Nick Diamon

Relax and chill in Monster Hunter World’s Iceborne expansion

, | News

You can have a spa day In Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. The expansion, set to launch in September for consoles and later for PC, offers more than additional beasts to hunt and goodies to craft. In the first developer diary, Capcom revealed some of the cool stuff coming for their best-selling game. Beyond the new hub of Seliana, the team announced player squads and the hierarchy within, more customization options in the personal rooms, and quick access to facilities via a streamlined menu so hunters can get to hunting faster. Capcom also promised a post-launch update that will allow players to invite their friends into their personal rooms to socialize. Will my friends be able to pet my palico? Just kidding. My palico hates that.

There’s finally a new Splinter Cell game coming, but it’s for Facebook’s Oculus VR

, | News

Facebook is creating exclusive deals for Oculus VR versions of popular Ubisoft games. According to the report from The Information, Facebook has already signed agreements to get Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell on its VR platform. If there’s any game personality that’s a perfect mascot for VR, it’s the guy that’s been wearing a ridiculous glowing headset for his whole career.

The deals are reportedly part of a larger strategy of securing more exclusives for Facebook’s gaming divisions. Jason Rubin, formerly the Oculus VP of content, was promoted to the VP of “special gaming initiatives” in May.

The circle will soon be complete for Cuphead

, | News

Cuphead is getting an animated show. The insidiously difficult Cuphead, based on a 1930’s cartoon that never existed, is going to be the basis for a real cartoon from Netflix Animation and King Features Syndicate. Studio MDHR broke the news today, and told IGN that The Cuphead Show! would feature hand-drawn animation, like their game, married to digital technology.

The Cuphead Show! will be executive produced by Dave Wasson, who’s been responsible for the throwback Mickey Mouse shorts Disney has recently released.

Teach kids to fear Shenzen I/O as much as you do for free

, | News

Zachtronics is giving away its games to schools and educators. Studio founder, Zach Barth, has announced that teachers and learning institutions can apply for free licenses of Opus Magnum, Infinifactory, Exapunks, Shenzen I/O, and TIS-100 for their classrooms. If you want to teach kids logic, puzzle-solving, patience, and a crushing sense of frustration, there’s probably no better way to do it than making them sit in front of a Zachtronics game to face their inadequacies.

“Students may acquire an increased sense of the ridiculousness of modern capitalist society.”

Zachtronics has included some educator warnings about the games, such as Exapunks having some swear words and Infinifactory’s dead astronauts. Most worryingly, Zachtronics has rated each game 1 to 5 for its difficulty, and none of the games got a max rating. Please Zach, be merciful.

Choosing a game subscription is like choosing a lover

, | News

With EA Access, PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass, Ubisoft’s Uplay Plus, and Google Stadia, it’s obvious that the next big thing in gaming is the idea of getting people to subscribe to a Netflix-style service. For $10 to $20 a month, you can play any game on their plan, for as much as you want. What’s not to like? If you’re a developer thinking about putting one of your titles on a service, there can be a few things to think about.

“Choose your development partner as carefully as you choose your love partner.”

Eurogamer rounded up the opinions of a few developers regarding their take on this industry trend during a discussion panel. While first-party publisher services aren’t far from traditional MMO subscriptions, the ones offering games from partners, like Paradox Interactive’s Imperator: Rome on Xbox Game Pass, are a paradigm shift. Concerns like how the developer will get paid, what it may do to the game’s perceived value, and where this could all end up weigh heavy on developers’ minds.

As an example, Paradox Interactive’s ex-CEO and current executive chairman, Fredrik Wester offered his opinion that for his company’s titles, a flat fee from the service owner is less desirable than a payment calculated on the player’s time spent in his game. To put it simply, he believes his games should make more money as hundred-hour grand strategy experiences compared to a typical eight-hour first-person shooter campaign.

Microsoft, at least for now, sees game subscriptions as another option to outright buying games. They believe the future offers both choices as a path to gaming.

Shenmue III’s launch is going to be a mess

, | News

Shenmue III, the long-awaited finale to Yu Suzuki’s forklift operator, delivery service, karaoke, faff-about simulator, is launching on November 19th and the whole thing has turned into quite the drama. First, there was a Kickstarter in 2015 that raised over $6.3 million. Then, Deep Silver swooped in right after the crowdfunding campaign ended and snatched up the publishing rights, causing a ruckus with fans that feared developer Ys Net was giving up their independence. Last month, Ys Net announced the PC version of the game would launch as an Epic Store exclusive for a year, greatly angering fans that had expected a Steam key for their pledge on the release date. Today, the developers, Epic Games, and Deep Silver confirmed that refund requests would be honored – in most cases. Unfortunately for folks that pledged to tiers that included physical rewards, they won’t be getting full refunds since those tchotchkes are in production. PlayStation players remain unaffected by the commotion.

Although the original Kickstarter reached many stretch goals, Ys Net also clarified that some promised features were cut, while other goals that were never reached will be implemented. The biggest miss is an “Expanded Character Perspective” system, but players will get a much larger open-world structure for key areas of the game.

All the news has resulted in the usual griping and Steam discussion flurry with some players vowing to never trust Deep Silver or Ys Net again, others opining on Epic’s business practices, and everyone proclaiming support for their favorite flavor of digital store. It’s a microcosm of the Epic Games Store debate. It’s a gloriously divisive and emotional mess that Shenmue fans should appreciate.

You can thank Battleborn for Borderlands 3

, | News

Battleborn, Gearbox Software’s doomed hero shooter, was instrumental in the development of Borderlands 3. Art director Scott Kester told Metro UK that coming off Borderlands 2, the development team needed a change, and Battleborn provided that opportunity, even if the general audience wasn’t keen on the result.

“By the grace of the beautiful 2K they allowed us to say, ‘Hey, we want to try this Battleborn thing, we just want to kind of reset our palette, we’re gonna try this thing’. And we did it and… you know, if we didn’t make that game Borderlands 3 wouldn’t be as good as it is now. It made us think about things a little different.”

Scott Kester also revealed that Gearbox doesn’t consider Borderlands 3 a Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) title. At least, they don’t call it that, but they do plan on making “meaty” expansions and supporting it with substantive endgame content.

New developers take a whack at Prison Architect

, | News

Prison Architect is getting its first update from Double Eleven, the studio that’s taken over the game since Introversion sold it to Paradox Interactive in January of this year. The Clink adds some new walls and floors as well as a couple of interface changes. It’s basic maintenance more than a feature drop, but that’s to be expected with a new developer setting the cadence.

One of the worries many Prison Architect fans have regarding the buyout, is that Paradox might push a DLC-heavy revenue model onto customers. So far, it hasn’t happened, and this first update shows a light touch.

Dozens said PUBG needed a plot, so they’re getting one

, | News

A new game with a narrative in the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds setting is in development. You might’ve thought the story of PUBG was simply “I got shot by someone I didn’t even see while fumbling with my inventory,” but PUBG Corporation and Striking Distance think differently. In fact, the companies think the time is right for an “original narrative experience” in the PUBG universe. We could learn the secret drama behind the frying pan, or the tragic irony of the chicken dinner.

“As a creative, the freedom to explore the PUBG universe has me excited about the possibilities, which I view as beyond the battle royale genre.”

Striking Distance is a new studio from Glen Schofield, one of the original co-founders of Sledgehammer Games. He also served as vice president and general manager at Visceral where he oversaw the development of Dead Space.

Magic: The Gathering is Turing complete

, | News

Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield’s 1993 brainchild, is as computationally complex as its reputation suggests. A physics paper written by longtime player Alex Churchill, Stella Biderman of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Austin Herrick of the University of Pennsylvania argues that Magic is so mathematically complex that it is capable of recreating any computational function. The game is “Turing complete” in the parlance of computational theorists. Simply, the mechanics are complex enough, and there exists enough card variety that it’s possible (although statistically unlikely) to create a game in which the players have no options but to follow instructions to the end state. The equivalent of a cardboard handheld Turing Machine.

“It’s quite possible that Magic is the only tabletop game that’s Turing complete.”

It’s all a lot of math and hoo-haw that Ars Technica does a decent job of explaining to laypeople, but the summary is that Magic players can really lord it over Netrunner fans. Their game is scientifically better.

Imperator: Rome prepares to carpe diem cras

, | News

Imperator: Rome, the sequel to Europa Universalis: Rome, has been having a tough time. Since its launch in April, fans have taken the game to task for having some unfulfilling mechanics, unfair opponents, and a monarch power system that’s been derisively nicknamed “mana” due to the way it magically works. It’s the only Paradox Interactive grand strategy game with a negative average of user ratings on Steam. While the game’s initial sales exceeded the developer’s expectations, the player response has been disappointing. So much so, that the roadmap Paradox published includes multiple steps to get back on course. In a new interview with PC Gamer, designer Johan Andersson revealed how he took the criticism to heart.

“I don’t understand why people want to buy a game that has major core features that they don’t like. Well, if the customers want something different, we’ll just have to change the game to do that.”

The first big improvement update For Imperator: Rome comes on June 26th. It will revamp naval action to give fleets more to do.

Maybe you’ll buy more stuff in Destiny 2’s store now?

, | News

Bungie is revamping the in-game store for Destiny 2. The Eververse, as it’s called, has always been a source of controversy for players, but Bungie hopes the upcoming changes will elevate it into more of a revenue generator. First, all Eververse armor will become Universal Ornaments, meaning they’ll be turned into purely cosmetic bits that can be applied to any legendary armor. You’ll get the spiffy new helm look, but keep all the underlying buffs and stats. Second, Bright Dust is changing from a currency to a reward. You’ll earn it for finishing bounties, and once you complete your weekly bounties Bungie will give you other ways to earn more. Finally, Eververse loot will no longer dismantle into Bright Dust. Breaking up that junk will give you Legendary Shards and Glimmer, which you’ll be able to spend in exchange for Collections. I’m sure all this means something to Destiny players, but it’s Foozles and Whatzits to me.

The changeover will happen on September 17th, so Bungie recommends that if you’re sitting on a pile of stuff to dismantle, you should do it before the update to maximize your Bright Dust payout. Coincidentally (or not) the PC version of Destiny 2 will be moving from Activision Blizzard’s Battlenet to Steam around that same time.

Limbs are safe in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

, | News

If Star Wars fans know one thing, it’s that lightsabers are for cutting off arms. Limbs are always getting lopped off in the films. Threaten a Jedi with a gun and you’ll likely earn a quick visit to the bacta tank and get a robo-hand grafted on for your trouble. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the upcoming game from Respawn and Electronic Arts, bucks that trend. Speaking to IGN, senior designer Justin Perez revealed that Disney and Lucasfilm have rules against dismemberment for their licencees. It’s fine for robots and animals, but people and humanoid aliens cannot be de-limbed, at least, not by the player. Oddly, decapitation is allowed in certain dramatic instances, but you can’t show the cut or blood. Think back to the scene of Jango Fett’s end in Episode II and you’ll get the idea. Point your gun at Jedi with impunity – as long as you’re not in an actual movie.

Your car in Cyberpunk 2077 will act like your horse in The Witcher 3

, | News

Settle down, people. We know you’re all excited that Keanu Reeves is playing Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077, but the real E3 story is how you’ll call your transportation in the game. Speaking to VG247, lead quest designer Pawel Sasko revealed that in the world of Cyberpunk, the artificial intelligence in your neon car or neon motorcycle responds to your call like Roach in The Witcher 3.

“You can see as your motorcycle arrives, you can see as your car arrives. So you can just leave it wherever you want, it can go somewhere, just call it, and AI makes it like ‘bzzt!’, he drives by and waits for you.”

Will your chrome and samurai-armored sedan climb up on the roof of a cottage, like the ever awkward Roach was sometimes known to do? Will your bladed crotch rocket trample your enemies, or buck you off on a whim? These are questions Keanu Reeves has probably not had to consider.

Google has been giving away a game to build games since November

, | News

Google’s Area 120, an idea incubator that’s had some hits and misses, has released Game Builder for free. It’s a simple, easy-to-use game that teaches basic logic and code concepts, while giving players the tools to build their own 3D games. It uses a card-based visual language to ease players into programming behaviors and actions, but more ambitious tinkerers can dive into the JavaScript functionality to make their own virtual code cards.

Game Builder has been out on Steam early access as something of a stealth release since November. Area 120 only publicized the game today.