E3 kicks off tonight with EA and Bethesda, but before all that, we’ve got a few more predictions to get off our chest.
In this second video, join Greg Giddens, Dave Moran and Rich Berry as they discuss some more predictions for E3 2016 whilst playing Grand Theft Auto 5 Online. Expect some casual violence, wild speculation, some actual news, and the odd logical prediction.
Keep an eye on the channel for further E3 discussions over the next few days.
E3 kicks off Sunday night with EA and Bethesda, but before all that, we’ve got a few predictions to get off our chest.
Join Greg Giddens, Dave Moran and Max Powley as they discuss their predictions for E3 2016 whilst playing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege for an hour. Expect some casual violence, wild speculation, some actual news, and the odd logical prediction.
Keep an eye on the channel for further E3 discussion videos over the next few days.
Join Greg Giddens and Steve Peacock and for a new episode of the This is Xbox Podcast – episode 28 E3 Approaches.
In this episode the pair discuss Overwatch, recent reviews that have hit the TiX site, what they’d expect to see at E3, and they interview lead designer at Tuque Games, Kevin Neibert, about upcoming twin-stick coop shooter Livelock. (time stamp: 52.40) And of course the usual silly banter you’d expect.
Join Greg Giddens and Steve Peacock and for a new episode of the This is Xbox Podcast – episode 27 Quantum Infinite. In this episode the pair discuss Quantum Break, what they’d like to see next from Rocksteady, Call of Duty Infinite, E3 rumours, and Gears of War 4’s multiplayer Beta, and of course the usual silly banter you’d expect.
Join Greg Giddens and Steve Peacock and for a new episode of the This is Xbox Podcast – episode 26 BvS…I Mean Videogames. In this episode the pair discuss Quantum Break, Resident Evil 6 and Arkham Knight briefly, before falling down the rabbit hole of Batman Vs Superman, and of course the usual silly banter you’d expect.
‘The Call Up’ is a film about a group of Elite Gamers who win the ultimate prize, a group event in top of the range virtual reality the likes of which has never been seen. However all is not quite as it should be, what is supposed to be a dream come true turns into a nightmare as they must face down, for them ‘virtual’ reality couldn’t be more real.
It stars Parker Sawyers of ‘Southside With You’, Max Deacon of ‘Into the Storm’, and Morfydd Clark of ‘Pride and Prejudice Zombies’. It is directed and written by Charles Barker.
THE CALL UP is in UK cinemas from 20th May and on DVD & Digital 23rd May.
A quest awaits this intrepid explorer. One must brave through the dark sub-lairs of an evil city filled with Rogues and thieves into the crypts of a collection institute to survey the antiquities and report back to the leader. . . .Or IRL, my editor asked me to go to see a new video game display at a museum. The Museum of London in fact, where I learned that video games are being looked at in an entirely new way.
I met with Laura Jackson, the media officer for the MoL, who walked me through the museum towards the new display they have. As we walked she told me how video games are a bit of a hot topic in the museum world and that a debate has been going on about the inescapable, and now somewhat substantial, world of gaming. How the games are being viewed as collectable acquisitions that are now culturally significant. She then introduced me to the digital curator, Foteini Aravani, who was stood down by the display, a small section with the physical copy’s of the games and information on them and the development and a section of four retro titles being run on emulators. I was very interested by what they both had to say on the subject and found it eye opening that the games world was now being viewed from a historical and cultural viewpoint, not just you and your buddies discussing the best games of all time, but a scholar in a museum saying, yes these are a significant part of our social history and need to be recorded as such and not just a footnote in life, but a whole subjection in human history. Brilliant. Who would have guessed that from the humble beginnings of ‘Pong’ or ‘Zork’ would come record breaking developments that top the world entertainment industries for profit and growth. Deadpool is the biggest ‘R’ rated film in American film history with 135 million Dollars in a three day weekend. Big whoop, GTA V made over 800 million in 24 hours. Some significance there, for sure.
Here is my chat with Foteini about the display now on at the museum of London, it is in the Showspace temporary display and is there until the 28th of April. The London Games festival runs until the 10th of April across venues in London.
TIX – Hello and thank you for meeting with me Foteini, I was wondering if you could tell me about the display and collection?
Foteini – Yes. This is a new collecting area for the museum and its part of the digital collections. Digital collections are a new area that we started collecting a couple of years ago and encompass all new media. Like digital recordings, films, video’s, social media, photographs and now video games. This area, as every collection in the museum, documents London and tells the story of London in a different way. We wanted to find a more interactive and engaging way to do that, to tell the story, and we thought the immersion value that video games provide is the best way to capture the fluidity of the city. As the city evolves day by day, its a great way to show how the depictions of London change from the very early text based adventures, no visuals or pictures to the very advanced 3D renderings of the city. At the same time we wanted to capture the contribution of Londoners in video game development. So, in this collection we wanted to show the beginnings of games made by Londoners , the 16 year olds in their PJ’s in their bedrooms having just bought the first ZX spectrum and they started programming and where we are today.
TiX – How did the display come about?
Foteini – Showspace, this area here, is a temporary display area where we showcase new acquisitions. This new collecting area is very different in terms of what we are collecting in the museum. Video games have been in the spotlight the last few years when MoMA (Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan) and they began a huge debate in the museum world if video games can be in the same collection as a Picasso or a Monet. Since then the debate has gone on between curators, what are video games? Are they art? Are they not art? Are they a museum object or artefacts? What are they.
Here at the museum of London, video games are part of the social history collection and is seen as another way to document the history of London. We treat video games as museum objects, we acquire we collect the physical item that becomes part of the collection. As well as this we have started a research project on the digital preservation of the old video games. How best to preserve a medium that is dying or bout to die. How to we can preserve that in the long term. We are currently experimenting with emulation a lot, using Raspberry Pi’s to run older games and of course, how to display all of this.
Tix – That’s really interesting to hear from a gamers perspective that video games are now being viewed as a wider and more significant part of society..
Foteini – I have to admit I am not a gamer myself, so I see video games from a completely different perspective and I am really interested in the point of view of the gamer. In my mind and as a cultural institution the museum wants to ensure that the preservation of something which has a very limited life span is done properly. You have to be careful to see what is significant and what isn’t from a cultural perspective, you have two articles which have the same life span, but one may be a hugely significant piece and one may not. For that the perspective of the game players is very important to reflect on the correct collection.
TiX – Is the timing of the display any thing to do with the upcoming London games festival?
Foteini – Yes, (laughs) definitely. The Major of London has announced a three year project on video games. It has a business side to it and a cultural side, every year for the next three years there is to be a London games festival and we at the museum here are part of this. We are hosting and helping organise a cultural summit on video games it takes place here on the 8th of April which we will be speaking at as well. We wanted to bring together cultural institutions to see what they are doing around collecting video games.
We wanted this display to correspond with the festival and we wanted to showcase the new acquisitions alongside. It is also to say ‘this is the beginning’ the real work on the collections from us has been in the last 8 months or so, so its very new to us and is an ongoing collective project within the criteria for us, which is depictions of London and Londoners.
TiX – It really is great to see the recognition of video games from a historical perspective. I’ve had a look around and think the interactive section is my favourite bit, what do enjoy most out of the display?
Foteini – Well, again, I’m not a gamer but what intrigues me the most is the text based adventure games in the interactive section. They mesmerise me. My favourite is ‘Hampstead’, it was published in 1984 and is in the subject matter of the game is basically a social critique of Thatcherism and the 80’s in England. The point of the game is to climb up the social ladder and attain ‘Hampstead’ which is the well to-do area of the time, the peak of London living. To do it you have to find a good job, find nice clothes marry the right person all in your quest to be accepted and attain Hampstead living. Its interesting historically as the view of Hampstead then and now hasn’t changed much so the social views of the time are reflected in the game. I love the fact that there are no visuals and or images of London, but using your imagination, much like reading a book, this really triggers about this city just through text. It’s also very political and has commentary in the game which is another reflection of the attitudes of the time. Its all very British.
As I mentioned above, I very much enjoyed the talk and to hear about the new perspective on games from the museum. I also had great fun playing on the emulators that they had for the four titles in the display, if you like retro games or just want to know more about London’s contributions and history in game you should pop down, the display is small but nicely put together and the emulators can keep you there for a while. I will now be looking out for the digital collections of other museums to see who and where will also be making a show of video games and there significance. Well, the culture was nice and the people are lovely but ‘The Division’ calls to me and I’m not quite at DZ rank 50 yet, so….. bye.
DiRT Rally released today and I was lucky enough to be in South bank, London, where they held a launch event to celebrate this brilliant Rally game. The square at the South bank centre was covered with Rally cars from the Subaru Impreza to the classic Audi Quattro it was a good collection.
As well as the awesome Rally icons, they had consoles running the game for anyone to play and a simulator running a time-trial stage. The simulator had a 280 degree surround screen and a hydraulic chair fitted with racing seat, pedals and a flappy-paddle gearbox. For the quickest time of the day the prize was a Crazykart in DiRT Rally livery. It was all pretty cool and the game looked stunning, especially on the surround screen, I watched someone sit down to have their turn, taking in the game stage as they made a strong run on the time-trial… until he clipped a tree on a jump and flipped into the woods, game over buddy.
I happened to get lucky and the Chief games designer, Paul Coleman, was on hand. He had a bit of time and we had a chat, turns out he is very interesting bloke. Not only has he led a team to release a brilliant game but he happens to actually co-drive Rally cars too. As anyone who plays FORZA knows, personal experience goes a long way when making a realistic driving game. So, as per the norm with my little chats I have laid it out below for you to scan over, Ignore my waffle, it’s Paul who has the interesting things to say.
TiX – Hey Paul, we are here at South bank, you’ve got the game out now, must feel pretty good to see it finished?
Paul – Yeah, its been a long road. We started in 2012 to get the prototype out and then into early access and stuff in early ’15 and then went from there. But in terms of it as a notion floating through my head, it’s what I got into the games industry to do, to make the best Rally game ever made and I genuinely think we’ve achieved that with DiRT Rally, although as a perfectionist there is plenty more I’d like to do in the future! but, yeah, I feel like I’ve finally made that game that I’d set out to make, so yeah. It’s been a long road but we have done some pretty ground breaking stuff with the way we simulate the cars and it’s laid a pretty good foundation for the future.
TiX – A career passion achieved, can I ask what’s so ground breaking about it in comparison to any other Rally game I’ve played?
Paul – so I think the key difference is the way we have simulated the surface, a lot of other racing games out there, they don’t need to worry about the surfaces at all and when you look at competitors out there they have quite a primitive approach to the surface simulation. We’ve actually studied a lot of university papers on fluid dynamics and then simplified that down to something that will run in real time on consoles, but ultimately we simulate the way the tyre cuts into the surface, when you spin the wheels or when you slide the car, and then find the grip underneath. That’s why you see Rally drivers throw the car around, it’s to find that grip under the surface. So there are hundreds of surfaces you get in Rally stages around the world and we can get a very close rendition of what those surfaces are like to drive on. Then we’ve done all the extra stuff required to simulate the car on top of that. You know, for a Rally game it’s very important to get the surface right and that’s why, I think, that we ‘feel’ different to other Rally games out there.
TiX – Very impressive, I had no idea that you went into so much level of research. I’ve been a long time Rally fan and Rally game fan, Colin McRae was my first. . .
(Paul – Yeah, me too)
TiX – … And I’ve always been a fan of the DiRT games, but what I loved most was the straight Rally, not the Rallycross, but the straight Rally, after the last title did you want to make this a pure Rally game?
Paul – Well, no, what we wanted to do was focus on the authentic side of the sport, but Rally sport in general, and Rally is obviously the primary aspect of that. We know a lot of our fans spend their time playing that, we knew that from the telemetry we got out of our previous games, but the way that we represented Rallycross was quite fictional in our previous games. That’s why it was really important for us to work with the FIA world Rally Cross Championship. To get the authentic side of the sport across, So, the circuits we have now are real circuits, the cars that we have now are real cars, there’s noting made up about it. it’s why we went to Pikes Peak for hill climb, which had traditionally been trailblazer in DiRT series because, again, that’s the authentic rendition of that form of the sport. I guess, I would have probably made a full on Rally game with nothing else in there but I think it was important to have that extra colour in there to make a more rounded experience. If we had given players just Rally, Rally, Rally it might have felt pretty channelled.
TiX – Now I spotted Liam Doran’s car outside as well as a few others, where you working with him on the game from a drivers perspective?
Paul – So, Liam has worked with us in the past, we started working with him on DiRT 2 actually, and that came about from working getting his dad’s cars into the game, his dad said ‘well, my son is just starting out in the sport but he could be in it’ then he won his first x-games gold medal and in DiRT 3 we worked with him more heavily. He then helped give us some feedback on the very early prototype work. The majority of the prototyping we did was with our new simulation programmers and we had John Tucker, the guy that drives the Rally car that I co-drive in, he came in and worked as a project manager for us for a year. So, we had that constant bouncing between prototype to test driver and back. That’s how we arrived at what we have now. Since then we have had validation with other drivers, like Liam and Kevin Abbring from Hyundai WRC try our game and really enjoy it. There are a number of drivers out there using DiRT Rally in the off season and that’s what really validates what we did with John in the studio. It’s that sense that these guys actually appreciate what we’ve done to the point they are willing to use it as a training tool.
TiX – Er, couldn’t help but notice you dropped in that you co-drive a Rally car? that’s pretty cool. is that where the need to create the best ever Rally game comes from? did you want to capture what you feel when you’re in the car?
Paul – I’ve been making Rally games since 2003 and was doing it as an armchair enthusiast, someone who loved the sport but it was always from the spectators angle then in 2011 I Got the opportunity to co-drive in a Rally car for real. It was quite an amateur spec but it was still a Subaru Impreza so it was quick. The forces you feel in the car, the preparation you have to do before an event, doing the fuel charts and map prep and all of that kind of stuff, the chats in the bar after with the other drivers who ‘could’ve won’ if it wasn’t for that pesky whatever. The first hand experience of the sport. it opened my eyes to stuff we hadn’t been doing in previous games that was very simple for us to do, lots of little things and then things we had been doing in previous games that was completely superfluous to the authenticity of the sport. So, I had this role as lead game designer where I was making decisions as to what was important in the game and what wasn’t and I could bring in my first hand experience and fuse it with our work. so I could represent it not just from the gaming perspective but from the sport perspective as well and it made a huge difference. There are a few things that I take for granted now but actually were key in making DiRT Rally differential from what we did before. So yeah, in short it did have a real impact on what we where doing.
TiX – Very cool to see someone very involved in both sides of this project not general practice is it?
Paul – No, I think the only other is Gran Turismo, he goes out and drives all the cars, but not anything from the Rally genre. It’s weird, as a games designer I already have a cool job.
TiX – yes, you do…
Paul – then I get back to my desk after a weekend of Rally and i’m like ‘aw man, i’m bored’. A reality check can be needed.
TiX – Well, your game is out today so time to relax or is it time do some more driving?
Paul – well, interestingly one of community members has just started Rally driving based on having played the game in early access, so I reached out to him and said if you need a co-driver then let me know. He came back and said ‘yeah, that would be really cool’ so I’m actually going to start co-driving for him. It’s been a community driven game through early access and the passion and drive they have shown us, to open their hearts and minds to us and we have really listened this time and I think that’s shown in the way the game has been received. We used to get great critic scores but the player score lagged behind a bit and that never sat right with me, but now we have a user score that’s equal to, if not better, than our metacritic score.
I said my thanks and wandered off back through the showcase towards the tube, stopping to look again at the simulator with the almost endless queue of people waiting patiently for that ultimate Rally experience. As I went through the crowds it struck me that I had just met a driven individual, clearly very passionate about his hobby and it shows in the work from Codemasters. DiRT Rally is available now from the xbox store and retailers, I give it a strong recommendation after playing today and will be buying a copy for myself – especially after checking out what our own Rich Berry had to say on it in his review.
Join Greg Giddens, Steve Peacock and guest Mike Barnes for a new episode of the This is Xbox Podcast – episode 25 United Over The Division. In this episode the trio discuss some recent news about Xbox at GDC, but mostly they talk about their adventures with The Division amongst the usual silly banter you’d expect.
I left my fortress of solitude (one bedroom flat) and ventured into the light and real world today. It was grey and drizzly and about as real as London gets, sweaty commuter tubes (that’s the underground train or ‘subway’ for anyone across the pond) and blank faces of people who are about as animated as an NPC from GTA 3. I’m making this journey because I have been invited up to town for a hands on with Unbox, the upcoming title from Prospect Games, and a chat with the lead developer Andrew Bennison.
Unbox is a charming and fun little physics platformer (physics fun as described by Prospect games. In which you control a box. (that’s right, a box. trust me. its way more fun than it initially sounds) You’re a sentient box from GPS, the global post service, which has self delivering boxes. Except they’re all a bit dumb and so you are the first ‘smart’ sentient box being tested for delivery capabilites. Then off you tootle, rolling and bouncing off on your travels as the first of a new bread. Its an open world explorer with a story line through it. You get different things to deliver to different places and it has puzzles, challenges and collectables along the way. I didn’t get to do any of the story line really, (Andrew talked me through some of it as we played) but what I did do was immensely fun. Who knew? But bouncing a box around on a desert island making deliveries whilst occasionally shooting fireworks at other boxes is a lot of fun.
We sat down to play and I have to say I quite liked the game from the beginning, it reminded me of old classics like Kula world and Crash Bandicoot with very bright and colourful graphics. Its quite a simple game in premise and control, but has its challenges and was fun to play. Andrew talks of big boss fights to come at the end of each of the worlds through the story mode. As I go through the tutorial he guides me up over a hill that looks over the first game world, I was pleasantly surprised, the view from the top looked over a sprawling collection of islands all of which where part of the open world. Its the first world of four, set in an island paradise. He keeps a few details to his chest about the later worlds, only saying that the 2nd world is high up on the mountain tops. All in all its pretty good fun.
We sat for around an hour, tinkering with the tutorials, bouncing around the beautiful island paradise with calypso music in the background. There are customisations for your box, hats and designs to add your own touch. As we played we talked over the game, where its been and where its going. Below is a breakdown of our conversation, put into order. My excitement in playing the game left me a bit all over the place with my questions, but we got the bases covered. When we finished he showed me a video of the multi-player to come (I was secretly hoping to play some of the multi-player, but I guess some things are better left to a touch of mystery) it looks like a great party game, one you can play with 4 people sat on a sofa, cursing each other out as you race and battle in game modes not too dissimilar from the likes of Mario Kart. Its clear the sort of game they are looking to emulate, in my opinion they have done a good job especially considering its still in its Alpha stages. I, for one, am excited to see the final result. Whilst hesitant to get nailed down to a release date or release quarter, the publicist seemed positive for a 2016 release.
TIX – ‘Hi Andrew, thanks for meeting with Thisisxbox and giving us some hands on with your game Unbox. can you tell me about it and what we’re going to play today?’
Andrew – ‘Sure, Unbox is about the ultimate postal service, self delivering cardboard boxes, its a comedy physics game with a big single player component. A sort of ‘Mario’ style system. You’re jumping through worlds, beating enemies defeating bosses and then on the flip side, a local multi-player which is a sort of a throwback to nineties game-play, split screen where your battling each other and racing each other. We’re going to be focusing on the former today More of the single player worlds.’
Tix – ‘Sounds great, I noticed you made a point of saying local multi-player. With a major push towards on-line multi-player in most games was that a conscious decision?
Andrew – Yes, for several reasons really. The primary reason for us going into development was the fact that this is, kinda of, a love letter to all the games we played in the nineties. We wanted to make a local multi-player game because we noticed those experiences are slipping away. If you look on forums and read on line about the responses to certain games removing local multi-player it was negative. that’s where people are being pushed too. That’s where the mega money is. That leaves a space for us, we can’t do massive online multi-player. We can do local multi-player.
So, then we started to get the game out to more events we realised kids and familys became the core market. We’ve made this game originally for 25-35’s, because it reminds us of what we played when we were kids, but we realised kids today don’t know these kinds of games. There aren’t so many local multi-player games like this and they loved it. The parents loved it, playing together for fun. There’s no online leader boards. no connectivity with the outside world. When you play it, it’s just you and you’re friends. We just don’t think online is important for this game.
TIX – OK. The single player story, how long are we talking in terms of length?
Andrew – in terms of straight gameplay, 5-8 for the core storyline. but if you want to find the hours of extra content, thats something we leave the players up to. The idea is all the worlds are quite outlandish places where deliveries are difficult, testing the new box to see if it is up to the task. Whilst doing this you will come up against the ‘bad guys’ (styled like little greasers from the 50’s, but still animated boxes themselves) they have a big boss leader who you will fight in ‘boss fights’ each time you fight him he changes in his style. For example in the first world, it’s just him as a giant enemy, but in the second he has his own helicopter that he fly’s about in. There are loads of challenges, puzzles and collectables to go after and we are trying to hide stuff all over the place, I would love it if in twenty years, someone jumped up said ‘hey, I’ve found this thing hidden over here’
TIX – (laughs) you’ll do well to keep something hidden for twenty years. Sounds great fun. From what I’ve played so far it looks brilliant, what’s the game built on?
Andrew – The Unreal engine, which is a bit different in itself. Most people associate the unreal engine with twitch style shooters, online mulitplayer play and maybe more drab and dreary environments suited to those games. the first thing we did was turn up all the contrasts and colours making it as vibrant and colourful as possible. It’s been fun to use and we where all experienced with the engine anyway so it made sense to us.
TIX – on the development, have you seen many ups and downs with the production?
Andrew – I think, probably, the biggest down was that original single player, that we worked on for quite a while and it just didnt really captivate or engage we had to very rapidly change, In fact I basically had a eureka moment, in about June where it was like, wait! this game could be like a Mario world system and when we made that switch the whole team was asking ‘Andrew, do you really want to make that kind of switch this late in the game?’ I said yes, because its going to pay off. After two months of very very focused work we ended up at the bright colorful version we see now, instead of the drab grey box we started off with. So from a design standpoint that was a low point cause we didn’t know if it was going to work But we ended up being validated in our decision through the events we got to go to and show off the new design and changes. At minecon the story was getting 30 seconds of look in, at EGX people where playing it for an hour. so we got that ‘Yes, ok that was right’.
TIX – In today’s gaming industry we see a lot of DLC and micro-transactions, what’s the model your using for this when its released?
Andrew – Oh, very traditional, you buy the game, you get the content. simple as that. we had some discussions over maybe doing some accessory packs, as you’ve seen there are customisations for your box. But we have no grand plans. If people like it and are asking for multi-player maps over anything else, then we can build some. but we haven’t got anything worked on now that won’t be in the game at release its not a big overarching plan of development. if anything it’ll be reactive. if people want more hats will give them hats. (hats are on of the custom options for you box. I had a crown)
TIX – so I think I’ve run out of time now, but as one last question. If GPS was a real life postal service what would its tag lag line be.
Andrew – The best postal service in the world . . . .Mostly.
So, that was my time with Unbox and chat with Andrew. He is keen and knowledgeable over his game and very passionate about it. That’s all very clear when he is talking about it, we discussed a lot more but I am limited by space so have left you with the core of the conversation. I genuinely liked his charming little game, I’ll be looking forward to more information on it and a potential release date, look out for Prospect Games and Unbox you can check out the game at the website http://www.unboxgame.com/ I’m back off to my dark dingy room to remould my ass grove on the chair, I’ve been out of it for at least three hours now and I’m getting too accustomed to actual reality.