Pulling Back the Curtain: The Importance of the Double Fine Adventure Documentary

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Recently, 2 Player Productions wrapped production on Double Fine Adventure, a documentary series that followed the development of Broken Age. It was revolutionary in the gaming scene, being the only documentary to ever follow a studio developing a game from its conceptualization through its release and aftermath. Before it, the average game player had only ever seen brief snippets of development from single-person games or small indie teams. Double Fine was the first developer to pull back that curtain on game development, a feat arguably more important than its rocketing of Kickstarter into the mainstream, and unquestionably having a bigger impact on the industry and the community than Broken Age itself. If we’re being honest, Double Fine completely mismanaged their Kickstarter funds, and Broken Age isn’t great. But by “showing how the sausage gets made,” as studio founder Tim Schafer put it, Double Fine made their campaign more than worth it, and left a long-lasting contribution to the industry.

Until DFA came out, game development was a mystical secret that no one outside the industry could begin to comprehend. So much of it was mysterious that many who wanted to be in the industry viewed it with rose-tinted glasses: a dream job where they could play all day. All we knew about game development beforehand were the two extremes. There were the developers that talked in interviews about how great it was, coming to work and hanging out with cool people, getting to create great games that everybody loves. We also read the headlines about developers losing their jobs, and studios being shut down. That or it was about developers going mad in “crunch time” having to work 80 hour weeks. In fact, Double Fine gives us a good example with the Tim Schafter episode of G4’s Icons, when he took us briefly behind the scenes of production on Psychonauts.

We never knew what it was really like, not until Double Fine showed us.

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WB Games performs a Fatality on the PS3/Xbox 360 version of Mortal Kombat X

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Mortal Kombat X launched for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One in the Spring, with plans for a PS3/Xbox 360 version to follow a few months later. Eventually, its previous-generation port was pushed back to the Fall, and today, WB Games officially put an end to its development with an announcement on their community forum:

After months of development, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has come to the regrettable conclusion that we cannot release Mortal Kombat X for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Please know our teams worked diligently to meet the quality standards set by the current-gen versions of the game. We were not able to get the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions to the quality expected of a Mortal Kombat game and are very sorry for not being able to deliver the products as originally planned.

Like most cross-generation games, the PS3/Xbox 360 version of Mortal Kombat X would have been considerably less impressive than its PS4/Xbox One counterpart. After trying to close that gap for months, the publisher decided to cut its losses and ripped the game’s heart out like Kano. After being delayed three times, it was probably the right call.

Since its release this Spring, the new-generation version of Mortal Kombat X has been expanded by NetherRealm Studios with a Kombat Pass that includes Tanya, Tremor, The Predator, and Jason Voorhees. Rumors abound that a second batch of downloadable characters will join the game’s roster in the near future, but no official has been made.

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Daily Scoop: August 28, 2015 – It’s finally Friday

So, the good news is, I finished up a full draft of my project! The bad news is, I never want to look at it ever again for as long as I live. That’s usually not a good idea, but I just don’t want to look at it right now. Maybe I’ll wait a few hours and then try!

What I do want to look at right now are deals! There’s a big End of Summer Sale happening at the Humble Store right now. You can get Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones for free until August 31. Hunie Pop is $3.39, Valkyria Chronicles is $4.99, and GRAV is $6.79, among others.

The Weekend Deal over at Steam is Company of Heroes 2. You can play the game for free, and if you like it, snatch it up for $9.99. The Daily Deal is Hand of Fate, which is on sale for $12.49. You can also pick up the DLC for under $4 each.

Just four t-shirts again today!

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Xbox Store Today: Magnetic, Blues and Bullets, Nova-111, Whispering Willows

xboxgamesstore-logoThe final day of Microsoft’s Summer Spotlight promotion is here… and so are its last three games.

The first of those three games is Magnetic: Cage Closed, a first-person puzzler for the Xbox One that encourages players to “manipulate and master magnetic forces.” This special Magnet Gun will give players the ability to navigate the game’s deadly maze.

Also available this week is Blues and Bullets, the first part of an episodic adventure series that casts players in the role of Elliot Ness. With his days with The Untouchables over, Ness is living out his days working in a diner and keeping his head down. But you can’t keep a good lawman off the case and he’s quickly drawn in to the “increasingly morbid and decadent scenarios” that grip Santa Esperanza.

Nova-111 is a side-scrolling space exploration that asks players to pilot their trusty ship to”fix space-time and search out the scientists lost in the aftermath of the universe’s greatest experiment.” No pressure there.

Finally this week, Whispering Willows is a side-scrolling puzzler where players explore a mansion as Elena, a young girl who can project her spirit outside of her body. Elena needs to use this supernatural ability to communicate with the benevolent spirits and wicked wraiths of the mansion, solve their riddles, and find her missing father.

More information on all of these games can be found after the break.

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Catch a ride to the theater… a Borderlands movie is in the works

borderlands-11Gearbox Software, Take-Two Interactive, and Lionsgate have announced they are teaming up with producers Avi and Ari Arad to create a Borderlands movie. The fivesome’s current plan is to go big with Borderlands and turn it into a “tentpole” film that’s befitting of the Borderlands name.

For a better reference point, it might be helpful to look at some of the past projects that Avi and Ari Arad have been responsible for. The executives got their start in the comic book realm, producing Blade for New Line, X-Men for Fox, and Spider-Man for Sony. They’ve also helped guide those franchises through multiple sequels and even a reboot or two (yes, they’re also responsible for X-Men: The Last Stand and The Amazing Spider-Man 2). More recently, the duo has branched out into video game adaptations, with plans to produce films based on Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid.

Lionsgate also sees the potential in a Borderlands film, with Co-Chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger quoted as saying: “The Borderlands games don’t pull any punches, and we’ll make the movie with the same in-your-face attitude that has made the series a blockbuster mega-franchise.”

That said, the adaptation is currently lacking actors, writers, and a director… so it might be a long time before we get to see it. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the Borderlands movie during the “Inside Gearbox Software” panel, which will be held at PAX Prime later today.

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Minecraft: Story Mode will be playable at PAX Prime 2015

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The 2015 PAX Prime expo begins in just a few hours, and if you’re in Seattle waiting to get in, you might be pleased to learn that Telltale Games will have a playable demo of Minecraft: Story Mode at their booth (#3117) this year. According to the developer, this is the first time the game will be playable by anyone outside their office, so this is quite the opportunity for PAX Prime attendees.

A lucky few will also have the chance to acquire an expo-exclusive Minecraft: Story Mode t-shirt. And actually, there will be four different shirt designs, one for each day. Telltale has also said there’s a chance some could collect all four:

[F]rom Saturday onward we’ll have a limited number of the day’s t-shirts reserved each morning for people who visit us wearing one of the previous day’s designs. No need to play the beta again, just wear the shirt! So if you play on the first day and are quick getting to our booth each morning thereafter, you might just manage to collect all four designs.

Minecraft: Story Mode will follow Jesse (Patton Oswalt) and his friends as they attempt to revive the Order of the Stone and save the world from an Ender Dragon. The first episode (of five) is expected to premiere this Fall on the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and mobile devices (iOS and Android).

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Shovel Knight Amiibo figure (and possibly a sequel) officially announced by Nintendo

shovelknight-amiiboWii U and 3DS owners were left out in the cold earlier this year when Shovel Knight‘s PS4 and Xbox One debut included exclusive platform-specific content. We could only sit back and watch as our knightly brethren did battle with Kratos and the Battletoads. However, the wait was probably worth it as Yacht Club Games had a very important Shovel Knight-related announcement to make during Nindies@Night, Nintendo’s pre-PAX event at the EMP Museum.

This news is three-pronged, and huge, so let’s start small. You what else is small? Amiibo figures are small. Even a Shovel Knight Amiibo figure, which will be available this Fall and which unlocks exclusive content in the 3DS and Wii U game. On the Wii U, players will be able to team up with a friend and take on the Order of No Quarter in a co-op mode. In addition, customizable gear (featuring new visual enhancements, relics, and abilities) and a special Challenge Mode will also be available on the Wii U and the 3DS.

Let me pause for a moment and mention that Nintendo did not announce Shovel Knight’s addition to the DLC slate for Super Smash Bros. For 3DS/Wii U, even though an extensive fan campaign has been pushing for the character’s inclusion in the fighting game for months. However, the commission of an Amiibo figure (the first to be compatible with a Nindie game) is certainly a strong indicator that Nintendo is at least considering it.

Moving on, Nintendo also confirmed that the Shovel Knight Amiibo will also be compatible with future Shovel Knight games released for Nintendo platforms. So, in a roundabout way, Nintendo just confirmed the existence of Shovel Knight 2! Yacht Club teased a “MEGATON” announcement earlier this week, and the announcement of a sequel to their beloved debut game certainly fits the bill.

Finally, the developer revealed that the Plague of Shadows expansion will be available to download in September. And if you’re interested in seeing the Shovel Knight Amiibo figure “in action,” I recommend checking out the comedic trailer from Game Grumps after the break.

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Night Dive will remaster Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Turok 2 for modern PCs

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If you were a teenager in the late 90s, you probably spent a lot of time playing Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for the Nintendo 64. That’s because the pair of games, which were developed by Acclaim, were two of the biggest first person shooters available at the time. Eventually, both titles were also released for the PC as well. And as of right now, they’re going to be re-released on the PC in “modernized” versions, courtesy of Night Dive Studios.

According to the developer, they plan to restore both games by adding enhanced graphics and making other improvements to the nearly 20-year-old Turok titles. These tweaks will make Dinosaur Hunter and Seeds of Evil more accessible to modern players, with both eventually scheduled to be available exclusively through digital distribution platforms like Steam, GOG, and the Humble Bundle Store.

Here’s what Stephen Kick, CEO and Founder of Night Dive Studios, had to say about the announcement: “When Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was first released it was nothing short of revolutionary. To that point, no game had ever offered the combination of graphics and an open world environment that Turok featured. We are very excited to have the opportunity to bring this great franchise back to life and to be able to share these great titles with today’s gaming audience.”

Night Dive is perhaps best known for their restoration of System Shock 2. Hopefully, they’ll use the same amount of care in remastering Turok for a new generation of players, though a release date hasn’t been announced yet.

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