Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a 2018 interactive film based around viewer choice, has been in a legal battle with Chooseco LLC since late 2019 over the use of the term “choose your own adventure”. The term is technically owned by Chooseco, and used as the title for their series of interactive novels; this lawsuit, and others like it, have sprung from the use of the term to describe a whole genre, and in this case the issue was with a specific line of dialog in the film that contained the phrase “choose your own adventure”.
Chooseco LLC was demanding $25 million in damages, but it’s unknown whether this is the figure Netflix ultimately had to pay.
One of the conditions of the settlement, interestingly, was that the judge’s decision to deny dismissal had to be vacated for both parties to reach an agreement, which Judge William Sessions III agreed to.
It seems that Chooseco LLC has maintained the rights to the phrase “choose your own adventure,” and remains within its rights to sue over its usage.
Bandersnatch was a big success for Netflix, and even won the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie.
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The next season of Fall Guys‘ content is on its way soon. Season 3 is going to called Winter Knockout and will include more mini-games and costumes than Season 2. The new season is scheduled to launch in the second week of December.
The official Fall Guys Twitter account used another quirky little trick to reveal the news. The studio sent 300 pieces of an official promo image to 300 Twitter users and tasked them with putting the image together. Fans were quick to hop on Discord to finish the puzzle.
Fall Guys’ second season launched in October, but only included four news games alongside a new battle pass. Fans were disappointed after the game initially launched with over twenty games. Season 3, which looks to include a new mini-game where you jump through a spinning circle filled with holes, will have more games, according to Mediatonic. Snowmen, penguin, and a grinch-like costumes are featured in the teaser art as unlockable skins for Season 3.
Fall Guys is currently on sale on Steam for Valve’s winter sale right now. You can pick it up and check out a number of the other Black Friday 2020 deals we’ve highlighted over the past week.
Lord of the Rings actor Sean Astin has recalled a “brutal” conversation he had with director Peter Jackson while shooting one scene in particular in the fantasy trilogy. Speaking to CinemaBlend, Astin said Jackson delivered a “Mortal Kombat death blow” to him in one scene when he just wasn’t getting it right.
This was a particularly impactful and significant moment for him, Astin said, because Jackson is known for being stoic and quiet on set.
“On a day-to-day basis, Peter Jackson is basically like a quiet guy. He sort of lets the work do the talking, and his direction was always very minimal. Mostly his direction would be, ‘Let’s do it again.’ … But he came up to me at one point and he looked at me and he said, ‘I just didn’t believe that,'” Astin said. Oh my God, he might as well have–it was like a Mortal Kombat death blow. It was like he ripped my hair off of my body, and my spine came out with. … [But] it was, it was true. It was true that I was not invested, that I was out of it. I was out of the character. I was out of the mood. I was out of… I just wasn’t there.”
Astin didn’t share any specifics on the scene in question, but Cinema Blend suggested it might have been for a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring.
While it might have been difficult to get this criticism from Jackson, the director was right to give it to Astin, the actor said.
“It was brutal. And he didn’t mean it to be brutal. He meant it to land. He didn’t mean for it to be brutal, but it was a perfect piece of direction,” he said. “And he was absolutely right. And it made me be better. It made me focus harder.”
My six-player Destiny 2 fireteam fired away as the Deep Stone Crypt raid boss, the toughest enemy of the Beyond Light expansion, teleported around the arena and roared with rage. We threw everything we had left at the flying monster in a desperate attempt to stave off defeat. Bullets and grenades filled the air as chunks of orbital debris slammed down onto the landscape, threatening to crush us as we scrambled for cover. It was now or never–if we didn’t manage to kill this thing immediately, it would kill us, and we’d be back to the start of the lengthy fight. And we’d sunk more than 12 hours into the raid over the past two days already.
But then: an explosion. The boss twisted in pain and a cheer went up from our crew. Finally, we’d bested the greatest challenge of the new expansion, after hours of struggling to work out the mechanics and suffering death after death to its powerful enemies. It’s moments like this one that keep me coming back to Destiny 2. There’s nothing quite like powering through a Destiny raid, relying on teammates to handle complex roles and cooperate through some of the game’s most creative designs.
Beyond Light provides more of what Destiny 2 is good at: satisfying first-person shooting, a great raid, fascinating places to explore, and a whole lot of punchy guns to try out. It also maintains some of the game’s lingering problems though, like a reliance on repetitive content and time-sucking grinds to arbitrarily raise numbers. To put it simply, Beyond Light is largely more Destiny–if that’s a thing you like, you’ll enjoy it, and if it’s a thing you complain about, you probably won’t.
But the last two years have seen Bungie making changes to Destiny 2, both large and incremental, that are improving the game, deepening its world, and expanding its experiences. Beyond Light is perhaps the best-told, most fleshed-out story developer Bungie has yet put forth in its game. The focus is on characters who have feelings and motivations, whether they’re heroes or villains, which allows them to grow beyond just a collection of voices on the radio yelling at you to go shoot another world-threatening alien. And new additions to the game, like a host of freezing abilities called Stasis, change up gameplay and combat strategies in fun and unexpected ways.
The new expansion takes you to Europa, one of Jupiter’s frozen moons, to uncover secrets about the latest threat invading the solar system. This is a godlike alien force colloquially known as the Darkness, carried on pyramid-shaped ships and collected in angular, metamorphic black artifacts. For the last few seasons of Destiny 2, we’ve been puzzling out what the Darkness has in store for us–while it has invaded (and, lately, vanished) entire celestial bodies like Mars and Mercury, it hasn’t attacked. Instead, the Darkness is offering seductive power. It doesn’t want to kill the superheroic Guardians that players embody–it wants to own them.
Much of the story of Beyond Light concerns characters figuring out how to harness the powers offered by the Darkness in order to combat it. The immediate issue is that Eramis, a member of the alien race known as the Fallen, has gotten hold of Stasis, the Darkness’s power, and is raising an army to wield it. Taking her out is the concern of the first few hours of the story campaign, but that’s mostly a vehicle to getting Stasis into your hands so you can run amok with it.
Stasis is the real star of Beyond Light, offering a new brand of abilities that require a big rethink of combat strategies. The powers of Stasis debuff enemies, doing things like slowing them down, freezing them solid, or walling them off behind giant ice crystals. Where most abilities and supers in Destiny 2 are dedicated either to doing direct damage to enemies or providing healing to teammates, Stasis adds capabilities for controlling the battlefield, changing the landscape, and altering the odds.
These powers are a nice refresher for Guardian capabilities, since we haven’t seen new subclasses since September 2018’s Forsaken expansion. They feel significantly different from everything else already available, pushing you to figure out how to best use them against enemies and develop creative solutions to avoid getting frozen and shattered into tiny pieces by opponents. As Stasis becomes a more regular part of Destiny 2, it’s easy to imagine ways it can be paired with existing abilities and weapons to pave the way for a whole new set of tactics. Stasis also comes with a bunch of customizations you can earn as you play, amping up the effectiveness of some elements of your new capabilities while exacting tolls like drops in character stats. Destiny 2 has come a long way in pushing you to think about how to spec out your characters, and Stasis deepens that system with additional satisfying choices that let you tune your playstyle for specific situations and requirements.
However, much of Beyond Light is Destiny as usual. The quest to get your new Stasis powers, for instance, largely consists of the usual “go here and shoot x number of this baddie” grind. There also continues to be a heavy reliance on bounties, which require completing minor objectives that are mostly about racking up kills with specific weapons or abilities, and which can be a boring slog to get through, especially as you’re battling to unlock the cool new Stasis customization elements.
But while some of the gameplay can be predictable, Europa is an impressive new offering. It’s a big location with varied environments to explore, including frozen wastes, ravaged ruins, a Fallen city, and huge sci-fi facilities. The destination adds dynamic weather for the first time, and while it’s not a drastic change, a blizzard whipping up in the middle of a firefight to kill visibility forces you to change how you play just enough to give Europa a dangerous and shifting feel.
Bungie mixes in its trademark gorgeous vistas with lots of little crevices to plumb for mysteries, but what makes the new landscape stand out is that so much of Europa feels like the tip of a much larger story iceberg. In the first two weeks of the expansion, portions of that iceberg have been steadily uncovered. The new Europa Strike isn’t just about finding and killing a big enemy; it expands the story both of Eramis in the present as she uses an alien portal for her own ends as well as the shadowy human industrialist, Clovis Bray, who built that portal centuries earlier. Venturing into the depths of the Braytech Exoscience facility doesn’t just give you another venue for gunfights; it reveals the circumstances that created one of Destiny 2’s player races, the robotic Exos, and fills in their story as a tragic, lost people.
Bungie has also gone much further in developing the story you uncover along the way through the expansion. The battle against Eramis is mixed up with Variks, an old Destiny 1 character who has been absent outside of lore text since Destiny 2’s release, and deals with the two characters’ disagreement on how best to serve and protect the scattered Fallen race. Finding and harnessing Stasis expands the story of the Exo Stranger, another Destiny 1 character, and finally sheds light on a bunch of questions that have lingered since the confusing and haphazard Destiny 1 campaign. This expansion tells a coherent story that’s grounded in interactions between characters you’ve spent time with over the years, while reaching into the lore in smart ways to build on the huge Destiny world. You don’t have to have read a ton of lore to understand what’s going on in Beyond Light, but the storytelling will make you want to do so, and reward you with additional nuance for the investment.
We’ve also seen a little bit of new content for the ongoing Season of the Hunt, which shores up the drip-feed nature of the season pass model with some serious story relevance. The season centers on Uldren Sov, one of the major antagonists of the Forsaken expansion–he’s the guy players hunted down to exact revenge on for the murder of Cayde-6, one of Destiny’s biggest personalities. Uldren has been revived as a Guardian, losing the memories of his past life in the process. He sends you on hunts to take down a variety of bosses to earn specific perk and stat rolls on gear, and those activities are brief but engaging diversions that don’t carry the same frustrations (like relying on other, random players) as past short-lived seasonal activities.
While this season, like others, will mostly consist of replaying the same few activities to chase various guns and armor, the simmering conflict of working closely with a guy your character executed makes the Season of the Hunt feel like it’s burgeoning with possibilities. Recent seasons have felt as if they didn’t have been a bit lacking in feeling like they really matter, outside some brief flashes, beyond providing large chunks of busywork, but the character implications of the Season of the Hunt already provide as big a draw to that content as the endless loot chase.
Even after six years, there are still growing pains with Beyond Light and Destiny 2 at large. Bungie has removed a huge swathe of content from Destiny 2 with the expansion, whittling down the number of destinations and activities by “vaulting” them, with a possibility that they could be re-released at some unknown point in the future. Europa’s a big place, but it’s true that there’s altogether less of Destiny 2 today than there was a year ago. That’s not necessarily wholly bad–the game was getting unwieldy, big chunks of it were barely visited by players, and just because you could unlock and use hundreds of guns didn’t mean they were all worth the effort. But for a game that is both built on and hampered by repetition, less content means less variety, and that means things can get stale all the quicker.
Destiny 2 has always felt like it’s being actively molded into the game Bungie envisions, advancing toward a perfect version in the future without ever quite getting there. The last year saw Bungie trying a new approach to worldbuilding, storytelling, and maintaining player engagement with seasonal content, but seasons felt a bit haphazard and unconnected, often spinning their wheels with limited-time diversions while hinting at something better down the line. Beyond Light comes closer to that vision, but it’s a step forward, not a leap. Destiny 2 still struggles with the same cyclical, repetitious core of completing busywork grinds to reach the content you actually want to play, and in some ways, Beyond Light also feels like it’s gesturing at a future point when Destiny 2 will finally become the game it’s always tried to be.
It might be somewhat smaller and more streamlined, but this is also the most alive Destiny 2 has felt, at least since the best days of the Forsaken expansion, and maybe ever. This is the closest we’ve ever been to its story, characters, and lore, and the most we’ve ever seen characters interacting with each other in meaningful ways. Already, we’ve uncovered a bunch of deep-cut, fascinating story beats about characters who have persisted in Destiny since its beginnings. The Deep Stone Crypt raid was an exciting, intense, and inventive challenge, and completing it altered Europa in some significant ways. It not only feels like Guardians are influencing the world of Destiny 2 right now, but because of the constant story underpinning of the dangers of wielding Darkness, that the world is influencing us back.
Beyond Light might not be the biggest expansion, but it does feel like we’ve entered a new chapter in the game’s life, with new priorities and an approach that makes the game more resonant in a way that goes beyond satisfying shooting. On the whole, Destiny 2 might be more of the same than it is different, but what’s the same about it–like its phenomenal raids and tight, satisfying gameplay–is still largely pretty great, and what’s different is mostly making the game all the more worthwhile.
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Black Friday 2020 is here, and Destiny developer Bungie is getting in on the action with its own store sale. Starting November 27 at 10 AM PT, the Bungie Store will offer discounts of up to 60 percent off a range of products, including the Destiny 2 expansions.
Additionally, everyone who spends $50 USD or more will receive a special art print at no extra cost. It appears at least some of the deals have kicked off early, as the Bungie Store currently displays a range of products that are nicely discounted, including t-shirts, jewellery, and a holiday bundle that comes with Destiny-themed stockings, tree ornaments, and more.
Go to Bungie’s website to see a full rundown of the developer’s Black Friday sale. The sale period runs until December 4 at 10 AM PT.
In addition to discounts on physical goodies from Bungie, the developer is offering deals on Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, Destiny 2: Forsaken, and Destiny 2: Legendary Edition, allowing you to get the expansions for up to 50% off. Visit your preferred store to see the full rundown of the Black Friday deals.
One of the big challenges when designing a game based largely around realistic sword combat is finding the right balance so that attacks feel powerful without combat relying on one-hit kills (unless you take the Bushido Blade path). When designing PS4 exclusive Ghost of Tsushima, Sucker Punch Productions had to find the right balance, and now the game’s senior combat designer has provided a deep dive into what their process looked like.
In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Theodore Fishman has delved into some of the issues they faced while designing the game’s combat. A term he uses throughout is “lethality contract”–the player’s understanding that if they cut an enemy with a sharp blade, they’ll likely die. While it’s possible to make silent kills and standoffs instantly lethal, getting the balance on standard combat was difficult.
“When we did our early playtests we received very negative feedback that enemies felt like ‘sword sponges,'” Fishman recalls. “My favorite quote from players was ‘I felt like I was hitting enemies with a foam bat.'” Giving the enemy a form of hitpoints wasn’t working, so the team ended up integrating a “maximum hits to kill” system, whereby no standard enemy could withstand endless attacks.
The balance needed to account for weaker enemies still being enjoyable to fight, though–if “low HP” enemies died in one hit, it would not be satisfying. “We had to increase difficulty across other aspects without breaking our ‘lethality contract’ with the player,” Fishman says.
The staggering system became important, he says, because the initial system of parries and counter-parries made fighting too reactionary. “The time it took to stagger an enemy was the time other enemies could strike, and was a core aspect of how we injected enemy variety,” he writes. The “Stance” system also helped to incentivize varied combat, as switching styles let you stagger faster.
However, the rules had to be bent for duels and boss fights. “Though the Samurai cinema trope is two swordsmen facing off and the first strike kills, we knew players would have different expectations,” Fishman says. “These were boss fights with high challenge and intensity. We had to bend the contract and honor this moment.”
Fishman goes into more detail, and if you’re interested, the full post is worth a look.
In any case, all the hard work paid off, and Ghost of Tsushima ultimately became PlayStation’s fastest-selling original IP. The developer now seems to be gearing up for a sequel or continuation.
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Famous actor Ed Asner is organizing a celebrity table read for the iconic holiday movie It’s A Wonderful Life, and the cast is headlined by Pete Davidson portraying Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey.
Maude Apatow will play Violet Bick, who was originally played by Gloria Grahame in the 1946 movie. The rest of the big-name cast includes Ellie Kemper, Mia Farrow, Carol Kane, Ed Begley Jr., Bill Pullman, Richard Kind, B.D. Wong, Michael Shannon, and Diedrich Bader.
The virtual table read will take place on Sunday, December 13, starting at 5 PM PT. All proceeds from the charity event will go to the Ed Asner Family Center, which is a group that raises money for children with special needs and their families.
Regarded as one of the best movies of all time in some circles, It’s a Wonderful Life earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, though it did not win any. It was the first movie that Stewart starred in after returning from fighting in World War II.
Walmart’s full Black Friday sale features some of the hottest deals and savings we’ve seen this holiday shopping season. The sale is live now through November 29. The sale also brought a new wave of PS5 and Xbox Series X stock, which went live at 9 PM ET before selling out almost immediately. If you’re a Nintendo Switch owner, Walmart’s Black Friday sale is the best place to shop for select exclusives, as games like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Luigi’s Mansion 3 are discounted to just $30. We’ve rounded up the best deals in Walmart’s Black Friday 2020 sale below. Like many other retailers, Walmart is prioritizing online shopping this year due to COVID-19. Walmart’s deals are only available online at the moment, with in store deals kicking off this Friday–Walmart stores are closed on Thanksgiving this year.