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Friday, Jan 11, 2019

  

Epic Games Store Updates Refund Policy

This tweet from Epic's former Steam Spy Sergey Galyonkin announces a change in the refund policy for the Epic Games Store. As noted by Polygon, the new policy is now the same as Steam's. Here's word:

We also changed our refund policy. Unlimited refunds within 14 days of purchase and under 2 hours played. The team is working on the self-service solution, but for now, you'll have to go through player support.

Lawsuit Alleges Secret $12M Randy Pitchford Bonus

Kotaku discovered lawsuits between Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford and Wade Callender, who served for several years as Gearbox Software's general counsel. Callender's suit centers around "accusing Pitchford of violating various contracts involving both Gearbox and a separate real estate company that they both owned, as well as Callender’s own employment contract." This came in response to Gearbox suing Callender a month earlier, alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. They accuse him of borrowing money he did not repay in full, and abusing "the privilege of credit card access by charging unapproved, wholly personal expenses, including family vacations, gun club memberships and firearms accessories, and trying to get six-pack abs." Word is Pitchford and Callender were once close friends, but that is probably over and done with, as included in Callender's filing is the accusation that Pitchford received an illicit $12 million bonus from Gearbox, that he at one point lost a USB stick in a Dallas restaurant with sensitive business documents (which has some basis in fact) and underage pornography (which is disputed), along with other sensational details. Pitchford tweets: "As the day progresses, I am discovering who my my [sic] friends are. Thank you for your love and support. I am just going to try to focus on my work and trust that truth and justice will prevail with the courts." This also inspired the following statement from Gearbox following the original publication of the article:

Gearbox will be filing a grievance with the State Bar of Texas against our former general counsel Wade for disciplinary proceedings for filing a lawsuit that includes accusations that he knows to be untrue. The lawyer’s rules of professional conduct expressly prohibit the filing of documents that are knowingly false. The tell is within Wade’s claim itself – his use of hedged lawyer language and clever application of quotation marks betray that he knows that the impression he is trying to create is based in lies. We imagine that he used the quotation marks and lawyer language in hopes that will give him some angles of defense when we inevitably take action against him for false statements. Wade is engaged in a shakedown and he’s clearly using deceit and lies to try to cause damage by promoting a narrative that he knows is false.

Verizon Testing Cloud Gaming Too

The Verge has word that Verizon also has their heads in the cloud, saying the telecom giant is already testing a cloud streaming service for Shield owners they plan on opening to Android phones as well. Here's a bit:

Verizon is currently conducting alpha testing of Verizon Gaming, a game streaming service that would represent a major new initiative for the home and mobile internet giant. The Verge can report that Verizon Gaming is already up and running on the Nvidia Shield set-top box and will, according to the company’s documentation, eventually make its way to Android smartphones. In either usage scenario, the service can be played using a paired Xbox One controller. Verizon has not publicly advertised Verizon Gaming or even really acknowledged its existence.

Verizon has quietly been recruiting players to take part in the test, which currently involves over 135 games. Participants are promised a $150 Amazon gift card upon completion. They’re given a free Nvidia Shield, Xbox One controller, and a login for the test.

The Verizon Gaming app comes pre-installed on the Shield device, and Verizon will also be distributing it to testers privately through Google Play later this month. This initial trial run is schedule to wrap up at the end of January, according to emails seen by The Verge.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Released

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is now available on Steam, offering the promised Windows release of this updated version of the Japanese RPG. This enhances the original version and adds some all-new content. Here's a trailer and here's word:

Leading video game developer and publisher BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. is excited to announce today that TALES OF VESPERIA™: Definitive Edition is now available for the Xbox One, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Nintendo Switch™ console, and PC via STEAM® for $49.99. TALES OF VESPERIA: Definitive Edition comes with updated HD graphics and new content that has never been released outside of Japan until today, including; new playable characters, story segments, music, and costumes.

TALES OF VESPERIA: Definitive Edition is an adventure that follows Yuri Lowell, a former Imperial Knight, as he travels around the world of Terca Lumireis looking for his neighbor’s blastia core. Along the way, Yuri gets pulled into a whirlwind of different exploits, meeting new characters and traveling to different locations, ultimately being dropped into the middle of an evil scheme that threatens the survival of the entire planet.

TALES OF VESPERIA: Definitive Edition features a specialized version of the TALES OF series’ Linear Motion Battle System for combat, where players control a party member in real-time combat while the rest of the party is controlled by A.I. commands. TALES OF VESPERIA: Definitive Edition also features two new playable characters; Patty Fleur, a young pirate searching for her lost memories, as well as Yuri’s rival and best friend, Flynn Scifo. Along with these new playable party members, TALES OF VESPERIA: Definitive Edition will include additional story scenarios, locations, and costumes that will be all-new for Western audiences.

Continue here to read the full story.

Second Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 Preorder Beta Next Week

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 is on track for its planned release on January 24th, and the second preorder beta for the space-based real-time strategy game will get underway on January 15th, and will continue right up until the launch. Publisher Focus Home Interactive and developer Tindalos Interactive urge those interested to consider preordering to get in on the action. They offer a new campaign trailer to show off gameplay, and make the case as follows:

Stunning space RTS sequel Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 launches January 24, 2019, bringing all the chaos and destruction of Warhammer 40,000 fleet battles to PC. On top of skirmish and multiplayer, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 comes with three full grand campaigns letting you control humanity’s combined Imperial forces, the ancient re-awakening Necron empire, or the ravenous extra-galactic horde of the Tyranid Hive Fleets. Our new campaign trailer breaks down every facet of the 100+ hours that can easily be spent in Armada 2’s single-player offerings. Every campaign is also playable in co-op, with two players controlling a split fleet in each battle.

Also announced today is the second pre-order beta, running January 15 up until launch. This will be your first chance to go hands-on with the campaigns as the first sectors of the Imperial and Necron storylines will be available to play. This second beta will also feature all the multiplayer and skirmish options, including the 12 playable factions, the 80+ subfactions, ranked play, custom map options with special environmental effects from the first beta, updated with brand new balance adjustments and bug fixes.

Continue here to read the full story.

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS Trailer

A new video for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS is "A Hero's Journey Trailer" for Zhuge Liang, a historical figure at the center of this next installment in Creative Assembly's strategy series. Here's word:

Legendary hero Zhuge Liang wanders ancient China searching for a worthy master in the latest Total War: THREE KINGDOMS cinematic. A stunning showcase of the varied land your dynasty could stretch across.

This realm of breath-taking natural beauty lies fractured, torn asunder by power-hungry warlords each vying for control of China's future. Lush subtropics, iconic mountains drenched in mist, and tranquil golden rivers serve as the backdrop for the bloodiest period in ancient Chinese history.

Zhuge Liang, an incredibly talented strategist, is willing only to serve an honourable master. In this age of boundless greed, hope of finding someone worthy seems lost. Until he meets the kind and virtuous man of the people, Liu Bei. Together, they will fight to bring peace to China and restore harmony to its embattled landscape.

Will you be worthy enough for Zhuge Liang to join your cause?

The next historical title in the Total War™ strategy series will launch March 7th, 2019.

Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

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etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Eating Something Spicy. Thanks Ant.

Get Blast Zone! Tournament for Free

Victory Lap Games announces the giveaway on Steam of free copies of Blast Zone! Tournament, their bomb-throwing, battle royale arena game. This bombshell celebrates the news that the game is now feature complete and on track to graduate from Early Access on February 28th. The freebie is a time-limited offer which will expire on January 16th. Here's a new gameplay trailer and here are more details:

To celebrate the upcoming launch Valve Corporation in cooperation with Victory Lap Games, a team of AAA veterans who held leadership positions on Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man, Descent and Red Faction, is offering Blast Zone! Tournament free on Steam from today until Jan. 16.

Blast Zone! Tournament expands on the frantic fun of Blast Zone!, which has been enjoyed by more than 1,000,000 players, with 32-player multiplayer enhanced by PlayStation 4 to PC and Xbox One to PC cross play, 283 multiplayer maps, a story-driven single player campaign with 240 challenges, more than 10 billion cosmetic combinations and social features, all delivered in 4K HD at 60 FPS on PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X.

Hop quickly into online matchmaking for 32-player battle royale, team knockout, or free-for-all matches in a fast-paced, desperate scurry to blow each other into oblivion. Create custom games and compete solo or on teams to collect coins, protect your king, survive a zombie apocalypse or score the most kills. Work your way up the leaderboards each season in a gameplay experience that’s classic at its core but refined for a modern era.

Continue here to read the full story.

BOMBFEST This Month

If the bomb-tossing news above is not enough, Sudden Event Studios and Whitethorn Digital announce BOMBFEST will be released on Steam on January 31st, offering a pick-up and play party game centered around everyone's favorite party favors, high explosives. This trailer shows off the game, and you can read on for more:

Battle with bombs and try to be the last player standing in BOMBFEST, a local multiplayer game for you and up to three friends. Whoever's left standing at the end of each round earns the most points, and the player with the most points at the end wins. Duke it out in wooden forts, on folding chairs, and inside the kitchen sink as you attempt to eliminate your foes -- but don't get caught in a chain reaction of explosions!

BOMBFEST features 2-button controls and simple mechanics that are quick to learn and fun to master. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert gamer or a party game novice - anyone can pick-up and play!

Featuring:

  • 4-player, local-multiplayer for friendly battles or settling grudges
  • 10 unique bombs for blowing away the competition
  • 12 hand-crafted stages for you to duke it out on
  • Plenty of options and modifiers to customize your experience
  • Unlock new bombs, stages, characters, and more as you play
  • Free content updates after launch are in our plans as well! Including new bombs, stages, characters, and accessories to unlock

Continue here to read the full story.

Unity, Improbable, and Epic Games Spat

A blog post from Improbable discusses heat they are getting from Unity over a terms of service violation that they interpret as saying "all existing SpatialOS games using Unity, including production games and in development games of all developers, are now in breach of Unity’s license terms." Gamasutra has more on this, saying "That means the company will no longer be able to fully support Unity developers, some of whom have been forced to shut down the servers for their SpatialOS projects." A post on the Unity Blog responds by saying Improbable's take on this is incorrect, and that developers should keep working on their SpatialOS games. According to them, this is not a problem that popped up out of nowhere: "More than a year ago, we told Improbable in person that they were in violation of our Terms of Service or EULA. Six months ago, we informed Improbable about the violation in writing. Recent actions did not come as a surprise to Improbable; in fact, they’ve known about this for many months." Calling this "Unity's public relations (and dev relations) blunder," Gamasutra has a follow-up reporting that Epic Games is wasting no time in taking advantage of this by establishing a fund to help developers move away from Unity and towards the Unreal engine and the Epic Games Store:

Epic Games, purveyor of Unreal Engine and the biggest competitor to Unity, said Thursday night that it has partnered with Improbable to establish a $25 million fund to "assist developers who are left in limbo by the new engine and service incompatibilities that were introduced today."

In essence, that means Epic is offering to help pay for game developers to move away from its competitor Unity -- a calculated move that seeks to capitalize on Unity's public relations (and dev relations) blunder.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney and Improbable CEO Herman Narula wrote that the fund is "to help developers transition to more open engines, services, and ecosystems. This funding will come from a variety of sources including Unreal Dev Grants, Improbable developer assistance funds, and Epic Games store funding."

New AMD Drivers

AMD Drivers and Support now offers new version 19.1.1 Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition reference drivers for AMD graphics cards running under Windows. The release notes explain these offer Fortnite performance improvements along with a host of bug fixes. Here's word:

Support For

  • Fortnite™
    • Up to 4% faster performance in Fortnite (Season 7) using Radeon™ Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.1.1 on the Radeon™ RX 580 graphics card than with Radeon™ Software Adrenalin Edition 18.12.3 at 1920x1080 (1080p). RS-282
    • Up to 3% faster performance in Fortnite (Season 7) using Radeon™ Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.1.1 on the Radeon™ RX Vega 64 graphics card than with Radeon™ Software Adrenalin Edition 18.12.3 at 1920x1080 (1080p). RS-283

Fixed Issues

  • Virtual Super Resolution may not show up as available on some 1440p Ultra-Wide Displays.
  • Some Radeon RX Series graphics products may experience system lag when Alt+Tab is used during gameplay.
  • Radeon Settings Advisor may incorrectly suggest older versions of Radeon Software as an update.
  • Radeon Settings software update notifications may appear more often than expected.
  • Application profile settings for Radeon WattMan may not reset to default correctly when using the reset button.
  • Radeon Settings may experience a crash when clicking the restart button after a driver installation or while switching between some Radeon WattMan tabs when changing fan settings.
  • Zero RPM control may fail to enable correctly when toggled on/off in Radeon Settings.
  • Radeon ReLive gallery upload queue may sometimes fail to upload videos.
  • Radeon Settings may sometimes incorrectly display the previously installed Radeon Software version after upgrade.
  • Custom color profile options may fail to retain in game on clone or Eyefinity display setups.
  • Performance metrics overlay feature may scale incorrectly when changing resolution in game.
  • Screen tearing may be observed with Enhanced Sync enabled on Vulkan API games.
  • Some systems running multiple displays may experience mouse lag when at least one display is enabled but powered off.
  • Upgrade Advisor may intermittently fail to detect games and provide compatibility recommendations.

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Out of the Blue

Happy birthday to Ant, one of this site's dear long-time friends and contributors. Ant has submitted more links over the years than a Zelda convention, and has had a strong positive influence on the coverage here. Hats off to you Ant, have a great birthday. Here's hoping there are no ants in the cake!

Birthday Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: Coca-Cola influences China’s obesity policy, BMJ report says.
Science: Exactly How Far You Need to Stand from Someone Sick to Avoid Getting the Flu.
American Psychological Association links 'masculinity ideology' to homophobia, misogyny. Thanks Max.
Media: Trevor Moore - "My Computer Just Became Self Aware." NSFW.
Beatboxing Cat. Now we need a collaboration with Keyboard Cat.
Hilarious footage shows two teenagers completely baffled by a rotary telephone when given four minutes to make one call. Thanks ViperFour.
Follow-up: Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds.
Police investigate theft from Aretha Franklin's estate.
The Funnies: Savage Chickens.



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