Before we discuss any game related news, we want to share some of the thoughts and messages of POC we have been reading, and open up our platform for POC who want to share their thoughts about history, games, and systemic racism. We further discuss artifacts of play, 10+ lessons from Mobile 4X games, Valhalla’s ‘Hidden Blade’, the Total War Saga; Troy exclusive and the decreased spawn rates in Pokémon on tragic anniversaries.

We stand with POC

These days, we must have an important and righteous reaction to institutionalized racism, globally and in particular in the USA. While some gamers and developers would prefer to keep politics out of their games, it is important we understand and highlight that they too are shaped by and at the front of the fight against systemic racism. This is even more the case when they are games that draw on the same pasts that have produced these systemic and inhuman inequalities. This is why we want to use this place to highlight some of the thoughts and messages by POC we have been reading and taking to heart ourselves:

We firmly believe in amplifying voices of POC and making them heard. This website and our foundation is always open for POC to share their thoughts about history, games, and systemic racism.

Developing ‘Artifacts of Play’ for Tabletops

You might have seen our livestream of tabletop RPG ARTEFACT a few weeks ago. Beside the in-game artifact, the playing of a game also creates so called ‘artifacts of play’. That are things made by the game as you play. Kathryn Hymess had a digital talk for GDC (Game Developers Conference) on exactly this. She talks in depth on how games use ‘artifacts of play’, and how they can make the experience of a game much more immersive and impactful. Watch her talk below!

Video: GDC

10+ Lessons for Mobile 4X Strategy

We are big fans of 4X games. While we mostly focus on PC-based 4X’ such as Civilization and Old World (watch our streams!), there is an entire world of mobile 4X strategy games out there (which you might know from the annoying YouTube ads). David Chung has written a feature on Gamasutra on the history and development of mobile 4X games, and what we can learn from that. He delves deeper into some of the most profitable mobile 4X, such as Clash of Kings and Lords Mobile. It is a very interesting read for those who like me never play mobile 4X! Read it here!

Video: Cinematic of Rise of Kingdoms

AC: Valhalla’s ‘hidden blade’

More news on Valhalla! Some eagle eyed viewers noticed that Eivor (Valhalla‘s protagonist) carries the hidden blade on the outside of the arm, instead of the usual inside. This is breaking with the Assassin’s tradition, but it’s no mistake by Ubisoft! Darby McDevitt, the game’s Narrative Director explained the reason behind the unusual hidden blade: Viking Honor! The Vikings wanted to let everyone know they killed someone, and sneakily killing them would be frowned upon. What do you think: a break with tradition or a interesting change?

Total War Saga: Troy Epic Games exclusive (and free!)

Creative Assembly has announced that the latest entry in the Total War franchise, A Total War Saga: Troy, will be an Epic Games exclusive for a year. It will be released on the 13th of August this year, and will only be available through the Epic Games Store for the first year. Even more exiting: the game will be free for those who claim it within the first 24 hours of release (like, forever free to keep, not just for a limited time)! Set you alarm clocks! According to The Escapist, it will be the only exclusive title of the franchise, so no worries for future Epic-only deals! Watch the trailer below or read more on The Escapist!

Video: Total War

Classical Pokémon games spawn fewer monsters on tragic anniversaries

Leaks of the Pokémon source code have been reported on throughout 2020. The leaks made it possible for some hackers and speedrunners to dive deeper into the inner workings of 2006 classics Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Speedrunner @shinyhunter_map found out that certain spawn rates change depending on the day. On January 12th, the birthday of Junichi Masuda (Pokémon developer), eggs hatch 10% faster. More spawn rates are also affected, as spawn rates of monsters drop by 10% on tragic anniversaries such as 9/11 and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (6th and 9th of August). Polygon compiled all findings by @shinyhunter_map, but could not independantly confirm the existance of such code. However, speedrunner and hacker Orcastraw did back up the findinds. Polygon also reached out to Nintendo, but have received no answer as of yet. Read more on Polygon!

Female leaders in 4X: Civilization II

In new 4X games such as Civ VI, there is only one leader for a civlization (and most of them are men). However, this is not only historically inaccurate (as there were many female leaders in the hisotyr of the world), it is also unrealistic: there is no way one person can lead an entire nation on their own. While Sophie Schmidt and Tine Rassalle were busy writing a paper on female representation in 4X games, Sophie came to an easy but perfect solution: have two leaders per nation, one male, one female, just like in Civilization II! Also, Sophie suggests giving male leaders a queen at their side with some powers, as babysteps towards a more inclusive representation of history! Read Sophie’s argument here!