Universal is holding a GameDev challenge to pitch video games on some of their biggest franchises, including Back to the Future, Turok, Battlestar Galactica, Voltron, and Jaws.

The challenge, which is being done in partnership with Unity, uses the aforementioned Universal properties for pitches on possible game ideas. Submissions get judged by a panel of judges that includes Lauren Montgomery, executive producer at Dreamworks and showrunner for Voltron; Dean Takahashi from Venture Beat; Bob Gale, co-creator of the Back to the Future series; and Kate Edwards, CEO of Geogrify and former executive director of the IGDA.

Six finalists will be chosen by the judges, from which a single winner will be chosen to actually produce their game with Universal. All the finalists will receive $20,000 in prize money.

You can find the challenge page here, as well as all the necessary details.

 

Our Take
This is a cool little thing for anyone that has been wanting to make a game with any of these licenses. I’ll be interested to see what happens at the end of the project.

Yakuza takes place in a fictionalized version of Tokyo, but it’s heavily based on real-life locations. This series from Youtuber TheElecPlay92 shows off those real-world locations and compares them to their Yakuza counterparts.

The series, titled the Yakuza Location Tour, was filmed in 2016 and compares the game’s famous and fictional Kamurocho district with the actual Kabukicho district. Kamurocho has been used in every mainline Yakuza game, functioning as much as a character as Kiryu himself. 

You can check out the first video in the series where ElecPlay looks at the Tenkaichi St. entrance from the game and its striking elevated gate, the first shot of the first Yakuza game.

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Further episodes look at places like Serena’s Bar, Sky Finance, Millennium Tower, and way more. You can engage in the virtual tourism with the full playlist here.

The next Yakuza game, Yakuza 6, releases on April 17 exclusively for the PlayStation 4. You can find our review of the game right here, as well as a demo available on PSN.

Update: Today’s stream has concluded, and you can now watch the archive below!

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Original Story: While reviews of Far Cry 5 are mixed, the potential for the open-world antics that the series is known for remains a selling point. Join Jeff Cork, Jeff Marchiafava and more at 3 PM Central (three hours from this posting) as they dive into Montana in co-op, taking your suggestions in the chat and turning them into sick stunt magic. 

You can catch the livestream over on Twitch or YouTube, or with the video embedded below!

The producers of a still-to-be-scripted Duke Nukem movie have confirmed that WWE superstar John Cena is attached to play the foul-mouthed superhero in the new film.

In an interview with Cinema Blend, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller make no bones about Cena taking on the role.

Yeah, that’s what we’re working with now. He is. Yes. We don’t have a script yet, so that is confirmed at this point but if he reads the script and he doesn’t like the script I’m sure there’s ways that he could pull out, but right now he’s our guy.

The movie is still working on a script, but Form and Fuller are trying to hew close to Deadpool in terms of R-rated comedy action movies. Cena was rumored to be in contract negotiations for the movie in January and has seemingly found enough about the project to like to come in.

Cena is following in the tradition of a lot of WWE stars that make the transition to acting, with major parts in movies like Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck and headlining the upcoming comedy Blockers.

[Source: Cinema Blend]

 

Our Take
It’s hard to tell how this conforms to Cena’s carefully cultivated image as a nice guy, but maybe that’s exactly the point. I’m curious what the producers think Duke Nukem looks like in a modern context.

After being pushed back earlier this year, both of Fox’s upcoming X-Men movies are getting delayed once again for extensive reshoots, 20th Century Fox has announced.

Dark Phoenix, a movie about the Jean Grey firebird spirit, has been delayed from late 2018 to February 2019. While no footage has been seen of the movie yet, some promotional shots were released last year. New Mutants is getting pushed even further despite originally being scheduled for April 2018. The movie is now aiming for August 2019, a full sixteen months after the original intended date. 

Reshoots are fairly common and don’t indicate anything is wrong with the movie. In an interview in with The Playlist, New Mutants star Anya Taylor-Joy confirmed that the reshoots for that movie were to introduce a new character to the story.

[Source: GameSpot]

Last week, Atari pulled the curtain back from its “Atari Box” to announce the Atari VCS. The Linux-based system was on-hand at Game Developers Conference, where I was able to learn a bit more about the project.

While working prototypes exist, the model Atari brought to GDC was a non-working unit. However, it features the current set of ports, as well as the current working external design. Two controllers were also in the private room Atari based its GDC operations out of. The first controller was slicker rendition of the classic Atari joystick form-factor (with lights that illuminated in the direction you tilt the stick). In addition, the stick rotates to work with games that originally required a paddle controller. For the more complicated games that VCS plays, Atari also has a controller that looks and feels similar to the Xbox 360 controller. The biggest difference between Atari’s controller and Xbox’s is the d-pad, which I wish I could have tried out. Even without using it, the controller prototype feels great to hold.

Atari VCS plays much more than the old Atari titles. While the console is meant in part to be a celebration of Atari’s long heritage, the Linux base means that there is little standing in the way of bringing an avalanche of Linux games to the system. The console features an ethernet port to help it stream games, but it can also add external storage through the USB ports to store games locally.

The model I saw features the classic Atari woodgrain aesthetic, but the team tells me there will be other cosmetic themes as well. I’m told the team is striving for something that nods to the company’s history, while serving as something with a cool silhouette that people will proudly display on their entertainment stands.

You can see some up-close photos of Atari’s non-working VCS prototype below. We should learn more details about the VCS in the next month.

The second DLC pack for last year’s Call of Duty: World War II has been announced, launching first on PlayStation 4 on April 10.

War Machine takes Call of Duty: WWII to new areas, such as the Giza pyramids, a hidden German rocket facility, and the city of Dunkirk. The maps appeal to different playstyles, with the pyramids being exploratory with internal areas to traverse. The V-2 rocket facility is aiming for fast-paced gameplay with constant skirmishes. Players in the French city of Dunkirk will find snipers rule the roost over the open beach.

Players can also engage in aerial dogfighting for the first time in the game and a new chapter in the game’s zombie mode.

The DLC is part of Activision’s deal with Sony to launch first exclusively on PlayStation 4 on April 10. War Machine will arrive on Xbox One and PC later at an unspecified date, but traditionally it is about a month later.

Lovecraftian lore is going through a revival in video games, with several recent and upcoming titles like The Darkest Dungeon, Sunless Sea, and Call of Cthulhu using the horror literature as a jumping off point for their story and settings. Bigben Interactive and Sherlock Holmes developer Frogwares have another title to add to the mix with The Sinking City. Whereas many other games integrate elements of Lovecraftian fiction like antiquated language, reclusive and detached heroes, xenophobia, and that narrow gap between sanity and insanity, Frogwares looks to be wrapping all of these into one faithful package that uses Lovecraft’s oeuvre as canon.

Set in the fictional Massachusetts town of Oakmont during the 1920s, The Sinking City follows the journey of a private investigator drawn to the city by its strange predicament. A half-year ago, the city suddenly flooded for no good reason, rendering the city nonfunctional, and ominous monoliths rose from the waters. But rather than evacuating, the Oakmont denizens seem perfectly content living in their newfound water world. Even stranger, others seem to be drawn to the city as well. 

The Sinking City leverages the investigative chops Frogwares developed over its past several Sherlock Holmes games, but expands beyond the studio’s comfort zone with an open-world environment. Your wily P.I., Mr. Reed, can visit any of the seven city districts at any time, many of which will require him to hop on a boat to navigate the flooded streets. The Sinking City has minimal hand-holding, opting for a clean screen rather than inundating the player with minimaps and waypoints. It gives the game a cinematic flair and lets you take in the foreboding atmosphere of the city. 

The game is divided between the main narrative and several short-story style side quests. Frogwares wants the entire experience to be driven by storytelling and investigation, so Frogwares isn’t injecting mission-padding fluff like fetch quests. However, scavengers will be able to find collectibles throughout the environments. 

During a GDC demo, I got to see one of these side quests in action. Our gumshoe finds himself chatting with a woman whose husband, Harry Evans, has gone missing. The dialogue options allow him to try to get some actionable intelligence from the woman, and he discovers he has a cabin near Salvation Harbor. Before the conversation ends, I’m presented with a moral choice – do I take her offer of an engagement ring for my work, or say I’ll do it for free? Not wanting to rob the lady of her heirlooms, I tell her not to worry about reimbursement. Before leaving her apartment, I rudely rummage through her drawers and find some ammunition for my pistol. 

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Walking downstairs, Reed walks into a bar filled with some strange looking blokes who, judging by the markings on their necks, appear to be hybrids. In Lovecraftian lore, hybrids are beings who have both human DNA and that of The Deep Ones. The bartender we chat up is one of these with the “Innsmouth Look.” I ask him if he knows Harry Evans, and he asks who I am. I can push back rudely, which could make him less willing to cooperate, or be cordial. Throughout the game, players will be presented with minor moral choices like this that define their experience. 

With our only lead being Evans’ cabin in Salvation Harbor, I pull up the map and place a marker at the intersection his wife mentioned. I hop on a boat and head in the direction of the marker on the compass. Salvation Harbor appears to be an older section of the city, with mostly wooden structures. All the street level, doors are boarded up, but I notice an open window on the balcony of one building. A truck is conveniently parked right next to the balcony, so I climb up and let myself in. 

Casing the joint, I find some evidence that confirms this is Evans’ cabin. Walking downstairs, I see a strange symbol painted in blood on the wall. I take out my camera and snap a shot to record the evidence. In the next room over, I find a headless body. The unsettling image of this decomposing corpse sends Reed into a sanity spiral, and he starts losing his bearings. He starts to see visions like black breaches in the walls, and suddenly he hears the disconcerting guttural noises of encroaching monstrosities. Pulling out the pistol, Reed cleans house and regains some of his sanity. With the immediate threat vanquished, he can get back to the investigation. 

Reed’s visions sometimes enable him to see things that have happened in the past, not unlike the echoes in The Division. After finding several bits of the sequence in the house, he has to activate them in the right order to see how the situation played out. Here, I learn someone brought this headless body to the cabin and dropped it here. With the on-site investigation done, I have two leads – a newspaper clipping mentioning Evans and the photograph of the strange symbol.

Oakmont has several destinations Reed can return to at any point during his investigations, such as the city hall, police station, library, fish market, and hospital. I set off to the city center to check the library for information on the strange symbol. Looking through a book, we learn the sign represents the Eye of Dagon. Knowing the Esoteric Order of Dagon is the primary religion at Innsmouth, the demoer says lots of Innsmouthers can be found at the fish market.

I could go to the newspaper headquarters to investigate the clipping before leaving, but instead decide to fast travel to the fish market. We meet another hybrid here and he tells me the guy we’re looking for is hiding in the basement. As soon as I walk down the stairs toward a ritual site I realize something is wrong. Turning around, several robed figures approach and the demo comes to an end. Had I investigated all my leads I would have known this was a trap, but my impulsiveness got the best of me and left me in a tough spot. 

Rather than hit the player with a game over screen, Frogwares wants players to live with their mistakes. Given my outcome, I never got to the bottom of the Evans case, and I’ll have to live with that. 

Though the stlted voice acting could use a serious injection of passion, the setting, investigation tools, and lure of a Lovecraftian open world make The Sinking City one worth keeping an eye on. The game currently has no release window, but will eventually come out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 

One of the many complaints that longtime Destiny players have had about Destiny 2 is the lack of hero moments, where guardians feel more like superheroes than run-of-the-mill soldiers. With update 1.1.4, Bungie is hoping that some of those moments will return with breakneck speed. You can find all of the patch notes here, but here are some of the highlights of Destiny 2’s latest update:

  • Gotta go fast! – Titans and Warlocks will notice speed boosts to their general glide movements. Melee super abilities like the Titan’s Fist of Havoc and Sentinel Shield as well as Hunter’s Arcstrider will also see increases to their movement speed. Each increment of the mobility stat will be increased, leading to significant boosts of speed in general.
  • PVE weapon buffs – Most weapon types will have a damage increase for PVE activities, including hand cannons, pulse rifles, scout rifles, sidearms, submachine guns, linear fusion rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers. Regular fusion rifles and rocket launchers remain unchanged, while auto rifles get a slight nerf.
  • Quitter penalties – Leaving a competitive PVP game early will now result in either a warning or a 30-minute suspension from competitive playlists.
  • Faster supers– Super regeneration rates have decreased from six minutes and forty seconds to five minutes. 
  • Return to the old Iron Banner – Iron Banner control is returning to its original Destiny form, allowing teams of six, faster capture zones for multiple players, reduced respawn times, and more frequent ammo crate drops.

As detailed in Bungie’s development roadmap, this is the latest update leading into season three of Destiny 2, which will kick off in May with update 1.2.0.

 

Our Take
Destiny 2 has always been a mechanically sound shooter, but has lacked that special quality that made people love/hate the original. Hopefully this update will bring back some of those heroic moments and get people excited before the next season and DLC hits in May.

Ready Player One is a reminder of why I love going to the movies. Steven Spielberg turns Ernest Cline’s novel into a gripping visual bombardment, dazzling theatergoers for two hours with off-the-rails action sequences and a nonstop machine-gun blast of pop-culture references. Cline’s book focuses primarily on the 1980s, but the film (which Cline co-wrote) opens the floodgates to incorporate all decades of geekdom, including things you may have just fallen in love with, such as Overwatch. I’m willing to bet it is the only place where you’ll see Hello Kitty sharing screen time with Freddy Krueger. The film ends up being silly in the best possible way – you can’t help but laugh through most sequence, even if they do carry a deeply troubling warning about the world we live in today.

The focus of the film is a simple one to grasp: The world and its resources are in rough shape, but people don’t seem to mind since they can enter virtual reality to escape it all. Everyone is joined together in a virtual world called Oasis, created by tech wizard James Halliday. In Oasis you can be anyone and can do anything, as long as you have the virtual currency to play for it. Some people create their own looks. Others walk around as characters they adore, like RoboCop. The film follows an orphan named Wade Watts (played by Tye Sheridan) who is down on his luck, yet appears to be extremely gifted at many things in Oasis. We learn he’s been trying to win a contest created by Halliday. If one of Oasis’ users completes three mysterious challenges, which will unearth three keys, that person will be receive immense wealth. More importantly, they’ll become the sole owner and ruler of Oasis. People have been hunting for the keys for years, yet they haven’t found anything other than a race no one has been able to finish. Theatergoers are treated to an intimate view of this race, which Wade attempts. This race is beautifully shot, delivering a barrage of carnage across jumps and bridges that just may feature hazards like King Kong and a T-Rex from Jurassic Park. This sequence establishes Ready Player One as something different; a film that doesn’t adhere to any rules – just satisfying mayhem.

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Wade (who goes by Parzival) in Oasis, eventually figures out one of Halliday’s riddles and the chase to find the keys is on. This “quest” is fun to follow, and Spielberg does a great job of making you care about the human characters just as much as the CG geek fest. Parzival becomes intertwined with a woman named Artemis (Olivia Cooke), both on the quest and romantically. We see their relationship begin to take hold in Oasis, but will it hold in the real world? That’s a question Ready Player One teases theatergoers with, and it ends up having a great payoff. The film also has a strong villain in Nolan Sorrento, who is played brilliantly by Ben Mendelsohn. It turns out, Spielberg knows what he’s doing when putting a movie together.

Some of the video game references, which are tied to central plot points, are surprisingly deep cuts. I probably got more out of them than most theatergoers, but that’s part of what makes this film so much damn fun. There are references all over the place, and I bet I didn’t see 60 to 70 percent of them. This is one of those films that you’ll want to watch frame by frame, just to see how many pop-culture references are included.

Just go see this damn movie. I had a blast watching it. Sure, I can nitpick little plot points or CG sequences, but what’s the point? The fun in this movie trumps its blemishes. Don’t go into it expecting a deeply moving piece. Just expect to be dazzled by decades of awesome, geeky things.