Rundown (2/23-2/29) Relative Strangers

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Wherein I discuss familial matters, a remastered romantic tragedy, an intelligent distribution divergence, a Platinum combo, and the virus of destruction.

Over this past week, I had several family members come in from across the country and spent a few hours at my grandmother’s house with them. Or rather, I was in the same room as them, listened to their conversations, and did not say much of anything aside from the few instances where I was called upon. This is pretty much how all of my interactions with a large group of people go, and the situation was not at all helped by how these people were my relatives. People who I have some familial relationship to, but do not really know anything about, or really care for them.

I did not grow up with these people, they were not a consistent part of my life, and I do not have especially strong feelings for them. And unless I have some personal basis to know someone as a person, then they’re just a stranger to me. I get that we all share DNA and have some genetic responsibility to carry on a lineage, but as time marches on, I become more fond of the more classical idea of family being comprised of those who you know intimately, rather than those who you share blood with.

News time! In my review of The House in Fata Morgana, I mentioned that I probably shouldn’t have jumped in on the PC version of the title, considering how many visual and technical improvements were made when the game was brought to PS4 last year. Where the base game was fully remastered visually and bundled with the prequel Requiem for Innocence and various side-stories as part of a collection dubbed the Dreams of the Revenants Edition. The developers, Novectacle, were looking into bringing this release to PC, but couldn’t at the time due to a licensing agreement regarding side-story content added for this new release.

Recently, however, Novectacle has begun selling the remastered renditions of The House in Fata Morgana, and Requiem for Innocence on PCs in Japan, and announced that both will be released worldwide via Steam on March 12th. While this is not as cumulative a collection as the Dreams of the Revenants Edition, this is still a way to get the superior version of both of these games on the PC, and I’m happy that I’ll get the opportunity to play through the 4K remastered rendition of Requiem for Innocence within the relative future.

With Sony still dragging their feet on revealing the look and specifications on the PS5, Microsoft has once again provided a supple info-nugget regarding the Xbox Series X, listing that the system’s technical features between its GPU power, variable frame rates, fancy-dancy ray tracing lighting effects, SSD-powered load times, and other good stuff. But the most interesting takeaway from all of these technical details was, at least to me, how Xbox will be handling cross-generation titles through a cross-buy service known as Smart Delivery, granting owners of the Xbox One version of a title the ability to play the Xbox Series X version as well.

It’s an evolution of the PS3 and PS Vita cross-buy seen in titles like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and an extension of Microsoft’s own Xbox Play Anywhere service that was essentially just cross-buy between PC and Xbox One. It’s a fairly minor feature, but it’s a pleasant convenience that makes the transition into a new generation easier for consumers, as they do not need to worry about double-dipping on older titles. That being said, this feature is still opt-in for developers and publishers, so while first-party Xbox offerings and titles like Cyberpunk 2077 will be Smart Delivery compatible, that probably won’t be the case for every game coming to both Xbox One and Xbox Series X, mostly because of publisher tomfoolery and whatnot.

Yes, some publishers can be real butt munches, and it’s because of this that certain developers have taken on publishing duties themselves, such as jolly-old PlatinumGames, who made two announcements this past week. The first being the reveal of the next game from acclaimed director Hideki Kamiya, dubbed Project G.G. A game that was only revealed through a conceptual teaser trailer, but looks to be a kaiju character action game involving incredibly large-scale battles with very few participants, in a move that I suppose is meant to contrast the crowd-based battles seen in The Wonderful 101. There is not much to say because it was just a teaser trailer, and because the game also appears to be in a very early state, I doubt we will hear much about it for a good while.

It will also be a while before we hear much about what the new PlatinumGames Tokyo office will be working on, other than it will ‘live ops’ titles, which is apparently another way of calling a game a live service… or I guess we’re just calling them service games nowadays. Now, Platinum is one of the last developers who I would associate with service type games, but they have indeed worked on service mobile titles like Lost Order and World of Demons, both of which have been seemingly canceled due to the fact that they were made available in some capacity, and then all parties involved got mysteriously quiet about these games.

That being said, I really do have a distaste for most service games given how they push themselves using FOMO and ultimately limit the number of games and overall enjoyment the typical player can derive from this hobby, and I would rather see Platinum stick to the unprofitable single-player action game niche they have built for themselves. But, as I just said, those games probably won’t be enough to pay the bills, so I cannot blame them for jumping on this money train.

Next on the itinerary is… okay, so I do not like to talk about real-world issues in these Rundowns, but the 2020 Game Developers Conference, originally set to begin on March 16th, has been postponed to an undisclosed time in the summer. This can darn near entirely be attributed to the Coronavirus, or CODVID19, which has made travel for business and pleasure a very concerning notion, as the Coronavirus has become something far worse than your typical seasonal influenza. It’s genuinely shaping up to be a destructive force that very well could kill millions and cost the world dozens of billions depending on how widely it is spread, how well it can be treated, and its lethality. At first, these concerns were really only echoed by bigger companies that were skipping out on GDC, such as Sony, Microsoft, Unity, and Epic Games, but I suppose it was deemed right and safest if the event were just delayed to sometime after the viral threat level diminished.

I personally view this all as a dandy old reminder that the games industry does not exist in a vacuum. That humanity is ultimately quite frail. And that the world is ultimately a dangerous place rife with death and disease. It would be nice if everybody could just live at home, alone, locked in their hazmat suits, and enjoy talking to people through computer screens, never knowing the sickening warmth of another human, but we do not live in that reality. We live in this dark offshoot timeline that nobody is really happy with.

Anyways, I’m getting into that weird headspace again, so I’m gonna close things out and… go eat some fruit or something.

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