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    This Week In Gaming 12-24-2019


    Riley Hopkins on the reverence Outer Wilds has for its music, Super Eyepatch Wolf covers the creation and marketing of Final Fantasy VII and how it uses gameplay and 3D models to flesh out the characters and world, Adam Millard and the games of 2019 you should have played, CD Projekt and Andrzej Sapkowski settle royalty dispute, Chris Compendio examines the use of the unreliable narrator in Katana Zero, Colin Campbell tells the story of Silas Warner the often forgotten creator of Castle Wolfenstein, soccer player Mesut Ozil removed from PES over tweet about China's treatment of Muslims, Super Bunnyhop reviews Death Stranding after having recently gone on a cross country bike tour, Aimee Hart on the small moments of peace in A Plague Tale Innocence, John Walker plays Star Trek 25th Anniversary and is surprised to find that it has things to teach modern games, Giant Bomb's guest top games of lists, Razbuten considers why they rarely roleplay in RPG games, 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)


    Crusader Kings 3 reveals tons of new features in a new developer diary video


    Paradox Interactive is keeping fans up to date on the development of Crusader Kings III by periodically publishing interviews with the team creating the next big medieval dynasty simulator. The latest, posted Friday, touches on a host of key features and changes to the formula, including a brand new 3D portrait and DNA system, new mechanics for ruler’s councils, and of course, cunning plans.


    New Half-Life Alyx gameplay shows why it’s VR-only


    After a lengthy stretch of rumours, Valve announced Half-Life: Alyx out of nowhere alongside a brief trailer. We only got a handful of details at the time, but the Half-Life: Alyx release date is coming very soon. There will be no non-VR versions of Alyx, but it will be compatible across a wide variety of headsets, and now we have a bunch of new gameplay footage showcasing how the game works on a wide variety of hardware.


    The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki announced for PS4



    Here is an overview of the game, via Falcom:


    Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Will Be an Xbox and PC Exclusive


    Back at The Game Awards 2019, two big announcements were the Xbox Series X and one of its first games, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. At the time, we knew it was definitely an Xbox Series X title. Now, Microsoft Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg has confirmed that this sequel will only appear on the “Xbox” and PC.


    Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore overview trailer


    Here is an overview of the game, via Nintendo.com


    Vestaria Saga I: War of the Scions launches December 27 in the west


    Fire Emblem creator's strategy RPG gets a release date.


    Puzzle & Dragons Gold Gets a New English Version Trailer


    Puzzle & Dragons Gold releases for Nintendo Switch in North America on January 15, 2020. It’ll release in Japan on the same date. Check our previous report for more story and gameplay details.


    Age of Empires IV interview: “it is absolutely not past the time for RTS”


    Age of Empires IV was first announced at Gamescom 2017 with a 97-second trailer comprised entirely of artwork that, rather teasingly, flitted throughout all the historical periods this iconic RTS series has tackled. And then Microsoft waited more than two years to tell us anything else about it, which was terribly cruel.


    New World release window confirmed, new multiplayer details revealed


    Update [December 19, 2019]: Amazon Game Studios has posted a new developer diary, revealing new information about New World. You can find out more about the game and its PvP and PvE combat in the video below. Original story follows.


    Nurse Love Addiction and Syndrome Switch Versions Being Released Outside Japan



    Kogado’s Nurse Love visual novel series will be arriving on a new platform outside of Japan.


    The Future of Control With Director Mikael Kasurinen - Inside Gaming Interviews


    Many thanks to Remedy Entertainment and Mikael himself for sitting down with us and talking about this incredible game! *Seinfeld sting plays*


    Battle At Ji Province | Mandate of Heaven DLC Cinematic Battle | Total War: Three Kingdoms


    The year is 184 AD, and Lu Zhi marches deep into the heart of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, towards its capital in the Ji Province. It's here that he meets the rebellion's leader Zhang Jue, fielding a much larger rebel army. Will Lu Zhi's smaller but more battle-hardened Imperial army win? Or will Zhang Jue defeat the Han in this crucial battle in the grasslands of Ji Province?


    Resident Evil 2 gets officially stripped of Denuvo DRM



    The Resident Evil 2 remake launched early this year, and as many triple-A games do, it came with the controversial DRM layer of Denuvo Anti-Tamper tech. Now – as some triple-A games have done in the past – Denuvo has been removed from the game entirely, so if DRM is a dealbreaker for you, you’ve got a fresh gaming option.


    CD Projekt and The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski settle royalties disagreement



    CD Projekt and The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski have forged an agreement that ensures CD Projekt Red can continue to use Sapkowski’s creation, ending a disagreement that sprung up last year.


    Star soccer player Mesut Ozil removed from PES 2020 in China over tweets criticizing the government



    Mesut Ozil tweeted about China's detention and mistreatment of Uighurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang province.


    Little Nightmares developer acquired by THQ Nordic’s parent company


    Tarsier Studios is now part of the ever-expanding THQ Nordic/Koch family.


    In Memoriam of Charles “Chuck” Peddle


    It is with sadness WDC/I announce that on December 15, 2019, Chuck Peddle passed away. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the personal computer industry. We have lost a pioneer with Chuck’s passing.




    The 15-year-old British gamer who won almost £1 million at the Fortnite World Cup



    Volume 4 Issue 002: Lightning-fast reflexes, no fear and endless practice make “Wolfiez” one of gaming’s elite professional competitors. Just don’t tell Jaden Ashman to go play outside.


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


    Guest Top 10 Lists


    Giant Bomb is doing their usual guest lists for the end of the year, go to the site and scroll down to check them out.


    How Atari took on Apple in the 1980s home PC wars



    Atari’s 400 and 800 packed some of the most advanced tech of their era and ran the best games. Forty years after their debut, they’re worth cherishing.


    The man who made Wolfenstein



    The late Silas Warner is barely remembered in gaming, but he did something extraordinary


    'Civilization' and Strategy Games' Progress Delusion



    How strategy games have held on to one of colonialism's most toxic narratives, and how they might finally be letting it go.


    The Switcher: How Saber Interactive Took One of the Biggest Games Ever Portable



    You’d think the news that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt would be coming to Nintendo Switch would be met with awe, delight, and celebration. But when rumors started to circulate earlier this year that a port would be announced, the idea was met almost instantly with incredulity and derision. On Twitter, blocky, textureless shots of the PC version on the lowest possible settings made the rounds, mockingly labeled as leaked Switch screens. After the official announcement and trailer came during Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct, one IGN commenter instantly dubbed it “the degraded edition.”


    How Disco Elysium captures our current political moment



    Disco Elysium's left-leaning messaging is clear, but the questions posed by its central story leave no easy answers


    How Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II Made The Force Interesting



    In the walled city of Iziz the caged beasts howl songs about their own matted fur into air that tastes like violence. Men stand alongside those cages, some dreaming of a home outside the walls. A nervous soldier watches from a distance, unconsciously fingering the trigger of his blaster. He’s never been a political man, he lies to himself, all this talk of blockades and coups is above his pay grade. His job is to keep the peace at the ports, let visitors know the power of their visas, make sure no one leaves. Then the tension breaks. The violence in the air becomes manifest in torn metal and broken bone as a jaw snaps shut and the soldier watches paralyzed with fear. A stranger, fresh off her ship, draws a line of light across the beast’s chest and leaves its body in the sand. The siege goes on.


    The Outer Wilds: Six Notes Make a Chord



    It was beautiful, for a moment. Then, I saw the bright light of the supernova start coming for me, and I turned off the signalscope. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the instruments, knowing they’d be snuffed out one by one by one by the sun exploding.


    In The Outer Worlds, Hard Decisions Feel Like an Illusion



    When I go back to the community I doomed, I come face to face with the aftermath of my decision. Guards are ordered to shoot me on sight if I try to snag the part I need for my ship. Citizens gather together in a mob, frightened and worried about what the future is going to hold for them now. I didn’t just rob this place of electricity; I robbed it of its life. I had spent hours helping these people only to end up destroying them. It‘s a moment that should make me feel something—an ounce of guilt, a pang of remorse—but functionally, the game doesn’t seem to care about what I did.


    Coming Home-Wolfenstein: Young Blood



    Wolfenstein: Youngblood establishes a strong sense of place that’s specific to Arkane Studios — in the Dishonored series, the fictional city of Dunwall bore influences from the Haussmannian architecture that gives Paris such a particular look, but with a gothic steampunk twist; Youngblood sees them go back to their roots, transposing the real thing to the game. Playing through the levels as a French person, it was obvious to me how much of a hand fellow French people had had in the design. I felt understood and seen rather than seeing the dozen of inaccuracies I can usually point out in other depictions of my hometown and getting lost in the world felt comforting rather than disorienting or frustrating.


    Star Trek: 25th Anniversary has so much to teach modern games



    This is, on some level, seven brand new episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. Seven individual stories, that barely overlap, which tell original yet incredibly TOS-like tales of bridge-based banter and landing party derring-do. But on another, it’s a really astonishingly versatile game that allows you to play it in very different ways, with very different outcomes. In a way that makes me gawp, because this is what games keep promising they’re going to offer today, but never really do.


    Gears of War 5 Plays Like Its Predecessors, But it Has More to Say than Ever



    While nothing original or groundbreaking, I can definitively say that Gears 5 does a better job of saying something in regards to its politics than this year’s Modern Warfare. Where Modern Warfare uses a real world war crime orchestrated by the United States into a fictionalized atrocity done by the Russians, Gears 5 gives a straight answer to fascists when it comes to protests.


    A Plague Tale Innocence: Flowers Grow in the Strangest Places



    Have you ever started a game that immediately made you uncomfortable within the first few minutes? I know I have, but I don’t think one has done so with such fervour as Plague Tale. That’s not exactly a negative thing, either. There’s just something sobering about being put in the shoes of a young girl who loves her family, despite it being broken and full of lies. Even when playing Amicia, the protagonist of this story, at the start, where the world around her is full of vibrant colours like yellow and blue, the sharp edge of an exhausted family is easy to pick up in the tone of  father’s voice, or the whispered rumours of the De Rune servants.


    Katana Zero: Playing with Time to Fix a Fractured Memory



    There is something about how Askiisoft’s Katana Zero uses the “unreliable narrator” device that works with me—rather than misdirecting the player with ludicrous and unearned twists in a linear plot, this game makes the player feel active in the story. The protagonist of this game, a katana-wielding assassin named Agent Zero, is trying to piece the echoes of his memory back together, and the player has an unusual amount of agency in how he goes about achieving this.


    Control and The Bomb



    Stepping into the lobby of the Oldest House in Remedy Game’s Control felt refreshingly like coming home. Control clearly gets it. It gets that the closer you get to atrocity the more absurd things seem.


    Roleplaying in Video Games (and why I barely do it)


    Roleplaying is something I really enjoy doing in games like Dungeons and Dragons, and I feel like it should be something I enjoy in video games as well, but it always seems to fall short. This video takes a look at some of the barriers that get in the way of good roleplaying in video games along with me trying to overcome those barriers. So, let's look at roleplaying in video games (and why I barely do it).

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


    The Impact of Final Fantasy 7: The Game that Changed Everything


    Hey. Final Fantasy 7s like my favorite game ever. Here’s a video about it.

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


    On Death Stranding, Bike Touring, and Cultivating Personality


    Here's some reflections on a 3,000 mile coast-to-coast bike tour across America, and how it made Death Stranding make a lot more sense.

    Support the channel on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/superbunnyhop


    The Splinter Cell Game Ubisoft Won't Let You Buy | Pandora Tomorrow Retrospective


    Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is the only mainline Splinter Cell game you cannot buy on the Uplay store, despite it being a solid game in the franchise. Pandora Tomorrow fully deserves a bigger audience even if it does show signs of being rushed out the door back in 2004.

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


    20(19) Games You Should Have Played


    2019 was a bumper crop for fantastic games, but that's had the unfortunate side-effect of meaning that a bunch of otherwise great  or interesting games have been overshadowed by AAA giants. The Architect considers this to be a grave miscarriage of justice, and so - for the third time - is attempting to wrap up the year by telling you all about the games you should've played, but probably didn't.


    2019 Snoglobes - Best & Worst Games of the Year


    2019 was a phenomenal year for gaming! Let's take a look at 6 of the most memorable titles I've played! Enjoy!


    The Making of Bastion - Documentary


    Supergiant Games tells us the story of how the studio was created, and how Bastion was designed.

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


    Gameplay Loops | So You Wanna Be A Game Designer? (#6)


    Support Farlands on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/farlands

    All games are essentially built on a mental model that we call 'gameplay loops'. In this video, we discuss what they are, and what is needed when defining a creative direction.


    The Story of Super Mario Bros. 3 | Gaming Historian


    A documentary about the creation of Super Mario Bros. 3, the unparalleled hype surrounding its release, and why it's considered one of the greatest games of all time.

    Support the show on Patreon https://goo.gl/pQaU9N


    Virtual Reality is No Gimmick


    Despite a rocky start since its re-emergence as a going concern in the mid-2010s, virtual reality seems like it's in the best place it's been in years. In this video I discuss my own experience with virtual reality after buying an Oculus Quest, and how I came to see the platform as a truly destabilising force within the industry—potentially changing everything about how we play, make and think about games.


    Chord Voicings in Halo 3: ODST's "Rain"


    As much as I love nerding out about esoteric chord types and unconventional harmonic progressions, it's becoming more and more clear to me the importance of how a chord is 'voiced' - how the notes in the chord are arranged in relation to each other. The wrong voicings can turn a brilliant chord progression into a corny mess, while the right voicings can make a simple chord progression sound intensely powerful - and this is exactly what happens in 'Rain'. From the suite, "Deference for Darkness" from Halo 3: ODST's soundtrack, this short piece perfectly encapsulates the vibe that the game was going for and after taking a look at it, I think the approach to voicing each chord is the biggest factor in this achievement.

    PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/8bitmusictheory


    The History of the Xbox 360 Kinect | Past Mortem [SSFF]


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


    How Emulators 'Rewind' Games | MVG


    Ever wondered how emulators work? In this episode we perform a technical deep dive on how emulators can Rewind games and how Save States work. We demonstrate these features with the Nintendo Game Boy as the target emulation device.


    Lucas Pope's Return of the Obra Dinn - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook


    Robin Hunicke returns as guest host and sits down with Lucas Pope (Return of the Obra Dinn, Papers, Please). They discuss their start in games, formulating Papers, Please, the urge to continue learning, and how important relationships are when telling a story.


    Amy Hennig - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook


    Industry legend Amy Hennig (Uncharted, Legacy of Kain) sits down with Ted to talk about coaching young developers, giving proper feedback, marrying narrative and design, and the evolution of development culture.


    Bioshock Composer Garry Schyman - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook


    Composer Garry Schyman (Bioshock series, Destroy All Humans series, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor series) sits down with new guest host and fellow composer Austin Wintory (Journey, ABZU, The Banner Saga series, Assassin's Creed Syndicate) to discuss his early career both inside and outside of gaming, the evolution of music in games, the differences to working in film, and creating the score for the Bioshock series.


    Dead Space Composer Jason Graves - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook


    Composer Jason Graves (Dead Space series, Tomb Raider, Moss) joins fellow composer Austin Wintory to talk about his different approach to scoring Moss, his career journey to Dead Space, and designing a completely new instrument for Tomb Raider.


    Noclip Podcast #20 - Noclip's 2019 Year In Review


    Danny & Jeremy review all the work that Noclip released in 2019 and take a moment to chat about some of their favorites games from the year.

    Become a Patron and get early access to new episodes: https://www.patreon.com/noclip


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


    The top 50 games of the decade, in 7 words or less


    We attempted to describe every one of Polygon's top 50 games of the last decade in 7 words or less... how'd we do? Here's this same idea, but thoughtful:


    Things I missed from previous weeks


    The Lie That Helped Build Nintendo


    The story of a man, a lie, a video game handheld, and a business empire.


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