You might have missed the bulletin last week, so we’re back with a bulletin filled with two weeks worth of gaming news, mostly about Valheim (just kidding, but there is a lot)! In this week’s bulletin we discuss: Crusader Kings III, Valheim, Hades winning at the Gayming Awards, ink version 1.0, Pieter van den Heede on WW2 in video games, Temples & Tombs, Blood Feud, Techland’s bad management and Humankind’s modding tools!

Crusader Kings III & Paradox

Over the past weeks, a couple of things happened to our favorite Medieval Facebook Simulator, Crusader Kings III. First of all, 2020 was the best year ever for Paradox, in regards of revenue (gamesindustry.biz). It reported a 39% increase of revenue, reaching $216 million. The success of CKIII surely contributed to that, although the costs for both CKIII and Empire of Sin were larger in the last quarter of the year.

Getting that economic stuff out of the way: CKIII will receive its first big DLC drop in the coming month, and with a DLC drop also comes some free updates for all! And this time, the beloved Poetry from CKII will return. But now, you can actually use your poetry to torture your prisoners (Eurogamer). How wonderful (/s)! CKIII never ceases to amaze us.

Image: Paradox Interactive

As a final bit on CKIII, look out for the upcoming game Star Dynasties. It is basically CKIII, but in space (according to Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett). So if you like space, but also want to play a Medieval Facebook Simulator, this game might be one to check out! It will launch into early access in two weeks time. Not looking for a new game, but still want space? You could also check out this mod, which is a very nice space rework of CKII!

Video: Iceberg Interactive

Hades wins Game of the Year at Gayming Awards

At the inaugural Gayming Awards, the very awesome roguelike Hades has won the Game of the Year Title (Gamesindustry.biz)! The dungeon runner was snubbed at the Game Awards by The Last of Us II (which was critiqued because of the heavy crunch involved in that game), but this time that wasn’t going to happen! Both the public and the judges panel chose the game as the GOTY. The Gayming Awards were first held this year, and were specifically meant to celebrate all things great about LGBTQ video gaming. Read more on the awards, and all the other winners here!

Image: the Gayming Awards 2021

ink version 1.0 release!

Do you love narrative games like Pendragon and 80 Days? Well, you can now make your own with the release of inkle studio’s ink 1.0 open-source scripting language! With this amazing tool, you can now get to work on creating your own beautiful narrative games. Check out a talk at GDC on how to write narrative games below. Download the tool here.

Video: GDC

Valheim, we love it!

Would it be a bulletin if we didn’t mention Valheim? Of course not! We’ll start of with the numbers: as of this week, 5 million people have bought Valheim. That means 1 million players for every member of the dev team, as well as more than 1 million new vikings every week since its launch a month ago (we know, that’s ludicrous). Furthermore, the amazing game has been played over 15,000 years in total, 35 million hours of gameplay have been watched on Twitch (we contributed to that!) and the game is now the 39th best reviewed game on Steam. Amazing numbers all around.

But, why is Valheim such an unmitigated success? According to our own Doc Random, it will eventually overtake Valhalla (now that’s a hot take). According to Eurogamer’s Emma Kent, Valheim excells in it’s cosiness, co-operation and small huts. With the small co-operation based multiplayer, it brings you closer to your friends. We have been playing tonnes on our VALUEheim server, and having many hours of fun. Just as much fun as the ‘Viking Space Race’, where people are trying to yeet vikings into space (PC Gamer).

Video: VALUE Plays Valheim

Where many survival games alike have less co-op, or are more focussed around PvP combat, Valheim is changing the way we play survival games, according to WIRED. The game used to be PvP-based, but after comments in the early stages of development, the team switched to PvE instead, and that seems to have been a golden ticket! However, these entities can still be deadly (we found that out the hard way). In between building world wonders (Mausoleum Of Trollicarnassus coming up), we’re gearing up for fighting the third boss Bonemass. And we do plenty of dying. But do not despair if you die somewhere far away: the Body Recovery Squad (Eurogamer) is here to help! A community in Discord, you can ask the members of the squad to help you retrieve your gravestone somewhere from the fringes of the world. How amazingly Viking is that?

Image: our beautiful VALUEheim village

Pieter van den Heede: gaming in the classroom

Well, that was a lot of viking action. As a small pallet cleanser, you can now listen to an interview with Pieter van den Heede, who has just recently finished his doctoral research about WW2 in video games. He joined the radio program OVT from the VPRO and talked about how WW2 is presented in video games. It is in Dutch, but still very interesting. Listen to it here.

Temples & Tombs, Blood Feud Kickstarters

Here’s some role-playing RPG’s to look out for: Temples & Tombs and Blood Feud. Both being tabletops, and both being on Kickstarter (although Blood Feud is already past it’s backing date). The former game is one for those who love pulp-archaeology (like Indiana Jones). Based on the Year Zero Engine system, it’s determined to recreate the fast paced adventures of popular pulp! Blood Feud is a different game, and focusses around toxic masculinity. But it’s also about the vikings of pre-christian Scandinavia! It’s goal is not to create a toxic mess of men, but to ‘encourage critical discussions about how men behave, and why.’ Even though the pledging period has passed, you can still support the game (by sharing) and wait until you can buy it yourself!

Image: Blood Feud

Techland is bleeding talent due to autocratic management

The way the development of games is managed is very important. Not only for the actual devs working on the game, but also for the final end product. 2020 saw some critiques of the absolutely horrid ‘cunch-culture’ at some studios (Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us II both had massive crunches). Supergiant showed how it could be done, and created Hades without any crunch (which won awards, see above). However, it seems bad management is lurking around the corner at more studios. Techland, the studio behind games such as Dying Light 2 and Call of Juarez is bleeding talent. Many well skilled and talented devs are leaving the company because feedback from their bosses is bad. Very bad. Devs were told ‘It’s shit’ a feedback. Not very constructive if you ask me. According to some ex-employees, this style of bad feedback and bad leadership goes all the way to the top. Bad culture at studios seems to be in the news more and more, so let us hope that it will all change for the better. Read more on The Gamer.

Humankind will have modding tools

Amplitude are planning to add modding tools to the upcoming 4X Humankind. The devs gave a short view at what they are planning, and it is going to make modder’s lives much easier. We will have the same tools the devs have, so you no longer have to dig in the game files to change stuff! This not only entails in-game values, but also localization, 3D and 2D assets, AI code and maps. Amplitude said it will not be ready at launch (April 22nd), so we have to wait until we get to play with the gamefiles ourselves. Read more on Rock Paper Shotgun. I’m still on the fence if Humankind will be a succes, mainly due to the boring combat (like Doc Random and I discuss in the stream below), but we will have to wait and see.

Video: VALUE

Omar ‘oomzer’ Bugter is a recently graduated Cultural Historian from Utrecht University. Since interning at VALUE, he’s stuck around, mainly working on the Interactive Pasts website and the weekly streams. He wrote a thesis on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI and mods, so knows this game very well. He likes many other games, including F1 2020, Hearts of Iron, Mount & Blade and Crusader Kings III. He’s also still looking for a job, so tweet to him at @oomzer if you want to know anything about Civ or have a job for him.