Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Team Ninja’s Nioh Looks Like Non-Stop Action

We might not entirely be sure how to pronounce it, but Team Ninja's newest action game looks reminiscent of the Dark Souls series. Thankfully, this hard-core action game is set to hit PS4s on February 7.

Players must embrace the way of the samurai as they enter a vast land ravaged by civil war and battle their way through humans and demons alike. Check out the trailer for this action game that has be in development since 2004.

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The Last Guardian’s Composer On Living Up To Team Ico’s Legacy

The Last Guardian's delays have almost always eclipsed the game itself. But it is indeed a real PlayStation 4 game now, created over many years by many people.

Takeshi Furukawa was one of those people. He's The Last Guardian's composer and the conductor for the game's orchestrated score. Furukawa composed music for television shows such as Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Trek: Enterprise, and more.

We recently had a chat with Furukawa via email where he gave us his impressions of Team Ico's past work, when he joined The Last Guardian, and some of the philosophies behind composing the game's score, which you can pre-order on vinyl here

How would you describe the music for The Last Guardian? Was there a specific theme or mood that you wanted to evoke?

Takeshi Furukawa: The music for The Last Guardian is best described as a traditional orchestral fantasy score. While the focus of the game is the intimate and emotional bond between the boy and Trico, the music in contrast aspires to highlight the cinematic grandeur of the epic narrative and majestic locale. The beautiful visuals on screen, characterized by vivid colors and soft light served as key inspiration for the music. To complement such quasi-Impressionist aesthetics quintessential in Ueda-san’s works, the score employs a timeless tonal palette of orchestra, choir, and piano, reminiscent of the stirring adventure soundtracks from my own childhood. It is my hope that this score delivers the same sense of wonder and excitement I myself experienced as a child through my favorite games and films.

Have you played  Ico or Shadow of the Colossus? Did you take any inspiration or cues from the music in those games?

Yes, of course! As a life-long enthusiast of video games, I have long admired both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for their beautiful art direction and unique music. Inheriting the legacy of Ōshima-san and Ōtani-san was at the same time a tremendous honor and a nerve-wracking experience. Both games have seminal soundtracks, each with their respective identity, so to likewise create something unique for The Last Guardian felt like a herculean task. To this end, I felt it best to start with a completely blank canvas, neither being conscious of nor deliberately avoiding the heritage of the previous scores. Ultimately, I was true to my instincts and wrote music reflective of my sensibilities without worrying about the opinions and expectations of others.

When did you officially sign on to compose the music? How has the music changed since you joined?

I was officially invited to join the project about five years ago. However, due to the delay caused by the platform switch to PS4, my composing efforts started in earnest about two years thereafter. I’ve been told that they held several rounds of searches with a number of candidates considered. As I was not privy to the music production details prior to my involvement, [Sony Music Publishing’s Tommy Kikuchi] was kind enough to weigh in on this.

During the early production phase of The Last Guardian, the team was focused on experimenting with gameplay mechanics. Temp music (music borrowed from existing works as placeholder) was used for both in-game development and trailers released to the public. All the while, I was tasked to search for a composer, as there was no question that The Last Guardian’s score needed a unique and original voice. We auditioned many candidates and presented them to Ueda-san, with Takeshi’s music being chosen. In this regard, nothing changed when Takeshi came onboard; rather, this was the starting point for the music. – Tommy Kikuchi


Did the development team have any requests for the music?

Ueda-san and Ito-san (Tsubasa Ito, the audio lead with whom I most frequently interfaced) envisioned The Last Guardian’s score to be free from restrictions burdened by conventional video game scores. Game composers generally need to be mindful to render the music adaptable in a non-linear fashion, a constraint that sometimes impedes with its pure musicality. However, for The Last Guardian, I was given carte blanche to simply focus on writing good music, with the technicalities of integrating the score fearlessly burdened by Ito-san. Furthermore, Ueda-san wanted the score to inherit Western sensibilities rather than subscribing to the idiosyncratic musical tastes popular in Japan. His feedback was always broad and conceptual, never micro-managing, and thus accorded me much freedom concerning the actual musical details. As we all shared the same artistic sensibilities, nothing throughout our collaborative process felt forced or inherently mismatched. I truly enjoyed every moment working with the development team.

Does the protagonist have his own theme? What about Trico? And do their themes ever blend together?

Yes, absolutely! Customary to my approach working on symphonic scores, my first step was to draft several themes to serve as the foundation. The thematic identities are all melodic, instead of specific instruments, and as such make recurring appearances in various forms throughout the score. The boy and Trico’s themes don’t interleave, as I wasn’t as concerned with the more academic, for the lack of a better word, aspects of composition. Instead, I simply aspired to write melodies that resonate emotionally and is hopefully memorable.

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How has your past work affected the instrumentation in the compositions of The Last Guardian?

My experience influences me to favor the natural sound of the orchestra, instead of one that is artificially produced and manipulated. Other composers have conceived and utilized the orchestra as one of many elements in synth hybrid compositions to great effect and success. In contrast, I think of the orchestra as a self-contained unit, and even prefer recording everybody together, rather than the separate sections discreetly, as it results in a more cohesive ensemble. I believe a symphonic score like The Last Guardian definitely benefited from this traditional approach, as it gives the music a distinct and symphonic color not often encountered elsewhere.

You've said that composing for this game has been a “subtractive process.” Why is this your chosen route for The Last Guardian and how does it benefit the game and soundtrack?

As a subscriber to "less is more" and "just because you can, doesn’t mean you should," I strive for simplicity and clarity in my music. Nowhere else did this feel more appropriate than on The Last Guardian, as Ueda-san also is an advocate of refined and minimalist aesthetics. It has been said that people can only digest a limited number of simultaneous visual and sonic elements, with anything beyond becoming noise. I therefore was extremely careful not to disrupt the serenity of The Last Guardian’s aural world. This isn’t to say that I was pedantically counting the number of notes, but rather always being mindful of arbitrarily adding anything superfluous. A simpler presentation always delivers a stronger message, and draws a deeper emotional reaction from the audience. I believe it was Debussy who likewise said, “music is the space between the notes”.

What video game soundtracks have you liked in the past?

Some of my favorite video game soundtracks are naturally those that I grew up listening to such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy V. Besides their contribution to hours of my childhood bliss, as a composer I appreciate their musical effectiveness despite the limitations faced at the time. More recently, I thought the score for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture was absolutely stunning.

For more on The Last Guardian, check out our interview with the director, Fumito Ueda, hereHead here for some of our hands-on impressions, and here to see us play through the game’s TGS 2016 demo. You can also watch us play Shadow of the Colossus in its entirety here. The Last Guardian releases on December 6 for PlayStation 4.

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Alleged FIFA Ultimate Team Coin Hackers Go On Trial

Alleged FIFA Ultimate Team coin hacker Anthony J. Clark and his associates go on jury trial today for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Clark and others are charged with hacking EA's servers in order to steal FUT coins and sell them to third-party coin marketplaces.

The indictment (an excerpt of which you can read below) charges that Clark and others created an app that sent electronic messages representing thousands of matches to EA's servers, which then credited multiple accounts with FUT coins. These coins were then sold on unauthorized coin re-selling sites in places like the U.K. and China.

The government seeks the forfeiture of millions garnered in the illegal activity, including vehicles and property.

[Source: Kotaku, U.S. District Court of Northern Texas, PACER Court documents]

 

Our Take
The overarching problem with illegal third-party coin selling is that has the sum effect of skewing the pre-meditated balance of the game, distorting the in-game transfer market, and therefore affecting the competition in the mode. For more on the subject, including a look from various vantage points, I suggest you read some articles at FUThead.


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Square Enix and Machine Zone team up for Final Fantasy XV mobile MMO

Square Enix and U.S. mobile game dev Machine Zone (best known for Game of War: Fire Age) will collaborate on a massively-multiplayer Final Fantasy XV online game for mobile devices. …


Gamasutra News

DeepMind and Blizzard team up to release API aimed at AI enhancement

What’s next for Google’s DeepMind AI system after mastering Atari 2600 games and defeating expert level Go players? The APM-driven and sometimes chaotic multiplayer of StarCraft II. …


Gamasutra News

Watch Felicity Jones Rally Her Team In Star Wars Rogue One TV Spot

"The Empire is building a terrible weapon. I need your help."

A new TV spot teaser for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was revealed today, putting focus on Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, forming and rallying the team to fight the Empire. You can watch the short 30 second trailer for the film below.

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Rogue One will tell the story of Jyn, who was recruited by the Rebel Alliance and attempts to steal plans of the Death Star. Alongside Felicity Jones, the movie also features Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, and more.

Rogue One releases in theaters on December 16. For more on Star Wars, read about the Scarif DLC coming to Star Wars Battlefront next month.

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Boston devs team up to sell game bundles for child cancer charity

Instead of the typical customer-defined percentage, a flat 60 percent of all proceeds from sales of the bundle will be funneled to the children’s cancer charity St. Baldrick’s Foundation. …


Gamasutra News

Latest Halloween Update For Team Fortress 2 Adds New Maps, Revives Old Ones

Almost ten years later, Valve is still adding new content and events to Team Fortress 2.

This year's "Scream Fortress VIII" Halloween event will see the introduction of three new community-build maps (Brimstone, Pit of Death, and Maple Ridge Event), two taunts, and a crate filled with twenty-one new cosmetic items. During the event, any "unusual" rarity items that drop from the crates will have a Halloween visual effect on them, and the chances for these unusual items to drop has doubled for the duration of the event.

The update also brings with it a number of returning features. All maps from previous Scream Fortress events are currently playable, and the contracts from the previous Scream Fortress return, along with some new one contracts.

The update is available now on PC.

[Source: Official Valve blog]

 

Our Take
I love that Valve is still supporting Team Fortress 2 with events like this. That it's kept up a community like this for almost a decade is impressive. Also, not to be a downer, but where's Dota 2's Halloween event? 

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Esports Outfit Team Liquid Signs Pro Civilization VI Player

Most of us probably don't think of the Civilization series as a hyper-competitive game. In fact, we may think of it as the exact opposite: a calming, methodical game valuing decision-making over twitch reflex.

As it turns out, competitive Civilization has been around for a while, and as a marker of the game's success, eSports outfit Team Liquid has signed its first professional Civilization VI player, Stephen 'MrGameTheory' Takowsky. Takowsky has become a household name in high-level Civilization, earning the #1 spot on multiple Civilization V leaderboards.

On its announcement website, Team Liquid offers a brief primer on the world of high-level Civilization play, laying out what it takes to compete. "More than any other game, Civilization's turn-based format demands efficiency at all levels," the site says. "Unlike games that cap players based on their mechanics, Civilization taxes a person's decision making and ability to thrive under pressure." Team Liquid hopes to eventually sign a whole Civilization team, with Takowsky as its captain.

Team Liquid is also launching a Civilization VI tournament to coincide with their announcement. While you wait for Game Informer's full review, read Kimberly Wallace's preview of Civilization VI.

[Source: Team Liquid via PvPLive]

 

Our Take
Yeah, okay, I get it – you're skeptical. So am I. But most pro gaming scenes don't take off unless there's a concerted effort to build a scene where there wasn't one before. We take our current established eSports for granted because they've been around for so long, but even those had to build their presence. I can't say the idea of watching people play Civ for hours on end appeals to me, but the series seems popular enough that maybe someone else might. If nothing else, it'll be interesting to keep an eye on how the pro Civ scene (yep, still feels a bit weird to type that) develops.

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Why Ubisoft Trusted The Rocksmith Team With South Park

Fans of Obsidian's South Park: The Stick of Truth might have been surprised to hear that the television show's next RPG is being made by Ubisoft San Francisco, the developers behind the music-rhythm game Rocksmith. While visiting the studio for our November cover story on South Park: The Fractured But Whole, we spoke with senior producer Jason Schroeder and director of design Paul Cross about how the team went from third-party consultants on Ubisoft-published games to tackling an ambitious RPG alongside Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Watch the video below to learn more about the studio behind the new game and what the future holds for potential future South Park games.

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