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    This Week In Gaming 6-25-19


    Former Gearbox employee provides proof Randy Pitchford diverted funds to personal company, Xbox boss Phil Spencer talks about platform's struggle with first party game quality and making gaming less hostile, Esra Krabbe interviews Hidetaka Miyazaki about Elden Ring and how his dark creations come from his view of the world, The Game Professor recalls the effects teaching games as literature in High School had on both the kids and on other teachers, James Mielke interviews Kazuma Kujo on the return of R-Type, Mx. Medea suggests that people discussing whether or not games are art don't have an understanding of what art is in the first place, RagnarRox looks at the forgotten FPS Blood with its creator Nick Newhard, The Girl with the Controller on Uncharted's portrayal of growth in marriage, Peter Tieryas' defense of Castevania 2 as a game that shows the consequences of the protagonist’s actions, Alpha Protocol removed from Steam as music rights expire, 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)


    Wit And Charm Are Powerful Weapons In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2



    Bloodlines 2 looks like it has a wonderful breadth of experiences to offer the player, and it has a lot of vampire murder power options on top of that. The game isn’t just about picking what kind of powers you want to use, although that is a cool part of it; I picked the power set that allowed my vamp to turn into mist. Bloodlines 2 is also about deciding the kind of vampire you want to be, personality-wise. Are you a brute, using your powers to get your way, or are you more seductive? Is your word your bond, or are you willing to screw people over to get what you want? In the mission that the Hardsuit Labs developers showed me at E3, I could run the gamut from being like NoHo Hank in the HBO dramedy Barry—in other words, a total softie—to becoming the ultimate dirtbag.

    How Baldur's Gate 3 and Bloodlines 2 are rewriting the rules of the tabletop games they're adapting


    You can tell tabletop roleplaying games are in the midst of a renaissance because suddenly everyone is making videogame adaptations of them again. Some of this year and next year's biggest projects are based on tabletop games: Dungeons & Dragons, Cyberpunk 2020, Pathfinder, Vampire: The Masquerade, and the list goes on.


    Desperados III is Shadow Tactics wearing a lovely cowboy coat that lets you pause


    My main memory of Desperados is repeatedly getting shot and not understanding why. That’s because I tried to play it when I was eight, not because it was impenetrable or confusing. I’m simply making you aware that Desperados was before my time, and so based on my hands on with Desperados III I can’t tell you whether it’s living up that legacy.


    E3 2019 Preview: Empire of Sin Is More XCOM Than You Know



    When Empire of Sin was first unveiled during the E3 Nintendo Direct, my mind first jumped to the lackluster Omerta: City of Gangsters by Haemimont Games, the team behind Tropico. Not many games have tried to straddle the line of both a strategy game and one that focuses on early 1900s crime. The trailer we saw left something to be desired. Sure I knew the game existed. I also knew that a few aspects of it piqued my interest, but I knew next to nothing about it.

    Empire Of Sin is full of serial killers and drunks who need a good mobster manager


    Ronnie O’Neill is a scumbag. But that’s okay. In about 20 minutes he’ll be dead, slumped on the tarmac next to a black truck. That’s what happens when you mess with Al Capone, you filthy mutt. At least, this is one way things can go in upcoming mob strategy game Empire Of Sin. It’s part mobster management, part turn-based tactics, with a splash of the personality-driven pettiness of Crusader Kings 2. Which probably explains why Paradox are publishing it for Romero Games.


    Nowhere Prophet predicts a July 19th arrival


    Card-slinging tactical roguelike Nowhere Prophet has a release date locked in, and it’s exactly one month away, landing on July 19th. Rather than re-tread tired ground, Sharkbomb Studios are blending genres and wrapping them around a fresh Indian-inspired take on dusty sci-fi worlds, giving it a distinct look and sound. There are complex multi-lane battles between building decks and managing a nomadic caravan on a strategic level, a bit like The Banner Saga by way of FTL with a dash of Slay The Spire. I could see this being the next big thing for deck-builders.


    How Phoenix Point Differs from XCOM - IGN Live | E3 2019


    Phoenix Point is a tactics game from the creator of XCOM, but it's not a straight copy. Here's what to expect.


    Baldur’s Gate 3 will not be Divinity: Original Sin 3 by another name



    So it was that when Baldur’s Gate came out in 1997, Larian Studios wasn’t a household name in the genre. It was an unknown Belgian developer working on an RPG doomed to cancellation – The Lady, the Mage and the Knight. Meanwhile, Bioware was making its name with an RPG that combined the high fantasy freedom of Dungeons & Dragons with the immediacy of real-time strategy.

    “I was very… I wouldn’t say jealous,” Larian head Swen Vincke remembers. “But I would’ve liked doing that.”


    Elden Ring Is an Evolution of Dark Souls Says Creator – E3 2019



    “Personally, a world that is happy and bright is something that just doesn’t feel realistic to me. It may sound like I have a trauma or something,” he said with a laugh, “but I believe that the world is generally a wasteland that is not kind to us. That’s just the way I see it.”


    John Wick Hex Is A Portal Into John Wick's Mind



    At a Keanu Reeves-filled E3 last week, I played a demo of John Wick Hex, a forthcoming action game directed and written by Mike Bithell, the creator of acclaimed indie games Thomas Was Alone and Volume. Playing John Wick Hex was like being transported inside of the titular assassin’s mind via a mashup of the best things about Transistor’s combat and Superhot’s time mechanics.

    John Wick Hex: “If you’re not trying to push the medium forward, you’re wasting your time”


    As with the man himself, the full context of John Wick Hex is difficult to discern. Bithell Games’ licenced collaboration with entertainment powerhouse Lionsgate is an idiosyncratic interpretation of the all-action movie series. Where lesser minds may have proffered a reskinned brawler, Hex swerves unapologetically close to turn-based tactics territory – in fact, as game director Mike Bithell reveals, it started life as a single-character XCOM-like, “until we realised how boring XCOM with one character was”.


    Lost Words: Beyond the Page Gameplay - E3 2019


    Check out a first look at one of the hidden gems of E3 2019, Lost Words: Beyond the Page.


    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the problem with its child soldier level



    Farrah finds a screwdriver on the floor, and in order to take down the hulking Russian, the player must sneak up to the back of his legs and slice his thighs. This doesn't happen just once - it takes three attempts to down him. After each slice, Farrah must dart away to hide under a bed, or sneak between rooms using air vents. The strangeness of the situation is compounded by the Russian's lumbering pathing, almost comical accent ("Look at vat you did to my leg, bitch"), and the repetitive gun-shooting noise and animation that goes off every time Farrah takes a chop at the soldier. At the end of the third hack-and-slash attempt, Farrah and her brother work together to repeatedly stab the soldier in a gory, protracted and drawn-out death sequence, with Farrah finally finishing him off with a gun - the camera spinning upwards with the force of the recoil in a child's hands.

    If Infinity Ward wanted me to be uncomfortable, it succeeded - but only because this scene felt so jarring and awkward.

    How former Call of Duty studio head Michael Condrey views modern warfare and games


    Condrey: I maintain that video games are the most important art form of our time. I respect every developer who strives to deliver their work as an extension or reflection of their artistic vision. That said, MW seems like a tough challenge for any studio, especially if they are being pushed by publishing to be more controversial and “darker” for the sake of headlines.


    An interview with Cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith



    R. Talsorian Games is having a pretty big year. The studio is riding high on the release of The Witcher RPG last year, with expansion Lords and Land in the works. Cyberpunk Red, the latest edition of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG is releasing in August, 15 years after Cyberpunk V3.0. And, of course, Cyberpunk 2077 played a starring role in this year's E3.

    Cyberpunk creator and tabletop industry veteran Mike Pondsmith was at the show, mirrored sunglasses and all, so we sat down to talk about Cyberpunk Red, netrunning, that poster and sending CD Projekt Red back to the drawing board on guns.

    CD Projekt plans Witcher 3-style expansions for Cyberpunk 2077


    The core game will have 'a very satisfying story arc,' but the studio sees opportunities to build on it, too.

    Cyberpunk 2077 romances will be “very similar” to The Witcher 3


    News on what we can expect from upcoming dystopian RPG Cyberpunk 2077 continues to surface. We already know that the game will feature romance options, from flirting to full-frontal nudity and one-night flings. We also know that players will have some big choices to make throughout the game. Now it’s becoming clearer how these two features will combine. The game will feature long-term relationship options with their own entire plotlines, Witcher 3-style – and there will be more than just heterosexual opportunities on offer.

    6 things we love about Cyberpunk 2077 and one thing we don't

    Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t quite an immersive sim, but you could mistake it for Deus Ex


    As the QA department’s playtesters discover odd-yet-viable approaches to Cyberpunk, the game’s quest team works to support them. “This is one of the challenges that we have when we’re designing,” Sasko says. “To make sure that no matter the weird build you have, there’s always a way for you to beat the given encounter. There’s always some way to figure it out.”


    Hollow Knight: Silksong will release “when it matches the quality” of the original



    The developers of Hollow Knight: Silksong had plenty of new features to show off at E3, but a release date was nowhere to be seen. Now, in a recent Kickstarter update, Team Cherry revealed why it’s been keeping schtum.


    10 Minutes of New Greedfall Gameplay - IGN Live | E3 2019


    Check out some exclusive Greedfall gameplay, debuted at E3 2019.


    The making of Samurai Shodown (2019)



    They’re calling this the year of the samurai. And why shouldn’t they? The team at SNK Corporation has spent the last several years working to revive the venerable Samurai Shodown series, and the new entry finally launches this month — with an anthology of Samurai Shodown classics on the way in the fall. Evo, the world’s biggest annual fighting game tournament, will also feature 2019’s Samurai Shodown as one of this year’s nine main-event titles.


    Watch Dogs Legion uses voice modulation to make each character sound unique



    But there’s only so many different actors Ubisoft can hire, and so many different ways to deliver the same line of dialogue. Ubisoft knew this, and it’s been developing some techniques to limit repeat characters as much as possible.


    Doom Eternal | 30 surprising gameplay details


    Doom Eternal is almost here. That’s why Griff and Caroline are bringing you 30 key gameplay details. The Doom Eternal campaign is looking immense, so not only will you see more of that in this video, but new Doom Eternal gameplay, gory Glory Kills, and lots of juicy info on the Doom Eternal story. The game’s multiplayer is also looking sweet, with the all-new Battlemode and invasions.

    Expect a Doom Eternal guide when the release date hits on November 22nd, 2019.


    Sitting In On A Design Meeting For Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order



    While visiting Respawn to learn more about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for this month’s cover story, we had a unique opportunity to do something I personally had never done despite having visited various game studios for assorted features and cover stories during my seven or so years with Game Informer.

    Everything We Know About The Story Of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order


    Before diving into what we learned at the studio, Lucasfilm made a small, easy-to-miss announcement during E3 that sheds at least a little bit of light on the setup for Fallen Order’s story. Early in the game, Fallen Order’s protagonist, Cal Kestis, meets a Jedi named Cere Junda. Much like Cal, Cere survived Order 66 and the two work together to try and revitalize the Jedi Order during the course of the game. A five-issue comic book prequel series, coming in September, will look at Cere’s past. Through this announcement we learn her master is a Jedi named Eno Cordova and the two travel to the remote planet Ontotho to “oversee the excavation of a mysterious temple.” Cere and Eno are both entirely new characters and the planet they travel to, Ontotho, also appears to be new. We know that at least part of the game will “explore the mysteries of a long-extinct civilization in hopes of rebuilding the Jedi Order,” according to the game’s official website. Is the mysterious temple on Ontotho part of that long-extinct civilization? While at the studio we asked Asmussen if he could reveal anything about the “long-extinct civilization” and all he said was “not today” with a laugh.

    Why Dismemberment in 'Jedi: Fallen Order' is Such a Big Deal


    The treatment of dismemberment and prosthetics in the Star Wars films is often ham-fisted and problematic, and it’s in the franchise’s DNA to use it as a narrative crutch that punctuates various characters’ arcs. Since Respawn Entertainment is apparently following this formula in Fallen Order, fans’ disappointment over the lack of flying limbs is an opportunity to examine how Star Wars has handled the topic, and why.

    26 Minute Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Full E3 Gameplay Demo in 4K


    EA shared the entire Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order behind closed doors gameplay demo from E3 in 4K with IGN. Here it is in its entirety.


    How Man Of Medan Learns From Until Dawn | E3 2019


    Shawn Ashmore and Supermassive game director Tom Heaton join us on our E3 stage to talk about how to hone horror, and the films and games that inspired The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan.


    Solasta: Crown of the Magister promises a deep, D&D-style tactical RPG


    The debut dev diary reveals early gameplay and big plans for the future.


    Indie sci-fi ARPG Killsquad heads into early access in July


    Chasing loot and murdering space bugs are, of course, the best things to do online with your friends. Killsquad has all of that in a kind of sci-fi Diablo package, and it'll be heading into early access next month.


    Shenmue 3 is more than pure nostalgia



    The devs promise deeper RPG systems, detailed towns, and more character development.


    Children of Morta gets a time-limited demo on Steam, and it's really good


    Children of Morta was announced in 2014 as a roguelike action game about the Bergsons, an extended family that's served as the guardians of the mystical Mount Morta for generations. It was expected to release in 2018 but at the last minute, developer Dead Mage Studio delayed it into 2019. With launch now just a few months away, the studio has released a (very) time-limited demo that covers the first chapter of the story and two playable members of the family: John, the father, and his eldest daughter Linda.


    How R-Type came back from the dead



    Granzella’s R-Type Final sequel marks the 16-year return of the series no one saw coming


    That Breath of the Wild anime ‘clone’ actually looks impressive


    When Genshin Impact was shown off at E3 2019, some onlookers were quick to paint it as a Breath of the Wild clone. In some ways, that’s an accurate assessment: The game definitely takes after Nintendo’s genre-defying open-world adventure. But Genshin Impact also appears to throw some of its own flavor into the mix.


    Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Destroying Vanguard as The Assembly Gameplay


    Watch us take down a Vanguard party while playing as the scavenging cyborg zombie faction - The Assembly, and use manufactured plagues to defeat the opposition in battle.


    Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot will reveal “backstories that haven’t been told in the manga”


    The latest videogame adventure for Goku and the gang is Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, which goes back to the early days of DBZ to offer an RPG experience that retells the events of the anime and manga. But the game formerly known as Project Z won’t just be the same story that Dragon Ball fans already know – creator Akira Toriyama says there’ll be fresh material on existing characters in the game, too.


    World Rally Championship 8 Live Gameplay Demo - IGN Live | E3 2019


    See new gameplay of WRC 8 from E3 2019.


    Try a demo for Encodya, a point-and-click adventure about a girl and her robot


    The game is based on an in-the-works animated short called Robot Will Protect You.


    Carrion Four Reasons To Keep Your Eye On This Monster Mash



    Alongside the torrent of blockbuster games that occupy the open sprawl of E3's show floor, there is also a wave of smaller-budget, independent titles. This year the one that caught our attention (even winning our Best Indie award) the most is Carrion, a "reverse horror" game being developed by Phobia Game Studios and published by champion of small and weird games, Devolver Digital. We went hands-on with Carrion, where you play some kind of monster or science experiment gone wrong, trying to escape from a facility filled with scientists and soldiers.


    Hands-On with Gears 5 Escape Map Builder - IGN First


    We get an exclusive look at the newest map creator mode coming to Gears 5.

    Gears 5 Will Not Have Lootboxes


    Amidst the long confusion and angst over lootboxes, including some looming federal investigations and head-scratching arguments of definition courtesy of EA, The Coalition has gotten ahead of it all by informing players that Gears 5 will not have lootboxes (or Gear Packs, as they were called in Gears of War 4).

    Gears 5 Developer Says It’s Riskier Than The Last One


    Microsoft’s head of all things Gears of War, Rod Fergusson, says his team is playing it less safe with September’s Gears 5 after feedback that the series’ last installment didn’t go far enough.


    Fist of the North Star: Legends ReVIVE Gets Its First Trailer And A Western Localization


    Sega announced last month that they’re working on a brand-new smartphone game called Fist of the North Star: Legends ReVIVE that features 3D battles, simple controls, and dream teams with Kenshiro, Raoh, and more. The game got a new trailer as well as an announcement that it is coming Westward.


    NHL 20 cover goes to Auston Matthews, see the first trailer


    NHL 20’s cover will be graced by Auston Matthews, the young superstar center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he will help bring one of the game’s key new features to life, publisher Electronic Arts announced Wednesday.

    Breaking Down The 16 Biggest Changes Coming To NHL 20



    Sports games have the unenviable task of shoehorning a wealth of changes into an eight-month development cycle in the hopes of satisfying the legions of everyday players, the lapsed community haters who jumped off board in disgust over the years, and newcomers who haven’t been along for the ride to this point. For the past several years, NHL has played catch-up under the ire of its impassioned community, which felt betrayed by the sloppy conversion to current-gen consoles and lack of meaningful changes. NHL 19 was the first year in the generation that felt like a meaningful step forward, introducing a much more dynamic skating system, revamping the largely neglected franchise mode, and revamping its multiplayer with a new player upgrade system and some unconventional modes that celebrate the culture of hockey beyond the NHL rink. Sure, we still have plenty of lackluster features and gameplay shortcomings to complain about, but the progress was encouraging. NHL 20 hopes to continue that forward trajectory with several big changes that enhance the gameplay, presentation, and popular game modes.


    Square Enix explains why it changed Tifa’s breasts in Final Fantasy 7 Remake


    I’m not here to tell you that worries over Tifa’s breast size are a sound discussion, because they aren’t — if the Mortal Kombat 11 debacle surrounding breasts taught us anything, it’s that people are really attached to big boobs no matter what the context. But the Final Fantasy 7 discourse did happen, which might explain why in a recent interview with Famitsu, Square Enix went on the record regarding Tifa’s changes. Tetsuya Nomura, director on the remake, says that “it was necessary to restrict her chest,” as the developers wanted her to have more of an athletic feel. She’s a fighter, after all, and that likely means she has abs and is generally very fit.


    As any number of women's magazines will tell you, 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size. That's probably because bra shopping is hell on earth and basically impossible unless you invite a total stranger into the fitting room to help measure you properly, but it might also be a result of our society's complete misunderstanding of what bra sizes even are. If the video game discourse is any indication, most people seem to think bra sizes stop at DD and that anything smaller than "huge badonkers" is in the A-to-B range.


    We found out during E3 just how different Final Fantasy VII Remake's battle system will be from the original game. We also found out that Materia, the magical gems that can be slotted into equipment to let characters cast spells, still plays a big role in the game's battle system and it's even visible within the character's weapons. It turns out that, while Materia will still be in the game, not every single piece will make it, and some new Materia will be introduced.



    The latest Contra picks up where Contra III left off.


    Contra-like Blazing Chrome is coming in July


    Side-scrolling run-and-gun action in the style of Contra 3: The Alien Wars


    Sky: Children of the Light Gameplay Showcase - IGN LIVE | E3 2019


    Thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen and Jennie Kong show off their imminent follow-up to 2012's IGN Game of the Year, Journey.


    Total War: Three Kingdoms' gore DLC includes 'equine dismemberment'


    Total War: Three Kingdoms is pretty light on gore, but it's about to get some gruesome DLC that will smear blood and limbs across the battlefield. Lovely! Every Total War gets one. Unfortunately, horses are also on the chopping block this time, and their legs can be lopped off. Probably something we could all do without seeing.


    Star Wars Battlefront II: Where are those Droidekas? — Community Update


    In this update, droidekas roll out on the battlefront, TX-130 Saber-class Fighter Tanks strengthen the forces of the Galactic Republic, and capital ships station themselves above Naboo in Capital Supremacy. Find out all the details in our latest Community Update video.


    Hitman 2’s new bank map features Agent 47 in sweater he knitted himself


    The Hitman 2 bank map is finally upon us – the first proper DLC addition for Agent 47’s latest adventure launches tomorrow, June 25. The New York bank level features the usual array of new toys to play with and new targets to murder, and it reveals yet another of 47’s strange and numerous hobbies: knitting.


    Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II's Chaos expansion brings spiky naked dudes to space


    The campaign is accompanied to the big content soiree by a free update. The most significant change here is extra secondary objectives in each campaign mission. The update also fleshes out the economy, adds some extra lore-friendly options, and also the ability to switch ships between fleets. This is something I specifically moaned about in my review, so this pleases me. Am I saying that my whining is solely responsible for this undoubtedly positive change? I’ll let you decide, but obviously yes.


    Alpha Protocol exfiltrates from Steam as publishing rights expire



    Obsidian’s quirky espionage RPG Alpha Protocol is the latest to be de-listed from Steam. The game’s store page confirms that it was removed from sale at the request of the publisher, Sega, whose rights for the game has expired. While no longer for sale, players who bought it during its nine and a half years of availability can still download and play it, and keys from other sellers should still work. While much maligned at launch and best played with a gamepad back when such things were unfashionable, it was a sneaky RPG well worth experiencing at least twice.

    Alpha Protocol pulled from Steam due to expiry of music rights


    Sega has been in touch to say it still owns the Alpha Protocol IP, and to clarify the game was pulled from Steam due to the expiry of music rights


    How Paradox is rebuilding Imperator: Rome



    "It's been completely different from what we've experienced before," says creative director Johan Andersson. After a string of successful launches and a build-up that involved countless dense developer diaries and streams, he was expecting players to take to it just like they did his last game, Europa Universalis 4. But it didn't happen.


    Kingdom Hearts III co-director Tetsuya Nomura shares additional DLC ‘Re:Mind’ information tidbits



    The latest issue of Weekly Famitsu has an interview with Kingdom Hearts III co-director Tetsuya Nomura, who discusses more of the recently unveiled “Re:Mind” downloadable content.


    'Xbox Live Is Not A Free Speech Platform': Xbox Boss Promises New Features To Make Online Gaming Less Hostile



    You can learn a lot about a person by the values they express, and possibly something about an entire gaming platform by the blog posts the person running it writes. That’s why I was so eager at E3 last week to ask the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, why he recently wrote a 1200-word essay mostly about “building a safe and inclusive gaming environment for everyone.” His answer was illuminating, and hinted at ambitious plans taking shape for Xbox Live that could prove influential for online gaming as a whole.

    Xbox Boss On Microsoft’s Struggles With Game Quality And Efforts To Improve It


    Whatever the strengths of the Xbox platform, it’s long lagged behind Nintendo and Sony in terms of homegrown, exclusive video games. There have been highlights in its history and even some stellar games of late, such as last year’s Forza Horizon 4, but the Xbox One era has been rough. There have been prominent cancellations, disappointing sequels and games that under-delivered given how long fans were waiting for them.

    Microsoft cuts internal original content creators and producers at Inside Xbox and Mixer


    The affected positions appear to be at Inside Xbox and Mixer with heavy implications that Microsoft is moving away from internal original content creation.


    Former Gearbox employee provides proof Randy Pitchford diverted funds to personal company



    New documents in the suit filed by Wade Callender, former Gearbox corporate counsel, against Randy Pitchford back up a claim that Pitchford diverted studio money to a personal company.


    Ubisoft Apologizes for 'Watch Dogs: Legion' Ad That Appeared to Reference Hong Kong Protests



    Ubisoft has deleted and apologized for a Facebook post promoting Watch Dogs: Legion, a game about building an underground resistance in a near-future authoritarian London, because it was mistaken by some people for referencing the real, massive protests in Hong Kong that started earlier this month.


    Bungie raises over $400,000 for children's hospital during charity livestream


    Based on its donation goals, it looks like the Halo creator initially hoped to raise over $150,000, but ultimately managed to absolutely obliterate that target.

    Fortnite Streamer Raises Almost $1 Million For Charity In Just Four Hours


    GuardianCon, which began a few years back as a small Destiny con and has since grown into an all-weekend show held in July in Orlando, also runs a week-long charity stream. Which has just raised over $3 million for a children’s hospital in Memphis.


    Q&A: After the Microsoft acquisition, what's next for Double Fine?



    At E3 this year, the company set up shop next to the Fortnite booth to show off a (far too teeth-filled) demo that showed off the latest work 2005 cult classic. On hand was Tim Schafer, who was down to talk about both the creative drive fueling Psychonauts 2, the Microsoft acquisition and what he thinks GamePass means for studios like his.


    EA: Our Loot Boxes Are Actually 'Surprise Mechanics' That Are 'Quite Ethical'


    Given that 2017's Star Wars Battlefront II is broadly considered the tipping point in an anti-loot-box conversation that has recently led to a loot box bill in the United States senate, you might be forgiven for thinking that Electronics Arts games have loot boxes. Not so, says its VP of legal and government affairs; they merely have “surprise mechanics.” And they’re “quite ethical.” Phew!

    EA execs have reportedly given their performance bonuses to employees


    EA’s reputation among players has never been sterling, and recent bits of questionable brand management like calling loot boxes “surprise mechanics” certainly haven’t helped. Yet the publisher was recognised as one of the best companies to work for at the start of 2018, and now it seems that EA’s top executives have diverted their own bonuses to employees.

    This week, Parliament gave a squirming EA and Epic a kicking


    If the showing from EA and Epic achieved anything, it shone a light on how unprepared the video game industry's major players are to cope with this wave of scrutiny.


    League of Legends banned in Iran and Syria as tensions mount with US



    The full message, posted by an Iranian user in the League of Legends forums, reads: “Due to U.S. laws and regulations, players in your country cannot access League of Legends at this time. Such restrictions are subject to change by the U.S. government, so if and when that happens, we will look forward to having you back on the rift.”


    You can now spend two years in jail for account boosting in South Korea



    If you boost or share your game accounts in South Korea, you could go to jail or face some substantial fines under a new law. An amendment to the Law on Game Business Development to do just that has been floating around South Korea’s legislature for some time, but the law has finally gone into effect this week.


    Esports News


    The PUBG Nations Cup will see 16 teams fight for a $500,000 prize pool



    Hot on the heels of PUBG Corp’s announcement that the battle royale will soon be getting a visual facelift, plus some other cool new changes, the developer has now declared a new tournament is coming: the PUBG Nations Cup. The event will be hosted in Seoul, South Korea, in August – and will feature a pretty hefty prize pool to boot.


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


    AWAY: The Survival Series - An animal adventure game


    Enter the animal kingdom and immerse yourself in nature as you embark on a breathtaking journey into the wild.


    Kickstarter Games


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


    Theater of Mechanics, and in Mechanics, a Movement



    The Hero’s Journey is not a laudable goal to reach, nor a reference sheet for format, but a set of handcuffs we tighten around our wrists with every iteration. The Hero dies at 40, and I am glad he is dead, memento mori, for the heroics are not for me. They are for you, a salve to slap on the mind, to deaden the horror of life, to give meaning to a cycle of absurdity through projection, a cycle that one should frame so that it can be broken.




    The critical compilation that follows will focus on so many “direct” encounters with the original release of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed III. Readers who have played the original may compare notes with the many commentators and critics who have enriched our understanding of gaming beyond “mere entertainment”, and check with their own play experience. If you do not have access to the original edition of Assassin’s Creed III, you can still read ahead and reconstruct the experience, like a historian chasing down echoes of past events from fading footprints on the ground.


    Teaching Games As Literature In High School


    Gaymer Pride



    I’ve been thinking about identities a lot this Pride month, and how they shape who we are, how we classify ourselves, and who we choose to be around. I only recently came out as gay last year, but I’ve already found myself surrounded by a community of supportive queer peeps that I can count on online. And that got me thinking about how much of my identity is wrapped up in other things, and the one constant that’s been part of me for as long as I can remember is that I love games. I appreciate them as an art form, and want to consume every interesting thing in the medium I can get my hands on. Then I realized that I also found a community centered around our shared experiences with loving games. My own experiences with these two facets of my identity manifest similarly when looked at on paper. Then why do they feel worlds different to me?


    We need more cosmic horror in games



    Cosmic horror is a playground with poison slides and swings made of spikes, shrouded in mist and a menacing thump somewhere in foggy the distance, always getting closer. It is meant to at once make you small enough to be encompassed yet large enough to be the target of the powerful. You are both a bull’s eye and an ant.


    Where Should LucasArts Take Star Wars Video Games?



    More than any single premise, what a Star Wars game needs is a sense of adventure and longing based in the certainty that it’s a tiny corner of a much larger and stranger universe. Games like Fallen Order hew too close to everyday life, to the bland visual palettes of other sci-fi mainstays like Mass Effect and Destiny, to the rote archetypal storytelling that works so well in propulsive, exciting 90-minute movies and so poorly in games that take twenty or more hours to finish. Where’s the artistic ingenuity that gave audiences the cantina scene in the first place? Where’s the spirit of adventure that led to a trio of cantaloupe-headed musicians toodling away while an old man hacked the arm off an anthropomorphic fly with a sword made of light?


    Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Developers Say Breaking Series Traditions Made For A Better Game



    When I sat down with the makers of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey last week, I had to ask them about Alexios, Kassandra, and the state of the franchise’s playable modern-day sequences. I also had to ask them about the option to ride a flaming horse.


    Games Have Always Tried to Whitewash Nazis as Just 'German Soldiers'



    There was something very familiar about EA’s botched roll-out of a premium Battlefield V character skin a few weeks ago, where the company slapped the name of a significant anti-Nazi resistance member onto a laughably overdone German super-soldier. Even as it apologized for using a completely inappropriate name for the character, EA attempted to clarify that he was definitely not a Nazi, but just a German soldier. It was further evidence, if any were needed, that EA and DICE are ill-equipped to deal with the historical context of their own game.


    In Defense of Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest



    Even back then, I didn’t love Castlevania II. I’ve watched and laughed hard at both of the Angry Video Game Nerd’s Simon’s Quest reviews, and I can acknowledge many of the game’s flaws. But there’s also a lot of things Simon’s Quest did right and which I actually really liked. It’s no mistake that Koji Igarashi attributes the existence of the brilliant Symphony of the Night, my favorite in the series, to the second Castlevania and the foundation it laid.


    Death Mark Reminds Us That We Can Never Vanquish Our Ghosts



    There was a time I was obsessed with American urban legends, especially the horror-themed ones. Learning more about their roots and origins, and how a story evolves over time to fit the social mores of its time was fascinating, if terrifying. Death Mark is kind of like a mix track of creepy Japanese urban legends packed into an interactive visual novel.


    Revisiting Final Fantasy 8: Yep, This One’s About Trauma Too



    Final Fantasy VIII is a mess. All of the games in the series are, to some degree, and their haphazardly welded-together clunkiness is responsible for a significant part of their charm. Its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII, is probably one of the most widely beloved games of all time, and it’s riddled with goofy writing and goofy minigames; 7’s triumph is that, despite all the times it gets sidetracked into goofs and nonsense, its main themes of identity and ecological catastrophe still manage to shine through in a coherent and compelling way. (Arguably, the fact that it makes room for levity and fun in the midst of disaster is exactly what makes it work.) 7’s immediate successor is, I think, just as compelling, but – at first glance, anyway – it would be difficult to call it coherent.


    Ghost Trick Brilliantly Turned Regret And The Supernatural Into A Game Mechanic



    Ghost Trick is what you’d get if the film Ghost met Groundhog Day. Directed by the creator of the Ace Attorney Franchise, Shu Takumi, Ghost Trick makes death a puzzle you can play over and over a la Edge of Tomorrow. The core mystery at the heart of the game is your main character’s death. Who killed the red-suited Sissel right before the beginning of the game and why?


    Hotel Dusk: Room 215 Is A Compelling Story About Loss And Guilt



    I still have a classic Nintendo DS that even plays the old GBA games, but I only take it out when I go on airplanes. Recently having finished Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, I turned to Hotel Dusk: Room 215, knowing nothing about the game. I quickly became addicted to the mystery interactive novel developed by Cing in 2007, playing it for the majority of a heavily delayed plane trip. Hotel Dusk quickly became one of my favorite DS games with its rich story and intricate characters.


    Root Letter Is About Catfishing Gone Terribly Wrong



    Root Letter made me miss Japan.

    Developed by Kadokawa Games for the PS Vita and PlayStation 4, the visual novel adventure takes place in the city of Matsue within the Shimane Prefecture. The protagonist, referred to as Max, is looking for his high school pen pal, Aya Fumino, after he finds a 15-year old letter in which she claims she killed someone. In the letters she sent, she describes seven friends using nicknames. It’s Max’s job to find out who each of these friends are and how they’re connected to her disappearance.


    Final Fantasy V Reminds Me Of What I Loved About The Series



    What began as a curious interest in the sole retro Final Fantasy game I’d missed evolved into a remembrance of what I used to love about the series. It wasn’t the amazing production values or the elaborate combat system, which have become such a big focus of the Final Fantasy games. FFV had a party of characters I cared about and a story that made me feel like I was invested in what happened. As always, the fate of the world is at stake—after all, Final Fantasy has to live up to the “final” part of its name. But there wasn’t a massive cast of characters that make an appearance, then get put aside in favor of the main party which usually consists of three primary members. Final Fantasy V concentrates on four people: an adventurer named Bartz, a princess named Lenna, a pirate called Faris, and an amnesiac warrior Galuf.


    The Classic JRPG About Two Scientists Saving The World



    A mix of The Legend of Zelda and the works of Hayao Miyazaki, Crystalis was an incredible action RPG for the NES whose surprisingly complex story helped elevate it above many of its peers. It’s also one of the games I most fondly recall from my childhood, so re-playing it on the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection brought back lots of good memories.


    The Art of Conceptual Scope


    Whether it's an older game restricted by technology or an indie game restricted by budget, games utilize different techniques to convey the size of their worlds and this video attempts to go into detail describing those very methods.


    How Uncharted 4 Portrays Conflict and Growth in Marriage


    This video has been a long time coming. I wanted to look at how Naughty Dog handled the topic of conflict and growth in Nate and Elena's relationship in the Uncharted series.


    Blood (1997) | Forgotten Gems (with Creator Nick Newhard)


    Support me on Patreon: http://ragnarrox.com/patreon/

    Today, we're talking about Blood, Monolith Production's horror shooter and my personal favorite Build-Engine game to date. For this video, I've invited Nick Newhard, creator, lead designer and programmer of Blood to share developer insights from the time Blood was being made.


    How Supergiant Games Creates Music & Art - Developing Hell #03


    We embed with the art and music teams at Supergiant Games to examine what it's like creating the visuals and soundtrack for Hades, while the game is still in early access.

    Noclip's work is 100% crowdfunded. Consider becoming a member on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/noclip


    History Respawned: Heaven's Vault


    Bob talks with Andrew Reinhard about Heaven's Vault, the latest game from Inkle Studios. Topics include archaeology, the depiction of archaeologists in games, parsing ancient languages, tavern archaeology, artifact colonialism, and archaeogaming.

    Please consider supporting us on Patreon! www.patreon.com/historyrespawned


    Good Game Design - Super Mario World


    Super Mario Maker 2 is just around the corner, so let's take a look at how 2D Mario has progressed, and discuss the ways Super Mario World innovated like never before.



    Bloodstained Kickstarter Breakdown | Past Mortem [SSFF]


    The Bloodstained Kickstarter may have learned just as much from Mighty No. 9’s incredible successes as it did from its spectacular failures.

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


    The 2019 Animation Microtalks


    In this 2019 microtalk session, speakers Lana Bachynski, Yussef Cole, Ryan Duffin, Gwen Frey, Mike Jungbluth, Heather Alexandra, Brandon Nason, Kristin Palach, John Paul Rhinemiller, Nikki Roth and Nikita Taranduke present a series of rants, raves, observations and wild musings on animation and the game industry as a whole.


    The NES Hot Stik | Gaming Historian


    Remember the video on the NES Hot Seat? I thought it was the only product Power to the 10th Inc put out. Turns out I was wrong. This is the NES Hot Stik, a motion-controlled joystick! Does it work? Will it poison you with mercury? Find out more!

    Support the show on Patreonhttps://goo.gl/pQaU9N


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


    An extremely bad interview with Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi



    A century passes.

    “So I mean there are characters that die just throughout the storyline obviously, but I feel like it’s kind of a Japanese way of approaching it, and also just a personal preference of my own, I don’t really like to go that far in battle,” Nogoshi says, via the translator. “It’s just kind of my personal style that’s more reflective [another hellish noise blasts over a nearby speaker, drowning out the end of his answer].”

    Nagoshi hasn’t looked at me this entire time and I’m pretty sure he’d like to hit me with a giant cone. Still, the answer is a bit more interesting and he seems more open to talking about his approach to design, so I continue down that route.


    Overwatch vs Team Fortress 2, A Battle To The Death


    This was made by animator The Winglet, and is truly something. I’m years past getting any of the TF2 jokes, for example, and still found the whole thing pretty damn funny.


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