Updated: Feb 04, 2023 11:55 am EST (GMT -05:00)

Saturday, Feb 04, 2023

John Carmack on Keeping Games Alive

Upload VR has a statement from John Carmack after asking the former Oculus and id Software CTO about news that Oculus is shutting down Echo VR on Oculus Quest. This offers a gamer-centric outlook on the value companies derive from keeping older games running, and the irreplaceable goodwill lost when they are closed. Here's a bit on how games can be designed to better account for changes down the road:
Every game should make sure they still work at some level without central server support. Even when not looking at end of life concerns, being able to work when the internet is down is valuable. If you can support some level of LAN play for a multiplayer game, the door is at least open for people to write proxies in the future. Supporting user-run servers as an option can actually save on hosting costs, and also opens up various community creative avenues.

Be disciplined about your build processes and what you put in your source tree, so there is at least the possibility of making the project open source. Think twice before adding dependencies that you can’t redistribute, and consider testing with stubbed out versions of the things you do use. Don’t do things in your code that wouldn’t be acceptable for the whole world to see. Most of game development is a panicky rush to make things stop falling apart long enough to ship, so it can be hard to dedicated time to fundamental software engineering, but there is a satisfaction to it, and it can pay off with less problematic late stage development.

Evil Dead: The Game Launches Splatter Royale

A new update is now live for Evil Dead: The Game, adding a new battle royale mode called Splatter Royale to the Evil Dead survival/horror game. This is available for Windows on Epic Games Store as well as for consoles. The PC release demonstrates one of the weaknesses of Epic's storefront after all these years, as there's no function to report on such news. There are details on the Evil Dead Website, however, along with a trailer showing off the new mode. The description is quite straightforward:
Evil Dead: The Game’s new battle royale-style game mode is now live, free for all players!

Choose a Deadite version of your favorite Survivor and Demon from the game. Use your wits and weapons to duke it out to the Last Deadite Standing in fast-paced, cutthroat action for up to 40 players.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

Well, speaking (twice) of the winter weather, holy crap is it cold here. The season has been manageable in these parts so far, but damn! Last night it dropped to -7°F. So basically zero Fs given. And the main advance warning was of the potentially deadly wind chill, so who knows how cold it was with that taken into account. This flash froze the pond, and basically flash froze us too. I hope all the critters are safe, and of course the people as well. But seeing this report makes it sound like we should have been outside enjoying the balmy weather. That's because it notes that last night the peak of Mount Washington in New Hampshire it was -46°F with gusts up to 127 mph, setting a likely new national record for lowest wind chill temperature of minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The good news is we seem to past the worst of it, and the forecast calls for normal deadly winter weather going forward, rather than this extra deadly variety.

Obituary: "Police Academy" Star Robertson Has Died.

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Friday, Feb 03, 2023

PC The Last of Us Part I Delayed

A tweet from Naughty Dog announces a little counter-synergy, as following the breakout success of The Last of Us television series, the release of the PC edition of The Last of Us Part I is being delayed by a few weeks:
Let's get right to it: We initially announced The Last of Us Part I PC release would be March 3, but we've decided to push its launch date out by just a few weeks; it will now be released on March 28. We at the studio have been completely blown away by the outpouring of love and support for The Last of Us these last few weeks. Hearing your love for the HBO adaptation, seeing your beautiful Photo Mode shots, and learning about how the world and characters our studio created nearly a decade ago continue to reach new and old fans alike floors us every day. We know a lot of you have been revisiting the story that started it all with The Last of Us Part I on PlayStation 5 console, and we realize many of you have been excited to jump in – some for the first time – when Part I hits PC.

And so we want to make sure that The Last of Us Part I PC debut is in the best shape possible. These additional few weeks will allow us to ensure this version of The Last of Us lives up to your, and our, standards. We are so excited to bring The Last of Us Part I to a new platform, reaching new and returning players with Joel and Ellie's unforgettable story of survival, and we hope that you'll continue to look forward to its PC release on March 28. The Naughty Dog team appreciates your support and enthusiasm, and we look forward to sharing more about The Last of Us Part I PC version soon.
Endure and Survive, Naughty Dog

Sons of the Forest Early Access This Month

Endnight Games and Newnight announce a change in release plans for Sons Of The Forest, the upcoming third-person survival/horror sequel. The game has been delayed a couple of times already, and was most recently expected on February 23rd. After suffering another setback, the plan to launch the game on that date remains in place, but the launch will now be considered an Early Access release:
It’s been a long journey since we first started ‘Sons of The Forest’ development and it’s grown into the biggest most complex game we have ever made. There is still so much more we want to add; items, new mechanics, gameplay balance and more. We didn’t want to delay again so have instead decided to involve the community in the continued development of this project and keep our February 23rd release date but instead release in Early Access.

‘The Forest’ turned out to be a massive success, due mostly to the awesome community and the suggestions, feedback, and bug reports the players shared with us. We are really excited and hope that players want to come on this new journey with us to make this the ultimate survival horror simulator.

SEC Fines Activision Blizzard $35M

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announces it's hitting Activision Blizzard right where it hurts the most. In the change purse. Word is the game developer and publisher, which reported $1.78 billion in net revenue in its most recent fiscal quarter, will have to cough up $35 million to settle charges that it violated a whistleblower rule. Here's a summary of the situation:
According to the SEC’s order, between 2018 and 2021, Activision Blizzard was aware that its ability to attract, retain, and motivate employees was a particularly important risk in its business, but it lacked controls and procedures among its separate business units to collect and analyze employee complaints of workplace misconduct. As a result, the company’s management lacked sufficient information to understand the volume and substance of employee complaints about workplace misconduct and did not assess whether any material issues existed that would have required public disclosure. Separately, the SEC’s order finds that, between 2016 and 2021, Activision Blizzard executed separation agreements in the ordinary course of its business that violated a Commission whistleblower protection rule by requiring former employees to provide notice to the company if they received a request for information from the Commission’s staff.

Akka Arrh This Month

Atari announces February 21st as the official release date for Akka Arrh, a new wave shooter designed by Llamasoft founder Jeff Minter. The takes place within an arcade machine, and as seen in the Announcement Trailer, things get pretty psychedelic. The project has an interesting history, as it's based on a 1980s prototype for an unreleased game, and there are some questions about how this "lost" Atari ROM was recovered. Here's a bit on the game:
A rhythmically flowing arcade shooter experience and psychedelic visual explosion of color, Akka Arrh captures all of the fun of the golden age of gaming and delivers it in an updated, modernized package with vibrant, dreamlike visuals. Tinged with Minter’s sense of humor and prolific graphic style, Akka Arrh is the visionary showcase of his love of hypnotic color and light, combined with his ability to create pure arcade bliss. Players will blast through swaths of enemy waves while manning the titular Akka Arrh, a supped-up cannon just begging to be unleashed.
Continue here to read the full story.

Knockout City Going Down for the Count

An announcement on The Future of Knockout City has the news that Season 9 will mark the end of Knockout City, the free-to-play dodge ball game. The game launched not even two years ago, and soon thereafter boasted over five million players. But it went free-to-play last June in a sign that business could have been better. Now word is the shutdown will come on June 6th, almost exactly a year after that F2P transition. There are various festivities for players between now and then. There's also good news for die-hard players, as there's word on plans for a private server version to allow the game to live on after the official shutdown. Here's a Future of Knockout City Trailer and the overview:
Today we are announcing that Season 9 will be Knockout City’s final season. Then, on the morning of June 6, 2023, over two years after our initial launch, all servers around the world will be shut down and the game will no longer be playable. This was an extremely difficult decision for us, but a necessary and important one for our studio. Before that happens, there are a ton of new updates in store. We’ve got a jam-packed Season 9 full of all the amazing new content you’ve come to expect, an epic send-off both in and out of the game, and even a private server version on PC so Knockout City can live on forever. Read on for a full explanation of why we’re making this decision, what it means for you, how it affects the game, and everything you can look forward to over the next few months.

SpellForce: Conquest of Eo Released

Attention Captain EO, SpellForce: Conquest of Eo is out, offering the latest installment in the Spellforce series of fantasy-themed strategy/RPGs. The Windows game is available on the Epic Games Store, GOG.com,* and Steam, carrying a 20% launch discount across the board. Additionally, GOG.com is offering a free copy of Lords of Magic: Special Edition as a gift with each purchase. The Release Trailer has a look at gameplay. Here's an outline of the game's mix of gameplay elements:
SpellForce: Conquest of Eo offers a unique and engaging gameplay experience by combining elements of 4X strategy games, RPGs, and turn-based tactical combat. Your mobile base of operations - your mage's tower - and depleting resources keep players constantly moving, preventing the stagnation that can occur in the late-game of other 4X games. Instead, the game focuses on the thrill of discovery and danger of early gameplay, while also allowing for research and experimentation to improve units as they level up and acquire new equipment and abilities. With a wealth of procedurally generated adventures and RPG elements, SpellForce: Conquest of Eo transforms the classic RTS-RPG mix into a turn-based 4X RPG experience that is sure to keep players engaged.
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It Takes Two Takes 10M

Hazelight Studios tweets an impressive milestone for It Takes Two, announcing the co-op action/adventure has now sold over 10 million copies across all platforms less than two years after its launch. It was almost exactly one year ago that it was announced the game had sold five million units, so it's maintained a steady pace all along. Word is:
Our minds are officially blown.
#ItTakesTwo has sold over 10 (TEN!) MILLION 😳💥

Potentially twice as many players have enjoyed our game - we never dared to dream of so many fans!
Thank you for all the love. 😍

M.U.D.S.: Mean Ugly Dirty Sport Released

Retro republisher Ziggurat Interactive celebrates one of its Retro First Fridays with the re-release of M.U.D.S.: Mean Ugly Dirty Sport, a violent sports simulation first released for DOS and Amiga in 1990. This is available with a 33% launch discount on GOG.com* and Steam. There's a post on the Ziggurat Games Website with a description of this "fun and violent fantasy bloodbath." A post on GOG.com includes a new trailer showing gameplay and the following concise blurb:
M.U.D.S.: Mean Ugly Dirty Sport was first released in early 90s; it’s a simulation sports game, and combines basic rugby’s rules, RPGs’ character development, and a lot of strategic options. It’s slightly humorous, yet quite violent – tackles, pummelings, being thrown into a moat, where a shark-like creature will eat you if you don’t get out on time. But there’s even more ways to win the match; you can try to bribe the opposing team, the referee, or the creature which is used as the ball.
*Blue's News may receive a commission on sales of this item. Continue here to read the full story.

Delirium Released

Delirium is now available for PC and PlayStation 4, offering a first-person adventure "full of puzzles, quests and silly characters." The Windows edition is available on Steam along with all the other games with the same title. Be warned that this requires a controller, and cannot be played with keyboard and mouse. The Launch Trailer shows off Delirium's distinctive style. Here's more:
Delirium is a first-person graphic adventure in which we control teenage rebel Lola. Like Lola, our main objective will be to escape from Delirium along with her freak brother Danny, who will accompany us during the adventure.

To do this, we must put all our ingenuity in solving fun puzzles, explore unusual scenarios and meet peculiar characters. In Delirium we will be able to interact with the stage to examine objects, pick them up and also combine them with other different ones in order to advance in the story.

With Lola and Danny we will live a whole adventure full of humor and full of references to pop culture, be it video games, comics, movies or series.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

Happy Groundhog Day. Here's hoping everyone got off to a great start with a Sonny and Cher tune and a Ned Ryerson reunion. But of course there's only one factor that determines whether it's a good Groundhog Day or not, and that's the weather forecast. It's a clear sunny morning in our area, so it's not shocking that Punxsutawney Phil reportedly saw his shadow, a harbinger that winter weather will persist for another six weeks. On the other hand, the even more local Staten Island Chuck predicts an early spring. This shouldn't be too shocking either, as this is the eighth year in a row he's made that exact same prediction. This dates back to when Chuck was possibly killed by the mayor, so it may have to do with the substitution. According to the this article, Chuck's been on the money 10 out of the last 11 years. Here's hoping he's right again, because I'm certainly ready for some warmer weather.

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