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The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch is getting a performance patch

The Nintendo Switch version of The Outer Worlds is getting a much needed patch.

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The Outer Worlds - Nintendo Switch
Obsidian Entertainment / Thumbsticks

The Nintendo Switch version of The Outer Worlds is getting a much needed performance patch.

We’re big fans of The Outer Worlds here at Thumbsticks. Obsidian Entertainment’s sci-fi RPG is ambitious, colourful, funny, and, most importantly, not too big. The game was deservedly in contention for game of the year in 2019.

However, Nintendo Switch version released earlier this month is a mixed bag. It’s content complete – which is in itself impressive – but it’s a technical nightmare with blurry textures, distracting pop-in, and stuttering performance.

The critical consensus on the port was generally negative. In my review, I said: “As you might reasonably expect, environmental detail is stripped back. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes stripped back to N64-quality assets. Plantlife in the overworld is an obvious and ugly example, but everything feels like the wrong size of compromise.”

The good news is that Virtuos, the studio behind the port, is working on a sorely required performance update.

Last night, publisher Private Division tweeted: “A patch for The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch is in the works, and the team at Virtuos is investigating to further improve the game’s performance.” The tweet is accompanied by a gif of a bug literally being squashed.

The tone of the tweet isn’t 100% reassuring, but we’re glad to hear that improvements are on the way.

The Outer Worlds is not the first Nintendo Switch port to be released in rough shape. Ubisoft issued a wonky version of Assassin’s Creed III that was immeasurably improved by a post-release update. Likewise, the initial release of Saints Row: The Third had similar problems before Deep Silver patched the game.


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Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Dragon Quest XI, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Transistor.

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Injustice 2 (and one other game) is free to play on Xbox One

Injustice 2 and Nascar Heat 5 are this week’s Free Play Day games on Xbox One.

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Xbox One Free Play Days - Injustice 2
704 Games / NetherRealm Studios / Thumbsticks

Injustice 2 and NASCAR Heat 5 are this week’s Free Play Day games on Xbox One.

NetherRealm Studios’ excellent superhero fighting game and 704Games roundabout racer are free to download and play on Xbox One until 11:59 pm PT on August 16, 2020.

Injustice 2 pits Batman against Superman in a one-on-one combat jamboree. It’s a well-liked game that balances an engaging story with improved fighting mechanics. NASCAR Heat 5 is the official game of the 2020 season, but – other than a roster update – it offers few improvements over last year’s entry.

As ever, all save progress and unlocked achievements carry over to purchased copies of either game. As luck would have it, there’s a crop of new discounts to encourage such a purchase.

It’s also worth remembering that The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited remains free to play on Xbox until August 19, 2020.

Xbox One Free Play Day Deals

Injustice 2

  • Standard Edition – 75% off
  • Ultimate Pack – 80% off

NASCAR Heat 5

  • Standard Edition – 20% off
  • Gold Edition – 20% off

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

  • Standard Edition – 50% off

For even more video game bargains, visit our dedicated sales and free games pages. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook.

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A Total War Saga: Troy, and three other games, are free on the Epic Games Store

A Total War Saga: Troy just launched today, but it’s already free on the Epic Games Store.

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A Total War Saga: Troy - Epic Games

A Total War Saga: Troy just launched today, but it’s already free on the Epic Games Store.

Creative Assembly’s brand new strategy game will begin retailing at $49.99 tomorrow. But, for now, you can grab the latest entry in the long-running series for free.

Reviews for the new Total War are strong, too. Not quite as strong as the reviews for last year’s game-changing Total War: Three Kingdoms,but, IGN and Eurogamer both recommend it.

All that said, A Total War Saga: Troy isn’t even technically one of this week’s free games. Remnant: From the Ashes and The Alto Collection are the titles currently highlighted in the store’s Free Games section.

Remnant is a 2019 third-person co-op shooter. Its punishing difficulty and tough bosses earned it comparisons to Dark Souls. But, its game feel is more akin to Gears of War.

The Alto Collection is also up for grabs, assembling mobile sand/snowboarding games, Alto’s Adventure (2015) and Alto’s Odyssey (2018).

But, for me, the most interesting free game is 3 Out of 10 EP 2: “Foundation 101.” This is the second episode in Terrible Posture Games’ five-part series. Unlike most episodic games, this one is releasing on a weekly basis, with plans to conclude by early September. I thought, the first episode, Welcome to Shovelworks did a pretty good job blending the game’s animated sitcom storytelling with short and varied interactive sections. I haven’t been blown away by the writing so far, but, hey, you can’t judge a show by its pilot.

With all these games up for grabs, Epic has unveiled next week’s freebies. Expect to get Enter the Gungeon (a free game for the second time) and God’s Trigger next Thursday. Plus, 3 Out of 10 will be back with its third episode.

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Get Quake II and Quake III free for a limited time

Following a successful charity drive, Bethesda is making FPS classics Quake II and Quake III free for a limited time.

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Bethesda / Thumbsticks

Following a successful charity drive, Bethesda is making FPS classics Quake II and Quake III free for a limited time.

Both games will be free to download from the Bethesda Game Launcher following an impressive fundraising effort from fans during the recent Quakecon at Home event. Over $30,000 was raised which will be distributed among good causes including Unicef, the Legal Defense Fund, The Trevor Project, and Direct Relief.

Quake II is available to download until 12:00pm ET on August 15, 2020. Quake III will unlock at 12:00pm ET on August 17, 2020.

Head over to the Bethesda Game Launcher to download Quake II and embark on Operation Alien Overlord.


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GDC 2021 date and format confirmed

Organisers of the annual Game Developers Conference have confirmed the dates for next year’s event, which will be a physical/virtual hybrid.

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GDC

Organisers of the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) have confirmed the dates for next year’s event, which will be a physical/virtual hybrid.

This year’s GDC was one of the first major video game events to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Some virtual talks were released in March as a short-term replacement, and last week’s digital-only GDC Summer streamed a larger programme of content to over 9700 virtual attendees.

GDC has confirmed that next year’s conference  – once again planned to be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco – will run from July 19-23, 2021, rather than in its usual spring window. The format will again be a mix of lectures, exhibits, and roundtables, but it will now include a full programme of digital content for virtual attendees. It’s a welcome, safety-first approach that will hopefully make more content accessible to a wider audience.

Additional virtual events are also planned in the coming year, beginning with a collection of virtual GDC Master Classes in late 2020. They will be day-long and multi-day virtual workshops examining specific aspects of video game development. Finally, a GDC Community Celebration will run from March 1-5, 2021. It will stream behind-the-scenes content on recent games, talks from industry luminaries, and various Q&A sessions.

The new format looks like a positive and overdue change for GDC that will hopefully benefit its organisers and the development community at large. In the meantime, readers interested in game development should check out the fascinating story behind Mixolumia.


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You can trace the development of indie game Mixolumia through a single Twitter thread

This Twitter thread charts the development of indie puzzle game Mixolumia. It’s a brilliant insight and you might just learn a thing or two.

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mixolumia development on twitter
davemakes

This Twitter thread charts the development of indie puzzle game Mixolumia. It’s a brilliant insight and you might just learn a thing or two.

“idk what this is yet but I had an idea,” wrote Dave Hoffman, AKA davemakes, on Twitter. As it turns out, “this” was a brilliant idea for a puzzle game.

The tweet was dated January 29, 2019, and marked the development of what would eventually become Mixolumia.

But back then, it was just a simple idea: What if a block-dropping puzzle game, like Tetris or Columns, took place on a grid that’s been rotated by 45 degrees?

It seems like such a simple idea, and it’s a wonder nobody has never thought of it before.

It’s not unusual for developers to tweet out early ideas to see if they attract any interest – just take a look at this Bugsnax tweet from 2014 – but what’s really interesting is that Hoffman continued working on this fragment of a game, from prototype to eventual release, all in this one Twitter thread.

That means every time they came up against a problem, or had a small breakthrough, or just made a tiny little tweak, it went in the thread. It also meant they got to ask questions of their followers and crowdsource design solutions for the game that would eventually become Mixolumia. Like what happens when you hit a corner, for instance, a problem that wouldn’t occur on a traditional vertical grid:

Which, a few days later, got refined further into this:

It’s interesting to trace the very public development of an indie game. Twitter may be lots of terrible, awful, no good things, but that sort of instantaneous insight? You’d struggle to get it any other way. It’s not all fun gifs and flashy effects, though:

From there, you can see the addition of a Patreon demo – which offered a boost to development – and the addition of a scoring system, pausing and an options menu, music from Hoffman and Josie Brechner, colour palette choices, particle effects, and plenty more. Even accessibility features and multiple game modes, including a chilled out relaxing mode, are covered.

And now, a year and a half later, Mixolumia is available to buy right now through indie storefront Itch.io. It features a 10% launch discount for a limited time and will set you back just $9. That’s a bargain, sure, but the insight into the process through the Twitter thread is priceless.


Don’t forget to follow Thumbsticks on Twitter for more gaming insights. Enjoyed this look at a quirky, indie development story? Support us on Patreon or buy us a coffee to enable more of it.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.


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