Pain dev Idol Minds rebrands and shifts focus to ‘narrative-driven’ games

Idol Minds announced today that it’s shifting gears to focus on making “narrative-driven titles” with its new StoryForge game dev toolset, and as part of the change it has a new name: Deck Nine. …

from Gamasutra News

Rockstar’s Parent Company Talks Microtransactions, VR Doubts, Nintendo Switch Optimism

During a speaking appearance today, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick discussed a number of interesting topics, including microtransactions, virtual reality, and the Nintendo Switch.

Starting with microtransactions, Zelnick said Take-Two is not trying to nickel-and-dime players, though he did acknowledge that the company has received some amount of criticism on the subject. Microtransactions are part of what Take-Two calls “recurrent consumer spending” and this is big business for the company, and highly lucrative given the margins on digital content.

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You can expect Take-Two’s future games to continue to make use of microtransactions.

“You can’t give stuff away for free in perpetuity; there’s no business model in that,” Zelnick said at the Cowen and Company 45th Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today. “But we’re not trying to optimise the monetisiation of everything we do to the nth degree.

“My concern is, if you do that, the consumer knows,” he said. “They might not even know that they know, but they feel it.”

Zelnick added: “Think about it anecdotally–when you paid a little too much for something, even if it was something really good, it really irks you. Paying too much for something bad is even worse. Paying too much for something really good, even if you can afford it, just leaves you with a bad feeling. We don’t want our consumers to ever feel that way.”

Also during the talk, Zelnick said Take-Two isn’t do as much in the area of microtransactions as its competitors, though he didn’t mention any by name. So you can expect Take-Two to try to walk the line of making more money per user, but in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the user experience.

“We are convinced that we are probably from an industry view undermonetising on a per-user basis,” the executive said. “There is wood to chop because I think we can do more, and we can do more without interfering with our strategy of being the most creative and our ethical approach, which is delighting consumers.”

“We’re not going to grab the last nickel.”

Grand Theft Auto Online was a significant contributor to Take-Two’s recurrent consumer spending revenue in the last quarter. Looking ahead, Rockstar has said Red Dead Redemption 2 will have an online element, though it has yet to be formally revealed.

Switching to virtual reality, Zelnick–who has been critical of VR in the past–started off by saying with a laugh, “[VR is] developing exactly as I said it would.”

He remains skeptical of VR: “So far there is not a significant entertainment market for VR software. I think that’s a factual statement.”

Take-Two’s Carnival Games virtual reality title “sold some units,” Zelnick said, while he also called out the NBA VR experience that Take-Two made.

Overall, Zelnick said Take-Two will support VR if the install base is big enough, which is the company’s plan for basically all platforms.

“If VR develops as a meaningful entertainment platform, we’ll be there,” he said.

“I am highly convinced it’s not going to be, ‘put on the headset, put on the earphones, stand up, hold two controllers, and do that for six hours.’ That’s very unlikely to happen” — Zelnick

“I am highly convinced it’s not going to be, ‘put on the headset, put on the earphones, stand up, hold two controllers, and do that for six hours.’ That’s very unlikely to happen,” he said.

A third major topic that came up during the talk was Nintendo Switch. Asked how much support Take-Two and its labels plan to give the hybrid console, the executive started off by pointing out, “We’re there, front and center” with the new NBA 2K game coming to the console this year.

Regarding Switch in general, Zelnick said, “We believe in it. We see it the way [Nintendo does]; it’s been a very successful launch. It remains to be seen how it does, but we’re excited about it. Assuming there is an installed base, we’ll be there. Not with all of our titles, but selectively.”

The Switch is Nintendo’s fastest-selling console ever, with sales passing 2.74 million units in its first month.

For more on Zelnick’s speaking event today, you can listen to a replay of the 40-minute talk here.

In other Take-Two news, the company announced today that it has acquired Kerbal Space Program.

from GameSpot

Survey: Americans under 35 like eSports as much as actual sports

A recent survey suggests “Millennials” (aka anyone between the ages of 18 and 34) in the U.S. are basically evenly split when it comes to whether they prefer traditional sports or eSports. …

from Gamasutra News

Teen Titans, Powerpuff Girls, And Beetlejuice Expansions Announced For Lego Dimensions

Warner Bros. Interactive has announced the latest wave of expansions for Lego Dimensions. This time, players can step into the worlds of The Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans Go, and Beetlejuice.

The Teen Titans Go expansion comes in the form of a new Team Pack and Fun Pack based on the animated series. The Team Pack includes minifigs of Raven and Beast Boy, as well as a transformable T-Car and Spellbook of Azaroth. The Fun Pack, meanwhile, contains a minifig of Starfire and a 3-in-1 Titan Robot. Each minifig allows players to access the Teen Titans Adventure World, Jump City.

Warner Bros. is also releasing Team and Fun Packs for Powerpuff Girls. The Team Pack contains minifigs of Blossom and Bubbles, as well as a 3-in-1 Octi and PPG Smartphone. The Fun Pack includes Buttercup and a transformable Mega Blast Bot. All three minifigs grant access to the Powerpuff Girls Adventure World.

The Beetlejuice expansion, meanwhile, is only releasing as a Fun Pack. It includes a minifig of the poltergeist himself along with Saturn’s Sandworm, which can be rebuilt into the Haunted Vacuum and Spooky Spider.

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The latest batch of expansions is the ninth such wave released for Lego Dimensions so far. Most recently, the game received an expansion based on the Lego Batman Movie. Other notable expansions for the title include Sonic the Hedgehog, Adventure Time, Ghostbusters, and The Simpsons.

Lego Dimensions is available for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U. The Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans Go, and Beetlejuice expansions are slated to arrive on September 12.

from GameSpot

Payday Designer’s New Game Is Actually Called GTFO

10 Chambers Collective, a studio composed of several ex-Payday developers, announced today that its new game is called GTFO.

That’s right–the developer’s game tells you to “get the f*** out” right up front. The studio is still being tight-lipped about what GTFO is, but it describes the project as a “four-player hardcore co-op action horror FPS.” How all those different elements are brought together is still unknown.

10 Chambers announced the name via a short teaser trailer, which you can see above. All that you can see in the video is a series of chasms or holes with jagged edges, as light flickers.

The developer isn’t even attempting to make GTFO appeal to broad audiences; rather, it is targeting a niche group of players. As founder Ulf Andersson said in a press release, “10 Chambers is completely self funded, meaning there is no board of directors that dictates our creative choices. We can go for a more niche audience–so GTFO goes out to the tight knit, die hard co-op teams of 2-4 people. Technically you can play alone, but really, the world of GTFO is no place for lone wolves and stragglers. They’ll die, lost in the game’s endless maze.”

There’s no word yet on platforms or release date, but 10 Chambers stated that more news will come later in 2017.

from GameSpot

Rock Band 4 Gets Big New Update, Here’s What It Does

A big new update for the music game Rock Band 4 is out now, adding a new Seasons mode and a Mission system, while a number of bugs are fixed with the patch as well.

Seasons, a change to the Rivals Challenge format, in Rock Band 4 run for eight weeks. You start with the Bronze ranking and move up from there; no longer can you be demoted if you take time off, which sounds like a nice thing. Of course there are rewards to rack up for moving through the ranks, and you can read more about them here on Harmonix’s website.

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As for the new Missions system, this is a list of tasks you can take on, examples playing five big rock endings and one that asks you to miss just one note in a song. Some Missions tie in to your Crew, where each member contributes to an overall XP goal. There are also timed missions, themed missions, and “Secret” missions, Harmonix says.

Here are some other notable highlights from Rock Band 4’s new update:

  • You can now press one button to look at the different items in the Activity Feed
  • The Feed has been streamlined, so you will no longer see notifications for when someone earned an allotment of XP, while Rivals notifications are going to be “far less frequent”
  • In the Music Store, recommendations now have “better individual tailoring”
  • The Rock Band companion app is updated with the ability to enter the Rivals hub and see scores and percentiles, XP earned, and an overall ranking bar
  • Vocal Overdrive has changed so you can disable audio activation so that a door slam or any other unexpected noise won’t activate the Overdrive
  • Stuttering and drag should be improved thanks to Harmonix doing “deep, deep code dives”

Here are the rest of the patch notes for the new Rock Band 4 update, as written by Harmonix:

Rock Band 4 June Update Patch Notes

Song Gameplay

  • Fixed issues to prevent seeing ‘Checking Setlist’ during an online session
  • Improved game performance during songs
  • Vocals can now toggle off audio-based Overdrive activation
  • Fixed an issue related to Pro Drums fast cymbal tracking
  • Fixed an issue with perfect solos awarding 99% performance and fewer points
  • Fixed an issue where Vocals would see incorrect post-song stats online
  • Fixed issues with disappearing gems on guitar and bass after pausing
  • Fixed PS4 issues with legacy controllers online
  • Fixed an issue with Pro Drums conversion for Spotlight Songs
  • Fixed an issue with the ‘roll lane’ display on Drums and Pro Drums
  • Fixed an issue with certain Freestyle Guitar Solos
  • Standardized a scoring issue on guitar and bass
  • Standardized the location of drum fills
  • Fixed an issue with instrument icons after a Big Rock Ending
  • Fixed an issue with Vocal scoring
  • Added lanes to some songs
  • Fixed an issue with BRE exploits
  • Adjusted track opacity
  • Improved visibility of beat lines on note track
  • Fixed an issue with the ‘Complete a song in Brutal Mode’ trophy/Achievement in Rockudrama
  • Fixed an issue with Play Together
  • Fixed an issue where the strum bar would not adjust Breakneck Speed during a song
  • Fixed an issue where whammy activity was not appearing online
  • Fixed an issue with songs that have No-Part on guitar or bass

Game Audio

  • Added new shell audio (menu songs)
  • Added new SFX to some events
  • Standardized song audio levels. Content from RB1, RB2, LEGO, and initial DLC now -3 db, RB3 and RB3 era DLC now -1.5 db, bringing them in line with Rock Band 4 era releases

General Fixes

  • Fixed an issue related to viewing other Crews
  • Level cap raised to 100
  • Can now Sort by Play Count(with retroactive data for plays)
  • Can now reset filters with one button to display all songs
  • Fixed an issue where Crews with projected Rivals Points exactly equal to their Tier’s Safe and Promotion thresholds would be incorrectly demoted or not promoted
  • Fixed an issue where some eligible songs might not appear in the “Rivals Challenge Songs” menu in the Music Store
  • Fixed an issue where the Activity Feed messages on the Rivals Hub would not correctly represent the most recent activity
  • Fixed an issue where Crews were being sorted incorrectly on the Find Crews screen
  • All Badges are now awarded directly to players, existing Crew Badges have been converted
  • Fixed a display issue for the Fame bar in Rockudrama
  • Crews that have not participated for two or more consecutive Rivals Challenges will no longer appear in the Tier Distribution or be included when calculating Rivals Points
  • Adjusted top leaderboard scores to address exploits that are now fixed
  • Removed deleted Crews from leaderboards, prevented future persistence
  • Fixed an issue with the speed of ‘Invite Friends’ in online gameplay
  • Fixed an issue with how ‘Rewind’ tracks appear in the Music Store
  • Fixed an issue when comparing users on the Crew XP screen
  • Reduced the number of Rivals messages that appear on the main menu Activity Feed, including Crew XP and Spotlight score notifications
  • Fixed an issue related to your visual placement on leaderboard screens
  • Improved legibility and spacing of font
  • Fixed an issue with Crew Admin notifications
  • Fixed an issue with text display in several languages
  • Fixed the ‘continue’ prompt on the Main Menu
  • Fixed an issue with the help bar on the ‘Send a Message’ screen
  • Fixed an issue where some places in Rockudrama had visual tearing
  • Fixed an issue where Recommendations in the Music Store could recommend content you already own
  • Fixed an issue where Recommendations in the Music Store could recommend content you cannot purchase
  • Improved suggestions made by the Recommendations section of the Music Store
  • Fixed a visual issue that caused song data to overlap other Store elements
  • Fixed an issue where not all players in a band would unlock Rockudrama assets upon completion
  • Improved some animation blending
  • Adjusted Awesomeness Detection

from GameSpot

Nvidia’s Max-Q Design Packs Desktop Power In Ultra-Thin Gaming Laptops

During a keynote address at Computex in Taiwan, Nvidia revealed its breakthrough technology for ultra-thin gaming laptops. It’s called Max-Q, and it’s made up of several PC hardware and software designs to fit a high-end graphics card into a low-profile form factor without sacrificing much performance.

Nvidia stated that the GTX 1080 can achieve around 90 percent of the performance of other GTX 1080 cards seen in today’s gaming laptops. With all that power packed in a tight chassis, the cooling solution and power management should be as efficient as possible, which is where WhisperMode comes in. It’s a software solution to emphasize peak efficiency instead of peak performance, though Nvidia stated the performance gap is minimal. Through WhisperMode, the hardware can scale back when a game’s frame rate is high enough to decrease power usage and temperature.

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In order for a manufacturer to build a laptop with the Max-Q design, Nvidia must be involved in the creation process to meet the proper thermal and performance requirements. The Asus Zephyrus was on display during the Nvidia keynote, and it sports a GTX 1080 and measures at 18 mm thick. It’ll also weigh around five pounds, have a maximum noise level of 39 dB, and come equipped with a 120GHz G-Sync panel. Gigabyte, Clevo, and Acer will be offering laptops with the Max-Q design, as well.

Pricing, availability, and specifications will vary between manufacturers and the models offered. We’ll have to see how Max-Q gaming laptops perform when they hit the market on June 27.

from GameSpot

Here’s The Xbox Scorpio Chip

It’s a big year for Microsoft on the console front, as the company will launch a new system, Project Scorpio, this holiday. We’re expecting to learn more about it at E3 or sooner, and now, engineering lead Mike Ybarra has teased the super-powerful console yet again.

Posting on Twitter, Ybarra shared a picture of Scorpio’s chip, with emojis for Scorpio, the muscly arms, a gaming controller, and more. Here’s the tweet:

In other Scorpio news, Microsoft announced recently that the console will launch in China this year. It’s notable since Xbox One wasn’t released in China until after it came out in the US and other major regions.

More details on Scorpio will presumably be discussed at E3 next month, during Microsoft’s briefing on the afternoon of June 11. Keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest.

All Xbox One games work on Scorpio, though the Scorpio editions can look and perform better, in some cases, if developers want to do that. It is a similar situation with PS4 and PS4 Pro.

from GameSpot