Thursday, April 9, 2020 April 09, 2020 at 02:49AM - Animal Crossing fans find coffee shop, art gallery references

As Animal Crossing: New Horizons fans begin hitting the endgame for their islands, there's already chatter about what comes next.

Now, sparked by references from the game's own animal characters, there's speculation two classic locations from earlier Animal Crossing games could return.

The first is the coffee shop, run by cooing barista pigeon Brewster. The second is the art gallery portion of the museum, which you fill with (hopefully not fake) masterpieces procured by a shady fox named Red.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2020 April 08, 2020 at 09:27AM - Stadia Pro is currently free for two months

Google is making its much-maligned video game streaming service, Stadia, free for two months, in response to what it calls "some of the most challenging times in recent memory".

"Keeping social distance is vital, but staying home for long periods can be difficult and feel isolating," wrote Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison in a new blog post, "Video games can be a valuable way to socialise with friends and family when you're stuck at home, so we're giving gamers in 14 countries free access to Stadia for two months."

Those interested in putting Stadia through its paces can do so, simply by signing up via the official website, whereupon "instant access" will be provided to nine games, including GRID, Destiny 2: The Collection, and Thumper.

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from April 08, 2020 at 09:06AM - Cyberpunk 2077 has a gang that protects sex workers

It's been a while since we've heard anything significant about Cyberpunk 2077's lore - but today the official Twitter account dropped a snippet of information about a new faction, and it certainly sounds interesting.

According to the tweet, one of the game's new factions is called The Mox: a group that formed in the year 2076 following the death of Elizabeth "Lizzie" Borden. She was a strip club owner and ex-prostitute who "treated her workers fairly and defended them from violent clients" - and it seems her followers do the same, as the gang claims to "protect working girls and guys" from violence and abuse. Although whether that protection is genuine or just an excuse for pimping is another matter.

Either way, it sounds like an intriguing backstory for a faction, and hopefully the topic will be handled with care in the game. Personally I'm also eager to find out what happened to poor Lizzie.

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Review: Lotte Popping Corn Chips Original

These snacks were kind of like Bugles — a shape that we've seen in different brands all over the world -- but they changed the shape this time, as the open-ended bugle was transformed into a hollow triangular pillow-like shape. ...

from Snack Reviews
by April 08, 2020 at 08:35AM April 08, 2020 at 03:35AM - Apex Legends was "negatively impacted" by solos, Respawn says

From almost the first day Apex Legends burst onto the battle royale scene, fans started calling for a solos option to be included alongside the standard squads of three. Eventually, their prayers were answered in August last year with a limited-time event. But it seems unlikely solos will return as a permanent option anytime soon, as Respawn says the mode was detrimental to the overall game.

The reason for this, as explained in the latest patch notes, is that solos harmed game balance and made Apex Legends less appealing to new players.

"When we introduced solos as a limited-time mode last year we saw it actually negatively impacted the game, especially when it came to new player retention," the blog post explained. "We've also purposely designed legends and their abilities to compliment teamplay and squad composition, but when played solo some legend abilities become useless."

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from April 08, 2020 at 03:24AM - The internet reacts to the PlayStation 5 controller

Last night, Sony unveiled the PlayStation 5's new controller. It's named DualSense, which sounds like something requiring AA batteries you'd hide under your bed. Naturally, the internet has opinions.

Some people think it looks like a robot, its horizontally aligned thumbsticks peering out like horrible eyes. To others, it looks like a strappy black dress on a coat hanger.

But everyone seems to agree on one thing - it'd look a lot nicer in black, or any other colour. To that end, fans have already begun photoshopping some preferred colour options which Sony might like to take a look at down the line.

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from April 08, 2020 - Someone should make a game about: The Last Tycoon

My dad once told me that F. Scott Fitzgerald would write down all of the seemingly random sentences that came to him throughout the course of a day and then try to work them into what he was writing. Whether this is true, I do not really wish to know. In my head, at least, it's why Fitzgerald's books have such a peculiar ability to haunt. They have sentences that can spring free of context and just follow you around for a day, a week, a month.

Don't wake the Tarkington ghosts. This line has been in my head for years. My copy of The Last Tycoon, Fitzgerald's final novel, is dated November 2nd, 1996, in the inside cover. So I guess I've been worrying on and off about the Tarkington ghosts for the best part of 25 years. I have never woken them! Fitzgerald would be proud. But still, those ghosts are always with me, always slumbering.

The Last Tycoon is my favourite Fitzgerald. It's set in Hollywood and narrated by Cecilia, a girl who has "never been in pictures" but grew up in the business. Her father is a studio bigwig. Valentino came to her fifth birthday. So: "Even before the age of reason I was in a position to watch the wheels go round." Cecilia is the Carraway of this book, then, but with slight alterations. Still, Cecilia is largely there to watch in the book's first parts, and the person she watches the most in Monroe Stahr.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020 April 07, 2020 at 01:43PM - Sony unveils PlayStation 5's wireless DualSense game controller

Sure, getting the run down of all those terraflops and megaboops crammed majestically into the powerful heft of your preferred next-gen console is exciting in an abstract kind of way, but the real show doesn't start, I'd say, until we've seen the controller - that hunk of hopefully ergonomic plastic set to be clenched betwixt your digits for the half decade. And here we are, with a first look at DualSense, PlayStation 5's new wireless game controller.

According to Sony blog post reveal, the DualSense's design has now been finalised and is currently winging its way to developers, meaning it's ready for its first public showing.

The goal this time, around, says Sony, was to retain "much of what gamers love about DualShock 4...while also adding new functionality and refining the design". To that end, the PS5 controller features haptic feedback to "heighten that feeling of immersion", alongside adaptive triggers in the the L2 and R2 buttons "so you can truly feel the tension of your actions".

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from April 07, 2020 at 08:18AM - E3 2020 won't hold an "online experience" after all

E3's organiser, the ESA, has revised its plan to hold an online version of the now-cancelled E3 2020.

When cancelling the physical event last month, the ESA stated it was "exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020".

But this will no longer happen, PC Gamer now reports.

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from April 07, 2020 at 06:00AM - Dirt Rally 2.0's final DLC does the Colin McRae name justice

To players of a certain vintage, the Colin McRae name means one thing. It's not necessarily the Scotsman's 1995 world rally title, nor that X-Games moment or any of his other acts of remarkable tenacity behind the wheel - rather, the McRae name is associated with a kickass run of off-road games from Codemasters in the late 90s through to the mid-noughties. It's a name, like Tony Hawk, synonymous with video games.

So what a thrill it is to see it back on Codemasters' series. It's taken several detours since the McRae name was last attached to it back in 2009, some more enjoyable than others, but with Dirt Rally and its sequel the series is better than it's ever been. Indeed, it's been one of the delights of the past generation to see Codemasters back on its game, while also delivering a more hard-edged, nerdy type of driving experience. For fans of the genre like myself, it's been simply brilliant.

The recently-released Colin McRae Flat Out pack for Dirt Rally 2.0 feels like something of a well-earned victory lap, and one that comes with impeccable timing. The base game is now free on PlayStation Plus, if you haven't sampled its pleasures yet, and I'd strongly recommend digging into your pockets to get the DLC pack too. It's a swift little campaign that still delivers significant breadth - there are some 40 new events, often with entertaining McRae-inspired requirements like rolling over before completing a stage - all of which is easily unlockable in an afternoon's play.

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from April 07, 2020 at 04:23AM - Pokémon Go offers free care package of items

Pokémon Go has a smattering of free items for fans left unable to raid and complete tasks while self-isolating at home.

Running low on Golden Razz? You can nab a small amount of freebies with the following one-time-use code: EMRK2EZWLVSSZDC5

If you're playing on Android, you can simply paste that code into the bottom of the game's shop page. If you're on iOS, you'll need to redeem it via a web page where you'll need to sign-in here. And if you have any problems redeeming the code, there's some useful tips here.

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from April 07, 2020 at 03:21AM - Disco Elysium to rock out on Nintendo Switch

Just days after winning big at this year's BAFTAs, Disco Elysium has been confirmed for Nintendo Switch.

The announcement was made by art director Aleksander Rostov and narrative lead Helen Hindpere, speaking on the BBC's Game On podcast (thanks, Games Radar).

"This interview is, at this very moment, interrupting me from writing up design documentation for the user interface and input systems for the Switch port," Rostov said.

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from April 07, 2020 at 03:02AM - Lego Super Mario range releases in August

Lego's range of interactive Super Mario sets will debut in Europe and North America on 1st August.

The previously-announced Lego Super Mario Starter Course set with an interactive Mario will cost $60/€60 (around £53), and be accompanied by two optional expansions we're seeing properly here for the first time.

There's a smaller Piranha Plant Power Slide Expansion Set ($20/€20) and a larger Bowser's Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set ($100/€100), pictures of which lie below.

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from April 07, 2020 - Snowtopia is a tycoon game that feels like a cool breeze

Back when mags were in their heyday, I had a brilliant idea that I wish I could have seen make it to the newstands. Fake Snowboarder Magazine. Everything that I loved about snowboarding - the setting, the sense of speed and freedom, the travel, the having hot chocolate near a mountain. Just none of the faff of actually doing it.

Sometimes I feel a bit like that about skiing games. I love SSX and all that, but what I really love, I think, is that these games give you not a set of levels but an entire mountain range. In Steep - which is wonderful - I love leaving the slopes behind and pulling out to this huge wall of ice and rock, fabulously rippled and crenellated. I love mountains but I hate broken legs. What to do?

Snowtopia has spoken to me. I have been playing this game all week. It's a ski-slope tycoon game that's currently in a gorgeously slim alpha. It is also a lovely breath of crisp, chill breeze. It ruffles delightfully.

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Monday, April 6, 2020 April 06, 2020 at 08:29AM - PSN credit is currently on sale at ShopTo

If you've had your eye on something in the PSN Store or its current Spring Sale, you'll want to take a look at ShopTo where they're currently selling PSN credit at discounted prices.

PSN credit top-up cards at all values are reduced, so whether you want to make a splash with a huge purchase or just save a couple of quid there should be an option for you. All you need to do is purchase the value of PSN credit you want, enter the code on the PSN Store to add the funds to your account and then spend away. Look at it this way: it's essentially free money. And who can say no to that?

The PSN credit prices at ShopTo break down as follows:

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from April 06, 2020 at 04:02AM - Blizzard slaps "big dick" Overwatch streamers with $1k fine

A pair of professional Overwatch streamers have been slapped on the wrist by Blizzard for using "inappropriate chat during a league match".

Neither Los Angeles Valiant's Jung-Won "Lastro" Mun or San Francisco Shock's Dong-Jun "Rascal" Kim apparently realised their messages were publicly viewable when they typed "big dick", "big dick cccx" and "sex" to each other during a recent match (thanks, Loadout).

Unfortunately for the pair, these messages could be seen not just by teammates, but by shoutcasters and everyone else watching on the public stream. Screenshots of the chat show their fellow teammates reacting in surprise and dismay when they spot the not-so-private chat taking place.

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from April 06, 2020 at 03:56AM - In-game messages warn players: "Stay home, save lives"

UK video game developers are warning players to stay at home during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown - via in-game messages.

Activision Blizzard, Codemasters and Rebellion are working with the government on the promotion, which will see Public Health England's 'Stay Home Save Lives' campaign in and around games such as Candy Crush Saga and Sniper Elite 4. It's already in Dirt Rally 2.0.

In the case of Dirt Rally 2.0, you now see the "Stay home, save lives" message on a banner that hangs over the race track. Dirt Rally 2.0 goes free on PlayStation Plus tomorrow, 7th April, so this is the perfect time for it to spread the message. The government hopes by placing the ad in video games, it will get its lockdown instructions through to young people.

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from April 06, 2020 at 03:15AM - Nintendo has "adjusted" Animal Crossing's much-maligned eggs

There's a new patch for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and - thank god, yes - it has targeted the number of eggs.

The game's current Bunny Day egg event has taken over New Horizons, choked many methods of gaining standard crafting materials, and made that wooshy balloon noise a constant menace.

Today, patch version 1.1.4 is available for download and it "adjusts the rate of drops for some eggs until 11th April".

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from April 06, 2020 at 02:00AM - Reviewed: Amazon's £23 mechanical gaming keyboard

Mechanical keyboards used to be super expensive. When Twitch and esports rose to prominence at the start of the last decade, kicking off a wave of interest in these mechanical marvels, the only options out there were Japanese imports built around German-made Cherry MX switches. These boards delivered a rock-solid typing and gaming experience, but even the cheapest examples cost upwards of £100 here in the UK. That's a ton of money to spend on a peripheral, but the high cost of each mechanical switch - around £1, with 105 keys needed - meant that manufacturers and retailers alike only made a tiny profit on each unit sold.

Since then, the original Cherry switches have been joined by a sea of imitators working to similar blueprints, bringing down the cost of mechanical keyboards at a rapid pace. Today we reach a new standard of affordability, as Amazon's Basics line has expanded to include a genuine full-fat, full-size mechanical keyboard that changes its price regularly, but at its lowest retails for just over £20. This is our review of the Amazon Basics Programmable Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - and after a week, we're impressed.

At £22.67 including shipping, the Amazon Basics keyboard cost me about £100 less than the first mechanical keyboard I ever bought, a Japanese-made Filco Majestouch-2. That Filco was built like an absolute tank and felt fantastic to type on after a life of mushy membrane keyboards, but it had a pretty short feature list - just 105 mechanical, plate-mounted switches beneath tasteful plastic keycaps, with nary a secondary function or RGB backlight in sight.

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from April 06, 2020 - Paper Beast review: a transformative VR odyssey

Years ago he made a game called Another World, but even now Eric Chahi's stuff always comes from another place. He's thinking about the same things other game designers think about - physics, cinema, AI, and VR in the case of his latest - but I guess he's thinking about it all in a fundamentally different way. He loves nature, but he also loves change, the juddering forces that disrupt and transform. He loves myths, but he also loves volcanoes, tidal waves, the engines of ancient memory. His gods can do astonishing things, but they ultimately have to work within the taut confines of elemental rules just like the rest of us: fire burns, water sweeps away, earth and air can be both finely grained and terrifyingly powerful.

I am wary of the idea of the auteur, and Chahi always works with a decent-sized team, but there's no questioning that distinctive themes run through all of his games. They feel personal, these games, like someone returning to a favourite thought - and they often move the thinking on a bit. Back with Another World he created a hero who's sucked through a computer screen into an alien landscape. With From Dust, he charged you with progressing across a series of inchoate environments by manipulating earth, water, air and fire. Paper Beast feels like a convergence, and a reduction. There's less of everything - there often is with VR - but the flavours you're used to are also richer.

Put on the PSVR and enter Chahi's version of cyberspace - a place you are thrust into when a simulation you've been running goes a bit awry. This place! It's prickly and lavish and extremely colourful. There are Dali deserts and Sega skies. There are crags and mountains and dunes. And jeepers! The world is alive, noble Jurassic beasts with bones made of paper and gems, origami almost-tigers and almost-horses, other things that are just ragged mops of newsprint, or maybe they're neurons shuddering around in a mass of dendrites. These animals! Their folded-paper planes beautifully invoke the jagged polygonal creations of the early days of Chahi's career.

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Sunday, April 5, 2020 April 05, 2020 at 09:03AM - Console crossplay is "important" to Apex Legends, says Respawn

Respawn's chief operating officer and general manager for Apex Legend, Dusty Welch, has acknowledged that crossplay for players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is "important" for the battle royale game.

Whilst stopping short of detailing when we might, finally, see console crossplay, in an interview in the latest issue of Game Informer (thanks, Comic Book) Welch shared players' frustration of not being able to play with pals on different platforms, and said it was "an important thing to get to".

"I think on crossplay we see it's something that is kind of expected in the industry and is important to a game like ours," Welch said. "Chad [Grenier, Apex Legends' director] and I are obviously big fans of playing our game at work and in our free time - and we go home on a Friday or weekend and want to play with each other and we're on different systems.

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from April 05, 2020 at 04:49AM - E3 2021 dates confirmed

E3 organiser the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has confirmed next year's event will take place on 15th-17th June, 2021.

As reported by our friends at, and much like this year's event, the ESA told its partners that it is currently devising a "reimagined" show, but has yet to expand on what that might mean.

E3 2020 was formally cancelled mid-March, In a statement, organiser ESA said: "After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry - our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners - we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.

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from April 05, 2020 - Inside gaming's least safe safe rooms

Via Facebook group chat, I'm speaking with Suguru Murakoshi and Hiroko Usuda from the now-defunct Team Silent. We're talking about their time working on Silent Hill 4: The Room as director and designer, respectively - diving into the creation of Room 302, the apartment that kicks off the story and remains ever-present in the narrative.


It's the only save point in the game, naturally turning it into a safe room. Over time, however, this initial promise of safety is broken by a series of increasingly dangerous hauntings, turning your home into an unfamiliar and hostile space.

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Saturday, April 4, 2020 April 04, 2020 at 09:41AM - Someone's built the Eastenders opening in Cities: Skylines

Apparently this is what I need today: Eastenders recreated in Cities: Skylines.

Using the Skyes Greater London map and a raft of mods, Cities: Skylines tinkerer vyers07 built a city inspired by London. vyers07 took to reddit to showcase the virtual city, which has now reached a population of 500,000 (thanks, PCGamesN). While vyers07's clip doesn't have the Eastenders music playing over it (I'm sure you can imagine it as you watch!), the camera does spin around a bit.

The river that runs through the city is clearly based on the winding of the Thames, and I see some famous landmarks roughly where they should be (City Airport is about right, as is The Shard), but vyers07's London clearly isn't to scale or striving for accuracy. If you squint, though, it really does look a lot like actual London - through the lens of our nation's favourite cockney soap opera.

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from April 04, 2020 at 06:59AM - The Batista Bomb is Gears 5's best execution yet

Forget the Curb Stomp and the Chainsaw Bayonet - the Batista Bomb is the best execution in Gears 5.

Developer The Coalition just added the Batista Bomb to the arsenal of executions available to Batista, who lest we forget is a playable character in Gears 5 multiplayer. Here's how it looks:

For the uninitiated, the Batista Bomb is Batista's trademark wrestling match finisher. Here's how it looks in real life:

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from April 04, 2020 at 02:19AM - Rocksmith DLC comes to an end as dev moves on to new project

The developer of Rocksmith has moved into a new project.

DLC for Ubisoft's guitar-teaching game has now come to an end, Ubisoft San Francisco announced in a blog post.

Rocksmith, which lets you plug in pretty much any electric guitar and play, launched in October 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with a PC release in 2012. A sequel, dubbed Rocksmith 2014, came out in 2013. Our Ian Higton had a strum on that, which you can see in the video below.

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from April 04, 2020 at 01:53AM - Saints Row: The Third Remastered outed by rating board

It looks like a remaster of Saints Row: The Third is coming soon.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has a listing for Saints Row: The Third Remastered, courtesy of publisher Koch Media and due out on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Volition's Saints Row: The Third launched back in 2011 for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by now-defunct publisher THQ. The outlandish Grand Theft Auto-style game was infamous for its sex toy bat, which was an in-game weapon as well as an actual real-life promotional tool. A Nintendo Switch port, which wasn't great according to Digital Foundry, came out in 2019.

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from April 04, 2020 - The pleasures of a game world you look down upon

It's a famous story, but a good one. When Robert Louis Stevenson was writing Treasure Island, he started out by drawing a map - a map of the island itself. One of his biographers - I think it was Claire Harman, and if you walk away from this piece with anything it should be a desire to read her perceptive and generous book on Stevenson - has pointed out that the map looks a bit like Scotland. Anyway, he drew the map and then he wrote the book, at times the map actually guiding the narrative. The land was sacred and the words had to fit it. Stevenson!

Then he sent the map to his publisher and it was lost in the post. He had to draw another version, returning to the text and pulling the map back out of the book. He did a good enough job, clearly - the rest of us have only ever seen his copy. But still: "Somehow it was never Treasure Island to me."

I think about this story almost every day at the moment, and not only because I am permanently dizzy for Stevenson. It's because every day I log into Animal Crossing and I walk around and I do the weeding - Stevenson loved weeding, incidentally, and wrote about weeds thrillingly - and I pop balloons and I find Gulliver's phone parts for him and send him on his way. And all the time Animal Crossing reminds me of Treasure Island. I like to play with the camera set high above me and looking down on everything. This is the classic Animal Crossing view, and as much as I like the rolling drum perspective of the later games that allows you to see the sky above and the stars at night, it still feels like the right way to play. All around me the landscape is basically a map. Like Stevenson I find something truly energising about looking down on the terrain. I love games that have this perspective: top-down games!

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Friday, April 3, 2020

The Origins of DOOM

DOOM isn’t so much a video game as it is a pop-culture phenomenon, a media touchstone that is consistently ranked as one of the most influential games of all time. A game so popular it spawned a host of copycat releases, kick started the FPS (First person shooter) genre and was at one point in history, installed on more PCs worldwide than Windows 95. According to the game’s creators though, it likely would never have existed as we know if not for a game of Dungeons & Dragons that went just horribly wrong.

According to John Romero, one of the driving creative forces behind DOOM and a notable figure in the gaming community, the genesis for the game can be traced back to the fall of 1992- specifically in the months following the release of Spear of Destiny, another video game worked on and developed by him and the team at id Software.

Romero has since explained that initially, DOOM was supposed to be a game based on the Aliens franchise, of which many members of id were fans. Although the team managed to bend the ear of a representative at 20th Century Fox who seemed excited about the idea of making a game using the Aliens’ license, they ultimately dropped out of the offer, citing a desire for “total creative control”.

Following the breakdown of talks with Fox, another key figure in DOOM history, John Carmack, made the suggestion that they do “[basically] same thing, except with hellspawn instead of Aliens”. This brings us back to a game of Dungeons & Dragonns the team had played one evening, in which through a confluence of horrifically botched dice rolls and poor planning, the game had ended when one team member accidentally opened a portal to hell, allowing demons to overrun the entire planet. Another influence was the horror film, Evil Dead 2, of which the team were also fans.

As for the name, according to Carmack, the idea came from a scene in the film The Color of Money in which Tom Cruise plays a pool hustler. The scene features Cruise’s character walking into a bar holding a case (containing his pool cue) which piques the curiosity of another person in the scene who asks what it contains. Cruise’s character respond with sly smile and simply says,”Doom!” before proceeding to utterly dominate every person in the bar at pool. Carmack enjoyed the scene and likened “the resulting carnage” from Cruise’s cocky assurance that his case contains doom to how the game would be seen by the gaming industry of the time.

In any event, these ideas all greatly interested fellow id Software employee, Tom Hall, who upon hearing all of this, immediately set about creating what is now known as the “DOOM bible”. This legendary tome contained story details, monster sketches and even a potential press release for the game as Hall envisioned it – The game’s tagline? DOOM — where the sanest place is behind a trigger. Despite the substantial amount of work Hall put into creating the Bible, virtually nothing from it actually ended up being included in the final version of the game we got to play.

The most commonly cited reason for why so few elements of the DOOM Bible made it into the final product is that they were simply too elaborate for the type of action-orientated game they were trying to make. For example, in Hall’s initial treatment of the game, the story of DOOM was meant to follow the journey of 5 soldiers on an alien world as they travelled to Hell and back to fight the demonic hordes of the underworld and featured a sprawling, long-winded plot. Carmack poo-pooed this idea, famously quipping “Story in a game is like story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.”

This said, several aspects of Hall’s original idea did make it into the final game, albeit with some changes. For instance, Hall’s original idea of having the game take place on an alien planet called Tei Tenga and the idea of invading Hell in the latter of half of the game was liked by staff. It was ultimately, however, reworked to have the game be set on the twin moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, and the plot point of having the player be stranded there by accident was dropped because Carmack didn’t like the implied insinuation that the player character had to have “sucked” to end up stranded there. As such it was reworked so that the player is specifically called to Mars’ moon.

Likewise, the staff liked the idea of playing as a marine, but not the idea of playing as four different characters with their own personalities. So instead the game was changed to focus around a single, unnamed marine, popularly nicknamed “Doomguy” by fans. In regards to this specific change, Romero felt that it was especially important to never name the marine you play as in DOOM, because, to quote him, “it’s supposed to be you!”

The game, however, was created from the ground up with the idea of being able to play it cooperatively or competitively via an internet or modem connection with other players.

Another problem with Hall’s treatment of DOOM was his insistence on realism which inadvertently ended up making the game less fun in their opinion. For example, Hall extensively studied real-world military bases and designed several levels based on their specifications for missions of the game due to be set in a military space station. Though accurate, these levels were bland and ultimately dull to play, mostly consisting of square flat environments that didn’t feature any of the unusual geometry or textures that eventually made the game so iconic. This difference in opinions and ideas ultimately saw Hall leave development for the game.

Early in development DOOM was also supposed to feature an elaborate point scoring system as well as the ability to earn and lose lives, similar to many arcade games of the time. However, Romero didn’t like this idea as the thought of losing all your lives (and thus your progress) on a game you owned didn’t appeal to him and the concept of the game was focused to instead revolve entirely around a simple mantra, “kill everything and get out alive”.

Moving on to the now iconic visual look of DOOM, this was partially inspired by a number of sources, most notably the disturbing biomechanical artwork of HR Giger who is famous for his work on the Alien series. Also in the mix is the horrifying eldritch abominations inspired by the writings of HP Lovecraft. To round out the main inspirations, we also have the artwork of heavy metal album covers, which often features hellish nightmare-scapes like those found in the game’s later levels. All combined, this gave the world a rather unique for the time game aesthetic.

Speaking of heavy metal, the game’s soundtrack was directly influenced by this genre so much so that the only real direction composer Bobby Prince got from Romero was being handed a stack of his favourite metal albums with the instruction to create something similar.

Prince did exactly that, with many of the game’s tracks featuring riffs that directly homage the work of heavy metal pioneers like Metallica, Slayer and Pantera.

As a humorous side note, sound effects for the game, and in particular the screams of the demonic enemies you fight a seemingly infinite number of, were partially supplied by Romero himself. You see, Romero was known to provide his own (often enthusiastic) sound effects for monsters and enemies while playing early builds of the game much to the amusement of co-workers who’d frequently stop working to watch, or more accurately, listen to him play the game.

Interestingly some of the enemies found in DOOM, such as the Cyberdemon and Baron of Hell were actually clay figurines that were then scanned into a computer and then digitised using a custom piece of software designed by Carmack called the “Fuzzy Pumper Palette Shop”. Similarly, the sprites used for some of the game’s weapons like the shotgun and pistol were based on photos taken of toys bought at a local Toys “R” Us that were then digitised.

Despite looking dated today, at the time of the release of DOOM, it was considered a technological milestone, featuring things that were previouslymostly unheard of in video games such as ambient lighting, stereo sound effects and realistic looking 3-D environments. Even things like stairs and having rooms of varying height were considered groundbreaking at the time.

Completed in just over a year, the game notably never initially received a wide-commercial release, being instead sold via mail-order and even offered for free via download on various websites. On top of this, id Software not only allowed people to share the game with one another without paying for it, but openly encouraged the practise to bolster the size of their fanbase.

For further promotion, prior to its release, DOOM was the subject of much conversation on the early 1990s internet and the developers often stoked the fires of interest with press releases saying things like “DOOM is going to be like Wolfenstein  times a million!” and “[we expect DOOM to be] the number one cause of decreased productivity in businesses around the world”.

In regards to the latter, despite the comments tongue-in-cheek nature, it actually came true with many businesses across the world having to ban DOOM from their offices to stop people playing it and hogging the lines, so to speak, of their networks. Remember, this was a time when not everyone had access to the interwebs, let alone the types of high speed connections we have today. On top of company bannings, some anti-virus software makers even began including features specifically designed to stop people from playing DOOM on their computers, which worked about as well as you’d expect.

DOOM was so popular that in 1995, that even following a multi-million dollar advertising campaign from Microsoft, the game was still installed on more systems than Microsoft’s groundbreaking new operating system, Windows 95.

Not too shabby for the team at id Software, then comprising just 12 people, with the team that made DOOM itself numbering just 6.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

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from Today I Found Out
by Karl Smallwood - April 03, 2020 at 06:53PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!
- April 03, 2020 at 03:45PM - Here's a look at Elite Dangerous' long-awaited Fleet Carriers

Elite Dangerous has been dangling the tantalising space carrot of 16-person Fleet Carriers for three years now, but finally, following a succession of lengthy delays, they're almost here - and developer Frontier has offered a closer look in a brand-new livestream and trailer.

Fleet Carriers, which were initially planned for 2018's Beyond update, are described as "mobile starships and trading hubs capable of transporting multiple allies", and can accommodate up to 16 players, thanks to their eight large, four medium, and four small landing pads.

While they have the potential to be a bustling hive of social activity for multiple space pals, Fleet Carriers are owned and piloted by a single Commander - one who'll need to cough up 5,000,000,000 credits for the privilege of owning the basic model, although that does include a Commodity Market and a Tritium Depot for the price.

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Haribo Frohhalme

Custard candy doesn't sound good to me ever.

from Candy Gurus
by Jonny April 03, 2020 at 11:24AM April 03, 2020 at 09:27AM - Gone Home and Hob are currently free on the Epic Games Store

Given that your daily doses of shameless outdoor cavorting are likely fairly regulated right now, you probably won't object to more free stuff being bundled into your laps to keep those hours distractedly ticking by - and Epic Games is once again on hand to do just that, this time flinging Gone Home and Hob up onto its store's weekly freebie table.

Gone Home, of course, needs little introduction, having brought the so-called walking simulator genre crashing into the limelight back in 2013. Developed by The Fullbright Company, it tells the story of a young woman who returns to her family home after a year abroad, only to find it mysteriously deserted.

What follows is a frequently captivating, wonderfully authentic family drama that slowly unfolds as players piece together the clues and scraps of information strewn naturally around the expansive home. It's a little bit spooky, surprisingly moving, and should even managed to prod a few nostalgia buttons, given its keenly realised 90s setting.

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from April 03, 2020 at 07:14AM - Rust revamps farming system, adds horse poop

Time to really get serious about growing that hemp for... clothing, as Rust has introduced a new update, and it's all about farming.

The rework focuses on giving players a more in-depth system for farming, in which "all conditions of a plant are now important" - with better conditions giving better rewards. For the best yields, you'll need to get the lighting, water saturation, ground condition and temperature of your plants right.

Thankfully, there's an info panel to help with all that, which shows you real-time progress on conditions as you change them, along with the plant's requirements. "Each plant type can have different resiliences to the various conditions, meaning some will grow more easily in certain areas than others," explains the blog post.

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from April 03, 2020 at 06:52AM - There's something rotten about Animal Crossing's egg event

Let's be clear, for the first week and a bit of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nintendo played an absolute blinder. The introduction is a masterful ramp up to the traditional Animal Crossing experience, functionality and character building day over day until you reach a point you realise you've been playing a prologue all this time. The game proper is now ready to unfold. The whole experience is now wide open. You have toiled and crafted and you are ready for... eggs?

Eggs. The eggs are everywhere. And they stink.

Now, I think there's an element of bad timing here - albeit one Nintendo is still in charge of. When April rolled around, most people who had got the game on day one were now just settling into their island life proper. March's end was a gentle rush to gain stringfish and sturgeon before the season changed, but players had found their daily Animal Crossing rhythms.

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from April 03, 2020 at 04:00AM - Five of the Best: Title screens

Five of the Best is a weekly series about the bits of games we overlook. I'm talking about potions, hubs, bags, mountains, anything really - but things we ignore at the time. Then, years later, we find they're cemented in our memory, inseparable from our experience of the game. Turns out they were important after all. So now we're celebrating them.

Five of the Best works like this. Various Eurogamer writers will share their memories in the article and then you - probably outraged we didn't include the thing you're thinking of - can share the thing you're thinking of in the comments below. We've had some great discussions in our other Five of the Best pieces. Some of you have memories like elephants!

Today's Five of the Best...

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from April 03, 2020 at 03:00AM - The Double-A Team: Sleeping Dogs lies on both sides of the law

Sleeping Dogs isn't the most original game out there. It's open-world, released at the height of Assassin's Creed's popularity and the year before GTA 5. You play as Wei Shen, a Chinese-American cop who must go undercover in the Triads. The only catch is that many of Shen's friends and even family are Triad members, and he must - dun dun dun - choose which side of the law his loyalty lies on.

Like I said, not the most original. The Departed (itself based upon a Hong Kong cop saga in Internal Affairs) is the best modern example of the undercover cop story, but it's a narrative that goes back beyond 1949's White Heat, bypassing Reservoir Dogs, Prince Of The City and even White Chicks, which as we all know is White Heat's long-awaited sequel. It might not have anything particularly unique at its core then, but it nails one aspect of its story to the floorboards, in a way that many games since have tried and mostly failed to replicate: duality.

Morality and choice in games is very in vogue right now. Perhaps it's because, burdened by student loans, long hours for minimal pay and a skyrocketing divide between the haves and the have-nots, our real lives often seem devoid of choices. Maybe it's because social media makes us all so angry that there are so many bastard-coated-bastards out there and we're so desensitized to shooter violence that being bad just feels so cathartically good. Maybe it's just fun. Maybe it's Maybelline.

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from April 03, 2020 at 03:00AM - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer free for the weekend

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's multiplayer is free to play this weekend.

You can get free access to multiplayer through the free-to-download battle royale, Warzone, all weekend long. Specifically, the promotion goes live at 6pm UK time tonight, 3rd April, and ends at 6pm UK time on 6th April.

Here's how it works: in the Warzone lobby, you'll see the Stocked Up, Locked Down 24/7 playlist. This playlist features two maps: Atlas Superstore (10v10), and Shoot House (6v6) - two of the better Modern Warfare multiplayer maps. Game modes include Team Deathmatch, Domination and Hardpoint.

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from April 03, 2020 at 02:56AM - Outer Wilds scoops BAFTA's Best Game award

Outer Wilds and Disco Elysium were the big winners at last night's BAFTA Games Awards, which was presented from home by host Dara O'Briain.

The unusual format of this year's ceremony also required all nominees to submit an acceptance video in case they won, which let us see Disco Elysium team members thanking BAFTA while hanging out with their sheep.

Outer Wilds won several of the night's biggest awards: Best Game, Game Design and Original Property.

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Are Nintendo Products Really More Durable Than Other Consoles?

Kassy17 asks: Why are Nintendo consoles so much much more durable than any other system?

Nintendo has a surprisingly long history that extends all the way back to the the late 19th century. Originally named “Nintendo Koppai”, the small business based in Kyoto was started by Fusajiro Yamauchi and originally produced Hanafuda Cards. For those unfamiliar, these are simple playing cards that are used to play multiple games – much like the more common standardized 52 playing card sets. (And if you’re wondering about the name, it’s generally thought that it comes from the Japanese name “Nintendou”, roughly translated “Nin” means “entrusted” and “ten-dou” means “heaven”, so basically “leave luck to heaven”.)

However, today, of course, the company is arguably best known for the series of gaming consoles it has produced over the years, many of which are rumored by fans to be practically indestructible.  In fact, numerous videos exist online of people subjecting Nintendo devices to a host of extreme tests in an effort to test the limits of their legendary longevity. As a result we have examples like a Gamecube surviving being hit by a sledgehammer, NES cartridges surviving being run over by cars or put through a washing machine, and even a 3DS surviving being set on fire.

All of this has led to a legend that speaks of a rare element known simply as Nintendium. The exact properties of this mysterious element vary from source to source but it is generally described as being hugely durable and virtually impervious to damage. Nintendo supposedly discovered this element in the early 1980s and have since used it in every console they’ve ever produced, leading to them possessing similar levels of durability.

While there’s no such thing as Nintendium in real life- or at least so Nintendo wants their competitors to believe- the fact that consumers came up with such a rich and bizarre narrative in an attempt to explain how Nintendo consoles are seemingly so much more hard-wearing than the consoles of its competitors speaks volumes about the durability of their products. While we initially figured that many of the rumors surrounding the longevity of Nintendo consoles were the product of nostalgia, weirdly it seems that the company really does make products that are noticeably more sturdy than many of its rivals.

Exhibit A: Perhaps the most famous example of Nintendo product longevity is the so-called “Gulf War Game Boy“, named because it reportedly survived being hit by a bomb during the Gulf War. The Game Boy itself is currently on display at the Nintendo World Store in New York and according to a small placard placed below it, it was found amongst the rubble of a bombed out military barracks in 1991 by a soldier who was astonished to find it still worked. The Game Boy was subsequently gifted to Nintendo who connected it to a charger and put it on display in the newly constructed store in 2005.

According to the expose in Nintendo Power Magazine on this little device, with the exception of the attached charger, which is necessary for the device to power on because its battery pack is melted shut, the device possess 100% of its original parts. Interestingly, it can only play one game, Tetris, because the cartridge was fused to the console by the heat in the blast. Still, not bad for a charred hunk of technology designed and built in the 1980s.

So how do they do it? When it comes to designing its products, Nintendo is known for subjecting all of their wares to extensive, occasional extreme stress tests. While it’s true that all manufacturers will submit new products to routine stress tests to ensure they comply with safety guidelines, Nintendo is known for going above and beyond what the minimum guidelines require.

Due to the fact Nintendo is notoriously secretive about how it develops and tests it products, there are a number of somewhat humorous rumors online, detailing bizarre tests Nintendo supposedly subjects new products to, including throwing them off buildings and setting them on fire. Beyond rumor, according to the book, Nintendo Magic, which offers a rare look into how the actually company operates behind the scenes, Nintendo subjects many of its products to tests that are representative of potential hardships they could run into during everyday use. For example, the Nintendo Wii underwent numerous redesigns until it could reliably support 80 kilos (slightly more than the average weight of a fully grown man) for a minute without damage. This way, it wouldn’t break if accidentally stepped on by an adult, since Nintendo were aware that younger users might keep the console on the floor where such an eventuality was an inevitability.

Similarly, when it came to the Nintendo DS, Nintendo’s late CEO, Satoru Iwata, told the hardware design team that the device wouldn’t be considered for mass production until they came up with a design for the device that could consistently survive being dropped from a height of 1.5 metres, 10 times in a row without being damaged. Iwata’s reasoning was as follows: “If a kid puts a game console in the basket of their bicycle, then has to make a sudden stop, the console can come flying out – and it’s not going to land on carpet.”

On top of this, the device was also subjected to routine stress tests that included having each of its buttons pressed thousands of times to simulate a lifetime of play and being buffed for hours to test whether it could hold up to being removed from a persons pocket hundreds of times. It was also stress tested by being left in various extreme environments from cold, hot to ultra humid for lengthy periods to make sure the device will retain its reliability no matter where it’s played on Earth.

Moving on, when the company was developing the follow up to the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo 3DS, they were similarly adamant that the device be able to survive a comparable amount punishment, while simultaneously being more ergonomically designed (to address a common complain about the original DS console). To make the device more ergonomic, the design department gave the 3DS tapered edges, that made it easier to hold. However this had the inadvertent effect of making the device weaker, structurally speaking, since it was now far more likely to land on a single edge if dropped. Unperturbed, Nintendo told its design team to keep the tapered look, but figure out how to make it stronger, without raising costs or making the device more difficult to produce.

According to Hironori Akai, a member of Nintendo’s Research and Engineering department, when he initially heard this brief, he believed that creating such a device on a mass scale would be “impossible” since it was seemingly demanding contradictory things- a device that was simultaneously of high quality, solid construction, and low cost. In the end, Akai was able develop a new “type of high rigidity nylon with glass fiber in it” that was suitably strong enough to survive a drop when applied in a thick enough layer to the device’s outer shell.

This all segues nicely into a rather telling quote from Iwata about Nintendo’s philosophy when it comes to design. According to Iwata, Nintedo as a company “shares a common element with Apple’s philosophy” in that they both try to produce simple, straight forward technology that appeals to everyone. Iwata stressed, however, that where Apple and Nintendo differ is that, “we won’t hesitate to choose making something more durable over making it 0.5 millimeters thinner.”


Finally, along with subjecting their products to more in depth and diverse stress tests than many of its competitors, Nintendo is also known for supporting its products long after they’ve stopped selling them. For example, Nintendo didn’t officially stop offering repairs and replacement parts for the original Japanese Famicom console (released in 1983) until 2007, because they ran out of spare parts. The same can be said for Nintendo’s other legacy systems, which the company continued to support well into the 2000’s until they similarly ran out of replacement parts to offer consumers.

So while Nintendo products may not be truly indestructible, they can reliably be expected to endure most anything they could possibly be subjected to during every day use and then some, because the company knows and prepared for the eventuality that some of its customers will occasionally get drunk and drop their Game Boy out of a window.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

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The post Are Nintendo Products Really More Durable Than Other Consoles? appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Karl Smallwood - April 02, 2020 at 12:10AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!
- April 02, 2020 at 08:34AM - Borderlands 3 devs say they won't get promised bonuses

Given it's one of gaming's biggest franchises, the news Borderlands 3 was a major success came as little surprise. Within its first five days, it sold over five million copies - making it 2K's fastest-selling game of all time.

Something that probably did come as a surprise to Borderlands 3's developers, however, is that their hefty bonuses designed to make up for lower initial pay were no longer happening.

That's according to a report by Kotaku, whose sources say Gearbox employees will no longer receive the royalty bonuses promised throughout development. The news was apparently broken yesterday by CEO Randy Pitchford, who said developers would now receive much smaller bonus checks than the ones expected (which in some cases were supposed to go into the tens or hundreds of thousands). The reason given was that the game had been more expensive than anticipated, combined with significant company growth and off-base sales projections. The increased expense was likely caused by a technology swap between Unreal Engine 3 and Unreal Engine 4 mid-way through development, along with a 2K deal which meant Gearbox needed to first recoup both Borderlands 3's $95m (£76.6m) budget and the DLC budget (for a combined total of nearly $145m or £112m) before the studio could receive royalties.

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