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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. (more…)

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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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Square Enix is bringing playable demos of Just Cause 3, Final Fantasy XV, Dragon Quest Heroes, more to PAX Prime 2015

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Square Enix has big plans for PAX Prime 2015 including half a dozen panels and playable demos of seven games.

A playable demo of Just Cause 3 will make its North American debut at the Square Enix booth (#3646), where it will share floor space with demos for Final Fantasy XV (Episode Duscae 2.0), Final Fantasy Explorers, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Dragon Qest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, Lara Croft Go, and Life Is Strange.

The publisher also plans to set up a “pop-up barber shop” in their booth to give fans of the Hitman franchise the chance to share Agent 47’s signature look. For every head they shave, Square Enix will donate $47 to the GameChanger Charity, which supports children with cancer. The shavee will even receive a Steam code for Hitman: Absolution. Though anyone who wants to donate their own money (and keep their hair) can do so at 47vsCancer.org.

Finally, Square Enix’s series of panels will fly in developers from all over the world to talk about Hitman, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Just Cause 3, and more. The publisher even plans to host a “Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report Live” panel with Director Hajime Tabata.

The PAX Prime expo will be held from August 28-31 in Seattle, Washington. More details about all of Square Enix’s panels and playable demos can be found after the break. (more…)

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Activision will launch Skylanders BattleCast mobile card game in 2016

Having captured the hearts and minds of mobile gamers everywhere with Hearthstone, Activision is looking to do it again in 2016 with Skylanders BattleCast.

Like Hearthstone, Skylanders BattleCast will be a free-to-play collectible card game for mobile devices. But unlike Hearthstone, Activision plans to print physical cards for Skylanders BattleCast that players will need to scan to add to their digital collection. These physical cards can be collected and traded outside the app, and digital packs can be purchased to further augment your card collection.

Writing on the Activision Games Blog, the publisher also revealed they are consulting pro card players and experts in physical card game design to make sure they get it right:

Alongside the talented development teams behind the Skylanders franchise, we’ve assembled a team of experts across physical card game design, pro card players, and the top card artists to help create an authentic card battle experience with Skylanders BattleCast.

We don’t know exactly how Skylanders BattleCast will work just yet, but this commitment is an encouraging sign. Even though the full game won’t be available until 2016, players will get a chance to try out Skylanders BattleCast beginning September 20 by downloading a special preview app through their iOS or Android device.

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Telltale has released a launch trailer for Tales From the Borderlands: Episode 4

If you’ve been following along with Telltale’s Tales From the Borderlands, you’ll definitely want to watch the launch trailer embedded above. And if you haven’t been playing it, you have two options. You can either avoid the trailer like the plague, or you can use it to catch up with what you missed and pretend that you’ve played the first three episodes:

In this penultimate episode of the season, captured by Vallory and her goons, Rhys and Fiona are forced to continue the search for the Vault beacon – at gunpoint. The beacon is on the Hyperion moon base – Helios – while our heroes are on Pandora… so there’s the pesky cold void of death known as “space” to overcome. Even with assistance from a familiar face, and with a worryingly helpful Handsome Jack hitching a ride in Rhys’ head, getting on board the ominous “H” is going to take every drop of guile, and quite possibly all the spunk you’ve got. Sacrifices will be made – can you make the tough choices needed to succeed?

Whatever your choice, Tales From the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo will be available to download through all the major digital storefronts this week:

  • Tuesday, August 18: PC, PS3, and PS4
  • Wednesday, August 19: Xbox One and Xbox 360
  • Thursday, August 20: iOS and Android

And don’t forget, developers from Telltale will make the trip to this year’s PAX Prime expo to host a special “Crowd Play” presentation of Tales From the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo on Saturday, August 29 at 8:30 PM. There will be plenty of giveaways and the entire crowd is expected to help steer the events of the episode.

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Tales From the Borderlands: Episode 4 will launch on August 18

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Telltale Games and Gearbox Software have announced that the fourth episode of Tales From the Borderlands will be available beginning August 18. The penultimate episode will be known as Escape Plan Bravo (screenshots are available at Telltale’s Blog) and it’s sending the game’s pair of anti-heroes to the frickin’ moon:

In this penultimate episode of the season, captured by Vallory and her goons, Rhys and Fiona are forced to continue the search for the Vault beacon – at gunpoint. The beacon is on the Hyperion moon base – Helios – while our heroes are on Pandora… so there’s the pesky cold void of death known as “space” to overcome. Even with assistance from a familiar face, and with a worryingly helpful Handsome Jack hitching a ride in Rhys’ head, getting on board the ominous “H” is going to take every drop of guile, and quite possibly all the spunk you’ve got. Sacrifices will be made – can you make the tough choices needed to succeed?

As with all of Telltale’s other episodic releases, Escape Plan Bravo will receive a staggered release schedule next week:

  • Tuesday, August 18: PC, PS3, and PS4
  • Wednesday, August 19: Xbox One and Xbox 360
  • Thursday, August 20: iOS and Android

Developers from Telltale will make the trip to this year’s PAX Prime expo to host a special “Crowd Play” presentation of Tales From the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo on Saturday, August 29 at 8:30 PM. There will be plenty of giveaways and the entire crowd is expected to help steer the events of the episode.

Telltale’s Job Stauffer says, “Come equipped with your shouty voice.”

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Indie Megabooth announces massive PAX Prime 2015 presence

It’s that time gain! Those beautiful, brilliant minds behind the Indie Megabooth have announced the PAX Prime 2015 lineup, and it certainly IS mega! I see a lot of personal favorites in there, including Armello, Death Road to Canada, Hyper Light Drifter, Mushroom 11, Cinelinx: A Card Game For People Who Love Movies, Pleasant Dreams, Skiptrace, and two games I can’t keep my hands off of: Monikers and Mini Metro! And let’s not forget that this might be your best chance to check out Funomena’s Wattam!

If you’re in Seattle the last weekend in August for PAX Prime, trust me: you do not want to miss the Indie Megabooth. These are traditionally some of the best games on the show floor, and I don’t just say that because my own game (Resistor) has been part of the Tabletop Area. OK, maybe that might sway my opinion a little. But the team behind the IMB carefully curates some of the most amazing games, not just for your enjoyment, but as an installation of the best and brightest developers in indie gaming right now.

Enough of my gushing. Watch the trailer and hit the jump for the full list of developers and games (more than 70 in all)! (more…)

Posted in 3DS, Mobile, News, PC, PS3, PS4, Tabletop Games, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged

Avoid the “Kill Screen” in the first gameplay trailer for Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man‘s infamous “Kill Screen,” an ominous black cloud of symbols and numbers, has become sentient in Pac-Man 256. But gaming’s most famous yellow circle has an escape plan. Pac-Man 256 is actually an “endless runner” developed by Hipster Whale, the same team that released Crossy Road for mobile devices last year.

Hipster Whale was in attendance at this weekend’s Gamescom expo, where they showed off the first gameplay trailer for Pac-Man 256. It features the same isometric style as Crossy Road with plenty of Pac-Man touches and a number of new Ghosts.

Pac-Man 256 will be available for mobile devices this Summer.

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