15th November 2018

Over a year ago, Niantic (the developers behind Pokémon GO) announced a game called Wizards Unite. In their announcement, they celebrated the state of their AR technology, including how successful Pokémon GO already was at that point (November 2017). It meant that they had the ability to expand on that and create an experience for the Harry Potter franchise:

We’re incredibly excited to announce this next step in the evolution of AR mobile entertainment. With Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, players that have been dreaming of becoming real life Wizards will finally get the chance to experience J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Players will learn spells, explore their real world neighborhoods and cities to discover & fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies. We’re thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WB Games San Francisco’s development team to bring this magical and beloved series to life in a brand new way. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will leverage the full stack of the Niantic Platform while also providing an opportunity to pioneer all new technology and gameplay mechanics.

It sounded really impressive, but I didn’t expect it to take this long. Because we’ve only just been treated to a trailer, and it wont be released until 2019.

The story sounds reasonably interesting:

The Ministry is looking for witches and wizards willing to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to save the wizarding world from the Calamity. As a member of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force (a new task force formed in partnership between the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards) you will hone lightning fast wand reflexes, an ability to sniff out the faintest whiff of magical disorder from afar, and proficiency in advanced casting of multiple spells.

But it will all depend on the implementation of the real world scaling, the AR features, and just how it will be played. The idea of Pokémon works very well in this scenario, and Pokémon GO has only proved that. But I’m not sure how you could get a game based around the Harry Potter franchise, that is constantly pulling you in to do more, without it being a fixed storyline.

I’m a big Harry Potter fan, so I’m going to play it no matter what. But I hope it’s something long lasting.

You can find out more information, and also sign up for updates on the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite website.

17th October 2018
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Eurogamer recently had an interview with two people from Game Freak, the main developers of Pokémon games. Junichi Masuda (executive director and head of game development) and Kensaku Nabana (designer). It’s a really interesting read, especially with all the changes they had to make when adapting the game to a different style of playing.

Two decades on from Pokémon Red and Blue’s arrival here in the west, we’re going back to Kanto once again.

Pokémon Let’s Go have made big changes – some proving more popular than others in the lead up to its release – but there’s still a lingering sense that, with just the first generation of Pokémon available, in the first region, we’ve seen it all before.

A couple of weeks ago, alongside an extended hands-on preview of Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, we talked to Junichi Masuda, executive director and head of game development at Pokémon’s main studio Game Freak, as well as fellow designer Kensaku Nabana, about some of the nitty gritty details fans are always after, including how that whole Meltan reveal came about, HMs, and those perpetual questions of difficulty, open worlds, and the series’ future.

It ends with a answer from Junichi Masuda, which is quite reassuring about their idea of how the main series of Pokémon games will be played:

I know that a lot of people and fans have spent a lot of time hatching eggs, they’ve hatched… a lot of eggs, but we want them to kind of discover new ways to enjoy Pokémon games, you know I’d be really sad to think that for them, Pokémon is hatching eggs, so with this one we’re trying to show them a different side of the game.

Pokémon GO is super popular, and I still play it quite a lot, but I wouldn’t want the main games to be simplified to match. So this is good news!

Read the full interview at Eurogamer.net

18th July 2018

Matthew Gault, writing for Motherboard:

Back in 2012, developer Roberts Space Industries (RSI) launched a Kickstarter asking for money to fund Star Citizen—an ambitious space game in the mold of Wing Commander. It’s 2018, and while parts of the game are playable in various forms, it’s far from achieving what it set out to accomplish. So far, it’s collected more than $200 million in funding from fans eager to play it.

Ken Lord was one of those fans, and an early backer of Star Citizen. He’s got a Golden Ticket, a mark on his account that singles him out as an early member of the community. In April of 2013, Lord pledged $4,496 to the project. Five years later, the game still isn’t out, and Lord wants his money back. RSI wouldn’t refund it, so Lord took the developer to small-claims court in California.

This is a major reason why I don’t partake in many Kickstarters, and I personally think games are the worst examples. Clearly I’m the minority though, as the original Kickstarter campaign received $2,134,374 from 34,397 backers.

That’s a lot of money for a game that began development in 2011, and still hasn’t been released yet. Sure, there’s an alpha available, but it’s been 7 years, and they originally planned to release in November 2014.

Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the entire story of Ken Lord’s legal case, because there are quite a few interesting twists and turns.

Read the full article on Motherboard.

26th March 2018

Straight from the Pokémon GO blog:

New objectives lead to exciting rewards and perhaps a Mythical encounter in the latest Pokémon GO update.

A somewhat of a surprising (at least to me) update for Pokémon GO has been announced. It’s based around research, and it will add a whole new layer to the game.

All Pokémon Masters will already know about Pokémon research, and how prevalent it is in the games and television shows. But if you don’t, then ask yourself what Professor Oak was up to.

The update will bring two types of research, Field Research and Special Research.

With Field Research being the more regular of the two activities, which will result in rewards, and occasionally a stamp. Which is essentially an achievement. After you collect seven of these, you will achieve a “Research Breakthrough”, which may lead to encounters with legendary Pokémon.

The Special Research is story-based, and will be completed via Professor Willow. This is what I’m more interested in. The current story looks like it’s based around Mew, and the and mysteries behind it. I’m guessing this will be spread out over time, and will maybe mean people will start playing more regularly.

I just hope this leads to the ability to catch Mew.

We’ll just have to see, when the update launches on the 30th March.

26th September 2016
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Back in March this year, Rich Stanton wrote a piece on the development of the classic game, Lemmings. How it came to be, and also what came after.

Somehow this ended up in my Pocket to-read collection, and I’ve only just got round to reading it. Lemmings was one of my favourite games when I was growing up, and I was so young when I was playing it, that I don’t even remember what platform I played it on!

Here’s a snippet:

Mike Dailly had seen tiny 5-pixel high sprites in games like , a popular Atari ST shooter where the player’s ship rescued little android slaves, and thought that somewhere between this and a 16×16 sprite would be a sweet spot – where the small size made the Walker look big by comparison, but the animations were still good enough to impart character. One lunchtime he made an image of little men being crushed by weights, and shot by a laser gun – everyone loved it, and Gary Timmons added a few more traps. While everyone was laughing, Russell Kay was the first to say ‘There’s a game in that!’

If you’re interested in video games, then I highly recommend it, and if not, then you should probably still give it a try.

Read the full post on ReadOnlyMemory.vg.