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Apple TV+ announces biographical docuseries ‘Dear…’ featuring Oprah, Stevie Wonder, more

 

Apple on Friday announced “Dear,” a new documentary series produced by R.J. Cutler that takes a deeper look into the lives of iconic figures like Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, journalist Gloria Steinem, gymnast Aly Raisman and more.

Apple TV+

According to a brief overview of the series, “Dear” draws inspiration from the company’s “Dear Apple” advertisements that feature customers reading written testimonials about Apple products.

Like “Dear Apple” letters, which typically focus on life-changing events like Apple Watch discovering a heart condition or iPhone automatically calling emergency services after a car crash, the upcoming show uses letters to paint a picture of “internationally recognized leaders.” Along with Winfrey, Wonder, Steinem and Raisman, the 10-episode series will profiles Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, model and activist Yara Shahidi, ballet dancer Misty Copeland and Big Bird.

Cutler, an Emmy and Peabody Award winner, will executive produce the project for Apple. The documentarian gained notoriety for Anna Wintour profile “The September Issue” and most recently worked on the “Untitled Billie Eilish Documentary,” which is expected to debut as an Apple TV+ exclusive later this year.

Todd Lubin, Jay Peterson, Jane Cha and Lyle Gamm are also listed as executive producers, with Matador Content and Cutler Productions producing.

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Get a job: Be a Principal Writer at Deep Silver Volition

The Gamasutra Job Board is the most diverse, active and established board of its kind for the video game industry!

Here is just one of the many, many positions being advertised right now.

Location: Champaign, Illinois

Volition is searching for a Principal Writer for the Saints Row franchise. The ideal candidate is adept at interactive writing and storytelling for AAA open world action games, while also being able to direct, inspire, and mentor writers and other game developers. This is a rare opportunity to become an integral part of Volition’s creative team.

About Volition: 

Deep Silver Volition has created original, smash hit games for over 20 years, including the Saints Row series. The studio has prospered by making games no one else can make, focusing on work-life balance, and developing a culture of collaboration, continuous growth, and learning. Volition is located in the heart of Champaign, Illinois – the best kept secret in the Midwest. Champaign has all the activities, amenities and diversity of much larger cities, but without the traffic and high cost of housing.

Responsibilities: 

  • Drive the narrative vision for the Saints Row franchise.
  • Ensure narrative vision is consistent with the creative vision for projects throughout production.
  • Lead a team of internal and remote writers to produce high quality writing.
  • Collaborate across disciplines to identify and deliver on writing needs.
  • Write and edit dialogue and other in-game text to be high-quality, snappy, and entertaining, and to match the Saints Row tone and style.
  • Write or contribute high level direction for pitches, concepts, cinematics, style guides, documentation, and marketing material.
  • Facilitate giving and receiving narrative feedback across the team.
  • Share and represent the game’s narrative vision to the team and to the public.
  • Conduct presentations, writing reviews, brainstorming sessions, and other meetings as needed.

Required Qualifications:

  • 8+ years of experience as a game writer.
  • In-depth understanding of how writing and gameplay work together to create fun, engaging experiences for the player.
  • Exceptional talent for creating vivid characters, compelling narratives, and believable dialogue.
  • Ability to lead, mentor, delegate, and provide clear direction to others.
  • Open minded, with a knack for inspiring others and building consensus.
  • Meticulous proofreading and editorial skills. Attention to detail.
  • Positive, professional attitude. Disciplined and self-motivated with a strong work ethic. 
  • Strong communication and organizational skills.
  • Passion for games and ability to articulate that passion clearly and analytically.
  • Broad knowledge of pop culture, modern games, and entertainment.
  • Ambition to create a Game of the Year title.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Previous experience as a Narrative Director, Lead Writer, Principal Writer or Creative Director.
  • Proven track record with AAA open world games.
  • Experience working with actors, casting, and directing VO recording sessions.
  • Experience with narrative development tools.

Interested? Apply now.

Whether you’re just starting out, looking for something new, or just seeing what’s out there, the Gamasutra Job Board is the place where game developers move ahead in their careers.

Gamasutra’s Job Board is the most diverse, most active, and most established board of its kind in the video game industry, serving companies of all sizes, from indie to triple-A.

Looking for a new job? Get started here. Are you a recruiter looking for talent? Post jobs here.

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Don’t Miss: Making Horizon Zero Dawn’s Machines feel like living creatures

One of the most memorable features of the recent PlayStation 4 title Horizon Zero Dawn are the sophisticated robots, known as Machines, that wander the game world like a natural part of the landscape.

They are clearly automatons, with all their inner workings plainly visible. But they also exhibit unmistakable animal-like behaviors and movements. These Machines are a key feature of the game’s unique primordial futurist milieu.

How were these distinctive robot/creatures conceived of and designed? We talked with several devs from Guerrilla Games, the studio behind HZD, to see just what went into the making of the Machines.

At the start of the design process, the team queried local Holland universities, including the Delft University of Technology’s robotics department, for assistance. (Among the insights gleaned — far-robots would potentially be 3D printed.) One question the developers posed: Are there areas of nature that could be improved upon?

“Skeletons, they told us,” says Jan-Bart van Beek, studio art director. “Skeletons are kind of shit, because they’re on the inside,  surrounded by very soft tissue. And it’s a single point of failure — if your leg breaks, you’re pretty much dead as an animal.”


Tallneck

Instead, the profs suggested the possibility of something more like exoskeletons to the team–think lobsters, not humans, and you’ve got the right idea.

“If you look at some of our robot designs, you can see the outside has sort of a metal framework, and there is soft tissue on the insides, which also creates a convenient soft spot for arrows to be pumped into, ” van Beek says.

“All these things came from the inspiration of the robotics engineer explaining to us how they would build a robotic T-Rex if they had to do that,” he adds.


Thunderjaw

Originally, the machines weren’t intended to have such animal-like movements. The team initially made the machines behave in a way that was more, well, mechanical. “It felt too much like a bug, like it wasn’t moving the way it should be moving,” says Richard Oud, lead creature animator.

To bring the designs into the game — instead of waiting for a perfected model — the team would take unpolished models directly from ZBrush, slap a skeleton in, and bring it right in. Even if it was running at a slow FPS, it would give them some idea of the creature.

“You had to have big tough ones that were fast and deadly, and you also wanted ones that were easier at the beginning of the game,” says Blake Politeski, machine designer.

“And at the same time, we needed to find ways that these would fit in with the fiction of these sort of robots that are maintaining nature. They’re part of nature, so it had to fit with that narrative as well.”


Watchers

The modeling was in and of itself a colossal task. It took “man years” of work, and van Beek believes that it took five modelers around eight months for the T-Rex-like Thunderjaw. And that was just on the modeling end: it was around 18 months from the initial sketch to get it working and enjoyable in-game.

Despite the work, the team had a “realization that if we would nail the Thunderjaw, we would sort of know how to make the game,” van Beek says.

And to dial in how these robotic animals should move, the team even pulled in Dr. Stuart Sumida, who has done anatomical consulting on myriad projects including films The Lion King, Dinosaur, Hercules, and Harry Potter, and Disney World’s Countdown to Extinction and Expedition Everest rides. Oud also took a several month long course focused on animal and creature animation, as well.


Stormbird

Balancing the design of the animals with their in-game functions was another challenge, especially in terms of the visual complexity of the machines. 

“There was always a risk maybe that it would just overload everything, you’d end up with a Christmas tree problem, where you have all these kinds of blinking lights and different colors and you’d actually have no idea what’s going on anymore,” van Beek says.

Animation and design worked together on this issue, so that all of the various machines’ gameplay elements were kept intact, while also keeping it clear to the players what they were there for.

Weight was also a challenge. The bigger things are, the harder they fall, as they say. But it also tends to mean the slower they move. Dennis Zopfi, lead machine designer, mentioned this difficulty in the Behemoth in particular.


Behemoth 

“From [an] AI and animation point, it was very hard to get right … you can’t make the thing turn too fast, because then it loses its weight,” Zopfi says.

“But if it cannot turn fast enough then, because the player’s very agile and athletic, so the players run by very fast and we had a lot of issues with making it look right but also making it responsive enough to deal with the player.”

Conveying weight to the player was a combination of factors, including the sound, animation, particles, and how the camera shakes.

“There’s lots of subtle little things maybe that can make a bunch of polygons colliding with a bunch of other polygons sort of look like a real thing,” van Beek says.

Guerrilla Games shared a series of images and videos with us that show the process of creating one particular type of Machine. Specifically it’s the Longleg, a flightless avian robot that’s somewhat reminiscent of the extinct apex predator known as “terror birds.”


1. Visual concept art of the Longleg


2. Final model of the Longleg

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3. Animation rig of the Longleg

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4. Reference footage: a real flightless bird

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5a. Blocking (CTRLs)

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5b. Block (No CTRLs)


6. Longleg animation network

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7. Longleg final polish

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8. The end result: Longleg in the game

Looking back at the team’s past work — like the giant spider-like MAWLR in KillZone 3 – brings into perspective just how quickly gaming technology continues to improve.

“That was incredibly complex at the time,” Politeski says. “And I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God we can’t do anything bigger than this.’ And then I look back now and it’s like, even our most basic robots overshadow that a lot. The amount that goes into each of these and how technically detailed they are and how complex they are is not really going to be seen by the players. But  to me, it’s actually amazing how big and complex these things are, and how we somehow managed to get it all working together.”

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This Week on Xbox: January 17, 2020

We know you’re busy and might miss out on all the exciting things we’re talking about on Xbox Wire every week. If you’ve got a few minutes, we can help remedy that. We’ve pared down the past week’s news into one easy-to-digest article for all things Xbox! Or, if you’d rather watch than read, you can feast your eyes on our weekly video show above. Be sure to come back every Friday to find out what’s happening This Week on Xbox!

Sci-Fi Twin-Stick Shooter Hovership Havoc is Available Now on Xbox One
As developer and designer,I started working on Hovership Havoc almost four years ago. It was originally just a mini-game in a much larger project I was working on at the time. I decided to scale things down and focus on one of my mini-games which was a top-down space shooter… Read more

Discover the Dark Heart of Skyrim in The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor, Coming June 2 to Xbox
For the first time since The Elder Scrolls Online’s launch, Tamriel’s adventurers will be able explore the snow-covered lands of Skyrim once again with the announcement of an all-new chapter, The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor. This new chapter, coming to Xbox One on June 2… Read more

Xbox Game Pass for PC - Coming Soon

Get 3 Months of Xbox Game Pass for PC for $1! A Plague Tale: Innocence, Children of Morta, and Gris Coming Soon
I know you’re here for the games and we have some gems on the way! They’re hauntingly beautiful, challenging, and are coming soon to Xbox Game Pass for PC (Beta). You might need more than a few days to dig into these games, plus all the others you want to play in our library… Read more

Feeling in Lumini: How the Flow of a Swarm Creates Experiences
On January 22, Lumini will launch on Xbox One. Lumini is a relaxing flow-adventure game that we initially released back in 2015 for PC. It is a game where you experience friendship, loss, sacrifice and joy in a journey where it is your responsibility to help a swarm of previously… Read more

Set Sail in Search of Legends with January’s Free Sea of Thieves Content Update
Welcome in the New Year with a wealth of new additions in Sea of Thieves first free monthly content update of this decade, Legends of the Sea! Now live for all players across Xbox One, Windows 10 PC and with Xbox Game Pass, Legends of the Sea shines a spotlight on player… Read more

CES 2020: PC Gaming Experiences Designed for Everyone
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas kicked off 2020 with a look at what’s in store for a variety of players this year, with exciting innovations for PC gaming and Microsoft’s device partners announcing some of the best upcoming hardware and software in the industry… Read more

Bleeding Edge Blasts into Retail Stores This March
We’re edging closer to fans teaming up and causing chaos in Bleeding Edge, our new 4v4 brawler! Today we’re thrilled to announce that Bleeding Edge will also be available on shelves at launch on March 24 at select retailers globally on Xbox One, with the retail version debuting… Read more

Next Week on Xbox: New Games for January 21 to 24
Welcome to Next Week on Xbox, where we cover all the new games coming soon to Xbox One! Every week the team at Xbox aims to deliver quality gaming content for you to enjoy on your favorite gaming console. To find out what’s coming soon to Xbox One, read on below… Read more

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Video: Comparing Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Clone Genshin Impact To The Original

You’ve no doubt already heard the news that the upcoming game Genshin Impact not only bears a striking resemblance to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but that it’s also now been confirmed to be coming to the Nintendo Switch.

With that in mind, we thought it might be useful to take a look at both games side by side to see just how much inspiration was drawn from the sublime latest entry in the Zelda series, which you can see for yourself in the video above.

How close do you feel they compare? Slap your thoughts down in the comments.

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Feature: So, Who’s Next For Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

Since launch we’ve seen a steady drip feed of DLC fighters landing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The five brawlers of the Challenger Pack (plus Piranha Plant) have given the game a periodic injection of fresh blood, not to mention the excitement generated by the reveals. Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the final fighter from the Challenger Pack to get one of those sealed invites – a boon for Fire Emblem fans, although with such a wealth of representation from that series already, non-aficionados could be forgiven for feeling a little underwhelmed.

That is until you remember that more fighters are incoming, of course! Yesterday Nintendo confirmed a further six fighters are planned in a second Challenger Pack, so the speculation won’t let up until this new round of DLC wraps up in December 2021. Blimey! The ones released so far have been brilliant additions to the roster and a source of rolling hype around the game. Even people who aren’t into Smash (yes, they exist) can get behind reveals featuring gaming legends like Terry Bogard, Banjo-Kazooie and Dragon Quest’s Hero.

So who’s next, then? Speculation about upcoming fighters has been rampant since the game launched, with any tiny innocuous detail taken as a clue to power the rumour mill. With six more positions to fill, we’ve rounded up the usual suspects as well as some outsiders to weigh them up and ponder the likelihood of their joining video gaming’s greatest crossover. At the bottom there’s also a poll where you can vote for your favourites or make suggestions in the comments.

Leon S. Kennedy

Notable game(s): Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil series

For: High recognition factor; Unlike existing characters – potential for unique style; Could be a part of a Resident Evil echo fighter pair – with Claire, maybe?; Fabulous hair.

Against: With guns, knives, blood and creeping zombie flesh, Leon and the Resident Evil series is not exactly kid-friendly (Presidential daughters excepted). Counterpoint: the Metal Gear Solid series has featured genital-based explosives and Snake’s still in Smash.

Final Smash: Chainsaw Guy lurches onto the stage and everyone except Leon loses their heads.

Viewtiful Joe

Notable game(s): Viewtiful Joe, Viewtiful Joe 2

For: Crazy style; Already an accomplished fighter who’d fit right in; Sexy Silvia would make a great shadow fighter.

Against: Hasn’t starred in a game in a while (not necessarily a problem – kids need an education!)

Final Smash: Joe slows time and proceeds to zip around delivering blow-after-blow until time resumes and the opponent bounces around and off the screen.

Amaterasu

Notable game(s): Okami, Okamiden

For: Cool fighting possibilities with the Celestial Brush; Plenty of combat experience; The sumi-e art style would be a unique addition (imagine the stage).

Against: … nope, can’t think of anything.

Final Smash: Chibiterasu leaps out with the Celestial Brush and plants bombs that blast the opponent into the stratosphere.

Ramirez & Jonesy (Fortnite)

Notable game(s): Fortnite

For: Incredibly recognisable to millions of people; Cartoon style would fit in well; Plenty of echo fighter skins to choose from; Fortnite = still so hot right now.

Against: Guns (kinda fundamental to Fortnite) might be problematic in Smash, although there’s enough scope for silly ACME-style weapons and llamas.

Final Smash: After thanking the bus driver three or four thousand times, he finally shows his appreciation of your appreciation by dropping his vehicle from the sky directly on top of your opponent.

Steve (Minecraft)

Notable game(s): Minecraft

For: Incredibly popular and family-friendly; Unique style compared to the existing roster; Microsoft and Nintendo are BBFs right now (seriously, Ubisoft are well jealous)

Against: Another sword fighter?

Final Smash: Night falls and creepers descend on your opponent, driving them off the stage.

The Wrestler (Rhythm Heaven)

Notable game(s): Rhythm Heaven Megamix, Rhythm Heaven series

For: A large repertoire of killer moves; Looks great on camera; Would make an excellent addition to the Smash soundtrack vault; Wubba dubba dub, is that true?

Against: Sometimes our desire for a fighter is based solely on who we want to see in amiibo form – this may be one of those times.

Final Smash: Take your pick! Maybe the paparazzi crowd into frame and you “Pose for the fans”, blasting everyone from the stage with your powerful pecs. Alternatively, The Chorus Kids arrive and shatter your opponent using their ultrasonic voices.

Mallo

Notable game(s): Pushmo / Pullblox, Crashmo / Fallblox

For: Could create interesting mechanics for a block-filled stage, We haven’t seen Mallo on Switch… yet.

Against: Lesser-known cute character would no-doubt invoke ‘fan’ ire in certain circles.

Final Smash: A wall of blocks appear behind your opponent and Mallo pushes a button. As he’s sake on top of the blocks, everyone else is smashed off the stage towards the screen, landing with a splat and sliding down.

Downwell dude

Notable game(s): Downwell

For: Loads of potential in a Downwell stage; Gunboots offer cool offensive moves; Would make an unlikely but brilliant team with Bayonetta; Would go down… well.

Against: A bit one-note?

Final Smash: Downwell dude removes his gunboots and puts them on his opponent. Having no experience with such footwear, they are blasted off the stage to their doom.

Master Chief

Notable game(s): Halo: Combat Evolved, the Halo series

For: Iconic gaming character; Trained in evolved combat.

Against: We’ve already had a massively surprising Microsoft crossover with B-K, although Master Chief is very different.

Final Smash: A Warthog speeds onto the stage, the Chief jumps in while it’s still moving and ploughs over the opposition to finish the fight.

Dante

Notable game(s): Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry series

For: The DMC games have been getting rereleases on Switch for a while now; A natural fit for Smash.

Against: Yet another sword fighter; Perhaps too similar to existing fighters?

Final Smash: “Let’s rock, baby!” Then Virgil, Trish, Lady and the rest dive in. Stylish, explosive violence ensues.

Tetrominos

Notable game(s): Really?

For: A novel addition; Massively iconic; We want to see a T-spin turned into an offensive move.

Against: Tetrominos aren’t blessed with an abundance of personality.

Final Smash: A Tetris 99-inspired dumping of lines on top of your opponents, crushing them mercilessly.

The Wonderful 101

Notable game(s): The Wonderful 101

For: A unique addition with plenty of character and potential; Would fit in nicely with a long-rumoured Switch port.

Against: One hell of a technical challenge to implement so many fighters into one ‘character’.

Final Smash: The entire 101 morph to form the Unite Hand and flick the stage clean.

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Tired Of Luigi’s Mansion 3’s Boss Fights? This Glitch Lets You Skip One

LuigiMansion3

Halloween might have come and gone months ago, but it left behind a thrilling treat that we’ve been enjoying ever since. Luigi’s Mansion 3 was one of Switch’s very best games last year, and competition was certainly fierce. We very much enjoyed capturing each and every ghoul, but a new glitch has been discovered which enables you to skip one of the bosses entirely.

SPOILER ALERT if you’ve yet to play the game (we understand – that backlog, huh?!) and want the experience utterly preserved. Why you’d click on the article and start reading in the first place is a mystery, but here’s your last chance…

Still here? Great. A new glitch is sending speedrunners’ hearts a-flutter and enables the canny player to skip the Amadeus Wolfgeist boss entirely. Gaming Reinvented has looked into the glitch in detail, so check our their article if you fancy trying it yourself. The long and short of it is that the ghoulish pianist is guarding a Toad painting which is usually inaccessible until you beat the boss. However, by exiting through a door to the left of the stage at just the right time, you can then reload the game and it’ll think you’ve already given ol’ Wolfgang a rocking, leaving you free to rescue Toad and be on your way.

Here’s a video from reddit of the glitch in action:

The timing’s a little tricky, by all accounts, but the ability to skip a boss is big news for the speedrunning community. Of course, we recommend playing and enjoying every last minute of Luigi’s latest ghostbusting getaway, but it’s always fun to pull at loose threads now and again.

Have you run into any other glitches in Luigi’s Mansion 3? Reckon you could pull off this glitch? Share your ghoulish tales below.

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Alienware’s Impressive Switch-Like Concept UFO Wins Best-In-Show Award

Alienware© Dell

After watching the reveal of Alienware’s Concept UFO gadget at CES a couple of weeks back, we couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d seen the concept somewhere before. Obviously, it’s only natural that the best aspects of any tech will eventually get incorporated into rival companies’ products, but watching the Windows 10 device presented as if it were 2015 and the very idea was totally brand new felt a little laughable. How did they keep a straight face while presenting? With the tablet’s detachable controllers, kickstand and everything else about it, calling it ‘innovative’ felt remarkable cheeky.

Still, it seems that the machine itself has won over the people who have played it, with Trusted Reviews giving it one if their Best In Show awards. Alienware has since taken to Twitter quoting the website:

While the quote itself feels odd to anyone who’s been enjoying the deluge of software hitting Switch every week, the context of the article itself makes the “limited number of games” comment make more sense. The writer is speaking in relation to the tens of thousands of PC games available across dozens of portals. In comparison, Switch’s library of 3000-ish games obviously can’t compete. Still, if there’s one thing area where we’d say Switch definitively isn’t lacking, it’s the number of games to its name.

Alienware hasn’t announced a price for its device yet, although with an 8-inch 1080p screen and a 10th generation Intel Core running things, it’ll certainly cost more than Switch, assuming it makes it out of the prototype phase. It’s a smart little (or not so little) piece of kit, certainly – especially if you’ve got a big old Steam library – and it’ll be interesting to see how it fares against Nintendo’s take on full-fledged gaming on-the-go if it does ever make it to market.

How does the Concept UFO strike you? Innovative and the inevitable next step in portable gaming or cheeky co-opting of Switch’s design? How much would you be willing to pay to play your PC library on-the-go? Feel free to discuss below.