Aaa Games Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Aaa Games RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Gone Rogue: 7 Developers Who Left AAA to Create Their Own Games https://www.gameskinny.com/biuyf/gone-rogue-7-developers-who-left-aaa-to-create-their-own-games https://www.gameskinny.com/biuyf/gone-rogue-7-developers-who-left-aaa-to-create-their-own-games Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:14:36 -0500 Allison M Reilly

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/i/g/mighty-aaae5.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/i/g/mighty-aaae5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"177778","description":"

A career in game development doesn't have to start with indie games and move up toward the AAA games. It can go the other way around, or touch upon a little bit of every type of game. These seven developers show that if you have the drive and the talent, you can make any type of game you want. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/f57a6ffa9332b1945d4f4eaa535cfdce.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/f57a6ffa9332b1945d4f4eaa535cfdce.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11814","description":"

David Goldfarb

\n

Goldfarb is best known as game director for Payday 2 and lead designer for Battlefield 3. He announced in 2014 he was leaving Overkill Software. He founded indie development studio The Outsiders, which is currently working on Project Wight, an action-adventure taking place in an alternative history. In Project Wight, players will play as creatures who are being decimated out of existence by humans. The creatures crawl on all fours, have the ability to soar through the air, and fight with teeth and claws. The game doesn't have a release date yet but is slated for a PC-first release.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/a/w/lawbreakers-65454.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/a/w/lawbreakers-65454.jpg","type":"slide","id":"177776","description":"

Cliff Bleszinski

\n

Bleszinski spent two decades at Epic Games, serving as design director for Gears of War. Bleszinski is also one of the few video game designers who've been profiled by The New Yorker and has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. He's primarily known for his work on one game, but incredible work on an even more incredible game.

\n

Nonetheless, he left all that to start Boss Key Productions and launch LawBreakers, a multiplayer first-person shooter. Though the game opened with positive reviews, the title is currently suffering from a lack of active players.

\n

LawBreakers is available on Steam for $29.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/u/house-dying-sun-e256f.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/u/house-dying-sun-e256f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"177775","description":"

Mike Tipul

\n

Tipul was one of many developers at Bungie who worked on Destiny to make the switch to indie games. His indie title from Marauder Interactive, House of the Dying Sun, is a tactical space shooter with VR capabilities. The game was long in the making, first showcased in 2012 before it was finally released in November 2016.

\n

House of the Dying Sun is available on Steam for $19.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/o/p/e/open-bar-game-8ba67.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/o/p/e/open-bar-game-8ba67.jpg","type":"slide","id":"177774","description":"

Maxime Beaudoin

\n

Beaudoin was a software architect for Ubisoft who worked on games big and small, including Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Surf's Up, and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. He called it quits and in 2015 founded indie developer Gingear Studio with his girlfriend, Julie Lortie-Pelletier. Gingear has one mobile title to its name, a cocktail-themed puzzler called Open Bar. Beaudoin explained in a 2016 blog post why he left Ubisoft and finally made the leap to indie game development.

\n

Open Bar is available on both the App Store for $2.99 and Google Play for free.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/d/o/m/dominations-indie-mobile-0c5e2.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/d/o/m/dominations-indie-mobile-0c5e2.jpg","type":"slide","id":"177773","description":"

Brian Reynolds

\n

Reynolds has worked on several great titles during his career. Civilization II, Alpha Centauri, Rise of Nations, and Frontierville are among them. After leaving Zynga in 2013, he revived Big Huge Games (which developed Rise of Nations) as SecretNewCo to create the mobile combat strategy game DomiNations. SecretNewCo took the Big Huge Games name back in 2013, when the state of Rhode Island auctioned off the rights. Big Huge Games was acquired by South Korean game developer Nexon in 2016.

\n

DomiNations is free to play on both the App Store and Google Play.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/926083f86e75a56d1b4ca863cfe6d8a3.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/926083f86e75a56d1b4ca863cfe6d8a3.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"11813","description":"

Evan Rogers

\n

Rogers, the chief gameplay programmer of What Remains of Edith Finch, has been hard at work on a new game called Legendary Gary. Slated for a PC release some time early this year, Legendary Gary follows an avid gamer named Gary. Gary is trying to balance gaming with real life like any gamer, but as elements of the fantasy game he's playing gradually show up in his real life, things just get complicated.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/i/g/mighty-indie-22a1e.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/i/g/mighty-indie-22a1e.jpg","type":"slide","id":"177771","description":"

Keiji Inafune

\n

For nearly 20 years, Inafune was a producer and illustrator at Capcom, working on hit titles such as Street Fighter and the Mega Man series. He left Capcom to start his own game development studio Comcept. Although not the only game to come out of Comcept, the studio is best known for Mighty No. 9, a spiritual successor to the Mega Man series. Mighty No. 9 received mix reviews at best. As for Comcept, the studio was acquired by Level-5 in June 2017.

\n

Mighty No. 9 is available on Steam for $19.99.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/o/i/going-rogue-indie-games-8172c.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/o/i/going-rogue-indie-games-8172c.png","type":"slide","id":"177770","description":"

Working for a giant, well-known, international brand isn't for everyone, even if the job entails developing some of the best and most popular video games. Working on someone else's game is not the same as working on your own game, and many talented developers went on to do just that. Here are seven developers who went rogue, leaving awesome AAA projects to create their own game.

"}]]]>
6 Of The Worst AAA Game Titles https://www.gameskinny.com/mucv2/6-of-the-worst-aaa-game-titles https://www.gameskinny.com/mucv2/6-of-the-worst-aaa-game-titles Fri, 29 Dec 2017 10:00:01 -0500 ReadyPlayerPaige

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-29174.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-29174.jpg","type":"slide","id":"175696","description":"

6. The Sims 4

\n

Yet another series going down for the count. Usually, The Sims games were highly praised for the gameplay simulation, customization, and interesting activities in the game. However, as much as SimCity deserves to be on this list for numerous reasons, including their DRM policy, The Sims 4 has now over thrown SimCity as the worst of the worst AAA game title in the Sims series. What made this game such a major pain to gamers were the inability to save their game data, lots of glitches and bugs, and the removal of some of the things that made the Sims games very popular. EA sure does know how to take a great series and destroy its legacy.

\n

---

\n

Which other AAA game title was the worst to you? Post your comments below, and thanks for reading.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/e/need-for-speed-payback-deluxe-edition-two-column-ps4-31may17-49805.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/e/need-for-speed-payback-deluxe-edition-two-column-ps4-31may17-49805.png","type":"slide","id":"175695","description":"

5. Need For Speed: Packback

\n

EA's Need for Speed series was highly praised for its unique graphics, beautiful cars, and unbelievable city environments. Unfortunately, the series has now suffered due to EA's lack of direction, which is causing infamous rage among the gaming community. Need for Speed: Payback was a highly anticipated game that led to a major letdown, especially since they now include micro-transactions and free-to-play loot systems in the game. Let's not forget the terrible story mode and characters or the fact that there's no free-roaming cops as well. Gamers were outraged by this, wondering why EA has butchered what was once a great series. Truly, there is no wonder why people have now dubbed EA as one of the worst gaming companies ever.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/n/tony-hawk-00e72.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/t/o/n/tony-hawk-00e72.jpg","type":"slide","id":"175685","description":"

4.Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5

\n

The old saying goes for skateboarders, "If you fall off your board, you get back on." That is what this series was trying to do with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5. After the events of Ride and Shred, the series had fallen on its face, and Activision was trying to get it back on its feet. Unfortunately, the fifth game in the Pro Skater series failed to capture the magic of the four games before it. Gamers felt that it was too buggy to play, a glitched mess, there weren't enough inspiring activities to do in the game. As this might be a final nail in the coffin for the series, it's not too late to get this series back on its feet and skate once again.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/e/a/header-a653d.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/e/a/header-a653d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"175684","description":"

3. No Man's Sky

\n

No Man's Sky had so much promise, and it was well-regarded by so many people before its release. So what happened? Sean Murray promised so many features for the game, but those promises were nothing but hype with false advertisement. The game was to be a massive multiplayer game where players could interact with other players in an open-world environment. However, the game had a lack of variety in gameplay, uninteresting environments, and poor optimization on the PC ports. A high-priced game of $60 drove gamers to return their games for refunds because of its broken promises. A low score of 2.9 on Metacritic and a 5/10 on Steam really speak clearly about this game.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-38715.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-38715.jpg","type":"slide","id":"175680","description":"

2. Star Wars: Battlefront 2

\n

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was highly anticipated, badly executed -- much like the first Battlefront game, which should be on this list as well. There is no doubt this game should belong on this list, for the most part due to the controversy surrounding it. Not to mention the things that lack in the game, like the single-player campaign and taking over 40+ hours to unlock Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. One of the of the most controversial things about the game is the loot boxes, which some have compared to gambling. EA's trying to mitigate the major backlash, but the damage is already done. The game had a user score of 0.9 on Metacritic, and EA lost $3 billion because of this issue.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/f/r/i/friday-13th-game-4901b.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/f/r/i/friday-13th-game-4901b.jpg","type":"slide","id":"175676","description":"

1. Friday the 13th: The Game

\n

Sometimes games that are crowdfunded have a 50-50 chance to be successful. Fortunately, Friday the 13th was a successful campaign due to unique features like having the ability to not only play as a victim in a multiplayer environment but also as Jason himself -- and you can do multiple environmental kills in the game. Unfortunately, the game lacks in a couple of areas, and when the highly anticipated title was finally released, it looked very unfinished. It might not be the worst, but it was truly disappointing.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/9/0/190okkp1qk8ofjpg-6c13e.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/9/0/190okkp1qk8ofjpg-6c13e.jpg","type":"slide","id":"175675","description":"

So what exactly is a "AAA" game title? It's basically a highly anticipated game with massive hype surrounding it, with high marketing and production. Some games hit the mark because they are well received by critics and gamers alike. Unfortunately, some games don't due to lack of direction, development issues, and other unfortunate errors. So, lets take a look at 6 Of the worst AAA games out there.

"}]]]>
How Indie Devs Are Filling the Platforming Void https://www.gameskinny.com/eeg5b/how-indie-devs-are-filling-the-platforming-void https://www.gameskinny.com/eeg5b/how-indie-devs-are-filling-the-platforming-void Sun, 16 Apr 2017 14:37:06 -0400 Dan Roemer

The platforming genre -- outside of Nintendo's offerings -- has fallen from the mainstream as of late, but thankfully we have indie developers filling that much needed void. So much so that in recent years we've seen some of the best the genre has to offer thanks to the indie scene. Today I'll be breaking down my favorite sub-genres of platformers and what indie games within these genres truly stand out and that you should check out!

Puzzle Platformers

Braid

 

The puzzle platforming genre is more alive than ever thanks to the indie-scene, with incredible games such as Jonathan Blow's Braid released back in 2008, originally for the Xbox360. From its time manipulation mechanic based puzzles and platforming, to the odd obscure story and the many different unique worlds with their own time manipulation rules, Braid is one of the best puzzle platformers of all time.

And really, it's a beautiful example of how indie developers are taking old tricks and making them new -- keeping the platforming genre alive, well, and diversified. 

Inside

 

2016's INSIDE, from developer Playdead, has an incredibly haunting atmosphere. This game is a testament to what a platformer can achieve in terms of horror, puzzle solving, and environmental storytelling. It's not hard to see why puzzle platformers are alive and well thanks to indie developers like Playdead. Garnering an overwhelmingly positive rating on Steam, INSIDE is also on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Hardcore, Challenging Platformers

Indies have also given us platformers that will simply kick your ass and possibly make you destroy a controller or two. Harkening back to the days of the arcade quarter munchers, you will absolutely die in these games, but you'll still keep coming back for more punishment because of their addictive nature.

Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy, from developer Team Meat, is without a doubt one of the most challenging platformers out there. Whenever you die (which will be a lot), you'll know it's purely your fault. Why? Because the controls are dead-on precise, making every move you make not only intuitive but highly reactive. Stack over 300 levels on top of that, and you'll end up dying a hell of a lot and keep coming back for more.

N++

 

If you thought 300 levels was insane, N++ from developer Metanet Software features well over 2000 levels.

The N series started off as a flash game released back in 2005, which you can play and download here for free. I remember sinking countless hours into it in the public library of my high school during lunch hours and talking with my friends about how far we could get in each episode. 

I'm proud to say N++ was one of the games I was excited for when I originally bought my PlayStation 4; it's also available on PC now as well. With the endless levels, competitive local multiplayer, local co-op, and a level creator with an active community. N++ is the accumulation of over 11 years of work for developer Metanet Software, and it clearly shows.

Pure 2D Platformers

By “pure” I mean basic in design, or games that take inspiration from titles that made the genre what it is today. Games such as Mario, Sonic, Mega-Man, Donkey Kong, etc., would fit into this category. Once again the indie scene has absolutely given us games that take us back to the platforming roots of the 80s and 90s.

Freedom Planet

 

Prior to the upcoming release of Sonic Mania, it almost seemed like we'd never get a tried and true return to form to the original 2D Sonic games of the early 1990s. Some could say we did get Sonic the Hedgehog 4 -- but I'd say that was more of a dumpster fire than an actual return to form.

But the indie developer GalaxyTrail filled that void for many with Freedom Planet.

Successfully Kickstarted and released in 2014 for PC and just last month for the PlayStation 4 in North America, Freedom Planet contains the loops, speed, and boss fights you'll remember from the original Sonic games and the high octane of platformers of years past. The name itself is inspired by the 90s Sonic OVA movie in which the main setting was called “Planet Freedom."

In fact, the game itself started off as just another Sonic fan game, but the developers wanted to give the game its identity; which is exactly what they achieved.

Shovel Knight

 

From developer Yacht Club Games comes Shovel Knight -- probably one of the most iconic indie platformers of all time. It has been released on just about everything, from the Nintendo Switch to the PC. And chances are that if you have a console made after 2005, you can play Shovel Knight on it, which you should. 

Shovel Knight takes modern design cues from the Dark Souls series while taking heavy inspiration from Mega-Man and Castlevania. With an incredible soundtrack, challenging but not unfair level design, a unique life sytem, bright, vibrant retro stylized visuals, and free DLC that expands the game even further, Shovel Knight is an indie platformer that needs to be played by everyone who wants to experience what 1980s platformers were like in their heyday.

3D Platformers

Unless it's Mario, Sonic, or Ratchet and Clank, the heyday of 3D AAA platformers seems to have come and gone (unless you're Snake Pass!). However, the indie scene is also just now budding with potential for quality 3D platformers. And although I still feel we haven't fully reached the heights of what the other sub-genres have accomplished, there are still some great games out there. 

Yooka-Laylee

 

Developer Playtonic Games successfully kickstarted and released Yooka-Laylee only a couple of days ago, with the Switch version right around the corner. Despite the mixed reviews it's been receiving -- and not being exactly indie -- I think it's an important step in the direction of filling the void for 3D platformers from the indie-scene and shows what a non-AAA company can do within the platforming genre. 

Playtonic Games, for those who don't know, is made up of former RARE employees, and Yooka-Laylee itself is a throwback to the 3D collect-a-thon' platformers of old -- especially in terms of design. Running on the Unity engine and featuring a soundtrack from none other than Grant Kirkhope, I think it's a game that Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie fans are really going to appreciate.

Poi

 

Coming from developer Polykid and released on Steam earlier this year, Poi is another game that hearkens back to the N64 era of 3D platformers. But more specifically, it is heavily inspired by 3D Mario games in terms of design, including more recent games like Super Mario Galaxy.

In Poi you collect medallions that act the same way the stars do in the 3D Mario titles. It's a bit lacking in polish overall, but if you're a fan of 3D Mario games and need something to fill the void until Super Mario Odyssey this December -- then I can't recommend it enough.

---

So as you can see, if you're a platforming nut and looking new, innovative platformers to sink your teeth into, the indie scene is ripe with casual and hardcore offerings to satisfy your every need. 

From 2D platformers to 3D platformers, indie devs are easily filling the platforming void left by AAA developers. 

But what do you guys think, what are some of your favorite indie platformers? Let us know the comments below and for everything platforming and indie related, stay tuned to GameSkinny!

]]>
Should Video Games Be Criticised for Not Holding the Player's Hand? https://www.gameskinny.com/d5u42/should-video-games-be-criticised-for-not-holding-the-players-hand https://www.gameskinny.com/d5u42/should-video-games-be-criticised-for-not-holding-the-players-hand Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Damien Smith

Over the past decade, gamers have become ever more dependent on video games telling them how they are played and what to do. For those few occasional games that don't, it often leads to heavy criticism and an equally as heavy deduction in review scores. But should those video games that don't hold a player's hand but really criticised for it?

To get the answer to that question we must take a look at the way video games used to be, how they are now and the society of then compared to the modern that we live in.

How it used to be

Due to the limitations of hardware memory limits back in the early 90s, having fully detailed step by step tutorials in games was not possible. Instead, controls, backstory and details on how the mechanics of a game worked were found in its manual that came with it.

This resulting in the games themselves never holding the player's hand, forcing them to either read the manual or figure things out for themselves. More often than not the player would press on and figure the answer on their own, to stop playing the game and read a manual is boring after all.

Ishar: Legend of the Fortress, Ishar

While it resulted in the player possibly struggling to come to grips with the game at first, without on-screen tutorials, it didn't slow down the gameplay in any shape or form. It also means that if the player already had a fair idea how the game worked, they didn't have to go through tedious mandatory tutorials.

It was a time where the internet was in its most primitive stage, a time the answer to any question wasn't just a click away. If you were perhaps stuck in a game, you couldn't just look up the solution. You either had to figure it out or have a friend help you if they knew the answer.

What exactly is my point you are probably wondering? Allow me to reply to that with a question of my own, were games criticised for not having on-screen tutorials and instructions then? The answer to that is no and that is the point I am attempting to make with this segment of this article.

Little Big Adventure, LBA

Society and how people acted were very different back then. If they came across an obstacle, they overcame it generally using their own intellect or methods of problem-solving. Today, however, things are quite the opposite.

The way it is today

Video games today are quite the opposite to what they used to be. Practically every single game you play, has on-screen instructions being shoved in your face left, right and centre. It doesn't matter if you are a veteran of the genre or not, the game will still give instructions and quite frankly, it really pisses me off.

I don't mind receiving instructions on a game that has a never before seen mechanic or gameplay. But for those that offer a similar experience to dozens of other games, there should at least be a bloody option to turn off the tutorials. Most of the time there isn't.

Minecraft, creativerse

Now, you might be thinking I am being a petty by saying all this but I have a reason for it. In the society that we live in, we have become so accustomed to getting every answer we need with a simple click be it through a computer or mobile phone, that we don't even think for ourselves anymore.

When was the last time you came across an obstacle you couldn't figure out and didn't immediately look up the answer on the internet? I beg it has been a damn long time and I am just as guilty of this myself. The point I am making is, that when a game doesn't explain everything to the last detail, people get very upset about it.

This is because every answer we seek is at our fingertips at all times. Some games are designed to be vague and purposely don't tell you every little thing you need to understand them. But is that reason to hate it?

Alien Shooter

Don't hate a game because it doesn't tell you everything

My bitterness and reason for this topic come from the general response to the video game Knock Knock and others similar to it. The general players and professional critics alike mostly hated the game for the reason that it doesn't hold your hand.

But that is the point of the game and its character. You are playing as and receiving advice from a character who is near insane. Imagine having a discussion with such an individual. Do you think their words would be crystal clear in showing what they are attempting to explain? Of course not.

And that is exactly what the developer did and they got heavily criticised for it. Am I just a frustrated fan who's beloved game got a heavy beating and decided to have a rant about it? No. I am not. What I am doing is pointing out the principle of the matter and that is something shouldn't be hated because it doesn't give you the answers in a crystal clear manner.

f.e.a.r, fear, 2

We have become so used to having all the answers to our questions in an instant that as soon as something appears that doesn't give us the answers we want, we tear it apart. If it isn't understood or you don't agree with it, destroy it. It is the way of modern society, yet not a good philosophy to live on.

Some of the most intriguing things and instigation of discussion come from the those that we cannot explain. So why can't video games that don't explain everything be treated with the same respect?

My answer to the original question of should video games be criticised for not holding the player's hand, is simply no, they shouldn't. Some games are simply designed that way for a reason. Sometimes it is to fit in with the world the game is set in others it is just to have a game the way it used to be.

Either way, a game should never be criticised simply because it doesn't hold your hand. After all, as adults we haven't gotten to where we are, having our hand held our entire lives. So why should we act any differently, when it comes to video games?

]]>
Anew: The Distant Light -- An Intriguing 2D Adventure From Industry Veterans Coming To Kickstarter https://www.gameskinny.com/9aonc/anew-the-distant-light-an-intriguing-2d-adventure-from-industry-veterans-coming-to-kickstarter https://www.gameskinny.com/9aonc/anew-the-distant-light-an-intriguing-2d-adventure-from-industry-veterans-coming-to-kickstarter Fri, 10 Feb 2017 04:58:19 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

Anew: The Distant Light is a 2D Action-Adventure Metroidvania exploration game planned to launch soon on Kickstarter.

The game revolves around the mysterious story of a child who walks up on an alien planet 20 light years from Earth, who must battle and puzzle his way through a hostile alien environment in order to "carry out a mission of critical importance."

And we're quite interested to learn what that mission is.

According to the game's official Kickstarter page. Anew: The Distant Light will feature a variety of different weapons and gear that are meant to each switch-up the gameplay, and all weapons can be upgraded in order to customize your own personal playstyle.

Anew will follow a classic Metroidvania structure, where the player will unlock new parts of the world as they discover new gear and abilities and grow in strength. This will in turn create new gameplay opportunities when revisiting previous areas.

The environments will also feature a day-to-night cycle, featuring varying atmospheric conditions and weather effects. These will affect the way in which you play the game more than just visibly passing time.

The game will include a hub-world in the form of the ship that you traveled to the alien planet on. As you explore the world, you will find and collect power cells, which will allow you to unlock more rooms inside the ship and increase gameplay options. Players can also pilot giant mechs, shuttles, and tanks as the explore the world, which all open up new combat and explorations possibilities.

The gradually unlocked spaceship hub.

The Kickstarter page also claims that it's, "inspired by classic games like Metroid, Cave Story, and Dark Souls, Anew: The Distant Light will appeal to fans of platforming, combat, exploration, and visual storytelling."

The game is being developed by the newly formed small team of Resonator Games, consisting of veterans of the AAA gaming industry veterans including Jeff Spoonhower, Steve Copeland, and Wilbert Roget II.

The logo for Resonator Games.

Collectively, Resonator members Jeff Spoonhower and Steve Copeland have worked in various positions from animation to gameplay and sound design at a number of high-end AAA developers such as EA, BioWare, Sony Computer Entertainment, Deep Silver, and 2K. Their work includes contributions to the development of Bioshock 2, Borderlands 2, Saints Row 1-4, Spec Ops: The Line, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. 

The composer at Resonator games, Wilbert Roget II, is a veteran to the industry as well, and has created music for Monkey Island 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. 

While only a few tracks have been made available to the public so far, what has been shared so far has been quite impressive. The music can range from massively oppressive and action-oriented to calm and emotional, and from the official trailer it seems as though it will be thematically appropriate.

If you're curious about the soundtrack, you can here one of the game's tracks by clicking here.

The last thing to mention must of course be the art style. Resonator Games sought to give Anew a very distinct, and wholly alien aesthetic, and it seems that they have succeeded. The entire game was not just hand-drawn, but apparently "hand-painted" by Jeff Spoonhower, and it shows.

Every environment is loaded with detail, each of them distinct in their atmosphere and setting, as well as a different yet appropriate choices of color-palette, and all of them clearly falling under the same "alien" style that the team was hoping for.  

 A dim and desolate forest-like area.

 A cozy and curious family living room.

 A deadly and sun-baked cavernous location.

Based on what we've seen so far, Anew: The Distant Light looks like a standout member among Kickstarter games, especially with so many 2D competitors in that department. It's a gorgeous, mysterious, and deep-looking adventure that you very well may want to keep your eye on.

Anew: The Distant Light will launch it's campaign on Kickstarter on Tuesday, February 14th, 8 AM Eastern Standard Time.

The game currently has target release date of July 2018 on PC.

You can watch the Kickstarter trailer for Anew: The Distant Light down below:

(Access to the early Kickstarter page and press kit provided by Resonator Games.)

]]>
The Best Indie and AA Studios Made up of Ex-AAA Developers https://www.gameskinny.com/1u10h/the-best-indie-and-aa-studios-made-up-of-ex-aaa-developers https://www.gameskinny.com/1u10h/the-best-indie-and-aa-studios-made-up-of-ex-aaa-developers Tue, 08 Nov 2016 08:22:59 -0500 Aaron Grincewicz

As employee testimonials will often verify, working for a game company can be a dream job. The fun work atmosphere, free games, and benefits can often make the majority of employees happy. However, these jobs often require sacrifices involving one's personal life, and in many cases, creative freedom.

To a creative person, having freedom to realize your vision can be the most important aspect of a job. When that freedom is reduced, or diminished in any way, it can be the breaking point for some people. No matter how good the pay is, or how successful the games are, opinions are often prioritized. Of course, there are factors other than creative freedom, like administration, management, and financial issues.

Work can be a lot of fun, until it’s not

If you follow game industry news, you’ll occasionally see stories about great developers and creators leaving a very successful company. Not long after their departure a new company or studio is often formed. This new endeavor might be independent or under the umbrella of a large publisher. One thing usually remains consistent; The developers have something to prove. They need to show their former employers why they should’ve compromised, or found a way to continue their relationship.

While it’s tough to say who is the best of the best, I’m going to list the most famous industry folks to leave their previous company and form new, successful studios. I’ll give some details on why they left, how they’ve fared, and games for which they’re known.

So let’s start with a studio lead by one of the most famous developers:

Kojima Productions

Official Twitter: @KojiPro2015_EN

Founder: Hideo Kojima

 

Lead by Hideo Kojima, this studio was disbanded when Kojima left Japanese publisher Konami in December of 2015. After Konami announced a corporate restructuring, removed Kojima Productions branding from the promotion of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and canceled a new Silent Hills project, Kojima parted ways with the company despite being a vital part of it since 1986. As the creator of the Metal Gear, Zone of the Enders, and Boktai franchises, Konami won’t be the same without him.

Almost immediately after leaving Konami, Hideo Kojima announced that he had reformed Kojima Productions as an independent studio. Artist Yoji Shinkawa and producer Kenichiro Imaizumi would also join Kojima at his new studio. Their first project would be a title exclusive to PlayStation 4 called  Death Stranding. The game will star Norman Reedus (from AMC’s The Walking Dead) and is already one of the most anticipated games announced at E3 2016.

Respawn Entertainment

Official Twitter: @Respawn

Founders: Jason West, Vince Zampella

In 2010, after possibly one of the most bitter departures in the game industry, Vince Zampella and Jason West left Infinity Ward, a studio they founded in 2002 where they created the Call of Duty series. A dispute with parent company Activision lead to West and Zampella forming Respawn Entertainment with funding from the EA Partners Program. Once the new studio was formed, 38 of the 46 former Infinity Ward employees who had resigned following West and Zampella’s departure were hired at Respawn.

After three years, at E3 2013, Respawn announced their first title, Titanfall, exclusive to Xbox. The following year, a former Sony Santa Monica employee, Stig Asmussen, joined Respawn as well. Asmussen had previously worked on the God of War series and was said to be working a new game other than Titanfall. That title was later revealed to be a third-person Star Wars game.

(It's also worth mentioning that the majority of the original Infinity Ward team was carried over from EA when West and Zampella left that company. They must be some pretty awesome people to work for.)

In October 2016, Respawn released Titanfall 2. The sequel to Titanfall added a single-player campaign and improved it’s multiplayer. Critics and fans have given high praise to Titanfall 2 since its release.

Boss Key Productions

Official Twitter: @BossKey

Founders: Cliff Bleszinski, Arjan Brussee

Founded in 2014, this studio has the potential to be one of the top tier studios in the industry. During his 20-year career at Epic Games, Cliff Bleszinski was responsible for the creation of the Unreal and Gears of War franchises. After leaving Epic, Bleszinski was approached by Hideo Kojima with an offer to work on his new Silent Hills project, which he declined. Boss Key’s co-founder, Arjan Brussee, was also the co-founder of Guerilla Games and creator of the Killzone series. Brussee left Guerilla in 2012 to work for Visceral Games, where he produced Battlefield: Hardline.

The studio’s first game, LawBreakers, is a pay-to-play first-person arena shooter for PC and will be published by Nexon. It is already getting a lot of great feedback and hype ahead of launch.

 

Firaxis Games

Official Twitter: @FiraxisGames

Founders: Sid Meier, Jeff Briggs, Brian Reynolds

 

In 1996, Sid Meier, Jeff Briggs, and Brian Reynolds left software giant MicroProse and founded Firaxis Games. MicroProse was also founded by Meier and was the original publisher of the Civilization and X-COM series.

While it is now a subsidiary for Take-Two Interactive, Firaxis is also well known for its strategy games. Co-founder Sid Meier usually has his name in the titles, such as; Sid Meier’s Pirates and Sid Meier’s Civilization. They’ve successfully carried on (from MicroProse) the critically acclaimed X-COM and Civilization series, with X-COM 2 and Sid Meier's Civilization VI recently getting released. Both games have received very positive reviews.

Sid Meier is also still the head of the studio after all these years.

I think a lesson can be learned from these developers.

If you have a dream and are passionate about what you do, find a way to continue doing that. A lot of the studios mentioned -- possibly all of them -- were founded by people who could be considered visionaries in their fields. They are legends of the industry.

Some of these studios have yet to release a game, or at least a critically successful one. However, considering their pedigree, it's tough not to expect the next great game to have their logo on it. Respawn and Firaxis are proof that success can continue in other forms, even if you take the plunge and stop trying to please the big dogs. 

Are you looking forward to any games from these developers? Do you follow any of them on Twitter. Which ones do you find the most fan-friendly and entertaining? Let me know in the comments!

]]>
Top 5 Most Underrated AAA Developers https://www.gameskinny.com/g4ocp/top-5-most-underrated-aaa-developers https://www.gameskinny.com/g4ocp/top-5-most-underrated-aaa-developers Fri, 04 Nov 2016 03:25:08 -0400 Unclepulky

It's easy to assume when you hear the term "AAA Game Developer", that they get all of the credit and profits that they deserve. But while some companies do have many employees and a large chunk of change to throw around, not every developer has the same luck as Nintendo, Bethesda, or Naughty Dog.

These five game devs have made fantastic games, and some have gone above and beyond in treating their fans well. Hopefully one day, they'll all get their due.

5. Oddworld Inhabitants

Oddworld Inhabitants is a studio who has never made a bad game -- while it's true that (not counting re-releases and remakes) they've only developed four games, with a fifth currently in the works, all of them have been absolute gems.

Abe's Odyssee and Abe's Exodus are must owns for fans of the original PlayStation. Munch's Odyssee, while the weakest of the Oddworld games, is still a gem, and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is in my top ten favorite games of all time.

In addition to producing great games, Oddworld Inhabitants is also very friendly with their fanbase. In particular, their Twitter is very fun to follow.

It's easy to see why the company is so often overlooked though. All of their games are part of one series; and with how insane the lore and story are, some people may feel alienated.

4. Hi-Rez Studios

 Much like the last entry, Hi-Rez Studios has only developed a few games -- six in total. However, while I haven't played all of their games, they've all received critical acclaim. 

Their most popular game, Smite, is a very original and fun take on the MOBA genre, and there are many, including myself, who prefer it over the more traditional MOBAs such League of Legends and DOTA 2.

The other game that I've played from Hi-Rez is Jetpack Fighter, a speed platformer which stands among the better mobile games I've played.

Hi-Rez Studios also has a great relationship with their fans. They've sponsored many charity streams, and have developed a good rapport with the game journalism community.

They're the newest developer on this list, and given enough time, they'll likely gain the popularity they deserve.

3. Nihon Falcom

From the newest developer on the list to the oldest, Nihon Falcom has been pumping out games since 1981. They have released dozens of games, and while I fully admit to having not played most of them, the Ys series of action RPGs is absolutely fantastic. In fact, Ys is the second largest series of eastern RPGs, eclipsed only by Final Fantasy.

The main reason for this studio being on the list is the opposite of the reason for why it's only number three on the list. While in the west, the games the studio has made are virtually unheard of, it's a completely different story in the east. There, series like The Legend of Heroes, Zwei, and Brandish are all incredibly popular.

Many of their games haven't made it to North America and Europe, but come on my fellow westerners: Give Nihon Falcom some love!

2. Grasshopper Manufacture

Suda51 is a mad genius and I love him!

Formed in 1998 by Goichi Suda, Grasshopper Studios has a knack for making very distinct games. It's almost impossible to mistake one of their games for another, and you can always see Suda's fingerprints. 

While early on it seemed they'd be doomed to having their games stuck in the east, they eventually found mainstream success in the west with Killer7. And while games like Lollipop Chainsaw and Liberation Maiden are a blast to play, it's the No More Heroes games which have earned the company my loyalty. 

They don't have the same great relationship with the fans that some of the other mentioned developers do -- not that it's a bad one either -- but given how terrific and imaginative their games are, Grasshopper Manufacture is a highly underrated studio.

1. Origin Systems

The story of Origin Systems is one of gaming's most tragic.

Founded in 1983 by the Garriott brothers, Richard and Robert, Origin was a studio fueled by passion. Many great games came from the studio, such as Ogre and the Wing Commander series, but for me, when I hear Origin Systems, I think Ultima. 

The Garriott brothers, inspired by the table-top RPGs they played, crafted an entire, in-depth world within the Ultima games. This series revolutionized the RPG genre, and throughout the 80's and 90's, it was beloved by many PC gamers.

Sadly, due to executive meddling from EA, the main Ultima series ended on a sour note with the absolutely dreadful Ultima IX: Ascension. 

EA kept the company alive until 2004, not actually letting them develop new games mind you, at which point the developer was dissolved. The saddest part of all of this is that most people don't seem to remember Origin. Sure, a die-hard Ultima or Wing Commander fan will, but to the general gaming community, they're just a blip in history.

What AAA game developers do you feel are underrated? What do you think of these choices? And had you heard of Origin Systems before reading this article?

Let me know in the comments below!

]]>
Indie Developers are Putting AAA Companies to Shame https://www.gameskinny.com/11d4s/indie-developers-are-putting-aaa-companies-to-shame https://www.gameskinny.com/11d4s/indie-developers-are-putting-aaa-companies-to-shame Tue, 09 Aug 2016 09:38:29 -0400 Captain Booya

At a point not long ago in time, indie games might've had the stigma that they are simpler (if not purer) expressions of the video game art form -- whether it be in terms of longevity, gameplay or the aesthetics. Oftentimes you might've envisioned indie titles as chiefly 2D, retro-styled pixel art games. But it would appear that stigma is ringing less and less true of late.

Several indie games have generated an excited following this year -- No Man's Sky and We Happy Few perhaps being the most relevant examples. Despite being developed by smaller, independent studios, a lot of these indie games are looking all the more polished for it -- both in terms of visuals and the presented gameplay ideas. 

One talented developer, Yang Bing, has taken 'indie' to the extreme by creating this masterpiece with Unreal Engine 4, all by himself:

The game depicted above is Lost Soul Aside, an action game with a fantasy-inspired aesthetic that the developer himself has described as "combining Final Fantasy with Ninja Gaiden". The game currently doesn't have a release date, but the trailer is yet another example of a fundamental shift in the quality of games that we can expect from different kinds of developers. 

It's beginning to show that in some cases, the lines between indie and 'AAA' titles are blurring, and small teams are putting together games that look and play just as good, if not better, than their AAA counterparts. This is an exciting prospect, as a big upside of indie developers is that they are much more likely to be able to bring their unique vision to life, without losing creative control and dealing with red tape from corporate bureaucracy, or rushed release dates -- the latter of which results in abominations like Aliens:Colonial Marines being released.

THAT'S what I was trying to say. (Obviously NSFW)

With Season pass culture becoming more intimately tied to AAA games, gamers are beginning to wonder whether too much thought is being put into a game's potential revenue, rather than the quality and originality of the game itself. It also fosters a track of thought that you're paying 'full price' for half a game, then paying again for all of it. This practice is much less common in the indie scene.

Of course, the downside to the creative freedom of 'going indie' can be funding the project. After all, masterpieces can't happen with empty pockets, and indie devs don't have larger corporations and conglomerates backing them. Such was the case for the team of three, NoMatter Studios, who had to reach out to the public and media via Kickstarter to fund their vision, Prey for the Gods. But in spite of their need for funding, what they created was a game that one could easily be mistaken for an AAA title. 

One final mention goes out to No Man's Sky, which by all indications looks to be revolutionary for the open-world genre -- or at the very least, a fresh approach to it. It sounds and looks like a huge undertaking, one that would only be suited for AAA hands. But in reality, it was developed by a 10-person indie team. 

Makes you wonder who's really moving the gaming medium forward, doesn't it?

So, to conclude, I'm just going to point a huge finger at those not-to-be-named AAA developers and raise the question: With an established company, superior human and monetary resources, and more experience to draw upon; why can't you do better, and do it faster? If you can't step it up, hopefully teams like Yang Bing or the Hello Games devs will.

]]>
Halo 5 tops the list of best selling games in October https://www.gameskinny.com/8njap/halo-5-tops-the-list-of-best-selling-games-in-october https://www.gameskinny.com/8njap/halo-5-tops-the-list-of-best-selling-games-in-october Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:08:07 -0500 Michael Slevin

According to the NPD Group, Halo 5: Guardians was the best selling video game in the month of October. This doesn't come as a great surprise, with Halo 5 being the biggest AAA title released that month.

Halo 5 managed to beat out NBA 2K16, Madden NFL 16 and Assassin's Creed Syndicate, among other titles.

Halo 5: Guardians also managed to help sell the Xbox One, making it the best selling console of October in the U.S.

With November signaling big releases like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and Fallout 4, it will be interesting to see not only the software numbers, but how they effect the sales of hardware.

A lot of AAA games are coming out this month, so be sure to stay here at Gameskinny for all of your video game coverage. 

For now, let me know in the comments what your favorite game from October was.

]]>
Tackling the Indies with Adriaan de Jongh https://www.gameskinny.com/kgm2z/tackling-the-indies-with-adriaan-de-jongh https://www.gameskinny.com/kgm2z/tackling-the-indies-with-adriaan-de-jongh Thu, 09 Jul 2015 02:30:01 -0400 Bryan C. Tan

When you're winning awards left and right for wacky innovative video games, closing the game studio you helped found would be the last thing on everyone's mind. But that was exactly what one man in the Netherlands did, and he proceeded to help his fellow developers by creating a free contract generator, a play-testing club, and an industry calendar.

Best known as the co-founder of Game Oven, I interviewed Adriaan de Jongh about his ambitions, the predicament of the indies, and his mission to make the video gaming industry a better place for developers.

How do you feel about the evolution of Game Oven throughout its existence?

With Game Oven, both Bojan (Game Oven's other co-founder) and I got to practice what we loved: I prototyped concepts for weird social games, and Bojan got to do some heavy lifting and structuring with his game engine. The studio “evolved” as we got better in those things. It was definitely satisfying for both of us throughout our time together to get to do these things.

What aspects of the game industry would you like to delve into, and what types of games are you currently working on?

Weird social games and inventing game mechanics are still my thing, so you can expect more of that. Right now, I'm working on another mobile dancing game, a serious game about our senses, and a game together with an amazing illustrator - all stuff I will announce later this year.

What impact would you like to make as a professional game developer?

I hope to show the game industry that inventing your own game mechanics is a thing you can just do, not by telling everybody about it, but by showing you my games!

Do efforts such as contract( ) and playdev.club serve to tackle the foundational problems behind independent game development, and how important are these issues in the games industry?

Making a living out of games as a solo developer is really hard for everybody around the world, and for many reasons: there is a lot of distracting paper work, you have to do all the work and networking and marketing yourself, and there is nobody around to talk some sense into you or your day-to-day struggles. The side projects I started this year all tap into those challenges, and are often a direct result from the stuff that I need personally. I hope that these things create a better ecosystem for game developers around me, and I try hard to tell people about the tools and ask them for feedback. But that is the difficult part: telling people about these tools. There are barely places to tell developers about these things! 

How do you feel about events such as the Game Developers Conference (GDC) as avenues to inform developers about new tools?

I don't see what's wrong about tool announcements and developer conferences coming together; isn't that just super practical?

Is being weird/different a necessity as an independent game developer, or are they just games that you love to make and play?

Making a weird or unique game is not a necessity for game developers in general; it is for people who want to make a living out of it. Being able to sell your games is possible if your game has something that other games don't - what else would people pay for? Having said that, we didn't just make games because we thought we could sell them, but also because we loved making them. It's a balance.

Do you feel that balance is a deciding factor in independent game development, considering everyone's input matters in indie studios, whereas AAA studios have hundreds of employees that go unheard?

Even though there are more opportunities for people in smaller studios to have and express their opinion, in the end, just like in AAA studios, someone has to take responsibility and decide where the ship heads. People in smaller studios have an equally difficult time balancing everyone’s input as larger studios have. In fact, I would even say that this balancing is generally easier in larger studios, because roles and responsibilities are often narrowly defined, so people know they can only decide over the things within their reach.

What are the biggest issues you see preventing indie games from having the same exposure and popularity as AAA games?

AAA games are almost always high-production titles in well-defined genres. AAA studios have it easier when it comes to finding their audience. For indies, it's often unclear where that body of people is that wants to play their game. And even if it is clear, having the money and the people to approach that audience is a huge help to the exposure of your game.

Is it difficult because indie games can't compete with AAA games in their own genres, and have no choice but to fill in a niche market, or are the genres of AAA games just over-saturated?

I think AAA have been playing it safe for many years now, which is why I would say the genres that AAA games often fall under are somewhat saturated - studios keep making the same kind of games because it has proven to make money.

What do you think needs to be done to make it easier for indies to gather the money and people required to approach audiences?

I have no answer to that question; if I did, I would be rich as ****.

To find out if Adriaan ever finds the answer, follow him on Twitter @AdriaandeJongh and on his official website, adriaandejongh.nl.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

]]>
Predicting Ubisoft's Upcoming AAA Game https://www.gameskinny.com/ok2hv/predicting-ubisofts-upcoming-aaa-game https://www.gameskinny.com/ok2hv/predicting-ubisofts-upcoming-aaa-game Sat, 06 Jun 2015 13:30:02 -0400 Curtis Dillon

In an investor report from Ubisoft last month, it was revealed that The Division would be coming in early 2016 as would a yet-unannounced AAA game.

The news of the unannounced game was somewhat lost in the shuffle, but it's a very interesting tidbit. It's becoming increasingly uncommon for a publisher to reveal a game and release it within a year, but that's exactly what will happen with this game if the report is to believed. So what could that game be? Let's postulate!

Watch Dogs 2

Let's start with the most obvious option for an upcoming Ubisoft game, Watch Dogs 2. Ubisoft hasn't shied away from the fact that there will be a sequel to the hugely successful Watch Dogs, with the dev discussing the flaws of the original and hopes for the sequel. Then they admitted that a sequel would take a lot less time to develop. And finally the sequel recently appeared on the CV of a Ubisoft employee. So it's very obvious the game is on its way, and if Assassin's Creed is the benchmark for Ubisoft series, then it could become annual.

Therefore, Watch Dogs 2 seems the most obvious choice for the unannounced game. The original was a good game with tons of potential, much like the original AC. Watch Dogs 2 could definitely be Ubisoft's big surprise announcement at the close of the show.

Rayman Legends Sequel

A new Rayman is the second most likely choice. The sequel to the amazing reboot (Rayman Origins), Rayman Legends, was released in 2013. But not much has been said about the series since. Both games were critical and commercial smashes, reinvigorating the Rayman brand. So now seems like a good time for a sequel.

There's no evidence to back this up, especially considering Rayman creator Michel Ancel is hard at work on PS4 exclusive WiLD and another game that you will read about later. That being said, I still think a third installment is likely and fits the quick turnaround between announcement and release.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

Which brings us to the other game Michel Ancel is toiling away on. Or so we think. Actually, at this point we have no idea.

The original Beyond Good and Evil came out in 2003, 12 years ago. The cult classic warranted a sequel that was finally revealed in 2008, but hasn't been seen since. Rumors swirled that Ancel had left Ubisoft Montipelier and Beyond Good and Evil 2 was on-hold. And yet, as recently as 2013, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told Kotaku:

"I don't give comments anymore on BG&E2, because I think ... the next time next time we communicate we have to have something new. Not specific to the PS4 or any other platform.

He went on to confirm the status of the game:

"It's coming. Yep. I know some folks who are waiting."

It seems likely that we will see the return of Jade and Pey'j, but whether or not that happens this year is anyone's guess.

Prince of Persia Reboot

As much as I enjoyed Watch Dogs and Rayman, a rebooted Prince of Persia is the prospect that excites me most. It's easy to forget how popular and successful this series was, but the original trilogy was fantastic and inspired a movie in 2010. Also, lest we forget that Assassin's Creed was originally a Prince of Persia game. The last AAA Prince of Persia game came in 2010, so the series is ripe for a comeback.

The only evidence we have that Prince of Persia is even still alive, somewhere deep in the depths of Ubisoft, was a series of leaked images that were said to be a reboot of the franchise. Ubisoft has reportedly tried on a few occasions to start fresh with the series, which obviously never came to fruition, but maybe the game from which the above screenshot was taken will be the one. This one is the most left-field but also the most exciting.

Unknown IP

And of course, just to round out the bases, we have the potential for a brand new IP. When Watch Dogs was announced, it blew everyone away, due to the brand new concept and how amazing it looked. This started an E3 tradition for Ubisoft in which they now close out every show with a brand new game demo. They struck oil again when they showed Tom Clancy's: The Division for the first time and melted minds. Then last year they revealed the next Rainbow Six game, which was somewhat expected, but still a surprising concept. So what they will show this year is back to being a mystery.

Watch_Dogs 2 seems the obvious, safe bet. A new Rayman is also a possibility, but whether that series is AAA is debatable. Then we have the more unlikely choices of Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Prince of Persia. However, Ubisoft could easily be working on something brand new altogether. They are one of the biggest developers in the industry and are constantly working on multiple diverse games, so it's very easy to imagine another new IP being revealed and blowing our socks off.

So what do you think Ubisoft is going to unveil? What game do you want it to be? Will it be revealed at E3 or Gamescom? Let us know in the comments below!

]]>
Is Capitalism Really Killing Games? https://www.gameskinny.com/e3bnf/is-capitalism-really-killing-games https://www.gameskinny.com/e3bnf/is-capitalism-really-killing-games Sun, 05 Apr 2015 15:06:31 -0400 Jessa Rittenhouse

Lorne Lanning, founder and head of Oddworld Inhabitants, recently made the claim that capitalism is killing games. The drive to make the next blockbuster game makes big money for the publishers, he says, but very little for the developers, and capitalism is to blame for this.

Is this really and truly the case, though? Are games suffering because of the "need" for big budgets and AAA publishers? And does the suffering begin and end with the developers, or do gamers feel it as well?

A Picture (or a Game) is Worth...Millions

Lanning does have a point when he talks about the need to please investors - just keeping your studio in the black is never enough if you have a publicly-traded company. The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar business, according to the ESRB website - a 10.5 billion dollar business in 2009, a number that has most certainly grown astronomically since then.

Games are big business - very big.


With each big release having the potential to make millions, and with games making publishers and their investors wealthy (while the developers barely break even), it's easy to see where Lanning might be coming from. Still, all hope is not lost; as he points out, a developer can avoid this fate and perhaps build a sustainable business by avoiding major publishers and eschewing an IPO and investors. He applauds digital publishing as making this a viable model for indie developers, who would have otherwise struggled to make it work if they had to rely on physical product on actual shelves.

But what about the gamer? Where the gamer is concerned, it's not just about money - it's about the quality of the experience.

A Picture (or a Game) is Also Beautiful

There's no denying the appeal of many blockbuster titles flying off the shelves these days - a lot of money goes into making them the triumphs that they become. They are visually stunning, have phenomenal soundtracks, and many even have fantastic stories created by talented writers.

Many more, however, are just clones of older games, living off the popularity of their predecessors and a dash of new window dressing.

Some indie games have the look and feel of playing a masterpiece.

Developers at these large, public companies can hardly be faulted for this - they're under pressure to deliver a product that will sell, and when they've seen something work once, twice, three times - well, it stands to reason that it might just keep working a few times more.

Still, while gamers can and do buy these titles, they miss out on the uniqueness of an original - they don't get the work of art that a game can be, when it's not trying to be something else.

That's where indie games come in. Without the pressure of investors, indie developers can and frequently have delivered games that were incredible works of art and storytelling, and that's not a trend that's showing any signs of slacking. The success of games like Octodad, The Binding of Isaac, and more recently, Ori and the Blind Forest have shown that indie games can really shine, given the chance.

To get that chance, they need money. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but the numbers can be daunting when an indie company is just starting out.

So how do they get the money without traditional investors?

Sometimes, you need a different kind of investor to get your game off the ground - and gamers will open their hearts (and their wallets) for a developing game that inspires their interest. That's how indie project
Orphan found its home.

Kickstarted Creativity and Steam-Powered Ingenuity

If you've spent even just a handful of days on the internet, chances are, you know what Kickstarter is. You may have even heard of similar sites like Indiegogo, Fundable, or the United Kingdom's Crowdfunder. If an indie developer has something amazing to share with the world, they can find kindred spirits and open wallets by the thousands in these places.

The phenomenon that is crowdfunding has even led to nonprofits that want to encourage indie game development - particularly among women and minorities.

Further, tools like those provided by Steam Workshop help those new to game development get their feet wet by giving them what they need to create content for existing games, while Steam Greenlight, for all its flaws, helps indie developers get their titles in front of the people who matter most to them - the players.

Games Aren't Dead - They're Just Changing

AAA games aren't going away, no matter how popular the most creative of indie titles may be. But the growth of indie can serve as a model for what those big-time publishers and developers need to change. That can mean more fantastic, artistic games and fewer dressed-up clones on the market, and that's something we can all benefit from.

]]>
PlayStation Plus Once Again Shafts PS4 Gamers https://www.gameskinny.com/svdbv/playstation-plus-once-again-shafts-ps4-gamers https://www.gameskinny.com/svdbv/playstation-plus-once-again-shafts-ps4-gamers Thu, 02 Apr 2015 17:35:21 -0400 Stan Rezaee

PlayStation 4 gamers who subscribe to PlayStation Plus are gonna get shafted once again as all the free games being offered in April will be Indie titles.

While PlayStation 3 gamers have enjoyed titles like Yakuza 4 and Prototype 2 while PS4 gamers have been offered Transistor and Apotheon.

Sure some Indie games are fun to play but they appeal more to a nitch audince depending on the genre. However its becoming annoying that PlayStation 4 gamers are consistently being offered Indie titles while PS3 gamers have been offered a more diverse selection. 

How about some AAA titles like Killzone: Shadow Fall or Watch Dogs (someone should play it) because it feels like PS4 gamers have been getting the bottom end of the barrel. Meanwhile the last few AAA titles that were offered were either a Next-Gen port or a stand-alone expansion.

As a gamer all I ask is, enough with the free Indie games for the PS4. It's already bad enough the console is not backwards compatible and that we have to pay extra for PlayStation Now. Must they consistently be force feeding us a bunch of indie games.

Indie games are only appealing if the audience enjoys the subject or genre, hence maybe one of them could be fun to play or it could feel like a waste. In fact the only time I play an Indie game is on my iPhone during the morning commute or while on the toilet.

I'm beginning to suspect that Sony is either trying to screw with their fans or whoever is responsible for the line up has an indie game bias and is forcing it onto the consumer.

The only gamers who actually enjoy the selections have been Indie gamers, who (like hipsters) seem to always have this false sense of superiority because they play games nobody knows about. It's always cute to see a hardcore Indie gamer pretend to be better than the Glorious PC Master Race.

Sony should work to correct this problem by properly distributing the free games each month. The package should be one AAA title and two Indie game, not all Indie games and a middle finger to the gamers.

]]>
The 10 AAA Game Franchises That Need to Come to PS Vita https://www.gameskinny.com/no59i/the-10-aaa-game-franchises-that-need-to-come-to-ps-vita https://www.gameskinny.com/no59i/the-10-aaa-game-franchises-that-need-to-come-to-ps-vita Sun, 29 Mar 2015 13:15:09 -0400 Elijah Beahm

[{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/31bf388a17522bc0e9f2e2b051ea55b3.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_31bf388a17522bc0e9f2e2b051ea55b3.png","type":"slide","id":"61895","description":"

Resident Evil 4

\n

Lastly, the game that's been ported to everything under the sun besides dedicated gaming handhelds (it's even available on iPhone and iPad): Resident Evil 4. I'm tempted to suggest bringing Resident Evil 5 over, but some of its set pieces and over-the-top moments might stress out the hardware too much. On the flipside, Resident Evil 4 is perfect for the PS Vita.

\n

It's familiar, but still new to a number of players. It's compact, but has plenty of content. It's incredibly replayable and never leans on excessive grinding or any other cheap tactics used to keeping you from progressing. It looks great, but doesn't demand a lot from hardware.

\n

While it's been re-released so many times that it's starting to get silly, I can't deny that Resident Evil 4 would be a welcome game on PS Vita. Just, maybe add in co-op for Mercenaries mode?

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/82aa927709da13f63273a927ec8368ab.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_82aa927709da13f63273a927ec8368ab.png","type":"slide","id":"61891","description":"

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

\n

Here's an oddity for you. Silent Hill: Book of Memories and Dungeon Hunter Alliance are available on the PS Vita, yet somehow Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is not? Why are we left only with a weird spin-off of a different franchise and a hack job rip-off instead of a port from the series that started it all?

\n

There's not even much that needs to be said, it's just that sensible and reasonable. We know it can work, because two games just proved that the handheld can do the job. So let's bring Diablo III: Reaper of Souls to Vita, Blizzard.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/f70d9f01043c21effae509f003f3f39c.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_f70d9f01043c21effae509f003f3f39c.png","type":"slide","id":"61890","description":"

Orcs Must Die!

\n

It may have started out as a small-scale indie, but Robot Entertainment seems to be making their best effort to turn Orcs Must Die! into a AAA franchise. As such, let's bring the original two titles to the Vita. The cartoony visuals fit a handheld well, the AI for enemies is incredibly simple, so that takes a load off the CPU, allowing for greater amounts of hit processing and physics-based traps.

\n

The game might need to shrink back the amount of traps and enemies that spawn, but the it would still be a rollicking good time on the handheld. It also works great for the Vita as the touch screens could be used to play traps and swap inventory selection instantly.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/41677e12a30bedf2283f7fc91e920c60.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_41677e12a30bedf2283f7fc91e920c60.png","type":"slide","id":"61888","description":"

Portal

\n

Given Sony and Valve's chummy relationship, I'm a bit surprised we haven't seen some version of Portal on the PS Vita. Fans have already gotten remakes of the game to work on PSP, Nintendo DS, and 3DS, so what's holding Valve back from making it official on a platform that could easily run the game?

\n

Honestly, other than possible business reasons or lack of interest, I can't think of any. Plus imagine Portal 2 co-op, where one of you is playing on Vita while the other is on PS3. That would be pretty damn sweet, if I say so myself.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/3ae30e330d097f40a2a620c5e8053e64.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_3ae30e330d097f40a2a620c5e8053e64.png","type":"slide","id":"61886","description":"

Splinter Cell

\n

If CounterSpy taught me anything, it's that the PS Vita is a great platform for slick stealth games, and there should really be more of them. As such, let's bring over Splinter Cell. Whether it be remakes of the originals, a new spin-off, or a downgraded version of the more controversial past two entries, there should be a Splinter Cell game on Vita.

\n

The touch screens and gyroscope make tons of sense for the gadgets that protagonist Sam Fischer is constantly using. The snap to cover, Mark and Execute, and free range of world navigation fit a handheld very well. The compact yet maze-like levels are just right for the Vita's processing power.

\n

Classic Spies Vs. Mercs should work, but going beyond two versus two might stress the hardware, especially if Ubisoft were to push for high fidelity. Still, the title could make for a great co-op/single-player stealth game for handheld gamers who want meatier titles.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/9ac13f535e4dc56bd0b9cbf79b4f64f2.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_9ac13f535e4dc56bd0b9cbf79b4f64f2.png","type":"slide","id":"61887","description":"

Killzone

\n

Also befitting the strategy genre, why isn't there an RTS or turn-based Killzone game on the Vita? Killzone: Mercenary is fine for shooting things up, but the universe is primed and ready for a strategy game. With the touchscreen capability and eye-in-the-sky view, it could even potentially be a cross-platform PS4/PS Vita game.

\n

It would be in the vein of Advanced Wars and Command & Conquer, focusing on key battles instead of any kind of 4X strategy. The game could either span the original Killzone trilogy or it could offer Wing Commander-style missions where the story will branch based on your victory or defeat in certain scenarios.

\n

On top of this, depending on how the levels work, we could see the first game besides Littlebig Planet Vita that would offer user-generated content. Imagine players sharing battlefields and scenarios between friend and foe alike, testing their mettle as the ISA and Helghast fight on and on. That certainly sounds like a good time to me.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/61a724017203d2780b82b65c84dc7fda.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_61a724017203d2780b82b65c84dc7fda.png","type":"slide","id":"61880","description":"

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

\n

Much like Bioshock, XCOM: Enemy Unknown (and its expansion Enemy Within) has done well on the iOS market. It seems only natural to consider bringing it to the PS Vita. Combining the touch screen controls with secondary the buttons should be easy, and remove any control issues you might have. The graphics scale down easily, and game is ideal for both quick play and long-term gaming on your handheld.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/24d4ec6fa709b42282a543dbc2825970.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_24d4ec6fa709b42282a543dbc2825970.png","type":"slide","id":"61879","description":"

Bioshock

\n

While Ken Levine's Bioshock strategy RPG may never come to be, it's already been proven that the original game can work well even on a tablet. So why haven't we brought the first two games in the award winning franchise to PS Vita?

\n

Much like Dead Space, the Bioshock series is built on older tech, so optimization is less of an issue. On top of that, there's already the Ultimate Rapture Edition bundle combining the entire experience, so the only work that needs to be done is porting the two games over.

\n

The biggest change would actually be to the multiplayer. Once again, it'd be good to have a game with solid and unique competitive PvP action on a handheld that's practically begging for it. Bioshock 2's multiplayer stood the test of time and still is active on current platforms, so the key thing would just be to scale things down. We might need to bring it down to twelve players total, but that's still another online option for Vita gamers.

\n

Seriously, there's not that much else that would need changing. The games might need to be released on separate carts due to the size of each, but beyond that, it's just getting the games to run on it. And if 2K is willing to get the original running on an iPhone, they shouldn't have much trouble with a powerhouse like the VIta.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/17f292afe43eae1874b23d7818f458bd.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_17f292afe43eae1874b23d7818f458bd.png","type":"slide","id":"61841","description":"

Dead Space

\n

Dead Space is a series known for being deep and visceral, but there's one fact most people don't know -- it's built on the Godfather engine from the original Xbox. This is why the first two games run especially well on fairly old PCs.

\n

If Dead Space 2 can run on an integrated graphics card with my laptop, I see no reason a slight visual downgrade couldn't bring at least the first four games (counting the light-gun Extraction spin-off and the mobile game) to PS Vita, either as a collection or separately. Even better, Dead Space: Extraction and Dead Space Mobile could actually be given a visual upgrade.

\n

This also would be great for the Vita because Dead Space 2's multiplayer is so perfect for a handheld. A game of 4 vs 4 is not too extraneous for the Vita, and the multiplayer maps were also nicely compact with numerous paths, much like Killzone Mercenary. Toss in a few new maps and maybe a co-op version of Dead Space Mobile's survival mode, and we're good to go.

\n

Realistically, if you broke them up into two packages, one holding Extraction and Dead Space, and the other holding Dead Space 2 and Mobile, you'd have two decent budget bundles.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/f47063dc18a4b22dc69e046dbf6402aa.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_f47063dc18a4b22dc69e046dbf6402aa.png","type":"slide","id":"61877","description":"

Star Wars: Battlefront

\n

Star Wars: Battlefront is making its triumphant return on consoles and PC later this year, and I see no reason for the series to pass on another mobile spin-off. It's been years since Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron graced the PSP, and with the power of the PS Vita, we could have a truly impressive Star Wars handheld game.

\n

While the graphics might have to suffered a bit, Elite Squadron got sixteen player battles working on the PSP. Imagine that kind of optimization on the Vita. Battlefront might be able to offer us our first twenty-four player battles on the Vita, potentially with Elite Squadron's air-to-ground battle system and customizable classes.

\n

Now, it would be separate from the console version of Battlefront, but that doesn't mean there couldn't be some cross-platform integration. Perhaps character progression could carry over between versions. Alternatively, playing each version could unlock extra missions and visual customization, similar to Assassin's Creed 3 and Assassin's Creed: Liberation. Either way, it would incentivize gamers and give them the option to play both at home and on the go, without either version hampering the other in scope or focus.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/95b5bb6461a327bfd8b06979168294e0.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_95b5bb6461a327bfd8b06979168294e0.png","type":"slide","id":"61874","description":"

So we've discussed why you should totally keep your PS Vita. Now let's talk about something different entirely. Sony's support of the handheld has been lackluster of late, and the platform would really benefit from a few key titles arriving. To go along with Farrel's list, here are my picks for games that realistically could work on the PS Vita. From shooters to strategy games, these series totally should make the jump to Sony's handheld.

"}]]]>
Are Games Straying Away From Being Good 'Ol Fashioned Fun? https://www.gameskinny.com/lmb0l/are-games-straying-away-from-being-good-ol-fashioned-fun https://www.gameskinny.com/lmb0l/are-games-straying-away-from-being-good-ol-fashioned-fun Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:58:51 -0500 Chris Vesovski

Recently, an interview with Naughty Dog veteran Game Designer Josh Sherr, he mentioned some disappointing news. To sum it up, he stated that Naughty Dog won't focus on cartoony games such as Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter.

Why is this important?

If you think about it, the "Next-Gen" experience is starting to depart cartoony family-friendly games. The term AAA now seems to focus on Oscar Level games such as The Last of Us and Dying Light. By no means is it bad to have these types of games, but to me, it shows that the game industry is starting to go Hollywood on gamers.

Nowadays, platformers are considered "nintendo-ish," since they are still making top-tier games like the Mario series, and even Kirby. That little pink nugget has some amazing platforming games that are worthy for Top 10s.

It seems that game companies have to take games serious, and avoid making side projects (platformers, cartoon RPGS) that are worth that "AAA" title. Praise the almighty Steam Greenlight for giving Indie games a chance to show that cartoony style games can still be fun and addicting, and possibly compete with AAA, expensive, Micheal Bay games.

Not every game has to be a hardcore manly FPS.

Realistic games have restrictions in gameplay and hub worlds. Creativity seems to shine in the cartoon world. A great example is Sunset Overdrive: the colors are vibrant and flashy, and the world itself is goofy and over the top. To me, Insomniac Games is a great company on how to mix AAA style games, but still give it a cartoony and explosive feel. Games like Call of Duty have little to no desire to improve on their gameplay or world. Companies fall into the rinse-and-repeat factor: oh, another "gritty and realistic" world. In this climate, graphics matter more than the game itself.

Maybe I'm just a 19 year old hipster, or maybe I just miss the days where I was super excited for a new take on 2D action games and 3D platformers that aren't afraid to try different things.

Now excuse me while I go play The Last Tinker: City of Colors.

"No, I don't, because we've got an amazing team of people making some really expressive performances with our current stable of realistic characters. I mean, animating the stylised stuff is a lot of fun, but the stories that we're trying to tell right now are a little bit more grounded and a little bit more grown up than they were back in the Jak and Daxter days." — Josh Sherr - See more at: http://www.gamnesia.com/news/naughty-dog-says-no-to-a-return-to-crash-bandicoot-or-jak-and-daxter#.VND45S4b080
"No, I don't, because we've got an amazing team of people making some really expressive performances with our current stable of realistic characters. I mean, animating the stylised stuff is a lot of fun, but the stories that we're trying to tell right now are a little bit more grounded and a little bit more grown up than they were back in the Jak and Daxter days." — Josh Sherr - See more at: http://www.gamnesia.com/news/naughty-dog-says-no-to-a-return-to-crash-bandicoot-or-jak-and-daxter#.VND45S4b080
"No, I don't, because we've got an amazing team of people making some really expressive performances with our current stable of realistic characters. I mean, animating the stylised stuff is a lot of fun, but the stories that we're trying to tell right now are a little bit more grounded and a little bit more grown up than they were back in the Jak and Daxter days." — Josh Sherr - See more at: http://www.gamnesia.com/news/naughty-dog-says-no-to-a-return-to-crash-bandicoot-or-jak-and-daxter#.VND45S4b080
Naughty Dog veteran Josh Sherr
Naughty Dog veteran Josh Sherr
]]>
Rare LTD Working on Next "AAA Adventure" and It Looks like It's Not a Kinect Game https://www.gameskinny.com/7rewf/rare-ltd-working-on-next-aaa-adventure-and-it-looks-like-its-not-a-kinect-game https://www.gameskinny.com/7rewf/rare-ltd-working-on-next-aaa-adventure-and-it-looks-like-its-not-a-kinect-game Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:36:01 -0400 Jay Prodigious

Rare LTD studios has been known for bringing us some amazing games. Titles like Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, and Perfect Dark rank high on the list of their accomplishments. Sadly many people thought the company lost its edge when transferring from Nintendo to Microsoft/Xbox, where they became primarily known for Kinect Based games.

This left a sour taste in gamers mouths as they recall what gaming goodness Rare used to pump out.

Fear not my friends, based on some new information, Rare may indeed be back working on AAA games, and it has promise not to be a Kinect avatar game!

From The Mouths of Xbox

If you listen to IGN's Podcasts Unlocked, you would have heard discussion between IGN and Microsoft's Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. During the podcast, Spencer talks about the importance of Kinect Sports:

"on Kinect Sports, it plays a role in our portfolio, and I think it’s great that it’s in the market, and I wouldn’t say we’d never do anything else with Kinect Sports."

Spencer goes on to comment on Rare's relationship with the Kinect Series:

What I said is that I don’t want Rare to just become the Kinect Sports team. There are potentially other people that could do a Kinect Sports game.

While Kinect Sports was Rare's most commercially successful game, that doesn't mean they have to keep pumping them out. In fact the team seems to be hard at work on a new project from what we see in their job openings. 

Truth In The Description

Recently placing adds up for Principle Technical Artist, Software Engineer Services, User Experience Lead, and Software Engineer in Rendering, Rare has been hard at work getting the right people for this project. 

As you can see, the Software Engineer positions state the words "Rare is already deep into the development of its next eye-opening AAA adventure."  We can only assume one of two things, the game will be an adventure type game or it is something new for the studio to tackle in terms of project depth.

Also mentioned in the Software Engineer- Services posting, is something of an interest:

The ideal candidate for this role will have a strong web services development and programming background ideally for Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.   The candidate will be proficient with C# and multithreaded programming, using accepted best practice and test methodologies.

Notice how Azure Cloud services is an ideal characteristic for applicants to have? For those of you don't know, Azure cloud storage has been what online matches in Titanfall are played on. This could mean the game is set to be an online game, which is an interesting prospect.

Also, the game is set to be developed with the Unreal engine, according to the Principle Technical Artist listing. The post says “experience with Unreal Engine or equivalent” as being a plus for the position.  

While not a lot to go on, there have been rumors circulating the web about a E3 2015 reveal and how it just might be Banjo-Kazooie 3. While this is expected to be just hype, a comment from NeoGA's "Kampfheld", someone who has been very reliable with his gaming predictions in the past, had this to say:

 While many of you aren't versed in Morse Code, here is a translation:

"B-K E3 2015"

 While we can't count much for vague information these days, with all this piling up, we can see that Rare is gearing up for a big game release. I say keep your eyes peeled this coming E3, as we may see the fruits of Rare's labor come to light.

I reached out to Rare for a comment, and will update you when I hear back.

]]>
Hyper Light Drifter is Your Gateway to Indie Gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/6soj8/hyper-light-drifter-is-your-gateway-to-indie-gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/6soj8/hyper-light-drifter-is-your-gateway-to-indie-gaming Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:31:11 -0400 Auverin Morrow

If you’re an indie game fan, Hyper Light Drifter should already be on your radar. If you’re not, this title is going to change the way you think about indie gaming.

Today, developer Heart Machine opened a “preview build” of the game for backers who gave $25 or more to their Kickstarter campaign (or for those who buy the preview). These early playable areas of the game have already been reviewed by Polygon, and will also be showcased at IndieCade 2014 next month.

Indie fans have been drooling over this title for a while now, but casual and “hardcore” players alike should be putting Hyper Light Drifter on their wishlists. Alex Preston, the mind behind Heart Machine, worked tirelessly and meticulously to create a game that offers an enjoyable experience for every player.

The result? A 2D action-RPG that not only exemplifies what independent developers can achieve, but also rivals the mechanics and player immersion of AAA titles.

The Indie Myth

Although indie games span all genres and platforms, they’re still a niche in the gaming industry. Because indie gaming is a niche, gamers often make certain assumptions about it – whether they have previously played indie titles or not. Unfortunately, these assumptions often keep gamers from picking up indie titles at all.

For some players, there seems to be an association of the word “indie” with games that just aren’t quite good enough to entertain mass audiences. There’s also the idea that indie games are always quirky or weird, and are not to be taken as seriously as bigger titles. While it’s far more common to see indie developers experimenting with strange new ideas or mechanics, this doesn’t brand every indie title as niche material that only a small group of players can enjoy.

Exhibit A: Horror Games

The recent outpouring of indie horror games shows that the independent gaming industry has something to offer larger audiences. With recent games like Five Nights at Freddy’s and Slender: The Arrival making a huge splash with gamers and lets-players alike, it’s downright wrong to say that indie titles can’t appeal to large audiences and “real” gamers.

Hyper Light Drifter is going to do the same. In fact, it could become a favorite among indie and non-indie players alike: If you were thinking about passing on this indie title, it’s time to think again Alex Preston has promised a rewarding player experience for anyone who picks up the game. And yes, that applies to you hardcore players, too.

All the Story Elements, None of the Reading

Heart Machine has been keeping most of the juicy details about Hyper Light Drifter under wraps. According to a PS blog guest post by Preston, the game’s storyline is not explicit. That is, there is a lot of room for individualized player experiences within a basic narrative framework.  We do know, however, that players will control a character called “the Drifter". The Drifter must travel to a ruined world. He must uncover the secrets of this world and learn about its dark past in order to find a cure for the mysterious disease that ails him.

For all you RPG players out there, Hyper Light Drifter is not just offering a great story – it’s offering a personalized one. But what about those of you who don’t want to get bogged down by a heavy plot?

On the PS blog, Preston writes that he wanted to avoid factors that might slow down the game or break player immersion. The solution: storyboards. Rather than giving you quests or dialogue via walls of text or long voiceovers, the game progresses through “storyboard-like sequences” that move the story forward without stopping to overload the player with new information. This also means that the game transcends language barriers – it’s playable regardless of nationality.

Goodbye, Button-Mashing

This is for all you action fiends and strategy players. Hyper Light Drifter uses innovative combat mechanics to create a combat experience that is both responsive and rewarding. Combat will hit hard and require a certain amount of strategy to succeed. The devs over at Heart Machine know that gamers aren’t mindless, so there isn’t any handholding.

Pop Quiz: What tried-and-true model of combat do we still see in AAA games?

               Harder Level = More Enemies + Less Health

To hell with bullet­sponges, witless drones and unfair scenarios.-Alex Preston

While this system does make for a more challenging level of gameplay, it doesn’t really enhance a player’s combat experience. With enough patience and enough button-mashing, players can tear through any number of mindless enemy hordes. Not so in Hyper Light Drifter. Enemies are well-equipped and reactive. They may dodge projectiles, deflect attacks, attack in pack formation, and even command weaker NPCs to gain an advantage in combat. The player must be able to think quickly and strategically in order to dispatch enemies.

Further details about combat have not been released. However, Preston has said that the game will feature drop-in/drop-out co-op play. He also hinted that some NPCs will not be threats to the Drifter, and players could potentially kill characters that didn’t need killing. They will have to be discerning in how they handle NPC encounters. 

This isn’t Kansas Anymore…

Atmosphere is key in Hyper Light Drifter, which is unexpected for its 2D graphics. Alex Preston had originally intended for the game to have 3D environments, but later realized that trying to create the experience he wanted in full-HD graphics would be too much work for one person. Instead, he chose to flatten the graphics and focus instead on building a seamless environment.

What really makes it for me are the environments and the sense of exploration. -Alex Preston

Each new environment has its own palette, and all are littered with landmarks that reflect the planet’s violent history. Alongside reactive wildlife and detailed architecture, players will find battle craters, grownover machines, rotting experimental laboratories, and the skeletons of hulking creatures. In each area, something will always feel slightly off, but the player will not know why. This creates a sense of anxiety for the player that compounds as the game progresses. The game’s eerie, darkening soundtrack won’t offer any relief, either. It only helps pull you deeper into this dark adventure.

Heart Machine’s devotion to atmosphere and total immersion appeals to all types of gamers. Whether you’re an RPG or FPS fan, a strategist or a lone rogue, a game is nothing if it isn’t immersive. And Hyper Light Drifter is shaping up to be a hell of a player experience – one that could easily rival the experience we get from some AAA titles in the coming year. To round out the immersive experience, Heart Machine did away with almost all the UI elements gamers are used to. In Hyper Light Drifter, you won’t see any UI elements that aren’t part of the environment. While that might seem like an inconvenience, Preston says it makes for a better experience:

“[It] helps to keep the player immersed and focused on the moments and constantly unfolding story in the world rather than on numbers, bars, and maps.”

Don’t Overlook It

Hyper Light Drifter is a promising title. It offers gamers a lot of options in the way of combat and plot, and works tirelessly to create an immersive and personalized experience. The “indie” label shouldn’t stop you from picking this one up – even if you’ve only played AAA titles.

The game is expected to drop around the end of this year or early 2015. It will be available on PC (Windows/Mac/Linux), PS4, PS Vita, OUYA, and Wii U. 

]]>
Volition Senior Producer Warns Big Budgets Will Hurt the Gaming Industry https://www.gameskinny.com/q58e0/volition-senior-producer-warns-big-budgets-will-hurt-the-gaming-industry https://www.gameskinny.com/q58e0/volition-senior-producer-warns-big-budgets-will-hurt-the-gaming-industry Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:13:31 -0400 Wokendreamer

The rising cost of games is a fairly regular topic of discussion in the industry.  Every few weeks, someone brings up how expensive a given game was to make or a company announces a game that sold millions of copies not making enough money for them.

Generally most gamers suggest reducing costs while most producers and developers suggest new microtransactions, sequels, and DLC schemes.  Each time the discussion ultimately leads nowhere, with both sides of the debate ultimately moving on to topics more likely to actually lead to something interesting.

Jim Boone is a Volition Inc senior producer who decided to express his own feelings on the topic.  He agrees the current price model is unsustainable, but goes even further to warn that if either the price of making the games or the price of selling them changes, more gaming companies will go under the way THQ did.  Perhaps most intriguingly, he points out that it does not matter how much is spent making a game to the people who buy it.

This is something publishers need to realize.

No one cares how much money was spent making Call of Duty.  It does not matter to the gamer in the slightest tiny little bit how much it costs to get a celebrity voiceover or to cut a few pixels from the image on screen.  What matters to the gamer is how enjoyable the game is.

Gamers have set budgets.  Adding extra features and DLC does not increase the amount of money a given gamer has available, it just focuses it more on a given game even if we assume a gamer will buy all available DLC.

Making your games more expensive will not increase the amount of money gamers have to spend on them.

No argument about used games or about piracy will increase the income of the average gamer.  There are dozens of new games coming out every single year, more and more as studios pump out annual sequels to the games that have done well.  More independent developers are taking to Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding programs to create their visions.  With all these games, it is literally inevitable that people will have to pick and choose which ones they are going to buy.

One argument is to insist on spending as much as possible, making the games being made as gorgeous, as polished, as close to flawless as possible to try and guarantee the gamers will buy your game.  Yet still there are games like FTL and Minecraft, which create new experiences and end up making huge amounts of money despite a comparatively microscopic initial monetary investment.

A person could buy multiple copies of either of these games for the same price as a single AAA title, and they still did not need to sell nearly as many copies as any of these larger games are required to sell before they began making straight profit.

As a gamer, if there are two games which interest me and one is a third the price of the other, I will naturally be more inclined to purchase the cheaper game.  It does not matter if the more expensive game had more money spent making it.  Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 are a prime example.  The two games create a similar experience, but one is $20 while the other is $60.  The Diablo 3 would need to at least appear to be a significantly more enjoyable game for me to consider it worth paying three times the price of the other, and in the modern gaming world, most of the graphical differences between these games are not worth the cost difference.

I ended up buying Torchlight 2 and have enjoyed it thoroughly ever since.  I still have not bought Diablo 3.  I do not know how much money was spent making either game, and it is irrelevant.  It was easier to stomach paying $20 then $60 to get my action-RPG fix.

The real question for game developers now is not if they are willing to risk spending more to make their games good, since they obviously are.  The question I want to ask in total seriousness is much more frightening to a business-minded production model.

Are you willing to risk spending less?
]]>
Rothalack Streams Now! https://www.gameskinny.com/953uf/rothalack-streams-now https://www.gameskinny.com/953uf/rothalack-streams-now Tue, 27 Aug 2013 16:10:22 -0400 Rothalack

Yes, that's right! You can now watch me play video games (or vidjah gaimes, as I like to say it) all the time! I will also be live streaming my video series from here on out! This includes my new 5x5 segment that I am starting, and my continuation of the news segment I've been... attempting.

My new 5x5 segment is going to be a running series where I bring on gaming industry notables to answer the same five questions and in a five-minute time limit (hence the 5x5 name; five questions, five minutes).

Hopefully over time, after having many different guests, you will begin to see trends between different types of gaming industry professionals. You'll begin to see the difference in opinion between Indies devs and AAA devs, YouTube personalities and Journalists, ESports pros and ESport managers/casters, etc.

I can't wait to get going with this series, starting tomorrow night, August 28th at 7:30PM EST, with my guest Jason Canam, the Game Designer from DrinkBox Studios!

Other notables that I am speaking with about coming on the show so far are:

What Games to Expect

I have been playing a lot of WoW again! I will always be streaming when I play, regardless of the game. The games I plan to play in the near future are:

  • WoW
  • Awesomenauts
  • HearthStone Beta
  • I have to finish Dust: An Elysian Tail!
  • Torchlight II
  • Orcs Must Die 2
  • Endless Space
  • Civilization V
  • I might venture into some horror games even though I HATE them.
  • Have to start playing Final Fantasy XIV
  • Can't wait for ESO, Wildstar, and EQ Next
  • I got all those games from the EA Humble Bundle that I STILL have to play...

I definitely plan to grow my Twitch channel over time. One method I will be using is various give aways! Yeah, you heard me, free stuff.

I also plan to have a full schedule in the future. Which means there will be room for you, the GS contributors!

Anyway, come check out my Twitch channel here! Be sure to click the follow button!
]]>
Why Are Video Games So Expensive, Anyway? https://www.gameskinny.com/yv37i/why-are-video-games-so-expensive-anyway https://www.gameskinny.com/yv37i/why-are-video-games-so-expensive-anyway Sun, 11 Aug 2013 20:16:54 -0400 Wokendreamer

Entertainment is a big business.  People want to have fun, and video games are one of the more popular ways for them to do so.  While other entertainment industries have struggled, video games have continued to sell in steadily increasing numbers.  Despite this, we still hear all the time from developers and publishers how video games are increasingly less profitable despite the increased sales.

Less?

It does not take a terribly in-depth analysis to realize something is fundamentally wrong with the monetary expectations of game publishers nowadays.  When the recent Tomb Raider came out, it sold 3.4 million games in its first month, most people thought it was a hit.  Square Enix called it a disappointment.


Can't make a game with these

Just considering the implications of that declaration is horrifying.  3.4 milllion video games sold, even if everyone only paid $40 (which seems to be a very conservative estimate) is still over $130 million dollars just in the first month.  What sort of cost was behind creating the game when so much money in such a short period of time fell far enough below what was desired to be called a disappointment?

How and Why?

The question of exactly how much money these big-budget games cost is complicated by a few factors.  The most obvious is that very few games ever give a development cost.  We can safely assume Tomb Raider cost significantly more than $130 million, but we have no way of knowing exactly how much more it cost.  Most games we learn even less about how much they cost to make.

A little math can help clear up some of the question.  While licensing fees on characters and development/graphic engines might vary wildly based on the character/engine in question, we can calculate the costs of the people involved in making a game with a bit of leeway given for higher or lower pay grades.

As an example, if we take a game with 20 arbitrary people working on it between the software engineers, artists, and various other roles and say they make an average of $60,000 a year each, we can calculate how much is spent paying the people to make this particular game.  In this for-instance, we get $1.2 million per year just to pay the people involved.  It's easy to see where such costs can get astronomical very quickly when publishers put together teams with over a hundred developers all working on the same project.

But... that's still not all of it!

Even if we take a game with 200 people working at double the average wage in the example above, that still doesn't even break $25 million a year.  The twitter post shown from Cliff Bleszinski hints at a game with a potential budget of $600 million or more.  The number of people involved in making the game seems fairly unimportant with a budget like that.  200 people working for five years would need to be earning over $120K each to account for even 1/6 of that budget.

So what actually costs so much?

Bleszinski himself has given us part of the answer.  In previous tweets he has mentioned before how some games actually spend as much on marketing as they spend on making the game itself.  When you get games with budgets approaching or surpassing $100 million dollars, that represents a huge investment.

The irony is if those marketing costs really are what makes games so expensive, the high cost of making AAA games might actually more be a matter of mindset than actual cost.  It is an easy to understand mindset, however.

You run a game publisher.  You have a game in the works right now that is going to cost almost $200 million by the time it is finished.  With an investment that huge, you want to make certain the game will sell, so the logical idea is to get commercials out so people know to buy it.

This really cannot be the only option.

With game after game getting funded through entities like Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, it is becoming clear video games do not have to be as expensive as the big-name publishers seem to believe.  While some developers/publishers feel higher prices or more restrictive policies regarding used game sales might solve the problem of cost (Cliff Bleszinski among them) others argue that lowering the cost might actually have the same effect (Valve) by vastly increasing sales.

In the end, we can only hope someone finds a solution for these absurd development costs.  As much as certain developers might bother us with their practices from time to time, ultimately it is everyone, including us gamers, who stand to lose if they fail entirely.

]]>