Hello, and welcome to GYGO! I’m Kael, your local gaming psychopomp, and I finally had a chance to dip into Spiritfarer this week. It’s a really cozy game about helping people come to terms with death and also building boats. I absolutely cannot recommend it enough. When I wasn’t getting struck by lightning for the thrill of it, I scoured the net for this week’s gaming news. Enjoy!
Hades Was Made Without Putting Developers Through Hell
Hades just picked up the award for Best Action Game in #TheGameAwards!! Thanks so much to the judges, from all of us — what an honor!
— Supergiant Games (@SupergiantGames) December 11, 2020
Hades pulled Best Action Game and Best Indie Game at The Game Awards this week. Supergiant’s director and designer, Amir Rao and Greg Kasavin, discussed studio work philosophy and the safeguards the company has against crunch. Some of these safeguards include policies like mandatory vacation time and banning emails from 5:00 p.m. Friday to 9:00 a.m. Monday. This kind of systemic approach to curbing overwork is something I love to see in games. In Kasavin’s words, “if your milestone schedule involves crunching every milestone, your whole production process is broken.”
Twitch Adjusts Nudity Policy and Cracks Down on Copyrighted Music
Nudity is now allowed on Twitch, if you’re playing Cyberpunk 2077, at least. The company granted permission to streamers as long as they move naturally through areas such as character creation. Gay indie creator Robert Yang, whose games are largely banned from Twitch, critiques this as a double standard for AAA titles.
Twitch is also reportedly implementing a live DMCA takedown tool. The tool is stated to be able to detect copyrighted content during a broadcast and take the streamer off-air as a result. In the case of games that contain copyrighted music, streamers would either have to turn off their game’s volume or hope that there is a functional streaming mode.
The timing of this tool could not be worse for American streamers, as the United States House of Representatives is debating on making the streaming of copyrighted content a felony offense. The proposal is part of a series of intellectual property-related bills packed into the current government budget proposal, you know, where I usually expect a nation to discuss copyright law. The proposal stirred up a lot of controversy, causing organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology to condemn the proposal and the way it was introduced.
Look, There’s a Lot to Say About Cyberpunk 2077
Following up on last week’s news that Cyberpunk 2077 was triggering epileptic seizures, this week’s patch adjusts the strobing effect and will hopefully make the game safer to play. The patch also addressed a handful of bugs interfering with quests, driving, and music. One noticeable fix is that copyrighted music should no longer play when in streaming mode, which is great considering Twitch’s current DMCA efforts.
What is not fixed, and I can speak from experience, is the game’s poor performance on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. Though no next-gen version has been released, the game struggles to run on the current generation’s consoles and does so with significantly reduced visuals. CDPR took to Twitter to apologize for the game’s performance, saying developers would be working to bring it closer to the high-end PC version. They asked players to stick with them but offered to refund physical copies through December 21st. This has not been going great.
In good news, anyone can now critique the game without worrying about depriving the overworked developers of their livelihood. Bloomberg reports that an email leaked to them has management taking responsibility for the game’s buggy release. They go on to guarantee that all performance-based bonuses would be paid regardless of the game’s ratings. It’s possible that this decision was influenced by the reports that CD Projekt Red already made back the game’s development and advertising budget. CPDR’s bonus structure includes a system in which employees were given physical tokens for putting in exceptional work, which some have criticized for pressuring employees to put more hours than is healthy.
Now, I made a joke earlier about being allowed to criticize games, but I wanna leave off on this thought from Tauriq Moosa. It can be scary to write about games sometimes.
That we have to go on high alert for our friends because we/they did a game review/criticism is something, to this day, I really struggle to convey to non-gaming/non-online people. It's… truly bizarre.
— Tauriq Moosa (@tauriqmoosa) December 9, 2020
In Other News…
Dr. Seuss Enterprises president Susan Brandt discussed the company’s future in game development with Gameindustry.biz. The company overseeing the rights to the likes of The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat is apparently aggressively pursuing interactive media. According to Brandt, the IP has historically been wary of attaching itself to games, especially in the early 2000s when brand tie-ins were just really bad. But the industry has changed since then and Dr. Seuss Enterprises has hired a full-time games consultant to help them keep up. Brandt reports that there’s a console game in the works and more than one mobile game in development.
Some more tidbits:
- Against all odds, we’re apparently getting a new Mass Effect game.
- Ian Walker makes the great point for Kotaku that games which crunch during development probably shouldn’t be getting awards for Best Direction.
- Disco Elysium has a $200+ collectors edition that comes with fancy vinyl records.
- Among Us won Best Multiplayer in the game awards.
- Pacifist Panda hit Level 60 in World of Warcraft by picking millions of flowers.
- Final Fantasy XIV’s newest patch plays as a light sitcom about a bumbling catboy and I’m sad I don’t have an active subscription.
- A new Smash Bros. meme (thanks to Sephiroth joining the Smash Bros. roster) gives Kirby a big sword and luscious silver hair.
veni veni venias, ne me mori facias pic.twitter.com/GUDXLsOy9z
— 42 Duggtrio (@xTrillValentine) December 11, 2020
A genderless eldritch beast bound to mortal flesh. Interests include games, gardening, magical realism, and the complete restructuring of America’s political and economic systems. Frequently orders too much food at restaurants. Tweets @unnnez.