Someone should make a game about: The Palomar Observatory Sky Survey

Hello, and welcome to our new series which picks out interesting things that we’d love someone to make a game about. This isn’t a chance for us to pretend we’re game designers, more an opportunity to celebrate the range of subjects games can tackle and the sorts of things that seem filled with glorious gamey promise.

For years, the night sky could be found arranged neatly in a bunch of folders stacked in a huge system of filing cabinets in research department libraries around the world. The night sky captured as a set of images called the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, or POSS for short.

The POSS is a series of almost 2000 photographic plates of the stars, taken on the 48-inch Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory, largely over the course of the 1950s. The first photographic plate was exposed in November 1949 and the last in December 1958. Each 14-inch plate shows an area of the sky “that looks about as big as your fully outstretched hand held at arm’s length,” explains the astronomer Mike Brown, writing about POSS with obvious fondness in his book, How I Killed Pluto – and Why it had it Coming. (Amongst other things, Brown discovered Eris, a Kuiper Belt object that ultimately led to Pluto being reclassified as a dwarf planet. His book is an absolute delight.)

Read more

Someone should make a game about: The Palomar Observatory Sky Survey syndicated from

After six years of waiting, Cube World alpha purchasers get to play a new build next week

Developer Picroma has announced that its very-long-in-the-works voxel-based action-RPG, Cube World, will be holding a closed beta next week, ahead of its official launch later this year.

Cube World, which first surfaced all the way back in 2013, is designed to deliver an exploration-focussed take on the action-RPG genre, with its procedurally generated open-world promising a different experience on every play-through.

While Cube World’s $15 USD alpha version, release in 2013, was enjoyable in its own right, its successes have long been overshadowed by the fact that its developer, Wolfram von Funck, embarked on an extended period of radio silence not long after launch, with whole years passing between social media posts. von Funck attributed this to mental health issues in a recent, candid blog post.

Read more

After six years of waiting, Cube World alpha purchasers get to play a new build next week syndicated from

BioWare ditching Anthem’s original post-launch content plans to focus on “core issues”

Following the much-delayed release of Anthem’s Cataclysm update last month, BioWare says it will be ditching its originally announced post-launch content plans, and will now be delivering “seasonal updates” in place of its planned regular “Acts” in order to focus on “core issues”.

When BioWare initially revealed its post-launch content plans for Anthem back in February, just ahead of what transpired to be the game’s less-than-stellar release, it teased three different upcoming Acts. Each would consist of several updates, expanding the world and the activities available to players, and would culminate in a limited-time Cataclysm event, designed to shake up the core experience.

Act One was originally due to go live in March, but many of its features were delayed as BioWare struggled to remedy the numerous technical issues plaguing Anthem following release. It took six months to get the game’s first Cataclysm event out the door, and ne’er a word was spoken about the other two planned Acts in the interim – and now we know why.

Read more

BioWare ditching Anthem’s original post-launch content plans to focus on “core issues” syndicated from

Steam’s long-awaited library overhaul is available now in public beta

Steam’s library view has existed, unwavering, since the birth of time itself (more or less), and few would argue that it wasn’t in need of a long-overdue revamp. We’ve known one was coming for a while now, of course, with various work-in-progress teases, both official and otherwise, having emerged at intervals over the last year or so. Finally, however, Valve’s efforts are ready for their public debut, and are available now in beta.

Once you’ve opted in to the beta (which merely requires selecting the appropriate drop-down option from Steam’s settings menu), the first thing you’ll likely notice is your new library’s aesthetic overhaul. That immediately comes into play on the new library landing page, which offers a snapshot of recently played titles, as well as recent activity for select games in your collection – seemingly pulled from developer-created news posts. There’s also an overview of recent friend activity, and the ability to display games organised into user-created collections.

Steam’s library update (which, incidentally, isn’t reflected across its Big Picture mode at present) also brings with it new-look pages for individual games. Select a title in your library at random, and you’ll be presented with a broad selection of information pertaining to that game, now organised in a manner which doesn’t appear to have tumbled out of the 90s.

Read more

Steam’s long-awaited library overhaul is available now in public beta syndicated from

ESA proposes rebranding E3 2020 as “fan, media, and influencer festival” in leaked document

It’s no secret that E3, once the indisputable highlight of the games industry’s announcement calendar, has found itself slowly floundering into irrelevancy in recent years, with an increasing number of publishers foregoing expensive show attendance in favour of more intimate events and livestreams of their own. In response, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) – the US trade body that runs E3 – is reportedly proposing a radical rebranding of the show for next year, which would turn it into a “fan, media, and influencer festival”.

All this comes via a leaked pitch deck (as seen by intended for the ESA members, which suggests possible new forms for E3 following member feedback. The core of the proposal revolves around the idea of turning the once-industry-only event into a more consumer-focussed affair, and the ESA’s membership has reportedly already approved an additional 15,000 tickets for the general public, bringing total consumer tickets up to 25,000.

As part of that change, E3’s traditional floor layout could, according to the ESA’s proposal, be adjusted to accommodate eight large-scale stage-like “experience hubs” where punters are able to watch influencers and celebrities playing video games – with the organisation suggesting the Los Angeles Lakers playing a basketball game as an example.

Read more

ESA proposes rebranding E3 2020 as “fan, media, and influencer festival” in leaked document syndicated from

Sea of Thieves is giving away the Obsidian Cannon cosmetic for Talk Like a Pirate Day

Sea of Thieves, a game about pirates, is giving a little something away in celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day – which, should it not already be in your diary for some inexplicable reason, takes place this Thursday, 19th September.

Specifically, developer Rare is offering up another piece of Sea of Thieves’ Obsidian cosmetics set, which has been doled out in piecemeal fashion since the game launched in March last year. This time, pirates are being given the chance to secure the Obsidian ship cannon, nudging the Obsidian Ship Livery given away as part of July’s Twitch Rivals event just that little bit closer toward completion. That just leaves the capstan and wheel to go.

In order to secure the Obsidian Cannon, Rare is once again pointing players in the direction of Twitch. This means you’ll need to link your Microsoft account to Twitch before you do anything else, and instructions can be found on the Sea of Thieves website.

Read more

Sea of Thieves is giving away the Obsidian Cannon cosmetic for Talk Like a Pirate Day syndicated from

Borderlands 3 delivers solid performance on PS4 and Xbox One

We should have tested the base consoles first. Instead, we kicked off our Borderlands 3 coverage with a look at how the game ran on Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, where the results were something of a mixed bag, to say the least. Happily, the story is significantly more positive when checking out Borderlands 3 on the standard consoles – it’s by no means perfect, there are some frustrating issues, but the fundamentals are sound and the game is fine.

Perhaps key to the success of Borderlands 3 on PS4 and Xbox One is the fact that developer Gearbox essentially plays it safe. The evidence suggests that on consoles at least, it’s the vanilla PlayStation 4 that is the primary target platform: 1080p is the target resolution with superior performance to the Pro’s resolution mode, which targets 1800p – a 178 per cent increase in pixel-count when the console itself only delivers around 2x performance.

Obviously, image quality takes a hit by comparison – and there are some issues with more aggressive pop-in and texture streaming. However, frame-rates are much better: easily higher than the Pro’s resolution mode, and more consistent than the somewhat wobbly performance mode on the enhanced machine. The best word to describe Borderlands 3 on PS4 would be ‘solid’ – in the game’s initial stages, at least. Beyond that, the game is very similar to the Pro version we’ve already looked at, in both good and bad ways – close-up, texture work still looks rather rough on all platforms.

Read more

Borderlands 3 delivers solid performance on PS4 and Xbox One syndicated from