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Friday, December 30, 2011

12/30/2011 - Sonic 4 Episode II Coming in 2012
Get Ready to Run in the New Year! SEGA Announces Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II

New Entry in the Smash-Hit Sonic 4 Series Speeds onto Consoles and Mobile in 2012

SAN FRANCISCO & LONDON - December 30, 2011 - SEGA® of America, Inc. and SEGA® Europe Ltd. today announced a New Year's resolution that’s sure to please gamers worldwide: the iconic blue hedgehog will be making his 2D return in Sonic the Hedgehog™ 4 Episode II in 2012. Following the award-winning success of Episode I, which took the world by storm in 2010, Sonic will continue his journey through the epic Sonic 4 saga on Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®Network, and mobile platforms including the App Store, Android Market and Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7.

Fans have been eagerly anticipating the next episode in Sonic's new side-scrolling adventure, and SEGA has been listening closely to their feedback. Armed with all-new character animations and a completely reworked physics engine, Episode II will expand the Sonic 4 storyline with new areas to speed through and new challenges to face. For a sneak peek at what’s in store, including the arrival of a certain high-flying, twin-tailed pal who’s sure to be of assistance, check out the all-new teaser trailer here.

"After twenty years in action, it’s clear that Sonic hasn't slowed down one bit," said Haruki Satomi, Senior Vice President of Digital Business at SEGA of America. "The first entry in the Sonic 4 saga was a major success. We’ve listened to the fans and been hard at work making sure we recapture that same spirit of fun in Episode II. We hope the fans will enjoy it."

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II will support Android mobile devices powered by the NVIDIA® Tegra® mobile processor. It will be available on the Android Market and featured on the Tegra Zone app. In addition, SEGA and NVIDIA are working closely together to develop an even more enhanced version for Tegra 3, the world’s first quad-core mobile processor.

For more information, please visit
www.sega.com.

For more news, follow SEGA on Twitter
@SEGA or like us on Facebook.

About SEGA® of America, Inc.
SEGA® of America, Inc. is the American arm of Tokyo, Japan-based SEGA® Corporation, a worldwide leader in interactive entertainment both inside and outside the home. The company develops, publishes and distributes interactive entertainment software products for a variety of hardware platforms including PC, wireless devices, and those manufactured by Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment. SEGA’s global website site is located at
www.sega.com.

About SEGA® Europe Ltd.
SEGA® Europe Ltd. is the European Distribution arm of Tokyo, Japan-based SEGA® Corporation, and a worldwide leader in interactive entertainment both inside and outside the home. The company develops and distributes interactive entertainment software products for a variety of hardware platforms including PC, wireless devices, and those manufactured by Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. SEGA’s global website site is located at
www.sega.com.
Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.

"PlayStation" is a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
© 2011 NVIDIA Corporation, NVIDIA, the NVIDIA logo, (list all other NVIDIA trademarks and logos referenced herein) are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of NVIDIA Corporation in the United States and other countries. All rights reserved.

Submitted By: E. Thomas

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

12/28/2011 - Serious Play Conference Looking for Speakers
Call for Speakers for 2nd Annual Serious Play Conference, Aug. 21-23. 2012

Sessions for Developers, Project Leads, Faculty  

SEATTLE – Dec. 28, 2011
Serious Play Conference has issued a call for speakers for its second annual “boot camp” for serious games professionals. The 2012 conference will again be held at DigiPen Institute of Technology, Tuesday – Thursday, August 21 – 23 in Redmond, Wash., just outside Seattle.

The three day conference will feature sessions by publishers, developers, game design consultants, market analysts and other professionals already leveraging game mechanics in education, health care, corporations, government and for military training as well as vendors providing serious games hardware and software and faculty teaching serious game development.

Speakers will outline critical success factors in game design, share case histories, offer recommendations on setting up as well as measuring learning outcomes and give advice on how to take advantage of current development technology. Market research consultants will discuss industry trends.

Developers can also vie for recognition in the International Serious Play Awards Competition and certification.  A student winner is also awarded.

Clark Aldrich, author of five industry text books and a serious games consultant, is conference director.  Game industry veteran Sue Bohle, president, The Bohle Company, Los Angeles, whose agency helped build attendance for the Game Developers Conference (GDC) and currently supports Penny Arcade Expos, produces the event.

For more information, visit
www.seriousplayconference.com

Submitted By: E. Thomas

11:17 am pst          Comments

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12/28/2011 - JXD Releases New Android Gaming Tablet JXD S7100
JXD Releases New Android Gaming Tablet - The JXD S7100



Nintendo hasn't even released their highly anticipated Wii-U controller and already someone is stealing their ideas. Welcome the JXD S7100. This android based gaming tablet bears a striking resemblance to the WII-U controller. You know what they say? Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

However, looking beneath the surface we see a surprisingly robust portable game system. The unit features a D-Pad, standard face buttons, a 800 x 400 capacitive touch screen, front and rear cameras and even HDMI output.

The system is currently running Android 2.2. The internal hardware is powered by an ARM Cortex A9 CPU, a Mail 400 GPU, with 512 MB of Ram and 16GB of internal storage. The system also has a media slot for external storage.

In the demonstration video we actually see the device running a Nintendo 64 emulator. The tablet is actually shown running Super Mario 64! (Editor's Note: Seriously Nintendo, call your lawyers.) Legality issues aside, the main draw of this tablet is sure to be retro gaming, homebrew and emulation. The company promises a strong focus on retro gaming.

We'll have more on this device in the coming months. Stay tuned for further details.

Submitted By: E. Thomas

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12/28/2011 - Oddworld Strangers Wrath HD Arrives on PSN
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD Locks and Loads for First Person Adventure on PlayStation®Network

The Fabled Oddworld Series Makes its Return in High Definition via PSN

Los Angeles ­- Dec. 27, 2011 - It's time for gamers to scrape together "moolah" and step back into the boots of Stranger, the most fearsome bounty hunter in all of Oddworld. Just Add Water, developer of the hit retro arcade game, Gravity Crash, has completed production of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD in collaboration with Lorne Lanning, the original creator of the Oddworld franchise. The HD version of Stranger's Wrath is now available in native 720p resolution, running at 60 frames per second on the PlayStation®Network $14.99.

Stranger's Wrath follows the story of Stranger, a fearsome bounty hunter that captures outlaws to raise "moolah" for a mysterious surgical procedure. After encountering the backwater town of the Grubbs, Stranger discovers that there are a few too many secrets about the past and his future as a bounty hunter.

Just Add Water worked with Lorne Lanning to preserve every nuance of the original while making sure that the new game took full advantage of current generation hardware. The updates include:

  • Gorgeous Characters - The game's 84 character models have all been beefed up with increased polygon counts and high resolution textures, including Stranger's unique "Live Ammo" system for fluid movement
  • Beautiful Environments - All the game's locations feature upgraded, high resolution textures, along with reflective surfaces and textured vegetation
  • Upgraded Audio - All in-game audio was up-sampled to 16-bit, 44kHz stereo, with support for 5.1 DTS/Dolby Digital surround sound
  • Trophies - Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD has 37 trophies, including a Platinum

"The original Stranger's Wrath was very significant for us since it broke out of the traditional Oddworld mold and took us into the world of FPS. It was a tough labor of love for the original team," said Lorne Lanning, Co-Founder of Oddworld Inhabitants and creator of the Oddworld series of games. "Remaking the game with a polished look and new content while remaining true to the original was not an easy task, but Stewart and the team at JAW did an incredible job and delivered a great complement to the original team's creation. I'm looking forward to working with them on our future titles!"

"The Oddworld franchise represents one of the pinnacles of achievement in the canon of video games, and Stranger's Wrath is such a unique game that we felt it needed to be represented on the next-generation consoles," said Stewart Gilray, content director for Just Add Water. "We knew the only way to do justice to the original was to work with Lorne Lanning, one of Oddworld's original creators. Together, we've dug up some new concepts that were passed over for the 2005 original to give gamers an amazing Oddworld experience on the PlayStation 3."

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD is available now for the PlayStation®3 for $14.99. For more information or to download press assets, please visit http://www.oddworld.com

About the original Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, 2005 - The fourth game from Oddworld Inhabitants, is also considered by many as one of the best Xbox games of all time. Stranger's Wrath, tells the tale of a bounty hunter who, while hunting down criminals, attempts to conceal a secret that, if revealed, could endanger his life. The first full-on action title in the series, mixing 3rd and 1st person-shooter gameplay, the game was set in the Wild West of Oddworld, far from the industrial lands that housed Abe and Munch's tales. The game adapted Oddworld's unique Gamespeak feature, using it more as a soft hint system to give the player subtle clues while preserving the hard-core gaming integrity. The game also debuted a 'live ammo' concept where the ammunition was made of living creatures, which the player had to capture in order to use. The game was globally well received, achieving a Metacritic rating of 88%.

About Oddworld Inhabitants

Formed in 1994 by special effects and computer animation veterans Sherry McKenna and Lorne Lanning, Oddworld Inhabitants is dedicated to creating the next generation of interactive entertainment.

Beginning with its debut products, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee® and Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus®, Oddworld mixed a potent brew of Hollywood artistry with rock solid gameplay to produce experiences rich in emotionality, empathy and entertainment value. Combined sales of the company's first products are in excess of three million units and climbing. Both games have been a hit with established gamers and non-gamers alike: 18% of Europeans who purchased Abe's Exoddus were women.

Through Abe's Oddysee, Abe's Exoddus, Munch's Oddysee, Stranger's Wrath and the games yet to follow, Oddworld is introducing a collection of characters set in a common universe, sharing the highest standards of creativity, quality and unforgettable personality. More than actors in a play, the inhabitants of Oddworld are A.L.I.V.E.: Aware Lifeforms In Virtual Entertainment® with their own physical needs, emotional quirks and unforgettable personalities.

Our mission is simple: for Oddworld's Inhabitants to live in every home.

About Just Add Water

Based in West Yorkshire countryside, Just Add Water (Developments) Ltd. is a collective of veteran game developers specializing in download-only games, since 2006. With over 100 years' collective game development experience spread among the core team, JAW's key personnel have worked on over 50 game titles over the past 20 years including:

Power Monger, Pinball Fantasies, Spec Ops: Ranger Elite, Soldier of Fortune, Dune 2000, and Gravity Crash to name but a few.

Stewart Gilray heads the company, having worked in the business since the 1980s. Stewart's drive for creating JAW was and still is to facilitate building the games he and his team want to play. Recently JAW became the exclusive developers for titles based upon the Oddworld bran

Submitted By: E. Thomas


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12/27/2011 - Troll Blaster Free for the Holidays
Game Developer eMobisoft make iOS Physics Game Troll Blaster Free for the Holidays

Mobile software firm eMobiSoft Inc. has made their smash hit game Troll Blaster free for the holiday season. They have also announced a limited partnership with Daily App Dream for this campaign.

Montreal, Quebec:  Mobile firm eMobiSoft Inc. is giving their audience a special gift this holiday season.  In association with Daily App Dream, eMobiSoft Inc. has made their smash hit game Troll Blaster free for a limited time. This announcement comes in conjunction with the recent 1.1 update to their app.

“We are very excited about partnering with Daily App Dream for this free holiday campaign.  The response to Troll Blaster since we launched it has been phenomenal.  People seem to really love it and the challenge it provides!  To get ready for the campaign we also issued a pretty big update (1.1) which fixed bugs and added social media integration.” says eMobiSoft Inc. owner Lucky Gupta.

In addition to the bug fixes and social media integration, Gupta goes on to mention that since the games launch fans have overwhelmingly asked for a few features which have been added to version 1.1. “With the 1.1 update, we also added two in app purchases (IAP’s) which the fans have been asking for.  The first is what we call ‘Grenade Power’ which allows players to add one grenade to any and all levels at any time.  No restrictions, anytime they have trouble with a level, they could push pause and add a grenade.  The second IAP we added was a level skip.  The player will receive three level skips which automatically re-generate every week.  The game is very challenging so for some of our players this will allow them to gain a bit of an edge.”

Drawing comparisons to games such as Angry Birds, Gupta states “We are happy to be compared to such games as ours is definitely in the genre.  Once people play they see significant differences in gameplay such as strategic weapon selection, a greater challenge as well as overall different physics.  The environment we’ve created allows for fans of the projectile destruction type of game to easily migrate to Troll Blaster and quickly start playing in a familiar setting.  Additionally, a much more subtle feature people really enjoy is the complete lack of load times in the game after the initial game load.”

Troll Blaster v1.1 is available now in the App Store for free for a limited time

Submitted By: E. Thomas

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Monday, December 26, 2011

12/26/2011 - The ESA Year In Review

webassets/esa.jpg

ESA's 2011 Year in Review

Dear Friends,

The word "historic" is overused, but as we look back on 2011, it is a perfect fit for our industry's year. The U.S. Supreme Court's vigorous affirmation of our First Amendment rights, a new array of artistically astonishing games, and educators' increasing recognition of the role games play in teaching and learning made 2011 a remarkable year and set the stage for a great 2012.

I want to thank all of you for supporting our industry as we faced a momentous challenge to the constitutional rights of our industry's artists and creators before the U.S. Supreme Court. Your support helped amplify our voice, and ensured the Court heard our collective concerns about the consequences of the Schwarzenegger-Yee law at the center of the case. The Court's landmark declaration that video games enjoy the same Constitutional protections as books, movies and fine arts was exactly what we hoped to hear. The importance of this decision, both for our industry and for all who cherish free speech, cannot be overstated.

While the legal news played out in Washington, the rest of the world continued to be amazed by the increasing sophistication of the games our industry produces. As Seth Schiesel wrote in The New York Times earlier this month:

"Game makers are producing more high-quality entertainment for a broader variety of players than they ever have in the past. No other form of fun melds advanced digital technology, personal engagement and mass-market cultural relevance as felicitously as video games. That is why video games are the ascendant form of popular entertainment."

Entertainment will always be the heart of our industry, but I would also note the growing awareness that exists about the positive impact games have on improving other top priorities for the American people, including our economy, our education and healthcare systems, the workplace and the arts. Consider just a few examples from this year:

  • Art: Video games gained new appreciation as works of art, as their stunning graphics and captivating soundtracks attracted the art community's attention. The Smithsonian Institution announced that it will unveil a new exhibit dedicated to showcasing the incredible artistry within games at its American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. ESA is proud to sponsor the exhibit, titled "The Art of Video Games," which opens March 16, 2012.
  • The Economy:  As many of you know, video game companies continue to post strong sales, with sales of game content, hardware and accessories generating $25.1 billion in revenue in 2010. Gamers' increasing interest in mobile, social and online play is a key component of this success, and we recognize The NPD Group's decision to begin reporting digital game sales on a monthly basis and the firm's new partnership with EEDAR that will help it do so. Their decision recognizes the significance of digital games to our business, and will provide a more complete picture of industry sales.
  • Healthcare: Using an online game called Foldit, designed by Professor Zoran Popovic at the University of Washington, online gamers deciphered the protein that helps the HIV gene multiply. The protein stumped scientists for more than a decade, but the gamers unlocked it in just 10 days. While this is certainly a major breakthrough in the ongoing battle against AIDS, it also shows the unique power of our medium to solve incredibly difficult and complex problems.
  • Education: In September, the White House launched Digital Promise, a public-private partnership aimed at incorporating technological tools, including games, into American classrooms. The program will support research and development efforts to identify effective teaching technologies, develop new approaches for rapid evaluation of new products and explore ways to expand the market for learning software.

I am proud to report that, in partnership with this initiative, ESA is once again sponsoring the National STEM Video Game Challenge in collaboration with The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, E-Line Media, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting/PBS KIDS' Ready to Learn initiative. The competition challenges students and developers to create original games that stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning.

Of course, these are just a few examples of the reach and promise of games, and we see new and inspiring instances every day. We will continue sharing these stories with you through our monthly newsletter and on our website while also exploring opportunities to provide further support and encouragement for this movement.

In 2011, our industry continued to grow, to innovate and to be a source of entertainment, inspiration and learning. We also reaffirmed our rightful legal place alongside the other art forms that entertain and enlighten our society. These developments made for an historic year.

I thank you again for your interest in and support of our industry, and wish you and your families a joyous and healthy holiday season.

Sincerely,

Michael D. Gallagher
President and CEO
Entertainment Software Association

Submitted By: E. Thomas


12:36 pm pst          Comments


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