Archived News:

Thursday, Dec 27, 2018

Game Developers Union Gaining Momentum?

Gamasutra reports Eugen System fired six employees today, claiming the move is unrelated to a pay dispute that stretches back to February when developers working on Steel Division II briefly went on strike. They say the Video Game Workers Union of France (STJV) calls the move an "act of retaliation." That setback aside, Polygon talks about progress being made by Game Workers Unite a grassroots labor organization that was recently declared a legal trade union in the United Kingdom. Word is this union seems to be gaining a foothold in both Europe and North America. Here's a bit:
Prior to the Game Developers Conference there were perhaps 200 members of Game Workers Unite around the world. Now Kinema, who uses a pseudonym to protect her identity online, said the organization has grown to more than 800 active members with at least 17 chapters in North America alone. That includes chapters in nearly every major geographical hub for game developers on the continent, with cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, North Carolina, Ottawa, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver all represented.

The influx of new members has come at a time when labor practices in the game industry are under intense scrutiny, following mass layoffs at Telltale Games and accounts of overwork and abuse at Rockstar Games during the production of Red Dead Redemption 2.

2018 Steam Charts

The Steam Blog takes a look back at this past year with some "best of 2018" lists, covering the Top Selling Games, Top Selling New Releases, Top Selling VR Titles, Top Early Access Grads, and one last one that doesn't reward sales, Most Played Games of 2018. They note that many of the games on these lists are discounted in their Steam Winter Sale, and explain the tier system that replaces the revenue figures they are declining to disclose. Here is the list of platinum (top 12) bestselling games by gross revenue for the year in no particular order:

  • PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Far Cry 5
  • Rocket League
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Dota 2
  • Warframe
  • Civilization VI
  • The Elder Scrolls Online

Tim Sweeney on the Epic Games Store

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney took to Reddit to address some questions and criticisms of Epic's new games store (thanks Hypothermia). He describes their approach as "very pro-competitive," saying it's up to us to decide what's anti-consumer. He also firmly states that "Epic does not share user data with Tencent or any other company." He makes several interesting points along the way. Perhaps most intriguing is word that discussions are underway to address the issue of needing multiple launchers for all these game services:
The proliferation of launchers is an annoying side effect of this, but the problem could eventually be solved through federated or decentralized software update tools. There are ongoing conversations about this.

But multiple stores are necessary for the health of an ecosystem. When there’s only one, their natural tendency is to siphon off more and more of the revenue, which then go to monopoly profits rather than CREATORS!

CliffyB: The Musical

A Cliff Bleszinski tweet drops the other shoe on his recent tease of new career news that is "not game related at all." Now the former Bosskey and Epic Games designer pays off on that with the announcement that he's headed for the great white way as a co-producer on HADESTOWN, a new Broadway Musical. The HADESTOWN Website has details on the play, which will be entering previews on March 22nd. Break a leg Cliff! Here's the tweet:
NEWS!

I'm officially co-producing this show.

That's my next gig!

(Crazy, eh?!)

It's on Spotify, give it a go. It's fantastic!

Denuvo Hates Your PC (Now Proven by Science)

Many gamers have long complained about the use of Denuvo in games, saying the DRM software's anti-piracy check harm performance and can cause other issues. Now Ars Technica points the way to a new video from Overlord Gaming supporting this theory. This is because as games remove the software after release it provides the chance to gauge performance both with and without Denuvo in place. One could argue that improvements in this area might be due to other optimization besides the removal of Denuvo, but the results are pretty consistent across multiple games. Here's a bit on what they've uncovered:
This week, in its third video on the topic, YouTube channel Overlord Gaming confirmed an additional six examples of improvements once Denuvo was patched out of recent games. The differences in performance range from marginal to noticeable. Yet in all cases, Overlord confirms a general trend of Denuvo impact in two key categories: loading times, and sporadic-yet-severe spikes in "frame time."

The latter issue emerges when a system struggles to render the next frame of animation in a video game, resulting in a pause far greater than the 16.67-millisecond standard found in "60 frames per second" action. Overlord Gaming once again found frame time spikes in the 100-, 200-, and even 400-millisecond ranges in every tested game that had Denuvo enabled. These rare-but-severe dips subsequently went away in each game's post-Denuvo version.

All six tested games included loading times that were anywhere between 50-80 percent longer with Denuvo enabled. Overlord's tests made sure to reload and retest both pre- and post-Denuvo versions a few times, to see how leaving any information or assets in a system's RAM might affect subsequent reboots, and to confirm that post-Denuvo versions weren't unfairly benefiting from game elements remaining in the testing system.
Continue here to read the full story.

MINImax Tinyverse Early Access

MINImax Tinyverse is now available on Steam, offering what developer O’ol Blue calls a "real-time tower-rush god-game" for Windows. This trailer shows off what such a thing looks like, and if you are interested, its free-to-play pricing scheme provides a low barrier to entry. The MINImax Website has all you need to know about this, and a proper summary can be found below:
MINImax Tinyverse is a F2P real-time 3D strategy-brawling god game in which two realms of tiny beings try to conquer their rival’s towers. Protect your favourite realm –Aillai or Creaea– as you control the environment, summon miracles, and lead your team to victory.

Before entering the battle, you can select one specialist among a total of 4 fighters, assemble troopers from 11 different options, and choose up to 6 different miracles from a total of 22.

Features

  • Enjoy the thrill of 1v1 fast-paced strategic battles.
  • Play with charming characters, such as Ortto, Aidel, Tuppi, Shainen on the Aillai side; Murrakah, Kaya, Nia, Fainuke on the Creaea side.
  • Pick up and drop your Champions to protect them from danger or to unleash their skills over the enemies.
  • Zoom in the camera to watch them closer while displaying their prowess in an incredible map of Ortto’s territory.
  • Tank, damage, heal, siege, scout, hide, snipe, assassinate, blast, slice, pierce and more, with 11 different troopers you can select and combine to create the best deck settings!
  • Block, bind, gather, freeze, burn, pollute, heal, purify, slow down, speed up, scare away, super punch and much more, 24 mighty miracles of MINImax Tinyverse to grant victory to your realm.
  • Attempt to destroy the defending towers, but beware, they are not going to fall easily!
  • Learn the unlimited possibilities, cool upcoming new features currently in development that we are preparing to unleash on MINImax Tinyverse.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

  • Bless The Demon Puppets by Qmax Inc. — Kickstarter. "'Bless the Demon Puppets' is a ’hardgore' battle royale game. We are currently developing it as a PC game and plan to sell it via Steam. 30 participants become hideous beings. They must kill and eat each other; washing blood with blood in an epic struggle. The goal is to be the last survivor. Our ambition is to create a unique game in the battle royale genre. We promise to include features that stir up feelings of euphoria and dread."

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • Dell G7 15 (7588) Gaming Laptop on Tech ARP.
  • iStorage diskAshur PRO2 512GB USB 3.1 PIN Authenticated Portable SSD on Nikk Tech.

Out of the Blue

With Christmas in the rearview we have a few days left to bid a fond good riddance to 2018. This tends to be a quiet time, but not around the BlueTower, as we're tending Jedi the Jindo for a few days. He remains quite the character, and a very active little dog, but he is growing up and settling down a bit, which makes having him here a little easier. Of course as I was typing that, MrsBlue chased him up into my office and closed the door behind her, so he's still a little shot out of a cannon, but at least these days it's a smaller caliber cannon.

Small Caliber Links: Thanks Ant.
Links: Tuba turned into a bathroom sink and tenor horns repurposed as urinals.
Stories: US man finishes solo race across Antarctica.
Matt Patricia Is Always Late. The anti-Coughlin.
Holmes & Watson: Will Ferrell and John C Reilly comedy is prompting cinema walkouts.
Science: Alcohol, coffee could be key to living longer, UC Irvine study finds. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Supermoon lunar eclipse 2019: A blood moon wolf moon is on its way.
Media: "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" Ride Clip.
Pilot Lands On Highway To Take A Pee Break.
How a Hacker Convinced Motorola to Send Him Source Code.
Follow-up: Broward county officials change shooting-response policy.
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