PS2J News 332 – Track or Not To Track

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Algo Bot

      • 2018
      • Puzzle game that has you maintaining a pan-galactic colony ship by managing a cute robot through a visual programming language
    • Little Big Workshop

      • 2019
      • Management sim with an open-ended sandbox experience where you start with a small tabletop workshop and expand to a desk-filling factory, running multiple production lines and managing your cute workers
  • Epic Games

    • Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition

      • 2018
      • 2D platformer and Metroidvania based on the Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name that has you traversing the world by warping between white surfaces
      • Trials of Fear Edition adds a bunch of things like new areas, a new boss, new powers, and a new secret ending
  • Sony

    • Concrete Genie

      • 2019
      • Action-adventure game where you discover a paint brush that can bring your art to life, infusing them with different personalities and powers depending on how you draw them
    • Control Ultimate Edition

      • 2020 bundle version of the 2019 release, including the Foundation and AWE expansions, brand new to the PS5 and Xbox Series in February
      • Action-adventure game that revolves around the Federal Bureau of Control, a secret US government agency tasked with containing and studying phenomena that violate the laws of reality. You play as the new director and use your powerful abilities to defeat the deadly Hiss
      • This is a messy one- the developers set it up so that only people that own the Ultimate edition can get a free upgrade to the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, so players that bought it in the first year of release are left out in the cold
        • They also stated that save files could be brought forward to the latest consoles from the original release if you bought Ultimate Edition on the last-generation consoles, but just yesterday they announced that there is actually no way to bring your old save file to the next-gen consoles
        • Now Ultimate Edition is being made free on PS4 and PS5 two weeks after it was just on sale, but unlike ManEater they aren’t offering any refunds for people that jumped on the deal, even if they haven’t booted it up yet while waiting for the PS5 release
    • Destruction AllStars

      • Brand new 2021
      • Vehicular combat game billed as a “global sports entertainment event where stars & cars collide”, where each hero vehicle has different abilities and once your car has been destroyed you need to survive on foot
  • Microsoft

    • Gears 5

      • 2019 optimized for the Xbox Series
      • Third-person shooter that takes place months after the events of Gears of War 4 that has you uncovering the origins of the Locust and the truth behind your family history
    • Resident Evil

      • 2015 HD remaster of the 1996 release
      • Survival horror game that helped define the genre, where you play a member of the elite task force S.T.A.R.S as they investigate the outskirts of Raccoon City following the disappearance of your team members
    • Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition (also on Epic)

      • 2018
      • 2D platformer and Metroidvania based on the Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name that has you traversing the world by warping between white surfaces
      • Trials of Fear Edition adds a bunch of things like new areas, a new boss, new powers, and a new secret ending
    • Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb

      • 2003
      • Action-adventure game that has you taking the role of Indy as he travels to 1935 China to prevent a powerful artifact from falling into evil hands, pitting you against evil Nazis and the Asian underworld
    • Lost Planet 2

      • 2010
      • Third-person shooter set 10 years after Lost Planet: Extreme Condition where terraforming efforts have started to change the face of the planet but mankind is still locked in a civil war for thermal energy

Apple’s released updates for pretty much all of their devices except for Mac, including bug fixes, security updates for vulnerabilities that may have been exploited in the wild, and a new Unity watchface inspired by the Pan-African flag

  • Some people online think the security updates may be related to the GreyKey iPhone hacking device, but we have yet to see any solid reports
  • Related to the new watchface, as part of Black History Month Apple has also introduced a limited-edition “Black Unity” Apple Watch and sport band, using the colours of the Pan-African flag and inscribed with messages like “Black Unity”, and “Truth. Power. Solidarity.”
    • They also have plans to use their apps like Maps and Music to spotlight Black businesses, musicians, developers, writers, influencers, and news stories

Facebook is apparently preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple for an unfair approach to privacy and default apps

  • Facebook is claiming that the App Tracking Transparency features, allowing users to opt-out of being tracked, are unfair because they don’t appear for Apple’s built-in apps
    • The problem here is that Apple doesn’t track users or share data for advertising purposes, so it doesn’t really apply
  • Facebook will apparently also be focusing on Apple’s refusal to allow other messaging apps to be set as the system default, claiming that limitation is an effort to prevent people from switching to competing brands
    • I’m sure this has nothing to do with them lobbying Apple in September to allow Facebook Messenger to be the default messaging app and being soundly rejected
  • The big bullet point here seems to be that Facebook’s accusing Apple of making changes to line their own pockets, while the reality seems to be that all Apple’s doing here is giving us control over how Facebook monetizes us
  • We’ll have to see if these actions actually get filed, but a lot of it just seems like an tantrum because Facebook will have to start asking permission before harvesting data from iPhone users

In related news, Google is actually pulling the tracking features from their iOS apps

  • Many of Google’s apps still have yet to submit their data privacy labels to the App Store, which will show what data they’re gathering, but in the meantime they’ve announced that rather than ask users to allow themselves to be tracked Google will instead remove tracking altogether
  • Google’s warned that app developers may see a “significant impact” to their Google ad revenue on iOS after the new policy takes effect, but if tracking is so important to their business then they could always leave it in and use the permissions prompt to justify it to their users
  • The fact that they’d rather stop than ask permission is pretty dang telling

Microsoft revealed plans to double the price of Xbox Live Gold this week, drawing so much fire that they reversed course 15 hours later

  • In their planned rollout their cheapest option would have stayed at $60, but cut down to 6 months instead of the current 12
  • The prevailing theory is that this change would have been to push more people toward Game Pass Ultimate, which offers the benefits of Gold with the Game Pass subscription service that’s pretty solid but not necessarily for everyone
  • On the plus side, now instead of doubling the price of Gold they’re keeping prices as-is and also making changes for free-to-play games to allow them online without a Gold membership
  • So it at least shows that they’re open to criticism and willing to make their services a little better instead of much worse

Disney’s making changes to its Disney+ lineup as part of their Stories Matter initiative, an effort to reckon with the company’s history of racist stereotypes and negative depictions

  • Several titles with problematic content like Peter Pan, Aristocats, The Lady and the Tramp, and Dumbo, have been removed from profiles set up for children, though they can still be viewed from regular accounts
  • When watched they also display a strong condemnation of their contents, saying that the stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now, acknowledging the harmful impact, and saying they want to learn from it and spark conversation so that parents can make sure their children have a good mental framework in which to place these movies
  • Conversations about race and stereotypes aren’t easy to have with kids, but you can’t just throw those types of racist caricatures at impressionable minds willy-nilly without doing some harm in the process

This Week In Gaming History 2000’s Edition!

January 23 – 2001 – The Typing Of The Dead – Sega Dreamcast (North America)

  • This is essentially the same game as the arcade light-gun rail-shooter House of the Dead 2, except they’ve turned it into a edu-tainment typing trainer.
    • Instead of guns, your characters have keyboards strapped to them, and instead of shooting the zombies that constantly jump out at you you’ll need to type out the words attached to the zombies in order to kill them before they crack open your head and feast upon the goo inside.
    • The game ranks you on your typing speed and provides various tutorials and other edu-tainment sundries.
  • Otherwise it’s pretty much the same game as House of the Dead 2.
    • Much like the Resident Evil series, the zombie hordes have gone from infesting a vaguely gothic creepy old mansion to infesting a vaguely gothic decaying city, and its your job to stop them and save the human race (as usual).

January 24 – 2000 – Crazy Taxi – Sega Dreamcast (United States)

  • Crazy Taxi is an arcade-like racer where the player takes the role of a taxi driver who weaves his way through crowded streets, across sidewalks, and even underwater, in a wild and frantic race to deliver passengers on time.
    • The courses are largely set inside cities crowded with general traffic and pedestrians (which can’t be run over, they dive away).
    • The main goal is to bring as many customers as possible to their destination in time.
    • Available customers are marked through circles and the color represents the distance and the fare they offer.
    • Green means long rides with plenty of money, and red ones are very short.
  • In the main Arcade mode, there is a timer that quickly runs down.
    • It can be replenished by picking up customers.
    • While driving reckless maneuvers are encouraged.
    • Players can disregard all traffic rules and customers give extra tips for speedy and dangerous driving, but these can only be cashed when the customer arrives at his destination in time.
    • By the same token, the reward at the end of a ride is based on the amount of time left, as each customer also has a personal timer.
    • The city is filled with slopes and jumps, and the game uses a very loose driving model.
    • No damage can be done to the car, so driving as fast as possible is encouraged.
    • While driving players can toy with the gears to perform two special tricks: a crazy drift and a crazy boost to speed up more quickly.
  • Next to the Arcade mode, there is an Original mode and Crazy Box where specific goals need to be met on closed down courses.
    • In the regular modes, it is possible to disregard the usual timer and play for a fixed amount of minutes.
    • At the end of the race, the player is rewarded with a license, either D, C, B or A, with S for outstanding performance.
    • Next to the interactive courses from the arcade version, there is a new course for home consoles.
    • There are four cabs and drivers to choose from.
    • The cars have different statistics and the drivers’ different attitudes while racing.
    • The game has a soundtrack featuring The Offspring and Bad Religion (not for the Xbox 360 version).

January 25 – 2005 – Playboy: The Mansion – PS2, Windows, Xbox

  • Live the life of Hugh Hefner in this “Virtual Hef” simulation.
  • As a young Hugh Hefner, it is the player’s goal to build the Playboy empire through sexy parties and putting together Playboy magazine every month.
    • Build friendships and business contacts with celebrities, political figures, musicians, sports stars and more through hosting events and charming over people.
  • On the business side, Hef has to hire a staff to take photos and write articles for the magazine.
    • The “Playboy Photoshoot” mode allows the player to take the role of photographer.
    • On the personal side, invite friends into your inner circle, and find a girlfriend… or two…. or more.
    • The better the parties Hef throws, the more fame he gets, as well as more interesting people to fill the magazine.
    • More money means a larger staff, and more items (toys and furniture) for Hef to display in the Mansion.
  • Doing well in the game earns Hef points which can be used to purchase extra features, such as cheats and archive photos of Hef and past issue covers.

January 26 – 2003 – Devil May Cry 2 – PlayStation 2

  • Devil May Cry 2 is the sequel to Devil May Cry and once again casts you as Dante, the demon slayer.
  • You control Dante as you battle demons through various levels, ultimately reaching the conclusion and to find out just why these demons are trying to kill everyone.
    • To aid you in your quest, you once again have your trusty sword and various attributes, as well as new moves, like running on walls, aerial kicks, and multi-directional shooting.
  • This time around, Dante is not alone, as you have a partner, named Lucia.
    • Just as much of an asskicker as Dante, Lucia utilizes a kind of knife which she can rapidly throw at her enemies.
  • All the special skills from the first game are here, again activated by your Devil Trigger, which has been improved for the sequel’s release.

January 27 – 2004 – Cops 2170: The Power of Law – Windows

  • COPS 2170 is a tactical strategy game of squad combat with RPG elements set in a futuristic cyberpunk world.
    • It is a prequel to Paradise Cracked, an earlier game by the same company.
  • In the game you control Katy, a new officer fresh from the academy that aims to make a solid career in the police force.
    • You will control her as your main character and recruit additional partners to undertake several missions, which usually involve combat across the urban sprawls of the future against several factions and gangs in the city.
    • As the game progresses a plot starts to surface involving a deranged criminal who aims to bring the city to its knees.
  • You can control up to 6 characters and additional backup NPCs, each with their own stats and equipment and issue orders to them on squad-based turns.
    • Since you are part of the police force there’s no resource management and instead the equipment availability is decided by your rank, which depends on the conditions in which you complete each mission.
    • The game uses a fully polygonal engine and features branching mission objectives and different outcomes based on your in-game actions.

January 28 – 2003 – Black & Bruised – GameCube, PlayStation 2

  • Black & Bruised is a cartoonish take on boxing with 18 different boxers, each with their own personality and fighting style.
    • There are five different modes including multi-player, exhibition, and a story mode told with CG with each boxer’s life story is played out in story mode.
    • Each boxer has a different special attack and power-ups can be picked up to use in matches.
    • There are 30 different facial expressions for each boxer reacting to punches and misses giving them a life-like appearance.

January 29 – 2001 – Oni – Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 2

  • Plot:
    • It’s 2032.
    • The planet is now ruled by the World Coalition Government which annexed 80% of the countries, with the remaining quickly dragged into the WCG.
    • While their official goal was to solve humankind’s problems, it was about money.
    • Massive spending bankrupted poorer countries, and soon all traces of individual government disappeared.
    • For those who were poor, the situation didn’t improved one bit, and for the richer, maintaining the status was done at the expense of their privacy and personal freedoms.
    • To make things worse, life outside the major cities, far from the atmosphere processors is nearly impossible, as the so-called “Wilderness Preserves” are poisoned, and those who venture into them risk a painful death.
    • Konoko, fresh out from TCTF (Technology Crimes Task Force, a secret police to take cyber drugs and weapons from the streets, as well as explore the induced technophobia to operate and investigate on a blank check permission) academy is placed under the command of Terrance Griffin and Dr. Kerr and linked to a SLD – an android – called Shinatama, who is neurally linked to her.
    • However, Konoko knows next to nothing about her past, other that she was orphaned at the age of three and felt “different” to other people while was being brought up under the wing of TCTF.
    • After many years in training, she has finally the chance to prove herself to Griffin and the TCTF, and so, heads for a warehouse rumoured to be under the control of the Syndicate, a criminal organization which grew exponentially after a young man called “Boss Muro” climbed to the top of the organization.
  • Inspired by the classic Anime series Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Masamune, gameplay is a mix between generic third-person shooter and a classic beat’em up.
    • While Konoko has at her disposal several hand-to-hand acrobatic moves (with more unlocked as the player advances), she can also find weapons in the levels, and the decision to go armed or bare-fisted is only up to the player.
    • Each weapon either draws from ballistic or energy cell clips, the number of rounds in each clip depending on the weapon: a Black Adder (a short, one-hand machine gun like an Uzi) can get 30 rounds from a ballistic clip, while a Mercury Bow (a sniper railgun sans scope) only two.
    • Combined with the limited availability of clips, this adds a strategic element to the game, as the player can only carry a weapon at a time, so if a powerful weapons runs out of ammo, the player must choose between keeping the weapon and fight hand to hand with the enemies until Konoko finds fresh ammo clips, or discard it for a lesser gun that uses different ammo.
    • However, if the player runs out of ammo completely when facing a tough challenge, Konoko can “overdose” on hypo sprays (used to heal damage) by using them over her natural health bar, which provides her with faster movement and tougher blows.

Tidbits

  • Reddit took to the stock market this week to inflate the price of stocks like GameStop in order to stick it to hedge funds that have been banking on the prices dropping soon
    • It got to the point where trading had to be frozen multiple times, and the popular trading app RobinHood took the potentially illegal position that their users are now no longer allowed to buy those stocks, only sell
    • Because of this multiple government officials from both sides of the aisle, including AOC and Ted Cruz, have called for an investigation and potential sanctions against RobinHood
  • CDPR has released modding support tools for Cyberpunk 2077, with promises to keep them up to date as patches continue being developed, so we should hopefully see some interesting things added to Night City as time goes on
  • In local news, Edmonton has a new Smash Bros inspired burger joint called Burger Brawl, that has two chefs pitting burgers against each other elimination-style each weekend with new challengers announced each Thursday. Check them out at burgerbrawl.ca

Looking forward to playing The Medium this weekend

  • The Medium is a psychological horror game played in third-person as Marianne, a medium who can travel into the spirit realm.
    • Being able to inhabit both worlds aids puzzle solving.
    • Her psychic abilities may also be used against hostile forces and are recharged by interacting with energy spots called spirit wells.
  • The Medium is developed by Bloober Team, who came up with the idea in 2012.
    • Bloober meant to enhance the immersion by changing their traditional perspective from first- to third-person and taking advantage of Xbox Series X/S’s background streaming.
    • They modelled the supernatural setting after Zdzisław Beksiński’s dystopian surrealist artwork.
    • Lead designer Wojciech Piejko said The Medium imparts the message that “there is no universal truth”.
    • Composers Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka were tasked with scoring the physical and spiritual plane, respectively.
    • Using synthesiser and analogue sounds, Reikowski likened his approach to that of Stranger Things and Chernobyl.
    • Yamaoka worked on the Silent Hill franchise, which inspired the game, including its fixed camera angles.
    • He was persuaded to take on the music when Piejko gave him a gameplay demonstration. Singer Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, also of Silent Hill fame, will contribute vocals.
    • Troy Baker voices the primary antagonist, known as the Maw, for whom another actor performed the motion capture on stilts.
  • The Medium was originally announced for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U in 2012, but for want of better technology, reappeared in May 2020 as a Microsoft Windows and Xbox Series X/S title.
    • Originally scheduled for 10 December 2020, the release was eventually delayed to 28 January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

 

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PS2J 330 News – Modern Gaming Art

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Star Wars Battlefront II: Celebration Edition

      • 2017
      • Third and first person action shooter followup to the Battlefront reboot of 2015 that has you fighting on the ground and among the stars across a variety of maps in the Star Wars universe, with both the multiplayer Battlefield-style gameplay we’re used to in the series as well as a single-player campaign
      • The Celebration Edition bundles it along with a large collection of aesthetic customization content that was available through in-game purchase, all the way from launch up to and including The Rise of Skywalker

CES 2021 highlights

  • Razer showed off Project Hazel, clear futuristic face masks that qualify as N95 respirators, have a good silicone liner to prevent leakage or foggy glasses, and amplify your voice to help keep speech from sounding muffled
  • They also have the Project Brooklyn gaming chair, a bucket seat with an integrated keyboard tray and 60” curved display for more immersion
  • Panasonic has an AR HUD system for vehicles that use eye tracking and projected images on the windshield to show an intelligent overlay including alerts and directions lined up with real-world objects
  • LG showcased their new rollable display tech, leading to scroll-like devices with a thick rounded edge and an adjustable display size
  • Brink Bionics has the Impulse Neuro-Controller, a glove that can detect your intention to click your mouse 80ms before your finger moves
  • ColdSnap wants to be the Keurig of ice cream, aiming to provide pod-based soft-serve made to order in under 120 seconds
  • Petpuls is an AI driven smart dog collar that will decipher up to five different emotions (happy, anxious, angry, sad, relaxed) and track your pet’s activity and sleep
  • And Vuzix has some microLED smart glasses that actually look like something humans would wear, with the added benefit of cellular connectivity, noise-cancelling microphones, stereo audio, and a 3D HUD shown across both lenses

Lucasfilm Games is shifting their entire development strategy, opening the doors to more studios and ending EA’s monopoly on the Star Wars IP

  • The first big news to come from this is that they’re collaborating with Ubisoft on a story-driven open-world Star Wars game, which will be led by Massive Entertainment
    • You might have seen their name on things like Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Far Cry 3, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 1/2
  • They went on to say that their relationship with EA isn’t completely ending though, which makes sense after the great success of Star Wars: Squadrons, and the middling success of Fallen Order
    • This is some good news for Reddit commenters who brought up a great point- why hasn’t Respawn taken their Titanfall chops and made a Republic Commando title?
    • Though that just reminds me how the Clone Wars TV show put a hard stop on the Republic Commando / Imperial Commando books, and makes me a little sad
  • But on to more hope- apparently Lucasfilm Games will also be working with Todd Howard, MachineGames (the team behind the new Wolfenstein titles), and Bethesda on an upcoming Indiana Jones title as well!
  • I’m really looking forward to what Lucasfilm kicking their gaming division into gear will mean for the next few years of releases

CD Projekt’s co-founder released an explanation this week of exactly what happened with Cyberpunk 2077’s development and release

  • In the video statement he defended the development teams and said that the decisions lay solely on his and the board’s shoulders, and promised they would work to regain the trust of gamers
  • Apparently the game was initially developed for PC and then ported to consoles, which led to many of the issues running on PS4 and Xbox One as they underestimated the difficulty of the port
    • And the big reason why review keys for console weren’t sent out until right before release was just because they were still working hard trying to iron out all the issues that they had found
  • The path forward
    • More updates are coming with bug fixes, updates and improvements
    • Once the biggest fixes are out they’ll be releasing free DLC packs aimed at the first half of the year, and the PS5 and Xbox Series optimization updates in the second half
  • So all told we should have the Cyberpunk we were hoping for before the end of 2021, which is something at least. Whether people will start trusting the developers again will remain to be seen

Citing concerns over censorship, a North Idaho internet provider blocked Facebook and Twitter this week

  • For anyone who isn’t aware, Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their platforms due to violations of their terms of service after he incited a riot that invaded the US capitol building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results
    • Keep in mind that this is completely legal, and that the First Amendment only protects speech from being limited by the government
  • According to emails sent by “Your T1 WIFI” to its customers the ISP determined that this was censorship of their customers and information, so they decided to block access to the sites as of Wednesday
    • Your T1 WIFI stated that about 2/3 of its customers had called in asking the sites to be blocked because of these concerns, so the next logical step was to censor block the sites from all customers
  • They’ve since walked back the decision and made it an opt-in process instead, but the damage may already be done- a spokesperson for the Washington Governor’s office said that the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division would be looking in to the matter because of Net Neutrality violations, which forbid broadband internet providers from blocking lawful content and services

In related news, the right-wing social media site Parler has gone dark after being pulled from not only the Apple and Google app stores but also the Amazon web hosting services that the site was running on

  • Apparently Parler was basically chock full of nazis, radical extremists, and terrorists, with much of the content focused on inciting and coordinating violence or other illegal activity
    • Daring Fireball described it as “4chan with rightwing celebrity endorsements”
    • For example Parler investor Dan Bongino, a Fox News commentator and former NYPD police officer, said in a Parler post that the company was “not done with Apple and Google” and encouraged users to “Stay tuned to hear what’s coming.” One user replied: “It would be a pity if someone with explosives training were to pay a visit to some AWS Data Centers – the location of which are public knowledge.”
  • All of this went against the terms of service of the various platforms it was connected to, so therefore it was kicked out even after being given warnings and deadlines in which to implement some kind of moderation plan
    • As it turns out, Parler was actually even in direct violation of its own terms of service
  • Some have taken to screaming first amendment and censorship, but I cannot stress this enough- freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences
  • And those consequences will be coming- apparently in the wake of the US Capitol riot a researcher began archiving every Parler post to create a lasting public record for future researchers to sift through
    • Hacker @donk_enby pulled dozens of terabytes of content, including raw unprocessed photos and videos that include metadata like the exact GPS coordinates at which they were recorded

This Week In Gaming History

January 9 – 2000 – Mario Party 2 – N64 (North America)

  • Mario and a range of well known Nintendo characters, including Yoshi, Bowser, Luigi, and Wario return for some more party action.
  • The second edition includes 5 new boards, each with a specific theme, such as Space Land, Western Land, Horror Land, and Mystery Land.
    • Each board includes unique attributes in relation to the theme, but the main goal is the same: complete the board game over a certain amount of moves and be the player to have the most coins and/or stars at the end.
  • The single player story mode allows one person and 3 CPU controlled players to play each board.
    • Once you play a specific mini-game (64 in all), they become available to purchase using the coins you collected in your games to play anytime.
    • Multiplayer allows 2 to 4 people to play the game.

January 10 – 1997 – Obsidian – Windows

  • The plot of this Myst-influenced 5 CD adventure game involves issues such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
    • Fortunately, the bundled strategy guide explains the basics of these subjects.
    • Gameplay is linear and largely based around puzzles.
  • Obsidian’s had an imaginative advertisement campaign.
    • Combining both printed ads as well as television spots, the campaign was unusual as it portrayed several common situations twisted in a way that defied all laws of physics, nature and logic followed by the tagline “Your rules do not apply here”.
      • For example: a printed ad showing an empty room lit by an overhead lamp, only the lamp produces darkness instead of light.
    • Yet the most impressive ad was the famed “egg” TV spot, which featured a guy dropping an egg to the floor with unexpected results.
    • This commercial became a particular object of cult among publicity buffs and won 3 Gold Clio awards and became a permanent feature on the New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as being a regular on TV commercial specials, and a runner-up for a Cannes Golden Lion award.

January 11 – 2005 – Resident Evil 4 – GameCube

  • Plot:m
    • Picking up six years after Resident Evil 2, the fourth game in the series follows former cop (now US agent) Leon S. Kennedy to Europe on a top secret mission to investigate the disappearance of the president’s daughter Ashley.
    • As Leon encounters unimaginable horrors, he must find out who or what is behind everything.
    • Old friends…and enemies…lurk around every corner as Leon attempts to find out who is truly behind the kidnapping of the president’s daughter.
  • Resident Evil 4 is a major change from the previous installments.
    • Instead of a fixed third person perspective, the game features a new “behind the back” movement camera angle and an “over the shoulder” aiming feature that allows players to control their gun movement for specific body part hits.
    • It features a brand new AI system and more open environments that allow enemies to work together to capture and corner Leon.
    • Enemies are now humans, which allows them to climb up ladders, open doors, and use weapons throughout the game.
  • The entire item system has also been revamped, so that smaller items no longer require an entire item space to hold.
    • Instead, items take up blocks of space in a briefcase according to their real life size, to allow for many more items and weapons.
    • Leon can collect treasure from enemies or from the surrounding area, and visit the infamous “merchant” to purchase bigger briefcases, treasure maps, weapons upgrades, and powerful weapons such as the one-shot RPG.
    • There is also the Mercenaries from Resident Evil 3, which allows the player to play survival scenarios as character such as Hunk and even Albert Wesker himself.
  • Development:
    • The earliest version of the game was announced for the PS2 under Resident Evil 2 with director Hideki Kamiya.
    • This build was eventually cancelled as a Resident Evil installment and became the title known as Devil May Cry.
    • Eventually, development was moved to the Gamecube console and another build emerged.
    • This was the first version to feature Leon from RE2. The game’s main menace was to sport a hook on one of its hands, and the logo for the game reflected this (this can still be seen in the final logo).
    • More versions were created and cancelled before Shinji Mikami took over and transformed the title into what it is today.
    • Of all the builds developed, only one of them was never unveiled to the public (it was the one that was being worked on right before Mikami took over).
    • Early in the development stages the game’s setting was Japan, not Europe.

January 12 – 2016 – That Dragon, Cancer – Windows, Mac, Ouya

  • That Dragon, Cancer is an autobiographical and crowd-funded game created with a small team and based on the experience of the couple Ryan Green and Amy Green, who lost their son Joel Evan Green to cancer.
    • The game consists of fourteen interactive sequences that chronicle their time with Joel, incorporating their thoughts and experiences, and voiced by themselves and their other children.
    • It represents a love letter to their son and a way to immortalize him.
    • Joel was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor when he was twelve months old, leading to terminal cancer, but he went on to live for four more years until he passed away in 2014.
  • Each scene shows a different moment of their time together with Joel, both the highs and the lows.
    • Scenes are often abstract or involve metaphorical interpretations of situations and are played from a first-person or a third-person perspective with small amounts of interaction and exploration.
    • Sometimes there are choices for the player or optional parts that can be explored or examined.
    • There are scenes at the pond, playing with a duck, in the playground, the hospital and so on.
    • Scenes show both the positive moments such as Joel playing or the conversations with the other children, but also the couple when they argue, the moment of the first diagnosis, the conflict between science and faith and so on.
    • A part of the crowd-funded contributions also involves messages and art incorporated in the game.
  • Along with the game, a documentary called Thank You for Playing was filmed, documenting the game’s development and the last years of Joel’s life.
    • It was released in 2016. The game was released on what would have been Joel’s seventh birthday.

January 13 – 2004 – Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel – Xbox, PS2

  • Setting:
    • In a post-apocalyptic future, a society known as the Brotherhood of Steel is born, wielding powerful weapons and armor from the time before the war, they seek to bring some form of order to the wastelands of what used to be the United States.
    • As a new member(s) to the Brotherhood, you’ll soon find yourself separated from your comrades and forced to contend with a variety of missions and challenges alone.
    • Radscorpions, Super-Mutants and Deathclaws are all in the Brotherhood’s way, and bringing an end to their tyranny will certainly make the wasteland a safer place.
  • Brotherhood of Steel is an action game set in the Fallout universe.
    • The Brotherhood members are well armed and carry full clips of ammo (which does run out).
    • New weapons of various nature can be found and equipped to bring new tactics.
    • Shooting down enemies earns experience points and these points are used to improve the attributes of various individual skills.
    • Additionally, your character will have to contend with finding keys and other objects, protecting NPCs and jumping over bottomless pits.
  • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel features a product placement for the real life Bawls energy drink.
    • This may be jarring to fans of the Fallout series, who are used to having Nuka-Cola as the post-apocalyptic drink of choice.
  • Fan response to this game was so overwhelmingly negative that Interplay actually shut down the official Brotherhood of Steel message board.
    • It is so hated by the Fallout fanbase, the game’s section on the No Mutants Allowed forums (one of the biggest Fallout forum) is called: “Fallout: Piece of Shit (PS2, XBOX, My Lower Intestine)”.

January 14 – 1999 – EA pulls Tiger Woods 99 on Playstation for bootlegging South Park

  • Company recalls PSX version of Tiger Woods 99.
  • A bootleg episode of Southpark was found on the CD in normally unused space.
  • The file was only readable via a PC, and was invisible to the PSX console.
  • Recall was issued since Southpark is offensive to some people.
  • Roughly 100,000 copies were affected.

January 15 – 2002 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front – PS2

  • Based on the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series.
    • Ride with the bad guys as you battle Earth Federation forces for independence.
    • Take control of three mobile suit teams. Use strategy tactics to infiltrate federation bases.
    • Use a wide variety of Mobile suits equipped to kill.
    • Strategically set your route to carry out mission objectives successfully

Tidbits

  • Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy S21 series of phones with edge-to-edge display, 120hz refresh rate, and 8K video recording
    • The Ultra model also brings a larger display and S Pen functionality for people that miss the Note series
    • Unfortunately it looks like not even Samsung staff are that into their hardware, with tweets promoting the release being marked from “Twitter for iPhone”
  • WhatsApp is now in a rush to reassure people that some of their data is still safe after changing its terms and privacy policy to include significant data sharing with Facebook
    • Backlash from those changes saw Signal and Telegram hitting the top of the free app charts on iPhone as people found other options for messaging
    • They went out of their way to list the things they don’t share like private messages, call logs, and your location, but doesn’t mention what they do share like device usage, IP address, and unspecified “other information”
  • Apple announced a set of new major projects this week as part of its $100M Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of colour
    • This includes an innovation and learning hub both in Atlanta and online, an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, and venture capital funding for entrepreneur POC’s
  • Roku has purchased Quibi’s old content library of about 75 shows and documentaries for well under $100M according to the Wall Street Journal, giving them exclusive rights through to the end of the year and shared streaming rights through 2027
    • Roku will be offering the content for free with ads, which likely means that a lot more people will see these shows now than would have otherwise

 

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PS2J News 329 – 2020 New Game Plus

Free Games

  • Epic Games
    • Crying Suns
      • 2019
      • Story-rich tactical rogue-lite that puts you in the role of a space fleet commander as you explore a mysteriously fallen empire, uncovering the truth about it and yourself
  • Twitch
    • Overcooked
      • 2016
      • A co-op party game where you and up to three friends work together in a kitchen to prepare meals, working around fires, shifting floors, and other obstacles
    • Sword Legacy Omen
      • 2018
      • Turn-based tactical RPG in a re-imagined King Arthur mythos where you play a vengeful knight in search of the long-lost Excalibur
    • Bridge Constructor Playground
      • 2014
      • Classic physics-based bridge building puzzle gameplay, but now with no fixed budget and next to no limitations on building materials
    • Alt Frequencies
      • 2019
      • An audio mystery set in a time loop. Record, rewind time and broadcast snippets of radio shows to expose radio hosts, conspiracy theorists, and politicians.
    • Along the Edge
      • 2016
      • Interactive visual novel set in the European countryside, where your choices impact the main character’s personality and appearance.
    • When Ski Lifts Go Wrong
      • 2019
      • Physics-based construction puzzler similar to Bridge Constructor, but this time you’re building different contraptions to carry skiers up the slopes with added control over the riders
    • Void Bastards
      • 2019
      • Science-fiction roguelike first person shooter inspired by BioShock and System Shock 2. Can you lead the misfit prisoners of the Void Ark through the derelict spaceships and myriad dangers of the Sargasso Nebula?
  • Playstation
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
      • 2018
      • Action adventure game continuing the narrative from Rise of the Tomb Raider, following Lara Croft as she races to stop a Mayan apocalypse that she has unleashed
    • GreedFall
      • 2018
      • Action RPG set in a 17th-century style fantasy world where you explore a remote island alongside other settlers, mercenaries, treasure hunters, and invaders, with combat, diplomacy, and stealth
    • Maneater (PS5)
      • 2020
      • Open world action RPG where you start as a shark pup tasked with surviving the harsh world while eating your way up the ecosystem
      • People who recently purchased Maneater on either PS4 or PS5 have reportedly gotten automatic refunds from Sony, giving them free access to the PS4 version, but otherwise it’s only free on the PS5
  • Xbox
    • Little Nightmares
      • 2017
      • A dark, whimsical side-scrolling platformer that will confront you with childhood fears as you escape The Maw- a vast, mysterious vessel inhabited by corrupted souls looking for their next meal.
    • Bleed 2
      • 2017
      • Side-scrolling arcade action platformer featuring air-dodging, bullet-reflecting, and tons of bosses, like a 2D Bayonetta bullet-hell
    • The King of Fighters XIII

      • 2010
      • A significantly modified entry in the King of Fighters fighting game series that removed the guard attack, critical counter, and clash systems, as well as the dynamic zooming camera, in favour of new enhancements to super moves, Hyper Drive mode, and Drive Cancel.

 

Facebook and Twitter finally locked Trump’s accounts this week after his disinformation and incitement led to a riot that breached the US capitol building

  • After years of being complicit with Trump’s hate speech under the guise of public interest, all it took was armed police having to retake the US Senate, killing four and arresting 52, for these platforms to recognize that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, nor does it mean you are entitled to a platform or an audience
  • This is what you get when you have websites dedicated to driving engagement with extreme, polarizing content under the guise of news or social interaction

 

A couple of sizeable cyberattacks came to light involving software development and network management tools, impacting everyone using tools from Jetbrains and SolarWinds (including the US government)

  • Security researchers apparently told SolarWinds that anyone could access their update server using the password ‘solarwinds123’, but since no action was taken hackers used that to push malicious updates to their software
  • Among the targets were dozens of email accounts and government encryption keys, showing pretty definitively that we can’t trust them with the encryption backdoors that they’ve been demanding for years

 

Apple stealth-dropped the new AirPods Max, wireless over-ear headphones with all the bells and whistles including a premium price tag

  • The stainless steel headphones bring the AirPods Pro featureset to over-ear sound quality, and apparently they sound great, but they also cost $780 CAD
    • They make premium noise-cancelling headphones from Bose and Sony look downright affordable at half the price
  • They also come with a bizarre headphone-cozy to cover up the earcups and put them into sleep mode, but it’s a soft case that only covers the earcups with minimal protection
  • Also, if you want to use them wired instead of wireless you need to buy a separate lightning to 3.5mm cable specifically from Apple, and unlike competitors like Bose they won’t work wired if the battery is dead

 

US state and federal governments are suing Facebook in twin antitrust suits, looking to split up their monopoly over our digital lives including separating out Instagram and WhatsApp

  • Considering in the 6 years since purchasing WhatsApp the messaging went from “privacy is coded into our DNA” to “you can get some neat features if you let us connect your data” to now “if you want to use WhatsApp your data will be used for advertising and Facebook products”, I think they’ve got a pretty good shot
  • It would be great if they would pry Oculus out of there as well, but I haven’t seen mention of that anywhere

 

Cyberpunk 2077 had a rough launch, leading to refunds and even being pulled from digital stores after running abysmally on previous-generation consoles

  • And I do have to take back some of what I’ve said about the game- directors and marketing claimed the game was done months ago and the delays were caused by polish, but it just straight up wasn’t done. They needed more time, not more deadlines
    • Apparently even though the next-gen version won’t be released till later this year they never showed it running on the Xbox One or PS4 before launch (you know, the consoles that it was released for), leading to a lot of disappointment when people received the game and saw that it looked so much worse than they expected
    • CD Projekt Red released a statement apologizing for that, saying they should have spent more time making it run better
  • Hopefully they can continue to develop it into the game it should have been released as, leading up to its actual PS5/Xbox Series launch

 

Facebook’s begun using full-page newspaper ads to slam Apple’s upcoming privacy measures, claiming they’re standing up for small businesses, titled “Apple vs the free internet”

  • Taking the Epic Games approach, Facebook’s defending their practices by holding up a small-business strawman and saying that they just want to protect the little guy by getting to do whatever they want
  • The ads say that Apple’s changes will limit small and medium sized businesses ability to run personalized ads, leading to less bang for their buck, and that’s really all Facebook’s worried about. Not the fact that Facebook won’t have as much access to data they harvest on everyone to sell those very same ads. 
  • This is very much the same problem that law enforcement is having with encryption and privacy- they’ve had free access to look through peoples’ windows for so long, they can’t stand the idea of people installing blinds and being allowed to close them if they want to
  • The privacy measure that has them up in arms, by the way, is just a popup asking if you want to allow an app to track your activity across other apps and websites. There’s a spot where they can explain why they need it, and buttons to either “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow”. That’s it.
    • Maybe instead of wailing and tearing their shirts over this, crying to businesses that they have no choice but to comply with the tracking transparency features, Facebook should be convincing users why they should click Allow

 

Popular video conferencing app Zoom continues to be awful, now accused by the US Justice Department of suppressing calls about Tiananmen Square at China’s behest

  • According to the Washington Post, Zoom executives worked with Chinese law enforcement to monitor calls both within and outside of China for discussions of political and religious topics deemed unacceptable by China’s Communist Party
  • The monitoring lead to disrupting video calls, terminating accounts, and delivering personal information about identified users to government officials in China
  • This proves pretty definitively that they don’t use encryption, your calls are not private, and we as a global community need to stop using Zoom

 

These Weeks in Gaming History

December 8 – 1997 – Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor – Windows

  • This game is strictly multiplayer game.
    • It broke records with the fact that there can be 51 players playing it at the same time.
    • Every player has only one unit, and only one is to be the sole survivor.
    • Otherwise, the graphic is same as in original Command & Conquer DOS and GOLD version, with some extra units as a difference.

December 9 – 1995 – WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness – DOS

  • WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness is a fantasy themed real-time strategy game and sequel to WarCraft: Orcs & Humansset on the world of Azeroth.
    • With the conquest of the kingdom of Azeroth in the first war, the orcs are now preparing for an invasion of Lordaeron and conquer the remaining human, dwarven and elvisch realms.
    • In an effort to counter this invasion the humans, elves and dwarves formed an alliance in the hope to avert the same fate the kingdom of Azeroth met.
  • The game comes with many new features such as fighting not only over land but also over sea and air, SVGA 640×480 resolution graphics with many newly-rendered buildings and units, multiplayer-support with up to eight players, as well as a Red Book audio soundtrack, and a scenario editor that allows players to design and create their own scenarios.
    • The editor requires Windows 3.1 or greater, even though WarCraft II is a DOS-based game.

December 10 – 2020 – Cyberpunk 2077 – PS4, Xbox One, Windows

  • Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification.
    • You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality.
    • You can customize your character’s cyberware, skillset and playstyle, and explore a vast city where the choices you make shape the story and the world around you.
  • Become a cyberpunk, an urban mercenary equipped with cybernetic enhancements and build your legend on the streets of Night City.
  • Enter the massive open world of Night City, a place that sets new standards in terms of visuals, complexity and depth.
  • Take the riskiest job of your life and go after a prototype implant that is the key to immortality.

December 11 – 2001 – Shadow Hearts – Playstation 2 North America

  • Yuri Hyuga is a young harmonixer: a man who possesses the power of transforming into demons.
    • He meets Alice Elliot, a young British girl whose father was brutally murdered, and who is chased by a mysterious warlock who calls himself Roger Bacon.
    • Yuri and Alice travel through the pre-war China, dealing with demons, evil magicians, and Japanese occupation army.
    • The journey eventually takes them and their friends to Europe, where they have to confront their ultimate enemy, but also uncover the truth about their own pasts.
  • Shadow Hearts is a Japanese-style role-playing game set in a historical period (China and Europe of 1913, one year before the World War I) with plenty of supernatural elements mixed in.
    • The game shares plot-related and stylistic traits with Koudelka, to which it can be considered a sequel.
    • The player navigates a party of characters (up to three active combatants) over pre-rendered backgrounds.
    • Combat with regular enemies occurs randomly. During battles, characters use regular attacks or cast spells.
    • In addition to the regular health (HP) and magic points (MP), each character also has a special SP (“sanity points”) bar.
      • Sanity bar is gradually depleted in combat; when characters run out of SP, they become insane and hence uncontrollable, until their sanity is restored with items.
  • The game implements traditional turn-based combat style for the battles, adding to it a feature called Judgment Ring.
    • Every time a character performs an attack, a ring with a spinning arrow appears on the top of the screen.
    • If the player stops the arrow when it is over a critical area on the ring, the attack will be more powerful.
    • However, missing the larger hit area will cancel the attack completely.
    • Various types of attacks have rings of various difficulty; usually, the more powerful a spell is, the smaller the hit area is on the ring.
    • The Judgment Ring is also used for other purposes; it can help the player reduce prices in stores, and is needed to solve several puzzles.
  • All characters except Yuri learn new abilities automatically when leveling up.
    • Due to his demon-fusion abilities, Yuri can collect soul energy and use it to acquire various fusion forms.
    • When Yuri transforms into a demon he gains unique abilities, and continues fighting with the party as a controllable character.
    • He also has to travel to a graveyard in his own mental realm from time to time, in order to face his own inner demons and clear Malice, negative vengeful energy the party accumulates by killing enemies.

December 12 – 2000- Star Wars: Episode I – Obi-Wan’s Adventures – Game Boy Color

  • Play as Obi-Wan through many levels of battle droids, similar in style to Jedi Power Battles.
    • You can use your lightsaber, blaster or the force to defeat the enemy and advance to the final showdown with Darth Maul.

December 13 – 1996 – Sonic Blast – Game Gear (Japan)

  • Sonic Blast was released for Game Gear in conjunction with Sonic 3D Blast (aka Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island) for Genesis/MD and Saturn.
    • It boasted similarly rendered character sprites and colorful backgrounds.
    • The game was yet another addition to the series, plus Sega had hoped it would be a boost to the dying Game Gear’s title selection at the time.
    • Brazilian based TecToy re-released the game for Sega Master System in 1997, a year after the initial release (while many may think this is a pirated title, TecToy is indeed licensed to produce and release games under the Sega name).

December 14 – 2017 – Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory – PS4, PS Vita (Japan)

  • Brand new title from the “Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth”.
    • Set in the near future, the line between the real and digital worlds is blurred, become a hacker and utilize computer viruses called Digimon to tackle the incidents caused by hostile hackers other Digimons.
  • Scan, raise, train and battle Digimon in classic turn-based gameplay!
    • 「Adventure」…Take on the role of a hacker within the cyber space and resolve the digital woes! Command Digimons and utilize your hacking skills!
    • 「Training」…Seek out Digimons and put them through intensive training before evolving into stronger breeds!
    • 「Battle」…Form your very own Digimon team for battle! Take on fights effortless with mastery of Digimon skills and elements at your disposal!
      • A total of 320 Digimon variants available and a wide range of brand new support skills effectively expands your battle arsenal.
  • Team battle simulation & quests such as the ”Domination Battle”, ”Territory Contest” etc. along with enhanced online gameplay elements are added as well.
  • With just this title, you would have access to all the gameplay elements ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ world could ever offer!
  • Main story from the previous title ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ included with cross-save features and special bring-over bonus available as well!
  • New players could fully enjoy the ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ series like any existing players too!

December 15 – 1992 – Batman Returns – DOS

  • Frigid winter winds swept over an already chilled Gotham City.
    • Random street crimes were running at an all-time high, despite the holidays.
    • Down below, in the city’s frozen sewers, Oswald Cobblepot, known as The Penguin, planned more mayhem and schemed the take over of the frightened metropolis.
    • His loyal army of missile-packing Penguin Commandos and the bizarre Red Triangle Circus Gang are energized by the evil genius of the web-footed orphan.
    • A desperate call to Batman goes up.
  • Batman Returns is an adventure game with fighting sequences, based on the movie of the same name.
    • Control Batman’s combat style, and help conduct relentless interrogations of The Penguins many allies.
    • Use the Batcave computer to input clues, analyze evidence, and review enemy bios.
    • You’re in charge of weapons, too.
    • Stock Batman’s Utility belt with enough heat to match the diverse fighting styles of The Penguin and cold-blooded, sewer-dwelling minions.

December 16 – 2003 – The Sims: Bustin’ Out – GameCube, PS2, XBox

  • The Sims: Bustin’ Out is the console sequel to The Sims and the second Sims game to appear on the major consoles.
    • Sims can now leave their house and visit all different kinds of locations.
  • In the mission-based Bust Out mode, the player starts at Mom’s house learning that evil Malcolm Langrabb is repossessing items from all the Sims homes.
    • Your job is to make enough money to buy back all the goods and eventually evict him from his own mansion.
    • The game also features an open-ended Freeplay mode.
  • Bustin’ Out’s big new features are the ability to visit and move between houses through the single player progression as well as an online multi-player mode for 2 people on the PS2.
    • The servers for the online mode have since been shut down.

December 17 – 2002 – Super Bubble Pop – GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Xbox

  • A combination of Tetris and Bust-A-Move, Super Bubble Pop has you controlling a character along the bottom of the playfield, who you use to throw bubbles of different colours towards the other side of the playfield.
    • As you throw them down the line, they will stack up in piles of six.
    • Linking three bubbles together will pop them (remove them from the field), and if there is a stack of six, the bubbles on the way will form a new stack in front of it.
  • The aim of the game is to remove all bubbles from the field, but there is another way of completing a game.
    • Tokens will appear during play, and by collecting enough, you can move on to the next round regardless of what you have on the playfield.

December 18 – 1998 – Star Craft: Brood War – Windows

  • StarCraft: Brood War is an add-on for StarCraft (requiring the full version of StarCraft) and a direct continuation of its story.
  • Plot:
    • With the demise of the Overmind on the Protoss home world at the end of the original game, the Zerg are left leaderless.
      • In an attempt to regain control, a number of cerebrates merge to form a new Overmind. Kerrigan, a human/Zerg hybrid however wants to take control of the Zerg herself.
      • The Protoss are evacuating what is left of their people from their ruined home world.
      • Meanwhile the United Earth Directorate (UED) have learned of the recent developments in the sector.
      • Fearing for the safety of Earth they sent an expeditionary fleet there to secure it.
  • Brood War brings several changes to the game, altering some gameplay aspects of the game, the most important change being the addition of new units.
    • The Terrans receive the Valkyrie, a craft with air-to-air fighting capabilities.
      • They also obtain the Medic, which can heal all non-mechanic units and, through upgrades, can use the Restore (remove all ailments on a unit) and Optical Flare (reduce the sight range of an enemy unit to 1) powers.
    • The Zergs receive the Lurker, obtained after mutating an Hydralisk, which can, and actually must, burrow to attack.
      • They also gain the Devourer, after mutation of a Mutalisk, an air-to-air unit, whose acid shots have notably the specificity of temporarily lowering the enemy defense, allowing other units to do increased damage.
    • The Protoss receive the Corsair, an air-to-air unit, which has access to the Disruption Web power (which, once cast, prevents targeted enemy units from firing outside of the web).
      • The Dark Templars, already seen in the original StarCraft are now a producable unit.
      • Their main strength lies in their permanent cloaking, allowing them to deliver their strong close combat attacks unharmed.
      • Additionally, in the same manner as two Templars can be merged as an Archon in StarCraft, two Dark Templars can now be merged to obtain a Dark Archon.
        • A Dark Archon has access to several powerful powers: Mind Control (giving permanent control of the targeted unit), Maelstrom (temporarily rendering all non-mechanical units within the target area unable to do anything) and Feedback (removes from a target unit the amount of energy it has available for special powers and inflicts it this amount as physical damage).
  • Besides the new units, some units already featured in StarCraft can now be upgraded in certain areas.
    • For instance, the Terran Goliath can have the range of its ground-to-air missiles be tremendously increased. Similarly, the Zerg Ultralisk can now receive speed and armor upgrades.
  • Other changes include a better AI and some alterations of the cost of certain units.
  • Three new campaigns are available.
    • In order, a Protoss campaign featuring 8 missions, a Terran campaign also featuring 8 missions and a Zerg campaign comprising 10 missions (plus a bonus mission if some requirements are met in mission 9).
  • The add-on also comes with about 100 multiplayer maps.

December 19 – 1994 – Blackthorne – DOS

  • The planet Tuul was a peaceful place, until the evil warrior Sarlac used the power of the Darkstone to take control.
    • Blackthorne’s father, the good King Vlaros, sent him to Earth just as his kingdom crumbled around him.
    • Now, twenty years later, Blackthorne is grown and must return to Tuul to free it from the clutches of Sarlac.
  • Blackthorne is a platform action game played from a side-view with non-scrolling backgrounds.
    • It has certain similarities to Prince of Persia, being set in maze-like environments and focusing on exploration and occasional puzzle-solving.
    • Blackthorne fights enemies by shooting at them.
    • His default weapon, a pump action shotgun, can be upgraded throughout the course of the game.
    • Various types of bombs can be used to damage enemies, blow open doors, or destroy generations.
    • Keys must be often found to gain access to new areas.

December 20 – 2013 – TRIHAYWBFRFYH (The Rapture Is Here And You Will Be Forcibly Removed From Your Home) – Browser, Mac, Windows

  • TRIHAYWBFRFYH is a short experimental game based on the theme of loneliness in the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
    • Set in a misty setting with fields, hills and forests, the protagonist experiences the last 20 minutes before rapture, the end of the world.
    • A large alien or celestial shape looms above while time counts down.
    • The player is free to explore the environment in any direction.
    • Four type of trails, marked by large vertical columns in a different colour, can be tracked.
    • When the character gets near one of them, part of a Lovecraft story is narrated and the coloured sphere appears somewhere else.
  • There are no clear goals in the game except to explore, listen to the stories and hear the electronic music drone on as the inevitable rapture gets near.
    • At regular intervals lightning may strike or an earthquake may occur.
    • Movement is done with four keys along with the mouse to look.
    • The secondary mouse button provides a zoomed-in view.

December 21 – 2000 – The Broken Land – Windows

  • An RPG game in the dungeon crawl style of Diablo.
    • The basic story involves you saving Heaven (not Earth) by re-combining the 5 pieces Heaven was split into by a battle with the gods and the forces of evil.
    • Game play is hack-and-slash with limited interaction with NPCs and merchants.
    • Characters have limited upgrades available to them as do the weapons and armor.
    • The game was released with no printed manual (it was included on the disk, but was inaccurate to the actual game play).

December 22 – 1998 – South Park – N64

  • A comet is heading toward South Park, causing many of the enemies from early seasons of the shows (including cows, aliens, and clones) to rise up and attack.
    • The player takes control of Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Stan to fight through the town in a first-person perspective.
    • Features new dialogue from the original voice actors on the show.
  • Single player takes the form of a “Story” mode divided into five episodes and fifteen linear levels.
    • The player will face weak minions (which change based on the episode), plus occasional sub-bosses which will try to escape into town.
    • The final level is devoted to a unique boss fight.
    • Players use quirky weapons ranging from infinite yellow snowballs to cow launchers and toxic Terrance and Phillip dolls.
    • Every weapon has a secondary fire, and players switch between the four main characters when they switch weapons – each of the four kids shares a single life bar because of this.
    • The kids will comment on game actions as they occur, with heavier profanity censored with bleeps.
    • The kids will get angrier (and fouler) as their health depletes, until they finally give up on saving the town and go home.
  • A multiplayer mode lets players take characters and weapons they unlock in Story mode into small deathmatch arenas.
    • The PlayStation version supports 2 players, the N64 does 4, and the PC version allows players to go online to search for opponents through GameSpy.
    • Players can set standard victory options like knockouts or time limits.
    • Voice samples for multiplayer are also included, so the characters will make comments and taunts when hit.
  • Graphics are rendered in 3D, in a style approximating that of the show.
    • Draw distance is limited by a heavy fog, with varying severity based on the platform.
    • None of the environments are interactive, and only enemies respond to weapon hits.
    • The N64 version supports the Expansion Pak.

December 23 – 2015 – Who’s Your Daddy – Linux, Mac, PC

  • Who’s Your Daddy is a two-player versus game in which one player controls a bumbling father, while the other takes the role of his infant son.
    • The father is responsible for the baby’s well-being, and as such needs to work to baby-proof the house.
    • He can also perform chores that will grant special abilities that help him keep an eye on the child and any hazards.
    • However, the player controlling the baby is given the goal of taking his own life through whatever means are available, such as drowning himself or ingesting poisonous chemicals.
    • The baby wins if he is able to commit suicide, while the father wins if he is able to keep his son alive until time runs out.

December 24 – 2009 – Tuper Tario Tros. – Browser

  • Tuper Tario Tros. is a mash-up of two classic games: Super Mario Bros. and Tetris.
    • Inspired by the puzzle platforming in Lucidity, this is the first in a series of deep water experiments by the developers to test experimental game prototypes.
    • The game starts like a traditional Super Mario Bros. platformer clone with the classic elements, enemies and power-ups, until Mario encounters a wall that cannot be passed.
    • From that point on, it is possible to switch to Tetris-style gameplay with the press of a key to move around and rotate falling blocks to redesign the level, creating lines to make blocks disappear or building bridges to cross gaps.
  • While in Tetris mode, Mario cannot be moved, but the gameplay is not paused.
    • Enemies continue to move around and the screen also moves forward at a steady pace.
    • Blocks can also be used to crush enemies.
    • At the end of the level, there is an additional section where both modes need to be used quickly in succession to complete a time-limited end sequence.

December 25 – 2010 – Coffee Forever – Mac, Windows

  • In Coffee Forever, you must find coffee!
    • You begin on a screen that is mostly hidden.
    • You must move about the screen, revealing more of the screen and finding and gathering cups of coffee.
    • Once the minimum number of them are found, the level is complete.
    • You must find the minimum number of cups before your coffee meter, a.k.a. the timer, runs out.
    • Also, be careful as there are spikes on the playing field. If the time runs out or you hit a spike, you lose a life.
    • Lose all your lives and the game is over.

December 26 – 2001 – Final Fantasy X – PS2

  • Tidus is a young athlete who lives in a futuristic city of Zanarkand – “the city that never sleeps”.
    • He plays blitzball, a ball game where players throw the ball while flying around.
    • Suddenly, a terrible disaster happens.
    • A huge dark wave engulfs the city, spawning monsters.
    • Tidus comes in contact with the mysterious creature, and as a result finds himself in a different world, a thousand years into the future.
    • The civilization he is used to doesn’t exist any more.
    • He learns that the world he knew was destroyed by Sin, a terrible being that is believed to be indestructible.
    • Tidus meets a young summoner named Yuna, and joins her as a guardian on her quest to put an end to Sin.
  • Final Fantasy X is Japanese-style role-playing game set in a world somewhat similar to South Asia.
    • Only individual locations can be physically explored; there is no “world map” in the game, and exploration is fairly linear.
    • Enemy encounters are random; the game abandons the series’ traditional ATB (active-time battle) combat in favor of a Conditional Turn-Based Battle system, in which the turns of the participants are determined by characters’ stats and actions, with turn order displayed in the upper corner of the screen.
  • The game also departs from the usual leveling up system.
    • There are no character levels in the game: instead, experience points received after battles can be allocated by the player directly to upgrade the characters’ parameters.
    • Each character has his or her special “sphere map”, with straight or branching paths containing spots that increase the character’s personal statistics, or teach him or her active and passive abilities.
    • The characters are given distinct class attributes, and it is possible top switch between all the party members during the same battle. Monster summons (called aeons in the game) now behave like playable characters, have their own hit points (HP), and can fight for the party until defeated.
  • Conversations that occur during cutscenes have voice overs, for the first time in the series.
    • The game features various mini-games, the most prominent of which are blitzball tournaments.

December 27 – 1995 – The Indian In The Cupboard – Mac, Windows

  • Inside of a young boy’s cupboard, the tiny toy figurine native american named Little Bear has come to life.
    • Letting the tiny man guide you through several activities will allow you to bring more toys to life and show your accomplishments on your wampum belt.
    • Some of the available activities include the bead pictures game, where you practice your artistry with carved Iroquois templates and colored beads.
    • There’s also the Music Mimicry game and the Symbols game and several more.
    • Completing all the activities successfully opens up a new area, the Bedroom 3-D environment and makes available six different quests.

December 28 – 2004 – MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf – Xbox

  • MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf takes place roughly one year after the original MechAssault game.
    • This is not a simple extension of the first game.
    • There are a lot of new missions, vehicles (mechs, tanks, and whatever else the player can find), and worlds to explore.
    • Jump in and let’s go for a ride.
  • The game adds new gameplay elements to the system used in MechAssault.
    • In the original game, the player was a Mech pilot and nothing else.
    • Here, the player is the only pilot in the game world.
    • This means that the player can now get out of a Mech and drive someone else’s Mech.
    • Want to drive a tank or some of the other vehicles?
    • Well, now it is possible.
    • Jump in many of the vehicles and take one for a ride
    • Of course, the Battlemech still rules the field.
  • Like the original game, Xbox Live is fully supported for multiplayer gaming.

December 29 – 2005 – Dead or Alive 4 – Xbox 360

  • The fourth installment in the Dead or Alive series (excluding Beach Volleyball) continues in a similar vein of fighting game.
    • Delivering another dose of combo heavy action set in a variety of highly interactive locations.
  • With Helena assuming control over DOATEC an eclectic cast of fighters from all corners of the world all battle each other for some personal goal. Each character has vastly different, and often unusual, motives.
  • In the main game’s story mode each character fights through a series of encounters, often with a bizarre context eg. taking exception to cruelty to a T-Rex and a fight over a fresh lettuce are both examples of the rather odd but still hilarious Japanese humour.
  • XBOX Live support allows players to watch fights while waiting for their turn in the arena.
    • VOIP is also supported, as with many Live games.
  • Featuring a graphical upgrade and an improved fighting system (tested by some top DOA players before release) Dead or Alive 4 is aimed not only at the older DOA players, but enticing new gamers due to the less intimidating control system, and giving slightly less advantage to the experienced.

December 30 – 2010 – Pong Solitare – Browser

  • Pong Solitaire is a joke game from the web comic artist Steve Napierski.
    • It is a mix between Pong and Solitaire.
    • The gameplay is similar to the classic Pong game, except that the opponent’s paddle occupies the entire height of the screen.
    • That way you can only lose, as you grow tired of bouncing it back to yourself all the time.

December 31 – 1996 – Diablo – Windows

  • Story:
    • Long ago a secret war raged between Heaven and Hell, each using humanity as its pawns.
      • While the Prime Evils of Hell were engaged in war their lesser lieutenants conspired to overthrow them.
      • They mutinied suddenly with the combined forces of Hell, overwhelming the three Primes.
      • Stripped of their power, they were banished to the mortal realm.
      • Human agents of Heaven, upon discovering this, found the three Primes and sealed them within gemstone prisons, each of them sent to a different corner of the earth and kept under guard to prevent them from escaping.
    • As years turns to centuries, however, the power of Heaven’s agents waned, until eventually not even the people of the town of Tristram knew that buried deep under their chapel was the soul of the Lord of Terror, Diablo.
      • As the strength of his prison waned Diablo reached out into the world, corrupting the dreams of the land’s good king, driving him to attack his neighbors.
      • The nation of Khanduras fought wars with no intention of winning, desiring only slaughter and suffering.
      • Now the lands lay scorched, home only to monsters and the dead.
      • Rumors spread of a way to stop the demons, as well as rumors of great wealth, and both draw adventurers from far to the small town of Tristram.
  • Players start by choosing their avatar’s class: either Warrior, Rogue, or Sorcerer.
    • Warriors have the highest maximum strength and can repair weapons and armor inside the dungeon, but this will lower the item’s maximum durability.
    • The Rogue has the highest maximum dexterity and can both see and disarm traps on treasure chests.
    • The Sorcerer has the highest maximum magic attribute and can recharge the charges on a spellcasting staff at the cost of his own mana.
  • Characters can equip armor, weapons, and accessories found in the chapel’s shifting dungeons, but strong equipment will have minimum attribute requirements to be worn.
    • Most equipment will have randomized stats, but some strong monsters will drop Unique weapons with set stats.
    • Magic can be learned by finding magic tomes, and leveled up by finding multiples of the same spell tome, but advanced spell levels can not be learned if the character’s magic stat is too low.
    • Upon destroying enough monsters to level up the player is rewarded with additional attribute points to distribute to whichever attributes they wish.
    • Occasionally the few people left in town will inform the player of a job they would like done, either an exceptionally strong monster that must be slain or a unique item found deep in the dungeon, and will reward the player in kind upon completion of the quest.
  • Diablo can be played cooperatively with 1 to 3 other players over LAN or BattleNet with the PC versions, or with 1 player locally on the PlayStation.
    • Players can team up to survive the depths of the dungeons, or turn on each other to steal one another’s items from their corpse.
    • The quest unique zones are removed from the online version of a dungeon, and instead quest monsters will be found wandering the level that would normally lead to their unique area.

January 1 – 1990 – Hugo’s House of Horrors – DOS

  • Hugo’s sweetheart Penelope has vanished after visiting a haunted house on a babysitting job.
    • In order to save her, Hugo must explore the area around, within, and beneath the house and solve its mysteries, while surviving its many perils.
  • Hugo’s House of Horrors is a graphic adventure game, controlled with a combination of the arrow keys for movement, and typed commands such as eat steak to interact with the environment.
    • Some challenges are puzzles which must be solved by clever use of items found in the house, while others require quick and careful movement, or test the player’s knowledge.
  • This game is the first game in the Hugo’s House of Horrors shareware trilogy.
    • This full game was released as a taster for the full trilogy which includes this game plus the titles Hugo’s Mystery Adventure, Hugo’s Amazon Adventure, a hint book and an automatic solver which plays the game like a movie.

January 2 – 2010 – Newton Adventure – Linux, Mac, Windows

  • Newton Adventure is a 2D platform game with a unique feature: in order to get through the 21 levels, the player has to rotate them and change gravity at 360°.
  • By using this special rotating power, the hero can jump to distant platforms, make enemies fall or move objects.
  • Divided in four themed worlds (arctic, jungle, Vatican and Egypt), the 20 levels have the same goals: find the door to exit and the key that open it.
    • The key is an object to be brought by pushing it or by making it fall using gravity change.
  • Aside from completing the levels, the goals is to make highest scores possible, by killing enemies, collecting items or accessing to special bonus zones.

January 3 – 2007 – Paws & Claws: Pet Vet – Nintendo DS

  • You Love Animals and They Love You!
  • Now you can pamper and rescue all of your favorite creatures at your own Paws & Claws Pet Vet.
    • Nurture and love the animals to grow your business and become every animal’s best friend!
  • Features:
    • Nurse all of your injured patients back to health through 20+ cases
    • Choose from 10+ different kinds of animals, from cockatoos and guinea pigs to dogs and horses
    • Visit the 3D clothing shop and choose from 9 cute outfits
    • Become the best vet and you’ll grow your business into the biggest pet clinic in town!

January 4 – 2001 – Thandor: The Invasion – Windows

  • After the defeat of the Golraths, the Alliance of Averes have collapsed and the allies have turned enemies.
    • But in the times of turmoil and despair, some faithful Alliance soldiers are planning for a return to the glorious Alliance…
  • Thandor is a 3D RTS game where you build units and battle other factions for control of resources (to build more units).

January 5 – 2004 – Sonic Battle – Game Boy Advance (North America)

  • Sonic Battle is a fast paced pseudo-fighting game, akin to Super Smash Brothers from Nintendo.
    • Rather than being 3D side-scrolling, this game employs a 3D isometric view- not a static, sprite-based field though, it is comprised of actual texture-mapped polygons.
    • The character sprites are 2D though, and while you think it wouldn’t work- it does 😛
  • You can have 9 characters to choose from, 5 modes of play; Story, Battle, Challenge, Training, and Mini Games; you can link up 4 GBA’s to fight your friends, each character has a bunch of moves you can use to beat the you-know-what out of whoever you’re fighting.
    • It has a system of selecting Aerial, Ground, and Guard based attacks, and depending on what type of attack you set for which area (aerial/ground/guard), you have a possibility of 9 total different special attacks to choose from (only 3 at a time in a match though) which you can change each time you lose 1 stock point.
  • Among the other many features, Sonic Team has also made the game more dynamic with the addition of a trainable character whose abilities and techniques you can raise and add to.
    • You get to pick and choose every aspect of the robot’s style (running, attacking, jumping, dashing, etc etc etc etc etc).
  • The game takes a moderate amount of time to play through as all the characters, and adds a longer lifespan to itself if you wish to play through and beat it completely (all characters, get all moves for the trainable robot, etc).

January 6 – 2010 – Born Into Darkness – Mac, Windows

  • Nathaniel Black joins the vampire Amber Blythe on a treasure hunt around the world, where they must follow the clues left on artifacts and ancient tombs to retrieve the lost Shroud of Lazarus.
  • Born Into Darkness is a hidden object game with adventure elements, where the main objective is to find all pieces of inventory items, to assemble and use them later.
    • The interface tray at the bottom shows the silhouettes of the required objects whose parts are scattered around the location.
    • As in most point-and-click titles, the player moves between scenes by clicking on obvious exit hotspots like doors and other openings.
    • The silhouettes can be selected to show the all the parts necessary to complete the object.
    • Once assembled, the item can be dragged and dropped from the inventory to a logical portion of the scenery to solve puzzles or perform certain actions.
  • The inventory is framed by blue and red hint jewels and medallions for each main character.
    • There are slots for six jewels that highlight the position of one of the required parts when activated, showing only pieces for silhouettes that match their colors.
    • Extra hints can be earned by selecting one of the medallions to play a mini-game.
    • On Nathaniel’s mini-game, the goal is to find and click on the words listed at the top of the medallion on a pile of juxtaposed text at the center.
    • On Amber’s mini-game, the player has to click on the flying ghost whose portrait appears on slots at the side of the medallion.

January 7 – 1998 – Sentry – Windows

  • Sentry is a freeware remake of Geoff Crammond’s all-time classic, The Sentinel.
    • Gameplay remains true to the original, in this battle for dominance via height.
    • Climb higher by building towers of boulders, gain energy by absorbing natural resources and teleport around the strange checkered landscape via robot shells.
    • Meanwhile, you must avoid the deadly gaze of The Sentinel, who looks out from the highest peak.
    • Get higher than him, then absorb him and take his place as ruler.
  • This Windows version includes texture mapping, dynamic lighting, music, an infinite supply of levels and a host of options.
    • There are even two different stereoscopic modes.

January 8 – 2016 – Punch Club – Linux, Mac, Windows

  • Punch Club is a sporting management simulation in which the player manages an upcoming boxer in training and preparation for a series of boxing matches at a local club, while searching for clues of who killed their father.
    • The game was developed as a humorous take on action films of the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The player controls an unnamed boxer whose father, who helped to train him, was murdered.
    • The boxer aims to continue his training and become the best boxer at a local league, while following clues to lead him to who killed his father.
    • The player manages the boxer around the clock through various locations in a city, including his home, the boxing gym, stores, and his work place.
    • Time progresses when the player is involved in any activity, including moving between these locations.

Tidbits

  • Apple launched their “Privacy Nutrition Labels” on the App Store, giving you a full breakdown of what information they’re collecting when you use the app
    • If you want a wake-up call just head over to Facebook’s or Instagram’s listing and scroll through the plethora of info they’re harvesting
  • It begins again- Samsung is deleting posts mocking Apple about not including USB wall adaptors with new iPhones amid plans to do the very same with their Galaxy S21
    • Xiaomi is in the exact same situation too, releasing ads for their Mi10 phone highlighting the included power adaptor and now removing it from the Mi11 citing the environment
  • Adobe Flash is officially dead, with support having ended on December 31st
    • But that which is dead may never die, and you can still see Peanut Butter Jelly Time over at the Internet Archive thanks to emulators
  • Watch Death to 2020 on Netflix
    • Hilarious mockumentary about the year we all just got through, with some great actors and excellent writing

A Smart Bird Feeder

  • Bird Buddy is a Wifi enabled bird feeder
    • Notifies you on bird visitors
    • Takes their photo
    • And organizes it into a collection which is easy to share
    • It will also track the species and catalog it in a collection for you
  • What features make it a Smart Feeder
    • There is a front facing camera, that is equipped with AI that can recognize over a 1000 bird species
    • The built in microphone will also identify birds by song as they approach or pass by.
    • The mobile app lets you access these features as well, wherever you are
  • The module is detachable and upgrade-able from the bird feeder itself.
  • Very much funded
    • A goal of 50,000 euro
    • At time of note taking, over 3 million euro
  • Add on’s:
    • Solar Roof
    • Wall Mount
    • Fence mount
    • Suet Ball holder
  • You are also helping bird conservation
    • Tracking info on bird species will help with migratory patterns and data will be accessible by experts
    • Every feeder also includes a guide to bird feeding

 

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PS2J 328 News – Year in Review

This is our last episode of the year before we take our traditional December vacation, but we’ll be running feed drops through to the end of the year of some other great episodes from the Alberta Podcast Network. Hope you enjoy them, have a fantastic holiday season, and we’ll see you in January!

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Battlefield 3 (on Origin)

      • 2011
      • First person military shooter set during the fictional War of 2014, taking place in the Iran-Iraq region, with missions framed as flashbacks during your interrogation
    • HyperDot

      • 2020
      • Minimalist action arcade bullet hell with one rule- dodge everything
    • The Spectrum Retreat

      • 2018
      • First person narrative driven puzzle game set in the near future that has you exploring the peaceful yet unsettling Penrose Hotel, trying to unearth the truth
    • Wizard of Legend

      • 2018
      • Indie top down 2D roguelike where players take control of a wizard travelling a procedurally generated dungeon, killing monsters and collecting spells to become the Wizard of Legend
    • Lost Horizon

      • 2010
      • Historical point and click adventure game in 1936 where you have to travel the world protecting powerful relics while staying one step ahead of the Third Reich
    • Sigma Theory: Global Cold War

      • 2019
      • Turn-based strategy game in a futuristic cold war where you have to run an intelligence agency to secure control of the singularity
    • Turmoil

      • 2016
      • Indie strategy and management sim inspired by the 19th century oil rush, that has you drilling for oil to become North America’s next big entrepreneur
    • Close to the Sun

      • 2019
      • First person horror adventure game set in an alternate 1897 that has the journalist Rose Archer setting out to save her sister
  • Epic Games

    • Cave Story+

      • The enhanced 2011 release of the 2004 title
      • Metroidvania style game that has you playing Quote, a robot who has suffered amnesia and must blast his way through cavernous areas to find his backstory. Often considered the quintessential indie game because of its one-man dev team and influence on gaming

2020 year in review

  • 290 free games across PC, Xbox, and Playstation platforms
    • Some highlights I’ve personally enjoyed are:
      • Gato Roboto (Xbox) – Streamlined Metroid-style game where you play a cat in an armoured mech trying to save your stranded captain and his crashed ship
      • Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation) – Gorgeous remake of the action adventure game that has you taking down a series of monolithic enemies
      • A Short Hike (PC) – One part Animal Crossing and one part Breath of the Wild, it’s a small exploration game that has you exploring an island and (eventually) climbing a mountain
      • The Stanley Parable (PC) – An exploration game with many endings, that starts with you exploring an office building and going along with the narrator, then can get pretty surreal
      • Hollow Knight (PlayStation) – Metroidvania by way of Soulsborne, with tight controls and a nice art style
  • January

    • Quibi was introduced at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, but unfortunately its dynamic portrait/landscape video player couldn’t keep it afloat among so many other streaming services and it was shut down in October
    • The Xbox Series X was unveiled, the PS5’s logo was shown off, and the FBI kept trying to convince the world that encryption is bad because the only way to stop a bad guy with a lock is a (hopefully) good guy with omniscient, unblinking access to everyone’s data
    • CD Projekt Red pushed back Cyberpunk 2077 for the first time, saying it’s done but just needs more polish
      • Despite that and even though they went ahead with crunch time development, it was delayed two more times but should hopefully be here in another week
  • Feburary

    • Simon Weckert managed to simulate a traffic jam in Google Maps by carting a wagon with 99 smartphones around, causing vehicles using the service to avoid his route
    • E-cigarette maker Juul was sued for predatory advertising, including ads on sites like Cartoon Network and Nick Jr
    • Bioware announced that they would halt Anthem’s seasonal updates in favour of an overhaul, and if they pull it off we could see another No Man’s Sky style rebirth
    • Sonic the Hedgehog achieved the biggest opening weekend of any video game movie at $57M in the US, dethroning Detective Pikachu’s $54M
  • March

    • Apple settled with the US class action lawsuit regarding performance throttling on devices with older batteries
    • A Nintendo PlayStation prototype, the planned CD system for the Super Nintendo, sold at auction for $380,000
    • allthestreams.fm launched in a weird experiment, playing content from the six major streaming services but not letting you choose what each of them played
      • The site is still up, but all the streams have been replaced with the old VHS FBI warning
  • April

    • Zoom’s video conferencing app had a lot of shady practices come to light, including Facebook data harvesting, bypassing normal installation procedures on Mac, not properly encrypting chats, and exposing thousands of videos online thanks to easily-predicted file names
    • The Internet Archive shifted its online Open Library to allow two-week book checkouts of any ebooks, regardless of how many copies were purchased by the library or how many are checked out
    • Sony’s DualSense controllers were first unveiled, and it turns out the haptics and triggers are even nicer to use than we were expecting
    • Apple and Google first announced their joint exposure notification effort to make reliable, meaningful contact tracing easier for the COVID-19 pandemic. This has seen decent adoption, but some jurisdictions are still adamant on using their own home-rolled solutions regardless of efficacy or efficiency
  • May

    • We started to see spam and phishing attacks related to fake COVID exposure notifications, cementing why it’s important to have this kind of thing standardized
    • Wink, a smart home hub manufacturer went from a buy-once system to a subscription model requiring $5/month or your smart home would no longer work with less than a month’s notice
      • Based on the winkhub subreddit, this marked the beginning of the end and had many users migrate to alternatives that don’t rely on the cloud
    • Reports found a new piece of keylogging malware used by law enforcement to trick people into revealing their phone passcode, hidden behind nondisclosure agreements and protective orders
    • Conspiracy theorists began attacking 5G cell phone towers under the impression that the new frequency was somehow causing the coronavirus outbreak
  • June

    • George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who spent almost nine minutes kneeling on Floyd’s neck asphyxiating him while Floyd did not resist, sparking protests and reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement
      • We can’t forget how law enforcement evolved from oppressive practices in white societies, be it union busting, slave catching, or the relocation and elimination of indigenous people, and we need to do better
      • The tech world tried to show respect by delaying events, posting supportive messages, making donations, and even shutting down online services during the memorial
      • There has also been a push to include underrepresented and marginalized people in corporate leadership, with the SEC considering regulations forcing diversity
      • And Juneteenth has become a more widely recognized holiday milestone in the US, celebrating the federal order declaring that all slaves were to be set free and marking a true independence day for the country
    • Star Citizen became the most expensive game in history, reaching $350M invested and still no release date in sight
    • And we got our first taste of Apple’s new processors, which have since proven to be a radical jump in computing
  • July

    • A reboot of the cult classic series Clone High was announced, but we still have yet to hear many details about what it will look like
    • Nintendo’s president officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issues
    • Apple’s iOS 14 beta began highlighting just how common it was for apps to access your phone’s copy/pasted data without permission, or even use your camera and microphone when you’re not expecting it, leading to many updates and “fixes”
    • High profile Twitter accounts were hacked as part of a bitcoin scam, including Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and Apple
  • August

    • Trump first announced his planned TikTok ban / forced sale, citing security concerns, which has been pretty messy with the US and Chinese governments trying to affect who it’s sold to and if the sale will even go through
      • The original deadline was September 15th, but there’s still no end in sight
    • Epic threw down the gauntlet, violating Apple’s App Store guidelines with the iOS version of Fortnite in a seemingly calculated move to look like the little guys getting smacked down but really it looks like they just got greedy and wanted to stop paying the industry-standard 30% on in-app purchases
      • Their lawsuit against Apple for removing the game from the App Store is slated to move forward in the Spring, but with Apple recently announcing that developers making <$1M a year only need to pay 15% their case doesn’t look good
    • Republicans in the US tried yet again to pass laws against proper digital encryption, trying to make the case for adding backdoors that magically only good guys can use
  • September

    • Microsoft and Sony released all the details on their new consoles, with Xbox All Access looking like a solid choice for a good console with no money down, and the PS5 Digital Edition competing with the Series S on Price but the Series X on performance
    • Apple announced that they were delaying the cross app tracking prevention features originally slated to be part of iOS 14, much to the relief of advertising companies like Facebook and Google, but we should be seeing them early next year
    • Facebook announced the Oculus Quest 2, a very, very shiny piece of hardware luring many into the clutches of the social network
      • There’s a reason it’s the cheapest VR out there
    • Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media for $7.5B, one of the largest purchases in gaming history, and brought a whole slew of IP under their control, including everything from id and Bethesda
  • October

    • Google announced a new standalone ChromeCast model that doesn’t need your phone to control it, but were suspiciously silent about Stadia support
    • The quintessential Facebook game, FarmVille, announced that they would be shutting down at the end of 2020
    • LA Comic Con announced that they would be hosting their full in-person event in December, but then two weeks later completely cancelled any events for 2020
    • The UK started closing the loophole in their distracted driving laws that allowed people to play mobile games or record video while driving
    • NASA announced plans to install a 4G cellular network on the Moon
  • November

    • Cloud gaming on the Switch came to North America, with triple-A titles Control and Hitman 3 announced for the console through a <100MB download
    • Google revamped their Google Pay app, highlighting peer-to-peer payments, and including a bunch of data-scraping features if you want it to show nearby deals and discounts
    • The UK set up a ban on misleading mobile game ads, like those pull-the-pin ones that don’t actually show the real gameplay of the app
And hey.com gave us all the ability to email a literal dumpster fire

A comment on YouTube summed up what happened since Cyberpunks announcement

  • Cyberpunk 2077 – Teaser Trailer
    • 10 Jan 2013
  • Fiii Rahman 3 weeks ago (edited)
  • Things that have happened since Cyberpunk was announced:
    • 2 Resident Evil Remakes
    • 2 The Last of Us
    • 2 Rockstar open world games
    • 2 Dark Souls
    • 3 Gears of War
    • 11 Call of Duty’s
    • 9 Assassins Creeds
    • 2 God of wars
    • 3 Miyazaki games
    • 2 Uncharteds
    • 2 Devil May Crys
    • 3 Watch Dogs
    • 2 games and 1 Kojima demo
    • 2 Nomura games
    • 1 The Last Guardian
    • Announcement that Final Fantasy Versus 13 became FFXV and launch
    • Baldurs Gate 3 launched
    • Diablo 4 has been announced
    • Kingdoms hearts and a prologue
    • Announcement and launch of Shenmue 3
    • Announcement and launch of FF VII Remake
    • 2 Fallouts
    • 4 Battlefields
    • Ouya was born and died
    • 2 World Cups
    • 1 entire Star Wars trilogy
    • Crash came back with a remastered trilogy, won a racing spin off and a mainline sequel.
    • 6 Yakuzas
    • 5 JOJO animations
    • 2 Popes
    • 2 Spider-man reboots in theaters
    • 3 Avengers movies
    • Death of the Wii U and birth of the Switch
    • Launch of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
    • Xbox One and Xbox Series launch
    • Stadia’s birth and his future death
    • Shingeki no Kyojin was in its first season and now Cyberpunk will launch 3 days after its last season
    • Skyrim in the Fridge

This Week in Gaming History

November 28 – 2005 – Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time – Nintendo DS

  • The famous Mario Brothers return in this sequel to the humorous Superstar Saga. In this adventure, Princess Peach takes a trip in a time machine, but when it returns, there’s only a monster inside!
    • The heroic brothers travel back in time only to discover that evil alien life forms known as the Shroobs have taken over the Mushroom Kingdom, and no-one is safe!
    • They soon meet up with their younger selves, and set out to stop the alien menace, not to mention rescue the Princess!
  • Although the game has turn-based battles, it follows the tradition of the previous Mario RPG games, in that button commands can be pressed during battle to increase your attack, defend, and counterattack, to give the impression of a more interactive battle.
  • Battling can also become quite hectic, as players now have to control the each of the four brothers with the four different face buttons.
    • This can make for some very tricky situations when using special power-ups that randomize the brothers’ turns.

November 29 – 1975 – Square – Mainframe

  • Square is a game for two players. Players take turns claiming free points in a grid.
  • The first player to have four points that together make a square wins the game.
  • The game allows for multiple grid sizes and an expert mode where the centre position is unavailable to both players.

November 30 – 2010 – Disney Epic Mickey – Wii

  • Disney Epic Mickey is an action-adventure platforming game for the Wii console that sends Mickey Mouse on an epic journey of creativity and discovery.
    • As Mickey, the player is propelled into Wasteland, an alternate world made up of Disney’s long forgotten characters and attractions, and is given the power to wield paint and paint thinner to dynamically change the world while determining Mickey’s path to becoming an epic hero.
  • Features:
    • Use paint and paint thinner to change the world, interact with friends and enemies and solve challenges
    • Choose the best path to become an epic hero because “Playstyle Matters” and choices will change the outcome of the game
    • Explore and solve challenges in an alternate Disney world ruled by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first cartoon star
    • Travel between lands in Wasteland through classic platforming levels inspired by animated films and shorts
    • Experience an innovative mix of platforming, action-adventure and light role playing game elements
    • Collect over 75 virtual Disney pins in the game by completing specific challenges, quests and discovering hidden collectibles
  • Josh says:
    • “This game was released right when the rights to a bunch of Disney properties were about to enter public domain. And the new original use of these characters put a reset on everything going free. Disney may have the lawyers to keep him theirs though”

December 1 – 1995 – Virtual Boy Wario Land – Virtual Boy

  • On a vacation in the Awazon river, Wario stumbles across a hidden cave filled with treasure.
    • Of course, being Wario, he wants it all to himself.
    • But the treasure is guarded and soon he finds himself deep within the Earth as the floor crumbles underneath his feet.
    • Now Wario must find his way back to the surface, all the while collecting the treasure he believes rightly belongs to him.
  • This 3D style platform game, following the tradition of the Mario and Wario platform games of the Game Boy, will have you using Wario’s unique abilities (butt stomping for one) to crash his way through the earth to the surface.
    • His other abilities depend upon the hard hat he wears, and different ones are available that can come as an advantage.

December 2 – 2001 – Super Smash Bros.: Melee – GameCube

  • The hit sequel to the N64 smash hit party fighting game.
    • Made such an impact, people still play it as their preferred Smash Bros.
  • The game is a Nintendo fighting game with different rules to it. Instead of knocking your opponent’s health down, you knock him or her out of the battle field.
    • You choose from the wealth of Nintendo characters like Mario, Bowser, Yoshi, different Pokémon, and even Link and then either fight through the single-player portion, featuring modes like Classic, Adventure, and Event Mode or battle it out with your friends in a four-player frenzy.
    • More characters and stages are unlocked as hidden objectives are met, and coins rewarded for playing in all modes can be spent on a capsule toy machine.
    • The toys in the machine represent games from Nintendo’s entire video game history, and each can be viewed in 3D with a brief description.
    • Also, with the simplified fighting controls, it’s pretty easy for even your non-gaming friends to just pick-up and play.
  • Default characters
    • Mario
    • Donkey Kong
    • Link
    • Samus Aran
    • Yoshi
    • Kirby
    • Fox McCloud
    • Pikachu
    • Ness
    • Captain Falcon
    • Bowser
    • Princess Peach
    • Ice Climbers
    • Princess Zelda
    • Sheik
  • Unlockable characters
    • Luigi
    • Jigglypuff
    • Mewtwo
    • Marth
    • Mr. Game & Watch
    • Dr. Mario
    • Ganondorf
    • Falco Lombardi
    • Young Link
    • Pichu
    • Roy

December 3 – 1996 – Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – N64, Windows

  • Set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire tells the story of Prince Xizor’s quest to replace Darth Vader as the leader of the Sith, and wipe out the Rebels’ chances of victory.
    • The only man that can stop him is the interstellar bounty hunter Dash Rendar.
    • The game is based on the novel of the same name, with locations including ice planet Hoth, Mos Eisley and the sewers of Imperial City, all in full 3D.
  • Levels each have very different objectives, ranging from piloting snowspeeders on Hoth and racing speeder bikes on Tatooine to shooting stormtroopers and droids on foot throughout the galaxy.
    • Dash primarily uses a blaster with unlimited ammo, but can also find more powerful weapons with limited ammunition.
    • Each level has optional “challenge points” that are hidden throughout the level, and finding all of them will unlock a cheat dependent on which difficulty setting the save file is on.

December 4 – 2008 – Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars – Wii

  • In Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is a 3D platform game.
    • After a comet passes Earth, narrowly missing it, but leaving a trail of green dust that enters earth’s atmosphere.
    • The dust causes plants and fungi to become sentient and forming tribes in order to survive the harsh human world.
  • After a period of peace however, a war begins between four mushrooms tribes, the Boletes, Amanitas, Leopiota and the Morels.
    • The player takes control of a Bolete Mushroom named Pax who travels out into the giant human world in order to find a new meteorite for a mushroom village who’s meteorite he absorbed, but soon realizes there is more at stake.
  • The gameplay includes a platforming, exploring levels, defeating enemies, complete certain objectives and collect normal household items.
    • Some of these Items can be fashioned into weapons, while others like the green meteorite chunks make the player stronger.
    • Along the way Players must also avoid obstacles and defeat smaller and boss enemies such as insects, animals and other mushrooms that can easily crush and kill the character.
    • A telekinetic ability can be used to pick up items and throw them at enemies or to activate switches.
    • The game can also be played in co-op mode and a number of mini games is included under options.
  • Josh says:
    • “I remember this game getting advertised really hard, like it was the next big franchise.”

December 5 – 2006 – Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops – PSP

  • The two previous Metal Gear Solid games for PSP, were not the MGS experience people expected like in this game.
    • Portable Ops was the tactical espionage action, people wanted
    • While Ac!d was a turnbased card strategy game
  • It’s been six years since the events in Snake Eater.
    • Snake has been captured and imprisoned in an abandoned missile silo in Colombia, and with no support this time. At least, not at first.
    • With the help of a fellow prisoner, Snake escapes and the game truly begins.
  • Portable Ops is a classic Metal Gear game in almost every sense.
    • The controls will be familiar to anyone who has played previous console entries in the series.
    • Snake can peek around corners, sneak up behind guards… they even carried over CQC (Close Quarters Combat) from Snake Eater.
  • Gathering supplies is also essential due to the main new mechanic found in Portable Ops: recruiting.
    • While Snake starts out on his own, he can enlist disgruntled guards, frustrated technicians, stubborn doctors and more.
    • These soldiers can be used in your “Sneaking Unit” (the team you take into battle for each mission), or in one of the many support units, with certain soldiers having a more natural talent for certain areas.
    • If you put someone who has medical bonuses in your Medical unit, they can produce rations, help your troops recover faster between missions and more.
    • Technicians can create new items for your team, and Spies can steal ammo and give you intel on specific maps, which can open up new side missions or allow you to grab some heavy weaponry.
  • Missions themselves range from recon to rescue to demolitions and beyond.
    • You can only take four troops into a mission, and usually one of them has to be Snake.
    • However, you don’t have to always use Snake during the mission, he just has to be present.
    • You can only control one character at a time, while the rest of the team hides safely inside boxes (usually right by the entry point).
    • On the field, the soldier you use can make a big difference.
    • Many times you can totally bypass a building’s defenses just by playing as a guard.
    • If you do not do anything to draw attention to yourself, you can oftentimes walk right past the enemy, plant some TNT, and walk away.
  • The game supports multiplayer for up to six player simultaneously, over WiFi Ad Hoc and Infrastructure, with game modes such as Team Death Match, Death Match and Capture Mission.

Tidbits

  • With so many shopping online this year, apparently it’s reached the point where UPS told its drivers to stop picking up packages at some major retailers including Nike and the Gap to maintain performance standards
    • Amazon is even offering small rebates on some products if you select a “No-Rush Shipping” option, to reduce strain
  • Reuters is reporting that the Samsung Galaxy Note series may be discontinued as early as next year, with styluses coming to the S21 and next foldable phone instead
  • More than 8.5 months later, Doom Eternal is finally launching on the Switch next week
    • It will be a 19GB digital-only release, and if you get it before December 23rd it includes the early purchase bonus Rip & Tear Pack, as well as a playable copy of Doom 64

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PS2J 324 News – Facebook Game-Vertisement

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • The Occupation

      • 2019
      • Stealth game that takes place in a government building in real time over the course of four hours, advancing with or without player input, where you play a journalist researching a controversial government act threatening civil liberties in the wake of a terrorist attack
  • Epic Games

    • Blair Witch

      • 2019
      • Psychological survival horror game set two years after the events of The Blair Witch Project, following a former police officer searching Black Hills Forest for a missing child
    • Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered

      • 2019 remaster of the 2009 release
      • Third-person action adventure game where you play a new recruit to the team of parapsychologist ghost hunters two years after Ghostbusters II, that has you working with the original cast to investigate paranormal activities in New York City
      • The developers worked in many details from the Ghostbusters III script that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis had been working on, leading Aykroyd to consider this as “essentially the third movie”

Facebook is jumping on the cloud gaming bandwagon, aiming at AAA free-to-play on browsers and mobile

  • The idea is that anybody can play for free, as long as they have a Facebook account (so much like Needful Things, you don’t pay with money)
  • Facebook’s vice president of play, Jason Rubin, says their initial focus will be games picked to be “latency tolerant”, so they don’t need rock-solid infrastructure or connections to be playable
  • Much like the days of Farmville, people can start playing games by clicking an ad in their Facebook timeline
  • And Rubin was quick to point out this isn’t a game streaming service, and they won’t be releasing a first-party controller. Everything will be played with mouse and keyboard, or with your device’s touchscreen
  • They also won’t be bringing in big name console titles from publishers like Bethesda, CD Projekt Red, or Ubisoft
  • And, ominously, Rubin said “No investment, no promises”, presumably meaning that there’s no monthly fee or contracts, but also seeming to imply that they’ll do whatever they want with this platform as they’ve done with all of their other products
  • And theoretically the games won’t be locked to the Facebook platform- every game at launch will allow users to take in-app purchases with them to other platforms to play elsewhere. They don’t care if you stay on their platform, because you’ve already clicked the ad to launch the game
    • Rubin said “…ultimately, we ran the ads, the ads are more effective. And we’re an advertising business. That’s how free-to-play games find people.”
    • Facebook makes money by keeping you on their platform, so if they can get you playing games there too they win regardless of if you’re paying
  • Interestingly enough, in this era of pushback on app store fees, Facebook is reportedly taking a 30% cut of purchases on the web, though purchases through the Google Play store will see that 30% going to Google instead
  • They’ll apparently be skipping over iOS this time around though, due to the rules we’ve reported on regarding cloud gaming on Apple devices
  • The Android Beta of Facebook Gaming launches this Monday

Heads up for anyone planning on taking their Control save file from the current generation of consoles to the new ones in November, you need to buy and play the current Ultimate Edition first

  • According to 505 Games support, you can’t just import your base PS4 or Xbox One save into the new Ultimate version on the PS5 or Xbox Series
  • Using the Playstation as an example, you need to buy the Ultimate Edition for PS4 and then play it at least once to upgrade your save files. At that point they’ll be compatible with the PS5 Ultimate Edition
  • So if you just own the base game on PS4 and the Ultimate Edition on PS5, you’re stuck losing progress. You need to buy the Ultimate Edition on PS4 instead so that you can update your save.
  • At least the Ultimate Edition includes a free PS5 upgrade?

CD Project Red is under fire for once again delaying Cyberpunk 2077, this time to December 10th

  • Even though the game has gone gold and has all its content, this new delay is related to day 0 patches to try and improve the quality and gameplay
  • Day 0 patches can lead to some sizeable changes and improvements, as we saw with No Man’s Sky, but can also cause issues for those without great internet that are hoping to just buy a disc and play it
  • On one hand I, like many others, want them to take the time to release a great game that they can be proud of, but on the other they probably shouldn’t keep announcing new release dates and crunch times over and over again
    • This is an especially bad look when not even a full 24 hours before the latest announcement they were on Twitter telling people that the November 19th date was fully confirmed and 100% on track
  • The game was initially announced over 8 years ago
    • A trailer at E3 2019 gave a release date of April 26 2020
    • Then it was delayed to September 17
    • Then November 19
    • Now December 10
    • And this is all even with the crunch development that they promised they wouldn’t do and are doing anyway. Developers are working upwards of 100 hour weeks, and things are still slipping
  • At this point it feels like they’ve prioritized the release date over actually finishing the game, but keep letting it slip regardless
  • That said, there have been reports of people sending death threats to the developers over these delays and that is NOT okay

Alex Hutchinson, a Google Stadia Creative Director, had a spicy take this week saying that streamers should pay developers and publishers extra licensing for the games they stream

  • Funnily enough this is a man using uncredited fanart of JackSepticEye’s Savage Planet playthrough (a game Hutchinson worked on) for his Twitter banner
    • He even cropped out the signature
  • And many were quick to point out the positive impacts that streaming and let’s play videos can have on game sales, as well as the fact that in a world where publishing executives make millions a year developers wouldn’t even see any of that money anyway
  • Plus it’s literally fair use- these people are adding commentary and personality to the gameplay, not just silently playing a movie

SpaceX is sending out the first invites for its public beta of Starlink, the low earth orbit satellite internet network

  • Currently limited to some areas of the US and Canada, it will be offering 50-150Mbps with an estimated latency of 20-40ms by summer 2021
  • It also comes with an iOS app that can help you install the antenna, check for obstructions, and help troubleshoot and test your connection if you need support
  • Initial buy-in is $500USD for the antenna and router, with a subscription price of $100/month, which honestly isn’t that bad if you don’t have cable, DSL, or fibre internet in your area- services like Xplornet offer slower speeds with much higher latency for about the same price

Following up on their huge Origins update, Hello Games has announced their next update for No Man’s Sky: Next Generation

  • Update 3.1 will being a graphically enhanced and smoother experience to the next generation of consoles and PC, with bigger bases, lusher planets, more players, faster warp speeds, cross-generation crossplay, and more
  • Xbox One saves are automatically compatible, and PS4 players can upload their save data in-game for download on the PS5
  • Best part is, it’s another completely free update!
  • I’m looking forward to loading up my original save from 2016 and trying out all this new stuff

This Week In Gaming History

October 24 – 1995 – Marvel Super Heroes – Arcade

  • Marvel Super Heroes is a 2D fighting game and the second Capcom title to feature characters from the Marvel comic universe.
    • The gameplay is very similar to X-Men: Children of the Atom, but with a simplified Super Combo gauge and the addition of infinity gems.
    • Each character starts with a set of gems.
    • These can be activated during a fight to improve speed, power and defense, or provide special abilities to create crushing stone walls, open up a rift in space, or reverse the opponent’s controls.
    • The use of the gems is inspired by the The Infinity Gauntlet comic book series.
  • There are ten playable characters.
    • Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Psylocke, Spider-Man and Wolverine.
    • The villains are Blackheart, Juggernaut, Magneto and Shuma-Gorath.
    • Anita from the Darkstalkers series is a hidden character in the Japanese version.
    • The bosses are Doctor Doom and Thanos. During the boss fight Thanos steals all the player’s gems (except for mind) and uses them with new effects.m

October 25 – 2005 – Soul Caliber III – PS2

  • In ancient times, a powerful weapon known as the Soul Edge existed, and tales of it’s power lured many.
    • But Soul Edge was an evil weapon, and when Siegfried claimed it, he was turned into a creature named Nightmare.
    • As time passed, Nightmare rampaged across Europe leaving a path of destruction, despite the efforts of other fighters.
    • One day, a mysterious man carrying a scythe confronts Nightmare and splits Siegfried from his cursed form.
    • He then resurrects the Azure Armor to carry on as the “Nightmare” creature.
    • At the same time, a young girl Tira pledges herself to Soul Edge’s dark power, and a woman named Setsuka swears to avenge her master.
    • All the while new rumors of the Soul Edge spread across the world, causing many who had searched for it before to once more venture out…
  • Soulcalibur III is a 3D fighting game featuring a variety of characters, each carrying a distinctive weapon and unique fighting style.
    • The basics of the combat is a derived, in different stances, from a combination of Horizontal Attacks, Vertical Attacks, Throws, Kicks and a Soul Charge.
    • Characters engage one another in 1vs1 fights that end when the energy of one side is lost, removed from the ring or run out of time.
  • This game added the Character Creation Mode
    • This allows the player to choose from several classes, clothing and armor, and physical features.
    • Most of the classes can use up to five disciplines, three of which are unique, and two of which are “Soul of …” disciplines: an exact replica of a main story character’s moves.
    • The created fighter’s personality can be altered, which influences their quotes and their actions during battle.
    • Unfortunately, the personality is chosen by the equipment the character wears, and not directly by the player.
  • In the first ever Spike Video Game Awards in 2003, SoulCalibur II won in the category Most Addictive Game. The original releases on MetaCritic, are 93% on GameCube, 92% on PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
  • I got some of these notes from PS2J 233, when I did the history of Soulcaliber.m

October 26 – 2000 – PlayStation 2 – North America

  • A sixth-generation console, it competed with Sega’s Dreamcast, Nintendo’s GameCube, and Microsoft’s original Xbox.
  • Announced in 1999, the PS2 offered backward-compatibility for its predecessor’s DualShock controller, as well as its games.
    • The PS2 is the best-selling video game console of all time, having sold over 155 million units worldwide.
    • Over 3,800 game titles have been released for the PS2, with over 1.5 billion copies sold.
  • The PlayStation 2 offered some particularly high-profile exclusive games.
    • Most main entries in the Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid series were released exclusively for the console.
    • Several prolific series got their start on the PlayStation 2, including God of War, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, Devil May Cry, Kingdom Hearts, and Sly Cooper.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the best-selling game on the console.
  • Random PS2 Fact:
    • People in Brazil could actually boot up Netflix on their PS2 consoles.
    • This service also required a disc plus a memory card.
    • Netflix support for the PS2 was officially ended in 2012, which angered a user on the Gamespot forums.

October 27 – 2017 – Super Mario Odyssey – Switch

  • Explore incredible places far from the Mushroom Kingdom as you join Mario and his new ally Cappy on a massive, globe-trotting 3D adventure.
  • Use amazing new abilities—like the power to capture and control objects, animals, and enemies—to collect Power Moons so you can power up the Odyssey airship and save Princess Peach from Bowser’s wedding plans!
  • Thanks to heroic, hat-shaped Cappy, Mario’s got new moves that’ll make you rethink his traditional run-and-jump gameplay—like cap jump, cap throw, and capture.
    • Use captured cohorts such as enemies, objects, and animals to progress through the game and uncover loads of hidden collectibles.
    • And if you feel like playing with a friend, just pass them a Joy-Con™ controller!
    • Player 1 controls Mario while Player 2 controls Cappy.
    • This sandbox-style 3D Mario adventure—the first since 1996’s beloved Super Mario 64™ and 2002’s Nintendo GameCube™ classic Super Mario Sunshine™—is packed with secrets and surprises, plus exciting new kingdoms to explore.
      • Explore astonishing new locales like skyscraper-packed New Donk City to your heart’s content, and run into familiar friends and foes as you try to save Princess Peach from Bowser’s dastardly wedding plans.
      • Find something interesting? Toss your cap at it and see what happens! There are lots of fun and surprising ways to interact with your surroundings.
      • Be sure to bring any coins you find to a Crazy Cap store, where you can exchange them for decorative souvenirs for the Odyssey and new outfits for Mario! Some destinations have very exclusive dress codes, after all…
      • Hand a Joy-Con™ controller to a friend to enjoy simultaneous multiplayer: Player 1 controls Mario while Player 2 controls Mario’s new ally Cappy.
      • Use Snapshot Mode to freeze time while playing the game and take screenshots that you can customize using various options and filters. Screenshots can be shared via social media or uploaded to PCs and smart devices* using all of the Nintendo Switch™ system’s built-in screenshot tools.
      • A special edition Nintendo Switch™ hardware bundle will launch alongside the game. This special edition includes a download code for the full game, red left and right Joy-Con™ controllers, and a Super Mario Odyssey™ themed Nintendo Switch carrying case.
  • Controls are the best in the series. Ratings are generally perfect across the board.
  • First Mario game with a pop song as the main title.
    • Jump Up, Super Star was released worldwide on October 20, 2017, on the iTunes Store, while the short version was downloadable for free until January 31, 2018.

October 28 – 2008 – Fallout 3 – PS3, Windows, XBox 360

  • The game that made Fallout the way everyone knows it now
  • Bethesda Softworks started working on Fallout 3 in July 2004, but principal development did not begin until after The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its related extras and plug-ins were completed.
    • Bethesda made Fallout 3 similar to the previous two games, focusing upon non-linear gameplay, story, and black comedy.
    • Bethesda pursued an ESRB rating of M (for “mature”) by including the adult themes, violence, and depravity characteristic of the Fallout series.
    • They shied away from the self-referential gags of the game’s predecessors that broke the illusion that the world of Fallout is real.
    • Fallout 3 uses a version of the same Gamebryo engine as Oblivion, and was developed by the team responsible for that game. Liam Neeson was cast as the voice of the player’s father.
  • Neat Fallout 3 things I have from PS2J 216, the History of Fallout
    • There were originally at least 12 versions of the final cutscene, but, with further development, this expanded to over 200 possible permutations in the final release, all of which are determined by the actions taken by the player.
    • Game director Todd Howard confirmed that, in addition to thematics about slavery and cannibalism, there would be the presence of splatter scenes and exposition of evident mutilations on enemies with release of gibs.
    • The inspiration to include scenes with such explicit violence came from the “crash mode” of the driving simulator series Burnout.
      • Instead of cars that disintegrated because of the damage, the idea of applying kinematics on bodies who suffered wounds and mutilations due to ballistic trauma or beatings.
    • The game fell into some controversies with a world wide release.
      • Fallout 3 was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, thus making it illegal to distribute or purchase the game in Australia.
      • According to the board report, the game was refused classification due to the “realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method [bringing] the ‘science-fiction’ drugs in line with ‘real-world’ drugs”.
      • A revised version of the game had to be released without the animations of administering the drugs.
    • In light of cultural sensitivities, the game was not released in India.
      • Although the specific reason was not revealed in public, it is possible that it is because the game contains two-headed mutated cows called Brahmin, or that Brahmin is also the name of an ancient, powerful hereditary caste of Hindu priests and religious scholars in India, or its similarity to the spelling of brahman, a type of cow that originated in India.
    • The side quest “The Power of the Atom” in the Japanese version of Fallout 3 was changed to relieve concerns about depictions of atomic detonation in inhabited areas, as the memory of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains strong in the country.
      • In non-Japanese versions, players are given the option of either defusing, ignoring, or detonating the dormant atomic bomb in the town of Megaton; in the Japanese version, the character of Mr. Burke is absent, making it impossible to choose the detonation option.
      • Also in the Japanese release, the “Fat Man” nuclear catapult weapon was renamed “Nuka Launcher”, as the original name was a reference to Fat Man, the bomb used on Nagasaki.
      • According to Tetsu Takahashi, responsible for localizing Fallout 3 to Japan under his company Zenimax Asia, the available actions prior to localizing “The Power of the Atom” and the ability to kill civilians almost got the game banned by CERO before it received an Adult Only Rating.

October 29 – 2002 – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – PlayStation 2

  • The follow-up to the game that changed gaming
  • Tommy Vercetti is a gangster who just got off a fifteen year prison sentence for not squealing on his friends.
    • Because he didn’t rat out his “family”, Tommy’s sent to work with Sonny Forelli, his old boss.
    • Sonny gives him an easy drug job, but everything goes wrong, and Tommy loses everything.
    • Upon returning to Sonny, he gets mad and wants his money back.
    • Unfortunately, everybody in Vice City, from gangsters and Cubans to bikers and politicians are in his way, and it’s up to Tommy to clear a path.
  • The 80’s aesthetic makes this game so special to me
    • I love the era, but love the internet so wouldn’t want to live in that time. Just visit, which this game lets me.
    • My favorite part of the description is about the soundtrack.
      • To effectively capture the mood of the 1980s, the soundtrack has been altered to fit the time period.
      • Players will listen to an estimated nine hours of music (nearly three times the amount featured in the previous game) across ten radio stations.
      • The eclectic mix features such noteworthy titles as I Ran by Flock of Seagulls, The Message by Grandmaster Flash, You’ve Got Another Thing Coming by Judas Priest, and Out of Touch by Hall & Oates.

October 30 – 2007 – The Simpsons Game – PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, XBox 360

  • This at a glance, would the game for The Simpsons Movie that came out the same year
    • I remember playing all of it up the end, and enjoying it.
    • I do not remember finishing it or not
  • Bart Simpson goes to a video game store and buys a new ultra-violent Grand Theft Scratchy game, which is promptly confiscated by his mother Marge.
    • Suddenly, a video game manual lands right in front of him.
    • Miraculously, after having read the manual, the members of the Simpsons family discover that each of them possesses a unique superpower.
    • Toying with these, however, attracts the attention of the aliens Kang and Kodos, who decide to invade the Earth.
    • Now the unlikely superheroes must not only protect the town of Springfield from an alien assault, but also find the true reason behind their newly acquired powers, and perhaps their very existence.
  • The Simpsons Game is a 3D action game with platforming and light puzzle-solving elements, based on the long-running cartoon.
    • The game is divided into sixteen episodes, each containing cutscenes reminiscent of the original Simpsons TV series.
    • Every episode is set in a different environment; some of the scenarios are based in Springfield, while others take the player into meta-virtual worlds.
    • Some of the episodes parody a popular game or genre, having names like Medal of Homer or Neverquest. Each stage features two members of the Simpson clan working together to achieve the goal.
    • Players must switch back and forth using each family members’ unique powers to complete the level.
    • Most of the game’s versions allow two-player cooperative play.
  • The four controllable characters have their own unique abilities, which are used for combat, puzzle-solving, or exploration-related purposes.
    • Homer can expand into a rolling blob or inflate himself with helium and float for a while; later, he learns a few other transformation abilities.
    • Bart can become Bartman, using a grappling hook to access certain areas, as well as move upwards in air streams with his cape.
    • Lisa’s main ability is called “Hand of Buddha”, which is used mainly for moving around large objects; she can also play her saxophone to stun or confuse enemies.
    • Finally, Marge can gather people with her megaphone and control their actions, as well as send the little Maggie into crawlspaces only she can access.
    • Some of these abilities have limited uses and must be either recharged or replenished with special items, while others are available only at specific trigger points.
  • The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions also contain free-roaming gameplay – exclusively in those versions player characters can leave the Simpsons’ house between missions and freely wander through virtual Springfield.
    • Familiar landmarks (such as Moe’s Tavern, etc.) are present and can be explored as well.
    • These locations may contain additional dialogue and events. It is possible to use the bus to travel quickly to various destinations.

Tidbits

  • After openly mocking Apple for removing charging bricks from new iPhones being sold, Samsung is reportedly considering the exact same move
    • This isn’t really anything new, after they pulled advertising focused on Apple removing the headphone port when they did the exact same thing in the Galaxy Note 10 series
    • It kind of makes sense though- it leads to less packaging and e-waste, while also driving people toward reliable and cheaper companies like Anker for their power adaptors
  • With reports of broken Quest 2 Elite straps continuing to mount on Reddit, users are saying that Oculus Support is being overwhelmed and pushing response times further and further back
  • In a case related to the FIFA games, a judge in the Netherlands has officially ruled that loot boxes are a form of gambling, and since online gambling is strictly regulated there they have given EA three weeks to remove them or be subject to up to €5M in fines
  • Ubisoft’s UPLAY+ has morphed into Ubisoft+, launching a multi-platform subscription model with a beta on Amazon Luna and later on Google Stadia
    • PC subscribers get unlimited access to 100+ games for $15/month, including premium editions and upcoming titles like Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
    • Once Luna and Stadia support are brought in you’ll be able to play all of the included games on one of those streaming services at no additional cost, so you won’t need a powerful gaming PC to play brand new AAA titles
  • As part of the antitrust lawsuit against Google that we talked about last week, it’s being reported that Google currently pays Apple an estimated $8-12B per year to be the default search engine
    • This is believed to be the single biggest payment Google makes to anyone, and accounts for 14-21% of Apple’s annual profits

Would you like to know more?

  • Gizmodo’s breakdown of the US senate’s proposed changes to the laws that protect online platforms against liability for content uploaded by their users and how the platforms moderate it

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you for your continued support Karen, we may not be podcasting today without your drive to make a podcasting community in Alberta. Listen to her and her daughter on Thats A Thing?!

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J 320 News – Gritty Humans and Pretty Anime Folk

Free games

  • Xbox Gold

    • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2

      • 2015
      • A comedy point and click adventure game that has you switching between four different protagonists that has you working against a magical force that’s turning beasts into puppies and castles into dollhouses
    • Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut

      • 2016
      • A killer puzzle game where you control Skullface, a psycho slasher bent on slaughtering camp counselors at the title campground. Slide an adorable voxel murderer around hundreds of isometric puzzle levels to squash, flay, and decapitate hapless victims in this darkly comic homage to 80s horror.
    • Sphinx & the Cursed Mummy

      • 2003
      • Third person action adventure game inspired by the mythology of ancient Egypt where you play both the demi-god Sphinx and the undead mummy Tutankhamen in a combination of combat and puzzle-solving
  • Ps plus

    • Need for Speed: Payback

      • 2017
      • Racing game set in an open-world fictional version of Las Vegas, focused on action driving with three different playable characters working together to pull of action movie like sequences and heists
    • Vampyr

      • 2018
      • Action RPG set in Spanish Flu era London where you play Jonathan Reid, a doctor turned vampire torn between the Hippocratic Oath and his newfound bloodthirsty nature
  • Twitch

    • SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell

      • 2016
      • A first-person speedrunning parkour game that plays like a combination Quake 3 and Super Meat Boy with a focus on quick action and reflexes
    • Dead Age

      • 2016
      • A zombie apocalypse RPG with turn-based combat and permadeath that has you managing survivors, crafting materials, and making tough choices to defend your camp against the undead
    • Surf World Series

      • 2017
      • A single or multiplayer surfing trick game that looks like Tony Hawk on the water
    • Layers of Fear

      • 2016
      • A psychological horror game where you control a disturbed painter trying to complete his magnum opus as he navigates through a victorian mansion, with disturbing secrets about the painter being discovered
    • Silver Chains

      • 2019
      • First-person horror game with a focus on story and exploration, where you search for clues in an abandoned manor to unravel the truth about the terrible events that occurred
    • Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl

      • 2020
      • Retro 8-bit sidescrolling brawler that has Jay and Silent Bob battling their way out of the mall and back to the Quickstop
    • Darkside Detective

      • 2017
      • Point and click mystery game that has you solving the dangerous and confusing cases of Twin Lakes, with everything from flesh-hungry tentacles to mafioso zombies in the mix
  • Epic Games

    • Pikuniku

      • 2019
      • Puzzle adventure game that has you getting through levels and solving puzzles by kicking and pushing objects, swinging from your legs, or curling up and rolling around. The game is focused on single player but also has local co-op specific levels

Epic Games vs Apple updates

  • During a hearing this week with both companies, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers criticized Epic’s decision to breach their contract with Apple in the first place by offering their custom payment system in an attempt to avoid App Store fees
    • Apparently Epic claimed that it didn’t pose a security threat to Apple because they’re a well-established company and partner
    • Judge Gonzalez Rogers reportedly told Epic “You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” and “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”
    • She was also not particularly persuaded by Epic’s arguments that Apple was violating antitrust law, or that they harmed Epic’s ability to distribute Fortnite through the App Store
      • “Walled gardens have existed for decades,” said the judge. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
      • “The 30% of what you complain seems to be the industry rate, right? Steam charges 30%. Microsoft: 30% … If you go to consoles: PlayStation, Xbox Nintendo all charged 30%. Physical stores: GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart all charge 30%. Apple and Google charged 30%. It’s all 30%, and you just want to gloss over it. You don’t want to address it,”
      • Epic’s Bornstein says alternatives to the smartphone have their own constraints. “For example you can’t play an Xbox when you are, you know, on a bus.”
      • YGR: “You can’t play, but you can play on a Switch.”
  • We’re still waiting for a decision on whether Fortnite will be allowed back on the App Store temporarily, but Judge Gonzalez Rogers did recommend that the case be taken to a jury trial in July to settle the issues permanently

iOS security recommendations

  • Settings > Passwords > Security Recommendations
  • Breaks down all your saved passwords that may need to be changed based on priority, and includes info on whether they’re easily guessed, reused, or if they’ve been included in a previous data breach
  • It also gives you a link right to the affected site if you want to go ahead and change the password
  • Thanks to that I’ve tightened up my password security on a lot of different sites
  • One thing to note here is that the current conspiracy theory going around on Facebook, saying that iOS 14 widgets are acting as key loggers and stealing passwords, is completely false
    • Apparently part of the fuel for this is that people are getting notifications after upgrading that their passwords were involved in a breach- this is just because the notifications are new. The breaches are old.

Google announced a bunch of new stuff this week at their hardware event, including a new streaming service client

  • Not a streaming service itself, but Google TV is a client for Chromecast that shows content from services like Netflix and Disney+, alongside Google Play and YouTube videos
  • They also announced
    • a new standalone Chromecast model that comes with a remote control for $50USD, so you can use Google TV without streaming content from your phone
      • Unfortunately Stadia was left out in the cold here- you can get it going with a bit of fiddling, but there’s no native support
    • a 5G enabled Pixel 5 with somewhat underwhelming specs but a 90hz screen and IPX8 waterproofing that will set you back $700USD
    • another 5G phone, the Pixel 4A 5G, that’s basically an upgraded Pixel 4A XL and working as a budget version of the Pixel 5 without the fancy display and waterproofing and a $500USD pricetag
    • and a new Nest Audio speaker that we don’t have a lot of details on yet, but looks like a Google Home and a Google Home Max had a child and is apparently 75% louder than the Google Home it’s replacing

The new Spider-Man: Miles Morales game for the PS5 exists in a weird spot for a sequel, working almost like reverse DLC

  • You can get the game on the PS5, and if you want to play the remastered version of the PS4 Spider-Man you can either get the Miles Morales Ultimate Edition or buy the remaster from within the Miles Morales game
  • It’s apparently a full next-gen remaster with overhauled environments, ray-traced reflections and shadows, new skies and weather, a brand new face model for Peter Parker, 3D audio, instant loading, and a more powerful photo mode
  • Unfortunately all of this comes at a price- the trophy list will be separate from the original PS4 release, so trophy hunters are stuck starting from scratch

This Day in Gaming History

September 26 – 1995 – Command & Conquer – DOS

  • Command & Conquer develops ideas from Westwood’s previous game Dune 2, forming a real-time strategy (RTS) game.
    • The control system involves selecting units with the mouse and then directing them, while the opponents make their moves without waiting for a “turn” to end.
  • The game focuses on a war between two organizations, The Brotherhood of Nod and the Global Defense Initiative.
    • The player can take control of either side for more than 15 missions. Both have different units and structures, including artillery, tanks and light infantry.
  • In most missions, a base needs to be built first in order to build new units and structures.
    • Most important are the harvesters, which collect Tiberium and deliver it to a refinery, where it’s converted into money, thus funding the construction of a base and an army.
  • The game also features FMV mission briefings and victory cutscenes.

September 27 – 2004 – Dream Works’ Shark Tale – GameCube, PS2, Xbox

  • Shark Tale is inspired by the movie of the same name and follows the adventures of Oscar, a blue-streaked cleaner wrasse fish.
    • Oscar seems to have got himself into a bit of trouble as he needs to earn money to pay off a loan shark.
  • The game consists of over 25 chapters with each chapter having three missions to perform.
    • The three missions are broken into a regular one, a bonus one, and an elite one.
    • Completing missions earn Oscar fame points which affect his fame rating.
    • Also, depending on how well Oscar performs missions will determine how much money he earns to pay off his debt.
    • Missions are varied including things like escaping a shark, erasing graffiti, and a dancing segment.

September 28 – 1995 – Mario Clash – Virtual Boy – Japan

  • This game is essentially a single-player sequel to Mario Bros.
    • While the Super Mario Advance games would later contain a graphically-enhanced version of Mario Bros., Mario Clash contains many more additions and changes to gameplay.
  • As before, the goal is to clear a screen of enemies and move on to the next level.
    • However, rather than doing this by flipping an enemy upside-down from underneath and kicking them away, you throw shells at them.
    • Also, taking advantage of Virtual Boy’s added depth, there is a front area and a back area which can be traveled to and from using pipes.
    • Shells can also be thrown at enemies on the other depth area.

September 29 – 1996 – Super Mario 64 – N64 – North America

  • Mario is invited to Peach’s castle, but when he arrives Peach is nowhere to be seen.
    • He soon learns from Toad that Bowser has once again kidnapped her.
    • The Koopa King has also put a spell on her castle, imprisoning her subjects.
    • So it is up to Mario to break the spell and rescue Peach.
  • Super Mario 64 is the first Mario game done entirely with 3D graphics.
    • The core gameplay is similar to previous platform installments, focusing on jumping, avoiding obstacles and defeating enemies.
    • Levels can be explored without time limits.
    • Stars must be collected in order to unlock new areas, eventually gaining access to various parts of Bowser’s castle.
    • Defeating Bowser on each floor procures keys necessary to unlock big doors and enter other floors, which contain more areas.
  • Mario has more moves at his disposal in this installment.
    • Besides running and jumping, he can now walk, crouch, crawl, climb, and punch enemies.
    • Double and triple jumps, long jumps, wall jumps and backflips can be executed as well.
    • Swimming underwater now depletes Mario’s oxygen level.
    • Items must be picked up and carried in some instances in order to solve puzzles.
  • Power-ups include the Wing Cap, which allows Mario to fly; the Metal Cap, which protects him from damage (including environmental hazards such as poisonous gas); and the Vanish Cap, which makes Mario ethereal, allowing him to walk through certain obstacles (such as wire mesh). Mario can also enter cannons and be shot from them; combining this with the flying ability grants access to high areas.

September 30 – 1997 – Postal – Windows/Mac

  • You’ve just gone off the deep end, and in your deeply demented mind, you’ve decided that this little peaceful town no longer needs peace and quiet.
    • You gather your arsenal as you plan your next move…
  • Postal is best described as a three-quarter view isometric shooter with a disturbing theme.
    • Instead of shooting at demons, monsters, bad guys and terrorists, your targets are typical citizens like a high school marching band, ordinary pedestrians, and even Santa Claus!
    • You are provided with an arsenal of diverse weapons to choose from, ranging from good old fashioned guns to flame throwers.

October 1 – 2015 – The Beginner’s Guide – Windows, Mac, Linux

  • Probably a first, The Beginner’s Guide is presented as a guided tour through the work of another developer, named Coda.
    • This developer is real and created numerous experimental small games using the Source engine from 2008 to 2011, the year in which he stopped developing games altogether.
  • The player is guided through this list of small games by the voice of Davey Wreden, the actual director of the game and co-designer and co-writer of The Stanley Parable.
    • Similar to that game, The Beginner’s Guide can be considered a game about game design and about how players interact with games and, in a way, communicate with game developers.

October 2 – 1997 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – PlayStation – North America

  • Symphony of the Night is a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood.
    • Unlike the previous installments of the series, the game is set in a castle which the player can explore freely with many different paths, although often items in certain areas need to be found that will allow passage to others.
    • The action-based gameplay incorporates now strong RPG elements.
    • The hero receives experience points for defeating enemies, gains levels and becomes more powerful.
    • There is also money to be found in the game, and various accessories to buy. In a separate screen, players need to equip attack weapons, shields and other items.
    • Magic plays an important role, as well as secondary weapons and a large amount of “special moves” that are executed similar to advanced one-on-one fighting games.

Tidbits

  • After 11 years in operation, FarmVille is officially shutting down at the end of the year
    • The developer cited the end of support for Adobe Flash and an unwillingness to migrate to a new platform as the main causes
  • Los Angeles Comic-Con is moving forward with an in-person event in December, making it one of the first Southern California festivals to do so since the March shutdown
    • Precautions they’ll be taking include doubling their floorspace, spreading out activities across their own halls, splitting each day into five-hour sessions with deep cleaning between, cutting ticket sales, and live-streaming all guests and main panels for an optional virtual experience
    • It sounds like they’re trying, but I’d still be really hesitant to buy tickets
  • Apple and Microsoft are working together a bit more than usual now, with the Apple TV app soon becoming available on the Xbox
    • Content will include Apple TV+ subscriptions, which could save some money for people that have been eyeing up an Apple TV 4k box
    • This could also be a good sign for Game Pass, if the two companies can improve their collaboration and get eachother’s streaming services on their hardware
  • As part of Amazon’s announcements last week that flew under the radar, they also introduced a drone camera for inside your home
    • The Always Home Cam will set you back $250 and is a fully autonomous drone that can fly around and show your any room in your house
  • CD Projekt Red is drawing fire this week after doubling back on their commitment to avoiding mandatory crunch time for Cyberpunk 2077
    • Studio Head Adam Badowski released a statement lamenting this decision and how necessary it is, and promising 10% of the company’s 2020 profit to the team, but this will likely make people think twice before taking him at his word again
  • Star Wars Squadrons has launched to a lot of praise, especially for its multiplayer, including the fact that a day-one patch has implemented full support for flight stick, throttle, and pedal assemblies. Combined with VR, the immersion sounds awesome

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you for your continued support Karen, we may not be podcasting today without your drive to make a podcasting community in Alberta. Listen to her and her daughter on Thats A Thing?!

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J News 317 – Next Gen Gaming OAC

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Vostok Inc

      • 2017
      • Billed as The Wolf of Wall Street with lasers, this clicker with added shoot ‘em up elements has you playing a newly appointed CEO with the goal of becoming the richest space-capitalist around
    • Shock Troopers

      • 1997
      • Top down run and gun arcade shooter that has you fighting through mountains, jungles, and valleys to rescue a scientist and his granddaughter from a terrorist group
    • Metal Slug 3

      • 2000
      • Run and gun sidescrolling shooter that added more weapons and vehicles to the Metal Slug series, as well as introducing branching paths
    • Garou: Mark of the Wolves

      • 1999
      • The ninth and final instalment of the Fatal Fury series, it brought in a new feature where if you get down to a certain area of your health bar you can perform special attacks and recover health
    • The Last Blade 2

      • 1998
      • Arcade style weapons-based fighting game originally for the Neo Geo
    • Samurai Shodown V Special

      • 2004
      • The ninth Samurai Shodown title, it’s an upgraded version of Samurai Shodown V and the last official game for the Neo Geo
    • The King of Fighters 97 Global Match

      • 2018 re-release of the 1997 game
      • The fourth King of Fighters game and the final chapter in the “Orochi Saga” story arc
    • The King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match Final Edition

      • 2014 re-release of the 2008 re-release of the 1998 title
      • The fifth King of Fighters game with multiple releases bringing full balance overhauls, additional characters, and a new Ultimate mode
    • The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match

      • 2015
      • Ninth King of Fighters title that abandoned the newer 4v4 match format used in previous games and went back to the 3v3 fights previously seen in KoF 98
  • Epic Games

    • Railway Empire

      • 2018
      • A tycoon simulation game where you’ll create an elaborate and wide-ranging rail network with different trains, stations, factories, and attractions to stay ahead of your competitors
    • Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

      • 2018
      • Narrative-driven adventure game that has you exploring a Great Depression era United States, gathering and learning oral stories, and passing them along

Epic vs Apple

  • Epic Games is now asking the courts to force Apple to put Fortnite back on the App Store, saying that active users on iOS declined over 60% after removal
    • Their justification is that iOS is the biggest platform for Fortnite, with nearly a third of users having played on iOS and more than half of those using iOS exclusively
    • Now they’re saying that they may never see those users again, while playing their sad violin about how Fortnite is more than just a game and the social community is something that people rely on
    • End of the day, if the app is so important maybe you should just remove your direct payment option while the court case proceeds?
  • Apple has now counter-sued Epic Games for stealing the 30% commission with their direct payment option, accusing the company of “self-help and subterfuge” as it embarked on a plan of “commission-theft” by introducing the payment option that goes directly against App Store guidelines
    • With the legal term “self-help” meaning that Epic created the very circumstances that they started their lawsuit over, it kinda seems like an open and shut case

While we wait for any word on the PS5’s price, Microsoft has released that and more for their new consoles

  • The flagship Xbox Series X, the new mini-fridge of gaming, will cost $499USD with a $35/month Xbox All Access financing option from Microsoft
    • This thing is a solid rectangular obelisk that will run 4k 60fps, with some titles even hitting 120fps for buttery-smooth multiplayer in Halo Infinite
  • And the sleek little Xbox Series S has finally been officially announced, costing $299USD or $25/month with Xbox All Access
    • The S looks pretty cool, kind of resembling a flat speaker, but behind that speaker is a sizeable fan keeping the whole thing cool (and hopefully staying somewhat quiet while doing so)
    • It’s smaller than any other Xbox Microsoft has sold previously, but still packs in 500GB of storage and the performance apparently comparable to the Xbox One X
    • It’s also gone all-digital, meaning that there’s no disk drive for anyone still playing with physical game discs
  • Xbox All Access, for anyone not keeping up with Microsoft’s myriad memberships, is a two year financing program that gets you an Xbox with no upfront cost as well as Game Pass Ultimate (including Xbox Live Gold) for the contract period
    • With Game Pass Ultimate alone costing $15/month USD it actually seems like a decent deal, leaving your grand total for the Series S at $240 ($50 savings) and the Series X at $480 ($20 savings)
  • On top of that, EA Play is now included in Xbox Game Pass for PC at no additional cost*
    • The full library of 89 titles is available now for Game Pass PC and Game Pass Ultimate subscribers
    • Members will also get a 10 hour free trial for select games (most often the newest launches from EA Sports) and a 10% discount on EA DLC or microtransactions
    • At the same time, the standalone Xbox Game Pass for PC will be moving from $5USD to $10, but Game Pass Ultimate is unchanged so it’s just become a better deal since PC is included
  • On a related note, just a quick reminder for everyone- currently the best way to buy Game Pass Ultimate is to let it expire, load up your account with however much Xbox Live Gold time you can up to a max of three years, then upgrade that time to Game Pass Ultimate for a reduced fee (the first time you do it, it only costs $1)
    • The trick is you have to use the specific upgrade link for your region- https://www.xbox.com/en-CA/live/gold/upgrade
    • If you just buy Game Pass Ultimate it converts your Gold time but uses 4 months of Gold to equal one month of Ultimate, but using the upgrade link it’s currently 1:1
  • Now that Microsoft’s put all that information out there, we’ll see how long it takes Sony to undercut them (if they can, anyway)
  • Both Xbox Series consoles can be expanded with another terabyte of storage using an expansion card, and will launch this November 10th. Preorders open September 22nd

Apple’s officially announced their fall event, titled Time Flies, for September 15th, and we’ll have all the details in the next episode

  • People are expecting new Apple Watches and maybe iPad Airs, but iPhones seem less likely and may be delayed till October
  • We can also expect to hear some release dates on the upcoming iOS releases, but the new macOS (Big Sur) likely isn’t ready for primetime yet and will also wait for next month at minimum

Unfortunately it sounds like Apple may be delaying the privacy improvements to iOS that have Facebook and other advertisers concerned for their futures

  • The new privacy rules were slated to take effect with iOS 14, prompting users before allowing any kind of cross app tracking
  • Apple will instead give developers the option to use the prompt when it becomes available, including the ability to display why they’re asking for the permissions, but want to give developers time to implement the change before enforcing it early next year
  • Other new things like viewing which apps are accessing GPS, microphone, camera, and clipboard still remain on track for the initial iOS 14 release

The minds behind Hyrule Warriors, the Dynasty Warriors style brawler set in the Zelda universe, are making a fully canonical entry in the series

  • Titled Age of Calamity, it shows the story 100 years before Breath of the Wild and has you taking part in the original fight against Calamity Ganon
  • In some Halo Reach style story telling, we know where the story ends but playing through how it gets to that point should still be pretty dang fun
  • Best part here is that this time it’s not just Koei Tecmo doing their own thing, but it’s a full co-production with Nintendo’s Zelda team
  • The first Hyrule Warriors was fun but the story felt pretty disjointed, so getting them to work with the core Zelda team and having it link in smoothly to the rest of the universe should hopefully make things even better

This Week In Gaming History

September 5th – 2018 – Scythe: Digital Edition – PC/Mac

  • Scythe is a board game for 1 to 5 players designed by Jamey Stegmaier and published by Stonemaier Games in 2016. Set in an alternate history 1920s Europe, in Scythe players control factions which produce resources, build economic infrastructure, and use giant dieselpunk war machines called mechs to fight and control territory. Players take up to two actions per turn using unique player boards, with the game proceeding until one player has achieved six achievements, at which point the players receive coins for their achievements and territories controlled, with the player with the most coins winning.
  • The game was originally released via Kickstarter, raising over $1.8 million. Scythe received very positive reviews, with particularly strong praise for the game’s artwork, which was produced by Polish painter Jakub Różalski under the name World of 1920+. As of 2020, Scythe is ranked 11th among all board games on BoardGameGeek.
  • The 1920+ universe is also featured in the video game Iron Harvest planned for release in September 2020.

September 6th – 2008 – Chex Quest 3 – PC

  • Chex Quest is a non-violent first-person shooter video game created in 1996 by Digital Café as a Chex cereal promotion aimed at children aged 6–9 and up. It is a total conversion of the more violent video game Doom
  • Chex Quest 3 was developed and released as a service to fans by former Digital Café members Charles Jacobi (art director and lead artist) and Scott Holman (programmer). Former Digital Café sound design leader Andrew Benson, also contributed several songs for the game. Originally intended as a single standalone level, Jacobi announced the development of a full sequel at the Chex Quest Fan Page (Chexquest.org) in June 2008, and the full game was released in September.
  • Chex Quest 3 employs the ZDoom source port, and is considerably larger in size than the previous two games. Jacobi’s release of Chex Quest 3 also included ZDoom-based versions of Chex Quest and Chex Quest 2, with significant enhancements and noted problems redressed. Chex Quest 2 in particular had been remastered, with some levels significantly revised or completely overhauled.
  • Charles Jacobi credited the praise and compliments of fans, especially through fan-made projects such as one titled “The Ultimate Chex Quest”, as inspiration to complete this project.

September 7th – 2008 – Spore – PC/Mac

  • Spore is a 2008 life simulation real-time strategy God game developed by Maxis, published by Electronic Arts and designed by Will Wright. Covering many genres including action, real-time strategy, and role-playing games, Spore allows a player to control the development of a species from its beginnings as a microscopic organism, through development as an intelligent and social creature, to interstellar exploration as a spacefaring culture.
    • It has drawn wide attention for its massive scope, and its use of open-ended gameplay and procedural generation. Throughout each stage, players are able to use various creators to produce content for their games. These are then automatically uploaded to the online Sporepedia and are accessible by other players for download.
  • Spore was released after several delays to generally favorable reviews. Praise was given for the fact that the game allowed players to create customized creatures, vehicles and buildings. However, Spore was criticized for its gameplay which was seen as shallow by many reviewers; GameSpot remarked: “Individual gameplay elements are extremely simple”. Controversy surrounded Spore due to the inclusion of SecuROM, and its digital rights management software, which can potentially open the user’s computer to security risks.
  • I know Alan and I were really excited for this game, but it turns in to Galactic Babysitting Adventures.

September 8th – 2008 – Amnesia: The Dark Descent – PC/Mac/Linux

  • The game follows the amnesiac protagonist, Daniel, as he explores Brennenburg Castle while trying to solve various puzzles and avoiding monsters. Instead of fighting, Daniel’s main tools for survival include running and hiding.
    • The game was critically acclaimed upon release, and has gone on to spawn two sequels: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and the yet to be released Amnesia: Rebirth.
  • Amnesia is an exploration-based horror adventure game played from a first-person perspective. The player is able to interact with the environment in a wide variety of ways, such as picking up and moving objects, opening doors, closets, and drawers, operating valves and levers and lighting up areas.
    • There are no weapons and no combat mechanics in the game, making the player unable to fight the different monsters that he encounters. Thus the only way to get past the creatures is by running away and hiding from them until they lose interest.
    • The player can hide from monsters in a variety of ways, such as staying in the shadows, hiding in closets, barricading doors, etc.
  • Separate from the player’s health bar is an indication of the character’s sanity. Being in darkness too long, witnessing unsettling events, or staring at monsters will reduce Daniel’s sanity, causing visual and auditory hallucinations and drawing the attention of monsters, as Daniel begins to whimper.
    • Light sources help restore sanity, and if none are available Daniel may use tinderboxes to ignite candles in wall sconces and candelabra or deploy an oil-burning lantern found near the beginning of the game.
    • However, the number of tinderboxes and the amount of oil available are both limited, and standing in a light source also makes the player more noticeable to monsters.
    • Sanity is fully restored once Daniel completes an objective or progresses the game’s story. It may also be restored by staying in the shadows until Daniel passes out, but this leaves him extremely vulnerable to any nearby monsters.

 

September 9th – 1995 – Ridge Racer – PS1

  • Ridge Racer is a racing game developed and published by Namco. It was released initially on the Namco System 22 arcade system board and ported to the PlayStation console in 1995 in North America. It is the first title in the Ridge Racer series released for arcades and home consoles. The aim is to finish in first place in a series of races. The PlayStation version supports Namco’s NeGcon controller.
  • This controller is something I found really interesting
    • The NeGcon, is a motion-based video game controller manufactured in 1995 by Namco for the PlayStation. One of the first third-party peripherals for the system, the controller is connected by a swivel joint, allowing the player to twist the halves relative to each other. The controller also replaces the “symbol” buttons on the original PlayStation controller with two “A” and “B” buttons, as well as “I” and “II” buttons that allowed for analogue control.
    • The NeGcon was created to replicate the analog-stick movement used in the arcade game Cyber Sled (1993); the name comes from the Japanese word “nejiru”, meaning “to twist”. The controller was intended for use in racing games, including Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo and Wipeout. Critical reception for the NeGcon was highly positive, being praised for its responsive control in games and unique design.

September 10th – 2001 – Advance Wars – Game Boy Advance

  • Advance Wars is a turn-based tactics game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo.
  • It was released in North America on September 10, 2001 with a later release date in Japan and Europe, but the game release was put on hold in both Japanese and European regions due to the following day’s September 11 attacks.
    • Although the game was released in Europe in January 2002, neither GBA game was released in Japan until the Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2 compilation on November 25, 2004.
  • The game was originally intended to remain exclusive to Japan, like the previous entries in the series, which were kept in Japan due to Nintendo feeling that consumers would not be interested in turn-based games, or in such complicated games.
    • In order to alleviate this, the developers made the mechanics easy to understand, adding in an in-depth tutorial that didn’t require players to read the manual.
    • Designer Kentaro Nishimura commented that “Advance Wars’ success shifted Nintendo’s attitude over western tastes.”

September 11th – 2015 – Super Mario Maker – WiiU

  • Super Mario Maker is a side-scrolling platform game and game creation system developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii U home video game console, which released worldwide in September 2015.
    • Players are able to create and play their own custom courses, based on Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U, share them online, and download and play courses designed by other players.
  • Reviews for the game range between near perfect, and perfect scores.
    • Even though, a bulk of the content was made by other players with a passion to make Mario levels.
    • My favorite being Ross O’Donovan, streaming on twitch as RubberNinja. He was contender and frequently a top creator on Super Mario Maker. Now with Super Mario Maker 2, he is making levels to be played in his Super World. He does make some tricks in his levels, but he does focus on good game design and fun, interesting game play.

Tidbits

  • Suda51 has officially announced that No More Heroes 3 will be delayed to a 2021 release date
    • On the plus side they’ve also brought on Darick Robertson, graphic illustrator for the comic The Boys, to do illustrations for the game
  • CDProjektRed has been under fire this week thanks to microtransactions that don’t even exist
    • People were lining up their pitchforks thinking that the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, a single-player game, would have microtransactions included, despite CDProjektRed repeatedly saying that’s not the case
    • Turns out it was all sparked by some confusion- there will be a separate multiplayer Cyberpunk game released completely separately next year that will have microtransactions, but they’re reportedly aimed at not being too aggressive
  • The Witcher 3 Complete Edition is coming to the PS5 and Xbox Series X this fall with faster load times, a bunch of visual and technical improvements, and ray tracing fanciness
    • Best part is that though it will be a standalone purchase, it’s also a free update to everyone who owns the game on PC, Xbox One, or PS4

 

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Free Games

  • Epic

    • Horace

      • 2019
      • 2D pixel platformer with a surprisingly long single player narrative that includes puzzles and minigames, touted as a contender for Indie Game of 2019

Things are continuing to heat up between the FBI and Apple over the latest iPhone unlock demands related to the Pensacola shooting have gained more publicity

  • Every time this hits the public eye government institutions and anti-encryption advocates use these examples as reasons for installing backdoors, while at the same time claiming that’s not the exact thing they’re asking for
    • They say they’re not trying to weaken encryption, and that they come up against this problem frequently, but there’s no magic way to let law enforcement in without allowing everyone else to use the same path. Daring Fireball put it really well: “Mathematics doesn’t discern between “good guys” and “bad guys””
    • We’ve even seen classic Trump rant-tweets on the subject, saying ‘they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements’, and the US Attorney General claims that Apple has provided no substantive assistance
    • This is even after they’ve successfully used devices like the GrayKey box we’ve talked about previously to access locked devices regardless of their passcodes, and the phones in question are even older, less-secure models (a 5 and a 7), so it really begs the question why are they so bound and determined to weaken encryption for everyone else
      • The iPhone 5 doesn’t even have the extra encryption hardware, called the Secure Enclave, of newer devices!
  • Law enforcement is even slowly shifting the language from “terrorism” to “pedophiles” in an attempt to work from the moral high-ground
    • It’s not that these aren’t serious crimes, but strong encryption is necessary for personal and national security.
    • Not only that, but law enforcement has other avenues for investigation than eavesdropping on communications and poring through stored devices. There’s a great example where people unravelled a dark-web site and arrested hundreds by analyzing Bitcoin transactions. Or another involving the arrests of members of a WhatsApp group.
      • But then we get people like New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance testifying before Congress with: “In fact, we were never able to view the contents of his phone because of this gift to sex traffickers that came, not from God, but from Apple. As a result, our investigation of sex trafficking was blocked by encryption.”
  • Apple’s stance remains clear- in a statement released this week they’ve said that they responded to each request from the FBI, often within hours, resulting in many gigabytes of information turned over. They’re giving everything they can
    • This hasn’t stopped people from demanding that Apple unlock the iPhone itself, but that just isn’t possible
      • It also doesn’t help that the FBI didn’t even request the device be unlocked until almost a month into the investigation, well after anything other than the full passcode could be used to unlock it
    • By design, if you use a passcode on your iPhone it should keep everything private from everyone. That’s the security and peace of mind that every single person should have.

Players Are Pushing Their Bodies to the Limit Speedrunning Nintendo’s Fitness Game

Article by Patrick Klepek, Published on VICE

  • On December 15, a player in Tokyo, Japan calling themselves Sakinyan turned on their Switch and started playing Ring Fit Adventure, Nintendo’s terrific exercise game hybrid from last year.
    • For most people, a session with Ring Fit Adventure lasts somewhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on when you collapse into a pool of sweat.
    • Sakinyan was not engaging in some light exercise, however, but attempting to pull off the first world record run for playing through all of Ring Fit Adventure’s surprisingly long story mode.
  • Ring Fit Adventure asks if you want to stop every few minutes. This staggering feat took Sakinyan a little over 18 hours, nearly a complete day of nonstop exercise.
    • At times, they took a moment to snack. Other times, they sipped water. There was even time for a bathroom break, though so far as I could tell while scrubbing through the speedrun, Sakinyan only headed to the bathroom once during the marathon.
    • And because Ring Fit Adventure can’t take a hint, they’re also forced to tell the game they don’t want to take a break over and over.
  • At 18 hours and 55 seconds, Sakinyan defeated the game’s final boss, walked over to their timer, and clicked stop.
    • After dabbing their face with no doubt a completely soaked t-shirt, they performed a few stretches as the game’s credits rolled. There was no big celebration, no fist pump.
    • Instead, Sakinyan sat on the ground and started scrolling through their phone.
  • Most of us play games in chunks at a time, a few hours at most.
    • Though the term “speedrun” suggests one is going fast, lots of games take a long time to speedrun, requiring dozens of hours of careful and deliberate play.
    • Speedrunning is a test of skill and endurance, and while tapping buttons and analog sticks is physically draining in its own right, it’s hardly on the same level as, say, having to perform a plank over and over again.
  • It’s what makes the slowly growing world of Ring Fit Adventure speedrunning so fascinating. In its early days, it’s not one defined by glitching through in the world in weird ways because no one’s discovered anything like that yet.
    • The only “shortcuts” are to scroll the menus faster—a staple of speedrunning JRPGs—and to manage your stamina.
    • A workout that might be more effective at taking out a group of enemies might be more personally draining, forcing you to take a costly break while your energy returns. It’s a very different way to play.

Indie game dev sees big boost in sales after he uploads it to The Pirate Bay

Article By Andy Chalk, Published on PC Gamer

  • My default position on piracy is that it’s bad and you shouldn’t do it.
    • Entertainment has value, and if you are entertained then you should be willing to pay for it.
    • That said, I also acknowledge that it’s not always a simple, black-and-white situation.
    • Which brings us to the story of Danger Gazers, “a post-apocalyptic roguelite top-down shooter” released earlier this month that saw a big boost in sales after its developer uploaded it to The Pirate Bay.
  • Danger Gazers is $10 on Steam, but if you don’t feel like dropping a tenner, that’s okay too. “This torrent was officially brought to you by ShotX.
    • This is the latest DRM-free version of Danger Gazers (1.1.0), there’s no catch here, no Steam only features, just the fully functional game,” the torrent description says.
    • “As a developer, my only request would be to consider supporting and buying in case you like Danger Gazers and want more indie games in the future.”
  • The developer, Shota Bobokhidze, went deeper into his reasons for sharing the game on TPB last week on Reddit.
    • “There are people who can’t afford the game, some want to play the game before buying, some that never buy games. Just trying to help those people out and make the best of the situation,” he wrote.
    • “There are a lot of ways to show support if you want to without buying the game, such as spreading the word about DG, sharing the torrent, feedback, whatever it is you can come up with. And finally, I hope you have fun and enjoy the game!”
  • The TPB release wasn’t a “planned PR move,” Shota told TorrentFreak, and he didn’t promote it on social media or his studio website, as he wanted to reach out to the pirate community specifically.
    • Nonetheless, the response so far has been “amazing,” There’s also been “a noticeable boost in sales,” which he specified to Polygon as a 400 percent increase in sales over launch day.
    • “And it didn’t stop there, some kind individuals went out of their way to donate more than twice as much (as the $10 purchase price) and I received countless emails from all the people who showed their support,” he said. “I’m thankful that my message was clear and thankful for all the support.”
  • The Steam numbers are still dire: Steam Charts indicates that Danger Gazers’ all-time peak concurrent player count is 7, which isn’t great. But it’s also available (and currently on sale) on Itch.io, which is apparently where supporters ponied up extra cash. (Itch.io enables purchasers to pay more than the list price for games if they want to.)
  • Shota said in his Discord server that he’s also planning on setting up a Patreon so fans can support ShotX’s work more easily.

SpaceX is nearing the next milestone towards sending a human crew up to the International Space Station, by blowing up one of their rockets

  • As part of the safety requirements from NASA, they need run an in-flight abort test to prove that they’re prepared in the case of a rocket malfunction during launch
  • What will happen is partway through the test launch the crew module will fire a set of escape engines and separate from the booster, going off to land in the ocean
  • The Falcon 9 booster will fall back to Earth, being torn apart as it descends into the water
  • It should be a pretty interesting show for anyone watching at 8AM ET on January 18th

 

Overwatch Lunar New Year starts!

The Year of the Rat hits Overwatch from day of recording, January 16th, and goes all the way to February 5th.
The announcement was followed by a clip of the Sombra skin. It is called Face Changer Sombra. She has a headdress an the mask changes periodically. It is based on someone performing Bian Lian, which translated to ‘Face-Changing’, an ancient Chinese dramatic art that is part of the more general Chinese opera. Performers wear brightly colored costumes and move to quick, dramatic music. They also wear vividly colored masks, typically depicting well known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.
Doomfist’s Epic skin is called Monk, and his Doom Fist is gold with purple highlights. It also has the chinese character, Jingang, which is a Buddhist monastery in Kangding, Sichuan, China. He has a shaved head, white eyes, and his clothes have the style of being held on with bindings.
Winston’s Epic skin is called Ancient Bronze. The metal looks like an old patinaed bronze with Jade decoration in it.
Hammond’s Epic skin is called paper cutting. It looks as if the red paint was cut away to reveal a white floral pattern. Paper-cutting is an old art form that has roots all over the world, but is popular decoration during Chinese New Year.
Brigitte has a Legendary skin called Opera. She appears to be dressed as if she were performing in a Chinese Opera. Her shield is very ornate, with a fine China like border, and a large flower in the center.
Lucio’s Legendary skin is called Samul Nori. Samul nori is a traditional Korean style of music. Samul means for objects, and nori is To Play. It involves performers playing music on: a kkwaenggwari which is small gong; a Jing which is a larger gong;  Janggu which is an hourglass-shaped drum; and a Buk, and a barrel drum similar to the bass drum. This music is commonly played for traditional festivals, which Lucio looks dressed for. And his gun, looks like a drum.
Moira has a Legendary Skin called Mask Dancer. It is in the same vein as Orisa’s skin last year, where they are both Mask Dancer performers. Her belt has a mask look at the buckle. And she wears a red mask that has a yellow fire effect coming from the eyes.
Other event unlocks:
  • Bastion Emote: Kite Flying
    • Bastion flies a rectangular Korean style kite, and it flies away on him
  • Hanzo Emote: Sky Lantern
    • Hanzo pulls out and lights a paper lantern that flies gently into the sky
  • Bastion Victory Pose: Hot Soup
  • Pharah Victory Pose: Lion Mask
  • Torbjorn Vistory Pose: Fire Work
  • And a Junkrat gets a new Highlight Intro: Feast
    • It is Junkrat, suffed full of dumplings, and is a mirror of Road Hog’s Highlight Intro where he eats all the steam buns.
  • And a handful of sprays and voice lines

Jeff Kaplan talked about Role Queue changes they have been testing

On the Overwatch Forums, Jeff dropped a huge comment about changes they have tested internally. These are his words.
  • In early December, we were brainstorming ways to shorten DPS queue times and the idea was proposed to try changing the role queue team composition to be 1 Tank, 3 Damage, and 2 Support.
    • Our matchmaking engineers did some modeling around queue times, expected behaviors etc. and all indications pointed to an overall positive improvement to all queue times under a scenario like that.
  • From a design perspective we were reluctant for a number of reasons. Before implementing 2/2/2 role queue, we had done experiments with the team compositions being 1 Tank, 1 Support and 4 damage.
    • The playtests under a 4-1-1 comp were terrible. The problem was the solo support.
    • As a solo support, you felt unable to keep the rest of the team alive.
    • Added to that, at all times, you had 5 very aggressive players prioritizing you as the target every time.
    • As soon as the support player on one side died, the entire team would fall like a house of cards.
  • So when the idea of trying 3-2-1 came up, we were hesitant because of our poor playtests with 4-1-1. But we did something interesting in December and I am really proud of the team for sticking with it.
  • Internally, for the past two months, we changed the game to be based on 3-2-1 composition.
    • When we queue for our playtests, we only get 1 Tank per team for each match. We decided to “live with it” for December and January because we felt like the easy and natural thing for us all to do, is just say, “hey this is different and here are all the problems with it” and dismiss the system.
    • But by forcing the team to try it out and live with it for so long, it’s challenged us to try to solve some of the problems that have surfaced.
  • And there are a number of challenges.
    • First, there is the issue of what players have come to call “off tanks”. The biggest issues center around D.Va, Zarya and Roadhog. The current playstyle of those tanks (if you’re adhering to various metas that have existed) is to pair them with other “main tanks”.
    • Roadhog is a great example.
      • Is the correct thing to do for Roadhog under that design to try to make him more “main tanky” or is the correct thing to do to simply move him to the Damage role and balance him as a damage character?
      • We’ve tried both in our months of testing.
      • If you were to come and play Roadhog today with us in our 3-2-1 experiment, he’s moved from the Tank to the Damage category, he only has 400 health, Take a Breather only heals and does not do damage reduction and there were a bunch of DPS changes to his scrap gun.
      • Now, don’t freak out. We’re not doing this for 2-2-2… I am only sharing the design experiment that’s going on here. Maybe a better direction for Roadhog under 3-2-1 is some sort of team damage reduction ability?
      • How do you take what is essentially an “off tank” and make him a “main tank”? That is what we would have to explore with any of these tank characters.
      • Since the Tank roster is already one of the more limited character selections, we’re obviously not crazy about removing choice from Tank players. And if our stated goal is to improve queue times, did going to 1 tank actually remove a bunch of otherwise tank players from the queue?
      • Or were some of these “tank” players actually damage players who wanted a faster queue time so they picked Roadhog? Obviously, complicated questions and it is even more complicated to be confident in an answer.
  • The other fear around a 3-2-1 comp is the importance it places on the Tank player.
    • In our playtesting, this has manifested itself in two notable ways.
      • 1) Some players feel a lot of pressure to choose the “correct” tank. If there is only one tank, the team has a very strong opinion about who that tank should be. Another fear around this issue is that metas will be even more limited as players tend to take the “path of least resistance” towards their hero choices. If Reinhardt is deemed meta, do we only see Rein from now on? Are we all mad at our tank player if they play the hamster?
      • 2) Some tank players felt a tremendous anxiety about their performance in the match. They felt like being the lone tank put a lot of pressure on them and if they died, it was a really big deal.
    • Some of our tank/support players who would occasionally play tank stopped playing tank during 3-2-1 and only gravitated toward support because they felt intimidated to be “the main tank” and have so much focus on their play. Conversely, there are a number of main tank players on the team who actually enjoy the added spotlight.
    • Traditionally in video games there are different personas that are attracted to roles in games: Tank, Support, Damage etc. We saw this in WoW and we see it in OW.
    • While these are stereotypes (and you have to be really careful assuming too much here), there are many Tank players who love being the “lone tank” and carrying the team to glory. Watching this play out in our weird, internal experiment has been fascinating.
  • Our support players have given mixed feedback on the experiment as well.
    • On the negative side, people feel bad when the lone tank dies.
    • On the positive side, many support mains have commented that they feel like they have more freedom to focus on other players and not just “try to keep the big bags of hitpoints alive all match”.
    • In general, these matches are more chaotic and (I’ll touch on this later) feel “more FPS-y”.
    • The result is good or bad, depending on the type of player you are. For some of our support players, this makes matches more exciting.
    • EVERYONE is taking a lot more damage under 3-2-1. for some support players, the chaos causes negative anxiety and they prefer just healing tanks.
  • Speaking of Teamplay, one of our testers who did not like the experiment made a comment that he felt like 3-2-1 detracted from teamplay too much.
    • I found this fascinating because in 2013/2014 every decision we made was to embrace/encourage/force teamplay at all costs. We put so much effort into putting the focus on team victory/defeat rather than individual performance.
    • But in 2020, I feel like the over-emphasis on teamplay (while great for hyper competitive players and situations such as OWL), causes a lot of psychological pressure for your average player just looking to blow off steam in a video game.
    • I guess what I am saying is, that in 2020, feeling like you can deviate from teamplay a little bit in OW and have some success feels like a good thing, not a bad thing to me. The other analogy I’ve used (and I know you all hate my sports analogies) is that OW – in it’s current evolved form – feels like a football game (American) to me where every match is 4th down on the goal line.
    • The amount of team synergy and execution required to pull off a victory is exciting… but also a little intense.
    • There is something nice about a more loose/skirmishy version of the game – but again, it’s all opinion and perspective. Not everyone on my team agrees with me and that’s a good thing.

 

Tidbits

  • It sounds like Apple’s latest AirPods Pro firmware has improved audio performance, but at the cost of noise cancelling quality
    • It’s so bad that Apple has since pulled the update, but many users likely already have it installed as the update is automatic with no way to opt out or even be notified
    • If you go to Settings > General > About > AirPods Pro, and see firmware 2C54, then you’re unfortunately already affected and there’s no way to roll back- you’re stuck until Apple releases a fixed version
  • Apple has launched a replacement program for their iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR Smart Battery Cases
    • Apparently cases manufactured between January and October 2019 are experiencing charging issues, including problems with the case itself charging or it not charging the iPhone properly, so if you’re seeing similar issues you should go to an Apple Store for a free replacement
  • Lawmakers in the EU are debating standardized portable device ports this week, after their relatively weak encouragement toward micro-USB back in 2014
    • This might even be a good time for it as well, with USB-C becoming the de-facto standard for a lot of phones, tablets, and even laptops already
  • Cyberpunk 2077, originally slated to be released on April 16th, has been pushed back to the 17th. Of September.
    • CD Projekt Red released a statement saying the game is playable but needs more testing and polish

Smash Bros Update

  • Smash director Masahiro Sakurai has announced that Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses will be the 5th DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros Ultimate!
  • Both male and female versions will be in the game. Byleth wields 4 weapons from the game including the Sword of the Creator.
  • Byleth comes with the Garreg Mach Monastery stage and several Fire Emblem: Three Houses tracks.

Who is Byleth?

  • Byleth is a playable character and the main protagonist in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
  • As an Avatar, their name, gender, and birthday are customizable.
  • Byleth serves as a professor at Garreg Mach Monastery.
  • They possess the mysterious Crest of Flames and can wield the Sword of the Creator.

With Fighter Pack 2 on the horizon

Who would you love to see in Smash Ultimate?
Both realistically and fantasy?

 

 

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Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Rebel Galaxy

      • Jun 20th to 27th
      • By Double Damage Games
      • Rebel Galaxy is a game of action-packed combat, exploration, discovery, trade, and “negotiation” with the outlandish denizens at the edge of the known universe.
      • You’ll battle pirates, explore anomalies, befriend aliens, scavenge battle wreckage, mine asteroids, and discover artifacts. Choose your path as a roguish do-gooder, crafty space-trader or power-hungry privateer in this swashbuckling space adventure.
  • Microsoft

    • Earth Defence Force 2017 (Xbox One and Xbox 360)

      • June 16th to 30th
      • I did a whole History of Gaming about this franchise, and this is the one that got me into it!
      • Listen to PS2J 238 if your not convinced to get it as soon as possible.

Cyberpunk 2077 goes full inclusive

  • The game will revolve around the player character named V.
    • You can fully customize the appearance, gender and abilities
    • There are three default classes
      • You start the game as a NetRunner, which is hacking focused
      • The Techie uses technology to their advantage
      • and the Solo, who are combat experts
  • Some highlights from an interview on the Metro with Pawet Sasko, the lead of the quest team:
    • About 450 people are working on the game
    • Most of the team have worked together through The Witcher 2 and 3
    • With the experience on The Witcher, the team is confident with the questing
      • You won’t be getting “Go there and kill person” missions
      • The world building will be extensive for those who want to dive in
      • And conversations can be “To the point” for players that want more action
    • For the Player Classes
      • The classes are intended to be fluid
      • You can mix and match skills from Techie, Solo and NetRunner
      • Dialogue options will have different options based on your proficiencies
      • Care is takes for all customizations, cyberware, skills and attributes to affect your gameplay experience with NPCs and the rest of the world
      • Almost like the game is a Game Master in a tabletop RPG and is going with the flow, rather than a rigid pre-planned campaign
    • Keanu Reeves will have the second most amount of dialogue in CyberPunk 2077, next to the main character.
      • He is a character named Johnny Silver-hand
        • This character is an important figure in the original tabletop-RPG CyberPunk 2013 from 1988
      • Johnny is not alive at this time, but exists in the characters mind as a Cyber Ghost
        • And my guest, is that it is a personality imprint made into an AI that would act a lot like the real Johnny
    • Unlike the original RPG:
      • There is no humanity meter, where adding more components to your body has your empathy reduced
        • And it can be reduced so far in the TTRPG, you hand your player sheet to the Game Master, because you are now a NPC!
      • The entire body of the player character will be essentially an inventory for you to manage
    • Your characters sexuality exists, because it exists in people
      • You can have a masculine or feminine appearance
        • And the options are not binary, its all on a sliding scale
      • Match either appearance with a feminine or masculine voice
      • You can also romance however you feel is appropriate
    • Best part of it yet, the development team is working hard, but not overworked
      • They have had huge amounts in progress in the last year
      • And are on schedule without needing to overwork the team
  • A bonus note after I got these sorted, you can call your car and have it appear like Roach in The Witcher

Japan will be turning traffic signals into 5G wireless relay devices

  • With the faster internet speed, comes a much lower range
    • Since low wave lengths travel further, but have less ability with transmitting information, think AM radio
    • And high wave lengths have much more information, but cannot go as far or through objects as well, like FM radio
  • With the new tech, and not many tower to start off with
    • The Japanese government will allow 208 thousand traffic signals to set up new 5G equipment
    • Expecting to be completed by the end of March 2026
  • 5G can receive data 100 times faster than current 4G networks
    • An example of what to expect, a 2 hour film can be downloaded in 3 seconds
  • Japan is hoping to take the lead in 5G ahead of China and the United States
    • Four mobile phone carriers have said they will not use equipment made by the two largest Chinese tech companies
      • Such as Huawei and ZTE Corp.

Missouri to legalize Jedi Funerals

  • A bill called the Jedi Disposal Act may make Missouri the first state to allow outdoor cremations
  • The bill would allow licensed funeral directors to organize outdoor cremations at licensed crematoriums or private sites that have permits
    • It of course references the cremations Jedi have had for their dead
    • Like the ceremonies for Qui-Gon Jinn in Phantom Menace
    • Or for Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi
  • The bill passed with nearly unanimous consent in this year’s legislative session and is awaiting Gov. Mike Parson’s decision on whether to sign it.
    • Sen. Jason Holsman, said he proposed the measure in part because outdoor cremations have been performed “since the dawn of man.”
    • “This is the way that our ancestors took care of their remains,” “The Native Americans did it in trees. The Vikings did it in boats. Outdoor cremation has been around many cultures forever.”
    • Holsman’s northern Germanic and Viking ancestry is what sparked his interest in these outdoor ceremonies
  • The only place in the country where public outdoor cremations are legal is the small Colorado town of Crestone, about 260 kilometers or 160 miles southwest of Denver.
    • The Crestone End of Life Project (CEOLP), a not-for-profit organization, receives state permits to organize ceremonies for people who live or own land in surrounding Saguache (Sa-watch) County.
    • Stephanie Gaines the founding director of CEOLP, has said:
      • CEOLP said it has organized about 65 outdoor cremations during the last 12 years. Some ceremonies attract as many as 300 people in a town with a population of only 143
      • “It’s part of the fabric of our community,” “The cremation is the frosting on the cake. For us, it’s about community support in a transitional time from end of life, terminal end of life, through supporting the family and the individual after death.”
  • Don Otto, executive director of the Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers, said that funeral directors initially resisted the proposal out of fear people would host impromptu bonfires of deceased loved ones in their backyards
    • They dropped their opposition when health and safety requirements were added to the bill.
    • Otto said he expects the state board to enact more detailed rules for how licenses will be granted.

Canadian Netflix Rant

We have the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requirements, derived from the Broadcasting Act of Canada, that radio and television broadcasters (including cable and satellite specialty channels) must air a certain percentage of content that was at least partly written, produced, presented, or otherwise contributed to by persons from Canada. It also refers to that content itself, and, more generally, to cultural and creative content that is Canadian in nature.
  • This greatly limits the content we get to access.
  • Most Canadians assume that when a YouTube video says “This content is not available in your country” it is most likely this broadcasting act.
    • But it also can be the uploader, but we can’t can’t tell when that is the case.
Wreck it Ralph 2
  • French video with full English dub
  • Other examples are:
    • Cars 2
    • Incredibles 2
    • Coco
  • My guess is it’s a deal with Disney content being on Netflix

Tid Bits

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons will not have cloud saves
    • Also, Mr. Resetti has lost his job to autosaving.
  • Its been 2 years since the Minecraft Super Duper Texture Pack has been announced, no further details.
  • From r/Today I Learned: Clone High, the animated tv series about the clones of famous historical figures going to high school, was cancelled due to its portrayal of Ghandi as a loose party animal, causing great controversy in India. It began hunger strikes and even a national protest where MPs got involved.

Josh recommends Aggretsuko Season 2

  • Great to see more of the cute and brutal Hello Kittyaesthetic
  • Interesting to see the Japanese work ethic
  • Addresses real problems I have even been experiencing
    • The struggle of younger Millennials entering the workplace and not having the coping and communication skills that are expected from older generations
    • Dating as an adult and having different expectations for your relationship than your partner