David Jaffe has gone fairly quiet since leaving Eat Sleep Play, which is unusual for the outspoken developer. Though his next project wasn't talked about formally at any press events, he's revealed personally that his new start-up is working on a free-to-play, browser-based third-person shooter.
"I hate free-to-play but I love aspects of it," Jaffe told GamesIndustry.biz. "I love the instant-on, I love the low to no barrier of entry to get all kinds of people to jump in and play, I love the fact that you're sitting there at lunch and can play for five minutes or you can get sucked in and play for three hours."
On the other hand, Jaffe says he hates the business model and its reliance on microtransactions. "You can listen to the developers all day long tell you it's not pay to win, but you know, it kind of is pay to win. I'm not saying they're evil or they're lying - but one of the things they like to say is pay with your time or pay with your money. Well both of those are really shitty."
He hasn't worked out the details of how his F2P shooter will be modeled differently, but he's trying to build a team of like-minded developers. "For me it's about starting a company and finding the right group of people that really believe in this vision that there's great stuff about free-to-play but we want to make it genuinely for gamers. And I know a lot of people say that, but what they mean is we're making games that are thematically and mechanically appealing to gamers, but then we're going to f**k it all up with a business model that kind of pisses gamers off and keeps gamers away."
Crysis developer Crytek is looking to break away from the boxed model of video games and forge a free-to-play future for itself. Speaking at E3, CEO Cevat Yerli explained that once Crytek's completed its contracted boxed games, it'll only make free-to-play games.
"As we were developing console games we knew, very clearly, that the future is online and free-to-play," Yerli told VideoGamer. "Right now we are in the transitional phase of our company, transitioning from packaged goods games into an entirely free-to-play experience."
Yerli explained that Crytek plans to make its free-to-play titles of "console game quality" so they stand out from the herd, which means hefty budgets of $10-30 million.
"I think this is a new breed of games that has to happen to change the landscape, and be the most user-friendly business model," he said, criticising the path traditional publisher have taken to monetise the online world. "If you look at what kind of games are done in the packaged goods market, with DLCs and premium services and whatnot, it's literally milking the customers to death."
Free-to-play is certainly still a tricky model, though. If players aren't invested enough in the game they won't buy microtransaction items, and if paid items are too powerful then you run the risk of alienating players. It can certainly be done; F2P games including Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, League of Legends and Tribes: Ascend seem to have struck a popular balance.
So how's Warface looking, anyway? Here's a little peek at some gameplay from E3:
Last year's Wii U Zelda teaser wasn't really a game, per se. We discovered later that it was just a static scene to show off the technical prowess of the new system. We also didn't see hide nor hair of a new Zelda this year, so what's the deal? Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto says the development team is still trying new things to determine the direction of the next title.
"With the last game, Skyward Sword, that was a game where you had motion control to use your weapons and a lot of different items, and I thought that was a lot of fun, but there were some people who weren't able to do that or didn't like it as much and stopped playing partway through it," Miyamoto told Entertainment Weekly. "So we're in the phase where we're looking back at what's worked very well and what has been missing and how can we evolve it further."
He also pointed out that the industry has somewhat of a divide between players who want casual experiences versus more in-depth experiences. "Obviously as a company that's been making games for a very long time, we tend to be more on the deeper, longer game side of things.
"But really what we continue to ask ourselves as we have over the years is, 'What is the most important element of Zelda if we were to try to make a Zelda game that a lot of people can play?' So we have a number of different experiments going on, and [when] we decide that weâve found the right one of those to really help bring Zelda to a very big audience, then weâll be happy to announce it."
Introversion's delightful computer hacking sim Uplink is coming to those most cyberpunk of platforms, tablets. An iPad version was released yesterday, while an Android edition is "coming soon." Get your cyberglove on, decker.
Uplink turns you into a leet haxor for hire, sneaking into systems with malicious intent, stealing, sabotaging, and framing while you try to cover your tracks. Good fun, and now a fantastic way to make people sitting next to you on the public subterranean rail transport feel very nervous.
The iPad edition is available now from the iTunes App Store for $4.99.
As promised, at E3 Epic properly lifted the wraps off its next-generation engine, Unreal Engine 4. While the real-time cinematic teased before is jolly nice and all, the real highlight is a good long look at the tech and tools themselves.
"It is up to Epic ... to motivate Sony and Microsoft not to phone in what these next consoles are going to be. It needs to be a quantum leap," Epic design director Cliff Bleszinski recently commented. "They need to damn near render Avatar in real time, because I want it and gamers want it--even if they don't know they want it."
Of course, the PC is used to show off these demos and will happily keep pace with it all.
If you simply want to watch a pretty thing, here's that UE4 'Elemental' demo:
But the real meat and potatoes is in this ten-minute walkthrough, showing off specific effects and capabilities of Unreal Engine 4. It also demonstrates how remarkably clean and simple the editor and workflow are for developers, which will surely save a fair few hours and headaches:
Heavy Rain was a surprise success for Quantic Dream and Sony. It was a human story, a stark contrast to the bombastic Hollywood-style action games that have come to define the market. Choices mattered, and most importantly of all, failure didn't mean the end of the story.
What if David Cage and the rest of the team at Quantic could build upon those strengths--but add more meaningful gameplay, and higher-octane action? The end result is Beyond: Two Souls, a game revealed at Sony's E3 press conference days earlier.
In many ways, Beyond feels like "Heavy Rain 2." When playing as Jodie (Ellen Page), you interact with the environment in the same way. On-screen button prompts show you what you can use, and how you can use it. As in Quantic's last game, Beyond attempts to translate the motion in a meaningful way, instead of assigning arbitrary buttons, as in most games' QTE sequences. For example, picking up a cup may involve pushing the analog stick up, while kicking a door down will require shaking the controller.
In one part of the demo, Jodie had to escape getting caught by the authorities. She rushes out of her train car, but it's too late--they've already spotted her. She runs forward, trying to open various doors by using the on-screen prompts. Eventually, she makes her way to the top of the train. As she runs towards the front of the train, cops try to grab her; Jodie must dodge by clearing QTE sections. As in Heavy Rain, failing a single QTE doesn't necessarily mean the fight is over, however. Instead, it simply changes. Jodie might fall, for example, and initiate a different QTE sequence, where she must recover.
The similarities between Heavy Rain and Beyond stop there, however. Whereas Cage intentionally avoided supernatural abilities in Heavy Rain after the criticisms he faced after Indigo Prophecy, he's fully embracing the paranormal this time around. Jodie is bonded to a spirit named Aiden, and that allows Beyond to become a very different game. For example, the action scenes are a lot more over-the-top than what Heavy Rain's story could afford. On top of the train, Jodie has the option of jumping off the train--protected by a translucent blue shield offered by her spiritual companion.
In another sequence, Jodie is riding a motorcycle through a windy forest highway. This isn't a cutscene, however. Players must actually steer the bike using Sixaxis tilt controls. While QTEs are still a part of the gameplay, Beyond gives players far more direct control over the character, For example, in the aforementioned train sequence, Jodie was actually being steered directly by the player, only triggering QTE fights with cops when she ran too close to them. In another section, it's up to the player to run around and navigate the forest--all whilst avoiding detection from the cops.
As Jodie rides her bike, she eventually comes to a police barricade. Here, she decides to use the power of her ghost companion yet again, using Aiden's shield to drive directly through the roadblock. These are no ordinary cops, equipped with assault rifles. The shield is quite effective, however, with bullets bouncing off of it.
Interestingly, you don't just play as Jodie. You play as Aiden, as well. And here, Beyond shows how truly different it is. As a disembodied spirit, you can simply float around the environment. You're tethered to Jodie, though, so you can only explore so far before being reeled back in. On the train, for example, you can float outside, passing through any and all matter, and travel as far as the next station. You can see and hear the police talking about how they plan on stopping the train, and capturing Jodie. As Aiden, you can use that information to alert Jodie, giving her a chance to escape.
While Aiden floats through everything, he can interact with certain objects in the environment. For example, he can make a cup topple over. Or, he can make a bag fall down. As Aiden, you'll see a number of glowing auras, indicating what you can lock onto and possess.
The possession mechanic is at the heart of Beyond's new puzzles. For example, for Jodie to get the bicycle, she first had to deal with the police offers that were surrounding it. Switching to Aiden, you'll see various colored auras around people: white, yellow, and red. While you can't do much to anyone in white, you can possess anyone with a yellow aura. In this sequence, Aiden took control of a cop in a van, and then commanded him to just drive the van recklessly. As the cops were distracted by the possessed man's odd behavior, Jodie was able to steal the bike.
There are bigger and more dire situations which demand Aiden's powers to be called upon. In the demo's finale, Jodie has been shot, is trapped by an oncoming SWAT team. It's up to Aiden to take care of them--by killing everyone in the area. Here, Beyond becomes a sandbox of destruction. You can possess one of the snipers, for example, and kill off as many soldiers as possible before they fire back at you. You can use your ghastly powers to kick cars over, killing any soldiers taking cover behind them. You can even topple a clock tower, using Aiden's amplified powers.
There's a gas station nearby, and causing it to explode will kill off many of the men threatening to grab Jodie. And there are multiple ways of causing it to burn up. You could possess one of the soldiers, and have him throw a grenade towards the tanks. Or, you could knock one of the nozzles off its handle, causing the petrol to spill to the ground. As the spill grows, you can possess a street lamp, cause the bulb to explode. The sparks will then ignite the fuel, causing the entire station to go boom.
All of this happens in real time, as the soldiers make their way closer to Jodie. You might be successful in letting her escape, having discovered the many ways you can kill in this environment. However, what happens if one squad makes it through, amidst all the chaos and commotion? Beyond still retains the branching storytelling of Heavy Rain, writer and director David Cage promised us.
Beyond takes the best aspects of Heavy Rain--crucial decision-making and an adaptive, branching storyline--and adds much more player interactivity. Remaining in direct control of all the characters seems to be a new emphasis in Beyond, one that's much appreciated. Aiden's supernatural abilities add a fascinating, albeit brutal, new puzzle-solving mechanic. And, it's all done with performances that are far more believable and lifelike than in Quantic Dream's last effort. Combining all of these elements, Beyond is not only one of the best surprises of E3 this year, it's one of the best games at the show.
Tekken is getting an injection of rhythmic rhymes, with an original song and cameo by Snoop Dogg. Namco Bandai has announced that Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will feature an original song from Snoop called "Knocc 'Em Down." It will be featured in the game and in the original soundtrack.
Pre-orders will also receive a special "Snoop Dogg Stage" featuring a cameo of the rapper watching the match. Presumably, his song would play during the stage too. He's not a playable character, sad to say, but his stage should be interesting. We'd expect it to be extremely... uh, let's call it "foggy."
"We are big fans of Snoop Dogg and are proud to welcome him to the Tekken franchise," said project director Katsuhiro Harada, in the announcement. "The content we created with Snoop Dogg and the song he made for the game allow Tekken fans to experience the legendary hip-hop star in a unique way and blend both Eastern and Western cultures like never before."
Cooperative multiplayer's pretty nice, isn't it. Rather than shooting your chum in the face, you get to join forces with them to shoot other people in the face. Lovely! How nice, then, that publisher 2K Games announced at E3 that co-op is coming to Spec Ops: The Line in free DLC.
What you'll get is not straight co-op for the single-player campaign, no my friend. What the DLC will bring is four objective-driven missions for two players to shoot their way through. 2K says it'll be released "shortly after the game's launch."
Spec Ops: The Line arrives for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on June 26. A demo's already out on consoles, and will come to PC on June 19.
In a move that seemed inevitable, 38 Studios has finally declared bankruptcy. To make matters worse, various state and federal agencies have reportedly launched an investigation into the company in light of recent events surrounding its money woes.
In a statement to The Providence Journal, a spokesperson said, "This action comes after several weeks when the company has reviewed, considered and received the recommendations and advice with respect to potential avenues for relief that are currently available. After ongoing negotiations with the State of Rhode Island and potential investors and other interested parties, the Company has been unable to find a solution to the current stalemate."
Meanwhile, Rhode Island State Police superintendent Colonel Steven O'Donnell says that his police, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's office, and the Rhode Island attorney general are all working together to investigate the company. O'Donnell said the investigation is into "activities that have recently come to light at 38 Studios." Namely, the investigation centers around the large Rhode Island loan to the company, along with an $8.5 million loan from Bank RI that was reportedly borrowed against state film tax credits which hadn't been issued.
The situation has been tense between 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling and the Rhode Island government, with Schilling accusing state Governor Lincoln Chafee of scaring investors. EA had passed on publishing a sequel to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and the company was attempting to find a new publisher. Chafee disputed the account.
The fallout has ended happily for some people, though. Some displaced employees of Big Huge Games were hired on to form a new Epic studio in Baltimore.
Garnett continues his brave journey through the sprawling madness of E3 to bring you another Shacknews Daily. This time, our man on the inside talks about the freedom of choice in games like The Last of Us and Dishonored. Then, he kicks it into high-gear with thoughts on Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Forza Horizon. Finally, Garnett peers into our crystal ball for games that probably won't be out for a while: Watch Dogs and a video of Final Fantasy running on next-generation hardware.
Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.