Train2Game News 343 industries and SkyBox Labs

Vancouver game development studio, SkyBox Labs, has partnered with 343 Industries on various Halo games, including Halo 5: Forge for Windows 10, the Xbox One X enhancements for Halo 5: Guardians and is currently part of the development team of Halo Infinite. Revealed at this year’s E3 Expo, Halo Infinite – the next chapter of the legendary franchise, features the return of the Master Chief.

Skybox Labs is excited to continue this partnership with 343 Industries to aid in the development of Halo Infinite, working on features across the game including AI, gameplay, networking, and cutting-edge graphics features.

“343 Industries is excited to continue our partnership with SkyBox Labs on Halo Infinite, with their team doing great work across many areas of our project.” said Chris Lee, Head of Halo FPS at 343 Industries. “We have been working closely with 343 Industries on Halo projects for a number of years, and we’re thrilled to be part of this exciting time in Halo’s history,” said Shyang Kong, Co-founder, SkyBox Labs.

“Seeing the new art style and the return of the Master Chief, combined with the technology of the Slipspace Engine, has our studio energized and focused on teaming up with our partners at 343 Industries to realize the vision of Halo Infinite,” added Steven Silvester, Co-founder, SkyBox Labs.

One of BC’s fastest growing game studios, SkyBox Labs had the largest growth among all BC game studios in 2017, almost doubling in size year over year to more than 100 team members, with most of the team working on Halo Infinite. The team’s rate of growth has continued into 2018, and the studio is actively hiring engineers, artists, and designers for Halo Infinite.

Train2Game News UK Top 20 Games – 09.11.15

cod_blackops3Call of Duty Black Ops 3 has knocked Halo 5 off the top spot with Halo hitting number four. The only other new game to enter the charts this week is the newest edition to the Need for Speed series which hits number three.

All formats
Week ending 7 November 2015

POS.  TITLE  PUBLISHER  LAST
WEEK 
1 CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III ACTIVISION
2 FIFA 16 EA SPORTS 3
3 NEED FOR SPEED EA GAMES
4 HALO 5: GUARDIANS MICROSOFT 1
5 ASSASSIN’S CREED: SYNDICATE UBISOFT 2
6 MINECRAFT: STORY MODE TELLTALE GAMES 5
7 WWE 2K16 2K 4
8 GRAND THEFT AUTO V ROCKSTAR 6
9 LEGO DIMENSIONS LEGO DIMENSIONS 9
10 CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS ACTIVISION 15
11 LEGO JURASSIC WORLD WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE 10
12 UNCHARTED: THE NATHAN DRAKE COLLECTION SONY COMPUTER ENT. 7
13 WATCH DOGS UBISOFT 8
14 MARIO KART 7 NINTENDO
15 DESTINY: THE TAKEN KING ACTIVISION 12
16 GUITAR HERO LIVE ACTIVISION 11
17 FORZA MOTORSPORT 6 MICROSOFT 13
18 SKYLANDERS SUPERCHARGERS SKYLANDERS 14
19 MINECRAFT: XBOX EDITION MICROSOFT 16
20 MINECRAFT: PLAYSTATION EDITION SONY COMPUTER ENT. 18
< previous week
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2015 UKIE Ltd

These charts cannot be reproduced either in print or online without obtaining permission from Ukie. If you wish to reproduce the charts in print or online, please contact david.smith@ukie.org.uk for the appropriate license.

Train2Game News UK Top 20 Games – 02.11.15

Halo 5In a week that surprises no one, Halo 5 Guardians has hit the number one spot this week. Further down the charts is WWE 2k16 which reaches number four with Telltales new Minecraft Story Mode just behind at number five.

All formats
Week ending 31 October 2015

POS.  TITLE  PUBLISHER  LAST
WEEK 
1 HALO 5: GUARDIANS MICROSOFT
2 ASSASSIN’S CREED: SYNDICATE UBISOFT 1
3 FIFA 16 EA SPORTS 2
4 WWE 2K16 2K SPORTS
5 MINECRAFT: STORY MODE TELLTALE GAMES
6 GRAND THEFT AUTO V ROCKSTAR 5
7 UNCHARTED: THE NATHAN DRAKE COLLECTION SONY COMPUTER ENT. 4
8 WATCH DOGS UBISOFT 12
9 LEGO DIMENSIONS LEGO DIMENSIONS 6
10 LEGO JURASSIC WORLD WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE 9
11 GUITAR HERO LIVE ACTIVISION 3
12 DESTINY: THE TAKEN KING ACTIVISION 7
13 FORZA MOTORSPORT 6 MICROSOFT 8
14 SKYLANDERS SUPERCHARGERS SKYLANDERS 14
15 CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS ACTIVISION 19
16 MINECRAFT: XBOX EDITION MICROSOFT 13
17 THE WITCHER III: WILD HUNT BANDAI NAMCO ENTERTAINMENT 15
18 MINECRAFT: PLAYSTATION EDITION SONY COMPUTER ENT. 17
19 METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN KONAMI 10
20 RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015 BIG BEN 16
< previous week
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2015 UKIE Ltd

These charts cannot be reproduced either in print or online without obtaining permission from Ukie. If you wish to reproduce the charts in print or online, please contact david.smith@ukie.org.uk for the appropriate license.

Train2Game News UK Top 20 Games – 17.11.14

Call of Duty Advanced WarfighterA wave of new big name games has just been released but none were enough to knock Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare from the top spot. Assassin’s Creed Unity sneaks in to number two and Halo: The Master Chief Collection fights its way to third. The new LEGO Batman game has swooped in to fifth with the other Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue in sixth. Finally Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 heads to eighth in the table with the new World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, battling its way to number nine.

All formats

Week ending 15 November 2014

POS.  TITLE  PUBLISHER  LAST
WEEK 
1 CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE ACTIVISION 1
2 ASSASSIN’S CREED: UNITY UBISOFT
3 HALO: THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION MICROSOFT
4 FIFA 15 EA SPORTS 2
5 LEGO BATMAN 3: BEYOND GOTHAM WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE
6 ASSASSIN’S CREED: ROGUE UBISOFT
7 MINECRAFT: PLAYSTATION EDITION SONY COMPUTER ENT. 6
8 PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2015 KONAMI
9 WORLD OF WARCRAFT: WARLORDS OF DRAENOR BLIZZARD
10 DESTINY ACTIVISION 5
11 SKYLANDERS TRAP TEAM SKYLANDERS 7
12 MINECRAFT: XBOX EDITION MICROSOFT 10
13 DISNEY INFINITY 2.0 DISNEY INFINITY 12
14 FOOTBALL MANAGER 2015 SEGA 3
15 ALIEN: ISOLATION SEGA 4
16 ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG UBISOFT 16
17 FORZA HORIZON 2 MICROSOFT 11
18 SUNSET OVERDRIVE MICROSOFT 8
19 TOMODACHI LIFE NINTENDO 19
20 WWE 2K15 2K SPORTS 13
< previous week
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2014 UKIE Ltd

These charts cannot be reproduced either in print or online without obtaining permission from Ukie. If you wish to reproduce the charts in print or online, please contact david.smith@ukie.org.uk for the appropriate license.

Train2Game News Halo 5 Multiplayer Beta

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343 has announced new details for the Halo 5: Guardians beta, which will launch in December.

The beta will contain three modes, 11 weapons, seven maps and seven armour sets. The focus is apparently on classic 4v4 arena gameplay, and the maps are thus tailored for smallscale infantry combat rather than epic battles. All players will have the same loadouts to begin with.

You’ll be able to carry over certain content from the beta to the final game.

Additionally, the beta will receive dedicated coverage on the newly announced Halo Channel, a dashboard hub for Halo multiplayer, TV programming and community features.

You can enjoy the trailer below

Train2Game News Halo 5 announced

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The next Halo game has officially been announced as Halo 5: Guardians.

“Any time you transition to a new platform, there is the opportunity to look at things with a new perspective,” wrote 343’s GM Bonnie Ross in a post over on Xbox Wire. “For us at 343 Industries, the launch of the Xbox One was an opportunity to think about what stories we wanted to tell, how to tell them, and how best to push the Halo franchise to showcase the platform. And maybe, most importantly, combining our passion for Halo with the vocal and informative input from our fans.

“Halo isn’t simply a perennial game franchise, it’s a part of the Xbox platform itself,” she continued. “In terms of innovation and ideation, it’s sometimes important to people who might not even play Halo. In the past, Halo games have pushed the Xbox forward, showcasing the console and its ecosystem in entertaining and innovative ways. Making a Halo game that runs at 60 frames per second, on dedicated servers, with the scope, features and scale we’ve been dreaming of for more than a decade, is non-trivial. It’s a task that we, at 343 Industries, are taking very seriously to ensure we deliver the Halo game that fans deserve, and a game that is built from the ground up for Xbox One.

“I’m happy to reveal that Halo 5: Guardians, the next installment in the legendary saga of the Master Chief, will launch on Xbox One in fall of 2015. In the tradition of every Halo game since its debut in 2001, it is a massive and exciting project.”

Ross promised to give further details on the game, and the Halo TV series tie-in, at the Xbox E3 Media Briefing next month in LA, but she did say that Halo 5: Guardians was “a bigger effort than Halo 4. That applies to the content and scope of the game, as well as the technology in what’s now a brand new and more powerful engine. Certainly there are some core elements carried over from prior games, but we’ve invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen.”

2015 is a bit of a way off though, so to keep us on our toes, 343 also hinted at more, “extra special” Halo news coming at E3 this year. It said that the new Halo franchise endeavors are a “journey,” and that that journey begins in 2014.

Train2Game News Microsoft announce several TV shows for Xbox

Xbox OneMicrosoft has announced no less than 12 original TV shows or features for Xbox Live, all of which “will offer interactive capabilities, as well as unique interactive features customized on a per-show basis, making it a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience you won’t find anywhere else.”

Created or overseen by the recently founded Xbox Entertainment Studios, the pickings include the previously announced Halo TV series, plus a Halo “digital feature” executive produced by Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner. There’s also a reality TV show about up-and-coming football players, a couple of shows based on famous tabletop games, and a 2015-bound Channel 4 series about machines that look like humans. It’s a bit of a spread.

In the words of Jordan Levin, executive vice president of Xbox Entertainment Studios, “creating original TV content is a logical next step in our evolution”. This echoes comments to OXM from various bigwigs on the subject last year. According to Microsoft Soho’s Rob Stevens, for example, “game developers are realising there is a big appetite for more immersive interactive content, which we have decades of invaluable experience in making with games – creating this type of content for TV gives us the ability to reach a hugely diverse array of new audiences.”

The first shows are due to screen on Xbox Live this year – Microsoft has apparently looked at hundreds more concepts, more details on those will be announced at a later date.

Train2Game News: Young Modder fulfils his Destiny

Alexander J. VelickyA young modder spent a year developing his mod for Skyrim just so that Bethesda would notice him and his hard work has paid off. He now has a job… at Bungie!

19 year-old burgeoning game developer, Alexander J. Velicky, created a mod for Skyrim called Falskaar that took him a year to develop. There’s over 25 hours of new gameplay to be found in Falskaar, with an entirely new land roughly a third the size of Skyrim’s Tamriel, new characters, dozens of new quests, new voice acting and even an original soundtrack.

Thanks to all his hard work and commitment he is now an associate designer for the people who bought you the Halo franchise, Bungie.

In a post on the Elder Scrolls forum, Velicky thanked the community for their support of his mods over the years.

“Modding has been 90% of my life for over four years now, and all throughout you were there to support me,” he said.

“From the bottom of my heart I want to thank every person who ever provided feedback on a mod, support, help, or something as simple as a ‘cant wait!’ or ‘great job.’ Every single one of you made this possible. From driving me to work throughout development, to providing astounding amounts of feedback and support to help learn and improve after releases. I owe it to all of you.

He also encourage fellow aspiring developers to chase their dreams: “Never be afraid to try”.

“I set my sights on a professional design job pretty early, I lowered my head, charged forward, and rarely looked back. Of course, I ensured what I was doing had a reasonable chance for success from time to time. But the most surprising of all, is who I’ve ended up with. I applied to many companies, and Bungie was in my, “Huge company that will completely ignore me.” category.

“Well, they didn’t and look what it got me. Bungie is an awesome company with an amazing team, and I’m very lucky that they’ve decided to give me a chance! Never be afraid to try. I spent the time it took to apply and the rewards are proving to be greater than I could have possible imagined.”

Alexander is an inspiration to all those wanting to get in to the games industry. He worked incredibly hard and is now most likely going to be working on the highly anticipated Sci-Fi adventure, Destiny.

A huge congratulations Alexander!

Train2Game News: Xbox at E3

Xbox OneE3 has begun and the first subject I will report on from the event is the Xbox E3 Conference which was on at 5:30pm GMT, yesterday.

The event began with an incredibly stunning trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain, featuring the voice of Kiefer Sutherland. The trailer displayed incredibly beautiful graphics using the Xbox One system and they are truly jaw dropping. The game play its self looks big, epic and is open world. This new adventure of snake uses interesting stealth mechanics and action to achieve your goals.

It was a beautiful start to the conference.

The rest of the conference was full of the new stunning games for the Xbox One for all audiences and fans.

There was another old favourite game returning to console market, Killer Instinct, the beat-em-up game published by Rare and Nintendo that was made popular in 1994, released as an Arcade machine, then later ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Killer instinct was displayed on stage by Double Helix Games, the creators of the reboot.

Games for the younger audience were also displayed. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition looked beautiful some how. I have no idea how the Xbox One has made simple blocks beautiful but they managed it!

One of the more interesting looking games and mechanics was that of Project Spark. You create the game world using the Kinect Voice Recognition, saying phrases such as “Woodland” and the land would be covered in Woodland. You can then go through and shape the world in a way you see fit and give inanimate objects intelligence to fill many roles. The possibilities are truly endless for the game.

Forza 5 was shown at the event and this was one of the most intelligent features I have ever seen in a game. With their feature known as “Drivatar” as you play the game, it will learn what you do and how you race, with what it learns, when you are not playing the game, your friends and people around the world can use your Drivatar to race against. In a way, there is no AI to race against, instead you race against people matched to your level so there is always a challenge through out the game. It is an incredible idea.

With it being an Xbox conference there was of course a few first person shooters.

Battlefield 4 was shown and looked absolutely beautiful, with incredible action and an exciting pace. They didn’t display any multiplayer game play however.

There was also a teaser trailer for the next Halo game that completely blew me away. As I sat there watching the trailer, trying to work out what I was seeing I was shocked and excited to see the Master Chief unveiled, that was one of the best moments of it for me.

There was several other games mentioned through the conference.

The Xbox it’s self was announced to be very heavily integrated with the Smartglass app. Using it from keeping an eye on other players stats to displaying the user interface.

The price was the biggest downfall of the console however. In the UK the console will be £429. A price many aren’t sure is worth it.

Train2Game News: Halo: Spartan Assault coming to mobile

Halo Spartan AssaultA new Halo game is being added to the franchise, this time for the mobile market. The game will be released in July.

Halo: Spartan Assault is a top-down shooter built for mobiles and tablets, with the iconic sights and sounds you would expect from a Halo title.

Spartan Assault however is only available for Windows Phone 8 and tablets such as the Surface. Dan Ayoub, the executive producer for publishing at 343, explains that the purpose here is to drive interest in these Microsoft platforms, which is pretty honest and straightforward of him.

Whether or not it’ll make you buy one of those cool Nokia phones, Spartan Assault is nevertheless a high quality experience when it rolls under your thumbs. Though it plays like it was born in the 16-bit era of top-down shooters, the presentation is excellent.

Ayoub said that his team’s main goal was to, as he puts it, “un-tether Halo”.

“We had to let it be something that you can take with you wherever you go. But we also had to make the right Halo game, we couldn’t just copy and paste the experience onto mobiles and tablets.

“We also wanted to change the dialogue about what’s possible on mobiles. A lot of people have preconceptions about what a mobile game is. They think it’s not going to look great and it’s not going to sound great. We wanted to crush those perceptions.”

The biggest achievement is the controls. Those familiar with using virtual analogues on touch-screens will notice how, due to the lack of resistance, thumbs will naturally glide away from the analogues. Spartan Assault, however, features virtual sticks that follow your thumbs, meaning that control remains on the tip of your fingers.

It’s not perfect but it’s as close as any mobile developer has come.

Other elements are more traditional. Set within a narrative that bridges the gap between Halo 3 and 4, in Spartan Assault players will command an UNSC Infinity Spartan who is limited to two weapons, an assortment of grenades and a trusty melee attack. Enemies come in waves and shields need to be recharged before the next burst of action.

Other parts are entirely new. There will be microtransactions for certain upgrades and new weapons. The game saves to the cloud, meaning you can start on mobile and continue on tablet or desktop.

The game’s 25 levels will take about several hours to get though, and certain milestones will unlock Achievements on Halo 4. This being a mobile game, post-release content is already planned, with weekly challenges in place and content add-ons penciled in.

Series custodian 343 Industries has partnered with Netherlands studio Vanguard Games to build this, which in itself is interesting as that studio was co-founded by Martin de Ronde – the man who helped establish Killzone outfit Guerrilla.

“We are a team of console developers learning a new space, so we had to unlearn things really quickly,” says Ayoub.

While it’s been a challenge for those console developers to un-think their approach to a project, what they have brought to the mobile games space is encouraging. This is an attractive, light-weight version of Halo for both commuters and hardcore fans of the series.

You can enjoy the trailer for the game below