Train2Game news: F2P reaches “a much larger audience” say Brawl Busters devs Rock Hippo

Train2Game students will be aware of the increasingly popular free-to-play model of development, in which games are released for free then secure revenue through optional in-game purchases.

MMOs including Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Star Trek Online and, as reported by The Train2Game Blog, even Everquest have switched to a free-to-play model.

Brawl Busters, the recently released action combat title from Rock Hippo Productions, has adopted free-to-play from the outset, and in a soon to be published interview with The Train2Game Blog,  Marketing Manager Flavio Caracas says encourages many more people to try the game.

“As you know, the free-to-play market is having a big impact right now, and there’s a good reason for that. We’re able to reach a much larger audience for our games and the players can decide how much their experience is worth.” he told The Train2Game Blog.

Caracas added that free-to-play will only become more significant to game developers in future.

“It can seem counter intuitive, but the results speak for themselves. I think that F2P will become increasingly important in the industry, but there will always room for different models.” he said.

Yesterday, The Train2Game Blog reported that the Brawl Busters studio thought that QA and beta testing is crucial to the game development process. The full Train2Game Blog interview with Rock Hippo Productions will be published shortly.

There’s much more about free-to-play here on The Train2Game Blog.

What are your thoughts on Brawl Busters being free-to-play? Is the most important thing for a developer to make as many people play their game as possible?

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

Train2Game UFC Undisputed 3 interview with THQ Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn – Part 2

Train2Game recently sat down for a chat with THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3 Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn at a preview event in London. In an in depth interview with The Train2Game Blog, Bunn discussed developing UFC Undisputed 3, Game DesignQA Testing, getting into the industry and more.

In part two of our interview, the THQ Senior Game Designer discusses getting into the games industry and the importance of QA Testing in game development.   Read it right here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game Scribd page. As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Read part one of our interview with THQ Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn here.

How did you get started in the games industry?

I actually got started as a QA Tester back in 2000. It’s funny how this industry works because it’s really small. I started at a Crave Entertainment, who had the UFC license way back in 2000, I tested UFC Tap Out 1 and 2 back on the original Xbox. That’s how I got started and that’s how I got introduced to UFC.

So how important is testing to the game development process?

I think testing is huge. Back when I started there wasn’t these education programmes where you could go to the different schools and learn about game design, which is cool now, but back then they didn’t have that. But I think in QA Testing you get to see the whole development process, so you get to see iterative builds come in and see the changes, learn the debugging process; that’s a huge part of making sure the game comes out polished, that there’s no imbalanced things in the game, that there’s no exploits, so testing is a huge process, not just with our game but any game.

How did you work your way up from being a QA Tester to being a Senior Game Designer now?

As a QA Tester you get the opportunity to suggest things, that’s basically how I got started when I was working on the original UFC was suggesting ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we do this, and this is how I think this should work.’ I went to different studios but eventually became a Lead QA tester and was mentoring other QA Testers, then I got into working into production. From production I found out I didn’t really like the production aspect of it, I liked the creative aspects, so from production I got into some junior design work at a Sony studio. I’ve been designing ever since.

For those who might not know, what are the differences between game production and game design?

The production aspect deals more with scheduling, making sure everything comes in on time, making sure that if you’re working with a licensed product, especially, you deal specifically with the licensor. Production also deals with managing the QA Testing process, the development process, dealing with the licensor and marketing as well. Designer focuses on the creative aspects of the game, the game content. That’s where I prefer to be.

So how big is the game design team for UFC Undisputed 3?

It’s pretty big! The situation that we’re in is kind of unique. We’re a co-development team, so we have a group of game designers at the THQ offices and then we have a group of game designers at Yuke’s office in Japan and we co-develop UFC Undisputed 3 together. Most of the design concepts are generated by the THQ team, implementation is done by Yuke’s then the balance and tuning is done by THQ. But there’s a lot of back and forth with Yuke’s, they’ve been great to work with and have offered up some suggestions and have been willing to accept suggestions and things we come up with.

With Yuke’s being based in Japan and THQ in the USA, how do you go about collaborating with them?

It’s been really challenging, we’ve done a lot of teleconferences with them, but we’ve made a lot trips out there. Last year alone we made ten trips to Japan, so I’ve racked up the frequent flyer miles! There are a lot of TV conferences in addition to meetings on site.

Back to getting into the industry, what advice would you give to those aspiring to work in it?

Probably the biggest thing to do, the best thing, is play a lot of games. Not just the mainstream games, the blockbuster games, play a lot of indie games and expand your pallet so you can touch every area. As far as getting into the industry is concerned, you break in through focus group tests. Usually a company will bring people in to test their game and give feedback on what they think of the game. We do focus tests for our products, there’s usually an opportunity there if they like your suggestions enough to bring you on as a QA Tester or something. Now they have the schools you can go to that’s an avenue as well, I have some friends who are enrolled in schools now, but back when I was around they didn’t have that!

And would community created content, such as that of UFC Undisputed 3, be something an aspiring game developer could show to potential employers?

That’s true actually, especially for an artist, creating stuff with user generated content and saying ‘this is what I made’ will help with a CV as well. I think publishers and developers are looking at that stuff.

Thanks for your time Wes.

UFC Undisputed 3 is released on 17th February 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3.

Part 1 of The Train2Game Blog interview with THQ Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn is here. 

For more about UFC Undisputed 3, and some great advice about getting into the industry, see The Train2Game Blog interview with UFC Undisputed 3 Neven Dravinski  from last year’s Gamescom.

 

Train2Game UFC Undisputed 3 interview with THQ Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn – Part 1

Train2Game recently sat down for a chat with THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3 Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn at a preview event in London. In an in depth interview with The Train2Game Blog, Bunn discussed developing UFC Undisputed 3, Game Design, QA Testing, getting into the industry and much more.

In the first part of this two part interview, the THQ Senior Game Designer discusses the game design process for UFC Undisputed 3. Read it right here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game Scribd page. As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Part two of The Train2Game Blog interview with Wes Bunn is right here.

Train2Game Blog: First of all, tell us what your role as Senior Game Designer for UFC Undisputed 3 involves?

Wes Bunn: Pretty much every area of the game from combat to modes to everything! And I’ve been on the franchise since 2006; I was the original designer on the project so I’ve been working on this game for the past six years.

How did you get started with the first project, and how have you keep UFC Undisputed titles fresh?

It’s actually pretty crazy to see the evolution of the past three games. Back in 2006 when I first started there was no game, it was all on paper, all theories about how the game would work. To see where it is now, it’s come a long way and UFC Undisputed 3 is really what I say is five years of development, not just the last two years that we’ve been working on it. Because we’ve always been trying to improve each year and I think that this year when people play it they’ll feel a difference and see it’s by far the best one.

So when you’re designing the game, how difficult is it to create a balance between all the fighting styles, making sure one isn’t overly powered or another isn’t overly weak?

It’s definitely a tightrope that you have to walk, balancing the strikers versus the grapplers. Typically, the guys who are very dominant in their striking skills are lacking in other areas, or are not as effective in other areas. Chuck Liddell is a good example, he’s a great striker, but off his back he’s not very good, so my counter to that would be a good wrestler who can try to take him down and put him on his back and see what he can do. It’s been challenging to get the balance in there, but we’ve been able accomplish that I think, in this game specifically with the additions that we’ve made to the stats and working with the UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, I think players will see the fighters are balanced pretty well.

Pride fighters feature in UFC Undisputed 3, was them and their different rules like developing a whole new game in addition to UFC Undisputed 3?

Yeah, we always joked that it’s a game within a game because when you jump into pride it’s a completely different experience because you’re playing with different commentaries, different rules, different fighters, a different environment… The different moves were probably the most challenging, because getting the soccer kick in there, and the foot stomp, because it isn’t something we’ve had to do in the past.

Tell us about the new community created content sharing options for UFC Undisputed 3.

Yeah, actually that’s a new feature this year, we have this content sharing thing. Not only is it created fighters you can upload and download, but it’s also your created logos, so if you have any kind of tattoos you can create those and post those online, people can download and rate those, as well as our highlight reels, that’s a new feature. So you can upload and download those as well.

UFC Undisputed 3 has moved the series away from a yearly release cycle. How has that changed development and why was that decision made?

The switch in the development time just gave us more time to polish and tune the game as well as introduce new features and systems. It’s something that I think you’ll see in the product when you play, the polish that we were able to get done and the tuning, as it’s really substantial compared to the previous titles. I think moving forward that’s going to be the plan, we’ll do the two year cycle because it gives us more time to what we want to do.

Last year saw the release of UFC Fitness for Kinect, have you thought about somehow implementing Kinect controls into UFC Undisputed 3?

Maybe in the future we could do it for the training. I don’t know how you’d actually do it from character to character with Kinect because then it would just be grappling an invisible person on the floor!

Or multiplayer with a friend!

In that case I’d rather go out there and grapples for real rather do something with an invisible person or somebody for the game! But that might be something for the future, maybe for hitting mitts or something with Kinect, potentially.

How much input into UFC Undisputed 3 did you have from UFC fighters themselves?

We get a lot of “suggestions” I’ll say from fighters about their stats and move sets. I know “Rampage” Jackson has been asking for a head kick three games! I told him if he does a head kick in a fight then I’ll give him one in the game, but most the time people are pretty happy when they see their character in the game. Most of them are just blown away that they’re in the game and their visuals and tattoos are in there and they say it really looks like them. As far as how they play themselves, some of the fighters are big gamers so they get it, some of them aren’t so much so it varies, but most of the time I’d say it’s been positive.

There aren’t any aspiring game designers among the UFC fighters then!

Rampage has said once before that he could design the game for us and I’d like to have him come in and do it!

UFC Undisputed 3 is available from 17th February 2012 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Part 2 of The Train2Game Blog interview with THQ Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn is here.

For more about UFC Undisputed 3, and some great advice about getting into the industry, see The Train2Game Blog interview with UFC Undisputed 3 Neven Dravinski  from last year’s Gamescom.

 

Train2Game launches Train2Game TV

Train2Game are pleased to announce a new addition to our media network in the form of Train2Game TV.

Train2Game TV features every Train2Game video to date, divided into three separate categories for viewer convenience.

What The Experts Say’ features advice from industry professionals on how to get into the games industry, and their views on current industry trends.  ‘Putting Skills To The Test’ features footage and interviews from the Train2Game Gam Jams, and shows Train2Game students using the abilities they’ve learned on Train2Game courses to develop games. Meanwhile, ‘Student Diaries’ features Train2Game students talking about their experience on Train2Game courses.

Check out the brand new Train2Game TV website here.

Remember, you can also listen to interviews with industry experts and Train2Game students on Train2Game Radio.

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

Train2Game news: Bioware co-founder on getting into the industry

Train2Game students should be doing extracurricular work away from their courses in order to be in the best position to enter the games industry. That’s according to Bioware’s Dr. Greg Zeschuk, who along with co-founder Dr Ray Muzyka recently spoke to the Train2Game blog at a special BAFTA event.

Bioware, developers of the Dragon Age and Mass Effect fanchises, are currently gearing up for the release of MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic.

“One of the most important things you need to get into the games business is actually figure out what it is you want to do, whether it’s art, or design or programming and take the courses to do that.” said Dr. Zeschuk on how to get into the games industry.

Current Train2Game students are already a step ahead there given the fact their on a Train2Game course. The Bioware co-founder added that if you also practice skills outside of formal training, you’ll be in a great position to get that first job in the games industry.

“So get the training, but also do it yourself Have fun, have a passion for it and practice outside of the formal training, and if you do those two things you’ll be in a tremendous position.” said Dr. Zeschuk.

Bioware co-founders Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka were speaking to the Train2Game blog as part of an interview conducted before their lecture at BAFTA. The interview, to be published shortly, sees the two former medical professionals talk about games as art, founding Bioware and similarities between working in medicine and working in the games industry.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Dr. Zeschuk’s advice? Does his focus on the importance of training give you encouragement? Are you also working on a side-project?

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

BAFTA’s public events and online resources bring you closer to the creative talent behind your favourite games, films, and TV shows. Find out more at www.bafta.org/newsletter,www.facebook.com/bafta or twitter.com/baftagames

Train2Game interview: Deus Ex: Human Revolution writer James Swallow – Part 1

Deus Ex Human Revolution Train2Game blog imageTrain2Game recently attended the Games Writers Panel at BAFTA’s headquarters in London. There, the Train2Game blog sat down with panellist Deus Ex: Human Revolution writer James Swallow. In an in-depth interview, Swallow discusses writing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, games writing in general, DLC, how to get into the games industry and much more.

Read part 1 below on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game Scribd page, while Part 2 of our huge interview is here. Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

First of all, can you tell us what your role as a games writer on Deus Ex: Human Revolution involved?

Wow, that’s kind of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question really! The job of games writer isn’t like saying ‘I’m a journalist’ or ‘I’m a novelist,’ games writer is a very broad church because there are so many different things you can do in it. You can be writing cutscene dialogue, you can be writing dialogue for the third tier characters you bump into in the street, you could be writing text for text boxes that’ll pop up on screen. There are a million little jobs that fall underneath the term of games writer and I think I did a little bit of all of that stuff on Deus Ex.

It’s kind of fun to be able to do that because it gives you a broad understanding of the entire game and a feeling like you’ve really invested narrative in every single element, from basically what’s written on the back of a gum wrapper you find in the street to the main cutscene where you’re confronting the villain of the piece.

How do you even begin to create the narrative for the in-depth world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution?

In a lot of ways it’s similar to the process of working on a television series because the game is made up of episodic sections in the different levels, hubs or mission sections you get. You break the story. We sit down in the beginning and we say ‘OK, what’s the story we want to tell? What is the motivation and the concept of it? Where’s the very highest level of what we want the story to bring to the player?’ And then it’s a question of back engineering it, constructing the skeleton of the storyline, the narrative beats of it, and then trying to find a structure that works with level design, with character design and hopefully the whole thing meshes together nicely and you get an interactive, dynamic , story experience.

 Deus Ex: Human Revolution Train2Game blog image

 

How difficult was it to link the Narrative of Human Revolution to the original Deus Ex game, released over 10 years ago

Well the original Deus Ex has such a strong narrative to it and so much back-story that it was an embarrassment of riches, we had tonnes and tonnes of back-story we could use. One of my earliest projects on the job was actually writing a timeline that went from 2027, when Human Revolution is set, to 2052 when the original Deus Ex was set.

As we did that we started back engineering elements of the story and saying here are plot threads we can bring back and we can connect them together and hopefully people who are fans of the original Deus Ex games will appreciate the little kisses of history we put in there. I love doing that kind of stuff, I think it’s great fun to bury these Easter Eggs in there and make the story mesh together.

Such as the one after the end credits that links the two games together?

I can neither confirm nor deny that!

With all the choice available to the player in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, how do you go about writing the narrative so it doesn’t become too overly muddled during the course of the game?

You do a lot of writing, lots and lots of stuff.  It is a difficult thing to do because when you start a game you have no idea how your player is going to play it. The thing with Deus Ex is we had the four main pillars of gameplay; you could play aggressively, you could play it stealthily, you could play it in an adaptive way, you could play it with a social approach. There are a lot of different ways you can go through the sections of the game, you could try and mix and match. When I played it personally I found that I’d bounce backwards and forwards between the pillars of gameplay depending on how my mood took me. You can play it as a nice guy if you want by helping people, getting cats out of trees, or you can be a scumbag kicking the dog and mugging the old lady, and all those options are open to you.

How do you construct a game where all of those possibilities are open to a player where they’ll feel real?  It’s hard to do because you have to write dialogue that reacts to the events and the style of gameplay. Do you write hundreds and hundreds of different versions of dialogue? That’s not possible with the technology that exists right now.  You have to try and write dialogue that’ll be generic enough but at the same time not too generic that it’s bland, to try and make it so it’ll fit multiple levels of encounter and multiple levels of narrative.

It’s not easy to do, it’s a big challenge because you think of where you are in a game, of the information you have to put across, you want to give pitch and moment and drama to a character… But you also want to be able to say ‘The princess is in another castle’ and you want to be able to deliver feeling and emotion and you have to do that in one line of dialogue. It’s not easy, but it’s an interesting challenge though.

What are the different challenges of writing for the Missing Link DLC instead of the full game?

Away from Deus Ex I’ve worked on some other DLC as well; I worked on Pigsy’s Perfect 10 which was an add-on for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Working on that what we realised was that generally with a game you have a discreet beginning, middle, end experience and to build on story DLC you have to find a place where you can connect it. With the Enslaved stuff, what we did is we took a character who was playing a supporting role in the original game and we spun out an entire storyline out for him. So it’s kind of a side story, almost a prequel because the DLC ends with the characters introduction into the storyline of the main game, so it connects that way.

With the Missing Link we created a very discreet, compact narrative for our hero Adam Jensen and when we were approached and asked to do DLC we had to work quite hard to find somewhere we could fit it.  And we realised that we had this point in the game where the character is off the grid and this is the perfect opportunity for us to put in almost a missing episode of the story.

It’s interesting with DLC because you want to produce a dynamic, interactive, interesting and ultimately rewarding experience for the player. But you have to do it in such a way that it doesn’t break the story that you’ve already created for the source material. I guess that’s the unique challenge of it, to find a way to make a story that parallels what you’ve got without overwriting it.

Part 2 of the Train2Game interview with games writer James Swallow is here.

For more information, go to www.train2game.com

BAFTA’s public events and online resources bring you closer to the creative talent behind your favourite games, films, and TV shows. Find out more at www.bafta.org/newsletter, www.facebook.com/bafta or twitter.com/baftagames

Train2Game Art & Animation student Fee Stewart speaks to Train2Game Radio

Fee Stewart is studying to become a Game Artist & Animator with Train2Game. Train2Game Radio caught up with him to find out why she chose to study with Train2Game, how she’s finding the course and what she wants to achieve in a career in the games industry. Listen to the interview at www.audioboo.fm/train2game

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

You can also read a previous interview with Fee about her experience at the Scottish Game Jam, here on the Train2Game blog.

For more information go to www.train2game.com