Development Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Development RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network New Details for Inazuma Eleven Ares Emerge Tue, 14 Nov 2017 12:21:15 -0500 Erroll Maas

An interview with the Level-5 president and CEO, Akihiro Hino, has been released in the newest issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine. During the interview, Hino revealed a handful of new information about the upcoming Inazuma Eleven Ares, the newest game in the Inazuma Eleven soccer RPG series. The game is set to release after the start of the Inazuma Eleven Ares anime series.

Although the Inazuma Eleven series was originally intended for children, the developers are including more enjoyable features for older fans. Hino feels that Inazuma Eleven Ares has the potential to become as popular as Yo-Kai Watch (another series developed by Level-5) and hopes that everyone will play the new game. With the way development is progressing, players will be able to feel that they are truly playing a soccer game. The series' longtime feature of scouting players for your team will return and you will be able to scout players from the teams you have defeated.

It was decided that the game's scale was becoming too much for the Nintendo 3DS to handle, so the new game will be on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. In addition, Level-5 decided to support as wide a range of platforms as possible so that more people will get the chance to play the game. The game will also be supporting smartphones due to the needs of the current generation, though there will  likely be some differences in game design between the console and smartphone releases of the game.

Hino would like the game to have many different new features, including the ability to take screenshots. All assets the game is using are brand new, and there is a new player-related system that has not appeared in previous entries.

Inazuma Eleven Ares is slated for a Summer 2018 release in Japan for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android. At this time, it is currently unknown if the game will have an official release outside of Japan.

Stay tuned in to GameSkinny for more Inazuma Eleven Ares updates.

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



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. 



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.



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. 



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.



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!

6 RPGs With Terrible Animations That Are Still Worth Your Time Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:00:02 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum


Most RPGs


You don’t have to look far to find bad animations in the RPG genre. RPG’s have often been at the forefront of the industry when it comes to pushing new gameplay types, as they often abstract new ideas and concepts into creative gameplay. But extra breadth and depth of systems have often left RPGs lacking in the artistic departments. After all, creating high-quality art for 60 hours of content is harder than for 10 hours of content.


It’s undeniable that games like Fallout 4 do not have the same polished gameplay, including animations, as games like Call of Duty. But that’s not the draw of RPGs, it never was.


Do you even care if RPGs have bad animations? Or do you think that RPGs need the polish in gameplay and animations? Let us know in the comments below!


World of Warcraft

Blizzard is too Busy Counting Benjamins to Care About Animations

There are a couple big reasons that WoW’s animations are bad:

  1. WoW is an old game - sure it has overgone some makeovers, but it at its core it is still an old game.
  2. \n
  3. It is an MMO - fancier graphics make it harder for people to run the game, thus reducing your viable demographic. It is a balancing act.
  4. \n

One of the aspects that make MMO animations look so bad, WoW’s in particular, is the way characters move. They hop and spin in mid-air in a way that is unnatural even for video games. They walk through other characters. Bulky armor often clips through level geometry, particularly in buildings. Attacks track an insane amount.


Alas, bad animations have not derailed this behemoth MMORPG as it has aged well over a decade plus.


Tales of Berseria

Cutting (and Clipping) Corners!

It can be hard to watch footage and get the feeling that the animations in Berseria are bad (they just don't look it). But playing the game conveys a huge lack of polish.


When you press the analog stick forward it feels like your character instantly starts running at full speed; the transition between standing and running is not smooth at all.


Your character also doesn’t rotate smoothly when running. It often looks like you are merely running straight and then your character is just rotated when they change direction. The character does not bother to lean towards the direction they are moving as they shift their weight.


It's a lot of subtlety that was not there in the PS2’s generation, but which was brought into animation on the last gen of consoles.


Moreover, many of the attacks in Tales of Berseria yank your character around, removing them from their “center of gravity” so to speak. For instance, there’s an attack where your character hops right of where she was standing and leaps from right to left while swiping. She starts in the middle, jumps off the the right, and then yanks over to the left before unnaturally resetting in the middle. In short, the animations feel low budget.


Thankfully the anime style helps save the day. Character models don’t need to be as detailed because of this. A lot of the dialogue that’s delivered via text blurbs is also accompanied by anime portraits. And the fully animated cutscenes are honestly gorgeous.


Final Fantasy XV

Beauty is a Beast (to Control)

One of my first impressions/concerns of Final Fantasy XV after watching gameplay footage was, ”this looks fun but sluggish.” It looked as if there was so much concentration placed into making an attack feel weighty that it ended up making it feel slow and unresponsive. Similarly, some of the animations were made to look so aesthetically beautiful that they don’t actually feel all that good, like jumping.


When I first played ME:A, I wasn’t in love with the look of the jump --  although it wasn’t bad --  then I realized it felt great, and this made me love it way more. This was the opposite reaction I had to the jump in FFXV.


That being said, FFXV is a fun road trip with your pals, especially the earlier parts. And there’s something cathartic about that.


Salt and Sanctuary

Picking on the Little Guy

This game is really easy to suggest. Do you like 2D platformers? Do you like the Souls games? If you answered yes to both of those questions then you will almost certainly enjoy this game. In fact, one of the main knocks on the game was not that it did a poor job copying the spirit of the Souls games, but that it was so close to those games that it lacked its own identity. Something that wouldn’t actually be a problem had the developers in question been From Software or their past employees.


Salt and Sanctuary's jilted animations are more forgivable since it was developed by a small team, unlike the other games on this list. It is reminiscent of stop-motion paper animation. So if you like that art style then you will probably like this game's style.


Fallout 4

Bad, but Not Oblivion

Bethesda is similar to Bioware in that they have also helped drive the RPG genre in recent years, but they also have some pretty bad animations in their games, and their name also starts with the letter ‘B’.


Now let’s not pretend that Fallout 4’s animations are great. The characters often look stiff when moving. And enemies in particular either don’t react to being shot, or they completely overreact by flying 15 feet upon getting hit with a kill shot.


I would even go as far to say that facial animations look less natural in Fallout 4 than in ME:A. However, I think that most reactions have smoother transitions and are less jarring than what happens in ME:A at times.


Dragon Age: Inquisition

All in the Family

Bioware’s strong suit has never been animation. While it did not suffer from the same degree of bad facial animations as the likes of ME:A, it's combat animations were arguably worse.


A common running theme you will find on this list is that half of what makes an animation good is how the character controls. This is to say when you have the controller in your hand does the action you are doing feel like it matches with the actions on screen. Does the character move in sync with your button presses? Is the character responsive? Etc.


While ME:A’s combat feels smooth and responsive, DA:I’s can feel like a weird mashup between action game and RPG. It is not quite as action-oriented as a full blown ARPG, like Darksiders, but it is definitely not as rooted in RPG tradition as Dragon Age: Origins was.


Mass Effect: Andromeda’s animations have been complained about and mocked ever since early pre-release footage. In the days leading up to release the noise only got louder with the bubble finally bursting a few days later.


Having played the game a good deal, I can agree: the animations aren’t great; facial animations, in particular, are pretty bad.


Humans make odd faces, many of which are not very natural. Often characters look like you pulled someone off the street and asked them to act. Many times the animations wouldn’t be bad per say, but would be jarring. For instance, a character might quickly transition between exceptionally happy and profoundly sad. The game’s heavy emphasis on storytelling means bad facial animations are immediately evident.


There are much smaller animation problems in other aspects of the game. For instance, when your weapon is put away Ryder’s movement feels like you are moving on ice.


In spite of some wonky animations, I’ve found ME:A to be thoroughly enjoyable when combat is at its finest. So I decided to gather some other RPGs with bad animations that also happen to be pretty darned fun.

Video Game Remakes and Remasters are Killing This Industry Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:00:02 -0400 Marc Hollinshead

Remasters, remakes, definitive editions, HD collections; whatever you want to call them, they’re more prevalent in the industry than ever. Games that have barely had a few years of life on the shelf are already receiving a glossy coat of paint with all of the DLC thrown in to land a few extra bucks. It might be good for business, but it’s certainly not good for the evolution of the games industry as a whole. You could even say that this practice is actually devolving the world of video games to the eventual point of death.

The last generation of consoles saw HD collections of older games emerging. Classic titles from the Metal Gear Solid and Hitman, amongst a plethora of others, were repackaged and given HD treatment for newer systems for enhanced performance. This provided a nostalgia trip for returning fans as well an incentive to hop on board for those who never got the chance to experience the games when they first launched. These collections weren’t exceedingly common at this stage, though, so it was forgivable that we saw a few of them rear their heads.

Metal Gear Solid, HD Collection, Remaster

Then came the current generation. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 toted much more powerful technology that allowed enhanced graphics, bigger games and better performance for any developer’s creation. However, the ever-growing games industry became a magnet for shady business practices, cutting corners for the sake of extra prophet. Easily being one of the biggest grossing entertainment industries on the planet, re-releasing games that are still fresh in players’ minds started to be the norm and it has skyrocketed these past couple of years. Let’s take a look at few examples.

The reboot of Tomb Raider was lauded over by many as the triumphant return of gaming icon Lara Croft. March 2013 was quite the month, thanks to Ms. Croft and her reimagined origin story. 

Later that year, the next generation of consoles were unleashed to the world, and of course, this brought along an advanced gaming system. Barely a few months later, Tomb Raider was re-released in the form of Tomb Raider Definitive Edition.

What was this? An option for those who wanted to see Lara’s escapades in higher definition? Or was it simply a cash grab, a sneaky tactic to acquire even more money on what was already deemed a successful title? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Tomb Raider, 2013, Lara Croft

The Last of Us could be seen as Naughty Dog’s crowning achievement in their most recent years as a developer. This new IP was quite literally worshipped by gamers across the globe for its storytelling, sublime graphics, and solid gameplay, so what better way to celebrate this than to remaster it? Just over a year later, the title became The Last of Us Remastered on PS4.

In the same vein as Tomb Raider, the game was released prior to the next wave of consoles so there is the argument that fans wanted a higher performing version of both games while they were still fresh in their minds. However, the very fact that they were still fresh validates how pointless these re-releases really were.

Since the first remasters of this generation hit, many other developers and publishers decided to jump on the bandwagon. Sleeping Dogs, Gears of War, Dark Souls II, Uncharted and many more were ported over to the newer consoles under the banner of “Shiny, new and amazing edition”.

The problem with this is that many of these games simply aren’t old enough to justify these newer editions. While the difference can be seen in games that are older like the first Uncharted and the original Gears of War, the others aren’t as worthwhile.

Uncharted, The Nathan Drake Collection

There is also the flip side of the remaster practice. Developers have also given us remakes of much older games, or currently have them in the works. Ones of note are the remake of Final Fantasy VII and the Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy. These particular titles have received an extreme makeover, as the developers have literally made them from the ground up as though they were a new game.

Of course, we know that they aren’t brand new games as we have experienced these adventures in years gone by. Make no mistake, Crash looks sensational in his shiny new form and the nostalgia trip will be like no other, but one can’t help but think what those resources and hours of labour could have been used for instead. A whole new game, perhaps? We can only speculate.

Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bash

We know that the big names of the industry jump at the opportunity to cash in on their most successful games, but there is one such company that has denied fans a remaster of a certain series, even after they specifically asked for it.

The Mass Effect series is plastered across the Internet more than ever at the moment, thanks to the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, but instead many are pining for a return trip to the Milky Way with Shepard in a remastered trilogy.

While originally pondering the idea, EA has basically said a flat out no to this happening. Whether this is one of the few series that deserve a remaster, or that fans have cottoned onto the growing trend and want this one as well is anyone’s guess, but it appears that EA has got the right idea in terms of trying to move the industry forward. However, it is still a little baffling that EA of all companies aren’t following through with a remaster. Profit is what they love, after all.

Mass Effect, Shepard, Commander

Innovation is what the games industry really needs to push it forward. When one developer found solace in remasters, many others followed so if another dev utilizes the tech available to them to its full potential, then with any luck the rest will attempt to do the same. With backwards compatibility on Xbox One, and the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio making an entrance, there’s more reason than ever to leave old games behind and be revolutionary in what can be achieved.

Many of us have shamefully been lured into a tantalizing remaster or re-release at some point, and it’s hard to deny that a Mass Effect trilogy collection for the current generation, despite all three games being backwards compatible on Xbox One, would be a dream come true, but we must grit our teeth and see the real reason behind this business practice -- business.

Innovation and adventure should always come first in this industry if it really wants to succeed, so let’s hope that developers will have their clouded vision cleared. That way, their old titles don’t have to keep them afloat, but rather the immeasurable success of newer ones can see them shooting to gaming stardom.

What Can Disneyland Teach To Aspiring Game Designers? Fri, 20 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Caio Sampaio

If you wish to become a video game designer, it is wise to learn as much as possible about the field, but do not forget other mediums. Innovation is a vital element of the gaming industry and one of the keys for developing novel concepts is looking for inspiration where no one else is.

You can have your "eureka moment" and think of a new technique when watching a scene from a movie, reading a description in a novel or walking through an amusement park.

When it comes down to parks, Walt Disney World is the dream destination of most people around the globe, as it occupies the number one spot on the list of most visited theme parks on Earth, according to the website World Atlas.

This popularity did not happen without a reason. The experiences in the park are carefully constructed to push the human imagination to its limit and aiming to keep the Disney standard of quality in the park, the company developed a list known as Mickey's Ten Commandments.

This is a set of rules Disney uses when creating new attractions to the park, but it can also prove valuable to an aspiring video game developer, as parks and game design have a lot more in common than you may think.

Mickey's Ten Commandments are:

1- Know your audience;

2- Wear your guests shoes;

3- Organize the flow of people and ideas;

4- Create a weenie (visual magnet);

5- Communicate with visual literacy;

6- Avoid overload;

7- Tell one story at a time;

8- Avoid contradiction;

9- For every once of treatment, provide a ton of fun;

10- Keep it up!

In this article, we will explain each one of these rules and address how designers can apply them to design better games, but before talking about Mickey's Ten Commandments and their use in gaming, let's discuss  one core similarity between designing a park and a video game.

It is all about the experience:

Released in 2013 by Irrational Games and 2K, BioShock Infinite is a First Person Shooter that allowed players to be in the shoes of Booker DeWitt, a former solider who received the mission of travelling to the floating city of Columbia to rescue Elizabeth, a girl who spent her life incarcerated in a tower due to her ability to open doors to parallel universes.

The universe of BioShock Infinite (above) carries many references to Walt Disney World, from the art, to the design of the areas, where each one carried a specific theme, as in a Disney park.

The most important aspect to observe in this game; however, is that whilst its core gameplay mechanic consists of shooting enemies, the experience is larger than that.

As players walk through the streets of the city, they explore the area and uncover its secrets and pay attention to the slightest detail of the carefully crafted world, as they interact with its characters.

This occurs for a reason -- suspension of disbelief.

This is a basic technique of entertainment, which consists of making the audience accept the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are absurd in real life. The idea is to allow players to forget about the logic of the real world and immerse themselves in a fictional universe.

In order to "sell" the idea of a floating city in BioShock Infinite, developers created a set of rules through the story of the game and crafted every section of the experience accordingly, from the art style, to the soundtrack.

It is crucial that every aspect of the production communicates the same vision. A poorly placed element could break the immersion and ruin the experience of the player.

With this being said, BioShock Infinite is a shooter, but its success occurred due to the sum of its parts. Audio, art style, characters and many more elements that, when put together, created a whole experience.

Now, regarding Walt Disney World...

The central point of Disney, and any theme park, are the rides, but they alone cannot sustain the success the park has had. People do not go to Disney to ride a roller coaster, they go there, in order to explore the park and enjoy the experience as whole, to the finest details that compose the magic universe of Walt Disney World.

Just as BioShock Infinite is a shooter, but people do not play it solely for the shooting, Disney is a park, but people do not go there simply for the rides. In both cases, what people wish for is the whole experience.

The whole experience is what makes a game successful, not only its basic mechanics.

The whole experience is what made Disney successful, not only its rides.

This is the connection of game design and Walt Disney World. Their success depend on carefully crafted experiences, which need several fragments to come together and become an united piece.

This is a crucial lesson any aspiring designers needs to learn. A game is a lot more than just its gameplay.

With this said, it is time to analyze with more detail how Disney builds its parks and how these lessons apply to game design. In order to do this, we will take a look at the aforementioned Mickey's Ten Commandments.

1- Know your audience:

"Identify the prime audience for your attraction or show before you begin design."

In any commercial endeavor, it is crucial to determine who your target audience is. Any aspiring designer must understand that he may have to develop a game for an audience he is not found within.

If that is the case, it is paramount to discover the preferences of the target demographic, in order to determine the direction of the project.

This brief intro takes us to the next topic.

2- Wear your Guests’ shoes:

"Insist that your team members experience your creation just the way Guests do."

In this case, we should change "guests" for "players."

This second Mickey Commandment claims that a creator of a experience, as well as the people behind it, should see his work through the lenses of the audience. This is boils down to a single word: empathy.

The Marrian-Webster dictionary defines empathy as:

"The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner"

This skill is fundamental, because the designer needs to create a product that suits the taste of the target audience and if the designer is not inserted in this demographic, he/she may need to develop a game that is not fun for himself/herself.

In order to clarify this idea, let's see an example:

Imagine a 30 years old man, who needs to develop a game for a target audience that consists of teenage girls. The dissonance between the tastes of the designer and of his target demographic will make it hard for him to create a successful game, unless he develops empathy and starts to look at his design through the eyes of a teenage girl.

This is a tricky feat to achieve and in order to do so, the designer must know as much as possible about the players. Luckily, the field of psychology has some tools to make the life of a game designer easier in this regard.

One of them is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Wikipedia entry explains what it is:

"It is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions."

Once the volunteer answers all of the questions, a report is generated, which gives an overall look at a person's psyche, as the image below shows:

The video below shows the YouTube channel The Game Theorists using this test to analyze the personality of its audience, in order to determine the reason why players had certain preferences in the choice-based game Life is Strange.

                                  [Warning: Spoilers for Life is Strange]

After applying this test to several people who represent the target audience, a game designer will have a solid idea of what to aim for when designing the game, thus develop empathy.

So, now you have the tools to know the drives of your target audience. What comes next? Mickey's Third Commandment tells us.

3- Organize the flow of people and ideas:

"Make sure there is a logic and sequence in our stories and the way Guests experience them."

 In Disneyland, each area of the park tells a different story, but the designers of the park ensured to expose each narrative in a concise way.

In video game design, this Commandment is mostly associated with open world games, through the way the development team places the various points of the world in the map.

Take for example the world of Fallout 4 (below).

Each one of these locations tells to the player a bit about the story of the game, but it is important to know where to position these places. The game must deliver the story in a concise, logical and sequential order, otherwise the player may become confused and lose the interest in the narrative.

To prevent this from happening, the developers must take into account two factors -- the player's starting point in the world and the game mechanic known as "fast travel."

Have you ever wondered why in most games you can only fast travel to a location after you have traveled there for the first time? There are plenty of reasons, but one of them to is to ensure that the player will follow the background story in a logical order.

In most open world games, which parts of the story a location tells is based on how far from the player's starting point this place is. With this said, if a player walks closely to the starting point, regardless of the direction, he/she will only uncover simple details of the story, while the game reserves more in-depth information for areas further away.

If the game grants to the player the ability to fast travel to a location, without progressing through the game to arrive in it, it will risk breaking the narrative, as players will discover elements of the story out of sequential order.

With this said, as Mickey's Third Commandment states, it is paramount that a game designer creates an experience that tells a story in a concise way, even if it is fragmented, as in a Disney park.

4 - Create a wienie (visual magnet):

"Create visual 'targets' that will lead Guests clearly and logically through your facility."

In a park, it is important to add visual clues indicating where to go next and so is in gaming. Players need to understand clearly where to go, in order to proceed with the plot, but adding an element to act as "visual magnet" can be tricky.

As stated herein, the game designer must sell the "plausibility" of the fiction, in order to suspend the disbelief of players and allow them to immerse themselves in the game.

If you add a visual element to guide players, but it does not mix with the rest of the universe, you will break the immersion, as the visual magnet will be perceived by players as a foreign element.

An example of visual magnets being well implemented in a game is Journey, where developers added a mountain with a light beam coming from its top. Most importantly, through the art of the game, this visual element matches with the surroundings of the player, thus feeling natural and maintaining the suspension of disbelief.

A game which received mixed reactions regarding its use visual magnets was Splinter Cell: Conviction (below).

The game used text projected on objects and walls to tell to the player where to go. These had the intention of showing to players the thoughts of Sam Fisher, the protagonist. 

A poll on Ubisoft's official forum asked whether players wanted to have the option to remove these projections from the game. The results showed a perfect split. As we see in the comment from this poll, some users felt that the projected texts were intrusive and hurt the immersion of the gameplay.

This brings us to an important conclusion -- when designing visual magnets, it is a safer bet to use objects that are already part of the universe, as the mountain of Journey, so they do not stand out in a negative way, appearing as foreign elements, as the texts of Splinter Cell: Conviction.

This connects with the next Commandment from Mickey Mouse.

5- Communicate with visual literacy:

"Make good use of color, shape form, texture – all the nonverbal ways of communication."

"Always show, do not tell," is a basic rule of any medium that delivers a story and it has more importance in video game than in any other form of storytelling.

According to the video below from the YouTube channel Extra Creditsone hour-long television shows have approximately 20-30 minutes of dialogue, whereas in video games, this figure drops to ten.

This occurs due to the interactive nature of games. They allow their audience to explore the environment and receive information regarding the plot by observing the world around them, as opposed to relying on an exposition done by a character.

This reduces the number of words spoken in a game, but places greater emphasis on what is known as "environmental storytelling" -- telling a story through the world.

A game that mastered this type of narrative is BioShock (below).

In it, players survive as they explore the fallen underwater utopia of Rapture. The image above shows how the game uses visuals to tell portions of the story.

In this point of the game, no character has told to the protagonist when this society met its demise, but through the art of the world, players know that it happened during New Year's Eve of 1959.

This is just one example of tens, if not hundreds, of opportunities where the development team found a way to send a message to the player through the art of the game.

6- Avoid overload – create turn-ons

"Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information and too many objects."

You can tell a story through the environment, but it is important to avoid filling the world of the game with an overabundance of objects and information, otherwise you may confuse the player with an overwhelming amount of messages and visual pollution.

To achieve this goal, we can rely on a rule from film making, which states that every object that appears on screen must have relevance to either the story or to the development of the character.

This concept provides us with a solid idea when designing environments for a game. As an aspiring game designer, when creating your levels, you must discover which objects and visual guides are essential to the player, in regards to both combat and environmental storytelling.

If you add too many objects to a room, not only the will distract the player, but they will consume resources from the team, as additional time will be required to create them. In the end, everybody loses.

Keep it simple, but you should also avoid placing too few objects and make the world lose its life. Finding the right balance can be tricky and concept arts are usually the most useful tool to use in this case.

The world of Mirror's Edge is an example of a game that only has enough objects in the area to build the suspension of disbelief and allow players to navigate through the level in a challenging way, as seen in the image above.

Which brings us to the next topic...

7 - Tell one story at a time:

"If you have a lot of information divide it into distinct, logical, organized stories, people can absorb and retain information more clearly if the path to the next concept is clear and logical."

As previously stated herein, in a Disney park, visitors walk through different areas and each one of them have a different theme and mostly importantly, they all tell a different story.

The 7th Commandment of Mickey Mouse exists in order to ensure the audience understands the message being delivered in a concise way. To do this, it is crucial that all of the areas in the park tell a different story, but all of them connect somehow to create a larger narrative arc.

This same principle applies to game design, and to discuss a stellar example of this concept in practice, we will take a look at BioShock once again.

In The 5th Commandment of Mickey, we addressed the concept of environmental storytelling and its use in this production. In order to understand how the rule of "tell one story at time" fits in this game, we first need to answer why it relies heavily on environmental storytelling. It is all about the narrative structure of the game.

The most common type of story consists of three acts:

Act I - Introduction to the characters and the universe of the story. It ends once the conflict of the plot starts.

Act II - The quest of the protagonist to resolve the main conflict of the narrative. Ends with the climax.

Act III - A brief glimpse of how the characters and/or the universe changed after the conflict has been resolved.

This structure is mostly used in literature and films, but in video games, it changes a bit. Given that the selling point of video games is their interactive nature, developers try to put the player in the middle of the conflict as soon as possible.

For this purpose, they often use a literary device known as "in medias res", which means "in the middle of things". This concept consists of starting the story on Act II, in the middle of the main conflict, and BioShock made a masterful use of this technique by dropping the player in the middle of the conflict for the control of Rapture.

"But how did developers introduced players to the characters and the conflict erupting in Rapture without the first act?" You may ask.

This is where environmental storytelling comes into play.

Through the art of the fallen society of Rapture, players can get glimpses of how life once was in that city and through constructions, posters and propaganda, the audience can understand the events that led to the downfall of the city, thus delivering the information of Act I, while players explore Act II.

The story of Rapture; however, is very complex, to the point it was turned into the novel BioShock Rapture, written by John Shirley, so delivering this amount of information through the visuals of the game is not an easy task.

The story of BioShock consists of the player traveling through key areas of the city of Rapture (above) and each one of these locations tell a mini-story. The player reaches the area, but some event prevents the audience from moving to the next level. Players then need to complete certain tasks to overcome these obstacles and continue to the next part of town.

This is how BioShock managed to deliver a complex story in an understandable way. It broke down the story of the city into smaller narratives and delivered them to players one at a time -- one level at a time.

8 - Avoid Contradictions:

"Clear institutional identity helps give you the competitive edge. Public needs to know who you are and what differentiates you from other institutions they may have seen."

Every major video game franchise has an element that identifies it, regardless of that being a character, the art style, a gameplay mechanic of a combination of each of these factors.

The problem; however, is that as more installments of the series are developed, it can become difficult to maintain the identity of the franchise -- the reason why it became popular.

A series need to change over time, in order to keep its fans engaged, but this movement needs to be planned carefully. If the change contradicts one of the essences of the franchise, the fans will not be pleased with the result.

A prime example of how the lack of consistence can hurt a series is the latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise, Infinite Warfare, which sold approximately 50% less than its predecessor.

With the franchise moving away from its military roots to pursue shootings in outer space, it lost its identity and the interest of its fans in the process. This is a clear example of what NOT to do when aiming to deliver some change to a franchise.

9 - For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of fun 

"How do you woo people from all other temptations? Give people plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves by emphasizing ways that let people participate in the experience and by making your environment rich and appealing to all senses."

This Commandment from the world's most beloved mouse stands for the autonomy visitors have in Disneyland. They can go to the rides, visit the areas and watch the shows in any order they wish and through all of the techniques created above, Disney created an alternative reality, via its parks, which provide a rich experience to all of the senses of a person. Even the smell of popcorn is added to some areas where visitors will watch a show, in order to explore people's senses to their fullest.

The most important aspect to observe here is the autonomy visitors have and how they can still enjoy the experience regardless of how they choose to spend their time in the park.

This is similar to the premise of GTA V, a game that allows players to explore an open world in any way they want and this is one of the reasons for its success. Through the autonomy it allows players to have when deciding what to do in the game, it pleases a broad audience.

This is a lesson every aspiring designer must have in mind. Of course, not every project has neither the scope nor the budget of GTA V, but it is important to allow players to have some autonomy on how they tackle the situations within the game. This not only adds depth to the gameplay, but also broadens the target audience of the project, thus making it more profitable.

10 - Keep it up!

"Never underestimate the importance of cleanliness and routine maintenance, people expect to get a good show every time, people will comment more on broken and dirty stuff."

Everything in a Disney park is built aiming for perfection, even maintenance and cleaning duty, as Disney strives to deliver to visitors the absolute best experience they possibly can. If you are an aspiring video game designer, this is the mindset you should follow.

Of course, it is impossible to be perfect, especially in the video game industry with the budget and schedule constraints teams operate under, but that should not stop you from trying anyways. When you do what you love, there is no excuse to not dedicate a 100% of yourself to delivering the best game you possibly can.

Do not use the circumstances as an excuse for delivering an underwhelming game, because players will only care for the quality of the final product, not the circumstances under which it was created.


These commandments developed by Disney have withstand the testament of time and are still relevant today, as Walt Disney World continues to be the most popular theme park in the world.

I made my best to summarize the applications of these rules in game design, but this is a complex topic and if you wish to know more details about the reasoning behind the art of crafting experiences at Disney, I recommend the book One Little Spark, which you can purchase for 14 dollars on Amazon.

Of course, these are only some guidelines you should follow when designing your game, but they show that making the right connections, it is possible to link two subjects that seem unrelated to each other.

So, next time your are watching a film, reading a book or walking through a theme park, remember to keep an eye on the small details, as it is always possible to learn from other forms of art.

As Steve Jobs said, innovation is all about "connecting the dots."

Time to Accept It -- All Signs Point to the Nintendo Switch Being Great Mon, 09 Jan 2017 23:32:20 -0500 DannyPTP

With the Nintendo Switch looming over the horizon, many gamers have been questioning just how exactly Nintendo's latest will compare to the likes of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, and will it have the same power behind it?

DrinkBox co-founder Graham Smith, Rebellion Developments co-founder Chris Kingsley, and Zen Studios VP of Publishing Mel Kirk, have given their opinions on the ease of development and power of the console.

On Power:

Mel Kirk notes that, while the technology to do so is readily available, Nintendo are focusing on bringing excitement to it's fans by delivering great first-party titles to the Switch, which in turn, will lead the tech to being a popular adoption by third-party developers. He also notes the system specs, saying:

"At the moment, the Nintendo Switch does not appear to be about system horsepower or technology that takes consoles to new heights."

Chris Kingsley believes that power has never been a liability of Nintendo's:

"For me, the power argument rests on getting near parity with other consoles to make it easier to bring your games onto multiple platforms"

The Switch is definitely more powerful, especially for those used to mobile platforms, but perhaps not powerful enough for some -- especially those used to triple-A development.

Zelda botw

On Developing For The Console

The Nintendo Switch is NVIDIA-based, which brings a whole deal of new features to its technology.

Chris Kingsley talks about how this will affect the development process:

"If development is more akin to other “standard” ways of working, that should help make life easier for developers in general, so we can spend more time making games great and less just making games work."

Graham Smith states that while he isn't familiar with the technology, development for Wii U wasn't difficult, so he would be surprised if Nintendo did anything to make development for The Switch harder.

It'll be interesting to see what Nintendo has up their sleeves to bring to the table, and to see how developers will use the Switch's technology to their advantage while developing their games.

How do you feel about the console? Will you be picking it up to see how it fares? Comment below!

Gears of War 4: Better a Safe Emergence Than a Berserker Approach Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:45:52 -0400 Angelo De Bellis

At the very heart of the third-person shooter genre on the Xbox 360 was the original Gears of War. Gears of War was a trailblazer when it came to doing third-person shooting right. It took a group of disgruntled chunky warfighters to battle with intense gore, cover-based shooting, and some of the most refined high-definition graphics at the time.

What made it such a powerful game in the early days of the 360 era was that it delivered both a thrilling single-player campaign, and what was arguably the best third-person arena-based shooter at the time.  For me, the Gears series is one of the principal reasons I play Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. The Xbox 360 hardware was epitomized by Gears of War: it represented a meshing of graphical fidelity and online superiority.

Though the later games in the series didn’t exactly garner as much might as the original, they were all solid experiences in their own right, and do, for the most part, feel in harmony with the introductory game in the series. With that in mind, the Gears series could have concluded with the prequel game—Gears of War Judgement—because, once combined, all the titles felt like a complete, well-rounded experience.  

But I can’t say that I’m disappointed about the decision to let the series live on in the form of Gears of War 4. Prior to its launch, my chief worry about continuing the franchise -- and I’m sure I wasn’t alone -- was how the new developers would treat the staple series, what I consider the identity of the Microsoft home console.

If you’ve played through or are in the midst of completing the Canadian-developed Gears of War 4, then you likely have great faith in The Coalition when it comes to taking an existing series and doing it right. And by that I mean that as dedicated Gears of War fans, you have probably noticed that much of what made the decade-old series a treat to play, remains largely the same today.

The one issue that seems have been swarming the web is that there are several overt references to past games in the series, including reused gameplay segments, graphical similarities, recycled weapon types, and archetypal enemies.

All of these repetitive inclusions may leave you feeling that Gears of War 4 plays things a little too safe, and I would admit that you are correct. But I’d like to explore why a safe emergence for The Coalition was probably the best endeavor the creator newcomers could have brought to the series, and why it makes sense that they handled the next entry in the franchise the way they did.

Be warned -- if you haven’t yet beaten the game, some spoilers may be unearthed.

Let's Dim the Mood

Starting with the dark aspects of Gears of War 4, one can clearly see that the latest entry was heavily inspired by the macabre horror elements of the original Gears of War. Though the latest release includes a number at the end of its title, I don’t necessarily consider it to be an extension of the series, but rather more of a reboot that just happens to take place in Marcus’ senior years.

Drawing on the dimly lit, gray, bloody aspects of Gears of War, Gears of War 4 really hits the mark when it comes to the overall graphical tone. And this tone is vital when it comes to making the new Gears feel like it belongs amongst the ranks of the original series. For that reason, I would be disappointed if Gears 4 did venture too far into the future of sentient, government-controlled robots.

Uprooting the franchise would have at best attracted a new crowd, and at worst provided an unfulfilling adventure for purists and an erratic, identity-lacking shooter for the newcomers.

Before the release of Gears of War 4, I was unsure about how the DeeBees would fit into the whole experience. I mean, Gears of War was always about seeing chunks of bloody flesh flying around, not about watching sparks and metallic doodads. Luckily the Swarm fills in for the Locust, and the DeeBees don’t detract much from the moody locales present in the new game. The problem with having too much focus on the DeeBees would be that it’d probably make Gears of War feel more futuristic and less horrific. So, while it may be true that the Swarm are a laughable replacement for the Locust, I have no qualms if it means that the game retains the gore and gray of the original.

The mood of Gears is dark and dire, hopeless and persistent; remember the Mad World song that would play during the original’s marketing campaigns? That’s Gears, and the madness of carving through waves of foreign evils to find Kait’s mother paints the mood well.

Not All Skull Pops Need a Good Story

I found that the story of Gears of War 4 wasn’t necessarily a very robust one -- but then again, the original games didn’t exactly have the most detailed narrative encounters. The Gears series has much in the way of lore, high-action sequences, and unique gameplay segments, but the story usually hinges on a single note—kill the ugly monsters from beneath the ground.

And you know what? That’s all I really need. That, some really tight gameplay, and a few comedic moments between the squad members who fight alongside the protagonist, JD Fenix in this case.

There may not exist much character depth between the squad members introduced in Gears of War 4 -- but as in the original Gears, the back-and-forth banter between the beasts in armor does a fine job at exemplifying the comradery and thirst to defeat any foreign threat standing in their way. Besides, the addition of veteran Marcus is a great way to harken back to the old series.

I enjoyed how Marcus, a symbol of an aged franchise, joins and leads the youthful deserters of the COG, almost as if to shepherd them towards a future without him.

Like Father, Like Son

This leads me to my final point. I think it was wise of The Coalition to play to the strengths of the original Gears of War game without necessarily turning it on its head, because it establishes the studio’s reputation for what is to come.

Now that they have essentially quenched the bloodthirst of Gears veterans, they can make a calculated shift in the next entries. And a calculated shift it will be -- did you catch that twist ending? The finale of the game supports an interesting relationship between the old Locust queen and a potential new one, and will certainly lead to some interesting turmoil between Kait and her comrades.

By carefully taking what made the original special, The Coalition traveled cautiously to massage a familiar experience towards a future one that may lead further into uncharted territory.

Uprooting the franchise would have at best attracted a new crowd, and at worst provided an unfulfilling adventure for purists and an erratic, identity-lacking shooter for the newcomers. If it is true that the greatest artists mimic works of other successful artists, then The Coalition does well to grasp onto the backs of giants before gently releasing their grip to proceed onward.

Well, we're not here to sell cookies... So they know something's up.

By coming out like a berserker, Gears of War 4 and the attributed developer, The Coalition, would have risked ruining what made the series great. They could have torn the very fabric of the beloved franchise and tainted the imulsion powering the games going forward.

Perhaps it may have been refreshing to see stark differences between Gears of War 4 and Gears of War, but I’d much rather a safe return to Sera so that future games are guaranteed a shot at success. That, and like many, I am a sucker for nostalgia. Now that The Coalition is well-cemented as a successful Gears of War developer, we should apply just a bit more pressure when it comes time for them to deliver the inevitable Gears 5.

Why Can't Developers Make Classic Franchises Great Forever? Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:00:01 -0400 Eliot Lefebvre

Mega Man. Sonic the Hedgehog. Final Fantasy. Resident Evil. Silent Hill. These are just a small number of franchises that helped define my personal gaming history. And they're also franchises with fans who react to new titles with less "oh, great!" and more "ugh, not again."

This is kind of an inversion from the earlier days of gaming; I remember that there was once an unofficial rule that movie sequels were always terrible while game sequels were always good. In several of the above cases, the franchises even have provided some great games along the way, but they're also games that didn't connect with the long-time fans who would have been eagerly awaiting the next installment.

So why aren't older franchises evergreen? Why do the games you loved two decades ago not lead to more games in the same style now? The answer is that there are a lot of reasons why classic franchises aren't great forever, and it's helpful to understand why that's the case.

The people responsible have left...

When people start listing the great Silent Hill games, they always include the first three, usually including the fourth with a bit of a grudging nod, and pretty much never include the later games. Incidentally, the first four games were the only ones developed by Team Silent at Konami, with each subsequent installment developed by a completely different team.

Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. The creative team behind a game can really inform a lot of what goes into the actual game, and that goes beyond just saying that the original designers are always the best at designing a franchise. Teams that work together and develop multiple games can often produce games that feel very similar to one another in a positive way, but once people move on or new people come on board, the games they produce often feel very different even if they have the same core ideas. When Inafune left Capcom, that didn't stop the publisher from making more Mega Man games... but it also meant that the original creator wasn't there any longer, and that was after several staff and platform changes.

You can't just hand off tasks to an endless series of different people who don't necessarily understand the appeal of the original games. Watching a team really nail a franchise for multiple installments is a thing of beauty; witness the past few Persona titles, for example. But it's never permanent.

...and they might not have the spark left anyway

Here's a fun fact: Hideo Kojima wanted to leave the Metal Gear franchise after every single title. Why does Metal Gear Solid 2 end with such a bizarre, nonsensical cliffhanger? Because Kojima never intended to resolve it. He didn't want any lingering cliffhangers after the first Metal Gear Solid, he wanted to make that and be done with it. But he kept getting pulled back for another one, resulting in an ongoing contest of wills in which the franchise just would not die.

It's not just a matter of spite, though; playing through Mighty No. 9 repeatedly made me think that maybe Inafune needed to hang up his hat, that he just didn't have any more Mega Man in him. The reality of that, is that it's fine. Games are art like any other form, and it's fine to hand off the reins to someone new after a while. It just means that you are going to see a different sort of game, probably one that doesn't exactly resemble the originals.

The franchise has evolved past your memory

Final Fantasy was Hironobu Sakaguchi's last game ever. That was the plan. He made a game he never expected to sell as a wild experiment, so he could leave the field happy. Instead, it wound up becoming a huge success, resulting in a long-running series that has always brought on a wide variety of different developers and storytellers to make a series of games that are not meant as direct sequels to one another.

When people complain that, say, Final Fantasy XIII feels so different from classic Final Fantasy games, it stands out simply because most of those classic games also feel so different from one another. The franchise is built on doing something new with every single installment, and while some of the conceptual walks are further than others, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single pair of games that feel like the same game with a different set of wrappers.

The bright side is that it means that each new title is something fresh and different. The down side is that if you buy Final Fantasy XIII expecting Final Fantasy VI but new, you're going to be disappointed. The exchange for a franchise never getting stale is that it doesn't maintain the same shape indefinitely.

The environment has changed too much

You could not release Resident Evil today as a brand-new game without the weight of the franchise behind it. The game's awkward controls and pre-rendered backgrounds worked in no small part because of when it was released; if it was launched today it would be panned for bad acting, bad storytelling, weak gameplay, and poor graphics.

All that is fine. But there's an attached point that's easy to overlook: every new release in a franchise is the first release for someone. Yes, you've been playing Sonic the Hedgehog since the oddly stutter-stop motion of the first game in the series, but to someone out there, the most recent game starring a blue hedgehog is the first one they've ever played. And the fact of the matter is that these franchises need to evolve, simply to continue marketing themselves against legions of other games who have been inspired and influenced by these originals.

This is particularly true of older games that marketed themselves on punishing difficulty designed to artificially extend the game by eating up quarters. (Even if you didn't actually have quarters.) No one is willing to buy a new game for $60 that you can blow through in an hour but takes you time to beat because you just keep getting killed consistently. That means that designers need to bulk out the game in some way, and in the case of franchises that traditionally work on the basis of straightforward smashing sequences, it means that the core needs to change to account for the new gaming environment.

There's no longer a market

It barely needs to be said that the gaming market and environment is very different now compared to where it was in, say, 1990. And yes, some of that is as simple as the fact that video games are no longer exclusively sold in the back reaches of department stores who might put one or two on the shoe racks if they find the box, but it goes much further than that. The availability of gaming devices, the ways we engage with games, the budgets of big titles... everything is different.

This means that even old franchises need to adapt and change, as mentioned above, but it goes beyond bulking out games. Our patience for some features has evaporated, while our patience for others has increased. When Blizzard first launched StarCraft, online play was a novelty that was essentially just a bonus; when StarCraft II came out, it was a major component of the game.

Unfortunately, it does mean that some of the stuff you loved from back in the day just doesn't stick around. But on the bright side, it means that there's a neverending stream of new things. We live in a world with such a maddening surfeit of gaming options that even if your favorite franchise goes in a direction you no longer care for, there are still so many new games out there. You can almost certainly find something that appeals specifically to you.

Or you can just play Pokémon. I mean, let's be real, that gameplay isn't changing much until the heat-death of the universe.

GameStop Says Nintendo NX Will Support Physical Games Mon, 20 Jun 2016 14:43:48 -0400 Megan M. Campbell

We haven’t received much information about Nintendo’s next gaming console, the NX, but today we received a small tidbit of information regarding its physical and digital media capabilities.

Physical or Digital Games?

GameStop CEO, Paul Raines, responded to last month’s investor earning call by stating that “[The NX] will have physical media, we will play a role in it, our pre-owned business will also play a role.” This statement has busted rumors of the NX only supporting digital downloads because of a hardware patent with no signs of a disc drive.

Discs or Cartridges?

GameStop execs aren’t so sure about the cartridge rumors, which started by the patent’s inclusion of a “read/write card slot”. Raines says “we saw [the] rumors and so obviously can’t comment on them.” While GameStop seems to have no comments regarding cartridges, executive vice president Mike Mauler believes that “the only difference would be on the refurbishment and pre-owned side. And actually, cartridges are much simpler to refurbish and repackage. So there is somewhat a little bit of an advantage if it went in that direction.”

Crytek Unveils All-New CRYENGINE and “Pay What You Want” Model Thu, 17 Mar 2016 14:15:01 -0400 Shade Stalker

At GDC, Crytek unveiled the all new CRYENGINE V with a “pay what you want” business model that allows complete access to the engine and source code, while also allowing the developer to utilize a grant program to cover up to 70% of their creation cost. Crytek’s new Indie Development Fund is a grant program that will see Crytek directly supporting indie projects from around the world.

Alongside the new CRYENGINE V, Crytek also revealed CRYENGINE Marketplace. This will give developers access to individual assets from Crytek’s own library, as well as materials, sounds and 3D objects created by the community and other vendors.

Crytek’s Founder, CEO, and President Cevat Yerli said:

"CRYENGINE V represents our commitment to not only offering developers today’s most advanced engine technology, but also to making it as accessible as possible.”

In addition to everything else CRYENGINE V brings, it also offers extended support for leading VR hardware. The engine will now equip users to create stand out VR experiences for PlayStation VR, OSVR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

More features of CRYENGINE V include:

  • C# Enabled: Developers with C# knowledge can start scripting right away.
  • Reworked Low Overhead Renderer: Increases performance of today’s hardware for graphically intensive programs.
  • DirectX 12 Support: Utilizes the latest branch of DirectX to take greater control of resources.
  • Advanced Volumetric Cloud System: Optimized for VR to give clouds full 3D rendering with minimal performance hit.
  • New Particle System: Create stunning real-time fluid effects that are handled almost entirely on the GPU instead of the CPU.
  • A New Launcher and UI: Streamlined UI that includes realigned features and new icon groupings.
  • FMOD Studio Support: Greater flexibility in audio middleware selection.
  • CRYENGINE Answers: A dedicated channel for the community to share info and ask questions or get the answered.

Here is the new developer showcase on YouTube. You can also download the new CRYENGINE V here.

Crytek is an independent videogame developer, publisher and technology provider located in Frankfurt Germany.

Battleborn goes gold, beta coming soon Tue, 15 Mar 2016 14:23:54 -0400 Eric Levy

Battleborn, the new IP from the company behind the Borderlands series, has officially gone gold, meaning that development on the console and PC first-person shooter has finished.  Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford tweeted the news out this morning:

Exciting news: Battleborn retail is ready! Back in the day we would say "Gone Gold!" Team is stoked and hard at work on support, beta, etc.

Pitchford tweeted again soon after, assuring fans that work was still being done in regards to post-launch support and an upcoming open beta. Pitchford has mentioned the open beta will debut on the PS4, but it is unknown if it will be open to all Xbox One and PC owners as well. 

Battleborn is a first-person shooter with MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) properties, earning it the label of "hero shooter".  In an exclusive interview with Polygon back in February,  Pitchford admitted how big of an investment, and gamble, making Battleborn was for the studio.

"We've invested more than Borderlands 1 and 2 added together into Battleborn. And we don't know if people will be interested or not."

Battleborn launches May 3rd, 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Til then, keep an eye out for the open beta in the upcoming months.

Overwatch closed beta delayed; developers working on new game mode Thu, 21 Jan 2016 10:26:39 -0500 David Fisher

Ever since December 19th, Blizzard's Overwatch team has been silent. Having gone on break, and promising to return in 2016, the closed beta of Overwatch has been offline for just over a month now without any news. Thankfully, the Overwatch team has finally broken the silence and given us some news on the upcoming Blizzard title.

According to a news post on the Overwatch forum, the team has been focused on addressing player feedback, as well as game balance. While they had hoped to get the beta back online by the middle of January, game director Jeff Kaplan has now stated that the game will not be returning until mid-February. This is due to the team's desire to work on some of the core features of the game, such as player progression, something that they have already released a video about late last year.


In this developer update, Jeff Kaplan talks about what potential player-progress systems they have considered in the past

That's not all. According to the news post, the Overwatch team has also been looking at adding a completely new game mode. Currently, Overwatch's only two game modes are Payload and Point Capture. While these modes were widely accepted as fun, an overwhelming number of players were dissatisfied with the lack of other game modes to play. 

Kaplan did not go into detail about what this new game mode will entail, but he did mention that it will likely be released alongside the next closed beta patch, along with new maps to support it.

"Rather than try to rush a beta patch out this month (which would mean the new game mode would have to be put off), we’re going to take a few extra weeks before bringing the Closed Beta back. By doing so, we can make sure we can include the new game mode along with the new maps. This will also allow us to do some additional polish to the game’s progression and reward system. Though all these features will still technically be a work-in-progress during the beta, we’d like them to be at a certain quality bar before releasing them for testing."

Jeff Caplan, Overwatch Game Director

While it may be painful for some closed beta participants to wait another month before the game comes back online, it is good to know that the Overwatch team is listening to its fans. A new game mode, maps, and functional progression system are certainly things that will be worth waiting for. The question is: will there be any new heroes announced in the meantime?

What do you think of this delay? Did you get a chance to play any of the closed beta segments? What are your thoughts on potential game modes? Leave your ideas in the comments section below!

Smash Bros. Project M development officially ends Wed, 02 Dec 2015 05:20:29 -0500 David Fisher

A beloved fan mod that started development in 2010, Project M, officially meets its end after nearly 6 years of updates.

Project M has been seen as the spiritual successor to Super Smash Bros. Melee after the Nintendo release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl failed to cater to fans' expectations. Project M sought to bring back core gameplay elements from Melee while simultaneously changing up characters so that they would be more diverse than in the original games. The mod also re-added characters from Melee such as Dr. Mario, Mewtwo, and Roy.

Project M tried its best to balance characters across the board, changing the gameplay of certain characters such as Roy, Ganondorf, and the Pokemon Trainer's Pokemon to better suit competitive gameplay.

While it is unclear exactly why they stopped development, in an official statement found on the Project M website the development team said the following:

We’ve learned so much in the process of making Project M—accumulating life-changing lessons in communication, team work, professionalism, work ethic, and more—but there’s only so far we can take those skills in a volunteer project. With this in mind, we’ve made a difficult business decision: We’re ready to finish development here and move on to bigger and better ventures.

We realize that this will come as a shock to many of our fans. Please, forgive us. Again, it’s been an excruciating call to make, but it’s been made a bit easier by our satisfaction with the previous and final release, v3.6. We’ve spent six years polishing Project M, and rather than let it drag on through another several years of dwindling development and change-fatigue in the competitive circle, we’re going to consider our work complete.

In the meantime, we plan to be hard at work on new projects, built from the ground up. We can’t spill the beans just yet, but know that we’re looking towards a fresh start with brand new designs. Rather than splitting our focus, many of us want to dedicate ourselves to this new venture fully. In this way, we hope to maintain the level of quality and professionalism you’ve come to expect from us.

- Project M Development Team

Surprisingly, Project M was never shut down by Nintendo. In fact, Project M was so grossly popular that even e-sports groups slowly allowed the mod to be played in tournament environments. I suppose the developers believe that the final version of the mod is as close to their goal as they can get, and for that I respect their decision.

Hopefully, we see more content from the Project M team in the future. While I doubt we will ever hear about another Project M update, perhaps we might see a mod for the current Super Smash Bros. games? Or maybe the team will develop an entirely new game that stands alone and doesn't use Nintendo characters? Only time will tell I suppose...

Did you guys ever play Project M? Are you saddened by the end of its development? What do you think the development team will have in store for the future? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Details revealed about Destiny's troubled development Wed, 21 Oct 2015 16:44:32 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

Despite Destiny's undisputed success since it launched in September of last year, it was pretty apparent from the get-go that something was off about the game. Everything looked cool and intriguing, but it never felt that way. There was always some disconnect between the player and the events of the world, which was supposed to be one of the things that Destiny was adamantly trying to avoid.

Well according to a recent interview with Kotaku, several anonymous sources confirmed what many players already knew; Destiny's story was pretty much a rush job. To be fair, Bungie is rectifying a lot of what was wrong with Destiny at launch - and of course, it goes without saying that "anonymous sources" can (and should) be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless, this is the jist of what allegedly happened.

According to the sources, the writing team compiled a two-hour supercut of the game's cinematics and story beats to show to the senior staff for a final thumbs up. Unfortunately, the leads were unhappy with the direction of the story, citing that it was "too campy and linear", and the writing team was forced to start over. This happened in the summer of 2013, just a little more than a year before the game officially released to the general public.

The leads were unhappy with the direction of the story, citing that it was "too campy and linear"

Destiny's story ended up being large chunks of existing content and assets that were rearranged or re-purposed into different contexts (character models, the order of the planets/missions), while a lot of other things were omitted completely (the Dreadnaught level that later appeared in The Taken King).

Opinions on the supercut itself seem to vary, but multiple sources agree that the quality of the cut wasn't exactly stellar. The leads ended up taking the reigns and stitched together the narrative that we saw when the game launched. As one person put it, "the story was written without writers."

Quick take: I think what needs to be understood with this story is that there's no evil entity that the gaming world should point the finger at when it comes to Destiny. It's very easy for gamers to stand on their personal soap boxes and criticize studios and publishers for not putting out a perfect product.

Sometimes issues come up internally that can't be fully dealt with on such stressful development schedules, and certain priorities have to be taken into account. Obviously, Destiny did not initially live up to its lofty expectations, but that hasn't stopped many of the same people who have bashed it over the last year from buying it. We can at least be glad that Bungie is trying to rectify their mistakes. 

Shenmue 3 developer hires Shenmue HD fan project lead Sun, 04 Oct 2015 05:37:30 -0400 shox_reboot

The announcement that Shenmue 3 is in the works was a godsend to fans. Getting to work on it, though, is probably even better - especially for the hardcore ones. 

It's cool to love a game so much that you start your own project purely out of the attachment you have to it. But it's even cooler if that project gets you hired by Sega to help create Shenmue 3

For NoconKid, the South Korean modder who's spent years remastering the original Shenmue in Unreal Engine 4, this is a dream realized, and he deserves it.

This is the kind of thing gaming companies need to look into. There's plenty of talent in the fanbase their games generate. Those fans want nothing more than to improve the games they love, so developers really have nothing to lose by getting more of them involved in the development of games. Fans want to see them suceed almost as much, perhaps even more, than developers do. 

Companies like Konami and Nintendo can learn a thing or two from Sega. Shenmue 3 is scheduled for release on December 2017 on the PS4 and PC. 


Check out these new attack animations for Indivisible Sat, 05 Sep 2015 13:42:26 -0400 Clint Pereira

Lab Zero has updated their Tumblr and Twitter accounts with beautiful combat animations, reminiscent of their fluid style in Skullgirls. The developers don't seem to be cutting any corners in their upcoming action RPG, Indivisible.

 Indivisible will have an action RPG battle system similar to tri-Ace’s Valkyrie Profile. Each character, or Incarnation, has a basic attack mapped to the buttons on the game controller. More advanced high, low, and neutral attack variants will be unlocked as the game progresses. Similar to Valkyrie Profile, attacks synchronized by the entire party will lead to HP-shattering combos.

Although Indivisible will not be released until 2017, it's good to see they're being as transparent as possible with their Indiegogo backers and fans. The art and animation so far looks pretty slick.

Kingdom Hearts 3 development update! Sat, 01 Aug 2015 08:12:58 -0400 Joe Garcia

In the recent issue of Official PlayStation Magazine UK, an interview with the director of Kingdom Hearts 3, Tetsuya Nomura, revealed the development status of the highly-anticipated title.

Nomura states in the interview:

"But the basic structure of what’s going to go in the game is set, it’s now a matter of mass production of the different elements."

This is monumental news for Kingdom Hearts fans. There hasn't been any news about the next installment in the widely popular series since E3 last month, though fans were promised more information at D23 next month. With D23 just weeks away, this is sure to get all fans excited about the title. In light of this new information on the developmental status of the game, it is looking like Kingdom Hearts 3 will be releasing sooner than we think. Perhaps a late 2016 window is the aim for Square Enix. 

Click here for more of Tetsuya Nomura's interview with Official PlayStation Magazine UK

For more Kingdom Hearts news, you've already clicked on the right site!

Lighting Up the Industry with House on Fire CEO, Uni Dahl Wed, 22 Jul 2015 02:30:02 -0400 Bryan C. Tan

In recent years, indie games have seen a revival of sorts, with independent developers from America and Europe pumping out new games every single day.

But since 2011, one indie games studio in Denmark has been making games go mobile all over the world, and has recently crossed over to the PC sphere with the help of their highly-acclaimed point-and-click adventure game, The Silent Age.

It wasn't all success though, with their first game, Neon Zone, acting as more of a learning experience before tackling the intense graphics and mobile market of the game the studio was created for in the first place. 

Besides the climb to the top, I spoke with House on Fire CEO, Uni Dahl, about the PC platform, the indie scene in Denmark, and the ultimate endgame of the fledgling games studio.

The New Age

How has House on Fire’s journey to success been like?

We started out as a group of - I'd like to think naive - developers who wanted to do what we love doing. We didn't get paid for at least the first year, and that was hard on our personal finances. Luckily, we got investment to finish The Silent Age from Capnova A/S, and that, along with the massive support from people donating to the development, has brought us to where we are now.

Was PC a goal when The Silent Age was first envisioned?

We originally didn't plan the PC version of The Silent Age, but we saw that the game worked great on PC and felt it was the right move.

What made the release of The Silent Age possible on PC?

We always had the game running on PC. We used Unity (a cross-platform game engine), and it was so much easier to just press “play” in the engine to test out a level, rather than building and uploading to a specific device. It wasn't until we were quite far into the development of Episode One that we started building for mobile devices on a regular basis. PC was working very well all along, and all we had to do was tweak the interface to better suit mice, and even controllers.

How did the process in getting the game out differ between the mobile and the PC release? 

From a marketing perspective, we didn't have any experience with Steam, so we decided to release with a publisher, Meridian4, who took care of the promotion of the game. Teaming up with Meridian4 let us focus on making games, which is what we're good at anyway. But I must admit, to my surprise - and maybe naivety - 40 other games launched on Steam the same day as The Silent Age, so it was already at the flooding numbers we're used to seeing on the mobile market.

The Personal Computer

Will PC now become a regular platform for House on Fire?

Whether we want to become a regular PC developer now is difficult to say. I think it depends on where the game is suitable, but other factors, such as the number of games launched every day, will also influence our choices.

How do you feel about the influx of new games every day?

The platform will always dictate what type of games suit it. The effect of 40 - or hundreds of daily titles for that matter - is that prices will inevitably drop to 0 because developers will need to fight for the users, and it can't get any cheaper than 0.

Is that a good or a bad thing?

Basically, I think Steam is heading in a similar direction as the mobile market, which is probably great for Steam, but a little less so for certain types of games, and in the end, I think consumers actually lose out.

What can make it better for indies to stand out?

Indies need to be very talented at presenting themselves and their story. PR is essential to any game launch, and this is where indies have a small advantage, in that their story is like the little David up against the odds. They can show that there are people behind the game, and those individuals matter – they’re often irreplaceable in some sense.

Missing in Action

There’s one game you announced a while back but haven’t released; what happened to it?

Around the same time we released Neon Zone in 2011, we received a grant from Nordic Game to develop a prototype which we called SNOT!. However, we felt that we should focus on The Silent Age, so SNOT! was put on hold for the time being. But I'm happy to say that we're now working on it again.


How important is Denmark as the base of House on Fire?

I don't think Denmark is that important to us as a base, but our network is here. We're known here (somewhat at least) so it's a bit of a hassle to relocate, but there's nothing critical holding us back.

How is the Danish video gaming industry different from those of other countries?

It's hard for me to compare to other countries, but there's a tight community in Copenhagen at least, and there's always someone willing to help if you ask.

Financially, there are not many subsidies flowing into the game industry, and investors are few and far between, but the welfare system we have makes it quite safe to start a company; I'm never worried that my family will starve.

How much support do independent games studios have?

We have a few institutions such as Interactive Denmark, which is doing an amazing job at helping startups off the ground with workshops, networking etc. so Denmark might actually be a great place to start a company. The workforce is available and highly educated.

What would make it a supportive hub for independent developers? 

I think what's missing is the money - investors.


How has your role at the studio changed since it was first founded?

I think the biggest change is that I no longer have time to make games myself. Running a company is a full time job, and I'm still learning. My biggest focus? How to optimize my time.

How different is running a company from developing games?

For me, developing games is a technical challenge, while running a company is a coaching, social, networking, business challenge. I'm sure anyone running a startup can add about 10 more areas to that list.

Lastly, what's next for House on Fire?

I think, whatever we do, we want to make unique experiences - games we can be proud of ourselves.

Follow the blaze of House of Fire on Twitter @houseonfiredk, their official website,, and on Uni's Twitter @u9i.

The Silent Age is available now on Steam, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 10, and Kindle Fire.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Developers Can End the DLC War Fri, 15 May 2015 02:30:01 -0400 GamingGuru

The Underlying and Ongoing Controversy of DLC

If you want to set the Internet on fire, simply pop into a gamer forum and state your opinion on DLC, or downloadable content. It really doesn't matter if you address it in a general context or focus on a single title that employs what you feel is "unfair"; someone will disagree with you. With strong stances on either side of the coin on what's fair and what's not, the question is, what can developers do to make people "feel better" about DLC? One word: transparency.

Since DLC's quality and value are subjective at best (when people aren't outright punching each other out over it), it can be taken as a warning sign that developers need to clearly state what value their DLC provides and how much it will cost. In the mobile gaming realm, transparency is severely lacking, with purchase options made available with little context as to why and sometimes outright stopping gameplay until the user makes a choice.

The tiniest X in existence.

When DLC Isn't So Good...

In regards to console/handheld gaming, DLC is not always clearly communicated when a game hits the eShop. One recent example I experienced is Mighty Gunvolt, released August 29, 2014. When I first came across this title, I noticed that it was on special for only $2.49. Reading the description, I bought the game on the premise that I was getting a "full" game. It wasn't until after I downloaded it that I discovered that it was first available as a free download for those who purchased Azure Striker Gunvolt from the eShop and that it only had 5 levels, with the rest available as DLC.

Mighty Gunvolt? I love you, man, but...

In the end, I walked away feeling somewhat cheated, even though I truly enjoyed the game. Yeah, I could have replayed the game as another character, but the differences are so mild that it's hardly noticed. The characters offer different attacks, but the enemies continue to show up in the same places and boss fights lose their luster after you learn their attack patterns. In short, I felt that the game was artificially short (one could argue that the price matched the content) and that the rest of the content was hidden behind paywalls that didn't necessarily belong there. Others on Metacritic tend to echo this sentiment, as well.

What made this even more jarring is that it was not stated on the eShop page that the game had DLC and didn't provide a clear enough description of what people would be buying if they hit "Download". Had I known that I was only going to receive 5 static levels to play, I may have reconsidered my choice to buy it. As a gamer, I felt cheated; as a buyer, I felt misinformed. Bottom line: I feel that Mighty Gunvolt is a great game that would benefit from providing all of its content on download (which I would gladly pay $9.99 for), or offering the content as unlockables gained through in-game achievements.

DLC Can Be Good

Granted, not all DLC can feel or appear "janky" or criminal. For example, New Super Luigi U was offered as downloadable content on New Super Mario Bros. U. For anyone who's played New Super Luigi U, they quickly realized that it was not a gimmick, but almost a whole game within itself...without Mario! The eShop price point is currently $19.99, and offers: 1) greater difficulty, 2) Luigi's unique jumping mechanics, and 3) 82 new courses. For $19.99, this would be considered a great bargain, but was not a requirement to enjoy the original New Super Mario Bros. U to its full extent and gave players the option to experience the core game in a new, exciting way.

If you haven't checked this out, it's totally worth it!

So what makes DLC "good"? I would personally say that anything that: 1) adds a comparable value for what's being charged, and/or 2) offers an extension of the full, core game. I, and others, feel that games like Mighty Gunvolt failed in this aspect because the game felt too short (even if the content matched the price), but that doesn't mean that we wouldn't buy the full game at a higher price point with the option of buying DLC post-release as it rolls out.

Prosperity and Success for All

Another gripe for disenfranchised gamers who may not be able to necessarily afford all of the DLC offered in-game is that they cannot grind fast enough for resources to compete with paying players. World of Tanks offers players the ability to purchase premium tanks that gives them a distinct advantage over "free" players. For example,  the TOGII are literal "tanks" in that they can take an insane amount of damage and in a 1v1 situation, a Tier 6 "heavy" would eventually be worn down by a Tier 6 TOGII in a battle of sheer attrition. The skill level of the "free" player almost doesn't matter when going against a TOGII.

So Strong!

Another advantage available to premium players is "gold rounds", which have 25% better armor-penetrating capabilities than those available to "free" players. This may leave a sour taste in the mouth of "free" players who have to virtually grind for hours to earn enough in-game currency, but for "premium" players who may not have the time to invest in obtaining in-game buffs naturally, it's a fast way to improve their capabilities with real-world money.

One game that has attempted to bridge this gap in a fairer manner is ArcheAge. Patron, or premium, players do obtain labor points at a faster rate of 10 labor points per 5 minutes, with a 5,000 point cap than free players, who obtain 5 labor points per 5 minutes with a 2,000 point cap. Labor points are required to do anything in-game that is considered "crafting", whether it's building a house, gathering a harvest or planting trees.

Sounds fair to me.

But what makes ArcheAge so awesome is that patron players can still receive certain advantages, such as owning a plot of land and earning more labor points faster than free players, but free players can still enjoy the game and not feel like their being punished for not paying. Treating free players fairly and still giving them value is an important aspect of creating brand loyalty, as well as encouraging free players to "ante up".

Developers Can Help Bring Cohesiveness

So how can developers help? Simply communicating the purpose and value behind their DLC is a good starting point. As a buyer in almost any other realm of life, gamers want to know what they're buying into if they choose to do so. By simply writing a detailed description of the DLC's content, setting a fair price (it's market value determined by comparable products), and adding it in a manner that extends the experience of the game post-release would do wonders for an industry divided.

To help drive this point home and entertain at the same time, I've written a haiku that would serve well to be posted above every developer's workstation:

Devs, Listen, Take Heart 

Transparency is Crucial

Good Content Sharing

Whether their platform is Steam Greenlight, Twitter or Facebook, developers have an almost endless number of platforms where they can engage and inform their customers. Just like in the all other facets of consumer goods, people like to know what they're buying before they jump in and above all, not feel forced to do so. In short, developers would do well to be aware of their's and others' emotions so that they can interact effectively and clearly with their customers to help reduce confusion and boost their brand's image.

During this entire last week, I've learned just how divided the gamer base is in regards to DLC. I've had multiple discussions with other gamers in all walks of life, and the only conclusion I can draw at this time is that this derision can be effectively fixed at the source. Instead of fighting among each other, developers can do much to bring us all together by practicing transparency.

Facebook Mobile Messenger Now Open for Video Game Projects Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:23:59 -0400 Elijah Beahm

It seems once again, Facebook is widening its catalogue. At F8 this year, the social media giant announced a Mobile Messenger for iOS and Android. In addition to the app itself, they are opening it up to have its own internal apps. While currently developers are merely releasing animated gifs, "make your own emoji" apps, and sound effect apps, there is potential for gaming.

That might sound absurd, but such services in China such as LINE have proven otherwise. The messaging app company had 300 million registered users at the end of 2013 with revenues of 34.3 billion yen ($338 million) in the same year. They were valued at over ten billion dollars in July of 2014.

This is also just on the heels of fellow mobile chat app Viber adding game support back in February. While the games themselves are simple, the revenue streams being brought in by Eastern mobile chat apps is likely very appealing to Facebook.

Given Facebook's attempt to bring in greater gaming audiences with more mechanically complex games like Shadowgun, they might offer a new tier of quality for Mobile Chat app games. Or they'll just port Farmville.

Image Credit: Facebook, Viber