Welcome! It’s my first news post at the new site and boy howdy, am I happy to see it. Getting this thing up and running has basically meant I no longer play video games. Whoops!
Okay, to be fair, I’ve been diving back into Overwatch lately. Just when I think I’ve escaped its clutches, it siren-songs me back in with a new map. Yes, I know this is by design. No, that doesn’t stop me from falling for it. At least I can say they haven’t (yet) convinced me to spend money on a loot box.
Anyway! On to the news.
Get Your Politics Out Of My Games, Part 325
Following the layoff of many employees at Daybreak, the studio behind H1Z1, Everquest, DC Universe Online, and a whole host of other games, it’s been revealed that all is not as it seems. According to a report over at Kotaku, the studio was originally called Sony Online Entertainment until it was bought out by Columbus Nova. Along with the purchase came the name change to Daybreak, according to a 2015 press release.
Except, according to Daybreak, that buyout never happened. The press release has been deleted, and the company told Kotaku that there’s no affiliation between the two companies and never has been, despite the press release.
But it gets stranger. The owner of Columbus Nova, Viktor Vekselberg, recently had his assets frozen, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s—yes, that Mueller—investigation turned up some $500,000 in payments from Columbus Nova to Michael Cohen, President Trump’s lawyer. It’s a wild story, one that’s worth digging into with some red string and corkboard.
In other ‘why are politicians popping up in video game news’ news, Brian Schoeneman, a lawyer, career politician, and lobbyist is currently running for office—in EVE Online. Schoeneman, known as Brisc Rubal in-game, is a longtime player of the MMO and believes he can bring his real-world skills to the Council of Stellar Management. The Council of Stellar Management is a group of elected players who serve as a go-between connecting EVE‘s player base to the developers. Voting begins June 4 and is open to players of the game.
Cheaters and Hackers
A lawsuit over cheating in Fortnite has raised some interesting questions about modding and derivative work. The lawsuit is the first of its kind; while other lawsuits have been filed regarding cheating in the past, this is the only one where the game studio filed charges against the accused cheater. The 14-year-old player is said to have cheated by using a mod while playing in online player-versus-player matches, then linking the mod in the video’s description so others can use it.
It’s a fascinating story, not least because the details are so sketchy. The accused technically shouldn’t have been playing at all, because he’s underage and can’t consent to the game’s End User License Agreement. That means that, despite the fact that he’s playing and cheating, which goes against the EULA’s statement that derivative works, such as modding, are not allowed, he’s actually operating outside the EULA. But, as the Verge points out, being a minor doesn’t absolve you of copyright infringement.
What’s particularly interesting here is that a company has taken action against an individual for unapproved play of their game—play that actively made things unfair for other players in an PVP environment. But with the case leaning so heavily on the fact that derivative works are forbidden, it raises an interesting question: how else can this clause be used in court?
Valve has implemented an interesting strategy to combat bugs and security issues: a virtual bounty board. The board encourages hackers to claim bounties and find security problems in their various programs, including Steam, DOTA 2, and Team Fortress 2. Over $100,000 has already been paid out to hackers who have found these exploits, hopefully making one of the world’s most popular game services a safer place.
But that’s not all hackers have been up to. The PlayStation 4 release of Parappa the Rapper Remastered has been revealed to be built on a PSP emulator rather than being built from the ground up. The discovery is particularly exciting for hackers because it gives them the tools to run their own PSP emulated games, such as Loco Roco, which the person who originally discovered the emulator has already gotten to run on the PlayStation 4.
Gaming News Tidbits
GameStop CEO Michael K. Mauler has resigned after just three months leading the company. No reason has been given for his resignation, though Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said the move was “a shocker and disruptive,” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Dante Douglas covered Battletech‘s diversity over at Paste Games, and what it means for a game to treat its characters as people, not tokens.
Autoplay videos are a menace, but Google’s attempt to fix them has broken countless online games that may never be fixed. As of May 16, Google has temporarily rolled back the changes to allow devs to fix the errors.
If you missed it the first time around, the NES Classic will soon be back on sale.
Dungeons & Dragons may be getting playable centaurs and minotaurs. This month’s playtest includes playable versions of both, which have unique benefits, such as increased speed, as well as drawbacks. both minotaurs and centaurs have been playable in D&D history, but fifth edition does not yet have rules allowing either.
A leaked image seems to show a new Xbox controller designed for accessibility. With two large, programmable pads as well as the D-pad, this controller could be a huge win for players with disabilities.
Former Overwatch League player xQc accused a Widowmaker player of being a hacker, only to discover that the player in question was Jung-woo “Sayaplayer” Ha of the Florida Mayhem.
Cliff Bleszinski, founder of Boss Key, announced on Twitter that the studio would be closing its doors. Boss Key was the studio behind Lawbreakers and Radical Heights. Radical Heights‘ lead producer Ron LaJoie said on Twitter that the staff found out about the closure during a surprise meeting, which unfortunately lead to a heartbreaking exchange with a fan of the game:
She's in progress! No eta quite yet.
— Ron LaJoie (@ron_lajoie) May 14, 2018
Welp, scratch that. No female ever 🙁
— Ron LaJoie (@ron_lajoie) May 14, 2018
As a palate cleanser, and as my final gift to you before I hand things over to Joey for this week’s deals, I offer you this piece of sunshine and delight:
Welcome to Games Bleat! We’re Kael, just your totally normal human gamer, and we’re here to transmit games sales and new releases procured through typical informational channels. Summer sales have been predicted to arrive shortly, yet we are still awaiting their landing arrival. In the meantime, here are these deals our (definitely radio) antenna picked up.
- Mirrormoon EP $1.49
- Fotonica $1.49
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves $2.99
- Mulaka $15.99 (Check out our interview with the creators!)
- Retro Game Crunch $0.99
- Ian’s Eyes $0.99
- Dreaming Sarah $0.59
- Vampire of the Sands $0.54
- Midsummer Night $0.54
- .hack//G.U. Last Recode $19.99
- Adult Swim Games Starter Pack $19.99
- Rain World
- Rise & Shine
- Iconoclasts $16.99
- Last Day of June $13.99
- Sundered $11.99
- Nidhogg 2 $10.49
Using a normal human AM radio and not a occult wave transcoder—which we have heard would be against interstellar law—we have come across these new releases that we will now relay to you for totally benign reasons. First of all is Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, a RPG beat ‘em up based on the “television” show that we picked up via “Netflix” and definitely not intercepting radio signals in the stratosphere. We are very excited for this game. Next is Owl’s Nest, which is what our fellow inhabitants of Earth call an “exploration-driven dungeon crawler.” Finally there is Ghost Pals, a short and mysterious program that seems to convey a sense of atmosphere and narrative through text and image.
Anyway, that is all we have for you this week. We must go procure a nuclear reactor for automotive repair, but we will see you next time on Games Bleat!
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a new video link. Melissa did not mean to link you to a “Best of Will Farrell” video, but rather the one of Ariana Grande and The Roots singing with a Nintendo Labo. Additionally, shortly after this piece was published, Google rolled back the update breaking audio for many browser-based games. The article has been updated to reflect this change.
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.