Merry Christmas from Zed Games ’23

Gather around the Yule Log and come listen in to the tale of Christmas Present as the Zed Games Team headed by Maylee talks Gaming News discussing the recent Fortnight gifts and more. Paul goes on a Quest to bring us several game reviews within a review of the Quest 3, it’s another Paul Patented “Review-ception”. Then Zahra, Caroline, and Maylee talk the best games for the Christmas gathering this year.

News to ruin your Christmas

Vale Max Payne

Actor James McCaffrey best known for his role of Max Payne from the Max Payne series and the very Max Payne-like but legally distinct Alex Casey from Alan Wake has died at the age of 65. He passed at his home in New York after battling with cancer.  Despite voicing multiple iconic video game characters James never became a fan of the medium saying in a 2020 interview with Saratoga Living:

“I’m not a big fan of video games, and I never have been. The first time I did Max Payne, it was, like, six hours a day in a sound booth, and it was about 400 pages of script. But, I’ve never seen it, I’ve never played it, I have no desire to. I lack the proper appreciation for video games.”

Marvel's Wolverine | Insomniac Games

Insomniac Leak + Suicide Squad Leak

Marvel’s Spiderman 2 developer Insomniac has fallen victim to a massive 1.67 TB data leak by ransomware group Rhysida. Included are development files for released and upcoming projects such as Wolverine, details on cancelled projects like Sunset Overdrive 2, business contract and personal HR records and communications. After failing to ransom the data for $2 million some data was sold to undisclosed buyers and the rest released.

In other leaks the files of a closed alpha version of the upcoming Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League have been pored through by dataminers and released details on the game’s plot including some major character reveals.

“It is very disappointing to see details being shared ahead of the game’s release, so we can only urge you to try to avoid spoilers where you can. And please try not to impact the enjoyment of other players by posting spoilers.”

Naughty Dog Ceases Development Of The Last Of Us Online - Game Informer

Last of Us Online Dead

If you were looking forward to Naughty Dog’s long-teased multiplayer spin off for The Last of Us 2 than I have bad news for you. It has been cancelled. The troubled development saw the studio trying to wrangle their traditional style of development with a live service model at one point even bringing in Bungie to try and find a path forward. This week the studio announced it will be ceasing development on the title after being unable to find the needed balance. In a statement on their website Naughty Dog justifies their decision as such:

“In ramping up to full production, the massive scope of our ambition became clear. To release and support The Last of Us Online we’d have to put all our studio resources behind supporting post launch content for years to come, severely impacting development on future single-player games.”

DOTA2 Bans

Valve has been spreading the holiday cheer in DOTA2 this year with their festive Frostivus event where players have a chance of getting a wide range of gifts. Including bans. Some players found their stocking filled with “Highly Toxic Lump of Coal” when opening their Frostivus gift which liberally gave out timed and permanent bans to accounts who were toxic, smurfing or otherwise violated the Terms of Service. The studio have taken an aggressive position towards cheaters and other toxic members of their community, stating in the release notes:

“If you’re on the Naughty List, we’ve got great news for everybody else and bad news for you because this year is gonna be a bloodbath.”

Hitman's holiday bonus level is a silly, brilliant and entirely welcome little extra | VG247

Game releases

December 25th will see Santa come down your chimney if you’re that way inclined.

Hero’s Journey


Greetings Gamers!
This week Paul heads the Zed Games crew with Cam and Peter to talk the week in Gaming News reported by Maylee. The team then discuss the 2023 Gaming Awards, before Paul takes us on a walk on the wild side through the Irish countryside in Highland Song, and Tobi rounds it out with an obsessive look into the idle game Progress Knight.
So grab your walking sticks and auto clicking macros listen here or find us at your favourite podcast player.

The Demise of E3, the Collapse of The Day Before, and the Triumph of Baldur’s Gate 3

Here is your news recap for the 14th of December:

Multiplayer isn’t coming to Starfield anytime soon.

The team behind Skyrim Together, a popular multiplayer mod for Skyrim, has announced that they will not be completing their multiplayer mod for Starfield because the game is “fucking trash.”
In a post to Skyrim Together’s discord sever, one of the developers said “The game is boring, bland, and the main draw of Bethesda games, exploration in a lively and handcrafted world, was completely gone. I’m not gonna put my heart and soul into a mod for a game as mediocre as this.”
There are plenty of Starfield fans out there though and this is disappointing news if you were looking forward to traveling the stars with your friends, but there is some hope. Since they had begun work on the project, already porting about 70% of the code, the team is releasing what they’ve currently done in case anyone wants to finish the mod themselves.

The Day Before was bad, and now it’s gone.

Starting 2023 as one of the most wishlisted games on steam, The Day Before is a zombie shooter that promised a lot and has delivered on practically nothing. It released last week and was immediately inundated with negative reviews citing visual bugs and game-breaking glitches. Players who could actually play the game didn’t find the game they’d been promised in marketing, but a poorly crafted, empty, shooter.

Just four days after it launched, The Day Before was completely removed from steam and developer Fntastic announced its closure. “Today, we announce the closure of Fntastic studio. Unfortunately, The Day Before has failed financially, and we lack the funds to continue. All income received is being used to pay off debts to our partners,” their statement on twitter reads. “We apologize if we didn’t meet your expectations. We did everything within our power, but unfortunately, we miscalculated our capabilities. Creating games is an incredibly challenging endeavor.”

If it seems like a good response on their part, consider this seems to be the end of their accountability. They later reply to some (well-earned) criticism with “This was our first big experience. Shit happens.” Which is less good. If you are one of the unlucky people who bought the game Fntastic have said they’re working with steam to provide refunds for any players who want one.

 

Baldurs Gate 3 Sweeps the Game Awards.

In case you missed it– Baldurs Gate 3 dominated this year’s Game Awards. It won the Player’s Voice Award and five of its 8 direct nominations, that being Best Performance, Best Community Support, Best RPG, Best Multiplayer, and of course Game of The Year. The only nominations that Baldur’s Gate 3 did not win were Best Music and Score, which went to Final Fantasy, and Best Narrative and Game Direction, both of which were awarded to Alan Wake 2.

E3 is actually dead.

E3 (A.K.A the Electronic Entertainment Expo) is dead. For real this time. Following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, more and more game publishers opt to manage their presentations independently and so E3 struggled to reclaim its former glory. Now, after years of evident decline, E3 officially closes its doors, marking the end of an era. A statement on the official website simply reads: “After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories.”

 

That’s all, this week, in gaming news.

GTA VI Trails, League of Geeks Flails, Twitch Bails and Jeff Minter Sails

News just keeps on coming like a never ending train it won’t stop it will never stop won’t someone please make it stop?!

League of Geeks Loses Developers

Melbourne-based indie game development studio League of Geeks has just laid off half of its workforce. An estimated 31 experienced game developers are now out of work a few weeks shy of Christmas, with the studio blaming a major source of funding unexpectedly pulling out at the last minute.

Trent Kusters, co-founder and studio director at League of Geeks, told staff that they had to make a decision to stop development of one of their titles. The game, Jumplight Odyssey, was expected to be finished in the first half of 2024, and was released in Early Access back in August. A loan has been taken out to ensure the completion of the studio’s other title, a remake of their earlier hit Solium Infernum, but even that is not guaranteed.

Mr Kusters told the ABC that “The fact that we have to pause this game is just a brutal, brutal reality of the financial implications of everything that’s happening in the industry right now.”

It’s a sobering time for anyone in the trenches of the games industry. This week Electronic Arts announced major layoffs at the studio they recently bought, Codemasters. Frontier Developments, the makers of Elite and several Rollercoaster Tycoon sequels, just laid off 20% of their workforce. Worms developers Team 17 have laid off the majority of their internal development teams. New World Interactive have just been completely shut down by its parent company Embracer Group. It’s rough out there folks, stay strong and look out for each other.

 

GTA VI Trailer Definitely Is a GTA VI Trailer

Well it’s only taken 10 years but we finally have a trailer for one of the most hotly anticipated sequels in the gaming world has finally seen the light of day. Grand Theft Auto VI is coming some time in 2025, and it’s clear to see where all the time and money has gone. The game will see players returning to the sun-drenched world of Vice City, but instead of the neon-pastels of the ‘80s this one’s set in the social media obsessed modern times.

The trailer features dense crowds, alligators, people twerking on cars and music from Tom Petty. For the first time in a GTA game you can play as a female protagonist, who seems to be half of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde style duo. It’s probably already being picked apart frame by frame by people on YouTube, so check it out even if this isn’t your kind of game because it’s at the very least technically very impressive.

Publishers Take Two also put out a press release confirming the launch platforms will be the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X. Sorry PC owners, you’re just going to have to wait even longer for the inevitable PC port.

Twitch goes offline in South Korea

Do you like the game-centric video streaming service Twitch? Well, spare a thought for our friends in South Korea who are losing access to the platform. Thanks to a unique set of laws in that country that charge content providers for the bandwidth used by viewers, Twitch has announced they are closing down operations there effective immediately. This impacts the jobs of all the local Twitch staff, not to mention the thousands of users who make a considerable living streaming on Twitch.

I guess they can go over to…I don’t know, is Mixer still a thing?

 

The Street Fighter Alpha 2 Machine At Netherworld Has Been Set To Free Play

That’s it. That’s the whole story. I think this is notable news. See you there.

 

Fortnite Keeps Fortnitin’

New game modes for Fortnite might not seem that newsworthy, but they’re making a big song and dance about these ones. Lego Fortnite combines the creative world of Lego with the action of Fortnite in something very Minecraft-like, Rocket Racing brings Rocket League into a more conventional racing game with a twist, and there’s Fortnite Festival which is notable for being Rock Band developer Harmonix’s new game. And since they’re all free to play and available now within Fortnite, why not check them out?

 

Get Ready To Love Llamas!!!

Overnight, Digital Eclipse announced that they’re soon to release Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story in early 2024. This is the second of their Gold Master series, which are not just collections of old games perfectly preserved for modern audiences but are also interactive documentaries. In the Jeff Minter Story you’ll be able to follow the life of the gaming industry’s longest creating and in my mind, most important, indie game developer starting all the way from the Commodore Vic-20 to the release of Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar. The collection will also include the unreleased Attack of the Mutant Camels ‘89 for the ill-fated Konix Multisystem, and a reworked update of his frenetic shoot ‘em up Gridrunner.

It’s nice to know what the best release of next year is already going to be.

New Game Releases

And now, through a series of small miracles, new games are being released today. Here’s some of the highlights:

Arizona Sunshine 2 (PSVR 2, PC VR, Quest)
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)
The Day Before (PC early access)
Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S)
Briley Witch Chronicles 2 (C64)

 

This News Is Not AI Generated, I Swear

Fallout Is Canon!

Fans and fiends of Fallout, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming live-action series coming to Prime Video in April, and if not, now you have! And here’s what we know about it so far: it takes place nine years after the events of Fallout 4, in the year 2296. It’s supposed to be accessible to those unfamiliar with the games, but still contain the humour and vibe of the games. And one more thing; the events in the show will be canon according to Todd Howard.

“We view what’s happening in the show as canon. That’s what’s great when someone else looks at your work and then translates it in some fashion.”

It’s not the first time developers have been inspired by a live-action adaptation of their games, as The Last Of Us creators also felt similarly inspired by the live-action show.

What Even Is An Indie Game Anyway?

Dave the Diver is a game that was nominated for Best Indie Game at The Game Awards, which has sparked some discussion over what constitutes an indie game as the team, Mint Rocket, that made the game was a subsidiary of a multi-billion-dollar company, Nexon.

Mint Rocket is a team of less than 30 people and was launched by Nexon as a division that specialises in games, “focusing on the essence of fun”. As a result, many people don’t consider Dave the Diver to be a ‘true indie’.

Geoff Keighly, host and producer of The Game Awards has weighed in, saying “You can argue, does independent mean the budget of the game, does independent mean where the source of financing was, does it mean the team size?”

“The definition of an indie game is hard to define, and that ultimately it’s up to The Game Awards jury to pick nominees.”

Why Does Naruto Sound Like That?

There’s a Naruto fighting game out and about called Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja STORM CONNECTIONS, it’s got fast-paced ninja battles and a story, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about the more awkward line deliveries that have been discovered.

Understandably, it has faced some criticisms, however, the voice actors insist that they didn’t actually record those lines… entirely.

The game covers snippets of events that have taken place across the franchise, and even dives into scenes that would be very familiar to those who have played Naruto games in the past. Except that when comparing the scenes, well, the original line delivery was just better. And fans aren’t the only ones confused about it.

Maile Flanagan, Naruto’s English voice actor, has said “I can guarantee I did not say that line that way… And I guarantee no voice director of Naruto or the games would have me do that in that way.”

Why Does Silent Hill Ascension Sound Like That?

The interactive television series, Silent Hill: Ascension, has sparked rumours that the script might have been written by AI. Users can stream the episodes and collectively vote on choices in the series, influencing its direction. However, some scenes have been facing some scrutiny.

One particular scene of note has the main characters out in the woods, doing Silent Hill business, when a lone NPC comes across them in a flustered state. He declares he has been foraging for berries, and he has foraged for berries for many seasons. And he makes jams. And he offers the jams before disappearing into the forest, presumably to forage for more berries.

Jacob Navok insists that every word in Ascension was written by real people.

And now for some upcoming games!

November 30

  • Biomutant – Switch
  • Gangs of Sherwood – PC, PS5, XSX
  • Hawked – PC
  • Pixel Cafe – PC, PS5, XSX, Switch
  • This Means Warp – PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
  • Tintin Reporter – Cigars of the Pharaoh – PS4
  • Toasterball – Switch

December 1

  • Batman: Arkham Trilogy – Switch
  • Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince – Switch

December 4

  • Make Way – PC
  • The Wagadu Chronicles – PC

December 5

  • Born of Bread – PC
  • Tram Simulator Urban Transit – PC

December 7

  • Arizona Sunshine 2 – PC VR, PSVR 2
  • The Day Before – PC
  • Lego Bricktales VR – Quest
  • Terminator: Dark Fate – Defiance – PC
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader – PC, PS5, XSX

That’s it this week in gaming news!

Take-Two Talks Taking More, Gamemaker Goes Game Dev Friendly, Roblox Sued Again, And Gaming Bytes

Take-Two Talks Taking More
Last week saw GTA 6 developer Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick have a different take on gaming pricing. While gaming fans hold the game time to price value high, Zelnick wants to take that on board with future titles with a statement to investors saying
“In terms of pricing for any entertainment property, basically the algorithm is the value of the expected entertainment usage, which is to say the per hour value times the number of expected hours plus the terminal value that’s perceived by the customer in ownership, if the title is owned rather than rented or subscribed to.” While this does sound like a dollar per hour measurement, he has clarified the statement this week that this is not a linear relationship, but rather a statement on the value of games. And we can definitely trust the CEO of Take-Two, a company whose biggest earner is GTA Online.

Game Engine Gamemaker Goes Game Dev Friendly
In the wake of Game Publishers Unity and Epic calling for price “restructuring”, Gamemaker, a popular tool for creating 2D and 3D games, has released their new price point and bucked the recent trend. Because of the recent three-fold increase in active users since they joined the Opera family, instead of gouging the user base and changing from a monthly model to a per game install or price per hour played, Gamemaker is celebrating the explosion in users by announcing a new free option for non-commercial use with the ability to export their games to Windows, Mac, and Linux without paying any fees. They’ve also included their asset bundles for use in this free tier. Upgrading is also simple, want to monetise? $99.99USD. Want to put it on consoles? Well, that’s an Enterprise subscription. With games utilising this engine like Undertale, Webbed, Honey, I joined a Cult, and over 290 more listed in Gamemaker’s showcase, we can be sure to see a gamut of Indi games from this engine in the future.

Roblox Sued Over Child Safety
In the pandemic years Roblox saw a massive influx of underage users (over 60% of users are under 16 years of age) due to the social nature and declaration of safety for minors that the platform claims. The community guidelines claim that ““Roblox is a safe space for meeting online friends, chatting, and collaborating on creative projects.” And “If your child is under 13, we make it extremely difficult for strangers on Roblox to contact them.”
However, a group of parents have filed a civil action suit against Roblox for not meeting their end of the deal, with claims of grooming, sexual content, and the inability to monitor their children’s purchases due to Robux obscuring transaction worth.
Roblox Corp provided a statement to PCGAMER disputing the allegations and reinforced that the site was safe “for people of all ages.”

Now for some quick gaming bytes!

    • Xbox is running a Bluey Sweepstakes to celebrate the upcoming release of Bluey the Videogame coming to PC and consoles. The winner will not only receive the game but also receive a custom Bluey Themed Xbox Series S and controller. Wackadoo!

  • This week Half-Life turned 25 and celebrated by a going free for a limited time. Valve also released a special anniversary update for the game which included bug fixes, official Steam Deck support, multiplayer maps, and more.

Now it’s time for this week’s game releases!

Friday November 24, survive the post apocalypse in the side scroller shooter Evil Diary coming to PC and consoles.
Tuesday the 28th, take a train ride home through civil war in the RTS Last Train Home coming to PC.
On Wednesday the 29th, get stuck in time loops in puzzle/adventure game Orten Was The Case coming to PC and consoles.
And next week on the 30th, find yourself one cup at a time in Pixel Cafe coming to PC, Switch, and next gen consoles. Want to play FTL but as a roguelike with friends? Well, This Means Warp has you covered, coming to PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.