Tag Archives: Point

Talking Point: Are There Too Many Harvest Moon-Likes On The Market?

This is my new game, "FrankenFarm"
This is my new game, “FrankenFarm”

Ova Magica. Monster Harvest. Coral Island. Castaway Paradise. Kitaria Fables. Littlewood.

No, those aren’t the potential titles for my upcoming heavy metal album – those are just a few of the recently-announced, released, or funded farming games I can think of, and that’s far from all of them. They all have something in common: they’re all two-word titles (er, except Littlewood), and they all take their inspiration from Harvest Moon. More precisely, many of them take inspiration from Stardew Valley, which, in turn, takes its inspiration from Harvest Moon. The farming game genealogy gets increasingly more confusing by the day.

Cash Cow

Yes, you. You're my cash cow.
Yes, you. You’re my cash cow. (Image: Lauryn Hammett)

It’s not hard to understand one of the driving purposes behind this bumper crop of farming games. Stardew Valley made, at a conservative estimate, a buttload of money for its sole developer Eric Barone, AKA ConcernedApe. Who can blame other developers and studios for wanting to get in on that giant cash mountain? For many of these developers, that gamble is already paying off, in the example of Coral Island wrapping up their Kickstarter with $ 1.6 million raised. That’s enough money to buy an actual farm.

Stardew Valley made, at a conservative estimate, a buttload of money for its sole developer Eric Barone.

Of course, that’s a pretty cynical way of looking at it, even if it is true. There are many reasons that a developer might want to put their stake in the farming game genre – it’s a cult favourite, after all, and you might be surprised to hear that many developers actually enjoy playing games themselves. Why not attempt to perfect a genre that you love more than anything? Why not make an entry into the oeuvre that adds everything you’ve ever wanted to see in a farming simulator?

Now, I don’t mean to be disparaging by calling these games “Harvest Moon-likes” (or, as Rock Paper Shotgun calls them, “Stardewbuts” – Stardewbut on the moon, Stardewbut it’s about cats). Many of these games have a lot to offer beyond their shared genesis, and although some are just straight-up ripoffs, like Warm Village on Steam, I’m not talking about them, because they’re bad and boring. I’m talking about the games that take the seed of the farming game idea and expand on it. In fact, that’s exactly why they exist: much like Stardew Valley, they see a gap in the market that’s being ignored by the seven-out-of-ten Story of Seasons games and the absolutely dreadful modern Harvest Moon games.

Maybe that gap is having better romanceable characters; maybe it’s a better selection of animals to care for; maybe it’s a different setting altogether. Many of the spinoff games address various elephants in the room: the Harvest Moon games have never been particularly diverse, and although some of them include same-sex marriage, it hasn’t been in there from the start.

Agri-Cultural Relevance

Stardew Valley's interpretation of office work is perhaps a little on-the-nose, but it's also not totally wrong
Stardew Valley’s interpretation of office work is perhaps a little on-the-nose, but it’s also not totally wrong (Image: ConcernedApe)

We’ve already covered the psychology of why people love these games, but there’s often a more personal reason for making and loving these games, too. Yasuhiro Wada, creator of the Harvest Moon series, first made the game when he was inspired by his own transition from city life to country life, and that theme has not only carried through to many of its spinoffs and inspired-bys, but has even been expanded on for the modern era.

Stardew Valley is all about the threat of corporations on small, rural towns – a very real threat in America, where Barone is from – and its effect can be seen mostly in getting to known Shane, one of the game’s characters, who works for Joja Co. His depression is a very real side-effect of the fictionalised, soul-draining company that pollutes Stardew Valley’s rivers and oceans; one of the game’s goals is to destroy the company’s Joja Mart outlet by investing in the community instead. In an age where we are divorced from the sources of our food by various middlemen, and working in offices behind computer screens, returning to the farm and building a community is a pastoral dream.

Real farms don't use neat little squares, but farming games almost always do. I'm not complaining; it's easier that way

Real farms don't use neat little squares, but farming games almost always do. I'm not complaining; it's easier that wayReal farms don't use neat little squares, but farming games almost always do. I'm not complaining; it's easier that way

Real farms don’t use neat little squares, but farming games almost always do. I’m not complaining; it’s easier that way

But, five years on from Stardew Valley’s fresh take on the 25-year-old genre of small-town farming and life simulators, we’re beginning to see a theme common to the games industry: people are attempting to ape ConcernedApe. Whenever there’s a success story, its splash sends out ripples that eventually coalesce into games about… three to five years later. It takes a while to make a game, you know?

The wealth of battle royale games is a great example of this: it began with 2000 movie Battle Royale, reached fever pitch with the hugely successful Hunger Games, and eventually spawned the similarly successful PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – and the rest is history, with games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, Tetris 99, and the like. In fact, around three to five years from now, expect a slew of Among Us-likes to flood the market. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Flooding The Field

This one is actually Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, but would you know if I didn't tell you?
This one is actually Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, but would you know if I didn’t tell you?

But all of these merely attempts to answer the “why” of all these Harvest Moon-likes, not the question in the title: Are there too many?

I’ll certainly never criticise an open market for game developers, and if this is what sells, then that’s exactly how markets work. Not to mention that I, personally, am exactly the target demographic for all these games, and you may have noticed how much I write about them, too. But where does it end? How do I know which games are worth my time and which games are cynical cash-grabs when they all look so darn similar?

My Time At Portia is one of the earlier examples of Stardewbuts; its sequel, My Time At Sandrock, earned over $  500k on Kickstarter
My Time At Portia is one of the earlier examples of Stardewbuts; its sequel, My Time At Sandrock, earned over $ 500k on Kickstarter

Here’s where you come in, folks: do you find this open market full of farming games exciting, or do you feel like you’re being lured in by the promise of recreating an experience you’ve already had, only to be disappointed? Do you feel like people are cashing in on someone else’s success, or do you welcome the new perspectives of others? Perhaps you, like us, wish that these other Stardewbuts would somehow reflect back on the Story of Seasons series itself, encouraging new and creative ideas instead of the same old ones with a fresh coat of paint?

As always, we love to hear your thoughts on the matter – and there’s a big empty box down there for you to write to us. Go wild!

Does AstraZeneca vaccine actually PREVENT blood clots? Experts point at bombshell stats

The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has been rolled out to millions of people across the world in recent months, with the vaccine widely praised for its efficacy. However, in recent weeks several European countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, pending investigations into whether the vaccine causes blood clots.
Cases of blood clots in vaccine recipients have been a rare occurrence among the millions of people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Some 30 cases of blood clots had been reported to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) by March 10, among almost five million people vaccinated.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that in the UK leading up until February 28, it had received 30 reports of blood clots in people who had the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

While investigations are ongoing, several countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, including France, Germany, Italy and Denmark.

However, the MHRA and World Health Organization have said the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of side effects and AstraZeneca vaccine rollout continues in the UK.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement: “For the moment, based on the evidence reviewed to date by the EMA, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.”

READ MORE: Arthritis symptoms: Three signs in your eyes to watch out for

“The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”

Several experts have highlighted on Twitter how blood clots are a natural occurrence in the general population and the cases reported in vaccine recipients are not necessarily linked to the vaccine.

Referring to the EMA’s report of 30 “thromboembolic events”, David Spiegelhalter said in an article for the Guardian: “We can try a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation.

“Deep vein thromboses (DVTs) happen to around one person per 1,000 each year, and probably more in the older population being vaccinated.

“Working on the basis of these figures, out of five million people getting vaccinated, we would expect significantly more than 5,000 DVTs a year, or at least 100 every week. So it is not at all surprising that there have been 30 reports.”

Sir Michael Marmot of the UCL Institute Health Equity tweeted in response to David Spiegelhalter’s article on the topic: “Interesting. there are fewer DVTs among recipients of the vaccine than you would expect by chance.”

Former GP Charles West also replied on Twitter: “It would be more logical to suggest that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine prevents blood clots.

“Has there been deliberate rumour-mongering here?”

Interestingly in the UK, the MHRA said that in the UK leading up until February 28, it had received 30 reports of blood clots in people who had the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and 38 reports associated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The MHRA said more than 11 million doses of AstraZeneca had been given in the UK so far.

A statement said: “Such reports are not proven side effects of the vaccine. Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon.”

Blood clots have been reported as a symptom in people who have Covid-19 and experts have suggested there is a greater risk of blood clots developing in people infected with Covid than those who are vaccinated against the virus.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said “the risk of developing blood clots from Covid far, far exceeds any potential risk from the vaccination.”

Bye-bye, Dubai: Tennis great Roger Federer cancels tour plans again after blowing match point to lose to world no.42 at Qatar Open

Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer has withdrawn from a tournament after seeing his comeback event end prematurely at the Qatar Open, squandering a set lead and a match point to lose against Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Taking part in his first tournament in 14 months, the 39-year-old lost his quarter-final match to the world number 42 6-3, 1-6, 5-7 in one hour and 50 minutes.

Basilashvili turned out to be a resiliently tough opponent for Federer, saving seven out of 10 break points, including a match point at 4-5 in the decisive set.

Federer’s unexpected loss was not the only upset for his devoted fans, as the two-time Grand Slam winner swiftly announced his withdrawal from next week’s ATP 500 event in Dubai.

It’s been great to be back on the ATP Tour,” the beloved veteran wrote on Twitter. “I loved every minute playing in Doha once again.

A big thank you to the best and loyal team that helped me get here. I’ve decided it’s best to go back to training and, as a result, I’ve decided to withdraw from Dubai next week.”

Elsewhere in Doha, Russian stars Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev reached the doubles final by beating Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin.

The in-form duo recovered from 4-1 down in the second set and saved two set points at 5-4 to clinch a 7-6, 7-6 victory.

They will face Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald in the final, who sent home top-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3, 6-4 in their semi-final match.
Also on rt.com Russian tennis star Rublev stands to scoop $ 103,070 by playing just two games in Qatar – as legend Federer finally returns (VIDEO)


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Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition Available Today on Xbox

Look, we get it. You’re a pro hospital administrator. You can whip a healthcare institution into shape at a moment’s notice. Queues of people line up in an orderly fashion to be seen by your top docs, who successfully diagnose them in mere seconds before sending them for successful cures.

You, my friend, are a tippity-top, total heathcare hero. You’re a champ. You’re the best in the biz. You’re certainly better than the administrator described in our last Xbox Wire article.

But have you considered aliens?

Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition

You know, aliens. The grey things? The ones with the eyes? The ones that are pouring through your hospital doors as we speak? Oh, my sweet summer child. If you haven’t dealt with aliens, you haven’t seen the half of it.

And what about your hospitals out in the sticks? Do you have an ecological vibe on the go? Are you planting carrots, for goodness sake? Are you successfully monitoring power use? Are you dealing with the political ambitions of an ecological megalomaniac? Or are you just consuming power & chucking out CO2 to your heart’s content? And I thought you were a doctor. A champ.

You know, maybe I need to look at you again. Maybe you need to look at yourself. Or maybe you need to check out the Close Encounters and Off the Grid expansions for Two Point Hospital, which are fortuitously included in Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition.

Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition

Tell me more, Mr…

Well, OK then. As you wish.

First up, let’s delve into the world of Close Encounters. Harrison Wolf, Two Point County’s intrepid local DJ, has thoughts. Thoughts of a conspiracy that is wrapping itself around the town of Goldpan. This town has recently seen a fireball streaking above its sandy climes, and not everyone thinks it’s a natural phenomenon. No, you see, Harrison thinks it’s aliens.

But it goes deeper. So much deeper. What if the town of Goldpan was just a façade? What if, deeper behind the scenes, somewhere behind a murky curtain, there was a military base, teeming with aliens? What if they are already here, walking among us? What if you, for some reason, have to build a hospital here?

Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition

My goodness. What if?

Slip across the map of Two Point County, though, and you’ll find yourself somewhere different entirely. The sand dunes part and are replaced by a lush and verdant landscape of trees, and oxygen and, blimey, hope! This is the setting of the Off the Grid expansion.

Hope, you see, because the local politician, Tabitha Windsock, has a dream. A dream that’s green. A green dream. She’s building an eco-city with her name on it, and she needs your help to cure the people in her constituency so that they can remain healthy, keep voting for her, and, of course, keep paying taxes.

Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition

You’ll encounter wild ailments like Hare Brained, Root Snoot and Bodily Druids, as well as the troubling-sounding Flappy Hamper, in your quest to cure the county.

But it doesn’t end there, because the Jumbo Edition also includes earlier DLCs like Bigfoot (help an eccentric billionaire who just so happens to be a Yeti manage his snowy healthcare resort / castle), and Pebberley Island (help explorer Wiggy Silverbottom blaze a sterilized trail through the tropics in a quest for the fountain of eternal life).

Not only that, but if you’re like me, someone who likes to place lamps and rugs down at arbitrary angles for hours on end to please your patients, you’ll get a real kick out of the two included item packs – the Retro Items Pack and the Exhibition Items Pack.

Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition

Retro brings to the fore some mighty props of yesteryear, like pinball machines, ducks to hang on your wall, old televisions, gramophones and more. I love placing them all down in my staff rooms! Not only that, but you’ll get an interactive photo booth, an emu ride and more.

The Exhibition Items Pack is an exploration of the nuance of sculptural art. Take in such seminal works as “keys on a podium,” and a large pig. Place an orrery down in your lobby and become transfixed by the motion of the celestial bodies. You know what? Just stick a whole flippin’ dinosaur skeleton in your lobby while you’re at it.

We know you’re going to have a blast with this stuff and can’t wait for you to get stuck in! Please check out the Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition today on the Xbox Store and tell all your friends. Or else we’ll send the aliens after you.

Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition

Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition

Xbox Live

Xbox Live

Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition

SEGA Europe Ltd

☆☆☆☆☆ 24
$ 39.99 $ 31.99
With over 3 million happy players, find out why Two Point Hospital is a healthcare phenomenon! Take your hospital-building business experience to the next level, with four huge expansions and two additional DLCs, all bundled into an extraordinary Jumbo Edition that’s bursting at the seams with LOADS OF STUFF! The best-value bundle yet! Jam-packed with new content that new and old players alike will love! Includes the base game + four premium expansions + two item packs. Traverse the vast reaches of Two Point County, with 27 hospitals in a variety of areas – from the snowy lands of the Bigfoot DLC, to the tropical climes of Pebberley Island. Includes over 189 bizarre illnesses, a huge array of cure machines bursting with personality, and loads and loads of items to place in your hospitals! Includes: Bigfoot, Pebberley Island, Close Encounters and Off the Grid full expansions, plus the Retro Items Pack and Exhibition Items Pack. About Two Point Hospital Build, cure and improve! Design and build your own hospital! Build up a hospital from nothing to a masterpiece as you design the most beautiful – or functional – healthcare operation in the whole of Two Point County. Optimise your hospital design to increase patient (and cash) flow, arranging corridors, rooms and waiting areas to your exact specifications. Expand your hospital to multiple buildings as you look to get as many patients through the door as possible. Place decorative and functional items around your hospital to improve its prestige, lower patient boredom, increase happiness and keep those end of year awards flowing in. Cure unusual illnesses! Don’t expect Two Point County to be populated with your usual types of patients. In this world, you’ll experience all kinds of unusual illnesses; from Light-headedness to Cubism – each requiring their very own special type of treatment machine. Diagnose illnesses, build the right rooms to handle them, hire the right staff, and then get ready, because curing just one of these illnesses is just the beginning. Once you’ve conquered an illness, research improved cures and machines and turn your hospital into an unstoppable healthcare juggernaut. Your first hospital is where it begins, but what next?

Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition Upgrade

Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition Upgrade

Xbox Live

Xbox Live

Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition Upgrade

SEGA Europe Ltd

Upgrade your version of Two Point Hospital to the JUMBO Edition and bag yourself loads of new Two Point Hospital goodness! For the first time on console, wade into a huge selection of fan-favourite Two Point Hospital content in the JUMBO Edition Upgrade and extend your experience to new areas of Two Point County. As well as new hospitals, you’ll face whole new illnesses (each more ridiculous than the last!), and of course, the unusual cure machines to match – as well as a selection of new gameplay challenges along the way. Included in the JUMBO Edition Upgrade: – Two Point Hospital: Close Encounters DLC Take on the mysteries of the towns surrounding Chasm 24, a secret military base that some suspect may be more than meets the eye! Includes 3 new hospitals, 11 new visual illnesses (34 new illnesses in total), new gameplay, new music, new DJ/tannoy lines and a whole bunch of new placeable items. – Two Point Hospital: Off the Grid DLC Go into the wild! Tabitha Windsock, Two Point County’s ever-present mayor, has put rivers and forests back on the map. She’s got morals, integrity and, above all else, a cloying desperation to stay in office. Adds another 3 hospitals, 35 new illnesses, and bags of new items as well as new music, DJ lines and tannoy announcer lines. – The Retro Items Pack Turn back the clock with this delightful collection of 26 new retro and vintage items to place in your hospitals (the more flamboyant sitters will find themselves at home with the Peacock Chair!) – The Exhibition Items Pack 30 new items to place in your hospital ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Or, actually, on closer inspection, the ridiculous to the ridiculous. From placeable wall art to entire fossilised dinosaurs, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition Upgrade – More hospitals, more cures, more fun!

Craig Laycock, Brand Director, Two Point Studios