Response: I4U Embraces Sexism Blaming PR Issues on Marketing Manager’s Maternity Leave

Posted on August 2, 2016 by Renee Gittins

This morning I came across an article on I4U’s site titled “The Sweet Reason of Niantic’s Lack of Communication About Pokemon GO Troubles”. Intrigued, I opened the article and read it. If I had been drinking coffee, I would have spit it out all over my desk.

I4U’s Luigi Lugmayr placed Niantic’s Product Marketing Manager, Yennie Solheim Fuller, at the center of the blame for Niantic’s poor communication with their fanbase.

Why is Niantic basically silent throughout the turmoil of viral growth that cause all kinds of issues?

The person who is responsible for PR and Marketing at Niantic gave birth two days after the launch of Pokemon Go. Yennie Solheim Fuller is on maternity leave.

First of all, I am not sure how Lugmayr decided that Fuller was responsible for the PR of Niantic. While she previously acted as the Marketing & Communications Manager when Niantic was still under Google, she left that position for her role as a Marketing Manager a year ago. Although she still may have been responsible for public relations before her maternity leave, there are no indications anywhere online that is the case.

Secondly, if Fuller gave birth two days after launch, you can bet that Niantic had months of time to plan for her absence. If Fuller had been in a car accident instead, Niantic wouldn’t have had months to prepare, and would she have still have been blamed? Though this is a rather moot point if Fuller was not in charge of public relations at all.


Lugmayr does state later in the article that “Because nobody at Niantic anticipated the extreme popularity of Pokemon Go, the company has likely not prepared a replacement for Solheim while she is on maternity leave.” Though this statement removes some of the blame from Fuller, it falls painfully short after blaming her maternity leave from marketing as the reason for Niantic’s public relations failure.

Lugmayr also fails to recognize that Niantic has been well known for its slow response times and lack of communication with its community. The “silence” his article focuses on as a huge issue has been Niantic’s normal behavior ever since they launched Ingress in 2013.

Articles like this are extremely detrimental to the game industry and the women who are part of it. It is no secret that the game industry has problems with sexism and low amounts of female employees, only 22% according to IGDA’s 2015 survey. The women who are part of the industry are often victims of harassment, are paid less than men, and rarely receive maternity leave at all.

Calling Fuller’s maternity leave the “sweet reason” that Niantic is being unresponsive will make companies shy away from hiring women and providing maternity leave, and discourage other women from pursuing careers in games knowing that they may be unfairly incriminated for a failure of their company.

This shameful article not only places unwarranted fault on Fuller, but it features her image as the banner photo along with the jeering “sweet reason” in the title, effectively painting a target on her. Fuller’s Twitter is full of harassment and blame.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=””>@YennieSolheim</a> You are doing a horrible PR &amp; Marketing. Quit NOW!</p>&mdash; Réudrigo (@Aristeaux) <a href=”″>August 1, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=””>@YennieSolheim</a> so the reason that <a href=””>@NianticLabs</a> has been silent since the game released is that ur on maternity leave?</p>&mdash; Venkat Krishnan (@krish_ven) <a href=”″>July 21, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Women in the game industry need support of the public and press, not to suffer attacks for failures outside of their control, especially while on leave. It is shameful that Lugmayr would make Fuller the scapegoat for Niantic’s habitual lack of communication. With a USA Alexa rank of 31239 and a global Alexa rank of 82870, one would hope that I4U would have better quality journalism than is contained in Lugmayr’s article.


Neko Atsume Update [1.7.0]: Three new cats and tons of toys!

Posted on July 14, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Right in the midst of the summer heat, Neko Atsume has released another big update! New goodies, backgrounds and kitties have joined the ranks of the casual cat-collecting game, along with some other hidden treats!

There’s definitely a general beach theme to this update, full of seashells and even pirates!

First, let’s look at all of the new items:


Image courtesy of /u/anizolp.

  • Beach Ball – 85 Silver
  • Treasure-box – 400 Silver
  • Luxury Treasure-box – 20 Gold
  • Dino Deluxe – 999 Silver
  • Grass Cushion (Red) – 200 Silver
  • Grass Cushion (Navy) – 200 Silver
  • Aluminium Bowl – 130 Silver
  • Manta Gel Mat – 450 Silver
  • Mister Penguin – 300 Silver
  • Shell Tunnel (Pink) – 400 Silver
  • Shell Tunnel (Blue) – 400 Silver
  • Shell Tunnel (White) – 400 Silver

At 999 Silver, the Dino Deluxe now beats out the Tower of Treats as the most expensive Silver item. It does lend itself to some pretty adorable scratching, but seems like it has a low cat to space ratio, especially in comparison to the Tower of Treats.


Image courtesy of /u/mimulus_monkey.

Image courtesy of /u/mimulus_monkey.

You may have also noted a cute little pig in the goodies picture! It is a katori senko, a holder for insect repelling incense coils, commonly used during the summer to keep pesky mosquitoes away from homes.

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The katori senko will likely be a seasonal change much like the snow that appeared in Neko Atsume during the winter. Another seasonal change is also visible in this latest patch, flowering cacti in the Western Style house design.

Image courtesy of /u/tobikoneko.

Image courtesy of /u/tobikoneko.

And, last, but certainly not least, let’s meet our adorable new kitty pals!

There is a new rare cat and two others. The rare is the swash buckling Bengal Jack! A pirate themed kitty lured out by the Luxury Treasure-box. His two companions are Pasty and Chip!

Here's all three of the new kitties chilling together with their goodies! Image courtesy of /u/notmyfaultyousuck.

Here’s all three of the new kitties chilling together with their goodies! Image courtesy of /u/notmyfaultyousuck.

Bengal Jack will even find other kitties in his treasure chest! Or maybe he’s just looking for some booty.

Image courtesy of /u/Sabresfan747

Image courtesy of /u/Sabresfan747


The Complete Guide to Pokémon GO [Updated]

Posted on July 8, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Pokémon GO has spread like wildfire across the United States and other countries lucky enough to have access to it right now. However, the guides are far and few between. We’ve collected the best and most important tips and tricks to guide you right here!


  • PokéStops grant you items, including Eggs, Potions, Revives, Poké Balls and Razz Berries
  • To get the items you have to click on a PokéStop (marked by a blue circle icon on the map) and spin
  • You don’t have to click on the items that pop up to collect them, simply closing out of the PokéStops will collect them all


  • PokéStops are located at points of interest (likely determined by Niantic’s previous game, Ingress); these include murals, parks, art installations and museums
  • The items generated by PokéStops are dependant on your level, higher levels can get more items
  • The items are often level-locked, so you will start by only finding Eggs and Poké Balls
  • A Lure can be placed PokéStop to attract Pokémon

Catching Pokémon

  • You will need to walk to find Pokémon (unless you are using Incense or a Lure on a PokéStop)
  • When you start the game, you are giving the chance to catch one of the three original starting Pokémon (Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur), the others disappear when you catch one, but you can run into them later
  • If you want Pikachu as your starter, you must walk away from the other starters multiple times (3-5 times) until Pikachu spawns with them. You can also run into all four of these Pokémon out in the wild.


  • Catch every single Pokémon you see. Each catch gives you Stardust and Pokémon candy, both used to improve your other Pokémon
  • You can tell which Pokémon are near you by expanding the menu in the bottom right of your screen, the fewer paw prints, the closer they are, and the top left will always be the closest (and bottom right the farthest)


  • The environment, time and location affects what kind of Pokémon you run into, go to different kinds of areas to find different types of Pokémon!
  • Wandering Pokémon are visible to everyone and catchable to everyone until a few minutes after they are first caught, then they despawn
  • Pokémon wander around, so one could be drifting towards you or away from you
  • Lures placed on PokéStops and attract Pokémon for everyone for 30min, they are a good way to make new friends
  • Incense is attached to you and attracts Pokémon just for you for 30min. These Pokémon do not appear to be the Pokémon that are shown as being “close” to you
My character surrounded by the pink cloud from Incense.

My character surrounded by the pink cloud from Incense.

  • You must throw your Poké Ball and hit the grey circle around the Pokémon, the aim requires a toss of the correct distance as well
  • For an exp and better chance of the Pokémon you are facing, hit the inner circle — this circle starts as wide as the grey circle and shrinks down to nothing before repeating
  • Like in the classic Pokémon games, hitting a Pokémon with your ball does not mean it will be caught, it can still break out. Three wiggles and a click is what you’re looking for!
  • The color of the inner circle indicates how hard the Pokémon is to catch. Green is easy, yellow is medium, orange is hard, dark orange is very hard and red is the hardest. Red Pokémon are the most likely to break out of their Poké Balls.
  • Throwing “curve balls” (lobbing the ball with a bit of a curved angle instead of tossing it straight) can improve your chances of catching a Pokémon and reward extra experience points


  • You can swirl the ball before tossing for a guaranteed curve ball
  • Some Pokémon will try to resist being caught by using various moves, these include:
    • Blocking – The Pokémon smacks the Poké Ball away, combat this by throwing the ball when the inner circle is smaller
    • Dodging/Jumping – The Pokémon jumps up, potentially dodging a thrown Poké Ball, combat this by waiting for the Pokémon to jump right before throwing. This move is used mostly by Flying Pokémon.
    • Attacking – The Pokémon attacks when the inner circle is small, causing it to stick at that size. Aside from good aim, the only way to counter this is by throwing your Poké Ball early or by waiting for the attack to end, upon which the normal inner circle cycle continues.
  • At level 8 you unlock Razz Berries, if you use a Razz Berry on a Pokémon you are trying to catch, you have a higher success chance. Use this on Pokémon with orange and red inner circles.
  • You unlock more effective Poké Balls as you level up — at level 12, Great Balls are unlocked
  • The higher your level is, the higher Combat Point (CP) Pokémon you will find, so keep hunting!

Building Your Team

  • Pokémon have different power levels (Combat Points – CP), these can be increased by using candy of that Pokémon type and Stardust
  • Your highest CP Pokémon will generally be your strongest


  • Pokémon of the same species can have different move sets, check to see which basic and ultimate attack each Pokémon has (found at the bottom of their info page)
  • Candies for a Pokémon can be used to evolve them or, in combination with Stardust, increase their CP
  • “Transferring” a Pokémon will destroy it, but will grant you additional candies for that Pokémon that you can use to evolve and improve others of that species
  • You can hold up to 250 Pokémon when you start the game, so don’t transfer a Pokémon if you are unsure whether or not it will be useful!

Gyms and Battles

  • You battle other Pokémon at gyms (and, it seems, special events) by tapping to attack and swiping to dodge


  • When your Pokémon’s attack bar under its HP becomes full, tapping and holding will release it’s ultimate/second ability. This can take a bit of time.
  • Pokémon types work the same way they do in the classic Pokémon games, so try to use Pokémon attacks that will be super effective against your opponents or Pokémon that will likely resist your opponent’s attacks
  • When you reach level 5 and interact with a gym, you will be encouraged to select a team to represent in your gym battles; Team Instinct (Yellow), Team Mystic (Blue) and Team Valor (Red)


  • At this time, it does not appear that you can change your team
  • An unclaimed gym (which will appear white/grey) can be claimed by a team by leaving a Pokémon at the gym. This Pokémon will be returned to you when it is knocked out of the gym.
  • Gyms has prestige and prestige levels. The higher the prestige level of a gym, the more Pokémon can be left by trainers at that gym.
  • Only a single Pokémon can be left at each gym per player
  • To battle an opposing team’s gym, you can select up to 6 Pokémon and fight the Pokémon of the other gym from lowest to highest CP


  • Defeating an opposing team’s gym will lower the gym’s prestige. If it lowers the prestige level, it reduces number of Pokémon slots the gym has. If all slots were taken, the lowest CP Pokémon of the gym will be kicked out to fit the reduced number.
  • Reducing the prestige to nothing will clear the gym and open it up to be taken over by another team
  • At friendly gyms you can battle with a single Pokémon against the other Pokémon in the gym to increase the gyms’ prestige. The prestige only is increased if a Pokémon is defeated. It appears more prestige is granted for battles between closer CP Pokémon.
  • After a battle your Pokémon may be hurt or fainted, you must use items (Potions and Revives) to bring them back to life and full health
  • Pokémon knocked out of a gym will be returned to you at 1hp

Leveling Up

  • Leveling up your trainer profile has many benefits, including increasing the CP level of Pokémon you can find, granting you additional items, and unlocking new item types


  • You gain experience for the following
    • Catching a new Pokémon species (500xp)
    • Hatching a Pokémon from an egg (500xp, stacks with new species)
    • Catching a Pokémon (100xp, stacks with catching a new species)
    • Throwing a Poké Ball well grants extra experience.
      • “Nice” throws, hit the inner circle when it is rather large – 10xp
      • “Great” throws, hit the inner circle when it is <70% of the outer circle – 50xp
      • “Excellent” throws, hit the inner circle when it is about 25% of the outer circle – 100xp
      • “Curveball” throws, throw the ball in an arching motion, swirling it on the screen helps – 10xp (xp stacks with the Nice/Great/Excellent xp)
    • Using a PokéStop
    • Winning a battle
  • Using a Lucky Egg grants you double experience points for 30min, this is great to use right before evolving a bunch of Pokémon or when you are sitting on multiple Lures


  • Eggs are found at PokéStops
  • You can view your Eggs in the same menu as your  Pokémon (by selecting “Eggs” in the top right)
  • You cannot tell what will hatch out of an Egg, but different species require different amounts of walking (2km, 5km, 10km, etc)
  • “Walking” seems to be considered movement under around 15mph (yes, you can grab a bike and ride around to hatch Eggs like the good ol’ days), GPS drifting sometimes will count as walking
  • You start the hatching process by selecting an Egg out of the Egg menu and placing it in an Incubator


  • Your default Incubator has unlimited charges
  • Other Incubators (such as ones from the store), have a limited number of incubation charges
  • To incubate multiple Pokémon at the same time, you must use multiple Incubators
  • You can only carry 9 eggs at a time, but increasing your inventory or Pokémon storage with upgrade items from the store may increase this number
  • Each Egg can carry a different Pokémon, depending on the walk distance required, check out this table to see the Egg distances for each Pokémon

General Tips

  • Turn off the music volume in the settings to clearly hear when Pokémon and other objects come within range
  • For Android users, if you turn on the developer mode, you can set your phone to not sleep when it is plugged in. This means you can keep up Pokémon GO and listen for sounds of Pokémon while doing other work
  • Turning off the AR while attempting to catch Pokémon can make it easier to aim and reduce lag (there is a toggle in the top right of the catching screen)

Comment your own tips and tricks below and we’ll be happy to add them to our list!



Pokémon GO Released in the US

Posted on July 7, 2016 by Renee Gittins

After being released to Australia and New Zealand for iOS and Android earlier on July 6th, Pokémon GO has now been officially released in the United States, much to the joy of many Pokémon fans.


Pokémon GO is an augmented reality phone app from Niantic, the creators of Ingress. Much like Ingress, Pokémon GO is a GPS-based game that will require users to explore the real world. In Pokémon GO, players can find Pokémon, eggs, Poké Balls and other items, then use them to battle other trainers and even gym leaders.


The game starts by placing the original starter Pokémon around you, allowing you to catch one. From that point until level 5, you can gain experience by visiting PokéStops where you can pick up items and by catching Pokémon that appear in the world with a finger-flick toss of a Poké Ball.

Once you reach level 5, you are required to pick a team to join, much like Ingress’ Resistance and Enlightened. However, Pokémon GO sports three teams: Team Instinct (Yellow), Team Mystic (Blue) and Team Valor (Red). You can support gyms owned by your team by leaving Pokémon there to fight and battle gyms owned by another team. You battle by tapping and swiping on your screen.


While the phone app is free, there are numerous micro-transactions happy to relieve you of your money. You can discover Poké Balls and other items out in the world, but you can also purchase them. I also have a feeling that more customization items might be available for gold in the future.


Later in July, another item will be available for purchase: the Pokémon GO Plus, a wrist-worn wearable with that “notifies the player about events in the game—such as the appearance of a Pokémon nearby—using an LED and vibration.” It also promises the ability to “catch Pokémon or perform other simple actions by pressing the button on the device.”


Good luck out there, Pokémon masters!


Key Resellers a Huge Threat to Indies

Posted on June 24, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Key resellers have a reputation for being sketchy and potentially harmful to the game industry. Recently, the magnitude of their negative impact was shown.

Earlier this week, tinyBuild, an indie game development studio and publisher, revealed that the key reselling site, G2A.COM, sold thousands of keys of their games without tinyBuild ever seeing a dime. Almost $200k was pulled in by G2A, though tinyBuild has noted that the keys sold at retail value would have been worth $450k.

tinyBuild's calculations of sales and lost sales based on sales information from G2A.

tinyBuild’s calculations of sales and lost sales based on sales information from G2A.

G2A’s response to this reveal was not an apology, but demands that tinyBuild produce a list of the keys that are fraudulent (a rather difficult and absurd request), and a criticism of tinyBuild’s loss estimate, clearly not understanding what “retail value” means.

G2A.COM calls for tinyBuild to provide their list of suspicious keys within three days from the date of this transmission.

The CEO of tinyBuild, Alex Nichiporchik responded that:

The way our business works is we work with a ton of partners, and tracking down individual key batches is an insane amount of work. Even if we did that and deactivated certain batches, each one of them will have a bunch of ‘legitimate’ redemptions… I [also] believe [G2A would] just resell those keys and make more money off of it.

Alex’s distrust of key resellers is understandable, especially considering the response from G2A. Instead of taking down tinyBuild keys or providing compensation of the sales to the studio, G2A is still happily making money off of assisting scammers.

One of tinyBuild's games, Punch Club.

One of tinyBuild’s games, Punch Club.

Key resellers seem to have a pretty reasonable business model at first glance: a person gets a key for a game they don’t want or already have, and sells it on a key reselling website to make a few bucks and put the key in the pocket of someone who will use it.

The internet is not a kind place, though, and key resellers provide an opportunity for fraudsters to easily cash out. They use stolen credit cards to purchase keys, like from Humble Bundle and even key resellers, then turn around and resell them on the key reselling sites that are more lenient in their security. The key is resold and gone on to more legitimate hands long before the first seller is hit with the charge-back from the stolen card. Publishers and developers lose, while scammers and sketchy key resellers win.

“They’re basically helping people launder money” noted Mike Gnade, from IndieGameStand. “This scam really pisses me off – mainly because these people aren’t stealing from large rich corporations but taking advantage of smaller companies and indie developers.”

While stolen credit cards are a large part of the problem, there are other places that these key reselling merchants are finding keys: bots and scammers.

Bots happily search streams, Facebook and other channels for posted codes to snatch up and resell, and the losing side is always the developers. Not even the smallest game studios are free from these risks.

My inbox often gets emails like the following:


My name is Anas, nice to meet you.
I found in the Steam list your game Potions: A Curious Tale and would like to submit it on my channel.
I plan to try your game on one of the my closest twitch-streams, and if I liked it – make a full review on YouTube channel.
I will be very grateful, if you send me few extra keys as a small thanks for advertising (I want give them to my friends, who are just beginning to engage a streaming).
Thank you for your time. I hope to hear your answer, even if it is negative.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Someone wants to stream Potions: A Curious Tale, and, wow, they have 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube. An amazing opportunity, right?
Probably not. It’s like that this person is just phishing for keys. They’ve made a gmail account with an address that seems similar to what this streamer would use and are probably using a bot to write emails like this. Notice how the only detail about my game is the name of the game itself, and, of course, they want multiple keys, not just one.

With an unreleased game, I am particularly sensitive to requests like this, because the game is not intended to be released to the general public yet. Reselling of my keys would be extremely harmful to Potions: A Curious Tale, not just due to lost revenue, but because the game is unfinished and may be received poorly.

Luckily, there are services like Distribute(), created by Vlambeer to help indie developers sort legitimate requests from illegitimate ones. They offer tracking of “Verified press contacts [to] help you ensure press requests come from a trusted source. Verified press contacts help you avoid fake requests from video content creators or people pretending to be from larger websites or YouTube personalities.”
Still, the night is dark and full of scammers.


Logitech G930 Review

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Renee Gittins

A brand I keep coming back to is Logitech. I was a die-hard fan of their mouses until Mad Catz’ R.A.T. series won me over, and I’ve had numerous headsets and webcams from them as well.

Today I wanted to review one of my favorite gaming products by Logitech, the Logitech G930 wireless headset. This headset has treated me very well over the last 5 years I’ve had the pleasure of owning it. I’ve had it longer than any boyfriend I’ve ever dated!

As both a gamer and game developer, I spend a lot of time in front of my computer, so having a comfortable headset is key. The padded headband and adjustable lengths help make the G930 easy to wear. Usually the adjustable parts of headsets are prone to breaking, but the G930 has study metal where most headphones merely use plastic, helping this pair far outlast any other adjustable headset I’ve owned.


The ear cups of the G930 are well sized and fit well over my ears. This is an odd rarity nowadays with many headsets preferring a circular ear cup that is often too small and clips the top of the ear.

Unfortunately, over the years and hundreds of hours of use, the plastic coating on the ear pads has begun to flake off, leaving little black bits of rubbery material in my hair and around my desk. While replacement pads are only $6 on Amazon, I wish that better material choices were made for such a high-use product.


The sound of the G930 is crisp and clear, featuring Dolby 7.1 surround sound, and has a great range. While my Sennheisers handle bass a bit better than the G930, the G930 does a good job and covers the other ranges with sharp clarity. Though I keep my volume at a level that doesn’t cause my ears to bleed, the G930 can reach a volume high enough that I’ve used it as a speaker while quickly showing a video to friends.

The mic on the G930 captures sound clearly and is slim and out of the way. While temporarily using another headset, I found myself irritated with the mic picking up pops and being constantly in my vision. Being able to rotate the mic up while not using it is a great feature, though I wouldn’t always trust the auto-mute. While rotating the mic up is supposed to mute the mic, a friend of mine had an incident while using the restroom on a Skype call where the position did not mute his mic, much to his own embarrassment.

The combination charging-cable/USB extender that comes with the G930 is very convenient and has an impressive cord length. I feel like I should have made better use of this cable, because I brutalized the dongle thoroughly enough when using the headset with a laptop that I bent the connection between the USB connector and circuit board, which may be part of the cause of the headset disconnecting randomly during use. This was not an issue when I first bought the headset.

g930-gaming-headset-images (1)

The volume control, mute button and programmable buttons on the headset are extremely convenient. The volume control wheel is well-sized, strudy and scrolls easily. Muting the mic also lights a small, red LED on the microphone, which can be glanced at quickly without removing the headset to check the state. Unfortunately, the mute does not seem to work with all applications. While the mute button works for Skype, vent and many other programs, Discord still picks up audio when the headset is in muted mode.


My absolute favorite part of the G930 is its wireless capabilities. The headset has an impressive range, allowing me to keep connection while anywhere in my apartment, and the battery holds a hefty charge, allowing hours of use between charges. Being able to pop up and grab a glass of water without missing out on conversation or pausing a song I’m enjoying is great. I’ve gotten so used to being able to get up and walk away from my computer with my headset on that I almost tore my head off walking away from my PC while using a wired headset!

Overall, this is a comfortable, well-rounded, quality headset that I would recommend to any gamer or active PC user, especially those who would enjoy and benefit from its wireless capabilities.



Forget Sports Managers, Here’s A Management RPG

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Renee Gittins

While I enjoy sports here and there, I never quite understood the draw of sports management games. Now that I’ve seen Epic Tavern, I can understand the appeal: recruit, manage and reap the rewards from your own heroes. Enjoy their victories, work against their failures and quirks. It just so happens that my heroes swing swords at dragons, not throw balls around.


Epic Tavern promises to “[combine] classic RPG elements with a unique combination of roster management and social simulation gameplay” as you run your tavern. As the tavernmaster, you must make many decisions, from the adventurers you recruit to the quests to send them on to the way your tavern looks and feels, and, of course, the number of pints you warm your heroes’ bellies with!


I am rather fond of the heroes tavern concept. One of my favorite board games is Red Dragon Inn, where you act as an adventure drinking, gambling and brawling within an inn. Thus Epic Tavern has thoroughly sparked my interest with its promise of humorous interactions, fun management, and diverse paths and results.

Fittingly, Epic Tavern is based in a land called Beor.

Fittingly, Epic Tavern is based in a land called Beor.

Though Epic Tavern is not available currently, it has a Kickstarter campaign that launched on May 25th and that will run through June 28th. It funded in its first week, and now 135% funded at $54,040, well above the $40k goal. Games on Kickstarter have been struggling more in the recent years than they did back in 2012 when any video game concept was funded instantly, so their early success is quite impressive.

The campaign is not doubt assisted by the fact that the team at Hyperkinetic Studios has a shining roster, with well-over a collective 100 years of experience in the game industry, including on titles such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Resistance: Retribution. Such experience helps garner the confidence of backers.

I am greatly looking forward to playing this silly game and gathering my own group of adventures with frothy pints of beer!


Steam Dev Days Returns

Posted on June 9, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Members of Valve’s Steamworks program, which provides game developers and publishers the tools needed to publish their games on Steam, received emails today announcing that the much coveted Steam Dev Days is returning.


The first Steam Dev Days was held January 15-16 in 2014 and was regarded as a highly informative conference with quality talks and networking. While Valve used it to heavily market their struggling Steam Machine and Steam Controller, they also showed their virtual reality headset, now known as the Vive.

While the first Steam Dev Days was invite-only and cost-free, it looks like Valve is intended to expand their audience, allowing even non-Steamworks members to sign-up for notification when registration goes live. However, it does seem that Steamworks partners will get preference.

The registration fee is noted to be $95, though the cost is almost certainly more to discourage people who may not attend from signing up rather than to offset the costs of the event. While some talks will pitch Valve’s products and services, all of the sessions last Steam Dev Days were well done and contained valuable knowledge.

Though the Steam Machine was the focus of the first Steam Dev Days, it looks like the Vive and virtual reality has taken its place as the hot topic for discussion.


As Valve gave away a BRIX Pro Steam Machine and prototype Steam Controller at the previous Steam Dev Days, and gave a Vive Pre to each attendee of the Vision Summit 2016, some are wondering if attendees of Steam Dev Days this year might find a Vive in their bag of goodies.

Free Vive or not, this is a conference worth attending.



Purfect Team: Overwatch Kitties

Posted on June 2, 2016 by Renee Gittins

A friend recently shared with me some Overwatch art from the talented artist 솔져앓이 릴루. As the internet absolutely loves Overwatch right now, and has always loved cats, I thought that I just had to share these cute kitty heroes!

Below is cat fan art for 18 of the 21 heroes in Overwatch, only the three non-human heroes have been excluded (Bastion, Winston and Zenyatta).

A little skill with Photoshop or Gimp can turn these images into your very own team composition. I’ve shared my own above!

Symmetra looking stoic and regal, while Mei sits next to her; cute, fluffy and joyful!



Reaper and McCree about to start a cat-fight. I wonder what Reaper’s kitty voice would sound like?


Junkrat looking as hyped-up and unstable as ever, while his colossal bodyguard, Roadhog, rests behind him.


A perky and muscled Zarya chatting to a less-than-pleased looking Pharah.



Two of the fastest cats around, Lucio and Tracer, share a paw-bump.



Even kitty Mercy still has her wings and she towers over her old Overwatch comrade, Torbjorn.



Reinhardt and Soldier 76 rock their scars on white fur together.



The two moodiest kitties, the snipers, Hanzo and Widowmaker, glare at everyone else.



And, finally, playfully bats at Genji, whose cybernetics transferred quite well to his cat form.



Hope you enjoy these feline heroes. Share your own team composition kitties below!


Prepare for Overwatch

Posted on May 23, 2016 by Renee Gittins

4pm PST.

That’s the time that the servers go live and Overwatch officially changes the landscape of team based first person shooters.

If the ticking of the clock is driving you insane, I recommend burning time reading the official Overwatch comics and watching their animated shorts. If you missed the beta or are looking for some tips, we’ve complied a list that will help ensure you enter the world of Overwatch with guns blazing:

Counter Pick – One of the key features of Overwatch is the ability to change heroes in the middle of a match. This allows you to adapt to the enemy team and pick counters to anyone who is being particularly tricky to deal with. Pharah raining on your parade? Snap to Soldier 76 or McCree and clip her wings. Bastion going for seige-mode? Turn him into a pile of scrap with Tracer, Reaper or Genji.

Did you know he used to have a shield, too? Bastion has already caused many broken keyboards, so make sure you counter him when he tries to mow your team down!

Did you know he used to have a shield, too? Bastion has already caused many broken keyboards, so make sure you counter him when he tries to mow your team down!

“Objectivewatch” – Overwatch is an objective based team game. You can get all of the kills in the match and still lose the game, so try not to get too distracted chasing down kills. Blizzard worked in a lot of benefit for helping the objective and not just badges! If you’re guiding a payload, note that it heals you and will increase its speed for each person standing near it (maxing out at 3 players).

Love Support, Kill Support – Healers in Overwatch are your best friend… unless they are on the enemy team, then they should be one of your top targets. A good support can make the enemy team feel unkillable, so make sure they are taken out!


Mercy can heal her teammates or give them a massive damage boost!

Move as a Team – While matches have a limited time, it’s okay to wait and group up before charging back into the battle. While an assassin character might need to run off and cut down an annoying sniper on their own, for the most part, you will get the most benefit of staying together, as each hero compliments and fills in the gaps that others leave. Not to mention, running in one by one is a good way to spend the whole match dead!

Play as a Team – Work on picking a well-balanced team that compliments each other well. Note that your ideal team composition on offense will likely be different than your ideal composition on defense, so switch around to fill in the gaps. Also work on playing your role in the team. While it might be really fun to charge into the enemy team as Reinhardt and get some good swings in, don’t charge off while you’re providing valuable defense to your squishier teammates and let them get slaughtered when their shield unexpectedly runs off.


Just avoid Winston if he is out of peanut butter.

Shoot Traps – Lots of heroes leave nasty little presents on the ground (and walls) for the opposing team. While you might be able to walk around them, you or your teammate might not be so nimble on your next pass, so light them up! Plus, you get kill credits for nuking them!

Enable Your Killfeed – In the options under gameplay, you can enable the killfeed, which will allow you to see who is killing whom in real time during your match. This will give you additional insight into what is happening, so you know who is alive, who isn’t, and who is mowing down their opponents.

Overwatch killfeed, courtesy of Gosu Gamers.

Overwatch killfeed, courtesy of Gosu Gamers.

BE NICE – It’s a team game. If you are a jerk and toxic to your team, everyone will play worse. Mistakes happen and you’re in this together, so be nice!

Have Fun – It’s a game, enjoy it! Play at six Solider 76s and yell out “Call of Duty!!” every time you attack, see what happens when you put five Mercy’s on a McCree, go bananas with an all Winston team. Don’t be afraid to mess around here and there to see what strange team combinations can do!

After all, how seriously can you take this abomination?

After all, how seriously can you take this abomination?


All Loot, No Group – Group Finding Tools Hurt World of Warcraft

Posted on May 13, 2016 by Renee Gittins

I still actively play World of Warcraft. No, I don’t mean that I just log into my garrison a few times a week to collect gold and send out followers.

I love pets, but that’s not why I log on. There are many more I have to farm, but don’t have the energy to put into hunting them down.

I love exploring the beautiful worlds, but that’s not why I log on. I’ve seen almost every inch of every map.

I love interesting quest lines, but that’s now why I log on. I just don’t have the motivation needed to finish Lore Master.

I love being an insanely geared druid, slaughtering enemies and fighting for top dps, but that’s not why I log on. I’ve stopped caring as much about that.

My main character in World of Warcraft, a feral druid named Riku.

My main character in World of Warcraft, a feral druid named Riku.

So why do I log on?

My guild.

I log on every Wednesday to raid Heroic Hellfire Citadel, even though my druid has, for the most part, best in slot gear. Even my legendary ring is maxed out at 795. This is the state that most of my guildmates are in: all with great gear, all know every fight, and we slaughter every boss without much thought.

Yet, every Wednesday a group of people come together, yes, to raid, but also to laugh and talk and banter.


I’ve been in the guild for nine years, yet I still feel like a newer member. Scalebane has held strong since before the release of World of Warcraft and is the oldest active guild on our server. They are my second family and I enjoy every single game I play with them, but World of Warcraft is the one that we all play together.

All of them know my name is “Renee”, but I am still called “Riku”, because that’s my name in this family of mine. Durkk, Tullen, Estara, Rel, Riin, Kinan, Raun, Frakir, Cyria, Perse, Sumerr, Nite, and more. These are names of the people in my family, even when Frakir is fondly called “Fucker”. Sure, I know they are Joe, Dan, Katrina, etc, but that’s not their name to me.


People are often startled when they hear I am still raiding and even more surprised when they see the strength of the bonds in the guild. This wasn’t always the reaction, though, because guilds meant more to everyone in the past. I remember when I could tell a lot about a person just by their guild, because it said a lot about the people they hang out with and what they enjoy doing. Nowadays, even the great raiding guilds are falling to the side, even Paragon has disbanded.

World of Warcraft is an amazing MMORPG. The content is expansive and high quality, but people consume it so fast that only the end game and random grinding/farming prizes are left to entertain. Thus, with all MMOs, a main draw is that you are playing with other people; people you can befriend; people you can grief.


Blizzard has done a great job of creating content, events and areas that help form connections between people, but that has been reduced greatly by group finding tools. They make the content easier to play, but greatly lessen the connections to the people you are playing with.

You no longer battle outside of raids, running from the graveyard back into the instance. Or recruit people in town to adventure out to the closest dungeon. Or banter outside of the battleground while waiting for the next one to begin.


Looking for Raid, Looking for Group, Dungeon Finder, battleground queues — all of these tools make the content faster and easier to access, but greatly reduce the need to interact with other people, especially in ways that encourage camaraderie. They make World of Warcraft easier to consume, they make it less intimidating for people who are shy, but they also prevent people from forming the connections that keep drawing them back to the game long after they’ve had their fill of content.

People who play through these tools do not have to be nice to the people they are playing with, they do not have to learn the fights or even their own class, and no one is motivated to teach them, because no one they play with is likely to group with them again. Due to this, people are much more likely to be toxic or simply give up on a group or someone that is not doing well. You have more players getting angry, more people being yelled at, and new players being so confused about boss fights that Blizzard implemented their own guides to fights in game. Though I’m still not sure anyone reads them.


Blizzard’s subscriber numbers dropped to their lowest numbers and Blizzard has stopped reporting them all together. While people have blamed slow releases of content for scaring people off, I think that Garrisons removing town interactions and looking for group tools reducing the need to work closely with other players are what is causing subscribers to drop like flies.

Is there a good solution? It’s hard to say. Hopefully Class Halls will not be as lonesome as Garrisons, there will be more content that requires working together, and Dalaran will once again regain it’s glory, druids humping pigs and all.




I Accidentally Made a Game Girls Love

Posted on May 9, 2016 by Renee Gittins

When I started Potions: A Curious Tale a year and a half ago, I didn’t know where it would lead me. I didn’t know that it would be an inspiration for girls. I didn’t know that I would become an inspiration for them.

I made a game that I would enjoy and, as I was a woman developing the game, I produced a game that girls and women enjoy immensely. This wasn’t my intent, though, and I only stumbled onto that realization after over a year into development.

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May IndieBox Unwrapped – Galak-Z!

Posted on May 3, 2016 by Renee Gittins

This month’s IndieBox was a particularly exciting one for me, featuring Galak-Z, a critically acclaimed, action-packed dog-fighting game with a space ship that transforms into a sword-wielding mech! How cool is that?

Better yet, the box itself features a figurine of this awesome ship that you’ll use with both your stealth and fighting skills to take down intelligent enemies. Oh, and did I mention that there are TWO OTHER GAMES IN HERE? Starr Mazer DSP F. Squadron, a rogue-like scrolling shooter and prelude to the upcoming game Starr Mazer, and Planet Diver, a fast-spaced, space-chasm diving action game.

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Overwatch Abominations – A New Glitch has Disturbing Results

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Renee Gittins

One of the joys of playing games still in development is the discovery of bugs and other glitches that have amusing results. Sometimes these even make it out of the betas and into the released games themselves, like the flying horse of Skyrim. This latest glitch is one that I hope to see continue to live on.

During the Overwatch stress test this last weekend, one of the members of my guild discovered a glitch in Overwatch that allowed you to force a texture on another character’s model. Some of the results are quite humorous while others border terrifying.

My personal favorite is Soldier 76 gracefully poised in Tracer’s new “Over the Shoulder” pose.


Isn’t he so spunky?

Of course, it’s the horrifying Mei-Winston combination that has won over hearts. Just check out that tongue!


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Tracer’s Butt and Why I’m Okay with the “Over the Shoulder” Pose

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Renee Gittins

A recent post on the Overwatch forums has sparked a controversy over how one of Overwatch‘s star characters, Tracer, is represented in the game. The thread started as a complain from a player who claimed that Tracer’s “Over the Shoulder” pose was too sexualized for the character and is in opposition to Tracer’s spunky personality. They claim this sexualization of Tracer reduces her depth as a strong female character to “another bland female sex symbol”.

As many of our readers know, I am very outspoken for proper representation and consideration for women in games. I completely agree that sexualization of Tracer’s character would be bad for her character and for Overwatch overall.

Here’s where I disagree with the complaint: I don’t think that it’s a sexual pose.

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