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Razer and Tencent partner to further cloud gaming ambitions

Neon-obsessed hardware and peripheral maker Razer has partnered with Chinese tech and game company Tencent to further expand into the world of cloud gaming. 

The agreement is specifically between Razer and Tencent Cloud, the company’s cloud services brand, and will see the pair combine to create “unrivaled cloud-based game experiences” for the players around the world. 

To achieve that goal, both companies will work together to launch hardware that’s compatible with Tencent’s cloud solutions by the end of 2019, and will look to “extend more gaming content” to Razer’s range of accessories and peripherals. 

Beyond that, the duo intend to integrate Tencent’s cloud gaming titles with Razer’s own software products and technology, while Razer also supports Tencent Cloud with its overseas expansion by leveraging its own user base.

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Spy Tactics Review

Let me start by stating unequivocally that I am a fan of puzzle games and inspired spin-offs. Every great game usually has a cluster of kissing cousins, throw a stone and find one. Bearing this in mind, most mobile gamers remember the recent HitmanLara Croft– ‘Go’ series of games, as much for their taut level design as visual polish. Well, Spy Tactics is supposed to be a dead ringer for Hitman Go, and it soullessly succeeds. It’s an incredible value, and has clearly been a labor of love, but it is irredeemably marred by confounding controls and an ultimately derivative design.

Just like in the Go series, each level is presented like a diorama representing a small objective. The spy moves along a series of nodes, silently disarming patrols whilst picking up that eternal McGuffin briefcase. Counting steps and cycles becomes paramount, as does establishing a causal sequence. Take out Guard A to open the door, extending B’s patrol such that my agent can grab the briefcase. So on and so forth, ad nauseum, unfortunately. As far as spatial puzzles go, the format is decent but also rather exhaustible, for each level can usually be solved by splitting it into chunks and simply experimenting with every possible move. To get around this, new levels frequently introduce new mechanics, like snipers or single-use weapons, which Spy Tactics uses to wrinkle what is otherwise a very uniform play experience. This by itself isn’t a fatal setback; Sudoku puzzle books are similarly predictable in progression but still compelling.

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Nevertheless the level design feels boilerplate. Yes, it is at times vexing and challenging, but Spy Tactics as a whole lacks that spark, the galvanizing ‘aha’ moments which punctuate what at times can be a tedious and difficult experience. A good puzzle games taunts and leads its player to wider understanding. Spy Tactics does teach rules of thumb and tricks of the trade, but it does so haphazardly and mostly through rote repetition. Good design means intentional traps and breadcrumbs, basically creating what is very much like a mental dialogue with the player. Puzzles functioning like riddles, asking for specific insights to proceed and refusing entry to the unwitting. Well, some puzzles just ask you try again and again, and will give inches of progress as a reward for mute persistence. Spy Tactics is more the latter, asking for minor experiments and variations on the theme. Nothing to totally stump the player, nothing to totally delight them either.

String the levels together and you have something like a campaign, with an animated introduction to drive the narrative, like the first series of levels, which are ostensibly about ousting a corrupt police chief. The writing here is wonderfully punchy, brimming with do-or-die intensity. It is accompanied by the requisite espionage jazz. The flavor is welcome but nonetheless a little cheesy, especially as divorced as it is from the actual puzzle experience. As set dressing, though, it’s distinctive and shows an imaginative, if deadpan, take on domestic spycraft. Points for flair.

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Because so much of puzzle-solving involves minute variations and experimentation, the lack of an undo function is nonsensical. It adds an arbitrary hurdle to the proceedings, especially when a puzzle is some forty-odd moves long to complete successfully but one miscalculates or misclicks at the finish. Some frustration actually builds concentration and engagement, but an excess really kills the buzz. In effect, the lack of an undo function means players must have a razor-sharp memory and foresight since any plan is set in stone from the get-go. It’s an odd limitation.

The controls are accurate but over-sensitive so that it is trivially easy to send your agent in the totally wrong direction. While the board and view can be rotated freely, the movement is tied to swipes along an invisible compass rose, and so even if you rotate the field 180 degrees, the movement stays the same, which is just begging for trouble. Also, the animations on enemies are a bit of a drag on the flow of play. None of these alone is a serious drawback, but taken together they make for a puzzle game that is harder to play than it is to solve, and this imbalance leaves an unpleasant impression. Ideally the controls and interface should be as transparent and smooth as possible, but this sadly isn’t the case here. More’s the pity, for the free rotate does actually show off the clean visual design in a rather nifty way. It’s actually pretty crucial to see past some terrain using rotation, so the fact that it jars with the static movement inputs is just maddening.

spy5

Then again, I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment, both from a mobile standpoint (Darkest Dungeon, Cultist Simulator) and a puzzle one (Baba Is You, English Country Tune). So a little pushback is good game philosophy, gets the creative juices flowing in the player. But here Spy Tactics runs into another mismatch: its puzzles are clear-cut and straightforward, if admittedly decent, but the physical act of solving them is the convoluted, protracted, time-consuming, unforgiving part. So the overall effect is a drag. Then there’s the clone issue to mull over. While the thematic dressing is original and piquant, the actual mechanics of Spy Tactics are lifted pretty much copy-paste from Hitman Go, which tiresome at best if not downright problematic.

Spy Tactics does indeed boast 40 levels and its gameplay is just like that other game you might also like, but in an age with a glut of affordable entertainment I would urge a little more discernment. It’s technically well-made and has some points in its favor, but overall does not merit a try unless there’s been a Franchise-Go-sized hole in your life.

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Oculus’ former head of mobile VR has left Facebook

Another high-profile member of the Oculus family has left Facebook, with the company’s former head of mobile VR, Max Cohen, departing the company this month. 

Cohen joined Oculus back in 2014 as the VP of mobile, and led the Gear VR program and partnership with Samsung. During his half-decade stint at the VR outfit — which was acquired by Facebook  for $2 billion in 2014 — he also led the development of the Oculus Go and started the Oculus Quest program. 

He’s not the first notable Oculus staffer to leave the social media giant, with co-founders Brendan Iribe and Nate Mitchell having also moved on in recent months.

It’s unclear exactly why Cohen left Facebook, although an update to his Linkedin profile explains he’s taking some time out to “pursue new skills and incubate ideas.”

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Blog: Creating Merchant of the Skies from announcement to Early Access launch

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Despite developing games full-time for three and a half years already, I am still discovering the best approach that I want to take while developing games. I run my studio together with my partner Helen, who makes the art for our games.

In October 2018, I’ve told her, Helen, to just draw whatever she wants and put it on twitter. Ten months later, we have published our game, Merchant of the Skies, into early access. It is a direct result of that decision. I’m going to tell you how this helped us make the most successful of our games so far.

October, 2018. I’m finalizing our previous game, Rebel Story, port to consoles which mostly requires code changes and not much art assets. Helen does not want to idle so we decided why not, let her just draw things she likes and just put it to her twitter / portfolio in case it helps her to land some contract work later.

So she drew Octobit and Pixel Dailies images. The results have been varying.

Some pictures were well received. It made me think: what if we can use them as a style/concept for a new game?

Not all images are drawn equal though. If we try to put them in the game – we need to make sure that we can effectively create the assets of the same style. The temple on the left has distinguishable art style that is reproducible. The tweet with the ruins to the right got way more likes, but it is super-detailed, so it means that we’ll need way more time to draw similarly-styled sprites.

Side-note: for every game we decide to work on, there are 6 prototypes on average that did not work.

As soon as we agreed that “we can do something with that temple”, the mockup /  concept / mini gif production process started. There was no game at that point.

Example of a gif that we made. Took roughly 4 hours for me to program in Unity.

In the end, we made three tweets to see if the style resonates well.

All three tweets were well-received (based on our own standards). That made me think that “self-marketable” style could be a great asset. I suck at marketing so if the images make people want to reshare them, then we are on to something.

This is how Merchant of the Skies really started. I’ve had an idea of the sky-faring strategy game before, but I could never come up with a proper gameplay. This aesthetic style had its own constraints and actually enhanced my creative process. Essentially, this style gives following limitations:

  1. 2d-only space. Can only scroll left and right, not much options to put buildings above or below.
  2. If we want it to be strategic, how do we actually establish multiple buildings / production chains effectively? If we place too many, then scrolling and finding the right one becomes an exhausting task
  3. How do we enforce variety? That’s when the idea of “global” map with smaller islands comes in.

In the end, we decided to have a world map and different island hubs (each <6 different buildings/tiles) that player can visit. Each of those hubs either offers a base / company that player builds or some world event / quest.

Sounds easy in hindsight, but it took me quite some time to figure out how I want it to play. To me, gameplay should always win over style/aesthetics. If the game is not fun to me, then I scrap it.

So we’ve decided on the gameplay, but the game is not yet announced. We are in the process of making playable prototype with minimal asset amount to make a store page. Some people advise _not_ to post anything on twitter until you announce the game. We are a smaller team without large reach, so I’ve decided against this approach and essentially started putting most of the things that we were coming up with. Helen’s twitter audience grew from ~500 people in October to 1200+ people in February. Coldwild Games twitter account also started to see gradual organic increase in audience. It’s not a huge amount (we were under 2k) at that time, but some people who followed the progress closely started to appear.

On Mar 7, we were ready. Steam page has been published, we’ve made two separate tweets at different times, sent press-releases (mostly ignored) and made reddit / imgur posts that got minor traction.

Helen’s tweet got more attention than mine so I’m still jealous about it, but it became clear that twitter should be our main source of announcements at that point. Everywhere else there was not much traction.

Gifs work much better than images.

Now, another curious thing is the Wishlist graph. We got a bit more wishlists that we wanted before the launch (slightly over 5k). It did not look like it would work out until our second trailer announcement and things also got better after summer sale and right before launch. Anyway, the chart and spikes:

To make it short:

  1. Announcement
  2. Second trailer (with relevant tweet), see this:
  3. Brief Rock Paper Shotgun mention
  4. Devlog / Imgur post about resource gathering / Reddit post with the same content
  5. Summer sale. Meh. Period of depression
  6. Carrot tweet
  7. Third trailer announcement. Yes I made three trailers.

Basically no secret formula here. Hard work at making content pays off. But it does take a lot of time. Roughly 30% of development time went into preparing social media posts / addressing the audience / spreading the news.

Extra shout-out goes to Weather Factory studio for taking me under their wing 🙂

To make it short: you already need to know what you are doing and have a vision of your own. I had the work of my studio planned beforehand, but I needed (and still need) sanity checks when it comes to the details. I.e. handling the marketing / press / pricing / working on game design. Lottie, Alexis and Claire has been able to selflessly help me out with that.

Apart from that, all of them provided informational support (such as retweets / mentions), even though they did not have to. It has been a substantial help over our own marketing efforts.

In any case, I can highly recommend finding yourself a mentor (after you are sure you want to go pro and actually finished a few smaller games to at least understand what you need from the mentor).

In case you want to learn more about Weather Factory mentorship, you can read about this on their website.

Two weeks before the release, things get hectic, so I always have a checkbox of things that I want to do. This release was no different. The timeline for me this time:

Two weeks before launch:

  • The game should be ready with no major changes planned. This is for your own sanity.
  • Start sending game to youtubers
  • Add game entry to Giantbomb website so that Twitch streamers / youtubers can select it if they want
  • Reddit / imgur posts / awareness post anywhere you can
  • Write a roadmap what to expect after development. It allows you to arrange things in your head, understand your priorities better and actually be a reference for your players.

One week before launch:

  • Start a countdown on twitter (post daily image)
  • Arrange front-page broadcast with a streamer (in our case the folks from Rocknight Studios were extremely kind to help)
  • Write articles explaining game mechanics, you can use  them for both promo and to quickly give answers to new players
  • Schedule reddit facebook ads
  • Schedule other game discounts on Steam
  • Arrange cross-promotion (David Stark from Airships: Conquer the Skies was very kind to reach out and offer to do a cross-promo campaign with referencing each other games).
  • Schedule twitter / facebook / mailchimp posts in advance
  • MAKE SURE TO KEEP PRESSKIT UP TO DATE – youtubers actually use those for thumbnails. If you are lucky to be noticed by press, you will 100% need it so don’t be late and just set it up in advance.
  • Buy a keymailer subscription and check key requests daily

Overall, I’ve sent >150 keys to youtubers and streamers and set an embargo on Release Date, 30th of July. 4 people broke it, but I reached out and asked to unlist the videos until the date and we actually resolved things peacefully.

The stream started a bit earlier than we’ve pressed the release button. Helen was there to talk to players (and Jānis and MatÄ“js from Rocknight studios). I’ve been keeping tracks in other social media and responding to them.

As soon as I pressed that green release button, I’ve made imgur / 9gag / reddit / facebook posts. Reddit post got a lot of traction but got removed due to self-promo rules (I comment a lot, just don’t post much apart from my own games). imgur post was pretty much unnoticed.

The ads went in for 1-2 days. I mostly posted them for my facebook followers and their friends to see and to a small related subreddit. Ads are not very effective by themselves for lower-priced games (or so I think), but they can help with the traffic burst at first.

All in all, HAVE THE CHECKLIST, you will be panicking / stressing out too much and the to-do list absolutely helps.

Also, ask your friends do the reddit posts.

We did not get into trending. I don’t think the results / coverage was enough. Over the first week, we sold ~2.5k copies. Not great, but enough to keep us going to actually finish the game while paying ourselves minimal salaries and not worrying about taking up freelance tasks just to sustain ourselves while making our dream game.

In short (and to a surprise of noone), the youtubers / twitch streamers remain a driving force of sales. The bumps on the graph match the US workdays (most of our audience), but are also noticeable  we had our game covered by a larger youtubers (this could be an article by itself). I’ve used Keymailer to accept the request and also wrote personalized email to the ones I like (or just to a bigger ones).

Rock-Paper Shotgun mentioned our game twice (the review is actually well-written and mentions the games flaws without actually fixating on them too much). We had a small bump of sales because of it, but youtubers affect it much more. In any case, for us it was not about the sales but about the principle: it was an honor to be mentioned in a famous gaming magazine. Something that seemed unreachable for us before that.

The release has shown that players are expecting more content, but I’m happy with the level of polish that we had on launch. My own principle is to make the game feel as good as possible for Early Access and expand horizontally afterwards. Basically it’s better to have one polished level rather than two unpolished ones.

Right now I’m mostly working on content updates, but first games were different: catching and addressing bugs as soon as they pop up and answering community (>50% time).

Even after two weeks post-release, handling community discussions / answering the feedback still takes 25% of the work day. It is a hard work, but it’s very rewarding to get the bug reports and improvement suggestions. We are very grateful that people give us chance to make the game better.

I think I’ve already surpassed the proper word limit, so all I’m going to say is that we will continue working on Merchant of the Skies and make sure players are going to get the best possible experience on full launch. Thanks to all that made it possible and I hope you’ll enjoy the game even more when it’s done.

Stay tuned for a full-release post-mortem after the game is done and shipped fully.

Unity Release Spaceship Visual Effect Graph Demo

Unity just released a new sample “Spaceship” that demonstrates the new Visual Effect Graph showcasing it’s ability to create elaborate UI or in game special effects.

Details of the demonstration from the Unity blog:

The spaceship demo features many effects during its walkthrough. All these effects have been authored and optimized in-game production conditions with performance in mind, targeting 33.3 ms (30 fps) on Playstation 4 (base) at 1080p. All the effects are taking advantage of the many optimization settings we implemented in Visual Effect Graph and High Definition Render Pipeline.

Half-Resolution Translucent Rendering renders selected transparent particles at a lower resolution, increasing rendering performance by 4 (at the expense of little blurriness in some rare cases). We used it mostly for big, lit particles that are present in the foreground as their texel/pixel ratio is rather low, the loss in resolution is not noticeable at all.

Octagon Particles is an optimization of quad particles and enable the corners of the particles to be cropped.  where the pixels are often found transparent (invisible cost). Particle corners are often transparent, but the overlapping of these transparent areas result in unnecessary calculations. Cropping out these sections can optimize the scene up to 25% in situations where there is lots of overdraw. There is also the benefit of reducing the resolution of the translucent sections when they can’t be cropped away.

Simplified Lighting model: Simple Lit for HD Render Pipeline enables disabling properties of the BRDF – Diffuse Lighting, Specular Lighting, Shadow and Cookie Reception, and Ambient Lighting. By selecting only the features you want to see, you can decrease the lighting computation cost to close to none. For instance, particles can be lit using only Light Probes by selecting a Simple Lit Translucent Model, then disabling everything except ambient lighting. This optimization was chosen for many environment effects that did not require a lot of high-frequency lighting.

You can download the project from GitHub however you need to have git LFS support enabled.  You can also download a pre-compiled version as well as a zip of the complete source archive right here.

You can learn more about project as well as a complete capture of the Spaceship demo in the video below.

GameDev News


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Steam is heading to China as a separate marketplace

Steam is heading to China as a separate marketplace co-created by Valve and Chinese developer-publisher Perfect World

As reported by Technode, the marketplace is officially called “Zhengqi Pingtai,” which means “Steam Platform,” and will operate almost entirely independently of Steam. 

By making Steam China a self-contained platform, Valve will be able to ensure it meets the increasingly strict game regulations currently being implemented in China without having to make changes to the broader Steam marketplace. 

According to Perfect World, Steam China will be “tailored for Chinese users,” and will feature high-speed servers along with a top-notch quality operations team. 

The first round of games to launch on the platform will be comprised of around 40 titles currently available on the international marketplace, and includes some of Valve’s own heavy-hitters like Dota 2 and Dota Underlords

There’s still no word on when Steam China will open for business.

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From concept to doubt to reevaluation: Designing Creature in the Well

Like many developers, Flight School Studio wasn’t sure if its game, Creature in the Well, would have the legs to be a full-fledged product.

Zelda-meets-pinball video game, Creature in the Well combined elements that were familiar, in turn making something that was somewhat unfamiliar.

But after some introspection and elbow grease, lead developers Adam Volker and Bohdon “Bo” Sayre refined their vision to make something that, with any luck, is digestible and fun for a wide audience.

Designing a Zelda-inspired adventure game that uses pinball-style combat is a unique proposition. So trying to convey what the game is and how it works has been a challenge for the development team from the get-go.

Volker said combining those two elements, adventure game tropes and pinball mechanics, required careful balance so that players could understand the game.

“We sort of operate on the design philosophy that was stolen from filmmaker Steven Spielberg,” he said in a recent GDC Twitch stream“His company, Amblin Entertainment, put out this idea that audiences like newness in sort of like a 70/30 relationship.”

That means, Volker explained, that 70 percent of a new concept is familiar with the audience, and the remaining 30 percent it something that the audience may not be so familiar with. But the ratio would have enough familiarity to remove some of the unknowns that could put people off.

For Spielberg, it was “suburban California except there’s an extraterrestrial that befriends a small boy.” For Volker and Flight School, “it’s swords, but they don’t behave the way you expect,” or “It’s a dungeon crawler except it’s a room full of pinball mechanics.”

Volker added, “I think if it were all super abstract and new we would have a lot more work to do to tell people about it. But I think it’s important for players to look at the game and go ‘oh I can see how that could be fun,’ and ‘I understand the format of how I’m going to play that.'”

This is the challenge of games with unique concepts — communication. Innovation in game design often requires more explanation, and it’s up to game developers or clever marketers (who, these days are often one and the same) to make abstract ideas more digestible and in effect, more sellable.

“You should be able to speak the language [of the game] fairly quickly even if there’s a lot of newness,” said Volker. “So that’s why we went with swords and that’s why we went with dungeons and rooms and boss fights and connecting them all that way. 

“The first time we played it at GDC somebody called it a pinball hack and slash and then the next PAX East show we brought it to somebody who [called it a] ‘pinbrawler.’ [Finding the language is about] players being able to tell you, ‘You know, this is how I would describe it to a friend.’ So it’s kind of just about listening, I think.”

As with practically any game that’s been developed, there were points in time where doubt reared its head. Volker said midway through the game’s development, Nigel Lowrie, co-founder of publisher Devolver Digital, played the game and was dubious about whether the game would be scalable into a full game experience.

“That was really hard feedback to get but was really helpful,” said Volker. “We sort of had this big moment where we were like ‘ok, let’s gut everything that we’ve built.'”

At that point, fellow developer Sayre took a week off of his regular development tasks, and made eight example dungeon rooms in an attempt to create unique puzzles, each with significantly different mechanics.

“He actually had to create a bunch of new stuff for that,” said Volker, “But it was really good to try to take the pinball hack and slash mechanic and spread it out as wide as it could be so that players got something different as they played through the entire game, and it wasn’t just hundreds of rooms the same stuff.”

Volker said, “Once he built those example rooms we reviewed those for their uniqueness and then I tried to build the dungeons based on his example. That’s kind of how our design process worked. Bo would be like ‘I think this has something unique, this is what I was going for,’ and then I would expand it into the dungeon and then he would have an idea to make a room and we would fine-tune each other’s designs.

It was that external feedback, and Flight School’s willingness to take that feedback seriously, that put the game on track to become something better. “That was really one of the toughest parts of getting a whole game,” said Volker. “It was kind of always a prototype until that moment, I think.”

The issue with feedback, however, is that there’s often a lot of it. Parsing what feedback to act on and what to ignore is an age-old problem.

For Volker, evaluating feedback is a discipline of self-awareness and honesty. “You know, sometimes you don’t want to hear [feedback] and sometimes it doesn’t matter,” he said. “How stubborn do you want to be? [That] is the kind of question you have to ask yourself. Like, it’s when you believe in something, and then you have to decide whether you’re lying to yourself about its quality.”

Volker said acting on feedback requires a bit of self-reflection. If people criticize your game, maybe the game your making is suited very specifically to your own tastes, and perhaps not so appealing to people in general. He said Flight School would carefully watch new players play Creature in the Well and try to identify their excitement, or lack thereof, and consider whether or not the game was resonating with people.

Volker said, “I think in the case of Nigel’s feedback it wasn’t ‘this isn’t a game.’ He said, ‘I don’t know if this is going to scale to a full experience.’…He hadn’t played a lot of it, we were in the middle of development, I don’t even know if he knows how important [his feedback] was.”

The most valuable part of the mid-development adjustment can simply be termed as full-on reevaluation. Volker and the team asked tough questions, not just about the game’s design and concept, but whether or not they should keep going on with development of the game.

Fortunately, Volker and crew were convinced that, with Creature in the Well’s strong core mechanic and familiar influences ranging from Breakout to pinball to Zelda, they had an appealing game on their hands.

“Once we [reevaluated the game], we were like, ‘well we still know that these other basic games are fun,’ so there’s something here — we just have to work to find it.”

For more design insights from Creature in the Well, you can watch the full chat with Adam Volker below.

[embedded content]

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Don’t Miss: Designing Spider-Man 2’s classic web-swinging mechanic

In this GDC 2019 classic game mechanic postmortem, veteran dev Jamie Fristrom breaks down how the widely acclaimed web-swinging mechanics in Treyarch’s 2004 game Spider-Man 2 were designed and implemented.

Fristrom served as technical director and designer on the game, and in his in-depth talk he walked through the process and compared it to similar systems in games like Bionic Commando and Insomniac’s recently-released hit Marvel’s Spider-Man.

It was an illuminating talk that offered some interesting perspective on how designers can design traversal systems for open-world games and the ways in which such systems can give players meaningful feedback about where they’re going and how they’re progressing in the game. If you missed seeing it at GDC, no worries — you can now watch it for free over on 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. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

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Report: Apple Arcade monthly subscription will cost $4.99

It’s been a few months since Apple announced its ‘Arcade’ game subscription service, and while there’s still no official word on pricing, recent rumblings suggest a monthly subscription will cost $4.99. 

According to a report from 9to5Mac, which claims to have found the pricing information in one of the APIs used by the App Store app, those looking to sign up to Apple Arcade will be asked to fork out $4.99 per month after a one-month free trial.

In exchange for that monthly fee, Arcade subscribers will receive access to a wide-ranging library of premium games — some of which will be exclusive to the platform — developed by big-names like Konami, PlatinumGames, Sega, Annapurna Interactive, Devolver Digital, and Gameloft. 

Those games included with Arcade won’t feature adverts or micro-transactions of any kind, and will all be playable across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. It’s been reported that Apple has set aside $500 million to help fill out Arcade with projects from top-class developers, helping to ensure it’s a tantalizing proposition when it arrives this fall.

8Bit Workshop

8BitWorkshop is perhaps the most approachable way I have seen yet for beginning retro game development, specifically for 8Bit systems such as the Atari VCS/2600, various arcade systems and now the Nintendo Entertainment System.

8Bit Workshop is a complete IDE and emulator that runs entirely in the browser.  You can launch it directly by clicking here.  8Bit Workshop supports the following platforms:

  • Atari 2600
  • NES
  • Verilog
  • VIC Dual
  • Midway 8080
  • Galaxian/Scramble Arcade
  • Atari Vector
  • Williams
  • Apple ][

In most systems you can code directly using C or assembly language.  It also comes absolutely loaded with examples in a variety of languages.  Additionally they have several supporting books Making Games for the Atari 2600 and Making Games for the NES.

Even better, the entire thing is open source under the GPL v3 license on GitHub.  You can also download several samples to get started right here.  Finally, version 3.4.0 was just released adding NES support, a new book and more.

GameDev News