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  1. 10 points
    Hey Extra Life Community - We have some exciting news to share! In an effort to help make fundraising more fun, more accessible and ultimately easier, we’ve added a new application to the Extra Life experience. Now you can fundraise through our mobile app made possible by a grant from the ESA Foundation! Extra Life Mobile App Manage and share your Extra Life experience on the go with our new Extra Life mobile app. This free app lets you fundraise and connect with others through SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Email. You can update your Extra Life page and check your fundraising progress all from the palm of your hand. Learn more in our best practices section! Download the app here: iPhone | Android We’ve also spent the last couple of months improving the mobile experience on the Extra Life website so give the new apps a try. We want to hear what you think so send any feedback and ideas to community@extra-life.org or comment below and let us know! For The Kids, Mike Kinney Team Extra Life Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
  2. 5 points
    We’re kicking off the “Design our T for a trip to E3” contest for the 4th year in-a-row! The contest is simple - submit a design for the Official Extra Life 2016 Platinum T-shirt and if your design wins, you and your best bud get airfare, two nights at a nearby hotel and passes to E3 2016 as Extra Life's special guests! Here's a complete list of the perks: Your design will become the official T-shirt design of Extra Life 2016 and end up in the closets of thousands of Extra Lifers A free* trip to E3 2016 in Los Angeles, CA on June 14-16 for you and a friend w(includes get airfare and a two night stay in a nearby hotel), two passes to E3 2016 and some new threads featuring your design. When people ask where you got such awesome apparel you can point to your brain and wink at them Your design will be inducted into the Extra Life T-shirt Hall of Fame HOW IT WORKS Register to participate in Extra Life 2016 here. Only designs of registered participants will be considered. Download and review these documents in full for submission details. Design Guidelines_2016.pdf Terms and Conditions_2016.pdf T-shirt Contest_Required Files_Download.zip Submit your design here by Friday, May 13, 2016, at 11:59 pm PST. The top designs will be selected by the Extra Life team and subject to voting by Likes on Facebook starting Monday, May 23, 2016 at 12pm PST. Voting closes on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at 12:00 pm PST and the design that garners the most Likes wins! The winner will be contacted and announced the same week. QUESTIONS? If your question is not answered within the Design Guidelines or Terms & Conditions/Official Rules documents, please leave a comment below or click here to email us. T-shirt Contest_Required Files_Download.zip
  3. 4 points
    Article written by Robert Sullivan, a second-year participant who plays for Janeway Children's Hospital Foundation I am Robert Sullivan and I am 14 years old. My little brother Steven is one of the Canadian Champion Children. I joined Extra Life a year ago and I have been enjoying it ever since. When my brother was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, I was devastated. Cancer spreads to everyone in the family, not just the person who has it. I also have severe anxiety so I get stressed easily and have panic attacks if I get to scared or overwhelmed. I wanted to help raise money for kids who didn't have enough money for treatments, trips, games, and gaming consoles and one day my dad gets an email from the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation about Extra Life, so I joined and started streaming. I was watching the ExtraLife4Kids channel on Twitch and asked the streamer if there was a server for Extra Lifers to play Minecraft on. She responded no, so I created one in 1.8. The server will be up 24/7 unless my computer updates or is down for maintenance. Anyone can record, livestream, play etc. Since my brother Steven is the Champion for Newfoundland and Labrador, we were able to go to Ottawa and Florida for the Champions trip and Children’s Hospitals Week. We attended Extra Life United 2017 and I met my favorite streamer Sevadus! I also had met another Newfoundland streamer his name is Nathan Roberts aka Noofynate. He is good friends with me and my family and we played games at Extra Life United. He is a kind and open hearted person. I want people to be just like that and most of them are! So, that is how I joined Extra Life! Ip for the server is: ExtraLifeFactions.myserver.gs. On the server there is a shop, custom plugin, vaults and enchants!
  4. 3 points
    As March ends and April begins, now is the perfect time to look back on all that we accomplished over the past month. We finalized the donation total from 2016, had a blast at PAX East and pulled off the biggest Extra Life United event ever! Our monthly updates are sent out to let you all know the important news from around the community. Buckle in, because you’re the best gaming has to offer! Community Update PAX East was easily one of our most successful events yet. The Boston Guild did a fantastic job recruiting at the event; over a dozen volunteers pitched in from March 10 – 12 to make it a success for Extra Life. Because of their efforts, we would like to welcome 459 new members to the Extra Life family! Throughout PAX East, the Forza Challenge was in full swing. Those who stopped by and managed to snag top lap times won a sweet board game for their victory. Over 300 people attended Extra Life United in Orlando, FL on March 23 – 25, the biggest turn out yet for our signature eSports event. Outside of the gaming tournament and $150,000 prize pool, attendees were able to meet miracle families from every state and province in North America, as well as meet other Extra Lifers to discuss fundraising ideas, Guild tactics, and just have a good time. A big thank you to Twitch and other community supporters for helping make the event possible. Be sure to head over to our Twitch Extra Life channel to see some of the video highlights! Guess what? We are about to launch Extra Life Guilds in several new cities! We’re welcoming Birmingham, Charlottesville, Dayton, Fresno, and Saskatchewan into the fold. These new additions to the Extra Life family will be launching soon, joining the ranks of our 73 other Extra Life Guilds across North America. International Tabletop Day looms ever closer. Mark April 29 on your calendars and get ready to play some board games. A substantial number of Extra Lifers have been planning mini-Extra Life tabletop marathons that weekend. If you’re planning one, to add your event to the calendar on the Extra Life community site. ~2016 Fundraising Total~ Let’s get to the big number reveal for our 2016 fundraising total. When all the dust settled from our accounting team collecting the offline donations, matching gifts, and various odds and ends we were stunned. In 2016, the Extra Life community came together and raised a whopping $9,694,148! That’s up from our 2015 total of $8.3 million!! Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to set such a high bar for 2017!!! It’s only the beginning of April and we are already setting the bar even higher than last year, so let’s all keep pushing forward for fun, fellowship, and – as always…. For The Kids!
  5. 3 points
    Article written by Joe Finelli, a fourth-year participant who plays for Akron Children's Hospital. I've been playing for Extra Life the past five years after hearing about it from a friend. I play each year because people need a great hospital, like Akron Children's in their community, to offer support when they need it the most. This past summer my wife and I found ourselves in need of Akron Children's. Our daughter Serafina was born on July 31, a week late but completely healthy. Everything was fine until one evening the nurse informed us Serafina had turned blue. She was then transferred to Akron Children's NICU. Seeing our daughter in an incubator was almost too much to bare, but thanks to the amazing nurses and practitioner, they were able to keep us calm, collected and informed. The doctors diagnosed her infection and prescribed her antibiotics for treatment. During our stay in the NICU, the nurses were always willing to help us with anything and even gave us some advice on feeding and caring for Serafina. After five days our beautiful girl was finally able to come home and she is incredibly healthy and happy. Without the help and support of Akron Children's Hospital,our community and children would not be the same. EXTRA LIFE PLAYER STATS Team: Akron Extra Life Team Goal: $8,000 Favorite Game: Mass Effect 2. Why do you Extra Life? Tell us here.
  6. 3 points
    Hi everyone, my name is Andrew Espinoza. I am 24 years old and a father of a beautiful, energetic two-year-old boy named Liam. Liam loves to meet people and give hugs. His favorite thing to do is take toys apart, just to figure out how they work. My interest in Extra Life hit close to home in May when we went to Boston Children's Hospital because Liam was sick. Our local hospital did not have the equipment and resources to treat our son and sent us to Boston Children's Hospital. Liam possibly had Intussusception, which means a portion of the bowel slides into the next, much like pieces of a telescope. When telescoping happens, the flow of fluids and food through the bowel become blocked and the intestine swell and bleed. Eventually, this can cause part of the bowel to die. Intussusception happens in one-fourth of every 1,000 infants. As we made our way to Boston's Children Hospital, we were worried about Liam and emotionally drained. We were hoping he would be all right and we could just go home. The most peaceful moment came in the ambulance ride where Liam finally fell asleep for the first time that day - which you can see in the photo. When we got to the hospital, we were immediately taken into a room to start x-rays and an ultrasound. By the end of the night, we received the good news that Liam was going to be all right, and did not require surgery. In thanks for helping my son when he needed Boston Children's Hospital, I play for Extra Life. I raise funds for kids to get the help they need, when they need it. A couple of us from Front Row Geeks will be spending the day playing various games, but I will be playing competitive Overwatch, streaming on our Twitch page, and talking with all those who join me November 5th on our stream.
  7. 2 points
    We've got a brand new website! It's been a long time in the making, but we're excited to announce that we've launched a brand new website! The new design was driven by community member feedback and fine-tuned through lots of user testing. Aside from the new look and feel, the new website features: Improved Fundraising Pages Everyone's fundraising pages have been reformatted to make it easier for you to tell your donors what Extra Life is, how their donation helps kids in your local community and celebrate all of the hard work you've put into your fundraising efforts. More Ways to Donate With more and more of your friends, family and community members supporting your fundraising efforts on-the-go, we've added Apple Quick Pay and PayPal One Touch to quicken the donation process. We will have the option to donate in CAD in 2018 and are working hard on finding a solution in the meantime. Stay tuned! Streamlined Registration We've removed about half of the required fields in the registration process. If we need your shipping information, we'll just message you at a later time! And when you're all signed up, the site will automatically send you over to your participant page so you can start personalizing it and making it feel like home. Legacy Avatars & Achievements Newly designed legacy avatars and achievement badges show others how committed you are to Extra Life and to saving kids' lives. Unlocking achievement badges is as easy as connecting your social accounts or personalizing your fundraising page. The new website will be a work in progress as we continue to improve the participant dashboard, fundraising tools and broadcasting resources. We're even working on some custom leaderboards that allow YOU to see where you rank against other Extra Lifers raising money for your Children's Miracle Network Hospital! Spend some time taking a look around the new website and let us know what you think! For The Kids, Mike, Liz, Lou & Jeromy Team Extra Life Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
  8. 2 points
    You'll get a lot, and I mean A LOT, of different answers if you ask a group of gamers about the best Sonic the Hedgehog game. Some are die-hard supporters of 3D-era Sonic, some will swear by the 3D Sonic Revival that happened after Sonic 2006, and some maintain that there were never any good Sonic the Hedgehog games at all (an opinion that might start some flame wars in certain corners of the internet). However, if there is one thing that most people can agree on it is that Sonic's best streak of games was found on the Sega Genesis. Sonic Mania pursues that ear of nostalgia perfectly in the trailer released today. The trailer features animation work done by Tyson Hesse, the artist and author of the comic Diesel. The music comes courtesy of the YouTube channel Hyper Potions. Together with Sega, Hesse and Hyper Potions managed to really capture a the retro feel of the franchise while covering it in a new coat of paint. Oh, and Sonic Mania will be returning to the franchise's Sega Genesis roots with 2D platforming. Players will be able to play as Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles that brings fans all new levels, reimagined versions of classic stages, and boss battles. I mean, look at that trailer! It definitely left me smiling. Sonic Mania releases on August 15 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Fans can also nab a Collector's Edition of the game that comes with a Sonic/console statue, a faux cartridge with a golden ring, and a big, ol' box. The old timey commercial Sega put together to advertise it is pretty funny, so check that out below.
  9. 2 points
    What Remains of Edith Finch injects refreshing amounts of interactivity and imagination into the successful (and polarizing) narrative adventure sub-genre. As the teenage titular character, players embark on a quest to learn about an ancestry defined by a series of unfortunate events. Each of Edith’s relatives have perished under strange, often freak, circumstances. Is the Finch family cursed? Why was Edith shielded from the details of her family history throughout her life? Similar games would have players solve these mysteries by reading notes, listening to a narration, or watching a cinematic. What Remains of Edith Finch differs by dropping players into a collection of creatively designed gameplay sequences that beautifully chronicle the Finch’s accounts and ensure players remain captivated until the credits roll. From the get go, the game grabs your attention with its distinct narrative presentation. Edith’s thoughts are conveyed in physical words that not only appear in the world, but can be interacted with. Stepping through paragraphs bends sentences until they shatter into ethereal alphabet soup. This may seem like a small, stylistic, touch, but I found that it did a great job in keeping me actively engaged in the story. Instead of passively heeding a narrator, I actively read along with Edith and occasionally needed to look around to see where her text would materialize next. Similar to games like Gone Home, players search areas for points of interests that propel the narrative forward. The abandoned Finch house and the surrounding property carry several decades’ worth of history from the generations of Finch’s that have resided there. The immaculately detailed home is a delight to wander around in. Giant Sparrow did a great job of making the house feel not only lived-in, but making players feel the presence of its former occupants. Movie posters of a child actress proudly litter one hallway. A bedroom split between military and space aesthetics paint the tales of two disparate twins. Stranger sights such as a dilapidated playground slide fashioned after a dragon further suggests an eclectic household. I got a great sense of the Finch’s individual personalities and was eager to learn about their curious history. Examining the sealed-off bedrooms of each family member reveals a playable memory sequence providing a glimpse into their lives–including their demise. Gameplay, and even the entire presentation, alters dramatically during these segments. The story of a hungry child transports players into the deadly minds of various carnivores who must hunt down prey. A troubled teenager’s over-the-top power fantasy comes to life as a top-down style adventure game. One of the most vivid and inspired sequences details the attempted comeback of the aforementioned former actress that I won’t spoil. Although not every activity is necessarily deep, these moments make Edith Finch an unpredictable and exciting journey. I remained consistently eager to discover the next story and see what fresh scenario I’d encounter next. More importantly, they prevented the game from falling into one-note territory. Before the act of strolling around the house lost its luster, a new type of memory sequence emerged to liven things up. Games of this ilk tend to waive substantial interaction in favor of delivering a pure narrative experience, which can turn off players who require more than a good story to stay invested. What Remains of Edith Finch regularly commands attention with frequent surprises and varied mechanics. Every Finch tale ends in tragedy, and I like how some of the family members’ fates are left up to interpretation. A few deaths are explained relatively plainly (such as a hunting trip gone sadly awry) but others are expressed using clever allegories and context clues. In a way, drawing my own conclusions made the endings sadder because my imagination was allowed to run wild. Despite the often whimsical and light-hearted forms these stories take, reenacting some scenes feels appropriately painful, particularly for the younger Finch relatives. With a large family tree to get through, the game’s message does begin to feel overly hammered in towards the end: life is fleeting and should be cherished. Thankfully, the touching and bittersweet finale provides an unexpected twist that sends the game off on a high note. Be prepared to gain a greater appreciation for every breath you take after playing. Conclusion What Remains of Edith Finch could be the narrative adventure game for genre detractors. Boasting imaginative and varied gameplay, players engage in a lot more than just walking around and observing objects. Gameplay always presents a new twist or angel. At times, even dexterity is challenged, which rarely occurs in this style of game. The wonderfully told Finch stories bolster the intriguing premise and some tales will likely stick with players long after they’ve put the controller down. These merits make What Remains to Edith Finch the easiest “walking simulator” to recommend to newcomers and naysayers. Enthusiasts of the style should absolutely spend a night pondering life and death within the Finch household. What Remains of Edith Finch was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and is available for PC and Mac.
  10. 2 points
    While many should rightly be skeptical of video game properties coming to Netflix after the runaway rumor that Netflix was putting a Legend of Zelda show into production last year, we can confirm that Netflix is indeed developing a show based on the Castlevania games. io9 first noticed that the words "Castlevania Season 1, Part 1" were nestled within a recent press release from Netflix with a projected release of sometime during 2017. That's right. We are getting a vampire hunting show based on Castlevania sometime within the next ten months. As exciting as that prospect might be, details beyond that it exists are pretty scarce. Adi Shankar, known for his work producing Dredd and the gritty Power Rangers short from 2015, has been attached to the Castlevania project for a while now. He has specifically mentioned working with Fred Seibert and Kevin Klonde who are best known for their work behind the scenes on Adventure Time. Shankar has described the show as dark, satirical, and super violent. "After a decade of propaganda it will flip the vampire sub-genre on its head," he stated in a Facebook announcement last year. Warren Ellis, the writer behind the Dead Space video game, RED, and the story on which Iron Man 3 based itself, was brought on board to write the series. In a recent Facebook post trumpeting the announcement of Castlevania coming to Netflix, Shankar threw down the gauntlet. "I personally guarantee that it will end the streak and be the western world’s first good video game adaptation," the producer promised. Here's hoping you can deliver, Mr. Shankar. The second part of the series is expected to release in 2018.
  11. 2 points
    Get ready for the second wave of giant robots and wall-running. Respawn Entertainment has released a short teaser for the sequel to their 2014 title that features a gruff narration about heroism and a smoking crater. The teaser promises a June 12 reveal of the full trailer for Titanfall 2. There is some speculation that Titanfall 2 might be exclusive to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, unlike its predecessor which straddled the line between last and next-gen systems. We will definitely learn more when E3 2016 rolls around.
  12. 1 point
    The deep sea survival game Subnautica is free for a limited time through the Epic Games Launcher. This follows closely on the heels of Epic's announcement of an Epic digital distribution service that begins with their launcher. And even better? Epic says they will be releasing a free game every two weeks until the end of 2019! Subnautica debuted to the world four years ago as an Early Access title through Steam. After years of additional development, the seafaring title released fully in January of this year. The game places players in a dire survival scenario: Their spaceship has crashed, seemingly with all hands either lost or dead. Players end up having to fend for themselves on an uncharted ocean world. Securing resources, salvaging gear, upgrading equipment, researching upgrades, and constructing a base of operations all become engrossing activities. It only recently launched on consoles, and unfortunately the free version seems to be exclusive to PC for now. Announced via Epic Games, the company has launched its year-long free game service with Subnautica, an offer which will disappear on December 27 to be replaced by a new free title. The service itself is free - all that you need to do to download the free biweekly game is to download the Epic Games Launcher and download the free title from there. From that point on, it's yours to keep with no strings attached. While a schedule of the games coming to the platform have yet to be announced, we do know that the next game heading to Epic users for free will be Team Meat's classic platformer Super Meat Boy. This move to distribute free games doesn't come out of the goodness of Epic Games' heart, however. The company is making an effort to capitalize on the 200 million people who play Fortnite through their service, a number that absolutely dwarfs juggernauts of the industry like Steam, which boasted a record 18.5 million users in January of this year. If even 10% of Epic's user base begins to use Epic Games as their go-to digital platform of choice, things could really begin to shake up in the slowly crowding digital distribution market. Undoubtedly, the allure of free games for an entire year will keep people opening up the Epic Games platform and building a collection of titles that could potentially include a few games they picked up on the storefront beyond the free games. It's a perfect way to rope in people who are already playing Fortnite and bring in new blood who want free games. Overall, this will likely accelerate some degree of competition between the biggest digital storefronts like Steam, Good Old Games, and Origin. With free games bringing in users and a better cost sharing arrangement than other platforms, Epic really does have a shot at securing a spot as not one of the most used but the most used digital games platforms in the world. This could be the beginning of an entirely different digital ecosystem. Be sure to grab Subnautica on PC before December 27! 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!
  13. 1 point
    Epic Games is rolling in cash courtesy of Fortnite, the cool thing the kids are playing these days (or so some cool kids tell me). What exactly has it done with all of that moola? Use it to start a digital storefront designed to compete with the likes of Steam and Good Old Games. "For the past five years, we've been building tools enabling Epic to bring our games directly to players. We built the Epic Games launcher on PC and Mac featuring Fortnite and Unreal Engine; we built a worldwide digital commerce ecosystem supporting dozens of payment methods; and we gained great economies of scale thanks to Fortnite's growth," said Tim Sweeney in his initial announcement of the Epic Games Store. All of this has put Epic Games on track to launch their storefront. The main selling point that Epic Games wants everyone to be aware of is their dedication to showing fairness to developers who sell games on their platform. A major part of their announcement states that all developers will earn 88% of the revenue from sales on the Epic Games Store, a piece of information that was accompanied by a chart comparing an their 12-88 revenue split to Steam's 30-70 (or 30-55 in some cases) split. The graphic also makes it clear why Epic Games is pursuing a piece of the digital distribution market: Devs that make use of Unreal Engine 4 automatically pay 5% of their game's revenue to Epic, but if Epic sells those games on their own platform, they can up that cut to 12% regardless of game engine, all while getting good PR for sharing more revenue with developers who sell through their store. It's a win-win relationship for Epic and those who sell through them. Given that Epic now has strong ties to an entire generation of gamers through Fortnite and the Epic Games launcher, this makes complete sense. They have the technological infrastructure, a readily available pool of customers, and the unique position to reap larger profits while attracting more developers. Another benefit will be a more curated atmosphere that lacks on a service like Steam that has already opened the development floodgates for practically anything to make it onto the platform. Sweeney wrote that the service will help devs reach their players by giving users a newsfeed that will update with information and updates from developers. Developers will also be able to reach out to streamers, vloggers, and bloggers through Epic's Support-A-Creator program to help get the word out about up-and-coming indies. The somewhat murky part of this is that through this program content creators will be able to receive a cut of the revenue (determined by the developer) from purchases made using their referral links. The first 24 months of the service will see Epic Games covering the first 5% of the revenue shared with content creators, so that's pretty neat. Sweeney's announcement was a bit lacking in details regarding exactly when the service would launch, though more details will be coming on Thursday, December 6 during The Game Awards. The Epic Games Store will first launch for PC and Mac before spreading to Android devices and beyond over the next year. Are you excited for a new digital store in the mix? Is a bigger revenue share for the devs enough of an incentive for you as a customer to switch over to Epic? 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!
  14. 1 point
    One of the biggest surprises of E3 2018 was the long-awaited formal reveal of the remake of Resident Evil 2. Twenty years after the launch of the original game back in 1998, and the time has come to rebuild one of the most legendary games of all time, from the ground up. In addition to a cinematic in-engine trailer, the game was also playable on the show floor. There are still a lot of questions about the game, how it feels, how it plays, and from which entries in the series' past it takes the most inspiration. After spending significant hands-on time with the game, I have some answers. Obviously, the first and most immediately apparent inspiration for this remake is the original Resident Evil 2. The E3 demo begins with Leon Kennedy in the lobby of the Raccoon City Police Station, early in the game, but after the original's explosive opening sequence on the streets of Raccoon City. Presumably, that chaotic scene will be represented in the remake, but it was not present at E3. Visually, I was surprised at how easily I recognized the iconic locations from the original game. Everything, from the lobby's maiden statue, to the white and green walls of the station's hallways, and individual rooms within the station, were all distinctly recognizable. However, rather than resting on nostalgia and being a copy-paste HD remaster of the original, the remake shifts the perspective to behind Leon's camera, as seen in Resident Evil 4, 5, 6, and the Revelations games. Don't be fooled, though: the feeling is nothing like those titles. To casual observers, RE2 looks like a slower version of Resident Evil 6, or even akin to Revelations 2, but it feels totally different, more akin to a much more recent entry in the long-running saga. In terms of tone and gameplay, this remake borrows the most from the latest entry in the series, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. From the looks of things, RE2 is going for a full-on horror experience; even the HUD is taken straight out of RE7. While the environments are recognizable from the original game, the remake runs on the RE Engine created for RE7, and thus supports its filmic, photorealistic style. The police station is no longer well-lit; it's almost pitch black at times, meaning Leon has to make use of his flashlight to see anything more than two feet away from his face. This creates a palpable tension and an overwhelming – but welcome – sense of dread. After a section of deliberately-paced exploration, I finally came face-to-face with a zombie, and was not disappointed. My immediate, visceral reaction was one of fear, and I was surprised and how I welcomed the terror. Much has been made of Resident Evil's infamous straying from its survival horror roots. After RE7 brought things back to basics with a straightforward horror title, many fans were skeptical that RE2 would be a step backwards due to its over-the-shoulder camera lending it a superficial resemblance to Resident Evil 5 and 6. Fortunately, this is not the case. The controversial over-the-shoulder, third-person camera from the series' most divisive era returns, but it's not here to facilitate high-octane shooting action and breakneck pacing; instead, it's here to offer a cinematic perspective with kinetic movements and dynamic zooms. At first, I chose to stand my ground and fight the zombie, and was surprised by just how intense the encounter truly was. Leon's Matilda sidearm has a slow rate of fire, the undead take a ton of bullets to bring down, and Leon lacks the martial arts prowess he exhibits in later titles. Lining up headshots isn't easy, but it's certainly rewarding, even if they're not an instant kill as they often are in zombie-focused media. Zombies are an irrepressible bunch, and I ultimately wind up opting to flee, rather than fight, which brings us to another significant change from the original game: since the environments are all interconnected, rather than separated by loading screens, zombies can follow Leon throughout the police station, although it seems the main lobby area is a safe space... During the demo, at least. The slow, deliberate pacing is akin to RE7, and the combat truly feels like every bullet has value. The final game will have an ammo crafting component, though I didn't get the chance to fiddle with it during my time with the game. I did, however, get to use the combat knife. While it's unclear whether the weapon has limited durability or if there are multiple knives to collect throughout the game, this new feature combines the defensive weapons from the 2002 Resident Evil remake with the classic combat knife fans have known and loved since the beginning. The knife can be used to open objects locked with heavy duty tape, from doors to cabinets. It can also be used in combat, either RE4-style or as a defensive item. Upon being grabbed by a zombie, Leon can counter their bite by plunging the knife into his attacker's head, which looks fantastic, but leaves Leon without a knife. Fortunately, it can be recovered by killing off the zombie and retrieving the blade from their corpse. One change which some fans have not enjoyed is the new faces and voice actors for the entire cast. While Leon sports his trademark "beautiful boy bangs" hairstyle, his face is noticeably different from what we've seen in the past, although it's certainly not as drastic a change as Chris Redfield's unexpectedly svelte appearance in RE7 and its "Not a Hero" DLC. Likewise, Marvin Branagh, who had only a minor role in the original game, seems to behave more like an ill-fated mentor here, giving Leon his combat knife, dispensing advice, and acting as something of a guide during the early stages of a game... Still, he's already bitten by the time Leon finds him, and he knows he's not long for this world. A few other changes include the reworking of famous "moments" from the original game, at least for the demo. In my time with RE2, I didn't encounter a single Licker enemy, though I did see its giant claw marks, and I also crossed paths with at least two of its unlucky victims, who had been violently torn apart. There's no doubt this game will earn the decidedly family-unfriendly M for Mature rating. There's also a new item, "Wooden Boards," which Leon can use to block enemies from breaking in through the police station's windows. Likewise, the game seems to be riddled with all new puzzles, as well as new twists on familiar tasks, offering new challenges to RE2 fans who think they'll be able to breeze through the new game just because they've spent 20 years mastering the original. This new take on Resident Evil 2 is not the game you knew. To call it a remaster would be extremely reductive, but it's not a straightforward remake, either. The 2002 Gamecube version of Resident Evil added new scenarios, characters, enemies, and twists to the classic Mansion incident of the original 1996 game, but it still retained the fixed camera angles, tank controls, 2D backgrounds, and most of the basic gameplay of the original. By comparison, RE2 is aiming to be an even more radical departure from its source material than the previous Resident Evil remake. Resident Evil 2 isn't a stop-gap release meant to hold over fans until the next game. It isn't an extended piece of obligatory fan service to act as counterprogramming to RE7. No, Resident Evil 2, despite being a remake which returns to an established place on the timeline, is the next Resident Evil game. RE2 is the next evolution for the series, combining the jaw-dropping terror of RE7 with the established story of RE2, creating a whole new beast. There's certainly an element of nostalgia at play here, but RE2 is clearly aiming to an unrelenting horror masterpiece without peer. It's not "Resident Evil for a new generation," but the latest evolution for a series which is constantly growing, changing, looking back, and moving forward. We'll find out for sure when Resident Evil 2 launches, on January 29, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 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!
  15. 1 point
    If Dan Smith isn't a name you know in video games, you should fix that mistake as soon as possible. At 18 years old, Smith won a BAFTA in 2016 for his work on a game called SPECTRUM, a solo project he had been working on since age 15. Ripstone Games saw the potential in Smith's game and offered him the backing necessary to fully flesh out the title that earned him such a prestigious award. Now, two years later, SPECTRUM has been renamed The Spectrum Retreat, fleshed out with puzzles, and given a more concrete narrative. With an impending release in a matter of weeks, I sat down with Smith to talk about and play his first commercial video game. The Spectrum Retreat has something of an odd story premise. Without giving too much away, players wake up in the spacious and immaculately ordered Penrose Hotel. Slowly explore the surrounding area reveals that it's a vast complex, empty save for a number of very polite robots that handle the day-to-day maintenance of the facility. However, no matter what you do, the robotic refuse to let you leave the hotel. As this reality begins to sink in, someone contacts you over the phone, a woman who seems to know that something is going on, something bad. She begins giving instructions on how to escape. Unfortunately, the easy way out becomes impassable and she guides you to a restricted area blocked off by color coded force fields. It's here that the puzzle-solving truly begins. The core conceit of The Spectrum Retreat, based on the mechanics from SPECTRUM, revolves around color. Players are able to absorb a color and use it to walk through barriers of that color and then swap it out for a different color. It's a simple mechanic, Smith even said it was one of the first puzzle concepts he learned when he dove into programming, but it's one that has fascinated him enough to build an entire game around the complex puzzles that can be constructed with it in mind. I saw the color swapping create bridges over chasms, walls, and can easily imagine that the uses only become more complicated as crazier geometry and gating mechanisms combine in future puzzles. The opening levels slowly introduce new twists in how space and the color mechanics can be used to create more elaborate scenarios in a slow, accessible way. The goal, according to Smith, was to make a tutorial that didn't feel like a tutorial, with players discovering how to proceed on their own. This approach certainly worked for me; I enjoyed the dopamine tickle across my brain as I discovered new ways to overcome each challenge. A large part of what makes The Spectrum Retreat so interesting is how the color mechanic works with the non-euclidean space of its world, an unnerving aspect of the hotel that carries over into the puzzles. Sometimes dropping down a hole will bring you back to the beginning of a level, but it could also bring you to an almost identical version of the level with a story hint or clue to the puzzle. Certain hallways repeat endlessly, but how sure can you be that its not part of the puzzle when you turn back and find yourself in a new location? Combine this uncertainty with more concrete areas that feature maze-like layouts and the potential for some truly stimulating scenarios becomes apparent. After the demo areas were completed, my character had to return to the hotel to "keep up appearances." However, Smith told me that as the game progresses, the comforting art deco world of the Penrose Hotel will begin to merge with the strange, sterile puzzle rooms, creating an unnerving sense of dislocation. He said that the overall theme of the game would be one that grapples with the downsides of escapism, how we can run so far away from our problems that the methods used to run can actually create far more issues with which we eventually need to grapple. The Spectrum Retreat launches on July 10 for the PlayStation 4 and on July 13 for Xbox One and PC. A version for the Nintendo Switch will launch later this summer. 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!
  16. 1 point
    Dontnod, the developers of Vampyr and Life Is Strange, released The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit for free just a few days ago. The narrative adventure follows Chris, a young boy who lives with his dad, throughout an afternoon of his life. It has a lot of heart, occasionally channeling the spirit of Calvin & Hobbes, and also quite a bit of darkness. It walks a thin line between the joyful attitudes of youth and the stark realities of adulthood, with all of the trauma and pain that entails. Sit down, kick back, and listen as we parse out the details of this interesting lead up to Life Is Strange 2. A correction: At the end of the episode, there's some mention of this free piece of content being the first episode of Life Is Strange 2 - that is not the case. It's a free prequel to the events of the five episodes that comprise the full game. The first episode of Life Is Strange 2 will release on September 27. Outro music: Kirby's Epic Yarn 'Blue Lava, Grass Landing' by The Hit Points (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03754) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday 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!
  17. 1 point
    Elijah Wood's company SpectreVision reminded everyone at E3 that their strange VR project Transference still exists and will be releasing later this year. While we didn't know much about it when it debuted in 2017, this year's showing revealed quite a bit about the game Wood described as a darkly twisted psychological thriller. Transference will tell the story of the unfortunate Hayes family whose minds have been linked by an experiment conducted by the father, Raymond Hayes. Players will flit between the three consciousnesses to see the perspective of each family member, but it rapidly becomes apparent that the data, their memories, are corrupted - and there's something else stalking through their minds. The darkly unsettling narrative hopes to achieve a disturbing atmosphere at least in part with its blended use of live-action and digital scenes. That's still not a ton of information to go on, but we will certainly learn more when Transference launches this fall for VR devices (PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) and the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sans VR.
  18. 1 point
    Overwatch has been teasing a new hero for a few days now. Following the recent cosmetics update Blizzard put out a short story update to the Overwatch lore vault. The new addition detailed a mission gone awry that had resulted in a severely injured Torbjörn rescued by Reinhardt. The aftermath of Reinhardt's heroism resulted in a letter penned by Torbjörn to his wife Ingrid. The letter reassures Ingrid that he made it out of harm's way and will be coming home soon... and that Reinhardt will be the one to name their daughter. That daughter is the new hero joining Overwatch: Brigitte Lindholm. Brigitte's abilities haven't been detailed, but from her new origin video we can guess that she will fit into a hardy support character meant to heal or reinforce allies on the battlefield while also able to take some damage by herself. No release date has been given for Brigitte's update, but players can expect to see her fighting for Overwatch in the near future.
  19. 1 point
    The Kickstarter for Chronicle X is in the process of winding down. The tactical board game currently sits at a little over $450,000, more than ten times its initial goal of $40,000. The project captured the imagination of board game enthusiasts with its gripping conflict between a group of players controlling branches of the Chronicle X military organization and the Overmind, an alien overlord controlling the forces bent on conquering Earth. Archon Studio heads the development on Chronicle X, making this Kickstarter the second game they've produced. Their previous game, Vanguard of War, a relatively well-received tabletop that also found crowdfunding success. Gameplay revolves around players controlling heroes who have access to special abilities and equipment. Players take turns trying to outsmart the opposing side. As the heroes take damage, their other capabilities will decrease, making every action and reaction count and placing a great deal of importance to characters capable of healing. combat takes place on a map composed of four tiles that offer different terrain and features that control the flow of battle. The Overmind player controls the various aliens that populate each of the tiles, working to destroy Chronicle X. Players will be able to work together between missions to build a base with different upgrades that can be used both between and during missions. The turn-based board game offers an impressive array of miniatures made of a specialized material that maximizes quality and comes in a single piece to avoid assembly mishaps. To give you a sense of scale, the miniatures generally stand 32mm tall with some reaching 80mm. The folks at Archon Studio have even offered a money-back guarantee for Chronicle X - if players don't enjoy their time with the game, they are prepared to refund. If the change of heart happens within 60 days of the crowdfunding campaign coming to a close, the company will refund in full. If it takes longer to feel unhappy with the game, but before the game ships out, they'll refund the amount pledged minus Kickstarter's processing fees. After it ships, if players are not satisfied within 14 days of receiving Chronicle X, Archon Studio will still refund the pledge. Overall, Chronicle X looks like a really fun tabletop game for a decently sized group of friends. You can back the Kickstarter until tomorrow to nab some nifty bonuses. What do you think? Is this a game you'd be interested in playing?
  20. 1 point
    Video games are wonderfully weird. We all know it, but sometimes it just needs to be said. That weirdness tends to surface in the indie world more than anywhere else. One of the games coming to IndieCade later this week really delves into that strangeness. The Black Window comes courtesy of Flux, an interactive story-telling studio that has worked on various narrative projects since 1999, often far outside the mainstream and with unique approaches to creating their experiences. In the late 1800s, Louisa Collins received a conviction for the murders of her two husbands in 1887 and 1888. She was hanged for her crimes... but was she truly guilty? Players are tasked with uncovering the truth by physically interacting with a custom made wooden spirit board controller to communicate with Collins' in the afterlife. She responds to a wide variety of questions as players delve deeper in their lines of questioning. It's certainly a unique take on mystery solving, but it's unclear if the game will see a wider release. People interested in fringe indie experiments can play The Black Widow for themselves during IndieCade this coming weekend, October 6-8 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California. You can learn more about The Black Widow on Flux's website.
  21. 1 point
    Blizzard has released a cool new short film focusing on everyone's favorite ice-slinger, Mei. The short, titled "Rise and Shine," tells the story of how Mei went from super scientist to Overwatch's resident freezer following a cryogenic malfunction. A lot can change in nine years. As always, this has us wondering why Blizzard doesn't just animate their own feature film. They are so good at making these extended animations. "Rise and Shine" runs the full gamut of emotions, at times sweet and adorable, at others sad and melancholy. Mei's journey isn't so much one of danger, although that certainly comes up. The majority of the short deals with Mei overcoming the challenges of adapting to a new and hostile environment.
  22. 1 point
    At the end of July, McDonald's held a Twitter giveaway. It was an innocuous event that took on pop culture significance because what they were giving away, their discontinued Szechuan sauce that had been used to promote the Disney film Mulan, played an integral role in the premier of Rick and Morty Season 3. This made the sauce a particularly prized commodity in the public consciousness - everyone wanted some of that sauce. In early August, McDonald's announced the winners and one of them happened to be Robert Workman, writer at comicbook.com and host of the ARG Podcast. Workman decided that rather than use it on food or drink it straight from the bottle, he would put it up for auction on eBay to help pay off some bills and give the rest to Extra Life, among others. Workman explained his decision in an interview with Inquisitr, “I intend to help out the Extra Life Foundation, which a few friends take part in every year with their once-a-year marathon; and Ablegamers, which my friend Steven Spohn is part of. It depends what the total amount is but I’m going to help these guys out. I may find a third organization depending on the total tally.” That eBay auction has now concluded with the sauce going for a sizable, undisclosed amount. Workman initially committed to donating 10% of the auction to Extra Life, but the auction quickly ballooned to a larger amount than he had initially anticipated. He decided to include more charities and give each charity an equal part of the proceeds. He shifted his giving strategy to benefit Extra Life, AbleGamers, Take This, Gamers Outreach, and Ronald McDonald House Charities, splitting 25% of the auction between the five charities. Workman shed more light on his decision to auction off the sauce rather than keep if for himself in a Twitlonger post: I found a buddy willing to list it on his page and we’re a go to list both the special case and the 64 oz. of Szechuan sauce together. I’ve had suggestions from people that I should open it and sell little tastes to everyone, but a. that would make me like a Scarface for dipping sauce, which I’m not, and b. it’d be nuts trying to measure it all, send it all and make sure everything’s insured. So this will be so much simpler. [...] I know some folks are going to be mad that I’m selling it. “Open it! Enjoy it!” Well, I would, but most of my friends are out of town and trying to fly in and set something up would put me more in debt. This way, someone who wants the sauce can really have it, and I can still enjoy time with my friends. [...] This isn’t going to be an auction where I take the money and run off to Mexico to open video game stores or whatever. Yes, some of it will be used to pay off bills and right the ship for myself, as it’s really been a long time coming. (And a few friends have noted that.) But this is also a prime opportunity to donate some money to charities like Extra Life and Ablegamers, and whoever else I can think of that’s worthy of donations. So depending where the final tally ends up, a small portion of these donations will be going to help out kids, handicapped gamers and others in need. That goes a much longer way than me guzzling 64 ounces worth of sauce – as entertaining as that might be. [...] I hold McDonald’s and Chef Mike in the highest respect. I really do. Mike has done an amazing job bringing this back for some lucky people to enjoy and I will do everything in my power to assure that it’s in the hands of someone that will truly enjoy it with a party of people, instead of just letting it rot away on a shelf for all to see. The point of this sauce is for people to enjoy it – not necessarily me, but whoever ends up with it. According to Workman's Twitter, the winning bid was placed by deadmau5 who should be receiving his sauce shortly. Enjoy it for all of us, deadmau5! [Correction: This article originally stated that the Szechuan sauce sold for $15,350. Mr. Workman reached out to alert us that the coveted McDonald's sauce had been sold for less than the going price and for an undisclosed sum of money.]
  23. 1 point
    10 Tips For A Great Game Day The time has come. You’ve registered, recruited supporters and donors and maybe even teamed up with a crew. You’re about to Extra Life. This gaming charity event is not for the faint of heart! Team Extra Life at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals wants to help you safely and enjoyably cross the finish line. Remember it's #ForTheKids: This is 100 percent For The Kids. Revel in the fulfillment of helping sick and injured children across US and Canada. You are saving lives, one hour at a time. Keep up the great work, and have fun! Invite Friends: Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, going it alone will have you wind up like the lone, sickly antelope at the back of the stampede. Keep up your motivation, increase your enjoyment and further your success by participating with friends and family — or strangers! Remember, you can also split all 25 hours amongst several people so consider a five hour-long party with five friends. Update/Check your Games: Make sure your games are updated, your PC and consoles have the latest patches and that you have ALL the pieces for your tabletop games before cracking them open for Game Day. Rest before, during and after your marathon: A runner wouldn’t pull an all-nighter before a marathon, so don’t slack on your Z’s the night before yours. Basic motor skills (the kind you, Gamer, desperately need) and mental endurance plummet with every hour you skimp. Be just as disciplined with keeping up on your comatose state as you are perfecting your game. And remember, if you are tired... go to bed. Get up later and finish then. Have a plan: Even if you don't stay on track, it's great to know what you're playing each hour, schedule breaks and social media time to let people know that your playing For The Kids! Stretch, move and exercise: Take breaks! Stretch. Walk about. Chat with a friend for a few. Powering through does not equal toughness in this game. Rest your eyes from the screen, stretch your muscles and take a jog around the block (or the house) every hour or two to get your blood flowing and keep your brain alive. Eat healthy and hydrate: Water is your new best friend. Even breathing requires H2O. Stay hydrated by keeping a nice, big 32-oz. water bottle by your side and fill it up five to six times throughout your 24—err, 25-hour trek (that’s right). Limit caffeine until you absolutely need it. That Venti cup of Joe or those Monster drinks should be a last-ditch emergency effort, not a plan of action. Treat your body like an engine. You wouldn’t put maple syrup in your car’s tank, so don’t put starchy, sugary, processed foods in your own. Stock up on energy-producing brain foods such as fruit, veggies, complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Keep nuts and fruit by your side instead of that family-size bag of Cheetos. Fuel your body right, and it will perform at those high speeds and long hours you need it to. Know how to talk about Extra Life: Have you "elevator speech" ready! If you're streaming, make a point to remind folks about why you're playing games for your local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Need a refresher? Check out Extra Life: Explained! Tell people what you're doing and ask for donations: Post on social media, send emails and make phone calls! Streaming? Talk about and share your donation URL. If you do not ask, then you're not going to get donations. HAVE FUN: We mean it (we even used all caps)! You're playing games and healing kids, enjoy yourself! BONUS TIP- Brighten the mood: Playing in a dark room might seem cool at first, but that’s not going to fly at 4 a.m. Keeping the lights bright during the wee hours can help “trick” your brain into making less melatonin, the sleep hormone naturally produced when the lights go out. But if your body is screaming for a nap, listen to it. Want more tips and tricks on how to have an epic game day? Check out the community discussion right here on Community Hub. Extra Life and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals strongly supports healthy and safe gaming. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s gaming, please visit www.cmch.tv for resources on healthy gaming habits for kids.
  24. 1 point
    Mass Effect has been a series dear to my heart since I played the first entry almost a decade ago. That original trilogy captivated a generation of players with a science-fiction universe into which BioWare wove a spellbinding tale of heroism that sought to answer some of the very fundamental questions of human existence. The trilogy ended on a note that left an entire Milky Way galaxy irrevocably changed – the kind of ending upon with it is difficult, if not impossible, to continue. To that circumvent that finality, Mass Effect: Andromeda sends players on a mission to colonize a completely different galaxy. Having left years before the conclusion of Mass Effect 3, several arks house the primary sentient species that inhabited the Milky Way. Those familiar races, the humans, asari, turians, salarians, and krogan, spent six hundred years in stasis pods to reach the Andromeda galaxy. This journey promised a fresh start for those who embarked upon it. The Initiative, the organization behind the resettlement, launched the Nexus, a gigantic space station that would serve as a new galactic hub, around the same time as the ark ships. Several “golden worlds” had been identified, prime targets for habitation for the various settling species. Everything was planned to the letter. Except very few things ever go according to plan. Really, that above sentence could apply broadly to Mass Effect: Andromeda, not just the story. No doubt most people reading this review will be familiar with the facial animation issues in Andromeda. While those animation woes are by no means small, the extreme focus on them has eclipsed a lot of the discussion regarding the more interesting problems that plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. When I think back on my time with BioWare’s latest attempt as a space epic, I remember all the time I spent on sprawling planets that initially held a certain thrill of discovery. I was an explorer! These were planets in a new and unknown galaxy! Who knows what kinds of crazy lifeforms or interesting encounters might be around any given turn of the terrain? Heck, BioWare even resurrected a planet roving vehicle and improved its handling to hark back to the original Mass Effect and its Mako tank. As I delved deeper and deeper into Andromeda, the game begin to feel routine. Why? Part of what contributed to the mundane atmosphere that pervades Mass Effect: Andromeda can be traced to the waste of its own fundamental premise. Players were on an adventure to an entirely unknown galaxy, a situation prime for introducing truly alien encounters. Instead of expanding the Mass Effect universe in interesting ways, players simply find more of the same stuff. BioWare took a creative approach to write themselves out of the corner they had created with Mass Effect 3, but chose to ignore many of the interesting elements that their solution would entail in order to bring everything back to some arbitrary status quo. Instead of encountering novel beings that would arise from a galaxy free from the cycle of destruction within the Milky Way, the two new sentient races encountered in Andromeda are humanoid with immediately relatable wants and desires. The main quirk of the angaran? They are more communal and open with their emotions. The main quirk of the kett? They have a rigid theocratic hierarchy based around genetics. We’re in a new galaxy in a rich sci-fi universe where the creatures we encounter could be anything: sentient energy crystals, renegade swarms of nanites that have achieved a hivemind, mouse-sized silicon creatures whose ways are completely incomprehensible. Literally anything could exist in a galaxy so far removed from any kind of interaction with the galaxy BioWare crafted in the first three games. Those interesting possibilities are shoved aside in favor of more familiar and “relatable” allies and villains. In fact, this desire to return to the pre-Mass Effect 3 status quo in a new galaxy even extends to some of the most thought provoking questions of encountering alien species. The most important part of first contact involves figuring out how to communicate. Entire films have been based around that premise *cough* Arrival *cough*. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation took an hour for Picard to figure out how a new alien species communicated. You could take it for granted in the trilogy that humans had figured out communications with the aliens of Citadel space decades previously, so it wasn’t an issue. Mass Effect: Andromeda spends not even five minutes on that subject with either of its new additions to their galactic cast of character species. Not only that, but the entire sense of scale, the stakes, and the urgency at play is skewed. If things go wrong with the ark ships, the entire initiative could fail. Even ground-level, no-name NPCs don’t seem too concerned, despite their desperate circumstances that present a threat to their survival. In one side mission, Ryder encounters two human pot heads living in the middle of nowhere on a planet where the water is so toxic it is literally on fire. The duo should be in the perfect position to know how monumentally screwed the Initiative’s future is, but they simply don’t care – an attitude reflected in how most NPCs react to deadly danger in Andromeda. Here’s an example: One of the primary locations in Mass Effect: Andromeda is an ice planet called Voeld. It’s one of the worlds controlled by the angara, but the player is told that it has become the front line in the war against the kett. When players land and begin exploring Voeld, the planet presents absolutely no evidence of any kind of protracted war. There are some scattered bases, some ships overhead on occasion, but nothing resembling an ongoing war. Heck, there aren’t even any craters to be seen. We know from Mass Effect 3 what a war in Mass Effect’s universe looks like. Palavin was a colossal battleground between the Reapers and the turians. Soldiers were breathless, tired from combat and wiped out emotionally. They did everything and anything they could to hold the line against an overwhelming adversary. Voeld has none of that. They even have entire towns – one of which has a hotel. They have scientists traipsing around researching animals beneath the ice or old ruins. The kett, supposedly an existential threat to the angaran people, seem at worst a nuisance. Very few characters act appropriately to the situations in which they find themselves. Most almost always go for a glib one-liner on par with Batman Forever’s Mr. Freeze, “Ice to meet you.” Arrived at what should be the sparkling hub of your new civilization only to find that it seems partially derelict? Time for a quip! Wandering in the belly of a completely unknown alien civilization’s living ruin? Time to just randomly activate things because you think you know what they do! Side note: Just once I want to see Ryder or their allies activate one of these alien devices only to find out it starts a giant alien weapon made to warp the planet into a star or some nonsense. They literally have no idea what these devices do, just their best guess and a human created AI that also is just making educated guesses. Then we get to the actual exploration, supposedly the core of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Very little exploration goes on. There are several huge maps covered with constantly respawning camps of enemies that stand between players and objective markers. The missions encountered in the wild rarely become anything more complicated than a fetch quest to get a thing from some bad guys. Sometimes pleasant surprises lurk at the end of seemingly boring quests, like gigantic robot boss battles, but often these grunt work tasks reward the player with habitability points. These points act as a kind of gating mechanism for upgrades, similar to the points used on the world map in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Outside of that, they don’t feel that impactful or important. Even raising planet habitability to 100% feels pointless. The settlements remain the same, some marginal rewards increase, but other than that there never felt like a compelling reason for anyone to bother unless they are a completionist. I’d like to contrast this approach with the original Mass Effect. While the first Mass Effect game certainly had problems, there was genuinely a sense of adventure. Every planet scanned might lead to something unique, like an ancient alien ruin or a collective of terrorists or rogue scientists whose experiment has gone awry. These sequences also had large, open maps that were filled with a lot of nothing and filler enemies, but enough was done to the planets to make them feel distinct and many of the encounters, though reusing assets, were written well enough to be interesting and involved player choice. None of that random exploration is present in Andromeda. I scanned every planet and found not a single unique situation or hidden adventure, only resources for crafting. That crafting system that BioWare touted in the lead up to Andromeda’s release? Unfortunately, it rarely feels impactful. I used weapons I picked up and they worked fine. I crafted weapons a handful of times and they also worked fine in slightly different ways. Most of the time the only things I was excited to craft for Ryder were improvements to the roving tank to improve its speed or boosters. For the most part, Andromeda’s supporting cast manage to provide endearing personalities. Drack as a krogan grandpa and Vetra’s lady-turian smuggler were fun additions to the crew, but on there aren’t any Garrus Vakarians or Tali’Zorah vas Normandys to really latch onto as standout characters. That’s something BioWare could build toward over time with sequels, but I didn’t feel any particularly strong connections with most of the characters in this first outing. The disconnect between the player and various characters in Andromeda largely boils down to the amount of inconsequential fluff that pads out Andromeda. There’s so much busywork with so little pay-off that players lose track of what makes the cast fun or special. There was a 15+ hour long period in my playtime where I was just bored with what I was doing. Oh no, a scientist put her thesis on a hard drive that was stolen by bandits. Time to drive to the middle of nowhere to kill them and get it back (and the solution is almost always kill some ambiguous “them”). Missions like this exist in abundance throughout Andromeda – little to no interesting character interactions, just straightforward affairs that have players going around the same big environments. When the worlds open up, players naturally invest themselves in the various activities thinking that there might be an interesting moment or pay off to any of it… but there isn’t. Instead, players start to forget what they’re even supposed to be doing or care about. The narrative loses its propulsion. Trudging through the motions of establishing colonies and checking off the soon routine alien ruins spread across planets while dealing with disgruntled colonists- it all becomes work. All of this should be fun – we’re using cutting-edge technology to forge a new home on planets full of alien technology and life forms we have never seen before. The first beat of life after the exciting introductory sequence occurred over a dozen hours later when I was able to take on companion missions. It felt like things were happening! I got to see characters interacting with each other! Some well-written scenarios that made me laugh or excited! Liam’s side mission in particular felt like such a welcome breath of fresh air it almost seemed like it was from a different game. When Andromeda leans into those more linear segments and allows its characters to be themselves with Ryder or other companions, it really shines. Remember the action button prompts that would frequently pop up in Mass Effect 2 and 3? The ones that allowed extreme actions to be taken during dialogue sequences? Those are so rare that I could count with one hand the number I saw in a full playthrough. It got to the point that I just pressed it excitedly when it popped up without really knowing what was going to happen and at least on one occasion that resulted in a character’s death. While ditching the Paragon and Renegade system of years past seemed like a necessary update, it also eliminated the short hand players could use to predict what kind of an outcome pressing the action prompt might have in Andromeda. Combat stands out as the most solid aspect of Mass Effect: Andromeda. This is the smoothest and most action-filled BioWare game to date and it just feels good to take down enemies. On top of that, the new jump and boost mechanics give combat a whole new degree of mobility that it never had before. It feels free and fluid, providing players with more options in a fight than ever before. The responsive gunplay and interesting abilities really come to the forefront, making it easy to sink a lot of time into the less interesting parts of the game just to discover the perfect combination of abilities. The smooth combat translates into an enjoyable multiplayer experience who enjoy the gameplay on its own. Players accomplish a variety of objectives around various maps before escaping in shuttle craft. Succeeding in these missions allows players to level their multiplayer character and unlock new weapons and abilities for that character. Some rewards also carry over into the single-player campaign. It's a solid experience, but I'm not entirely sure how much longevity it has for players who have had their fill of fighting from the core game. Unfortunately, the combat stumbles when it comes to progression in Mass Effect: Andromeda's campaign. Players begin by choosing specialties, but can decide to respec their ability points at any time from their ship or simply use points from new levels to unlock abilities outside of their beginning specialties. Only a handful of those abilities are gated to certain levels, meaning that most abilities are available from the start. This all sounds great, but the problem comes in when players discover their preferred play style and abilities. When that happens, the motivation to experiment comes to an end. Upgrading those abilities simply makes them more effective, but doesn’t change the player’s approach to gameplay. This leads to gameplay becoming stale toward the end of a prolonged playthrough, which is hardly ideal. All of this doesn’t even touch on the various glitches that can plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. These manifest in a number of ways. Sometimes the game randomly crashes. Other times NPCs duplicate themselves. This can happen during conversations and can be really jarring. Sometimes NPCs get stuck in world objects. Notably, a random NPC on the Nexus space station would stand still on a stage staring straight ahead. She unnervingly persisted throughout my entire playthrough. Enemies in the respawning zones around the various worlds sometimes just float in the air. Sometimes characters simply disappear from cutscenes or fuse with other characters to create horrifying chimeras. Note: A recent patch weeks after release managed to fix the bizarrely dead and distracting eyes that often appeared to be locked into a look of fear or surprise. That patch doesn’t fix some of the other issues most of the faces in Andromeda seem to have with emoting, though. Some characters have certain resting faces that make them look like they are perpetually smiling, regardless of the situation. This issue is particularly noticeable with certain versions of female Ryder or her ally Cora. Also, and this is really not important, but female angaran character models look like they weren’t finished. Compare them to male angaran faces and they seem to lack a lot of detail or defining features. Conclusion: Mass Effect: Andromeda has the potential to be built into something great, but that potential is buried under a pile of issues that range from structural to technical. These problems range in scale from insignificant to huge. That this game launched without a fix for something as basic as the patch that fixed how eyes looked is incredible. Combat manages to top that of its predecessors, but becomes mired when it comes to progression. The visual presentation of the various planets at times reaches awe-inspiring heights, but gets brought low by the facial animations and persistent glitches. The potential of a new galaxy stretches out for players to explore and define, but that promise gets squandered in a number of disappointing ways. All of that being said, Mass Effect: Andromeda succeeds in laying a foundation on which sequels could successfully build. This outing might not live up to the series’ roots, but the possibility remains open for the entries that are sure to come. Mass Effect: Andromeda is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
  25. 1 point
    The other day it struck me as odd that I had never seen someone put Waluigi in the place he was always meant to be: That one Budweiser commercial from 2000 that had everyone screaming wassup for years. I sometimes make stupid things to put on the internet and after rolling the idea around in my head I finally decided to put the internet's most beloved Mario villain into one of the strangest, meme-iest beer commercials ever made. I'm not proud of myself, but someone had to step up and do the right thing to bring this into existence.
  26. 1 point
    I've seen a lot of strange runs through many different games, but this one ranks as one of the most bizarre. When Bethesda's Fallout 3 begins, players go through a process to create their character. While most games relegate this to playing with sliders and moving stat points around, Fallout 3 allows players to "grow up" as their character, seeing different stages of their lives as they become adults. That process ends when the player enters the wider, blasted landscape of a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. A couple years ago, players discovered it was possible to glitch through the baby section of Fallout 3's opening and escape from the underground Vault before events flash forward to when the player's character becomes an adult. The fact that the glitch exists is in itself is entertaining, but one player decided that they would play through the entire game as an infant. And, well... this happened. YouTuber Bryan Pierre walks viewers through his attempt to finish Fallout 3 as a baby. It's actually pretty fascinating to hear him talk about the details of how this works and how strange the game's implications become when the protagonist is a tiny baby. For example, the baby's hit box is much smaller than normal, so many enemies can barely hit a crawling child. The video itself is about two years old, but it is very much still worth a watch to see just how far some people are willing to go to do obnoxiously silly things in video games.
  27. 1 point
    February has come and gone, leaving us with great announcements from the past month and some events coming in the near future. If you haven’t yet, make sure to sign up for Extra Life 2017 over on extra-life.org. Buckle in, because you are all freaking amazing! Community Update In just the first two months of 2017, over 4,500 people have registered to participate in Extra Life. Together, we have raised over $214,000 for the kids and we still have 10 months left in the year! If you want to take your fundraising to the next level, we’ve created some useful apps to help you reach more people than ever before. Who thinks we can raise over $10 million this year?! PAX East is coming up March 10-12 and the Boston Guild will be on site registering interested attendees. If you’ll be there, make sure to wear some Extra Life gear and swing by booth #10046 on the show floor to say hi. You can chat with other Extra Life community members and snag an exclusive Extra Life button (while supplies last). A huge thank you to Bandai Namco who, earlier this month, chose to support Extra Life through Humble Bundle with the Humble Bandai Namco 2 Bundle. Thank you to those who bought the 169,491 bundles and helped to raise $174,000 #ForTheKids. If you love Humble Bundle, you can actually select Extra Life as your charity of choice for all future bundles with one click. International Tabletop Day looms on the horizon. The official day this year is April 29. A substantial number of Extra Lifers have been planning mini-Extra Life marathons that weekend. If you’re planning one, make sure to add yours to the Community Site calendar! In preparation for the Nintendo Switch launch on March 3, we wrote up a primer on everything you need to know about the new console and its games along with some hands-on impressions. Check it all out and let us know your thoughts in the comments! Join us today and help us change the lives of kids across the United States and Canada. We have accomplished so much together and it’s only February, so let’s all keep pushing forward for fun, fellowship, and – as always…. For The Kids!
  28. 1 point
    Rime has been a long time coming. Developer Tequila Works began work on the project nearly four years ago. Originally slated as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, the game is now coming to multiple platforms. Rime centers around a young boy who, after getting shipwrecked during a storm, awakens on a mysterious, uninhabited island. A giant tower at the center of the island beckons the boy. With the help and guidance of a small fox and equipped with a strange, magical voice, the boy must reach the tower and uncover the island’s secrets. At this year’s PAX South, I sat down with Tequila Works Creative Director Raul Rubio and picked his brain about Rime’s development. During our talk, I uncovered several intriguing, lesser known facts about the highly-anticipated puzzle-platformer. Zelda and Ico Were Not Direct Influences “Ico meets Wind Waker” has been one of Rime’s go-to descriptors since the game debuted. Though an understandable comparison, Link’s seafaring adventure had zero impact on Rime’s conception. “I'm disappointed to say no, we didn't look into the Wind Waker.” Rubio confirmed. Tequila Works drew inspiration elsewhere, including films such as the animated works of Studio Ghibli. Raul stated one of the team’s main starting points was Journey. “Not the gameplay of Journey–the experience of Journey. In the sense that in Journey, the important thing was the journey.” Another, more surprising, influence has been the Jak & Daxter series. “In Jak & Daxter 2, you have this combination of platforming, open-world exploration, and, more importantly, you have this relationship between Jak and Daxter.” Rubio explained. “So in this game you have a relationship with the fox and he's your companion, your guide.” The Witness Connection While discussing Rime’s influences, I remarked about how Rime’s color palette and island setting reminded me more of The Witness than of Wind Waker. To my surprise, Raul revealed a relationship between the development of Rime and The Witness dating back to the 2013 Game Developer’s Conference. Both games had presentations at the event centered on their respective art styles: “And the thing is we both attended the other's talks because we were curious, and they found the same challenges we found, sometimes [similar] solutions, but other times we took totally different paths because we have different goals.” Rubio recalled. “And I remember that Jonathan Blow, they asked him literally this: ‘Oh have you seen Rime? Did they take inspirations from The Witness?’ I believe he said ‘Well, you should ask them.’ So now we can say, no, we didn't take inspiration [from] The Witness.” Raul said that until just a couple of months ago, he and his team hadn’t played The Witness. The reason? An employee rule to not play any other puzzle games during Rime’s development. Raul stated this was done to prevent Rime’s puzzle design from becoming “contaminated” by existing ideas and trends. Tequila Works could follow their unique vision rather than fall into the creative trap of only catering to player expectations. Legit Animation Chops One of Rime’s smaller but impressive elements is the boy’s animations. Subtle mannerisms and a satisfying sense of weight when jumping and climbing made me assume motion-capture was responsible. Raul revealed the boy was entirely hand-animated by a three-person team led by veteran animator Sandra Christensen. Prior to Rime, Christensen’s animation credits include LucasArts titles including the Star Wars: Force Unleashed games and Monkey Island, as well as other titles such as Psychonauts. She also had a tenure at Pixar, having worked on A Bug’s Life. A Blend of Cultural and Artistic Influences Creating a game that meshes aspects of different cultures is important to Tequila Works. The small team consists of a melting pot of nationalities, religious backgrounds, and artistic tastes. Rime’s aesthetic blends the individual artistic tastes and influences of the team members into a cohesive package. Raul explained, “Our art director was obsessed with The Master of Light, who is a 20th century Spanish painter. For other people it was Giorgio de Chirico who is the Italian architectural surrealist artist who inspired Team Ico. For other people, it was more like the surrealism of Dali and the negative space that he created. So in the end everything is mixed together.” The architecture and color palette of the Mediterranean coast heavily influenced Rime’s presentation. “It's like going on holiday to Spain or Greece” said Rubio. While such sights are relatively common for the Madrid-based studio, Raul revealed that he hopes Rime will make what seems relatively ordinary to him and the team extraordinary to the rest of the world. Childhood Experiences Drive Everything Rime stars an adolescent boy, and Tequila Works is committed to capturing the whimsy that comes from experiencing life from the perspective of a child. Raul stated that one thing every person has in common is that we were all kids at one point. “So the key to understand Rime is trying to see the world with the eyes of a kid.” Rubio explained. “And you are a child again, you can do things that you did very naturally when you were a child that you forgot when you became an adult.” Raul said he believes that one of those forgotten traits is the ability to be amazed by your surroundings without overanalyzing them the way an adult likely would. Capturing that same sense of wonder when players explore the remnants of the island’s ancient civilization has been one of the team’s key goals. To help realize that vision, Tequila Works studied videos of children playing in parks as a reference for how kids boldly attempt new challenges (especially when adults aren’t watching). Raul elaborated “You try to climb a tree now [you think], ‘Well if I try, I'm going to fall and [I’m] probably going to harm my hip, etc.’ But when you're a kid, you were not aware of the dangers of the world, right? Climbing a tree was something fun, not dangerous. That's the kind of inspiration for us.” Nearly every visible area in Rime can be reached by platforming, so Raul said he hopes that players channel that same child-like boldness when romping around the island. Rime’s controls and animation has been influenced by the protagonist’s young age as well. Raul explained that the balance of making the boy feel “fragile, but not literally helpless” was a balance the animation team was challenged to pull off. Every action needed to feel the way an 8-year old would, which Raul described as being “simple and complicated at the same time." I took Rime for a spin in a hands-on session and came away itching to play more. The puzzles I encountered, which involved using the boy’s voice to activate statues, were enjoyable and fairly inventive. Tequila Works promised increasingly diverse and complex conundrums throughout the experience. Platforming felt great and offers an enjoyable physical challenge on top of the mental aspect. Most of all, Rime’s ambient soundtrack and calm atmosphere make it a genuinely relaxing journey. By the time I finished, I wanted nothing more than to melt away and continue knocking out puzzles at my leisure. If the full experience continues to evolve in exciting ways, Rime has the potential to be one of the year’s premier titles. Rime launches this May for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
  29. 1 point
    Nintendo isn't well known for supporting downloadable content, but it seems that things might be different with their upcoming console release. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be sold alongside a season pass that gives access to several expansions planned for the title. This marks the first time Nintendo has ever offered DLC for a Legend of Zelda game. The first DLC will release with Breath of the Wild alongside the Switch's launch on March 3 with a second batch following sometime during the summer and a final pack at the end of the year. The pass for the full crop of DLC will cost $19.99. The first piece will add three new treasure chests that contain "useful items" and unique clothing options for Link. The second part of the DLC will add a hard mode to the game, introduce a Cave of Trials challenge, and a "new map feature." The final DLC pack seems to be the most interesting of the three as it expands the base game with new story content, a new dungeon, and more challenges. This move is so unprecedented that Nintendo actually released a short explanatory video for those who don't know about downloadable content. This move has been a long time coming. After dipping their toes into paid DLC for the first time in 2011 with Fire Emblem: Awakening, Nintendo has very, very slowly been seeing how it can successfully incorporate downloadable content into its premier franchises. The move toward mobile gaming over the past year has been a part of their cautious experimentation. Given how pretty much all of these moves have reaped massive rewards for Nintendo, is it really that surprising that Nintendo's largest franchise would be releasing with DLC plans in place? For more Breath of the Wild goodness, be sure to check out our hands-on preview!
  30. 1 point
    In 2003, creative partners Chris Delaporte and Patrick Daher released France’s first feature-length, computer-animated film Kaena: The Prophecy to average and mixed reviews. The two unknowns from the video game industry had still surpassed all obstacles and expectations even with their film’s lackluster reception. Their team of novices created a CGI film unlike any seen before by taking inspiration from video games rather than western 2D animation - a vision sparked by a chance meeting with Steven Spielberg. Its video game influences, however, didn't doom the film and its creators to their current obscurity. Trouble plagued Kaena's development, and its amateur team ultimately produced what critics called a world-heavy story told through ugly graphics. Regardless of the results, video games nudged Kaena into its unique place in the history of computer animated movies. Kaena: The Prophecy takes place on a dying world that evolved around a giant tree called Axis. When the tree’s life-giving sap begins drying up, its people refuse to accept that their so-called gods, sap creatures also struggling to survive on the opposite side of the planet, won’t help them. The protagonist Kaena sets out to save her people. She meets Opaz, the last member of an alien species known as the Vecarians, while on her quest. Through him, she discovers the origins of her planet and how to save it. The film’s history begins at Amazing Studio, founded by Eric Chahi and Frederic Savoir. At the time, Chahi was well known for Another World (AKA Out of this World), a cinematic platformer inspired by Prince of Persia. Chahi and Savoir founded Amazing Studio in 1992 to create their next ambitious platformer, Heart of Darkness. Chris Delaporte and Patrick Daher served as additional team members in the studio with Delaporte creating backgrounds and game screens and Daher contributing to the game’s many pre-rendered cutscenes. Daher was a self-taught 3D animator and video game designer. Delaporte was a graffiti artist and painter until Starwatcher, a canceled film that was slated to be the first feature-length CGI movie, inspired him to become a 3D artist. A pre-rendered teaser for Heart of Darkness appeared at E3 1995 attracting the attention of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas among others. This teaser showed a sample of the game’s 35 minutes of pre-rendered, computer-animated cutscenes. It impressed Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founders of DreamWorks, so much that they invited the Amazing Studio team to DreamWorks’ offices in California to propose that they abandon the game and make a movie instead. Chahi and his team refused, wanting to stick with their original vision and complete the game even though development had dragged on for three years and would continue for another three. Not all of Chahi’s crew agreed though. Disappointed with their team’s decision, Daher and Delaporte left Amazing Studio the same year to begin their own video game project. The idea of creating a feature-length film with computer graphics intrigued Delaporte. At this time, the first film of its kind, Toy Story (1995), hadn’t been released. Delaporte and Daher hoped to create their own game like Heart of Darkness with a strong story and nice graphics to attract Hollywood’s attention again. For the next year, they worked without pay on a demo for Gaina, the game that would eventually become Kaena: The Prophecy. Delaporte created the story and world while Daher developed the game system. In 1997, Delaporte and Daher pitched Gaina to Denis Friedman, the project’s destined producer. Friedman also had a background in the video game industry. Starting in 1982, he worked as a game programmer for Atari until Jack Tramiel, the founder of the Commodore computer company, purchased it. During this transition, Friedman survived as one of 50 out of 3000 employees that weren’t laid off. From then until 1997, he moved between the United States and Europe as a game producer and general manager for Atari, Brøderbund Software, and Sony. Friedman then left his job as general director for Sony Computer Entertainment France to found Chaman Productions and pursue his interest in producing animation and franchises that spanned multiple mediums. When Friedman saw the demo for Gaina, he not only took it as Chaman’s first project but also proposed to produce a television movie based on it. Delaporte and Daher readily agreed. The two of them created a two minute cutscene to pitch the game and 52-minute movie based on it to 200 professionals at MIP TV. The demo received such praise that Friedman decided to expand the TV movie into a feature-length film. He set its budget at 18 million francs, about $4.9 million. The team also renamed the game and movie project from Gaina to Axis to better appeal to English speakers and a more global audience. Chaman was ready to assemble a crew to create Axis, the film that would become Kaena: The Prophecy, but this was a major feat to accomplish in Europe at the time. Unlike the American film industry, Europe didn’t have established animation studios like Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks. Computer animation experts were also uncommon in France. Despite these difficulties, assistant director Virginie Guilminot accepted the challenge of building a crew of 3D artists from across Europe. With ages ranging from 20 to 30 years old, people with more talent, versatility, and motivation than experience ultimately made up the motley crew. Artists from the video game industry formed the team’s core, and beginner graphic designers and professionals from the audiovisual industry joined them. Delaporte originally filled the role of writer and artistic director, but after several months of confusion he realized that he would need to step up as the film’s director if he wanted it to reflect his vision. Friedman gave him permission to direct provided that he worked with a co-director. This would be Pascal Pinion, a traditional animator and storyboard artist for various American, British, and French television shows and films including Doug and the computer animated series Insektors. Patrick Bonneau took the role of animation director. In favor of finding a job in France, Bonneau had just ended a six year contract at George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Music where he contributed to films like Men in Black and Star Wars: Episode I. Starting with a team of 10, film production on Axis formally began in 1997. Over the next three years, Delaporte and the team wrote and polished the script to ensure that it targeted its intended audience and completed pre-production on the film. The script went through twelve versions in a year and a half. Japanese anime such as Akira greatly influenced Delaporte, who found it amazing that animated films could target adult audiences. Most western animated films at the time didn’t do this. Delaporte, 25 when he started writing Axis, determined that he would create a film that he as a young adult wanted to watch. Axis’ success would rely on an audience segment of 15 to 25-year-olds that larger studios in the animation industry had mostly ignored. Importantly, this segment also consumed the largest amount of video games and comics. Delaporte and the team targeted that demographic, creating a Lara Croft-like protagonist with an exaggerated feminine form and scanty clothing. The themes of the film also focused on the transition from childhood to adulthood, a relatable concept for teenagers. While the film originated in France, Delaporte and Friedman wanted to produce it in English. The team felt that Axis’ universal coming-of-age theme would be best portrayed in a more globally known language than French. The assembled cast included Kirsten Dunst, who played Kiki in the English dub of Kiki’s Delivery Service, as Kaena and Richard Harris, the original Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, as Opaz. On a side note, Kaena: The Prophecy, as Richard Harris’ last film, is dedicated in his memory. The production phase and animation began in 2000, and the inexperienced crew quickly realized their weaknesses. Their 3D character models had too many polygons to render in a reasonable time, requiring that the crew remodel all of them. Most prominently, however, Friedman grossly underestimated the film’s original budget. Because they didn’t have the money to invest in custom-made tools and plugins for special effects and animations, the team relied on commercially available software, often using them unconventionally to attain the desired results. The team used software meant for fabric, for example, to create hair. This would later make Kaena: The Prophecy the first computer-animated film of this scale to use only out-of-the-box software and hardware. The team also didn’t have the luxury to update the film as technology improved throughout its development like larger production houses commonly did. Its ambition made the novice studio the laughing stock of the industry, but that only made its team more determined to succeed. In the wake of the failures of other adult-oriented animated films, including Titan AE and the box office bomb Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, no one believed Axis would pay off. Its original science fiction story and unconventional art style, mixing Japanese anime-like artwork, European imagery, video game-reminiscent characters, and sepia tone realism, also made Axis a risky venture. Combine these factors with a crew that spent as much time botching and redoing as they did making the film, the studio looked both incompetent and naïve. Chaman Productions forged on, however, even beginning production on the accompanying Axis video game for the PlayStation 2. Twenty members of Chaman co-developed it with an additional team of five from Namco in Japan. Friedman also discussed tentative plans for releasing the game on the GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and Xbox and future plans for more Axis games and movies with Gamespot in 2001. Later that year, the project went through its final name change. The Axis video game became Kaena, and the film became Kaena: The Prophecy. At the height of the movie’s production, the team swelled to 70 people, which included members of Canadian studios who would animate 70% of the movie. At the midpoint of the property’s production in January 2002, Friedman promised that Kaena would appear in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as Shrek had. Two months later, disaster struck. Chaman Productions, weighed down by an unrelated multiplayer online game project that it was also producing, filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy took the team completely by surprise, its unexpected nature rendering it even more devastating. Delaporte, Daher, and Friedman dreamed of Chaman becoming the European DreamWorks and looked forward to continuing to work together. Those dreams were over. The next chapter of Kaena: The Prophecy’s development began at Xilam, the studio that would complete the production of both the film and companion game. Xilam, founded by Marc du Pontavice, was one of Europe’s leading animation companies best known for Space Goofs and Oggy and the Cockroaches. It was about to start production on Stupid Invaders, a computer-animated movie based on Space Goofs, when Pontavice heard that Chaman filed for bankruptcy. Pontavice found Kaena fascinating, its story inspired, beautiful, and dense with an intelligently constructed universe. The half complete film, however, suffered from an underdeveloped studio with no experience in animation. As co-founder of Gaumont TV, founder of Gaumont Multimedia, and founder of Xilam Animation, Pontavice had extensive experience in computer graphic, cartoon, feature film, and video game production, but completing the project would still challenge him. The budget for the film and game lacked an estimated 5.3 to 6.1 million euros, about $9.5 to $11 million, the film’s investors threatened to cut their losses, and the crew felt similarly disillusioned. Over twelve companies inspected the Kaena property, but only Pontavice had the resources and experience to make an offer to take over the project. Xilam bought the game and movie for a mere 150,000 euros, roughly $270,000, each. For the first three months, Pontavice directed the crew to create a new demo that would attract new investments and reinvigorate the team. Once he’d obtained adequate funding and improved morale, Pontavice reconstructed the full 70-person team and continued production in full force. Kaena: The Prophecy arrived in France in June 2003, and the game released the following year. Despite its French origins, the film proved easy to export and sold in more than 40 territories. The film cost a total of 14.5 million euros, about $26 million, making it the most expensive animated feature ever produced in France at that time. It won as the first computer-animated, feature-length film in France, but the Spanish movie The Enchanted Forest (2001) beat it as the first such European film. Xilam also finished the Kaena video game in-house. Namco published it on the PlayStation 2 in April 2004 but, bizarrely, only ever released it in Japan. From the time Delaporte and Daher began working on their initial game demo to the PlayStation 2 game’s release, the project spanned nine years. Since their release, the film and the game have mostly been forgotten, and the creators have moved on to new projects. The Kaena action-adventure game featured beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds akin to PlayStation-era Final Fantasy games, but its poor controls and limited release made it easy to overlook. The film had a slightly better reception, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination, but the recognition was not enough to keep it out of obscurity. After the film’s release, with the crew eager to use all the experience they’d gained, Delaporte began work on a sequel. He didn’t get far before the project quickly and quietly ended. Since then, he has turned his focus to producing live-action and commercials. Information on Daher is elusive, but he appears to be an animator for commercials. Denis Friedman founded a new company called Denis Friedman Productions. Over the past few years, he successfully Kickstarted and created the pilot episode of his latest project Urbance, a hybrid 2D-3D animated series targeting 16 to 25-year-olds. Marc du Pontavice continues to produce mostly 2D- and 3D-animated series for children under Xilam. Video games influenced Kaena’s development from its inception, but they shouldn’t be blamed for France’s first CGI movie’s poor reception. The novice video game artists that created Kaena: The Prophecy sought to capture the hearts of teenage and young adult gamers with a rich world, a mature story, and realistic but stylized artwork. Video games inspired, among all of Kaena’s other accomplishments, one of the first movies to explore the distinctive storytelling properties of feature-length CGI films. The creators dared to make a film for a mature audience with a unique story and an art style unlike any seen before or since. In an industry that to this day rarely ventures outside children’s and family comedies, they dared to make a film in a genre that no one has yet mastered in CGI film. While the fact that its creators were ambitious novices working in a young art form may have doomed Kaena to mediocrity from the start, it took people who didn’t know better to try what more entrenched experts would never do. Kaena prophesized that CGI films didn’t have to be translations of 2D cartoons into 3D or live-action into photorealistic graphics; the fledgling art form had as many great stories to tell in novel ways as any other medium. The challenge remained figuring out how to use it effectively to tell them. Video games inspired the Kaena experiment and have since inspired some of the most flawed, unique, bizarre, and amazing movies CGI has to offer. Imagine the films to come when just the right games motivate just the right teams to fulfill the prophecy that Kaena foretold.
  31. 1 point
    Article written by Jamie Glennon, a fourth-year participant who plays for The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I am an avid gamer! Ever since my first Nintendo in 1986 I’ve been hooked. What many people may not be unaware of is that I am the father of a daughter with special needs. My wife and I were over the moon to welcome Avery Grace in the summer of 2010. As first-time parents, we were excited to welcome our little girl into both our family and the world. A few hours after her birth, the doctor told us that Avery was born with microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition in which a baby’s brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size. This was the case for Avery Grace, and we were told to watch her future development. As we’ve progressed on this journey, along with developmental delays, Avery was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy and vision impairment. Needless to say, the past six years we’ve spent a lot of time working with doctors, specialists, and therapists; many of whom are at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful we are for the care and support Avery has received thus far. Having a child with challenges is scary. We could not do it without the support of dedicated healthcare professionals, programs available to assist, and other families with similar situations to ours. This brings me to why I am passionate about participating in Extra Life. Avery will require care for the rest of her life. I do this for my daughter. As a father of a special needs child, I am her voice and advocate. The comfort I find is that Avery is a happy, energetic and affectionate 6-year-old. She amazes us daily. She is loved ten times over and is well cared for. Through Extra Life we are able to share that love and support programs that help Avery and children like her with numerous challenges. I’ve experienced, firsthand, the kindness and generosity of those who support organizations like CHOP and CMN Hospitals. This will be my 4th year Participating in Extra Life. I am proud to say I am a three-time gold medal winner and with my current campaign have qualified for my 4th! Once again I am playing for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Typically, I'm a console guy. Xbox One is my "axe". With a new addition to our family in the last 18 months, I have not had that much time to play. This year's event will afford me to time to catch up on some games I've been games I've been neglecting like Batman: Arkham Knight, Destiny, Halo 5 Multiplayer, Guitar Hero, and Star Wars Battlefront. As we get closer to game day I will be posting my Twitch stream here http://www.emberit.com/extra-life-2016 Also, for every donation I receive for 2016, My toddler son is starring in a "Thank You" video. Thank you for giving me this platform. I am so proud to be part of this community of gamers! EXTRA LIFE PLAYER STATS Team Name: Ember It Team Goal: $50,000 Favorite Platform: Xbox One Why do you Extra Life? Tell us here.
  32. 1 point
    Article written by Lenny Scovel, a sixth-year participant who plays for Children's Hospital Colorado. During October 2015, I was in the midst of my annual Extra Life campaign, trying rather halfheartedly to solicit donations. My oldest daughter was pregnant, and we were anxiously awaiting our first grandchild. When we got word that our daughter was in labor, my wife, and our youngest daughter rushed to be by he side. Her labor lasted 80 hours. The baby was in the birth canal far too long, and less than a minute after birth, he had a seizure, and then another. He was rushed to the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, where he spent the next two weeks in the NICU. Our family held vigil, and Children’s Hospital held us. Ironically, friends of our family were also in the Children’s Hospital NICU at the same time. Their son was born a week before our grandson. Their case was even harder, with the newborn needing numerous surgeries. Extra Life suddenly became very personal. I doubled-down on my efforts and was able to raise over $1,600 for our event that year. I determined to fundraise mercilessly for Extra Life because I saw first-hand the important work these hospitals do. My grandson is healthy now. Yesterday, I saw a video of his first steps! I could see this moment because of the work of Children’s Hospital. I want as many parents and grandparents as possible to see those precious moments. That is why I Extra Life! EXTRA LIFE PLAYER STATS Playing For: Children’s Hospital Colorado Team Name: Colorado Gamers Team Goal: $7,500 Game of Choice: Table top games, primarily Euro games. Favorites include Twilight Struggle, Goa, Thunder Alley, and Shogun. Fundraising tips: Ask early and ask often. Keep asking. Use social media generously. Why do you Extra Life? Tell us here.
  33. 1 point
    During the episode of The Best Games Period on Bastion a few weeks ago, Daniel and Jack got off on a particularly long and detailed tangent on the subject of No Man's Sky. This wasn't a planned part of the episode, just an interesting back and forth on their experiences with the most controversial game of 2016. This isn't fully an episode of The Best Games Period or even an Honorable Mention episode - just an extended conversation in which Daniel and Jack try to suss out how they feel about life, the universe, and everything else encompassed by Hello Games' indie gamble, No Man's Sky. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Gradius Gaiden 'The Heavens Are Calling' by Ivan Hakštok and Sixto Sounds (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03371) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  34. 1 point
    The Japanese YouTube channel for the Resident Evil franchise has posted two videos showcasing Resident Evil 4 running in 1080p and 60fps. The remaster includes all bonus and add-ons that have made their way to the game in its subsequent re-releases since 2005. The bonus content includes New Game Plus, Ada Wong's side missions, a Mercenaries mode, assorted weapons, and outfits. The first video shows Leon Kennedy dealing with an onslaught of parasite-controlled villagers known as Ganados in the introductory level. It's definitely interesting to see what arguably became the most iconic scene of Resident Evil 4 rendered in HD (and with a player who very clearly knows what they are doing). The second gameplay segment delves into a slice of action from the mid-game in which Leon Kennedy and Ashley Graham need to navigate puzzles in a while the robed cult members of Los Illuminados advance up castle halls with shields and flails. Resident Evil 4 HD will release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on August 30. It will retail for $19.99 and be available both digitally and in disc form. For an in-depth discussion, check out The Best Games Period episode dedicated to Resident Evil 4 featuring game developer Erik Scott.
  35. 1 point
    Nearly 150 issues of Nintendo Power were pulled from the Internet Archive after Nintendo issued a DMCA notice. The issues, which included comics, walkthroughs, tips, cheats, and more, were uploaded seemingly without the company's knowledge by digital archivist Jason Scott and have since been removed. Though a common practice for old, out of print magazines, the Nintendo felt that allowing the archive to remain in operation would hinder its ability to protect its copyright. Nintendo's official statement reads: Nintendo’s broad library of characters, products, and brands are enjoyed by people around the world, and we appreciate the passion of our fans. But just as Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of others, we must also protect our own characters, trademarks and other content. The unapproved use of Nintendo’s intellectual property can weaken our ability to protect and preserve it, or to possibly use it for new projects. While taking down this piece of inaccessible gaming history might seem like a dirty move on Nintendo's part, the fact is that copyright law in the United States is largely incomprehensible and insane. Intellectual property doesn't enter the public domain for 70-120 years after the death of the original creator (in fact, the work of novelists who died in 1945 are only now entering public domain!). If Nintendo did allow the archive to remain up, it could open a crack in their defenses if they need to protect their copyright from profiteers in the future. For those truly sad about the archive being pulled, don't worry too much. There are over 21,000 issues of computer and gaming magazines available on the Internet Archive.
  36. 1 point
    I had the opportunity to sit down with Firaxis marketing manager Pete Murray to see an overview of what sets Sid Meier’s Civilization VI apart from its predecessors. Behind closed doors, Murray said, “you're going to see what's new with VI. We're going to show you things like un-stacking the cities, how you're going to build districts and wonders off in the city center. You'll see the active research, how the things that you do in the world make your civilization better, but you'll mostly see why Civ is so great.” With that, Murray began the accelerated gameplay presentation narrated by the soothing voice of Sean Bean. There seems to be a greater visual variety across almost every aspect of Civilization VI. One of the first things I noticed was that a new end-of-turn animation displays a neat day-night cycle to symbolize the passage of time. It’s a small change, but is both aesthetically interesting and adds a sense of time to a series that sometimes felt strangely static. Large, visually distinct structures appear within cities as players construct buildings. A lot of detail seems to have gone into the more vibrant, exaggerated aesthetic to visually convey information to players outside of the UI, which I think is a step in the right direction for an information heavy game series like Civilization. It seems that Firaxis will be prioritizing the utilitarian approach to visuals and trimming fat elsewhere, like the animated backgrounds seen in Civilization V’s diplomacy screens. VI appears to feature static, painted backgrounds behind more detailed character models representing the various leaders of past civilizations. In Civilization VI, certain resource improvements, such as rock quarries, can boost research toward specific technologies. “Quarries provide greater access to building materials, increasing our insight and instruction. Our builder’s efforts are not in vain,” says Sean Bean as a quarry is built and gives research credit toward the Masonry technology. One of the biggest changes to the Civilization formula is the ability to construct separate city districts on tiles within your borders. Sean Bean narrates the gameplay introduction of the new city districting mechanic by saying, “Our cities are now free to develop as never before. For the first time, our civilization spreads beyond the heart of our cities, allowing for the creation of new districts each with its own focus and distinct advantages.” For example, religious districts host improvements that increase faith and theater districts improve culture. Wonders also take up tiles within an empire. This means that players will have to be able to defend not just the central city tile, but all of their territory. To that end, military districts seem to be useful as strategic placements – they appear to spawn units when players become engaged in war. Combat appears to work similarly to Civ V, so unit stacking will not be a thing. I think it is safe to say that Firaxis is not a fan of the “giant death ball” strategy of massing an entire civilization’s worth of military might in one tile to steamroll everything in its path. Barbarians, however, are very much still a thing. “For there will always be those who wish to destroy all we have accomplished” says Bean, channeling his inner Boromir, “Barbarian forces continually prey upon our lands. […] To ensure the safety of our borders, we must defeat the enemy at its source.” The demonstration revealed that the time-honored tradition of hunting down and struggling with randomly spawned barbarian camps will continue in Civilization VI. Government policies are now represented by cards and each civilization will be able to make use of four policies at any given time: Military, economic, diplomatic, and a wildcard policy that seems like it could be used for culture or an additional policy from the other three branches. Precious little was shown of how diplomacy will work in the upcoming Civilization title. That’s perhaps one of the biggest gaps in what we know about the game at the moment. Diplomacy has always been one of the most fickle systems in the Civilization series. In a later part of the demo, after Sean Bean solemnly announces that “upon these once untamed grounds, our civilization grows. A new age is upon us and we find ourselves but one part of a larger world. We are no longer alone,” the player’s civilization proceeds to wipe out a neighboring empire, which has always had drastic diplomatic consequences. The demo doesn’t cover any of the diplomatic fallout, however, leaving diplomacy a giant question mark. Civilization VI releases for PC on October 21. There are still many unknowns, but the core systems still appear to be enjoyable and the new district mechanic and a revamped wonder system seem to be exactly the kind of thing that Civilization needs to mix things up on the strategic level. Here is hoping that Firaxis can nail an improved diplomacy system that players can really dig their teeth into while still being comprehensible to a more causal audience. Sid Meier’s Civilization turns 25 years old this year - make it count, Firaxis.
  37. 1 point
    This weekend the latest version of RPG Maker will be free for everyone through Steam, complimenting the 50% discount it is currently enjoying. Beginning today and lasting until May 30, Steam users will be able to use the software to feel out if it might be the tool they might need to make their dream indie game. RPG Maker provides prospective game designers with the ability to create games without the need for extensive coding (though knowing how to script events certainly helps). The latest version allows designers of any caliber to make the base of their game, with pre-made assets and scripts to help create the meat and bones of any RPG someone can imagine. "Our goal has always been to provide an engine that anyone can use, so that as many people as possible can reach their dreams of making a game," said Nick Palmer, the community manager with RPG Maker, "And this free weekend allows us to get that power into more hands than ever before." Anyway, this seems like a really great opportunity for those of you who might have a great idea for a game, but no idea where to start! Check it out sometime over the next couple days.
  38. 1 point
    Given the success of EA's Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena attraction at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, EA has been moving ahead with plans to create a Mass Effect ride at California's Great America in Santa Clara. Fortune reports that they are calling it the Mass Effect: New Earth 4D and it will be an in-theater experience rather than a roller coaster. Though it is an EA initiative, BioWare has been involved in the entire development process for Mass Effect: New Earth 4D, giving feedback on the art design, story, animation, and more. “It’s very important that we create an attraction that fits seamlessly in the world of Mass Effect, while including the elements we know are critical to making a good amusement park experience,” said Christian Dieckmann, corporate vice president of strategic growth at Cedar Fair Entertainment, “We want to ensure that dedicated fans and park-goers being introduced to the franchise alike walk away thrilled and excited.” New Earth 4D is set within the Mass Effect universe and,. according to 3D Live co-founder Nathan Huber, it takes place during the events of Mass Effect 3. The ride takes participants into space alongside the Normandy, Commander Shepard's famous (or perhaps infamous) vessel from the Mass Effect series. From there, guests are sent through a mass relay to Terra Nova, a planet where something has gone drastically wrong. While Commander Shepard is referenced, he/she does not appear during the experience. The ride will use 4K technology that was originally intended to be used on Michael Jackson's "This Is It Tour," but was sidelined after Jackson passed away in 2009. Halon Entertainment, a visualization and technology company, joined forces with 3D Live and used Unreal Engine 4 to create the visuals seen in the four and a half minutes that the ride lasts. Mass Effect: New Earth 4D launches at Great America in Santa Clara, CA on May 18.
  39. 1 point
    Gearbox Software is gearing up for the Battleborn open beta. During the 5-10 day beta, players will be able to try out the FPS MOBA's Story Mode or 5 v 5 Competitive Multiplayer. Players will have access to two Story Mode episodes: The Algorithm and Void's Edge. Multiplayer will have two modes/maps available: Incursion on the Overgrowth map, where teams attempt to destroy the enemy's two Spider Sentry Drones, and Meltdown on the Paradise map, where teams earn points for minion robots that make it to the enemy's incinerator. With 25 heroes to choose from, players will have more than enough on their hands to keep them busy for the full duration of the beta. To get a head start on the open beta, players can pre-load the game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC starting today for all regions. The Battleborn open beta begins on April 8 for PS4 players, gaining a full five extra days on the other two platforms, and April 13 for Xbox One and PC owners. PlayStation 4 players who participate in the open beta will be rewarded with DLC Pack 1 free of charge and instant access to the hero Alani at launch. PS4 participants who also purchase the season pass will also receive an unlock code for any champion in the game. Battleborn launches on May 3, 2016 for the PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One.
  40. 1 point
    Players can step into the role of Reynardo the Fox later this April as the rogue finds himself embroiled in a rebellion against an empire gone mad. But how does one overthrow an empire? Reynardo has a number of options that could work at his disposal, a number of destinies he could pursue. It is up to the player to choose what course of action the clever fox should take. Rescue an old friend in mortal danger? Obtain a crystal imbued with the curse of a dying god? Or maybe even restore a weapon thought lost at the dawn of time itself? A slight misstep might doom everything, but the right choice might just win the war. Spearhead Games promises that each path will lead toward a different kind of story, some could be dark, others romantic, and even a few comedic routes. All of them can lead to victory if the player pays enough attention. Stories: The Path of Destinies releases on April 12 for PS4 and PC.
  41. 1 point
    This week we return to From Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki to cover the beginnings of the Soul series. The 2009 release of Demon's Souls became the sleeper hit of the year, racking up awards for its gameplay innovations and solid, challenging mechanics. Despite a mixed to positive critical reception, Demon's Souls remained mostly overlooked until From Software's spiritual successor, Dark Souls. The popularity of Dark Souls had the effect of more than doubling Demon's Souls' sales. Can Demon's Souls stand on its own as one of the best games period or is it doomed to remain in the shadow of its sequel for all time? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Demon's Souls 'Abandoned by God' by RoeTaKa (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03238) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  42. 1 point
    Satoru Iwata was a genius and a hero to many in the gaming industry. His passing last July left many, including myself, with heavy hearts and the feeling that someone we cared about was taken too soon. At this year's Game Developers Choice Awards, an animated short was shown to honor and remember the late president and CEO of Nintendo. It is a beautiful, touching three minutes that I think really captures how a lot of people felt about Iwata. He was a man who wanted nothing more than to use his skills to make new, beautiful, wonderful things to bring a bit of happiness to people's lives. That's a bit of an unsung goal, but Iwata really gave it everything he had. Thank you, Mr. Iwata for making the world a bit better for us all.
  43. 1 point
    Edit: Part two released today completing the two part expansion for Pillars of Eternity called The White March. The White March brings quality of life upgrades like enhanced party and enemy AI, new companions, higher levels, and more. The White March adds an entirely new area in the bitter north, inspired by the setting of Icewind Dale. The addition includes a new hub area, new quests, and dungeons. Obsidian promises that this content will give players a great deal of game to experience. The addition of two levels to the level cap per expansion part (12 to 14 and 14 to 16) grants powerful new spells and abilities to use as players rank to the height of their power. New weapons and two new companions are introduced in The White March. The Devil of Caroc and Zahua, a rogue and a monk respectively, will join the player during their adventures through the expansion and remain with them afterward. The full White March expansion is now available. Apologies for goofing the story earlier and reporting that just part one released.
  44. 1 point
    We understand you may be waiting to register and book your flights for Extra Life United 2016 until more information on what you'd be getting yourself into is out there. Well, wait no more! Especially because registration will be closing at 11:59pm EST on Monday, February 8th! TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE Extra Life United 2016 will feature a round robin style tournament, where participants accumulate points for their performance each round. Participants will be placed in pods of 4-8 players depending on the track (PC, Console or Tabletop) and play a few different games with points being awarded to each round’s winners. On Thursday afternoon, the top 3 participants from each pod will be recognized and awarded prize money for their chosen Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. The first place participant from each pod will move on to the final round of the tournament and compete to win a portion of the Grand Prize Pool (a minimum of $100,000) for their hospital. Participants will be assigned to pods and have a chance to meet their competitors Tuesday night at the Extra Life Welcome Meeting. TOURNAMENT GAMES If you tuned into the official Extra Life Game Day broadcast last year, it should be no surprise that Rocket League is a team favorite. We hope it is one of yours too as it will be one of the games featured in the PC and Console tracks. If you’re thinking about signing up for the Tabletop track, we suggest you start practicing your bartering skills because some intense games of Settlers of Catan will be going down. We thought it would be fun to keep you on your toes and have element of surprise to your Extra Life United experience. Below are the complete game lists for each track. Note that we won't have time to get to all of the games listed (you can count on Rocket League and Settlers of Catan) so choose wisely on which games you spend your time practicing. Console Track Madden 16, Just Dance 2015, Halo 5, Quiplash, FIFA 16, Street Fighter, Rocket League PC Track Hearthstone, Rocket League, SpeedRunners, DOTA 2, StarCraft II, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends Tabletop Track Settlers of Catan, Blokus, Bananagrams, Sushi Go!, Fluxx, Connect Four, Boggle, Liar's Dice WAIT, THERE’S MORE! The fun doesn’t end when the tournament does. On Thursday, we’ve set up an “Open Play Night” for ELU attendees and our patient Champion families who will be there. Attendees will be able to game with and meet some of the kiddos that their involvement with Extra Life has had a direct impact on. These are some of the bravest kids you’ll ever meet who have gone through unimaginable hardships. While unlocking extra fundraising dollars for your hospital is great, gaming with these kids on Thursday night is the real reason you should register for Extra Life United 2016. You can 'meet' all of the Children Miracle Network Hospital Champion families from every state and province by reading their stories here. Those are all the updates for now. If you're on the fence about registering, decide quickly! While this event is something we wish everyone in the community could experience, spots are limited and registration is closing soon. For a complete schedule of events, visit the Extra Life United website here. REGISTER NOW! Hope to see you in Orlando, Jeromy, Mike, Rick, Liz & Laurie Team Extra Life Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
  45. 1 point
    Austin Wintory, the composer of the Grammy nominated soundtrack that accompanied 2012's Journey, and the Fifth House Ensemble are teaming up to bring a live performance of the thatgamecompany's PS3 title to venues across the United States. The shows will be performed alongside a live, full playthrough of Journey on stage. Sony has specifically created a soundtrackless version of Journey for these performances. Wintory has teamed up with Patrick O'Malley to create a new arrangement for the Fifth House Ensemble that will include bite-sized music pieces triggered by the live player's actions. The new arrangement will include new instruments not included in the game's original soundtrack. The project asked for $5,000 to make the tour a reality. In under 24 hours the Kickstarter managed to raise over $12,000. Players on stage will be selected at competitions held prior to the performances. The first competition will be held in Chicago by the Killer Queen Mercury Squad. Future competitions will be posted as updates to the Kickstarter page. Tour dates February 20, 2016 - MAGFest, National Harbor MD February 28, 2016 - Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago IL April 9, 2016 - Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton FL April 16, 2016 - University of Illinois - Springfield, Springfield IL
  46. 1 point
    Have you been dying to see backwards compatibility for the Xbox One? The wait is almost over. Microsoft will be releasing a list of over one hundred Xbox 360 titles that will be playable on the Xbox One on November 9, next Monday. This was confirmed by lead Xbox engineer Mike Yabarra in a tweet earlier today.
  47. 1 point
    While most of us will be focused on Extra Life on November 7, it might be worth sparing a glance or two at the Mass Effect and BioWare Twitter accounts. There will be opportunities throughout the day for people to win a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One emblazoned with the N7 logo. "I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite console on the Citadel" - Commander Shepard (probably) BioWare will also be streaming the entirety of the Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC as part of their Extra Life charity stream. All donations to the stream will be matched by the company up to their $10,000 goal. They'll be giving away a number of prizes directly on their stream, as well as taking audience input as to what decisions they should make throughout their stream. They will start streaming on Twitch this Saturday at 9am PST.
  48. 1 point
    In a blog post earlier today, novelist Patrick Rothfuss revealed that he has been courted by a wide number of movie studios after the rights to the property reverted back to him just before this year's San Diego Comic-Con. His ongoing fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicles has been a pretty significant success in the literary world and Hollywood thinks Rothfuss might hold the key to the next big thing in movies. However, the author apparently was hesitant to accept any of the deals until he talked with Lionsgate. Lionsgate offered him a deal for not only movies based on his books, but also a television series and a game. What exactly does Lionsgate have to do with video game development? Not much, though they did invest in Telltale Games earlier this year. Nothing official has been announced other than the studio and Rothfuss are working together to get some projects off the ground, but it is highly likely that we could be seeing an adaptation of Name of the Wind or a different story set in the Kingkiller universe coming out of Telltale sometime down the road, which is a highly exciting prospect to anyone who has read Rothfuss' work.
  49. 1 point
    Hello! My name is Jack Gardner, I write things for a living and have been given the privilege of joining the Extra Life team to create interesting stuff that gamers want to read. In the coming months you can expect to see news, features, interviews, etc. coming from me, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy them. I figure that it would be good if you all knew a little about me first. I have a degree in English Literature and Medieval History from the University of Minnesota. That degree basically means I’ve written and read a lot of literary and critical theory, as well as a fair amount of history (mostly dealing with the time period from the late Roman to the early Middle Ages). I got into English because I have been fascinated with stories and writing since I was small and, frankly, it is one of the few things I am pretty good at doing (in my opinion). As for history, I just find people in both the past and present fascinating. People are weird and have always been weird. I’ve been playing video games since the days of the NES, though I didn’t really get into gaming until I played Super Mario World. It almost seemed like magic watching that colorful, little plumber go on his adventure to save Dinosaur Land. Since then, I haven’t even considered NOT playing video games. Since I can write reasonably well, I decided that I wanted to write about them, though admittedly that dream was a huge leap of faith. So far, I’ve been pretty successful, writing for Game Informer, Official Xbox Magazine, Gameranx, and GamesRadar. I’m passionate about competitive gaming, or eSports, in particular StarCraft 2 and Street Fighter. Some other interesting stuff about me: I write creatively in my free time when I feel like letting off some steam or when I want to frustrate myself with writer’s block. I’ve published a book of poetry and short stories called "The Speech.” I'm never fully satisfied with it, so I constantly make revisions to improve the text. I read ALL THE TIME. Some of my favorite books, in no particular order, are: Out of the Silent Planet, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Scaramouche, and Lord of the Rings. I love Star Wars. I think that “love” might be a bit of an understatement. I watch Star Wars when I am sad, happy, stressed, or baking/cooking. There are just so many things that are perfect about it, it boggles my mind. I can play the trumpet, bass guitar, euphonium, and baritone (euphoniums, baritones, and trumpets are essentially the same thing so not as impressive as it sounds). I’m sort-of fluent in Spanish and I have an obsession with Godzilla and giant robots. Ultimate Frisbee is pretty much the only sport at which I am proficient. I like Indian/spicy food. Video game music soundtracks and remixes are amazing. Some that stand out to me are Kow Otani’s “Roar of the Earth” from Shadow of the Colossus, the Red Dead Redemption soundtrack, Legend of Zelda orchestral songs, and the Harry-Gregson Williams composed Metal Gear Solid soundtracks. Also, OCRemix is pretty much the best thing. A few of my favorite games: Shadow of the Colossus, Super Mario World, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Ace Combat 5, StarCraft 2, league of Legends Earth Defense Force 2017, Mass Effect series, Minecraft, Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros Melee/Brawl, League of Legends, Portal, Team Fortress 2, and Amnesia the Dark Descent (I have a hard time picking favorites…). Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @Riverboatjack I play a lot of League of Legends, so let me know if you want to join me during one of my late-night gaming sessions! I also have a website where I consolidate my work that is still under construction, a YouTube channel called Digi Brothers where my friend Cory and I play video games (currently on prolonged hiatus), and I co-host a rather easy-going gaming podcast called The Jacked-Up Indie and Mojo Show or The JIM Show (which has since been reformatted and relaunched as The Best Games Period). As someone who spent a number of years working with children as a camp counselor and cares deeply about the well-being of kids, I’m really excited to be working with Extra Life and helping in the small capacity that I can to bolster what I think is a fantastic organization. Hopefully, you’ll stick around, comment, have a good time, and when Game Day comes around we can have another record-setting Extra Life! Let’s all work together and create a positive, happy, and awesome space for gamers.
  50. 0 points
    Spoiler alert: Both machines rely on emulating games made for other consoles and handhelds. Soulja Boy has taken it upon himself to enter the console business by launching two new pieces of hardware with his name attached. Under the brand SouljaGame, the rapper released the SouljaGame Console and the SouljaGame Handheld, both of which seem to be part of a larger effort on his part to put together a line of branded products that includes the SouljaWatch, SouljaPad, SouljaPhone, and SouljaPods. While certainly an interesting business move, observers have noted the similarity all of the products bear to high profile knock-off electronics that can be found on services like Wish or Alibaba. Compare the SouljaGame Console on the left to the Product X PRO 4K Video Game Console found on Alibaba The reliance on emulation stands out as perhaps the most shocking part about the launch of these devices. The SouljaGame Console comes packaged with 800 console titles and promises to play games intended for SouljaGame, PlayStation, NeoGeo, PC, Sega, Game Boy Advance, and NES games. The console also claims to be capable of outputting 4K resolutions. Meanwhile, the SouljaGame Handheld comes stocked with 3,000 titles and claims to play games intended for Nintendo Switch, 3DS, PlayStation Vita, NeoGeo, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advanced. Setting aside the dubiously legal nature of emulation as an explicit purpose for a commercial product, the console itself seems to be a slightly repackaged version of the Product X PRO 4K Video Game Console. Both share almost exactly the same specs, right down to the built-in library of 800 games and the support of TF memory cards up to 32gb in size. Both consoles even make use of controllers that appear to be wholesale ripoffs of PlayStation's controller designs. As for the SouljaGame Handheld, it's even more of a mystery. The handheld's massive library seems to be an eclectic grab-bag of titles with the games advertised on it ranging from something that looks like an Incredibles game from the Game Boy Advance, an untranslated Pokemon game, Golden Sun, Sonic Racing, and more. It also claims to have download support and the ability to play games on the handheld on the television via a "connerting cable." The device seems like it can also play videos as it boasts MKV and AVI file support. Honestly, I don't know what to make of this. I don't think I could recommend anyone go out of their way to buy either of these machines, but I also can't deny that I have a morbid curiosity that makes me want to experiment with this strange collection of devices. On the other hand, with the recent revelation that Sony's PlayStation Classic runs on emulation, boasts fewer games, and is easily hacked, maybe there's a market for a dedicated emulation machine with a much larger library? What do you think of Soulja Boy's ambitious foray into the console and handheld markets? 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!
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