While the Wii U is among our favorite ways to game, its Netflix experience has been lagging behind a bit. New features like (optional) autoplaying episodes, switching between individual profiles and easy resuming just never came to the console, until now. A new update went out last night — just in time for the debut of the excellent-looking Narcos series — that should bring things up to par with the rest, however some gamers on NeoGAF are still looking for the ability to control it with the Pro Controller instead of Nintendo’s GamePad. Also, the new app defaults to streaming video to your GamePad instead of leaving it for information and navigation, so keep that in mind if you’re checking out a few episodes in between rounds of Splatoon this weekend.
Tags: GamePad, hdpostcross, Netflix, nintendo, streaming, update, video, WiiU
If you wondered what would become of Lucasfilm after ‘ol George sold the firm back in 2012, you’re looking at it: Disney Infinity 3.0. Yes, that game — the best possible example of just how many of the franchises you know and love belong to Mickey Mouse. The game series started small, with just Disney itself and Pixar, the next version tacked on Marvel Super Heroes. The latest version of the game a cavalcade of everything: Star Wars, the Avengers, Tron, Frozen and more. As a fans of all those things, Tim Seppala I just have to take a look. Join us at 6PM ET (3PM PT) on Twitch.tv/Joystiq, the Engadget Gaming homepage or right here in this post. It’s going to be a magical adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
[We’re streaming Disney Infinity 3.0 at 720p through OBS, so rest assured this game will look dramatically better on your TV, through your PlayStation 4 at home.]
Tags: Disney, disneyinfinity, disneyinfinity3, disneyinfinity3.0, playdate, starwars, streaming, twitch
Nintendo helped kick off Seattle’s annual PAX Prime gaming convention with a focus on the indie scene. The Nindies@Night event at the EMP Museum gave fans a chance to check out 19 indie games on the Wii U and 3DS — and interact with the developers themselves. Among the highlights: Developer Shin’en showed off two-player split-screen support in its very F-Zero-esque Fast Racing Neo; Squad talked about bringing Wii U-specific features to Kerbal Space Program; and Yacht Club Games unveiled a certain shovel-wielding Amiibo figure.Slideshow-316038
Fast Racing Neo
While a number of Nintendo franchises have made an appearance on its current-gen system, there’s still no sign of an F-Zero entry on the horizon. Those longing for a sci-fi racing fix might get just what they need in Shin’en’s upcoming Wii U exclusive: Fast Racing Neo. A follow-up to the dev’s 2011 WiiWare title, Fast Racing Neo aims to provide the kind of futuristic, sci-fi antics that fans of F-Zero and Wipeout can appreciate.
Players can race their rocket sleds in a variety of sci-fi settings — from futuristic cityscapes to space stations. Shin’en Art Director Martin Sauter walked me through the game as we watched a pair of attendees try out the newly announced split-screen mode. “We really tried to make it like a Hollywood movie — really exciting,” he said just as a massive, robotic worm arced over the racetrack. The game will feature 16 tracks split into four cup events, and supports single-player, up to four-way splits-screen and eight-player online.
A solid frame rate is a major component of any racing game and the developer is working hard to maintain 60 fps even during two-player split-screen — while Sauter expects four-player mode to hit “30 for sure.” The split-screen mode looked impressive in person and Sauter added that optimization is still ongoing. “At E3, I couldn’t even say 60 frames,” he said.
And while the Wii U might be capable of better graphics than some give it credit for, Sauter also touted his team’s experience with its in-house engine. “The Wii U has some power. … But you can’t just plug in Unity [a cross-platform game engine] and have everything run great,” he said. “We have our own engine and we’ve been developing it for 20 years.”
Of course, being a sci-fi racer set in the future, even Fast Racing Neo‘s rocket sleds can’t evade comparisons to genre classics like F-Zero and Wipeout. Sauter said the dev is, unsurprisingly, a big fan of those games and thought of those titles when considering what to bring to the Wii U’s eShop. “We don’t mind people seeing F-Zero,” he added, “[but] we want it to stand on its own feet.” Fast Racing Neo is expected to ship later this year.
Elsewhere on the show floor, developer Yacht Club Games showed off the Plague of Shadows DLC for its popular side-scroller, Shovel Knight. But some of the biggest applause came during the official unveiling of a Shovel Knight Amiibo figure. Several attendees queued up to get a good look at the blue-hued protagonist (housed safely in a display case). Yacht Club says the figure can be used to unlock cooperative multiplayer modes on the Wii U and other challenges and customization options on both the Wii U and 3DS.
Kerbal Space Program
One of the most pleasant surprises was a game that wasn’t even on the show floor: Kerbal Space Program. Console ports for the popular spaceflight simulator have already been announced for the PS4 and Xbox One, but developer Squad took to the stage during a Q&A session to announce a Wii U version would be on its way as well.
Producer Miguel Piña said the dev is currently working on some Wii U-specific features that take advantage of the console’s unique GamePad, like mapping and planning on the controller’s screen rather than constantly flipping back and forth between menus on the TV. One option could let players view the interiors of their spaceships on the GamePad’s built-in screen – acting like a window of sorts as you move the controller around in all directions. Piña described using the GamePad to look at specific panels and reaching out to toggle controls. Controlling the ship this way opens up a whole new experience, he added, since players could look out through the windows of their ship and watch as the environment zooms by. Of course, the interior view could also ramp up the intensity whenever players make sudden, unexpected landings (read: crashes). The game doesn’t get gory, Piña said, but you do get a nice explosion. “It’s really fun [to control],” he said, “and also really scary when you crash.”
While I couldn’t pry a launch date out of him, Piña did say we can expect the Wii U version of Kerbal Space Program to lift off at the same time as the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
Overall, the devs and fans I spoke with at the event enjoyed the chance to interact directly with each other — something indie developers don’t always get a chance to do. When Squad started work on Kerbal Space Program in Mexico City, for example, Piña said the dev had no expectations when it came to widespread international success. “It’s so weird for us [meeting fans from across the globe in person], but it’s the best thing in the world,” he said, adding that when Squad first released the game, “we said, ‘Here’s our game; does anyone care?’”
Judging from the hundreds of fans on the show floor checking out indie games and the variety and creativity these titles can exhibit, it turns out yes; gamers care.
Images: Shin’en (Fast Racing Neo)
Tags: 3DS, F-Zero, Fast Racing Neo, hdpostcross, Indie, indie-games, kerbal-space-program, nintendo, PAX, PAX-2015, pax-prime, shovel-knight, Wii U, Wipeout
XCOM 2 was supposed to launch in November, but apparently planet-wide alien invasions are tricky to schedule. Firaxis has pushed XCOM 2‘s release date back to February 5, 2016, noting that the game isn’t up to the studio’s standards quite yet.
“We’ve set a high bar for the sequel and the entire team has been working hard to make sure we deliver a great follow-up to Enemy Unknown,” a short blog post reads. “We just need a little more time to make it the best possible game.”
Firaxis wants XCOM 2 to have “more depth, more replayability and more investment in your soldiers,” the post continues. XCOM 2 is a sequel to 2012’s widely acclaimed strategy game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and it’s a continuation of the strategy franchise that began in 1993. In XCOM 2, Earth is overrun by hostile alien forces and players are part of a guerrilla resistance squad attempting to take back the planet. There’s still no word on a console or mobile launch for the new game.
Delays are a common sight in the video game universe, and just this week we asked one developer why his game was pushed back two whole years after receiving a ton of early attention. The short answer? “It’s complicated.”
Tags: Delay, firaxis, Firaxis-Games, hdpostcross, TakeTwo, XCom, XCOM2
Kickstarter backers of Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 are feeling a little burned. When its Spring release came due, Comcept pushed the release back to fall; when that September launch came on the horizon, the game was delayed until 2016. “We feel bad,” producer Nick Yu told us earlier this month. “Really, really bad.” The company knows its messed up, and agrees that backers deserve something for their patience. So they’re getting something — on September 15th, the game’s second launch date, Kickstarter backers will get access to an exclusive demo of the Mighty No. 9’s single player campaign.
The backer-exclusive trial version will include four playable, complete stages from the final version of the game — with all of the story-mode cutscenes intact — six challenge mode stages and the option to enable an 8-bit soundtrack mode in the options menu. Players will also be able to pick from the game’s full set of language options, including Japanese and English voice overs and subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Italian.
Finally, Comcept will be handing out Steam codes for Mighty Gunvolt, an 8-bit Inafune-style platformer starring characters from Mighty No. 9, Gal Gun and Azure Striker Gunvolt, to all Kickstarter backers on September 29th. It’s not the full game backers may have been hoping for, but at least it’s something. Does it quell your frustration? Let us know in the comments below and sit tight: Comcept says codes will land in backers’ inboxes next month.
Tags: comcept, delay, gaming, inafune, KeijiInafune, kickstarter, megaman, mightyno.9, mightyno9, videogames
Lionsgate and two long-time Marvel producers are working on a Borderlands movie and, no, it’s not called Mad Max. Lionsgate is the production company behind Twilight, The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, Warm Bodies and tons of other mainstream flicks, while producers Ari and Avi Arad have worked on the Iron Man, X-Men, Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man franchises. Borderlands is a massively popular sci-fi action series that debuted in 2009 under the direction of Gearbox Software and Take-Two Interactive. It takes place on Pandora, an abandoned mining planet, and the games involve crass humor, alien beasts, a class-based RPG system a ridiculous number of guns (16 million, in fact).
In May 2014, Lionsgate hired former Nerdist Industries CEO Peter Levin as president of interactive ventures and games, and he’s one reason the Borderlands deal was greenlit, Lionsgate Co-Chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger say in a statement obtained by Vanity Fair. They also offer a hint as to the direction of the Borderlands film:
“The Borderlands games don’t pull any punches, and we’ll make the movie with the same in-your-face attitude that has made the series a blockbuster mega-franchise.”
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick echoes the in-your-face vibes fueling this movie, calling it “a bold, provocative, no-holds-barred motion picture phenomenon.” There’s no word on a release window for the Borderlands film.
Lionsgate is also working on an interactive TV series based on Telltale’s The Walking Dead franchise. Of course, there already is a TV show called The Walking Dead, plus a prequel show called Fear the Walking Dead, and both are rooted in the same source material as Telltale’s games, but there’s always room for improvement.
— Borderlands (@Borderlands) August 28, 2015
Tags: borderlands, film, hdpostcross, lionsgate+films, movie, movies
We’ve already been introduced to the world of Lawbreakers, the next shooter from the Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski, but now we’ve got our first look at some actual gameplay. And while the science behind the game’s setting may be suspect (it’s a fantastical take on Earth after we’ve blown up the moon), the game’s mechanics seem solid. It’s a class-based multiplayer shooter, similar to Titanfall and Team Fortress, that will also be free-to-play on a variety of platforms (we still don’t have specifics). The trailer introduces some of those classes (and their respective characters): there’s the swift Assassin Kitsune, who can double-jump; Breacher, a gunner who has the unique ability to shoot behind him; and a jetpack-wielding Skirmisher named Maverick. One character, a Titan named Cronos, can also rocket-jump, bringing back fond memories of Bleszinski’s work on Unreal Tournament. Judging from this trailer, Lawbreakers looks like plenty of other shooters, but its unique take on character classes and Bleszinski’s pedigree make it one to keep an eye on.
Tags: Bosskey, CliffBleszinski, F2P, FPS, Lawbreakers
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was a hit in 2013 when it was just a multiplayer, neon-streaked demo mixed in with all of the nominated, blockbuster indie titles at the Independent Games Festival. Lovers was up for an award in Visual Art, and even though it lost to Kentucky Route Zero, the nomination was enough to create buzz around the game and its studio, Asteroid Base. At the time, co-creator Jamie Tucker felt confident that Lovers would be done within the year. Now, two years later, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is set to debut on Xbox One and Steam on September 9th. Yes, in 2015. We asked Tucker via email what happened with Lovers‘ development timeline and he broke it all down — including details that offer a glimpse at the real rigors and lucky breaks of game development.
When we spoke at GDC 2013, Lovers was on track to launch that same year. What happened?
Haha, I wouldn’t say we were “on track” so much as I would say we were being extremely optimistic and naive. The “what happened” is we learned what was really involved in developing and shipping a game.
Funny story: Back in the fall of 2012, we were showing off the game and an early “first look” trailer to some local devs in order to get some feedback. Craig Adams (Superbrothers) told us that whatever we did, we should never suggest a date unless we could actually hit it. In our infinite wisdom, we figured that 2013 was a whole year away and that would give us enough time to finish the game. So with Craig’s advice unheeded, we applied to the IGF with our three-month-old prototype and started telling everyone the game was only a year away.
“We only were able to work part-time on the game, since we were funding it ourselves with contract work.”
— Jamie Tucker, Asteroid Base
From talking with other devs, one thing you hear a lot is that the initial phase of a project is really rapid and fun — you go from zero to something really quick, and you’re adding new features every day. Progress feels really fast. But that doesn’t last and the middle chunk of a project can be a slog as everything gets more complex, and you need to rework and iterate on everything at the same time as you’re struggling to make a larger game. Back when we were thinking of a 2013 launch, we had only experienced that initial rush. But then it came to things like just churning through all the levels we wanted to make, writing pet AI for single-player mode and tying everything together in the UI.
Well, 2013 came and went and we found ourselves losing momentum. At that time, we only were able to work part-time on the game since we were funding it ourselves with contract work, and it was getting harder and harder to make progress because we were always playing catch-up. At the end of 2013, out of nowhere John Baez from [Castle Crashers studio] The Behemoth approached us about their Gold Egg Project, which turned out to be the perfect way for us to fund the game and switch over to full-time development.
How did early attention from the IGF impact Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime‘s development?
The IGF was one of those moments in the development of this game where, had it not occurred, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. Until then, it was completely just a hobby project for us, but the IGF showed us that we weren’t the only people who cared about this silly idea for a game; there were real live strangers out in the world who were interested in it. And this was despite the fact that we were showing a very early version — all you could do was fly in a straight line from planet to planet while enemies spawned at an ever-increasing rate. There were no real objectives, no progression, no enemy variety, no single-player mode, no different ships, no levels, no terrain and only a rudimentary upgrade system… and yet still people were responding to it. It was a neat thing.
After the IGF, we all felt a real commitment that we had to see this game through, and try to make it as good as it could possibly be.
How did you settle on working with Microsoft, rather than Sony (so far)?
We first met with [ID@Xbox Program Director] Chris Charla during GDC 2013 and he was really excited about the game. But it was still too early in development, so we never really pursued it. As we developed the game more, we kept in touch with them though (along with other platforms), and when Microsoft launched the ID@Xbox program, it ended up being the perfect time for us to start solidifying our console plans. We submitted an application to ID@Xbox on the first day it opened up, and the gears started turning. It ended up taking lots of paperwork and phone calls and emails, but they made it about as painless as lots of paperwork and phone calls and emails can be.
If you could travel back to GDC 2013, what advice would you give yourselves as developers?
SERIOUSLY, DON’T PUT A DATE ON YOUR FIRST TRAILER!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Images: Asteroid Base
Tags: asteroidbase, development, GameDevelopment, GDC, hdpostcross, igf, Indie, interview, loversinadangerousspacetime
Hasbro is hoping you’d be willing to share your best party game idea ever(!) with the company and has launched a search for the “Next Great Game.” The mechanics are simple: just go to the project website and submit an entry — along the same lines as Monopoly, some variants of Trivial Pursuit and Funny or Die — until September 30th, 2015. After that, sit back, cross your fingers and hope that you’re among the five finalists announced on October 30th. Now, here’s the twist: you’re not getting any prize money even if you end up as one of the five. Instead, you’ll be invited to launch an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for your concept.
While you can very well do that on your own, Hasbro promises to use its web presence to promote your project. Both the toy company and Indiegogo will also work with you to build the crowdfunding campaign page. The fundraising phase will end on December 1st, 2015, after which a team of Hasbro game developers will scrutinize every finalist and announce one grand winner later that month. If you get the top prize, that’s when the company will part with $10,000 to go straight to your pocket. More importantly, it will fly you to Rhode Island between December 5th, 2015 and January 31st, 2016 to make your idea a reality.
This isn’t Hasbro’s first attempt at getting the public involved with its game development — just earlier this year, it asked people for help in deciding on a new Monopoly board design and adding a new word to Scrabble’s dictionary. If you’re wondering, the contest website’s ToS says “you retain ownership of all intellectual property rights in the Submission… including any associated copyrights, trademarks and/or patents.” It’s still best to read the whole thing, though, just to make sure you’re down with how Hasbro plans to treat your winning game.
Tags: crowdfunding, hasbro, indiegogo, nextgreatgame, partygame
The Xbox One is a large console, but it seems Microsoft is in no rush to unveil a slimmer model. The company was rumored to be launching an “Xbox One Mini” in October, but Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox, has shot down the idea on Twitter. His “not real” statement is pretty definitive, although of course, that doesn’t mean Microsoft isn’t planning a redesign for a later date. Although the Xbox One’s sales are behind the PlayStation 4, it has a slew of exclusives coming out this fall including Halo 5: Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6 and Rise of the Tomb Raider (okay, that last one is actually a timed exclusive). If Microsoft is working on a “Mini” model, it’s more likely to appear at somewhere like E3 next year.
@av_xz Not real.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 27, 2015
[Image Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
Phil Spencer (Twitter)
Tags: microsoft, philspencer, xboxone, xboxonemini