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Wednesday, Jan 03, 2018

  

Heroes of the Storm to Slow its Roll

Blizzard Entertainment responds to a reddit thread that discusses a fairly significant decrease in average game length in Heroes of the Storm since the most recent update to the MOBA. The post says based on available data it looks like the average game is about 1:44 shorter than before, so they now end about 8.5% sooner. There are several posts to the thread discussing whether it is now easier to snowball opponents, and Blizzard says they are looking to make changes to reverse the shorter game trend. "Game times are running a bit faster than we'd like now, particularly in high MMR bands," explains Blizzard's Travis McGeathy. "There are some tuning changes coming soon to help out with that." In another response he elaborates:

They're tied together. The shorter game times are largely driven by the strength of push, particularly with mercenaries, allowing the leading team to take structures and end before the other team has time to come back.

Increasing the strength of pushing with mercs is intended, but its likely a bit too strong right now.

Monster Hunter World in Autumn

Monster Hunter World was announced for PCs, but from the start CapCom said this version of the co-op action/RPG was "coming at a later date" than the console versions, which are due soon. Now this tweet (thanks GameInformer) says the game "is currently being optimized for PC and is planned for an Autumn 2018 release!" This also includes a video with English subtitles where producer Ryozo Tsujimoto says they will update us with more details "later," and thanks us for our patience. He also discusses plans for free updates that will add new monsters after the January 26th release of the console versions. He does not connect the dots and say these additions will come to the PC version as well, but it seems pretty safe to assume so.

Steam Award Winners

Steam News announces the winners of the 2017 Steam Awards. This page has more detail, and here are the honorees:

The “Choices Matter” Award:
The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt

The “Mom’s Spaghetti” Award:
PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

The “Labor of Love” Award:
Warframe

The “Suspension of Disbelief” Award:
Rocket League®

The “The World Is Grim Enough Let's Just All Get Along” Award:
Stardew Valley

The “No Apologies” Award:
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director's Cut

The “Defies Description” Award:
Garry's Mod

The “Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Dogs Of War” Award:
Just Cause™ 3

The "Haunts My Dreams" Award:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

The "Soul Of Vitruvius" Award:
Rise of the Tomb Raider™

The "Whoooaaaaaaa, Dude! 2.0" Award:
The Evil Within 2

The "Best Soundtrack" Award:
Cuphead

The "Even Better Than I Expected" Award:
Cuphead

DRAGON BALL FighterZ Trailer

Following today's news that they are now accepting pre-purchases for this month's release of DRAGON BALL FighterZ, Bandai Namco Entertainment now offers the opening cinematic trailer from the upcoming brawler. Word is:

A new contender is coming for the fighting game throne! DRAGON BALL FighterZ is fighting, for a new generation. On January 26th, 2018 prepare to do battle with Goku, Trunks, Hit, Beerus and more! DRAGON BALL FighterZ will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam. Pre-order your copy NOW and gain early access to SSGSS Goku and Vegeta.

Continue here to read the full story.

Utomik's January Additions

Utomik announces the highlights of the January additions to their streaming game service that now boasts almost 700 choices. This video accompanies the news, which says that they now offer Batman: Arkham City, Saints Row 4, and 23 other new games. Here's word:

It’s 2018, time to hit the ground running! Here’s a sneak peek at some of the amazing games coming to Utomik throughout January, including Batman: Arkham City. To top it off, we are excited to reach a new milestone this Friday: 700 games on Utomik! We also release TWICE as many games this week, woohoo!

Titles added throughout January:

Batman: Arkham City - Batman returns bigger, better and with more ‘Kapow!’ as the criminals of Gotham City now get locked up in Arkham City, the new maximum security prison. Face off against some of Gotham’s most notorious criminal masterminds including The Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler, and The Penguin.

Another Lost Phone - Laura’s Story - The spiritual successor to A Normal Lost Phone lets you once again piece together the social life of the person whose phone you have just found. It deals with big issues, dark themes, and things that other games are too afraid to talk about.

The Longest Journey - Embark on a physical and spiritual journey between worlds as April Ryan, a young art student, in what is generally seen as one of the best adventure games ever made.

The Town of Light - In the early 20th century mentally ill people in Italy got sent to a place for ‘people society didn’t want to save’. This game tells the horrifying story about one such place, the Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra.

Tiny Echo - Once again developer Might and Delight (from the Shelter series) manages to combine aesthetic elegance with a mysterious world and an atmospheric soundtrack. Deliver messages to spirits as Emi in a gorgeous hand-drawn world filled with peculiar creatures.

Saints Row IV - Go absolutely bonkers in the fourth instalment of the open world series that keeps redefining absurdity with each new entry.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Nexon Cutting LawBreakers Losses; Blames PUBG

The Nexon Q3 2017 Investor Presentation came out close to two months ago, but the news that drew attention at the time was their acquisition of a new mobile studio. DSOGaming notes that at the time the publisher also revealed that LawBreakers represented a majority of their "impairment loss" for the period. Word is: "In Q3, impairment loss related to LawBreakers accounts for the majority of the total other expense. We will not accrue any more impairment loss pertaining to LawBreakers." The Investopedia explains the term: "Impairment loss is the decrease in an asset’s net carrying value that exceeds the future undisclosed cash flow it should generate. Net carrying value is an asset’s acquisition cost minus depreciation. Impairment occurs when a company sells or abandons an asset that is no longer beneficial. Impaired assets must be recognized as a loss on the company’s income statement." Nexon also stated in an investor's conference call that they blame the failures of Boss Key's shooter on the success of PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS, the battle royale shooter that had already sold more than four million copies a couple of months before LawBreakers' release:

"Our results in North America in the third quarter were below our outlook, mainly due to the sales from LawBreakers being below our expectations. LawBreakers is a unique FPS developed for core users. We had very high expectations for its launch; however, the timing of its launch turned out to be unfortunate, specifically the blockbuster PC online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds came out right about the same time, making the market environment very tough for first-person shooters in general and for LawBreakers."

Rocket League Boasts over 40 Million Players

A tweet from Rocket League announces the sports game continues to soar since its launch, and now boasts over 40 million players worldwide (thanks DSOGaming). Here's what they say:

Rocket League now has 40 MILLION players worldwide! Thank you to our ever-growing community for helping us start the new year with such a fantastic milestone.

Hyper Universe This Month

Nexon announces January 17th is the official release date for Hyper Universe, their four-vs-four MOBA played from a side-scrolling perspective. They offer an official launch trailer celebrating the news with a 30 second look at the game. For those who have already checked this out in Early Access, this post explains changes for the launch edition. Here's word:

Hyper Universe, the intensely fun action brawler is officially launching on Jan. 17, 2018 for PC through Steam and the Nexon Launcher. Players can download the game for free and experience the fast-paced, stylized side-scrolling action across multiple maps in a challenging 4v4 team setup.

With the official launch, players will see a rebalanced core experience with an emphasis on individual skill and coordinated teamplay. Items available to purchase through the Hyper Universe shop will be cosmetic only, allowing players to deck out their favorite Hypers with fresh skins while still maintaining the integrity of the game’s skill requirements. Players can find more details about these changes and more on the Hyper Universe blog here.

Also launching along with the game is the biggest Hyper content update yet, refueling the Universe with exciting new interactions and team compositions. With the addition of six new Hypers, one for each class, players will get to test their skills with Tae’guk, Sonya, Perseus, Han, Camilla and Gulunba, and find themselves in a heated brawl as one of 41 unique Hypers total.

Continue here to read the full story.

DRAGON BALL FighterZ Pre-purchases

Steam now offers pre-purchases of DRAGON BALL FighterZ, the Windows edition of the upcoming Dragon Ball brawler. Here's a few quick hits to explain what this involves:

DRAGON BALL FighterZ is born from what makes the DRAGON BALL series so loved and famous: endless spectacular fights with its all-powerful fighters.

Partnering with Arc System Works, DRAGON BALL FighterZ maximizes high end Anime graphics and brings easy to learn but difficult to master fighting gameplay.

High-end Anime Graphics
Using the power of the Unreal engine and the talented team at Arc System Works, DRAGON BALL FighterZ is a visual tour-de-force.

3vs3 Tag/Support
Build your dream team and sharpen your skills to master high-speed tag combinations.

Thrilling Online Features
Ranked matches, interactive lobby, crazy 6-player Party Match... There is something for every taste!

Exclusive Story Mode
Discover a never-seen-before scenario featuring Android 21, a brand new character whose creation was supervised by Akira Toriyama himself.

Spectacular Fights
Experience aerial combos, destructible stages and famous scenes from the DRAGON BALL anime in 60FPS and 1080p resolution!

Morning Patches

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Thanks Neutronbeam for the link to the BeefBot on Hackaday, which outlines the operation of an experimental "robotic grill master." This likely does not represent the future of Manstovia, since tending to the food on the grill is part of what I enjoy about the process. This is also probably way too modern for a setup where we're yet to upgrade to propane, much less robots. Then there's the fact that this is a long run for a short bus ride, as it takes ten minutes or less to cook a steak to medium rare. But it certainly is a fascinating concept.

R.I.P.: Thomas Monson, President of the Mormon Church, Dies at 90.

Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Paintball Wars.
Gods of Arena 2.
Stories: Peru Pasamayo: Dozens killed as coach plunges off cliff. Unbelievably, there are survivors.
McDonald's tests Archburger after '90s flop.
Bills fans' donate more than $170,000 to Bengals QB's foundation. Thanks Cutter.
Science: First Blue Moon Total Lunar Eclipse in 150 Years Coming This Month.
Study suggests 'sugar coma' is real -- glucose ingestion leads to worse cognitive performance.
These subtle cues are what make sick people look sick.
Media: LUKE SKYWALKER vs. KYLO REN 16 Bit.
GREASE AND SCAMS! Job Simulator- Mechanic - HTC VIVE VR (React- Gaming).
The Link Between Japanese Samurai and Real Indigo.
This video of a corgi doing a 'trust fall' may be the key to happiness.
The Funnies: Dilbert.

Tuesday, Jan 02, 2018

ESA Takes on WHO Over "Gaming Disorder"

GamesIndustry has a response from the Entertainment Software Association to reports that the World Health Organization is considering classifying videogame addiction as a recognized issue called "gaming disorder." They have not made such a diagnosis official, but they have a response from the Entertainment Software Association asking the WHO just who do they think they are suggesting such a thing. Here's word from the ESA, a gaming trade organization that probably doesn't qualify as impartial:

"Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time. Having captivated gamers for more than four decades, more than 2 billion people around the world enjoy video games. The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community. We strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action."

Overwatch 2018 Roadmap

A developer update video for Overwatch features Jeff Kaplan looking back at Overwatch in 2017 and ahead to what 2018 holds for Blizzard's multiplayer shooter. He talks about how fired up they are for some of the new stuff coming this year, including short term goals like the release of Overwatch league skins, the start of the Overwatch league itself, and the imminent release of the BlizzardWorld map. He also intentionally gets "vague about some of this" when he looks further down the road, saying they are "well along the path to hero 27" who is "going to be awesome" and "very needed." They don't know when to expect the next hero's release though, as they are emphasizing getting it right over expedience. He says they have ideas for heroes beyond hero 27, but doesn't elaborate, and mentions "great new maps" on the way. He also describes plans on improving competitive play, discussing the removal of personal performance adjustments for higher level players in the short term. Longer-term goals for evolving competitive play are likewise touched upon, but he says some of that is "still to be determined." Presenting more of the game's story, new seasonal events like the next Lunar New Year, and a new iteration of the uprising event are also all in the cards. He caps things off with a promise that more non-seasonal skins are coming for regular loot boxes, and by wishing everyone a happy new year. Continue here to read the full story.

Blaze on Heroes of the Storm PTR

A new patch is now live on the Public Test Realm for Heroes of the Storm, offering the chance to test the latest changes before they go live in Blizzard's MOBA. There are two main focuses to this update, which has the promised addition of Blaze the Firebat from the StarCraft universe as well as a rework of Malfurion. This post has the complete PTR patch notes, and you can get a look at Blaze in this spotlight video and a new in development video that also shows off new skins, sprays, and emotes. Word is: "We hope you like your victories extra crispy, because Blaze is fueling up to bring pyromania to the Nexus, and every enemy in his path is about to feel the heat! Catch a sneak peek of our newest Warrior Hero, and check out the new skins, sprays, and other cosmetic items coming soon to Heroes of the Storm!" Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Op Ed

Ars Technica - Is gaming addiction a “disorder” or a “junk diagnosis?”
"Similar concerns led a group of 28 experts in the field, including Ferguson, to write an open letter to the WHO in 2016 urging them not to let a 'moral panic [surrounding] the harm of video gaming' lead to "the treatment of abundant false-positive cases." Citing the low quality of current research and lack of consensus on symptoms, the group worried that listing the disorder would "cause significant stigma to the millions of children and adolescents who play video games as part of a normal, healthy life."

On the other side, a group of researchers led by Nottingham Trent University's Mark Griffiths recently noted that even critics of a clinical listing for gaming disorder note that 'some gamers do experience serious problems as a consequence of the time spent playing video games.' If that's the case, they argue, 'how can such an activity be seriously problematic yet not disordered?'"

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Need for Speed Payback Free Roam Mode Coming

A tweet from Need for Speed reveals an online free-roam mode is coming this year to Need for Speed Payback (thanks MP1ST). Here's the brief announcement:

Online Free Roam coming 2018, Happy New Year from everyone at Need for Speed!

Sumo Grapples with CCP Newcastle

Sumo Digital announces the acquisition of CCP Games' Newcastle studio, or as they put it, they have "taken on" the EVE Valkyrie developer. That makes it sound like they've adopted a stray cat, which may be apt, as CCP recently announced that they were laying off employees at both their Newcastle and Atlanta studios. Here's the news:

Sumo Digital, part of the Sumo Group plc (AIM: SUMO) a leading independent game developer, today announced that it has taken on CCP Games’ Newcastle studio.

34 staff have transferred to Sumo Digital, with Owen O’Brien as Studio Director, and remain in Newcastle. As the fourth studio for the developer – the third in the UK alongside Sheffield and Nottingham – this addition further extends Sumo’s capacity and breadth of experience.

Paul Porter, Managing Director of Sumo Digital said, “As we continue to expand this was a great opportunity to bring an experienced, talented and tight-knit team on board.”

”Sumo Digital is a great home for the team in Newcastle,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games. “As we say goodbye to our former colleagues we know that they will do great things there, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Sumo is hiring across its four studios in Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle and Pune, India. Current vacancies can be found here: Sumo Digital Careers

Overwatch Season 8 Begins

The Overwatch website announces that competitive season 8 is now underway in Overwatch, so brace for incoming QQ posts over lost rank in the multiplayer shooter. Ironically they are removing personal performance Skill Rating adjustments for Diamond-tier players and above from Overwatch just as they are adding them into Heroes of the Storm, citing the complaints of HotS players in explaining the change. Here's word on how they've tweaked competitive progression based on player feedback:

Over the last few months, we've been listening to your feedback and working behind the scenes to make this season of Competitive Play better than ever. So, before you dive into your placement matches, let’s talk about what's new for Season 8.

SKILL RATING ADJUSTMENT UPDATES

  • The maximum Skill Rating difference between the highest and the lowest skill rated player on the same team has been reduced. The ranges have been changed to the following:
    • 1000 SR for Bronze through Diamond
    • 500 SR for Master
    • 250 SR for Grandmaster
  • This change should help players at both the lower and higher limits of Skill Rating get placed with allies and against opponents of a similar skill level, which in turn should lead to more satisfying games overall.

PERSONAL PERFORMANCE ADJUSTMENT UPDATES

  • Personal performance Skill Rating adjustments for Diamond-tier players and above have been removed. Previously, Skill Rating gained or lost in these tiers was calculated in part by how well you performed during a match. We hope this will help players focus more on winning matches rather than on their individual performance. To learn more about this change, click here.

Season 8 is live RIGHT NOW on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, so power up your favorite gaming machine and join the fight. We’ll see you on the battlefield!

Farmer's Dynasty Early Access

Farmer's Dynasty is now available in early access on Steam, offering an agrarian life simulation/RGP for Windows (disappointing those hoping for an RPG about grinding for Dynasty gear). This trip shows how this combines farming and dating, so whether you want to hop on your tractor or hop on your girlfriend, this one has you covered. Here's word:

FARMER’S DYNASTY – the unique REAL-LIFE SIMULATION offers a totally new farming simulation experience and mixes elements of a Life Simulation and Role-Playing with a classical Farming Simulation game.

Remember the good old days visiting your grandfathers farm? The time when you were sitting on your grandfathers tractor together with him driving around and working on your fields. You are back on your farm now. The past years have been full of work for you in the city but you still remember the good old times when you dreamt of being a farmer. This dream is still in your heart: Rebuilding grandfathers farm again and building your own Dynasty – let’s make it come true!

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • GeIL Super Luce RGB SYNC DDR4-3000 32GB Memory Kit on ThinkComputers.org.
  • MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon Motherboard on ocaholic.
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Founders Edition Graphics Card on Tech ARP.
  • Plextor M9Pe 512GB & 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD on TweakTown.

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well, so another year's in the books. Following my annual jokes on the Chinese and Jewish New Years, this morning I caught myself almost dating today 2017, so there's still an adjustment period to work through, for me at least. The regular season for tackle football ended with the old year, and hats off to Mr.Tact for winning our annual Pigskin Pick'em Pool by picking 172 winners (as usual, removing our hats is the only prize here beyond the all-important bragging rights). I ended in ninth place this year with 161 winners, just off the 163 total that won last year. On the more challenging, but less active point spread pool, WarPig went whole hog and won with 133 correct picks. I was a stronger contender in this one with 131, good for third place. So yes, I would have won the spread pool and possibly the straight pool too, if I simply picked against the Giants every week (the price of loyalty). But dwelling on the past, time to move on to the postseason. I've created a new Playoff Pool on PoolTracker with the same criteria as the past few years. The password is "carnage," and you can feel free to join and invite friends.

Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Tropic Adventure.
Link: 10 Fascinating Facts About Space Invaders.
Stories: 2018 starts with record cold in parts of the Midwest.
Report: 2017 was safest year for commercial airline passengers ever.
A 'monumental moment' for fully legal marijuana in California.
Science: Lab-made meat startup SuperMeat raises $3M seed to develop ‘clean’ chicken.
Images: Looking at my friends alias when I realize he sees me...
Media: One filmmaker's breathtaking 2017 in timelapse.
Anthony Mackie Explains Why Hollywood Movies Suck Now.
Mesmerizing videos of recreated astronomical events.



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