The new Xbox has been revealed to the world and it is clear at least for now that this new box is more about taking over your living room as a all-in-one media hub than it is about being the game machine we’ve all hoped it would be.
The Xbox One wants to be the Picture-in-Picture, live TV, Skype monster that you might have been waiting for but with a smattering of games announced at this presser we can only hope that E3 will provide the stage for games that we want.
Most of the Kinect functionality like “live switching” looked cool but gimmicky and not for mainstream gamers. I’m still not sold on voice commands for most of my console needs and going this route makes me want to see the interface and navigation even more.
Lots of unknown factors are still abound, backwards compatibility is a huge one and I wonder if the addition of a Blu-Ray drive might kill hopes for that. They might figure a cloud based solution but nothing has been discussed yet.
*UPDATE* – A Polygon.com article just relayed that message that backwards compatibility will NOT be in the Xbox One due to hardware architecture changes
Don Mattrick has killed the notion of the “always on” box in a interview shortly after the press conference with Geoff Keighley of Gametrailers.com but information popping up on Wired.com states that “secondhand players” will have to pay a fee to play games already purchased.
“Wired reports that game discs must first be installed onto the Xbox One and, if owners want to use the disc with a second account, that owner would be given the option to pay a fee and install the game from the disc. This suggests that, once installed, games may no longer require their discs.”
This sounds like a direct blow to the used market held by Gamestop and possibly Gamefly, and depending on the price of said fee could hurt gamers as well.
A couple of game announcements like a new Forza game & a new IP called Quantum Break by Remedy studios (formerly Infinity Ward head honchos) showed little and will presumably get more shine during the E3 conference.
EA Sports dropped some new info on all of their franchises with a montage of what graphical advancements have been made. It looked impressive but not overly so.
Also MS revealed that they will have their own version of the “share” functionality that Sony showed earlier this year. No snappy name as of yet but I’m sure it’s coming.
Overall, the presser was decent. The box physically doesn’t wow me and is HUGE, the services don’t jump out at me and we won’t see any games for another three weeks. I think they had a great chance to capitalize on the things Sony missed out on and they just didn’t hit the mark like I’d hoped.
We will continue to follow up on whatever new findings come about and share them with you once they drop, so continue to check out the site for updates and new news. It looks like E3 this year will have lots in store and hopefully some new and exciting games for all of us to salivate over.
Let us know what you thought of the conference, any takeaways you found interesting and also anything you are excited/disappointed about below!!
Here is the reveal video:
Here is the Press Release from MS that breaks down a bunch of the bits and pieces.
REDMOND, Wash. — May 21, 2013 — A new vision for the future comes to life today as Microsoft Corp. unveils Xbox One , the all-in-one gaming and entertainment system created for today and the next generation. At Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company showcased how Xbox One puts you at the center of all your games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype.
“Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device,” said Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Our unique, modern architecture brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment.”
Introducing Xbox One
With Xbox One, games push the boundaries of realism, and TV obeys your commands. Say “Xbox On” to launch your personalized Xbox One Home screen, discover what is popular on TV or see friends’ latest gaming achievements all using the most natural interface — your voice. The more you interact with Xbox One, the more it gets to know you and learns what you like. Some of the breakthrough Xbox One features that put you at the center of your living room entertainment include the following:
• TV on Xbox One. Navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your Xbox One. Microsoft is committed to bringing live TV through various solutions to all the markets where Xbox One will be available.
• Home. Turn on your entertainment system with two powerful words, “Xbox On,” and a custom-tailored Home dashboard welcomes you with your favorite games, TV and entertainment.
• Snap. Do two things at once on the biggest screen in your home. Use Snap to jump into a multiplayer battle while watching your favorite movie, talk with friends on Skype while watching live TV, or track your fantasy team on TV as you watch the big game and more.
• Skype for Xbox One. Specially designed for Xbox One, talk with friends on your TV in stunning HD, or for the first time ever, hold group Skype calls on your TV.
• Trending. Stay on top of what is hot on TV by discovering the entertainment that is popular among your friends, and see what is trending within the Xbox community.
• OneGuide.,  Find your favorite entertainment easily, searching by network, name or time, all with the sound of your voice and presented in a tailored program guide.
To create the most advanced Xbox system ever designed for games, TV and entertainment, Microsoft created a state-of-the-art gaming operating system and fused it with an equally amazing entertainment platform, so you will not have to switch inputs to watch TV or play a game. An eight-core, x86 processor and more than 5 billion transistors helps make lag and load times a thing of the past, so you can instantly jump between a game and your entertainment at lightning speed or run a host of apps right alongside your game with no loss in performance.Introducing Xbox One titles and exclusives
Gaming on Xbox One immerses gamers in cinematic worlds that look like real life, with characters that feel more human than ever before. AAA blockbuster titles unveiled for Xbox One include the following:
• “Forza Motorsport 5” from Turn 10 Studios is the latest edition of the highest-rated racing franchise of the past 10 years. Built from the ground up to take advantage of Xbox One and the infinite power of the cloud, no game better delivers the sensation of being behind the wheel. “Forza Motorsport 5” sets a new bar for racing games and will be available exclusively for Xbox One at launch.
• “Call of Duty: Ghosts” is the next generation of “Call of Duty” and a stunning leap forward for the franchise. It delivers an all-new world, an all-new cast of characters and an all-new story, built on a new, next-generation engine. The next-generation technical innovations built to support the incredible gameplay advancements make this the most beautiful and immersive “Call of Duty” experience yet. Activision and Microsoft also announced the renewal of their close partnership that will see both the return of the “Call of Duty® Championship,” presented by Xbox, as well as all-new downloadable content debuting first and exclusively on the Xbox platform.
• “FIFA 14,” “Madden NFL 25,” “NBA LIVE 14,” and “EA SPORTS UFC” from EA SPORTS will change the way consumers experience and play sports games. Driven by the new EA SPORTS Ignite engine, these new EA SPORTS games will deliver massive innovations in human intelligence, true player motion and living worlds. Adding to its commitment to Xbox One, EA SPORTS also announced the promise of exclusive content to be revealed in the coming months.
• “Quantum Break” from Remedy Entertainment is a revolutionary entertainment experience from the creators of “Max Payne” and “Alan Wake” that blurs the line between gaming and TV by integrating drama and gameplay into one seamless, uniquely immersive experience. How you play the game impacts the show, and the show informs how you play the game.
In addition to the amazing lineup of games coming to Xbox One, Microsoft unveiled exclusive content partnerships with some of the top names in TV, sports and entertainment.
• “Halo” television series. Award-winning filmmaker, director and producer, Steven Spielberg will executive-produce an original “Halo” live-action television series with exclusive interactive Xbox One content, created in partnership with 343 Industries and Xbox Entertainment Studios.
• National Football League (NFL). A multiyear, landmark partnership will deliver the ultimate interactive NFL television experiences for the next-generation Xbox One and leverage Microsoft devices and services to evolve both in-game and on the sideline. The NFL on Xbox will redefine broadcast experiences through innovations around Skype, Xbox SmartGlass and player-worn technology; add an all-new fantasy football solution for the biggest screen in the house; and create a personalized NFL destination only available on Xbox One.
Introducing a new generation of Xbox Live
Xbox One is built to amplify an all-new generation of Xbox Live that is more powerful, more personal and more intelligent. Unleashing the virtually unlimited power of the cloud makes everything more convenient and accessible, from allowing games to be installed in segments so that gameplay can start quickly to updates downloading in the background. Save and store your personalized profile, games and entertainment in the cloud to access them anytime, from any Xbox One console. In addition, existing Xbox Live Gold Membership for Xbox 360 will seamlessly carry over to Xbox One. Xbox Live takes you deeper into the games you love with all-new features.
• Smart Match. A new Smart Match matchmaking system virtually eliminates waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding people you want to play with while you are enjoying other activities — reputation fundamentally matters and helps find best matches.
• Game DVR. A dedicated Game DVR captures and accesses your magic moments, all saved to the cloud. Along with sharing tools, you will have the most amazing bragging rights with Xbox Live.
• Living Games. Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and advanced artificial intelligence can learn to play like you, so friends can play against your shadow.
• Expanded achievements. A new and expanded achievements system captures video of your epic moments, continues to grow a game’s achievements over time and rewards you in new ways, and your Gamerscore carries over from Xbox 360.
• Xbox SmartGlass. Xbox SmartGlass is natively part of the Xbox One platform, built in from the beginning with the ability to quickly render content directly onto your device, and now more devices can connect at one time for multiplayer and shared entertainment.
Introducing the Xbox One look and feel
New Xbox One hardware is sleek and modern and complements any décor. The console is shaped in the 16:9 aspect ratio and employs a horizontal orientation optimized for its high-speed Blu-ray™ disc player. It is molded in a deep and rich liquid black color and includes a distinctive beveled edge.
The completely redesigned, revolutionary 1080p Kinect is more precise, more responsive and more intuitive. Its unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology let you reach into games and entertainment like never before by dramatically expanding its field of view and fidelity. It works in nearly any lighting condition, recognizes precise motion control from a slight wrist rotation, and distinguishes your voice even in a noisy room using advanced noise isolation.
The class-leading Xbox controller is refreshed with more than 40 technical and design innovations. Updated directional pad, thumb stick and ergonomic fit immerse all gamers in ways that are uniquely Xbox, and precision and control have been dramatically increased with all new vibrating impulse triggers. The Xbox One Wireless Controller is designed to work in concert with the new Kinect, allowing the two to be paired automatically to create seamless player syncing.
Xbox One will launch in markets around the world later this year. Visit the new Xbox Wire blog athttp://news.xbox.com for in-depth features on the new system, including photos and videos from the unveiling event and new and rotating content from Xbox. More details about Xbox One and blockbuster games will be explored at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.
Xbox is Microsoft’s premier entertainment brand for the TV, phone, PC and tablet. In living rooms or on the go, Xbox is home to the best and broadest games, as well as one of the world’s largest libraries of movies, TV, music, and sports. Your favorite games, TV and entertainment come to life in new ways through the power of Kinect, Xbox SmartGlass, and Xbox Live, the world’s premier social entertainment network. More information about Xbox can be found online at http://www.xbox.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Features and requirements are under development and may change prior to release. Available features and content may vary by country. Broadband Internet (ISP fees apply) and advanced TV hardware required. Games and media content sold separately. Xbox Live Gold Membership, paid subscription and other requirements apply for some Xbox Live features.
1 Live TV with Kinect navigation, Live TV with OneGuide, Trending, and NFL on Xbox available in U.S. at launch; anticipating global scale over time.
2 Kinect voice functionality only available in supported locales and languages.
3 At launch, Live TV will require a supported receiver device with HDMI output (sold separately).
4 Subject to geographical content restrictions.
5 Some Xbox Live content and features available on Xbox 360, including avatar content and some apps, are not available with Xbox Live on Xbox One.
6 In supported games.
*UPDATE 2* It looks like a story that just broke over at IGN states that the packed in Kinect will have to be attached to the Xbox One for it to function. Kids it just gets better. Here is the story
*UPDATE 3* a earlier story written on Wired.com discussing fees tied to used games has now been accused as false by Microsoft. Wired has edited their story but later on in he day another story run by Kotaku quoted Phil Harrison as saying indeed fees would be a part of the equation. This story was then disputed by a official Xbox support twitter account.
One thing is sure Microsoft need to wrangle in the messaging before E3 or the narrative will take its own shape. That will cause the next three weeks to be more about damage control and less about the reveal of their new system.
The world will focus on Microsoft today with the reveal of their newest gaming console, we didn’t want to be left out so we are sharing the live stream over on our Tumblr page.
The lights go up at 10A.M. PST and 1P.M. EST
For all the festivities, chatter and news check out: http://spawnpnt.tumblr.com/post/50989043628/xboxreveal
Thanks to Gamespot and Twitch for sharing the love and let us know what you thought about it all here or over on the tumblr page.
Less than 24 hours before the Xbox reveal, Sony sends the first salvo at Microsoft by dropping a teaser trailer for their E3 console reveal.
The Gaussian Blur on that new PS4 is amazing!!!
Although I doubt it will look as good as this, let’s hope it’s still purdy.
It’s only 44 seconds long, but this promo video might provide a glimpse of what Sony will be showing at E3 this year
The production looks professional and the splashes at the end all seem to fit the Sony mold. IF this is real, the PS4 is one sexy piece of hardware.
It looks like the find folks over at the MKIceVsFire Youtube channel might have found some juicy new information about the second round of DLC you would receive in the Injustice Season Pass.
Again all this is speculation BUT, if this turns out to be true this would be a total turn-around from what many people felt was a weak proposed DLC lineup.
Batgirl, the first leaked character has been confirmed by Ed Boon and Netherealm, so the assumption that the rest of that list should be true as well, if you missed that story and lineup check it out here.
The major additions to the possible leaked second round are Red Hood, Power Girl, Sub-Zero and the highly anticipated and wanted Martian Manhunter. People since day one have been clamoring for Manhunter to be in the game and if this comes to pass everyone should be really happy.
Here is a link to the Youtube video, thanks to MKIceVsFire again for always providing such awesome information, let’s hope these rumors are true!
Tell us what your thoughts on this possible roster update and how you are liking the game so far.
- Possible DLC Character Leak for Injustice: Gods Among Us? (thespawnpointblog.com)
- Batgirl confirmed for Injustice: Gods Among Us (destructoid.com)
This past week 505 Games and Snoop Lion put out a game called “Way of the Dogg” that is a Rhythm Heaven knock off with a revenge plot. The game seemed to come out of nowhere and from the reviews around the web, I doubt that it will really make any headway on its prospective gaming platforms. “Way of the Dogg” seems totally like a throwaway title with few redeeming qualities, and although I think the game will melt away into obscurity I do think the Snoop Dogg/Lion brand is still kind of awesome.
That made me ponder what fighting games would have been even more awesome with a smidgen of Snoop in the mix and thus I begat my top five list of characters that would have been way better if played by the D-O double G.
5 – Nicotine CaffeSnoop – Samurai Showdown Series
Reasons why Snoop would make a great Nicotine:
- Both have the special move to alter their opponent’s ability to control themselves.
- Snoop and Nicotine are known to take life lightly and are often seen smiling, even when fighting.
- Both have the ability to blow a small poisonous cloud at their opponent.
4. Smoop – Mortal Kombat series
Reasons why Snoop would make a great Smoke:
- Do I really have to say why? Really? C’Mon.
- Both are defined by being able to emit a cloud of smoke or vapor
- Both Smoke and Snoop have the power of invisibility but Snoop’s is special because it seems to only work around members of law enforcement.
3 – VolSnoop – Soul Calibur Series
Reasons why Snoop would make a great Voldo:
- Both are known for their eccentric behavior and style of dress
- Snoop and Voldo were trapped for long periods of time by both money and the hold of a powerful leader
- Like Voldo, Snoop’s character has revolved around a specific trait. Voldo has his karars and Snoop has his resemblance to a Doberman Pincher; both have made them extremely popular.
2- DhalSnoop – Street Fighter Series
Reasons why Snoop would make a awesome Dhalsim:
- They practically have the same physique
- Both are totally into meditation
- Both have multiple forms, a zen-like state and warrior state.
1- VertiSnoop – Primal Rage
Reasons Snoop would make an awesome Vertigo:
- Both Snoop and Vertigo are a mix of two different animals.
- Both have the power to hypnotize both friend and foe.
- Both are hell-bent on world domination.
We can see from this post that there is nothing that can’t benefit from adding a little Snoop to the mix. Games past, present and future can achieve greatness with this formula. If there are any other characters that you can think of that would be more Snooptactular please tell us in the comments below.
If you haven’t’ gotten enough of Bioshock Infinite’s sights and sounds you can snag some really cool ringtones for your phone today.
Along with a bunch of cool swag Irrational Games posted some sound files from various things in the game. My favorite is the Salt Machine one.
Check out them all out here:
The smash hit game Injustice: Gods Among Us has been one of the most anticipated games of the year not only because of Netherealm’s fighting game prowess but because of the diverse roster. With Ed Boon’s announcement of the Lobo as the first DLC character people have been waiting to find out who is next.
Some crafty gamers might have found out by digging into the game’s disc source code.
If the information proves to be correct the newest characters might be Lobo, Zod, Batgirl and surprise…. Scorpion
Check out the links here:
and the Youtube video from MKIceVsFire, a well pretty reliable MK source.
We will see how much of this holds water and if so how they play.
What do you think of the additions, tell us below in the comments.
Media Molecule’s next project is coming to a Playstation Vita near you on October 22. Tearaway’s papercraft art style, innovative touch control features and whimsical story will try to resurrect the struggling handheld and give folks a reason to care again before the launch of the PS4. I for one loved what I’ve seen so far and with MM’s track record, I am sure they will make a delightful and fun game.
They dropped some cool tidbits that you should check out here
I rolled on to my Facebook feed yesterday and to my surprise saw that PixelJunk was promoting a really cool contest for their game 4 A.M. If you haven’t heard of it, I posted a overview of the game some time back that had a great interview with Rowan Parker the lead designer of the game. Honestly I think this game’s existence is still the only reason to own a PS Move controller and is one of the best motion/music mash-ups games you can have with that peripheral. It is truly a one of a kind experience that you shouldn’t miss.
They are giving away a PixelJunk customized Sony Pulse Elite Headset and a Move controller signed by the whole 4 A. M. team!
Check their FB page for details: https://www.facebook.com/notes/pixeljunk/4am-spring-soundclash-win-pixeljunk-customized-sony-pulse-elite-headset/10151839761874972
After seeing this sweet swag I have to get my skills back on point. If you would like to see me perform check out and follow me on PSN under the name KAHJAH1
LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!!
We are about to turn another gaming corner in a couple of months. The jump to the new next-gen consoles is upon us, and we will go into a future of prettier and more expansive games. Ones which will bring a new level of fidelity and give game makers more interesting ways to tell stories.
This past week I was taken to a place that relishes in not going forward, a place that believes honoring and showcasing old school games is its life’s meaning. Digital Press in Clifton, NJ is a magical place for retro game lovers, a non-assuming place where people wear many hats. A friendly store clerk will go seamlessly from “perfecting” you in Street Fighter 3 to ringing up your Sega Master System purchase. Patrons are just as impressive, I think people should visit this place sometimes just for the overheard conversations. Then can totally run the gamut from anecdotal musings of gaming greatness to encyclopedic breakdowns of retro lore and strategy. DigitalPress is both fascinating for the laymen and nerdgasm inducing for the fanboy.
I wanted just to share some of the sights from that awesome day with you all and hope that you check out their site http://www.digitpress.com/ and give their storefront a visit. Arcade cabinets, gaming tournaments, geekdom and possibly cake pops await!
A huge thanks goes out to my friends Marc and Berit for taking me retro gaming mecca. I can’t wait to return, next time with money.
The Sony PS4 hypemobile officially revved its engine yesterday and started the next generation of console gaming. A two-week period of hype that began with a forty-five second trailer ended with a date. It looks like after a two-hour, TED-talk-esque performance they should have used the date for their E3 conference. I walked away more underwhelmed than anything, and Sony left me with more questions than answers.
I know it’s too early to see the console, I know it’s too early for a price. Sony needed tangible things to lay its hat on tonight and they were so abstract that it made me wonder if they can actually pull off what they are hoping to do.
Let’s break down the important takeaways from last night’s conference.
THE CONTROLLER – All the rumors and leaked dev kit pictures were true. A sleeker design, touch pad, new triggers and analog sticks. The infamous “share” button and light bar were there too. What I found interesting was how the new dualshock was constructed. It looks like the bottom part of the controller looks to be of a different material than the top. Maybe it’s just cosmetic or it could be functional. (Maybe less slippery?)
THE CAMERA – The new Playstation Camera looks more like a Kinect than its predecessor but smaller in form factor and possibly a little more advanced. This looks to be what the light bar on the controllers will interact with.
SOCIAL INTERACTIVITY – The “Share” button honestly is a damn cool idea. If Sony did learn something from its competition last generation it was to take some of the cool stuff the other guys have and put it into your tech. The On-Live platform’s community spectator feature is making the jump to the PS4. As a sports gamer, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS. This will be the ultimate trash talk button — no longer will people be able to run away from those $5 “oh so I didn’t beat you the other day in NBA2k right?” bets. Let me put this video up on my Facebook page for everyone to see.
The ability for people to also help you in games is a welcome addition; I know damn well I need a Dark Souls chaperone.
GAIKAI – This can’t be understated, if Sony can get this right it will be a game changer. From downloadable games being playable while still being downloaded, realistic backwards compatibility across multiple consoles, and giving the PS VITA a brand new life via real remote play. Gaikai will be the most talked about part of this new console if they can pull it off. With the US’s current internet infrastructure I honestly worry about this being as smooth as they think it should be. Early adopters will take the brunt of this hit for sure.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT- When Gueriilla Games got on stage, I hoped they wouldn’t show another Killzone game, but they did and it looked pretty and I didn’t care. I already know I will get pretty with a new console, show me something different. Same thing with Infamous and Diablo, these are established IP’s but that’s not what I came here for. Destiny would have wowed me if it wasn’t announced a couple days earlier.
HEY YOU FORGOT SOMETHING – If you aren’t going to show the console, talk about things you are going to put in the box, like the mic you said you are going to include. Instead of hearing this in the conference we learn this in a Press Release on the Playstation Blog. I don’t remember hearing anything about it during the conference and that is a mistake. I add this to the list because I honestly believe it’s a big deal. We know just how many people didn’t use their mics on the PS3 and how that doesn’t foster community. Telling people that a mic comes in the box just makes the deal sweeter and lets consumers know that this time you want people to play together and interact.
TOO LONG, TOO AKWARD – Last gen, one of the biggest knocks against Sony was that they didn’t know how to engage with the public, through PR or in the way that you interacted with their systems. This two hour dog and pony show totally could have been cut down to forty-five minutes or an hour. Front man after front man trying to conceptualize things that most gamers didn’t really care about did not help their cause. The lasting image of the four Bungie guys on stage at the end of the conference looking like an awkward boy band with synchronized robot arms will never leave me. Sony needed more Jack Trenton and less Jack from Lost. They need a “face” for the company — they still need their J. Allard.
NOT ENOUGH NEW GAMES – You have a dedicated event with the whole world watching and you kinda stiff people on the new stuff. Two new games, with only one being partially demoed. This is not the way to make people want your system especially if you are going to wait to pull anything else out until E3. This gives your competition time to figure out a plan of attack and focus on things you left out of your own showcase. I bet Microsoft will show all of the goods when and if they pull anything out before E3 and they will take the spotlight and momentum Sony should have had.
I think for all the hype and set up for this “game changing” announcement we really didn’t get lots of meat on the bone. Sony still has a way to go before they convince me and many other gamers that the PS4 is a necessity and a must have.
For the uninitiated, the idea of making a game is daunting; impossible, in fact, for most. Coming up with a concept, making a working prototype, fleshing it out, and then showing it to a room of strangers must be the most anxiety-ridden thing I can think of. This is the road many developers travel, and how many of the games you’ve come to know and love have been made. Budding game-makers in the independent space go to conferences like IndieCade to meet other devs and have their ideas shown to new audiences, many times for the first time.
I travelled out to Astoria, Queens to the Museum of the Moving Image this past weekend to check out the first ever IndieCade East, and meet and talk to some of these brave individuals. IndieCade was a part of E3 before starting its own independent event on the west coast in 2009. Since then, it has gradually expanded, and this was the event’s first time on the east coast.
The first IndieCade East included some of the west coast event’s core components: dozens of exhibitor booths scattered around the museum, speaker sessions and game demos, Game Slam (like a poetry slam for game devs), and GameJam (a turbo-dev session where devs start making a game on site and compete in rounds to win a prize). The event wasn’t as big as say PAX, but was pretty well-trafficked by folks from the east coast gaming scene, and seems like it has potential to grow.
Besides the actual Game Jams and discussion panels there were really cool exhibits with old school game cabinets, retro consoles and even some current gen setups. My favorites of these were seeing a working Virtual Boy and Portal 2 played on a huge screen. Seeing families game together was a blissful moment, as well, one that I will hopefully be able to experience and share with my future children.
The games and concepts I saw from game-makers there were exciting and gave just a glimpse of what a dedicated, imaginative developer can do if inspired to make the games and experiences they love.
Huge thanks goes out to the folks at IndieCade East for letting us crash their party last minute. Massive Kudos to Matt Parker, Nick Fortugno and their staff for putting together an awesome con.
Here are some of the sights from IndieCade East 2013:
Many humbled thanks for my friend Jeff for coming through in a pinch and being my camera/sound bro.
And lastly, thank you to all those folks featured in this IndieCade recap. I am amazed by your beautiful and inspired work. It really makes me appreciate the hard work and long hours that you’ve all put to make thoughtful and fun entertainment.
The “SoundShapers” is a series of articles and interviews that spotlight a different member of the Sound Shapes community weekly. Check out other posts here.
This week’s shaper is a mainstay of the community and has made some pretty cool levels. I was attracted to some of his creations because I really like symmetrical levels. Many of this shaper’s levels are great because they are, in the words of Tart himself: short, sweet and to the point. They offer a challenge to both novice and veteran players and show that he has firm grasp of the platforming genre.
This week’s Shaper is Old_PopTarts
My two favorite levels from Tarts were “Escape from Guantanamo Bay” and “Say CHEESE!!”(1sl).
“Escape from Guantanamo Bay” – was really fun to play because of how the red elements are placed in the level. The “kick box” enemies were placed in such a way that it reminded me of the game “Plinko” from “The Price is Right” TV show. You have to time out both your jump to avoid the boxes and where you land on the safe areas. It was a small part of the level but stuck with me after playing it.
“Say CHEESE!!” – is a level that resembles what you would see through a camera’s viewfinder. You can see this from the level’s community screenshot but it looks even cooler when you play it. The level is pretty straightforward: dodge all the red dotted lines on the periphery while trying to gauge your jumps on and off the circular treadmill. It’s simplistic in its design, but challenging to finish. It took me more time than I thought it would to complete, but I felt like I accomplished something once I was done.
After playing Tart’s levels I reached out to him for a quick interview:
TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
TART: State-side born in a town called Peoria in Illinois. You may have heard ”If it plays in Peoria, it’ll play anywhere.” I’ve been a gamer since the first Nintendo system all the way to the Vita. I’ve always been into platformers and who doesn’t love music? A game that mashes them both intrigued me. I’m familiar with Jonathon Mak from the game Everyday Shooter so this game definitely caught my eye. It’s a very interesting concept and works very well in action. It’s a gem that I hope everyone has a chance to play!!
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
TART: I like plan out my music first and get the basic layout of each screen before I start to shape my level. I find it’s much easier to start with symmetrical shapes for the whole screen and tweak from there. If you rush and just place notes randomly, there’s a chance your level won’t be as polished. You can have a whole song done but as you progress you replace certain sounds with entities from the game to compliment or replace without compromising the integrity of your song.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
TART: I had an unwanted visitor in my home back in May, so unfortunately I don’t have access to a PS3 at this moment. Soo I do all my Shaping on the PS Vita, which is extremely intuitive and very well thought out. I favor the touchscreen/pad in tandem. It really makes shaping and positioning a breeze.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
TART: I would say my favorite level I’ve made is “Escape from Guantanamo Bay”. It was my first fully fledged level, albeit short, sweet and to the point, I believe it’s a well rounded level. I’m currently working on my next Sound Shapes level and it’s a bit more ambitious than “Escape from Guantanamo Bay” and I am having a blast making it. I really can’t wait to release it and see what others think of it!!
TSP: What is your favorite level you’ve played and why?
TART: Picking a favorite level I’ve played is an extremely tough choice. There are many works I am fond of by creators such as: Daftbomb, TheBeejAbides and TonyTough among countless others. Favorite levels from each would be “Cheer-up Buttercup” by Daftbomb, and “A Nightmare on Church Street” by TonyTough each respectively and in no particular order. If I missed you I am terribly sorry!!
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
TART: Save and save often! I’ve heard of hours lost on projects due to nasty bug that is to be resolved soon. I have fortunately not had this issue (knock on wood.) I am still learning as I go, so I may not be that helpful. I gladly pass that on to Daftbomb and his instructional levels for just this! I will point out that you must take your time and try not to rush if you want your level to be polished and fun.
TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better?
TART: It has been mentioned before, but I would love an option to set the tempo for screens individually to set the right tone and send the right message. I would also love to see new Sound Shapes entities and new color palettes. An option to cue strings of levels and play them back to back would also be welcome. I would have loved to have a “ghost” mode as well but have been told Queasy Games would need a fully deterministic engine to do so :/
I would like to first thank Queasy Games and John Mak for this lovely gem. Everyone who even remotely likes platformers and music should give this game a go. I would also like to thank Kahlief for this opportunity to share my thoughts. Lastly I would like to thank the all the creators for giving me tons of content to obsess over! A special shout-out to Redespair, MilkManiac, DUSTINISGOOD and BeejAbides for setting such high bars on speed-runs and look forward to meeting you all on the Sticky Ball courts. ^_^
Big thanks goes out to Tarts for being a part of the series and sharing his thoughts on his work. A huge congrats also goes out to the SoundShapes crew for winning “Best handheld and Song in a Game” at this year’s VGA’s. Two really dope DLC launches this month wrap up a pretty amazing year for us as Shapers and there is more to come. I can’t wait to see what new levels come about from all these goodies. As for us at the Spawnpoint, we are wrapping up our #SoundShapers series next week and we hope to see you there.
With 2K13 just around the corner the information well is starting to flow. The 2kSports team talked about having 4000 new animations in the game and this video shows all the hard work they put in.
The shot, dribble and contact information were what really impressed me with this one. I can’t wait for this to drop next month!
I follow many folks in the gaming community on social media. I appreciate what they bring not only to our favorite medium, but also what they do to help grow and expand the communities that we all inhabit.
What I don’t appreciate is the misogyny, sexism, and racism that has permeated online gaming within the past ten years. It is a cancer that is ruining gaming for everyone involved but shows no sign of slowing down. I bring this all up because during my usual nightly Instagram crawl I came across this photo from fighting game community member Sherry “SherryJenix” Nhan.
I had to double take for a moment because besides being a great player, Jenix is pretty well-known in the fighting game scene for breaking down some of the barriers that have befallen many of the women combatants in a super male-dominated field. She has gone to all the tournaments, performed extremely well, and has gotten enough exposure that she was even asked to help debut Street Fighter Cross Tekken in Capcom’s Cross Assault “reality show” earlier this year.
It has become more and more difficult for gamers of color, women, and members of the LGBT community to game without the need to cordon themselves off in muted match limbo or party chats because the rest of the world hasn’t grown up. We’ve gotten to the point that even the good guys are being attacked by other members of the community for speaking out against bigotry. A couple of recent examples include Anita Sarkeesian getting trolled while trying to address some of the video game stereotypes that involve women, and the Gamers Against Bigotry pledge site getting hacked and all petition signatures erased.
What I wonder is, why did she feel like this was ok? It’s not funny for many reasons and does nothing to further the push to make the FGC more inclusive or help remove the societal stereotypes that come along with being part of a specific group.
Knowing how hard I and others root for women like her is what makes this incident so upsetting. We all know where the word that she used derives from, and at this point no one needs to use it or any remixed version of it. The Hip-Hop’s community’s co-opting of this word has enabled people to use a historical epithet like it’s an ok thing. I don’t agree with its use in either case; I would like to start the process of removing it from everyone’s lexicon.
I’m sure Sherry thought this was supposed to be a joke, one that you can just flippantly post on the web and think that people don’t care. Maybe next time she will use her stature and platform to promote something we can all get behind and not this kind of ignorance.
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
So after some initial blowback in the comments section of the above photo Nhan issued a Twitter post that initially defends her “joke” by stating that people need to “get a sense of humor”
Which lead some folks in the community to jump on the “well a black dude started it” bandwagon:
“To those who got offended, I apologize”.
Not that she actually felt any remorse for what she said or repeated, not that she took responsibility for posting racially insensitive things but she is sorry that you didn’t get the joke.
The thing that I find most problematic is the co-signing to things that really shouldn’t be co-signed. We as gamers need to use our words in ways that aren’t destructive. We need to tell our fellow gamers when they step out of line and need to educate them on why.
Although she took the photo down, blocked folks who were offended and made her Instagram account private it doesn’t change the fact that she and other people still feel like this is an ok thing to do, you can see some of this even in the comments below.
People need to understand that great power carries great responsibility. Let her know what you think @sherryjenix
Looks like Borderlands 2 has shot itself both in the head and in the foot.
You can file this story under “here’s some male privilege all up in yo face”. One of the lead developers of the highly anticipated Borderlands 2 refers to the new “Mechromancer” class’s skill tree as “Girlfriend Mode”. The character is supposed to be for new players to the series and has a lot of assists built in to make it easier for people to play the game and learn its systems.
Eurogamer has all the details on this one and you can check their article here:
For a game with such strong and fun female characters to play with, it makes these “personal anecdotes” even more saddening to hear.
Developers have to understand who is buying their games and how the demographics of gaming have already changed. Women are the fastest growing section of the gaming market and have already proven that they can rock a mouse, keyboard or controller with the best of them.
Stop it already.
In an effort to both get away from the 24-hour news cycle and prove my superior knowledge of random trivia, I downloaded the new iOS/Android game from Comedy Central and 2KPlay called “Indecision”.
The game starts with the three factions (Republicans, Democrats and Independents) on rising bars to show whose group is leading the race. This is determined by how many users have won their games based on which party they’ve chosen. You then choose your lovely avatar and customize them with all the adornments you have at your disposal. As you can see below my faux me looks amazing with his smart bowler hat and 500˚ suntan.
Once your frankenyou is done, jumping into a game is super easy. You can play random people or, if you’ve connected your Facebook account, snagging a willing friend to play is a snap as well. Unlike many FB-connected games, this one is way less intrusive than most and will not bug you asking you multiple times for help. (Thank you 2K.)
The goal of the game is to answer questions so that you can collect “voters” to place upon a map of the United States. Each state has a number attributed to it, and the first person to 100 wins the game and helps their political party overall.
What I really like and appreciate about the game is that the questions aren’t just about recent politics. There have been questions that have gone as far back as the 60′s. This feels like it gives everyone a pretty fair playing field to work with when answering questions. I am no history buff but have done pretty well with trivia from the B.K. Era (Before Kahlief).
If you are having trouble figuring out which Vice President couldn’t spell “potato”, you have the option of using the game’s version of “life-lines”. Politically and aptly named the “Investigative Committee” and “Ballot Peek”.
You can use these as many times as you want as long as you have the money to spend on them. You can use money for life-lines and to purchase new wares for your avatar. You can earn in-game money by leveling up.
The best tactics you can use in your quest for continental domination are your “Political Aides”
These tools can be implemented to give your side a quick boost or turn the tide if you are down big.
The Filibuster: slows your opponent down when they are answering a question. This is super helpful in case of ties — the tie breaker is determined by who answered their questions the fastest.
The Recount: instantly gives you an extra three markers to place on the map.
The Smear Campaign: randomly will take a state away from your opponent.
I’ve come from behind a couple of rounds by using one or a combination of these. You have to choose wisely though because once you do they will not be available to you for a couple of rounds.
Indecision is really fun — asynchronous games like this are perfect for mobile devices. You will at some point find that you are running into repeat questions but at the end of the day you get an awesome experience that is totally free.
While doing my usual morning websurfing I found a link to a awesome article about a new peripheral for your iPhone. The Bladepad from Bladepad LLC has started looking for funding via Kickstarter for their combo Bluetooth gamepad/case.
Their Kickstarter page lists some of the specs and features of the control pad, here are some of them below:
- Dual Analog Sticks
- Full Console Controller Button Layout (D-pad, ABXY buttons, Start, Select, L1, L2, R1, R2)
- Full Back-Lighting (D-pad, Analogs sticks, ABXY buttons) that can be turned on or off during gameplay
- Premium Protective Case, which features a completely smooth back (no awkward bumps or raises)
- Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy Connection
- Micro USB Charging Port
- Dual Charging Cable; Charge both your iPhone and Bladepad at the same time! (Plug the standard USB end into a power source and the other end of the cord splits into a standard 30 pin charger for your iPhone and a micro USB for Bladepad)
As of today they are at around 11k or their 55k goal. With a deadline of August 26th they are going to need a bunch of help getting the word out. Having harped on how awful virtual sticks are and how they are killing the viability of the mobile gaming space, I really hope they succeed in getting to their goals.
I also wonder how many devs will jump on board if they see this add-on gaining momentum. It would be great to see what they could do with a “real” way to control games.
What do you think of this project? Would you back it? Let us know in the comments below and spread the word. Here is there Twitter Account
If you can’t tell by the headline that I am excited, let me just say…..I’M EXCITED!
Next Tuesday Sound Shapes comes out on the PlayStation Vita. If you have friends that have a Vita and love music, this might be the game that makes them love their handheld again. Made by Jonathan Mak of Queasy Games Studio (creator of Everyday Shooter) and renown musician Shaw-Han Liem (robotandproud.com) Sound Shapes combines platforming and music creation in a way I’ve never seen before. The essence of the game has you creating music within a level by platforming and “revealing” sounds in the gamespace. The sounds that you find can then be used to create your own levels and soundscapes.
From what I’ve heard in previews and promotional material the music in the game is both wide-ranging and offers lots of genres to choose from. In addition to the music that Liem has constructed for the game, heavy hitters like Beck, Jim Guthrie and Deadmau5 have also contributed tracks.
If you’ve noticed, lately we have been profiling games with awesome music on SpawnPoint. Games that involve both using and creating music in new and innovative ways. Sound Shapes looks like it will be another game audiophiles and beatmakers will love! The music creation mechanics integrate so well with the platforming level creation that I can’t wait to see what people come up with. Let’s hope the ability to share your creations is somewhere in there as well.
Here is a video of Jonathan showing off just how easy it is to make not only a beautiful level but a great sounding one:
You can pre-order the game on PSN for $14.99 and download it when it drops on Tuesday.
We would love to do an interview on this game with Jonathan and Shaw-Han. If you would like to hear it, share the article and send them a tweet at.
There aren’t many games that will let you dress up as a priest to strategically hunt down and whack an enemy in the forehead with an axe, but if that is your cup of tea, Square Enix has the game for you!!
Hitman Absolution’s PR took a bit of a hit pre-E3 this year due to some unfortunate marketing that involved some sexy nuns and extreme violence upon said nuns. It looks as if the folks behind the game have gotten things under control and put out an AWESOME developer gameplay video earlier today.
Eighteen minutes later, I sit at my desk with my mouth agape and an urge to both spend money and wear a mechanic’s outfit. I marvel at the sheer number of options you have at your disposal when it comes to killing enemies. They range from uber-simplistic run-and-gun shooting, to living Rube Goldberg-esque mouse traps that will take multiple play-throughs to explore.
I jokingly say that I would love to see the wireframes and decision trees that comprise all of this madness. These guys must be amazing chess players.
Take a look at the video and tell us what you think in the comments below or on the social networks.
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So if you haven’t been keeping up with Assassin’s 3, you’ve been missing out on some redonkulous new gameplay. The new systems they’ve implemented really make the game look like something fresh and new.
Here is the latest walkthrough that takes place in one of its newest settings. Boston!
I’m really digging the new locomotion animations and my goodness the combat looks sick! The Assassin’s Creed franchise looks like it’s both hitting its stride and also changing the game at the same time.
Assassin’s Creed 3 hits stores in October this year.
As a child of the 70’s I remember two very distinct things growing up. I can remember hearing my first Hip-Hop song (Sucker MC’s) and playing my first videogame (Space Invaders). I can recall hearing my uncle play the record on an old turntable that caught every pop and hiss of the wax while it revolved, and being mesmerized by the feel of the kick drum that boomed from our stereo’s speakers. I also remember when my Grandmother brought home this box of awesome-smelling plastic called an Atari. It wafted this subtle aroma of non-biodegradable plastic and rubber and came with this meat mallet of a controller with the one red button. So simplistic in its form factor, but this design has cemented it in the bedrock of videogaming’s foundation.
I talk about these two very different things so fondly because they (along with my family) have influenced and constructed huge pieces of the person I am today. Hip-Hop culture imbued a style of talk, dress, self-confidence and a way to navigate the world around me. Videogames opened my mind to new worlds, concepts and language. It provided a place for me in which intelligence and logic were not the exceptions but the rule. They both ran parallel but for me also took on a symbiotic relationship; one that today is the basis for most of my friendships and social interaction.
This crossover in my life made me think about some of the games I’ve played over the years that best embody what “The Grandfather of Hip-Hop,” Africa Bambaataa, calls “The Four Pilliars of Hip-Hop”. They consist of MCing, DJing, B-Boying and Graffiti Writing. Here are some of my favorite examples.
Def Jam RapStar released by Konami in 2010 was the Hip-Hop version of karaoke. The “watch the bouncing ball” gameplay left a lot to be desired but was the best thing most home console gamers had to satiate their inner battle rapper. To date this is the only game that even comes close to replicating or giving the player the feel that they are emceeing.
ToeJam and Earl -
PaRapper The Rapper -
It all really started in 1997 with Beatmania, a game from Japanese developer Konami. One of the earliest home console rhythm games, it mixed both a simulated “keyboard” setup with a turntable for scratching. It was hugely popular in Japan but much less so here in the states.
The game that really made an impact on this front was DJ Hero from Activision. It incorporated most of the gameplay from the Guitar Hero series and mixed in its own version of DJing notation to make the game feel like you were actually mixing and scratching. The game surprisingly wasn’t a big hit. My guess is that this was more due to the oversaturation of rhythm games in the market, and less because it was a Hip-Hop game. (Though you could argue that Rap music is harder to use because of some of the profanity and repetitive hooks in most commercial songs, and that fact could have led to the disappointing sales.)
There is one game that comes to mind when talking about this pillar. B-Boy from FreeStyleGames launched in 2006 with not only authentic breakdancing moves in but an awesome soundtrack that had some of the most recognizable songs in B-Boy battle history. The motion capture that must have gone into that game must have been extensive, looking at how smoothly the animations blended into each other. While watching a couple of YouTube clips, I wondered what a next-gen version of this game would look like. I know it would be niche but it would be great nonetheless.
Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure from Atari and the mind of Marc Eckō, was a real “love letter to Hip-Hop” kind of game. It embodied and celebrated bomber culture and “backpacker rapper” lifestyle. It did this by having a bass thumping soundtrack from RJD2, having its main character Trane voiced by prominent underground MC Talib Kweli and using tags from world-renowned graffiti artists . They brought authenticity to a game that most critics and people in the gaming community passed over. Although the game had issues, it gave a great glimpse into the graffiti scene and urban culture.
A couple of games that have to be on this list because of their status as “classics” are the games from the Jet Set Radio series. Set in a futuristic Japan, they told the story of skater gangs who needed to graffiti their turf, and escape the Shibuya police and rival crews. The first game debuted on the Dreamcast in 2000 with the sequel coming out two years later. The game was known for its vibrant graphics, eclectic soundtrack and graffiti mechanics. By using the analog stick you would mimic the sweeping motions that would draw out your tags. It felt innovative and intuitive and immersed you in the world; the added ability to make your own specialized tags brought the whole experience together as well.
In all of Bambaataa’s infinite wisdom, I believe he left out one very vital element of Hip-Hop: beatmaking. This is the integral piece that never made it into the pillar structure that holds up the culture today. The funny thing is that videogames for a long time now have been used in making music, and especially rap music. I recall a couple of friends that would compete in “beat battles” here in New York. One specifically would come and do his sets with a 13-inch TV, a PS2, and a copy of the game in the video below:
Up to that point it was unheard of to use a gaming console to make fully fleshed out tracks, but he did pretty well against his competition and won a couple rounds on some nights. It showed that videogames had a reach far beyond your living room. They became more than just tools for entertainment and games, but also musical instruments.
The convergence of Hip-Hop and Gaming was one that the founders of Hip-Hop culture could not have seen coming. These innovators reaching back into the past to snag African beats and poetry pushed forward new systems and thought processes that have influenced many of the music artists we have today. The same can be said of the Pongs, Space Invaders and Pac Mans: their reaches have metamorphosed into the Gears of Wars and Heavy Rains of today’s games, showing just how everything influences everything.
The beauty of this is that although they are on very separate tracks, in my mind and heart they are passengers on the same train going into hopefully a gorgeous, thoughtful and conscious destination.