Tech Support: Error Unknown lets you ask people to turn it off then on again

What if tech support helpline jobs weren’t a crushingly unhappy grind for poor pay but a gateway to a world of intrigue? You can catch a glimpse of that in the Tech Support: Error Unknown free demo released today. It’s one of those games where your whole view is presented as a computer desktop–Uplikes, as the genre is known far and wide in honour of Uplink–and we play with a variety in-game applications and scripted responses to resolve customers’ issues to their satisfaction. Here we are, starting a new job…

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Dirty Bomb’s free design document is full of FPS engineering insight

Free-to-play team shooter Dirty Bomb never drew the crowds it deserved. Slightly wonky business model aside (now no longer an issue – the game is proper-free now), it was fast, satisfying and skilful stuff. Not surprising, as developers Splash Damage are as veteran as they come – they’re the crew behind the excellent Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory back in 2003, and several iterations on the formula since. They’ve got a lot to teach, and have released their original design document for the game (formerly exclusive to Kickstarter backers) free for all.…

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Priceless Play – 19 January

Before I started my PhD, I was an Inbox Zero kind of person. I used labels. Folders. Conditional filtering! These days, I might as well have a permanent out-of-office message. This isn’t to say that I never read my e-mails, but rather that they get filed into a section of my brain which I have deemed, “Later.” Within the distant confines of Later, I promise myself that when the “right time comes round for it,” I’ll remember whatever e-mail or Tweet or Instagram post I was looking for, and I’ll…

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Go for a tranquil sail in the appropriately-named Becalm

It has, as usual, been a long week, but don’t worry – Becalm is here to provide the perfect pick me up. This gentle cruise simulator doesn’t ask for anything but for you to take in the beautiful surroundings, and maybe snap a picture or two if you’d like. Even the trailer is a blessing, giving just a taste of the serenity: I’ve had Becalm on my itch.io ‘to play’ list for a while, probably since Kat Brewster called attention to it in their Priceless Play column, and I really…

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Browser-based domain price guessing game shows the web has a way with words

How much, exactly, would it cost you to be the proud owner of the domain ‘pundit.xyz’? What about ‘eloneliness.com’? If you think you’ve got a good guess, you should try out Domain Pricing, which will pit two names against one another and ask which you think is the more expensive one to get your hands on. (Bear in mind that some domain names may be not safe for work. And that they’re usually the most valuable ones.) Domain Pricing is the creation of designer Martin O’Leary, based on a tweet…

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Marshmellow Day Spa is the most adorable hot chocolate simulator you’ll see today

It is, as I have mentioned once or twice this weekend, cold. Luckily, Marshmellow Day Spa is here to warm the soul. It’s all about giving these little bundles of fluff the perfect cocoa bath to soak in, and it’s just as cute as it sounds, as you can see below: I think the holly berry decorations and plinky piano-violin-chimes music might mark this one as a Christmassy game, but time is fake and we’ve still got a whole lot of hot chocolate season left, so it’s relevant enough. I’m…

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Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement Of Curiosity episode two – flailing in a pool of dwarf pus

This is The Basement Of Curiosity, a weekly Dwarf Fortress diary chronicling Nate Crowley’s attempts to build an illegal, underground zoo in everyone’s favourite text based dwarf management game. Last time on the BoC: Expedition leader Lorbam shepherded her dwarves to the Jungle of Hides, where they spent the spring digging out a home in a lush valley. Rakust the lumberjack got his leg bruted by a tree, and Imush the craftsdwarf got extremely excited about bins. Author’s disclaimer: Once again, things get pretty weird here. Accordingly, I should remind…

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Best StarCraft 2 mods: huge RTS campaigns you can play for free

Every other Monday, Dominic gives you a reason to dust off one of your old games and dive into its mods with Modder Superior. StarCraft 2 remains an RTS esports favourite nine years from launch, but its mod scene never got the love or attention it deserved. Despite Blizzard’s support, an in-game mod browser, powerful editor and even a short-lived premium mod program, a lot flew under the radar. While some mods and standalone missions remain popular in the StarCraft 2 Arcade, we’re going to be diving deep into the…

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Synthetik: Arena is a free condensed take on an intense roguelike shooter

Narrowly missing my games-of-the-year shortlist, Synthetik: Legion Rising was one of my more pleasant surprises of 2018. A sci-fi roguelike shooter with an unusual focus on semi-realistic weapon handling. A bit like Nuclear Throne by way of Vanquish, it’s loud, fast, hard and great in co-op. Now you can try it free, as developers FlowFire Games have intriguingly made their wave-survival expansion – Synthetik: Arena – free and standalone. The dungeons may be gone, but the frantic combat and fumbling to reload mid-firefight are unchanged. Grab it here on Steam,…

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Disjunction is like a stealthier, cyberpunkier Hotline Miami

I like a good sneak and bop. Especially when that sneaking is cyberpunk-flavoured, and people shout at me if my bopping turns to killing. Disjunction is an upcoming “cyberpunk stealth action RPG” where precisely that happened in its free alpha demo. I was lured in by the trailer below, which asks “what if Hotline Miami had abilities” and answers with “slightly more tactical murders”. It’s a shame there’s no holographic mice in the demo (0:38). The demo could definitely do with more holographic mice. I still had fun, mind. Neither…

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