Starcraft 2 Articles RSS Feed | Starcraft 2 RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network This Was the Best Decade in Gaming History, and I Can Prove It Sun, 29 Dec 2019 14:27:56 -0500 Ty Arthur

The decade is coming to a close, and while there was controversy — and a few franchises flopped  the last 10 years provided some of the best moments in the history of gaming.

If you lived through the 2010s, you witnessed new, powerful console launches, new developers knocking it out of the park, and new, exciting tech releases from the ill-fated Kinect to the still burgeoning VR field.

All of that and more led to an unforgettable 10 years in gaming that rivaled much of what came before. Don't believe me? Let's take a look back at the industry's defining achievements over the past 10 years.  

The Early 2010s

Certain moments will live forever. Lady Gaga's meat outfit. Rebecca Black's Friday. Kony 2012. The color of that stupid dress. Marriage equality. "But her emails." Leo finally getting that damn Oscar. 

For me, the decade began in earnest when I put GLaDOS into a potato in Portal 2. The combination of humor and disturbing horror sold it as much as the game's top-notch voice acting and rock solid gameplay. That overall package had me sitting in awe, thinking: "Did modern video games just become amazing right this second?" 

Aside from the hilarious legacy of Portal's sequel (which itself will never be a follow-up since Valve sadly can't count to three), the 2010s kicked off in earnest with notable returns from major series featuring big changes. Mass Effect 2 ditched the extraneous RPG elements and somehow came out better for it; Dead Space 2 ramped up the horror and gore of the first game; and, of course, Starcraft 2: Wings Of Liberty arrived with a makeover and revamped multiplayer.

The early 2010s proudly brought the gaming universe a re-tooled horde mode in Gears of War 3, and it's one that stood the test of time. Aside from still holding the title of "one of the least toxic cooperative multiplayer modes" ever made, horde in Gears of War 3 remains the gold standard of multiplayer. Horde is one of the primary reasons why fans return to the Gears series even after the IP switched developers.

While those big-name AAA franchises made their marks, Minecraft became a phenomenon. Mojang's smash hit created an enduring legacy that can't be denied, even if the survival/open-world LEGO mashup has been endlessly emulated. Somehow the pop phenomenon still has hundreds of millions of active players, showing Mojang's vision wasn't just a fluke. 

Between an insane number of skins, seeds, maps, and mods, Minecraft has to be one of the most expansive gaming experiences of all time, and it will probably still be up and running long after we are all dead and gone. As we move into the next decade, we're preparing for Minecraft Dungeons, which could possibly be a game we'll still be talking about in 10 years. Who knows?

      OK, maybe it wouldn't have been the worst
thing if we didn't know about this guy...

Another low-key title that had a bigger impact than many realize — though not Minecraft big — came in the horror genre. 

Amnesia: The Dark Descent kicked off the "defenseless" horror subgenre that has seen the likes of Outlast, Layers of Fear, and Alien: Isolation follow in its footsteps. Although the Amnesia series is now quaint when compared to what came after it, it brought the horror genre to the masses. Why? Because big-name streamers loved it.

Reaction videos to Amnesia's scarier scenes caught on like wildfire, and it's partly to thank for the sudden spike in video game streaming personalities in the early part of the decade. Without Amnesia, it's possible that the likes of PewDiePie and Markiplier might remain relatively unknown.

       It is an absolute tragedy that this didn't catch on.

Despite all of the unexpected successes, there were some "sure things" that ended up nosediving in the early part of the decade. Nintendo — normally a pillar of stability — saw the Wii U ultimately flop, even though the hardware itself had some fantastic applications.

If you haven't experienced Rayman Legends local multiplayer using both the Wii U pad and your television screen, then you missed out on a critical piece of amazing gaming history.

While the Wii U has been consigned to the dust bin, other parts of the early 2010 gaming landscape caught on like wildfire and still haven't gone out.

Though I point blank hated Skyrim, credit must be given where it's due. Bethesda captured the imagination of a generation with that particular Elder Scrolls entry, and Skyrim managed to remain popular enough to see re-release some dozen or so times across multiple consoles throughout the decade.

Without question, Skyrim played a large role in the success of the 2010 console cycle, but it had an even bigger impact on the PC landscape. Simply put, Skyrim is the king of mods, and has born an entire generation of modders that have created some truly fantastic experiences. 

To date, Skyrim has more than 56,000 downloads available on Nexus Mods. Yeah, a lot of them are nude mods, but between the total conversion mods and extremely clever gameplay tweaks, Skyrim can be an amazing game with the right modding.

The mod effect went well past Bethesda's fantasy baby this decade. Other open world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 are getting a slew of mods, but everything from XCOM to the Resident Evil 2 remake are finding extra play time through some pretty genius mods.

While story took a back seat to open-world exploration in Skyrim, storytelling as a whole wasn't left in the dust in this early period of the decade. Plenty of games weren't afraid to go with more mature or unexpected themes, from the devastating opening of The Last Of Us to the mind-bending twist in Bioshock Infinite

Story rich or story lacking, open world or linear, the early part of the 10s was drowning in genre-defining games... but things would take a turn just a few years later. 

The Mid 2010s

         Telltale looking at Telltale and getting ready to pull the trigger       

Has a developer ever risen so quickly and then fallen so far as Telltale? The Wolf Among Us and the first season of The Walking Dead are still hallmarks of interactive storytelling, but sadly, the development team, under immense pressure, faced insurmountable hurdles.

A badly aging engine, lack of new ideas, and overspending on major franchises weighed the dev down by the time Game Of Thrones Season 1 ended. Sadly, things did not improve, and the company shuttered later in the decade. We never got to see the heights this style could have reached if material like Stranger Things, Hellraiser, or True Detective had been made available.

While the Telltale name is currently clawing back from the dead, it appears this new version of the company won't feature the same people (which may be a good thing) and will work on a much smaller scale. Will we ever get anything as compelling as Bigby's murder mystery or Clementine's journey to adulthood? Probably not, but at least we've still got our memories. 

       Goodbye old friend. You will be missed.

Another amazingly bittersweet moment arrived in April 2016 as the beloved Xbox 360 finally met its end. While Games With Gold is still offering up free titles each month and a handful of games are still hitting the platform, production on this console legend officially stopped. If you've still got a 360, be sure to keep hold of it -- because no more are being made! Microsoft managed to bring out the longest-running console cycle in gaming history, lasting more than 10 solid years. 

The next-gen got off to a rocky start not long before the 360 ceased production (remember the horror that was Assassin's Creed Unity?) but the decade's trend of disappointing trilogy conclusions with Dead Space 3 and Mass Effect 3 would come to a shattering and conclusive close with The Witcher 3.

Without question, The Witcher 3 put CD Projekt Red on the map and showed that an open-world RPG could be story-rich and offer more than just endless fetch quests and following map markers. Even more impressively, The Witcher 3 remains one of the very few titles to feature DLC that is easily as strong as the base game.

Considering the many amazing ladies of the series (oh, and Geralt too, I guess) just made the leap to a Netflix Original Series, it seems The Witcher franchise is going to live on for quite some time.

The same time period didn't just see the arrival of some truly great games it also saw a change in how games are developed and the ways in which developers interact with players.

Although the method had been around for some time, it was around the mid-2010s that Early Access started to become a vehicle for on-going development. 

Though Early Access has seen its fair share of hate and has been legitimately abused, it gave us titles as diverse and satisfying as Darkest Dungeon, Slime Rancher, and later, Subnautica. Early Access has shown that supporting developers along the way and allowing tweaks to be made from fan feedback can result in better-finished products.

      Should have called it Baldur's Wind Dale: Temple Of Elemental Torment.

Rising alongside Early Access, the crowd-funding revolution also emerged in the 2010s, giving us an amazing crop of old-school RPGs like Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 2

Fans wanted classic isometric games utilizing tactical real-time-with-pause or turn-based combat, but publishers just weren't willing to take the risk. They couldn't see that nostalgia equals money. Kickstarter and Indiegogo stepped in.

While Obsidian and InXile got snapped up by Microsoft in 2018 and it would seem are now cranking out some very off-brand console titles we still had a good number of years where fans had the final say on what would get released in those instances.

Kickstarter would later grow to feature revitalized classics such as Shenmue 3 and the Castlevania-adjacent Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Whether you asked for a refund and still think its a scam or are eagerly playing along, Star Citizen showed just how massive a crowd funding campaign can become. Somehow its still earning crowd funding revenue, having raked in more than $250 million from fans who know what they want and are willing to pay to get it.

Outside the realm of the typical gaming sphere, a surprising new genre would emerge and make a bigger impact than anyone suspected: absurdist games meant entirely for Let's Plays, reaction vids, and water-cooler talk.

"Classics" like Goat Simulator and Octodad: Dadliest Catch saw gamers re-thinking what truly makes a game great, while also laying the foundation for newer entries like Untitled Goose Game.

The Late 2010s

      Welcome back, Nintendo!

Breath Of The Wild was exactly what Nintendo needed to retake its position near the head of the pack. A major shift in gameplay towards an open-world style gave the Zelda franchise and the Switch a serious shot in the arm.

A brand new design for Nintendo's latest console didn't hurt either, as the combination of permanent home base console and mobile device re-captured the imaginations of gamers. While the controller and movement-based games like 1-2 Switch don't seem to have caught on, Nintendo is still very clearly back into position as console innovator. 

Another open-world game that defined this same period, but on the PlayStation 4, was Horizon Zero Dawn. The combination of old and new styles with a gripping mystery of humanity's past pushed forward by a fiery main character gave many players a reason to stick with the PS4. 

Considering the lauded Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010 and Red Dead Redemption 2 was one of the most highly anticipated titles of 2018, it's clear that the open-world trend has reigned supreme this decade.

One game refutes that claim, though, is Fortnite.

You might love to hate it, but you have to ask yourself: has any other title done more to bring gaming into the public consciousness? When Star Wars and Avengers hold in-game events in Fortnite, I think it's clear we've surpassed fandom boundaries and hit the big time.

The concept of Battle Royale has been around for quite awhile, and one could argue it hit its stride with PUBG not long after getting popular through the DayZ mod to Arma 2. That being said, it wasn't until Fortnite that the term became a household name and a genre giant in its own right. 

The resurgence of Battle Royale aside, Fortnite still plays a major role in live streaming, catapulting it to a previously unknown level of popularity with celebrity appearances and major eSports events. Fortnite managed to hit just about every platform imaginable, including mobile phones, and that's another area of gaming worth looking at that made a huge splash in the '10s.

      Not only is this peak 2010s, I'd argue it was also the
reason the internet was invented

Forget Angry Birds and Candy Crush, because there was an absolute explosion of mobile gaming covering every conceivable genre this decade. Aside from the clear cultural significance, Pokemon Go's launch started the AR craze meant to get gamers off the couch and out into the world of sunlight and exercise.

Even if you didn't care for the change in mechanics from the other monster-collecting titles, Pokemon Go was the gift that just kept on giving, from Pokemoan dildos (yep, they exist) to a Chuck Tingle erotica book, to a news cycle that kept bringing up new insanity every, single day.

While some games got smaller and more mobile, others got larger and more tethered VR broke into the mainstream. The PSVR brought true virtual reality to console gamers for a (sort of) affordable price for the first time.

Meanwhile, a number of dueling PC VR platforms are now pushing the boundaries and getting the tech where it needs to go. Vive and Oculus are currently duking it out, with the Oculus Quest now ditching wires and even the PC entirely for a more liberated experience. We haven't seen the best VR has to offer yet  that's for sure  but what's available today is already impressive.

If virtual worlds are less important to you than the interactions that occur within them, the late 2010s were a time when communities really started coming together through platforms like Twitch and Discord.

While the former popped up in 2011 and the latter in 2015, it hasn't been until recent years that they've really come into their own. Whether a mobile gacha title or a graphics-intensive PC shooter, pretty much every game worth playing has its own Discord community where players help each other out and forge new relationships.

New consoles, new tech, new ways of communicating, and new and returning franchises made this is a decade to remember in gaming history.

Looking Forward to 2020 and Beyond

That all about brings us to the present: 2019 was filled to the brim with major gaming news. Bungie parted with Activision but kept the Destiny series; Blizzard stepped in it with their poor handling of eSports players discussing Chinese democracy protests; and Xbox Game Studios snapped up Double Fine back in August.

On the release front, the tail end of the decade hasn't slouched with top-notch new games in a number of surprising genres. Disco Elysium came out of nowhere, and yeah, it deserves the hype. If you miss Planescape: Torment style text-heavy experiences, you want to play this one. The movie snippet experimentation with Telling Lies is also well worth experiencing and shows gaming can be just as interesting and story-rich as cinema. That's not to mention Netflix's Bandersnatch.

As the year ends, we're seeing more changes to the gaming landscape with monthly game services like Game Pass, PS Now, EA Access, and more coming into prominence. Even the mobile gaming crowd is getting in on the monthly subscription action with Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass. If you want to try out a bunch of games for a low monthly price, there's never been a better time to explore what's available on console, PC, or mobile devices.

Of course, the obvious next step of this digital revolution was the advent of the all-streaming Stadia and XCloud. The effect of those changes is still anyone's guess, but it sure looks like we're barreling towards a digital future with a Netflix style library of games.

As Google and all-streaming services come into the spotlight, the console wars still raged between Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. The PS4 managed to become the fourth best selling console of all time this gen, and some killer exclusives likely played a big role there. How the PS5 and Xbox Series X stack up against each other still remains to be seen.

Far more happened in this decade than we ever could have covered in one article, and I'm sure you'll be happy to tell me which games and events I missed that made this the best 10 years in gaming history.

For now, it's time to look toward the future, as next-gen consoles are well into development and are expected to arrive next holiday season. Major titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Baldur's Gate 3, and The Last Of Us 2 are mere months away, and we can't wait to see what the next 10 years have in store! 

What were your favorite video game moments from 2010-2019, and do you agree that it was the best decade in gaming history? Sound off in the comments below!

ESL Announces Induction Of John "TotalBiscuit" Bain Into Esports Hall Of Fame Mon, 22 Oct 2018 19:19:21 -0400 QuintLyn

Video game YouTuber and esports personality John "TotalBiscut" Bain is being honored with a spot in the ESL Esports Hall of Fame. The gaming personality was a long-time supporter of all things esports before his passing earlier this year.

While he often covered a variety of subjects from World of Warcraft to indie titles, Bain was well known for his support of esports titles -- particularly StarCraft 2. He and his wife even formed a competitive StarCraft 2 team by the name of Axiom.

With his induction into the ESL, Bain will be the first non-player member. It's a position well-earned with his dedication to the esports scene. During his career he was not only a vocal supporter of esports, but did everything he could to help grow the scene, often appearing at events as a commentator.

He also sponsored many events and lent a hand with others in management and production.



7 Video Games We'd Love to See as Olympic Events Wed, 21 Feb 2018 12:29:16 -0500 Andrew Krajewski

Dance Dance Revolution

What better way to round out our list than to pick a game that'll actually make you sweat. Like figure skating or floor exercise, DDR would require precision, rhythm, and endurance. It would be a joy to watch the routines people would come up with to perform using a DDR machine. The best part is that score keeping is built into the game so there's no worry about judges having any kind of bias!




That wraps up our wish list for Olympic video games. Whether it be a fighting game, a speed run, a high score, or a button masher we'd love to see every type of video game in the Olympics some day. The Olympics bring people together and the inclusion of these video games would continue to do so. Did your favorite game make our cut? Let us know in the comments below! 


Overwatch has accomplished something that very few other games have. It's created a universe bigger than itself. The game is often lauded for its diverse portrayal of characters and positive depiction of various places around the world. Like the Olympics, Overwatch welcomes people to its world and strives to bring people together, at least until your teammate picks hanzo when you need a healer.


The pro scene is no joke either and the OWL has further legitimized Overwatch as an eSport. There is a tremendous amount of precision, coordination, and decision-making required at the highest levels of play that still maintains a high level of enjoyment for spectators.

DotA 2

DotA 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, or even SMITE -- there are several great MOBA games with thriving eSports scenes. I've picked DotA 2, I'm sure to the chagrin of many. DotA was the original MOBA, and it deserves some credit for that. It also is arguably more complex than other titles due to the way certain heroes scale differently than others, the ability to deny creeps, and the ability to use teleport scrolls to reach other towers. DotA also tends to have a higher technical ceiling, which can make it harder to master. It wouldn't be the Olympics if the best players weren't featured competing in the toughest of the MOBAs.

Trials Fusion

Trials games are notoriously hard on expert courses, which makes them a perfect contender for an Olympic event. Reducing faults (how many times you crash in a single run) would become key if this game were "raced" professionally. Right now, players on the leaderboards can take as many attempts as possible for a perfect run, but with only one chance to get the best possible time, there is much more room for error, which ultimately makes for more exciting competition. It would also be interesting to see a relay-style race using multiple competitors on multiple tracks. The added pressure of the Olympics would make the races that much more exciting to watch, while competitors wouldn't be able constantly restart for perfect times.


The game is also fairly pretty to look at, especially during epic jumps with incredible vistas in the background.

StarCraft II

Without Starcraft, who knows what modern professional eSports would look like? The game's impact on gaming is so grand that even Google has an Easter egg mini-game when you search for zerg rush, which is a reference to the fun-to-watch strategy in Starcraft that overwhelms opponents if they can't react quickly enough. Starcraft also is a shining example of a game that requires precision, concentration, and the ability to adapt. 


Pro players are extremely dexterous, reaching up to 600 APM (actions per minute). I don't think I've ever done 10 anything in a second, let alone making 10 meaningful in-game actions every second. Starcraft also lends itself to multiple formats like 1v1, 2v2, and even larger team sizes.

Super Smash Bros.

What separates Super Smash Bros. from other fighting games? First, it gets bonus points because of Mario -- sorry, it just does. Second, Smash Bros. games don't have traditional life meters like other fighting games. The percentage bar the game uses means anyone can come back from the brink of defeat and adds extra excitement to the game. The entire Super Smash Bros. franchise provides a great opportunity for several Olympic events. Besides the traditional 1v1 match-ups, we could also see 2v2 matchups, both with friendly fire and without. If we go into the most recent game, we can even have 4v4 matches that would really add extra depth to the teamwork required to excel.


But the best part is yet to come: we could also have individuals and teams take on the home run contest to see who could knock that sandbag the farthest!

Super Mario 64

Speaking of cross-country skiing, who wouldn't love to watch hours-long speedruns of titles over and over? All joking aside, of the various speed running candidates, Super Mario 64 may feel like a safe bet, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun to watch as an Olympic event. In 100% runs it would be fascinating to watch speed runners determine which routes are the fastest in order to save Princess Peach. The game is big enough and difficult enough to punish the smallest mistakes while maintaining a high level of watchability because of how well known it is. Perhaps a graphical remaster would help the game out, but otherwise, it's a terrific candidate for the Olympic games.


With the 2018 Winter Olympics in full swing in PyeongChang, gamers might think about how South Koreans are well-known for their gaming prowess. Naturally, we thought, "Hey, if ESPN covers esports, why can't the Olympics include them?" While it's a long shot, we can still fantasize about which games we would love to see at the Olympic Games. The following highly scientific (trust me when I say we here at GameSkinny have all the science) list is compiled based on a game's renown, required skill level, and, unlike the actual Olympics, overall watchability (I'm looking at you cross-country skiing!).

Why Is It a Good Idea to Come Back to Starcraft 2? Sat, 16 Dec 2017 16:00:01 -0500 sakkreth

Earlier this year at BlizzCon, Blizzard announced that Starcraft 2 is going free to play as of November 14, 2017. What does that entail, though? This article will describe not only what you get for free, but also whether it's really worth coming back to play Starcraft 2 after all these years since the release of Wings of Liberty in 2010.

What do you get for free?

So what do you need to buy to start playing Starcraft 2? Absolutely nothing. The Wings of Liberty campaign is free for everyone. It is one of the biggest releases of 2010 (if not the biggest), and it is completely free. All of the multiplayer is free as well, but there are some restrictions. To unlock ranked versus mode on a free account, you first need to play 10 days of at least one unranked or vs AI game. You also get three co-op commanders for free: Raynor, Artanis, and Kerrigan. Other co-op commanders can be played for free until level 5. You don’t have to buy the game to unlock other co-op commanders, though. All non-free co-op commanders can be bought separately. Arcade modes are still completely free to play, with thousands of different mods.

Why is it worth coming back to Starcraft 2?

The game has seen constant improvements, with a dedicated development team working on it since 2010.

Not only has multiplayer been improved, but with Legacy of the Void, Archon mode has been added. It is a mode where you and your friend control one base against two opponents who likewise control one base. While Archon mode did not gain much popularity (I still find it fun, as it requires much communication with your teammate), there is a mode that did, and for a reason: co-op mode, where you choose a commander and fight against enemy invasions alongside your friend (or matched with a random player that does not have friends to play with either). Co-op has many different maps with different objectives, from defending temples to destroying trains before they escape while they are guarded by enemy AI. Each of the heroes you can play gains XP and can unlock new units and abilities or upgrade the ones that commander already has. There are different difficulties as well, from easy to brutal; however, if even brutal is not challenging enough, it is possible to add mutations that makes it even harder, so even extremely experienced RTS veterans can always find a challenge too. The harder the difficulty is, the more XP your commander gets rewarded. Commanders are a great way to diversify play styles because everyone can find a commander they will love. For example, my favorite is Alarak, the highlord of Tal'Darim, who commands his protoss forces. He is egoistic to the point that it is hilarious -- how can you not love that?!

Playable commander Alarak 

Coming back to the game just after the F2P launch myself, I was amazed by the amount of content and how much the game got improved. There is a whole new microtransaction system with skins; announcers (voices that instruct you during the game) of popular Starcraft personalities such as Day9, Tastosis, and others; as well as Starcraft characters such as Abathur, Alarak and even D.Va from Overwatch. Even though I am quite a competitive guy and enjoy versus mode the most, I find myself playing co-op and other modes such as Archon and Arcade more than 1v1 ladder. Before stopping to play Starcraft 2 back in late 2015, I was strictly 1v1 versus mode player, as back then there were no co-op commander and Archon modes or microtransactions with tons of decals, portraits, announcers, and unit skins. Co-op commander is probably the most popular mode currently in the game -- yes, it's played even more than versus or campaign modes.

Co-op mode action with Commander Alarak and his forces

I never thought I could have so much fun in Starcraft 2 while not playing versus. Co-op has so much variety due to the large amount of maps, difficulties, and commanders. It is basically endless fun, and it is free. While I still enjoy versus a lot, which is as good as it has ever been in Starcraft 2, I cannot believe how great of an idea co-op was. My hat's off to Blizzard for this one.

A known Starcraft 2 streamer, Neuro recently said on his broadcast, “If you are unsure about Starcraft 2, just go for it. If you don’t like it, you can get your money back. They are doing a really nice deal right now where you could pay zero dollars for Starcraft 2, and you get multiplayer and everything, and if you don’t like it, they give you back that zero dollars.” And he is right: If you are even remotely interested, just give it a try. As a hardcore 1v1 player, I was skeptical about all these new changes, thinking, “It might be fun for someone, but I am sticking to 1v1.” I got proven wrong quickly after trying co-op. It simply is too much fun, and there is so much to unlock in the game, which I did not thought would ever be the case in Starcraft 2.

To start playing for free, check out Blizzard's Starcraft 2 page.

How Crazy Is It That They'll Be Airing Pro Rocket League on NBC Sports? Thu, 06 Jul 2017 15:32:20 -0400 Klinestife

Rocket League is set to be broadcast on NBC's official sports channel with a $100,000 prize pool. While NBA teams have been sponsoring eSport teams for years now, official news channels have been slow to follow suit until now. The growth of eSports has finally reached a point where it can no longer be ignored, which marks a radical change in attitude compared to only a few years back.

Remember a few years ago when the media laughed their asses off over the ridiculousness of eSports? Well, they failed to realize that it was already a massive industry, even then. Had they bothered to do any research, they would have known that the League of Legends 2015 World Championship had over 36 million unique viewers for its finals, beating out the 2015 NBA finals, the 2015 World Cup finals, and the 2015 NHL finals.

A Little History

But for those not in the know, how did it get so big? Well, it took a long time. The first appearance of eSports actually began in 1972, in a little Stanford room where people free-for-all'd in Spacewars. Then there was the Nintendo World Championships, which took place all over America and ended in Hollywood, LA, which was the largest gaming event of the decade. While there were a variety of console eSports, it wasn't until PCs started having increased internet connectivity that multiplayer games took off. 

The first true eSports phenomenon came in the form of Starcraft. Following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, South Korea began building a massive broadband internet network. The high unemployment rate left many looking for something to do. In response, South Korea created PC Bangs, which were LAN gaming centers where people could play multiplayer games together. Eventually, Starcraft took hold in South Korea at which point it quickly became the most popular game at PC Bangs. By 2000, the Korean eSports Association was created to promote and regulate eSports in the country, something no other country since has done.

So, naturally, when Blizzard dropped the sequel in 2010, many expected it to blow up even larger than Starcraft did. Unfortunately, it never took the industry by storm like the first game did for a number of reasons, most of which can be related to mismanagement and slow response. 

Fortunately, League of Legends began rising as an eSport around this time and fixed many of the problems Starcraft 2 had. It had a sustained business model that scaled with its rising popularity, was more casual friendly than Starcraft 2 due to its focus on teamwork, regular balance patches, and most importantly integrated separate regions in its own eSport scene, which meant that players from each region no longer had to face off against the vaunted Korean players. Riot Games also supported the scene fully, sponsoring multiple smaller tournaments to help spread the word. 

We can see the effects that these changes have had. League of Legends is now the poster boy for the eSports scene, playing an instrumental role in its growth. The eSports scene is estimated to grow to be worth 1.5 billion by 2020, and even more games will no doubt join the industry by then. It would almost be foolish to be a multiplayer competitive game and not try to get a toe in before it gets too crowded.

However, the biggest problem with eSports is that you need to be familiar with the game to appreciate all its intricacies. There aren't many multiplayer games where newcomers can just hop in and instantly understand what's happening.

Car Soccer

That's where Rocket League comes in. It's one of the most promising games to join the fray, with unique gameplay that has an insanely high skill ceiling while still being very easy to follow for spectators. As an added bonus, it has very similar rules to an already existing sport (soccer), making it easily the most accessible eSport to newcomers right now.

The rules are simple: there's a ball. There are cars with rocket boosters attached to them. There are two goals on both sides of the court. There's a timer, and that's about it. Most people who've seen sports before can connect those dots together. What makes it unique is...well, the cars with rockets bit. There are a ton of ridiculous spectacles that come from the game. Whether it's watching cars juggle the ball in midair or ricochet the ball off of the walls and ceiling only to miraculously score a goal from an awkward angle the game rarely fails to impress.

Rocket League is sure to be a hit eSports games, and with NBC sponsoring it, there's no doubt that it'll go far in the industry. Hell, it might even be the most popular spectator eSport years from now.

New StarCraft II Commander Reveal on Twitch Incoming Sun, 23 Apr 2017 22:45:57 -0400 ReverendShmitty

Prepare to tune in to the Star Craft II Twitch channel on Monday, April 24 at 11 am PDT.

Lead Co-Op Designer David Sum and Terran Champion Nathan “Nathanias” Fabrikant will head the unveiling of the new Co-Op Commander soon to be released. They’ll cover the new Commander’s abilities and characteristics, as well as what will make this new character really stand out. Sum will explain why they designed the Commander the way they did and what they expect it do before handing it off to Nathanias to show those in attendance what it can do with a more hands-on approach.

With Nathanias being a Terran Champion, many fans are speculating that the new commander will be as well. This has led to many using Starcraft lore to theorize that the new Commander will be either Fenix/Talandar or Tosh.

If you want to catch up and get your hands on some of Starcraft II's past Commanders, you can pick up a bundle here. And don’t worry if you can’t make the stream. Blizzard will also hold a Q&A to cover anything you might’ve missed.

Who do you think the new Commander will be? Let us know in the comments.

The Geekiest April Fools Pranks 2017 Sat, 01 Apr 2017 19:49:08 -0400 Ty Arthur

Remember last year's hilarious April Fools pranks, like Think Geek manufacturing the Plumbus, PornHub becoming CornHub (hot young corn gets plowed!), and Rocket League's auto-rage quit feature? Game developers and tech sites across the web didn't slow down for 2017, going full throttle with more ridiculous announcements that can only be expected to land one single day of the year.

When dealing with gaming, there's a line to straddle for April Fools gags. It's between something believable that might anger fans (because they actually want the joke game to be made) and something so outrageous no one will ever get fooled.

Sometimes that line gets obliterated, and there's a long history of April Fools gags becoming reality, like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or phone companies going all in to give us things similar to the Google Cardboard VR system. Hopefully, a few of the 2017 gags get a similar treatment in the not too distant future! Below we've rounded up all the best jokes you may have missed this year.

CERN Goes Doom

After discovering the long-theorized Higgs Boson (popularized in the media as "the god particle"), CERN stopped colliding particles underground at insane speeds to take a look up in the sky at some celestial bodies... and discovered something that will require a Doom Marine to check out!

Very early this morning the European science organization released a series of cryptic photos that got the Illuminati/ancient aliens crowd all kinds of excited, culminating in a story about discovering an ancient particle accelerator on Mars.  

It was all in good fun and eventually CERN confirmed it was a gag... but if you value your sanity, don't go read the Facebook comments. They are filled to the brim with a tin-foil-hat-crowd convinced it wasn't fake -- and making this announcement on April 1st is all a big cover up.

Le Sigh.

 Looks like a hell portal to me. Get ready for glory kills galore!

Tactics Alexander

A joke that's bound to upset more than a few fans, Square Enix tugged on our sense of nostalgia by uploading a video indicating a new Final Fantasy Tactics style game was coming (with super retro '80s sound effects) based on the Alexander raid scenario from Final Fantasy XIV. Leave a comment if you'd totally buy this!

Google Maps Goes Pac Man

The ever-reliable Google decided to have a little fun with people needing directions this year by turning the Google Maps site into a playable Pac Man experience! Fun for the kids, but maybe not so helpful if you're trying to find the nearest arcade...

Fire Emblem: Battle Of Revolution

Nintendo decided to follow in the footsteps of Square Enix this year, poking fun at fans who long for old school gaming sensibilities. They did this by posting screenshots of an 8-bit style Fire Emblem game coming to the newly released Switch console. Call me crazy, but I think people would actually buy this, so why not just go ahead and do it already?

Netflix Has Will Arnet Narrate Nothing

Netflix has had some killer April Fools videos over the years. My personal favorite was probably the two hours of sizzling bacon, mocking those videos of crackling log fires.

This year the streaming giant had comedian Will Arnet sit in a chair and narrate everyday objects like copiers and microwaves in a segment brilliantly titled Netflix Live. Sadly, there will never be a season 2.

Bear Party DLC

From the original Infinity Engine games to classic reboot Pillars Of Eternity, there's been a long running gag in D&D games about having a group of druids wild-shape into animals and playing through with no human characters.

For this year's April Fools shenanigans, Obsidian decided to make the all-bear play through official with the Bear Party DLC for Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire! I particularly like how one is clearly supposed to be bear Edér, with a corn cob pipe in his mouth.

GeForce Does The Work For You

In a "joke" that feels like it will probably be a standard feature on PCs and consoles not too many years down the road, GeForce announced the GTX G-Assist, a nifty device that watches and learns how you play.

Anytime you need to get up to grab an energy drink or microwave a hot pocket, the GTX G-Assist keeps playing for you, so you don't have to pause or go AFK during a multiplayer match!

Overlord Announcer

Who needs an intelligible announcer for any given Starcraft II round? With this exciting new announcer pack, you can have a Zerg overlord tell you everything you need to know in a series of incomprehensible grunts and wheezes! Predictably, fans love it, and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a reality.

Amazon's Petlexa

Love your Echo but wish your adorable puppers could order his own kibble without your help? Today, Amazon announced the Petlexa update for the Echo, which counts your hamster's wheel rotations and learns how to speak doggie!

That's all the best gags we've seen so far this year -- what was your favorite April Fools 2017 joke? Sound off in the comments below. 

After the StarCraft Remaster....Is Diablo 2 Next? Sat, 01 Apr 2017 17:00:02 -0400 tofuslayer

This past Saturday, Blizzard revealed the trailer for the long-awaited Starcraft remaster set to launch in “summer 2017.” The new remaster for Mac and PC will feature the same game logic and content as the original game from 1998, but the graphics have been redrawn to better scale 4k resolutions. Now in the wake of the announcement, some gamers are wondering about the possibility of a Diablo II remaster.

Diablo II remaster is a possibility, but don’t hold your breath

While I don’t think the idea of a Diablo II remaster is out of the question, I don’t think it’ll happen as soon as some might think. With the Starcraft remaster set to come out this summer, I think it will take time to fix enough bugs and create enough patches to get the remaster running smoothly before starting on the new project. Blizzard will probably want the the remaster to be in a very good place before they even begin to think about remastering another game.

One thing that may hint at a Diablo remake is the "Darkening of Tristram" patch that Bizzard launched last year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original Diablo game. The celebratory event, launched in the form of a patch for Diablo III, contained a temporary event that allowed users to play Diablo in what developers called, “glorious retrovision.” The one month long event, "The Darkening of Tristram", included 16 levels and remade characters from Diablo such as the Butcher and Diablo. I'm speculating that Blizzard may have have used the event to gauge interest in a possible remaster in the future.

Although many fans were excited about the event, sone fans expected a fully remastered edition of Diablo and expressed disappointment at the 20th Anniversary Patch due to the temporary nature of the event. However, I think that there’s a real chance that we can expect a remaster of Diablo for the 25th anniversary and maybe Diablo II remaster for the 20th anniversary in 2020. At the same time, I think fans are often quick to forget that companies like Blizzard have lots of projects going on that we don’t know about, and may want to dedicate most of their energy to creating new games rather than remastering old ones. 

Still, even though Blizzard employees are busy creating new games and providing support for existing ones, the company’s employees are definitely passionate about the games that brought them to that company, such as the Diablo franchise. I also think it’s pretty clear from the Starcraft remaster that the company does care about nostalgia and recognizes the games that brought them to their current status in the gaming world. However, a total remaster of an old game is a big undertaking, especially for a side project. It may not be a priority, but I do think it's a possibility.

A remake of the original Diablo game is more likely

Sorry to anyone hoping for a Diablo II remaster, but I think that "The Darkening of Tristram" event means that a Diablo remaster is more likely in the future. Diablo is older and it's a simpler game than Diablo II. Everything from the sprites to the freedom of movement are simpler, making it an easier game to work with. If Blizzard is going to dedicate time and energy to revamping an old game, they’ll probably choose the path of least resistance.

Another factor to consider is that its easier for fans to purchase and play Diablo II. Even though it’s been a year since the company released a patch for Diablo II, you can still buy the game on the Blizzard website and the company is still providing support for its users. Anyone who wants to buy the original game has to look on eBay or Amazon for third party sellers and download patches from an archive for classic games. The original Diablo is also a lot farther from today’s gaming standards than Diablo II, making it a better candidate for a remaster. It’s pretty obvious that if one of the two games needs a little more attention, its Diablo.

The last factor to consider is that "The Darkening of Tristram" just came out, so some of the work has already been done. Even though a remaster of Diablo would be a much bigger undertaking than a labyrinth in a patch, some of the groundwork has already been done. A lot of hours have already been put into "The Darkening of Tristram" project, and it seems most logical to pick up where they left off on that rather than to take on a whole new endeavor from the ground up.

Diablo II fans, don’t despair just yet

If I’ve dashed your hopes or upset you in any way, there’s still hope! A developer known as egod123 has brought a Diablo II remaster to gamers everywhere through the Starcraft II Arcade. The Curse of Tristram is a free game mod from the Starcraft II Arcade available to Starcraft II users who have purchased the game. As of March 5 of this year, the developer has said that the beta test phase is coming.

So far, the developer does not have a release date set, but if you want a Diablo II remaster and you don’t want to wait around for Blizzard to do it, this is probably your best bet.

StarCraft: Remastered Will Try (and Succeed) at Bringing Brood War Back Mon, 27 Mar 2017 19:18:36 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Rumors of StarCraft: Remastered had been floating around for some time, but the revamp of Blizzard's renowned RTS wasn't officially announced until Saturday's I StarCraft community event in Korea. A graphical update isn't all that Blizzard will be bringing to the game this year.

No one would blame you for not paying attention to the current professional state of a 20-year-old game, but if you are one of those community members who's been keeping up with the StarCraft: Brood War scene, you probably aren't surprised at all that Brood War is getting attention from Blizzard again. The writing has been on the pro scene wall.

Trading the new for the old

It's no secret StarCraft 2 has been slowly falling out of esports favor. It's been a slow and painful process for its community and any possible explanation as to why gets convoluted quickly. There are a lot of potential reasons -- it's best to leave it at that.

In the West it may seem like the StarCraft IP as a whole is nearing the end of its line, but in South Korea StarCraft: Brood War is seeing a resurgence as old professionals are turning back the clock and returning to the game as new blood flows into the scene. It may not be as big as it used to be, but its continued popularity in South Korea is undeniable, especially in the face of the decline of its sequel.

All four of these SC:BW superstars (From left: Bisu, Flash, Jaedong, Stork) were featured in a Blizzard interview in 2012 about their excitement over switching to StarCraft 2. All four are back on the Brood War circuit.

What's kept the game going these 19 years in Korea is a unique mix of game balance and familiarity. StarCraft: Brood War was technically the first esport and has been broadcast on television in the country for years -- and its mainstream popularity made it a household name well before the esports boom elsewhere. StarCraft was/is a phenomenon in South Korea. Not everyone plays it these days, but everyone knows it exists.

The game's balance is the biggest factor to its success. Those on the outside may assume one race dominates the others, but as years of professional-level matches have shown, Brood War's meta is an ever-changing beast. The way the pros play now is far removed from the way they played a few years ago, and even further removed from a few years before. There is something to be said about a game that continues to evolve, even now 19 years from its release.

The gift of patch 1.18

StarCraft: Brood War is officially going free-to-play on March 30th, and with it is coming patch 1.18. This marks the first actual Brood War patch since 2009 -- and it's bringing not only some modern quality-of-life adjustments, but two game changing unit bug fixes.

The most exciting quality of life changes coming with 1.18 lie in the addition of keybind options, observer mode, UI adjustments, a popular maps option when looking for games, and Fish ladder support for competitive players. This all sounds great, especially when paired with the rest of the patch notes.

The two unit changes in 1.18 are sure to make big waves in the current meta and are sure to make things more difficult for Zerg players.

The first and biggest is that Valkyries will no longer stop firing when there are too many units on screen. This was previously caused by the Valkyrie's attack taking up 8 sprites at once, which is no longer an issue on modern machines. One can only imagine we'll be seeing more Valkyries in competitive play with this change.

The second is a change to the Protoss bread-and-butter ranged unit, the Dragoon. Every Protoss match has them, and it's no secret that pre-1.18 Dragoons have always been a little wonky despite their prevalence. After the patch they will no longer freeze up and require a stop order before they can take a new order -- effectively making Dragoons take less effort to use effectively.

The changes in 1.18 effectively modernize the framework of the game just enough to bump it back into an esports spotlight. While it all sounds amazing, what's in this patch isn't the only thing to get excited about. Even better things are in store for Brood War this summer.

Free standard or paid Remaster?

Some people seem confused about how this whole "free" and "remaster" thing is going to happen, so here's the two-part gist:

  1. StarCraft: Brood War is going completely free-to-play on March 30th with the 1.18 patch. Anyone can download and play the game for free with the improvements as of 1.18.
  2. StarCraft: Remastered will be an optional additional purchase available later this year. Matchmaking should be coming with the Remaster release, and will be available to everyone. Standard Brood War and Remaster's visuals will be in the same client.

Remastered's visuals are essentially cleaned up sprites -- which is welcome for many Brood War vets, but confusing for a number of modern gamers wondering why they didn't just remake the game in StarCraft 2's engine, why the field of view is staying the same, or why they're not removing the 12 unit selection cap. There are some very good reasons for these things staying the same, and those lie in the competitive scene.

Much of Brood War's legendary balance hangs on the the game engine itself. Brood War on another engine simply would not be the same game -- and a game that still sees so much competitive play should not have its balance overturned for the casual playerbase. Especially in the case of a game that's been professionally played (on television no less) for so long.

But this leads us to the big question. Who is Remastered for? If it's not to appease a modern market that's eager to see what's long been considered one of the most balanced competitive games out there changed on a whim, who is it for? The answer is not very surprising.

Professional revitalization

There are two aspects to the 1.18 and upcoming Remastered that are extremely telling.

The first is that it's going to be totally free-to-play, regardless of whether you purchase the graphical upgrade. The second is that matchmaking is coming with Remastered, and that is something any game needs to survive in today's market.

StarCraft 2's dipping player numbers and Brood War's rejuvenated professional scene certainly correlate with one another. Brood War's chugging along, but no one's going to say its playerbase is bursting. Too much of the game outside of the gameplay itself is antiquate -- and when compared to other popular esports, that's likely the reason we're seeing Blizzard return to make these quality-of-life changes.

It's difficult for an old game with such antiquated framework to survive, much less thrive, in such a competitive market. Game player numbers are competitive. The games themselves are competitive. If Brood War wants to live on in today's market and pull in a substantial amount of new professional blood, it needs to get the updates its getting in 1.18. It needs the slight graphical overhaul, and it absolutely needs matchmaking.

South Korea's gaming culture is entirely different from what we know here in the West. StarCraft may have been developed by an American studio, but it's not geared toward Western audience. There's a reason StarCraft: Remaster was announced in Korea -- even StarCraft 2 was initially announced in Korea. The Western market is not the game's audience.

All of the changes coming and the free-to-play shift are going to revitalize Brood War internationally, but it's going to do that doubly so in the land that loves it most. With MOBAs decimating StarCraft 2 in popularity, the only way Blizzard can win back the hearts of Korean gamers is to give Brood War the attention it needs to stay relevant.

We here in the West are only along for the ride, but that doesn't mean the this year isn't going to be the best time to dip into Brood War in ages. The hype is real among older players and those who didn't get to experience the game in its prime.

Getting into a match is going to be easier than ever thanks to matchmaking, and the game's custom maps and lobby culture are going to be a treat for the more adventurous and social RTS player. 1.18 and Remastered may be primarily focused on the professional scene, but there is no saying more casual players aren't going to enjoy the changes just as much.

Come this summer we'll be able to say that old trusty Brood War is back with a vengeance. Only time will tell if StarCraft 2 will be able to survive.

Have You Got Carpal Tunnel? My Journey to Recovery, and Creation of the RBT Thu, 16 Mar 2017 08:00:02 -0400 Qalmighty

If you are a serious PC gamer for some time, then you might have experienced some level of pain and/or numbness in your hands. Sometimes its been referred to as Carpal Tunnel. 

My journey with Carpal Tunnel started in senior year of college, as for everyone, League was a big deal, then. So I spent a couple of thousand hours on it. Yes, I was literally consumed by the game. My grades suffered, social life vanished, but who cares? I was having so much fun owning newbies! Things were going well, and I wasn't planning on stopping anytime soon.

That was until the day my right hand started to hurt, I thought it must've been some funny muscle glitch and it'd stopped in no time. But instead, the pain escalated quickly with each game I played.

Weeks past, and I finally decided to pay a visit to see the doctor.

Yup, I had Carpal Tunnel... (applauds here), I was officially a veteran gamer!

So, now what are my options?

Option A: Stop Gaming

no game

Option B: Surgery

carpal tunnel surgery

Option C: Gears Up "Ergonomic" Style

cost too much

I'm big on natural cures, so option B was a no-go.

My life literally didn't offer much outside of the PC games, and I was heavily in a love/hate relationship with them, so opting out was too much of a sacrifice.

I decided to go with option C.

I went and bought an expensive gaming mouse, wore a wristband, and kept ice bags nearby; they seemed to work for a little bit. Eventually, they stopped working, and the pain got much worse!

My family doctor suggested that I get carpal tunnel surgery, but I decided to give myself a second chance (not because I fear the operation, but the scar just seemed too horrid).

I decided then, it was time to try option A...

...and for the next 5 years I quit gaming, cold.

Life went on okay, I graduated college and went to the job world. Occasionally, I'd hear some buzz about tournaments and addictive new games like Overwatch.

About 3 years later, in 2013, I got a crazy idea on how to get back into gaming: I was going to invent a new kind of "mouse." It would have to solve all the pains associated with using a mouse, for it to be good. So for the next four years, I started working on a secret project known as "The QuadraClicks Mouse" -- the ultimate weapon that would fix my carpal tunnel problem, and letting me own at my favorite games, again!

The more I worked at it, the more I became devastated, because the original idea was to create something that "upclicks" (clicking by lifting a finger to even out the muscular motions as a means to rebuilding the muscles.) I had some press coverage, but it was very counter-intuitive, as I couldn't persuade any of my gamer buddies that it was a good idea.

One evening I found myself staring at my 3D printed model (picture below, next to the regular mouse), not sure why I wanted to lay my hand on top of the elevated parts instead of the usual underway approach, I couldn't help but notice how amazingly comfortable it felt.

Patents Pending - USA & World

By recreating the base structure, we are able to eliminate forced finger bending, fingertip clicking, palm suppression, and add in the missing pieces -- elevated finger support.

contrast with other productA massive contrast to a regular gaming mouse

About a year ago, after hearing so many comments like "hey it looks like a rabbit." I renamed the product "RBT - Right aBove Touch" and have field tested it with many astonished professionals and amateur gamers.

Some demo photos from conventions for the general public:

During GDC (Game Developers Conference) 2017 in San Francisco:

Doing demos during CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2017 in Las Vegas:

I've been using RBT (picture below) for more than a year now.  The result? Find me on League, Diablo3, & Overwatch

A live demo & interview from the Hardware Hound for CES 2017:

With over two decades of misuse, it's time we stop punishing ourselves. The RBT is ready to rock the Gaming World, but are you?

Follow us here for future updates, also opt in to the newsletter to be alerted when the RBT becomes available!

Writers note: I am the creator of the RBT.


9 Games with the Best Artificial Intelligence Sun, 05 Mar 2017 09:20:12 -0500 Serhii Patskan




Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Release date: September 12, 2013
Platforms: PC


ARMA 3 is known for a super precise enemy AI. Ever heard of clear shots on 300 or 400 meter distances? Yep, that’s ARMA 3. But many people don’t know that the best thing about the AI in ARMA 3 is that it is fully customizable.


If you know how to edit “.ini” files, then you can easily set up the game’s AI to your liking. On the other hand, you could just download and install one of the many AI mods that are freely distributed for the game.


However, most players have adapted to the default settings, and show no mercy for their enemies.


What other games do you know of that possess a great AI? Share their titles and leave your opinions on why you think so in the comments.


Alien: Isolation


Developer: Creative Assembly
Release date: October 7, 2014
Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One


You would think that the true star of the game is the main character, in this case Amanda Ripley… but no -- it’s the Xenomorph. This creepy alien and its constant, looming presence throughout the entire game makes it a particularly interesting case for an enemy AI study.


This kind of prolonged interaction between the protagonist and the antagonist is unprecedented in the world of gaming. It probably took a lot of effort to program the complex behavior of the creature that would jump out of the most unexpected places.


Clive Gratton, technical director on Alien: Isolation, said the following about the multi-layered AI system (read the full interview here):


“Our basic premise for the AI was ‘not to cheat’. The level is pre-processed to find interesting places for the Alien to search. We then drop it in with a few parameters to say how fast to search, where and what size radius. If the Alien hasn’t spotted the player then it’ll do a leisurely search of a large area. If you can hear the Alien in the vents close to you then there’s more chance that it can hear you and will come down. It is actually traversing through the vent network.”


StarCraft II


Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Release date: July 27, 2010
Platforms: PC


Long-time SarCraft players may laugh at this suggestion, because even the Hard and Elite AI in StarCraft II is not too impressive. But again, this is the case if you’re an experienced player. However, if you’re just starting out in the StarCraft universe, playing against AI is your best option, and it is built exactly for that reason.


The AI in StarCraft II follows the same sequence every time, which is perfect for learning and developing your first strategy against it. Later, when you know what you’re doing, you can start playing against real players.


And the last cool thing to mention is the upcoming StarCraft II challenge offered by the British AI developer -- DeepMind. It’s the one that beat the Go world champion last year, and it would be really interesting to see how this intelligence will fair against Blizzard’s own AI sometime in 2017.


Far Cry 2


Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release date: October 21, 2008
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360


It is a sad thing to say, but the Far Cry series doesn’t get any better with every new installment. Ubisoft tries to appeal to a more casual player these days, but at one point, Far Cry was one of the most unforgiving games ever made.


The first one was developed by Crytek, and then Ubisoft helmed the second one, and the rest of them followed. Far Cry 2 was so challenging that people went as far as calling it “sadistic”… and it was for a reason. The enemy AI was simply brutal, and there were no friendly NPCs -- everybody was hostile.


There was no real system to the AI’s behavior -- it was just incredibly chaotic and unpredictable. This alone made the game super hard, even for veteran gamers.


Halo: Reach


Developer: Bungie
Release date: September 14, 2010
Platforms: Xbox 360


Halo: Reach stands out from the rest of the games in the cult series from Microsoft due to its staggering AI. This statement regards the Elites, who are some of the smartest and most aggressive enemies you will ever encounter in a video game.


One could re-play the campaign over and over again without ever getting bored because the AI would behave differently every time. When the fans figured this out, they decided to push the AI in the game to its limits. And thus, in 2011, a team called “Termacious Trickocity” recorded more than 150 hours of gameplay in an attempt to show just how good the AI is in Halo: Reach.


The result can be seen in the video above, which is a 10-minute montage of the best moments from the entire Termacious Trickocity run. One of the members of the said team, Aaron Sekela, stated the following:


“Our hardest trick though would probably be the ‘Exodus Marine Collection.’ That’s the trick that starts around the 5:48 mark and ends at the 6:29 mark. We were in that game for 7 hours, getting the marines to cooperate was extremely annoying, we had to make sure they didn’t get killed by enemies or being launched over the river. Once over the river we need to drive 10 minute to get the marines, to the top of a huge mountain. We had to go back and forth about 4 or 5 times. Lack of check points didn’t help either.”


XCOM: Enemy Unknown


Developer: Firaxis Games
Release date: October 9, 2012
Platforms: PC, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360


Alien AI is the reason why the reboot of the XCOM series succeeded back in 2012. And the person responsible for that AI was Alex Cheng, who decided to make the AI not just distinctive, but also entertaining.

This effect was achieved “by means of a utility-based system -- a system that gave a measure of 'usefulness' to every possible action.” 


And this is what XCOM is known for: its limited system of movement that requires the AI to calculate the most efficient way of action for each of its turns. It would consider everything, such as the distance to the closest objective, proximity to other aliens, the number of enemies, the behavior of the enemies, and more.


This approach to AI is truly groundbreaking and should be taken into consideration by other aspiring video game developers.


Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist


Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Release date: August 20, 2013
Platforms: PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360


The objectives in all missions of Blacklist are basically the same -- avoid guards at all costs. You got it right -- it’s a hard stealth game. The guard AI is truly something here, and generally speaking, the AI in the Splinter Cell series has always been a subject of fascination.


It reminds me a lot of a chess game. You enter an area, detect all the guards, figure out the plan of evasion, and move forward to a complete execution of the mission. But it’s not as easy to do as it sounds. The guards are programmed to detect and react to the smallest things -- not just visual cues, but audible ones as well.


On top of that, they have dogs that prowl in the most unexpected corners, forcing you to reveal your position. It’s really something, and people have been writing entire essays on just how good the AI is in Splinter Cell: Blacklist -- you can read one of them here.


The Last of Us


Developer: Naughty Dog
Release date: June 14, 2013
Platforms: PS3


If you’re wondering what this game is doing here (since the enemy AI in TLOU isn’t much to write home about) it’s really not about enemies this time, but instead about a companion AI -- Ellie. The teenage girl, the key to the survival of all humanity, is the star of the game, and it’s mainly because of an excellent AI.


Did you know that the release of TLOU was initially delayed for five months? The director of the game decided to overwrite the entire companion AI from scratch. Well, it’s a good thing that he did, because Ellie has become a true friend and not just another burden on your hands.


Here’s what Naughty Dog's Max Dyckhoff said about Ellie’s AI at GDC 2014 (watch the full presentation here):


“Much of this was built on simple ideas, such as how to decide where Ellie should stand: the basic mechanics decide a zone she can inhabit, then draws a series of lines between her and Joel, the direction she's looking in, and where she could potentially move to. If any of those lines hit a wall or obstacle, then Ellie can't stand there.”




Developer: Monolith Productions
Release date: October 17, 2005
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360


If there was ever a good AI in any FPS game, it was definitely the one in F.E.A.R. The enemies would never act in the same way, but they would react to each other’s situations and would never repeat the same mistakes. This prompted players to constantly change tactics and never sit in the same position.


Here’s how the designers of the AI have described their approach to F.E.A.R. (read full statement):


“In F.E.A.R., A.I. use(s) cover more tactically, coordinating with squad members to lay suppression fire while others advance. A.I. only leave cover when threatened, and blind fire if they have no better position.”


On top of that, enemy AI always applies pressure -- at times, you don’t even have the time to heal. The harder the difficulty you choose to play, the better the AI behaves.


That's not to mention the weapons physics and movement animations in this game were groundbreaking for its time.


Many game developers intentionally make the AI in their games easy to deal with. Only a few choose the hard way and try to challenge their fanbase by making AI behave in more inventive ways than just duck, dodge, fire. 


And of course, every gamer has his or her own favorite titles, but these nine games are universally praised for offering something new in the department of artificial intelligence. Each case has its own peculiar approach, and each shows just how deep one can dive into the possibilities of machine psychology.


Different genres of games utilize different algorithms when it comes to programming AI. For example, FPS games implement the layered structure of the artificial intelligence system, while RTS games have several modules, such as effective path-finding, economic structuring, game map analysis, and more.


You will learn about all these different algorithms in the list that follows. Let's get started. 

Blizzard Plans to Cease Support for Games on Windows XP and Vista Sun, 19 Feb 2017 10:23:01 -0500 Nam T. Bui

Blizzard recently announced that they will end support for all of their titles on Windows XP and Windows Vista, operating platforms that are currently entering their 16th and 11th years, respectively. 

In a statement posted to the Diablo III forum, the developer announced that they will no longer support World of WarcraftStarCraft IIDiablo IIIHearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm on those platforms beginning later this year. A definite date was not provided by Blizzard as of the time of this writing.  

With the release of three new Windows OS (Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10) over the last decade, the company believes the majority of their player base has already upgraded to these newer versions of Microsoft's operating system. Blizzard is currently planning for a staggered schedule (of which, again, there is no definite initiation date) to phase out Windows XP and Windows Vista support. 

Windows XP is considered to be one of the most successful operating systems in Microsoft family. Despite Microsoft ceasing support of the OS back in 2012, its popularity had helped the OS live on amongst adopters. Furthermore, Windows XP has been widely considered the most compatible OS for older Windows-based games than later operating systems like Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more information regarding Blizzard's roll-out plan for ceasing game support on Windows XP and Windows Vista. 

WoW Tokens Can Now Be Turned into Battle.Net Currency Mon, 06 Feb 2017 16:28:48 -0500 Unclepulky

For fans of World of Warcraft, there's a brand new way to use those hard-earned tokens.

WoW Tokens originally just acted as a representation of 30-days of game time. Now though, in certain regions, players have the option of using their tokens in the traditional way, OR trading them in for $15 USD, which will be deposited in their balance.

Players will be able to use this money on any game connected to, including Starcraft 2, Overwatch, and of course, WoW itself.

For those interested in taking advantage of this new opportunity, WoW Tokens are obtainable through two methods. You can either pay for them in real-world currency, or you can simply buy one at the in-game Auction House at a variable price.

If you have any questions, you can find your answers in this guide to using WoW Tokens on

Will you be taking advantage this new feature? If so, what will you be spending your new money on? Let us know in the comments!

5 Original Diablo Bosses That We'd Love to See in D3's Anniversary Patch Sun, 01 Jan 2017 12:04:36 -0500 Craig Snyder

Blizzard is anywhere between just hours and days away from releasing content to celebrate their 20th anniversary across Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Starcraft II and World of Warcraft. Diablo III was the first game to get a sneak peek at what's coming when it was unveiled at Blizzcon that the original Diablo world was going to be recreated within the game.

While we've looked into the broad details, we've spared the specifics because—even writers—we'd really love to experience this all first-hand and as a surprise! That being said, there are some iconic and incredible bosses from the original Diablo that we'd love to see come back for us all to hack and slash our way through in the next few days. Here's our list of five Diablo bosses that we've got our fingers crossed for.

The Butcher

"Ah… Fresh meat!" Let's start off with the obvious choice. Although he appears in Diablo III, there's nothing quite like your first encounter with the original boss.

This giant, cleaver-wielding menace has his own quest and resides in a room full of bloodied and mutilated corpses. Anyone out there who has attempted to take The Butcher on with a low-level character knows what a mistake that typically is.

The Butcher is incredibly fast and will chase players into confined spaces where it's easy for him to hack them to death his cleaver. Only rogues are able to move faster than The Butcher, which lends to the superior strategy of taking this brute down being leading him to the third level of the Cathedral where you can trap him between the stairway and then shoot him with a bow.

To stand up to The Butcher in melee combat, you need a minimum of 55 Dexterity to land hits without taking so much damage that he straight-up kills you. Needless to say, we're really eager to see what happens with Diablo's first major boss in their anniversary remake.

The Skeleton King

The Skeleton King is another shoo-in. Skeletons and undead are extremely common in Diablo -- and the other games of the series -- but The Skeleton King is special. In single-player mode, The Skeleton King is accessed by pulling a lever in King Leoric's Tomb. Upon entering the level, The Skeleton King wastes no time in coming directly at the player with his small army of skeletons. Killing the skeletons eventually becomes a useless strategy as The Skeleton King will just spawn more of them. 

What makes the fight against Leoric so frustrating is that he has 100 percent Life Steal, which means that every single point of damage he deals to you is restored to him. Luckily, he's pretty weak and hammers do a lot of damage to him.

Once defeated, the Skeleton King drops The Undead Crown, a helmet that offers 0–12.5 percent Life Steal. This item is extremely unique as there's only one other item in the game in this same slot that provides this statistic.

Zhar the Mad

Despite a significant appearance in Diablo II, a lot of people never knew that Zhar even existed in the original Diablo.

Why Zhar? We want his awesome dialogue recreated. Diablo doesn't get enough credit for how it weaves in hilarious and strange dialogue like this into some of its fights. It's almost Pulp Fiction-esque.

In the original Diablo, you find Zhar in the Catacombs of Level 8. Talking to him will get you a random spellbook, and he'll warn you not to touch the bookcase. Doing so will start the boss fight.

For ranged classes, Zhar is a breeze. Kiting him out as a Rogue or Sorcerer shouldn't give you many problems, but Warriors and other melee classes may find the fight to be relatively difficult. To succeed, players using a melee class must move around in an attempt to get Zhar to teleport himself into a corner and then, once he does this, you gotta' bash his head in.

All in all, it would be a great sequence -- and fight -- to relive in Diablo III.

Archbishop Lazarus

Lazarus is inarguably one of the most memorable battles from the original game.

Deckard Cain initiates the quest involving Lazarus after you retrieve the Staff of Lazarus. After, a red town portal is opened and through it awaits one of the best cutscenes from the second half of the game.

Lazarus is accompanied in this fight by Red Vex and Blackjade, his two succubus bodyguards. Experienced players know to leave the area after the cutscene is over so that you can deal with them one by one before taking on Lazarus. Fighting all three at the same time is quite the task.

Lazarus is not only and interesting and engaging fight, but he is an important fight because defeating him grants you access to Level 16, which leads to…


This should come as no surprise. We all want another go at the original Diablo boss fight. A lot of die-hard fans will tell you that this was the hardest Diablo fight in the entire series. Is it just nostalgia talking?

In the original Diablo, you start this fight by working your way through the entire level, killing monsters and flipping levers to progress through the rooms and eventually release Diablo from a sealed box guarded by Blood Knights and Advocates. However, everyone would just use Telekenesis over the walls… Oh, and you better have a lot of potions before you decide to do that.

Killing Diablo means the game is over. All of your drops are stuff that you've left in town mean nothing. You get that amazing cinematic and then a sinking feeling when you realize it's done. I hope we get to experience that again. The Diablo fight is always special, but the first will always have a special place in our hearts.

So, what do you think? Is there a particular boss that you really miss and want to see come back? Many speculate that the 20th anniversary patch will hit Diablo III on the 6th of January, but Blizzard has been cagey on details. The official date of Diablo's anniversary is actually the 31st, so perhaps the patch will drop then.

Be on the lookout for this exciting retro content and let me know what you're most looking forward to in the comments below!

Here's a Preview of Alexei Stukov, the Next StarCraft II Co-Op Commander Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:24:19 -0500 Kris Cornelisse (Delfeir)

A huge fan favourite and a frequent request since the introduction of StarCraft's Co-op mode, the infested Terran Alexei Stukov was finally unveiled at BlizzCon 2016. Today, a full preview of his army and upgrade progression has been shown off by Blizzard.

Perfectly blending Terran machinery with Zerg infestation to create an army of horrible biomechanical abominations, Stukov's army will have a mix of both worlds. He starts each game with a Colonist Compound, which produces waves of infested for free to batter enemies while you build up your army and can be upgraded to unleash literal hordes.

Once he gets going and gains a few levels, Stukov will be able to unleash the monstrous Apocolisk or summon his infested Battlecruiser Aleksander to carve destruction through his foes. Despite slight concerns about his variety of units being extremely limited and plain, he still does look like a lot of fun, and I'm excited to finally play him.

Of all the StarCraft II updates released with the launch of Legacy of the Void, Co-op mode has been the biggest surprise sleeper hit. A less demanding mode for playing StarCraft with a friend and taking on the computer in an array of bite-sized challenges with a steady progression system? It's the kind of RTS niche that we didn't know needed filling until we had it, and it's been receiving steady updates ever since its inclusion.

While there has been no official announcement for his release date, past trends related to these previews would suggest Patch 3.9 will go live on Tuesday, December 13th. However, this is still speculation, so take this with a grain of salt. Stukov will cost $4.99 USD.

If you've not had a chance to try the Co-op mode yet, it is available with the FREE Starter Edition of StarCraft II. Additional Commanders are available to those who have purchased Legacy of the Void, and more are available for similar prices to Stukov.

Are you keen to bring a new meaning to Zerg Russian? Ready to bring the zombie horde down on Amon's forces? Sound out in the comments!

The Top 10 Most Prolific eSports Players in the Scene Right Now Sun, 13 Nov 2016 13:45:01 -0500 Lydia M

It's the argument older than eSports itself. Who is the best? Well, with hundreds of different games and tournaments to choose from, it's definitely hard to decide. For the most part, the decision is up to you. But combining talent and titles, it's simple to see who comes out on top. 

These 10 players have shown exceptional skill and dedication to their respective eSport over the years. Some may not have been as successful as others, but to fans, sometimes that doesn't really matter. 

Here's who we think are the Top 10 most prolific eSports players on the scene right now based on skill and popularity.

10. Armada
Super Smash Brothers: Melee
Team Alliance

Armada is regarded as one of the ‘Five Gods’ of melee, a group of five players in the modern competitive era who are the highest ranking and most skilled players in the world. There isn’t really an order to the Five Gods, as they all have the same talent to beat each other. Being a Swedish native, Armada’s U.S. tournament record from 2011-2013 is nothing short of amazing. He’s competed in the Grand Finals at every Apex he’s attended and dominated every tournament he’s been in in 2016, reaching at least the top two in 11 out of 14 tournaments.

Armada is also most known in the Smash scene for revolutionizing the playing abilities of Peach, as well as having amazing skills at maneuvering projectiles, dubbing him the title ‘The Swedish Sniper’.


9. Rich
Heroes of the Storm
MVP Black

Rich has helped lead MVP Black to an amazing record since joining their Heroes Team in January, never losing to a non-Korean team all year. Well, until they faced Fnatic at BlizzCon.

Rich has probably the strongest hero pool as a flex player but is best known for his melee assassins, especially Thrall. Being such an amazing flex player, Rich has been able to dominate just about every 1v1 he faces. He’s just scary to come up against. It’s not really possible to ‘carry’ a whole team in Heroes of the Storm, but if there was a way, Rich would be the player to do it. He also consistently holds the #1 spot on the Korean leader boards. So there's that ... 


8. Neeb
StarCraft 2

2016 has been a strong year for Neeb in StarCraft 2. Ending #1 in the WCS circuit with 5900 points, he represented America in the KeSPA Cup and narrowly became the first non-Korean to reach the semi-finals of a Korean StarCraft event since 2011. Not only that, but he won the whole event, and winning as a foreigner gained him a lot of respect from fellow StarCraft players. Along with KeSPA, he became the first American to make the WCS Global Top 16 -- although he lost in the quarterfinals at BizzCon.

Neeb is especially known for his strong PvT play online due to his intimate knowledge of the Terran race, although he now plays Protoss. With Korea dominating SC2 eSports, Neeb is loved by all as the most successful SC2 player to represent North America.


7. n0thing
Counter Strike: Global Offensive

As one of the most entertaining CS:GO players to watch, n0thing is also fairly successful on Cloud9. In the two years he's played for the American squad, he’s racked up four premier titles in 2016 alone. He’s a solid anchor for the team and one of the few players that has attended every Major so far, and one of the few American players to achieve Legend at a Major.

N0thing also earned the nickname ‘Iceman’, after he had an amazing performance at ESWC 2015, even with a high fever.


6. coldzera
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
SK Gaming

Representing Brazil on SK Gaming coldzera was named MVP at both MLG Columbus and ESL One: Cologne. With strong and diverse gun usage, instead of making amazing individual plays, he’s such a strong support player for the team and utilizes his skills to setup plays for everyone. Coldzera is also known as one of the better flash grenade users in the game. In 2016 alone he’s helped lead SK to four first place finishes and five second place finishes in premier tournaments.


5. Bengi
League of Legends
SK Telecom T1

As one of two League of Legends players to hold three World Championship titles, Bengi is certainly a powerful asset to SK Telecom T1. He isn’t necessarily known to make huge plays himself, but he’s able to keep up the momentum and set up plays for his teammates. He is highly regarded as the best Jungler in the world and was considered the MVP of the 2016 World Championship. While he only played in about half of the games for SKT at Worlds but his impact was certainly felt.


4. Suma1L
Evil Geniuses

At only 17 years old, and playing professionally for barely two years, Suma1L is one of the core players on Evil Geniuses Dota2 team. In February 2015 Evil Geniuses participated in the Dota 2 Asian Championships making it all the way to the grand finals. Those finals would establish Suma1L as one of the best mid-laners with a legendary Storm Spirit. Continuing to assist the team to victory, EG won TI5 making him the youngest player ever to surpass $1 million in eSports earnings. He attended TI6 for the second time under Evil Geniuses but only placed third. Later, In October Suma1L was featured in Time Magazine’s top 30 influential teenagers.


3. Dendi
Natus Vincere

Dendi is really THE professional when it come to Dota play. He’s stayed with Natus Vincere his entire career, since 2010. With the success of Na’Vi he’s also the only player in Dota 2 history to have participated in all six TI’s under the same organization.

Despite his success, Dendi always has a positive and goofy attitude that fans adore. He really doesn’t have any haters. Fans either love him or don’t really mind if he wins -- or loses.


2. UNiVeRsE
Evil Geniuses

Universe comes at an extremely close second on our list, as he is the highest earning eSports player of all time. As a key part of Evil Geniuses' continued success, Universe is known as the best offlaner in the world with high regards to his Dark Seer and Faceless Void. He’s been in all TI’s except the first, placing third at TI4 and winning TI5, both with the same team. Probably one of the most famous Dota plays in history was made by Universe at TI5, now dubbed the “6 Million Dollar Echo Slam.”


1. Faker
League of Legends
SK Telecom T1

Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. Faker is widely known as probably the greatest eSports player of all time. He joined SK Telecom for League of Legends when he was only 17 and has led them to three World Championship titles since. A feat he shares with one other player, his fellow teammate, Bengi. His success as a top eSports player comes from his hugely diverse champion pool, having played about 40 different champions.

Despite the mounds of popularity, Faker is extremely reserved and rarely shows any form or rage or tilt, instead letting his game play speak for itself. At 20 years old he’s the most successful League of Legends player and undoubtedly the most prolific eSports player right now.


This list could change any day, as quickly and progressively as eSports evolves. But to be the best, you have to BEAT the best and right now, these 10 players are certainly the best at what they do.

Agree with our list? Disagree? Who should be added? Let us know in the comments below!

BlizzCon Opening Ceremony Reveals Sombra, Diablo Remake, and More Fri, 04 Nov 2016 11:46:46 -0400 David Fisher

BlizzCon's opening ceremonies are the main thing to watch for upcoming Blizzard Entertainment updates, games, and more. This year was no different, as big news dropped for OverwatchStarcraft II, Diablo III, and more.

In case you missed it, here's everything you need to know about this year's announcements!

Blizzard Announcements

This year marked a number of anniversaries for Blizzard as a company. BlizzCon 2016 marked the 10th annual BlizzCon, the 25th anniversary of Blizzard Entertainment, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Diablo series. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime took the time to thank both employees and fans of Blizzard for their dedication and passion for the company over the years.

Morhaime also briefly announced that Allen Adham would be coming out of retirement to rejoin the Blizzard Entertainment time. Allen Adham was one of the original founders of Blizzard Entertainment, and major consultants throughout the company's early history.


Originally passed off as a homage to Overwatch's launch earlier this year, Sombra quickly hacked into the presentation to reveal her animated short, "Infiltration". In this short, we get to see the inner workings of Talon operations, as well as some insights into the motives and mentality of Overwatch's latest hero.

Interestingly enough, Sombra is not actually the villain she was made out to be. In fact, she appears to be a character who enjoys indulging in pure chaos. In the beginning Sombra aids Widowmaker and Reaper as they break into Volkskya Industries -- only to stab them in the back without their knowing and taking advantage of the situation to bolster her own resources.

Morhaime also announced that there would be several new maps and game modes coming to Overwatch in the coming weeks. These new maps include Oasis and Ecopoint Antarctica.

Oasis is a map that takes place in a desert area that has been terraformed completely for habitation. This high tech city will roll out as a new map in the future.

Ecopoint Antarctica is a map specifically designed for arcade 1v1 and 3v3 game modes. This map takes place in the facility where Mei was cryogenically frozen, and is expected to hold fast-paced battles between smaller groups than traditional games. It was also used to highlight a revamp of the Arcade mode system coming soon.

According to Morhaime, all of these features will be present in the Public Test Realm by December.

Starcraft II

Not particularly unexpected -- but entirely well received -- was the announcement that Alexi Stukov will be joining the already strong list of co-op commanders available for players in Starcraft II. Stukov will play quite differently from previous commanders. Unlike other races, Stukov's army is a unique Terran army composed solely of infested units.

His main gimmick is to infest the enemy army, slowly taking control of the entire map. From the looks of it, the best way to take advantage of him during gameplay is for commanders to be much more aggressive. This means attacking the enemy base as opposed to the usual turtling or hit-and-run strategies co-op players might be familiar with.

Blizzard's CEO also welcomed DeepMind to the stage to announce a new partnership in which the researchers at DeepMind will be developing AI for Starcraft II. They are also looking forward to having competitions for public programmers to start hosting tournaments between AI programs, as well as the possibility of a future tournament between DeepMind's AI and BlizzCon's Starcraft II human champion.

Last but not least, the Nova Covert Ops will have its final episode released on November 22nd, 2016. This episode will wrap up Nova's story that takes place after the events of Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void.

Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm also saw its fair share of announcements at BlizzCon. First up is the announcement of two new characters coming to the Nexus: Varian Wrynn and Ragnaros.

Varian and Ragnaros both have unique methods of play. The Alliance hero will be the first multi-class hero in Heroes of the Storm, able to function in six different positions, including the four traditional classes depending on which perks are upgraded over the course of the game.

Ragnaros, on the other hand, will be able to take over allied towers and become somewhat like a map boss in both size and strength. Excelling in clearing lanes with ease, Ragnaros can be expected to be one of the best suited lane pushers and defenders in the game upon release.

Diablo III

Diablo III's 20th anniversary is at hand, and what better way to celebrate it than by bringing back the Necromancer from Diablo II? Almost as if hinted at by his release in Heroes of the Storm, the Necromancer will be returning to the Diablo universe as a playable character in 2017. He (and his female counterpart) will arrive as part of the "Rise of the Necromancer" pack. This also means that it will likely be paid content.

What will be released for free as part of the anniversary, however, is a recreation of the original Diablo game in Diablo III. The final details are not yet set in stone, but the new area will see pixelated filters, 8-directional movement, and a 16 level dungeon which will host the 4 main bosses of the original game.

Other Announcements

Mike Morhaime briefly touched upon World of Warcraft, telling fans that the game will still see new content in 2017. One of these features includes the Felkitty pet for those who donate toward the next Make a Wish Foundation event. While other content for 2017 has been promised, very little was touched upon during the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Hearthstone saw the announcement of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, a new series of cards for the popular Warcraft-themed card game. This new expansion will see players teaming up with one of the three gangs of Gadgetzan, each faction featuring its own unique play style and cards.

That's it for now!

BlizzCon has just started, and there will be plenty more yet to come. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more updates.

Why Can't Developers Make Classic Franchises Great Forever? Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:00:01 -0400 Eliot Lefebvre

Mega Man. Sonic the Hedgehog. Final Fantasy. Resident Evil. Silent Hill. These are just a small number of franchises that helped define my personal gaming history. And they're also franchises with fans who react to new titles with less "oh, great!" and more "ugh, not again."

This is kind of an inversion from the earlier days of gaming; I remember that there was once an unofficial rule that movie sequels were always terrible while game sequels were always good. In several of the above cases, the franchises even have provided some great games along the way, but they're also games that didn't connect with the long-time fans who would have been eagerly awaiting the next installment.

So why aren't older franchises evergreen? Why do the games you loved two decades ago not lead to more games in the same style now? The answer is that there are a lot of reasons why classic franchises aren't great forever, and it's helpful to understand why that's the case.

The people responsible have left...

When people start listing the great Silent Hill games, they always include the first three, usually including the fourth with a bit of a grudging nod, and pretty much never include the later games. Incidentally, the first four games were the only ones developed by Team Silent at Konami, with each subsequent installment developed by a completely different team.

Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. The creative team behind a game can really inform a lot of what goes into the actual game, and that goes beyond just saying that the original designers are always the best at designing a franchise. Teams that work together and develop multiple games can often produce games that feel very similar to one another in a positive way, but once people move on or new people come on board, the games they produce often feel very different even if they have the same core ideas. When Inafune left Capcom, that didn't stop the publisher from making more Mega Man games... but it also meant that the original creator wasn't there any longer, and that was after several staff and platform changes.

You can't just hand off tasks to an endless series of different people who don't necessarily understand the appeal of the original games. Watching a team really nail a franchise for multiple installments is a thing of beauty; witness the past few Persona titles, for example. But it's never permanent.

...and they might not have the spark left anyway

Here's a fun fact: Hideo Kojima wanted to leave the Metal Gear franchise after every single title. Why does Metal Gear Solid 2 end with such a bizarre, nonsensical cliffhanger? Because Kojima never intended to resolve it. He didn't want any lingering cliffhangers after the first Metal Gear Solid, he wanted to make that and be done with it. But he kept getting pulled back for another one, resulting in an ongoing contest of wills in which the franchise just would not die.

It's not just a matter of spite, though; playing through Mighty No. 9 repeatedly made me think that maybe Inafune needed to hang up his hat, that he just didn't have any more Mega Man in him. The reality of that, is that it's fine. Games are art like any other form, and it's fine to hand off the reins to someone new after a while. It just means that you are going to see a different sort of game, probably one that doesn't exactly resemble the originals.

The franchise has evolved past your memory

Final Fantasy was Hironobu Sakaguchi's last game ever. That was the plan. He made a game he never expected to sell as a wild experiment, so he could leave the field happy. Instead, it wound up becoming a huge success, resulting in a long-running series that has always brought on a wide variety of different developers and storytellers to make a series of games that are not meant as direct sequels to one another.

When people complain that, say, Final Fantasy XIII feels so different from classic Final Fantasy games, it stands out simply because most of those classic games also feel so different from one another. The franchise is built on doing something new with every single installment, and while some of the conceptual walks are further than others, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single pair of games that feel like the same game with a different set of wrappers.

The bright side is that it means that each new title is something fresh and different. The down side is that if you buy Final Fantasy XIII expecting Final Fantasy VI but new, you're going to be disappointed. The exchange for a franchise never getting stale is that it doesn't maintain the same shape indefinitely.

The environment has changed too much

You could not release Resident Evil today as a brand-new game without the weight of the franchise behind it. The game's awkward controls and pre-rendered backgrounds worked in no small part because of when it was released; if it was launched today it would be panned for bad acting, bad storytelling, weak gameplay, and poor graphics.

All that is fine. But there's an attached point that's easy to overlook: every new release in a franchise is the first release for someone. Yes, you've been playing Sonic the Hedgehog since the oddly stutter-stop motion of the first game in the series, but to someone out there, the most recent game starring a blue hedgehog is the first one they've ever played. And the fact of the matter is that these franchises need to evolve, simply to continue marketing themselves against legions of other games who have been inspired and influenced by these originals.

This is particularly true of older games that marketed themselves on punishing difficulty designed to artificially extend the game by eating up quarters. (Even if you didn't actually have quarters.) No one is willing to buy a new game for $60 that you can blow through in an hour but takes you time to beat because you just keep getting killed consistently. That means that designers need to bulk out the game in some way, and in the case of franchises that traditionally work on the basis of straightforward smashing sequences, it means that the core needs to change to account for the new gaming environment.

There's no longer a market

It barely needs to be said that the gaming market and environment is very different now compared to where it was in, say, 1990. And yes, some of that is as simple as the fact that video games are no longer exclusively sold in the back reaches of department stores who might put one or two on the shoe racks if they find the box, but it goes much further than that. The availability of gaming devices, the ways we engage with games, the budgets of big titles... everything is different.

This means that even old franchises need to adapt and change, as mentioned above, but it goes beyond bulking out games. Our patience for some features has evaporated, while our patience for others has increased. When Blizzard first launched StarCraft, online play was a novelty that was essentially just a bonus; when StarCraft II came out, it was a major component of the game.

Unfortunately, it does mean that some of the stuff you loved from back in the day just doesn't stick around. But on the bright side, it means that there's a neverending stream of new things. We live in a world with such a maddening surfeit of gaming options that even if your favorite franchise goes in a direction you no longer care for, there are still so many new games out there. You can almost certainly find something that appeals specifically to you.

Or you can just play Pokémon. I mean, let's be real, that gameplay isn't changing much until the heat-death of the universe.

The 11 Best Horror Mods For All Your Favorite Games Mon, 10 Oct 2016 02:00:01 -0400 Ty Arthur


You may have noticed while scrolling through this list that there was no Fallout 4 entry – that's because we have a whole article devoted just to mods that turn the Boston Commonwealth into a horrific nightmare!


Have you played any of our picks for the best horror mods, and what scary total conversions would you recommend we try out this Halloween?


Minecraft: Resident Evil Mod


Get It Here!


We'll finish this list off with a silly little entry that puts all sorts of Resident Evil characters into pixel format for Minecraft! Through this mod you can now interact with characters like Nemesis, craft classic RE items like green and red herbs, etc. It's just plain old goofy fun for a bloody twist on Minecraft world building mechanics.



Skyrim: The Puppet King


Get It Here!


So, we could easily write 10 lists all of just Skyrim horror mods. There's got to b e dozens or even hundreds of them readily available online. This relatively smaller mod is an interesting example that ramps up the creepy factor with all the animated dolls and a staff that lets you craft your own puppet automaton companion.



Fallout New Vegas: Hell On Earth


Get It Here!


The Fallout games already have some mild horror elements with those irradiated ghouls and man-eating deathclaws, but this mod cranks that up to 11. There's bits of Silent Hill (Pyramid Head even makes an appearance) and all sorts of other horror tropes as the Courier explores new mist-shrouded locations that really do turn the wasteland into hell on earth!



Half-Life 2: Dear Esther


Get It Here!


Both of the Half-Life games have some incredible horror mods, so its hard to pick which ones to list. For Half-Life 2 we'll have to go with Dear Esther, which has a hazy, dream-like quality just dripping with atmosphere. It's much more slow moving than many of the other zombie-focused mods, but well worth experiencing anyway. 



Cry Of Fear


Get It Here!


Originally a Half-Life mod, Cry Of Fear became popular enough it is now available as a free standalone release through Steam. This dark mod has you exploring a mostly-empty city in search of clues for what's going in, in a Silent Hill meets Condemned style.



Half-Life: Paranoia


Get It Here!


The graphics are obviously quite dated at this point, but if you still enjoy playing the original Half-Life, Paranoia is an excellent mod to grab that offers a completely different experience, putting you in the role of a Russian soldier on a mission that will go very haywire.



Unreal Tournament 2004: Killing Floor


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Tournament 2004 is easily my personal favorite of the Unreal games, with fantastically ridiculous fast-paced arena combat. There was nothing like the thrill of hearing that announcer yell "dominating!" when you got a wicked kill streak going.


Killing Floor is a total conversion that drastically shifts style into a single player, modern day experience set in London that strongly pulls from F.E.A.R. 



Unreal Tournament 3: The Haunted


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It's always interesting to see the level of work and detail modders are able to put into conversions like these, taking action-focused games and massively changing their style and even visuals. The Haunted turns Unreal Tournament 3 into a zombie apocalypse simulator with a serious Resident Evil 4 vibe.



Far Cry 4: Devil In The Swamp


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There are a bunch of horror-focused custom maps that have now been made with the Far Cry 4 level editor, from basically unplayable movie demos to more objective-focused combat entries, and this visual feast is one of the more interesting ones to watch.


Completely different from the base game's style, Devil In The Swamp is thick on the atmosphere with creepy cabins, bone-strewn floors, bloody walls, and more.



Far Cry: Onirica


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Completely changing the color palette and style of Far Cry, Onirica evokes the feel of some of those classic horror titles of the PS1 days, from Nightmare Creatures to Silent Hill.



Starcraft 2: Resident Overmind


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A creative take on the RTS style of Starcraft 2, this custom map culls out all the base building elements and instead has you playing as one lone space marine. Our down-on-his-luck marine is headed to a military base strangely devoid of life... except for alien monstrosities that leap out of the darkness.


The camera angles are significantly modified from the base game, which coupled with the flickering darkness really changes the whole atmosphere and vibe of Starcraft to go in a survival horror direction.



October is prime time for pulling out the scary games, and we've already been covering the best of the best when it comes to atmospheric horror or straight up jump scares. You don't need to shell any money out for a new horror game if your collection is a little sparse though!


There are tons of mods available for existing games that take them a genuinely scary direction, from old classics like Half-Life all the way up to newer Far Cry, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout entries.


These 11 excellent mods all take shooter, strategy, or crafting games and add in a terrifying spin.

Has Starcraft 2 Lost its Popularity in eSports? Tue, 27 Sep 2016 05:50:24 -0400 David Fisher

It's no big secret that Starcraft: Brood War is perhaps one of the best known games breathing life into the competitive eSports scene. Alongside other titles such as Counter-Strike, Warcraft II and various other multiplayer games, Starcraft was able to ensure that eSports as we know them today grew to become a serious powerhouse in terms of entertainment.

Starcraft: Brood War's successor -- Starcraft II -- on the other hand was not so lucky. While fans originally awaited the sequel with open arms, a series of changes throughout the game's development cycle eventually saw the game being seen as more "casual" than its predecessor. While the game was able to maintain a following in East Asia and the surrounding regions, Starcraft 2 has almost fallen into obscurity as of late. But why has this happened?

Back in the Day

When Starcraft and its expansion pack Brood War were released in the late 1990s there wasn't much in terms of online competitive gaming. Competitive gaming up until the early 2000s was mostly focused on points-based competitions such as those seen in arcades. The few player-versus-player (PvP) games were likewise limited to fighting games or early first-person-shooters such as Quake, Counter-Strike, and similar titles.

While real time strategy games were not unheard of at this point, many of them lacked competitive viability. The reasons for this ranged from the lack of responsiveness of unit AI (see Age of Empires) or a general lack of counter-attack based gameplay. As a result, there was an ironic lack of strategy in these RTS games. Often times the matches would essentially boil down to whichever player was able to build the biggest army in the least amount of time or who built the right combination of units to combat the opponent's units.

Starcraft offered players something different. Players still had to make sure they had the right units to combat the enemy's build, but then they would also have to account for the wildcards amongst the enemy army. Units such as the Protoss High Templar ensured players would have to micro-manage their armies. Meanwhile, cloaked units had players on their toes constantly, checking every corner with detectors -- or else face nuclear devastation at the hands of a Ghost agent.

Multiple RTS games have appeared since the peak of Starcraft's popularity. The release of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos not only saw a rise in macro-management based gameplay, but also a shift toward games where individual actions amongst team settings were the focus. This was primarily due to the hero system the game put into place where the focus was less on economy and macro-management, and instead put upon micro-managing heroes with item builds being the focus.

While we won't likely be seeing a replacement for Warcraft III in the near future for a number of reasonsDefense of the Ancients -- a game that was heavily inspired by Warcraft III's hero system -- has become a spiritual successor to the RTS title. It also gave birth to the MOBA genre at large, providing players with a brand new genre that to this day has become a prominent force in the eSports industry.

A Fall From Grace...

While Starcraft II is still the most popular RTS title in the eSports ring, its viewership in the eSports scene pales compared to that of modern MOBA and FPS titles. A quick look on Twitch.TV will often show Starcraft II taking a back seat to games that players would likely not expect, such as Runescape, FIFA 17, and more.

Starcraft II started off well enough, but the main problem was that it has since had to rival big name MOBA titles such as League of Legends and Dota 2. With much larger prize pools, massive followings, and overall being easier to pick up (both in price and learning curve) than Starcraft II, both titles would overthrow the RTS giant before it had a chance to bury its roots.

A stale metagame...

While Starcraft II can certainly attribute its early success to a dedicated team of developers who sought to balance the game as much as humanly possible, the game itself suffered from a terribly stale competitive scene.

Unlike MOBA titles, Starcraft II suffered from a lack of diversity in gameplay. This was primarily due to the fact that Starcraft only has 3 playable races with 2-3 well known strategies under each race's belt. There are a number of tactics that diversify the game, but with such a limiting number of combinations it's easy to see why the game lacked the followings that Dota 2 and League of Legends obtained.

The 1-vs-1 format of Starcraft matches didn't help either. Matches were -- and still are -- almost robotic to watch compared to MOBA titles. The overwhelming levels of micromanagement and extremely high actions per minute meant viewers often were incapable of pulling off anything that their favorite players could. Such a gap would then alienate casual players who would have no interest in that level of play, and as a result the lack of appreciation would lower viewership.

Without a large viewership, a game's eSports scene dies because there is no money to be made. The rest is history...


This all seems like a sad story for Starcraft II's fans, but it should be remembered that the closest non-Blizzard Entertainment competitor for Starcraft II in the RTS eSports scene would be Age of Empires II (above). As such, the lack of current Starcraft II coverage is more likely to be attributed to a shift in popular genres as opposed to a failure of the game itself.

The fact of the matter is that many players and viewers are moving from FPS, RTS, and fighters to MOBA titles, as there is much more money to be made. Without a doubt there will always be those dedicated players who continue to play their favorite competitive title to the end, but the real money is to be found in MOBAs.

This shift in viewership and player base hasn't gone unnoticed by Starcraft II's creators either. While Blizzard could have simply made another RTS or a simple FPS game, their latest creation blended together FPS and MOBA elements to bring in a larger crowd. The resulting game, Overwatch, has since seen massive amounts of praise for its originality and fun gameplay. 

Overwatch has since gone on to have its own eSports scene as well. Many famous teams such as Team Liquid who used to be well known for their Starcraft II team has now started signing players for competitive Overwatch tournaments. Meanwhile, the number of teams worldwide playing RTS titles has visibly diminished over time.

What does this mean for the future of Starcraft II?

Just like the video game industry itself, eSports will likely go through phases. From arcades, to fighting games, then to RTS and MOBAs, it's clear that eSports has shown anything but a sense of stagnation. While Blizzard doesn't tend to shy away from pushing the competitive scene for its newer titles, the pattern tends to show that players themselves are responsible for the success or death of a game's competitive scene. After all, what's an eSport without dedicated fans of the game itself?

Right now, MOBAs have been hogging the spotlight for eSports for a while. Meanwhile, the video game industry has started churning out Multiplayer Online Arena Shooters for the past few months following Overwatch's success. As such, chances are that we're on the verge of seeing MOAS titles take the spotlight. From there, who knows what the next big eSport will be? Maybe Monday Night Combat will rise from the grave!

Yes, Starcraft II is no longer the go-to eSport out there, but all it means is that we're moving on to new horizons. Whatever the result is, the fans for eSports will be there so long as there are games to play. That much is for certain.