5 Conclusions - 09/11/18

November 9, 2018
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A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.

Conclusion One: Sony will end this generation with one last hurrah

 This week From Software released their Virtual reality game, Déraciné, to the world. Unsurprisingly, the team has created a wonderfully atmospheric world within which people are able to lose themselves. One such player found something of much more wonder. 

You see, there is a doll in the game and this doll demonstrates the Make Contact gesture first seen in Bloodborne, one of the games of this generation. So obviously, according to IGN, the internet thinks this means Bloodborne 2 has been teased.   

 

It would be no surprise were this game being developed given it was totally amazing and sold lots of copies for Sony's PlayStation 4. In fact, I'd be surprised if Sony wasn't literally throwing money at From Software to make this happen. With this tease - if it is - it makes me think this will be a current generation release. 

This typically happens. A generation begins with devs getting used to the new hardware and trying things out, without ever really getting it all right. Over time fabulous games are made and then usually there will be a long-tailed Indian summer whereby lots and lots of totally brilliant games are released alongside everyone getting excited about the next generation. Perhaps this has already begun with God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2, or perhaps it's yet to begin. Maybe Bloodborne 2 is the harbinger of this last hurrah?

Conclusion Two: Don’t hold your breath for Final Fantasy XVI

Square Enix this week posted an “extraordinary loss” of 3,733 million yen — just over £25m — but that isn’t the most concerning news coming from the studio. Hajime Tabata, the director of Final Fantasy XV who was parachuted in during its troubled production and helped get it to release, has resigned. The news was announced, bizarrely, in a Square Enix livestream which had previously been used to inform players of the game’s development.

Part of the reason may have been due to Tabata’s studio, Luminous Productions, being cited in the statement. However, Final Fantasy XV itself was considered a financial success and regarded amongst critics as a strong entry in the long-running series. According to Eurogamer, Tabata is thought to have been offered the opportunity to take Luminous Productions as his own company with investment from Square Enix, or to have it absorbed into the publisher as another division. He chose instead to quit, stating “I have a project that I truly wish to solidify as my next challenge after FFXV.”

 

The fallout for the game means the cancellation of three of the four remaining planned DLC episodes. The first episode Ardyn will be released next year as scheduled, but episodes focused on Noctis, Aranea and Lunafreya are all canned. There is also a big question mark over the future of the numbered series as a whole — given how many problems Square Enix ran into during the creation of XV, losing a talent as versatile and focused as Tabata doesn’t bode well for the next instalment.

Conclusion Three: Riot Games are yet to reap the whirlwind

It seems that in the litigious culture of the US, an apology is simply not going to cut it. In the case of League of Legends publisher Riot Games, though, that approach may well be justified. We reported back in August that the California studio was forced to apologise after an investigation by Kotaku revealed that female employees were being discriminated against. Riot Games acknowledged their failings in this area and issued a statement apologising for what had widely been considered “bro culture” — namely, sexist language and abuse against women, alongside barriers to progression.

However, this issue hasn’t gone away for the studio as Kotaku reported this week. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Riot Games for “endemic gender-based discrimination” and “fostering a men-first environment.” Additionally, the lawsuit states that they “violated California’s Equal Pay Act and law against gender-based discrimination at the workplace.” The lawsuit is looking for compensation on unpaid wages, damages and other penalties”, and if Riot Games attempts to fight it rather than settle and are found guilty, the repercussions for the studio could be huge.

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It appears that despite Kotaku’s report detailing employees who allegedly assaulted women — including COO Scott Gelb — a number of the accused, including Gelb, were still employed a month later. The 2,500-strong studio has a male-female split of roughly 80/20, and it is two women who are named in the lawsuit: Melanie McCracken who still works at Riot Games, and Jessica Negron, who has left. Riot has responded stating, “While we do not discuss the details of ongoing litigation, we can say that we take every allegation of this nature seriously and investigate them thoroughly.”

JDR will keep a close eye on how this lawsuit progresses and given the potential ramifications we expect that a number of other game studios and employees will be doing the same.

Conclusion Four: Skyrim never dies — you can get your Jarl on with a new mod

Despite being almost seven years old Skyrim has continued to live on, mostly due to the unending support of the super-dedicated modding community that has flourished with the game. There are literally thousands of different mods, ranging from simple reskins and graphical updates, through to entirely new quests and whole areas of the map.

The level of dedication by some modders is nothing short of mind-blowing, and while most do it for nothing other than the love of the game, there are potential rewards too. Back in 2013, then nineteen-year-old Alexander Velicky released Falskaar — a 20-hour add-on to the main story of Skyrim. Velicky stated in a thank you forum post that he created the mod solely to try and get a job at Bethesda, but ended up working for Bungie instead.

Perhaps hoping to follow in Velicky’s footsteps – and showing a similar level of dedication and scope to his projects – modder Locaster has released LC_Build Your Noble House. In this mod, you start as a lowly peasant with a single hut, and have the opportunity to build up your own fiefdom from scratch, with over twenty different building types, and a wealth of home customisation and decoration options. We’d bet that The Sims doesn’t let you decorate your treasure vault with axes and dragon heads.

Conclusion Five: Dreams can come true (especially if you're a LittleBigPlanet fan)

Media Molecule, the developer behind the forthcoming difficult-to-categorise content creation tool Dreams released a video this week to celebrate the PlayStation’s tenth birthday. In it, they demonstrated a level from LittleBigPlanet, one of their notable earlier successes, and it looks astonishing.

In the Twitch podcast, it’s revealed that the entire level has been created in Dreams, which shows off the power the sandbox game is capable of. And though it doesn’t detail how much familiarity with the tool is needed to get to this level of scale and polish — I’m guessing a lot — it certainly impresses. LBP itself was a complex bit of kit tucked behind an enjoyable game, but Dreams looks set to make the creation itself the game. An admirable notion, but one we’re not convinced is going to turn into sales. There are certainly dedicated content creators out there who will adore this, but unless the tool is accessible and user-friendly it will turn off potential buyers. Hopefully Media Molecule will be more forthcoming with specifics as we move into 2019 and get closer to release.

Rob Kershaw

I've been gaming since the days of the Amstrad. Huge RPG fan. Planescape: Torment tops my list, but if a game tells a good story, I'm interested. Absolutely not a fanboy of any specific console or PC - the proof is in the gaming pudding. Also, I like cake.