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Deathero - a mobile roguelike bullethell SHMUP has won the Fan Favorite voting round 12! Congrats to the solo indie developer Savage Studios from USA!

Deat(H)eroes! Enter a dungeon where you are a lone wizard or mage! Fight through endless waves of enemies leveling up and using spells you learn to destroy your opponents. Level up awesome equipment and fight like your undead life depends on it, as the enemies keep on coming! Remember, once you die... all the progress you have gained will disappear, so make your moves wisely!

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Brazilian indie development team Golden Shelves Software takes the win in the 11th Fan Favorite Vote with their 16-bit cat-platformer-adventure Nyanroo the Supercat! Congrats!

"Nyanroo is a new platform game that pays homage to the 16-bit era. Chosen by a magic cloth you must face a gang of evil dogs trying to conquer the world. Gather different abilities with the help of the Power Yarns scattered through the world to slash and pounce your way through 14 stages and 7 amazing bosses."

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Early Pathfinders

When Steve Russell, a student at MIT, created his game Space War back in 1962, it could only play on those room-sized computers that we see in archive footage. Allegedly this is the first video game in history, and it featured combat between two space crafts drawn by simple lines. There were games like the electromechanical Nim (Nimatron) player in the 1940s, OXO in 1952, and Tennis for Two in 1958, which used an oscilloscope to define the ball's position on the screen. Still, Space War is considered the first by most. The first arcade game then, according to many, is Nolan Bushnell's creation called Computer Space from 1971. It already had a soundtrack that accompanied the battle that took place in space. It consisted of explosions, missiles firing, rocket, and thruster engines whirring. In the aftermath, Pong was released in 1972 with its beeping sounds.

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Retro Parody of classic Castlevania games, The Transylvania Adventure of Simon Quest by developer Programancer from US of A has grabbed the crown in the 10th weekly vote for Fan Favorite of GDWC 2021! Congrats! Also big thanks to our nominees and voters!

"The Transylvania Adventure of Simon Quest is a parody/homage to NES ClassicVania and other NES titles from the era. The titular hero, Simon Quest, has just arrived in Transylvania only to discover his vampire hunting rival, Stan Helsing, has already slain the evil Count Dracula. In order to reclaim the glory that should be his, he journeys across Wallachia to gather what he needs to resurrect the dark count piece by piece and kick his ass himself!" Check it out here.

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Introducing Virtual Reality Awards!
We're super excited to announce that we've partnered with the great folks at VRKiwi to expand the GDWC 2021 VR category to the next level, which is the VR Awards! There are two distinct categories in the VR Awards: Best VR Game and Best VR Prototype!

VRKiwi will reward winning teams in both categories with a Publishing Deal and other awesome prizes! More details on the VR Awards page here!

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Retail Royale by DarxDev from Cyprus has won the Fan Favorite Weekly Vote round 9! Congrats to DarxDev! And big thanks to all Nominees and Voters!

Retail Royale is "a 12 player Battle Royale inside an off-brand IKEA store, where everything is a weapon; ranging from guns - to literal couches."

Check it out here!



Runners Up:
Chrome Switcher by Chrome Switcher (USA) - 2nd Place
EchoBlade by Sunset Arctic Games (USA) - 3rd Place

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Console games hit the high note

February 21st, 1986 marked the birth of another legendary release when Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda. It was one of the first games that allowed the player to explore the world on an open-world map. The player had to think of the subsequent actions. The non-linear gameplay of this adventure game unites with Koji Kondo's masterful soundtrack. It consisted of five different tracks, out of which the overworld theme has become an archetypal theme for the whole series. The game in itself has influenced several succeeding RPGs and is a viral contributor to popular culture as well. It was among the first games, where one could save the game progress. Saving is possible because there is a battery inserted inside the cartridge. Ever since saving has become an omnipresent feature in the console and computer games and has evolved to the usage of cloud storage. The Legend of Zelda established the basis from which games like Metroid and Final Fantasy took their inspiration. Kondo's compositions can be heard maybe most famously in Super Mario Bros. 1-3 (1985-1988) as well as The Mysterious Murasame Castle (1986), Shin Onigashima (1987), and Super Mario World (1990). This article focuses primarily on console games and mainly in Japan and has several examples from overseas as well.

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And then there was music

Can you imagine the time that video game consoles had not invaded the living rooms, and you had to go to the arcade hall with a pocket full of coins to clench the hunger for gaming? This is how the games started their journey from the arcades to the home television sets. The development of game music and game sound walked hand in hand with the technology that was available at the given moment. Gradually the development led the games to the cloud servers storing the data and VR sets to be enjoyed in the middle of our apartments while wearing headphones and listening to three-dimensional sound to fully immerse in the gameplay experience. This article concentrates on the development of music for video games mainly in Japan and has American examples as well.

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Terms and lingo

When talking about royalty-free music, it is most important to define the common concepts that are used in the lingo. A musical royalty is a payment that the copyright holders receive for the use of their intellectual property. These can be categorized for example to mechanical, public performance, synchronization, and print music royalties. Mechanical royalties work like royalties in common, where the copyright holder can get a payment whenever a CD is pressed or when the independent digital music streaming service sells their composition. Performance royalties can be collected, when the piece of music is performed, recorded, played, or streamed in front of a live public. Synchronization royalties are received, when the given musical piece is combined with visual content, for example, ads, video games, or commercials. Print music royalties are granted to the composer, whenever the tune is transcribed to sheet music and distributed further. They are paid for each copy of the notes being sold.

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The seventh weekly vote has come to an end and the Winner is Demons of Asteborg by Neofid Studios from France! Congrats to the Winners! And huge thanks to all voters!

Demons Of Asteborg is a new original title for the SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis which will also be released on Nintendo Switch and Steam. Play as Gareth and fight the evil forces of Zadimus!

Check out Demons of Asteborg here!

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The Game Development World Championship (GDWC) 2020 came to a close with the Winners announcement in a live-streamed awards show last Friday, April 30th.

The GDWC 2020 was the biggest in the championship's history with over 1800 participating development teams from over 100 countries. The Pro category alone had over a thousand games submitted making the judges' task of deciding the Top 3 games in each category a very challenging one. After much analysis and discussion, the winners were decided, and here they are.

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History and evolution of Foley

The history of Foley recordings is normally and quite wrongfully traced to Universal Film Studios and a man who worked there, namely Jack Foley. The legend says that he was asked by the producers to make sonic effects for their upcoming silent musical, Show Boat in 1929 and that he created techniques that are in use in modern-day Foley as well. Mostly the sonic landscape consisted of effects, footsteps, and clothes rustling. They did not have an official studio for Foley at that time in Universal, but a structure was built around the talent in order to get better isolation for the material. The first studio dedicated to these added sounds was built by Desilu Studios, which also started to use the name Foley for this artistry.

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Our sixth weekly vote has come to an end and the Winner is Brutal Dinosaur by Animas Games from Chile! Congrats to the Winners! And huge thanks to all voters!

Brutal Dinosaur is a game that mixes two styles of games, beat em up and shooter in a unique way.

Check out Brutal Dinosaur here!



Runners Up:
For Evelyn by Kisuarts (Finland) - 2nd Place
JEI VR by lineindevs (Russia) - 3rd Place
Rest of the Nominees (in alphabetical order)
Artillery Royale by weheartprojects (France)
Heroes Forge: Battlegrounds by Ten Percent Red (Moldova)
One Pixel by Dash Tap Games (Brazil)
Rogue Waves by Diego Rodrigues (Brazil)
Smash Track Drifters by Diego Herrera (United Kingdom)
Swords & Bones by SEEP (Italy)

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Principles and terms

The nodes and ridges in the cartilage of our ears have an evolutionary basis. The sound waves reverberate inside the ear in a certain way depending on from which direction the sound reaches them. The sensation of the volume change is a result of the constructive and destructive interference that happens when the sound reaches the ear. Meaning that different elements of sound reach the ear at different times and the physical structure of the ear dampens or amplifies them in certain ways. The phase of the sound is determined by the path that the sound reached the ear canal. Phase differences and volume changes are different for each direction and also the frequency affects them. Also, head size and head shape are a factor in the differences that are perceived.

When we think of stereophonic audio, it acts as a flat plain of sounds where the 3D simulating distancing has to be made with volume changes, echoes, etc. to create the illusion of the three-dimensional property of the sound-field. In 3D audio, actual monaural or mono sound files are placed in the field of hearing, so that the audible source can be precisely located to a certain point on a sphere-like field. Hence, the sound can appear underneath, above, or from the sides of the player. Monophonic audio acts like a point-like sound source that does not have a wide audible field, like stereo, and can thus be traced accurately in a given array of sounds in a 3D domain.


Ambisonics

The simplest way to describe spatial audio, 3D, or 360 audio, is that it is a way of experiencing sound so that the auditory result is different based on the movements of the head or POV (Point of View), of the spectator. It uses either ambisonics, binaural audio, or modeling algorithms to reach the desired effect. Ambisonics is a multichannel, surround-sound format that allows a full sphere of sound to be heard, so the sound sources can be located also below and above the listener when including as well the traditional horizontal plane of sound as heard in two-channel stereo. It is a three-dimensional sound plane, consisting of three M/S (mid/side) stereo microphone pairs and additionally, it includes different channels for defining height and depth in the sound.


Binaural "dummy head"

The idea behind binaural audio and its recording is that it utilizes two microphones to create a three-dimensional sensation to the listener, hence sounding like being in the same room with the musicians. It is not very functional on a pair of speakers, but rather craves the use of headphones to fully translate to the listener's ears. To record binaural audio, one needs a "dummy head", which is a mannequin head that has a microphone in each ear fitted to it. Such binaural packages are for example Neumann KU-81 and KU-100. This technology can be used to the cinematic and precomposed soundtracks of games, but otherwise, it does not offer as wide applications as 3D software, at least for gaming use. It is used in IMAX movies, to offer the spectators a 3D experience on the audible level.


3D audio effect (modeling algorithm)

When thinking of 360 videos matched with 360 audio, the storytelling that results in that immersive experience can be done mostly on the auditive level. If there are no interesting aspects in the audio, the mere presence of the video tends to bore out the viewer quickly if the auditory cues don't move with the POV, which alternates. If one doesn't want to use any of the aforementioned techniques to create the spatialized audio track, there are a plethora of 360-degree microphones on the market as well in many price ranges.

Playstation 5 and 3D audio

One of the most intriguing examples of three-dimensional audio comes at the moment from console gaming, where Sony's late 2020 release of the next-generation PlayStation 5 also integrated for the players' delight 3D Audio in it. Sony declares that the player is even able to detect individual raindrops landing in the different environments they have created. 3D Audio is a highly immersive format of sound because the player can hear the sounds as if they would be taking place all around one. Thus, it puts the player in the spotlight and adds a greater level of intensity to the gameplay.

In 3D audio, the sound engine uses certain audio algorithms to generate realistic and convincingly natural soundscapes, where one can identify the sounds and their sources very accurately. In their previous PSVR-headset, the sound source replication was limited to 50 sources with acceptable quality, whereas the PS5 raises the bar to hundreds of them and with exceptional quality as well. The sound designers are given much more creative tools to work with when the scenes can now also be built around a highly interactive audio format.

The PS5 technology is object-based, so it means that all sound sources must be recorded in mono to get good audibility for the separate sounds. You can enjoy the three-dimensional audio of PS5 best from headphones at the moment, and Sony has a dedicated and optimized Pulse wireless headset, but other headsets work as well when plugged into the controller which has a headphone jack. They will concentrate first upon delivering the sound to headphones, but speaker system applications are coming up in the future.


Playstation 5

The Tempest Engine is a hardware chip, which is used in the PS5 to process the coordinates of the mono audio input signal into a 3D audio output signal. It uses HRTF or Head-related Transfer Function to decode the way that individual humans' ears receive the sound. The chip and its inbuilt modeling algorithms decode the way that the sound changes in terms of direction and frequency, and takes the aforementioned factors about hearing into consideration as well. With this in mind, it also considers on a true level the directivity of the sound and adjusts to the head movements that the player makes. The audio moves when the player moves the head in a certain direction.

The engine allows this to be done without the need for an expensive surround sound system. There are plans for developing and having the possibility to use over 100 profiles that make it easier to optimize the sound settings. Everybody has an individual HRTF, but these profiles allow us to get quite close at a minimum. The Tempest allows even normal stereo audio to have an added dimensionality to it, according to PS5:s lead architect, Mark Cerny.

PS5 games that include 3D audio are amongst others: Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, Astro's Playroom, Gran Turismo 7, Returnal, Destruction AllStars, Demon's Souls, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Horizon Forbidden West, and Resident Evil Village.

PC and other consoles

Starting with military and industrial projects in 2004 and gradually moving their scope to game audio and consumer electronics, Nahimic (short for N Array Headphone Integrated MICrophone), has since become a market leader in the PC-based gaming industry. The software solves many everyday problems like the comprehensibility of Skype or Zoom calls, dialogs on movies that are streamed from Netflix, or clarify the sound quality of the music played from Spotify. It doesn't either need expensive gear since it can be optimized for any kind of equipment, whether the user has headphones or just a stereo pair of speakers in use. It has won multiple awards with its' design that creates an immersive sound field for 360° video integration.


Nahimic 3

Another solution to create a spatialized sound field is the THX Spatial Audio, which is inbuilt in many gaming laptops, headsets, and smartphones. For the latter, they have even a dedicated app that costs around 20 dollars in their webshop. Natively, also many computers support Dolby Atmos. In Dolby Atmos, height channels are added to the speaker array, so the ear perceives the sounds from these as three-dimensional objects. Released in 2012, this surround sound technology has ever since become a factory standard for the movie industry when many high-end movie theaters have their speaker systems dedicated to producing the sensation of 3D audio. This format is also supported by many smartphones.

Xbox Series X enables gaming in Dolby Atmos (also on Xbox One), DTS:X, or Windows Sonic. In the Series X, there is a headphone implementation of Atmos, so you don't need an audiophile-level audio system to enjoy the immersive audio experience. DTS:X uses a similar technique but summarises the Atmos audio with another immersive format called Auro-3D. Windows Sonic is a free-of-charge headphone optimized spatial sound software that is compatible with Windows 10 upwards. It works on any headphones, so it makes it a cheap solution for adding three-dimensional audio to games.

Nintendo Switch does not support spatial audio, but multichannel surround-like 5.1 systems are supported. This might change with their upcoming console, though.

Apple Spatial Audio

As an answer to the growing interest in immersive audio, Apple has created its own concept. Apple Spatial Audio can be at the moment only enjoyed through AirPods Pro or Max. It supports an array of applications even though it is lacking some of the most popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. The idea is that the accelerometers and gyroscopes, that are found in the AirPods, are used to track the user's head movements in precision. At the same time, the technology is tracking the position of the phone or tablet that you use for watching and hence places the sound in that relation to the screen of the device.

Mixing for 360 Audio

The foundation of spatialized audio and its mixing is that the listener should be able to pinpoint the direction and location of the sound source while listening to the sounds. In 360 audio, there has to be the additional notion of the player's head movements that result in the change of the audible cue.

DAWs or Digital Audio Workstations like ProTools have already support for ambisonic and VR/360 audio in their Ultimate version. There is also a free plugin for audio spatialization called Ambisonic Toolkit (ATK) for Reaper, which is a free low-cost sequencer workstation for Windows and Mac users alike. It even comes with a 60 day free evaluation period. Even Ableton Live has its own free tool for VR, AR, and spatial 3D audio called Envelop for Live or E4L. It can be used already in their second newest release of the DAW, namely Ableton Live 10.


Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation + Pro Tools

Facebook 360 is another interesting addition to the toolkit of immersive audio designers. The software allows one to make spatialized audio to 360 videos and cinematic VR alike, but can only be used on the Pro Tools license. Its plugins are supported by several popular DAWs and it is free of charge. Also the company Gaudio Lab offers many free solutions for different platforms.

In Pro Tools, for example, this can be done with the use of FB360, which has several plugins that automate the output to binaural audio. The user has to import the respective sound files and start to spatialize the points according to the action that takes place in the video. The plugin allows to track the movements in real-time and automates the output, so it is extremely handy in that manner. The FB360 offers a high level of automation of the parameters, although in complex audio processing and spatialization projects also more adjustment is needed to create a natural sounding
environment.

Summary

Three-dimensional audio is increasingly infiltrating into the gaming experience. The gamers want to experience the games on a more immersive level and the leap from the flattened plain of sounds in stereo audio into an environment, where individual audio cues can be tracked to the point of origin is staggering. Also allowing a deeper sense of interaction, where the player is an active explorer of sound sources, one can say that 3D audio is here to stay.


Apple Spatial Audio

Consoles as well as gaming laptops have adopted this audio format very quickly for the gamers' delight and the solutions will continue to advance when the computing power of processor chips is taken to new heights in the upcoming years. The multitude of the different plugins and platforms is striking and thus, a universal format would be needed in the future to add synergy and flow to the processing.

From the sound designer's point of view, spatial audio offers tools to enhance the narrative on the audible level, which is thus an independent and rich layer of storytelling. Mixing for the 360 audio is made relatively easy by many DAW plugins, where the process allows a high level of automation and is easy to get started with.



References

Allen, Jennifer. (2020). What is Windows Sonic for Headphones?. Retrieved from
https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-windows-sonic-for-headphones-4776289.

Ambisonics. (2021). Retrieved April 21, 2021, from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambisonics.

Avid Pro Tools. (2021). Retrieved April 22, 2021, from
https://www.avid.com/pro-tools.

Binaural Recording. (2021). Retrieved April 21, 2021, from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_recording.

Facebook360 Spatial Workstation. (2021). Retrieved April 22, 2021, from
https://facebook360.fb.com/spatial-workstation/.

Gaudio Labs. (2021). Retrieved April 22, 2021, from
https://gaudiolab.com/.

Hernandez, Robert. (2016). Spatial audio: How to record for VR. Retrieved from
https://medium.com/@webjournalist/spatial-audio-how-to-hear-in-vr-10914a41f4ca.

Kaye, Kieran., (2017). WTF Is VR and Spatial Audio? Mixing for 360 Audio. Retrieved from
https://flypaper.soundfly.com/produce/wtf-vr-and-spatial-audio-mixing-360-audio/.

Kirn, Peter. (2018). Free Tools for Live Unlock 3D Spatial Audio, VR, AR. Retrieved from
https://www.ableton.com/en/blog/free-tools-live-unlock-3d-spatial-audio-vr-ar/.

Parsons, Tom., (2020). Apple spatial audio: what is it? How do you get it?. Retrieved from
https://www.whathifi.com/advice/what-is-apple-spatial-audio.

Reaper by Cockos. (2021). Retrieved April 22, 2021, from
https://www.reaper.fm/.

Pictures:

Picture 1. Ambisonics. Retrieved from https://new.steinberg.net/nuendo/virtual-reality/.
Picture 2. Binaural "dummy head". Retrieved from https://en-de.neumann.com/ku-100.
Picture 3. 3D audio effect. Retrieved from https://www.wikiwand.com/en/3D_audio_effect.
Picture 4. Playstation 5. Retrieved from https://www.playstation.com/fi-fi/ps5/.
Picture 5. Nahimic 3. Retrieved from https://www.nahimic.com/gamers/.
Picture 6. Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation + Pro Tools. Retrieved from https://facebook360.fb.com/2017/10/18/spatial-workstation-pro-tools-hd-12-8-2/.
Picture 7. Apple Spatial Audio. Retrieved from https://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2020/09/apple-patent-reveals-their-work-on-a-spatial-3d-audio-engine-that-will-take-vr-gaming-to-the-next-level.html.

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Our fifth weekly vote has come to an end and the Winner is Miska's Cave by SoulFlee from USA! Congrats to the Winners! And huge thanks to all voters!

Miska's Cave is an action-centric side scroller with strategic components and animated with pixel art. Play as Miska, the inexperienced rabbit who wishes to conquer the cave.

Check out Miska's Cave here!



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Adaptive Music

What is it?

To fully understand the spectrum of adaptive music one must additionally consider the concepts of interactive music and dynamic music. For a musical piece for games to be fully interactive, it has to include a way for the player to involve in active control or participation in the system that is designed to be reactive. In other words, the player's input actively changes the output of the musical piece. This means that it is necessary to distinguish between three forms and degrees of interaction in music, namely: reactive, adaptive, and fully interactive. When the music is merely reactive, the music plays in a similar fashion and without variance every time that the player commits a non-musical action in a certain way. The simplest form of this style can be found in early games like Final Fantasy or Super Mario Bros., in which the music fades out and in between two scenes, worlds or levels. Dynamical soundtracks adjust their volume to the other game sounds and effects.

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Fifth round of weekly votes is here! Now is the time to show how much you love good games! Check out the Nominees below and spread your love by voting!

As always, the winner of the Weekly Vote will move on to the Final Vote on the Fan Favorite category at the end of the GDWC 2021!

Check out the Nominees:



16-Bit Soccer
Sprakelsoft, Germany
Vote here!

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Our fourth weekly vote has come to an end and the Winner is Blue Fire by Robi Studios from Argentina! Congrats to the Winners! And huge thanks to all voters!

Blue Fire is a dark and tough third-person action-adventure game with a big focus on 3D platforming and exploration, set in a perished fantasy land that hides many secrets.

Check out Blue Fire here!



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Fourth round of weekly votes has arrived! Once again nine awesome games are up for vote! Check out the Nominees below and vote for your favorite!

As always, the winner of the Weekly Vote will move on to the Final Vote on the Fan Favorite category at the end of the GDWC 2021!

Check out the Nominees:



Rust Racers
Nethash Games, Sweden
Vote here!

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Our third weekly vote has come to an end and the Winner is Sword of the Necromancer by Grimorio of Games from Spain! Congrats to the Winners! And huge thanks to all voters! The raffle winners will be contacted directly by the GDWC Team.

Sword of the Necromancer is a dungeon-crawler action RPG with Rogue-like elements where you can revive your defeated enemies to make them fight alongside you.

Check out Sword of the Necromancer here!

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Our 2nd Game Jam is well underway and the first games have started to roll in!⁠

There are still two days to go until the submission deadline, so start finalizing your games! We are waiting eagerly to see how you implemented the theme.

Check out the jam here⁠.

Good luck!

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Our second weekly vote has come to an end and the Winner is Beyond Mankind: The Awakening by Brytenwalda Studios from Spain! Congrats to the Winners! And huge thanks to all voters! The raffle winners will be contacted directly by the GDWC Team.

Beyond Mankind: The Awakening is a single-player action RPG that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. You will be part of H.O.P.E., an elite military unit at the vanguard of a war to recover Earth.

Check out Beyond Mankind: The Awakening here!

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