All posts by gamesavepoint

Masters of Doom, the story of id Software, being adapted for TV

The story of id Software, as told in David Kushner’s 2003 nonfiction book Masters of Doom, is being adapted for television, according to a report from Deadline. USA Network has ordered a pilot for the drama series, with James and Dave Franco’s Ramona Films producing.

Masters of Doom is officially described as “the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero.” The book focuses on the lives of id Software’s co-founders, the studio’s rise to fame from Commander Keen and Wolfenstein 3D to Doom and Quake. It also deals with the cultural impact of those first-person shooters, and the clash of personalities and ideologies that lead to Romero being fired from the developer.

Tom Bissell, who co-wrote the book The Disaster Artist (another Franco project), is writing and executive producing the show, which is reported to be an anthology series. Bissell’s other writing credits include games Gears of War 4, Uncharted: Lost Legacy, What Remains of Edith Finch, and the book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter.

A release window for the TV series based on Masters of Doom was not announced.


Persona 5: The Royal’s combo attacks include beef bowls and bullets

Persona 5: The Royal isn’t a mere re-skin of Persona 5. The new release will feature new characters, events, attacks, and more. Even adorable definitely-not-a-cat Morgana gets a twist.

In the latest trailer, its publisher, Atlus, shows off new combo attacks, finishers, and character Personas. The trailer also hints at more interactions between the game’s various friends without needing the protagonist to be present.

The footage opens with Yusuke asking Ryuji for help with a new attack move. Cut to the start of the strangest battle sequence I’ve ever seen. Still dressed in their battle gear, the two young men sit at a bar. Yusuke acts as bartender and cook, serving up a piping hot beef bowl to a voracious Ryuji. Just look at that form, that clean stream of broth. Gordon Ramsay would be proud.

Atlus via YouTube

It’s not long before an enemy bursts down the door, ruining Ryuji’s intimate beef bowl moment. Infuriated, Ryuji and Yusuke stop what they’re doing and pull out their guns. A volley of bullets shower the enemy. The entire affair ends with Ryuji lobbing a grenade, which Yusuke shoots, creating a massive explosion that obliterates the enemy. Obviously, the two of them high-five in front of the blast. It’s not Top Gun, but it is Persona.

Atlus via YouTube

The trailer suggests that Ryuji has another Awakening — the moment when a character’s Persona reveals itself to them — and this time it looks like Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King from the 16th-century Chinese classical novel, Journey to the West. The story is also the main inspiration behind the well-known Dragon Ball series. Sun Wukong is typically depicted wielding a powerful staff and riding a magic cloud to get around.

Not long after the new Persona shows up, Ryuji combines it with his original one, Captain Kidd, a menacing skeleton pirate. In the clip, they fuse together to transform into a hip surfing skeleton listening to what definitely must be, as the kids say, some sick beats. Before launching his attack, Ryuji calls this new Persona “William.”

Atlus via YouTube

William Kidd perhaps? It goes right back into the pirate theme that Ryuji originally has, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Persona 5: The Royal will be released Oct. 31 on PlayStation 4 in Japan, and some time in 2020 for North America.


Star Wars land merch on eBay: The rise of the lightsaber smuggler

On opening day at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge I stood in line for over an hour to build a $100 robot at Droid Depot. Meanwhile, the line for Savi’s workshop — where fans can create their own custom lightsabers for $200 — was even longer. Getting there was no small feat either. I had to book my trip months in advance, pay for a Disney hotel room, and then fly myself to Anaheim, California for opening day.

Visiting Galaxy’s Edge, especially in these early months, can be challenging and expensive. Perhaps that’s why eBay has become a popular destination for exclusive merchandise that you can only purchase inside Disney Parks.

eBay certainly isn’t concealing the situation. It sent out a public relations blast touting some interesting data. It says that on the park’s opening day fans executed more than 360,000 searches for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge related items. Two weeks after the park had opened, it was still seeing some 3,600 searches each day. The most popular items were, unsurprisingly, Disney’s famous collectible pins. That includes rare pins that were dated and only sold on opening day, only available to annual passholders, or only given to cast members (Disney Parks employees).

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge - Charlie manipulating the panels on a finished R2 droid
Disney Parks guests spend time picking off an assembly line of available parts while building their new robot friend at the Droid Depot inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. R2-E2 was brought to life before my eyes by a cast member.
Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

But, eBay also said folks were shopping for custom items, including lightsabers and their accessories.

After receiving the email, I spent a good while searching around eBay myself. I was honestly surprised by what I found. Most sellers moving pins, for instance, were well-established in the pin trading and reselling community on the platform. Most of their items, including Disney Parks passholder exclusives and limited edition pins, are going for about $10 over retail price. So a $15.99 pin can be had for $24.99. Folks are free to bid on them, otherwise they can click the “buy now” button and snatch them up for just a bit more than they would have been able to inside the park.

But the gloves are off when it comes to custom lightsabers and droids. Sellers of those items are regularly asking for more than twice the listed price inside the park. Even screen accurate reproductions – essentially ready-to-wear replica lightsabers from Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities – are fetching enormous prices.

The rarity of the items sold inside the Disney Parks is just one of the many reasons to visit them, after all. The difficulty of acquiring exclusive merch isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. It presents an opportunity to make a park goer’s experience more unique. But some folks are clearly taking advantage of the situation. During Polygon’s visit we saw more than one group leaving with as much merchandise as they could carry, seemingly uninterested in the blue milk or the Millennium Falcon parked nearby.

Opening day at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was an opportunity for some guests to grab as much merch as they could carry.
Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

Exclusive merchandise is only produced in limited quantities. That’s sort of the point. When guests roll in to Disney Parks with the intention of stocking their eBay storefront, it literally takes away the opportunity for other guests to buy items during their visit to the parks. It also makes lines longer.

Scalping Disney Parks merchandise has been a problem for a while now. It got so bad last year that, according to the Orange County Register, Disney even revoked some passholders’ privileges. They still had to pay out the balance of their pass, but they weren’t allowed to actually visit the parks anymore because Disney caught them flipping merch for a profit.

I reached out to Disney Parks about the email I received from eBay, and about what I found when I visited the online auction site. They declined to comment on the situation.

I reached out to a number of sellers on eBay, and found one who was happy to talk to me. What attracted me to this particular eBay storefront was the fact that they aren’t actually selling existing lightsabers or droids. Instead, they’re selling made-to-order lightsabers and droids from inside the park. Their storefront includes what appear to be tourist pictures of Disney cast members explaining the variety of options available.

A sample of a listing from eBay for a customized lightsaber from Savi’s Workshop inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Essentially, this eBay seller isn’t trying to unload extra merchandise they’ve already bought. Instead, they’re offering a sort of personal shopping service.

What followed was one of the most bizarre telephone conversations that I’ve ever had.

When my phone rang, it was from a blocked number. The person on the other end of the line refused to give their name. In fact, they weren’t even the same person who actually owned the eBay account in question. They were merely an associate of that person. They also explained to me that they don’t go inside the park. Instead, they have someone else that does that work for them.

So, effectively, I was talking to a lightsaber middleman. A supplier. An illicit smuggler, if you will. Ironic, since that’s the same kind of theming the Disney uses for the experience of creating a lightsaber inside the park. When I pressed for more details about their operation, they eventually hung up on me.

I reached out to eBay about my experience on their platform, and to learn more about their interactions with Disney Parks concerning the resale of exclusive merchandise from inside Galaxy’s Edge. We’ll let you know when we hear back.


Games Are Better With Double Jumps

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

Last night, after hours exploring Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, I unlocked the ability to double jump. It was such a simple thing—one jump, another jump—but I suddenly felt a rush of possibility hit me. That’s because of all the video game-y tricks, double jumps might just be the best.

Whenever I think of game mechanics, I ask, “Is this elegant?” In other words, I look for mechanics that achieve the greatest amount of effect with the least amount of effort. I’m hard-pressed to think of a mechanic more elegant than the double jump. The concept of jumping and being able to jump again in midair opens up a wealth of possibilities for any game. It expands the space players can explore and can increase the complexity of platforming puzzles. It offers new tactics for dodging and manipulating enemies in combat. By simply adding one extra jump, the canvas grows in size. There’s more space to act in and more moment to moment decisions to make.

Getting a double jump in Bloodstained felt so good because it filled my brain with all sorts of ideas. In a game focused on exploration and backtracking, knowing that previously inaccessible areas were suddenly open to me created a palpable excitement. The fact that such a small alteration meant such a large increase of explorable space is, frankly, one of the coolest things.

In this video by my colleague Tim Rogers, which he made before Super Mario Odyssey released, he captures some of the sentiment I have about double jumps.

This was also true of Titanfall 2, where players initially played like a generic grunt before getting access to movement options ranging from wall-running to a double jump that covered a huge distance. Without the movement potential of the double jump, levels like the time-bending “Effect and Cause” would lose much of their magic. What made Titanfall 2 one of the best first-person-shooter campaigns of all time was how it turned movement and combat into a form of player expression. It wasn’t just that you had more options; you could use those options to craft moments of genuine beauty. The double jump was key to this, making it possible to bounce between walls, guns blazing. Remove it and Titanfall 2 would have fallen apart.

No double jump is the same. By adjusting how much control players have while in the air, designers can craft double jumps that are expressive get-out-of jail-free cards or modest course corrections. Just like how adjusting running speed can give us the weighty friction of Red Dead Redemption 2 or the balls-breaking antics of Doom, minor adjustments to double jumps create a spectrum of options. You can have the badass air-step combos of Devil May Cry, the glorious air battles and edge guarding of Super Smash Bros., or the impressive sequence breaking of Super Mario Odyssey speedruns.

Not every game needs a double jump. It doesn’t make sense in all cases; you don’t want Arthur Morgan bounding across the frontier, after all. But having them is certainly a benefit in most cases. They’re graceful. Without them, so many games would lose their magic. That all it takes is making one thing—a simple jump—into two things is gorgeous. A little shift, a tiny tweak, and your entire game can change.


David Kushner’s fantastic book Masters of Doom, about John Romero and John Carmack founding id Softw

David Kushner’s fantastic book Masters of Doom, about John Romero and John Carmack founding id Software, is getting a pilot on USA, to be produced by the Franco brothers and executive produced by prolific writer Tom Bissell (who, full disclosure, is a good friend of mine). Here’s to video game books turning into TV shows!


Budweiser applies to trademark “the official beer of esports”

Photo: urbanbuzz (iStock)

As growth industries go, it’s difficult to come up with one that appeared as suddenly and has skyrocketed as rapidly as esports. From competitive Overwatch and League of Legends play to the team-affiliated NBA 2K League, professional video gaming is going mainstream in a big way.

Esports leagues have been pulling down lucrative TV deals of late, with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting locking down early contracts with various competitive organizations. (They also have to compete with live-streaming platform Twitch, which beat virtually everyone else to the broadcasting punch.) It then stands to reason that A-list sponsors will continue to jump on the lucrative new medium, and thus Budweiser has reportedly filed for a trademark on the phrase “the official beer of esports,” per the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office’s online database.

According to pro gaming site The Esports Observer, Anheuser Busch (Budweiser’s parent company) has also filed for trademarks on “the official beer of gaming” and “the official beer of gamers.” (We thought that the official beer of gamers was that Miller Lite can-controller you can use to play the classics, but hey.) Bud Light is already an Overwatch League sponsor, and while the broader trademark remains pending as of this article’s publication, it’s an aggressive step in turning the macro-brew conglomerate into the boozy face of the next big sports industry.


Two new teaser images for Black Ops 4 Zombies DLC 3

UPDATE: Treyarch has shared another teaser image for something coming to Black Ops 4 Zombies on July 9. The image shows “Alpha Omega” and quoted with “The end begins.”

Treyarch has continued teasing the third DLC Zombies map for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on social channels with a new image and quote attached with the image.

Today’s teaser is an image with the caption “I know what must be done, and who must do it.”

The remaining 2 DLC maps for Black Ops 4 Zombies are going to take fans back to the Aether Storyline, after Black Ops 4 introduced a new Chaos Storyline. The Chaos story will be on hold until later on.

The new map is available starting July 9 for Black Ops Pass owners on PlayStation 4 in Black Ops 4.

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Final Fantasy 14 coming to TV with live-action series

Final Fantasy 14 will be adapted into a live-action television series from the production company responsible for Netflix’s forthcoming adaptation of The Witcher, Sony Pictures Television announced today.

A news release this morning said the show would stay faithful to the setting, characters, and lore of Final Fantasy 14, the franchise’s MMORPG which launched in 2013. Cid Garlond, the airship engineer, was mentioned as a principal character.

“The project will embrace the bold and genre-bending sensibilities of the revered and long-running Final Fantasy series, as it explores the struggle between magic and technology,” the statement said.

Hivemind, the company behind The Witcher, is developing the series. Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton have been tapped to write the series, and will also be part of a five-person executive producer team.

“We are working tirelessly to bring together artists from around the world who are united in honoring the extraordinary legacy of this franchise and its millions of fans around the world,” Jason Brown, Hivemind’s co-founder, said in a statement.

No formal title for the series was given, nor was a launch date or network partner.

Final Fantasy 14 already has a live-action TV series, albeit with a very different approach. Netflix’s Final Fantasy 14: Dad of Light tells the story of a father and son who rekindle their real-life bond through the fantasy role-playing game.


New Wolfenstein games will be released with uncensored Nazi imagery in Germany

Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, the next titles in the alternate-future first-person shooter series from Bethesda Softworks, will be released uncensored in Germany. They will be the first video games ever sold at retail inside that country to include Nazi imagery at launch. The announcement comes in the wake of a change in German national policy late last year, allowing the use of such iconography if the artistic use is justified by the content in the game.

Zenimax Germany tells Polygon that both the German and the international versions of Wolfenstein: Youngblood will be available on the game’s international launch day — on July 26 — for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot will also be available that same day for PS4 and Windows PC. They confirmed that the German version will be censored, while the international version will not. Both will be sold for the same price, and otherwise include the same content.

“Both versions — as with previous editions — are identical content wise, but feature different iconography within the game,” Zenimax said in an English language press release issued today.

The change in policy by the USK, the German rating body, was enacted in August 2018. Previously, other games in the Wolfenstein series had been forced to remove swastikas and even alter the appearance of Adolf Hitler to make him less recognizable. The change in policy now grants the same privileges to video games as had previously been given to movies and other creative works.

Today’s news is a big win for Zenimax Germany, but it’s not nearly the first time that team has succeeded in fighting censorship. In 2016, it announced that Doom, the reboot of the seminal FPS franchise, would be released uncensored in Germany. It was the first title in the series, which dates back to 1993, to debut in that country in its original format. Fallout 4 was also released uncut in Germany, and Fallout 3 was unbanned that same year.


Destiny’s going offline for 12 hours to prepare for cross save

The servers for both Destiny 2 and the original Destiny are offline for the next 12 hours. According to Bungie, the studio is preparing the game for the new cross-save feature coming later this summer. Both games will be unavailable to play on Thursday, June 27 from 10 a.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET.

It’s unclear why Bungie is also taking the original Destiny down for maintenance. The studio has yet to announce any kind of connectivity between the first and second game. However, all Bungie accounts are already connected. While it’s possible that the studio could add some connectivity between the two games, downtime for the original Destiny may be required for Destiny 2 to have cross save.

Like with all maintenance, the Destiny companion app and all third-party apps like Destiny Item Manager and Ishtar Commander are unavailable. The API will return and re-enable these features shortly after the game servers come back online.

Cross save will allow players to migrate their main accounts between PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. Google Stadia won’t join the Destiny family until it launches in November of this year.