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By 14 November 2021
Imagine if Left 4 Dead’s AI director was designed to vibe.
Halfway through my demo session with The Anacrusis, the upcoming co-op sci-fi shooter from Stray Bombay, things had devolved into chaos. But it was a magical kind of chaos. Our progress down the concourse of a massive derelict starship had been interrupted by a brief musical sting, then the distant shrieks of an oncoming horde. It was the trigger for a Pavlovian thrill response etched into my brain through hundreds of hours of Left 4 Dead.
Which was fitting, as somewhere off to my left was Chet Faliszek, one of the leads on Left 4 Dead during his time at Valve, now co-founder of Stray Bombay. Faliszek was busy frying swaths of alien-possessed crewmembers with chain lightning from an arc rifle he’d found.
There was a brief yelp over voice chat as I watched Dorian Gorski, a Stray Bombay level designer with an admirable talent for attracting alien attention, zip across my field of vision, gripped once again in the bioluminescent clutches of a grabber’s tentacles. I started carving a path towards him, flinging back clusters of common enemies with radial kinetic bursts from my pulse ability and popping heads with my plasma rifle. Then something bellowed over the fray, and barrelling through the horde like a Kool-Aid Man through a castle of flesh came a crimson mass of clawed alien muscle. And then another one.
“Oh, a double brute,” said Will Smith, communications and general internet presence for Stray Bombay, who responded to the assault by casually igniting the area (myself included) with an incendiary grenade. “The director has decided we’re a good team,” he said as I burned.
In the hour and a half I spent with the devs of The Anacrusis, our conversation always drifted back to their AI director 2.0, the successor to the director from Left 4 Dead, and the philosophy motivating its design. Stray Bombay hopes to recapture a magic that’s harder to find these days, when so many cooperative games feel more like playing in parallel than playing together.
The Anacrusis comes from a firm belief that, beyond the zombie-shooting, what made Left 4 Dead special was the space it created to hang out with your friends. That magic, Faliszek says, is due to the director and the ebb-and-flow it created—so much so that the very first line of code written for The Anacrusis was for the director 2.0.
Where the original director was mostly responsible for plotting out enemy spawn points, the director 2.0 is actively considering you and your teammates, building a model of how you perform, both individually and together. As you progress through an episode (think a Left 4 Dead campaign), it’ll use that evolving model to generate a unique set of combat encounters tuned to how you’re playing together.
“The game is extraordinarily different every time,” Smith said. “The ebb and flow of a level, where fights happen, where and what kinds of equipment are distributed. Very little is scripted. It’s almost all based on how the director feels that you and your team are doing.”
I managed to catch some of the specifics the director is tabulating: levels of friendly fire, number of headshots, ratio of damage dealt to damage taken. Beyond that, the devs kept my understanding pretty abstract to maintain a level of mystery. They enthused about the architecting work by software engineer Amy Ackermann, and were invested in giving the director as many tools as possible to incentivize and disrupt different kinds of player behavior.
By handling the placement of perk-distributing Matter Compiler stations, for example, the director has a great tool to goad players into poking around the map. By deploying a gooper to trap a player in a coagulating glob their friends have to shoot off, the director can encourage some additional cooperation.
As an aside, the gooper also gives player-characters an opportunity for what seemed like one of their favorite pastimes: yelling about goo. I can’t confirm if that’s involved in the director’s calculations, but when I noted I’d never heard the word “goo” so much in a game, Smith told me “the goo-ing is an integral part.” Make of that what you will.
Whatever the arcane workings behind its magic, the experience the director created—in my play session, at least—was a kind of fun I’d been missing. When a horde started spilling in, the challenge never dipped into hopelessness. It was frantic, but refreshing. The intensity doesn’t feel insurmountable. It might demand you all rally to blast apart some goo, or make space with a shield grenade to revive a fallen friend, but you can feel that you’re right on the line of survival. You just have to earn it.
Crucially, when the smoke clears, the director knows to hold back. It respects the time between onslaughts. It gives room to breathe, to have a conversation with your friends while you’re combing the smooth-edged hallways of a retro sci-fi spaceship and taking pot shots at pockets of basic enemies. And there are no complicating layers of min-maxing, loot chasing, or whatever else to prevent it being purely cooperative.
Toward the end of my session, as he was hunting a spawner—one of the more obnoxious special enemies—Faliszek told me about the long process of tuning the director 2.0, and a moment when the pieces started falling into place. “We had a playtester say the greatest line. ‘Sure, we made it through. But a lesser team wouldn’t have.’ That’s what we want every team, good or bad, to feel: that they’re at the cusp of skill.” In Left 4 Dead, he told me, player data showed more people played on easy than on hard. “They just want to have a shared experience with their friends. Our game’s not really about difficulty. It’s about intensity.”
While Stray Bombay hasn’t confirmed a release date for The Anacrusis, we apparently won’t have to wait long for that announcement. In Smith’s words, the team is “very close to doing that. It’s coming soon.”
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Sony's wild new PS5 controller concept could be a game-changer – Creative Bloq
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By published 17 January 22
It’s fair to say we weren’t enamoured with the design of Sony’s DualSense controller when it was revealed last year. Like the PS5 itself, the controller is somewhat, er, chonky – but it seems Sony is already working on slimmer design concepts.
A new patent filing reveals the company is working on a new controller design featuring a collapsible control stick. This means the joystick could retract into the body of the controller itself, allowing for a more svelte (and potentially more comfortable) design. And while it might just be a patent, at this rate it might well arrive before the next PS5 restock.
The patent filing itself offers little in the way of information about how the controller will work, simply describing: “A controller, thumbstick, or system comprising a thumbstick body, a thumbstick shaft coupled to the thumbstick body wherein the thumbstick shaft is configured to retract into the thumbstick body and wherein the thumbstick body and the thumbstick shaft is freely rotatable together around a pivot centre within the controller body.” (You know when you read a word so many times that it loses all meaning? Yeah, thumbstick.)
But it seems the concept is all about comfort. “Analog nubs are portable but also very uncomfortable for the user,” Sony says in the filing. “The user moves the flat surface or rough area with pressure from their thumb. This can become quite uncomfortable after a while because the required friction between the user’s thumb and the surface.”
As with all patents, whether this design will ever see the light of day remains to be seen, but it’s certainly intriguing – and we can’t help but wonder if it’s offering us a glimpse of the next generation of DualSense. If a PS5 ‘Slim’ ever makes it to market (hey, every PlayStation generation has had one), perhaps it’ll arrive complete with a redesigned controller?
Indeed, a collapsible thumbstick could potentially transform the feel of the controller for gamers, offering a much more personalised and therefore comfortable experience. And it could do wonders for storage too – perhaps we’ll even end up with some kind of ‘DualSense Slim’ charging case. And we’re sure it could look pretty cool – better than that horrendous McDonald’s DualSense concept anyway.
It seems Sony is finally ready to give gamers more options when it comes to the look of the PS5. From those new coloured faceplates to rumours of a console redesign, the days of being restricted to Sony’s reverse-oreo (sorry, white-on-black) design are coming to an end. And perhaps in the near future, we’ll have a brand new controller to enjoy too. Want to start gaming right now? Check out today’s best games console deals below.
Daniel Piper is senior news editor at Creative Bloq, and an authority on all things art, design, branding and tech. He has a particular penchant for Apple products – some corners of the internet might call him an ‘iSheep’, but he’s fine with this. It doesn’t bother him at all. Why would it? They’re just really nicely designed products, okay? Daniel is also a comedian and national poetry slam champion, and his favourite Bond is, obviously, Sean Connery.
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Rainbow Six Extraction: Is It PS5 & Xbox Series X Enhanced? Answered – Twinfinite
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In Ubisoft‘s latest tactical first-person shooter, Rainbow Six Extraction, you’ll be spending a lot of your time gunning down waves of parasitic alien critters known as the Archaeans. On the whole, all the moment-to-moment action is pretty damn slick visually, but what if you’re playing on next-gen consoles? In this guide, we’ll answer the all-important question: Is Rainbow Six Extraction enhanced on PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles? Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Thankfully, the short answer is: Yes, Rainbow Six Extraction is indeed enhanced on PS5 and Xbox Series X. Those playing on next-gen consoles can look forward to a 4K resolution boost and 60 frames-per-second gameplay.
For comparison’s sake, those playing on PS4 and Xbox One, you’ll be limited to just a 1080p resolution and 30 frames-per-second, which is understandable.
Unfortunately, for those wondering if Rainbow Six Extraction will support 120 frames-per-second on high-refresh-rate TVs, we’ve got some bad news for you. At the time of writing, there’s currently no support for 120fps for Rainbow Six Extraction on consoles.
It could be possible that Ubisoft deploys a patch allowing high-refresh-rate support for Rainbow Six Extraction in the future. However, there’s no official word on it just yet. That said, we’ll make sure to update this post if we hear anything more concrete.
But that’s about everything you need to know about whether Rainbow Six Extraction is enhanced for PS5 or Xbox Series X. For more tips, tricks, and guides, search for Twinfinite, or head on over to our dedicated wiki for the game. And for any questions you have that aren’t answered on the site, do feel free to reach out in the comment section below and we’ll do our best to lend a hand.
Copyright © 2018 Twinfinite, LLC
How to Watch Illinois vs. Purdue: Game Time, TV Channel, Online Streaming & Odds – The Champaign Room
It’s a MLK Day matinee.
Game Time: 11 a.m.
TV Channel: Fox
Online Streaming: FoxSportsGO
Radio: All Illinois basketball games air live on radio in the Champaign (WDWS 1400) and Chicago markets (WLS 890). The game is also broadcasted on other stations throughout the state; check the Fighting Illini Radio Network for more information.
Odds: ILL +8.5, O/U 151.5
Head Coach: Brad Underwood (5th season)
2020 Record: 24-7 (16-4 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Matt Painter (17th season)
2020 Record: 18-10 (13-6 Big Ten)
Jan. 2, 2021: Illinois 66, Purdue 58
When Andre Curbelo hits the floor, good things happen for Illinois.
In a game that featured four runs of double digits, the Illini used a 20-5 run — sparked by Curbelo’s fifth straight game with five or more assists — in the second half to hold off the pesky Boilermakers, beating Purdue, 66-58.
Despite Twitter head coaches begging for the freshman to be featured in the starting lineup, the playmaker was quick to show his appreciation for his current role.
“I actually like coming off the bench,” Curbelo said.
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