Rundown (5/19-5/25) The Future Is Random!

This past week I finished up the first iteration of what I hope to be a new segment to go alongside my Reviews, Rundowns, and Rambles, which I’m dubbing Randoms.  Randoms are short stories based on various ideas, concepts, and prompts that I either stumble across or pop into my weird brain. A segment meant to contrast my novels and novellas, which take me forever to write, and require me to commit to an idea and characters and make everything part of one big continuous multiverse.  The first Random will debut on May 31st, but I am not committing to a more specific schedule going forward. Could be monthly, could be quarterly, could be whenever the hell I feel like it.  Remember kids: Die Zukunft ist Zufällig.

So, this has been a pretty weird week for news all things considered, to the point where I’m not really sure where to begin digging through the clump of stories I have, so I guess I’ll just start wherever.  While I have loudly expressed my apathy towards it in the past, the Call of Duty series is so prolific that I feel the need to at least be passively aware of what it going on with it, and it turns out that it may be some hot water.  According to a report put out by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, the 2020 installment in the series, reportedly developed by Raven Software and Sledgehammer Games, was allegedly cancelled, with Treyarch’s Black Ops 5 now taking the 2020 spot.  Mostly due to how the project originally slated for 2020 was supposedly a mess.  A move that speaks volumes about how difficult game development is, that even an iterative installment in a series can fall apart due to high tensions and general mismanagement.  Also, 2019’s Call of Duty will be called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which will be an edgy soft reboot of the series.  Not to be confused with 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, or 2016’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, an updated and worse version of COD 4.  

Speaking of collapsing projects, about a year ago I went through the background needed to understand the announcement of Lords of the Fallen 2 after publisher CI Games ended their relationship with developer Deck 13, who went on to make The Surge, and instead picked up Defiant Studios, developers of… nothing, to work on the project.  Yet during the latest development milestone, Defiant apparently failed to deliver what CI Games desired, and as such CI Games ended their relationship with them, instead opting to take on the development duties of this project internally as far as I can tell.  Defiant Games naturally denied this and cited the team member’s past accomplishments, making this a ‘he said, she said’ scenario that may or may not result in Lords of the Fallen 2 coming together, or if it will be in the same development limbo as Dead Island 2… seriously, I’m just waiting for that game to be properly re-announced or cancelled at this point.

Continuing down this wave of kerfuffles, one of the more perplexing stories from earlier this year was the suspension of sales of the latest game from Sega’s Yakuza team, Judgement, due to the alleged cocaine use by actor Pierre Taki, whose likeness and voice were used for a central character in the game.  Since then Sega has replaced the character model and Japanese voice over for the upcoming western release next month, and recently announced that sales in Japan will resume with a “New Price Version” due out July 18th.  Overall, I still find this entire situation to be overblown in many ways, but the underlying issue was ultimately resolved and sales shall be resumed, so I guess this drama can be swept under the rug.

Same thing with the rampant concerns about crunch that followed news that Sonic’s design in the upcoming live action film would be altered following fan outcry.  To recap, after the internet had a Field Day with the new Sonic design and gushed over it with a degree of exaggerated disgust and cynical snark, it was announced that the design would be changed before the film’s release, which caused people to immediately assume this meant that crunch would be imposed on the animation staff.  According to a tweet from the film’s director, that will not be the case, and instead the film shall be delayed to February 14th, 2020.  Because nothing says Valentine’s Day like a mediocre-at-best children’s film based on a lucrative IP.

While I am digging up old stories, I may as well bring up the Ouya one more time.  Yes, the now forgotten Android-box that could aimed to fulfill a niche that, looking back, I don’t think even existed, was previously discontinued back in 2015, and on June 25th its online marketplace will close and games that require an online connection shall no longer function.  Seeing services that people paid money for shut down stinks, but it’s 2019 and I honestly cannot really imagine anybody going back and playing something on their Ouya, period.  Rest in pieces you little cube of wild ambition.

Jumping to the last story I have lined up, for the past decade or so it has been well documented that Game Freak has multiple teams within it and that, in addition to fostering the Pokemon franchise with each mainline entry, they produce a variety of more experimental titles.  From HarmoKnight, a game I could barely play because of how rubbish my sense of rhythm is.  Pocket Card Jockey, a strange game about horse betting and cards that I will not even pretend to understand.  Tembo the Badass Elephant, a fairly underwhelming platformer that I only played for about an hour before I got bored with it.  Along with Giga Wrecker, a physics-based puzzle platformer that I found to be… utterly infuriating.

Anyways, I bring this up because it was recently stated that Game Freak prioritizes these original projects over new installments in the Pokemon series.  It is a very perplexing notion by itself, but my reading of it is that Game Freak understands the importance of developers learning to view things from a different perspective, which will in turn help the Pokemon series in the long run.  Working on a single series can lead to a very narrow development mindset, which leads to stagnation, and Pokemon is such a big franchise that it really does need to avoid ever feeling truly stale.  It’s a notion that I agree with to an extent, though I am still concerned about their ability to pour the attention and dedication needed into the Pokemon series considering how high people’s expectations have become since the series went 3D and later HD in a period of 5 years.  I mean, they recently bumped their staff count from 143 to 227, assuming this is an accurate source, so they seem to be heading into the right direction by adding more manpower to what was, by-in-large, run as an indie studio for several generations, but… I guess we’ll just need to wait until more info is revealed for Sword and Shield.

That about covers it for this week.  There were some E3 rumors, but with the event only two weeks away, I’d rather hold off on talking about them until more finite details are available, especially if the rumor/leak seems legitimate.  I’m sure that Great Rune, that From Software X George RR Martin open world Norse fantasy joint will be announced as people have been saying.  Hell, I was convinced it was a thing when Liam Robertson first mentioned it on one of his Patreon-exclusive podcasts.  

Actually, no, wait, I have an 11th hour addition to make.  Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes will be ported to PC and PS4, which goes to remind me that even if a game is announced as an exclusive before a system comes out, so long as it is developed by a third party, and was not directly funded by Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo, it will probably come to other platforms eventually.  Or in other words, based on this, Blaster Master Zero, and Octopath Traveler, I think it would be safe to assume that something like Daemon X Machina will also come to other platforms, but stuff like Astral Chain likely will never be ported.  Video games are wack, yo.

Header image comes from Cuticle Detective Inaba, a show that I think I maybe watched 4 episodes of and then dropped 5 years ago, but for some reason I have a ton of screencaps of.  

 

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