Make Something Unreal winner Michael Levall explores the difference between leading a project and being the stakeholder of its vision — sharing strategies for keeping a small team running effectively. …
Unity Technologies, creators of the multi-platform Unity engine and its tools, is making its mobile tools free to indies and small studios starting today, taking tools that cost around $ 800 and making them free. Unity currently supports Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, with support for BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 to be added at no additional cost in the future.
“Mobile games development is possibly the most dynamic and exciting industry in the world, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many developers be so successful in fulfilling their visions and in building their businesses,” said Unity CEO David Helgason. “We were able to make Unity free for the web and for desktop computers a while ago, but have been dreaming of doing the same for mobile for what seems like forever.”
To contextualize this, Unity is already a beast in the mobile field in terms of market share and developer relations. The company just opened the flood gates further.
Harmonix laid off a handful of employees today, a spokesperson told Polygon.
“We can confirm that a small number of Harmonix employees were let go today,” the spokesperson said. “This decision was made due to shifting staffing priorities for Harmonix’s multiple future projects.”
In March, Harmonix secured investment from venture capital firm The Foundry Group, which confirmed Harmonix was working on three new games using variations of player input, beyond standard keyboard and mouse controls. This month Harmonix snagged BioShock 2 lead designer Zak McClendon as a design director, superannuation cited today from McClendon’s LinkenIn profile.
And indeed, the system itself proves very small. You can get an idea of its tininess in our gallery, in which it’s placed next to other consoles for reference. If I’m dwelling on the impressively diminutive size of the Wii Mini, it’s because I don’t have anything else good to say about the console.
Gallery: Wii Mini (1/14/12)
Wreck-It Ralph made a splash last year, garnering adoration from gamers and non-gamers alike. Now you can finally see Ralph try to break from his bad guy persona without going to a movie theater. Disney announced today release dates for digital and physical copies of the film.
In an interesting twist, starting February 12, you can own a high definition digital copy in both 2D and 3D. Those who still want physical releases have to a wait a bit longer, until March 5. These sets include a 4-disc Blu-ray combo pack, 2-disc combo pack, DVD, SD digital, and on-demand release.
Will you pick up Wreck-It Ralph?
The Lego community is filled with boundless creativity. Fortunately for us, there's also a healthy cross-section of builders who happen to be interested in gaming. Here's another creation that leaves us simultaneously impressed and depressed. Impressed because, well, look at it. And depressed because there's no chance that we'll approach this kind of brick-building prowess.
Flikr user Pate-keetong has posted a few images of his creation on his photostream, as well as a few other creations inspired by Metroid, the Hobbit, and more. As the Big Daddy indicates, it's all high-quality stuff. OK, now we're inspired again. Whew.
[Via the Brothers Brick]
If you logged online early enough today, you could have sent death threats to your friends on Facebook, courtesy of Square Enix and Agent 47 with the “Hire Hitman” app. Not only were these death threats, but they were full-on hits, with the targeted Facebook friend going through a process that flashed pictures from their profiles in front of their eyes before they were killed. To top it off, the hits were identified by awkwardly specific reasons such as “her ginger hair, her muffin top, her hairy legs,” or “her small tits.”
Yes, this was a real thing you could do this morning. Square Enix since removed the app, not long after launching it and just after Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote about it. We can’t imagine why, though Square sent over a statement that cleared it up nicely:
“Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends. Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends. We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we’ve now done. We’re sorry for any offence caused by this.”
This attempt at crude viral marketing is reminiscent of other hackneyed ads, such as Resident Evil 6‘s human butcher, Resident Evil 5‘s real-world severed-limb hunt, the brass knuckles EA sent us and quickly requested back for Godfather 2, or The Walking Dead FPS’ necklace of human ears. Rockstar similarly caved under pressure with Bully in the UK, changing the name to Canis Canem Edit after a maelstrom of hyperbolic public attention labeled the game a “Columbine simulator.”
If you want to experience the Hire Hitman app – too bad, because it’s gone. Take This Lollipop, however, is still live on Facebook and uses the same premise, though it doesn’t allow users to engage in name-calling, bigotry, death threats or misogyny.
If you sign into Xbox Live today, you will have to take part in a small but mandatory update that fixes a few bugs with the operating system. The news comes from Xbox Live's Major Nelson, who offers a few details on what exactly is getting updated (or has been updated if you're already signed in) below.
"In this update, we are correcting some issues such as displaying the incorrect playlist name when launching a playlist from Xbox SmartGlass to the console, an error with Xbox Video closed-captioning and an error with Xbox Music that some were experiencing."
Hollywood Monsters, known in the US as the 2011 PC game The Next Big Thing, is coming to iOS devices on December 6. Developer Pendulo Studios recently launched Yesterday on the App Store and must have liked how that whole deal went down.
Hollywood Monsters chronicles a 1940s Hollywood your grandparents never knew, where all the monsters in horror movies are real and have acting careers spanning kids’ movies to romantic comedies. Liz Allaire and Dan Murray get tangled up with these beasts and enter a mysterious adventure to rival any dinner theater. Break out the iPad at a holiday meal and have grandma play a few levels – maybe she’ll remember the good ol’ days just the same.
When an Activision game is successful, a sequel is likely to follow
in the next year. Activision transformed Call of Duty into a
multimillion selling annual event, but exploited the Guitar Hero and
Tony Hawk series until they reached bargain bin status. Skylanders
appears to be the publisher’s next perennial cash cow.
store shelves just a year after the release of Skylanders: Spyro’s
Adventure, Skylanders Giants follows its predecessor’s blueprint. As
such, the Skylands are once again filled with block-moving puzzles,
collectible hats, pushable turtles, breakable crates filled with gems,
an annoying green creature that lives inside of locks, doors requiring
multiple keys, character tokens that unlock videos of purchasable
figurines, element-specific secret zones, and boss fights against shadow
versions of many of the popular Skylanders characters. Since Spyro’s
Adventure covered the gamut of standard world types – be it fire, snow,
or haunted village – most of Giants’ level designs retread these themes.
It’s the same song and dance.
And that’s okay. If this were the
fourth or fifth entry in the series, its charm may have worn off, but I
had a blast playing this game even if it is painfully familiar most of
The biggest difference between the two entries is the
addition of new Giant characters. These lumbering titans stand in at
roughly twice the height of standard Skylanders, and can be summoned to
lift boulders, smash through weak floorboards, run through walls, and
pull gigantic chains. On the battlefield, they punch harder and move a
little slower, but fit right in with the other Skylanders’ assortment of
short-and long-range attack strategies.
When it comes to world
exploration, the Giants are a little too slow, and are tight squeezes on
narrow paths. As I looked for secrets, I would switch these sloths out
for the faster dragon characters, but used them as much as I could in
large-scale conflicts or against approaching swarms. The Giants are
particularly useful in the new Arena challenges, which pit one Skylander
against numerous waves of foes.
Think of the Giants as a ninth
class, joining the likes of Earth, Fire, and Undead. Although each Giant
is aligned to one of those specific traits, only the fact that they are
Giants matters in determining which areas they can enter. You won’t
need a Water Giant or a Tech Giant at any specific point; one Giant
(like Tree Rex, who is packaged with the game) is enough to uncover all
of the hidden areas.
All 32 previously released Skylanders
figurines work with this sequel, and can attain five additional levels
to reach the new cap of 15. These levels pass slowly, allowing players
to keep their favorite characters in play for a majority of the time.
New difficulty settings up the challenge for seasoned players, but even
Hard is a little easy. You unlock the most difficult setting, Nightmare,
after completing the game.
Two unexpected joys came from Giants.
One: The story. I didn’t much care for the cinematics in Spyro’s
Adventure, but laughed frequently at the nicely penned humor in Giants.
Most of the jokes are tied to Lord Kaos, his bid for power, and his
loveable butler Glumshanks. My second unexpected joy was a new
collectible card game. In most of the levels, you obtain new cards by
purchasing them from vendors or beating rival card players in matches. I
always like it when games put a collectible item like these cards to
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Although Skylanders characters are rarely asked to leave
their feet, these games remind me of the great Insomniac Games and
Naughty Dog platformers from the PlayStation 1 and 2 eras. I wouldn’t
necessarily categorize them as collect-a-thons, but the hunt for hidden
loot is one of this series’ strongest elements, not to mention the
thrill of racing through levels to hit a par time. Although Skylanders’
gameplay more closely matches the hack n’ slash genre, the spirit of the
long-lost platformer is alive and well here.
Pending a retail
disaster this year, I suspect another Skylanders sequel is already in
development and slated for release next holiday. Giants makes a good
case for the fun and collectibility of this series, but also raises the
warning flag for franchise fatigue.