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Archive For October, 2010

In-Depth: Assassin's Creed's Brothers In Arms Talk Brotherhood

October 28, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Just one year after the release of Assassin's Creed II, Ubisoft Montreal is putting the finishing touches to follow-up, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Our own Simon Parkin sat down with producer Vincent Pontbriand, mission director Gaelec Simard, and multiplayer creative director Stephane Beaudet to discuss the challenges in delivering a sequel to a blockbuster franchise in just 12 months.]

Over the course of three, tightly spaced iterations, Assassin's Creed has grown into one of gaming's most heavy hitting series.

Its curious mixture of Da Vinci Code-esque narrative and stealth combat combined with a painstaking recreation of some of Europe's most beautiful cities has resonated with contemporary audiences, offering an action game-cum-historical tourism package that's at once fresh and familiar in gaming.

In the forthcoming Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, players pick up the threads of the second game's story, continuing the saga of Italian Ezio Auditore da Firenze as he faces up to the Templars, this time with an entourage of hired hands.

Primarily set in Rome, the game introduces various new systems to the host of additions introduced by its predecessor.

We turned to producer Vincent Pontbriand, mission director Gaelec Simard, and multiplayer creative Director Stephane Beaudet to explain how they went about meeting such tall ambition in what appears to be a small development window.

What were the main challenges in creating a sequel of this size and scope in a 12 month development period?

Vincent Pontbriand: The trick is that we actually had more time than that. A lot of the research had already been done for the city and history of Rome itself. We knew where we wanted to go with the story and already had a lot of gameplay prototypes and new concept we had previously brainstormed.

The multiplayer has been in production for over 2 years. Finally, when pure production started on the single player, we had the most experienced and motivated team so it made my job a lot easier.

GOG Adds Neverwinter Nights: Diamond Edition To Catalog

October 27, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Digital distribution platform Good Old Games, despite recent controversy, has been on a roll with its releases for classic Dungeons & Dragons PC RPGs in the past month: Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale: Complete, and The Temple of Elemental Evil.

But now GOG has put out a collection for the module-heavy BioWare RPG that wrecked me years ago: Neverwinter Nights: Diamond Edition. This release includes the original Neverwinter Nights game, its three official expansions (Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark, and Kingmaker).

For just $9.99, you get all those games plus downloadable bonus content: 16 wallpapers, a soundtrack, 28 avatars, 77 artworks, and more. And of course, this includes the toolset Neverwinter Nights is known for, allowing you to not just host and act as Dungeon Master for different adventures, but create your own module from scratch.

My hope is that this GOG release will send thousands of people back to the game, and resurrect my favorite team-based multiplayer game of all time: a Team Fortress-inspired mod called Neverwinter Tactics. Then again, if that happens, you'd see a lot fewer posts from me on here, as I'll be too busy hunting down rogues with a min-maxed elven bard.

Super Meat Boy Soundtrack Released

October 27, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Danny 'DannyB' Baranowsky, who seems to be the go-to composer for indie games lately (see: Canabalt, Glorg, Steambirds, etc.), has released a 97-minute soundtrack to Team Meat's XBLA/WiiWare/PC platformer Super Meat Boy as a digital download -- a physical special edition will hit late next month.

You can steam them the album's 33 tracks for free on Baranowsky's BandCamp page, or download them all for just $3.99 (you can buy them individually like a chump for $0.99, too). As is typical for BandCamp, the songs are available as a 320k MP3, FLAC, or any other popular music format.

You can read more about the soundtrack in this interview with Baranowsky posted by our sister site IndieGames.com. Along with talking about creating music for Super Meat Boy's '90s-style commercial and his OverClocked ReMix background, he shares this story of others accusing him of cheating in the game:

"The night before launch I got a new Xbox and gave my old one to my brother. When it switched my stuff over, it erased all my scores but kept my level count. As a consequence, it was saying that I beat 307 levels in 68 seconds.

Next thing I know, I get all these people freaking out and screaming at me for cheating, telling me I'm going to get banned from my own game!

It's funny, because I would hit them back and tell them what was going on, and it would always inevitably lead to them saying, 'I love your game, I love your music! Can you tell me how to get the secret achievements?'"

Okay, that's enough Super Meat Boy posts for a while, I promise! You know, unless more interesting stuff about the game pops up.

Column: Homer in Silicon: Have Him Bathed And Waiting In My Chambers

October 27, 2010 12:00 PM |

['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Emily Short. It looks at storytelling and narrative in games of all flavors, including the casual, indie, and obscurely hobbyist. This week she looks at Gamer Digital's PC casual time management game Making Mr Right.]

Making Mr Right [YouTube trailer] is a time management game in which your job is to coach a number of men into being the ideal mates for their partners.

To do this, you click-manage a studio (drag the men to the various stations where they can learn new skills, then move them on again before they get frustrated). There's also a building/community layout component borrowed from games like Build-A-Lot, and a gift shop where you can match-3 falling gifts in order to earn powerups for later.

I played this game in a haze of loathing. There is nothing about it that is well-conceived: each of the three types of gameplay represented is worse tuned and less interesting than equivalent games elsewhere. The story is horrendous.

The building portion is just bland. The goals here are usually to get a certain overall "attractiveness" rating for your community and to raise the attractiveness of specific houses high enough to get the people in them to commit. For some reason, ladies are more inspired to accept a proposal when they have two or three fountains in their back yard. This part of the game isn't especially challenging; mostly it's a matter of laying down.

The match-3 portion is supposed to let you earn powerups, such as patience enhancers and speed-ups for your male pupils, that you can apply during the time management level. You earn these by matching the special lightning, happy face, or other power-up blocks.

Akaneiro: Spicy Pony Releases Alice Offshoot Set In Feudal Japan

October 27, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Spicy Pony, the mobile subsidiary of Alice: Madness Returns developer Spicy Horse, has created a sort of iPad spin-off for the company's flagship fairytale series. Titled Akaneiro ("Angry Red"), the release is "an interactive continuation" of the Little Red Riding Hood story set in feudal Japan.

From Akaneiro's product description:

"When Red, called Akaneiro, discovers a magic scroll she is pulled into the story of the Big Bad Wolf trying to trap her once again. Akaneiro provides a stylized continuation of the classic fairy tale in the form of an interactive multi-threaded story that offers mini-games, physics driven animation, and a stylized narrative."

Narrated by Laura Coughlin and written by Paul Robinson, Akaneiro offers 50 pages divided into four chapters, with 33 animations and 38 interactive objects scattered around the app. With those objects, players must "help Akaneiro find the truth about her mysterious path through five puzzles".

Akaneiro is available on the App Store right now for $3.99.

DSiWare Trailer For Alt-Play: Jason Rohrer Anthology

October 27, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Sabarasa has released a new trailer for Alt-Play: Jason Rohrer Anthology, its second DSiWare release from the titular indie game developer following Primrose. There's no details regarding the collection's release date or pricing, but I presume this will be out in the next couple months if not weeks.

The anthology will include three previously released Windows games from Rohrer: Passage, Gravitation ("about mania, melancholia, and the creative process"), and Between ("about consciousness and isolation"), the last of which won the Independent Games Festival's Innovation Award in 2009.

If you can't wait for Alt-Play: Jason Rohrer Anthology's release and don't mind the lack of portability, you can download them all to play on your PC for free here.

[Via WiiLoveIt]

GDC Celebrates 25th Conference With Official History Outreach

October 27, 2010 7:00 AM | Simon Carless

The organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference are announcing a call for written memories, photos and videos from the past twenty-four iterations of the Game Developers Conference.

The public call comes as the event approaches 'GDC 25' in February 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and organizers plan an unprecedented digitization push from its own archives, utilizing an official GDC historian.

With almost a quarter-century at the forefront of the art and business of game creation, the first ever GDC (at that time the Computer Game Developers Conference) took place all the way back in 1988.

There were two events in the show's inaugural year, and a yearly conference going forward, growing to over 18,000 attendees and encompassing events like the Game Developers Choice Awards and the Independent Games Festival.

Along the way, GDC has seen keynotes and signature lectures from Shigeru Miyamoto, event founder Chris Crawford, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, design legends like Sid Meier, futurist Ray Kurzweil, and a host of others - and inspired tens of thousands of game creators to take their skills and inspiration to the next level.

To celebrate 'GDC 25', the conference organizers have appointed an official historian for the show in the form of noted technology archivist Jason Scott, known for his Textfiles.com digital archive and his history of preserving important digital artifacts.

Vanquish, Bioshock Demake Mock-Ups

October 27, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

When we last featured Junkboy's fantastic demakes created for European gaming magazine Level, we had a sidescrolling version of Mirror's Edge, a Gunsmoke-esque re-imagination of Red Dead Redemption, Dead Space for Game Boy and other impressive works to admire.

For his latest creation, the Swedish artist has turned Platinum Games' 3D, third-person shooter Vanquish into a Wild Guns-style "2D third-person shooting gallery". Junkboy says he loves these type of games and hopes to find time to make one of his own soon.

I've included another demake treat after the break: Bioshock "as if it was released in 1986" for the NES, mocked up by UK artist Shane Gill:

Interview: Big Sandwich Games Goes Looking For PSN Gold

October 27, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Our own Simon Parkin talks to Vancouver-based Big Sandwich Games' Tyler Sigman about the studio's forthcoming PSN treasure 'em up, Hoard and the "incredibly frustrating" challenge of business planning when there's so little transparency with digital distribution sales figures.]

After four of years work-for-hire development, boutique art outsourcing and consulting, Vancouver-based Big Sandwich Games is set to release its first in-house developed IP, action-strategy game coming to PlayStation Network on November 2.

Employing twin-stick shooter controls, players assume the role of a dragon in Hoard, flying over a boardgame-esque representation of a medieval kingdom, burning villages, kidnapping princesses and slaying knights while gathering treasure.

For Tyler Sigman, the studio's Design Director, the game is the fruit of an idea born eight years ago. We sat down with Sigman to talk about the process of bringing a new IP to PSN and the company's long term aspirations for both the game and the business.

How many staff work at Big Sandwich? What did you all do before this?

Currently we have a staff of 16, including contractors. We come from a wide range of backgrounds within the game industry and without. Our President and Creative Director, Glenn Barnes, co-founded Barking Dog Studios (Homeworld Cataclysm, Treasure Planet) which was acquired by Rockstar to become Rockstar Vancouver.

Rope Racket: Fun But Maddening Rope Puzzles

October 26, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Yes, another Independent Games Festival entry! We have nearly 400 entries from the indie game competition, many of them from well-known game designers and up-and-coming studios, so get used to seeing a lot more of these!

Developed by Untame Games (Bubblooba Online), Rope Racket is a puzzler in which you must stop all of the moving wheels on the screen with a rope pulled by a parrot. The first few stages are easy enough, but the challenge comes from the limited rope length, multiple ropes, bats, fireballs, moving wheels, and more.

And if those obstacles aren't enough, the game sends floating knives to stab your parrot or cut the rope, which forces you to restart the level and takes away one of your lives. Even more devious, at one point, I saw knives attached to the wheels, threatening to slash the rope if you didn't plan its exact placement.

You can play a beta version of Rope Racket ("actual beta, not internet beta") online. Untame plans to add more backgrounds, music, enemies, rope features, levels, and more. It also intends to overhaul the UI, offer a walkthrough and level tips, and port the puzzler to other platforms.

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