Nintendo Articles

Our exclusive editorials about the 3DS and its games, as well as Nintendo as a whole.

Why the Firewatch Devs Takedown of PewDiePie’s Videos Should Terrify Journalists and Creators

Over the last few years, PewDiePie has become an increasingly controversial presence in the world of gaming. As one of the most popular YouTubers in history, he’s always been a polarising figure, but his recent actions have sparked off quite a bit of offense across the board. Like when he hired people on Fiverr to say ‘death to Jews’ to ‘test’ what desperate lengths people would go to make money. Or for generally using slurs and offensive language in his videos.

So, when PewDiePie was caught using the n word on stream, Firewatch developers Campo Santo had decided they’d had enough. They said they were annoyed PewDiePie was making money off their game, deciding to then DMCA strike his videos on the game in retaliation. Here’s their tweets confirming it:

As well as PewDiePie’s response video to the situation:

It’s certainly an interesting solution to the ‘problem’ of PewDiePie making money from Firewatch videos.

But at the same time, it’s also an horrific one that should terrify YouTube creators and journalists.

Why? Because it basically says a game’s developers can wreck your YouTube channel based on nothing more than a personal grudge.

And that should absolutely horrify anyone working in the world of video game journalism. Sure, PewDiePie may have crossed a line here. He may have said some words he shouldn’t have, or made videos with anti-Semitic themes. It’s understandable to be angry there.

But copyright strikes against his videos are not the answer. The way the Firewatch devs have responded opens the door to far worse abuse. It opens the way to abuse by sleazy or immoral game developers worldwide.

Think about it. While Campo Santo may have objected to PewDiePie’s actions relating to racial slurs, other developers may instead object to creators merely attacking them on social media. Or perhaps having different political views. Being fans of different consoles.

In other words, they’ve just told everyone that “hey, now you can take down a Let’s Play/video based on purely on a personal dislike of its creator”.

And well, can you imagine what it’d be like if this became the norm?

Imagine if a developer decided they don’t like Democrats or Republicans and would copyright strike any Let’s Play of their game by someone with said political views. Would that be okay?

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Going Outside the Boundaries in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

As you know, we’re a big fan of a YouTube series called Boundary Break. This series (hosted by a YouTuber called Shesez) goes into detail about what goes on outside of boundaries of various game worlds, by messing around with the camera to take it out of bounds. It’s a great series, and one you should definitely check out if you’re interested.

However, one game Shesez won’t be covering yet is the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. There’s interest in it sure. But no one’s hacked the camera yet, let alone provided a way to setup zoom outs or see what’s outside of the world’s boundaries.

Yet just because that doesn’t exist means we can’t study it! Because while we don’t have a nice convenient magic camera mod, we do have glitches to go out of bounds!

So here’s our take on the game, complete with answers to all your questions about what happens outside of the game world and how it’s been set up on a technical level.

Starting with the Akkala Citadel, the giant fortress underneath the Akkala Sheikah Tower. As you may know, there’s a door you can’t ever open there, part of which seems blocked off by dirt.

So… what’s behind it here? Does it lead to a super-secret dungeon or something?

Hah no. Just empty space I’m afraid. Like so many other unusable doors in video games, it’s merely painted on the wall with no real effect on the game itself.

Inside the Akkala Citadel

And the same also goes for the shed behind Link’s House. It’s never opened in game, so the developers never really rendered a room inside it. Why bother with something the player never has access to (legitimately) anyway?

Inside Link's Shed

That said, there are a surprising amount of areas where the game does work exactly as you’d expect with no trickery. Take Hyrule Castle for instance. It’s all too easy to assume the inside and outside are separate maps that don’t match up to one another. Or that the final boss arena is on a separate one entirely.

But no, that’s not the case. As anything who’s clipped inside the building walls knows, the entirety of Hyrule Castle exists in game exactly as it appears to the player, with all rooms and passages being connected into a logical way. Heck, even the final boss arena genuinely is underneath the Sanctum, and will load in as you make your way down to it.

That’s impressive given how easy it’d be to do everything the ‘cheap’ way.

Same with the final boss battle. As people who’ve used the final boss escape glitch have found out, the whole world exists in the final battle. Albeit, minus static NPCs, Guardians and enemies that aren’t randomly generated:

And this level of effort continues with the world outside of the boundaries. Why?

Because in a lot of games, the levels or worlds don’t really continue much past their visible edges. Instead, you’ve got a few trees, a bit of land or a few decorations (sort of like a hedgerow on a motorway). It’s very clear in Shesez’s videos.

This is not the case in Breath of the Wild. Instead, the world continues for miles past the boundaries, with what appears to be everything from rivers to mountains and whole mazes lying outside of the world’s end. Really, it’s insane.

So why is this the case?

Well let me explain. Basically, a lot of game developers like to store objects they’re using to build a world or level off to the side. By doing this, they can then copy and paste them to insert level geometry instead of having to go piece by piece.

And that seems to be the case in Breath of the Wild. Everything from Divine Beast placements to bits of the landscape is kept outside of the world so the game’s creators can add them to Hyrule at their leisure. It’s pretty neat really.

Talking of Divine Beasts, you may wonder what’s outside those as well. In that case, I have some bad news for you.

Basically, the Divine Beasts you encounter on the overworld are not the same as the dungeons you explore. The former are mostly static objects (albeit ones with a surprising level of detail), whereas the latter are maps located entirely outside of Hyrule itself. You can see this by looking at MrCheeze’s object map, where the likes of the Vah Nabooris boss is ‘RemainsElectric’, the mostly decorative version is ‘RemainsElectric_Far’ and the actual Divine Beast dungeon is nowhere to be seen.

Which means you can’t leave one except via the map. The land around them isn’t solid.

So we haven’t found a way to go outside the Divine Beast dungeon boundaries yet. The game voids you out the minute you fall off rather than just dumping you back on the overworld.

Additionally, it also means you can’t reach the Divine Beasts early, since at best they’re not accessible from the outside (no working load points to the interior) and at worst they’re not solid at all, like the version of Vah Medoh seen flying above Rito Village:

Vah Ruta also has a shield, but that’s because it’s easy to reach. The others are just impossible to get close to.

The separate map thing also explains what’s outside of shrines and the Trial of the Sword. For the former you’ve got an endless blue void, and for the latter you’ve got a giant alternate world with all the floors located in different parts of it. Hence in theory you could literally walk from floor 1 of the Trial of the Sword right to the last one, assuming you had a way to go through the walls.

This was presumably done to save space. Why have 45 different ‘maps’ when one can do?

Still, there is one interesting detail outside of the shrine boundaries in the game. Namely, the tests of strength have giant empty rooms underneath them:

Under a Test of Strength

Yeah, I don’t know what they’re for either. They’re not where the Guardian Scout is stored, since people have made it into the pit before the battle:

And they’re never accessed in normal gameplay either. Maybe they’re where the Monk goes between watching people get killed by the Guardian Scout? Or the tea room for the machine itself?

There’s really no answer here. Nothing in the battle uses this giant empty space.

Additionally, you’ll also notice above that the Guardian Scout doesn’t actually appear in the pit until the cutscene plays.

Not sure why that’s the case. Still, it does let you land in an empty pit and reappear next to a boss, so that’s something.

Moving on from shrines now, one thing a few people may be wondering is what happens in the springs or other areas where shrines are not currently accessible. Are the shrines always behind the doors? Do they exist underground before you activate them?

Well, the answer to those problems is ‘sometimes’ and ‘usually not’.

For the former, it really depends on exactly what doors you’re talking about. In the springs, the shrines actually don’t appear until the doors open, so clipping through with merely mark the non-existent shrine on your map and display its name in an empty room:

Whereas going through one of the snowball opened doors in the Hebra region will always lead you to a working shrine. Because those ones are always loaded, regardless of whether the door is open:

So why is like this? Why the disparities here?

The answer is because of the Sheikah Sensor. Put simply, the game doesn’t want the Sheikah Sensor to go off when you reach a spring, since it spoils the surprise of what’s behind the door (even if everyone’s probably figured out the obvious answer here).

As a result, the shrines aren’t loaded. To stop the sensor spoiling the surprise.

At the same time however, the snow doors in Hebra are NOT meant to be a surprise. So, it does load it early, as to tell you there’s a shrine nearby without spoiling where exactly said shrine can be found. Same goes with the one behind a cracked wall in the Hebra plunge area. Or the ones behind bombable walls elsewhere in the world.

If the challenge is finding a shrine, it’ll be loaded in early. If the challenge is uncovering a mystery, it won’t be.

As for underground ones?

They don’t load in early. Well, at least as far as I can tell. Again, it’s so the Sheikah Sensor doesn’t go off when you’re standing above where the shrine loads in, which would spoil the ‘surprise’ and clue people into the shrine quest inevitably found nearby.

However, there’s one weird exception here. Namely, the shrine you need to open with lightning. For whatever reason, that one always does load in. To the point the reset glitch would bring back the mound around it…

No idea why it’s an exception, but it is.

Either way, the tactic of not loading in things you’re not supposed to know about yet continues through much of the game. Yunobo doesn’t appear in the Northern Mine until you activate the Divine Beast Rudania quest. The Yiga guards don’t appear in the hideout until you speak to Riju (the door is also locked before then as well). Teba doesn’t appear at the Flight Range until you speak to both the elder and his wife.

In other words, almost every attempt at ‘skipping ahead’ will fail miserably here. The game is incredibly well prepared for almost every ‘trick’ the player may throw at it.

Still, back to the Yiga Clan thing now. Remember when you fought Master Kohga? Did you ever wonder where exactly that pit went?

Well if so, wonder no more! Because thanks to the good old out of bounds glitch, we’ve traced the pit all the way to the bottom, finding that it ends with what appears to be a spiky floor floating above water:

Underneath Bottomless Pit

It’s… a pretty long fall, and you’ll void out instantly if you get too close to it from out of bounds, but it’s interesting to see quite how far beneath the floor it goes on for.

And that’s also true of a fair few other objects in the game. Those Sheikah Towers go down a long way for example:

Underneath Sheikah Tower

Whereas things like trees and poles stick into the floor a fair bit too:

Underground Trees

Presumably this is for convenience sake, since it means the developers can stick the objects on a slope without them appearing to be cut off along the bottom.

Speaking of stuff going below the floor, you might be wondering where the Stal enemies come from at night. Do they really come up through the floor as it appears in game?

Well to cut a short story even shorter… yes. They appear (as a complete model) about 4-6 feet below the floor, then burst through the ground with the usual animation. The opposite happens when they dig back into the ground, like when it’s nearing sunset or they can’t find Link:

Stal enemy burrows back down

Similarly, while we’re on that subject, you may be wondering what’s underneath Hyrule in general. What would you see if you fell through the floor while exploring?
Water. Or a bottomless pit depending on where you are in the world.

That’s because the entirety of the game world is either above water or a pit depending on how far north you are. Are you close to the north or west edges?

If so, it’s a bottomless pit that’s down there, which acts exactly like falling off the edge of the world would.

Elsewhere though (like even beneath the desert), you’ve basically got an endless ocean instead. Why is this?

Well, I think it’s because a lot of games use ‘water’ as a fall back for when the player ends up outside the world map.

And they do this because water limits how far a player can go or fall, depending on the game and its mechanics. For example, in the Mario Kart series it acts as a trigger for Lakitu to put you back in bounds near where you fell off, whereas falling into a non-descript pit may instead cause the game to freak out and plonk you back on the start line

In Zelda on the other hand, it basically acts as a way to force you to get back in bounds sooner rather than later. What do I mean by this?

I mean that because you run out of stamina if you swim too far, the game has a quick way to respawn you back on dry land later. This provides the player with a get out clause if they fall beneath the world (like the bottomless pit does up north), and prevents a softlock situation if the player ends up falling out of bounds while still on the Great Plateau without a Sheikah Slate.

That said, it’s not completely deserted down there. Occasionally you’ll find half a mountain underneath the floor, with certain areas having land you can walk on. Other times you’ll see weird ‘waterfalls’ with screwed up physics, invisible floors or even invisible combinations of slopes and ledges that seem like they were meant to be an earlier version of the world geometry.

It’s also got a few things you can’t normally see. Like these flowers mysteriously placed underneath the floor of the Yiga Clan Hideout:

Mystery Flowers

Or the bottom to the lake the Gerudo Tower happens to rest in:

Underneath Gerudo Tower

So yeah, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this look at what’s going on outside of the game’s boundaries in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, and I hope Shesez takes some of this into consideration for his video when it finally goes online.

Post your thoughts on the article in the comments below or on the Gaming Latest forums today!

Let’s Interview; Gaming’s Watchdog SidAlpha!

Over the last few years or so, we’ve seen a rise in questionable practices in the gaming industry. There’s the increase in microtransactions and real money spending, which often introduces a gambling element to the games it included in. There’s the situation on Steam and the app stores where quality has mostly fallen off a cliff and asset flips reign supreme.

Add people involved in making games either attacking their audience, suing critics or trying to take down videos about games featuring their music andyou’ve got a situation where consumer advocates are needed more than ever.

Which is where SidAlpha comes in. A YouTuber with a large following of 50,000 subscribers and growing, his channel basically exists to discuss both the admirable and sleazy tactics of game developers and industry folk alike, covering such topics as the recent Alex Mauer takedowns and the Shadow of War controversy with aplomb.

And we’ve gotten to speak to him for an exclusive interview! So, if you’re interested in his channel, video games on Steam or his opinion on games as a whole, keep reading!

Let’s start with the usual personal story first. Who are you as a person, outside of the world of video games?

Who I am is really no one special when it comes to “meatspace”. I’m a father of a 13-year-old girl, I work as a Project Lead for an IT Consulting Firm, and I live out in the boonies in the northwest. To be honest, I would probably be one of the more uninteresting people you might meet due to the work schedule I deal with. I typically work 12-14 hours per day plus being a single father on top of it. That doesn’t leave much time for excitement.

And how did you get started with them anyway? What was your first console generation?

My first console generation that I ever played on was actually the Atari 2600. Although even way back then I was still a PC Gamer at heart and I enjoyed playing games on our Commodore 64 much more. With games like Archon and Archon 2 being my favorites when my lifespan was still in the single-digits.

Archon 1

Archon 2

Were there any games then you thought were really amazing?

Well, I was between 4 and 9 years old, but probably the games I thought were the most “amazing” were Moon Patrol and Defender. I was also quite good at a game that was called “Asteroids”. Once, I ended up going on a tear and seemed like I just could not fail. My dad and his brothers were so excited watching me burn through the game that they kept me up so late so I could keep playing that I literally passed out mid-game. I used to find it hilarious to see 4 grown men shouting and cheering while watching a little kid destroy a video game and now I look on eSports and think there really wasn’t much difference.

Moon Patrol Screenshot

How about terrible ones that probably could have gotten a video about them had they been released on Steam?

All of them. You have to remember that games back then were actually exceptionally basic and were fairly terrible. Many people are nostalgic over them, but the vast majority of them would not hold water or even compare to today’s standards.

Either way, you’re most known for your YouTube channel and videos on Steam developers/games. How did you get started with that?

I’ve always been a person with strong opinions and I had actually planned on starting up a YouTube channel for a few years. After watching people like Angry Joe, Totalbiscuit, Nostalgia Critic, and a few others, I really resonated with the idea of consumer awareness and consumer protection. What with all of the excesses that we’ve seen within the Triple-A Games Industry, I really had a lot to say but usually I would just rant to my friends. They were the ones who told me that I should start a YouTube channel, but that could very well have been just so I would quit pestering them all the time about it all as I’m really the only core Gamer in my circle of friends.

How I got started was more on a whim. I had used my Christmas bonus to build myself an actual Gaming rig that January and I decided that, now that I was earning enough money from my day job, I could afford the equipment necessary. So, on a whim I ended up spending far more than I needed to on recording equipment to be able to get started. The decision to start my own channel to first video recorded took all of a week to complete once I started moving on it.

What about the name? Why SidAlpha?

The name SidAlpha was actually a combination of corniness and probably way too much Irish whiskey. Even though my legal first name is Sidney, I’ve been called Richie for longer than I can remember. The Sid part in SidAlpha actually isn’t a reference to me, but my father. His name is Sid as well, and with most children I’ve seen my dad as one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. I’ve also been a fan of history and from that I borrowed the idea of the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. And I’ve also ascribed to the idea of “Knowledge is power” and there is never a more effective consumer than one that is well informed. So, the SidAlpha name is essentially “Beginning of strength” within the context of consumer information and awareness.

I know, it is extremely corny, but like I said… Irish whiskey was involved.

Similarly, what about the music? Why did you choose that song for your video intros?

The intro was actually developed by a designer in Greenland that I purchased on Fiverr. The music came with it. I used it as I wanted my channel to have a bit more of a professional feel but every time I’d attempted to change it was met with resistance, so now it’s just become a part of my channel’s identity.

What about the general content? What made you want to create videos about dodgy Steam developers and ripoffs in gaming?

That was a slow evolution and it mostly came from the fact that I can’t stand the idea of someone enriching themselves unjustly at the expense of others. I think part of that also spawns from my being so terrifically poor for most of my life, that I have an overinflated importance on how valuable money is.

Also, I’ve seen how hard some of these Indie Developers work and it frustrates me to no end to see an Indie game that I KNOW in my heart of hearts is a good game get lost in the shuffle in the midst of asset flips and shady devs posting garbage games that take attention away from those games that legitimately deserve to be seen and merely promoting those good games are not enough. Those others need to be drug out into the light to be shown for what they are so people don’t waste their money on them and instead are better able to go find a game worthy of their hard-earned money.

I knew it was a gamble to go that route. Many people said “Stick with the triple A’s. No one cares about the Indie games. They’re a dime a dozen.” But to my mind, a lot more good could be accomplished within the Indie scene and I didn’t care about how famous or not famous I got. It was about my passion for games and my desire to help inform those that would wish it. Even if I influenced 1 person, that would be enough for me.

Were there any influences there? People like Jim Sterling have made videos on similar topics before…

There are a LOT of influences there. Angry Joe, Totalbiscuit, Jim Sterling, and Nostalgia Critic would be the biggest ones. And while I know that there have been others to cover these topics before… and probably better… I still feel I have something to contribute to the conversation. While those others have been heavy influences on my own content and style, I have still maintained my own voice and method of relating things. From Angry Joe, I remember to not always take things too seriously, which is something I do tend to fall prey to. From TB, I learned that more often than not, the loudest voice in the room tends to be the calmest and most well-reasoned. If you have something important to say, you don’t need to shout. Because if you do, the ones you are shouting at most likely still won’t listen regardless. From Jim, I learned that it’s ok to have an ego from time to time. Just remember what you are doing and why you are doing it. And then from both Nostalgia critic and TB I learned what it was to break something down and analyze it effectively.

I try to learn something from other successful YouTubers in order to make myself and my content better, but at the end of the day it’s still about the message and the information. People cannot make informed decisions with an absence of information and we have learned we cannot trust the vast majority of traditional Games Journalists. I intend to set my own example in that regard.

Out of all the games and developers you covered, which ones were the worst/most sleazy and why?

Oh wow, there are so many. I would think Dokey and Dalas of Fur Fun to be the worst outside of Digital Homicide. They issued large numbers of spurious DMCA strikes, issued review code only to later revoke those keys when the reviewer said something they didn’t like, mass forum bans and thread deletions… not to mention that Dalas is himself a YouTuber who weaponized his audience in a variety of ways… To post positive reviews of a crap game in exchange for game keys, to downvote negative reviews, and to flood his game forums in order to further drown out fair critique.

How about the least? Which of your ‘Diamond Devs’ subjects were the best?

The one that stuck out in my mind was Stardrop. That one actually started because the developer himself emailed me to ask my advice and my opinion as he was mortally terrified that people would label his game an asset flip because he did make use of pre-bought assets. I found the game itself to be charming and the voice acting quite well done. I was excited to be able to present the game before it even went into Early Access and I look forward to the finished product. The fact of the matter is, he cared so much about his game that he sought out a random YouTuber because of the content they had discussed and he wanted to be certain people wouldn’t judge his game sight-unseen. That is the level of heart that I see in so many Indie Developers and it is those exact types of people, those that are invested in their project and talented enough to see it through, that brings me the greatest amount of pride in being able to raise awareness of.

Why do so many developers and companies respond so poorly to criticism anyway? Almost every few months we get another developer torpedoing their own reputation over a DMCA threat or review take down…

It really speaks to the type of personality of those that engage in those behaviors. It is ultimately born of a self-centered and selfish desire for profit above all else. You have to remember, the vast majority of those people never had a reputation to begin with and they rail against anything that will cost them money. They have no passion for gaming, they have no talent for it nor any desire to produce anything worthwhile. This isn’t about the game for them, it’s just a means towards easy money.

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