In this week’s bulletin, we discuss projects which play with the past, theme parks with ‘historical’ narratives, Age of Empires II, Minecraft Sustainability, King Arthur: A Knight’s Tale, Imperator: Rome 2.0, Bucket of Bolts, VALUE in de Volkskrant, Mass Effect’s data corruption, Valheim and a call of papers by NASTA!

Playing with the Past projects!

The past weeks saw the start of some pretty cool playing with the past projects. First off, the Playing in the Past project is back in 2021, with six episodes on Assassin’s Creed: Origins. The first episode was yesterday (4th of February), but when you missed out don’t worry, there is plenty more to come! Check out the entire schedule here.

In other playing with the past news, the Past at Play Lab is now up and running. A project run by Sybille Lammes and our own Angus Mol and Ymir Politopoulos, the Past at Play lab is an experimental playspace where you can play ancient games whilst the researchers do their researching. Check out more on this website!

Blackpool ‘alien’ theme park & Disney updates a ride

The council of Blackpool has approved the build of a ‘Chariot of the Gods’ themed park. For those of you who don’t know Chariot of the Gods, it is basically the Ancient Aliens theory. Originally written in German by Erich von Däniken, it claims that extraterrestrial being influenced ancient technology. Aliens built the pyramids and that nonsense. Think of it what you think, it’s pretty weird if you ask me.

Image: The Jungle Cruise. Courtesy of Kari Rene Hall/LA Times via Getty Images

In some other news regerding theme parks, Disney is (finally) reworking the Jungle Cruise ride in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The ride, which takes passengers through a jungle, was criticized for having colonialist caricatures of ‘natives’. The ‘natives’ were often portrayed as hostile savages, which is prime colonialist talk. Disney has decided to replace the ‘natives’ with animals. Lets hope more theme parks will follow this example and remov colonialist caricatures from their rides. Read more on the Disney case at SF Gate.

More Age of Empires II content!

Even after being released over 21 years ago, Age of Empires II is still getting new content! Although only available for the 2019 Definitive Edition, the new DLC Lords of the West adds two news civilizations, the Burgundians and Sicillians, to play around with, as well as a new campain for the Britons focussed around Edward Longshanks. It’s amazing how a game which now spans four (!) decades, is still being played and updated. Read more on Kotaku.

Minecraft Sustainable City Map

Mojang has released a free sustainability city map that teaches players how to create a sustainable world. The map comes with six lessons in the Edication Edition of Minecraft, but it is also downloadable for free for anyone who owns Minecraft. The map is reflecting Microsoft’s 2030 sustainability goals (without mentioning the company), and serves as a basic tool on how society can reduce its footprint on the planet. Read more on Gizmodo.

Image: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

King Arthur: A Knight’s Tale review

King Arthur: A Knight’s Tale is now out in Early Access on Steam, and that means there are some reviews! Over the past year we’ve seen some other Arthurian/medieval England action (looking at you Pendragon and Valhalla), with some being more successful than ohters. How does A Knight’s Tale live up to this? General concensus in the Steam reviews seems that the game is okay, but not very flushed out (it is still in EA of course). That’s also the opinion of Eurogamers Robert Purchese: ‘There’s time. There’s time for it to fatten with features, and there’s time for it to get the jolt of energy it needs and the whack of charisma it could do with.’ Read Purcheses entire review on Eurogamer, and lets hope more will come to A Knight’s Tale!

Video: Game Clips and Tips

Imperator: Rome 2.0 dropping February 16

We finally have a launch date for the upcoming 2.0 patch of Imperator: Rome! On the 16th of February, the new patch will launch alongside the Heirs of Alexander content pack. The game had a rocky start and was slammed in 2019 for being a bit of a shitty game. But since then, Paradox has improved the game massively. Read more on the new content at PCGamesN.

Bucket of Bolts by Jack Harrison

Jack Harrison of Mousehole Press, the developer of the amazing Artefact, is now creating a new game. Called Bucket of Bolts, it’s a hack of the Artefact game. It is centered around a single space ship, and it story over the years as captains come and go. In contrast to Artefact, where the object is customizable, Bucket of Bolts lets you change the stories of the captains but not the object. You can now fund the project on Kickstarter, but it’s already way over its initial goal!

Video: Jack Harrison / Mousehole Press / Kickstarter

VALUE in a newspaper!

We made it into a newspaper! And not just any newspaper, but the Dutch Newspaper De Volkskrant (one of the larger newspapers of the country). In the article, our own Doc Random is being asked about his (and our) work on playful pasts and the upcoming Streaming the Past project. Unfortunately the article is behind a paywall (and in Dutch obviously), but it should be available in the printed version of the newspaper soon. All I can show you is the amazing pic accompanying the article!

Image: de Volkskrant / Raymond Rutting

Mass Effect’s data corruption

Digital Media have the aura of being invincible to physical corruption: ‘it’s digital, so bad stuff can’t happen to it!’ Mass Effect‘s Pinnacle Station, which was added in the first game, is a good but unfortunate example of how digital media can get corrupted. Developers Demiurge are working on a Legendary Edition for the game, with revamped graphics and all. Unfortunately, the data and source code were corrupted, and there was no way of getting them back. Demiurge stated that it would have been able to recreate everything in its entirity, but that would just be too much effort for the team. Unfortunately, that means that Pinnacle Station was chopped from the new edition. Read more on Mass Effect and digital vunerability on The Verge.

Video: Mass Effect

10 Tips on starting in Valheim

Vikings are kinda hot right now. Valhalla is just a few months old, and co-op survival game Valheim has also just released as an Early Access title. It’s a brutal exploration and survival game, set in a procedurally generated world inspired by Viking culture. And apparently, it’s a pretty rough world. PC Gamer has compiled a list of 10 tips you might need when starting out in Valheim.

Video: Coffee Stain

Call for Papers NASTA

We close this bulletin with a call for papers from NASTA, the Narrative & Storytelling in Archaeology conference organized by students from the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient studies and Archaeology. The conference will be held in April 2021, and they are specifically looking for papers that deal with questions regarding narratives surrounding archaeological finds and representations of the past. Read more on the NASTA page!