It’s Friday! Or is it? Time is a social construct, so I could tell you it’s Wednesday today, and how could you prove me wrong? It’s Friday because it’s the fifth day this week, but when did this week start? Can’t prove that either, I’m afraid. Well, the calendar in the bottom right corner of the monitor says it’s Friday. Who told the computer that it’s Friday? Anyone could change that display in the settings. What I can say, for certain, is that events occurred and news transpired in this indefinable time period, and it’s been turned into bite-size chunks, here in the round-up…
This week, I watched Uncut Gems, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, and Lady Bird. As a result, I know lots and lots about those united states of America. Firstly, it’s always warm in America. There’s a haze of yellow and gold tones over the world, and, when you go inside, harsh fluorescent lights cut through this fog, like beams from UFOs. No one is interested in anything until they are, then the object of their affections explodes out of their hands (figuratively or literally). The rest of the globe orbits America, and you can tell this from the newspapers stacked in the grocery stores and television broadcasts humming in the background.
Last week, Kentucky Route Zero was released for PC and consoles. It’s another piece of media that pictures America through a personalised filter, that, taken on its own, would produce an utterly incorrect description. There is not an underground highway in Kentucky populated by the ghosts of miners. But it got me thinking of how there could be a game called M25 Nil, set in the UK. It isn’t raining, but everyone’s anoraks cause a quiet crackling that you never stop noticing. Private investigators don’t exist here; a short or long sound in the word “scone” tells you all you need to know. And those tired of The City would love to pack it in one day and live in the countryside, attending to a flock of sheep on a farm. “The countryside” is nonspecific, but it’s clear which of the 69 cities in the country “The City” refers to. Here’s the news.
Temtem bans almost 900 players for cheating, permanently
“We just completed our first batch of banned users. Almost 900 players have been permanently banned from Temtem,” said developer Crema. “Bans are final, we won’t answer or review any ban appeal.” This move drew a range of reactions. The expediency of the bans was commended to ensure the game experience wasn’t affected for long, but others criticised the severity of the bans for a game that is in Early Access. During development, bugs and glitches will rear their heads, and players could have found one of these and believe it to be a legitimate mechanic in Temtem. A little later, Crema posted an amendment to its approach. “The team spent all morning checking banned accounts and player accounts saying ‘they didn’t do anything illegal’. We re-checked over 100 accounts,” explained the developer. “Every single one of them was a legit ban.” There will now be an appeal process for bans, but these approximately 900 players will remain blocked from the game. “Only players intentionally and repeatedly ABUSING exploits are banned,” added Crema. “If you play in a regular way you’re OK. We’ve made 100% sure before doing any bans and every data we’ve checked confirms that.”
Cyberpunk 2077’s ‘Street Stories’ are much more complex than The Witcher 3’s Contracts
Night City has layers. “There’s a passive layer, which is the vendors, then there’s the STSs, which are the street stories. I think there’s around 75 street stories. Then there’s minor activities as well,” said studio boss John Mamais. “The street stories are like little quests. There’s story but there’s not, like, advanced cinematic storytelling sequences so much. They’re a way to explore the world and level-up your character.” The quests of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt were like “a single line, with a bunch of branches sticking out of it,” creating a precise and clear-cut experience with evident consequences. However, CD Projekt Red isn’t adopting this approach for Cyberpunk 2077, and these ‘Street Stories’ have gotten a lot more time and effort poured into them at an earlier stage in development. “They’re all custom done. There’s nothing like that that’s automatically generated. There are set templates that the guys can use but each one is customized… The world’s going to be filled with that stuff. It should feel really good,” explained Mamais.
Astro Bot creator appointed creative director of SIE Japan Studio
SIE Japan Studio has a star-studded library of games, like Ape Escape, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Everybody’s Golf, Gravity Rush, Ico, Knack, LocoRoco, and Shadow of the Colossus. Astro Bot came from The Playroom, which was the software that helped players get to grips with the PlayStation Camera. Clearly, the studio pushes the envelope when it comes to new game experiences, and has now promoted the director and producer of Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Nicolas Doucet, to creative director.
The Wonderful 101: Remastered topples Kickstarter campaign in less than four hours
“The first thing I’d like everyone to understand is that although our company has slowly started to grow, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can suddenly do everything we’ve always wanted to,” explained executive director Atsushi Inaba. “I felt there was an imbalance in the number of people who actually got to play [The Wonderful 101] compared to the amount of passion and quality that was put into creating it.” Platinum Games had tried and tried to take The Wonderful 101 to new platforms, and its efforts were successful with the surprise Kickstarter that reached its initial funding goal in only a few hours. The game will be ported to PlayStation 4, PC, and Switch, and the campaign has accrued £1 million from 21,000 backers. The extra stretch goals include Luka’s First Mission (a “brand-new 2D side-scrolling adventure”) and a remix soundtrack with a “secret special guest.” The success of the Kickstarter is astonishing, but the developer won’t lean on crowdfunding in the future. “For this particular project, all the factors seemed to come together for crowdfunding to make sense. The fact that we wanted to revisit the game, the fact Nintendo allowed us to do it and the timing was good. So we consider this a very unique case,” said Inaba.
Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser will leave the company in March
After a lengthy break, Houser will bid farewell to the company that he and his brother Sam Houser began over twenty years ago. “We are extremely grateful for his contributions,” said Take-Two Interactive in a statement. “Rockstar Games has built some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful game worlds, a global community of passionate fans and an incredibly talented team, which remains focused on current and future projects.” Houser’s last day is March 11, and it is hoped that his next step in his career makes the most of his talent. He’s credited as the co-writer for all of the Grand Theft Auto games, and as vice-president of creative at Rockstar Games, he had a hand in the development of Bully, Max Payne 3, and Red Dead Redemption.
Dontnod says “skepticism is healthy” when it comes to representation in Tell Me Why
Tyler Ronan is the “first playable video game hero from a major studio and publisher who is also transgender,” said Dontnod when Tell Me Why was announced. The developer is aiming to represent Tyler considerately and sensitively in its story, and LGBTQ media advocacy organisation GLAAD claimed that the work “raises the bar for future LGBTQ inclusion in gaming.” Dontnod has committed to continual inclusion of trans people and their perspectives throughout the game’s development. “This game means a lot to us, and hopefully will mean something for people who usually don’t have enough visibility. So we totally feel the responsibility we have to portray Tyler in a positive way,” explained game director Florent Guillaume. “Thanks to Microsoft and GLAAD’s support, we have been able to include transgender and allied players in every UR test, and they have given us invaluable feedback.” Dontnod’s dedication is encouraging but it still welcomes critique. “Skepticism is healthy, as the game industry often falls short when it comes to portrayals of marginalized groups. Without an adequate depth of knowledge, it’s easy to fall back on simplistic and often harmful tropes,” said lead writer Morgan Lockhart. “Given how often these types of portrayals have failed the trans community, we hope we have taken positive steps forward in the creation and portrayal of Tyler.”
Cliff Bleszinski attributes wokeness for the failure of LawBreakers
“Ever since the studio closed I’ve been wracking my brain what I could have done differently,” said the industry veteran, and claimed that he “pushed my own personal political beliefs in a world that was increasingly divided.” He said that he was perceived to be a “woke bro” who “shoehorned diversity in his game,” and this was a contributing factor to the downfall of LawBreakers. The game generated $32 million in expenses for publisher Nexon and led to the company cutting ties with the developer.
Team Ninja is keen to make a new Ninja Gaiden game
With Nioh 2 looming and also getting three post-launch DLCs, it seems that the series is Team Ninja’s focus for the foreseeable future. Still, that doesn’t stop us clamoring to find out what’s next for the established developer. The company is actually aware that people were expecting a return to Ryu Hayabusa’s story instead of another story in the Nioh series. “The core members of the team that worked on Ninja Gaiden want to make a new game,” said director Fumihiko Yasuda. “We are aware that some fans wanted Ninja Gaiden more than Nioh 2. Now we see a lot of ninja games like [Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice] as well, and we see a lot of good inspirations in those games, so we hope to deliver some good news one day.” Team Ninja would also like to try its hand at a tailor-made PlayStation 5 title. “I believe that a new console will bring new opportunities and we would like to create a new game, a new intellectual property for PlayStation 5,” said president Yosuke Hayashi to Eurogamer Portugal. “We created the Nioh series for PS4 and we would like to do the same for PS5.”
Sony submits patent for an AI that suggests microtransactions if a player gets stuck
“Often, there may be an in-game resource of the game environment that could aid the user in accomplishing the objective with the character,” read the patent submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). “The in-game resource may be downloadable content (DLC), add-ons, upgrades, items, tips, strategy, communal data, etc. However, the user is not necessarily aware that such a resource exists.” The AI would employ individual and collective user data on a particular game, and identify the moment the player gets stumped. The “surfacing platform” would display instantaneous information on how the majority completed the level, beat the boss, or solved the puzzle. But, if the majority used a weapon that’s part of a bundle in the game’s store, the AI would lead the player to that end. This is a contrast to the patented PlayStation Assist, which would suggest and mark out objects in the game to solve problems.