Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Splatoon 2 Doesn’t Feel Like A Sequel Yet, But It’s Fun

Last night’s announcement of Splatoon 2 was a surprise. I, and the
collective Internet, thought Splatoon’s Switch presence would be a port
of the original game with some added bonuses, but Nintendo is going
full-on sequel for the follow-up. At Nintendo’s Switch event, I was able to play two rounds of the new game.

We didn't get a lot of detail about the game’s campaign. Even questions as simple as, “Will
there be a campaign?” went unanswered by Nintendo’s representatives,
but I was able to play two multiplayer matches using the Switch in in
its portable mode. Local multiplayer will be an option this way, so
wi-fi will not be required to play with friends nearby.

For the first match I use the new weapon, the Splat Dualies, which lets you dual-wield a pair of paint-pistols. After painting enough ground, I activate my special ability, which shot me up into the air with a Super Mario Sunshine-style paint-fueled jetpack. As I floated over the battlefield, I shot down giant globs of paint until the ability ran out.

For the second round, I went for a personal favorite, the roller. It felt basically the same with a special ability that let me slam down a giant circle of paint.

You still have the option to fly directly to your teammates after dying, but now you don't necessarily have to touch the screen as your teammates are assigned d-pad buttons, which you can use to zip to them without having to remove your fingers from the buttons.

Splatoon 2 feels very similar to its predecessor, and doesn't look dramatically different, but it is still a lot of fun, and the prospect of having a full Splatoon experience playable as a mobile game title is exciting. Splatoon 2 will be available on Nintendo Switch in the first half of 2017.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

1-2-Switch Is A Multiplayer Game That Doesn’t Require A Screen

Would you believe Nintendo announced a game that doesn't require a screen at all? The first game shown at today's Nintendo Switch Presentation is called 1-2-Switch, it's a two-player party game that Nintendo says is best played by looking into the eyes of your opponent, studying their body language, and reacting to their movements.

Each player holds one of the two joy-cons that come with the Switch unit. The idea of this game was first shown in a live-action sequence that shows a high-noon standoff between two cowboys. They gazed deeply into each other's eyes for a few seconds, and then reached to their holsters to draw their weapons, which just happened to be joy-cons. It wasn't entirely obvious what happened next, but it looked like the losing cowboy's joy-con was vibrating. The TV screen, which apparently isn't required, may have shown the time it took each cowboy to draw.

Yes, this game sounds confusing, but it looks simple and consists of a number of activities ranging from dancing and sword fighting to boxing and what appeared to be a shaving competition, with both players using the joy-con to mimic a morning shave. The screen clearly introduces and shows visuals for the game type at play, but isn't required to be viewed by the players when the action begins.

1-2-Switch is launching on the same day as the Switch hardware on March 3.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Why Overwatch Doesn’t Need A Story Mode

“All right, listen up!” says the echoing voice of Soldier 76, Overwatch’s anointed dad character. As part of the intro to the new seasonal mode, “Mei’s Snowball Offensive,” the camera pans over a view of the Ecopoint: Antarctica map, as if this were an action film. ”We brought you here because you represent the best, strongest, most effective warriors we…” The camera swoops down to a shot of Mei, copping a coy smile and hiding a snowball. With a chuckle, she launches it at the screen. “You can’t be serious,” a resigned Solider 76 says. His heart-pounding action flick has been ruined.

The intro’s a little long for something players are supposed to watch every time they want to play a match of Mei’s Snowball Offensive, but it works. It’s cheeky in just the right way, like a comedy skit, and it injects some personality into the mode.

It also offers some direct storytelling, something Overwatch currently lacks. That lack of narrative is one of the few knocks fans have against it. In editorials, social media, and Blizzard’s own forums, diehards have been asking for (and bemoaning the lack of) a proper story mode for the game since its release. But as much as fans are dying to know more about Overwatch’s world by playing the game itself, I don’t think the game should get that story mode any time soon.  

Mei’s Snowball Offensive is one of three seasonal modes Blizzard has dropped into Overwatch throughout the year. The other two modes have similar high-concept setups: In “The Summer Games,” the characters dress up as Olympic athletes to celebrate sportsmanship, although Lúcio is the only one who gets to play a new mode. In “Junkenstein’s Revenge,” they play out what could be the final act of a cheesy horror flick.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

These modes, all distinct “what-if” scenarios, cement Overwatch’s cast less as characters in a typical story and more the way Shigeru Miyamoto views the cast of the Mario games, as “a troupe of actors,” who can work different roles depending on the situation. How else can we explain how Jamison “Junkrat” Fawkes goes from being a Junker who builds explosives out of scraps to a mad scientist hellbent on creating an army of Zomnics? We aren’t meant to see these modes as part of the same timeline, but rather as a collection of stories featuring the cast of Overwatch.

This doesn’t mean Overwatch lacks any kind of consistent world-building or lore. One of the biggest draws of the game is how we can find out about Soldier 76, Mei, or Junkrat even without the presence of a story mode. Combing through Blizzard’s official comicswiki pages, and animated shorts, can paint just as good picture of who you’re playing as when you hop into a match of the non-seasonal modes. These stories turn Overwatch’s maps into parts of a world, its cast into interesting archetypes players are drawn to. But, since you won’t find any of it in the game’s menus, you can choose to disengage from that world entirely if you just want to dress up as Witch Mercy for the night.

Players being able to divorce themselves from that world is important, because it’s part of what has allowed the fan art and fiction community for Overwatch thrive so prominently. With Overwatch’s world as a guide but not a mandate, they have created new scenarios where these characters fight each other, or far more interesting scenarios that put them in a much more mundane light. Fans frequently play matchmaker for their favorite characters, and many popular couplings (like “PharMercy”) have proliferated; they’ve given characters new (often more endearing) backstories. The way Overwatch puts its plot in the background lets anyone use the characters Blizzard has created in the same way they do, as “a troupe of actors” taking part in myriad one-off shorts that don’t adhere to a strict timeline.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

That’s the world of any multiplayer game: a deluge of conflicting narratives, overlapping in messy and glorious ways. So far, Blizzard has embraced that. They’ve made the community fiction a part of their game by putting a nod to the “Gremlin” version of D.Va that began in fan art in the game. The game’s wider fiction is there if you want to dig deep, but you can forget it and have the game’s “story” be your matches, your Play of the Game, your favorite outfits, your favorite seasonal mode, or your own fan-fiction, and the game abides.

A full-blown story mode fleshing out the characters and lore of Overwatch would make these colliding fictions less fun. It would bring the “main” story Blizzard has crafted for these characters to the center in a way that would make the fan art and seasonal one-offs feel like they are no longer as “important” as whatever official plot Blizzard puts forth. I don’t think it would mean the end of these modes, or fan-stories, or fan-oriented Easter eggs. But as soon as the game has a “real” story mode, it becomes the main event, and everything else is a little curiosity, thrown to the side. Though there’s a lot of details to learn about the world of Overwatch, it still exists in an ambiguous state, which lets both Blizzard and fans fill in the gaps however they want.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

This isn’t to say that if Blizzard were to add a story mode, it would quash the output of fan art and fiction. These communities spring up for any piece of fiction with the potential to explore different character relationships (such as Mass Effect). But what’s notable about Overwatch is that in its case, the tangential stories share as much prominence in people’s minds as the officially-sanctioned story. When there isn’t much evidence to say that the PharMercy relationship, for example, isn’t canon, it can fill in a gap in people’s minds left behind by the ambiguous nature of Blizzard’s world-building thus far.

I have little doubt that if Blizzard actually did try their hand at a single-player mode for Overwatch, they’d knock it out of the park. And I get why fans would want a story mode to flesh out several of the plotlines teased in the animated shorts. The world they’ve built is ripe for exploring, and many of their characters would shine in the spotlight. But once that world is explored, once there’s an in-depth “official” version of these characters, fans will have less room to fill in the gaps themselves, and fun seasonal modes like Mei’s Snowball Offensive will lose some of their appeal. So I hope Blizzard sticks to the “troupe” approach, and continues to let us tell our own stories in its world.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Super Mario Maker For 3DS Doesn’t Have 3D Support

Box art featured on the Canadian EB Games (Disclosure: GameStop is Game Informer’s parent company) website for the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker appears to confirm that the handheld title does not include 3D functionality.

[Source: EB Games]

Our Take
I'm not sure who would consider this a dealbreaker in any fashion. I tend to use the 3D feature on the 3DS for about 10 minutes each title before the gimmick gets old and I just want to play the game. This won't influence my decision on whether or not to pick up Super Mario Maker 3DS, and I'm fairly certain it won't influence anyone else either.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Miyamoto Doesn’t Think Mario Games Are A Good Fit For VR

Super Mario's creator doesn't think that the iconic plumber would perform well in the VR space.

After Apple's iPhone 7 event, USA Today talked with legendary Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto about the new app Super Mario Run. The designer shared his thoughts on why Nintendo has been slow to embrace gaming on smartphones. “Because up until recently we found that mobile devices weren't best suited to gaming. But that's changing."

Miyamoto went on to comment that he didn’t think Mario would make the transition to VR headsets anytime soon. "I would agree that adapting Mario to new platforms is a key to keeping him relevant, but we want families to play together, and virtual reality (which requires players to be closed off from the real world) doesn't really fit well there," he told USA Today. "We also like people playing for a long time, and it's hard to do that in VR."

For more from Miyamoto, be sure to watch our interview from E3 with the iconic designer right here.

[Source: USA Today]

 

Our Take
These statements don’t mean that we’ll never see a Mario game in VR. Nintendo was slow to bring its properties into the smartphone space, but it finally has with apps like Pokémon Go and Super Mario Run. Miyamoto’s reservations about VR might be valid with current technology, but they could change as designers innovate on VR and as our culture embraces the technology.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Blog: Designing a game and scrapping what doesn’t work

“What goes on after the prototype has been done and art is implemented? Here’s the thought process that has kept me working on game content for weeks.” …


Gamasutra News

Gears Of War 4 Loot Crate Includes Lancer Replica, Doesn’t Require Subscription

Gears of War fans are getting their very own Loot Crate stuffed with swag from Sera. The Gears of War 4 limited edition crate is on sale now, with shipment expected in time for the game’s launch.

While most of the items included are a surprise, Loot Crate and Gears of War 4 developer The Coalition have revealed one of the items. Each crate will come with a seven-inch replica lancer, hoodie, and glassware. There's also a two-inch gold lancer pin for anyone that orders before 9 p.m. Pacific on July 15.

The crate will come in two different versions. You can get it bundled with a digital version of the game for $ 130 or without the game for $ 75. You can sign up here.

This marks the first time that Loot Crate is offering a game pre-order. Gears of War 4 will be out on October 13. For more, check out our coverage hub from April 2016.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

YouTuber Trevor Martin Admits Ownership Of CS:GO Gambling Site, Doesn’t Apologize For Deception

Update: Trevor Martin has removed his "apology" video from YouTube. He has issued no comment or statement at this time.

Original Story (July 6, 2016 @ 5:47 p.m. Central):

Earlier this week, two popular YouTubers were discovered to be owners of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) gambling site that they promoted without disclosure. Videos showed Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell and Trevor “TmarTn” Martin gambling on CS:GO Lotto, a site they claimed to stumble upon.

This situation came to light through the detective work of a YouTube channel called HonorTheCall and signal boosting by H3H3 Productions. The accused duo, which commands an audience of 17 million subscribers, has been silent since their illicit activities, failure to comply with FTC rules, and all of the related fallout that came to light on July 4.

Today, Martin published a video titled “I’m Sorry.” In it, he suggests that he did not deceive viewers because his ownership of the site was a matter of public record. That means that information could be found if someone went looking, which is not the same as open, unavoidable, and clearly labeled disclosure. “My connection to CS:GO Lotto has been a matter of public record since the company was first organized in December of 2015,” he says. “However, I do feel like I owe you an apology. I am sorry to each and every one of you who felt like that was not made clear enough to you.”

Martin did not include a disclosure on his videos that he owned the company, and even stated that in an earlier clip that he had been made aware of the site. “We found this new site called CS:GO Lotto,” he said in an earlier video. “We were betting on it today, and I won a pot of like $ 69 or something like that. It was a pretty small pot. But it was like the coolest feeling ever. I ended up following them on Twitter and stuff, and they hit me up and they’re talking to me about potentially doing like a skin sponsorship. I’ve been considering doing it.”

In a video that appeared after the news broke that he and Cassell had failed to disclose their ownership of the business, Martin changed his tune. “Tom (ProSyndicate) and I own CS:GO Lotto,” Martin says. “This is something that has never been a secret.”

In today's update, Martin goes on to say that he does not condone underage gambling. The terms of service on CS:GO Lotto now say that anyone under the age of 18 is not permitted, though there is no check or technical prohibition that prevents someone of any age from using the site.

We still have not heard back from Martin or Cassell after reaching out to both of them on Monday, July 4. We've also reached out to YouTube and the FTC for comment. We’ll update should we receive responses to our inquiries.

[Source: Trevor Martin on YouTube (removed)]


Our Take
Martin’s pandering statement is barely an apology, and he takes steps to avoid actually apologizing for wrongdoing. He does not say he’s sorry for failing to disclose. He does not apologize for duping people. He apologizes if people didn’t think it was clear enough, placing partial blame on viewers.

We're curious to see if both YouTube and the FTC take direct, punitive action against Martin and Cassell. Both have betrayed their viewers' trust, and Martin has only salted the wound with this simpering non-apology.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Opinion – If Microsoft Doesn’t Understand Project Scorpio, How Can We?

Normally, the unveiling of new hardware is one of the most exciting events in the gaming industry. Hardware evolution carries with it the promise of new experiences, and those experiences ultimately serve as the motivation for consumers to purchase new consoles. When Microsoft revealed Project Scorpio at its E3 2016 press conference, it painted a rosy picture of a future filled with limitless power and 4K gaming – but in the following days, none of Microsoft’s spokespeople were on the same page when it came to articulating the system’s key features or its benefits. If Microsoft doesn’t have a clear vision for what Project Scorpio represents, how are gamers and developers supposed to get excited?

Let’s start by looking at the tentpole feature: 4K gaming. According to the reveal, Project Scorpio’s 6 teraflops of power will make it the most powerful console ever, and can be used to generate visual fidelity unlike any system before it. True 4K gaming sounds great, but what if you don’t have a 4K-capable TV? Xbox head Phil Spencer explained to Xbox Live’s Major Nelson that all of the processing power doesn’t necessarily need to be applied to 4K, and developers could use it in other ways, apparently providing value for gamers without state-of-the-art televisions.

That makes sense so far, but Spencer seemed to contradict himself in a later interview with Eurogamer. When referring to gamers who own a standard 1080p television, Spencer said, “Then you should buy [the Xbox One S], because Scorpio is not going to do anything for you. Scorpio is designed as a 4K console, and if you don't have a 4K TV, the benefit we've designed for, you're not going to see. Clearly, you can buy Scorpio, and if and when you decide you want to buy a 4K television to take advantage of the increased performance, obviously the console will be ready for you.” When you’re revealing a brand new console that won’t be out for another year and a half, it probably isn’t wise to tell a large portion of your consumers that they don’t need to buy it.

Apart from 4K gaming, what other advantages do games on Project Scorpio have? The video shown at Microsoft’s press conference has one person describing the system as “the highest res, the best framerate, no compromises.” Gamers like when their games perform smoothly, so the prospect of a guaranteed framerate increase would be attractive to many. The problem is that it’s not happening. When we asked Microsoft Studios general manager Shannon Loftis about the possibility of framerate superiority on Project Scorpio versus the game on other Xbox hardware, she replied, “No, there wouldn't be a frame rate difference, because typically the frame rate is determined by the game developer and what's right for the gameplay mechanic. You don't necessarily want to create two different mechanics for two different configurations." So though you might get a better resolution when playing in 4K, you may not be getting to jump in performance you’d expect from this supposed powerhouse of a system.

Casting even further doubt on the importance of upgrading is the fact that the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Project Scorpio will be able to play the same games. “No one gets left behind,” Spencer said during the hardware reveal. In other words, though games on Project Scorpio can use the additional power, they can’t be exclusive to the new hardware; they need to work on Xbox One and Xbox One S, too. That seems pretty straightforward, but when Geoff Keighley asked Loftis about the possibility of Scorpio exclusives, she said, “I don't know about that. We'll see. It's up to the game development community.” This apparently opened the door for Scorpio-only games, though she later tweeted a clarification that she had made a mistake, and that all games would play on all Xbox systems.

Lastly, Microsoft seemed to anticipate the resistance some gamers would have to buying a new console at this point in the generation. In an interview with Wired, Spencer clarified that the company is not aiming for the continuous upgrades seen in the mobile phone industry. “Consumer expectation is that, if you wanted to, you could go buy a new cell phone every year,” Spencer said. “I don’t want to get into that mode with a console…We’re not on a hardware tick-tock that says I need to put out a console every two years or every one year to get people to upgrade. That’s not the console model.”

That’s reassuring. But according to Jeff Rivait, the Xbox platform marketing manager for Xbox Canada, that may not be the case. In an interview with Xbox Enthusiast, Rivait said, “When gamers get to carry forward their games, and they’re not losing the value invested in the ecosystem, in addition to getting more frequent and more powerful hardware, is looking at things like the mobile industry and how they’ve innovated. Yes, if you want to stay on top of things you may be buying consoles more frequently, but you’re also getting better looking and more powerful gaming experiences sooner than you would be getting in previous [generations].”

This implies that we might even see more incremental upgrade consoles, which would support Spencer’s on-stage claims about gaming “beyond generations” and creating a continuous platform service – though it also goes directly against his claims of this kind of cycle not being the console model. Since we can’t take the statements at face value, only time will tell which side of this issue Microsoft ultimately lands on.

I know this all sounds pretty harsh, but to be clear: I am not trying condemn Project Scorpio itself. This all comes down to Microsoft and its inability to deliver a clear, consistent message about what the system is and why we should care about it. If Microsoft can answer those questions between now and holiday 2017, I’ll be lining up to pick up my Scorpio on release day with everyone else. But as an unveiling, this E3 went badly for Project Scorpio thanks to all of the mixed messages. What was undoubtedly meant as a triumphant reveal failed to energize fans, and made Sony look smarter for focusing on games rather than pulling back the curtain on its confirmed “PlayStation Neo.” At least if you don’t say anything about a new system, you don’t run the risk of contradicting yourself and creating more confusion than hype.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Blog: China doesn’t want your games

“China is a ‘go big or go home’ scenario; it’s either that you have a kick-ass game, or you develop it from the ground up to meet Chinese needs.” …


Gamasutra News