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    This Week In Gaming 4-30-19


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    NetherRealm employees speak out about months of forced crunch and low pay during the development of multiple titles, People Make Games' new series The Games I Made has Peter Molyneux walking us through his entire career one game at a time, Satchell Drakes' short film on Night in the Woods, Jeremiah McCall discusses how and why games are a powerful tool for teaching and learning history, Megan Farokhmanesh learns of the second Stranger Things game Telltale was working on, Persona 5 The Royal receives first trailer and Cian Maher explores the mythology of the series, Riot files motion to block employees from taking legal action against them prompting employees to prepare to walk out, Writing on Games' Exploration of Star Citizen, Kate Willaert looks into the origin of the term gamer, 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)

     

    Here are the Thinblood abilities coming to Vampire The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2

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    Paradox has unveiled the first abilities for Thinbloods in Vampire The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, alongside a dose of lore. Players can look forward to gliding through the air, using telekinesis, and vanishing into the darkness.

     

    Persona 5 The Royal - Official Japanese Trailer

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    Persona 5 returns with all new content and a brand new character in Persona 5 The Royal. Coming to Japan October 31 and the West in 2020.

     

    Fire Emblem: Three Houses Introduces The Garreg Mach Monastery, Geralt, Sothis, Edelgard, Dimitri, And Claude

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    Earlier, we got a look at Byleth’s introduction, as well as a first look at Anna in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Famitsu has now posted the full feature on the game, including introductions to the other key characters, such as the protagonist’s father Jeralt, as well as the leaders of the eponymous three houses.

     

    Episode 2: The Heroes of Total War: Three Kingdoms

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    In this series, produced in association with SEGA, let's take a look at the heroes that make the next Total War setting so fascinating.

     

    Borderlands 3 trailer shows Amara’s skill tree

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    Borderlands 3 is going to have a Twitch extension called ECHOcast, which will let you inspect a streamer’s loadout as you watch, and get extra loot from playing along while streamers open special chests. That’s all well and good, but the announcement has also brought some glimpses at the interface, giving us some idea of what to expect from weapons and the new skill trees.

     

    A Personal Exploration of Star Citizen

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

    In which I attempt to put my scepticism to one side as I take the plunge into the increasingly enigmatic Star Citizen—judging the game as fairly as I can on its own terms. Come with me as I document my exploration of Star Citizen's universe—one of trains, glitches, Barthian literary theory and finding potential in the strangest of places.

     

    Nowpunk and the politics of the personal in Neo Cab

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    Neo Cab is that game you’ve seen about being an Uber or Lyft style gig-economy driver, set in a dystopian sci-fi future. It has been described as “neon-drenched” because that is the only way we have thought of to describe “thing that is cyberpunk” so far.

     

    How the Command & Conquer devs tamed the Barbarian for Conan Unconquered

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    We spoke to game designer Renato Orellana about how Petroglyph created a game with one of pop culture’s most ferocious characters

     

    Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus spill some intriguing new Death Stranding details

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    How the player will control hero Sam, the importance of connection and - mysteriously - a camera

     

    Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark finally, fantastically and tactically exits early acccess

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    Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark may not be the greatest strategy RPG in the world (I’ve not played enough make that call), but developers 6 Eyes Studio have produced a fine tribute. Leaving early access today after an active year of tweaking, tuning and adding new missions, it’s a strategy RPG in the style of Final Fantasy Tactics, probably my favourite game in its genre.

     

    A Plague Tale: Innocence - Uncut Gameplay Trailer

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    Available May 14: http://www.aplaguetale.com/shop

    Asobo Studio’s debut new IP, A Plague Tale: Innocence, premieres on May 14, taking you on an adventure through medieval, wartorn and plague-ridden France with siblings Amicia and Hugo. A new gameplay trailer showcases world-first footage of a brand new level, showing off a little more of what the game has to offer- careful use of the environment, puzzle-solving, and how light, darkness, and the rats are friend and foe in tandem. Amicia must make it to the University, past the Inquisition’s worst and through a town racked with chaos - all to find a glimmer of safety in this dark, brutal world.

    6 reasons we're excited for A Plague Tale Innocence

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    A Plague Tale Innocence is shaping up to be a pretty interesting game, albeit a deadly one. Here are six reasons we're excited for A Plague Tale Innocence.

     

    The Sinking City ‘A Delicate Matter’ gameplay

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    Publisher Bigben Interactive and developer Frogwares have released a 12-minute commentated gameplay video of The Sinking City titled “A Delicate Matter.”

     

    Vambrace: Cold Soul story trailer

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    Publisher Headup Games and developer Devespresso Games have released the official story trailer for upcoming adventure game Vambrace: Cold Soul.

     

    Escape zombies or become one in this 30-player FPS

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    In Pandemic Express, one player can spread the zombie infection to everyone else.

     

    Madden NFL 20's new career mode will take players from college to the pros

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    Electronic Arts announced today that the next Madden game is coming to PC in August.

     

    Observation isolates the player by turning you into HAL 9000

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    The team at No Code comprises of 11 people, the majority of whom are Scottish. Keeping in line with the narrative that all Scottish people are terrifying yet brilliantly technological-minded, the team has pulled together a wealth of experience and ideas to create Observation, a space-thriller where you play as a compromised AI aboard a space station where all kinds of hell is happening.

     

    Warhammer Underworlds: Online is bringing the tabletop game to PC

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    It's been at least five minutes since a new Warhammer game was announced, but thankfully Warhammer Underworlds: Online is here to plug the gap with its spin on the fantasy tabletop game. Take a look at the teaser above.

     

    Root Letter: Last Answer Sends Its Way Westward For PS4, Switch, And Steam In 2019

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    Publisher PQube Games announced that it is bringing over Root Letter: Last Answer, the updated version of Root Letter that adds a new live-action mode and new scenarios on PS4, Switch, and PC via Steam.

     

    Premature Evaluation - Sigma Theory: Global Cold War

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    So, in single-player, turn-based strategy game Sigma Theory, you are the head of intelligence for your chosen nation during a new cold war, ushered in by an era of rapid and sudden technological advancement. Countries across the globe have simultaneously discovered a brand new tech tree, which will unlock incredible new discoveries the likes of which have hitherto only existed in the most Deus Exish of our paperback science-fiction novellas. We’re talking transhumanism, robotic eyes that follow you around the room, singularities, bionics, hypnosis, space taxis, an algorithm that can predict the stock market – all of them are course-of-history bothering inventions, world-changing prizes to be unlocked by whichever nation can research them first.

     

    This new narrative noir adventure stars a 1950s private dick who is also a housecat

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    Blacksad: Under the Skin is based on an award-winning comic series.

     

    Car combat game Dark Future has a release date and trailer

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    Dark Future: Blood Red States is an adaptation of one of Games Workshop's non-Warhammer games, a post-apocalyptic game of Mad Max-style car combat. Auroch Digital's videogame version is due out on May 16 as they've announced with the trailer above.

     

    Mordhau sounds the charge into stores

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    Medieval multiplayer melee game Mordhau is out today, looking to split the difference between Mount & Blade: Warband, For Honor and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare with its blend of pseudo-realistic first-person brawling. Developed by Triternion, it’s a big-team multiplayer game (with an optional battle royale mode) for up to 64 players, with a focus on lethal, heavily armoured and messy close combat. While the game itself looks fine, the first wave of players are reporting some launch-day server troubles. Triternion have temporarily cut matches down to 48 players until this is fixed.

    Mordhau Is A Clunky Game For Swordplay Nerds That I Can't Put Down

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    Mordhau is a medieval multiplayer fighter named after a German sword technique from the Renaissance era in which knights hold their weapons by the blade and try to bash their opponents heads in using the pommel. Like its namesake, Mordhau is slow, awkward, and bloody, but for some reason, I want to keep playing.

     

    Hitman 2 expands its competitive Ghost Mode today

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    The true joy of being Ian Hitman is not just in the hitting of men, but in doing it properly, which is what makes Hitman 2‘s competitive Ghost Mode so compelling – it gives you an audience. Today, Io Interactive rolled out a big update to the competitive mode, letting players compete in Santa Fortuna. They’ve also added a bundle of new ghost-busting special items that allow you to disrupt your rival, making for some potentially comical Spy Vs Spy action. For those still focused on single-player mastery, they’ve also reworked the rules for earning those coveted Silent Assassin ratings.

     

    Risk of Rain 2's roadmap lays out plans for 4 new characters and even more bosses by spring 2020

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    The first big update, coming in June, will include a stage, playable character, boss, and more items.

     

    Mortal Kombat 11's Microtransactions, Explained

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    According to a popular post on the PlayStation 4 Reddit, it would cost $6,440 to purchase every skin in Mortal Kombat 11 with premium currency instead of winning them as challenge rewards or unlocking them in the game’s Krypt. This math adds up, in theory, but the facts don’t. You can’t use real money to unlock everything in Mortal Kombat 11. There is no convenient way to buy your way out of the grind.

     

    Respawn Details Its Plan To Keep Apex Legends Fresh, But Avoid Employee Burnout

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    Respawn Entertainment’s battle royale game Apex Legends came out of the gate with a bang. Now that the initial burst of excitement has slowed down, the development studio has released a roadmap for the future. Its aim is to please players, but also avoid employee crunch and burnout.

     

    Valve officially unveil the Index VR headset, shipping June 28th

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    The official store page for the Valve Index is live now, featuring tech specs on the new VR headgear and controller combo, a June 28th launch date and a price-tag. If you’ve got no other VR equipment and this is your first set of space-goggles, it’ll set you back a cool £919/€1079/$999. The full kit includes two tracking base-stations, the headset itself and a pair of their next-gen finger-tracking controllers, formerly known as Knuckles. There are cheaper options for people who already own HTC Vive or Vive Pro hardware, as the base stations and controllers are cross-compatible.

     

    Riot Files Motions To Block Current Employees From Taking Legal Action

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    Months after five current and former employees filed lawsuits last fall and earlier this year alleging gender discrimination against League of Legends publisher Riot Games, Riot yesterday made motions to force two of those women into private arbitration, which would prevent them from taking legal action. Riot’s argument is simple: Those women waived their rights to sue the company when they were hired.

    'League of Legends' Studio Faces Employee Walkout, Promises Changes

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    Riot Games' decision to try and block lawsuits being filed against the company prompted an enormous internal blowback it's still wrestling with.

     

    EPIC WOULD END EXCLUSIVITY DEALS IF STEAM OFFERED 88% REVENUE SHARE FOR DEVELOPERS

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    Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney has said that he would stop making Epic Games Store exclusivity deals if Steam offered developers and publishers a permanent 88% revenue share.

     

    Google CEO: Publishers "want to see our commitment" to Stadia

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    But Sundar Pichai says giving games execs hands on time with streaming service "completely wins people over"

     

    ‘Minecraft’ Creator Excluded From Anniversary Due to ‘Comments and Opinions’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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    “His comments and opinions do not reflect those of Microsoft or Mojang and are not representative of ‘Minecraft,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Variety.

     

    AbleGamers reveals plan to get accessibility experts into AAA studios

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    "We've found that once we embed champions within the studio space, accessibility becomes a really cheap thing to add," says CEO

     

    Esports News

     

    Why games like LoL and Hearthstone produce so few women pro players

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    Mindy Jun is, at first glance, a regular American high school student. Chat with her and she’ll discuss her aspirations for college and her mom’s concerns about how much time she spends playing games. Yet, underneath that student exterior beats the heart of a competitor, and along with four of her friends, Jun represents Troy High School in a youth League of Legends tournament operated by the North American Scholastic Esports Federation.

     

    Report: Rick Fox is leaving Echo Fox over shareholder's use of racist language

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    The report says Fox's decision was triggered by a shareholder's use of the n-word to describe Hall in an email. A source told the site it's not the first time this has happened, and that Fox was motivated to make the split after other shareholders opted to ignore the racist abuse. "He obviously isn’t going to stand for that and was hoping the matter would be addressed on a shareholder level rather than just swept under the carpet," a source told the site.

     

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

     

    Playing with the past: history and video games (and why it might matter)

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    So, historical video games certainly qualify as a medium that can do history, that can communicate aspects of the past. To use a more formal term, historical video games are a form of public history. Because the term’s meaning varies widely, for purposes of this article, let’s define public history as any communication of the past crafted outside traditional academia with little or no involvement of academic historians. This includes games whose designers read published histories and even games where an academic historian was on board as a consultant but did not make the driving decisions in the design process (McCall, 2018).

     

    A SECRET STRANGER THINGS GAME DIED BEFORE IT WAS EVEN ANNOUNCED

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    Telltale’s collapse meant the loss of not one, but two games based on the popular show

     

    A Video Game Developed To Detect Alzheimer’s Disease Seems To Be Working

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    When most folks think of Alzheimer’s disease they think of an illness that ruins a person’s memory. But while memory problems are very common and severe with Alzheimer’s disease, these are late-stage symptoms. Researchers and doctors want to catch the disease as early as possible, before memory loss occurs, to give future treatments the best chance at working.

     

    How Bullet Hell Games Helped Me Work Through Anxiety

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    Sometimes the most apparently stressful games can be the most calming

     

    How Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Devil May Cry 5 Are Empowering For Those Who Live With Prosthetics

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    The gamified prosthetics in Devil May Cry 5 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are actually closer to reality than one might think.

     

    Former devs speak out about 'severe crunch' at Mortal Kombat studio

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    80-100 hour weeks were common at NetherRealm for weeks or months at a time, while contractors struggled with low pay.

     

    'I just broke down crying': Canadian video game creators face gruelling 'crunch' hours

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    One day, while on a diaper run, he had a breakdown in a drugstore. In tears, he called his friend. "My mind was racing and I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to live and I didn't know how to tell him I'd left the house without asking what size diapers my son wore."

    Dorias had no idea about the proper size because he was rarely home.

    When the game was finally completed, he got a few days off and a thank-you note, but no overtime pay. Welcome to crunch in the gaming industry. It's a long-standing feature of the sector's workplace culture, but the calls for change are getting louder.

    A Story of Crunch

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    Recently I’ve worried less about the people who speak up against crunch and who reveal the environment they’re working in, and more the people in the margins of these reports, the people that don’t speak up, less because they’re frightened and more because in a weird way they might actually be fine or at least think they are. The road to burnout is surprisingly long, and it’s paved with good intentions only.

     

    Swery's White Owls is building a better work culture for Japan

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    When Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro founded White Owls, he wanted to create a working culture that gave employees freedom and balance in their lives -- and to accomplish that, he had to look to companies outside of Japan for inspiration.

     

    The heavy toll of making games in the San Francisco Bay Area

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    Making games is difficult anywhere in the world -- developers and publishers weigh in on trying to do it in the most expensive place on Earth

     

    'My Childhood Dream Had Come True': A Belated Interview With Skies Of Arcadia's Producer

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    Skies of Arcadia released in 2000 for the Sega Dreamcast and while it wasn’t a huge hit, its cheerful tale of air pirates inspired countless players, including me. Nineteen years later, I finally got a chance to ask the game’s producer about what went into making this role-playing gem.

    My personal history with Skies of Arcadia has been well-documented on Kotaku. It is my favorite game of all time, a bright blast of optimistic heroism released during a time when most roleplaying games were edgy. In spite of its Saturday morning cartoon cheerfulness, Skies of Arcadia was not a simple game. In reconstructing RPG hallmarks, it focused on them in earnest. This is a game about swashbuckling air pirates and an evil empire. It is also a game interested in colonialism, social structure, and much more. To pack these ideas into a game, while keeping the tone optimistic and sincere was a huge task.

     

    X-COM creator Julian Gollop discusses his most important games

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    X-COM’s maker remembers over 30 years of perfecting the turn-based tactics genre.

     

    Red Dead Redemption 2: six months later

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    A detailed look at the failures, and success, of Rockstar’s latest hit

     

    Making history about the mass grave of the Obra Dinn

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    This is what I wanted Obra Dinn to do – to highlight the vagueness, the shiftiness of identity, to muddle the boundaries between who was, for example, Indian and who was British. Shamuhamedov succeeded in his petition – but how did he identify himself when he went back home, when he was with his family? Or when he talked to a trader passing through the village? Sure, there is a valuable distinction between China and Formosa in the game, despite the heavy orientalist vibes coming from the latter, and there is a clear class structure headed by white, male British officers whose names I can still remember because the game’s narrative unfortunately revolves mostly around them, but it was not enough, something was off.

     

    “New Game Plus,” by Daniel Fries

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    Anayama the Peddler sits in the outskirts of Ashina Castle, behind a chest he uses as a makeshift shop counter. When Wolf first meets him, Anayama recognizes the shinobi, saying they met “that night,” but he is surprised to see that Wolf doesn’t seem to remember. There are several magical bells in Sekiro, and one of them allows the player to return to the night Anayama means. Offering the bell to a Buddha statue, the player finds herself outside the otherwise inaccessible Hirata Estate three years prior—as a remarkably well-organized troupe of bandits set fire to the grounds. Unnamed and unseen characters in boarded-up homes accuse Wolf of facilitating the raid. Soon, in the burning audience chamber of the main house, Wolf confronts his old mentor, Lady Butterfly. It’s one of the game’s first boss fights. If the player manages to dispatch her, she is treated to a cutscene in which Wolf is stabbed in the back by a concealed figure. Even when the fight is won and the fire rages, Wolf can’t slow down for a second. He’s lucky the young Lord Kuro finds him and resurrects him for the first time.

     

    Exploring the vast mythology of the Persona series

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    What's intriguing about this is it's not just a singular mythological cycle. The most recent God of War game draws heavily from Norse mythology, whereas Assassin's Creed Odyssey is directly influenced by the Grecian myths found in Homeric poetry. Persona, on the other hand, draws from a plethora of cultural and mythological sources from all over the world. It's got everything from Japanese folk beasties to legendary Celtic heroes.

     

    'Dreams' Is A Powerful Tool to Create Anything and Own Nothing

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    The new game from the makers of LittleBigPlanet is a perfect fit for the social media era.

     

    Work Is Hell and the Dark Comedy 'Yuppie Psycho' Revels in It

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    Come work at Sintracorp! The coffee is awful, the workplace is toxic, and you don't really have much choice.

     

    Spending A Night In The Woods

     

    Creating a Likable Video Game Villain

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    I wanted to take a look at villains in video games and explore how they differ from other mediums and what writers try to do to make them likable.

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

     

    The Tragedy of Halo 3: ODST | Game Maker's Toolkit

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    Halo 3: ODST was a bold move for Bungie. A non-linear and open world Halo game, with a melancholic vibe and without Master Chief. In some ways it was wonderfully clever, in other ways it fell on its face. Let’s explore the highs and lows of this forgotten game.

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

     

    Augmented Reaction: Vanquish - 9 Years Later | Design Dive

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    In this first episode of Design Dive for 2019 I return to the cult cover shooter Vanquish. As I revisit the game for the first time in almost nine years I realise that while my love for this game is well deserved, it is also slightly blinded by nostalgia.

    http://www.patreon.com/ai_and_games

     

    We showed Peter Molyneux every game he's ever made

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    Peter Molyneux walks us through his entire career, from Populous, to Black & White, to Fable.

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

     

    "Games as a service" is fraud.

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    The most comprehensive video on "games as a service" and why it's fraud that you're likely to see. WARNING: This is more boring than my usual videos.

    "Games as a Service" is NOT FRAUD*

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    Accursed Farms recently shared a video arguing that game developers/publishers are committing fraud when they sell games as a service when they should be treated as goods.

    *He's not wrong that the "Games as a Service" model often violates the law. But it's rarely, if ever, actual fraud, which requires an intentional deception for unfair gain. Instead, it's much more likely that GaaS practices violate consumer protection and/or contract laws, and mostly in individual cases.

     

    Supergiant Games Answers Our Patron's Questions

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    We're currently running a series on the Early Access development of Supergiant Games' Hades. In this video, we take a break from interviewing and ask the development team the burning questions from our community at https://www.patreon.com/noclip

     

    The Brilliant Design of Left 4 Dead

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    In 2008, Valve and Turtlerock Studios released a cooperative shooter by the name of Left 4 Dead. A title that revived the co-op shooter genre and made Left 4 Dead a household name. This is how it went about doing that.

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

     

    Hollow Knight DLC - Swansong for Silksong

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    SHOVEL KNIGHT IS A 3D GAME?! Its Own Developer Explains - Boundary Break

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    Lets take the camera absolutely anywhere we want to learn more about Shovel Knight!

     

    THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM “GAMER”

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    Games From Underground | Horror #1

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    Games from Underground | Horror #1

    This channel is made possible by the support of my Patreon supporters - follow this link to support this work: https://www.patreon.com/RagnarRoxShow

     

    The Rise and Fall of Lost Planet

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

    At the farthest edges of space, there exists a world unlike any other. A world where hostile alien lifeforms known as the Akrid are fought endlessly for the thermal energy that runs through their veins. Where an intergalactic syndicate and lowly snow pirates battle for supremacy using towering robots known as Vital Suits. Where the temperature and environment fluctuate constantly, as if trying to consciously expel those unable to adapt to its capriciousness.

     

    Games as Lit. 101 - Literary Analysis: The World Ends With You (Part 6 - Conclusion)

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    Time to wrap things up! What does The World Ends With You ultimately have to say, and how does it say it throughout the story? Let's take a look.

    Enjoy the series? Support it on Patreon! http://www.patreon.com/gamesaslit101

     

    Glass Rose - Hidden Capcom Murder Mystery | Back From the Dead

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    Final Fight: How the West was Worse (ft. Matt McMuscles) [SSFF]

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    Final Fight is kinda like a greatest hits of Capcom localization mistakes. We got censorship, bad West-only spinoffs, and a decades long censorship snafu over Poison. We explain the beautiful mess that is Final Fight with our number one top 10 alchemizer-in-chief, Matt McMuscles.

    Support us on Patreon!http://bit.ly/SSFFpatreon

     

    The Missing: An Attempt at Complete Cohesion of Gameplay and Narrative

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    In this 2019 GDC talk, game developer Swery explaisn why 'The Missing' was the first game he made after striking out as a solo developer, and dives into how he approached integrating gameplay and narrative.

    Note that this session spoils anything and everything about The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories.

     

    Put Your Name on Your Game, a Talk by Bennett Foddy and Zach Gage

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    In this 2019 GDC session, game developers Bennett Foddy and Zach Gage explore why game developers are one of the few types of craftspeople that don't sign their work, and why indie developers might benefit from putting their name on their games.

     

    The Making of the Xbox Adaptive Controller

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    In this 2019 GDC talk, Microsoft's Bryce Johnson and Craig Hospital's Erin Muston-Firsch share their experiences developing the Xbox Adaptive Controller and give you tips on how you can design better control schemes or input for people with limited mobility in your hardware or games.

     

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