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Adam Burt
Adam BurtSenior Developer (Games Marketing)

As ever, it's been a busy week in the world of gaming. We're here to sort through the noise and round up some of the most interesting stories, opinions, and views from the world of games. Let's get right to it. 

Games and gun culture

By most measures, videogaming is the largest entertainment industry in the United States. In the distant past (and sadly, sometimes the recent past), games have come under significant scrutiny after tragedies - particularly ones involving gun crime.

As most of us in the industry know, numerous psychological studies have shown that playing violent games doesn't make you a violent person. You're no more likely to commit a crime after playing GTA, no more likely to beat someone up if you're a fan of Mortal Kombat, and no more likely to shoot someone if you've played too much Counter Strike.

But in the wake of several high profile incidents, some developers have begun to reflect on how games might sometimes be part of a very large and complex cultural puzzle - one that could be holding Americans back from much-needed gun law reforms. This week, VICE spoke to some of them.

Discussion around whether games (or TV, or films, or books) bear any responsibility for our behaviour are usually very binary - people either believe they are bad, or believe they are harmless. What I found really refreshing and insightful about this article, and the developer comments within, is that they dare to explore the grey areas - and the uncomfortable, complicated middle ground.

Adam Burt

Potion Permit gets release date

My indie sim loving heart is happy this week because MassHive Media and PQube's Potion Permit finally has a release date!

Potion Permit is a gorgeous pixel life sim, which sees you become the chemist of the lovely town of Moonbury. Your job is to diagnose the townsfolks' illnesses, find restorative ingredients, craft cures and help the town develop. This lovely indie gem also has all the usual life sim favourite features, like exploring, building relationships, decorating your house, fishing and spending time with your dog?!

Potion Permit is coming to Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox and Steam on September the 22nd and I CANNOT wait!

Taya B

Liithos announce Ashfall

This week, I'm talking about a new studio, developing a interconnected open world game with "Web 3.0" support, created by ex-Sony veterans.

Don't know what Web 3.0 is? Don't worry, nobody really does! 😂

Although there's no universally accepted definition, some claim that Web 3.0 will make use of blockchain-based technologies, as well as AI and machine learning, to power more intelligent and adaptive applications.

Ashfall is the new game in question, born from the studio Liithos, a new studio with the founders being John Garvin (Syphon Filter, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Days gone) and Michael Mumbauer (ex Head of PlayStation's Visual Arts support studio), so you know they know how to make a good game.

Not too much has been revealed about Ashfall, but we do have a brief synopsis:

"Pacific Northwest, hundreds of years in the future. Global warming has led to massive flooding and fires. The appearances of the Trace – pockets of dark energy – have created havoc with the weather and human lives, decimating entire cities. Civilization has collapsed into local Enclaves where humanity fights to survive."

To be honest, that just sounds like the world we live in now with a few extra steps. 😅

I'm really excited to see whether Liithos will flourish in the market, and what games they come out with in the years to come.

Mehdi Miah

Nintendo talks Xenoblade

This week, Nintendo held one of their Nintendo Direct events, this time dedicated to the hotly anticipated JRPG, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 from developer Monolith Soft. They revealed some of the aspects of the story, and some of the gameplay mechanics that will feature in the game.

The story takes place in the world of Aionios, and follows a group of characters from opposing nations that have to put their differences aside in order to save the world. Like with the first two games, this game is set in a massive open world, and will give the player loads to explore.

The combat seems to have a lot of depth to it, and looks incredibly satisfying. You’ll have to work together with your party members, to perform certain combos, to deal maximum damage to enemies, first breaking them, then toppling them, then launching them before finally smashing them back down to the ground. I’m a sucker for big JRPG’s with huge worlds and deep lore, so I’ll definitely be picking this up when it releases next month on the Nintendo Switch.

Myles Broomes

HYENAS unveiled

One of the big surprises that landed this week was a trailer drop for a new multiplayer first-person-shooter title, HYENAS from Creative Assembly. This is somewhat out of left field for the Sega-owned creators of many a strategy game and outstanding Alien spin-off, Alien: Isolation.

The announce trailer doesn't contain any gameplay but does a good job of hinting at what to expect. This is a brave move for such a crowded and competitive genre, but as one of the UKs largest developers, Creative Assembly might just have the pedigree to make it work.

Personally, I love the aesthetic, sci-fi feel and wacky-ness of the trailer but there is quite a lot going on, so I'm hoping that this isn't spread too thinly trying to tick all of the modern FPS trope boxes.

Release is expected for all the major platforms, and hints suggest it might be released in 2023. Interested players can find out more at playhyenas.com.

Dan Thomas

Devs share hacky tricks behind your favourite titles

This week, my post is a tribute to all the game devs out there that have used hacked-together solutions (basically all of them).

A recent viral tweet from Joe Hobbs, Lead Prop Artist at Ubisoft, talking about invisible squirrels being used as in-game timers has led to others in the industry sharing their own stories.

Did you know that for Assassin’s Creed 1, the dev team used mutilated digital human skeleton rigs to create the horses because, at the time, their team’s tech only worked properly with bipeds?

For Fable: The Journey, the team encountered an issue right before shipping the game where grass wouldn’t render and the default grey checkerboard texture used during development would show instead. The solution? They swapped the default dev texture from grey checkerboard to flat green and shipped it.

If you’d like to read about more of these clever hacks, Kotaku has put together all the best replies to Joe’s original tweet that you can read here.

Ben Gammon

Other stuff

Fall Guys sponsors a bench in Skegness to celebrate going free-to-play

2022's Summer Game Fest stream is most-viewed in event history

Xbox documentary wins Emmy award

More Etch Play

You can find Etch Play on all the usual social networks you might imagine. In particular, we hang out on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube

We also have a live show every Thursday, where we recap the latest games industry news in video podcast form. It's a lot of fun. If you'd like to check it out, why not follow us on Twitch?  You can check out yesterday's live show right here 👇

 

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