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    This Week In Gaming 3-3-20


    Jacob Geller on the organic moments of wonder in the work of Fumito Ueda, Baldurs' Gate 3 gameplay reveal, People Make Games looks at the game that inspired Minecraft, Jacob Farmer reflects on the way that treating Read Dead Redemption 2 more as a simulator brought him closer to his past and present, Samuel Horti profiles developer (80 Days/Sable) and writer (Horizon Zero Dawn/Sunless Sea) Meghna Jayanth, GDC cancellations affects on devs, Khee Hoon Chan examines Hong Kong protest games and the game jam devs exploring the Coronavirus outbreak, Prem Sylvester on the visual language of war games and how they affect player perspectives on war, Jess Cogswell considers how we interact with strangers after playing through three games with a focus on being a service worker, Ashley covers how Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers rewards long term fans for caring about the lore and history of the game, 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)


    Baldur's Gate 3 looks great even when everything is going wrong


    Our first big look at Larian's Forgotten Realms misadventure full of mind flayers and dice rolls.

    Baldur's Gate 3 Interview & Preview!


    Delrith Interviews & Previews with the Founder & Game Director Sven Vincke regarding the brand new Baldur's Gate III!

    How Larian is keeping Baldur's Gate 3 weird


    Writer Adam Smith talks about playing with the conventions of D&D, and player expectations, when writing a gigantic RPG.

    Larian's gorgeous Baldur's Gate 3 looks to be a game of groundbreaking systemic depth


    It's early days for Baldur's Gate 3. An end of year release window seems to have leaked but there's "no exact date" for when it's coming out, according to developer-publisher Larian Studios, of Divinity: Original Sin and Original Sin 2 fame. And when it does come out - simultaneously on Google Stadia and Steam - it'll be in early access first. Understandably, early access can seem a bit icky to some, but Larian's argument for it seems fair enough: the game needs en-masse testing from its own audience if it's ever going to come together, and having now seen a marathon, over three hours long presentation of live gameplay, I can see why. Baldur's Gate 3 is a game with an extraordinary level of systemic depth and remarkable complexity. Across the board it's a game that'll need time. Time to polish, time to balance, and quite a bit of time from the player, I'd imagine, to really get anywhere close to understanding and mastering its systems. But from what was shown of the game and what Larian has told us in our Baldur's Gate 3 interview, it'll be worth the wait - and then some.

    13 Things You Should Know About The Excellent-Looking Baldur’s Gate 3


    It was one of many disasters Vincke faced during a three-hour demonstration of Baldur’s Gate 3, a game that attempts to recreate the beautiful chaos that is playing D&D with your buddies. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a fantasy role-playing game made by Larian in conjunction with Wizards of the Coast, the company behind D&D, and like in any good tabletop game, failure can be very entertaining. Vincke’s characters died to critical hits, failed to kill a guard before he could alert the rest of his patrol, got stuck in a fireball trap, and got a game over on the final encounter thanks to an inconvenient bug that made enemies appear where they shouldn’t have been. Through failure after failure, Vincke kept cheerfully playing, thrilled to finally show off his game—bad dice rolls and all.

    Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access will start with 5 companions, more to come


    More companions will be added at a later date, and you’ll also be able to create your own character from scratch if you don’t want to choose one of the origin characters.

    Baldur’s Gate 3: Yes, you can bang all companions, but romance will be more than just a simple reward


    Sex and romance in Baldur’s Gate 3 should be a more complicated affair than a simple reward for saying the right thing or bringing your lover a shiny trinket.


    Valorant hands-on: How Riot plans to woo FPS diehards with the best netcode and anti-cheat


    Valorant, Riot's first departure from League of Legends, is a surprisingly traditional competitive shooter.

    Valorant: How Riot finally made something new


    But while Riot will soon be publicly earning the “s” in its name, the truth is that it’s actually been there for a lot longer than players might think — the studio just didn’t tell anyone. During a recent visit to Riot’s headquarters in Los Angeles, I was able to hear how Valorant’s long and winding development process started, from the developers who have been there every step of the way.


    Desperados 3 is the modern Commandos game stealth tactics needs


    Desperados III is openly derivative of the 1998 classic Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, a game I loved so much that my friends and I invented a real-life version in which we used a torch to represent enemy view-cones and took turns sneaking around my living room knifing each other. But after a few hours with a preview build of Desperados III, I don’t resent its open imitation of one of my favourite old PC games at all. In fact, I’m delighted it exists.


    Half-Life: Alyx gets extended gameplay videos


    Half-Life: Alyx releases at the end of the month and up until now, we’ve only seen some screenshots and one trailer. Today, Valve and IGN released 4 different gameplay videos showcasing the environment, mechanics, and other situations VR players will find themselves in.


    Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Gameplay | 5 Unmissable 4K Moments


    Our new Ori And The Will Of The Wisps gameplay - recorded in 4K on PC - shows off five unmissable moments, from a new Ori escape sequence to a boss fight with a giant wolf. Our in-depth Ori And The Will Of The Wisps reaction will appear on the channel soon, so enjoy this Ori gameplay for now.


    Here's how Star Citizen is planning to implement survival mechanics


    You'll need to watch your body temperature as well as hunger and thirst.


    Crusader Kings 3 details Lifestyles and all their weird perks


    Big ol’ kingdom manager Crusader Kings 3 has put out another development update and it’s a chunky one. This month, Paradox Interactive developers take a really deep dive on all of the Lifestyles—like classes, but for your management self, not combat self. There are five different Lifestyles that your ruler can specialize in, all with different perk trees and focuses that let you decide how you’ll keep an iron grip on your land and lords and all.


    3 Hours With Final Fantasy VII Remake: Thrilling, But Jarring



    If you’ve played Final Fantasy VII, you’re probably familiar with the Air Buster, a floating robot who resembles a vacuum cleaner. Air Buster, the game’s second boss, takes roughly two minutes to kill. He’s more of a tutorial to enemy weak points than a genuine threat (hint: use the Bolt spell). So it’s more than a little jarring to see the Final Fantasy VII remake turn him into a superweapon.


    SOMA devs release “I am Tasi” teaser trailer


    Frictional Games helped kick off the indie horror boom with the success of Penumbra and Amnesia, and provided one of the best horror games ever crafted with the underwater scares of SOMA. Now, the studio is starting to talk more explicitly about its new project, and has released a mysterious teaser trailer with the label “I am Tasi.”


    Iris and the Giant is a stylish roguelike CCG about a young girl and her demons


    The blend of CCGs, RPGs, and roguelikes is set in a beautiful imaginary world, and features some tough card-based combat.


    In Other Waters Uses Its Limitations to Enhance Gameplay Immersion


    The playable prologue demo for In Other Waters, the upcoming first effort from “one-man-studio” Jump Over The Age, begins with a xenobiologist seeking refuge in an antiquated diving suit inhabited by a mysterious artificial intelligence. Stranded in an alien ocean teeming with life, Ellery must work with the AI to explore, research, navigate, and otherwise uncover the secrets of the deep. And most importantly, you play as the AI, not the human biologist.


    Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - Official Trailer Ft. Will Poulter


    You've survived the raging South Pacific Seas, but a new nightmare is looming. Meet the brave souls who faced down the Man of Medan and prepare yourself for the inescapable horrors that will find you in the Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope!


    15 Minutes Of Wonderful 101: Remastered Switch Gameplay | PAX East 2020


    See direct gameplay of The Wonderful 101: Remastered running on the Nintendo Switch from PAX East 2020.


    Stellaris' diplomacy focussed Federations expansion is out next month on PC


    Paradox Interactive's 4X sci-fi strategy game Stellaris will be getting its previously promised diplomacy boost next month, when fourth major expansion Federations arrives on 17th March.


    Game Developers Conference Cancelled Due to Coronavirus Fears



    A decision that seemed increasingly inevitable, after companies like Sony, Microsoft, and others decided to drop out.

    CCP has canceled EVE Fanfest 2020 over coronavirus concerns


    CCP has said in light of coronavirus concerns, it has decided to cancel EVE Fanfest 2020.

    Indie developers affected by GDC postponement invited to apply for relief fund


    Last Friday, after multiple large publishers cancelled their appearances at the event, the yearly Game Developers Conference was postponed. Originally scheduled for March 16-20 in San Francisco, the conference has been postponed to “later in the summer” due to concerns about potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. GDC say they will refund the cost of passes to the conference to attendees but tickets to the event itself are hardly the only lost investment for smaller developers. Many may be unable to refund the cost of plane tickets, lodging, and other personal or business costs associated with preparing for a large industry event. Wings, in collaboration with several other indie game publishers, have opened applications to their relief fund for developers, which they say will be assessed based on “estimated impact.”

    'There's so much uncertainty': Indie devs are hurting after GDC's sudden cancellation


    When Game Developers Conference 2020 was cancelled last week, millions of dollars and countless hours of labor went up in smoke. Exhibitor booths, marketing materials, gear rentals, admission, flights, accomodations in one of the United States' most expensive cities, travel visas—the list of expenses just to participate in gaming's largest industry-facing event goes on and on. And though the aftershock of GDC's unexpected cancellation is felt across the entire games industry, few are feeling it worse than independent developers.


    Some Developers Don't Know Their Games Are Streaming on GeForce Now



    'The Long Dark' is the latest high-profile game to be removed from Nvidia's service. VICE Games found several developers unaware their games were even being featured.


    'Konami Code' Creator Kazuhisa Hashimoto Dies At 61



    Kazuhisa Hashimoto, veteran video game developer and creator of the famous Konami Code, died this week at the age of 61.


    GOG's New Refund Policy Is Extremely Generous



    PC marketplace Good Old Games announced a new refund policy today, and uh, it’s very kind. Maybe even too kind.




    This weekend's ESL Pro Tour event has no arena audience after health authorities revoked the license



    This weekend, the ESL Pro Tour Masters Championship stops at Poland’s Spodek arena for three days of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and StarCraft II matches in the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2020. The arena can hold 11,500 spectators but while IEM Katowice sold out, it has no crowd. Last night, barely 15 hours before the event started, Polish authorities revoked its mass event license due to concerns about that there coronavirus. The matches are still going ahead, just with no spectators. ESL say they will refund IEM tickets but can’t refund travel and accommodation costs.


    FIFA 20 esports qualifiers decided by Rock, Paper, Scissors when players can’t connect



    Another pro defaulted after he was unable to connect for three hours


    Counter-Strike's Chosen One: The Story of ZywOo


    To some, he’s the greatest Counter-Strike player in the world. To others, he’s the savior his region’s been waiting for. And to everyone else, he’s known simply as ZywOo.

    So who is this nineteen-year-old phenom, and how did he skyrocket to super stardom in the span of literally one year?


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


    Cyber Knights: a cyberpunk RPG


    Cyber Knights is a tactical RPG that plunges you and your team of hackers, mercs and thieves into the neon-soaked future of 2231.


    Gates Of a Ruined Empire


    Player-friendly, free to play and complex real-time strategy game in a mature fantasy universe.


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


    The Coronation of Meghna Jayanth



    The 80 Days and Sable writer opens up about her “mystical” process, rooting out white supremacy, and being a reluctant role model.


    How Quantic Dream defended itself against allegations of a ‘toxic culture’



    As mentioned, I spoke with 16 members of Quantic Dream’s staff. I talked with a large group over a video conference, and I also spoke with several over Skype calls. I did not visit the company in Paris, though I was invited to do so. I had permission to speak with employees from the company leadership, and I spoke with one employee in an interview that wasn’t arranged by the company.


    How to Make Games Funny: Three Designers Discuss Comedy Games



    When we discuss the different types of videogames on the market, many genres come to mind. Bullet hell, platformer, role-playing, first person shooter: these terms summarize a type of gameplay and tell us what to expect from its mechanics. But what makes a comedy game? In a medium that often defines itself by what it does and not what it says, it’s hard to establish criteria for a category that traditionally (in other formats, like film or literature) is delivered mostly through narrative and dialogue. A game like Portal 2, for example, may not be considered comedy mechanically, but it has characters like Wheatley and GLaDOS that carry the game’s sense of humor through their spoken lines. Would a game like Portal 2 be considered a comedy game, or is it a physics platformer that just happens to be funny? Does the distinction even matter if the definition includes both?


    Still fighting: meet the developers of Hong Kong protest games



    In light of the protests sparked by the unpopular extradition bill in the country, more games like Liberate Hong Kong have emerged. These are often rudimentary and unpolished, due to many being developed and published within a short time-frame - Liberate Hong Kong, for instance, was made in just two weeks - but they are still powerfully evocative. Liberate Hong Kong takes place at the heart of the protest at Argyle Street, replicating the tense standoff between the protesters and police. You play as an anonymous protester, decked in black clothes, yellow construction helmet, gas mask and a make-shift shield in the form of a stop sign. As you navigate through the barriers to collect canisters of tear gas, police officers shoot rubber pallets and rampage towards you when you get too close. This is exacerbated by the blinding strobe lights shone by the police, which makes it harder to navigate the streets, and is one real-life tactic used to disrupt the protest.


    How Asia's Global Game Jam Developers Are Exploring the Coronavirus Outbreak Through Games



    From cancellations of live music shows in China to overcrowded public hospitals in Hong Kong, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has heavily disrupted daily life in Asia. Face masks, hand sanitizer, and, for some reason, toilet paper have been sold out across pharmacies and retail outlets in many countries as fear of the virus has turned once-bustling cities into ghost towns. Lives have been put on hold, with more people staying indoors, and several businesses and schools have temporarily shuttered due to concerns around the epidemic.


    State of the Discourse: a survey of marginalized game designers on online discussion space



    In November of 2019, I published a survey and put out a call on Twitter for participants who were marginalized game designers. As someone who used to be very active on Google+ before its demise, I’ve been thinking for much of the last year about the lack of safe spaces for marginalized designers to talk about design without being drowned out, talked over, or actively pushed out by cisgender white men.


    A visual history of the many Xbox dashboards



    Each major design from the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, explained and rated


    Kentucky Route Zero Is the Rare Story that Sheds Light on the Experiences of Millennials of Color



    Like many people, I first played Kentucky Route Zero when the TV edition came out this past January. Despite its fame, it isn’t a game that immediately clicked with me and a few other first-time players I know. But, if it clicked, it interestingly clicked around the same time: during “The Entertainment,” the interlude between episodes two and three. I suspect it might be due to its discussions on family, class immobility and a debt experience that many millennials—especially people of color—can relate to so deeply years later.

    Look For Me Under Your Bootsoles


    We’re all haunted by something. Whether it’s people long since past, debt, or events we’d rather leave behind, our lives are constantly hounded by things that linger. The ever-present nature of these ghosts make them intangible, ethereal beings that yet somehow impact how we live our everyday lives. Kentucky Route Zero is all about these ghosts, but it’s also about the implicit truth that, despite being haunted, we all must keep going, keep living through the hauntings the best we can. Every scenario presented in the game is a glimpse into how everyday people carry on, a truth that we constantly need reminders of even today, when we’re haunted more than ever.


    The Four Faces of Doki Doki Literature Club



    The game isn’t perfect. However, even in the face of the game’s second act and Yuri’s full yandere switch, it provides one of the strongest depictions of mental illness I’ve ever seen in media. And that’s because, when it comes to the game’s slowly unraveling middle arc, we’re not looking in the right direction. Instead of sizing up the bizarre actions of our fellow club members, we should be looking at, as instructed, Just Monika.


    In My Waking Life



    Red Dead Redemption 2 made me confront, in more ways than one, my connection to the myth of the American West.


    I Love Giott. Thank You.



    Shadowbringers is an incredible experience. How incredible it is feels hard to convey, built as it is on so much of my emotional investment in this world. That investment itself built upon my own experience of being situated in it as it grows in complexity, scope and character, as my own position in it shifts. Even worse, an enormous portion of this is owed still (and in Shadowbringers I would say more than ever) to the in-universe apocalypse scenario that reflected the loss and rebuilding of the games original population and developers. I would say its easily the best Final Fantasy story that exists and honestly limiting it to the confines of its aesthetically-absorbing-but-slightly-airy brand identity diminishes it. It’s true that almost the entire DNA of the game is a Final Fantasy Best Hits album, but, well, I for one don’t believe in nature over nurture y’know.


    The Constructed Murk of War: 1917, Battlefield 1, and This War of Mine



    What depictions of warfare, rendered as entertainment, teach us through their visual language.


    For Fire Emblem Fates Forrest: what is lost when we fail to look critically?



    Fire Emblem Fates. That three-part game for the 3DS from 2016that, to many, diminished the successes of Awakening, was my entry tothe series. And I kinda loved it? In 2016 I wasn’t thinking critically about the games I played, I wasn’t even thinking that hard about my own gender. There was probably a newness to it all, and maybe it was also because the girl I was falling for was a fan. We exchanged each other’s cartridges to play the different versions so I can’t check, but I remember it felt like a big deal (to me) to play the second time through as girl Corrin. I wouldn’t have needed to give her an excuse, but I probably made one anyways.


    Heart Container: Talking to Strangers



    Growing up, my mother always told me not to talk to strangers- as did my crippling anxiety which, strangely enough, also took the shape of my mother. It might shock you that me, with my propensity toward oversharing online and my oftentimes overly eager politeness, had a very difficult time growing up due to social anxiety. Even now it acts as this sort of retractable leash, yanking me back unexpectedly or when I start to get too carried away.


    The Most Beautiful Moment of the Generation


    One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed.

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


    Game Animation Fundamentals Readability


    Continuing this mini-series looking at The Five Fundamentals of Video Game Animation, as proposed by Jonathan Cooper in his book:

    Please consider supporting the channel through Patreon to help improve the quality of research, editing, footage capture, animation and overall production of each episode: www.patreon.com/DanRoot



    The Hopes & Fears of Bringing Hades to Steam - Developing Hell #04


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

    Supergiant Games prepares to launch Hades on Steam Early Access after a year of exclusivity on the Epic Games Store. We embed as they tell us about their hopes, their many fears, and the surprising reality of how it all went down.


    The Wild Astrophysics that Outer Wilds Simulates


    Support the channel and watch more documentaries with Curiosity Stream! Look for science documentaries by Jim Al-Khalili for great complementary material to Outer Wilds: curiositystream.com/superbunnyhop



    Analysing the OTHER Missions in Hitman 2 (The Bank and Haven Island)


    Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Let's talk about the two DLC missions that come as part of Hitman 2's expansion pass—The Bank and Haven Island—and see how they play to Hitman 2's already impressive strengths, while also laying the groundwork for the potential future of the series.

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


    The Making of Sonic CD


    While Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara were working on Sonic 2 in the US, Naoto Ōshima was tasked to direct a completely new game: Sonic CD for Sega's Mega CD add-on.



    Understanding Dreams | Rethinking Game Design, Creativity and the Future of Art


    Dreams is a game that is trying to change how we think of game design, creativity and art, and in this video, we examine how dreams works, its ambitions as a project, as well as how it relates to the history of game design,. What we find is that it blends many of the ideas from indie games, art games and avant garde games, providing a platform to reignite our dormant impulse to create.


    The History of Spec Ops: The Line


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

    Few video game genres instill power and satisfaction as easily as the shooter. While players can’t raise hell in titles like Call of Duty on the same scale as they can in games like Civilization, the immediacy of the former’s gameplay has proven time and time again to be far more efficient of an endorphin rush. Decades after players were first able to do so in Wolfenstein, unloading one’s clip into an unsuspecting enemy is still sublime like few other experiences in the medium; an unequivocal act of domination bereft of drawbacks or emotional trauma.


    How Crash Bandicoot Hacked The Original Playstation | War Stories | Ars Technica


    For today’s episode of War Stories, Ars Technica sat down with Naughty Dog Co-founder Andy Gavin to talk about the hurdles in bringing the original Crash Bandicoot to gamers around the world. When Andy and his partner Jason Rubin made the decision to bring the action platforming genre into three dimensions, it required living up to their company ethos of “leaving no stone unturned” in the search for memory - even if it meant hacking Sony’s library code.


    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.

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


    The Game That Inspired Minecraft, But Never Made a Penny


    Before Minecraft, there was another game: Infiniminer.

    Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/PeopleMakeGames

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