Despite the widely lauded story and player choice in Fallout: New Vegas, the ending was a disappointment. Siding with Caesar, House, Yes Man, the New California Republic, or doing your own thing got you a slideshow of narrated results and dumped into the end credits. That was it. You couldn’t even continue wandering the wastes for random adventuring. It was doubly perplexing because a similar ending in the original Fallout 3 was soundly criticized and later updated to allow gaming past the main quest’s finish. How did Obsidian drop the ball with New Vegas?
Chris Avellone admitted to Eurogamer that it was a missed opportunity. The studio originally planned to have post-story content, but they just ran out of development time. It wasn’t going to be anything fancy, but the player would’ve been able to go on walkabout and some NPCs would even comment on the character’s choices. The threat of adding more bugs to an already error-prone game, and the prospect of wasting resources on something that might not even matter to players was a significant roadblock. The idea of adding this feature with one of the DLC packs was suggested, but the plan was ultimately shot down.
“I even offered to pay for one of the milestones myself to allow for additional polish time on existing content, but that was refused because they didn’t want to extend the release date for the DLCs.”
Thus static images, narration, then credits. But there’s something to be said for having an actual ending, rather than anticlimactic aimless exploring, followed by ennui. Always leave’em wanting more!
Microsoft is relaunching the IntelliMouse as a gaming peripheral. When the first IntelliMouse appeared in 1996, PC users lauded its clean lines, ergonomics, and introduction of the scroll wheel. It quickly became the standard by which other mice were compared. In 1999, it became one of the first commercially available optical mice thanks to “IntelliEye” technology. Throughout the years, Microsoft has sold the venerable mouse to hardcore fans, but now they are offering a jazzy gaming version.
In a nod to modern gaming, there are subtle design updates inspired by the shadow and gradients that are popular on Xbox accessories.
For many old school gamers, Quake II’s colored lighting was their introduction to to the pixel-pushing power of a dedicated graphics card. The reds were so red and the greens were so green! Did you see the way the yellow blaster shots went down the darkened hallway? On June 6th, Quake II may become another common touchstone when Nvidia releases an update that supports raytracing for the game. They’re even releasing a three-act shareware file (ask your parents about this if you don’t know) for everyone to sample.
While this isn’t the first game with raytracing, nor even the first version of Quake II supporting it, this marks the first official effort from a graphics card manufacturer done in cooperation with id Software. The source code will be released on June 6th as well, so modders can go nuts.
Brightburn isn’t Brightburn enough. Early on, it suggests some truly freaky angles to the familiar Superman story. We all know the Superman story. An alien child comes to Earth, is adopted by wholesome parents, discovers his superpowers, saves world. But Brightburn suggests we can’t assume that last bit because children can be evil little shits. Which, really, isn’t very provocative. “I gave you Lord of the Flies for your birthday,” a father tells his bullied child in the movie Cold Pursuit, “All the answers you’ll ever need are in that book.”
The Perfection is a duet played out in the twisting relationship between two women, intersecting and overlapping in ways that make no sense. Until the script provides that key piece of information it conveniently forgot to mention several scenes ago. Psyche!
General Mills has officially adopted Chex Quest 3. The fan-made sequel, originally released in 2008, is being re-released by General Mills and folded into the Chex Mix brand’s family of licensed products. It’s a feather in the cap for Charles Jacobi, the creator of Chex Quest 3. He had worked on the original two games as an artist, then made the unofficial third game as a passion project.
To celebrate the event, General Mills posted the video above detailing some of the history of the quirky little freebie that came in cereal boxes in 1996 and wound up with a cult following. But that’s not all! Charles Jacobi is also working on Chex Quest HD, a fancy hi-res version of the saga for newer gamers that may not appreciate the Doom engine’s chunky pixels.
Gamification is using game design to make otherwise mundane tasks fun. Imagine you’re a worker in a warehouse and you have to pick and sort an endless list of packages into bins and you have to do it really quickly. All day. It could be a boring hellscape of menial labor, or with the right game incentives, it could be a delightful multiplayer contest. That’s what companies like Amazon hope they can do by gamifying their work processes.
The Washington Post reports that Amazon has started testing the concept at a few of its distribution centers. Workers in a select few warehouses can play an handful of internally developed videogames on their handheld work systems that foster productivity with things like high scores, achievement badges, and multiplayer leaderboards. Titles like PicksInSpace and MissionRacer may not sound like a good time, but research has shown that even rudimentary gamification can increase worker morale and performance. Players of Cookie Clicker can attest to this.
Representatives from Amazon say the games are strictly voluntary, and they do not track participants’ performance in the games, but they do measure and rate their workers’ normal productivity. Imagine the monkey’s paw scenario of your boss trying to make your daily tasks more “fun” via something like Bad Rats or Superman 64. Electric dreams can come true!
Let’s take a moment for the Game Bar. It’s that app you’ve probably never used in Windows 10. If you have an Xbox controller plugged into your PC, you may have accidentally seen it pop up when your thumb hit the logo button. Enabling the Game Bar allows you to take screenshots and post them to social media, record footage, and stream to Mixer or YouTube. It’s functional, but duplicates features in more popular programs, opting (up until now) for ease of use over more configurable choices.
Microsoft is updating the Xbox Game Bar. The improvements include a customizable HUD, the ability to (oh no) “turn your captured screenshots into memes,” run Spotify from an overlay, and a “looking for group” chat widget. Thanks to user feedback, the team at Microsoft felt these were the most needed additions. Okay, none of that sounds essential, but maybe you’ll use the Game Bar more than when you stumble on it with button mashes?
The latest Dota 2 premium pass includes access to tools that gives owners the ability to put other players on a personal ban list. Valve’s long-running MOBA now offers beta access to an Avoid Player feature, but you’ll have to give up at least $10 for the standard Battle Pass to use the tool.
Complaints from the Dota 2 community point out that besides charging for a basic toxic player management feature, the Avoid Player function doesn’t actually mean you won’t see those particular offenders in your future games. It only tells the system that you’d rather not play with a particular person, but matchmaking can override that notice. The Battle Pass does include a virtual high-five emote, so you can hopefully make nice and turn bad actors into buddies.
Ubisoft is giving away Steep, their high-flying, open world, snow sports game, to anyone that wants it. You can add Steep to your PC Uplay library right now. It will be yours to keep for as long as Uplay remains a thing. You have until May 21st to grab the game, and really, why wouldn’t you? Tom liked its laid-back approach to winter activities.
“It’s your mountain range, dude. Steep shrugs affably and patiently waits while you mosey over to unlock a new drop-off point.”