At shows like E3, it’s rare to find genuine sincerity amidst the marketing speak and fluffy handshakes on the show floor. In the noise of the massive and imposing Microsoft booth, more arena than booth, I was able to snag a half-hour respite inside a small, air conditioned room to meet with the creator of Beyond Eyes, a game about a newly-blinded young girl learning to live without the use of her eyes.
The game’s creator, Sherida Halatoe sits near me on a strangely comfortable square-shaped sofa in an Xbox green room. Maybe the sofa is comfortable only because it’s a relief to be sitting down on the third day of E3, and in the air conditioning nonetheless. Halatoe, a short, quiet woman, with unkempt hair under a knit beanie, is about as unimposing as the game she’s about to show us. Her modesty is a nice change of pace from the chest puffing bravado of so many exhibitors on the show floor. And the game’s focus on novel, unique, passive experimentation is just as refreshing.
As the demo begins, Halatoe tells us about the origin of the game. I watch a girl on screen walking around a cloudy white world, painting it with her own visual approximation of what she hears, feels and smells. Like Flow and Portal before it, Beyond Eyes began life as a school project for Halatoe, until a publishing firm asked her if they could shop it around to game publishers. “They showed it to Microsoft and a few days later, Microsoft said, ‘we like this Beyond Eyes game and we’d like to do something with it for our E3 briefing next year.’” She sheepishly laughs, “I kind of wasn’t ready for that.”
They assigned her a team of programmers, artists and sound designers and asked her to get the game playable on Xbox One for this summer. “I never had to make anything with a team like this,” she recalls, “but I kind of just became the Creative Director.” However unprepared she might’ve felt for the task, the team has brought the game to Xbox One with beautiful results.
Rae walks through the watercolor world, literally filling the visuals in with her own image of how the world appears in her mind. When she encounters something in the world, it’s represented on screen unless something like wind or rain distorts Rae’s ability to read the world around her. However, Rae – and by extension, the player – can’t always trust her instincts as things aren’t always what they appear to be. At the beginning of the demo she approached something that sounded like running water, she gets close enough to realize that it’s a water fountain. Later, she hears something similar, but as it draws nearer, the image changes from a fountain into a rusted sewage pipe.
The game constantly plays with the player’s preconceptions and prior prejudices. Just as Rae struggles with her perception of reality, Beyond Eyes tests the player’s perception of the world around them. “I didn’t want to have traditional puzzles. I was thinking about how to make this world feel authentic.” Halatoe explains as she guides Rae around a farm, uncovering a beautiful, grounded world with cows, chickens, and fresh laundry flapping in the wind. “I was thinking about challenges people face in life and wanted to make a representation of that.”
Halatoe and the team want Beyond Eyes to create empathy in the player for anyone dealing with physical disabilities. “Most of these things are simple things that you and I would do on a daily basis without thinking about it. Getting milk out of the fridge or just putting clothes on and making sure they match.” She explains as Rae explores an ever more sinister and unnerving version of her perceptive reality on screen. “But for Rae, it becomes an obstacle.”
The challenge of Beyond Eyes seems to be more mental and emotional than intellectual and that’s definitely by design. In the short demo, Halatoe hinted strongly at the ebb and flow of the game’s emotional peaks and valleys. Towards the end of the demo, Rae comes upon what she believes to be a fresh stream, but as she approaches, it morphs into a busy highway. Halatoe ends the demo at that moment, leaving me wondering how it will end and sparking my interest for the game’s release later this year.
Like her protagonist, Halatoe seems to have been unexpectedly thrust into a new world of challenges, and now must try to find her way without losing herself. Her first game looks to be one of the Xbox One's newest indie darlings. After her first E3 appearance and seeing her school project on the big stage at Microsoft’s press conference, she seems poised for success in this competitive industry. As she put it, “I just wanted to make a cool game, which got out of hand a little bit.”
Beyond Eyes will be releasing for Xbox One later this year. Article Written by Daniel Jones
Three years ago, as my oldest daughter approached her second birthday, she started coughing and wheezing while breathing. After several inconclusive diagnoses, she was given an x-ray; what they found changed everything.
April had swallowed a penny; it had been wedged in her throat for over a week. The doctor sent us to the E.R. at The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis, where we met with another doctor who told us an operation to remove the penny was necessary, before it could do any more damage to April’s esophagus. The penny had started to erode causing small holes. They would need to put a feeding tube into our daughter’s stomach and she would have to have several more surgeries over the next few months to keep her throat from swelling shut. We would have to hope that her esophagus would heal on its’ own or she could be facing a lifelong struggle while eating.
We celebrated April’s birthday in the hospital without cake and ice cream; just a small group of friends and a very caring group of doctors and staff. It took several surgeries and treatments for April’s esophagus to heal. I can’t even remember how many trips to St. Francis we made. Finally, after undergoing further testing for clearance, our baby’s feeding tube was removed and she was able to eat regular foods again. We had to ease her back into solid foods, but it was something, and we were so grateful and happy.
Our days at St. Francis weren’t over: our second daughter, Kaity, could not break a fever one evening following her first birthday. She went into a seizure and was rushed to children’s hospital for observation. The doctors and staff once again were absolutely amazing. The told us how some children go into seizures due to high fever and explained she would most likely eventually grow out of it. As far as they could tell, she had suffered no damage from the seizure and she was perfectly fine. It has been two years since her last seizure and though we still worry, she thankfully hasn’t had any more problems.
We have two beautiful and amazing daughters that are growing up happy and healthy, thanks in no small part to the people of The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis.
Three years ago, after following a stream a gaming website I follow did for Extra Life, I started to think that maybe I could do something like that. I researched Extra Life and realized if I participated, all the money I raised went to the hospital that had done so much for my family. I signed up last year with a goal of $250, thinking if nothing else, I could just donate that amount myself despite my desire to impact the lives of the kids currently being treated at the hospital.
I know my girls really enjoyed the volunteers that read to them while my wife and I ran home to shower or to run a few errands. What if I could do something like that but take some video games for the kids? I contacted the hospital and was referred to an amazing lady who was able to work out a day where I could come for three hours and play games with the kids who felt well enough to join in.
A few of my friends heard about what I was doing and they wanted to get involved as well. With the help of my friends — Andy Amman, Levi Adams and Dusty Foreman — we were able to stream for 24 hours and spent three hours at the hospital playing games with some absolutely amazing kids. We raised $2,095 for our local hospital!
This year we’re committed to doing something much bigger and better. With the help of the Oklahoma State University football team, console and game donations company matching, we’re estimating we’ll raise more than $5,000 in 2015. This is great, but we know our goal next year — much like the needs of the kids — will be much higher.
EXTRA LIFE PLAYER STATS Years Participated: 2 Playing For: The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis Visit Scott's fundraising page, here.
Last year, Extra Lifers went behind the camera for our first-ever Extra Life Video Promo Contest. It quickly became evident that participants have gifts well beyond their controllers, which is why we’re stoked to bring the contest back for its sophomore year.
We’re looking for a 30-second video that promotes the Extra Life program conveying that it is a grassroots effort formed by gamers of all types (video, tabletop, lawn, etc.), bonded by passion and committed to helping local children’s hospitals.
Your video will become the official promotional video of Extra Life 2015. Your video be advertised on participants’ fundraising pages, shared with our partners, and publicized on our social media outlets.
Your video will be added to the Extra Life and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals YouTube channels. It may also be broadcast on sponsor and affiliate partner channels, including Twitch.
The creator of the winning video will receive a free trip for two to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals’ February 2016 “Momentum” event in Orlando, Fla. where he/she will meet kids and their families who have been impacted by funds raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across North America.
HOW IT WORKS
If you haven't already, register to participate in Extra Life 2015 here. Only submissions of registered participants will be reviewed.
Download the 2015 Extra Life Video Promo Contest - Terms and Conditions & Official Rules. **Please read through this documentation carefully and note contest restrictions regarding music usage and participant restrictions.**
Download our style guide and logos from our multimedia kit here.
Upload your video here by August 16, 2015. The video should be in 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 format.
Notable dates: August 16, 2015: Submissions due August 21, 2015: Top 5 finalists selected, edits may be requested August 26, 2015: Edited entries due August 31, 2015: Top 5 finalists announced, voting on Facebook opens September 7, 2015: Voting closes
The winner will be announced and contacted on or about the week of September 7, 2015.
If your question is not answered within the details above or the Terms and Conditions/Official Rules documents, please leave a comment below or click here to email us.
This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
Doc, Rick, Mike and Liz try doing things remotely. We cover a lot of ground in this episode so be sure to check it out!
In this month's podcast
Egad! It's Pinky!
Liz has some voice trouble.
Mike Talks about our E3 plans.
Rick has a close encounter of the Batman Kind.
The Animaniacs donate some time For The Kids! (Rob paulsen, Tress McNeille, and Jess Harnell)
More info on the coming changes to the Extra Life Community.
Update on Extra Life 2015 Stats.
Who won (lost?) The Wario Challenge. We might need some help here!
Dot Warner (Tress MacNeille) reminds us to Put your money where the miracles are.
Note: Rob, Jess, and Tress were kind enough to record a number drops for us as Yakko, Wakko, Dot, Donatello from TTMNJ, and Pinky. We'll be adding them in from time to time. So keep an ear out!
Download the file here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/extralife4...isode_0005.mp3
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Doc, Rick, Mike and Liz are joined by Laurie from our Canadian office. We cover a lot of ground in this episode so be sure to check it out!
In this month's podcast
Liz gives an overview of our upcoming Build to a Guild program for Hospitals.
Laurie tells us what the heck is up with Canadian receipts.
Mike Talks about upcoming website improvements and API update.
Jeromy and Rick talk about the upcoming official Guild Logo template.
A new community site and hub is coming, Rick gives a peek into what's in store.
How many Extra Life registrations will we have in May Challenge.
General confusion, mayhem and fun.
*Note: The Stephen King short story mentioned is 1408 not 1301.
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This time out, Rick, Mike, Liz and Doc talk about our incredible partner summit, Extra Life T-shirt contest, and who really has the coolest forum name on the team. (Spoiler alert, it's Liz)
This week, we covered:
2015 T-shirt Contest
2015 Partner Summit : What happens when you lock Twitch, Humble Bundle, Rooster Teeth, IDG World Expo and the ESA Foundation in a room? AWESOME happens!
We reveal our 2015 Extra Life Fund Raising and Participant Goals.
The Team talks about Sophie's Place.
Mike Loses at "What are the Chances" and it's Epic!
Download the file here:http://traffic.libsyn.com/extralife4...isode_0003.mp3
This week, join Rick, Mike, Liz and Doc for a run down of who went where and did what during our guild launches. We also promise Mike is really not trapped in a 1940s style phone booth, he just sounds that way.
This week, we covered: 2015 Guild Launches : Who went where. Stories from the road. 2015 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Spring Meetings. We introduce the community to a Team Extra Life game of risk, and basically no reward; "What are the Chances?" ... and more! Download the file here:http://traffic.libsyn.com/extralife4...isode_0002.mp3
Welcome to the brand new Official Extra Life Podcast. For our first episode we're covering a recap of 2014 as well as a few updates on plans we're laying in for 2015. This week, join Rick, Mike, Liz and Doc for a 30 minute catch-up. Pardon the sound quality and lack of sizzle. We're about to launch 24 guilds and didn't want to wait for all of the shiny stuff before we got this info out to you!
This week, we covered: Extra Life United Recap Some improvements we want to make to your EL Experience What this podcast could end up being How to get in touch with us 2015 Guild Launches ... and more! Download the file here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/extralife4...isode_0001.mp3
We are all at a loss today. Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, is no longer with us. Nintendo officially released notice of his death today, noting that the sudden passing of the 55-year-old executive was the result of complications during surgery to remove a bile duct tumor.
There are a lot of quotes and stories being exchanged in the world of gaming today. Many of the quotes are snappy and concise. Many of the stories are great testaments to Iwata's humility and character. However, we are all at a loss. There are no quotes, no stories, that can replace the man.
Satoru Iwata built many of our childhoods in a profound way. He created Balloon Fight and EarthBound. He helped design Mario, Kirby, and Zelda titles. Along with Masahiro Sakurai, Iwata constructed the prototype for Super Smash Bros. He worked in the trenches, developing and designing games into his 40s. Without Iwata, video games would be a dimmer medium.
In an era where many have become cynical and disillusioned with video game companies and the familiar PR lines, Satoru Iwata stood out. Instead of going bigger and flashier with Nintendo press conferences, he took them smaller and more intimate, using technology to talk directly to each person who supported Nintendo. He opened up Nintendo to the public, a company that had fiercely guarded its secrets and privacy. He changed the way a staple of the video game industry talked with its fans. That's incredible.
Satoru Iwata was the kind of man who was willing to leave the corporate office and spend weeks personally fixing bugs and looking over code to make sure Super Smash Bros. Melee released on time. As CEO, Iwata took a 50% pay cut to allow people at Nintendo to keep their jobs. Throughout his life, Satoru Iwata displayed impeccable decency, dedication, and joy. Those things shown through in his work, the games he poured his life into, the games we played and laughed and bonded over.
How do you properly send off someone like that? How do you say goodbye?
The man was more than a corporate suit, more than a meme, and more than a creator of idle pastimes. People formed friendships over the fun infused into his games. Kids grew up with childhoods that were that much happier because they had spent time with his work. I believe that his good labor made us all better people and that his death leaves a little hole in all of us. In truth, there is no proper way to say goodbye. The world is a poorer place without Iwata. His effort meant so much to so many and now he is gone.
Satoru Iwata leaves behind a legacy filled with countless smiles and happy memories. Some of those smiles and memories are mine and that's why I find myself wishing so hard that I was writing a story about a new Iwata banana meme instead of an obituary. It hurts when we lose someone with a good heart and Satoru Iwata had one of the best.
Thank you, Iwata-san. May God watch over you as you rest in peace. We'll keep smiling for you.
It has been 25 years since Chip's Challenge debuted on Atari Lynx and Windows 3.1 to resounding success. Players can finally pick it up on Steam as well as the never released sequel, Chip's Challenge 2, this May.
"Wait, Chip's Challenge 2?" I hear some of you cry. That's right. Chuck Sommerville, the creator of Chip's Challenge 1, spent two years developing a sequel, that was subsequently shelved due to funding issues with publishing.
“When I couldn’t release Chip’s Challenge 2, it hit me really hard. Not only had I spent two years perfecting it, I also felt I’d let down the fans too,” Sommerville said. “I generally thought the only way Chip’s Challenge 2 was ever going to see the light of day was by having my wife leak it on the internet on my death.”
However, after five years of negotiations, Chuck Sommerville will be releasing both Chip's Challenges on Steam with all the unseen levels, Steam trading cards, and the original game code. They will be modernized a bit to allow players to save their progress instead of using the older code system.
Chip's Challenge 1 and 2 will release on Steam May 29.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!