Train2Game Christmas Competition 2010

Train2Game Christmas Competition Map

Train2Game has launched a competition that will see the winning team have their game released on the iPad by DR Studios!

The game will be released in the second quarter of 2011 with the winning Train2Game student team credited as the originators of the title and taking share of the revenue along with a donation to the Princes Trust Charity

The team challenge involves making a game based around using the UK postcode map above. The Train2Game student team made came must adhere to the following criteria:

  • Games must be developed in GameMaker only.
  • There are no restrictions on the game type or genre
  • There are no restrictions on art style or look and feel
  • The game must include multi-player in some form, either 2,3 or 4.
  • The base image must not be changed in any way.

The style and tempo of the game is entirely down to the Train2Game student teams, and the final product will be assessed on ingenuity, innovation and playability.

Teams submitting games need to meet these criteria, with no exceptions:

  • The competition is open to Train2Game students aged 17 or over
  • All team members must be current Train2Game students.
  • Teams can include between 2 and 5 members.
  • Students can only take part in one team and are not allowed to members of multiple teams

To enter, Train2Game students must gather their team of 2-5 people together, name it, make a list of team members complete with contact details, and nominate captain and send this in an email to

The competition closes on the 20th of December at 4pm, with the winning team being revealed in January.

For more information, and full terms and conditions, please see the competition thread on the Train2Game forum.

Good luck!

This Dragon Age 2 developer diary is a must watch for Train2Game students!

Dragon Age 2 Train2Game

Bioware has released a developer diary for Dragon Age 2 which should prove of interest to Train2Game students be they a games developer, games designer or games artist and animator, because it almost contains everything!

The developer diary not only features Executive Producer Mark Darrah, Art Director Matthew Goldman and Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw talking about the concepts and ideas behind Dragon Age 2, but it also features gameplay, concept models and even some nice looking animated videos. Train2Game artists will be especially interested in the latter!

The Dragon Age 2 developer diary begins with Executive Producer Mike Darrah stating that meetings about the game had begun in 2009 before Dragon Age: Origins had even been released.  This cumulated in an impressive looking animated first build which the team say contains many of the elements that feature in the opening of Dragon Age 2.

The developers also say that there were ideas they had in these opening stages that in the end didn’t make the cut. For example, Art Director Matthew Goldman says he wanted protagonist Hawke to be a he lycanthrope that tasted his own blood and howled like a werewolf. Obviously, this idea hasn’t made it into Dragon Age 2!

The idea of cutting out more outlandish concepts from a game is something that games industry consultant Nicholas Lovell discussed during an interview with Train2Game.

Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw also talks us through one of the main changes for Dragon Age 2, where choices the player makes will have affects right away, rather than at the end of the game:

“Where Origins really shone by having this huge epilogue with thousands of variations based on the choices you made, we’ve instead moved that into the gameplay.”

“People you have interacted with at the beginning of the game are going to have their situations profoundly affected by their interactions with Hawke – your character. You re-interact with them. You see how that worked out. So we believe [this] be our most interactive game to date.”

The team also discuss how they’re aware that some of the changes they’ve made are big, but they believe that it will change Dragon Age 2 for the better.

Interested Train2Game students can watch the Dragon Age 2 developer diary below, courtesy of GameSpot UK.

If that isn’t enough Dragon Age 2 action for you Train2Game, you can check out the extended trailer in this Train2Game blog post from August.

Long time Train2Game blog readers will know that we’ve previously been massive advocates of Dragon Age: Origins, even going so far as to say that it’s a game that all Train2Game students should appreciate. The sheer open nature of the game means that the game designers needed to put a lot of effort into writing the different outcomes, while game developers and game artist and animators would have worked on parts of the game that the majority of players may not have even seen!

Dragon Age: Origins also ended up with a lot of game mods, and as Train2Game students will know modding can provide great practice when it comes to using your skills. Perhaps Dragon Age 2 will come with the same opportunities.

Dragon Age 2 is scheduled for release for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on March 11th 2011.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the Dragon Age 2 developer diary? Does it provide you with a good insight into how producing a game as massive as Dragon Age 2 works? And what do you think about the changes that have been made to the game since Origins? Has the game perhaps been tailored to a console audience?

You can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Pachter blasts Activision for not introducing Call of Duty online fees

Train2Game Call of Duty

The man gamers, including Train2Game students, love to hate has spoken again. No, it isn’t Bobby Kotick but the guy is talking about Call of Duty.  Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter has blasted Activisions’ decision not to charge an online fee for their successful online shooter.

As reported on the Train2Game blog last month, Pachter recently predicted that Call of Duty: Black Ops players would have to eventually pay an online. Activision quickly moved to say they’d never, ever charge a fee for playing Call of Duty online.

Pachter is seemingly not happened with this decision, and in a move that may surprise many Train2Game blog readers, the analyst has openly criticised the gaming publishing giants for their position:

“We were disappointed to hear Activision’s new head of publishing flatly deny the company’s plans to charge for multiplayer,” said Pachter.

“We firmly believe that until the publishers address monetization of multiplayer, game sales will continue to be challenged by the publishers’ altruistic decision to provide significantly more entertainment value per hour than ever in history.”

“Considering that each of the publicly traded publishers exists to maximize shareholder value, we view their reticence to monetize multiplayer as a betrayal of shareholder trust, and can only hope that each implements plans to address the impact of increasing free multiplayer going forward.”

“Even if we are mistaken and charging for multiplayer doesn’t result in packaged goods growth, we think that investors will be satisfied if publisher revenues once again begin to grow due to contribution from multiplayer monetization.”

“In our view, monetization of multiplayer is one of the greatest opportunities for the publishers, and we think that it would be a serious strategic error to pass on this opportunity,

Michael Pachter may be unhappy with the decision of Activision not to charge for playing Call of Duty: Black ops online, but Train2Game students will certainly approve. Many posters on the thread on the Train2Game forum weren’t exactly keen on the idea.

Regular readers of the Train2Game blog will also know about the massive success of Call of Duty: Black Ops and may question why Activision would risk alienating players by charging! Call of Duty: Black Ops is still selling well and regained the top spot in the UK charts this week.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Pachters’ comments? Why do you think he is so keen to lay into Activision?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

(Source: Industry Gamers)

LittleBigPlanet 2 Wolfenstein 3D level shows more creative potential for Train2Game designers

LittleBigPlanet 2 Train2Game

Yet more evidence has emerged that shows how LittleBigPlanet 2 has the potential to be one massive game development playground for Train2Game students.

Video footage from the LittleBigPlanet 2 beta has emerged that shows how one user, RAPHAEI, has recreated a level from Wolfenstein 3D.  This newly designed level – suitably called Sackenstein 3D – isn’t just a 2D LittleBigPlanet level with some art taken from Wolfenstein 3D, it’s a fully working first person shooter in its own right!

And this recreation Wolfenstein 3D isn’t an on the rails affair like the Vietnam First Person Shooter that was shown on the Train2Game blog earlier in the year, this time, you can actually move your character around.

Train2Game students can see Sackenstein 3D in action by watching the video below.

This is just the latest in a long line of videos that show how LittleBigPlanet 2 could provide an excellent tool set for Train2Game students to use and practice their Game Design skills. Train2Game students will be able to use the creation tools in LittleBigPlanet 2 to not only build their own levels, but build there own games with the video above being a prominent example of the latter.

Other examples of user made levels that Train2Game students may take an interest in looking at include a recreation of Portal and classic game Dogfight, both remade using LittleBigPlanet 2. RAPHAEI has also been responsible for creating a version of PSN Indie game Flower with the design tools in Media Molecules beta, which Train2Game students should also look at as an example they could follow.

Creating levels using LittleBigPlanet 2 really is something Train2Game Games Designers should give thought to, because as the Train2Game Blog has previously mentioned, developers Media Molecule have hired budding game designers based on the levels they’ve created for LittleBigPlanet.

Train2Game students may also find that this Train2Game blog post about the development of Sackboy provides interesting reading.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is set for release for the PlayStation 3 on January 18th. Media Molecule recently revealed a checklist of things that still need to be done before then, which Train2Game students can see it here.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the latest LittleBigPlanet 2 beta video? Could you see yourself using the skills you’ve developed to build an exciting and interesting custom level? Will you be purchasing LittleBigPlanet on day one?

You can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

‘Stagnating’ handheld consoles losing market to smartphones

Angry Birds Android Train2Game blog

Yet more evidence has emerged that shows Train2Game designers, developers and artists would do well to work on mobile games in the future.

A report from market research firm Interpret shows that consumers playing games on their phone has increased dramatically, while gamers appear to be abandoning their DS and PSP devices.

“The proliferation of highly multifunctional smartphones and messaging phones is a very real threat to the dominance by the DS and PSP of the handheld gaming market,” said Interpret research and analysis manager Courtney Johnson

The report, which is based on a survey of 9000 people, says that 43.8% of the phone, Nintendo DS and DS PSP gaming market plays games on phones—a significant 53.2% increase over the past year—while the proportion of those who play on the DS or PSP has fallen by 13%. In fact 27% of people who own both a smart phone and a PSP or Nintendo DS, say that they don’t even use their handheld console anymore, preferring to play games on their smartphones.

The ever increasing library of mobile games for both iPhone and Android means that there’s more and more choice when it comes to choosing a game to play on the go. It also means that there’s a chance that Train2Game students could help develop a mobile game that could eventually fall into the hands of millions of people.

Evidence of this can be seen in a post on the Train2Game blog last month which shows that over three million people have downloaded Cut the Rope from the iPhone App store since it was released at the beginning of October. Of course, the increase in mobile gaming isn’t just limited to the iPhone, with plenty being available for Google’s Android phones.

Google recently revealed Android 2.3 which they say will take mobile gaming to the next level. Interested Train2Game students – especially game developers who’d like to produce games for the OS nicknamed gingerbread – can find out more about Android 2.3 in this post on the Train2Game blog, which comes complete with video.

Gaming giants Nintendo and Sony will be hoping new developments with their handhelds can help them fend off the increasing popularity of mobile gaming.  The Nintendo 3DS is set for release early next year, with a large number of exclusive games being developed in 3D as you can see in this Train2Game blog post from earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Sony will be hoping to attract consumers to the PSP with Square Enix bringing four exclusive games to the handheld console next year. Of course, if you’ve read the Thoughts of Train2Game blog recently, you’ll know that there are increasing rumours of a PlayStation phone which could encourage PlayStation fans to ditch their iPhones.

Any Train2Game students interested in the full report can see it here.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the increasing number of people playing games on their smartphones? Is it really that big a threat to the PSP and the Nintendo DS? What systems do you use for handheld games?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Android 2.3 ‘optimised for game development’

Android 2.3

Google has revealed how its latest smartphone operating system, Android 2.3 , has been optimised for game development. It’s therefore something that many Train2Game students – who will be looking to develop mobile games in future – will be interested in.

The new Android OS, nicknamed Gingerbread, has been produced with “optimised tools and performance for game development.” Explaining the new features Android Technical Lead David Turner said:

“In Android 2.3 we’re taking gaming to the next level. Game developers always want the best performance so we’ve given them what they’ve asked for in Android 2.3”

New features that Train2Game game developers will be interested in include Concurrent Garbage Collection, which minimises application pauses, smoothes animations and provides increased responsiveness.

Turner also said that the new OS has received tweaked input processing which lowers CPU processing and therefore allows game developers to produce higher performing games for smartphones running the OS.

Google has also “broadened the native APIs exposed by the platform, meaning developers now have direct access to audio, input and sensor events, assets and the OpenGL ES API” according to the Technical Lead in the video.

Android 2.3 will launch with the Samsung Galaxy S in 2011 and it’s rumoured to be the operating system of the rumoured PlayStation Phone.  (If you check out the Thoughts of Train2Game blog, you can see videos that show the PlayStation phone in action.

Train2Game students can see the new features of Android 2.3, and how it could benefit game development, in the video below.

Train2Game students will no doubt be extremely aware of how important games on smartphones are becoming and how developing a great one can provide massive success for even a small team of game developers. Last month we reported on the Train2Game blog that game Cut the Rope has been downloaded from the App store over three million times, which has most likely brought developers Zeptolab a healthy little income.

Meanwhile earlier today, it was revealed that iPhone game Game Dev Story has been named one of the biggest gaming surprises of 2010. You can join in the discussion about your top surprise games of the year on the Train2Game forum.

If any Train2Game blog readers want more of an indication of how important the mobile gaming market is becoming to game developers, check out the Train2Game interview with games industry consultant Nicholas Lovell.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the new Android operating system? Could it tempt you away from an iPhone? And do you see yourself using the skills you’ve developed with Train2Game to make games for the Google smartphone OS?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood named biggest gaming surprised of 2010. What’s yours Train2Game?

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has topped a poll of 20,000 gamers by IGN UK to be named the ‘biggest gaming surprise’ of 2010.

Train2Game students who’ve read the previous Train2Game blog coverage of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – a game that reached Number 2 in the UK Charts – may not see as a surprise hit but it’s what IGN readers voted for out of the choices available.

UK Editor–in-Chief of IGN, Alex Simmons, explained the process:

“After the IGN UK team picked their ten biggest surprises of 2010, our readers wanted to have their say, and voted in their thousands.  With so many games, formats and ways to play, it’s increasingly easy to miss some potentially classic titles, eclipsed by hyped games with massive marketing budgets.

“Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has taken both IGN’s experts and our readers by surprise.  We all shared a concern about its rapid development period, but it’s expertly honed and refined, with a fantastic multiplayer option.  This is an exceptionally crafted package, which deserves to feature highly on 2010 Christmas lists.”

So rest assured Train2Game students, people haven’t voted for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood as a surprise in itself, but more about the impressively short time in which the game was developed following Assassin’s Creed 2.

Other titles that made the list of biggest gaming surprises of 2010 include Vanquish and Joe Danger – which was released digitally by independent developers Hello Games. An iPhone game that every Train2Game student should really play was also named as one the biggest surprises of the year, with Game Dev Story making the top ten.

Of course, Train2Game students are already aware of how important iPhone games can be, and developing and publishing a game on Apple’s platform was discussed in the Train2Game interview with games industry consultant Nicholas Lovell.

So that’s IGN’s biggest surprises of the year, but how about yours? What games do Train2Game students believe are the best surprise games of the year? Which game impressed you when you really had no idea that it would?

Train2Game forum users are also voting in their own poll to decide the best games of 2010. You can find out how to get involved here.

You can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm launches worldwide

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is now available worldwide after midnight launch events saw gamers brave the freezing December conditions to be among the first to get their hands on the expansion. Did any Train2Game students attend a launch?

One of the many World of Warcraft: Cataclysm launch events took place at Leicester Square in London where Blizzard developers Greg Street and Dave Kosak answered questions and signed copies of the game. Of course, plenty of cosplayers attended the events too. The London launch event was hosted by Gadget Show presenter Jason Bradbury.

“Cataclysm adds an incredible amount of new content for players to explore, revitalizing the game world and building on everything we’ve learned since World of Warcraft launched over six years ago,” said CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment Mike Morhaime.

“We thank all of our beta testers for helping make this our best expansion yet, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone in the new Azeroth.”

Naturally, the Blizzard servers got very busy once Cataclysm became available at midnight. A few Train2Game students were no doubt among the many, many World of Warcraft players struggling to log in to the much changed world.

World of Warcraft currently has over 12 million subscribers, could Cataclysm encourage even more people to play? The release of Cataclysm also arguably marks the last big game launch of the year.

The last PC exclusive game to be released with a massive launch event was Starcraft II. The strategy title went on to take the top spot in the UK Charts, could World of Warcraft: Cataclysm do the same?

So Train2Game, have you been playing World of Warcraft since Cataclysm? If so what are your thoughts on the brave new world? Did you attend a midnight launch? And do you believe that Cataclysm could take top spot in the charts from Call of Duty: Black Ops?

You can leave your thoughts about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Square Enix reveal Tomb Raider series reboot

GameInformer Lara Croft

Train2Game students will recognise her as one of the most iconic characters in gaming, but Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series are getting a reboot.

Square Enix has announced that the new game will simply be known as Tomb Raider – Yes, that’s the same title as the original that some Train2Game students will remember playing in 1996 – and it’ll be produced by game development studio Crystal Dynamics.

Game Informer has exclusively revealed the ‘young and inexperienced’ Lara Croft’s new look on its latest cover. The magazine has also revealed a snippet of what Train2Game students can expect from the Tomb Raider reboot:

“In our world-exclusive cover story, we uncover a brand-new Lara Croft. Rebooting the Tomb Raider franchise through an origin story wasn’t so much a choice as an act of necessity, according to Crystal Dynamics. Drastic measures were needed. To build an entirely fresh Lara – a culturally relevant hero worth of the attention that once came so effortlessly – they must break her first. In this new adventure – simply titled Tomb Raider – a younger and inexperienced Lara Croft must endure both physical and emotional trauma to survive.”

“Forget everything you knew about Tomb Raider,” said Crystal Dynamics studio head, Darrell Gallagher.

“This is an origins story that creates Lara Croft and takes her on a character defining journey like no other.”

As of yet there’s no information about what gaming platforms the Tomb Raider reboot will be on or any news about a potential release date.  However, Train2Game students will be able to get more details in the January edition of Game Informer which is out on December 11th.

So Train2Game, what do you think about Lara Croft’s new look and the concept behind the series reboot? Is Tomb Raider still relevant? And if you could use the skills you’re developing with Train2Game to help reboot one game series, which would it be?

Let us know here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Uk Charts: Call of Duty: Black Ops regains Number 1

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops has returned to the top of the UKIE GfK Chart-Track All Formats Top 40, knocking last weeks Number 1 Gran Turismo 5 down to fourth in the process.

It’s the Activision published shooters third week at Number 1 since it was released a month ago. Call of Duty: Black Ops is still being keenly played by Train2Game students now.

EA’s FIFA 11 is still selling strongly and moves up two places to second place, while Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood holds onto third spot. Gran Turismo 5 drops to fourth place after taking pole position after its long waited release on November 23rd.

With the top four titles likely to be on some Train2Game students Christmas wish lists, will one of them take the all important Christmas number one?

Just Dance 2 is a non mover in fifth place and is tailed by the biggest mover in this weeks chart. Michael Jackson: The Experience has jumped from 38th to 6th place. That’s a rise of 32 places for the dancing game.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit drops one place to seventh while Nintendo’s Wii Party and Wii Fit plus occupy eighth and ninth spots respectively.  Professor Layton and the Lost Future rounds out the top ten having moved up one place from 11th. The Nintendo DS title pushes former number one Fallout: New Vegas down to 11th spot.

Donkey Kong Country Returns enters the chart in thirteenth place, while Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary – sure to be a favourite amongst old school Train2Game students – takes 22nd place.

The full UKIE GfK Chart-Track All Formats Top Ten for the week ending December 4th is as follows:

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision)
2. FIFA 11 (EA)
3. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft)
4. Gran Turismo 5 (Sony)
5. Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft)
6. Michael Jackson: The Experience (Ubisoft)
7. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (EA)
8. Wii Party (Nintendo)
9. Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo)
10. Professor Layton and the Lost Future (Nintendo)

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts about Call of Duty: Black Ops being back on top? Are you still playing? Or perhaps you bought it this week? Do you think Gran Turismo 5 will slowly slip down the charts?  Has anyone played Michael Jackson: The Experience?

Finally, will World of Warcraft: Cataclysm be able to take number one next week? The expansion is launched tonight.

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.