Amy Hennig has not Been With EA since January of This Year, Star Wars Game Put in Stasis Plans to open her own game studio

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Some unfortunate news broke earlier today, first reported by Eurogamer, Amy Hennig of Uncharted fame, has departed from EA, effectively placing her Star Wars game in carbonite.

Read moreAmy Hennig has not Been With EA since January of This Year, Star Wars Game Put in Stasis Plans to open her own game studio

Pixels & Ink Episode #270 – The Fractured Snowman

Pixels & Ink Episode #270 - The Fractured Snowman

This week, Brendan Frye, Phil, and Lisa are joined by Bryan Calhoun.

First, out team explores the ramifications of EA closing down Visceral Games, and lament the future of the new Star Wars adventure game from the studio, that will never be. They also weigh in on CD Projekt Red’s Twitter reaction to a slew of negative reviews on the job review site, Glassdoor.

Phil gives us his take on the immensely disappointing The Snowman, and Leatherface, and the intensely fascinating Cell Block 99.

Finally, the team talks about Battlefront IIGran Turismo SportRogue Trooper ReduxMonsters of the Deep, Secret of Mana Remake, and South Park: The Fractured but Hole.


Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Want to read more about the topics we talked about today? Get the full scoop on CD Projekt Red’s response to negative reviews on Glassdoor, and the closing of Visceral Games! Check out Phil Brown’s reviews of The Snowman, Leatherface, and Cell Block 99, and South Park: The Fractured But Whole! You can also check out Adam Chapman’s review of Gran Turismo Sport

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Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out past episodes of the Pixels & Ink Podcast, as well as first looks at the latest games!

EA Shutting Down Visceral Games

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EA is shutting down Visceral Games, the studio behind titles such as Dead Space and Battlefield Hardline.

The Star Wars title that was in development will now be shifting studios and will be reworked into a new game entirely. Amy Henning, Ex-Uncharted director for Naughty Dog, who was overseeing the Star Wars project, is currently in talks with EA regarding the future of the Star Wars title.

“Our industry is evolving faster and more dramatically than ever before. The games we want to play and spend time with, the experiences we want to have in those games, and the way we play…all those things are continually changing. So is the way games are made. In this fast-moving space, we are always focused on creating experiences that our players want to play…and today, that means we’re making a significant change with one of our upcoming titles,” Patrick Söderlund said in an official statement.

Söderlund took to their official blog and talked about the Star Wars game and how the company has been developing and iterating the title based off of fan feedback. He went on to state that EA is currently in the process of shifting staff from Visceral into other sectors within EA.

A development team from across Worldwide Studios will take over development of the game, led by the EA Vancouver team that has already been working on the project. Steve Anthony, an executive producer at EA, will lead the team and will use much of the work that has been done to date by Visceral, according to an email Söderlund sent to employees that was obtained by Kotaku.

Hopefully, all the talented individuals at Visceral find new avenues and work opportunities that continue to contribute to the release of more great games.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Brendan Frye’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 release window coverage and Why the future of Star Wars is Skywalker free

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: The Evil Within 2, Forza Motorsport 7, and Cuphead!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Destiny Captures the Wonders of Space

Destiny Captures the Wonders of Space - 2014-10-07 16:39:32

Space is a pretty popular videogame setting for good reason. Venturing beyond Earth opens up so many possibilities to developers. They can vent their imaginations by creating fantastic alien races, implausible spaceships, and unheard-of technology. For the most part, though, the real wonder of the cosmos—its immensity and otherworldly nature—isn’t captured by videogames set in space. From the early days of arcade titles like Space Invaders and Asteroids to more recent releases like Starfox and Red Faction, space has been used as a kind of window dressing: an excuse to draw up weird enemy designs, hand players futuristic weapons, and maybe throw in a zero gravity level or two. This can be a lot of fun, sure, but it doesn’t take advantage of the wonder and mystery inherent to space. Luckily, Bungie’s Destiny is a game that accomplishes just that.

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For me, the most fascinating aspect of space always relates back to a feeling I first had while staring at maps of our solar system or flipping through photo books as a kid. I would try to pinpoint Ontario on the picture of Earth, then move back to look at Canada, a little bit further to North America, and finally all the way out to the size of our planet itself. Earth would become dwarfed in relation to the galaxy’s size and the pinprick within North America that represented my house would, of course, feel like little more than a speck of dust against the unthinkable massiveness of the universe. That sense of being a tiny, tiny part of some gargantuan world—one filled with incredibly strange and completely foreign sights—captured my imagination in a way that few other things ever have. It’s this kind of enormity that I always hope to see reflected in space videogames. Whether it’s accomplished through mind-bending discussions regarding the vastness of time and space or just highly original art design, a sense of wonder has to exist for me to get a big kick out of the setting.

Most often, players hoping to lose themselves in the grandeur of space usually have to head to the simulator genre. For someone like myself who prefers story-driven games, we often have to be content for a Star Wars-style approach to the setting—one where strange characters, inventive technology, and galaxy-spanning wars take precedence over any real, deep look at humanity’s place in the cosmos. Titles like Visceral Games’ Dead Space may evoke something bigger when the player, as engineer-turned-alien-killer Isaac Clarke, floats over the surface of a strange planet in his zero gravity suit, but these are rare moments in a game concerned primarily with exploring blood-splattered spaceship interiors. BioWare’s Mass Effect has come closer to the mark, especially with its “fast travel” system—a menu that places each planet Shepard and crew are capable of visiting on a map of the universe, complete with swirling macro views of far-off galaxies. The best moments of the sprawling science-fiction series extend this feeling even further by asking players to consider Shepard’s fight against the game’s otherworldly antagonists—the Reapers—in terms of the end of all known existence: about as big of a concept as any science fiction could hope to tackle.  
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More recently, Destiny has used a space setting to good effect through some of the most impressive videogame art design to date. True to an experience that sees characters frequently travelling between Earth, our moon, Mars, and Venus, most every moment spent playing Destiny is an exercise in enormity. Aside from occasional trips through subterranean buildings and caves, Bungie is careful to structure its levels so that its combat takes place before the backdrop of dramatic skylines. The player is always reminded of how alien the worlds they’re exploring are not just because there are four-armed creatures trying to kill them, but because completing missions requires them to wade through gaseous pools of liquid on Venus or climb sandy red hills on Mars. Even the loading screen (which, as long and frequent as it is, has burned into my mind’s eye) features the player’s spaceship flying through a vortex of interstellar light before descending into orbit over the planet they’re heading to. Destiny’s confused, poorly told story fails at giving its audience a reason to ponder the vastness of space, but, luckily, its visuals are constantly prompting these thoughts and inspiring a sense of awe.

This is one of my favourite aspects of the game. Space is supposed to engage our imaginations and force us to consider what lies beyond the limits of humanity’s current knowledge. When we allow ourselves to wonder how much we don’t know as a species, it can inspire us to think bigger and spur on new discoveries. Videogames that contribute to that kind of inspiration seem pretty worthwhile. Let’s hope we see more of them in the future.

Rethinking Release Dates

Rethinking Release Dates - 2014-08-06 10:28:09

Between Battlefield Hardline and Dragon Age: Inquisition’s delays and The Evil Within and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s earlier-than-expected arrivals, this past week has highlighted the inherent weirdness of videogame release practices. Players who were anticipating these games were likely either excited or disheartened to see their launch days shifting, but, most of all, they were probably left wondering why it was necessary to make these changes at all. I can’t pretend to know what caused publishers like Electronic Arts, Bethesda Softworks, and Warner Bros. to move their games around by—in some cases—as short a period of time as a few weeks. But, I do know that when this happens, the end result is a lot of confusion on the part of videogame players.

Like all forms of commercial media, games are given release dates that will help their publishers maximize profit. Those with a chance of making the biggest waves in the entertainment world are often scheduled for the holiday season when consumers are out in droves, looking for gifts. Even as we’ve seen higher and higher profile games taking advantage of the less busy months at the beginning of the new year, autumn continues to see the biggest release coming out all around the same time. This fall will bring Destiny, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Super Smash Bros., Far Cry 4, and the aforementioned Shadow of Mordor, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and The Evil Within. The publishers putting these games out have enough confidence in the (ugh) selling power of these titles that they want to release them during a time period where people are shopping like crazy.

There are a few problems with this approach, but the most relevant one is that not every videogame is ready for release when its autumn launch date comes around. One of the most recent (and notable) examples was last year’s Battlefield 4 release—a release that obviously wasn’t ready for public play. Frequent game crashes and technical glitches continued to plague the game throughout the fall season, demonstrating that publisher Electronic Arts likely rushed development and made Battlefield 4 available for an autumn release schedule it simply wasn’t capable of meeting. Rather than shift its release in the way that some of the games listed above have for this fall, Battlefield 4 was shoved out the gate to give holiday shoppers and new console owners something to buy despite not being finished.

Aside from this issue, there’s also the problem of release date announcements being used to keep fans invested in ongoing series, even if these sequels are revealed far, far in advance of their actual development completion. Titles like Mirror’s Edge and the next Mass Effect are already being teased when there’s nothing more than concept videos and images to sell fans on. Why project release windows for games that we have no reason to believe exist as more than internal prototypes? In the worst case scenario, games like Half-Life 2: Episode 3, Beyond Good and Evil 2, Prey 2 are announced and then seemingly shelved indefinitely by their developers. The encouragement of the hype machine that continues to serve as the foundation for videogame marketing practices grows out of control in these circumstances, pressuring developers to match audience expectations (that will always inflate out of proportion over a long waiting period) or, worse, create bad will when a game is never released because it was announced to the public far too early.

There’s something extremely refreshing when developers and publishers buck these release timing trends. Nintendo, despite (or maybe because of) its non-traditional distribution practices, is fond of announcing new titles—Tomodachi Life and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds—only a few months before they’re available for purchase. It also puts many of its games out at non-peak times, selling A Link Between Worlds near the end of the holiday release calendar and new Yoshi and Kirby games during slow periods during the spring.

While not every company can count on the kind of support that comes from the loyal fan base Nintendo has gained through the decades, taking some note of the way it has found success outside of the typical release model might be worthwhile. Hopefully this is the case and change is on the way—the way games are launched right now too often leads to the squandered potential of rushed releases and a whole lot of unnecessary frustration for players.

More Talent Leaves Naughty Dog

More Talent Leaves Naughty Dog - 2014-04-28 11:22:38

Another talent at Naughty Dog has left the company.  Lead character artist Michael Knowland has apparently departed from the house that Bandicoot built.

This is the most recent in a string of leaves for the developer. First, creative director of the Uncharted series Amy Henning left earlier in March and later joined Visceral Games in early April to oversee a new Star Wars game. Not too long after, Uncharted 4 director Justin Richmond departed and joined Riot Games who make League of Legends. And last week, art director Nate Wells left to join Giant Sparrow who made Unfinished Swan.

Knowland worked at Naughty Dog since 2011, where he worked on The Last of Us. Naughty Dog has yet to respond to the situation.

Former Creative Director of Uncharted to work on Star Wars Game

Former Creative Director of Uncharted to work on Star Wars Game - 2014-04-03 15:17:14

Former Writer and Creative Director of the Uncharted series, Amy Hennig joined EA’s Visceral Games to take over the creative director role in a new Star Wars game.

Hennig has a long history in the industry. Aside from her role in Uncharted ,  she’s known for her work at Crystal Dynamics where she worked on the Legacy of  Kain  series before she later moved to Naughty Dog to work on Jak and Daxter.

“As both a colleague and friend, I’ve always admired her approach to creative development – focusing on nailing down the soul of a game first, and then making sure the writing, the gameplay, the design and the art comes together to form a unified, interactive experience for the player,” Vice President and General Manager of Visceral Games, Steve Papoutsis writes.

According to Papoutsis, there were discussions on what game she would be at the helm of and Star Wars Made the most sense.