Amazon launches update that overhauls its Lumberyard game-dev toolkit

Amazon is updating its Lumberyard tools for game developers. The engine is adding dozens of new features to improve animations, nonphotorealistic visuals, and more. Lumberyard is Amazon’s biggest gaming project. The company has some internal development studios, but it is putting a lot of investment in building making a tool for others to use. The company is, of course, leveraging its gigantic Amazon Web Services cloud platform for Lumberyard, and its visual backbone is the CryEngine SDK that developer Crytek built for games like Crysis. The idea is to provide a powerful and scalable tool for indie and blockbuster developers that is familiar but also is built for teams to work together in a connected, online environment. But Amazon has that cloud-based development infrastructure up and running, and now it’s time for incremental improvements. That’s what today’s update is all about. “Lumberyard Beta 1.11 adds over 400 new features, improvements, and Read the full article…

Sean Ellis, hacking growth, and why Amazon’s goggles might suck – VB Engage

In this week’s episode, Travis and Stewart talk about virtual reality advertising, Intercom’s new lead generation solution, and Amazon’s smart goggles, which sound like they might be a terrible idea. Or they might be good. Stewart thinks that either way they’ll be cheap because Amazon doesn’t do premium products. In our guest interview, Sean Ellis — the man who invented the term “growth hacking” — gives us all his secrets. Well, not all of them, but a really good number of them. This is one interview you won’t want to miss if you’re interested in landing more customers and building big communities. Resources mentioned in the episode Advrty brings native ads to virtual reality Intercom launches Live Chat for Sales to generate leads at scale Amazon’s new smart goggles might make sense, if Alexa is everywhere Sean Ellis  GrowthHackers — Helping teams unlock their company’s full growth potential through a Read the full article…

GamesBeat weekly roundup: Loving the SNES Classic Edition, and conquering our Cuphead demons

Hello, and welcome to another GamesBeat weekly roundup! This time, the video game voice actors strike ended, Middle-earth: Shadow of War showed off its mobile version, and we tried to figure out what makes a “core” Mario game. Enjoy, and have a great weekend! Pieces of flair and roundup The DeanBeat: The wonderful diverse world of games PC Gaming Weekly: Atari searches for a market Cuphead: Watch Dean conquer his demons What makes a ‘core’ Mario game? GamesBeat Decides Is the Super NES Classic worthy of the hype? GamesBeat Decides How indie studio Accidental Queens emerged from a game jam Vainglory’s esports tournaments are about more than competition Why we’ll always love Toys ‘R’ Us: It was gaming’s first megastore PlayerUnknown’s Battleground zombies: I feel like a master necromancer Above: Commodore 64 Mini. Image Credit: Koch Media News The Commodore 64 is the next gaming classic to get a retro makeover Read the full article…

Varjo raises $8.2 million to boost its high-res VR headset

EXCLUSIVE: Varjo, a Finnish company that’s working on an ultra high-fidelity mixed reality headset, announced today that it has raised an $8.2 million series A round to propel it forward as it works toward the launch of its first developer kits. EQT Ventures led the round, with participation from Lifeline Ventures, the Venture Reality Fund, Presence Capital, and others. The funds will be used to build out the Varjo team, expand its marketing program, and continue funding development of its headset. “Simply put, we were looking to fund our product R&D and a few custom components that must be built to reach crucial improvements in the device quality,” Varjo CEO Urho Konttori said in an email to VentureBeat. Varjo’s headset is designed to be roughly the size and shape of a traditional virtual reality headset but to provide human-eye resolution for a higher quality image. In addition, the system promises Read the full article…

Interview with Natalie Korotaeva : “I see a great potential of the voice interfaces together with…

Interview with Natalie Korotaeva ?: “I see a great potential of the voice interfaces together with the Internet of Things.” We welcome a bunch of experts in this interview series. The areas of these people are product management, AI, user experience, usability, big data. Natalie Korotaeva ? is this month’s guest in our bot enthusiasts series! Natalie is a UX designer, botshackathon & botbarcamp organiser and a bionic girl. Also, have you checked out our previous interview with Oksana Oboishchyk? Natalie Korotaeva Hi Natalie, let’s talk a bit about you. Would you tell us about yourself and your passions regarding UX? So, a few words about me :) I have worked as IT project manager, UX/UI designer & marketing specialist for over 6 years in Russia & Austria. I’m a part of the craftworks team as UX Engineer. My company is a software and artificial intelligence startup from Vienna. Regarding UX I’m passionate the Read the full article…

Angry Birds maker Rovio’s shares debut in IPO that values company at $1.1 billion

Rovio Entertainment’s stock began trading today just slightly above its IPO offering price which was set well below the top of the range the company had been considering. Rovio had announced recently that it was exploring pricing the shares between $10.23 per share and $13.72 per share. It was looking for a number that would allow it to raise $36 million from investors while issuing the fewest possible shares. The final price ended up being $11.50 per share, valuing the company at $1.1 billion. By late morning, the stock was trading at $12.17 per share. The biggest winner today is Kaj Hed, the company’s former chairman and owner of reportedly 69 percent of the company via his investment vehicle, Trema International Holdings, prior to the IPO. Rovio had said that Trema would sell 18.36 million shares, into the IPO. After the IPO, Trema will still hold 36.6 percent of the company’s Read the full article…

How esports competitors prepare, mentally and physically

GUEST: Think “high-performance athlete” and a fairly typical ideal probably springs to mind. The classic media representation of an elite athlete embodies physical prowess built on a foundation of continual conditioning and fitness. While it puts some emphasis on the mental aspects of athleticism, its main focus is all about the body. Compare that to the media’s traditional representation of “gamers,” more often portrayed as slackers than high performers, hiding out in their game caves with a cold pizza at their side. Not exactly the picture of the typical top athlete. The stereotype is ready for a significant upgrade, thanks to the rise of competitive esports and the elite players who are putting them on the map. Its popularity is rising as quickly as its legitimacy as a true sport. According to Matthew Humphries in PC Magazine, the 2024 Olympics is considering adding esports. The announcement is reminiscent of the inclusion Read the full article…

PC Gaming Weekly: Atari searches for a market

Thanks to an exclusive report from our lead writer, Dean Takahashi, we learned this week that the new Ataribox will be a low-cost gaming rig with Atari branding and style. The Ataribox will run on the Linux OS and feature an AMD processor. Yes, you’ll be able to play PC games on it, too — remember, Steam does work on Linux. That’s a nice bonus for people who are interested in this box. But let’s remember — Valve itself threw its weight behind living room Linux gaming with Steam Machines. When’s the last time you heard anyone talk about those? And when was the last time you hooked up your PC to your main TV and used Steam’s Big Picture mode? Yeah, I thought so. Atari’s hoping the nostalgia from old games will move boxes, as it did for the NES Classic. But why would I need to buy a $250-$300 device for that? I Read the full article…

YouTube creates confusion by herding creators into partner program to fight ‘abuse’ (update)

YouTube creators are still dealing with the ramifications of the adpocalypse brought on in part by superstar PewDiePie repeatedly making jokes sympathetic toward Nazis. That made it more difficult for people to earn revenue on Google’s video platform, and now YouTube has changed its policy so that creators have to agree to its partnership program in order to add links to any external site, such as Patreon. This is a new obstacle that may cost creators revenue from sources outside of Google’s provided avenues, and YouTube’s mixed messaging is causing anxiety for those creators. When creators upload a video, they can select to add an “endscreen” on YouTube the provides dynamic links to other YouTube videos or external websites. But if you are not a partner, you will now see a warning that this option is “not enabled” for you. If you click through to the support page about this, Google Read the full article…

Forza Motorsport 7 reviewed: Racing fun for everyone

Enlarge / Variety is the spice of life, and Forza Motorsport 7 has a lot of variety. (credit: Turn 10 Studios) What a time to be a fan of the racing genre. The past few weeks delivered both F1 2017 and Project CARS 2, and, before we’ve even had time to catch breath, it’s time for the latest installment from Turn 10: Forza Motorsport 7. It’s aimed at a much wider audience than either a straight F1 game or hardcore sim like Project Cars, and Microsoft has high hopes for this in-house title, even choosing it to showcase the Xbox One X. Before our review copies arrived late on Tuesday night I was wondering how much more there would be to say about such a well-established franchise. After many hours on both Xbox One and Windows, the answer is plenty. Keeping things fresh This will be Forza‘s tenth console outing, Read the full article…

New casino game lets you bet real money on Pac-Man

Back in like the 1890s, a slot machine was probably the coolest entertainment device anyone had ever seen. In 2017, though, despite a lot of advances in slot technology, those flashy one-armed bandits just aren’t drawing in “the youngs” who all have access to both Candy Crush Saga and Internet porn on a magical device in their pockets. To try to fight back, casino owners are turning to purely skill-based video games for their betting floors, and the trend is getting a big-name boost in Pac-Man Battle Casino, a newly announced machine from Namco and Gamblit Gaming hitting casinos next year. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments Read the full article…

Combat-free mode makes Assassin’s Creed: Origins incredibly easy to explore

Enlarge / Why kill thousands of bad guys when you can explore the world of Assassin’s Creed: Origins as a combat-free museum? (credit: Ubisoft) Back in 2005, Penny Arcade identified two main types of gamers: those who “play games to enter a trance state and experience other lives,” and those who “play them to defeat the designer of the game by proxy.” The former group is getting some specific attention from Ubisoft today, as the company just announced a combat-free “Discovery Tour” mode that will allow players to explore and learn about Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ Egyptian landscapes risk-free. As Ubisoft describes it, the Discovery Tour mode turns the game into a “combat-free living museum, with guided tours that let players delve into its history firsthand.” While there’s an educational focus to the mode’s annotated tours, which are “curated by historians and Egyptologists,” the mode also “lets players roam the entire game Read the full article…

Saudi minister fired after textbook shows Yoda at UN signing ceremony

Enlarge (credit: Shaweesh) Saudi Arabia’s under-secretary for curricula has been fired and exiled to Dagobah after an official Saudi social studies textbook included a photo of Jedi Master Yoda. In the photo, Yoda can be seen sitting next to Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal at the 1945 ceremony that created the United Nations. The textbook page began circulating on social media last week. The photograph was created by Saudi artist Abdullah Al Shehri, who goes by the nickname Shaweesh. He told the BBC that he hadn’t meant any disrespect to King Faisal. “The 2013 artwork, entitled United Nations (Yoda), is part of a series in which symbols of American pop culture—ranging from Captain America to Darth Vader—are superimposed onto archive photos of historical events,” the BBC reports. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments Read the full article…

First trailer for Annihilation, based on a seemingly unfilmable novel

First trailer for Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland and based on Jeff VanderMeer’s incredible novel. Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Annihilation, the first in his acclaimed Southern Reach trilogy, seems like it could never be filmed. It’s the dark psychological story of scientists exploring a region of Florida dubbed Area X, which abruptly started defying the laws of physics and biology. Maybe it’s been visited by aliens or become the portal to another dimension. Maybe toxic waste has finally gone sentient. The unnamed biologist who is our hero has no idea; she just wants to see this new ecosystem for herself. A mysterious organization called the Southern Reach sends her into the region with a highly trained team, and what they see… defies description. In the novel, we see the world through the biologist’s eyes: morphed animals, sentient fungus, terrifying lights, and weird architecture in the creepy inverted “tower” that extends deep into Read the full article…

Serene adventure game Flower just got a surprise release on iPhone

With its next release, renowned game studio Thatgamecompany is expanding to new platforms by debuting Sky on Apple hardware. And to help drum up some excitement, the developer is releasing one its most beloved games, Flower, on both iPhone and iPad today. First released on the PlayStation 3 in 2009, Flower is a game where you play as the wind, guiding flower petals through painterly landscapes, solving environmental puzzles along the way. The original version utilized the PS3 controller’s motion sensors for guiding the wind, whereas the new version takes advantage of the iPhone’s touchscreen to similar effect. Even close to a decade later the game remains distinct, with a rare kind of quiet elegance. Flower was the studio’s second… Read the full article…

Super Mario Run’s new rapid-fire remix mode is just what the game needed

When Super Mario Run made its debut on the iPhone last year, it represented something new: the well-crafted platforming action of Mario tailored to a touchscreen interface. It was a lighter, more streamlined Mario, but it was still Mario at its core. The one thing the game didn’t have much of, though, was staying power. It launched with a small number of levels and not much else, meaning players have been hopping through the same stages since December. But that changes today. Nintendo just released the first major update for the game, and it adds something Super Mario Run has desperately needed: surprise. The core of the update is an all-new game mode called “remix 10.” Essentially, the mode chops up the existing Mario Run stages into… Read the full article…

Rockstar shows off the story of Red Dead Redemption 2 in gritty new trailer

When Rockstar announced that it was delaying Red Dead Redemption 2 to next spring, the developer promised it would have more of the game to show later on this summer. Well, it’s a bit belated, but the reveal is finally here: and it comes in the form of a gorgeous new trailer. The new clip delves a bit more into the story of the game, which — like its predecessor — is a gritty Western drama. Rockstar describes the narrative as “the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang as they rob, fight, and steal their way across the vast and rugged heart of America in order to survive.” Red Dead Redemption 2 is the long-awaited follow-up to the 2010 open-world Western. The sequel was first revealed last October with a lush trailer… Read the full article…

How many times did you punch Yoshi in the head as a kid?

Mario’s iconic sidekick, Yoshi, made his first appearance in Super Mario World. He was a faithful companion Mario could ride and command with an encouraging fist pump. JK! It turns out we’ve been socking our poor dinosaur pal in the head since childhood. As spotted and translated by Kotaku, Yoshi creator Shigefumi Hino has finally ended the enduring “punching or pointing” fan debate. “Lots of people think that while Mario is pointing his finger forward, he’s saying ‘Go,’ and Yoshi’s tongue comes out,” Hino says. “However, the set up that I drew was that when Mario punches Yoshi in the head, the character’s tongue shoots out in surprise.” That cute little noise Yoshi makes when his tongue shoots out just became a horrifying squeal for… Read the full article…

9 top tips for drawing in black and white

This may seem like an odd way to start an article on black and white drawings, but when I was a kid, my favourite drawing tool was a blue crayon. I drew everything in that one colour – the sky, the sea – and things that weren’t even blue, like my neighbour’s cat, our house, and my family. These monochrome drawings helped me develop the skills to know how to draw in black and white. Ballpoint pens make readily accessible and easy to use drawing tools for black and white pictures. They also present their own challenges and limitless possibilities, which we’ll explore in these drawing tips. You might prefer to draw your black and white artworks in pencil or with marker pens, which we’ll explore too (or if you’d rather try charcoal, check out these 10 expert tips for charcoal drawing). Have a look at the video below, then Read the full article…