The Detective Pikachu Movie Has Received a Release Date

Last week, we received the news that Ryan Reynolds would be voicing the starring role of Detective Pikachu in the upcoming movie. Following on from previous news, it seems that the film has more or less filled out its cast and is nearing the production phase of development. To back this up, word has recently broken that the release date has been set.

Detective Piakchu will be releasing on 10th May, 2019. It stood to reason that this would probably be a summer blockbuster, though the timing of its release certainly raises some eyebrows. Marvel’s Avengers 4—the conclusion of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe—will be releasing one week earlier, and that likely will dominate the box office for weeks. Hopefully, Detective Pikachu finds its niche, because if it does succeed, perhaps more Pokémon movies could be made.

What do you think? How will this movie perform? Will you go see it when it releases? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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New Zealand says lootboxes ‘do not meet the legal definition for gambling’

Responding to an email query, New Zealand’s gambling regulator–the Gambling Compliance office of its Department of Internal Affairs–told Gamasutra that “the Department is of the view that loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling.”

New Zealand’s is the latest regulatory agency to weigh in on the topic of lootboxes. Government officials, game developers, and players worldwide have been scrutinizing the lootbox monetization model, examining potential parallels with gambling. If officially categorized as gambling, loot boxes would require government regulation.

According to Trish Millward, a licensing compliance manager at the DIA, her office has been following the international debate closely. But, she said, they do not think that lootboxes meet the legal definition of gambling under New Zealand’s Gambling Act 2003. She added that, in any case, it was not illegal for New Zealanders to gamble online with overseas providers.

New Zealand’s government seems to be adopting a wait-and-see approach, which also hints at the complicated legal landscape awaiting game studios as regulators and legislators throw their gauntlets down on the lootbox issue.

There are, at present, a patchwork of legal frameworks to contend with; some regulators are taking an aggressive approach. From Belgium to Hawaii, officials are proposing laws to strictly regulate lootboxes.

New Zealand’s comments come after Victoria, Australia’a gambling regulator told a student, via email, that their department considered lootboxes to be a form of gambling. Hawaii and Victoria hint at another problem for game studios: competing legal approaches within the same country.

But for now, at least, New Zealand seems to stand united in their belief that lootboxes are beyond its regulatory perview.

Some in the industry will be cheered by the New Zealand approach, which mirrors the favored argument of the ESA and ESRB–that because lootbox contents supposedly cannot be traded for cash, they do not constitute gambling.

This argument has its flaws and will be tested, certainly, but for now it forms the basis of regulatory policy in an important Anglophone market.

The Department of Internal Affairs email is reproduced in full below.

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Ubisoft Milan on the pitching process of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

“it was very stressful, because we were trying to show something to them that was the same quality and level of polish, but with a twist. Some craziness on it.”

–  Creative director of Ubisoft Milan Davide Soliani on pitching original ideas to Nintendo.

In a recent interview, Ubisoft Milan’s managing director Dario Migliavacca and creative director Davide Soliani discussed their experience working with Nintendo on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

Migliavacca and Soliani mention their collaboration with Nintendo, citing how generating new ideas for a title with an established IP relies a lot on developers taking risks. 

Their prompt was pretty open ended, as Migliavacca recalls: “It started with a very simple mandate. We had to propose a concept with Mario and Rabbids, that’s all.”

According to Soliani, the challenge of pitching something original to Nintendo was daunting, saying that “It’s always better to dare. Worst case scenario, they say no. But at the same time they want to be surprised. Otherwise they will make the game themselves. So they really want you to try.”

Sharing his ideas directly to Miyamoto was a challenge as well, says Soliani. “Knowing that he was expecting something that would surprise him, it’s not so easy to live with. I would say that I was in front of this IP with a lot of respect, but also with the strong will to show my perspective.”

In the interview the pair also speak about the challenges of developing a game with someone else’s IP, as well as what the development process was like for the studio.

Check out the full interview available at Develop.

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Video: The making of Little Inferno

What do Amazon Prime and videos of a Yule log burning have in common with Little Inferno? As Kyle Gray points out, they serve as some inspiration behind the reason players set items ablaze in game. 

In this 2014 GDC session Tomorrow Corporation’s Kyle Gray discusses the development process of Little Inferno, where he goes over everything from early prototypes of the game to sharing concept art used to help flesh out the environment.  

Designers interested in learning how Little Inferno was developed can now go back and watch the talk completely free via the official GDC Vault YouTube channel!

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Americas.

Review: Mutant Mudds Collection (Switch eShop)

The Mutant Mudds series has seen its fair share of love from critics and players alike over the last few years; the wonderful Mutant Mudds won us all over when it originally released on 3DS (and then again in a deluxe version for Wii U), and then Mutant Mudds Super Challenge came along, taking everything we already knew and loved and turning every aspect up to eleven. Now we have Mutant Mudds Collection on Switch – a package which includes both of these games in their entirety and throws in a brand new puzzle game for good measure. Lovely stuff!

From the main menu you’ll have the option to jump into any of the two previously released titles as you see fit; there are online leaderboards for each game and you can have up to three save files on them, too. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the Mutant Mudds games are retro-inspired platformers that are essentially moulded around a very simple set of controls and rules. You work your way through a number of levels with only a hover jump, three lives and a water gun to see you through, jumping back and forth between sections at different levels of depth from the screen.

The general layout of each level is fairly similar; with a limited set of actions you’ll never be left wondering what to do and even the enemy types don’t vary all that much. Despite this, things get fiendishly tricky rather quickly and reaching the end of each level with all 100 golden diamonds in your possession can be a huge challenge. The difficulty comes in the precision that you must achieve and the need to master your hover jump and water gun skills to absolute perfection.

The first game, Mutant Mudds Deluxe, is made up of an initial twenty levels – each containing hidden exits that make you play through harder sections to reach a second end-goal – as well as a kind of alternate universe which sees you play through much harder versions of the original twenty levels. The game starts with a tutorial to help you to learn the basics (you’ll definitely want to start with this game if you’ve never played any entries to the series before), and then you’re away – running and gunning your way through various muddy monsters.

Mutant Mudds Super Challenge is a completely different beast entirely; the basic idea, controls, look, and feel are identical to the first game in many ways, but the overall difficulty is increased to a rather staggering degree. This game also introduces boss fights (which add a nice – but challenging – change to the usual gameplay), more collectables to find in each level, and twenty unlockable characters for you to find within the game’s courses. We should point out that we’re not exaggerating the difficulty level here in any way; the first game was already tough in its later stages, but Super Challenge is really designed for the hardcore platforming fans out there – you should expect to die a lot.

There is also a third option to select on the main menu: Mudd Blocks. This is a puzzle game that has been newly released for this collection and features several ways to play. The basic idea is to create chains of coloured blocks that will all explode and clear from the screen when a bomb is thrown down towards them and, if you love your old school-styled vertical monitor displays, there is also support for a TATE mode layout. There is an ‘endless mode’, where you simply aim for a high score, two-player versus and co-op offerings which see the game be played in split-screen, and several different other ways to play which are easily the best of the bunch.

‘Rescue’ has you trying to break someone out of a cage in what turns out to be a rather stressful back and forth of making sure to damage the cage when possible, but also keeping the surrounding blocks safe from reaching the top of the screen and ending the game. Another of our favourites, ‘Numbers’, sees you having to blow up particular blocks in a set order – the moment you destroy a block that isn’t next numerically, you lose. If you already own both of the main games Mudd Blocks might not be quite enough to warrant another purchase to those inclined not to double / triple dip, and we would say that more detailed in-game instructions showing how the game actually works wouldn’t go amiss. It is, however, a very welcome addition that makes this collection just that little bit more special.

The overall aesthetic of this package is as wonderful as the games have always been; the retro feel has been captured perfectly with bright, vibrant, sprite-based visuals and a cracking chiptune soundtrack. The game feels particularly good in handheld mode, although it does also work absolutely fine on the TV; it’s just a shame that the 3D display features can’t be realised on Switch. It is evidently clear that the levels were made for the 3DS – the changes in depth worked wonders with the stereoscopic display of that console – but, of course, this just isn’t possible on Switch.

In a way, Mutant Mudds shouldn’t be as great as it is. The levels are arguably quite repetitive (particularly in the first game), and the lack of new enemy types or changes in the actions that you must perform is something that we’d usually consider for criticism. However, everything about how this game plays is marvellous; the tightness of your character’s controls and the satisfaction you feel from jumping around each level give it that quality it needs to be considered a truly great platformer. The games are super tough, and many players will struggle to see them through to 100% completion, but they are pure, addictive fun.

Conclusion

Mutant Mudds Collection gives Nintendo Switch owners the chance to own two fantastic platforming games in one handy, portable package, as well as a nice extra in the new puzzle game, Mudd Blocks. The difficulty of these games may well put a reasonable amount of players off – Mutant Mudds Super Challenge in particular is one nasty fiend – but the overall quality of the two original titles places this collection amongst the best within its genre that the eShop can offer. If you love platformers, and you don’t mind a hefty challenge, do yourself a favour and buy this game.

Taking Ark into Hard Sci-Fi with Aberration

Everyone at Studio Wildcard is super stoked to finally get Ark’s second massive expansion pack, Ark: Aberration, into player’s hands tomorrow December 12.

This new world puts players on a malfunctioning Ark drifting in space, with a harsh sun-baked radioactive surface, and a massive internal underground network encompassing varied biomes and fantastical creatures.

A large stockpile of new items gives players powerful new options for traversing environments, such as wingsuits, zip lines, and climbing picks. And across Aberration, fantastical new creatures such as Rock Drakes and Basilisks make their home among the ruins of damaged Ark technology.

While unique environmental hazards including earthquakes, radiation sickness, and dangerous flora pose new challenges, an ever-present concern is the infestation of the Nameless. These mutated humanoids dig their way out of the porous ground and are relentless unless held at bay with Charge Energy — which survivors can store in battery packs and emit via powerful blasters or organic Lantern Pets. But perhaps the greatest threat comes from the Reapers, massive alien monstrosities which can impregnate foes to spawn offspring, and their horrifying master lurking in the deepest depths of Aberration.

Ark Aberration Screenshot

Clearly, Ark: Aberration is a different kind of experience. This new expansion presents more mythos and world-building that we’ve done in the past, including its ending sequence which directly points the way to Ark’s future.

Aberration’s theme is more of a “hard sci-fi fantasy” than the Earth-like jungles and grasslands of The Island. And we think that’s fun, because a key goal for the dev team at Wildcard is to keep players on their toes. With each of Ark’s expansions, the intent is not simply “more content”, but also, “different content.”

Ever since we first conceived of Ark, we knew its universe was about more than simply living with Dinosaurs and extinct creatures. In a grander sense, Ark is about what it means to be a true survivor, as an individual, and as a species — and how far humanity might be willing to go to secure its ultimate future among the cosmos. These sci-fi elements, which you’ve probably noticed if you’ve progressed deep into Ark: Survival Evolved, is brought to the forefront in Aberration. We’re excited to see what players make of some of the crazy surprises we have in store for them, tomorrow in Aberration, and beyond!

And if you’re not interested in high-minded philosophical pretensions, you can always just tame a trusty Rock Drake, cloak yourself upon a wall, and pounce onto some unsuspecting noob as they take their first steps onto this new Ark. Welcome to Aberration, survivors!

Capcom Could Be Bringing Even More Ports To Nintendo Switch

It was only a few hours ago we reported on Square Enix expressing renewed interest in opening up its digital back catalogue to Switch thanks to a very strong first nine months for the console, and now it looks like it’s not the only Japanese publishing powerhouse potentially planning exciting things for Nintendo’s premier hardware.

According to a tweet by Dr Serkan Toto – the Tokyo-based CEO for games consultancy firm Kantan Games – Japanese financial newspaper The Nikkei conducted in an interview with Capcom CEO Kenzo Tsujimoto in which the big cheese revealed Nintendo Switch’s handheld/tabletop premise has turned out better than expected. More importantly, he added that Capcom is now considering bringing even more titles to the platform – more specifically, those that have yet to make an appearance on a Nintendo console.

With Capcom already digging deep into its portfolio with the very successful ports of Resident Evil Revelations Collection and the 12-game-strong 30th Anniversary Street Fighter Collection (due out next year), it’s clear Capcom is all in when it comes to Switch.

So what franchises could Capcom be potentially considering? We’re quietly hoping for the first two Dino Crisis because dinosaurs, but what do you want to see it bring in 2018 and beyond? Sound off, below! 

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Microsoft Launch SimplyGon Cloud

A year ago Microsoft acquired Simplygon, a polygon optimization tool.  Back in May they announced that Simplygon connect was now free.  Simplygon Connect is a web service you can use to upload your assets to their servers for processing.  Today however Microsoft has releasedSimplygon Simplygon Cloud on the Azure Marketplace.

If you were looking for a more dedicated service, Simplygon could be a good fit for you.  Description from the getting started guide:

Simplygon Cloud is an optimization service that runs on Microsoft Azure.

Simplygon is not a public service hosted on the Internet; it is a service acquired in the Azure Marketplace. This means that when you acquire a Simplygon instance in the Azure Portal, that Simplygon instance will only be used by you and whoever you provide access to.

If you need an on-premise solution, Simplygon is also available on Azure Stack, the on-prem version of Azure.

Simplygon Cloud is capable of processing the following formats:

Asset

Of course, to utilize Simplygon Cloud you need a 3D asset. In this version of Simplygon Cloud (1.0), the following asset formats are supported:

  • GLTF
  • FBX
  • OBJ
  • SSF (Simplygon Scene Format)

If you asset uses non-embedded textures or consists of multiple files (like for example GLTF), you will need to provide all files to Simplygon Cloud to be able to correctly process a file.

GameDev News

Review: River City: Rival Showdown (3DS)

Following on from last year’s River City: Tokyo Rumble, Natsume is taking the rough ‘n’ tumble Kunio-Kun out for another spin in a follow up action game. River City: Rival Showdown largely follows the same beats as its predecessor, but refines many of its ideas down into a tighter and more enjoyable experience. Though it still isn’t perfect, particularly in terms of its difficulty curve, this is a worthy entry in the series and an excellent 3DS beat ’em up, to boot.

River City: Rival Showdown sees you take control of Kunio-Kun, the baddest kid on the streets, as you defend your turf against the encroaching threat of a pair of powerful twin brothers. After they wipe the floor with you in an initial encounter, you’re given three days to prep before they battle you again. In this time, you can explore around town beating up thugs, eating ramen noodles, and buying new outfits in your bid to be the toughest fighter out there.

Essentially, it’s a retro beat ‘em up, with open world and RPG elements sprinkled in for good measure. You’ll run around the city as Kunio-Kun and fight hordes of rival gang members from other neighborhoods and schools through a combination of punches, kicks, throws, and special moves. Chaining together combos and flooring groups of enemies can be immensely satisfying, and things get more interesting as you level up Kunio and unlock new abilities. It’s a simplistic form of combat to be sure, but it’s easy to pick up and still poses enough of a challenge that seasoned gamers won’t be turned off too early.

You have three days to train up Kunio as much as you can before the big confrontation, and what you do with that time is largely up to you. ‘Events’ will be taking place in various other parts of town – denoted by an exclamation point – and you can choose which ones to walk to. Usually these result in some story-based fight, the outcome of which will effect which of the multiple endings you’ll receive upon completing the game. Along the way, of course, you can pick fights with thugs you find in the streets, or they’ll pick fights with you. And when you’re not brawling it out, you can eat some stat boosting food at a restaurant or kit Kunio out in new clothes that raise stats and add other effects. All of this combines for a satisfying feedback loop that empowers the player at a decent rate while also keeping the pressure on to always be improving.

Issues do exist, however, with large difficulty spikes that persist throughout your adventure. The random fights you get into when traversing the world are just that, so you never know whether you’ll be fighting a squad you can take or one that will positively steamroll you. It’s not uncommon for you to get in a fight with a group of thugs that you knock out in about three hits each, only to be followed a few minutes later by a squad of iron-skinned superhumans that easily overcome your pathetic resistance. This can lead to uneven pacing, as you receive experience and money in stints that vary from you rapidly progressing in a short window of time to more or less halting progress altogether. A more smoothly judged difficulty curve would be appreciated here, and while the option to run away from fights is always there, it runs counter-intuitive to the point of the core mechanics.

There’s some multiplayer options here, too, which help pad out the package. If another friend has a copy of the game, you can choose to tackle the story mode in co-op, but the real meat comes in with the new Double Dragon Duo mode. This one can be played through download play, too, and it essentially crosses over beat ’em up gameplay with a fighting game. You pick from a roster of characters and duke it out in a 2D ring, punching and kicking your foe (or bludgeoning them with the crowbar that drops in the middle) while utilizing a range of character-specific moves to gain the edge. It’s great and provides a mostly distinct experience form the main mode, yet there’s enough similarities that it doesn’t feel out of place as an additional piece of the main package.

From a presentation perspective, River City: Rival Showdown is rather forgettable, but it nonetheless gets the job done. The story mode sees 2D sprites moving about on more or less photorealistic backdrops, making it feel a bit like a diorama in motion. The issue with this is that the environments lack significant detail and feel rather static and lifeless, like you’re moving in front of a picture instead of a place. Granted, the visuals aren’t all that important in a release like this, but it still feels like more could’ve been done on this front to make the game feel a little more animated. The soundtrack is similar; there’s a few catchy beats here or there, but the largely-synth based music is mostly just there to fill space. It manages to set a good pace and tone for the action, though, which is a nice plus.

Conclusion

All told, River City: Rival Showdown is a worthwhile beat ’em up game, certainly worth the price of admission. Though the oscillating difficulty curve and the ho-hum presentation hold it back from true greatness, this is a game that no beat ’em up fans will want to miss out on, and it also stands as a great entry point for those looking to try out the genre or this particular series. We’d give this one a strong recommendation; between the meaty campaign and the fun side mode, River City: Rival Showdown will likely hold your attention for some time.

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Team Kaliber Crowned Call of Duty World League Dallas Open Champions

Earns Winner’s Share of Event Prize Pool and Becomes Early Favorite in New CWL Season Featuring $4.2 Million in Overall Prizing – the Largest in Call of Duty Esports History

Next Up CWL New Orleans Open, Jan. 12 – 14

SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The CWL Dallas Open culminated with Team Kaliber claiming the top-place finish during a fiercely competitive tournament in Call of Duty®: WWII. Teams Splyce, OpTic Gaming and FaZe Clan rounded out the top four spots to conclude the three-day competition at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171211005841/en/

Team Kaliber (left to right; Dylan "Theory" McGee, Lamar "Accuracy" Abedi, Kenny "Kenny" Kuavo and M ...

Team Kaliber (left to right; Dylan “Theory” McGee, Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi, Kenny “Kenny” Kuavo and Martin “Chino” Chino) wins the CWL Dallas Open (Photo: Business Wire)

CWL Dallas Open Champs Team Kaliber claimed the largest piece of the event’s $200,000 prize pool, as part of the new season’s $4.2 million prize pool, the largest in Call of Duty esports history.

“Team Kaliber winning CWL Dallas means everything to me. We’ve all been putting a lot of hard work in the last few years and I’ve had a chance to watch all my friends succeed in that time. I relive this moment through their eyes and now I’ve had my chance to win,” said Team Kaliber’s Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi after being named CWL Dallas Open MVP. “Thanks for all the fans in the crowd and watching online. This has been unbelievable.”

The enormous open bracket of more than 200 teams proved to be the largest CWL open event competition ever, where they faced-off over the weekend in front of live fans and online at MLG.com/CallofDuty.

Here are the final rankings for the CWL Dallas Open:

  • 1st – Team Kaliber
  • 2nd – Splyce
  • 3rd – OpTic Gaming
  • 4th – FaZe Clan
  • 5th/6th – Echo Fox / eUnited
  • 7th/8th – Luminosity / Team EnVyUs

Team Kaliber established themselves as the early team to beat in the new Call of Duty World League season. The focus now shifts to New Orleans, the site of the season’s second open event. CWL New Orleans Open will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on January 12-14, 2018.

CWL New Orleans Open tickets are available now in multiple varieties. General admission passes for the event are available for $59.99 (plus applicable fees and taxes). A Premium Pass for the event is also available for $89.99 (plus applicable fees and taxes) and includes an event t-shirt and one month of MLG GameBattles Premium. A $299.99 (plus applicable fees and taxes) VIP ticket is also available and includes an event t-shirt, event jacket, one-hour early entrance to the venue, access to the VIP Lounge and more. For tickets, visit MLG.com/CWLNOLA.

Visit CallofDuty.com/esports and follow the Call of Duty World League on Twitter and Instagram for the latest CWL updates. For live broadcasts and Video on Demand, visit MLG.com/CallofDuty.

About Activision Publishing, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading global producer and publisher of interactive entertainment. Activision maintains operations throughout the world and is a division of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI), an S&P 500 company. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s website, www.activision.com or by following @Activision.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Publishing’s expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements about the expected features of the Call of Duty World League and the dates and features of the CWL New Orleans Open, are forward-looking statements, that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing’s actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Publishing and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Activision Publishing nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Publishing or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

© 2017 Major League Gaming Corp. ACTIVISION, CALL OF DUTY and CALL OF DUTY WWII are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. MAJOR LEAGUE GAMING is a trademark of Major League Gaming Corp. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.

Call of Duty World League
Xav de Matos
Public Relations
xav.dematos@activision.com

Source: Activision Publishing, Inc.

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