End of days: GameSpy's forgotten games and the gamers keeping them alive

Ian Birnbaum at

GameSpy began in 1996 as a fan-hosted server for the original Quake. By the early 2000s, Gamespy was the online multiplayer platform, adding dozens of games every year. More than 800 games have used GameSpy to connect players and manage servers. Gamespy's ubiquity spawned dozens of offshoots like Planet Half-Life and FilePlanet. Even in the age of Steam, the GameSpy catalog remains an extensive library of the great multiplayer games of the past 15 years. That all ends tomorrow when GameSpy shuts down.

More recent games, much-loved favorites, and games with even a modicum of popularity are being ported over to Steam-based servers to continue their lives. This is not a story about those kinds of games. This story is about the games that have become living museums to the Way Gaming Was—from before Call of Duty became an annual franchise, before the rise and fall of Rock Band, and before anyone paid a single microtransaction for horse armor. Games from this era relied on GameSpy for their multiplayer servers, and many of them will die when those servers go offline on May 31.

Rust diary, part 3: "What happened was: I killed you"

Christopher Livingston at

Here's a tip: don't run around at night with a lit torch or you'll get shot. I know this because I once ran around at night with a lit torch and got shot. That's why, more recently, when I was alone and lost in the middle of the night, I only lit my torch for a second to take a quick look. Here's another tip: don't light your torch even for a second to take look around or you'll get shot. I did. For a second. And I got shot.

Why mechs are the most fun thing to shoot in a video game

Evan Lahti at

Not zombies. Not terrorists. Not bandits, pirates, helicopters, or mutant helicopters. After dedicating my life to research, I’ve determined that mechs are the most fun thing to shoot in a video game. MechWarrior’s mechs, specifically.

What makes mechs special? They’re voodoo dolls. And piñatas.

Sim-plicity: I am a spearfisherwoman

Christopher Livingston at

Having retired from world-saving heroics, Christopher Livingston is living the simple life in video games by playing a series of down-to-earth simulations. This week he's on vacation-- simulated vacation, of course-- spearfishing, diving for treasure, taking pictures, and occasionally freaking out about ghost pirates and aquatic bats.

Over the past couple months, I've had a number of jobs in these Sim-plicity columns: a rotten tow truck driver, an ineffective police chief, an inept bridge-builder, a confused bus driver, a frustrated lumber-cutter, and an airport firefighter so bad at fighting fires his airport was shut down. There's really only one conclusion to draw from this pattern of failure and incompetence: I deserve a vacation.

I'm taking my break with Depth Hunter: The Spearfishing Simulator, which plunks me into the ocean as a spearfisherwoman. At least I think I'm a woman. It's a first-person simulator, so I can't see myself, but the promotional art for the game shows a woman with purple hair wearing a bikini top. The simulation promises I will "face the difficulties of breath-holding spearfishing, an ancient fishing method", though I don't think the ancient purple-haired bikini-wearing spearfisherwomen had spring-loaded mechanical harpoons.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 makes bajillions

Tom Senior at

It's inevitable, I know. Do bears tango in the woods? Is there a party like an S-Club party? Will Call of Duty make money this year? Yes, to all these things. A thousand times YES. $500 million is the day one worldwide sales figure Activision are bandying around today for Black Ops 2.

IO: Hitman as coldly professional or casually violent as you want him to be

Rob Zacny at

Hitman: Absolution lead producer, Hakan Abrak promises that there will be a hardcore difficulty level in Absolution and that playing non-violently (except for, you know, the actual targeted murders) is still a viable option. He also hinted at a mysterious multiplayer mode.

Trying to allay hardcore fans' fears in a conversation with Eurogamer, Abrak said, "We appreciate our fans and we know way back from Blood Money, there are YouTube videos of different ways of solving a hit, coming up with very smart ways of doing it the developers probably think of, even. That freedom we really want to have in Absolution as well. "

MechWarrior news coming soon?

Rob Zacny at

That trailer for a new MechWarrior game caused a stir among BattleTech fans when it came out, but since then there has been precious little news about the project. Now Blue's News (hat tip: Rock, Paper, Shotgun) has seen some signs of BattleMech-related activity from Piranha Games' Russ Bullock.

23 minutes of 64-player Battlefield 3 footage

Rob Zacny at

In case you haven't gotten your fill of Battlefield 3 beta impressions, VG247 noticed this video from the a user who participated in a match on the 64-player Caspian Border map.

It's very pretty, and I enjoyed how even the player seemed overcome by some of the things he was watching. This is war tourism at its finest: stopping to watch infantry charging down a hill, staring agog at an aerial battle unfolding overhead. Enjoy it while you can. Once the game is released, we won't have time to really stop and smell the cordite.

The PC, a place where games never age

Robert Hathorne at

On last week's podcast master producer, Andy Bauman, asked if I thought StarCraft II was going to feel a bit antiquated after all these years. No way, if anything, the PC is the last bastion for oddballs and old school designs to not only exist, but thrive.