BitSummit has been at the forefront of Japan’s independent gaming scene for the past two years, hosting an event that shows off projects from small studios and industry veterans alike, plus live music and an awards show. Last year’s showcase attracted 5,000 fans and 130 game developers, including Mega Man designer Keiji Inafune, Epic Games, Sony and Microsoft.
For the 2015 show, BitSummit has partnered with four studios — 17-Bit, Vitei, Q-Games and Pygmy Studio — to establish the Japan Independent Games Aggregate, which will oversee all event planning. Plus, one of the leading indie-game promotion houses in the Western world, Indie Megabooth, will help organize BitSummit 2015, lending it an extra layer of delicious credibility. Indie Megabooth President and CEO Kelly Wallick joins JIGA on its board of advisers, and she spoke with us briefly about the new collaboration.
First, we need to establish one fact: Indie Megabooth lives up to its name. It premiered at Boston gaming convention PAX East in 2012 with just 16 developers, and has since exploded in popularity, at times hosting up to 80 games at a range of huge events throughout the year, including GDC in San Francisco, PAX Prime in Seattle and the largest show of the year, Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.
Two hundred developers applied to be in the Indie Megabooth in 2013 alone, and the team had to create a new “shared space” section to accommodate all of the selected games. Historically, these include The Talos Principle, Super TIME Force, Dungeon of the Endless, Hyper Light Drifter, Hotline Miami 1 and 2, Guacamelee, and other high-profile projects.
Indie Megabooth is a big deal in the Western world, and now it’s taking that expertise to Japan’s rapidly growing indie-gaming scene.
“There’s plenty of events in the US and Europe that focus on specific sub-sections of the gaming industry, but only a handful that reach a wide consumer audience all at once (such as PAX),” Wallick says. “We wanted to help established communities work together to push forward into brighter spotlights. In the case of Japan — where the indie development scene is starting to define itself and what that means — it’s more beneficial to help build that foundation and community so it can grow in its own way first.”
BitSummit 2015: Return of the Indies takes place in Kyoto, Japan, at the historic Miyako Messe from July 11th – 12th, and with help from Indie Megabooth and JIGA, it’s poised to be a bigger event than ever. BitSummit has established itself as a leading voice for indie games in Japan, Wallick notes, and she says it’s already had “a tremendous impact on how not only local developers see their own community, but how the greater international community does as well.”
Source: Indie Megabooth
Cards Against Humanity, the naughty fill-in-the-blank card game, today launched the $10 Science Pack, an expansion offering 30 cards written in collaboration with Bad Astronomer Phil Plait and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal creator Zach Weinersmith. But that’s not the coolest part: All proceeds raised by the Science Pack will be funneled into the Cards Against Humanity and SMBC Science Ambassador Scholarship, which offers full tuition coverage to women seeking undergraduate degrees in science, tech, engineering and mathematics. Applications will go live soon for the fall 2016 school year, and each one will be reviewed by a panel of more than 40 women working in STEM fields, including at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Harvard Medical School and the Smithsonian Institution.
“We desperately need diversity in science because the alternative makes no sense,” scholarship board member Veronica Berns, PhD, says in a press release. “So often girls are told in both overt and subtle ways that they aren’t able to be good at math and science. With this scholarship, I’m excited to get to tell a passionate girl out there, ‘Yes! What you are doing and dreaming is really great, and here’s some help to get you where you want to go.’”
The Science Pack was already in the works in November, when creators showed it off at the Bay Area Science Festival. Notable examples of science cards include the prompt, “Today on Mythbusters, we find out how long _____ can withstand _____ ,” and possible answer cards, “Uranus” and “The quiet majesty of the sea turtle.” It sounds like a great expansion pack, folks.
In America, women make up just 12 percent of engineers, and only 26 percent of the computing field.
“We knew from the outset that we wanted sales of the science pack to go to a science-related non-profit,” Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin tells Engadget. “We did some preliminary research and didn’t find any organizations that jumped out at us. Eventually we decided that with the funding we expected, it would have the greatest impact to just fund a few peoples’ college education. Targeting the scholarship at women who want to go into STEM just came from continuing to think about how our limited funding could have the greatest impact.”
Women are largely underrepresented in STEM fields — in America, women make up just 12 percent of engineers, and only 26 percent of the professional computing field, down from 35 percent in 1990, according to the American Association of University Women. NPR recently dove into the shifts in society and advertising that led women to leave these industries, and President Barack Obama has made diversity in STEM a priority for the White House.
The Cards Against Humanity Science Pack went on sale on Monday, and already it’s raised triple-digit numbers for the scholarship. For those interested in applying, here are some of the fine details: full tuition coverage is available for up to four years, applicants must be in high school or college, and they “must identify as women in a way that’s significant to them,” according to the press release. Sign up to be notified when applications go live right here, and buy the Science Pack here.
“Cards Against Humanity has a wide reach online, and we’re anticipating a huge volume of applications,” says Jenn Bane, Cards Against Humanity communications manager and project manager of the Science Ambassador Scholarship. “Our hope is that this scholarship makes a tremendous impact in someone’s life, and creates more visibility for women working in science.”
Source: Science Ambassador Scholarship
We trotted out some truly precious puppies to announce the winners of this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, but now it’s time to get down to business. As we do every year, we tasked our editor’s with the monumental feat of sifting through the previous year’s biggest innovations to select the absolute best in show. While there’s some crossover with our Readers’ Choice winners (sorry Fire phone), there were a few notable exceptions. But you’ll have to check out the gallery below to find out what made the cut.
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The votes for the 11th Annual Engadget People’s Choice Awards have been tallied and the winners are in. As is always the case, there were some very polarizing products on the ballot and many of the honorees won by a very small margin. But the real winners this year were the cute and adoptable puppies at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) shelter. The only thing we love here at Engadget more than true innovation is man’s best friend, so we teamed up with the SFACC for a special awards ceremony. Early last week, a set of the most eligible animals in San Francisco accepted “trophies” on behalf of the companies that created your favorite gadgets and software of 2014. To find out who took top honors check out the video above, and to take home one of our special guests, please visit the SFACC for more information.
And check back this afternoon to find out what won this year’s Editors’ Choice awards.
Furious 7 is the latest installment in the Fast and Furious movie franchise and is set to hit theaters from April 3rd with its exotic cars and crazy stunts. In case you can’t wait until then, the official Fast & Furious: Legacy game that puts you behind the wheel of more than 50 sports cars has just hit the Play Store. We have the video and download link after the break.
Fast and Furious: Legacy is an anthology experience, in that it includes cars and missions based on all seven films. It’s compatible with smartphones and tablets of all makes and sizes according to the Play Store listing, and you can experience 1080p graphics if your device allows it. Fast and Furious: Legacy is free to install, although it does have in-App-Purchases, so be aware of that if you are installing the game on a device that will be used by children. We have the video below along with the QR code and Play Store download link. In case you were wondering, the game is also available on iOS.
- Race in multiple game modes and international locations - Street, Drift, Drag, Getaway and Takedown modes with more promised. Locations range from Rio De Janeiro, Los Angeles, Miami, and Tokyo.
- Customize your ride - Personalize your cars with new rims, paint jobs, vinyl and more. Or just upgrade your card with new performance parts.
- Recruit your own crew – Play with friends, race head-to-head or play multi-player.
- Battle villains from the movies – Race against villains taken straight from the movies such as DK, Braga, and Carter Verone. Or join Tej, Roman and Letty on missions in Story Mode.
Come comment on this article: Fast & Furious: Legacy drifts on to the Play Store
If you were intrigued by PlayStation Vue as a substitute for cable TV but refused to sign up until you could watch The Walking Dead, it’s time to hop aboard. Sony has added AMC Networks to Vue’s channel roster, giving you AMC proper as well as IFC, Sundance and WEtv. Be prepared to pony up if you just have to catch Portlandia, though — while you’ll get AMC and WEtv in the base Access package, IFC and Sundance are only available if you’ve subscribed to Core or Elite. This certainly isn’t the best deal if you care about AMC or IFC above all else (Sling TV offers it as part of its $20 bundle), but it’ll make Vue a better value for your cord-cutting dollar.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda game in development for Wii U is no longer due out in 2015, producer Eiji Aonuma announced in a video (embedded after the break) today. “I must apologize to you all that were expecting the game by year’s end, but we are no longer making a 2015 release our number one priority,” Aonuma says. “Instead, our priority is to make it the most complete and ultimate Zelda game. I hope to use the added time to make The Legend of Zelda for Wii U into a game that will reward you for your patience, so thank you for your continued support.”
Since reiterating the 2015 launch window at The Game Awards in December, the Zelda Wii U development team has discovered more possibilities to add to the game’s open world, Aonuma says. He continues:
As we have worked to turn these possibilities into reality, new ideas have continued to spring forth, and it now feels like we have the potential to create something that exceeds even my own expectations. As I have watched our development team progress, I have come to think that rather than work with meeting a specific schedule as our main objective, and releasing a game that reflects only what we can create within that scheduled time, I feel strongly that our focus should be to bring all these ideas to life in a way that will make The Legend of Zelda on Wii U the best game it can possibly be.
Nintendo revealed the Wii U version of The Legend of Zelda in June 2014, during E3.
Source: Nintendo (YouTube)
Halo is making a triumphant, if border-blocked, return to PC with Halo Online, a free multiplayer-only game set to launch in Russia this spring. The Russian launch is a closed beta, as Microsoft figures out the best way “to welcome new fans to the Halo universe,” according to a post on Halo Waypoint. Halo Online is built on a modified version of the Halo 3 engine, and it should run smoothly on lower-end PCs, Microsoft says. Halo Online comes from Halo: The Master Chief Collection collaborator Saber Interactive and software developer Innova Systems, who have partnered with Halo 4 and 5 studio 343 Industries and, of course, Microsoft.
It’s multiplayer-only, so there’s no solo campaign, but the game does have a basic storyline, as laid out on Waypoint: “Halo Online is set on a secret UNSC space installation called Anvil, where Spartan-IV soldiers train together in war exercises to sharpen their battle skills and test experimental technology.”
Historically, Halo is exclusive to Xbox, since it comes from that console’s manufacturer, Microsoft (though the first Halo did launch on Windows as well). However, the company notes that Halo Online is not destined for Xbox One, since it was built specifically for PC. In a similar move, after several years of development Activision recently launched an open beta for Call of Duty Online, a freemium version of its flagship shooter that’s only available in China. Right now, this game is in development for Russia only, though Microsoft notes that “theoretically,” Halo Online would have to be adapted for different regions before launching elsewhere. Until then, we’ll just be sitting here, Needlers crossed.
Source: Halo Waypoint
Hotline Miami makes you feel things that you don’t want to feel. It shows you a veritable smorgasbord of ugly — from its jagged artwork to its stomach churning cartoon violence — and somehow makes you love it. Which is precisely the point. Dennis Wedin and Jonatan Söderström, the duo comprising Hotline Miami studio Dennaton Games, returned to their signature world of psychosis, brutality, and ’80s flash this March with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. The sequel puts even more emphasis on story and character, which makes its ugliness even more affecting. We’ll discuss that and more with the studio during today’s two-hour stream of the game.
Starting at 3PM, you can catch our stream with Dennaton Games right here in this post, on the Engadget.com/gaming landing page, or on Twitch.tv/Joystiq. If you’re a new fan of the stream, make sure to follow us on Twitch so you know when we’ll go live!
[We’re playing Hotline Miami 2 on PC streamed at 720p.]
Am I “good” at games? I don’t know.
I’m 30 years old: I’ve been playing video games for 25 of those years, give or take, and covering games professionally for just over six years. I spent two weeks this year completing Mega Man 1 through 4. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Spelunky. Whether I’m “good” at games is up for debate; I love challenging games. Despite this, I’ve never loved the divisive, feverishly adored/hated Souls games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2). Their challenges felt too great to overcome, their systems too inscrutable, their technical issues too great in number. They felt frustrating instead of challenging.
Bloodborne — the latest entry in the series and the first without a “Souls” moniker attached — changes that. This is a game I love to hate. But I mostly just love it.
Really quickly, for those of you who don’t know what kind of game Bloodborne is:
- It’s a third-person action game.
- You play as an avatar of your creation made at the start of the game.
- The game’s narrative is largely unimportant; its setting is not. Bloodborne is set in a monster-filled version of Victorian England (a fictitious town named Yharnam).
- Each enemy, however weak, can easily kill you. Bloodborne (and the rest of the Souls games) demand careful planning and strategy with every single fight.
- It’s a game of exploration; specifically, it’s a game of exploring one massive, interconnected world.
So, what makes Bloodborne different from previous series entries? It’s not nearly as much of a dick as previous games. Yeah. Really.
I’m not trying to be flip — that’s a totally serious statement. While previous games punished players incessantly with compounding measures, Bloodborne encourages you to keep trying. That is a crucial difference in game design, and one that should make the PlayStation 4 exclusive appealing to a much larger audience than other Souls games.
Death in previous Souls games imbued status effects on your character — namely, lower overall health. That’s to say, “Each time you died, you started your next life with slightly less health than before.” Oh, and all the (terribly hard) enemies reappear after each death. If you got frustrated in your last attempt at an area and tried rushing through it on subsequent attempts, you were likely to die again. And quickly. That actually remains the case in Bloodborne — no rushing! But if you do rush, the worst that happens is you have to start the area over from your last save point (that is a punishment unto itself: save points are represented by in-game lamps placed throughout the world).
I used the word “inscrutable” earlier in reference to the systems of previous games. Bloodborne is, by contrast, concise and easily understood.
Your character wields a large sawblade melee weapon that transforms into a longer version of itself (which takes a bit more time to swing). He or She has a firearm in their other hand, and you use weapons by pushing the shoulder buttons and triggers. Simple!
There are a handful of “origins” to choose from at the start of the game. These are tied to your characters stats (seen below) — just seven boxes to dump points into (stuff like strength and vitality). Again, simple! I’ve been pushing mine into strength, vitality and stamina. Bloodborne demands offense far more often than defense, so I’ve spec’d up my character to be the stone-cold killer he needs to be.
There is only one currency in Bloodborne, which is used both for items (new weapons, armor, ammo, etc.) and for leveling up your character. Hilariously, the currency is called “Blood Echoes” (the replacement for “souls” in previous series entries). Everything in Bloodborne has the word “blood” in it. It’s charming and gross and silly, like so much of Bloodborne‘s themes. It’s the Uglydolls of video games.
You get these “blood echoes” from killing enemies. Should you die in battle, a blood stain remains on the ground, holding your precious money until you return to that spot. In a messed up twist, sometimes the very enemies you were fighting gank your money. Revenge is a must; not just because it feels good, but because that’s the only way to get your money back. Messed up! But, again, thankfully simple!
Maybe don’t fight the electric beast first thing
Every game in this series, from Demon’s Souls through to Bloodborne, is about understanding and mastery. Mastery isn’t just about knowing the levels and the enemies, but knowing your own character’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing when to fight and when to run. Knowing when not to go into a certain part of the world just as much as knowing when you should.
In the first part of Bloodborne, you’ve got two main pathways to go: toward two different bosses. One is hard, but beatable. The other is nigh impossible in the early stages of character development.
Again, maybe I’m not very good at games.
This is “the hunt.” Bloodborne says you’re a hunter, destroying the beasts that plague Yharnam. A hunter who should know better than to shoot a grizzly with a Derringer.
Instead of pushing me down, Bloodborne forces me to play smarter. And it doesn’t make me feel like a jerk when I don’t. I don’t know if I’m good enough for Bloodborne, but I’m trying to be.