Invisible GameCube – BitHead1000

Invisible GameCube – YouTube by BitHead1000

Another YouTube recommendation winner. While I’m not a fan of how the rest of BitHead1000 presents their videos after scrolling through them, but this one is just a time lapse of a rad construction project.

It actually reminds me of a neighbor kid from down the street when I was in elementary school. It was before I owned my own GameCube and I wanted one extremely bad. He said that his dad worked for the manufacturing company that made GameCubes — in central Indiana. I totally bought the lie and he promised we could get a custom GameCube for myself. I wanted a transparent one. I (obviously) never got it.

Maddy Myers Leaves Kotaku

The Galaxy Is At Peace by Maddy Myers for Kotaku

Kotaku now has a staff of 15 people. This is just shy of two weeks after Jason Schreier left Kotaku. Both Jason and Maddy have a new podcast with Kotaku alum Kirk Hamilton. The three of them were the hosts of Kotaku’s Splitscreen podcast. Maddy says she has a new job at another media outlet that she will reveal later. Jason ended up a Bloomberg.

Unfortunately, I feel like the writing is on the wall for Kotaku.

Update (5/11/20): Maddy is now a senior games editor at Polygon.

DS Consolizer in the Works

Woozle is making a DS Consolizer. The man is a wizard. Woozle is responsible for the GBA Consolizer, which is a fantastic way to play Game Boy games on an HD TV.

I took the liberty of brightening up the image to see if I could discern any difference in the DS hardware, but nothing stands out except that Woozle may be using an Electric Blue DS.

Woozle says that this first iteration will be compatible with the original DS only, but future versions could work with the DS Lite and other console revisions. There will also be multiple options for displaying both DS screens on one TV. This is super promising for the DS, since there are very few ways to get the console onto a television.

Naughty Dog Comments on The Last of Us Part II Leaks

It has been a flurry of news today for The Last of Us Part II. Naughty Dog has come out and made a statement in regards to the leaks that occurred this weekend. I’ve copied tweets below since the replies are no doubt filled with spoilers.

We know the last few days have been incredibly difficult for you. We feel the same. It’s disappointing to see the release and sharing of pre-release footage from development. Do your best to avoid spoilers and we ask that you don’t spoil it for others.

The Last of Us Part II will be in your hands soon. No matter what you see and hear, the final experience will be worth it.

Neil Druckmann also shared a brief tweet of disappointment.

Heartbroken for the team. Heartbroken for our fans. We’re still incredibly excited to get the game into your hands.

As the day has gone on, it sounds like the leak came from a disgruntled employee. Rumors seem to claim it was sparked over a payment issue. This makes sense with the multiplayer code leaking, as I mentioned this morning.

How sad. How ultimately petty. All this accomplished was hurting former co-workers, friends, developers, and fans. While not flushing seven years of work down the drain, to be so close to the release certainly hurts. I think Jason Schreier puts it best in these two tweets (please click the links at your own risk).

Just catching up on this Naughty Dog story and man, no matter how angry you are about your workplace conditions or your pay or whatever else, leaking your whole game just hurts all the other people who were in the trenches with you. So many better ways to channel that rage.

It’s amazing how many people responding to this don’t seem to get that devs at Naughty Dog (including a couple I just talked to) can be both infuriated by crunch culture AND devastated that their hard work just leaked. This action doesn’t just hurt management — it hurts workers.

Update: Sony has told GamesIndustry.biz that the leak did not come from inside of Sony or Naughty Dog. While the source was not revealed, due to an ongoing investigation, it is nice to know that no one internal caused the leak.

Sony has confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that it has identified the primary individuals responsible for the leaks earlier this week, saying they were not affiliated with Sony Interactive Entertainment or Naughty Dog, as was rumored.

It seems that these were just rumors about a disgruntled employee, I do stand by my sentiment toward that kind of leak anyway. I’ve crossed out the text that indicates an employee was the source though.

To close it down the same way I originally did, here is a tweet from Jason. I’ve copied it below because those replies just have to be spoiler filled.

I do regret tweeting a Take on this earlier when we didn’t actually know whether it was a ND employee (serves me right for reacting to Twitter) but some of the claims don’t add up. ND has real issues (ones I’ve covered a lot) but they actually gave contractors extra pay for [COVID-19].

The Last of Us Part II Releasing in June

Release Date Updates For The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima – PlayStation.Blog

As we begin to see an ease in the global distribution environment, I am pleased to confirm that The Last of Us Part II will arrive on June 19. And Ghost of Tsushima will follow on July 17.

Nice to have a new date. In the end, it’ll be a three week delay. That is actually a shorter delay than I expected, given the scope of manufacturing and delivery Sony is facing. Sony has not provided a comment on the massive leaks for The Last of Us Part II.

The Last of Us Part II Major Leaks Have Begun

Sony Battling The Last of Us 2 Spoiler Videos As Major Plot Points Leak Online by Sammy Barker for Push Square (via DualShockers)

Among the footage is a huge chunk of unseen gameplay, various cut-scenes, the release’s main menu, and what appears to be unfinished multiplayer code.

It was only a matter of time. When I hear about leaks like this so close to a game’s release, I usually assume some retailer has their hands on the disc and is just trying to ruin fans’ day or some press wants to burn Sony-shaped bridges. The difference with this leak is the fact that the game has been delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19. There is no retailer copy to leak. There have been no press previews, at least in the traditional sense.

With all of the developers working on the game from home, leaks must be much harder to prevent. What also makes this particular leak stand out is the supposed unfinished multiplayer code. No one outside of Naughty Dog and Sony would have that code besides possible studios hired for outsourcing. Whatever the multiplayer evolved into is going to be Naughty Dog’s next game, so to hear it leaking now is telling. The mode was clearly being developed alongside the single-player until the entire game grew entirely out of scope and the team decided to solely ship the single-player. That doesn’t mean that the multiplayer was scraped. Most likely, a small team continued working on it until possibly called off for an all hands on deck push to finish The Last of Us Part II. Now that the campaign is likely done, that multiplayer team could have gone back to their project.

I’ll never understand leaks like this. It’s not reporting some important story or shedding light on something gone wrong. It solely goes out and spreads to ruin years of hard work and fans’ patience. I know it’s enticing like the forbidden fruit, gaining knowledge about something you shouldn’t have, but the consequences of sharing it are not worth the high of having said knowledge. If you want to avoid the spoilers, I’d start placing mute filters and avoid comment sections. No telling how long we have to wait until the game is released, so it is best to remain diligent. As Ellie would say, endure and survive.

Update: Sony has commented that the source of the leak was not internal at Naughty Dog or Sony. Here is how the leak actually happened.

Guerrilla is planning a Horizon Zero Dawn trilogy – VGC

Guerrilla is planning a Horizon Zero Dawn trilogy by Andy Robinson for VGC

The headline for Andy’s article isn’t too much of a shocker. Horizon Zero Dawn surpassed 10 million copies sold back in early 2019. Sony has leaned heavily into first party open-world, single-player games during the PS4 generation. It has done extremely well for them. It makes sense that they are continuing that practice into the PS5 era.

What I found surprising in the article was the tidbit that the sequel was originally planned for PS4. Even back in 2017 when Horizon Zero Dawn came out, the PS5 was in the sights of fans. I am surprised the possibly considered putting one more out for PS4. It could have been a God of War II and God of War III situation.

Andy also talks quite a bit about a possible co-op mode. It’ll be interesting to see how co-op can be woven into a single-player experience. I find that games often feel segmented when there is a co-op mode in addition to single player. One possible route would be to have a co-op story and single-player story, but that means players could miss out on key bits of information. If the plan is to have one “gigantic” scope/world, it would be counterintuitive to split the narrative so starkly.

So does Horizon Zero Dawn 2 become an always online game? Do people that play entirely alone end up feeling like they are missing out on parts of the world or narrative? Will there be two Aloy’s running around in a game or do players revert back to the olden days of Player 1 and Player 2?

I predicted at the beginning of 2020 that Horizon’s sequel would be a launch window title for the PS5. If some leaks are starting to happen, maybe I’ll actually get this one right, especially if it has been in development for three years. Fingers crossed.

Analogue Pocket Preview

 

I’d like to think that many classic video game fans, like myself, are pumped for the Analogue Pocket. I check the website a tad  too much. I get a bit too worried about missing the pre-order date and practically pounce whenever I see Analogue tweet another Game Boy Advance GIF.

The Pocket is an incredibly exciting product with a future that is sort of foggy. The announcement happened in October 2019, but Analogue has almost been entirely mum on the console since. Not terribly surprising: Analogue typically only speaks publicly when they want to share something. They control the conversation. 

In my fervor and anticipation, I decided to dig into what Analogue has said about the Pocket. I wanted to bring it all together in one place and really explore the potential that the Pocket has building up behind it. There really is no device quite like it. The Pocket speaks for itself and it speaks loudly.

Specs

Up first, I want to just list out and look at the specs of the Pocket. There are two Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips inside the Pocket. The Cyclone 10 FPGA is the heart behind the Pocket and Analogue’s proprietary software/scalers, while the Cyclone V is inside for third party developers to create their own cores. I’ll talk about those in a bit.

There is a micro SD card for firmware updates and (presumably) loading cores onto that secondary FPGA. The Pocket has a rechargeable battery and charges via USB-C. There is also a pair of stereo speakers at the top of the device.

The screen is 2.6’’ x 2.3’’ with a 3.5’’ diagonal. It has a resolution of 1600 x 1440 creating a pixels per inch count (ppi) of 615. The resolution is exactly 10x of the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color. I think this sounds perfect when considering that the Pocket is compatible with the entire Game Boy lineup of games out of the box.

I wanted to compare these screen specs to other handheld gaming consoles. I decided to whip up a table comparing all the Pocket’s compatible consoles alongside other major handheld consoles with a couple odd balls thrown in too. I also made a chart visually comparing the screen resolution of those consoles. 

 

Resolution
(W x H)

Size
(in)
Pixels per Inch
(ppi)
Analogue Pocket1600 x 14403.5”615
Game Boy160 x 1442.5”86.1
Game Boy Color160 x 1442.34”91.95
Game Boy Advance / SP240 x 1602.9”99.61
Game Boy Micro240 x 1602”144.22
Nintendo DS / Lite256 x 1923.12”102.56
Atari Lynx160 x 1023.5”54.21
Game Gear160 x 1443.2”67.27
Neo Geo Pocket / Color160 x 1522.7”81.74
Nintendo Switch1280 x 7206.2”237
Nintendo Switch Lite1280 x 7205.5”267
PlayStation Portable480 x 2724.3”128.3
PlayStation Vita960 x 5445”220
iPhone 111792 x 8286.1”326
Kindle Paperwhite1074 x 14446”600

Hardware and Design

Analogue really only had two main routes to go down when choosing the shape of the Pocket: Vertical or horizontal? It’s not hard to spot the similarities in design between the Pocket and the Game Boy. Analogue is clearly drawing from the deep well of handheld hardware design. Instead of serving customers the same drink from 30 years ago, it appears to be filtered and purified. The Pocket will launch in all black or all white with a flourish of green on the power button. There are four unmarked face buttons and a D-pad for play. Two of the face buttons are concave while the other two are convex. Having the face buttons be unmarked actually reminds me of the Joy-con for the Switch so that either controller has clear indicators in the game menus. Gone is A, B, X, and Y: Hello, up, down, left, and right. Out of all the handheld consoles the Pocket will support out of the box, only the Atari Lynx has four face buttons. These come in handy for the secondary FPGA and any cores that developers make. There are two shoulder buttons on the back as well. All buttons are remappable as well, giving players any sort of flexibility they require or desire.

On the bottom of the console, there is an original style link cable port for the Game Boy line of systems. I’m not sure if this port can or will be compatible with Game Gear or other link cables, but the Game Boy is certainly the way to go considering the fact the Pocket is compatible with Game Boy games out-of-the-box. Knowing that there will be link cable compatibility, it makes me wonder how it’ll work with a GameCube for GBA add-ons like the Tingle Tuner in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Since no game cart is required, I am curious how the GameCube will respond to a Pocket.

 

If you look at the back of the Pocket you may notice that the cartridge slot is far shallower than the typical Game Boy. This showcases the labels of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. I’m curious how much of the label on a Game Boy Advance game will be covered.

One other design question I’m thinking of before even knowing when people can pre-order one of these is if Phil Fish will be designing the boot sequence again. Of FEZ and SuperHyperCube fame, Phil did the boot sequence for both the Super NT and the Mega SG. I also wonder how long it’ll be until there is a console variant with exclusive music loaded onto the system or an exclusive cartridge. I think every system Analogue has made ends up with some sort of variant; I know the Nt Mini, Super NT, and Mega SG all have one.

Software

I debated talking about the FPGAs in hardware or software. So, I put it at the top of software as a bridge between the two. There are two FPGA chips inside the Pocket. The main chip that Analogue proprietary cores will use is an Intel Cyclone 10, which is the same chip line that Analogue uses inside the DAC (side note: my DAC is supposed to ship in April, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that slipped due to possible manufacturing issues due to COVID-19). The second FPGA for other developers is the Cyclone V, which is inside the Super NT and Mega SG. Right off the bat, I assume the power of the Cyclone V is enough for Genesis and below. The Pocket has the potential to play countless games and systems.

There isn’t too much I can talk about on the software front without actually seeing or using it. It’s a safe bet it will be in line with the Super NT and the Mega SG, both having robust video settings for users to tinker with. In some of the promotional imagery, you can see the software menu which appears to offer video, audio, system, and about menus. There is also a Save/Restore option, which I hope means that I can dump, store, and back up my portable game saves without needing to wait for “jailbroken” software or some other adapter. Pokémon fans rejoice!

Speaking of jailbreaking the Pocket, there is a legacy for “unofficial” jailbreak software for the Analogue consoles. It’s a safe bet that trend will continue with the Pocket. Given the fact there are two FPGAs inside as well, we may even see “unofficial” ports of the Analogue cores for SNES and Genesis. Giving third party developers access could even lead to having cores from the MiSTer ported over to the Pocket. There is loads of potential with this.

Outside of game software, every Pocket comes with the Game Boy music software Nanoloop built-in. Nanoloop is a cartridge that goes for $53-75, depending on the version you purchase. Nanoloop is a full-blown music sequencer/synthesizer. You can check out a sample track from Nanoloop’s site here or a playlist of sample tracks from Analogue here. It may not have value to every owner of the Pocket, but having it built-in makes the Pocket a tremendous tool for musicians.

Dock and DAC

The Pocket is not the only new product Analogue has in the pipeline. Announced alongside the Pocket, the Dock was announced. Fairly straightforward in name, the Dock allows Pocket owners to dock the system and play their games on a television via HDMI. This looks to me just like the Switch dock, charging the console and transmitting the A/V signal through the USB-C port on the bottom. I do wonder if users could plug in a dongle via USB-C and connect an HDMI cable that way? No way to tell until the Pocket is in people’s hands. 

The Dock does also allow for folks to pair wireless 8BitDo controllers to play their games or plug directly in through USB ports. The Dock unlocks plenty of potential with that second FPGA and the ability to use different controllers. So far, there is no word on the Dock’s pricing or release window, but it doesn’t seem like it will launch day-in-day with the Pocket.

One other possibility the Dock presents is how the image is scaled. Due to the Pocket’s 3.5’’ screen with its dense 615ppi, the system will be performing a non-integer scale of the games. This allows for finer control over all of the compatible consoles to display sharp pixels, since they all have different resolutions. Analogue hasn’t come out and said whether or not the Pocket will allow users to toggle interpolation, but it’s likely to be a feature. Interpolation removes “shimmer” due to uneven pixels that are a result of non-integer scaling. Analogue’s other systems have this option, so I don’t see why the Pocket would not. Being able to use an external screen through the Dock could open up the option to perform integer scaling, which would be a delight for square pixel purists. 

Price and Availability

The biggest question looming over the Pocket is just when the system will go up for pre-order. Since the Pocket was announced in October 2019, all fans have known is that it will be released sometime in 2020 and will cost a cool $200. Since then, Analogue has released and/or put up a couple other devices for order. A second round of DAC pre-orders went up as well as a revision of the Nt Mini. The adapter carts for the Mega SG were also released. Analogues ducks appear to be in a row as we wait for the Pocket. They did reply to one tweet inquiring about the Pocket and confirmed that they will announce the pre-order date in advance. 

As for the Dock, there isn’t any real news. No price or date. Maybe it will be announced alongside the Pocket pre-orders. 

It is probably a safe bet that the shipping cost will be $20 in the US. Trying to predict when Analogue will drop the Pocket feels sort of like a fruitless effort. Like I mentioned with the second round of DAC pre-orders above, it is probably a safe bet that COVID-19 has impacted any form of hardware production for the Pocket. It is just a wait and see kind of game.

When looking at the $200 price, it’s fair to look at alternatives as well. If you are looking for strictly portable play, your real options stop at buying the old systems from a game shop or online. There are some variations in hardware (especially for the Game Boy), but the buck mostly stops there. Those prices can range anywhere between $30-75 before getting the games you want.

As for the big screen, you could go the emulation route. Free, but requires you to enter Crime Committing Corner. Proceed at your own risk in there. A popular FPGA-based DIY route is the MiSTer project. From what I could gather, building your own MiSTer could cost around ~$185, but gives you that DIY vibe while being apart of a growing and seemingly active community.

For the Game Boy specifically, there are a couple of options to get the games on the big screen; some official and some not so much. On the unofficial end of the scale, there is the GBA Consolizer. It is a mod for a GBA that allows folks to solder a new board to a GBA that allows for digital video output. Buying the board to mod the console yourself will set you back around $170 when it is in stock. Pre-built consolizers go for around $350.

There is also the option of using a GameCube with a Game Boy Player with official or unofficial software. If you need both items, it’ll likely set you back $140 and that is before finding a video output solution to get the GameCube on your HDTV. Those can go up to $150.

Nothing really compares on a portable and TV output option while being able to use real cartridges with so many systems. If you are solely looking for Game Boy play, your options become a bit more flexible with official options from Nintendo. The Pocket really is an all-in-one console with the flexibility for nearly every use case. It is an extremely exciting product and I cannot wait to get my hands on one. Hopefully this preview/round-up of information will help tide you over while we all wait for the official date from Analogue. 

Looney Toons New Series Debuts on HBO Max

Mark your calendars: May 27th is rabbit season. Or is it duck season? New episodes of Looney Tunes streaming on HBO Max, May 27th.

HBO Max via Twitter

Dang it. I thought Netflix and Disney+ would be enough. Then they had to go and put out new Looney Toons cartoons on HBO Max.

They actually premiered one of the cartoons last year. They look incredibly zany, goofy, and looney; just like the originals. I am so down for new Looney Toons.

Super Mario Maker 2’s Final Update with GrandPOOBear’s Reaction and Breakdown

New HUGE Mario Maker 2 UPDATE Trailer Breakdown!! – GrandPOOBear via YouTube

Last night, Nintendo revealed the final update for Super Mario Maker 2. It looks like a massive update and it comes out tomorrow. Instead of sharing the trailer, I’m sharing Mario speedrunner GrandPOOBear’s reaction and breakdown. It’s way more fun this way.

If the breakdown isn’t your thing, at least watch right before the two minute mark. Poo’s enthusiasm is electrifying. I actually interviewed him back in 2017. While the podcast is no longer up on podcast services, you can still listen on YouTube.

Revisiting The Last of Us

I just wrapped up playing through The Last of Us for the eighth time. I really should not be surprised with myself. When I replayed it last year, I told myself that’d be my last time playing before The Last of Us Part II. At the time it was just eight months before the sequel would have been released before its unfortunate and indefinite delay due to COVID-19. I thought that was close enough for it to be fresh, but enough space for both games to breath.

Then I got a 4K TV and decided to replay the Uncharted series.

Then I got the platinum trophy in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

Then I started work on my history of Naughty Dog during the PS4 era — Chasing the Stick.

Well, might as well replay the game with Abby and go for the platinum trophy.

Having wrapped up my eighth time beating the game’s campaign, I wanted to write about revisiting the game. By the time The Last of Us Part II releases, it will have been seven years since the original released on PS3. How has the PS3 swan song aged? How has my take on the game changed with time? How does the game feel knowing the sequel is coming soon(ish)?

I reviewed the game back on June 22, 2013. That’s just eight days after its release. That review was my third review I wrote for my blog at the time. I was so proud of it that I even shared it with my video game history professor. The only comment/critique I remember of his was my use of Jesus’ name when quoting Ellie. He said to avoid mentioning religion.

My review has a very “shout it from the rooftops” approach. I was a very different writer at the age of 19. I had just graduated high school. My take on the game is pretty standard: It is a masterpiece, now let me convince you. I definitely lacked any form of subtly and nuance. I beat my reader over the head with how great the game was.

One bit that did stand out to me now is how in the first paragraph I emphasized being “actively involved” in the game’s world, unlike books or film. That take would become the heart of Chasing the Stick.

When it comes to actually playing it, I am surprised to discover something new each time. Even with back-to-back playthroughs, I found new item drops or pathways. Part of this is influenced by pushing myself to take routes and approaches I haven’t before, so those discoveries are natural. I’m a player of habit: Once I find a route that works, I stick with it. This time around, I decided to shake up my route. I still tried to play stealth first, but I’d go left instead of right and so on.

This plan to take the path less traveled (by my past self), has opened my eyes do how dense the environments are. Trash, plants, vehicles, corpses don’t just litter the world: they pack it in. While piles of clothes may be reused throughout, smaller uniquely individual (or scarcely used) assets are sprinkled in the world. This allows players to fill in the narrative blanks like a doleful edition of Mad Libs.

Game Director Bruce Straley actually talked about this in an interview with Jason Killingsworth.

It’s that collision of the familiar and unfamiliar that gets me interested in little backstories. You can put the pieces together when you can see the water’s not high right now but you can see the water line at a different level and you can see something cast up on the hillside once the water line receded. And then you’re like, there’s a story here, I can see somebody has dragged a bag of goods and supplies, and they’ve sifted through it. And you realise somebody’s been here. These little stories and vignettes piece together experiences you don’t get to witness. But Hitchcock proved that it’s almost better not to see it because it lets you fill out the greater story. It’s fun to play with.

The game world is equally rich with stories players fill in and with deliberate stories built by Naughty Dog. The narrative collectibles are an example I love. It helps tell the world’s story in a way similar to one of Cory Barlog’s goals with God of War.

Kratos’ new story was told in “one shot.” The narrative never cuts away to see what other people are up to or how the circumstances came to be. Kratos and Atreus are the player’s agent to the story/world. Cory wanted to tell the story of the past by having characters talk and reflect instead of showing the player through a flashback.

The Last of Us does this too. We never cut away from Joel and Ellie for someone else. The closest we get is in the Winter portion of the game when you play as both Joel and Ellie. Besides the conversations between the two protagonists, collectibles color in the history of this new world. Ish’s story is a popular focal point as it uses the environment of a level and the collectible notes to tell a full story in the sewers and suburbs. It’ll be interesting to see how The Last of Us Part II shifts from this since it has been hinted that we may play in alternate periods of time; not unlike the Left Behind DLC.

I found myself genuinely surprised at how much dialogue between Ellie and Joel wasn’t “optional,” in the collectible sense. They talk to build their relationship in the player’s eyes. I enjoy the pacing their relationship has. It goes in tandem with the journey itself to find the Fireflies. On the other end of the conversational spectrum, I am also surprised at how some of the optional conversations are not guaranteed scripted! Their chat next to the backdrop after Joel nearly dies in the hotel should be heard by all players, just saying. I imagine picking and choosing what to have player hear and optionally miss was a difficult, delicate, and deliberate balance.

The ending is another element that is brought up constantly in regards to the sequel. Back in June 2013, people were vehemently picking one of two sides. With an official sequel ostensively done as of this writing, the ending has to be looked at under an entirely different light. I’ve always been on the side of what Joel did was right and a sequel doesn’t change his actions, but now the consequences-both good and bad-will be presumably explored. I’ve also always read the scene as Ellie knows Joel is lying. She’s too smart to buy it. The subtext is where the meat lies. She knows and still gives an “okay.” Joel doesn’t hesitate to lie. She hesitates for 12 seconds with the okay. Up until now, fans got to essentially decide what it all meant. Now, Naughty Dog will tell us.

Combat in The Last of Us has always been a favorite of mine. Stealth oriented with an gruesomely intimate flare. This time around I noticed how environmentally interactive the melee combat is. I did a lot of punching this time around. Joel slams enemies against cars, walls, tables, and telephone polls. His executions cycle through a set of hits, but I was surprised at just how many surfaces Joel kills against with blood splatters sticking to the surface and everything.

This carries into the multiplayer as well. I love the suspense that comes in a good round of Factions. With prob strats by my side this time, I am trying to get the two multiplayer trophies that have eluded my trophy level for so long. I got this.

Now just for a few smaller bullet point thoughts:

  • I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the sounds the Clickers and Runners make. The moaning is eerily creates sympathy while the clicks are spine tingling.
  • Interrogation is my favorite mode in Factions. It’s like a mash up of tug-o-war and capture the flag. It feels incredibly balanced.
  • The game feels much emptier when rushing. I needed to start a third run for the “For Emergencies Only” trophy. I had to make it half way through Bill’s Town to get the parts and guns I needed to upgrade. Maybe it’s because I know all the collectibles and conversations I skipped, but it felt like a much emptier run. I didn’t feel like this when playing certain parts for Uncharted Platinums. Maybe it’s due to Uncharted being more of a romp.

The Last of Us is one of PlayStation’s crown jewels. It seems to have handled its first seven years with grace. Game still looks great, especially in 2160p HDR. I wonder how it’ll age in another seven years. I wonder how the HBO series will make the game age. I wonder how I’ll feel about both games eight days after The Last of Us Part II releases. Until then, endue and survive!

Sony Is Said to Limit PlayStation 5 Output in Its First Year – Bloomberg

Sony Is Said to Limit PlayStation 5 Output in Its First Year by Takashi Mochizuki and Yuki Furukawa for Bloomberg

The global Covid-19 pandemic has affected Sony’s promotional plans for the new device but not its production capacity

COVID-19 is not the culprit for this possibly low supply. It sounds like Sony can’t get enough parts to make the boxes. I wonder if Microsoft is or will have similar supply constraints.

Game developers who’ve been creating titles for the next PlayStation anticipate its price to be in the region of $499 to $549, and Bloomberg Intelligence’s Matthew Kanterman points to increased component costs pushing up the price required for Sony to break even. Sony has struggled with its price-setting decision for the PS5 because of scarce components…

This was discussed in the last Bloomberg leak. The price is not out of the range I expect for both PS5 and Xbox Series X. But, Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft is “staying agile” with Series X pricing. Microsoft could take a hit on console sales and make it up in subscriptions and software easier than Sony could.

Bloomberg also talks about how COVID-19 has really disrupted Sony’s plans to reveal the PS5. That DualSense controller reveal last week was reportedly “hurried” and “forced.” I definitely see it being rushed, it was a random blog post on a Tuesday, but forced? Bloomberg claims it was due to the need to share the controller with third party developers and Sony could not control the leaks. As for the console itself, Bloomberg says that a small circle of people is privy to the knowledge of its appearance, which is why the controller made a solo debut.

Suppliers have started delivering components to PS5 assemblers, who are scheduled to begin mass-producing the product by June. Sony’s PlayStation chief Jim Ryan has stressed that the machine’s launch should be simultaneous around the globe, according to people in the company’s supply chain.

June to a presumable November launch is roughly six month production time. I’m not sure what the typical timeline is for a new game console, but it sounds okay to me. If Sony only expects to sell 5-6 million units around the world, I wonder how the quantity will break down. We may have another Wii supply situation on our hands.

It definitely helps to launch worldwide, so there is some sort of presence in each major territory. PS4 launched in the US and Europe in November 2013 and launched in Japan in February 2014. For comparison, the Xbox One also launched in the US and Europe in November 2013, but launched in Japan in September 2014, nearly a year later! The closer in sync the systems can launch worldwide, the better for the platform.

The longer these leaks of unofficial and drips of official information the more clear it becomes that Sony needs to lock down a reveal plan. Microsoft took the lead by sharing info before the COVID-19 pandemic. They can ride this hype until they can reveal the games. It feels like Sony is playing catch up with the reveals. I am curious to see how Sony adjusts their plans going forward. They’ve been one of the most publicly proactive game companies in response to COVID-19. They clearly wanted to go big with the PS5 reveal and not being able to gather in groups has halted those plans.

Jason Schreier Leaves Kotaku

Press Sneak Out by Jason Schreier at Kotaku

Not terribly surprising, but still a bummer. I’m curious where Jason will go next, presumably after his second book is published. I can’t see him going to a major, traditional video game new outlet. Kotaku itself has seen quite a wave of departures lately. Kotaku is now a staff of 16 writers.

The podcast Jason hosted on Kotaku is done as well, at least in its current form. Jason, Maddy Myers, and Kirk Hamilton (who left Kotaku in 2018) have started a new podcast called Triple Click. I wonder if other Kotaku staff will pick up the Splitscreen mantle.

On the bright side: Video games will no longer be delayed.