Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Ask Mafia III’s Harrison Pink about writing great characters at 3PM EST

If you have questions about how to get players attached to your game’s characters, we’re chatting with Hangar 13 game developer Harrison Pink today at 3PM EST. …


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Don’t miss all the great VR-focused sessions and events at GDC 2017!

From the 50+ VR-focused sessions at GDC 2017 to the two full days of game/entertainment VR talks during VRDC @ GDC to the special VRDC mixer, here’s a rundown of all the cool VR/AR stuff at GDC 2017! …


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Microsoft, Sony, HTC Vive and more are sponsoring great GDC 2017 talks!

Don’t skip the great sponsored sessions at GDC 2017! High-profile companies like Microsoft, Sony, and HTC Vive will be there opening up about everything from the future of Xbox to 3D audio to VR dev. …


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Come to GDC 2017 and learn to design great reward systems for games

Forget everything you’ve heard about “dopamine” — Epic Games’ Ben-Lewis Evans is giving a great, well-informed talk at GDC 2017 that will empower you to build better game reward systems. …


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Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review – A Great Collection Leading Into What Comes Next

After
various spin-offs and re-releases, the buildup to Kingdom Hearts III has been
nothing if not drawn out. Kingdom Hearts II launched more than a decade ago,
and a whole new generation of gamers can play the early entries thanks to HD
remasters on PS3 (and later this year on the PS4). Final Chapter Prologue
should be the last new remaster before Kingdom Hearts III; it includes Dream
Drop Distance (originally a 3DS exclusive) for the first time on the big
screen. Additionally, an episode starring Aqua and a mini-movie, which shows
how this crazy journey all began, are both new for this entry. As convoluted as
the Kingdom Hearts storyline is, after playing through this collection, I have
a clearer understanding of the narrative leading into Kingdom Hearts III. Even
without the extra story context, Final Chapter Prologue is fun on its own, and
Square Enix did a wonderful job making this a worthwhile collection and not
just a port of Dream Drop Distance.

The most appealing part
of the collection is A Fragmentary Passage, which follows Aqua after the events
of Birth By Sleep. The episode took me about three hours to complete, but if
you collect every treasure, you can extend that an extra hour. Aqua is one of
my favorite characters due to her selflessness and determination to save the
world, and getting some resolution to her story was satisfying. I won't spoil
anything, but playing the episode only makes me more excited for what potential
role she might play in Kingdom Hearts III.

A Fragmentary Passage
takes you through various levels, each with its own gimmick. For instance, in
the first world, Aqua must locate five clock gears, platforming on high ledges
and rooftops, while battling enemies to achieve them. In another, she must go
through mirrors and uses their reflections to create ledges or manipulate
gravity. Square Enix says A Fragmentary Passage uses development tools similar
to Kingdom Hearts III, showing off more expansive environments and the ease of
getting around them using the air slide and a powerful double jump, so it's
almost a first look at how the tech has advanced for the upcoming entry. It
makes me excited for Kingdom Hearts III's exploration. The episode also shows
off the smoothest combat I've experienced in the series, playing out in a
faster, more fluid pace. Camera issues didn't plague me as much as past entries
have, either.

While some cool boss
fights, like a titan that takes up most of the landscape and a tower of
Heartless that morph into different shapes, test your skills, these baddies
often repeat through the short levels, and a lot of the objectives feel like
busy work. You're never just locating one thing – it's usually five, or
backtracking to get what you need. The journey is breezy, so if you're looking
for a challenge, I recommend starting on Proud Mode. You can unlock Critical
Mode after completing A Fragmentary Passage on any mode for the highest
challenge, which really tests your combat prowess.

A Fragmentary Passage isn't perfect, but I'm
glad Square Enix included completely new content, and dressing up Aqua by
completing challenges is a fun bonus. My Aqua ended up wearing Minnie Mouse
ears and having a red-and-white dress with ribbons to match. At the end of the
episode, a lengthy scene (presumably from Kingdom Hearts III) allows you to
finally see the characters embark on the next part of their journey, which is
really what we've been waiting all this time for – to see that Kingdom Hearts'
plot is moving forward instead of explaining past elements.

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The collection also features an HD movie, Kingdom
Hearts Back Cover
, which runs a little
over an hour. The movies in these collections haven't always been that
impressive, and I was skeptical knowing that this was based on a mobile game's
story, but Square Enix really spruced it up. It's the best movie featured in
all the HD collections up to this point, and sheds worthwhile light on the
series' early history and how the prophecy of darkness affected the
Foretellers. The movie is a good look at what set the events of Kingdom Hearts
into motion, and has some memorable betrayals and action sequences, as everyone
tries to do what they think is right to save the world from its dark fate.

Dream Drop Distance HD is the part of the
collection you can sink the most time into, and Square Enix has made plenty of
enhancements and changes to get the 3DS game running smoothly on console. The
battles are faster-paced, the camera benefits from a larger screen, and load
times are improved from the original handheld version. The controls are also
better on the PS4, feeling less clunky. Square Enix updated the minigames and
abilities that previously used the 3DS' touchscreen, although it's not always
an improvement. For instance, the reality-shift slingshot worked much better
with touch controls, and petting your Dreameaters felt more natural with a
stylus. Still, this version is far from just a visual upgrade (although it does
look fantastic on PS4). For those who haven't played Dream Drop Distance, or
want a refresher, this is the best way to go.

Final Chapter Prologue is a solid collection that I
enjoyed playing, and got me more excited for Kingdom Hearts III due to how it
sets up everything so wonderfully. I wish I were playing Kingdom Hearts III
instead of another remaster, but this is the best collection for getting you
prepped for what's ahead. 

What’s In 2.8?
The only previous game included in Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is Dream Drop Distance; it does not have Kingdom Hearts I or II in it. If you want to play those, you need to buy Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 for PlayStation 3, or wait for the announced PS4 versions.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

NPD: PS4 Leads In December, FF XV Has A Great Debut

Sony's PS4 was tabbed by the NPD industry sales trackers as the number-one selling console for the month, holding back the Xbox One. Microsoft's system sold 10 percent more as compared to the same time last year.

Regarding the overall hardware category, despite the existence of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S, the hardware category declined in 2016 to $ 3.7 billion compared to 2015 – that's a 24 percent shrink. Also factoring in is that consoles sold for less on average, but this didn't make consumers any more likely to buy them. Consumers bought seven percent fewer units.

On the other hand, the Nintendo 3DS handheld grew two percent in the month as compared a year ago – the seventh straight month of year-on-year growth.

On the software side, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare slid in at number one after releasing on November 4, and Final Fantasy XV (above) – having come out later in the month on November 29 grabbed the second spot. Other debuts include Pokémon Sun & Moon and Watch Dogs 2.

Final Fantasy XV was the PS4's best selling game, and represents the best-selling launch month for the franchise since tracking began in 1995. It even grabbed the number 10 software spot for the entire year.

NPD Top 10 Games for December

  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Battlefield 1
  • Madden NFL 17
  • NBA 2K17
  • Watch Dogs 2
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Pokémon: Sun (neither Pokémon title includes digital sales)
  • FIFA 17
  • Pokémon: Moon

NPD Top 10 Games For 2016

  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Battlefield 1
  • The Division
  • NBA 2K17
  • Madden NFL 17
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Overwatch (not including sales from battle.net)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  • FIFA 17
  • Final Fantasy XV

 

For the year as a whole, the NPD says that video game industry in the U.S. generate $ 30.4 billion. This is up from 2015's $ 30.2 billion. The software category grew six percent from 2015.

Note: The text originally stated that Microsoft's Xbox One led console sales last month when it didn't. We apologize for the error. It has been corrected.

 

Our Take
It's interesting that the PS4 Pro and Xbox One sales didn't seem to stem the revenue decline compared to 2015. Whether this signals overall consumer disinterest remains to be seen.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

At GDC 2017, Blizzard shares tips on designing great game rewards

At GDC 2017, Blizzard senior game designer Travis Day will draw on 12 years working on World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 to share some hard-learned lessons about how reward systems can guide or harm player experience. …


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Is Prey The Next Great Horror Game?

In much the same way that BioShock had its fair share of jumpscares and unsettling moments but wasn't necessarily a horror game, Prey from Arkane Studios straddles an interesting line. While visiting the studio (that created Dishonored) for our cover story on Prey, we spoke to the game's lead designer Ricardo Bare about whether or not the immersive game set on an alien-riddled space station will appeal to pure horror game fans. 

Watch the video below to learn why Prey might leave you on edge more than you think…

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Learn to create great characters for your game franchise at GDC 2017!

In his GDC 2017 Game Narrative Summit talk on “Creating Franchise Characters,” veteran game dev Bob Bates will look at what great franchise characters have in common — and how you can make your own. …


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Blog: Coding great scrolling lists for your game

“Scrolling such a huge container full of elements has a great impact on the game’s UI performance. The FPS drop rate was unacceptable, so we had to think of a more sophisticated solution.” …


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