The Vote Over Evo 2017’s Ninth Fighting Game Is Reopening Old Wounds

This year, the Evolution Championship Series is giving nine fighting games the chance of a lifetime. The game that raises the most money for Make-a-Wish International (a non-profit organization dedicated to making the dreams of children with life-threatening conditions reality) will earn a spot during the prestigious Sunday finals. But with Evo 2017 donations in full swing, the tensions and disappointments of past years have resurfaced.

The games up for voting this year include previous entrants Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Pokkén Tournament, Mortal Kombat X, Killer Instinct, and even the iconic Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Evo is the largest and most important fighting game tournament in the world; as such, the disparate subgenres of the fighting game community wait with bated breath every year to see if their favorite games are included in the official lineup. The Evo organizers periodically go out of their way to open a spot to community voting and help a worthy cause at the same time.

While the donation drive has been cordial over the past week, things were a bit more heated the last time such a campaign was organized in 2013. The fanatical Super Smash Bros. Melee community (which had been absent from the tournament series since the game’s 2007 debut) had moved to the front of the pack almost immediately, but it faced stiff competition from indie darling Skullgirls. The results would affect not only Evo 2013 but the entire fighting game community for years to come.

Developed in part by longtime competitor Mike Zaimont, Skullgirls was embraced by a small but dedicated group of players when it launched in 2012. But even with its pedigree, the indie darling failed to make a splash in the Capcom-dominated fighting game community. When Skullgirls was included in the Evo 2013 vote, its fans were not about to let the opportunity pass them by. Melee, on the other hand, was in decline. Many saw inclusion at Evo 2013 as the next step to reviving the stagnant community.

As 2013’s fundraising drew to a close, the fighting game community had contributed over $225,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, with Melee’s $94,000 in donations beating out the $49,000 contributed by Skullgirls players. Last-minute pushes resulted in around $120,000 being raised during the final day alone. But even as spirits were lifted by these charitable donations, the contest felt largely unfair for the games left out of Evo 2013. Arguments concerning who deserved to be at Evo more, inspired by the fundraising competition, had left an indelible mark on the larger community.

“During the course of this competition, people seemed to forget that this is real money,” Zaimont said during an emotional, post-campaign speech. “Between Skullgirls and Melee, we raised $160,000 for breast cancer research. That is absolutely amazing. The fighting game community has a unique history; we are the worst enemies when we’re playing against each other, but when we’re done, we’re the best of friends. I saw a bunch of hate from all communities during the course of this contest, so I want to remind everyone that, at the end of the day, we are all part of the fighting game community.”

Despite an often shaky relationship with traditional fighting games, Melee was once again going to be part of the genre’s largest competition. In the years since, the Smash community has seen a ridiculous resurgence, growing from a fading memory to a staple of Evo competition. Skullgirls, unfortunately, was never able to make the main stage, but players carved out their own niche at events like the Chicago-based Combo Breaker. Despite the controversial addition of Injustice: Gods Among Us (which only raised $77 in the same donation drive) to the Evo 2013 lineup later on, the Skullgirls community has never let the emotional weight of these repeated snubs define them, and they continue to thrive by forging their own path.

With Evo 2017 donations in full swing, this year’s competition still carries the weight of 2013. Although Skullgirls is included in this year’s campaign, the players have largely ignored Evo’s calls for contributions, providing only $672 in the past week. Despite the money going to a good cause, some see another attempt at Evo recognition as a pipe dream not worth pursuing. The lingering emotions of years past have only served to sour some community members on the entire campaign, and an unhealthy, Evo-centric atmosphere has permeated through the rest.

Just like in 2013, a different pair of games is now slugging it out for the honor of being featured at Mandalay Bay. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Pokkén Tournament are two rather interesting cases. The former has been mainstay at Evo since its 2011 release, and the latter saw over 1,000 competitors during its debut last year. The announcement of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has put an expiration date on Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s lifespan. Meanwhile, a lack of developer support has made hope in Pokkén Tournament an all-too-rare commodity.

Both games have legitimate claims to another appearance, whether as a swan song before a new title launches or as thanks for showing up in such large number at Evo 2016. Fortunately, fundraising has been quite amicable compared to the drive in 2013, but some in the fighting game community still question whether this kind of vote is the best way to choose games for such an event, especially with the divisions it’s encouraged in the past. The inclusion of joke entries, like unreleased Switch title ARMS and cult classic Windjammers, over games with healthy communities further serves to undermine Evo’s importance.

When all is said and done, Evo 2017 is sure to be a spectacular tournament. But as the fighting game community continues to expand, Evo’s status has changed. Where it was once considered the pinnacle of competition, it now functions as more of a celebration of the genre. The competitive nature of Evo’s fundraising drive has inspired some communities, like Mortal Kombat X, to bow out altogether in favor of organizing dedicated side tournaments. The gap separating Evo and other high-caliber events is growing smaller and smaller, and players disappointed by their experiences at Evo have a huge number of similarly important tournaments they can attend across the world instead.

Like Skullgirls, it’s important for players who find themselves on the outside looking in to not let occasional tunnel vision define their futures. Should Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 miss out on Evo 2017, it still has tournaments like Undefeated and Curleh Mustache (not to mention and the impending release of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite) to fall back on. Pokkén Tournament has been welcomed with open arms by east coast organizers Larry “Shin Blanka” Dixon and Eric “Big E” Smalls despite a dearth of attention by its creators. And Killer Instinct, which currently sits in a distant third place, continues to earn outstanding support from developer Iron Galaxy Studios and enjoys regular high-level competition because of it. Games that don’t make it into Evo can still flourish.

The fighting game community is different from other eSports scenes due to the sheer number of titles huddled under its umbrella. Sometimes it can be hard to find the space a game’s community feels it deserves, especially with so much real estate being given to bigger franchises. But, like Zaimont said in 2013, everyone contributes to making the greater community what it is, from the 5,000 competitors duking it out in Street Fighter V at Evo 2016 to the Melty Blood diehards playing off a tiny laptop screen in the parking lot. To survive, concessions need to be made, especially at a tournament as important as Evo, but it’s also important to diversify the attention granted to underrepresented games and events. Asking, “Which games deserve to be at Evo?” only works to widen the cracks that naturally form between passionate communities.

Ian Walker is a fighting game expert and freelance writer. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.

from Kotaku

Game dev outsourcing firm Virtuos opens mobile-focused Paris studio

Virtuos, a video game development company best known for working as a contractor on games like Watch Dogs 2 and Gravity Rush 2, has opened a new studio in Paris that’s devoted to mobile games. …

from Gamasutra News

Aquaman Movie: Main Villain And Aquaman’s Mother Reportedly Cast

Big news today about the upcoming, Jason Mamoa-starring Aquaman movie, as it’s been reported that Aquaman’s mother and the film’s villain have been cast.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nicole Kidman is in “early talks” to play Aquaman’s mom, Atlanna. It is reportedly looking “optimistic” that Kidman will get the role.

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She is no stranger to the DC superhero movie market, as she played Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian, in 1995’s Batman Forever.

THR also has the scoop on Aquaman‘s main villain. The site reports that The Get Down star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is also in “early talks” to play Black Manta. “Director James Wan and the studio have been meeting with numerous actors for the part over the past two weeks, settling on Abdul-Mateen over the weekend,” THR said. “The official offer went out on Monday and the parties are now in talks.”

Abdul-Mateen was reportedly a finalist to play Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo movie, a part that ultimately went to Donald Glover.

Aquaman arrives in theaters in fall 2018, so it’s still a long time off. In addition to Momoa, Amber Heard will play Mera, the Queen of the Sea, while Patrick Wilson will play Aquaman’s evil half brother Orm Marius AKA Ocean Master.

from GameSpot

Lord Of The Rings Mini Reunion — See The Pictures Here

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series recently celebrated its 15th anniversary in December (doesn’t that make you feel old). And now, the majority of the Fellowship actors came together for a mini reunion of sorts.

Merry actor Dominic Monaghan chronicled the event on Instagram (via EW). He met up with Elijah Wood (Frodo), Billy Boyd (Pippin), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn).

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They had a good time, it looks like, as Monaghan posted a picture of the group recreating the Mines of Moria cave troll fight scene. They also took some selfies. Click through the images in the gallery above to see what they got up to.

Missing from the pictures are the other Fellowship members, including Sean Astin (Sam), Sean Bean (Boromir), Ian McKellan (Gandalf), and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli).

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series may be over, but Jackson is still making movies. Jackson’s next project is the sci-fi/fantasy movie Mortal Engines. The movie is being directed by Lord of the Rings veteran Christian Rivers, with Jackson set to produce. The script for Mortal Engines was adapted by Philippa Boyens, who worked on Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.

from GameSpot

12 Ways to Build Your Own Retro Game Machine

Image: Adafruit

With some 30 years of video gaming history now behind us, there’s never been a greater choice of retro games to dig back into, whether it’s on your smartphone or a classic console rebooted for modern times. For the more serious seekers of gaming nostalgia, there are plenty of hands-on projects you can attempt yourself, and these are some of the best we’ve found. So prep your wallet, brush up on your coding and handyman skills, and get ready to build.

1) Turn a Raspberry Pi into an all-in-one console


The Raspberry Pi is a retro gamer’s dream and there are all kinds of ways to relive your gaming youth with one of these mini computers. One of the easiest and most comprehensive is via the RetroPie software, which lets you emulate everything from a PlayStation to a Game Boy. You can even pack it all into a tiny 3D printed case. We’re especially fond of this one that looks like a SNES that we used in our guide for building your own RetroPie system.

2) Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Game Boy

If you really want a retro-gaming project to get your teeth into then this Game Boy one on Adafruit fits the bill. As well as getting familiar with emulators on the Raspberry Pi, you also need to build some custom electronics of your own and find a 3D printer to create a case to fit everything into, but the end results are should be worth all of that time and effort.

3) Turn a Raspberry Pi into a NES Classic

For those of you who can’t get your hands on a NES Classic or just want to get creative by building your own, there are several DIY options to pick from. Over at Howchoo you can find a detailed guide for stuffing an entire Raspberry Pi emulator setup inside an original NES cartridge (you’ll need to take the game out first) and hooking it up to your TV set.

4) Build an arcade cabinet

If you like to think a little bigger than a Raspberry Pi then there’s always the option of building your own arcade cabinet and instantly transporting yourself back to the 80s. This informative Instructables guide takes you through the process of modding an old cabinet and control deck, though it doesn’t cover configuring the PC that ultimately runs it all. For that you should probably check out the next project…

5) Build the guts of an arcade cabinet

For help with the electronics inside your arcade cabinet, few guides are as detailed and as comprehensive as this one from I Like To Make Stuff (it’s actually part 3 in a series). In this case an Arduino Uno is used to run the actual emulator and its retro games, but there’s a lot of other electronics to think about as well, including speakers, lighting, and controllers.

6) Build a mini arcade cabinet

Maybe a smaller arcade cabinet would suit your living space better and thanks to the shrinking size of modern-day electronics that’s possible too. This Porta Pi project is powered by the Raspberry Pi, as the name suggests, and can sit easily on top of a desk. You can buy the kit required from the links in the description and then put it together yourself.

7) Put a retro games console inside a controller

Games consoles of years past were nowhere near as powerful as the electronics of today, which means you can cram old-school systems into very tiny spaces—as this guide demonstrates. You won’t actually need to track down an old NES or Atari to cannibalize. Instead you use the MAKERbuino system, based around Arduino and compatible with the open source Gamebuino platform. Besides building a cool GameBoy like device you’ll also learn some basic coding and electronics skills.

8) Build your own arcade coffee table

If a full-size arcade cabinet won’t fit in your living room then you can convert your coffee table instead, and even add charging ports for your regular gadgets. You can use a basic PC system or a Raspberry Pi to run the emulator software, and of course customize the table to suit your needs. Lifehacker has a comprehensive guide on how to get it set up.

9) Put a retro console inside an original console

Many of us have outdated consoles lying around the house and some of them can be upgraded to meet modern-day audio and video standards. Again, the emulator-friendly Raspberry Pi can act as the hub of the whole operation, or you can build your own mini PC inside the casing you have, depending on how ambitious (and wealthy) you’re feeling.

10) Turn any PC into a retro emulator

The Raspberry Pi is a powerful system for emulating games, but some games need more than the processor punch of the Pi. Building a custom PC, or re-configuring an old one lying around is a great alternative and Lakka is evidence of that. The Linux-based OS combines two popular emulators and can run on almost any normal PC—with that done, you can then put your computer components inside any kind of housing you like, from an arcade cabinet to a 3D-printed Mario case and play the latest and greatest emulated games.

11) Use an old TV as a retro gaming console

There’s a lot of room inside old CRT TVs—plenty of room for a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie, for example. This useful guide from the Element14 community shows you how to fit the Pi and get the video and controller connections sorted, and if you’ve got an old television lying around the house then this is a great way of bringing it back to (retro) life.

12) Build a mechanical Donkey Kong

You can’t actually play this mechanical version of Donkey Kong, but you can build it yourself and marvel at its ingenuity. The designer behind it has put together a number of posts on the various bits that go together to make the finished product, but of course the beauty of any do-it-yourself project is you can tweak the instructions as you like.

from Kotaku

The Latest Call Of Duty Zombies Had Me At The Crystal Method

The second installment of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s Zombies mode arrives today on PlayStation 4, trading the colorful ‘80s fun park of Zombies in Spaceland with the ‘90s vibe of Rave in the Redwoods. The Crystal Method makes some excellent undead-slaying music. I guess I didn’t know.

The fallen movie director (Paul Reubens) who used dark magic to transport four aspiring young actors (Ike Barinholtz, Seth Green, Jay Pharoah and Sasheer Zamata ) into a zombie-infested space theme park with the launch of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare continues his cinematic assault in the first installment of zombie DLC, released today for PlayStation 4 players as part of the Sabotage DLC pack. This time it’s the ‘90s, and the setting is a forest rave gone wrong—beyond just being a forest rave.

Where Zombies in Spaceland gave us wide-open spaces to roam, Rave in the Redwoods is very cramped and corridor-based, so when you get into a wide open area, say the rave camp in the video atop this post, it’s very hard to leave. Throw in “Busy Child”, the song that was in every cool late ‘90s movie trailer, and it’s just too cosy to leave.

My experience with the mode so far consists of trying to play it on own, getting scared and quitting before I was eaten (you start with just a melee weapon and it’s so lonely), and getting into a group in progress and trying my best to keep up. If I stick to the few larger areas, I live. If not, I’m back in the afterlife Arcade, playing mini-games for a chance at being reborn. I miss my old Zombies teammates. Kirk, Stephen, other guy—call me.

What scares me most about Rave in the Redwoods is the Slasher, a terrifying and powerful enemy who only appears when the player activates the blacklit “rave mode”. As cool as everything looks when things go all neon, knowing this thing is waiting for the lights to come on makes activating “rave mode” a good reason to pee a little.

Other reasons to pee a little, Kevin Smith appears in this installment as another actor trapped in the ‘90s slasher film. Left 4 Dead (sorry) but surviving via his excellent climbing and hiding skills, his character helps the players survive.If you play your Easter eggs right, you might even be able to play as him.

There are three more DLC packs on the way, so the four aspiring actors aren’t getting home any time soon. Once wave 20 of Rave in the Redwoods is over, the team is transported once more, this time to a vaguely ‘70s-looking subway. If there’s anything that can tear me away from “Busy Child.” it’s some good funk.

If you’re not into finding secrets for yourself, check out CodeNamePizza’s excellent guide below.

Rave in the Redwoods was released today on PlayStation 4 with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s Sabotage DLC pack, which also includes four new multiplayer maps: Renaissance, Noir, Neon and Dominion. The PC and Xbox One DLC will be available later, because timed exclusivity agreements.

from Kotaku

EA Is Not Making Skate 4 Right Now

An Electronic Arts community manager recently tweeted about Skate 4, fueling speculation that the company might be working on its long-dormant skateboarding series.

It’s not happening, at least not yet, EA has confirmed. During an earnings call today, EA CEO Andrew Wilson confirmed that EA is “not presently making Skate 4.” He joked that this is a big disappointment for EA CFO Blake Jorgensen, who is apparently a fan of the series.

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The Skate series has been dormant since 2010’s Skate 3 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. More recently, EA made a lot of people happy by adding the game to the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility catalog.

EA hasn’t ruled out eventually making a new Skate game, but it doesn’t appear that it will happen anytime soon or ever.

In other skateboard video game news, Tony Hawk has confirmed that he’s thinking about making a new game–and it won’t be with Activision. There is nothing that connects Hawk’s new game to EA.

For more on EA’s earnings report today, check out the stories below:

from GameSpot

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Gets New Art, But No Details

Those hoping for news on Final Fantasy VII Remake out of a Square Enix event dedicated to the series’ 30-year anniversary today have only a lone new image to devour.

In lieu of any new details about the game, Square Enix released a piece of key art for the in-development remake. You can check out the image below; it shows Cloud standing with his sword in front of Midgar, with Sephiroth towering over everything in the background.

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Beyond that, there was no news related to Final Fantasy VII out of the event. We did, however, learn more about upcoming DLC for Final Fantasy XV and a release date for the remake of Final Fantasy XII.

The absence of anything beyond a piece of artwork–not even a screenshot–came as a disappointment to many. Not only did Square Enix mark the 30-year anniversary of Final Fantasy with today’s event, but Final Fantasy VII is also celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Director Tetsuya Nomura, who is also at work on Kingdom Hearts III, recently suggested the remake was still far off. He did, however, say he hoped to show both of his projects off in 2017.

“Last year, I didn’t put out much information on either title, but this year I want to show our progress at an event somewhere,” he said. “The release of the titles themselves have still have a way to go. But there are many titles releasing this year, if you can wait for any ‘surprises.’”

from GameSpot