Rundown (11/01-11/07) Get Hyped for Student Transfer Version 5!

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Wherein I discuss STVV’s imminent debut, the modern political strife, another allegedly auspicious acquisition, and an anticipated… agglomeration!

So, this past week was a pretty big one in the world of TG/TF/TSF visual novels. Not only was there a new title released in the form of P.D.A. – Personal Data Altercator, which I posted a review of on Wednesday, but the Student Transfer dev team announced that the much-anticipated Version 5 of the game will finally be released on November 8, 2020. Yes, after over 1.5 years since the release of Version 4, Student Transfer is getting another massive content update and another layer of polish, and it will be occupying the very top of my priority list… after the usual things like work, health, hygiene, eating, sleeping, dailies, and other Nigma Box content.

I hope to have a review of Student Transfer Version 5 available on November 25th, but before then, I will release my usual flowchart, which I have already started updating based on the activity seen in the developer Git repository. Once I know the flowchart is accurate, I will post it under my Student Transfer page. Oh, and the game will be available to download via the official Student Transfer website.

…Okay, that takes care of my introduction, so let’s shift to the video game news.

This week the general news cycle of… everything, pretty much, was eaten up by the US presidential election, whose results were staggered and delayed, turning what is traditionally only a few hours of unrest into several days. But ultimately, the blue and mild flavor of conservatism won the championship for America’s future, and that’s good for everybody. Well, everybody who isn’t quantifiably evil, deplorably wealthy, or more of a ‘person’ in the theoretical and biological sense of the word.

However, this did not stop the expected pre-release hype cycle of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, both of which are due to release this upcoming week. Consoles were sent out to media, previews and reviews were posted, and much anticipation ran throughout those who, despite undergoing a year of financial hardship, are still keen on getting the latest and greatest video game machines. As such, there was not much that caught my eye this week when perusing the usual headlines, beyond a curious story that cropped up on Friday afternoon and an expected announcement that went live minutes after I finished the first draft of this post.

As detailed in an article by VGC, Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of 2K Games and Rockstar, is in talks to acquire Codemasters, a publisher/developer that exclusively specializes in racing games. This acquisition, which is said to be for approximately $974.5 million, is basically a done deal, as Codemasters is awaiting a final review by the board and for their shareholders’ approval. However, I need to pause and ask why exactly Take-Two would be so interested in a mid-sized publisher with such a narrow area of expertise. Perhaps they simply feel like Codemaster’s output could be better served under their leadership. Perhaps they feel that their catalog needs annualized racing games. Perhaps they want Codemasters’ expertise in making the driving in all their games feel nice and smooth.

But regardless of their reason, this once again represents the industry getting smaller, consolidating, and one of the few mid-sized publishers becoming a mere subsidiary. As I said last week, acquisitions should be great, but in execution, they really aren’t. They shrink industries, they make it harder for newcomers to enter the upper echelon, and they give customers fewer choices while making it easier to form agreements with what would be their competition. As such, I cannot really look at this as a good thing. Also, Take-Two are peddlers of some egregious manipulative trash like the NBA 2K series, so I don’t want their mitts on anything more than what they already own.

Oh, and on the subject of acquisitions, I have seen some buzz and wonder about whether or not Sega will become acquired by a larger company in the relative future, as they recently sold their arcade division, shut down the iconic Akihabara arcade, and asked 650 staff members to retire early. None of that is good, and with the arcade division now gone, Sega actually becomes a more attractive purchase to other major publishers or console manufacturers, so I can see the underlying logic here. But people really shouldn’t want to see Sega lose their independence and be bought by Microsoft or whoever.

For the better part of a year, it’s been widely known that EA was working on a remaster of the Mass Effect Trilogy, and after various leaks and insider scoops EA and Bioware have finally announced Mass Effect Legendary Edition. The title features about what one would want and expect based on the very premise. All three games in one package with all single-player and cosmetic DLC included along with updated textures, shaders, models, and effects. Better frame rates and resolution that vary depending on your platform and needs. And various technical enhancements that will hopefully smooth out some of the 7th generation RPG jank that persisted in the original titles and make Mass Effect 1 more similar to its sequels.

As somebody who loved the original trilogy, and considers 2 and 3 to be some of her favorite games of all time, this is all music to my ears and I am definitely going to pick up this compilation sometime after its release. Which will be relatively soon, as Mass Effect Legendary Edition is currently slated to release in Spring 2021 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, with the PS5 and Xbox Series receiving enhancements.

However, this great news was followed by the sour reminder that Bioware and EA are still intent on advancing Mass Effect onwards as an IP, and are having a “veteran team” work on a new game in the series…

Look, I loved Mass Effect, and I think the universe was dope, but after how much Bioware has struggled against the demons of terrible management and mandated crunch, I don’t want to see them do… anything. As far as I’m concerned, they’re cursed. They’re done. They underwent hardships so severe that I doubt they could manage the development of a AAA game without severely harming the wellbeing of their developers, and delivering a product that only breed anger and discontent from the community. Partially because their own upper management is poop on a stick, and partially because EA, despite being such a successful publisher, is terrible at managing their projects.

I honestly don’t want to see Bioware do anything more than cling to their past, put out remasters, and become a support studio for EA’s other projects, and I think the staff, however creatively draining that might be for them, would be much happier that way, as their work would be stable and predictable, and we would have less “stress casualties” coming from the game maker.

Header image comes from the Student Transfer dev team when they detailed the content to be added in Version 5 back in July 2020.

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