Online Events and Sales

Big announcements from Ubisoft Forward

Due to COVID-19 the typical E3 press conference was hosted online where Ubisoft revealed more information about its biggest upcoming games. Such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, Hyper Space, and Far Cry 6. Ubisoft also announced that there will be another showcase later in the year. They also announced in a tweet before the show started that certain challenges the company is currently facing will not be addressed directly in the show. That tweet is referring to the resignations of a number of Ubisoft employees under investigation for sexual assault and abuse. CEO Yves Guillemot has promised massive changes for the company and intends on appointing a head of workplace culture as well as creating a position for a head of diversity. Some of the announcements from Ubisoft Forward event are Far Cry 6 launches next year on the 18th of February, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be available on November 17th this year, Hyper Scape is now in open beta as of the announcement, and Watch Dogs: Legion launches on October 29th.

Steam has added Community Reviews to its Homepage

Steam has for many years displayed reviews from players as part of its user experience, now however Steam will feature reviews that are rated as “helpful” on the front page. This is supposed to be a new way to assist players with making recommendations for new or popular games. These helpful reviews are called “Community Recommendations.” According to the Steam blog post there will be more features coming to Steam over the coming months, including this new concept of “micro trailers” which is going to offer video previews of games in shorter periods of time.

PAX Australia & US are launching its first online global gaming event

Since so many events are cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic broadcasting online is the next best thing. Co-founder of PAX Jerry Holkins said in a statement “PAX online will recreate that shared experience, along with everyone’s other favourite elements from game reveals, exclusive hands-on experiences, the chance to hear from and speak with your favourite game developers, journalists as well as content creators, and so much more.” PAX Online will be the ultimate virtual gaming experience with PAX merchandise remaining available for purchase. The best thing is the event will provide fans with 24-hour-a-day content for 9 days all of course free of charge!

Big July Sales for Games

PS4 are having big sales on the PlayStation Store this month as end of financial year comes around. PlayStation have discounts on over 240 games, bundles, and add-ons for some the best PS4 games including Bloodborne, Monster Hunter World, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and a lot of Assassin’s Creed games. If you’d like to check out a list of games on sale click here.

A Rough Week In Gaming News

Ubisoft executive Maxime Beland resigns after assault allegations

Ubisoft also revealed that Tommy Francois the Editorial Vice President is on disciplinary leave pending the outcome of an investigation, Tommy has also been suspended until further notice. There are also reports of another employee at Ubisoft in Toronto being fired for engaging in behaviours that don’t align with what is expected as an employee. Maxime Beland’s resignation follows after a string of allegations posted on social media accusing him of choking a female employee at a Far Cry party as well as several other forms of sexual harassment. Ubisoft were reportedly aware of those allegations and chose not to act. Yves Guillemot Ubisoft’s Chief Executive has released a letter titled ‘Change starts today’ that details Beland’s resignation and Francois suspension, it also goes on to say, “Ubisoft will not tolerate workplace misconduct and will continue taking disciplinary actions against anyone who engages in harassment, discrimination and other behaviours that infringe on our Code of Fair Conduct.”

Death Threats and harassment for The Last of Us 2 team

Developers of The Last of Us 2 Naughty Dog have issues a statement condemning harassment after several members of the team were subjected to abusive messages. The game was launched on the 19th of June and since then fans upset with outcome of character narratives have been spewing hateful comments, some of the team affected are Neil Druckmann and voice actor Laura Bailey. Just recently the studio released a statement in support of their staff saying, “Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment of threats directed towards our team and cast. Their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behaviour and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse.” Despite the vitriol The Last of Us 2 has shown to be a massive hit for Sony, it’s one of the fastest-selling PS4 exclusives to date, selling 4 million copies in just the first 3 days.

Kongregate a web gaming company and video game publisher are no longer taking new game submissions from Flash

The company announced on recently that there are over 128,000 games available on the service and that there is unlikely to be any more. Kongregate also says that they will be shutting down many of the site’s social features as well as GamesIndustry.biz reports that several staff were laid off as part of the shift. Adobe announced that it would end support for Flash this year and multiple browsers now block the standard default. You can however still play the games manually when you enable Flash. Head over to the Kongregate website to see what Flash games you can still play.

Wandersong

Developer: Greg Lobanov           
Publisher: Greg Lobanov
Music:
A Shell in The Pit
Platforms: PC (Mac/Microsoft), PS4, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch
Released: 28th September 2018
Genre: Adventure, Platformer, Indie, Story Rich

The goddess Eya has grown bored and is planning to end the world and start anew. There’s only one chance to stop it, a brave hero foretold by legend – sadly you’re not that hero. In Wandersong you play as a bard, that I named Lute, who wants to save the world whether it believes in him or not. You might not have a big sword, but you’ve got passion and a song to share. Accompanied by the ever-pessimistic witch Miriam, you travel the world to find pieces of the mysterious Earthsong. This game is split into seven acts, each in a unique location for you to explore, with new mechanics to use and new faces to make friends of. The world of Wandersong is beautifully vibrant, crafted with bold colours and a cute 2D-style that feel like they’ve been plucked from a storybook. The world reacts to your presence (and more importantly your music) which makes it feel incredibly alive, flowers, leaves, and animals all dance along beside you. Unfortunately, the character sprites aren’t properly sized and have jagged edges when played on a large enough screen. This can be distracting but doesn’t take away from the overall experience and isn’t a problem if playing handheld. Beneath the cheery aesthetic and whimsical concept of Wandersong run deeper themes of self-worth, self-identity, and destiny. It is a game about fighting when there’s no chance to win, of being hopeful for the sake of hope itself.

Each part of the world has a distinct theme and different musical mechanics to explore it. You’ll be channelling ghosts one day and steering a ship with song the next. Discovering new abilities feels like a natural progression of the characters and story, rather than just ‘unlocking’ something. Through this, and a steady incline in complexity, it’s able to keep things interesting. Most of the game follows the structure of travel somewhere new, explore and meet people, solve the problems with music, and learn another part of the Earthsong. Wandersong does keep things fresh with a diverse cast of characters, a sprinkle of humour, and a lot of puzzles.

The most important tool you have on your quest is your voice which can be utilized through the song wheel, at almost any point during the game. The song wheel is basic and consists of different brightly coloured segments that each produce a different note. Not only do you use this to navigate the world but to solve problems, talk with people, cure monsters, and even name yourself. The stick on my switch sometimes felt too clunky to navigate this wheel precisely, but it didn’t take much away from the game.

Hidden throughout the world you will meet a mysterious figure named Mask who teaches you a new dance at every interaction. While not necessary for the story, it was nice to hunt him down during each arc. Once learnt, you can whip these dances out whenever you want. From an endless pirouette to caramelldansen, they will only enhance whatever scene they are used in. I really appreciated this feature when the story got particularly bleak, it’s hard not to feel better while dancing, and even harder when it’s a jaunty jig.

Puzzles come in two forms: copying a tune on your song wheel or using it to manipulate the environment. It manages to do a lot with these two concepts though. Copying a tune can happen as game of musical memory, a rhythm game or just a casual jam session. These puzzles aren’t the purpose of the game and so Wandersong is forgiving if you mess up in some way. The worst you will face is being reset to a nearby save point.  As a puzzle platformer newbie, I appreciated this, but some players may grow bored without a challenge here.

Wandersong promises a lot in its music-focused premise and does not disappoint. The OST weighs in at 160 songs spread over 3 albums, all of which was composed by A Shell in The Pit. Every song from the epic, to the melancholy, to the joyful are united by their gentle flowing sound and fit perfectly into the storybook world. Being able to sing along with the music really brought it to life, even if my timing was never perfect. Sound Effects were created by Em Halberstadt in close co-ordination with the soundtrack. Sometimes it’s hard notice the noises of the world but not because they aren’t worth noticing, they blend so well with the music that they can feel like another instrument in themselves.

Wandersong is a game where you aren’t the hero but that’s okay. It is an incredibly unique experience and one that sticks with you after you finish playing. The world is beautiful and uplifting, crafted by people who clearly cared about what they were making. It’s the perfect game when you’re looking for something a bit more casual or if you’re looking for a pick-me-up.  If any of this review sounded intriguing to you, Wandersong won’t let you down.

Reviewed by Maylee Flannery @MayleeFlnnery on 24th June 2020

Trump Banned, Aussie Games Industry and Free Stuff

Donald Trump gets suspended on Twitch for hateful conduct

Trump typically uses the Twitch platform to broadcast rallies online as well as other events. After Twitter had reported to Twitch that his channel has been suspended Twitch released a statement saying, “Hateful conduct in not allowed on Twitch. President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed.” There were two instances that constitute hateful conduct, one where Trump calls Mexican immigrants “rapists” from a 2016 campaign rally that was recently re-broadcast and a comment from a recent rally where he accused a hypothetical “very tough hombre” of “breaking into the window of a young woman whose husband is away” to illustrate a point about what would happen if people couldn’t dial 911. Twitch says, “Like anyone else, politicians on Twitch must adhere to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. We do not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content and will take action on content reported to us that violates our rules.

The Australian video games industry is skying rocketing in popularity

Working in the games industry is quickly becoming one of the most desirable career paths for Australians. Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) says that 91% of Aussie household have a piece of video game hardware, the industry in Australia could be worth $24 billion by 2023, and they project that esports alone could reach $3 billion in just three years. A recent report from Lenovo is showing that 1 in 12 Australians between the age of 16 and 45 now say their dream job is in gaming. Which equates to over 800,000 people. Not to mention that recently the coronavirus pandemic saw more than 1.2 million people turning to gaming for social connections. Unfortunately, the federal government isn’t showing any support of the industry. Ron Curry the chief executive of IGEA says, “With the current government, it’s culturally embedded in them not to support video games. Our brightest and smartest talent is leaving and going offshore. There’s a whole number of ways games could be used beyond pure entertainment and I think that’s the exciting part of the industry and where those transferable skills are.” Hopefully, we soon see a change in the mindset around the games industry in this country.

Humble Bundle raises over $4.3 million for the Fight for Racial Justice

The charity bundle was launched in early June and ended with close to $4.4 million dollars. Humble said in a statement, “In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmuad Arbery, and tragically many more in the Black community, we’ve teamed up with developers, publishers, and creators to help support organizations fight for racial equality.

Unity’s Learn Premium suite for game developers is now free

Learn Premium is an educational platform for everyone and anyone who is looking to create using the game engine. Unity made the move to help folks stuck at home during COVID-19 however they have now decided to keep the doors open indefinitely to help those looking to better their understanding of the Unity engine. For those of you interested in learning more click here.

Mixer shutdown, development funding and Comic books

Mixer shuts down and fuses with Facebook Gaming

As of July 22nd Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer will be closing and intends to move existing partners over to Facebook Gaming. This shock announcement means that anyone partnered with Mixer or who streams on Mixer will be transitioned to Facebook Gaming which started on the 23rd of June. Phil Spence the head of Microsoft’s gaming said in an interview with The Verge, “I think the Mixer community is really going to benefit from the broad audience that Facebook has through their properties, and the abilities to reach gamers in a very seamless way through the social platform Facebook has.” All this is designed to compete with Twitch of course by combining the audiences of Mixer and Facebook Gaming they might stand a chance against the streaming giant. For anyone who currently has outstanding Ember balances, channel subscriptions or Mixer Pro subscriptions you will receive Xbox gift card credits. The biggest news of course is what do big names like Shroud and Ninja do since being paid to make the big move to Mixer? It is rumoured that they’ll be able to return to Twitch if they so choose, let’s wait and see what happens.

Kowloon Nights a global video game investment fund has launched a $2 million fund for Black creators

This fund is called the Fairchild Initiative and will support creators and studio that work with PC and console projects. Kendall Davis an advisor for Kowloon said in a statement, “Kowloon Night was founded on the idea of empowering creators to create memorable games and stories, and the Fairchild Initiative carries the same ethos. I am proud to lead this initiative with a focus on empathy, infrastructure, and mentorship.” Any development studio that is majority-owned by black creators who are looking to apply for the grant or seeking further information click here.

Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed again

Cyberpunk 2077 has been moved to November 19th in a statement released from CD Projekt Red saying, “Those of you who are familiar with the way we make games know that we won’t ship something which is not ready. “Ready when it’s done” is not a phrase we say because it sounds right, it’s something we live by even when we know we’ll take the head for it.” They go on to say, “Our intention is to make Cyberpunk 2077 something that will stay with you for years to come. In the end, we hope you understand why we did what we did.” To see the full statement see image below.

In lighter news Cyberpunk 2077 will be getting a comic book adaptation called Trauma Team the series will be published by Dark Horse Comics and is set to release on the 9th of September this year. The comic is said to follow the story of Nadia and emergency medical technician for Trauma Team International, and the sole survivor of a failed rescue mission. She then agrees to continue work on a new mission and she finds herself and her team in an even more dangerous situation.

Not E3 Announcements and PAX Aus 2020 Postponed

Summer Game Fest, IGN Summer of Gaming and of course PS5 Announcements

That’s right let’s recap some of what’s been happening with the replacement E3 events this last week. Due to the coronavirus pandemic E3 2020 was cancelled earlier in the year however thanks to the awesome power of the internet streaming vir Twitch, YouTube and other platforms has made game publishers and developers game reveals, announcements and revolutionary game changes easier to broadcast despite the physical setbacks.

Let’s run through some of the highlights so far

Star Wars Squadron was announced by EA and dropped the reveal trailer teasing you with; space combat, X-wings, Y-wings, A-wings and more.

PS5 unveiling which showcases a design not yet seen in any other console made by Sony. If you haven’t already seen the memes circulating might I suggest checking it out. Jim Ryan the President of Sony Interactive Entertainment has said, “The PlayStation sits in the living room of most homes and we kind of felt it would be nice to provide a design that would really grace most living areas. We think we’ve been successful in that.”

Just before Sony PS5 reveal Xbox dropped another promo for the Xbox Series X showing off new footage of games as well as some gameplay.

PlayStation also revealed many games coming to the future gen console, some of the big ones to highlight are:

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales as a stand-alone game. PlayStation blog post says, “The latest adventure in the Spider-Man universe will build on and expand Marvel’s Spider-Man through an all new story, Players will experience the rise of Miles Morales as he masters new powers to become his own Spider-Man.”

There’s also Horizon Forbidden West the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn this instalment will feature Aloy yet again travelling farther than ever before where she will encounter new wildlife, beautiful scenery, and of course captivating narrative.

Ratchet and Clank are back in a new game that will feature a story about multiple dimensions.

Other games coming to the PS5 are: Resident Evil Village (Sequel to Resident Evil 7), Hitman 3, Demon’s Souls Remake, GTA 5, The Last of Us Part III, Destiny 2, Gran Turismo 7, and NBA 2K21. There are many many more and if you’d like to check out the full list click here.

PAX Australia 2020 has officially been postponed

The PAX team posted a statement on the 16th of June saying, “It is with a heavy heart that today we announce the postponement of PAX Australia 2020, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 in Australia and globally. While we can’t move forward with PAX Aus 2020 in the way we normally would, we are finding new and exciting ways to connect you and the PAX community with your favourite content and creators. Stay Safe and be kind.”

(Full Statement Below)