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Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X Takes The Stage On PS4 And Vita

It’s fair to say that Hatsune Miku represents a different branch of the rhythm/music genre than many in North America are accustomed to seeing. Rather than the distinctly American vibe of beat-matching we see in games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, Hatsune Miku dances and sings her way through poppy numbers wearing over-the-top outfits, representing some of the flamboyant and quirky elements that many players love to see in Japanese gaming. Today sees the release of Hatsune Miku’s newest game, and the trailer below gives you a good sense of what you can expect.

Project Diva X features more than 30 songs, mixing both new and returning tracks for Miku to dance through. This release also includes a Concert Editor that allows players to produce your own shows, with distinct outfits and songs. 

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X has arrived today on PlayStation 4 for $ 49.99, and Vita for $ 39.99. 

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EA’s Patrick Soderlund Discusses Project Scorpio, Nintendo, Fan Projects, And More

Gamescom kicks off today, and we spent time gearing up for the big show chatting with EA executive vice president Patrick Soderlund about a host of topics. You may have already seen that EA has reversed its stance on remasters, and is actively discussing jumping into the fray (possibly with Mass Effect games on the docket). We also discussed the changing face of the console market, fan projects, Mirror's Edge, and major changes to how players will experience the Battlefield franchise.

Having Faith in Mirror's Edge 

One of EA's tentpole titles for the year was also one of its riskiest. Mirror's Edge attained cult status last generation with a loyal, vocal fanbase that had been clamoring for more. Depending on who you ask, this year's prequel, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, either sprinted across the rooftops of success or plummeted to the streets below in failure. It was a polarizing game, but Soderlund is still happy with how things turned out.

"For us, if you look now that the game's been out for a while, reflecting on it, I still think it's really good that we decided to build it," he said. "I'm for the most part pleased with the game as it came out. I'm happy that we stayed true to the art direction and kept that, but kind of evolved it so that it looked and felt good. I think the city as it was designed was cool. I think it was a very ambitious project for many reasons. We got criticized a little bit for a weak story. It's difficult to tell a story in any medium. I think we also wanted to make the game open and more free-flowing than the first one was. At any point in time when you make any piece of entertainment, people give feedback and we have to listen. We have to listen to what people liked and what they were not so happy with and things that they outright rejected and learn from that."

Despite the somewhat tepid critical response, it's too early to count Mirror's Edge out. Soderlund says it's far to early to know what will happen to the franchise.

"[Are we] going to build another Mirror's Edge in the future? I don't know yet," he candidly told me. "We are early on in the lifetime of that game. We're going to have to look at this maybe seven or eight months from now with the lens of the brand itself, what fans said, and in my role, overall performance from a financial perspective. We have the responsibility to ourselves and our shareholders. It's a combination of many things. Frankly, I think most importantly it is what's the desire of the game team, and where do they want to take it or do something else. I've done this for so long now that without a passionate game team wanting to build something, you can't get a good product. We have a passionate development team that really wanted to build this. I think they gave it their all. Are there things that we would have done differently or changed? That's always the case."

Where Star Wars Business and Fandom Intersect

Earlier this year, a fan group called Frontwire Games stepped forward with a game similar to Star Wars Battlefront called Galaxy in Turmoil. After going public, the group quickly discovered that deciding to use iconic Star Wars locations and vehicles wasn't as simple has artists putting X-Wings into a game.

Lucasfilm stepped in and informed Frontwire that the nascent studio would not be permitted to use the Star Wars license. The result was that EA took heat for an alleged role in forcing the Galaxy in Turmoil team to move away from AT-ATs and Y-Wings.

The situation is far more complex than that, with EA having paid an undisclosed large sum to Lucasfilm parent Disney for exclusive rights to create core audience games based on Star Wars. While Soderlund had no involvement with the Frontwire situation, he did share his thoughts on fan projects and why this one couldn't continue.

"What I would say is that we've seen back in the day with Battlefield 1942, we had a bunch of mods that truly helped people become aware of Battlefield as a brand and associate a lot of good things with it," he said. "We saw the Desert Combat mod. We saw several World War II and even a World War I mod that we played and enjoyed. The community of people out there that are passionate about adding to something in existence is, in general, a good thing. I see no badness from that. That stems from passion and desire to build."

The difference here is that the fan project wasn't building on Battlefield, Need for Speed, Dragon's Age, or any other wholly owned EA property. It was based on one of the biggest franchises in the world.

"It's a lot easier for us to make decisions for brands that we fully own. When it comes to something as big and well-known as Star Wars, there are so many other parts that come into play," Soderlund explains. "What is considered canon? What can you do within the brand? It becomes very complicated. On top of that, between Disney and EA is a substantial business deal where one partner has paid the other a lot of money to gain exclusivity. Without knowing details of exactly what happened, that's kind of how I look at it in general."

Despite Frontwire having to shift gears and abandon the use of Star Wars assets, Soderlund believes there is an important place in the ecosystem for mods and iterative design. In fact, that is where he got his start.

"I grew up from that myself. We started building mods and ideas based on other games that were in the market," he said. "Battlefield 1942 came about because we were playing a lot of Doom at the time and said, 'This is cool, but wouldn't it be cool if you could be in this first-person view, but outside and in vehicles.' I totally get that, and this passion should not be chilled by any company."

Read on for Soderlund's thoughts on the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles coming soon.


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Intel is building its own standalone VR headset: Project Alloy

Intel is working on a standalone “merged reality” headset, Project Alloy, that will be compatible with Microsoft’s Windows Holographic platform. …


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PSA: Say Farewell To Project Spark Today

Project Spark, Microsoft’s game creation suite, says goodbye today. The game is being fully “sunset” and online services are being shut down and all user-generated content will be unretrievable.

Thankfully, no layoffs have resulted from the game’s closure. The game left active development last fall, and many of the people on the team were transitioned to other projects.

If you happened to purchase the digital starter kit or a retail copy between October 5, 2015, and May 12, 2016, you will receive credit on the Microsoft Store. For more on Project Spark, you can read our review and how the game gave Rare’s Conker another chance.

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Lost Soul Aside Is A One Man Project That Looks Like Ninja Gaiden And Final Fantasy XV

More and more it's less and less surprising to hear about small teams of developers making impressive, independent titles that are either self-released or crowdfunded. However, in the case of Lost Soul Aside, knowing only one guy is working on a project of this scale is pretty impressive.

The game, evocative of Final Fantasy, Ninja Gaiden, and the Devil May Cry series, is currently in development by Bing Yang. The industrial design student from Seoul, South Korea recently released a trailer for Lost Soul Aside, a project he has been working on for a "long time." Made with Unreal Engine 4, the game isn't a far cry from bigger budget, AAA titles, looking remarkably similar to the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Check the trailer out below.

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Since releasing the trailer, a lot of eyes have directed their gaze to Yang, including Sony and Epic Games. Both companies have shown interest in the game according to a post on Yang's Facebook. " I don't know if I can get their help but this really gives me more confidence to finish Lost Soul Aside," he writes. "So many kind [people] from all over the world [have contacted me]. I have no words, but thank you friends."

No release information has been given for Lost Soul Aside, including which platform it's being developed for. Yang says he is considering whether or not to launch a Kickstarter for it. To keep up with the game, you can follow Yang on Twitter.

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Science-Fiction Weekly – The Solus Project, Stranger Things, Star Wars: Episode VIII

Praise I continually give: I'm watching a new show on Netflix and it's great! From House of Cards to Daredevil to the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to smaller successes like Love, Netflix's original programming is on fire. The latest show to lure me into a binge-watching coma is Stranger Things, a science-fiction thriller that plays out like a mix between Goonies and The X-Files. Set in small town in Indiana in the 1980s, Stranger Things is one of those shows that you don't want to know anything about before you view it for yourself. Even Netflix's basic program summary gives away too much. Just watch it.

I'm five episodes in, and am thoroughly impressed with the writing, acting (even all of the child actors are great), and moments where it becomes unbearably intense. Stranger Things nabs this week's Golden Grok award (given to the best sci-fi entertainment each week), and is a welcome throwback to the star-gazing entertainment I loved as a child. No, it's not as light and bubbly as films like D.A.R.Y.L. or Flight of the Navigator, but it has a similar flow and pacing to these "classics," which are more about the characters and their place in the world than the science-fiction trappings that surrounds them. What's interesting is that the '80s sci-fi shows were designed with kids in mind, but Stranger Things, while delivering that same style of coming-of-age story, is darker and for the adults who watched those shows as kids.

The Solus Project, a science-fiction survival game from Grip Digital, could have benefited from that '80s love. Although the premise is strong – Earth no longer exists, and mankind has taken to the stars to locate a new planet to call home – there's no pulse to the alien world of the character you play. Lifeless planet meet lifeless human, good luck having fun together.

The Solus Projects' survival mechanics are nicely designed, but the hunt for water and food quickly becomes a rote process that has more to do with messy item management than fulling the need of your character. I love the idea of fighting for survival on a mysterious alien world, but the progression reveals are rarely shocking, the character hardly ever emotes, and well, if the game ended with a M. Night Shyamalan twist that showed I was actually exploring a park in North Dakato, I wouldn't be that surprised.

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If you are in the market for a good "mankind is screwed" story, check out Daniel Arenson's Earth Alone, a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. All you need to know: 50 years have passed since aliens destroyed Earth. It's now time for an army to fight back. The book goes places that I didn't expect, and Arenson does a great job of establishing characters that you want to see succeed. The great news: Arenson already has two sequels in the works. Here's hoping he writes faster than George R. R. Martin.

The other book you should put on your radar is Timothy Zahn's upcoming Star Wars: Thrawn. If you haven't read Zahn's Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy yet, do so now. It's no longer considered canon, but it remains one of the greatest Star Wars stories to date, and a big reason why centers on the character Grand Admiral Thrawn. We thought we'd never see him again after Disney blew up the expanded universe, but he's making his return in Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 this fall, and later in the novel I noted. How much of the original trilogy will be referenced? We'll have to wait to see, but in an interview with Star Wars' official site, Zahn says "Thrawn will span several years of the Star Wars timeline, beginning with his first encounter with the Empire and ending just before the opening of Rebels: Season 3." When asked if he would incorporate story content from the original Thrawn Trilogy, Zahn said he's thrown in bits and pieces, but nothing too blatant, which suggests the trilogy still isn't canon in any capacity. 

Although Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the primary focus at last weekend's Star Wars Celebration in London, Rian Johnson did take the stage to discuss Star Wars: Episode VIII. Johnson didn't go into too much detail about anything in the upcoming sequel, but did say that it starts right where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey handing the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker. Johnson said that his film dives deeper into the lives of the new characters and challenges them more, drawing inspiration from such films as Bridge on the River Kwai, and Gunga Din. John Boyega also revealed that his character Finn is not in a coma for the entirety of Episode VIII, although Johnson teased that he thought about keeping him in one.

Hasbro's annual "Vote for the Next Black Series Figure" poll is live on Star Wars' official site. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed's Starkiller is on the list! Given the weak competition he's against, you should probably cast a vote for him right now. The other options are Mara Jade (the only other second choice I will accept), Captain Rex (who is already getting a Black Series figure), Dengar, Darth Talon, and Jaina Solo. Do the right thing and give Starkiller the vote.

That's it for this week's Science-Fiction Weekly. I'll be back in seven days with a review of Star Trek Beyond, which opens this weekend, and perhaps even a write-up for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's extended cut. Calm down, Superman is an alien, so it's science fiction to a degree. Also, I'm morbidly curious about the 30 minutes of new footage. I hated (emphasize that word as much as you can) the original cut of the film, and just need to know if this new version makes it better or even worse.

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Epic’s Tim Sweeney has faith in Project Scorpio and Playstation Neo

The longtime Epic Games CEO says that these new consoles will solve old problems for game developers, though he still has concerns on how Microsoft will be approaching game development for Windows 10. …


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Q& A: From game jam project to Super SteamPuff

We got a chance to talk with team from Weyrdworks Studio about their iOS game, and the Kuala Lumpur indie scene. …


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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.

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Beyond the pitch: Getting your team engaged and excited about a game dev project

Game industry professionals weigh in on specific ways you can lead your team to success, in this continuation of the Games Outcomes Project. …


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