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Tri-Force Heroes’ Director On Co-op Zelda, Four Swords Inspirations, And Working On Ocarina Of Time

During E3 last month, we had a chance to speak with the director of The Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force Heroes, Hiromasa Shikata. Shikata most recently directed the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. He has been involved with the Zelda series since Ocarina of Time, and hasn't strayed far from Nintendo's venerated franchise during his time with the company.

We spoke with Shikata about where Tri-Force heroes takes place in the Zelda timeline (though he didn't have much to offer), how Four Swords factored into the game's development, and about his history with the Zelda series focusing on Ocarina of time.

Where does Triforce Heroes take place in the Zelda timeline?

That’s a tough question. The Zelda timeline is quite complicated if you look at the history of Zelda I think you can see there are three branches. I can’t really designate which one of those branches we’re looking at, but as far as the design itself, it really is Link Between Worlds. But it’s not – as far as a timeframe – before or after. We haven’t really settled on or said that.

Does it take place in the same universe or world as A Link Between Worlds?

Again, with the history of Zelda we have these three parallel worlds. I can’t say which one it’s in at this point.

It seems like Four Swords is the main inspiration for Triforce Heroes.

There are points where you could definitely say that, but there are other points where, no, it’s not at all. We have the overall producer of the Zelda series, Mr. Eiji Aonuma, with four swords of course he incorporated multiplayer gameplay elements, but if you go back, his first title, Marvelous, also had multiplayer.

As for myself, I was the lead game designer on The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and within that game we had the phantom Link element where you switched back and forth between controlling the phantom and Link and I was always interested in that type of gameplay, but not with a person switching between two, but with two people.

So, I didn’t come up with the idea or suggest the idea for Tri-Force Heroes because I wanted to do a sequel to Four Swords.

Why three and not four players? Is it just the magic number? Or is it just thematic for Zelda’s triforce?

Mr. Aonuma of course had Four Swords, and I had Spirit Tracks which had two players – so I just went with the one right in the middle. (laughs) That’s a joke actually.

I really wanted to adopt and use the camera we had in A Link Between Worlds because it worked so well with the 3D feature of the 3DS. Because of the way that camera works, and because we wanted to incorporate an element of height within the gameplay, we thought, “What’s one way we can take advantage of the fact that you can see that depth?” And so the idea came about of stacking things. Of course, when we’re talking about stacking things, we’re talking about having the characters stand on each other’s shoulders. We played around with the idea of four players, but to be honest, it just seemed too high. It was a little difficult to see and it just didn’t really quite get what we were going at, so we reduced it down to three.

There was a huge hurdle of accessibility when it came to Four Swords – getting people together with all the right hardware, etc. Did you keep this in mind when developing Tri-Force Heroes?

Not really, we just thought, “We want to do a multiplayer game. What’s the best approach?” It wasn’t like a, “Hey, this was a problem then. Let’s make sure we don’t repeat it.” We had a fresh start.

Is there a narrative to the game?

I can give you a brief overview. The story takes place in a world that is not Hyrule, but in a kingdom that is fashion-obsessed. In that kingdom, an event happens. The event involving the princess of the kingdom…

Is her name Zelda?

No. The king, of course, wants to solve this problem – to circumvent this happening – so he makes a general call out to the kingdom for heroes to assemble. Who answers the call? Link. And that’s the beginning of your adventure.

For details on the limitation of multiplayer, head to page two.


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Criterion Working On Burnout Paradise Backwards Compatibility On Xbox One

Developer Criterion has tweeted that it's talking with Microsoft about bringing Xbox 360's Burnout Paradise to the Xbox One via the system's backwards compatibility.

At E3, Microsoft stunned viewers by announcing that the Xbox One could do backwards compatibility for selected Xbox 360 titles, with the goal being 100 by this holiday season.

Currently preview members can try out 18 games on the Xbox One, and Microsoft is taking reader votes for what else should be backwards compatible. Currently, Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption leads the list.

Of the Burnout games, Paradise leads the voting.

 

Our Take
This is good news for Burnout fans, although perhaps Criterion's tweet intimates something more. When Microsoft announced the program, the company said that the approval process would be easy, only requiring the thumbs up from the developer. We're curious what exactly Criterion in particular, or any other studio, is talking to Microsoft in regards to the process, and whether these kinds of negotiations make the entire process more complicated than Microsoft made them sound.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Bungie Working To Clean Up Destiny’s Online Community With Tactical Bans

Recently, Destiny received an update that adds matchmaking to weekly strikes. While that helps a number of players, it also compounds a problem found in the strike playlists: players idling (and ruining the experience for the rest of the fireteam).

Why might someone simply idle while the other players take on the strike’s challenges? Loot of course, the ill-gotten, unearned kind. The same thing happens in PvP, unfortunately.

In this weeks’ update, Bungie announced the first wave of temporary bans. The restrictions only apply to the activities in which the players were abusing the game, and only hit a small number of idlers. 

“There is no way you will accidentally be flagged under this policy unless you are a truly dedicated idler, someone who has really gone out their way to repeatedly cheat their teammates,” says user research lead John Hopson.

If you encounter players taking advantage of the system (by idling or otherwise), Bungie recommends that you use the reporting system. The developer says that data makes a difference.

Also in the weekly update, Bungie announced that the two Mars strikes (Dust Palace and Cerberus Vae III) are getting difficulty adjustments. They are the longest and most challenging of the strikes in disproportion to the others. 

Valus Ta’Aurc (the Cerberus Vae III boss) will have his shields (correction: health) reduced by one-third. The Psion Flayers at the end of the Dust Palace will each have their shields reduced by 15 percent. These changes were determined after a number of playtests and are intended to align the challenge more closely with the other strikes. These changes will hit in a few weeks.

[Source: Bungie]

 

Our Take
I’ve not run into idlers, but knowing how important teamwork is for strikes, I can imagine how frustrating it is. I’m excited about the upcoming changes to the two Mars strikes, too. Those are my least favorite largely because of how long they take to complete.

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From Software Working On Fix, Offers Workaround For Bloodborne Progression Bug

Sony has let us know that there is a progression bug affecting a small number of Bloodborne players. In order to avoid spoilers, we’ll not disclose the specific nature of the bug, but rather what you can do to avoid falling victim to it.

It happens when users attempt to join a game as a co-op guest or invader using the small resonant bell or sinister resonant bell respectively while in the Forbidden Woods. A hotfix is in the works right now, and those affected by the bug will have their games repaired by it.

Sony anticipates it will roll out the patch (1.02) sometime next week. For now, the company suggests that users not use those items until after the patch is available. For more on Bloodborne, check out our review.

 

Our Take
Sony let us know that users escalating this issue helped make it easier to identify and confirm it (and make it so that the first we heard of it was the email notice). We’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready. For now, just be mindful of where you use those bells.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Rockstar Aware Of GTA Online Issues, Working Towards Resolution “As Quickly As Possible”

Today marks the launch of online heists for Grand Theft Auto V, and players are having trouble getting online to play.

Rockstar has posted an update on its website committing to getting players access to the new content as quickly as it can.

We are aware of some issues today with players having problems connecting to GTA Online, as well as issues with the Xbox Live service. We are working to restore full access to GTA Online as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please stay tuned to this page to monitor the performance of all platforms.

This is the page Rockstar is referring to in its post, which currently shows online play being being limited on all platforms.

The downtime affected our own plans for the online heists (aside from playing it on order to offer our impressions). We had planned to do a Grand Theft Auto Online live stream, but had to switch over to Mario Party 10 when we were not able to connect online earlier today.

[Source: Rockstar]

 

Our Take
I didn't expect Grand Theft Auto Online to experience these issues with this latest update, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised considering the track record of so many online games in the last year. As it turns out, when one of the the best-selling games of all time gets a huge patch of new content, a lot of people are going to want to play it. It just goes to show how excited fans are for getting back online and playing more Grand Theft Auto Online. Hopefully the server issues will be cleared up soon.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

CryEngine sticking to $9.90 subscription, working hard to improve

Gamasutra speaks to Crytek’s director of production, David Bowman, about the company’s efforts in the last year to broaden its user-base, improve tools and capabilities, and speak to its community. …


Gamasutra News

Frictional Working On Soma Beta, Apologizes For Silence With New Screen

Frictional Games has been working on its horror game Soma since 2010, and we got a chance to play it for the first time at last year's GDC conference. Since then, Frictional has gone dark on the undersea horror game's development. In a recent post on the game's official forums, creative director Thomas Grip apologized for the silence and offered a new screenshot as an olive branch.

The screen, above, shows what appears to be a pair of conveyor belts and a ripe corpse. Grip says that the team is currently hard at work on the game's beta, and that the team will reveal more once that part of development is complete.

For more information on the game, check out our hands-on impressions. Managing editor Matt Bertz got to play the game for an hour, alone, in the dark. He had a lot to say about the experience, which you can read here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Kanye West Is Working On A Video Game About His Mother

In an interview on The Breakfast Club radio show, rapper and musician Kanye West revealed he has been working on a video game based on his song, "Only One".

You can check out West's comment about his in-development game by heading to the 58:58 mark on the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

He doesn't offer many details about the game but says, "Right now I'm working on a video game for 'Only One'. The idea is, it’s my mother going through the gates of heaven and you have to bring her to the highest gates of heaven by holding her to the light. We’ve been working on it for like six months.”

You can check out the music video for "Only One," West's 2014 collaboration with Paul McCartney, below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

This is only tangentially related to Kanye West and video games, but here's a video of Toon Link from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD rocking out to "Black Skinhead" from Kanye West's Yeezus ablum.

[Source: The Breakfast Club 2015, via NeoGAF]

 

Our Take
West's video game sounds like a sweet memorial for his mother. I'm curious if he is actually pursuing this as a profitable video game, or if it's just meant to be a interactive accompaniment to his song. Also, is this going to be a mobile game? Or is it something larger? Hopefully West will offer more details soon, because I would certainly be curious to try out a game he created.

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Epic Announces $5 Million Grant Program For Developers Working With Unreal Engine 4

Epic Games wants to help you complete your project in Unreal Engine 4. The developer has announced a $ 5 million grant program that will support studios working in the latest version of the engine.

The company will make awards between $ 5,000 and $ 50,000, with funding going to games, animation, or visualizations created with Unreal Engine 4. Most importantly, Epic is offering these funds without any interest in ownership. Students, educators, and those engaging in crowdfunding projects are eligible, along with anyone else working in UE4.

“While development can be fueled by creativity and determination alone, finishing and releasing a commercial project often requires money,” says Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. “We know this firsthand, as Epic’s early projects were built on shoestring budgets funded by such sources as Tim Sweeney’s lawn-mowing earnings, and Mark Rein’s credit card (before they took it away from him!). A small budget can make all the difference in shipping a project with the content, marketing materials, and promotional expenses necessary for it to gain traction.”

The company says that there are no obligations to Epic tied to accepting funds, awardees will keep the rights to their intellectual property, and there are no publishing restrictions. Applications are being handled via email.

Those interested need only email Epic at [email protected] with a description of the project and supporting assets and details. Epic will entertain proposals from unannounced projects also, and says that it will not require participation in publicity if recipients opt out.

For more on applying, visit Epic’s website.

 

Our Take
Epic’s making a smart play here. With more publishers opting for in-house engines, giving people incentive to explore Unreal Engine 4 is smart in the long run. The more great games that are made on the engine, the better Epic looks.

This is near-term investment that has potential to reap big long-term rewards. It also means that Epic, which already does a good job of promoting UE4-based projects, gets another opportunity to tie its name to success.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

The Escapists Review – Working Through Tedium

Outsmarting the guards and making a great escape is every
prisoner's dream, but as The Escapists demonstrates, it isn't easy. You
meticulously plan, craft tools, wait for openings, and hope your plan goes off
without a hitch. While the premise is interesting, the gameplay relies too much
on repetition, never capturing the adrenaline rush of a daring escape.

The life of an inmate is routine, and The Escapists captures
this to a fault. You eat meals, take on boring janitorial jobs, curry favor
with other inmates, and exercise your mind and body to succeed. The simulation
starts off amusing enough; waiting for the opportune moment to steal from
inmates is exciting, and crafting better items gives you a constant focus.
However, the daily repetition (especially locating specific, randomized items)
becomes frustrating. Every day feels the same – another fight, another generic
conversation, another roll call. Even when you escape one prison and get moved
to another, the loop stays the same with a few new items and security measures.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

You suffer through the routine because you are preparing to
escape. Your break-outs can happen in multiple ways, like digging your way out
or taking over the prison with brute force. I enjoyed the creative and numerous
routes to freedom, but hatching a plan involves too much patience and trial-and-error.
You are given little direction for the complex mechanics, apart from a brief
tutorial that barely scratches the surface. You must learn through failure.
Want to cut your way through a fence? You need to be equipped with a fake fence
cover before you do or you automatically get sent to solitary, lose all your
contraband, and forfeit three in-game days. You only learn this after you
attempt it, and you can't possibly predict every necessary step to avoid
disaster. You're constantly punished for mistakes and losing progress because of them, yet this experimentation is essential.

Obtaining what you need to put your plan into action depends on building relationships with other inmates. Unfortunately, you don't interact with them in any meaningful way. You're constantly trying to get on their good side, so they'll sell you items or jump people for you. Yet the relationship progression comes down to you do boring favors like locating items, beating up others, and acknowledging them every day. It feels artificial though. Essentially, you're just raising a meter and your conversations remain the same – utterly generic.

The whole process is a tough barrier of frustration. From
aggravating prisoners who constantly attack to the guesswork-focused crafting
system, The Escapists is always challenging you. On the one hand, this gives
you a grand sense of accomplishment when you win; I enjoyed those lightbulb moments
when I finally figured something out, and I appreciated the tension that I felt
every time I put my exit plan into the action. On the other hand, the slow
progression loop and repetitive gameplay outweigh the brighter moments.

The Escapists implores you to dig deep for your
strategy, but it doesn't offer enough excitement along the way. The concept is
sound; I just wish I had more fun. I like the idea of The Escapists better than the game it actually is.

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