#5: Shenmue Fury, And Luigi Casanova

It’s been a fantastic first week for DailyBits, and we want to thank you for all the amazing feedback that you’ve sent in to us.

Today we’re looking at the important issue of development ‘crunch’, and why work-life should be balanced out. We find out why Pokémon fans have had a real kick in the Pokédex, and also help you become a dab hand at Rage 2, so you can show-off to all your friends.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which of these games was NOT announced at E3 2019?

  • Blair Witch
  • Watch_Dogs Legion
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo
  • Contra: Rogue Corps

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

News Bits

DOTA Underlords now on Steam for Battle Pass owners

Yet another mod turns pro! Auto Chess – a modern re-imagining of a game so old it feels silly to call it a classic – will see an official standalone release featuring DOTA heroes called DOTA Underlords.

Right now DOTA 2 Battle Pass owners can enjoy the preview version, before it eventually goes into a wider open beta that’s free for all on Steam. Checkmate.

Fans buy billboard (and beer) to say “Thank you Hello Games”

A GoFundMe campaign has allowed grateful fans to buy a billboard spot outside the Hello Games office in the UK for a big ‘Thank you Hello Games’ from the community.

The indie studio came under intense scrutiny after their rather ambitious game No Man’s Sky failed to live up to the ever-so-slightly exaggerated hype, but Hello Games kept working hard to build new features and content to meet fan expectations. The ‘ad’ will go up August 12.

Daily Fact

Thank Pizza for Pac-Man

Those waka-waka days are courtesy of a pizza. Toru Iwatani got the idea for Pac-Man, which was originally called ‘Puck Man’ in Japan, because he took a slice of pizza and the shape left behind gave him the inspiration. Presumably he was also tired of eating pills while being chased by ghosts through a dark maze.

Interestingly he designed Pac-Man on purpose to attract women to play it. Most other games featured violent themes and aimed squarely for a male audience, but Pac-Man’s cute design was supposed to make it an ideal couple’s game at arcades and perfect for dates.

The original Pac-Man arcade game never had a proper ending, but did feature what became known as a ‘kill screen’ when reaching level 256. An integer overflow would cause the game to simply freak out and garble the right side of the screen, making it impossible to clear the stage and progress to the next level.

Today you can play Pac-Man for free just by typing Pac-Man into Google, and you’ll get a special PAC-MAN Doodle version of the beloved classic, with Google spelled out across the much wider maze.

Quote of the Week

Nintendo Comments On Employees’ Work-Life Balance And ‘Crunch’

A hot topic in game development discourse these days is ‘crunch’, a euphemism for developers working themselves half to death in a final push to finish a game. Crunch typically manifests as huge amounts of overtime, and developers are often expected to work late and during weekends.

While this phenomenon is hardly news (older readers may remember the ‘ea_spouse’ controversy of 2004) and has always been common throughout the industry, it has gained visibility after significant numbers of workers at large game development studios has revealed how crunch affects their personal health and well-being.

In an interview with IGN this week, Nintendo of America President, Doug Bowser, commented on crunch and the delay of the new Animal Crossing installment.

“The crunch point is an interesting one,”…“For us, one of our key tenets is that we bring smiles to people’s faces, and we talk about that all the time. It’s our vision. Or our mission, I should say. For us, that applies to our own employees. We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance.” “One of those examples is, we will not bring a game to market before it’s ready. We just talked about one example [in Animal Crossing’s delay]. It’s really important that we have that balance in our world. It’s actually something we’re proud of.”

Seems like Nintendo is less crunchy than the rest of the business! Animal Crossing: New Horizons is now scheduled to release on March 20th 2020, a little later than the original 2019 launch date. In this week’s Nintendo Direct, Nintendo’s Deputy General Manager, Yoshiaki Koizumi, stated that the title had been delayed “to ensure the game is the best it can be.”. This perfectly demonstrates Nintendo’s dedication to ensuring quality without working its staff into the ground in the process.

No-one likes to hear that an anticipated title has been delayed, but the majority of the gaming community has responded positively to Nintendo’s comments on crunch and the subsequent Animal Crossing delay. Many fans agree about the importance of staff being treated fairly and have called for more developers to ease up on the crunch.

In addition to wanting a healthy work-life balance for the dev team, many have expressed that they’d rather wait a bit than be let down by rushed games — a particular concern for Pokémon fans following an announcement that the upcoming Pokémon Sword & Shield will feature only Pokémon native to the new Galar region.

We hope to see more open and transparent conversation about crunch in the future. The last few years have revealed a lot more about what goes on behind the scenes at major game developers, including the often shocking work conditions faced by development teams. A better work-life balance can only be a good thing — after all, a happy and healthy development team will most likely make better games!

Daily News

Pokémon Sword and Shield upsets fans – a real kick in the Pokédex

While the new Pokémon Sword and Shield certainly brings fancy new features, there’s one particular change that Trainers aren’t so thrilled about: A major pruning of the Pokédex, the compendium of all the Pokémon you can catch in a game.

Sword and Shield replaces the usual nation-wide Pokédex with a more limited regional one. That puts paid to an idea as old as the series itself, namely importing your Pokédex from other games in the series to complete your collection.

Producer Junichi Masuda explains that the development team could only handle the new Pokémon in the Galar region because of all-new, high-fidelity graphics with more and better animations. Over time, the Pokémon bestiary has grown to include over 800 species, and they would all need new art and animation to sit comfortably alongside the new Galar species.

‘Gotta catch some of ’em’

“…now that they’re on the Nintendo Switch, we’re creating it with much higher fidelity with higher quality animations. But even more than that, it’s coming down to the battle system. We’re making sure we can keep everything balanced and give all the Pokemon that appear in the games a chance to shine,” Producer Junichi Masuda told USGamer.

“We knew at some point we weren’t going to be able to indefinitely keep supporting all of the Pokemon,” he continued. And so the Pokédex shrunk! Sword & Shield will still feature a collection of classic, fan-favorite Pokémon – just not all of them!

Pokémon Sword and Shield release for Nintendo Switch on November 15, 2019.

Shenmue 3 exclusivity fallout continues, Ys Net will “assess” situation

There is big backer trouble in little Ys Net with the announcement that the PC version of Shenmue 3 will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store. A considerable number of Kickstarter backers are demanding refunds, since they were expecting a Steam release at launch.

Ys Net made it clear they would not honour requests for refunds, prompting a crisis of trust among fans. As the backlash grows, they might come to reconsider that stance, with latest word being that Ys will be ‘assessing the situation’ once they are back from E3.

Deep Silver in Epic trouble, fans not Shenmused

“We want to make sure that the Backers are aware that we are listening to their concerns. We kindly ask all our fans to have some patience, we are currently at E3 demoing the game and need to get back to our respective offices to assess the situation and together find a way forward to justify the trust you placed in us,” Ys Net told Kickstarter backers.

Shenmue 3’s successful Kickstarter campaign raised over $6.3 million from almost 70,000 backers. Without that kind of fan support there probably wouldn’t be any Shenmue 3, no Deep Silver publishing deal and certainly no Epic Game Store exclusivity deal.

Shenmue 3 is scheduled to release on PC and PlayStation 4 on August 27, 2019.

Phantasy Star Online 2 will “end up on all platforms”

Microsoft really wanted SEGA ‘back on their stage’ this E3, and bagging Phantasy Star Online 2 as a PC and Xbox One exclusive seems to have accomplished just that.

Phil Spencer himself admitted that the game will arrive on ‘other platforms’ eventually, so it’s just a timed exclusive for North America. Right now there are no explicit plans to launch in Europe, or other territories. Phantasy Star Online 2 has been available in Japan since July 2012.

All your exclusivity are belong to us

It arrived first on PC in Japan, before appearing on PS Vita in February 2013, and eventually PS4 in April 2016. It was also ported to iOS and Android in April and May 2014, and finally founds its way to Nintendo Switch in April 2018 – but never crossed any oceans until now.

“Yes, it will end up on all platforms,” Phil Spencer told Giant Bombcast. “The point was to have SEGA on our stage since it’s been a while.”

That probably means there will be a PlayStation 4 release in North America, and probably Switch as well, but that old workhorse PS Vita is less likely to feel the love. We will just have to wait and see if a European release is on the cards.

Under the Radar - Stranger Things 3: The Game

Fancy spending the summer in Hawkins?

With the third season of Stranger Things dropping on Netflix in less than three weeks, fans will likely be gearing up to binge all eight episodes as quickly as possible. Thankfully the hype doesn’t have to die as soon as you’ve finished watching this season as BonusXP and Netflix will be simultaneously releasing Stranger Things 3: The Game (July 4th 2019).

In keeping with the 80s theme of the television show, Stranger Things 3: The Game sports a 16-bit theme in this top-down beat ’em up. Just like those classic 16-bit era games, you can play locally with a friend with the drop-in/drop-out split screen co-op feature. Don’t worry, you can still play the full game solo if your friends aren’t around.

“Play through familiar events from the series while also uncovering never-before-seen quests, character interactions, and secrets!.”

Judging by Stranger Things 3: The Game’s Steam page, it appears that major plot points and locations from the new season will feature in the game. Dave Pottinger, Stranger Things 3: The Game’s Director, has confirmed that this title will enable fans to “dive into the things that happen off-screen” in an interview with Variety.

This title follows the Stranger Things mobile game (iOS, Android) that was released back in October 2017, which featured eight playable characters and coincided with the release of Stranger Things 2. Developer BonusXP is stepping things up this time around, launching the newest installment on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Mac and PC, as well as a mobile version.

Stranger Things 3: The Game ups the ante by increasing the playable character count to twelve. Each one of these twelve characters come with their own unique special moves, for example: Joyce can utilise her Whirlwind special attack to take down multiple attacking enemies. The game is being designed with players of all skill levels in mind, so whether you are a casual or hardcore gamer, the experience should be comfortable for everyone.

News Bits

Nintendo reveal Luigi is quite the ladies’ man, unlike Mario

Bill Trinen of Nintendo of America has revealed that female audiences much prefer Luigi taking the lead than Mario. It’s the green uniform – got to be.

Mario’s taller plumbing partner first starred on his own in a game called Mario Is Missing! in 1993 for NES/SNES and MS-DOS. Luigi’s Mansion 3 will arrive for Nintendo Switch in late 2019. Will this finally be the Year of Luigi?

Insurgency: Sandstorm blows in with six months more free content

A new road map reveals the next six months worth of free content for Insurgency: Sandstorm, beginning this July. There’ll be a level editor and tools for mod support, two new maps, night-time variants, new weapons and gear, a new hardcore ruleset, new PvP Frontline and Co-Op Outpost game modes and more character customisation for those who just must look fabulous.

Getting Started Guide

Rage 2

Rage 2 is a collaboration between the creators of Doom and Just Cause, and it’s just as crazy as you would expect. With a whole open-world to play around in and blow apart, it can be tricky to work out how to do it best. Here’s what you need to get started in RAGE 2!

STORY TIME!: Once you get out of the opening area, you’ll have access to the entire open world of Rage 2. This is great, but can be overwhelming. There’s a distraction around every corner! At the start, at least, we advise you to focus on two things: main story missions and Arks.

The first three story missions require you to track down three people, preferably in this order:

  • John Marshall at Gunbarrel
  • Loosum Hagar at Wellspring
  • Antonin Kvasir in the Sekreto Wetlands

Completing their missions will give you access to their Project upgrade trees. Once you start tackling the open-world missions you’ll get reputation with these three characters, which net you Project Points that can be spent to buy useful upgrades.

Go help out Marshall in Gunbarrel first, since his mission will contain an Ark that nets you the Shotgun. This is why you should also focus on finding Arks – because Arks provide new weapons and superpowers. In other words: all the fun of Rage 2.

BETTER, STRONGER, FASTER: There are a lot of things to upgrade in Rage 2. There are Project Points, Weapon mods, Phoenix vehicle armaments, Nanotrite ability improvements… the list goes on and on!

You should check out the various upgrade trees and decide which ones you should aim for. Weapon and ability upgrades are the most obviously useful, and Nanotrite abilities also includes ‘Constitution’ to improve your health. You’ll also need:

  • Feltrite to increase Nanotrite and weapon levels
  • Nanotrite boosters to mod your abilities
  • Cash!

You’ll want raid Storage Containers and Ark Chests at every location. On Dr Kvasir’s Projects screen, you’ll be able to buy locators for these chests, so we advise getting those upgrades first. It’ll make things much easier for you!

YOU’VE GOT THE TOUCH: The real fun in Rage isn’t wading through encounters with the default assault rifle. It’s punching a Goon off a cliff, attaching a bunch of Firestorm tags to his buddy, launching that guy into the sky, and snapping your fingers so they both explode into flames!

There are a lot of weapons and superpowers in Rage 2, and in harder encounters you’ll have to use all of them. Using every one of your skills is advisable – and a lot more fun! Mix it up!

Weapons include basics like shotguns and rocket launchers, all the way up to a railgun, a chaingun that gets more powerful as it overheats, and the aforementioned Firestorm Revolver. Nanotrite powers include a Force shove, a black hole, and the easily-overlooked Overdrive – which increases your power and resistance, and is the best way to deal with bosses or crowds. Go nuts!

WENDY, I CAN FLY: While Rage 2 is built around getting into scrapes while driving, at some point you’ll want to get places more quickly. There is Fast Travel, but only to a few select areas – like the game’s five towns, Derby, or Mutant Bash TV.

Otherwise, the only way to quickly get around Rage 2 is with the game’s flying vehicle, the Icarus. You can unlock one to call in at any time from the Vehicles menu. The bad news is that it might take a little work.

Complete Kvasir’s story mission, unlock his Project, and then increase your reputation level with him (the green marks like Arks and lost Rangers). Once you hit Level 7 you’ll get the Icarus added to your garage, and suddenly you’ll believe a ranger can fly!

Now get out there and have fun with Rage 2!

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which of these games was NOT announced at E3 2019?

Answer: Watch_Dogs Legion!

Yes, we’re getting tricksy here! All these games had their first showings and gameplay at E3 2019, but the new Watch_Dogs Legion (also called Watch_Dogs 3 or ‘the one without dogs in it’) was actually announced just prior to E3 2019! After all the details on the title was leaked, Ubisoft tweeted out the game’s name and existence – and so, officially announcing Watch_Dogs Legion. See, we told you we were getting tricksy…

Legion doesn’t appear to have any direct connection with the other two Watch_Dogs games (the same way that 2 barely acknowledges 1), but it looks very impressive. It’s set in London following a collapse of the government post-Brexit (not that Ubisoft is getting political, or anything) and has the conceit that there’s not just one player character – you can play, interact with, and recruit any NPC in the game to the DedSec cause. It’ll be out on March 6th 2020.

As for the others? A new Blair Witch game was a surprise announcement at Microsoft’s conference, with many thinking the flashlight horror game set in the woods was actually Alan Wake 2 before the stick-figure logo appeared. Ghostwire: Tokyo is the new scary game from Bethesda and the developers of The Evil Within, led by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. And just to prove we can talk about more than horror games, Contra: Rogue Corps is coming to Switch and we can’t wait. That’s it for E3 2019!

Daily Giveaway

HyperX Cloud Alpha Pro Gaming Headset

We’re celebrating our launch week by offering all our subscribers the chance to win a HyperX Cloud Alpha Pro Gaming Headset, and we will give one away each day this week! We will randomly draw one lucky winner from our active reader list every day.

“HyperX™ Cloud Alpha’s ground-breaking Dual Chamber Drivers design will give your audio more distinction and clarity by reducing distortion. It’s multi-platform compatible with in-line audio controls, so serious gamers on PC, PS4™, Xbox One™ and other platforms with a 3.5mm port will benefit from the bold sound of the Cloud Alpha evolution.”

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