According to a report from Nikkei Asian Review, China has frozen licenses for South Korean game developers planning to release products in the country.0
Category - News
Last week, Nightdive Studios teased new in-game PC footage of its forthcoming System Shock remaster. Running on Unreal Engine 4, some prospective players suggested the reimagined Citadel Station looked better when powered by Unity—as it had been in last year’s pre-alpha demo. The game’s director Jason Fader has now addressed why Unreal was chosen, where he and his team’s priorities lie, and what a “faithful reboot” exactly entails.
Speaking via a Kickstarter backer update post, Fader explains that the remake’s visual appearance is still a work in progress and that the engine change and visual differences are in fact unrelated. “What you see in the video is a rough style we are experimenting with to push crisper visuals,” explains Fader. “Art direction was a lower priority for the engine change since we wanted to be sure the technology could do what we needed first. Now that we have the pipelines set for getting art into the engine, we’ll be iterating on the style and mood.”
Fader also suggests last week’s footage represents one and a half month’s worth of “direct content creation”, compared to the the Unity demo’s six months. “Not exactly the fault of Unity,” admits Fader, “but as you see, it’s easier for our team to create content in Unreal.”
Fader then includes an extensive Q&A addressing would-be player concerns. This is worth reading in its entirety—it covers where the project is going, what features are yet to come and what will be reworked, and how audio is being implemented, among other things—however the following answer is worth repeating. In response to the question “Great, now you are making a console game with a PC port…”, Fader says:
“Whoa there! We never said that, and even if we didn’t switch engines, the game would still come out on consoles. Personally, I’m a PC gamer through and through (mainly because I can’t aim well with a controller). System Shock is being made for PC gamers first. It would be a shame if only PC folk could appreciate our game, so we’ll be bringing it to console as well, but PC is the main target for everything we do.”
As far as the “faithful reboot” maxim goes, Fader explains that while he and his team had first planned to make a “straight 1:1 remake”, there were too many things they wanted to tweak and adjust this time round. The decision to craft a reboot, then, was arrived at—so long as it maintained “the spirit of Shock 1.”
Source: PC Gamer0
EVE Online is a game of risk versus reward, a game where players can take chances with their resources. Over the past weekend, the in-game organization know as “The Imperium” staged an annual event called “Burn Jita.” During this event, the safest areas of the game are invaded by renegade players, who turn everything into fiery graveyards where the damages rack up to thousands of real-world dollars. As they say, “Do not fly something you cannot afford to lose.”
The galaxy of New Eden, the cluster of star systems that makes up the playable world of EVE Online, is divided roughly into three portions, Null security, Low Security, and High Security space. These designations are based on the relative safety of those areas, and how the game’s NPC police reacts to player actions. Null security space is a lawless land where players make the rules and run the show—that’s where a lot of the EVE incidents that make the news come from. Low security space offers players some limited protection if they stay near the NPC controlled Stargates and Space Stations, as powerful and invulnerable guns will fire on anyone who aggresses an unauthorized target.
Finally, there is High Security space, or Hisec, where the NPC Police force, CONCORD reigns supreme. If any pilot commits a violation of CONCORD’s rules, such as firing upon a player who is not formally in a war or known as a criminal, then CONCORD battleships, which are immune to damage, will destroy the offender. CONCORD’s retribution is swift and absolute. Evading their punishment is actually a bannable offense in the game. CONCORD makes High security space safe.
Trade hubs and space truckers
Every item in EVE Online, with very few exceptions, is built entirely by the players. There is chain of custody for each individual item starting from raw materials and ending in spaceship hulls, weapons platforms, or combat boosting consumables. Because of this, every single in-game item must be physically moved from place to place by a player, there is no teleporting of assets from one place to another. This has led to the establishment of major market hubs inside the game, where everyone goes to buy and sell their goods.
The largest of these hubs is Jita, which has more total volume than the next 50 major trade hubs combined. Jita keeps its dominance because people know that everything can be found in one spot, for a reasonable price. This causes a need to ship a massive amount of goods into and out of Jita every day, because the game cannot support everyone simply living in the same spot. Enormous space freighters, piloted by people with an entrepreneurial spirit traverse the trade lanes between Jita and other smaller hubs, hauling Courier contracts set up by other players to help keep the up with the massive daily imports and exports from the Jita system.
Freighters have no guns, and no way of actively defending themselves, but they have a large buffer of total hitpoints, and can generally rely on CONCORD to arrive in time to save them from the errant pirate that would dare attack them, since the vast majority confine themselves to the safety of Hisec. The only problem with that Hisec is not actually as safe as you would think.
Enter the Ministers
The Ministry of Love, or Miniluv, was born from the Goonswarm Federation, the largest alliance inside of The Imperium several years ago. Their goal: causing as much havoc inside of Hisec for fun, and for profit. The members of this organization dub themselves Ministers and do their best to spread the word of their gospel to anyone who will listen to it. The main point of their chosen cause, is that Freighters must die. To do this, they assemble the cheapest ships they can, except they are built to do as much damage as possible before CONCORD shows up on the scene to dole out justice.
Their weapon of choice is the Destroyer class vessel, which is obtainable within an hour of first stepping into the game world. Small and maneuverable, a single Destroyer is nothing more than a mosquito to any freighter. However, during Burn Jita, Destroyers are not alone, as the entirety of the Imperium’s member base (somewhere north of 30,000 pilots) is invited to Hisec so they can participate in a full weekend of suicide ganking. This years Burn Jita, which took place over the last weekend, had two full fleets of 250 players running in parallel to destroy any target that they could find. With the sheer mass of firepower that 250 players can bring to bear on a single target, the freighters stand little to no chance of survival, often dying before the entirety of the fleet manages to fire a shot, and forcing those with poor PCs or slow reaction times to have to shamefully fly their ship back to their home station, rather than suffer the wrath of CONCORD and get a free trip home.
As of writing this article, the current Burn Jita campaign has destroyed 159 freighters, 22 miscellaneous large industrial haulers, and 19 Jump Freighters (which are highly expensive ships that can warp themselves deep into the dangerous areas with ease.) The butcher’s bill so far is up to 700 billion ISK in damages, roughly converted to real world value, that is around $13,000 USD worth of damage. All of this damage and destruction is focused on other players of EVE, so every time one of these ships goes down, a player somewhere in the world is losing a significant amount of the work they’ve put into the game. Though, the Ministry itself is not without losses during this event, according to internal projections, they have lost well over 20,000 Coercer Class destroyers in the past 72 hours, totalling to somewhere between 4 and 6 billion ISK worth of losses. They believe it is well worth the cost.
I had a chance to sit down with the current leader of Miniluv, a player who goes by BoneyTooth Thompkins ISK-Chip, but others might call a digital terrorist within EVE Online.
Lee: This is the 5th iteration of the Burn Jita event, how did it all get started?
Boney: Truthfully, I don’t know the full story. That’s a better question for The Mittani or Warr Akini. But I think at the time it was 2012 and Ice was just released, and only available in highsec. Bat Country [A member corporation of the Goonswarm Federation at the time] had some great ideas of using suicide ganking to interdict the ice belts, as to corner the market on Nitrogen Isotopes, manipulate the market and make a lot of money. [Ice Belts are a resource in space that can be mined and turned into various Isotopes, used in starship fuel.]
I believe The Mittani [The Imperium’s supreme leader] liked the idea of terrorizing highsec, so they decided to launch Burn Jita and take a weekend to terrorize Jita. After that, Mittani got Powers SA and Warr Akini to team up and form MiniLuv, his idea of the highsec secret police charged with bringing unpersons to justice.“
Lee: How many ships does an event like this require? How long did it take to prepare them?
Boney: Burn Jita 3, in 2014, was my first Burn Jita. At the time, I wasn’t in leadership, but if I had to guess, we assembled around 18k ships. I built and assembled 6k personally myself. On Saturday evening, we ran out of ships and had to scrounge for hulls and fittings to keep the party going.
This Burn Jita, we did significantly more planning and put forth significantly more effort. When I brought up Burn Jita at the January 28th Illum [Illum is a collection of The Imperium’s leadership] meeting, Mittani asked me what the earliest date we could Burn Jita was. I said the 24th to account for Warr Akini’s availability.
So, that gave us just under 4 weeks to do everything we needed to do: produce ships, source guns, produce what fittings we could, get citadels [Citadels are massive player built space stations] set up, form alt corps to hold the ships, get posts up telling people what to do, and figure out what gimmicks we were going to do.
All told, we assembled around 36,000 Coercers. That’s a total of 36k coercer hulls, 72,000 rigs, 72,000 sensor boosters, 110,000 heatsinks, 288,000 guns, and 288,000 ammunition crystals. It took us approximately 4 hours to fit them all, compared to the 2+ weeks in previous years. [Author Note This is due to a new feature added to the game.] This was both the easiest and most intense Burn Jita prep yet.”
Lee: What’s the most interesting thing about Burn Jita from your perspective, that most may not get to see?
Boney: In general, the amount of thought, heart, effort and planning that goes into this event. It’s a logistical nightmare that requires a team of people to sort out and get their ducks in a row. Literally every weeknight and some weekend nights for the last two weeks have been spent preparing for Burn Jita in one way or another.
More specifically? There’s been a lot of meta-gaming, rusing, spying, dissemination of false information this time around. It’s been absolutely incredible to watch Reddit, our enemies, our allies struggle with all the propaganda and disinformation that we have been spinning. As of today, the day before it all kicks off, I think people are finally catching on that it’s tomorrow, but there’s no certainty to it, and there’s no real proof, just people wanting, hoping, wishing.
Even more specifically? Watching my awesome crew of dudes all selflessly volunteer to do most boring administrative tasks in EVE Online all for the sake of an all-weekend bender that we give to our alliance so ‘John Q. Goonlord’ can go to Jita and shoot some freighters. I love seeing the excitement in Imperium line member’s digital eyes when they talk about and get hyped for Burn Jita. I get PMs from random people telling me how excited they are, how it’s their first Burn Jita and they can’t wait, how they want to help out. I think that’s really my favorite part, seeing how much fun people can get out of all this effort me and my guys put in.
Lee: For some perspective, what do you do in real life, and do your colleagues know about your criminal activities on EVE Online?
Boney: I used to be a college lecturer while I was in graduate school. A few of my coworkers knew that I was a space important internet director leading the online space equivalent of a what could be called a terrorist group. It was a fun dichotomy between real life and internet life, oscillating between being an incredible selfless educator towards my students and colleagues and an online guerrilla where I grind the internet spaceship hopes and dreams of of the highsec pilots of the game into finely ground mush. These days I’m a software engineer. Some of my new coworkers know, but I don’t think they ‘get it.’ At least, not until I show them this article.
Burn Jita is coming to a close in the wee hours of the morning on Monday. It has been going strong since roughly six am CST on Friday morning, and only taken breaks when the EVE game servers simply could not bear the load of so many pilots taking action in such a small area. I expect the fleets to continue to run through the game’s planned daily downtime tomorrow morning around five am, and then after some rest and recuperation, if there are any ships left in the Ministry’s stockpiles, they’ll return to normal operations. For them, Hisec is the endgame of EVE Online, and suicide ganking freighters is a way of life.
The drip feed rollout of hints regarding the next playable character in Overwatch continues today, this time with a new image.
Overwatch’s Twitter account today sent out a message in the guise of a news story update that references Efi Oladele, the young girl who was first introduced last week.
The tweet reads, “[UPDATE] Genius grant recipient and Numbani local Efi Oladele posts curious image on her holovid channel, declaring: ‘Time to get to work!'” This was accompanied by the image above of a shopping list. She’s widely presumed to be building whatever is going to become the new playable character, and most of the items on the list appear to be for it.
Aside from the fact that it’s likely to be some kind of robot or android, we don’t yet have a clear idea of what form the new character will take.
Blizzard began teasing the new character last week. There was an in-world interview with Efi, an update to the in-game arrivals board on Numbani, and then a fake news story about an incident at an airport, which was then reflected in-game. Meanwhile, director Jeff Kaplan has said the character is “not who you think it is.”
The amazing announcement trailer can be seen in the video embed above. It’s a CG video, with the first gameplay slated to arrive on March 8.
Like Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War is developed by Monolith Productions. Talion and Celebrimbor return from the first game; they must “go behind enemy lines to forge an army and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.” The first game’s praised Nemesis System also returns.
Here is the official plot description for Shadow of War:
“In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, players wield a new Ring of Power and confront the deadliest of enemies, including Sauron and his Nazgul, in a monumental battle for Middle-earth. The open-world action-adventure game is brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from the first game is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience.”
Shadow of War is set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
“Following the amazing reception to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, we massively expanded every dimension of the game, including the world, the story, the RPG systems, the core gameplay, and of course the personal player stories of the Nemesis System,” Monolith Productions VP Michael de Plater said in a statement. “As lifelong fans of Middle-earth, we are so grateful to have the privilege to bring to life the most incredible fantasy world ever created in a new way, for a new generation. With Middle-earth: Shadow of War, we can’t wait to see the amazing stories players are going to create and share.”
Shadow of War’s updated Nemesis System features an element called “Followers.” These are characters that will add “entirely new stories of loyalty, betrayal, and revenge.” The Nemesis System from the first game was a gameplay system that allowed enemies to remember every encounter with the player. The enemies also have different personalities.
Overall, Monolith is promising a “richer, more personal, and expansion world” for Shadow of War. Players can expect to see “epic heroes and villains,” as well as “iconic locations, original enemy types, even more personalities, and a new cast of characters with untold stories.”
In its own statement, Microsoft confirmed that Shadow of War will be an Xbox Play Anywhere title for Xbox One and Windows 10. This means buying a digital copy for either platform provides access to it on the other. Additionally, Microsoft announced that Shadow of War will be available on Project Scorpio this holiday. The game will also be available on PlayStation 4 Pro.
Shadow of War launches on August 22 in North America and August 25 in Europe.
Last year, Deviantart artist Manusogi created a series of covers for “Playwatch,” a fictional men’s magazine that was equal parts Playboy and Overwatch. The covers teased articles like “Classified File: Doomfist,” “Playwatch Interviews Bastion,” “Talking to Support Heroes,” and “75 Ways to Die.” And of course, there was plenty of cartoon skin, too: Nothing outright pornographic, but probably not safe for most workplaces, either. (Which is why all the images are down below.)
Naturally, it didn’t take fans of the game long to take the idea and run with it. Overpog.com put together an actual Playwatch Magazine—online, of course—with, as Dorkly put it, “articles, interviews with real-life cosplayers, and yeah, loads of horny fan art.” And it was actually pretty good: A lot of it was silly—the multi-page interview with Bastion is nothing but beeps and boops—but it also included coverage of the November Symmetra buff, top Hero picks and player rankings for the month, an interview with Jannetincosplay, and even a Spanish-language article about Sombra.
Unfortunately for readers (because we read it for the articles), the site has now been forced offline. “We have received a notification from a digital copyright protection agency that claims Playwatch Magazine infringes Blizzard’s intellectual property rights. For that reason, we have contacted Blizzard directly and decided to close the website until we have an answer from them,” a message at playwatchmagazine.com says.
“We started several months ago with the goal of bringing Overwatch fans a new way of enjoying the game and creating a place where artists and writers could share their work with the rest of the community. The entire Playwatch Team is extremely grateful for your support. It has been a privilege getting to know you all, and we will keep you updated with any news we have.”
It’s possible, as COG Connected speculated, that it was the decision to launch a Playwatch Patreon that incurred the wrath of Blizzard. Google cache indicates that it had racked up a measly $63 per issue (the actual Patreon has also been deleted), but it’s the principle of the thing that’s the issue: Earning money off of someone else’s property, even if it’s just to help keep the lights on while the work gets done, is generally a big no-no when it comes to fan-made projects like this.
But it may also simply be a matter of Blizzard not being comfortable with this adult take on its characters. Blizzard took similar action last summer against a person who was using Source Filmmaker to create animated Overwatch porn.
I’ve reached out to Blizzard and Overpog to hopefully find out a bit more, and I’ll update if I receive a reply. In the meantime, while it’s sad the articles are gone (because, to repeat, that’s why we read it), you can enjoy or be enraged by a couple of Playwatch covers below.0
Infographics are so 2016. The hip, cool way of making data exciting is to make it into a road trip.
Published today, Twitch’s 2016 Retrospective is an interactive year-in-review that encourages players to drive through the landscape of the life online, picking up interesting tidbits and trivia along the way. You can play as a guest and learn things like how many minutes were watched in total last year (292 billion) or which country is the friendliest (Finland, much to the approval of PC Gamer editor Evan Lahti), or you can log in with your Twitch account for a more “personalized experience,” and a prize at the end of the trip.
- Twitch finished the year with 2.2 million unique streamers
- Twitch users sent 14.2 billion chat messages last year
- The most-used emote in 2016 was the Kappa, which was brought into action 413 million times
- The most-watched new game was (surprise) Overwatch
- A whopping $25.3 million was raised for charity
That impressive charity total includes $9 million raised by Extra Life, $2.6 million from the Yogcast Jingle Jam, and $2.5 million from Games Done Quick. A full breakdown of the funds raised can be seen below—and bravo to everyone who took part, either by donating or helping to raise funds.
Some key Twitch stats are withheld—such as Twitch’s total audience, any measurement of Twitch Prime subscriptions, and a ranking of the most popular games throughout the year—but the webpage is otherwise a colorful tabulation of Twitch culture.
Note that the personalized version of this retrospective is not currently live, but Twitch said it will be up and running “shortly.” We’ll let you know when it is.
Valve is making some major changes to the way games are published through Steam, starting with the removal of the Greenlight system.
Greenlight was rolled out in 2012 as a replacement for the internal curation system Valve previously used to choose which games to allow on Steam. While it presented more opportunities for developers–more than 6,000 games have been released through it –it has been a source of complaints for both players and devs. Valve acknowledges this, describing it merely as a “stepping stone.”
“After the launch of Steam Greenlight, we realized that it was a useful stepping stone for moving to a more direct distribution system, but it still left us short of that goal,” Valve said in its announcement. “Along the way, it helped us lower the barrier to publishing for many developers while delivering many great new games to Steam. There are now over 100 Greenlight titles that have made at least $1 million each, and many of those would likely not have been published in the old, heavily curated Steam store.”
According to Valve, Greenlight highlighted two key areas it needed to focus on: “improving the entire pipeline for bringing new content to Steam and finding more ways to connect customers with the types of content they wanted.”
Work has been done on this front, both on the backend and more publicly, with things like the Discovery update. Valve views that update as a success, citing two metrics. “[T]he average time customers spend playing games on Steam has steadily increased since the first Discovery update,” it said. “Over the same time period, the average number of titles purchased on Steam by individual customers has doubled.”
The next step is replacing Greenlight with what’s called Steam Direct. Developers looking to release games through Steam will have go through a process similar to “applying for a bank account.” Once that’s completed, they’ll have to pay an application fee for each game they want to release which will be paid back later.
Valve hasn’t yet settled on what that fee will be, but the range sounds fairly large. “We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000,” it said. “There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.”
The purpose of this is to “decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.” Indeed, that is a potential problem given that dozens of games can be released on Steam on any given day currently. Greenlight currently has a one-time, $100 fee that is donated to charity in order to post games for consideration by players.
Valve didn’t share any of the pros or cons of the specific fee figures. An obvious con on the high end is that it could shut out smaller indie projects that simply don’t have that kind of money to put up.
Valve’s Gabe Newell spoke in 2014 about wanting to do away with Greenlight. “Not because it’s not useful, but because we’re evolving,” he said at the time. To that point, today’s announcement is titled “Evolving Steam.”
G2A is a site where people sell game keys. You’ve probably heard of it thanks to YouTubers/streamers who cut juicy sponsorship deals to promote it. However, the site’s also received widespread criticism for lax security, fraud, and making money at developers’ expense. G2A recently tried to hold an AMA. It did not go well.
People lobbed every question they could think of at G2A, and they didn’t skimp on the hostilities. Questions asked included, “Are you or are not not aware of how much harm you’ve done to the gaming industry?”, “If G2A is a legitimate company with legitimate keys and resellers, why can’t you offer buyer protection for free to your customers?”, and my personal favourite, “Which one of you thought that an AMA would go well on reddit, where so many people hate you?” G2A’s answers got downvoted so far that they had to tell users to change comment sorting in order to see them.
G2A tried to argue that developers don’t get hurt by their practices, and they have a strict verification process in place to maintain that. “Let’s clear that up. If the key is on G2A, that means that it came from the developer, which means they have already been paid,” G2A wrote. “If you want to buy that game on our marketplace, they won’t receive any additional money out of that (actually they could with G2A Direct, but let’s [not] go into that here).”
They also said they take the possibility of stolen keys (ones that are, for instance, purchased with stolen credit cards, after which developers get hit with charge-backs) very seriously.
“We have special departments in G2A (over 100 people) dedicated to protecting our marketplace,” G2A wrote. “We can’t disclose exactly how we search for these shady people, or what triggers our suspicions, because that would be giving them a possible roadmap as to how to try and get away with something. The problem is that sometimes the issue (unfortunately) starts on the developers’ own site, which can sometimes lack security. And in those situations, if the developer is not willing to work with us it gets a little complicated. In some situations, if a key was not reported to us as stolen and we weren’t told it was blacklisted or shown any proof, then there is little we can do.”
One user, however, went after G2A for that comment, seemingly contradicting G2A’s claims of difficult-to-bypass security entirely. They pointed out that getting a key verified isn’t difficult at all, and if you’ve done it before, you’re set indefinitely, meaning you could easily sell a few legit keys, then switch to selling non-legit ones. On top of that, keys seem to go up for sale immediately. G2A countered that the verification process happens behind the curtain, because they want it to be convenient.
The user, however, then shared a screen of a key getting purchased almost immediately after it went up, before it received “verified” status. They then added a fake listing, which quickly passed the verification process, to drive the point home. Instead of saying, “Oh shit, we should really patch up those holes,” like a reasonable service might, G2A responded by tracking down the user’s account and subjecting them to “stricter verification procedures.”
What does this mean in practice? According to the user, “They blocked my ability to buy anything on G2A, basically when trying to purchase anything with my G2A wallet I receive ‘Transaction failed, user blocked’ and they also blocked my ability to pay out my money, basically they just stole all the money I have in my G2A wallet.”
Needless to say, other folks participating in the AMA didn’t love that. If you want to check out the full AMA, that’s here. Suffice it to say, G2A’s responses to concerns over illegitimate aspects of their business aren’t super convincing. We’ve heard about (and reported on) all sorts of fishiness wafting from G2A’s general direction, so probably steer clear for now.
Square Enix recently revealed details of new Final Fantasy XV DLC that’s on the way, but at least one piece of it is set to change before release, possibly due to legal concerns.
Earlier this week, Square Enix announced the Booster Pack for Final Fantasy XV, slating it for a release on February 21. Among the contents is the Magitek Exosuit, a new set of outfits for your party that provide an “advantage” and an “exhilarating experience” during battles. The specifics of exactly what they do wasn’t shared, but that’s not what was most notable about them. Many couldn’t help but notice the strong resemblance to the outfits worn by the Power Rangers in the upcoming reboot movie.
Fans aren’t the only ones who saw similarities between the designs, according to Gematsu. During an Active Time Report livestream, Square Enix said the free Booster Pack DLC with the Magitek Exosuits is now coming at a later date. This is because the company behind Power Rangers got in touch to point out how much the designs resemble one another. As a result, the Exosuits are now being redesigned.
A new design wasn’t shown, but you can probably expect them to shy away resembling anything related to Power Rangers.
The premium Booster Pack+ DLC is still slated for release on February 21, as is an update that increases the level cap and more. A new DLC episode starring Gladiolus and improvements to Chapter 13 are due out a month later.