Nintendo Switch: Unavailable Near You

This is kind of a rant about Nintendo as a company and how it treats consumers. Under a different banner, it can also be an open ended question about why people still like and defend a company that treats its consumer base so poorly time and again.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a large gaming industry week long event aptly called the “Game Developers Conference”, or GDC for short. There, I was surprised to see the company Nintendo teaming up with various developer platforms, primarily Unity3D, to demonstrate some of the Indie games running on their new Nintendo Switch console. I had a great time with some of their demonstrations and wished to learn more about the Switch console, but time is limited and they had many other people to demo for.

RELATED ~ 8Bits: Talking About the Nintendo Switch

So this brings us to today. I went all around town here in Kansas City looking for, not the actual console to purchase, but a demo. A small setup with the console and a television to play for fifteen or twenty minutes just to test the waters and feel out the console more thoroughly. Not only did I find out that such demo stations did not exist (as they do for every other major console), but new shipments of Switch consoles for purchasing isn’t expected until mid-April. Which is really awkward since Nintendo’s own website states that the system is “Available now at these retailers” and every single clickable option returns “unavailable. Something odd that I saw in every single store I visited was that retail store’s shelves had tons of extra controllers and accessories in stock, collecting dust on shelves… because nobody will buy an extra controller for a system they can’t even get.

RELATED ~ Nintendo Announces Its New Console and It’s a SWITCH!

On one hand, we should always see this coming every time Nintendo does, well, anything in these modern times. They did this limited supply tactic with their game altering plastic figurines called Amiibos. They did it again with a more recent venture, the super rare NES Classic nostalgia system, and now here we are again with the Nintendo Switch.

This all runs into a theory that I like to call “Nintendo hates their customers and is allergic to money”. The availability crisis Nintendo seems to be refusing to learn from, let alone fix, isn’t a new tactic, but it seems to add to the overall outlook of the company when it comes to consumers. Even with some of the games that come out from Nintendo in the not too distant past seem to be at odds with what players want.

I’m still burned on their ruination of Star Fox, a franchise that I hold dear to my early gaming days. Not because it broke with canon, but because it featured broken and impossible controls for no reason other than a vain attempt to justify the Wii U’s awkward tablet. Or the unnecessary dumbing down of Mario Party 10 for the Wii U because competitive board games are “too spoopy” for younger audiences.  It’s hard to not wonder if the gaming company just holds its player base in contempt or is some how self loathing.

There’s just these little things Nintendo seems to do that add up to the company not actually wanting players to enjoy their games. For example, not making a new Mario Kart for the switch, but re-releasing the same version from the Wii U with an added map and a couple of extra cross-over promotional characters (Birdo is still missing, however). Even the new Zelda game has good chunks of fun buried under a mountain of uniquely non-fun experiences.

I think Jim Sterling from The Jimquisition sums up the whole ordeal quite accurately (caution strong language):

https://youtu.be/cRicuKHmjZA

There is a little bit of good news that comes from the time that we are all forced to wait for the next wave of shipments… Maybe in the next few months, Nintendo will acknowledge the controller issues, dead pixel problems, and other problems the early adopters are having… but I know those are tall orders that Nintendo may never feel the need to do anything about.

 




Donnie Yen Joins SLEEPING DOGS

Original Film and DJ2 Entertainment are going to brave the video game adaptation market. They have signed on to producer Neal Moritz’s Sleeping Dogs, based on the top-selling video game by Square Enix. Joining him in the lead role is the original Ip Man, Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

No director has been named, but Moritz’s Original Film has experience with action fare films including the Fast And Furious franchise as well as the XXX franchise. Joining his producing team are Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons, with Toby Ascher and Stephan Bugaj executive producing.

The movie is based on the action video game, which is set in Hong Kong and focuses on martial arts fighting, racing, boat chases….and shooting while doing all that. Yen is set to play no-nonsense decorated cop, Wei Shen, on a one-man mission to bring down a dangerous Triad gang on the streets of urban Hong Kong.

Usually turning a video game into a movie can be difficult with complicated story lines. Moreover, they are not given great scripts, which can be hard for the actors. However, the studios do keep making money off them. Sleeping Dogs does not have a complex lore to follow, like Assassin’s Creed. It is the basic tale of good guys versus bad guys and everyone stuck in-between.

The addition of Yen should also seal the deal for the movie.

He has a long background as a fight choreographer and is well known as the star in the Ip Man franchise. It is the biographical martial art story based on the life of Yip Man, a grand master of the marital art Wing Chun and teacher of Bruce Lee. The first film, released in 2008, focuses on Ip’s life that took place in Foshan during the Sino-Japanese War. The second movie, Ip Man2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010), centers on his life in Hong Kong, which is under British colonial rule as he attempts to promote his discipline of Wing Chun. Ip Man 3 was released in 2015 and introduces the relationship between Ip and a young Bruce Lee. Ip Man 3 brought in $124 million in China last year.

Using the popularity of Yen in the Chinese market, Paramount placed Yen front and center when marketing for xXx: Return of Xander Cage, where he plays Xiang opposite Vin Diesel. The moved paid off when the film had the second biggest IMAX February debut ever in China, behind the 2014 The Monkey King 2 and has pulled $283 million worldwide – more than $121 million from China alone.

Sleeping Dogs released in 2012 for PlayStation 3, Windows PC, and Xbox 360. Two years later a “Definitive Edition” re-releases hit PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The developer, United Front, and Square Enix attempted a spin off called Triad Wars, a free-to-play multiplayer PC game which takes place in the Sleeping Dogs universe. However, lacking the charm of the original game, the receptions was lukewarm and the game was shut down in early 2016. United Front did attempt a pitch of an official sequel to Sleeping Dogs however, Square Enix passed. Now that United Front closed down in October 2016, unless a third party comes in, a game sequel may not see the light of day.

Currently there is no mention of a release date for the film.

 




8Bits: Talking About Micro-Transactions

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This month, we’re talking about micro-transactions.

Are they good for the industry? Are they bad for the industry? Did they start off with the best of intentions and then slowly drift off to the Dark Side? Our crew discusses the impact micro-transactions have on game play, extensions, DLCs, collections, upgrades, and what it all means for the wallet. Is it better to play through achievements to get the new weapon or skill? Or do you bypass that effort (and fun) and just buy that war hammer for $6?

Games we’re playing:

  • Master of Orion 2: Battle of Antares
  • Star Trek Online
  • LEGO Star Wars, X-Wing, Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • Mass Effect
  • Battlefield
  • ReCore
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Destiny
  • Grand Theft Auto

The panel: Jennifer Wise, Lauren Garrison, Jared Hawkins, Thomas Townley, Chris Jensen

 




ECHO CHAMBER: The RESIDENT EVIL Franchise

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This month, the Gang of Meddling Kids gathers ’round the table to discuss the Resident Evil franchise. From its first days as an early Playstation game to its current status as the top-grossing horror film franchise of all time, Resident Evil has delivered several iterations. Some good, some not. And with the movie franchise winding down (maybe), is it time for the video game series to do the same? Or is there still room for more games pitting Alice against the Umbrella Corporation?

The panel: Ann Laabs, Thomas Townley, Jared Hawkins, David Baker, Sam Sentman

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PAX South: Come For the Atmosphere, Stay For the Atmosphere


[Guest article by Chris Grucza]

If you’re a gamer and you’ve never had the pleasure of attending any of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) events, you should probably look to rectify that as soon as possible.

This year’s PAX South in San Antonio, Texas builds on the tradition in a very real way, delivering a gaming focused convention that doesn’t care what genre tickles your fancy – they’re all here with amazing representation.

Want to see some of the latest hardware from various computer vendors? Or find out what’s new in tabletop games? Maybe you just want to find out what Nintendo has up their sleeve next. PAX South 2017 answers all of those questions and more (Dell’s Alienware line actually looks like it might not suck any longer, it’s ridiculous how many new table top games there are, and the Nintendo Switch had a 4+ hour wait to demo it.)

But the real focus of the event isn’t the event itself. It’s the people and the community. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen at comic-con type conventions is the ridiculous amount of assumptions of consent due to cosplay. This has gotten so pervasive that Dallas Comic Con last year literally had signs up saying “Cosplay is not consent.” It can make for a wearisome day when that’s the vibe you’re trying to defeat.

PAX does not have that vibe. The PAX vibe is “Hey, we’re in line together and we don’t know each other but let’s play this card/dice game to kill time.” It’s “everyone’s a gamer and that’s awesome.” It’s “you’re new to the community so let’s welcome you.” It’s inclusive, loving and welcoming. All things that every convention should be.

Is there a point to this? Maybe, maybe not. But point yourself over to www.paxsite.com to keep informed as to when the upcoming PAX events are. If you’re a gamer, they’re required attending.”

 

Chris Grucza is a gamer, nerd, musician. Not always in that order.




8Bits: Talking About the Nintendo Switch

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The Nintendo Switch comes out March 3! Who’s ready? Our staff takes a look at the new game console. Price? Portability? Will there be enough games to make it worth having? What about the controller size? Battery life? Speculations and expectations abound in our discussion about the console that’s not always a console.

END-GAME CONTENT: discussion about the new Super Mario Run app released for iOS (Android hits in March). There are some things you should know before you download this app.

Games we’re playing:

  • Assassin’s Creed 2
  • Destiny
  • Final Fantasy 9
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Star Trek Online
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • Uncharted 4
  • Yoshi’s Wooly World

The panel: Lauren Garrison, Jared Hawkins, Thomas Townley, Erik Inlow, Jeff Hackworth

 




G33K Out: WonderCon 2016 – High Scorers Panel

[All photos courtesy CW3 Public Relations.]

Episode 19: Wondercon 2016 – High Scorers Panel

(Episode 18 was NOT posted on SciFi4Me, as it was not genre related. It was an interview with cinematographer Jimmy Matlosz.)

Last March, I attended WonderCon here in Los Angeles. We covered it here, and I had a lot more content that I never had time to do anything with.

One such item was a chance to meet up with some of the guys that were on the “High Scorers Panel: Star Composers of the Video Game World”. The panel was, obviously, music composers for video games talking about their work. I managed to get a chance to interview some of them before the panel. I first talked to Gordy Haab (Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct) and Niels Bye Nielsen (Hitman, Ratchet & Clank Series), and then I talked to Bill Brown (Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, Captain America: Super Soldier, Lineage II) and John Kaefer (Quantum Break).

Head’s up: due to the press set up, any time I talked, the mic was not in front of me. I bumped up my audio as much as possible, but it’s still pretty noticeable.

And now, time to geek out.

/su_audio]

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




Casting News: Daniel Wu Joins TOMB RAIDER Reboot

[Header image by Gage Skidmore]

 

Photo:”Into The Badlands” Facebook page

Fans of Into the Badlands will be pleased to know they’ll be seeing a familiar face in the latest reboot of Tomb Raider. Daniel Wu is set to join Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl), who will be playing Lara Croft in this adaptation. Wu, who played Gul’dan in Warcraft: The Beginning, has been gaining popularity from his portrayal of the lead character, Sunny, in AMC’s Into the Badlands, which is set to return with its second season this Spring.

Tomb Raider is currently scheduled for to release on March 16, 2018. Warner Bros. has teamed up with MGM to bring the latest adaptation of the popular video game series to life. Graham King’s GK Films, who acquired the film rights in 2011, will be partnering with the studios to create the film. King will also serve as producer with Roar Uthaug directing and Geneva Robertson-Dworet writing the script.

According to Variety, Wu is set to play Lu Ren, “a ship captain who partners with Croft on a quest to find her father.” Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight) is also on the roster as the film’s villain. This adaptation is slated to be about Croft’s origins, focusing on her first expedition. Though the reboot has been in development for years, it wasn’t until Warner Bros. got involved that it really started coming together.

The first game in the Tomb Raider series was released in 1996. The games follow Lara Croft, an explorer who travels the world searching for lost artifacts and encountering dangerous villains. Two other feature films, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), grossed $431 million worldwide for Paramount.




XCom 2: A Game of Bug Eyed Freaks

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Developer: Fraxis Games
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Disclosure: Copy Purchased

The XCom series is a science fiction turn-based strategy game where aliens have invaded and taken over the Earth, and it’s up to you, a member of the underground human resistance, to fight for humanity… or what’s left it.  In XCom 2, the latest installation of the series, humanity has just about had it and the evil aliens have successfully infiltrated the media, making most of the public side with their cause, even to their own detriment.  Soylent Green is people, after all.

xcom2_map

XCom 2 follows in the same systems of the previous XCom titles, most of which are turn based strategies.  The players and missions take turns in each mission.  You have a base that you can upgrade and expand by adding new rooms over time.  However, unlike the most recent previous title, Alien Unknown, where your base expansion was incredibly limited and the player is given very little information about what buildings do what, you are somewhat guided in what rooms you “need” to build for story and have plenty of expansion slots (maybe even a couple extra).  Still, in both games, there’s no take backs.  Once an expansion slot is used, that’s what it is.  The only way to change a mistake (say, building too many power conduits) is to restart your entire game.

xcom2_hotzone

XCom 2’s combat is fairly straight forward.  All the player’s units take a turn doing all the things they need to do such as attacking, moving, hacking, and opening doors.  And once you expend all of your unit’s actions, the enemy AI does the same with all the enemy units.  There is a lot of interesting tactical choices you can make and the maps that you play around in are rather expansive with plenty of strange and fantastic places to hide and shoot from.  Units are well varied giving you a wide variety of combat and ability combinations between units to keep your small strike team rather fresh rather than monotonous.

What I liked

In short, what I liked most was the downloaded content and the fan-made mods.  Excluding the mostly lack-luster cosmetic DLC packs, the two extra content packs that added additional missions, enemies, and units were pretty OK.  Both content packs were quite short and didn’t add as big of an impact the price tag should demand, but the changes were nice and notable nonetheless.  One of the DLC packs, specifically the one that added the S.P.A.R.K. unit which is a big hulking robot that kicks some serious can (that is similar to but not as overwhelmingly impressive as the mech units from XCom: Enemies Unknowns), seems like it should have been in the game from the start.  The robot’s gun shreds armor which becomes extremely necessary as every mid to late game missions feature armored foes and very few normal units have the armor shredding ability.  Armor being a rather tough obstacle to overcome if your units are unable to counter it by shredding it.

I was surprised to find XCom 2 open to player modification or, if It did, would be like most strategy games and be extremely limited in function and content through a dedicated editor.  To my surprise, on PC, XCom was linked to Steam’s Workshop system.  And through that, modders have taken the time to fix some of the issues built in XCom 2’s release, issues such as a lack of items and crafting mid to late game.

xcom2_team

Between the DLC and the mods, XCom 2 became not just playable, but actually enjoyable.  There’s a good deal of issues that the game had on launch, which in turn is responsible for the “Mixed” review rating on Steam.  But enough tweaking of the system from the players have gotten it into a pretty great state.  In general, as the trend of releasing unfinished games as “early access” and “features to be added later” and then expecting the players to mod the games to working states, it a rather undue burden on players that are unpaid to do such work.

What I did not like

For starters, let’s talk difficulty curve.  The thing is, difficulty should be a curve that wavers between two axes: the time the player has been playing and the player’s skill level.  The longer the player has been playing a game, it’s safe to assume the more the player has learned and the more skill the player has obtained.  There is kind of a “sweet spot” in between those two axes where the game’s skill is not too hard to leave a player frustrated or too easy leaving the player bored.  Kind of like Goldilocks, it has to be just right to keep the player’s playing and satisfied.

This chart from an article on Gamasutra on cognition and game difficulty displays the difficulty curve as it relates to player skill and the game's inherent difficulty. It also shows the states of cognition for each point within the chart.
This chart from an article on Gamasutra about cognition and game difficulty displays the difficulty curve as it relates to player skill and the game’s inherent difficulty. It also shows the states of cognition for each point within the chart.

 

There were aspects of the canon DLC that were pretty game breaking.  The new characters seemed to be a necessary addition that should have been included with the original launch.  For instance, mid- to late-game all enemies have various stacks of armor.  Armor negates damage based on how many stacks a unit has. More armor stacks, the less damage you can do to that unit.  And nearly all enemies have it in the higher levels.

xcom2_spark

Getting rid of an enemy’s armor is a top priority and only certain units can do that.  The DLC adds a unit called “S.P.A.R.K.” which has attacks that destroy armor.  For that fact alone, this unit is a stark necessity.   It seemed to me to be an odd aspect of the game to save for “extra paid for content”.

Then there is the DLC that nearly ruined the game for me.  In concept it is an interesting take on the turn-based style of the game.  The DLC adds three different bosses; they are various “upgrades” of three current units, and these bosses are super dangerous.  What makes them dangerous is that they get an action after every player action plus full actions on the enemy’s turn.  They can kill several of your units at a time while you can only move to cover one unit at a time.

xcom2_battle

What makes this game breaking is the timing.  If you start a game with the DLC, chances are that you will stumble upon the activating missions at the very beginning of the game, which is what happened to my play.   From that first mission, the bosses will randomly spawn during any mission there after until you kill them.  The good thing is the damage you do to them is persistent and that they run away after getting hit so many times.  But the damage they wreak and the time they take up to handle is overwhelming for a beginner who lacks the equipment and sustainability available in mid to late game.

 

Is it worth playing?

There are a good number of issues in XCom 2, especially if you don’t have access to a Steam community workshop filled with player created modifications and downloads.  The game’s official DLC seems to be walled off featured content instead of true expansions.   The game lacks balance, especially in the beginning as the difficulty curve starts out incredibly high.

https://youtu.be/F2KVjktGePY

These problems aside, the game is pretty enjoyable.  With a story that pits a rag-tag group of human resistance fighters against an evil alien insurgency, the game really nails the underdog fantasy fighting against impossible odds.  It also does a great job keeping the action in the gameplay flowing even while still handling the turn based system.  It does a good job bridging the gap between hard core turn based strategy games and a more broad general audience.

It could have used a few more mission types to add more variation to the objectives given in each mission.  For the most part it was enjoyable and the story made coherent sense even though the main story was a little short.

 

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Cards For Humanity: Sci-Fi Expansion Pack To Fight World Hunger

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[featured image: Cards Against Humanity]

For a long time, fans of science fiction have enjoyed the worlds and technology created by authors. Now they can put their own twist on the fate of the human race (or whatever species they are) with Cards Against Humanity’s new Sci-Fi expansion pack.

Last year they released their first ever Fantasy pack with the help of a dozen fantasy authors, including Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, and Jacqueline Carey, who brainstormed for playful questions and hilariously grotesque answers. This year’s Sci-Fi release enlisted the help of authors, including:

  • Delilah S. Dawson
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Myke Cole
  • Martha Wells
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Patrick Rothfuss

The thirty-card pack poking fun at the Sci-Fi genre is $5. Through December 19, all proceeds from the expansion pack will first be doubled and then go to Worldbuilders, Rothfuss’s nonprofit organization, which supports Heifer International. So far, they have raised $21,378 from the packs.

Heifer International is a nonprofit that works with communities to end world. However, instead of simply a donation of supplies, they work to empower families with the “teach a man to fish” philosophy. They provided the education and supplies needed to bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to the areas with long histories of poverty. Animals not only provide food, but also a source of reliable income, such as agricultural products like milk, eggs, and honey which can be traded or sold at market.

Rothfuss’s organization, Worldbuilders, allows donators to purchase items like chickens, tree seedlings or well installations which provides the supplies need for Heifer Internationals mission.

Cards Against Humanity was created by Highland Park High School alum for a New Year’s Eve party, using Apples to Apples as an influence. Co-creator Ben Hantoot has cited experiences with games, such as Magic: The Gathering, Balderdash, and Charades, as inspirations with Mad Libs as the most direct influence.

In December 2010, a Kickstarter campaign was started to finance the game, meeting its goal of $4,000 in two weeks. When it ended at the end of January 2011, they had raised over $15,000, just under 400% of its original goal, which allowed the creators to add fifty more cards to the set.

This is not the first time Cards Against Humanity has been involved with a charitable cause. Previous proceed donations include the Wikimedia Foundations, several educational projects through DonorsChoose, scholarships for women going into STEM and the Chicago Design Museum.

It has been stated that the company has generated at least $12 million in revenue since 2011. The approximate donation amount from the small list of their ventures above is around $670,000.

 

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THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME Soundtrack Goes Vinyl

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While debatable if The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a good game, most Nintendo fans will admit it has a really fun soundtrack. Materia Collective, a label created to produce and release music alongside creative interpretations and arrangements of new and classic game scores, teamed with indie publishing label iam8bit for a new vinyl release of the Ocarina Soundtrack.

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The album called Hero of Time will not sound like the music gamers heard on the classic Nintendo 64 game. The Koji Kondo’s original score will be re-recorded by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, composed and arranged by Eric Buchholz, who has promised to “breathe new life” in to the classic Ocarina of Time score. Buchholz is no stranger to the world of Zelda, touring video game concerts globally, which include The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony and The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.

04_hero_of_time_discs

Ryan Brinkerhoff provided the original artwork which looks more stylish than the actual game, showing Hyrul Field in the day and at dusk. The albums will be pressed into 180-gram heavyweight colored records in green and purple with Rupee designs. They will be placed in a gold foil-stamped sleeve that will have a die-cut cover in the shape of an ocarina and a Triforce design in the rear.

Ocarina of Time was one of the peak moments in the Zelda franchise. It was released in 1998 and became one of the best-selling titles for the Nintendo 64. This set is not licensed by Nintendo and was initially funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised $51,963.00 with 1,003 backers that was started in September 2016

The 64-piece orchestra will perform the music live for the recording in Bratislava, Slovakia next month. Other video game scores they have recorded include Warhawk for Sony and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for EA.

Pre-orders for the $40.00 package began on December 9 and will be available during the second quarter of 2017.

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Annapurna Pictures Expands Into Interactive Video Games

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Annapurna Pictures has decided to expand into the gaming industry. They have established an interactive division that will focus on producing and publishing video games called Annapurna Interactive.

Megan Ellison, founder and CEO, stated that she’s had a long passion for video games, citing Nintendo’s 1998 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as her all-time favorite. Her focus for Annaurna Interactive is to develop “personal, emotional, and original games” that will push the boundaries of interactive content.

The artistry and diversity of interactive storytelling is exciting, and we look forward to exploring the limitless possibilities in gaming. We want to empower artists across this medium to make Annapurna Interactive their home, and I believe we’ve assembled the perfect team to make that happen.

They are set to release two games in the spring of 2017.

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The first is Jason Roberts’ Gorogoa, a hand illustrated puzzle game. The screen splits into a grid comprised of tiles, each acting as a window into the game’s world. The idea is to arrange the tiles, moving them next to or on top of each other.  The player can also enter the tiles to affect the illustrated worlds within, with simple and joyful interactions. To move forward, the player not only has to arrange the composition of the tiles, but discover the connections between them. Currently Annapurna Interactive’s website lists this for PC and iOS.

The second game is What Remains of Edith Finch from Giant Sparrow, who’s first game was The Unfinished Swan in 2012. It is first person perspective, following Edith Finch as she researches her family history to find out why she is the last Finch alive. She discovers eccentric characters through the stories, ranging from the 1900’s through present day. Each story ends with a death, and together, aim to capture what it’s like to be “humbled and astonished by the vast and unknowable world around us.” What Remains of Edith Finch is listed for PlayStation 4 and PC.

They also plan on releasing games from other industry talents, including developer Funomena and creative director Keita Takahashi, the creator of the Katamari Damacy franchise and Mountain Games, led by Ken Wong, who was lead designer for the mobile puzzle app, Monument Valley.

Four executives have been hired specifically for Annapurna Interactive: Nathan Gary and Deborah Mars from Sony Computer Entertainment America’s PlayStation group; and Hector Sanchez, former producer at PlayStation and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; and Jeff Legaspi, previously with Santa Monica Studio. Together, the team’s credits include Journey, God of War, Mortal Kombat, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Flower, and Fat Princess.

The five-year-old Annapurna Pictures’ film credits include the recently released Sausage Party, Weiner-Dog, Zero Dark Thirty, 20th Century Women, and Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some.  They are currently in post-production on Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Untitled Detroit Project and is developing and adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

 

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Steve Carell To Star in MINECRAFT Movie

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Variety is reporting that Warner Bros. and Steve Carell are close to finalizing a deal for him to star in Minecraft, a movie based on the second best-selling video game of all time. This is the first big casting announcement for the film.

headshot_stevecarellCurrently Carell has starred in commercial films like Crazy Stupid Love and Anchorman 2. More recently, he was in Woody Allen’s Café Society and recently wrapped up Battle of the Sexes with Emma Stone.

Creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rob McElhenny, has signed on to direct. He and screenwriter Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman, Pan) are penning the script. Mean Girls’ Jill Messick and Roy Lee are producing through his Vertigo Entertainment production company. Warner Bros. approached Lee’s company after they acquired the rights to the video game franchise in February 2016 from Swedish Developer Mojang AB.

Minecraft debuted in 2009. Players create avatars to build cube-rich environments as they battle nocturnal monsters in a 3D world. Multiple game play modes such as survival, creative, and adventure, are available.

Since the game is not set with a traditional story based narrative, it is not sure the direction McElhenney will go with the film. However, the freedom that comes with the lack of a story line has been part of the games appeal, allowing them to boast 100 million players globally.

Telltale Games developed and published Minecraft: Story Mode, which is an episodic point-and-click graphic adventure video game based on Minecraft. They released the five-episode game between October 2015 and March 2016 with three additional downloadable episodes in mid-2016. It is unsure these episodes will inspire McElhenney, however, the trailer for Story Mode can provide a feel of how the Minecraft movie might look.

The movie is set to be released May 25, 2019.

 

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8Bits: Talking About the Video Game Voice Actors Strike

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In recent weeks, the video game industry has been hit with a SAG-AFTRA union strike by voice actors. The negotiations for a new deal have been going on for a long while, and an agreement still isn’t in place. Just how much impact on a game does the voice talent have? Do you play a game for the story content? For the graphics? For the DLC content? For the cast?

The panel: Marie Lim, Lauren Garrison, Kathryn Sanders, Jared Hawkins




Tim Miller to Produce SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

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Fresh off the news that director Tim Miller would no longer be in the captain’s chair for Deadpool 2, word comes via The Hollywood Reporter that he’s now working with Sony to develop a film adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog.

headshot_timmillerSony Pictures will work with Miller and his Blur Studio partner Jeff Fowler for the CG/live-action combo film based on the popular series of video games produced by Sega. Fowler is set to make his directorial debut. The two will produce along with Neal H. Moritz of the Fast and Furious movies, and Miller will also executive produce.

Miller says, “Jeff is an incredible director with strong story instincts. The world of Sonic presents the perfect opportunity for him to leverage his experience in animation to bring new dimension to this iconic character.” The two were nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for their short animated film Gopher Broke.

Sonic made his debut in 1991, and he quickly became one of the most recognizable video game characters. More than 350 million copies of the games have sold worldwide. The story centers around Sonic and his friends as they race around the game world as they fight to foil the world-domination plots of Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik. The villain’s goal is to collect the powerful Chaos Emeralds and rule the world.

The first Sonic was a platform game originally developed so Sega could have a mascot. Wildly successful, it has spawned a franchise spanning at least twenty-three game titles, including two set for 2017: Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017. The character has also appeared in other media and crossover games with characters such as Mario from the Nintendo franchise.

The new Sonic the Hedgehog runs into theaters in 2018.

 

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