PS2J 323 News – 10 23 2020

Reminder: Get your flu shot, if you can!

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Stick it to the Man! (free on Epic last month)

      • 2013
      • Indie adventure platformer that puts you in the role of Ray, a hard hat tester that suffered a bizarre accident and woke up with a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his brain. With his awesome new powers he can read minds and change the world with stickers but he’s on the run for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Epic Games

    • Costume Quest 2

      • 2014
      • Action RPG from Double Fine that has players assuming the identity of one of two twin siblings, Wren or Reynold. Explore spooky time-traversing landscapes, don adorable new costumes that transform into powerful Hallo-warriors, and collect even Creepier Treat Cards to wield in combat against a legion of hygiene obsessed baddies.
    • Layers of Fear 2

      • First person psychological horror game with an emphasis on exploration and story. Players control a Hollywood actor who heeds the call of an enigmatic director to take on the lead role in a film shot aboard an ocean liner.

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Google for antitrust violations, after a 16 month investigation into anticompetitive practices in tech

  • With how much control and breadth Google holds over the technology landscape right now, from search to email to cloud storage to mobile to collaboration tools to streaming video to web browsers… it’s a lot
  • The DOJ is alleging that Google uses their position to block competition and prevent rivals from getting a foothold in any of their related businesses, including deals that make its search platform the default on iPhones and Android
    • Android devices can’t even delete the Google Search app
  • The lawsuit also mentions Google’s advertising practices within its search business, controlling over 70% of the search advertising market, 80% of general searches, and 95% of searches from mobile devices
  • Kent Walker, a Google Senior VP, said the lawsuit is “deeply flawed” and “would do nothing to help consumers”, noting that people use Google because they choose to and that users can change their default settings to use alternative services
  • I could see this resulting in, at the very minimum, phones and browsers giving you a selection of search engines at setup instead of always defaulting to Google. Duck Duck Go has been a great alternative, but even I didn’t think to switch my default settings for a long time
  • Depending on how this case goes it could result in a lot of other government actions against tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon, and Apple

Ahead of the next-generation of Xboxes next month, the Xbox app on iOS has been updated with Remote Play

  • Similar to Sony’s PS4 Remote Play feature, this has the games being played on your own Xbox using a Bluetooth controller paired to your phone, with audio and video streamed to your device
  • It’s pretty slick and even supports play outside of your own Wifi network, so you can have a full Xbox experience on the go wherever you are as long as you have a data connection
  • When the connection is first made you have to boot up your console to enable the feature, and it will run through a few tests to make sure things will work smoothly, but then when you use it your Xbox will run silently with no indication it’s being played- no power light or startup chime
  • Unfortunately at the moment it seems like there’s an audio glitch on some devices, where the sound coming through the phone is choppy and distorted, but a fix is in the works and once they release that everything else seems great- visuals are clear, and latency is minimal
  • One neat feature though is that when the console is being played remotely it looks like you can still play it locally as well, so depending on if that’s a bug or a feature we could see couch co-op games played from anywhere with a cell signal

It looks like Xbox All Access is coming to Canada as well, offering a Series X and 2 years of GamePass Ultimate for $40/month, or a Series S for $30/month with no interest

  • All said, assuming you’d have paid for full-price GamePass anyway the plan saves you $40 on the X and $60 on the S
  • One thing to note is that Game Pass Ultimate maxes out at three years, so if you already have more than a year banked you’ll want to wait before redeeming the included 2 year code
  • All Access should be available at launch on November 10th

NBA 2K21 has apparently added unskippable ads to their full-price game, on top of all the microtransactions and gambling they’ve already shovelled in

  • Ads for the Oculus Quest 2 have reportedly appeared during loading screens, regardless of how long the game actually takes to load, with the button to proceed disabled until the ad plays in full
  • This is on top of having paid $70 for the game, and being charged extra if you want to upgrade to the next-gen version coming next month
  • This might sound like familiar ground, with EA having done something similar by adding ads to UFC4 and its replays, but that move drew so much fire that they quickly reversed course and removed them
  • Time will tell how long it takes 2K to do the same

One day after launching their Apple TV app, short-form video service Quibi is shutting down

  • In case you missed it, in the 6 months it existed, the idea behind Quibi was to be like Netflix but for quick 5-10 minute videos for about $5/month
  • It also had a gimmick where you could switch your phone between landscape and portrait while you watched and the video stream would adjust accordingly, showing you video formatted for that orientation
  • Unfortunately it failed to really take off, aiming for people waiting for coffee or on the bus but launching right when the pandemic initially hit hardest, and ended up with less than 1/10th of their projected subscribers
  • It also doesn’t help that they had some pretty unappealing licensing deals and some say their contracts were specifically set up to avoid involvement with the Screenwriters and Screen Actors Guilds to cut costs
  • They attempted to sell to companies like Facebook, Warner Media, and Apple, but there weren’t any takers, so things are just shutting down

Ubisoft is revamping its Uplay and Ubisoft Club platforms into Ubisoft Connect, and the future looks pretty dang bright

  • The new service will include the Uplay reward structure, but more importantly its biggest addition is cross-platform progression
    • You’ll be able to take your save files from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and Riders Republic, as well as future Ubisoft games, from one platform to another seamlessly with crossplay and cross-progression
  • Ubisoft Connect will be launching alongside Watch Dogs: Legon on October 29th

GM has unveiled a new electric Hummer this week, with a 350+ mile range and “crab mode” for diagonal off-road movement

  • If you’re confused by why I’m talking about this I have yet to get to my favourite part- the digital cockpit system was designed in the Unreal Engine with Epic Games
  • It kind of makes sense when you think about it- modern vehicles run on computers, so bringing advancements from gaming regarding performance and interface is a logical next step

This Week In Gaming History

October 17 – 2001 – Devil May Cry – Playstation 2

  • Legend has it that 2000 years ago in the depths of hell, a demon rebelled against the devil, waging a one-man war in support of the human world.
  • In the present, Dante, a private investigator of the supernatural, realizes that the devil is rallying to rise again against mankind.
    • Deep within Dante’s blood lies the power of ancient demons and as his power builds he transforms into a demon state where he can use his power against evil he encounters.
  • Josh’s commentary
    • First horror game I enjoyed and played completely!
    • Was the first game I wasn’t allowed to play, so of course I played it in secret, sorry Mom
    • It appealed to my inner Edge-Lord and the Way Too Cool attitude Sonic reinforced in me.

October 18 – 1994 – Sonic and Knuckles – Genesis

  • Sonic and Knuckles continues the story directly from where Sonic the Hedgehog 3 left off.
  • Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally planned as a single game
    • According to designer Takashi Iizuka, the team “really wanted to hit a home run”, with larger stages that took longer to develop.
    • As ROM cartridges were too small to contain the game and publisher Sega wanted it released in time for a promotional deal with McDonald’s, Sonic 3 was split in two, with Sonic & Knuckles as the second part.
    • Despite the split, the developers wanted the games to feel like a single experience.
    • According to Roger Hector, vice president and general manager of STI, the lock-on technology was conceived two and a half years before the release of Sonic & Knuckles, between the releases of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
    • The team explained their situation to Sega’s hardware division, which gave them the lock-on adapter.
    • The team knew that players would likely use the adapter to insert games beside Sonic 3, so they implemented the Blue Sphere minigame for most games.
    • They made Knuckles playable in Sonic 2 if that game was inserted because the team found his playstyle suited its levels.
    • However, the team did not implement the same feature for the original Sonic the Hedgehog as it “didn’t really feel right”.
  • I love the logo that is shown on the cartridge and box.
    • This and Sonic 3, are games that I would be able to rent, but buying my own copy always eluded me.

October 19 – 2010 – Fallout: New Vegas – PS3, 360, Windows

  • The followup to Fallout 3, but developed by Obsidian Studios
  • Lots of people think of New Vegas, when it comes to great Fallout titles.
    • The consensus on this game, from what I remember, is that it is a cool new story, with all the popular mods that came out for Fallout 3 built in.
  • Reviews are consistently high
    • With the caveat that it is really fun, but buggy as well.

October 20 – 2020 – Amnesia: Rebirth – PS4, Windows

  • You can’t let out a breath. The creature is only inches away.
    • Its sole purpose – to feed off your terror. And so you crouch in the dark, trying to stop the fear rising, trying to silence what lies within you.
  • “I know you. I know what you’re capable of.”
  • In Amnesia: Rebirth, you are Tasi Trianon, waking up deep in the desert of Algeria.
    • Days have passed.
    • Where have you been? What did you do? Where are the others?
    • Retrace your journey, pull together the fragments of your shattered past; it is your only chance to survive the pitiless horror that threatens to devour you.
  • “Do not allow yourself anger, do not allow yourself to fear.”
  • Time is against you.
    • Step into Tasi’s shoes and guide her through her personal terror and pain.
    • While you struggle to make your way through a desolate landscape, you must also struggle with your own hopes, fears, and bitter regrets.
    • And still you must continue, step by step, knowing that if you fail you will lose everything.
      • First-person narrative horror experience
      • Explore environments and uncover their histories.
      • Overcome puzzles that stand in your way.
      • Carefully manage your limited resources, both physical and mental.
      • Encounter horrific creatures and use your wits and understanding of the world to escape them.

October 21 – 2003 – Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III – Rebel Strike – GameCube

  • Be a part of the epic battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire as a member of Rogue Squadron, an elite group of fighters who are the best chance for the Rebel’s to destroy the Empire once and for all.
  • Taking the part of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Wedge Antilles, your mission is to re-live the battles of the original Star Wars trilogy, from escaping the first Death Star to riding Tauntauns on Hoth, to the final battle at Endor.
    • For the first time you can fight the good fight in the air and on the ground, swapping between your X-Wing, a speeder bike and many other attack craft.
  • Included in the game is the complete version of Rogue Squadron II, specifically built for two player co-op play.
    • Plus there are multiplayer battle modes and full cutscenes straight from the original trilogy.
  • Critics rated the game quite highly
    • In the 80s and higher
    • Good for a licensed game, but Rogue Squadron stands on its own like the Jedi Knight or Knights of The Old Republic games.

October 22 – 2007 – Bee Movie Game – PS2, Wii, Windows, XBox 360

  • Once a week I like to find a terrible looking licensed movie game
  • Play as Barry B. Benson and prove that there’s more to being a bee than just making honey.
  • Playing as Barry, you retell your story through a series of flashbacks, while you work odd jobs around New York and Barry’s hive.
    • There are various mini-games that need to be completed to continue the story.
    • Gameplay includes controlling Barry on foot, in the air, and driving around town.
  • Exclusive to the Wii version are 3 Bee speedway tracks, 4 additional maxi-games and 6 new competitive 2-player arcade games.

October 23 – 2017 – Fuzion Frenzy – Xbox One Compatibility Update

  • When Xbox was trying to compete with Playstation 2 and GameCube, they needed a party game
    • And this is the one with no follow up whatsoever
  • Fuzion Frenzy is a party game with six arenas and more than 45 different mini-games for up to four players to partake in.
    • Fuzion Frenzy provides real-time play for all players in both the main game and the mini-games, no waiting for your opponent to take their turn.
  • After typing this I am learning there is a Fusion Frenzy 2
    • Reviews tanked by a glance
    • Going a google image search, looks like a lot of the same or similar games but with a 360 polish

Tidbits

  • There are some reports of the new Apple Watch SE overheating and, in some cases, even burning a visible yellow patch on the top-right of the display
    • Given how consistent the spot’s placement it this is likely a hardware defect, and if you notice anything like that you should absolutely contact Apple Support
  • The UK is set to close a loophole in their distracted driving laws that currently allow drivers to take photos or play games
    • Apparently the law was originally worded to ban devices that “perform an interactive communication” while driving, but many have successfully argued that filming or playing games doesn’t count since there’s no communication happening
  • Addressing issues of users being locked out of their hardware, Facebook’s Head of VR is now telling users to make sure their Facebook accounts are “in good standing” before buying an Oculus Quest 2
    • Considering how arbitrary the lockouts have been lately, and how they can ban you for things like not providing your legal name or your behaviour even in single-player games, it really feels a lot more stifling than any other platform’s account requirements
  • NASA has announced they’re teaming up with Nokia to install a 4G network on the moon, as part of their Artemis program aiming at making the moon habitable by 2028
    • This would greatly improve astronauts’ ability to communicate with the earth via voice or video, as well as transfer important data
    • As an added bonus, NASA also says that the moon network will eventually be upgraded for 5G
  • Early adopters of the Oculus Quest 2 have been having a rough time with the Elite headstrap, with many reports online of the arms cracking or even breaking under normal use
    • Some blame the issue on how people are taking the headset off at the end of a session, but either way it seems very fragile for such a new piece of hardware with some people saying they’ve gotten maybe 2 hours of play before it broke
  • The Halo Master Chief Collection has been confirmed as getting a free upgrade for the Series S & X, amping things up to 120fps in campaign and multiplayer, supporting 4K resolutions on the X, and cross-generation play for those still running an Xbox One
    • The upgrade hits for existing owners or anyone with GamePass on November 17th

 

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Patreon is back at it again, ruining their perfectly good business model because investors are annoyed they’re not getting more money for less work

  • Under the existing setup they’re basically just a transaction processor, allowing creators to receive a little support from a lot of people more effectively than users could on their own
    • Creators currently get 90% of pledges, with 5% going to transaction fees and the other 5% padding Patreon’s pockets
    • Considering they just announced they’ve payed out over $1B in payments, that 5% is pretty sizeable
    • Especially because the business scales indefinitely- adding more users doesn’t really add to their overhead or staffing needs
      • Compare that to a service like YouTube where a channel could upload hours of video a day, taking up a ton of storage and processing, but if no one watches them then there’s no return on that investment
  • Unfortunately under the guise of “building a sustainable business”, aka their investors (who they didn’t need) want all of the money forever, they’re moving to creator membership tiers with higher costs and mucking with features that everyone uses
    • Keep in mind, their business is kind of the definition of sustainable
  • So, what does this mean for creators? Well the plus side is they say current accounts won’t see any changes (though they’ve sprung changes on us without warning before, so that could change)
  • New creators will get to choose between Patreon Lite, Patreon Pro, and Patreon Premium
    • Lite gets you a basic creator page with no membership tiers, and Patreon keeps 5%
    • Pro gets you basically what they’re offering now, with membership tiers, analytics, and promo tools. This is the one they’re grandfathering existing accounts into at no extra charge, but new accounts will pay Patreon 8%
    • Premium has all that plus a “dedicated partner manager”, team accounts, merch for membership, and the privilege of giving up 12% of their income with a minimum $300 fee
  • All in all they’re charging more for the same features, and adding on new features that, from what I’ve seen, current Patreon creators don’t care about
 

Nintendo’s Nindies Showcase was this week, and here are some of the highlights

  • Cuphead is coming to the Switch on April 18 with Xbox Live support (so presumably trophies?)
  • My Friend Pedro, a 2.5D run and gun you’ve probably seen gifs of on Reddit with its ridiculously stylish and acrobatic gunplay, it hitting the Switch this June
  • The creators of Crypt of the NecroDancer are bringing us a Zelda themed adventure this spring in Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda
    • Uses an art style reminiscent of portable Zelda games and features 25 remixed songs from the franchise
  • Those are some of the bigger ones announced, but it’s definitely worth your time to check out the other trailers as well
 

We also saw some details on Google’s new Stadia game streaming service, and it looks interesting

  • One of the biggest pieces to it is being able to play a game within seconds of seeing the trailer on YouTube
    • Official trailers could add a Play Now button, launching the game directly within your browser and letting you play immediately
    • They say as long as you have a stable internet connection, you can play modern games without hitches even on phones, tablets, or chromebooks
  • You can play with whatever you have connected to the device you’re streaming on- controller or mouse/keyboard, or you can use their fancy Stadia controller that actually connects directly to the cloud via wifi
    • Plus it’s got built-in integration with Google Assistant- with the press of a single button it will automatically detect where in the game you are and show you the most relevant YouTube video to help out
  • They also say that, because the processing is all done in the cloud, developers won’t have to worry about performance when it comes to couch co-op and dealing with rendering a split screen
  • id Software has even announced that Doom Eternal, the sequel to Doom’s 2016 reboot, will be playable on Stadia in 4K at 60fps
  • There are still a lot of questions, like latency and costs, not to mention how developers can expect to get paid, but if nothing else this will continue to push the cloud gaming conversation forward
  • Fingers crossed this doesn’t mark the beginning of the end of offline gaming, especially since I don’t really want me gaming completely controlled by Google
 

After Disney fired James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 over some decade-old tweets dug up by right-wing personalities, they’ve finally decided on a new director- James Gunn!

  • Apparently while the film was on hold they never started searching for a new director, and instead became convinced he should be given a second chance
  • He’s still making The Suicide Squad, so Guardians 3 won’t be coming out for a couple more years yet
  • As fellow APN member I Have Some Notes said on Twitter, “People who say terrible things should be admonished, people who say terrible things but apologize and learn should be encouraged”
 

Netflix is getting back in the interactive adventure game with You vs Wild

  • The show will star Bear Grylls across 8 episodes as he attempts to survive extreme conditions and climates, and ask viewers to decide what he does and whether he succeeds or fails
  • All 8 episodes are hitting Netflix on April 10
 

For more proof that we’re in the darkest timeline, NASA has issued a warning about space herpes after the virus was found reactivating in crew aboard the shuttle and ISS

  • Apparently spaceflight increases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can suppress the immune system
  • The worst parts are, the longer the mission the more it seemed the viruses were reactivating, and it can have lasting effects up to 60 days after landing
 

Tidbits

  • Apple’s released new second-gen AirPods with their usual speed improvements, plus they’ve added Hey Siri functionality and a fancy new optional wireless charging case
    • AirPower is still nowhere to be found, but apparently Apple just recently got their hands on that trademark so it could be here next year for gen3
    • Either way, the new ones have launched at exactly the same price as the old ones with some extra features so I’d call that a win
    • We also saw some low-key updated to the iMac and iPad lines, with the new iPad mini finally getting a retina display and Apple Pencil support
  • A fancy new Oculus headset, the Rift S, is coming this spring with higher-resolution screens and a PSVR-like headband
    • It also comes with Oculus Touch controllers and not require any external tracking sensors, all for $399 USD
  • Hello Games continues to revamp No Man’s Sky with this summer’s Beyond update, bringing “radical new” multiplayer components
    • The new No Man’s Sky Online will specifically avoid subscription fees and microtransactions, and will be free for all existing players
 
 
Recommend The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut series) by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Really interesting, entertaining, and human alternate history set in a world that a large scale disaster in 1952 has humanity accelerate space programs to create colonies on other planets
  • This is a series where I find myself really reading the acknowledgements, because it’s so cool how many scientists, astronauts, and pilots contributed to the accuracy
  • You don’t often see fiction novels with a bibliography

Literally Misleading

From our lovely Family member Scott.

Check out his twitter @scottybomb and his podcast The Read-Along, its a weekly book club for where you can follow along with Scott and Anita!

(Movie) “A father’s present to his son goes awry when the instructions aren’t correctly followed.”

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