Train2Game News 1000+ devs sign anti abuse letter

Peace GamingSeveral developers have signed a letter in an attempt to put an end to anti social behaviour on social media in gaming communities.

EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Guerrilla, Epic, Crystal Dynamics, Deep Silver, Double Fine, Lionhead, Bohemia, Blizzard, Infinity Ward, TellTale, Disney, PopCap, Harmonix, Traveller’s Tales, Sony, 2K, DICE, Google, Riot and Apple – as well as dozens of independent developers – are already signed up in an attempt to make the internet a place where your views can be heard without your personal character being attacked.

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish,” the letter reads.

“If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or Reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites. If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.”

You can read the full letter and all who have signed it here.

Train2Game News: Mid-week round up – 12.12.12

The Train2Game blog has once again been searching the internet and has found some of the biggest news from across the week.

The Rapid2D engine has gone live as of yesterday following its demonstration at the Evolve conference in London. Rapid2D is designed to help developers create apps for PC, tablet and Windows Phone 8 through the Windows 8 Marketplace. The engine uses C++ for scripting, and includes features such as physics, visual effects, sound particle systems, collision control and animated sprites. As well as the free version of Rapid2D, there will also be extra add-ons, upgrades and a pro-version available to developers.

Randy Pitchford, one of the developers behind Borderlands 2 has confirmed that there will be a new character class coming as DLC. Mr Pitchford previously said it was unlikely because of the amount of extra work the Mechromancer class took. The news was revealed after someone tweeted the developer saying “My mate says you won’t” to which Randy replied, “yes – we’re working on another character.” It’s as simple as that.

PopCap, the team behind hit casual games such as Plants v Zombies has announced that they are now working on a AAA title. The news comes following a tweet and job posting from PopCap. The game is a console game, inspired by Team Fortress 2. The job posting confirms that the game will use the Frostbite 2 engine, which is becoming more and more popular.

The final issues of PSM3 and Xbox World have gone on sale today. One of the many features in the last PSM3 magazine is a feature written by editor Dan Dawkins talking about the making of’ PSM3, office secrets, the highs and lows, how things have changed and how the future looks. Meanwhile Xbox World rounds up the biggest, loudest, saddest, funniest, most shocking moments in Xbox history and gives GTA5, arguably the biggest Xbox game of 2013, one final, epic preview.

Rovio has announced plans to release an Angry Birds feature film in the summer of 2016 and it will be in 3D so you can feel what those bad piggies go through. Despicable Me producer John Cohen has signed on as producer for the CG-animated movie, while David Maisel, former chairman of Marvel Studios and executive producer of Iron Man, will serve as executive producer. The movie will be produced and financed by Rovio outside of the studio system, allowing the Finnish company to retain full creative control of the project. Over 100 billion Angry Birds games have been downloaded since the games début in 2009.

Train2Game news: PopCap provide advice on becoming a better game designer

Train2Game game designers should definitely have a look the latest article in Develop Online’s ‘New Year, New Job’ feature, as social game developer PopCap provides advice on how to be a better game designer.

PopCap are responsible for a huge number of games including Plants vs. Zombies, Bejewled and Peggle, and the guide to becoming a better game designer comes from their Senior Designer Dave Bishop. Check out his advice below.

1. Look at/play as many games as you can; not just ones you would naturally gravitate towards.

2. Circulate your thoughts/findings/learnings, especially  where you believe a game breaks new ground and/or does something particularly well – or badly – where lessons can be learnt.

3. Publish the above on your own design related, blog.

4. Organise/run board game evenings (and make sure you play King of Tokyo J)

5. Look for any way to get/be involved in the creative process – ask to be invited to/included in brainstorm and design review sessions. Do your homework so you are well placed to contribute in a meaningful and ‘memorable’ fashion.

6. If already in a design team then offer to help/support/review the design work of your peers.

7. Study design trends and best practices, especially in emerging areas such as social gaming, and position yourself as the company’s expert in one or more of these specific areas of game design.

8. In your own time, create new design ideas/concepts that might fit into your company’s future produce strategy. Look for ways to present these to the key stakeholders within your organisation.

9. Try to attend conferences/seminars etcetera. that will broaden your experience base; for example GDC.

10. Look for opportunities to attend any relevant training likely to enhance you skill set and standing within your organisation; for example, scrum master, product owner, running successful brainstorm sessions etcetera.

It’s excellent advice for Train2Game game designers, who along with all other Train2Game students should keep an eye on Develop Online’s jobs feature for more excellent advice from industry professionals.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the advice from PopCap? Has it given you some new ideas?

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

[Source: Develop Online]

Popcap reveal new Disco Zombie

Meet Disco Zombie

Those Plants vs. Zombies guys’ sure work fast! Just one day after Popcap revealed that the Michael Jackson estate demanded they remove the Thriller inspired Disco Zombie, they’ve revealed their new design.

Popcap have this to say about their latest addition:

“‘I can confirm that there is in fact a new ‘disco zombie’ (see image attached) and I would really appreciate if you could ‘be nice to the new guy’…the disco zombie is starting to feel like a second class zombie citizen, which is really unfair considering the length of time he spent doing his hair! I actually managed to catch up with him earlier today and, while he’s a little adverse to public speaking, he gave me the following (badly) written statement:

“Dear Alive Peeples, I am pleazed too join the big brainz at PopCap and can’t wait to meat you all. And yes, I du my own heir.”’

Disco Zombie, likes disco music.

Do I get to say I told you so?  The latest addition to the hit Plants vs. Zombies does look like he shares the same stylist as Disco Stu, even down to the dead fish in the platform shoes. The Simpsons won’t be demanding its removal now, will they?

What do you think of the funky new design Train2Game? Do you think you could turnaround a new design in such a short time?

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

Jackson estate forces changes to ‘Dancing Zombie’

RIP Dancing Zombie...again.

The Michael Jackson inspired Dancing Zombie is to be pulled from the delightful Plants vs. Zombies.

Popcap told MTV that the move comes after a request made by lawyers representing the late King of Pop.

“The Estate of Michael Jackson objected to our use of the ‘dancing zombie’ in Plants vs. Zombies based on its view that the zombie too closely resembled Michael Jackson.

After receiving this objection, PopCap made a business decision to retire the original ‘dancing zombie’ and replace it with a different ‘dancing zombie’ character for future builds of Plants vs. Zombies on all platforms. The phase-out and replacement process is underway.”

Interestingly, Dancing Zombie’s character description says “Any resemblance between Dancing Zombie and persons living or dead is purely coincidental”

Plants vs. Zombies was released on the PC in May 2009 – two months before Michael Jackson’s death – and reached the iPhone earlier this year. The tower defence game will hit Xbox Live in September.

Dancing Zombie will be ditching the ‘Thriller’ look in favour of a disco inspired outfit. What are the odds on influence from Disco Stu?

So, Train2Game universe, what do you think of the move? Do you think the Jackson estate was justified to call for Dancing Zombie to be changed? Or is it a mountain out of a molehill? And here’s an interesting one, what would you do if your independent title was threatened with legal action for one reason or another? Is it something you’ve even considered?

As usual, leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.

Always look on the bright side of life

One publisher thought he'd be better as a monkey...

You’re no doubt studying the Train2Game Games Designer, Games Developer or Games & Animator course because you have a creative vision. You have an idea for an awesome game that you want to develop, publish and show the world.

It might be difficult to ‘sell’ your idea to a publisher, but that hasn’t stopped developers in the past, including those of Bejeweled – one of the most popular games of all time. The casual title has sold over 50 million copies since it was launched by PopCap ten years ago. The game has won countless awards and is available on PCs, iPhones and Facebook with 200 million games being played everyday.

However, things weren’t always so rosy as PopCap’s Dave Bishop told an audience at The Develop Conference yesterday.  The industry veteran revealed that when the first build of the game was completed in 2000, a variety of publishers turned down the opportunity to buy Bejeweled for just $60,000. Given the success of the title in the decade since then, a few of them probably that regret that decision!

Bejeweled isn’t the only game that had trouble finding a publisher: Hello Games programmer Sean Murray also spoke at Develop yesterday and revealed that they struggled to find a publisher for Joe Danger. The game was eventually released through the PlayStation network selling 50,000 copies in its first week and was well received by critics. It therefore seems reasonable that Murray extracted some revenge on these unnamed publishers, and some of the reasons they had for declining Joe Danger had the Develop attendees laughing:

“Name me one popular game with motorbikes?”

”Collecting giant coins feels unrealistic to me”

”I can see this working as a Facebook app”

”We want games that are less about fun right now”

”We love the theme, but with a different game”

”We believe the iPhone will be largely unsupported”

”Can Joe be a monkey? We like Monkeys”

They verge on the ridiculous don’t they? A popular game with motorbikes, how about Road Rash or Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & Damned!? Collecting giant coins seems to have worked for Mario over the years and whoever thought games weren’t supposed to be fun eh?

So, what message can Train2Game students take from the ballads of Bejeweled and Joe Danger?  Well first of all it’s that you should never give up, as Bejeweled shows that even one of the most successful games of all time struggled to begin with. Secondly, these games show that you can’t always rely on a publisher to give you the support you think your game deserves. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet it’s now easier than ever to get your independent production out there with Steam, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live all providing outlets for indie developers.

So, what do you think about the comments made at Develop yesterday? Do you think you’ll try to rely on a publisher, or will you take the self publishing route? As usual, leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.

Developing for the disabled gamer

Last Thursday, I had an unfortunate incident on my bicycle which resulted in a strapped up broken finger and the misfortune of needing to wear a sling for a few days. Naturally, this caused me some problems – I could only type using one hand making updating this Train2Game blog and the Train2Game Twitter account a slow affair, cooking became a pain, and worst of all I was extremely limited to what video games were available to keep me entertained over the weekend.

With only one functioning hand, it was impossible to hold a console controller which meant continuing my ride through the American west with Red Dead Redemption was out of the question. It also meant that I couldn’t get my usual fix of Team Fortress 2 on the PC, after all a person needs to move by pushing keys with the left hand and look around by using the mouse in the right. (Or indeed, doing this the other way around if you’re left handed) Thankfully, I managed to keep myself from going crazy in a temporarily game free world thanks to the point and click interface of Dragon Age: Origins which kept me happy for hours on end.

Thankfully I’m out of the sling now and though I still can’t hold a PlayStation controller due to my fingers remaining strapped together, I’m back to happily fragging my clan mates on Team Fortress 2 online servers.

Luckily for me, not being able to play any video game I want is a temporary issue. Unfortunately for the significant minority of people who have disabilities, not being able to play a wide variety of different games is a permanent problem.

However, slowly but surely this tide seems to be turning, with small groups of Games Designers, Games Developers and Games Artist & Animators working with scientists to provide research into – and create – video games for those with disabilities.

Last year, Duke University in North Carolina conducted research into modifying Guitar Hero that allowed it to be played by man with an amputated arm. BBC News reporter Flora Graham explains how it works better than I ever could.

“To play the game, users wear electrodes on their residual muscles, such as those found on their chest and shoulder. The system translates the signals from the electrodes as if they were coming from the game controller, allowing players to strum along, despite not having any hands.”

The researchers also realised that the movements in the game were similar to those required when learning how to use a prosthetic limb, essentially meaning Guitar Hero could in theory be used to teach people how to use their new arms.

In May this year, a video game project called VI Fit was revealed that allows blind gamers to keep in shape. Researchers at the University of Nevada modified a Nintendo Wii for the project which according to Gamesradar;

“Features two games – VI Bowling and VI Tennis – and both can be downloaded for free at vifit.org. The game utilizes Wii remote controllers and a Windows PC with Bluetooth support. Players are instructed throughout the game with the use of both audio and vibrotactile cues”

EA have even got involved with developing games for the disabled, by helping VTree LLC, create a Madden powered title called My Football Game for players such as injured war veterans with physical difficulties.  These are just a handful of a variety of projects that aim to develop games for those with disabilities, there are plenty more of them out there too!

There is a significant audience of disabled people– and according to Popcap, they make up 20% of ‘casual’ gamers – who just want to enjoy their hobby in the same way that the rest of us do. It raises an important issue for Train2Game students, be they Games Designer, Games Developer or even Games Artist & Animator – Do you consider the needs of disabled gamers when you create your games? Or would you like to work on a game designed to be played especially by those with disabilities?

I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this once, so as usual, leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.