ZeniMax and Bethesda acquired by Microsoft

Microsoft has announced today that they will acquire ZeniMax Media and its studios like Bethesda Softworks, id Software, MachineGames, Arkane and others for $7.5 billion in cash. Around 2300 employees will now work for the XBox ecosystem, and their games will be released on day one on the PC and XBox consoles – and also in the XBox Game Pass, even if some of the games will still be released on Playstation consoles and other platforms. Many of these studios have been some pioneers of the games on Windows PC and XBox consoles, so Microsoft said it has been an easy decision for them. The acquisition should be finalized at the end of 2021.

Peter Hines, the vice-president of Bethesda, has declared that this acquisition was a big opportunity for Bethesda to go forward and have access to the huge resources of Microsoft, which has been a partner of their studios for a very long time.

Phil Spencer, the head of XBox division in Microsoft, has commented this acquisition on CNBC:

 

Carboard Wolfenstein 3-D!

A creator named Ross Atkins created a real cardboard version of the mazes of Wolfenstein 3-D (called “Smartistein3D”) that players can try thanks to a robot controlled through their web browser, while the inventor is following the robot and removing the fallen enemies! And it looks fun!

 

BJ and his family and friends celebrate the 4th of July!

The official twitter account of the Wolfenstein series has published a picture of BJ celebrating the national day of USA with his family and friends:

We can see most of the heroes of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, like his wife Anya and his daughters Jess and Soph, Fergus Reid and Probst Wyatt together (even if BJ had to let live only one of them in Wolfenstein: The New Order), Set Roth in the rocking chair, Bombate and his girlfriend Sigrun Engel (the daughter of Frau Irene), Horton Boone, Grace Walker and her baby (with Jess and Soph as babies). Note that BJ is preparing a barbecue… in the mouth of a Panzerhund! Happy 4th of July to our heroes!

The Wolfenstein Board Game kickstarter campaign has been launched successfully!

As mentioned in a previous post, the kickstarter campaign of the Wolfenstein Board Game has been launched today, and it’s already a huge success! The goal of 50,000$ US has been reached after only a few hours – and now we’re at more than 335,000$ – almost 7 times the goal!

The developers of Archon Studio have posted a message celebrating that success, with already several stretch goals reached, including a dashboard for your cards, and the card and figurine of Caroline Becker:

Some specialized sites also got the opportunity to get a prototype version of the game, and show it to their viewers:

Wolfenstein 3-D on PSP

Since the source code of the game was released in open source, plenty of people have tried to port the game to various platforms, similarly to Doom – which has the iconic reddit thread: “Will it run Doom?” – with the game ported on many platform, sometimes exotic, like shop touchscreens, etc…

In the latest projects, we have Wolf3D running on the PSP through the RetroArch platform! It runs well, even with some basic sounds.

Note that it’s not the first time the game was ported on that platform, it has been already done with HomeBrew:

New Wolfenstein board game!

The Polish studio Archon Studio will adapt the Wolfenstein games into a new board game that will be funded via a kickstarter campaign, as announced on their site:

Wolfenstein – The Board Game takes place in the legendary Castle Wolfenstein and, like the action of the flagship, award-winning games developed by MachineGames – Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus – occurs in the early 1960s in the world where the Nazis won the Second World War.

Players will have to infiltrate the castle, playing as their favorite characters – BJ Blazkowicz, Anya Oliwa, Set Roth, Max Hass, and Bombate. A unique 32 mm plastic figurine will represent each of these characters. Additional known characters will be available in future add-ons and expansions.

Upon infiltrating the titular castle, players will have to contend with the Nazi antagonists controlled by the game’s AI mechanisms.

Each game will play out in one of three different ways. Depending on the chosen game, players will encounter Nazi zombies, Mechanized Nazis, or a mixture of both. The set will also contain an iconic unit known from the legendary “Wolfenstein 3D” – Mecha-Hitler!

Controlled by players, BJ and his companions will fight through the hordes of Nazis, explore Castle Wolfenstein, and perform dangerous missions, all to defeat the sinister plans of Adolf Hitler and his two cruel subordinates. Wolfenstein – The Board Game will provide unforgettable moments for two-to-five players.

– Dungeon Crawler gameplay with random events
– Co-opertaive adventure for your party
– 50+ prime quality miniatures in base game alone
– End the Regime and set the world free
– Play entire campaign or any of 10 missions – you decide

There is no date yet for the campaign or the release of the game, but you can subscribe to the newletter on the official site. The prototype of the game has been already presented in various shows dedicated to board games:

The Art of Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Bethesda and Dark Horse Books will release on 20th June 2020 the book “The Art of Wolfenstein: Youngblood“, with all the concept art and pictures of the environments and characters of the game:

Filled with amazing art and exclusive commentary, this gorgeous hardcover art book invites its reader to delve deep into this superb collection of production material from the latest romp into the world of Wolfenstein. This item is a must-have for sisters, brothers, and all other champions for the cause!

You can preorder the book on Amazon US for $49.99 US, on Amazon Canada for $65.33 CAN, on Amazon UK for £36.95, and on Amazon France for 47.70€.

The RTX patch of Wolfenstein: Youngblood out this week (updated)

nvidia and Bethesda have announced that the long-awaited patch of the game Wolfenstein: Youngblood enabling the ray-tracing technology on nvidia RTX graphic cards will be released in the upcoming days, 6 months after the release of the game. They have also released a new video showing the difference in the game when the technology is on and off:

The patch will also enable the DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology that will improve the performances of the game thanks to a special trained AI deep learning algorithm that will dynamically adjust the aliasing of the graphics of the game.

These options can be enabled in the graphic settings of the game, provided you have a Geforce RTX graphic card. You can find more details about the patch in this post.

Update: the patch of the game has been released last Thursday along with new nvidia drivers 441.87 released earlier, needed to get the feature working correctly on nvidia Geforce 2060 cards and above.

With the RTX technology in the latest Wolfenstein game, it’s always good to remember where we come from with this video of all the enemies of the Wolfenstein games, from Wolfenstein 3-D to Youngblood, recorded by the Games Intros & Finales youtube channel:

 

The story of Silas Warner

Polygon has posted a long and very interesting article about the life and work of one of the greatest but unknown pioneers of the video games industry, Silas Warner (1949-2004), who created the games Castle Wolfenstein (1981) and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984) on Apple II, Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64, and thus started the Wolfenstein series.

His company, Muse Software, released several games in the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s on various platforms – including Maze Game, Escape!, Tank WarThree Mile Island, RobotWar, Titan Empire,  while also having a shop next to their studio in which they were selling their own games in Baltimore, USA. The company bankrupted in 1985, and Silas joined MicroProse (with Sid Meier, the creator of Civilization games) and then Virgin Interactive. In 1992, the Wolfenstein franchise was sold to id Software for just $5000….

Castle Wolfenstein, Muse Software (1981)

Wolfenstein 3-D is available in Germany

At last! 27 years after its release in the rest of Europe, Wolfenstein 3-D can be now also bought in Germany!

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As reported in this news about the release of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, the attorney general of Germany challenged in 2018 the rule forbidding any representation of the imagery of the Third Reich in games, as it is allowed in other forms of art like movies (complete report here). And soon after, the USK rating board announced that it will examine each game case by case, with a more open mind, as the age rating in games have been introduced in 2003, and help avoiding children to be exposed to such imagery. This week, the banning applied to Wolfenstein 3-D in 1998 has been lifted, and the game can now be sold in Germany too.