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    This Week In Gaming 2-4-20


    Nvidia's streaming service is live and Patrick Klepek looks at it as potentially being what people wanted from Stadia, Nic Reuben on Disco Elysium's new hardcore mode as a meaningful exploration of poverty, Archipel meets with SWERY for an Osaka drinking tour, Zack Kotzer considers how the themes of Death Stranding fit into Kojima's love and frequent use of Reagan-era action movie iconography and his anti-war beliefs, Justin Reeve examines the architecture of The Outer Worlds, Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous and The Wonderful 101 Remastered Kickstarters launch, Dustin Bailey looks at the project to preserve 38,000 flash games, Writing on Games discusses the games of Keita Takahashi, Errant Signal plays three interesting indie games, new trailer for Final Fantasy VII, The Game Overanalyser explores the ways that video games confront loneliness, 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)


    (Any links or embedded posts not showing up correctly seems to currently be an issue with the Chrome browser)


    FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Theme Song Trailer (Closed Captions)


    Shine bright and watch the new Theme Song Trailer of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, arriving worldwide April 10, 2020. In this trailer, you will dive further into the adventures of Cloud, Tifa, Aerith and Barret in the City of Midgar.


    Crusader Kings 3 introduces us to new Lifestyles, and brings back some favourites


    A new Crusader Kings 3 video developer diary explains how Lifestyles are going to work in this third instalment of the series. It’s a new and improved system that’s pretty different from Crusader Kings 2 – featuring proper skill trees so you can better shape your character to be the way you want them to be.


    The Ninja Robot Metroidvania Kunai Is Coming to Switch and PC This Week


    Kunai, the latest in a long line of contenders to the Metroidvania throne will be released this week on the Nintendo Switch and PC. Developed by TurtleBlaze and published by The Arcade Crew, Kunai sees you play as Tabby, a ninja tablet whose mission is to defeat the evil A.I. Lemonkus, stop the robot uprising, and rescue mankind.


    Switch mech shooter Daemon X Machina is heading to PC next week


    PC players hankering for a spot of big stompy robot action are in luck; developer Marvelous has announced that previously Switch-exclusive mech shooter Daemon X Machina will be heading to Steam next week, on 13th February.


    The Behemoth announce a new Alien Hominid, ageing me tremendously


    Did you know Alien Hominid first appeared on flash portal Newgrounds in 2002? Do you also suddenly feel a sharp pain, as if all your bones had shattered into dust in an instant? Flash games might be dead and buried (for the most part), but one of its most enduring legacies is about to make a screaming, toothy comeback. Only a whole eighteen years after the head-munching rascal’s debut, The Behemoth are bringing him back in Alien Hominid: Invasion.


    Florence’s sweet, subtle story coming to Nintendo Switch and PC


    Florence, originally published on iOS and Android devices in 2018, will be released for Nintendo Switch and Windows PC and Mac via Steam, GOG, and Mac App Store on Feb. 13. It’ll cost $5.99 when it’s released.


    Oh huh, King's Bounty 2 looks more like a modern RPG than I'd expected


    I’d fully missed the quiet announcement of King’s Bounty II last year so today I am surprised by: 1) its existence; 2) how serious it looks; 3) how much it looks like a modern RPG with an over-the-shoulder camera. King’s Bounty is a tactical turn-based strat-o-RPG of the genre you might know best from Heroes Of Might & Magic (though KB predates HOMM), with wee magicmen running around the tiles of a world map. King’s Bounty 2 still looks traditional in its battles, shuffling armies around hex grids, but the overworld is now a full-on world we wander through on foot with a view hovering over the hero’s shoulder. Huh! Weird! Come see in this new video dev diary.


    Black Book trailer reveals a shadowy world of Slavic myths and card-based combat


    The upcoming adventure-RPG tells the tale of a young witch battling demons and destiny for the life of her beloved.


    If you miss classic Rainbow Six strategy, Door Kickers 2 will be out this summer


    Door Kickers 2: Task Force North, originally announced in 2016, is still in development. The pauseable real-time tactical title from KillHouse Games went silent for a while, but a new trailer has it set to be released in the second quarter of 2020.


    Interview: CD PROJEKT Red’s John Mamais talks Cyberpunk 2077’s creation, VR, DLC, Nintendo Switch, and more



    We talked about the creation of the futuristic world in which the game is set, cyberpunk inspirations, possible third-person perspectives, immersive sound design, censorship issues in Australia, and the potential (or lack thereof) for a Cyberpunk 2077 release on Nintendo Switch and a VR version.


    Inkle Studios' next game is an Arthurian story


    Early this month, the studio behind the archaeological language adventure Heaven’s Vault tweeted out seven words teasing their next project. At the time, the story-focused Inkle Studios had only this to share: “swords, anguish, Britain, unrequited, forests, hope, and revenge.” As of today we’ve still got no imagery to go with all the teasing but we do have some more words and they’re much less abstract this time.


    Granblue Fantasy: Versus - Launch Date Announcement Trailer


    Granblue Fantasy: Versus is coming to North America for PlayStation 4 on March 3, 2020!


    Ben and Dan finally delve into the Lair of the Clockwork God this month


    Once, long ago, Size Five Games’ Ben-and-Dan ’em up Lair of the Clockwork God was gunning for a Summer 2019 release. But last July, Size Five pushed the release back into late 2019, perhaps even 2020. There was a bit of last-minute tuning to do, sure – but more than that, Dan was worried his plucky platformer might struggle for air. Last year had a few bangers – and beneath the likes of Death Stranding, Call of Duty, Jedi: Fallen Order n’ that, who’d pay attention to a silly little puzzle-platformer?


    MechWarrior 5 has better modding tools and DLC on the way


    The journey isn’t over for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, which will see at least two paid DLCs and some free updates in the coming year. Piranha Games president Russ Bullock and producer Alex Garden discussed upcoming features for Mercenaries in a recent livestream, and it sounds like modders in particular are getting some love in the next few updates. The first piece of paid DLC for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is currently planned for April, Bullock said, and the biggest element of that is going to be a “much more robust, free-form career mode.”


    Every Flash game disappears forever in 2020 – but this project has preserved 38,000 of them



    In 2020, Flash dies for good. Adobe’s media format defined a certain era of the internet, but security vulnerabilities and HTML advancements have rendered Flash obsolete. Adobe announced the end of support way back in 2017, and all major browsers will remove Flash entirely by December 31, 2020. When that happens, tens of thousands of Flash games will be gone from the internet forever.


    Blizzard’s updated policy gives it ownership of all custom games and mods created in its games



    Blizzard has taken steps to ensure it owns any custom game that spawns out of Warcraft 3: Reforged or any of its other games.

    The outrage over Warcraft 3: Reforged, explained


    Outdated gameplay footage, a greedy EULA and missing features turned players against Blizzard's remaster.


    Nintendo Switch Hacker Busted, Also Pleads Guilty To Child Pornography Charges



    21 year-old Ryan Hernandez, aka Ryan West, plead guilty last week in a U.S. District Court in Seattle to charges related to the 2016 theft of “confidential Nintendo files related to its consoles and games”. When his home was raided by the FBI last year, though, they also found “more than one thousand videos and images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.”


    Sega Europe Ditches Plastic Game Boxes On PC, Everyone Else Should Follow


    After what I guess was a trial run with Football Manager last year, Sega Europe has made the decision to make all the boxes for its PC releases cardboard. They’ll be made from 100% recycled materials, and will in turn be 100% recyclable themselves.


    Steam has set a record after hitting its highest player-count ever


    Steam has just broken its own record for number of concurrent users this Sunday.


    Rockstar Co-Founder Dan Houser Is Leaving The Company



    Dan Houser, who along with his brother Sam founded Rockstar and has been one of the most important figures in video games over the last 20 years, will be leaving the company next month.


    Discord cuts its library and activity feed to stay “fast and clean”



    Discord’s been trimmed down a little in order to stay fighting fit. Two of the voice and text chat platform’s bigger features have now been removed as part of a goal “to improve Discord with new features that don’t make it bulky and take away from the core chat experience”. This means the Activity Feed and Library are now gone.


    Is Nvidia Building the Thing People Actually Wanted From Stadia?



    Nvidia's streaming service has quietly existed since 2013, but these days, it can stream the games you already own on Steam.


    PC gamers in China are getting free porn games to encourage them to stay inside



    As the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China continues to make headlines, residents in affected areas have been advised to avoid travel, avoid contact with others, and stay home. If there’s one thing that can encourage videogame fans to stay inside, it’s pornography, so one Steam developer is giving away its racy, flagship title to Chinese players.




    Kentucky schools ban Fortnite esports – “there is no place for shooter games in our schools”



    As schools around the world invest in esports programs, one US state has banned Fortnite from its own efforts in multiplayer games – though it’s not exactly clear if it has the authority to do so. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has taken issue with Fortnite’s depiction of gun violence. The group’s commissioner told school officials earlier this week that “there is no place for shooter games in our schools.”


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


    Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous


    Owlcat Games is back on Kickstarter with a new RPG set in the Pathfinder universe – the Age of Lost Omens, the setting we love so much! We want to thank all the backers and contributors who helped us create our previous game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Now it’s time to craft a new epic adventure together!


    The Wonderful 101: Remastered


    PlatinumGames' classic Unite Action Game, self-published and heading to multiple platforms!


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


    Can a solo indie developer use ray tracing in their game?



    Zeng Xiancheng on why the realistic lighting technique is not solely the realm of AAA developers


    The Rod Fergusson Interview: How Gears of War's Studio Head Earned His Reputation as the "Closer"



    "They build the games. I just try to give them a path."


    The mass Twitch exodus: Why streamers are leaving



    A few years ago, if you were a streamer, you were on Twitch — simple as that. Outside of a few select content creators, everyone who wanted to be a streamer had to use Twitch’s platform. It was the only viable game in town. But over the last year, the streaming landscape has changed. Twitch still remains the largest streaming platform, but some of its biggest creators are signing exclusive contracts with platforms like Mixer, Caffeine, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming.

    Which leaves fans with a question: Why? The answer is a lot more complicated than you might think.


    It's Kojima Time



    To Hideo Kojima’s credit, most of his career has been trying to synthesize reactionary Reagan-era action movies like Rambo and Escape from New York into his personal anti-war beliefs. Can you at once feel disappointed by the sundowning of the anti-nuclear movement while taking perverse excitement in The Road Warrior’s wasteland? Yes, but you’re also at liberty to overthink it. And in Kojima’s case the Metal Gear games are a captivating confession of these conflicting emotions. You are the cool violence guys fighting to keep the world safe, but you’re also pawns of clandestine market manipulators who profit off the same danger that thrills you. With these secret strings exposed, with no opportunity to be a hero, the only real solace for these soldiers is death.


    Master of Orion



    Given the shadow which the original Master of Orion still casts over the gaming landscape of today, one might be forgiven for assuming, as many younger gamers doubtless do, that it was the very first conquer-the-galaxy grand-strategy game ever made. The reality, however, is quite different. For all that its position of influence is hardly misbegotten for other very good reasons, it was already the heir to a long tradition of such games at the time of its release in 1993. In fact, the tradition dates back to well before computer games as we know them today even existed.


    Forget Sephiroth, Final Fantasy 14’s Emet Selch is the series’ best villain



    It’s intentional: the way he walks away from the camera, toward a monstrous wall of flames as the ominous music crescendos, mirroring one of the most iconic scenes in games. But where Final Fantasy 7’s Sephiroth marched, Final Fantasy 14’s Emet-Selch almost drags his feet. His back is hunched, as it usually is; as if there is an invisible force weighing him down.


    The Quiet, Enduring Success of The Lord of the Rings Online



    Lord of the Rings Online recently launched its seventh expansion to a complete lack of fanfare outside of its fanbase and a few hardcore MMO sites. As a franchise, The Lord of the Rings is as strong as ever, with a TV series coming to Amazon Prime in 2021 and a vague new MMO also on the horizon. But LOTRO has long since dropped from the headlines even as WoW Classic briefly dominated them and rekindled an interest in yesteryear’s MMOs. So what’s kept a game that launched in 2007 popular enough to still receive regular updates even as so many of its contemporaries have died off? For many players, it’s not the battles or the game’s mechanics — it’s the simple joys of living in the world of Middle-earth.


    'Kentucky Route Zero' Pays Off on Nine Years of Hope and Doubt



    A masterful exploration of shame, debt, magic, and capitalism comes to its surprising conclusion.

    The Tragedy and Mystery of the ‘Best Game of the Decade’


    Now that the fifth and final chapter of Kentucky Route Zero is out, we know how it ends—and have more questions than ever.

    Busy and Poor: The Gentle Violence of Kentucky Route Zero


    Kentucky Route Zero is not a violent game: it has no swords, no guns, no combat. It’s not a traditional horror game, either, with no jump scares or gore or monsters. And yet… it is a game about violence, and a game that uses horror elements to drive its themes home.


    Why 'Loom' Remains the Hidden Gem of Lucasfilm Adventures



    In The Secret of Monkey Island, the player meets Cobb, a dopey pirate wearing a badge that says “Ask me about Loom.” Any attempt at a conversation will be met with monosyllabic responses, but when one asks him about Loom, his eyes lit up and he erupts:


    Some Things Last Forever



    Something similar seems to have happened in The Outer Worlds. Take a while to explore your surroundings in the game and you’ll come across plenty of boards, patches and portables. The story goes that colonists from Earth set up a series of settlements in a distant star system known as Halcyon. The majority of these were filled with prefabricated units meant for temporary accommodation. The company town called Edgewater provides a perfect example of this. They were only intended for use while things got up and running, so these buildings were presumably going to be replaced at some point, but nobody appears to have gotten around to pulling them down. I guess they just became the new norm. While it might seem strange to permanently live in a portable, some people apparently didn’t even bother to leave their colony ships. Groundbreaker was turned into a space station. The place is falling apart after decades of such adaptive reuse, though. The same could be said about the capital of the colony. The residents can be seen trying to make the city look presentable, but they can’t hide the fact that Byzantium is badly weathered and worn out. There’s only so much that you can accomplish with a coat of paint.

    Socialism in One Solar System


    Upon release this past fall, The Outer Worlds gained attention for its skeptical attitude toward capitalism. In the future imagined here, people live in Halcyon, a colony spread across a number of planets in a distant solar system. Halcyon was developed and is now owned and managed entirely by a handful of corporations (there is no independent government) and the results for most people living in the colony have been disastrous. The Outer Worlds routinely highlights the impacts of corporate governance on society through the colony’s persistent problems with ecological breakdown, gross inequality, heinous working conditions and malnutrition, among other issues. Its tone is irreverent throughout, but the game has capitalism squarely in its targets.


    The Beautiful Lies of 198X



    Video games are often cited as a means of escapism, an entertainment medium you go to in order to lose yourself in and forget about the troubles of the world at large. And while that’s an overly reductive way of looking at games, it’s undeniable that that’s one facet of the form. It’s why you hear about games being immersive all the time – losing yourself in a game is seen as a virtue. Sometimes we need to escape to somewhere else, where even though the stakes seem higher, there’s very little consequences for you in the real world except loss of time. But even then, the goal-oriented nature of most games allow us to feel like we’re progressing even when we really can’t. Feeling stuck in life can be absolutely debilitating, but at least in games, we can see the goal and make it there. This is the crux of what 198X is about: taking control when you have none.


    Arkham Asylum Handled Lore Better Than Most Batman Stories – By Ignoring It



    Arkham Asylum doesn’t begin with a lore dump. It doesn’t ask the player to relive the tragedy of the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne — perennially dead parents of young Master Bruce. We don’t get an elaborate scene that shows the rise and fall of the criminal Joker, or his transformation from a small-time schlub into a big-time clown. We’re plopped right down into a world in which Batman and Joker are at odds with one another, the rotting Gotham already exists as a living, breathing supervillain factory, and Arkham Asylum works as a trap to filter out the most devastating among them. There’s no buildup. There’s no elaborate construction. We’re given brute facts and asked to adapt to them. This, I think, is the best way to create a story in a video game.


    The Sacred Engine



    Winters in New York City can be long and brutal, particularly so for our homeless population. An average winter night finds thousands forced to make do without shelter, suffering the city’s often below-freezing temperatures. Some make camp in the subways, the only warm public places that stay open all night and won’t automatically kick them out. Every morning, commuting New Yorkers bundle up and head out to work. We nervously peer into car windows as the train pulls up to make sure we don’t stumble onto some sleeping itinerant. We ignore their requests for loose change and do everything to avoid their gaze as we rush off to our classes or our jobs. We keep our distance from the subway cops who mutter into their walkies as they nudge blanketed sleeping figures with their boots. This is the stark reality of winter in the city, a reality we grudgingly accept as long as we’re not the ones left out in the cold.


    Playing Celeste's Farewell DLC is a masterpiece of High Resolution Play



    Happy Second Birthday Celeste! I'm late again, I know. But thanks to the Farewell update released last September, Celeste is imprinted on my 2019 as much as it was the year before. Because Farewell is brilliant.


    Why I love failing in Disco Elysium



    RNG can make you fail even mundane tasks in Disco Elysium, which opens the door to surprising story moments.

    Disco Elysium’s Hardcore Mode is just one way games can meaningfully explore poverty


    Last week, the haunting and hilarious Disco Elysium added an extra difficulty setting called ‘Hardcore True Detective Mode’. On the surface, it seems like a fairly standard set of tweaked parameters. More demanding dice roles to shaft dear old Harry Du Bois at every opportunity.


    Blips 5: Kings, Robocops, and Clay "Comedy" Games


    Today we look at.... "comedy" games, kind of? Or at least, a series of games that all have a humorous bent to them, to one degree or another. Look, y'all want themed episodes and I'm meeting you halfway.


    The Rise and Fall of Soldier of Fortune


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

    During the 90s and early 2000s, few other pastimes were scrutinized more for their violence than video games. Spurred on by the bloody excesses of titles like Mortal Kombat and Doom, a generation of lawmakers, politicians, and parents took it upon themselves during this period to highlight the medium’s seeming depravity, and try to hide it from developing minds. To them, the thematic content that the video game industry explored was bad enough on its own – but its willingness to sell this subject matter to children warranted immediate action.


    Wattam: Keita Takahashi and the Power of Play


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

    The games of Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy) have predominantly focused on allowing us to reexamine the world around us, to use play to convey a message of hope about our future. This vision, however, always ends up clashing with the financial realities of game development and industry at large, leading to a palpable feeling of frustration or cynicism within a lot of that same work. With his latest release Wattam, however, it seems Takahashi has been able to fully realise his ideal of creating a game that, through play, allows us to confront loneliness, isolation and inertia in the face of incomprehensible chaos; envisioning a utopia where differences are celebrated and everyone is on an equal playing field... as well as being as pure a celebration of nonsense as you could probably imagine. Let's take a look at Keita's trajectory as a game developer and see how, beyond its cutesy aesthetic, Wattam is perhaps his most optimistic game to date.


    Alone Together | How Video Games Confront Loneliness


    In this video, we examine How video games can address themes of loneliness and isolation, by bringing us together using technology. It uses Sherry Turkle's book Alone Together to analyze how games can get us to reexamine our relationship to technology, and how unity can be found in recognizing our mutual struggles.


    Making Shovel Knight's Signature Moves | Game Maker's Toolkit


    Making a signature move for your platforming hero is hard work: just ask developer Yacht Club Games, who has had to make four of them for Shovel Knight, Plague Knight, Specter Knight, and King Knight. In this video, I talk to Yacht Club about the design decisions behind these iconic platforming actions.

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


    History Respawned: Anno 1800


    John takes us through Anno 1800, the latest in the city-building series. For the most part, it seems a great match of gameplay and mechanics. Will John succeed in finding a foothold in the New World he can use to keep the quaint city of Ditchwater afloat?


    Trying to Untangle Death Stranding [Full Spoilers]


    This is a video critique of Kojima Production's first major release, Death Stranding. It looks at the strange creative choices the game makes and tries to consider what they mean and how they might've come about. It ties Death Stranding into a number of other pieces of media in different genres with which it resonates. If you want an analysis or a full-spoiler review, this is your video.


    Blade Runner Review


    The Blade Runner review covers the 1997 Westwood adventure game that was recently re-released on GOG with restored content. Enhance.

    Support the channel at: https://www.patreon.com/mandaloregaming


    An Osaka drinking tour with SWERY


    We met with game creator Hidetaka ‘SWERY’ Suehiro, also known as the “drinKING”, who took us on a drinking tour of his favorite locations in his native Osaka, exploring the lesser-known north side of the city.


    Gish - Designing An Indie Game Cult Classic


    Become a PATRON to unlock more videos https://www.patreon.com/noclip

    To celebrate the 15th Anniversary update of Gish, we sit down with Alex Austin and Edmund McMillan to talk about the award-winning physics platformer that took the indie-game scene by storm, years before people were buying indie-games.


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