#123: Amy Hennig Teams up with Skydance

TODAY: Valve has announced a new Half-Life – but is it really Half-Life 3? — Funcom announces Dune multiplayer game based on Conan Exiles — Google Stadia is finally here, but is it still too early for prime time?

Top Story

Amy Hennig founds new game studio

Amy Hennig, most famous for her work as director and writer on the three first Uncharted games, has joined Skydance. Skydance is the Hollywood studio behind blockbusters like Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Terminator: Dark Fate, and it looks like they are getting into game development.

Hennig’s last big project was cancelled by EA

Before joining Skydance, Hennig was creative director for a Star Wars game for EA at Visceral Games and she also has a writing credit on Battlefield Hardline. EA killed that Star Wars project in 2017, and reassigned the Star Wars project to another studio. Hennig left EA last year to form an independent consultancy and virtual reality studio.

Her new studio will be based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the goal is to make games that appeal as broadly as big Hollywood movies – which presumably means Skydance is willing to spend big Hollywood movie money as well.

Skydance Interactive has already released the VR game Archangel, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see much of Hennig’s project – which will presumably be of the story-driven, cinematic sort she is famous for – for another couple of years.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which House was invented by Westwood for iconic RTS Dune II?

  • House Harkonnen
  • House Atreides
  • House Ordos
  • House Corrino

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

Kerbal Space Program breaking new ground on consoles

Kerbal Space Program expansion pack Breaking Ground will launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on December 5th. The expansions have been slightly updated for the console release, including new robotic parts for building new and more glorious space contraptions.

Landscapes have also been overhauled to include more surface features for players to discover and explore, such as craters and rock formations. The expansion will cost $14.99 and there’s a new trailer available now.

Ghostrunner’s team gets even stronger

All In Games, Slipgate Ironworks and 3D Realms have announced a grand partnership to develop and publish a new first-person cyberpunk adventure game. Developed by One More Level, Ghostrunner is scheduled to launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next year and will be on show at 3D Realms’ PAX South 2020 booth.

3D Realms and All In Games appear to support both development and publishing services, while One More Level and Slipgate Ironworks will collaborate on development. If first-person cyberpunk adventure sounds like your kind of thing, you should check out the reveal trailer right now.

Daily Fact

The Half-Life series has depicted at least three different alien invasions

Valve is just about to reveal their brand-new Half Life game, the first new entry in the series – not counting Portal – since 2007. While there are slightly worrying rumours that the game is a VR exlcusive, at least there’s no way the game can be as messed up as the Half-Life universe itself is after no less than three separate, consecutive alien invasions.

The first one happens at the start of Half-Life, when Black Mesa scientists tear open a portal to another dimension and allows the bizarre forces of Xen to swarm onto our beautiful blue marble. Then the Opposing Force expansion shows how a second invasion by the mysterious Race X starts right after the first one!

Then, of course, there’s the Combine from Half-Life 2 who also found their way to Earth thanks to the Xen invasion – but did a far better job than the previous two invaders, conquering the planet in less than seven hours.

Since then, Gordon Freeman, Alyx Vance and the rest of the gang has been busy trying to chase off the Combine – before leaving us with a cliffhanger twelve years ago. Will Half-Life: Alyx finally finish the story and chase off all the invaders? Let us hope!

Daily News

CS:GO gets a new Operation

Two and a half years after Operation Hydra, Valve has finally announced a new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive operation. Operation Shattered Web introduces a range of new agents, four new knife skins, three new collections and more.

Flying Scoutsman returns on a map called Lunacy, while the community-made map Jungle will be included in the Danger Zone mode. The Studio map will be available in both the Casual Sigma group and in the Scrimmage pool.

CS:GO gets its first female Special Agent

The operation also features some balance changes that will upend the current meta. The community has begged Valve to deal wit the SG553, and they finally have – by raising the price of the Krieg from $2750 to $3000.

The FAMAS and Galil both had their price lowered by $200 (to $2050 and $1800 respectively), while also increasing both guns’ accuracy in fully automatic mode. The new low prices means players can afford the rifles by the second round of a match.

Valve also announced that Operation Shattered Web will last for over sixteen weeks, and that a new set of missions will be unlocked each week for its duration. You can still play all the missions from the Operation without buying it, but you will not receive any of the rewards.

New Dune game will reuse some elements from Conan Exiles

Funcom has finally shared more details about its upcoming Dune game. Funcom announced an exclusive gaming partnership with Legendary Entertainment back in February, and the development of a line of videogames based on Frank Herbert’s Dune.

The six-year deal covers the development of at least three games for PC and consoles, and one of them is confirmed to be an open-world multiplayer game.

The first game – which is currently in pre-production – will be an open-world survival game, following in the footsteps of Conan Exiles. Funcom says it will be built on the foundations of Conan Exiles, but – surprise, surprise – bigger and better. According to Funcom, code, design and even art from Conan Exiles will be repurposed and reused in the new game.

Did you know there’s a Dune movie coming in 2020?

Nothing else has been revealed so far, so all we really know is that the game will be heavily based on Conan Exiles, but in a science-fiction setting on a desert planet. Since there’s a Dune movie coming out next year, we’ll probably see more from Funcom’s Dune games before it hits theaters.

News Bits

Google Stadia Review Roundup

Google’s game streaming service Stadia has finally been launched, and things don’t look particularly good at the moment. A number of key features are still missing, and it looks like Google will need a bit more time before they can deliver on the promises made during their big reveal earlier this year. Here’s what the press has to say:

Wired (Score 6/10) – “Taken as a whole, Stadia’s strength lies in its versatility, and that’s never more apparent than when you’re playing a game on a laptop without a graphics card. There’s something delightfully subversive about firing up Destiny 2 on the kind of Chromebook they hand out to high school kids..”

The Verge (Score 5/10) – “There’s no reason anyone should buy into Stadia right now. Google has made sure of that, partly by underdelivering at launch and partly with a pricing scheme that sees you paying three times (for hardware, for the service, for games) just to be an early adopter.”

The Guardian (Score 3/5) – “The Stadia nailed the impossible, and then failed the possible. The single most important challenge facing Google – getting video game streaming on a par with local play – has been passed with flying colours.”

ARS Technica (Unscored) – “Early adopters feel like they’re getting a beta product here. Wait until next year to see if Google can work out the kinks and proves the service’s longevity.”

Valve announces Half-Life: Alyx

After twelve long years, Valve has finally announced a brand-new Half-Life game. There’s still no information apart from a single tweet announcing Half-Life: Alyx, but more information will be revealed on Thursday.

Rumours say Half-Life: Alyx is a VR exclusive, but nothing is certain and Valve has a tendency to subvert expectations. Follow Valve’s brand new Twitter account to stay on top of announcements.

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Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which House was invented by Westwood for iconic RTS Dune II?

Answer: House Ordos!

Next year looks like it’s going to bring Dune back into the big time, so what better time to reminisce about Westwood’s revolutionary RTS classic Dune II: Battle for Arrakis? It was essentially the first modern real-time strategy game, and laid the foundations for the Command & Conquer series.

While the Dune books focused on the exploits of House Atreides and Harkonnen, Westwood needed more variation, and invented a third faction: House Ordos.

While House Ordos was mentioned briefly in the non-canon Dune Encyclopedia from 1984, everything else is Westwood’s own creation: The highly technological House Ordos is from the ice planet Draconis IV, and is led by the Executrix – four beings sharing the same mind. Since they’re never mentioned in any of the books, it’s very unlikely we’ll ever see them again. A bit of a shame!

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