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Jack Gardner
People may have had their doubts about the Steam controller after its announcement, but Valve thinks it can change those attitudes and has released a video of the controller in action.
 
The demonstration shows off the capabilities of the controller in traditionally gamepad inaccessible titles like Civilization V and Papers, Please, as well as more conventional titles like Portal 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
 
 
The results are actually pretty impressive and have us itching to spend some quality time with the device as well as SteamOS and one of those mysterious Steam boxes. This is a pretty big gamble for Valve and it will be interesting to see how this plays out for the company. Let's just hope that they get around to making Half-Life 3 sometime soon.

Jack Gardner
Between a successful book series and two popular video game adaptations, Geralt of Rivera, aka The Witcher, has made quite a name for himself in the United States. Dark Horse Comics has decided to give Geralt the graphic treatment.
 
The comic book series will be drafted by Bandette writer Paul Tobin with covers by 100 Bullets cover artist Dave "The Reverend" Johnson and artwork Joe Querio. The story will center on Geralt as he wanders through an area near the Black Forest in the land of Angren. While there, he encounters a widowed man, whose late wife is in quite a murderous mood and has taken over the mansion known as the House of Glass. Of course, this leads to Geralt travelling to the manor to expel the undead creature and safeguard the land.
 
The first issue will be available on March 19, 2014.
 


 
If you want some more insight into the upcoming Witcher 3, check out our E3 coverage.

Jack Gardner
With Halloween right around the corner and fright-filled games like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Outlast lurking on store shelves, we here at Extra Life thought it would be a great opportunity to delve into the origins of video game horror and get some insight into how the genre has evolved.
 
Though people debate over what exactly constitutes the very first horror game, the earliest one argued for is Mystery House, an Apple II adventure game from 1980. The title was one of the first adventure games to feature graphics and was the first game created by Roberta Williams, who later went on to make the long-running King’s Quest series. Mystery House locked players in an old, Victorian mansion with several other people and a murderer on the loose. The player must figure out the identity of the psychopath before he or she is the last victim. In what became a trend for following games attempting creepy atmosphere and visuals, the story was based on a pre-existing property, in this case Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
 

 
The other game most often credited as one of the first games designed to scare players was Haunted House (where are people finding all of these scary houses?) released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. Due to the limitations of the system, the game didn’t look like much with pixels roughly the size of fists. The player, represented by a pair of eyeballs, has entered a haunted house to retrieve pieces of an urn that belonged to the late Zachary Graves. Spooky things like spiders, bats, and ghosts hid around the house and had to be avoided at all costs. The unnerving mechanic which separated this title from others of the time consisted of the character’s use of matches as a light source. The matches gave vision for a few seconds before they would go out or whenever an enemy entered the same screen as the player. This gave Haunted House a feeling of tension and suspense as you never knew when you might be in danger.
 
Over the following years, there was a period of games which, though they drew heavily on horror imagery, weren’t necessarily horror games in the true sense. Many of them were simply cash-ins on famous movies, going for shock value with depictions of violence that hadn’t been seen in video games at that point (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Evil Dead). Other attempts at horror games during this time were adventure games attempting to capitalize on famous horror properties like Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, and Wolfman. One of the few original games to attempt horror between 1982 and 1989 was the 1986 arcade light-gun shooter called Chiller which places players in the role of a torturer with the goal of torturing people in the most efficient and gruesome manner possible. The game ended up being less horror and more horrible, falling into the same camp as the movie cash-ins going for shock rather than substantial scares. The game wasn’t widely known due to how few arcades were willing to host the cabinets on their premises due to its distasteful content. People can debate the first “real” horror game prior to 1989, but that year the genre undeniably solidified around two video games: Project Firestart in the West and Sweet Home in Japan.
 


Project Firestart hit the Commodore 64 toward the end of the console’s lifespan after a long and troubled development process in the hands of Dynamix. In an effort to create durable laborers to work in space mines, the nations of Earth began dabbling with genetic engineering. What could possibly go wrong? When the research space station in charge of safely producing space mining monsters stops responding, it becomes the player’s job to find out why. Upon reaching the station, it basically becomes a side-scrolling Dead Space, almost 20 years before Dead Space was a twinkle in the eyes of its development team. The player is tasked with figuring out what went wrong on the station and search for survivors. Firestart introduced numerous concepts such as limited ammo, terrifyingly strong enemies, and journal entries that fleshed out the events and world; ideas still present in many games of the horror genre today.
 
The Japan-only Sweet Home released in late 1989 for the Famicom as a spin-off of a movie of the same name. Rather than being an attempt to milk money out of the relative success of the film, the game attempted to be a genuinely unnerving game. Following the plot of the film, Sweet Home begins with five people arriving at the Mamiya mansion to recover valuable paintings that had been left there by its previous owners. Upon entering, they become trapped by a malevolent spirit and must battle their way through ghosts and monsters to find an exit without being crushed by the crumbling building. Each character has a special ability or item that helps traverse the environment or aids in the random battles. Each character also could be permanently killed and there were five different endings depending on how many people survived their ordeal in the mansion. Additionally, each character had a very limited inventory to carry items for combat or puzzle solving, creepy journal entries were scattered around to flesh out the story of mansion, and the narrative was certainly creepy and unexpectedly dark for a game at that time. For the next few years the genre wouldn’t see any development outside of more video game adaptations of horror films like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, in 1992 Alone in The Dark became the first widely successful horror game, exploding the genre out of its niche.
 


Developed by Infogrames (that isn’t a typo) and released on PC, Alone in The Dark was the first 3D horror game. It added its own innovations to the horror formula through the addition of “tank controls,” false audio cues to alert players to non-existent danger, and dramatic fixed camera angles. Infogrames understood that having elements of unpredictability could toy with players’ expectations to effectively deliver scares. The story, from either the perspective of a private investigator or an inquisitive niece, was also fittingly dark dealing with death, hangings, and other gruesome monsters. After entering the old Derceto Mansion to investigate a recent suicide, the player becomes trapped and evil begins to manifest throughout the mansion. Gameplay focused on solving puzzles and managing limited inventory space, as well as some light combat elements. After clearing a portion of the mansion, the entire mansion became open for exploration leading to an unnerving sense of freedom as enemies stalked the building.
 
After the success of Alone in The Dark, the video game industry began to realize that some players actually wanted to be scared by their games. What followed could be seen as the blossoming of the horror genre, a growth that included memorable successes, forgotten gems, and many hilarious failures.

Jack Gardner
If you are a fan of independent games, last weekend's IndieCade Festival was the event for you.
 
Billing itself as the International Festival of Independent Games, the 2013 IndieCade Festival was held from Saturday, October 5 to Sunday, October 6 in Culver City, California. Every year the festival acknowledges the achievements of independent developers and serves as a gathering of independent talent for discussions of interests to indies. This year, in addition to the 36 games that have made it into the final rounds of judging, IndieCade selected 77 other titles to showcase at their event. Those selected include eight PlayStation 4 titles, a number of VR projects on the Oculus Rift, a handful of Ouya games, and a showing from Nintendo. All titles at the event should be playable.
 
In addition to the games, a few notable events will be occurring throughout the weekend. There will be a small eSports tournament/exhibition of a variety of titles such as the minimalist DiveKick and Pulse of the Samurai. Speeches will be given from respected indie developers like Jenova Chen, creator of Journey. Finally, public discussions will be held between developers and industry honchos regarding the games on display and past games those involved have helped create.
 
Did you make it to IndieCade? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments.

Jack Gardner
Bungie's next project doesn't come out until early 2014, but fans can get early access to the beta by pre-ordering the title from participating retailers.
 
To check which sellers are participating in the per-order beta giveaways, check www.destinythegame.com/wheretobuy. Entry codes will be printed on receipts, flyers distributed at the time of purchase, or sent via email through a retail rewards program. Fans that pre-ordered before October 1 and qualify for this offer are automatically entered into the beta and will receive their entry code from their retailer via email. Use the code on bungie.net/beta and follow the instructions to access the first glimpse of Destiny. The beta will begin next year on all systems that Destiny will release on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
 
 
Additionally, Bungie released a new gameplay trailer called "The Moon" which highlights the enemy race known as the Hive.

Jack Gardner
To kick off the launch of Skylanders Swap Force on October 13, Activision Blizzard is turning the month of October into a celebration of the popular figurine/video game franchise.
 
Beginning October 1 and continuing through the 31, Activision will be giving away a Starter Pack of collectible toys each day through the Skylanders twitter channel (@SkylandersGames). To be eligible for those giveaways, hop over to Skylanders.com, experiment with your favorite combinations of characters, and then tweet your preferred arrangement with a catchphrase and the hashtags #SWAPtober and #Skylanders.
 
October 10 kicks off the official SWAPtoberfest in New York City's Times Square. In addition to giving gamers a chance to play the game earlier than just about everyone else, the event will feature photo opportunities with characters from the game and opportunities to get swag ranging from Starter Packs to Skylanders-themed merchandise from MEGA Brands, Rubie's Costume Company, Hybrid Apparel and Power A.
 
Skylanders SWAP Force will release October 13 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS on October 13. It also will be available day-and-date with the launch of PlayStation 4 on November 15 and Xbox One on November 22.

Jack Gardner
The third and final announcement from Valve this week revealed a controller to go along with their Steam Machines and SteamOS reveals.
 
The Steam controller works with two trackpads on the left and right sides, as well as sixteen buttons Valve has designed (for the most part) to be used without lifting thumbs off the trackpads (which can both also be pressed as buttons). The backside of the controller has two long buttons that can be mapped to additional actions. The midsection of the controller is populated with four buttons and a touchscreen interface that can be customized depending on the game being played. Valve's touchscreen has a few special features unique to itself. The screen itself is a button, which allows users to swipe through numerous options before committing to any single one. This means that there can be a huge variety in the number of functions the touchscreen can provide, in addition to the other physical buttons on the controller.
 


Due to the high degree of accuracy traditional PC games require, the controller does not feature conventional rumble technology. Instead it uses "a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators." This means the controller can provide very precise rumble feedback without interfering with gameplay. The announcement also mentioned briefly that "as a parlour trick" the haptic rumble can ever convert the trackpads into speakers. 
 
Every button of this new gamepad can be remapped depending on the game users are interested in playing. Players will be able to share their favorite configurations with their friends and community. Eventually, the most popular controller layouts will be made into lists for other players to easily access.
 
Finally, the controller, much like many of Valve's products, was designed to be taken apart and tinkered with by enterprising gamers:
That wraps up this week of Valve bombshells. SteamOS, Steam Boxes, and now a strange, new controller, together they have the potential to cause a number of huge waves in the industry and maybe even shift the policies of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. 
 
What do you all think of these announcements? Good? Bad? Underwhelming? Exciting? Let us know in the comments!

Jack Gardner
Earlier this week, Valve dropped a knowledge bomb by unveiling SteamOS. Today they revealed that what was rumored to be a Steam Box will actually be multiple boxes from multiple manufacturers coming in 2014.
 
While Valve hasn't said what companies will be creating the hardware, they have said that they will be coming next year and all will come running SteamOS. As a means of testing their own box, Valve will be giving away 300 beta machines to Steam users free of charge. "We have designed a high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam. Of course, it’s also completely upgradable and open," read the announcement.
 
Want to be eligible to be chosen for the beta? Just follow these simple steps:
  Before October 25, log in to Steam and then visit your quest page to track your current status towards beta test eligibility Join the Steam Universe community group Agree to the Steam Hardware Beta Terms and Conditions Make 10 Steam friends (if you haven't already) Create a public Steam Community profile (if you haven't already) Play a game using a gamepad in Big Picture mode
  If you have more questions regarding the box, there is a handy FAQ included in the Steam Machines announcement. There are still many unanswered questions related to the specs of Valve's beta box, who will be making the other boxes, etc. However, Valve is making it clear that these boxes will be highly modifiable.   There is a third and final countdown for Friday and the last words of the Steam Machines announcement read: "Am I going to be using a mouse and a keyboard in the living-room? If you want. But Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though - we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input." Does this mean we will be seeing a Valve controller reveal? Stay tuned and we'll keep you up to date.   What do you guys think of this turn of events? What do you make of Valve's plunge into hardware and operating systems?

Jack Gardner
Valve's countdown has reached its conclusion and their announcement is *drumroll* a new, free operating system tailored for living room machines.
 
 
SteamOS combines Linux and Steam into one super OS that exists in your living room. The basic concept of the operating system seems to be that it can operate on "any living room machine" and works to stream games, movies, television, music, etc. from your current Steam library to your television. This means that Valve will soon be adding the ability to purchase music, movies, and television shows to the Steam marketplace in addition to video games. The entire Steam library will be compatible with SteamOS, including all user-created content. Even user's friends lists will make the jump to the new operating system.
 
As a result of a dedicated OS, Valve reports that they have, "achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level." This seems to imply that less powerful devices could run more powerful games while running SteamOS.
 
Besides allowing users to stream their entertainment library to their television, the new OS will allow users to create family accounts for their Steam. On paper, this will allow families to easily share their games among their household with separate achievement tracking and permissions for each family member. Don't want little Timmy to be playing Metro: Last Light? BOOM, that content is restricted from his family account. Tired of your significant other nabbing those achievements before you do? BAM, you both have separate accounts for the same library.
 
The Steam Cloud allows for users to carry over their saved progress from their main machine to their living room, provides storage, and automatic updates on everything.
 
According to Valve, the operating system will be free forever and will be available, licensing free, to hardware manufacturers. 
 
There are still many unanswered questions regarding SteamOS. Just what Valve means by "any living room machine" isn't clear quite yet. Does that mean I can download SteamOS onto a PS4 or Xbox One? Or will it require a dedicated living room PC? How much storage does the Steam Cloud provide? Exactly when will the SteamOS launch? When will Steam be opening their market for movies and music?
 
Also, what is with the second countdown that began after the SteamOS announcement? I guess we will find out when the timer reaches zero on Wednesday. Until then, let dreams of a free Steam operating system that runs on your television dance in your head.
 
You can read the full announcement here.

Jack Gardner
What could Gabe Newell be planning? Is the Steam Box finally going to become a reality?
 
Let's take a look at the facts.
 
Last year, Valve released Big Picture for their digital distribution platform Steam, which allowed users to easily connect the service to their televisions. Even before Big Picture Valve has been quietly hiring people for hardware development, hardware that hasn't surfaced yet, though Gabe Newell has repeatedly assured the public that something is being worked on.
 
Oh, and Valve has posted a countdown until 1 PM Eastern under the url store.steampowered.com/livingroom.
 
The page teases that "The Steam Universe is Expanding in 2014" and a statement reading, "Last year, we shipped a software feature called Big Picture, a user-interface tailored for televisions and gamepads. This year we’ve been working on even more ways to connect the dots for customers who want Steam in the living-room. Soon, we’ll be adding you to our design process, so that you can help us shape the future of Steam."
 


Jack Gardner
Today, Take-Two Interactive announced that Grand Theft Auto V has generated more day one sales than any other title in the history of Take-Two or Grand Theft Auto.
 
Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two, issued a statement on Rockstar's accomplishment saying, "Beginning at midnight on Monday, consumers around the world gathered in anticipation to be among the first to experience the evolution of this remarkable series. In North America alone, more than 8,300 stores opened their doors at midnight to welcome fans [...] We are incredibly proud of Rockstar Games' creative achievement and could not be more pleased with the success of this launch."
 
If nothing else, the future of Take-Two Interactive is looking incredibly bright and Rockstar will probably be free to pursue whatever creative project their hearts desire. Perhaps we can finally get a massive open-world game based on feudal Japan? A guy can dream, right?
 
What would you like to see coming out of Rockstar next?

Jack Gardner
On October 29, Battlefield 4 launches on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. The PlayStation 4 version of Battlefield 4 hits shelves on November 12, followed closely by the Xbox One version a week later on November 19. Battlefield fans who don't want to wait the two or three weeks for the next wave of consoles can purchase a current-gen copy and upgrade to a next-gen copy via a number of methods for a small fee. Upgrading will carry over all multiplayer statistics and premium memberships.
 
Where can you upgrade and how do you upgrade and how much will it cost?
 
PlayStation 3 customers who want a PS4 upgrade for Battlefield 4, marked copies will come with a code that can be redeemed for $9.99. This offer expires on March 28, 2014.
 
Microsoft is offering upgrades at numerous retail locations. Best Buy, Microsoft stores, and GameStop* can trade-in an Xbox 360 copy of Battlefield 4 and upgrade to an Xbox One version for $9.99. Alternatively, Amazon is offering $25 of credit toward Battlefield 4 on Xbox One in addition to the minimum $25 trade-in value of the game. All offers expire December 31, 2013.
 
*GameStop trade-in only available to GameStop Power-Up Rewards members.

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