Archived News:

Saturday, Jun 27, 2020

Forza Bans the Confederate Flag

A tweet from Forza Support has word that the Confederate flag is no longer allowed in Forza games, as it has been added to the list of "notorious iconography" that Turn 10 does not allow in the racing series (thanks Eurogamer.net). Word is: "Our goal is to create a safe, secure, inclusive, and enjoyable experience for all players. Moving forward, the use of the Confederate flag on any car and under any circumstances will be categorized as a 'Notorious iconography' in our enforcement guidelines and its use will result in a ban." Here's the list of notorious iconography from the Forza Enforcement Guidelines they specify is not allowed in their games:
Certain notorious iconography, including but not limited to:

  • Swastikas
  • Confederate Flag
  • SS-runes
  • Wolfsangel
  • Black Sun
  • Arrow Cross
  • Iron Cross (with contextual clues)
  • Rising Sun

Fallout 76 Season One Next Week

Bethesda announces Season One for Fallout 76 kicks off on Tuesday and will run until mid-September (thanks VG247). They list the rewards that will be available in the sci-fi RPG prequel and offer this overview of what to expect:
From the makers of Unstoppables Shindig, Blast Radius, and Catch the Commie comes The Legendary Run – an exciting new way to experience irradiated West Virginia. The Legendary Run is Fallout 76’s first Season and features a boardgame-inspired theme. As Captain Cosmos, you will race the evil Dr. Zorbo across the galaxy. Your progression through the Season will be represented as pieces on a game board. Can you beat Dr. Zorbo to the finish line? You have until mid-September to find out!

Out of the Blue

Okay, I'll post a couple of further reminders of our Game Key Giveaway for Supporters and then commence with the giveaway on Monday. So hop on over and list the games you want from selection of keys we have. Or, you know, don't. I'm not the boss of you.

Bossy Links
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

Story

Science
Thanks Max.

Image

Media

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

Ubisoft Misconduct Investigation Follow-up

A story on Bloomberg by former Kotaku reporter Jason Schreier reveals further fallout at Ubisoft from the recent flurry of misconduct allegations. Word is two executives and other staff have been placed on leave pending investigations into their conduct. Here's word:
Ubisoft Entertainment SA, one of the world’s largest video-game publishers, placed two executives and several other employees on administrative leave as part of a corporate investigation into misconduct allegations made public over the last week, according to people familiar with the situation.

The two high-ranking employees under scrutiny are Tommy François and Maxime Béland, both vice presidents in the group overseeing development of Ubisoft’s games worldwide, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel issues. Each man faced at least three claims of misconduct among a flurry of Twitter posts from named and anonymous accusers.

Neither François nor Béland responded to requests for comment. Stephanie Magnier, a spokeswoman for Ubisoft, wrote in an email: “These are under investigation, so we are not commenting further at this time.”

Dying Light Hellraid DLC Beta Access with Preorders

Techland announces Hellraid, new DLC for Dying Light, their post-apocalyptic survival/action game for Windows, macOS, and Linux. This is based on the Hellraid game they announced seven years ago as the new title of a Dead Island spin-off first announced as Project Hell. This was put "on hold" in 2015, and the announcement refers to it as a "currently-on-hold first-person dark fantasy slasher," so it's still only mostly dead, as Miracle Max would say. They say the Dying Light version of Hellraid will be released on July 23rd, but that those who preorder it on Steam (requires the base Dying Light game) will get beta access from today until Monday. Here's an Announcement Trailer and here are some details:
Over five years after the release, Dying Light is getting an exciting DLC that’s bound to refresh your experience with the game. Get ready for an entirely new game mode based on our currently-on-hold first-person dark fantasy slasher Hellraid. That’s right – dark fantasy!

You might wonder how we tied the DLC’s significantly different setting to Dying Light’s post-apocalyptic reality. The answer to that question is a strange device found in the Tower’s basement after an odd power outage. It looks like an arcade machine but in fact it’s a portal between worlds. Use it and you’ll emerge in a grim fortress overrun by Hell’s minions.

To keep the hellish setting consistent, we’ve populated the stronghold with completely new demonic enemies and designed an array of fitting fantasy weapons to slay them with. Hellraid comes with its own progression system and you’ll have to improve your rank to unlock new swords, hammers, and axes. These are more than just pieces of equipment – they’re trophies. Each run through the dungeon will reward you with coins that you can spend to proudly wield Hellraid weapons in Harran. Every time you revisit the fortress, you’ll have a choice to increase the prize by picking up bounties. Whether you choose to test your skills alone or in co-op (up to 4 people), you’ll face a considerable challenge.
Continue here to read the full story.

Conan Chop Chop Delayed Again

Funcom announces that while they are still working chop chop on Conan Chop Chop, they are pushing back its release to later this year. This roguelite party game was first revealed on April Fool's Day 2019 and in August 2019 it was delayed to Q1 of this year. This was later narrowed to February before another delay. Here's the brief word on the latest setback:
The rogue-lite party-game Conan Chop Chop, previously scheduled for release in Q2 2020, has had its release date moved to allow for further development. The game is still due to release in 2020, but the exact date will be announced through a press release and on pr.funcom.com at a later time.

Counter-Strike: GO Anticheat Beta

The Counter-Strike Blog announces that Valve is beta testing new anti-cheat measures for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. What they are working on sounds similar to the measures used by VALORANT to check for external programs:
Today we’re shipping an optional beta branch of CS:GO with changes that are part of our continuing fight against cheating. To help out, you can opt in to the beta by following the instructions here.

CS:GO now significantly restricts the types of programs and files that can interact with the game.

In the unlikely event that you launch the game with incompatible files, you will receive a warning indicating the incompatible file and may be blocked from joining VAC-enabled servers. To resolve the issue, you can disable the ‘Trusted Launch’ in your game settings, however this may temporarily impact your trust score.
Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

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Op Ed

  • GamesIndustry.biz - Abuse in the industry isn't down to a few "bad apples."
    "The games industry, like several other creative industries -- comics in particular is in the throes of a similar upheaval -- has an innate cultural and institutional problem that permits this kind of abuse to happen with impunity. If we're focused on the substance of individual allegations rather than recognising the pattern of all the allegations taken as a whole, and the depth of the change that's clearly needed to fix a culture which permitted such widespread abuse to occur, then we're in full-on deckchair rearranging mode while the Titanic sinks around us."

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Mobilization

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: Thanos Sculpture Turned to Dust. I suppose this was... inevitable. Thanks Ant.

Obituary: Siya Kakkar, teenage TikTok star, has died, her manager confirms.

Borderlands 3 Bounty of Blood Spurts Out

Bounty of Blood is now available in Borderlands 3, offering a third campaign add-on for the action/RPG/shooter sequel. This comes along with a free update for the game raising the maximum Vault Hunter level to 60. Here's word on the DLC, which available separately, as part of the Super Deluxe Edition, or the Season Pass (which is currently on sale). Here's the Official Launch Trailer and here's a bloody bounty of details:
Vault Hunters, mount up! The Sheriff of Vestige on the frontier planet of Gehenna has issued a bounty on the Devil Riders gang, and it's time to collect. The violent, beast-riding mercenaries have been harassing the townsfolk, and their unwanted attention is taking such a toll that the locals have started turning to outsiders for help. These folks are tough as hell—they wouldn't have survived this long on a brutal, unforgiving planet that was previously a weapons testing ground otherwise—and they'll do what they can to help. But it falls on you to take the fight to the Devil Riders and put them in the ground so the town can be rebuilt and folks can get back on their feet.

Bounty of Blood is the third of four campaign add-ons that are included with the Borderlands 3 Super Deluxe Edition and Season Pass. It's also available to purchase separately, though you'll need to own a copy of Borderlands 3 to play it.
Continue here to read the full story.

Ubisoft Investigating Misconduct

An Update from Ubisoft has word from the publisher on the actions they are taking following recent allegations of misconduct in the gaming industry, which included accusations against some of their employees. They offer apologies, say they will be announcing additional measures in the coming days, and for those who seem to think that there's a rush to judgment involved, they explain the steps they are taking to investigate:
Concerning recent allegations raised against certain Ubisoft team members: We want to start by apologizing to everyone affected by this – we are truly sorry. We are dedicated to creating an inclusive and safe environment for our teams, players, and communities. It is clear we have fallen short of this in the past. We must do better.

We have started by launching investigations into the allegations with the support of specialized external consultants. Based on the outcomes, we are fully committed to taking any and all appropriate disciplinary action. As these investigations are ongoing, we can't comment further. We are also auditing our existing policies, processes, and systems to understand where these have broken down, and to ensure we can better prevent, detect, and punish inappropriate behavior.

We will be sharing additional measures that we are putting in place with our teams in the coming days. Our goal is to foster an environment that our employees, partners, and communities can be proud of –one that reflects our values and that is safe for everyone.

Focus Home Interactive Acquires Deck13

Focus Home Interactive has hit the deck with the acquisition of Deck13 Interactive for €6.5 million in cash and €0.6 million in stock, reports MCV/DEVELOP. Word is they announced the purchase of the German developer amid record €143 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending March 21 2020. "I am delighted to announce that Deck13 is now part of Focus Home Interactive," says Deck13 co-founder and managing director Jan Klose. "Our companies have been working together successfully since 2011, developing award winning brands such as The Surge. We are looking forward to leveraging the incredible capabilities of Focus Home Interactive to develop new successes."

On Cyberpunk 2077 Ray Tracing

NVIDIA says the Official Trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 that was released yesterday shows off their ray tracing technology. They add that the upcoming sci-fi RPG will also utilize NVIDIA DLSS 2.0. They offer the following details on the game's ray tracing support:

Gamers can expect to experience the following ray-traced features in Cyberpunk 2077 at launch:

  • Ray-traced ambient occlusion - Ambient occlusion is a shading and rendering technique used to calculate how exposed each point in a scene is to ambient lighting. The result is a diffuse shading effect that darkens enclosed and sheltered areas and enhances the rendered image's overall tone. In Cyberpunk 2077, ray-traced ambient occlusion additionally can be used with local lights to approximate local shadowing effects where shadows are missing.
  • Ray-traced diffuse illumination - This technique is used to capture sky radiance as well as emissive lighting from various surfaces, which is difficult to achieve with traditional rendering techniques.
  • Ray-traced reflections - In Cyberpunk 2077, ray-traced reflections are used on all surfaces and can trace ranges for up to several kilometers. They are present on both opaque and transparent objects to simulate the way light reflects from glossy and metal surfaces by tracing a single bounce of reflection rays against the scene. This includes smooth natural mirrors like window glass, but also rougher surfaces like brushed metal. Unlike screen space techniques which can only reflect what’s on screen, ray-traced reflections incorporate the entire scene around the character, and can accurately represent objects outside the camera view or facing away from the camera.
  • Ray-traced shadows - Cyberpunk 2077 preview supports directional shadows from the sun and the moon. These shadows aim to be physically accurate and even account for light scattering from clouds. Shadows may be enhanced in the final release to support other types of light sources where it is needed.

Continue here to read the full story.

Magic: The Gathering Arena Gets macOS Support and New Cards

Wizards of the Coast announces that macOS support is now available in Magic: The Gathering Arena, the digital version of their collectible card game. This post has the details and a FAQ on the topic, saying Mac support is available through the Epic Games Store. This comes alongside a new update for the game adding new cards in Core Set 2021. There are also changes to how reprint cards are distributed, brawl changes, deckbuilder improvements, and more. Here's more:
Wizards of the Coast is thrilled to announce the release of the latest card expansion for Magic: The Gathering: Core Set 2021. The new set is now available for play in physical stores and also digitally through the Magic: The Gathering Arena video game, now newly available for Mac on the Epic Games Store, as well as a standalone download for Windows.

The new set is now available for play in MTG Arena introduces over 200 cards, heavily focused on introducing new players to Magic: The Gathering.

Featuring Teferi, Master of Time, and the new Planeswalker Basri, Core Set 2021 features multiple ways for new players to pick up Magic: The Gathering for the first time.

Whether it is through the new Starter Kits, which feature two ready to play 60-card decks, fully redeemable in MTG Arena, or the Planeswalker decks, also redeemable digitally, players will have at their fingertips the easiest way yet to start playing the world’s most popular card game.

In addition, some card sets will have codes redeemable in Magic: The Gathering Arena, continuing to highlight the parity between the physical and digital versions of the game. Planeswalker Decks will contain codes allowing players to redeem for exact copies of the decks in Magic: The Gathering Arena.

Dungeons 3 - Complete Collection Released

Kalypso Media announces the Dungeons 3 - Complete Collection is now available for Windows, macOS, and Linux through the Kalypso Store and Steam. They accompany the news with a new infographic and a new trailer. Here's word on this chance to own the entirety of this dungeon management sim in one convenient package:
Publisher Kalypso Media and in-house developer Realmforge Studios today announced that quirky dungeon management sim Dungeons 3 - Complete Collection is available now on Windows, Mac, Linux and Xbox One, with the digital PlayStation 4 version arriving slightly later on June 29th.

The Complete Collection is the definitive Dungeons 3 experience and includes the base game (including its numerous free content updates) and Dungeons 3's seven DLCs: Once Upon a Time, Evil of the Caribbean, Lord of the Kings, Clash of Gods, An Unexpected DLC, Famous Last Words and A Multitude of Maps.

The collection also includes the game's fan-favourite sardonic narrator, and cooperative multiplayer mode, allowing two players to team up and take on challenges together as the Absolute Evil.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

I had to evict a hornet from our bedroom this morning. He was a nasty-looking critter, but thankfully he seemed pretty mellow and it wasn't hard to trap him and set him free outside. While I was at it I cleaned up the latest collection of stink bugs. Since our move to our more rural digs, these have been by far the most common intruders, as I've had to get rid of dozens of them with no clue how they gain entrance. But all the live ones were in the spring, and today's roundup was a half-dozen corpses. We have one more infestation to deal with, however, as it seems like there's a bird's nest in our dryer vent. They don't seem bothered by us running the dryer, which is odd. This is hard to reach so we've found a wildlife guy to come and deal with this. He says he can relocate the nest to a nearby tree, which will hopefully work, as we certainly don't mean the bitty birdies any harm.

Nested Links
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

Breakfast Link

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Auction

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