Train2Game News: Mid-week round up – 10.5.12

The OnLive console is not dead according to CEO Charles Jablonski and UK general manager Bruce Grove. The new plan is all about forming partnerships to provide OnLive’s service, instead of relying on PCs and its own console.

The Volus race has come to Mass Effect 3 multiplayer with the new DLC, The Retaliation Pack. The comic relief character has been put in to the online game play to show the ever expanding war according to BioWare’s Chris Schanche. The new pack also sees the return of The Collectors to battle against.

Earlier this week it was announced that Windows 8 will primarily use real world currency over Microsoft points. This had the games world speculating that the Xbox Live Arcade was going to start phasing out MS points. Microsoft have announced this is not the case. XBLA will still use the previous points system.

Rovio and LucasArts have teamed up in an interesting combination to create Angry Birds Star Wars. The game will see the birds dressed as the main Star Wars protagonists and the pigs are going to be dressed as Storm Troopers and Darth Vader. The levels will be famous Star Wars locations such as Hoth and Tattooine. The game is being released November 8 for iOS.

IGN have brought their application to Xbox in the UK. The app is already available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the USA. The app offers content, shows and access to its pro-gaming league.

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook has now surpassed one billion users. Since Facebook’s formation in 2004, it has seen more than 140 billion friend connections made, 219 billion photos uploaded, and 1.13 trillion likes. Facebook’s director of developer products said around a quarter of its active user base, about 230 million people, play games on the site in a month. He also noted that Facebook has more than 130 apps.

A one-man company, Cryptic Sea, has created a game called A New Zero. The game has no animation and only uses physics for any movement in the first person shooter. In addition, visuals are also procedurally generated, chopping Zero’s total size below a single megabyte. You can download the game from Cryptic Sea’s website.

Train2Game students on top of the world

THEY trained, they gamed and they conquered the world!

More than 295 students stayed awake for 48 hours over the weekend in a bid to create video games from scratch with a pledge from one of the world’s biggest software company, Microsoft, to publish them.

Microsoft has teamed up with the UK’s leading distance-learning college in an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Records with the biggest Games Jam held at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton.

Dr Jan Telensky, majority owner of Train2Game, said: “It’s a gruelling 48 hours for the students, most of them stay awake but if they need to sleep they catch a nap at their desks or even under them.

“But the dedication and determination they show at creating brand new and exciting games from nothing is impressive – they work as teams under tremendous pressure often with team-mates they’ve never met before. For a student it is an incredible experience they have and it stands them in good stead for getting jobs in the industry in the future.”

Microsoft came up with the theme for the Games – Pride of London after the success of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics in the UK.

The teams had a field-day creating games using cartoons of Boris Johnson, London buses and all sorts of iconic images from the capital.

As the gamers worked through the night local MPs Gavin Shuker and Kelvin Hopkins paid a visit.

Mr Hopkins said: “Going for a world record attempt in Luton, particularly when it is to do with the burgeoning games industry, it will really help to put the area on the map.”

Mr Shuker agreed with him saying that “Train2Game was making a major contribution in the battle to get Britain back to work.”

And work was the name of the game as the students huddled in classrooms and labs at the university to create their games which ultimately could be released as apps world-wide by Microsoft.

Craig Moore, aged 30, from Milton Keynes, a member of team 32, said: “This was a massive learning curve but we hit the floor running. It’s been a fantastic experience.”

Chris Ledger, in his mid-twenties, from Cheltenham, said: “I was getting texts from my family and girlfriend – and my mates – in the middle of the night, it was great to have their support. I’m a wreck now but it was all worth it.”

Microsoft representatives at the ‘jam’ were impressed by the dedication shown by the gamers. Scott Henson, Senior director of Microsoft studios said “These students are going to be the heart beat of the industry in a few years. Events like this are incredibly helpful for young developers to flex their creative muscles.”

Train2Game news: Star Wars: The Old Republic gains 1.7 million subscribers in first month

Star Wars The Old Republic Train2Game blog imageTrain2Game Blog readers will have seen plenty of recent posts about MMO’s going free-to-play, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for subscription based titles.

The Evidence? BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic has gained 1.7 million paying subscribers in the little over a month since the game launched.

The figures were revealed during an EA investors meeting, with other data including Star Wars: The Old Republic sees over one million unique log ins per day, with the average play session around the four hour mark.

“This great launch makes Star Wars: The Old Republic the fastest growing subscription MMO in history” EA CEO John Riccitiello is quoted by Develop in telling investors.

“We’re incredibly pleased to see this great game from BioWare off to a very strong start,” he added.

The Train2Game Blog spoke with BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka & Dr. Greg Zeschuk about the history of their studio  and how to get into the games industry towards the end of last year.

We also spoke in-depth to Star Wars: The Old Republic Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi during our trip to Gamescom last August. Train2Game students can find out the design process behind the MMO in this huge Train2Game Blog interview.

Keep reading The Train2Game Blog for the latest news on Star Wars: The Old Republic and BioWare.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the initial success of SWTOR? Are you a paying subscriber? Will the success last?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Develop/Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: Free-to-play can “give your consumers a better experience”

Train2Game students will have noticed the increasing trend for developers to use a free-to-play model in games.

Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online are among a number of previously subscription based titles that have made a leap to free-to-play.

And in his latest column for Gamasutra, games industry analyst Nicholas Lovell argues that this free-to-play model is better both for both consumers and developers.

“By enabling free-to-play games that allow people to play cool games for free, forever and choose – flexibly, with no commitment – to spend a little money or a lot of money on things that they value in the game, I believe that you give your consumers a better experience and make more money than you would with subscriptions.” said Lovell, who has previously spoken to The Train2Game Blog about industry trends including the free-to-play model.

He also did a video interview with Train2Game at The Eurogamer Expo, which can be seen here.

Lovell added that the rise of free-to-play means Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the last big subscription based MMO.

“I think that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the last, massive, subscription MMO because new models have been proven to be better business, especially for games with a niche audience.” he said.

Last week, the Train2Game Blog reported that Ubisoft believe their upcoming free-to-play title Ghost Recon online will be AAA quality.

For the latest news about industry trends, including free-to-play, keep reading The Train2Game Blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts? Is free-to-play better for both game developers and consumers? Is it a model you’d use?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: Bioware would test more if they made Star Wars: The Old Republic again

Train2Game students will be aware that Bioware launched their long awaited MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic last month, after many years in development.

Now, in an interview with TORWars, Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk has revealed that if given the chance, Bioware would do it all again, but in hindsight, there are things they’d do slightly different during development, including much more testing.

“I think we would definitely do it over again given the opportunity, or a time machine.” said Zeschuk, who along with fellow Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka spoke to The Train2Game Blog about the studio last November.

“I think we can see a lot of things we could have done differently given the benefit of retrospective vision, but I also don’t think we would have changed many decisions. It would more have been a process of refinement and fine tuning to our plans.”

Train2Game Blog readers might recall that Bioware put massive importance on testing Star Wars: The Old Republic, but Zeschuk believes they should’ve done even more of it in order to help develop the game.

“Certainly testing even more than we did, and doing so earlier would have been a good goal.” he said.

“ I also think in retrospect we would have been able to weight some of our technical decisions differently given that we ultimately knew what worked after the fact and what needed a lot of work; there was no way of knowing that in advance, but in retrospect that would have helped quite a bit.” Zeschuk concluded.

Of course, Train2Game offers a course in games QA testing, which you can find out more about here.

For more about the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic, read our interview with Bioware Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi right here on The Train2Game Blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Zeschuks comments?  What do they say about the importance of testing throughout game development?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: TORWars via VG247]

Train2Game news: Bioware gets new specialist social studio

Mass Effect 3 will have Kinect supportTrain2Game students will of course know Bioware as developers of the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises, as well as the upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. Now the Bioware group also has a specialised social games studio thanks to EA’s acquisition of casual developer KlickNation.

KlickNation has been renamed Bioware social and will specialise in developing RPGs for social networks such as Facebook.

“KlickNation’s expertise in building innovative and compelling RPGs for social platforms makes them a seamless tuck-in with the BioWare team at EA,” Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka, who along with fellow co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk, recently spoke to the Train2Game blog.

“We share the same creative values. The new BioWare Social unit will bring BioWare and EA franchises to the growing audience of core gamers who are looking for high quality, rich gameplay experiences on social platforms.” Muzyka added.

KickNation has developed social games since 2009, with releases including SuperHero City and Six Gun Galaxy.

“While developing social RPG experiences, we held BioWare as a role model for storytelling and game design,” said Mark Otero GM of the new Bioware Social label.

“Joining with BioWare and EA is an opportunity to realize our vision for bringing high-quality RPG titles to the fast-growing, highly-engaged core gamers looking for deeper experiences on social platforms.”

The Train2Game blog previously reported that Bioware were exploring the ‘experimental’ mobile market.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on EA and Bioware’s continued moves into mobile gaming? Are you excited by the prospect of a Bioware RPG on Facebook?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.


Train2Game news: Get involved with Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta Test

Train2Game students can get their hands on a Star Wars: The Old Republic beta thanks to EA providing tens of thousands of beta codes to various outlets of the UK gaming press.

The Star Wars: The Old Republic beta keys, give Train2Game students the opportunity to take part in an upcoming beta weekend where EA and Bioware plan to stress test their servers ahead of the MMO’s December release.

While the Train2Game blog doesn’t have any Star Wars: The Old Republic beta keys to give away itseld, you can pick of thousands up from UK outlets including CVG, NowGamer, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Just choose one of the links, then follow the instructions to receive your key for the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta weekend. The exact time for the STWOR beta will be revealed by email at a later date.

As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Bioware have spoken about the importance of playtesting to game development.  Meanwhile, for an in-depth look at the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic, check out the Train2Game blog interview with Associate Lead Game Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi

Train2Game blog readers will be aware that beta tests are an important part of video game development as thousands of beta testers can find issues that may slip past a handful of QA Testers.

And in an interview with the Train2Game blog, End of Nations Senior QA Tester Karl Tars said that getting involved with lots of beta tests for one studio is potentially a way to get into the games industry.

So what are you waiting for Train2Game? Sign up for the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta now.

Have you been involved with beta tests before? Will you get involved with this one?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum

Train2Game & Epic Game Jam tips from Train2Game student Fee Stewart

Train2Game students are gearing up for the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam which begins tomorrow. Train2Game student Fee Stewart, who’s previously told the Train2Game blog about her experience with game jams, has posted some tips for those new to Game Jamming on the Train2Game forum. She’s kindly allowed the Train2Game blog to repost her advice in full. (You can find out more about Fee in her interview with the Train2Game blog)

1.Take with you wash stuff (no one likes BO!) a pillow if you can, a light weight fleece cover, one change of clothes or two and some money for food ( which is cheap at the uni)… Optional…some monster or Relentless or a drink of some sorts .. you seriously do not need any more then this! You have no access to showers unless you book a hotel that you really won’t have time to go to, so it is a bit of a waste of money.

2. When you find out what the theme is or what you are meant to produce spend a good few hours brainstorming with your team. Don’t rush into your 1st idea as it is quite often the 3rd or 4th idea that makes the most sense.

3. Allocate a team leader! This person is GOD! If they say go get some sleep GO! This is a team event and there are certain crucial points in the 48hours that you need to have your game at a certain stage of development if you hope to have at least 3 working levels (which is what you should be aiming for) by the end of the 48hrs. It is therefore imperative that people have some sleep in shifts and not leave it till 40 hours into the dev before you go regardless of how you feel at the time go get some sleep so you are there for when your team needs you! Do expect to only get 2 to 4hrs per 24hrs.

4. Set out what you are doing and stick to it as much as possible but do NOT be over ambitious if you have time to add extras at the end then do it but leave things like splash screens, credits, music even till AFTER you have 3 working levels. The MOST important thing is for your team to have a working game!

5. Have team breakfasts! This is important!!…. Take an hour out to ALL go get some food and a walk away from the labs for a while.

6. Allocate a good speaker in your team! This person should be responsible for talking to the judges and getting over as much information about your game in the short time you have… have team member two playing the game at the time so the speaker can explain and the judges can also see the game and offer for them to play it if they want to.

7. There should be a lead artist and programmer! This person makes sure everything is to style, allocates who does what in the art team/program team and talks to the other leads. Remember this is not an I AM event this is a team event there is no room for egos. You pick the best person for each role and you work as a team to produce some amazing stuff!

8. Have fun! Remember this is an incredible learning experience 48 hours does go VERY fast! Remember why you are there and try not to fall out with your team members.Sleep deprivation can do some weird things again why it is good to have a team leader who makes sure everyone gets some sleep at appropriate times.

9. Remember you will have been up probably over 50 hours with only a few hours sleep in that time. PLEASE do NOT drive home after the event.. book a cheap hotel or go home via public transport or something.

And finally GOOD LUCK! I am really going to miss you all this time!

For more information about the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam, see the official website.  And remember, the will appear at the Gadget Show Live 2012 as part of ‘Make Something Unreal Live’

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.



Train2Game interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars – Part 2

End of Nations is an upcoming MMORTS from Petroglyph Games and Trion Worlds. The game was on display at the Eurogamer Expo, and the Train2Game blog caught up with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars to find out more about the game, QA Testingand how to get into the industry.

In the second part of an in-depth three part interview, Karl Tars tells the Train2Game blog about the team behind End of Nations, the importance of beta testing during game development and how it can be useful for those with aspirations to work in the games industry. Read the interview below, or on the Train2Game Scribd page.

Part 1 is available to read here on the Train2Game blog.

Tell us about the team behind End of Nations

The way it works is Petroglyph Games are the developer, that’s a studio founded by a bunch of former developers from Westwood Studios, the guys who did Dune and Command & Conquer. So veterans’ of those games are designing and developing the game. Trion Worlds is publishing, we’re giving them the servers and a lot of the back end infrastructure that makes the game work. That’s the studio that’s behind it.

When is End of Nations scheduled for release, will there be a beta?

We have a beta coming up, so if you go to you can sign up for the beta right now. If you have an existing Rift account, that account will work for End of Nations as well. We’ll have more information in the next few months as we don’t have a confirmed time for that for the release, but it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to playing it on my own!

How important is the beta for the game development process?

Betas are really critical in terms of making sure the live servers can handle the real loads that players will put on our servers. We can test some of that in our labs but we certainly don’t have the manpower to try having 100,000 people connecting at once and with every single weird configuration of computer that’s out there. We don’t have the resources regularly do that.

Also, as clever as we are in QA, we’re not as good as every single player out there. We’re not going to be able to figure out all the interesting ways of using abilities that just break the game and make it un-fun for the other team. And so it’s also really important to have people go out there and try random things and finding ways of exploiting it so that we can tone those down or make them work within the system so it doesn’t feel unbalanced.

Is getting involved with beta testing a good way of getting a job in QA?

It can be. It used to be that was one of the primary ways of getting in in older days. However, more recently betas have become almost a marketing type of thing where the majority of people playing in a beta, they don’t really want to test, they just want to play the game early and see as they like it more like a demo than a testing environment.

However, if you can find a lot of good bugs and you can report them to the team in a good way, you can develop a fairly good rapport with some of the developers and that can get you in.  And if nothing else it gives you a chance to see these incomplete builds where it’s more likely to have bugs in it and so you can learn how to deal with that type of thing.

It’s definitely a way of getting in, but I wouldn’t say it’s a good way of doing it these days, but it’s definitely a good way to practice, get started and if you apply to the same company that you did a beta for, you can say ‘hey, I found this bug and these are the steps for it.’ That’s going to really impress the QA leads who are reviewing it and saying ‘This guy knows exactly how to write a bug report, he knows our game, he knows how to look for a bug and report it.’ That’s really what’s going to get you in.

Part 3 of our interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars will be available soon. End of Nations is scheduled for release next year.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum. Part 3 of the Train2Game interview with End of Nations Senior QA Tester Karl Tars is here.

Train2Game news: There will always be subscription based MMOs say Star Wars: The Old Republic devs Bioware

Train2Game students may be aware that many MMO titles are switching to a free-to-play model, one wherein revenue is made by microtransactions rather than monthly subscription fees.

However, while many games in the genre are going free-to-play, the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic – scheduled for release in December – is going to stick to the traditional pay monthly model.

And while many developers are switching to free-to-play, SWTOR developers Bioware believe that gamers will always be willing to pay a subscription fee for a quality product.

“I think there will always be a place for premium content at a premium price and that’s one of the differences,” Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk told Industry Gamers.

“Free to play is very much about trial, about ‘Hey, I don’t know what this is, I don’t have confidence that it’s any good, but I’m willing to take a look at it,’ versus ‘I know this is good, from a trusted source, and it’s the biggest license in the world.’ So it’s a different value proposition,” he said.

Fellow Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka believes that increased competition from free-to-play titles is good for the games industry.

“There’s more competition for entertainment dollars now than ever before from social and play for free, and all sorts of entertainment, which I think is actually really healthy from an entertainment industry perspective”

However, he agrees with Zeschuk in that the subscription model will remain popular, but the games have to be worth it.

“But I agree with Greg that there’s a space for a certain number of premium products that are subscription based or whatever the premium pricing model is. But they have to merit it, they have to earn that from a consumer trust perspective and delivering and exceeding expectations.” said Muzyka.

Of course, he believes that Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of these games.

“I think The Old Republic is definitely in that triple-A premium category. That’s the feedback reading from the players and data testing.”

Earlier this week, the Train2Game blog reported on the importance of playtesting in the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

For an in-depth look at the development of SWTOR, read the Train2Game interview with Associate Lead Game Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi

So Train2Game, do you believe the subscription model for MMO still has a future ahead of it? Or will free-to-play titles become the dominant force?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Industry Gamers]