Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Is Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe And The Blight Below One Of The Top 50 Games Of 2015?

Dragon Quest Heroes was perhaps my biggest surprise this year (here's my review). In general, I do not enjoy the musou-style game, and do not have a history with the Dragon Quest series. It was these two factors that made Heroes such a surprisingly fun experience. It doesn’t radically change the musou formula, but it does enough that I am happy to recommend it anyone. I was curious, however, to hear from a Dragon Quest fan, which is why I challenged Kim to play the game for our annual fight for the top 50 games of the year discussion.

Kyle: I know you like Dragon Quest, but do you like musou games? Did you ever play a Dynasty Warriors game, or try out Hyrule Warriors?

Kim: I actually do. I never got super obsessed with musou games, but I like to play them every so often. It’s fun to just take on a bunch of enemies and master simple inputs – a perfect way to de-stress. I’ve played some Dynasty Warriors and also tried some Hyrule Warriors, but I think Dragon Quest Heroes just scratched the right itch for me. I adore Dragon Quest, love building characters, and enjoy monster recruitment. I know you aren’t into Dragon Quest like I am. I totally squeed when Yangus and Jessica appeared. What did you enjoy about the overall gameplay?

Kyle: The big things for me were the Monster Medals, which let you unleash collected monsters during battle, and visiting the Stonecloud between levels. The former added some much needed strategy (though admittedly light) to the repetitive action, and the latter gave me a much better sense of progression than any previous musou game. What stood out to you?

Kim: I felt like it just nailed so much of what I love about Dragon Quest, even the Stonecloud had little callbacks to the series, like socializing at bar, crafting gear, and going to a chapel to save. Even more, I felt like it had more variety on the battlefield. Having the cannons and Monster Medals gave me something to do other than just comboing attacks. This just felt more strategic than past musou games I’ve played. My biggest complaints stem from the nonsense story and throwaway side content. I wanted to do extra things to max out some of my characters, but repeating levels got so dull that it felt like a chore. I wish they added an extra new wrinkle to some of those side battles. What are some of the things that didn’t work for you?

Kyle: Oh yeah, those repeated missions were pretty bland. They aren’t necessary for completing the game, though they are helpful. I only did the ones I needed to and avoided the ones that were clearly repeats. I didn’t feel particularly compelled to level everyone up, outside of my main team, so that worked out okay. Without a history with those characters, I just picked the ones with attack styles I liked and used them exclusively. The main beats of the story I also didn’t find particularly compelling. I found plenty of other reasons to keep playing, so that wasn’t an issue, but the story did little for me.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Kim: Even as a Dragon Quest fan I couldn’t appreciate the story…not that I was expecting much. Trying to have a rational reason for why all these different universes and characters are colliding is difficult, but I still would have liked some more character moments. You get them when you first recruit each one, but then they disappear. That being said, I’m just happy this came to North America. I never thought it would, considering Dragon Quest doesn’t have the best localization track record. Playing it now, I can’t get over how much fun it is, especially when you take down some of those mightier and trickier bosses. I enjoy how much extra there is to do besides just fighting through waves of enemies. I also think it does a good job of providing a lot of interesting combatants for you to choose from. Man, this one is a tricky call for me. While I acknowledge this game is a lot of fun, we had a lot of great games come out this year. Overall, what makes you think it deserves a spot?

Kyle: I think the fact that I am not a fan of the Dragon Quest series and still had a good time with the game speaks very highly of it. It deserves a spot because it does something interesting with the tired musou genre, and after this and Hyrule Warriors, I am actually excited for what Omega Force is doing next. Being a fan of the Dragon Quest series is just a bonus for those interested in the game.

Kim's Verdict: As I mentioned earlier, this is a really competitive year for games. Dragon Quest Heroes is a solid game, and I’d love to see it on the list. Kyle makes a good point about it doing something interesting with the musou genre. A lot of people complain about these types of games all being the same, but Dragon Quest adds its own flavor and strategy to the experience. I’m supporting it as a candidate worthy for our list, but I think it’s going to be a tough call with all the other games in competition. Keeping my fingers crossed that it makes the cut! – The Feed

Inside the world of Yo-Kai Watch

What the heck is Yo-Kai Watch and how does the game actually work? What are its strengths? Christian Nutt dives in. …

Gamasutra News

Afterwords –Yoshi’s Woolly World

Since releasing in the U.S. one month ago, Yoshi’s Woolly World has enjoyed a generally warm reception, with our own Kyle Hilliard declaring it the green dino's best outing since the original Yoshi's Island. Combining Yoshi’s egg-throwing gameplay with the charming yarn aesthetic of Kirby’s Epic Yarn created an adventure as engrossing as it is heartwarming. To uncover more about Woolly World’s development, we interviewed designer Emi Watanabe and producer Takashi Tezuka (who directed the first Yoshi’s Island) inquiring about the various Yoshi designs, the absence of Baby Mario, the disappointing Pokémon Amiibo skins, and their thoughts on yarn’s presence in video games.

[Editor's Note: This interview was conducted by Brian Shea and myself.]

A common thread in the Yoshi franchise is you always have a drive to collect as many items around the levels as possible. How do you make it so players are going to want to collect these items and they feel they are important?

Tezuka: Yoshi is a side-scrolling platform game, kind of like the Super Mario series, but here you can move around wherever you like and there's no time limit. We have the mechanic of the player tossing eggs, so that's a little more complicated and rich of a gameplay action than with Mario games, but we started from there; tossing eggs to explore.

Because of the lack of a time limit and that egg-throwing style, we don't have to be very precise with your movements. You can just kind of try different things and have fun with things rather than being super precise. You have the flutter jump, for example, where you can kind of flutter off and explore things, you have kind of a freedom of movement and a lightness to the gameplay that makes you want to explore more.

Watanabe: We built in a whole bunch of visual hints and cues for people to entice them into looking for things. With the visual expression of the game we built in things like a little thread of yarn sticking out of the terrain that will make players want to pull it to see what's underneath, or maybe a fluffy area that people will want to push on and see what's hidden behind. We teased them with a lot of visual elements.

What made you want to make Yoshis with different designs, and how did you go about designing those different Yoshis?

Watanabe: We actually started with just the standard, green Yoshi that is the main playable character, and as we developed the game and came up with all these gorgeous backgrounds, we decided that maybe we could play around a bit with Yoshi himself too. With knitted scarfs and sweaters and things like that, you can have a bunch of different colors mixed in there. We played a bit around with him and made a bunch of unique designs and when we asked around for feedback, people were really divided on what they liked and had their ideas of what we should make. So we decided to throw them all in and put in a bunch of different kinds of designs.

Tezuka: And for me, just changing Yoshi's designs, like the pattern, it was really fun and it made me really happy. At first, we also considered having abilities to go with some of these patterns, but I found that just the aesthetic itself was so fun and pleasurable. So rather than limiting the number of designs based on different abilities we could think of, we decided to focus on kind of the visual aspect and the joy that the colors and things brought.

Do you have a favorite unlockable Yoshi skin?

Tezuka: I personally have a lot of favorites, but I say that Mario is the one that sticks out most in my mind because when we designed it, I didn't have any clear idea of how it should be done. I really liked what they came up with.

Watanabe: I'm not sure if you've seen this yet, but you have secret stages in the game. When you collect the wonder wool from both stages, you can unlock a really unique type of Yoshi design that's of the Nintendo hardware systems. It was a really interesting challenge to get these design concepts into Yoshi form, so we worked with a lot of the original hardware developers to get their approval over and over to make sure we visually represented the hardware in a way that was recognizable.

For example, we have a Nintendo 64 yarn Yoshi design where, from the front, he looks like a controller. It was really rewarding to make these and a fun, creative challenge, so I hope you take on these secret stages so you can unlock these and see for yourself.

For Amiibo characters such as the Pokémon, it gives you a Yoshi with a white t-shirt that says "Amiibo". Was there any reason why there weren't Yoshis that looked like Pokémon?

Tezuka: With the Amiibo designs, we had to think about what characters could be represented authentically to the character in the Yoshi form, and so we couldn't do every single Amiibo. We did some trial and error and, unfortunately, we didn't make these ones and have Yoshi wearing an Amiibo t-shirt.

The Yoshi series, for Mr. Tezuka, is a series that he helped create. Does the Yoshi series hold a special place for you?

Tezuka: The Yoshi series is very dear to my heart. The Yoshi move, the flutter jump, is something that I created, and so that's very dear to me as well. But the egg throwing mechanic, I had some challenges with that one, so I worked closely with Mr. Miyamoto to get his advice on how to perfect that. That memory has stayed with me for a while as well.

Obviously, the Yoshi series has evolved in several different ways over the years. How do you draw inspiration from the different Yoshi games while creating something new, and do you draw inspiration from games outside of the Yoshi universe as well?

Tezuka: To draw on an example of this title, we don't really look outside for inspirations for Yoshi games. We worked with Good Feel on Yoshi's Woolly World, and they've never made a Yoshi game before, so because they have a really wonderful visual style, we wanted to see what a Yoshi game would look like in their hands. We worked with level designers on the past Yoshi's Island game and also New Super Mario, so we had our experienced level designers working on this.

With Yoshi's Woolly World, Kirby's Epic Yarn, and the upcoming Unravel, it seems like yarn is gaining steam as a popular aesthetic. Why do you think that is? What makes yarn such a great fit for game design?

Tezuka: It's funny that you mention that connection with those games with yarn. We hadn't really thought about it that way because with the Yoshi series, you might have noticed that each one has its own hand-made feel. Yes, we did know about Kirby's Epic Yarn, and we loved that aesthetic and we decided to work with that developer to create Yoshi's Woolly World. But it came from a place of wanting to have fun with Yoshi's form with yarn rather than any sort of trend that may be emerging. We just liked the aesthetic for this game. 

Watanabe: Personally, I think the appeal of yarn is that everyone has interacted with it and touched it before. They can imagine what it would be like to unravel something, and so it's kind of that tactile feeling that we can imagine while we're playing the game, which I think might be universally appealing to people. It's something that I enjoy myself, anyway.

Read on for details on the future of yarn games, Baby Mario's exclusion, the decision process behind Yoshi's appearances in other games. – The Feed

Roller Coaster Tycoon World Rides Out Of 2015

Roller Coaster Tycoon World was slated to launch on December 10, but Atari reveals that's no longer the case. Following feedback from the game's recent beta weekend, the team has decided to delay the game to early 2016 in order to address those concerns.

The to-do list of improvements include adding predefined curves/lines options to the spline-based coaster editor, a reworked fence tool, and a more robust on-demand grid. A new launch date will be determined following the second preview period scheduled in December.

Full details about the delay and planned fixes can be read on the game's official blog post. For more details on Roller Coaster Tycoon World, check out our articles covering its new features and pre-order plans

[Source: Atari] 


Our Take
As Shigeru Miyamoto famously stated, "a delayed game is eventually good while a bad game is bad forever."  Setbacks are always a bummer, but the fact that Nvizzio and Atari are addressing player concerns and requests means that Roller Coaster Tycoon World has a stronger chance of being good as it possibly can be. – The Feed

Footage Of Unannounced Cryptic Studios Project Could Be Jurassic World Tie-In

Earlier this year, it was rumored that Cryptic Studios’ Seattle location had been shut down by owner Perfect World. Today footage from a number of former employees appears to point to one of the studio’s unreleased projects.

The video and images that have appeared show dinosaurs and other animation tests. According to fansite, artists that previously worked at Cryptic’s Seattle location reference this footage but label it as an “unannounced title.”

The project appears on the resume of animator Sabrina Phillips and demo reels for Jae Sung Han and Silvia Uchida. It’s important to note that this is never explicitly stated to be a Jurassic World game. The connective tissue is the figure in the blue polo shirt that bears a strong resemblance to Chris Pratt, who played Owen Grady in the film. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

While Cryptic hasn’t commented about the status of its Seattle location, designer Svea Eppler indicates via her LinkedIn profile that the team was disbanded in April. The closure was apparently due to an international reorganization. Perfect World is headquartered in Beijing, China. 

Eppler and Phillips both indicate the project was headed to PC and current-gen consoles. Uchida’s LinkedIn account indicates the project was a “AAA MMOG” for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. The IP remains under NDA. Producer Tom Atkinson-Edwards describes the game as “open world.”

While Cryptic as a larger studio (there’s a location in Los Gatos, California) is working on Star Trek Online and Neverwinter, Perfect World has never commented on the status of its Seattle operation. The studio was purchased from Atari for $ 50 million in 2011.

We’ve reached out to Perfect World for a statement on the status of its Seattle location and this test footage. We’ll update should we receive a response.


Note: This story originally had the incorrect location for Cryptic Studios. It has been updated.


Our Take
It’s far too early to tell how this project would have come together. In fact, given that Cryptic as a larger entity still exists, it’s possible this is still in development. If it is, in fact, a Jurassic World tie-in, that would necessarily have some additional layers of secretiveness around it. 

The “man in blue” certainly bears a resemblance to Chris Pratt, but it’s far from definitive. What we can likely say is that a number of employees who were with the allegedly shuttered Cryptic Seattle location were working on this game prior to leaving the company. – The Feed

Don’t Miss: Ten years of World of Warcraft

In this classic 2014 piece, Raph Koster looks back at the MMO juggernaut: “If anything, it’s possibly the biggest game design achievement in all of virtual world history.” …

Gamasutra News

More Revealed On World Of Warcraft: Legion, Confirmation For Summer Release

World of Warcraft: Legion was naturally a part of this year's BlizzCon, with Blizzard announcing that the game is open for pre-order, you can sign up for the beta, info on Legion's class changes, and more.

The Burning Legion returns, and this time they don't want to fail. Legion features a slew of additions including the raising of the level cap to 110, two new raids, at least nine new dungeons, the Demon Hunter hero class, a new area called the Broken Isles, and more.

The opening cinematic was shown off (below), giving us a glimpse at an epic ship battle while the world falls into more disarray. We'll add the footage as it becomes available. 

Legion launches this summer. The game is now available for pre-order, and you can opt-in for the beta at the official site.

For extra info on the expansion, check out its debut trailer and further announcement details.

(Please visit the site to view this media) – The Feed

BioShock Halloween Party Brings The World Of Rapture Topside

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow, especially when it results in one of the coolest themed Halloween parties ever? Two BioShock fans proved they were born to do great things with their own festivities.

The BioShock party was thrown together by Daniel Hoppes and Haley Johnston, who attended the event as villainous splicers. Friends and family joined in for a costume contest, the winners sporting Big Daddy and Little Sister outfits complete with glowing lights from inside the massive helmet.

The event evidently spared no expense in recreating every fine detail of the BioShock universe, including damaged splicer masks, neon lights for plasmid advertisements, and even that classically unsettling execution scene of one of Fontaine’s smugglers. Need to recharge a bit? Try out the Vita Chamber next to the bathroom.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Check out the gallery below for a full look at all the detail thrown into the party. You can also click here to see a Big Daddy get down to Kanye's "Gold Digger."

[Source: Buzzfeed] – The Feed

SKTelecom Takes Home The 2015 League Of Legends World Champions’ Summoner’s Cup

The 2015 League of Legends World Champions tournament has declared its winner.

SKTelecom defeated KOO Tigers in the final rounds this morning making it the first team to ever win two League of Legends World Champions. SKTelecom also won in 2013. SKTelecom's Gyeong-hwan "MaRin" Jang was awarded the Worlds 2015 MVP. For more on the winning team you can check out the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

[Source: LoL eSports] – The Feed

Astroneer’s ex-AAA devs explore a strange new world of indie life

Three former Halo devs share lessons they’ve learned from transitioning to indie life, and how those learnings have shaped the way they design and market their sandbox space game Astroneer. …

Gamasutra News