It’s Friday! Or is it? Time is a social construct, so I could tell you it’s Wednesday today, and how could you prove me wrong? It’s Friday because it’s the fifth day this week, but when did this week start? Can’t prove that either, I’m afraid. Well, the calendar in the bottom right corner of the monitor says it’s Friday. Who told the computer that it’s Friday? Anyone could change that display in the settings. What I can say, for certain, is that events occurred and news transpired in this indefinable time period, and it’s been turned into bite-size chunks, here in the round up…
Lots of dogs with swords in video games, not enough fish-eating bats in video games. That’s my stance. I wouldn’t say there are too many dogs with swords in video games, and I think that the big wolf in Dark Souls is a good’un and should only be the boss of soft fur and chunky paws. Anyway, when I first saw a photo of the fish-eating bat, or Myotis vivesi, I thought, ‘Wow. That is awful.’ It’s got papery-thin, translucent wings. Already don’t like that. Nobody’s insides should be privy to the outside, same thing with those public toilets that look like everyone can see you but they can’t. The bat has these razor sharp talons for sinking into unsuspecting prey, and its jaws are teeming with teeth. Teeming! The NHS sorted that right out for me but this bat doesn’t have the equal opportunity.
But, I think that this pescaterian winged rodent would be an excellent boss battle in a metroidvania game. Imagine walking into a new zone that is quiet and peaceful, and a lake shimmers like liquid mercury. BAT! The creature swoops down to interrupt your fanciful descriptions of water, and, to avoid its attacks, you’ll need to dive deeper than its talons will reach. It’s a game of survival though, because if you swim too deep, you could run out of breath and drown. And the bat would say, ‘That’s fast food,’ or something immersion-breaking like that. Anyway. Here’s the news.
Randy Pitchford settles that super weird lawsuit with former Gearbox employee
‘All misunderstandings between the parties have been corrected,’ said the court, and boy howdy, were there a lot of them. In December 2018, former Gearbox company lawyer Wade Callender was sued by the developer for multiple fiscal transgressions, including fraudulent use of its credit card for personal purchases. Callender raised the stakes and accused Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford of ‘exploiting Gearbox employees and property to fund Pitchford’s private cravings’, and of accepting a secret $12 million bonus from the publisher, Take-Two Interactive. That’s before even mentioning the USB stick filled with company secrets and camgirl footage. It’s all water under the bridge now, though, because Pitchford and Callender have made up and the former has been ‘exonerated’ of the latter’s allegations. ‘Because the parties are mutually bound by confidentiality, no additional statements will be forthcoming,’ the court stated. Probably for the best.
Pokémon Sword and Shield may reveal another Galarian Pokémon
‘What would you want a Galarian Kingler to look like?’ I tapped out in the group chat. It’s not a group chat dedicated to Pokémon but let’s call a spade a spade. On the official Japanese site for Pokémon Sword and Shield, the Pokémon Secret Club is a place for players who have pre-ordered the game to receive sneak peeks. It’s currently crawling with Kingler sprites and they’ll even turn up in their shiny colouration. Fans are speculating that an exclusive trailer could be dropping soon, and that it could reveal a Galarian variant for the Pincer Pokémon. The Pokémon site has been invaded by rogue Pokémon before, and that led to the arrival of SirFetch’d.
Ustwo Games will face legal action following claims of union busting
The BAFTA award-winning studio behind Monument Valley has been accused of anti-union activity by Game Workers Unite (GWU), a branch of the trade union Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). Ustwo Games senior programmer Austin Kelmore has been recently dismissed, and GWU claims that this is the outcome of Kelmore’s work as branch chair and a founding member of GWU. Kelmore had discussed rights at work with a few fellow Ustwo Games employees, and was questioned by a senior manager about his role in the trade union. Additionally, GWU alleges that Kelmore was denied the right to be accompanied by a union representative during his disciplinary and dismissal meeting, and thus Ustwo Games has broken employment law. In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, the developer said Kelmore is still employed at Ustwo Games but ‘will be leaving in the near future for reasons unconnected to his membership of a trade union or his undertaking trade union activities.’ Ustwo Games had until today to reverse the dismissal, before legal action will be initiated by GWU.
Sega, Sony, and WarnerMedia have exploited UK tax breaks intended for indie devs
I promise that the round up will become a cheerier read soon. A report from The Guardian names Sega, Sony, and WarnerMedia as industry titans that are taking advantage of the Video Games Tax Relief initiative intended for small studios. The Video Game Tax Relief will allow developers to claim up to 20 per cent of production costs if its game scores enough points in an assessment of cultural significance. The Guardian states that these three companies have been using this to avoid paying millions of pounds in corporate tax. Sega has claimed £20 million, Sony has soaked up £30 million, and WarnerMedia has taken £60 million in tax relief. Applications that claimed a maximum of £50,000 accounted for over half of all submissions, but these tot up to a slice of £10 million from the £324 million intended for the small-scale studios.
Valve adds an X-ray scanner for CS:GO loot boxes, but only in France
Seriously, I do promise. In a blog post on the official Counter-Strike site, Valve described how this new X-ray scanner will work for loot boxes. The feature will allow the contents of the randomised loot box to be visible before the player opens it. Convenient and clear, but the mechanic only works once, so to use the X-ray scanner again, the player must purchase the item shown to them. ‘It is not possible to scan another Container without claiming the revealed item,’ the post read. Oh, and these changes only apply to France because gambling regulations over there vary to the rest of the world. Players are unconvinced and think it still stacks the system against them, and to add insult to injury, the X-ray scanner hasn’t been given to players for free. That’ll be €2.50, s’il vous plait.
PlayStation Studios chairman Shawn Layden has left Sony
Ok, I still haven’t broken that promise because this is technically neutral. Sony loses Layden, but Layden gets new opportunities and Sony might hire someone new who’s just as skilled as Layden! The former Worldwide Studios chairman joined Sony in 1987, working alongside co-founder Akio Morita as a communications assistant. After Jack Tretton left, he became the president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America back in 2014, before shifting to his role as chairman of PlayStation’s Worldwide Studios. October 1 marks the beginning of the second half of the fiscal year for many Japanese companies, so Layden’s departure doesn’t signal anything drastic.
Troy Baker didn’t return as Rhys in Borderlands 3 because he won’t do a ‘non-union gig’
It’s been a heck of a week, but hang in there, because it does get cheerier. It does. Actor Troy Baker said that Gearbox Software is a ‘non-union gig’, and as such it was ‘impossible’ for him to reprise his role as Rhys in Borderlands 3. This clears up a vague exchange between Baker and Gearbox that stretches back to April. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said Baker had refused to come back, but Baker said he wanted to be Rhys but Gearbox never contacted him about it. ‘They would never move from that position [on unions],’ Baker said. ‘I’m not mad. It’s invariably a completely different character, but it still stings.’ Once again, Gearbox responded to Baker’s story and clarified that it adhered to Texas labour laws, ‘which means that a person cannot be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in a labor union or other labor organization.’ The developer couldn’t resist an ironic closing comment, though: ‘We also believe strongly in hiring local voice actors whenever we can which is why we’re thrilled Troy’s career really took off after working with us.’
Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training is coming to Switch this December
BRAIN TRAINING ON SWITCH. IT WAS ALL WORTH IT. So, Train Your Brain: Nintendo Switch Training for Adults is the next game in the Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training series. It’ll release in Japan on December 27, and is bundled with an officially licensed stylus. This means the return of mental maths, but the Switch version of the edutainment classic will make use of the console’s hardware capabilities. For example, the Joy-Con’s IR camera will scan their hand to play a game of rock-paper-scissors, or hold up the correct answer to calculations. It’s unknown as to whether the game will come to the PAL region, but I hope it does, because we could get updated celebrity cameos in the adverts. This time, we could see Taika Waititi clicking furiously on a counting game, or Timothee Chalamet reading Little Women eloquently aloud.
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