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Free to be Unreal - Why Epic's masterstroke will unleash creative opportunity

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Development, Epic Games, Free, Modders, Modding, Unreal Engine 4, Unreal Tournament

Free to be Unreal - Why Epic's masterstroke will unleash creative opportunity

Last year we were taken by surprise when Epic announced that not only would Unreal Tournament would free, but it would be developing it alongside the community. Now, they’ve gone and surprised us again, dropping the subscription fee and opening to doors to anybody who has even a passing interest in developing with the Unreal Engine 4, let alone a professional one. The news arrived alongside a new video from the studio, explaining how the move will work and the opportunities available to anybody. See, that’s the key word there – anybody. All of a sudden Epic’s proprietary engine is no longer just developers and serious enthusiasts, meaning we should see even more weird and wonderful things emerge from the modding scene.

As I learned when I spoke to Epic Games at Gamescom last year, the team thrive on the interaction with the community, both in terms of their input and their creative contributions. While the Unreal Tourament project is the catalyst behind it all, the truth is that the Unreal Engine 4 is becoming a melting pot for innovative ideas. Case in point – in my interview I learned how a modder had created an Assassin’s Creed style parkour mod for others to download and tinker with, just because there previously wasn’t one for UE4. The only different between then and now is that the ability to get involved in the hands-on discussion no longer costs a thing.

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INTERVIEW | Epic Games on the new UK studio, UT’s development, & Unreal Engine 4’s strengths

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Development, Epic Games, Gamescom 2014, Interviews, James Golding, Jim Brown, Unreal Engine 4, Unreal Tournament, Zack Parrish

INTERVIEW | Epic Games on the new UK studio, UT’s development, & Unreal Engine 4’s strengths

When we head over to Gamescom each year it’s usually the done thing to go and check out all the games. After all, there’s more than a few of them there, and here at Dealspwn we do like our games. However, we were presented with an opportunity to chat with some of the people behind the Unreal Engine 4 – the latest version of Epic Games’ proprietary engine – to discuss how it has been doing in the hands of developers, and in turn learn more about the community-driven Unreal Tournament project. In a day full of presentations to other developers, I was lucky to sit down with Technical Artist Zak Parrish, Lead Programmer James Golding, and Senior Designer of the UT project Jim Brown, to find out more about one of the industry’s leading development tools.

To start off, I had to ask about Epic’s newly opened UK office. Comprising mostly of the team at Pitbull Studio, last month’s announcement was a huge boost to the industry here in the UK. I asked the team what it was like officially bringing them into the Epic family and setting up shop on our shores. “I moved back over here in January to help set up the UK office, and that’s been super exciting to be back in the UK and seeing Epic make a commitment to the UK and embrace all the talent and stuff that’s going on here,” said Golding. “We already have a lot of developers using the engine in the UK and interested, so that makes sense, and we’ve had this relationship with Pitbull for a couple of years now, working super close with those guys and we’ve been treating them like peers, like part of Epic, for a long time, so it feels very natural.”

INTERVIEW | Epic Games on the new UK studio, UT’s development, & Unreal Engine 4’s strengths

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COMMENT | Aiden Pearce: The most boring protagonist since Alex Mercer

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Character Creation, Development, Protagonists, Storytelling, Ubisoft, Ubisoft Montreal, Watch Dogs

COMMENT | Aiden Pearce: The most boring protagonist since Alex Mercer

Good God, Aiden Pearce is boring. Another one of those characters who mistakes having a growl for a voice and a long list of cookie-cutter grievances for being someone with depth and drama to their persona. Aiden isn't a particularly interesting character, he doesn't inspire empathy, sympathy, admiration or anger. I tried to sum up some of his more notable qualities and I ended up staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page for a good ten minutes.

Chicago has a good crack at trying to make Mr Pearce more interesting by association -- constantly serving up opportunities for him to simply be a cipher by which we can live out our own hacker-centric flights of fancy, but then that Christian Bale-esque voice creeps back in with another stab at gritty narration, and Ubisoft try to convince us that Aiden is someone who matters via Tom Waits impressions, and all I want to do is give him a Strepsil.

COMMENT | Aiden Pearce: The most boring protagonist since Alex Mercer

 

 

The comparison with GTA is coming up a lot, thanks in part to Ubisoft's Big Mass Market Decision to quietly sideline the more original aspects of Watch Dogs in favour of traditional open world staples (guns and driving, yo!). But I actually think Watch Dogs as a franchise has the potential to go further in terms of game world interaction mainly due to the level of playful control you can eventually exert over the city's systems. That can't be said for the game's story or characters, mind, Aiden in particular.  Rockstar revel in phenomenally detailed character studies (consider how fantastically crafted John Marston was as a complex character), but Ubisoft Montreal, though they can hit heights, have a Connor for every Ezio.

To be fair to Connor, mind, even he's better company than Aiden.

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Ryse Under Fire For Callous Crunch Time Tweet

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
#RyseFacts, Crunch Time, Crytek, Development, Ryse, Tweet, Xbox One Games

Ryse Under Fire For Callous Crunch Time Tweet

Developers Ate "More Than 11,500 Dinners" At Work

Ryse and #RyseFacts are making headlines right now, but for entirely the wrong reasons. A seemingly callous tweet about the stressful pre-launch 'crunch' period and the enormous amount of overtime involved has lead to Crytek taking fire from all corners of the industry.

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Watch Dogs Director: "Build Games Around Ideas Not Tech"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Development, Jonathan Morin, PS4, Ubisoft, Ubisoft Montreal, Watch Dogs, Xbox One

Watch Dogs Director: "Build Games Around Ideas Not Tech"

With Watch Dogs being one of a handful of games looking to bridge the gap between current-gen and next-gen consoles, we asked creative director Jonathan Morin if this dual-focus had impacted the development of the game at all.

His response was a relatively simple negative. Why? Well, he said that it was because the release window for next-gen had been up in the air when development began on Watch Dogs, and that the team were already looking to push the limits of current-gen when the PS4 and Xbone were finally revealed.

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PS4: Indie Titles To Help Bridge Gaps Between Marquee Releases

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Development, Indie Games, Mark Cerny, PS4, Shuhei Yoshida

PS4: Indie Titles To Help Bridge Gaps Between Marquee Releases

Sony's Mark Cerny and Shuhei Yoshida have discussed the importance of ease of development on PS4 and how they hope to avoid the problems that befell the PS2 and PS3 post-release as strong launch lineups gave way to software drought.

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Gibeau: Best Games Come From "Small Teams With Strong Cultures"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Development, EA, Frank Gibeau

Gibeau: Best Games Come From "Small Teams With Strong Cultures"

EA Labels head honcho Frank Gibeau has said that one of EA strategies going forward will be to reinforce the idea that you don't need to throw money and bodies at a project to make it successful, rather that the best games tend to have, as Gibeau puts it, "small teams with strong cultures".

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Dragon Age 3 and Mass Effect 4 To Share Core Mechanics

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
BioWare, Development, Dragon Age III, Mass Effect 4

Dragon Age 3 and Mass Effect 4 To Share Core Mechanics

Seriously, Dragon Age, they'd better be good

I don't hold grudges much, not really. But I'm likely to hold onto Dragon Age II for a while. Still, we've been given glimpses of open-worlds, bespoke systems, and no replication of the lazy design that peppered Dragon Age III's predecessor. It's benefit of the doubt time, probably.

It'll rather have to be, as it turns out that Mass Effect 4 will be cribbing many of Dragon Age III's central systems to make development easier.

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CD Projekt Open New Krakow Studio

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
CD Projekt, Development, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

CD Projekt Open New Krakow Studio

CD Projekt are awesome. You and I both knnow this. They make awesome games such as The Witcher, they run an awesome, DRM-free online, retro-resurrection shop called GOG, and they're renowned for being awesome to their communities and their consumers.

And now they're opening an awesome new studio.

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RUMOUR: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 15 Has Been Canned

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Development, EA Sports, EA Tiburon, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 15

RUMOUR: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 15 Has Been Canned

A new report has suggested that EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise will take a little hiatus, skipping out a year for the first time since the series' inception.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 15 had been due for release in 2014, with the title allegedly set to be outsourced so that the in-house team at EA Tiburon could get to grips with the next-gen consoles and aim for a stellar next-gen title with PGA Tour 16.

According to Kotaku, however, who spoke to "persons with knowledge of the series' development", Tiger Woods PGA Tour 15 will not be happening on any platform.

Apparently, the outsourcing plan was scrapped following John Riccitiello's resignation as "a cost-saving move".

The Behemoth: Industry "Crap Shoot" Here To Stay

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
BattleBlock Theatre, Castle Crashers, Development, The Behemoth

The Behemoth: Industry "Crap Shoot" Here To Stay

The developers behind Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers and  BattleBlock Theater have suggested that no matter what size you are -- big or small, in-house or independent -- games development is something of a gamble, and that the industry "crap shoot" is not going away any time soon.

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Walton: Publishers See Devs As "Replaceable Meat Puppets"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Activision, Development, EA, Gordon Walton

Walton: Publishers See Devs As "Replaceable Meat Puppets"

Industry veteran Gordon Walton has slammed big publishers for seeing developers as "replaceable meat puppets", praising EA for at least trying to do new things under John Riccitiello, and has prophesied thatActivision's business plan will "end in catastrophe".

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Activision's Next-Gen Rendering Tech Vid Contains A Lot Of Gurning

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Activision, Activision Blizzard, Development, Graphics, Tech

We've been crying out for Activision to get off their arses, put their rears into gear, and develop some new graphical engines, particularly for Call of Duty. No, Treyarch; Blops 2 does not count. At all.

Anyway, Activision demonstrated their new facial rendering tech at GDC, and it looks pretty damn good. Although the video was captured using a GeForce GTX 680, in DirectX 11, at up to 180FPS, the demo at the show itself was apparently running on a two year-old laptop.

"For us, the challenge goes beyond entertaining; it’s more about creating a medium for better expressing emotions, and reaching the feelings of the players," wrote Activision Blizzard's technical director, Jorge Jimenez.

[via ShackNews]

Fares: Some Publishers "Interfere Too Much", MS and Sony "Too Cocky"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Development, Josef Fares, Microsoft, Next-gen, Sony, Starbreeze, Valve

Fares: Some Publishers "Interfere Too Much", MS and Sony "Too Cocky"

Film-maker and Brothers game director Josef Fares is an outspoken chap. In amongst chatting about his upcoming game last week, he told Dealspwn that although Starbreeze and 505 Games have given him total control over his game, there are still publishers out there who "interfere too much" when it comes to development, even dragging down franchises in some cases.

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Codemasters Speak Of "Easier" PS4 Development Process

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Cive Moody, Codemasters, Development, PS3, PS4
Discuss:
PlayStation 4

Codemasters Speak Of "Easier" PS4 Development Process

Codemasters are the latest studio to  speak out in favour of the ease with which games can be developed for the Playstation 4. Of course, considering that all PS3 dev kits came with two years' supply of bubble wrap, 5,000 stress balls, and a bottle of anti-depressants (these may not be entirely accurate facts), teaching a manatee to juggle is probably easy by comparison.

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Kongregate Launch $10 Million Mobile Dev Initiative

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Development, GameStop, Kongregate, Mobile games, PC games

Kongregate Launch  Million Mobile Dev Initiative

Browser-based games portal Kongregate have launched a $10 million initiative designed to encourage mobile developers to release games through their platform.

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Crytek On Vigil: "Darksiders III Didn't Fit With Our Strategy"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Cevat Yerli, Crytek, Crytek USA, Darksiders, Development, Vigil Games

Crytek On Vigil: "Darksiders III Didn't Fit With Our Strategy"

Earlier in the month we reported that Crytek had snapped up around 30 or so ex-Vigil staffers, including founder David Adams, to help form the company's first US-based studio. Recently, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli discussed the move, expressing surprise that nobody made a bid for the studio during the THQ auction, and explaining why no-one should be expecting Darksiders III any time soon.

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Techland: Retail Development Often Forces "Features That You Don't Want Or Don't Need"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Blazej Krakowiak, Call Of Juarez: Gunslinger, Development, Digital Distribution, Digital vs Retail, Techland, Ubisoft

Techland: Retail Development Often Forces "Features That You Don't Want Or Don't Need"

With Call of Juarez: Gunslinger set to release on digital platforms in Q1 2013, Techland have moved across from retail to explore marketplace opportunities across XBLA, PSN, and virtual distribution platforms on PC and Mac.

As International Brand Manager Blazej Krakowiak told Dealspwn last week at an Ubisoft Digital event, Techland are looking to deliver a game that raises the bar for what digital games can achieve and deliver. But even  beyond that, he suggested that going digital has allowed Techland to make the game that they themselves really want to make, and given them a freedom that they never had at retail level.

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Warren Spector: "I Don't Think I Ever Stopped Making Games Like Deus Ex"

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Cartoons, Deus Ex, Development, Epic Mickey, Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two, Serious games, Warren Spector

Warren Spector: "I Don't Think I Ever Stopped Making Games Like Deus Ex"

Warren Spector has once gain reiterated that although it might look like he's changed development focus in the last decade or so since his masterpiece Deus Ex, that he's really following the same processes and design philosophies that he's always done.

Asked what changed for him in between Deux Ex and Epic Mickey in a behind-closed-doors Q&A session with Dealspwn at Gamescom this year, Spector's response was relatively simple: on the one hand he doesn't see it as a huge change at all.

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Remedy: Next-Gen A "Quantum Leap" Over Current Systems

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Development, Hardware, Next-gen, Quantum Leap, Remedy Entertainment

Remedy: Next-Gen A "Quantum Leap" Over Current Systems

Is it time for a Scott Bakula DVD marathon? Well, always, but that's not what we're talking about here. Max Payne and Alan Wake devs Remedy Entertainment have suggested that the next generation of games consoles are something of a "quantum leap" over current tech.

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