Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Gabe Newell discusses the downsides of working at Valve

“There are plenty of great developers for whom this is a terrible place to work,” Newell said. “People at Valve have to get used to working without a safety net.” …

Gamasutra News

Weekend Warrior – Working Through The Backlog

With weather still hovering near freezing, this weekend seems like the perfect time to catch up on games before Horizon kicks off an unusually busy Spring season. Some of us are even digging a little deeper into our backlogs, with games like Dark Souls 2 and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Alternatively, those who are willing to brave the cold can go see some excellent films opening in theaters, including The Lego Batman Movie and John Wick 2. Let us know in the comments below what you plan to do this weekend.

Jenifer Vinson (@JenMarie_Vinson) – I think I’m going to finally check out Up-Down tonight and see
what all the fuss is about.  Other weekend plans include violating all
better judgment and information I know about myself by attempting Resident Evil
7 in VR.  Subsequent events will likely include reimbursing my friend for
the expensive VR equipment I’m going to break with my copious tears and
I’m also in the final stretches of finishing my Wrench cosplay
from Watch Dogs 2, so I’ll work on that while I probably re-watch all of The
Expanse.  That show is good and everyone should be watching it.  

Jordan Leendertsen (@Bad_Durandal) – I have a fair amount of writing to do this weekend, but when I'm not tending to that I'll be putting more hours into my first playthrough of Dark Souls 2, as well as grinding lootboxes in Overwatch. I'm like, 15 deep and still no skins for the current event. Seriously Blizzard?

Brian Shea (@BrianPShea) – This weekend, I’m going to keep
playing Yakuza 0 and A Link to the Past whenever I’m not playing my usual
Overwatch and Clash Royale. It’s also supposed to be unseasonably warm, so I
might actively play Pokémon Go for the first time in a while to take advantage
of the event happening right now.

Ben Hanson (@yozetty) – This weekend I just have no idea what I’m going to play…
maybe some Jackbox Party Pack or something? I’m planning on playing around on
hockey rink tonight and essentially playing bocce ball on the ice with junk
from around the house… so there’s a game! Have a good weekend!

Manon Hume (@ManonHume) – I’ve been gaming so much since I got here that I think a
little Zumba is in order this weekend. ;)   I’m also DMing a D&D
session on Saturday that will contain as many references to LoZ as I can
manage. Every time my players get too far off-track, it’ll be nothing but “Hey!

Zak Wojnar (@ZakWojnar) – I’m only about 6 hours into Yakuza 0, but I’m loving it so
far and will try to get in some quality time over the weekend. Beyond that,
I’ll check out Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix and maybe catch up on Day of the
Tentacle Remastered. Jordan’s gonna try to get me to play Dark Souls II on PS4,
but I’ve never played a Souls title, and I don’t think I need that kind of
tension in my life right now… We’ll see.

Kyle Hilliard (@KyleMHilliard) – I’m coming up on the end of
Twilight Princess HD, which I have been enjoying. I saved right before the
first big fight with Zant last night, so I should be able to finish that up
this weekend. It’s been so long since I originally played it that it feels new
all over again in some places. Otherwise, I’ve been playing Rayman Legends
again with my daughter, and if her sick mother can get better after battling a
rough sickness the last few days, we will make it to the theatre to see Lego
Batman. Otherwise? It’s laundry time.

Suriel Vasquez (@SurielVasquez) – This weekend I’m playing one of
the few Zelda games I haven’t played start to finish: Link’s Awakening DX. I’ve
gotten through the first dungeon and it’s been a lovably zany trip so far. I’m
also planning on diving into Tekken Tag Tournament 2 as a refresher on the
series before Tekken 7 hits in June. I’ll also keep plugging away at Destiny in
the year 2017; it’s gotten a lot more fun since I found an Exotic combo that
lets to me do work in The Crucible: Invective and Lucky Raspberry. Grenade and
shotgun kills for days! – The Feed

Disney Infinity Dev Avalanche Software Reopens Under Warner, Working On Cars 3

Last year, Disney decided to focus on licensing its IP and get out of game development, closing Avalanche Software, the studio that developed its Disney Infinity game in the process. Today, Warner Bros. Interactive has announced that the former toys-to-life studio has been brought back to life itself, and that it's working on an upcoming Cars 3 title.

The newly reopened Avalanche is being led by John Blackburn, former studio CEO. “It is a tremendous pleasure to welcome Avalanche Software into our development stable, and we look forward to working with our new team, Pixar Animation Studios, and DCPI [Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media] to create Cars 3 based on the upcoming film and hugely popular franchise,” said David Haddad, president, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “The Avalanche talent and technology are a great addition to our group of outstanding developers, and we are excited for this Cars 3 game as well as all of the future games the team will create under John’s leadership.”

Avalanche has a track record within the Cars universe, having developed a console game based on the second film. In addition, Disney Infinity featured Lightning McQueen and other characters from the franchise, and developed a playset based on Cars. 

Watch our full video interview from 2015 to learn Blackburn's thoughts on the tumultuous licensed games industry.


Our Take
I've been following the studio since I visited them for a Toy Story 3 magazine feature. I've long been impressed by the dedication and passion that the team has brought to family games, and I'm happy to see that they're back from the brink. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will they be tapped to work on future Lego Dimensions content? – The Feed

Evolve Dev Turtle Rock Working On New Co-Op FPS For 2018

Evolve and Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock has announced that it is working on a new co-op FPS franchise that it plans to release some time in 2018.

Speaking to website, Phil Robb, Turtle Rock Studios co-founder, said, "We are developing a new franchise set in an all new universe that leverages the style of gameplay our community loves and expects from Turtle Rock Studios. We're focusing on what we do best – heart-pounding moment-to-moment online co-op FPS action."

Steve Goldstein, Turtle Rock president and GM, says the game has a "strong dark fantasy element to it."

Turtle Rock has partnered with free-to-play publisher Perfect World Entertainment, and believes that service-based titles that grow with and react to users is the right way to go for Turtle Rock and its products. Neither Robb nor Goldstein specifically mentioned these tenets in regards to the 2018 game, but the article makes clear that Turtle Rock doesn't believe it can exist making relatively static $ 60-off-the-shelf games.

Click the source link below for more info.



Our Take
The full article is definitely worth a read as it presents some insights into the hard economic realities indies may face. – The Feed

Dev builds working Atari 2600 emulator — in Minecraft

Developer and YouTuber “SethBling” published a pair of videos this week showcasing how he’s manipulated the building blocks of Minecraft to construct a working in-game Atari 2600 emulator. …

Gamasutra News

Blog: Working with the Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf community

Working with the community is a very important part of developing and popularising your game, here’s how the Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf devs handle theirs. …

Gamasutra News

Bethesda Working To Resolve PC, Xbox One Skyrim: Special Edition Audio Issue

With the Skyrim: Special Edition out this week, fans of Bethesda's critically-acclaimed RPG have been able to enjoy the game's sweeping vistas at a higher resolution, since much of the game's look has been reworked for modern consoles. Unfortunately, the same can't currently be said for the game's audio.

Reddit user LasurArkinshade has found that the PC and Xbox one versions of the Special Edition feature drastically compressed audio, sounding more muddled than the game's original 2011 release. At first they though the more muddled sound may have been their ears betraying them, but after extracting the files from the remastered version of the game, they were able to confirm their fear. "The vanilla game has sound assets (other than music and voiceover) in uncompressed .wav format," they wrote in their post. "The Special Edition has the sound assets all in (very aggressively compressed) .xwm format, which is a compressed sound format designed for games. This isn't so bad, necessarily – it's possible to compress audio to .xwm without significant quality degradation unless you crank the compression way up to insane levels. What did Bethesda do? They cranked the compression way up to insane levels."

LasurArkinshade has gone as far as posting an audio comparison between the original and remastered versions of the game, which you can find here.

Meanwhile, the PlayStation 4 version features higher quality than that of any other version of the game, which lead LasurArkinshade to conclude that the lower quality on the other two versions of the Special Edition was in fact an oversight.

Shortly after the post was made, Bethesda responded, saying "We’re currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week.”

[Source: LasurArkinshade on Reddit via Kotaku]

Our Take
If, as LasurArkinshade assumes, the issue was a simple oversight of someone not inserting the right files in the right place, it's an interesting case of how QA might have its pitfalls. I would say that it should have been found by someone during testing, but unless you put the two samples side by side and gave me a good enough pair of headphones, I wouldn't have been able to tell you which version is better. But hey, at least this issue could be all patched up as early as next week. Which is good, because I probably won't have time to play Skyrim again until sometime next year. – The Feed

Here They Lie’s Creative Director Talks Horror, Influences, And Working On Spec Ops: The Line

Cory Davis and horror go way back. Since he was a child, he’s been fascinated with the way horror can elicit emotions other genres can’t. “Horror’s a place where you can have a big influence and impact on the emotions that someone is feeling.” After being surprised by how well Davis’ most recent game, Here They Lie, managed to use the realm of VR to craft a powerful horror experience, I caught up with Davis to talk about his history with the genre, working on different kinds of horror, and some of the difficulties of creating a horror game in VR.

Of Dodgeball And F.E.A.R.
In his younger years, Davis immersed himself in the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Stanley Kubrick, obsessing over their freakish monsters and unreal, twisted locations. But even at that early stage, Davis understood Lovecraft’s best scares had little to do with physical monsters; the philosophical questions those stories posed consistently inspired his creativity. “That’s where I always went when I wanted to have an experience and question something in my life. Horror was always the place that I went to.”

Along with a love of horror, Davis also had a healthy fascination with video games, but it didn’t strike Davis to combine those two interests until his plan A lost its appeal. “I was studying architecture at Texas Tech University,” says Davis. ”There was some discussion with my professors there about the viability of architecture as a profession at the time.” His professors encouraged Davis to do what he loved instead of get into architecture, so he began working on level mods for Counter-Strike and Half-Life, using inspiration from the way Kubrick films like The Shining manipulated their audience. “It’s really strange how that film is constructed, because it’s built to make you feel unsettled, even about the spaces and the architecture where it’s filmed. There’s a lot of tricks going on that play with you.”

Davis’ first big project was the Dodgeball mod for the original Half-Life, which became popular enough to port over to Valve’s Source engine for Half-Life 2 years later. The mod was good enough to get Davis’ foot in the door at Monolith, which gave him his first professional gig as a junior level designer on the Extraction Point expansion for F.E.A.R., and later as a level designer on Condemned 2: Bloodshot. These were Davis’ first chances to implement the techniques he’d absorbed over the years by watching and reading horror fiction, as well as the fundamental aspects of design he’d learned from building mods. 

Considering his background, working on horror titles came naturally to Davis. “I love the idea of inconsistent geometry, players losing their mind, things you can almost only have in a game. Watching someone else go crazy isn’t the same thing as being in a room, [then watching as] it starts to have some interesting change as you’re standing in it.”

A Different Kind Of Horror
Seeking to implement more of his surreal and darker ideas on a larger scale, Davis left Monolith in 2008 to become the creative director on Spec Ops: The Line. After wrapping up work on Condemned 2, Davis vacationed in Mexico, where he first spoke with developer Yager and publisher 2K Games about joining the project. Here, Davis’ history of working on horror games proved a useful asset. “At the start of the project, 2K had a bunch of creative directors who were really behind taking the old Spec Ops series and doing dark and gritty with it, and I was on the exact same page with them.”

Many of the initial conversations Davis had with Yager and 2K touched on horror, as well as some of the darker aspects of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, the latter of which Davis counts among his favorite films of all time. 2K wanted a dark game about the atrocities of war, and to have the chance to work on a game inspired by a film he loved was a huge opportunity for Davis.

In order to work on the game, Davis and his wife had to relocate to Berlin, but the project was ambitious enough to merit the move. Although Spec Ops is bereft of ghosts, monsters, or hallways lined with blood, Davis considers it a horror game, which “drifted into a really interesting place that’s a lot harder to define than that” as Yager worked on the game over the course of several years. Much of the game emphasized the role the player takes in a video game, and many of its “horrors” have to do with the acts humans bring themselves to do (either by force or voluntarily) when the usual rules of society no longer apply. It was a horror story which drew from the more philosophical aspects of the Lovecraftian fiction Davis read as a young teenager.

Because of the game’s unique direction, 2K had a hard time trying to sell it. “There was some discussion about how to market the game after it had been in development for a while, and that’s when marketing began pushing back, trying to get it more in line with conventional shooters,” says Davis. The company even considered delaying the game to align make changes it thought might help Spec Ops sell better. Davis understood the publisher’s desire to make the game successful, but wanted to keep the game’s tone and inspiration intact. “There were strong battles towards the end of the project,” he says.

Ninja Side-Story
While finishing up Spec Ops, Davis had a son in Berlin, and he and his wife began looking for a way to move to Los Angeles. Davis was able to get in contact with Toby Gard, one of the people behind the Tomb Raider series who was then a creative lead at Spark Unlimited. The two talked about working on a collaboration with Keiji Inafune’s studio, Comcept, on Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z.

Although Yaiba was met with mixed-to-negative reaction from critics and fans alike (garnering an average Metacritic score of 47 across all platforms), Davis is glad to have worked on the game. “Yaiba was a really cool experience for me because that’s where I got back in hands-on level design,” says Davis. It allowed him to move away from the trappings of horror and work on a lighter, more action-oriented title. It also let him become more familiar with the Unreal Engine, which proved useful down the line.

Davis felt the environment during Yaiba’s development constricted his potential (and that of his team), but it provided him two very important things: examples of what not to do after he left the project, and the opportunity to meet Rich Smith and John Garcia-Shelton, who, along with Davis and Gard, eventually went on to form their current studio, Tangentlemen.

On page two, we speak to Davis about the influences and practicalities of his latest title, Here They Lie. – The Feed

Mobcrush raises $20M more to keep working on mobile game livestreaming

California-based startup Mobcrush, best known for building apps for livestreaming games on iOS and Android, has managed to raise $ 20 million from investors in its latest round of funding. …

Gamasutra News

Deadpool Director Not Working On Sequel Due To ‘Creative Differences’ With Ryan Reynolds

Of all the superhero action movies this year, Deadpool might be the most surprising. It managed to deftly translate the source comics' style to film effortlessly, becoming a financial and critical success.

Unfortunately, one of the people behind the film's success, director Tim Miller, will not be around for the sequel. According to a report from Deadline, Miller will not direct the film after "creative differences" between him and Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds emerged. Miller will be working on the film adaptation of Influx, a film adaption of a David Suarez novel.

We don't know what the creative differences could have been over, so it's hard to know if this will benefit or hurt the film in the long run. All we can hope for is that this doesn't lead to another X-Men Origins: Wolverine situation. – The Feed