Month: April 2020

GDC Summer Set to Replace In-Person Event on August 4 to 6 2

GDC Summer Set to Replace In-Person Event on August 4 to 6

Organizers from the Game Developers Conference (GDC) announced a new GDC Summer event after postponing its traditional event from COVID-19 concerns.

The all-digital event features a lineup of presentations from developers remotely while its conferences will continue to connect with guests in interactive experiences. In a statement, organizers said they look forward to having in-person event in the future while GDC Summer would best serve the gaming community.

“As so many game developers embrace remote working arrangements and online collaboration, we’re inspired to adapt and deliver GDC in a digital format that will be available to everyone with an internet connection, and will work hard to deliver the high-quality content and networking opportunities GDC attendees have come to expect,” GDC wrote, adding more information would be coming soon.

Past GDC events gathered industry-leading developers and gamers together for a series of events which revealed the latest games and updates to anticipated releases. It was also a chance for studios to reveal gameplay while being shared online. However, this year’s GDC saw a lighter anticipation from partners such as Microsoft, Sony and Facebook and resulted in organizers ultimately cancelling it months ahead of a full worldwide COVID-19 lockdown.

GDC Summer is set to take place online from August 4 to 6 while additional details can be found here.

Canadian Studio RAC7 Updates Sneaky Sasquatch for Apple Arcade 2

Canadian Studio RAC7 Updates Sneaky Sasquatch for Apple Arcade

Stealth platformer Sneaky Sasquatch takes the titular hero into an urban setting after an update was released last week.

The Apple Arcade exclusive title takes history’s most elusive creature across various campsites, where they steal food while staying in disguise from unsuspecting humans. Players do their best to stay undetected while keeping out of sight from a persistent park ranger. Its original story line was also developed in part by Vancouver-based RAC7, who based their “everyday Sasquatch stuff” into a gameplay and style similar to the award-winning Untitled Goose Game.

Canadian Studio RAC7 Updates Sneaky Sasquatch for Apple Arcade
Sneaky Sasquatch – RAC7

The latest update adds a significantly new challenge for the beloved Sasquatch, as he makes his way into town for a new life. Players can try on new disguises while strolling through diners and roads in search of a perfect meal. This time around, the Sasquatch embarks on a mission to become an office staff while climbing up the corporate ranks. This job also introduces new objectives players need to perform around the office to please staff and earn a promotion.

Canadian Studio RAC7 Updates Sneaky Sasquatch for Apple Arcade
Sneaky Sasquatch – RAC7

Police officers can also pursue the Sasquatch on sight, leading to wacky car chases if players decide to steal a car for quick getaways. Heaven might also come in the form of supermarkets stocked with food as players can explore a catalogue of meals (to steal?).

Sneaky Sasquatch‘s new update is live now for Apple Arcade owners and can be started after players finish the main storyline.

You can view a snippet of the game in a trailer from Apple here:

SEGA Music Starts the Company's Label for Game Soundtracks 1

SEGA Music Starts the Company’s Label for Game Soundtracks

Sega will be publishing their own in-game soundtracks and other original music through a new label. Simply called Sega Music, it will also make all future in-game music available to hear through their new brand.

According to Games Industry, the launch of Sega Music starts with a soundtrack called Sakura Wars: Complete Collection, which was released earlier this week. The label will also support third-party producers creating in-game music, including Wave Master Entertainment who worked on Sakura Wars.

A release promised players will also get to access more soundtracks in the not-too-distant future while all of their games will have support from Sega Music following launch. Players could also expect music to release either on the same day as its game or shortly after depending on the producer.

A logo was also shown with Sega Music and a blue waveform translates into the company’s signature phrase at the start of all their games. So far, the Sega Music label was introduced in Japan and it’s not clear when it will expand into North America and Europe.

As seen with Capcom’s own music brand, Sega Music leaves the door open for distributing past soundtracks from franchises including Sonic the Hedgehog and the Bayonetta series. Players could also bump to throwback The House of the Dead or Super Money Ball soundtracks if producers choose to revisit each franchise in their library.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Takes Players into Nordic Waters 1

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Takes Players into Nordic Waters

Ubisoft’s next flagship action-adventure title has been revealed as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, taking its name and setting into new directions through ninth-century Viking battles.

Players take on the character of Eivor, a raider among a deadly Viking clan sailing through Norway to build a settlement. Waiting for Eivor are massive English forces who’ve decided to take up arms and stop him from claiming a variety of mysterious structures in the game’s open world. Its premise also sets the grounds for the series’ traditional gameplay, from free-roaming through vast shorelines and exploring plains of greenery shrouded by a cloudy backdrop. The Viking setting also paves the way for Norse mythology, with Ubisoft dipping their toes into the culturally supernatural since Origins. It’s likely through the main campaign we’ll encounter some familiar figures, including Odin who guides Eivor and his armies through victory.

Valhalla was revealed through a live art painting done across a morning by designer BossLogic, who slowly created longboats, beards and axes according to the game’s setting. A trailer followed a day after and showed more of Valhalla‘s range as a game to explore and battle in.

Its cinematic trailer showed a contrast to how the English viewed Vikings, while teasing players with the ability to make smart choices in their conquest. Eivor can also lead his own Viking fleet into battle, against both standard troops and heavier enemy types which require strategy to beat. The critical thinking can also mean life or death in the heat of battle. Saving the day is a familiar tool absent from Odyssey; the Hidden Blade is returning as a weapon which can be used in close quarters for quick kills when all else fails. It’s a welcome sight to see as the signature weapon of the series was reserved as downloadable content in the last game.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Takes Players into Nordic Waters
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Ubisoft

But Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is looking to stick back to its formulas while introducing castle raids into the battles. Players will be storming English territory while hammering defenses with longboats. A collection of loot also waits for players if they succeed, helping to upgrade Eivor and his abilities.

Its website also states many RPG mechanics are being doubled-down for Valhalla, while players are likely to be given more customization to play the game however they want it to look and feel. This also affects its core gameplay, in which players can choose to go into a fight without making a sound, or all-in with a battle cry and warriors on command. The results of each also lead to a choice in taking no prisoners or forming alliances for benefits.

The fruits of your labour hit home as Eivor can upgrade new settlements and open new shops for abilities. Series’ staples including the blacksmith and harbormaster all come back in their own versions for Valhalla, reminding players much of the replay value comes in progression. A tattoo parlor is even available to let players decorate Eivor with various designs. The customization also extends to its own multiplayer features and custom raiders can make an appearance with friends to sail the world together.

3664176-491495eaa1d608140e6.78434262-acv_iconicengland_evening_female.jpg (3840×2160)
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is on its way for Holiday 2020, and comes in a whopping five editions players can pre-order now for current generation consoles and the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Its Standard Edition comes alone while a Gold Edition is bundled with the season’s pass. The Gold Steelbook Edition comes with a limited edition box for the game disc while its Ultimate Edition comes with special items to help players in the game. Finally, the Collector’s Edition comes with a special statue and all of the bonuses stated before.

Intel Comet Lake-S 10th gen desktop CPU Lineup Set To Take On Ryzen Head On 1

Intel Comet Lake-S 10th gen desktop CPU Lineup Set To Take On Ryzen Head On

The CPU market has gotten interesting in recent years. Since the release of AMD Ryzen, and Zen 2 there has been real competition, and it has meant Intel had innovate to stay competitive. With the new announcement of the Intel Comet Lake-S 10th gen desktop CPU range, they met that challenge and pushed the bar up in the process. The new Intel Comet Lake-S chips not only push performance, but they also address all key aspects from core count to frequency they have lagged behind in, making the new range impressive on paper, and in benchmarks.

The most impressive specs come from the flagship of the 10th gen range, the Intel i9-10900K. This new powerhouse CPU, delivers staggering specs for gaming, offering up 10 cores, 20 threads, and a massive 5.3 GHz with Intel’s proprietary Thermal Velocity Boost, delivering all the power any enthusiast would need for most gaming, and streaming setups. In benchmarks in comparison to the previous generation, the CPU offers up to 10% more FPS in PUBG, 18% faster 4K video editing in Premiere Pro, and 33% more FPS in Mount and Blade 2.

Intel Comet Lake-S 10th gen desktop CPU Lineup Set To Take On Ryzen Head On 1

Intel is also working with game developers and publishers to utilize the new technology that the 10th Gen range allows to push the limits on what games can achieve. In Total War: Three Kingdoms, Intel worked with Creative Assembly on a new horde-style arcade mode titled Dynasty Mode. Using AI Animations, physics the new mode can allow up to 6X the number of nuts on the screen. And the developer of Remnant: From the Ashes worked with intel to implement implemented Software Masked Occlusion Culling utilizing more CPU resources thanks to Intel’s work with the Unreal engine and to optimize and get the most out of the CPU on offer.

The Key highlights of the new 10th gen Intel Core desktop CPU family include:

  • Up to 5.3 GHz clocks with Intel Thermal Velocity Boost (superrefined 14 nm microarchitecture)
  • Improved Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
  • Hyperthreading is now featured on i3 models all the way up to i9
  • The i9 flagships now integrate 10 cores and 20 threads with 20 MB Intel Smart Cache
  • Up to DDR4-2933 support
  • New Intel 400-series chipset
  • Support for 2.5 GbE speeds via Intel Ethernet Connection I225 (Foxville)
Intel Comet Lake-S 10th gen desktop CPU Lineup Set To Take On Ryzen Head On 2

The new Intel Extreme Tuning Utility now offers the ability to disable/enable the HT function on a per-core basis, with it also adding functions such as PEG/DMI OC and enhanced voltage/frequency curve controls. It should be noted that all Comet Lake-S CPUs come with thinner dies and thicker IHS for improved thermal performance.

The 10th Gen range also offers up a solid price for performance ratio, with the top of the line Core i9-10900K hitting the $488 USD Price-point. With chips like the Core-i7 10700K, with 8 cores, 16 threads, and a base clock of 3.8, with boost speeds up to 5.1GHz at $374 USD and the i5-10600K with 6 cores, and 12 threads a base-clock up to 4.1Ghz and a boost up to 4.8 at $262 USD there are choices in the K range to hit most budgets and needs.

The new chips also support up for DDR4-2933 memory, will support up to 2.5 gigabit Ethernet, and much like the rest of the Core i 10th gen range, will support WiFi 6 by default. This new upgrade does mean builders will need a new motherboard since these chips now run on the new 400-series chipset. The entire range, beyond the F-Series, features Intel’s integrated UHD Graphics 630 offering acceptable graphics even if it still does not compare to a full GPU.

This new range on paper looks impressive and has all the workings of an exciting new series for PC builders. How it compares to what AMD has on offer in a price-per-performance face-off still has yet to be determined, but on paper, Intel is doing what is needed to make Desktop CPU’s that gamers and content creators can you to deliver real performance gains in workflow and gaming. It will be exciting to see more on these processors as they release, and CGMagazine will be giving the range a more detailed review closer to launch.

SpellPunk VR (Beta) Review 2

SpellPunk VR (Early Access) Review

SpellPunk VR is a frustrating but barely passable multiplayer shooter that works best as a concept. Its approach to a magic-based dueling game is enough to make players feel like Doctor Strange – if he never became the Sorcerer Supreme. Even in its Beta version, the game’s lack of accessibility affects its frustrating controls while players find themselves spending more time trying to conjure spells.

Its premise is simple: You’re a wizard practicing spells in a mystical void. Floating rocks become a platform for sorcery, which can be summoned through drawing figures and shapes. The world SpellPunk tries to immerse players with is vibrant to behold in VR, with bright patterns and some electric music under a consistent neon-grunge tone. This sets the game apart in aesthetics, but that’s as much as players get.

SpellPunk VR (Beta) Review 3
SpellPunk VR

SpellPunk lacks any deeper immersion without voice acting or even a story to engage players with. They’re simply thrown into a platform without context to duel with magic. The game would have benefitted with characters guiding players through an introduction to help. But, a barebones tutorial does manage to teach you the basics solo. SpellPunk’s direction as a multiplayer-based game also makes it dependent on drawing spells while making players wonder what they’re fighting for (it might involve a dancing robot?).

Spells only work if players drew shapes with mathematical precision (which of course is unrealistic). VR users simply hold down the grip button to start drawing. It’s a mechanic that’s meant to be practiced with a challenge, but a poor response means the learning curve never goes away. As some spells continue to work, most fizzle out and turn sorcerers-to-be into punching bags for opponents (assuming they figured out how to nail SpellPunk‘s controls).

Right away, players have a total of nine abilities which can be drawn. Of course, each spell is based on an element and offer different levels of damage/speed. But the game’s biggest gimmick is also its weakness, which makes spells tedious and difficult to draw. But as much as I tried to draw simple arrows (and even a circle), it just doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. The feeling of finally making a spell is muddled by horrible feedback from a user’s hands. Incineration Studios has yet to loosen its incredibly constrictive controls, which would make SpellPunk at the very least a solid experience.

SpellPunk VR (Early Access) Review
SpellPunk VR – Image provided by Incineration Productions

This is made to alleviate some of SpellPunk’s lack of open-ended feedback response, which comes from players drawing shapes differently. Unless a spell is drawn with great stenciling to the game’s chart, you’re greeted with a failing clap that becomes all too familiar.

But when players are successful, they feel like sorcerers with a creative spark. It’s satisfying to fire off spells and watch each unique one hit an enemy. SpellPunk shines when players find their own hot streak with spells and some are easier to draw than others. But the more complicated spells are traded for familiar ones during intense duels. In turn, players could find themselves sticking to their drawable spells to win matches.

This is where the game deserves some credit on delivering a magical presentation. Each of the elements make each hand glow with solid audio effects and dazzle when fired with the trigger button. But the visual reward comes with repeated attempts at drawing a spell.

SpellPunk VR (Early Access) Review
SpellPunk VR – Image provided by Incineration Productions

A patch after its Beta release did improve its spell recognitions slightly, but players would still find themselves struggling to chain together a combination of attacks during intense battles with opponents. A lack of fluidity from SpellPunk breaks the rhythm it tries to keep. Instead of countering and deflecting spells, I found myself sidestepping to dodge attacks while sparking up nothing from dozens of memorized sketches. Worst of all, the process starts all over again once a spell knocks players back or misses. This rinse-and-repeat cycle could only go as far as your patience does before taking the headset off.

Admittedly, I did manage to triumph over the AI in an offline Versus mode after the patch. The added feedback was enough to screw up less on spells. However, my odds were only increased while spells continued to fail. The biggest enemy knocking me off the stage was still SpellPunk’s biggest mechanic. Thanks to this, it was hard to remember some of the cooler moments that came from countering fireballs with water or having two spells in each hand.

Its offline versus mode adds some replay value for incredibly patient sorcerers. But bots are automatic with their spells, sending a volley of attacks at you before you’re able to get a shield up. It makes it all the more disappointing as players become knocked out of their platforms and fall to their deaths.

SpellPunk VR (Beta) Review 4
SpellPunk VR

Opposite-handed players are unable to draw spells backwards or in any other direction in SpellPunk. It’s subjective to say that players draw shapes differently, and the game fails to meet most players in this part.

Adding to SpellPunk‘s limitations is the lack of a Settings menu. Players don’t get to make adjustments for video, controls or even accessible alternatives to drawing spells. SpellPunk VR stands on its own and hopes players are able to go with it. Many of the options are also limited to choosing some detailed characters, which change your appearance for the game’s different modes. The characters also lack voice-acting or personality to go with their colorful themes, making players a hermit in an edgy, soulless shell.

At the time of writing this review, SpellPunk VR feels like an empty game with its dependency on multiplayer. It was nearly impossible to find an online match to share my wizard woes with. For five minutes, I decided to sit on the floor of my room and wait before going back to offline play again. However, no matchmaking happened after a reasonable amount of tries as I hoped things would improve at final launch.

SpellPunk VR (Beta) Review 5
SpellPunk VR

Until developers take major UI and gameplay overhauls into consideration for its official release, SpellPunk is a clumsy interpretation of VR magic which only works for a few players. The game’s imagination is limited to a colourful presentation at face-value while its strongest drawing-based mechanic is far from reliable (especially against other real players)

What worked for Incineration Productions simply didn’t translate to players trying SpellPunk without a visual guide at all times. Its efforts are clear in improving the game, but does so by staying in place.

Tom Nook Makes Headlines Amid Recession in Animal Crossing 1

Tom Nook Makes Headlines Amid Recession in Animal Crossing

Financial overlord and Animal Crossing mascot Tom Nook made the rounds over Financial Times, through an in-depth piece covering a significant interest rate drop in “The Bank of Nook.”

While the news didn’t impact real global markets, players in New Horizons collectively expressed their concerns over a sudden lack of savings interest from the game. According to the Times, rates plummeted from 0.5 per cent “to just 0.05 per cent” since mid-April. This also left players with less income for their islands while the interests for bells apparently reflected the global impacts of COVID-19.

Tom Nook Makes Headlines Amid Recession in Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing New Horizons – Nintendo

More players took to online forums to predict an “Island Recession,” which would lead to more fruit trees being planted for income while more flights would be reserved for resource harvesting on other settlements. Of course, Tom Nook himself has yet to comment on the matter as he supports players on their islands.

The Bank of Nook provides players with security for their funds while giving players an extra boost from interest rates. The Times connected Tom Nook’s business direction as realistic while current real budgets from U.S. stimulus packages totaled to $14 trillion.

“Such activity has given a big lift to asset prices,” the piece wrote while accounting for player’s time-travelling habits. Of course, things in New Horizons can turn a bit unrealistic as the Nintendo Switch’s time and date settings could be changed to build interest. Despite this trick, the lower interest rate means players would have to work a bit harder to gain their Bells.

New Assassin's Creed Game Revealed Over Live Art Stream 1

New Assassin’s Creed Game Revealed Over Live Art Stream

Update @ 3:30 p.m.: The graphic art by BossLogic confirms the next Assassin’s Creed game will be set in the Viking era, with the main character sporting an axe, braided beard and a fur outfit. The background also shows a viking fleet exploring uncharted waters as battles happen near ancient structures.

A quiz game over Twitch also challenged viewers on Nordic trivia and Viking mythology as these elements are being included in Assassin’s Creed.

Entertainment artist BossLogic has teamed up with Ubisoft in showing fans the next setting behind a new Assassin’s Creed game.

Breaking trailer norms, a slower-paced live stream shows a digital painting being crafted over Adobe Photoshop. BossLogic, who has worked with major studios such as Marvel for graphic art, has taken his expertise to a new world for Assassins. Pixel by pixel, images from a specific boat to detailed battlefields hint at a Viking setting.

While BossLogic worked on the background first, he saved the character’s reveal for last and kept the figure in a silhouette. The main character also wore pelt and was kitted out with other Nordic attire to fit the setting.

Previous rumors also alluded to Ubisoft looking to take the franchise into a new world, starting with Odyssey which traded a hidden blade for Centurion armor and weapons. The next game would capitalize on the formula with a fresh start. Putting players in the shoes of Vikings would also keep the series fresh as Assassin’s Creed had explored regions such as Italy, the Middle East, China, India, France and Russia. Other titles have also brought players into Canada and even present-day U.S. through Assassin’s Creed III‘s sequences.

The graphic showed boats similar to ones seen around 800 A.D. According to History, it was also the time when Norseman took to the seas in finding new settlements while battling rival armies for control over land. These conflicts also marked opportunities for raiding ancient structures along the coastline – many of which could be settings for players to explore.

The teaser began on April 29 at 8 a.m. with BossLogic starting the graphic from blank, before it materialized into a full poster by late afternoon. Remixed versions of soundtracks from previous Assassin’s Creed games played over the painting as it happened as fans speculated together in the comments. His art stream is also one of the alternative ways studios such as Ubisoft are unveiling a new project during COVID-19, following the cancellation of E3.

You can view the whole live stream here, showing the graphic from start to finish.

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