Archived News:

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 Happy Birthday Qtest (1996)

BioWare Ends Anthem NEXT Project

An Anthem Update on the BioWare Blog announces that the efforts to save Anthem revealed a year ago will cease, and they are no longer working on the Anthem NEXT update to resurrect the multiplayer action/RPG. They do say the current version of Anthem will remain available. This means the report Bloomberg from a couple of weeks ago turned out to be accurate in predicting the company was in the process of deciding the game's fate. BioWare's Christian Dailey explains that the stress of working remotely during COVID-19 factored into the decision to give up on the game. He says BioWare's focus going forward will be the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect games while continuing support Star Wars: The Old Republic:
In the spirit of transparency and closure we wanted to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to stop our new development work on Anthem (aka Anthem NEXT). We will, however, continue to keep the Anthem live service running as it exists today.

Since Anthem’s launch, the team has been working hard to continually improve the game, releasing multiple updates that brought with them a variety of improvements and introduced new content to play. Towards the end of 2019 we expanded on that effort and started working on a more fundamental restructure of the game.

During the development we’ve provided updates revealing some of the team’s work through blog posts and conversations with you on social media and it’s been inspiring for us to see the positive reactions and feedback. I’ve been incredibly proud of the work the team has been doing, and excited to see and play each new build of the experience.

2020 was a year unlike any other however and while we continue to make progress against all our game projects at BioWare, working from home during the pandemic has had an impact on our productivity and not everything we had planned as a studio before COVID-19 can be accomplished without putting undue stress on our teams.
Continue here to read the full story.

Cyberpunk 2077 Patch Delayed

A series of tweets from CD PROJEKT RED announce that the release of the promised version 1.2 patch for Cyberpunk 2077 is delayed until the second half of next month. This is part of the Fallout of the recent breach that lead to the theft of the source code for the sci-fi RPG. According to Bloomberg's Jason Schreier that some employees remain unable to log into CDPR's network since the ransomware attack. Here's what the company says about it:
While we dearly wanted to deliver Patch 1.2 for Cyberpunk 2077 in the timespan we detailed previously, the recent cyber attack on the studio’s IT infrastructure and extensive scope of the update mean this unfortunately will not happen — we’ll need some additional time.

Our goal for Patch 1.2 goes beyond any of our previous updates. We’ve been working on numerous overall quality improvements and fixes, and we still have work to do to make sure that’s what you get. With that in mind, we’re now aiming for release in the second half of March.

It’s not the news we enjoy sharing, but we want to make sure we launch this update properly. Stay tuned for more information as the time draws closer. Thank you for your continued patience and support. 3/3

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos Released

Team17 is going rogue with the announcement that Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is now available for Windows on Steam as well as for Switch. This is a throwback action/adventure for one to four players that lives up to its title with some modern roguelite elements. The Launch Trailer takes a look at gameplay and you can experience it for yourself with the playable demo. Here's the pitch:
Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos takes players on a journey across the land of Tasos and into the depths of challenging, procedurally assembled dungeons located throughout the world. Gems earned during dungeon runs can be used to rebuild your home town of Intori, which in turn grants access to upgrades that can improve your warriors as well as unlocking other classes and equipment.

Players can help each other out in co-operative play, either locally or online, but those who take on the challenge will have their experiences tailored to them, with puzzles and challenges scaling depending on the number of players. Each hero can be customised, along with a selection of classes, all of which have their own abilities and benefits in gameplay, and players wanting a taste of the action can try a free demo on Steam and Nintendo Switch right now.
Continue here to read the full story.

On Steam Controller Support

A post on Steam explains how Valve is helping developers and publishers to better understand their audience by providing new reporting on what sort of controllers are being used in their games. This comes in a new Steamworks Sales & Activations dashboard for Steamworks partners. Here's a bit on the significance of controller support:
Let’s start with some figures for a sense of scale: 48 Million players have used a controller in a game on Steam, with about 10% of daily game sessions being played with a controller. Of course, that controller usage isn’t distributed evenly across all kinds of games. Many RTS games, are hard to play with a controller of any kind and tend to have a much smaller percentage of players using a controller (frequently below 1%). In contrast, many sports and fighting games see over 70% of sessions played with a controller, while racing and skating games can easily have over 90% of players using a controller. On the action and adventure fronts, most 3rd person adventure games see 40-50% of players using a controller, and the majority of FPS games are solidly in the range of 7-8%.

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: Tiny Baby Stoat Has The Best Reaction. Now everybody's going to want one!

Standalone Call of Duty Zombies Rumor

A tweet from Tom Henderson says a separate Call of Duty zombies game is in the works (thanks GameRant). Tom is an ongoing source of such details who has been called "credible" by no less credible source Reddit. Further support for the plausibility of his information can be inferred from the fact that his Twitter account was recently suspended for sharing Battlefield 6 information, so this comes from his new account. Here's word:
There is a separate Call of Duty zombies project in early development, that is currently not connected to any title.

Valheim Passes 4 Million Players

A post on Steam announces the meteoric success of Iron Gate's Viking survival game continues, as Valheim has now surpassed four million players just 22 days following its launch. Here's word:
When Valheim first hit Steam Early Access just three weeks ago, we hoped that all the hard work our small team put into the game these past three years would get the attention it deserved.

Little did we know just how much Valheim would resonate with all four million of you.

That’s right! Three weeks into Early Access, and we’ve hit another milestone, four million brave souls embarking on the most dangerous feat in over a thousand years of Viking history - trying to make Odin proud.
Continue here to read the full story.

Days Gone PC Features and Specs

A Steam Listing is now online for the just announced PC edition of Days Gone. They outline what to expect from this version of the action/adventure, as well as some PC-specific features: "PC features include ultra-wide monitor support, unlocked framerates and improved graphics (increased level of details, field of view, foliage draw distances)." They also outline the game's system requirements, which includes a recommendation of an SSD:
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

MINIMUM:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10 64-bits
Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K@3.3GHz or AMD FX 6300@3.5GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 (3 GB) or AMD Radeon R9 290 (4 GB)
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 70 GB available space
Additional Notes: SSD for storage and 16 GB of memory is recommended

RECOMMENDED:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10 64-bits
Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K@3.5GHz or Ryzen 5 1500X@3.5GHz
Memory: 16 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8 GB)
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 70 GB available space
Additional Notes: SSD for storage is recommended

Geneforge 1 – Mutagen Released

Geneforge 1 – Mutagen is now available, offering the latest fantasy RPG from indie developer Spiderweb Software. The Windows and macOS editions are available through the Epic Games Store, GOG.com, or Steam, and they promise an iPad version will come later this year. This complete remaster of Geneforge from 2001 was made possible by a Kickstarter that allowed them to expand upon the original. This trailer provides a look at the modernized edition of the game, which still maintains Spiderweb's throwback style, and if you want a hands-on sample, there's a playable demo on the Spiderweb Website. Here's the pitch:
Geneforge 1 – Mutagen is one of the most open-ended role-playing games available. Choose between a host of rival factions. Use magic or your deadly pets to crush your enemies. Or, use trickery, diplomacy, and stealth to win the game without ever attacking a foe. Destroy the final boss, or switch sides and join him. Fight alone or create your own army of custom-made mutant monsters.

In Geneforge 1 – Mutagen, enter the world of the Shapers. The Shapers are wizards with the awesome power to create life. Need a servant, or a pet, or a tool, or a mighty beast to fight and die for you? The Shapers create it, and it totally obeys you. Usually.
Continue here to read the full story.

PAYDAY 2 Gets Jiu Feng Smuggler Pack

A new Jiu Feng Smuggler Pack is now available on Steam for PAYDAY 2, the Windows and macOS heist sequel. This comes along with a version 203 update for the base game, and this post has the details on the DLC and a full changelog for the patch. Here's word on the pack:
San Francisco, a port that bridges between the east and the west and the home turf of the smuggler Jiu Feng. He brings a brand new DLC with lots of contraband that reflect this duality. He starts off his offer with 3 new weapons. The Mosconi 12G Tactical Shotgun, a powerful weapon when used up close and personal against any ill-advised opponent. The AK Gen 21 Tactical Submachine gun, one or two firearms, perfect firearm handling escalating situations abruptly and with a barrage of bullets. The Crosskill Chunky Compact Pistol one or two little get-out-of-trouble free cards to keep in your sleeve when the cops are after you and the neighbourhood is starting to look unfriendly.

However Jiu Feng is a business man and he knows a good business deal starts with a good offer so he brings even more to the table. 20 new weapon colors that take inspiration from both sides of the great ocean. He even has one extra weapon color for you that you will be able to try out right away for free.

Unity 2020 Gaming Benchmark Report

Unity announces the release of their 2020 Gaming Benchmark Report, saying this reveals how the pandemic changed player behaviors. They say this is free on their website, but the link they provide doesn't seem to be live just yet. In the meantime they offer some highlights:
Key insights include:

  • New content, new revenue: Creating new content to delight and engage players should still be a top priority for game developers. On average, large new content updates for live multiplayer games resulted in peak concurrent user spikes of over 11%.
  • Making cross-platform, multiplayer games will be key to success: Success in 2020 was derived from experiences that spanned all platforms, unlocking the ability for players to come together no matter what system they owned. As we move into 2021, 96% of developers surveyed believe scalable cross platform solution is critical to the success of a multiplayer game.
  • The weekday is the new weekend: More people are now playing games during the week: while gaming has historically been an activity that many reserve for the weekends, the difference between weekday and weekend gaming in 2020 increased by 52% in weekday’s favor.
  • Lockdown didn’t create a downturn for mobile games: Mobile players are driving more revenue for game developers than ever, with day one in-app purchase increasing at the start of lockdown in March and maintaining throughout the year. Overall mobile game ad revenues in 2020 grew by more than 8%, first- day IAP purchases rose by over 50% compared to 2019.

Thunderful Acquires Headup

Thunderful announces the acquisition of German game publisher and developer Headup (thanks Gamasutra). Here are the financial details: "Thunderful will pay EUR 5 million in cash upfront. In addition, Thunderful will pay an earn-out component subject to Headup’s performance in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The earn-out consideration is capped at EUR 6m and consists of 2.5 million EUR in newly issued Thunderful shares with a clawback mechanism as well as future payments of EUR 3.5 million in a mix of cash and shares. The total maximum consideration of the acquisition is thus EUR 11 million." Here's Headup's résumé:
Over the past decade, Headup has time and again (2012, 2013, 2017, 2019) won the category "Best Game Publisher" at the German Developers Awards. Among the successes are the game series Bridge Constructor, Trüberbrook which won the title Best German Game 2019, and the Mega Grant winner Pumpkin Jack. Over the years, Headup has published an extensive catalogue of games and also collaborated with well-known game developers on unique special editions of titles such as LIMBO, The Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy, QUBE and Terraria.

Headup is currently developing an unannounced game based on a world-renowned IP. They are also involved in several production and publishing projects. All in all, the Headup projects will strengthen Thunderful's existing pipeline in 2021 and beyond.

Oracle Trials in Session

Oracle Trials is now available on Steam, offering a 2D platformer for Windows which, despite the title, has nothing to do with the Oracle Law Firm. Those who recall the abs-of-steel epic 300 will be pleased to learn this allows you to play as King Leonidas, though this game trailer has no sign of the sultry sexiness of the oracle in the film. Madness? This is Sparta!:
Oracle Trials challenges you to play as King Leonidas on a mission to regain the stolen power of the ancient Oracle and defeat the Evil Phalanx tribe. Featuring an Ancient Greek theme full of gods, demi-gods, spirits and heroes, you are the only hope for success! Each level within the game takes you back in time shedding nuggets about Oracles as you play. Collect gems to achieve the highest possible score and fight to ultimately restore peace by overcoming evil foes.

Oracle Trials is 2D arcade-action at its best and is just the beginning of a new series of games with a mission-pack in the works offering even more platforming fun. With its pure gameplay, intuitive controls and cute and adorable cartoony vector art graphics, fans of the genre will instantly feel at home. Fight a variety of fierce enemies as you play, overcome obstacles such as lava, swamps, and spikes, and jump on opponent heads to reach otherwise unapproachable locations with bonuses! Treasure chests can be found and must be unlocked, but be wary of levers triggering various expected – and quite unexpected – effects!
Continue here to read the full story.

Nigate Tale Announced

Developer Hermit Games and publisher 2P Games announce Nigate Tale is coming to Early Access in Q2 of this year bringing an anime dungeon crawler inspired by Isekai. There's a chance to play this before then, however, as they are accepting applications on Steam to the closed beta. Here's a previously released trailer, and here's the un-spellchecked tale of the Tale:
In Nigate Tale you play as Roy, a young passionated craftsman that loves engeneering and living adventures. One day, you were flying in your airplaine when a strange cloud sucked you into a strange, unknown world inhabited by strange magical creatures. After crashing in the sewers of a castle, the only way out lies in exploring every corner of this ever-changing fortress to find all the missing parts. Your exploration will allow you to piece together the secret story of the castle and its owner, unveiling the thousands-years-old miystery that trapped it out of time and space.

But your mission won't be easy at all! You'll have to fight your way out of the labyrinthic corners of this dangerous place, full of monsters, traps and all kinds of hazards. As if you were stuck in a neverending loop, Roy will reappear in the same starting point every time you die. The path never will be the same, but you will have the advantage of the experience, your loot and new allies that will make your path easier to walk.
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Out of the Blue

It's hard to believe a year has passed already, but today marks the first anniversary of the launch of our supporter program. This gives me an opportunity to once again thank all of you who have chosen to participate. Your generosity goes a long way to ensure the viability of this site amid the ups and downs of the display advertising market, and I cannot express my appreciation enough. I would be remiss in not express appreciation to everyone else, as well. Your loyal readership is the foundation of the site, and has been an inspiration for me to continue to love what I do for 25 years and counting. Thank you all.

Obituary: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of City Lights, dead at 101.

Well-Supported Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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Science
Thanks Max.

Media

Follow-up

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