What Is Still Going to Happen in the Esports Industry in 2017?

We have completed half of the year 2017, and so far we have had many exciting developments in the esports sector. The International DOTA 2 tournament was one of the most striking organizations. The biggest prize in DOTA 2, which is the world’s largest e-sports tournament, was $ 20,770,000 this year. The winner of the tournament (Chinese Wings Gaming team) won a total of $ 9.140,000. In other words, every member of the team earned approximately $ 1.9 million. The sector grew by 41.3% compared to 2016. This is an incredible rate, and no other industry has experienced such growth. In the first six months of 2017, the size of the e-sports sector reached $ 300 million. Analysts expect total revenue will be close to $ 600 million before the end of the year. If the pace of growth continues, it will become a $ 1.5 billion industry in 2020.

This Is a Big Industry

This situation gained the attention of large companies too. One of the most profitable industries at the moment is the e-sports sector. Only the value of the media rights is 95 million dollars. (In 2020, it is expected to reach half a billion dollars.) In other words, global brands and intellectual properties are increasingly taking place in the esports industry. The figures are impressive: Every e-sports fan spends an average of $ 5.2. It is estimated that there are over 200 million fans worldwide. No other kind of sport has this mass of followers. (You can visit https://www.gg.bet for details.) The number of followers is expected to reach 286 million by 2020. This is a very high rate: The e-sports followers are growing almost 36% every year. 71% of the fans are male and between 21-35 years old. However, the interest of women in this sector is increasing too.

Upcoming Developments

So, what kind of developments do we expect until the end of 2017? According to estimates by industry professionals, we can list these developments as follows:

 

  •        Focus on Churners. Have you heard the phrase “churner” before? It is used for players who take a break after starting a game. These types of players play without interruption for a certain period of time and then stop playing for a few months. E-sports companies have been setting their strategies according to beginners and the professionals, until now. However, the research shows that 18% of the churners can be convinced to return to the game much sooner. In other words, it is possible to shorten the duration of the break. Since these types of players prefer to buy items to compensate for their lost time, they are one of the main income sources of developers. In 2017 and over the next few years, we will see new strategies and campaigns for churner players.

 

  •         More Intellectual Property. As we mentioned above, high-profit rates attract the attention of all companies. Surveys show that the players love games that include characters and heroes they are already familiar with. For example, Hearthstone gained popularity very quickly for this reason. (You can visit https://gg.bet/en/hearthstone for details.) For this reason, we will start to see well-known intellectual properties much more often in both current and newly developed games. We saw the latest example of this in “FormulaE” game. Played at the same time as the Formula 1 races, it became popular in a very short time. According to gossips, global brands such as Disney, Universal Studios, and Marvel are also preparing to enter the sector.

 

  •         Mobile Gamers Are Important. There is a generation that grew only by playing mobile games: They never played games on the computer or used the consoles. This generation prefers to play games only with mobile phones and tablet PCs. This generation of “mobile-only” players represents the future of the industry, as they can play anywhere and anytime. In other words, game developer companies are gradually beginning to focus on games that run on mobile platforms. By the end of 2017 and in the years to come, we will see a much larger number of mobile e-sports games.

 

  •         Ecosystem Integrations. Twitch is at the forefront of companies conducting the integration work. E-sports games are now being developed with the ability to support social media and live broadcast platforms. You do not have to use an external program. Twitch Prime is one of those cases. If you broadcast the game you play, you gain access to special levels, achievements and even new game modes. The goal is to create a complete ecosystem for players and provide all the features they’ll ever need without leaving the game. This also changes the process of developing games. We will soon begin to see e-sports games with features like “Twitch Exclusive”. As a matter of fact, Amazon Game Studios is working on similar systems too.

No Major Tournaments until the End of the Year

There are no other major tournaments to be organized by the end of 2017. Local events and competitions will continue, but we have come to the end of the organizations that award million dollar prizes. Likewise, there is no new AAA game we expect to be released by the end of the year. However, there are many games planned for publication in 2018.

Finally, let’s talk about an interesting report published in Newzoo.com: E-sports betting industry is much bigger than predicted. According to estimates, the betting sector is now more than half a billion dollars in size. In other words, the betting industry is bigger than e-sports sector itself. At present, most of the big companies do not enter this sector, so the exact figures are unknown. However, we can say that these large numbers will soon be of interest to them. In other words, the e-sports betting sector will grow rapidly in the coming years.

Judas Priest Announce New Mobile Game, ‘Judas Priest: Road To Valhalla’

JUDAS PRIEST ANNOUNCE NEW MOBILE GAME,
‘JUDAS PRIEST:
ROAD TO VALHALLA’ IS AVAILABLE TODAY

Sony Music Entertainment and legendary heavy metal band Judas Priest announced today that “Judas Priest: Road To Valhalla,” a new mobile game for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is now available in the App Store.

Game download link to App Store here: http://apple.co/2uG3i3n

The app features stunning new visuals and gameplay set to the iconic songs “Halls of Valhalla,” “Breaking the Law”, “Turbo Lover”, “Electric Eye”, and “Painkiller” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.”

Judas Priest: Road To Valhalla innovates by making isolated song stems (eg drums, vocals, guitar) from the 2016 ‘Battle Cry’ album available to players exclusively within the game. Using an innovative visual mechanic, players must fill “stem meters” to construct the full song and progress through each level of the game.

“When we set out to make this game, we wanted to give fans a new kind of visual listening experience” said Rob Halford, who also appears in a series of exclusive video clips throughout the game.

“For the first time, we are making individual stems of our songs available to fans to give them a new and interactive way to engage with some of the best songs from our catalog.”

Video trailer for game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ6bjtdH5s4

“Judas Priest: Road To Valhalla” is a joint collaboration between Judas Priest, Sony Music Entertainment, Trinifold Management LLC UK and Babaroga, a leading mobile game studio.

“Metal maniacs are you ready to join Judas Priest on the Road To Valhalla…..? We are excited to have you take charge and lead the way on the bike and the tour bus! Let the molten metal mayhem begin with the thrill of the ride! Can you claim victory on this perilous journey that leads you into Valhalla…?”

Have a blast and enjoy!
Rob, Glenn, Richie, Ian and Scott

 

Is “Gears of War 4” the most anticipated game of the year?

“Gears of War” is one of my favorite games in the last decade. When it was first released back in 2006 it ended up being the fastest-selling video game of 2006, in addition it was also the second-most played game over Xbox Live during 2007. Since then there has been an extremely respected and successful franchise built around that first game. The first sequel, Gears of War 2″, was released in 2008, following back “Gears of War 3” in 2011. The last game “Gears of War: Judgment”, which serves as a prequel to the franchise and is also received mixed reviews.

So 10 years have past and we are now looking at the release of “Gears of War 4” and word on the street is that it is aimed to be one of the biggest games of the year! The beta was released back in April and since then the developer has been working hard to fine tune all the fans feedback and requests getting the final version ready for release. This new game also brings back many features from previous games like the return of the dropshot weapon and the Buzzkill that shoots ricocheting sawblades.

“Gears of War” 4 also marks the first game in the franchise that is not developed by Epic Games, instead by the relatively unknown company The Coalition. But the game is in good hands because the new developer also scored big time remastering the first “Gears of War” in the 2015 release of “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition”.

They are also delivering no shortage in terms of options when purchasing this game including various Collector’s Editions with limited edition statues and also if you are looking to upgrade to the Xbox One S, there is a sweet bundle pack planned which includes a 2TB Gears of War 4 Limited Edition Xbox One S. This bundle will include “Gears of War 4: Ultimate Edition”, a custom Xbox One S console, and a Crimson Omen Limited Edition controller. So if you are a collector like myself you might want to snag this while it lasts!

Published by Microsoft Studios for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One, “Gears of War 4” is being pitched as a Xbox Play Anywhere title. If you don’t know what that means, get ready to be excited cause if you are planning on pre-ordering or buying the digital game you will be able to play on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. So you get the game for both platforms for the cost of one. Just note that this does not apply for physical disc copies only digital. So in between playing “Gears of Wars 4”  on the PC be sure to also visit betfaircasino.com for fun casino games online. I have a feeling that delivering games in this cross platform option will be very popular moving forward.

This franchise shows no signs of slowing down in the future. In addition to many books and comics that have been released off, there is also a feature film adaptation in development. So be sure not to miss “Gears of War 4”, now if you excuse me, I have to get my campaigning on!

Have fun with some Trick or Treat Halloween Bingo Cards

Halloween is just around the corner and who doesn’t love a game of Bingo. Thanks to Paddy Power Bingo Site, we are given these fun bingo cards to enjoy with the whole family. So everyone put down your phones for a minute and enjoy some old fashion fun with each other this Halloween season!

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Biggest Game App Releases of 2016

The mobile gaming market is thriving and this is no coincidence – more and more game developers are entering the market and even Nintendo made a sort of appearance through their partnership with developer Niantic and the immensely popular Pokémon Go.

Suffice to say, gaming on mobile is huge at the moment and there are more and more high quality titles being released than ever before. Even popular gambling casinos are raking in huge interests thanks to popular casino app they offer for mobile players. Thanks to technological gains in newer smartphone and tablet devices, we can now enjoy some of the old classics in a better, HD environment, and even VR makes a stride every now and then.

Oh and we are going to be mentioning Pokémon Go a lot in this article, so be warned… yes, this is due to the fact that augmented reality games are making history, with more and more devs being interesting in experimenting with the new game play design. Alas, let us go through the list of the finest game apps that are available in 2016, in no particular order (yes, Pokémon Go is first, deal with it).

Pokemon Go (world-wide phenomenon, free to play)

With over 40 million downloads the first week, Pokémon Go is a monolith of mobile game achievements. It is a statement that a great concept, bellowed characters with global appeal and a horrendous technical support will lead to a massive success. Part of the enormous following and explosive downloads can be attributed to the first, real world Pokémon experience to date. Players could finally go out and “catch them all”… literally. With simple gameplay that enables exploring the outside world, meeting, trading and battling other players and more, this is undoubtedly the biggest mobile game of 2016.

Final Fantasy IX (huge game, better graphics, boosters available)

This port of the 2001 classic by Square Enix is one of the biggest mobile games to date. With a truly captivating storyline that spans hours upon hours of game play and dialogue, charming graphics that have been remastered and several new additions in the form of boosters, FFIX is back and thriving on mobile. Be warned though – the download is massive as well as the install.

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (memorable battles, heroes, tournament mode, multiplayer, etc.)

Episode 7 rekindled the love for Star Wars and its licensed games and this is definitely one of the best ones out there. With a huge rooster of characters that you can use for battle on iconic locations as well as the online multiplayer mode, Galaxy Heroes is what every Star Wars fan needs in the mobile galaxy, far far away…

FIFA 16 (free, available along with PC and console version)

Football fans rejoice – not only is the new FIFA available for mobile devices alongside the consoles, it showcases some impressive graphics and game play driven by touch controls… oh and it is completely free. Yes, that’s right, though we have no idea how we managed to fit “free and EA” in one sentence, but there you go. It is a true testament how far mobile gaming has risen, having one of the “more complex” gaming experiences for both PC and consoles, and having it transferred perfectly for mobile play.

Her Story (price: $2.99, mostly videos, unique story and “game play”)

A surprising and unlike any video game out there, Her Story is more a video than a game. It can be classified as a “video detective simulator” which doesn’t say much if you don’t try it out for yourself. It is a mystery game where you watch videos and try to find out what happened to the girl in the title. It is… difficult to emphasizes just how different the experience is to anything previously played – but it is entertaining and quite something new so check it out.

 

How to Choose Your Perfect Game for Free

Since the advent of online gaming, the industry has changed immeasurably. While it was once the case that “gaming” meant arcade style games you’d play in an entertainment venue or a console game, the term is now used to denote a variety of genres.

From mobile simulators and online casino games to virtual reality products, the gaming industry is now awash with options and that can make choosing the right game for you a tough task. Fortunately, as is often the way on the Internet, there’s a plethora of sites, services and apps out there that will help you find the best game for.

Read the Word of Others

Caught Reading” (CC BY 2.0) by  Jayel Aheram 

One of most effective ways to get a handle on the gaming market is to use a comparison site. Much like the ones you’d see in the insurance or travel industry, casino comparison sites not only provide reviews and ratings but direct links to the top operators in the industry.

For example, if you’re looking for a high quality online casino in Canada then a site such as Bonus.ca is your best bet.  When you’re searching for a place where money is a big part of your gaming experience it pays to listen to the words of others as it literally won’t cost you anything.

Indeed, when take a look at what sort of bonus offers you can pick up as a Canadian casino gamer by using a site such as Bonus.ca, you’re effectively using the collective experience of thousands to help you might the right choice.

Watch the Action Live

Twitch.TV offices” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  docpop 

Another way to check out the top games in the industry is to head over to Twitch. The streaming service has long been the home of the world’s top gamers and through their streams you can learn about the finer points of the latest PC and console games on the market.

Whether you’re a World of Warcraft wannabe or curious about Call of Duty, Twitch streamers will give you real-time insights into the latest games on the market so you can find your favourites with ease.

Play for Free

Free Button” (CC BY 2.0) by  GotCredit 

The final way to find your perfect game without having to spend money is to play for free. When you search through the any app store you’ll now find that most of the leading games can be played for free.

Using the “freemium” model, app developers are now encouraging people to try their main features of their games for free before committing to them financially.

Of course, you can continue to play many of these games for free, but their structure is designed to make you purchase add-ons and credits. However, if you use this dynamic to explore the options available in the mobile world, then you’ll be able to find what you want without wasting money unnecessarily.

The gaming world is booming and that means you can now entertain yourself in a myriad of ways. Whether it’s gaming on the move, betting online or battling in a virtual world via your PC, there’s now more choice than ever and the best way to find what you’re looking for is to read, watch and play.

Unexpected Worlds Collide and All Boundaries Are Broken in “LEGO Dimensions”

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment today released the story trailer for LEGO Dimensions, the upcoming entertainment experience that merges physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay.  The game features an original story that combines characters and worlds from 14 of the most popular entertainment brands including DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings, The LEGO Movie, The Wizard of Oz, LEGO Ninjago, Back to the Future, Scooby-Doo, LEGO Chima, Doctor Who, Jurassic World, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, Portal and Midway Arcade.

In the game, there is an ancient planet at the center of the LEGO Multiverse inhabited by an evil mastermind, Lord Vortech. It is said that he who controls the Foundational Elements that this planet is built upon, controls all of the Multiverse. Lord Vortech has vowed to be that ruler, summoning characters from a variety of LEGO worlds to help him find these building bricks of LEGO civilization. Some have agreed, others have rebelled, and only the combined powers of the greatest LEGO heroes can stop him.

When a mysterious and powerful vortex suddenly appears in various LEGO worlds, different characters from DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings and The LEGO Movie are swept away. To save their friends, LEGO Batman, LEGO Gandalf and LEGO Wyldstyle journey to locations beyond their wildest imaginations, and they soon realize that Lord Vortech is summoning villains from across different LEGO worlds to help him gain control. As his power grows, worlds mix, unexpected characters meet and all boundaries are broken. Our heroes must travel through space and time to rescue their friends before the vortexes destroy all of LEGO humanity.

Launching September 27, 2015, LEGO Dimensions will be available for Xbox One, the all-in one games and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation4 and PlayStation3 computer entertainment systems and the Wii U system from Nintendo.

Follow LEGO Dimensions at:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LEGODimensions
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LEGODimensions (@LEGODimensions)
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/LEGODimensions (@LEGODimensions)
Tumblr: http://LEGODimensions.tumblr.com

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games and The LEGO Group announce LEGO® Dimensions

The Creativity of LEGO Building Meets the Epic Story-Telling of LEGO Videogames for Multi-Dimensional Fun Fan-Favourite Worlds Converge in One Thrilling Adventure — A Dark Knight, a Wizard, and a Master Builder Travelling Down the Yellow Brick Road is Just the Beginning!

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games and The LEGO Group today announced LEGO® Dimensions, an all-new entertainment experience that breaks the rules of traditional gaming to merge physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay in a manner only imaginable in the world of LEGO games. Launching 29th September, 2015, the game will fuse many fan-favourite universes together, including DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings, The LEGO Movie, The Wizard of Oz, LEGO Ninjago, Back to the Future, and many more still to be announced.

LEGO Dimensions, developed by TT Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, will be available for Xbox One, the all-in one games and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems and Nintendo´s Wii™ U system.

For the first time in any LEGO videogame, characters from iconic entertainment franchises join forces and battle in worlds outside of their own. In addition to the game, the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack will include the LEGO Toy Pad, which allows players to transport special LEGO minifigures and other LEGO objects into the game, bricks to build the LEGO Gateway, three LEGO Minifigures, including LEGO BatmanTM from DC Comics, LEGO Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie, plus the LEGO BatmobileTM.

“When kids play with LEGO bricks, they build beyond the singular brands, intermixing all of their favourite characters and universes, and we have come up with a way for players to experience that in games,” said Jon Burton, Founder and Creative Director, TT Games. “Now for the first time in a videogame, LEGO fans can play in the virtual world and in the real world – combining everything without restrictions. Imagine putting LEGO Gollum from The Lord of the Rings behind the wheel of the LEGO Delorean in New Ninjago City – the creative play is endless.”

“Building on TT Games’ track record for exceptionally popular, engaging games, LEGO Dimensions expands our LEGO videogame franchise with a breakthrough, immersive interactive entertainment experience that will redefine the toys to life games category,” said Jeff Junge, Senior Vice President, LEGO Franchise and TT Games, Warner Bros. Entertainment. “LEGO Dimensions will bring fans innovative and joyful gameplay with an amazing mash-up of huge brands in both the physical and digital worlds.”

“LEGO Dimensions is unlike anything that we have ever done. It further extends the LEGO play experience into the digital world with all of the characters, humour and action of LEGO videogames now combined with the fun of LEGO minifigure and model building,” said Niels Jørgensen, Vice President, Digital Games for the LEGO Group. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with TT Games to explore ways in which physical and digital LEGO play can merge in meaningful ways for children.”

In addition to the three minifigure heroes used to start the experience, LEGO Dimensions will allow gamers to customize their experience with additional expansion packs. Highly collectible Level Packs, Team Packs and Fun Packs will provide new buildable characters, vehicles, tools and gadgets, as well as compelling game content with new mission-based levels and unique in-game abilities. All expansion packs will feature well-known properties and provide gamers the opportunity to use everything interchangeably, anywhere throughout the game – with no limitations.

A small sample of packs available in 2015 include the Back to the Future Level Pack with a LEGO Marty McFly minifigure, a LEGO Ninjago Team Pack with Kai and Cole minifigures, three Ninjago Fun Packs with Jay, Nya and Zane minifigures, two DC Comics Fun Packs with Wonder Woman and Cyborg minifigures, three The Lord of the Rings Fun Packs with LEGO Gollum, LEGO Gimli and LEGO Legolas minifigures, four The LEGO Movie Fun packs with Emmet, Bad Cop, Benny and Unikitty characters, and a The Wizard of Oz Fun Pack with a LEGO Wicked Witch of the West minifigure. Additional packs to round out the 2015 assortment will be announced in the months leading to launch. Further waves of expansion packs will be released regularly following the launch of the game and into 2016.

LEGO Dimensions not only offers a bridge between digital and physical LEGO play, but also introduces a digital system of play with great long-term value for LEGO gaming. One LEGO Toy Pad, LEGO Gateway and the videogame found in the initial Starter Pack will offer endless opportunities to customize a player’s experience for years to come. Future expansion pack purchases will continue to work with the Starter Pack, even in the fall of next year. No compatibility chart necessary

Nick Pittom talks about developing for Oculus Rift and his Studio Ghibli’s Demos

Nick Pittom worked freelance in Video Editing, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects. He wrote, directed and edited a short film called ‘PROTO’, which appeared at the London Short Film Festival and Sci-Fi London Film Festival. He is currently creating Virtual Reality experiences, with two small demos currently released for the Oculus Rift, based on Studio Ghibli films “My Neighbor Totoro”‘ and “Spirted Away”. He is also working on a full VR game called ‘Crystal Rift’, with Jon Hibbins, which is expected to be released some time early next year. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Nick about developing for Oculus Rift and his Studio Ghibli demos.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your work with Oculus Rift VR gaming?
Nick Pittom: I’d started playing around with the idea of making games with Unity3D, a game engine, and working up some prototypes, but it was after seeing the Rift and people’s reaction to it that I ordered one. After getting to try out the demos that had been made that I decided this was the direction to go on. I’d been trying to get into making films for a while and I suddenly realized that perhaps VR could be an exciting new way to tell stories and build experiences in a way that I could carve out my own path, and it’s going quite so far. I started out making some demos, and after getting some attention from them I’ve moved over into making full games and more substantial experiences. The final consumer version of the kit is some time next year so I hope to have a couple of things ready to go by then.

MG: You have made demos from Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away” and My Neighbor Tortoro”; what made you want to recreate these classic scenes?
NP: Starting out working up VR demos I wanted to create something that would grab people right away. I had a big enough challenge creating something that worked in VR, so choosing something that already had great art direction seemed a good way of avoiding some big problems. From there I needed something that was not realistic, as my own level of experience and the technical restrictions of VR would make that problematic, so it felt natural to take something like a cartoon and make it 3D, which would be quite an original take for those films and also for VR. Studio Ghibli has such an awesome style it felt like a natural fit and with Spirited Away being my first film of theirs I decided to go with that. I needed a scene that was enclosed, to keep things contained and manageable, but also recognizable and the Boiler Room was perfect. I first hoped to just make the location, but as I created it I realized it was painfully empty without the other characters, so added in the soot sprites and then quickly Kamaji. The latest version of the Boiler Room also has Chihiro, which was good fun to make! I quickly moved on and realized Totoro would be the most obvious choice to go next, as it’s effectively the mascot for Ghibli. The bus stop scene itself is iconic and had to be the scene to make, including both Totoro and Catbus, both iconic in their own rights. The Boiler Room is not interactive in any way so I felt I had to include something for the player to do and so of course handing over the umbrella became the obvious choice. Really most of the choices with both the demos wrote themselves!

MG: How much time went into each of these demos?
NP: The Boiler Room I got through pretty quickly, getting it out in 6 weeks in all, Kamaji himself I managed to pull together in three or four days. But Totoro was much harder. Being exterior the trees and landscape are not as simple in Unity3D and it has it’s own system that can be tricky at times, certainly less flexible than plain geometry of walls and floors. The animation however was where things got tricky. I modeled and textured the characters, but for that demo I managed to get an awesome animator called Keith Sizemore to help out. He did a great job, as you can see in the demos, but we had some real challenges getting the animations to go over to Unity3D from Maya where they were animated. There’s some tricky technical elements involved in how characters are rigged and set up, and many ways the software can choose to mess that up. But I think perhaps two and half months start to finish for that. All of this was done in my spare time outside of work.

MG: Do you have plans to expand on these at any time?
NP: I actually added Chihiro to the latest version of the Boiler Room demo, which was fun, but I am considering animating the entire scene start to finish. I guess I need to find the time! Otherwise I have other projects that need my attention.

MG: Why do you think these films are so beloved with fans?
NP: The art style is a big part of it of course. There’s such wonderful artistry and talent and craft put into every part of Ghibli’s films, they really are masters of the hand drawn animation. But it’s story, character and design, all working together that really shine through their works. I am sure books can, and indeed have been written about every aspect of what makes this true, but one aspect that stands out in Miyazaki’s work particularly are his strong female characters, all of whom ring true and genuine. I think perhaps in Miyazaki we have an artist perfectly fitted to his art form and every part of his films works so well. On a personal note, I think Princess Mononoke is the strongest film, at least from a storytelling standpoint, but equally it has strong, morally complicated people in a dangerous exciting setting. Good times.

MG: I hear you have one more demo in the cards; can you spill some details?
NP: Originally I had hoped to make a Howl’s Moving Castle demo after the original demo, but someone else got in contact to request I should not, as they had already started on their own. I was happy to oblige, as I was interested in seeing what they made. I’ve not seen it yet, and perhaps it will never be completed, which is a shame. I then decided to work on Cowboy Bebop, but by then I had been in contact with a few interesting people, circumstances changed and I decided to move onto original projects. I’m still considering working something new up as I have Howl’s Castle complete already.

MG: What can we except from your first full VR game “Crystal Rift”?
NP: So, I’m working on three projects actively at the moment. The first is a game called Crystal Rift, which is a VR dungeon-crawler in the form of old-style games like Eye of the Beholder. Jon Hibbins, the creator, demoed it to me at a meetup at Bossa Studios (who make Surgeon Simulator) and asked me to join his project in a creative role. I’ve never worked on a game before so it seemed like a good opportunity to be a part of one and to put my own mark on it. We actually have a Kickstarter up currently for this!. The second project is actually my own Kickstarter that I created to fund a trip to Oculus Connect, a conference in Hollywood. Being from the UK this was quite a distance to travel and expensive, so I made a Kickstarter, the goal of which would give me the money to travel, but would also result in a game I would create that backers could give me ideas to put in. That’s in early stages of design and production, but coming together nicely and should be quite interesting. I’m working with a talented coder and we’ve got some great stuff working out. Nothing to report yet, but hopefully soon!

MG: Do you think that VR gaming will be the future of gaming?
NP: It’s certainly ‘A’ future. I doubt it will replace all gaming, just as consoles have not stopped people playing cards or board games, and just as mobile gaming has not yet wiped out 3DS-style handhelds. But it’s here, it’s amazing and it’s not going anywhere. Anyone who has doubts or believes it is a fad or destined to fail as in the past has certainly not tried the latest prototype (Crescent Bay), which convinced me that the hardware itself is there. It’s ready. It’s the software and experiences that are important to get right now.

MG: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced developing for this format?
NP: Optimization. Performance. Games struggle to reach 60fps at 1080p HD on consoles, and indeed most run 30fps. We need to be hitting 75fps in 1080p in stereo just for the DK2, and the consumer kit is likely to be 90fps and 1440p. That’s a BIG ask, and means that graphics must adapt to fit that. Looking at something like GearVR, the headset from Samsung that works with the Note 4, that’s an even bigger ask as we have to get 60fps 1440p out of a mobile GPU! Other issues are around usability and experience. What works in games and film or indeed any medium will not work directly in VR. You have to craft experiences and games for VR especially if you want them to work, or at least not cause motion sickness! But I’ve seem some amazing demos and games in VR and in the coming months and years there are going to be a lot of people blown away and very surprised by what VR has to offer.

Nintendo 3DS Video Game Review “Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay”

Release Date: October 23, 2014
E10+ for Everyone 10 and older: Cartoon Violence
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Game Mill Entertainment
Developer: 1st Playable Productions

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Right from the start, “Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay” was off to a bad start. I thought there was something wrong with my 3DS and it turned out the game isn’t presented with 3D effects. I mean come on, there are indie games that are coming out in 3D and a big game like “Big Hero 6” is not. Very disappointing. The game difficulty is extremely easy. The bad guys are no challenge at all, in fact I beat the first boss while checking my email on my phone. You play as each of the five main characters mixed up throughout the game’s 20 levels, which will take the average gamer about an hour or two to beat. The other main issue is that Baymax, who is the best character in the movie is merely background noise. Big miss here for sure.

Official Premise: Following on the heels of their super hero debut, the Big Hero 6 team has targeted a dangerous gangster named Yama and his legion of out of control fighting robots! Take control of the stars of the film in this action packed combat platformer! Send robot’s flying across the screen as Hiro with his electro-mag gauntlets! Zoom through levels at top speed as Go ! Slice and dice as Wasabi with his plasma blades! Smash and burn as Fred in his Kaiju monster super suit!

“Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay” features no spoken dialogue or cut scenes at all along with bland and repetitive sound design. One thing this game does have though to add slightly more game play instead of jump flying through each level is that there is some in-game collectibles. You can collect various hidden items in each level including a cat, a plus symbol consisting of five cubes and the word HERO spelled out. Finding these items will provide health upgrades as well as trophies, art work and more. Unless you are completely obsessed with “Big Hero 6” and need to have everything from the movie, this is a definite pass.

 

Product Review “Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 500P Premium Fully Wireless Gaming Headset”


Previously, we have received the Ear Force PX4 wireless gaming headset from Turtle Beach, which was a great product…that is until I saw Turtle Beach’s Ear Force Stealth 500P Premium Fully Wireless Gaming Headset with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound…drool. This is the ultimate gaming headset and this all-new headset design features 50mm Neodymium speakers. Not only just does it just look snazzy, this beautiful device also delivers some epic sound.

The Ear Force Stealth 500P, along with the Elite 800, is the first DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Channel Surround Sound headset for PS4 or PS3. Since this is said to be fully wireless, that is no lie either, you are able to enjoy this without the need for an adapter or wire to the controller. You are also able to setup custom DTS Surround Sound modes, each with four EQ Presets.

What strikes me as odd though is that the Stealth 500P is much much better than the Ear Force PX4 except that for some strange reason it dropped compatibility with Xbox 360. It works perfectly though with PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Mobile Devices though. This latest model also has a great battery life lasting over 15 of gaming per charge.

After using the Ear Force PX4, I noticed that there was some interference between the wireless but this device has crystal clear wireless surround sound. It also has intelligent channel-hopping in order to achieve that interference-free wireless. I can’t wait to see what Turtle Beach comes with with next but it is going to be quite hard to top this one guys!

XBOX 360 Video Game Review “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved”

Platform: XBOX 360
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Rating: E+10
Release date: October 21, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

It has been a few years since I have played games like “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero”, but when those games were big, I used to be mega huge into those games. We had a band and competed online. It was a blast. Those games seemed to have tapered off in the last few years…until now (sort of). “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” is the latest game from Harmonix, the team behind games like “Rock Band”. This game is an XBOX One and XBOX 360 exclusive game. The game is totally hands free and uses the KINECT in order to control. The game itself is quite unique. Your hands are the instruments. I think that is pretty rad, this game would have a perfect score except the choice of the songs are a disappointment since they filled with trendy hits and no classics. Still a fun time and a great pleaser during parties.

Official Premise: Players enter the magical realm of Fantasia selected by the legendary sorcerer Yen Sid to hone their musical and magical prowess as his new apprentice. Perform to hit songs by using natural gesture-based motion gameplay. Tracks from Bruno Mars Queen Fun. Kimbra and AVICII and other top artists. Transform and remix music via magical manipulators in real-time like never before. Explore breathtaking environments with a motion controlled “muse”. Discover worlds filled with hidden musical interactions designed to engage players and encourage creativity.

While you are playing a song, you have two basic ways of interacting either swiping and punching. You are scored in points based on the accuracy of your movement. While playing you collect magical energy, which is used to unlock items to use throughout the game. I was certain quite exhausted after a few go-rounds at this game but it is quite fun. If you are used to the the regular rhythm-action games, this is a whole new experience. The music is blended well with the animation.

Here is the full tracklist included at launch for “Fantasia: Music Evolved”: Dvořák – “Symphony No. 9 from the New World”; Vivaldi – “The Four Seasons: Winter, 1st Movement”; Avicii– “Levels”; J.S. Bach – “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”; Bruno Mars – “Locked Out of Heaven”; Cee Lo Green – “Forget You”; David Bowie – “Ziggy Stardust”; Depeche Mode – “Enjoy the Silence”; Drake – “Take Care” (ft. Rihanna); Elton John – “Rocket Man”; The Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1”; Fun. – “Some Nights”; Gorillaz – “Feel Good Inc.”; Imagine Dragons “Radioactive”; Inon Zur – “Scout’s Theme” (ft. Lindsey Stirling);
Jimi Hendrix “Fire”; Kimbra – “Settle Down”…

…whew! [deep breath] Lady Gaga “Applause”; Liszt “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2”; Lorde – “Royals”; M.I.A. – “Galang”; Missy Elliot “Get Ur Freak On”; Mussorgsky – “Night on Bald Mountain”; New Order – “Blue Monday”; Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass”; Peter Gabriel – “In Your Eyes”; Police – “Message in a Bottle”; Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”; Tchaikovsky – “The Nutcracker Medley”; The Who – “The Real Me”; The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army” and Mozart – “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”

If this game is anything like “Rock Band”, Harmonix is going to expanding upon these track list probably weekly most likely. I hope that they steer away from the trendy pop hits and get some real good songs in the mix. I can easily see myself revisiting this day often. It is a fun way to just let loose and just a really cool idea to be able to control the music with your hands. You always looks at a conductor in a band and think “Wow, he is running the show here”. Well with “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved”, you are the conductor.

Playstation 4 Video Game Review “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes – 2.0 Edition”

Platform: Playstation 4
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Release date: September 23, 2014
Rating: Everyone 10+

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Disney Infinity” is back and better for its second edition called “Marvel Super Heroes”. Superheroes have never been bigger and this latest 2.0 edition features 16 Marvel figurines and 40 power discs (82 in total to be released in future wave), so there’s no shortage of options at all. After playing the original “Disney Infinity”, I found myself picking it apart quite a bit. This game really improves on the first games issues and delivers a mush more fun and content filled game. It is still not perfect but it is a blast to play and I have a feeling I will be playing this for many months to come.

“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” is split up into different two game modes much like the original. There is the Playset mode and Toybox mode. In the playset mode, you can transport into the world of one of the hit franchises from the game and generally run anywhere between 6–10 hours in length, so they are no incredible long but do back some great content. The Toybox mode still allows players to create their own games and worlds, using items unlocked in Playset mode.

When it comes to figures, we get the following three franchises covered to start including “The Avengers”, “Spider-Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”. In the Starter Pack, we get Iron Man, Black Widow and Thor. Captain America, Hawkeye and Hulk are available in single character packs and complete the roster for “The Avengers”. I cannot wait for Wave 2 to come for this franchise since Loki and Falcon have been confirmed!

Next up is “Spider-Man”, only with the web slinger himself, we also have Nova, who is included in the play set. Venom, Iron Fist and Nick Fury are available as single character packs. I am a bit taken back that Nick Fury is seated with Spider-Man. I am sure some young kids aren’t going to make the connection just yet since he is primarily seen with “The Avengers” in the film and TV series.

Lastly and easily my favorite film of the year, we have Guardians of the Galaxy. Included in the playset is Star-Lord and Gamora, while Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon are available in single character packs. Future wave 2 release for this series include Ronan and Yondu, so there is plenty of growth and expansion available here as well.

Unlike the first game, you are only able to play specific characters in specific playsets. This new edition allows you to collected “Cross Over Tokens” scattered throughout levels in order to bring character like Nova, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon and Hulk into more than one playset. This gives the game and entirely new dynamic and I really enjoyed it.

These new figures are really a big improvement over the first game. I really enjoyed the “Guardians of the Galaxy” characters. The abilities were great and really run to play with. My real surprise honestly has to be Nova from “Spider-Man” play set. I really enjoyed him as well. With “The Avengers” each of them are equally amazing. Hulk has a great special move. Iron Man can sort of glide. Captain America has his shield to through around. There are 16 characters and I spent a lot of time just fighting with myself to figure out who I should try first.

Since there are 40 power discs in wave one, I will highly a few of my favorite. S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Strike is a great ability. Infinity Gauntlet is a rare and very powerful disc. If you are an “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fan, getting to ride in Lola is a blast. There is also Ability discs that allow Team Up with characters like YOndu, Winter Soldier and Ant-Man. In the toy box, the customization for “Guardians of the Galaxy” is pretty cool with Groot’s View and Groot’s Roots.

Also a very cool expansion feature is that you are able to take all of your original Disney Infinity figures and power discs and they can still be used in the Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition) toy box. You cannot use original play sets though with the 2.0 gam though. This adds a lot more ability to play with this new game and to have original Disney Infinity characters meeting 2.0 edition characters.

The control are a bit tighter in this new edition. I felt that the driving in the first game was absolutely horridenous and this time around it is much smoother. The violence is not too bad but I am honestly not a fan of the ability to turn on civilians in the game. You are able to drive down the street and literally plow down people. I am sorry but this isn’t “Grand Theft Auto”. There isn’t any blood or anything, so it doesn’t seem that bad but still could have been tamed a bit and feels very unnecessary.

November 4th brings us a new wave of Disney Original figures for use in the Toy Box. Included characters in the first batch are Donald Duck, Aladdin, Jasmine, Tinker Bell, Stitch, Hiro Hamada & Baymax from Big Hero 6, Merida and Maleficent. I can’t wait to check these characters out. Hopefully in the the next edition of “Disney Infinity” isn’t to far, far away 😉 Fingers crossed Disney! Cross over to the Dark Side!

Playstation 4 Game Review “Alien: Isolation – Nostromo Edition”

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: The Creative Assembly
Rated: Mature
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Platform: PlayStation 4

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I am always a sucker for anything spawning out of the “Alien” franchise. “Alien: Isolation” promised to be the best of the recent attempts at a good game in the series. The game puts you in the in control of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, as she searched for her mother. The story takes place 15 years after the events of the first movie and another 42 before she is found in the sequel. What I liked about this game the most is that there is only one Xenomorph that hunts you down. Now even though it is just one doesn’t mean that she is not still one tough bitch. I think literally, I died about 25 times in the first 5 minutes of playing this game. This is it horror fans, if you are looking for a great “Alien” video game adaption, look no further.

Official Premise: “Alien: Isolation” is a first-person survival horror game which captures the fear and tension evoked by Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic film. Players find themselves in an atmosphere of constant dread and mortal danger as an unpredictable, ruthless Xenomorph is stalking and killing deep in the shadows. Underpowered and underprepared, you must scavenge resources, improvise solutions and use your wits, not just to succeed in your mission, but to simply stay alive.

The game play itself is quite impressive. The campaign itself runs a very solid 15 hours, so there is plenty of content included in the primary compaign. There are at least five to seven additional missions planned to be released from now till 2015. So even if you beat the game already, there will be some great new content available to fans. If you are a horror fan, then most importantly, you will be happy that this game definitely scared the shit out of me. There is some great sound design in this game and it really created some great tension when playing, which lead to a few solid jumps as well throughout. The design of the game just looks stunning on the PlayStation 4.

I know there are tons of scary games out there like “F.E.A.R”, “Dead Space” and “Resident Evil” but this game definitely had you pausing and running for a quick change of underwear. What I loved about the Xenomorph is that it is very effective based on your moves and your actions, it responds to you and you need to be able to act very very fast or get ready to start the mission over.  Sega really did a great job here. There are a few small issues like the story is a little light and some of the missions get a bit repetitive but it gets quickly overlooked in my eyes when you find yourself hiding in a locker waiting for the Xenomorph to pass you and hopefully not find you. You better cut your nails before you play because this is a real nail-bitter.

Now if you are excited to get to play a Ripley’s daughter, you are going to love the two bonus missions that were included with pre-ordering the game. In this “Nostromo Edition” of the game it contains the“Crew Expendable” expansion pack, which features the voices and likenesses of movie’s stars like Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt. It allows you to play as either Dallas, Parker or Ellen Ripley from the original film as they try and get rid of the Alien. There is also a second expansion called “Last Survivor”, which was included in “The Ripley Edition” of the game, which again allows you to take control of Ellen Ripley, as she is the last person alive on the Nostromo. There are still a bunch more expansions planned for this game, so stay tuned because the fun (if you call getting the shit scared out of you fun) to be had.

Nintendo 3DS Review “Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy – Curtain Call”

Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Rated: Teen
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

If you consider yourself a “Final Fantasy”, then you should be very familiar with the music from the franchise. “Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy – Curtain Call” is the sequel to the Theatrythm: Final Fantasy” released in 2012. This game builds a lot from the first game. There are new gameplay modes, over 200 songs and 60 playable characters. If you are unfamiliar with the game, it is a tap along rhythm with stylized characters battles and quests. This game is a vast improvement over the first game and is jam-packed with so much content for all “Final Fantasy” fans.

If you enjoy “Final Fantasy” included here are songs and characters from many new releases including “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII” and “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” and classic fan favorites such as “Final Fantasy Tactics and “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children”. Ever since I played “Final Fantasy” on the original Nintendo NES, I knew that I was in love with this music. Over the years, that love has only grown. Personally, I was growing old with the rhythm tapping games, but this really revamped my interest as this blends the aspects of an RPG so well, making this a blast to play.

The all-new modes include a Versus Mode, where you can go head-to-head along with Quest Mode, where players customize a party of their favorite characters to take across fields and into dungeons for music-based battles against series bosses and Classic Battle Mode from the first game. You can also unlock “Final Fantasy: Gather Rhythmia” to uncover new characters, songs, and collectible cards, which can be used in the all new Collecta Crystarium to power up your characters’ stats.

Thanks to Square Enix for sending us this game since it is was a real blast to check out. I have a feeling that I will be enjoying this game for months to come. The 3D aspect for me was always turned on since it brought a lot of the game itself and made the look great. The only issue I had was the lack of support to us left handed people since it definitely would come much easier to all right handed players. I would like to see where they can take this franchise yet since hopefully this is only the beginning for them.