It’s Friday! Or is it? Time is a social construct, so I could tell you it’s Wednesday today, and how could you prove me wrong? It’s Friday because it’s the fifth day this week, but when did this week start? Can’t prove that either, I’m afraid. Well, the calendar in the bottom right corner of the monitor says it’s Friday. Who told the computer that it’s Friday? Anyone could change that display in the settings. What I can say, for certain, is that events occurred and news transpired in this indefinable time period, and it’s been turned into bite-size chunks, here in the round-up…

Gearbox Software has joined forces with human biologists, to develop a mini-game in Borderlands 3 that helps scientists map out the human gut microbiome. That’s a sentence. But this isn’t the first instance of biochemistry and gaming coming together for a common goal. Foldit is an online puzzle video game about protein folding, and players pattern-match proteins to understand how these structures work within the human body. Through trawling Wikipedia for the latest topic for this week’s round up, I am now aware of another mystery that gamers could solve, and it’s a little spicier than the small intestine.

Olivier Levasseur, born to a wealthy, well-to-do family in Calais, was a French naval officer who became a privateer during the War of the Spanish Succession. However, when the war ended, he chose to stay at sea and join a pirate company. He already had acquired a cool scar across his eye, and this may have been a factor in his turn to piracy. 

From 1720 onwards, Levasseur worked with pirates John Taylor, Jasper Seagar, and Edward England, until Taylor and Levasseur got a bit bored of England and marooned him. The two then captured the great galleon Nossa Senhora do Cabo, and nicked “bars of gold and silver, dozens of boxes full of golden Guineas, diamonds, pearls, silk, art and religious objects from the Se Cathedral in Goa, including the Flaming Cross of Goa made of pure gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies and emeralds.”

Levasseur made life difficult for the colonial powers of Europe for over a decade, before he was captured and hanged for his crimes in 1730. He wasn’t going to go before getting a one-up on the French government, though. He threw his necklace—containing a cryptogram of 17 lines—into the crowd and said, “Find my treasure, the one who may understand it!” The treasure is estimated to be worth £1 billion, and no one has ever solved the mystery. Given how determined dataminers and gung-ho gamers are when it comes to leaks, rumours, and easter eggs, I believe they’re the best group for the job. This is the cryptogram:

Good luck. Here’s the news.

Cooking Mama: Cookstar developer debunks cryptocurrency mining claims

“As the developers we can say with certainty there is no cryptocurrency or data collection or blockchain or anything else shady in the code. The Nintendo Switch is a very safe platform, with none of the data and privacy issues associated with some mobile and PC games,” said developer 1st Playable. A difficult distribution situation for the new Cooking Mama game made it look like Nintendo wanted nothing to do with Cookstar. With next to no information from the publisher or the developer, imaginations began firing on all cylinders, and rumours ran rampant that the game was mining cryptocurrency from players’ Switches. 

The rumours had a basis, though—when the game was revealed, Cookstar boasted its blockchain technology, to prevent cheating and duplication of game codes. 1st Playable apparently didn’t approve this: “blockchain was never brought up to us developers, and we were entertained to hear about [it] in late 2019.” It turns out that Cookstar doesn’t have any “shady” stuff in it, and the developer and publisher are dealing with a “frustrating” distribution situation, meaning that communication between all parties hasn’t been tip top.

Last Oasis developer explains what went wrong with the servers

Donkey Crew “felt prepared for the launch and wouldn't have released yet otherwise,” but a slew of technical troubles emerged when Last Oasis went live. The servers continually crashed, meaning that the “tens of thousands” of players could hardly play the new MMO before being booted out again. “Our systems were essentially stuck in a loop with multiple issues affecting each other,” explained the developer. “After we announced the servers going down for maintenance, most of the team went to get some sleep after days of working non-stop and woke up to something we did not expect: a lot of you expressing understanding and support.” Donkey Crew expressed its gratitude for its community’s sympathy, and the game is working now for all players.

The Last of Us Part 2 digital release doesn’t look likely as refunds roll out for pre-orders

Due to the delay to The Last of Us Part 2 and Iron Man VR, the two titles have been delisted from the PlayStation Store, and no definite date means orders are no longer valid, according to store policy. The Last of Us Part 2 creative director Neil Druckmann claimed that “no final decision” has been made about the game’s release, but it seems quite definite that players won’t get their paws on the upcoming action game for some time yet. “That’s the frustrating part for us: the game is there and we have to sit on it for a little bit and figure out what the best way is to get it to our fans,” conceded Druckmann. 

Resident Evil 8 rumoured to be titled “Village,” featuring a villainous Chris Redfield

Ethan, though? Ethan is the protagonist of Resident Evil 8? Alright, anyway, the latest leaks about the next entry to the series affirm rumours about a European setting. The game’s working title is apparently “Village,” and Ethan Winters of Resident Evil 7 will continue the story. He meets Chris Redfield in this spooky village, and this triggers recollections of his life with Mia and their child. There appears to be tension between Chris and Ethan, though, because one memory depicts Chris breaking into their home and shooting one of the adults. Yowza. Resident Evil 8 will also use hallucinations and insanity meters to make it difficult to know who to trust during the game, and a witch will hunt Ethan through the village. Capcom is yet to confirm any of the aforementioned, so we should take this all with a pinch of salt.

Sony unveils the DualSense, the new PlayStation 5 controller

“DualSense marks a radical departure from our previous controller offerings and captures just how strongly we feel about making a generational leap with PS5,” said SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan in the announcement. “The new controller, along with the many innovative features in PS5, will be transformative for games—continuing our mission at PlayStation to push the boundaries of play, now and in the future.” I think it looks like Atlas from Portal 2. The designers have altered the “angle of the hand triggers” and added “some subtle updates to the grip,” in order to meet the “challenge of making the controller feel smaller than it really looks.” SIE senior vice president Hideaki Nishino runs through all the details here, if you’d like to know more.

Dordogne is a new adventure game from a Cannes Award-winning animation director

Cedric Babouche, the French director and cinematographer, leads the studio Un Je Ne Sais Quoi, and its debut title is the picturesque adventure game, Dordogne. Mimi is visiting her grandmother’s home nestled in the region after her recent passing, and finds that she has left her letters and puzzles to solve. The game takes place in two timelines—the present will see Mimi explore the rooms in her grandmother’s house, and the past will feature a young Mimi completing quests started by the discoveries in the present. As the player progresses, a journal of Mimi’s childhood memories will form.

Microsoft plans to host “digital-first” events until August 2021

“In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19, Microsoft has been closely monitoring the developing global situation and re-assessing the overall company-wide in-person event strategy,” read an internal email sent to Microsoft employees, that has since been shared online. “As a company, Microsoft has made the decision to transition all external and internal events to a digital first experience through July 2021. This will include the future MVP & RD Summit which is currently scheduled for March 28—April 2, 2021. We will continue to evaluate the situation and look forward to connecting in person when the situation allows.”

The company provided another statement to GamesIndustry.biz, saying that “for the remainder of 2020 we are embracing the opportunity to experiment with new platforms to provide our partners, customers and developers the highest quality, digital-first experiences.”

Carry on the conversation on the VideoGamer forums!