Life is Strange - Episode 1 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Imogen Beckhelling)

Glaad (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) have brought their media awards back for the 31st year, and for the second year in a row they’re recognising video games “for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives”.

Last year, Jay Castello wrote about how these video game awards highlight difficulties in celebrating queer representation, and this year it’s slighty better, but it still feels a bit like it’s missing the point.

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A Hat in Time - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Lauren Morton)

The winter half of the yearly charity speedrunning marathon Awesome Games Done Quick kicks off this Sunday, January 5th. Donations to Games Done Quick will benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The week long marathon will cover a bunch of speedrunning mainstays along with some new additions from 2019.

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The Outer Worlds - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

I ve been spending the past few weeks playing co-op games with my BFF. I wanted to try Sea of Thieves, because when I m not dreaming of being an astronaut, I m dreaming of being a pirate. Being Scottish, I suggested we use Game Pass, Microsoft s games subscription service, and was surprised to see that it was only 1. Then I was surprised to see that the next renewal date for my sub is April. Score!

It s a holiday discount, so you ll probably need to be super quick, and though it claims that it s your first 3 months , I had already signed up and unsubbed from Game Pass when Sea of Thieves was first released and I still got the deal. If this doesn’t work for you, you can probably sign up for a new account. Microsoft aren t shy about putting games up there. You can enjoy Halo: Reach for a paltry amount for a few months.

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The Outer Worlds

The corporate nightmare sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds was a big hit for Obsidian. It's not the deepest roleplaying experience ever, but it's gorgeous, sharply written, and maybe most impressive of all, it's relatively bug-free. It's just a really fun game: We called it "an entertaining, uncomplicated RPG in a colorful universe" in our review, and that really nails it.

In the wake of that success, Obsidian announced today that the adventure will continue. "We want to take this opportunity to thank the incredible team behind The Outer Worlds. It is because of their hard work and dedication to this project that we received the Best Narrative, Best Performance - Ashly Burch, Best RPG, and Game of the Year nominations at The Game Awards," Obsidian social media manager Shyla wrote.

"To all of those who voted for us in The Game Awards, you are all fantastic and we are so grateful for your support. The reception to The Outer Worlds has been unbelievable to see, and even just being nominated means a lot. However, the journey isn't over yet as we are excited to announce that we will be expanding the story through DLC next year! Details will be made available at a later date."

The Outer Worlds didn't win any of the awards it was nominated for, but in its defense the competition was fierce: Best narrative and best RPG went to Disco Elysium, the best performance award was given to Mads Mikkelsen (for Death Stranding), and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice claimed game of the year honors. There's no shame in losing to any of those.

"We just wanted to personally thank our team for doing a wonderful job and our fans for their tremendous support," The Outer Worlds co-director Leonard Boyarsky said. "And Tim would like to say what an honor it was to work with me."

"Whatever, Leonard," co-director Tim Cain added. "Now that we’ve finished, I expect that certain photographs will be destroyed, as per our agreement."

Despite its healthy state at release, The Outer Worlds wasn't entirely without issues. Q&A lead Taylor Swope recently offered some insight into the headaches of troubleshooting with a discussion of one particularly tough bug to squash that was causing companions to die, even when they weren't actually dead.

The Outer Worlds

This week, version 1.2 of The Outer Worlds, Obsidian's enjoyable spacefaring RPG, was released. It featured a bunch of fixes, big and small, including one that QA lead Taylor Swope described as "the dreaded 'the game thinks my companions are dead' bug", which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Swope believes he spent more time investigating this than any other single bug in his career, and outlined the process of identifying and squashing it on his Twitter feed. "The gist of the bug was that, for some players, a companion quest would be marked as failed in the quest log," he says. "With the reasoning that the companion was dead, despite the fact they were very much alive."

This was particularly confusing because, outside of the game's extra tough SuperNova mode, companions can't actually die. Apparently this enigmatic bug happened a couple of times before launch, but the QA team was unable to recreate it, or even learn anything concrete about it.

When the bug started showing up after launch, the team tried to isolate everything that could cause a companion to die. "Investigating it involved figuring out the location of every script and line of code that could possibly make the game think that a companion was dead," says Swope.

The devs came up with a number of theories, and worked out that the bug was likely related to companions taking fall damage while on the player's ship. "The problem with that is that there are no spots in the player's ship that are high enough to result in a lethal fall," Swope notes. It wasn't until he spotted an off-hand comment from a player, who "mentioned seeing a weird bug where a companion was climbing nothing", that he eventually figured it out.

"On the dev side of things, the system for NPCs interacting with the environment is called furniture," Swope says. "Sometimes this is literal furniture, like sitting in a chair. But it covers everything from using a terminal to leaning on a wall."

Somewhere "deep in the complex beast that is the furniture system", Swope explains, there's a piece of code that disables all NPCs, including companions, from starting new furniture interactions if the player is in a conversation.

"The problem was that using a ladder is considered two different furniture interactions," he says. "One for getting on the ladder and starting to climb, and one to stop climbing and get off. So if someone started climbing a ladder and the player entered a conversation before they stopped, they wouldn't be able to exit the ladder, and, well…" Then he tweeted a video clip.

What you're seeing there is an NPC trapped on a ladder in a void outside the player's ship, cursed to climb it until the player has finished their dialogue interaction, at which point they fall to their 'death'—which is what was causing their associated companion quest to fail. And the fix? "We just re-enabled furniture interactions during dialogue."

Stuff like this makes me glad I'm not a game developer. I can only imagine the trauma of shipping a game, only for a bizarre bug like this to emerge. But at least Swope and his team managed to squash it in the end.

You can read Swope's full Twitter thread here.

The Outer Worlds - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Party members were not being launched into space by cows then falling to their mock-deaths in The Outer Worlds, it turns out, but the truth isn’t much less strange. Obsidian Entertainment last night released a big bugfix patch for their sci-fi RPG, including a fix for the problem of the game sometimes declaring you’d failed companion quests because your pal had died – even though they were clearly alive. Obsidian tried to pin down this enigmatic bug for ages but its cause had proved elusive. Quality assurance lead Taylor Swope told the story of this bughunt on Twitter, and it’s good. The cause is a bit like Wile E. Coyote realising that the Road Runner has once again tricked him, and for several seconds he has been standing on thin air.

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The Outer Worlds - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Ollie Toms)

What’s a holiday to The Outer Worlds without Companions to share the journey with? Obsidian’s latest open-world(s) RPG provides you with six different Companions to bring aboard your ship, the Unreliable, and help you in the quests and battles you’ll face time after time throughout your journeys. Each Companion has different personalities, skillsets, side quests, and combat powers – and our The Outer Worlds Companions guide will walk you through each of them in turn, so you know which companions are the best for each situation you find yourself in. We’ve even got a list of all the perks, including the ones unlocked by completing the Companion Quest.

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The Outer Worlds - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Lauren Morton)

The Game Awards are just around the corner, a week from today on December 12th. The show’s host and producer, Geoff Keighley, is running an Ask Me Anything on Reddit today where he confirms that there are “around 10 new games/projects” being revealed at the show. To his knowledge, none of them have been leaked yet.

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The Outer Worlds - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Ollie Toms)

From the very start of the game, The Outer Worlds gives you a variety of systems to play around with to customise and develop your character. Prime among them is the Perks system, which gives you the chance on every second level-up to give your character a new Perk to help give them (and you) a slightly easier or more enjoyable journey through the game.

With 42 Perks to choose from, there’s quite a lot to take in here; so we’ve put together this The Outer Worlds Perks and Flaws guide, which will explain not only how Perks work and some great ones to start off with, but also the game’s unique Flaws system and why you may want to take advantage of it.

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The Outer Worlds - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Ollie Toms)

The Outer Worlds may not quite be the largest RPG we’ve ever seen, but it sure does have a great deal of stuff> to explore and experiment with, from the first moments (or in my case, half-hour) of character creation to the many different quests, enemy types, combat mechanics, stories, and interconnected systems you’ll encounter throughout your travels.

Lucky for you, our The Outer Worlds guide series looks to furnish you with all the information you need, starting with the below 25 The Outer Worlds tips and tricks on everything from dialogue options to Workbenches.

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