Train2Game News: Jonathan Ross joins Microsoft

'The Jonathan Ross ShowMicrosoft have announced that TV presenter Jonathan Ross has been brought in to the company to be a consultant.

The announcement was made last night at an Xbox One event held last night in London, Ross will function as a consultant, advising various Microsoft teams in the UK. What projects Ross will be helping with however is yet to be announced.

“We wanted to change our thinking,” said Microsoft corporate VP Phil Harrison following the announcement.

“We wanted to do was to bring in new talent that would challenge the way we build games and the way we think about what an audience is, to think about what is entertainment, and broaden the concept of gaming to maybe blur the distinctions about what is a traditional game is and what a traditional television programme or what is a traditional linear media.”

Jonathan Ross is no stranger to the video game world having previously released Catcha Catcha Aliens on mobile devices with his own gaming company, Hotsauce.

I look forward to what Jonathan Ross will be bringing to Microsoft in the near future.

Train2Game News: Eurogamer Developer Sessions

EurogamerGamer Network announced what is being referred to as the best ever developer sessions line-up for Eurogamer Expo 2013.

This year features presentations by the studios making Watch_Dogs, Killzone: Shadow Fall, The Witcher 3 and many more blockbuster titles.

Each developer session brings visitors face to face with top game makers, who will showcase new details of their projects in development, and for the first time ever, every single session will be streamed live at http://youtube.com/eurogamer.

Microsoft’s Phil Harrison kicks off the schedule on Thursday 26th September at 12pm with an exclusive Xbox One presentation, followed by Turn 10’s Dan Greenawalt showing Forza Motorsport 5 and Guerrilla Games demoing Killzone: Shadow Fall later in the day.

Highlights on Friday include David Cage presenting Beyond: Two Souls, Techland introducing next-gen open-world zombie title Dying Light and an exclusive look at the next-generation version of FIFA 14.

Things only get better at the weekend as CD Projekt RED shows The Witcher 3, Ubisoft Montreal presents the hugely anticipated Watch_Dogs, WB Montreal talks Batman: Arkham Origins, and Eidos Montreal showcases Thief.

This year’s schedule also features more indie games than ever, including a trio of PlayStation 4 titles: Resogun from Housemarque, Wasteland Kings from Vlambeer and Velocity 2X from FuturLab. Peter Molyneux also returns to the Eurogamer Expo stage to talk about Project Godus.

The full session schedule can be found at http://www.eurogamerexpo.com/whats-on/schedule

Each session will last around 35 minutes and in addition to hundreds of seats in the main auditorium, this year organisers have introduced an overflow area where attendees can watch the sessions in comfort, recharge phones and meet friends.

Eurogamer Expo 2013 (#EGX) takes place at Earls Court, London, from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th September. Tickets have now completely sold out, with over 70,000 gamers expected to attend.

Train2Game News: Xbox One Self Publishing

Xbox OneMicrosoft have finally clarified their self publishing plans for the Xbox One, allowing developers to create, sell and market games through the new home console.

All developers accepted for the scheme will receive two Xbox One development kits free of charge, as well as access to the full range of services on offer to games development teams – cloud services, Kinect and the Xbox One toolset, which includes Smartglass, multiplayer, Achievements and Gamerscores.

Applications for the self-publishing service, named ID@Xbox, are being accepted from today, with Microsoft stating that priority will be given to developers with a proven track record in shipping games on console, mobile, PC or tablets and there are no application fees for certification or for title updates.

In order to help with the discoverability issues that trouble all self-publishing stores, Microsoft is promising that all games will feature in the regular Xbox One store and be supported by voice search.

On top of that the store will also feature trending games reflecting what the community and friends are playing, recommendations based on a consumer’s playing habits, spotlighted games and the ability for developers to set community challenges, as well as support the Xbox One’s Game DVR and Upload services.

Phil Harrison, corporate vice president at Microsoft Europe’s interactive entertainment business, revealed that Microsoft will set the price of self-published games after developers have established their wholesale price and that developers are likely to receive an industry standard 70/30 split in their favour.

“The developer can set their own wholesale price and we act as the retailer. So Xbox Live acts as a reseller, and Xbox Live Store will be setting the ultimate retail price to the consumer. That’s the way in which our store has always been structured,” he said.

Independent developers who have already given their support to Microsoft’s new initiative include Chris Hecker, The Behemoth’s John Baez, Paul Wedgewood from Splash Damage, Other Ocean’s Mike Mika, Team 17’s Debbie Bestwick, The Odd Gentlemen’s Matt Korab, Ripstone’s Phil Gaskel and Dlala Studios.

Microsoft has said that eventually it hopes that every Xbox One will become a development kit for self-publishing purposes.

If you are interested in signing up for this you can do so by visiting http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/developers/id

Train2Game News: Xbox One revealed

Xbox OneThe big news from yesterday evening was that the next generation Xbox was revealed, the Xbox One. Train2Game has written up a round up of the features on the new system.

The console is shaped in the 16:9 aspect ratio and employs a horizontal orientation optimized for its high-speed Blu-ray disc player. It is moulded in a deep and rich liquid black colour and includes a distinctive bevelled edge.

The completely redesigned, revolutionary 1080p Kinect is more precise, more responsive and more intuitive. Its unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology let you reach into games and entertainment like never before by dramatically expanding its field of view and fidelity. It works in nearly any lighting condition, recognizes precise motion control from a slight wrist rotation, and distinguishes your voice even in a noisy room using advanced noise isolation.

The Xbox controller is refreshed with more than 40 technical and design innovations. Updated directional pad, thumb stick and ergonomic fit immerse all gamers in ways that are uniquely Xbox, and precision and control have been dramatically increased with all new vibrating impulse triggers. The Xbox One Wireless Controller is designed to work in concert with the new Kinect, allowing the two to be paired automatically to create seamless player syncing.

With Xbox One, games push the boundaries of realism and your TV obeys your commands. Say “Xbox On” to launch your personalized Xbox One Home screen, discover what is popular on TV or see friends’ latest gaming achievements all using the most natural interface — your voice. The more you interact with Xbox One, the more it gets to know you and learns what you like. Some of the breakthrough Xbox One features that put you at the centre of your living room entertainment include the following:

TV on Xbox One Navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your Xbox One. Microsoft is committed to bringing live TV through various solutions to all the markets where Xbox One will be available

Home Turn on your entertainment system with two powerful words, “Xbox On,” and a custom-tailored Home dashboard welcomes you with your favorite games, TV and entertainment.

Snap Do two things at once on the biggest screen in your home. Use Snap to jump into a multiplayer battle while watching your favourite movie, talk with friends on Skype while watching live TV, or track your fantasy team on TV as you watch the big game and more.

Skype for Xbox One Specially designed for Xbox One, talk with friends on your TV in stunning HD, or for the first time ever, hold group Skype calls on your TV.

Trending Stay on top of what is hot on TV by discovering the entertainment that is popular among your friends, and see what is trending within the Xbox community.

OneGuide Find your favorite entertainment easily, searching by network, name or time, all with the sound of your voice and presented in a tailored program guide.

To create the most advanced Xbox system ever designed for games, TV and entertainment, Microsoft created a state-of-the-art gaming operating system and fused it with an equally amazing entertainment platform, so you will not have to switch inputs to watch TV or play a game. An eight-core, x86 processor and more than 5 billion transistors helps make lag and load times a thing of the past, so you can instantly jump between a game and your entertainment at lightning speed or run a host of apps right alongside your game with no loss in performance.

Xbox One is built to amplify an all-new generation of Xbox Live that is more powerful, more personal and more intelligent. Unleashing the virtually unlimited power of the cloud makes everything more convenient and accessible, from allowing games to be installed in segments so that gameplay can start quickly to updates downloading in the background. Save and store your personalized profile, games and entertainment in the cloud to access them anytime, from any Xbox One console.4 In addition, existing Xbox Live Gold Membership for Xbox 360 will seamlessly carry over to Xbox One.

Xbox Live takes you deeper into the games you love with all-new features:

Smart Match A new Smart Match matchmaking system virtually eliminates waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding people you want to play with while you are enjoying other activities — reputation fundamentally matters and helps find best matches.

Game DVR A dedicated Game DVR captures and accesses your magic moments, all saved to the cloud. Along with sharing tools, you will have the most amazing bragging rights with Xbox Live.

Living Games Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and advanced artificial intelligence can learn to play like you, so friends can play against your shadow.

Expanded achievements A new and expanded achievements system captures video of your epic moments, continues to grow a game’s achievements over time and rewards you in new ways, and your Gamerscore carries over from Xbox 360.

Xbox SmartGlass Xbox SmartGlass is natively part of the Xbox One platform, built in from the beginning with the ability to quickly render content directly onto your device, and now more devices can connect at one time for multiplayer and shared entertainment.

Microsoft have also confirmed that all Xbox One games will require mandatory installation on the system’s hard drive. To install the same disc on another Xbox Live user’s drive, a fee must be paid.

Microsoft exec Phil Harrison elaborated in an Xbox One interview with CVG that players who activate a pre-owned retail disc will need to pay the same price as the original buyer in order to access its content.

Microsoft later added that it is “designing the new console to enable customers to trade in and resell Xbox One games”, but the company’s not yet ready to share details on how this process will work.

Sadly, yet understandably with it’s new drive, Xbox One won’t be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games.

To put to rest one of the rumours in the lead up to the console, there is no sweeping mandatory always-online requirement for Xbox One games. However, Harrison suggested that Xbox One will require an internet connection once every 24 hours.

Following the reveal event, a number of UK retailers kicked off Xbox One pre-orders. Zavvi has predicted an Xbox One price of £400 and release date November 30.

Train2Game News: Microsoft opening doors to new Windows 8 games studio

Following the weekend’s world record-breaking Game Jam, Microsoft is making more waves in the UK games industry.

Microsoft is opening their fourth studio in London dedicated to developing games for Windows 8 phones and tablets. The other Microsoft studios in London are Rare, Lionhead and Soho Productions.

The new studio will be headed by Lee Schuneman, current production director of Rare. He will report to Phil Harrison, corporate vice president of the interactive entertainment business in Europe. Schuneman was behind Kinect Sports, the Xbox 360 avatars, Fable: The Journey and the Sky TV app.

Schnueman said “I’m hugely excited by this new venture.

“Adding a fourth UK-based studio to the incredible roster of talent already in place not only increases our regional studio presence, but will allow Microsoft Studios to explore the many creative and business opportunities that developing new games and entertainment experiences on Windows 8 tablet devices and platforms will afford.”

The Windows 8 operating system was put to the test for games development by the students at the world record winning Game Jam at the weekend. The students proved that Windows 8 had a good diversity with all the different games they put together in 48 hours.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sung the praises of Windows 8.

Ballmer said “Windows 8 is going to do great.

“I’m not paid to have doubts. I don’t have any. It’s a fantastic product… people talk about “how healthy is the PC market?” There’s going to be close to 400 million PCs sold in the next year, which makes it a big market. And whether it’s 405 million or 395 million, it’s a big market, and Windows 8 will propel that volume.”

Train2Game news: Former Sony Exec Phil Harrison joins Microsoft

Train2Game Blog readers will have seen that Peter Molyneux left his positions at Microsoft last week, but the Xbox 360 manufacturers have moved quickly to announce a new employee,  former Sony Executive Phil Harrison.

Harrison has over 25 years worth of experience in the games industry, who has spent a large portion of his career with Sony. Among other things, it was Harrison who discovered Media Molecule, this securing LittleBigPlanet as a PlayStation exclusive title. He also championed Killzone, SingStar and EyeToy.

His new role will involve mobile and social elements and growing Xbox developments in Europe, in addition to overseeing UK developers Lionhead, Soho Productions and Rare.

“I am excited to be joining the senior team at Microsoft at a pivotal time for our industry,” said Harrison. “

I am really impressed with the company’s long-term vision for growing the market for interactive entertainment globally and also with the incredible wealth of talent, technology and resources the company has available to succeed.”

President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Businesses, Don Mattrick, welcomed Harrison on board.

“Phil has played an instrumental role in shaping modern console history through his keen insights into both hardware and software strategy,” he said.

His addition to our leadership team will impact our global business in innumerable ways, as he aligns our studio development and growing portfolio of entertainment experiences in Europe to drive our continued growth worldwide.” Mattrick added.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on former Sony executive Phil Harrison joining Microsoft?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Major Nelson]