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…

Zoe and I have been playing Minecraft. Zoe is my friend, for context, and she’s very good at Minecraft, and she’s teaching me all the ins and outs of the game. I’m grateful, because I have no idea what I’m doing and would probably perish out there on my own. 

The other day, we found a treasure map, and, filled with fervent curiosity and enthusiasm, we walked and walked and walked. And then got in a boat and rowed and rowed and rowed. The map took us to a tiny island, and, once we’d aligned ourselves with the giant red “X,” we began to dig. 

45 minutes later, we had dug a very long tunnel into the earth, and not achieved very much else. If we kept digging, we’d encounter monsters, and we both knew that I was not ready to deal with that. We were also digging one block away from the sea, so one mistake would flood the tunnel. It was rather dire straits for a Minecraft session. So, we left the island behind and returned home with a lot of sand in our pockets. I didn’t feel let down, though. Lots of islands are lovely for their own reasons, but I imagine only a small percentage of them actually have stories to tell. 

There must be some strange islands out there, I thought, while browsing Wikipedia. I’m glad to report that the Isle of the Dead, off the coast of Port Arthur, in Tasmania, is one example. 

It’s sort of self-explanatory, really. The island amassed 1,000 to 1,700 graves of convicts and free people of the Port Arthur penal colony. The area of the island is less than a square mile, and, before it was a cemetery, its plants and wildlife were a source of food for the indigenous population. On the Isle of the Dead, the only structures were the gravedigger’s residence and a small shelter for funeral parties. As a record of the labour and the lives of the prisoners, tourists started to visit the island, and now Isle of the Dead tours fund conservation and heritage efforts, like dredging artefacts from the coastline and restoring headstones. 

One last thing: when you go on Google Maps and look up Isle of the Dead, it’s got four out of five stars from 16 reviews. Why? What is lacking from the Isle of the Dead? A recycling bin? Anyway, here’s the news. 

Fable and Perfect Dark Twitter accounts made in 2020 have been “inactive for years,” says Microsoft

“For years,” said Microsoft. Sure. Firstly, the Fable account (which is private) appeared in March 2020, and apparently has a Microsoft e-mail address attached to it. The Perfect Dark account was made by a fan in June 2020, and Microsoft’s Ken Lobb requested to follow the account. The owner of the Perfect Dark account disclosed that he’s “just a normal guy,” unaffiliated with the company, and “after accepting kens follow I sent him a message saying that if you needed the @ I’d be happy to give it up.” These accounts got a lot of attention, so Xbox marketing manager Aaron Greenberg set the record straight. “I know everyone is hungry for news, but sorry to get your hopes up,” said Greenberg. “These accounts have been inactive for years, it’s standard practice to secure social handles for our IP.” But these accounts were registered this year. Either Greenberg hasn’t got a good grip on maths (unlikely, given his role as a marketing manager), or something is in the works for Fable and Perfect Dark. 

Harry Potter RPG is “on track” to release for PS5 and XSX in 2021, claims report

A report from Bloomberg has affirmed that the Harry Potter ARPG is still in development, and that it’s going to be revealed in late 2020. It is the same game that was leaked in 2018, so recent rumours about the game’s story and gameplay is not true. In addition, the team at Avalanche Software is progressing well with the project, and the game is “on track.” However, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s comments on trans women might have hurt the game, even though it’s not officially announced. “Based on what I’ve seen from fans, I do believe that Rowling’s comments have had some effect on the level of excitement they have for the Harry Potter RPG or other upcoming content,” said MuggleNet managing editor Felicia Grady. “We’ve seen comments from fans who no longer wish to support Rowling or the brand financially.”

Capcom wants to make a Monster Hunter game for middle and high-schoolers

Is Monster Hunter World inbound for the Switch? No, said Capcom in a recent investor’s meeting. “We are planning to develop a Monster Hunter that middle and high-school students can enjoy, so please look forward to it,” it replied. This title would expectedly arrive on the Switch as a simpler and perhaps more structured entry to the series for new players. It may even be a remaster of the turn-based RPG Monster Hunter Stories for the Nintendo 3DS. We’ll have to wait and see what’s in store. 

Football Manager alters player database after accusations of racial profiling

An article published in June 2019 claimed that the popular football management sim would rank game-generated players with dark skin poorly for professionalism, loyalty and sportsmanship. In response, Sports Interactive studio director Miles Jacobson denied that this was the case, and explained that game-generated players with darker skin would rank highly for traits like ambition, temperament and controversy. The developer has stuck to its stance that the game’s systems are not indicative of racial stereotyping, but did change the way that Football Manager generates new players. Now, all attributes of all players will be created randomly, instead of being determined by the existing attributes of players of a certain nationality. 

Amazon’s Crucible is going back to beta only one month after its launch

Yikes. I mean, I didn’t like it, but I thought Amazon would siphon however much moolah was needed into Crucible, to keep it going. Apparently, that wasn’t Amazon’s approach. Relentless Studios announced on Wednesday that the game is going to be shelved for the time being. This will let the team address the goals of Crucible, which include improving the Heart of the Hives mode, matchmaking, tutorials, voice chat, and a proper ping system. Once these have been achieved, the game will go back into a closed beta but only for those who kept the game downloaded on their Steam account.

Metal Gear Solid movie adaptation appears to be a long way off

“Look, this is my baby,” said director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. “I’ve been working on this thing for six years, trying to make it so it is the disruptive, punk-rock, true to Metal Gear, true to Kojima-san spirit version of what this is. I will continue to fight for it every day.” In an interview with Gary Whitta on his show Animals Talking, Vogt-Roberts explained that the script is complete but that he’s waiting for a good fit with a studio before moving forward. “Getting something like Metal Gear made…  it is so complex [so] it’s even harder,” he said. “That’s why I’m trying to make it for a budget where you can do crazy shit, where you can do the Metal Gear version of it where it isn’t neutered.” He continued to qualify that he doesn’t know when that magic meeting will happen, especially with the current coronavirus crisis, but he will “fight every single day until [he] can’t.”

Loot boxes “should be regulated as gamblig” as soon as possible, says UK House of Lords

Referring to the “extraordinarily robust” relationship between loot boxes and problem gambling, the report emphasises that the in-game mechanic must be classified as a “game of chance.” The committee also applauded the regulations put in place by countries like Singapore, the Netherlands, and Belgium which have “[seen] the dangers” of encouraging children to “gamble.” In addition, Ukie has sided with the House of Lords in this particular quandary. “The majority of people in the UK play video games in one form or another, so we take these concerns seriously. We’ve worked hard to increase the use of family controls on consoles which can turn off or limit spending and we will be working closely with the DCMS during its review of the Gambling Act later this year,” said Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie. 

Hyper Scape lets fallen players haunt the battlefield and help their teammates

A new contender in the battle royale arena, Hyper Scape is set in a fictionalised future, where the tech giant Prisma Dimensions runs the Crown Rush in its Metaverse. 100 players drop into the city of Neo Arcadia, grabbing weapons and special abilities as they tear through opponents, and the AI host will modify the world depending on Twitch viewers’ votes. In addition, when a player is killed, they’ll become an Echo. As a hologram, they’ll be able to ping items and points of interest, but are unable to harm other players. Once their teammates kills one of their opponents, they’ll drop a restore point which lets the Echo respawn and return to the fight. 

Carry on the conversation on the VideoGamer forums!