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  • This Week In Gaming 3-17-2020


    E3 has been cancelled and how the industry is reacting, new information on the upcoming Xbox, Perrin Drumm on the legacy of Roberta Williams and being remembered for the wrong reasons, Jason Schreier interviews current and former employees about crunching at Naughty Dog, eurothug4000 on identity and culture seen through the clothing and graffiti of Splatoon and Jet Set Radio, Nintendo's indie showcase, Fanfare covers the women that pioneered video game music that are often overlooked or that were originally credited as men, Blake Hester tells the story of how the co-founder of Neversoft became a go to expert in debunking conspiracy theories, Archipel and Game*Spark's documentary on what was going on in the minds of the developers of Nioh 2 in the final months leading to release, Snoman Gaming spent months learning about the evolution and technicality involved in the world of kaizo Mario hacks, 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 Xbox Series X is basically a monster gaming PC



    Microsoft reveals more details about the hardware powering the Xbox Series X, and it's seriously impressive.


    Here’s a Recap of Everything Revealed at Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase Today


    Nintendo had another Indie World Showcase today, covering some of the independent games coming to Nintendo Switch. If you missed the whole presentation, here’s a neatly bulleted list of the announcements for you here:


    E3 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak



    The ESA is now looking into putting together an 'online experience' instead.

    How the industry is reacting to E3's cancellation


    E3 2020 is cancelled. Here's how the industry is responding.

    Geoff Keighley brings 40 free game demos to Steam amid cancelled trade shows


    During The Game Awards last year, producer and host Geoff Keighley tried out a new way of letting game fans at home try out a load of upcoming titles: the Steam Game Festival. In December 2019, the first event offered a limited-time chance to play 14 free game demos. Now, amid a host of trade shows cancelled due to the global coronavirus outbreak, the festival is coming back with a vastly expanded selection of demos.


    15 Baldur's Gate 3 Features You Didn’t See In The Demo


    Now that Larian has revealed Baldur’s Gate 3 gameplay we can dig into deeper features you didn’t see in the demo: custom characters, new crime systems, multiclassing, enemy AI, companions and darker story secrets. Based on our three hour Baldur’s Gate 3 demo, we hope this answers your questions.

    Yes, Baldur's Gate 3 will build on the series' existing story, say Larian


    Baldur’s Gate 3 is well out of the bag now and despite the lengthy gameplay reveal that Larian hosted at PAX East last month I have oh so many questions. So do you lot, it seems. Larian hosted an AMA yesterday to answer them all and though there were a few things they declined to answer, we’ve mostly rolled well on our Persuasion checks and come out with new details. Most importantly, yes, Baldur’s Gate 3 will continue the story from Baldur’s Gate and its sequel. It isn’t a direct sequel, but Larian say “we wouldn’t call it Baldur’s Gate 3 if there wouldn’t be a link.”


    Why the Developers of 'Amnesia' Waited 10 Years to Make a Sequel



    Frictional Games is returning to the universe that put the studio on the map, with the focus on making a good horror game, instead of worrying about being revolutionary.

    With Amnesia: Rebirth, Frictional Games wants to go beyond jump scares


    The horror studio is trying to avoid "low hanging fruit" for the sequel.


    Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE – Episode 1: Introduction (Closed Captions)


    Bringing together interviews with the game’s creators, artists and developers, Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE gives an exclusive look at some of the secrets behind the creation of one of the most anticipated videogames of all time.


    Turn-based deck-builder Fights in Tight Spaces announced for PC


    Publisher Mode 7 and developer Ground Shatter have announced Fights in Tight Spaces, a blend of deck-building, turn-based tactics and animated fight sequences in action movie settings. It will launch for PC via Steam in Q3 2020.


    That sure looks like the Icon of Sin in Doom Eternal’s new trailer


    Doom Eternal is resurrecting an old nemesis, it seems. The game’s new launch trailer includes a first look at a massive demon that appears to be Doom II‘s final boss, the Icon of Sin, albeit in sprightlier form.


    Super Mega Baseball 3 slides into homes this April


    Over multiple seasons your players can develop, age, and even retire in the new Franchise Mode.


    Function and Aesthetic in In Other Waters: An Interview



    In Other Waters is one of those games with instant visual appeal. Set underwater on an alien planet, a xenobiologist named Ellery Vas is out to find her missing partner after contact is lost with her research station. Breaking with convention, the player acts not as the game’s protagonist, but as her helper, assisting her by serving as the artificial intelligence within a special dive suit as they set out into watery lands unknown. Aided by a wordless user interface that must be navigated to both collect life forms and explore the ocean floor, its design relies on a perfect marriage between intuition and style. Its visual elements, evoking everything from Yellow Submarine to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, are irresistibly attractive. It’s exactly this melding of function and aesthetic that developer Gareth Damian Martin, with his background in graphic and motion design and procedural poetry, sought to build.


    Hello Games lighting The Last Campfire this summer


    The Last Campfire is the gamebaby of Steven Burgess and Chris Symonds, who worked together on LostWinds at Frontier Developments before joining Hello.


    The System Shock remake devs are making a Blade Runner remaster



    System Shock remake developer Nightdive Studios is polishing up another classic video game this year: Westwood's Blade Runner. It's a remaster rather than a remake, but it's still nice to see the sci-fi thriller getting some love and attention.


    Take aim at the undead in the demo for wild west platformer Shot in the Dark


    Oh, so it's zombies, I thought, disappointed. And then I played more of stylish platformer Shot in the Dark. Yes it is zombies, in the opening area at least, but it doesn't take long for the enemy design to become more and more inventive.




    The 1.5.0 update is the next major update for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, arriving alongside the A World Betrayed DLC and White Tiger Yan FLC. The patch also fixes issues raised by the community as well as introducing new campaign mechanics, units, characters, and more.


    Control's first expansion, The Foundation, will be out this month


    It's finally time to figure out what happened to Marshall.


    Watch 12 minutes of Borderlands 3's Guns, Love, and Tentacles campaign DLC


    Love is in the (decidedly chilly) air in Borderlands 3's second paid DLC episode - titled Guns, Love, and Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainwright and Hammerlock - and in the run up to its Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC release on 26th March, Gearbox has shared its opening 12 minutes of gameplay for those impatient sorts.


    EGX Rezzed postponed due to the coronavirus



    Video game event EGX Rezzed has been postponed to the summer because of the coronavirus outbreak.

    Gamescom 2020 preparations "continuing as planned"


    Rezzed, GDC and E3 may be canned, but Gamescom 2020 - due to take place later this summer - is still on the cards.


    GameStop's Employees Fear Its Coronavirus Policies Are Dangerously Flawed



    Last week, GameStop sent an email to its customers assuring them that the gaming retail chain was taking the necessary precautions in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Some employees, however, have shared concerns with Kotaku about the company’s ability to keep them and their customers safe.

    GameStop Has No Idea What to Do About Coronavirus


    Employees have been asked to buy their own cleaning supplies, and re-install demo stations after some stores took them down.


    Steam reaches a record 20 million concurrent users as coronavirus spreads



    Steam has broken records again with over 20 million online users and 6.2 million in-game players. The jump comes as thousands stay home due to Covid-19 and CS:GO experiences a surge in popularity.

    CS:GO reaches a million concurrent players – the most in its seven-year history


    Seven years after its release, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the most popular it’s ever been. Valve announced a milestone of 1 million concurrent players on Twitter, beating last month’s high of almost 917,000.


    A Korean politician has been targeted by her opposition for League of Legends boosting



    It appears South Korean politicians find boosting in League of Legends just as annoying as the rest of us. Our sister site, The Loadout, reports that a member of South Korea’s justice party has been called out for her gaming conduct six years ago.




    Capcom Pro Tour 2020: four tournaments cancelled and two postponed due to coronavirus



    Cpacom has announced some big news for this year’s Capcom Pro Tour.

    Coronavirus outbreak forces more changes to LoL and Dota 2 pro events


    The LCS and LEC spring finals will be held in closed studios, while the ESL One Dota 2 Major in Los Angeles is cancelled.


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


    As Naughty Dog Crunches On The Last Of Us II, Developers Wonder How Much Longer This Approach Can Last


    One Friday night last month, some artists at the video game studio Naughty Dog were working on their latest game when they heard a crash. A large metal pipe had fallen from above them and landed right next to their desks. If it had dropped a few feet closer, the consequences might have been dire. It was late, past 9 p.m., and the construction workers above had perhaps recklessly assumed that nobody was there. But at Naughty Dog, people were always there.


    Building Ori and the Will of the Wisps with 80 people working from home



    Moon Studios' Thomas Mahler reveals the challenges and solutions to managing a distributed development team


    Roberta Williams Is the World’s First Graphic Computer Game Designer—But She’s Famous for All the Wrong Reasons



    “I think we miss a lot when our sole attraction to Sierra’s legacy is fixated on Roberta, or even on Sierra’s larger cadre of female designers” says Nooney. “…it reinforces very conservative ideas about creative authorship and authorial intent.” In other words, neither Roberta nor any other talented game designer is solely responsible for the final product; it’s a group effort. The reason Sierra makes for such a compelling case is because it “reveals a history that intersects labor, class, and gender—a history the game industry very much needs to understand right now.”


    How Mick West Went From Making Tony Hawk's Pro Skater to Debunking Conspiracy Theories



    This is the story of Mick West: co-founder of Neversoft, and one of the most well-respected conspiracy theory debunkers around.


    Street Fighter V Has Finally Fixed Its Netcode—But a Modder Did It First



    Poor netcode is a cardinal sin for a modern fighting game. We live in a world of online play, and in a genre that’s all about competition, decent network coding is paramount. And early in Street Fighter V’s life, players began to notice something troubling: The online play was pretty rough, leading to a widespread belief that the netcode was somehow flawed. As it happens, there was a small but significant bug causing the problem, one that Capcom failed to fix for nearly four years. Now, the publisher has finally taken steps to address the underlying issue, but the community didn’t spend all that time waiting around. In fact, one unofficial fix, created by a modder named Altimor and released this January, solved the problem sooner—and, according to some fans, actually solved it better than the official patch.


    This Minecraft Library Provides a Platform for Censored Journalists



    Today is World Day Against Cyber Censorship. Launched by Reporters Without Borders in 2008, its goal is to raise awareness of how various governments around the world are censoring free speech online, whether it’s by blocking keywords on social media, removing individual articles and blogs, or in extreme cases, jailing and executing those individuals. With the WHO officially declaring the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, perhaps now is more important than ever to fight against government censorship—and one of the ways to do that is with Minecraft.


    How A Shovel Knight NPC Gets Made



    The nuts and bolts of how games are made is often lost on players. Yacht Club Games published an excellent blog yesterday that shows what it takes to flesh out the world of Shovel Knight. Forget playable characters; even obscure NPCs go through a rigorous process of conceptualization and design before being added to the game.


    In Memoriam



    But thinking about Breath of the Wild makes me emotional sometimes. It’s not because the game is THAT beautiful, though it is a good enough game to bring some to tears. No, Breath of the Wild makes me emotional because it’s just the sort of game my mother would love, and that I’d never be able to show her it.


    Conscientious Objectors: The Designers and Artists Tackling Real Conflicts in Virtual Spaces



    By showing him that games could have a positive social impact while still offering entertainment, the conversation changed the trajectory of Khonsari’s career. “I saw the impact that games like GTA had by being embraced by audiences as showing the power of gaming. I don’t think there’s anything as comparable to gaming that is as immersive. And entertainment is a fantastic path for gaming, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only path,” he said.


    Why 'Destiny 2' Isn't Working, And How to Fix It


    The carrot-and-stick approach is leeching the joy from Destiny.


    Thanks for all the fish!



    A lot of very successful 16-bit games didn’t even dare try to make the leap from older cart-based hardware to fancy turn of the millennium 3D consoles, and those that braved the most extreme forced makeover in all of gaming did so to varying degrees of success. Some were simply awful, others changed so much nobody could tell they had ever been related to anything else, then there were those that went the opposite way and changed so little they ended up as crude angular versions of fondly remembered classics, and a rare few effectively used this new technology to raise old favourites up to new heights.


    Farewell to my Dead Horse



    I know it’s weird to mourn a virtual creature who, in all honesty, was little more than a glorified bicycle.  But Risotto was the only constant in my world when I was first starting out. She was dumb and innocent and not capable/compentent in any capacity, yet she was still doing her very best.  But I think a bigger part of my grief stems from the fact that she wasn’t supposed to die. Not just in the cosmic sense of it not yet being her time, why god why, but because hardly anything in this version of Zelda really perishes.


    Fantasies of Fatherhood



    In contrast to past Dad Games, which have traditionally been concerned with the realities of fathering a teenager, or the way adventure can be stymied by a weaker child figure who must be coddled and looked after, Death Stranding seems intent on living out a kind of fathering fantasy, allowing the player to marginally parent less a child than the idea of a child. This child has no corporeality distinct from Bridges so there’s little question of its physical safety or comfort. “Honey please stop motorcycling our baby off cliffs,” an imaginary conversation with the missing mother figure might go. But there’s no one to tell you to care, no one who even thinks of the child as a human being. For the game’s intent, you’ve got little more than a wriggling Tamagotchi with radar saddled to your belly. A script you can punch numbers into, a slider to keep maxed out. When Bridges hits the bunk every night his child sits silently in its high tech cradle, “sleeping” the night away on the other side of the small room, passive until the very moment it needs to be re-activated.


    Jet Set Radio, Splatoon and Identity


    What statements do we make about ourselves through our clothing, our art and our bodies? What about the material belongings we keep around us?


    The Women who Pioneered Video Game Music


    Since the very first video games to feature background music, women have been at the forefront of industry and taking VGM to new places. We just don't talk about them as much.

    Support Game Score Fanfare on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/gamescorefanfare


    Elements of CONTROL [Spoilers]


    This is a video review and critique of CONTROL, a mind-bending third person action title from Remedy. It looks deep into the uniquely strange vibe of CONTROL's world, along with its uncanny similarities to Max Payne and F.E.A.R. Spoilers Throughout.


    How Does Wolfenstein: Youngblood Compare to Previous Wolfensteins? [Spoilers]


    This is a video review and critique of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, a co-op spin-off from the main trilogy of modern Wolfensteins. It tries to look at whether it's gained more than it's lost when by pivoting from a linear, story-driven shooter to a nonlinear casual shooter with a social emphasis or whether that shift drags it all down. Spoilers throughout.


    The Outer Worlds in Close Critique [Spoilers]


    This is a full-spoiler critique of the Outer Worlds, a dark corporate satire wrapped up in a bright RPG package. It looks at the contrast between how the world treats its characters and how the world treats its players, as well as asking how different the game is from Fallout 76 anyway.

    If you enjoyed this video and want to contribute to the production of others like it, please consider donating through the crowdfunding website Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/noahcaldwellgervais


    The Genius of Prey's Gloo Cannon | Game Maker's Toolkit


    You know I love a good multipurpose game mechanic. Prey’s Gloo Cannon is one of the best. Let my tell you why. There are no major spoilers for Prey in this video, so please do watch it if you've yet to try the game.

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


    How Level Design Can Tell a Story | Game Maker's Toolkit


    Can a video game level tell a story? In this video I look at a bunch of examples and best practices for embedding narrative elements into the very spaces and places we visit in games. We’ll tackle environmental storytelling, evocative architecture, and contextualising player identity.


    How Classic Resident Evil Came Back From the Dead


    Thank you for checking out my video essay on the Resident Evil series.  This is an analysis of the whole series and how the classic game mechanics have been translated to the newest games.  There will be minor visual spoilers for the series as a whole.


    My Kaizo Mario Journey


    It's been months in the making, but here is the breakdown of my quest to become good at playing Kaizo Mario Rom Hacks. Let's talk about the evolution and mind-blowing technicality involved in the world of kaizo. Enjoy!



    Inside Nioh 2


    What goes on the mind of a creator, months before the release of a new game?

    Around a series of conversations with Nioh 2 director & producer Fumihiko Yasuda, we took a glimpse in the final months of development of the game, a sequel to the worldwide success achieved to the first title he directed, released in 2017.

    In addition to Yasuda, we discussed with art director Hirohisa Kaneko and sound director Yojiro Yoshimatsu, while attending voice recording session with lead actor Naoto Takenaka or taking a stop at Sony Interactive Entertainment to pay a visit to a fellow producer, Masaaki Yamagiwa, behind the Bloodborne, an iconic title in the Soulslike category.

    A collaboration between Archipel and Japanese gaming media Game*Spark.


    Why Brutal DOOM's Creator Won't Play DOOM Eternal


    Brutal DOOM is one of the most acclaimed DOOM mods ever created, adding buckets of blood, new weapons and melee finishers to the classic DOOM experience.


    How Prince of Persia Defeated Apple II's Memory Limitations | War Stories | Ars Technica


    For today’s episode of War Stories, Ars Technica sat down with Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner to learn about the challenges he faced while bringing his ambitious vision for the game to life. As the 1980's wound down, Mechner found himself fighting against not only the limitations of the Apple II hardware but the impending death of the platform itself. Decades later, Prince of Persia remains a classic example of how the constraints of early gaming led to solutions that advanced the artform.


    Half-Life 2 Developers React to 50 Minute Speedrun


    Ride along with original Half-Life 2 devs Adrian Finol, Robin Walker, and David Speyrer as they laugh (and cry) while watching and reacting to speedrunner waezone's blistering fast run through the iconic Half-Life 2.


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


    When can Mario retire? | Unraveled


    Mario has been working hard since 1981, so Brian David Gilbert unraveled when he'll have enough coins to finally kick back on that beach chair in Boca.


    Things I missed from previous weeks


    Where in North Dakota is Carmen Sandiego?



    When I discovered the game decades later as a minor footnote on Wikipedia, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Of all of the states in the U.S., why NORTH DAKOTA? Additionally, there didn’t seem to be a copy of the game accessible online, nor any in collector’s hands, meaning that a Carmen Sandiego game was, ironically, missing.

    The following article is based on a series of interviews I conducted in 2016, when I traveled to Minot and sat down with many of the local teachers who worked on the game, as well as to recover a file box full of artifacts related to its development. I’ve asked my friend and video game historian David Craddock to tie all of this together into an eloquent narrative, worthy of one of his history books. Enjoy!

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