Train2Game News: Have you won a free Xbox One?

Xbox OneYou may have won a free Xbox One from Microsoft if you have been a loyal Xbox Live customer. Start checking your emails!

Some users have also been gifted the fully unlocked version of launch title, Killer Instinct. The email states that the recipient will get a version of the game with all characters unlocked from the off. Further instructions will follow on the 22nd, the day of Xbox One’s launch.

This offer has been confirmed as legitimate by Microsoft through their official Xbox twitter account.

Gamers with and without the email have been comparing Xbox Live stats to try and determine Microsoft’s methods for choosing recipients. Some have the Xbox One Pre-order Achievement – but others don’t. Some have been beta testers – others have not. Some have nearly a decade of Xbox Live under their belt – others don’t and some have over 75,000 gamer score – others have around 15,000.

“We don’t have any specifics on that other than that some users have received a gift,” a representative wrote. “We considered a variety of things like Gamerscore, Live tenure and other factors in markets where Xbox One is available.”

Train2Game News: Games Industry News – 30.08.13

unity-logoIt’s the end of the week so it’s time for the games industry news round up.

Unity Technologies unveiled new 2D tools and workflow for the Unity engine and editor to meet increased demand for features designed to address the specific challenges of creating 2D games. Now in beta, the first iteration of the 2D tools, many of which are included in the free version of Unity, will be released with the Unity 4.3 update this fall. The charge to improve workflow begins with the introduction of a dedicated scene view, which includes specialized 2D scene manipulation tools. Scene view can be toggled between the traditional view or set as the default when creating a project. Importing, manipulating, and working with 2D assets are made easier with the addition of a new sprite texture importer type, automated atlasing, and dedicated 2D renderer component. Adding 2D art to a scene is as easy as dragging a sprite from the asset library into the scene where Unity will then automatically create an object. If you are a fan of 2D games and work with Unity you now have no excuses to get a game out there!

Wizards of the Coast announced that the Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers Expansion will release on September 18, 2013. Adding depth to the latest installment of the wildly popular Duels of the Planeswalkers franchise, the Magic 2014 Expansion will give players the opportunity to explore new planes, fight new enemies and face new challenges. Just like the full game the expansion will be available on Xbox LIVE Arcade, PC via Steam, PlayStation Network, iPad, and Android via Google Play and the Amazon App Store. The new expansions includes; five new decks, new campaign levels, five new challenges and more persona portraits.

Activision Publishing, Inc., in association with Nickelodeon and developer Red Fly Studio, announced, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – a new, team-based, third-person action-brawler debuting on the Xbox Live online entertainment network from Microsoft for Xbox 360 as a part of the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade 2013, and on Windows PC via Steam. Starring Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows puts the focus on combat, characters, and co-op. Its swift and tactile fighting system affords players dynamic choices on the battlefield, rewarding successful combo flourishes, expert counterattacks, and brutal takedowns. The Turtles’ full range of personalities are on display throughout this original story in the TMNT universe, bringing humour and attitude to the unfolding narrative and influencing each character’s unique fighting style. The game will be released on September 25.

NEXON Europe had the pleasure to announce that global pop sensation, media personality and all-round gentleman, PSY, is appearing in the enormously successful online free-to-play games MapleStory and Combat Arms. PSY took the world by storm with his hit single Gangnam Style, inspiring everyone from news readers to the UN Secretary General to join in with his unique brand of K-pop humour. Over a billion YouTube views and global chart domination is not enough for the dance phenomenon however; starting this month and following another huge hit single, Gentleman, PSY will be bringing his outrageous personality to NEXON Europe’s most popular titles.

Steve Ballmer is to retire as Microsoft CEO within the next year, the company revealed, adding credence to the rumours of a management reshuffle which accompanied Don Mattrick’s departure earlier this year. Ballmer will oversee the choice of his successor before taking retirement and remain as CEO during that process. The Microsoft board has appointed a special committee chaired by lead independent director John Thompson and including chairman of the Board Bill Gates, chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo. Microsoft has said that it will be looking both internally and externally for candidates.

Train2Game News: Xbox Live using local currency

Xbox LiveThe latest Xbox 360 system update has retired Microsoft points and now all transactions on the platform will make use of local currency.

The change is effective in all regions, and brings Microsoft’s digital console platform into closer step with its direct rival by eliminating the virtual currency.

The hope for some developers is that without the need for an intermediary currency, users will be more likely to purchase digital games and goods through Xbox Live. While this is certainly a possibility, exchange rates are a new and potentially troublesome consideration for developers publishing games to multiple regions.

Users will receive the equivalent value of their Microsoft Points in local currency (80 points to the dollar) the next time they make a transaction.

Microsoft says the change hasn’t affected any other part of their online business, and has published some FAQ to help guide customers through the transition.

Train2Game News: More Xbox One Changes

Xbox OneAs has been common lately, Microsoft has changed some more of the policies on the Xbox One.

The Xbox One now will not need Kinect to function. The system still comes with the Kinect but it means that if anything happens to your Kinect sensor then it will not cripple your console. However some of the features such as face recognition and voice commands won’t work without it. There is also the ability to turn the Kinect sensor off in the settings of the console if you so desire.

It has also come to light that you will require an Xbox Live gold membership for some of the features on the Xbox One such asthe DVR and the Skype calling. Only Gold members will get access to the new OneGuide system, which curates TV and other entertainment based on viewing patterns. Existing functionality, such as Netflix support, web browsing, and other features familiar from the Xbox 360 will still demand Xbox Gold membership as well.

Finally the more recent update to come to light is Xbox One launch has been delayed until 2014 in eight countries. These include: Russia, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. Xbox One will launch first in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Austria in November 2013. Microsoft has said they will give a free game to those who are affected by the delay who have already pre ordered the console.

With just over three months to go before the console is released in most places, what other aspects could Microsoft change?

Train2Game News: Microsoft explains their new player reputation system

Xbox OneMicrosoft have announced plans for their overhaul of the reputation system on the Xbox One, in the hopes you play with like minded people.

The past systems Microsoft have used to let players known other peoples reputations have never walked all that well and have mostly been ignored but senior program manager of Microsoft’s new initiative, SmartMatch, Michael Dunn is working to change this.

SmartMatch will have three categories you will come into; Good Player, Needs Work and Avoid Me. They are going to be using a percentile system to place players into these categories and Michael Dunn said that: “You can imagine it like the ‘good players’ are like the 80 percent, the ‘needs work’ and the ‘avoid me’ are kind of the thin tail out from the rest of them.” The idea is to separate the Avoid Me group from the rest of the players.

Most people will automatically, “start with a score that’s in the 75 range, which is definitely a good player,” Dunn explained, and it will take quite a bit of work to get into the avoid me category. They also have a lot in place to help people who are getting grief complaints or complaints only from the same person, so it isn’t really possible to have a group of players or just one player give someone a low reputation.

However, people won’t just end up in avoid me or needs work without knowing. Unlike the Xbox 360 reputation system, with Xbox One Microsoft will be sending people warnings so that they may fix their problems before ending up in the deep end.

Dunn explains “The goal of the overhauled reputation system isn’t just to create some sort of stratified social hierarchy inside Xbox Live, but to improve the quality of matchmaking.”

Train2Game News: Microsoft allowing self publishing on Xbox One

Xbox OneMicrosoft have announced they will allow self publishing for indie titles on the Xbox One. This is excellent news for Train2Game students.

Microsoft have also announced that each console can be used as a development kit, much like the way that Apple devices can be used as such.

Here’s the official statement from Xbox corporate VP, Marc Whitten:

“Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox LIVE. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox LIVE. We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August.”

Whitten also told Kotaku that dev kit functionality will not be available at launch, but will be added ‘at a later date’.

This dispells all concerns of the accessibility and exposure of indie game on Xbox One, Whitten promises they will live on the Xbox Live Marketplace with the major titles.

Whitten explains “Of course there will be different pivots inside of that. There will be everything from what are we curating, kind of like spotlight content, to the normal discoverability stuff like recommendations, what’s trending, what’s got a lot of engagement on the platform. But you shouldn’t think of it as there’s an indie area and a non-indie area.”

With this announcement it opens up an entirely new indie market for Train2Game students and Student Studios with all the features of the Xbox One, allowing you to get creative with features such as Kinect and the Cloud.

Train2Game News: Xbox360 Ultimate Game Sale!

Xbox 360Train2Game students with an Xbox360 will be happy to hear that they have a great game sale this month!

On Xbox360 today you can pick up Borderlands 2, Assassin’s Creed 3, Far Cry 3 and Max Payne 3 for just £8.99 each which is incredible value for some of the last years biggest games. There’s a range of offers which last all week too including Bulletstorm, Crysis and the first Mass Effect.

Some of the games offered over the week are as follows:

  • Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway – £4.49
  • Far Cry Instincts: Predator – £4.49
  • Crysis – £4.49
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – £4.49
  • WWE 13 – £13.99
  • Mass Effect – £4.49
  • Prey – £2.69
  • Bulletstorm – £4.49
  • Dragon Age: Origins – £4.49
  • Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga – £14.99

This month will also see a new free game offered by Microsoft in there lead up to the launch of the Xbox One. If you are an Xbox Gold member, you can pick up XBLA tower defence game, Defence Grid: The Awakening for free instead of its normal 800msp price tag, saving yourself £6.80.

The game will be available until July 15 when a different game will be free to download.

Offers will change every day in the sale over the next week so make sure you keep checking back to see what is on offer, you could pick up that game you’ve been wanting for a low, low price.

Train2Game News: Xbox One revealed

Xbox OneThe big news from yesterday evening was that the next generation Xbox was revealed, the Xbox One. Train2Game has written up a round up of the features on the new system.

The console is shaped in the 16:9 aspect ratio and employs a horizontal orientation optimized for its high-speed Blu-ray disc player. It is moulded in a deep and rich liquid black colour and includes a distinctive bevelled edge.

The completely redesigned, revolutionary 1080p Kinect is more precise, more responsive and more intuitive. Its unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology let you reach into games and entertainment like never before by dramatically expanding its field of view and fidelity. It works in nearly any lighting condition, recognizes precise motion control from a slight wrist rotation, and distinguishes your voice even in a noisy room using advanced noise isolation.

The Xbox controller is refreshed with more than 40 technical and design innovations. Updated directional pad, thumb stick and ergonomic fit immerse all gamers in ways that are uniquely Xbox, and precision and control have been dramatically increased with all new vibrating impulse triggers. The Xbox One Wireless Controller is designed to work in concert with the new Kinect, allowing the two to be paired automatically to create seamless player syncing.

With Xbox One, games push the boundaries of realism and your TV obeys your commands. Say “Xbox On” to launch your personalized Xbox One Home screen, discover what is popular on TV or see friends’ latest gaming achievements all using the most natural interface — your voice. The more you interact with Xbox One, the more it gets to know you and learns what you like. Some of the breakthrough Xbox One features that put you at the centre of your living room entertainment include the following:

TV on Xbox One Navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your Xbox One. Microsoft is committed to bringing live TV through various solutions to all the markets where Xbox One will be available

Home Turn on your entertainment system with two powerful words, “Xbox On,” and a custom-tailored Home dashboard welcomes you with your favorite games, TV and entertainment.

Snap Do two things at once on the biggest screen in your home. Use Snap to jump into a multiplayer battle while watching your favourite movie, talk with friends on Skype while watching live TV, or track your fantasy team on TV as you watch the big game and more.

Skype for Xbox One Specially designed for Xbox One, talk with friends on your TV in stunning HD, or for the first time ever, hold group Skype calls on your TV.

Trending Stay on top of what is hot on TV by discovering the entertainment that is popular among your friends, and see what is trending within the Xbox community.

OneGuide Find your favorite entertainment easily, searching by network, name or time, all with the sound of your voice and presented in a tailored program guide.

To create the most advanced Xbox system ever designed for games, TV and entertainment, Microsoft created a state-of-the-art gaming operating system and fused it with an equally amazing entertainment platform, so you will not have to switch inputs to watch TV or play a game. An eight-core, x86 processor and more than 5 billion transistors helps make lag and load times a thing of the past, so you can instantly jump between a game and your entertainment at lightning speed or run a host of apps right alongside your game with no loss in performance.

Xbox One is built to amplify an all-new generation of Xbox Live that is more powerful, more personal and more intelligent. Unleashing the virtually unlimited power of the cloud makes everything more convenient and accessible, from allowing games to be installed in segments so that gameplay can start quickly to updates downloading in the background. Save and store your personalized profile, games and entertainment in the cloud to access them anytime, from any Xbox One console.4 In addition, existing Xbox Live Gold Membership for Xbox 360 will seamlessly carry over to Xbox One.

Xbox Live takes you deeper into the games you love with all-new features:

Smart Match A new Smart Match matchmaking system virtually eliminates waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding people you want to play with while you are enjoying other activities — reputation fundamentally matters and helps find best matches.

Game DVR A dedicated Game DVR captures and accesses your magic moments, all saved to the cloud. Along with sharing tools, you will have the most amazing bragging rights with Xbox Live.

Living Games Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and advanced artificial intelligence can learn to play like you, so friends can play against your shadow.

Expanded achievements A new and expanded achievements system captures video of your epic moments, continues to grow a game’s achievements over time and rewards you in new ways, and your Gamerscore carries over from Xbox 360.

Xbox SmartGlass Xbox SmartGlass is natively part of the Xbox One platform, built in from the beginning with the ability to quickly render content directly onto your device, and now more devices can connect at one time for multiplayer and shared entertainment.

Microsoft have also confirmed that all Xbox One games will require mandatory installation on the system’s hard drive. To install the same disc on another Xbox Live user’s drive, a fee must be paid.

Microsoft exec Phil Harrison elaborated in an Xbox One interview with CVG that players who activate a pre-owned retail disc will need to pay the same price as the original buyer in order to access its content.

Microsoft later added that it is “designing the new console to enable customers to trade in and resell Xbox One games”, but the company’s not yet ready to share details on how this process will work.

Sadly, yet understandably with it’s new drive, Xbox One won’t be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games.

To put to rest one of the rumours in the lead up to the console, there is no sweeping mandatory always-online requirement for Xbox One games. However, Harrison suggested that Xbox One will require an internet connection once every 24 hours.

Following the reveal event, a number of UK retailers kicked off Xbox One pre-orders. Zavvi has predicted an Xbox One price of £400 and release date November 30.

Train2Game News: Major Xbox Announcement

Xbox announcementThe rumours of the announcement for the Next Generation Xbox have been confirmed as true by Larry Hryb.

Larry Hryb, also known as Major Nelson, confirmed on his twitter account that Microsoft will be revealing the next Xbox on May 21. Mr Hryb directed his twitter followers attention to his blog which had a big green banner across the top with a countdown under the words “Xbox Reveal”. You can’t get much clearer than that.

“On Tuesday May 21st, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment,” the post says. “On that day, we’ll be holding a special press event on the Xbox campus and we invite you to join us via the live global stream that will be available on Xbox.com, Xbox LIVE and broadcast on Spike TV if you are in the US or Canada.”

The worldwide stream will land at 1pm ET, 10am Pacific and 5pm GMT, although presumably that should be 6pm. This will allow all people around the world to watch the stream live with out having to stay up until the early hours of the morning.

The post goes on to announce further info at E3 a few weeks later, including an extensive software reveal. “We’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future,” it says. “Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games.”

The post is finished of by saying “We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on.” A comment like this shows how much passion has been put into this project.

I am greatly looking forward to this announcement.

Train2Game News: Games Industry News – 19.04.13

Connor AdamsIt is the end of the week so it is time for the Train2Game end of week round up!

The first bit of news this weeks come with the release of Injustice: Gods Among Us, the new DC Universe fighting game. Train2Game student Connor Adams did some of the concept art for the game at the company he works at Atomhawk in Newcastle. Congratulations Connor! You can view some of his art work, which I highly suggest, in the following link: http://crayonmechanic.deviantart.com/

The Pokémon Company International recently revealed a mysterious new Pokémon that looks strangely familiar to Legendary Pokémon Mewtwo. Nintendo have now confirmed that this new Pokémon is connect to Mewtwo! How this connection will play out when Pokémon X and Pokémon Y launch in October is still to be confirmed. You can enjoy a short clip, that makes the connection clear, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tSVBVQzNMg&feature=player_embedded

Bethesda have recently uploaded a couple of six second long clips to the video sharing site, Vine. These little teaser clips had the internet buzzing about what could be coming. It has now been announced that it is the new game from Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami. Mikami’s studio Tango Gameworks will reveal ‘project Zwei’ via a debut trailer set for release at 5:00 a.m. Pacific / 8:00 a.m Eastern. Mikami has previously described Zwei as “a true survival horror” in which the player “confronts and overcomes fear”. Mikami has also said this will be his last game as director.

Activision social media manager Dan Amrich has said he expects 2013′s entry in the Call of Duty series, which is most likely going to be Modern Warfare 4, to be revealed no later than E3 in early June. Amrich noted that the last two Call of Duty games were revealed in May 2011 and May 2012. It has been rumoured that Microsoft are revealing their next Xbox on May 21 so it is likely the new COD will be announced around the same time.

Finally, Microsoft reports that Xbox Live now has around 46 million members worldwide. This, is according to the firm’s Earnings Release for FY13 Q3. It represents an 18 per cent increase from the prior year period. Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division posted revenue of $2.53 billion, an increase of 56 per cent from the prior year period. Microsoft sold 1.3 million Xbox 360s during the quarter, which is down 9 percent from the same period but it is still impressive that so many consoles are still being sold, even at the end of this generations cycle.