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This week in the news; No Man's Sky price and release, Tim Sweeney against Microsoft's UWP initiative, Steam makes changes to bundles and security, Gita Jackson explains how Dwarf Fortress helped her overcome her disinterest in Tolkien-esque fantasy, Phil Spencer clarifies console upgrade comments, many pirates are buying Stardew Valley, Bear simulator dev calls it quits, Total War Warhammer Delayed, The Division details free and paid expansions, Darkest Dungeon tackles mental illness in the right ways, Mass Effect Andromeda editor leaves Bioware and industry, Quantum Break's live action scenes aren't on disk/download, Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover out June 24, flawed morality and historical accuracy of Assassins Creed, Uncharted 4 delayed, Fable Legends cancelled and Lionhead closure proposed, the soundtracks of Baldurs Gate and Streets of Rage 2, and more.




Microsoft wants to monopolise games development on PC. We must fight it




The Founder of Epic Tim Sweeney talks about Microsoft's UWP initiative.


Microsoft is looking to dominate the games industry ecosystem with its aggressive new UWP initiative. Developers must oppose this, or else cede control of their titles

With its new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative, Microsoft has built a closed platform-within-a-platform into Windows 10, as the first apparent step towards locking down the consumer PC ecosystem and monopolising app distribution and commerce.


In my view, this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made. While the company has been convicted of violating antitrust law in the past, its wrongful actions were limited to fights with specific competitors and contracts with certain PC manufacturers.


This isn’t like that. Here, Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry – including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games.


Microsoft's response was added to the article




How to steal money from a game dev



Stolen hacked games released on the iOS


'No Man's Sky' finally takes off on June 21st for $60




No Man's Sky, the stylish space-exploration game that's roughly as big as the actual universe, will reach PlayStation 4 and PC on June 21st (June 24th in the UK), and pre-orders are live today. It even gets a physical Blu-ray edition on PS4. No Man's Sky is an independent title built by a team of 10 or so developers at Hello Games -- but it's absolutely massive, innovative and highly anticipated, which are a few reasons it'll cost a full $60 (£40 on PC and £50 on PS4). There's also a $150 "Explorer's Edition" courtesy of iam8bit, along with a slew of other game-related goodies.


An interview can be found here.


A good video about the game's price.


A thread about this was created here


A Surprising Number of People Feel Bad For Pirating Stardew Valley





Uncharted 4 Delayed Again




The new release date is May 10.


Dark Souls 3: Miyazaki explains the difference between “difficult” and “unreasonable”




“Dark Souls 2 was of course built and supervised by other people at From Software, and so it matched their preference,” he explains. “So, in terms of the world design, and other elements, my preference is to return to something structurally a little more like the first game, and Bloodborne, with the world a little more connected.”


Rumour busted: Alan Wake's Return trademark is not for a new game




Sam Lake explained that the trademark was not for a new game, but for a live action segment that would appear in Quantum Break.


Mass Effect Andromeda pegged for early 2017 launch, says EA CFO




Mass Effect Andromeda is set to release in early 2017.


A thread about this was created here


Oculus founder: Rift will come to Mac if Apple "ever release a good computer"




Dean Hall says that Apple just doesn't make the kind of hardware needed to run the Oculus Rift.


Quantum Break's Live-Action Footage Isn't on the Disc




The video game sections of the game will come with the disk/PC download but the live action segments will need to be streamed, Xbox owners can download the videos to their console but PC owners can't because on the PC the videos can run up to 4K in size.


...What the hell?


Take a look at Mirror's Edge Catalyst's movement and combat in new videos




A movement and combat video have been released.


Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Producer Passes Away From Cancer




For the second news update I did I shared a fundraiser for Michael Forgey who was fighting a rare form of cancer, he passed away on March 3rd.


Total War: Warhammer Release Date Delayed




Total War Warhammer was set to release on April 28, the date has been pushed back to May 24.


Successful $100,000 Kickstarter Dev Calls It Quits Due To Drama




In 2014 nearly 4,000 backers pledged $100,000 for a silly game about being a bear. Yesterday, despite seemingly happy backers and 78 percent positive reviews on Steam, Bear Simulator’s developer says updating the game any further is “a lost cause.”




Fable Legends Cancelled, Lionhead Closure Proposed




Microsoft has not yet outright confirmed the studio will close and is instead saying it is "in discussions" with the employees. This is likely because UK law requires employers to create a consultancy period of at least 30 days. During this, measures to avoid redundancies are to be explored. The period also gives those affected some time to search for new jobs.



A thread about this was created here


Project Scissors Spiritual Clock Tower Sequel Set to Release in Spring




A recent Kickstarter update has shown a short trailer and announced that the game would be released in the Spring.


10 Second Ninja X announced for summer, HD version of base game plus loads of new stuff



Further Steam security changes detailed




In November, Valve introduced a system of trade holds to limit miscreants' ability to access others' Steam accounts and trade skins away. The three-day hold was intended to let the rightful owner realise something was up and step in to stop it, because hat theft isn't a sporadic problem—Valve reports that over 77,000 accounts get cleaned out each month. Now Gabe Corp. is strengthening protection by extending trade holds and ending its practice of replacing lost items.


Steam bundle prices will now drop based on how many of the games in them you own




That's a great change and about time it was added.


Think Dark Souls, But with Samurai



Overwatch Release Date Leaked Through Advert - Report




An advert that briefly appeared on IGN showed that Overwatch will be launching on May 24, and the beta will start on May 3.


Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear will be out at the end of the month




Beamdog said late last year that it would be out in early 2016, and it has now nailed that down to March 31—less than a month away.


Nintendo fends off Wii Remote patent suit appeal




Appeals Court has ruled in Nintendo's favor over a patent infringement case.


WW2 Sniper Elite 4 Coming This Year to Xbox One and PS4 With 1080p Graphics



The Division getting regular free content updates in addition to paid expansions



The Division's first two expansions are exclusive to Xbox One for a month




The first two paid expansions will be exclusive to the Xbox One for one month. The final paid expansion Last Stand and the two free updates Incursion and Conflict will be available at the same time for everyone.


The Division doesn't let PS4 & Xbox One players tweak lighting to improve framerate after all




Last month an Ubisoft dev told a Youtube channel that console players could improve framerates by disabling certain lighting effects, this setting does not seem to have made it to the final product. Check the article for more information.


Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover confirmed for the west



It wasn't long ago I thought I might have to get a PS4 for the new Valkyria Chronicles and a Wii U for this, but my interest in both has definitely been killed.


Rocket League Passes Major Milestone on Xbox One




Metal Gear Solid Fan Remake Shuts Down for Reasons Unknown


The fan made Unreal Engine 4 remake of Metal Gear Solid has been shut down.


Feds allege fraud by bank, agency who made $75 million loan to 38 Studios




The SEC says the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and Wells Fargo knew 38 Studios needed $75 million, not the $50 million it received, to complete "Project Copernicus," the code name for an MMO based on the Amalur franchise. Thus bond investors were unaware that the studio would still face a shortfall, jeopardizing the studio and its ability to repay the loan. The SEC alleges that the investors were acting on fraudulent information given to them by the RIEDC and Wells Fargo.


Mass Effect: Andromeda editor leaves BioWare — and games industry





Harris was first contracted by the studio in 2012, when she worked on The Old Republic. Prior to that, she edited projects for Nintendo and Microsoft and, after BioWare, ArenaNet. She later returned to the studio for 2014's Dragon Age Inquisition and was editing Andromeda's dialogue and storyline prior to her announcement.Harris was first contracted by the studio in 2012, when she worked on The Old Republic. Prior to that, she edited projects for Nintendo and Microsoft and, after BioWare, ArenaNet. She later returned to the studio for 2014's Dragon Age Inquisition and was editing Andromeda's dialogue and storyline prior to her announcement.


GDC recently added a 2014 presentation from her about why you need editors



Fire Emblem Fates European Release Date Finally Revealed




Fire Emblem Fates will launch in Europe May 20th. Revelation was not given a date but it will be out in the US on the 10th. Good to see it coming out only a few months after the US date, I'm almost done with Conquest (which seems to be preferred over Birthright by old FE fans from what I've seen) and they have definitely fixed a lot of the major problems that Fire Emblem Awakening had.


The Sinking City is a promising-looking open-world investigation Lovecraftian game




Frogwares is working on an open world investigation game with Lovecraftian themes. Check the article for more screenshots and information.


Xbox Boss Clarifies Console Hardware Upgrade Comments


"Am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces of my console? That's not our plan," he said. "There is something special about what happens with a console. You buy an applicance-like device; you plug it into your TV; it works when you plug it in. It's not like I'm going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out."


"What I'm saying is as hardware innovations happen we want to be able to embrace those in the console space," he said. "And make those available and maybe not have to wait seven or eight years for things to happen. But right now, we're not announcing hardware. I'm happy with the console we have and the platform we built on top of that console and the constant innovation and the games that are there. But as a longer-term vision statement I wanted to make sure people understood what we're doing I think is good for the console space in addition to being good for the PC space."


Day of the Tentacle Remastered PC Release Date Confirmed




The remastered version of Day of the Tentacle will launch on March 22, according to GOG.


In esports news


Team Secret The Only Winner At The DOTA 2 Shanghai Major




With a decisive 3-1 victory over Team Liquid on Sunday morning, Team Secret finally brought the troubled DOTA 2 Shanghai Major to a mostly-satisfying close. In a tournament where nothing had gone as expected, it was only fitting that two teams that entered as complete dark-horses vied for the $1.1 million grand prize while the all of the early favorites watched from the cheap seats.


In crowdfunding news


Rock Band 4 for PC + Rock Band Network




Harmonix needs to raise 1.5 million on Fig to fund a PC version of Rock Band 4.


Posthuman: Sanctuary




A Kickstarter project for a game described as, "A post-apocalyptic game of survival & leadership that's part rogue-lite, part interactive fiction."


A thread about this was created here


Critical Hits: An Indie Gaming Anthology




A collection of original essays from independent journalists and developers. People involved include Cara Ellison who won the The New York Videogame Critics Circle first Games Journalism Award for her Embed With series and Austin Walker who you may know from GiantBomb or from his past work.


A thread about this was created here


Legion TD 2




The Legion TD mod is becoming a standalone, free-to-play, game for Steam.


A thread about this was created here


Other content I found interesting this week


Readers tear into the flawed morality of the Assassin’s Creed




To be fair, the historical falsification is usually a Templar tactic (or is portrayed as such). As to the greater morality, I think the only games to really get into that was AC2, which included Codexes from Altair (star of the original game) where he reflected on why the Creed alone didn’t seem to change anything or make anything better for the people the Brotherhood tries to save. All Altair manages to conclude is that, while education and tolerance is well and good, evil people ought to die, which he admits is no conclusion at all.


What strikes me more than anything—and I say this as an AC fan—is just how staggeringly incompetent the Assassins must be to constantly be on the verge of losing the war against the Templars for 900 straight years. You guys need to start doing something different, because apparently tactics haven’t changed since Altair decided that the Assassin’s had to go underground in the year 1200.


The Ex-‘Halo’ and 'Destiny’ Devs at Highwire Games Know Virtual Reality is the Future (forgot this last week)




And that’s why you read about so many layoffs at studios?


JAIME: Oh, yeah. They plan—the layoff is part of the budget. I mean, it happens before the game even is out the door. So they know it’s coming, they just don’t tell their employees until the game is in the box. And to me, that’s kind of treating people like cogs, like a resource. It’s not respecting them as professionals. If you bring somebody in and say, look, we’re not going to be able to pay you after the project ships, so you should be reaching out [to find future projects], but please do stay and help us ship the game. Ninety-five percent of the industry would do the right thing and stay until the game is shipped. And then they’d already have something lined up.






Pop culture often leads to people discussing social issues more freely, providing a platform for open dialogue on topics that are difficult for us to bring up in everyday conversation. We see a film or play a game featuring a mentally ill character, and when we discuss the film, we get on to the topic of mental health by proxy. Unfortunately, depictions mental health issues in the media are often less than stellar, often failing to take the empathetic, careful approach necessary when confronting these highly complicated issues.


Enter Darkest Dungeon, the long awaited roguelike RPG, showing other games exactly how it should be done. The concept is simple enough. You send a party of four heroes into a dungeon dripping in Lovecraftian horror influence, and try to keep them alive. What sets this apart from most games, is its brilliant handling of stress, and the impact it has upon mental health.


History Respawned: Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam



Historian discusses historical accuracy and the representation of Islam.


The OntoCast — The Sounds Of Baldur’s Gate




Discussion about what made the soundtrack of Baldurs Gate, com­posed by Michael Hoenig, so special.


Layers Of Fear aims for arty horror, but its strength is simple scares




The artist himself is the biggest problem with the story. He is devoid of personality in a way that suggests he is meant to fit into one of several horror-protagonist archetypes: the fallen everyman, the chillingly vague cipher, or maybe the weakling pushed around by circumstances. In execution, though, he’s just a generic horror “bad man”—he drinks too much, he’s unkind to his family, he obsesses over his work, etc. We learn more about him over the course of the game, but we never get any information that changes or recontextualizes the broad strokes we get in the first hour or so. As a character study, Layers Of Fear is a portrait that gets more detailed but never more meaningful.


Guest Column: Digging a Little Deeper: Dwarf Fortress, Fantasy Tropes, and World Building




Gita Jackson explains how Dwarf Fortress allowing you to create your own stories helped her overcome her disinterest in Tolkien style fantasy.


Have you ever noticed how much of Fantasy, as a genre, is about reinstating a monarchy? Generally speaking, the arc of a fantasy plot is this: change is coming, change is bad, and we must stop all change. Most fantasy is rooted in a telephone game version of Arthurian legend, which posits that England (or a metaphorical England) is still waiting for its one true king to return, often twisting that old story only with a dash of Tolkien’s dwarves and elves and orcs.


J. R. R. Tolkien is, for good or for ill, the architect of most modern fantasy. Unfortunately, what modern fantasy seems to have taken from Tolkien is not his unlimited imagination, but his tendency to dump lore in a solid chunk right into the middle of the chapter. It is so disappointing to see the lore take precedence over the people that live in that world. Towns aren’t towns in fantasy--they’re weigh stations, nondescript inns, places to pause as you hear another part of an ancient prophecy. So many fantasy books and movies dedicate time to developing original languages and maps, but spend little energy developing their characters or plot structure, instead choosing to ape The Lord of the Rings (and often ending up only with cardboard-cut out facsimiles).


An Expert Agrees: The ‘Streets of Rage 2’ Soundtrack Still Sounds Amazing Today




1992's Streets of Rage 2 isn't simply one of the best Mega Drive games of all time – it also had, has, one of the greatest soundtracks of the 16bit console era. SEGA's side-scrolling fighter, the sequel to the company's original co-operative brawler of a year earlier, was largely accompanied by the music of Yuzo Koshiro. Twenty-five at the time of the game's release, Koshiro's work had been heard on preceding titles like action-platformer ActRaiser on the SNES, the Game Gear-specific version of Shinobi, and the first Streets of Rage. But SoR2 was something else.


I Was Homeless And Video Games Saved My Life


It’s getting dark. The few people left on the street are either actively ignoring you, or warily staring at you, half expecting you to jump up and mug them. You’re hungry, you’re tired, your legs are numb from sitting on the concrete. The six dollars in your pocket will get you something from McDonalds, but you were hoping to save it until you could find a few extra dollars for a hostel for the night. You sigh, and look down at your DS – battery low. Only a few more hours and then you’ll have to face reality again.


A Year On, the Accidental Politics of ‘Battlefield Hardline’ Remain Troubling




But an apolitical game is still a political game – if you choose to shield your story from all possible lines of questioning, that decision still comes from somewhere; and when so many of your peers are doing the same thing, your game, however apolitical, feeds back into a trend. It becomes part of a politics. March 2015's Battlefield Hardline is the great example of a game trying hard to say nothing and be irrelevant, but in that process becoming not just highly political but politically dubious.


"Defeat enemies and search their bodies for evidence," advises Hardline's loading screen. "We had to make sure the bad guys felt like bad guys so the player isn't as emotionally conflicted about the gameplay," said writer Rob Auten, explaining that dialogue written to give enemies more depth was eventually cut from the game. Nakedly, Battlefield Hardline encourages you to shoot criminals and ask question later, or perhaps not at all. You are given a police badge and the ability to arrest rather than kill, but almost all the game's levels degenerate into a gun fight – Hardline is easier when played as a war shooter, and the criminals are characterised as so dangerous, so bereft of nuance or humanity, that killing them outright becomes the sensible option.


‘Firewatch’ Makes You the Romanceable Companion




Part of the beauty and lasting impact of Firewatch is in the way it flips the script on video game love stories and the way we’ve been taught to play them. Instead of agency and persistence, the romance, such as it is, is defined by acquiescence and compliance. When you play as Henry in Firewatch, you are Delilah’s romanceable companion.


This is What a Video Game Museum Should Look Like




A look at Game On, an exhibition on video game history.


The Division Promotional Collapse


An amusing promotional site that allows you to spread the virus in your hometown.

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