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The best presidents in video games

Washington Post - Technology News

Most presidents in real life and in games have stained their hands with the blood of innocents, and Sonic the Hedgehog's president is no different. In "Sonic Adventure 2," we learn that Mr. President requested Eggman's grandfather, Gerald Robotnik, to unlock the secrets of immortality. Robotnik was driven by his need to cure his fatally ill granddaughter, Maria Robotnik. Of course, these experiments led to the creation of the "ultimate lifeform" Shadow the Hedgehog, as well as a galaxy-level threat in some kind of biolizard thing that Sonic kills as Super Sonic. Anyway, the point is that there's a direct line of cause and effect from Mr. President's decisions and the creation of the Eggman Empire, which threatens the peace of the United Federations.


Start 2021 off right with a great gaming laptop — get a Dell G7 for $400 off

Mashable

SAVE $400: The Dell G7 4K gaming laptop is a great way to experience PC gaming without the bulk of a desktop -- it's $400 off at Best Buy as of Jan. 20. Before they all start coming out, you're going to want to prepare by getting the right gear, whether that's one of the elusive new consoles or a high-end PC. If you haven't had any luck snagging a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, you should definitely look at dipping your toes into the world of PC gaming. A gaming laptop is a good way to start, and the Dell G7 is $400 off at Best Buy as of Jan. 20. The Dell G7 gets you a high-quality pc gaming experience without the bulk of a desktop.


'Hitman 3' is the grandest stage for your own stories, even as it tries to end its own

Washington Post - Technology News

I've already talked at length about how the brilliant second mission alone, based on "Knives out" or Agatha Christie's "Poirot" murder mysteries, already justifies this game's existence. Chongqing is another highlight, a deliberate throwback to the old Hong Kong levels of the original PC release. It's a rain-drenched district that once again illustrates the kind of grand interconnectivity and neon sheen that "Cyberpunk" tried to achieve, and "Hitman" does effortlessly. Rain slithers off his leather-coated back as he waits outside his mark's building, assessing the place. In the meantime, he can open an umbrella and make small talk with a woman waiting for her girlfriend, just one of the series' many small but important storytelling flourishes to make each level feel more alive than you've seen in any action adventure.


The Legend of Zelda, 'Dinky,' and a Bridge to My Daughter

WIRED

When winter made its second pandemic appearance here in Montana, I found myself pining to relive my first experience with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To my dismay, the sequel, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the bash-fest Nintendo released in November, didn't scratch my itch for sweeping, soothing landscapes and low-stakes puzzle solving during a year of high-stakes reality. I've been home with toddlers for 11 months straight, my every lockdown minute a battle against darkness and chaos, replete with my own two tiny red Bokoblins perpetually swinging their Boko Clubs at my weakened defenses. I wondered daily: Are there even enough stamella shrooms in the entire gaming universe to get us through this year? When we first hunkered down last spring, my kids were 18 months and 4 years old.


Why Do Exploding Barrels Make Video Games So Much More Fun?

WIRED

Too often game worlds can feel like static backdrops for gameplay. But by incorporating elemental reactions, developers bring complexity and characterization to a player's surroundings. By now we're all familiar with the overused exploding barrel trope. A single bullet is all it takes to create an explosion that can take out multiple enemies, turning an element in the environment into an interactive arrow in your quiver as you progress. While environmental storytelling has stolen the spotlight when it comes to designing spaces, emergent environmental narrative design is quietly the bigger innovation happening in games right now, with elemental reactions being the easiest to grasp.


Video game spending hits record $56.9 billion in 2020

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

With many Americans stuck at home last year due to the pandemic, spending on video games hit a new record. Total video game spending in 2020 hit $56.9 billion, up 27% higher than the previous year, says research firm NPD Group. Consumer spending last December, an important month for the industry with holiday shopping in full swing, reached a record $7.7 billion, a 25% increase from 2019. Last year also saw the arrivals of new video game hardware: Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series S/X. Both devices launched in November. Mat Piscatella, executive director and video game industry advisor for NPD Group, said on Twitter spending in December "could have been significantly bigger" if not for constraints on the supply of PS5s and Xboxes.


Blizzard's Battle.net launcher is getting a much-needed redesign

Engadget

For many, Battle.net is the portal into their favourite PC and macOS video games. As PC Gamer explains, though, the client has barely changed in the last eight years. Thankfully, a long overdue update has arrived. The general layout has been overhauled, and it's now possible to'favorite' games for easy access. The social pane has been reworked too, alongside a new notifications hub for messages and checking downloads.


Overwatch League wants to 'level-up' online matches, tournaments for 2021 season

Washington Post - Technology News

Activision Blizzard first created the Overwatch League to be a city-based, international sports league that mirrored format of traditional sports franchises. Teams are set in local markets so fans can support their hometown. But OWL has never been able to fully realize that dream. The pandemic made it impossible to hold live events last season and some franchise owners were counting on ticket sales and local sponsorships to balance their team checkbooks. Ticket sales are one of the few revenue streams from which the league does not withhold a sizable percentage.


Assassin's Creed fans have decoded its fictional Isu language

Engadget

From the wall of cryptic messages that greets you at the end of the first game to more recent mysteries, ciphers and hidden codes have been a part of the Assassin's Creed franchise since the very start. But as Eurogamer points out, its dedicated fans may have just solved one of its most complex riddles yet. Access the Animus, I never doubted you. In a video that's almost 30-minutes long, Access the Animus, a community dedicated to the lore of Assassin's Creed, detail how they went about deciphering Isu. If you haven't followed the series in recent years or tuned out of its modern-day storyline sometime around Assassin's Creed III, Isu is the language of the franchise's infamous precursor race.


How Old-School Text Adventures Inspired Our Virtual Spaces

WIRED

Lilybet Skatilar is a level 9 human bard wearing a shimmering rainbow cloak, fur-lined snow boots, a stylish purple scarf, sunstone earrings, baggy blue polka dot pants, a blue ruby ring, a jeweled engagement ring, and various other accessories accumulated in the town of Wehnimer's Landing in 1997. If you checked her out by typing "LOOK LILYBET," you would get a large descriptive paragraph of text--no images, just words that made the world come to life. I played this character in GemStone III, an early online role-playing game, for a precious six-month period when I was a 13-year-old learning how to relate to friends and strangers in my newfound teenage skin. What I didn't know at the time was that GemStone and similar titles from Simutronics Corporation represented a pivotal moment in the history of gaming. Simutronics' GemStone and its sister game DragonRealms helped build a bridge between the primordial single-player text adventure and what we now call MMORPGs, massively multiplayer online role-playing games.