It has been a while, but we’re back with a bulletin! It’s not workable to recap everything that happened since the last (real) bulletin, nevertheless, here are some cool items on Half-Life, Company of Heroes 3, War Thunder, Skull & Bones, Red Dead Redemption 2, the Studio Ghibli Museum and Age of Empires 3: the African Royals!

A Half-Life Easter Egg was only found after 20 years

This is just very funny and awesome, YouTuber MarphitimusBlackimus has recently found an Easter Egg in Half-Life: Decay, a 2001 expansion to the original Half-Life for PS2. This one Easter Egg can only be found by slightly modding the game, and tweaking with some settings. The Easter Egg itself: the sparks leaving a computer flash the letters ‘MA’, a reference to Matthew Armstrong, level designer at Gearbox Software at the time. There were many other Easter Eggs in Half-Life, one which only could be found after shooting a corpse 600 times. Read more on the recent discovery and other Easter Eggs on Kotaku.

Video: MarphitimusBlackimus

Company of Heroes 3 announced

Lovers of WW2 themed RTS had to wait for quite some years, but Company of Heroes 3 has finally been announced! It’s announcement also came as a bit of a (pleasant) surprise, as people weren’t really expecting it. The third installment of the series will be themed around the African and Mediterranean conflict in WW2. CoH 3 will expand on existing features, but looking at the trailers, it will also feature lots more urban conflict, something which CoH 2 missed. Read more on Kotaku.

Video: Company of Heroes

War Thunder player leaks classified documents

Staying with the topic of wargaming, a player of WW2 themed vehicle shooter War Thunder has leaked some pretty classified British documents. The game had recently implemented the Challenger 2 tank, which is still in active service in the UK. A user wanted to point out some inaccuracies in the model of the tank, by posting some screenshots of documents on the game’s message board. However, the moderators were in contact with the British Ministry of Defence, and concluded the documents were actually classified. The user received a warning from Gajin (and probably also from the MoD), but the developers weren’t going to change the tank in the game either way, as they only base their models on: ‘publicly available and fully declassified [documents] with the rights to prove that’. Shows that wargaming isn’t always easy business. Read more on Kotaku.

Video: War Thunder

Will we ever see Skull & Bones?

It seems to be more and more apparent we will never ever see Skull & Bones. When development started in 2013, it was Ubisoft’s idea to make it into a multiplayer expansion for Assassins’Creed IV: Black Flag. It soon became it’s own project, impressing many at E3 2017. However, since than not much has happened, and it has been reported the development has started over multiple times. With the release now planned in 2023, many question if the game will actually be released. Some state that if it weren’t in development with Ubi, it would have been dropped by any other studio of publisher. And it wouldn’t be Ubi if the project also wasn’t marred with claims of mismanagement and a toxic work enviroment. One former developer claimed that: ‘The toxic culture permeating the Singapore studio is in no small part responsible for most of the production issues—reboots, rebrands and re-reboots—that have plagued Skull & Bones for a decade.’ It seems that the final thing hasn’t been said about Skull & Bones. Read more on Kotaku.

Image: Ubisoft

Study finds Red Dead Redemption 2 players know their animals

A recent study has shown that players who played RDR2, especially who played the game recently, are more likely to visually identify 15 different species of animals in the game. This research is statistically cool, but the quotes and anecdotes left by players are even cooler. It seems all you cowboys just really like animals. The research found that players on average identify 10 out of 15 animals correct, three more than those who didn’t play. It not only shows gamers care about animals, it also shows how well done the nature is in RDR2. The researchers also stated how valuable games can be for education, even if education isn’t their prime objective: ‘here is something to learn here for educators and conservationists who want to enhance the world’s natural history education; ‘gamification’ and immersion in a learning experience, by making people’s actions have meaning, can be more effective that simply getting people to learn a list of animals by rote.’ You can check out the entire study here, or read more in this article by Rock Paper Shotgun.

Over $200,000 raised to help save the Studio Ghilbi Museum

The Studio Ghibli museum in Japan has been in dire need of funds since the sereval temporary closures due to the pandemic. Even though it is opened again, the financial issues endure. The museum prouds itself on a limited amount of visitors to provide everyone with a good experience. This also means that revenue has fallen, with upkeep staying and income falling away. But the city of Mitaka in Tokyo has set up a crowdfunding (only for Japanese citizens), where they asked for 5000 donations of around $45 (which are tax deductable). That goal has been surpassed easily. But that was to be expected, because the museum has a huge Catbus! Read more on Kotaku.

Image: the Robot Soldier Guardian of the Museum!

Age of Empires III African Expansion drops next month

For those who like RTS and African Kingdoms, watch out for the AoE III expansion called The African Royals. Launching August 2, it will introduce 2 new civilizations (Ethiopia and the Hausa), 15 new African maps, new historical battles and AI Allies (five indigenous African civilizations you can ally up with). That’s all pretty cool! The expansion will be sold seperately or as part of the Xbox Games Pass. Read more on PCGamesN.

Video: Age of Empires

Omar ‘oomzer’ Bugter is a Cultural Historian from Utrecht. 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., and is VALUE’s in house city builder connaisseur. Tweet to him at @oomzer if you want to know anything about Civ or city builders.