Nerd Caliber
Nerd Lifestyle Magazine


Tech & Games

September 11, 2017

Patch Notes: Gamers Help After Harvey; Too Steamy For Steam

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(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a new, regular, ongoing series that aggregates recent game news into a single location. We hope you enjoy Patch Notes going forward.)

 

Harvey Relief Done Quick Stream Success

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Games Done Quick hosted a charity stream over the weekend earlier this month to raise money for The Houston Food Bank to support victims of Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas. This stream lasted for three days with 46 games played, and they raised more than $225,000 in total. Most impressive is the speed at which the stream was put together, having only been planned out two days in advance, and many of the streamers hosted from their own homes as they were not able to all get together in that amount of time. Other organizations also joined the relief effort: The Yetee and Fangamer both are donating to The Houston Food Bank with each sale of the special merchandise they have listed. The Houston Food Bank is the largest food bank in America, with 600 hunger relief charities spanning 18 southeast Texas counties. They were named top charity in Texas by Charity Navigator and the food bank estimates that each dollar donated will provide a full day of meals to someone in need. Even though the event is over, you can still make a donation at houstonfoodbank.org.

Sources:

https://gamesdonequick.com/

https://theyetee.com/collections/hrdq

http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/

 

Steam Censors Sexy Strangers (say that 3 times fast)

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The point-and-click adventure game Strangers in a Strange Land was pulled from Steam the last few weeks, but has since been allowed to return with giant red censor bars to shelter the audience from the more explicit content. Much like another game that had been pulled and reinstated to Steam for sex and nudity (House Party), the creators released an off-Steam patch for players who want to enjoy the full experience of the game.

While it may not be surprising that Steam does not permit graphic nudity or pornagraphic content, what is surprising is how many games get by these rules, as what is being seen now is how inconsistent Steam is with what it decides to censor. It seems that Steam doesn’t actually take any steps to censor games until there are complaints made against it, so only the games that gain in popularity end up getting censored. This is supported by the fact that there are many other adult themed games still there without censoring, Steam even offers sexual content and nudity tags for you so you can find such games yourself. It is also worth saying that there are many Triple-A titles with explicit content that also remain on Steam without any censoring, like The Witcher 3. This is where it becomes hard to understand where the line is drawn on what is considered in need of censoring and what’s not. Some saying that “porn games” should be censored while others say that porn is the only reason they want it.

Another big ban this week doesn’t come from Steam actually, but the country of Malaysia. Steam — the entire platform — was banned in Malaysia due to one game, Fight of Gods. Luckily, there is a work around, which is illegal, of course, but Valve is working on sorting this out. Unfortunately, it seems likely that the only way to resolve it is to ban the game entirely, due to it being labeled as “blasphemous.” The game is a 2D fighter featuring characters such as Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Zeus, etc. being pitted against each other in brutal combat. Honestly, considering the nature of the game, it is really not surprising that someone was offended.

Banning Steam altogether seems a bit of an overreaction though, but it seems that a number of religious leaders in the country along with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (maybe consider a shorter name) did call on the government to ban the game, calling it “the height of insensitivity.” The MCA religious harmony bureau chief Ti Lian Ker explained a fear that it would “contaminate the religious harmony.” The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a warning to Steam to remove the game within 24 hours, or else they threatened to take more extreme measures. Like ban the entire platform. No false threats come from the MCMC, they mean business. What the MCMC did was enact a DNS block against the Steam client, which is a block against their domain name. Of course, as said before, there are ways for people to work around the block, illegal as it may be, some found switching to Google DNS helped. Valve has responded by geoblocking Fight of Gods in Malaysia specifically, this way users in that area can still access the platform, minus that game.

In an interview with PCGameN, PQube and developers Digital Crafting explained that they “never received any communications from Malaysian officials,” and that “the game is not promoting any religious agenda and is not designed to offend.” PQube especially seemed upset by the block, as they stated they respect anyone’s choice to not play their game, but they are disappointed that some will not be given the freedom of that choice at all.

Sources:

http://kotaku.com/steams-haphazard-sex-games-policies-hit-another-game-1798670030

http://store.steampowered.com/app/669770/

https://www.lowyat.net/2017/140309/fighting-game-featuring-jesus-buddha-receives-condemnation-religious-leaders/

https://www.pcgamesn.com/fight-of-gods/steam-blocked-malaysia-fight-of-gods

 

Destiny 2 Gets Shadey

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Following in the footsteps of many AAA titles, Destiny 2 has microtransactions. It’s the surprise that no one asked for, and it really isn’t surprising. What the microtransactions are is surprising though — namely Engrams and Shaders. After finishing the third mission of the game, you will find a familiar face from the original Destiny: Tess Everis and her little business, the Eververse Trading Company. In order to buy something from Tess, players first need to purchase the right currency, Silver, with real world money from their chosen console’s store. Among the items you can buy are Bright Engrams, which you can turn in for decoding and receive a random item in return, this will net you cosmetic items such as emotes, weapon ornaments or Shaders (more on that later).

What has generated the most controversy about this is that you can also receive items that are not cosmetic, ones that actually affect gameplay, such as mods for your weapon or armor that can change the element or enhance your stats. Considering each Bright Engram is 200 Silver, and it’s $4.99 for 500 Silver, this is starting to sound like “pay-to-win,” right? However, these are only small changes, as these Bright Engrams are only blue. They are not the coveted purple or gold Engrams, which net legendary or exotic items and are only earned by playing the game. So likely these would help a player earlier in the game, but will be useless later when the player starts earning better gear on their own. So, in the end, is it really a big deal? Well, maybe not, but some are afraid that this is just the beginning of Destiny moving in a more “pay-to-win” direction.

Gear is one thing, but Shaders? As mentioned earlier, those Bright Engrams also can contain Shaders. Destiny 2 has been out for less than a week and the community is already calling for a boycott on microtransactions. The way Shaders worked in the first Destiny game was that you would receive one and it would remain in your inventory, when you decided to change the style of your armor then you could apply it and it would change the style of all your armor, so that everything would be stylish and matching. Destiny 2 made it so that you can change the color and style of individual pieces of your armor, to allow you to mix and match and personalize how your armor looks. Which is great, it is more freedom for customization. However, it’s a one time use. And, as any Destiny player knows, you change armor a lot in this game.

While you can earn Shaders as you play, if you’re aiming for a specific look on your armor or you frequently change the look of your armor, then that can become frustrating. There is a more reliable way is to buy Shaders though: through the random chance of getting one in a Bright Engram. These are completely cosmetic changes, unlike the mods mentioned before, but these were previously free features. This has caused many to become infuriated, as they believe it to be an intentional decision to make this aspect of the game worse just for a quick cash grab. One particular post on reddit has, at time of writing, over 40k upvotes demanding a boycott of microtransactions until Destiny 2 has made Shaders unlimited again. However, Luke Smith, Bungie’s Design Director for Destiny 2, made a response to all of this on Twitter already saying, “Shaders are now an ongoing reward for playing. Customization will inspire gameplay,” he went on to say, “With D2, we want statements like ‘I want to run the Raid, Trials, or go back to Titan to get more of its Shader’ to be possible.” What fans heard is that they will be looking at a lot of grinding and frustration. Despite these complaints, only days after it’s release, Bungie says they already have “millions” of Guardians playing in their recent blog post on bungie.net.

Sources:

https://www.polygon.com/2017/9/6/16263326/destiny-2-microtransactions-silver-ships-sparrows-shells-weapons-mods

https://twitter.com/thislukesmith/status/905863339103838208

https://www.reddit.com/r/DestinyTheGame/comments/6yi1yg/do_not_spend_a_single_cent_on_micro_transactions/

https://www.bungie.net/en/News/Article/46234

 

South Park Game’s Difficulty is Race-Based

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Eurogamer posted gameplay showing character customization for South Park: The Fractured But Whole on September 7th. After spending some time sorting through their impressive hair selection, shirt colors, makeup options, and debating their facial hair options, they finally got to skin color. The long, silent, awkward pause showed their discomfort as a difficulty slider appeared that makes the game more difficult the darker you choose to make your skin color. Luckily, Cartman does throw in that, “it doesn’t affect combat. Just every other aspect of your whole life.”

They eventually decide to go for medium difficulty, or a nice Trump orange as Aoife Wilson, of Eurogamer, rather accurately describes it. “I was not expecting that,” Chris Bratt, of Eurogamer, comments as the game quickly loads, the sound of laughter offscreen, “That was brutal, it makes me think about myself and society.” That is likely the point. South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone have never pulled punches when it comes to social commentary. The immense discomfort Aoife and Chris felt when they realized what they were looking at is probably the exact reaction they were hoping for. When the two talked to Ubisoft later, they received clarification on what that difficulty slider actually does, and as Cartman said, it doesn’t affect combat difficulty. Instead, it affects the amount of money you earn and how other characters will speak to you.

Later in the game they are presented with the option of choosing their gender (male, female or other) by Mr. Mackey, which is a welcome decision as many wanted the option in the previous game. As they find out, if you choose any option other than male, Mr. Mackey will call your parents to confirm this decision, then ask you if you are cis- or transgender, and confirm that with your parents again. A creative way to retcon the character being male in the previous game, The Stick of Truth, as Mr. Mackey very clearly states you were mistakenly thought to be male throughout the whole game. And, yes, this also impacts the game. The Eurogamer test players realize this quickly as minutes after choosing to be a transgender female they are ambushed outside the school by a pickup truck full of rednecks, they call out the player’s sex and gender choice before they fight. Even during the fight they point out the player’s choices, and when defeated they even call them, “Gender terrorists.” South Park: The Fractured But Whole still has many excited, these additions seeming to only be met with approval for Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s boldness in the comments section of the Eurogamer YouTube videos.

Sources:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-09-07-south-park-the-fractured-but-whole-difficulty-slider-changes-the-colour-of-your-skin



About the Author

Shannon McInerny





 
 

 
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ColossalCon East 2017 Gallery by Adam Etheridge, Saturday Part 2

In this, the second of two Saturday galleries from Adam Etheridge at ColossalCon East, it is all about the water park. From the different angles you can get a good sense of the size of just the wave pool area lone, to say no...
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ColossalCon East 2017 Gallery by Adam Etheridge, Saturday Part 1

It’s time for the first of two Saturday galleries from Adam Etheridge at ColossalCon East. Saturday was the only day I spent any time in the water park, but Adam was there most of the weekend, getting these excellent p...
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HasCon 2017 Puts Family Fun On The Table

HasCon is a brand new convention that differs from most conventions in the New England area for two reasons. HasCon, which took place in the Providence Convention Center on September 8th, 9th and 10th in Providence, RI.,  is r...
by E. Ortiz
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