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    This Week In Gaming 2-19-19


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    Connor Makar reports on the condition of the former staff of Telltale while Jason Schreier reports on the fallout of Activision Blizzard's layoffs, RagnarRox discusses The Nietzschean Gameplay of Resident Evil 2, Jacob Geller on The Quiet Sadness of Mario Galaxy, Mark Brown speaks with the developers of Hitman 2 about the development process of a level, Cecilia D'Anastasio wins Writers Guild of America Award for her exposé on the culture of sexism at Riot Games, Peter Tieryas talks about why the scariest moment in Resident Evil 2 doesn't involve the monsters, Hollow Knight sequel Silksong and Darkest Dungeon 2 announced, largest US union federation urges game developers to unionize, Brian Gilbert considers the hierarchy of Bowser's military, Brook Johnson asks people to reconsider the misunderstood character Joel in The Last of Us, Game Informer continues coverage of The Outer Worlds, 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)

     

    Everything That Happened In Today's Nintendo Direct

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    The long-awaited first Nintendo Direct of 2019 hit today, and as expected, it was packed full of news sure to please Switch owners looking for more Fire Emblem, Mario, and even Zelda. Here’s everything we learned.

    Astral Chain Is A New Switch Action Game From Platinum Games

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    During today’s Nintendo Direct, Bayonetta, Nier Automata, and Vanquish developer Platinum Games debuted its latest Switch game: a mecha-powered cyberpunk action game called Astral Chain.

    Zelda: Link's Awakening Is Getting Remade For Switch

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    The Game Boy classic Zelda: Link’s Awakening is getting a full remake in the style of Link Between Worlds. It’ll be out for Switch this year. This is VERY GOOD NEWS, as Link’s Awakening is one of the best Zelda games that’s ever been made.

     

    Hollow Knight: Silksong Reveal Trailer

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    Explore a vast, haunted kingdom in Hollow Knight: Silksong, the sequel to the award winning action-adventure! Discover enchanting secrets and face foes in lethal, acrobatic combat as you ascend to the peak of a land ruled by silk and song.

    Hollow Knight: Silksong is the epic sequel to Hollow Knight, the epic action-adventure of bugs and heroes. As the lethal hunter Hornet, journey to all-new lands, discover new powers, battle vast hordes of bugs and beasts and uncover ancient secrets tied to your nature and your past.

    Hollow Knight: Silksong - Details from Team Cherry

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    A casual run-down by Ari and William on the details of Hollow Knight: Silksong

     

    The Universe Of The Outer Worlds

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    One of the most exciting aspects of The Outer Worlds is the opportunity to see the role-playing experts at Obsidian try their hand at a brand-new setting. While the gameplay of this new franchise draws comparisons to other first-person RPGs, the universe that players explore is entirely new. Set in a distant corner of the galaxy, The Outer Worlds is a fascinating mix of classic sci-fi pulp and an irreverent send-up of corporate culture and capitalism. The character you play is, in many ways, as much an outsider as you are as the player – a recently unfrozen colonist forced to contend with a bizarre culture and alien solar system – and that backdrop promises to be especially memorable.

     

    Oninaki is the next game in the works at Tokyo RPG Factory

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    Not much is known about Oniaki other than it’s in development at I Am Setsuna studio Tokyo RPG Factory.

     

    THE END OF “ENDGAME” AND GAMING AS A RELATIONSHIP

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    “We made a conscious decision to rethink the live-phase. Instead of thinking of it as ‘games as a service’ we redefined it as ‘games as a relationship’.”

     

    Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night trailer shows off Inverted Castle, reveals release target

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    Koji Igarashi and team have dropped a fresh trailer for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

     

    Darkest Dungeon 2 is coming: exclusive first details

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    One of the most brutal and enjoyable RPGs of the last few years is getting a direct sequel.

     

    Records mode makes Total War: Three Kingdoms less romantic

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    By default, Total War: Three Kingdoms doesn’t look like a gritty, realistic simulation of ancient Chinese warfare. Sure, the political and espionage systems make my head spin, but its heroic generals give it some of the same feel as Total War: Warhammer. Enter Records mode, an alternate, more historically accurate way to play Three Kingdoms. Creative Assembly’s new mode reduces generals back to mere mortals, assigns them bodyguards to keep them safe, and makes battles a slower, more strategic affair. See how it works in the videos below, including a 23 minute battle.

     

    Photographs

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    Why You Should Pay Attention To The New Game From The Creator Of You Must Build A Boat

     

    Ostranauts is a messy space-life sim set in Neo Scavenger's world

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    Living in space sounds like a claustrophobic nightmare, and Ostranauts isn’t doing much to change my opinion on the matter. Billed as a “noir spaceship-life sim”, it’s the next from Neo Scavenger studio Blue Bottle Games, and set in the same universe. Earth is completely screwed by forces both man-made and cosmic, so players get to manage a small ship, trying to make ends meet in a solar system in the throes of (very) late capitalism. The game’s full nature is still a mystery, but it’s reminding me of The Sims, Duskers and Space Station 13. Take a peek at the teaser trailer below.

     

    Furi developers announce romantic RPG Haven

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    Haven is the next from The Game Bakers, creators of frantic bullet hell hack n’ slasher Furi – so far, it looks like a much gentler ride than its intense predecessor. Due next year, it’s an RPG that can be played solo or with a “special someone”, about a couple who have fled to an alien world to be together. There’s not much to see of it yet beyond some lovely, scenic screenshots and a short teaser trailer below, but I can’t deny that I’m digging the aesthetic, and hope to play this one with my significant other. Have a quick peek at the romantic alien landscapes below.

     

    Mortal Kombat 11 - Official Jade Character Reveal Trailer

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    Jade, the ultimate stealth assassin, has been revealed for Mortal Kombat 11.

     

    PlanetSide Arena Delayed to Summer 2019

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    Daybreak wants to launch PlanetSide Arena for both PC and PS4 at the same time.

     

    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Shares A Glimpse Of The Lady Butterfly Boss In A New Video

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    FromSoftware’s upcoming action game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a month away from release, and we caught a glimpse of a new boss character known as “Lady Butterfly” in its latest video.

     

    Airborne Kingdom is a city sim with a flying town and a migrant message

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    A Case of Distrust by solo developer Ben Wander (aka The Wandering Ben) was one of Polygon’s best 50 games from last year. It merged whodunit threads with a lovely aesthetic and smart dialog. Today, Wander announced a new game called Airborne Kingdom, which involves a flying city and a search for desert migrants.

     

    Punch through magical Britain in Square Enix's Million Arthur: Arcana Blood

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    Britain, Square Enix tell me, is “home to a million King Arthurs and a million Excaliburs.” Which checks out.

     

    Square Enix Undecided if Dragon Quest XI Definitive Edition Content is Coming to PC and PS4

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    During last night's Nintendo Direct, it was announced that when Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age comes to Switch this autumn, it will arrive as a Definitive Edition of the game. This new version will feature new content, and perhaps most notably, new missions for each character in the main party where they get to briefly be the protagonist of the story.

     

    Rainbow Six Siege gets its first cinematic short and reveals new character

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    Ubisoft has revealed its first cinematic short for Rainbow Six Siege during a panel at the Six Invitational 2019, giving us a little more insight into some of the game’s original operators like Thatcher, as well as newcomer Dokkaebi. The new cinematic is called Hammer and Scalpel and will investigate the relationship between the SAS and 707th attackers.

    How the new Rainbow Six Siege Aussie operators' gadgets work

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    Deploy spike traps and hack drones.

    Rainbow Six Siege’s Frost is getting reworked because she “doesn’t offer interesting gameplay”

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    Ubisoft has confirmed that a Frost rework for is still being considered for the Rainbow Six Siege defender. The first we heard about a operator overhaul for the Canadian trapper was back at the Six Major Paris in 2018, which confirmed that she was being considered for a gadget or kit upgrade, but Rainbow Six Siege game director Leroy Athanassoff has offered some additional details on what specifically the team hope to address about her.

     

    The Bard's Tale 4 is getting a 'Director's Cut' overhaul

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    The Director's Cut is an outgrowth of the 2.0 update that the studio announced in December 2018. "As the scope of the patch has expanded (and continues to), we decided that it warranted a more formal title than 2.0. When released, it will turn the game into The Bard’s Tale 4: Barrows Deep - Director’s Cut," inXile's Paul Marzagalli explained in a Kickstarter update. "We are introducing several new features, most notably the previously mentioned DLC and an engine update, a larger undertaking allowing us to further improve performance and optimization."

     

    Soulcalibur 6 announces next DLC fighter

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    It's rapier-wielding returning character Amy Sorel.

     

    Tekken 7 will add Julia Chang and The Walking Dead's Negan this month

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    Two new DLCs dropping at once.

     

    Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn wraps up the story on March 26th

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    The game’s director leaving to start his own studio may have sunk most DLC plans for Final Fantasy XV, but there’s still one last story to be told. Due on March 26th, Episode Ardyn will put players in the shoes of the game’s dapper arch-villain and lead him on a high powered rampage through the streets of the capital city. Still, Ardyn isn’t Kefka, who mostly just burnt the world for shits and giggles – Square Enix want you to know his tragic backstory presented in the form of a free anime short. Below, twelve minutes of extreme melodrama followed by a trailer and spoilers.

     

    Underworld Ascendant devs overhaul world structure, story and quest design

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    Underworld Ascendant was a disaster. "Riddled with bugs and bizarre mechanics, Underworld Ascendant is a bafflingly poor debut from OtherSide Entertainment" was how Rick put it in his 25/100 review, and since release in November the development team has been trying to fix what is essentially a broken game. The second major update, released this week, completely remodels the world structure and adds new stories, to the point where OtherSide encourages you to start a new game to see what's changed.

     

    PS Vita production ending soon in Japan

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    PS Vita will soon end production in Japan, according to the official Japanese PlayStation website. The pages for the PCH-2000 ZA11 (PS Vita Black) and PCH-2000 ZA23 (PS Vita Aqua Blue) SKUs, which are the only two remaining PS Vita models in production in Japan, mention that “shipments are scheduled to end soon.”

     

    VP of product development Jeronimo Barrera departs Rockstar Games after 20 years

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    "We are in a new dawn of the industry," says the industry veteran

     

    THQ Nordic acquires Warhorse Studios in a €33.2m cash deal

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    THQ Nordic has acquired Warhorse Studios, the Czech developer behind the hit role-playing game Kingdom Come: Deliverance, for €33.2 million.

     

    Carjacking attempt leaves Devil May Cry voice actor unharmed despite six bullets fired

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    Reuben Langdon – best known as the voice actor behind Dante in Devil May Cry – was the victim of an apparent carjacking attempt while filming a documentary in Guatemala this weekend. The assailant fired a gun at the car, and at least six bullets hit the vehicle. Both Langdon and Steve Copeland – the other person in the car at the time – were uninjured.

     

    134 jobs in danger at Blizzard's French office

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    Activision Blizzard layoffs reach Europe, but employees may have to wait months to find out who is affected

     

    UK Charts: Far Cry New Dawn is No.1, but Metro Exodus is the real winner

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    Launch physical sales for Metro Exodus are almost 50 per cent higher than Last Light. 57 per cent of Metro Exodus sales came on PS4.

     

    Bayonetta 2 Director Yusuke Hashimoto Leaves PlatinumGames

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    Earlier today, it was noted on the ResetEra forums that Yosuke Hashimoto, director of Bayonetta 2 and presumed director of Bayonetta 3, had scrubbed all mentions of PlatinumGames from his Twitter profile. Later on in the day, Hashimoto confirmed that he left the studio after being there since its founding in 2007.

     

    After investing millions in gaming, Google will “reveal all” next month

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    Google will reveal its upcoming videogame project during this year’s Game Developers Conference. The company issued an invitation to its keynote address, set to take place in San Francisco next month, to select industry figures earlier today.

     

    Epic sue organisers of rubbish Fortnite Live festival in Norwich

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    Adding legal injury to public insult, Epic Games are suing Exciting Events, organisers of a disastrous Fortnite-themed festival in Norwich. The utterly naff-looking event made for some amusing headlines over the weekend, with the BBC covering it here. Despite the Fortnite Live festival invoking the name and using character art from Epic’s battle royale shooter, it was unsurprisingly unofficial. In a statement to Eurogamer, Epic have announced they’re taking legal action and have “issued a claim against the organisers in the High Court of London”, which sounds serious.

     

    Cristiano Ronaldo replaced on FIFA 19 box art

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    The Juventus star and face of the FIFA games since 2017 has been the centre of controversy following historic rape allegations from 2009, and a more recent tax evasion conviction.

     

    Cecilia D'Anastasio wins Writers Guild of America Award

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    Yesterday, Kotaku reporter Cecilia D'Anastasio was the recipient of the Writer's Guild of America award in digital news for her 2018 article "Inside The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games," which exposed a toxic, sexist culture at the studio going back years.

     

    Deadmau5 Says He’s Quitting Twitch After Getting Suspended For Using A Homophobic Slur

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    That suspension was apparently too much for the DJ who took to Reddit to criticized Twitch’s decision in a now-deleted comment, announcing that he was cutting ties with the streaming platform as a result. “I’m not going to stand for Twitch’s double standard when it comes to censoring and suspending me for harmless shit,” Deadmau5 wrote in his non-apology.

     

    Oxford study finds no link between violent video games and teen aggression

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    “Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”

     

    Number of graduates in UK computer game courses doubled since 2013

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    The number of UK graduates in computer games subjects has more than doubled since 2013, according to government figures.

     

    Tencent imposes new regulations on streamers in China

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    The rules are intended to foster a "healthier environment" and ensure that everybody complies with the law.

     

    Esports News

     

    How the Overwatch League’s newest teams built their rosters from scratch

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    When Overwatch League expansion team Toronto Defiant played its first exhibition matches during a bootcamp in Korea, it didn’t go so well. The team, which included a mix of OWL veterans and up-and-coming players, struggled in early scrimmages, with few positives to draw from the performances. “It was a lot rougher than I had expected,” says Defiant head coach Beom-joon “Bishop” Lee. But there was still hope for the young squad. While the matches weren’t going well, the group still showed a positive attitude, particularly during the video review sessions after each round of practice.

    Overwatch League's Season Two Debut Was Exciting Despite An Unpopular Meta

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    Standing in the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California for Overwatch League season two’s debut, I heard some of the biggest cheers of the night when, after a long evening of matches, Shanghai Dragons and Hangzhou Spark flipped the script. Tank-and-healer-heavy compositions had formed the core of every other match, but in this one, Reaper, Sombra, Bastion, Tracer and more made appearances on an electric third map. Then technical issues brought the fever pitch momentum sputtering to a halt.

     

    From a hospital bed to a shot at the Hearthstone World Champs

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    How Ike overcame chronic pain to become one of the game's most creative deck builders and popular pros.

     

    Esports now officially a profession in China

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    'Esports operator' and 'esports professional' formally recognized by Chinese government

     

    Evo Japan stream halted after Dead or Alive hosts start spanking each other

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    Evo Japan is underway today, which as you might guess is the Japanese version of the world’s biggest fighting game tournament. With so many fighting game fans watching the show, it’s only natural that developers want to showcase their upcoming brawlers on stream. For Dead or Alive 6, that meant a spot with enough sexually suggestive material for the Twitch stream to briefly get shut down.

     

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

     

    Crossroads Inn - a fantasy tavern simulator.

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    Develop Your tavern and dare to seize the crown one day! Available soon on PC.

     

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

     

    Kiss My Ass, Activision Blizzard

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    Now, more than 10 years later, Activision Blizzard’s strength in the video game industry is unquestionable, and Blizzard has gone on to release some of its best games ever. How foolish we were to be so worried! Even when 600 of my former coworkers and friends were laid off in 2012, many of them were hired back on as temps, and were allowed to continue doing their jobs at a lower wage and without benefits. It’s shrewd business decisions like these, which embraced Blizzard’s core values of “Play Nice; Play Fair” and “Lead Responsibly,” that enabled today’s record earnings, a nine percent dividend increase for shareholders, and catastrophic layoffs.

    The Fallout Of Activision Blizzard’s Massive Layoffs

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    Yesterday, at the exact moment Activision Blizzard chief executive officer Bobby Kotick hopped on a quarterly earnings call to inform shareholders that his company had just gone through a “record year,” employees across the publisher of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and more were being brought into conference rooms and informed that they were losing their jobs.

     

    An epilogue for the staff of Telltale

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    At the tail end of last year, I wrote an article on Telltale's closure. I talked to those who had worked there about what it was like at the company when roughly 274 people suddenly lost their jobs. With this many writers, artists, testers and others left stranded without severance more than four months ago, I wanted to find out how those affected are doing in 2019.

     

    An Open Letter To Game Developers From America's Largest Labor Organization

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    Editors note: Given ongoing issues in the games industry, the AFL-CIO recently reached out to Kotaku about addressing the people who make games. The AFL-CIO represents more than 12 million workers in the United States across more than 50 labor unions (including the Writers Guild of America, of which Kotaku and its sister sites’ staffs are members). This letter from secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler is the group’s first major public statement about organizing game developers.

     

    The Amy Hennig Interview: On What Changed With Uncharted 4, Leaving EA, and What's Next

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    Amy Hennig always speaks her mind. At the DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, the first thing that came to the former Uncharted and Legacy of Kain series director when asked about the development of Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City in the early '90s was that "there was a lot of cocaine at EA during that time. I wasn't indulging in any of it."

     

    Character before condition - looking at gaming and autism representation

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    One of the most beautiful and soul-stirring thing about video games is that not only can they offer enriching experiences that make us not want to put down our controllers, tell rich, deep stories but they can also create compelling, often relatable characters. Characters that really strike a chord with us.

    This can be particularly true for players who, like myself, are on the autism spectrum.

     

    Videogame Preservation Is, And Will Always Be, A ‘Now’ Problem

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    Longtime fans of mine know how much I champion game preservation in its many forms. Each year, the game industry grows on the shoulders of what came before, and each year, more games are being forgotten. Right now, many people in the games community are preparing their game of the year lists, but I have something else on my mind. A certain event happened lately that made me all the angrier about how little this industry — from the people who make the games, to the consumers and journalists around it — care about game preservation.

     

    The Changing Face of Development in Guildford

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    Guildford is one of the crown jewels of big-budget UK video game development. Over the years it’s been home to huge studios like Born Ready Games, Bullfrog, Criterion, Hello Games, Lionhead, Media Molecule, Supermassive… the list goes on. Not all of those developers are still going, and that’s one reason why Guildford is changing with the times.

     

    The Might of Keiki Kobayashi’s Ace Combat 7 Soundtrack

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    Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown feels brilliant. It’s a wonderful mix of real and arcade and it plays like a dream. But what’s kept me coming back to replay older missions over and over in the last few weeks is how that “feel” combines with its amazing soundscapes.

     

    The past, present and future of OlliOlli

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    Isn't it just terrifying how much can change in just over five years? Back in the summer of 2013, I made the short trip on the DLR from Lewisham to Deptford to follow up on an email that had been blindly submitted to Eurogamer's generic inbox: a Vita game being made in the very heart of south east London? This I had to see.

     

    When Your Favorite Streamer Turns Out To Be A Creep (Or Worse)

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    Three of Cheung’s close friends, who asked to remain anonymous, said that news of Cheung’s arrest brought them to tears, in part out of astonishment. Others who knew Cheung, though, had a different reaction. One former Blizzard employee said that they first felt “shock” and “disgust” that soon gave way to a different feeling: “Admitting that I wasn’t surprised.”

     

    “They’re more attractive than real boyfriends.” Inside the weird world of Chinese romance video games

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    Two months after it launched in December 2017, Love and Producer had been downloaded more than ten million times. Developer Pape Games, based in Suzhou, a city near Shanghai, used voice actors to create phone and video calls and social media updates. It’s just like real life. Except it isn’t, of course.

     

    Ultima VII

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    From the time that Richard and Robert Garriott first founded Origin Systems in order to publish Ultima III, the completion of one Ultima game was followed almost immediately by the beginning of work on the next. Ultima VI in early 1990 was no exception; there was time only for a wrap party and a couple of weeks of decompression before work started on Ultima VII. The latter project continued even as separate teams made the two rather delightful Worlds of Ultima spinoffs using the old Ultima VI engine, and even as another Origin game called Wing Commander sold far more copies than any previous Ultima, spawning an extremely lucrative new franchise that for the first time ever made Origin into something other than The House That Ultima Built.

     

    Celebrating 10 Respectful Representations Of Blackness In Gaming

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    This is African American History Month, so in recognition of some of the diverse narratives in gaming, we present this list of complex black characters that have graced our television screens and PC monitors. After lengthy discussions on the topic, we decided to highlight characters that are played by and modeled after black talent. In this way, we hope to recognize the staff members who work behind the scenes in conjunction with the characters presented here.

    Games motivate. More importantly, they have the power to mirror an ever-changing fanbase. Here are ten black characters that have inspired us.

     

    Wolfenstein 2 proves that Jews can be heroes, not just survivors

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    It opened my eyes to the real, often hidden history of my people that wasn’t dependent on narratives of victimhood. Instead of relying on Jews as victims to fuel a narrative about fighting Nazis, Wolfenstein 2 evoked the real history of Jewish resistance, using two of its characters – Set Roth and BJ Blazkowicz – to paint different yet complementary portraits of Jewish resilience and heroism.

     

    The Amazing Legacy of Phantasy Star IV’s Fallen Utopia

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    There are too many amazing JRPGs in the 16-bit era to crown one the best. But there is a pantheon that includes classics like Final Fantasy IV through VI, Chrono Trigger, Terranigma, Breath of Fire, and the Phantasy Star games. Phantasy Star IV for the Sega Genesis was easily the best JRPG on the system, a “phantastic” fusion of storytelling, 16-bit art, and gameplay.

     

    Kill for Prosperity and Not Much Else in 'Far Cry New Dawn'

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    New Dawn can’t and won’t revivify itself the way Assassin’s Creed: Origins did when that franchise started buckling under the weight of its own tired legacy. It’s a game that refuses to engage with itself mechanically, thematically, or narratively. As players, we’re left with two options: do the heavy lifting for a game that can’t and won’t, or once again embrace a hollow and half-hearted spectacle. Or we avoid it entirely, and let Far Cry 5’s nuclear winter linger a little longer in the hope that, when the skies clear, they’ll reveal a world that someone, somewhere, can bring themselves to care about.

    Far Cry New Dawn: The Kotaku Review

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    “You look dang familiar,” Hurk said to me the first time I saw him again in New Dawn. “As if we’ve done this before in some endless haunting loop from which neither of us will ever escape.” I see you too, New Dawn.

     

    Metro Is Gaming's Most Interesting Post-Apocalypse

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    Metro Exodus feels alive in a way that most of its post-apocalyptic siblings don’t, and that’s because it doesn’t settle for giving a player a post-apocalyptic sandbox. Metro instead crafts its own tale about despair and hope while giving players ample flexibility to find entertainment within that space.

     

    The Creepiest Part Of Resident Evil 2 Didn’t Involve Zombies

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    I learned about survival horror from the first Resident Evil, and loved how Resident Evil 2 took that to the next level with a city full of zombies after your neck. When I loaded up the recent Resident Evil 2 remake on my PlayStation 4, it felt like revisiting an old friend, if that old friend happened to be a festering zombie with its guts spilling out of it. At the same time, it’d been so long since I played the original, the experience felt fresh—or maybe rotten is the better way to describe the zombie-infested evening.

     

    Fear And Hunger is a brutal horror dungeon crawl

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    Here’s something for the weird crowd still lurking around on a Friday night – Fear & Hunger is a horror dungeon crawler by Miro Haverinen, originally launched in December (and is still growing) but flew under my radar until this week. It’s merciless stuff – you don’t level up. You run, as the monsters can often kill you in one hit, or leave you mangled. Limbs can be lost and save points aren’t safe. It’s rough around the edges, but it’s rare that an RPG can leave me genuinely unsettled and hurt, but hungry for more.

     

    Video game history is the future in The Eternal Castle

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    So why pretend to be a remaster? Because it wants you to think of the past. Computers, software... these aren't our future any more. They're our history. The Eternal Castle wants us to root around in it and understand how alienated we can become from our culture within the space of a few years. How many born after the year 2000 could operate DOS? How easy is it to even go play the original versions of the games The Eternal Castle is inspired by? Technology moves so quickly that two generations of console back can feel like the distant past.

     

    THE PARABLE OF JOEL: PRACTICING EMPATHY IN THE LAST OF US

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    Brook Johnson asks us to reconsider a misunderstood character.

     

    QUEER PAIN: THE MISSING AND THE MECHANICS OF SELF-HARM

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    A more prominent example is Vivian from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. In the original Japanese, Vivian’s character is portrayed as a sympathetic trans woman character, but this nuance was dropped in the American release. And there are also numerous positive portrayals of trans women in independent games that are invested in telling stories important to their queer creators: Dys4ia by Anna Anthropy, We Know The Devil by Pillow Fight, or Secret Little Haven by Victoria Dominowski, but rarely is that the case in games produced by larger studios led by non-queer creators.

    A game that intersects with all of these issues, and the game that I’m actually interested in talking about here, is The Missing: J. J. Macfield and the Island of Memories.

     

    Why I’m still thinking about Final Fantasy 8, 20 years later

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    Squaresoft’s 1999 PlayStation 1 game trades in series staples like castles and princesses for military academies and mercenaries, striking a strange balance between magic spells and sci-fi tech. It retains enough of the Final Fantasy franchise’s recognizable features, but deviates enough from its predecessors to earn its unofficial status as the “black sheep” of the Final Fantasy family. FF8 is a walking contradiction in so many ways, but the combination of technical achievement, memorable characters, and out-of-this-world plot twists left an impression on me. 20 years later, I’m still thinking about them all.

    'Final Fantasy VIII' Was Too Honest and Unsettling to be Beloved

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    Final Fantasy VIII remains the outlier of the Final Fantasies. Released between the PS1 jump of Final Fantasy VII and the theatrical throwback nostalgia of Final Fantasy IX, this game about teen feelings and the end of the world has always felt like a middle child. Despite being a success by all the metrics that we generally measure, like high sales and good reviews, the game isn’t exalted in the same way that its peers are. Celebrating its 20 year anniversary this last week, the game still hasn’t been ported to every platform on earth like the rest of its brethren. And I think that might have to do with what it’s about.

     

    Elite Dangerous pilot stranded in void for nearly three months is due to be rescued

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    A pilot in Elite Dangerous has been stranded in the deep black void beyond the known galaxy for months. The adventurous pilot, commander “Deluvian Reyes Cruz”, zoomed off the edge of the galactic disc in an attempt to set a new record and become the person who has travelled the furthest distance from Sol. But when he was nearing the point of no return, he sipped too greedily from his fuel tank. 42 days into his journey and he was now stranded, with not enough fuel to make the jump back. He’s been floating out there since November last year.

     

    The Nietzschean Gameplay of Resident Evil 2 (2019)

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    Thus Spoke Mr. X!

    In this video-essay/podcast hybrid, Ragnar and Michael discuss their experiences with the Resident Evil 2 Remake after a good 30 hours of playtime, with a special emphasis on structure, game design and a sense of pacing that's designed to continuously hone and steer the player's behavior and skills towards excellence.

    Help the channel out: https://www.patreon.com/RagnarRoxShow

     

    The Quiet Sadness of Mario Galaxy

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    “Where are the people?” resumed the little prince at last. “It’s a little lonely in the desert…” “It is lonely when you’re among people, too,” said the snake.

     

    The Making of Hitman 2's Miami Level | Game Maker's Toolkit

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    Stealth games are known for their open-ended and realistic levels. And no franchise does this quite like Hitman. In this video, I chat to IO Interactive’s Jakob Mikkelsen and Eskil Mohl about the making of the Miami level in Hitman 2

    Support Game Maker's Toolkit on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/GameMakersToolkit

     

    4 Ways Sonic Mania Improved Classic Sonic's Animation

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    Sure, there have been plenty of videos on Sonic Mania and why it's good, but how many videos have shown you how it improved the series' animation?

    Feel free to support me on Patreon or look forward to becoming a member of the channel (coming soon!). patreon.com/DanRoot

     

    What? THE SOUNDTRACK is evolving! | Revisiting Kanto Themes in Pokemon Gold and Silver

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    In this video I take a look at some of Pokemon Gold and Silver's rearrangements of tunes from the original Pokemon Red and Blue games. The rearrangements all have such a great sense of humor about them, as well as an acute awareness for how the player is going to encounter this music in game.

    PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/8bitmusictheory

     

    Designing AI Allies - How Games Create Great Party Members and Companions ~ Design Doc

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    AI ally characters are especially tough to design. Let's talk about how game designers can strike the balance between an AI that plays the game for you and one that ruins the fun.

    Support Design Doc on Patreon and help us release videos faster: http://www.patreon.com/designdoc

     

    Talking to Just Cause 2's Game Director about Creating the Grappling Hook

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    Avalanche Studios' Magnus Nedfors was Principal Designer on Just Cause (2006) and Game Director on Just Cause 2 (2010). Recently we spoke about the origin of the Just Cause franchise, the evolution of the grappling hook and what design the grapple taught Magnus about game design.

     

    Things I Missed From Previous Weeks

     

    Gay in the Game Industry: Research from the Field

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    My initial analysis shows that most video game companies are following an access and legitimacy perspective regarding LGBTQ diversity. Video game companies are hiring LGBTQ employees and performing visible shows of support, like marching in pride parades in order to increase their reputation and market to LGBTQ populations. As one respondent, Brandy*, a queer woman who worked at an HR department at a large game company put it: “Just everything [the company does] with regards to outreach and diversity is pretty much just to check things off the corporate checklist. It is never about individuals. It is never about understanding the problems that are being faced by your employees and by gamers. It is more along the lines of, ‘Okay, if we do this, then it will make us look good among a certain demographic and it will get us good publicity.’”

     

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

     

    Bowser's military hierarchy | Unraveled

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    Bowser needs to organize his military or else he might be committing a war crime. Brian David Gilbert is here to help solve his hierarchy.



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