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Telltale teams up with Mojang for Minecraft: Story Mode

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After teasing some kind of “super secret surprise announcement” yesterday, Telltale Games has announced that they’re teaming up with Mojang to produce an episodic game series based on Minecraft. They were right, that is surprising!

The first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode will premiere sometime in 2015 and “introduce new characters” to the world of Minecraft whole exploring “familiar themes.” To that end, Telltale has also confirmed that they plan to enlist prominent members of the Minecraft community to help them craft the game’s story.

“People really like the idea of stories about Minecraft, but forcing a narrative into our core game experience would restrict players’ freedom to view the world in their own unique ways. Instead, letting them explore an alternate interpretation via Minecraft: Story Mode, driven by the proven might of Telltale, seems like a no-brainer,” said Owen Hill, the Chief Word Officer at Mojang. “We’re big fans of Telltale Games at Mojang, and we can’t wait to reveal more details on Story Mode soon.”

Minecraft: Story Mode is currently in development for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC platforms (Windows and Mac), and mobile platforms (iOS and Android).

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Telltale Games teases a “super secret surprise announcement”

telltale-logoTelltale Games has had a very busy year. They completed development on The Walking Dead Season 2 and The Wolf Among Us over the Spring and Summer before moving on to the launch of Tales From the Borderlands and Game of Thrones this Fall. And both of those episodic titles will be completed in 2015 before the developer rolls right into The Walking Dead Season 3. But they’re not done yet.

According to the Job Stauffer, their Director of Public Relations, the company has plans to make a “super secret surprise announcement” as early as today:

Not only that, but Stauffer later said that the announcement isn’t “directly related” with anything they’ve released this year:

So what does Telltale have up their sleeve? Hopefully we’ll find out soon…

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Insert Quarter: How Did 2014 Treat Indie Developers?

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

It is a precarious time to be an indie developer. Steam’s Greenlight and Early Access initiatives are producing just as many misses as hits and discoverability is still a problem on the Xbox Games Store, the PlayStation Store, and mobile storefronts. Matthew Handrahan examined the squeeze that indie developers are feeling from all sides as part of GamesIndustry.biz’s roundup of 2014’s major stories. The picture he paints is one of gloom and doom, but also one that can be overcome with the right level of talent and a genuinely groundbreaking idea:

So are indies heading towards a “mass extinction event”? Overcrowding is certainly a key aspect of the overall picture, but the act of making and releasing a game is only getting easier, and the allure of development as a career choice seems to grow with each passing month. It stands to reason that there will continue to be a huge number of games jostling for position on every single platform – more than even a growing market can sustain – but there’s only so much to be gained from griping about the few remaining gatekeepers. If the days when simply being on Steam or Kickstarter made a commercial difference are gone, and if existing discovery tools still lack the nuance to deal with all of that choice, then it just shifts the focus back to where it really belongs: talent, originality, and a product worth an investment of time and money.

The full article is available for your perusal at GamesIndustry.biz.

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Insert Quarter: The Rise and Fall of THQ’s Empire

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Gamers often didn’t know what to make of THQ. The publisher built its empire on the backs of tie-in games based on Nickelodeon and Pixar properties such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Incredibles. But they also produced intriguing original games such as Saints Row: The Third and Darksiders. They were even the initial driving force behind Evolve, one of 2015’s most anticipated games. But that all changed when the company went bankrupt early last year.

So what happened? Tracey Lien, writing for Polygon, set out to discover the answer by talking to as many former THQ employees as she could including the charismatic (but possibly crazy) Danny Bilson. Her portrait of a publisher in free fall makes you wonder, could anything have been done?

Many blame the company’s fall on the licensed games well drying up. Some pin it on the commercial failure of the company’s uDraw tablet for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Others point to poor management and too many risky bets.

“There isn’t any one, isolated event that killed the company,” says a former THQ executive who asked to not be named. “This was one of the most successful video game businesses in America. We were a billion dollar company. It was complicated.”

THQ suffered a “death by a million spider bites,” the executive says.

The full article is available for your perusal at Polygon.

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NetherRealm is making WWE Immortals for mobile devices

netherrealmstudios-logoWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has announced that NetherRealm’s mobile team has teamed up with the WWE to create WWE Immortals for mobile devices running iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android. In recent years, the team has produced mobile games based on Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

“It’s amazing to be working with WWE to offer a new way for fans to experience the brand on mobile platforms,” said Greg Ballard, the Senior Vice President of Mobile, Social, and Emerging Platforms at WB Games. “NetherRealm Studios are experts in creating award-winning games and the team is working hard to deliver the same quality of engaging gameplay with WWE Immortals.”

“We are excited to partner with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios to create WWE Immortals and bring a new action-packed mobile experience to our passionate fan base,” said Casey Collins, the Executive Vice President of Consumer Products at WWE. “By tapping into NetherRealm’s legendary game development studio along with the unparalleled reach of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, we are creating a new way for fans to engage with the larger-than-life WWE characters.”

Chicago-based Phosphor Game Studios will assist in the development of WWE Immortals, which will be available sometime in 2015.

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Halo: Spartan Strike now scheduled for early 2015 release

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Halo: Spartan Strike has been delayed to early 2015 from its original December 12 release date, according to the Halo Waypoint blog. Bravo from 343 Industries said that the delay is due to the developer’s desire to fix the matchmaking issues in Halo: The Master Chief Collection:

“While we’re excited about this all-new Halo experience, our commitment to resolving the current matchmaking issues in Halo: The Master Chief Collection remains the top priority. As a result, we have decided to move the release of Halo: Spartan Strike to early 2015.”

Halo: Spartan Strike was announced earlier this year as a “touch-based top-down shooter.” It is currently scheduled to be released for Steam, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8. The game might make its way to consoles in the future as the first game in the series, Halo: Spartan Assault, was also released for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition wins Game of the Year at 2014 Game Awards

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The inaugural Game Awards was held last night in Las Vegas. In between all the major announcements for future releases, Geoff Keighley and crew managed to hand out awards in 16 categories honoring 11 of 2014’s best games.

BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition took home “Game of the Year” honors as well as “Best Role Playing Game.” Three other games took home two awards including Mario Kart 8 (“Best Family Game” and “Best Sports/Racing Game”), Valiant Hearts: The Great War (“Best Narrative” and “Games For Change”), and Destiny (“Best Score/Soundtrack” and “Best Online Experience”).

In addition to Mario Kart 8’s two wins, Nintendo also collected the “Developer of the Year” award and “Best Fighting Game” for Super Smash Bros. For Wii U. The consolemaker’s four wins were matched by Ubisoft who matched Valiant Hearts’ two awards with wins in “Best Shooter” (Far Cry 4) and “Best Performance” (Trey Parker as Various Voices in South Park: The Stick of Truth).

Other winners include Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (“Best Action/Adventure”), Shovel Knight (“Best Independent Game”), Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (“Best Mobile/Handheld”), and Grand Theft Auto V (“Best Remaster”).

The full list of winners in a handy list format (including all the viewer-voted categories) can be found after the break. (more…)

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Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice launched yesterday… so here’s a launch trailer

Telltale Games is at it again. Just a week after the launch of the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands, they’ve outdone themselves and launched episode one of another series: Game of Thrones. The first episode, “Iron From Ice,” focuses on House Forrester of the North. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll recognize some of the voices, like Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer, and, of course, Peter Dinklage.

Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice is now available on the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. It’ll be released for mobile devices and the PlayStation 3 soon.

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