Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

The Origins & World Of Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the games that got gamers buzzing at E3. Its mix of primitive man and animal-like machines in the distant future caught fire with our imaginations. We saw the game behind-closed-doors, which yielded additional info about the game not seen in its official trailer, but we also talked to Guerrilla Games' Mathijs de Jonge (game director) and Mark Norris (senior producer). The pair divulged even more about Horizon, from its creation to the some of the nuts and bolts of its gameplay.

In 2011, you had a
smaller team working on Horizon. Was that mainly art and general concept? Can
you talk about what that smaller team worked on and when you brought on the
other people, when it ramped up?
Mathijs de Jonge:
After we shipped Killzone 3, we asked our company to pitch IPs, and there were a
lot of people excited about starting something new. We got about 40 different
concepts, but there were a couple games that stayed close to what our company
can do, and inspired us. One of the concepts that was most appealing in terms
of different elements in it, funnily enough, was the most risky project there,
Horizon. That's the concept that we started prototyping with a smaller team.

I think at first we were 10 people and at maximum maybe 15
or 20. We built prototypes as much as possible. So we started this specific
robot that you've seen, the Thunderjaw. That started out as a Duplo big block
thing with very ugly animations. But the core elements that are on there now
were very present in the early prototypes; we had the basics up and running
quite early. And after Shadowfall shipped, the rest of
the company joined the very small team. So we had everything prepared for when
that switch was gonna happen. And now for a year and a half we've been working
with the entire company on this game. I think it's actually has been really
good that we have been able to define all of the rules of how this world
operates, because it has such crazy elements mixed together. We wanted to make
it feel like it was believable.

In terms of the
larger vision and bringing that together, would you say that some of the story
elements were the fundamental first blocks of putting the game together or was
it more about, "we want to do an action game that has some RPG elements"?
de Jonge: We
wrote early drafts of a possible story. We maybe wrote 20 different stories.
Very different stories. We explored with different player characters. We
explored multiple player characters. We explored many things to figure out what
worked best, because we already knew that it's going to be very lush and with
nature. Maybe 1,000 years in the future, with these robots roaming around that
look very animalistic. So, those core ingredients were already there. We have
been iterating on all these things the whole time.


Mark Norris: If
you had to take a look at the foundational themes, this tribal society or
primitive humanity. Humanity's struggle and survival is one of the things that
Mathijs is constantly pushing for… This is a world full of danger. It's a world
full of beauty and majesty, but we really wanted to get across the sense of,
"what does this juxtaposition really look like? What if humanity is not at the
top of the life list anymore? What would that feel like? What would that look
like?" That drew a lot of the other elements around it. We brought in John
Gonzalez, who was the former lead writer on Fallout: New Vegas to be the pen to
the story. But, the major elements of the story have remained even though John
has put his touch on it. So the story, at least the foundational elements of
it, have remained intact over the period. Of course, it's gotten better as very
good writers have come on to the story to help us flesh that out.

I'm not sure if that battle with the Thunderjaw is simply a demo example or if it's currently in place in the game. Can you say whether you would characterize that as a boss battle? Or would those kinds of encounters happen naturally, let's say, if you were just wandering around and got into the wrong situation?
de Jonge: These robots do roam around, and you can get into that situation, but the player would have to be at a high level to fight these, and have the right tools.

Norris: And you might run into that Thunderjaw at level six and that would be a bad time for you. [laughs] There are of course moments inside of the quests in which you'll have more scripted encounters. But 90 percent of this game takes place in the open world where you're running around and doing things. If you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, well…

In the battle against the Thunderjaw, she was using its tail projectile weapon against it. Is that anything you could keep or craft from?
de Jonge: The disc launcher, it's a very heavy weapon. You can walk around with it, but you can't jump, so it's a weapon that players will leave behind. It's sort of a power spike that we put in so momentarily the player feels very powerful against these big machines, but it's also something we want to take away, because otherwise…

Norris: Limited ammo.

Will there be any of the smaller weapons that would be native to the machines that you might be able to take with you if they've been blown off?
Norris: I don't think there's ever going to be anything inside of the game where you shoot a specific piece off the machine. Because the game is so based around crafting, it's always parts. And so there's never going to be a moment where you're like, "Oh that machine has a machine gun and now I've picked up that machine gun. Now I have a machine gun that I can put into my weapon slot."

de Jonge: That's right, plus we also felt like these robots are big, they're heavy, so how does that even work? How would she put that in a backpack? It doesn't even make sense. That's our reasoning for getting these very powerful things. They stay with the robots, more or less, or in their region, and the other weapons that are still very powerful for the player, you craft them for yourself. The ammo you craft yourself from bits and pieces from the machines.

Can you talk about
how players will approach the open world as far as getting objectives,
missions, and things to do?
Norris: So there
are obviously things that will have objectives and objective markers inside of
the game, and another thing that we mentioned during the demo here is the
exploration element. We want to drive exploration through having pick-ups that
you'll find throughout the world that you can craft with or replenish your
health.  So, there will be reasons for
you to explore this open world that are meta-game related, but there are also
quests and a quest system in place that will deliver that story and give you
specific places to go.

Read on to find out more about the game's world, crafting, and things Guerrilla is not supposed to talk about. 


www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – Returning To An Expansive Fantasy World

Day two of my latest adventure in the lands of Tamriel on PlayStation 4 begins with me dodging town guards – apparently stealing every loaf of bread has drawn the ire of the city. It didn’t help that I “accidentally” launched a fireball blast at a citizen that was napping on the docks either. If the guards catch me, I’ll have to pay a hefty fine, but I can deal with that – my coffers are overloaded with all the pickpocketing and stealing I’ve been doing, so I have more than enough to purchase a mount and some nice gear, even though I’m only around level 10.

My lawbreaking adventures are just one aspect that has been added to Elder Scrolls Online since its PC launch last year, and a noticeable feature in the newly released Tamriel Unlimited on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. In addition to adding more of the freedom we have all come to know and love through other Elder Scrolls titles, there’s a hefty endgame component, essentially an alternate advancement system, that lets players continue to grow and develop after level cap. As always with an Elder Scrolls game, it’s up to you to determine the direction of your character through item use and exploration – if you want to be rogue that wears plate armor,  or a two-handed cloth wearer, you can create a template of your very own as you explore the vast world.

The Elder Scrolls Online’s control scheme lends itself well to controller mapping and for combat. Because there’s a focus on a few key skills and the timing of basic attacks, you have a full range of powers at your fingertips without having to worry about overbearing and overloaded hotbars. The sparse UI does an excellent job allowing you to see what abilities are available without taking up valuable screen real estate. The game’s controls feel fitting for console, and the combat seems to have bit more weight behind sword strikes and offensive actions than my trip to Tamriel last year. On the subject of crafting, it’s incredibly satisfying to load your pack up with dungeon loot, and then break it all down to craft fantastic equipment.

Ability morphing lets you hone your powers by adding special features to skills that may seem basic at first. Each class line contains ultimate abilities that can only be used for additional complexity and fun to combat. For my time on console, I piloted a heavily armored storm mage, who essentially turns into Emperor Palpatine, capable of electrocuting packs of enemies.

Voice chat is easy to access and use, though you may wish to turn it off in heavily populated areas. The game’s dungeon grouping system has improved some of the issues I had with risk/reward ratios during my first trek through ESO, but it’s still slightly frustrating that the group finder doesn’t simply match players and dump them directly into an instance – you still have to port around a bit to get to your final destination.

The crown shop contains a motley assortment of consumables and cosmetics for those that want to continue supporting the game after initial purchase. Things like pets, mounts, jester outfits, and other assorted items are available for a price. Players can also opt to sign up for “membership plus” which is essentially a subscription that provides crowns each month, and presumably other content offerings down the line.

Due to a comfortable control scheme and a buy-to-play model that takes the pressure out of being forced to “get the most efficiency” out of your playtime, Elder Scrolls Online is a solid fit for console – it’s far more fun to wander aimlessly, farm gobs of consumables and craftables, and spend thirty minutes trying to steal a goblet undetected if you’re not constantly thinking about a subscription fee ticking in the background.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

The World Ends With You Finally Returns To iOS

It’s been four months since Square Enix removed The World Ends With You: Solo Remix from the iOS App Store. The game was pulled after numerous reports that it didn’t work on devices running the latest operating system, iOS 8.

Given that the title carries a typical Square Enix premium price ($ 18 on iPhone, $ 20 on iPad), fans were understandably frustrated. For those eagerly waiting its return, we have good news.

The title has been repaired and can now be redownloaded without problems (or purchased anew) from the App Store. The pricing remains the same. 

[Source: Pocket Gamer]

 

Our Take
Hopefully this doesn’t happen again when iOS 9 is released. I understand why Square Enix prices its mobile games as it does, but with premium pricing comes premium obligation. It’s not acceptable to let a game like this die for months at a time (especially since this version is so darn good).

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Don’t Miss: How Rocksteady surprised the world with Arkham Asylum

In this classic 2009 analysis, Gamasutra examines the curse of the licensed superhero game and the effects of hype and expectation in the wake of Rocksteady’s surprising Arkham Asylum launch. …


Gamasutra News

Find Out More About Yakuza 5’s Open World Japan In First Of Three Developer Interviews

Yakuza 5 is making its way to North America later this year, bringing the lights and brawls of Japan with it. Today, Sega has released the first of three developer interviews to discuss the theme and scope of the title.

The interview features series general director Toshihiro Nagoshi and Sony’s Gio Corsi discussing the road to bring the title west. The Yakuza series has always been aimed squarely at the Japanese market, but it has found worldwide appeal and a faithful audience outside of the country.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Kazuma Kiryu returns, as well as four other playable characters. In addition to the fisticuffs, Yakuza 5 brings back a number of mini-games, including Karaoke. 

The title is due on PlayStation 3 later this year.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Say Goodbye To Your Free Time, These Are The Open World Games Of E3 2015

Besides yarn, one of the biggest trends at E3
this year was open world gaming. Open worlds fulfill the next-gen promises of player freedom and a seamless melding of exploration,
combat, and narrative. This year we have robot dragons, post-nuclear Boston, and a dictator's picturesque island paradise. Read on to learn more about the virtual worlds we're all going to be exploring in the coming months.

Ghost Recon Wildlands
Ubisoft is taking two of their
popular Tom Clancy games open world. Ghost Recon Wildlands is set in a Bolivia
torn between a corrupt government and a bloodthirsty drug cartel. Players can save the country together with drop-in, drop-out co-op. Missions can be approached from
multiple angles, ranging from loud and dumb to smooth and stealthy. Read our hands-on here.

 

 

Fallout 4

Bethesda kicked off the show this
year and they did it in style by dropping the Fallout 4 bomb. We finally got to
see over 30 minutes of gameplay from the long-awaited title. Fallout 4 takes
place 200 years after the nuclear war, set in the wasteland of downtown
Boston. While Dogmeat stole our hearts, the sprawling world set our
imaginations racing with post-nuclear implications. We've assembled everything Bethesda revealed about the game here.

 

 

Just Cause 3

The third entry in this
ridiculously over-the-top franchise looks to be the best one yet. Rico
Rodriguez returns to his mother’s homeland of Medici when a tyrannical dictator
assumes control over the peaceful inhabitants. Avalanche Studios has crafted
over 400 square kilometers worth of infrastructure to utterly destroy. Thanks
to the best grapple hook in video games and a wingsuit, players will have
unparalleled mobility that matches the game’s frenetic action. Don’t worry. The
laws of physics don’t apply in Medici. Check out our coverage hub for even more info.

 

 

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Guerrilla Games, best known for
the Killzone series, surprised everyone this year with a stunning look at
Horzion: Zero Dawn. The game takes place sometime in the far future, when the world
has been overrun by both nature and an entire ecosystem of robotic animals. Our
bow-wielding hero Aloy is from one of the human tribes that dot the globe and
fight to survive. Horizon’s world is draped in mystery and nuance. The trailer
raises all of the right questions about this unique take on the post-apocalypse:
what happened to humanity? What (or who) created the robots? The brief time we
had with the game only intrigues us more.

 

On the next page we travel to New York, London, and Afghanistan…


www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Frolicking And Flinging Yarn In Yoshi’s Wolly World

Nintendo fans have been playing as the adorable dinosaur, Yoshi, since the earliest days of the Super Nintendo. Whether it's Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Story, or even Super Smash Bros., we've all become pros at the  cuddly critter's moveset. These abilities all survive the leap over to Yoshi's adorable makeover in Woolly World, down to heavy duty butt stomps and fluttery jumps.

I ventured over to Nintendo's booth during E3 2015 to test my long-untested Yoshi skills in the Wii U game. Muscle memory clicked in almost immediately, thanks to Nintendo's penchant for tightly calibrated controls and intuitive level design. Also, the fact that Woolly World pulls its punches to remain accessible didn't hurt my reacclimation. Unassertive shyguys and piranha plants make up most of the early enemies prowling the whimsical windmill world. Yoshi's traditional butt stomp causes the dinosaur to morph into a mallet, making his fast impact appear to pack even more of a whallop. I enjoyed inhaling shyguys and turning them into yarn balls which can be chucked around the environment. Yarn balls are versatile projectiles, which can bind up piranha plants for easy disposal or fill in the outlines of objects with yarn. Materializing hidden warp pipes or windmill blades with precise throws is satisfying. 

Speaking of throwing, tossing yarn balls in Yoshi's Woolly World feels similar to Super Mario World: Yoshi's Island for SNES or Yoshi's New Island for the 3DS. One button press causes an aiming reticle to extend out from Yoshi and sweep back and forth, allowing players to line up shots. I found this function easy and precise during my time, but unfortunately at this point in development it appears that toggling the reticle is the only option, compared to Yoshi's Island which allowed you to pull up the aiming assist by holding down a button then tossing an egg by releasing it. It's a subtle difference, but can throw off the rhythm of experiences Yoshi fans.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Visually, Woolly World takes several cues from the handcrafted look of Kirby's Epic Yarn. It also borrows the gem collection element. Shiny, colorful collectibles are scattered and hidden through the levels, which Yoshi (and a co-op pal if they're available) can collect for a better end-of-level score. Flower pick-ups are also hidden, which are there for completionists rather than pacifying a crying Baby Mario. \

While Woolly World shares several similarities with Epic Yarn, the penalty for death seems a bit stricter in terms of penalty for death. In Epic Yarn, Kirby merely loses his hard-won gems when hit, and doesn't die when losing them all. However, in Woolly World Yoshi can lose enough hearts that the poor guy will die and have to restart at a recent checkpoint.

Nintendo has some adorable characters, but despite their cute nature a lot of those games can be quite difficult. Games like Yoshi's Woolly World are breezy, enjoyable reminders that platformers don't always have to be blisteringly difficult to be enjoyable. Woolly World comes out this October on Wii U, so we don't have to wait long for an undeniably cutesy dose of casual fun.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Why a World of Goo dev made a puzzle game about programming humans

Why is assembly language so appealing to puzzle game makers? Gamasutra speaks to World Of Goo dev Kyle Gabler about designing Tomorrow Corp.’s thinly-veiled programming puzzler Human Resource Machine. …


Gamasutra News

Nintendo Talks The World Championships 2015, The Wizard, And Reveals The Trophy

For the first time in 25 years, Nintendo is bringing back its Nintendo World Championships at this year's E3. After inviting competitors and holding a series of qualifying rounds across the United States, the tournament begins tomorrow. Ahead of the Champioships, we spoke with Nintendo Treehouse's Erik Peterson, who is producing the event, about the game selection process, how the film The Wizard influences the upcoming tournament, and what the winner will actually get – which you can see for the first time below.

Is this something Nintendo envisions doing every year, or is this a special occasion?

The last time we held a Nintendo World Championships event was in 1990, so this is obviously a huge moment for all of us and our fans. At E3 last year, we held the Super Smash Bros. Invitational, and we couldn’t have been happier with the response. So this year, we wanted to take things to the next level for our fans – and we thought, what better way celebrate our past and present than bringing back the Nintendo World Championships.

On a personal level, the Nintendo World Championships has always meant a lot to me. The last time it happened, I was like 11 years old. I was one of those kids reading about it in Nintendo Power and obsessing over every detail. I had no way to get there and be a part of it, so for me as an adult, the next best thing was to be a part of bringing it back.

Why NES Remix? Why not break out the original consoles and cartridges?

Ultimate NES Remix on Nintendo 3DS was only used for our qualifying rounds at select Best Buy stores around the country. It was a fun nod to the original 1990 tournament, since we were using the game’s World Championship mode which included some of the games used in the original competition.

On June 14, The Nintendo World Championships will use eight different games, including Splatoon and The Legend of Zelda. Although we’ve already revealed these two games, we see the element of surprise as being important – we want to truly test the competitors’ skills by forcing them to adapt to the challenges we throw at them.

What does the winner receive? Will there be a crown similar to the robe that was awarded to the recent 3DS Super Smash Bros. champion?

We’ve been keeping this a secret until now, but maybe this is a good time to reveal it. The winner will receive a trophy featuring a large gold-plated sculpture of Mario. A one of a kind event like the Nintendo World Championships deserves a one of a kind award, and we’re really pleased with how this turned out.

How many people competed at the regional events?

We saw a great turnout from fans at our eight locations. Some actually competed in the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, and others were participating in their first ever video game competition. Ultimately, from those qualifiers we found eight skilled winners that we think will make the competition on June 14 really exciting.

How did Nintendo choose its invited competitors?

Very carefully. We spent a lot of time searching for some of the best and most prominent Nintendo gamers out there. We’re always watching videos and livestreams and looking for great Nintendo players and fans. We were really excited about what we found, and in all honesty, it wasn’t an easy selection process. But in the end, it feels really great to be able to extend the special invitation to our invited eight players and get them to LA to compete. It’s going to be quite a show.

eSports are becoming increasingly popular and profitable for its participants. In many ways, Nintendo helped to kickstart this movement with the original Nintendo World Championships. Is it frustrating that Nintendo typically does not receive credit for this trend?

For us it’s not really about credit we’re just looking to have as much fun as possible with our fans. We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our fans, like the Digital Event on Tuesday morning and the Nintendo Treehouse: Live @ E3 livestream that runs Tuesday through Thursday from the show floor.

Is Nintendo planning for the final event to be a game reveal, as it was in The Wizard?

We’re deliberately keeping some of the games secret to provide an additional challenge to our competitors and to make the show as fun as possible. That’s probably not the answer you were hoping for, but you’ll just have to watch to find out.

Regarding The Wizard, it was the first thing many thought of when the tournament was announced. Two stars of the film, Fred Savage and Jenny Lewis, reacted to the news on twitter making it apparent they want to be involved. Did the legacy of the film help foster the decision to bring the tournament back? Did you reach out to those actors or anyone else involved in the film?

The reaction to the event has been massive. It’s gotten us really excited to see how hyped everyone is about the tournament—a lot of which comes from both the history and legacy of the Nintendo World Championships and the love of The Wizard. As far as who might be there –you know I can’t answer that! But I will say we have some fun treats in store. And for everyone in the LA area, I just want you to know you can attend the event in person at LA Live – tickets are free and you don’t need an E3 pass. Everyone else can tune in to our Twitch or YouTube channels to watch live. We’re starting with a pre-tournament Treehouse: Live at 2:35 p.m. PT, and the main event starts at 3 p.m. PT.

Did Nintendo re-watch The Wizard in preparation for the tournament?

Nobody needs an excuse to re-watch The Wizard.

For more on Nintendo's E3 2015 presence, head here to read our predictions for the show, and here for how we think they can improve from last year.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Nintendo Talks The World Championships 2015, The Wizard, And Reveals The Trophy

For the first time in 25 years, Nintendo is bringing back its Nintendo World Championships at this year's E3. After inviting competitors and holding a series of qualifying rounds across the United States, the tournament begins tomorrow. Ahead of the Champioships, we spoke with Nintendo Treehouse's Erik Peterson, who is producing the event, about the game selection process, how the film The Wizard influences the upcoming tournament, and what the winner will actually get – which you can see for the first time below.

Is this something Nintendo envisions doing every year, or is this a special occasion?

The last time we held a Nintendo World Championships event was in 1990, so this is obviously a huge moment for all of us and our fans. At E3 last year, we held the Super Smash Bros. Invitational, and we couldn’t have been happier with the response. So this year, we wanted to take things to the next level for our fans – and we thought, what better way celebrate our past and present than bringing back the Nintendo World Championships.

On a personal level, the Nintendo World Championships has always meant a lot to me. The last time it happened, I was like 11 years old. I was one of those kids reading about it in Nintendo Power and obsessing over every detail. I had no way to get there and be a part of it, so for me as an adult, the next best thing was to be a part of bringing it back.

Why NES Remix? Why not break out the original consoles and cartridges?

Ultimate NES Remix on Nintendo 3DS was only used for our qualifying rounds at select Best Buy stores around the country. It was a fun nod to the original 1990 tournament, since we were using the game’s World Championship mode which included some of the games used in the original competition.

On June 14, The Nintendo World Championships will use eight different games, including Splatoon and The Legend of Zelda. Although we’ve already revealed these two games, we see the element of surprise as being important – we want to truly test the competitors’ skills by forcing them to adapt to the challenges we throw at them.

What does the winner receive? Will there be a crown similar to the robe that was awarded to the recent 3DS Super Smash Bros. champion?

We’ve been keeping this a secret until now, but maybe this is a good time to reveal it. The winner will receive a trophy featuring a large gold-plated sculpture of Mario. A one of a kind event like the Nintendo World Championships deserves a one of a kind award, and we’re really pleased with how this turned out.

How many people competed at the regional events?

We saw a great turnout from fans at our eight locations. Some actually competed in the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, and others were participating in their first ever video game competition. Ultimately, from those qualifiers we found eight skilled winners that we think will make the competition on June 14 really exciting.

How did Nintendo choose its invited competitors?

Very carefully. We spent a lot of time searching for some of the best and most prominent Nintendo gamers out there. We’re always watching videos and livestreams and looking for great Nintendo players and fans. We were really excited about what we found, and in all honesty, it wasn’t an easy selection process. But in the end, it feels really great to be able to extend the special invitation to our invited eight players and get them to LA to compete. It’s going to be quite a show.

eSports are becoming increasingly popular and profitable for its participants. In many ways, Nintendo helped to kickstart this movement with the original Nintendo World Championships. Is it frustrating that Nintendo typically does not receive credit for this trend?

For us it’s not really about credit we’re just looking to have as much fun as possible with our fans. We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our fans, like the Digital Event on Tuesday morning and the Nintendo Treehouse: Live @ E3 livestream that runs Tuesday through Thursday from the show floor.

Is Nintendo planning for the final event to be a game reveal, as it was in The Wizard?

We’re deliberately keeping some of the games secret to provide an additional challenge to our competitors and to make the show as fun as possible. That’s probably not the answer you were hoping for, but you’ll just have to watch to find out.

Regarding The Wizard, it was the first thing many thought of when the tournament was announced. Two stars of the film, Fred Savage and Jenny Lewis, reacted to the news on twitter making it apparent they want to be involved. Did the legacy of the film help foster the decision to bring the tournament back? Did you reach out to those actors or anyone else involved in the film?

The reaction to the event has been massive. It’s gotten us really excited to see how hyped everyone is about the tournament—a lot of which comes from both the history and legacy of the Nintendo World Championships and the love of The Wizard. As far as who might be there –you know I can’t answer that! But I will say we have some fun treats in store. And for everyone in the LA area, I just want you to know you can attend the event in person at LA Live – tickets are free and you don’t need an E3 pass. Everyone else can tune in to our Twitch or YouTube channels to watch live. We’re starting with a pre-tournament Treehouse: Live at 2:35 p.m. PT, and the main event starts at 3 p.m. PT.

Did Nintendo re-watch The Wizard in preparation for the tournament?

Nobody needs an excuse to re-watch The Wizard.

For more on Nintendo's E3 2015 presence, head here to read our predictions for the show, and here for how we think they can improve from last year.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed