Tag: PC Gaming

Rainbow Six Siege: Playlist Improvements

16 Sep 19
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[2019-09-16] Dev Blog PI header


Dev Blog: Playlist Improvements

09/16/2019 Source = Ubisoft® (CA)

When we announced our Y4 roadmap, we revealed several major playlist changes with the addition of the Newcomer Playlist, updates to Ranked Playlists and Casual, and more. For this purpose, we created the Playlist cell, a multidisciplinary team dedicated to working on the Playlists. With the playlist changes, our goals were to provide more guidance in the onboarding experience for new players, foster a healthier competitive scene at the higher ranks of play, while also finding better ways to disseminate information to ease the leap between casual and Ranked.

This dev blog aims to provide insight on the changes and improvements that have been made to Playlists throughout Y4, and will shed some light on the decision process that goes into helping us look for ways that we can improve the player experience for all types of players in our community.



Rainbow Six Siege is a complex game to pick up. Even for experienced FPS players, Siege requires more than just shooting, as there is an expanse of game knowledge that can and should be learned as you grow as a player. As the game continues to grow, we realized that we had to begin developing initiatives to ease the learning curve and better guide our players.

Entering a casual PvP game as your first Rainbow Six experience is daunting and can easily turn into a frustrating experience for new players. The creation of the Newcomer playlist aimed to offer a compact experience for new players. So with only three bomb-only maps, and a maximum Clearance Level of 50, we sought to create a space for newer players to learn among themselves in a more controlled environment.

The Newcomer playlist is just one step in our plans for improving the onboarding process, and we are continuing to search for more ways to inform, guide, and educate players. The Operator selection screen now contains difficulty ratings and full loadouts. We also added in default loadouts for new players as well. Furthermore, we have been monitoring feedback and understand that the Clearance Level cap prevents new players from playing with their friends. Part of the solution to this is the upcoming Unranked Playlist (read for more on this below), but we are continuing to look into ways we can improve the Newcomer playlist further while keeping our core purpose of the playlist intact.



At the other end of the spectrum, we also wanted to focus more on creating a better Ranked experience for our highly dedicated competitive players. We wanted to provide an experience that more closely mirrored Pro League, improve Ranked competitive balance in all aspects, and develop long-term engagement with players and Ranked. It was time the Beta tag came off ranked.

We first began with the introduction of Ranked Pick and Ban as a first step to bring Ranked closer to Pro League. A logical next step with our pool of Operators increasing season by season, Pick and Ban has helped to shift the meta, act as a balancing check, and refresh gameplay experience from one match to another. With the next season, we’re taking one more step closer to Pro League by changing the plant and defuse timer to 7 seconds, forcing teams to plan and commit more in order to plant.

Next, we turned our eyes towards shaking up the Rank distribution. While the average player placed in Gold, what we knew from feedback and what our data was telling us were that progression in lower ranks felt very difficult and led to diminished motivation to rank up. As a result, we added an additional fifth Rank to Copper, Bronze and Silver and removed the fourth Rank in Gold – making movement for players at lower Ranks feel more progressive as they climb up the ladder.

Additionally, we’ve added a new Rank for our top skilled players. Any player that reaches 5000 MMR will enter the Champions Rank and maintain a leaderboard position. The more MMR you have, the higher your Champions positions. We believe this will help ignite the competitive spirit at the top, and drive our best players to show they are at the top.

Further changes coming to Ranked in Y4S3 bring the focus on improving competitive health, balance, and integrity. The Rank restriction will prevent players with greater than a 1000+ MMR gap from playing with each other as a means to prevent boosting, and the new Ranked map pool will be reduced from 14 to 12. We will be looking at feedback on these changes with the new season to see what tweaks and further improvements can be made.



The leap from Casual to Ranked can be overwhelming due to the stark difference between competitive and casual players in terms of mentality, playstyle, and even personal comfort level. This gap was the driving motivation behind the new Unranked playlist.

The Unranked playlist maintains all the same rules and settings of Ranked, but without the pressure of Ranks, MMR, and importantly, no Rank restrictions. Players can warm up in a more focused environment, create pre-made squads with friends without restriction, and familiarize themselves with Ranked to prepare themselves for the next step up.

Unranked is a new playlist, and we hope it will be the answer to players’ needs. We will be gathering data during this Season to see if we achieve the results we are aiming for!



Finally, information and knowledge is everything in Siege, but sometimes finding that information can be difficult. To better disseminate this wealth of information and to keep our players updated on any and all changes, we’ve made a couple of improvements.

In the Casual Playlist, we’ve enhanced player comprehension by adding the “Locations” screen by allowing players choose their Attack spawn point and highlighting the objective room for Defenders. For Ranked, we’ve created the Ranked Guide which provides Ranked rules, ban policies, the current map pool rotation, information on ranks and rank distribution, and more to prepare and inform players before queuing up for Ranked.

With all the Playlist changes, we feel that they will all contribute to improving player experience, no matter what type of player you are. These changes are by no means the end and we look forward to your continued feedback as we move towards even more improved Playlists.


Stay tuned for more future updates from our Playlist cell!


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What’s New in Minecraft Snapshot 19w37a?

13 Sep 19
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This week’s snapshot for Minecraft 1.15 is 19w37a – with a lot of bug fixes and even more things brought over from Bedrock. This comprehensive video guide will show you all the changes!


New in this version: Mobs: – When breed-able mobs in groups spawn naturally they sometimes spawn babies in the group – Fixed custom mobs and normal vexes dropping equipped items with Looting even if Drop Chances are set to 0 – Fixed mobs picking up items dropping their current item even with drop chance of 0 – Fixed tamed animals no longer teleporting to players properly.


Gameplay: – Boats as fuel now smelt 6 items in a furnace – Campfire can be extinguished with a shovel – Fixed large ferns not dropping seeds – Curse of Vanishing now works for saddles and items on horses, donkeys and llamas – Fixed horse armour occasionally being duplicated when killing a horse with Looting III – Fixed the recipe book rejecting bows with Damage:0 tag when crafting dispensers – Fixed tools from the creative inventory and crafting not having the Damage:0 tag set until relog – Fixed Silk Touch books working like Silk Touch tools – Fixed villagers always ringing bells in the same direction, even if that should not be possible.


Redstone: – Fixed bells activated by redstone always ringing in the same direction, even if that should not be possible – Blocks that can be manually placed on farmland can now also be pushed onto it by a piston without destroying the farmland – Fixed placing wet sponges in the nether not updating redstone.


Worlds: – Fixed chests missing after converting and loading old maps from 1.7.10 – Fixed using portals in older worlds creating a new portal instead of taking you to an existing one – Fixed the new game-rules introduced in snapshot 19w36a defaulting to false in worlds from older versions.


Visuals: – Fixed bee hives filled with honey missing their top and bottom textures – Fixed placing lily pads not having a hand animation in third-person – Fixed the spawn egg ‘use’ animation not being shown when using it on an animal – Fixed arm animation not being executed in certain circumstances – Fixed spawn eggs used on water not displaying a hand animation.


Technical: – Fixed the gamerule fire-Damage being set to false not preventing lava damage – Fixed /data modify modifying player item data despite showing an error message – Fixed ‘/execute store’ modifying player data inside item “tags” of their inventory or Ender-Items – Fixed cloned block containing the same item in memory – enchantments advancement field now only matches enchantments on item itself – it no longer can be used for enchanted books – to match contents enchanted book, use stored_enchantments – Fixed buckets’ CanPlaceOn NBT check being applied to the block behind.


Stability & Performance: – Fixed mobs riding an item frame riding a mob crashing the server when the item frame breaks – Fixed slime and magma cube spawners crashing the game.


From Previous Versions: – The world format now stores biome information in 3D.

Call Of Duty Modern Warefare

Here’s why Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s weapons may feel a little different than you’re used to

13 Aug 19
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Infinity Ward discusses bullet drop and weapon archetype changes

(Image credit: Activision)

In a lot of ways, Activision and Infinity Ward are going back to basics with the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot. Returning characters, classic guns, and none (or way, way less) of the new-age sci-fi nuttiness that’s defined the most recent games. But as Infinity Ward explained in a recent blog post, the new Modern Warfare is also making fundamental changes to the way weapons handle. 

“We were a little less precious with these [weapons] systems,” said multiplayer design director Geoff Smith. “We looked to see what still made sense, and pulled stuff out that we feel didn’t work, even if it made the team uncomfortable. Everybody on the team had pre-conceived notions on what ‘Call of Duty’ is and we had to shake people out of that mindset.” 

Some longstanding weapon types are also receiving a bit of a shake-up. SMGs, for instance, have been high-recoil close-range weapons for years, but as Smith noted, “in reality, they are low-calibre weapons and are easier to control; they’re lower damage, they’re fairly accurate, so we’ve shifted the role of that weapon around.”

At the same time, some of the customisation options coming in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Gunsmith system will give weapons a huge range of, well, ranges. Smith teased that “we have a shotgun that you can make by adding a long-barrel and a sniper scope, making it a sniper shotgun. Or you can modify that same weapon by removing the barrel and stock, and get this snub-nose, super-fast weapon that’s completely different than how you started out.”

Speaking of the multiplayer skill ceiling: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will thankfully have dedicated servers on all platforms.


Call of Duty fans, you can finally rest easy: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will have dedicated servers and support crossplay at launch. According to a Game Informer cover story (via Charlie Intel), Infinity Ward and Activision are confirming that alongside full cross-play support for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, Modern Warfare will feature dedicated servers to ideally help ensure stability at launch and beyond.

Dedicated servers aren’t anything new to Call of Duty, but with the introduction of crossplay support to the franchise with the upcoming Modern Warfare, it’s even more crucial to ensure stable server performance by forking out for dedicated servers. With the pervasive issue of server instability in online competitive gaming, it’s a big relief to hear it’s quickly becoming commonplace for AAA developers to address the issue before it becomes an issue.

As for cross-play, it’ll work similar to Fortnite, where matchmaking is input-based. That means players using controllers will be paired with other controller-users, and mouse & keyboard players will be paired up likewise. As for PC players looking to play with console-based friends, Infinity Ward has come up with a seemingly workable solution; in these situations, teams of mixed input players will be matched with other teams comprised of both mouse & keyboard players and controller players.


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Roblox passes Minecraft and Fortnite as world’s favourite video game

06 Aug 19
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Roblox passes Minecraft and Fortnite as world’s favourite video game

Original story by GameCentral

Monday 5 Aug 2019 9:27 am

Looking like fake Lego is apparently the secret of video game success The most popular console and PC game may be one you’ve never even heard of, as kids’ title Roblox passes 100 million monthly users. Game review: Age Of Wonders: Planetfall is Civilization meets XCOM Back when video games were sold in shops, and that was it, it was pretty easy to tell which was most popular. There were never any sales figures, at least in the UK, but at least it was obvious which was selling the most. Things are much more complicated now but it seems the current number one game might be… Roblox. Many gamers, especially if they don’t have kids, have probably never even heard of Roblox but according to its makers it now has over 100 million monthly users, which is more than the 91 million Minecraft had back in March.


The problem with these figures is that they’re not updated regularly and it’s usually the game makers themselves that provide them, so it’s hard to know exactly how accurate they are. The last one for Fortnite, in September 2018, put it at 78.3 million – which is a completely different number to the number of people that have ever registered to play the game, which stands at around 250 million. In terms of how many are actually playing it right now though, Google search data seemed to show Minecraft passing Fortnite back in June. MORE: GAMING Pokémon Center opening in London this autumn Evo 2019 news round-up: Tekken 7 and King Of Fighters XV, but no Solid Snake Game review: Oxygen Not Included is a deep space survival game At that point Roblox wasn’t even in the picture but then it’s not something most adult gamers know or care about, as it’s a mix of MMO and game creation tool, which features more than 50 million mini-games created by mostly younger players. It’s even less of a traditional game than Minecraft but that’s a large reason for its success, with a userbase that’s 40% female. Half of its players also play with their friends, rather than alone, which also helps to encourage regular play. Whether Roblox really is the most popular game is hard to say, as Pokémon GO claims to be more popular now than at any time since launch, but in terms of console and PC games it seems like Roblox is currently number one.


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Some Streamers Are Boycotting Twitch To Show Support Of The Amazon Prime Day Strike

16 Jul 19
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Nathan GrasonOriginal source by Nathan Grayson

Unless you’ve got the world’s most powerful ad blocker, you’re probably painfully aware that it’s Prime Day, a holiday that Amazon made up because it could. Deals parade naked in the streets and the company hosts glitzy concerts, all to encourage Amazon Prime subscribers to stick around. For the second year in a row, however, some Amazon warehouse workers are striking in the midst of all this; workers in Germany are striking over unfair pay, whereas workers in Minnesota are striking over unsafe working conditions. Amazon owns Twitch, and some streamers are boycotting the streaming platform for the next two days as a show of solidarity. For other streamers, though, the situation isn’t so black and white.

Last year, warehouse workers in Germany, Poland, and Spain chose to strike during Prime Day. Again, this year, Amazon workers in Germany are striking again, and now also, workers at a fulfillment center in Minnesota are joining the strike. “Amazon is going to be telling one story about itself, which is they can ship a Kindle to your house in one day, isn’t that wonderful,” said William Stolz, a Minnesota-based Amazon employee and strike organiser, to Bloomberg. “We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to make that work happen and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.”

Amazon, which is run by the single wealthiest man in the world, finally increased its minimum payment for warehouse workers in the United States to $15 late last year, after painstaking campaigns from workers and pressure from politicians like Bernie Sanders. However, many still feel that the company’s focus on productivity quotas often comes to blows with basic standards of workplace safety. In addition, workers hope to see more temp gigs turn into full-time employment. In addition to the strikes in Minnesota and Germany, protests are taking place in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and locations in Europe.

[Update 7/15/2019, 8:20 PM ET: In an email to Kotaku, an Amazon spokesperson defended the company’s current practices, saying that employee safety is “our number one priority” and that “training is constant, both in making sure employees know how best to work with the technology in the facility and also how to prevent injuries.” The spokesperson also said that “more than 75 percent of associates are already exceeding rate expectations before any changes are considered” and the company supports “people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve.” As for the Minnesota facility specifically, the company says that 90 percent of workers are full-time employees, and over 100 temp workers have been offered full-time jobs this year.]

Meanwhile, on social media platforms, people are encouraging others to steer clear of Amazon-owned products and platforms like Kindle, Audible, Goodreads, IMDB, Whole Foods, Comixology, Amazon Web Services, and Twitch. During this time period, however, Twitch is also running its own Prime Day event titled “Twitch Sells Out,” which may not have been the most amazing naming choice in light of the whole strike thing. Twitch describes Twitch Sells Out as a “shoppertainment-style program” in which popular streamers talk up deals in the ever-fertile fields of gaming, electronics, and of course, “related products.” All of this has sparked a debate about what exactly it means to cross a picket line when the company in question has its fingers in innumerable pies and you’re a contractor on a platform where a couple days of radio silence can be ruinous.

For some Twitch streamers, going dark for the next two days is a no-brainer.

“I think it’s really simple to show solidarity to people who have it hard,” said Adam “Yoman5” Hernandez, a competitive Magic: The Gathering streamer who won’t be streaming for the next two days, in a Twitter DM to Kotaku. “A two-day strike did wonders already over at Polygon, and while that’s a much smaller affair, a strike is really disruptive to the company’s production and can force the company to actually address concerns. A boycott in solidarity with the strike can hit Amazon in the only place they care: sales numbers.”

Josh Boykin, a video game critic who regularly streams on Twitch and who’s planning to host a Tacoma-themed discussion about mega-corporations on his first day back on Twitch later this week, agreed. “Amazon workers have striked many times beyond Prime Day, but taking these two days off in particular helps give more attention to their collective action and is a small way I can help raise awareness to their efforts,” he said to Kotaku in a DM. “I’ve benefited from being on Twitch, but Twitch and Amazon have both taken steps that seem to negatively affect the health and safety of the people that power their ecosystems. Whether it’s streamers experiencing harassment or workers in unfair labour conditions, I think, for those of us who have the ability, it’s worthwhile to take some time and make sure we’re all thinking about these issues and the many others that come with our work.”

“Whether it’s streamers experiencing harassment or workers in unfair labour conditions, I think, for those of us who have the ability, it’s worthwhile to take some time and make sure we’re all thinking about these issues and the many others that come with our work.”
But for some streamers, it’s not so simple. Twitch is a platform designed to funnel people down rabbit holes of near-infinite content by way of pages full of algorithmic recommendations, tags, browsing features that encourage you to look around even while watching other streamers, and more. Twitch viewers can be fickle, seemingly prone to seeking out new entertainment (and retracting valuable subscriptions) when streamers aren’t rigorously sticking to a regular schedule. Two days off may not seem like a lot, but for some streamers who are trying to maintain sustainable viewership’s or even just push for them via things like Twitch’s partner program—which requires an average of 75 concurrent viewers per stream—it’s a bridge too far.

Even though Hernandez is striking himself, he says he gets why not everyone would. “Twitch streamers are independent contractors under Amazon with no guaranteed income,” said Hernandez. “There are drastic negative consequences on that income from taking days off streaming. Even a day or two can really hurt someone’s ability to maintain a following and I don’t think it’s fair to ‘make’ them join the strike. Streaming is not my primary income so I can personally take that step and just delay my usual Monday stream to not coincide with the strike and boycott, but I know the harsh realities of streaming and the compounding effects of a day or two off compared to other jobs.”

It’s worth noting that few top streamers are supporting the boycott, despite almost certainly having the means and bandwidth to do so. A whole host of bigger streamers, meanwhile, are participating in the Twitch Sells Out event. Kotaku reached out to a handful of them to ask if business obligations compelled them to do so in spite of the strike, but did not hear back as of this publishing.

There’s been no small amount of discontent directed at streamers who’ve opted to go live despite the strike. This has led to calls for people to understand where some streamers are coming from.

“If you are participating in the Amazon strike, please please do not punish Twitch streamers for working,” said PinkuShika, an artist who’s streaming today, on Twitter. “Many use it as a platform to earn income to pay rent, bills, and buy food. Most don’t have other sources of steady income, like artists! Taking a break is not an option for some.”

Adam Koebel, a tabletop-focused streamer who often speaks up about workers’ rights, initially expressed this viewpoint in even stronger terms, saying on Twitter that people should “buy shit for cheap today if it makes you happy, or boycott Amazon altogether” and apply a similar approach to Twitch, because ultimately “when we eat our comrades alive for not being left enough,” corporations and other powerful entities win. In a Twitter DM to Kotaku, however, Koebel said that he’d deleted his initial tweet because he realised it came across as flippant. What he was trying to convey, he said, was how Amazon has wormed its way into countless elements of our lives both on- and offline and how that makes expressing solidarity more complex than it might initially seem.

“I think what’s happening is this deep, weird problem where we want to fight back against bad corporate practice (in this case, warehouse worker treatment) and if this were a simpler world, it’d be a case of just supporting the strike directly,” he said. “Because Amazon is so deeply ingrained in our entire internet experience, we’re seeing secondary Amazon services like Twitch, and the independent folks who use those services for a living, being assigned solidarity violations by association.”

Amazon’s domination and the disembowelment of workers ensnared in its many tendrils, Koebel explained, puts everybody involved in a position of precarity, to the point that even a simple strike can be a tenuous proposition. This is good for the company and bad for workers who want more. Solidarity in times of protest is meant to get around these sorts of practices—thus people’s distaste for scabs—but Twitch’s structure makes it uniquely difficult.

“I don’t have an answer about whether it’s ethical or not for any given person to broadcast on Twitch during Prime Day,” Koebel said. “I think it’s a reasonable thing for people to avoid services provided by Amazon in solidarity. I don’t know that it’s the right choice for every broadcaster to risk their livelihood during that same period. I hope people will consider how they criticise one another over it. I made a badly-expressed point, and I’m thankful for the response I got to it and to have the chance to come at it from another angle. Is broadcasting the same as crossing a picket line or buying a new TV during Prime Day? I don’t know that I have a concrete answer.”

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