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Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 Abraham Lincoln's & Charles Darwin's Birthdays

Star Control: Origins Earth Rising - Part 4 Announced

Stardock announces Earth Rises, the upcoming concluding segment of Earth Rising, their four-part expansion for Star Control: Origins. The expansion is offered through Steam, where the first three parts are already available, and they say part four is coming "soon." This trailer shows off Earth Rises, and says it is now available, though this does not actually seem to be the case. Here's word on what this will offer when it is actually released:
Stardock announced the final installment of its 4-part expansion to Star Control®: Origins™ today. Earth Rising - Part 4: Earth Rises introduces players to exciting new adventures, including bar fights at Kapteyn's Bar, the reluctant return of a God, a search for a missing Commander, and more.

Star Control: Origins is set in the late 21st century. The player is the Captain of Earth's first interstellar starship with the mission to explore the galaxy, find allies to help protect Earth from hostile aliens, and find the resources necessary to help Earth expand to the stars.

Earth Rises is the final part in a four-part expansion pack called Earth Rising. The expansion adds a host of new aliens, ships, adventures and destinations to the already rich universe introduced in Star Control: Origins. Because Star Control is a non-linear action/RPG game, the new content does not require the player to have already completed the main story arc from the base game.
Continue here to read the full story.

Veritas Released

Glitch Games now offers Veritas, a new adventure/puzzle game for Windows, macOS, and mobile. The PC editions are available on Steam, where there is also a playable demo which is updated since the beta version released last year. A new Release Trailer shows off the game's Myst-inspired gameplay, and the announcement has the details:
Having signed on the dotted line of the mysterious Veritas Industries, you find yourself waking up in a small cell with no memory of what happened the day before. Equipped with only the Glitch Camera, you must uncover the truth of who you are, and what you've done. Scribble notes onto your snaps and use them freely at any time to help solve the strange puzzles that stand in your way.

Creators of the hugely popular adventure mystery series Forever Lost, developer Glitch Games has designed Veritas as a spiritual successor designed to delight past Glitch Games players, as well as introduce the genre to new gamers looking for a new take on the adventure genre.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Adventures of 00 Dilly Released

The Adventures of 00 Dilly is now available, offering an action/puzzle game for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The PC edition is offered on Steam, and this video shows off gameplay, which puts you in the unenviable position of a crash-test dummy. Here's the dilly-o:
The Adventures of 00 Dilly is a fun family game that catapults players through lovingly crafted levels filled with fantastically funny challenges. The titular protagonist of the game — 00 Dilly — is a discarded crash test dummy who wants to prove that he’s able to handle anything the world throws at him in his quest to be the best crash test dummy that ever did test crashes!

Players will help Dilly by repeatedly launching him into danger. Our fearless flailing friend can collect various objects while in the air, earning powers and points! If that’s not enough harm for our hero, there are foes, like Bad Bears, who do their darndest to stop Dilly from reaching his goal, while Nice Goats offer boosts to bring on the bonuses!
Continue here to read the full story.

Hunting Simulator 2 Announced

Publisher NACON and developer Neopica announce Hunting Simulator 2, a simulation they say all hunting enthusiasts will love. This is coming to North America for Windows on June 25th, for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on June 30th, and for Switch at a later date. Here's how this will expand upon the original Hunting Simulator: "In Hunting Simulator 2, you explore bigger, more varied and more spectacular natural environments thanks to completely redesigned graphics and sound effects. The game provides many hours of challenges and immersion among the flora and fauna of some of the most beautiful areas of Europe and the United States." Put on some camo and douse yourself in deer urine to prepare for the Reveal Trailer, and read on for how this dog will hunt:
Among the many new features of Hunting Simulator 2, hunting fans can rely on their hunting dog, whose abilities will be a big asset for tracking down game. The tracking, approach and hide phases have been faithfully reproduced for total immersion. There are over 33 animal species to find in Hunting Simulator 2. The artificial intelligence for each species has had significant work put in to recreate their unique and realistic behaviours. With help from your four-legged companion, learn how to follow their tracks to complete your objectives.

Via an all-new interface, hunters can also choose every piece of their gear to ensure they use the most suitable equipment for their prey and the various environments found in Hunting Simulator 2. Side-by-side or over/under shotguns, bolt-action or lever-action rifles with trigger guard, elastic ranged weapons... over 75 official weapons and accessories as well as 90 clothing items from the sport's specialist brands have been immaculately recreated: Browning, Winchester, Verney Carron, Bushnell, Kryptek and many more!
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New SD GUNDAM G GENERATION CROSS RAYS DLC

Added Dispatch Mission Set 3 is now available on Steam, offering new DLC for the Windows edition of SD GUNDAM G GENERATION CROSS RAYS, a mechanized RPG from BANDAI NAMCO and TOM CREATE. Here's a new trailer, and here's word on how this recalls black history, which has nothing to do with Black History Month:
Spanning more than three decades of lore from the legendary Gundam series, SD GUNDAM G GENERATION CROSS RAYS lets players relive the most iconic moments from the intense mecha series, and BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. has posted a new video that outlines a new set of missions in the Added Dispatch Mission Set 3, available now. The new content in this pack includes a mission from the 1997 series, Turn A Gundam, entitled “The Return of Black History Mission.” The mission refers back to the seminal period of the Gundam universe known as “Black History”* and features new characters with their own accompanying abilities.
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Evening Tech Bits

Dota 2 Bans 40K Over Matchmaking Abuse

A tweet from DOTA 2 reveals Valve has banned over 40,000 accounts for abusing matchmaking in Dota 2 (thanks PC Gamer via Yiddish). They don't offer details on the problem, but the Dota 2 Reddit has frequent posts about high level players creating smurf accounts and making life miserable for lower-level players as they climb through the ranks. Word is these are Steam game bans, as well as simple matchmaking bans:
We have banned over 40,000 accounts for players who were found abusing matchmaking. These bans will now appear as game bans in Steam as well as being matchmaking bans in Dota 2.

Activision Blizzard Requested Their GeForce NOW Exit

A post on the NVIDIA GeForce Forums explains that the removal of Activision Blizzard games reported yesterday from GeForce NOW was at the publisher's request (thanks VG247). Their wording suggests these titles may return, but for now the future of playing Activision Blizzard games in the cloud is up in the air. Here's word:
As we take GeForce NOW to the next step in its evolution, we’ve worked with publishers to onboard a robust catalog of your PC games.

This means continually adding new games, and on occasion, having to remove games – similar to other digital service providers.

Per their request, please be advised Activision Blizzard games will be removed from the service. While unfortunate, we hope to work together with Activision Blizzard to reenable these games and more in the future.

In addition to the hundreds of games currently supported, we have over 1,500 games that developers have asked to be on-boarded to the service. Look for weekly updates as to new games we are adding.

Original People Can Fly Developers Have Flown

Adrian Chmielarz tweets about the current staff at Polish developer People Can Fly, the studio he helped found (thanks DSOGaming). Epic Games acquired a controlling interest in the studio back in 2007, and Adrian explains that by now, none of the original staff remains:
I expect to see a lot of this in the future... TBC: Painkiller/Bulletstorm PCF and #Outriders PCF are almost two different studios. None of the creatives behind the old titles is there anymore. Best of luck to the current team! -- but I just wanted to set the record straight.

Conan Chop Chop Delayed Again

Publisher Funcom and developer Mighty Kingdom announce another delay to Conan Chop Chop, saying this hack-and-slash rogueite is now expected in Q2 of this year. This game, once thought to be an April Fools joke, was delayed once already, and was most recently expected on February 25th. How word is Chop Chop will land in the shop shop sometime after March. Here's word:
“We are almost at the finish line. The additional time is to ensure that the game is optimized for online multiplayer, and to give us a chance to add some polish here and there. It’s basically all about getting that final Chop in place,” says Mighty Kingdom CEO Philip Mayes, adding that “This isn’t merely a one-chop game. This is Conan Chop Chop, and that necessitates extra attention to detail.”

Conan Chop Chop was cheekily announced on April 1st, 2019, and was perceived to be an April Fools’ Day joke. The hack and slash rogue-lite was then unveiled as a real game during E3, where press and influencers got the first hands-on preview. Conan Chop Chop will be released on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Continue here to read the full story.

PC Dog Duty in Spring

SOEDESCO Publishing and Zanardi and Liza announce that real-time tactics game Dog Duty will graduate from Early Access on Steam this spring, or Q2 to not be northern hemisphere-centric. Word is the game will also come to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch at that time. Here's a new Announcement Trailer with a look at the game, and here's a description of what it shows: "Control a squad of misfits as they go up against some evil bigwig Octopus Commander and his army who are threatening world-peace. In this fun, fast-paced Real Time Tactics game, you go into combat and use guerrilla warfare to eliminate all octo-scum. Fight on top of your moving vehicle as you go from island to island to liberate outposts and defeat wicked bosses in their crazy octo-machines. Wreck those squids up, but beware, they’re well-armed." Here is an outline of what has changed as this has worked its way through Early Access:
During its Early Access period on Steam, Dog Duty has already received several huge updates. With feedback from the community, Zanardi & Liza worked hard on further improving the game. They have added new playable characters and enemies. Players can now assemble a squad of 3 out of 8 playable characters. Zanardi & Liza have also completely revamped the UI, adding more dialogues and encounters with both friendly and enemy NPCs. Via a whole new radio deploy system, players can engage with conquered and enemy outposts. For example, players now receive taunting messages from outposts that have not been conquered yet. The Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One version will also be released with these updates.
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Out of the Blue

My recent post about being dropped again by the Amazon affiliate program prompted renewed calls for a Blue's News Patreon. Since advertising revenue is not supporting the site, it seems the time is upon us for the first steps and launch a pilot program. Patreon is something Frans and I have been discussing for some time, and our planned rewards for patrons include an ad-free version of the site. But implementing and testing this is not ready to happen yet, as it has taken a back-seat to our ongoing responsive redesign, which is still being completed. Also, since I do not have firm ideas about what sort of payments would seem appropriate, experimentation before things take a final form makes sense. Patreon suggests three supporter tiers starting at a minimum of $3.00/month. So I'll start things off by asking for feedback on what everyone thinks about that, what would be appropriate for higher tiers, and what you might eventually expect in return. It may be farfetched to imagine paying more than that basic starting price. Especially for now, since to begin, aside from supporter designations in the forums, self-satisfaction will be the main reward for every tier. But if some of you are in a position to comfortably go above and beyond, it will probably be a big factor in how successful this will be towards a self-sustaining Blue's News. So please feel free to express thoughts on Patreon, pricing tiers, and rewards in the forums or by email. And a big thank you to everyone who has expressed interest in helping in this way.

Patronizing Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
Play: Minesweeper Classic Online.
Link: Westminster Dog Show 2020: Breed results, winners, standard poodle wins Best in Show. Somewhere Gunnar-man is smiling.
Stories: Con men scam $1 million from isolated Mennonite craftsman by claiming to be Illuminati. Waiting for my cut. Thanks Yiddish.
Angela Hewitt's rare Fazioli piano dropped by movers.
Disneyland raises ticket prices, breaking the $200-a-day mark.
Science: NASA Prepares for Moon and Mars With New Addition to Its Deep Space Network.
Media: THE FRENCH DISPATCH - Official Trailer. New Wes Anderson.
Doctor Reacts to Reckless Medical Memes.
LAURA DERN.
Auctions: Hockney painting makes splash, sells at auction for $30M. More of a footnball man myself. Thanks Max.
Follow-up: Covid-19: The new coronavirus disease now officially has a name. Thanks RedEye9.
How novel coronavirus spread across the world – visual explainer. Thanks RedEye9.
Got A Cold? A Body Of Research Shows Zinc Supplements Can Help. Thanks RedEye9.

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020

Activision Blizzard Games Leave GeForce NOW

The Verge reports that all of Activision Blizzard's games have been removed from GeForce NOW, NVIDIA's new cloud gaming service. Word is that so far whatever provoked this remains a mystery:
Nvidia’s GeForce Now feels like one of the very best ways to get a free taste of cloud gaming, but it’s got a gigantic catch — it lets you play PC games you already own only if the game publisher allows it. Today, Nvidia is revealing that Activision Blizzard is no longer playing ball, pulling down its catalog of games including Overwatch, WoW, and the Call of Duty series.

That means one of the service’s biggest publishers, as well as its Battle.net catalog of games, will no longer be available just a week after the service’s formal launch — a launch that was already missing many games from Capcom, EA, Konami, Remedy, Rockstar and Square Enix, all of which seemed to have pulled out after Nvidia’s beta period ended.

Nvidia wouldn’t tell us why this is happening now, but it’s strange, because Nvidia previously told us it was contacting every publisher ahead of launch to make sure they were OK staying on. Did Activision Blizzard reneg on a deal, or did Nvidia fail to get permission? We’re waiting to hear back on that from Nvidia; Activision Blizzard didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Project A Details

A series of tweets from HenryG have word from this esports commentator and former player on a visit to check out Project A, Riot's upcoming first person shooter (thanks Engadget). He says that he can't go into too much detail at this time. But he says this is the best game he's played since Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and highlights some impressions, along with the shortcomings of Twitter for such posts:
Hello! Strap yourself in. I had the chance to spend a day playing #ProjectA at Riot EU. Today, I'm allowed to share some of my initial thoughts and impressions. Please bear with me, I can't go into too much detail about the specifics of a lot of the gameplay until a later date.

If you're reading this and you're not familiar with what I do; I am known as HenryG, primarily a CS:GO commentator and former professional CS player. Down a similar vein to these upcoming tweets, I was also part of the first ever play-test of CS:GO in 2011 at Valve.

First of all, at its core, Project A is essentially a round based, 5on5, tactical shooter (most similar to CS:GO as a twitter surface level comparison), with the better (and slightly diluted) elements of class/hero based FPS games such as Overwatch or Apex Legends, for example.

The game mode we had access to was MR12, DE/SnD with a A & B bombsite with an attack/defence swap at half time.

In my opinion, these aforementioned classes and their own unique 'abilities' should be seen as tactical utility instead of potentially overpowered spell/ultimate combinations that other class-based games suffer from.
Continue here to read the full story.

Metro Exodus Sam's Story Released

Publisher Deep Silver and developer 4A Games now offer Sam's Story, the latest DLC for Metro Exodus, their first-person shooter sequel. This is available on the Epic Games Store, but the announcement also reiterated the recent news that Metro Exodus will be released on Steam on February 15th. Here's a Launch Trailer and here's the news:
Deep Silver and 4A Games are thrilled to announce that Sam’s Story, the second major story DLC for Metro Exodus is out now while also confirming that Metro Exodus will return to Steam on February 15.

Sam’s Story follows former U.S. Marine Sam - a Spartan Ranger who has worked under Colonel Miller since the nuclear war devastated Moscow and followed Artyom in search of a world outside of the Metro. Sam had long dreamed of returning to his homeland and perhaps even finding his father alive. The prospect seemed impossible in the darkened tunnels of the Metro but when the Spartans discovered that Moscow was not the only city left alive after the war, holding out hope didn’t feel so foolish anymore.

Sam, determined to find a way back to the USA, departed from the Aurora to make his way through Vladivostok’s tsunami ravaged harbours, ruined industrial buildings, and crumbling residential districts. However, to complete his journey, Sam will discover that he needs every tactic he has learned so far to survive, as his surroundings prove to be far trickier than expected.

In this expansive ‘sandbox survival’ level, players will experience another gripping story line featuring new characters, weapons and mutant variants, in a huge, non-linear environment that offers roughly five hours of all-new single player gameplay.
Continue here to read the full story.

Destiny 2 Accounts Rolled Back

Bungie Help tweets that Destiny 2 accounts were all rolled back today due to a problem with Hotfix 2.7.1.1 for the shooter sequel. Things are back online now, so apparently they've applied some sort of coldfix or hotfix fix, or something. This tweet explains what was lost:
Due to the rollback:

  • Any progress or purchase made between 8:30-10:30 AM PST will need to be redone
  • Silver spent during that time will be restored
  • Platform store-purchased Silver bundles will not be affected by the rollback
  • Fractaline will be returned to inventories

Division 2 Expansion Next Month, Bringing Seasons and Global Events

Ubisoft announces Warlords of New York, a narrative-driven expansion for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 they will release on March 3rd. Owners of the action/RPG sequel will not have to wait that long for a taste of this, as a prologue called Coney Island: The Hunt is expected tomorrow for Season Pass holders and a week from tomorrow for all other Division 2 players. They are also adding this new content to the Standard Edition of the game, saying: "While current The Division 2 players can purchase the expansion on its own, new players can purchase the Standard Edition, which includes The Division 2 base game and The Division 2 Warlords of New York expansion. The Ultimate Edition, which gives players both the game and its expansion, as well as all of The Division 2’s Year 1 content, classified assignments and unlocked specializations, will also be available." Here's a Warlords of New York- World Premiere Cinematic Trailer with a look at the story. They also announce that the new expansion will introduce new three-month endgame seasons and the return of global events to the game. And the base version of the game will be enhanced by the release of Update 8. There's a lot to this, so here's a full rundown:
A Narrative Expansion to Discover a New Area in New York City
In Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Warlords of New York, Division Agents will go on the ultimate manhunt for Aaron Keener, a former Division Agent who has now gone rogue. Keener, along with his network of Rogue Agents, is now a major threat to the burgeoning rebirth of civilization. To track down Keener, Agents will roam the untamed living open world of Lower Manhattan; a former Dark Zone that was recently hit by a devastating hurricane that hit New York City harder than anywhere else in the US. Agents are tasked to explore new zones, each with iconic locations such as Two Bridges, Chinatown, and Wall Street. To get to Keener, players must take down each of his Rogue Agents. Each Rogue Agent has their own unique back story and skill – which you gain once you take them down.

The Ultimate Vision of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Warlords of New York
After taking the time to hear and gather community feedback, core gameplay enhancements have been implemented across various topics such as build diversity, gear streamlining and even more meaningful loot.
Continue here to read the full story.

Outbreak: Epidemic Breaks Out

Outbreak: Epidemic is now available for Windows and Linux on Steam, offering a co-op survival game ripped from today's headlines. This is accompanied by the release of Outbreak Ultimate Apocalypse on Steam, offering the entire Outbreak series with a 48% discount. Here's the Release Trailer, and here's word:
The infection spreads like never before in Outbreak: Epidemic, the latest co-op (Steam Only) and single-player (Steam/Xbox One) survival horror nightmare from Dead Drop Studios. Experience the nationwide epidemic as you and up to three friends lead Gwen, Renault, Kara and Tom through the undead apocalypse. Outbreak: Epidemic features the series classic tough-as-nails survival horror gameplay powered by the next-generation Outbreak engine across the Campaign Mode, Onslaught Mode and Experiments Mode. Experience the nightmare close up through over-the-shoulder claustrophobic gameplay as you blast and slash your way through the epidemic.
Continue here to read the full story.

BATTLETECH Final Update This Month

Harebrained Schemes announces that with the conclusion of the Season Pass for BATTLETECH, the version 1.9 update expected later this month will be their final update for the mech combat revival, though they remain committed to customer support for the game (thanks Neutronbeam). They explain that they are embarking on "two brand new non-BattleTech projects." They illustrate the news with a Thank you from BATTLETECH and HBS video and a BATTLETECH Visualization Map video. Here's word:
Thanks again for all your support for BATTLETECH over the last 4 years. That support allowed us to deliver the first turn-based, tactical MechWarrior experience in more than 20 years and we truly appreciate the opportunity to make it for you. Your support, along with some great press, awards, and accolades allowed us to continue supporting BATTLETECH with nine free updates plus our Flashpoint, Urban Warfare, and Heavy Metal expansions. Thanks again for making all of this possible!

Now, with our season pass at an end, HBS is going to focus on two brand new non-BattleTech projects. Our last free update, BATTLETECH Update 1.9, will release in late February. After that, BATTLETECH will continue to maintain customer support.

Here's a video of Mitch saying all this but with more "Mitch".
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Mad Experiments: Escape Room Demo

The Steam Listing for Mad Experiments: Escape Room now offers a playable demo for this multiplayer escape game from PlayTogether Studio, a developer formed by former Ubisoft Montreal designer Clément Marthe. The full game is expected in April, and the description covers that more than the new demo:
Inspired by real escape rooms, the game will challenge up to 6 players to solve the puzzles of the intriguing mansion of Professor Cheshire. You have 60 minutes to explore, gather every clue you can find, examine objects, and unravel the secrets of this place.

The puzzles are quite hard and have been designed with multiplayer in mind, so even if you can play the game solo, it is a better experience to play with your friends.

Launching in April 2020, Mad Experiments: Escape Room will challenge players to:

  • Visual puzzles, riddles, an intriguing song, and many surprises. Every puzzle is unique!
  • Communicate with your teammates to share your discoveries
  • Each room is a chapter of the mind-bending story of Professor Cheshire and his experiments on the Human’s mind

Starbreeze Financials

GamesIndustry.biz reports the latest financials from Starbreeze, covering the calendar year 2019. They have been going through a financial restructuring and debt repayment, and the news is their full-year losses were $12 million. They offer the following outlook on the Swedish company's future:
For the full-year, the series -- driven primarily by Payday 2 -- accounted for SEK 109.4 million ($11.3 million) or 39% of all net sales. SEK 50.8 million ($5.26 million) was generated in the last quarter alone, accounting for 99.4% of the company's Q4 net sales.

This was driven in no small part by new content released in October, which CEO Mikael Nermark says "generated higher than expected sales and player numbers" for Payday 2. He added that this "confirms the interest in a future release of Payday 3" and confirmed additional updates will be added to Payday 2 in 2020.

Starbreeze now finds itself in a similar position to where it was six years ago. Payday 2 accounted for 88.5% of its revenue in Q4 2014 -- despite launching more than a year beforehand -- and 88.4% of revenues the following quarter.

All hope is on Payday 3, then, to fully revive the company's fortunes, with Nermark confident that a publishing agreement for the game will be announced before the end of H1 2020. He also expects a publishing agreement for mobile spin-off Payday: Crime War to also be finalised by this time.

He reiterated that with the reconstruction process complete, Starbreeze is now "fully focused on the core business -- creating games, with Payday front and centre."

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Cat Thinks Long And Hard About Its Next Move. Thanks Ant.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Season Two Begins

The promised Season Two is now underway for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Activision's military shooter sequel. The Activision Blog has more on this. Also, the term "68 GB" is currently trending on Twitter, because that's how surprisingly large the new patch is. Here are the details on what you get in exchange for such a large download:
Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® expands with new Season Two content today, jam-packed with free multiplayer maps, modes and weapons available for all players. Throughout Season Two, players across all platforms can continue the fight alongside their favorite Operators in all-new and returning fan-favorite maps, fresh in-game challenges and rewards, limited-time game modes, and playlists among the community celebrations.

In addition, the Battle Pass system gets all brand-new content, with Season Two starting today, as all players can unlock for free up to two new functional weapons, 300 COD points, calling cards and more just by playing. Those who want to bring their game to a whole new level with over 170 earnable items can also purchase the Season Two Battle Pass for 1,000 Call of Duty Points for access to unlock up to 100 tiers of new content.

“The community response to Modern Warfare since launch has been incredible and we’re thrilled to bring back some legendary fan-favorite maps and an iconic beloved Modern Warfare character, Ghost,” said Patrick Kelly, Co-Studio Head and Creative Director, Infinity Ward. “We’re committed to continuously fueling the fun with more and more content for everyone and can’t wait for players to experience what’s to come with Season Two.”
Continue here to read the full story.

2K Announces Developer 31st Union

2K announces that 31st Union is the new development studio they announced last year as the new home of Michael Condrey, formerly of Sledgehammer and Visceral Games. At this point they are following the ION Storm model, as the most tangible elements of this they reveal are a "new state-of-the-art development facility" and a "passionate and talented team." They also mention a "culture that champions inclusivity and greater representation," and tease an "ambitious and inspired" new IP, which will be revealed in the future. Here's word:
2K announced today that 2K Silicon Valley, the label’s wholly-owned development studio founded in February 2019 and led by video game industry veteran Michael Condrey, will officially be known as 31st Union. Alongside revealing its new state-of-the-art development facility, branding and core values commitment to further establish its identity, the studio also announced plans to expand its presence internationally, beginning with a European location based in Spain.

“31st Union is off to an incredible start with a passionate and talented team, an intentioned culture that champions inclusivity and greater representation, and an ambitious and inspired new IP that we’re extremely excited about,” said Michael Condrey, President at 31st Union. “Our name and studio represent the spirit of California in its rich diversity of thought, art, music, innovation and cultural representation that have defined the current golden age of entertainment and technology here in Silicon Valley. In revealing our new identity and announcing the expansion of our operations, we’re shifting into an exciting next phase of growth to include more voices and bring our vision to life around the globe.”
Continue here to read the full story.

THQ Nordic announces Developer Nine Rocks Games

THQ Nordic announces Nine Rocks Games is a new development studio they've established in Bratislava, Slovakia. They say this is working on a new survival shooter that they will reveal soon. Word is the team behind this includes veterans of DayZ, Soldier of Fortune 3, Conan (2004), and Chaser (2003). Here's the announcement:
THQ Nordic today announced the incorporation of its new studio Nine Rocks Games in Bratislava, Slovakia. The team will be working on a game in the shooter/survival genre. More information on the project itself will be released in due time.

DayZ (2018), Soldier of Fortune 3 (2007), Conan (2004), Chaser (2003) are some of the projects the team has been working on before joining the THQ Nordic network of development studios.

“We are very much looking forward to setting up shop in our office, gradually optimizing our teamsize, and getting to work on our project”, comments David Durcak, CEO of Nine Rocks Games. “With THQ Nordic as a partner, our roster of talent found perfect conditions to collaborate on our first joint project.”

“We welcome the newest addition to the THQ Nordic network of studios: Nine Rocks Games,” said Klemens Kreuzer CEO of THQ Nordic. “I personally think it is always a great sign in business, when everything just seems to fall into place. The right people at the right time having the right mindset and a meaningful conversation… We are very happy to welcome the Slovak team onboard and are excited about our first project with Nine Rocks Games.”

Dead Cells: The Bad Seed Released

Evil Empire and Motion Twin have planted Dead Cells: The Bad Seed on Steam. This new DLC requires the original Dead Cells for Windows, macOS, and Linux, marking the 17th update and first paid content for the side-scrolling action game. Here's a recent Gameplay Trailer, and here's the announcement:
The exceptionally deadly new Dead Cells DLC, The Bad Seed, has planted itself on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch today from developers and publishers Evil Empire and Motion Twin for $4.99. Additionally, co-conspirators at Merge Games revealed Dead Cells - The Prisoner’s Edition today, a brand new megabundle coming to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on June 23rd - details below and at https://signatureeditiongames.com/collections/signature-editions.

The new DLC for the heavily lauded Dead Cells game, The Bad Seed, is the seventeenth update to the game but does not alter the critical path for players still looking to conquer the main storyline of the game. Rather, The Bad Seed introduces players to an additional path to take, sporting all-new optional biomes, granting them incredible new weapons, and sticks them in front of really dangerous and possibly questionably hard but definitely gross new enemies.
Continue here to read the full story.

Shadow Arena Beta This Month

Pearl Abyss announces closed beta testing will begin on February 27th for Shadow Arena, a new arena fighting game that's a spinoff of Black Desert, their sandbox MMORPG. The test will run until March 8th, and those interested in participating can sign up on this page. Here's the Official Reveal Trailer from last year, and here are more details on the plan:
Shadow Arena pits 40 players against one another in a ruthless competition to be the last person standing on the battlefield. Players can choose from one of nine playable characters in the beta, each with their own unique fighting style. To climb to the top of the pack, players must hunt monsters and collect loot to upgrade their gear and gain buffs. However, impeccable skill execution and well-timed evasive tactics are critical in turning fights in one’s favor to secure victory.

Shadow Arena was originally a game within Black Desert, but eventually evolved into its own stand-alone game. While Shadow Arena does draw from Black Desert, it has created its own unique style, drawing from the MOBA, battle royale, and MMO genres to create an arena fighter. Shadow Arena has two gameplay modes: solo and team. While players can boast their skill in the solo match, complex strategic gameplay is required in the team mode. Players can also enjoy a distinctive co-op mode with a new style of PvP action.

Shadow Arena will be released in the first half of 2020 for PC first and console later.
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TerraGenesis PC Release

Tilting Point and Edgeworks Entertainment announce the launch of a Windows edition of TerraGenesis - Space Settlers, their indie terraforming game. This is already available for mobile devices, and the free-to-play PC edition can be picked up through the Microsoft Store. Here's a video from a couple of years ago showing off the app version, and here are details on the release, which also brings new features to the mobile versions:
Tilting Point and Edgeworks Entertainment have launched a PC version of their indie terraforming game TerraGenesis. Featuring real data and science from NASA, TerraGenesis brings its deep, near-photorealistic outer-space gameplay to the PC platform after seeing cosmic success on mobile devices - the game has surpassed 16 million downloads, earning Edgeworks a Mobile Game Awards nomination for Best Indie Developer in 2018 and winning the Very Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco in 2017. Players looking to terraform planets can download the game for free on the Microsoft Store here.

In TerraGenesis, players create and care for the life on their planet while turning it into a thriving paradise. Featuring realistic science and accurate maps with over 45 real-life planets, moons, and even historical versions of Earth to terraform, players are confronted with challenges and opportunities as they transform their world and create a new and unique society on the surface of each and every planet they visit.

New to the game, across both mobile and PC platforms, is the Governors feature, which gives players the ability to accelerate the growth of their worlds with the help of over 40 new and upgradeable characters. The Governors characters each have unique stories, backgrounds, and abilities that impact the development of a player’s world in specific ways (e.g. a fertility doctor Governor will increase their city’s birth rate).
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Broken Lines This Month

Publisher Super.com and developer PortaPlay announce February 25th is the PC release date for Broken Lines, their narrative, tactical-RPG that's also eventually coming to Switch. This was previously expected last year before a delay was revealed in November. For more on this you can visit the Steam Listing and the official website, which features the recent Story Trailer. Here's the elevator pitch:
The game drops players behind enemy lines in an alternate-history WWII, where they take control of a squad of soldiers who must fight not only battlefield enemies; but with their own sense of right and wrong to get back home. Through both tactical combat and immersive interactive dialogues, players will get a sense of the true horrors of war as they take their toll on the soldiers’ minds and bodies alike.
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Hokko Life Announced

Hokko Life, an upcoming "creativity-filled community sim game" in the works at Wonderscope, a solo studio formed by former Sony and Lionhead developer Robert Tatnell. This "invites players to escape the hustle-bustle and relax in their new home of Hokko." The Hokko Life Website is online, offering this Announcement Trailer showing off serene gameplay reminiscent of Animal Crossing. Here's word:
Build the town of your dreams with Hokko Life's creativity tools, which allow you to customize and design furniture, clothing, and much more! While away the hours fishing, farming and hunting bugs; or get to work building houses for your new residents. With complete creative freedom, what town will you build?

CRAFT: Head to the forest or the abandoned mine to chop; mine, and dig for resources. Take what you've collected back to town and craft them into materials you can use in your own designs.
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Out of the Blue

Over all these years I thought I had already experienced ever form of spam and scam email created. This morning I got a new one, however, when I received a surprise invitation from the Illumnati! They say: "Hello, Do you wish to be famous, wealthy and powerful? Be part of this elite organization called Illuminati filled with world leaders, business authorities, innovators, artists, and other influential members of this planet....to apply for membership contact us now and Join Our Global Unity. This is a limited offer!!" At first I was surprised that the Illumnati would even be aware of me, but then I realized, hey, they're the Illumnati! They know everything! So there, now I'm going to finally be in on the big picture of how the globe actually operates. I'm guessing I'll be sworn to secrecy, so apologies in advance for not filling you in!

Illuminated Links: Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.
Links: Zoo will name a rat or roach after your ex and feed it to a snake on Valentine.
The Story of Huey Lewis Is Not a Tragedy. Thanks Cutter.
Preparing For The End Of The World, On A Budget.
Science: Michael Pollan Explains Caffeine Cravings (And Why You Don't Have To Quit).
Dog Training Methods Affect Attachment to the Owner. Thanks Max.
Doing this many push-ups reduces heart disease risk by 96%. This many being 40.
Media: How one dog won Westminster three times.
Wrestler dives off shopping mall balcony. Admit it, you've thought about it too.
Encounter with Koala. They get all the girls.
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