s overall design, however, was a random mistake on Johnston’s part that ended up being responsible for one Dust2’s most memorable features. Like an artist who starts painting a still life without organizing its composition on the canvas first, he literally ran out of space.

“I had inadvertently built the map and filled in the details in such a way that I was now hitting the very edge of the permitted space allowed by Worldcraft,” wrote Johnston. “But, rather than just moving the entire map a few thousand units in the opposite direction, I stuck with it, and that’s how the Terrorist spawn area ended up so long in the final revision.”

But it turned out to be for the best. Worried at the time that his creation was too compressed, Johnston recently tweeted that it was was a blessing in disguise. “It completely changed the map—and for the better,” he said few days ago. “It could have been another mideast.bsp monstrosity were it not for this.”

Instead, thanks to a serendipitous lack of planning, Dust2 went on to become one of the most loved and quintessentially Counter-Strike maps out there. “Honestly I still find it remarkable people still want to play Dust2 as I never expected the map to survive longer than a few months,” said Johnston in an email. He’s not sad to see it removed from competitive play either, since he thinks it will help restore more variety to the map pool. “There are so many fantastic CS:GO maps that really don’t get the playtime they deserve, so it’s about time too,” he said. “The fact there’s now a Dust2-only pool is a nice throwback to the old days of the server browser being flooded with ‘Dust 24/7' servers!”

Inferno returns after being reworked in a major update last fall, and some are hopeful that Valve has similar plans for Dust2. But in classic Valve fashion, the company remains cryptic about what exactly the future holds for classic map and the esport that has grown up around it.

The Week In Games: The Samurai Man Cometh

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 16:15

Samurai Dark Souls is finally here. And not much else.

I say “finally” because Nioh, a game that felt like a samurai take on Souls, and in fact turned out to be basically exactly that, actually began its journey over a decade ago back in 2004. The game is based on an abandoned script by famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. The game was originally slated for PS3, because, you know, it was 2005 and all, but had to eventually be pushed back

Nioh will kill you a lot. Being in development hell for over ten years will do that kind of thing to a game. Thankfully, it’s the dead of winter so there’s plenty of time for that sort of thing.

Monday, February 6
  • How to Survive 2 — PS4  
  • So Many Me! — PS4  
Tuesday, February 7
  • Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book — PC
  • WWE 2K17 — PC
  • Splasher — PC
  • Nioh — PS4
  • 8Days — PS4 
  • Kitty Powers Matchmaker — PS4
  • The Onion Knights — PS4
  • Ping Pong VR — PSVR
  • Super Gunworld 2 — PS4
  • Uncanny Valley — PS4, Vita 
Thursday, February 9
  • Nights of Azure — PC 
  • Brut@l — PC  
Friday, February 10
  • Uncanny Valley — Xbox One

Coming Soon

Tuesday, February 14

  • De-formers — Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • For Honor — Xbox One, PS4, PC 
  • Ride 2 — Xbox One, PS4
  • Sniper Elite 4 — Xbox One, PS4, PC  
  • MX Nitro — Xbox One 
  • Boor — PC 

Friday, February 17

  • How to Survive 2 — Xbox One, PS4

What else is coming out soon? Planning to play something on Steam or mobile? Tell us about it in the comments.

Katana Zero has a new trailer that shows off some of the game’s story in addition to fast-paced “ne

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 14:10

Katana Zero has a new trailer that shows off some of the game’s story in addition to fast-paced “neo-noir” action shown previously. Being developed by Askiisoft with a release targeted for sometime later this year, the game features time-dilation and a synth-80s vibe that still feels fresh.

Real Life Operators Bring Some Gravitas To Competitive Gaming By Standing Awkwardly On Stage

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 12:51

The Rainbow Six Invitational is a tournament going on right now for the latest Tom Clancy military shooter. So of course the event needed to have real life operators on stage to drill home just how bad ass the whole thing totally was.

The event’s host, Matt Andrews, was really pumped about the whole thing. “They actually helped with the motion capture and the military design,” he shouted.

Professional sports like football have a longstanding relationship with the military. The Defense Department pays out millions to have patriotic events during games and of course putting your hand over your heart for the national anthem at the start of a baseball game is so normal no one even bats an eye.

Competitive gaming doesn’t do subtle though, so esports like Rainbow Six Siege need to have masked agents decked out in all kids of random gear toting fake guns around to help keep things grounded in the reality that inspired them.

The game itself has been called “disturbingly real.” Fortunately, I don’t think anyone will be saying the same about the faux-Rainbow Six operators flexing their guns on stage in Montreal.

Tfw the extras from a Michael Bay movie have your back

As a game, Rainbow Six Siege is based around two competing groups of players, where one is tasked with deactivating a bomb or freeing hostages while the other tries to play defense. Part of the strategy involved comes from picking which operators to play a match as since each has different pros and cons. As Ubisoft, the game’s publisher, put it in the marketing materials,

“Do you prefer the brute force of a shotgun over the control of a rifle? What about said shotgun paired with the destructive power of a massive sledgehammer? Each of the classes in Rainbow Six Siege, dubbed Operators, comes locked and loaded with his or her own special tool...”

But Rainbow Six Siege’s tenuous connection to reality was enough to fool Ron Paul, or at least one of his staffers. Last year, the former Congressman posted a picture of the game’s operators on Facebook alongside a critique of the FBI. After watching stuff like this though, I can’t blame him.

The Director Of Dissidia Final Fantasy Thinks It Could Be An Esport

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 11:35

Dissidia Final Fantasy came out over a year ago in Japan as an arcade game, but a console version is apparently still in the works.

In a recent interview with Weekly Famitsu the game’s producer, Ichirou Hazama, and director, Takeo Kujiraoka, said that the only reason a console version of Dissidia Final Fantasy wasn’t shown at the recent Final Fantasy 30th anniversary event was because development of a single-player campaign has slowed things down. According to Gematsu’s translation of the interview, Hazama said the console port didn’t currently have “enough value” to warrant showing anything to the public.

“Many users are expecting a story for the console version, which we are of course preparing. However, the focus of the game is battles and that has not changed. We will further enhance other elements as well, which will take a little bit more time.”

Image credit: Jpellgen.

But that doesn’t mean the console version isn’t still on its way. In fact, Kujiraoka suggested that Dissidia Final Fantasy’s potential as a competitive fighting game might propel it not just onto consoles but also into markets outside of Japan.

“If we can export it to the world as a high-proficiency, competitive fighting tool, while also an enjoyable team battle Final Fantasy, it might even rise up as an e-Sports event. If that happens, then next will be a global tournament, right? I can’t say too much, but I want to use these sorts of ambitions to make Dissidia Final Fantasy an even better game.”

Square Enix has been toying with the idea of trying to create an esport-friendly game for a few years now, most recently with Flame x Blaze, a MOBA-style game in the mold of League of Legends or Dota 2 designed for smartphones. The 3 vs. 3 setup makes it look similar to Vainglory, but while the game is in beta for Japan, there’s still no Western release date. In an earnings report from late 2015, the company said it would be “tenacious” in its pursuit of esports, despite not yet being able to make any money from it.

“We are less-experienced in the new genre of e-sports, which prevented us from gaining player acceptance in some cases. While we need to work to develop e-sports offerings over the long term, we wanted to recognize the valuation losses on our books earlier rather than later,” said the report.

Months prior to that report, Square Enix president and CEO Yosuke Matsuda said in an interview with Nikkei that the company was putting energy into esports prior to the 2015 Tokyo Game Show.

“When it comes to eSports, if there are the core [games] that pros get into for the prize money, then are also the more relaxed esports out there,” he said. “Our company’s European studio offers Nosgoth, which is currently managed as an open-beta, and it is highly reputed by the western players, so I believe we’d like to continue growing it into a more hardcore esports title. Even the foreign pro teams out there have been noticing it.”

A free-to-play spin-off of Legacy of Kain, Nosgoth was developed by Psyonix, the creators of Rocket League. But unlike the studio’s game about cars with rocket packs ramming giant inflatable balls into nets which did become a popular game and successful esport, Nosgoth never caught on, despite Matsuda’s enthusiasm. Early last year, the servers were shutdown.

It’s possible Dissidia Final Fantasy could break that trend given the popularity of the series characters and the fact that the game has already been out in the wild for over a year. The arcade game even runs on PS4 hardware, so creating a console version shouldn’t be a monumental task. Plus, it was developed by Team Ninja, the company behind the Dead or Alive series. While Dead or Alive 5: Last Round isn’t at the top of most people’s fighting game lists, the game has a dedicated community of competitive players that offers a blueprint for how something like Dissidia could grow beyond the Japanese arcades its currently confined to.

Football: The Kotaku Review

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 10:00

If Football—that is, the American National Football League football—used the same naming scheme as “Dungeons & Dragons,” we’d call it “Beer Commercials & Cheerleaders.”

Like dungeons and dragons, beer commercials and cheerleaders are two things that not everyone likes. They are also, however, not The Point of their respective games: they are simply nouns which evoke an atmosphere. You either buy into that atmosphere body and soul—or you don’t.

This article originally appeared on February 1, 2013.

I’m going to need you to forget about beer commercials. I’m going to need you to forget about cheerleaders. Don’t worry—you’re free to remember them when we’re done, if you absolutely must.

I’m here to tell you that Football is, beneath its blaring American pop-culture facade, a turn-based / real-time action collectible trading card game of fine, minute mathematical depth, with just the right pinch of procedural randomness, and character / plot development unparalleled in any other role-playing game released yet in the history of games. You might not believe at first that Football is a deeper, harder, more interesting game than Advance Wars, though once you give it a chance and look past the boring graphical presentation, its math will blow your mind and you will be a convert for life. [jump]

A Game of Dueling Wizards (Generals) (Kings) (Emperors)

Football would perhaps better be titled “Battleball,” “Warball,” or “Wizardball.” The “foot” in “football” only applies to the notion that the ball is most often carried by someone who is “on foot,” and places the brunt of the glory on the idea that the game is about mastering terrain and fighting for progress one inch at a time.

Yet the name “football” maybe doesn’t give enough credit to the masterminds who have continued to devise new creative strategies inside the framework of the game’s rules for well over eight decades.

In Football, the two “coaches” each start the game with a deck of forty-five players. At any given time, they can use eleven of these players. During the turn-based phase, coaches can substitute any player if they see fit, for one they deem more suited to a situation.

The team controlling the ball is called the “offense.” The team trying to regain control of the ball is called the “defense.” Like Pac-Man, yes—this is a game of duality, where the hunter can become the hunted on a moment’s notice.

The offensive team’s goal is to move the ball forward, over the “goal line.” Doing so gets them a “touchdown,” which is worth six points.

Each attempt of the offense to move the ball forward is called a “play.” Every time the ball touches the ground, that’s a “down.”

“Downs” are “lives” in Football’s battle system. If the offense can move the ball ten yards toward their goal within four downs, they get a “First Down”—a “continue.” Depending on the strength of the offensive team and their ability to navigate the other team’s defense, players might experience a thrilling sensation of scoring multiple first downs in a row, without ever seeing a second, third, or the dreaded “Fourth Down.”

The defense’s goal is to keep the offense from moving forward. If they’re especially tough, they’ll even manage to push the offense backward.

First down is always “1st and 10,” meaning the offense has ten yards to go for a 1up, though if a defense’s strategy is solid second down can be “2nd and 11.” Third down can be “3rd and 3" or “3rd and 25,” depending on the impregnability of the defense.

The toughness of the defense clashes with the strategy of the offense in a battle of strength versus wits, versus wits versus strength.

The coach playing defense at the time places his eleven players (units) nearly anywhere he sees fit—on his team’s side of the line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage is what they call the imaginary line spanning the width of the field, radiating outward from the exact spot where the ball last touched the ground.

The defense is the “level design” that the offense has to navigate. So here’s the interesting part—unlike a first-person shooter where players’ main goal is to always shoot at the other guys, or to get the flag to their base, always in ready-made level designs, in Football the players (by which I mean coaches) are navigating the levels in one phase, and designing the levels in the other phase.

Actually, in an action game, “level design” either means the geometry of an arena in which players kill one another, or the presentation of events in a curated single-player campaign where the goal of the level design is to entertain the player. “Defense” in football is actually one team calculatedly attacking the other. Let’s not dwell on this. Football defense is enthrallingly complicated.

This streamlining of a complex duality penetrates other aspects of Football, as well: “damage” in Football is measured in “yards.” The further a team is from their target goal line, the more “damaged” they are. The offense “heals” itself by moving forward toward the target goal line. If they heal themselves up to 100 yards, that’s a six-point “touchdown.” If you can’t get the full touchdown, on the fourth down, you’re free to kick a “field goal” through the goalpost in the endzone for three points—if you’re close enough to not fail.

Meanwhile, as the offense heals themselves, they’re damaging the defense—moving them further away from their goal line. So it is that, in Football, healing and attacking happen at the same time. Literally every gain or loss of yards heals one team and damages the other. You’d think this might dumb the game down, though as with many time-honored games such as chess, this is a restriction that only deepens the experience.

For example, if a defense manage to push an offensive team backward into the goal behind them, that’s a two-point score called a “safety.” This is rare, though you’ll see it happen every now and again.

Fusion of Turn-Based and Real-Time

Football has been in open beta for 144 years. The original goal of the developers was to create a game that roped together more than five centuries of rugby history into a more spectator-friendly, strategically deeper game.

Rugby is a fascinating game, if considerably less polished than American Football. Rugby is a sport that the very idea of folklore itself designed. As such, it’s not good for newcomers to the sports strategy genre. Give it time. You’ll soon find it’s easily one of the top three best ways to legally hurt other people.

Football goes one magnitude deeper by implementing elements of a turn-based rugbylike with “the huddle”: between downs, the coach relays play formations to the quarterback, who then takes the play to the rest of the team. In a secret on-field meeting called a “huddle,” the quarterback communicates the play to the rest of the team. They have forty seconds to decide their play, line up, and prepare for “the snap.” (Taking longer than forty seconds earns a “delay of game” penalty.)Where Football excels over its spiritual predecessors is the implementation of the “system of downs” feature—which we touched on briefly above. Breaking up a “drive” toward a “touchdown” into four-part mini-battles, adding chances for continues and resets to “first down” for highly successful plays really helps funnel the juice of the strategy into a meatier game.

One player on the offense, known as the “center,” is in control of the start of the play. When the quarterback shouts “set,” all players on the field must stand still for one second. When one second—or more, if the offense wants to hammer in suspense—has passed, the center “snaps” the ball to the player behind him. Now the game is officially being played: the center class-changes in an instant, and is now a blocker.

The game has switched from turn-based mode to real-time mode in a heartbeat.

In real-time mode—while the game is in play—it all comes down to whether or not the players on the field can live up to the coaches’ expectations, and perform their heroic physical duties under intense pressure. This is where the first layer of psychological randomness falls into place.

After the snap, the quarterback—or “QB”—has the ball. He can hand it to one of his runningbacks, or he can pass it to a wide receiver. Or he can run it himself.

Almost every play formation gives the quarterback options, because the heavy tome of Football play formation history has taught coaches and players that sometimes, anything can happen.

The QB has to think quickly: ahead of him the center, two guards, and two tackles—the biggest, toughest, and smartest players on the offensive team—are pushing back with all their might against the defensive linemen—the biggest, toughest players on the defensive team. Whose “tanks” are tougher than whose? That’s a question that a game of Football asks dozens of times in its course, and the answer is never always the same.

Depending on success or failure of his blockers, the quarterback might have two seconds to get rid of the ball. Or he might have six. He might be about to get tackled by a successful defensive player. Or he might just have enough time to get the ball to one of his receivers.

Wide receivers generally start on the farthest sides of the line. When the ball is snapped, they run forward, ready to receive a pass. Since the team knows the play, the wide receivers know what destination they’re supposed to stop at. Meanwhile, cornerbacks and/or linebackers—the “fast” and “smart” defense units, respectively—will home in on them, either trying to keep them from reaching their destination, or intercepting a pass (immediately turning over the game so that the defense is now the offense).

After many decades of strategic iteration, coaches have arrived at this right here as the generic play formations.

In the case of a forward pass play, the quarterback is under severe pressure. Maybe the linebackers and/or a cornerback and/or a safety (another defensive unit) are attempting a “blitz”: that’s the Football equivalent of “suppressing fire” in a first-person shooter. In a “blitz,” the defense tries to psych out—or even take down the quarterback. If the defense tackles the quarterback while he’s still holding the ball, that’s called a “sack,” and it is the Football equivalent of most first-person shooters’ “shotgunned in the side of the neck at close range.”

Completing a pass is a genuinely heroic action. One might even call it “magical,” and one might call the quarterback a wizard. (Uh-oh—didn’t I say the coach was a wizard? Hmm. The coach is a Level-100 Wizard, then. Or a general. Got to think fast, metaphors falling apart—)

A crude passing play. I drew this with a mouse and am not, for the record, a professional offensive coordinator.

By way of the “magic” of a “pass,” the quarterback teleports the ball many yards. If the wide receiver is in position, and able to outwit his defenders, he catches it, earning multiple yards—healing his team, and damaging the other.

In the real world, the physical act of completing a pass is about as easy as playing a full round of Halo 4 multiplayer viewing the game through a sniper scope—and winning.

Sacking the quarterback is about as easy for a defense as scoring a tetris in Gameboy Tetris while someone chases you around with a baseball bat.

Then, of course, there’s the act of running the ball. At the beginning of a play, with faith in the ingenuity and strength of his blockers, the quarterback might hand the ball to the halfback or fullback, his two “warriors,” in charge of fighting most non-magically for every inch of progress: they run the ball. That means they carry the ball in their hands and they gun it. They are melee fighters. With speed, smarts, and instinct, they dodge attackers, ideally homing in on a touchdown.

Though maybe it’s not always a touchdown you want—not right away, anyway. Maybe you’re just looking to make progress. Maybe you just want a first down. This is where the game becomes even more about psychology: consider briefly that every “down” is a reset; every play is a complex, quick, fluid, fast, full-featured game within a game, and the number of ways to play that microcosm game—always involving strength, speed, skill, and strategic smarts in varying areas—are frighteningly infinite.

Strategic Depth

In its many years of professional and collegiate play, Football, despite its many freedoms, has been home to a general condensation of strategic maneuvers. For example, though the offense needs to have seven players on the line of scrimmage at all times, and though the players don’t need to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder, the offense almost always lines up five players in front of the quarterback. Why is this? Because sometimes “common sense” and “tradition” fall in love and get married.

Yet, heavy as the Football history books are with hundreds of winning plays that look, uh, exactly like most other plays, every once in a while you find a whole chapter devoted to the One Minorly Different Thing That Worked.

The shotgun formation, for example: in the shotgun formation, you put the quarterback back several yards from the center, instead of making him stand right behind the center. You can put him back as many yards as you want—there’s no rule on where the quarterback has to stand, though of course it’d be suicide to put him twenty yards back. For one thing, the biology of the human arm and the gravity of planet Earth conspire such that the quarterback can only throw so far.

Football only offers one multiplayer map. This isn’t exactly a complaint: it affords immense room for creative strategic freedom.

The reward of the shotgun formation is that the quarterback is possibly going to have two or even three extra whole seconds to think, and the receivers will be able to use those seconds to more reliably get into position.

The primary reward of the shotgun formation is that the extra distance affords the quarterback extra visibility with which to better assure the ball gets to the right receiver.

The primary risk of a shotgun formation is on the runningbacks—they’ll have extra distance to cover if the team ends up running the ball. And if the quarterback gets sacked by some wily, adrenalin-jacked linebacker, that’s extra yards lost.

On paper, it sounds smart; in practice, heroic quarterbacks like Joe Namath and Joe Montana have wielded it as a weapon of genius.

Meanwhile, the strategic pantheon of football is lined with tales of fake field goals, rule-bending moves like onside kicks (kick the ball the minimum distance on the kickoff, and recover it before the other team), and psychology-twisting moments like that team that Went For It (running or passing the ball on Fourth Down, just as the other team was expecting them to punt, gracefully surrendering, and turning the game over). Between two experienced coaches, the very act of play selection is psychological paper-rock-scissors and poker, hugging as though super-glued together.

The Story

Everyone knows the story about that Notre Dame player whose fake girlfriend died. The internet is aflame with the rumors—did he think she was real? Was “she” an internet troll? Or was he just nuts? Also, lots of people (and puppy-lovers) know that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick participated in illegal underground dog-fighting events.

I have to admit that I find this element of the Football “story” not very interesting. It’s full of trite plot twists and boldly, dumbly stereotypical characterization—like Tim Tebow, the devout Christian quarterback who prays frequently on the field. That’s just lazy writing.

One of the innovations legendary boxing promoter Don King brought to the sports genre is the concept of rivalry—of a game being more than a game: it’s a bloody, personal, bitter battle. In boxing, a one-on-one sport, this feature devolved into interviews which bait boxers to verbally abuse their opponents, and appear unintelligent. American television networks have iterated and reiterated upon this concept, however, and summarized it nicely with phrases such as “The Best Offense in the NFL faces The Best Defense in the NFL—This Monday Night.” They’re making it about the math; they’re encouraging you to think about the math. That’s right up my alley—and probably the alley of any Magic: The Gathering player.

My favorite characters in stories like “Game of Thrones” are always the old people, so naturally I enjoy the coaches’ story arcs more. They’re the level-100 wizards—or they’re the kings, or the generals. Can such-and-such coach have as much luck with such-and-such running formation as he did last year, or has the rest of the conference caught up, watched all the tapes from all the angles, and theoretically outwitted his secret weapon?

The structure of the season lends itself to great long-term plot arcs: Teams play just one game per week during the season, which keeps the game personal: Team A lost to Team B last year. Last year, Team B lost to Team C. Team A also lost to Team C last year. Now, a year later, Team A just beat Team C. Does this mean they’re going to beat Team B? Team D also lost to Team C two weeks ago, and this week Team D beat Team E—and Team E made it into the Super Bowl last year. Whoa—is Team A an underdog Super Bowl contender all of a sudden? Creative, statistics-based speculation will drive you insane. The overarching game design of the season structure deepens that insanity.

And the icing on that narrative cake is the league structure: two conferences of sixteen teams each. Teams don’t always play teams in other conferences, meaning that many possible match-ups don’t occur during regular season play. Sometimes the only way for two teams from different conferences to face one another is in the Super Bowl. And getting to the Super Bowl is a matter of winning multiple games—can the team master long-term goals like single-game victories, medium-term goals like touchdowns or first downs, and immediate-term goals like “dodge that guy, quick” with enough success to accomplish the super-long-term goal of “Win enough games to get into the Super Bowl”?

All throughout the season, you’ll be eyeing teams in both leagues, wondering which of them will win in a game, and never really knowing, because they might never get to have a faceoff. At the end of the season, there can be only one team from each conference, leading viewers to speculate forever on a robust catalog of delicious “What if?” scenarios.

Players sometimes get injured, prompting fans to wonder how their teams will cope without them. Sometimes, an injured player is (Final Fantasy VII spoilers) as sad a moment as Aeris dying.

Then there’s the preseason, during which the coaching staffs devise new plays, revise old plays, and train the players to acquire new skills or polish old ones. You know Football has got its hooks in you if you’re talking about the preseason—or the draft, during which teams acquire hot new players for big money.

How Interactive Is It?

Televised Football’s biggest competitor, the Madden franchise of Football-inspired video games, flaunts direct interactivity: using a controller, you can become the quarterback, passing to a receiver, and then you can become the receiver and run the ball to a touchdown.

Many game-players say that playing Madden will teach you an appreciation of Football—John Madden himself has pointed out that Football coaches are getting younger, and they’re citing the Madden video games as a valuable tool for learning the ways of the game.

Many game-players say that playing Madden will teach you an appreciation of Football—John Madden himself has pointed out that Football coaches are getting younger, and they’re citing the Madden video games as a valuable tool for learning the ways of the game.

Though after spending more than twenty years carefully studying Football, I have to put my foot down: I enjoy the open-endedness of the Televised Football Viewing Experience—it’s like Skyrim to Madden’s Zelda.

With Televised Football, I’m my own taskmaster. I can think, “I bet they’re going to run the ball the next play,” and there it is. They run the ball, and I’m right—or they don’t, and I’m surprised. That’s interesting either way. Or I can think, three games into the season, “The 49ers are definitely going to be in the Super Bowl,” and then, when it turns out I was right, there’s an enormous headshot feeling, like I just sniper-shot a head the size of a dime from a mile away. No “Achievement Unlocked” pops up on the screen, though I’m fine with that. I enjoy setting my own achievements.

The character creation process of Televised American Football Viewing offers incredible freedom of classes: you can be a Barbarian (the beer-drinking, “WE WON!”-screaming happy and/or violent psycho), a Dungeon Master (pick a roster of currently active players and play “fantasy football” with a group of friends), a Calculator / Mathemagician (turn your near-psychic brain encyclopedia of Football strategy and creative statistics-reading ability into an airtight plan for betting and winning), or a Necromancer, like me (watch games usually with the sound off, and loud music playing, sitting motionless and speechless in a meditation posture, your internal monologue consisting of the word “interesting” repeated). There are plenty of sub-classes to master, as well—such as the topless, face-painted variety of shrieking fan-barbarian (Football’s closest relative to video gaming’s “furry”).

Whatever you choose, know this: everyone who loves Football is, in some way, as much a “geek” for Football as people who play video games are for video games. And why shouldn’t they be? Football is so deep and so complex you have to be some sort of geek for it just to understand what the heck is going on.

I know that many of you out there have the impression of Football as a game for big dumb knuckle-dragging, beer-guzzling brutes. I understand that whenever a sports championship ends, fans light a car on fire in the winners’ hometown and the losers’ hometown. However, if you look beyond the microscopically car-arson-decriminalizing, drunken-idiocy-enabling graphical facade, you’ll find a game as strategically rich as Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem’s Ivy-League-educated firebaby, with action as mechanically ferocious as an entire Street Fighter III: Third Strike tournament.

And that, my friends, is why Gears of War is better than Halo.

Unit ClassesOFFENSE

Center

Center of the line. Starts each play. Becomes a blocker once play has started. Maybe the most well-rounded player on the field—has the mammoth responsibility of coordinating protection at the line.

Agility: 1
Dexterity: 2
Intelligence: 3
Power: 4

Guards

Positioned around the center. When the play starts, they push against the defensive line to protect the quarterback. Typically coaches use four of them—five linemen, counting the center.

Agility: 1
Dexterity: 1
Intelligence: 3
Power: 5

Tackles

Bigger, stronger linemen who stand on the outside of the guards. They keep defenders away from key offensive players.

Agility: 2
Dexterity: 1
Intelligence: 2
Power: 5

Tight End

Specialty unit: powerful defensive lineman in his own right, though is also trained to be able to catch passes. A rare talent (“an expensive unit”). Typically just one per formation.

Agility: 3
Dexterity: 3
Intelligence: 2
Power: 4

Quarterback

The “Wizard.” Can “magically” “transport” the ball long distances by passing to wide receivers. Not as physically adept as his supporters.

Agility: 2
Dexterity: 5
Intelligence: 5
Power: 1

Wide Receiver

“Rangers”: skilled in evading the defense’s human obstacle gauntlet (“level design”), can run great distances quickly enough to be ready to receive quarterback’s passes, and gloriously run for the touchdown. These guys get the job done, and take a big chunk of the glory.

Agility: 5
Dexterity: 4
Intelligence: 3
Power: 2

Halfback

A sort of “Paladin”—the quarterback’s most trusted defender/blocker, and carrier of the ball in most running plays. Also trained to occasionally receive short passes.

Agility: 5
Dexterity: 5
Intelligence: 3
Power: 3

Fullback

A “Warrior”: the quarterback gives him the ball, and he runs it. More of a “power runner” than the Halfback—more muscularly built, adept at berserkering his way through dense crowds.

Agility: 4
Dexterity: 4
Intelligence: 2
Power: 4

DEFENSE

Defensive Tackle

An “Aggro”: wants to break through the offensive line, and does so with strength.

Agility: 1
Dexterity: 1
Intelligence: 1
Power: 5

Defensive End

A “Smart Aggro”—positioned on the end of the defensive line, and works to prevent offensive players from getting around.

Agility: 2
Dexterity: 2
Intelligence: 1
Power: 4

Linebackers

They are “Clerics.” Though yardage in Football = “damage” for one team and “healing” for another, we’ll call these guys “Clerics” because they are “defensive.” The Middle Linebacker is often called “The Defensive Quarterback.” They make intelligent, fast defensive decisions—not always brute force.

Agility: 2
Dexterity: 2
Intelligence: 3
Power: 5

Cornerbacks

“Rogues”: they cover receivers, to keep them from completing successful attacks using either distractions or physical takedowns.

Agility: 4
Dexterity: 3
Intelligence: 2
Power: 3

Safety

The last line of defense: damage control. The ultimate healer. They stay back a bit, in case a receiver breaks away. When they tackle, they mean it.

Agility: 3
Dexterity: 5
Intelligence: 2
Power: 4

THE OLD-TIMERS

Coach

The mastermind of strategy. The Level-100 Wizard. The general. The king. The emperor.

Agility: N/A
Dexterity: N/A
Intelligence: ∞
Power: N/A

Scout

The grizzled old guy who goes from high school to high school with a clipboard, passing judgment on which kids are going to stand a chance in the NFL. If quarterbacks are wizards and coaches are level 100 wizards, this guy is god darn Gandalf.

Agility: N/A
Dexterity: N/A
Intelligence: ∞+1
Power: N/A

Tim Rogers is someone you can follow on twitter. He is the founder and director of Action Button Entertainment, makers of ZiGGURAT for iOS. He is currently directing development of ViDEOBALL, a next-level electronic sport that might be deeper than football and soccer combined.

Update: This article has been edited for clarity, composition, and a few extra details.

Mod Builds An Entire Pokemon Game In Minecraft

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 09:50

Pokémon Cobalt and Amethyst is a new Minecraft mod that takes the intersection of the two gaming worlds to an entirely new level.

If a game allows mods, you can be sure a fair share of them will be Pokémon-inspired. And while there are no shortage of similar projects created using Minecraft, Cobalt and Amethyst is by far and away one of the most ambitious. It’s also one of the more unique for being a map rather than a mod, meaning that anyone who has the vanilla Minecraft version 1.8.8 can simply download it and begin playing.

Cobalt and Amethyst doesn’t just insert creatures and mechanics from the series into Minecraft either, it creates an entirely new Pokémon adventure. According to the creators behind the project, the story lasts over 60 hours and includes 136 Pokémon, mixing creatures from all over the series. While the map is supposed to be reminiscent of the original Game Boy versions, using classic sound effects and borrowing some of the music, the actual playable campaign is completely different.

The game itself isn’t entirely pretty, but the depth of the world building is impressive in its own right. According to its lead producer, Phoenix SC, the map includes everything from battling, capturing, and training Pokémon to challenging individual Gym Leaders.

“The map places itself in a never-before-seen region, featuring a new set of 136 Pokémon and a new story dominated by an antagonist threatening to release a Legendary darkness that demands tribute. It is your task to seek the truth with the help of the region’s Professor and your rival - either capture it before it’s too late, or take Team Tempest down while saving the lives of those closest to you.”

The team behind the map have even started putting together a walk through for the entire game. Phoenix SC claims to have recently beaten the game in approximately 70 hours with a team of Pokémon all around level 50. Which is nothing when you realize the project took nearly three years to complete.

You can download the Cobalt and Amethyst map here.

Sunday's Best Deals: Amazon Gadgets, Tile Slim, Bioshock Collection, and More

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 09:41

Amazon devices, Tile slims, and hard drives for your PS4 (or anything else) lead off Sunday’s best deals.

Bookmark Kinja Deals and follow us on Twitter to never miss a deal. Commerce Content is independent of Editorial and Advertising, and if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here to learn more.

Fire Tablet, $40 | Kindle, $60 | Kindle Paperwhite, $100 | Kindle Voyage, $180

Amazon just kicked off another of its periodic Fire and Kindle device deals, with $10-$20 off various devices, and up to $45 off bundles that include chargers, cases, and more.

These could make great Valentine’s gifts for the right kind of person, but we aren’t sure how long the price drops will last, so check them out here.

WD 2TB Elements 2TB Hard Drive, $70

The next PS4 firmware update will finally let you store games on external hard drives, and $70 is about as cheap as you’ll see 2TB models.

Tile is the ultimate device for anyone who can’t stop losing her things, and a single Tile Slim is back down to its best price ever of $25.

If you aren’t familiar, you just slide this thing into your wallet, keep it in your car, stick it in your luggage...anything you frequently misplace, and the Tile app on your phone can ping them over Bluetooth and cause them to beep until you find what you’re looking for. And if your lost item is outside of your phone’s Bluetooth range, it’ll show up on a map automatically any time another Tile user comes into range.

Today’s $25 deal on the Tile Slim is $5 less than usual, and a match for Black Friday if you missed out last year.

Brother HL-2360DW, $80

Brother’s monochrome laser printers are the only printers you won’t want to throw out of a helicopter into an active volcano, and the wireless, 32 ppm HL-2360DW is down to $80 today.

Snow Joe Gold Box

We’ve got six more weeks of winter to suffer through, but cleaning up the white stuff will be a little bit easier with today’s Snow Joe Gold Box deals.

Refurb Lenovo ThinkCentre A70Z, $195

It’s hardly the most powerful computer out there, but this all-in-one Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop includes a 2TB hard drive and a DVD drive for under $200. The screen’s a bummer at 19" and 1440x900, but it could be a decent extra computer for a kid or grandparent.

Nutri Ninja Bowl DUO, $98

Ninja’s new Nutri Bowl DUO blender system includes two completely different blending vessels; one for extracting nutrients and breaking down whole foods, and another for combining ingredients, including cookie dough! It regularly sells for $120-$140, and $98 is the best price Amazon’s ever listed.

$10 credit towards anime video games with anime movie purchase

Can’t get enough anime? For a limited time, if you buy select anime Blu-rays or DVDs, you’ll get a $10 credit from Amazon to spend on select anime video games for PS4 and Xbox One. Just note that you won’t get the code until your movie ships, so keep that URL handy.

Bioshock: The Collection, $35

The Bioshock Collection was slightly cheaper briefly around Black Friday, but $35 is a fantastic price for three excellent games, plus all of their DLC. Yes, including Minerva’s Den.

USB-C/QC 2.0 Power Receptacle, $27 with code N5OI53XR | QC 2.0 Power Receptacle, $25 with code HNOHZFWT

Our readers have upgraded a lot of AC power receptacles with USB charging ports over the last few years, but if you were holding out for more future-proof options with USB-C and Quick Charge technology, today’s your lucky day.

Top Greener’s brand new receptacles include either two Quick Charge USB-A ports, or one QC port and a USB-C port for your newer devices, and both are on sale today, plus modest additional discounts with the promo codes listed below. Unfortunately, you will sacrifice one of your AC outlets for the privilege, but chances are, you already have some USB charging bricks plugged in at all times throughout your house anyway.

There are also Quick Charge 3.0 versions of the same receptacles available, but unfortunately they aren’t on sale.

Bose Cinemate 15, $310

Bose’s Cinemate 15 packs some seriously impressive sound into a tiny sound bar and accompanying acoustic mass module (don’t you dare call it a subwoofer), and it’s never been cheaper than $310. In fact, until late last year, it rarely dropped below $500.

AmazonBasics 12-Pack AAA Batteries, $12

You’ve probably got a bunch of rechargeable AA batteries lying around, but if you need some AAAs to go with them, AmazonBasics’ 12-pack is down to just $12 right now.

RAVPower 8-Outlet/3-USB Surge Protector, $20

You can never have enough power outlets, and you can never have enough USB charging ports, but this $20 surge protector from RAVPower gets you a little bit closer to charging nirvana.

Suaoki Air Compressor, $30 with code 5EDE6JOQ

There are few things more irritating than noticing your tires are low on air, and then having to find a bunch of quarters, driving to the gas station, and cursing the heavens when the compressor shuts off before you’ve finished filling all four.

Instead, just buy this tiny $30 compressor, and fill up your own tires from anywhere. You can thank me later.

Beurer Foot Massager, $58 | Naipo Cordless Neck and Shoulder Massager, $75 with code 321off25 | Naipo Neck and Shoulder Massager, $36 with code 28off150

It’s been a...stressful few weeks for many of us, so turn off Twitter and treat yourself to a massage at home with these discounts. Then do it again, and again, and again, and ag....

Note: It’s not obvious from the images below, but the $75 Naipo includes a two hour battery, while the less expensive model needs to be plugged in.

Waste King L-8000 Garbage Disposal, $100

If you want to install a garbage disposal, your search can begin and end with the Waste King line.

You don’t see a ton of products on Amazon with over 5,000 reviews, but this 1 HP Waste King model manages a 4.6 star average from a boatload of customers, and it’s marked down to $100 right now on Amazon. We’ve seen it slightly cheaper on a handful of occasions, but this is the best deal since the holiday season, and definitely on the low end of its price range.

Buy Five Items, Get Free Shipping

Amazon’s Prime Pantry service has kicked off February with a pair of free shipping promotions.

If the $6-per-box Prime Pantry delivery fee is scaring you off, it’s easy to avoid by including any five items from this page in your box. There are hundreds of eligible products from across every major category, so you should have no trouble finding five that you were going to buy anyway. If you meet this requirement, you’ll see the $6 shipping fee waived at checkout.

If you somehow don’t find five items that you want, you can also add some from this “Made For Super Bowl” promotion. You won’t get your items by Sunday, but there’s never a bad time to eat Stacy’s Pita Chips. It’s the same free shipping offer, but you could combine items from both pages to get the deal.

The best part? If you have a Prime Pantry shipping credit on your Amazon account for choosing no-rush shipping on a previous order, that will stack with this deal, saving you an extra $6.

Aukey Apple Watch Charging Stand with Suction Cup, $6 with code AUKEYLYU

There are probably thousands of Apple Watch charging stands out there, but basically every one I’ve seen shares the same problem: They slide all over your nightstand when you try to pull the watch off its magnetic charger.

Aukey seems to have solved that with an ingeniously simple suction cup on the bottom of its new stand. It’s a little thing, but you’ll appreciate it every night, and what’s $6 to someone who spent $270+ on an Apple Watch?

Note: This doesn’t include any actual charging hardware: Like most Apple Watch charging stands, it’s basically just housing for the included charger.

Aukey Car Mount, $6 with code AUKEYLYU

Aukey’s simple magnetic smartphone vent holder is one of the most popular car mounts out there, and from personal experience, I can tell you it’s awesome for taking on vacation for use in a rental car as well. For $6, go ahead, give it a try.

Hoover TwinTank Steam Mop, $45

When it comes to cleaning hard floors, you’ve basically got three options to choose from, if you don’t want to get down on your hands and knees:

  • A regular old mop, which can leave your floors wet for hours.
  • A Swiffer WetJet, or any similar product that uses chemical spray that can leave a residue, and disposable (i.e. expensive) cleaning pads.
  • A steam mop, which cleans using regular old water that dries within seconds.

Now, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but the choice seems rather obvious to me, especially when you can get a highly rated Hoover steam mop for just $45 today only on Amazon. That’s the best price ever listed, and $10 less than our previous mention.

Aukey USB Wall Charger, $6 with code ZOERF9IO

You know the little charging brick that came with your phone? Throw it out, and spend $6 on this replacement from Aukey (white only with code ZOERF9IO). It’s basically the same size as Apple’s standard iPhone charger, but it includes two ports, folding prongs, and 2.4A of current (shared between the ports) to charge your devices faster.

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Sunday Comics: You Need To Hide That

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 08:00

Welcome to Kotaku’s Sunday Comics, your weekly roundup of the best webcomics that usually occurs on Sunday except when it doesn’t. The images enlarge if you click on the magnifying glass icon.

Nerf NOW!! by Josué Pereira. Published February 3. Read more of Nerf NOW!!

Awkward Zombie by Katie Tiedrich. Published January 30. Read more of Awkward Zombie

Penny Arcade by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Published February 5. Read more of Penny Arcade

The GaMERCaT by Samantha Whitten. Published January 30. Read more of The GaMERCaT.

Nerd Rage by Andy Kluthe. Published February 3. Read more of Nerd Rage

Corpse Run by Alex Di Stasi. Published January 30. Read more of Corpse Run

Manly Guys Doing Manly Things by Kelly Turnbull. Published January 30. Read more of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

Life in Aggro by Fei Hsiao and Cecilia Vasquez. Originally published september 5, 2015. Read more of Life in Aggro

Double XP by M.S. Corley and Josh Crandall. Published February 2. Read more of Double XP

Amazon Just Discounted Its Tablets and Kindles In Time For Valentine's Day

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 07:56
Fire Tablet, $40 | Kindle, $60 | Kindle Paperwhite, $100 | Kindle Voyage, $180

Amazon just kicked off another of its periodic Fire and Kindle device deals, with $10-$20 off various devices, and up to $45 off bundles that include chargers, cases, and more.

These could make great Valentine’s gifts for the right kind of person, but we aren’t sure how long the price drops will last, so check them out below.

Today’s selection of articles from Kotaku’s reader run community: Opinion: Making Your Game Stand Ou

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 19:00

Today’s selection of articles from Kotaku’s reader run community: Opinion: Making Your Game Stand Out - Observations And Lessons Learned From PAX SouthGame of the Week - A Game As Long As Its TitleThe Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds In Light Of Breath of the Wild

You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out the Beginner’s Guide to TAY and join in.

You can always stop by to say ‘hi’ on our: TAY Open Forum

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Here's What One Gym Class Looks Like In 2017

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 16:05

The Interactive Gym, the latest project from the Canadian tech company SAGA, takes the traditional idea of gym class and adds a layer of augmented reality, turning the walls into giant games of skee-ball.

Videos of the collaboration recently posted on Youtube give a basic demonstration of how it works. Images of floating shapes are projected onto the wall while the kids launch rubber balls at them trying to shatter the images. “We use 3D camera vision to detect interactions on the walls and the floors,” said Vincent Routhier, SAGA’s CEO. “ This detection is then used as an ‘input’ for the games that are displayed using projection mapping, lighting and sound effects.”

According to Routhier, the project is part of an effort to reinvent the way gymnasium could be used as a “playground for learning.” While the learning portion isn’t readily obvious from the videos, the playground bit appears to be a success. “We believe that introducing new types of interactivity and feedbacks could make physical activity more fun and accessible to all type of kids,” said Routhier. As SAGA continues to prototype the Interactive Gym, the next step will be to create more games and augment the space in different ways using the technology.

Routhier and Simon St-Hilaire, the company’s lead developer put the first prototype together in just under a week for Externat St-Jean-Berchmans, an elementary school in Quebec City. Coordinating with the school and its director, they set up the equipment and led the kids through a handful of different games for an afternoon. “We want to connect humans in the physical world and most of our work is done through those beliefs,” Routhier said.

It’s a philosophy of play that’s bears more than a passing resemblance to how Nintendo has approached its own gaming technology. Often derided for relying on gimmicks for each of its new consoles instead of simply emulating the more grown-up and austere focus on pure computing power shared by Sony and Microsoft, there’s always been a part of Nintendo that’s seemed hesitant to fully give up on its roots as a manufacturer of physical play things.

Writing for The Atlantic, John Irwin described the upcoming Switch as an attempt by Nintendo to get players to look one another in the face again. Games like 1-2 Switch shift the focus away from what’s happening on screen to what’s going on with the other player. Irwin even cites a 2012 interview with The New York Times in which designer Shigeru Miyamoto said that the relationship between video games and screen was parasitic. “For many years I have said that traditional game systems are too reliant on the television,” he told the Times.

In its own way, the Interactive Gym tries to cut against the same escapist character of many traditional video games and virtual reality experiences. There’s no putting on a headset that blocks out the rest of the world or staring at computer monitors. “We believe that augmenting the physical world is much more interesting than the isolation created by virtual reality or most technological approaches,” said Routhier.

In the end, he feels these “tangible” interactions are more grounded than digital-only ones.