In this week’s bulletin, we discuss Monster Hunter Rise, Humankind’s diplomacy, EU4 Leviathan Expansion, AC Narrative Director Darby McDevitt leaving Ubisoft, Sony’s responsibility to preserve gaming history, the HeritageJam 2021, AGON on Roll20 and the Architecture Critic on Control! Again no Valheim, but I’ve made our Temple of Trollemis the cover image!

Monster Hunter Rise: a blend of Japanese Feudal Culture

Last year saw Ghost of Tsushima dip its toes into Japanese Feudal Culture. Whereas the devs weren’t from Japan (and that was a point of discussion), the new Nintendo Switch title Monster Hunter Rise is made by a Japanese team (from Capcom) and also takes inspiration in the Japanese Feudal Culture. The game includes culture and cuisine from the feudal era, but also features monsters inspired by Japanese folklore. WIRED’s George Yang wrote a feature on the game, where he also consulted with the game’s director Yasunori Ichinose. Aside from talking about the culture and folklore, Ichinose also makes a (bold) statement: with the generally favorable reviews of both Ghost of Tsushima and Nioh 2, and the rise of the entire Monser Hunter series, it seems like games inspired by and based on Japanese (feudal) culture and folklore could become an entire genre on their own! Read the entire piece on WIRED.

Video: Capcom Europe

Humankind’s diplomacy

I’m not talking about real life diplomacy, but about Amplitude’s upcomg 4x title Humankind of course. Last week saw the game being delayed until August (Kotaku), with the studio claiming it needed more time to refine certain mechanics and work with player imput. Diplomacy was one of the areas where players had comments. Even though they liked the expanded system, some found it too complicated and hard to grasp. As diplomacy is often one of the hardest things to simualte in games (as AI generally doesn’t behave the same way like humans do), it’s a quite difficult task to get it just right. In the video by GamesRadar below, you can see some of the developers explain the diplomacy in their game a bit more. Even though I’m still really on the fence about Humankind, I feel an expanded diplomacy could be a good step forward for the game (and genre as a whole).

Video: GamesRadar

Europa Universalis 4’s Leviathan expansion release date

Yeah, EU4 is getting another expansion. Called Leviathan, it will be launched April 27. Being the 17th major expansion (!) Leviathan will expand the game along the lines of diplomacy and economy to give more options to victory (instead of the usual warmongering). The DLC will set you back about €20, it will also be included in Paradox new subscription seervice, where you gain access to all DLC for about €5 a month (which is a good deal, as you can play 73 months of EU4 until you have reached a break-even point with the costs of all DLC). Read more on the upcoming expansion on Eurogamer.

Video: Paradox Interactive

Assassin’s Creed Narrative Boss Darby McDevitt leaving Ubisoft

Narrative Director of the Assassin’s Creed series Darby McDevitt has announced he has left Ubisoft Montreal last week after a tenure of over 10 years at the company (Eurogamer). Since joining the team during the time of Assassin’s Creed II, McDevitt has worked on multiple games and has expanded the lore and narrative of the AC games. He worked as lead writer on both Revelations (after which he also created the short film Embers about the final days of Ezio Auditore da Firenze) and Black Flag, and also contributed to Unity and Origins. McDevitt now works as a Narrative Director at iLLOGIKA, a (smaller) Montreal based indie studio (which worked on Cuphead and other smashing games).

Sony has the responsibility to preserve it’s gaming history

The preservation of gaming history is featured in this bulletin from time to time. Especially the early days of gaming seem to suffer when it comes to preservartion, as a while back was estimated that about 90% of pre-2000 games and corresponding documentation was already lost forever. In the light of suggestions and rumours that Sony is shutting down (gamesindustry.biz) the PS3, PSP and PS Vita stores all at once, Rob Fahey wrote a opinion piece on gamesindustry.biz that Sony should take responsibility in preserving this era of gaming, even if it is not commercially worthwhile: ‘It should do it in part to live up to its responsibility to the medium upon which it thrives, and in part to create a broader halo around the PlayStation platform that firmly cements its position at the heart of gaming history.’ Fahey hits the nail on the head in stating that Sony needs to take responsibiltiy in preserving a certain era of gaming, especially to prevent it from being lost in the future. Read Fahey’s entire piece on gamesindustry.biz here!

HeritageJam 2021 is a go!

Over the month of April, you can send in submissions to 2021’s HeritageJam! This years theme is ‘sensation’: what does ‘sensation’ mean to you in terms of heritage, history, and archaeology, as we approach another summer? You can sign up through this website, either alone or as part of a team! Submissions can be sent in both in English and French, and winning entries will be published in Epoiesen: A Journal for Creative Engagement in History and Archaeology! Check out more here.

Mythopoetic RPG AGON on Roll20

If you’re into (digital) tabletops and love some mythological RPG tabletops, you might want to check out the new mythic bundle AGON for the digital tabletop service Roll20. The bundle brings all features of the 2019 title into one digital service. AGON features a digital tabletop experience, with new rules, maps, tokens and character sheets. It revolves around a story of Greek heroes, and ‘Their ultimate fate is shaped by the deeds and accomplishments of their life, and both collaboration and competition between players is encouraged.’ Read more on AGON on Dicebreaker.

Video: Actual Play

Architecture Critic on Control

To finish off this bulletin just a little plug of a very good analytic YouTube Channel called Extra Office. If you liked TimesnewRoman’s videos on Imperator, you might also like the videos by Extra Office, where Ryan Scavnicky analyses architecture in games. The latest episode deals with Control, an award-winning action-adventure game. Ryan’s analysis is thorough and compelling. Definitely a watch worth while!

Video: Extra Office

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.