In this weeks bulletin we talk a lot about Crusader Kings III, some more about Sid Meier’s Memoir, the Neo Geo Holy Grail, War Mongrels, The Garden Of Earthly Delights, the new Xbox, some more Blathers of Animal Crossing and free games!
Crusader Kings III overview
We cannot have a bulletin without talking about Crusader Kings III. The game is taking the internet by storm, so here is a longer piece on all the stuff about CK3. We’ve been playing it all week, and have been streaming it as well. Do you already have the game but don’t know where (or how) to start? Check this list of interesting rulers Strategy Gamer compiled. Like all other Paradox games, it takes a while to get in to, so you better start putting in some hours!
However, if you’re unucky and live in Australia, you haven’t had the opportunity to play the game for that long. The classification board outright refused (Rock Paper Shotgun) to give the game an age rating. Without a rating, a game cannot be released. It is not the first time the board delayed the release of games in Australia, as Life is Strange 2 was also barred from sales. Fortunately, the board finally rated the game MA15+, meaning that the game can be bought by anyone over 15, and cannot legally be played by people under 15 without supervision.
Because the game has a quite dedicated fan-base (like any Paradox game), people have been digging in the game files and the debug screen. And something shocking came up: there’s a lot of bastards in the game (Eurogamer). And I’m not talking about not so nice people (which there are also plenty), but illegitemate children. Players have been guessing at the cause of this abundance of adultery, but have not been able to find a definitve reason. Some suggest it is down to the ease at which players can seduce other rulers (and of which interactions illegitemate children are born). Others say it’s down to the game actually overriding the ‘real’ father, and having illegitemate offspring whilst it is actually not. However, the real cause is yet still unknown. What is known is that the rate of adultery is way too high for the time period: even though adultery and illegitemate children definitely existed in the Middle Ages, and were quite common, the rampant numbers is CK3 suggest something is off.
Unfortunately, it is not all good news. With the release of CK3 it also became apperant that Paradox had been treating their employees quite badly. Especially the department of Quality Assurance, from which people are claiming that Paradox had severely underpaid (Kotaku) them, before being laid off all together. Rock Paper Shotgun dove deeper into Paradox’ employee problem, as it is not the first time these conderns were voiced. The company grew explosively over the past couple of years, and it seems that even in Sweden (a country which is known for quite good conditions for workers and unionization of employees), Paradox were being the bad people. Probably more news to come in the coming weeks (unfortunately).
Sid Meier’s Memoir
CK3 wasn’t the only item ruling the airwaves this week. You might have heard it already (seen as though it was featured in the previous two bulletins), but Sid Meier has written his memoirs. And they’re finally out in the world! Everyone can now read (Bloomberg) how the godfather of 4X games came up with the idea of Civilization, or how it was altered to also work on console (Ars Technica). There are many items you can read, such as this interesting piece on Independent were Sid claims he would never have played Civ if it was released today. According to him, players to day lack the willingness to play a game hour after hour just to get good at it (he clearly missed the briefing on Paradox games however). Don’t want to read about Sid but do want to know more? Check out the interview/signing session below, where Sid answers some very interesting questions about his journey as game developer!
The gaming archeologist in search of the Neo Geo Holy Grail
Those who know a bit more about game history might recognize the Neo Geo arcade machine by SNK. The Japanese arcade machine was meant to rival Capcom’s arcades (and it did on certain levels). Historian Brandon Sheffield was researching the history of the machine for SNK’s 40th Anniversary Collection, and came across an amazing warehouse somewhere in Japan which housed all the machinery and games SNK had ever created. Eurogamer had an interview with Brandon, where he tells about the amazing story of his search for the holy grail of Neo Geo machines, but also how a single man has been collecting the entire history of Japanese arcade games and machines since the 1970’s! Defintely a very interesting read.
War Mongrels: brutal WW2 RTT
Those who know a bit of World War Two history probably know about the horrors of the Eastern Front. Soldiers from both sides (and civillians) suffered hugely throughout the war on the Eastern Front. However, this suffering is often not depicted in video games. War Mongrels changes that. The real time tactics game focusses on two German deserters who try to escape the horrors. Whilst flaunting intricate tactical gameplay, the game also focusses on stories and historical events. The game is set to be released somewhere in 2021, but a snippet of gameplay has already been released by the developers Destructive Creations. You can check the footage below, or read more on PC Gamer.
The Garden Of Earthly Delights turns Age Of Empires into an animal chatroom
Yes, you read that right. A chatroom for the animals in Age of Empires II. It is created by SCRNPRNT, who’ve done similar funky stuff with Counter-Strike. In a fascimile of Jeroen Bosch’ famous The Garden of Earthly Delights, players in the chatroom can disengage from the violent nature of Age of Empires, and turn to the more enviromental side of the world. The chatroom is accesible through the browser (for free), and will be accompanied by a piece on enviroments in video games later on this month. You can also check out this piece by Natalie Clayton of Rock Paper Shotgun on the funky animal chatroom!
Xbox Series S & X launch date and price!
Not very history related but very important nonetheless: the new Xbox will launch November 10th! Aside from giving us a launch date, Xbox has also announced the prices for their new consoles. Yes consoles: they’re releasing two versions of the new console: the Series S and Series X. The former series is created from the belief that next-gen gaming should be accessible for everyone: the prices of next-gen consoles can rise through the roof, and not everyone can pay the $499 for the ‘beefy’ version of the console. Aside from that, many people pay for features (like 4K) which they cannot use (for example by not having a 4K monitor). The Series S will be a slimmed down version of the Series X, being sold for $299 (so that’s $200 less), whilst still retaining the qualities of next-gen gaming (and being the smallest Xbox ever). Xbox is also launching Xbox All Access, a paid service which will provide you with the console, but also with over 100 games to play from Xbox own service, but also a membership of EA Play, which grants you access to the 60 biggest EA titles. Depending on the console, it will cost either $24,99 or $34,99 a month (depending on the amount of access you get it can get more expensive). In short: Xbox recognizes that gaming should be more accessible (especially in these times) and made sure to create a more financially friendly next-gen console (as you might notice, I really like this move from Xbox). The question remains: how will Playstation respond?
Community led museum in Animal Crossing
Yes, another piece about the museum in Animal Crossing. And this time it’s not accusing Blathers of unethical museum practices (well it is, but that’s not the point). Alex Fitzpatrick talks on the idea of the museum being community-led instead of being run by specialists. The point: yes, Blathers decides what is shown and what isn’t, but the community (the player) provides the objects and artwork to be shown. In that way, the museum is led by the community. Fitzpatrick argues that real museums can learn something from the way the community contributes to the museum, but does come back to the point that Blathers is still an unethical robber: ‘At some point, though, we should probably talk about Blather’s complicity (as well as the Player Character’s) in the illicit trade of artwork and antiquities…’
Free games on Epic
This week there are some awesome games you can pick up for free on the Epic Store: Where the Water Tastes Like Wine and Railway Empire are free until the 17th of September. The latter is a game about trains (duh) set in 19th Century US. The goal is to connect the entire continent with trains! Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a narrative driven adventure game set in Depression era US (so around the 1930’s). If you like historytelling games, definitely check it out, it won’t dissapoint you!