#18: Wake Up Alan!

Alan Wake comes out of retirement, and might just take a case for the PlayStation. We have the latest Grand Theft Auto 6 rumours, but you may want to take them with a pinch of salt. We also look at John Romero’s Sigil, a great reminder of just how good Doom can be!

Top Story

Alan Wake rights revert back to Remedy

The rights to Alan Wake and his creepy tales are back in creator Remedy Entertainment’s hands after a decade of Microsoft exclusivity. That means the classic flash-light’em-up could finally appear on PlayStation!

It won’t be right away, since Remedy is in the middle of their latest project, which just happens to be a multi-platform title. Their last big game was the live-action/game hybrid Quantum Break for old partners Microsoft, but their new hot game Control was unveiled at Sony’s E3 2018 conference.

What a Max Payne IP rights are

Remedy knows they’re not the biggest developer around (not even the biggest in Finland), but that doesn’t mean they’re going to play it safe: “The smartest thing for us is to do what we believe in, be ready to be a bit weird, be controversial even – let’s try to make a statement than play it safe,” said game director Mikael Kasurinen. Control is just as much a universe as a story, and the game is supposed to be considerably expanded after launch.

Alongside returning the Alan Wake rights, Microsoft is paying €2.5 million in royalties, which probably helps keep spirits high up north. Remedy also created the cult classic Max Payne series, now owned by Rockstar Games. Control launches for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on August 27th, published by 505 Games.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which one of these Mario games does NOT feature as a template in Super Mario Maker?

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario Bros
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • New Super Mario Bros U

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

News Bits

Super Mario Maker 2 dethrones Crash Team Racing in UK

Nintendo has cause for celebrating the launch of Super Mario Maker 2 for Switch, which stole the top spot in the UK sales chart from Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, ahead of F1 2019. In fact, overall sales were up for Nintendo games in the past week.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled ghost bug will be exorcised

There’s a problem with ghosts corrupting save game data in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled! The haunting appears contained to Time Trials on PlayStation 4, and if you play too many of them your save game might get busted. A fix is due on July 3rd, but in the meantime you might want to avoid the Time Trial mode. Who you gonna call? The, uh, developers – obviously – since they have the source code. Duh.

Daily Fact

World of Warcraft: One man’s plague is another man’s epidemiological study

In the long storied history of World of Warcraft there is the ‘Corrupted Blood incident’ of late 2005. This accidental oversight from the recently introduced Zul’Gurub raid dungeon, which featured in Patch 1.7.0, would trigger something epidemiologists could actually study for real-world implications.

It was discovered and soon even exploited that a crippling debuff for players – Corrupted Blood – could be taken outside the raid instance. It was an attack by that scamp Hakkar the Soulflayer, who would use the debuff to threaten raid parties by sapping health.

Could it strike again in World of Warcraft Classic?

The problem was the Corrupted Blood could also affect Warlock and Hunter pets, which is how it started transmitting between players outside the raid. This led to a serious epidemic sweeping across Azeroth entirely by accident – and on purpose – as many low-level characters were killed. Higher level-characters survived long enough to spread the debuff, but many began fleeing from major city hubs and towns as it kept sweeping through.

So virulent was this plague that actual epidemiologists would later study the whole affair to see how players reacted to such a catastrophic outbreak. It did get a bit out of hand, effectively crippling the game, and forced Blizzard Entertainment to reset the servers and patch out pets from carrying the Corrupted Blood debuff outside the raid instance.

Somehow that doesn’t sound quite so viable as a real-world solution to a Corrupted Blood epidemic…

Daily News

Sony’s next PlayStation is a ‘niche for the hardcore gamer’

A recent Sony company brief reveals that they’re going all-in targeting the hardcore audience with the PlayStation 5, placing less emphasis on more narrow indie games. They reckon people want outstanding visuals, and that it’s the key driving force for early adopters.

Sony is lining up heavy hitters from large publishers and studios, as well as exclusive AAA content built by their own first-party teams. That means Sony will focus on the big, attention-grabbing gamer’s-games for their big reveal rather than everyone’s indie darlings.

Indies are cool but big boys rule (in sales)

If something is already available on mobile, remarks one anonymous Sony exec, then why would Sony bother to give attention at such a crucial time to something that won’t lure big sales? It sounds harsh, but Sony knows the core PlayStation audience – and its appetites – well by now.

Sony seems pretty confident that indie outfits will still flock to the new PlayStation in spite of Sony’s focus shifting toward the bigger titles – they simply can’t afford to ignore it. Microsoft’s Xbox remains Sony’s primary rival, but they’re keeping a close eye on Google’s Stadia too. Sony also believes backward compatibility ‘is key’ for keeping PlayStation’s lead against the Xbox.

It seems likely that Sony will show off the PlayStation 5, or at least provide more details, at The Tokyo Game Show, taking place between the 12th and 15th September.

Grand Theft Auto 6 rumours – consume with care!

True to tradition, Grand Theft Auto fans will overdose on whatever scraps of information they can rustle up. This tends to include the nuttiest of tin-foil hat conspiracy theories – but occasionally they come across kernels of truth too.

If Reddit users like JackOLantern1982 or gfk53 are to be believed then we’ve got interesting times ahead. Here’s a summary of what they claim Grant Theft Auto 6 has in store:

  • GTA 6 (or whatever the final title is) is codenamed PROJECT AMERICAS
  • Pre-production started in 2012 but didn’t begin development until 2015, although still secondary to Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Will take place between Vice City and a new fictional South American city, based on Rio de Janeiro. Other possible mission destinations include Liberty City and Cuba
  • It won’t be as ‘realistic’ as Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Only a single playable male protagonist
  • The game takes place during the 1970s and 80s
  • Plot revolves around a drug lord-wannabe called Ricardo, and his buddy Kacey is also a big part of the story. You start out as a grunt who runs drugs between Vice City and other places
  • Game is segmented into ‘chapters’ similar to RDR2
  • Weather will play a larger role and includes hurricanes and floods
  • As time moves on, buildings and vehicles change too – which has caused no end of development trouble, but they’ve got it working. Older classic cars can be worth more in the game’s economy
  • Netflix’s Narcos has been a big inspiration
  • A younger Martin Madrazo from GTA 5 will make an appearance, and he’ll work with his father (and presumably you!) against rival gangs
  • Greatly expanded drug empire system based on that from Vice City Stories. Much has been learnt from GTA Online’s business management
  • Weapons will be limited to what you can physically carry, so no magical arsenal this time
  • You can have a personal vehicle (which you can change) much like Michael, Franklin and Trevor had in GTA 5. It’s your ‘horse’ equivalent from RDR2
  • It’s in development for the next generation Xbox and PlayStation with no ETA
  • GTA 6 said to be in the pipeline alongside another title – possibly the next Bully

Game Spotlight

Sigil reminds us how great Doom is

(id Software/Romero Games – PC)

The original Doom came out over 25 years ago, in 1993, and John Romero left id Software a few years later, 1996. Even now, the original Doom is held in high regard and considered the foundational work in the first-person shooter genre – but how many people actually still play it? Maybe a better question is: How many FPS fans underestimate the original Doom and refuse to believe it can offer an experience equal – or surpassing – today’s big games?

For the last few years, John Romero has been working on Sigil – an unofficial yet sorta-kinda actually official fifth episode of the original Doom. It offers the classic Doom experience – missing the new weapons and enemies from Doom 2, such as the double-barreled super-shotgun and Arch-Vile. So what makes Sigil so special? It reminds us just how incredible the original Doom experience still is.

Knee Deep in the Dead

Sigil consists of nine levels (and nine separate multiplayer maps) offering some of the trickiest and most rewarding Doom challenges I – someone who’s played pretty much everything Doom – have ever played. Romero proves not only that he’s a true master of level design, but that the original Doom can still surprise.

And there are surprises a-plenty. The very first mission – where you’re armed with just a pistol and a shotgun – features a bloody Cyberdemon. The greatest trick Sigil pulls off is forcing you to go against 25 years of Doom instincts. Your natural desire is to kill all enemies and not take damage – but that is impossible if you want to beat Sigil. Instead, you have to get past the Cyberdemon somehow and try not to get killed – and it won’t even be the worst enemy in your path!

There will be times when you’ll literally have to get damaged or nearly killed to reach your objective – like running over lava to reach a key switch. At times Sigil plays like survival horror – you rarely have the resources you need to defeat all enemies in a level. I started relying on the chainsaw way more than I did in the original games – or even Doom 2016. The rocket launcher and plasma gun take ages to show up, and you won’t have more than a few shots with each for the longest time.

Rip and tear

Even though it’s missing some heavy hitters from Doom 2, Sigil also reminds you how scary the original Doom’s enemies can be. When you you’re low on health and ammo, a Cacodemon is a real thread and every Baron of Hell was an ‘oh shi-‘ moment for me. The enemy placement in Sigil is amazing, and you often have to get them to fight each other to conserve your own ammo. It’s very clever stuff!

The levels are incredibly well put together, featuring stuff I didn’t even know Doom could do – like switches that are activated by shooting them, or the lights going out when you hit the ground after running off a ledge. Secrets are hidden in really clever places, like in almost invisible hidden paths, rather than just random walls. Then there are the truly epic moments, like having two Cyberdemons stuck in place on opposite sides of a large map – meaning you have to frantically dodge rockets whenever you cross an open area.

And the best part? It’s free! You can download Sigil here, complete with instructions on how to play it. You’ll need a copy of The Ultimate Doom, which you can pick up on Steam for a pittance, and for the sake of comfort you will want the GZDoom source port. You should definitely give it a go, whether or not you’re a Doom expert.

News Bits

Paradox: 70/30 revenue split is“outrageous”

Paradox Interactive boss Fredrik Wester called the 30% platform tax common to online stores “outrageous” and demands the press quote him on it. He praised the Epic Game Store for bucking the trend and offering 88% of the sales price to studios. Interestingly, he blames Warner Bros. for inventing the 70/30 revenue split model back in the 70s – adding that since we’re all digital now, “they need to lower their part of the pie”

Police Stories patrol Nintendo Switch this September

Top-down door-buster and crime-thwarter Police Stories will be breaching and clearing Nintendo Switch on September 19th. This tactical on-duty copy experience is all about apprehending suspects by forcing them to surrender rather than going all Judge Dredd on them. It’s the no-nonsense veteran and brash rookie buddy cop drama you’ve always dreamed of starring in!

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which one of these Mario games does NOT feature as a template in Super Mario Maker?

Answer: Super Mario 3D World!

Super Mario Maker 2 is out now, so we’re celebrating with a Mario Maker-themed quiz week!

The first Super Mario Maker released four years ago on Wii U, and was an immediate success – even if it does sort of undercut Nintendo’s own 2D Mario efforts and might explain why we haven’t seen another entry in the New Super Mario Bros series since then! The basic gist is that players can make their own 2D Mario levels and share them online for others to play.

The first Mario Maker launched with four templates based on four classic Mario games – Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros U.

Levels are constrained to the mechanics, enemies and power-ups from one of those games – so there’s no wall-jump in the older games, for example. Super Mario Maker 2 adds a Super Mario 3D World template – although sadly there are still no 3D levels.

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