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.

John Carmack awarded for his work on VR… just before leaving Oculus!

Last Monday, John Carmack received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the VR Awards, and in his recorded acceptance speech, complained about the slow pace of progress in VR, knowing that there are still many things to do in that domain…

… but he won’t be the guy who will implement his long TODO list, as he announced today that he will leave Oculus, going from being the full-time CTO (since 2013 after his departure from id Software) to a “Consulting CTO” role for the company. He will work in research related to the “Artifical General Intelligence” – AI with some kind of real reflexion and learning.

Starting this week, I’m moving to a "Consulting CTO” position with Oculus.I will still have a voice in the development…

Posted by John Carmack on Wednesday, November 13, 2019

 

He was already talking about his interest in the domain in this long – but very interesting! – 2 and a half hours interview he gave to Joe Rogan in August about his past and future work, including long segments about VR and id Software:

We can be sure that with the intelligence of John Carmack, this domain might evolve more quickly in the upcoming years!

Patch 1.0.7 for Wolfenstein: Youngblood with new content

Bethesda and MachineGames have released the patch 1.0.7 for Wolfenstein: Youngblood with some new content for the game: a new mission called “Treasure Hunt” in a secret place of the Da’at Yichud in Paris, new enemies, new abilities and signals, and new skins – check this page on the blog of Bethesda for more details. It is already available on PC, XBox One and PS4, and will come soon on Nintendo Switch.

Bobby Princes sues Gearbox and Valve for Duke Nukem music

The composer of the legendary music of Wolfenstein 3-D, Doom and Duke Nukem 3-D has filed a lawsuit against Gearbox and its CEO Randy Pitchford, and also Valve (for Steam) – because they have used the music he had created for the game in the “Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour edition” of the game w/o asking him and paying him his royalties! According to PC Gamer:

In a document submitted to U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Tennessee, Prince’s attorneys described how 16 songs he wrote were used in 1996 shooter Duke Nukem 3D under an agreement with developer Apogee. “Apogee had a limited right to use Mr. Prince’s music in Duke Nukem 3D in exchange for a royalty equal to $1 per unit sold,” they said. Prince had registered the copyrights for the songs.

Gearbox Software purchased certain rights to the Duke Nukem games from Apogee in 2010. Prince claimed the company went on to use his music in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, the 2016 update to the shooter, without his permission. “The electronic files for the music within Duke Nukem 3D World Tour include text specifically stating that Mr Prince owns the copyright to the music and has reserved all rights to the music’s use,” the court document read. “Yet Gearbox incorporated the music into the game without ever contacting Mr Prince and without clearing the rights expressly mentioned in the electronic files.”

Furthermore, Prince claimed he contacted Randy Pitchford requesting royalties for the music in the 2016 game, and was told he would be “taken care of”, but never received any money. Pitchford also “refused to remove the music from the game”, Prince’s attorneys said.

Prince also contacted Valve, he claimed, regarding the distribution of the game on Steam. “Valve ignored a takedown notice, thus waiving any immunity under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and continued distributing infringing copies of the music despite knowing that Mr Prince owned the copyrights in the music,” the document reads.

Gearbox Software, Gearbox Publishing, Randy Pitchford and Valve have been given 21 days to respond to the summons.

Gearbox and Valve haven’t responded yet to this dispute, but Pitchford has recently found an agreement for another legal dispute with one of his former lawyers for some bad usage of the company money…

Bobby Prince in 1992

On his side, and even if he has been retired from the game music industry for years – Wrack was the last game he worked on in 2014, Bobby is still blogging about music and other stuffs, regularly posting very interesting articles about his career in the game industry. He battled a cancer several years ago, with the help of many people through public fundraising, and was cured successfully.

 

A TV series about Masters of Doom is in development

The book “Masters of Doom”, which describes the story of John Carmack and John Romero until they found id Software and create iconic games like Wolfenstein 3-D, Doom and Quake, will be adapted to a TV series by USA Network (Mr Robot, Suits, The Purge, …), with the pilot episode that will be shot soon. The cast is composed of Eduardo Franco (Booksmart) as John Romero, and Patrick Gibson (The OA) as John Carmack.

The cast will also be composed of Jane Ackermann (Neptune) as Hannah Romero, the first wife of John Romero, John Karna (Scream: The TV Series) as Tom Hall,  Peter Friedman (Succession) as Al Vekovius, the boss of Softdisk, who recruited all these geniuses in the 80s before they left and created id Software, and Siobhan Williams (Deadly Class) as Stevie Case, a famous pro-gamer and the girlfriend of John Romero later in the 90s.

Tom Hall reacted to this annoucement in his own way!

Stevie Case too! (and her actress)

And the creator of the book:

… while John Romero was celebrating the birthday of Spear of Destiny (27 years old!) and admiring his own portraits in Ukraine! ^^

… and John Carmack was doing some tech conference about the Oculus VR set…

 

 

 

 

Two former MachineGames developers open their new studio

Two former technical artists who worked on Wolfenstein games, Michael Paixao and Joel Jonsson, have open their own game development studio called Bad Yolk Games in Sweden (in Uppsala like MachineGames), according to Game Industry Biz, after some legal disputes with the owner of their former employer, ZeniMax Media. They promote a more healthy work environment for employees, unlike MachineGames were the culture of “crunches” and overtime was quite usual. Paixao has previously worked in Ubisoft Massive on The Division, were the crunch culture was quite the same – unlike Ubisoft Montreal where I work, where the crunches are less frequent. We’ll see how these great principles will face the reality of small studios and short plannings and funding…

Their first project made with Unreal Engine 4 and Houdini (for 3D animations) has been revealed at the GamesCom : Main Assembly. It’s available in Steam Early Access. Here is the trailer of the game:

Wolfenstein anniversary & Youngblood updates

Bethesda has released the patch 1.0.3 of Wolfenstein: Youngblood at the beginning of the month with some improvements and crashes fixes, while the patch 1.0.4 has been published some days ago, with the possibility to pause – at last! – the game in solo mode.

Note that the following patch 1.0.5 will add some extra checkpoints and difficulty adjustments in the game, especially for its final boss – waaay to difficult! The support of the ray-tracing for Geforce RTX cards will be enabled in a later patch.
Edit: The patch has been released today August, 28th. Here is the release note.

And this week we celebrate an anniversary: ten years ago, Wolfenstein was released by Raven and id Sofware! A decade before Youngblood, this was the first attempt to make a Wolfenstein game as an open world, with a hub and missions to complete… It also led BJ to some alternate dimensions like the Veil, where he could use his powers to defeat his enemies, while facing some creatures full of energy from this dimension. The boss fight again Hans Grosse was also quite memorable! Here is the launch trailer of the game:

More reviews of Wolfenstein: Youngblood

One week after the release of the game, more reviews have been posted about the game. The MetaCritic score has reached some very weak values of 71% on PC, 64% on PS4, 68% on XBox One and 65% on Nintendo Switch, and 67% for OpenCritic on all platforms. It’s even worse for Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, with a MetaCritic score of 54% on PC and 51% on PS4, and even 49% on OpenCritic, making it the worst Wolfenstein game ever released.

For instance, VCG notes that:

New Colossus fans will probably dislike its unfocused narrative and fussy levelling system, but Youngblood offers plenty of blood and thunder if you give it time.

Critical Hit is even more critical…

Wolfenstein Youngblood is a disappointingly bland shooter that fails to capture the intensity or passion of New Order and New Colossus, delivering a humdrum experience plagued by uninteresting design and grindy gameplay

But some sites like GameRant are more positive, and see the game as a nice way to try new gameplay ideas:

Wolfenstein: Youngblood offers a great gameplay loop that will likely keep FPS fans busy for a few dozen hours, even if it doesn’t quite deliver in terms of character and world-building. This first interation of a progression system feels like a success and hopefully it becomes a staple of the franchise moving forward.

Here is a good summary from Rock Paper Shotgun:

First reviews of Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Cyberpilot VR

The games have been released last Thursday and Friday, and have been reviewed by most of the major videogames sites.

With a mean score of 72 % on PS4 and 76 % on PC on MetaCritic (with scores for other consoles pending), and 75% on OpenCritic, Wolfenstein: Youngblood has a smaller score than Wolfenstein 2, but it’s still good.

Here are some excerpts from some of these reviews:

PlayStation Universe praises the quality of the characters, especially the dialogs between the sisters and Abby:

This trio is by far the best part of the narrative side of Youngblood. Jess and Soph are delightfully quirky, behaving and making jokes exactly how siblings would. The banter between them is some of the best dialogue in a game this year and the Wolfenstein series overall. There are countless memorable moments between them, such as when they approach their first Nazi and realize just how woefully nervous and unprepared they are, leading to one of the multiple genuine laugh-out-loud moments throughout the game.

However, they’re less convinced by the quality of the storyline of the game. They love the action and the dynamics of the game too!

Multiple additions to the combat in Wolfenstein: Youngblood makes it the most dynamic and fun in the series.

… with new abilities – like the double jump – for the powersuit and some new weapons and ammunitions. They also like how the levels have been created, as they’re more open and vertical, and should be explored in order to get some useful loot.

I loved exploring every nook and cranny of the environments that Arkane had created, not only because they were interesting and varied across the five explorable districts of Paris, but gorgeous to look at as well.

Anyway, ScreenRant is quite disappointed by their lack of life and originality:

The length of the game wouldn’t be as much of an issue if it felt as if there was a lot of content, but Wolfenstein: Youngblood wastes its potential with its small scope. The streets of Paris are small and barren, with the same selection of enemies repeating over and over again, which is also true of the numerous facilities that the players need to explore in missions. The fact that Paris is abandoned (outside of a single mission hub) leaves the game world feeling empty and lifeless.

They have also some concerns with the AI of the game, especially when the other sister is played by the AI in solo, and doesn’t revive you properly during combat. They conclude that:

There was a lot of potential in the idea for Wolfenstein: Youngblood but itfeels more like a proof of concept for something bigger than a full-fledged experience.

Here is the video review of IGN:

 

Wolfenstein: CyberPilot VR was also released the same day, and the score are worse, with a mean score of 59 % on PS4 on MetaCritic, and a pending score around 57% on PC, and even 55% on OpenCritic, this is definitely the first big failure of MachineGames.

For instance, VRFocus complains about the lack of fun and immersion when the player is high above the enemies in the cockpit of a nazi machine:

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot has some good ideas which would be great if the developers explored them more. The storyline kept things moving along nicely and the sections in between the main levels were pleasant enough, especially for a first time VR player. Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot could’ve been so much more, yet it’s short lifespan and lack of additional content will make it a play once and forget experience.

Destructoid adds that:

That’s really the crux of Cyberpilot‘s problems, as it’s just a few hours long. There’s four main missions, with the last being by far the most promising, allowing the player to swap (on cue) between all three machines. By the time the credits rolled I was ready to do that mission over again but there isn’t much else to do. Small diversions like minigames where you have to repair the mechs before missions seem cool at first, almost like the game is building toward some epic puzzles, but never go anywhere and end up feeling like busywork.

Here is the video review of PSVR: