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Valve Welcomes Firewatch Developer Into City-17

Posted on April 24, 2018 by Rae Michelle Richards

*Clears throat and does best G-Man impression* 

 “Welcome Campo Santo. You have chosen or been chosen to relocate to one of the worlds’ largest digital distribution services. Valve thought so much of your talent they’ll probably relocate your headquarters to Washington state now that they are your benefactors. Whether you’re at Valve to stay or move on to parts unknown, welcome.” 

 Riffs on Dr.Breen’s Half Life 2 speech aside, yup it is true – Valve has purchased the developers behind last year’s critical success Firewatch. Members of the Valley of the Gods team will move to city 1… err Bellevue Washington as they join forces with the owners of Steam. 

Their next game, Valley of the Gods is expected to be released sometime next year. In The Valley of The Gods is a first person narrative driven title set in Egypt during the 1920s. As protagonist Rashida players will have one last chance to live a life of adventure exploring tombs, ruins and other remnants of the long gone Ancient Egyptian society. Players won’t alone in their journey to aid Rashida in her quest, a non-playable partner character Zora will aid her during the story. In The Valley of The Gods also features a working 35mm camera in-game! It can be added to your Steam wishlist here. 

 The Campo Santo team summed up their discussions with Valve in regards to the recent purchase thusly on their blog announcing the move:

“We had a series of long conversations with the people at Valve and everyone shared the satisfaction we take in working with people whose talents dwarf our own to make things we never thought possible. Both sides spoke about our values and how, when you get right down to it, we, as human beings, are hard-limited by the time we have left when it comes to making the things we care about and believe in. They asked us if we’d all be interested in coming up to Bellevue and doing that there and we said yes.”



Here’s A Look At All of The Elaborate Booths of GDC 2018

Posted on March 28, 2018 by Rae Michelle Richards

The 2018 edition of the Games Developer Conference has come to a close but there is still a lot more for us to show including gameplay videos, developer interviews and exclusive hands-on with several AAA and indie titles.

In this post I’d like to take a quick jaunt through some of the cooler booths on display at this year’s show. By “cooler” I don’t necessarily mean “elaborate” or “expensive” but visually impressive or booths that offered attendees a unique experience.

Epic Games Booth

A booth with a ride-able Fortnite llama in place of the traditional riding bull is a win in my book. This tough looking llama was a draw for the entire conference, sadly I didn’t get a chance to go for a ride.

Above said conquerable llama was a large screen that showcased the Fortnite live-stream that Epic had going during the entirety of show-floor hour.

Folks check out the PlayStation 4 Pro version of Fortnite Battle Royale.

Not to be left out, the mobile version of Fortnite was fully playable on a large TV.

Day of the Devs

Double Fine’s indie focused Day of the Devs event took place off-site as per usual but this elaborate skull themed display greeted attendees when taking the escalator down from the South Hall. In addition to playable demo stations you could also catch some of the developers behind featured games like Exo One, Minit and Knights & Bikes.

IGF Pavilion

The 2018 Independent Games Festival awards took place alongside the Game Developer Choice Awards on the Wednesday of GDC week. Throughout the show-floor days (Wednesday – Friday) all of the nominees could be played at a single station in this circular configuration. Games like Night in The Woods, Baba is You, Cuphead and Shenzen I/O were playable by attendees. In years past it wasn’t uncommon to actually meet the developers behind these games while playing them at the IGF booth – sadly I didn’t get to meet anyone from the excellent Night In The Woods team this year ☹.

Train Jam 2018 Booth

Over 80 independently created games & experiments were playable over at the Train Jam booth. I was lucky enough to take part in this year’s 52 hour game jam and our game Emotional Support Cat Girl was also playable at this booth as well. Creators from the Train Jam are also GDC Attendees for the most part so it wasn’t uncommon for creators to hang out at the booth and walk folks through their creations.

I didn’t have much time to go  1 on 1 with folks to show them Emotional Support Catgirl in person but I will have an exhaustive blog post outlining our amazing cross-America journey later on in the week.

Microsoft Azure Services Booth

A large Azure Services booth greeted attendees when taking one of the two main elevators down to the expo show-floor. Microsoft had a large floor presence this year aimed squarely at game developers and the cloud based development services that can help devs collaborate, test and deploy their upcoming projects.

Services like Azure Application Monitoring– which gives developers real-time reports on the use of their games and applications, Visual Studio Enterprise – Microsoft’s premium integrated development environment and the Xbox Live Creators program – which allows independent developers to publish on the Xbox One platform – were all on display.

By visiting four of the available demo stations developers were able to score both $2500 USD worth of Azure Credits for virtual machine testing and a free Xbox One controller. Disclosure: as a member of the Microsoft Developer Network and Bizspark Program I was not the intended audience for these workshops, I already have access to all of these services. The free controller will definitely be useful for my development work, however.

Google Booth

Google uses its presence in the mobile space with Android and its real-world presence in Silicon Valley to attract Android developers to GDC.  Not only do they host a keynote focused on the future of their mobile platform but also full day workshops for developers on pre-launch and post-launch support of their mobile games.

Aside from the giant G logo and familiar Google Employees in blue shirts there wasn’t much on display at their booth to speak of. At GDC Google did announce the interesting “instant app” addition to the Play Store which allows customers to download a small 10MB trial version of a game and play it within seconds without needing to install anything on their device. Given the size of some Android Games 10MB could be as small as a 30 second sample of the gameplay, while other smaller games have the chance to offer players a much more feature complete experience within those confines.

PlayStation Booth

Sony always has a huge display at conventions like PAX East, E3 and PAX West but did the development focus of GDC stop them from bringing some of the latest creation on their platform? Of course not!

Playable games at the PlayStation Booth included the recently released Shadow of the Colossus remake, Monster Hunter: World, Gran Turismo Sport and Ni No Kuni: Revenant Kingdom.

Sony also held a number of developer talks and workshops across the five days of GDC focusing on the visual arts achievements that Sony has made on the PlayStation 4, how devs can help fight fraud in an online gaming space and a Final Fantasy Collaboration focused workshop.


Unity has quickly become the darling of indie creators and the engine that powers some of the most notable AAA releases as well.  Upcoming titles like Escape From Tarkov, In the Valley of the Gods, Praey For the Gods and Hollow Knight all use the suite of tools made available for free by Unity Technologies.

While Unity might not offer the complete beginner friendly experience of something like Game Maker or Clickteam Fusion but it does offer a great gateway to full fledged game development. Alongside a whole range of professional grade 3D, 2D and lighting tools – developers also get access to some of the most exhaustive documentation systems around. Also the Unity community has probably answered almost every question asked about the engine at this point.

I’m not trying to come off as a paid Unity shill or that this section of the post is an advertisement – it’s not. But I’ve been personally making games in Unity for the past 2 years as my full time gig and it has been such a rewarding experience. What you lose in easy prototype-ability you gain in coding experience, game making fundamentals and probably the most beneficial to me personally – learning how to properly debug a game from conception through to post launch support.

In terms of what was on offer for newly budding developers and experienced veterans – Unity offered a quiet lounge space for Unity devs to hang out, grab a coke and just relax from the high stress environment. This space wasn’t entirely ultrisitic however – staffers from the engine developer were also on hand to inform visitors about upcoming Unity focused events like their Rendering Bootcamp, Keynote, Work Flow workshop and also to recruit for Unity Europe. Also on the floor of the West Hall (where most GDC panels take place) was a large “Made With Unity 3D” booth which gave folks the chance to check out multiple games made in Unity 5.

Ark: Survival Evolved Mobile

Lastly I’d like to highlight something I spotted at Unreal’s massive booth. Sandwiched in-between all of the Fortnite chaos, live engine demonstrations and AAA games was the mobile version of ARK Survival Evolved that had just been announced days prior. I didn’t get a chance to snag any off-screen video of the game running (tho I wish I had) but I did manage to snag a few interesting stills that I’ll post in the coming days. Suffice to say that the upcoming mobile conversion for ARK looks and plays rather faithful to the original – oh and there’s also the upcoming Nintendo Switch port of ARK, which was not on the show floor.


GDC 2018: ID @ Xbox Showcase Report

Posted on March 26, 2018 by Rae Michelle Richards

Written By: Victoria Rose

Microsoft’s ID@Xbox team returned to GDC for another year and brought with them some of the most promising new games coming to their console. Last year, I bemoaned the lack of effort towards securing exclusive titles for the Xbox One, as evidenced by their indie showing at GDC. But now Microsoft appears to be on the road to recovery, starting to cherry-pick several PC darlings as console exclusives. Cuphead, Ooblets, and the Ori series were the big Microsoft-allied indies of past years, so let’s take a look and see what software they have brought to the table in 2018. Welcome to GDC – this is ID@Xbox.

Folks gather around various demo stations during GDC’s ID @ Xbox event.

Starting out, we have My Time at Portia, an ambitious game of many hats that recently launched on Steam Early Access and is now being scouted for an Xbox release. Portia features a stylized visual aesthetic inspired by European animation and some captivatingly peaceful environment design. The main problem with the game at this stage, however, seems to be the opposite of its many early access peers. Portia features such a large number of mechanics and gameplay systems, all fighting for the player’s attention, that I am honestly not sure what the focus of the game is meant to be. At some moments, it feels like a crafting game or Harvest Moon-style farming game, while the combat system’s depth and third-person 3D camera angle suggest a more action RPG approach. We will see how this one develops and if it can find its niche over time.

Next up, there is the PC MMORPG Black Desert Online making its way to Microsoft’s console. The push to get more computer MMOs on consoles has been a long one with mixed results, but it certainly illustrates that there is a market for it. Black Desert Online looks to continue this trend and provide a consistent experience across both PC and Xbox. The team in particular noted Xbox One X compatibility as a major factor in them bringing the game to the platform, as the extra power allowed them to manage the game’s systems at a more reasonable framerate. Overall, this port’s presence was not terribly exciting, but at least should allow existing BDO players more options on how they can play.

Virgo Versus the Zodiac was a welcome presence on the show floor – a turn-based JRPG about mythology with some rather pleasant surprises. The battle system is reminiscent of Paper Mario, with timed button press prompts comprising much of the engagement factor in a fight, as well as some delightful Socialist overtones in the story, with the protagonist Virgo looking to overthrow the corporate greed of her peers. Such themes are more apt now than ever, and VVtZ looks to deliver a one-two punch between that and its solid gameplay inspirations. This is one to watch out for.

Finally on our featured games list, we have Trailmakers, a vehicle-building game reminiscent of contemporaries such as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and Beseiged. Trailmakers banks heavily on its aforementioned vehicle-creation system, hoping to make a tool that allows for radical experimentation within the game’s physics and world constraints. Sadly, while the tool’s open-ended construction system allows for a great deal of freedom, it does a poor job of teaching players the basics of making a functional vehicle. A booth representative acted as a tutorial without my request, while I just wanted to explore the game on my own terms. I have high hopes for Trailmakers, but it needs to implement better tutorial systems before it can meet them.

Microsoft’s GDC showing has certainly improved since last year, but they still have a long way to go before making the Xbox One be the go-to platform for independent developers. Courting them with hardware power doesn’t make much sense in the indie scene – a market full of games that lean more on aesthetic than technical overhead, but at least some developers seem to be finding uses for the Xbox One X’s muscle. Here’s hoping Microsoft can continue to make strides in areas of true significance to indies, such as licensing terms, hardware costs, and generous revenue splits.


Finalists Announced For The 2018 Game Developers Choice Awards

Posted on January 5, 2018 by Rae Michelle Richards

Some big AAA games share the spotlight with some of 2017’s indie darlings in the list of finalists for the upcoming 2018 Game Developer Choice Awards.  Split across 10 different categories including Best Narrative, Innovation , Best Audio and of course Game of the Year – over 20 titles from the past twelve months will be eligible for honours form the GDCA when the curtains rise on March 21st.

Do games like Nier: Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, Night In The Woods, Persona 5 or Destiny 2 sound familiar? Aside from being some of the best games released this year in their respective genres, they were all featured in our “Best Games We Played 2017” series of articles over the past couple of weeks.

Below is a categorized breakdown of each award as provided by the GDCA organizers. Broken Joysticks staff will once again descend onto San Francisco to cover as much of the GDC chaos as we possibly can.


Cuphead (StudioMDHR)

Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Honorable Mentions: Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Star Wars: Battlefront II (EA DICE / Electronic Arts), Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom), Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision), Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus), Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)


Team Cherry (Hollow Knight)

Sidebar Games (Golf Story)

StudioMDHR (Cuphead)

Infinite Fall (Night in the Woods)

Jason Roberts / Buried Signal (Gorogoa)

Honorable Mentions: Game Grumps (Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator), Terrible Toybox (Thimbleweed Park), Team Salvato (Doki Doki Literature Club!), Lizardcube(Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap) 


Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)

Honorable Mentions: Cuphead (StudioMDHR), Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive), What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios), Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy), Prey (Arkane Studios / Bethesda Softworks)


Reigns: Her Majesty (Nerial / Devolver Digital)

Hidden Folks (Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvain Tegroeg)

Monument Valley 2 (ustwo games)

Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive)

Bury Me, My Love (The Pixel Hunt / Figs / ARTE France / Playdius)

Honorable Mentions: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Fire Emblem Heroes (Intelligent Systems and Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Old Man’s Journey (Broken Rules), Flipflop Solitaire (Zach Gage), Gnog (KO_OP / Double Fine Productions)


Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)

Everything (David OReilly / Double Fine Productions)

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)

Honorable Mentions: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory), Cuphead (StudioMDHR), Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix), Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment), Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Tacoma (Fullbright), Pyre (Supergiant Games)


Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)

What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda Softworks)

Honorable Mentions: Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix), Tacoma (Fullbright), Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios), Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment)


Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)

Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft)

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Honorable Mentions: Star Wars Battlefront II (EA DICE / Electronic Arts), Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda Softworks), Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment), Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix), Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)


Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus)

Cuphead (StudioMDHR)

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)

Honorable Mentions: Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive), Star Wars Battlefront II (EA DICE / Electronic Arts), Assassin’s Creed Origins (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft), Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision), Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory), Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)


Superhot VR (SUPERHOT Team)

Star Trek: Bridge Crew (Red Storm Entertainment / Ubisoft)

Lone Echo (Ready at Dawn / Oculus Studios)

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks)

Honorable Mentions: Farpoint (Impulse Gear / Sony Interactive Entertainment), Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality (Owlchemy Labs / Adult Swim Games), Luna(Funomena), Robo Recall (Epic Games), Gnog (KO_OP/ Double Fine Productions), Doom VFR (id Software / Bethesda Softworks)


PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)

Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Honorable Mentions: Cuphead (StudioMDHR), What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive), Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus), Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory), Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios), Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)


Microtransactions Outpacing Game Sales Sets a Worrying Precedent

Posted on November 9, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

You might have already heard the news yesterday: Ubisoft mentioned on their Investor’s Call that “Player Recurring Investments” (read: microtransactions) have outpaced the sale of full price and discounted digital copies of their games for the first time ever. In terms of raw numbers of the 343 million euros the company made from their digital businesses 175 million Euros were the result of “Player Recurrent Investments” (which include microtransactions, add-on DLCs, Rainbow Six Siege Season Passes, subscriptions and those sorts of things). The 83% rise in microtransaction purchases over the past year for Ubisoft could signal the tipping point where small recurring payments within the AAA games we play outpaces traditional complete products for the foreseeable future. 

I’m certainly not calling this the “death of the $60 game” or “the decline of games as a complete product” but there is no denying that over the past year major game studios have tried to forcefully inject smaller purchases into franchises that have not been known to use the previously mobile only lootboxes / battle crates / whatever you’d like to call them. What started with cosmetic item crates in Overwatch has quickly morphed into Warner Bros Interactive selling Legendary Orcs for real money in Shadow of War, players being able to purchase level-ups and weapon power in Fortnite‘s PVE mode and most recently random lootbox exclusive mount skins in ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2.  

A slide outlining the “digital revenue split” between Digital Distribution and Player Recurring Investments.

Tempting players with the chance of highly coveted items, exclusive skins and other valuables for only a small amount of cash does sound an awful lot like gambling. Yes, there is no chance of getting “nothing” when you purchase an Overwatch loot box but the disappoint that comes when you open a box that contains nothing but duplicates, sprays and the occasional voice lines became such a meme within the community that the Overwatch team found it necessary to fiddle with the odds found within loot boxes so that duplicates are less prevalent. 

While I’m on the topic of odds – popular public contests like Mcdonald’s Monopoly, Casino tables and slot machines in British Columbia and other games of chance have to clearly outline the odds that a player faces before they make their decision.  The gaming industry has not faced threats of regulation when it comes to disclosing odds to players in North America yet but the Chinese government is well ahead of us and passed a law requiring game makers to disclose the odds of “random drops” within their titles. In the Chinese version of Overwatch you have the probability of one “legendary item” (the highest rarity) for every 13.5 loot boxes. If you try to roughly convert that to $USD or time spent depending on the calculations used you’re either spending $7.99 USD (for 14 lootboxes) or roughly 20 hours of gameplay time FOR THE CHANCE of unlocking a legendary item, not necessarily the one you want. 

Are we at a turning point? Only time will tell but here’s hoping that the discussions around microtransactions, gacha style loot boxes and random chances for real world money within gaming face some kind of regulations in the near future. I know personally I’ve spent a good chunk of spare change on loot boxes and microtransactions over the past year and I don’t feel any happier or better off since I did. It would have been nice to know that to get that Soldier 76 Grillmaster Skins during the first summer games would have cost me 20 hours of my life just for the chance… 

Pictured in the header: Overwatch’s loot boxes, Fortnite’s Llamas, Shadow of War’s crates, Tess’ Eververse in Destiny 2, Heroes of the Storm’s loot boxes and Guild Wars 2’s Mount Adoption Certificate. Embedded in this post is an amazing video by Jim “Fucking” Sterling, Son!



Mental Health Charity Take This Partners With Publisher Wired Productions for PAX West AFK Room

Posted on August 16, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Having a safe and quiet space to cool down, de-stress and collect your thoughts while attending a convention packed shoulder to shoulder with other enthusiastic fans is super important.  This is the premise behind mental health non-profit charity Take This’ “AFK Room” which can be found at major industry & public gaming conventions across North America. From PAX West to GDC to  E3 Take This has been providing safe and quiet spaces for convention attendees for years and now they’ve announced a partnership with publisher Wired Productions.

Wired will be donating 25% of all proceeds from their upcoming first person adventure title The Town of Light on Xbox One, PC and PlayStation for sales completed between August 16th and September 6th. In addition to the significant donation of their proceeds, Wired has also discounted their upcoming title by 20% on supporting digital retailers. As of the writing of this post the game is priced at 20.99$ CDN.

I’ve written in the past about the struggles my disability – blindness in one eye – has affected my ability to enjoy VR and other forms of entertainment. What I haven’t written much about is that I’m also on the autism spectrum so large crowds, flashing lights and loud sound usually aren’t my deal and conventions are FULL of them. Last year at PAX West I checked out the Take This AFK Room and found both the safe space and people who ran it to be pleasant and inviting. Time in the AFK Room was a great opportunity to collect myself, regain some stamina and spend some time reading after a sometimes stressful afternoon of convention fun.

More information about Take This! Is available on their website. More on Wired Productions and The Town of Light can be found on its’ Steam product page. I really do believe that Take This! Is providing a vital service for convention attendees and exhibitors with mental health concerns and disabilities.


E3 Attendance Tops 68,400 ESA Announces

Posted on June 15, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

E3 attracted more than 68,400 attendees including everyone from developers, media, executives, hardware manufacturers, console makers, media and for the first time the general public as well. In a press release issued as the show floor came to a close the ESA (the industry regulatory body that runs trade shows like E3, as well as the ESRB) noted that over 2,000 products were demonstrated with over 120 exhibitors displaying VR specific products or games.

Speaking about the success of this year’s show, President of the ESA – Michael D. Gallagher was quoted as saying:

“E3 2017 was a huge success. The advancements in technology unveiled at E3 will redefine and drive worldwide growth of the most meaningful form of entertainment on the planet,”

Major announcements at this year’s conference included the reveal of Microsoft’s Xbox One X console, Nintendo announcing not one but two new Metroid games and Sony showcasing their Fall 2017 / Spring 2018 software line-up. Perhaps the most emotional moment of E3 2017 came during Ubisoft’s press conference when Michel Ancel finally got to show the world Beyond Good & Evil 2, which had been presumed to be in development hell since it’s original May 2008 reveal.

For those of us who didn’t attend the show several companies including Nintendo, Sony, Square Enix and others hosted hours upon hours of live content. Demos, interviews, and analysis were widely available and the ESA noted that 5.5 million hours of content were streamed from Twitch alone this year!

E3 2018 will take place between June 12th and 14th of next year.


Zenimax Buys Doom Co-Developer Escalation Studios

Posted on February 2, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Zenimax, the parent company of publisher Bethesda Softworks, announced recently that they have acquired Dallas-based developers Escalation Studios. If you haven’t heard of the folks at Escalation Studios before I wouldn’t blame you but they have worked on a number of smaller titles as well as collaborated with other studios on AAA titles. Most recently they worked alongside id software on the 2016 DOOM Reboot and prior to that their website states that they’ve collaborated on the Call of Duty franchise as well as past entries in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series.

In the press release announcing the acquisition, it was noted that Escalation Studios is working on a number of projects for Bethesda including console titles, VR titles and other games. According to their website Escalation is currently hiring Software Engineers, UI Designers, 2D artists and web engineers possibly for these unannounced games.

In a statement Co-Director of Escalation Studios, Marc Tardif said:

“Becoming a part of this amazing family of developers is an honor for everyone at our studio.” 

Last year’s DOOM reboot shipped in May and was met with rave reviews – including our own – for its robust single-player and lore offerings.


LiquidSky’s New Free Tier Offers Cutting Edge Gaming Performance To All

Posted on January 6, 2017 by Rae Michelle Richards

Playing the latest AAA games like DOOM, Battlefield 1 and Tom Clancy’s The Division at high or ultra setting can be a daunting task even for some top-end rigs. Trying to play the latest games on PC at the best graphical fidelity while on a budget can be a literal give & take scenario – sacrificing some graphic options for others in order to maintain stability. Cloud gaming provider LiquidSky aims to make these sacrifices a thing of the past as they open up their platform to everyone as their product approached the end of beta at CES 2017.

LiquidSky allows players to offload the graphical processing and complex computation of today’s’ games to their cloud-based infrastructure – delivering the rendered image and accepting controller input from a number of different devices. In theory, this opens up the world of high-end gaming to a number of folks who do not possess the dedicated hardware necessary for complex games – Imagine being able to play The Witcher III anywhere from your Macbook Air to an iPad to right on an Android powered smartphone. This is exactly the kind of universal accessibility that LiquidSky promises to offer to not only potential subscribers but everyone when the service’s new range of tiers launches in February.

Other streaming services have offered similar tantalizing visions of a cloud-based gaming future, most notably Gaikai and Online, Both of those services either ended up folding or being acquired – OnLive underwent a number of iterations and product line-up changes before being dissolved in 2015 and Gaikai was acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2012 to develop the backbone of both the PlayStation Now and Remote Play services. LiquidSky says that their services will not repeat the latency issues of prior cloud providers. During their CES presentation LiquidSky quoted speeds of up to 1GB/s down and 100MB/s upload when using one of their Sky Computers.

Gaming PCs For Everyone

Potentially the most exciting announcement during their CES Keynote was the unveiling of an add supported free tier which will provide players with up to 3 hours of gameplay per day with 100GB of storage in exchange for 6 minutes of ads per hour. This works out to 10% of total playtime being used for advertisements in order to subsidize the cost of running the latest titles.

In terms of system specifications, LiquidSky comes in a number of configurations depending on a user’s preferences. The company is poised to offer three levels for the average consumer:

Free Plan
3 Hours of Gameplay Per Day
100GB of Online Storage
Add Supported

Pay As You Go Plan
100GB of Storage
No Advertisements
Priority Support

$9.99 Gamer Plan
1TB Storage
Roll-over of unused Pas As You Go credits
No Advertisements
Priority support

One might wonder what kind of system specifications are available under these plans. During their CES presentation, LiquidSky mentioned a number of different system configurations available to players. Depending on the type of performance, the price of the packages increases in the company’s Pas As You Go “Sky Credits”.

Here is a look at the different virtual computer configurations and their in-game targets:

Gamer Package
2GB Virtual Videocard
3 Virtual CPU Cores
8GB Virtual RAM
Will run most games @ 30 FPS at 1080p

Pro Package
4GB Virtual Videocard
6 VirtuaL CPU Cores
16GB Virtual RAM
Most games @ 60fps at 1080p
Elite Package
8GB Virtual Videocard
12 Virtual CPU Cores
32GB Virtual RAM

A World of Support

Unlike previous cloud gaming providers LiquidSky allows users to bring their existing gaming libraries with them to the services. This means that players won’t be paying full price for a game and then having that game tied specifically to one service. Initially supporting Battle.net, Steam, Windows Store and Origin users of Liquid Sky will be able to sign into their virtual machines using the launchers and chat platforms that they are already used too. A LiquidSky Sky Computer also comes with complete USB 2.0 pass-through meaning that existing gaming mice, specialized controllers, headsets and other peripherals will be supported right away.

Support isn’t just limited to the end-user, LiquidSky’s platform also offers a number of features that should entice developers to support players on LiquidSky’s network. While users can install applications & games through any of the approved launchers the platform also has built-in DRM protection baked in, preventing players from launching illicit versions of games. The company also makes mention that they have a program in place to allow developers to be paid from a user’s SkyCredits to ensure that developers are paid for their titles being paid, further information on how exactly this would work was not available as of press time.
Speaking about the accessibility of the service CEO of LiquidSky said:

“By delivering the power of an ultra gaming PC to nearly any device for free, with the convenience and simplicity of consoles, we’ve made gaming more accessible than ever. Gamers across the world can finally enjoy experiences previously unavailable to them at home or on-the-go through the power of LiquidSky.”

Final Thoughts

The promise of LiquidSky has me genuinely intrigued and I write those words not just as a games journalist or independent developer but someone who travels with an older Macbook Pro and who is cut off from her expansive library of games while away from home. I look forward to being able to try the free tier of LiquidSky’s service on my Macbook Pro, even on less demanding titles like Eve Online. Being able to check up on my daily market transactions or get in a quick round of Overwatch or DOOM while away from home is something I don’t currently have the luxury of and for work I’ve never seen the point in spending $2.000 CDN+ on a gaming laptop. I can also definitely see the appeal to gamers who aren’t as fortunate as I, with access to a high-end gaming rig at home. Being able to stream the latest titles from the cloud could introduce the world of PC gaming to an entire market of people for whom it has been out of reach.

We will have more on LiquidSky’s free tier of service when it becomes available.


Response: I4U Embraces Sexism Blaming PR Issues on Marketing Manager’s Maternity Leave

Posted on August 2, 2016 by Renee Gittins

This morning I came across an article on I4U’s site titled “The Sweet Reason of Niantic’s Lack of Communication About Pokemon GO Troubles”. Intrigued, I opened the article and read it. If I had been drinking coffee, I would have spit it out all over my desk.

I4U’s Luigi Lugmayr placed Niantic’s Product Marketing Manager, Yennie Solheim Fuller, at the center of the blame for Niantic’s poor communication with their fanbase.

Why is Niantic basically silent throughout the turmoil of viral growth that cause all kinds of issues?

The person who is responsible for PR and Marketing at Niantic gave birth two days after the launch of Pokemon Go. Yennie Solheim Fuller is on maternity leave.

First of all, I am not sure how Lugmayr decided that Fuller was responsible for the PR of Niantic. While she previously acted as the Marketing & Communications Manager when Niantic was still under Google, she left that position for her role as a Marketing Manager a year ago. Although she still may have been responsible for public relations before her maternity leave, there are no indications anywhere online that is the case.

Secondly, if Fuller gave birth two days after launch, you can bet that Niantic had months of time to plan for her absence. If Fuller had been in a car accident instead, Niantic wouldn’t have had months to prepare, and would she have still have been blamed? Though this is a rather moot point if Fuller was not in charge of public relations at all.


Lugmayr does state later in the article that “Because nobody at Niantic anticipated the extreme popularity of Pokemon Go, the company has likely not prepared a replacement for Solheim while she is on maternity leave.” Though this statement removes some of the blame from Fuller, it falls painfully short after blaming her maternity leave from marketing as the reason for Niantic’s public relations failure.

Lugmayr also fails to recognize that Niantic has been well known for its slow response times and lack of communication with its community. The “silence” his article focuses on as a huge issue has been Niantic’s normal behavior ever since they launched Ingress in 2013.

Articles like this are extremely detrimental to the game industry and the women who are part of it. It is no secret that the game industry has problems with sexism and low amounts of female employees, only 22% according to IGDA’s 2015 survey. The women who are part of the industry are often victims of harassment, are paid less than men, and rarely receive maternity leave at all.

Calling Fuller’s maternity leave the “sweet reason” that Niantic is being unresponsive will make companies shy away from hiring women and providing maternity leave, and discourage other women from pursuing careers in games knowing that they may be unfairly incriminated for a failure of their company.

This shameful article not only places unwarranted fault on Fuller, but it features her image as the banner photo along with the jeering “sweet reason” in the title, effectively painting a target on her. Fuller’s Twitter is full of harassment and blame.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/YennieSolheim”>@YennieSolheim</a> You are doing a horrible PR &amp; Marketing. Quit NOW!</p>&mdash; Réudrigo (@Aristeaux) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Aristeaux/status/759936407284527105″>August 1, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/YennieSolheim”>@YennieSolheim</a> so the reason that <a href=”https://twitter.com/NianticLabs”>@NianticLabs</a> has been silent since the game released is that ur on maternity leave?</p>&mdash; Venkat Krishnan (@krish_ven) <a href=”https://twitter.com/krish_ven/status/756236892056715265″>July 21, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Women in the game industry need support of the public and press, not to suffer attacks for failures outside of their control, especially while on leave. It is shameful that Lugmayr would make Fuller the scapegoat for Niantic’s habitual lack of communication. With a USA Alexa rank of 31239 and a global Alexa rank of 82870, one would hope that I4U would have better quality journalism than is contained in Lugmayr’s article.


Independent Games Festival Awards Recap

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Last week while our staff were busy crossing the many halls of the Games Developer Conference 2016 the IGF (Independent Games Festival) were just as busy preparing to announce the winners for this year’s awards. The grand prize went to Seumas McNally’s narrative crime title Her Story won not only the Grand Prize but also the Best In Narrative award as well. Indie darling Undertale took mercy on it’s playerbase and won the Audience Award while minimalist transit simulator Mini Metro is heading home with the Excellence in Audio award.

25824424701_d22209945a_zRead More


Dev Talk: Building and Managing Your Team – Renee Gittins

Posted on January 15, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Renee Gittins discusses how to recruit a team and lead them to help you create the game of your vision. Balancing your own preferences and desires with theirs, you can build a strong team that respects each other and works well together towards a common goal.

Renee covers details such as compensation methods, communication and management tools and other items you need to transform your personal project into a full team project.


IGN Spun-off From Fox, Sold To Ziff Davis

Posted on February 4, 2013 by Rae Michelle Richards

Videogames megasite IGN.com has been spun-off from Fox Media and sold to former EGM/1-UP owner Ziff Davis, the company announced today via blog post and twitter. Along with the flagship site, Ziff now owns the likes of UGO, 1-UP and gaming events like the IGN Pro League.

It has long been rumored that IGN was preparing to either be sold off to a new owner, spun-off into their own entity or worse case auctioned off entirely. Reportedly News Corp spent part of 2011 looking for a new buyer for the site before working with investment bank Allen & Co to auction off the company for around $100 million.Read More


G4 and Adam Sessler Part Ways

Posted on April 26, 2012 by Rae Michelle Richards

Longtime host of X-Play and Editor and Chief at G4 Media, Adam Sessler, has parted ways with the company according to his spokesperson. Sessler is arguably one of the most recognizable names and faces in the industry.

Over his 14 year career with G4 he has hosted two different incarnations of X-Play (originally titled Extended Play until sometime in the 2000s) and pioneered a popular VLog series called Sessler’s Soapbox where he provides his raw unscripted opinion on the news of the day.

2012 has been a year of change for the gaming journalism landscape. The formation of Verge brought together names like former Kotaku EIC Brian Crecent and Joshua Topolsky from Gizmodo. Sessler’s departure from G4 Media is yet another name to add to the long list of industry shuffles.



Unit 13 Developer Zipper Interactive Closed By Sony

Posted on March 31, 2012 by Rae Michelle Richards

Zipper Interactive the Sony first party developer behind the Soccom, Mag and Unit 13 franchises have been shuttered by Sony Computer Interactive.  Confirmation of the closure comes after a turbulent week for the developer as rumors of the closure swirled online. According to reports Zipper employed 80 people before their demise.

In statement issued to the press Sony said the closure of Zipper Interactive is part of their normal “cycle of resource re-alignment. Check out the full statement below:Read More


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