Reported 4K Switch Price and DLSS, Pikmin AR Game

Today: Grow your own mutant monsters in Monster Harvest — We talk to Lucia de Visser of We Were Here developer Total Mayhem Games — Win a copy of cyberpunk point-and-clicker Beyond a Steel Sky

Microsoft is scrubbing away Xbox Live

Microsoft is another small step closer to retiring the Xbox Live brand: The latest dashboard update replaces references to Xbox Live with “the Xbox network”.

The sun begins to set on Xbox Live

Users first noticed the change when using the Xbox capture app, which no longer mentions Xbox Live. It's yet another sign that Microsoft is concentrating completely on Xbox Game Pass – and maybe they will make their multiplayer service free at last?

Take a hike: It's not been long since Xbox Live subscribers grabbed their torches and pitchforks after Microsoft tried to hike the Xbox Live Gold membership price in an effort to goad users over to Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft immediately changed their minds.

Live and let live: Xbox figurehead Larry Hryb also changed his gamer tag from ‘Xbox Live’s Major Nelson’ to just ‘Xbox’s Major Nelson’. Microsoft, of course, vehemently denies that Xbox Live is going away.

Which advertising agency was behind the All I Want for Xmas is a PSP website?

a) Zipatoni
b) COPILOT Music and Sound
c) Valpak
d) Accenture Interactive

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.

Tennis tracks thanks to terror

Sega’s Virtua Tennis 3 features a bunch of remixed instrumental versions of music originally composed for the Dreamcast game Propeller Arena, which never made it to the market.

Virtua Tennis 3’s odd connection to the 9/11 attacks

The tracks originally had lyrics, but were reduced to instrumental form for the ball-whacking extravaganza. Propeller Arena wasn't just a victim of Sega's declining faith in their own platform – it was a casualty of 9/11: Propeller Arena was scheduled to launch on September 19th, 2001.

Join our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today's fact.

Blissful Bonanza in Pokémon Masters EX

Get your bliss on in the Pokémon Masters EX event Blissful Bonanza, available once a day until early April.

Check the Battle Stadium to collect your rewards

Rankings from the recent Pokémon Sword & Shield Spikemuth Cup Online Challenge are now available. Navigate to VS and into the Battle Stadium mode where you can check previous competitions – and claim gifts.

Pokémon Masters EX

  • Blissful Bonanza event
    • Running now until April 2
    • Can be played once per day to claim tickets
  • Spotlight Scout for Sync Pairs of Hilbert & Oshawott and Caitlin & Reuniclus

Pokémon Sword & Shield

  • Spikemuth Cup Online Competition
    • Rankings now live with rewards redeemable

Unleash your inner planimal

Love farming? Love hunting? Boy oh boy do we have good news: Indie studio Maple Powered Games is launching Monster Harvest on PC and consoles this spring.

Plant, grow and mutate crops into Planimals for battle

Collect so-called planimal companions, tend to your crops and do your darndest to save Planimal Point from the evil SlimeCo.

Mutant crops: Plant, grow, harvest and mutate crops to get more planimals that you can bring into battle. You can subject your loyal mutated crops to 72 different mutations over the course of your adventure.

3D but flat: The announcement trailer shows off the neat hybrid 3D pixel art style and announces that Monster Harvest will be out for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch in early June.

We Were Here Forever Devs on the Impact of COVID and Being Inspired by Streamers

The We Were Here series has always been experimental, and the fourth entry shows no signs of settling into a comfortable rut. Developer Total Mayhem Games is fashioning new ways for people to play together even though they are confined to their homes.

We talked to Managing director and co-founder Lucia de Visser about the new game, development during the COVID-19 pandemic and being inspired by streamers.

DailyBits: The We Were Here series has continued to change things up with each release; what new features are you most excited for in Forever?

Lucia de Visser: Yes, we have quite some sweet stuff up our sleeves! There’s a large leap in visual scope. The game is developed for 4K screens and has a more refined cooperative gameplay, it’s a big step-up for the We Were Here series.

We are really dedicated to give console players the experience they expect in terms of performance, resolution and of course overall visual fidelity. It’s a bit too early to go in specific detail, but rest assured both PC and consoles have our full focus during development.

The game does take place in the same world, it is a sequel to the preceding series and tells a lot more about what has happened in the castle. The story unravels and a lot of events from the previous games will make more sense. For example, what happened to the explorers who got left behind…

Lucia de Visser, Managing Director and studio Co-founder

DailyBits: Co-op games have taken on greater prominence in the last year due to the pandemic. Has the situation impacted your goals or how you want players to feel?

Lucia de Visser: Especially in these times of social distancing, people want to find ways to come in contact with friends and loved ones, and playing games is a really fun way to relax together (without the obligatory small talk, so win-win!).

The We Were Here-series has always had this mindset, but during the pandemic we (as developers) sometimes got more isolated from friends, relatives and colleagues ourselves than ever before. Although this has been a challenge at some points, it also helped to bring us even closer to the core-mechanic of what people love about this series.

So did we really change our goals for the game? No. Did it give us a better focus on how we want people to connect with each other while playing the game? Certainly! With every area, every puzzle, every element we create, in the development team we talk about how players will react and what their discussion will be about during the game.

DailyBits: From a logistics standpoint how has the pandemic altered the game development process? Are there any features you weren’t able to include because of it?

Lucia de Visser: The lockdown has taken some toll, yes. After months of working in lockdown, with 90+% of our team working from home, we have noticed a lot of shifts in the studio.

We had to look at a whole new way of communicating with each other and keeping track of all the work done and what had to be done. Apart from that, some team members live home alone, so they had to encounter another obstacle: isolation. We have been working really hard to keep everyone in a (mentally) healthy condition, and luckily none of our team members became ill. After months the spirits are still up, even though we encountered some big setbacks.

But despite every setback we have encountered, we now have a far better process of working together and better focus on how we would like to produce games. So in a way it has really helped us to improve the workflow of the studio.

DailyBits: How has the response been since the announcement trailer went live on March 10th? Does the audience reaction add to stress or is it exciting to see the reaction?

Lucia de Visser: Amazingly positive! We were hoping people would notice that the quality of the game improved, but these responses are just blowing our minds! We can’t wait to show new gameplay footage when ready.

We notice that people really like the asymmetrical aspect of our games, the fact that both players contribute in their own way and that often you can’t see what the other one is doing or means and fully have to rely on the conversation you have. And the other thing is that our puzzles are really challenging, but also very satisfying once you have figured a way to overcome them together with your partner.

It’s because of this feedback and enthusiasm from players our design team gets the inspiration to come up with new ways to do the things you love. Some of the new challenges you face in We Were Here Forever were literally inspired by watching streams of players playing our games.

As people may expect from us, we always try something new in every installment of the series and we simply can’t wait to see how players will react!

We Were Here Forever is due to be released Q4 2021

DailyBits: What games and other media have you and the team engaged with while working on the latest title?

Lucia de Visser: Especially during the pandemic, our team is looking for ways to get inspired that do not involve outdoor experiences, so turning to other games and media is the logical response.

Our original concept is a mix of the games ‘Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes’, ‘Portal 2’, ‘Myst’, and ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’. We’re always keeping our eyes open for new influences, without leaving our core mechanics and stylized looks.

That being said, some new puzzles are sometimes inspired by movies we’ve watched or exciting moments we have experienced with other types of media and then we try to find the essence of what inspired us and translate it back into the game.

DailyBits: Do you envision more games in the series after Forever releases? Has there been any thought as to what Total Mayhem Games’ output will look like beyond the We Were Here series?

Lucia de Visser: We’re not able to go in detail about this, but our players keep asking for more content. We love developing the We Were Here series, but that doesn’t mean our next project will be a We Were Here game. We can confirm that if we’re developing a new game, it would be a co-op experience or multiplayer game. We noticed it’s an itch we love to scratch and over time it became our strongest unique selling point.

DailyBits: What would you say to players who have never tried the series before? Why is this a good time to jump on board?

Lucia de Visser: Now the fourth game of the series is announced, this would be the perfect time to play We Were Here, We Were Here Too and We Were Here Together. We do think Forever will be very accessible for players new to the game, if you would solely play that title.

Of course, we think about the fans and people that have played the previous titles and we know they have questions about Castle Rock and whatever goes on back there. For the trained eye, there will be a lot of references to earlier titles / events spread throughout the game.

We do recommend to play at least We Were Here Together before playing ‘Forever’, but we made sure that even if you didn’t, the game will still give a full experience.

Grab a snack, a drink, a friend, and let yourself soak into the co-op adventure we have to offer! What’s the worst that could happen???

Big thanks to Lucia for taking the time to answer our questions! We Were Here Forever will be out in late 2021 on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

Beyond a Steel Sky PC giveaway

Get ready for some point-and-click cyberpunk from masters of the craft Revolution Software in Beyond a Steel Sky, the long-awaited sequel to 1994 classic Beneath a Steel Sky, and it will also be coming to Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch later on this year

Beyond a Steel Sky uses 3D cel-shaded graphics

We have 5 Steam codes to give out this week, and all you need to do is check out our Beyond a Steel Sky page on Gleam. Winners will be revealed on Monday, good luck!

Which advertising agency was behind the All I Want for Xmas is a PSP website?

ANSWER: Zipatoni!

How do you do, fellow kids?

The year is 2006. Sony is doing their best to challenge Nintendo’s complete hegemony over the handheld console market. Their secret weapon? The advertising agency Zipatoni and their website All I Want for Xmas is a PSP.

The website was supposedly made by two kids named Charlie and Jeremy in an effort to persuade Jeremy’s parents to buy a PSP. Filled with spelling errors and early internet slang, All I Want for Xmas is a PSP is a veritable fountain of cringe and a stellar example of what happens when a room full of coke hoovers try to get in touch with their inner child.

Unsurprisingly, the site was quickly unmasked as a tragic failure of astroturfing, and Sony responded by taking the site down in shame. So next time you mess up, remember that at least you didn’t mess up like the PSP marketing campaign.

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