Welcome to your Sunday read of the week's best in web comics. Make sure to click on the expand button in the bottom right to enlarge each comic.
Brawl In The Family by Matthew Taranto published June 1.—Read more of Brawl In The Family
Awkward Zombie by Katie Tiedrich published May 28.—Read more of Awkward Zombie
Nerf NOW!! by Josué Pereira published May 31.—Read more of Nerf NOW!!
Penny Arcade by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik published June 1.—Read more of Penny Arcade
Virtual Shackles by Jeremy Vinar and Mike Fahmie published May 30.—Read more of Virtual Shackles
Another Videogame Webcomic by Phil Chan and Joe Dunn published May 28.—Read more of Another Videogame Webcomic
ActionTrip by Borislav Grabovic and Ure Paul published May 27.—Read more of ActionTrip
Legacy Control by Javis Ray published May 30.—Read more of Legacy Control
Joey Logano's outstanding Hitman-themed racing suit at last week's NASCAR race was the inspiration for the latest round of wackiness in the Kotaku 'Shop Contest. We got a real good contest that runs real good with a super crew and just want to thank everyone on the Gawker Media llc Kotaku #99 web site today, and especially our overall points leader, xX_cringer8_Xx!
Leading off, BigMikeMcCarthy (3) is the Crew Chief of all Cosmos. Anderster (1) files an objection with the track officials. If I meet Reggie Fils-Aime (in blueTunic's shop, (4) at E3, I'm going to induct him into the 'Shop Contest Hall of Fame. You can always count on a Reggie 'shop to save the day.
I think Pan_1da7 (13, who I always mentally pronounce as "Panida Seven") designed a Ken-from-Street-Fighter firesuit. Not sure exactly, but it makes the cut easily. mrjoeyyaya (11) just up and got ridiculous on us
CYBERLEADER (6) may have given us a quick-and-dirty 'Shop but he gets in because ... Fanta? On Batman's belt buckle? WTF? Evil Sheepy (7) struggled like hell with image upload but eventually got this in and makes the final cut. Smart use of the headset.
VanguardRose's Samus suit (19) is very smartly done. toolsoldier (17) called back to the Minecraft wedding. Stuart.C (15) appealed to us with eye candy; I'm sure GoDaddy would enlist Cammy if she existed in real life.
Overall finalists, hampstasandwich (8) a long-time all-star here, turned in an unbelievable Vault 101 firesuit. Perfect colors, sponsors, motifs, everything. But alas, it is not the overall No. 1. We saved the best for last, xX_cringer8_Xx (20), with a Kirby-themed car and suit that led this race wire-to-wire. The joke and the execution are about as perfect as anything I've seen here.
Congrats to xX_cringer8_Xx, thanks to all who entered, and we will have another contest ready for you tomorrow morning!
King Kellogg the Waffle Haggler
Nintendo will be webcasting a special Wii U-centric edition of their Nintendo Direct online video series on Sunday, one that "focuses on the concept behind WiiU." It will air on Nintendo's Wii U Facebook page, 6pm ET, 3pm PT. We'll have full coverage, too. Nintendo's actual E3 press briefing is on Tuesday and you can watch that on Kotaku.
Back at PAX East, Stephen Totilo spent some time with War of the Roses by Fatshark, a studio that unapologetically credits Call of Duty and Battlefield as inspirations in this ultra-throwback to combat shoot—uh, stabbers?
The game just released its E3 trailer and it showcases a very Hobbesian view of life in this game: nasty, brutish and short, albeit with respawning. Can't wait to jump on a horse and grief my teammates.
War of the Roses is going to E3. We are too. We'll see more of it then, I suppose!
It's unconfirmed, but other GAF users are also saying they too read the preview of the game. Among salient facts: It will star a female assassin named Aveline, who is of mixed French/African heritage. It will be released alongside Assassin's Creed III this fall, the story will take place in New Orleans (yes!) during the same time period as Assassin's Creed III, it'll have multiplayer, and won't feature Desmond. Aveline will meet Connor from Assassin's Creed III, and her mentor will be an escaped/freed slave, which combined with the location and time period could mean that "Liberation" probably refers to the liberation of American slaves. The back-touch screen will let you pick pockets, and all of New Orleans will be explorable without any loading screens. It will also take players into Mexico. Oh, and it will feature alligators! Awesome.
That image up top is early concept art of a female assassin. Ever since meeting Shao Jun, the female assassin in the short film Assassin's Creed Embers, I've been wanting to see a female protagonist in an Assassin's Creed game. Sounds like I'll be getting my wish.
Assuming this turns out to be true, we'll almost surely be hearing more about the game next week at E3.
Stoudemire, as you would expect from a big man, sort of pushes the ball out and it's not on target. Anthony has to lunge away from the basket and high with his right hand to corral it, so there'll be no lowered-shoulder drive to the baseline. But there is now space between him and Haslem, so he turns and plops a 12-foot fadeaway with a signature flick of the wrist.
Even as a broken play executed in a video game that has yet to enter alpha state, it demonstrates that NBA Live 13, shown exclusively to Kotaku yesterday, has moments where it hits its gameplay ideals: authentic passing, recognizable players and behaviors, and a sophisticated, believable outcome with a minimum of control inputs.
E3 is mostly a graphics showcase, and NBA Live 13 indeed looks good. I'll get to that further down. Gameplay is what will feed the bulldog as this series tries to re-establish itself against very a formidable competitor in NBA 2K. And passing is what you'll likely hear the most about once others are shown the game beginning on Tuesday.
In a trip to EA Sports' Tiburon studio in April, I saw more guys working on passing than anything else, fitting for a game whose creative director was a college point guard. They're trying to make it a more intuitive act, directing the ball to your intended player without the extra step of bringing up icons and selecting a corresponding face button for an otherwise straightforward pass to the wing when a big man's also set up in the neighborhood.
There still will be icon passing for those who prefer it or play with it out of habit. But a simple A button with Stoudemire is going to key the entry to Anthony, however clumsy it was. The same single button, with Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook on the perimeter, sent a longer pass out to Thabo Sefolosha, who had come free from an off-the-ball screen, and not to Kevin Durant, who had set it and was in fact nearer, having rolled back to the hoop. That's what I wanted to do, too. This is tied to an AI system in which players are supposed to recognize the most appropriate target in the area you're facing with the left stick.
That's the direction of the pass. The type of pass will work in your favor if you have a skilled passer as much as it will be an adventure in the hands of someone who isn't. Another example: Mario Chalmers, the Heat's point guard, saw Chris Bosh across the lane on the block. Bosh is 6-11; Chalmers is 6-2. A chest pass to Bosh's numbers in this situation is high enough to get deflected. Chalmers slammed a high, one-handed overhand bounce pass instead, hitting Bosh square to begin his move to the basket.
These are highly specific cases and the interactions are not by themselves heretofore unseen in a video game. And you're still going to turn the ball over if you make a bad choice. But they were aspects of a passing game that became taken for granted after just a quarter. Working in concert with your teammates' AI, NBA Live 13 shows promise as an accessible title that won't resort to handholding.
Players do move purposefully without you telling them to. (Playcalling was not present in the build of the game I saw, anyway.) For example, James Harden came out to set a backscreen up near the foul line and I exploded off it with Westbrook. Harden still rolled but there was nothing but daylight to the rim. And as to player speed, there's a good sense of momentum and inertia depending on size and quickness.
But while Kendrick Perkins is leaden and LeBron James is a jackrabbit, both maintain starting times and stopping distances that allow for precise movement. I've found this especially important when you're playing from a broadcast camera angle, trying to position yourself on the far wing for a three-point shot, for example. The dribble moves, entirely on the right stick, just like NBA Live 10, are quickly interrupted when you change direction with the left. It didn't take much to get the hesitation-and-go move for Westbrook properly timed.
The game's visual presentation already shows refined detail and strong polish, even with more work to be done. NBA Live 13 will incorporate ESPN's broadcast package and thus lean heavily on motifs familiar to televised basketball. Each arena will, in consultation with ESPN producers, be "filmed" from the specific camera locations the network uses in them. This goes for pre-game and timeout cinematics. I was happy to see the traditional tight close-up of a player squaring up for a free throw on the opposing team. Replays will come from these angles.
The true-to-life camera angles mean the main broadcast view will be slightly different in each arena. It's steeper and shows less of the crowd in Oklahoma City than it does in Miami. But you may still play with a top-to-bottom baseline angle that some seasoned ballers prefer. (There will also be an alternate camera angle, which I didn't see, that is an homage to NBA Live from the 1990s). Additionally, some, but not all, of the arenas were scanned using the same technology that imaged Augusta National for Tiger Woods PGA Tour. The result is more distinctive arena interiors, particularly in Orlando and Miami (imaged because they're near the Florida studio building the game).
Lighting also changes from venue to venue, and even among teams who play in the same arena. The Los Angeles Lakers darken the seating to highlight the court, and the stars playing on it, or sitting by it. The Clippers, in the same building, light up the seats more. NBA Live 13 will reflect that. The crowd, something a lot of sports video games seem to skimp on, was very well done, with varied patrons (including some for the opposition) in decent resolution. I was told some atmospheric sound effects—crowd noise, sneaker squeak, player chatter— come from ESPN audio.
Players are large and recognizable in their modeling though some texture work still needs to be done. They've done a good job with Dwyane Wade's baby face and Tyson Chandler's beard has the appropriate level of mange. Players also can be picked out by how they act. A pet peeve I have when playing with an unfamiliar team is when I've rebounded the ball, the team's in transition, and I can't spot the point guard who should bring it up, especially if it's a taller guard. But I could recognize Westbrook on sight for the outlet pass, without looking for his uniform number or name in the player call-out.
These sorts of things can be found in NBA 2K, too, and, I don't mean to suggest the same features in Live constitute some kind of a revolution, just because it hasn't published a game since 2009. That's not what NBA Live 13 is seeking to accomplish. In fact, the failed revolution of NBA Elite is what sent the series on a two-year journey into the wilderness.
NBA Live 13 must reestablish itself as a fundamentally solid game that plays to state-of-the-art expectations. What EA Sports is taking to E3, and what I saw yesterday, show that it's on that trajectory.
Owen Good asked, "What the heck are you all about, Hybrid?"
It's a futuristic third-person shooter being developed by 5th Cell, which you may know for its Scribblenauts games on the Nintendo DS. I'm not like that at all; I'll be their first offering for the Xbox 360 and will be available over Xbox Live Arcade. My designer is Jeremiah Slaczka, who also writes "Ask a Video Game Developer Anything" monthly for Kotaku. The latest installment was yesterday.
Owen Good asked, "How many frames per second will you run?"
Owen Good asked, "When will you release?"
Owen Good asked, "Well, summer begins this month. Can you be more specific?"
Owen Good asked, "OK, but will there be jetpacks?"
That's it for Ask the E3 Trailer for Hybrid Anything. Keep those awesome questions coming next time!
Have you heard that video is a big thing over at Gawker Media? It's true, we watch and post a lot of videos each week. Here are some of the best videos of week, culled from an array of Gawker Media sites.
This morning on Fox & Friends, Fox News aired a straight-up, unadulterated four-minute attack ad mocking Obama's "Hope and Change" message and cataloguing the purported failures of his administration, complete with ominous music, depressing charts, and voiceover audio of Mitt Romney attacking him. Not someone else's ad, mind you-this was actually an in-house production of Fox News, involving weeks of work by a Fox staffer. View »
Comedian and class act Martin Short was with his wife Nancy Dolman for 36 years before she passed away from ovarian cancer in 2010. Unfortunately, not a single researcher informed Kathie Lee of Dolman's death, leading to a heartbreakingly awkward situation on this morning's Today Show where the actor was appearing to promote his new film Madagascar 3. During the interview, a hapless Gifford asked Short how he manages to keep his marriage happy and romantic. Luckily, he handled the gaffe with grace and aplomb. View »
The province of Skyrim expands this summer with Dawnguard, 1,600 Microsoft points worth of new epic adventure for the Xbox 360. View »
This week's Rays-White Sox series in St. Petersburg has been contentious after Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski's suspicious slide yesterday led to him being plunked by Rays pitcher Alex Cobb today. When Jose Quintana attempted to return the favor-or perhaps just send another message-to Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist later in the game, umpire Mark Wegner got out his ejectin' thumb, sending White Sox announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson on another of his patented rants. View »
The transit of Venus is one of the rarest astronomical events in our solar system. It happens in pairs, every century. This awe-inspiring video shows the first of this century's pair, which happened in 2004. The next one is about to happen-on June 5, 2012. View »
There's more to driving than tire-shredding hoonage. Beautiful roads and a free afternoon are all you need for a perfect drive. Having a first-gen Toyota MR2 and some of the finest driving roads in Hungary at your disposal doesn't hurt either. View »
A surveillance camera in the Miami Herald building caught all 18 gruesome minutes of the Miami Zombie attack on the MacArthur Causeway over the weekend. (The footage above has been edited for length; the original can be viewed here.) View »
Mommy, where do video games come from? They come from factories, dear, factories like these, from the 1980s. View »
Earlier this month, human Pez dispenser Perez Hilton leaked some shaky camera phone footage of the first trailer for the highly anticipated film adaptation of the musical Les Miserables starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. But, as tends be the case with crappy leaked footage, it did not satisfy us. But the official trailer has now arrived. View »
Professional asshole Gordon Ramsay left Sunday's Soccer Aid charity match in Manchester on a stretcher after a hefty tackle by former English soccer star Teddy Sheringham left the Hell's Kitchen chef in pain and gasping for air. View »
Behold 17 minutes of straight spell-shouting from the cast of the Harry Potter films, courtesy of one very patient YouTuber. The creepy thing? We can name just about every single spell's intended result. Wingardium Leviosa! View »
By now, you're familiar with Hagwalah, the Saudi street drifting phenomenon. Young men gather on congested highways to perform idiotic feats of driving dumbassery. But, are you familiar with the potential fallout? After watching this incredibly graphic, NSFW video, you and hopefully anyone thinking about doing this kind of thing on the street will be. View »
"Support for head-mounted displays." That one little nugget about the upcoming Doom 3 BFG Edition stuck out like a sore thumb when this morning's news hit. If you wondered what that might look like, check out the video from The Verge, which shows giant goggles jerry-rigged by Doom co-creator John Carmack. When a Verge commenter cast aspersion on the tech Carmack used for his head-mounted display, the man himself showed to slap away criticisms. Don't argue with a genius, kids. View »
The most offensive UK advertising campaign of all time is a 2005 KFC ad that features emergency hotline workers singing with their mouths full of crispy chicken, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, which released new data this week detailing all of the complaints they've received since the 1950s. View »
The Bobcats opened up Time Warner Cable Arena for fans to come and watch last night's draft lottery. A lovely gesture, one much appreciated by the 40 or so people who showed up. As we know by now, the Bobcats slipped to No. 2. There was shock, anger, sadness, apathy, shuffling off into the Charlotte night. The cycle continues. As if to commiserate, Charlotte is offering a deal where if you buy a season ticket plan, you get the entire next season for free. View »
How stupid is tinted meatball Donald Trump? So stupid that Wolf Blitzer - Wolf Blitzer! - made him look like a fool on CNN. View »
People scratched their heads at "Wii" but ultimately everyone accepted it. Not many are really warming up to "Wii U" but I suspect as some point that'll be spoken like it was always a part of the language, too.
There is no way I could see myself referring to anything I own, however, as a "City Boy," and a fascinating post yesterday, backed up by a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, indicate Nintendo had plans to call a piece of hardware just that. A writer who just up and created a WordPress blog yesterday to share this story, says that a couple years ago some Nintendo marketing folks had told her that the company originally planned to call the DS the "City Boy."
Well, if that's true, thank God they didn't, is all I have to say. "Nintendo DS" may be a little nondescript, but at least I can say "I really like playing with my Nintendo DS," with a straight face.
Lo and behold, there is a trademark registration—still live, by the way—that Nintendo of America filed in March, 2004 for "City Boy," and it covers hardware, not software. The DS, of course, was revealed at E3 that year and then launched in November. The registration has since changed, but Nintendo owned the mark until 2006. Hyperlinks aren't available to the document in the USPTO web site, but you can go here, select "Trademark Search," search for "City Boy" and find it easily. The serial number is 79007567.
The writer says she was told that "City Boy" was meant to keep the Game Boy brand going, while also positioning the device as an appealing option for older gamers. Nintendo would be competing against smartphone gaming, which it understood as a threat even back then, for that growth audience. "Game Boy" sounded a little too juvenile; "City Boy" was supposed to mean a device you'd carry all over the city with you and play in public.
There's no proof of how seriously Nintendo considered this name, or if it was a strategic filing to keep that out of someone else's hands, or if it was meant for some other device that never materialized. The DS was codenamed "Nitro" but as we've seen throughout the industry, they never reflect the product name on the market.
It's an interesting anecdote and the date of the trademark filing, and its type, would seem to back up her claim. And the occasion of her recollection, on the weekend of E3, make it a timely story you should go check out.
Widely expected, Tales of Xillia 2 was indeed confirmed as the name of the series' next sequel at the Tales of Festival in Japan today. The word comes from producer Hideo Baba himself.
That trailer introduces the new world of Tales of Xillia 2, which does reflect a departure from the sword-and-sorcery motifs of previous entries in the Tales series. There's also this one-minute look at the game's combat.
A Japan release is scheduled for the end of this year; a specific date and price will be announced on June 27. The game is for the PS3. There's no information on any western localizations. The first Tales of Xillia was a Japan-only release.
Tales of Xillia 2 Announced [Andriasang]