Train2Game News 17th GDC Awards

Organizers of the 17th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, the premier accolades for peer recognition celebrating the industry’s top games, studios and developers, will recognize Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games and creator of ZZT, Unreal and Unreal Engine, with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 
Sweeney will be honored at the Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony, taking place on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 at 6:30pm at the San Francisco Moscone Center during the 2017 Game Developers Conference, and in conjunction with the Independent Games Festival (IGF). The ceremonies are available to attend for all GDC 2017 pass-holders and will be livestreamed on the GDC’s official Twitch channel at www.twitch.tv/gdc

Sweeney founded seminal shareware game publisher Epic MegaGames in 1991, and the release of its first product, ZZT, led to an explosion of user-created worlds. ZZT has become so beloved as a game/application that it recently led to a full-length book dissection – in the Boss Fight Books series – of the games and culture it created. An expanded Epic MegaGames also released titles such as Jazz Jackrabbit, Epic Pinball and Tyrian in the ‘90s as a leader in the PC shareware space.

While serving as the founder and CEO of a renamed Epic, Sweeney was the main architect of the first-generation Unreal Engine. This game engine was originally created for the 1998 PC game Unreal. But it became the underpinning for a slew of acclaimed games, initially in the Unreal franchise and increasingly licensed outside of Epic, including the BioShock series, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed, and the Batman: Arkham series.

Sweeney also worked to make the Unreal Engine extensible via UnrealScript, a spiritual successor to his object-oriented scripting language for ZZT. This simple way for non-coders to get complex creations made easily led to extensive and creative player modding of games – one of the earliest blossoming of user-generated content. 

But it also led to easier adaptations of the engine – which has now had four major iterations – to other games. These include Epic’s own titles such as Gears of War, Paragon and Fortnite, as well as notable independently created games such as Rocket League, Abz û, Astroneer and ARK: Survival Evolved. The engine is now being adapted by non-game development teams across the automotive, aviation, architecture, VR/AR, complex data visualization and film sectors.

Sweeney joins the roster of previous Lifetime Achievement Award recipients which includes Todd Howard, Shigeru Miyamoto, Warren Spector, John Carmack, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Hideo Kojima, Sid Meier, Ken Kutaragi, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Peter Molyneux, among others.

Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement award are chosen by the Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee, which includes notable game industry leaders such as Mark Cerny (Cerny Games), Doug Lombardi (Valve), Angie Smets (Guerrilla Games), Amir Rao (Supergiant Games) and Jade Raymond (Electronic Arts).

For more information about the 17th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, visit: http://www.gamechoiceawards.com/ 

Train2Game News Micro Machines returns to home consoles

Codemasters & Koch Media today announced that legendary gaming franchise, Micro Machines, will be racing its way on to PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One and Windows PC on 21st April 2017. 
Micro Machines World Series retains the manic social gameplay of the classic series, updated with stunning HD visuals that will see you return to the garden, kitchen, workshop and many more great locations in an array of amazing miniature vehicles.

In addition to classic game modes such as Race and Elimination, Micro Machines World Series introduces all new Battle Arenas which allow you to wreak mass destruction on a miniature scale against your friends or the AI.  Meanwhile, Team play lets you work together using your vehicles’ unique skills in modes such as “Capture the Flag” and “King of the Hill.”

Designed around fun gameplay at every turn, Micro Machines World Series is the ultimate pick up and play experience for players of all ages and abilities, offering intuitive, easy to learn controls that make the controller impossible to put down.

Codemasters’ VP Publishing, Jonathan Bunney, commented: “The original Micro Machines was a breakthrough multiplayer racing game and remains much loved in the gaming community.  We saw great success earlier this year with our free-to-play mobile game but this brand new console title takes the franchise to its greatest levels of multiplayer mayhem and enables you to play with your friends on the same sofa or across the world.”

Bunney continued: “Whether you’ve been playing Micro Machines since the early days or are new to the craziness of racing and battling vehicles across household environments, this incredibly fun experience is a welcome break from all the serious multiplayer alternatives. With the support of Hasbro and being able to feature some of their biggest brands, such as HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS, G.I. JOE, OUIJA and NERF, this represents the very best of social gaming.”

Releasing on 21st April 2017, Micro Machines World Series will support up to 12 players online and four players on the same screen across a variety of racing and battling environments.  Each of the 12 vehicles has its own unique load-out of weapons and abilities and the game will launch with a massive range of customization options.

Train2Game News New Fire Emblem

Nintendo surprised Fire Emblem fans today via a Nintendo Direct announcement with the news that multiple games from the hit strategy-RPG franchise are in development. 

These include a new game for smart devices, two games for Nintendo Switch and multiple games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. There’s no question that this is by far the most fiery, most emblematic Nintendo Direct ever.

“In recent years, the popularity of the Fire Emblem franchise has grown exponentially,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The devoted fan base and series newcomers alike will soon have an abundance of new games to play on a variety of devices. There’s never been a better time to be a Fire Emblem fan or jump in for the first time.”

Below is a sampling of the news that Nintendo announced today. To view the Nintendo Direct video in its entirety, visit http://nintendo.com/nintendo-direct.

    -Fire Emblem Heroes comes to smart devices: Nintendo launches its next adventure when Fire Emblem Heroes arrives soon on mobile. For detailed information about release timings by platform, please check https://fire-emblem-heroes.com. Fire Emblem Heroes is an original strategy RPG about two warring kingdoms in a bitter clash. As a summoner, players build their army by calling upon popular Fire Emblem heroes from worlds that span the breadth of the series. 

Players will wage tactical battles streamlined for on-the-go play and level up a mix of new combatants and legendary heroes. Some familiar hero characters will become allies, while others will become enemy generals. Players can enjoy the full majesty of tactical role playing on bite-sized maps designed to fit nicely on a smartphone screen, even when playing in short bursts. Players lead their armies with easy touch-and-drag controls, including the ability to attack by simply swiping an ally hero over an enemy. If they manage to defeat every enemy on a given map, victory will be theirs. 

The heroes are depicted in new art hand-drawn by a variety of illustrators, and their voices have been newly recorded. Beyond the main story mode, players can engage in other modes to strengthen their army or to compete against others. Free and timely updates will add new characters and content for additional hours of gameplay as well. Fire Emblem Heroes will be available as a free download with optional in-app purchases available. Visit the Fire Emblem Heroes website for details about pre-registration.

        -To prepare for the launch of Fire Emblem Heroes, today Nintendo kicks off the Fire Emblem Heroes: Choose Your Legends event. Fans can visit https://events.fire-emblem-heroes.com/ vote to browse through characters from the Fire Emblem franchise and select the ones they’d like to see make an appearance in Fire Emblem Heroes. The global community’s top-ranked hero and heroine will then be featured in Fire Emblem Heroes as Choose Your Legends event characters. Nintendo Account holders will receive a Platinum point bonus for voting.

    -Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia: In 1992, the second game in the Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem Gaiden, launched exclusively in Japan. Now, for the first time, fans outside of Japan will get a taste of this classic game on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is inspired by the 1992 original, reimagined on a grander scale. Every aspect of the Fire Emblem Gaiden game’s presentation has been updated, along with the game being fully voiced. 

-Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia recreates classic Fire Emblem gameplay with a modern twist, mixing in exploration of dungeons crawling with enemies. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia will launch on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems May 19. Characters from the game, Alm and Celica, will be available as amiibo figures in a two-pack, also on May 19.

    -Fire Emblem meets KOEI TECMO GAMES’ Warriors series: Fire Emblem Warriors is coming to both the Nintendo Switch and New Nintendo 3DS systems, which includes New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL. It’s being developed by the team that created Hyrule Warriors, and is scheduled to launch this fall.

    -Fire Emblem is coming to Nintendo Switch: For the first time since Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on the Wii console in 2007, a new mainline game in the series is being developed for a Nintendo home system, with the ability to also be played on the go! The new game is scheduled to launch in 2018. Nintendo Switch goes on sale March 3 at a suggested retail price of $299.99, and lets players take their home games with them wherever they go (games sold separately).

Train2Game News Injustice 2 Story Trailer

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment revealed the Official Injustice™ 2 Story Trailer – “The Lines are Redrawn.” 
Witness the story set in motion in Injustice™: Gods Among Us as new DC characters join the fight and shape the actions that unfold in the upcoming sequel. Injustice™ 2  will release for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One in the UK on the 19th of May 2017.

To watch the official Injustice™ 2 Story Trailer, please visit the WB Games UK YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/9hklKfEEsxc.

Injustice™ 2  is NetherRealm Studios’ super-powered sequel to the hit game Injustice™: Gods Among Us that allows players to build and power up the ultimate version of their favourite DC characters. 

Featuring a massive selection of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains, Injustice™ 2  continues the epic cinematic story introduced in Injustice™: Gods Among Us as Batman and his allies work towards putting the pieces of society back together while struggling against those who want to restore Superman’s™ regime.  In the midst of the chaos, a new threat appears that will put Earth’s existence at risk. 

For more information and to pre-order the game, visit www.injustice.com, and join the Injustice™ 2 conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/injusticegame) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/injusticegame).

Train2Game News GameBlast17 

Gamers’ charity SpecialEffect have set the countdown clock running for GameBlast17, the UK’s biggest charity gaming weekend.
The event, held over the weekend of 24-26 February, aims to raise £100,000 to support the work of the charity in helping people with disabilities to access and benefit from video games.

Over 100 individuals and teams of gamers from around the world have already signed up to fundraise through their own gaming marathons and gaming events during the three days.

Many major names in the video games industry are backing the event, including GAME, Multiplay, Twitch, FACEIT, Insert Coin and ukie, alongside a host of eSports teams, streamers and studios.

GAME are planning a 24-hour livestream event from their headquarters and will also be running a number of fundraising initiatives via their UK stores. Other planned activities include charity streams from Ripstone Games, Wired Productions and even a 72 hour Zeldathon.

“We can’t wait for GameBlast17” said Tom Donegan, the charity’s Events Coordinator.

“It’s incredible to see how the event has grown over the past four years. The funds raised will enable us to help more like John (http://bit.ly/2gDZxF4), who never thought he’d be able to play video games again because his condition stopped him using a standard controller.”

“GameBlast17 is an opportunity to bring people together to do what they love and level the playing field for people with disabilities at the same time.”

“This is the ideal time to sign-up and start planning your event, and we’re inviting everyone from the global gaming community and industry to join us.”

More details about GameBlast17 can be found at https://www.gameblast17.com or on Twitter @gameblast2017

Train2Game News British eSports Association Board and Website

T​he British Esports Association (British Esports) – the UK’s esports national body – established to support, promote and instil good governance for amateur esports players and teams – confirms its Advisory Board and launches its full website.
Led by British Esports Chair, Andy Payne OBE, the board for 2017 includes:
    Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner, Veteran Esports Host, Caster and Presenter
    Richard Lewis, Esports Journalist of the Year
    Michael “ODEE” O’Dell, President Team Dignitas
    Craig “Wizzo” Fletcher, Founder Multiplay
    Chris Mead, Twitch’s UK Director of Partnerships
    Ryan Hart, World Champion Esports Player
    Ceirnan “ Excoundrel ” Lowe, Colour Caster
   Josh Williams, Founder, National University Esports League  
    Carleigh Morgan, Academic
    Andrew Nixon, Partner at Sheridans

The board, which possess a wealth of experience across all aspects of esports and are some of the leading figures within the industry, will discuss developments and areas of focus for the British Esports Association, and offer their guidance and advice to constantly develop esports in the UK. The first board meeting will take place in January 2017 and each member will sit on the board for a minimum of 12 months.

“I am really proud and honoured to be taking this role on for British Esports at such an exciting time for the industry. We have assembled a really talented group of esports professionals to interact with the community and guide our activities. There is much to do, but given the talent assembled, we will be able to make a significant difference over the coming 12 months, bring it on.” commented Andy Payne.

The brand new website www.britishesports.org will be an information hub, providing expert advice and support from grassroots levels and up, across the esports spectrum. There will be articles educating about jobs in the industry, to wellbeing, guidance for parents, to finding out the latest esports events, who are the event organisers, key figures in the industry and how to get involved in competition both locally and nationally here in the UK plus much more. British Esports wants to help existing gamers and nurture future British talent in becoming global champions.

Train2Game News VR audience survey

Steel Media has completed a survey of its audience on new specialist VR site TheVirtualReport.biz. 
Highlights of the report have been provided ahead of the report’s full release alongside Steel Media’s flagship event in London. The biggest mobile gaming conference in Europe, Pocket Gamer Connects London, takes place 16-17th January 2017 and incorporates VR Connects, a dedicated area for the VR industry.

The survey highlights provide key insight into the future of this rapidly expanding sector. The VR and AR industry is looking forward to 2017 despite some apprehensions. Over 62% predicted a positive or very positive outlook for VR this year. Only 16.13% had doubts due to Brexit. Adoption of the latest tech is being fuelled by indie developers working with VR and AR, but the industry is calling on government to safeguard its future.

Lack of investment in UK, or a skills shortage, were considered the two most likely threats to the VR business caused by Brexit. Uncertain consumer interest in VR was considered the biggest current threat generally, said 60% of those who took part. Government investment in tech R&D was the biggest factor which 46% of those surveyed thought would help the UK stay at the forefront of VR development.

Many of those surveyed have yet to release a VR product, almost 50% have been operating for under two years and most have under $20,000 in development budget. Of those that disclosed their expectations, the majority expected their 2016 profits to be 5% or less, although almost 34% expected this to be more than 2015.

There are key hardware players at the forefront of VR and AR who respondents are working with. HTC Vive, with 63%, was seen as most important, closely followed by Oculus Rift with 55%. Mobile VR also featured significantly, with Google’s platforms Android/Daydream (53%) and Samsung Gear VR (52%) taking the third and fourth slots.

117 VR industry professionals took part in the survey, Developers were the largest group who took part at 55%. The majority of those surveyed were from: Europe (41%), UK (16%) and US and Canada (26%).

Chris James, Managing Director, Steel Media:  “The games industry in the UK is vital to the British economy. Mobile continues to be a successful business area. And our research now shows that developers see huge potential in VR and AR. It’s interesting that any doubt in 2016 came not from Brexit but from the need for education and investment. We’ve launched our new event VR Connects alongside our hugely successful mobile event, and continue to grow our website TheVirtualReport.biz, to support this growing sector. This is just the beginning!”

The survey took place on the TheVirtualReport.biz, giving insight from VR professionals operating in the games industry. The survey was completed in tandem with a survey of the mobile games industry on PocketGamer.biz. The full results of both surveys will be available online to coincide with the launch of the biggest mobile gaming industry event in Europe,

Pocket Gamer Connects London, and its sister event VR Connects London, take place on the 16th and 17th of January at The Brewery on Chiswell Street. Some tickets to the event are still available at the time of writing. Over 74% of people surveyed said they considered networking opportunities to be the deciding factor on whether to attend an event or not; for this reason PG Connects and VR Connects has a dedicated Pitch & Match meeting system, two SpeedMatch sessions, the Very Big Indie Pitch and VR Indie Pitch for showcasing projects and more, including the hugely popular Global Connects party.

More information can be found at http://www.vr-connects.com/london and http://www.pgconnects.com/london

Train2Game News No Camera Motion Controller VR

​Finch, a virtual reality startup, will showcase their Mobile VR Kit based on No-Camera Motion Controller at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Finch has designed the Shift as the first no-camera motion controller to bring exceptional VR experience to smartphone owners. Shift matches the functionality of the best motion controllers for Oculus and HTC Vive without the need for external cameras and wires. By the end of 2017, Finch is aiming to add inside-out room scale tracking by smartphone camera and will have at least 50 mobile VR multiplayer apps compatible with Finch Shift.

The controller employs modified IMU sensors to determine real-time hands’ position with sub-centimeter accuracy and a 360-degree tracking range. Coupled with the ‘PC-to-mobile’ streaming software, it allows running existing Steam VR, Oсulus and HTC Vive apps and games on smartphones. The Finch Shift will also allow mobile gamers to interact in virtual reality through a multiplayer option.

Finch Shift’s Developer’s Kit, priced at $179, includes the sets for both hands, SDK/API, accessories, three demo games and the streaming software pack. The DK1 will be shipped in February 2017. The consumer version will hit the market in the second half of 2017 after Finch’s Kickstarter campaign this spring.

“We believe that Finch Shift VR Kit will accelerate consumers’ interest to virtual reality in the near future. The main reasons for slow market expansion have been limited functionality and low quality of content for mobile VR, and prohibitive costs of high-end hardware. With the Shift Kit, anyone who has a decent smartphone can play the best virtual reality games from SteamVR and mobile VR app stores. Plus, you can share the fun with your friends, just like you do it with console gaming,” said the company’s CEO Alexey Kartashov.

In spite of billions of dollars invested in virtual reality startups, current market demand for VR gadgets is significantly below earlier predictions. The industry experts see the mobile VR segment as the key to the doors to virtual reality consumer adoption. Tractica researchers forecast global sales of smartphone-powered VR devices to reach 323 million units between 2015 and 2021. However, lack of natural input devices and other challenges with quality of mobile VR experience have been serious roadblocks to the mobile VR sector growth.

The Finch team believes that it has found a solution to the problem. By combining existing high- quality content with affordable devices, they hope to introduce the exciting world of virtual reality to millions of smartphone owners around the globe.  The attendees of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month will have an opportunity to try Finch Shift in action at the Augmented Reality Marketplace (Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall 2, booth 26737).

Finch Shift website: www.finch-shift.com .

Train2Game News Mega Man Mobile

Capcom, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games today announced that it will be bringing the six original 8-bit Mega Man® games to iOS and Android devices in early January, just missing the Blue Bombers birthday by a few weeks. 
This is the first time all six of the original 8-bit Mega Man games have been made available on smart devices, 29 years since Mega Man first exploded onto the console scene.

These lovingly-crafted adaptations will remind long-time fans and introduce newcomers to what made the Blue Bomber such a popular and iconic character.  Each game has been optimized for the mobile devices with adjustments to game speed.  Each game will be available separately for $1.99.

The Games Releasing Include:

     Mega Man® Mobile – The evil Dr. Wily must be stopped in this classic action platformer, the original Mega Man!

    Mega Man® 2 Mobile- Dr. Wily resurfaces to threaten the world again! Only Mega Man can stand in his way.

    Mega Man® 3 Mobile – Fight berserk robots on uncharted planets. Mega Man must set a course for space to resolve this mysterious crisis.

    Mega Man® 4 Mobile – A year has passed since Mega Man’s battle in space. A new enemy appears – Dr. Cossack.

    Mega Man® 5 Mobile – Manic robots cause chaos in the city. How is Proto Man involved? Only Mega Man can find out!

    Mega Man® 6 Mobile – The Global Robot Alliance is formed, but this newfound peace is threatened by a new foe – the enigmatic Mr. X!

To pre-register or for additional information, please visit:

http://www.us.capcommobile.com/mega-man
https://www.facebook.com/megaman

Train2Game News eSports VR Game 

Seattle-based Drifter Entertainment has announced that is has raised $2.25 million in seed funding to continue and bolster development of its virtual reality e-sports games. 
Drifter founders Ray Davis, Kenneth Scott, and Brian Murphy have spent their careers building platforms including HoloLens, Oculus Rift, Xbox One, and Unreal Engine 4, as well as games such as Gears of War, Doom 3, Halo 4, and Bullet Train.

The investment has been led by the highly regarded VC firm, Signia Venture Partners.  Signia has previously invested in Alibaba, Boxed, Playdom, Adify, and Flycast Communications. The firm’s other gaming investments include Super Evil Mega Corp and Phoenix Labs.  Signia partner, Sunny Dhillon, will be joining Drifter’s board as a result of the investment.  “You rarely come across a founder like Ray with the technical and creative chops found in very few gaming company founders. We’re excited to build market defining virtual reality games with Team Drifter,” says Sunny Dhillon.

Another major investment comes from Initialized Capital, which has been among the first checks invested in billion dollar companies like Instacart, Cruise, and Zenefits. “We’re looking for foundational companies and this is our first VR bet, because this is the first time we saw something in the space that really felt like it could be a major level up in gaming,” said General Partner and cofounder, Alexis Ohanian (also: cofounder, Reddit).

Additional investors in Drifter to date include Presence Capital, The VR Fund, Pathbreaker Ventures, and Anorak Ventures.

“We’re thrilled and humbled by the support we’ve received from our investors, both financial and otherwise,” says Drifter’s Ray Davis, who most recently served as general manager for Unreal Engine 4, following his time at Microsoft on the HoloLens project. “We feel incredibly lucky to have found the right partners that not only want us to succeed, but clearly understand our vision for the future of VR gaming.”

“The titles we’re working on are ambitious experiences designed for a new medium, and knowing that we’ll have the capital to see them through is certainly empowering,” says Murphy, who helped launch the Xbox One, Kinect, and HoloLens while working for Microsoft over the course of the last decade. His most recent project was helping to create the virtual travel experience Holo Tour for HoloLens. The studio’s third cofounder, Kenneth Scott, has worked as an art director for some 20 years in AAA game development, including id Software and Microsoft Game Studios on the Halo franchise. He’s spent the last two years building conversion on contact content at Oculus.

For more information on Drifter, please visit: http://driftervr.com