Archived News:

Saturday, Oct 12, 2019

Blizzard Addresses blitzchung Controversy; Reduces Penalties

Blizzard has broken their silence about their recent decision to strip Hearthstone Grandmasters winner blitzchung of his prize money and ban him from the game after he voiced support for Hong Kong protesters in the aftermath of the tournament. This caused a very considerable backlash, which may be why they took so long considering it before responding (though addressing controversial topics late on Friday is also a time-honored tradition). The post is by President of Blizzard Entertainment J. Allen Brack, who states the violation of their rules spurred their action, and not the specific stance it took, saying, "I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision," and, "If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same." But he also admits to a misstep in acting so hastily, and, while noting that "for some this is not about the prize," he says Blizzard has decided to restore blitzchung's winnings. They have also cut his one-year ban in half, and say they've reduced the suspensions of the shoutcasters involved to six months as well. Here's the statement on Blizzard News:
Hello Blizzard Community . . .

I want to take a few minutes to talk to all of you about the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament this past weekend. On Monday, we made the decision to take action against a player named blitzchung and two shoutcasters after the player shared his views on what’s happening in Hong Kong on our official broadcast channel.

At Blizzard, our vision is “to bring the world together through epic entertainment.” And we have core values that apply here: Think Globally; Lead Responsibly; and importantly, Every Voice Matters, encouraging everybody to share their point of view. The actions that we took over the weekend are causing people to question if we are still committed to these values. We absolutely are and I will explain.

Our esports programs are an expression of our vision and our values. Esports exist to create opportunities for players from around the world, from different cultures, and from different backgrounds, to come together to compete and share their passion for gaming. It is extremely important to us to protect these channels and the purpose they serve: to bring the world together through epic entertainment, celebrate our players, and build diverse and inclusive communities.

As to how those values apply in this case:
Continue here to read the full story.

PAYDAY 3 in 2022/2023

A new post from Starbreeze follows up on the Swedish developer/publisher's well-publicized financial woes with a look at their future cash-flow prospects (thanks Eurogamer). Given recent history this is surprisingly optimistic, offering a hockey stick graph showing an upcoming influx of capital. They say they've restructured into two new companies, and project they will continue developing PAYDAY 3 next year and that the heist game sequel should come out sometime in 2022-2023:
The cash flows in the graph above are based on the following expected events:

  • Release of PAYDAY 3 estimated to take place in 2022–2023
  • Publishing agreement for PAYDAY 3 concluded* during the first half of 2020 and an initial payment instalment is received, after which the continued development of the product is financed by the publishing partner
  • Publishing agreement for PAYDAY: Crime War concluded* during the first half of 2020 and an initial payment instalment is received, after which the continued development of the product is financed by the publishing partner

* In conjunction with the signing of these publishing agreements, the possibility of payment to the creditors is created in the ongoing reconstruction work. The payment to the creditors is estimated to be able to amount to approximately SEK 40 million.

NVIDIA Launching RTX Game Remastering Program

A job listing from NVIDIA spotted by DSOGaming indicates the company is embarking on a program to supply more games to support their ray tracing video cards by remastering old titles, the way they did with Quake II RTX. Here's what they say about the plan:
NVIDIA is kicking off an exciting new game remastering program. We’re cherry-picking some of the greatest titles from the past decades and bringing them into the ray tracing age, giving them state-of-the-art visuals while keeping the gameplay that made them great. The NVIDIA Lightspeed Studios team is picking up the challenge starting with a title that you know and love but we can’t talk about here! We’re building a team of talented, dedicated game developers who are ready to get going quickly.

Layoffs at Daybreak

The sun is setting for some at Daybreak Games, as Gamasutra reports layoffs at the developer as part of a company "realignment." This was initially an unconfirmed report, but they received the following official statement on the topic from the San Diego-based company:
"We are taking steps to improve our business and to support our long-term vision for the existing franchises and development of new games. This will include a realignment of the company into separate franchise teams, which will allow us to highlight their expertise, better showcase the games they work on, and ultimately provide tailored experiences for our players. Unfortunately, some employees were impacted by this effort, and we’re doing what we can to support them during this challenging time."

Pine Sprouts

Pine is now available for Windows, macOS, and Linux on GOG.com, Kartridge, and Steam, offering an "open-world action adventure game set in a simulated world in which humans never reached the top of the food chain" (thanks JDreyer). A brief look at the game's environments and some gameplay can be found in the Official PC Launch Trailer. Here's word on this chance to eat or be eaten:
A Story of Humans
Pine is an open world action adventure simulation game. Set in the beautiful world of Albamare, you take on the role of Hue, a smart young adult who will have to explore, trade, and fight his way through a vibrant world filled with creatures much smarter than humans.

Their Story Becomes Yours
As you're looking for a new home for your tribe to settle in, you'll have to engage with the large-scale ecology of Albamare. Prepare by exploring, bartering, talking, crafting and fighting in six different biomes, with and against a diverse cast of species that will not simply help you.

A Struggle for Survival
In Pine, things will happen across the open game world even without your involvement. All organisms are alive and will try what they can to survive. You can choose to befriend a species, fight alongside them, or you may also to attack them, steal their food or force them to abandon their current habitat. All of this will make the species move across the ecological spectrum.
Continue here to read the full story.

Killer Queen Black Released

"She keeps her Moet et Chandon in a pretty cabinet, laid spread out before me as her body once did." Killer Queen Black is now available on Steam, offering a Windows and macOS game Liquid Bit calls the "ultimate arcade eSport." A previously released release date trailer offers a look at the game and some cinematics. Here's more on this chance to bee victorious:
Meet Thy Family
Battle for the hive in two teams of four — one Queen, and three Workers.

But what’s a Queen without her loyal subjects?
Workers excel in adaptability, making them essential for game-winning objectives. While initially defenseless, by grabbing a berry and taking it to the gates, Workers can boost their speed, become Soldiers, wielding maces, swords, shields, and laser rifles, or even do both and transform into deadly-quick aggressors. Choose whichever form helps the team pursue one of three different types of victories.

Three Paths to Victory
In Killer Queen Black, a team can win a game in three different ways.

  • Economic victory: Economic Victories task Workers with collecting berries on the battlefield and bringing them back to their home base.
  • Military victory: Slay the opposing team’s Queen three times with either a Queen or a Soldier to earn a Military Victory.
  • Snail victory: One snail waits in the middle of each map. Slowly ride it back to base and secure a Snail Victory.

Continue here to read the full story.

Shadowplay: Metropolis Foe Announced

Publisher Zodiac Interactive and developer Crossingstar Studio announce Shadowplay: Metropolis Foe, a CCG coming next year to Steam. They say they will be showing this off next week at EGX 2019. In the meantime, they offer a Reveal Trailer and the following details:
Shadowplay: Metropolis Foe is a card game with a difference; take on the role of a band of lawless rebels in a strange, gargantuan cyberpunk city where battles and adventure lie in wait around every corner! The seedy underworld of Starcity plays host to dozens of informants: find them, take on the missions they give you, and bring the city under your control!

The story features more than 10 characters, each with distinct personalities and unique decks. Take companions with you to confront challenges ranging from robot guards to labyrinths of the mind! Want to storm the CEO's offices to the accompaniment of explosions, or sneak past guards and take out your opponents with a well-honed slash of your sword? The decision is yours!

Exploring Starcity will open the game world full of unique opportunities, with each step along the way bringing about changes to your deck. No matter whether it's wounds from the battlefield, psychological suffering, allies' assistance or a gang's hit list, they may all become cards in your deck, giving your battles a whole-new level of unpredictability. Each choice you make has a chance of showing up as a card, bringing victory to you-or to your opponent.
Continue here to read the full story.

Hardware Reviews

  • EnGenius Neutron EWS377AP Wi-Fi 6 Managed Indoor Access Point on TweakTown.
  • Patriot P200 512GB SSD on APH Networks.

Out of the Blue

Today is the International Day Against DRM, an occasion that seems to need a better publicist, as today's date goes unmentioned in the Wikipedia article on the topic. As one might expect, GOG.com is all-in on this, offering the following post on the topic: Join us in support of the International Day Against DRM.

Obituary: R.I.P. Robert Forster. Just as El Camino is released.
Obituary: Alexei Leonov, first human to walk in space, dies aged 85.

Digital Link Management: Thanks Ant.
Links: Celebrate Day Against DRM with a dustjacket that demands the right to read.
Seiko makes limited number of Godzilla watches for 65th anniversary. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Stories: Bryan Cranston Remembers Breaking Bad Co-Star Robert Forster.
Would-be robber grabs phone, rejects it, returns it, D.C. police say. Thanks Puttwhacker.
Why some dog owners skip spaying or neutering over health concerns. Never "fixed" the Gunnar-man (he wasn't broken).
Science: When You Should Watch This Weekend’s ‘Tiny Hunter’s Moon’ Rise And Set In A Blaze Of Fall Color.
Unlocking a 140-year-old secret in physics. Thanks Neutronbeam.
New Audubon Science: Two-Thirds of North American Birds at Risk of Extinction Due to Climate Change. Thanks Acleacius.
Media: Overwatch vs. TF2 [SFM].
Super Mario Bros. (Tap Dance Medley) - Postmodern Jukebox (ft. Demi Remick). Try not to smile.
These Giant Leaf Insects Will Sway Your Heart - Deep Look.
Follow-up: Safety Experts Slam Boeing And FAA For Design And Approval Of 737 Max Jets. Thanks RedEye9.
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