In this week’s bulletin, we discuss an Assassin’s Creed themed Bionic Arm, 5GDC talks you can watch, Hades GOTY, Age of Empires 4, Nazis in video games, VALUE Lectures, Minecraft Earth, some more Assassin’s Creed, Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Collectors Edition and a 2006 cancelled Tomb Raider Game.

Ubisoft and Limbitless Solutions create Assassin’s Creed themed bionic arm

Those who have played the Assassin’s Creed series know there’s something up with arms in the games. The tool of the assassin tade, the hidden blade, is worn on the arm. In Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, you even get the option of fitting a bionic arm. Staying in those regions, Ubisoft have partnered up with Limbitless Solutions to create a bionic arm, in full AC-style called Bracers of the Underworld. Pretty cool! Check out more on Ubisoft.

Image: Ubisoft / Limbitless Solutions

5 GDC talks you can watch (not during the holidays anymore)

Even though the holidays are already behind us (at least for the most of us), you can still take a look at these 5 talks at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), compiled by Gamasutra. The talks range from more business related topics, such as presenting to a publisher, to a talk about muslim representation in video games and how writer Meghna Jayanth wrote 80 Days, including NPC’s with agency! Check the entire list on Gamasutra.

Hades, Game of the Year?

There have been many discussions, including in this bulletin, about this year’s GOTY. Of course, during the Game Awards, The Last of Us II was crowned as Game of the Year. However, many people, including ourselves, were quick to point out the trouble with TLoUII‘s win, especially considering the crunch it had to go through and the other nominee for the title. Hades was crunchless, and developer Supergiant Games have hammered down on the crunch culture and maintain a healty work-life balance for its employees. Paul Tassi of Forbes looked at this situation, and noticed how Hades got way more GOTY awards than TLoUII, especially from big platforms in the US. Quite weird, as the Game Awards were a real swoop for Naughty Dog. Digging more into the world of Game journalism, Tassi found out that around the world, especially considering smaller outlets, TLoUII did outrank Hades in awards. An interesting conclusion: TLoUII is much more a worldwide GOTY, whilst Hades seems to be confined to specific countries. Read more on Forbes.

Age of Empires 4 in a ‘playable state’

Shannon Loftis, Studio Head for World’s Edge, has shared an end of year update on the Age of Empires series. Of course, this year saw the release of AoE III Definitive Edition, as well as some massive updates for AoE II Definitive Edition. However, more excitingly, Loftis shared their progress on Age of Empires IV, and wrote that they are playing the game every single day! This means development is in full swing and we probably will see some more updates on the game soon. Read more on PC Gamer.

Nazis in video games

A while back, we featured a piece from Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett about how video games portray nazis, or rather, how they don’t. To continue this discussion, you can watch this talk by Manuel Manhard at the Remote Chaos Experience 3, an anarchist technology and hacking conference. It’s quite a long talk, but Manuel touches upon some very important and interesting point, especially about games that hide concrete links to nazism and the symbolism, but are clearly made with those factors in mind (e.g. Wolfenstein). It’s an interesting discussion which we probably will also touch upon in some upcoming streams.

VALUE Lectures

It’s time for some more talks by the VALUE crew! Next week thursday, 14 January, you can check out Dr. Aris ‘Ymir’ Politopoulos’ talk at the DAG (Digital Archaeology Group) Lecture. Ymir will talk about many things, including the Past at Play Lab and Streaming the Past! To get in the mood, you can now also check the video of the talk held at the Theoretical Archaeology Group last year. It’s called ‘Dangerously Fun’, so it must be good!

Video: Recording Archaeology

Mojang is shutting down Minecraft Earth

It’s sad Minecraft news. For those unknown with Minecraft Earth, it’s basically the augmented reality version of Minecraft. The premise is very cool: you walk around the world and do cool Minecraft stuff. Unfortunately, thanks to the current situation in the world, two of it’s cornerstones (free movement and collaborative play) are almost impossible. This means that people can’t really play it safely, and Mojang isn’t making any money off it (and they’re of course not keeping it up to make no money). From June 2021 onwards, the game will not be downloadable or playable anymore. Players who have bought the game will get some cool stuff, and everyone who bought in-game stuff get a free copy of Minecraft. Shame really, but it seems that the timing for Minecraft Earth was just enormously unlucky. Read more on Kotaku.

Image: Mojang

Assassin’s Creed should make smaller maps

So, Valhalla was released last year, and the reactions have been all over the place. Some people really like it, others don’t like how Ubisoft approached the Viking History, and others just don’t like it at all. I’m still unsure if I like it. However, that doesn’t mean we can not think about how the series must go onwards. Cian Maher of The Gamer wrote a feature on AC in the next gen, and actually makes a very good point: instead of focussing on a large and open world, Ubisoft should focus the power of next gen hardware on making a smaller, but interactive and mallable world. Just imagine playing as Ezio in Firenze, but with the ability to interact with everything. You can enter every house during your escape from Templars, you can interact with all the people and the world is much more lively. It’s kinda what they did with Unity, but now with much better hardware.

Video: VALUE playing Valhalla

Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Collectors Edition coming to Kickstarter

Seven years ago, the board game Castles of Mad King Ludwig was released into the world. In short, you are a contractor and try to please the mad king by building castles. For those unknown with Ludwig (probably all), the game references to Ludwig II of Bavaria, a 19th Century King of Bavaria who was responsible for the construction of palaces such as Neuschwanstein. That board game has now been revamped, and a Collectors Edition will be put to Kickstarter. The new edition features new artwork and a larger board. Read more on the edition on Dicebreaker.

Video: Bezier Games

A cancelled 2006 Tomb Raider game is now playable

Back in 2006, a PSP remake of the first game was in development. However, it was also cancelled, even though the game was pretty finished. PC Gamer and Kotaku now report that Tomb Raider fansite Tomb of Ash uploaded the assets of the game to The Internet Archive, along with an instruction to make them playable. In short: you can now play the PSP remake of a Tomb Raider game which was never released!

Video: Roli’s Tomb Raider Channel