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Microsoft makes Project Spark game creation tool free-to-all

Refunds to come for recently purchased content as its “incubation engine,” which allows players to create their own games, is made free. …

Gamasutra News

Project Spark Is Going Fully Free Starting Next Week

Microsoft has announced that its game creation toolset, Project Spark, will move from its microtransaction model to a new free, open creation model starting on October 5. Because of this, new and existing users of the game will be able to access previously paid DLC.

In addition to the move to free, Skybox Labs and Team Dakota's Project Spark is receiving an update on that same day to add new features. The changes include big boosts in the maximum terrain and maximum prop limit, over 200 new assets, a push to 100 total upload slots for each creator, and the removal of the Project Spark Marketplace, as well as the Project Spark Tour and Treasure Trove. The team has also revamped the achievements to cater more towards players and creators, and has changed the UGC ranking system to be based on downloads and favorites instead of up-votes and down-votes.

With the transition to a fully free model, those who have already spent money on Project Spark will be entitled to Microsoft Store credit equal to how much money they spent. The credit will be applied to accounts 30 to 60 days following October 5. Project Spark originally released last year to mixed reviews. If you’d like to learn more about what we thought of the creation tools, you can check out Kyle Hilliard’s review here.

[Source: Xbox Wire]

Our Take
Project Spark hasn't been on a lot of people's radars for quite some time. With Super Mario Maker reigniting a lot of players' interest in level creation tool, this is probably a smart move for the experimental creation tools. – The Feed

Fire Emblem Joins The Cast Of Project X Zone 2

I guess we can add Nintendo to the Sega, Capcom, and Bandai Namco mash-up strategy game.

Confirmed for release in North America back in April, Project X Zone 2 keeps adding unexpected cameos to its roster. Despite the impressive and disparate cast of characters from myriad franchises, Nintendo characters were unexpected, but the game is a 3DS exclusive after all. In the trailer below you will see Lucina and Chrom from Fire Emblem join the fray. I can't imagine we will see characters like Mario, Samus, or Link appear, but who knows? Maybe this Fire Emblem crossover will open the floodgates.

Project X Zone 2 arrives in North America on 3DS before the end of the year.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

I got my hands on Project X Zone 2 at E3 and used Mega Man X and Zero to take out Sigma. You can read about my experience here. You can read our review of the original Project X Zone here.

[Source: Bandai Namco Japan on YouTube, via Kotaku] – The Feed

Sony’s Project Morpheus has a new name

Sony’s virtual reality head-mounted display has been given a new name, with the company revealing that Project Morpheus will now simply be known as PlayStation VR. …

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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:, @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. – 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. – 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, 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:, 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. – 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. – 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. – The Feed