Rundown (3/31-4/06) Natalie Got Her Gacha Fix!

Ever since I stopped playing Fire Emblem Heroes a year ago, I’ve been craving a game with some sort of gacha mechanics, as I love the sensations that come with getting rare and powerful characters accompanied with light flavor text and unique artwork.  It is a desire that I have been looking to satiate in a somewhat healthy manner, and wouldn’t you know it, the Student Transfer dev team provided just that with their latest April Fools goof.  A standard no-frills card collector gacha title where the player can earn 160 unique cards with flavor text that were enough to drive me to achieve a 100% completion rate, and then proceed to happily read through the descriptions, taking delight in the information, background, and general absurdity they provided.

Or in other words, I got an extra dose of Student Transfer funsies, and I was given the opportunity to indulge in a dangerous desire in a safe and contained environment.  Which easily makes this one of my favorite April Fools goofs ever, and I certainly enjoyed it more than the RAGS version, the v3 preview scenario, and the anime teaser that the Student Transfer dev team put out these past few years.  

Anyhow, the video game industry is apprehensive towards a lot of things that have been standardized in other mediums, and one of these things is refunds.  While Valve and Microsoft both started offering refunds with reasonable policies that began a couple years ago, people have been content with Nintendo being Nintendo and saying no to refunds, yet frustrated at Sony for not getting with the times.  Well, Sony has finally caved in to a certain extent, updated their policy, and will now allow un-downloaded purchases and subscription services to be cancelled within 14 days.  Yes, there is no 2 hour trial limit, and if somebody has things set to automatically download, then they will be deemed ineligible for a refund.  Which strikes me as profanely foolish and limited, but as my mother would say, it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Anthem has served as a punching bag for the gaming community since its public demo was released earlier this year, with people criticizing the design choices, technical issues, lack of quality content, and how the game is so broken that the best weapon in the game was the starting rifle.  It begs the question as to what happened, and there are few people in this industry willing to get the dirty anonymous details other than Jason Schreier, who published a detailed breakdown of what went wrong with Anthem.  I won’t recap the entire article, as it is a fascinating read, much like all of Schreier’s behind the scenes breakdowns, but I will give some highlights.

The title languished in a ethereal state of directionless preproduction and prototyping from 2012 to 2016, with significant progress not being made until 2017.  The game was originally going to be named Beyond, but was changed right before the game was revealed to the world.  The E3 trailer was more of a proof of concept meant to guide the developers about what the team maybe sorta wanted this game to be.  Nobody actually knew what the game should be in concrete tangible terms, as the project lacked a single leading figure for long stretches of its life.  Frostbite, EA’s proprietary engine, is a confusing poorly documented mess that was never designed for creating RPGs or even games with a simple save and load feature.  While Bioware had some experience with this engine, those programmers were reallocated to work on sports games, and few programmers were willing to work with this engine, as it is notorious for being full of razor blades.  

That is all before getting into the terrible morale, significant turnover, and the awful crunch-induced stress that some of its employees underwent during this game’s development.  I have been joking about the death of Bioware since Anthem began its pre-release hype cycle, but after reading this article… I think it is the only right course of action.  The studio’s name is tarnished, the talent has been bled out, morale has been extinguished, and I genuinely doubt they have the capacity and capability to continue making games in their current form.  Or in other words, Bioware is no longer Bioware, and rather than trying to build up whatever is left, I think it would be best to close up shope, redistribute staff, and have them work on annualized moneymakers.  Also, Bioware does not see value in articles like this, presumably because it paints their upper management in a bad light.  …You could have just admitted that Anthem’s development was hard and that you were striving for improvement in the future, but nope!

Retailer leaks are not always the most reliable way of verifying the existence of a game or port, but when the retailer is Best Buy and the person posting these leaks is good old Wario64, then it’s a pretty safe bet.  Anyways, three listings were found for unannounced Switch games. Persona 5, Metroid Prime Trilogy, and A Link to the Past.  While the first two were all but announced, this only lights a fire under the tuchuses of the companies involved, while the announcement of A Link to the Past for Switch really does cause my mind to stir.  My inner fan hopes this is a 3D remake note for note remake of A Link to the Past along with an  enhanced revision of A Link Between Worlds.  But that is rampant speculation, and unless somebody hacks into Nintendo’s servers, steals internal documents, or raids one of their offices with 17 gun totting goons, that’s all we’ve got until Aunty Nina Tendo invites all the children over to her cottage in the mushroom woods for a Direct.

Speaking of Nintendo, which is my favorite segway by the way, the company recently announced that their Labo VR kit will be compatible with a VR modes found within Super Mario Odyssey along with the entirety of the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  While I am not surprised at all to see Nintendo use an existing game and assets to show off VR, I am surprised that Zelda can apparently run in the intensive state that VR requires, especially when considering how the game’s performance was supposedly not rock solid on the Switch.  But I’m guessing the resolution drops considerably to facilitate this kind of experience, which no doubt will cause yet another wave of people to praise this game as being the Capra aegagrus hircus or whatever newfangled lingo these well endowed and sexually dynamic teeny boppers be boastin’ these days.

In the past I have cited ratings boards as being near definitive evidence of a game’s existence, as going through the headline history of any given ratings board will reveal a large degree of consistency that should not be understated.  Anyways, this week brought a Korean PC rating for Switch exclusive Octopath Traveler, a title that I bought but have not gotten around to yet, as scheduling in 60+ hour games to review on a somewhat weekly basis is hard.  But regardless, I love hearing that games are coming to the theoretically perpetual PC platform, and while this rating could potentially be for the mobile game announced last month, either way I’m glad to hear that it reach the platform in any form.  Also, I looking forward to when somebody inevitably mods, and disables the bloom and depth of field effect, mostly because I want to see what the title looks like with a less flowery presentation.

Speaking tangentially of PC gaming, which is my second favorite segway, something that caught my eye this week that is not necessarily a new story comes from a ResetEra post by the user Nappael.  An individual who investigated the often cited 30% cut that Valve takes from games on their storefront, and sought to determine whether or not that number is necessarily true given the amount of key resellers in the market.  While their methods have a number of weaknesses, which they highlight in the post itself, they determined that the actual cut Valve takes from any Steam game purchased is closer to 20%. A figure that does not take into account the revenue sharing plan that began last year.  Beyond that, the post itself offers a lot of neatly compiled information, and it’s nice to see people breaking things down, describing their methods, and managing to squeeze blood from the overly secretive stone that is the game industry.

Oh, and Borderlands 3 is coming out September 13th, 2019, and will be an Epic Games Store exclusive for 6 months… Yeah, I can’t say I expected anything else.  I kinda want to meet you halfway Epic, but behaving aggressively and forcing people to use your objectively inferior service makes it difficult to find you endearing.

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