Coming to PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass in April 2020.
The game itself is described as an “all-new action-adventure” inspired by classic dungeon crawlers of yesteryear.
You’ll battle nasty mobs alongside three other players with your very own unique character in online or local play – while powering up your weapons and items, and collecting as much treasure as possible.
Classes? Never heard of them! Minecraft Dungeons is all about how you build your character with the gear you aquire. Want to be a hard-hitting wizard-knight-rogue with a top hat? Nothing is stopping you!
The main quest is to defeat the evil Arch-Illager.
Above is the clip Microsoft shared at its Inside Xbox X019 event, which took place in London yesterday.
If you’ve been interested in Minecraft Dungeons since it was originally announced, you can sign up for the latest news, events and early access via the game’s official website.
Project xCloud is bolstering its library ahead of its eventual launch by increasing its current preview library of 4 games to more than 50 titles, while also detailing how the service will evolve moving into 2020.
Games like Borderlands, Hellblade, Devil May Cry 5, Tekken 7, and many others are joining Gears 5, Halo 5 Guardians, Sea of Thieves, and Killer Instinct as titles playable for those in the xCloud Preview.
Looking into 2020, the Project xCloud Preview is slated to launch for players in Canada, India, Japan, and Western Europe and Xbox plans to bring Project xCloud to a number of other platforms next year as well.
Windows 10 is, understandably, the first one mentioned and only one explicitly confirmed right now, but Xbox says that its “collaborating with a broad set of partners” to bring the service to other devices down the line.
Support for the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 wireless controller, along with support for Razer gamepads, is slated for 2020 as well and Xbox plans to bring other features, like the ability to stream games from their own personal Xbox consoles, to the service that same year.
Apple’s Apple News+ launched earlier this year with impressive initial subscriber counts, but the company has failed to bring in significant numbers since then.
When it launched in March, Apple News+ had wrangled more than 200,000 subscriptions in its first two days. Since then, the company has struggled to gain new subscribers, according to those familiar with the subject.
Apple News+ costs customers $9.99 a month, the same cost as Apple Music, and gives customers access to over 300 curated publications. Publications included are People, Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and paywalled versions of popular online news sites.
However, the subscribers don’t seem to be rolling in, according to CNBC. One publisher had told them his company received somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 per month in revenue, a number that was far lower than initially expected.
Interestingly enough, another publisher disclosed that while subscription revenue was lower than expected, it had brought in a different demographic of readers that skewed younger and more female. The same publisher had also said that advertising revenue from Apple News, a free news service from Apple, has consistently trended upwards.
Publisher revenue is an issue Apple is reportedly attempting to improve, with one June report indicating it is seeking input from participating publishers to tweak the service. At that time, publishers who were allegedly advised by Apple they would see ten times the revenue of Apple acquisition Texture in its first year of operation, one publishing executive claimed “it’s one-twentieth of what they said. It isn’t coming true.”
Apple News is, however, starting to pay off for some European publishers, despite the relatively small number of countries offering Apple News+. An August report revealed publishers were seeing increased revenues from being on the basic Apple News service, including some where ad impressions had tripled while revenue doubled.
A report on Thursday had claimed that Apple is including a section in deals signed, telling publishers that it reserves the right to bundle services in the future. Sources familiar with the matter say that Apple may roll out these bundles in 2020, in an attempt to get more people to subscribe. This would likely give users the option to subscribe to Apple TV+, Apple Music, and Apple News+ for one lower monthly rate.
In this 2017 GDC talk, Ubisoft’s Julien Lalleve and Kieran O’Sullivan describe how they moved from their 3DS Max-based pipeline, to a cross-software pipeline using Python and ShaderFX to create the character pipeline for Far Cry Primal.
The pair also revealed how they built Wolfskin, a deep character customization system that works across the pipeline in the modeling software and the game engine. By splitting up data efficiently and removing complex setup from the daily workflow, they show how they greatly increased productivity, integration and iteration time.
It’s a fascinating talk rich in technical details, one you can now watch completely free via the official GDC YouTube channel!
In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its accompanying YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.
Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC or VRDC already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page.
After the disappointment that was V-Rally 4 on Switch – the only other ‘pure’ rally game currently available on Nintendo’s console which arrived in something of a shambolic state – can developer Kylotonn return to the platform and finally give fans of the genre something to smile about with the latest entry in its WRC series of games?
Well, with WRC 8, the developer has taken all the necessary measures to deliver a solid 30fps framerate for its intense rally action here – something it totally manages to maintain in docked mode – dialling the graphics right back to their most basic settings in order to provide a driving experience that, while not exactly the greatest looking, performs solidly on Nintendo’s console… as long as you refrain from taking things portable. Yes, that’s right; we said please refrain from engaging portable mode on your portable console.
The fact of the matter is handheld play here is a pretty messy affair – a blurry, pixelated jumble that makes it hard to get a handle on where you’re headed, especially when pelting down a narrow dirt track or through an icy forest at crazy speeds, which is what you tend to spend quite a lot of the time doing whilst rallying. It’s a situation made worse by what we’re guessing is some pretty harsh dynamic resolution scaling that has a tendency to kick in whenever the screen is at its busiest, adding to the graphical misery as it very noticeably downgrades the resolution in an attempt to stabilise a framerate that tends to drop whenever things get hectic. In short, this is certainly the weakest port of Kylotonn’s racer.
Which is a real shame, because WRC 8 was greeted with some pretty positive reviews on its initial release in September and it’s perhaps the strongest entry in the long-running series to date. It’s a thoroughly solo-focused affair that overhauls the usually spartan career mode – adding a bunch of team management aspects, R&D upgrade mechanics and an oh-so-fashionable XP skill tree – and delivers plenty of top-notch rally action on some supremely well-designed tracks, with a total of 100 stages in total spread over 14 impressively diverse locations.
Alongside the career mode there’s Seasons – which rips all the team management aspects out of proceedings and throws you into a full rally season without interruption – and constantly-updated weekly challenges that see you earn XP as you battle to earn a top spot on the online leaderboards. It should also be noted at this point that this Switch version arrives sans the split-screen multiplayer and eSports modes available on other platforms – not great when you consider it’s exactly the same price as those more feature-rich and smoother-running versions of the game.
The car handling model in WRC 8 is serious simulator business and feels much less drift-oriented than is the case with many of its rally competitors; you’ll need to get to know courses intimately, pre-empting where your car needs to be on the road at any given time, lining yourself up in advance to blast through corners, over jumps and through chicanes. It’s exhilarating stuff; fast and exacting with cars that handle impressively differently from one another. Difficult to master even at easier settings, it’s a racer that rewards patience and skill.
And none of this is lost in this Switch version – as long as you keep things docked. Indeed, if you can somehow accept the graphical sacrifices and avoid portable mode entirely you’ll find the best pure rally game Nintendo’s console has to offer by quite some distance here. In our time dipping in and out of the superb career mode, seasons and various weekly challenges on offer, we didn’t experience any noticeable framerate drops in docked mode and were able to get on with enjoying the driving action.
However, ignoring portable mode in this way isn’t something that you should realistically be expected to do (indeed, if you own a Switch Lite, then you can’t avoid it, full stop), so it’s hard to properly recommend this compromised version of the game. It’s a real shame because this is a supremely engaging title when it’s firing on all cylinders; one that has a ton of excellent tracks and a riveting career mode to get stuck into, but the technical issues here put far too many barriers in the way of your unfettered enjoyment of these strong points to make it worth anyone but the most hardcore of rally fan’s time.
Away from the racing action, WRC 8 also suffers from a pretty terrible UI, with overly-complicated, convoluted menus that tend to stutter and pause for annoyingly long periods of time as you try to navigate around your team emails, R&D section and so on. Loading times on Switch are also much longer than other versions we checked out for comparison during this review and, really, it all adds up to a port that feels lacklustre and shoddy; one that you’ll have to work hard with in order to extract enjoyment from.
Rallying is a precision sport that demands perfection. It requires split-second decision making and rewards those who are able to hold their nerve, think fast and keep their foot down long after others have reached for the brake. So too, in its video game form, it requires the player be able to read what’s coming quickly, adapt and manoeuvre precisely in order to keep their car from flying off track into the nearest scenery. But, when what’s coming down that track towards you is pixelated, blurry, prone to pop-in and hampered by a dodgy framerate, everything that makes this type of game so fiendishly addictive and precise is lost. Unfortunately, WRC 8 on Switch suffers from all of these technical problems, making that required perfection an impossibility whilst you play it in portable.
WRC 8 is a hugely enjoyable rally game – perhaps the strongest in the history of this long-running series – but it arrives on Switch in a disappointing state. Playing exclusively in docked mode, you’ll be able to enjoy what’s on offer here without any technical issues to hold you back, with developer Kylotonn making the necessary graphical sacrifices to keep everything moving at a solid 30fps. Honestly, if you’re planning on playing docked only, feel free to stick another two stars on the score below. However, once you switch to portable it’s another story, one all too familiar to Switch owners who already suffered through V-Rally 4. Heavily pixelated graphics, aggressive resolution scaling, scenery pop-in and an unreliable framerate all ensure that there are just too many barriers in the way of you freely enjoying the top-notch rally action.
Two completely unrelated stories (beyond the Oculus commonality) in one today. First, Unity and Oculus have teamed up to launch an 11 part, 20+ hour course on all aspects of creating a VR game using the Unity game engine with the Oculus Rift SDK and hardware.
Details from the Unity blog:
We’ve partnered with Oculus, to launch an extensive intermediate level course guiding you through all aspects of building a virtual reality (VR) game. As the VR industry continues to grow and mature, developers are asking more questions about making the switch to VR, and developers who already work in VR want to improve their skills. That’s why we teamed up with the experts at Oculus to build this comprehensive VR course, “Design, Develop, and Deploy for VR”.
In more than 20 hours of hands-on course content, you’ll learn about programming, user experience (UX) considerations for VR, optimization, launching your game and more. Twelve experts from Oculus and Unity give you in-depth lessons to help you build your own vertical slice (think, level of a game) of an escape room game. Plus, after you complete the course, you can submit your vertical slice for feedback from Oculus.
Even though this course is centered around creating a game, the principles and learnings apply to almost any type of VR content, whether you’re building practical business applications or immersive experiences as art or entertainment. You’ll find this course useful even if your interests go beyond making a game.
In additional Oculus news, John Carmack (of id fame) has announced he is stepping down as CIO of Oculus. His announcement came via Facebook post, excerpt below:
Starting this week, I’m moving to a “Consulting CTO” position with Oculus.
I will still have a voice in the development work, but it will only be consuming a modest slice of my time.
As for what I am going to be doing with the rest of my time: When I think back over everything I have done across games, aerospace, and VR, I have always felt that I had at least a vague “line of sight” to the solutions, even if they were unconventional or unproven. I have sometimes wondered how I would fare with a problem where the solution really isn’t in sight. I decided that I should give it a try before I get too old.
I’m going to work on artificial general intelligence (AGI).
Thankfully John is leaving Facebook before working on artificial intelligence! You can learn more about both announcements in the video below.
Embracer Group, the entity previously known as THQ Nordic AB and parent of the publisher THQ Nordic, saw net sales for its game group (which includes THQ Nordic, Deep Silver, and Coffee Stain) jump 117 percent to SEK 816 million (~$84.2 million) for the quarter ending September 30.
The Group cites the strong release of the THQ Nordic-published racing game Wreckfest as one of the driving forces behind that sizeable jump, alongside continued performance from past releases.
As a whole, Embracer Group’s consolated net sales fell 1 percent year-over-year to SEK 1.26 billion (~$130 million). Operational earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increased to SEK 241 million (~$24.9 million), a 133 percent growth from the same period last year.
Alongside Wreckfest’s success, Embracer Group credits its increase in profitability to the Metro franchise’s back catalog success, an increased share of digital sales, and an increased share of sales from its own IP.
Embracer Group has a total of 86 games in its development pipelines, including two triple-A titles due out next fiscal year and 49 games that have yet to be announced. As part of that, the group notes its development spending is up 47 percent this quarter to SEK 343 million (~$35.4 million).
Continuing the trend it started as THQ Nordic AB, Embracer Group acquired five game companies this quarter including Milestone, Remnant: From the Ashes dev Gunfire Games, Goodbye Kansas Game Invest, Game Outlet Europe, and KSM. However, the group notes in its reporting that its success doesn’t hinge on new acquisitions. Instead, it says such deals serve to accelerate Embracer’s growth.
“Our acquisition strategy is to add publishers, studios and IP’s to accelerate our growth and achieve further diversification, provided we find the right companies that share our values and ambitions, and of course that the terms are reasonable,” explains CEO and founder Lars Wingefors. “We acquire businesses to make them more valuable by enabling them to achieve their best work through developing more and better games, growing faster, becoming more profitable and generating more cash flow.”