The Roundup: The Circle & Beyond

By Jonathan G. Lee

Hello, hello! Jon again with your weekly Circle Roundup. This week’s Roundup is brought to you by the wonderful month of September, the harbinger of fall. Thank you, September, for your apple cider, beautiful foliage, sensibly cool weather, Halloween, and being by far the best time of the year to play sports outdoors.

Or Pokemon GO, of course.

And now, the Roundup:

As if killing giant anthropomorphic bug monsters with chainsaw guns wasn’t epic enough, Microsoft Studios announced that Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi will be scoring the music for Gears of War 4. Djawadi is no stranger to videogame music and began his career as a sound technician at Looking Glass Studios. Samit Sarkar gives us all the details here.

Christopher Byrd sat down with No Man’s Sky designer Sean Murray and gives his own take on the much discussed game. The verdict? Well, it’s really lonely, and not in the existential awakening sort of way, but the “I’d rather be playing something else right now” sort of way. There is a slim chance that future changes to the game could help it realize its full potential, but as of now, it’s a half-remembered dream. Read Chris’ full review here.

Ubisoft makes some great games, but as a company, it can be kind of, well, boring. At one point, Ubisoft had studios in virtually every continent, from Ukraine, the United States, India, Brazil, and even Casablanca, all under the careful watch of Ubisoft’s French overlords. The side effect of this is that their games generally feel safe and bland, engineered to be as mainstream as possible. Jordan Minor thinks that maybe if Ubisoft went through a sort of Brexit of its own, minus all the nasty racism and xenophobia, the vast amount of studios under its wing could inject a little personality into their titles. Read Jordan’s take here.

A major theme in the Deus Ex themes is transhumanism, the idea that we can conquer the classical problems of the human condition by making ourselves stronger, faster, smarter, and braver through the promise of technological progress. Nick Capozzoli took a look at the Human By Design conference, which framed transhumanism as a social justice issue — we have a moral obligation to victims of genetics and cruel chance. As amputee turned prosthetics technician Asem Hasna put it, “Augmentation can return dignity and purpose.” The exploration of these politics in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, however, leave much to be desired. Read Nick’s full story here.

A lot of stuff gets cut in game development because of (1) time, (2) money, or (3) the content just isn’t relevant anymore to the overall design. Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain’s Mission 51 is a polarizing example of this. A rough draft of this cut mission was found on the disc, which fans see as a victim of cut content reasons #1 and #2. Snowballed with Hideo Kojima’s troubled departure from Konami, this led to accusations from gamers that Konami released what’s essentially an incomplete game. Allegra Frank reports that everyone can put their pitchforks down because Mission 51 was cut due to reason #3, rather early on in the game’s development. Read her full article here.

Finally, Harold Goldberg looks at Madden NFL 17 as a touchdown, a huge step forward for the 30 year old series that sometimes feels as though it’s running out of steam. This year, it went through a major revamping and it’s not just a bandaid over a bruise. It’s more like a new leg here and even a new brain. The new announcers actually seem like they’re having fun. And finally, they’ve resolved that issue of players having dead eyes like zombies. Read the full story here.

And now for news outside of the Circle. . .

In 1976, Nintendo released a projector-based shooting game called Duck Hunt Kosenju, the same year that Atari released Home Pong in the United States. A redditor named zadoc, who is something of a videogame historian, provided a whole picture gallery with captions. I love this sort of stuff. You can see the whole thing here.

Yesterday, EA Executive VP Patrick Soderlund responded to years of fan begging for a remaster of the Mass Effect trilogy by stating EA is interested in the future, not the past, even if monetizing nostalgia would make them metric ass tons of money. Probably just some nice PR spiel but honestly, I gotta respect that. I am firmly in the camp that old stories should end and old characters should die so that new tales can be spun. Read about it here.

Eve Online is introducing an F2P system! All accounts both old and new will now be able to play the game completely free of charge, with restrictions, of course. I expect to see waves of wide-eyed new players who fire up the game expecting this, when in reality, Eve is mostly this. Honestly, I prefer the latter. My favorite memories of World of Warcraft was when my friends and I did something horribly wrong. And that time we were running desperately for our lives in the Wetlands because we were big, bad level 40 Horde characters ganking level 20 Alliance players until they called their max level friends over to tear off our asses and eat our faces. Read CCP Games’ full statement here.

 

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