Train2Game News: Games Industry News – 17.05.13

Batman and DeathstrokeIt’s the end of the week so it is time for the Train2Game round up of Games Industry news from across the week!

First of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment released a teaser trailer for Batman Arkham Origins. This most certainly is a tease! The full trailer is scheduled to be released on May 20, the day before the big Xbox reveal. You can enjoy your teaser here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvQXipKxrCE&feature=youtu.be

To continue our trailer theme, a trailer for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was also released earlier this week. This is following comments made by CEO Yves Guillemot who stated that they don’t expect AC4 to do as well as it’s predecessors. This cautious approach is a refreshing change. You can enjoy the PEGI 18 trailer here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Iys4wq7O_fQ

2K and Gearbox Software today announced that the sixth playable character for Borderlands 2, Krieg the Psycho, is now available via digital download across all available platforms for $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points. The Psycho Pack offers fans a chance to play with one of the most iconic personalities in the Borderlands universe. The sixth playable character for Borderlands 2, Krieg the Psycho, harnesses his psychotic multiple personalities to give the bandits and baddies of Pandora a taste of their own medicine. Vault Hunters can use the new character class to shoot and loot their way to new heights in Borderlands 2 with the recently released Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack. The pack raises the level cap to 61 for all six characters, unlocks a third play through called Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, and is available now for $4.99 or 400 Microsoft Points as a standalone purchase. It is also included as part of the Borderlands 2 Season Pass.

Valve has announced the Steam Trading Card beta is available for sign up now. Fans participating in the beta can unlock virtual trading cards by playing selected titles including CS: GO, Portal 2,  Dota 2 and more to come. The cards can be turned into game badges and trade-able Steam community items, according to info on the Steam site. Full sets of cards can be combined to earn Steam badges, all of which will contribute to your overall Steam level. “Up to half the card set is dropped through game play, the other half is earned through your collecting prowess,” says the blurb. Collecting prowess means that you can get more cards by interacting and trading with fellow Steam community members. Images on the Steam Trading Cards page indicate that these could entitle you to money off purchases on the Steam store. If you’d like to sign up for the beta, you can do it here.

Tech website The Verge is reporting that Microsoft is about to kill off its points system, the method by which we use to buy products off Xbox live, and is moving instead towards using real world prices, and allowing gift cards to pay for its services. These gift cards will supposedly work in the same way as Apple iTunes vouchers do, and the change will also allow users to buy with normal credit or debit cards. This comes after Windows 8 was changed late last year to reflect real-world prices rather than points. This should be confirmed to be true or not at this years E3.

Train2Game News: J.J Abrams and Gabe Newell could collaborate

Valve logoValve CEO, Gabe Newell and top film director, J.J Abrams hit the stage at the DICE summit in Las Vegas and announced they had been talking about working together.

After a back-and-forth about player agency and storytelling, Newell revealed that the duo had been “recapitulating a series of conversations going on,” and that they’re now ready to “do more than talk”: Newell suggested “either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie,” and Abrams said he’d like to make a game with Valve.

Valve are one of the top games developers with games such as Half Life and Portal under their belts which have incredible game play mechanics that make them fan favourites.

J.J Abrams on the other hand is one of the best directors at the moment, responsible for the reboot of the Star Trek films and is taking the helm on the new Star Wars films. Abrams has also worked on TV Series such as Lost and Fringe.

The two men working together could bring forth incredible games with the mechanics of Valve and storytelling of Abrams. In addition, in my opinion, there would be no man better to direct a Portal or Half Life movie than Mr Abrams.

In 2010, Newell said that if Valve were to make a Half-Life movie, it wouldn’t hand over control to any Hollywood studio, saying:

“There was a whole bunch of meetings with people from Hollywood. Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story. And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of.

“That’s when we started saying ‘Wow, the best thing we could ever do is to just not do this as a movie, or we’d have to make it ourselves.’”

There are no details on Newell and Abrams’ project—be it game, film, or both—outside of the tease that they’re talking. They are talking and I am sure that can only mean good things.

Train2Game News: Valve teaching with portals in education initiative for schools

Valve will be giving away Portal 2 for free in its Teach with Portals initiative to help the teaching of physics and critical thinking in schools.

“The buzz surrounding the new role video games are playing in education, we had to throw our hat in the ring. Today, innovative educators are finding ways to incorporate Portal™ and Portal 2 into their classrooms—helping teach physics and critical-thinking skills. It’s eye-opening to see how video games can be used in amazing and unexpected ways to help educate our next generation.” reads a statement from Valve on www.learnwithportals.com/

“Using interactive tools like the Puzzle Maker to draw students in makes physics, math, logic, spatial reasoning, probability, and problem-solving interesting, cool and fun, which gets us one step closer to our goal – engaged, thoughtful kids!” add Valve

Students will also be able to design their own levels using the Portal 2 perpetual testing initiative level creator.

Watch the learn with portals education initiative in action in the video below, with Valve demonstrating Portal 2 to high school students.

There’s more Portal 2 news here on The Train2Game Blog, while you can keep reading for the latest from Valve.

What are your thoughts on the learn with portals iniative? How else can games be an educational tool?

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

Train2Game news: Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative released

Train2Game students can now build and share their own Portal 2 levels thanks to the release of the brand new and free Perpetual Testing Initiative update.

The puzzle maker for PC and Mac allows players to create new Portal 2 test chambers without the need to leave the game, with maps published directly onto Steam Workshop. Players can vote on and automatically download any user-created puzzles using the Workshop.

There’s more on the Perpetual Testing Initiative in the trailer from Valve and Aperture Science’s Cave Johnson below.

In an interview with The Train2Game Blog, Valve’s Chet Faliszek told us modding or using community creation tools is a great way for aspiring game developers to show off their skills.

There’s more Valve news right here on The Train2Game Blog.

Are you building Portal 2 puzzles yet? What do you think about the tools?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Gmae Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative update to add level creation tools

Train2Game students will soon be able to create and share their own Portal 2 level designs when Valve releases the free Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC next month.

The Perpetual Testing Initiative puzzle maker allows Portal 2 players to publish and download levels directly through Steam Workshop, where players can also rate the designs of others.

The free update comes to PC and Mac on Tuesday 8th May.

In an interview with The Train2Game Blog, Valve’s Chet Faliszek says modding or using community creation tools is a great way for aspiring game developers to show off their skills.

There’s more Portal 2 news right here on The Train2Game Blog.

So, will you be designing Portal 2 puzzles? And what are your thoughts on Valve releasing free content over a year after the game was released?

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

Train2Game news: Game Developers Choice Awards nominees revealed

Train2Game students can now see the finalists for the 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, the leading peer-based video game industry event celebrating the industry’s top games and developers.

Nominations this year are led by three studios and their games, each of which received five Choice Award nods, including Bethesda Game Studios’ long awaited open-world fantasy RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Valve’s cunning, charming sci-fi puzzle action title Portal 2.

Also nominated five times was newcomer Supergiant Games and its acclaimed downloadable action RPG Bastion, which saw nominations in four categories, plus one for the studio itself, for Best Debut.

Both Portal 2 and Skyrim were nominated for Game Of The Year as one of their nods. The other Game Of The Year nominees are Rocksteady Studios’s dark superhero game sequel Batman: Arkham City, From Software’s immersive hardcore RPG Dark Souls, and Eidos Montreal’s acclaimed franchise update Deus Ex: Human Revolution, also all multiple award-nominated.

Check out Train2Game’s huge interview with Deus Ex: Human Revolution writer Jim Swallow, here on the Train2Game blog.

Other titles with multiple nominations include Naughty Dog’s action adventure Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and Team Bondi’s detective title L.A.Noire. A diverse set of overall nominees include titles with digital-physical crossover (Toys for Bob’s Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure – for Innovation), free-to-play elements to the fore (NimbleBit’s Tiny Tower – for Best Handheld/Mobile Game), and even no visual display at all (Die Gute Fabrik’s Johann Sebastian Joust – for Innovation).

Overall, the Game Developers Choice Awards are open to any video game, with no restrictions or payment for game submission, with open nominations from a plethora of game professionals helping to choose this year’s finalists. Winners will now be selected by the Game Developers Choice Awards-specific International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), which is an invitation-only group comprised of 500 leading game creators from all parts of the video game industry.

The complete list of nominees for the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards are as follows:
Best Game Design
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)
Portal 2 (Valve)
Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)
Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Innovation
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (Toys For Bob)
Portal 2 (Valve)
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

Best Technology
Battlefield 3 (DICE)
L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)
Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Naughty Dog)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game
Tiny Tower (NimbleBit)
Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo)
Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick)
Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment)
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Best Audio
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (Media Molecule)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games)
Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Downloadable Game
Stacking (Double Fine)
From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier)
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
Outland (Housemarque)
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7)

Best Narrative
Portal 2 (Valve)
The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED)
Bastion (Supergiant Games)
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Naughty Dog)
Saints Row: The Third (Volition)

Best Debut 
Supergiant Games (Bastion)
Team Bondi (L.A. Noire)
Re-Logic (Terraria)
BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Best Visual Arts
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Naughty Dog)
Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan)
Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Game of the Year
Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)
Portal 2 (Valve)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal)
Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

In addition to the awards for individual games, the Game Developers Choice Awards committee will be announcing its Special Award recipients in the near future, including honourees for the Pioneer, Ambassador and Lifetime Achievement Special Awards – as well as revealing the identity of this year’s Game Developers Choice Awards host.

Winners in all major categories will be honoured at the Game Developers Choice Awards show, attended by more than 3,000 of the world’s leading video game developers, and taking place Wednesday, March 7th at 6:30 pm at the Moscone Convention Center during the 2012 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

In 2010, the Game Developers Choice Awards added a sister ceremony, the Game Developers Choice Online Awards which honors online and connected games, held during Austin’s GDC Online . Highlights from the 2011 ceremony, which awarded Trion Worlds’ Rift as Best New Online Game and Mojang’s Minecraft as Best Live Game, will be shown during the main Choice Awards ceremony in March.

For more information about the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, visit http://www.gamechoiceawards.com.  For information about the 2012 Game Developers Conference visit http://www.gdconf.com.

So Train2Game, which games do you think deserves to win awards at the Game Developers Choice Awards?

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

Train2Game news: Next Portal 2 DLC to add map editor

Train2Game blog regular readers will be aware that custom creations and modding can be a great way to not only improve your skills, but can also possibly help to find work in the industry.

In good news for aspiring game developers, the next add-on for Portal 2 will allow players to create levels using “an easy-to-use in-game map editor” which will let users “design, build and share their own single-player and co-op test chambers with the community.”

Last week, Portal 2 won the Ultimate Game of the Year award at the Golden Joysticks.

Portal 2 developer Valve introduced community created levels and items into Team Fortress 2 over a year ago, and as reported by the Train2Game blog, the creators have made $2 million between them thanks to the virtual item store.  Could Train2Game students therefore potentially not only see custom created levels played by others, but also monetised? More details will be revealed when the Portal 2 add-on is released next year.

In a recent interview with the Train2Game blog, Valve’s Chet Faliszek told us that modding is a “really good way” to get noticed in the industry. The same could also be said for creating community levels. The developer has a reputation of supporting  their community, and activity encourage modding using the Source SDK.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the prospect of creating levels for Portal 2? Is it something you’d do? Can you see it as something that’d help improve your skills?

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

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: Portal 2 wins ‘Ultimate Game of the Year’ at Golden Joystick Awards

Train2Game students will know Portal 2 as a great example of game design and may be pleased to hear that the puzzle title has been named Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards.

The event took place at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London.

The Train2Game blog has previously reported that Valve regard Portal 2 as their best single player game, and it seems the general gaming public agree having voted it as Ultimate Game of the Year.  Portal 2 was UK No.1 for 2 weeks earlier this year.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim walked away with the ‘One to Watch’ award, regarded by many as the second biggest award of the night, while Call of Duty: Black Ops took the award for Best Shooter.

FIFA 11 fought of PES 2011 to win the Best Sports Game Award, while Train2Game forum user favourite Minecraft took Downloadable Game of the Year. Sonic the Hedgehog won the Golden Joystick for Outstanding Contribution.

Train2Game students can see the full list of winners below:

Action/Adventure Game of the Year:  Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft)

Mobile Game of the Year: Angry Birds Rio (Rovio)

Roleplay Game of the Year: Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda Softworks)

MMO  Game of the Year: World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment)

Fighting Game of the Year: Mortal Kombat  (Warner Bros. Interactive)

Racing Game of the Year: Gran Turismo 5 (Sony)

Sports Game of the Year: FIFA 11 (EA Sports)

Strategy Game of the Year: Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (Blizzard Entertainment)

Music Game of the Year: Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Activision)

Free-to-play Game of the Year: League of Legends (Riot Games)

Downloadable Game of the Year: Minecraft (Mojang)

Shooter Game of the Year: Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision)

One To Watch: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)

Innovation of the Year: Nintendo 3DS

Outstanding Contribution: Sonic the Hedgehog (SEGA)

Ultimate Game of the Year:  Portal 2 (Valve)

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the Golden Joystick Awards? Is Portal 2 a worthy winner? Who did you vote for?

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

Train2Game news: Valve on playtesting

Train2Game students, especially the QA Testers, will be aware of the importance of testing games in development.

In an interview with the Train2Game blog last month, Valve’s Chet Faliszek revealed that testingto be an important part Counter-Strike: Global Offensive development. Now other leading Valve developers have given further insight into how testing works at the studio.

Gamasutra report that speaking at GDC Online in Texas, Valve writer Erik Wolpaw said they take it very seriously. They start testing internally during game’s early development before bringing in testers from outside the studio.

“We definitely do playtest. We’ll ask people after they play to recount the story to us and gauge their comprehension of their experience…” he said.

Of course, Valve fans among the Train2Game community will know the developer like to put humour in their games. However, Wolpaw added that testing this aspect of game design can be difficult.

“Comedy stuff is tougher [to evaluate] because it’s more subjective and it’s really hard to gauge peoples’ reaction,” he said.

“Pretty much no one that played Portal 2 cracked a smile, but testers still said the game was funny. It’s hard to tell if a joke is failing or not.” Walpaw added.

Nonetheless, the testing process is useful to Valve and they’re happy to make changes if something isn’t working.

“We fail all the time, we just don’t advertise it too much,” said studio writer Marc Laidlaw.

Excerpts of the GDC Online Valve Q&A session can be found on Gamasutra and it should make interesting reading for Train2Game students, especially those on the Game Design course.

Of course, Valve aren’t the only game developers who value playtesting, with the Train2Game blog recently reporting that Bioware see it as a key part of developing Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Flower and Journey developers Thatgamecompany have also stated that testing is a crucial part of the game design process.

Find out more about the Train2Game QA Tester course here!

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the testing process at Valve? How important is it to get both an internal and external opinion on games in development?

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

[Source: Gamasutra]

Valve on why Portal 2 protagonist Chell is silent

As many Train2Game students will be aware, dialogue can be a very important factor in the success of a game, but a game doesn’t need a character that says anything at all in order to be successful.

Just look at Portal 2 for example, which as the Train2Game blog reported, held No.1 in the UK charts for two weeks.  Valve writer Robert Wolpaw spoke about why protagonist Chell  is silent during a talk at NYU’s Game Centre, and revealed that it’s because she “could be anyone”

“It could be you. There’s the silent protagonist, which I don’t know is specifically a Valve thing, but it’s a thing” he said “It’s probably a little bit tougher in Half-Life, because it’s slightly more realistic and there’s conversations that are happening and you kind of have to write around why Gordon isn’t saying anything.

“I don’t think people are super invested in the character of Chell…obviously because we haven’t given her much character. But they’re invested in the relationship they have as the player. We always assumed she could talk, she just chooses not to, what with robots all being dicks, why give them the satisfaction?”

Wolpaw also discussed how Chell is used to emphasise the comedy in Portal 2.

“There’s this thing with comedy…there’s sort of two different patterns,” he said “One is, you’re the straight man in a world gone mad, and the other one is you’re a crazy person in a straight world. Portal is definitely the world gone mad straight man, and the straight man is you. Because you have to write in the margins in a game, time is at a premium, so the fact that there’s already this established thing where you have a silent protagonist, that saves us a lot of time.

“You may want to know Chell’s backstory, you may want to hear her say things, but I guarantee, if she had to say her straight man lines at the expense of half of the other dialog, it would suck.” he concluded.

As reported by the Train2Game blog, Valve claim that Portal 2 is their best single player game.

Of course, many Train2Game students will also be familiar with Valve’s other prominent silent protagonist – Gordon Freeman of the Half-Life series.

So Train2Game, why do you think Valve have had so much success with silent protagonists? Would you consider putting one in your games? Or do you believe the industry is moving towards more dialogue in games?

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

[Source: MTV via VG247]