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This week in the news; Steam Summer sale date leaked, inside story of the rise and fall of Lionhead, Civilization 6 announced, historical trailer analysis for Battlefield 1, Ace Attorney 6 coming to North America and Europe, Pillars of Eternity 2, Paradox responds to people saying IGN reviewer had a vendetta against them (and other embarrassing responses to reviews), how flawed is the world's first esports association, being a tester for Sega in 1996, "invisible gamers" and why things like trailer likes and dislikes don't really matter, why Fallout 3 is garbage, German government upholds esports as games and not sports, Mario goes on a date with Boo, Prey 2 rumored to be in development by Arkane, harassment on Twitch and at DreamHack, the RNG of Mario 64, and more.

 

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Steam Summer Sale dates allegedly leaked — again

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This year, Steam's Summer Sale will apparently begin June 23, according to a user on Reddit. MrFreemanBBQ shared a Russian-language screenshot purportedly from Valve, suggesting that this year's sale period will run from 9:45 a.m. PT on June 23 until July 4 at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Xbox Live Is Freeing Up A Million Gamertags

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This week, Microsoft will release close to a million Xbox Live gamertags to the public, the company said today. These handles, which Microsoft says have been inactive since the original Xbox era, will start going free on May 18 at 2pm ET.

 

Lionhead: The inside story

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In October 2008, Microsoft released Lionhead's Fable 2 to critical and commercial acclaim. At a launch party an emotional Peter Molyneux held aloft glowing reviews and praised the exhausted team of developers who had spent the previous four years pouring everything they had into the game. Fable 2 would go on to win a BAFTA and become the best-selling role-playing game for the Xbox 360. Lionhead was on top of the world.

Seven-and-a-half years later, Lionhead's 100 or so staff were called to its in-house cafe for a meeting. There, Hanno Lemke, General Manager of Microsoft Studios Europe, announced that Fable Legends was cancelled and Lionhead would close. The famed studio Peter Molyneux co-founded nearly 20 years ago was dead.

The inside story of how Lionhead rose and fell is difficult but also important. Those who worked there describe a studio high on the fumes of furious creativity, a place where mind-numbing failure would often accompany agenda-setting success. They describe a fiercely British culture that benefited - and suffered - from an American overlord hell bent on winning the console war. And they describe a studio created in the image of a man who inspires as much as he frustrates. It's a complicated story. But it's one worth telling.

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If Lionhead was a family, Molyneux was its father, sat at the head of the table. In his care: 20-or so unruly boys who would often get into trouble. Lionhead, really, was a continuation of the culture and development ethic of Bullfrog. In fact, the idea for Black & White came in part from an event that happened at Bullfrog, the infamous Tamagotchi incident.

At one point while working at Bullfrog, Peter Molyneux wore a Tamagotchi around his neck. He was head over heels in love with it. "He was a grown man," Robson says. "I was like, what the fuck's that about?"

I tell you what, if I ever see that thing lying on your desk, I'll fucking kill it. That's what I said to him. I'll fucking kill it."

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For the development of Fable 2, Peter asked the team to double down on the more progressive elements of Fable 1, spurred on by some of the negative reaction from those upset with the kinds of things you could do in the game.

Lionhead received death threats because it had a gay character and two of the leading heroes were black. One message read: "I can't believe you would put a faggot in the game." A German magazine wrote a damning preview of Fable in which it accused Peter Molyneux of being "the man who thinks he's god", and called McCormack and other artists satanists. Mums from the Bible belt would write to the studio complaining that their eight-year-old had been exposed to homosexuality."

We were like, the game's not for eight-year-olds," John McCormack says. "It's a mature-rated game. So it's not really our problem. It's yours. And, I hope you rot in hell."

With Fable 2 we were like, right, gay marriage, lesbianism, fuck you. We revelled in it."

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Molyneux's other directive: Fable 2 must have a dog. And that dog must die.

"We had a meeting," McCormack recalls. "We'd not seen him in weeks because he had other things on. He opened the door, walked in and goes, the hero has a dog, and it dies. And then he left and we didn't see him again for another month. We were like, what the fuck? That was it. That was the direction."

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Redmond wanted to up the quality, so flew out a film crew to the UK to make the magic happen. An actress was hired to play a person who would pretend to play the game. Two weeks before E3, Lionhead was all set up to hit the record button, then disaster struck: a powercut in Guildford.

According to one person involved, Molyneux ordered his PA have an emergency power generator delivered within the hour, and handed over his credit card.

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There was a person there. I didn't know who he was. He said, okay, I want this change, this change, this change and this change. Peter had given me a little napkin with three or four items on there, which contradicted what this guy was saying. So I stood up and I said, no no no no no no. I said, that's not how we're going to do this. I'm from Lionhead. This is how we're going to do this."

Someone tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear: 'That's Mike Delman.' I said, 'I don't know who Mike Delman is!' It turned out, Mike Delman was the head of all marketing for Microsoft. If anyone could have sacked me on the spot, it was Mike Delman. But Mike and I had a back and forth. We met in the middle and made a compromise.

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In early 2012 Lionhead suffered what was dubbed "Black Monday". John McCormack, Stuart Whyte and a handful of other Lionhead veterans all quit on the same day. Molyneux did not react well.

"He fucking lost it," John McCormack says. "And we get asked to leave the building immediately. It was like, I've been here 12 years. Let me pack my stuff. No, we'll send it to you. Get the fuck out. He was raging."

McCormack, as was Lionhead tradition, went to the pub. At 5pm he was called back to the studio for a meeting."Peter went, we're going to call this Black Monday. John McCormack, stand up. And he's like, slow clap. It was really horrible.

"He took things personally. I can't blame him. All the leads had essentially gone, fuck you. When I was packing away my stuff at the end, he sat us down and went, sorry about that earlier. I kind of lost it there. I felt you were all personally attacking me at the same time. Like Ceaser, we were all stabbing him at the same time."

Then, McCormack says, Molyneux tried to make things right in the only way he knew how.

"He just gave me this really proper emotional inspirational fucking talk about entrepreneurship and what I've got to do, and I was like, fuck man. He was genuinely amazing. He was genuinely apologetic.

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Then there was Microsoft. Throughout its development, Fable Legends was used as a poster child for various Microsoft initiatives. In January 2015, Fable Legends became a Windows 10 game as well as an Xbox One game after Microsoft decided to switch focus to cross-platform play ("We didn't know about Windows 10 when we started developing Fable Legends," reveals a source. "In fact we were going to be on Steam.") This caused Lionhead a massive headache. Cross-platform play with a PC version opened the game up to cheating.

"We had to make sure everything was carefully architected to make sure people couldn't cheat, otherwise we would have ended up like The Division," says one person who worked on the Fable Legends.

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To celebrate Steve Jackson's 50th birthday, a prankster told him a woman was coming to the studio to see him for an interview. Actually, she was a stripper.

"She stripped off and starting singing to him," Andy Robson says. "She was an old bird with massive tits hanging out. We were all round the other side of the building, all like little kids peering through the window so you could just see her. Oh my god mate that was hilarious. That was funny. He was like, why have you got a camera and that in here? We said it was for mo cap for something to do with Black & White. He was a bit naive then, Steve, with games. Obviously writing and that it was different. But yeah, he was proper naive."

Lionhead Christmas parties are the stuff of UK game development legend. Staff remember turning up at some tent in a field at seven o'clock in the evening, and seeing some of their colleagues lying on the floor passed out. One artist is remembered for spotting his reflection in the mirror and shouting, "who are you looking at?!", before punching himself in the face.

This is a really long, entertaining, sad, fucked up, and detailed article that also sheds some light on where some of their ideas came from, events in the company, how the company was run, successes, failures, the rejection of Fable 4, and industry and marketing practices.

 

A thread about this was created here.

 

Unlocked Frame Rate and More Now Enabled for UWP

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Later today, Windows 10 will be updated with two key new features:

Support for AMD’s FreesyncTM and NVIDIA’s G-SYNC™ in Universal Windows Platform games and apps

Unlocked frame rate for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) games and apps

 

Civilization VI Coming October 21, Big Changes To Core Gameplay

HOW FIRAXIS WILL REDEFINE CIVILIZATION'S ART STYLE IN CIV 6

 

A thread about this was created here.

 

Pillars of Eternity II is in development, acknowledges Obsidian’s CEO Feargus Urquhart

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During the Digital Dragons 2016 conference that is taking place in Kraków right now we got a chance to meet amazing developers from all around the world. We also sat down with Feargus Urquhart, the CEO of Obsidian Entertainment, known for his work on the Fallout series, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale or the critically acclaimed Pillars of Eternity.

Obsidian has just released Pathfinder Adventures and is developing Tyranny announced this March. However, during our interview with Obsidian’s CEO, we found out that the studio is already working on Pillars of Eternity II.

 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice coming west in September

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 6 will launch for 3DS as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice as a digital download via the Nintendo eShop in North America and Europe in September, Capcom announced. It will cost $29.99 / £24.99 / €29.99.

 

Titanfall 2 drops this fall

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In a slide presentation for its 2017 fiscal year, EA listed Titanfall 2 for a launch in its fiscal third quarter, which runs from October through December 2016. That means the publisher expects developer Respawn Entertainment to ship Titanfall 2 in the same window that EA DICE will launch another first-person shooter, Battlefield 1. EA announced Battlefield 1 last week with a release date of Oct. 21.

EA Explains Why Releasing Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 in 2016 Isn't a Bad Idea

 

Star Wars Battlefront sequel coming in 2017

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Electronic Arts plans to release a follow-up to last year's Star Wars Battlefront sometime in 2017, the publisher announced today during an investor call.

EA beats expectations thanks to Star Wars: Battlefront's success

 

A thread about this was created here.

 

EA Boss Originally Rejected Battlefield WW1 Pitch

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When the team at DICE pitched EA Studios boss Patrick Soderlund on the idea for a World War 1 Battlefield game, he rejected it, the executive said today at the company's annual Investor Day briefing.

He said the idea of trench warfare was not all that exciting. However, the developers persisted, and eventually convinced Soderlund to greenlight the project. It was officially announced earlier this month as Battlefield 1--and it has a lot more than trench warfare.

 

The Banner Saga 2 hits consoles in July

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Barely a month after launching on Mac and Windows PC, The Banner Saga 2 has a launch date for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One: July 26, developer Stoic Studios said.

 

Rumor: Prey 2 In Development at Arkane, Will Be Revealed at E3 2016

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Despite Bethesda officially cancelling the project, a new rumor suggests that Prey 2 is in development at Arkane Austin and is set for a reveal at E3 2016.

Be true, and look like it did when it was first revealed.

 

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 Announced, Watch First Trailer

 

Yo-Kai Watch 2 launches in the U.S. this September

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Yo-Kai Watch 2 is launching in the United States on Sept. 30 on the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo announced this morning.

 

New Sherlock Holmes Game Features a Semi-Open World, See Gameplay Here

 

Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics coming west this summer

 

System Shock Remastered is launching a Kickstarter campaign

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Night Dive Studios is bringing its reimagining of System Shock to Kickstarter. The company teased the funding campaign on its Facebook page last night with a short clip of the project's logo and the launch date: June 29.

 

Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers PS4 English version launches August 5 in Asia

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The English version of Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers will launch for PlayStation 4 in Asia on August 5, Bandai Namco announced

 

Blizzard promises to permanently ban Overwatch cheats

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With the launch of its multiplayer hero-shooter, Overwatch, just around the corner, Blizzard has taken some time out to lay down the law.

Writing on the battle.net forums, Blizzard told players that cheating won't go unpunished. In fact, anyone caught breaking the rules -- whether by use of hacks, bots, or third-party software -- will be permanently banned.

Overwatch beta breaks Blizzard’s records, beats Destiny, The Division

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The Overwatch beta attracted 9.7 million participants across PC, PS4 and Xbox One, Activision Blizzard has announced.

A thread about this was created here.

Overwatch's New Animated Short Explores Hanzo And Genji's Tragic Rivalry

 

TW: Warhammer's Chaos campaign walkthrough explains why being mad is hard work

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Chaos has no true fortifications, preferring to maraud and corrupt. Marauding means settlements come with you, dispensing with defence and income in favour of recruiting ever more foul abominations. This is why playing Chaos is stressful. They typically run at a deficit, haemorrhaging favour with the gods without earning much back through infrastructure. The only way to turn a profit is to kill, burn, kill. You can't sit still, but neither do you want to stretch yourself thin.

Total War: WARHAMMER - Battle Magic Spotlight

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Magic can have large tactical effects on the battlefield in Total War: WARHAMMER. Whether it's pinning down enemies with powerful hexs or raising the dead itself to fight alongside you, understanding your spells and the lore you're using will give you a supreme advantage over your enemy!

EXCLUSIVE! Total War: Warhammer w/ Hat Films

 

BADIYA HOPES TO CHANGE ARABIC REPRESENTATION IN VIDEOGAMES

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“Sometimes showing things just the way they really are is the biggest contribution you can make toward the cause,” explains Ahmad Jadallah, the director of development at Saudi Arabian studio Semaphore. He’s looking to help fix representation of the Arab world in videogames, and hopes that his team’s upcoming survival game Badiya will be able to do just that.

Badiya looks to capture a key point in the desert’s history as it takes place just after the events of the first World War. Those familiar with Saudi Arabia’s establishment as a kingdom will know this period as when the unification of Saudi Arabia was occurring. While the real life events had the area conquered by the House of Saud, Badiya will instead focus on human life during the violent period. One where it was a struggle just to survive.

 

Shadow Warrior 2 is a surprising sequel

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Flying Wild Hog's 2013 remake of 3D Realms' campy 1997 first-person shooter Shadow Warrior was so successful that the Polish developer has more than tripled in size in the last three years. This swift evolution from a niche team of around 30 to a triple-A developer roughly 100 strong is clear upon spending even a few minutes with its impending sequel, Shadow Warrior 2.

 

My Ride Through Kingdom Come, The Medieval RPG With No Magic Bullshit

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I’ve been following Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s development from the very beginning, what with it promising to be a bunch of things I dig (open world, RPG, weird FPS melee and history) all in the one package.

 

Phantom Brave is NIS America's next Steam port

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Phantom Brave is coming to Windows PC, according to a new store listing on Steam. The role-playing game will be available this July, alongside a digital art book.

 

Stellaris director promises big changes and more content in future updates

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We said in our review of Paradox's new 4X strategy game Stellaris that “the early game is packed full of personality, but it's squandered as the hours roll on.” Apparently we weren't the only ones to think so: In a developers diary posted today, Game Director Henrik Fåhraeus said he anticipated “a fair amount of criticism regarding the mid-game,” and acknowledged that “colony events,” a category that was “supposed to be the bread and butter of the mid-game for the Science Ships,” went neglected because "we simply took too long getting all the early and late game stuff in."

 

Rainbow Six Siege Video Shows How to Use New Sticky Cameras, Weapon Shield

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Ubisoft has released a video that explains how to use the new operators' gadgets and tactics. The two new operators are Valkyrie and Blackbeard and come with sticky cameras and a weapon shield respectively. You can see them for yourself in the video below.

 

The Division: Here's When Next Update Arrives and a New Trailer

 

Microsoft Kills Project Spark

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Project Spark is no more. Microsoft announced Friday afternoon—prime news-burying hour!—that their online game creator is no longer for sale as of today. Online services will end in August.

A thread about this was created here.

 

Disney is ending its Infinity video game line, shutting down Avalanche Software

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In a statement, Disney's chairman of consumer products and interactive media, Jimmy Pitaro, said they have changed their approach to console gaming and would be transitioning "exclusively to a licensing model." Part of that change means that Disney would be closing its Avalanche Software studio, putting close to 300 people out of work, but Pitaro said it was a decision the company did not make lightly.

Disney stopped making games because it doesn't understand how to make games

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Between 2005 and 2016, Disney bought a half dozen game studios and then closed them all. It was part of a bigger push into video games — a push that Disney never fully got behind, which resulted in a half dozen studios (with hundreds of employees) being closed.

Sources: The Ambitious (Now Cancelled) Plans For Disney Infinity's Future Included Rogue One, Bigger Figures

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The range of Infinity content planned will be heartbreaking to fans of the series, as it must be to the hundreds of developers at studios around the world that contributed to Disney’s unusual project. Also unfortunate are our sources’ accounts of what did Infinity in, which they said had more to do with miscalculations in toy manufacturing than with game quality.

 

World Of Warcraft Designer Gets Real About Complaint That Blizzard Doesn't Listen

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Responding to a forum thread about expensive vendor items (the controversy du jour), assistant game director Ion Hazzikostas delved into the topic of trying to please everyone and, more pointedly, the assertion that Blizzard doesn’t listen to its players. First, he took aim at the illusion of consensus in a community as large and varied as WoW’s.

 

Capcom Now Prioritizing "Completeness," Even If That Means Delays

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Following Capcom's recent acknowledgment that Street Fighter V had a "lack of content" and "needed more polish," the company outlined a plan to work on games longer to ensure they are ready for launch. Now, CEO Kenzo Tsujimoto has shed more light on that new process.

Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster Sells 800,000 Copies

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Capcom's latest remaster, Resident Evil 0 HD, has sold approximately 800,000 copies, the publisher has announced as part of its latest earnings report [PDF]. The game launched in January this year, and Capcom's reporting period ended March 31, so this only counts copies sold through then.

 

Sega Has Sold Over 350,000 Mega Drive and Genesis Games on Steam

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Over 350,000 Mega Drive and Genesis games have been purchased on Steam since they were made available on April 28, Sega has announced.

 

Payday 2 Dev Teams With Acer to Work on High-End VR Headset

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Payday 2 developer Starbreeze has joined together with Acer on its virtual reality headset. The two companies will work together on designing, manufacturing, promoting, marketing, and selling the StarVR head-mounted display.

 

65% of Twitch viewing time split between four games

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Research looking at Twitch viewership has found that 65 percent of Twitch’s hourly viewing figure is split between just four games.

Those games are, in order or popularity, League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and Hearthstone.

 

Thrawn's Revenge 2 brings a deep Star Wars campaign to Sins of a Solar Empire

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This initial full release is designed to get the new factions up and running, but this the release is only the beginning. Deeper diplomacy is coming, and the mod team are looking at ways to integrate the major stories and heroes of the Star Wars universe.

 

Fallout 4 Player Leaks Unreleased DLC As A Mod, Gets Shut Down By Bethesda

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For a while now, some lucky Fallout 4 players have been able to play unreleased DLC as a part of a closed beta held by Bethesda. Anyone participating in these tests is technically under a non-disclosure agreement. Things haven’t really been working out that way, though.

 

In esports news

 

German government upholds esports as games, not sports, meaning visa issues should continue

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Last split we saw star European players like Diamondprox and Edward held out of EU LCS play because they were unable to get work visas in Germany. If this continues, it's hard to imagine the EU LCS has any other recourse then to move to a country like France that does have friendly esports work laws so that the league can compete with other leagues that can bring in imports. Riot Europe only relocated to Berlin before last season: before that, it was located in Cologne.

Berlin Pirate Party files a motion to recognize esports in Germany

 

LEAKED IMAGE HINTS AT MAJOR NEW ESPORTS ORGANIZATION

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An image leaked via Reddit containing references to a World Esports Association seems to confirm the existence of a major new esports body. This image hints at a formal league or organization of top European esports teams with involvement from ESL.

What the heck is WESA?

ESL Reveals Plan to Clean Up Doping, Corruption, and Cheating in Esports

 

Just How Profoundly Flawed Is the World’s First Esports Association?

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The initial idea seemed reasonable enough: A standalone independent esports council that can introduce new laws, enact regulations, and moderate competitions, all under the guiding principles of legitimacy and fairness. Considering the merry-go-round of scandals that have plagued esports since it became Big Business, an independent regulator could provide a step forwards.

But mere minutes into WESA's opening press conference, held on Friday in London, it was clear that the initial pitch hadn't left the elevator. WESA is half-owned by the ESL (the world's biggest esports network), yet other groups such as Major League Gaming, CEVO, PGL, and Gfinity are not involved. Worse still, its member council is comprised of eight teams, all currently active in esports. That means WESA members can compete in WESA-sanctioned tournaments, such as the ESL’s Counter-Strike Go Pro League, and will be able to shape the rules of the competition.

 

Renegades respond to League of Legends ban

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Yesterday we heard news that Riot had unleashed monstrous bans upon League of Legends pros Renegades, TDK and their owners. Renegades and its nominal owners Chris Badawi and Christopher Mykles have hit back at the ruling.

 

Growth in e-sports popularity wows Nevada Gaming Policy panel

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Steve Hill, who heads the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, pointed to e-sports as a prime example of the type of industry the state is seeking to diversify the economy. It’s an industry related to the state’s primary economic asset, gaming and tourism, it touches the high-tech sector, and it has the potential of drawing international interest. E-sports already is big business in Europe and Asia.

 

Guest Column: Meet the Smash Sisters

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Guest contributor Patrick Miller chats with tournament organizers Emily Sun and Lilian Chen about the origins, goals, and challenges of the women-only Smash Sisters event series.

Do you think the ideal future Smash community would divide tournaments by gender? What is the end-state that SS is aiming to help build?

LC: Absolutely not. No, no, no. In my opinion, I believe women’s events only developed as a concept due to preexisting social constructs. They don’t exist because we believe there is some mythical, inherent difference between each genders’ ability to play games! The ideal for Smash Sisters events is to feed back into the co-ed events in the long run, where competitive women ranging anywhere from low to high levels becomes a normalized phenomenon.

 

In crowdfunding news

 

This War Of Mine: The Board Game

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A board game experience, carrying an important message: In war, not everyone is a soldier. Can you survive to see the end of the war?

This War of Mine: The Board Game is a fully co-operative, open and play, survival experience. In this challenging, story-driven game for 1-6 players, you will play as group of civilians trapped in a city torn by a military conflict.

Hands-on with This War of Mine: The Board Game

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Indie hit This War of Mine was both a critical and a commercial success for developer 11 bit studios when it was released in 2014. Now the game about the civilian side of modern, urban warfare is in the final weeks of a Kickstarter campaign for a tabletop version. Polygon received an early prototype in the mail last week, and I was finally able to put it through its paces over weekend. So how does it play?

 

A thread about this was created here.

 

Copper Dreams

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A CRPG featuring cyber-espionage on the edge of the galaxy. Turn based combat with timed actions, stealth and chainsaw arms.

They have already had one successful Kickstarter campaign with the game Serpent in the Staglands.

 

A thread about this was created here.

 

Niche - a genetics survival game

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Niche is a simulation/strategy game about population genetics. Breed your animals and evolve your own species, based on real genetics.

Niche is a mixed genre game about the scientific topic of population genetics. Shape your animal tribe and find an ecological niche for it to live in! The main goal is to keep your tribe alive against all odds, such as hungry predators, climate change and spreading sickness.

A thread about this was created here.

 

Other content I found interesting this week

 

Let's Check The Battlefield 1 Trailer For Historical Accuracy

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Neidell concludes that the Battlefield 1 is making a valiant attempt to stick with equipment, vehicles and tactics from the era, but there are several inconsistencies and one or two bits that feel like outright errors but might just be artistic license or something.

 

Fallout 3 Is Garbage, And Here's Why

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This is a review of Fallout 3, featuring retrospectives on the series as a whole, analysis of gameplay and storytelling mechanics, discussion of the games' initial critical reception, and the ability to absorb 1.5 hours of your human life right through the screen.

Players had to fix the beginning, the developers had to fix the end, and that leaves only a middle consisting of hollow nonsense where you shoot the bad guys until they die and collect Fallout themed Macguffins. It's a story driven action RPG where, to have fun, you have to avoid the story on purpose.

Going into world design, writing, choices, difficulty, navigation, conversation choices, morality, modders needing to fix and improve things, and how a smirk from Josh Sawyer made the him want to try New Vegas.

 

The Long Dark Is Boring And That's Why It's Great

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Since late 2014, the developers of the Canadian wilderness survival game The Long Dark have refined the game’s interface, made its ravenous virtual wildlife smarter and added numerous player challenges. They’re planning to add a story, too, but the best facet of The Long Dark was there from the start: The game is slow. Really slow.

 

NDCS Workshop 2016

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Recently Guerilla Tea teamed up with the National Deaf Children’s Society and Abertay University to run a game development workshop with a group of deaf children.

There were several objectives we wished to achieve during the day. Primarily we wanted to show the group that game making can be for everyone, no matter your background or situation. We also aimed to introduce some of the core game development principles and procedures without the need for any prior knowledge.

 

Publisher Defends Negative IGN Review Of Their Game, Shoots Down 'Supposed Conspiracy'

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Game publisher Paradox issued an unusual statement this morning, defending a negative IGN review of their newest game while shooting down conspiracy nuts who believed that IGN’s criticism was influenced by outside factors.

 

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Finally, we'd like to go on record and say that we value the freedoms of critics to make any review they see fit. It's best for the consumer and, ultimately, best for us. Although we may in some cases disagree or be disappointed by a review, this doesn't detract from the fact that reviewers should have absolute freedom to give their own opinions of a game, free from external duress of any kind.

We have no hard feelings to Rowan, and we would really appreciate it if others wouldn't elect to have them on our behalf! You can likely count on seeing Rowan's name on reviews of our games in the future, for better or worse. We trust his integrity absolutely and he will certainly receive review code from us in the future.

I hadn't heard of anyone complaining about his review, apparently people complaining about review scores have reached the point where they are such cliched embarrassments that even I don't always hear about them anymore or them being made fun of over Uncharted 4 score complaints just overshadowed it. It is nice to see a company defend people harassed over review scores (hell, sometimes that would involve defending people who gave their game's terrible scores like 8s and low 9s), but this is also a good point as feeling the need to respond to completely asinine claims can set a bad precedent.

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Remove the Washington Post review from Uncharted 4's metascore

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A review is not about what you think a game is , its about what a game is. Objective measures are applied.

In other news, regarding people not understanding the concept of reviews, grammar, human thought process, and reading comprehension, a petition was started to remove the negative review from Uncharted 4's metacritic listing. A lot of people are lying and saying the review is satire (even though the review contains no satire or jokes) because it is listed as a "Comic Riff", as always taking the five seconds to actually look at the site would reveal that Comic Riff is what a lot of their video game, comic, animation, super hero, etc content is labeled as and it has nothing to do with an article being a joke or not (but the corporate shills are mad about criticism and they certainly aren't doing to look into anything when they can be angry toxic fanboys instead). People are also saying that because the review didn't have a score that Metacritic just assigned one randomly, knowing anything about how that works or looking into that would show those people that the author tells Metacritic what score they want to give even if a score is not used by their own publication. Kotaku has just written an article about this here.

Troy Baker retweeted the petition before realizing that doing so looks pathetic, and kind of half apologized for it.

 

Death to Review Scores: Why we need to move beyond the pseudo-objective outrage hook in game reviews

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On their faces, these accusations are staggeringly idiotic and border on self-parodying paranoia. Upon actually reading the reviews, such a judgement becomes inescapable. All three were professionally written, focused entirely on the context of the games themselves, never once mentioning any of the outside personalities or issues that the conspiracy theorists claim to have jaundiced the reviews. O’Brien’s review marked down Uncharted because of what she deemed to be a weak third act wherein both story and gameplay became repetitive and dull; Starkey’s review situated his opinion a comparative history of strategy games, their tropes, and mechanics; and Kaiser explained at great length why he felt Stellaris’ mid-game (a critical phase for any 4X title) was severely wanting.

But all of this is almost beside the point. The outrage, to look at the tweets, harassing comments and emails received by all three writers, fixated with an obsessive rage upon the scores given by each reviewer and not the qualitative content of their arguments. The actual source of the outrage lies, of course, in things like consumer entitlement and--in O’Brien’s case--a depressingly obvious misogyny. Yet the numerical scores are like a thick focusing lens for all that rage, concentrating and refining it into a simple, memetically powerful opinion that can easily drown out any approximation of nuanced discussion.

Here’s why.

 

The invisible gamers

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They may even see the maelstrom of controversy over a review score as something actively keeping them from interacting more directly with the hobby. I often talk to people about the daily arguments in gaming, and they look at me like I'm making stuff up. They're adults who don't really care about the Metacritic score of a game; they just want something that's fun that they can play with their friends, or a game they can spend some time with alone at the end of the day.

They fascinate me because I don't reach them, outside of my personal friends sometimes reading my columns to be polite. And there are millions of people like them, who will see my N7 hoodie and ask if there's ever going to be a new Mass Effect, and I'll tell them what's going on with the release date. They're the ones who play Call of Duty without watching every trailer, and go into retail stores just to browse and see what's new.

The invisible gamers are the reason I'm leery of calling the number of dislikes on a trailer any indication of actual consumer behavior. The majority of the people who will buy either the new Call of Duty or Battlefield game are likely unaware that a movement for likes or dislikes on YouTube exists for either game, and they may not have even seen the trailers yet.

 

In Defense of Short Games - Worth Every Dollar - Extra Credits

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One of the most common critiques directed at short games, especially indie games, is that they would be better if they were "only" twice or three times as long. This criticism assumes that longer games would be better, but that isn't always the case. Look at Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy as an example: one book stretched to the length of the three movies wound up being a much less satisfying experience that ultimately wasted the audience's time and made the material weaker for it. And that was an ideal case, where the studio put plenty of money into production and the director put plenty of love into each film. For a developer, adding double or triple the content means they need to add just as much to the development budget, a luxury that indie studios often don't have. It also assumes that quality is determined by length, when sometimes the vision for a game may call specifically for a short but tightly controlled experience. The developers who make these short games face a variety of difficult challenges. There's the bad reviews that won't consider any game good if it's not 10 hours long, there's the Let's Plays which people decide to watch instead of buying the game, and there's the three hour return window on Steam which allows people to return the game after they finish playing it. Evaluating games in this way and pushing short ones out of the market limits the range of experiences we get to have as players, so it's important that we take steps to support and show that support for short games.

 

Are Video Games RUINING Gaming? (COD, Far Cry, BioShock & More) – Wisecrack Edition

 

A thread about this was created here.

 

THE AZTEC PESSIMISM OF A MACHINE FOR PIGS

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This Aztec theme runs through the entirety of A Machine for Pigs: the first phone-call names Mandus as “Precious Eagle Cactus Fruit,” the name given to the heart pulled from the body of a sacrifice. As noted above, there are miniature models of step pyramids scattered throughout the factory. Mandus refers to himself as various Aztec gods: “I am the jaguar-faced man,” or Tezcatlipoca, the deity associated with obsidian, the material used to craft the sacrificial knife. “I am the feathered serpent,” or Quetzecoatl, a patron deity of the Aztec priesthood. As an industrialist, he is the one who oversees the sacrifice of factory workers, which pump out the products that are bought in stores and give the modern world its momentum. It is only appropriate that he identifies himself as the one who carries out that sacrifice: “This priesthood is mine… I carry the knife of this factory, the bowl of this mill.”

 

VISIONS OF HELL: DARK SOULS’S CULTURAL HERITAGE

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It’s the trees; the twisted, whorled trees, their skeletal branches raking the belly of the looming sky. Those are Caspar David Friedrich trees, unmistakably corkscrewed and bent. They rise out of collapsing stonework just like Friedrich’s do, and are touched by the same fading light, decapitated by the same dusk shadow. They crowd like pious pilgrims around ruined churches and abbeys, as if, like Friedreich’s painted forests, they were about to pull those ruins to the ground. Perhaps a few branches are woven here or there between the stone work. Getting a purchase, working their way through a century-long demolition, an inch at a time. Not that these trees, or Friedrich’s trees are moving—they are frozen, locked in rigor mortis, clawed into the dirt and stone like the hands of an eternally dying man, scrabbling for his savior. These are Dark Souls 3’s trees, and they are, among a thousand other things, marks of a certain history.

 

RetroAhoy: Quake

The history, design, gameplay, mods, and legacy of the Quake series.

 

A video for Doom was also made back in January, which BleedingChaos23 shared here.

 

Discussing the Importance of ‘DOOM’ with Game Designer Dan Pinchbeck

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Dan Pinchbeck is best known for being the multi-award-winning writer and creative director of 2015's bucolically sci-fi walkabout Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, which scooped three Gaming BAFTAs in April 2016 having been nominated in ten categories. The studio also put out Dear Esther, originally as a mod and later a full game in 2012, and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, in conjunction with publishers Frictional Games, the year after.

While these titles might lack Big Fucking Guns and Gratuitous Explosions of Gore, Dan's adoration of all things DOOM-y is nevertheless to anyone who spends more than ten minutes in his company. And then there's the small matter of a book he wrote, called DOOM: Scarydarkfast, published by University of Michigan Press in 2013, 20 years after the first release of id Software's legendary shooter. So yes, he's literally written the book on DOOM. Or one of them, at least.

 

HOW DOOM INSPIRED TWO GENERATIONS OF HACKERS AND MODDERS

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A premier first-person shooter, Doom (1993) still inspires programmers, modders and digital artists to adapt the game in unexpected ways. Excitement over the release of Doom 2016 is proof the beloved 24-year-old game series is a pop-culture mainstay. Doom is much more than a big-name franchise about blasting demons in their ugly faces. It’s a rare phenomenon that inspired the DIY gaming movement and continues to spark unbridled creativity among its biggest fans.

 

[SSFF] Punching Weight Ep 5: Doom Console Ports #1 (32X/SNES/GBA)

 

RACISM, HEARTHSTONE AND TWITCH

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Miller, who plays as TerrenceM for Gale Force eSports, fought his way through to the finals of DreamHack in Austin on Sunday. DreamHack is a long-standing series of gaming contests and digital festivals that take place around the world. In previous tournaments, Miller was generally eliminated early. In these finals, he played against the highly respected Keaton "Chakki" Gill, and lost 3-2. Miller was happy with his performance, and with his second place.

But his memory of the tournament is always going to be tainted. During the Twitch livestream of his performance, and the interviews that followed, Miller, who is African-American, was the subject of a torrent of racist abuse on the stream's chat panel. The abuse included hateful language targeting African-Americans, as well as graphic descriptions and imagery. There was so much abuse that moderators were unable to keep up.

Miller was playing at the time, so he didn't see the racist comments until he watched the recording after the event.

He says he saw it straight after the post-match interview. "I knew it would be bad, but I didn’t think it would be that bad," he says. "I was getting texts from my parents saying, ‘Oh, we saw you on your interview, really good job.' And I was just hoping they saw it in full screen and didn’t see the chat."

"I really hope they didn’t watch it at all, because I know they’re into the whole video game community. For me, whatever. It happened. It shouldn’t have happened. It won’t bother me. But for the people who want to support me, who care about me, for them to see that, I can definitely see how that would hurt a lot."

"Enough is enough": Confessions of a Twitch chat moderator

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The summed up thoughts of one Twitch chat moderator, who spent the DreamHack weekend trying to fight fires and prevent chat from becoming a complete disgrace.

Blizzard investigating Twitch pilot program to help combat chat harassment

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"This is obviously a larger, societal problem that affects us on many levels," he said. "We can only hope that when instances like this come to light it encourages people to be more thoughtful and positive, and to fully reject mean-spirited commentary, whether within themselves or from their fellow gamers.

 

Cibele's Nina Freeman Creates a Super Mario Maker Level — DEVS MAKE MARIO

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Join indie developer Nina Freeman, creator of Cibele and How Do You Do It, as she creates a unique course featuring an unlikely romance using Super Mario Maker.

 

Exploitation is Not Awareness

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I’m pretty sure people have been having the Battlefield 1 appropriateness argument a lot this week — we’ve certainly had it in the Eurogamer offices — and I’m surprised to discover that I haven’t really struggled to pick a side. The guy in that central image is apparently a Harlem Hellfighter, a group I had never heard of but have now. Reading about the Harlem Hellfighters has opened up another chunk of history to me, just as that slightly dodgy cable documentary clued me into the zeppelin fights. We often learn about the past in strange ways. Is that really a problem?

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Within each of these stories the authors argue along similar lines, that the depiction of each of these events, if not perfect, bring an awareness to a subject that neither of them were aware of previously. The trouble with each of these arguments is that ignores the reasons why these historical facts remain buried.

 

Diablo: A Classic Game Postmortem

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Diablo developer David Brevik returns to the GDC stage to give a classic post-mortem on Blizzard's action RPG hit Diablo in this 2016 talk. Brevik shares key takeaways from the experience and sheds light on how the game went from a single-player, turn-based claymation DOS game to the genre-defining classic it became.

 

There's nothing wrong with digital vanity

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If you haven't heard, the new Doom has multiplayer progression.

Yes, that's right. You earn new gear and new visual customization options by playing Doom's multiplayer. There are even challenges to complete and player levels to earn. It's a very post-Modern Warfare design; the multiplayer shooter as a long-term game.

Naturally, this wasn't received particularly well. During the open multiplayer beta, players endlessly compared Doom to Call of Duty and Halo in a riot of negative Steam reviews, complained about changes to the Doom formula, and generally threw a temper tantrum. This anger wasn’t rooted in a genuine or reasonable response to the game, but was rather a bit of performance art, a way to score brownie points with the nominally hardcore by complaining that a new game isn’t exactly like an old game. Doom is very much trying to be its own game, which means designing for modern sensibilities, and that means including mechanics such as multiplayer progression.

 

Controllers Control Everything | Game Maker's Toolkit

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Ah, the video game controller. That bulky chunk of plastic - bristling with buttons and sticks and bumpers - allows us to interface with alien worlds, fantasy landscapes, and post-apocalyptic wastelands. But is the design of the traditional console controller limiting the sorts of experiences designers can offer?

 

Nine Underappreciated JRPGs That Are Worth Your Time

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Today we’re highlighting some underappreciated gems from the past few decades, across all consoles. I’m sticking to games that don’t get discussed very often, so you won’t find the likes of Xenogears or Skies of Arcadia here. I’m also staying away from games I talk about all the time on Kotaku, so the Suikoden and Trails series don’t make the list. (You should play them, though.)

The first game on the list is Radiant Historia, and yes everyone should play that. Though this might be true

 

Japanese Environmentalism, Shinto, & ‘The Legend of Zelda’

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I recently read an article on Kill Screen titled “The Unmistakable Influence of Shintoism on Videogame History.” The writer, Jack Flanagan, is primarily concerned with the emotional affect of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which makes the player feel good about being out and about in nature. Flanagan posits that, “The ‘Legend’ of The Legend of Zelda is set up to look like a medieval folklore, but in truth it is a Japanese folktale composed of Shintoist elements, which has been respun by Miyamoto.” In fact, he continues, no small number of Japanese games “are tied the teachings of Shintoism.

”What are “the teachings of Shintoism,” exactly? And what do they have to do with Japanese video games? I’d like to demonstrate that Shinto—as a broad amalgamation of local folk religions in Japan—is not particularly well-defined as a cultural influence on video games. Moreover, Shinto is only one of the contributing factors in Japanese attitudes regarding the environment.

 

There Is No Coming of Age in 'Oxenfree'

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On its face, Oxenfree is a standard, though well-written, young adult coming-of-age story, the story of One Big Night that offers life lessons to its teenage characters. However, beneath that generic surface is a story that undercuts and deconstructs the very idea of coming of age, the idea that there’s this arbitrary line in a person’s emotional development in which we go from “child” to “adult”, from someone young enough that we should be taking advice to someone old enough that we should be giving advice. Oxenfree argues that there is no line, there is no coming of age.

 

Mario 64's hidden RNG decoded

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I explain all about how RNG works in SM64. RNG is a short stored at 0x00C7A962. When an object calls RNG, the RNG value is inputted into the RNG function, which then outputs a new RNG value. This new RNG value is given to the object to use and also replaces the old RNG value. RNG starts at 0 when the game is turned on, and then goes through a sequence of 65114 values before repeating. (Note that RNG is not reset to 0 when you change save files.) Thus, 422 of the 65536 potential RNG values can never be achieved.

 

Old school Sega documentary explores life as a video game tester in 1996

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Originally devised to be a “trainumenatry" used to sharpen up new recruits, the 28 minute doc now offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sega of America's test department in what eventually turned out to be one of the company's final years as a console manufacturer.

 

Anything funny I found throughout the week relating to video games

 

The Best Of GameFAQs’ Uncharted 4/Quantum Break Temper Tantrum

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If you want some overwrought outrage and a high concentration of people missing the point of things, a good place to start is GameFAQs. In my experience, I’ve found it’s a primo source of Eggshell Princes who get supremely sensitive over review scores and routinely interpret jokes as 100% sincere statements.

With the publication of my latest Blatantly Better, in which I argued for Quantum Break‘s superiority over Uncharted 4, you can bet your ass some noble corporate defenders stepped up to protect Sony’s integrity.

In the hilarious titled topic, Jim Sterling & Jimquisition: The Master of Clickbait, the outraged KinjoTakemura presented my article with just the bullet points, robbed of context, and took the whole thing at face value.

The results were funny as fuck. Here’s the best stuff.

 

Tank Murder Is A Very Funny GTA V Video

 

That Time Bill Gates Starred In A DOOM Promo Video

 

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