News from the Metaverse

Facebook gets Meta

“I am proud to announce that starting today, our company is now Meta” – Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook the company, not Facebook the social media platform has changed its name to Meta. CEO and real human boy Mark Zuckerberg fronted a recent Facebook Connect event to reveal the name change and explain his vision for the Metaverse; A VR and AR future where our real and virtual worlds interlink.  While much of the presentation was speculative concepts there were some more substantive reveals. Oculus is working on a new high end VR Headset codenamed Cambria which will integrate eye and facial tracking among other features which will be revealed at a later date. They also announced their first AR headset codenamed Project Nazare with the goal of integrating AR into a regular sized set of glasses. It should still be a few years before we see any concrete details.

In more game focused new Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas VR has been announced for Quest 2 developed by the same team behind L.A. Noire: The VR Case File and a port of the popular VR combat simulator Blade and Sorcery has also been announced for the Quest 2.

For full details you can rewatch all the event’s streams including a talk by legendary Doom programmer John Carmack at

Netflix launches gaming service

If you’ve got an Android phone and Netflix you can log in and find a new tab. Games! Previously Netflix had experimented with interactive story telling such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Minecraft Story Mode but this is the companies first foray into more traditional games via the streaming service. The launch line-up includes 5 games Stranger Things: 1984, Stranger Things 3: The Game, Card Blast, Teeter Up and Shooting Hoops,  but expect more to follow.

While only available on Android devices currently Netflix has iOS support in development and hopes to release in the coming months.

Let the Games Begin: A New Way to Experience Entertainment on Mobile

Playstation State of Play

Sony held a State of Play last week announcing games and new details for titles from some of it’s 3rd party developers. Beginning the show was the reveal of a spin off to the Grasshoper Manufacture game Let it Die called Deathverse: Let It Die. The free2play game will have players competing in a twisted and ultraviolent game show.

A free DLC expansion to Bugsnax was announced titles The Isle of BIGsnax. Coming 2022 player will have a new area to explore but most importantly they will be given the option to put hats on bugsnax.

Death’s Door one of this year’s most well-regarded titles has been given a release date for PS4 and PS5 of November 23rd. Not included in the presentation is that this date will also see the Switch release of the title.

A handful of other games were shown off such as First Class Trouble, KartRider: Drift and the always charming Little Devil Inside. You can check out the full presentation here.

Government rebate for Queensland game industry

In local news, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced new incentives for Video Game creators in the state. The Post-Production, Digital and Visual Effects incentives which previously provided film makers doing post-production and post-visual effects with a 15% rebate will now include game developers.

“By adding this new games’ incentive, local and international studios will be further motivated to outsource the creation of valuable game titles to Queensland, while our own locally based developers will be supported to create original games content right here.”

“My government has also moved to lower the threshold on access to the PDV and games incentive from $500,000 to $250,000, a substantial boost to local post-production businesses pitching for a broad range of projects.”

Annastacia Palaszczuk

You can find to the government’s statement here.

Upcoming releases

Just Dance 2022 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch), The Binding Of Isaac: Repentance (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Switch), Where Cards Fall (Switch, PC) – November 5

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise DLC (Switch), Call of Duty: Vanguard (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – November 6

Football Manager 2022 (Xbox One, PC), Forza Horizon 5 (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC), Jurassic World Evolution 2 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – November 10

Games are popular, On Pause, and Trick or Treat

Video games more popular than Free-To-Air TV

A study conducted by Bond University’s regular Digital Australia report has revealed that 17 million Aussie’s play video games in some form. 5.5 million households own two or more dedicated game playing devices while 92% of Aussie homes own at least one gaming platform. This report has shown some pretty interesting information about the habits of Australian’s during the pandemic, mostly relating to gaming as a form of social connection with 76% of parents who were part of the study having played some form of video games with their children throughout. The average age of a video game player is now 35 and has steadily risen since the generation of Game Boy, NES, SNES, and PS1. And most interestingly is that while streaming TV/Movies is in the number one spot, Games is now in second place before free-to-air television in Australia. If you’d like to check out all the stats click here.

BlizzCon on ‘Pause’

The gaming giant Activision Blizzard has announced that they are currently putting their plans on hold for an online BlizzCon event in 2022. A spokesperson from Blizzard said, “Any BlizzCon event takes every single one of us to make happen, an entire-company effort, fuelled by our desire to share what we create with the community we care about so much. At this time, we feel the energy it would take to put on a show like this is best directed towards supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences.” BlizzCon 2020 and 2021 were both cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with next year’s BlizzCon on ‘pause’ it is speculated that the recent situation Blizzard has with the widespread discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit may be cause for delay relating to whether BlizzCon 2022 is going ahead. Blizzard also suggested that if the event was to return it would be a very different event from the ones we’re used to seeing.

Trick or Treat – Zed Games horror game suggestions for Halloween

Dead by Daylight – Available on all platforms Dead by Daylight is a four-person survival game with the goal of escaping a killer before daylight breaks. Four players take on the role of a survivor while one player hunts in a big one vs four multiplayer survival mode. This is a great game to play with friends and enjoy a heart pumping adrenaline fuelled action.

Phasmophobia – Available on PC and VR Phasmophobia is an investigative co-op horror game where you must work with your friends to identify the types of paranormal activity inside different locations. Tasked with four objectives you must complete, but do it quickly, because the longer you stay in the haunted house the more your sanity drops and the ghosts start to hunt you.

Little Nightmares II – Available on Nintendo Switch, PS, Xbox and PC, Little Nightmares II is a puzzle-platformer which is a little less terror and more spooky. You explore and solve puzzles in order to progress through the narrative as this little boy guided by a girl in an ominous yellow raincoat.

Resident Evil 4 VR – Available exclusively on the Oculus Quest and relive the arguably most terrifying Resident Evil game of them all in VR, almost certainly an experience filled with jump scares, screams, and pure terror.

Dead Space – And finally, a classic available on PC, Xbox, Switch and PC is Dead Space, looking for some regular old poop your pants kind of action this Halloween. Play this classic space horror  game, a single player campaign where you are in an interstellar mining ship exploring and unfolding the creepy story whilst fending off jump scares and terror from unknown extra-terrestrial forces.

This week in game releases:

Oct 28
• Age of Empires 4
• Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
• Plan B from Outer Space: A Bavarian Odyssey
• Riders Republic
• Sunshine Manor
• Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars
Oct 29
• Mario Party Superstars
• Zombo Buster Rising
Nov 2
• Giants Uprising
• World War Z
Nov 3
• Bloodshore
• Time Loader

Consoles, NFT Trades, Accreditation, and Unionisation.

Nintendo’s Direct Announcement
This week’s Nintendo direct announced a stack of new Animal Crossing content coming in the free 2.0 update. Long awaited Brewster will be serving coffee at the Roost, new boat tours with Kapp’n, Cooking, Farming, Gyroids and so much more. However, with some of the content spoiled by datamining as early as 16 months ago, the announcement has left some gamers jaded.
In the same direct, Nintendo announced the Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise DLC, and its inclusion in the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. While the DLC includes long awaited jobs for Animal Crossing it also carries the Nintendo 64 and Sega Gensis emulation and libraries including the games; Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Ecco the Dolphin, Streets of Rage 2, and Sonic 2, to name but a few. Later that same day, the pricing of the Expansion pack was released with it costing at least another $30 on top of the current yearly subscription plan. The video announcing this is currently the most down voted video on the official Nintendo YouTube channel with over 80 thousand dislikes at the time of writing.
In other Sega news, with last month’s closure of the legendary Ikebukuro Sega store after three decades of operation, it was rumoured to mark “the beginning of the end of the golden age of arcade gaming.” However, on October 16 Sega announced via twitter the opening of a new Ikebukuro store to open Friday October 22nd and teased more surprises to come.

Console Truce?
In further console news, a report from Hub Entertainment Research shows more people than ever owning both a PlayStation and Xbox with over a third of respondents reporting to own both. And for those searching for one of the consoles, Sony has created an online lottery for those still clamouring to buy a PS5 in the US. By registering their PSN account through Sony they can choose to elect either the standard or digital edition. Sony will then allocate available stock through quoted “previous interests and PlayStation activities” and will inform people via email when their console is available for purchase.
For those waiting for an Xbox Series X or Xbox Minifridge, sadly you’re out of luck with US, UK and Europe selling out of the fridge within 30 minutes of release and the Xbox Series X still hard to find in Australia except through scalpers on eBay.

New Home for NFT Based Games.
On October 15th Age of Rust developer SpacePirate announced that Steam was “kicking *all blockchain games* off the platform, including Age of Rust…” due to Valve extending the policy to ban games with items with real world monetary value to include NFTs. While Valve has not made an official statement, Steamworks onboarding Rules and Guidelines have been updated, now stating that “Applications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs.” should not be published on Steam
Epic Games’s Tim Sweeny announced the next day via Twitter that the Epic Games Store would allow NFT titles but not cryptocurrencies with the caveat that they will follow relevant laws, disclose their terms, are age-rated appropriately, and use their own systems to process payments.

Accreditation and Unionisation.
The long-awaited Metroid Dread’s release has been marred by developer MercurySteam refusing to credit employees who worked on the project for less than 25% of the games development time. MercurySteam stated that those who “had significant creative and/or technical contributions” were credited even when they did not meet the 25% minimum. Other developers have faced similar criticism with Ubisoft relegating former Far Cry 6 devs to the “special thanks” section of the credits.
In other business news, Paizo, publisher of the Pathfinder series, a popular tabletop paper and pencil RPG, have had over 30 of their employees form the United Paizo Workers union after the firing of Sara Marie for “undisclosed reasons”. After the fallout, Paizo president Jeff Alvarez, promised vague improvements. The union’s press release claims coverups “by those at the top”, that workers are underpaid, and “subjected to untenable crunch conditions on a regular basis.” The union urges management to voluntarily recognise the union as it “…pushes (sic) for real changes at the company.”

Now for some upcoming games!
On Thursday the 21st, try the 2D biopunk point and click Growbot, or travel the sand seas of Sands of Aura, both coming to PC. Also, Resident Evil 4 VR is coming to Oculus Quest 2, and the Victorian puzzle platformer Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch.
The third in The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes comes to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox on the 22nd.
On Tuesday the 26th, release your inner necromancer in the roguelike The Unliving or the antique restorer within in Workshop Simulator, both coming to PC. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy also comes out on the same day for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.
And finally on Thursday the 28th Age of Empires 4 is coming to PC and GamePass, the fifth of the Fatal Frame series Maiden of Black Water comes to the PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch, and the extreme multiplayer sports game Riders Republic comes to PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Stadia.

In Community Announcements:
Springfield Gamers are organising an event to encourage veterans, serving personnel and their families to check out gaming as a hobby. They are a face-to-face gaming club for gamers of board games, tabletop games and roleplaying games.
The event is free for general admission, with a range of demo games like Kings of War, and Gaslands, a board games library, and tournaments of Warhammer 40k, Flames of War & Teamy Yankee happening alongside modelling tutorials. The event will be taking place Saturday October 23rd from 9am to 5pm at the YMCA Springfield Central. Click here for more info or to head over to their Facebook page.

Unpacking Awards, Azure Attack, and No Opposing Chats

Australian Game Developer Awards Winners Announced!

The winners for the Australian Game Developer Awards have been announced, with Queensland and Victorian developers leading the way.

Local game Unpacking by Witch Beam has taken the Game of the Year Award, with the relaxing puzzle game also taking home the Excellence in Accessibility Award. Art Director and Designer Wren Brier says,

“It’s humbling to be part of a roster of amazing studios with incredible games that have won this award. We’re so pleased that Unpacking also took home the Excellence in Accessibility Award as we’re firm believers that video games can and should be enjoyed by everyone.”

Another local game, Webbed, the adorable game about spiders, received Excellence in Gameplay.

Beethoven & Dinosaur took home Excellence in Art and Excellence in Audio Awards for The Artful Escape. Black Lab Games won the Studio of the Year Award.

Steve Wang from Wargaming Sydney was awarded the Adam Lancman Award for his contribution and advocacy for the local games industry.

Chad Toprak, Kathleen Smart, and Ashley Van Wynngard were jointly awarded the Rising Star Award for the impact they’ve made to the industry in a short amount of time.

The Forgotten City by Modern Storyteller took home Excellence in Narrative, The Oregon Trail by Gameloft Brisbane won Excellence in Mobile Games, Sharmila by Chaos Theory Games and the World Food Programme took home Excellence in Serious Games. Pico Tanks by Panda Arcade was awarded Excellence in Ongoing Games, and Video World by Things for Humans won Excellence in Emerging Games.

Largest DDoS Attack Mitigated

Microsoft reveals that its Azure cloud service mitigated a 2.4 terabytes per second denial of service attack this year, which makes this the largest DDoS attack recorded to date.

The attack was carried out using a botnet of around 70,000 bots primarily located across the Asia-Pacific region. The target of

 the attack has been identified as an Azure customer in Europe. The record-breaking attack came in three short waves over the span of 10 minutes, with the first at 2.4 Tbps.

Thankfully the DDoS attack was mitigated, preventing Azure from going down. Previously the DDoS record was a 2.3 Tbps attack on Amazon in February 2020.

League of Legends Removing Opposing Team Chat

Riot Games has announced that chat between opposing teams in League of Legends will be disabled in an attempt to cut down on toxic behaviour.

“While chat can be the source of fun social interaction between teams as well as some good-hearted banter, right now negative interactions outweigh the positives. We’ll evaluate the impact of this change through verbal abuse reports and penalty rates, as well as surveys and direct feedback from you all.”

And now for some upcoming game releases!

October 14

  • A Little Golf Journey [PC, Switch]
  • Bonito Days [Switch]
  • Despot’s Game [PC]
  • Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Dungeon Encounters [PC, PS4, Switch]
  • Godstrike [PS4, XBO]
  • Jackbox Party Pack 8 [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Ruin Raiders [PC, Switch]
  • Sphere – Flying Cities [PC]

October 15

  • Ancient Stories: Gods of Egypt [PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Crysis Remastered Trilogy [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
  • Demon Slayer: The Hikonami Chronicles [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
  • The Good Life [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Greylancer [PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town [PS4, XBO]

October 18

  • Nuclear Blaze [PC]

October 19

  • Dying Light: Platinum Edition [Switch
  • Into The Pit [PC, XBO]
  • War Mongrels [PC]
  • Youtubers Life 2 [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]

October 20

  • Healing Spree [PC]
  • Jars [PC, Switch]

Zahra’s Very Brief Intro to DMing

If you’ve heard of Dungeons and Dragons then you’re probably aware of the role of the DM, otherwise known as the Dungeon Master. The mastermind behind the game, the one who holds your fate in their hands, all-powerful, all-knowing, yada yada yada.

Here’s a secret. They’re actually just another player! Take a moment to absorb that. The DM might be guiding the game, and they might be managing multiple characters, and they do know what’s around the corner, but really they’re just another player. I’m demystifying that role now.

Dungeon Masters don’t know everything, they don’t have all the rules memorised, they don’t have everything planned out, and they absolutely do not have enough unique voices for every NPC your party runs into.

It’s understandably a rather intimidating role, but it doesn’t have to be. And hopefully by the end of Zahra’s Very Brief Intro to DMing, you’ll feel ready to take it on. Because really, you’re already ready, you just need a bit of prep.

So, quickly, what is Dungeons and Dragons? It’s a tabletop roleplaying game where a group of people create characters, and using dice and modifiers you play as those characters, overcoming enemies, solving puzzles, and learning about the world you’re in. It’s a lot of fun! It can be as dramatic or as silly as you want, it can be a single session or a campaign that lasts years, and it’s a collaborative experience, where all the players all contribute to gameplay and the story. It’s customisable, and unique to every party.

But you need a Dungeon Master. They’re the one who creates the setting for your party. They are in control of enemies and non-playable allies, they adjust the game as you play depending on the desired experience, and they often have a story that they want the party to play through.

This doesn’t mean the DM is in control of everything! They are also subjected to the same rules that the party must abide by. If their big bad evil guy rolls badly and trips over a rock, they can’t just say no, I’m not letting that happen. Likewise, if the party turns down the wrong path (that has loads of warning signs plastered all over it), and end up falling into lava, well, they can’t really stop that.

Every game is different, and every group is different. But you remember what I said about DnD being a collaborative experience? The DM may put you in a setting, filled with vibrant and cool characters. And they may have a story they want to tell, but the party also decides on where they want to go, what they want to do, and will influence the story in their own way.

That’s not always the case, you might want more of a Party vs DM kind of game, which can also be quite fun with its own unique challenges.

But at the end of the day the most important thing is that people are having fun, and they’re engaged.

So, now that you know what the DM does, just how do you DM?

Depending on your group and the desired experience, outline a world. It might just be a forest with little villages in it, could be an undersea city. Don’t get bogged down by details right now.

You’ll need to create various characters, some may be villains for your party to go up against. A lot of them might be allies, annoyances, just silly little guys. It’s up to you! Think about your players and your goals, and create obstacles to challenge them, and helpful folks to nudge them in the right direction. This bit is a lot like creating characters as a party member, and for minor characters you can just have the most basic sheet with their stats and attacks on it.

For more important, major characters? Making them is exactly like creating a party character. Feel free to flesh them out as much as you wish. Give them goals, strengths, weaknesses.

For longer campaigns, outlining story beats is helpful for me to do upfront, and then before each session I will flesh out that beat. I’ll give my players a quest or two that will either move them through the story or act as a way to round out their experience. How do I give them that quest? I might simply say ‘This ragtag group is on their way to defeat an evil wizard who has been terrorizing the local population! What will they do?’. It can be that easy.

Often though you’ll give your party a handy inn nearby with an innkeeper who knows about everything and everyone, and will have a quest or two on hand. It’s a bit cliched, but it works, and it’s nice for your party to have a homebase and an NPC who welcomes them.

And finally, make a map. Will your party be going through a dungeon filled with traps and dangers? Or a swamp where one wrong move will have them walking into the jaws of a monster? You’ll want to make a map, it can be crudely drawn it just needs to be clear, so then your players can more easily understand the space they’re in. You don’t need a map for everything, like the long boring walk between towns, but for anywhere where having a space visualised will be useful. And keep a couple of pieces of grid paper nearby for those unplanned fights.

It doesn’t sound like a lot of prep, right? And here’s where I reveal the biggest secret for DMs. It’s all improv! Think about it, you can’t predict what your players are going to do, who they’re going to talk to, where they’re going to go. You can make them a super clear path, but they may decide to just slash their way through the forest. They might decide that they need to help a little girl find her pet dog, or they might want to try to seduce the innkeeper. Give them some space to explore and do their own thing, improvise as you go, and when you need to give them a nudge then have a messenger run up to them with a request for help.


But what about when you’re playing through the session and your players ask if they can do kickflips off the back of the enemy ogre but also they want to convince the ogre to let them do that? What skill check is that? What numbers do you need? You didn’t prepare for this, you’re feeling the pressure, is it persuasion or acrobatics? Both? Don’t panic! Here is my other secret.

You can just google it, look it up in the handbook, consult a cheatsheet, or you can even just go ‘this sounds right, does that sound fair?’ and make a decision. It’s fine! You can’t know everything, and it’s stressful being put on the spot constantly. Some DMs will have a ‘Rule of Cool’, where if a player proposes something extremely epic then you’ll do what you can to make it work. I like the ‘Rule of Keeping Momentum Going’. It’s more important to keep the game moving than it is to make sure every single move is perfectly legal. It really doesn’t matter all that much.

It doesn’t mean just do whatever you want, but you can just use your best judgement, and if it sounds fair then your players will be fine with it. Let’s keep this fight going!

And finally, you don’t need to create this perfectly unique, epic, homebrewed story with your own language and tonnes and tonnes of details and lore. You can just find an adventure or campaign that someone else made, and use it! There are adventures specifically for new DMs that will give you all the information you need for a successful session, gently teach you, and give you advice as you go. You can still put your own spin on it, introduce customised puzzles for that one person who is really good at moving tile puzzles, and make a friendly wolf character for your party to adopt. It’s all fine!

So let me just recap:

  • The DM is just another player, just with a lot more paperwork.
  • The DM does NOT need to know everything, they don’t need to know all the rules, they don’t need to plan for every possible decision the players might make.
  • You can just improvise.
  • You can just make up reasonable rules, or make a decision based on your own judgment in order to keep the game moving.
  • You can use pre-written adventures.
  • Maps are very important.
  • Have fun! The party should have fun, but the DM also needs to have fun too!


You’re all playing make-believe. It’s not that serious.

Handy links!


Activision Blizzard Settles with EEOC, Xbox Cloud Coming to Oz, & Game Trials Coming to UK

Activision Blizzard strikes $18 million settlement with US employment watchdog
Less than a day after the federal lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the $18 million settlement, subject to court approval, will be used for payments to employees who have experienced sexual harassment, sex discrimination or retaliation while working at the Californian video game publisher.
Any remaining funds will be split “between charities that advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues” Activision Blizzard said in a statement. This settlement is separate from a lawsuit filed in July by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against the publisher.

Microsoft launches cloud gaming in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico
After several months of testing, Xbox Cloud Gaming has been released in 4 more countries, expanding the service to 26 in total. This service allows members of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate access to over 100 titles over the cloud, meaning that you can stream titles such as Gears 5 or Sea of Thieves on something as simple as an android or apple device. No hardcore gaming PC’s or consoles required!
“Since cloud gaming is powered by custom Xbox Series X consoles, that means these games are being played by an Xbox in the cloud, bringing faster load times and improved frame rates to the gameplay experience” Catherine Gluckstein, Microsoft’s head of Project xCloud.

Playstation introduces a new feature – Game Trials
Sony has introduced an interesting new feature this week in the UK, offering timed trials on selected Playstation 5 titles. At this stage only two games, Death Stranding Director’s Cut, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are included, allowing players 5 to 6 hours to try them out before making the decision to purchase.
The feature is limited to Playstation 5 users, and can only be used once per account, per game. Should this feature make its way to our shores, there is one problem, the trial starts when you click download. Given our average internet speeds, that could pose a problem for some gamers.

Upcoming Gaming Releases
October 7
   • Age of Darkness: Final Stand
   • Far Cry 6
   • The Lightbringer
   • Moonglow Bay

October 8
   • Knockout Home Fitness
   • Lego Marvel Super Heroes
   • Metroid Dread
   • Tetris Effect: Connected
   • Nintendo Switch OLED

October 11
   • Book of Travels

October 12
   • Back 4 Blood
   • Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
   • Ori: The Collection