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Obituary: Longtime industry veteran Jay Moon

Longtime project manager and industry veteran Jay Moon has passed away, Gamasutra has learned. 

Moon played critical roles in a wide variety of notable games that sprung up during the 1990s, acting as producer, project manager, music coordinator, and public relations on memorable games like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Batman Forever, and NBA Jam Tournament Edition through the years.

He is credited as a co-founder of the development studio Iguana Entertainment and contributed to titles like Aero the Acro-Bat, The Pirates of Dark Water, College Slam, and Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls in various positions at the studio.

Moon also served as a software development manager for Sunsoft of America, and helped to start publications like Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro magazine during his storied career. 

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How Squidlit’s devs authentically recreated a Game Boy game in 2018

For those of you who miss the many shades of green, the chirpy sound effects, and the simplistic (yet challenging) gameplay of the Game Boy era, Squidlit is the answer to your prayers.

A Game Boy-inspired platformer, Squidlit aims to create a nostalgic experience through simulating the limitations of the handheld with their title.

In a recent interview with IndieGames.com, Squidlit devs Alex Barrett and Samantha Davenport talked about the challenges that came with designing a game for the classic system.

What drew you to create an authentic Game Boy experience 15 years after its discontinuation?

Samantha: We are, first and foremost, people who really enjoy playing video games. To that effect, we have a collection of a few hundred games that spans back to the late 1970’s. When Alex came up with the idea of creating our own video game, it seemed to make sense that we start, essentially, at the beginning with a console we know well and love. The first console Alex played was the Nintendo DMG Game Boy, so it was a natural choice.

When we looked at other games that sought to capture the nostalgia of a previous console, we always noticed that while capturing the look of a console like the Game Boy, it’s hard to find one that goes to the lengths to recreate all the console’s limitations as well. We thought to ourselves that if you don’t see something you think should be there, make it yourself!

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What challenges came with recreating the visual and audio style of the Game Boy?

Alex: I think the most challenging aspect of making Squidlit came from things going on in the background of the game. It was important to me that the four sound channels of the Game Boy be accurately represented. I had to make a system where if a sound effect used one of the channels dedicated to the music, the music on that channel would stop playing for the duration of the effect (it’s most noticeable when you talk to ooblugs). Also, almost all animations in Squidlit are synced to the beat of the music, so everything is that much cuter. This also took some finagling. Perhaps someone more experienced would have an easier time with stuff like this, but as my very first game it took months to figure out.

How did the limitations of the Game Boy technology affect the game’s design?

Alex: One of the more limiting aspects of the Game Boy was it’s inability to display more than 10 sprites in a horizontal line. Plip, for example, is made up of two 8 x 16 pixel sprites so the amount of obstacles we could throw in front of her was limited. I didn’t want any flickering to happen in Squidlit, so we had to go through every possible location of simultaneous objects on the screen and make sure we didn’t exceed this limit. The Game Boy also had an itty bitty 160 x 144 resolution screen, so you can’t see very far ahead of you. We put a lot of thought into trying to make the enemies fair in relation to your view.

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Were the play styles or visual themes dictated by the Game Boy limitations? How so?

Alex: I started doodling squidlits in high-school all over really serious things like math and economics. When I started making a game, I found they translated really well to the Game Boy’s limited palette. Kirby’s Dreamland was a big inspiration for Squidlit. Masahiro Sakurai, its director, once stated that the original concept for it used only one button. We took this to heart in trying to design a game around the Game Boy’s limited methods of input, and we ended up whittling the mechanics down to jumping and attacking using the same button.

What challenges did you face in creating cute characters and vibrant worlds when limited by the Game Boy’s visual style?

Samantha: When creating the world for Squidlit, we wouldn’t think about the technology at first. We would first talk about what the characters are like, what their world should be like, and what they would do. Skwit Skwot, God Emperor, does indeed have a reason for why she is creating this possibly dangerous magic, while Plip truly believes she must stop Skwit Skwot. The biggest challenge in this method was taking these grand ideas and finding ways to implement them into a GameBoy recreation. I think we managed quite well, as we ended up not having to sacrifice any of our major ideas.

If there was anything specific I had to point out, however, it’s the word limitation on how much each character could say before it felt overly tedious. It seems like some of the characters are saying a whole lot at certain points, but what they’re saying is very carefully condensed lore on what’s truly going on. That being said, Squidlit is a test run and prologue to our next title, Super Squidlit.

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How do you make your game feel fresh to modern players when working with a purposely-limiting older visual/audio style?

Samantha: In making a Game Boy recreation game, one thing we noticed was that a lot of platformer titles for the console didn’t really incorporate story too heavily. We decided that putting in an over-arching plot with hints as to motivations for both sides of the story would draw in more modern players with aspects of storytelling they are more familiar with. We also made sure to sprinkle in a hearty dose of Squidlit-y love and comedy in there to make things lighthearted and squishy!

Were there any rules of Game Boy development that you didn’t follow? Would this fit on an actual Game Boy cartridge?

Alex: To my knowledge, Squidlit doesn’t do anything that a Game Boy can’t. On that note, if anyone finds it doing something it’s not supposed to be able to, let us know and we’ll put out a patch! One could probably squeeze Squidlit onto a Game Boy cart from later in the console’s lifetime, and that was a deciding factor for the length of the game. We would probably have to pull some shenanigans to get some of the more fluid animations to play, much like Donkey Kong Land did. We capped the game at 30 FPS, even though the Game Boy can run at a full 60, to accommodate for some of the more complex things it does.

This article was originally published on Gamasutra sister site indiegames.com.

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Blog: Expressing values on a logarithmic scale

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Linear interpolation is incredibly useful, but sometime values are better expressed on a logarithmic scale. A good example is zooming in with a camera. Say you zoom in by 2x, then zoom in by 2x again, then once more. Visually you want to treat all of these zoom changes the same even though the last one is a change from 4x – 8x compared to the original zoom amount. While the following code will work, it won’t quite look right. The lower the zoom is, the faster the zoom rate will change. If you need some Google Earth style 100,000:1 zooming, it will definitely look wrong!

// Not-quite-constant rate zooming. :(
zoom = lerp(zoom, targetZoom, deltaTime/duration)

[embedded content]

Compare the two sides. Notice how the left side seems to speed up and slow down even though it starts and ends on the correct zoom level. That’s what regular linear interpolation looks like for the camera zoom. The right side keeps the same zoom speed the whole time. So how do you do that?

What you want to do, is convert the zoom values to a logarithmic scale, then convert them back to linear afterwards. No matter what your endpoints are, the zooming will always look smooth.

// Constant rate zooming!
zoom = exp(lerp(log(zoom), log(targetZoom), deltaTime/duration)

If you dust off that old sheet of power rules from your algebra class, you can simplify it a bit to this:

// Slightly simpler constant rate zooming!
zoom = zoom*pow(targetZoom/zoom, deltaTime/duration)

// ..or as a function:
float logerp(float a, float b, float t){
  return a*pow(b/a, t);
}

If your camera’s zoom is always changing to meet a target zoom level, you can combine it with the lerp() smoothing trick I posted about a few days ago. We did this in an old space game that we worked on to make the zooming extra smooth.

[embedded content]

Cheers, and happy zooming!

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Now Available on Steam – Frostpunk

Frostpunk is Now Available on Steam!

Frostpunk is the first society survival game. As the ruler of the last city on Earth, it is your duty to manage both its citizens and its infrastructure. What decisions will you make to ensure your society’s survival? What will you do when pushed to breaking point? Who will you become in the process?

Major Splatoon 2 update arrives tonight

Major Splatoon 2 update arrives tonight

Nintendo’s dropping some fresh (and free!) new content for Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch tonight! After downloading a major new update (Version 3.0) to the Splatoon 2 game at 6 p.m. PT, players will have access to a huge amount of new content. This includes the addition of more than 100 pieces of new and returning gear, new songs, the introduction of a challenging new X Rank for the top-performing players in Ranked Battle, weapon balance adjustments and the return of Callie of the famous Squid Sisters.

“As promised when the game was first announced, we are determined to provide players with new experiences and content in Splatoon 2,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Through these regular updates, we are ensuring that both players old and new will log on to fun new experiences.”

X Rank is an extremely challenging Ranked Battle experience targeting the best-of-the-best players. Players who are S+10 in the current Splatoon 2 ranking system will automatically be registered as X Rank after downloading the update. Players who are X Rank will battle for an X Power level. Once a month, 500 players with the highest X Power level for each of the four different Ranked Battle modes will be announced within SplatNet 2, a service of the Nintendo Switch Online app for mobile devices.

X Power levels will be reset every month. During this reset, players whose X Power level ends up lower than a set threshold will rank down to S+9. This new system encourages players of all ranks to enjoy improving their play and maintaining their skills, as opposed to simply focusing on ranking up.

The first X Power reset is currently scheduled for May 31, and any future resets will take place on the final day of that month. As part of these periodic resets, the rotation of eight selected stages in Ranked Battle (with two stages rotating every two hours), the addition of new weapons and the introduction of new stages will also occur. In fact, tonight will also see the return of the popular stage Camp Triggerfish, along with four additional weapons.

In addition to X Rank, when Version 3.0 goes live this evening, this new update adds more than 100 pieces of gear – some new, some returning from the original Splatoon game – as well as new songs from Chirpy Chips, a popular in-game chiptune-style band featured in the first game. The update will also include some weapon balance adjustments, bug fixes and other changes.

Fans of the Squid Sisters will need to sit down, as the software update also marks the long-awaited return of Callie. Once players meet a certain condition after downloading the update, Callie will appear in Tentakeel Outpost in Octo Canyon. As exciting as it is to see the Squid Sisters reunited, Callie will also offer recent multiplayer stats about the player’s character.

For complete notes about Version 3.0 additions and instructions about how to download the updates, visit the official Nintendo customer support site.

For more information about Splatoon 2, visit https://splatoon.nintendo.com/ or https://splatoonus.tumblr.com/. Check out ongoing Splatoon 2 Inkling Open tournament activity at https://e3.nintendo.com/splatoon-2-inkling-open/.

Game Shown:

Cartoon Violence

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GOG is getting more Steam-like with addition of new social features

The digital games platform GOG has introduced a batch of new social features to its website that let players view and share their own libraries and game activities with friends and other folks, similar to some of the social features already on its standalone GOG Galaxy application.

GOG has been a major player in the digital game retail space for a while now, but each of the new features added to its web client shows a shift in focus toward a more social atmosphere similar to what digital game giant Steam has been offering for years.

Each new offering is nested under new “user profiles” on GOG and split between new feed, profile, games, and friends sections. Through those new tabs, GOG users are able to view the recent gameplay statistics for themselves or others, compare things like trophies and gameplay totals against friends, and take a gander at friends’ game libraries, provided their privacy settings allow it. 

The new social features are already live on both GOG’s website and come with a handful of new privacy settings to match, the bulk of which are set to share information with only GOG friends by default. 

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Blog: How Tencent dominated the $22B games deals market

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


In games deal making there’s Tencent, then there’s everyone else. Tencent led or participated in over $4 of every $10 invested in games companies worldwide in the 12 months to Q1 2018. It was involved either sell-side or buy-side in over three-quarters of all games M&A deal value (i.e. dollars) in the same period. And this is in the context of record totals (not just Tencent) over $2.1 billion games investment and over $14.4 billion games M&A in the first quarter of this year alone. Digi-Capital’s new Games Report and Deals Database Q2 2018 tracked a total of nearly $22 billion total games market investments and M&As (again not just Tencent) in the last 12 months, as well as forecasting global games software/hardware market revenue to top $165 billion this year and over $230 billion by 2022. Let’s dive into the detail to see what’s behind the numbers.

Games investment in the last 12 months broke all previous records, with over $4.2 billion dollars invested in games market companies. As has become the new normal in the last few years, most of this money went into games tech and platform companies rather than game developers. In contrast to mobile games’ investment dominance of the last 5 years, the first quarter saw MMO/MOBA games investment, as well as AR/VR and eSports over the last 12 months.

Games investment dollars were dominated by mega-deals as usual, while the number of investment deals remained broadly flat. Amongst the big Tencent investments were:

Other non-Tencent deals include:

Games M&A in the first quarter was dominated by one giant deal, with Naspers selling 2% of Tencent for over $10 billion dollars for a 60,000% return (that’s not a typo). Tencent was involved in the $2 billion plus acquisition of Vivendi’s stake in Ubisoft, as well as buying a $142 million stake in Seasun. Non-Tencent M&A included Aristocrat buying Big Fish Games for just under $1 billion and Plarium for $500 million, as well as Stillfront Group buying Goodgame Studios for $318 million.

Even with over $17 billion of games M&A in the last 12 months, the high-water mark from 2016 of $28.4 billion remains an elusive peak. As with investments, the numbers of games M&A deals was broadly flat for the quarter.

Games IPOs might be reverting to the pattern of the last decade, where one bumper year is followed by two quiet ones. So where 2017 saw Netmarble Games, Sea Limited (Garena), Razer and Rovio IPOs, the first quarter of 2018 was largely silent. The rest of the year could determine whether we’ll need to wait until 2020 for the next big round of games IPOs.

While this year got off to a flying start for games deals, one thing’s for sure. Tencent’s the biggest player, and there’s more where that came from.

(You can find full details of over 2,100 games investment, M&A and IPO deals by sector, platform, country and investor/acquirer in Digi-Capital’s new Games Report and Deals Database Q2 2018).