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This week in the news; Microsoft ends 360 production, PSN getting two factor authentication, too much "game" being taught at game schools, Total War Warhammer adds Bretonnia to skirmish and multiplayer, Double Fine and Lucasarts audio legend Jory Prum dies at 41, Pewdiepie talks about how horrible he used to be, Dontnod's dark turn from Life Is Strange to Vampyr, Danny O'Dwyer talks to Blizzard about the fall of Titan and creation of Overwatch in a three part series, Outlast 2 gameplay, Don Daglow calling bullshit on core and casual labels, Matt Lees looks at how Bloodborne is built to support its narrative, John Romero and Adrian Carmack's new FPS, what a video game producer does, and more.

 

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Why Free Money Suddenly Showed Up In Some People's Steam Accounts

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Hours later, however, people began reporting that they’d received emails from Valve confirming that, yes, Valve was actually pulling the strings on this one. In short, Valve failed to apply a loyalty discount to Steam’s Dark Souls III + Steam Controller bundle for some eligible users, so they decided to retroactively make up the difference.

 

PlayStation Network getting two-factor authentication, Sony confirms

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Sony is making a long-awaited effort to shore up security on the PlayStation Network — the company is planning to add two-factor authentication to the service, Sony confirmed to Polygon today.

 

Microsoft Ends Xbox 360 Production

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“Xbox 360 means a lot to everyone in Microsoft,” Spencer wrote. “And while we’ve had an amazing run, the realities of manufacturing a product over a decade old are starting to creep up on us. Which is why we have made the decision to stop manufacturing new Xbox 360 consoles. We will continue to sell existing inventory of Xbox 360 consoles, with availability varying by country.”

 

Double Fine, LucasArts audio legend Jory Prum dies, aged just 41

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Prum's name may not be immediately familiar, but his work will be. His career saw him record voice over, music and orchestral scores for more than 100 games, including LucasArts' Knights of the Old Republic, Double Fine's Broken Age and Telltale's The Walking Dead.

 

John Romero and Adrian Carmack team up for another teaser

 

John Romero and Adrian Carmack's new FPS Blackroom is set in a violent world of holographs

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John Romero and Adrian Carmack — best known for their work on the revolutionary 1993 first-person shooting game Doom — today revealed a new FPS project, called Blackroom.

The onetime co-founders of id Software have teamed up to create a game that is set in a holographic world gone wrong. In a release from the game's development house Night Work Games, Blackroom was described as offering a ten-hour single player campaign as well as six multiplayer maps.

 

A thread about this was created here.

 

Final Fantasy 15 Game Informer Coverage

 

An Inside Look At Modernizing The Art Of Final Fantasy

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With our trip to Square Enix in Tokyo for our extensive cover story on Final Fantasy XV, we were lucky enough to speak with several long-time developers that have worked on the beloved series. Yusuke Naora has been an artist on the team since Final Fantasy VI, going on to contribute background art for things like Midgar and the Northern Crater in Final Fantasy VII.

 

Our Final Fantasy 15 thread can be found here.

 

God Eater: Resurrection launches June 28, God Eater 2: Rage Burst launches August 30 in the west

 

Total War: Warhammer adds Bretonnia as a multiplayer faction

 

Everspace trailer teases "imminent" alpha

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As evidenced by its last trailer, Everspace is looking gorgeous. Described by Rockfish as a “3D space shooter with rogue-like elements and non-linear storytelling”, the structure seems similar in some ways to FTL. You have to get to the end of a sector without exploding as the game throws varying challenges at your ship.

 

Sometimes Always Monsters is the sequel to Always Sometimes Monsters

 

The King of Fighters 14 comes to PS4 in August

 

Homefront: The Revolution opening cinematic reveals a fallen America

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“America Has Fallen” is the non-too-subtle title of Homefront: The Revolution's opening cinematic, and that's pretty much exactly what's happened. But the Korean People's Army didn't kick down your door on its way to kicking your ass. No, as it turns out, you invited them in.

I really hope this game is satirical, playing a plot like this straight would be really embarrassing. What is it with movies and games where America fails in every way or causes the apocalypse and everyone bands together to bring it back? This is probably why I love Bastion so much.

 

Fragments of Him bringing the waterworks to PC in May

 

Go West! JRPG I Am Setsuna Gets July Release Date

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Released in Japan back in February on PS4 and PSVita, I Am Setsuna will head to PC via Steam on July 19th. You’ll have the chance to get yourself some of this

 

THE LION’S SONG AIMS TO DEPICT THE LONELINESS OF HISTORY’S GREATEST MINDS

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Originally created as a short title for a 2014 Ludum Dare game jam, old-timey narrative adventure game The Lion’s Song is now getting a full release. According to a new trailer for the game, four episodes are planned in total, expanding it beyond the “finely honed short story” of the original and into an extended interrogation of academic life in fin-de-siecle Austria.

 

Uncharted 4 is bringing back Plunder Mode

 

Nioh Demo Out Now, Complete It to Unlock Special Item for Full Game

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Nioh is an upcoming action game from Ninja Gaiden developer Team Ninja, and looks to be heavily inspired by Onimusha and Dark Souls. A demo for it is available now on PlayStation Network in Europe.

PS4 Exclusive Nioh Lets You Choose to Improve Frame Rate or Resolution

 

Outlast 2 is creepy, disjointed, provocative and Catholic

A thread about this was created here.

 

PC-Exclusive Divinity: Original Sin 2's Multiplayer Is Not What I Expected

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The heroes of Divinity: Original Sin II have no shortage of captivating powers. It's a deep, complex RPG whose systems interact in myriad ways throughout its single-player campaign. So it comes as a surprise that its Arena mode, a turn-based multiplayer offering, finds order in all of the fantastical chaos, despite the added complication of another human player.

 

ALL WALLS MUST FALL TO EXPLORE THE CULTURAL DIVISION OF COLD WAR-ERA BERLIN

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For Hassal and Ashdown, going independent was a risk, but one they felt they had to take. Both veterans of triple-A development, they’ve been involved with games such as Spec Ops: The Line (2012) and the yet-to-be-released Dead Island 2. “When you spent years on a game and pour your heart and soul into it, you develop a real relationship with it,” Hassal said, referring to a project as a “shared child” of a developer and their team. “So if then someone else with the power to do so comes along and aborts it, even if from a purely objective and business oriented point of view it makes sense, for the people developing the game it is soul crushing really.” Having this happen more than once, they decided to take a different gamble, forming their own studio.g/?do=edit

 

Opening 18 Minutes of Mirror's Edge Catalyst

Mirror's Edge Catalyst delayed again, now launching in June

 

See Hitman Episode 2's Gorgeous But Deadly Setting in Launch Trailer

 

Children of Zodiarcs Gameplay - A Tactical RPG With Dice Rolls - PAX East 2016

 

Shadow Warrior 2 Gameplay

 

Friday the 13th: The Game gets new map based on iconic Jason hunting ground

 

The Banner Saga 3 Discussed, Dev Says Universe Is "Very Fertile Ground" for Storytelling

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If you enjoyed The Banner Saga and its recently released sequel, you may be happy to learn today that developers at Stoic are hoping to grow the series in the future. Speaking today at a PAX East panel, Stoic's Arnie Jorgensen teased that the company "would like to flesh [the story] out for a long time."He added:

"The longer we get to do this, the more of the world we'll see."

 

Star Ocean Dev's Exist Archive Coming to PS4 and Vita in North America This Year

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Star Ocean developer Tri-Ace's 2D dungeon crawler Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky will make its way to North America this October. The game will be published by Aksys Games and will be available on the PlayStation 4 and Vita.

 

Persona 5 website teases a May 5 reveal for ... something

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The next entry in Atlus' high school-based role-playing series, Persona 5, is still without a solid release date, but a new countdown timer on the game's official website may have some answers. The website is stamped with the phrase "Take your heart," and a timer that's ticking away to May 5, aka 5/05.

 

Breached gameplay trailer teases some sort of strange sci-fi mystery

 

Next Five Nights at Freddy's Game Teased

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Five Nights at Freddy's creator Scott Cawthon has updated his website with a cryptic teaser for what appears to be the next game in the series of possibly a spinoff.

 

FROM LIFE IS STRANGE TO VAMPYR: DONTNOD'S DARK TURN

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In theory, Life is Strange shouldn't have been a success. The episodic game follows high school student Max and her best friend Chloe as they hunt for a missing girl and tackle both the normal and not-so-normal problems of high school. Although the game has a sci-fi twist to its drama, it's in large part a contemporary study of typical teen problems.

"We had a lot of themes in this game that were supposed to not be 'sellable,'" says Oskar Guilbert. "Female protagonists, things like your social network going adrift, [things] like drugs — many themes that are not 'supposed' to be in video games.

"In the past, Dontnod has spoken about pressure from potential publishers to change its games — specifically, to ditch female leads for men. Other changes to the game's themes and characters were not always as direct, Guilbert says, but "even if it was not fully clear, what we understood within the lines was that it could be a problem." With Square Enix, Guilbert says, there was no pressure to change the original vision.

 

The Walking Dead Game's Season 3 Details Teased, Returning Character Confirmed

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Kirkman also discussed Season 2's protagonist, Clementine, who'll be returning in some form in season three. With the series now taking place closer to when the current comic series is, we can expect to see a Clementine who's aged a few years since the second season.

 

Cliff Bleszinski Talks Moving on from Gears of War and Starting Fresh with Lawbreakers

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Q: It seems like Lawbreakers in a lot of ways is the anti-Gears. It's much faster. It's first-person. It focuses on unique classes. I was wondering if you could comment on the differences between the two and possibly explain what you enjoy about Lawbreakers now that you've had the freedom to do something totally new?

A: I think about Gears and it is a little bittersweet because I knew where I wanted to take the franchise, and I think that it's in good hands with Rod and everybody at The Coalition. Watching the new [Gears of War 4] trailer … I got a little misty. It was really powerful for me, but creating another whole new world is also very important to me.

Lawbreakers Is Everything Gears of War Isn't

 

A thread about this was made here.

 

Mafia 3 Will Have "Ton" of Great Songs, Dev Says

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Some of Mafia III's trailers have included famous songs from the '60s like "All Along the Watchtower" and "House of the Rising Sun." Those won't be the only popular songs featured in the game.

 

THERE’S AN UPCOMING GAME ABOUT EXPLORING A DYSTOPIAN CITY AS A CAT

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Though the creators haven’t said much about the setting (“dystopian city”) or the time period (“indefinite”), early art shows robots lounging around the cramped hallways and a small flashing harness on the back of the cat. HK blends the legendary ominous aesthetic of the Kowloon Walled City with characters that seem more in line with the cute dog-bot that romped through the Recore trailer last year, complete with blinking blue eyes. In a piece of artwork released as a thank you to early supporters, one android reaches out tentatively to pet our furry friend. The robots scattered around the concept art don’t appear ominous at all—they actually seem pretty nice.

 

Supergiant's Pyre Focuses on Companionship and a Little Bit of Sports

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I played 30 minutes of Pyre, and here is my answer: Pyre is an exercise in teamwork and prioritization. It's a game about finding your purpose in the world by allowing others to help you. It's a strategy game where you are given ample opportunities to learn about the land you're traveling the people you are traveling with. It's also a sports game.

Opening 25 Minutes of Pyre Gameplay


A thread about this was made here.

 

Stealthy Seven Sneaks Out First Trailer

A thread about this was created here.

 

Tales of Berseria Western Release

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We’ve been going in details about the battle system in Tales of Berseria. After learning about the new way to chain attacks and combos, the Break Soul feature and the Soul Gauge system, it’s now time to unveil the Switch Blast! Don’t forget: Tales of Berseria is out early 2017 on PS4 and PC!

 

Ruiner is a neon-bright swords and guns game that will brook no blunders

 

CLIQUE IS A GAME ABOUT FACING PREJUDICE

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When he was growing up, Daniel Wilkins didn't go out much. He spent a lot of time at home, indoors and playing video games.

For a budding game developer, that's not such an unusual story. There are plenty of origin tales in gaming about young enthusiasts secluding themselves away from suburban sunshine and sports teams, to battle aliens and best beasties.

But Wilkins had other reasons to stay indoors.

Wilkins grew up in various Detroit neighborhoods, which he describes as being beset by lack of opportunity, poverty and crime. Now he — along with his creative partner and friend Neil Jones — are writing a game about their experiences.

They have a Kickstarter here but they plan to move ahead whether it reaches the goal or not.

 

Shadow Complex Remastered Launches May 3 on PS4

 

Looks Like The New Call Of Duty Is Called 'Infinite Warfare'

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Discovered via Reddit and confirmed via in-house PlayStation 4s, the trending section of the PlayStation Store features a listing for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

 

Destiny players reckon they've discovered the release date for the game's next big expansion

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Curious Destiny fans have spotted a clue that points to a possible 20th September release date for the game's next big expansion.

 

Disastrous New Division Exploit Lets Players Do Unlimited Damage

A patch has now fixed this and other glitches.

 

Doom on PC Will Unlock Framerate and Support Advanced Settings, See Them Here

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Id Software CTO Robert Duffy addressed the feedback and confirmed that the framerate on PC will not be capped at launch. He talked about how PC gaming "is in [Id's] DNA," and how the company plans to support the PC version with advanced settings.

 

Borderlands 3 Teased, Might Not Be Called That

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Today during a panel at PAX East, Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford teased some new details about the next Borderlands game. He started off by confirming that, "Obviously, there is going to be another Borderlands." He also warned against getting too attached to that name, as he added, "We don't even know if we're going to call it that."

 

Rocket League's Hoops Mode opens the Dunk House for business next week

 

Next Rainbow Six Siege Operation Adds These Two Classes

 

Witcher 3 Adding New Gwent Cards and More

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The upcoming Witcher 3: Wild Hunt expansion Blood and Wine will also add new things to the in-game card game Gwent, CD Projekt Red announced today at PAX East.

 

Blizzard Is Nerfing A Bunch Of Hearthstone Cards

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Druid combos will be a little less powerful in Hearthstone pretty soon, as Blizzard prepares to nerf a number of classic cards alongside the newest expansion.

 

How to get 13 free Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods packs starting tomorrow

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Tomorrow marks the launch of Hearthstone's third full expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, and Blizzard is celebrating by giving players a lot of card packs for free. In total, you'll be able to get 13 packs with just a little bit of effort. Here's how it works.

 

Kerbal Space Program 1.1 update brings new interface and performance upgrades

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Kerbal Space Program has just received a 'Turbo Charged' 1.1 update, and as the name implies, it speeds the game up. Thanks to an update to Unity 5, the spaceship building sim will experience "a large boost in performance", and modding will be much more flexible, too.

 

Dota 2 gameplay update changes Ranked All Pick, adds new Scan function

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Dota 2 is about to undergo significant changes in the form of the 6.87 gameplay update revealed by Valve earlier today. Foremost among them is a change to Ranked All Pick that incorporates the addition of a 15-second “voting phase” which will take place ahead of the picking phase. Each player will vote for a different hero, half of whom will be selected at random and banned.

 

Why It Took Two Years To Finish Making DLC For A Rambo Game Nobody Liked

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“Well as you can imagine we never planned to release the DLC two years after the release of the main game,” said Reef representative Jaspreet Marwaha in an email.

 

Sega will add modding support to Mega Drive games on Steam

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Sega Europe has laid out plans to release a new hub for emulated Mega Drive games on Steam next week that includes a number of optional enhancements -- including support for game modding and mod-sharing via Steam Workshop.

 

Rust's Controversial Random Gender Update Has Led To More Players

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A couple weeks ago, survival hit Rust added playable women. This is, however, Rust we’re talking about, so players don’t get to choose whether they’re a dude or a lady. Controversy ensued. People threatened to stop playing. Some said Rust had dug its own grave. Turns out, the game’s player count has actually gone up.

 

Smite streamer leaves Hi-Rez after controversial comments about suicide

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At Hi-Rez, we care about our community deeply and we take topics like suicide, depression and mental illness not lightly. All our employees are free in their opinions, but when people don't respect the values we stand for as a company, we treat it seriously.

If any good comes from this episode, we hope it shines a light on mental illness issues, and the need for broader education, support and open conversation about how these devastating illnesses are perceived and discussed in our society. All of us have important people in our lives that have been touched by mental illness. How we talk about these diseases is important.

 

Report: Platinum Games president Tatsuya Minami has stepped down

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Platinum Games president and CEO, Tatsuya Minami, has reportedly resigned, and is set to be succeeded by the studio’s chief administrator, Kenichi Sato.

 

The Contentious Debate Over Whether To Make Hyper Light Drifter Easier

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Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful, mysterious, and hard as hell. To some, that difficulty is central to its design. To others, it’s an obstacle preventing them from enjoying its other parts. Since release, the developers have tried to patch the game to appease both audiences, but it’s been a challenge.

This seems like a debate that could be solved by adding an easy mode, or an option to toggle easier features on and off to create the experience that you want to have with the game. These don't sound like the kind of changes you would have to make to Dark Souls to make that game easier that I posted about in the news update two weeks ago, it sounds like we have a very simple solution for this game.

 

Eve: Valkyrie Offers Cross-Play Between Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive

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Eve: Valkyrie released on Oculus Rift in March, and it launches on PlayStation VR and HTC Vive this year. And now, according to a report from Polygon, you'll be able to play against every other player regardless of the headset you or they own.

 

Why PlayStation VR may be the best platform for Eve: Valkyrie

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The PlayStation VR version of the game is an impressive achievement. Valkyrie is a graphically intensive game, and framerate has to be rock-solid for a comfortable VR experience. While it's clear the game doesn't look quite as good on the PlayStation 4 as it does on a high-end gaming PC, you're comparing a console that is sold for $350 with hardware that's around $950 for a minimum-spec Oculus Rift system.

 

Stop spraying me with water, I like Fated: The Silent Oath just fine

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Fated: The Silent Oath was born in Canada long before VR became a commercial reality. With some financial backing from the Canadian government, Fated's creators have spent the last two years trying to figure out how VR games want to be made. They chose a cartoonish art style, for example, because the more realistic characters looked, the less convincing they were to players. They focused on narrative and storytelling, rather than pure gameplay, because they believe that those capture the budding technology's immersion best.

And it works. I spent 10 minutes or so inside the Fated's Viking world, and in terms of gameplay, the only thing I did was nudge a horse left and right with novelty reigns. That, I imagine, would've exactly as boring as it sounds, if I wasn't able to look behind me to watch conversations unfold. Without a VR headset, I would have lost interest long before the giant showed up in the valley and started terrorizing my caravan.

 

Watch medieval multiplayer VR combat in Valiant's early access trailer

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More details can be found in this reddit post, which covers how the 'Charge' mode shown in the trailer works. It invites a comparison with Mount and Blade in more ways than the obvious one, with tactics and teamwork taking their place alongside individual skill.

 

VR hardware sales predicted to soar past $2 billion by end of year

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There's been an inordinate amount of attention placed on VR this year, and that's due in large part to the much anticipated releases of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. While neither outfit has revealed specific sales figures, market research firm IDC reckons that as a whole, VR hardware "will skyrocket in 2016."

 

Tekken x Street Fighter No Longer in Active Development

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Tekken X Street Fighter is no longer in active development, Bandai Namco has revealed. Speaking in an interview with GameSpot, Tekken game director Katsuhiro Harada indicated that releasing the crossover fighting game now could fracture the audiences of both franchises.

 

NIS America and Atlus sever longtime publishing ties

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Atlus and NIS America's publishing and distribution deal ended under two weeks ago, NIS America managing director Takuro Yamashita told MCVUK. As for why, Yamashita pointed fingers at Sega, which recently finalized its acquisition of Atlus. Sega of America will now handle publishing of all Atlus titles going forward in North America. European distribution of Atlus games, however, is a different story.

"Atlus became very picky about selecting the European publishing partner after it was bought by Sega," Yamashita said. "It always cherry-picked its [European] publishing partner based on who offered the highest minimum guarantee on a title by title basis. I noticed that it was very difficult for NIS America to establish an equal partnership with Atlus."

 

SNK Playmore is now just 'SNK'

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SNK Playmore is simplifying its logo, the company announced today, dropping the "Playmore" and returning to developer-publisher's SNK roots. The company, which is behind the Neo Geo, Metal Slug, Fatal Fury and King of Fighters brands, calls the change part of "SNK's revival."

 

Assassin's Creed creator settles his lawsuit against Ubisoft

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Assassin's Creed creator Patrice Desilets' history with Ubisoft hasn't been entirely smooth and happy. In 2010, he left Ubisoft Montreal “to take a creative break from the industry,” as Ubi told GameInformer, and when he returned it was not to the warm embrace of his former employer but rather to THQ. When THQ collapsed, Ubisoft bought out its Montreal studio—Désilets included—and acquired control of 1666 Amsterdam, the project he was working on the time. Then it fired him.

 

In esports news

 

Match-Fixing Report Shows How Gambling Has Ruined Korean StarCraft

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The Korean prosecutor’s office leading the StarCraft 2 match-fixing investigation released its report this week, and the results are not good for fans of the sport. One of the game’s greatest players, Lee “Life” Seung Hyun, now stands convicted of match-fixing, as well as another leading player, Bung “Bbyong” Woo Yong.

That’s only half the bad news. The other half is that for those thrown-matches, Life was offered about $60,000. In other words, as TeamLiquid editor Kwanghee Woo pointed out, Life made seven times as much money throwing two games than he would have for winning the entire tournament.

 

The rising tide of esports regulation and lawsuits

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A fantastic article over on Bloomberg this morning highlights one of the fastest growing and largest problems for the esports industry—gambling. Joshua Brustein and Eben Novy-Williams make their argument clear, both in the severity of the problem, and the lack of action to solve it

 

PaiN’s lawsuit against Riot is just the beginning

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This week, another story broke in Brazilian League of Legends esports, again dealing with legal concerns. It’s been revealed that PaiN Gaming, last year’s representative in the World Championship, sued Riot Games for an unfair punishment from earlier this year. PaiN Gaming was penalized for a “poaching attempt” on support player Caio “Loop” Almeida. The management denied the allegations, asked for proof—which Riot Brazil didn’t present—and consequently filed a lawsuit.

 

A Hero's Spell-Stealing Ability Just Wrecked Team Secret's Night in DOTA 2

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They’re currently fighting for their lives against Empire. Secret were up a game and were looking for the knockout victory when this happened. Secret were pushing down mid when their own Black Hole spell was used against them by Empire’s Rubick, who immediately turned the game on its head.

 

YouPorn-sponsored esports team barred from ESL

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Advertising pornography is not legal in the markets we operate in, and the vast majority of partners we're working with have strict "no drugs, no alcohol, no pornography" rules that we've contractually taken on board. These aren't new rules, but ones that have been in our rulebooks for a long time. We spoke to the manager of Team YP earlier this year and in that conversation we explained the situation and rules in detail, and offered to look for potential alternatives in a bigger group. At the same time, we are consulting with our legal teams about this. We will inform the team and the management as soon as we have any updates.

 

Bud Light’s new esports plans are just as boring as its beer

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“Bud Light is putting full control in the hands of fans as they will be called on to vote for their favorite esports athletes… The [top-five vote getters] will go on to celebrate the passionate fans of esports all summer long by delivering exclusive game streams on Twitch, upgrading on-site experiences at esports events, and providing an all new behind-the-scenes series developed by Machinima that explores everything it takes to become a top esports athlete…

The Bud Light All-Stars will close out their whirlwind summer with a celebration alongside fans at TwitchCon 2016 in October by competing in a three-round elimination tournament unlike anything seen before. Each round will contain surprises for the All-Stars as well as the fans cheering them on, and at its conclusion fans will dictate which All-Star will have risen above the rest.”

 

In a League of its own: My trip to the EU LCS Finals

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I cannot emphasize how much I recommend making the trip out to one of these events. I can’t promise the same level of polish for other games and their productions, but if you are a hard-core fan or a curious observer of League of Legends or esports as a whole, just make the trip to one of the mid-season games in the summer split and witness it for yourself. You will not be disappointed and you will understand “what all the fuss is about.”

 

In crowdfunding news

 

Dark Souls™ - The Board Game

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Dark Souls™ - The Board Game is a strategically challenging, deeply immersive combat exploration game for 1-4 players.

I posted the announcement for this two weeks ago, it has since gone up on Kickstarter where it was funded in about five minutes and has now far exceeded its goal.

 

The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

 

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Play Harry Dresden & his friends in this tense, strategic co-op card game from Evil Hat, based on Jim Butcher's NYT bestselling novels!

 

Other content I found interesting this week

 

Australia's Indie Evolution On An Island Far Away

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Weird and wonderful, Australia embraces indie

 

What A Video Game Producer Actually Does

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“The basic version of what a game producer does is get stuff done,” he said. “That’s the easiest way to put it—we’re the people who are responsible for making sure that a product gets made.”

That means playing two big roles, Treadwell said. First of all, a producer is a project manager: their job is to design a reasonable schedule, keep track of a game’s budget, and ensure that everyone’s hitting their deadlines. When a development team has to bump everything back a day because one engineer just broke the build, it’s a producer’s job to rearrange the game’s schedule accordingly. If a bunch of computer gear winds up costing twice as much as everyone expected, it’s the producer who has to figure out whether something else can be cut from the budget.

 

The next three articles are responses to Alex St. John's article and past presentations that were mentioned in last weeks news post.

I am Alex St. John’s Daughter, and He is Wrong About Women in Tech

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My name is Amilia St. John and I am the daughter of Alex St. John. Yes, that one. For those not following the horrific toddler meltdown my father has been very publicly broadcasting over the past few days, here is a short summary; My father, posted an article recently on venturebeat.com claiming that:

“Many modern game developers have embraced a culture of victimology and a bad attitude toward their chosen vocations.”

“[he] can’t begin to imagine how sheltered the lives of modern technology employees must be to think that any amount of hours they spend pushing a mouse around for a paycheck is really demanding strenuous work.”

On the blog, they uncovered extremely distasteful recruiting slides and supplemental blogs with revolting opinions regarding women, minorities and the mentally handicapped in the tech industry. Since these findings, countless others and I have found ourselves at a loss for words how anyone, especially someone in a position of power, can think that it is acceptable to broadcast such offensive material.

As his toxic waste trash fire not only is associated with my last name but also my face, I felt compelled to respond to my father’s sexist, ableist, and racist rants.

{Dad, if you use my face in an offensive slideshow again I beg you to please at least throw me a bone and put in a more flattering picture. As a self absorbed millennial I have provided the internet with a profusion of selfies in a rainbow of sepia tones. Please choose any of those.}

 

Guest Column: Defending Crunch Isn't Leadership

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Guest contributor Ian Williams responds to the recently stoked debate about crunch in game development and calls on the IGDA to do more.

Lost in the noise of St. John’s article is that it was intended as a rebuttal to an interview VentureBeat conducted with Kate Edwards, head of the IGDA. The IGDA has long had the best surveys of developer work life in the world; I used them myself in an article for The Guardian. Besides the surveys, the IGDA occasionally issues a strongly worded blog post or press release when they feel the need to directly advocate for workers (as they did with Alison Rapp just a few weeks ago). But that’s where the organization’s activism ends, leaving the bulk of its efforts at improving the lot of games workers to panels and polite discussion.

 

A Productive Look at Burnout in the Games Industry (And Everywhere Else)

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However, there is no amount of self-regulation an employee can do to prevent burnout if their employer doesn’t also get involved. It is not medically reasonable to expect an employee to work beyond their functional capacity and still perform to their best standard. Providing an environment where employees are reasonably challenged but not overworked, with enough resources to satisfactorily do their job without having to work overtime, is essential in maintaining a positive psychological climate and subsequently increasing productivity. The more burned out you get, the less you are able to recognise how burned out you are.

 

The Story of Overwatch: The Fall of Titan

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In the first of our three part series, Danny talks to the Overwatch team about what happened with Blizzard's cancelled MMO Titan, and how it's death lead to the birth of Overwatch.

How the team was able to move on from a failure that they hadn't experienced before.

 

The Story of Overwatch: Return of the 90s Shooter

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In part two of our three part series Danny talks to the developers at Blizzard about how games like Team Fortress Classic, Quake 2 and Half-Life Deathmatch inspired them to create Overwatch.

 

The Story of Overwatch: 21 Hero Salute

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In the final part of our three part series on Overwatch, Danny explores the creation of the 21 heroes that populate this game. Their history, inspirations, and what happens when they break the game.

 

Pewdiepie Talks About How Horrible He Used To Be

 

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One of the first things Pewdiepie notes is that he used to record videos raw, without cutting any of the uninteresting footage away. That is to say: old Pewdiepie wasted viewer’s time with footage that would never make it onto a video in 2016. Nowadays, Pewdiepie records hours and hours of footage, which he then shaves down to a few minutes of the best material.

“Exposing myself here, but I don’t know, I really don’t like that,” Pewdiepie said, after playing back footage where he calls a character gay. “I still make kind of stupid jokes that I shouldn’t make, but I feel like back then I didn’t understand. I was so immature, and I just thought things were funny just because they were offensive. So I would say a lot of stupid shit.

Pewdiepie is adamant that he has grown a lot since 2011, both as an entertainer and as a human being.

 

Interactive Music for the Video Game Composer

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Winifred Phillips is an award-winning video game music composer.  Her credits include five of the most famous and popular franchises in video gaming: Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, Total War, God of War, and The Sims.  She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER'S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.

As a speaker in the audio track of the Game Developers Conference this year, I enjoyed taking in a number of GDC audio sessions -- including a couple of presentations that focused on the future of interactive music in games.  I've explored this topic before at length in my book (A Composer's Guide to Game Music), and it was great to see that the game audio community continues to push the boundaries and innovate in this area! Interactive music is a worthwhile subject for discussion, and will undoubtedly be increasingly important in the future as dynamic music systems become more prevalent in game projects.  With that in mind, in this blog I'd like to share my personal takeaway from two sessions that described very different approaches to musical interactivity. After that, we'll discuss one of my experiences with interactive music for the video game Spore Hero from Electronic Arts (pictured above).

 

Reading People Through Video Games

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What can you learn about a person through a screen? What can you learn about a creator through their work?

Three recent narrative-driven games—Cibele, That Dragon, Cancer, and The Beginner’s Guide—take three different approaches to the relationship between player and creator. All three are short, independently produced, and deeply personal, all three possess a strong authorial voice and purport to be nonfictional (The Beginner’s Guide complicates that notion, but we’ll get to that), and all three provide different takes on what it means to know someone.

 

THE FALSE LEGACY OF GRAND THEFT AUTO 3

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Up until Grand Theft Auto III (2001), it was standard to classify videogames by their central mechanics. There were stealth games, platformers, shooters, racing games, action-RPGs, turn-based RPGs, fighters, puzzle games, action-adventure games—and the expectation was that every game would feature a whole range of genre-informing actions and rules, typically interspersed with sections devoted to “story.” The problem is that this naming structure was a presupposition in itself: what if you wanted to do all of these things at the same time? What if you wanted to make the sights and sounds just as important as the shooting or the driving?

 

Educating Game Designers - Too Much "Game" at Game Schools - Extra Credits

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When students complain that their school didn't prepare them and designers report they give no special weight to job applicants with a design degree, something has gone wrong. A rigorous liberal arts education combined with ongoing project courses may give students the social and intellectual skills that systems and design courses alone cannot.

Game design degrees are still relatively new, so the question of how to teach them is still being explored. Recently, students who have gone through these programs have had trouble finding jobs, and when they do find jobs, they often find themselves unprepared for the real work of being a designer. On the other side of the equation, designers in charge of hiring have not been impressed with applicants who have degrees. Ultimately, the current education system for game design focuses too much on game skills at the expense of the more broad intellectual capabilities that designers really need. The industry moves so fast that the version of an engine students learn in their freshman year would be obsolete by the time they graduate, and even disciplines like game balance are also tools that the designer is expected to pick up on the job rather than fundamental skills to succeed at it. The ideal skillset, according to many designers, encompasses a broad range of social (communication, collaboration) and intellectual (love of learning, lateral thinking, breadth of knowledge) abilities, plus the ability to harness them (project scope and logical thinking). None of these are game specific skills. Instead, game designers should be put through a rigorous liberal arts program that exposes them to a wide array of disciplines in a challenging, discussion-focused curriculum (with extra emphasis on math). This set of classes should be underlined by ongoing project courses in which students must both work in teams and incorporate elements of other classwork to create games at least once a month. Not only does that help produce more adaptable designers, who can work in teams and bring a wide array of experiences to bear on problem solving, but it also gets them practical experience in building games and a long history of projects to craft their eventual portfolio.

 

Are LGBT Characters "Forced" Into Games?

Rantasmo talks about the need for round and flat character types to tell a story and to give life to a setting.

 

A LANDSCAPE OF MEMORY; RETURNING TO SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS

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I am speaking of my own memories and the image on the screen in front of me. The image is from Shadow of the Colossus (2005): A young man stood on a clifftop, looking down at the sea below. This image is defined by its feeling of fragmentation, incompleteness. Key pieces of information are missing, unable to be represented in this limited visual space. The temperature, the texture, the smell of the image are all absent, all fragmented. My memory of the clifftop is the same; missing pieces that have slipped away, details and complexities lost to time and perception. I have stood on many clifftops, and watched countless waves break, and so when I recall the feeling, the connection, I am recalling a tapestry. My mind is filling in gaps with variations of that same memory, ones both distant and recent. And then it is also adding fabrications, songs, films, games, paintings, poems; each one a fragment that might make up a whole. The experiences blend easily, parts of each switching places like shuffled cards. In memory everything is virtual—there is no distinction between the digital and the analog, the played and the lived. I recall something I once read from an interview with William Gibson: “On the most basic level, computers in my books are simply a metaphor for human memory: I’m interested in the hows and whys of memory, the ways it defines who and what we are, in how easily memory is subject to revision.”

 

Bloodborne: Beating Dark Souls' Narrative Design

Matt Lees looks at how Bloodborne is built to support its narrative.

 

GXTalks: GX3 • Day 3 - Building Believable Fantasy Worlds

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Join BioWare developers David Gaider, Dan Plunkett, and Terry Fairfield as they discuss the work that went into creating Dragon Age: Inquisition. From complex characters to immersive sounds, find out about the thought and work that goes into bringing a world to life.

 

I’m Not Calling You a Liar: Complicated Canon & Unreliable Narrators in ‘Dragon Age II’

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All joking aside, Varric is the character who conveys the game’s canon to the player—from Hawke fleeing Lothering to Hawke’s final days in Kirkwall. I’ve seen some amazing headcanons people have come up with that excuse a variety of the game’s flaws or quirks as being a limitation of Varric’s narrative style (Varric only ever bothers to describe one cave because he hates the outdoors, extra waves of enemies are Varric trying to make the battles sound more impressive, etc).

Even in scenes where he’s not present, we’re still ultimately relying upon Varric’s interpretation of the situation because there’s no one else around in the present who can confirm or deny what he says. Without Varric, there is no story, and without the story, there is no game.

 

THE IMMORTAL WEIRDNESS OF SHADOW HEARTS

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This article contains spoilers for Shadow Hearts, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, and World War I.

Several famously grim prophecies were recorded in the run-up to World War I. “The lamps are going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again in our life-time,” said Sir Edward Grey, turning a phrase better remembered now than his own role in the disaster. On the first day of the war, Henry James wrote privately of “the plunge of civilization into the abyss of blood and darkness.” And over a decade earlier, military theorist Jan Bloch had seen the shape of the conflict: a “great war” fought in trenches, a “catastrophe which would destroy all existing political organizations…any attempt to make it would result in suicide.”

But no real doomsayer went over the top in quite the way Albert Simon, the villain of the 2001 JRPG Shadow Hearts, does. Standing ramrod straight in his formal cravat, top hat, and little white gloves, he’s a caricature of what Samuel Hynes called the “Edwardian afternoon,” which ended when the war began. In an alternate-history 1913, the game’s occultist heroes chase Simon from his gore-caked laboratories in Kowloon to dive bars in Prague. When they finally catch up in Wales, he reveals the “terrible vision” that drives him: “I can see the future in store for this world…earth will overflow with the screaming of the dead who know not yet their fate. An iron behemoth shall rise and in a flash, countless lives will be snuffed out. A hopeless future!!” To prevent this, he explains, he’s decided to summon one of the “Outer Gods” from “the M72 Nebula” to remake the planet.

 

SHADOW OF DESTINY, THE PS2 GAME AHEAD OF (AND BEHIND) ITS TIME

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The next important appearance of the homunculus in popular culture, at least in my view, arrived in the PS2 cult classic Shadow of Destiny (2001). It is the name given to the churlish overseer who helps guide you through the game world’s complex web of time and space. Developer Konami uses the term with full awareness of its long and varied history, and taken as a whole the game stands as a multi-tiered experience that touches upon all three of the major manifestations of the homunculus outlined above: the literal, the metaphorical, and the critical. The game is an astonishing work that, despite its substantial camp and silliness, manages all at once to be a compelling yarn about time travel and alchemy, an informed take on Western metaphysics, and a presage of the postmodern turn in videogames.

 

Bastion's The Sci-Fi Western I've Been Waiting For

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Bastion has a good story, and while not entirely unique, its delivery is what sets it apart. It’s thanks to Logan Cunningham’s soulful, personable and amazingly talented portrayal as The Narrator, Rucks. His relays a story with a deliberate Old Western style. It is thoughtful, and often filled with regretful pride. A campfire story holding an unfortunate truth of sins of the past, indecisive pondering as to how to fix tragedy, and warnings to the few remaining, himself included.

 

The Fascinating Story of DRM, Part One: Wario’s Woes

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One feature that the NES had that the Famicom lacked was the 10NES lock-out chip, which required extra pins. Nintendo distributed the keys for the Sharp produced technology directly to licensed third-party developers. Why didn’t the Famicom have an equivalent? It may have been because buggy second generation (Atari 2600, Intellivision, Colecovision) cartridges came mainly from outside of Japan, but probably the main reason was that Nintendo had more experience when designing the NES, intergrating lessons learned from designing and releasing the Famicom.

But there were still many unlicensed NES cartridges produced over the years, much to Nintendo’s dismay.

Tengen was a division of Atari that produced many unlicensed (as well as licensed) NES games. Their first attempt to reverse engineer the 10NES chip was unsuccessful. So, on their second attempt, in 1986, they went straight to the US Patent and Trademark Office, which held the 10NES code. They claimed they needed the pertinent documents in order to defend themselves against an infringement lawsuit. What a meta lie, indeed. But it enabled Tengen to make money by producing possibly illegal games for Nintendo’s groundbreaking console.

The Fascinating Story of DRM, Part Two: The Origin of Launch Week Battle
The Fascinating Story of DRM, Part Three: Big Corporate Lost Productivity

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? FMV Game Actors and Actresses!

One I missed from earlier this month, could be of interest for old FMV Adventure game players.

 

Why All the Hate?: A History of Internet Trolls

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I want to focus on the broader question that encapsulates all four stories: why do these trolls troll so hard? Why is there so much toxicity in videogame culture and in Internet culture more broadly?

Ironically, the game of trolling is, in part, designed to deflect spectators from noticing the intense emotional reactions on the part of the troll, who experiences feelings of displacement, irritation and even anger in the face of this invasion of new folk into what they had thought of as their private clubhouse. Rather than publicly losing their cool, the troll crafts a trap to foist these feelings off on another, thereby saving their reputation within the group and making life online more difficult for those who triggered negative emotions in themselves.

 

Super Mario RPG - Did You Know Gaming? Feat. WeeklyTubeShow

The history and development of Super Mario RPG.

 

Don Daglow: "I'm calling bullshit on core, mid-core and casual"

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Veteran game designer Don Daglow used the stage at Berlin's Quo Vadis conference to mark an end to the use of three familiar but insidiously restrictive terms: core, mid-core, and casual.

Daglow illustrated his point with a slide depicting three animals: an elephant, a horse, and a mouse. Which of these animals, Daglow asked the somewhat bemused audience, most resembles a cat? The crowd's silence was deafening, but it was also expected.

"Lots of games are not like core, lots of games are not like mid-core, and lots of games are not like casual," Daglow said. "But we keep on trying to force them into these terms, and then we can't discuss our own craft. That's why I'm calling bullshit on, 'core, mid-core and casual.' We need to find other ways to talk about our games. We need to open up the discussion beyond our three animals."

Daglow's career as a game designer stretches back to the early Seventies, and he worked in prominent roles at some of the industry's pioneering companies. He was director of game development for the Intellivision at Mattel in 1980, for example, and joined EA a year after its foundation. However, at a time when the industry's products have never been so diverse, the language used to describe its audience is as restrictive and reductive as at any point in his career.

Don Daglow is credited with the development of the first D&D video game (Dungeon), the first God game (Utopia), the first Baseball game (Baseball), and the first graphical MMORPG (Neverwinter Nights).

 

The Joker's Best Cut Scenes And Battles Against Batman, Throughout Video Game History

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Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker, has been with him since Detective Comics #1, but he hasn’t always gotten the greatest digital adaptations. We take a look at the best and worst examples of the world’s worst comedian in video games.

 

NADIA: RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER DLC’S SURPRISE MVP

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Showing Lara with natural, evolving friendships with other women is one of the things that sets the new series apart from the canon that preceded it. With Nadia’s inclusion in even a seemingly minor role, I’m reassured that the new Tomb Raider approach will continue to push Lara in new and interesting directions, as well as continue prioritizing the ways in which Lara is influenced by, and influences, other women.

 

Bridging Worlds: Workified Games

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This feeling started to come to my conscious attention one cloudy Sunday evening last year during a video gaming group I help run. Our little group, Meats of Evil, had been meeting for almost a decade as a way for old friends from around the country to virtually hang out and keep up with each other, but we had been experiencing a lot of burn-out and no-shows over the past year, and even though we changed games and moved times around, this problem persisted. My friends and I were equally exhausted and one night while playing Guild Wars 2 I grumbled something like, “Why I am using my lone day off to finish a grinding reputation by collecting the same resource for untold hours to get my character fancy boots when I spent the pay I earned yesterday to replace my actual worn out shoes?” Everyone just kind of stopped and sat in silence for a long moment, then staticky affirmations started to come over the server.

Part one in a four parts series, the others are written and can be read from the homepage.

 

FINAL FANTASY XII AND THE GLORY OF THE GRIND

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This advice—“just grind it out”—may as well be the slogan for the Japanese role-playing game. I’m not sure when I first came across the term “grinding,” intended as a catch-all for the long hours these games require in order to progress, but I immediately loved it, perhaps because of the endless Clipse jokes it facilitated. Grinding is the barrier to entry for a JRPG, a genre that locks gonzo narrative and aesthetic riches behind hours of sheer, exhausting repetition. Grinding is a fanciful name for an act of intentionally mind-numbing repetition: the player traverses a specific area repeatedly in order to engage in battles, thereby gaining experience points and growing stronger. You might find a good “grind spot” and spend an hour, steadily at work there. Its corollary is farming, which looks identical but in which the goal is the acquisition of a certain type of item rather than a certain type of point. Is this boring? It is boring. Grinding leads to strength, of a sort; farming leads to wealth, of a sort; both are, intentionally, punishing.

 

BINARY DOMAIN AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOOTING ROBOTS

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In these cutscenes, Binary Domain frames its human characters as precisely that—if this is a game about the differences between men and machines, then the occasional intimate moments shared by Binary Domain’s cast (the flashback to Dan’s childhood is an eminent example) tell that story. Vanquish, by contrast, is uninterested in people. Its climactic twist, whereby your squad leader and even the American president turn traitor, feels cheap and cynical; an ugly plot turn that sacrifices the game’s humanistic theme for traditional espionage intrigue. Up until that point, you’ve fought and died alongside dozens of US Marines, united in a battle against malicious robots and a cyborg antagonist. When the game spins 180 and announces “actually, your comrades have betrayed you,” it’s a glaring and unfortunate inconsistency. This is a notable contrast to how Binary Domain draws clear battle lines between man and robot—sure, they are muddied in the final act, but gracefully so. Whereas Vanquish goes the other direction, implying similarity between humans and robots by revealing that people are just as abhorrent as mass-murdering machines.

 

Three Solutions to Three Problems in Interactive Fiction

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The main difficulty in writing interactive fiction is how so many basic techniques of traditional fiction fail in the new medium.  The player's need to examine the text for gameplay clues wrecks the emotional effects the author works to build.  The author's multidimensional characters clouds the player's ability to see the game clearly enough to play it.  The player's ability to choose alternate options wrecks the author's carefully orchestrated plot.  All of these are large hurdles and we're all casting about for techniques to deal with them. 

 

xKaros, QwiK and Conan like this

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half-arsed reply because.. eh..

First, holy hell was there a lot of articles that made me jump for joy. Exist archive (I love dungeon crawlers, and seeing one coming for ps4 as well sounds great. I don't need fancy graphics or high fidelity whatever to enjoy a dungeon crawler, but seeing a relatively high profile one go big like that makes me hopeful. Dark souls the board game! I can't afford it atm, and I probably can't before 19 days are up, but omg. Sega modding of classic games? Sounds cool, I hope they mean it, but I'm still really peeved at them for PSO2 localization.

Nioh looks cool. I don't care if people say 'hurr dark souls rip off' or whatever (looks more like onimusha to me anyway, which I've wanted before dark souls was a thing anyway), but one thing I noticed...

http://imgur.com/jgPVlW3

I'm getting mixed signals here.. guess I just have to get on my ps4 and look for it.

There was that article about the daughter of mr. douchebag... frankly I think she's wrong too. I DID finish highschool, I got scholarships for computer programming, I was top of my class for programming, I had my portfolio game showcased first place in the Art Institute's Game development show thing. I pretty much couldn't have done anything more to get my foot in the door in the game industry. I appear white (I'm actually partially native but nobody really knows by looking at me), I'm male, I don't discuss sexuality so people presume straight (don't care what they think)... But I never so much as got an interview upon HUNDREDS of resumes and applications sent to countless game devs...And computer programming was considered VERY employable at the time...What went wrong?

I didn't belong to a clique. That lady said she had good mentorship or whatever. Honestly, your skills, talent, dedication, work ethic... all that doesn't mean shit in the tech industry if you don't know anyone... not unless you're the entrepaneur type that can make their own game solo or whatever and release it to wild success. I have absolutely no artistic talent however, and even worse, I cannot work at home. I NEED an office or area away from home to work. So I can't make something myself to get my foot in the door, I need to be in another door first. I have a very unstable family environment that prevents me from ever accomplishing anything in it.

 

I don't mean this as a sob story or a series of excuses, just that I think people really underestimate how much social networking and whatever matters... I mean everyone knows it's important, but I think it's more than important, it's basically the god-dang BE ALL, seriously... You can be a drooling Neanderthal, and if you have networks, you can get into a prestigious position. Or you can be einstein, and if you have no support and you didn't actually commercialize yourself to be noticed, you'll probably be begging on the street before long. At least that's how it is in Vancouver BC.

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Nioh looks cool. I don't care if people say 'hurr dark souls rip off' or whatever (looks more like onimusha to me anyway, which I've wanted before dark souls was a thing anyway), but one thing I noticed...

It seems to be available everywhere or at least more recent articles says that it is.

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So uhh. I still think Exist archive looks cool, but looking at some gameplay videos and doing some research... it's not a dungeon crawler wtf. who the @%#@%# is the dope that called it a dungeon crawler. Prob one of those gaming journalists who exclaim that they didn't know how to turn their ps4 on.

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