Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Building thousands of tiny interactions into Hidden Folks

“We were overwhelmed by this desire for everything to be interactive. It took us maybe a whole year to understand how we could shape the game in a way that that no longer was a problem.” …


Gamasutra News

Resident Evil 7 Biohazard’s Collector’s Edition Includes Tiny House, USB Finger

Over the years, collector's editions have been responsible for a number of a strange gaming tchotchkes. Thanks to the newly-unveiled Resident Evil 7 Biohazard collector's edition, you can add a house to the list.

Technically, the house is a music box, and it plays a sample of the song "Go Tell Aunt Rhody," a cover of which is the game's main theme. The house stands 8 inches tall and includes flashing LED lights.

Along with the house music box and the actual game, the collector's edition (which is only available through GameStop), also includes:

  • Dummy Finger 4G USB Drive
  • Exclusive Metal Case
  • VHS Tape Box
  • Exclusive Lithograph
  • Creepy Note

The whole thing retails for $ 179.99.

[Source: GameStop]

[Full Disclosure: GameStop is Game Informer's parent company.]

 

Our Take
The house is a nice little curio, I guess, but for $ 180? No thanks. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Monster Hunter Generations Review – Tiny Tweaks And Massive Beasts

You’re out of potions, your weapon is worn down to a blunted toothpick, and poison is ticking at your depleted health. You attempt a last-ditch effort, running up the snowy mountaintop and diving into the massive mammoth with a smashing combination assault that you finish off with a flourish, changing into a powerful hunter-art skill with enough power to slay the beast and finish the quest. The prolonged encounter taxed you and your abilities, but the defiant, exhilarating victory is made even sweeter by harvesting the monster for resources. The next fight will be that much easier as you upgrade your arsenal with shells, bones, and claws. 

Big battles are the essence of Monster Hunter Generations, a thriving loop of material acquisition, weapon enhancement and customization, and thrilling boss encounters. Sticking with the systems until you learn the delicate balance between timing and attack, and exploring combos (even using the new hunter arts to cap off or begin a combo) is rewarding. Players who don’t give up during their first bouts with challenging monsters will enjoy an addictive cycle of exploration and customization, as new weapons, new armor, and new zones to explore.

Those familiar with the Monster Hunter franchise will feel right at home in Generations, which adds a bevy of new options and tweaks to traditional elements. Players select from 14 main weapons, choose a hunter style and can master various hunter arts – special moves that need to be charged up before execution in battle. Along with a more robust Palico companion system and a ton of nostalgia-laden villages and environments to explore, these new options make this one of the most content-rich offerings in the entire franchise. The additions don’t substantially change the gameplay, but they are especially compelling for veteran players that want to show off their skills with some of the incredibly precise hunter styles.

When you become skilled with one weapon type, you have plenty of different ways to play with it, with styles and arts that facilitate beginners and masters. The difference between how weapons work is immense; it isn’t a simple “a sword is faster than a hammer” distinction. Each weapon has a signature playstyle that features different abilities, related support items, and techniques. This adds a lot to the longevity of the game, especially if you’ve played previous titles with one or two weapons and want experience something new. I decided to leave the heavy bow gun (my old standby) behind in favor of hammers and longswords, and had a blast learning a completely different way to play.

That said, while the beginning difficulty level for the default hunter style may be the most welcoming and accessible option for the series to date, the game continues the trend of carefully meted, deliberate, and fast-paced combat. Battles are not dumbed down, especially late in the game, allowing players to go up against altered versions of monsters with new movesets and attack patterns. These more unpredictable encounters are enough to challenge even the most seasoned hunter.

Robust upgrade systems give the player an excellent amount of control in carefully selecting decorations (think of them like socketed gems that confer bonuses) to create the perfect hunter. I enjoyed preparing a few different sets to handle any situation, like earplugs to resist the deadly roars of beasts, and an herb-focused set to get the most from munching on local flora. 

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Especially for Monster Hunters who prefer to go it alone, the Palico system is perfect for providing the player with proficient cat companions that can be tailored and customized from core templates like bombers, healers, fighters, and more. You send your extra Palicoes out on missions while you quest, and they bring back extra resources for you to craft with, outfit them with powerful weapons and armor, and even have them teach each other abilities to create the ultimate assistants. The Palico system is the best it has ever been, giving the solo hunter more competent and more customizable companions than previous entries. For those who enjoy hunting in a group online, that gameplay remains one of the strongest hooks in the series, as nothing beats joining up with friends or random players and taking a behemoth to task as a unified (or chaotic, depending on the group) force.

For the first time ever, you can also play as a Palico. Controlling Palicoes may appeal to some, but it feels like a superficial addition solely for the sake of having something new to tout. I didn’t care for Palico gameplay, which is unique in that it offers unlimited stamina, “nine lives,” special moves and no consumables, but it functions fine as a cute option for hunters who want to go beyond traditional choices and are looking for something completely different.

Whatever your playstyle, you eventually hit the deep endgame to try and collect the best gear from deviant monsters, challenging encounters that have different abilities that the hunter won’t be ready for. Players can easily spend most of their time with Monster Hunter Generations at the endgame, hunting down the best of the best armor and weapons while tackling ferocious beasts.

While Monster Hunter can be distilled down into a basic loop of hunt, gather, upgrade, micromanage inventory and Palico perks, rinse and repeat, the process is quite satisfying as the “boss barrage” continues to serve up interesting encounters across snowfields, volcanos, and lush islands.  Monster Hunter Generations offers some minor new tweaks to the franchise, but keeps the core completely intact, an easy winner for series veterans and the best point of entry for a new player looking to cut their teeth on some challenging creatures.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Tips for making a quality game on a tiny budget

“As I’m developing my first commercial game on my own, I don’t promise to have all the answers — but I’ve gathered some advice that might help you!” …


Gamasutra News

Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash Review – Nintendo’s Tiny Utility Player Keeps Plugging Away

Poor Chibi-Robo. The little mechanical helper has scooted
from 3D platformer to garden sim to augmented reality, with the only consistent
part of his life being his inability to fully get a handle on career stability.
Whether Chibi-Robo’s scattershot approach or tiny mechanical claws are to
blame, one thing’s certain: This hero needs a jolt of something. With Zip Lash,
developer Skip Ltd. is yet again trying something different. Now Chibi-Robo is
using his extension cord to whirl through 2.5D worlds, and hopefully plug into
what audiences are looking for. I’m not entirely convinced he’s found solid
footing here, but I’m glad to see the little guy again.

Chibi-Robo’s cord is a versatile little apparatus, allowing
him to pick up distant objects or latch onto special panels, grappling-hook
style. Press a button, and he whips it forward or above him at a 45-degree
angle. Hold down another button, and he uses a charged line – the titular Zip
Lash – which can be aimed more precisely. Chibi may only be a few inches tall,
but collecting balls that are scattered throughout the levels adds more slack
to his line. Max it out, and you have a line that bounces off walls, careening
down tunnels in a nifty zig-zag effect, smashing enemies and sucking up any
collectibles that cross its winding path. There’s a nice balance between the
two moves, and dialing in the perfect bank shot can be tense, particularly in
auto-scrolling sections or when an unstoppable enemy is bearing down on you.

On a surface level, it’s reminiscent of Capcom’s old game
Bionic Commando, though Chibi is otherwise unarmed and he’s able to jump. Even
without a machine gun, enemies don’t stand much of a chance when they’re
knocked in their mechanical noggins with Chibi’s plug. They’re part of an alien
invasion force, though I don’t think humanity has much to worry about
considering their size and their habit of moving in simple, predictable
patterns.

Chibi is fun to control, and I had a great time using his
plug attack. Unfortunately, he’s the star of a fairly uninspired show. The
levels are either cleanly designed or simply plain, depending on how charitably
you want to describe them. One of the most compelling things about the
character is his height, and how it affects his perspective on the world; when
you’re that small, getting onto a couch is a challenge. That’s something that’s
not ever explored in any interesting way, which is a waste. Aside from seeing
how big he is next to a sardine tin or soda can, I never got a sense of his
role in the world or how he stacks up. Levels are so abstracted that scale
isn’t communicated effectively.

Aside from one notable exception, levels are also quite linear.
Chibi needs to collect a variety of objects along his journey, so exploration
is clearly part of the game. Unfortunately, secrets are so obviously
telegraphed that they don’t qualify as being secret. If you see a gap in the ceiling,
I can say with certainty that you will find something if you fire your Zip Lash
up. Walk to the left of your starting position, and you will find something in
about 75 percent of the stages. The only reason I wasn’t able to find
everything the first run through was because one variety of collectible only
appears after a level is completed.

Chibi doesn’t just grab things to make his cord longer. He
can find Robo-Tots, which return from Photo Finder. These tiny guys are super
cute, but they can be hard to grab, thanks to their habit of running away.
Chibi can also pick up trash, which is used in his home base’s generator and
converted into watts to keep Chibi’s batteries topped off. You can also find a
host of real-world snacks, including Tootsie Pops, Pocky, and Mentos. Chibi can
give these to special friends who are seeking specific foods, and players get
what amounts to a sales pitch as a reward. It’s kind of funny and weird, and
it’s interesting to learn about snacks from around the world if you’re into
that sort of thing.

Players are strong armed into replaying levels thanks to one
of the weirdest level-select systems I can recall. Each of the six worlds is
split into six stages, which are arranged in a loop. Complete a stage, and you
get to spin a spinner, which tells you how many spaces you need to move on the
loop. If things go well, you spin a one and proceed to the next stage. Mess up,
and you have to replay stages until the numbers align in your favor. Since the
stages are designed to be played in a fairly methodical style, you can’t zip
through a stage – even a familiar one – in 30 seconds. You can use in-game
currency to “buy” the numbers you want on the spinner, which only reinforced my
thought that it’s not a super-great idea.

And woe to those who are forced to replay the stages that
are based on Chibi’s vehicles. He has access to a variety of rides, including a
little skateboard, submarine, balloon thing, waterski, and more. They’re
uniformly sluggish and boring, and they drag on for far too long. The submarine
is the absolute worst of the worst, which is impressive because the balloon is
so dreadful. Both feature exaggerated momentum and inputs that don’t seem to
register until you’re careening toward a mine or sharp-beaked bird. I wanted to
pull the plug on the game during several of these frustrating sections, but I
thought I’d leave that up to Mr. Robo.

There are a lot of aggravating things about the game, but
it’s also a lot of fun at times. The boss fights are cleverly designed and
implemented, and they make great use of the hardware’s 3D effects. Even though
Chibi-Robo doesn’t gain any permanent new combat abilities during his world
tour, the big battles manage to provide novel challenges.

I’ve championed the character since I was introduced to the
first Chibi-Robo game on GameCube. I think his helpful nature and simple design
are appealing, and it’s been disappointing to see him flounder from release to
release. Zip Lash isn’t the game that’s ultimately going to convert people into
being Chibi-Robo fans; it’s a competent platformer, but it sticks too close to
the genre manual and is missing a much-needed spark.

Chibi Amiibo
Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is available as a standalone game or bundled with an Amiibo. Aside from
providing a full-scale collectible of the character, the figurine has a few
in-game effects as well. Players can use him to transform into a gold-finished
super form, which boasts a longer health bar. It also opens up a capsule
machine, which dispenses virtual toys that can then be arranged and
photographed, and bonus stages. They’re cute additions, but I’m just happy to
have a Chibi-Robo Amiibo – in-game extras or not.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Video: Automating content creation so tiny teams can make big games

At GDC Europe 2015 developer Alexander Birke explains how a small team built an outsized game — The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle — by creating efficient automated processes to create content. …


Gamasutra News

A tiny new Majesco will focus only on digital, with a new CEO

With just five employees, the 30-year-old game publisher will refocus entirely on digital titles for PC and consoles, it reveals today. …


Gamasutra News

Star Wars Assault Team, Tiny Death Star get bullseye’d like womprats

It seems that Disney has instituted its own version of Order 66 and cleansed the iOS App Store, Google Play Store and Windows Store of free-to-play mobile games Star Wars Assault Team and Tiny Death Star. Both Pocket Gamer and Game Informer report…
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Disney yanks Tiny Death Star from app stores without telling devs

The game was still “a significant source of revenue for us” says developer Ian Marsh, whose studio NimbleBit created the game. …


Gamasutra News

Disney Torpedoes Tiny Death Star Without Alerting Developer Nimblebit In Advance

Disney has removed two Star Wars titles from the Apple and Google storefronts after both were in service for less than a year. Both Tiny Death Star (a partnership with Nimblebit) and Star Wars Assault Team are no longer available.

Tiny Death Star was introduced in November 2013 (eleven months ago) and Star Wars Assault team launched at the end of March 2014 (just over six months ago). Disney confirmed to Game Informer that both titles have been removed in order to focus on priority titles like the Clash of Clans-like Star Wars Commander.

Developer Nimblebit, who partnered with Disney on Tiny Death Star has indicated that it was unaware of the move prior to the game disappearing from storefronts. A Disney representative could not confirm whether Nimblebit had been contacted prior to the game’s removal. However, Marsh tells us bluntly that he and his team were not made aware.

"We're very disappointed to see Tiny Death Star shuttered less than a year after launch," Marsh told us via email. "We had no prior knowledge that the game would be removed and no longer even have a contact at Disney after the recent layoffs.  Suffice to say if you're a developer looking to partner with Disney this might not be the partnership you're looking for."

[Source: Pocket Gamer]

 

Our Take
While it’s not uncommon for service-based games to disappear with little notice, Disney’s failure to alert Nimblebit is the wrong message to send to a partner and a warning about how the company views partnership. Then there are the players to consider. Both of these games were free-to-play, which means some users spent money in and just watched that investment (albeit sunk cost) vanish without warning.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed