Long before George Lucas thought about retirement or selling his entertainment companies to Disney, he
DICE has shared an inside look at the sound design in its upcoming shooter Star Wars: Battlefront. In a detailed essay, audio director Ben Minto explains the challenges behind designing ambient sounds for several planets in the Star Wars universe. Places like Tatooine and Hoth, for example, each possess their own distinct ambiance.
For Hoth, Minto's team focused on wind. They traveled to multiple locations in Scandanavia, sampling frigid gusts from Sweden and Norway. When wind alone proved insufficient in creating an appropriate atmosphere, Minto recorded the howls of a wapiti elk, a creaking door thrown open by a storm, the inside of a cave underneath a frozen waterfall and more. For those interested, a somewhat finalized version of Hoth's ambience lies at the bottom of the article.
Tatooine, on the other hand, was less about weather and more about its inhabitants. Although Minto again recorded wind, the emphasis shifted to wildlife. In the near finished Tatooine ambiences after the article, animal sounds take center stage behind a quieter breeze.
Many of these sounds come from the locations where George Lucas filmed the Star Wars movies. While Minto appreciated visiting the original sites, he cares more about the opportunity to record in nature. "Being there in person," he states, "and experiencing those surroundings makes it easier when trying to recreate that feel in the studio."
Listen to the sound samples below. Hoth is on top, and Tatooine is on the bottom.
LeBron James is currently enjoying critical praise for his feature film debut in the Amy Schumer vehicle Trainwreck, and we could be seeing the superstar in more television and film projects soon. James entered into a partnership with Warner Bros. yesterday, including "an agreement covering projects in TV, film and original digital content" according to Variety.
On top of that, senior editor at Capital New York Alex Weprin tweeted an important reminder that could spell big news for both Warner Bros. and LeBron:
Warner Bros. filed new trademarks for "Space Jam" last month. Today announced deal with LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/WaZ33sXCsY
— Alex Weprin (@alexweprin) July 22, 2015
This could be one big coincidence, but the pieces are slowly aligning for Space Jam 2 starring LeBron James. Just remember that a new Jurassic Park, Terminator, and Star Wars film are releasing in the same year. Crazier things have happened.
Star Wars Battlefront is widely considered to be one of the most anticipated games of 2015. With that in mind, EA may have made one of the most compelling cases for picking up an EA Access subscription yet, as head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, confirmed that the shooter will be made available to EA Access subscribers on Xbox One before launch.
Players can pick up an EA Access subscription for $ 4.99 a month or $ 29.99 for the entire year. In addition to giving players the ability to play games from EA before launch, the subscription also grants a 10% discount on all digital purchases of EA games on Xbox One, as well as unlimited access to several games in EA's Vault. As of now, the service is exclusive to Xbox One.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 20, 2015
Star Wars Battlefront hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC for everyone on November 17. If you'd like to check out our impressions of the game from when we played it at E3, you can head to our preview here.
EA has continued to make its case for picking up a subscription to EA Access. While unlimited access to an ever-expanding library featuring titles like Titanfall and Dragon Age: Inquisition likely does a decent job of pushing people towards subscribing, it's opportunities like this one that have the most potential to bring in the real numbers. Even if it's only for a month, it would be surprising if the numbers of EA Access don't spike a little this holiday season.
Fresh off the World Cup win, deadly USWNT forward Alex Morgan becomes the first female to grace the cover of FIFA.
Each year EA Sports puts out regional covers to promote players from that territory, and this year Morgan was given the nod for the U.S. market. The former U.S. female athlete of the year and FIFA world player of the year finalist, Morgan has registered 52 goals in 91 caps for the United States during international play. Recovering from a knee injury in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup, she nonetheless earned her starting spot back in the last group match against Nigeria. She scored in a win against Columbia and drew two penalties in the knockout rounds.
“It is an incredible honor to be one of the first women featured on the cover of EA SPORTS FIFA,” Morgan said in a press statement. “I know people all over the world play this game and I’m really excited that FIFA 16 is putting such an important spotlight on women’s soccer. And now to share the cover with today’s greatest player is surreal.”
Morgan isn't the only woman gracing the cover of FIFA this year. Canada women's national team captain Christine Sinclair is appearing on the cover north of the border. The USWNT and Canada are two of 12 female international teams available to use in exhibition matches, offline tournaments, and online friendlies. FIFA 16 releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on September 22.
Our money was on World Cup hero Carli Lloyd landing the cover role, but we're glad to see it go to Alex Morgan as well. It's too bad EA Sports was only able to get 12 women's teams into the game this year, but here's hoping it can round out the field in subsequent years.
Star Wars: Aftermath won’t release until September 4, but you can find the prelude and first chapter online right now. The novel picks up right after the destruction of the second Death Star and explains exactly just what happens between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. It seems The Battle of Endor wasn’t the Empire’s last stand after all.
The excerpt was posted to publisher Penguin Random House’s website earlier, but has since been pulled. Thankfully, the chapters are still up on Star Wars' official website. You can read them in their entirety here.
Disney is hard at work to fill fans in on the events that occurred between the end of Return of the Jedi and the upcoming seventh film, The Force Awakens. In addition to this new novel, a mobile RPG called Star Wars Uprising is in the works that will take place in roughly the same timeframe.
Star Wars: Aftermath is written by Chuck Wendig and will release on September 4.
Star Citizen has lit up headlines for its impressive fundraising success since its Kickstarter campaign in 2012. Unfortunately, the projects is making waves now due to a conflict with a backer that led to developer Cloud Imperium Games canceling a pledge from one of its earliest supporters.
On November 19, 2012, Cloud Imperium Games celebrated the closing of its $ 2.1 million, 34,000 backer Kickstarter Campaign to fund Star Citizen. The project was pitched as a return to the heyday of space simulation games, and according to the original pitch, we should be playing it right now.
The “finished game” was promised for delivery in November 2014, but even before the Kickstarter campaign closed, Cloud Imperium and its leader Chris Roberts (of Wing Commander fame) had bigger ideas. The company had started raising money via its own website, pulling in over $ 3 million more during the campaign that was unaffiliated with Kickstarter.
Today, over 925,000 people have contributed more than $ 85 million to the project, which has exploded in scope. In addition to the single-player Squadron 42 campaign, the multiplayer Arena Commander modes, and a persistent universe, CIG is building a first-person shooter “module” for the game.
The company has rolled out a huge number of ships for purchase, with individual models (with access to the game) as low as $ 45. A “completionist” package that includes all ships designed and released for sale in 2014 plus a couple from 2015 will set you back $ 15,000. That includes 46 different ships (with some duplicates), and the game is still only in its alpha phase.
Recently, Roberts had to address the community regarding the months-overdue first-person module, Star Marine. At that time, he admitted the company had strayed from its pledge of open communication, rededicating itself to that mission.
About the same time, independent developer and Star Citizen Kickstarter backer Derek Smart started to raise concerns over the game’s “feature creep.” In a lengthy blog post, he lays out specific reasons for his frustration, including delays, key staff departures, allegations of nepotism, and a complete shift from the original pitch to a project that has become unrecognizable to the earliest backers.
Specifically, he states that the Hangar Module, the first piece of Star Citizen that was made available in August 2013, is simply a gallery for looking at ships that couldn’t be used. The current Arena Commander multiplayer module is allegedly “largely a broken mess,” and with the Star Marine FPS module indefinitely delayed, Smart asserts that there is, in fact, “no Star Citizen game.” Later, he calls the game "vaporware."
Smart suggests that the game that CIG has laid out in a roadmap does not resemble the original Kickstarter pitch and, with the growth of the scope, would cost in the neighborhood of $ 150 million to deliver. He is currently calling for an FTC investigation of Cloud Imperium Games to loosen the ability for unhappy backers to receive refunds.
“Some have also pointed out that, in my bid to get answers, that by exposing all this stuff, raising all these questions, prompting people to get the FTC involved etc, that I run the risk of outright killing the project,” Smart writes on his personal website. “My short form answer to that is this: if you are saying that the FTC going in there is going to lead to them finding something which would ultimately kill the project, how exactly is that my fault?”
While these allegations from a fellow developer are certainly worth considering, it’s what happened next that piqued our interest and spurred us to investigate the situation. Rather than engage Smart in a dialogue or simply ignore one of over 925,000 backers’ allegations, CIG took action.
Click to enlarge.
Smart received the email above, canceling and refunding his Kickstarter contribution and repossessing his in-game goods (via cancelation of his game account). We contacted Cloud Imperium for its response to these allegations and a statement on why it suddenly canceled Smart’s pledge. A representative sent us the following statement via email.
We refunded Mr. Smart’s package because he was using Star Citizen as a platform to gain attention as part of a campaign to promote his ‘Line of Defense’ space game. Our Terms of Service (or in this case, the Kickstarter ToS) allows us to refund troubled users who we would rather not have interacting with the community. The process lets us entirely disable their accounts, preventing them from playing the finished game. Think of it as the video game equivalent of a ‘we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone’ sign in a restaurant. We’ve used this ability a limited number of times in the past, always with the aim of improving the community.
That is not to say you can get your money back by simply being as obnoxious as possible; we’re also able to close accounts without requiring a refund. But sometimes we take a look at a user and decide that they’re so toxic or their intentions are so sinister that we simply don’t want them associated with Star Citizen.
As for refund requests working the other way: per the ToS, we’re not required to offer them. We do try and work with backers who are facing hardships, but the hard truth is that the money is by necessity being spent to develop a game rather than sitting unused somewhere (that being the significant difference with Steam; those refunds are taken out of their games’ profits rather than their development budgets.)
In the end, we reserve the right to close an account for any reason. In this case, Derek was causing distress to our staff and our community by generally using Star Citizen and his criticism of the game to attract attention to himself and his game.
That completely goes counter to the spirit of the relationship we have with our community and as such we don’t want him part of it. BTW, we haven’t asked him to take down his post or sent him any C&D. We haven’t asked other people to remove/edit/moderate their posts either. Derek is entitled to his opinion, we just don’t want Derek as a backer.
Smart vehemently denies CIG's assertion. "I have NEVER – EVER – posted there," he told us. "As in NEVER. Not even with an alias (I simply wouldn't do that)." CIG, however, cites Smart's blog and social media presence as the source of distress.
Smart also disputes CIG’s right to close his account and seize his in-game goods. “And on top of all this, they have pretty much given validation to the notion that, aside from all the hyperbole that some would say are evident in my articles, there is something that worries them in what I am writing in my articles,” Smart wrote in a post on the MMORPG.com forums. “Why else would they attempt to kick me out, or to silence me? What did I do ON RSI SYSTEMS that would warrant such an action? Here's the thing. It changes nothing. Them yanking my account, and items, doesn't change the fact that I owned them, they took them illegally, libeled me etc. amid my articles, and the flurry of press and discussions surrounding them.”
Smart says his concerns prompted a poll in the Star Citizen forums related to the CIG refund policy. Approximately 25 percent of the 1,173 respondents believe that the developer should now make refunds available to anyone who requests them. Based on CIG's statement to us, it does not seem that the developer will making sweeping changes to its refund policy.
Originally published July 15, 2015
With so much money on the line from nearly one million people, CIG is walking a tightrope. The scope of this project is enormous, and with no beta dates in sight (let alone a full release), I can understand why some backers are starting to lose faith. Whether Star Citizen ends up being a huge success or a monumental cautionary tale depends exclusively on CIG and how it executes and communicates moving forward.
During Hasbro's Star Wars Panel at the San Diego Comic-Con today, a small galaxy's worth of shiny new figures were announced. One of them is this nearly life-sized TIE fighter from Star Wars: Episode VII.
Black Series TIE pic.twitter.com/9mLanc9MNK
— Pete at #SDCC 2015 (@ThePeteAwakens) July 10, 2015
With a convenient human for scale, that TIE fighter looks pretty impressive. Here's an up-close glamour shot, complete with an "elite" TIE pilot and blaster pistol:
New Force FX lightsabers were announced as well, with "new tech and stands" according to the Star Wars live blog of the panel. Take a look:
On the next page, some surprise announcements about Hasbro's Black Series…
LucasFilm's Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel at San Diego Comic Con delivered everything but a new trailer for the upcoming film. Director J. J. Abrams said that they will release a new trailer this fall, and although he didn't have new footage ready to show to to the con's attendees, he didn't want to leave them empty handed. Seconds later, the lights dimmed, and over three minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from Force Awakens played, showing many familiar faces, and some new ones we didn't expect to see in this movie.
After the footage concluded, almost every key cast member from the film came out on stage to talk about Star Wars and answer fan questions. The lineup included Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. At the end of the panel, the thousands of people in the auditorium were invited to a surprise live Star Wars concert. Sounds like a damn good time.
You can check out the behind-the-scenes footage below.
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Almost every piece of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise cannot be sold until September 4 (also known as "Force Friday"). Toy site Yakface reports that LucasFilm has apparently made an exception with Hasbro.
The toy manufacturer started selling its 6" Black Series First Order stormtrooper this week at San Diego Comic Con. If you aren't attending the show, this prized collectible goes on sale on July 28 on Hasbro's online store. We don't yet know if this action figure is limited in quantities, so make a note on your calendars to check Hasbro's site on this day. The stormtrooper is selling for $ 24.99 at the con.