For comparisons sake ODST, Guardians, and real life Fillion. - Imgur

SAG AFTRA Interactive Members Approve Strike

With an overwhelming 95.6% majority, SAG AFTRA’s interactive division has approved a strike. Note that this does not mean that members are on strike, merely that the National Board has the authority to initiate a strike. If this strike occurs no SAG AFTRA voice actors will be doing any recordings for any interactive media company. SAG AFTRA members hope this strike, or the threat of it, will force major companies back to the discussion table concerning inhospitable work conditions, coaches, and secondary payment for blockbuster titles.

This vote is in reaction to major companies obstinate stance on contract changes, which include the capacity to fine voice actors up to $10,000 for being “inattentive” during a recording, and being able to fine agents up to $25,000 if a voice actor does not show up for a recording.

For the past week many voice actors and fans have shown tremendous support on Twitter, under #PerformanceMatters and #IamOnBoard. Some others have shown backlash, criticizing voice actors for doing “the easiest job in the industry”. The vast majority seemed to support the idea of striking, so it the result comes with very little surprise.

SAG AFTRA Interactive’s members seem confident that a strike is necessary to force major companies to acknowledge the work voice actors put into games. While there is not a strike at the current time the massive support behind the strike, obvious both in the votes and on twitter means the National Board will likely initiate a strike soon.

It is unclear what repercussions this will have for upcoming releases, but if the strike occurs and AAA companies hold out it may cause the release of major upcoming games to be delayed. You can read our previous article on the topic here. More information on the Strike Approval can be read on SAG AFTRA’s Interactive division’s website here.


Elsword Launches Sander Secret Dungeon

KOG Games, a leading developer and publisher of popular free-to-play action MMORPGs, has announced the launch of the Sander Secret Dungeon as well as a host of revamps to the existing Secret Dungeon Series for their video game Elsword. You can check out the video below.

Years ago, the means of all life and power in the Sander Desert had become unstable and capsized due to a reckless experiment brought about by the curiosity of Alchemist Vapor. Due to the destruction of the Wind El by Vapor, the very fabric of space and time in Elrios had been rattled with this foolhardy twist of fate, a surge of power erupted from the sundered Wind El tearing Elsword and crew from current day Elrios, back in time to the most preeminent battle of Sander’s war-ravaged history. A war that was fought between every tribe of the vast Sander Desert, and at the bloody pinnacle, entered the seething rancor of hell’s very own Behemoth.

Also due to Vapor’s misfired experiment, the shattered El’s surge of power had stoked the nightmarish Behemoth’s colossal power and inherent anger beyond belief. The Behemoth rears its gargantuan, ugly head and sets to lay waste to all who oppose the demonic blight while the distracted tribes are at war.

The El explorers take on the daunting undertaking of stopping the Behemoth once and for all in hopes of restoring peace to the tribes.

Secret Dungeon Series Update, Rewards and More:

The rest of the Secret Dungeons are getting updated as well. First, the rewards: Bethbites are getting replaced by region-specific stones such as the Sander Stone, Hamel Stone, Velder Stone, etc. In addition, region-specific Coins, updated crafting materials, and exclusive equipment drops will be introduced.

Secret Dungeons will also have fewer stages and uniform difficulty. If players aren’t at ready to save the world, there’s some loot for those who are lower level as well. Players Lv. 59 and below will have the chance to participate in Secret Dungeon themed events starting today.

If you had the chance to go back in time and change the outcome of one of the most devastating battles in history, would you risk life and limb to save hundreds, thousands of those that would have perished? The outcome of one of the most fateful battle in the history of Elsword is now up for grabs, and this volatile test of fate could change everything for the denizens of Sander.

In Elsword, gamers can choose from ten specialized and customizable characters as they explore an immersive world and battle rivals to complete dynamic quests. As players progress through the game, they can evolve their fighting styles by upgrading to new job classes, learning deadly new abilities and mastering combo attacks. With intuitive and straightforward controls, Elsword offers players of all skill levels the ability to experience the thrill of victory in combat either on solo missions or cooperatively in a party of up to four players. For those who welcome a challenge, Elsword also delivers action-packed PvP combat.


New Call Of Duty Trailer Causes More Controversy

Call of Duty has stirred the controversy cauldron on more than one occasion. The most recent being the release of a new 17+ rated promotional trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3,  in which multiple scenes of real life footage flashes briefly in the trailers opening sequence. The live footage includes a montage of explosions, riots, destruction and even natural disasters. The latter was footage taken from the 2013 Flooding in Rhyl, Wales. Now although live footage has been used in games before the key reason as to why it’s used in this instances feels…well, wrong.

Due partly to the context the footage is used in, but, more because of the reasoning behind using the footage. The use of the live footage, which shows real life devastation that caused severe misery to a lot of people’s lives, has been critically slammed by not only the media but also a large majority of consumers. Admittedly the footage used is for a brief few seconds. However it still just seems to be in extremely poor taste with very little consideration for those affected.

This also follows the nasty PR stunt pulled by the official Call of Duty Twitter account on September 29th 2015, in which the official page  proceeded to broadcast out a bomb scare. Yep, they legitimately  live-twitted a  series of fictitious messages claiming Singapore had been subject to a terrorist attack and the government had declared a state of emergency. Now although many people weren’t fouled by this stunt, it still caused a lot of distress and potential panic among many of the unaware, especially to those who are unfamiliar with the franchise. The tweets have since been removed.

Call of Duty seems to have had an ongoing trend of including something controversial within each game. It seems that trend has not only continued with the latest addition into the highly financially successful franchise, but has also been taken one step further by including things that are clearly only there for controversy’s sake to gain attention.

Yes, I understand that the PR stunt wasn’t the worst thing a triple A publisher has ever done ever. No, people fooled by it are not stupid in the slightest. The fact is, this kind of controversial advertisement for attention is just not on from any developer. Controversy for the sake of controversy to get your product attention is just down right gross. Hatred was condemned for its use of clearly provocative and upsetting advertisement strategies. Hatred did include upsetting themes that depicted something that was reflective of real world events.

However, Call of Duty is now doing the exact same thing but practically worse. The major issue with these kinds of PR stunts is not the content itself, but, the very use of controversial material for attention is mind-blowingly wrong. Call of Duty is a franchise far from needing more attention. Meaning it has absolutely no excuse to stooping so low just for publicity. On the flip side, if this was just a PR stunt that wasn’t thought through, then that’s extremely worrying…I mean c’mon, it was clearly done intentionally. There’s no way something like that would’ve pasted risk management. Either the stunt was astonishingly miscalculated or more disturbingly the stunt WAS in fact calculated. Also yes, I’m aware complaining about a PR move that’s intended to get people to complain about it is ironic.

Ultimately, Call of Duty as a franchise doesn’t need to do these sorts of things. When the game is released, it’ll still sell. What publishers need to realise, is that yes, this kind of controversial advertising does gain you huge publicity and attention. However, gaining attention in a negative way like a toddler having an angry paddy, especially when considering the amount of potential backlash it may have, is no way to sell your product. It’s just nasty and portrays both you and your product as desperate.


Halo 5: The Master Chief Lives

It’s been speculated since the last trailer for Halo 5 was released about whether or not 343 Industries could really kill off the Master Chief, as the trailer seemingly showed John-113 being squashed by a building.

However, in the latest trailer, seen below, revealed by Microsoft, we hear from the narrator, who I will dub Anon Commander Bob, that Master Chief has actually gone AWOL, but is officially “dead”. It is also hinted at by both AC Bob’s words and the glimpses in the trailer of Chief running that the UNSC believes he is responsible for the rising of the Guardians.

I feel like this trailer is set to possibly make the player connect more or at least accept Locke, who up until this point has had a lackluster time wooing most fans. While these two trailers do in fact set Chief to be the bad guy, I can’t help but see the comparison with Halo 5 to Halo 2. In Halo 2 you take on the mantle of the Arbiter, who up until this point has been nothing but a bane on humanities existence. (For those of you who do not keep up with the lore and just play Halo for a shooting game, the Elite we know as the Arbiter was in fact the same Elite that ordered the destruction of Reach, and who knows how many other Human worlds.) Throughout the course of Halo 2 and into Halo 3 the Arbiter turns from enemy to ally and ultimate aids humanity and Chief in their time of need.

With Halo 5 once again taking on the campaign with a two story approach I can’t help but feel like this is the case again. I mean while I personally like Locke as a character and feel like he could do great in his own story, such as Halo ODST did with the Rookie, putting him as Chief’s replacement would definitely hinder the series. The only way I could see them ever removing the Master Chief as the main protagonist would be to either move further or behind in the timeline (such as Halo Wars), or tell a different story that does not involve the Chief at all.

But what do you think? Can the Chief be replaced? Will Locke receive his own spin off, or another side character such as Buck? Let us know in the comments below.

Warframe: Echoes of the Sentient

Warframe Gets Jordas Precept Update

Digital Extremes’ Warframe continues to expand and evolve with another exciting update for PC players. A terrifying threat looms on the horizon — a hulking mass of Infestation ready to assimilate all that stands in its path. The J3 Golem — a high-threat Boss — has arrived and you will need every resource at your disposal to beat back this massive threat to the Solar System.

Fortunately, this Update features everything you’ll need to keep the Infestation in check, including a major update to Archwing UI, Missions, and Mechanics. Expand your Arsenal with new Weapons and Customizations and use the earth-bending Atlas Warframe to punch straight through enemy defenses.

Primary highlights of The Jordas Precept Update include:

  • NEW ATLAS WARFRAME: Titan of stone, lord of the earthly elementals.
    Atlas’ powers include: Landslide – Bash enemies with an explosive sliding punch, repeat for a devastating combo. Tectonics – Summon a rock-wall, activate again to send the rocks crashing toward the enemy. Petrify – Fossilize foes with Atlas` hardened gaze. Rumblers – Summon two elemental stone brawlers to the melee.
  • NEW QUEST: The Jordas Precept – Ordis is determined to help a fellow Cephalon overcome a ship wide Infestation, but can a Cephalon affected by Infestation be saved?
  • ARCHWING POLISH AND ADDITIONS: Take on two new game modes — Archwing Defense and Archwing Mobile Defense and explore re-worked Archwing gameplay.
  • NEW ENEMIES: Missions just got more challenging with four new enemies! Destroy new Modular Corpus, Mutalist Lightning Carriers, Mutalist Toxic Carriers and Attack Mutalists!
  • NEW WEAPONS: TEKKO – These iron fists that rip through foes with each strike are Atlas’ signature weapon. CONVECTRIX – When its twin-lasers converge on a target a circuit is created, frying the subject. SONICOR – Blasts targets with a massive wave of sonic energy.  Reported results to be: ‘very satisfying’. PHAEDRA – Devastate free-space enemies with Phaedra, the Soma’s big-sister. KASZAS – Become an angel of death with this Archwing scythe.
  • BOSS OVERHAUL: The J3 Golem has received a major overhaul since its last appearance, and can be found travelling through the dark of space on Eris, Naeglar.
  • GAME MODE EXPANSION: New Spy Missions have been added to the Grineer Underwater Sealab tileset on Uranus.
  • NEW CUSTOMIZATIONS: IGARO SYANDANA – This wing-like syandana invokes the beauty and agility of the Ceresean Butterfly Sparrow. OPULAS ROBE – An opulent display of privilege for the Corpus elite becomes a trophy for the Tenno who fight them. LANDING CRAFT SEGMENT – Allows construction of Landing Craft and Air Support Comms charges in the Foundry. AIR SUPPORT COMM: MANTIS – This insect-like landing craft featured Med-Tower air-support. MANTIS SKINS – Customize your Mantis Landing Craft with Bajada, Gloam and Oscuro Skins. GERSEMI VALKYR SKIN – Before Alad V, before the experiments, there was Gersemi Valkyr.

PC players can download The Jordas Precept Update for Warframe today. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players will receive this Update in coming weeks.


October’s PS Plus Games Revealed

Sony has announced which games will be free for PS Plus subscribers starting on October 6th. The lineup goes as follows:

Super Meat Boy, PS4, PS Vita

Broken Age, PS4, PS Vita

Unmechanical: Extended, PS4, PS3

Chariot, PS3

KickBeat, PS3, PS Vita

Kung Fu Rabbit, PS3, PS Vita

Overall this is a solid list. The highlights are Super Meat Boy, a super hard fast paced platformer, and Broken Age, Tim Schafer’s latest point an click adventure. The less widely known games include: Unmechanical: Extended. Originally releasing on the iPhone, Unmechanical: Extended follows the journey of a helicopter trapped in strange and claustrophobic world.

On the PS3, Chariot has players assuming the roles of a princess and her suitor who have to transport their fathers’ casket through an arduous journey. KickBeat on the PS3 and PS Vita, combines the worlds of rhythm games and fighting games in a unique, new style of gameplay that has yet to be emulated. Finally, Kung Fu Rabbit is a 2D platformer available on the PS3 and PS Vita.

Personally, I think this list is very good. The reason I love Playstation Plus is because it introduces me to games that I never would have considered playing. It gives me an opportunity to flex my gaming muscles and try out genres that I may not be that knowledgeable of.

The only knock I have about this list is its lack of a horror title. With Halloween right around the corner, it is likely many gamers would be looking for a horror game to give them the heebie jeebies. I do not necessarily shame Sony for not giving us a AAA title such as The Evil Within, but it would have been nice to at least have a horror option for the Halloween season.

These games go live on October 6th! Be sure to grab September’s freebies before then!

Activision issues statement about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 launch

Activision Publishing, Inc. have issued a public statement regarding the launch of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, and promises to “continue to improve the gameplay experience.”

“We are aware of the issues that players have experienced following the launch of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5,” said the publisher, “and are working with the developer to address these so that we can continue to improve the gameplay experience for all of the Tony Hawk fans who have known and loved this franchise for more than 16 year.”

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 released this week and featured a host of bugs and glitches,  which some say makes it “unplayable.”


Unfinished South Park Xbox Game Discovered


Oh my God! They killed, Kenny!

Footage has surfaced online of an original Xbox South Park game in very early pre-production. A Youtube video posted by an account named HappyConsoleGamer, revealed extensive footage of the game including: it’s combat system, open world, driving mechanics, and character models. It even showcased a split-screen multiplayer option!

It looks like the game would have been similar in scope to 2001’s Simpson’s: Road Rage. As of now, this is the only known copy of this game to be in existence. This footage can be seen below.

While the idea of an 3d, open-world South Park game on paper sounds promising, the game shown is far from finished. Textures are flat. Character models are rough. Even the ground and grass are still labeled. The video also states that the game frequently crashed.

It also looks as if this game would not have been an Xbox exclusive. While this footage is running on an original Xbox, the on-screen prompts show a triangle. Any gamer knows that while the Xbox controller does not have a triangle button, Sony’s dualshock famously does have one.

HappyConsoleGamer claims that the footage was acquired off of a Xbox developer kit purchased at a gaming convention in Portland, Oregon. This claim holds up as the dev kit previously had belonged to Buzz Monkey Software, a developer based in Eugene, Oregon. The team certainly has a pedigree, having worked on titles such as: Tomb: Raider: Underworld, Tomb Raider: Legend, and Tony Hawk: Ride, and likely would have produced a very high quality product.

It is unclear at this point what publisher has commissioned Buzz Monkey to make this game, though that would be fascinating to know. It is also unclear why this project was scrapped. It would have been interesting to see what this game could have been.


SAG AFTRA Voice Actors Threaten to Strike

SAG AFTRA has threatened to strike. The guild, which includes and represents performers of all kinds, has been renegotiating contracts with major video game companies on the treatment and payment of voice actors. These negotiations have gone on for months now, but have reached a point where SAG AFTRA members are voting to strike. The vote will require seventy five percent majority to pass, and from the support given by prominent voice actors it seems that it could very well pass.

SAG AFTRA members argue that the video game companies have been unwilling to negotiate upon various issues of work conditions and residual bonuses. The proposal has two parts which has caused such a standstill. Firstly is the issue of back-end bonuses. The proposal would have voice actors receiving bonuses based upon the sales or subscriptions to any video game they participate it, beginning when a game reaches two million sales and extending in two million increments until it reaches eight million sales.

The union argues that various other employees of major video game companies receive these bonuses. Activision’s COO received a bonus of around $4 million, and the executive chairman of EA Games took home around half that.

SAGR AFTRA has made the following statement on the issue of back-end payments:

“There is ample precedent for secondary payments across the media landscape. You get secondary payments when you perform in feature films, animation, episodic TV, commercials and the like. But that wasn’t always the case. Performers who came before you had the courage to fight for the residual payments you enjoy today, and, because they stood together, they won them.”

Secondly is the issue of working conditions. SAG AFTRA complains that the working conditions are inhospitable, demanding a change to the average work day of a voice actor, which at the moment can extend up to seven hours. They are requesting this is shortened to three hours at a time. Additionally, SAF AFTRA members desire accommodations for stunt scenes, in which they must use motion capture technology. They bring up the fact that stunt coordinators are required at movie studios, yet the video game takes no precautions during some of the more risky stunts voice actors may be forced to participate in.

Various other topics issues are brought up. Major game companies have made a statement that they want to be able to fine SAG AFTRA members up to $2,500 if they show up late, or are not “attentive to the services for which [they] have been engaged”. Companies are also asking to be able to fine the union up to $100,000 if their agents do not send them out to certain auditions.

This attitude from video game companies is the primary contributor to the strike, an unmoving position that they ‘own’ the voice actors.

Officially SAG AFTRA is on media blackout regarding the issue, however certain prominent members, including Will Wheaton from Firefly Online, Female Sheperd’s Jennifer Hale, Arkham City’s Tara Strong, and former Solid Snake voice actor David Hayter have spoken up on social media, voicing their support. Will Wheaton’s personal website argues for the strike, stating:

“I love the work that I do. I’m grateful for the work that I have, and I’ve been lucky to work with some incredibly talented people on both sides of the recording studio glass. This isn’t about making enemies of the other creative people in the business, be they directors, studio engineers, artists, programmers, sound designers, writers, etc. This is about a handful of extremely wealthy, extremely powerful people trying to take away our ability to make a living, to take care of our voices, and to be safe on the set.”

Arguments have arose online, under the hastags #PerformanceMatters and #IAmOnBoard2015.

Once again referring to Will Wheaton’s post, he has made a statement about the work conditions and the aftermath of voice acting.

“Don’t talk at all for the rest of the day, and don’t make any plans to go audition for any other voice work for the rest of the week, because your voice is wrecked. Don’t go to any kind of day job that requires you to talk with anyone, either, because you’re not going to be able to do that. Oh, and over years and years of this, it’s going to build up into serious and permanent damage … and then you’re not going to be able to work with your voice anymore.”

If the vote passes, it could mean delays in games released by major video game companies until the contract agreements are resolved. The union says they will only strike “if the short-term risk of loss-of-work is outweighed by the long-term gain of a better contract in a growing industry.” Any strike could delay games that are set to come out soon, either around the Christmas rush or the summer releases.

This strike is also notable in its capacity to extend beyond the video game industry and to other industries which utilize voice acting, including cartoons and radio, or set a precedent for those industries. Voting ends October 5th, 2015, at which point the votes of the affected members will be counted and the union will have its decision. It hopes the strike, if it takes place, will force major companies back into negotiations. When faced with the possibility of major delays it is unlikely major game companies will hold out long if such a strike occurs.


Latest Mortal Kombat X Patch Is Live On PS4

WB Games has announced a patch for Mortal Kombat X; making their already great fighter even better. This patch focuses on fixing minor things for each individual  character. Though this may not be a major face lift for the game, it will help to provide the fluid, seamless gameplay that hardcore fighting game players crave.

As of yesterday, PS4 users will be able to play the most balanced version of Mortal Kombat X to date. Xbox One and PC users will have to wait a little longer. There is no word on weather or not this update will be making its way to the last-gen port of Mortal Kombat X. The full list of changes can be read below.

  • D’Vorah (Venomous) – Adjusted the Poison Stack algorithm to prevent the top end from getting so high
  • Ermac (Spectral) – Fixed a bug in which he could get stuck in flight controls
  • Goro – Fixed a bug which was preventing Krush from having its landing location chosen
  • Goro – Slightly increased the input window to meterburn PunchWalk on hit
  • Jacqui (Full Auto) – Decreased the block advantage on Up Rocket by 5 and slightly increased the pushback preventing a block trap
  • Jax – Adjusted Carl Weather skin hurt regions to better match the others
  • Johnny Cage – Ultra Flipkick now uses the correct damage value from hotfix data (12)
  • Kano (CutThroat) – Adjusted the armor frames of Charge Up to compensate for the faster startup
  • Predator – Fixed a bug which allowed Predator to sometimes have 2 Smart-Disc on screen at the same time
  • Predator (Hish-Qu-Tien) – Fixed a bug which was making it so Plasma Shot was ignoring some damage scaling
  • Quan Chi (Sorcerer) – Fixed a bug which allowed him to reset the cooldown of runes after a Final Hex has run out
  • Quan Chi (Sorcerer) – Reverted the temporary change of Final Hex block damage increase (back to 3x)
  • Reptile – Turned off the ability to 2in1 special cancel into Floating Ball
  • Reptile (Deceptive) – Added a short cooldown after Invisibility to prevent players from spending multiple bars of meter if executed very fast
  • Reptile – Lowered the input priority of Floating Ball
  • Shinnok – Away+FK now auto-faces correctly
  • Takeda – Reduced the cancel advantage from Towards+FP,BP,BP+BK by 1 preventing a block trap
  • Takeda – Fixed a bug which would cause the reaction to Tri Kunai to sometimes play in the wrong direction
  • Takeda (Ronin) – Reduced the block cancel advantage of Away+BP,FP,BP+BK by 3 preventing a block trap
  • Takeda (Ronin) – Kool Whip Brutatlity when in Ronin should work more consistently now.
  • Tanya (Pyromancer) – Fixed a bug which was applying the Dark Shroud & Devil’s Dust damage to her throws and other misc damage
  • Tanya (Pyromancer) – Reverted the temporary change of the Dark Shroud & Devil’s Dust damage (back to 10)
  • Tanya (Pyromancer) – Dark Shroud & Devil’s Dust now use the correct lifetime value from hotfix data (7 seconds)
  • Tremor – Some variation specific moves now have corrected values in the movelist