Archive for the ‘Game Articles’ Category

Sonic

by Connor Sheridan via Total Film Magazine

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie’s redesigned protagonist appears to have been revealed.

His new look seems to be a heck of a lot closer to the speedy blue mammal you know from the games, after an early trailer promoted a vocal backlash from fans. Physical advertisements for the movie that show Sonic with a much less frighteningly human head have been spotted by eagle-eyed Twitter users. In fact, if you didn’t look too close, you might think it was just an extra-furry version of Modern Sonic.

Tails’ Channel | Sonic the Hedgehog News & Updates@TailsChannel

Here’s a wider picture of the allegedly leaked redesigned standee image. Source is also unconfirmed.

View image on Twitter
The original movie design for Sonic the Hedgehog gave him an upsettingly human-looking face (and teeth), giving him the overall effect of being a muscular child in a furry blue onesie. The redesign restores his skinny limbs, his white gloves, and his trademark lopsided smirk. It almost gives him back his old connected goggle eyes, though it doesn’t go quite that far into cartoon territory. The biggest remaining difference from the game version now, aside from having individually rendered fur/quills, is that his arms are still blue.

No official announcements have been made about Sonic’s new look so far, aside from the movie’s producer saying that “the fans have a voice in this too”, but the appearance in that leak lines up with another one spotted in October.

pablothinghouse@pablothinghouse

at this point its going to spread like wildfire, i posted the image to the public first and i didn’t take a photo.

View image on Twitter
The Sonic the Hedgehog movie was originally due to hit theaters this week, but it was delayed because of the overwhelmingly negative response fans had for the original design. It looks like fans are much more pleased with the new version, so hopefully the movie as a whole will be similarly well received when it hits theaters on February 14, 2020.

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by Mike Snider via USA TODAY

Can a video game be too real? That’s a concern being raised about “Call of Duty Modern Warfare,” the latest salvo in the multibillion-dollar video game series.

The new game, out Friday, has one scene set in a London townhouse known to harbor terrorists where British special operations forces are investigating. Inside, they find several people dressed as civilians. At one point, an unarmed woman disregards the commands of the soldiers and moves. Is she going for a weapon? Should the player shoot?

Another scenario puts the player in the role of a young Middle Eastern girl and her brother, also a child, who must fight off a Russian soldier after he breaks into their modest abode, murders their father and seeks to finish them off, too.

Can a video game be too real? That’s a concern being raised about “Call of Duty Modern Warfare,” the latest salvo in the multibillion-dollar video game series.

The new game, out Friday, has one scene set in a London townhouse known to harbor terrorists where British special operations forces are investigating. Inside, they find several people dressed as civilians. At one point, an unarmed woman disregards the commands of the soldiers and moves. Is she going for a weapon? Should the player shoot?

Another scenario puts the player in the role of a young Middle Eastern girl and her brother, also a child, who must fight off a Russian soldier after he breaks into their modest abode, murders their father and seeks to finish them off, too.

These scenes in the story mode of the highly anticipated “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” ($59.99-up, for Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4 and Windows PCs, rated Mature for ages 17 and up) were not included for shock value, says Taylor Kurosaki, studio narrative director at Infinity Ward, the Santa Monica-based studio that created the game.

“Just because we cover some heavy subjects, we are not treating them in a flippant way,” he said in an interview with USA TODAY. “The game puts you in some tough spots.”

That’s because “Modern Warfare” – beyond delivering the fun factor of a virtual shooting gallery – is meant to live up to its name in depicting “what the modern battlefield looks like,” Kurosaki said.

Concerns over the violence

Some early scenes in the trailers and previewed to video game journalists have raised eyebrows for the brutal violence needed to progress through the story.

Video game news site Polygon, in reporting on the game’s trailer last month, declared it “violent, morally conflicted and loud.”

Dean Takahashi of tech news site VentureBeat argued that, even though the townhouse incident may reflect modern combat, it “should not be a part of a modern video game, in my opinion, given the thin line between civilians and warriors and given the impression it creates in our world, which is driven by social media sound and video bites. It looks so much like you are killing innocent civilians. And if you make a mistake, you are.”

The Guardian suggested the game treads “a moral minefield.” The U.K. newspaper recalls that an earlier game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” released in 2011, had a scene in which a bomb exploded in London – killing a young girl and her parents, all tourists – that led a politician to accuse publisher Activision of “exploiting” for profit the suicide bombings in the city in July 2005.

When the new game hits and “politicians see a scene of civilian-attired people being gunned down in a London house, they’ll be asking a lot of questions,” Keith Stuart wrote in The Guardian.

“Call of Duty” has not shied away from courting controversy. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” released in 2009, had a player-controlled character infiltrate a Russian squad, which subsequently massacres civilians in an attack meant to falsely implicate U.S. forces.

That game sold about 4.7 million copies in its first 24 hours – touted at the time by Activision as the largest-ever launch of an entertainment release, whether movie, music or game.

This new “Modern Warfare,” which is a reimagining of 2007’s “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” has a lot to live up to. “COD 4: Modern Warfare” not only moved the fighting to fictional battlefields from historic ones – earlier games were set in World War II – but also ramped up the sensationalized action rivaling blockbuster movies and kicked off a trilogy of games that remain among the most beloved video game releases of all time.

“MW3” and “MW2” are the No. 4 and No. 6 top-selling video game of all time in the U.S., according to The NPD Group. In all, “Call of Duty” games hold six of the spots on the research firm’s all-time sellers list, which is topped by “Grand Theft Auto V,” released in 2013. “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” are No. 2 and No. 3.

The new “Modern Warfare” is expected to be the top-selling video game in the U.S. this year, forecasts Mat Piscatella, NPD’s executive director for games. That would continue a streak of “Call of Duty” being the top-selling console game franchise each of the last 10 years.

Attention to detail

Improved graphics make the soldiers and settings look true to life. Former Navy SEALs Mitch Hall and Steve Sanders were consultants and acted out some of the scenes in motion capture sessions, so the game’s soldiers move naturally and with purpose. Some scenarios were acted out on full-scale sets for added authenticity.

And the settings look more realistic, too, thanks to the use of thousands of real photos of buildings, tanks and objects stitched together in 3-D software in a process called photogrammetry.

In addition to seeking out combat veterans as consultants, Infinity Ward also worked with war correspondent Hollie McKay and young adult fiction author Somaiya Daud, as regional and cultural consultants on the portrayal of freedom fighters and women in the Middle East.

“We are talking about female representation in our the game, so we want to get that right as well,” said Kurosaki, who notes that most of the creative team are American males. “If we expect our players to have empathy for a character whose backstory is not like their own, then we have to do our homework.”

Players will get to play the role of a woman freedom fighter, Farah Karim, who, in addition to being the young girl pitted against a Russian in that flashback sequence mentioned earlier, becomes the commander of a faction based on the YPG, a Kurdish militia that fought in Syria. (Speaking of being ripped from the headlines, the YPG is the group being pushed from the Syria-Turkey border area after U.S. troops were pulled out of the area two weeks ago.)

“When all is said and done, Farah is going to join the iconic pantheon of Modern Warfare characters,” Kurosaki said.

Opting for realism resonates with gamers and should stoke sales, says Michael Pachter, industry analyst for Wedbush Securities. He expects “COD: Modern Warfare” to continue the franchise’s streak of $1 billion revenue per game, with sales of 25 million copies or more. Overall, Activision has sold more than 300 million “Call of Duty” games.

“The games that have performed the best are the ones that are closest to real life … (and are) something you could relate to and the weapons make sense,” Pachter said.

Controversy won’t likely hurt, either. “Yes, there will be backlash, but it’s an M-rated game,” he said. “(The game makers) assume that adults can handle that and in war that is real.”

But is it appropriate for your kids?

Many parents let their children and teenagers play “Call of Duty” games, despite its rating, which suggests the games are meant for those aged 17 and older.

Parents should take note of this game’s emphasis on realism, says Sierra Filucci, who is editorial director at Common Sense Media, a nonprofit advocacy group for kids and families. “Kids under the age of about 14 may be more vulnerable to the realistic violence in M-rated shooter games like ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ than older kids who can think in more abstract and ethical terms,” she told USA TODAY via email.

Should parents decide to let their teens play the game, “they should make an effort to play along with their kids, discuss the issues the game brings up in a curious and non-judgmental way, and address any behavioral issues that seem to stem from playing the game,” Filucci said.

Wedbush’s Pachter compared the game to “American Sniper,” an R-rated Oscar-nominated film starring Bradley Cooper as U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, who at one point had to decide whether to shoot a woman as she approached fellow troops. It turned out she had a grenade. In the movie, Cooper as Kyle first had to shoot the woman’s son, who originally had the grenade, too. “I think they are going for that,” Pachter said.

Exactly, says Kurosaki of the Activision-owned Infinity Ward studio. The game “makes you think and is an unflinching, uncompromising look at war today and the psychological toll that war takes,” just like that film and others such as “The Hurt Locker,” and documentaries such as “The White Helmets” and “Restrepo.”

The older “Modern Warfare” of a dozen years ago had a bit of a Michael Bay (director on movies from “Armaggedon” to the “Transformers” franchise)  feel to it, which worked for that time. Kurosaki sees commonalities in the “Modern Warfare” evolution and the transformation in the Batman franchise from the 1989 film starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson to the current “Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix.

“If you went into that film thinking you were going to get Jack Nicholson’s take on Joker and Michael Keaton and that cast of characters, you would be mistaken,” Kurosaki said. “I kind of wonder if that take on that universe plays today. So this is analogous to that.”

When you load into “Modern Warfare,” he said, “assume that you are going into a relevant, thoughtful, sophisticated, yet badass story that feels like it has something to say and feels relevant to audiences in 2019.”

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by Zheping Huang and Gregor Stuart Hunter via Bloomberg

Activision Blizzard Inc. is facing a fierce backlash and calls for a boycott after a unit of the American game company punished a player for supporting Hong Kong’s protest movement, the latest cultural clash between the U.S. and China.

Blizzard Entertainment banned Ng Wai Chung, known as Blitzchung, from its Grandmasters esports competition for a year and withheld prize money he had already won after he used a slogan from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. Players and fans around the world immediately responded with outrage over what they view as heavy-handed punishment and kowtowing to Chinese censorship. The topic erupted online, with #blizzardboycott trending on Twitter.

“I will never play Blizzard’s game from now on, unless they apologize to blitzchung and to HK people. Blizzard sucks,” one person wrote on a forum discussion thread called ‘Solidarity with Blitzchung, Censored by Blizzard.’

Hong Kong’s protests have sparked escalating clashes between Beijing and the rest of the world. The National Basketball Association was engulfed in controversy after the general manager of the Houston Rockets expressed support for the protesters, leading China’s broadcasters to pull NBA games and local companies to drop Rockets products. Apple Inc. was blasted by the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper for carrying an app and song embraced by the movement.

China’s Online Army Shows Foreign Brands Who’s in Charge

The Blizzard incident began when Ng — dressed in a gas mask and goggles in defiance of authorities’ ban on face masks — used the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” during a post-match interview. Blizzard, developer of games like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, said in a statement it instituted the ban to “prevent similar incidents” in the future. On the China microblogging site Weibo, Blizzard’s statement in Chinese was: “We will, as always, resolutely safeguard the country’s dignity.”

The blowback was immediate. In South Korea, Blizzard became a top trending subject on Twitter with people saying the company “prioritizes money over human rights” and that it is “crazy” and “‘disappointing.” In the U.S., an influential former Blizzard employee, Mark Kern, rebuked the company.

“You screwed up and traded your players in for dollars,” he tweeted. “There is keeping politics out of games, then there is grand standing to appease the Chinese Communist Party.”

Contacted for comment, Activision Blizzard reiterated in a statement plans to enforce its established rules of conduct: “While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.”

Activision Blizzard joins a number of international companies embroiled in controversy around free speech linked to China. Luxury brands like Versace, Coach and Givenchy have all fallen foul of Beijing’s demands to refer to both Hong Kong and Taiwan as parts of its territory and not suggest they are independent nations. During the summer, China also requested more than 40 foreign airlines stop referring to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries.

“As you know, there are serious protests in my country now,” Ng said in a statement to gaming blog Inven Global. “My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention.”

Activision Blizzard has tie-ups with Chinese gaming houses Tencent Holdings Ltd. and NetEase Inc. to distribute — and in some cases co-develop — new entries in beloved franchises like Call of Duty and Diablo in the world’s biggest video game market and beyond.

One player explained how much they enjoyed playing Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, but would be stepping back from it and joining the boycott.

“I hit level 45 tonight so when I read the news I was extremely sad,” the person wrote. “I can put up with a lot, but if it’s someone’s freedom or my money, I will gladly give up my favorite game so that others can have the same freedoms I enjoy.”

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by Todd Spangler via Variety

PlayStation 5, the official name of the next generation of Sony’s game console, will launch next year ahead of the 2020 holiday-shopping season, the company announced Tuesday.

But Sony is still keeping many details of the PS5 under wraps, including pricing and new game titles queued up for the more-powerful console. Sony released the first official details for the next-gen PlayStation in April.

Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, in a blog post announcing the 2020 target ship date, called out two new changes with the PlayStation 5 controller.

First, the PS5 controller will adopt haptic feedback to replace the “rumble” technology found in recent-generation consoles. “With haptics, you truly feel a broader range of feedback, so crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field,” Ryan wrote.

The second feature is what Sony calls “adaptive triggers,” which have been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2). Developers can program the resistance of the triggers so that, for example, players feel the tactile sensation of drawing a bow and arrow or accelerating an off-road vehicle through rocky terrain, according to Ryan. Sony has provided early versions of the new PS5 controller to game developers.

The PS5 will include ray-tracing support and have a high-speed solid-state drive (SSD) for improved performance. Sony provided Wired with a first look at the PlayStation 5 controllers; in the article, Sony clarified that the console will include ray-tracing acceleration in the GPU hardware and broadly described the PS5’s new real-time homescreen user interface that will show, for example, which missions and rewards are available for single-player games and active activities players can join in multiplayer games.

The PS5 will supersede the PlayStation 4, which was first released in North America six years ago. For Sony’s most recent fiscal year (ended in March) the Sony Interactive Entertainment unit generated about $20.8 billion in revenue (up 20% year over year) and $2.9 billion in operating profit — it’s the Japanese conglomerate’s biggest and most profitable business.

Sony isn’t done with the PS4, though, as Ryan pointed out. Upcoming titles for the PlayStation 4 include “Death Stranding,” “The Last of Us Part II” and “Ghost of Tsushima.”

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And yes, it’s drivable, with an LS1 V8 from a Corvette

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by Tony Markovich via Auto Blog

Sterling Backus’s son only had one question after he drove a Lamborghini Aventador in the XBOX video game Forza: Can we build one? Most dads would respond with a chuckle and some quip about winning the lottery. But not Backus, whose day job is laser physicist. Backus responded, “Sure,” and he meant it. As of this week, the replica is capable of driving under its own power.

Backus, the chief scientific officer at KMLabs in Boulder, Colorado, and his 11-year-old son dubbed the project “Interceptor,” and the build has a budget of about $20,000. Backus hand-built the steel chassis and pulled an LS1 V8 from a Corvette for power. He found the panel layouts through online design community GrabCAD, and then he modified them for 3D printing.

But he ran into a problem: The 3D-printed plastic would melt in the sun. So, he decided to incorporate carbon-fiber encapsulation (shown below), in which he wraps the parts and covers them in epoxy. Piece by piece, he assembled the shape of the supercar using a Creality CR-10 105 desktop 3D printer that he got for about $900 from Amazon. The front brake air intake alone is said to have taken 52 hours to complete. Additional cool features include a gated shifter, functioning lights, and scissor doors.

One of the fun aspects of the whole story is that Backus admits he had some learning to do when it came to the art form of additive engineering. So, he turned to the same place everybody else goes these days: YouTube. The physicist joked that he went to YouTube University and learned by watching videos.

With the end of the project in sight, Backus says he wants the final product to serve as an educational tool for Science Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) programs.

“The intent is to take the car to local schools to show kids how cool technology can be,” the project’s Facebook page says.

In the words of Jesse Pinkman, “YEAH SCIENCE!”

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EA

by Saqib Mansoor via Segment Next

Electronic Arts (EA) has been sent a legal notice to appear in the United States district court of Texas over at least two counts of patent infringement.

The lawsuit was filed by Stone Interactive Ventures (SIV) last month, where the plaintiff noted that it currently holds the rights to US7593864B2 and US8516473B2 in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. EA is required by law to obtain a license to operate on the said patents, which the publishing giant decided not to. Hence, EA must either obtain a license from the limited liability company — pay mounting royalties — or cease its ongoing infringement, at least that’s what the lawsuit alleges.

The patents in question are generally related to management and ownership of virtual properties, and distribution and sale of program objects. Apex Legends and Anthem were both quoted as examples through which EA continues to violate trademark law — specifically, through their in-game currencies.

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Apex Legends and Anthem have Apex Coins and Anthem Shards respectively that can be used to purchase cosmetics from an in-game store to customize the appearance of weapons and characters. SIV argued that the players are also infringing on the same patents by obtaining virtual properties through these virtual currencies.

In addition, the virtual properties can further be transferred or shared in-game, which is a violation of “purchase and ownership of property rights” as mentioned in the patent bylaws.

The lawsuit failed to mention any sum that the plaintiff wants in damages, leaving it to the court of Texas should a ruling be cast in SIV’s favor.

The world of patent infringement is a messy and complicated one. SIV, from what information is available, is basically a patent assertion entity that purchases patents to profit, not to use. Also, SIV has made claims on behalf of Intellectual Ventures Assets (IVA), the rightful assignee of the patents mentioned in the lawsuit, casting SIV as a possible shell company to duel these legal matters. Making it even worse is that IVA owns about 40,000 patents with no intention of using them anytime soon. It’s essentially a threat to aspiring entrepreneurs and large-scale technology companies.

Anthem

EA, while the defendant in this case, has also been securing patents that can drive microtransactions in the future. More recently, the publishing giant was spotted to have obtained a patent through an asset acquisition for a system that creates a sense of urgency to make in-game purchases as soon as possible.

The reason being that the virtual items decrease in value over time based on the number of purchases made. Hence, if players want to reap maximum benefits, they will want to be the first ones to make the purchase — a kind of day-one microtransactions.

EA also patented a technology that fiddles with matchmaking. Such a system can observe player-behavior (skill, experience, sportsmanship, and other preferences) before pitting them against each other.

By matching a novice against an experienced player, the system would basically be encouraging the novice to emulate the decked-out player by purchasing items being used by them. Hence, pushing microtransactions through enticement and a false perception of superiority, something that many other game publishers besides EA are gunning for as well.

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by Chris Smith via BGR News

The high-resolution render above shows us what a PS5 dev console looks like, and it was created using a newly discovered Sony design patent. The reason renders like this exist in the first place is that a developer accidentally confirmed the design on Twitter, and then proceeded to delete the message and his entire account. It turns out that a different developer with access to both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox 2 (Project Scarlett) has been sharing images of the PS5 dev box for a while now, as well as additional details about the upcoming next-generation Sony and Microsoft consoles.

Release date and specs

The leaker told Gizmodo in a series of emails that the blog was right with the assumption that AMD was slow to get ray tracing support on Navi, and that’s why both consoles couldn’t launch before 2020, in spite of both Sony and Microsoft confirming the main specs for each product. “Correct that AMD Navi v late,” the tipster said.

The person also said that the PS5 design above is codenamed Prospero, and it was delivered to developers early this summer. Gizmodo explained that Prospero is a character who appears in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Ariel and Gonzalo are other characters from the play, which are coincidentally the codenames that AMD may have used to hide its brand new console parts from the public. Ariel and Gonzalo were associated with new AMD semi-custom chips for gaming consoles, or Accelerated Processing Units (APU). A GPU called Oberon was also discovered earlier this year. The Shakespearian inspiration also suggests all these parts are made for next year’s consoles.

The tipster revealed that the future console will have “the greatest compute jump in any console,” without revealing any specific details.

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PS5 design

More interesting is the fact that the tipster provided highly altered images that showed a console like the one in the render above, but it didn’t have any markings that could help Sony and Microsoft identify the source:

The best photo our tipster sent isn’t much—a 33.5Kb gif that is just 238 pixels by 144 pixels. It’s been cropped and downgraded as if to remove any possible identifying details. Suffice it to say that from what we can see, the details in the photo appear identical to the [patent] registration illustrations. […]

What immediately catches your eye is that this device has a two-tone color job, much like PS4 developer boxes before. Much of what we see is covered in a shiny silver finish that reflects the garish overhead lights illuminating it. The parts not covered in the silver finish are covered in black plastic. The portion visible includes those five gill-like vents and that big V-shaped divot.

In other words, it sure looks like Sony designed a custom PS5 case that’s pretty complex to be used on a dev kit and then never again. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the design Sony will use for the new PlayStation 5 that will be released last year.

Xbox Scarlett camera
On top of all that, the report explains that both consoles should have built-in user-facing cameras to facilitate live game streaming. The PS5 dev kit featured older camera tech that will probably be replaced on the final product. But the Microsoft Xbox Scarlett kit comes with a 4K camera that’s able to deliver a two-frame latency between what’s recorded and what appears on the stream. Microsoft (and Sony) seem to be well aware of the increased popularity of game streaming, and the next-gen consoles might pack great hardware so gamers don’t need to buy third-party cameras to stream.

UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson denied to Gizmodo that any Scarlett camera technology is in development and that such camera tech had been delivered to developers.

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