“Moon” rights revert back to Renegade Kid next year

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I’m not going to lie, I loved Renegade Kid’s DS outings.  The Dementium games were refreshing and terrifying handheld experiences and Moon demonstrated that Samus isn’t the only character capable of starring in a captivating first-person adventure.  Both properties demonstrate the kind of quality on a Nintendo console uncommon in third-party developers, so I’m all for seeing more.  With Moon being one of the few games out there to successfully replicate the feel of a Metroid Prime game, the idea that there might be more in the future is certainly exciting.

Renegade Kid had a five-year contract with publisher Mastiff for Moon, those five years are up in 2014.  Jools Watsham, the co-founder of Renegade Kid, has hinted that with the property being back in the hands of its creators, that there might just be more in the future.  In a conversation with Polygon, Watsham stated, “We… are very fond of Moon, and have always wanted to continue the story of Major Kane…. We purposely left it open-ended at the end of the first game for this reason…. [W]e absolutely intend to support Moon with future development efforts. We’ll have more news on our plans soon.”

 

Source:  Polygon

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Celebrate Independence with The Walking Dead

400days_keyart_with_infoTelltale’s special episode of The Walking Dead, meant to expand the universe and sate gamers’ appetites while we wait for the second season, will be releasing on various platforms this week.  The game will follow five characters in their own stories and will be available for $5.  The North American release schedule is as follows:  July 2nd on PlayStation Network, July 3rd on PC and Mac, and July 5th on Xbox Live.  PSN in Europe gets the episode on July 10 while iOS gamers worldwide will get it on the 11th.

 

Source:  IGN

Just Add Water hoping to remake Metal Gear Solid

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Developer of the recent Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath remake as well as upcoming New ‘N’ Tasty Just Add Water is hoping to capitalize on Hideo Kojima’s desire to see the first game remade in Fox Engine.  The developer has some past experience working with a highly regarded IP, Oddworld, and hopes that their respect for the existing property and the fact that they’re “huge Metal Gear fans, with very good knowledge of the source material” will land them the gig.

Whether or not an HD remake of the first MGS happens, the idea is certainly exciting.  Do you think Just Add Water is up to the challenge?  If not, what studio would be your dream choice to re-envision Metal Gear Solid?

 

Source:  IGN

Age of Empires going mobile

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Microsoft is licensing its Age of Empires IP to KLab Inc. for development of a mobile entry in the franchise for mobile platforms.  From the sounds of things, the game will be coming to iOS and Android first with a Windows Phone version coming at a later time.  The game is being developed in English first with a global release planned and other languages as well as the Windows Phone version planned for a future release.

There was speculation of other Microsoft franchises planned to be released on mobile platforms, but Microsoft refuted those rumors with the vague “there are no further announcements beyond Age of Empires at this time.”

 

Source:  Polygon

Dead Rising 3’s SmartGlass features unlock exclusive missions

Capcom’s upcoming Xbox One exclusive Dead Rising 3 will give gamers a reason to boot up the Xbox extension SmartGlass.  The game re-skins players’ SmartGlass devices to look like the character’s phone within the game universe.  From there, players will receive calls which will grant them exclusive missions otherwise inaccessible.  Capcom has stated that the missions players gain access to via SmartGlass will expand the game’s story but will not be essential to it for gamers who don’t have access to a SmartGlass capable device.

SmartGlass will also grant players access to bonuses like air strikes.  Completing missions in-game grants players codes which can be used in the SmartGlass application to purchase the special attacks and such in-game.  Josh Bridge, Dead Rising 3’s executive producer, confirmed that the game does not have microtransactions and that all these purchases will be “within the game’s own ecosystem.”

Dead Rising 3 is coming exclusively to Xbox One as a launch title this November.

 

Source:  VG247

Win/Lose – Commentary on the Xbox One policy change

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Microsoft employees have gone on to say it after all the bad press regarding their next game console’s policies and I’ll say it myself, I think it comes down to people misunderstanding the policies where all the hate stems from.  People reacted about as warmly to that statement as one would expect; the statement was essentially misinterpreted as Microsoft calling consumers “stupid,”  that’s not really the case.  What they’re saying is people made immediate and biased assumptions about the system’s policies and this perpetuated ignorance and hatred for the system.  Paranoia and unwillingness to change have, ultimately, had a negative impact on the future of gaming.

Microsoft was all sorts of elusive when confirming anything regarding Xbox One’s used game/always on policies.  This wasn’t really a good move for the software giant, but understandable given the huge amount of backlash received after they made any confirmations.  With some things cleared up, Microsoft went on to show off some astounding games at this year’s E3–which I thought gave the system the upper hand.  Sony showed off some great games, too, but not a whole lot new, and not nearly the number of exclusives that Microsoft had.  To win E3, Sony went for the throat and proudly undercut the Xbox One’s price by $100 and proclaimed that there will be no used game restrictions or always on policy.  The audience erupted and immediately declared Sony the winner.

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleFrom there, the internet and her high-class citizens went on about damning the Xbox One and its restrictiveness.  The assumption that gamers wouldn’t be able to buy, sell, trade, or lend used games was a major misconception in destroying the Xbox One’s reputation.  The necessity to connect your system to the internet daily was another point counted against the system.  The rampant disregard to purpose behind those systems is what screwed us all in the end.

I made my decision to pre-order the Xbox One immediately after E3.  Why?  Primarily because of the games.  Beyond that?  I knew what Microsoft’s policies meant.  I highlight all of that wonderful stuff in my now outdated article on why I pre-ordered an Xbox One.  I liked the idea of a game being linked to my account so I can play it without a disc.  Why?  Because it meant that no matter where I was or whether or not I had the game disc with me, I could download the game on any Xbox One and enjoy the game I purchased.  The license granted to me from purchasing a game on Xbox One was good beyond the game disc, I had access to the game on Games on Demand and could continue enjoying the game even if I didn’t have access to the game disc.  Pretty wonderful idea, if you ask me.  I loved the family sharing plan.  The fact that I could grant access to my entire gaming library to 10 of my Xbox Live friends was awesome.  Rather than having to be local to lend games, I could give full access of my games to friends of mine out of state.  Borrowing and lending games would be better than ever before because it wasn’t grounded strictly in real-world media.

I’m still a traditionalist–I love physical media.  I’ve got a huge collection of games spanning 15 or so game consoles and they’re some of my most prized possessions.  Gaming is a huge part of me and that tangible media is an important part of that–I love to collect.  Having the option to enjoy owning and collecting the physical media while maintaining access to my games in the digital world is pretty awesome.  Being able to borrow and lend games online is pretty awesome.  The fact that our world is pretty much always online just makes me wonder, why on earth were we all afraid of the Xbox One?  The DRM?  The DRM incorporated in the Xbox One was simply to check to make sure that the game was attached to your account or you had legitimate borrowing access.  That’s not a bad thing and it is, in no way, restrictive to what you can do with your game.  Microsoft confirmed that used games and borrowing would continue without issue as they do now–the main difference is that third-party publishers would have the capability to earn money back on game resells if they so chose.

Xbox-One3With all of that, the gaming community still complained.  Harassing comments wherever they could be posted and ensuring Microsoft know that you’d much rather have the PS4 than the Xbox One because of its “less restrictive” approach to gaming.  Your dollars spoke and, Microsoft being a business, had to react.  Making money is pretty important for a corporation, so they have to make sure you’re willing to give it to them.  Microsoft retracted their online spot check and DRM policies for you, but also for them.  Why?  Because you hated everything the system promised, so they had to make it more like the system you wanted to prevent the investment from being a total loss.  Win.

I’m not trying to say any one system is better than the other.  I have no doubt that I will own a PS4 before too long, but what I saw of the Xbox One made it my platform of choice at launch.  It is frustrating, to me, that some of the reasons I chose the platform are being taken away from me.  I made an investment in the system and now I’m losing the functionality I was so looking forward to.  I’ll still have the games, sure, and that was, ultimately, the top reason I selected Xbox One as my Holiday 2013 launch system, but it is saddening that I’ll have to give up some of the system’s most promising features because of you.

The removal of these policies may seem like a big win for the gaming community, but we’ve really just put a halt on some groundbreaking features.  Digital borrowing/trading was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that.  Switching games without switching discs was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that.  Access to our entire gaming library no matter where we are was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that.  It may have seemed like all these policies were put in place to restrict us, but they really promised a pretty bright future for gaming, but we didn’t want that.  The next gaming generation could have been a huge leap forward, but, after eight years, we only wanted a small step.  So, let’s celebrate because we won the battle.  So, why then, does it feel like we’ve lost?

Yu Suzuki, David Cage, and Ryan Payton discuss storytelling in gaming

Storytelling is one of the biggest things I love about gaming.  Being able to experience stories in an interactive way makes the stories come to life, in my opinion, more than the passive experiences movies and books give you (though I greatly enjoy those mediums as well).  It’s long been my dream to be a screenwriter for games, and so I’ve always had a great deal  of respect for the men and women who manage to make their ideas come to life in an interactive way.  Some of my favorite gaming storytellers include Quantic Dream’s David Cage and Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki.  Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy, and Shenmue remain some of my favorite games.  With that said, here’s a nice, long interview featuring those two gentlemen as well as former HALO creative director Ryan Payton.  It’s an interesting look at what goes into telling great interactive stories and for anybody interested in that process, is definitely worth a watch.

 

The next Dragon Age and Mass Effect built on same core system

I’m a long-time fan of BioWare.  I’ve been playing their games for the better part of my whole life.  Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, KotOR, Jade Empire, Mass Effect–all of these games have had a lasting impact on me and I’m always tempted to go back to re-experience the greatness of those gaming classics.  I can’t express the disappointment I felt when they were bought out by Electronic Arts and the changes that came with that acquisition.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great games from BioWare since the acquisition, but the practices and tone of the games have changed drastically since the studio gave up its independence.

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Even though it’s published by EA, Dragon Age: Origins is, in my humble opinion, the last classic BioWare game.  Production on DAO began long before EA’s purchase of the Canadian developer and it’s undeniable that it feels everything like one of their older titles.  A spiritual successor to their Dungeons & Dragons licensed games, Dragon Age was a love letter to their fans and hardcore gamers.  It was an in-depth tactical RPG with branching stories and great characters.  I loved it, as did pretty much every other loyal BioWare fan.  It was a game that gave me hope for the future of the studio under EA’s umbrella… until we got Dragon Age 2.

Among the many things bad with their fantasy RPG sequel, Dragon Age 2 can easily be considered Mass Effect with swords… and a much smaller world.  Dragon Age 2 was everything DAO wasn’t–everything a Dragon Age game shouldn’t be.  Despite Mass Effect being a great gaming franchise, it’s successful in that its mechanics work within its game world–those mechanics don’t belong in any sequel to a tactical fantasy RPG.  With that said, I can’t help but be a little apprehensive about the upcoming Dragon Age 3, which will lay the groundwork for the next entry in the Mass Effect franchise.

I can see the positive side of this as it will cut down development time for the next Mass Effect, but it also indicates that the next DA will not really distance itself from the “ME with swords” identity established with the second game.  If BioWare proves me wrong in this assumption, I’ll be thrilled.  Until then, I’m going to remain cautious about the next Dragon Age.

 

Source:  VG247

Commentary: TRON

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I’m a huge fan of TRON.  The original film helped establish me in my geekdom.  I played and loved the no-longer-canon game TRON 2.0 and was excited to see more of the property.  I squealed with a childish enthusiasm when I saw the Comic-Con teaser for TR2N and was thrilled to hear that production on Legacy was moving forward after the huge reaction to that trailer.  I played TRON: Evolution, and loved it (if you need a reference, here’s my review–it’s on Examiner, so be warned).  I love TRON.

I started watching the animated series, TRON: Uprising, when it started airing, but ended up falling behind after the show went on hiatus.  I was thrilled, then, when I saw it pop up on Netflix–I had a good reason to start the show over and finally finish the first season.  While the next installment of the film franchise is moving forward (another point I’m thrilled about–especially since I’ve developed a huge appreciation for Kosinski’s style following Legacy and his most recent Oblivion), the future of the fantastic animated interquel (set between Evolution and Legacy) remains uncertain.  It’s kinda sad.

TRONUprisingUprising didn’t really reach a huge audience.  As far as American animations go, there’s really little else I can think of that can compare with Tron: Uprising in terms of style and story.  It’s filled with social and political commentaries that are intended for older audiences and is, at times, pretty dark.  It’s not inappropriate for children, but it’s a show that’s certainly geared toward more mature audiences with many of its finer points being easily lost on the young.  Maybe that’s the show’s problem?  It’s a Disney cartoon that feels nothing like a Disney cartoon.  Kids and people unfamiliar with the property might not take an interest in the show because it is a little more “grown up” than what they’re looking for in a cartoon.  Meanwhile, adults might feel compelled to avoid watching a Disney cartoon–especially one so serious.  It’s a fantastic show, but its downfall might be being an animated show carrying the Disney label.

I’m still a few episodes away from finishing the first season, so I don’t know how it ends, but I feel pretty certain that it leaves the viewer with multiple unanswered questions.  What happens to those questions if the show doesn’t move forward?  They could answer them in the next film, I suppose, but that would feel like a cheap and unsatisfactory solution for fans of the show.  There’s a lot of complexity in the show and with hours of buildup; finishing it off in a flashback of some kind would lessen the impact of the storytelling.

Going back to Evolution, if the show doesn’t continue past its first season, I could see it doing really well as a game–one that’s not tied down to a film’s release.  As I said in my review of Evolution, the game had the stigma of being a movie-licensed title.  While a game based on and continuing the story of Uprising would still have the branding, if it weren’t released around the time of the next film and were marketed as a standalone property, I think it would do a lot better.  There are several successful gaming properties based on existing IPs and film franchises; most notably would probably be Star WarsTRON as an IP, I feel, has what it takes to exist beyond one medium, and gaming is the perfect medium for the franchise to expand.

AbraxasPlaying Evolution, I really enjoyed the Prince of Persia inspired platforming and the combat was fluid, fast-paced, and fun.  I thought, though, that the world could use more fleshing out.  Tron City is a huge place just begging to be explored, but the game confines you to linear levels that restrict your exploration of the game’s world.  It’s still a beautiful game with some great level design, but it’s disappointing to not be able to really experience the world of the Grid.  If we were to get a game based on Uprising with a free-roaming Argon City similar to maybe the new Batman games or a BioWare game, that would be incredible.  I could really see a Mass Effect styled TRON game with PoP platforming and combat being an incredible experience.  Throw in some non-linear storytelling and you may well never hear from me again.

Its doubtful that Disney would do something like that, but I honestly don’t understand why we haven’t seen more TRON in games.  The world is set within a computer system with programs being participants in games.  It’s just begging to let players explore it in an interactive medium.  I’d love to see more of the Grid in a game and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

There’s really little point to this article beyond my wishful musings on a property I love.  The future of the property is in Disney’s hands, but it’d be nice if they’d listen to the fans and give us what we want; we’re the ones who have made the franchise the modest success that it’s become and we’re the ones the future successes of the franchise depends on.  Make the fans happy, and we’ll make you happy Disney.  Give us some more quality content.  Please?

 

For the Users.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days trailer

Upcoming standalone episode in Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1 now has a trailer.  It shows off the five characters that will be the focus of 400 Days with the promise that this expansion is “coming soon.”