PlayStation’s Robot Companion, Buddy up In Pokemon

TODAY: Star Wars was this close to having the edgiest villain names — Dataminers dig up hints about Apex Legends Season 5 — Need an excuse to grab a VR headset? HTC has a real bargain for you

PlayStation's Compassionate AI

You’ll never game along again – ever

Need a friend? Sony has patented an idea for a companion robot that can watch you play videogames and simulate empathy, thus helping motivate you through those long, hard, lonely evenings of pro-gaming.

Of course, companies file thousands of rather odd patents that never go anywhere, and this isn’t the first wacky Sony patent to get filed and never seen again, but at least it results in some funny schematics. This patent includes a diagram with a ‘fluffy’ companion sitting next to the user ‘watching TV’.

Sharing is caring: “… it is expected that the user’s affinity with the robot is increased and motivation for playing a game is enhanced by the robot viewing the gameplay next to the user and being pleased or sad together with the user.” Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have all made forays into biometric feedback, with the aim of measuring the player’s mood and using the readings to influence the game experience.

Finger tracking VR: Sony has filed some more promising patents too, most notably a new method of finger tracking for use in virtual reality. The patent – WO2020031271 – Controller Device – was filed in August 2019, and might have something to do with the next generation of PlayStation VR.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Who used to publish Mount & Blade?

  • Bohemia Interactive
  • Paradox Interactive
  • Deep Silver
  • THQ Nordic

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today’s issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

Daily Fact

Darth Vader’s star pupil was a killer

Lucasarts’ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed took Star Wars creator George Lucas’ vision for the Skywalker family pretty seriously. The game puts you in charge of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice Starkiller, who’s all about hunting Jedi and unleashing the force.

Of course, his parents didn’t name him Starkiller (his real name Galen Marek has a slightly less threatening aura) – but was the original name of Anakin Skywalker. That’s right, everyone’s favorite pod racer turned heartbreaker was named Annikin Starkiller in the first draft of A New Hope.

BioWare paid homage to the less family-friendly name of the Jedi clan with an Arena champion named Bendak Starkiller on the planet Taris in Knights of the Old Republic.

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today’s fact.

Apex Legends Season 5

Apex Legends Season 5 keycard hints

Dataminers have trained their pickaxes on the latest Apex Legends updates, and have exhumed an in-game keycard.

They found it in Dome on World’s Edge, and activating it produces references to Singh Labs – the King’s Canyon facility that Wraith escaped from in the Voidwalker backstory. The keycard also features the ARES Division logo, which Titanfall fans may remember as a weapons research and development company.

More keycards: Apex Legends dataminer Shrugtal believes this is just the start and expects another keycard to turn up somewhere in the game world around April 19th. There seems to be three keycards in all, and finding them all is certain to yield some kind of reward.

Most likely Loba: Wolf-themed weapons have been discovered, suggesting that the character Loba will be added in Season 5. Loba is Portuguese for Wolf, and Shrugtal came across an asset depicting her as an adult.

VR Bits

Blade and Sorcery UI overhaul coming

WarpFrog has unveiled Blade and Sorcery’s new and overhauled UI, which will be included in next month’s update. The most obvious change is that the menus are now in full 3D rather than being 2D renders, as well as a focus bar that allows players to slow down time instead of spending mana. The update was originally scheduled for release this month, but has now been delayed until the end of May. Check out the new UI in this video.

Viveport Infinity subscription on sale

HTC’s VR game subscription service Viveport Infinity is on sale right now, down from $107 to $27 for a whole year. There is literally no cheaper way to enjoy VR games, and a pretty good excuse to buy a VR headset. The subscription features hundreds of titles, including Creed: Rise to Glory, Tilt Brush and Five Nights at Freddy’s. The sale lasts until April 19th, so sign up now!

Pixel Ripped 1995 gets a release date

If you’re in the mood for a nostalgia trip, Pixel Ripped 1995 is your ticket to ride. You play a 9-year-old boy destined to save the world – by playing videogames. Pixel Ripped 1995 features six different games straddling the 16 and 32-bit eras and spread across locations like the video rental store and the arcade at the amusement pier. All major VR headsets are supported, and a PSVR version will be announced later. Watch the trailer and get ready to rip some pixels on April 23rd.

Pokemon News and Events

Get ready to Buddy Up in Pokémon Go

The Buddy Up event is starting next Tuesday in Pokémon Go, while the Community Day has been rescheduled for next Weekend. There’s a new Wild Area event for Pokémon Sword & Shield, and the next English-language episode Pokémon Twilight Wings episode airs on April 21st.

Pokémon Go

  • Safari Zone event is available for Safari Zone Liverpool ticket holders
  • Buddy Up
    • Lasts from April 21st until April 27th
    • Volbeat and Illumise with Shiny variants appear globally
    • Alolan Meowth, Chansey, Eevee, Feebas, Lillipup, Joltik and Woobat appear in Wild
    • Alolan Meowth, Eevee, Feebas, Lillipup, and Joltik hatch from 5km eggs
    • Field Research for Alolan Meowth, Volbeat, Illumise and Woobat
    • Buddy Candy and Hearts distance halved
  • Community Day
    • Takes place on April 25th between 11:00 and 17:00 local
    • Abra spawns increased, evolve Alakazam to learn Counter move
    • Investigating Illusions Special Research ties into event
    • Incense lasts 3 hours during event
    • Great Buddy or higher Pokémon will bring helpful items
    • Community Day Box available for 1,280 Coins
    • GO Snapshot surprise during event
  • Item Storage capacity increased to 3,000 via upgrades
  • New update is being rolled out

Pokémon Masters

  • Select Egg for Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle and create new Sync-Pair
  • Scyther, Meowth and Tauros eggs coming soon
  • Next Legendary event focuses on Ho-Oh, adds new Prize Box item
  • Apply a Reward Boost Ticket once per day to boost rewards
  • New items that power up a 5 Star Strike Sync Pair
  • Sync Orb Chance removed from solo and co-op battles
  • Co-Op Sync Orbs drop more often as super course rewards
  • Legendary Arena details coming before mid-May

Pokémon Sword & Shield

  • Wild Area Event changes
    • Ditto and baby Pokémon leave boosted raids
    • Charizard, Duraludon, Garbodor and Copperajah remain

Pokémon Twilight Wings

  • Fourth episode is available in Japanese
  • English translation airs on Tuesday, April 21st

What Else Happened Today?

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Who used to publish Mount & Blade?

Answer: Paradox Interactive!

TalesWorlds Entertainment haven’t gotten where they are today all by themselves: The first Mount & Blade games were published by Paradox Interactive, who put out retail versions of Mount & Blade, Warband and With Fire and Sword. Paradox already had an audience interested in exactly this kind of game, and arguably allowed TaleWorlds to find just the right fans.

However, Paradox Interactive’s license elapsed in 2014, and they have not been involved in Bannerlord. Paradox is doing perfectly fine without Mount & Blade, but they probably wished they’d managed to land some kind of deal after seeing the splash Bannerlord made on Early Access in March. Fortunately, TalesWorlds looks like they’re perfectly capable of handling the success on their own.

Today’s issue of DailyBits was written by Gavin Herman, Erlend Grefsrud, Christian Vaz, Simon Priest and Jamie Davey.