Archived News:

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2020 National Coffee Day (USA)

Cyberpunk 2077 Development Succumbing to Crunch

Bloomberg reports that CD PROJEKT RED is mandating six-day work weeks leading up to the promised November 19th release of Cyberpunk 2077. The developer previously repeatedly promised they would not put their staff through the dreaded crunch leading up to the launch of the eagerly anticipated RPG. But there was a hint earlier this year that they were backtracking on this commitment. Now this seems to be definitively the case. Bloomberg has the following internal email from studio head Adam Badowski they say was shared with them by a CDPR employee who asked not to be named:
“Starting today, the entire (development) studio is in overdrive,” Badowski wrote, elaborating that this meant “your typical amount of work and one day of the weekend.” The extra work would be paid, as required by Polish labor laws. Many other video game studios don’t pay for overtime.

“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” he wrote. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back -- that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”

New AMD Drivers

AMD Support now offers new version 20.9.2 Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition drivers for AMD graphics cards running under Windows. These include support for Star Wars: Squadrons and additional Vulkan functions. According to the Release Notes they also address the following issues:
Fixed Issues

  • Some games may exhibit stutter intermittently during gameplay on Radeon RX 5000 series graphics products.
  • Radeon FreeSync may fail to enable after updating Radeon Software without a system reboot.
  • Screen flickering may be observed while MSI Afterburner™ is running or enabled on the system.
  • X-Plane 11™ may experience an application hang or crash when using the Vulkan® API.
  • DOOM™ VFR may experience corruption or artifacting in game on Radeon RX 5000 series system configurations.
  • Performance metrics overlay may fail to open or appear after the system wakes from sleep.
  • Call of Duty®: WWII may experience black textures on the ground or walls in zombies game mode.
  • Blocky corruption may be observed in Detroit: Become Human™ on some Radeon RX 5000 series graphics products.
  • Using the Movies&TV application to edit video clips may result in green corruption in the clips.
  • Performance metrics may report incorrect values for current VRAM usage after an extended period of gameplay.
  • With HDR enabled, Windows® desktop may experience flickering, and performing a task switch while in a game may cause colors to become washed out or over saturated.
  • World of Warcraft™ may experience corruption issues with anti-aliasing enabled on DirectX®12 API.
  • Launching Radeon Software after a driver upgrade, may cause the Auto OC dialogue to appear with “0 Mhz” when the Auto OC feature has been previously enabled on Radeon RX Vega series graphics products.

Diablo IV Update

A new Diablo IV Quarterly Update—September 2020 is now online, with the latest on what to expect from Diablo IV, the next installment in Blizzard's action/RPG series (thanks PureDiablo). This covers skills & talents, the sorceress enchantment system, and the endgame progression system, offering screenshots including a couple of animated gifs. Here's an overview from game director Luis Barriga:
Hello, and welcome to a new installment of our quarterly Diablo IV developer updates. We enjoyed hearing your thoughts on our last blog and have followed many of the discussions it kicked off within the community. It’s very encouraging for us to hear that you appreciate the steady update cadence and the behind-the-scenes looks at our early work. We’re also excited by all the positive reactions we’re seeing to the art, cinematics, and the addition of open-world gameplay to the Diablo franchise. The team has pored over a lot of constructive feedback regarding the current direction of itemization, and we’re looking to give you an update on items later in the year. Some of the progress we’ve made will speak directly to the questions we’ve seen raised in the community, so stay tuned!

I couldn’t be more excited to share the details in today’s update! Our Lead Systems Designer, David Kim, will take us on a deep dive into the ins and outs of the new Skills and Talent systems. We are currently playtesting the new systems, and the early feedback is super promising. I hope you enjoy it, and as always, we’ll be following conversations on our forums as well as other community sites.

Focus Home Interactive and Flying Wild Hog Partnership

Publisher Focus Home Interactive and developer Flying Wild Hog announce a partnership for what they call the Polish studio's "most ambitious game to date." Shadow Warrior developer Flying Wild Hog announced a collaboration with publisher Jagex just last month, and it's not clear if there's any relationship between these two bits of news. Here's what they say:
Focus Home Interactive is pleased to welcome Flying Wild Hog among its partner studios. Based across three studios in Poland, the studio is best known for their smash hit Shadow Warrior series. Bringing over ten years of expertise in creating some of the most high-octane titles on the market, this collaboration sees the studio developing their most ambitious game to date.

“Focus Home Interactive is the perfect partner for Flying Wild Hog,” said Michal Szustak, CEO at Flying Wild Hog. “We both share a love for creating unique, exciting worlds filled with crazy gameplay. We also deeply care for quality and creativity. Focus's team supports us not only with great trust for our vision, but also helps us to forge that vision into an outstanding game. We are sure that our partnership will bloom into an amazing experience for players around the world. Fans of original action games can expect quite a surprise!”

“We at Focus have a directive to bring exciting and innovative games to the market, and with their upcoming title, we know Flying Wild Hog will reach the objectives we have on all of our projects, in terms of both quality and originality,” said John Bert, COO at Focus Home Interactive. “We’re enthusiastic to be working with this professional team, who are masters in the art of creating spectacular, action-packed games.”

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Podcast and Story Trailer

Ubisoft offers a new Story Trailer for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, the upcoming Viking installment in the action series. They've also launched a new podcast series for the game. Here's word:
Today, Ubisoft released a new Assassin’s Creed® Valhalla story trailer and a new podcast documentary series, Echoes of Valhalla, that gives insight into Viking stories and highlights the historical inspiration behind the game.

The story trailer offers players a new glimpse of Eivor, a fierce Viking raider torn between their duty to their brother Sigurd and a personal quest for glory. Driven from Norway by endless wars and dwindling resources, Eivor’s clan must secure a future among the kingdoms of England. During their journey, Eivor will face powerful figures including Saxon kings and the warmongering sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, as well as a mysterious, growing threat bound to England’s destiny.
Continue here to read the full story.

Bartlow's Dread Machine Released

Bartlow's Dread Machine is now available for Windows and Xbox One, offering a twin-stick shooter set inside an old-timey arcade machine. Here's the Launch Trailer and here's word on the game:
Set entirely within the confines of this titular relic from the dawn of the Electric Age, Bartlow’s Dread Machine casts one to two players as government agents in a series of escapades through New York, San Francisco, and all across the continent as they seek to rescue the kidnapped President Roosevelt from the forces of evil. But beware, sinister forces are at work!

Bound to the clockwork gizmos running this contraption, agents are mere metal figurines roving around on rails. But these aren’t any ordinary tin toys as they have free rein on how to navigate these forking networks of tracks. Think Pac-Man if he were made of metal, wore a cool peacoat, and was packing some serious heat! Sets made of wood and tin unfold around you in real-time as you navigate this immersive puppet show. Encounter a cast of improbable monsters and historical characters as you traverse the high seas and beyond using trains, ships and even a newfangled automobile!

Bartlow’s Dread Machine features a wealth of content with 6 worlds, 52 guns, and all manner of outfits to deck out your gumshoe. Unlock unique spins on historical characters, like Zombie General Custer, Nikola Tesla, Annie Oakley. Plus the drop-in / drop-out couch co-op contains per-player difficulty, allowing each player to set the challenge level to their preference.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Sojourn Released

The Sojourn has completed its development journey, and this Windows first-person puzzle game is now available on and Steam. This is also available on Steam as a Digital Deluxe Edition: "This release is accompanied by an exclusive Digital Deluxe Edition which contains a never-before-seen playable prototype of Equilibrium - AKA The Sojourn early in development. Beyond this, players will also receive two PDF books of art, designs and screenshots from both titles. The game's original soundtrack by composer Nemo Ghasemi will be available to buy separately and with the Deluxe Edition as part of a further discounted Gold Pack." A look at the game in action can be found in the Release Trailer and some details can be found below:
The Sojourn is a first-person puzzle game set in an immersive colour-drenched world of light and darkness. Think your way through dozens of puzzles as you traverse parallel worlds, awaken mysterious artefacts and overcome challenging obstacles on an unforgettable journey.


  • Dozens-upon-dozens of challenging puzzles
  • Delve into four beautifully crafted chapters, each with their own distinct style and atmosphere
  • Banish the darkness in order to reveal the obstacles The Sojourn has prepared for you
  • Unravel a captivating tale of light, darkness, and the nature of reality

Continue here to read the full story.

9th Dawn III: Shadow of Erthil Next Week

9th Dawn III: Shadow of Erthil is an open-world RPG/dungeon crawler coming to Windows, consoles, and mobile on October 6th. In an unusual twist, this also includes a collectible card game, but this is a separate element. They say: "Need a break? You can put your adventuring on hold and take a breather by enjoying Fyued – a robust card game played throughout the game world with 180 collectible cards." Here's a bit on the RPG side of things: "9th Dawn III is a huge 2D open world RPG and “collect-a-thon” dungeon crawler packed full of adventure, allowing you to explore dungeons filled with more than 270 unique monsters – and enough treasure, loot, and rare materials to last a lifetime. There are also 1,400 uniquely drawn items to collect – including more than 300 weapons and 550 armor types and accessories!" The PC edition is coming to Steam and you can get a look at it in action in this release date trailer. Here's a feature list:

  • Huge seamless open world full of dungeons, crypts, forts, and villages.
  • Enormous amounts of loot, collectibles, and customizable gear.
  • Fyued – an in-depth card game with 180 collectible cards to collect from NPCs.
  • Monster collecting and leveling-up mechanics; 10+ monsters per character can be used to fight alongside you!
  • Full orchestral soundtrack.
  • Craft to create and customize weapons/armor, go fishing and make food, collect gems to create epic jewelry – and much more!
Continue here to read the full story.

Cat President 2: Purrlitical Revolution Next Month

Cat President 2: Purrlitical Revolution is a quick trip to crazyland coming quickly enough, as this visual novel is to be released on October 13th on Steam. Here's a teaser trailer and here's word on this catty take on the catty world of politics:
In a world where talking cats control the U.S. government, President DJ Nibbles is running for re-election—and you've been hired to stop him at all costs. Who cares that you're a random ride-share driver who didn't even know an election was happening. That doesn't mean you can't run the purrfect campaign!

Can you handle the world of Presidential politics? Do you even know what a campaign manager does? Will you find love or heartbreak with your candidate? Leading the purrlitical revolution is up to you!
Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

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Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: A Throwback Beer Returns to New York. I'm actually terribly unhappy, as I loved it like it was. Thanks Neutronbeam.

PC Spelunky 2 Released

Spelunky 2 is now available for Windows on Steam, offering the Windows edition of this sequel to Mossmouth's roguelike platformer. Word is: "Spelunky returns in this greatly-expanded sequel to the original roguelike platformer! Meet the next generation of explorers as they find themselves on the Moon, searching for treasure and missing family. Spelunky 2 builds upon the unique, randomized challenges that made the original a classic, offering a huge adventure designed to satisfy players old and new." Here's how this differs from the original Spelunky:
Key Features, Summarized:

  • A Bigger World with all new areas, monsters, traps, and items!
  • An Extra Dimension is added by allowing players to access a second layer behind the normal playfield. The second layer might contain treasure rooms, hidden passages, and other special places.
  • Multiple Routes Through the Game will add variety and give players more ways to personalize a run.
  • Find and Ride Mounts (like turkeys!) that have special abilities. Enemies may ride mounts, as well!
  • New NPCs that you can help, hurt, or ignore… to make each run feel even more like a unique story.
  • Variations and Changes to Classic Spelunky Concepts like shops and ghosts that will make veteran players rethink their strategies.
  • Improved Liquid Physics allow water and lava to move and pour realistically, which drastically affects the playfield (and looks cool)
  • Deadly Poison and Curses can be inflicted on players and enemies alike.
  • Build a Permanent Home at Base Camp as you do runs and explore the caves.
  • Improved Lighting and Special Effects are paired with richer visual and audio design.
  • Deeper Mysteries that may require a community effort to unravel.
  • Possibly More Eggplants

Torchlight III Next Month

Publisher Perfect World Entertainment announces Torchlight III will exit Early Access on October 13th, when developer Echtra Games' installment in the action/RPG franchise will be officially released. "The full release of Torchlight III wouldn’t have been possible without all of the incredible work from the entire Echtra team and our excellent community of Early Access players," said Max Schaefer, CEO of Echtra Games and co-founder of the Torchlight franchise. "We’ve put our heart into this new adventure and it has been awesome getting so much support from players while the game has been in live development. With the significant changes we’ve made throughout Torchlight III’s journey in Early Access, we have done our best to meaningfully integrate players’ feedback as much as possible into the game as we march toward launch. Next month, we can’t wait to welcome all players to the Frontier!" If you're still carrying a torch for the series, here are the details:
Torchlight III will feature all of Torchlight’s signature mechanics, including satisfying hack- and-slash combat, a charming and vibrant world, online 4-player cooperative multiplayer and offline single-player, and the beloved pet system that captured the hearts of ARPG fans. This grand adventure will also introduce new features, such as three epic acts, unique Relic subclasses, fully customizable forts, a challenging end-game experience “Fazeer Shah’s Dun-Djinn”, the multi-tiered progression system “Contracts” that lets players earn Fame and unlock elite items, along with a myriad of quests and boss battles across randomly-generated areas filled with epic loot drops.

In Torchlight III, it’s been a century since the events of Torchlight II, where the great heroes of old defeated The Dark Alchemist and sealed the Netherlord’s heart inside the Clockwork Core. The heroes brought peace to the world of Novastraia, but now the Ember Empire finds itself on the brink of collapse as it’s under threat of invasion by the Netherim and its allies. To save Novastraia, Torchlight III players will need to gather their wits and brave the frontier in search of fame, glory and new adventures to become the legends the world needs them to be.
Continue here to read the full story.

Elite Dangerous: Horizons Goes Free Next Month

Frontier Developments announces the content of the Horizons seasonal expansion will come to Elite Dangerous on October 27th as a free update for the space exploration and combat game. They plan to offer the game at a discount, allowing new players to get in on this, and to pave the way for the release of the game's upcoming Odyssey expansion. Here's the plan:
Frontier Developments plc (AIM: FDEV) announced today a major free update for the long running space epic, Elite Dangerous. The rich season of content Horizons will be folded into the base game for free for all Elite Dangerous owners on 27 October. Players will receive the complete Horizons experience via a free update to Elite Dangerous on PC, the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, and the Xbox One all-in-one games and entertainment system. Players who previously purchased Horizons will receive an exclusive Azure paint job compatible with all 41 ships currently in game.

Elite Dangerous: Horizons brings planetary landings to the Elite Dangerous galaxy, together with weapon crafting, ship-launched fighters and exhilarating multicrew co-op action. This premium expansion also allows players to put wheels on the ground and explore the galaxy up-close with the SRV Scarab ground vehicle, and access to many surface star ports and other locations.
Continue here to read the full story.

RTX 3090 Launches Thursday

NVIDIA announces their top-of-the-line RTX 3090 cards will arrive on Thursday, calling them "BFGPU"s intended for creators, researchers and extreme gamers. Here's what they say this means to gaming enthusiasts:
For gamers pushing the limits, the GeForce RTX 3090 is also the first GPU that lets you connect, play, capture, and watch in 8K HDR. That’s an insane 4x the pixels of 4K and 16x the pixels of 1080p.

For 4K gaming, the GeForce RTX 3090 is about 10-15% faster on average than the GeForce RTX 3080, and up to 50% faster than the TITAN RTX.

Since we built GeForce RTX 3090 for a unique group of users, like the TITAN RTX before it, we want to apologize upfront that this will be in limited supply on launch day. We know this is frustrating, and we’re working with our partners to increase the supply in the weeks to come.

Xbox Game Pass EA Play and Bethesda Plans Detailed

Xbox Wire announces that the promised integration of EA Play into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate begins on November 10th on the Xbox and in December for subscribers on PC. They also offer details on the addition of Bethesda's games to the service following Microsoft's recent acquisition of Bethesda parent ZeniMax:
EA Play Coming This Holiday
Earlier this month we announced that we’ve teamed up with Electronic Arts to provide Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PC members an EA Play membership at no additional cost. Today I’m announcing that starting November 10, EA Play will be available on Xbox consoles, including Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and beginning in December, members with an Ultimate or PC subscription will be able to download and play games from the EA Play library on Windows 10 PCs.* That means we will have a whole new collection of games coming your way on console and PC, and that some of the best EA Play games will also be available for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play on Android devices via the cloud.

Bringing Bethesda Games to Xbox Game Pass
As we shared, Bethesda were early supporters of Xbox Game Pass, and we will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, coming to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios and Doom Eternal, which is coming to Xbox Game Pass on October 1 and for PC later in 2020.

Fishing: North Atlantic Next Month

Misc Games announces an October 16th release date for Fishing: North Atlantic, their upcoming deepwater fishing simulation. This sequel to Fishing: Barents Sea was previously intended to arrive last month, but it apparently sailed off-course at some point. "All summer long we’ve been detangling the lines, polishing hooks and swabbing the decks (well, in our studio) in preparation for the launch of Fishing: North Atlantic," said Yasemin Hamurcu from Misc Games. "We are pleased to announce today that we are finally adding those last few finishing touches and ready to declare open season on the most realistic fishing sim out there!" Here's a new trailer celebrating the news, and here's the line:
Experience the thrill of deep sea commercial fishing as you navigate your own rig through turbulent waters, featuring new weather systems with upgraded atmospheric effects and all new fishing methods such as harpooning and deep-line-buoy fishing in search of the ocean’s gold. Stepping into the role of captain on one of 25 handcrafted fishing vessels you must use GPS and sonar to follow the movement of your elusive prey, equipped with advanced fish-AI, through dynamic fish habitats that can change depending on weather conditions and water temperature. Start with reeling in swordfish and tuna and work your way up to setting crab pots to catch snow crabs and lobster, all the while minding your quotas and dealing with market price fluctuations that will either allow you to upgrade your operation or sink your career! Life as a deep sea fishing captain has never been this authentic - or dry!
Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Cardpocalypse and New DLC Next Month

Publisher Versus Evil and developer Gambrinous announce the Epic Games Store exclusivity of Cardpocalypse will end next month, saying this card-based RPG will come to Steam on October 12th. The occasion will marked by the release of a new DLC pack for the game called Out of Time. Here's an Out of Time Trailer and here are the details:
Gambrinous, an award-winning independent game studio, and games publisher Versus Evil, today announced that their role-playing card game Cardpocalypse will be coming to Steam in October. Cardpocalypse is set in elementary school in the 1990’s and is a single player RPG game about Jess, a 10 year old kid who manages to get everyone's favorite card game banned on her first day at school. Players have an opportunity to custom build their own decks as they explore Dudsdale Elementary on a mission to defeat the invading mutants that have made it from the game over to the real world.

Steam users will now get the opportunity to build, trade, earn and wager as they manipulate their card decks, changing rules and permanently altering cards on their way to victory and becoming a Mega Mutant Power Pets master, the base game also comes with free DLC in the form of the rogue-like-inspired Gauntlet Mode.

In addition to its arrival on Steam, Cardpocalypse is also introducing a brand new DLC pack day and date. Out of Time brings a whole new standalone campaign to Cardpocalypse. The sinister Tock hurls Jess into a time loop, forcing her to relive the same school day over and over. Jess joins forces with Bloop, a brand new Champion card she discovers in her pocket, and together they set about escaping the time loop and saving the world. Cardpocalypse: Out of Time features the voice over talents of Irish actor Liam Cunningham, Game of Thrones, Dog Soldiers, War Horse.
Continue here to read the full story.

Crusader Kings III Patch and Stats

Paradox Interactive now offers a new patch for Crusader Kings III, updating the medieval strategy sequel to version 1.1. This includes bug fixes, historical setup corrections, balance changes, user interface tweaks, improved AI, modding enhancements, and more. All the details can be found in these patch notes. They accompany the news with some statistics from the 25 million hours players have invested into the game:
Lords and Ladies of the realm have spent over 25 million hours playing Crusader Kings III to date, equaling more than 2,800 years of in-game playtime. Within those hours, there have been:

  • 40,591,268 children born
  • 18,212,157 successful murder schemes executed
  • 4,364,279 betrothals
  • 1,543,790 prisoners cannibalized
  • Including at least one Pope...
  • 1,451,427 holy wars started
  • 716,369 stress breaks
  • 370,305 pets petted
  • 141,597 universities founded
  • 122,364 escapes from prison
  • 29,454 Roman Empires restored

Minecraft Patent Lawsuit

Worlds Incorporated has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft over the technology in Minecraft. The company describes itself as "a leading intellectual property developer and licensee of patents related to 3D online virtual worlds," which would make lawsuits one of the primary products they manufacture. They say Minecraft infringes on U.S. Patent No. 8,082,501, titled "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space," which they call the "’501 Patent" for short. Word is this is not their first rodeo in going after game companies with this IP. Here's the 411 on 501 and the legal action:
The ’501 Patent was previously asserted against Activision Blizzard, Inc., though that litigation was temporarily suspended after the patent’s validity was challenged in 2015 in an inter partes review petition filed by Bungie, Inc. with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The defense of the ’501 Patent included a trip to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Court (CAFC), where Worlds’ legal team, led by Wayne M. Helge of Davidson, Berquist, Jackson & Gowdey, LLP (DBJG), convinced the CAFC that the PTAB had applied an incorrect test as part of its analysis. Finally, on January 14, 2020, the ’501 Patent emerged from the inter partes review process with all claims intact.

“Our expert legal team at DBJG defended the ’501 Patent before the PTAB, and convinced the CAFC to reverse and remand unfavorable PTAB decisions against Worlds’ patents," stated Thom Kidrin, Worlds Inc. CEO. “The CAFC’s ruling instructed the PTAB to reconsider the methods it used to evaluate the relationship between Activision and Bungie, and provided strong guidance on the rules to follow on remand. In January of this year, the PTAB dismissed all of Bungie’s challenges against the ’501 Patent. Then in April, Worlds successfully convinced the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts to lift the stay on Worlds’ active litigation against Activision, and that case is now proceeding toward trial. Meanwhile, Worlds asserted another of its patents against Linden Lab’s “Second Life” product. Bringing this latest case against Microsoft is the next step in our ongoing process of enforcing Worlds’ intellectual property rights against companies that have been using our proprietary technology.”

Out of the Blue

As many of you noticed, I managed to mangle up the front news page for a bit yesterday. I added an incorrect date-stamp to the news stories that I posted, which buried them back in the news from 2002. When I noticed the error, I corrected the internal date in Blammo, which brought the stories forward properly to the front page. But I failed to update another date generated by the database when they were first posted. So while they appeared as the most recent stories, they still showed the 2002 year. Thankfully Frans stepped in and brought us back the future. Great Scott!

Retro Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

Breakfast Link




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