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Schafer on Happy Action Theater and Kinect’s future

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 10:20 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Tim Schafer has made a Kinect game playable by two year-olds. Simple? Not. Patrick Garratt speaks to the Double Fine boss on the difficulty in reducing sophistication and whether or not Kinect can ever appeal to the core.

Double Fine’s Happy Action Theater

Probably the first ever game a two tear-old can truly play.

Happy Action Theater is a string of 18 toy-style mini-games for Kinect.

Developed by Double Fine, headed by Psychonauts favourite Tim Schafer.

Out tomorrow for 800 Microsoft Points, around $10.

Double Fine’s Happy Action Theater is not a game. It’s a $10 toy you download for Kinect and present to your small children. As you’ll know if you have a two year-old child, video games are a failure for the very young. They’re too complex and the control input baffles tiny hands. While Kinect, in theory, should have done away with all that thanks to its supposed motion revolution, there’s never been a product suitable for what amounts to an insane human being with an utterly different perception to you or I.

Tim Schafer plans on changing that tomorrow.

Schafer spoke to me on the phone from the US last night on the thinking behind Happy Action Theater, the future of Kinect, independent development and hat preferences.

VG247: The idea for Happy Action Theater originally came from you wanting to make a game your two year-old daughter could play. I’ve watched a few videos of it and it does look extremely simple. I’ve got three kids, all under the age of six, and my twin boys have just turned three. Watching it, I can actually imagine them playing with it and getting it. I can’t think of a single other game about which I can say that. How difficult was it to strip away sophistication to the degree that a two year-old can honestly get a video game?

Tim Schafer: Well, it was a simple idea, and really hard to keep up the discipline of not adding things that would alienate that kind of player, whether it’s a two year-old or an adult at a party, or someone who doesn’t want to mess with anything – doesn’t want to be signing in, doesn’t want to mess with profiles, doesn’t want to mess with rules or tutorials. These ideas would keep coming up; someone would be like, ‘Hey we should add Achievements,’ and we did add Achievements, but then people wanted to add deeper rules, and score-keeping, and some sort of unlockable depth to the game. That kind of feature creep is really dangerous to a game like this, because even though it seems really simple it’s really deceptive because it’s very powerful when you put kids in front of it and see how much they’re able to make out of it.

This is the thing that I always find with kids’ games. They are never, they simply cannot be simple enough in the current format. They’re too complicated.

Kids are chaotic. I was really frustrated that the games we had couldn’t handle the chaos of her running out of the room and running back in, or getting too close to the screen, or laying down on the floor and grabbing my legs. If you have a little kid you know they want to hold your hand and grab your leg and get behind you and go on your shoulders and do all this crazy stuff when you’re playing together. And the goal was to make a game that wouldn’t be bothered; it would not break when chaos came, but actually would thrive on chaos, so that the game is actually at its best when it’s chaotic, with a room full of anarchic children playing.

Watching it, it does seem to be more of a toy than a game, which is exactly perfect for a two year-old kid. I watched you do the GiantBomb demo, and saw the lava level. Watching you and Ryan play that reminded me of my boys playing with something like Play-Doh, just fiddling around with something – there’s no real point to it especially, because kids think in a completely different way. Was it difficult to get your developers, who may not have experience of very young children, to get into their heads that that’s what a child might want to do?

It’s more of a toy. It’s really hard when you talk to a core game player, and they ask about how many hours of gameplay there is. How many hours is Play-Doh? It’s a difficult question to answer.

We made them so they were fun for us, in the office, for the developers, and then kids showed us new ways to make the activities fun. The lava’s a great example of something that I thought would be fun. What I remember from being a kid is playing Hot Lava in the kitchen, where you had to climb onto the kitchen counter and not step on the floor, get across the living room on the surface of the couch without touching. That’s how I thought it would be fun. When the kids played it, they immediately flopped into the lava, swam in it, splashed in it, kicked their feet up in the air. We didn’t anticipate this way being fun.

So we added gameplay there; we added the ability to get into the lava and get back up again, and now you have fire hands! Now you can throw the fire hands around. We went out of our way to make sure the game never had a point, because that would ruin it. I mean that in the best possible way. It’s meant to be the best possible waste of time. It’s not a waste of time in that it’s really, I think, inspiring to kids’ imaginations. Kids have great big imaginations but they sometimes need a suggestion or a background or a reminder to what the fantasy is. That lava helps them. Then they can pretend they’re hot lava monsters, or they can do hot touch, they can do whatever they want in front of the lava and make up their own game. It is more of a toy. It’s really hard when you talk to a core game player, and they ask about how many hours of gameplay there is. How many hours is Play-Doh? It’s a difficult question to answer.

You’ve got 18 activities in there, but I’m assuming Happy Action Theater was relatively cheap to make. This is the new Double Fine, with your idea of making low cost, downloadable games. Was this a common sense project for you? Did it fit well with what you’re doing with Double Fine at the moment?

Yeah. I mean, it’s even smaller. We split into four teams after Brütal Legend and made four games with teams of like 12 people, and this was a team of six. It was very small. I signed it over the phone with Microsoft, and I didn’t have to do a big complicated presentation or get a demo together. It was very like, “Let’s just do this, let’s not over-think this.”

Half an hour of GiantBomb playing Happy
Action Theater with Tim and co.

Trying really hard not to over-think it has been a mantra throughout the whole project, definitely in the pitching of it and in getting it done. As we saw the game go together and tested it and people started to see the impact it would have on kids, or just adults, we started investing a little more money in it just to polish it up and make it look really nice. But it was actually the possibility of the gameplay that was apparent to everybody. It’s hard when you pitch it, ’cause people might think it looks like a webcam game, or something that you could have done on the EyeToy years ago, but it’s not. If you really look at it with a programmer’s eye you can see what we’re doing stuff with the depth buffer and augmented reality, it’s actually really high tech and could only have been done on Kinect.

Talking about the technicality of it, Kinect, as with all motion cameras, does have issues with detection sometimes. One thing that two year-old children get very quickly is incredibly bored; when they’re playing something and it doesn’t behave in the way they want it to they’re going to lose attention very very quickly. Was it a key aspect for you to make sure it was fully responsive to what the child was doing in front of the screen?

Yeah. You could watch it and see what kids would do. You can see that they would want to sit there in the snow level, and they want to throw snowballs. They want to kick the snow around with their feet. You kind of see them doing this activity and it’s like, “What are they doing? Oh, they’re trying to kick the snow around. We have to make the snow kickable.”

We would follow the kids and create emergent gameplay for them on the fly based on what they would tend to do. As long as the game is always reacting to you, we don’t have any detection problems. That’s just the game we have; we don’t need to match any really difficult gestures, and we’re not using the skeletal tracking as much as most Kinect games are. We’re using the player blob, just identifying these rough blobs that represent players, so we just needed to know roughly where you are and what your shape is, and we can do all kinds of crazy things. We can cast shadows from the player onto the virtual objects in the scene with you – and vice versa, we can light you up; when you hold fireworks in the game, the fireworks can cast light on you. We can wrap lava around your couch in your living room.

And then we can do some of the coolest stuff. We can actually remove you from the scene because we record what your living room looks like without you, as you move around the screen while we build a background plane. In the fish tank, for example, you get pulled up by one of the fish hooks, or if the lava breaks and you burn, you’re gone from the scene. Which seems kind of natural at first because the fish hook drew you up, but then you’re like ‘Wait, I’m looking at my living room, and everyone’s here but me’. It’s pretty cool.

I think the best games for Kinect are games that were, like the Happy Action Theater, created wholly from scratch for the Kinect. They’re just designed for it. It’s not a replacement for an Xbox controller. There’s no right button, there’s no pressure in the left stick – it’s not a port. You can’t port your game to Kinect.

Kinect at the moment seems fine for high-latency software aimed at youngsters, and dance games have been very successful on it, but it’s difficult to argue that it’s working well for the core. This game works specifically because of what you said – it is high latency, kids do specific things and it doesn’t have to track them exactly. Do you think that we’re ever going to see core games aimed at adults with the current device, or do you think we’re going to have to wait for a hardware upgrade?

I don’t know; I think a lot of core people are working on that problem. I’ve been focussing on it as a device for families, just because I think that’s a really natural thing; try to think of who likes to stand up in the living room, and who likes to zone out on the couch. A family together is more likely to stand up and hop round and look goofy than the hardcore games player. I can see a hardcore player playing some sort of mixed martial arts game or something, where there’s kicking, doing all sorts of physical activity. But it is a barrier, getting some of them to move their coffee table and get into it and stand up, have them willing to do stuff with their full body.

It is great for people who have not been typically playing games. My mom, I can see her standing in front of the Happy Action Theater, and playing without help and not feeling impaired. But when you hand her a controller, she looks at it like, “Woah, what the heck is that thing?” Like it’s a bear trap.

It’s interesting you say that; you said at the start of the GiantBomb video that there are still barriers with Kinect games. That’s fairly ironic given Kinect was supposed to be the device that did away with the UI and opened up the entire notion of games to people like your mum or your daughter. Do you think in a sense developers are still really feeling their way with motion? That they haven’t quite got it yet?

I think they’re still trying to figure out how to make great games for Kinect. I think the best games for Kinect are games that were, like the Happy Action Theater, created wholly from scratch for the Kinect. They’re just designed for it. It’s not a replacement for an Xbox controller. There’s no right button, there’s no pressure in the left stick – it’s not a port. You can’t port your game to Kinect. You really have to start from the beginning and think about all the motions that the Kinect sensor is good at picking out, and all the activities that it picks up really well that have never been able to be detected before. Like directional voice; it can tell where in the room you’re talking from. Basing work around those strengths, I think, will lead to the best Kinect game.

This is your second Kinect game, so obviously you’ve got a better view than most about what’s going on with console motion control at the moment. Looking forward, how important do you think it’s going to be in the rest of this generation and moving into the next one?

I think it has a lot of potential, especially like I said for family games and physical games. I think it’s much more inclusive. It lets a lot of people people come in and play games who hadn’t been able to before. I think it will continue to grow in that area. I think it’s really important for consoles to provide something that can’t be provided by an iPhone.

Or a PC.

Or a PC. Well, there is going to be Kinect and Kinect-like things on PC really soon. You see the Kinect hackers doing all these crazy things, but there’s not a lot of products yet for Kinect on PC. I think it will eventually come to PC. I still think it’s not going away.

I can see a hardcore player playing some sort of mixed martial arts game or something, where there’s kicking, doing all sorts of physical activity. But it is a barrier, getting some of them to move their coffee table and get into it and stand up, have them willing to do stuff with their full body.

You saw it on mobile devices. There were a lot of games that were ports of existing types of games, but it took people a while to realise that tapping and dragging and sliding on a touch tablet is really different from using a controller. Games have started to emerge, especially this year, that are designed for a tap interface and work a lot better, and you can’t port them backwards to a PC or a console. They’re starting to come into their own; I think that’ll happen with Kinect.

Talking about business a little; you switched Double Fine’s strategy completely after Brütal Legend, and you stopped working with bigger publishers like EA and aimed straight at downloads with smaller, cheaper games. I went to Finland recently and every developer I met was doing exactly the same thing. Do you think this is a necessary tack if you want to stay independent? These guys were saying that triple A for independents is essentially dead. Would you agree with that?

It’s very hard to convince a publisher to give a lot of money for a new IP, a risky IP, especially when there are some really big, safe bets they can make. The more money you take from a publisher the less autonomy you have. We have a great relationship with Microsoft on this project; they let us make the game exactly like we wanted to make it. But we were asking for a small enough amount of money.

You know, Brütal Legend was a big expensive game, and I don’t know if we could sell something like that right now. Well, I can tell you, we probably can’t – it’s really hard to. It’s the end of the console cycle and people are being less and less experimental with new IP. There are a lot of pressures that make it more advantageous to an indie developer to do smaller games because the less money you’re spending the more autonomy and control you have.

And also the more things you can make. In our first ten years we only made two games, and [following Brütal Legend] we’ve shipped four. February 1 we’re shipping – in the States – Happy Action Theater and a DLC pack for Iron Brigade. That’s the first time we’re shipping two things on the same day. It’s fun, because we get to try a lot of different things. Instead of taking a huge bet on one game every four years, we’re a lot better off to take smaller bets on a couple of games a year.

I suppose there’s an awful lot less risk.

Yes. And a lot more fun. We specialise in coming up with new ideas, and the more often we get to come up with a new idea the better.

Are you looking at mobile and tablets for future games?

You know, Brütal Legend was a big expensive game, and I don’t know if we could sell something like that right now. Well, I can tell you, we probably can’t – it’s really hard to. It’s the end of the console cycle and people are being less and less experimental with new IP. There are a lot of pressures that make it more advantageous to an indie developer to do smaller games because the less money you’re spending the more autonomy and control you have.

I think so, yeah. I mean, now that I have one I can’t help but think, “What would be a fun game for this?” There’s a lot of ideas floating around for mobile and tablet type experiences.

I’m assuming GDC this year is going to be nothing but tablets, mobiles, browsers. I was really stunned when I went to Finland just how heavily these guys are focussing on really cheap games on non-traditional platforms. Are you expecting that from GDC?

I never know what to expect at GDC! I definitely know that there is an appeal in that for us. There’s a lot of potential in having a game on a platform that everybody has. I come up with ideas for it every day.

What’s going on with the turn of the century, cloth cap urchin thing with Double Fine? It’s all very Dickensian. Where did that come from?

The what? Turn of the century pop cap? What?

You’ve always got this sort of 19th Century, early 20th Century thing going on. You had it in Stacking as well. You’ve got it in Happy Action Theater; you’ve got the menu inhabited by little boys in cloth caps.

Oh! Oh, I thought you were saying pop caps. “What do you mean, ‘Pop caps?’”

Cloth caps.

What is it with pub caps? You know, that’s the same. Well, I don’t want to say we stole assets from Stacking, but we did have some hats hanging around. You know those caps, they just look good. Come on.

Everyone needs a cloth cap Tim. I know I do.

Exactly. I always call them pub caps but you – what’s that word?

Cloth cap.

What? How do you spell that?

Cloth cap. As in a piece of cloth: and a cap.

[Sounding very different with a US accent] Oh, cloth cap!

That’s it.

Cloth cap. I blame Lee Petty, the guy who came up with Stacking and he helped out with Happy Action Theater. Maybe he has a thing for cloth caps. Maybe he wants one for Christmas.

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2 Comments

  1. fearmonkey

    I love Tim Schafer’s games, and I wish he would make some more big budget titles, but I understand the reasons why.
    Brutal legend was made for me, as I grew up listening to the metal music he featured in that game, and I loved it, and I loved Full throttle, Grim Fandango, and psychonauts.
    One of the most creative people in the industry, Thanks Tim!

    #1 3 years ago
  2. DSB

    I’m a pretty serious metal fiend myself, and I’ve loved pretty much every one of Schafers games since Full Throttle, but even that couldn’t make me enjoy Brütal Legend.

    It was a poor implementation of a bad idea, and I’m pretty sure he knew it. It takes more than just a heavy metal theme to keep people away from a game, it just wasn’t very good.

    The nicest thing I can say about it is that it was the first game to feature Brocas Helm.

    I saw those guys on Keep it True last year, even got a picture of me and Jim Schumacher!

    #2 3 years ago

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    During the Mortal Kombat X stream today, NetherRealm Studios revealed Brutalities are back for the game, and stated there will be over 100 to pull off. You won’t gain any extra experience for being overly cruel with your painful moves, but you will at least get to laugh at some and “cringe” at others, according […]

  • Numenera: Strand is a film based on the game up on Kickstarter

    Numenera, the 2012 Kickstarter success and foundation for Torment: Tides of Numenera, could become a film if the Kickstarter for the movie is successful. With five days left, Monte Cook Games and Swedish film company Valdes/Eriksdotter needs £22,542 to reach its goal. Titled Numenera: Strand, it tells the tale of a drifter who “roams a […]

  • Gran Turismo 6 update adds MINI Clubman Vision, more

    A Mini Cooper has invaded Gran Turismo 6 via a new update. The Mid-Field Raceway track has also been added, and its a new and improved version of the original track from previous Gran Turismos. The new B-Spec Mode feature has also been added which allows the AI driver to race on your behalf. Additional […]

  • Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and some playable titles to PAX East

    Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and Splatoon with it to PAX East next month. The E3 2014 build of the game lets eight players transform into squids in a race for “splattered-paint dominance.” Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. will also be playable and featured in stage presentations at the Nintendo booth. Upcoming or newly released Nintendo […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium information seems to have slipped out early

    Battlefield Hardline Premium perks have apparently leaked a bit early, according to a post on Reddit. Over on the Hardline subreddit is an image which was take at a GameStop location, noting two week early access to content additional Battlepacks and more. Here’s the rundown: Four expansions Two weeks early access 12 additional Battlepacks Exclusive […]

  • Final Fantasy: Record Keeper arrives in the US this spring

    Final Fantasy: Record Keeper will be released in the US on iOS and Android this spring, DeNA and Square Enix today. The mobile titles allows players to “relive favorite moments” across all Final Fantasy installments and build a team of classic characters from across the entire franchise. If you sign up for email updates, you […]

  • Battlefield Hardline now available for pre-order, pre-download on Xbox One

    Battlefield Hardline is now available for pre-order and pre-download on Xbox One. You can pre-order it now from the Xbox Store and once you have paid for it, you can start your pre-download. Battlefield Hardline releases on March 17, and will be made available to pre-downloaders come 12.01am EDT. Check pricing and availability for your […]

  • Dying Light interactive video allows you switch between day and night

    A new video for Dying Light has been released, which allows you to hit the Z key to change between day and night. Titles Life and Death in the Quarantine Zone, the interactive story video showcases how the game changes between day and night. Daytime and nighttime are shown side-by-side but the z key allows […]

  • Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare out on PS3, PS4; PC delayed

    The Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is now available for PlayStation 3 and PS4. Havoc contains the four multiplayer maps Core, Drift, Sideshow, and Urban along with the AE4 directed energy assault rifle, its custom variant, and the Exo Zombies cooperative mode. You can purchase the DLC separately or pick up the […]

  • Here’s a teaser for Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2

    A teaser video for the second episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 is available, so if you’ve yet to play the first episode, you may want to skip this. Resident Evil Revelations 2′s first episode is out now. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • North American eShop update is full of Donkey Kong games

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Titan Attacks, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Country and more. eShop on 3DS Ironfall Invasion Titan Attacks! Donkey Kong Land – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 2 – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 3 – Virtual Console Luv Me Buddies Wonderland Around the World […]

  • Venture into the Valley of the Yetis next week in Far Cry 4

    The next batch of Far Cry 4 DLC, Valley of the Yetis, releases in March and Ajay Ghale will be tasked with surviving violent cultists and the mythical Yeti. Apparently the cult is looking for a secret hidden in the valley, and Ajay has discovered their motives. The DLC features co-op with a friend taking […]

  • The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack out for Payday 2, has dino masks

    The 19th DLC pack for Payday 2 title The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack is available on Steam from today. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: 11 new weapon modifications for the AK rifles in the game 11 new weapon modifications for the CAR rifles in the game Four new masks together with their […]

  • Battle Chasers slated for PC, consoles; comic picks up where 2001 storyline left off

    Darksiders creator Joe Madureira and Vigil co-founder Ryan Stefanelli have confirmed a Battle Chasers game and a new comic are in the works at their new studio Airship Syndicate. Speaking to Polygon, Madureira and Stefanelli wouldn’t provide details on the the game, but did divulge it will be an adventure RPG with player-controlled Battle Chasers […]

  • Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami 2 discounted for Sony’s annual Spring Fever Sale

    Sony is hosting its annual Spring Fever Sale which runs for eight weeks and features a new title each week. The sale starts next week on March 3 with the launch of Helldivers. Here’s just a few items included in the sale: HELLDIVERS (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March 3 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March […]

  • The gold Super Mario amiibo is a Walmart exclusive

    The Super Mario Gold amiibo which surfaced via a CPSIA certificate earlier this month will be a Walmart-exclusive, Nintendo has announced. The gold-colored Mario amiibo will be released the same day as the Mario Party 10 game for Wii U and will run you $12,96 at 3,000 participating Walmart stores in the US. Along with […]

  • Here’s an overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

    As new gameplay overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, culled from the Active Time Report, stream has been sent over by Square Enix. The video provides a look at the history and environments of the Kingdom of Orience; the 14 memebers of Class Zero; the battle system with customizable magic spells; and the ability […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 video gives you a look at the game’s wildlife

    A new video shown by Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata during the latest Active Time Report, contains a look at the game’s wildlife and ecology. You can watch the full stream two hour stream through here, or a smaller clip courtesy of GamesHQMedia below.

  • Lionhead ventures into the free-to-play space with Fable Legends

    Fable Legends will be free-to-play when it launches on PC and Xbox One. According to Lionhead, the one versus four cross-platform title borrows from MOBA games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends as it will contain free, rotating heroes which will be added to a roster for a two week period. Once the […]

  • Win! 5 pairs of tickets to the Call of Duty European Championships

    We have five pairs of tickets to giveaway for the Call of Duty European Championships, taking place in London this weekend. The event takes place this Saturday February 28 and Sunday March 1 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Winners can watch teams will go head to head for a $10,000 prize pot […]

  • Republique Remastered has released on Mac and PC

    Republique Remastered, which was announced earlier this month, is now available for Mac and PC. The game is 20% off through Steam, GOG and the Humble Store for $19.99 until March 4. Thereafter, it will run you $24.99. The Remastered edition contains all five episodes of the game, with 1-3 available now and the remaining […]

  • LA Cops coming to Xbox One in March

    Isometric shooter LA Cops is coming to Xbox One on March 13. Already on Steam Early Access, the game looks like it’s been heavily inspired by Hotline Miami. Walk into a room, open fire, leave bloody puddles in your wake. It’s being published by Team 17. Check out the video below for some 70s cop […]

  • We have $500 of Steam Wallet funds to giveaway!

    We’re giving away 10 Steam Wallet prizes worth $50 each to VG247 readers, courtesy of Bundle Stars. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning $50 Steam credit is to enter your details below. Join the Bundle Stars Steam group for entry in the sweepstake, and gain extra entries for […]

  • Lapsed Final Fantasy 14 players tempted back with 10 day freebie

    Square is offering lapsed FF 14: A Realm Reborn players a chance to come back to the game for 10 days worth of free adventuring. Provided you’ve already bought and registered an account you’ll be able to play free of charge from Feb 27 to March 9. Square wants you to sample the new content […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Sledgehammer looking at “opportunities” to recreate classic Call of Duty maps

    Sledgehammer Games has told VG247 it’s looking at opportunities to recreate classic Call of Duty maps in Advanced Warfare. According to co-founder Michael Condrey, players of the latest Havoc DLC are asking how Exo abilities and verticality can be added to classic franchise maps. “We’re taking a look at some opportunities to really highlight the […]

  • GTA Online reader playlist week 7: and the winner is…

    Stuff was shot. But only one player emerged victorious. GTA Online player e031271 won last night’s VG247 reader playlist, beating myself, Matt and regulars solidorwot and Revolting. Congratulations, Mr e031271. A deserved victory. We play a GTA Online playlist in an open session every Wednesday on PS4, because it’s both funny and fun. Anyone’s welcome […]

  • Leaked screens reveal The Reef as Destiny’s new “social space”

    A handful of leaked Destiny screens seem to confirm that The Reef location will be the new social space in Destiny. The new addition is likely to be revealed as part of the upcoming House of Wolves expansion. Reddit user Megamanexe4 dropped the screens on the site earlier this morning, along with grabs that reveal […]

  • Darksiders creator teases Battle Chasers game

    Joe Madureira, creator of Darksiders, has released art that strongly suggests a Battle Chasers game is in the works. Battle Chasers was a comic book from the late 1990s that suffered notorious production problems between issues and was never finished. Madureira formed Airship Syndicate after the collapse of THQ, where he co-created Darksiders. His latest […]

  • Infamous video nasty Axe recreated in GTA 5

    The trailer for notorious horror movie Axe has been recreated in GTA 5. The shot for shot remake is the work of gigerbrick who has previously recreated exploitation flicks like Machete and Hostel using Lego. The original Axe movie was banned in 1984 in the UK but passed with cuts in the late 1990s. Movie […]

  • Payday 2 for PS4 and Xbox One includes “a year’s worth of paid DLC” for free

    Payday 2: Crimewave Edition will include a year’s worth of paid DLC from the PC version of the game for free. The new-gen version of the game will be available June 2015, and includes almost all of the paid and free DLC released so far for Overkill’s popular first-person shooter. That DLC includes The Big […]

  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]

  • Toejam and Earl are back with a new Kickstarter

    The early 90′s are alive and well in a new bid to bring back Toejam and Earl. Toejam and Earl released for Mega Drive (Genesis, Americans) in 1991, and the eponymous characters went on to count among Sega’s best-known characters. They appeared in a platformer, a light gun shooter and finally a 2002 Xbox game […]

  • New Wander trailer shows off Azertash form

    Wander is a collaborative, non-combat MMO in which you can take on a number of unique forms. Wander players begin as an ambulant tree called an Oren and can progress through several different bodies as they explore the environment, learning its secrets. One of these, which we’d not seen before this trailer, is the amphibious […]

  • SOMA approaching beta phase on PC and PS4

    SOMA, the new horror game from the Amnesia: The Dark Descent crew, is getting close to playable. Frictional Games has apologised for its recent silence over the project, but said it’s focused on reaching beta. Sorry all for the silence! We're closing in on Beta and everyone's working hard to get there. Once that's done, […]

  • Square Enix does not condone Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest HD Remaster

    Square Enix has said it’s not involved with a fan remake of Final Fantasy spin-off Mystic Quest. 1992 SNES game Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is being remade by Dark Design as Mystic Quest HD Remaster. The developer is even taking pre-orders for the project. Unfortunately, it looks like it is in no position to be […]

  • New Hunger teaser released by LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers

    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]