The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

PC Gamer

Every Friday we gaze into the PC Gamer palantír and seek out the key moments of the past week, both good and bad. These are those…

THE HIGHS

Cory: We're doomed, again

id Software finally—finally!—showed off the new version of Doom Thursday night at QuakeCon 2014 (running on a PC, natch), and it sounds exactly like what I want from the franchise. Ian's eyes-on report described some vicious, frantic combat with lots of demons. Massive weapons will return, and there are even some welcome changes, like more verticality. Double-jumps and jetpacks? Hell yes. Doom's new engine, id Tech 6, looked fantastic as well, according to Ian. Here's hoping it feels smoother than id Tech 5 does in Wolfenstein: The New Order. I'm ready for more Doom—it was my first love on the PC, and it's a franchise I'm dying to see return to glory.

Ben Griffin: Through the 4K looking glass

My eyes are stinging as I write this because I've been up all night trying to make Braid work at 4K. Any irreversible vision damage will be totally worth it, though, because with tears currently rolling down my cheeks I'm happy to confirm we have resolution lift off . I tend to spend more time taking pictures of games than playing them these days, and that's because I've found SRWE . Better known to its friends as simple runtime window editor, it essentially lets me run any game at any resolution. I simply boot up my chosen game in window mode, enter my desired width and height in the programme, and like a particularly nerdy magic trick, it becomes that size in realtime. From there it's a matter of pressing print screen, copying the file into paint, and saving it as a mahoosive 4K png.

Whereas before my options were limited to blockbusters with built-in 4K support—games like Elite: Dangerous and Project CARS—now I snap anything, from Fez to Phantasmagoria. Want to see Clive Barker's Jericho in 3840x2160p? Give me an evening and some eye drops. Thanks, wizards of the Internet.

Evan Lahti: Counter-Strike should GO for it as an e-sport

I passed the 500-hour mark in CS:GO this week, and I couldn't be more excited about the possibility of a massive, International-style tournament for the game, as one Valve employee hinted at the possibility of . One of the reasons it's been tough, historically, for FPS games to gain traction as e-sports is that the perspective they're played from, unlike lane-pushers such as Dota 2, doesn't provide an omniscient spectating experience. If any game in recent history has a real shot at it, though, it's GO. The current tournament CS:GO scene isn't bad, but it'd obviously benefit from Valve's direct involvement and investment. Oceanic Qualifiers leading up to the ESL Championship in Cologne start tomorrow.

Tyler Wilde: Dota 2 on ESPN 3

The International is being shown on ESPN 3 . I've never done more than timidly dip my toes into Dota 2 (we leave the deep end to Chris Thursten, who explained everything we need to know about the tournament), but I love this news. OK, sure, ESPN 3 is the sports network's online streaming service, not a cable television channel, but Valve cozying up to a global sports network is a big deal. I want to be clear about why, though. It's not about elevating e-sports or being legitimized by outsiders—we don't need to see ourselves as underdogs trying to gain exposure among 'mainstream' sports. It's a big deal because it might expose more eyeballs to something really cool, and I hope it makes them curious. And maybe soon I'll be ragging on ESPN's Counter-Strike commentators while gesturing at the TV with a pint of beer, and not just all their baseball commentators.

Andy Kelly: Minecraft x DayZ = Indie breakout

This week a survival game called Unturned became the fourth most-played game on Steam, toppling giants like Skyrim and Football Manager—and it was developed by a teenager. It's a remarkable story, and the kind you only find in PC gaming. The game isn't particularly imaginative or inspiring—a DayZ clone with Minecraft visuals—but I love that developer Nelson Sexton was able to make a game in his spare time in Unity and become one of Steam's big hitters. A large community is growing around the game, with Twitch streams attracting thousands of viewers, and I expect its popularity to grow rapidly over the coming months. It helps, of course, that the game is free, with the option to spend $5 on a 'gold' upgrade. I'm no fan of the free-to-play model, but if Sexton is making a tidy profit from it, more power to him. There's no shortage of inspiring indie success stories, but this is one of the best. You can read my Early Access review of Unturned here .

Wes Fenlon: Different ways to skin an FPS

Nothing I've seen from Battlefield Hardline has interested me so far. I gave Battlefield 3 a shot and had some fun squadding up with friends, but I spent far too much time trudging across oversized maps or being sniped from someone perched on a rock half a mile away. Hardline was an opportunity to do something really creative and asymmetrical with cops and robbers, but it just looks like a skinned BF4. I'm pleasantly surprised, then, that Visceral seems to be taking some of the community's criticism to heart. The devs are toning down explosions, adding more interactive elements to environments, and even tweaking the HUD to distinguish it from BF4 . Hardline may well be a reskinned Battlefield, but at least it's going to be thoroughly reskinned.

THE LOWS

Evan: Yog's game goes down the tubes

The failure of any crowdfunded project—high-profile or not—is depressing because it erodes the trust for Kickstarter and similar platforms in general. It makes it more difficult, even for a time, for legitimate projects to get the support they deserve. Yogventures , the collaboration between Winterkewl Games and YouTube group Yogscast, was officially cancelled this week after two years of meager updates and a beta period that the game never fully escaped from.

With hindsight, we can see that the original KS pitch made lofty, sweeping promises about the scope of the game: “You'll have control over everything from buildings and dungeons to the NPCs and mobs. Yogventures will be the ultimate modder's game where even the rules of winning and losing can be tweaked. Think adventure maps in Minecraft, only now you aren't limited to just blocks!” The 2012 pitch didn't, of course, mention that this would be Winterkewl's first game, instead describing the studio as “a team of talented indie developers based in and around Hollywood, California. Their artists and programmers are long-time veterans of film and game companies - working at the highest levels of production.”

Backers threw $567,665 at Yogventures, and now they're getting TUG as an apology. What's maybe most upsetting, though, is the lack of responsibility taken by Yogscast. "As you may have heard, Winterkewl Games have stopped work on Yogventures—but this is actually a good thing,” Yogscast co-founder said in an email to the game's backers. “Although we're under no obligation to do anything, instead we're going to do our best to make this right, and make you really glad you backed the project!" Except it may not be quite so clear cut judging from Gamasutra's interesting investigation into who's legally culpable for the Kickstarter's failure.

Tyler Wilde: Where's the rest of the cult?

Cult of the Wind was rushed through the Steam Greenlight process by eager voters who, like me, loved the idea of “human dogfights.” It launched in Early Access not long after it was greenlit, then left Early Access for full release a few weeks ago because the developer wanted to shake off the Early Access “stigma.” Regardless of how it came about, it's released, and on sale, and I thought I'd find out if it's as fun as it looked back on Greenlight. It might be! I wouldn't know: I spent an hour yesterday sitting in the only official server, alone. There's no one playing Cult of the Wind , or if they are, it must be organized—anyone who buys the game now and jumps in expecting to find a full server will be disappointed. I followed up with the creator, and today he shared a few thoughts on the Greenlight and Early Access process.

Cory Banks: Scammers force Riot to react

One of the coolest parts of League of Legends—especially for a guy like me who rushes towers way too early—is the huge assortment of skins available. There have always been a lot of codes floating around for these new looks, especially as promos for fan conventions and whatnot. But scammers tend to gobble these up, charging jacked up prices for codes they may not even deliver on. In response, Riot has deactivated all skin codes , effectively killing the secondary market. That in itself isn't bad—it's Riot's right, after all—but it sucks to see code scalpers ruining a good thing. I've watched crowds of young kids swarm at PAX East for a hot new skin, and it's a cool thing for Riot to give away. If that's going away because a few people thought they could make a quick buck, it's a shame.

Andy Kelly: Survey scepticism

I love Mass Effect, and I'm worried BioWare will screw it up. There, I said it. They probably won't, but that's the kind of paranoia that comes with loving a series. This week the studio ran a survey asking fans what they want from the next game, and this concerns me. One of the biggest mistakes BioWare ever made was pandering to the mob and 'fixing' the ending of Mass Effect 3. That showed a disappointing lack of faith in their own writers, and they should have had the conviction to say no, this is the ending, and you can like it or sod off. I don't want BioWare to ask people what Mass Effect 4 should be: I want them to decide what it should be. I want them to have a clear vision and realise it. The worst-case scenario is that the new game will be an endless parade of wink-at-the-screen callbacks and have no personality of its own. Don't ruin Mass Effect, BioWare.

Wes Fenlon: Gaiman's game proves too wayward

When I heard that Neil Gaiman wrote Wayward Manor, I didn't have high hopes—a great game written by one of my favorite authors sounded too good to be true. Chris Livingston's review confirms that the game is, sadly, not much good, but the real bummer is that Wayward Manor was developed by the team behind The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom. I adored Winterbottom—it was endlessly clever and funny and had a lyrical quality to its writing that felt very Gaiman. Winterbottom was such a fantastic puzzle game. What went wrong?

Ben Griffin: Conventional balls up

The week's various cooked-up controversies did their darndest to make my already tired eyes twitch, but when I read about the Dashcon , the now legendarily panhandled fan-directed Tumblr convention that Silly Walked into Illinois on July 11, my overriding emotion was empathy. The organisers were clearly in over their heads. They probably went to a few cons in the past and thought, ''Hey, this looks pretty easy. Let's rent out a 500-room hotel. What could possibly go wrong?" Everything, as it turns out.

Don't get me wrong, I feel for the special guests who weren't paid their fees. I feel for the hundreds of attendees pressured into donating on day one in order to keep the show running, and who were offered a paltry hour in a ball pit as compensation. (At least give them two you monsters!) But at least they had a go, and I hope they learned something from the episode. Try again next year, guys, but do it in a basement.

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