#172: Rod Fergusson leaves behind Gears of War for Diablo

TODAY: Microsoft is done competing with Sony and Nintendo — Team Ninja is getting ready to cook up some tasty new Ninja Gaiden — Warner Bros appears to be rebooting the Arkham series

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Rod Fergusson to oversee Diablo IV

Gears of War veteran Rod Fergusson has left The Coalition and Xbox Game Studios to join the Diablo IV team at Blizzard Entertainment.

Fergusson has worked on a bunch of games, including Counter-Strike, Gears of War, Unreal Tournament 3, Fat Princess, Lost Planet 2, Bioshock Infinite and Gears 5.

Fergusson served as head of The Coalition, who took over development of the Gears of War series after Microsoft purchased the IP from Epic Games.

Xbox’s Matt Booty say they “wish him well as he moves on”

He will now oversee the production of Diablo IV, which was announced with great fanfare late last year at BlizzCon. The team is also working on Diablo Immortal for mobile, famously announced to somewhat tepid response in 2018.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

What genre were the Wolfenstein games before id made Wolfenstein 3D?

  • Stealth-Based Action
  • Brawler
  • Point and Click Adventure
  • First Person Puzzler

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.

News Bits

Pokémon Day is coming, so vote for your favorite pocket monster today

What better way to celebrate Pokémon Day on February 27th than by organizing your fellow fans and making sure your favorite Pokémon wins this poll? The poll includes all the 890 Pokémon introduced since the series’ beginning, and votes are open until February 14th.

Sony VR studio closed before getting a chance to announce its first game

Sony Manchester Studio – which was formed in 2015 to focus on VR and had one unannounced project under development – has been shut down. It’s just the latest in a long line of UK studios Sony has shuttered in the last decade: Studio Liverpool, Guerilla Cambridge, Bigbig Studios and Evolution Studios all received short thrift from Sony.

Daily Fact

Every episode of Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space was named after a film

Telltale’s 2007 episodic point-and-click series Sam & Max Beyond Time And Space helped popularize the episodic format that came to define Telltale’s output for the next decade, until the studio’s untimely demise in 2018.

Every episode in the series was named after a movie, and tended to be built around pop culture references:

  • Ice Station Santa
  • Moai Better Blues
  • Night of the Raving Dead
  • Chariots of the Dogs
  • What’s New Beelzebub?

They are riffs on:

  • Ice Station Zebra
  • Mo’ Better Blues
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Chariots of the Gods
  • Whats New, Pussycat?

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

Daily News

Phil Spencer says Xbox is competing against Amazon and Google now

While it will take a while for the console wars between Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony to fade from the public consciousness, times are changing – and Xbox boss Phil Spencer now considers Amazon and Google to be Microsoft’s real competitors in the videogame space.

Google and Amazon are both building cloud-based game platforms, while neither Nintendo nor Sony seem to be giving the idea much attention. Nvidia is also trying to grab a slice of the cloud pie with their GeForce Now service.

Google Stadia’s launch has been mired with issues, and unhappy subscribers

“…we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors going forward,” said Phil Spencer, referring to Nintendo and Sony. “…traditional gaming companies are somewhat out of position. I guess they could try to re-create Azure, but we’ve invested tens of billions of dollars in cloud over the years.”

Microsoft’s new ambition is to dominate the cloud gaming market, and Spencer says they are done fighting a format war with Nintendo and Sony.

Microsoft will start thinking big like Amazon and Google, who focus on building the infrastructure and figuring out “how to get gaming to 7 billion people around the world.”

Starving for some ninja action?

Yes, Team Ninja is perfectly aware that you are all hungry for more Ninja Gaiden. In fact, they’re counting on you being positively ravenous.

Team Ninja is getting ready to cook up some spicy ninja action themselves after seeing other ninja games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice do brisk business. According to Nioh 2 director Fumihiko Yasuda, his team is made up of Ninja Gaiden veterans – and they are feeling peckish too.

Some fans wanted Ninja Gaiden more than Nioh 2

“The core members of the team that worked on Ninja Gaiden want to make a new game,” said Yasuda “…we see a lot of good inspirations in those games, so we hope to deliver some good news one day.”

The last Ninja Gaiden game was the spin-off Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z from 2014, but the last entry in the mainline series was Ninja Gaiden 3 from 2012.

VR Bits

Oculus Quest activates hand-tracking when you put down controllers

The latest Oculus software update adds a nice convenience for Quest: Whenever you put down your Touch controllers, hand-tracking is automatically enabled instead of forcing you to toggle it on from a menu.

Hand-tracking is still considered an experimental feature, so you’ll need to enable it in the Quest’s settings panel first. Waltz of the Wizard developer Aldin Dynamics has put together a video showing how they use hand-tracking, and as you can tell it really adds another level of immersion to the VR experience.

The hand-tracking feature is not available in Waltz of the Wizard just yet, but the developers has promised it is on its way. The hand-tracking API is still in its early days, so don’t be too surprised if the experience is a little less smooth than the video implies.

Walking Dead become Crouching Dead

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners launched two weeks ago, and it didn’t take players long to complain about the lack of crouching. Developer Skydance Interactive responded quickly with a beta update that added basic crouching, and now the crouch mechanic is not just polished but active by default.

The latest patch also includes a voice recording feature that allows you to use the headset microphone to make zombies hear your voice. Useful if you want to attract their attention, less useful if you don’t want them to hear your breathing as you hide away. Check out the patch notes to see what else the developers are doing to improve The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners.

Horror Week Bigscreen update

Bigscreen is having a launch party for their first cinema special on Friday at 5pm PST. Horror Week kicks off with a screening of The Ring, accompanied by a spooky new lobby. You can watch the launch party live on Twitch or YouTube, which includes a bit of behind-the-scenes footage, previews and members of the Bigscreen team talking about what’s next.

Message from Today's Sponsor

Iconoclasts Xbox Launch Contest – Win the New Xbox Series X!

The 23rd January, 2020 marked the Two Year Anniversary of Iconoclasts! Since launching, Iconoclasts has garnered much praise, including an 85%+ score on Metacritic, and we now look forward to introducing the game to new players on the Xbox One.

To celebrate the release of Iconoclasts on Xbox One we are giving away the new Xbox Series X plus three launch titles to one lucky gamer. To enter all you have to do is to complete at least one of the actions on Gleam. The more entry points you earn the higher your chance of winning.

– Bifrost Entertainment

News Bits

Tasty new games coming to Xbox Game Pass in February

Microsoft thinks February is a “really, really good month” for Xbox Game Pass: Final Fantasy XV is being added today, and Wolfeinstein: Youngblood as well as Death Squared will be added on february 13th. Some games are getting pulled from the service too, including Epic Mickey 2, Rage and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

WB Games is rebooting Arkham

The new Batman game from WB Games Montreal will apparently be a soft reboot of the Arkham series created by Rocksteady Studios. Abandoning the existing universe is a bit of a gamble, but is probably a good idea if Warner Bros wants to tie the game into the DC Cinematic Universe. There is apparently also a Superman game under development at WB Games.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

What genre were the Wolfenstein games before id made Wolfenstein 3D?

Answer: Stealth-Based Action!

The Wolfenstein series didn’t start out as a first-person shooter, but a stealth game for Apple II computers in the early 80s.

Castle Wolfenstein challenged players to stay undetected while searching for Nazi war plans in the titular stronghold. While going in guns blazing was always an option, limited ammo and guards with a keen sense of hearing discouraged it in favor of subterfuge like disguising yourself.

In the sequel Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, your mission was to assassinate Hitler by planting a bomb and the game featured a variety of new mechanics such as stealth kills. id Software purchased the rights to the series in the early 90s, and turned it into the successful first-person shooter series we know and love today.

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