Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Unity becomes divisive, Mojang reject the blockchain and Lego Atari is coming.
Unity CEO Calls Developers Idiots, Surprised to Receive Backlash
The CEO of Unity, makers of the popular game engine of the same name, has come under fire for calling developers “fucking idiots” in a recent interview.
Following the announcement of Unity merging with IronSource, a company that are primarily focused on developing monetisation systems for apps but are also known for another reason. They are also responsible for a piece of software called InstallCore, which likes to attach itself to software downloads and then install a bunch of intrusive toolbars. It’s malware, basically, to the point where Windows Defender will do everything possible to block it if you end up downloading it. (link)
Developers were naturally concerned that one of the industry’s primary engines was partnering with such a shady company, so to set the record straight, CEO John Riccitiello spoke to PocketGamer.biz. And then when asked about these concerns, Riccitiello said that developers pushing back on building their games around monetisation are “fucking idiots”. (link)
Unsurprisingly, developers were not happy with this response.
Riccitiello issued an apology on Twitter (link), although it seems the damage has already been done, as developers are choosing to move away from the platform, most likely to the open-source Godot engine or to Unreal Engine 5, which has a fairly lenient licensing and profit share policy.
While the idea that developers should think about audience and how to market and sell their game as early as possible in development is a sensible one, Riccitiello’s comments seemed dismissive of actual creativity and art within the medium, and that’s a real problem for the guy in charge of a major platform for building the medium.
Final Fantasy vs. Minecraft
Square Enix have finally used the money they gained from selling off most of their Western IP to invest in crypto. The publisher has confirmed that they’ll be releasing a Cloud Strife figure which is available as a “Digital Plus” Edition, which costs $30 extra for a ticket to redeem for a digital version of the figure – an NFT, basically – that can be “enjoyed on PC and smart phone”. (link) Because that sounds like a perfectly sane and reasonable thing to want for a display figure.
It gets better though. Because unlike other scams of this nature which make the big selling point of NFTs to be owning digital items forever, this one at least admits that your NFT could go offline at any point. It’s tied to blockchain company Enjin, and if their service goes down, you lose access to your virtual Cloud. Also, you can’t sell it. In summary, it’s all the pointlessness of NFTs without any of the alleged benefits. Sounds like a winner.
If you’re tired of all these companies getting into blockchain nonsense, then rejoice! Mojang, the developers behind Minecraft, have confirmed that NFT functionality will not be implemented within the game, and in fact are forbidding Minecraft being utilised for anything to do with these scams. (link)
Bad news for cryptobros, good news for everyone else. This is clearest in the fact that NFT Worlds, an organisation designed to sell “decentralised metaverses” built in Minecraft, has instantly seen its value plummet into the earth’s crust, with some of the worlds now selling for just $0.01. What a shame for them. (link)
New Games on the Way from Industry Veterans
A few big announcements have emerged from beloved industry veterans this week.
First up, John Romero, the developer responsible for such tiny indie hits as Doom and Quake, has confirmed his next title will be an FPS built in Unreal Engine 5. It’s set to be a new IP, and is currently hiring for staff to work on it. (link) It is unclear if this new title will make us his bitch. Time will tell.
Next up, Bruce Straley has confirmed his new studio, Wildflower Interactive. Straley was previously employed at Naughty Dog, where he co-directed Uncharted 2 and 4 and The Last of Us, and left the company in 2017. He’s been out of the industry since, making this new studio his return to video games. The studio’s goal will be to produce unique, stylised and “small-ish” titles. (link)
Finally, the new studio Build a Rocket Boy, founded by former Rockstar producer Leslie Benzies, has confirmed three new staff – Mick Hocking, Murray Pannell and Randall Price. (https://www.eurogamer.net/former-gta-producer-welcomes-playstation-and-2k-talent-to-build-a-rocket-boy-studio) Hocking previously worked for Codemasters and Sony, Pannell previously worked for Ubisoft and Sony, and Price worked for NCSoft and ArenaNet. Benzies has previously confirmed their first major project will be an open world game. (link)
Lego Are Making an Atari 2600
Lego have revealed that they will be releasing an Atari 2600 set to celebrate Atari’s 50th anniversary.
Similar to the Lego NES they previously made, this is a recreation of the original console, including cartridges that can be inserted into the console, a small diorama of a player’s 1980s bedroom and smaller builds representing the game Asteroids, Centipede and Adventure.
It looks adorable, although I’m not quite old enough to have nostalgia for the Atari myself.
Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is the second collection of classic Capcom arcade games, and while the first edition saw a lot of the big names, this one delves into some of the more obscure titles within Capcom’s back catalogue. The most recognisable titles here are the Darkstalkers games, the Street Fighter Alpha series, Mega Man: Power Battle and 1943, but there are still plenty of gems to explore elsewhere within the collection.
A few notable indie games this week. Endling: Extinction Is Forever (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is an eco-conscious adventure where you play as a mother fox trying to survive with her three cubs. Hazel Sky (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a game about a young flying machine engineer taking on a series of trials in a beautiful mysterious world. Hell Pie (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is a 3D platformer where you play Nate, the Demon of Bad Taste as he seeks out the ingredients for Satan’s birthday cake.
As Dusk Falls (PC, Xbox) is an interactive narrative experience based around choices. Set in Two Rock County as the lives of two families interact in a tense crime drama, the game offers up multiple modes of play, whether that’s a solo experience or a co-op experience where the group decides what happens next.
Live a Live (Switch) is a game 28 years late to the party. Released in 1994 for the Super Famicom, it’s only now that it sees a Western release in the form of a remake, replacing the original flat sprite work with a style more reminiscent of Octopath Traveler. This JRPG takes place across seven different times, with each time period offering its own set of characters with their own stories, all of which culminate in a single overarching story.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Stray (PC, PlayStation), also known as Annapurna’s Cat Game because of its central premise – you play as a cat. I don’t think I need to provide further explanation why this is Game of the Week.
OK, fine, here’s more. It’s not just about playing as a cat, it’s about being a cat lost inside a post-apocalyptic city full of robots and a strange biological scourge. Using your innate feline abilities, you have to jump, meow and scritch your way through this strange land and uncover its mysteries.
I’ve played the opening couple of hours of this, and I already recommend it for anyone who likes moody sci-fi or, more importantly, is a cat person. Everything about this protagonist is peak cat, making this one of the most adorable experiences out there. It also has one of the saddest openings of a game since The Last of Us, and I can only hope we see a happy resolution to this by the end of the game.
That’s all for this week, see you again with more gaming news and releases!