Tag: game development

Rainbows, GameStop, PS5s and Maybe A New Game?

Pride Month Is Here (For Non-Australians)

During pride month, to celebrate our queer communities and embrace it, there are a number of events, parades, and parties galore, and the gaming scene isn’t any different. The Queer Games Bundle makes another appearance in 2022 on itch.io where you can own 588 games for just $60, with all proceeds going directly to the creators of those games.

Tell Me Why is free on Xbox, Riot Games, Fall Guys, and Warframe are having events and added cosmetic items to show your pride and support, and many companies have made statements in support of the LGBTQIA+ communities. So don’t be surprised if your favourite games are looking a bit more vibrant this month.

GameStop Employees Have Stopped

Over the weekend the GameStop in the Gateway Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska was closed as overworked and understaffed employees walked out, putting out an explanation as to why:

“Attention GameStop patrons: we regret to inform you that we all quit, our district manager has no respect for us as employees or as human beings. We have been told by our distinct manager that we were supposed to have had this store achieving sales quotas and running perfectly 6 months ago. Which was 3 months before a lot of us even got hired. Unfortunately, despite the staffs’ best efforts, we are not god.”

The notice also pointed patrons towards other establishments for their gaming needs, stating:

“Spend your money at an establishment that respects it’s employees.”

New Kojima Horror Game

Allegedly early footage of a new Hideo Kojima horror game has been leaked, reportedly a title called Overdose. The footage supposedly shows Mama from Death Stranding wearing a blue dress, but the game doesn’t seem to be Death Stranding 2.

Hideo Kojima has expressed interest in making another horror game, stating that he has ideas that would “make you defecate in your pants”.

Kojima Productions had signed a deal with Microsoft for an Xbox-exclusive title, but there’s nothing solid to suggest it could be Overdose, assuming that Overdose is even a real game.

It Might Be Easier To Get A PS5 Soon

Sony has projected that it will sell up to 18 million sales this fiscal year, with that number based on Sony’s ‘current visibility into parts procurement’.

Last fiscal year Sony sold 11.5 million PS5 consoles, and the year before that was only 7.8 million consoles, so 18 million consoles is not a small number. It remains to be seen whether Sony can achieve that 60% jump in producing consoles and selling them.

And now for some upcoming games!

June 9

  • Green Hell VR (Steam VR)
  • Madshot (PC)
  • Postal: Brain Damaged (PC)
  • Pro Cycling Manager 2022 (PC)
  • Tour de France 2022 (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

June 10

  • Mario Strikers: Battle League (Switch)
  • The Quarry (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

June 14

  • Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Biosyn Expansion (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

June 16

  • Autonauts (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Overlord: Escape from Nazarick (PC, Switch)
  • Redout 2 (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Starship Troopers – Terran Command (PC)

Money and More Money and Bombs

Twitch wants more money

Twitch, Amazon’s video game streaming platform, is currently considering making big changes to the monetization systems. These changes are starting to concern streamers as Twitch wants to implement multiple changes to its partner program that will hopefully boost profits. Some of these changes are new revenue split from subscriptions, a new tier system, and bolstering advertisements. “YAY!” – said no one. The proposed cut would see partnered streamer’s revenue from subscriptions drop from 70% to 50%. A Twitch streamer PleasantlyTwstd commented to Kotaku saying, “Smaller streamers I think are going to have little to no incentive at this stage to really push for growth. It’s going to start feeling like if you want to make a payout you have to hit more subs and the struggle at current is discoverability at all.” Twitch intends of releasing these new changes to the website in the coming few months.

Activision Blizzard losing some more

Activision Blizzard has released its latest financial report, and the numbers are bad. Revenue, player numbers as well as poor sales on new releases such as Call of Duty means that Microsoft are going to have to work hard to pull them out of this one. For the recent quarter Blizzard was reported turning over $1.77 Billion compared to $2.28 Billion the previous year, but the big hit is the number of users logging in and playing. There are currently 372 million players for this last quarter as opposed to the 435 million from last year. 60 million less players per month is a huge nose dive. All this plummeting revenue and player count seems to be linked to the buy out from Microsoft not to mention the large number of players boycotting Activision Blizzard from its on-going internal harassment and abuse allegations. Especially since the latest news is that Bobby Kotick former CEO of Activision Blizzard has been reported threatening to kill someone. Only time will tell what happens next.

PlayStation bomb scare in Boston

Passengers at Boston’s Logan International Airport were recently evacuated over the Easter Holidays as the local bomb squad were called in to check out a “suspicious item”. Turns out it was really a PlayStation in a “degraded condition”. A spokesperson from the Massachusetts State Police stated “The condition of the console caused abnormalities in the image produced when it was x-rayed, prompting the screeners’ concern. During the investigation of the object and secondary sweeps of the area, passengers in Terminal A were evacuated.” After a thorough investigation an hour later the bomb squad gave the “all-clear.”

This week in gaming releases:

April 28th
• Bugsnax [XSX, XBO, Switch]
• Bugsnax: Isle of Bigsnax update [All Platforms]
• The House of the Dead: Remake
• Kaiju Wars [PC]
• Kapital: Sparks of Revolution [PC]
• Rogue Lords
• Trigon: Space Story [PC]

April 29th
• Dandy & Randy DX [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
• Nintendo Switch Sports [Switch]
• Ravenous Devils [All Platforms]
• Sea of Craft [PC]

May 4th
• Wildcat Gun Machine [All Platforms]

Support for Ukraine, Steam Deck, Pokemon and Gaming Bytes

Developers react to Russia’s war with Ukraine.
In the last week, as Russia invaded Ukraine, several studios, developers, and publishers from around the world have voiced their support for Ukraine and its plight.
International developers such as CD Projekt Red have tweeted

“We cannot remain indifferent in the face of such injustice and we ask everybody to join in and help in any way you can. Together we can make a huge difference.”

State of Play Games and Amanita Design have also joined in donating their earnings to the cause. In some cases, this support has resulted in backlashes from the gaming community. After 11 bit studios declared they would be donating profits from sales of This War of Mine to the Ukrainian Red Cross, they were review bombed by players from China and Russia, and Space Engineers received similar treatment after announcing their support for Ukraine.
Closer to Ukraine, indie developer Crytivo’s CEO Alex Koshelkov announced all profits from February and March, and 1 million Polish zloty, will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross, as well as support for Ukrainian employees while they search for safety. CEO of tiny build also voiced their support for their Ukrainian employees, tweeting “Nobody gets left behind.” Wargaming, developers of World of Tanks, supported their over 550 Ukrainian developers by assisting them to find alternative housing, early salary, and making sure relocation and evacuation efforts are paid for. They also donated a million USD to the Ukrainian Red Cross, and when their creative director posted support for the invasion of Ukraine on social media, they quickly acted “letting him go[sic]” the next day.
With Ukraine calling for support from developers, other companies such as EA Sport and The Chinese Room, developers of Little Orpheus, have joined with others in their support of Ukraine.

Steam Deck
In lighter news, with the limited release of the Steam Deck in the U.S., Gabe Newell, president of Valve Corp, has been spotted hand-delivering signed Steam Decks in Seattle. The Steam Deck released on the 25th of February along with the free game Aperture Desk Job to celebrate the console’s capabilities. Critiques on battery life and gaming power are rife, and some users are already reporting stick drift. Furthermore, while Destiny 2 can run on Linux, Bungie has issued a statement that those who hack Destiny 2 to work on the console will be met with game bans.
However, Gabe Newell has already talked about the future with Steam Deck 2 on the horizon as a possible VR running machine.

Ducks, Kittens and Apple Crocs Coming to Pokémon.
After the announcement earlier this week of a Pokémon Direct, fans were already getting their hopes up for a Gen 9 Pokémon game. And they were not disappointed. Right at the end of the Direct, they announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet along with the three starters; an attention seeking grass cat called Sprigatito, a relaxed fire type crocodile named Fuecoco, and Quaxly, an earnest new water duck. Both the names and the release video have lead Pokémon fans to speculate that the Gen 9 region will be inspired by Spain, and the game will follow the open world style that has become so popular with the recent release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Now for some quick Gaming Bytes:
● American and British Sign Language support coming to Forza Horizon 5 on March 1st.
● In the 25th annual D.I.C.E. awards show local Brisbane developer Witch Beam won the award for Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game for Unpacking.
● Activision has ended a near 20 year tradition of annual releases of Call of Duty by delaying the next edition in the franchise until 2023.
● Nintendo may have joined the acquisition wars after acquiring long term partner SRD, after working with them for almost 40 years.
● Tokyo Game Show 2022 has revealed the theme of this year will be “Nothing Stops Gaming!!!” and will be a physical event taking place at Makuhari Messe from September 15 to 18.

And finally, some upcoming game releases.
On March 4, Gran Turismo 7 is coming to PlayStation. 80’s synth, arcade platformer, Gunborg: Dark Matter comes to PC, PlayStation, Xbox One and Switch. The upgraded Music Racer: Ultimate comes to next gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles. 2014’s Quest For Infamy gets a console release, releasing on PlayStation, Xbox and Switch. And finally, tactical RPG Triangle Strategy comes to Switch.
And March 10, real time space strategy Distant Worlds 2 comes to PC, and lastly, Submerged sequel Submerged: Hidden Depths, is a relaxing exploration game set in a ruined, water filled world and comes to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox.

LEGO Builder’s Journey

Developer: Light Brick Studio, Light Brick AS
Publisher: The Lego Group
Music: Hendrik Lindstrand
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X & S, iOS, PC (Windows & Mac)
Released: 20th December 2019
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure, Indie

Now you might be thinking, “Oh, a LEGO game similar to the likes of Harry Potter or Star Wars” well you’d be wrong this little gem is a small-time indie development that differs greatly from other games in the LEGO franchise. This story follows a father and son depicted in LEGO where they go on an adventure in a series of different stages using the ability of building LEGOs to reach their destinations. There are no subtitles or dialog to follow, simply the story is told throughout gameplay using its environment to illustrate each challenge and using beautiful level design to instruct the player how to overcome each stage.

There are many different levels with different themes, such as hoping along beaches, climbing mountains, navigating swamp lands as well as some dark industrial style levels. You play as both the parent and child using your third-party abilities to move LEGO pieces around the scene to help build bridges, steps, or make shift ramps to get each character to the end of the puzzle. Some levels are more difficult than others but overall, there is no incorrect way to solve them just the limit of you LEGO building imagination.

LEGO Builder’s Journey is a 3D puzzle platformer that is very kind on the player. LEGO is about building and creating solutions with your imagination and this block building brilliance allows you exactly that. With each puzzle you encounter you are free to move pieces where and how you like. With very intuitive block moving and placing mechanics the game feels smooth and intentional. As you progress through, levels can become a little more challenging with the introduction of sinking mud, larger gaps to cover, weight scales and not to mention some levels that involve making a skate track for your character to ride on.

I played LEGO Builder’s Journey on the Nintendo Switch and found the controls to feel really intuitive, you can even use the touch screen when in handheld mode, my only issue was that you have to use the A button to both rotate and place pieces. The UI is minimalistic and innocuous, I actually consider the UI to be my overall favourite aspect of the game it felt really kind on the user, it also felt totally natural when moving through the main menu as well as understanding narrative without any dialog. I found that the tutorial parts of the game where enhanced buy this seamless UI experience. The UI design is simply phenomenal.

There is exclusively one gameplay mode which is the story, with the PC version of LEGO Builder’s Journey has a couple more levels than the Nintendo Switch version if end up looking for more content, which could happen given that the gameplay time was roughly 2 hours in total. I must say that LEGO Builder’s Journey could definitely have benefited from being much longer as it was kind of sad that the moment, I was getting right into it, it came to an end. In saying that each moment that I did spend in game was well and truly worth it, don’t let the short run time deter you from this fantastic indie experience.

The sound design is calming and simple, using delicate sound effects for each object you interact with as well as nice clinks and clunks from placing blocks. The score of music that plays in the background is the best kind for unwinding after a long day. The composer Hendrik Lindstrand has provided a beautiful soundscape for you to drift away on, as you place LEGO blocks the music gently guides you on your journey and really adds to that feeling of imagination and wonder that we all know and love about LEGO.

I must say that LEGO Builder’s Journey is blocktacular and beautiful. With subtle and effective UI too delightfully calm music, it really is a short and sweet adventure. From around $20 on the Nintendo eShop and $30 on Steam it maybe a little steep so keep an eye out for when it goes on special. Despite how short the duration of play is I found the story captivating and each level I played I was spurred on by the beautifully directed relationship between child and parent. What is LEGO without a heart-warming family building relationship? At least this one you don’t accidentally step on any bricks in the middle of the night… OW!