Train2Game news: Naughty Dog want to “raise the bar” of game design with The Last of Us

Naughty Dog want to “raise the bar” for the “poor” storytelling in video games with their new title, The Last of US.

The new game from Uncharted developer Naughty Dog was revealed at last weekend’s VGAs and will be exclusive to PlayStation 3.

“We try so hard at Naughty Dog to push things,” The Last of Us Creative director and writer Neil Druckmann told Eurogamer 

“And then games come out that are fun and exciting and get visceral things right, but to read in reviews that they have an amazing story is disheartening to us because we work so hard at it.

“As critics we need to raise the bar, otherwise no-one’s going to change. We’re going to keep pushing ourselves, and kill ourselves to make this story happen – but hope that by doing it, the rest of the industry is going to take notice and try to do the same thing.”

Druckmann says that The Last of Us is a love story between father and daughter and that they’re doing it because ‘love’ isn’t something that’s often properly explored in games writing.

“We approached this genre because we felt no-one is getting to the heart of it. It tells you something about the human condition – that’s what you want to do as a storyteller.” he said

“We’re not saying every game needs a strong, compelling and dramatic story, but if you are going to make a narrative-based game then you better learn the craft.” Druckmann added.

Naughty Dog describe The Last of Us as “a genre-defining experience that blends survival and action elements to tell a character driven tale about a modern plague decimating mankind. Nature encroaches upon civilization, forcing remaining survivors to kill for food, weapons and whatever they can find. Joel, a ruthless survivor, and Ellie, a brave young teenage girl who is wise beyond her years, must work together to survive their journey across what remains of the United States.”

Train2Game blog readers can see the first trailer for The Last of Us below.

So Train2Game, what are your first impressions of The Last of Us? Is a ‘love story’ a bold move for Naughty Dog? Do you believe game writers need to raise the bar?

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

[Source: Eurogamer]

Train2Game feature: Why Baroness Susan Greenfield’s views on video games are ill-informed

Train2Game students may have seen this BBC debate last week, based around Neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield’s theory that people who play a lot of video games can have an increase in “aggression and recklessness”

Appearing on the BBC’s Daily Politics show, Greenfield was given a platform to air her views, which she herself admitted could be construed as biased…not a good way to start the basis of an argument.

“There’s an increase in aggression, increase in recklessness, high levels of arousal, decreases in pro-social behaviour. Of course this paper itself has been critiqued as biased, but that is the nature of scientific evidence, it’s very rarely the killer paper, the conclusive paper.” said the Baroness.

“As a neuroscientist, it is a given that the brain adapts to the environment, the human brain is exquisitely evolved, more than any other species, to adapt to wherever it is placed.” she continued.

“It is a given that if the environment shifts to a two dimension world, with only hearing and vision being accessed, it is a given that the brain will change. Most people accept this. The big question is it good or bad? What do we want to do about it? Lets try and unpack the important issues that come from that. But no one will dispute the plastivity of the brain.”

It’s certainly a strange point the Baroness makes. Her argument is that people change when left in a ‘two dimensional world,’ which despite here being applied to playing video games, could count towards anything: watching TV, watching a film, or even reading a book. The implication is that people who spend all their time alone playing video games will have their brains altered. If this did indeed turn out to be the case, then why isn’t Greenfield focusing the same attention on other entertainment mediums?

It was at this point in the debate that The Telegraph’s Tom Chivers attempted to add balance to the debate, but he was, arguably unfairly, cut off before Baroness Greenfield went back to speaking.

“Let’s think of two separate things. One is the anecdotal evidence, and frankly, I’ve yet to meet a parent that says ‘Do you know, it’s great that my kid spends so much time on the computer’ that’s the first thing.” she said on the BBC.  

Firstly, the use of anecdotes is hardly the sort of evidence a scientist should be using to draw conclusions, and secondly, it’s a real shame that Greenfield appears to use the debate to jump on the ‘video games are no good for children’ bandwagon.

As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, there’s evidence out there that games do help children with learning.  In this video presentation, Gabe Zichermann discusses how the use of video games and game mechanics can improve everyday life, be it learning in schools, or training in the work place.  Indeed, just lack week the Train2Game blog examined games as a learning tool in this post about the Serious Games Expo.  One particular game, Ludomedic, is an educational game for children in hospital. It’s unlikely that it’s going to cause children to become aggressive.

Of course, Ludomedic is hardly Call of Duty, but if game ratings were properly adhered to my parents, children wouldn’t be playing the 18 rated Modern Warfare 3.

Moving on from anecdotal ‘evidence’, Greenfield goes onto state that children are spending more time in front of screens. This doesn’t just include video games, but also watching TV, surfing the internet and so on.

“Second, are the statistics that are coming out. For example, a recent study in the states showed that between a child’s thirteenth and seventeenth birthdays, over half of them were spending 30 plus hours in front of a screen outside of school.” said the Baroness.

“That’s at least five hours a day not giving someone a hug, not looking someone in the eye, not talking to friends, not walking along a beach, not feeling the sun on your face. That’s the first thing.”

For starters, spending time playing games is far from the old stereotype of someone locked away in a darkened room not talking to anyone. People speak to each other online, be it talking to friends over a Call of Duty session on Xbox Live, chatting with a World of Warcraft guild, or even Train2Game students communicating with each other on the Train2Game forum.

Secondly, Greenfield’s argument that it’s time not doing other things doesn’t make much sense. No matter what a person does, it’ll be taking time away from doing something else. Going to the cinema? Well, you won’t have the sun on your face then. Are you driving somewhere? Well, you’re not giving anyone a hug.  Coming from a scientist, who we already know has an agenda against video games, it just doesn’t make sense.

Chivers once again tried to stick up for video games and the people who played them before once again being cut off by Greenfield, shortly before the debate finished. If you can call it a debate, because it hardly seemed balanced with Baroness Greenfield getting plenty of time to talk about her views while Mr. Chivers seemingly was a second thought throughout the debate.

The piece generally perceives video games and the people who play them in a negative light, something that Train2Game students and those in the wider games industry will surely object to because despite her scientific background, Baroness Greenfield doesn’t actually offer any conclusive evidence here. She doesn’t cite sources, she uses anecdotes and makes crass generalisations about the lives of people who play games.

As evident on the Train2Game forum, and throughout the Train2Game blog, the games industry is full of dynamic, creative, social people, none of whom appear to be made reckless or aggressive by the games they help produce.

Perhaps one day there will be a debate on the BBC about the benefits of playing computer games, but so long as people like Baroness Greenfield are producing reports with an anti-games agenda, it seems it won’t happen.

Stick to the Train2Game blog for more positive news about video games.

What are your thoughts? Leave them here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Gotham City Imposters beta open for registration

Train2Game students have the opportunity to get involved with the open beta for Warner Bros. multiplayer shooter Gotham City Imposters.

Gotham City Imposters is a download only FPS that pits vigilantes dressed as Batman against criminal gangs dressed up as The Joker. It’s a light-hearted multiplayer shooter that boasts massive customisation and plenty of unlockables.

The Gotham City Imposters Xbox Live and PlayStation Network beta is scheduled to begin soon, and Train2Game students who wish to be involved should register at

Those who wish to join the Gotham City Imposters beta will need to sign up for a WBID ID account before filling out a few details including whether they wish to beta test Monolith Productions multiplayer shooter on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Beta testing is an excellent way for Train2Game students, especially those on the Games QA Tester course to practice their bug hunting skills. Not only that, but in an interview with the Train2Game blog, Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars said that beta testing is potentially a way to get into the industry.

For more on the significance of beta testing to the game development process, see the Train2Game blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Gotham City Imposters? Will you apply for the beta?

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

Train2Game news: Obsidian Chief Writer on digital distribution and ‘stabbing the used game market in the heart’

Fallout New Vegas DLCTrain2Game students will be highly aware of the rise of digital distribution, and Obsidian Chief Creative Officer Chris Avellone believes digital is good for game developers and good for the games industry, especially if it can help stop second hand game sales.

Avellone has over 20 years experience of writing and designing RPGs with titles under his belt including Fallout 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2 and most recently, Fallout: New Vegas.

“I love digital distribution. For one thing, being environmentally conscious, I really appreciate that we’re not making more boxes and shipping them and creating all that waste. It’s better just to download the game through Steam and not have to have all that packaging.” he told Industry Gamers.

However, it isn’t just the green factor that Avellone sees as a positive of digitial distribution, he also believes it allows game development studios to be more flexible thanks to not having to rush towards deadlines.

“One of the things I enjoyed with Fallout: New Vegas was that digital distribution of the DLC made things more flexible in terms of getting the content done. You didn’t have to worry about production times for discs, and so you could take an extra week if you needed that to get things right.” said Avellone.

The Fallout: New Vegas writer also added, with some aggression, that digital distribution can kill off second hand games.

“Of course, one of the greatest things about digital distribution is what it does to reduce the used game market. I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart.” he said.

The Train2Game blog has previously reported on the extensive advice the game design veteran has given on getting into the games industry.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Avellone’s comments on digital distribution? Does it help game developers? And will it ‘stab’ the second hand games market?

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

[Source: Industry Gamers]

Train2Game news: Auto Club Revolution dev Eutechnyx to open London office

British racing game developer Eutechnyx are to open a new publishing office in London.  The Gateshead studio is expanding to London in order to support the launch of its next title, Auto Club Revolution, due for release in 2012.

Train2Game students may have previously seen Eutechnyx Lead Programmer Dave Hawes give advice on getting into the games industry in this Train2Game video interview.

“We’re building a dedicated publishing team to support the global launch of Auto Club Revolution in key markets around the world” said Eutechnyx COO Darren Jobling.

“Our strategy is to secure the best people from the online games industry, and London gives us great access to an amazingly rich talent pool.”

“The development team in the North East of the UK includes some of the best people in the sector, and the opening of a London office will allow us to attract the right calibre of candidate to build a team with the publishing power behind it that the game deserves.”

As reported by the Train2Game blog, Eutechnyx were recently nominated for a global award.

Train2Game students can find out more about Eutechnyx in this feature about 7 UK game studios to keep an eye on.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Eutechnyx creating jobs in London?

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


Train2Game news: UK Charts – Skyrim dethrones Modern Warfare 3

Skyrim Dragon Fight screenshotTrain2Game students have come to expect Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to be at No.1 in the charts, but this week there’s a new top dog.

It’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that tops the charts after some heavy discounting from a number of retailers, with Bethesda’s RPG being available brand new for as low as £22.49. It’s the RPGs first week at No.1.

Train2Game students may be interested in the news reported by the Train2Game blog that Skyrim mod tools are coming next month.

The rise of Skyrim means it isn’t a fifth consecutive week at No.1 for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 which slips to No.2.  Just Dance 3 moves up one to No.3, while former No.1 FIFA 12 drops two to No.4. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations drops to No.5.

EA’s Battlefield 3 climbs three to No.6, Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call for the DS claims a third week at No.7 and Saints Row The Third drops two to No.8.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception returns to the top ten at No.9 after a three week absence thanks to some discounting, while Mario Kart 7 for 3DS completes the top ten.

The UKIE Gfk Chart-Track All Formats Top 10 for the week ending 10th December 2011 is therefore as follows:

1. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision)
3. Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft)
4. FIFA 12 (Electronic Arts)
5. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (Ubisoft)
6. Battlefield 3 (Electronic Arts)
7. Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call (Nintendo)
8. Saints Row: The Third (THQ)
9. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (SCE UK)
10. Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo)

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the UK Charts this week? What does Skyrim being discounted so early say about the industry? Are you just pleased to see something new at the top?

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

Train2Game news: UKIE appoint Jo Twist as CEO

Interactive entertainment industry trade body UKIE has announced the appointment of Dr. Jo Twist as their new CEO.

Her current role is Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for education, with previous positions at the BBC including Multiplatform Editor and for BBC Entertainment and BBC Three Multiplatform Channel Editor.

“We are really excited that Jo has agreed to lead UKIE at this really exciting time in our development.” said UKIE Chairman Andy Payne.

We took our time to find the right CEO and we believe we have her. Jo’s passion for games and her background in media and commissioning content will allow us to further help UK games and interactive entertainment makers and all those involved in this industry get further political and economic traction in a connected, digital worldwide market which is teeming with exciting opportunities.” he said

“I would also like to thank especially Rob Cooper, David Yarnton, Matt Carroll, Keith Ramsdale and Ian Livingstone who have helped UKIE appoint such a great person, it was a real team effort.” Payne added.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to join the brilliant UKIE team at a time when the British interactive entertainment industry is forging its path as a global leader” Twist said if her appointment as UKIE CEO.

“UKIE has already achieved so much in bringing the potential of our games industry to the national debate, and I am hugely excited to represent its members and help shape its vision for 2012 and on. I will of course be sad to be leaving the Channel 4 Education team who continue to produce award winning and innovative interactive content for young people.”

Twist will begin her role as UKIE CEO on January 9th 2012.

As recently reported by the Train2Game blog, UKIE helped the government accept the Livingstone-Hope review and they now support the teaching of coding in schools.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the appointment of Jo Twist as UKIE CEO?

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

Train2Game news: Interesting Guardian feature on women in game development

Train2Game students should have a look at this article on the The Guardian website. Titled ‘Game changers: the women who make video games’ it features some of the best female game development talent out there and examines what can be done to get more women into the games industry.

Of course, there are plenty of women currently on Train2Game courses as we speak.

“I think young girls need to have their eyes opened to the different avenues open to them in games,” said games writer Rhianna Pratchett, who has worked on games including Heavenly Sword and Mirror’s Edge.

“They can be artists, animators, writers, designers, producers, programmers … We need to get them fired up about technology and find the Ada Lovelaces of the future. I think both the industry and the educational system have a role to play to achieve this. There are so many great female role-models within the games industry, but they rarely get the exposure they deserve.”  she added.

Rhianna Pratchett was part of BAFTA’s Games Writers Panel discussion, which recently became available to listen to via podcast. Find out how to listen to it, and see the rest of Train2Game’s BAFTA Games Writers Panel coverage, here on the Train2Game blog.

Other female game developers who feature in The Guardian article includes Deus Ex: Human Revolution co-writer Mary DeMarle, and Uncharted 3 Director Amy Hennig. The women in video games piece certainly does make interesting reading for Train2Game students.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the article? What do you think can be done to encourage more women into game development?

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

(Source: The Guardian)

Train2Game news: EA’s Peter Moore sees all digital future

Train2Game students have seen the games industry change a lot over the last few years, in part thanks to the rise of mobile and cloud based gaming, and according to EA COO Peter Moore, games companies will need to keep changing methods of operating in order to survive.

“Transitions are hard because revenue slows down and costs speed up. You’re getting ready to develop for new platforms, whether they be hardware platforms or software, and it’s getting to be even more complex now,” Moore told Industry Gamers in the latest of their ‘Better know’ interviews.

Interestingly, as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Moore has previously stated that Nintendo’s Wii U is not a transitional platform.

But he believes that developers and publishers to stick to traditional business models will find that they eventually disappear.

The companies that have prepared themselves and have diversified their offerings to chase the consumer wherever they want to play games are the companies that will succeed and thrive and flourish. Companies that continue to rely on the old model as the model changes before our eyes, unless they change their ways and invest in the future those companies eventually will die off. No two ways about it,” said Moore.

And the EA COO believes that, while physical copies of games remain strong for now, eventually we’ll be in an entirely digital industry.

“The packaged goods business, while still flourishing and strong, eventually – as we’ve seen in music and movies – will go to the cloud. It will go digital and we’ll be delivering games from the cloud and delivering games directly to hard drives and we’re still going to sell a lot of discs for the foreseeable future.”

But eventually, physical media will diminish as the core part of how gamers get their content. And we’re ready for that, but we’re also still ready to be the number one packaged goods publisher in the world.” said Moore.

“If you want to be a publisher that’s still going to be viable for the consumer 3-4 years from now, you better be ready to deliver your content anytime, anywhere and to everyone.” he added

Peter Moore has previously questioned the role of handheld consoles thanks to the rise of smartphone gaming.

So Train2Game, what do you make of Moore’s comments? Will the future be digital?

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

(Source: Industry Gamers)

Train2Game news: Nintendo deny Miyamoto “retirement” reports

Shigeru MiyamotoTrain2Game blog readers will have read news this morning that that Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto is retiring. Nintendo, however, have denied that he’ll be stepping down from his position.

The legendary game designer had told Wired he wanted to retire from his position to “be in the forefront of game development once again myself. Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers”

However, Nintendo have told MCV that Miyamoto isn’t going anywhere.

Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s role at Nintendo is not changing,” said a Nintendo spokesman. “He will continue to be a driving force in Nintendo’s development efforts.

“In discussing his priorities at Nintendo in a media interview, Mr Miyamoto explained how he is encouraging the younger developers at the company to take more initiative and responsibility for developing software. He attempted to convey his priorities moving forward, inclusive of overseeing all video game development and ensuring the quality of all products.

“Mr Miyamoto also discussed his desire to pursue fresh ideas and experiences of the kind that sparked his initial interest in video games.”

Miyamoto has previously stated how he’s keen to teach younger game developers, and as reported by the Train2Game blog, the Nintendo man wants to teach when he eventually does retire from game development.

What are your thoughts on this apparent misunderstanding?

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