Plus GTA 6 has finally been announced and all the highlights from the PC Gamer Most Wanted showcase
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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Courtney Borrett, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.
FIONA: Hi I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus,
COURTNEY: and I’m Courtney Borrett,
FIONA: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games.
COURTNEY: This week how a 20 year old Half-Life bug was fixed, controversy surrounds the definition of an indie game and we’ll finally find out more about GTA6 as Rockstar announces a trailer.
Here is the news for Sunday 3rd of December. Let’s go!
PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord
FIONA: The Games Awards are next week but the award season drama is already here.
The deep-sea RPG game Dave the Diver is a finalist for Best Independent Game but some people online pointed out that it shouldn’t be considered as an indie game as the developer, Mintrocket, is owned by the big publisher Nexon rather than a smaller studio.
COURTNEY: There have been heaps of questions flying around about how this could happen and why they were considered an indie, so Geoff Keighley took to Twitch to talk about how people interpret the term ‘indie’ differently and the judging process for the awards.
GEOFF KEIGHLEY: "You can argue does independent mean the budget of a game does independent mean where the source of financing was? Is it based on the team size? Is it the kind of independent spirit of a game meaning kind of a smaller game that sort of is different and you know, everyone has their own opinion about this. And we really defer to our jury of 120 global media outlets that vote on these awards to kind of make that determination of is something independent or not. We also Best Debut indie game, which is something that I think I'm really proud of too, because that's for a team that's doing its first ever game this year. And that's like often really, really independent studios that are just starting out and I love that we can recognise them that way."
Keighley goes on to talk about how Baldur’s Gate 3 and Death Stranding could be considered ‘indie’ as they were made by smaller teams that are part of bigger groups.
Indie as a label has increasingly become a bit meaningless, but this isn’t new, indie music has faced exactly the same problem.
FIONA: More important than game classifications though, members of The Game Awards’ Future Class, a group of early career game workers who have been honoured, have signed an open letter asking for a recognition of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Fifty-nine out of the 150 members signed an open letter to Keighley and the TFA Future Class director Emily Bouchoc, calling out the games industry for being complacent when it comes to the horrors people have faced in the conflict
They are also urging the Game Awards staff to use the platform to call for a permanent cease-fire and more humanitarian aid.
This sort of thing isn’t completely out of the ordinary, The Game Awards acknowledged the war in Ukraine last year, but it remains to be seen whether or not it happens this year.
We will put a link to the letter in our show notes.
COURTNEY: The groundbreaking shooter Half-Life celebrated its 25th anniversary this week and a well-known bug has finally been fixed after 20 years of silly, floating scientist nonsense.
Some context, the bug occurs during a scripted sequence where a giant green tentacle comes and grabs a scientist, dragging him away. But instead of grabbing the scientist, the tentacle is misaligned, making it look like the scientist is floating away by himself. He’s living my dream.
FIONA: Too right, but this bug only appeared two years after the game’s release, when Windows 2000 was created. During ‘98 and ‘99, there was no sign of this mysterious floating scientist.
Ben Burbank, a Valve programmer, said on Mastodon that the fix to the admittedly hilarious bug was done by changing the map completely, rather than fix the animation as it could have flow on effects which might have broken other parts of the game.
That was easier and couldn’t be interrupted by the player say…putting the scientist out of his tentacular misery,
COURTNEY: Game design sounds difficult. I’m glad that the scientist is reunited with the tentacle, though. There is a cool documentary you can watch about the making of the game as well which includes this classic line on delayed games from Gabe Newell
GABE NEWELL: "Late is just for a little while, Suck is forever.”
Speaking of Valve games and maps, the Counter-Strike community has discovered a prototype of Left 4 Dead. The prototype was found in an update for Counter-Strike 1.6 in Counter-Strike: Condition Zero as a custom map named ‘Terror Strike’.
FIONA: Footage of the map was captured by ilovethevopo on YouTube and shows the player selecting their weapon loadout before wandering through an empty city and planting a bomb.
Once the bomb is planted, player models armed with knives move towards the player character in a zombie-like fashion, in the developer commentary for Left 4 Dead, it was explained that this was exactly how the game was prototyped so it’s cool to see how it first looked.
While the Counter-Strike community was able to find the files and tweak the update to make it playable, Valve seems to have removed the files from the update. Luckily, the community has managed to preserve the files so the update can be experienced as a part of gaming history.
FIONA: It’s been one of the biggest will they won’t they questions in games for years, but Rockstar will finally show off their next Grand Theft Auto game in just a couple of days.
The first trailer for GTA 6 will be released on Tuesday 5th December at 9AM Eastern Time, which works out to be 1am on Wednesday the 6th for you Courtney Australian Eastern Daylight Time and the slightly more doable 11pm if you’re on the west coast like me.
Are you going to stay up late, Courts?
COURTNEY: I’ll be up late playing League, but not watching the trailer.
GTA 5 has been such a money printer for Rockstar, the game originally launched in the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 era a decade ago in 2013 but has been ported across to newer consoles since then.
It’s rumoured that Rockstar’s delay in launching any information about the new game was because they wanted to get GTA Online right, which was a post launch add-on, but still remains incredibly popular.
If you aren’t staying up late, tune into Walkthrough next week!
COURTNEY: The PC Gaming Show Most Wanted shared a few cool updates and reveals this week.
The cult hit Dwarf Fortress is getting a new, arguably easier to get into, Adventure Mode which will make things more straightforward for newer players and will link up with future runs through the game as well. That’s out in April.
Deathgrip is a new game inspired heavily by Star Wars podracing, and it looks super fast and dangerous, and seems like it leans a bit more serious than goofy, but if that sounds like your thing you can check out a demo on Steam now.
Hawked is an extraction shooter that looks more like Fortnite and plays a bit like Hunt Showdown. Basically you and your team solve mini puzzles and then go for the big prize, once you grab it you’ve got to book it to the exit, that’s out now in Early Access.
FIONA: There was quite a bit of news on Aussie made games too during this show.
Wild Bastards is the follow up to the Canberra made Void Bastards, one of our favourite games of the last couple of years. The cell shaded comic styling is back, but instead of being a thematically appropriate interchangeable character you now have a big roster of sci-fi wild west weirdos to play as, each with their own powers. No news on release yet but we’ll be keeping an eye on this
Solium Infernum the bureaucratic hellion simulator from Melbourne’s League of Geeks got a release date for February 14th. From what we’ve played this looks like it’s going to be quite a cult hit.
COURTNEY: Oh, that’s Valentine’s day! I’ll be cancelling my dinner plans then.
FIONA: And the procedurally generated darkwebSTREAMER made in Adelaide by Chantal Ryan and the team at ‘What We Do in the Forest’ dropped a new creepy trailer where you try to maintain your health while livestreaming the darkweb. It’s described as a permadeath roguelite, and it’s weird and very interesting. More details on that soon!
There is plenty more to check out so we’ve dropped the full showcase link in the notes.
FIONA: In a not-so surprising turn of events, Unity is going through its third round of layoffs this year. This time, 256 workers are being laid off from the company’s Weta Digital division, as they end an agreement with Weta FX.
It gets a little bit confusing but basically Unity bought the Weta Digital division from Peter Jackson’s filmmaking company, who spun up another division called Weta FX, that’s the one that did all the graphics for Avatar and Lord of the Rings and so on.
Weta FX have said they’ll try to rehire these employees back if they can, but there are no guarantees that everyone will get a job.
COURTNEY: While it is unfortunate, it’s interesting considering Unity purchased Weta Digital back in 2021 for $1.6 billion. Unity’s reasoning behind the layoffs is a ‘company reset’.
Since the beginning of 2023, Unity has laid off over 1,100 staff, probably accelerated by their disastrous decision to retroactively change the pricing structure for developers. This included a runtime fee that saw former CEO John Riccitello having to fall on his sword as well.
COURTNEY: Well speaking of things getting out of hand, Cult of the Lamb developers Massive Monster will be adding sex to the cutesy cult simulator after a massive player campaign.
Here’s the setup, it all started as a bit of a community meme for the game when the new expansion Sins of the Flesh was announced, which featured a bunch of fig-leaf covered cultists who were completely starkers.
So naturally people started asking for more, asking if this was the sex update.
The developers took to Twitter saying if they could get to 300,000 followers by the end of the year they’ll add sex to the game, and they blitzed it, gaining more than 100,000 followers in a week…wow.
FIONA: So yeah I guess those woodland critters are now going to get it on.
Massive Monster have confirmed with Polygon though it’s going to be a bit more like the Sims or Pokemon and the age rating isn’t going to change at all.
FIONA: Developers and publisher Toge Productions have announced that their acquisition of Mojiken Studio has been finalised.
The 25 billion rupiah deal, or roughly $2.4 million AUD, brings together two popular Indonesian studios who have worked together for almost a decade.
COURTNEY: The two games companies have worked together pretty closely over the years, with Toge publishing Mojiken’s games She and the Lightbearer, When the Past was Around and the surprising hit A Space for the Unbound.
It’s great to see both companies excited for this next step, we definitely can’t wait to see what these two powerhouses of Indonesian game development will do next.
COURTNEY: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out over the next week
FIONA: Disney Dreamlight Valley leaves early access this week, originally it was planned to be free to play but now it’s a full priced release, the game is a mix of the Sims and Animal Crossing with Disney flavour throughout. Pick it up on everything on the 5th.
COURTNEY: Born of Bread is an adventure RPG that lets you play as, you guessed it, bread. Well, technically, you play as a flour golem, but he’s a cute little guy either way. Get a loaf of Born of Bread on PC, Switch, Xbox and PlayStation on December 6.
FIONA: The Day Before is an open world survival MMO set in the US during a zombie apocalypse. The game will feature PvP and PvE modes and releases after a fair few delays on December 7 for PC, Xbox and PlayStation.
COURTNEY: Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is a diablo-like CRPG from developers Owlcat Games, who you might know from the recent and excellent, Pathfinder games. Adam from the SIFTER team is psyched for this one. Take on the grim future of the 41st Millenium on PC, PlayStation and XBox also on the 7th.
FIONA: Also out on the 7th is Avatar Frontiers of Pandora. It’s a big open world scifi game spinoff from the films, they always felt very videogamey to be honest, but if that sounds fun to you you can find it on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X and PC on Thursday.
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FIONA: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus
COURTNEY: And my name is Courtney Borrett, thank you so much for listening.
FIONA: Walkthrough is our recap of the news but if you want to catch up on all of SIFTER’s stories we’ve got a fancy newsletter. It’s an easy way to make sure you don’t miss any of our interviews or reviews and it’s out every fortnight. Head to sifter.com.au/newsletter to subscribe, that’s sifter.com.au/newsletter
COURTNEY: SIFTER is produced by Fiona Bartholomaeus, myself, Kyle Pauletto, Adam Christou, Daniel Ang and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer who edited this episode, and Gianni Di Giovanni is the Walkthrough script editor, and SIFTER’s executive producer.
FIONA: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune, and Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.
COURTNEY: We’ll be back with more news next Sunday, see you then.