Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is, at its very core, an act of fan service. From Software and Namco Bandai couldn't ignore the 100,000-strong petition to get the game ported to PC, yet it's been clear all along that the project has required the developers to step well outside their comfort zone.

Not content to phone it in, though, the PC-agnostic studio has spent these last months creating a wealth of additional content that expands the game's sparse, but poignant lore and explores the backgrounds of semi-familiar characters like Artorias of the Abyss and Dusk of Oolacile.

Brand Manager Brandon Zien walked me through an hour's worth of this new content, which takes place about halfway through Dark Souls' campaign and sends our undead protagonist hurtling into a portal and backward through time.

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Exclusive Interview With Battleship SFX Creators »

About ten minutes from the heart of San Francisco lies the sprawling Letterman Digital Arts Center in the former Presidio U.S. Army post. It is here -- not Dagobah -- where you will encounter Jedi Master Yoda, standing proudly atop a water fountain at the main entrance of Industrial Light and Magic. From an entire Galaxy Far, Far Away to the digital dinos of Jurassic Park who stomped the path for the twenty years of computer generated characters that followed, ILM has long been synonymous with awesome. In fact, we as an audience have become so accustomed to such spectacular imagery conjured up by these wizards that it's easy to forget the amount of time, care and detail that goes into creating just a few seconds of screen time in our weekly summer blockbusters. Universal Pictures' Battleship , which splashes onto Blu-ray and DVD on Aug 28, is no exception.  We were invited into the inner sanctum of ILM to discuss the development of Battleship's visual effects and get a first look at a few supplemental features that Universal has up its sleeves for its home video editions.

Upon entering ILM, we were led through halls adorned with classic film posters from George Lucas' personal collection along with models, miniatures and matte paintings.  It was as though we were being greeted by old friends -- childhood pals from our earliest movie memories -- from E.T. to Slimer to one of the main alien "Regents" from Battleship himself!  Once inside ILM's posh screening room, we were treated to a first look at "The Visual Effects of Battleship." 

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Tags: TV

Jaws Resurfaces on Blu-ray


Posted August 20, 2012 - By Guest Writer

Jaws 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray Creators Interviewed »

In 1975, a young, unknown director named Steven Spielberg gave birth to the modern day blockbuster and changed moviegoing forever with a simple man-versus-nature tale. Jaws, the film that still has audiences thinking twice before taking a dip in the deep blue sea, is now on Blu-ray for the first time ever. The new disc comes with an new, digitally remastered and restored picture and 7.1 surround sound, and will be loaded with both the Blu-ray as well as DVD and digital copies, so we can all enjoy a nice, terrifying shark attack on our iDevices while relaxing safely on beach.

As part of Universal’s 100th Anniversary celebration, Jaws was fully restored from its original 35mm film elements over the course of five months, where Universal meticulously balanced color, removed dirt and scratches and repaired film damage frame-by-frame. The entire restoration process was conducted in conjunction with Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment’s post-production team to ensure that Spielberg’s original vision remained intact. While that all sounds amazing, does it mean we will be seeing digitally enhanced versions of "Bruce the Shark" swimming around in the climax of the film?

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Tags: Movies, TV

EVO 2011 Photo Gallery

(With The Games happening in London, now would be a good time to take a look at our own virtual athletes. Jay Snyder took home the gold at last year’s EVO 2011 for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 championship. He explains to us what drive him to be a champion and ways you can become a competitor with a couple of tips from the pros.)

Different fighting games require different skill sets and Marvel seems to fit best with mine. I excel at the creative part of gaming where coming up with new strategies is rewarded and that’s what Marvel is all about. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a little more than eight months old, and the game still has so much more to explore with half the characters still being unknown quantities in the tournament scene and some combinations with top tier characters still unexplored.

That’s what keeps me coming back as a player, the exploration and the drive to get better. All fighting games are about constant self-improvement because the goal is a moving target. Everyone else is improving every day also so in order to stay on top of the game you have to beat the competition even when you aren’t actually playing against them. If this sounds like work, then fighting games probably aren’t for you. To me, the process is as much fun as the end result.

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The Dark Knight Rises Teaser Trailer #2 »

The good news: I got to play through the first few missions of The Dark Knight Rises on iOS last week. The bad news: I've been spoiled on the first few key events of the movie; such is the risk of games writing. The Dark Knight Rises’ design is still a bit of a rarity for iOS games, namely a fleshed-out open world experience.

It certainly doesn’t compare to Rocksteady’s console achievements with the Batman franchise, but this release by Gameloft does feature a high-production mix of free exploration, mission-focused adventuring, and close-up combat.

Batman may not have his Batpod available at all times (certainly not in the beginning of the game), but he is adequately mobile, thanks to both his grappling hook and gliding ability. Practically every edge of a building is fair game for the grappling hook, and the UI gives very visible indicators for these hooking points. That includes reeling in enemies from a distance for a discrete takedown.

At times I’d pull in a thug while he was in mid-conversation, though that didn’t seem to bother, let alone alert, the other guy. This was a preview build, though, so I wonder if Gameloft allotted themselves enough time to fix such bugs.

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Outernauts Teaser Trailer »

In terms of keeping up with market trends, Insomniac's venture into Facebook via its newly revealed Outernauts might feel somewhat belated, considering how Zynga made their mark back in 2009. Yet what the console game developer hopes to do is bring its brand of plot-driven game design to the social platform, the same kind of narrative draw that made Ratchet & Clank and Resistance so well known. Facebook gamers know all there is about goals (farming or otherwise), but do they know quests? Insomniac is looking to educate the social gaming masses.

Some of us do like character motivations and narratives to pull us into a game. We could care less about having the biggest city or a thriving cafe. With Outernauts, there's a conflict against an intergalactic megacorporation, a race to find a universe-changing artifact, and lots of space pirates to battle. Your playable hero, whose name you choose, could be either gender and can have their hair, skin, and armor customized. Like many RPGs, armor pieces each have stat enhancements, and completing a set of a particular kind of armor will yield bonuses.

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How To Get A Job In Video Games: Your Career Resource Guide

Want to make games, but you don’t know where to start? Want to start up a studio, work for your dream developer, or strike out on your own as an indie? Not sure about any of that, buy you’re dying to work in games? You’ve come to the right place. Getting into the game industry can be tough, but a passion for games, a lot of hard work, and a dollop of insider knowledge can go a long way. Read on for our full video game career guide.

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Gears of War 3

Game developers Cliff Bleszinski from Epic Games and Amy Henning from Naughty Dog know a thing or two about videogames, and during the Microtalks at GDC 2012, they and others discussed the idea of time, and how it influcences game design. 

If you've ever wondered what what Cliff Bleszinki's rules are for starting out in the videogame industry, read on to find out what he -- and other great videogame minds -- think about the topic of time. 

Between running all over the place for preview events, dealing with the massive block lengths in San Francisco and the crunch of deadlines, I haven’t had time to see many panels at GDC. Thankfully I was able to cover the conference’s famous microtalks—in which ten developers and influential industry figures are given just twenty slides that can only be displayed for 16 seconds each to talk about a theme. The theme this year was “playing for time,” which, as Richard Lemarchand said, is largely about uncertain futures.

Richard Lemarchand – Designer, Naughty Dog

Lemarchand introduced us to the theme of playing for time, explaining the point of the subject matter would hopefully spur building something with value and a legacy.

“Are we building games that have some lasting value, that respect people’s time and give them new ways at looking the world? Embracing play as an important, powerful aspect of life that can help bring friends and family closer and help to learn more about what it means to be human?”

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Saint’s Row The Third Postmorte

Love it or hate it, Saint’s Row: The Third was one of the most over-the-top, bat-crap crazy games of 2011. An SR 3 level of finely tuned insanity doesn't happen by chance; it comes from careful planning, tons of hard work, and the kind of eureka! moment that can only spring from a giant purple dildo bat used as a weapon.

Design Director at Volition, Scott Phillips gave a talk at the Game Developer’s Conference 2012 about how they managed to go as over the top as they did, without going too far. The talk covered three main sections: Setting the Tone, Raising the Bar, and Scope Control; making for one of the most interesting panels we’ve seen so far.

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Batman: Arkham City

We got a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Batman: Arkham City at GDC 2012, and how the developers took the journey from the Asylum and in to the city. The presentation began with Rocksteady's art director David Hego playing a clip from Arkham Asylum, bringing us back to 2009, when the city was just a very curious object in the distance. Both Batman and the player could gaze at the city, in the hopes of one day crossing that river and kicking some urban ass; and we would do so two years later. In a very concise 30-minute presentation, David went over the many key points in going from the asylum to the city.

Of the valuable lessons learned, he briefly touch upon the effectiveness of modular assets. That was coupled with the constant and seemingly obvious reminder that Batman is very cool and to make sure the player truly felt like Batman. He continued to make very sensible statements regarding how gameplay is king and how art supports that gameplay. With that kind of foundation, Rocksteady had 27 AAA skilled (many veteran) artists on board going into Batman: Arkham City.

Across both games, creating the Arkhamverse was the result of six years of work and Rocksteady's privileged take on the Batman universe. It was key to put in as much of Batman's DNA as possible, where there was no such thing as being too super referential. Working off a canvas to create the world, Rocksteady looked to Gothic architecture and Victorian vertical designs first in Arkham Asylum and continuing this with Arkham City. This also resulted in having a lot of Art Nouveau throughout the city. While the Batman universe is traditionally seen as very American, that did not stop Rocksteady from giving their world a very French and English style.

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Star Wars The Old Republic

What the difference is between the development of an awesome game and a terrible one is, Bioware leads Richard Vogel and Dallas Dickinson laid it all out at GDC 2012. For Star Wars: The Old Republic developers, making the game awesome meant creating their own Death Star. Even triple-A games have to make sacrifices in order to be successful. That’s why in the last half year of the development cycle The Old Republic, they introduced the Death Star—basically an “imperial” review board that would evaluate team progress and make harsh cuts as needed.

“We brought everyone [on the team] to us to explain where they were. In the background we had a board that was twenty feet across and had magnetic strips of different things that outlined what we needed to do and were tracked daily,” Vogel said.

“It’s very important to cut your babies in half early and often. It’s also very important to that you don’t do nice-to-haves. That’s what everyone wants. We made people cry in the Death Star many times.”

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Hitman Absolution Embargo 1/11/12

As gamers, we’re often too caught up fighting for our lives in heated gun or melee battles to appreciate the countless hours of work that go into character animation. Motion capture has been standard fare for many action/adventure projects these days but there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome in terms of properly applying this animation to a specific game setting. This was evident in the high turnout for the GDC panel titled, “Animation Driven Locomotion for Smoother Navigation”.

Just as it takes countless man-hours for Pixar animators to design a garbage bag in Toy Story 3, it might surprise many how much work goes into making sure a non-player character’s feet animation looks realistic, let alone believable. The speakers at this panel know a thing or two about animation, namely:

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The Skyrim Murders: One Woman's Blood-Soaked Death Tour Of Tamriel: Part 4 -- Massacre At Solitude

In Skyrim it isn't hard to wet your blade. But I'm out to do more than spill a little blood. I'm Tura Satana, a dragonborn serial killer. My quest is to become the most notorious murderer in Skyrim and I plan to make the town of Solitude my claim to fame. Read on and witness the brutal conclusion of my gory death trip. 

The Skyrim Murders: One Woman's Blood-Soaked Death Tour Of Tamriel: Part 4 -- Massacre At Solitude


This is where it all ends. I've left a swath of death across Skyrim's countryside. And I've finally developed a taste for innocent blood. There are a half-dozen bodies in the bard's college to prove it. And they're just for starters. I plan to make the city of Solitude my own personal abattoir. So I work methodically, starting at one end and killing everything I find as I move my way towards the other.

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The Skyrim Murders: One Woman's Blood-Soaked Death Tour Of Tamriel -- Part 3 – All Bards Must Die

In Skyrim everyone is a killer. My goal is to make all those heroes and bandits look like chumps. I'm Tura Satana, a slayer of dragons and a hunter of man. Join me as I learn to stalk the most dangerous game and become the most notorious serial killer in the land. This journey isn't for the faint of heart.

The Skyrim Murders: One Woman's Blood-Soaked Death Tour Of Tamriel -- Part 3 – All Bards Must Die


I'm getting better at killing. On the path to Windhelm I encounter a pair of Alik'r Warriors. They're harassing a Redguard woman on the side of the road. But they have the wrong person – Saadia, the lady they seek, is safe and sound in a Whiterun Tavern. Mere days ago I was ankle-deep in the bodies of the Aliki'r when I murdered the Redguard traitor Kematu and his Alik'r cronies. My dagger has acquired a taste for Akik'r blood. When the men are through harassing the hapless Redgaurd woman they continue down the road to Windhelm, oblivious to my stares. I run, swift and and silent, until I catch up with the slowest of the pair. In a single, smooth motion I grab the man from behind and slit his throat with my blade. His partner, oblivious, is just as easy to gut. A flurry of stabs from behind kills him instantly.  

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The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Character Bios -- The Wood Elves, Nords, And High Elves Of The G4 Offices

Skyrim is a bloody place. Murder is commonplace,  but not all slayings are created equal. My name is Tura Satana. I am The Dragonborn and a Nord serial killer in the making. Follow me as I cut a bloody swath across Skyrim and attempt to find my place amongst the land's most notorious criminals. I may not have what it takes. Read Part One to see how I began my bloody murder spree.

The Skyrim Murders: One Woman's Blood-Soaked Death Tour Of Tamariel: Part 2 -- A Pattern To The Carnage


The old woman in Fort Greymoor is the only one I spare. “I just cook and clean and do whatever it is they ask of me,” she bleats while munching on a loaf of bread.

The bandits she feeds and mops up after are killers like me, so I cut them down to the last. But Agnis seems as blameless as straw on the floor of this shabby fortress. This kindness doesn't seem terribly becoming of a serial killer. I'm still trying to find my voice as a mass murderer. Random slayings don't seem my style.

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