Rundown (8/02-8/08) The Widescreen Festival

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Wherein I discuss my resolution revisions, a pair of anticipated ports, and the woes of Limestone Games.

A few weeks ago, I began working on the initial run of header images for Psycho Bullet Festival: The Odyssey of Abigale Quinlan. My 2018 novel that will be published on Nigma Box from August 14th through November 20th. Normally, this would be no problem, but as I was starting on the header for the first chapter, I ran into a bit of a problem. I didn’t have enough space to fit the entire title of this novel across two ‘lines’ of text. Because of this, I moved beyond the usual 120 by 80 pixel canvas I have been using this past year and up to 160 by 90 pixel canvases, as those have dramatically more horizontal space, and conform to the modern standard 16:9 aspect ratio. The transition has been simple, so simple in fact that I could, realistically, go back, edit, and improve all of my previous header images to accommodate this larger resolution and everything I have learned by making 60+ sprite art dioramas this past year.

Will I actually do this? Eh, maybe if I have a good reason to— like if I decide to sell my novels and short story compilations on Amazon, like I tried to do back in 2014. But over the past few weeks, I’ve fallen behind on my Nigma Box workload, so I probably should avoid taking on new projects until I get that nice 1 month of content buffer re-established.

This past week kicked off with a fair bit of port news, starting with a leaked announcement by way of the Taiwan Digital Game Rating Committee, who listed No More Heroes for the Nintendo Switch. This would be none too surprising, as, in 2019, series creator Goichi Suda was in talks to bring 2007’s No More Heroes and 2010’s No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle to modern platforms. Plus, with No More Heroes 3 on the horizon, and the series made relevant again with 2018’s Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, now would be the best time to port the older titles to allow existing fans (such as myself) to revisit the original titles, and for a whole new generation to enjoy them.

The next announcement was innocuously dropped by Nintendo on a random weekday morning, where they revealed Pikmin 3 Deluxe. As expected, the title is largely an expanded port of the original with all DLC included, but a few new additions such as quality of life improvements, a co-op campaign, and bonus side-story content involving series protagonists Olimar and Louie in order to help flesh out the lore of Pikmin a bit more. After knowing, or at least believing, that this game was coming for what feels like years at this point, it is nice to finally have a confirmation of its existence and to know that a new generation can experience the joy of directing eager carrot people to murder and pillage on October 30th. Because I guess nothing says Halloween like a reminder that the Earth will one day decay, fall into ruin, and be pillaged by alien creatures long after humanity ends its run.

This week was also home to another State of Play event, which mostly served as an announcement platform for a lot of smaller publishers and developers. While none of the games shown were privy to my interest, the one major takeaway for me was Aeon Must Die! An anime-inspired beat ’em up with a slick visual identity, dialogue choices, dual protagonists battling over the same body, adaptive enemy AI, and a death/sanity system that plays into how difficult the game is.

It sounded like one hell of an ambitious project, but then, almost immediately after the trailer dropped, it was revealed that the team working on this project at Limestone Games have all quit the studio. The reasons cited for their departure can be surmised as withheld payment for the work they did, mandated crunch that demoralized the developers, and a CEO (Yaroslav Lyssenko) who was a ripe bastard of a person. The developers cataloged and posted their testimonies via Dropbox, providing an exhaustive level of detail about just what was going on at this largely unknown developer, and calling the game’s publisher, Focus Home Interactive, to take action. Which they are.

It sucks that this sort of thing is so common in the games industry. That terrible people can amass power, abuse others, and be so inhuman to those they work for, even at a smaller studio like this. Naturally, I hope that this can be solved diplomatically, that the publisher can rob Yaroslav Lyssenko of his position of abused power, that the rights to the game can be transferred, and the developers can continue to work on this project, as it was clearly crafted with love. But even if the proceedings aren’t that clean or straightforward, I need to give mad props to the developers of this project for organizing and putting this man on blast on their own.

They’re unified, they’re organized, and they dropped this bomb right after the reveal. This is exactly how you should call out abusive studio heads, and I hope that more developers can be this organized going forward as they call out abusers and force the games industry to be a better and safer place to work in.

The header image this week is a snapshot of me experimenting with 16:9 header revisions using, which is a great program for creating sprite art.

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