Ghost Of Tsushima’s Loading Times Are So Good That They Had To Be Nerfed – Kotaku

Ghost Of Tsushima’s Loading Times Are So Good That They Had To Be Nerfed by Ian Walker for Kotaku

“We really got where we are through focus and substantial team effort,” Sucker Punch Productions lead engine programmer Adrian Bentley told Kotaku via email. “I wrote the foundational code for our fine-grain texture and mesh streaming systems for Ghost. It started as a forward-looking side project and came online just in time as we began running out of memory on PlayStation 4 developer hardware due to the huge amount [of] art the team was adding.”

Ghost of Tsushima is lush as heck. Vast fields of flowers intersected by dusty roads give way to claustrophobic bamboo forests containing secluded Buddhist temples. Leaves, cherry blossom petals, and pollen filter through the air thanks to an ever-present, guiding wind. Waves crash on beaches, hiding rocky pathways to offshore secrets. And while the responsibility for pulling all those disparate assets together was already monumental, Bentley explained that the art team also had to make sure to keep data compact as it ate more and more memory.

I picked up my copy of Ghost of Tsushima today and am so jazzed to start it up later. One comment I found in common amongst reviews was the fast loading times. On the precipice of solid state drives becoming the standard next-gen, I thought these snappy load times interesting for the end of the PS4. With the insanely fast decompression of assets on PS5 and the ability to use extremely high detail models, I wonder what Ghost of Tsushima would have looked like in development with that technology in place.

“We only have one copy of every asset on the disc. During most loads, when not jumping into a close-up, we only load newly required assets and can dial down our streaming density a bit…”

This sounds like what the SSD will provide PS5 and Xbox Series X: Instead of writing copies of trees, bushes, etc., Sucker Punch seems to have figured out a way to streamline their asset loading in memory on the PS4. This seems like a small taste of what is to come initially with the transition to solid state technology. 

Introducing a new and improved Twitter API

Introducing a new and improved Twitter API

…here’s what we will say: developers play a key role in building the future of Twitter. The new API is going to help us better serve all of you. And we are so excited to get it to you soon.

Two years ago Twitter killed major features in third-party apps by removing and limiting API support. It was a sad day for many diehard Twitter users, myself included. I still use Tweetbot and have for nearly a decade now. Hopefully Twitter brings back true third-party support with a more full-featured and developer-friendly API.

Close Enough Official Trailer – HBO Max

Close Enough Official Trailer – HBO Max

I am a huge fan of The Regular Show and was amped to watch JG Quintel’s next show. I’ve watched the whole thing and it is hilarious. Definitely worth your time! Each episode is actually two 12~ minute episodes, so there is more than meets the eye when you open up the season. It follows a similar formula to The Regular Show where it all starts seemingly normal and then takes a zany twist. Big thumbs up from me.

Part III: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Welcome to Part III of Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog during the PS4 Era.

I decided to break-up the six parts of my history into individual episodes as well, for more choice for you, the listener. This episode is all about the non-stop development of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. I also dig into how the team designed Nathan Drake’s final game. I hope you enjoy.

Continue reading “Part III: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End”

Microsoft discontinues Xbox One X and Xbox One SAD – The Verge

Microsoft discontinues Xbox One X and Xbox One S digital edition ahead of Series X launch by Tom Warren for The Verge

“As we ramp into the future with Xbox Series X, we’re taking the natural step of stopping production on Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “Xbox One S will continue to be manufactured and sold globally.”

That’s one way to clear out the inventory. Ironically, I was looking up Xbox One S prices yesterday for a friend and noticed that no major retailers appeared to have any Xbox systems in stock. I attributed this to a retailer shortage due to COVID-19, but it sounds like Microsoft themselves are pulling the plug. Why spend the money building consoles that will be obsoleted in a few months? Especially if players will be able to stream newer Xbox games in their higher fidelity to the Xbox One S. While this will slightly help with store shelves and consumer confusion, especially between “Xbox One X” and “Xbox Series X.” Now all we can hope for is that the rumored, weaker next-gen Xbox is not called “Xbox Series S.”

Interview: Paper Mario’s development team lays it all out – VGC

Interview: Paper Mario’s development team lays it all out by Andy Robinson for VGC

“Games are entertainment, so I want the people who play our games to say ‘Wow!’ My understanding is that if we want to give players these positive surprises, we can’t do exactly the same thing that’s been done before.”

Risa Tabata, Nintendo EPD’s assistant producer

“However, I do think it’s difficult to satisfy certain fans with the adventure game direction if they think of Paper Mario games as simply being RPGs. I hope that everyone will play this game with an open mind.”

Kensuke Tanabe, Senior Officer Nintendo EPD

When you want something to return to form after nearly 16 years, it’s tough to hear this sentiment from the creators. I am glad that the team gets to make the game they want to. I respect that vision and I am still excitedly curious to see what Paper Mario looks like in 2020 (The Origami King will be my first new Paper Mario game since 2007), but I am still bummed out that The Origami King does not appear to be the kind of game I truly want. Maybe someday The Thousand Year Door will escape its imprisonment on the GameCube and be ported to modern hardware.

You Are the Future of Gaming – Xbox Wire

You Are the Future of Gaming by Phil Spencer for Xbox Wire

One week ahead of the next Xbox 20/20 event that will focus on Xbox Studios games, Phil and the Xbox team shared a sort of quick hit bullet list of all the consumer-focused pros that the Xbox ecosystem has steadily built over the generation. Xbox truly is diversifying access to their platform. They are becoming the melting pot of gaming, taking the best ideas from competitors and leveraging Microsoft’s technology (and bankroll) to build the best ecosystem out there.

Xbox Series X is designed to deliver a new level of fidelity, feel, performance and precision never seen before in console gaming. All games will look and play best on Xbox Series X

Reaffirming that the Series X will be the best place to play Xbox Game Studios’ titles. I also see this as a subtle hint toward the Xbox Series S, which has been rumored for quite a while now. “The Series X will be the best place, but we will give you options,” is how I read that statement.

We want every Xbox player to play all the new games from Xbox Game Studios. That’s why Xbox Game Studios titles we release in the next couple of years—like Halo Infinite—will be available and play great on Xbox Series X and Xbox One. We won’t force you to upgrade to Xbox Series X at launch to play Xbox exclusives.

Again reaffirming cross-generational support. Extremely consumer friendly, but am still curious what this means for developers. Here’s what I wrote when the last big leak for the Series S occurred:

Microsoft will have two new boxes, with different performance, plus continuing cross-generation support for the Xbox One. Halo Infinite could be playable on six different pieces of hardware; Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, and PC (what a naming nightmare). That has to be a testing and optimizing mountain to climb.

And I forgot that all of the Xbox Game Studios’ titles will be on xCloud as well. While hardware performance will not be so much of an issue for xCloud, the quality and performance of the stream will be.

Finally, today we’re announcing that this September, in supported countries, we’re bringing Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud together at no additional cost for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members.

Speaking of xCloud, an official public launch window has finally been given. I wonder if older Xbox One consoles will support xCloud streaming. Say you own an OG Xbox One (like I do) and Halo Infinite runs below 1080p when natively installed. What if you could stream the 1080p version via xCloud? I know that the Xbox One S has 4K video output capabilities. Why not allow users to stream the native 4K version of Halo Infinite to their Xbox One S? Microsoft may lose the initial sale of the shiny new box, but they could be gaining a new monthly subscriber to Game Pass Ultimate. At $15 a month, that may seem like the more appealing choice to folks hesitant to upgrading their box, especially if it can run the newer games through streaming.

It’s our intent for all Xbox One games that do not require Kinect to play on Xbox Series X at the launch of the console.

RIP Kinect. I wonder if the dongle will work with Series X…

We hope you’ll join us next Thursday, July 23rd for the Xbox Games Showcase for the first look at the Halo Infinite Campaign and more.

Way to bury the lede Phil!

First look: Box art for upcoming PS5 games – PlayStation.Blog

First look: Box art for upcoming PS5 games – PlayStation.Blog

Sony is really leaning into this black and white theme. I can’t help but wish they’d change from the blue colored case to a smokey black one though. I think that’d look much slicker. The blue case from PS4 games (an obvious way to save money, they already have those cases by the pallet) sorely stick out. Nibel on Twitter whipped up a concept for a black and a clear box. I like the look of these much better.

Ghost Of Tsushima Is Being Praised By Japanese Critics – Kotaku

Ghost Of Tsushima Is Being Praised By Japanese Critics by Brian Ashcraft for Kotaku

Brian went around and collected some tidbits from Japanese reviews of Ghost of Tsushima. I find it wonderfully reassuring that Japanese critics seem to enjoy this depiction of Japan. These individuals know the place, culture, language, and history far better than I and most Western players ever will.

Earlier this month, among international players, there was chatter about the Japanese language on the menu screen, but to native Japanese speakers, there didn’t seem to be an issue. Akiba Souken’s reviewer also didn’t feel like the Japanese in the game was strange or off. The reviewer even went on to say the game could be useful for Japanese people to study kogo (古語) or archaic words.

This hullabaloo came about around the game’s main menu being revealed back when the review embargo was announced. Interesting that the folks I saw complaining about this were not native speakers, as far as I could tell. Google translate is not your friend when it comes to context and culture.

Weekly Famitsu gave Ghost of Tsushima a perfect score. This is only the third time a Western game has gotten a perfect score, with Ghost of Tsushima taking its place alongside The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto V.

Interesting company that Ghost of Tsushima is sitting amongst in Weekly Famitsu.

As Famitsu notes, when people outside Japan depict the country, they tend to pepper their creations with strange, incorrect language and mix Japanese culture with Korean and Chinese culture, collapsing Asia into a single monolith. Famitsu admitted that it didn’t know how real the game’s depiction of the era was but explained that nothing about it felt odd. This is a fictional account of the period, and in that regard, Famitsu believes the game succeeds.

This speaks to the level of detail and dedication that Sucker Punch openly talks about having. I feel like hearing this would be just as if not more satisfying to hear about the game if you worked on it.

…one nitpick Famitsu had was regarding the speed at which characters speak. For Famitsu, the dialogue’s tempo is much faster than it should be for the time, and there isn’t the same importance on pauses in conversation that are typical of period pieces.

And sometimes creators fall short of total accuracy. I wonder if this is simply due to a modern telling of a story set in the 13th century, the directors’ interpretation of the script and the performance they were after. Either way, I never would have even noticed a nitpick like this. I wonder how many Japanese players will notice this and share the sentiment. By no means does this sound egregious or even intrusive; just sounds like a critique of performances. People have those all the time around the world.

Resignation Letter – Bari Weiss

Resignation Letter by Bari Weiss

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets. 

I’m no regular read of The New York Times: I had never heard of Bari Weiss before today. I became aware of this letter (ironically) through Twitter. Weiss’ words ring true with me though in the types of exchanges I see on social platforms more and more. I feel like this behavior and mentality happens consistently within the video game industry, its journalism aspect included. Outrage and dogpiling are regular events to observe.

Weiss’ letter is a far more eloquent, well-thought, and lived than my own writing. I did voice my own frustration last month in a post titled 280 Characters is Not Enough. The court of public opinion is operating with a “shoot first, never ask questions” mandate that is killing off all the principles I was taught while earning my own degree in journalism.

Summer Games Done Quick 2020 Schedule is Live

SGDQ 2020 Schedule

Games Done Quick is truly a weeklong highlight whenever it comes around. This summer’s marathon and fundraiser will be all online, which makes some of these speedruns even more unique, like the races and co-op runs. The marathon starts Sunday, August 16 at 11:30 AM EST.

Highlights for myself include the strong start with Super Mario Odyssey and Shovel Knight: King of Cards on day one, Batman: Arkham City, a warpless run of Donkey Kong Country 2, Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure (because it is an all-time classic), an any% run of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, the Sonic block on Wednesday, a race in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, a co-op randomizer run of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a 1% hard race of Metroid Fusion, an “all dog treasures” run of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and a 100% run of Super Metroid.

The schedule is looking strong this summer. I can’t wait to tune in.

Comparing English and Japanese Trailers for Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima – Launch Trailer | PS4

『Ghost of Tsushima』時代劇映画風トレーラー

As Sony inches closer to the release of Ghost of Tsushima, the company releases more trailers. I have enjoyed watching both the Western and Eastern trailers for the game, given its world and story. 

I think the Japanese trailers are significantly cooler. Not only does this particular trailer show off more of the game, I feel like it matches the game and its themes much better. Either way, I am stoked to explore the island of Tsushima this weekend.

Crafting the world of Tsushima – PlayStation.Blog

Crafting the world of Tsushima by Joanna Wang for PlayStation.Blog

Our goal when building an open world game is always “if you can see it, you can reach it,” with as few exceptions as possible. You will journey through lush forests, cross boggy swamp lands, and enter into frozen mountainous landscapes. We collected so many references from movies, games, paintings, and even travel posters to draw inspiration. We want to present you with an authentic, believable world, a world that would call out to you, inviting you to explore, a world that is rich and full of surprises.

This sounds like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to me. Sucker Punch has been working on Ghost of Tsushima since 2014. It’s not impossible to imagine that Ghost of Tsushima takes inspiration from Breath of the Wild, which released in 2017.

As the largest game we have ever made, can you imagine if we needed to place every single blade of grass by hand? What if we then needed to change the type or density of grass later? We would not be able to finish, so we made procedural tools that would allow us to build a massive world unbelievably fast and would still be really flexible if we changed our minds later on. These tools allowed us to be more creative and expressive in our artistic choices.

There is a fascinating clip in the article that shows a time-lapse of an area being procedurally generated. I often don’t think of the tools that developers use to craft their game worlds. It can’t be handcrafted over pixelated inch. While the textures and objects are handmade, their placement can be rapidly implemented thanks to these kinds of tools. I hope Sucker Punch was able to strike a balance between generation and detailed placement.