I swiped right for Daenerys Targaryen. This isn’t Tinder (although I would have swiped right for her in that case, too); it’s the upcoming iOS and Mac game Reigns: Game of Thrones, set for release sometime in October. In this case I’m swiping right to send her off to help Jon Snow slay the undead horde with her Texas-sized dragon, and I see no reason to worry. At last, after so long, she’s on the Iron Throne. She has what she wants in her grasp, and I figure it’s safe to ignore the whimpering cautions of Tyrion Lannister. But her long saga comes to an end barely moments after, her newborn reign cut short by a gruesome mishap on my part.
But it’s not the end of the tale. My failure leads less likely folks to sit upon the throne, whether it’s Tyrion himself or even the humble blacksmith Gendry. With them in the hottest seat of all, I find that some things turn out differently.
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Martin Jonasson, the creator of the popular ricochet game Holedown, says that the usual business of “freemium” games like cooldowns and consumables rubs him the wrong way. He acknowledges that some games implement free-to-play monetization systems well, but he’s turned off by how they force him to serve “multiple masters.”
“You can’t only focus on making the player’s experience positive [under that model]; you have to ensure there’s some money trickling in as well,” he tells me. “That’s a concern I’m happy to avoid.”
Focusing on the experience alone has paid off. Holedown only costs $3.99, but it’s simple and endlessly entertaining. It isn’t hard: Its main challenges deal with learning how to aim and collecting enough crystals to shoot more balls at once and move on to even deeper planets. It’s a “delightful spectacle of bouncing,” in Jonasson’s own words, and I see no reason to dispute them. It relaxes more than it frustrates, in large part because there’s rarely any question that your failures spring from your own mistakes rather than resisting subtle pushes to cash shops.
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As of the latest public beta patch for macOS Mojave, eGPU support for the Mac is truly worth getting excited about. Back when I first covered Mac eGPU support, I noted that it came with one significant drawback: You could only see its benefits through an external monitor. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Apple now lets you accelerate graphics directly on the display of a MacBook Pro or iMac, and even more impressively, it lets you easily choose which apps will benefit from that acceleration.
The general process of hooking up an eGPU hasn’t changed much. All you need to do is have a compatible graphics card (which will almost always be AMD, as Nvidia cards still aren’t supported) and an eGPU enclosure to put it in. From there, you just plug the eGPU into your Mac through the Thunderbolt 3 port (which means this only works on Macs made within the last couple of years). Your Mac will immediately recognize the eGPU. There’s no need to install specific drivers or restart your Mac. Overall, it’s a good example of the elegant simplicity we expect from Apple.
And now Apple extends that simplicity to the rest of the experience by easily letting you choose which apps you want to power with your graphics card. The feature has actually been around since macOS 10.13.4, but before it required dropping some code in the Terminal.
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Shortly after work yesterday I strolled out of my office and found a bunch of zombies loitering around the San Francisco Ferry Building. This being San Francisco, I was tempted to live and let, well, unlive.
I had obligations, though, so I fired a pistol on the lot of them. Blam, a headshot there. Boom, another in the back. I even tossed in a grenade for good measure. And right as I prepared to shoot the final one, I gasped as a real-world teenager skated into the line of fire.
He’s fine, of course. This isn’t the real world, or at least not really: It’s The Walking Dead: Our World: Next Games’ new free-to-play augmented reality game in the vein of Pokémon Go.
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Multiplayer games are on a roll lately. By now you probably already know about Hammond, the adorable hamster who rolls about in an iron wrecking ball of death in Overwatch (and whom we tried out in a recent PCWorld Twitch stream). But as for me? I find I can’t stop thinking about Guild Wars 2’s Roller Beetles, which rolled out in the patch for GW2’s "Long Live the Lich" patch last week.
Ride one, and you’ll probably feel the same way. They’re the sixth mount in the newish Path of Fire expansion following the existing Raptors, Griffons, and the like, but they’re also likely the best mount I’ve ever ridden in an MMORPG.
Oh, sure, they do the usual stuff like getting you from Point A to Point B. You can summon them and dismiss them at will (after unlocking them). If you’ve played anything from World of Warcraft to Final Fantasy XIV, you know the drill.
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I love the stories from the first days of Pokémon Go: the tales of shut-ins venturing out into parks and public spaces to find not only Charmanders and Bulbasaurs but sometimes new real-life friends who shared their passions. At its best, early Pokémon Go lent truth to the phrase “augmented reality,” as people found their local corner stores or libraries became “PokéStops” for replenishing the supplies needed to play. In an age when people bark at others for staring at screens rather than faces, Niantic’s game managed to blaze a middle road.
But me? I spent those halcyon days on a remote and dusty South Texas ranch, hunting Pokémon of my own through swaths of skin-ripping mesquite beneath a 100-degree sun. Or trying to, anyway. Half an hour would go by before I found something to toss a ball at, and when such a thing would appear, it was almost always a near-worthless Rattata or Pidgey.
I had far better luck finding real snakes or armadillos. The nearest PokéStop was five miles away—where someone legit once told me to “speak American” when I mentioned Pokémon—and leveling devolved a soulless nightmare. Rural Pokémon has always sucked like a Hoover, but my situation was about as bad as it got.
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Well, you might recall that we originally said that we were going to try out the Steam Link for this week’s Apple Arcade, but it looks like that's not happening. Thus far, it hasn’t been released for iOS, and we haven’t received beta access. So we’ll shoot for next week.
This week we’ll instead head to the land of the elves. Specifically, we’ll be running about the lush islands in The Elder Scrolls Online’s new Summerset expansion, which entered early access for Mac and PC preorderers today, and which will fully go live on June 5. We’ll have a review ready for you then—and you might recall I’ve already written a preview.
But you don’t have to wait until next month to see what it’s like. Today at 2:00 p.m. Pacific, I’ll hop on my trusty 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and show you how well Summerset performs on Mac (along with some of the sights).
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