Archived News:

Thursday, Nov 19, 2020 Half-Life's Anniversary (1998)

Get Elite Dangerous and The World Next Door for Free

The Epic Games Store now offers this week's promised free games, so you can now take off in Elite Dangerous and/or visit The World Next Door at no cost. As always, these are yours to keep if you snag them over the coming seven days. After that, their new giveaway will begin, which will be MudRunner. In case you need to be sold on freebies, here's the sales pitch for the gratis games:
Take control of your own starship in a cutthroat galaxy. Elite Dangerous is the definitive massively multiplayer space epic, bringing gaming’s original open world adventure to the modern generation with an evolving narrative and the entirety of the Milky Way.

A mix of lightning-fast puzzle battles, powerful storytelling, and immersive visual novel elements, The World Next Door follows Jun, a rebellious teen trapped in a parallel realm inhabited by magical creatures, who must find her way home before time runs out.

Fortnite Streaming Back onto iOS

The NVIDIA Blog has a confirmation of previous indications that Fortnite is returning to Apple iPhones, as it will be playable in the Safari Browser via the GeForce NOW streaming service. The game was dumped from the App Store as part of the royalty dispute between Epic and Apple, but a way to stream the game bypasses the App Store entirely. NVIDIA announces that GeForce NOW members can now play PC games on the iPhone and iPad, and soon Fortnite will be one of them, as soon as they work out allowing the game to support touch controls:

Alongside the amazing team at Epic Games, we’re working to enable a touch-friendly version of Fortnite, which will delay availability of the game. While the GeForce NOW library is best experienced on mobile with a gamepad, touch is how over 100 million Fortnite gamers have built, battled and danced their way to Victory Royale.

We’re looking forward to delivering a cloud-streaming Fortnite mobile experience powered by GeForce NOW. Members can look for the game on iOS Safari soon.

Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay and Soundtrack Videos

Night City Wire- Episode 5 is the promised fifth video preview for Cyberpunk 2077. This offers a lot on the Johnny Silverhand character and the participation of actor Keanu Reeves in bringing him to life in the game. They also discuss the musical score in the sci-fi RPG and the now have a playlist of songs from the original soundtrack. There's also a new Official Gameplay Trailer to show off more action from the highly anticipated project. Here's more on that clip:
The video features over 5 minutes of in-game footage thrusting gamers deep into the most dangerous megalopolis of the year 2077 — Night City. Never-before-seen interactions and action scenes are shown, revealing details about the story, as well as characters — including their backgrounds and motivations. In addition to discussing the primary objective of the game’s protagonist, the up and coming cyber-enhanced mercenary going by the name V, part of the trailer is also devoted to giving players a fresh glimpse into character development and some of the side activities they will be able to indulge in.
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Shenmue III on GOG.com and Steam

The Windows edition of Shenmue III is now available on GOG.com and Steam, following the game's exclusive run on the Epic Games Store, which began exactly one year ago today. To celebrate the occasion, the game and its DLC are currently on sale for up to 66% off. Here's the dope on YS Net's latest installment in the action/adventure series:
Journey deep into rural China as you take on the role of Ryo Hazuki, a Japanese teenager hellbent on finding his father’s killer. Shenmue is the story of adventure, mystery, friendship, martial arts, and ultimately - revenge.

Key Features:

One of the most anticipated video games in history, from legendary game developer, Yu Suzuki.

  • Epic Adventure – Immerse yourself in the stunning and magical world of Shenmue
  • Breathing, Living World – Explore inside and outside buildings, take on part-time jobs, play arcade games, and interact with local inhabitants of beautiful Chinese locales
  • Martial Arts Action – Put your training and upgraded skills to the test via intense free battles and Quick Time Events
  • Solve the Mystery – Converse with a colorful and diverse cast of characters and follow leads from those who hold the answers to the mysterious Phoenix Mirror…
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Trine 4 Melody of Mystery Released

Melody of Mystery is now available GOG.com, the Humble Store*, and Steam, providing an expansion for Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince (*Blue's News may receive a commission on sales of this item). This is a new campaign for the action/adventure that's shown off in this Launch Trailer and explained below:
Trine 4: Melody of Mystery is a 6-level story campaign that continues the travels of Amadeus, Pontius, and Zoya. The new adventure features more upgrades for the heroes' skills, and fresh puzzles with clever gameplay elements for our heroes to take on.
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Super Buckyball Tournament Preseason

Super Buckyball Tournament Preseason is now underway on Steam, offering the chance to sample this upcoming Windows action/strategy game for free between now and December 6th. Here's an Official Launch Trailer with a look, and here is an explanation of this 3v3 esports game from My Time at Portia developer Pathea Games:
In addition to the six characters, two stadiums and mission system featured during the game’s open alpha earlier this year, preseason content will include new challenger Samba, two Arcade modes (Dodgeball mode and Mayhem mode), a new lobby, in-game background music, a comprehensive collection of skins (which includes accessories and player icons), and a season pass with 60 levels. Fans will be able to level up their season pass by completing daily and weekly challenges and earning special rewards.
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Warhammer: Vermintide 2 Outcast Engineer Career Released

The Outcast Engineer Career DLC is now available on Steam, offering new content for Warhammer: Vermintide 2, the Windows melee combat sequel. Here's an Outcast Engineer Career Trailer you can shake like a Polaroid picture. Here's more on the new career:
Dwarfs are tradition-minded people, trusting the wisdom of their ancestors and their aged longbeards rather than any new ideas or innovation. Their traditionalism carries through to everything dwarfs do, including their engineering, and perhaps as a result dwarfs are the finest engineers in the world - just ask any dwarf.
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Gatherings & Competitions

Project 007 Announced

Interactive announces Project 007 is the project they teased yesterday. As the name suggests, this is centered around Bond, James Bond, the iconic MI6 super-spy of books and movies. They say the game is currently in active development, and while they don't go into too much detail, they say it will be an origin story for the character. The Teaser Trailer is a nothingburger, though it does feature the classic James Bond theme song. Here's what they are revealing for now:
It’s Bond, James Bond, coming to a console and computer screen near you. IO Interactive, in collaboration with MGM, EON Productions and Delphi announced today that they are developing and publishing the very first James Bond origin story with the working title Project 007. Project 007 will feature a wholly original Bond story exclusively as a video game.

Over the last two decades, IO Interactive has created, developed and published multiple award-winning titles in the stealth and espionage video game genre, including the acclaimed Hitman franchise. Project 007 will be powered by IO Interactive’s proprietary Glacier technology. The game will be made for modern systems and platforms.
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Marvel's Avengers Operation: Kate Bishop Next Month

SQUARE ENIX announces that Operation: Kate Bishop will go into full effect on December 8th, offering the first post-release content for Marvel's Avengers. Here's a WAR TABLE Deep Dive video that accompanies the news, and here's more on the new playable character and new campaign this will bring to the superheroic action/adventure:
Today, SQUARE ENIX® announced that the first new playable Super Hero for Marvel’s Avengers will launch as part of Operation: Kate Bishop – Taking AIM on December 8, 2020. In addition to a new playable Super Hero in Kate Bishop and the new chapter in the game’s ongoing Avengers Initiative story, Marvel’s Avengers Operation: Kate Bishop – Taking AIM will also introduce a powerful new villain, the Super Adaptoid, that will challenge players with a combination of skills and weaponry that mimic the Avengers’ attacks.

The lead-up to Taking AIM began with enigmatic new Tachyon missions that started appearing on players’ in-game War Tables several weeks ago. In Taking AIM, Kate Bishop, master archer and skilled gymnast, resurfaces after her investigation of Nick Fury’s disappearance following A-Day leads to her mentor Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) going missing as well. As she unravels the mystery behind the sudden appearance of the time-warping Tachyon Rifts, she uncovers a twisted new plan from AIM, which pushes her to work with the Avengers once again.

Taking AIM’s story begins shortly after the conclusion of Marvel’s Avengers’ Reassemble campaign and is just the first half of the two Hawkeyes’ Story Arc. Clint Barton’s Hawkeye will then take the stage in early 2021 to complete the double-feature and lay the groundwork for what’s next in the Avengers Initiative.
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Total War: WARHAMMER II Twisted & The Twilight DLC Next Month

Creative Assembly announces a new Twisted & The Twilight pack for Total War: WARHAMMER II that will come to the fantasy strategy game on December 3rd. They say this will come along some free content for all owners of the game. They say this "free-LC" is yet-to-be announced, and it's not clear if it's among the freebies teased in this recent post. You can see a bit of Twisted & The Twilight in the Announce Trailer. They say the pack is now available for preorder with a 10% discount, and while the listing isn't live yet, it will probably show up soon. All there is to know about this can be found in this FAQ, and here's more on the plan:
THE TWISTED & THE TWILIGHT Lords Pack introduces two new Legendary Lords to Total War: WARHAMMER II, with the abominable Throt The Unclean facing off against the earthly Sisters of Twilight. These characters welcome in new and unique campaign and faction mechanics, as well as a multitude of ruinous warriors and beasts such as Zoats, Great Stag Knights, Wolf Rats, Pack Masters and more.

THE TWISTED & THE TWILIGHT also includes some yet-to-be announced Free-LC to all players of Total War: WARHAMMER II. Not only that, but we are also giving a little extra back to our fans who have joined us on this perilous journey through the Warhammer world. More information about this can be found within the FAQ linked below.
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Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead Released

Mind the gap! Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead is now available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch (a PlayStation 5 edition is on the way). The PC editions can be found on GOG.com, Epic Games Store, Steam. This combines the puzzle/building of the Bridge Constructor series with the post-apocalyptic horror of The Walking Dead, or as Samuel L. Jackson might put it, "I've had it with these motherf**king zombies on this motherf**king bridge!" The game carries a 10% launch discount as well as a loyalty bonus for owners of other Bridge Constructor games. The latest Official Gameplay Trailer takes a look, and here's more:
Join a group of survivors as they fight against hordes of undead walkers and a hostile human community. Build bridges and other constructions through bleak landscapes and ruined structures.

Team up with fan-favourite characters like Daryl, Michonne and Eugene, and create safe passage for iconic vehicles from the series. Use movable level objects, explosives and baits to your advantage as you lure walkers into lethal traps and guide your survivors to safety. Enjoy the physics-based frenzy and ragdoll animations as walkers succumb to the forces of gravity.

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PAC-MAN Entering Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame

BANDAI NAMCO announces that PAC-MAN is to be inducted into the Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame (MCHOF). We assume you're saying, "but PAC-MAN isn't a comic book character, but that is probably a secondary thought after you're done asking, "there's a Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame?" Word is the big yellow pill-popper is the first ever video game character to receive this obscure honor. The envelope please:
Born on May 22, 1980, PAC-MAN immediately rose to meteoric popularity, first in video game arcades, then on the pop culture stage, and later through an array of branding and entertainment appearances throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With a worldwide brand recognition rate of 90%, PAC-MAN continues to be one of the most recognized images and brands on the planet. Featuring a simple pick-up-and-play yet challenging-to-master gameplay design, PAC-MAN was created to buck the trend of arcade games that were commonly designed to attract male players. Instead, PAC-MAN was created to appeal to both male and female players and to be appropriate for players of all ages. These core design principles contributed to making PAC-MAN the family-friendly character he is today and delivering on his goal of bringing more fun to everyone no matter their gender or age.

The MCHOF induction process will comprise of multiple parts, starting with a character tribute dedicated to PAC-MAN’s 40-year history through exclusive online content as well as an award and online induction ceremony. The many creators and developers who have contributed to PAC-MAN’s status as an icon will also be recognized and honored. PAC-MAN fans will also be part of the celebration as commemorative T-shirts and pins will be made available and they can participate in virtual museum experiences.

Out of the Blue

Man! It's still autumn, but it's getting awfully wintery around here these days. The past couple of mornings have been around 20℉, so someone's getting a lot of January into my November. It's supposed to be much warmer tomorrow, but this just reminds me that I'm not actually going anywhere these days, so I'm not sure what I'm complaining about.

Anyway, today is this week's second Half-Life anniversary, as the original game is 22 years-old today. Happy birthday Gordon. They're waiting for you... in the test-chamber.

Obituary: Bobby Brown Jr., the son of singer Bobby Brown, dies at 28.

Chilly Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020

The Game Awards Nominees

The Game Awards Website has all the nominees for next month's awards show. They offer everyone the chance to vote on their picks. Word is: "The Game Awards, the video game industry’s biggest annual year-end celebration, today announced its 2020 nominees with The Last Of Us Part II, Hades and Ghost of Tsushima leading nominations. Highlighting the games from the past year that truly transformed entertainment, created camaraderie and community and pushed the envelope on innovation, this year’s diverse list of nominees includes 95 different games, individuals and teams spanning across a multitude of gaming genres and platforms. The nominees will be honored during the free digital livestreamed event on December 10, which will be available across more than 45 global video platforms." Here's are the nominees for Game of the Year:
Game of the Year

  • Doom Eternal - id Software/Bethesda
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake - Square Enix
  • Ghost of Tsushima - Sucker Punch/SIE
  • Hades - Supergiant Games
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Nintendo
  • The Last of Us Part II - Naughty Dog/SIE

Realpolitiks II Early Access

Those who haven't had enough of real politics or Realpolitiks are in luck, as Early Access to Realpolitiks II is now underway on GOG.com and Steam. You can get a 10% discount off your campaign contribution if you elect to buy this over the first week. This includes a revamped combat system and a new modding tool to allow players to create their own content. The Early Access Trailer offers a look, and this description outlines what to expect:
Experience classic grand-strategy set in modern times in Realpolitiks II where you lead any contemporary nation in an attempt to secure world dominance. The road to supremacy is filled with modern world issues as you manage your nation’s economy, command armies, conduct diplomatic and espionage actions, and tackle global threats such as terrorism, pandemics, famine, and more.
Continue here to read the full story.

Interstellar Space: Genesis Gets Natural Law DLC

Natural Law is now available on Steam, offering the new DLC for Interstellar Space: Genesis, the 4X strategy game from Praxis Games set in space, where no one can hear you point out that all four of those X words start with "e." This comes along with a version 1.2 update for the base game, but users are warned that previous saved games are not compatible with the new patch. This post has the recent Natural Law Trailer along with the complete version 1.2 patch notes. Here they lay down some Natural Law:
For far too long, the desires of the galaxy lay ignored, neglected by its so-called most intelligent and advanced species. Little did they know that while the galaxy's demands may be delayed, they will not be so easily subdued. There is a natural order, an ordained path it longs to take, and there are laws far greater than their own that must be fully obeyed. Against near impossible odds, two newcomers arise, alleged champions for their cause, both of whom ready and willing to right that which they feel has gone wrong.

Expansion Overview
This expansion features 2 new races, each fully equipped with unique new capabilities which are also usable by custom races. It also includes 9 new fully animated ruler options, 4 new music tracks, and 4 new leaders!
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Epic Sues Apple in AU

Sydney Morning Herald has the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the court battle between Epic Games and Apple over Fortnite royalties in the App Store, whether Apple has a monopoly and all that jazz (thanks GamesIndustry.biz). The new action sees Epic stating the situation represents a violation of Australian consumer law:
Epic has long complained that the 30 per cent cut Apple takes on all payments made through its platform is too high. In August Fortnite, which brought in revenues of $US1.8 billion ($2.5 billion) in 2019, was removed from Apple's iPhone App Store when Epic insisted on including its own direct payment option at a 20 per cent discount. Epic subsequently sued Apple in California.

Now in its Australian filing, Epic claims Apple is breaching Australian consumer law by preventing competition in its iPhone ecosystem for payment processing and app downloads.
Continue here to read the full story.

Sea of Thieves November Update

The November Update for Sea of Thieves is now available, updating the Windows edition of the multiplayer pirate game with new content. As noted in this post on Steam this is a smaller update than usual, but they also outline bigger changes that are in the pipeline:
We’ve been busy with more than the regular updates you’ve already experienced: we’re hard at work behind the scenes on some significant changes that will lead us into 2021, with plans in motion for how we continue supporting the game and some major news still to come. Sea of Thieves isn’t slowing down any time soon.

However, it does mean that we’ve had to slightly rethink our end-of-year updates to lay some groundwork and allow us to focus on things beyond the immediate future. So November’s update is more of a quality of life update, largely focused on bug fixes and improving the core Sea of Thieves experience for all players. However, we’ve made sure there’s still plenty to do in terms of events and in-game activities, extending some events and building on the success of others, while the Pirate Emporium team have also restocked the shelves with more of the endlessly creative things they’ve been working on.

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: 007 LIVE AND LET DIE - James Bond Revisited. Thanks Ant.

New AMD Drivers

Relevant to the news above, AMD Support now offers new version 20.11.2 Adrenalin 2020 Edition Windows drivers for AMD graphics cards. These are WHQL-certified, but listed as "optional." As noted below, these add support for the new graphics cards and the new World of Warcraft expansion:
Support For

  • Radeon™ RX 6800 Series
  • World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Added Vulkan® Support

  • VK_KHR_fragment_shading_rate
    • This extension provides the ability to change the shading rate per fragment. This extension allows for multiple pixels to be shaded via a single fragment shader invocation as opposed to the normal rate of one invocation per pixel.

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Embracer Group Embraces 13 New Acquisitions

Shopaholic game conglomerate Embracer Group announces no fewer than 13 new game companies they have purchased. This spree adds to an already overwhelming roster they boast includes six operative groups (THQ Nordic, Koch Media, Coffee Stain, Amplifier, Saber Interactive, and Deca), 46 studios, and over 190 franchises. This page has press releases with their latest financial reporting and more details on each of the following 13 new acquisitions:

IO Interactive Announcement Tomorrow

IO Interactive tweets the announcement of an announcement, saying they will reveal a new project on YouTube tomorrow at 9:00 am EST:
NEW PROJECT

JOIN US FOR THE REVEAL
NOVEMBER 19

6AM PT / 9AM ET / 3PM CET

youtube.com/iointeractive

Another Ubisoft Exec Removed

Kotaku reports that Hugues Ricour has been removed from his position as managing director of Ubisoft's Singapore studio where they are developing Skull and Bones. It is not clear if he is still with the company, and it is not stated whether this is related to the sexual harassment scandal at the company. They do note allegations of sexual harassment by Ricour are part of this Gamasutra report from August. They also say: "Sources Kotaku have spoken with over the last several months say that Ricour's management style and behavior at work was problematic, citing bullying, demeaning comments, and retaliatory action against those perceived to have stood up to him." They quote an internal Ubisoft email saying the move is the result of a "leadership audit":
"Effective immediately, Hugues Ricour is no longer Managing Director of Ubisoft Singapore," reads the email from Ubisoft chief studios operating officer, Virginie Haas, who took over that position in August amid the company’s ongoing MeToo reckoning. "The results of the leadership audit that was conducted in the last few weeks by our external partners makes it impossible for him to continue in this position."

Fortnite Gets Houseparty

Epic Games announces they've integrated Houseparty support into Fortnite, bringing video chat to their battle royale/survival game. Here are the details:
Beginning today, connect with your friends in Fortnite like never before. Whether you’re enjoying the latest in-game event or chasing an elusive Victory Royale, the new integration with the Houseparty app brings revolutionary video chat technology so that you can video chat with friends while playing Fortnite.

GET STARTED WITH VIDEO CHAT
Houseparty video chat will be available to Fortnite players on PC, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4. Players will also need an iOS or Android mobile device with the Houseparty app installed. With the app installed, connect your Houseparty account to your Epic Games account to get started.

As a bonus for linking your Epic and Houseparty accounts, you will unlock the Rainbow Fog Wrap.

Tinkertown Next Month

Headup announces a December 3rd release date for Tinkertown, the multiplayer sandbox game that's the first game they are developing in-house. The playable demo released during the summer is still available on Steam and they also plan to offer access to the full version via Steam's new Playtest feature next week. Here's a new "Once Upon A Tinkertown" Trailer, and here's more:
Tinkertown is a drop-in multiplayer game where players build, craft and explore an exuberant, procedurally generated open world, and discover dungeons filled with enemies, bosses and epic loot.

Play as a rogue, a warrior, a mage, or anyone you wish to be. Tinkertown offers a unique experience to all players based on the weapons and armour of their choice.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Game of Life 2 Announced

As you may already know, you can learn about life when you play The Game of Life. But since there's always more to learn, Marmalade Game Studio announces development of The Game of Life 2, a computer game based on the classic board game that's being redesigned from the ground-up. It is coming to Steam next month and there are also plans to release a Switch edition next year. A new trailer (which sadly does not make use of the catchy commercial theme of the board game) offers a look, and here is more about how this will differ from the first game:
The Game of Life 2 is a brand-new modern spin on the classic life simulation board game that players everywhere are know and love, but Marmalade has redesigned it from the ground-up to be more relevant and inclusive for today's players.

Getting rich and starting a family isn't the only way to win anymore. Players now have far more options for how to live out their lives - it's never too late to foster a small army of dogs, go get that diploma, or even pivot your career entirely and become a Youtube celebrity!
Continue here to read the full story.

Goop Loop Early Access

Early Access is now underway on Steam for Goop Loop, a puzzle platformer for Windows and Linux. This comes from Lone Wulf Studio, an appropriately named one-person studio. The developer notes this "is sort of in the spirit of something like Jump King or Getting Over It." The Early Access Launch Trailer offers a look, reminding us of Katamari Damacy taking on the myth of Sisyphus. Here's a description:
You're a piece of goop stuck in a loop. All you can do is jump and stick to make the loop roll using physics. You can aim your jump and have some air control, so it's a matter of being patient and clever in order to build up enough momentum to get over hills and other obstacles.

  • Roll the loop up hills, over gaps, and other obstacles.
  • Be encouraged/entertained/enraged by my narration as you attempt to reach the top.
  • Fall back down and lose a bunch of progress, probably.
  • Question your life choices.
  • Discover new goop colors.

Continue here to read the full story.

Fantasy Grounds Unity

Fantasy Grounds Unity is now available through the official website and Steam, offering another virtual tabletop platform for Windows, macOS, and Linux. This is a new version of Fantasy Grounds completely re-written in the Unity Engine. Here's a Launch Trailer and here's their pitch on why you should roll the dice on this:
Fantasy Grounds Unity offers a dynamic system for playing a host of different roleplaying games online. It is used by hundreds of thousands of gamers worldwide to connect and play popular games such as D&D™, Pathfinder™, Savage Worlds™, Call of Cthulhu™ among others. Today, Fantasy Grounds offers more official licenses than any other tabletop of its kind and the Unity release provides enhanced functionality for sound, map making, images, FX and networking. You can run games as a GM or partake as a player; everything you need is provided to communicate, manage campaign information and perform tasks such as rolling the dice or moving tokens around the gamemap. The Unity version is a replacement for the Classic version with numerous interface enhancements and full backwards compatibility with all data modules. Content can be moved from Classic to Unity with minimal effort, and the enhanced set of features in Unity makes the transition well worth the switch.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

As winter approached last year, our first in our new home, I anticipated that the waterfowl on the nearby pond would migrate south. To my surprise, the ducks and three swans never seemed to do this, though at some point late in the winter the lone cygnet did end up leaving, presumably to begin its adult life. So now I am equally surprised to see only two swans swimming about this morning. There had been five of them, a family that merged together when one swan was killed on the road. So I assumed this was three adults and two cygnets. I'm not sure if the three departures are permanent, and it's hard to logically figure out which ones left, but for now at least there's just a pair of them.

Obituary: ‘Jetman’ Who Flew Beside a Plane Dies While Training in Dubai. Thanks brother19.

Southbound Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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