Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Behind The Mask: Inside Dishonored 2′s Development

Arkane Studios has been around for 17 years, releasing successful games and plugging away on secret projects, but it was the release of 2012's Dishonored that introduced the talented studio to a wide, new audience. With our June cover story on Dishonored 2, we've been rolling out information on the gameplay and art of the new game but wanted to also focus on the team behind the sequel. There's been a little bit of confusion about the current state of Arkane Studios, with Dishonored's co-creative director Harvey Smith moving to France to lead development on Dishonored 2, so we spoke with Smith about the reasons behind the move and how this project has evolved.

Watch the video below to learn more about the development history of Dishonored 2 and how the team compares to the first game's lead developers.

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Konami Sales And Profits Up As Company Turns Away From Console, PC Development

Konami has closed out its fiscal year, and the company has some good news for investors. If you’re hoping to hear about new Contra, Metal Gear, or Castlevania though, we don’t have anything significant to report.

You can expect a new Pro Evolution Soccer this year. And if you play Yu-Gi-Oh (with physical cards), those aren’t going anywhere.

However, most of Konami’s focus in its financial earnings report is on gambling, health, and mobile. Fitness revenue dipped by 2.8 percent. Pachislot and pachinko revenue fell by 17.8 percent. The gambling division climbed by 1.4 percent.

In contrast, digital entertainment revenue (console, PC, mobile, and the Yu-Gi-Oh card game) revenue climbed by 36.8 percent in the fiscal year, in part due to strong sales of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Company-wide revenue was up 14.6 percent to ¥249.9 billion ($ 2.3 billion), with a major jump in operating income of 61.2 percent to ¥24.7 billion ($ 228.8 million). Net income grew, though modestly, by 5.6 percent to ¥10.5 billion ($ 97.6 million).

Despite the successes in fiscal year 2016, Konami expects revenues to decline in the new year. However, the company anticipates controlling expenses to raise net income for the period. this is in part due to a significant reduction in both revenue and expenses in the digital entertainment category. Revenues in other segments will drop slightly, though profits are anticipated to rise on cost control.

[Source: Konami]

 

Our Take
While Konami says it’s committed to Metal Gear, at this point it’s hard to see the publisher as a major player in the console and PC space. I wouldn’t expect Pro Evolution Soccer to disappear, and there might be the occasional handheld Yu-Gi-Oh game. But the days of Castlevania and Contra seem to be sadly behind us.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Six years on, development of Tekken X Street Fighter is ‘on hold’

Bandai Namco’s Katsuhiro Harada has confirmed that the lengthy development of the crossover fighting game Tekken X Street Fighter is “on hold” for the moment. …


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Blog: Why a swear-word filter first? My unusual development priorities

“I’ve prioritized some unusual aspects of my game over developing gameplay features or producing content: a swear-word filter, menus, and a tutorial. Those are all things that usually tend to get taken care of at the end of production.” …


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Maps to the stars of ’80s and ’90s game development

Japanese game dev offices of the classic era: “The layouts also reveal a lot about a company’s workings, how it functioned, how it structured its workflows, how it regarded certain employee positions… Some make no sense whatsoever.” …


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Inside ‘La Guilde,’ Quebec’s new independent development cooperative

We speak to Pascal Nataf, co-founder of new Quebec independent game development cooperative La Guilde, to find out about his organization’s place in the industry and its mission. …


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Report: Fable Legends Development Might Be Saved

Update: Microsoft has responded to our request for comment, though there is no new information to share. The company says it remains in conversation with employees about next steps during the consultation period.

“We aren’t sharing additional details beyond that we have ceased development on ‘Fable Legends,’ and are in discussions with employees at Lionhead about our proposed closure of the studio as well,” a Microsoft representative told us via email. As the consultation period draws to a close, we'll have a better idea of what will happen with Lionhead and Fable Legends.

Original Story:

There might be some good news for Fable fans this morning. A report suggests that development on Fable Legends, an asymmetric, free-to-play game, might be saved.

Development was halted in March as Microsoft announced it was beginning a “consultation” period for Fable developer Lionhead. This has likely dire meaning, with a studio closure one of a few different possibilities that include significant layoffs under the guise of reorganization.

MCV is reporting from multiple sources that discussions are ongoing about ways to save the game from oblivion. According to MCV, contracted workers have already departed the studio, but employees may have an option to stay on rather than accept a severance package.

According to MCV, the likely scenario is that Lionhead employees would be granted permission to continue work on the game independently. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, and we’ll update should we receive a response.

[Source: MCV]

 

Our Take
I’m interested in how the financial arrangement would work between a new, independent studio and license owner Microsoft. While we’ll likely never know those details (and may not even see the game come to fruition), for those who have been enjoying it in closed beta and the many more eager to play, there might yet be hope.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Uncharted 4 Development Comes To A Finish

It's been a long haul with many delays, but Uncharted 4: A Thief's End has officially gone gold, meaning the game has reached the end of development and is headed to manufacturing.

The news comes in the form of tweets, from both Naughty Dog and Neil Druckmann, writer and director of Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us.

Far Cry Primal’s Beast Riding Was Added Late In Development Thanks To Playtesting

When players began testing Far Cry Primal, there were a number of things they enjoyed. However, there was one big problem bogging down the gameplay. It was taking far too long to get from one place to another.

Previous Far Cry games feature vehicles, hang gliders, wing suits, and other means of traversal. None of those things fit in the prehistoric setting, but Ubisoft had a problem. It simply wasn't fun to trudge across the map.

However, the team took that feedback and devised a solution. Beast taming was already part of the game. By giving players the opportunity to ride some of the animals, moving around became faster, thus solving the issue.

This success story is just one of many from Ubisoft's User Data Research group. We had the chance to hear from editorial user research director Sebastien Odasso, who discussed how Ubisoft improves its games with the help of end-user playtesters.

It's important to note that playtesting isn't quality assurance. These individuals aren't on a bug hunt. It also isn't the dreaded marketing-driven focus testing that some players believe is diluting creativity in triple-A gaming.

User research is about gathering feedback on a variety of game elements, including the interface, communication of in-game objectives, and general enjoyment. Data is gathered from community playtesters that visit one of Ubisoft's 13 user research labs to play in-development games.

Using a variety of psychological data gathering, ergonomics, and telemetry (like heat maps and player pathing through the game), Ubisoft is able to determine how players experience games. Once the data is gathered, Ubisoft's user research team prepares a report for the developers. There is no mandate to implement feedback, and creative control remains with the developers.

However, across the 203 playtests conducted last year, the user research group has evidenced a number of successes. These include streamlining the vehicle upgrade process in The Crew. At one point, players could not do this on the fly and, instead, had to return to HQ. Players were spending an enormously disproportionate time at HQ to upgrade, taking them away from other activities.

The Division's skill mods were once harder to interpret. Taking into account user research data, the game was adjusted to call out the important information and highlighting the relevant information.

Ubisoft continues to innovate its processes. The publisher is now also using eye tracking data to determine if players are accurately following the action and critical prompts. The user research team is also using an integrated feedback logger that allows players to identify if they are confused or frustrated at key points. These are accompanied by 10-second videos that show what was happening on-screen during the feedback.

There are a few areas that present challenges for Ubisoft as it continues to refine its user data processes. Microtransactions and in-app purchases are impossible to lab-test. Giving players currency to use doesn't yield practical results, as there are no real-world consequences from spending gifted money. Ubisoft is also working to build up its player testing regimen for virtual reality.

While the user research group doesn't make games, it seems clear it helps make them better. By bringing end-users in during development, Ubisoft is able to get data from outside the bubble. And though studios need not take into account the user research, the evidence seems clear that games have benefitted from the feedback.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Language and mobile development: A postmortem on terminology and teams

“Describing the details of the product to each of the parties in meaningful and consistent ways is challenging. It also makes for many revisions and refinements to the documentation.” …


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