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Indie digital storefront Itch.io has released a new bundle supporting Palestinian aid which features more than 1,000 games, soundtracks, books, and more for a minimum price of $5. All funds raised by the sale of the bundle will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which will provide food support and health services for people in Gaza. 

“Indie games are unique in that they can tell stories not seen in AAA or other games. We pour our life experiences into our games and share a piece of ourselves with the world,” bundle organizer Alanna Linayre wrote. “Palestinian game developers are no different in this aspect, but have the added challenges of limited access to basic services, like clean water, electricity, medical care, and food security. They live under Israeli authority that discriminates and subjugates Palestinians to the point of persecution and apartheid, simply for being Palestinian. Furthermore, they develop games without all the resources that come with being in a western hub for game development.”

In May, the UNRWA issued a “flash appeal” for $38 million in funding to support “immediate food, non-food, health, psychosocial, WASH and emergency response capacity needs” arising from Israeli airstrikes that killed more than 250 Palestinians in Gaza, including 66 children, according to the UN and local health officials. The UN says that nine hospitals and 19 clinics in Gaza were damaged, along with 1,026 houses and commercial buildings. 13 people in Israel, including two children, were killed by rocket attacks, according to the Times of Israel. A ceasefire was declared on May 21.

The centerpiece of the bundle is Liyla and the Shadows of War, a 2016 narrative platformer based on the 2014 Gaza War by Palestinian developer Rasheed Abueideh. But in totality, the bundle covers a lot of ground: Other highlights include The Church in the Darkness, The Stillness of the Wind, Gnog, Sokobond, Pikuniku, Minit, Anodyne, Nuclear Throne, Signs of the Sojourner, VVVVVV, and Super Win the Game, for starters. The bundle also includes soundtracks, development tools, digital comics and books, and asset packs.

The Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid goes for a minimum $5, and is available until June 11.

Naabiae Nenu-B is a Medical Health Student and an SEO Specialist dedicated to flushing the web off fake news and scam scandals. He aims at being "Africa's Best Leak and Review Blogger" and that's the unwavering stand of Xycinews Media.

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E-Games

It’s OK, We Could Have Skipped E3 This Year

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Illustration for article titled It's OK, We Could Have Skipped E3 This Year

Illustration: Tara Jacoby

This year—for the first time since 2006(!!)I didn’t have to cover E3 for Kotaku, so I got the chance to experience the event as a reader and a fan, watching presentations and press conferences for stuff that excited me, instead of what needed to be written about.

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It wasn’t great.

I know talk of “the death of E3″ and games writers musing on the future of the show are as tiring and old as the show itself, so I’ll try and spare you that here. But the one thing that kept striking me again and again over the week was the sensation that, this year in particular, none of this needed to be happening.

E3 became and remains the premier video game industry event because of the immense importance of its news. It used to be about a small number of massive press conferences, where everybody’s favourite companies would reveal their biggest and most exciting releases of the year, all in the one place, all at the one time. The weight of these reveals has diminished over the last decade, though, as more and more publishers have decided to hold their own E3 events, and others like Nintendo and Sony either shift their attentions to video presentations or skipping E3 entirely.

We now live in a world where we get big reveals all the time, all throughout the year, not just during company’s own events—like Nintendo Direct videos—but at an increasing number of fan expos and minor shows as well. So the days of E3 being worth the excitement that went into it have been long gone.

Muscle memory is a weird thing though, even at a cultural level, and despite everything I’ve just said (and which deep down you surely know already) fans just keep getting excited about the idea of E3, if not its diluted reality, and so once again in June 2021 millions of people got ready to settle in for a week of events and get excited for new stuff.

We somehow got not enough and also way too much.


The global Covid-19 pandemic, and its resultant lockdowns and shutdowns and work from home orders, has wreaked havoc with the video game industry. With offices closed, and access to everything from motion capture to sound recording studios impacted, development on countless major projects has been stalled. Loads of games due in 2020 slipped to 2021, and games due in 2021 have been pushed back to 2022 (or even later!).

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And that has had a knock-on effect on new games, the real treasure of the E3 experience, as titles we might have expected to see debuts on the big stage in 2021 aren’t yet ready to be shown, or maybe haven’t even started development at all as publishers work to get their delayed games out the door first.

It’s helpful here to think of video game development—at least at the larger end of the economy—as a production line in a factory. Ideas go in, they get injected with money and art and code and work, and at the end of the line a video game comes out. E3 is where the world sits with grabby hands waiting to see what rolls off the line, but over the last 12 months, nothing has gone into the machine, and so little is coming out at the end of it.

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Never before, and maybe ever again, will there be so little to show for a year’s worth of blockbuster video game development. With human crowds locked out of E3 for a second year running, and the big end of the industry trying to work with one hand tied behind its back, it would have been understandable—even admirable—if E3 could have taken stock of events and just taken the year off. Stick up a sign on the door that said “please understand, things have been bad, we’ll see you again next year!”

We have so many other shows, and other times, and other ways to tell the world about video games that we could have easily taken 2021’s reduced stock, spread it out over some other events and given each company and game a little time in the sun of its own.

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But that’s not how capitalism works, and E3, being the principal trade show for a billion-dollar global industry, is no exception. The machine is never allowed to stop, ever. If new games aren’t coming out then E3 will simply show the old ones again. And if new games aren’t ready to be shown, then publishers will just show what is ready. Not enough big games to fill all the streaming slots? Just cram a bunch of smaller games into the spotlight instead and turn them into bigger games by virtue of the light.

Can you believe that, in a year where almost nothing big and new was announced, the week of E3 consisted of 17 separate shows. 17 shows! Get absolutely fucked. There remained some big traditional ones, like the Microsoft + Bethesda showcase, and Nintendo’s was fun, but three video game websites had their own events, and VR had its own show, and a tiny company that makes boxed games had its own show…

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The onslaught of events created a scenario where simply keeping up with what was on, let alone what was being announced, was exhausting. E3 2021 felt like a show that never ended, and I sure was having to put in a lot of work to stay on top of things for someone who wasn’t getting paid for it. The math just doesn’t check out. In a year where there were precious few games to talk about, we got more shows and more games than ever thrust in front of our eyes?

Please note I won’t begrudge individual companies or developers here, from big AAA publishers to the tiniest indie efforts, because everyone has games to sell and this remains a great way to do it. A diminished E3 is still a huge event for someone trying to sell a video game. As someone who simply enjoys them, though, looking at E3 2021 as a forest and not a bunch of trees, it sucked.

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Not because of the games shown, or the lack of games shown, but the format we had to endure. From my perspective, as someone just wanting to find out about cool new video games the same way you were, the week as a whole as butter spread over too much bread. A whole series of events that were basically ‘this meeting could have been an email’. There wasn’t a single big reveal I could have called a “megaton” in the grand old E3 tradition, and yet it’s going to take me weeks to dig through all the interesting little indie games shown off in their stead because too many of the damn things were shown off.

Maybe next year things will be back to normal, as bleak as that normality had become over the last few years. Vaccination rates and a return to pre-Covid crowd levels will put sweaty gamers and press back in the seats of live press conferences, huge crowds will press flesh in the LA Convention Centre and developers who have been allowed back into the office will have big new games to show off once more.

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But it sure would have been nice if, for one year at least, we could have realised things aren’t always normal.

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E-Games

No More Heroes 3 Hired Shao Kahn To Voice A Cat

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A composite image featuring Mortal Kombat 11's Shao Kahn and No More Heroes 3's Jeane the cat.

I’m having a hard time telling which is which.
Image: NetherRealm Studios / Grasshopper Manufacture / Kotaku

Close your eyes and picture a cat. A fuzzy feline, purring away in the afternoon sun. Now, imagine that cat can talk. What does it sound like? Cute as a button? Perhaps a little sassy? Nothing like Shao Kahn, former emperor of Outworld and major antagonist of the Mortal Kombat­ franchise, right? Well, that’s the path No More Heroes 3 has chosen because, as we all know, director Goichi “Suda51” Suda is a crazy person.

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After its E3 2021 presentation, Nintendo provided demos for upcoming games through its Treehouse sessions. No More Heroes 3 was there, right alongside Metroid Dread and Mario Golf: Super Rush, but didn’t make it to the live stream for obvious, Mature rating-related reasons.

Still, it’s hard to complain when the company uploaded almost half an hour of footage for the upcoming game to YouTube, especially when that footage includes a brief snippet of Ike Amadi, who played Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat 11, voicing Travis’ cat, Jeane. Just be sure to turn up your volume or you won’t hear him over the occasional commentary from Nintendo’s Bill Trinen.

I don’t know about you, but I love it.

No More Heroes 3 continues the story of Travis Touchdown, who somehow managed to become a world-renowned assassin over the course of the previous two games despite being a complete loser. (Okay, the laser sword probably had something to do with it, but I digress.) Suda51 saw fit to revive the franchise that made him a household name with 2019’s Travis Strikes Again spin-off, and now he’s back in the director’s chair for another mainline installment.

Although a constant presence in previous games, Jeane the cat was never a major part of the No More Heroes story until Travis Strikes Again. The side story gave her a voice through the text-based, visual novel interludes, during which she regularly chats with Travis, but it wasn’t until the ending credits of the main game that we were treated to it. Up until that point, Jeane had been content to lounge around Travis’ apartment and meow, so it came as quite a surprise that she could talk.

Fun fact: Jeane’s single line of spoken dialogue in Travis Strikes Again (she’s the one who says, “Shut up, I can’t sleep!” in the video above, by the way) was apparently recorded by Kris Zimmerman-Salter, who was responsible for the game’s casting and voice direction.

No word on what happened to Jeane for her voice to change so dramatically in the two years that have passed between Travis Strikes Again and No More Heroes 3. Maybe it has something to do with the aliens invading Earth, or maybe it’s just another one of Suda51’s eccentricities. He’s way too punk rock to be restrained by things like continuity and traditional voiceovers, after all.

Maybe we’ll learn more when No More Heroes 3 comes to Nintendo Switch on August 27.

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Five Nights At Freddy’s Creator Scott Cawthon Retires Amid Controversy

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A creepy Freddy Fazbear animatronic sits in a dark room.

Image: ScottGames / Steel Wool Studios

Scott Cawthon, the independent developer best known as the creator of the Five Nights at Freddy series, has announced his retirement from professional game development.

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“I’ve had a blessed, fulfilling, and rich career,” Cawthon wrote on his personal website. “I’ve been shown great kindness and I’ve tried to show great kindness in return. I’ve tried to make some good games (let the debate ensue), and I’ve witnessed the creation of possibly the most creative and talented fanbase on the planet.”

“But here on the seventh anniversary of the first game’s trailer, as I realize that I was in my mid-30s when I created the series and now I’m approaching my mid-40s, I realize that I miss a lot of things that I got to focus on before Five Nights at Freddy’s became such a success,” Cawthon continued. “I miss making games for my kids, I miss doing it just for fun, and I miss making RPGs even though I stink at it. All of this is to say that I am retiring.”

This doesn’t mean the end of Five Nights at Freddy’s, however, as Cawthon plans to choose someone else to oversee “running the show.” A new installment in the long-running series, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach, is expected to come out later this year and a movie is in production at Blumhouse.

Cawthon recently came under fire after financial records showed that he had been making donations to controversial U.S. politicians, including former president Donald Trump and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, for a number of years. Cawthon responded to the public backlash by reiterating his beliefs while also claiming to have love for the LGBTQ+ members of his fanbase, despite supporting powerful people who have done everything they can to harm them.

“I’m a Republican. I’m a Christian. I’m pro-life. I believe in God,” Cawthon wrote in a now-locked Reddit thread. “I also believe in equality, and in science, and in common sense. Despite what some may say, all of those things can go together. That’s not an apology or promise to change, it’s the way it’s always been.”

Since Cawthon’s announcement went live, social media has been inundated with messages of appreciation for his work. The hashtag #ThankYouScott is currently among the top three trending Twitter topics in the United States.

 

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