Category:  Industry

By Andrew Martins, June 30, 2014 0 Industry, News

He may not go by his grossly shortened moniker, but Gears of War creator and the top Super Mario Bros. player of July/August 1998, Cliff Bleszinski announced earlier today that he was leaving the luxurious lap of retirement at the age of 39 to return to game development.

As he’s been wont to do, Bleszinski made his announcement via Twitter, letting his more than 232,000 followers that he was returning to the business he “literally grew up in.”

For those that may not recall, Bleszinski stepped down as Epic Games’ design director back in Oct. 2012. At the time, he cited a need for some rest and relaxation after two decades of working in the industry.

Following his announcement, Bleszinski tweeted that the reception has been generally positive, stating that he could not wait to explain what brought him back.

More news on Bleszinski’s return and his mystery announcement is sure to come in the days ahead.

By Mercer Smith-Looper, June 6, 2014 0 Industry, News

Today Nintendo announced that it will be closing its headquarters and and warehouse in Großostheim, Germany to consolidate the European offices to Frankfurt.

The consolidation has led to the lay-offs of around 130 permanent employees of the company. Nintendo provided an explanation statement to EuroGamer saying:

Nintendo of Europe has entered into a consultation process on a number of changes it is intending to make to its European business which, in the long term, will better enable the European business to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment.”

While its certainly not abnormal to see layoffs or company shifts in the gaming industry, seeing something so large take place at a popular company like Nintendo is shocking and saddening to most. To be expected after the company’s large fiscal losses over the past few years, the move to consolidate may be a good one, allowing Nintendo the opportunity to reassess strengths and weaknesses in their product strategy. That being said, mass-firings do not necessarily bode well for a company’s health.

At E3, Nintendo is slated to discuss fiscal descisions and how the company will be moving forward for the remainder of the year—and many don’t even want a new product to be announced, just some stability for one of the original gaming industry heavy-weights.

Source: EuroGamer

By Mercer Smith-Looper, June 4, 2014 0 Industry, News

For a single week of every year, E3—one of the world’s most important gaming, tech and innovation-focused conferences—takes over the LA Convention Center; and there are some mind-boggling facts that come along with its production.

In a newsletter today, the Entertainment Software Association released ten unique facts about this year’s E3 that are crazily intense in scope and size. For example, did you know that more than 55 miles of fiber optic cable is used at E3, which is enough to reach the mesopause – the coldest part of Earth’s upper atmosphere? Now you know.

Not only are we pumped that our lovely editors Patrick Kulikowski and Karen Rivera are attending this years E3, but we are also excited that, as you can read at the bottom of this list, all of us at home will be able to partake in the fun this year thanks to Twitch.

Check out the ESA’s list after the break.

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By Mercer Smith-Looper, May 29, 2014 0 Industry, News

Earlier this week, we showed you a video of Watch Dogs running on the Oculus Rift, courtesy of Mad Man Oculus‘ Alex Benton.

Since that video has begun making the rounds, Benton reached out and outlined his journey with the Oculus Rift and his effort to develop virtual reality experiences with little to no experience in the field.

According to Benton, he dove into VR development headfirst, purchasing an original dev kit as soon as possible for him after its release.

“I opened it, and I had no idea what anything did. It was just a screen on my screen: 1280 by 800 and nothing happening; no firmware, no drives, no games, no CD, literally nothing. [I spent] 300 bucks on something that I had no idea how to use— so I started researching. I knew nothing about programming or game design, but was able to teach myself most things through the share portal and with other developer’s help,” Benton said.

Following Benton’s initial works, Mad Man Oculus has experimented with bringing VR to games that don’t come with built-in support, including Half Life 2, Left for Dead, Hawken and Bioshock Infinite.

“Inside it is just a 720p monitor, accelerometers, two lenses, and that’s about it. Vireio was the first driver we got. It’s an open-source set of drivers that let you play around with a very limited number of games and get them working. All of its calibration has to be done by hand; so I spent the next four days with my face in the Oculus, my eyes crossed, and a really bad migraine trying to get Half Life 2 to work,” Benton said. “I felt like, ‘Man the whole world is daggers in my eyes!’”

In addition to working on their own projects, Mad Man Oculus has also been providing support and guidance on their blog for other individuals in getting their kits up and running in order to create a collaborative development environment. Part of this is Mad Man Oculus’ willingness to take requests for game support from any and all individuals that reach out to them through their blog—their ultimate goal being more overall support for the hardware.

Benton has since grown the Mad Man Oculus team with Nick Silverman as a developer, Derek Anderson as a content manager and Chris Impicciche as a graphic designer. He has also purchased two Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 units to generate the best experience with high definition visuals. They are currently exploring new ideas for control schemes such as external cameras and sensor inputs.

“We are really just trying to do things that other people dream of putting on the Oculus, be it your favorite games, or favorite game experiences,” Benton said.

Since Monday, Mad Man Oculus have been playing around even more with Watch Dogs and its potential for Oculus Rift support. This includes tampering with security cameras and working on making the game playable in first person.

What would you want to see on the Oculus Rift in your dream world?

By Mercer Smith-Looper, May 26, 2014 0 Industry, News

Last Thursday, Square Enix finished hosting an auction of concept art and sketches from Final Fantasy X and X-2 for PlayStation 2, with the entire $40,000 profit being donated to UNICEF’s relief for typhoon Haiyan.

The auction, originally driven by the rerelease of the remastered versions of FFX and X-2, was held online. The 50 pieces in the auction were housed at an exhibition in Gallery Nucleus in Alahambra, California in the interim prior to being sent out to the auction winners.

Haiyan was a devastating typhoon that touched land in the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013. It left close to 6 million children out of the 14 million individuals deeply affected, with a need for homes, food and being reunited with lost family members. In a post on its website, UNICEF stated:

“Working with the Philippine government and partner humanitarian organizations, UNICEF helped provide clean water to nearly a million people, deliver emergency health kits to depleted clinics, reunite lost children with their families, and open child-friendly spaces and temporary schools for thousands of Filipino students.”

Check out the recap video from the auction after the break.

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By Mercer Smith-Looper, May 25, 2014 0 Industry, Mac, News, PC

A cheat for StarCraft II has put some modders into hot water, as Blizzard Entertainment have filed a lawsuit for multiple copyright infringement charges.

On May 19, the company behind World of Warcraft filed suit against ten unidentified individuals who allegedly created the “ValiantChaos MapHack.”

The “ValiantChaos MapHack” made it possible to see otherwise hidden enemies on the map, as well as what actions their opponents might be taking.

The cheat, according to Blizzard, could “cause serious and irreparable harm to Blizzard and its products.”

According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of California, the modders are on the hook for: direct copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, trafficking in circumvention devices, breach of contract and intentional interference with contractual relations.

Most of the complaints stem from the fact that the modders allegedly circumvented the Starcraft II and Battle.net Terms of Service and End User Licence Agreement, which everyone agrees to before playing the game.

The suit deals not only with issues of copyright infringement, but also requires that the modders hand over all sales records and entirely destroy the software.

Nearly all six charges carry a maximum fine of $150,000 for each copy of the hack sold. Up to this point, the modders were selling the software in a private forum for approximately $58 a player.

Source: TorrentFreak via Gamespot

By Andrew Martins, May 12, 2014 0 Industry, Multiplatform, News

A new list of more than 50 games published by Electronic Arts will soon be losing their online capabilities, effectively putting the final nail in the coffin of many of these games.

According to the company, which keeps a running list of future online service outages on its website, is discontinuing online gameplay for these titles in an effort to divert resources to newer releases.

Chief among the list is the inclusion of a handful of previous entries in the Battlefield series, Command & Conquer: Generals and a slew of old sports games.

Most of the titles listed utilized the soon to be defunct GameSpy service. EA said they weighed their options as a result and felt those games were not worth porting over to in-house servers, regardless of the fact that some games still had active fanbases.

“We are still investigating community-supported options to preserve online functionality for these titles, such as multiplayer. Significant technical hurdles remain, and at this time we don’t have anything to announce,” EA recently wrote.

As tough as something like this can be for fans, it’s a sobering reminder that the game industry’s increasing reliance on online functionality means that some games will ultimately vanish once the servers shut down.

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By Mercer Smith-Looper, May 9, 2014 2 3DS, Industry, News

Nintendo states that while there will be no same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life for 3DS, that may not be the case for future games. Responding to the outrage regarding the original omission of same-sex relationships, Nintendo took a step forward to encourage inclusivity.

In an official statement on their site, Nintendo made clear that they were “committed to fun and entertainment for everyone.”

We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game’s design, and such a significant development change can’t be accomplished with a post-ship patch. At Nintendo, dedication has always meant going beyond the games to promote a sense of community, and to share a spirit of fun and joy. We are committed to advancing our longtime company values of fun and entertainment for everyone. We pledge that if we create a next installment in the Tomodachi series, we will strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players.

This clarifies the issue with Tomodachi Life as being limited by having to adjust via post-release patch rather than being one that specifically dealt with intolerance of same-sex relationships. In the future, when new games are being conceptualized, the development team will have more time to consider and design around same-sex relationships.

While not explicitly stated it appears that, in new releases of Tomodachi Life, same-sex romance will be a possibility for those who want it.

By Mercer Smith-Looper, May 7, 2014 1 3DS, Industry, News

Earlier today, Nintendo confirmed that in the North American release of popular Japanese game Tomodachi Life for the 3DS, same-sex romantic relationships will not be a possibility.

The whole discussion started when Tye Marini, a 23 year-old Nintendo fan started the MiiQuality petition last month for same-sex relationships in the game.

Marini made a statement about this in an online video on the MiiQuality Facebook.

“I want to be able to marry my real-life fiancé’s Mii, but I can’t do that. My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiancé’s Mii or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it.”

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By Mercer Smith-Looper, May 6, 2014 1 Industry, News

Jokes about a worldwide virtual reality à la the Matrix were slung when Facebook first purchased Oculus, it now appears that idea was not so farfetched.

In an interview at TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2014, Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe mentioned partnering with Facebook to create a massively multiplayer online world with all of Facebook’s users, saying “we wanna have entertainment experiences in games.” It turns out Mark Zuckerberg agreed.

While he acknowledged that hosting a billion players simultaneously in a VR world would take a larger network than what currently exists on the planet, Iribe seemed to speak confidently of Facebook’s ability and financial stature in being able to make it a reality. Currently they are planning to build on Facebook’s current network as a means to get the ball rolling.

It is unclear what this game will look like, but it is clear that Iribe is planning on leveraging Facebook and Zuckerberg’s huge social power as a means to pull in a number of high-level developers to work on this future game. In fact, this is much of what Iribe’s official talk at Disrupt was about: selling Oculus VR as a means to get the attention of “big name” developers.

So, what does this mean for us? Right now, it’s up in the air—with so little solidified and much of the technology being still in development, it’s possible that the billion person MMO may never even come to fruition. If they do, however, then it is entirely possible that Facebook and Oculus VR have already proven to be on the cutting edge of business choices.

Source: Tech Crunch