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Adam Harris

as Nerd Interests' Lead Writer/Editor, I approve and edit submitted articles as well as assist with daily operations. Many of my contributions are opinion editorials on video games; I like to share my unique take on the gaming industry and its quirks.

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Witcher 3 Developer Taking Time with Cyberpunk 2077 

The developer behind the recent title The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a game that Steam rated as 10/10, is reportedly not rushing the development process for their upcoming major title. In a statement on the group’s twitter from the co-founder and studio head they explain “Cyberpunk 2077 is progressing as planned but we are taking our time – In this case, the silence is the cost of making a great game.” This comes as little surprise, the studio giving the defiantly edgy release date of “when it’s ready” as a part of this game’s teaser trailer.

Coming at a somewhat dramatic time for the dev, the statement also sheds light on recent departures from their ranks and clarifies that any recent disharmony in the team would not endanger their current projects. Continuing, they explain that they do not wish anyone ill-will stating:

“Do people leave? Sure they do. We always wish them all the best and respect both their decision and the feedback they give us as the reason for their departure . . . but we also have a set of values that constitutes who we are and how we do things.”

If their statements hold true and the team is unfazed by recent changes and the extended time they are taking, Cyberpunk 2077 is preparing to be a rich, well-constructed, open-world sci-fi experience that fans have been craving. A win for CD Projekt is particularly welcome in this genre after the major flop that was Bioware’s Mass Effect: Andromeda. The studio has proven that it can create gorgeous games in a fantasy setting and this game will test their ability to craft in the cyberpunk domain, work that certainly pulls from many separate resources and different areas of research.

In this author’s opinion, the idea that a developer would take more time to ensure something is good is welcome and exciting. With single-player immersion becoming less common with the popularity of the online experience, if the developers of The Witcher 3 want to take their time to make another similarly fun single-player game, let them do that.  Rushing production for games in an attempt to capitalize on the momentum of popularity, something that Rockstar may have been guilty of with GTA V, is not a move that ever benefits the player. Give them time to make new engines, give them time to ensure quality, hell, give them time to eat a sandwich. Taking as much time as needed for artists to be satisfied with their final product is essential to an enjoyable end result.

Watch the trailer here and get hype about sticking-up sexy crab cyborgs.

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Red Dead Redemption Trailer #2 In-Depth Analysis

You’ve probably been hit recently with Youtube ads about it. The rootin’-est tootin’-est huntin’-est shootin’est series about the wild, wild west has returned. Though at this time no Will Smith cameo has been confirmed, Red Dead Redemption’s second trailer dropped a few days ago. A lot happens in its 1:29 runtime and as a causal watcher who is mostly just concerned with the big bullet points – the biggest being, that the game is coming out – it’s easy to overlook a lot of enjoyable details. I took the time to break down a lot of what to take away.

The trailer opens up cinematically with a man and his horse surrounded by all the classic, establishing mis-en-scene one would expect: the camp site, the undisturbed plains, the sun peeking over the mountains. The classic soft western backing music acts as foundation as successfully as it has in the previous Rockstar western titles. From the beginning, it has all the makings of an exciting and immersive trailer and no guns have even been discharged.

The trailer continues, proving itself to be narrative driven by sticking with the single character to be followed. Beginning to shed light on what’s going on in this world, our character is seen aggressively disturbing a man sleeping on his bedroll in a situation that is clearly some form of debt collection. It is clear by this point that this character is going to be some kind of villain or extreme anti-hero as shakedowns are typically not something your average lawful good character is interested in doing unless gold “good job” stars are what’s hiding in the pockets of the assailed.

The trailer progresses following our character’s travels up a visibly high mountain that puts a lot of the world on display, a feeling of scale and height that I am very hopeful will make it into the game as far as its ability to create an attractive rendering distance in the way Grand Theft Auto V has already proven Rockstar is capable of creating. Moving forward there is a very purposeful and interesting shot with a passing wagon that reveals our main character riding through your classic western town that includes various types of wooden buildings typical for the genre. Next comes a shot of the bells of a church, another western staple, and at this point, the trailer’s dialogue has revealed who this character is and their significance.

The trailer follows Arthur Morgan, a member of Dutch’s gang which was an integral plot element and group that John Marston was also a part of in the previous game. By this point, it is clear that the story being told is one happening before Dutch’s death, as Dutch was taken out back old yeller style in the previous title.

It would seem as though Rockstar has taken a very artfully gentle approach to “earning” its “evil” characters. Thinking back from the progression of the silent protagonist in Grand Theft Auto III, then Tommy Vercetti in Vice City, then Carl Johnson, then Nico Bellic – our protagonists that are shown to be anti-heroes are always coupled with genuine traits that make them believable and their choices of criminal acts realistic and comprehensible for the audience following a narrative. This time however it would seem, and I hope, that our lead is truly an awful person, the waters of morality not muddied by good intent. We have played before as a good guy who is the product of a bad environment, it’s time to go deeper and explore how someone who is a crazed chaotic evil sociopath might deal with their world and affect the events of their story, you know, like playing as Brucie in GTA IV.

As the trailer continues, Morgan establishes himself as a deplorable human-being in the best way one might. He is seen threatening the son of a deceased man. It’s one thing to directly threaten someone, but a truly evil character paints a picture with what they imply. As the shot before shows the young man’s mother crying over a tombstone, in the following one you hear “Maybe when your mother’s finished mournin’ your father. I’ll keep her in black – on your behalf.” The cutaway that follows shows how causal Morgan is about threats of murder, his expression, not a cheesy evil scowl or crazed smile, but something much more frightening and subtle. His expression during this threat is a realistic expression on the conviction on the face of someone who you really should not doubt will kill you after having killed your father.

The title slate falls and it’s clear how much this character’s aggression and violence is going to be a plot element. From here, things become more of a montage. In quick succession, we see the robbery of a train and perhaps a bank as well. From the background dialogue, we hear Morgan speaking to a group and come to learn how he leads others in crime as well as engages in it himself.

As the video’s composition begins to hasten and mount into a crescendo we see more scenes of violence and chaos and a big detail of the presence of a bow in the game, showing this world to be more primitive, a quality Dutch hoped to preserve in the advancing world the first redemption game.

then suddenly things shift to show other aspect of the story, showing there is more going on than senseless violence. The trailer ends showing a side of vulnerability and perhaps compassion to Morgan, displaying a potential love interest and finally his own words declaring his loyalty to the morally questionable and precarious Dutch.

There is still a while to go before the game’s release some time in spring of next year, but these details give fans a lot to theorize, investigate, and hype. Judging purely by the studio’s track record and what is being shown in the video, this game will improve on the open-world formula. Redemption 1 separated itself from Grand Theft Auto and had its own identity. This author hopes the aiming system is improved on and the ability to manage your posse is an option. Until then, we will keep you up-to-date

What would you like to see? Drop a comment and let me know!

Video Game Voice Actors Strike Reaching Ending After Near Year

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing voice actors in video games announced plans to end its 11 month strike against 11 video game companies after reaching a “tentative agreement” with the 11 companies affected, some of which are Activision, Insomniac, and Electronic Arts. Having begun in October of 2016, this strike goes on record as the longest in all of the Screen Actors Guild history and the only for video game performing artists. After picketing on multiple fronts agreements were reached to improve compensation, disclosure of work details, and health protections for union members. Not all demands were met, with a significant back-end payment program not meeting the cut, but multiple other breakthroughs were made. The recent agreed upon terms are:

  • A new bonus structure that “provides an addition payment to performers.”
  • This payment, which must be delivered no later than a game’s release date, is calculated by the number of recording sessions an actor worked on a title.
  • It starts with a $75 payment for the first session and runs up to $2,100 after 10 sessions.

This does not mark the end of the deal making process with more remaining to be decided. A SAG-AFTRA board meeting in October will review and possibly confirm details. When all is said and done, the new contract will be in place for three years.

“The courage of our members and their fortitude these many months has been admirable and I salute them. We are always stronger together.” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement.

Source

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture Studio Will be Gone For A Bit

The Chinese Room, the studio behind popular walking simulator and first-person adventure Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture will be “going dark” for the next few months. In a blog post by Creative Director Dan Pinchbeck on the developer’s website, he explains that due to financial issues and a health scare, there will be an extended closure that has been “in the cards since earlier this year.”

Mr. Pinchbeck explains that leading up to this hiatus, he had been attempting to secure a follow-up project, struggling to keep the studio’s lights on, and dealing with lay-offs to staff.

The post ensures that this is “just a pause” and will not be an end for the studio. Merch, soundtracks, and their games will all still be available. Additionally, the team will continue to keep an active twitter and interaction with fans, just in a reduced fashion. With the temporary closure, the team still plans to complete two new titles: The 13th Interior and Little Orpheus.

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Grand Theft Auto Meets The Legend of Zelda: Breath Wild

The hot coffee mod is out and the cold leaf-y mod is in. Well known busta’ from Grove Street, Carl Johnson has found his way into the Legend of Zelda universe. At first glance it may seem that this may have occurred through the same time warp that placed Cloud of Final Fantasy VII in Final Fantasy: Tactics but it’s only the work of a mod.

Verified as not a canonical update available on the Nintendo Switch, a video has surfaced of a PC emulated C.J. shredding it up in his trademark wife-beater and jeans. The mod does not include any playable missions but hopes are that the modders are currently working on a train to run through Hyrule. It might make Carl might feel more comfortable, even if following said train is all he had to do.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is Getting Handsy

Shooting is hard. You have to move your thumb in one – maybe even two – directions at a time to aim and don’t even get me started about all of the intricate muscles of the fingers and hand involved in pulling back the trigger to fire. Who wants to do all of that work when you could simply push one button and have all of that done for you? Good thing COD is always on the cutting edge.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will be adding the “Gesture Warfare” gameplay mode to their game from September 22 through September 25. This mode will include multiple ways to damage and kill opponents using your player’s animated hand gesturing.  The gestures will take the place of the tactical grenade, a logical choice given the amount of time it takes for weapons in that slot to do damage. There will be nine gestures in total and they will work in different ways. This means you won’t have to worry about relentless instagibs robbing the mode of any joy. The mode will have a score limit of 20 and players will not be limited exclusively to using the gestures; you will have the ability to use other weapons.

This is likely a way to test a new idea on the public, using this time to gauge the audience for its response for potential further use and development. This is an interesting evolution from the days of play-testing in remote office spaces. With the immediate response provided by online play, this kind of consumer interaction will likely become more of a regular practice. Times have certainly come a long way from the only similar way to harm an opponent would be emotionally by toggling crouch over their deceased avatar.

This mode will be live all weekend. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself:

https://youtu.be/VscseC-rx-8

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Destiny 2 Update Coming Soon

Are you playing Destiny 2? Well, time to look to your other hobbies for a bit. Perhaps you like bird watching. Stamp collection is in season, I’ve heard. Monday, Sept. 25, the game will be going down for maintenance for a patch release updating the game to version 1.0.3.

While the studio did not give many details about what would be being updated specifically, there are some issues they are aware of and may be looking in to fixing:

  • Trials of the Nine was not disabled properly at this week’s ritual reset. Moving forward, players should expect this activity to be available each Friday at 10 a.m. PDT through Tuesday at 2 a.m. PDT.
  • The quest step “His Highness’s Seal” is not properly incrementing when players acquire Emperor Seals.
  • Occasionally, objects aren’t properly spawning within the Exodus Crash Nightfall strike. Players may need to relaunch the activity for objectives to properly spawn.
  • Public event completions are not properly granting Clan XP upon completion.
  • Clan Engrams are not being rewarded to some qualifying players. NOTE: If a player leaves a clan and joins a new clan mid-week, they will not be able to earn further Clan Engrams until the following weekly reset.
  • If a player creates a new character after an alternate character has earned a raid key on a given week, the key will be erroneously removed from character Inventory. NOTE: Raid keys are removed, by design, with each weekly ritual reset.

The update will begin at 9 a.m. ET, when Destiny 2 will start preventing new sessions. then at 10, the game will boot the remainder of players off the server. Though its often difficult to give a precise window, the patch is planned to take 5-6 hours, the perfect amount of time to get that scrapbook in order.

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Final Fantasy Classic Remastered for PS4

If you are one with finer tastes when it comes to your choice of Final Fantasy game, you’ll agree that the series began to lose some of its charm after the ninth title in the series. That’s not to say the tenth game was bad, but it marked a change of direction as far as storytelling, composition, and presentation for the series. Of course, with Final Fantasy IX being the last game to be developed for the original PlayStation console the changes weren’t too much of a surprise. Jumping up toward the capabilities of the then new PS2 meant there was a lot more that they could do. A lot of choices for direction and game play opened up and as a developer, there is a certain expectation to balance technological innovation with your upholding of the classic tropes. That being said, woo boy, they jacked the formula up progressively.

However, those whose broken hearts have been aching since finishing the game during its release in 2000 are in for an incredible treat. Final Fantasy IX, debatably one of the fringe-ier entries, has received a shiny new remake for the PS4.

Here are some details from the press release:

  • High-definition movies and character models
  • Auto-save functionality
  • Seven optional booster features, including high speed mode and no encounter mode, the Master All Abilities booster, which will allow players to automatically master equipped weapons and gear, as well as features to maximize character levels, magic stone counts and gil
  • PlayStation®4 trophy support, share functionality and remote play with the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system

These changes have solved all of the issues I faced when coming back to play the game after years. When starting it up, I would always cringe at how rough a lot of the visuals held up. The auto-saving is also important. I don’t play games to gamble with progress and many times a death that had made me go back an entire chapter wrecking my progress (because I was excited and immersed sadly enough) has made me stop playing a game entirely.

The retail price for this one is $20.99 but if you grab the game before September 26th, bam, you’ll only have to pay $16.79. Now, if only they could solve my issues with the scary chef monster and frustrating chocobo treasure side-quests.

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8 Reasons Why PS4 Undoubtedly Continues to Trump XB1

In a recent Tom’s Guide opinion editorial, seven reasons were given as to why the Xbox One is a superior console to the PS4. While some of these points may have held some weight, the conclusion was ultimately incorrect. Dating back from the original PlayStation console, Sony has been the only option for those who care about picking the generally better, more popular console. Without further ado, here are eight very not clickbait reasons why the PS4 is the correct console to be playing.

1. Graphics, man

Sony has consistently come through with consoles that deliver the most visually interesting games. Where Microsoft’s Xbox represents a capitalist-pig agenda, mass producing clunky bricks that are prone to RRoD-type failures, the PlayStation console has always been focused on a higher quality product and putting logos on their consoles that do that cool 90 degree turn thing. PS4’s cross-platform games will consistently run at higher resolutions and with superior frame rates when compared with their XB1 counterparts. As this is the second consecutive generation that this has occurred, it would seem to indicate a trend. Ruh-roh.

2. Popularity (for Multiplayer)

Given the significance of games such as Overwatch, the multiplayer experience has become more important to the average player. This means that playing online with your friends is something you will end up eventually wanting to do for a big title, even if you really don’t want to. Few people own two consoles and because of this, a choice must be made. The obvious choice would be the more popular console as you would be able to play with more of your friends, statistically. You can pretty much just play the odds on this one. The PS4 has simply sold more units. Easy choice.

3. Controller Design

Video games are about cutting edge design and technology. Players don’t want some clunky, fat, awkward rock to hold in their hand. They want something sleek, ergonomic, and visually balanced. The XB1 controller looks like a good design that was left out in the sun for too long and had all of its components serendipitously melt into place. I’m not saying the controller looks like it was hit by a train or anything. It was hit by something much smaller like a pick-up truck or a minivan.

4. Japan

The best games ever made are Japanese. Some may want to argue against this with lists of non-Japanese games that are very good, but if you take a look at the average top ten list for games, it’s going to be bloated with at least 50.34% of Japanese-made games. The recent Yakuza 0 is an example of this that’s an exclusive and is very good. I rest my case. Japan.

5. Naming Convention

The Sony brand is to some degree about simplicity. The major PlayStation consoles don’t have anything to hide with flashy names that disguise what they are: PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4. The PS4 knows what it is; it’s the fourth console after the third console. The Xbox “One”? It’s not the first console. The Xbox 360? Why? Because I turn 360 degrees and walk away? No, thanks.

6. The Picture

As you can tell by this picture, the PS4 is clearly on top of the Xbox console. While it is not clear how it got there, I would speculate that it naturally climbed on top to assert its dominance. Further, you can clearly tell which console is the PS4. The PS4 says “PS4” on the front. The XB1 has an image of a cracked egg on it. I think I’ll pass, eggbox.

7. The XBO may be ill

Upon its original release, the XB1 came with a Kinect peripheral that inflated its price. Microsoft has since removed this from their package and reduced the price. Some say this was because of the declining popularity of motion controls, but this was not the case. It’s because the Kinects were sick. They fell off of the original package due to atrophy. No one wants to open a box and see a dead Kinect. Stay away from this peripheral.

8. Legacy

If the tone of this article was lost to you, the idea that people should have to pick a side in a console “war” is silly. That the PS4 is winning the current competition is very clear, so there is no need to argue for or against it. What console someone is playing is a non-issue. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to choose a side and could play everything we wanted on one platform. No top ten list is going to confirm or reject the enjoyment that someone has with their platform of choice. It is that relativity that makes these types of arguments specious and ridiculous.

However, my personal opinion is that PlayStation is the best console available. This is because of the recent history of the brand. The PS2 was the last great console to exclusively be about enjoying what was on a disk with no other distractions and the original PlayStation console was just as solid. Microsoft has done little creatively for the industry and in its wake inflated it with empty gimmicks that have gone on to fill the UI of both consoles with worthless spam features and content. Sony has done their best to keep up in a race for unnecessary but demanded features that really shouldn’t be a part of a game console and that’s a shame. I believe Microsoft is a large influence on this shift of direction. If someone’s goal is to support a clean and healthy future for games, it would seem the lesser of two evils is the direction Sony is headed.

NBA JAM to NBA 2k17 – Evolution of the Sports Genre

Though I have never been a fan of sports, I have always enjoyed playing video games about them. Sports come with a large amount of down-time and ask that you already understand them before you enjoy them. When it comes to watching and playing, you need to have a lot of previously acquired information to properly appreciate them. As someone who is not particularly invested in learning the history or technique of the actual game, it really isn’t worth the labor. Videogames however, are not about absorbing dense information. Games are more practical and focused the experience of playing. Playing a game is fun. Comparing stats is not as fun (unless you’re one of those people.)

Sports games have always been a part of gaming, going as far back as Pong being a representation of Ping-Pong  (because it’s a sport.) Growing up in the 90s and 00s, my first experience with this kind of game was, though I played it on the SNES, the arcade classic NBA JAM. It boiled down the feel of a 2-on-2 game of basketball with style. The twinkling of cameras flashing on dunks was there. The ball catching on fire when you did well was there. These unrealistic but fun things were all coming together to make a game that fully realized in its game identity.

NBA Jam wasn’t a simulation; it took the most exciting things about watching basketball and boiled them down into an easily digested and understood interpretation. With ideas outside of what already existed, it represented the imagination and sense of humor that all of the very best games share. It wasn’t about the rules of basketball; NBA JAM was different in many ways from how an actual game of basketball is played. A simple representation of the sport was not enough, NBA JAM also drew from the humanity and life behind the experience of watching a game.

Fast-forwarding to the present, not much experimentation has happed in the realm of sports. Perhaps this is why so many “hardcore” gamers feel that these games are only played by casual players. The games never change in an environment where merit is earned by novelty.  The most popular sports franchises repeat the same formula year after year. Even after the success of the more quirky NBA Street series, the genre has not seen the light. Breaking away from the mold and concentrating on more than the fundamental mechanics of the sport will always result in a more compelling experience.

Enter NBA 2k17, an odd compromise between reality and the fantasy of a game. What can be expected from a contemporary sports game is the sport itself, the players in-game being representative of how they play in reality, and references to things that are happening currently in the sport. These are focuses because these are things sports fans are focused on. 2k17 reaches out the fans of not just the sport but to fans of games as well. It does this with its MYCAREER mode. This and the previous year’s game in the series used a narrative to get their point across. You play as a character you have created and your goal is to be a superstar. It gives you something to invest in and a goal that anyone can appreciate. Growing from novice to master is widely relatable.

This is not a good game by any means. The game is incredibly buggy, clearly rushed, loaded with irritating micro-transactions, and terribly unpolished to the point of almost being broken. However, I find myself playing it because this story that I have invested myself in and the RPG elements provide a feeling of growth. The game rewards successes and is responsive to them with its feedback, shallow and repetitive may it be. It is this responsiveness and willingness to analyze new perspectives regarding the sports genre that is causing an expansion of what basketball is in the context of gaming. Narratives in sports games are growing in popularity and this represents a change for the better. It represents a step away from the simulation and toward the whimsical exaggerations of a game like NBA JAM. Sports fans deserve to play the simulations they enjoy but even they should be able to enjoy the fun of playing a fun game.

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