Police believe they have found the bomb factory flat where the explosives detonated by Salman Abedi were made.
Officers have raided a high-rise block, where they believe the device which killed 22 people in a 12th floor council flat was created.
Hundreds of Muslim children march to Manchester Arena to pay tribute to 22 victims
The 22-year-old Manchester bomber sub-let a property in Somerton Court, in the Blackley area of Manchester.
Officers involved in the terror investigation – along with armed police – raided the flat on Wednesday evening.
Abedi’s landlord contacted police after recognising the bomber’s name in the news.
The landlord said a strong scent of chemicals was left behind by his ex-tenant and fire alarms had been deactivated, according to the Daily Mail.
Hate crime reports have doubled in Manchester since terror attack
Abedi rented the 12th floor property for weeks before the attack, moving out last month.
A total of 13 arrests have now been made in the Manchester attack investigation.
Police arrested two men aged 20 and 22 on suspicion of terror offences in connection with the Manchester bombing last night.
Another man, aged 44, was arrested in Rusholme on suspicion of terrorism offences linked to the arena attack.
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘It has been a challenging week and we are still in the middle of a live investigation. Eight people are in custody aged between 18 and 38.
‘There are still 12 locations that are being searched and activity will continue throughout the weekend. The cordon remains around Manchester Arena.
‘We have hundreds of officers that are working on this investigation from across the national counter terrorism policing network and we have seized thousands of exhibits that are now being assessed.’
Here is everything we know about the suspects so far.
We all saw it, the Destiny 2 gameplay reveal livestream on Thursday. It was the thing that everybody was waiting for and now the hype train has finally kicked into full swing. Destiny 2 has a lot to live up to. Many promises have been made and some have proven to come true. Based off what we have seen, we can make some expectations, have some opinions and overall, judge how the game is going to play out. So let’s look at some things and make some assumptions about Destiny 2.
The New Destiny 2 possible front cover.
Let’s first talk about how the graphics look. Destiny 1 according to Bungie was using a heavily upgraded version of the graphics engine used to make Halo 3. While Destiny 1 looked great for an engine that old Destiny 2 looks fan freaking tastic. Built from the ground up using an entirely new engine and software, this game look absolutely gorgeous. The first mission alone from the livestream shows us what we’ll be seeing. Whether effects, pretty explosions, battleships, and new enemies that want to kill all of us but look super cool while doing it. However a lot of things can change from now to September. Things can certainly change. Many games have suffered the fate of not looking good at launch compared to when they initially revealed. Considering Bungie had about 3 Years to perfect everything, they better have gotten it right.
I loved the way the new graphics looked, it was so pretty to look at (not saying war is pretty but this game is) I mean come on! Destiny has been a pretty game to look at but this takes the cake, this is just amazing. Thank you new engine that Bungie has you just made the game look even prettier. Now will it stay that way when the game launches? Or will it be even better! Considering Bungie still has some work to do with the game I bet it will look even better than the livestream!
A look at the first mission in Destiny 2.
Let’s talk about gameplay. From what I can tell it plays exactly like Destiny 1 but more refined. Obviously there will be new weapons and armor as well as new exotics like the new Exotic Sub Machine Gun. More information is coming out even days after the stream. The thing I am quite excited about is the new powers we get! We got to see the new subclasses, Dawnblade for the Warlock, Sentinel for the Titan, Arcstrider for Hunters, and maybe that minigun we saw in the stream (I love me a minigun).
To be honest while the Arcstrider (I main a Hunter) looks really freaking cool, I get a lot of flashbacks to how pathetically weak the Bladedancer was in Destiny 1, at least in PvE. I mean it was meant to be a high damage slayer class thingy and it was soooo weak and I was so disappointed in it. Plus Bladedancers were everywhere in the Crucible so I have a bad feeling that we’re going to be experiencing something quite similar with this new Arcstrider class. However on the flip side I get to be Captain America as a Titan. Throwing that shield around, kinda reminds me of the Sunbreaker Subclass, but instead of a Hammer we get a Shield, and it’s purple not fire red. The Warlock’s new Dawnblade subclass is SO COOL!!! I get to be a flying valkyrie space wizard!! Okay it’s a weird combo but it works because of Destiny’s space magic absurdity. HOWEVER, I am worried on how they are going to balance the subclasses for both PvE and PvP. My guess is that they will make the same mistake they made in Destiny 1. As for weapons I can’t say the same considering there are entirely new weapons for the game. Including an exotic Sub-Machine Gun. So we’ll have to play that one by ear. But considering Bungie hasn’t mentioned anything about weapon balancing I am a bit worried but we’ll see. I JUST WANT MY MINIGUN ALREADY!!!
MINIGUN!!!! GIVE IT TO ME!!!
One of the biggest elements Destiny 2 is bringing that Destiny 1 messed up big time and I am most excited about is the STORY!!!! FINALLY A STORY!!! However we only know what was shared. That the City and Tower was destroyed, The Speaker disappears, The Red Legion captures The Traveler draining our powers and the Vanguard are scattered throughout the Solar System and we have to obtain our old powers back through new means and find new loot.
The story could take any kind of crazy twist or turn. Or completely fall flat on it’s face like the first one. Will we see what happened to the Queen and her Brother? Will we solve the riddle of the Vex? What about the mystery of The Stranger? Y’know, that one Exo Girl that appeared and helped us and then vanished just as quickly. What about her Bungie? I think those story elements of the Vex and the Stranger will be dropped in Destiny 2 in favor of this new story which takes place after The Taken King and The Rise of Iron. Who knows where it will take us. However I feel despite the epic story I feel it will either be extremely short or Bungie will once again drop the ball. But only time will tell with this one.
We lose everything.
One of the last things Bungie showed off were the new worlds that we get to go to. Earth’s European Dead Zone, IO, Titan, and Nessus. Nessus being a Vex Machine World, IO being the last place The Traveler’s light hit before The Collapse, and Titan being an old human utopia. Supposedly according to Bungie that is the biggest location to date. It’s a little disappointing since we were supposed to go to Saturn. And the other worlds are kind of moons. I mean what each world is supposed to be is cool but it is disappointing we don’t go to Saturn. But it is exciting we get to see Earth outside the Tower, Cosmodrome and Iron Temple. In fact our new social space in the European Dead Zone, a small town. Will we get to interact with the people of the town? Who knows, but these new worlds have new secrets and I am excited.
There are also parts of the world you supposedly cannot find on the map and have to physically find yourself. That is really cool because it gives you a sort of depth to the world Destiny 1 kind of lacked. I just have this sneaking suspicion that the worlds will be baren like the first game. And I hope that is not the case. But if it is it will seriously kill the excitement of exploring the world. I guess the one thing they got right was the fact that you don’t have to go into Orbit to go from Planet to Planet anymore….That’s cool….I guess….
The New Worlds.
One of the little changes that Destiny 2 makes is that clans are now supported WITHIN THE GAME AND NOT BUNGIE. NET. Thank God, not only does this help the game, this also helps the community get to know one another. You can view the clans achievements and see what the clans all about when you look them up it’s extremely helpful. While yes it’s something minor little things can go a long way and this is definitely something the first Destiny needed and I am so happy it’s in the game finally.
Something else that is pretty big is that Destiny allows matchmaking for Nightfalls and Raids, both of which are returning to Destiny. I am REALLY REALLY happy about this for one big reason. IT WOULD TAKE FOREVER TO FIND A PARTY FOR THE NIGHTFALL AND RAID! So thank you Bungie…..you listened. THANK YOUUUUU!!! It’s called Guided Games which allows clans and solo players to play with each other. This is so helpful and as a solo player (most of the time, I am in a clan but there only a few of us left) this helps IMMENSELY!!! Okay I’m done….. There is a few things I would like to address that was not mentioned in the stream that I mentioned before and some I didn’t.
The New Clan System.
There are a few things that concern me. Such as weapon balancing, ability balancing, and online connectivity, as well the RNG System for loot. If Destiny 1 had taught us anything, Bungie cannot properly do any of those things. Online connectivity being a big one as most of Destiny 1 was peer to peer connected which was God awful. Not only that but the RNG system was just……oh boy…..You’re making me relive bad memories. As for weapons balancing there were periods where Hand Cannons reigned supreme (I hate you Thorn. I will forever hate you) then it was pulse rifles and eventually after more than a year and half later Bungie found a happy balance. As for RNG, they still have yet to fix it and it’s still broken as well as the ability balancing (Warlock melees are still OP Bungie!!).
The biggest problem is the Grimoire Cards on Bungie.Net, what’s the problem? They exist on a different medium. It’s completely unnecessary as games such as Dark Souls have any special lore details within the game. Why can’t Destiny do something similar? It’s a problem that needs to be fixed with Destiny 2 and I hope Bungie fixes this. The big problem also is that there is already a season pass for 2 DLC’s just like Destiny 1…….This is a big problem and while this is more on the side of Activision this is an extremely bad sign of things to come and I hope this is fixed immediately.
Can we not have this on Bungie. Net and in the game instead?
These are all just some of the details that were revealed and my opinions on them as well as some issues that need to addressed in the next installment. I personnally believe that this is the saving that Bungie desperately needs if they wish to keep this IP alive and keep us. The fans happy. I believe that this will be a really great game and they wiil fix all, if not most of the mistakes they made in the first Destiny.
But what do you think? Is Destiny 2 going to flop and complete destroy Bungie’s reputation? Or is it going to be the saving grace that the Destiny Universe and Bungie need. Are you excited? What caught your eye? Leave your comments down below and I’ll be sure to respond. Thank you for reading me nerd out a little bit and complain a little on what needs to be changed.
Thank You For Reading!!!
Neowiz Games is going to merge the last 2 Bless Online servers into one in South Korea. 2 servers "Gaius" and "Lumen" will become "Elpis" starting June 14th, the developer and publisher of the Unreal Engine 3 MMORPG announced at the KR official site. Players have to complete character transfer before June 13 if they want to continue to play their existing characters.
The Korean version performed a server merge in January 2017, after 2 server merges in 2016. On the other hand, the Russian servers will be closed down later this week on May 25 indefinitely for a "revision". The NA and EU publisher Aeira Games met up the developer Neowiz Games in Korea last month but they haven't revealed anything about the meeting by now.
What do you think about the game's future in NA and EU market?
What are the new Chinese MMORPGs that are worth waiting for? Netease's Justice should be one of them. The long-awaited martial arts MMO finally released the actual in-game footage, recorded by the in-game camera on a GeForce GTX 1080 PC.
The video features a playable character "Iron Fist", equal to a Kung Fu Master class in MMO, who smashes multiple enemies and some objects in the environment. According to Netease, the content shown in the video is Iron Fist fights his way out of an ambush, which is a part of Iron Fist's main story.
What you can't see in the video is a martial arts world with a lot of freedom. Your behaviors in the game and reactions to NPC will affect your fate in the game. Do you think Justice will bring martial arts game back to the golden age?
Justice will start alpha in China in July 2017. We'll keep you updated.
Related: Netease Games Presented 32 Games at the May 20th Conference
Wild West Online got unprecedented attention because of the similarity it shares with Red Dead Redemption 2. Regardless of the Red Dead Redemption elements, the west-themed MMO looks promising with the gameplay features at launch.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has just released a batch of new screenshot, and Wild West Online developer 612 Games also released several pieces of concept art for the biomes. Take a look below.
Wild West Online has 3 huge and beautiful areas to explore at launch, and the game world will be expanded with post-launch expansions.
Wild West Online concept art
Red Dead Redemption 2 new screenshots
Shadow Warrior [official site] has never been my favourite of the Build Engine games (it’s Blood all the way for me) but that entire FPS era has a special place in my heart. It’s also worth nothing that Shadow Warrior is kicking Duke’s ass when it comes to remakes and sequels. As of today, you can explore the history of the original 1997 release by playing the alpha and beta versions of the game, which are now available free on Steam. The 1997 original has been free for some time, but now you can choose to play either the final release or either of the pre-release versions through the launcher.
The preserving and sharing of history in this way seems like a Good Thing all round, . You can read a detailed analysis of the beta version, which leaked back in the day, over on Hendricks266’s site, which is as pleasingly oldschool as Shadow Warrior itself.
“Prototypes of games have always fascinated me. Shadow Warrior is no exception. The 0.90 “beta” was leaked by a tech support employee who wanted to play a modem game with his friend. Unfortunately, the game spread farther than his friend, and this employee was fired. One difference in this version is you begin the first level in a completely different location. There are also quite a few unreleased maps included in this version, which can be selected through the user levels. There is also a ton of unused art, and even some other good stuff.”
There’s something particularly fascinating about prototypes of Build Engine games. The finished articles often seemed like they were straining to contain all of the ideas thrown into them, and I’m interested to see how all of the elements were remixed or boiled down. For more of the beautiful weirdness of Build, check out our retrospective on the most nineties of engines.
I’m now fully caught up on the Destiny 2 [official site] presentation and am wading through the first hands-on footage people are feeding out as videos. The game has a hard release date of 8 September on console (and a smidge of pre-order beta before that) but PC is still a bit of an unknown. It’ll still happen but the exact details are still lurking in the realms of “dunno”. BUT! That gives us some breathing room to get you, the wide-eyed PC player, up to speed. There’s also plenty in the info we now have that excites me and a few niggles I wanted to poke at while they’re still fresh in my mind. Shall we start with an overview of the game and then move on to things like the reworked match-making for raids and so on? It’s my article so I’ll assume you said yes!
Destiny is best thought of as a sci-fi MMO with some truly lovely-feeling shooting as its core gameplay. There was a story campaign but the bulk of the experience came after that through quests and raids and weekly challenges and PvP and all manner of other bits and pieces. Like I say, it’s an MMO set in space. I just checked my own game stats and the majority of my time was spent on PvP, playing a point capture map selection called Control. But what do you really need to know about Destiny and its lore to get to grips with Destiny 2? Allow me to explain – I’ll be brief!
A Teaspoon of Lore
Destiny 2 is set in the same universe as the original game. There’s a bunch of lore nerdery which might help you appreciate all the oohing and ahhing during the trailers but the core of that first game was that The Traveler – that big moon-looking object hovering in the sky over Earth – is the source of your characters’ special powers. It lets you tap into and use a force called Light and there’s also a lot of gubbins about existential threats and whether the Traveler’s motives are benign and… if you’ve played a lore-heavy sci-fi game you’ll probably be able to imagine the discussion of every minute detail on subreddits over the years.
There were factions in the first game and all manner of figureheads and legions within those factions because it’s a lore-heavy sci-fi game (even though you’ll hear a bunch of arguments about there not being a real story because of how it hid everything in grimoire cards so you had to be bothered to tease it out of the game and frankly some people didn’t fancy that approach). What I think is most useful to know is that one of the alien races is the Cabal. They’re based on Mars in the original game and take the form of these beefy, heavily armoured jerks – kind of space turtles who often had these irritating shields you’d need to work around when splattering them.
The Cabal are the focus as the main enemies for Destiny 2. Players of the original game suspected they might be because all of the other major races (the Hive, the Fallen, the Vex) had been the focus of a raid and a bunch of chunky content so it was theoretically the Cabal’s turn. So here you have a Cabal Warlord called Ghaul (also known as Gary because of bants in a trailer) who is in a right mard that the Traveler decided to make human and human adjacent characters (the blue-skinned Awoken and the humanoid machine Exos) the heroes of the piece and has decided HE deserves to wield Light too thankyouverymuch.
To that end he sort of wheel-clamps the Traveler and siphons off its Light while also leading Cabal to destroy the original game’s hub world, The Tower.
TL;DR? This is a hard reset which zaps all your previous powers, destroys your loot vault and sends everyone you know scattering in all directions.
The story (in as far as Bungie have shown so far) is about regaining your powers and getting the band back together.
The band in this case is the triumvirate of vanguards for each of the player classes. There’s Zavala who was the commandy shouty blue guy who made the bubble shield in the trailer above. He’s one of the Awoken, if you were wondering, and he’s in charge of the Titan class. That’s the class which is very much about front-lining, stomping about and doing power-fists into the earth. Then there’s Nathan Fillion as Cayde-6 – an Exo who heads up the Hunters. Hunters are the showboating faction who wear capes and zip about being annoying. Hunters are the worst. Ikora Ray is the human who acts as the Warlock vanguard. The Warlocks are the best faction and they are in charge of space magic, really floofy jumping, and wiping out entire capture points with Nova Bombs in PvP.
After the destruction of The Tower Zavala’s off having an existential crisis, gazing across the methane seas of Saturn’s moon, Titan. Because he’s a Titan. DO YOU GET IT? Ikora has gone to a sacred site on Io to regroup and also to marshal her fury into something useful. The presentation made it sound like she was in some kind of mashup between a church and Professor Farnsworth’s Angry Dome. Cayde is doing bantz on Nessus which is a Vex stronghold – the Vex being a sort of robo collective who can play silly beggars with time itself. To be fair, Cayde is always doing bantz. He is Banter Claus. Archbishop of Banterbury. Immanuel Bant.
And thus: new story campaign, new strikes (kind of mini-raids), new actual raid with details TBA, new multiplayer maps presumably based around these new locations and so on and so on.
Here’s Terra Mantis’s footage of the Inverted Spire strike. It should give you a better feel for how the game flows. In case you’re wondering, they’re playing as a Gunslinger Hunter – they get a Golden Gun as their ultimate:
Let’s now move on to the more granular bits and bobs!
So much of Destiny was about how guns felt when you handled them and you’d develop incredibly strong preferences and attachments to your loadout. That’s why I’m not particularly interested in the weapons themselves until I can actually play with them and see what feels nice. In the original game I favoured hand cannons as my primary weapon. They were good for close-up work and you could deal an impressive/horrific amount of damage if you were precise. I would also sometimes cheat on my favourite hand cannon – a gun called The Last Word – with the mid-range burst-fire of a pulse rifle. Secondary tended to be a sniper rife called Defiance of Yasmin and my heavy weapon slot was generally reserved for a machine gun (Qullim’s Terminus in case you were interested).
Destiny 2 seems to be doing away with that primary/secondary/heavy distinction so you can have more than one weapon of a particular type in your loadout. Maybe multiple sniper rifles if you’re That Kind Of Jerk. It might also be useful because the previous distinctions – primary, secondary and heavy – generally meant you had one all-rounder gun, one specialist gun and one massive burst damage gun. I can imagine a bunch of scenarios where you might want to have two or even three specialist guns you can easily access depending on your role in the current fight.
The new categories are thus “kinetic”, “energy” and “power”. What that actually means in specific terms is not clear to me yet – I assume it’ll be a lot clearer when I’ve watched more footage or when we get bigger chunks of time with the game.
Supers are things in the original Destiny which you power up as you play and which, when charged, allow you to perform some spectacular or game-changing move. I mentioned two of those earlier – the Warlock’s purple Nova Bomb which you could use to blow an area up using purple elemental energy and the Golden Gun you get as a Gunslinger Hunter. Purple energy is technically called “void” energy but there’s also blue which is “arc” and orange/golden which is “solar”. By switching between different flavours of power you could change your super as well as other bits and bobs like how your character moves and how they jump and the grenades they can throw.
I’ll use the Warlock as an example:
If you’re using void power you’re a Voidwalker Warlock and you get that big bomb. If you’re using solar you’re a Sunsinger Warlock and you get Radiance which boosts your grenades and melee skills and reduces their cooldown timers massively. Arc power gives you Stormcaller Warlocks which gives you a Palpatine-style lightning attack. This one is super useful if you don’t fancy doing nonsense like “aiming” or “hiding”.
With the Traveler being clamped by turtles from Mars you lose all of this stuff even if you played the first game and had it maxed out. That’s why everyone’s stumbling around in the trailer – no Light means no powers. It looks like Bungie aren’t overhauling the elemental flavours though, so the supers you do get will be some new ones (based on the same principles but with different manifestations) and it looks like you earn back some of the earlier ones (but probably not the really game-breaky ones).
Specifically there’s a solar thing for Warlocks called Dawnblade where your super (I think that’s called Daybreak) has you use a flaming sword to slash projectiles at people, Sentinel is for Titans and gives you a void (i.e. purple) version of Captain America’s shield you can use to duff people up or ricochet off someone’s head to hit someone else, and Arcstrider for Hunters offers up fancy nonsense involving a glowing blue staff. It’s always fancy nonsense for Hunters.
PvP takes place in The Crucible and spans a wide range of modes. Some are always available and some are only around for limited times and have unusual requirements or restrictions/boosts. In the original there are another tier of PvP modes – Iron Banner is monthly-ish and you can earn special loot, there was also a Sparrow Racing League and there’s a hardcore elimination-style thing called Trials of Osiris. It sounds like Bungie want to keep that basic variety so there’s at least one mode each player will want to play but they’ve been reworking how it fits together.
It sounds like all PvP in the Crucible is going to be set up as 4v4 instead of the variable team sizes of the earlier game. That’s good in that you don’t need to add or drop people if you fancy changing modes during a session. I’m wondering whether Trials of Osiris falls into that bracket? Theoretically it could but Trials is a 3v3 mode with a bunch of specific requirements that ramp up the difficulty and sort of gate access because you needed a group and an access pass and it’s only available a few days each week. Bungie mentioned Trials as a thing that would exist in Destiny 2 but I’m wondering if that will be an exception to the 4v4 rule because it feels like it was so finely balanced around 3 that 4 would make it a significantly different experience. That said, they might have overhauled the whole thing and made it something different.
Another change is that instead of needing to keep mental track of big PvP milestones, like who of the enemy team has their super ability charged, or who picked up the limited supplies of heavy weapon ammo and is thus a greater threat, you’ll get that info on your HUD. Part of me is inches away from screaming “GIT GUD NUB NUB!” and “IN MY DAY WE HAD TO REMEMBER THAT STUFF BY HAND!” But Bungie are banging on about things being easy to pick up and hard to master. Bloody annoying to people like me whose mastery extended as far as the thing which is now default info for everyone if you ask me!
They also mention an attack/defend mode called Countdown. I assume it’s a word game with a few number rounds thrown in at intervals. Or I suppose it might be a vaguely Counter-Strikey mode about setting charges and killing other Guardians if you want to watch this video:
This is the one causing a lot of feather-ruffling. Think of it as Bungie’s way of bringing LFG (looking for group) queries into the main game rather than leaving them as the domain of subreddits and dedicated third party forums/apps. It combines with an attempt to make matchmaking a bit less awful.
The idea is the if you’re a member of a clan you can use that as a kind of second friend list in order to find people for raids who are of a similar gaming bent to you. If you aren’t you can see which clans are up for raids as well as a little bit about them – a short bio, for example – which would theoretically give you an idea of how friendly they might be to play with and what they prioritise.
Their vision is that solo players will be taking less of a gamble when they join a group to attempt a raid or a strike or something, and that players who are already partied up to some degree can easily fill any remaining slots.
That’s the plan. I believe that that’s how Bungie want it to work and I hope that’s how they get it to work because otherwise as a solo player who is nervy about joining up with randos you can end up missing a huge chunk of content and loot.
I do have reservations, though. What they showed of the system sort of relied on the clans giving accurate or flavourful information in their short bio to let solo players know if they wanted to play with them. I can imagine it being far more of a lottery in real life (although I guess Bungie could also get players to rate groups on competitiveness or helpfulness which could add another dimension to sorting through clans). They also haven’t revealed enough about the system to know if it factors in things like whether you’re happy to be on voice with strangers. I’m not. I get really nervous, not least because I have a very obviously female voice and that can end up in some very uncomfy places online.
So…. cautiously optimistic but assuming third party hubs might need to make up for shortcomings?
We are living in a golden age of big-budget PC games that offer us choice and freedom. Be they descendants of the System Shock model – finding a route around a meticulously-crafted, locked-down and hostile place, most recently seen in Prey [official site] – or the roleplaying games based around choice and consequence rather than action alone, they are legion. There are so many, even, that I’m not sure we can fully appreciate how good we’ve got it.
So spoilt for choice, we fall inevitably into gripes about lesser failings or delay our purchases until a steep discount. Understandably so, when we have gigabytes of existent delights clogging the extra hard drives we’ve had to buy to contain all these things.
Where once I flocked urgently to even the faintest promise of what was once called an immersive sim or a cRPG, nowadays glossy, multi-million-dollar descendants of those concepts seem to arrive so regularly that making time in our lives or leeway in our bank accounts for them is a significant challenge. Sometimes, an impossible one.
What a time to be alive and with a computer in the house. We should not take this golden age for granted.
PC games in general are in particularly rude health right now, but I’m talking specifically about games in which you choose your path and your playstyle. Even that falls into two distinct categories: the Ubilikes, sandboxes in which you choose who to kill, in what order and with which weapons, and the Shocklikes, those with more constructed, almost puzzlebox worlds of bespoke challenges with multiple solutions, their emphasis more on finding your way around than on violence.
It is this latter that I feel we may be taking for granted. The former, with its Arkhams and its Mordors and its guerrilla-strewn tropical islands (and even its Zeldas, now), is so wildly popular that I have no fears for its health. Killing a lot of things in a wide-open space (and invariably being rewarded with points for it) is going to be a mainstay of videogames for many years to come.
Games about finding one of multiple possible paths into locked-down spaces in rich, detailed worlds can never be so ten-a-penny. They are an inherently harder sell to a twitchy crowd and, with the greatest of respect and reverence for the skill required to create a Ubilike, this other sort requires a particular degree of master-crafting to get right. The extreme delicacy required to build a world that feels real, and that creates a compulsion to explore every corner on it, then balance that with solid combat and storytelling and characterisation is exactly why minor or major failures within a game like this can feel so jarring.
That’s exactly why I can end up being so very picky about a Shocklike or RPG; hung up on minor foibles, failing to appreciate quite how many plates this thing is spinning in order to entertain me.
Coupled with the certainty that another one will be along soon, that is also why I can end up leaving Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Dishonored 2 unfinished. Where once I would have persevered regardless – those game-breaking bugs and countless rough edges in Vampire: Bloodlines didn’t stop me, for instance – the modern belief that a game like that is no longer a rare and precious commodity means I feel safe to eject early. Perhaps because I don’t enjoy the characterisation, or some new area isn’t compelling, or the overall familiarity is a bit of a drag.
So I hang on for the next one instead, or tell myself that this is only a brief abandonment, leave it on my hard drive for years, never buy the DLC, never give a real vote of confidence in wanting more.
What a thing it is to live in a world where we’ve had a new Deus Ex, a new Dishonored, a new Hitman, Prey, The Witcher 3, even Mass Effect: Andromeda, for all its stumbles, all within the space of a couple of years. I’m sure there are more still, but I struggle to recall them all because they seem to arrive and then pass by so quickly. It has been a delight: so many happy hours of hacking and sneaking and lockpicking and deciphering and negotiating and choosing who to be, where to go and how to do it. And, yes, who to kill and how, or who to choke or taser into unconsciousness, or who to avoid entirely.
There have been successes and there have been failures. There have been games with extraordinary fidelity of world-building, and games which rely more on wide-open spaces and routine combat. There have been games I have lost myself to for weeks, and games I felt I was skating around the edges of, waiting for a moment of connection that never came.
I often whinge at the time (and it is my job to do so, in fairness), but really I am grateful for them all, glad that these concepts continue to be explored. That someone tries this hard to make the biggest budget games more than just various different remixes of the shooting gallery concept.
The firms behind them could be creating more military shooters or zombie survival games or cynically microtransacted horrors instead. The developers make these games because they want to make these games (and though they might sometimes get it wrong, I always appreciate the attempt). The publishers commission to make these games because they believe that people will buy them.
What happens if they don’t, or not in sufficient numbers, or they wait too long for sales or for experiments to complete? Then Square-Enix abandons its planned second series of Hitman (and even wants to offload the developer), the Deus Ex series grinds to an indefinite halt, the Mass Effect franchise is put on ice.
Sure, we can name credible reasons for some of those, but is this the trend we want? If it doesn’t work out then it’s killed off? How safe are we to presume that there’ll be something else with similar ambitions along before too long? Will we still be happily drowning in Games Like These in the years to come if publishers lose their financial faith in them?
Clearly, we must exercise discretion. I’m not saying buy a relative stinker like Mass Effect Andromeda for the sake of Supporting The Cause, but if we’re avoiding or putting off almost everything because of bet-hedging, be it concerns about quality or cost, we’re going to have the rug pulled out from under us before too long.
From afar – and I might be wrong here – it looks a little like Dishonored 2 and Prey have not been the smash hits they might have been expected – or required – to be. I do worry. Will we see Arkane make more games like them, or will they be tasked with making straight shooters, more like the Dooms and Wolfensteins and even Fallouts that have been more reliable cash-cows for their parent firm?
Not so long ago, it seemed every publisher was trying to make its own Call of Duty. We didn’t know how good it was going to get a few short years later. I don’t want this time to end. I want Hitman season 2, I want Prey 2 (2), I want Dishonored 3, I want another Deus Ex (albeit Jensen-free), I want to see how that Warren Spector-helmed System Shock 3 pans out, I want things I’ve never heard of but which are all about finding a way into that locked place by hook or by crook.
I don’t want to be simply choosing whether I kill the baddies with that gun or this knife, or grinding animal skins to unlock ammo pouches, or just more cod-parkour in some fantastical environment. I enjoy all those things too, but I don’t want only those things, and sometimes the trend seems to be going the way. I don’t want this current time to end. I want to keep living in a world where something with a little bit of Shock or Black Isle in its blood is only a few months away.
This greed I am guilty of is what makes us take these games for granted, to think it’s OK to put off Dishonored 2 for months or not bother with Hitman until the series completes (by which point it’s old news). I say: enjoy these times, appreciate these times. Whether or not they last, whether or not they come again, they are here now, and not so long that did not seem at all likely.
Virtual rabbits across Second Life [official site] will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, now that the their digital food supply has been shut down by a legal battle. The player-made and player-sold Ozimals brand of digirabbits are virtual pets that players breed and care for in the sandbox MMO, and even need to feed by buying DRM-protected virtual food. But they rely on servers. Waypoint reported earlier today that the seller of Ozimals and the Pufflings virtuabirds has received a legal threat he says he cannot afford to fight, so they’ve shut down. By Saturday, rabbits will run out of food and enter hibernation.
The rabbits aren’t dead, they’re sleeping. They simply can never wake up.
The ‘breedables‘ craze, which Ozimals played a big role in, may have peaked a while back but a lot of virtual animals still exist. Well, for now. If digirabbits can’t eat, they enter ‘hibernation’ after 72 hours and will only wake up when fed again. Ozimals need to check in with servers but these shut down on Wednesday, so no rabbits can be fed. Even players who’ve bought a big supply of food will find their rabbits, er, very still forever. I’ve read that some are already gone.
At least the Ozimals’ birdy cousins, the Pufflings, had a swift death. They shut down instantly on Wednesday when the servers went down, while rabbits hold on with the food in their cyberbellies.
Ozimals did give rabbit owners a brief chance to save their rabbits. Before shutting down, they gave away items which make rabbits not need food – and leaves them sterile. Some rabbits will live on forever, the last of their kind. If you wish that fate upon your rabbit, apparently some kindly players have a stash you’re welcome to.
That’s a fun/tragic and quirky story about Second Life, isn’t it? That ol’ wild frontier of cyberspace. For a while, Second Life and EVE were shoulder-to-shoulder at one exciting experimental edge of digital societies. EVE Online had the intrigue and the murder, and Second Life had the creativity and the sex. But as much as people like to place dollar values on EVE battles, Second Life has always been the one with serious money riding on it. And the
death big sleep of these rabbit is a business story.
Ozimals and Pufflings overlord ‘Malkavyn Eldritch’ said in Tuesday’s blog post:
“At 8:00 am on Monday, May 15, 2017, I received a Cease and Desist letter from legal counsel representing Edward Distelhurst and Akimeta Ltd. This letter demands that I cease all use of Ozimals intellectual property.
“I don’t personally agree with this claim, but I do not have the means to fight this in court, therefore I have no choice but to comply.”
And that’s it. The Ozimals business is gone, its site is deleted, Pufflings are inert, rabbits will soon follow unless cursed with immortality, and all money spent is gone.
What kind of monster would use lawyers to murder virtual rabbits? Well!
“We feel that because they have named us by our real life entities, and identities, they have willfully made us a target of their communities’ understandably upset feelings,” Distelhurst and Akimeta say in a public letter, going on to tell their sides of the story.
Akimeta’s side is fairly simple. In 2009 and 2010, Akhmeta made models and textures for rabbits, accessories, and other bits and pieces they licensed to the company Ozimals LLC. Akhmeta say that Ozimals the company was dissolved last year but the person currently running Ozimals the game has kept using their work and that’s not covered by the old license. Simple!
Edward Distelhurst’s story is messier. A programmer who worked on the game, he has been in a legal battle for six years over alleged unpaid royalties. It’s a tale including multiple settlements, a court order for Ozimals to sell their second house to cover debts, Ozimals’ legal battle with the makers of virtual horses, Distelhurst receiving a majority share after Ozimals don’t sell the house, and… it’s quite the read.
Eldritch, Akimeta, and Distelhurst are obviously telling their own stories. I’m not saying who’s right and who’s wrong. But mate, if you think Internet spaceships are serious business – they’ve got nothing on Internet rabbits.
Bruce Foxton’s War In The West is rising in the east and, as Gary Gilmore’s Eyes Over Azerbaijan begins to blink, the telegraph taps out this week’s missive from HQ. Roman, as ever, is lurking in the wardrobe with a wicked smile. Wait. Hang on. The cheek of it!
What are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’re clicking on.
But you, dearest reader, what are you playing?