Panels & Pixels
Fri 18 Oct 2019
1:51 PM

Fortnite, Realm Reborn, and starting over

All the craziness of Fortnite’s black hole last weekend got me thinking. Epic took the most popular game in the world offline for roughly 36 hours because they could. But what if they had to?

First, a little background on what exactly happened to Fortnite:

The season [10] culminated when the Visitor, a mysterious being that arrived with the meteor, launched a rocket that created numerous rifts, from which came smaller rockets which were controlled by The Seven” that struck all across the island, creating a black hole and consuming the entire game itself. Subsequent to this event, the game was unplayable for about 36 hours with the game’s screens only showing the black hole. (#)

To have so much confidence in your game that you can literally take it down for an extended period of time is pretty incredible. It reminds me — for the complete opposite reason — of what happened with SquareEnix and the original Final Fantasy XIV before they released Realm Reborn back in 2013:

The game, known as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, is a replacement for the 2010 version of Final Fantasy XIV, which was shut down after negative reception at its launch. Final Fantasy XIV takes place in the fictional land of Eorzea, five years after the events of the original release. At the conclusion of the original game, the primal dragon Bahamut escapes from its lunar prison to initiate the Seventh Umbral Calamity, an apocalyptic event which destroys much of Eorzea. Through the gods’ blessing, the player character escapes the devastation by time traveling five years into the future. (#)

On a side note, in some ways, the success Realm Reborn has seen since relaunching mirrors what creator Hironobu Sakaguchi dealt with during the release of the original Final Fantasy. The game was essentially his hail mary” play during a period of uncertainty around his future. It was literally intended to be his final game until it because wildly successful and evolved over the years into one of the most popular, financially successful series of all-time.

In the case of Realm Reborn, they took a terrible situation and did what few studios would be able to do: shut the failing game down, rebuild it from the ground up, and make that process part of the lore. As a result, the game exploded in popularity and remains a fixture in the MMO space to this day. In a similar way — but under a completely different circumstances — Epic did the same thing during their update from version 10 to 11 not because they felt they had to but because they could.

Thu 10 Oct 2019
6:34 PM

Kamala Khan is the main character of the Square Enix Marvel’s Avengers game

Kamala Khan in Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers gameKamala Khan in Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers game

Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers has a main character, and her name is Kamala Khan. That’s right, Ms. Marvel will take it upon herself to bring the Avengers back together again after Captain America’s death.

This is a solid trailer. We’ve got new story details and a look at Kamala in action, who looks like she’ll be a ton of fun to play as. This should also clear up the misunderstanding MCU fans have that this game has anything to do with the Marvel movies, which has always confused me.

Thu 26 Sep 2019
2:05 PM

Thoughts on Twitch’s new look

Twitch’s previous logo on the left, new logo on the rightTwitch’s previous logo on the left, new logo on the right

The subtle adjustments to the glitch logo is fine and I actually like the updated logomark looks better than the original, which — as someone who really liked the old logo — I never thought I’d say. The larger radius on the button corners and circular pills for tags are a nice touch that I feel modernizes the look. I also really like the new typeface (Roobert) but I think they’ll need to make some adjustments to weights (ie: the sidebar followed channels” etc) throughout the site.

The new purple is nice, particularly in the dark version of the website, but I’ll miss the previous one. It would be nice to see them use a combination of the two. Speaking of dark mode, while the dark palette of the site looks fine, the light version feels… off. Maybe too much white space? Weird contrast with the shading of the sidebar? I can’t quite put my finger on it but something about it doesn’t gel like the previous version did. That said, I almost exclusively use the dark version so it’s not something I’ll encounter on a daily basis.

I know they’ve already said this is only the beginning of the work they’re doing but I really wish they would have also done some work on the user experience of the Twitch website. The navigation is still cluttered, items are hidden, the dashboard is still all over the place, panels are a nightmare to organize and display effectively, discoverability of channels still isn’t very good, etc.

Overall, I’m into the new look. Next, I’d like to see them tackle the UX issues.

Thu 26 Sep 2019
1:21 PM

River City Conventions shutting down

Central Canada Comic Con (Facebook):

River City Conventions after 25 years will be closing its doors permanently. There will be no future events planned for 2020 or the future.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the convention but I’m still sad to see it shut down. I had some great experiences there many years ago. Why they couldn’t have simply scaled back the event and put it on in a different place is beyond me.

While the organizers were quick to blame the venue and sponsors for their troubles in their previous update, this now makes me think they’re withholding details to avoid damaging their reputation with their biggest supporters.

GalaxyCon Minneapolis is in November and the guest list looks fantastic.

Wed 18 Sep 2019
9:51 PM

Pocket Casts changes offer for longtime users following backlash

Pocket Casts:

We made some pretty big changes this week, and we’ve heard your feedback loud and clear. Although we intended to demonstrate our appreciation to our most loyal users, we know many of you feel we missed the mark. With that in mind, today we’ve decided to provide any user who previously purchased our Web version with lifetime access to Pocket Casts Plus.

One would assume — as I did — that the three years offered to longtime users would be more than enough to make people happy. Apparently not, since a handful of more vocal users complained enough to get the company to instead offer lifetime access to Pocket Casts for people who paid the one-time fee of $9 for the web player before Plus was released yesterday.

I can’t believe people not only felt entitled enough to more than the originally offered three years but also that they wouldn’t be comfortable paying the more than affordable annual fee of $10 (after three years) to support an app they’ve clearly gotten so much use out of.

As an aside, I’m calling bullshit on the they said we’d only have to pay once four years ago” argument. Pocket Casts is hardly what it was three or four years ago and I’d argue there’s been more than enough updates to essentially make it an entirely new app or service.

I saw a great reply to this news on Twitter by @zatara214:

Please support good developers and don’t complain when they ask you to pay for new things. This is really cool of Pocket Casts to do, but it also wasn’t entirely necessary.

Nuff said.

Mon 16 Sep 2019
12:08 PM

A really fun” and surprisingly excellent” experience for $5/month

Apple Arcade will officially launch later this week, when iOS 13 is released to the public on September 19th. Ahead of that, the early hands-on and reviews of Apple Arcade are in — and they’re overwhelmingly positive.

I’ve been looking forward to Apple Arcade since the announcement. I’m happy to hear it’s reviewing well with the people who’ve gotten a look at it before the release on the 19th.

Wed 11 Sep 2019
10:56 AM

Control roadmap teases Alan Wake tie-in

Control’s content roadmapControl’s content roadmap

While the first Foundation related expansion will undoubtedly be awesome, it’s the second expansion — titled AWE and featuring a silhouette that looks very familiar — that I’m really excited for.

This could be as close to an Alan Wake sequel as we’ll ever get.

Tue 10 Sep 2019
2:23 PM

Apple Watch versus the competition

It’s almost unfair how far ahead Apple is in comparison to other smartwatches. I never thought we’d reach a point where someone like Google or Fitbit literally can’t catch up but… here we are.

Mon 9 Sep 2019
10:19 AM

Extra Life North Wrap-upExtra Life North Wrap-up

Extra Life North raised $55k~ (on a goal of $50k) for the Children’s Miracle Network and the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. I’m so thankful for everyone who contributed and proud of our whole team for getting through the 24 hour stream.

Sat 7 Sep 2019
8:36 AM

Extra Life North

Starting today and running through the weekend, I’ll be working/playing alongside my co-workers as we try to raise fund for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba and the Children’s Miracle Network. If you’ve got a chance, please consider making a donation to either myself or someone else on our team so we can hit our goal of $50,000.

If you’d like to follow along with the action throughout the weekend, we’ll be streaming the event via Mixer and Twitch with a program full of couch gaming, contests, interviews and much more. I encourage you to swing by and drop some words of support in the chat if you’re able to.

Mon 2 Sep 2019
1:29 AM

Moon Knight Series Confirmed For Disney+

Though the details are slim, Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios confirmed at D23 that Moon Knight is getting his own series. That announcement came with announcements for Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk series’ as well.

I’m so excited to see what comes of this. I’d love to see them base the series on one of the recent comic book arcs like Brian Michael Bendis or Jeff Lemire’s runs on the character.

Fri 30 Aug 2019
11:19 AM

Catherine: Full Body offers a more complete experience than the original game

Aimee Hart for Polygon:

Catherine developer Atlus has stretched and edited the game into Catherine: Full Body, an updated version for the PlayStation 4 that now features 13 endings, new levels, new music, another love interest, and a whole lot more … while still feeling familiar and comfortable to existing fans. New players will simply benefit from a game that’s much fuller and better realized than the original release.

This is another 2019 release that totally slipped under the radar for me. The original Catherine is one of my favorites so I know for sure I’ll be picking up Full Body. When I originally played the game, I saw a couple of the endings to the game but now — knowing there are potentially 13 different ways to finish it — I can see spending even more time with it this time around.

Wed 28 Aug 2019
9:21 AM

Telltale Games is back

Colin Campbell for Polygon:

Telltale Games, which shut down last year, is coming back after its assets were purchased by a company called LCG Entertainment. The new company will sell some of Telltale’s back catalog and will work on new games based on a few Telltale-associated properties, as well as new licenses.

This is such good news. This studio shutting down was such a sudden, massive loss for not only the people that worked there but for the fans of all their games.

I never thought I’d say this but it seems like we’ll be getting a third Batman game after all.

Tue 27 Aug 2019
10:23 PM

Control is crazy cool, like Fringe meets Quantum Break. It’s got everything you’d expect from a game by Remedy and a couple new surprises along the way. Though I’m not super deep into it yet, I still highly recommend giving it a look.

Thu 22 Aug 2019
9:34 AM

Android 10’s new look

Abner Li for 9to5Google:

Google is using this year’s release to significantly update the operating system’s brand and naming scheme.

Moving forward, Android” will just be followed by a version number. This tradition of naming major releases with desserts dates back to Android 1.6 Cupcake in 2009.


Like the Android 10 naming change, the primary goal of this new look is accessibility. It starts with something as fundamental as color, with the android” wordmark — which has been slimmed down with a tweaked font — now in black. The previous green was hard to see for those with visual impairments.

While I totally understand the decision to move away from the dessert names for the sake of clarity, I’ll definitely miss them. One of my favourite parts about Android was how playful the whole idea of the version names were, and how Google would include an easter egg that often played off whatever treat they chose for that particular version.

I love the refreshed look of the Android logo, the new green (accessibility!) for the mascot and the new guidelines for placement of the logomark in relation to the type, etc. I think this new look blends well with that Google’s been doing to refresh their own brand, Material Design, and the like.

Sun 18 Aug 2019
9:00 AM

Ghost-Spider #1 swings into Earth-616

I haven’t kept up with Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider since shortly after her debut because I wasn’t overly interested in alternate universe stories and the art—while great—wasn’t really my favourite.

However, when I found out that not only was Gwen paying an extended visit to the main Marvel Universe but that Takeshi Miyazawa (one of my favourite artists from back in the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane days) would be continuing to draw the book, I started paying attention again.

It’ll be fun to catch up on everything I’ve been missed.