simulation

Vlambeer's Luftrausers turns a profit in three days, after almost three years in development

Patrick Carlson at

Post-launch comments from indie game designers often get right to the heart of what's at stake for them during the development process. After the March 18 release of Vlambeer's aerial shooter Luftrausers, the devs took to Twitter two days later and put the game's apparently successful release in perspective.


Cart Life exits Steam, goes open source

Omri Petitte at

Want to play a game about the tumultuous life of a street shop vendor? Well, you can't right now, as the website hosting it is currently drowning under heavy bandwidth load. But when it returns, you'll find Cart Life, the indie small business simulation from Richard Hofmeier, available free of charge and completely open source for tinkerers to slot in custom characters and stall types.


Citybound, an offline and moddable city-building sim announced

Patrick Carlson at

With Citybound, designer Anselm Eickhoff has a simple goal—"to do something crazy." A 21-year-old computer science student in Munich, Germany, he originally set out to make an alternative to SimCity, according to a story at Gamasutra. Citybound will be browser-based and run offline, with moddability as "a priority, not an afterthought," according to Eickhoff's dev blog.


Next Car Game blows past crowdfunding goal, 50,000 demo downloads reported

Patrick Carlson at

The holidays were good to Next Car Game and its particular vision of motorized mayhem. After Bugbear Entertainment's Kickstarter to fund its latest racing game fell short of its goal in November, the developer asked for support through the project's website. Backers there have contributed more than $490,000, well clear of its original crowdfunding goal.


Train Simulator review

Tim Stone at

Robert Stephenson and the Reverend W Awdry are rotating in their resting places. The latest edition of ‘the world’s favourite train simulator’ contains no steam locos whatsoever. Significant new features are pretty thin on the ground too.

Buy TS2014 and essentially you’re buying TS2013 with a different mix of routes and rolling stock. The handful of minor engine changes feel like the contents of a free patch (which they are if you already own TS2013). Greater draw distances, a new zoom function, a clumsy consist builder for assembling your own trains for Quick Drive sessions... the lack of ambition is palpable.


World of Warplanes review

PC Gamer at

A dogfighting multiplayer game focused on the aircraft of World War 2 and Korea never seemed like a natural fit for mouse and keyboard. World of Warplanes faced an almost insurmountable dilemma: if it was easy to control, it wouldn't feel like actual flying and dogfighting, and if it did feel authentic, then it would probably exclude most of its intended audience.


Maia lands its colonies on Steam Early Access

Patrick Carlson at

By billing itself as a hard sci-fi experience, indie space-colony sim Maia has posed a fascinating set of questions for itself. Available since Tuesday through Steam's Early Access alpha testing program, the strategy game's reference to a classic sci-fi genre points toward the gritty, dangerous, and sometimes darkly-futile nature of exploration.


The 12 best Kerbal Space Program mods

Phil Savage at

Spend some time around the Kerbal Space Program community and you'll see a lot of parallels to Minecraft's early days. Here players are building spaceships and launching them into the universe rather than building home out of blocks, but both are great sandboxes full of creative potential for building, exploring and picking apart each new update. Just like Notch's blocky playground, when people encounter something missing - whether its a feature, a ship part, or an aesthetic preference - they turn to mods to set things right.

There are hundreds of tweaks and additions on Kerbal SpacePort (KSP's mod repository), ranging from specific parts to wide-ranging overhauls. The good news is that they're easy to install. Just extract the mod's main folder into the GameData folder of KSP's directory. As for what to install, here are twelve of the best mods available today.


Football Manager 2014 review

Graham Smith at

Football Manager makes sense to me again. The series had slowly driven me away as it crammed more detail into its already stat-heavy simulation of football. I never seemed to be able to tell what information mattered, and which decisions were the cause of my various triumphs and failures.

Classic Mode changed that. Introduced last year, it strips back the game to something that, on the surface, resembles Championship Manager from ten years ago, but is underpinned by the same rich simulation that drives the main game. The mode returns in Football Manager 2014, and it’s still my favourite way to play the game. This release doesn’t have any equivalent flagship feature, but the hundreds of changes it does make are important. Most notable for fans of modern football is the inclusion of expanded player roles, and a tactics system that replaces sliders with the language of real football tacticians. That means being able to deploy players in the midfield as a trequartista, a false nine or an enganche.


Euro Truck Simulator 2 to get new audio, revels in wanton destruction

PC Gamer at

For a cathartic two minutes’ of destruction, SCS Software, developers of Euro Truck Simulator 2, have released a video of cars being dropped from great big cranes. The profits from the Halloween Paint Job Pack have been reinvested, allowing the team to spend a day crashing, smashing and otherwise invalidating their insurance to capture new audio for ETS2. A likely story.


Democracy 3 review

Tim Stone at

My ministers are looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. The country is an economic basket case, we’re trailing in the polls, and my next policy decision is... tougher abortion laws. I pause for the gasps to subside, then, like a political Poirot, explain.

Restricting abortions will mollify the religious component of the party membership in preparation for next turn’s ban on teaching creationism. Returning Darwinism to its rightful place in the curriculum, together with a boost to science funding, will help address the ‘technology backwater’ situation that is doing so much damage to GDP. A healthy GDP together with some canny VAT and corporation tax changes, should, in the long run, equal prosperity and – pause to sip water and anticipate imminent applause – the voter support necessary for victory in the next election.


Rise of Venice review

PC Gamer at

This review was written by Jon Morcom.

Venice, 1455. The Renaissance is stimulating dizzying levels of creativity and La Serenissima is acknowledged as if not the crossroads, then at least the Spaghetti Junction of all trade in the Occident. Born into a city rife with political manoeuvring, family feuds and rising damp, you are Giacomo da Narni, continuing your family’s proud mercantile tradition and advancing yourself socially until you reach the exalted title of Doge.

Now playing: abolishing crime and banning booze in Democracy 3

Tom Senior at

The interface for a sim that lets you run a country is always going to be daunting, but Democracy 3's fearsome array of orbs made me want to ALT-F4 and hurry to the kettle for a calming cup of something hot. That feeling lasted only minutes. After the briefest investigation, the quality of Democracy's interface becomes clear. It's a fine example of how thoughtful design can present complex data simply and allow complex strategies to be enacted with simple interactions, like the tug of a slider or the tick of a checkbox.

It closely resembles Democracy 2's layout. Each blob represents a social issue. Hover your mouse over one and green and red spokes appear indicating all of the issues that positively or negatively affect your chosen subject. It takes two seconds to discover that the racial tension, alcohol and organised crime are fuelling violent crime, and that those are being countered by a combination of CCTV surveillance, a well funded police force, education and strict handgun laws. I can click on any of those contributing factors to access sliders that'll let me adjust taxation and alter the legislative strictness around problematic comsumables like booze. Tackling my nation's drinking habit would turn out to be the start of a long slippery slope.


Space Engineers now available via Steam early access

Tom Senior at

I'm hoping that Space Engineers can overhaul the reputation of the humble space engineer from psychotic limb-chopper Isaac Clarke of Dead Space to something more placid and workmanlike. Space Engineers lets you drift around in a spacesuit, building scaffholding and welding plates together to build spaceships that you can crash into other space ships. Not that serene, then, but it's interesting enough to be one of the 14 space games we're excited about right now. That doesn't necessarily mean you should go out and pay £12 / $15 for the early build that's just arrived on Steam, of course, but if you're convinced you'll enjoy the ship-building, ship-crashing sim, then here it is.


SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow trailer shows new megatowers

Tom Sykes at

"Welcome...to the world of tomorrow!" is not how SimCity lead designer Stone Librande begins this narrated look at the game's sci-fi expansion Cities of Tomorrow, and I think we can all agree that's a bit of a shame. At least the new content itself looks pretty damned nifty, evoking the shiny utopias of Minority Report or Mirror's Edge, which are both lovely places if you stick your fingers in your ears and obey the rules. The video also shows off a neon-tinged industrial city, surrogate-like drones and much more.


Spacebase DF-9 alpha released by Double Fine to Steam Early Access

Evan Lahti at

During E3 we learned that Double Fine was putting two unnamed games into production with help from its rich uncle, Indie Fund. Today Double Fine is releasing an early version one of those games: Spacebase DF-9.


Farming Simulator 2013: Titanium trailer has a brand new combine harvester (in America)

Phil Savage at

I've cultivated a genuine love of Euro Truck Simulator 2, so while I've yet to get on board with Farming Simulator 2013, I understand why people enjoy pretending to do a job they don't do. With Farming Simulator 2013: Titanium, you can now pretend to do that job on a different continent. The American expansion brings new crops, new vehicles, and new dungarees. Note: game might not contain dungarees.


Train Simulator 2014 hands-on: all aboard the series' new vehicles and routes

Christopher Livingston at

It’s typically said of horror games that you should play them with headphones on and the lights turned off. I think the same should be said of train simulators, because driving a diesel train down the side of a mountain while pulling so many cars you can’t see the end of them can be just as intense and heart-pounding as any haunted house.


Prison Architect: how Introversion avoided jail by embracing their hardest project yet

Graham Smith at

Prison Architect has sold 124,691 copies and made a gross revenue of £2,679,730 ($4,031,925). If you’re one of the remaining major videogame publishers, that’s pocket change, but if you’re Introversion it’s more money in ten months of alpha sales than your previous four games made in over 12 years. If you’re Chris Delay, the game’s lead designer and programmer, it’s the opportunity to start a family. And if you’re the three founders - Chris, plus college friends Mark Morris and Tom Arundel - it’s the difference between being comfortably wealthy and living in fear of spending time in a real prison.

“Tom was convinced that we were going to go to jail,” says Chris. “He was convinced that we were going to go to jail because he thought that for most of 2010 we’d been trading insolvently, which means trading knowing that there’s no chance you’re going to survive.”

Prison Architect is the game that saved Introversion, one of gaming’s most interesting and longest-serving indie developers, but if you’re a gamer then it also represents a bunch of other, similarly excellent things.

SimCity expands its borders to Cities of Tomorrow in November

Patrick Carlson at

SimCity's upcoming expansion should give you the chance to create a utopian paradise, or maybe a dystopian nightmare, if that's more in line with how you see the world. Cities of Tomorrow launches November 12, according to a new blog post by developer Maxis.