I am STILL dragging from nearly a week ago. Need. More. Coffee. 
But every minute was worth it. 
Extra Life weekend (Nov 4-5) brought in over $1.8 million for CMN Hospitals, bringing the overall fundraising total of Extra Life close to $7.8 million as of 11-9-17. We are stunned! Amazed! Honored! That is what we like to call, a success!

The donations are STILL coming in too! We know that many of you are playing in the coming weeks, so we have a good feeling about 2017. If you came up short of your goal, no problem! There's still time to collect donations until 12/31/2017. Grab that loot too! Extra Lifers still have time to raise more funds and unlock some cool incentives! 
The end of Game Day weekend also brought forth the winners of the ESA Foundation Challenge . Congratulations to Seattle Children's Hospital for winning top fundraising hospital, and Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation for winning top hospital per capita!
We are so proud of this community. You have really come through once again for the kids at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals across the US and Canada. Keep up the good work, we still have plenty of time to play games and heal kids!

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the ESA Foundation have been prolific partners with Extra Life from the very beginning! 

Each year we love announcing this challenge to our Extra Lifers and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and this year is no different! We're thrilled to announce the 2017 ESA Foundation Extra Life Challenge. This is a chance to unlock a huge donation for your local Children's Miracle Network Hospital by doing what you do best; Playing Games to Heal Kids.

The Internet simply does not have enough bandwidth for us to fully transmit our gratitude. THANK YOU, ESA FOUNDATION!
The ESA Foundation's generous $60,000 grant is divided into two prizes that Extra Lifers can unlock for their hospital by working together to raise all they can for the sick and injured kids that Extra Life supports.
Prize #1: Top Overall Fundraising - $30,000 2017 Recipient: Seattle Children's Hospital!
ESA Foundation is awarding a $30,000 prize to the hospital whose Extra Lifers raise the most money overall by 9:00am Central Time on Sunday, November 5th..  The total will include only funds raised and received by the deadline (all the more reason to get your offline gifts in early or convert them to digital donations). Last year, the San Francisco-Oakland market took home the funds!

Okay, but what if YOUR town is not as big as the top dogs on this list? The ESA Foundation has a SECOND prize to recognize the needs of smaller hospitals and the kids they serve. 
Prize #2: top Fundraising Per Capita - $30,000 2017 Recipient: Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation
Using census data for the areas served by our hospitals, an additional award of $30,000 will be unlocked for the hospital with the highest per capita fundraising.  To compute per capita we divide the population of the area by the dollars raised for that hospital.  The hospital with the highest per capita amount at 9:00 am Central Time on Sunday, November 5th will win.  Again, only funds that are raised and received by this time will be counted towards this figure. 

Note: A hospital can only unlock one award, even if they are the highest for both the overall fundraising and top fundraising per capita. In the event that this happens, the hospital will unlock the overall fundraising grant and the next highest per capita fundraising hospital will unlock that grant. Last year, UVM Children's Hospital in Vermont edged out the competition to win!

Working with the ESA and the ESA Foundation continues to make Extra Life and our communities stronger! Now get fundraising and unlock these major achievements!

Hey Extra Life Community -
We have some exciting news to share! In an effort to help make fundraising more fun, more accessible and ultimately easier, we’ve added two new applications to the Extra Life experience. Now you can fundraise through Facebook or on the go from your phone!

Extra Life Facebook App
Fundraising has never been quicker or easier than with the new Extra Life Facebook App. It installs in just a few seconds and allows you to opt-in to automatic status updates, upload Extra Life profile and cover pictures and ask your entire Facebook network for donations in just a few clicks. To start fundraising through the Extra Life Facebook App, login to to your Extra Life account, and click "Fundraise with Facebook" in the participant dashboard.

Extra Life Mobile App
Manage and share your Extra Life experience on the go with our new Extra Life mobile app. This free app lets you fundraise and connect with others through SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Email. You can update your Extra Life page and check your fundraising progress all from the palm of your hand.

Download the app here: iPhone | Android
We’ve also spent the last couple of months improving the mobile experience on the Extra Life website so give the new apps a try. We want to hear what you think so send any feedback and ideas to community@extra-life.org or comment below and let us know!
For The Kids,

Mike Kinney
Team Extra Life
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Jack Gardner

Praise the sun! Okami makes the jump to current-gen consoles this December.
The Capcom published critically acclaimed action-adventure game originally released for the PlayStation 2 back in 2006. Since then, it has been ported to Wii and PlayStation 3. Now, Clover Studio's classic will be available in HD with the option to switch between a more modern widescreen presentation or the original 4:3 ratio. 
In Okami, players become Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun who becomes a white wolf and sets off on a quest to defeat Orochi, an eight-headed demon bent on destroying the world of Nippon.  
Okami HD releases on December 12 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. 

Jack Gardner

Titan Quest released back in 2006, and an expansion titled Immortal Throne followed on its heels a year later. From that second expansion until now, over ten years have passed. Today, THQ Nordic announced that a second expansion has been stealth released for PC. 
The new adventure goes by the name of Titan Quest Ragnarök. Whereas the core game took players around the ancient world fighting mythical beasts and gods in Greece, Egypt, and China, Ragnarök adds a new Norse adventure developed by Pieces Interactive. It brings a new story act to the base game with a slew of new quests. Players will test their mettle against the Celts, the enigmatic Northmen, and the gods of Asgard itself. 
The expansion also sprinkles new features and secrets into the base game. More masteries help players optimize their playing style and offer more strategic flexibility. The new weapons add different ways to fight enemies and new gear brings a fresh look to Titan Quest. Most importantly, after more than a decade, players of Titan Quest will finally be able to wear pants! 
Ragnarök introduces graphical and performance improvements, too. New shaders and effects go a long way toward sprucing up the mythological action. Players will have access to better control customization, UI, and modding tools to create their own Titan Quest adventures. Oh, and ragdoll physics, because how else are you going to properly convey the power of Thor without sending everyone flying?
Ragnarök is not a standalone adventure and does require the recent version of Titan Quest, Titan Quest Anniversary Edition, to function. 
Some of you might be asking yourselves, "why now?" After all, it is a bit weird that a publisher would go out of their way to fund the development of a game that's over a decade old. Perhaps this stealthy release becomes more understandable when looking at the sales of Titan Quest Anniversary Edition. The anniversary release aimed to celebrate the cult classic with a revamped and retooled version of Titan Quest and that was probably about all that it was expected to cash in on. However, it seems to have become something of a stealth hit, raking in over 1.6 million sales in the past year. I suspect that information funded the development of Ragnarök relatively quickly. 
So what do you think? Will you be picking up Titan Quest Ragnarök?

Jack Gardner

Amazon has signed a deal to create a TV series based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The series will serve as a prequel to The Fellowship of the Ring and will unfold over multiple seasons, indicating that Amazon plans to put considerable resources behind their show, which will be exclusive to the Amazon Prime streaming service. 
“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Amazon Studios' Sharon Tal Yguado. In fact, The Lord of the Rings is such a cultural phenomenon that Amazon has optioned the rights to create a spin-off series based on the Tolkien property should the main series find success. 
No release date has been announced as the show is still only in the infant stages of production, but here's hoping that Amazon can take the time to do such a bold undertaking justice. 

Jack Gardner

California has been at the heart of a number of deadly wildfires raging across the state lately. At least 41 people have lost their lives to the fires and more than 20,000 have been forced to evacuate their homes to flee for safety. Many people and organizations have stepped up to support relief efforts. To help aid those affected by the fires, Ubisoft has pledged to help, too. To help, Ubisoft has added California-themed Assassin's Creed shirts and hoodies to the company's online US store. All proceeds from those pieces of Assassin's Creed apparel will go to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund, which goes toward supporting people in the affected areas who have lost homes or the ability to work, first responders who lost homes, and both kids and schools in the fire zones.  
Ubisoft might usually be seen as an international company, but with one of their teams based in San Francisco, they've certainly seen how these fires have affected the community. Ubisoft's president of their Americas division issued a statement saying, "we have employees, family and friends that were directly impacted by these fires. We’ve donated money and we’ll roll up our sleeves volunteering, but we want to do more. The shirts are just one of the ways we can continue to support our neighbors who have lost everything.” 
The limited run of Assassin's Creed "NorCal Strong" shirts will be sold until the end of December.

Jack Gardner

Just three years ago, This War of Mine released on PC to relate the experience of civilians struggling to survive in the midst of war. The indie game developed by 11 bit studios has continued to receive support over the years in the form of translations and expansions. However, 11 bit has undertaken a new effort to bring life back to their dramatic survival title.
The initiative, called This War of Mine Stories, aims to bring a number of narrative adventures to life. Father's Promise will be the first of these DLC expansions. It uses the framework of This War of Mine to weave the compelling tale of Adam, a man trying to protect his daughter and escape from their war-torn city. 
11 bit studios based Father's Promise on an audio-drama by author Łukasz Orbitowski. Orbitowski has won awards for his literary accomplishments and has been hailed as "a Polish Steven King." It is unclear whether future Stories DLC will also be based on Orbitowski's work or if they will draw from other sources of inspiration. 
Father's Promise is available now for $1.99 or can be obtained by purchasing a season pass for all This War of Mine Stories for $4.99.

Jack Gardner

The folks at Mondo have recently started creating board games based on the film world's most iconic movies. Their first project resulted in the well-received The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 earlier this year. For 2018, the Alamo Drafthouse company plans to expand their foray into gaming with a trifecta of tabletop games.
Not much is currently known about the first or second titles. Mondo has a team working on a completely original game that focuses on delivering a narrative experience, but isn't quite ready to lift the curtain on what exactly that might be. The Fight Club adaptation hasn't been fleshed out much more, either. It will be releasing first next year, but Mondo has been keeping their lips sealed as to the specifics of the game itself. We do know that it will be a card game, but when asked by film site Birth.Movies.Death what a card game based on Fight Club would look like, the cryptic response from Mondo brand director Jay Shaw was, "you've never played a game like this, I assure you. It won't be comparable to any game in existence." In response to a question about Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk being involved with the game's creation, Shaw laughed saying, "I can't talk about that. That's the first rule, man."
The Jurassic Park game has been set up to be the company's largest release in 2018. As part of the effort to drum up excitement, Mondo has been much more vocal about what players can expect from everyone's favorite tale of dinosaurs and science run amok in board game form. What's been revealed seems pretty interesting. 
Each player will take on a different role in the world of Jurassic Park each with different motivations and ways of interacting within the game. One player controls InGen and spends time creating dinosaurs, harvesting amber, and overseeing the park. Several people become park visitors who each have a different objective to accomplish while staying alive and escaping. Then you have the velociraptors and the Tyrannosaurus Rex, both of which are player-controlled. The raptors focus on killing other players while the T-Rex simply eats and destroys... everything. 
When pressed for additional information, Shaw made it clear that fans of the film will find a lot to enjoy about the upcoming tabletop experience, "If there's a character from the movie that you love, you're probably going to interact with them in some way (while playing the game). If there's a piece of something you love, or a dinosaur you love, or you just like the way the film's visitor center looks, you're going to see all of that. This is a Jurassic Park game for people who adore Jurassic Park."

No hard release dates have been put in place, but if the releases at all resemble The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31, tabletop gamers have reason to be excited.

Jack Gardner

After a poorly received attempt to revive the Wolfenstein franchise in 2009, many expected the franchise to wither away into obscurity. That is, until MachineGames, a developer formed from ex-members of Starbreeze Studios, took charge of the series and attempted to breathe life into the series one more time in 2014. They succeeded and created the adrenaline-fueled game (with a surprisingly tender heart) about a brain damaged soldier kicking off a new resistance movement against the Nazis in an alternate timeline where the Nazis were able to conquer the world. 
Is Wolfenstein: The New Order one of the best games period?
Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative.

Outro music: Wolfenstein 3D 'My Loved Ones Are Gone' by Psycho Crusher (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02508)
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! 
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday

Jack Gardner

Electronic Arts has announced that they are in the process of acquiring Respawn Entertainment in exchange for $315 million in cash and stock, with a bonus of $140 million if Respawn meets certain conditions. To be more specific, Respawn agreed to a buyout of $151 million in cash, $164 million in long-term stock grants, and the incentive targets that could bring in an additional $140 million. That's almost half a billion dollars for an independent studio helmed by one of the creators of Call of Duty. 
This deal means that Titanfall would join the roster of EA tentpoles alongside the likes of Battlefield and the burgeoning Battlefront franchise. Also, since EA has been granted the rights to develop Star Wars titles by Disney, EA revealed that Respawn would be working on an original game set within the Star Wars universe - but beyond that, no details have been revealed as to what that game might contain. 
While the acquisition of Respawn might come as a bit of a shock to some, the deal merely solidifies the working relationship EA and Respawn had for the past several years. Talking with VentureBeat, Respawn cofounder and CEO Vince Zampella said, "[Respawn and EA] have worked together a long time from the inception of the studio. [An acquisition] has come up from time to time. The question was, where we are in the industry, how do we take the next step in making bigger, better games. We see the need for bigger resources to make bigger games.”
In an effort to confirm Zampella's statement and allay fears about Respawn's future given the recent closure of EA's Visceral Games, EA executive vice president Patrick Soderlund offered this statement, "We want to have the best games. We have a good relationship. The creative freedom is still here: DICE, BioWare, our studios have creative freedom and creative integrity. That’s what gets those studios to make great games.”
There has been some speculation that EA has been angled toward this studio purchase for quite some time. Titanfall sold relatively well, but Titanfall 2 underperformed despite receiving critical acclaim. One of the deciding factors in sales that many have pointed to was that EA, Titanfall 2's publisher, chose to release Titanfall 2 one week after the release of their other, heavily marketed title, Battlefield 1. That could certainly have put Respawn in a tough place, making it easier to bring the company into the fold.
That tactic wouldn't be out of the question. Obtaining the creative powers of a studio led by devs who helped to create the most successful FPS shooter franchise of all time was a big win for Electronic Arts.  Respawn was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella after the duo were fired from Activision. Activision alleged that the two were planning to leave the company to create a new studio at EA. The ensuing lawsuit actually brought Activision and EA into a legal clash that resulted in a settlement for all parties in 2012. EA has since published all of Respawn's titles, with the exception of a Titanfall mobile game published by Nexon. 
Despite the bumps that come along with a studio changing hands and leadership, Respawn continues to work on a variety of projects. They are working on the next entry in the Titanfall series, their Star Wars title, and an untitled Oculus Rift VR game. Zampella encouraged Respawn fans not to worry too much about this shake up, saying, “For fans, my message is we are still Respawn and we are going to make things better. It doesn’t change the future of Titanfall. Only positives come from it, like more resources.”
The deal should be finalized before the end of the year.