Zelda producer says he’d like to be scolded by a mature woman like Telma

Oh myyyyy. Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma has shared who his favorite character in Twilight Princess is, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s the mature, busty bar owner, Telma. That alone is reason enough to make me giggle just a bit, but his rationale is what’s truly blush-worthy.

“I kind of like the idea of being scolded by a woman like that” he says in a new behind-the-scenes video for Twilight Princess HD, before bursting out in what I assume is semi-embarrassed laughter. Also in the vid: why Link transforms into a wolf. If you ever thought that idea seemed just a little random, as though it came out of nowhere, well … you were right! Turns out Aonuma had a dream of being a wolf in a jail cell one night and decided to make that a major part of the game.

You know, I like celebrities and I used to keep a dream journal. Let’s see if we can build a video game (or at least an interesting character) out of my sleep-notes. Hmmm. Looks like I wrote “the quarterback of Oz,” “Adam Scott and Anna Kendrick are the same person (conspiracy),” and “Tim McGraw is made of bee larva?”

… Yeah okay, nevermind. I’m gonna leave this to the professionals. You do you, Aonuma.

PlayStation VR may get its own take on the Power Glove

Sony may be working on a glove controller, likely to be paired up with PlayStation VR, if three detailed patent applications published today are any indicator. The applications numbered 14/517733, 14/517741, and 14/503275 were spotted by NeoGAF user Rösti, and they account for almost everything you’d expect from a VR glove.

No, it doesn’t have a weird NES controller strapped to the side. It does have a bunch of illuminated points for PlayStation Move-style camera tracking, though, so your ’80s fantasies aren’t totally out of line. Taken together, the glove’s gizmos help create “a virtual hand in a view of a virtual environment on a head-mounted display (HMD), the virtual hand being rendered based on the identified finger position pose”.

According to the applications, the glove would contain both flex and pressure sensors for each individual finger, as well as contact sensors to detect when your fingers are touching each other or your palms. The diagram above shows some examples, or you could even swipe your thumb across the side of your index finger to simulate a touchpad for more abstract controls.

The old VR glove dream is to simulate the sensation of touching the objects you see on-screen, but the patent applications don’t go into much detail about what kind of haptic feedback they would support; it could just be the usual vibration. They do indicate that the glove would be attached to a bracelet, which could house the proverbial Rumble Pak and traditional motion tracking gadgets like an accelerometer and gyroscope.

Filing for a patent doesn’t guarantee anything about a company’s actual intention/ability to bring a market to product, just that it wants to be able to say that it had the idea first. Sony is also reportedly looking into other forms of hand tracking, so the glove may just be one of many input ideas brewing in the company. Both Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are arriving soon, but a Power Glove that actually works would help set PlayStation VR apart.

Download The Witcher 2 for free on Xbox right now

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If you own either an Xbox 360 or an Xbox One, you should go ahead and download The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings for free right now, assuming you haven’t played the game already.

Microsoft is promoting the fact that The Witcher 2 is now available through backwards compatibility on Xbox One, and part of that promotion involves the company giving away the five-year-old title for free between now and February 5th. You’ll have to be a resident of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France or Germany to grab the free game, and it’s available on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Alongside the launch of The Witcher 2 through Xbox One backwards compatibility, Microsoft have announced the availability of nine other titles, including Counter-Strike: GO, Skullgirls, Soulcalibur, and Age of Booty. The Witcher 2 is clearly the biggest inclusion on the list, and one of the most technically complex to emulate efficiently.

Microsoft also announced that future backwards compatibility titles will be released when they become ready, as opposed to at a set monthly launch date. This will bring the best Xbox 360 titles to Xbox One faster than before, and you can continue to vote for which titles should be included through the Xbox Feedback program.

With the inclusion of The Witcher 2, the Xbox One backwards compatibility library now includes a decent number of the best Xbox 360 titles, including Assassin’s Creed II, Borderlands, Fallout 3, the entire Gears of War series, Halo Reach, Dirt 3, Portal, Mass Effect, Just Cause 2, and more.

Take-Two reveals GTA V has shipped 60 million copies, and the online mode just hit a peak

dlc, microtransactions, gta v, gta online, financials, take-two interactive, quarterly report, story dlc, online content

Grand Theft Auto V parent publisher Take-Two Interactive recently held its quarterly financial call, where it revealed that the fifth game in the GTA series has cemented its position as one the best-selling video games of all time by passing the 60 million copies shipped mark.

Many are wondering why a game as hugely successful as GTA V still hasn’t had any single-player DLC released. The reason is probably because the online element continues to make Take-Two so much money. Company CEO Strauss Zelnick said that players are still “highly engaged” with GTA online and, more than two years after itsrelease, has recently had its best week ever in terms of both revenue and active players.

Zelnick never gave specific numbers, but, before it hit a peak during the holiday season, GTA online had around 8 million players per week. The CEO said that this “sustained engagement” is partly due to GTA online’s constant flow of add-on content and in-game events.

The company doesn’t think that GTA online has plateaued; in fact, Zelnick believes it will make even more money over the coming year.

Take-Two’s net revenue for the third fiscal quarter was $486 million, down from $954 million from the same period a year earlier. The drop was due to the reduced number of Take-Two games released.

Despite the fall, the result beat expectations of $400 million – $450 million, primarily because of the stronger than expected revenues from GTA V and GTA Online. The company added that NBA 2K16 also exceeded expectations.

With GTA Online continuing to be so successful, Take-Two knows it is in its best interests, financially, to keep focusing on it rather than the single-player part of the game – which is a shame for those (like me) still waiting for some story-based DLC. But when microtransactions are generating so much revenue, you can understand why the company sees the future of GTA V to be its multiplayer mode.

Here’s how to get ‘Quantum Break’ a week early

Quantum Break, a game that we first got a glimpse of when Microsoft revealed the Xbox One nearly three years ago, finally has a release date. Best yet, those who pre-order the game will receive a nice bonus.

The third-person shooter action game puts players in control of protagonist Jack Joyce, a man capable of manipulating time. Interestingly enough, there’s also a live-action digital series that plays out alongside the main game which tells the story of the antagonists. Remedy has said that how you play the game impacts the show which subsequently informs players on how to play the game.

Originally an Xbox One exclusive, Microsoft on Thursday revealed that Quantum Break will also be coming to the PC. What’s more, every copy of Quantum Break for Xbox One will come with a full-game download for Alan Wake for Xbox 360 plus its two expansion packs – The Signal and The Writer – which can be played on the Xbox One via backward compatibility.

It doesn’t stop there, however, as anyone that pre-orders the game for Xbox One (at participating retailers or through the Xbox Store) will receive a full-game download of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare for the 360.

But wait, there’s more! Anyone that pre-orders the digital version of the game, purchases an Xbox One digital token or pre-orders a Quantum Break Xbox One bundle ($349) will receive the Windows 10 version of the game free of charge.

If you’re at all interested in Quantum Break, I’d highly recommend pre-ordering to take advantage of these extras (especially if you haven’t yet played Alan Wake).

Quantum Break goes on sale April 5 but if you pre-order the bundle, you’ll get it a full week early on March 29.

‘Descent’ creators turn to Kickstarter to fund spiritual successor ‘Overload’

OVERLOAD - The Ultimate Six-Degree-of-Freedom Shooter project video thumbnail

Descent, the six degrees of freedom shooter from the mid-90s, is getting a spiritual successor. Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog, creators of the original game, have taken toKickstarter to fund Overload.

Described as the ultimate six-degree-of-separation (6-DOF) shooter, Overload is a single-player game that’s said to combine the best of classic 6-DOF gameplay with modern technology and graphics. Specifically, it’ll feature 15 levels populated with more than a dozen robot types, three huge bosses, 12 upgradable weapons and five levels of difficulty with fully customizable joystick, gamepad, mouse and keyboard controls.

Revival Productions is planning to release Overload on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Support for Mac and Linux will be added if the first stretch goal is met.

Overload is not to be confused with last year’s official reboot, Descent: Underground. That game is being made by a different group and is expected to ship next month.

A pledge of just $25 is all that’s needed to guarantee you’ll get a digital copy of the game on the platform of your choice (it also comes with two desktop images of concept art and credits on the game’s website). Other reward tiers include things like boxed copies of the game, a signed hardcover art book, having your picture placed in a secret location within the game and getting to attend the launch party.

Revival Productions expects to deliver Overload in March 2017.

How a fake video game screenshot is made

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Consumers are smarter today than they used to be, but that hasn’t stopped video game publishers from releasing what have become known as “bullshots,” doctored images that are meant to show what a video game looks like, but end up being so modified and fancified they’re often nothing of the sort.

Think of it as a nip and tuck, only for a video game. While they’re useful for a publisher – the better their games look, the more they’ll sell – they’re the opposite for a gamer, as we’re essentially being told tiny lies, shown one thing then sold something else.

Because the practice is still going on, even in this age of streaming and screenshot capture buttons, we figured it’d be worth having a chat with an artist who has actually worked on “bullshots,” to learn how they’re made.

The artist, who we’ll call Frank (not his real name), has done bullshot work across a few generations of hardware, both console and handheld. Here’s how it worked for the major publisher employing him (note of course that different companies might have different approaches or policies regarding this stuff!):

“A few years ago I retouched game screen shots for a AAA company,” Frank says, adding the work he was doing was similar to “performing surgery.”

“How it works is I would be sent a bunch of raw screenshots in their native resolutions, with a list of notes on specific alteration.” He was expected to alter or replace stuff like:

  • Jagged edges on objects would be smoothed out.
  • Assets or effects clipping through other assets (like a gun not sitting in a character’s hand properly) would be altered, redrawn or removed.
  • Blurry textures would be replaced with textures from other screens or even from photos depending on the graphical fidelity.
  • Wheels or other round objects that did not look round enough would be redrawn.
  • Reflective or shiny objects that did not have a highlight would have one added.
  • Lighting inconsistencies would be cleaned up in Photoshop.
  • Map or HUD overlays may have had to be added or removed as needed, while some would even be 100% fabricated for a screenshot.
  • The overall image had to be sharpened so the shots could be used in a magazine or on a billboard.
  • Games with an online component (but which weren’t yet online) would have player names added to make it appear as though units/models in a game were actual human players, even though they weren’t (though Frank adds that often, in fine print, these screens would carry a disclaimer noting this).
  • If a screenshot did not have a planned environmental or weather effect (a storm or sunset, etc), then Frank would add them manually.

Frank says that the amount of work, and the type of work done, varied depending on whether it was a handheld or console title. Handheld titles would need a lot more work done on their jagged edges and low-res textures, for example, while bullshots for HD console games were more about adding effects and swapping out game textures with those lifted from photos.

This was most common in areas where a difference in polygon count would make certain objects appear out of place (a detailed player model next to a low-detail car, for example). “At times it was possible to copy images from the internet, hack them up and manipulate them so that they would match the fidelity of other objects in the scene,” Frank says.

“Adding shine highlights on top of objects that had already had their textures replaced not only worked, it made the object look less doctored, as if it was rendered in-engine. That really was the goal. To present an idealized version of the scene while adhering to the limitations of the game’s engine.”

That limit meant that while Frank would always be striving to improve the original screenshot as much as possible, he could never adjust things like the number of characters on screen, or the weapon being used, etc. “There was never a time when we put things in that the game could not do,” he says, “even if they were facsimiles of those effects.”

Isn’t that wild? For a decade now, everyone has been assuming these screenshots were about improving how a video game looked, when in some cases it’s been about downgrading elements of actual photos!

Handheld games, meanwhile, couldn’t make use of this fix. “The fixing of jagged edges and low quality textures was the most prevalent and most difficult on the lower resolution titles,” Frank says. “I had to fabricate large portions of the scenes, while still making them look as though they were rendered at low resolution on the handheld.”

To illustrate just how shots like this are put together, I gave Frank a screenshot I captured from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on the PC. It’s from the game itself, not a cutscene, and while the pose looked like something you might see in an official screenshot, it was also mundane enough to look like, well, something I took by randomly pressing F12 in Steam.

I then asked him to bullshot it.

Up top is the original, undoctored screenshot. The bottom image is what Frank whipped up by doing stuff like:

  • Adjusting the color and lighting.
  • Softening the background (the gun rack and cargo door) to create a sense of depth.
  • Moving the soldier’s left hand (it was “clipping” through the gun in the original) then redrawing the gun, as well as adding a shadow under the right hand.
  • Adding light shadows and a gradient map.
  • Using a high pass filter to make the image appear more “crisp.”
  • Adding highlights to the soldier’s armor.

They’re relatively minor changes, yes, but that’s the point: to show how even subtle adjustments and effects can impact the presentation and quality of an image.

While screenshots have taken a backseat to trailers in terms of their importance to game marketing, they’re still around and are still seen by many as key indicators of how an upcoming title is shaping up. If that’s you, that’s cool, the prevalence of cinematic trailers has justifiably got you more interested in the “real” thing.

Just keep in mind: the real thing isn’t always as real as you hope it is.

Here’s how you can play Rocket League in Halo 5

Rocket League was one of the surprise hits of 2015. The highly addictive soccer-style game is heading to Xbox One later this month, but what if you can’t wait that long? If you happen to have Halo 5, you can get your fix right now with this Rocket League-inspired multiplayer map from map maker TurbTastic.

In the Halo 5 version of Rocket League, players ride on the game’s Ghost vehicles and attempt to push a ball into the opponent’s goal. Unlike an earlier version, this version actually keeps score through the clever use of scripting and teleporters. There’s a small version for 2-6 players with one ball and a larger version for 8-16 players with three balls.

If you’d rather wait for the real thing, it’ll be landing on Xbox One on February 17.

Rumor suggests more Xbox One exclusives are headed to PC

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Following the announcement that Quantum Break, previously an Xbox One exclusive, will be heading to PC on its April 5th launch date, a rumor has appeared that suggests more Xbox-exclusive titles will be transitioning to PC in the near future.

The report, which comes from WPDang via Windows Central, claims that Microsoft will soon be putting a greater emphasis on gaming through Windows 10 and the Windows Store. To improve the experience on PC, the company will allegedly be bringing Forza Motorsport 6, Gears of War 4, and Scalebound to the platform.

On top of this, the yet-to-be-announced Forza Horizon 3 will also make its way to both Xbox One and Windows 10. All four titles, as well as Quantum Break, will be exclusive to the Windows Store.

The move to bring these Xbox exclusives to PC is a significant one for Microsoft, as series such as Forza have never previously been available on PC, while Gears of War has been missing since the very first title. However, they won’t be the first Xbox exclusives to appear on PC: Microsoft has already brought titles such as Killer Instinct and Gears of War Ultimate Edition to the platform.

It could be a while until we hear about the aforementioned games coming to PC. Gears of War 4 is slated for a late 2016 launch, while action role-playing game Scalebound isn’t coming until 2017. The only title that could potentially be ported soon is Forza 6, which launched on Xbox One in September last year to widespread praise.

A $10 million Spotlight Edition is available for Dying Light

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When zombies-and-parkour game Dying Light was released last year, it polarized opinion. It seemed the game was loved and loathed in equal measure by players, but one of the reasons why Techland’s title hit the headlines was its $380,000 Apocolypse Edition that included a full-size, custom built, zombie-proof shelter. Now, the game’s expansion, Dying Light: The Following, has upped the ante by offering a Spotlight Edition from UK retailer GAME that costs $10,000,000.

That $10 million asking price gets you a few things – as you would expect – the most ‘valuable’ being a supporting role in Dying Light: The Movie. The pack will also include acting lessons provided by Roger Craig Smith to help you prepare for the role. Smith may not be a household name, but he has lent his voice to many video game characters, including Ezio in Assassin’s Creed and Chris Redfield in Resident Evil.

You’ll also receive stuntman/parkour training, an off-road driving course, a personal trailer on set, an original copy of the script signed by the cast, a screening tour with first-class accommodation and flights, 10 VIP tickets for the opening night, and an FX makeup session. Additionally, you’ll get to provide the voice of Kyle Crane in a special edition of Dying Light; although I’m not sure what happens if the person who buys this Spotlight Edition turns out to be female.

You would expect that 10 million dollars would get you quite a few copies of the game as well, maybe to give out to all your friends and family, but no – you only get four. They are, however, signed by the development team, which obviously makes them worth the money.

“Dying Light is one of the most exciting survival games around and what’s more – it’s Oscar season so what better time than now to head to the Hollywood hills,” GAME UK retail MD Charlotte Knight said.

“We know our community like to get in character and will have no doubt been inspired by the leading actors on the big screen – so this is a really exciting opportunity for any gamer wanting to hit the silver screen in style.”

The whole thing is, of course, more of a publicity stunt than anything else – there’s not even a guarantee that the movie will be made unless someone helps fund it by buying the Spotlight Edition. But any multi-millionaire gaming fans looking to break into the acting world may consider this package a pretty good deal.