| Remaking the Legend - Halo 2: Anniversary Documentary on Friday, Oct. 31 |
When 343 Industries set out to create Halo: The Master Chief Collection, they faced a unique challenge. A decade after the original release of Halo 2, fans of the Halo franchise held a special place in their hearts for the title. As the team at 343 celebrated the franchise’s rich history and the evolving story of the Master Chief, another story began to unfold – the story of how 343 Industries and their partners around the world would work to bring Halo 2 to a new generation while honoring its fabled past.
“How do you remake a title that is so beloved by fans? How do you decide what must stay the same and what can be updated? It takes an army to build any game and we realized this process was one that the Halo Nation rarely gets a glimpse into,” said Tina Summerford, Director of Programming for 343 Industries. “We hit the road to capture the process from top to bottom, talking to all of the key players who helped bring Halo 2: Anniversary into the next gen and giving our fans unprecedented access to this process.”
Throughout the game’s development 343 Industries travelled the world, capturing the perspectives of 343’s expansive team of creative partners, Halo fans, pro players, and industry experts to tell the story behind the story millions know and love. With over four-hundred hours of footage and more than 80 interviews, they had what they needed to complete their story.
“We made some pretty important discoveries along the way,” said Summerford. “As we got deeper into the project, we realized we couldn't talk about Halo 2’s impact on the industry without telling the story of Halo’s origins. It’s pretty awesome to hear the original team from Bungie talk about the beginning of this franchise and it’s something we think both new and old fans will appreciate”.
The documentary includes never-before-seen story elements and footage from Halo 2: Anniversary and features interviews with high-profile Halo contributors Bonnie Ross, Frank O'Connor, Dan Ayoub, and Phil Spencer, as well as members of the original Halo 2 team - writer Joseph Staten, multiplayer designer Max Hoberman, and composer Marty O'Donnell. It also goes behind-the-scenes with the many artistic contributors on the title, including voice actor Keith David and guitar legend Steve Vai.
And now, starting on October 31, Halo fans around the world will have their first chance to see the complete documentary chronicling this incredible journey. Download the full feature for free on Xbox Video, watch it on the Halo Channel on Nov. 11, or tune in for special airings on twitch.tv/Xbox at the following times:
• Friday, Oct. 31 at 11 am PST/2 pm EST
• Saturday, Nov. 1 at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST
• Sunday, Nov. 2 at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST
|PS4′s Share Play feature in action – new video|
PlayStation 4′s system software update v2.00, codenamed Masamune, launches next Tuesday, 28th October. One of the features included in the update that I’m most excited about is Share Play, and we put together a quick video to show you how this innovative feature works. Check it out!
As we’ve said before, the best way to think about Share Play is like a “virtual couch”. PS4 will create an online local co-op experience by allowing you to invite a friend to join your game for up to one hour at a time – even when they don’t own a copy of it. Share Play has three main functions:
• Share Screen – Share your screen with a friend, allowing them to spectate. This is ideal for PS4 owners that want to watch their friends play a game and provide helpful tips. PlayStation Plus is not required to use this.
• Hand over my controller – Pass your controller to a friend, virtually, and watch them play. Your friend does not need to own, or even download the game, in order to use this feature. This is perfect for introducing your friends to new games. The host will need to be a PlayStation Plus member, but the guest does not.
• Hand over another controller – If a game supports local multiplayer, you can have your friend join as player two. Again, the visitor does not need to own, or download the game in order to use this feature. Both players will need PlayStation Plus to use this feature.
Share Play pushes the social interactivity of PS4 to new heights and we can’t wait for everyone to try it out. What games are you looking forward to trying Share Play with?
Isabelle Tomatis - European Marketing Director, SCEE
| A Deeper Extended Look at the Time-Bending Gameplay of Quantum Break |
Time stood still as Remedy Entertainment Creative Director Sam Lake unveiled Quantum Break gameplay in action for the first time live at gamescom 2014. Today, Sam and the team return to showcase the time amplified gameplay with a full and extended version of the demo featuring new, unreleased gameplay.
The Quantum Break video provides a walkthrough of the game, highlighting its rich storyline and action-packed time amplification features:
• Listen in as Sam paints the picture of the bridge scene where our hero Jack Joyce must sneak past Monarch eyes in order to rendezvous with Quantum Break’s other lead character Beth Wilder.
• Discover the story behind Jack’s “special time powers,” and how his once-best-friend Paul Serene became his mortal enemy.
• Learn about the different time amplified gameplay features as Sam describes their uses for navigating the action-packed world of Quantum Break.
Quantum Break leads the new generation of interactive entertainment and will come exclusively to Xbox One in 2015.
|Creating the beautiful, ground-breaking visuals of The Tomorrow Children on PS4|
Hi everyone, today I’m going to talk a little about the tech behind The Tomorrow Children. Hopefully you’ve all seen the trailer and are wondering how the glory we managed to get that crazy surreal look we have.
When the project started we had a meeting with Mark Cerny and he said “I want Q-Games to do something that’s a little…outside the box”. So I took that to heart and decided to use the PS4′s awesome compute power to drive three things: Cinematography, Lighting, and Geometry.
So I immediately drove the technology towards “cinematography” which I think is a much more visually stunning style compared to CG that strives to be realistic. Realistic graphics give us directly what we can see, but cinematography also gives us what we imagine we’re seeing. So for example if you are looking at a green field on a cloudy day, the raw photons hitting our eyes are actually a bit of a dull green but the brain’s imagination (and this is different for every person) spruces up the image we are seeing, making it more stimulating and exciting.
Pretty much every movie you have ever seen has gone through this kind of ‘colour grading’ process, the most recent ‘fad’ of which is a process called ‘orange-teal’ which boosts orange in the highlights and blue in the shadows plus a number of other tweaks. Recent TV series such as Breaking Bad, Utopia and True Detective rely on this heavily to set up atmosphere and scene tone.
So I thought to myself, why not do this for games too – but not via a few simple ‘tone mapping’ parameters, let’s go the whole hog and create a professional cinematic colour grading process. And we have two major advantages over cameras and their sensors. The first is that a modern 3D pipeline generates a larger dynamic range of colour which gives us more freedom, and the second is that we have ‘Z’ information for every pixel which lets us introduce Z as a parameter into the colour grading process. This lets us do things such bring up black levels in the distance, or even swizzle colours around a little based on distance from the camera.
Okay, with that cinematic feel to everything, we started investigating how to get a ‘pre-rendered’ look to our 3D in realtime and we decided we were going to have to go all out and do something that no-one is doing. So we researched and invented something called ‘cascaded voxel cone ray tracing’. The concept is a little complex but it involves calculating and storing light and its direction around the player as she moves in ever increasing cascades of data.
Because we have volumetric data (the voxel cone part) it means we can bounce light around fairly cheaply and any one pixel on the screen has up to three bounces of light hitting it, and from all directions too. Now, by the third bounce, the light is quite diminished in power but it makes that subtle difference that tricks the eye into thinking it is looking at something with true presence.
Interestingly most Pixar-style CG movies that you have seen are only using one bounce and although they beat us in detail because they can spend 30 minutes or more rendering one frame, our lighting is a lot more subtle and effective. For example, we can move a big red object around in real time and watch the sunlight reflecting off of it bounce onto the surrounding objects, and then watch that light bounce again onto other nearby objects that wouldn’t normally be lit (indirect lighting).
Finally, we needed some other new tech to build the game around so we started looking into techniques to do deformable landscapes. We wanted something you could dig and mine, or create shapes in but we didn’t want anything too strongly grid based; we wanted it to feel more real. So we went with something called Layered Depth Cubes, which is a way to represent the world without using polygons. Instead, it’s represented as volumes, which are then converted to polygons as needed (for example if the player goes near them and they need to be actually drawn on screen).
The benefit of not using polygons means the data is far easier manipulate and we can do boolean options (addition/subtraction) on the data to cut out holes or to add details and the whole structure remains solid and intact.
The added advantage of course is this all ties in with the lighting above to give it quick, easy-to-access data structures to bounce its light through!
These are just three areas of technology we’ve created for The Tomorrow Children and without the amazing power under the hood in the PS4 none of them would be possible. The future of 3D graphics is here and it is beautiful!
Dylan Cuthbert - President and Executive Producer, Q-Games
|Fire Up the Fun With Toybox Turbos - Codemasters' Table Top Arcade Racer Packed With Retro Thrills|
Codemasters today announced Toybox Turbos will bring a new world of retro table top racing to Windows PC from Steam on 12th November priced at £11.99 and will be coming soon to the Xbox Games Store for the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft and to the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system from the online store.
Featuring gameplay that reflects Codemasters’ fondly remembered miniature racing titles of the ‘90s, Toybox Turbos delivers a pick-up-and-play arcade racing extravaganza as gamers take a nostalgic tour of 18 obstacle and short-cut filled circuits inspired by childhood locations. Players will speed past spilt sticky jam on the kitchen table, dodge flaming Bunsen burners as they take their opponents back to school and zip past the runaway train in races around a railway set and more. Gamers can see Toybox Turbos in action in a new gameplay video which is now playing at toyboxturbos.com.
Bursting with classic retro racing fun, Toybox Turbos includes four-player local and online multiplayer options, perfect for turning friends into foes with one-more-go gaming sessions that race into the night. Whether playing locally or online, or with a mix, Toybox Turbos brings alive the glory days of multiplayer score-settling competition with rapid-fire rounds designed for all-action racing.
Toybox Turbos features 35 vehicles to collect and customise, ranging from sports cars and dragsters to emergency vehicles, taxis, ice cream vans, construction vehicles, milk float, moon buggies and more! Each can be raced in six super-charged game modes; players sprint for the line in Classic Races, set their best time in Time Trial, pass as many turbocharged toys as possible in Overtake, avoid getting wiped out by the tide in Escape, beat the clock in Countdown and take down bosses in Elimination mode. To gain the advantage, gamers can collect and use a range of power-ups spread liberally around each circuit, including, but not limited to, machine guns, mines, electronic pulses and, of course, giant hammers!
Gamers can find out more about Toybox Turbos and keep up with all the latest updates straight from the studio, by speeding over to toyboxturbos.com and facebook.com/toyboxturbos or by following the team at twitter.com/toyboxturbos.
| Nintendo Unveils Over 50 New Features and Other Details for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U |
Today Nintendo unleashed a deluge of information about its upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U game, including an eight-player mode, the ability to build and share custom stages and an exclusive soundtrack offer. Nintendo revealed these and many more details in a live-streamed video announcement. To view the video in its entirety, visit nintendo.com/nintendo-direct.
“Super Smash Bros. fans got a full look today at the unbelievable variety of options and surprises that await them in the Wii U version of the game,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “Millions of fans around the world already can’t get enough of the Nintendo 3DS game, and we want the Wii U version to build on that momentum.”
Some of the topics covered in the video include
• 8-Player Smash: In a major first for the franchise, a special mode lets eight players fight simultaneously in local multiplayer. This option appears only in the Wii U version, and lets players compete on even larger stages to accommodate all the characters.
• amiibo Figures: When a player touches an amiibo figure to the Wii U GamePad, the character joins as a “figure player.” The amiibo figures can gain levels to become stronger and add equipment as they gain experience through battling. Players can have amiibo fight one another, and amiibo will bring you presents from the battles they fight in.
• Custom Stage Creation: The touch screen of the Wii U GamePad makes it easier than ever for players to build their own stages and eventually share them with friends and other players around the world using broadband Internet access.
• Controls: Players who own the Nintendo 3DS version of the game can use their Nintendo 3DS systems to control the action on the TV screen, in addition to the many other control options available.
• Importing Fighters: Fans of the Nintendo 3DS version of the game can immediately benefit from the fruits of their smashing labors. Players can import custom Nintendo 3DS fighters to the Wii U game, along with their customized equipment, costumes and hats.
• Special Soundtrack Offer: Everyone who buys both the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U versions of Super Smash Bros. and registers both games on Club Nintendo by Jan. 13 will receive a two-disc soundtrack of music from the games.
• Mewtwo: Like the soundtrack, this series veteran fighter will be made available as free downloadable content in spring of 2015 for anyone who buys both versions of the game.
• Modes: The Wii U version of the game offers many new modes and different ways to play that keep players coming back for more:
- Smash Tour: World Smash is a fighting party game that looks like a board game. Players use items, spin a wheel and advance around the map. Up to four players can compete at once as they navigate the board and gain fighters and power-ups they can use in a final battle.
- Special Smash Mode: Players can customize battles with unique parameters.
- Coin Battles: Players compete to collect coins from other players.
- Stamina Matches: Players fight until their hit points reach zero.
- Classic Mode: One or two players fight through a series of battles and advance as long as they survive. Many random events can shake things up, and players can adjust the intensity settings. The more difficult the game, the greater the rewards.
- All-Star Mode: Like in the Nintendo 3DS version, opponents appear in chronological order. Only this time, the newest fighters appear before the older ones, and two players can battle through this mode together.
- Event Mode: One or two players take on set character- and theme-based battles. Clearing stages helps players see the way forward.
• Masterpieces: This menu gives players a peek into the past lives of some of the Super Smash Bros. characters. Players can play cut-down versions of the characters’ greatest games.
• Stages: The Wii U game offers more stages than any game in the series. The expanded Big Battlefield makes its debut in addition to the traditional Battlefield Stage. The Great Cave Offensive, based on the underground labyrinth found in Kirby games, challenges players to avoid potentially lethal danger zones – or throw their opponents into them. The Jungle Hijinxs stage, based on Donkey Kong Country Returns, lets players fight in the foreground and background. Blast barrels shoot players from front to back and vice versa.
• Tunes: The game includes hundreds of music tracks, songs and jingles that players can listen to and settings to customize what music plays during game play. Players add songs to their library by collecting CDs that appear while smashing or after completing challenges.
• Movies: When players clear Classic or All-Star modes, they’ll be treated to a brief movie featuring whichever fighter they used. Every fighter has a movie, so it’ll be a challenge to view them all.
• Ridley. Yes, Ridley: Fans have been clamoring for Ridley to appear in a Super Smash Bros. game for a while, and now they’re getting their wish. But true to form, Ridley appears in an unexpected way. Players will find him in the Metroid series-inspired Pyrosphere stage, but he does more than just hassle players. If one player attacks Ridley enough, Ridley will join that fighter’s side and attack others. Players (including the one on Ridley’s side) can KO Ridley to earn a point toward the match result total. And if Ridley consumes enough energy, he will become Meta Ridley and all the more vicious.
• Characters: The Wii U version offers 40 characters and the use of Mii characters from the start. Each character’s moves match those found in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, so players who hone their skills in the portable game will have an edge over opponents in the console version of the game.
| Games on Demand GTA: San Andreas Replacing Xbox Originals Version|
Question: I noticed that the Xbox Originals version of GTA: San Andreas was removed from Xbox LIVE. When will it become available again?
Answer: GTA: San Andreas on the Xbox Marketplace will be available again for purchase beginning October 26th, 2014, through Games on Demand. This version features 720p resolution, enhanced draw distance, and Achievement support.
There are also 11 additional secret achievements being added.
Please note: The Games on Demand version of San Andreas is not compatible with the Xbox Originals version. Save files will not transfer from Xbox Originals. Owners of the Xbox Originals version will still have access to the old version on their consoles and through their download history, with the option to purchase the new version to experience the added features on a new save file.
|Launch Date and New Stage Details Lead Combo Punch of New Information for Dead or Alive5: Last Round|
Team Ninja today unleashed an onslaught of new information for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round. Currently in development for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 computer entertainment systems, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Koei Tecmo America has confirmed that the game is schedule to launch in North America on February 17, 2015 (February 20 in Europe), and will be available at the price of $39.99 MSRP for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (physical and digital) and $29.99 MSRP for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (digital only).
With an official launch date in place, Koei tecmo America has detailed preorder incentives for retail preorders (physical copies) at the following North American retailers: Players who preorder Dead or Alive 5 Last Round at GameStop will receive exclusive costume packs including the "Ninja" (for Ayane , Hayabusa, Hayate and Kasumi), and Aloha (for Ayane, Hitomi, Kasumi and Mila ) sets. Pre-ordering at Amazon and Best Buy will give purchasers access to exclusive costumes sets including the "Showstopper" (for Christie, Helena, Lisa and Tina) and "Beach Party" (for Kokoro, Leifang, Momiji and Rachel).
Team Ninja pulls back the curtain even further, divulging more new content players can expect in Dead or Alive 5 Last Round. Dynamic fighting stages are a hallmark of the Dead or Alive series, and they are taken to the next level in Last Round. A fan favorite stage from Dead or Alive 2 makes its glorious next gen debut in The Crimson. A multi-level stage set in a bustling urban street in Asia, players start out on sprawls of tin rooftops where victory and defeat teeter on a razor thin edge. Combatants are one good punch away from being thrown through the surrounding fence, treated to one of several all-new over-the-top Cliffhanger events, and ultimately smashing through to the lower level, a dimly lit street tinged only with the light of surrounding neon signs. In new next-gen screenshots released today, characters Kokoro, Brad, Leifang and Tina can be seen traversing and utilizing Danger Zones across both levels of The Crimson, while sporting brand new costumes and even customized hairstyles.
Players wanting to get a taste of what Dead or Alive 5 Last Round has to offer can play the main game content in Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters free of charge. Gamers playing on PlayStation 4 will have access to the free-to-download version via the PlayStation Network which includes four fighters – Ayane, Hayate, Kasumi and Ryu Hayabusa – and almost every game mode will be available. Those playing on Xbox One will have access to a free trial version of Last Round via the Xbox Games Store consisting of the same free-to-download fighters and features as noted above, but is not expandable via additional purchases. Xbox One users wanting an extended experience can purchase Core Fighters for $4.99 MSRP, which includes all contents as the free trial, but adds four more fighters to the mix in Hitomi, Tina, Jann Lee and Bass, and is expandable from there via additional purchases. All users, regardless of platform, can transfer unlocked titles, costumes and Story Mode progress from the last-gen versions of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate as well as compete with combatants from both the free and full retail version of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round. Additional characters, Story Mode and other features can be accessed for a fee. For additional information regarding Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters visit: teamninja-studio.com/doa5/lastround/ftp.
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round will take to the ring to deliver the signature DOA fighting style, wrapped up in the most graphically impressive version of a Dead or Alive game ever seen. Combatants will present an unparalleled level of life-like detail, and smooth striking animations that will firmly place every fighter in the heat of the moment. The game’s dynamic interactive stages once again boast a range of visually striking locations from around the world, while offering even more destruction, deadly new danger zones and a higher level of strategic choices for players to utilize in the quest for victory. Character customization options get even deeper, as Dead or Alive 5 Last Round will offer over 300 open and unlockable costumes, and the brand new hairstyle and accessory options will give nearly endless possibilities to adorn the fighters for any occasion. Players can bring their run of rosters, costumes and accessories from Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, as previously purchased DLC content will be transferable from last gen consoles to the PS4 and Xbox One.
Currently in development by Team Ninja, more details about Dead or Alive 5 Last Round will be revealed in the coming months.