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    This Week In Gaming 10-1-19


    Supergiant's 10th Anniversary Orchestral Show, previews of The Last of Us 2, Cameron Kunzelman responds to the criticism of Control's gun detailing what they find interesting about what the game says about violence, Razbuten's informal experiment to see how people learn the language of games by having someone who never plays them try nine different titles, Jacob Geller discusses potential effects of being in a real or virtual space designed with violence in mind, Seva Kritskiy on why most games will continue to disappear despite preservation efforts and rejecting profit and immortality as motivation for preservation, HeavyEyed's Ethics of Buying games series covers the impact buying games has on different aspects of life, Jennifer Scheurle looks at Death Stranding to discuss how designers and players talk about the subject of difficulty in different ways, The Game Overanalyser examines how games can explore morality and guilt through their mechanics and systems, and more.



    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)


    The Last of Us Part II - Inside the Demo | PS4


    Go behind-the-scenes of the three-hours of gameplay from The Last of Us Part II revealed to media, featuring new story details and game footage from the team at Naughty Dog.

    Three Hours With The Last Of Us Part II


    I emerged from my three-hour The Last of Us Part II demo session tense and anxious, a coiled fire hose of pent-up adrenaline. I’d just piloted a now-19-year-old Ellie through peril after peril, amassing a grisly body count along the way. Few of those kills were clean. Many were desperate knife flurries, death by a thousand sinew-snapping stabs and cuts. Human enemies mourned their fallen comrades, bellowing their names at me with bestial fury while charging to the same pointy end. And yet, after I finished the demo, I walked into a nearby bathroom, stared into a mirror, and asked myself “Did it work? Do I care?”

    The Last of Us: Part 2 hands-on – virtual murder never felt so bad


    Video games don’t often attempt to evoke unpleasant emotions outside of fear, and even then it’s mostly surface fear – jump scares over psychological ones. Most video game characters are free to lose their temper, to inflict violence on another person, without any consequences or emotion attached or alluded to. Clear the level. Move on to the next wave of nameless NPCs.

    The Last Of Us Part II Will Not Include A Multiplayer Mode


    Developers Naughty Dog announced the news with a short statement yesterday, while suggesting that whatever had been cooking for the game’s multiplayer will be released at a later date, just “not as part of The Last Of Us Part II”.

    The Last of Us 2 is "a story about the cycle of violence", says co-writer Halley Gross


    Naughty Dog writer Halley Gross talks trauma, love, and dog murder


    Help Will Come Tomorrow is a story-driven survival game set in pre-revolution Russia


    The survivors of a Trans-Siberian railway crash must overcome their prejudices in order to stay alive.


    Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — “Cal’s Mission” Trailer


    In the Galactic Empire, the Inquisitorius has only one mission: seek out and destroy all remnants of the Jedi Order. Learn more about what Cal Kestis is searching the galaxy for and why the Empire will stop at nothing to bring him down.


    Shenmue 3's Demo Is 1999 In A Bottle


    Those who backed Shenmue III on Kickstarter, including me, finally got a taste of the upcoming adventure game this week with a “trial version.” While it’s limited, it definitely feels like old-school Shenmue: Stiff and stilted, but charming and detailed.

    Shenmue 3 does not disappoint


    Stately, strange and dripping with old-school Sega style - Yu Suzuki is back.


    Heavy metal platformer Valfaris gets October release date


    Valfaris, the heavy metal action-platformer in space that was shown off at this year's PC Gaming Show, has been stamped with a October 10 release date.


    Check out a full 10-minute match of Project Resistance


    Project Resistance was revealed by Capcom earlier this month, and the gaming world remains a little divided over it – or ambivalent, at worst. On one hand, it’s a brand new Resident Evil game using the RE2 remake’s game engine, and an interesting concept to boot. On the other hand, it’s a Resident Evil multiplayer game, and those don’t tend to go that well.


    Thrones of Britannia was “a valuable lesson” for A Total War Saga: Troy



    After a cheeky leak or two, A Total War Saga: Troy was officially revealed last week. It was first shown to press at Gamescom, and boy was it tough not to yell about how pretty it looks during the intervening month. When the time came I did basically that in an article, where you can read more about the demo I watched and the headline features of a Total War Saga: Troy.


    Willing to Risk Anything: How Streets of Rage 4 Aims to Revive a Beloved Franchise



    Dotemu is modernizing what some have called a dead genre.


    Indivisible - Combat & Character Trailer


    Use your abilities to explore the world of Loka and recruit over 20 characters to your team, each with their own unique attacks and abilities!


    System Shock 3 Has A Clear Vision: Playstyle Matters



    Warren Spector knows where System Shock has been and where it needs to go.


    Rebel Inc: Escalation expands into Early Access in October


    Simulating all the messy stuff that happens once the war is 'over'.


    Build your own Hogwarts-style magic school in this charming management sim


    Spellcaster University, now in Early Access, lets you expose your students to magical learning and incredible danger.


    Ghost Recon Breakpoint: 10 Survival Tips from Beta Players


    Ghost Recon Breakpoint's Beta gave players their first taste of Auroa's hostile wilderness - here are their best survival tips. Sponsored by Ubisoft.

    Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s open beta has players frustrated but hopeful


    Players who have tried out the Ghost Recon Breakpoint open beta that’s running until tomorrow morning have shared their reactions on various social media outlets and forums, and they seem fairly split over this new entry in the Ghost Recon series. Some are frustrated by bugs and new design choices, while others have enjoyed their time on the fictional archipelago of Auroa.

    Ghost Recon: Breakpoint Open Beta Highlights a Battle Pass and Other Microtransactions


    You knew Breakpoint was getting microtransactions, and this is how they're implemented.

    Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s Microtransactions Explained


    Ghost Recon Breakpoint is in early access before its full launch on Friday. It offers a somewhat generic but capable military shooter to hardcore fans. Looming over everything has been the specter of microtransactions. The game offers lots of them. So far, we’ve seen that you can easily ignore them.


    Pokémon Sword And Shield Have Mechanics To Let You Use Your Favorite Pokémon Competitively



    The latest entries in the Pokémon series are making several tweaks to the franchise's long-running conventions. From introducing autosave to getting rid of the Exp. Share item in favor of an automatic solution, Sword and Shield change several things about the standard play of a Pokémon game. While Game Freak was open about a lot of the behind-the-scenes information surrounding the development of Pokémon Sword and Shield, the team was a bit cagier about a new battle mechanic it could only tease.

    Exp. Share Is Baked Into Pokémon Sword And Shield


    During our trip to Game Freak for this month's cover story, we learned a ton of tidbits about Pokémon Sword and Shield and what went into making it. One of the smaller, yet interesting pieces of info we learned involves Exp. Share, an item that splits the experience earned in battle to all Pokémon in the player's party.

    Sword And Shield's Max Raid Battles Could Be Among Pokémon's Most Challenging Encounters


    Pokémon Sword and Shield are introducing myriad new mechanics to the series. One of the biggest new additions is the ability for Pokémon to grow to massive proportions. While this is most prominently on display in battles through the Dynamax and Gigantamax mechanics, players can also challenge powerful giant Pokémon in cooperative Max Raid Battles. We spoke with the developers to learn more about these encounters.


    Intriguing indie RPG Death Trash hits Steam Early Access next year


    I've been following the progress of Death Thrash ever since I came across its post-apocalyptic cyberpunk world early last year: it promises gore, profanity, disgusting monsters, the ability to puke on demand and multiple-choice dialogue, all within a detailed pixel art world. This week, after more than four years of development, it finally has a release window, albeit for Steam Early Access, where it will arrive early next year.


    TGS Encounters - Yoshiro Kimura Interview, moon phases


    Taking a turn in the indies hall of Tokyo Game Show, we found Yoshiro Kimura, who told us the tale of moon - a poetic antithesis of the RPG genre, soon to be launched on Switch, more than 20 years after its original release and for the first time in English.


    Encased: A Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic RPG could be the modern Fallout we need


    The shadow of Fallout and Fallouter still looms over RPGs despite a decade of Bethesda’s mega-blockbuster 3D sequels. Similarly, Stalker continues to inspire a remake or mod or attempted successor every other month, and it’s at the conference of these two phenomena that you’ll find Encased: A Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic RPG, which entered early access last week.


    Respawn Is Reviving Medal Of Honor… As An Oculus VR Exclusive


    The team at Respawn Entertainment (Apex Legends, Titanfall, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order) introduces you to Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, their new World War II-set VR first-person shooter.


    Villains, lawmen, businesses, photography, and heists – the future of Red Dead Online, a Rockstar interview


    For myself and many others, much of the enjoyment comes from simply existing in this vibrant, expansive world. To find any excuse to live there. With the Frontier Update adding three new roles – Trader, Bounty Hunter, and Collector – Rockstar provided all the excuse we needed to meander across the dusty plains, verdant fields, and the snow-capped mountains of the Old West once more.


    Guilty Gear’s new trailer shows off May, and confirms Axl Low as a playable fighter


    The recently announced Guilty Gear for 2020 has established a trailer pattern. The first trailer showed Sol Badguy going up against Ky Kiske, and then the trailer for Ky told us that May was coming, and that we’d get a trailer for her shortly. Now, today, we have the May trailer, as well as a reveal of the next character and when we’ll get to see them in action.


    Apex Legends Season 3 map World’s Edge takes you to a new planet


    World’s Edge is a new map coming with Apex Legends Season 3.


    Half-Life 2's downtrodden NPCs have been unable to blink for five years, until now



    Oof, imagine not blinking for half a decade. My eyes shiver at the thought. But this is what the NPCs of Half-Life 2 have been suffering. The dry eye epidemic was first reported to Valve’s GitHub repo back in 2014 and since then it turns out only a select few have felt the joy of smashing their eyelids shut. But after almost five long years, City 17’s tortured citizens can finally blink again, thanks to a small official update.


    Frogwares claims Focus Home Interactive is delisting its games without approval


    Frogwares, creators of The Sinking City and myriad Sherlock Holmes adventure games, is having some trouble with one of its former publishers, Focus Home Interactive. A license agreement between the pair has ended, and it looks like that means several of the studio's games will be removed from Steam and other stores, against Frogwares wishes.


    Twitch Is Making Ads Less Annoying



    Twitch, like so many other platforms on the “free” internet, runs on ads. These ads are annoying as hell. They also represent a raw deal for the majority of streamers. Soon, however, both those things are going to change.


    The Epic Games store has some new features and slimmer patch sizes



    Epic may have pulled the dates off its Trello development board for its digital storefront, but that doesn’t mean the company has stopped pushing forward. The Epic Games Store has a few new features, which are highlighted in a recent update.


    Judge: Streamer who didn’t read contract can sue Twitch for over $50K



    James “Phantoml0rd” Varga, the controversial streamer involved in an elaborate Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling scandal, has prevailed in his initial court case against Twitch. After being banned from the platform since 2016, a judge in San Francisco now says he’s free to sue for damages in excess of the $50,000 allowed by his contract. His lawyer says this could pave the way for similar suits from other banned streamers.


    Joy-Con drift lawsuit adds Switch Lite to class-action complaint



    Players alleging defects after 20 hours of use


    Breaking: PlayStation Worldwide Studios boss Shawn Layden is ‘departing’



    “It is with great emotion that we announce that Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden will be departing SIE. His visionary leadership will be greatly missed. We wish him success in future endeavors and are deeply grateful for his years of service. Thanks for everything, Shawn!”


    Duke Nukem 3D composer sues Randy Pitchford, Gearbox and Valve



    Bobby Prince claims his music was used in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour without permission.


    Nvidia's RTX Broadcast Engine boasts AI accelerated streaming and improved quality


    This weekend at TwitchCon, Nvidia is showing off its next generation streaming enhancements, dubbed the RTX Broadcast Engine. It turns out those GeForce RTX graphics cards aren't just about ray tracing in games. Leveraging the Tensor cores on the RTX series Turing GPUs, Nvidia is able to provide real-time effects like virtual greenscreen, AR avatars, and style transfer filters. And thanks to the improvements in NVENC (Nvidia's hardware accelerated video encoding engine), you can also get improved stream quality without tanking framerates—all running from a single PC without a bunch of extra dedicated hardware.


    The GoldenEye N64 fan remake is coming along nicely


    GoldenEye 25, so named because it's due out in time for the 25th anniversary of Rare's seminal first-person shooter in August 2022, is the work of 3D artist Ben Colclough, and he released the video, below, on his YouTube channel.


    Esports News


    How France Became Competitive Soulcalibur's Global Superpower



    The right game, at the right time, in the hands of the right people.


    The Shock and esports triumphed at the Overwatch League 2019 final



    The San Francisco Shock are the Overwatch League 2019 champions. Dominating all four rounds, the predictions from fans and professionals alike came true, with an astonishingly strong display from the Californian team.


    Crowdfunding News (not sharing everything I find, just ones that look interesting, have known talent behind them, and a chance to succeed)


    Kickstarter’s Year of Turmoil


    How a Nazi-punching satire led to the first union drive at a well-known tech company—and, workers say, the firing of two organizers in eight days.


    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)




    When Kentucky Route Zero, the episodic magical realist point-and-click adventure from Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy, and Ben Babbitt), first reached players in 2013, critics were struck by its intricate narrative, distinct visuals, labyrinthine cultural references, and haunting sound design. Its follow-up chapters have wandered even further afield with their explorations of design and form.

    Though its fifth and final episode has yet to see release, the volume of writing it’s inspired to date is considerable. This compilation attempts to structure notable highlights of that ample literature into four thematic threads.


    Game preservation and the quest for immortality



    I still feel it in my bones when I read that 99% of 1980s Japanese PC games are lost, there is no question about that. But at the same time, I feel like we should accept that it is OK. As players, we should reconcile with our nostalgia, cherish our memories but understand that trying to re-live them is futile. Preservation efforts, in my view, should be informed by this counter-intuitive philosophy, accepting that games, art, things, people – disappear, are forgotten, every day.

    This re-alignment does not mean that efforts to continue finding and preserving video games of the past should cease. Rather, the focus of these efforts should expand to include celebration, interpretation and political action, all driven by an anti-capitalist ethos, an ethos that rejects both profit and immortality as motivators.


    Difficulty is about trust and communication, not ‘hard’ vs. ‘easy’


    Game designers don’t actually talk that much about difficulty; we talk about things like progression systems and mental load. None of these things are strictly questions of “difficult” versus “easy” — they’re more about how we guide players to greater competency, and what that journey should be like, ideally.


    I want to play your game but I can't: Overland and its journey with dyslexia


    "The way our brains process letters shouldn't be what we are failing at."


    How a joke about the milkman inspired Psychonauts' best level



    Tim Schafer and developers at Double Fine walk us through the mind-bending Milkman Conspiracy.


    Supergiant's Greg Kasavin on Hades' Development and Why Epic Games Store Was the "Obvious Choice"



    Supergiant's new approach to Hades' development has paid off.


    Video Game Preservationist Finds Rare Prototype N64 Controller and the Joystick That Should Have Been


    Before the public even gets a glimpse at a new console, it’s made available to developers in prototype form so they can have new games ready for its launch. Thanks to strict NDAs and contracts those prototypes are rarely revealed, but Shane Battye, a retro gaming preservationist, managed to get his hands on an early N64 controller prototype, revealing what could have been.


    Designing the varied control schemes of multi-animal wonder Lost Ember



    What's it like to run through a field of tall grass as a wolf? To burrow through soft dirt as a wombat or float through the air like a jittery hummingbird? Animals are often a small element in video games, set up as sidekicks, low-level enemies, and ambient NPCs. Rarely do we get to take steps as one of Earth's other species for the majority of a virtual adventure.


    Having a Guinness with Troy Baker and Nolan North


    I’ve just returned from playing the excellent The Last of Us: Part 2 in Los Angeles and I’m now in Central London meeting two of the first game’s stars. If only I can spirit them away from their adoring fans.

    “They wouldn’t go union” – Troy Baker on why Gearbox didn’t use him for Rhys in Borderlands 3


    Back in April, Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford claimed that actor Troy Baker had chosen not to reprise the role of Rhys in Borderlands 3. The actor previously played the character in Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands.


    Creative leadership: The pitch (Part 1 of 3)



    I’ve been Captain of Kitfox for almost 6 years now, and with each project I direct (Shattered Planet to Moon Hunters to Boyfriend Dungeon), I’ve learned more about both creative direction and leadership.





    “There’s a quote from another YouTuber, CobraTV, that has always stuck with me, and sums up the community aspect perfectly: ‘we are a constellation,’” he explains. “The feeling of connection fills a void for many of us.”


    Gone for Good: The Phantom Pain of Peace in Metal Gear Solid V



    “You’re your own man. I’m Big Boss, and you are too. No… he’s the two of us. Together. Where we are today? We built it. This story—this ‘legend’—it’s ours,” the real Big Boss says on the tape, in a moment that clearly doubles as a message from Hideo Kojima to the player. He is both praising the player’s commitment to his 30-year narrative while also asking them to take a harder look at the things it has asked them to do.


    “The Banality of Control,” by Cameron Kunzelman



    There is a running criticism of Control that I’ve seen consistently articulated since the game’s release a few weeks ago. People are lauding its narrative and conceptual content as forward-thinking and interesting while openly mourning that it is, at its core, a third-person shooter. You have a gun, you aim it, and you shoot at things. This is another node in a daisy chain in the critique of violence in games, which is a debate that I have had, and continue to have, my own interest in. This piece isn’t a defense of Control as a shooter, but instead a kind of unraveling rationale, a statement of a coherent logic that this game has that is mostly lacking in the vast majority of games that have you aiming for heads down sights.


    How Greedfall’s RPG framework exacerbates its colonialist impulses



    On the surface, it seems that Greedfall doesn’t want to be yet another colonist simulator. It’s clearly aware that it’s stepping on well-trodden ground with its colonialist themes, and is thus wary about embracing them too overtly. Take for instance how it refrains from trite, lazy characterisations about the islanders as bloodthirsty savages or cannibals, who only want to adorn their necks and homes with the polished skulls of their enemies. Neither are these folks depicted as untainted by the corrupting influence of civilisation; there are definitely less-than-savoury company within their ranks.


    What Games Are Like For Someone Who Doesn't Play Games


    About a year ago, my wife asked if she could play a game. Instead of simply saying yes, I decided to run an informal experiment where I had her play a sampling of games to see how, after a lifetime of not playing games, she would do. These are the results.

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/razbuten


    Games, Schools, and Worlds Designed for Violence


    They walk out under the branches of hopelessness
    They think of this world welcoming
    the bodies of their sons.

    Support me: https://www.patreon.com/JacobGeller


    The Environmental Impact of Physical Games - The Ethics of Buying Games



    Morality and Guilt in Video Games | How Game Designers Reveal our Heart of Darkness using Mechanics


    This Video Essay examines how Video Games can explore morality and guilt using mechanics, systems and narrative. As an interactive art form, Video games seem best situated to explore the nature of morality. This video examines the potential of games as a vehicle for moral education by drawing from game studies, psychology and philosophy.


    Final Fantasy IV | Warriors of Leitmotif


    Final Fantasy IV was a massive jump in scope and ambition for the series, especially in regards to its soundtrack and its use of leitmotif.

    Support the channel on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/gamescorefanfare


    The History of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West


    Please consider supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/GVMERS


    Astral Chain Analysis | Platinum Game's Evolving Design


    I struggled a lot articulating everything I wanted to say with this one, but it's finally done. A video analyzing Astral Chain and how it reflects Platinum's development as a game studio.

    Fox's Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Foxcade


    Untitled Goose Game and Player-Driven Comedy


    Support the show on Patreon - http://patreon.com/writingongames

    There have been plenty of games with comedic writing over the years, but is it possible for games to let players set up and execute on their own punchlines through play? Let's examine why the design of Untitled Goose Game—with its systems-driven gameplay, simple mechanics and carefully crafted aesthetic—allows for just that.


    Catherine Full Body - Analyzing Rin's Story | PostMesmeric


    With Catherine, Atlus took a seductive, but serious look at maturity, romance, and relationships, turning a bizarre puzzler into one of the generation's strangest games. But with Catherine Full Body, they're adding a new character, one who could very well tip the scales and make a less-than-ideal revision to an already brilliant story. But did they? Time to examine Catherine: Full Body, and see what exactly makes Rin such a poignant part of the game's appeal.

    Support PostMesmeric on Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/PostMesmeric


    How Pathologic 2 Sets a New Standard for Psychological Horror Games


    Pathologic 2 is a brutally challenging horror game that gets into your head and stays there. It's a game I'll remember for a long time. I also talk briefly about Blair Witch in this video. That game...isn't quite so special.

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/CDavis_Games


    IndieWatch: Top 15 "Don't Miss!" Indie Games (September 2019)


    This September was a doozy, particularly for fans of indie games! It seemed like there were multiple releases each week really worth diving into, so until a time-turner is invented, here are my picks for indies you really don’t want to miss from the month of September in order of their release date.


    Blips 3: Cyberpunk Stealth, Digital Therapy, and Road Trips!


    It's an extra chunky Blips episode, featuring... 7-ish games, instead of the usual four! Hooray!

    As always, if you liked this (or want to get access to the next one a few days early!), please consider supporting the show on Patreon! http://www.patreon.com/errantsignal


    Supergiant in Concert - LIVE 10th Anniversary Orchestral Show


    You've heard our songs, but never heard them like this! At PAX West 2019, we had our 10th Anniversary Concert, featuring composer Darren Korb, vocalist Ashley Barrett, and the Supergiant Orchestra conducted by Austin Wintory. This video contains the full performance, complete with behind-the-scenes footage. We hope you enjoy it!


    Things I found entertaining throughout the week relating to the game industry


    A Large Group Of Red Dead Online Players Tried To Carry Bowls Of Soup Across The Entire Map


    That was the odd objective of a recent meet-and-walk attended by a large group of Red Dead Online players. Also known as walk meets, these are events where large groups of players get together and walk around to various locations, encountering animals, criminals and other obstacles along the journey. This soup walk was filmed by Reddit user Slonitram and set up by Red Dead Online player Zoobz_


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