This week Zed Games round table is lead by Hazel, with Paul and Peter sitting on a wall. Then comes the regular Gaming News from Maylee, with the team talking the Tomb Raider relaunch and the Xbox rumour mills. Paul swings to win in the full release of Phantom Abyss. And the team chats the massive demo drop of this Feb’s Steam NextFest.
This week marked the launch of Todd “it just works” Howard/Bethesda’s shiny new RPG, Starfield. Starfield went supernova, instantly becoming the biggest Bethesda launch of all time, and since its release it has hoarded over 6 million players, with over a million concurrent players shooting into the stratosphere when counting over all platforms. With official mod support coming next year, PC players have had the hardest time since release, with Intel and Nvidia systems copping the brunt of the issues. Todd Howard’s response for people with PCs?
Unity, no longer for the gamer
Unity, the game engine behind Rust, Hollow Knight, and Pokémon Go, and the controversial Creative AI Unity Muse and Unity Sentis, has introduced a controversial new fee for developers. The Runtime Fee, set to take effect in 2024, is a per-install fee that will apply to games that reach a previously established annual revenue threshold and a lifetime install count. Indie developers are concerned that this new policy will kill smaller games with the new system severely affecting their bottom line, and leading devs of free-to-play games questioning if they’d end up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more under the new system. Unity’s attempts to provide clarity have so far only fueled devs’ frustration and spawned more questions from those with both currently active and in-development games using the engine. This has led to warnings from industry professionals such as creative director at Necrosoft Games, Brandon Sheffield, stating in an op-ed for Insert Credit, “But now I can say, unequivocally, if you’re starting a new game project, do not use Unity,” and “If you started a project 4 months ago, it’s worth switching to something else. Unity is quite simply not a company to be trusted.”
After regrouping on the evening of September 12, Unity clarified their previous statement, claiming that they will only charge for the initial installation of a game, reversing their previous stance that multiple charges would be made for reinstalls. Unity also stated that the fee will only apply to monetized titles and that charity games and bundles are exempt; however, the announcement has raised further questions about the impact on the free-to-play genre, as well as demo installs. Further, concerns remain about how installs will be tracked, with the potential for abuse by bad actors, and devs concerned about the need to implement third party DRM (Digital Rights Management) in their games.
E3 is Dead, Long Live E4?
With the earlier announcement this week that PAX organiser Reedpop and E3 had cut ties, it may come as unsurprising news that E3 2024 is in doubt. The Entertainment Software Association or ESA who runs E3 have also informed the longstanding home of E3, the LA Convention Center, they will not be there in 2024. However, according to news site GamesIndustry.biz they are “working on a complete reinvention of the E3 show for 2025.” We live in hope.
And now for some Gaming Bytes.
About to load up Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty DLC? Best check your system with Lead Scene Programmer CD PROJEKT RED Filip Pierściński imploring gamers via tweet to check system stability and to “please check conditions of your cooling systems in PC.”
And feeling old? Well Steam turned 20 on the 12th of September , and 25 year old fansite AtariAge has been acquired by Atari.
Now for some upcoming games.
Friday September 15, Baby Shark: Sing & Swim Party comes to Pc, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch, and tech themed 3D platformer Boti: Byteland Overclocked comes to PC.
Tuesday September 19, start your week with an open-world high-fantasy strategy RPG Dragonheir: Silent Gods, coming to PC. Or, race to your parking space in You Suck At Parking coming to PS4 and Switch. Can you become a real boy in the Pinocchio soulslike Lies of P, coming to PC, Xbox and PlayStation. And lastly for Tuesday, Mortal Kombat 1 comes to PC, PS5, Xbox Series X and Switch.
Wednesday September 20, kick animal butt in the brawler/party game Party Animals, coming to PC, and Xbox. And, put the shooting or spell slinging in the S of FPS in the dark fantasy roguelite shooter Witchfire, coming to PC.
And finally, Thursday September 21st brings free-to-play medieval warfare PVP Warhaven to PC. Want to release your inner Addams family Thing within to defeat some feet? Then play Super Adventure Hand! coming to PC and Switch. And to finish, Payday 3 is coming to PC and next gen consoles.
SURPRISE EARLY PODCAST!
In celebration of our collaboration with Netherworld for the Indie Dev Night we’re releasing this weeks podcast EARLY! So listen in as Maylee, Hazel, & Paul talk gaming news, this years not E3 announcements and Hazel does a special In Memoriam for the online phenomenon Blazeball.
So gather your salutes, gird your tear ducts, and open your ear holes.
Prepare your senses as Zed Games hosts Paul, Caroline, and Peter talk Gaming News and PSVR 2 incoming, Paul feels the beat to review Hi-Fi Rush, and the crew talk best of their experiences in Steam Next Fest 2023.
Valve has posted a job listing. Nothing new, except that it gives us a hint of what’s to come, with the listing looking for someone to ‘prototype, ship, and support’ a virtual reality headset, saying “At Valve, we are pushing the boundaries of virtual reality experiences… The main scope of this position is to prototype, ship, and support consumer gaming products leveraging visual-inertial tracking, camera passthrough, environment understanding, eye tracking, and hand tracking.”
This certainly isn’t Valve’s first foray into VR, but it does signal a push to get ahead in the VR headset market.
Metaverse Isn’t Popular
Decentraland, a Metaverse project, hasn’t exactly been flourishing. It’s a sandbox environment where users can buy and sell virtual real estate, and has a market cap of $1.2 billion. The number of active users over a 24 hour period? 38.
Dencentraland do point out that active users are defined as unique blockchain wallet addresses, which leaves out users who just use it as a place to socialise and hang out, which may bring numbers up to 8000 users per day.
Doom’s On Notepad Now
You’ve seen Doom on PC, consoles, calculators, pregnancy tests, and more. Now get ready for 60 frames per second Doom gameplay in notepad, the very same notepad you have at home. It is playable, using text to create the visuals, much like ASCII art. In very quick, simplified terms, notepad is being used as a monitor, with other software running in the background doing the hard work.
Splatoon Gets a Bit… Rowdy
Nintendo had to release a public statement recently, reminding players of Nintendo’s streaming guidelines, and more specifically, how open streamers are to legal actions. Why? Streamers had started a trend of using chroma-key to superimpose explicit adult videos over the enemy’s ink, essentially treating it as a kind of greenscreen.
As it goes against Nintendo’s streaming guidelines, they can now take down posts, videos, and streams, and even pursue legal action.
The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association has announced the winners of the 2022 Australian Game Developer Awards. Judging goes through 70 game industry professionals, with winners from 13 categories announced, plus an additional 4 cultural awards, resulting in this year’s awards being filled with the highlights of what Australia has to offer.
Cult of the Lamb has left with four awards, including Game of the Year.
Julian Wilton, Creative Director of Massive Monster, says “After experiencing our success overseas, it was an amazing feeling to see our game really resonate with Australians as well. We received such strong support locally and we love that it’s being enjoyed, not just for the gameplay, but also for the art and music.”
Raymond Corrigan, the creator of Earthlingo, won the Rising Star award.
Ryan McMahon, art director at Playside Studios, won the Ambition award.
Clara Reeves, CEO of Hipster Whale, has been recognised for her ongoing contributions to the Australian games industry with the Adam Lancman award.
Gameloft Brisbane has come away with the last cultural award with the Studio of the Year award.
And now for some upcoming games!
- The Case of the Golden Idol – PC
- The Darkest Tales – PC, XBO, Switch
- The Eternal Cylinder – PS5, XSX
- Fueled Up – PC, PS4, XBO
- GOAL! The Club Manager – PC
- Kao the Kangaroo: Oh! Well DLC – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
- Lost Eidolons – PC
- Sunday Gold – PC
- Triangle Strategy – PC
- Trifox – Switch
- Winter Games 2023 – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
- Dragon Ball: The Breakers – PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
- NHL 23 – PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO
- No More Heroes 3 – PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO
- PGA Tour 2K23 Standard Edition – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO
- Saint Kotar – PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
- Scorn – PC, XSX
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival – Switch
- Trifox – PC, XSX, XBO
- Destiny’s Sword – PC
- A Plague Tale: Requiem – PC, XSX, PS5, Switch
- Amberial Dreams – PC
- Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO
- Marvel Snap – PC
- Them’s Fightin’ Herds – PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
- The Last Hero of Nostalgaia – PC, XSX, XBO
- The Last Worker – PC
- Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection – PC
- The Valiant – PC
- Batora: Lost Haven – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO
- Hell is Others – PC
- The Jackbox Party Pack 9 – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
- Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope – Switch
- The Pegasus Expedition – PC
- Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
Indonesia Bans Steam
As Indonesia rolls out new content moderation laws, many online services have been affected, including Steam, PayPal, Epic Games, and even Yahoo.
Companies that are considered private electronic system providers have to register with the Indonesian government’s database to operate in the country. Any companies that failed to do so by 27th July have been banned.
Aside from making it challenging for those in Indonesia to access video games, the requirement is part of an overarching law that is intended to allow the Indonesian government to obtain data about users, and remove content that “disturbs public order”.
Microsoft, Google, Apple, TikTok, Netflix, Spotify, and many other service providers have successfully registered a licence, allowing them to continue to operate.
As of now, Valve is attempting to comply with the requirements, and PayPal has been temporarily unblocked.
Steam Bans Award Logos
The practice of putting award logos and review scores in key art on Steam is coming to an end. Valve is introducing new rules for store key art, or “store graphical assets”, prioritising cleaner images for the storefront.
Review scores, award names, and promotion of a different product are all banned starting from September 1st. If developers want to promote a major update, they can use “artwork overrides”, which slaps a separate layer over existing images.
Valve states that the move is prompted not only to reduce visual clutter, but also to avoid review scores that may be outdated, or even the sketchy practice of making up award names to make a game look a little fancier.
Diablo Immortal Player is Alone
Diablo Immortal has been having some bad press, but now the focus is on a player who has spent $142,000 AUD on the MMORPG, effectively locking him out of the game.
Diablo Immortal’s system allows players to invest financially in order to upgrade their character, a system often called ‘pay-to-win’, and it definitely works. Now this player’s barbarian is so overpowered that he has won hundreds of matches against other players, with very, very few losses. As a result, the game simply will not match him with another player, as there are simply none who could be fairly matched against him.
The player has contacted Blizzard hoping for a way to resolve this problem, however with an upcoming event called the Rite of Exile, he is unable to assist his clan, and with being stuck in matchmaking purgatory, he is unable to even qualify.
He isn’t exactly being met with sympathy, with some players saying that ‘he got what he paid for’.
And now for some upcoming games!
- Hard West 2 (PC)
- Turbo Golf Racing (PC, XSX, XBO)
- Thymesia (PC, PS5, XSX)
- Two Point Campus (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
- Lost In Play (PC, Switch)
- Arcade Paradise (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
- Cult Of The Lamb (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
With lockdown looming Ezie takes to the studio alone, but not in spirit. With Games keeping the company they discuss gaming news from Maylee, Tobi reviews the wholesome RPG game Garden Story, and Ezie reviews the brain twitching puzzler Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions.
This week Paul takes over Zed Games. Together with Zahra they discuss the news and Firmware updates, then Zahra takes over the helm reviewing Black Skylands before Paul traps us with a review of Webbed.
Developer: Igor Uduslivii aka icoeye
Publisher: Spooky House Studios
Audio: Composer – Gemfire (Andrei Scerbatiuc)
Platforms: Mobile and Windows
Release Date: iOS/Android: Summer of 2019, Steam 8/9/2020
While away from my aging beast of a computer and staying with family, I found myself listless and avoidant of the games I had brought along to play on my Switch. So, like any sane person, I started trawling the Google Play store for a game. A game that was not bogged down with ads and provided some escapism from this family trip without draining the rural wifi, or relying upon non-existent mobile connectivity… and for the low, low price of freemium. This is how I came upon today’s game, Progressbar95.
Some things really bring out the nostalgia in me. I thought the sound of a dial-up modem, or the smell of warm chipsets would be the only things that could bring me back to my childhood gaming world, but Progressbar95 brought out a new one in me.
I never thought I would hear that warming computer rattle sound again, the click as the cathode ray tube monitor started up, and while the start-up sounds have been changed, they are still reminiscent of the operating system … of your choice…
Yes, not only can you relive the operating system ending in 95, but you can go as far back as inserting a floppy disk in the A:\ drive and loading your DOS operating system. You can also push forwards to the questionable choices of the present, and even sideways to operating systems you may have only ever heard of. And for those of you who had fancier parents than I, you can even unlock the other operating fruit’s systems as you progress.
So why am I dancing around the names of the systems? Because that’s what Proagressbar95 does… there will be no glass filled wall holes or fruit-based names found in this game. Instead Wista, Largehorn, and Bar OS will tickle that nostalgia nerve within.
The progression of this operating system sim occurs through a range of casual arcade minigames, the premise of all being the collection of segments to complete the infamous loading bar. The points you receive award you with computer part upgrades that you need to then move to the next operating system.
The first core gaming loop to gain these points is to collect the completed blue segments as they fall from the top of your screen in the ever-diminishing space in your loading bar. All while avoiding pink errors, yellow fragmented particles, red system errors, complicated pop-ups, mines, electrical surges, occasional lasers and the omnipresent and always helpful Clippy. These are all available in the unlockable difficulties of Normal, Relaxed, Hardcore, and Custom, as well as the random bonus stages reminiscent of galaxy zooming screensavers and The Matrix’s computer interface!
But be not afraid of the many popups and system errors that will drain the heart tally at the top of your screen. You can occasionally fall back on the minigame fixes with Defrag and ScanProgress to assist you with errored segments and blue screen of death system errors. All with appropriately long cooldowns.
As you level up your skill by filling your load bar, your progression will unlock more minigames that take you deeper into the rabbit hole of nostalgia.
A selection of these being; ProgressSweeper, a mine-finding game similar to another sweeper game you may have heard of, with a double layered twist; Progress Defender, a tower defence version of the base game where you work to block the persistent Clippy and protect programs generating loading progression segments; Progress Commander, where you need to react to make sure to accurately move a command in time to build your loading column; plus so many more, and with current development schedules, even more are coming!
Other ways to get points can be found by finding dead pixels on the screen, or lady bugs in programs, shutting down the operating system when you finish your playtime, mini puzzles, and a DOS simulation. This is one of my favourites, as in this DOS sim Command/DOS aficionados can find hidden cheat codes and bonuses in randomized file systems and match 5 HEX puzzles, plus the ability to explore the programming files and all that entails.
Finally, there is also Bin. Bin is your Tamagotchi-esque pet who needs constant reassurance, petting, and cleaning. Cleaning this pet daily rewards you with a nice chunk of points, especially if you fill them with folders from the previous day of DOS based files. Plus seeing them grow in happiness is its own reward.
However, this game would not be the joy it is without the nostalgia that glues it together. What immerses me in this game and makes me rave to my wife about resurfacing old memories, is the soundscape changes that match the game’s visual changes. A DOS based operating system would not seem accurate without hearing the A:\ drive clunk and grind away loading up the blue visual base, and the near constant whir of fans and hard drives in the background. I was almost disappointed when I reached the point where I managed to get solid state drives removing the need for the background hum, and then with joy did I see a popup asking if I wanted to keep it.
It’s the accuracy of these and the mouse clicks, the sounds marking the opening and closing of basic user interfaces, the alert tone of system crashes and associated hardware shutdowns, all of these makes the game feel close enough to the old experiences allowing one to wallow luxuriantly in the joyous nostalgia.
Now I experienced most of this on my PC, as once I returned from my rural family visit I wanted to explore this game through my other everyday screen. This means I generally missed-out on the pop-in advertisements and pay-to-progress elements that are built into the mobile version of this game. However, I did not find that my freemium experience was intruded or overwhelmed by these monetisation methods, and for those that do find issue with this, there is an ad-free price point available to purchase.
There are also a few bugs in the Steam version. Earlier in my game time (<20 hours) I was unsure if the game glitches were intentional or not, because, as we all know, operating systems can be very buggy. But as I put more time into the game, I was not too sure. Despite this, Progressbar95 has a great fan-based bug reporting system with constant developer updates and regular game expansions, so I can only see this game bettering over time.
So, if you are like me and remember fondly the days of A:\ drives, Windows upgrades and DOS commands, I would recommend downloading ProgressBar95, because at whatever price point you choose, the memories that this game revives are worth the price of entry.
In studio: Razor, Candi Payne and Jody Macgregor.
Steam’s decision to begin charging for mods, beginning with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, caused a backlash that nearly broke the internet. To help us understand the controversy, we’re joined by modder Will Marks (STALKER: LURK). Candi reviews The Silent Age (Mobile).
Aired 29 April 2015.