Updated: Feb 17, 2020 12:18 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Monday, Feb 17, 2020 Washington's Birthday/Presidents' Day (USA)

Rainbow Six Siege Year 5 and 6 Plans

Today at the Rainbow Six Invitational 2020, Ubisoft took the lid of their plans for Year 5 and Year 6 for Rainbow Six Siege, their tactical shooter. Word is: "The focus of the two upcoming years is to implement major game updates that have a direct impact on player experience, including both map and Operator reworks, alongside in-game events for players to always have something new to discover in Rainbow Six Siege." They also officially unveil full details Operation Void Edge, which kicks off the first season of Year 5. Word is this "introduces Iana and Oryx -- a new Attacker and Defender -- from the Netherlands and Jordan, in addition to an entirely reworked Oregon map. Season 1 of Year 5 will also include a slew of gameplay changes and a limited-time event." Finally, they also announce that they are now transitioning the game's esports program to a new model that will cover four regional programs to run in parallel throughout the year. Here's a new Tournament of Champions Video, and here's more on Years 5 and 6, and now Year 5 will be a hybrid of the old and new formats:
Today at Six Invitational 2020, Ubisoft® unveiled the Year 5 and Year 6 plans for Tom Clancy’s® Rainbow Six Siege, presenting the future of the game. The focus of the two upcoming years is to implement major game updates that have a direct impact on player experience, including both map and Operator reworks, alongside in-game events for players to always have something new to discover in Rainbow Six Siege.

Transition to this new model will start with a hybrid Year 5: the first two seasons will stay in the current format, with two Operators and a map rework; while the second half of the year will introduce the Year 6 format. In Year 6, each season will introduce one new Operator and plenty of free content available for all players: a map rework, a limited-time event, along with major core gameplay updates. A Battle Pass will also be available each season, starting with Operation Void Edge.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Witcher TV Series Causes Huge Game Sales Bump

A report from the NPD Group drills down into some sales numbers to analyze the impact of Netflix's The Witcher series across other media, including videogames (thanks VGC). Word is the television show caused sales of the games based on the fantasy novels to jump over 500%:
In the world of PC and console gaming, The Witcher was already widely popular. The most recent game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, was released in May 2015. In June 2019, the game’s publisher CD Projekt Red confirmed that the game sold over 20 million units worldwide. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was ported to the Nintendo Switch console in October 2019, just before the Netflix series premiered. These combined factors caused the game to have a strong surge in sales during Q4 2019. U.S. December physical sales for the game were 554 percent higher than December 2018, and still 63 percent higher even when excluding the Nintendo Switch platform.

What is DOOM Eternal? Trailer

A recent What is DOOM Eternal? trailer from Bethesda Softworks marked "unlisted" has been uncovered (thanks DSOGaming). This offers another look at the upcoming installment in id Software's venerable shooter series. The description of the clip has an elevator pitch for the game:
Become the Slayer in an epic single-player campaign to conquer demons across dimensions and stop the final destruction of humanity. Raze Hell and discover the Slayer’s origins and his enduring mission to rip and tear… until it is done. Then, enter BATTLEMODE and choose your side in a new 'Slayer vs Demons' multiplayer experience.
Continue here to read the full story.

3D Realms' Cancelled Aliens Shooter Plans

This tweet and this one from Frederik Schreiber are replies to Cliff Bleszinski's recent tweets about the Aliens shooter plans Boss Key was negotiating before the Fox/Disney deal ended the plan (thanks VG247). Word is that 3D Realms was also in discussions to create a new shooter based on the film series before the Disney deal killed the plan:
This is crazy... we were in the talk about the exact same thing. New Aliens FPS, taking place at Hadleys Hope (4-player coop). Almost went through.

Happened right around the time at the Disney acquisition, and when that happened, it all fell to the ground.

Yup. Game was called Aliens: Hadleys Hope. We went quite far into pre-production before the Disney/Fox acquisition, and then we had to cancel it, and move on with something else.

Maybe some day! I bet yours was very different than ours?

Quantic Dream Going Full Indie

A post to the Quantic Dream Blog celebrates the French developer's 23rd anniversary (thanks ScreenRant). They explain the success of Detroit: Become Human is allowing them to go fully independent, and will self-publish their future games. Here's a bit on their new chapter:
And so, for the first time in 23 years of working with prestigious publishers, we are now in a position to self-publish.

This new venture will allow us to make decisions in total independence, and to address the technological and strategic opportunities of next-generation platforms. It will also allow us to help other developers, by providing investment and development support, so that they can fully express their talents. We want to support creators of original projects and help them, in turn, to achieve their vision and offer quality, ground-breaking experiences.

This is more than an evolution — it is a transformation. We are doing this to preserve our freedom and our independence, to continue working on innovative and even more ambitious projects, to address greater challenges, and to create the unexpected. Quantic Dream will never be just another studio. We want to face new horizons, to keep our passion alive, and keep trusting in the idea of making games that are different.

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem Servers Offline

A post on Steam from developer WOLCEN Studio explains the issues they are struggling with following the launch of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, their eponymous action/RPG (thanks Yiddish). Apologizing for the inconvenience, they say they have taken servers offline as they work to avoid users losing their items and progress until they've worked through the problems that were overloading their database on the back-end:
After applying a hotfix last friday, users reported that their characters were missing, their stashes emptied, and their endgame progression wiped.

Immediately, we took the decision to shut down servers to prevent this from happening to a large amount of players while we find a way to fix it.

This issue was caused by a too large amount of requests leading the database to drop. We contacted our partners and looked for a solution with them, but that implied rolling back to a previous save of the database shortly before the hotfix.

Since then, we are working with our partners to restore the database and merge it with the current one, while fixing the issues that caused these incidents.

Unfortunately, other complications appeared in the process that led us to continuously push back the ETAs we provided for the resolution of the situation, and we're still working hard to fix these issues and make sure that the game works properly Online, which can still take some time.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. That's right, today we celebrate the Presidents of the United States of America, the only indie rock band with their own national holiday. So happy Presidents' Day to all here in the USA. Actually Presidents'/President's Day is a designation in lots of states, but the federal holiday is still Washington's Birthday. So to my fellow Americans, whether your observations are just of the father of the country, add the great emancipator, or include everyone from Millard Fillmore to Herbert Hoover, here's hoping this works in the way the founding fathers intended, and you find a great deal on a new mattress or minivan.

Presidential Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
Story: How 'reading the air' keeps Japan running. Thanks Max.
Science: Car ‘splatometer’ tests reveal huge decline in number of insects. Thanks RedEye9.
Courtroom psychology tests may be unreliable, study finds. Thanks Yiddish.
Academics are making 'intelligent buildings' with the help of fungi. Thanks Yiddish.
Media: World's Fastest Bowling Strike (140 MPH). Rocket League bowling!
Brent Spiner doing his Patrick Stewart impression.
X Games Snowboard Knuckle Huck. I'm a Hucklebuck fan myself.
Follow-ups: Fighting Coronavirus and Other Diseases in Airports. Thanks Max.
Casablanca at 75: fascinating facts about one of the most famous films of all time. Thanks Yiddish.

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Sunday, Feb 16, 2020

State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition Coming to Steam Next Month

The State of Decay Blog outlines gifts for owners of State of Decay 2 upon the release of the Juggernaut Edition of the action/RPG on Steam on March 13th (thanks PC Gamer via Yiddish). Word is current players will get some bonuses upon the end of its Microsoft Store exclusivity. Here's what everyone expect from the Steam version:
State of Decay 2 is an open-world survival-fantasy game for you and up to 3 co-op friends. After a zombie apocalypse, your small group of survivors seek to rebuild a small corner of civilization, and you get to make all the decisions about how that happens.

You decide who to recruit to your team, where to settle your community, how to fortify and upgrade your base, and when it’s time to move to greener pastures. You select which survivor to bring along on a scavenging run for the food and ammo you need, and who you’ll use to fight off the zombies attacking your base. You choose how you’ll deal with other people who move into your town. Will you be friendly and welcoming... or will you aggressively defend your territory?

Every player’s experience in the game is unique. Each character in your community has their own special set of skills and traits, so no two communities are ever the same. The challenges you face also vary from game to game, based on who you recruit and the decisions you make along the way.

Undead Labs is proud to present our best-ever vision of the zombie apocalypse, coming to Steam and other platforms on March 13. Keep your eyes peeled and your weapons ready. This is one apocalypse you won't want to miss.

Free Stadia Tier Coming

A post on Protocol says Google is planning on bringing a free tier to its Stadia game streaming service in the coming months. This is from a couple of weeks ago, but we did not notice at the time (thanks The Motley Fool). Here's word:
Outlining Google's plans for 2020, Harrison said the company intends to launch a free version of Stadia soon. "The big strategic difference is that over the next few months you will be able to experience Stadia for free," Harrison said. "No money down, without having to put a box in your home, you can just click and play amazing games straight from our data center."

Steam Top 10

Here's the new list of the bestselling titles on Steam for last week:

  1. Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem
  2. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
  5. Metro Exodus
  6. Metro Exodus
  7. Azur Lane Crosswave
  9. Grand Theft Auto V
  10. Red Dead Redemption 2

Get Princess Lili for Free

Princess Lili is currently offered for free on Steam, offering the chance to get this casual RPG with a 100% discount (thanks SteamDB via Ant). The catch here is that this does not offer any English language support, so you may only be interested if you can make heads or tails out of its Chinese description:

Sunday Patches

Out of the Blue

Casablanca was on TCM last night, which was a must-watch because it is probably my all-time favorite movie. And this morning we tried toasting up some of those waffles I froze a few weeks ago, and they were awesome. So it's turning out to be a great weekend. As Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan says in Galaxy Quest (another fave): "It's the simple things in life you treasure."

Treasured Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
Links: People Discover A Dog 100% Covered In Tar, Work Tirelessly To Save Her, Succeed. Thanks Max.
Story: 40 times faster than humans- How dogs are tackling Japanese Knotweed on building sites. Thanks Max.
Science: The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized. Thanks Yiddish.
A new study says human yawns are contagious to dogs but that may not mean what we think it means. Thanks Max.
Deconstructing Schrödinger's cat.
Media: WarCrafts 3 Ep 2 "Tower-aid."
No Time To Die - NBA All-Star Game TV Spot.
Only - Official Trailer (HD).
Follow-up: Forget the Coronavirus: The Flu Pandemic of 1918 Killed More People in One Year than all of World War I. Thanks Yiddish.
The Funnies: Arcade Rage.