Due to some maintenance on the site, the Mid-Week Roundup has been moved to Friday, which is today, which is why you’re reading it now. This week I’m covering the present (Dark Souls II), past (an online-gaming service as old as Quake), and the future (gaming’s move to complete immersion).
Out with the old and slowly, painfully in with the new. A couple of online hosting and DRM services that run the multiplayer side of many games will be shutting down this year, leaving those games in an annoying limbo. Games For Windows LIVE has yet to have an official date set for it’s execution and Microsoft has said nothing about future support of its own titles. Most of the affected games have already migrated over to Steamworks. Meanwhile, GameSpy has said that it will be no longer operate starting on May 31, which will kill all multiplayer for a very large number of games. But while some companies tend to shrug off the concerns of their players and consider this sort of thing to be nothing more than the growing pains of an industry moving forward, a few others are doing what they can to support their back catalog. 2K has announced that they will be moving the multiplayer hosting for Borderlands, and Sid Meier’s Civilization III & IV including expansions to the Steamworks platform. A commendable move, but not without a few casualties as 2K also revealed a list of their games that currently have no plans to continue life after GameSpy.
I would also like to note that the Gearbox port of Halo: Combat Evolved currently uses GameSpy, and Halo 2 Vista runs on GFWL. Both of these game as well as Halo 3 are expected, though not officially confirmed, to be given a Steam release at some point.
An unofficial companion device to the Oculus Rift that you’ve probably seen online, the Virtuix Omni-Treadmill, appears to have broken loose of the initial “what?” reactions of many and raised $3 million according to an official announcement on the company’s website. The Omni-Treadmill is designed to work in conjunction with a VR headset and allows full freedom of movement in 3D space as the player walks or runs in place on a half-spherical base made of pure magic. Originally raising over $1 million on KickStarter, the Virtuix made headlines when it was featured on the CBS show, Sharktank, where a panel of entrepreneurs decided whether to invest in it or not. One of them, Mark Cuban, declined on the show but is now one of the many investors in the product. As the Virtuix edges closer to a consumer release, high-rolling Kickstarter backers have been told that their own treadmill will arrive this summer, while others can now pre-order it on the Virtuix site for a not-too-shabby $500. I’d get it for Skyrim alone.
There’s been another step toward the proliferation of Linux as the preferred platform for Steam gaming (or at least a sizable movement away from Windows). Unreal has announced that the upcoming latest version of it’s pioneering game engine, the Unreal Engine 4.1, will have full support for both Linux and the Steam OS (which, of course is a form of Linux). It also fills out it’s platform support by including the PS4 and Xbox One, showing a great deal of that versatility the engine has always been known for. This will likely result in many more games being available on Linux by default, and may even set the stage for Linux conversions of older Unreal titles. Currently, compiling Unreal code for Linux requires a Windows PC and a GitHub account.