Jeopardy! Players Turn Down Rare Opportunity, With Good Reason

Jeopardy!’s 40th season is scheduled to begin on September 11. And this time around the popular trivia show is inviting past players from previous seasons to play one more time, a rare opportunity that most contestants never dreamed would happen. But to play again these contestants are being asked to cross the picket line of the ongoing writer’s strike, leading some to decline the chance to return.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of writers are on strike as the Writers Guild of America fights the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television for a better contract that will protect members from AI replacement, guarantee writer rooms remain staffed, and provide better residuals for streaming shows, among other demands. And Sony Pictures, the company behind Jeopardy!, employs WGA writers to help write all the trivia clues for each episode. But while writers are striking, the show plans to utilize unused, already-written clues and recycled ones from past seasons of the long-running trivia show. But while the show might go on, not everyone invited back for season 40 is willing to cross the picket line to make more Jeopardy!

In a new report from Polygon, former Jeopardy! contestants who were offered a chance to return for the show’s upcoming season told the outlet that they were facing a nightmarish choice: return to play again, something that rarely happens, or support the strike and its writers by saying no and not crossing the picket line.

A WGA spokesperson told Polygon that the show is run by a “struck company” and that “anyone participating in a Jeopardy! production would be crossing a picket line comprised of Jeopardy! writers who wrote the clues.”

Former players aren’t willing to cross the picket line

One season 37 player explained that she was initially excited to return and play again without all the “COVID regulations” but decided against returning until the strike is resolved, telling Polygon she was “angry” at the show and the people in charge for doing this.

“Calling with vague invitations on Thursday and then announcing publicly on Monday what the plan was before telling the invitees,” she said. “Waiting to tape season 39 [Tournament of Champions] and any possible season 39 Second Chance or Wild Card tournaments until the strike is resolved…but somehow it’s okay to invite season 37/38 players?”

A season 38 player offered a chance to return also declined, explaining that while he knows that technically crossing the line isn’t scabbing in this case—he’s not replacing striking writers or staff—he still couldn’t bring himself to do it, saying that he would be “walking through a passionate group of human beings fighting for their livelihoods” in order to appear on a TV game show.

“It’s honestly souring my opinion of Jeopardy! for putting us in this position,” explained one season 38 player offered a chance to return. “[We are] having to choose between supporting the strike and going back on the show that many of us have loved our whole lives.”

Xbox 360 Store Shutting Down For Good In 2024

Xbox 360 Marketplace, the console’s online store, will cease operations on July 29, 2024. After that day, 360 owners will no longer be able to purchase new games or entertainment content for their consoles, and the Microsoft Movies and TV app will stop working, too.

While many will undoubtedly be disappointed in the fact that the 360 Marketplace, a centerpiece of the now 18-year-old console, is fading away, owners will be able to play any previously purchased digital games or those on physical discs.

“This change will not affect your ability to play Xbox 360 games or DLC you have already purchased,” Microsoft confirmed in its August 17 announcement post. “Xbox 360 game content previously purchased will still be available to play, not only the Xbox 360 console but also Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S devices via backward compatibility.”

Neither multiplayer matches (for compatible online games) nor cloud saves will be impacted by the Marketplace closing, and users will continue to be able to buy backward-compatible games on newer Xbox consoles, including Xbox Series X/S, on which 360 games will receive “FPS Boost, Auto HDR, and faster loading times,” Microsoft says.

The 360’s movie and TV streaming capability will take a bigger hit than its Marketplace. While anything purchased on the 360 movie app will stay in your library, you’ll only be able to view this content on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S after July 29. As with games on physical discs, you should still be able to watch movies and shows via DVD on the Xbox 360, since that process doesn’t require any additional software.

This development clarifies a February Xbox support page declaration that “the Xbox 360 Marketplace [will be closed] over the next year, so we encourage you to purchase any 360 games or DLC by May 2023.” At the time, Microsoft said the notice was “posted in error,” but now we know that only its 2023 timeline was incorrect.


Stardew Valley Fishing Game Makes A Good Wordle Clone

Free, fan-made browser game Pufferdle is an unexpectedly successful cozy mutant. Developer Abdullah Masud made it from sewing together some beloved parts—the fishing minigame from Stardew Valley, and Wordle’s streamlined hangman procedure—and ended up with a pixel fish-guesser many will find relaxing and familiar.

Posting on a Stardew Valley forum on August 21, Masud described Pufferdle’s simple premise. First, catch a fish through Stardew Valley’s strongman game format, where you have to press your mouse in order to lift a vertical green bar and trail it behind a generic fish icon’s sporadic, upstream swimming pattern. It’s the exact same fishing minigame players experience in Stardew Valley, and it uses Stardew’s exact same, wide-eyed fish—Masud copied Stardew developer ConcernedApe’s code “into JavaScript for an identical experience,” they said.

After encountering a fish, regardless of whether or not you snagged it, it’s time to guess what it was “based off of the difficulty you experienced,” Masud said in the forum post. Then, you’ll have to “use the fish’s seasons, weather, location, and time to narrow down your guess, in a Wordle format.”

Like in that guessing game, players only have six shots at finding a correct answer. You can hover over an array of Stonefish, Tuna, Angler, and more specific icons to the left of the guess section, to learn their biographic information, like where you can fish for them and at what time of day. Select a fish to input a guess—it will appear in green if it matches one of your target fish’s defining categories (season, weather, etc.), orange if it fits the bill partially, and gray if you’re completely off the mark.

Don’t despair if you aren’t entirely caught up on your Stardew fish studies. You can practice for Pufferdle’s daily games by using its Fish Tank game mode, which lets you reel in a fish of your choice as “as much as you want,” Masud wrote, and get to know its swimming habits better. Happy fishing.


Beyond Good and Evil Remaster Spotted, Sequel Remains Uncertain

The ESRB seems to have revealed that Ubisoft is planning a Beyond Good & Evil 20th Anniversary Edition. News on the BG&E front has been a little quiet as of late, so fans of the classic adventure title might be in for a nice revisit. That notoriously truant sequ—err, prequel, however? Well, who knows?

On August 31, X user MACOS380 posted a screenshot of the aforementioned ESRB rating for an apparent remaster of the beloved PS2-era game. The page describes the title (which they list with an “and” instead of an ampersand) as an “action-adventure game in which players assume the role of a reporter accompanied by a pig-like companion investigating a conspiracy on the planet of Hillys,” which sure sounds the part. Platforms listed include Windows, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series. There’s no mention of the Xbox One.

Kotaku has reached out to Ubisoft for comment.

Combining third-person fighting, puzzles, and wildlife photography, Beyond Good & Evil has sustained interest ever since its 2003 release on PS3, Xbox, GameCube, and PC, despite the game failing to earn enough money to warrant an immediate followup. It received a digital HD remaster in 2011 on both Xbox 360 and PS3, and is possibly expected to see an additional game at some indeterminate point in the future. Maybe. It’s complicated.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 is still AWOL

A followup to Beyond Good & Evil was first teased all the way back in 2008, by way of a cinematic trailer showing off spacey environments, a recognizable pig-like character, and someone very reminiscent of the first game’s protagonist, Jade. Some more footage of this project leaked out a year later, but things would go relatively quiet until 2016, when it seemed the sequel’s future was in doubt, shortly before solid confirmation from Ubisoft and a proper trailer at E3 (RIP) 2017. Series’ creator Michael Ancel said that instead of a direct sequel, the next game would in fact be a prequel and that the gameplay would be quite different from the original.

Like so much else in life, things then got more complicated.

Following a controversial announcement by a very excited Joseph Gordon Levitt at E3 2018 that the game would use crowdsourced art and music via the actor’s HitRecord platform, to create content for a game produced by a big-budget AAA game publisher, reports of toxic work environments at Ubisoft, including sexual harassment and abusive behavior broke. The fallout saw Beyond Good and Evil 2’s director leave the company. Managing director Guillaume Carmona would also leave for similar reasons as the game-in-progress broke records for being one of the longest development periods for an unreleased game.

Still, Ubisoft insisted that Beyond Good and Evil 2 was still in production as recently as January of 2023. This past July, however, saw BGE2’s creative director, Emile Morel, unexpectedly pass away.

Steam Hit Only Up! Pulled For Good So Dev Can Finding ‘Healing’

Only Up! Is a brutal janky platformer that blew up on Steam earlier this summer after becoming a hit with Twitch viewers. A number of controversies later, its creator has removed the game from Valve’s digital storefront seemingly forever, saying they made a lot of mistakes and need time to heal before making their next game.

“The game has kept me under a lot of stress all these months,” the game’s developer, Indiesolodev, wrote in what appears to be the final update for Only Up! (via PCGamesN). “Now I want to put the game behind me. And yes. the game won’t be available in the Steam store soon, that’s what I decided myself.” The game now shows as “not available” on its store page, though players who already purchased it still have access.

A parkour game about constantly ascending to new heights, Only Up! released back in May and rose to popularity in June with over 10,000 concurrent players and 90,000 viewers on Twitch. Reviews of the game’s actual quality were mixed, however, with some players praising the surreal and capricious 3D platforming while others critiqued its glitchy physics and hasty design full of what appeared to be cheap asset flips.

Signs show in-game prompts for Only Up!'s elevator.

Image: Indiesolodev

A hit among Twitch streamers who found viewers were attracted to it as a sort of voyeuristic failure porn, Only Up! was nevertheless briefly pulled from Steam for a day in July after it was accused of stealing another developer’s copyrighted 3D anime model. As PC Gamer pointed out at the time, the game also appeared to be loosely affiliated with NFTs, from images of Goblintown tokens appearing in levels to the title itself which is a common rallying cry among crypto scammers.

“What I need now is peace of mind and healing,” Indiesolodev wrote in today’s update. “I plan to take a pause, and continue my education in game design and further with new experience and knowledge to direct my energies to my next game.” They’re sophomore project is currently titled “Kith,” which means friends or acquaintances, though it’s also the name of a popular streetwear brand. Indiesolodev describes it as completely different from Only Up! with an emphasis on “cinematography.”

“This time I hope the project will be created by a small team,” they wrote. “This is a challenging project on which I want to significantly improve my skills in game design.”

Some players are already mourning Only Up!’s unexpected disappearance, asking why Indiesolodev didn’t just decide to give it away for free. But most of the comments on their update are just congratulating them for creating a viral game out of nowhere. “You did a fantastic job with this game and should be nothing but proud of yourself,” wrote the_drummernator. “I’ve had a great experience with it so far, and finally getting to the top after many setbacks was very fulfilling.”


Overwatch’s Diablo 4 Crossover Finally Gives Moira A Good Skin

Overwatch 2 announced its creepy season seven, Rise of Darkness, in a teaser trailer on October 2. The full trailer will go live on October 4, but, for now, fans should prepare for a Diablo IV crossover.

The brief teaser keeps the extent of the crossover close to its chest, but it at least confirms that Rise of Darkness will involve the Tristram Cathedral final point in Blizzard World, a map introduced in 2018 that features different sections dedicated to developer Blizzard’s myriad franchises. Humanoid Omnic bots hover among the desolate brick, along which one of Diablo’s red portals has stretched open.

Hero Wrecking Ball’s typically chrome-colored shell rolls through, decorated in black, red, and gold, which is more suited to Diablo’s fire and brimstone. But the real showstopper is support character Moira, whose Lilith skin is a stylized version of the Diablo IV demoness’s instantly recognizable regalia. Moira ditches her typical cybergoth bodysuit to, like the original Lilth, get crowned with twisted goat horns, ridged, reptilian eyebrows, and black lipstick. Her usual black-and-purple color palette is retained, though, in a V-neck outfit topped with gnarled shoulder pads. In other words, as one Reddit commenter put it, she is “mothering hard.”

Rise of Darkness leaks from Bulgarian streamer bogur also point to a battle pass stocked with a super rare Mythic skin (this kind of skin has some customization options including color palettes and detail variations, and unlocks in stages as you progress through the battle pass) for the archer Hanzo, and then, some more Halloween-appropriate looks: a gothic Ghost Bride dress for Widowmaker and a Victorian Doll outfit for flying robot Echo, topped with a blonde wig that people on Reddit have decided is not be mothering hard, but you can judge for yourself. Each Overwatch 2 battle pass costs $10, or 1,000 Overwatch Coins.

The upcoming season marks yet another seemingly unlikely collaboration for Diablo, which recently added Lilith and fallen angel Inarius to Call of Duty’s operator roster, and, in the summer, joined forces with popstars Halsey and Suga (from BTS) to create a perfectly fine Diablo IV anthem.” At this rate, I’m readying myself for the inevitability of a limited edition, Diablo IV, microbrewed IPA line. Overwatch, too, has had a recent collaboration with One Punch Man as well as a Star Wars-inspired event.

Overwatch 2 Season 7 drops on October 10.


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