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Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Playable races include all of the basic races featured in the original Mordheim.


Games Workshop’s cult classic specialist game Mordheim is getting its own digital version with Mordheim: City of the Damned.

The game will be a turn-based strategy game where players lead small bands of warriors into skirmishes in a blend of RPG and tactical combat gameplay.

The miniatures-based war game Mordheim is based on Games Workshop’s highly successful Warhammer franchise. Instead of fielding large armies, players would build small gangs that would then level up and grow depending on their performance in battle.

Mordheim: City of the Damned sounds to be faithful to the game’s setting with warbands squabbling over Wyrdstone fragments in the ruins of the ruined city in the same way as the tabletop game.

The digital version will include playable gangs from the Skaven, the Empire, the Possessed and the Sisters of Sigmar with more factions to follow.

The game is being published by Focus Home Interactive, the independent French studio that was also behind the digital rendition of Games Workshop’s fantasy football game Blood Bowl. The company also has Cities XL, TrackMania and Farming Simulator in its portfolio.

Mordheim: City of the Damned is scheduled for a late 2014 release.

Several games in Games Workshop’s back-catalogue have made the transition to video games in recent years. Space Hulk, Warhammer Quest, Talisman and the aforementioned Blood Bowl have all seen a digital release on various platforms.

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Kaffe qif qiya! Finally, a course to help kids learn Dothraki

Completely appropriate for children, the Muzzy Dothraki language program will have your kids running their own khalasar in no time!


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Hey kids! Have you ever wanted to learn how to say “I will dance in your blood?” in the Dothraki language made popular on “Game of Thrones”? Parents, do you want to arm your kids with vital language skills in a world that’s increasingly being taken over by strange terms like “Valyrian steel,” and “mother of dragons?” If so, video-spoof-making team Nacho Punch has got just the thing for you.

Their latest YouTube parody takes a 1990s commercial for a video set that teaches kids to learn a foreign language by following along with the slightly creepy character “Muzzy,” and melds it with the fantasy world of “Game of Thrones.”

“With this unique language course,” the video says, “humans, giants and even bastards can learn a second language with incredible ease.” The course isn’t just for wannabe Dothraki speakers either. It also offers lessons in Valyrian, Hodor and White Walker.

The cost for the set of “four delightful videos” is a deal too: just three petrified dragon eggs, or 20 gold pieces a month for six months.

Even though the video is a spoof, such a language-learning set for Dothraki isn’t really that crazy. The language actually exists. It was created by David Peterson, who won a contest sponsored by the Language Creation Society to invent the vocabulary and grammar for the HBO show. It has more than 3,000 words and a Web site that tells you all you’d ever really want to know about speaking the language.

The Muzzy/Dothraki mashup is just one of the latest in a long line of Nacho Punch short animations like “Star Wars: The Lost 1980s Anime,” humorous series like “Robin Banks and the Bank Roberts,” and spoof videos like “Hipsters Love Beer,” which went viral after it was released in January, according to the Nacho Punch peeps.

So act soon to reserve a Dothraki Muzzy language course for your kids, because you never know when they’ll need to talk their way out a tricky situation with a nomadic horde at school. And Qafak qov kaffe qif qiya fini kaf faqqies fakaya! (That means, “The trembling questioner crushed the bleeding boar that squished a kicking corn bunting,” but I’m still learning, so give me a break.)

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Prepare Barbie for battle with 3D-printed armor

Designer Jim Rodda wants to make sure Barbie is ready for battle in this 3D printed medieval armor.

Designer Jim Rodda wants to make sure Barbie is ready for battle in this 3D-printed medieval armor.


(Credit:
Jim Rodda)

Barbie can be anything — an astronaut, doctor, Air Force pilot, rock star, police officer, computer engineer — so why not a warrior? That’s exactly what 3D designer Jim Rodda, known as Zheng3 in the hobbyist 3D-printing community, envisioned when he started a Kickstarter campaign to create Barbie-compatible 3D-printed medieval armor.

It started because Rodda’s 4-year-old niece has a birthday coming up and he wanted to design and print a unique gift for her.

“The original plan was to make My Little Pony-compatible glitter cannons, but the engineering turned out to be beyond what I could handle in a reasonable amount of time,” Rodda told Crave. “So I back-burnered that idea, but was still interested in making accessories for toys she already had. I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since forever, so my design thinking often goes towards fantasy medieval themes. From there it’s a short mental hop to armor for Barbie dolls.”

According to the Kickstarter page, the funding covers the biodegradable plastic to print the armor and replacement printer parts, as well as “the time needed to design a highly detailed suit of armor, with all the engraving, ensorcelling, and enameling Barbie’s parade panoply deserves.”
While Rodda isn’t selling the actual Barbie dolls, his armor designs will fit the standard Barbie Fashionistas Barbie Doll.

“The design is a hodgepodge of German and French armor styles from the 13th through 16th centuries, with artistic compromises made for Barbie’s unusual body shape and strange joints,” Rodda said. The armor consists of 30 pieces, including the sword and shield. Many of the pieces articulate with 3D-printed chain links, so in total, about 40 pieces of plastic make up an entire suit.

“This armor’s plain-Jane in design,” Rodda added. “After the Kickstarter is funded I’ll be doing a revision that keeps the same basic form but with lots of engraving and enameling. It’s got to look lovely, or Barbie wouldn’t wear it.”

In addition to the Barbie armor, theres also the Athena Makeover Kit which comes with a spear, shield and winged boots.

In addition to the Barbie armor, there’s also the Athena Makeover Kit which comes with a spear, shield and winged boots.


(Credit:
Jim Rodda)

For those excited about the prospect of Barbie fitted with armor, Rodda also suggests that anyone who already has access to a 3D printer download a copy of his Athena Makeover Kit.

With more and more animated female characters bypassing ballgowns for battle gear, the idea of a armor-clad Barbie doll isn’t so far fetched.

“Kids should play with Barbie in the way that best helps them explore their imaginations,” Rodda said. “For some, that’s going to be putting Barbie in a dress, and for others that means dressing her in plate mail.”

The Kickstarter project, if fully funded, will be distributing the armor under a Creative Commons License, which was important to Rodda.

“Once the Kickstarter is funded I’ll be shipping digital blueprints to all of my backers so that they can print copies at home,” Rodda explained. “There’s little I can do to prevent the files from being shared once I give them to backers, so I feel it’s better to embrace the distribution rather than fight it. As long as people credit me as the original designer, I’m happy. CC licensing is also an implicit stamp of approval telling people, ‘Go ahead, change this. Remix it. Explore your creativity. Share it with the world.’”

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LG G Pro vs. iPhone 5S? Alternative brackets to March Madness

Star Wars tournament

I think Yoda will handle this one.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

March Madness doesn’t have to be just about basketball. You can get a tournament fix without ever setting eyes on a round orange bouncy object or the extremely tall humans who use it.

Instead, you can bask in a much nerdier alternative tournament where you get to do things like root for Neil deGrasse Tyson versus the Dowager Countess from “Downton Abbey” or cheer on the
iPhone 5S in a pitched battle against the LG G Pro 2.

Welcome to the world of alternative brackets. Here are five to feed your competitive fire, and they have pretty much nothing to do with basketball.

PBS vs. NPR
Who will reign supreme? Philadelphia public media provider WHYY is setting the stars of NPR against the luminaries of PBS. Happy-clouds painter Bob Ross handily defeated voice-of-nature David Attenborough in the first round, but took it on the chin against the Dowager Countess. It’s all about who garners the most fan votes. Round 3 is currently under way. I’m betting it all comes down to deGrasse Tyson taking on Ira Glass in a grudge match for the ages. I give this one to the “Cosmos” host, but just barely.


Highlander DVD cover

“Highlander” already lopped the head off “Conan the Barbarian.” (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
Lionsgate)

Science fiction vs. fantasy

Break out the swords, magic, phasers, aliens, zombies, Cthulhu, and Mel Gibson as Mad Max. Geek site io9 is hosting a tournament pitting sci-fi and fantasy franchises against each other — until, like in “Highlander,” there can be only one. This is anybody’s game. We could very well end up with a bloody final match featuring “Star Trek” taking on “Game of Thrones.” Spock versus a direwolf, anyone?

Metrics mania
If you’ve ever wondered how the different colleges in the NCAA basketball tournament would fare against each other using institutional research rather than sports prowess, then the Metrics Mania bracket is for you. You have until the 21st to fill out your bracket and guess which schools will rack up the most scientific and scholarly research paper citations during the tournament. (That’s the simplified version of how this works.) The data comes from Thomson Reuters’ InCites Web-based research analytics platform. Power to the nerds!

Smartphone madness
Laptop Magazine prefers to spend its time arranging fights between smartphones. In a surprise upset, the LG G Pro 2 took out the Apple iPhone 5S early on. The 5C, however, is still in the smartphone tournament, though it must make it past the YotaPhone to advance. Once again, this is all about fan votes. The eventual champion will get a virtual pat on the back, along with a “You done good, smartphone.”

‘Star Wars’
The “Star Wars” version of March Madness features 100 percent more Yoda than the NCAA tournament. The little green guy was triumphant in last year’s This is Madness character tournament. Up for a repeat, is he? Right now, Boba Fett is totally blasting Greedo out of the galaxy, though Liam Neeson is at least putting up a fight against Yoda. I’m sticking with Darth Vader as my dark-horse winner this year.

PBS vs. NPR

This is going to be a close one.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

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Next Angry Birds game a turn-based RPG

Angry Birds RPG
(Credit:
Rovio)

If you wanted more bird-flinging, it looks like you might be in for a wait: Developer Rovio has revealed that the next title in the Angry Birds series is a turn-based RPG.

Our heroes are, of course, the birds, with each bird being a different character class; the red bird, for example, is the knight (obviously; see the teaser trailer below), and the yellow bird is the wizard. You’ll lead them into battle across a fantasy-themed Piggy Island, defeating the pigs, apparently, on their home turf — presumably the story will reveal the whys and wherefores.

Angry Birds RPG
(Credit:
Rovio)

It also seems that crafting will feature quite heavily. You’ll be able to build your own weapons; according to AngryBirdsNest, these can be items such as a wooden sword, frying pan, or “stick thingy with a sponge on top.” All characters, gear, and potions will be upgradable, too.

The game is due to soft-launch either March 13 or 14 in Australia and Canada, arriving shortly thereafter for the rest of the world, and for
Android later this year.

This soft launch has roughly similar timing to the Australia and Canada soft launch of Rovio’s “Angry Birds for girls,” Angry Birds Stella, about which few details are known other than its ridiculous gender specificity.

(Source: CNET Australia)

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South Park: The Stick of Truth Review


South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

Price: £29.99 (PC)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment/South Park Studios
Platform(s): PC

Like “amazing,” “awesome” and “epic” before it, “hilarious” is a word that has become overused to the point of losing its meaning. It has been drained of its semantic potency by the hyperbolised headlines of websites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed, and our interconnected world no longer seems content with things that are merely “good” or “funny”. Hilarious, as Louis CK explains it in his eponymous show, is something so funny it drives you to the point of losing your capacity for reasonable thought.

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review
So while South Park: The Stick of Truth may not literally cause you to lose your mind through laughter, it is probably the closest any game has come to achieving a mass onset of hysterical insanity. There were times I had to pause the game to catch my breath because I was laughing so hard, and this comes from someone who has never been an avid viewer of South Park. Beyond that, though, the Stick of Truth is also a beautifully designed RPG, an unlikely but no less welcome place for developers Obsidian to finally and fully realise their potential.

The Stick of Truth casts you as the child of a family newly arrived in South Park, who joins the other South Park kids in an elaborate role-playing game that takes place across the entire town. It is centred on a battle between humans and “drow elves” over control of the Stick of Truth, which lends its wielder control over the entire Universe, apparently. But this is merely one slice of a multi-layered tale, wherein the kids’ mock battles over the stick intertwine with far more sinister goings on in the town, alongside several other unexpected events which all feed into the central plot.

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review
The humour is typically South Park in that nothing is sacred. It is frequently coarse and gross and deals with sensitive topics in a way that isn’t so much close to the bone as clubbing you about the head with the entire skeleton. As you would expect it also plays satirically on a lot of gaming and fantasy conventions. Yet unlike your average episode of the show, which are often hastily assembled reactions to current events which rely on that close proximity as a basis for amusement, The Stick of Truth is a thing crafted over years rather than days. Consequently the wit has been allowed to percolate until it is wickedly sharp, dark as tar and thick as treacle.

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review
The Stick of Truth is absolutely crammed with jokes. If Mark Kermode’s Six Laughs Test is anything to go by, The Stick of Truth made me laugh four times before I’d selected my character class. And on top of the spectacularly funny and filthy jokes that run through the plot like a dodgy curry are many smaller morsels of mirth in the form of side-quests, incidental asides from companion characters and NPCs, and a faux-facebook feed where your friends from around town update you with events from their bizarre and amusing lives. Even your inventory isn’t safe from the game’s pervasive wit. For example, here are a few item descriptions from the “junk” you can acquire to sell for cash.

  • Spoon: Strong against soup. Weak against ham.
  • USB Drive: Gigabytes of cat pictures.
  • Needle-sharp fang: A lesser threat without its owner attached.
  • Small Locket: Keepsake from a deceased loved one. No real value.

It’s everywhere, ranging from totally deadpan to utterly outrageous. Even the fart jokes are funny, although to be fair, in the Stick of Truth farts are used for far more than jokes, as we shall discuss shortly.

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The Web at 25: Dot-com bubble bursts and breaks me, too

Part 1 of The Web at 25, my look back at the first quarter-century of all things www, left off with both the Web and myself at the peak of an awkward adolescence in early 1995.

This is where things start to get really interesting.

Data nerds who shunned the Web when Tim Berners-Lee first demonstrated it in the United States in 1991 could no longer ignore it mid-decade. After the pioneering Mosaic Web browser launched, the Web saw an annual growth rate in service traffic of 341,634 percent, according to author and early Internet evangelist Robert H. Zakon.


Me at age 17. Happy birthday, Web. I still can’t quit you after all these years, even though you did force me to try, once. (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
Marsha Henry)

In the span of about two years, Mosaic transitioned from a university-based project to a publicly traded company named Netscape that saw the price of its shares close at more than twice the opening price on their first day of trading in August of 1995. Companies grow up so fast these days, don’t they?

From that point, the dot-com bubble began inhaling all the air (and capital) in the room and didn’t stop until it left us all with economic Bubble Yum stuck to our faces.

There are millions of stories told about this epic boom, bubble, and bust period. This is mine.

It starts in 1997 with me at age 17 and a copy of Microsoft Frontpage in my parents’ basement and ends with me living in a double-wide trailer on the banks of the Yukon River in the Alaskan Bush five years later. Here’s what happened in between.

Respect my authori-tay!
Like many other young nerds of the era, I suddenly found around 1997 that my understanding and knowledge of the Web was commanding a lot more respect from people significantly more powerful, wealthier, and older than myself. By this time, using MS Frontpage, I had already built a few very simplistic Web sites for fun that were not even remotely attractive or very functional, but even my basic Web design skills were in high demand at the time, and it was still presumed that teenage nerds could be hired cheaply.

Suddenly I was taking meetings with one of the most powerful lobbyists in Colorado to talk about building a Web presence for key campaigns. I built a site for a top wedding photographer out of Boulder in exchange for learning her craft. When I went to college in September 1997, part of my financial aid package was a work study that made me one of the college’s main Webmasters as a first-semester freshman.


This was the Web site I designed to convince people to let me design their Web sites. For some reason, it worked. (Global means worldwide and ducks have webbed feet — get it?)


(Credit:
Eric Mack/CNET)

Here’s the kicker, though: I was a pretty bad Web designer. At the time, the Web seemed to be making everyone who touched it rich, spurring an outright panic by anyone who saw the emerging medium as either an opportunity or a threat. Businesses had to get online to stay competitive, as did politicians and even nonprofits, it turns out. They might not have understood what a domain name was, they just knew I could get them one.

And I did, at least until the rest of the world caught up with me, better Web designers became more plentiful (and cheaper), and the Web began to create opportunities to use another skill that I actually both enjoy and excel at (or at least I hope some readers think so).

I switched schools and majors from computer engineering to journalism and found that the Web would still provide. I landed a gig with an early iteration of MTV.com that took an earnest interest in America’s local music scenes. I spent the next few years traveling the Midwest to interview artists, take in live shows, and write snarky reviews. I was still a student. I wasn’t based in Silicon Valley or manning a startup, but I was still pursuing the dot-com dream for better or for worse. Sometimes it got a little out of hand.

After one particular show, my college girlfriend was a bit confused to find pop-punk darlings Good Charlotte in my living room along with a squad of local strippers providing a live demonstration of the latest technological advances in silicone. Those guys were straight edge, so there wasn’t any cocaine involved that night, but there were plenty of other nights and other bands.

I, being a good boy, never partook. No, really.

Reckoning
By early 2000, I had no interest in finishing my broadcast journalism degree and struck a deal to design my own degree in online media (again, this involved a work study maintaining part of the university Web site and teaching a Web design course to other undergrads — can’t beat cheap labor, I guess). I began working on a little graduate student’s project called Ironminds.com that was actually making a name for itself as a leading online magazine, competing with the likes of Salon and Slate.


This long-forgotten online magazine gave me my introduction to Silicon Valley. (Click to enlarge)


(Credit:
Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET /Archive.org)

I drove down to Austin that March with the Ironminds crew for
South by Southwest Interactive, where we had been nominated for Best Current Events Site. Remarkably, we actually won, beating out big media names like “The Daily Show.” I was 20 years old and I was part of something that smart people actually approved of, something that actually seemed to matter.

And for the first time, I felt as though I was among my own people. These people understood why I spent so many evenings glued to a monitor, trying to discern how the pieces all fit together, where it was going, where it could go.

At that year’s SXSW Frog Design party, I pulled Ironminds founder Andy Wang aside.

“Andy, I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to go to college. I don’t want to go back to Missouri. I want all this,” I told him. I’m pretty sure we were both a little drunk, but I was still dead serious.

“Go talk to everyone,” he told me. “Ask all of them for a job and then pick the best offer. You’re a f*****g award winner now.”

How come I’ve never heard this from any of my guidance counselors, I thought to myself. How absolutely brilliant.

By the end of that week I had a handshake agreement to start working at Business 2.0 magazine’s San Francisco Bay Area office within eight weeks. If you don’t remember Business 2.0, you could be forgiven. It was one of many such new publications at the time that didn’t survive in its original form (remember Red Herring or the Industry Standard? No? Well they were real once too.) Eventually it was swallowed by Time, Inc. and got lost somewhere in the fallout of the AOL Time Warner debacle before disappearing altogether around 2007.

History now tells us that the dot-com bubble actually peaked two weeks before that fateful trip to Austin, but it was still easy to believe at that moment that the party could continue forever. So I packed up and went to California for what I thought would be a permanent move. But it turned out to be a front-row seat for a great unraveling.

Rude awakening
From the beginning, working at a “new economy magazine” was not all that I had dreamed that night in Austin. The people were nice, but my chops weren’t yet well-honed enough to be a business reporter and I spent lots of my time copying text from the print magazine edition and pasting it on to the Web site. Not exactly the glamour I was hoping for, and how come we couldn’t write some code to do all that anyway?

My living situation also proved interesting. Eventually, after time in hostels and finally being grilled rather intensely during an interview with my future roommates, I moved into a three-bedroom house where I was one of five tenants (the garage had been converted into two more bedrooms). The setup was unexpectedly quiet, however, since the room next to mine was never actually used by the chief operating officer of a major networking company who rented it as an emergency crash pad much closer to San Francisco than her large home in San Jose, farther south. I never saw the other person living upstairs, who also worked for a dot-com. I never even found out which one.

There were high points at the office, like writing a story on Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who seemed to epitomize the spirit of Silicon Valley I was in search of, but ultimately I wasn’t happy and things quickly got weird around the office as it became clear that the epic ride of the last half-decade was beginning to run out of fuel. Particularly after we moved into a new office space near arguably one of the worst neighborhoods in America, it all seemed to come unglued very quickly. At a mid-summer staff retreat in the coastside town of Monterey, the tension was palpable, at least until it was all released in what may have been the largest collective binge I’ve ever been witness to. My editor ingested multiple mind-altering substances that weekend, broke one of hotel’s windows (with his head, was the rumor), and spoke in a Beavis and Butthead voice for several hours straight. And he was one of the more well-behaved of my superiors that weekend.

It’s hard to say exactly how many people moved to the Bay Area in search of that same dream during that time, but we do have a sense of how many ultimately joined me in abandoning the dream. An oft-cited figure places the number of people that quickly vacated San Francisco between 2000 and 2002 at 30,000, eventually making it the fastest-shrinking city in the country for a moment.

I went crawling back to college, and to Ironminds, which was ironically in the midst of being purchased by a group of “new-media investors” who moved it from Missouri to New York, rapidly poured millions into it, even after the bubble had clearly burst, and then shut it down just as quickly (although it did eventually lead to the creation of Deadspin via former Ironminds editor Will Leitch).

The dream that had helped me retroactively justify the self-imposed isolation of my adolescence seemed to be dead.

Set adrift
I turned my energies to improv and stand-up comedy, lazily finished my journalism degree, and began to see the value of drinking as a hobby. At the same time numerous ruined dot-com prodigies were retreating to yoga ranches and beyond, I took a gig living on a houseboat in the Florida Keys in exchange for — what else — Web design help.

I sometimes woke up on the beach after a long night at the bar on Big Pine Key and wasn’t sure if I was having a good time or too depressed to even recognize it.

Like many others, I kind of lost my mind for a little bit after the dot-com boom went bust.


(Credit:
Johanna DeBiase)

That fall I moved into a house in Denver with a few friends that I had grown up with to try and find a little grounding and figure what to do next now that Web design was providing me far less (I had to share that houseboat with 11 other guys and no air conditioning).

I delivered food and worked for family while still dabbling in Web design and writing jobs that suddenly paid next to nothing. 9/11 happened, the world seemed to be turned upside down, and that glitzy fantasy I encountered in Austin just 18 months prior felt like it had never even existed.

After months of sending resumes to anyplace that might be vaguely interested, I received exactly one job offer — from a tiny public radio station in the Alaskan bush that was not even reachable by roads.

I signed a two-year contract sight unseen and flew to Alaska. I did not bring a computer or cell phone. Perhaps it was time to grow up and put away those childish things. Without being too hyperbolic, I think the dot-com bust may have broken my heart more than a little bit. Those digital dreams had been banished to the wilderness, and now, so had I.

CNET comments are currently down for maintenance, and should be back soon. In the meantime, please share your memories of the dot-com boom and bust on Twitter at @crave and @ericcmack. In our next installment, I’ll celebrate the 25th birthday of the Web by looking at those years that I spent watching it develop and try to re-assert itself from a distance.

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Beautiful Child of Light gets release date, deluxe edition


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Ubisoft’s Ubi Art engine, which allows hand-painted art to be transferred directly into a game, has tremendous potential, and we’ve been waiting with bated breath for Child of Light, a single-player or cooperative two-player fantasy adventure about a fairy princess who wields a giant sword.

Ubisoft has announced that the game will be available as a digital download for PlayStation 3,
PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs starting April 30.

The deluxe pack.


(Credit:
Ubisoft)

On the same day, a special deluxe edition will be available from retail outlets. This edition of the game will include exclusive digital content, including an alternative “dark” version of Aurora, the titular Child of Light, as well as a bonus quest and collectibles; an exclusive A2 poster by Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano (whom you may know from his work on Final Fantasy); a 24-page art book with previously unrevealed artwork; and an LED key ring in the shape of character Igniculus.

The game will be available for $14.99 as a digital download. Pricing on the deluxe edition has yet to be announced, however, it is available now for preorder through game retailers.

You can read our interview with Child of Light creative director Patrick Plourde and scriptwriter Jeffrey Yohalem here.

(Source: CNET Australia)

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Behind the Oscar-nominated sounds of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

In an era when more people are watching movies at home or on their mobile devices, Dolby and Hollywood are hoping sound will lure people back into theaters.

Dolby Atmos, an evolution of Dolby’s 5.1 and 7.1 systems, was used on two of this year’s Oscar-nominated movies for sound mixing, “Gravity” and “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.” The system includes speakers in the ceiling theater, in additional to the front, back, and sides of a theater. The real audio innovation comes from the ability to isolate sounds and control where, when, and which sounds come through each speakers.

Stuart Bowling, Dolby’s director of market development, explains: “When something moves through the room, it basically goes from speaker to speaker to speaker instead of the way it does normally when it hits every speaker and then fades.”

As a theater goer, you can track sounds as they make their way around the room. So, for example, when a helicopter flies across the sky in a movie, you can distinctly hear the sound of the blades travel above your head and across the ceiling from one end to the other. Currently only 450 theaters are equipped with the Dolby Atmos system.

Bowling said “Hobbit” Director Peter Jackson used the sound technology to draw the audience into the movie’s fantasy world. “He really wants you to feel like you’re part of Middle Earth, feel like you’re part of the journey the characters, Bilbo, are going through,” he said.

Academy Award-winning sound mixer Christopher Boyes used Dolby Atmos on both “Hobbit” movies: “Atmos is the opportunity for me to take the next step forward in immersing the audience in sounds that push the story forward. And at the same time, help the audience be in the environment of the film itself.”

Working closely with filmmakers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Boyes says the trick was not to overwhelm the audience with sound, especially in scenes with a lot of action where the audience needed to focus on certain characters. “We’re in orchestrated chaos at times in the ‘Hobbit,’ with hundreds of Orcs attacking and trying to keep our eyes on our heroes as they battle all these forces,” Boyes said.

We’ll find out this weekend if Dolby Atmos, which can also be used to remix older films, has what it takes to win an Oscar. Whether Atmos can convince people to spend a night out at the movies, that remains to be seen — and heard.

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Your chance to voice a character in Dragon Age: Inquisition

February 27th, 2014 No comments


(Credit:
BioWare)

Instead of just playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, how about being in it?

BioWare has taken to its blog to announce a competition with a difference: a chance to voice one of the characters in the highly anticipated fantasy role-playing game.

Entry is simple. Chose from one of two sample scripts and then show off your skills on YouTube. All BioWare wants “is for you to perform your preferred script in your lovely, natural speaking voice.”

Judging will be based on “the quality of the voice performance and how well it matches the style of Dragon Age.” Winners will be flown to the closest BioWare recording studio (Los Angeles, London, or Edmonton, Canada) to have their dulcet tones recorded for prosperity.

Entries opened Tuesday and run until 12:01 a.m. on March 24, with winners announced on April 14. The game is due out in the third quarter of this year.

For fans, this is a fun competition and great chance to peek behinds the scenes at video game production, so get in there and have fun. But make sure you read the contest rules (PDF) regarding the release of any copyright for your entries and do remember: voice talent is usually a paid job for people in the industry.

(Source: CNET Australia)

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