Jack Gardner

 
Well, look at that! Telltale Games has decreed that today they would release the fully titled Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series - Episode One: Tangled Up in Blue (phew, try saying that five times fast).
 
The first episode sees the Guardians responding to a distress call from the Nova Corps, entering ancient ruins, and doing battle with Thanos himself. While Thanos might be the biggest bad in the Marvel cinematic universe and the trailer shows the Guardians trying to fight him, he's not the main antagonist of Telltale's series. Who is it? We'll probably have to play it to find out.
 
 
The first episode releases digitally today for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Android and iOS, but physical copies will be available in retail stores starting May 2. 
Jack Gardner

 
In a free update released today, Ubisoft introduced a new PvP options to their open world hacking game. Additions include a new 2v2 game mode called Showd0wn, online races, loot trucks, a paintball gun, and assorted clothes.
 
Showd0wn mode offers three types of objectives to two teams of two: Steal the HDD, Doom-load (King of the Hill Style), and Erase/Protect the Servers. These objectives play out occur across fifteen distinct locations in-game. The patch release describes Showd0wn as an endgame activity that can be tackled solo through matchmaking or cooperatively with a friend. Additionally, Online drone, motocross and eKart races are launching today. Each race type will come with their own leaderboards.
 
Loot trucks can be found following the patch on the streets of Watch Dogs 2. Players will be able to hack these trucks to get at their valuable cargo, but doing so will summon a swarm of armed police. A paintball gun has been added to provide some levity to the game's arsenal. The paint pellets can stun enemies and also accumulate on the screen of human adversaries in PvP. Finally, thirteen new clothing items.
 
Some tweaks have been made to leaderboards and explosions (the closer you are to an explosion, the more damage you take).
 
The patch should be live sometime today. 
Jack Gardner

 
The updated version of the Xbox One with more processing power would have hit stores last year, but Microsoft prioritized meeting 30fps at 4K resolutions over rushing their device to market. This revelation comes from a recent interview head of Xbox Phil Spencer had with Gamasutra, which is well worth reading in its entirety.
 
The issue, as Phil Spencer sees it, is one of scalability. Microsoft wants games to be able to scale and be accessible across all their family of systems. He relates this idea with backwards compatibility - newer hardware should not mean older games become unplayable:  
This directly relates to the difficulties many perceive with creating a console with a significant power boost over the core install base while remaining in the same family. It's a delicate tightrope to walk. A company risks alienating their customers and also developers if too many unreasonable hurdles are put between them and supporting the platform. "When you ship an Xbox One game two years from now, even if you don't look at Scorpio as something that you want to take advantage of, fine. That's up to you. We're not mandating that people go and do Scorpio-specific work," explained Spencer. 
 
 
 
Part of making it easier for developers is creating a stable platform that can reliably perform. If Microsoft intends the Scorpio to run at 30fps and 4K, then developers need to be able to count on the machine running those minimum states successfully. Spencer and Xbox looked hard at what the Scorpio would need to meet those requirements and eventually settled on what they would use to create the Scorpio. The only problem? They felt they couldn't deliver until 2017.
Basically, Spencer said they could have shipped in 2016, but they waited for the right hardware to come down in price so that they could affordably ship their console upgrade a bit later. He even gives a nod to Sony's PS4 Pro, but with the implication that it was good for  2016 and won't perform as well as the Scorpio when it launches later this year. 
 
We'll definitely be hearing a lot more about the Xbox Scorpio at E3 this year during Microsoft's press conference. In the meantime, Spencer did say something that seems like it would be common sense. Spencer took a moment to defend the console market going forward beyond Scorpio, "I've said, and this is actually true, the planning for what happens after Scorpio in the console space is already underway. You have to think about it that way. Like, what is the next thing? We -- I -- remain committed to the console space. We think it's critically important."
 
It would seem that not only are consoles still not dying the death that some doomsayers have been predicting for years, but that the next console from Microsoft is more than a little along in development if the head of Microsoft's console division feels comfortable even mentioning it in an interview. Not a huge revelation, but a slightly interesting thing to have confirmed.  
Jack Gardner

 
Hideki Kamiya's Devil May Cry released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2 and arguably changed the course of action games for years to come. In a very loose adaptation of Dante's Inferno, Devil May Cry stars a white-haired, pistol and sword-wielding demon slayer named Dante who embarks on a quest to stop a demonic invasion of Earth. The fluid combat mechanics and cheesy story captivated audiences.
 
Have the years been kind to the game that was once intended to be Resident Evil 4? Is Devil May Cry 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: Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World 'Go the Distance' by Sixto Sounds (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01850)
 
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

 
Extra Credits is an excellent YouTube channel run by people who work in the video game industry and like to share their knowledge and opinions with the wider world in concise, well-made videos. One of their series, Extra Frame, delves into the various facets of video game animation. In a recent episode, animator Daniel Floyd explains in great detail what might have gone wrong with Mass Effect: Andromeda's animation that led to such large public outcry against the facial animations, lip sync, and the recently patched eye issues.  
 
The veteran animator made it clear that the issue isn't just "bad animation is bad, make it better." Rather, it is a multifacted issue with a number of possible contributing factors - the failure of any one aspect could bring the rest crumbling down and lead to a visual mess.
 
Floyd stresses that players must understand that animation can be done very differently in the video game business. Games like the Uncharted series often custom animate everything from the ground up, but they can do those bespoke animations because they only have to animate about 8 hours of total scenes or interactions. A project like Mass Effect can have upwards of 40 hours of animation to be done, and when you are on a schedule tackling that much work on a custom level becomes impossible.
 
The demands of large-scale RPGs that requires animation that accounts for different player choices results in devs turning toward the use of algorithms. Some people in the gaming community have pointed their fingers as the algorithm approach as the culprit behind Andromeda's visual shortcomings, but that's not quite right, either. Many games use this approach to create baseline interactions that they can then further customize later on in the development cycle. Even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt made use of an algorithm to generate many of its more mundane interactions. 
 
 
So if it isn't the system, what exactly caused all the problems in Andromeda? Daniel Floyd speculates that any number of issues might have occurred. It could be bugs affecting the algorithm tags that are supposed to be telling the character models how to act. It could be that compressing the files to fit on a disc or online for release resulted in a garbling the animation data. It also might not have anything to do with the algorithm at all.
 
Mass Effect: Andromeda makes use of EA's Frostbite engine while the previous Mass Effect series was done completely in modified versions of Unreal Engine 3. Switching engines is always a pretty tricky task for any developer. All the assets and systems used in the old engine no longer apply. To create a new Mass Effect in a new engine required BioWare to start from scratch when it came to their assets and animation. Floyd points out that BioWare already had some experience with Frostbite from Dragon Age: Inquisition, but the new engine might still have presented a significant stumbling block for the development team for a Mass Effect game. 
 
Floyd takes time to mention Johnathan Cooper, an ex-BioWare animator, who gave a brief analysis of Andromeda's animation kerfuffle. Cooper explains that, essentially, the gaming audience has become more discerning. Gamers have access to easy sharing tools and game capture and are able to share goofs and slip-ups more easily than ever before. That combines with what Cooper believes to be an overly ambitious and overly confident development team that thought they could go back and tune all the animations by hand (which definitely proved not to be the case in the finished product). These problems could have been eliminated or alleviated with more development time, more money, or a more reigned-in scope for Andromeda. The tools are likely all there to have shipped Andromeda with some fantastic animation, but the visition and expectations of the development team would have needed to be different. 
 
Floyd closes out the video with a quote we should all keep in mind going forward as a way to reign in our expectations and our anger when something we love doesn't quite turn out to be as great as we'd hoped:
 
 
I'd be willing to bet there will be some interesting postmortem interviews on Mass Effect: Andromeda's development released in the coming years. For now, let's enjoy what we have and perhaps coming patches and DLC can bring Andromeda more in line with BioWare's grand vision.
 
 
Jack Gardner

 
The big N is at it again. During a Nintendo Direct yesterday, Nintendo announced that they would be releasing a new Joy-Con controller variant. No longer will players be confined to grey, red, and blue options for their controller needs. The neon yellow Joy-Cons are sure to add some pizzazz to anyone's console line-up and they are releasing alongside a yellow wrist strap controller add-on that will blend better than the grey wrist straps. 
 
Perhaps more importantly, a battery pack will also be coming soon to help extend the battery life of the Joy-Con controllers (though a first party battery pack for the Switch itself like the one we told you about last week doesn't seem to be in the works). Both the yellow Joy-Con and the controller battery packs will be released on June 16, the same day as Nintendo's upcoming boxing game Arms.
 
Also, for those who have been on the lookout for standalone Switch docking units, take heart! More will be released on May 19. Though pricey, these docks have found themselves in high demand from people who want to play their Switch on different televisions. As a result, many retailers have simply sold out. Nintendo, either to artificially inflate demand or because it didn't foresee that so many people might want more than one dock, hasn't released new docking units to retailers. This upcoming shipment should help relieve some of the demand pressure. 
Jack Gardner

 
Naughty Dog chose to reveal one of the cinematics from their upcoming unnumbered Uncharted game. The new adventure stars Chloe Frazer, professional adventurer, and her mercenary companion Nadine Ross as they unlock the mysteries surrounding the Tusk of Ganesh to keep it from falling into the hands of some bad, bad people. The new cinematic shows a bit of a quieter moment between the two leads as they uncover the secrets of an ancient medallion that could lead them in the right direction. 
 
 
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy releases for PlayStation 4 on August 22, 2017 and will retail for $39.99.
Jack Gardner

 
The force is strong with this one. Star Wars Battlefront 2 was intended to show officially at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida April 13-16. However, someone with access to the trailer ahead of time leaked the trailer onto the video hosting service Vimeo, presumably because leaked videos take a bit longer to be taken down on that platform. The original upload is no longer available, but the trailer has since been scattered to the wind and picked up by the larger internet. As of right now, you can view the trailer on numerous YouTube channels, like the one below. 
 
 
There are a lot of exciting things about this teaser trailer, despite its short length. There are strong hints that this sequel might include space battles - possibly along the same lines as the previous Battlefront 2 on the PlayStation 2, which featured massive ship-to-ship combat combined with ground combat inside those ships.
 
New hero characters from different eras were also shown fighting in the trailer. Notably the teaser depicts the opening moments of a duel between Darth Maul and Yoda. Rey and Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens also make brief appearances, letting us know that the entire Star Wars universe is fair game to appear in this sequel. That kind of fan service has really been the bread and butter of the Battlefront series. 
 
Battlefront 2 will be releasing with a story campaign, something many players wished to see in its predecessor. The story seems like it will follow a soldier for the Empire in a post-Return of the Jedi galaxy. The second Death Star has been destroyed along with the Emperor and the Rebel Alliance has beaten back the Empire's fleet.
 
Various locations are shown in the trailer and seem to indicate that battles at Starkiller Base, Jakku, Hoth, and other film locations are in store - no surprises there. The main downside to this leaked trailer is that it gives no context to the systems that will back up these locations. Will Galactic Conquest return? Will bot play help bolster servers that aren't terribly busy? Are the game mode offerings going to be more robust? I suppose we will have to wait to see if the official reveal in the coming days contains more information.
Jack Gardner

 
You might have noticed headlines today blaring about how BioWare was going to reboot their beloved Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic franchise. Going from some of the articles, you'd think that this new version was going to be completely redone in the Frostbite Engine and also spontaneously manifest unending supplies of pizza. Sadly, that rumor never had much substance to it.
 
The rumor originated from some words uttered by Liam Robertson, who runs Unseen64. On the show, Roberston discussed revelations from his connections at BioWare Austin, saying: 
 
 
According to Kotaku, that information just isn't accurate, or at least it is only partially correct. BioWare's Austin studio actually did prototype a revamped Knights of the Old Republic; the only problem is that the project never went any further than that. It's not in development and hasn't been greenlit by the higher ups at BioWare. Revamped KotOR isn't happening.
 
Liam Roberston released a statement earlier today on the issue:
 
 
However, what is happening at BioWare Austin is work on a new IP for the studio. It's rumored to be a game along similar to Bungie's Destiny series. The code-name for the project has been confirmed to be Dylan, something Liam Robertson's sources also corroborated. Dylan went into development shortly after the cancellation of BioWare's last attempt at a new IP, Shadow Realms. Whatever it turns out to be, Dylan should be shown at E3 later this year.
Jack Gardner

 
We haven't talked much about sports games on the show. This week, Daniel Jones brings the digital baseball series MLB The Show up to the plate. It's sadly an Honorable Mention episode because Jack and Jeremy vanished at the merest hint of physical activity.
 
With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode.
 

 
Outro music: Super Spike V'Ball 'Copacabana Beach' by Leandro Abreu (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02858)
 
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

 
The other day it struck me as odd that I had never seen someone put Waluigi in the place he was always meant to be: That one Budweiser commercial from 2000 that had everyone screaming wassup for years. I sometimes make stupid things to put on the internet and after rolling the idea around in my head I finally decided to put the internet's most beloved Mario villain into one of the strangest, meme-iest beer commercials ever made.
 
 
I'm not proud of myself, but someone had to step up and do the right thing to bring this into existence. 
Jack Gardner

 
Video game Twitter can be a strange place. Twitch streamer S1N3N started it all two days ago when he asked the social media accounts for Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft which game he should purchase. S1N3N streams to a fanbase of about 630 people and can be found streaming games during the late night hours. 
 
 
Fairly innocuous tweet, right? Little did S1N3N know the cosmic forces he had just prodded to life. Sometimes when you shout into the void of cyberspace, cyberspace shouts back at you. You see, someone on the World of Warcraft account heard S1N3N's plea for help and offered the fairly obvious answer that in WOW some players can shoot lasers from their eyes.
 
 
However, WOW made a classic Twitter blunder: Never retain the @ of your mortal enemy. World of Warcraft's tweet roused the interest of Final Fantasy XIV's social media. They saw laser eyes and immediately went for the one-up.
 
 
 
Of course, building-sized meteors of death only made World of Warcraft cackle with malignant malice as they released AN EVEN BIGGER METEOR! 
 
 
However, Final Fantasy was having none of it. They granted that the meteor was indeed larger, but then referred WoW to their moon, which imprisoned the elder primal dragon known as Bahamut, and proceeded to lay some smack talk on Warcraft's mascot dragon Deathwing. 
 
 
Of course, World of Warcraft was loath to be outdone. They threw down the gauntlet of ruin, revealing how much destruction and power was housed in their universe. Moons and meteors? What about entire planets obliterated?
 
 
As of right now, this is the final tweet in the WoW vs. Final Fantasy Twitter war, but something tells me this might not be the last shot fired....
 
Oh, and Overwatch kicked back to relax and enjoy the spectacle along with the rest of us. 
 
 
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