PS2J 312 News – Domestic Spying Only

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • NeuroVoider

      • 2016
      • Twin-stick shooter RPG set in a futuristic world about brains shooting around evil robots with nuclear rocket launchers, where you can customize your brain with the smoking remains of your victims
    • Dead in Vinland

      • 2018
      • Survival management game mixed with RPG and adventure elements, about a viking family trying to survive after being exiled on a mysterious island
    • Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn

      • 2018
      • Fighting game featuring Shaquille O’Neal that has you fighting your way around the world, beating outlandish celebrity bosses, and listening to a new rap track from Shaq himself
    • WARSAW

      • 2019
      • Turn-based historical role playing game where you need to use everything at your disposal to help a team of accidental heroes survive on the streets of Warsaw in 1944
    • Treachery in Beatdown City

      • 2020
      • Retro-style beat ’em up with RPG tactics and wrestling mechanics that lets you build a custom character and go save the president
    • Blazing Chrome

      • 2019
      • Side-scrolling action run and gun that has you freeing human kind from a machine-ruled world with fast-paced single player or co-op gameplay
    • Chroma Squad

      • 2015
      • Turn based tactical RPG about five stunt actors who decide to quit their jobs and start their own Power Rangers inspired TV show, where you customize your studio, craft your giant cardboard mechas, and combine your heroes’ abilities with teamwork maneuvers
    • Baseball Stars 2

      • 1992
      • Two player sports arcade game for the Neo-Geo that also saw a home release on the NES, it was lauded as having unparalleled gameplay and “the best graphics, sound, and gameplay this side of ESPN”
    • Shock Troopers 2nd Squad

      • 1998
      • Top-down military themed action shooter arcade game on the Neo-Geo that actually has no connection to the first Shock Troopers game, you choose from four mercenaries with different abilities to take down a terrorist organization
    • Ironclad

      • 1996
      • Side-scrolling shoot ’em up that has you manoeuvring a warship and teaming up with the mighty Iron Clad in order to fight the Iron Mask Republic and save the Kingdom of Chop
    • King of the Monsters

      • 1990
      • Isometric fighting game that pits pits kaiju against eachother and humanity to discover who is the strongest Super Monster of all
    • Sengoku 3

      • 2001
      • Side-scrolling beat ’em up that has you adventuring around the world to destroy evil spirits awoken by the red moon, with armed and unarmed combos and massive Ninja Art attacks
    • Metal Slug 2

      • 1998
      • Iconic run and gun action shooting game where you fight your way through a hail of bullets to thwart General Morden’s evil ambitions and uncover the secret of his new coup
    • SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

      • Video game compilation consisting of 24 different arcade and console games published by SNK between 1979 and 1990, from Ozma Wars to Crystalis
  • Epic Games

    • Wilmot’s Warehouse

      • 2019
      • Top-down puzzle game about keeping a warehouse running in tip-top shape. You’ll need to flex your organizational muscles in arranging and grouping items so you can retrieve requests as quickly as possible
    • 3 out of 10, Ep 1: Welcome To Shovelworks

      • 2020
      • Billed as the world’s first playable sitcom, it’s a fully animated and voiced free episodic series based in the world’s worst game studio, with narratively driven mini games taking you behind the scenes in a satirical look at game development

Health Canada has released a national COVID-19 contact tracing app, and it actually uses the proper exposure notification API

  • COVID Alert is available on iOS and Android, and takes full advantage of the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API
    • One thing to note here is that because the API is only available in iOS 13, you’ll need an iPhone from the last five years or so (6s or newer)
    • That lets your phone silently record randomized identifiers for anyone that comes within range of you for 15 minutes or more
    • Then, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they just have to enter a code given to them by health care workers and it will upload a list of everyone that was in range in the last 14 days
    • At set intervals your phone will check the uploaded lists and, if your identifier was included in one, let you know that you may have been exposed
    • No personal information is asked for or collected by the app- you’ll see a prompt asking to enable COVID-19 Exposure Logging and Notifications, and then another asking to enable notifications for the app. Other than that it just asks what province you live in
  • A lot of other apps, even some local ones like ABTraceTogether, have attempted something similar, but because they wanted to use their own systems they hit walls like your iPhone screen needing to be on and unlocked at all times
    • These apps are not only battery hogs, but also less secure as they could be accessing other identifying information while they run
  • There is a caveat here in that reporting is currently limited to a pilot program running in Ontario, but you can still download and run the app anywhere in Canada so that your contact tracing records are kept up to date. Then even on day one of reporting in your province you’ll be able to see if you came into contact with someone days or weeks ago
  • Estimates show that these apps become really effective after they reach 60% of an area’s population, and there’s literally no downside to running it, so I’d heartily recommend everyone take a moment and get that going on your smartphone

Xbox Game Streaming is going full Stadia on September 15th, but they might actually do it right

  • Based on Project xCloud, the new tech will allow Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play more than 100 games from the cloud on their Android devices
  • You’ll be able to play things like Minecraft Dungeons, Destiny 2, Gears 5, and Yakuza Kiwami 2, and they’ve announced they’ll be providing day-one access to new titles from Xbox Game Studios
  • Mobile users will have full access to the console experience, including friends lists, achievements, and saved game progress
  • And one of the best parts is that this isn’t limited to the States- September 15th will see the launch across 22 countries across North America and Europe
  • Unfortunately this is Android exclusive- Microsoft was running tests with iOS devices, but Apple’s App Store policies smacked the whole idea down
    • An Apple spokesperson told Business Insider that streaming services like these can’t be on the App Store because the company can’t review every single game included in the apps
    • They say that because games are interactive, unlike movies and music, they must be reviewed before being allowed to reach iPhone and iPad users
    • I think if that’s their concern they should just put the highest age-rating on the app and let it loose. There are a lot of interactive things on iPhones, like web browsers, where it’s just not feasible to review every single interaction

Samsung introduced a bunch of new tech with their Unpacked digital event this week

  • They introduced a fancy new Galaxy Z Fold 2 with a faster processor and redesigned hinge
    • The gap between the screens has been shrunk and the device is thinner than the first Fold, but the hinge also boasts improved dust elimination. We’ll see more details on September 1st when preorders open
  • The Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are the next flagships of the Galaxy line with 5G support
    • They’ve improved the S Pen and, for the Ultra model, set up a 120Hz screen for less latency when gaming
    • They’ve also partnered with Microsoft for three free months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with Xbox Game Streaming, as well as a free controller to play with
  • New tablets are coming in the form of the Tab S7 and S7+, and are the first tablets that support 5G in the US (for what it’s worth)
    • Apparently they’ll have a lot of Microsoft integrations, including the ability to use it as a second screen with your Windows computer
  • Taking a note from Apple’s iPhone X, Samsung skipped right from the Galaxy Watch to the Galaxy Watch3, with a smaller, thinner, and lighter body that still houses a larger screen
    • The new model has a cool feature that can measure your blood oxygen levels, too, which is pretty handy when we have a lung-attacking pandemic on our hands
    • Recent rumours are saying that the next Apple watch will also include this feature
  • Galaxy Buds Live are Samsung’s latest wirefree earbuds, now with active noise cancelling
  • And they’ve announced the followup to their original folding smartphone, the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
    • This one goes back to the book-style body of the Fold, but now when it’s closed you get a full 6.2” screen instead of the giant bezels and 4.6” screen of the original
    • They’ve also switched the display from using plastic to “ultra thin glass”, to improve strength and scratch-resistance, and improved the hinge to be not only stronger but also offer more varied angles
      • It still has a slight gap in the hinge, but Samsung says they’ve added bristles to keep dirt out

It’s been a weird week when it comes to TikTok

  • With such a popular app being owned by a Chinese company, many are concerned about the data that so many are willingly uploading to the service (along with whatever it may be grabbing behind our backs) ending up in the hands of a foreign government
    • Some are also concerned about how it could pave the road for some low-grade propoganda, given how the way videos are promoted to users is a complete mystery
  • Last Friday Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he would be banning the Chinese social media service from the United states, though given his track record who knows what he actually meant
    • He said he’d be signing the document the next day, but whether that was supposed to be an executive order or something else it never materialized
  • Then two days later Microsoft confirmed its intent to acquire TikTok in the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealond, saying they got a window from the president to have a deal in place by September 15th but is still threatening a ban if they can’t hash it out
  • On the political side, China’s communist party tabloid Global Times called a forced sale the “hunting and looting” of TikTok, and with Trump saying the US Government should get a “substantial portion” of the sale for “making it possible for this deal to happen”, you can start to wonder if they may be on to something

This Week In Gaming History:

August 1 – 1991 – F-Zero – SNES

  • The series is known for its high-speed racing, characters and settings, difficult gameplay, and original music, as well as for pushing technological limits to be one of the fastest racing games.
  • The original title inspired the creation of games such as Daytona USA and the Wipeout series.
  • And selfishly, I love this game for putting Captain Falcon into Smash bros, so he could be cloned to be my main Ganondorf.

August 2 – 1992 – Mortal Kombat – Arcades

  • Mortal Kombat was considered as one of the greatest video games of all time by critics and audiences in 21st century and became a best-selling game and remains one of the most popular fighting games in the genre’s history, spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs over the following years and decades, beginning with Mortal Kombat II in 1993, and together with the first sequel was the subject of a successful film adaptation in 1995.
  • However, it also sparked much controversy for its depiction of extreme violence and gore using realistic digitized graphics, and, along with the home release of Night Trap, prompted the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a U.S. government-backed organization that set descriptor ratings for video games.

August 3 – 2008 – The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast – PC

  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast, you play the Angry Video Game Nerd from the web video series.
    • You are flying along wielding your NES Zapper, shooting NES cartridges that have been features on the Angry Video Game Nerd videos.
    • Do not touch a cartridge or get hit with a shot as this drains your life meter. If your life meter drops to zero, you lose a life. Hitting a spiked wall instantly loses you a life.
    • If you see a couple bottles of Rolling Rock beer, these will restore some of your life meter.
    • A six-pack is an extra life.
    • You can press a second fire button to call forth Shit Pickle, who will clear all enemies from the screen.
    • After a couple of levels, your progress will be saved so you don’t need to restart from the beginning, if you don’t want to.

August 4 – 2013 – Pikmin 3 – WiiU

  • The game centers around controlling three new characters: Alph, Brittany, and Charlie. They travel to PNF-404 (the planet featured in the first two games) to save their home planet Koppai from famine by harvesting seeds from the planet’s fruit. Upon reaching the planet, they discover the Pikmin, a servile species that’s both plant and animal, which they use to collect the fruit and battle the planet’s many fierce creatures.
  • Pikmin are super cute, and I love Pikmin 2, but the loss of control in this was devastating to my enjoyment of the game.
    • You used to be able to control Pikmin with the right analog stick, but in this game it is a camera control, and the Pikmin mindlessly follow you to me devoured, stomped or somehow caught by anything that follows you.

August 5 – 2000 – Hot Chix ‘n’ Gear Stix – PC

  • Caught my eye with the ridiculous title
  • Behind the wheels of one of the 6 mid-70s American muscle cars your only aim is to show yourself as the hottest chix around in this arcade-style racing game.
  • Tried to get more info off the developers website, but their website looks like its no longer hosted

August 6 – 2001 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo – PS2

  • An action game based directly on the Mobile Suit Gundam films and series. The game begins at the start of the series and ends at the ending of the second film.
  • The game plays in an action game format with a standard third-person view. It features newly hand animated cutscenes that depict events from the original television series as well as a CGI opening depicting a space battle from the One Year War and then a scene of the Gundam destroying several Zaku IIs before being attacked by Char Aznable.
  • A sequel, Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space, was released in 2003.
    • Which has hard to learn controls that reflect space combat well.
  • The English dub of the video game features the voices of the actors who were cast for the Mobile Suit Gundam television series as with most games subsequent to the series’ dubbing, rather than the English cast of the films.

August 7 – 2018 – Dead Cells – XBox One/PS4

  • Dead Cells is a roguelike action platformer video game inspired by Metroidvania-style games
  • Absolutely love the art style, I have no idea how to play the game. And feel like I’m bad at it.

Tidbits

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons has officially sold more than double what New Leaf did, beating out Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros Ultimate to reach the number 2 spot for Switch game sales just under Mario Kart 8
  • Bethesda has announced that Doom Eternal and The Elder Scrolls Online will both be free on the PS5 or Xbox Series X for players that have them on PS4 or Xbone, respectively
  • A new brushing scam saw people in dozens of US states receive mystery seeds in the mail that they didn’t order
    • Governments are urging people not to plant them or throw them out, as they could introduce invasive species, but to contact your state plant regulatory official instead
    • Brushing scams, I learned this week, are a e-commerce trick where scammers will get ahold of people’s names and addresses and then send them some random, low-value item.
      • The idea is that once there’s a record of some kind of shipment, they can use that to legitimize fake positive product reviews that they attach your name to
  • Three teenagers were arrested this week for last month’s massive Twitter hack that had prominent users like Bill Gates and Elon Musk promoting a Bitcoin scam that earned over $100K
    • According to federal agents, they’d used their own driver’s licenses to open Bitcoin wallets that received some of the loot
    • The suspected leader is being charged with more than 30 felonies, including communications fraud and identity theft, but the hack could have been a lot worse if the goal had been to affect global policy rather than make a quick buck

 

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

Thank you Renée, and check out her podcast that Josh works on, Ravage Love.

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!

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?

 

 

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

A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long. We really appreciate his support over the years.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!