Archived News:

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2021

Activision Blizzard Walkout Tomorrow

Bloomberg (may require registration or subscription) reports Activision Blizzard employees are calling for a walkout tomorrow to protest the company's responses to the recent sexual discrimination lawsuit and "demanding more equitable treatment for underrepresented staff." Interestingly, Jason Schreier follows his reporting with a tweet saying "Blizzard told employees this afternoon it will offer paid time off to those participating in tomorrow's walk-out." According Polygon as many as 2,600 employees may take part. To help if you're running into a paywall, Polygon also has the statement of intent from a group of employees:
Given last week’s statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, and the many stories shared by current and former employees of Activision Blizzard since, we believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.

As current Activision Blizzard employees, we are holding a walkout to call on the executive leadership team to work with us on the following demands, in order to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.
Continue here to read the full story.

Neverwinter Jewel of the North Released

Publisher Perfect World and developer Cryptic Studios have released Jewel of the North, the latest content expansion for Neverwinter, the free-to-play D&D MMORPG. The Windows edition is now available from Arc Games, the Epic Games Store, and Neverwinter on Steam, while console gamers will have to wait until next month for their version. Hopefully you've kept your voice in shape, as the expansion includes the Bard class. Word is it comes along with changes to make the game more accessible to newcomers:
Along with the new class, Neverwinter: Jewel of the North brings major game-changing improvements that make it easier for all adventurers to access and enjoy all of the content available in Neverwinter. With the new streamlined leveling system which follows the beloved system found in Dungeons & Dragons, the max level cap in Neverwinter has transitioned from level 80 to level 20. This allows new and returning adventurers to reach epic-level content much faster (in approximately 10-12 hours) and gives veteran adventurers the option to quickly level up their alternate characters. Additional notable improvements geared towards providing a greater experience for all adventurers include the new Adventures feature, two new locations (the Adventurer’s Guild and Training Room) and revamped tutorials and early game performance improvements.
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Blightbound Leaves Early Access

Blightbound is now officially available on Steam, as this multiplayer dungeon crawler developed by Ronimo Games has graduated from Early Access. Here's a Release Trailer showing off the kind of hacking, slashing, and looting the game involves. Here are some details:
Blightbound is an online & local multiplayer dungeon crawler that tasks three heroes to venture down from their mountain refuge to face the abominations of the Blight - a mysterious and corrupting fog that enshrouds the land.

Explore handcrafted dungeons, fight a terrifying cadre of mystical and monstrous enemies, grab valuable loot, and recover fallen heroes to expand your roster of available warriors. Each player will fulfill a specific role on the team - warrior, assassin, or mage - to overcome colossal bosses and solve clever puzzles.
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New AMD Radeon Drivers

AMD now offers downloads of new version 21.7.2 Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition drivers for Radeon graphics cards. These add support for the release edition of Chernobylite and more:
Support For

  • Chernobylite™

Added Vulkan® Support

  • VK_KHR_copy_commands2
    • This extension introduces extensible versions of the Vulkan® buffer and image copy commands that can now accept extension-specific information via their copy parameters.
  • VK_EXT_extended_dynamic_state2
    • This extension allows more states to be set dynamically to reduce the number of unique pipeline state objects used by an application

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HighFleet Released

HighFleet is now available on Steam, giving everyone the chance to take off in this airborne action/strategy game. Reborn publisher MicroProse provides this Launch Trailer to set up to the story and show off gameplay. Here's more on the game, which can involve diplomacy in addition to brute force:
Killer combat
At the heart of HighFleet is a unique form of combat in which giant ships bristling with weaponry duel above the desert. This is no mindless button mashing, however. Far from it. Battles are won with skilful manoeuvring, targeting and carefully observing the strategic layer of the battle.

Serious strategy
Mastering HighFleet requires much more than winning battles. You must explore the exotic lands of Gerat. You must manage your ships, men, fuel and other resources. You must also engage in diplomacy with the various factions.
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Stadia Takes Control

Google announces Stadia is now available in Control, offering another way to play Remedy's action/adventure. Word is the Control Ultimate Edition is set to take advantage of all that the cloud service has to offer:
Control Ultimate Edition, the supernatural action-adventure title published by 505 Games and developed by Remedy Entertainment, launched today on the Google Stadia platform*. The power of Google Stadia allows you to stream and play the award-winning game anywhere with a stable internet connection, on any compatible desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, or TV, for a one-off cost of $39.99.

Control Ultimate Edition includes the original base game, The Foundation and AWE expansion packs, and all additional game modes. It also features an Enhanced Graphics mode at 4K resolution and 30fps, and Enhanced Performance mode at 1080p resolution and 60fps. The game takes advantage of Google Stadia’s cloud streaming technology with no need to wait for installs, downloads or updates, meaning you can pick-up-and-play almost anywhere**.
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Lawsuit Inspiring World of Warcraft Changes

There's more Activision Blizzard lawsuit follow-up on Twitter, where there's the following statement from the World of Warcraft team. This includes word that the game world of Azeroth will reflect some changes going forward:
The past days have been a time of reflection for the World of Warcraft team, spent in conversation and contemplation, full of sadness, pain, and anger, but also hope and resolve. As we heed the brave women who have come forward to share their experiences, we stand committed to taking the actions necessary to ensure we are providing an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment both for our team and for our players in Azeroth. Those of us in leadership understand that it is not our place to judge when we have achieved our goals, but rather for our team and our community to let us know when we still have more to do.

While we turn to our team for guidance in our internal work to protect marginalized groups and hold accountable those who threaten them, we also want to take immediate action in Azeroth to remove references that are not appropriate for our world. This work has been underway, and you will be seeing several such changes to both shadow lands and wow classic in the coming days.
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Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: How robots could end animal captivity in zoos & marine parks. And, you know, dolphin banging. Thanks Ant.

Obituary: Joey Jordison, Founding Slipknot Drummer, Dead at 46.

SAMURAI WARRIORS 5 Released

SAMURAI WARRIORS 5 is now available for PC and for consoles, offering the latest installment in KOEI TECMO's Musou action series. The Windows version is found on Steam, and it includes a couple of bonus in-game items for those who pick it up by August 9th. There's also a playable trial version if you're not sure you're ready to commit to the life of a samurai. Here's a well-honed Launch Trailer and here are some details, including word on DLC plans:
All of the game’s character designs have been completely redesigned and re-imagined to help fit the storyline’s Sengoku time period. In total, SAMURAI WARRIORS 5 features 27 main playable characters and 10 additional side characters, including both new and returning warriors, from Ieyasu Tokugawa and Hideyoshi Hashiba to Nō, and Yoshimoto Imagawa.

In addition, all-new Musou actions have been added to the series – including newly designed Musou Frenzy Attacks and all-new Ultimate Skills – elevating the thrill of blowing away hordes of enemy soldiers in exhilarating fashion. These actions are displayed in a vibrant new Japanese ink painting art style, elegantly evolving the SAMURAI WARRIORS series to showcase the Sengoku period in stunning fashion as the intertwining stories of Nobunaga and Mitsuhide unravel on screen like a Sengoku period picture scroll.
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PUBG F2P Rumor

A tweet from PlayerIGN (no relation) says an upcoming free-to-play event in PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS may end up leading to the battle royale game going free-to-play permanently. The poster, who GamesRadar+ endorses as "a fairly renowned leaker in the PUBG space," offers the following assessment of the plan:
Leak:
PUBG wants to go free-to-play.

They’re going to track player responses in a F2P week that’s happening next month.

Keep in mind, PUBG originally wanted to go F2P in 2019; but didn’t get the player response they wanted att from 2019’s F2P test.

A Total War Saga: TROY - MYTHOS Announced

Sega and Creative Assembly announce MYTHOS, an upcoming expansion for A Total War Saga: TROY. This is expected to arrive on Steam, which is the same day the game itself will land on Steam after its exclusive run on the Epic Games Store. Here's the MYTHOS Announcement Trailer and more:
The battle for Troy cannot be waged by man alone. In this big, bold Expansion Pack, recruit monsters and creatures of myth to fight at your side, turning the tide of war on new fantastical battlefields and a refreshed campaign map. Find the Cerberus – a vicious beast guarding the abyss – the Griffin – a winged master of the skies – and the Hydra – a nine-headed serpent spreading poison and madness. Harness their power and experience true myth to decide the fate of Troy once and for all.
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Battlefield 2042 Seasonal Content Rumors

An article on Dual Shockers by noted leaker Tom Henderson has more unconfirmed intel on Battlefield 2042, the upcoming installment in the military shooter series. Tom follows up on his tweet about seasonal content for the game. In the new article he elaborates, saying there is a conscious plan in place to overcome the post-launch content issues suffered by other recent Battlefield games. He warns: "As always, take leaks and rumours with a pinch of salt." Here's a bit on how he understands seasons will work:
Around 12 new weapons and four new vehicles minimum will be coming to Battlefield 2042 every season, with around a 50/50 split between both Portal and All Out War.

The remastered Portal map coming to the game during the season will come with new vehicles and weapons from that game. For example, if ST. Quentin Scar comes to the Battlefield Portal, we can expect World War 1 weapons, vehicles, and gadgets to come from that game also.

It’s currently unclear how this content will be incorporated into the game, but the two obvious options would be the new Portal content will be available once the season releases, or it will need to be unlocked via the battle pass.

PAX West to Require COVID-19 Vaccine or Test

A Health & Safety Update on the PAX Website has details on plans to handle the in-person event, schedule for this September in Seattle. Word is attendees will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test for the virus:
Throughout the year, the PAX team has been actively working to support a safe environment for our PAX West visitors. We are pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at PAX West. We appreciate your patience as we worked with our venue and the authorities to create our comprehensive plan.

Prior to entry we will now require proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination series or a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test, each to be verified with a valid, government issued ID. If you have purchased badges and have questions or concerns about this requirement, please reach out to PAX Questions at PAX_Questions@PAXsite.com.

Idol Manager Released

For those who spend their idle time dreaming of idol time, Idol Manager is now available for Windows, macOS, and Linux on Steam. The Release Date Announcement Trailer is the most recent look at gameplay. Here's more on this chance to live the dream of being Ian Faith or Reuben Kincade:
Created by Russian indie game developer Glitch Pitch, Idol Manager is a unique “idol game” like no other. Not even Japan has seen anything like it before. You take on the role of a producer in a small talent agency in this business simulator, where you are required to use any means necessary to achieve success in the entertainment industry.
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etc.

Out of the Blue

We're having a little flashback here as the BlueTower has suffered an incursion of ants (not to be confused with the aunt infestation in that GEICO Insurance Commercial). We had an incident like this once in our last house where the way they were getting in was readily apparent. In this case it's a little weirder. There are not that many of them, and they are quite scattered. It's not clear where they're getting in or what they are after. It could be worse, they certainly are much more sanitary houseguests than roaches. But they're still not welcome, and this situation won't have to go on much longer before we call in an exterminator (apologies Ant).

Obituary: UK games industry veteran Ian Richardson dies aged 53.

Formicidae Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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