Train2Game News StandUp for GamesAid 2017

A chuckle worthy line-up of comedians led by Imran Yusuf comes to The Comedy Store London raising the roof and funds for GamesAid.
‘StandUp for GamesAid’, the funniest night in the games industry calendar returns to the legendary Comedy Store in London on May 8th, 2017.

Hosted once again by enigmatic GamesAid patron Imran Yusuf, the rib-tickling night of cracking comedy celebrates its 5th year with another fantastic line-up, including:
Alistair Barrie

Pippa Evans

Jeff Innocent

Angela Barnes

Funmbi Onotayo

Dana Alexander

And more TBC…
Tickets for the consistently sold out show are available right now at £20 (plus £2 booking fee for orders over phone or on website), and all profits will be going straight to GamesAid to help disadvantaged and disabled young people across the UK.  Every year, StandUp for GamesAid raises thousands for the umbrella charity, and is the easiest/funniest way for you to help.

Tickets can be purchased at The Comedy Store box office, or by visiting The Comedy Store Website here: http://thecomedystore.co.uk/london/show/stand-games-aid/

Train2Game News UK games market reaches new heights in 2016

At its annual Games Industry Market Valuation Breakfast event yesterday, games trade body Ukie revealed the value of UK consumer games market reached a record £4.33bn in 2016, up +1.2% from 2015 figures.The result shows positive growth for the games and interactive entertainment economy, including an +11.1% increase in digital console and PC games sales and an impressive +16.9% rise in UK mobile games revenue – now worth £995m. Overall, software sales in the UK exceeded £3bn for the first time.

The consumer release of the first VR headsets has helped fuel the growth of the sector though the sales of VR hardware, included in the market valuation for the first time and valued at £61.3m. The impact of VR was also seen in the sale of top-end graphics cards, driving a huge increase in PC game hardware of +64% to £258m.  

As the current generation of the console cycle matures, there was an expected reduction in sales of new hardware, down to £507.5m.

UK games events have also seen a strong increase, up +20.6% from 2015, fuelled by a growing esports scene in the UK and consumers engaging more with the industry at UK-wide games shows such as popular Insomnia and upcoming EGX Rezzed.

The successes of both Pokémon GO and Minecraft were factors in increases for both categories for game-related toys and merchandise, and books and magazines. Toys and merchandise sales increased by +7.2% to £66.8m, with books and magazines increasing +13% to £18.4m.

The annual breakfast briefing was attended by industry, media and analysts, and featured lively panel discussions from industry leaders about the state of the UK industry and expected trends in the coming year.

Data was collated to build the total Market Valuation using trusted industry data sources including Superdata, GfK, Kantar Worldpanel, Neilsen, NPD, ABC, The Official Charts Company and Ukie.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said, “Our sector is constantly innovating and investing in new experiences, technologies and talent, resulting in the strong and resilient games industry shown in this £4.33bn market valuation. It has been an excellent year for the industry, including the release of first commercially available VR headsets, an exciting year for our national esports scene, and the explosion of the UK mobile market, which is now worth nearly £1bn alone.

These statistics will go a long way to reinforcing the message that the UK continues to be a world leading games market, remaining strong in the face of an uncertain political climate. Ukie will continue to use these stats to promote the strength of our sector nationally and worldwide to investors, the media, policy makers and more, to prove that the UK is the best place to make and sell games.

The next year will be a big year of change, but we look forward to seeing the market remain resilient and robust and a leading creative economy in the UK.”

Read the full market breakdown here.

Train2Game News Unity plugin supports EditorVR

VR game development on the Unity platform just received a massive productivity boost. 
Today, KinematicSoup Technologies announced that Scene Fusion now officially supports EditorVR. The announcement was in response to Unity Technologies’ latest update to the platform, released on March 11th, 2017.

Scene Fusion is a Unity plug-in that adds real-time collaboration for level design to the Unity engine, which reduces the amount of time it takes to build and ship a game by up to 33%. With the growing popularity of VR, the decision to support it in Scene Fusion was an easy decision for Justin McMichael, CEO of KinematicSoup.

Unity launched the first publicly available experimental build of EditorVR for Unity, on December 15, 2016. Since this launch, the team at KinematicSoup has made efforts to ensure Scene Fusion builds have supported the continuous development of EditorVR, and plans to continue this trend.

 “Our goal is to provide complete interactivity to game developers so that they can bring games to market sooner and work more efficiently. We see VR as a natural next step to the evolving landscape of game development. The benefits of real-time collaboration have never been greater than they are in VR. Being able to have people in and out of VR interact together on a single scene creates a very fast and efficient workflow that results in faster game development.”

 Justin McMichael, CEO, KinematicSoup

Scene Fusion has been in development since 2015 and has since become popular among many Unity-based game studios.

Interested in learning more about Scene Fusion? Visit https://www.kinematicSoup.com/scene-fusion 

Train2Game News Kingdom Hearts Mobile

Fans will soon be able to learn more about the KINGDOM HEARTS history with the upcoming release of KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ[Cross], the relaunch of the critically acclaimed mobile RPG formerly known as KINGDOM HEARTS Unchained χ. 
As part of the free update next month, the game will soon have a new “Union Cross” multiplayer mode and more ways to customize the player’s avatar.

With KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ[Cross], players can create teams of six from their party members or through a matchmaking feature to fight hordes of Heartless enemies and powerful bosses. Players can also take on quests of increasing difficulty as well as unique new missions. 

To help these teams of friends communicate with each other, the game will now include emotes and text bubbles. Players will encounter both familiar and new faces as the story of the Unions continues to unfold, and the new “Theater Mode” will allow players to relive the drama and rewatch cutscenes.

Fans can pre-register for the update on the official website (https://form3.square-enix.com/a.p/816/) to obtain exclusive smartphone wallpapers and in-game rewards. To commemorate the relaunch and the one-year anniversary of the original app release, players will also receive in-game presents by logging in after the update.

To watch the new opening movie, visit: https://youtu.be/kycDgmjpGsg.

Train2Game News Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy First Look

Aw​ard-winning developer and publisher of digital entertainment, Telltale Games, along with Marvel Entertainment, today shared the world-first screenshots and cast details for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, set to premiere digitally this Spring on consoles, PC, and mobile devices. 
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is a brand new story of the universe’s unlikeliest heroes: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot. In the wake of an epic battle, the Guardians discover an artifact of unspeakable power. Each of them has a reason to desire this relic, as does a ruthless enemy who is the last of her kind, and who will stop at nothing to tear it from their hands.

From Earth to the Milano to Knowhere and beyond, and set to the beat of awesome music, you wear the rocket-powered boots of Star-Lord in an original Guardians adventure, where your decisions and actions drive the story you experience.

This week at PAX East in Boston, MA on March 10th at 6pm in the Albatross Theater, join the team from Telltale Games as well as Marvel Games Creative Director, Bill Rosemann, to hear more about the series as they discuss the creative process behind this stellar new adventure. The panel will also be streamed live on Twitch.

The series will feature a star-studded cast of voice talent, including Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series) as Star-Lord, Emily O’Brien (The Young and the Restless, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor) as Gamora, Nolan North (the Uncharted series, Pretty Little Liars) as Rocket, Brandon Paul Eells (Watch Dogs) as Drax, and Adam Harrington (The Wolf Among Us, League of Legends) as Groot. 

Premiering this Spring, the series will also be coming to retail as a special season pass disc, which will include the first episode in the season, and will grant access to the subsequent four episodes as they become available for download via online updates. Specific platform details are yet to be announced.

Revealed in December on stage at The Game Awards 2016 in Los Angeles, you can watch the announcement teaser trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Koy_e_ipwng

Train2Game News GameBlast 17 raises £100k

Gamers’ charity SpecialEffect announced that GameBlast17 has raised over £100,000 in support their life-changing work for gamers with disabilities.
The event, held primarily over the weekend of 24-26 February, saw over 300 individuals, teams and studios undertake a wide variety of personal gaming challenges, including marathon live streams, fundraising forfeits and a successful bid to beat the Guinness World Record for continuous Overwatch play.

The headline streaming event was hosted by GAME at their Multiplay Studio, with a 24-hour live broadcast culminating in an auction of gaming merchandise and one-off collectables. As well as support from the head office teams at GAME and Multiplay, over 250 stores across the UK contributed to the fundraising campaign throughout February, pushing the grand total from the group to £28,000 and rising.

Tom Donegan, SpecialEffect Events Coordinator, said: “We are so thrilled with how GameBlast continues to go from strength to strength. This event is all about the wider gaming community coming together to support their fellow gamers, whether that’s individuals who have a serious physical disability or an acquired injury or illness that has affected their ability to play. This money will provide a massive boost as we strive to help more people across the country to get back in the game!”

Gamers with disabilities also took part in the event, including those at the William Merritt Disability Living Centre in Leeds who staged their own 24-hour GameBlast event and raised over £1000. Many of the young people there were using accessible controllers created by SpecialEffect to play games like Minecraft and FIFA17. 

The other partners whose invaluable support added to the success of GameBlast17 were ukie, Insert Coin, Twitch and FaceIt.

The dates for GameBlast18 have been announced as 23-25 February 2018. 

Train2Game News Retro Freak

Playing all your favourite video games from the 80s and 90s has never been easier thanks to the newly released retro gaming console – the Retro Freak.
Competing with the likes of the NES Classic Mini, Sega Ultimate Classic and Retron 5, the Retro Freak boasts 12 cartridge slots, making it possible to play original games made for the PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, Super Grafx, NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, SEGA Genesis, SEGA Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance! As well as having the capability to play original cartridges, the device also benefits from being able to store and save games that have been downloaded from an SD card.

Key features

    The ability to transfer original cartridge data on to an SD card

    HDMI output and HD up-scaling

    Advanced emulator options including multiple save states, filters and cheat codes

    Modular design including micro console and cartridge adapter

    A ‘SNES’ style controller

    Upgradeable firmware

    3 pin UK plug and EU 2 pin plug

    Full CE mark

Andy Pearson, General Manager of Funstock.co.uk, said:

“What makes this console so good is that it tastes great! But it also lets you play all your favourite games easily on a modern TV. Unlike many retro consoles that restrict how many games you can play, the Retro Freak gives you complete freedom to enjoy all the games you’ve amassed. And it even allows you to carry on from where you last left off!”

Compatible cartridges:

    PC Engine

    TurboGrafx-16

    Super Grafx

    NES

    Famicom

    SNES

    Super Famicom

    SEGA Genesis

    SEGA Mega Drive

    Game Boy

    Game Boy Color

    Game Boy Advance

The Retro Freak is now available to buy exclusively in Europe from FunstockRetro.co.uk for £169.99

Train2Game News Nintendo Switch Charity Stream

To benefit children fighting critical illnesses, the /r/NintendoSwitch community on reddit.com will host a charity livestream from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, March 3.  
The 24-hour event will coincide with the release of the Nintendo Switch console and will benefit Child’s Play, which provides hospitals and therapy facilities with games and hardware, and Extra Life, which fundraises to allow hospitals to better care for sick children.

The livestream will feature gameplay videos, product reviews, and giveaways provided by official stream sponsors PDP, SanDisk, Nyko, and AverMedia. The goal is to raise at least $1,000 for each charity organization.

/r/NintendoSwitch is one of the largest unofficial Nintendo Switch communities in the world. With over 115,000 subscribers and growing, /r/NintendoSwitch is the central hub for news, updates, rumors, speculation, and discussion relating to the Nintendo Switch.

Details of the event follow.

What: /r/NintendoSwitch charity livestream benefitting Child’s Play and Extra Life. Sponsored by PDP, SanDisk, AverMedia, and Nyko.

When: 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, March 3

Wherehttps://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/ 

For more information on sponsored charities, visit  http://www.childsplaycharity.org and http://www.extra-life.org . 

For more information on /r/NintendoSwitch, visit https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/ .

Train2Game News GDC Awards 2017

Blizzard Entertainment’s popular and stylish multiplayer shooter, Overwatch, was honored with the prize for Game of the Year at tonight’s 17th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) ceremony during the 2017 Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Overwatch’s carefully calibrated balance and polished gameplay mechanics also earned the game the award for Best Design. An archive of the award ceremony, as well as the full presentation of the Independent Games Festival Awards (IGF Awards), can be viewed at http://twitch.tv/gdc.

Developer Playdead’s beautifully macabre and engrossing platformer, Inside, also earned two awards in total, for Best Audio and Best Visual Art. The awards reflect the strong artistry of the title, which depicts a dark conspiracy using a stark visual motif with foreboding lighting and haunting animation. Developer Campo Santo’s compelling first-person adventure game, Firewatch, was the final double award-winner of the night, earning the team the awards for Best Debut and Best Narrative. The game, which features the voice talent of Mad Men’s Rich Sommer, portrays a deeply engrossing tale that enwraps the player in a branching script filled with mystery, suspense, humor and longing.
The full slate of winners at tonight’s ceremony also includes the augmented reality (AR) game Pokemon Go by Niantic, which became a worldwide sensation and earned the award for Best Mobile/Handheld Game. The massively ambitious, procedurally-generated universe of No Man’s Sky earned developer Hello Games the Innovation Award, while the grandiose production and graphics in Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End earned that title the award for Best Technology. The charmingly off-kilter virtual reality (VR) game, Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives, received the award for Best VR/AR Game. The Audience Award is chosen among the entire selection of GDCA finalists using a public online voting process, and was presented to developer EA DICE for Battlefield 1.
The Game Developers Choice Awards honor the very best games of the year, and was created for and voted on by developers. Winners are selected by the Game Developers Choice Awards-specific International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), which is an invitation-only group comprised of leading game creators from all parts of the industry.
Every year, the Game Developers Choice Awards also recognize developers who have made significant contributions to the art, science and craft of video games with three special awards. This year, the Pioneer Award was given to Jordan Mechner, the game designer, programmer and screenwriter best known for creating the landmark series, Prince of Persia.
The Ambassador Award, which recognizes those whose actions have helped video games to “advance to a better place,” went to Mark DeLoura, for dedicating his life to the education and the productive use of technology within academia, the media and videogames, holding roles that include Senior Advisor for Digital Media during the Obama administration.
The Lifetime Achievement award was given to Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, and the creator of seminal game/creation tool ZZT and the influential Unreal Engine. Following the 1998 PC game Unreal, which Sweeney co-created, the game’s engine became the underpinning for a slew of acclaimed games, including Epic’s own Gears of War and Unreal franchises, as well as the BioShock series, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and the Batman: Arkham series of games.
“This year’s amazing slate of winners is a testament to the diversity of experiences in games. Pokemon Go took gaming outdoors using AR, while Job Simulator showed how lo-fi aesthetics could meet cutting edge tech for a winning VR experience. Overwatch once again proved Blizzard’s uncanny ability to make a perfectly balanced multiplayer game, and Inside delved deep into our dark psyches to unearth our scariest nightmares,” said Meggan Scavio, General Manager of the Game Developers Conference. “These nominees speak to the strength of games as a medium, but also show the various textures and possible creative outlets that interactive entertainment can provide. Congrats to all of the winners and nominees for following their visions and thanks to all developers who strive to make amazing games for us day in and day out.”
The Game Developers Choice Awards winners are:

Best Audio

Inside (Playdead)

Best Debut

Campo Santo (Firewatch)

Best Design

Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)

Best Mobile/Handheld Game

Pokemon Go (Niantic)

Innovation Award

No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)

Best Narrative

Firewatch (Campo Santo)

Best Technology

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog)

Best Visual Art

Inside (Playdead)

Best VR/AR Game

Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives (Owlchemy Labs)

Audience Award

Battlefield 1 (EA DICE)

Game of the Year
Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)

Pioneer Award
Jordan Mechner

Ambassador Award

Mark DeLoura

Lifetime Achievement Award

Tim Sweeney
For more information about the 17th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, please visit the official website at http://www.gamechoiceawards.com . For information about the 2017 Game Developep official website at http://www.gdconf.com.

Train2Game News Middle-earth Shadow of War

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment today announced Middle-earth: Shadow of War™.
Shadow of War is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor™, winner of more than 50 industry awards, including 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards’ Game of the Year, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming at the 2015 D.I.C.E. Awards and the BAFTA for Game Design. Developed by Monolith Productions, Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ features an original story with the return of Talion and Celebrimbor, who must go behind enemy lines to forge an army and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.

The official Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ Announcement Trailer can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/sPhOCXzLBKA

In Middle-earth: Shadow of War™, players wield a new Ring of Power and confront the deadliest of enemies, including Sauron and his Nazgul, in a monumental battle for Middle-earth. The open-world action-adventure game is brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from the first game is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience. 

Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ will be available for Xbox One, Project Scorpio, Windows 10 PC (Windows Store and Steam™), PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®4 Pro beginning 25 August, 2017. Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ will be available as an Xbox Play Anywhere title.

“Monolith Productions continues to innovate by introducing deeper, more personalised gameplay experiences, coupled with authentic storytelling,” said David Haddad, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ truly drives the genre forward by taking the Nemesis System to new heights and allowing players to create their own personal journey within Middle-earth.”

“Following the amazing reception to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor™, we massively expanded every dimension of the game, including the world, the story, the RPG systems, the core gameplay and of course the personal player stories of the Nemesis System,” said Michael de Plater, Vice President, Creative, Monolith Productions. “As lifelong fans of Middle-earth, we are so grateful to have the privilege to bring to life the most incredible fantasy world ever created in a new way, for a new generation. With Middle-earth: Shadow of War™, we can’t wait to see the amazing stories players are going to create and share.”

The innovative Nemesis System created unique personal stories through procedurally-generated enemies who remember every encounter and are differentiated by their personality, strengths and weaknesses. Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ expands this innovation with the introduction of Followers who bring about entirely new stories of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. The Nemesis System is also expanded to create a unique personal world through Nemesis Fortresses, which allows players to utilize different strategies to conquer dynamic strongholds and create personalized worlds with their unique Orc army.

Set between the events of The Hobbit™ and The Lord of the Rings™, Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ continues the original narrative of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor™. Players will be engrossed in a richer, more personal and expansive world full of epic heroes and villains, iconic locations, original enemy types, even more personalities and a new cast of characters with untold stories.

As an Xbox Play Anywhere title, players can purchase a digital version of Middle-earth: Shadow of War™ once and play it on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. Gamers can pick up where they left off on another Xbox One or Windows 10 PC, bringing all the saves, game add-ons and achievements with them at no additional cost.

For more information or to join the Middle-earth: Shadow of War conversation, visit www.ShadowofWar.com