The stealthy 2D side-scrolling cat burglar indie game Gunpoint recouped its development costs in one minute and four seconds according to Suspicious Developments. Tom Francis, lead designer of Gunpoint, posted some results of his indie game launch.
So, I quit my job.
In fact, I think I have quit jobs, as a concept. I started Gunpoint as an audition piece to get myself a position at a developer, but designing it has been so creatively satisfying that I no longer want one, and so commercially successful that I’ll never need one.
I haven’t been retweeting praise or flaunting any actual sales figures, but if it’s not going to sound too horribly braggy, I’ll share the one part of Gunpoint’s success that you might actually care about:
I can now make games full-time for the foreseeable future
Francis did specify that he was only counting the purchase price of the development software in his calculations. It’s likely that the cost of labor would’ve extended his time to profitability by at least a few more minutes. Either way, Francis says he’s pleased with the success of Gunpoint and plans to continue working on it.
The quick tease of Mad Max at the Sony pre-E3 presentation had tongues wagging, especially when it was revealed that Avalanche Studios would be developing it. They know explosions. They made the Just Cause games, and if there’s one thing those games do well it’s making things explode in satisfying ways. They also know accents. Tom’s favorite Just Cause 2 character sports an alluring speech pattern that makes a man weak in the knees.
But where is Max’s Aussie accent? He just has a generic American videogame voice in the trailer. Avalanche’s Christofer Sundberg told IGN that this game is about more than just a location.
“We treated this as a completely new property and that was really the only way for us to take on a licensed game. It’s the first licensed game we’ve ever taken on. And we wanted to treat it like an original IP. The setting – where it is in the world – has really nothing to do with the Mad Max video game. It’s really a game to do with the relationships between different people in this world.”
The game was originally going to be a direct tie-in with the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road movie, but it’s been confirmed that this is now a separate story in the Mad Max canon.
Vince Zampella, General Manager of Respawn Entertainment must’ve had a good time at E3. Respawn’s Titanfall had a well-received showing at Microsoft’s pre-E3 stage presentation and everyone seems suitably impressed by the game’s mechs versus humans premise. Speaking to IGN, Zampella discussed the relief of finally showing off his project and how Microsoft’s cloud computing effort drove Respawn forward.
It wasn’t until the cloud functionality that Respawn realized what it could do with Windows 8 and what would become Xbox One. “It allowed us to think of the game a little differently,” Zampella explains. “That was the perfect solution.” Offloading artificial intelligence and dedicated servers to the cloud guarantee a smoother experience with smarter enemies in a game that blurs the line between single-player campaign and competitive multiplayer.
Vince Zampella didn’t rule out the possibility of the game coming to other platforms, noting that it was a “solvable problem.”
Now that everyone’s presumably done with E3 — all that’s left is to watch how deep a hole Microsoft digs themselves — let’s get back to a far more important topic: games we can actually play right now. I’m not surprised that publishers try to drive the conversation to upcoming games. That’s their job. But I am surprised at how well it works. Why are so many of you peering so intently through carefully jiggered binoculars handed to you by various marketing departments? Had enough yet? Are you ready to come back to the amazing stuff already at your fingertips?
State of Decay developer Undead Labs has some good news and some bad news. I know you like your dessert first, so there’s this tidbit in today’s blog update announcing that they’ve passed a half million copies downloaded.
We’re working on a pure sandbox mode for State of Decay, in large part because you asked for it.
State of Decay is already an open-world game with scads of freedom, but it’s got particular story beats that might get old after, say, a second play-through. But it’s also got more than enough gameplay to sustain a completely wide-open unscripted sandbox experience, and I’m delighted Undead Labs will see it through. I just hope we can name our own characters, because I already have my share of baggage with the existing characters.
Now I’m going to give you the damn veggies. It looks like the first patch will download but it won’t install. There’s some confusion about how and even whether this actually happened. But if you were like me and holding off for that handful of fixes before continuing your game, you might want to hold off a little longer. Which will get you that much closer to the sandbox mode.
Since all of your Xbox One game licenses are tied to your account, what happens if you get banned from your account as part of a disciplinary action? Losing multiplayer access is punishment enough, but losing access to all the games tied to your account would be a bit much. It’s no surprise that Microsoft doesn’t seem to know what happens any more than the average gamer yet. Recently, the official Xbox Support on Twitter gave an alarming reply to someone that asked about the effects of an account ban.
If your account is banned, you also forfeit the licenses to any games that have licenses tied to it as listed in the ToU.
It’s not the answer we wanted to see, but at least it’s a clear answer. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s Major Nelson, answered the same question quite differently when asked during E3 in this Reddit interview.
Chloe Dykstra: “If someone is banned, whether their fault or not, will they lose access to the games they purchased?” Major Nelson: “Absolutely not. You will always have access to the games you’ve purchased. Absolutely not.” Chloe Dykstra: “Yay!” Major Nelson: “Yay? Really? Come on! You had to expect that.”
Major Nelson is right. You should expect that, but as we’ve seen in the past with other companies, account bans with game licenses tied to them can sometimes lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.
The only major release this week is Capcom’s latest appeal to nostalgia with Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, an action RPG with official D&D flavoring available for download for the Xbox 360. This seemed like a good idea to me. Until I played it. This is a direct port of an arcade brawler from 1993 and its 1996 sequel, both of which hurt my eyes and my game design sensibilities. Who would play this? It’s like having Spin Doctors songs in your iTunes library.
Salem: The crafting MMO, developed by Seatribe will need to look for a new publisher. Paradox Interactive has cut the game loose from their publishing schedule and the game will need to find its own way. Paradox posted the news in the official forums, letting players know that they will have nothing more to do with the game after July 8th.
As we approach the 2,5 year anniversary of the announcement of the game and after nearly a year in Beta, Seatribe and Paradox have taken stock and evaluated both where we are today and what we think the future has in store. Our conclusion is that the game is active and much potential still lies in the game and its community, but that the concept still needs time and development to mature. To ensure longevity of this title and to have a set up that will allow Seatribe to work with this game for many months/years to come we have therefore decided to take some steps to optimize how the game is managed today and the costs of running it.
Effective from July 8, Seatribe will assume full support management and development ownership of Salem: The Crafting MMO. Any decisions taken from that point on will be taken by and communicated through Seatribe to you – the community. Paradox Interactive will start phasing out their involvement in the project from today and on July 8 the game for all intents and purposes will be Seatribe’s to run.
Seatribe plans to continue development of the game while they look for a new publishing path. Salem beta players will receive a 50% discount coupon for the Paradox store and some in-game cash for their trouble.
Before we’d seen Man of Steel, one of us on this podcast predicted that it would be the worst movie we see all summer. Did Zack Snyder, the director of Sucker Punch, live up to this expectation? If you want to avoid Man of Steel spoilers, jump to the 1:09 mark for this week’s 3×3 of our favorite babysitters in movies.
Diablo III gets it. Torchlight gets it. Marvel Ultimate Alliance gets it. Titan Quest gets it. Borderlands gets it. Path of Exile doesn’t get it. Van Helsing doesn’t get it. Krater doesn’t get it. Dungeon Siege doesn’t get it. Sacred doesn’t get it. Hellgate: London didn’t get it. Try as they might, many RPGs don’t get it, including some of the good ones.
Ever wonder what kind of horror movie Mark Duplass would write? Frankly, me either. But the answer to that question is Black Rock, directed by and starring Katie Aselton, who has worked with Duplass in quirky indie comedy fare like The League and Puffy Chair.
It opens with — stop me if you’ve heard this one — three women going camping. They drive a little boat out to an island utterly devoid of anything resembling scenery or likely camping spots. This being a horror movie, there are bad men out here. When it comes time to toughen up and survive, the scenes play out like acting workshop exercises. “Okay ladies, in this scene, you’re a football team getting psyched for the big game. Go!” They even smack each other on the head to show they’re serious. But this stuff is practically Brando compared to the villain, a pale willowy nerd mistakenly cast as a ruthless war-hardened psycho.
The most notable thing about Black Rock is its take on nudity. Plenty of horror movies include pointlessly titillating nudity. It goes with the territory. Black Rock takes a briefly courageous approach, but quickly turns timid. The actresses put their clothes back on and you’re back to watching a typical horror movie. It all ends in a ridiculous rough-and-tumble finale with all the brutality of a pillow fight, but with bad bruise make-up and a little fake blood.
There are a couple of reasons I’m predisposed to follow World of Diving, an underwater exploration game from an independent Dutch studio crowdsourcing its development (Indiegogo link here and Steam Greenlight link here).
The first is that I’m an erstwhile diver myself (if you haven’t actually been in the water in the last, say, two years, you can’t call yourself a diver in the present tense; scuba diving is as unnatural as space exploration and it takes acclimation, no matter how much experience you have). So I love the idea of a moderately serious simulation in a procedurally generated underwater world. In the above video, I was sold when the divers gave each other the “okay” sign rather than talking over mysterious microphones in their mouthpieces.
But the main reason I’ll be following this game is that there are too few like it. Nintendo’s Endless Ocean games for the Wii were a bit too gamey, as befits games published by Nintendo. Most of you have never even heard of the golden standard for this tiny genre. Aquanaut’s Holiday, for the original Playstion, came out in 1995. It was a simultaneously confounding and relaxing game, from a time when there was no such thing as a first-person open-world sandbox. As I should have guessed from the title, Aquanaut’s Holiday had no game structure: no quests, no goals, no danger. I swam around in vain searching for something like a shark or a giant squid. What sort of underwater videogame doesn’t have a shark or a giant squid? I’m not sure I ever figured out that the only thing that passed for gameplay was a coral reef endgame in which you built a home for fish. The developer of Aquanaut’s Holiday went on to make another confounding and relaxing game called Tail of the Sun, which is arguably a precursor to games like Minecraft and Don’t Starve.
Unfortunately, World of Diving is also an online game. Here’s where the promise of procedurally generated underwater exploration starts to look like something else:
Starting out in the Caribbean, World of Diving recreates and brings to life the world of wonder and discovery that is at the bottom of the ocean, where you will be hang out with friends — whether you have met them in or outside of the game — and can dive with the sea turtles, hunt for the great white shark, and party on your own luxury yachts.
Military troops are just like civilians. They use videogames to relax and compete with each other while overseas or on active deployment. In the few days since Microsoft clarified some of their restrictive policies for the Xbox One, some military personnel have made their thoughts clear on the matter. They don’t like it. Because the Xbox One must phone home at least once every 24 hours, or any time a game needs to be authenticated, it’s going to be difficult to use while deployed to areas with unreliable internet connections, like some barracks or on ships. Additionally, the Xbox One is restricted for use in only the areas of the world listed in the officially supported countries leaving out whole military bases.
The Army Times asked Microsoft about workarounds to these policies for service members, but the response was unhelpful.
“I don’t have additional details to share and can’t speculate on workarounds at this time,” wrote Xbox rep Danica Stickel in an emailed response to questions, repeating the suggestion that troops could just use the 360 instead.
“Although we’re very excited about Xbox One, we remain dedicated to Xbox 360 now and for years to come. In fact, we are expecting some of the greatest blockbusters of 2013 and 2014 to come out on Xbox 360.”
Stickel advised The Army Times that there is good news for the troops. Since their Xbox One content is tied to their Live account, as long as they activate a game in their home country, they’ll be able to play it anywhere afterwards. Of course, this presumes that the player can connect the Xbox One to the internet every 24 hours after activating the content.
You can usually tell early on when a no-budget movie is going to be a waste of time. It’s clear early on this isn’t the case with Resolution, which has a deliciously creepy slow-burn script, a confident style by co-directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, and two appealing leads. Vinny Curran is a gloriously bearded redneck junkie and Peter Cilella is the friend who single-handedly conducts his intervention. Curran has the showier role and he’s in over his head at times. But Cilella is particularly good as the exasperated straight man, with all of Greg Kinnear’s appeal and none of the smirk. And most importantly, they’ve got the kind of chemistry to make what they’re doing believable.
The intervention angle is mostly a set-up to get these two guys to linger for a few day in one of those cabins in the woods that you might see in movies such as, well, The Cabin in the Woods. To imply there’s anything meta going on could be a spoiler. Suffice to say Justin Benson’s script is no stranger to Cache, one of Michael Haneke’s finest, most intricate, and most infuriatingly elusive movies. Resolution manages to do far more with things that go bump against the camera than any mere special effects. And once the ending rolls around, there’s no denying this is a movie that has earned its title.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from CD Projekt Red was one of the games shown on Microsoft’s stage during their pre-E3 presentation. It’s a next-gen open-world extravaganza of witching, so it made sense that it was one of the games touted as being extra awesome on the Xbox One thanks to Kinect-enabled voice commands and the “power of the cloud.”
What struck a few fans as odd was just the fact that a famously anti-DRM developer like CD Projekt Red would even strike up a deal with Microsoft for their notoriously restrictive Xbox One console. CDP co-founder Marcin Iwiński told Eurogamer right after the conference that they didn’t have full details of the console DRM policy.
“We have not received anything from Microsoft until today on this one and, before we form any definite opinions here, we would like to have this process explained in details by the platform holder.
“From our side, we will be of course looking for the most gamer friendly solution.”
Iwiński later clarified that they didn’t want to “punish” Xbox One gamers and that ultimately “it’s the clients who make the final decision.”
Another puzzling aspect to the relationship is the fact that the Xbox One will not actually work in CDP’s native Poland at launch according to an official list of supported countries. Iwiński told Game Informer that he was taken by surprise by the console not working in his country.
“I was just in a restaurant and saw the list,” Iwinski told us. “I was surprised, and I really hope that it isn’t final. I think Polish gamers will speak out loud. From my perspective, it’s a sad situation.”
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be available DRM-free to PC gamers at GOG.com in 2014.