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Cliff Bleszinski’s Project BlueStreak Gets A Countdown Site And The Promise Of Updates

It looks like we'll be learning more about Cliff Bleszinski's free-to-play Project BlueStreak as early as tomorrow.

Cliff Bleszinski, best known for his work on Gears of War and Unreal Tournament, announced the game last summer. The game will be a free-to-player sci-fi arena shooter taking place in Los Angeles. Outside of a brief teaser shown earlier this year and those few details, however, we don't know much about the game.

BlueStreak has been a code name for the game since announcement and the recently launched countdown site references The Shattering, which may be the game's final, official name. You can check out the site here and register for an account.

Thanks Austin Suther for the news tip!

[Source: theshattering.nexon.net, @therealcliffyb]

 

Our Take
I don't know how excited I can get about a free-to-play arena sci-fi shooter, but I am certainly curious to learn more about the game. Bleszinski knows how to craft a shooter, so expectations are high.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Second Life dev hopes to democratize VR with new project

Second Life creator Linden Lab is hard at work creating its next virtual world, “Project Sansar” – a virtual reality platform that aims to “democratize VR as a creative medium”. …


Gamasutra News

Kickstarter Project Managers Must Take Lessons From Nonprofits

As readers may know, before I wrote about video games, I worked in the nonprofit industry for a number of years. I raised money and, in one of my favorite positions, I helped give it away to groups with worthy projects. In a previous position I was responsible for distributing state grant funds both in a local capacity and as part of a government panel of experts. The lessons I learned doing this can be applied to Kickstarter.

Before Double Fine married the gaming world with crowd funding, Kickstarter was (and still is) a hotbed of cultural activity. Just as developers have traditionally contended with the publisher model, artists typically needed to have fiscal sponsorship by a 501(c)(3) in order to more easily raise funds.

Under that section of the tax code, contributions are tax deductible, which is a major motivating force behind charitable giving. Without that status, going to complete strangers with a letter or short grant proposal was rarely successful.

Kickstarter allows artists to present their work to interested parties from around the world who might be willing to help see the projects completed, just as it has allowed developers to get in front of gamers. Even though the barriers to funding have fallen, the rules of fundraising and project management have not. 

There are some simple rules that Kickstarter project managers of all disciplines should consider when assembling a proposal.

Be Honest
Above all else, project managers must be up front with potential backers about the strengths and weaknesses of the project. Kickstarter's "Risks and Challenges" section should not be looked at as onerous, but rather as an opportunity. The best projects are those in which the managers have taken the opportunity to be honest with themselves first.

Budget Wisely
Whenever I worked with nonprofit groups on budgeting, my first rule was simple. "Project your revenue low and your expenses high." Always assume that something is going to take more time than you'd like, and absolutely plan for financial contingencies. This includes backer rewards. The case of Star Command is one that should be drummed into every project manager's head. Backer rewards and fulfillment cost money. They must be part of the budget.

Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Too often, I see project scopes and stretch goals that evidence "mission creep." Rather than using funds for smart additions that are within the realm of feasibility, project managers frequently commit to too much before a single day of development has gone by. Stretch goals are dangerous, especially as they are often formed out of the excitement of unexpected success. Before committing, project managers should revisit the entire budget to make sure that incremental additions achieve economies of scale rather than yielding excessive expenses.

Fire When Ready
We receive many Kickstarter pitches every day. When making the decision to cover a project, I ask a set of standard questions. 

  • Is the budget feasible?
  • Has the project manager been honest about the challenges?
  • Are there unanswered questions about the development cycle, other funding, or the experience of the staff involved
  • Have the developers on the project actually shipped a game?
  • Is the project just an idea or is it an in-progress endeavor?
  • Does the pitch video show enough that I am confident the project will happen?

Provide Timely Updates During the Campaign and After
Do not alienate your backers. If something changes (good or bad), let your backers know immediately. Transparency is important, and it should be full. There are few things worse than being mostly transparent, but surprising your backers with a bit of bad news. Backers might not be investors in the traditional sense, but there is a perception among many that they are entitled to be fully in the loop. Whether you agree or not as a project manager is irrelevant, especially if you want people to fund you again.

When looking at Kickstarter projects, I need to have the confidence that managers have fully considered all of the contingencies and worst case scenarios. I want to know that the team has credibility and can deliver on promises. I expect that the big questions about execution are answered up front and don't require an interview with the developers.

We see many interesting concepts and few attractive projects. The more project managers do up front to answer questions, the easier it is for us to cover and for backers to fund. These are the same things I suggested to the hundreds of organizations I worked with as a grant maker, and though there are differences in the financial model, they apply to any group asking others for hard-earned money.

Note: This story was originally published on July 13, 2013.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow Creators Teasing New Project With Updated Website

A recent update to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow developer MercurySteam's website teases a new science-fiction project.

If you go to MercurySteam.com, you will see the image above of a man smoking a cigar in some kind of futuristic cockpit bathed in green light, and following text also appears on-screen:

STATUS: Exploring new worlds, fighting strange creatures, discovering new heroes. Expect news soon…

MercurySteam's pre-Castlevania work is also on display.

In 2012, before the release of Lords of Shadow 2, MercurySteam expressed an interest modernizing the Contra franchise. It's hard to extract too many details from the image above, but Contra wouldn't be a stretch.

[Source: MercurySteam.com, via NeoGAF]

 

Our Take
I loved Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. I liked Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate. I played Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. MercurySteam is a talented developer, even if it had a misstep with Lords of Shadow 2, and I am interested in seeing what it has in store for the future.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Project Cars ‘Simply Too Much For The Wii U’

Studio head of Project Cars developer Slightly Mad Studios, Ian Bell, has all but confirmed that the Wii U version of the game won't be coming out. However, the game may yet appear on a Nintendo system.

Bell sent along this message to Nintendo Life about the Wii U version of the game: 

"The official line is that we're awaiting an announcement from Nintendo on new hardware. As of now pCARS is simply too much for the Wii U."

Earlier this spring, Bell admitted that putting the game on the Wii U would be a big challenge, as it was having trouble with the game's framerate on the system. Even then he was holding out hope for a new Nintendo system.

We've contacted publisher Namco Bandai for more confirmation of the game's status, and we'll update this story if we hear anything back.

[Source: Nintendo Life]

 

Our Take
Given the high visual bar of the title from the outset, I've always been surprised that it was even considered for the Wii U. I think the developer was sincere about bringing it to the system, but at this stage in the Wii U's life, it's probably not even worth it anyway. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Atlus & Vanillaware Reveal Odin Sphere Remake & New Project

Atlus and Vanillaware have announced an HD remake of the 2007 PS2 title Odin Sphere. The project is called Odin Sphere: Leifdrasir, and it's not the only thing the pair are working on.

Leifdrasir (currently only announced for release in Japan on January 14) is coming to the PS4, PS3, and Vita, and will feature new enemies, maps, and more – including tweaks to make the gameplay smoother and faster.

The two companies also teased a new project, with more info coming in September (possibly at Tokyo Game Show), which you can see briefly below.

Odin Sphere: Leifdrasir

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Atlus & Vanillaware's Upcoming Project

(Please visit the site to view this media)

[Source: Atlus via Siliconera]

 

Our Take
In a time when most companies give gamers warmed-over remakes that don't add anything new, it's great that Atlus and Vanillaware are going the extra mile with Leifdrasir (including putting it on PS3) and not letting it slow them down from new projects as well.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Yu Suzuki Discusses Shenmue III And How His Dream Project Became A Reality

The gripping tale of Ryo Hazuki’s quest for vengeance captivated Dreamcast audiences when it released to widespread critical acclaim in 2000. Though Yu Suzuki’s masterpiece was beloved by fans, the astounding cost of its first two entries and poor sales of Shenmue II drove Sega to cancel the third game, leaving Suzuki’s saga without resolution.

Though the series was abandoned by Sega and written off as an impossibility for over a decade, the fan base has been unrelenting in its requests for the series to continue. Both Suzuki and Sega have been inundated by fan requests for Shenmue III, with online campaigns comprised of the most die-hard fans continuing to push forward through petitions and social media accounts. 

Those fans were vindicated this week, when Shenmue III’s Kickstarter campaign not only grabbed valuable stage time on Sony’s E3 press conference for its reveal, but also went on to attract so much traffic that Kickstarter’s site crashed. With the Kickstarter campaign reaching its goal of $ 2 million in record time and Sony providing further funding, Shenmue III is finally a reality.

The reserved nature of Yu Suzuki did little to hide his passion and excitement for this project. With each question I asked, the legendary developer spoke quickly, smiled often, and held the composure of a man whose dream was finally coming true. During our conversation, we covered a variety of topics ranging from Sega’s role in Shenmue III to how the franchise remains relevant so long after it was thought lost forever.

Game Informer: It’s been 14 years since the last game. Why is now the right time for Shenmue to return?
Yu Suzuki: To make a game like Shenmue, obviously the question is how to get the funding to make a game like that and you know, it’s been really hard – I just couldn’t find a way to get it together. But three years ago, I learned of Kickstarter and I met some people who have done Kickstarter before and with all their help, we decided to put this Kickstarter together. With what we managed to fund on that site, as well as with the other funding sources my company, Ys Net, has procured, I believe now is the time that we can make Shenmue III.

Is it frustrating to have to wait so long to finally realize this project?
Pretty much everywhere I go, it’s always “Make Shenmue III! Make Shenmue III!” The reaction is so strong from the fans that I’ve always been looking at how I can make Shenmue III. These past years, it was very stressful, because I couldn’t make it. More than that, I couldn’t give the fans what they wanted. That was probably the worst part: I couldn’t answer their calls that they were sending out for me. Now that the project has started – lots of relief there.

Now that the announcement of the game is out there, was there one moment that was the biggest relief of all?
It was probably at the Sony press conference when I was waiting in line for Shenmue III to be announced. Adam [Boyes, VP of publisher and developer relations at PlayStation] was up on stage talking about something, then I saw that the Shenmue III promotion video was on and then all of a sudden there was this big well from the audience and this big noise that came from them. That was the time that I felt most relieved. Before that, it was really big titles like Destiny – everything before that was a big title – and I was kind of worried about how Shenmue III would shape up to these guys, but once the song came on, the rouse came from the audience. I knew it was then.

Were you surprised by how fast the Kickstarter goal was reached?
The thing that really surprised me first about the Kickstarter was the crash that happened. Kickstarter broke – that was a big surprise. I couldn’t believe that! The second one was how fast it went to $ 1 million. Apparently, it is the fastest game or entertainment project on Kickstarter to reach that number.

The first two Shenmue games were published by Sega. Does Sega have any involvement with Shenmue III?
So, YS Net received the licensing rights from Sega. Of course, the original properties are still licensed with Sega. This time, they’re allowing us to use it and allowing us to use the licensing rights. They also gave us a lot of resources from [Shenmue] I and II to help us with this project. They’ve been very happy to see Shenmue III being made and we have a very good relationship.

A big part of the original Shenmue games were the Sega Easter eggs, such as the capsule toys and playing Sega games in the arcades. Is there any possibility that those will appear in this game even though those licenses belong to Sega?
There are some things I can use and there are some things I can’t use. It’s kind of depending on further talks with Sega. I think there’s going to be a lot of small details that we’re going to have to speak with them on as we go along.

The challenging part, at least in the United States, is that Shenmue came out on Sega Dreamcast, Shenmue II came out on Xbox, and Shenmue III is coming to PlayStation 4 and PC, making it difficult for many fans to experience the first two games since they’re on separate platforms. Are there any plans to bring Shenmue I and Shenmue II to modern platforms?
If you have that question, it’s better that you ask Sega because they hold the rights to those. Those are their properties and I'm not in a position to talk about that, but I’m thinking about asking them!

Shenmue was a very revolutionary and influential game when it was released on Dreamcast. A lot has changed in the games industry since then. How does the team work to make a game just as revolutionary so long after the original?
It’s all about the new challenges with me, and I definitely want to try these new things. Of course, it’s going to come down to the funding and how much we’re going to be able to spend on Shenmue III, but if we get to that point, I believe it will be just as revolutionary as the ones before.

 

As we emerged from the small room where our conversation took place, a handful of Shenmue fans eagerly greeted Suzuki. Despite spending the majority of his day in that room, fielding questions from members of the media, Suzuki stopped to greet those fans, take pictures, and sign autographs. As we left, I heard the unmistakable sound of pure joy that follows a monumental moment such as what that encounter meant to those fans. It may have been 14 years since Shenmue II launched on the Dreamcast in Japan, and 13 since its release on the Xbox in the U.S., but through the hurdles, struggles, and disappointments taking place over the past decade and a half, the enduring passion of the Shenmue fan base has kept Suzuki’s dream alive. 

This interview was originally published on June 19, 2015.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Find Out What Happened To The Quietly Cancelled Project H.A.M.M.E.R. For The Wii

Nintendo Software Technology (often shortened to NST) was working on the high-profile Project H.A.M.M.E.R. for years before it was quietly cancelled.

An early showcase for the Wii, Project H.A.M.M.E.R. featured an uncharacteristically dark-for-Nintendo cyborg soldier who wielded a giant hammer as a weapon. Ideally, the game was meant to be an example of how the Wii Remote's motions could be used for interesting and realistic movements that could be replicated in a virtual space. Unfortunately, the game never saw the light of day.

YouTube channel Unseen64 Tamaki claims to have spoken with former members of the game's development team and details how it fell apart over the course of its protracted five-year development cycle. By the team's own admission, the game was simply never fun, and the difficulty of trying to make the game fun is what tore the team apart. The internal controversy surrounding the game, however, runs deeper than that with the Japanese and American sides of Nintendo failing to agree on the direction for the game forcing many to resign until the team was a fraction of its original size.

You can check out the video detailing the game's history below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

[Source: Unseen64 Tamaki on YouTube]

 

Our Take
It's always sad to hear of development teams falling part, and projects like H.A.M.M.E.R. failing to meet expectations, but after watching the video I'm inclined to agree with the game's creators – it does not look like a fun game.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Comcept Teases New Project That Just Happens To Use The Word ‘Legends’ A Lot

Comcept and animation house Studio 4C are planning to make an announcement for something called “Red Ash” at Anime Expo this weekend. The studio headed by Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune was careful to pepper the tease with the word “legends,” which might be a hint.

Comcept is getting set to release Mighty No. 9, which is a not-so-subtle riff on the Mega Man series. The visuals featured in the video below (along with the word “legend” appearing multiple times) give some glimmer of hope that Mega Man Legends might be getting a similar treatment.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

It’s worth noting that the Japanese name for Mega Man Legends is Rockman Dash. Red Ash shuffled just a bit gets us to “Re-Dash.” It’s still too early to get your hopes up, but if you lament the cancelation of Mega Man Legends 3, this might be one to keep your eye on.

While there’s nothing concrete to point to yet, you won’t have to wait long for details. The reveal is set for Saturday, July 4 at Anime Expo in Los Angeles. For more from Inafune, you can read our E3 interview, during which we discuss Mega Man Legends 3.

 

Our Take
It wouldn’t be at all surprising for Comcept to return to the crowdfunding well for another title (especially with the "Studio 4C's challenge" bit at the end. I’m curious about the Studio 4C connection and the presence at Anime Con. This might be a trans-media project and not just a simple game announcement.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Trion Worlds Teases New Project

Trion Worlds, the studio behind the MMO Rift and the shooter Defiance, tweeted a link to mysterious web page today. We haven't heard much about its upcoming projects, so this could be our first taste of a new game from the developer.

The page doesn't reveal much beyond the image above, except the addition of the words: "In the shadows' dying light, let the devils guide our fight." The menacing figure and strange language sure have us curious about what to expect. For now, we'll just have to wait until Trion Worlds is ready to reveal more.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed