This year, as Tim Schafer and his Kickstarter-loaded team at Double Fine do their regular game jam Amnesia Fortnight—during which they throw everything out the window and experiment with crazy game ideas (like the ones that would eventually become Costume Quest and Stacking)—they're making the whole thing public. And you get to vote which games they'll make next (if you're willing to pay $1 or more).
You can head on over to their official website to vote on prototypes, contribute money, and decide what pitches look interesting enough to turn into games. You can also watch their hilarious video (above). So which games do you want to see?
Coming next month from the makers of N.Y. Zombies, Heroes & Castles is a strategy action role-playing game that drops the player into the meatier portions of a raging war.
The strategy portion of Heroes & Castles sees players building fortifications, recruiting units and managing castle finances. Once the fighting starts, however, it's into the fray, summoning those recruited units and defending those fortified walls in third-person.
The aim is to put players in the middle of a massive fantasy battle. It looks rather intense. We'll see how it plays next month, when Foursaken Media releases Heroes & Castles for iOS.
The 2010 creation carried big expectations with it, namely that the Wii exclusive would be the third-party creation that showed how outside parties could make games as compelling as releases from Nintendo's internal studios.
Things didn't work out that way, of course. As the Wii rides off into the sunset, third-party publishers and their marquee titles have largely abandoned the console. "We'll probably be the last significant Wii title, certainly the last significant third-party Wii title," says game design icon Warren Spector about Epic Mickey: The Power of Two. "And a whole new generation of consoles is about to come out. We're hitting just at the beginning of that wave. It's a very different world. What are we [as a medium] going to be doing in two years?"
Transition does indeed loom, both for Nintendo and the s his latest game featuring Disney's iconic mascot prepares to come out, I asked Spector to look back at Epic Mickey's debut on the Wii. "I thought then and I think now that it was the perfect platform for that game at that time. We wanted to get Mickey to gaming for everyone. That's what Disney does; they make entertainment for everyone," he explained. "And so, at that time, in 2010, if you were looking for kids and adults, boys and girls, men and women, the only place to go was the Wii."
"It's not like Microsoft and Sony had much penetration beyond core gamers at that point because of their price points, and because of the kinds of games that the traditional game publishers were coming out. So I thought it was perfect then. And it did its job. We know pretty clearly from all of the fan mail we've been getting and from the research that Disney's done, that we really did move the needle on Mickey."
Spector says that people think about Mickey Mouse differently now than they did before the game came out. "And people know about Oswald now," he continues. "There's an openness to, ‘Hey, you know maybe this Disney stuff is OK for adults?' Like it always has been in other media. We'll find out if that audience is still there waiting for another interesting big high-profile [Epic Mickey Wii] title or not. If they are, we win. If they're not, well, we win because we're on the other platforms too."
Yet, the business of making video games at Disney has shifted around Spector. The mega-conglomerate has shuttered almost every division that was making console games and has chosen to focus its internal development on the mobile/casual space. When I asked Spector what he felt about these developments, he answered frankly. "Well it's as stressful as the game business has always been," he began. "The thing that you have to remember... I've heard this kind of thing for years. When we started up Junction Point, we started out like two of us, and then there were six of us, and then there were 11 of us."
"And you try to build a studio from nothing and I would sit across the table from someone and I'd be interviewing them, and they'd say, ‘You know, this all sounds really good, but I need more stability.' And then I would say, 'Then get out of the game business.' Because this is not a business that has never been anything but chaos. And it's just a different kind of chaos now."
"If you're making the kind of games we're making at Junction Point," Spector said, "in your entire career you are going to make a certain number of games. They all have a chance of being great. Your life is going to be defined by X number of things. It's not like you're working on an assembly line and you're going to make 50,000 car doors.
My dad was a dentist. He filled 20 teeth a day. His life was defined by different things. If you're a novelist, or a filmmaker, or a game developer now, your life is going to be defined by a very small number of things. And if you're not doing things that are meaningful to you, all you're doing is making a living. I have no interest in that."
What he is interested in doing is thinking about the future. "Tablet gaming is the most interesting thing to me right now," he divulges. "And multiples of those talking to each other and talking to consoles and talking to phones and stuff, there's some really interesting things we can do. That's kind of the direction Disney wants to go in anyway, which is kind of cool. I was reading this morning, there's 70 million PS3s in the world. There are 100 million Wiis, I guess. And there are what? A billion iPhone/smartphone devices or something like that? That just spells opportunity for the rest of us. If we have the will, and we have the courage, and we don't say, ‘Oh, no, it doesn't have sticks and buttons.'"
Tablets and the allure of the touchscreen clearly have influenced Nintendo's design of the Wii U and that makes the new console particularly intriguing for Spector. "You immediately start thinking about all the new kinds of games we could make that we couldn't make before. I mean, any kind of double-blind game—where one person is supposed to have information that other can't see—you can now do that far more readily than before."
"There are a lot of people who are going to take the easy way out and they're going to move their UI down to the second screen, which I think is a complete mistake," Spector offers. "‘Let's unclutter the big screen.' [sarcastically] You actually need that information on the screen, because it's where the action is happening. But, at some point people are going to start figuring out that you can actually do completely different kinds of things. Nintendo is doing it in a very proprietary way and the way that Nintendo always does. But they're first with a new idea, again, as always."
In addition to the general cross-promotion that's available to complete between CityVille and CityVille 2 on Facebook, players of Zynga's original city-building game can also complete a series of four CityVille 2-themed goals in their towns, receiving items like a Police Scene in the process. We're here with a guide to completing this goals, thanks to the CityVille Wikia.
• Ask friends for 20 Bus Ads
• Place CityVille 2 Police Scene
• Reach Level 4 in CityVille 2
The Bus Ads are earned by posting a general news item to your wall, while the Police Scene is a community building that can be placed by clicking on the "Place" button in this goal's window. It takes five clicks to build, and you'll need to actually finish this light building progress before you'll earn the "check" in the goal. If you're looking for help leveling up in CityVille 2, make sure to check out our Cheats & Tips guide. When you complete this goal, you'll receive five energy and 100 XP.
• Ask friends for 20 Chinese Take-Out Menus
• Harvest 100 Water Crops
• Reach Level 6 in CityVille 2
While 100 Water Crops might sound like a lot (OK, it is a lot), remember that you can plant crops with any growth time to fulfill that task. That being the case, feel free to plant something that grows as fast as your own game access can accept and finish this goal more quickly. Again, if you're looking for some help on leveling up in CityVille 2, make sure to add yourself to our CityVille 2 Add Me Page to find new friends fast. When you complete this goal, you'll receive 300 XP and 10 energy.
• Ask friends for 20 Construction Signs
• Harvest 30 Businesses
• Reach Level 8 in CityVille 2
By the time you finish the tutorial section of CityVille 2, you've likely reached at least Level 5, but when it comes to recharging energy, you might need to wait until the next day to actually make it to Level 8. Still, that gives you the time to finish these other two tasks back in the original CityVille. As with the crops task above, there's nothing stating that you have to harvest from a business that demands a ton of Goods, so you can always repeatedly collect from a less demanding business just to save yourself some Goods in the long run. Completing this third of four goals gives you 500 XP and 20 energy.
The Big Search
• Ask friends for 15 Keys to the City
• Reach Level 10 in CityVille 2
Remember, as you level up in CityVille 2, you'll not only earn progress towards completing goals, but you'll also receive the separate awards like Zoning Permits that we mentioned earlier. Plus, once you complete this final goal, you'll receive another exclusive item: the CityVille 2 Mayoral Mansion. It offers a population boost of 1,000 citizens to your town. Finally, you'll receive an additional coin prize of 250,000 coins for completing this final goal.
Republished with permission from:
Brandy Shaul is an editor at Games.com
"This is absolutely the beginning of a new generation," Fils-Aime told me during a quick interview late Saturday night, just minutes before the official launch of Nintendo's sixth home console. "With the innovation we're bringing to bear, with the social community we're bringing to bear, [and] with the video entertainment we're bringing to bear, I think this is the start of a new generation. I think those who say otherwise are clearly trying to preserve sales on their current hardware. This is definitely the start of a new day."
Those who beg to differ may wind up caught in semantics or in an un-winnable argument about whether a Wii U, destined to be vastly out-powered by the next PlayStation and Xbox as soon as late next year, is really the beginning a new gen. But it's undeniable that Wii U is a new chapter for Nintendo and, as with any new console, a big risk.
It's a risk for Nintendo to produce an interesting, unusual machine that adds a six-inch touch screen to the standard twin-stick controller.
It's a risk for gamers who, every time there's a new piece of hardware out, have to decide whether to spend a few hundred dollars investing in its future.
Fils-Aime believes there are a great variety of games for people to choose from, which he thinks should compel them to pick up the console. He boasted on Saturday night of having 29 packaged games hitting stores, with a promise to get 50 games out through the end of March—the close of the console's "launch window." Among the forthcoming games announced for that window are Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Lego City Undercover. "I think we will continue to surprise the fans with announcements and information," Fils-Aime said. "I would not go so far as to say you know everything in our launch window."
It is, of course, necessary to convince gamers that the system will be around and have good game support for a long time. Nintendo's own Zelda and Mario creations are guaranteed. It's third-party games, which have shown up in abundance at launch, that are not ensured to be there in the months and years to come. Fils-Aime thinks those games will be there, now that there's a Nintendo console that supports HD graphics and complex online play and communities. The original Wii lacked those things.
But some major upcoming third-party games for the first half of 2013 are not on the Wii U release calendar. There's no BioShock Infinite and no Grand Theft Auto V, which are slated for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Fils-Aime deflected a question about those two games, which are published by Take Two, suggesting they were too far off in the future to be discussing on launch night. "We're gratified when we read comments from companies like Take Two," he said. "We're gratified when we're inspiring the world's best developers to put content on our system."
Some Wii U versions of games released on other platforms have good bonus features. Assassin's Creed III and Mass Effect 3 both put the game's map on the Wii U controller's big six-inch screen. The latter also lets players pick weapons and powers without pausing or slowing the game's action. But if Wii U versions lack elements of these games that are on other platforms, players might hesitate on getting the Nintendo console edition of the game. Who's to blame? Nintendo? The game-maker? Or is this just a matter of imperfect launch-day ports, something that's been an issue for just about every new console ever? For example, there had been rumblings—confirmed since then—that a Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 might not have the next downloadable content that the PS3/360 versions of the game will have. "We have no policy limitation on DLC or on business model for third party publishers," Fils-Aime said, implying that any DLC would be welcome on the console. A rep for Mass Effect 3 development studio Bioware did not reply yet to a request for comment about why the Wii U version won't get the game's next expansion.
On the day after Fils-Aime and I spoke, the Wii U's online services ran into problems. Its new social network, Miiverse, kept going offline. Even when it was up, Miiverse's integration into Nintendo's own games was only operating sporadically. As of this writing, things seem better again, but it's just these kinds of issues that can worry a new consumer.
On Saturday night I'd asked Fils-Aime if potential Wii U buyers should worry about the delay of the much-hyped Nintendo TVii service from launch to December. That service is supposed to integrate a user's Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and even cable feeds into one on-demand video-viewing portal. The Nintendo president was proud to point out that Netflix was available on day one on the Wii U but shared this answer about the TVii delay. "People should not be concerned about it at all," he said. "The fact that we are now launching it in December reinforces some key truisms about Nintendo: We launch a product when it is perfect in our eyes, not just because a certain date in the calendar has come up. Probably any other company would have launched it tonight."
That promise of delivering perfection reads differently after a Sunday of Miiverse service problems on the heels of a shockingly large day-one firmware update that was required to access five of the 11 Wii U features advertised on the console's box.
Fils-Aime declined to say specifically what problems had kept TVii from debuting on launch but promised the service would be high-quality when it launches.
The Wii U is an ambitious console. Nintendo is launching a new console, a new type of game controller and a complicated new online service that includes a new online store and a new social network. Things can't possibly go perfectly. It can't all be rosy. It can be, however, the start of a new era, if not for gaming then for Nintendo. Say this is the beginning of a new generation? Sure. Let's hope it's a good one and let's hope Nintendo can deliver on what they've promised.
There are more gamers in the world today than ever before, but the vast majority isn't turning to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii U for their interactive entertainment fix. They're logging into Facebook or opening up their smart phone's app store. These new, readily accessible gaming platforms have given birth to a new generation of gamers, and for this new generation there is Kotaku Mobile and Kotaku Social.
Long-time readers may have noticed that my articles have become increasingly mobile and social focused over the past two months. They may have even caught on to the fact that I've been building up a pair of tag pages within Kotaku proper, dedicated to all things social and mobile.
For the past two months I've been immersing myself in the world of mobile games. I've downloaded and played more than 100 games on Android, iOS and Windows Phone, a mere fraction of the millions of games downloaded on those platforms every day. I've been talking to developers and publishers, learning the ins and outs of the mobile market.
At the same time I've dived headlong into the social gaming scene, exploring everything from the traditional farming and city-building simulations to the emerging mid-core and hardcore social gaming scene, blurring the line between traditional and browser-based social games more every day. There was a time that I thought social games could never be as engaging and exciting as console games. Every day I'm discovering new titles that prove me wrong.
This is my new beat. This is what I do now. Of course one man cannot hope to cover every aspect of these growing gaming segments, but with a little help from my fellow Kotaku writers I'm giving it my best shot.
Whether you play games on a phone or Facebook or just know someone who does, I encourage you to check some of this stuff out. Keep an open mind. Share your favorite discoveries. Never stop gaming.
Ah, the holidays. That time of year where your wallet is empty and your belly is full. It's a trade-off I'm willing to make. Especially if it means we get our hands on some delightful goodies, some perhaps gaming related!
But what do you get that special PC gaming enthusiast in your life? We here at Kotaku will be chiming in below in Kinja to let you know of our thoughts, but drop in your suggestions below, too! And let's amass the greatest gift suggestion for PC gamers in 2012 ever. Hardware, games, accessories are all welcome.
When Microsoft first announced its Smartglass technology at E3, I figured it would end up like the console's video marketplace, or Facebook application. A neat idea for the guys in marketing, but wholly uninteresting for the average user.
A few weeks in and I'm glad I've been proven wrong.
I've got the app installed on my Windows 8 PC, my iPad and HTC One XL, and while the phone version works well enough, it's on the tablet that the application really shines (the PC version would be great on a laptop, I guess, but on my desktop it's kinda useless).
While Smartglass retains the basic Xbox Live functionality of Microsoft's previous app, like access to messages, achievements and your friends list, it comes into its own when it's acting as an extension of your controller while you're consuming media on your console.
If you see an app, game or program on your tablet's screen, tap it and your console will boot straight to it. No more navigating through the console's laborious dashboard. It can also handle neat little touches like entering codes, giving you a touch-screen keyboard to type on instead of fudging through the console's d-pad option.
As far as aiding your gameplay, options are sadly limited right now. Forza Horizon has some cool map stuff, while Halo 4 gives you the game's Waypoint service on a screen right in front of you. And that's about it.
But the app is free, and seeing as I'm often nursing my tablet while on the couch watching TV (I watch a lot of catch-up TV on my 360) anyway, having an app like this to make things faster and easier is great.
Smartglass is currently available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8.
Xbox Smartglass [Microsoft]