The B-Roll

Announced at Gamescom last week, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter now has a 13-minute walkthrough video. 

Developed by The Astronauts, an eight-person team out of Poland, The Vanishing was “Inspired by the weird fiction stories and other tales of macabre of the early 20th century.” Players take on the role of occult detective Paul Prospero who is investigating the disappearance of a boy, Ethan Carter, who vanished following a murder. With zero combat, players rely on Prospero’s supernatural instincts to uncover clues and progress through the narrative. 

According to The Astronauts, “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game to be played at night, alone, and with headphones.”

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is due out on Sept. 25 for PC. A PlayStation 4 version is expected next year.

There’s a new trailer for Open Road Films’ thriller Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. 

From Open Road:

Nightcrawler is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling—where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

Dan Gilroy, writer of The Bourne Legacy, penned the script and serves as director. The film also stars Bill Paxton and Riz Ahmed, the unwitting apprentice who joins Gyllenhaal on his nightly excursions. 

Nightcrawler is slated to screen at the Toronto Film Festival and in U.S. theaters on Oct. 17.

The launch trailer for Destiny is here. 

The trailer shows off more of what Activision and Bungie have been promising since word of Destiny was first announced: expansive worlds, diverse terrain, fast-paced action, and coopertive multiplayer.

There are enemies out here you would not believe,” a voice tell us. “But they’ve never seen anything like you. It doesn’t matter who you are, only what you will become.”

From Activision and Bungie, the creator of the Halo, Destiny will hit shelves on Sept. 9 for Xbox One and Xbox 360, as well as PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4.

Square Enix Collective and Kitfox Games announced today that Moon Hunters, the pixel-art mythology-building RPG, will start its crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday, August 26.

The Collective platform is a curated forum where creators post concept that are rated by users, ultimately deciding whether the projects have a future. Developers then participate in a team assessment before funding to determine if the developer’s model is viable and have the chops to take the idea through to fruition. 

According to a press release from Square Enix, Moon Hunters was posted earlier this year on the Collective platform during the pilot phase. Kitfox has since shipped the critically-acclaimed Shattered Planet on mobile and Steam, and is now ready to enter full production of Moon Hunters.

The team will be aiming to raise $45,000 in order to help them complete the project.

“The team is really eager to show off what we’ve been working on and get more input from the community,” commented Tanya Short, designer on Moon Hunters. “Collective has helped us find our audience for a mythology-building RPG, getting the word out about this beautiful game we’re trying to make.”

Moon Hunters caught my eye very early on with its great visual style and design bursting with personality - and gamers echoed that with strong support during the game’s feedback campaign,” added Phil Elliott, project lead at Collective. “Since getting to know the team at Kitfox Games over the past 9 months, we’re really happy to be supporting them through their Kickstarter - we’ve learnt a great deal since Collective launched fully in April, and we’ll put all of that experience into this campaign and help the team get the best result they can.”

Kitfox Games underwent a team assessment from Collective, during which a Square Enix development director evaluated developer’s skills, experience, and plans for the money raised through the Kickstarter campaign. Of course, Square Enix won’t guarantee the success of Moon Hunter; there is no guarantee in gaming, even with a AAA publisher behind you. However, the vote of confidence means that Kitfox likely has everything it needs (short of the cash) to achieve a quality finished product. 

More than 20 new projects from teams in 15 different countries have been published for the community to evaluate on Collective. New posts are published every Monday. Earlier this year, Square Enix Collective was nominated in the Innovation in Business category at the inaugural Games Industry Innovation Awards.

Source: Square Enix

BioWare unveiled Shadow Realms today at Gamescom. The 4v1 episodic RPG takes place “in a world where modern meets fantasy,” as the four protagonists challenge the player-controlled enemy known as The Shadowlord. Players have the option to choose good and play as one of four heros, or follow the path of evil as The Shadowlord. The story will unfold as narrative episodes, e.g., The Walking Dead game and Sony’s confirmed Until Dawn.

“This game brings us back to our roots in the realm of classic pen-and-paper RPG, but also delivers something that’s completely new and innovative for our fans,” said BioWare Austin VP Jeff Hickman. “Shadow Realms is a new BioWare RPG that has the hallmarks of all BioWare games with a rich story, a unique world setting and deep combat progression, but built as an interactive experience that evolves the genre and broadens the appeal to online gamers all over the world.”

As the series of teasers hinted, Shadow Realms centers on “modern heroes on Earth,” whose untapped powers have awakened. The fledgling heroes are drafted into a war agaisnt the Shadow Legions of Embra. “The Shadow Legions, who have been battling on Embra for years against the members of the Radiant Empires, have gained new strength with the coming of a powerful, unknown force that we call the Shadowlords. And, they have just figured out how to leave Embra and invade Earth.”

According to the official press release, players will have the option to create highly customizable characters, either hero or villain, and join with other co-op players. To join the closed alpha, head over to www.ShadowRealms.com/play for a chance at early entry into Shawdow Realms

Shadow Realms is in development at BioWare Austin and will be available for the PC from Origin at www.origin.com

The horror game Until Dawn was slated for PlayStation 3 and Move controller, but plans have changed. Sony announced today at Gamescom the adventure horror title will arrive in 2015 for PS4. There were rumors in March that the game, still in development by Supermassive Games, might make its debut as a Project Morpheus release for Sony’s virtual reality headset. Alas, so far, that isn’t the case. 

From Supermassive Games:

When eight friends are trapped on a remote mountain retreat and things quickly turn sinister, they start to suspect they aren’t alone.

Gripped by fear and with tensions in the group running high, you’ll be forced to make snap decisions that could mean life, or death, for everyone involved.

Every choice you make in your terrifying search for answers – even the seemingly trivial ones – will carve out your own unique story.

With spine-tingling performances from a Hollywood cast including Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville) brought to life with the power of PlayStation®4 – your actions alone will decide who survives Until Dawn.

Until Dawn™ is coming exclusively to PlayStation®4 in 2015.

In an unpredictable and dynamically adaptive story, crafted in consultation with Until Dawn scriptwriters and indie horror auteurs Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, eight friends come together at a remote mountain getaway and embark upon a night of unexpected terror. Through the course of the night, anyone can live, anyone can die, and things aren’t always what they seem. Twists and turns will keep you guessing right to the end as you play each of the friends. The decisions you make on their behalf will determine who survives Until Dawn.

With innovative choice mechanics and the Butterfly-Effect Interface, players can clearly see the path of their story amid the thousands that are possible. Seemingly insignificant choices as well as huge moral dilemmas that will question your sense of fairness, good and evil, can have major unforeseen consequences.

Using the power of the PlayStation®4 and the superior rendering capability of the Killzone™ Shadowfall Engine, together with our own major enhancements in lighting, camera, and animation systems, Until Dawn brings emotional and credible performances of a talented Hollywood cast to life in its realistically terrifying environments.

The film Snowpiercer is set in a frozen dystopia, the result of a failed attempt to thwart global warming (in July 2014, no less) by shooting chemicals into the atmosphere. What is left of humanity survives within the tight confines of a train, the Snowpiercer, circumnavigating the globe under the power of a perpetual-motion engine. The story is set in 2031, when the lower class restricted to the tail of the train plot to fight their way to the front and in an attempt overthrow the oppressive hierarchy. Of course, it’s about much more than that. What we see is a gut-wrenching tragedy interspersed with ironic comedy that culminates in a disquieting parable. 

The movie pre-sold distribution to 167 territories back in 2012 based on Joon-ho Bong’s director ethos, a script, and a few scenes. The Weinstein Company secured the rights in North America, Australia, South Africa, and the U.K. However, before Snowpiercer’s U.S. release, rumblings emerged that Harvey Weinstein intended to make major cuts in the editing room, a move that aimed to make the film more palatable to Midwesterners. 

The minor creative controversy began at the Busan festival when Bong told audiences before a screening of his sci-fi drama, “We are still in discussions about the cut, but it is clear that this is the only director’s cut you will be able to see.” 

Word had it that as much as 20 minutes of the film were to disappear from the North American version. The director later softened his stance in an interview with Xin MSN: “I came here after editing for the American version. I’ve never produced a new version for overseas premieres, and this is the first time I’m making a new version. … Weinstein is actually being pretty soft toward editing, probably because it’s noticed how critics have praised the film and know how angry movie fans get over new edits. They even asked me which parts I want to include in the film.”

Eventually, Bong and TWC came to a creatively equitable solution, but opted for a limited release the same weekend as Transformers: Age of Extinction. A production from American studio Paramount, Transformers is currently doing well, especially in China, the world’s second-largest movie market. The Michael Bay series is a franchise tent pole with all the obvious trappings of a summer blockbuster. With Bay and a recognizable brand, audiences know exactly what to expect from Transformers, and are safe in that knowledge when buying a ticket.

Snowpiercer, in contrast, is a slippery fish to categorize. Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, primarily a Korean production, filmed at a Czech studio, written by an American, cast with British, American, and Korean actors, among them Oscar winners and superheroes, and finally, directed by Bong Joon-Ho, a Korean auteur who critics call the next Quentin Tarantino and Tarantino himself calls the next Steven Spielberg. 

A film with many motherlands, the production is genre-busting not only in its storyline, but its exception to the rule of the globalized movie industry. In fact, in the past year alone, several countries have signed film treaties to make global production easier, which may very well cut into America’s dominance. As a result of discussions between their respective presidents, South Korea and China will start making co-productions. China also recently signed similar treaties with India, the U.K., and Canada, while South Korea is looking into signing a similar deal with Japan. India, the largest film producer in the world, recently completed a film treaty with Canada, one of its leading overseas markets, in early July. Europe is also loosening its regulations to allow for more overseas financing and production, with Norway working with the Netherlands on documentaries, and Italy waiting on Russian feature pitches. Canada is also looking to work with Italy on documentary co-productions, and has a treaty with New Zealand, which signed its 15th international co-production deal with Denmark.

In post-screening discussions at BAM Cinema Fest and the Angelika theater, Bong said he’d read the graphic novel in the shop around the corner from his house in 2005. Considering the French 1980s comic had only ever been translated into Korean outside of France a sign of fate, he reached out to friend and fellow director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy and Stoker), who was creating his own production studio and agreed to secure the rights to Le Transperceneige

Bong said the movie is “mostly a Korean production … [as] working with a studio seemed scary.” When searching for a production studio spacious enough to support house multiple train car sets, he chose Barrendov Studios in Prague, along with Czech production designer Ondrej Nekvasil. And though this “mostly Korean” film would first screen to a Korean-speaking audience, Bong made a purposeful decision to employ a multi-lingual cast with a script written primarily in English.  

Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung worked with Bong previously on The Host, and play a security specialist and his daughter whom the rebels release from the prison car in their quest to take control of the train. Bong chose to cast actors beyond Korean borders for this film because he felt all the characters on the train couldn’t be Korean in a global dystopian scenario. Song and Go speak primarily to each other in Korean, but Song’s character uses a translation device to speak to the rebels in English. Unlike movies such as Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, the conceit of characters speaking different languages is merely a distinct quirk of the film, making the multicultural element a backdrop rather than a plot point.

A 2010 study by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization on the global film industry noted that all films considered worldwide successes were primarily in English. In South Korea, there were worries that the English-language Snowpiercer would deter audiences, but at $80 million, the film has one of the largest domestic box offices of all time. Snowpiercer has traversed Asia and Europe before appearing stateside, and has done well in China and France. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, who was in France at the time of the Snowpiercer premiere, lauded the film as a cultural bridge between the two countries. The movie pre-sold distribution to 167 territories back in 2012 based on Bong’s director ethos and a script and a few scenes, and received financing from the South Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. 

Snowpiercer’s success in China (earning approximately $11 million), even without romantic overtures to the nation, is particularly important because, as the Chinese domestic market grows, American films can no longer count on Chinese audiences to watch Hollywood productions. Films with special effects, especially franchise films, make concerted efforts to bring in Chinese audiences. In the case of Transformers: Age of Extinction, this includes included a reality show to cast Chinese characters, filming in Beijing, and an expensive marketing push in the country. 

Australian film critic Hayley Inch highlighted the difference between international co-productions and Hollywood movies. “The hope with co-production as a creator is that you get more interesting, unusual projects funded that have the chance to appeal to multiple viewing markets rather than just a single (nominally English-speaking) one,” she said. “The thing with a lot of these recent big blockbusters is that they are born out of Hollywood financial panic, and the desire to move further into foreign markets that are already dominated by their own domestic product.”

However, the financial panic is reading as unfavorable, as this overall practice of pandering to Chinese audiences threatens to backfire, as Chinese audiences have shown annoyance at being pandered to with films like Iron Man 3, which had specific scenes produced for China. This appeal to foreign markets may also be leading to a sacrifice in U.S. box office appeal overall

In contrast, Harvey Weinstein’s lack of cuts isn’t slowing Snowpiercer’s successful ride around the globe. Despite its limited American release of 8 theaters in its first week to Transformers’ 4,233, it’s making on par with the latter – $21,398 per screen to Transformers’ $23,633. These successes mean that as of July 2, Snowpiercer won a wider release to over 150 screens.  On July 11, Snowpiercer was released on VOD, a lucrative move that, if successful, may just change the movie distribution game by making the VOD model much more mainstream with such a big movie.


According to the director, Harvey Weinstein had wanted to cut small character moments (such as a bizarre but pitying end-note with Tilda Swinton’s  characterpolitician character in the scene where she’s being interrogated by the rebels) by a total of 20 minutes for a more straightforward action movie. Weinstein’s business sense isn’t out of place—the movie is intractably eccentric—but in contrast with Transformers, Snowpiercer has been getting favorable reviews throughout the United Statesfrom U.S. critics media. These controversial moments seem to benefit the movie, highlighting its distinctiveness in a sea of sequels. 

We might see a picking away at the American cultural hegemony of films. Instead of remakes and re-cuts of foreign films, Americans (and the rest of the world) will see new stories from around the world, unfettered by American edits. In fact, the next big thing might be the co-production between BBC Worldwide and Spain’s Atresmedia called The Refugees, another dystopian science fiction story, about refugees traveling back in time to a rural village to escape the future.

 

Gamescom doesn’t officially kick off until Wednesday, but today Activision debuted the world premier of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer.

From the official press release:

Activision and Sledgehammer Games today unveiled a new era for Call of Duty® with the world premiere of Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare multiplayer. Built for next generation gaming systems, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare fundamentally changes Call of Duty multiplayer, delivering new player movements and capabilities, along with the deepest customization and player engagement features in franchise history.

With the all-new exoskeleton, players can boost jump, dodge, dash, slide, slam and more as the action goes vertical, while using future-tech, cutting-edge capabilities and a brand-new weapon class as part of nearly 350 custom weapons. Offering a new reward system, including more than 1,000 in-game player rewards, and nearly limitless customization options that create more than 2 billion unique player combinations and more, the title offers the most in-depth, robust and advanced Call of Duty multiplayer experience ever on both next generation and current generation systems.

In addition to the multiplayer premiere, Activision today announced the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, which offers fans for the first time 24-hour early access to the game starting November 3rd. The Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition is available on all platforms to customers who pre-order the game* and pick up on day zero - at no added cost. Collector’s Edition copies of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will also be available for Day Zero early purchase and play, and will include the special Day Zero Edition content. In addition to the early access of up to 24 hours in some territories, the Day Zero Edition also includes two new, custom weapons as well as the previously announced Advanced Arsenal incentive.

With Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare we introduced the first new lead developer to the franchise in a decade and our first three-year development cycle, with one mission: bring breakthrough innovation to the franchise, while also honoring its roots. We feel Sledgehammer Games has risen to that challenge,” said Activision Publishing, Inc.’s CEOEric Hirshberg. “Advanced Warfare introduces significant new mechanics to multiplayer that truly change the game, but more importantly just speaking as a gamer it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”

Three years in the making, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare delivers a new level of tactical combat on all platforms, giving players all-new frenetic ways to move, starting with the power of the exoskeleton. The new gameplay abilities, movements, perks and mechanics expand the verticality of sightlines and maneuverability, increasing the amount of strategic options available to players, while staying true to Call of Duty’s fast, fluid multiplayer experience. Players can combine these new mechanics for offensive, defensive and overall evasive maneuvers unlike anything ever seen in Call of Duty.

Also, the much loved Pick 10 create-a-class is back with even more customizable options than before with Pick 13. Gamers can now choose their favorite scorestreaks, which are fully customizable, and include them in their preferred class, raising the bar on personalization from top to bottom. The introduction of co-operative scorestreaks also allows friends to experience Call of Duty multiplayer together in a new way, as for the first time ever, two players can now join a scorestreak and work co-operatively.

The technology of the future in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare wouldn’t be complete without advancement in weapon technology, beginning with the debut of a directed energy class of weapons. This all-new weapon class for Call of Duty uses the power of focused energy to overcome enemies and relies on tactical heat management instead of reloads. Players can test out this new class, along with all their weapons, on the new Virtual Firing Range, a brand new feature that allows players to instantly test-drive their favorite weapon loadout with the click of a button before the next match starts.

When we set out to envision the 2054 world of Call of Duty, we spent a lot of time focused on evolving the multiplayer - offering all new experiences to the fans,” said  Glen Schofield, co-founder and game director of Sledgehammer Games.

We can’t wait for players to discover all of the new movement, mechanics, equipment, and modes built into Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, as well as the depth of customization layered in for the most personalized Call of Duty multiplayer experience to date,” added  Michael Condrey, co-founder and head of development of Sledgehammer Games.

Featuring 12 modes out of the box on day one, led by fan-favorites Capture the Flag and HardpointCall of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer modes not only include classics such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Search and Destroy, but also new options for the playlist such as Uplink and Momentum, a new take on the classic War mode.

Sledgehammer Games is also taking personalization to the next level with Create-an-Operator, a new character system, which allows players to personalize their soldier however they want from heads, helmets, eyewear, shirts, vests, kits, gloves, pants, knee-guards, boots and even the exoskeleton itself. Create-an-Operator is bolstered by a brand new reward system called Supply Drops. The more someone plays, the more they earn. Supply Drops can contain anything from custom weapons to unique character gear in different classes of rarity, all giving players multiplayer bragging rights.

In addition to showing off their Supply Drops gear in-game, the new Virtual Lobby lets players display their hard-earned challenge rewards and rare items, while waiting for the map to start. Billions of possible combinations exist, allowing gamers to personalize nearly everything on their in-game operator from head to toe. Players can finally see what their friends and opponents are bringing to the match, as the Virtual Lobby is a quick and easy way to size up the competition and also plan your next move in create-an-operator.

Led by Sledgehammer Games, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is being developed for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. The title is published by Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI). Designed for next gen systems, Advanced Warfare is the first Call of Duty utilizing an expanded three-year development delivering a new experience on all platforms. The title is rated M for Mature with Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence and Strong Language.

Square Enix today announced Life is Strange, an episodic narrative adventure developed by DONTNOD Entertainment.

After a five-year absence, senior student Max Caufield returns to Arcadia Bay, Oregon, where she is reunited with her former friend Chloe. Together they hope to discover the truth about the mysterious disappearance of fellow student Rachel Amber. Early in the game, Max learns she has the power to rewind time, giving the player the ability to affect the game’s narrative and rewrite history.

“Everybody at DONTNOD is excited to be working on such a refreshing title” said Jean-Max Moris, creative director at DONTNOD Entertainment. “We’re not only crafting the best game we possibly can, we also feel we’re providing the type of experience that perfectly fits today’s renewed taste for originality and diversity”.

“When we first saw Life is Strange we immediately realised that DONTNOD have created a unique experience, something special,” said Jon Brooke, VP Brand and European Marketing Square Enix Europe. “Everyone who’s seen the game has instantly fallen in love with its distinctive style and mood”.

At a time when critics are taking developers to task for the lack of gender diversity in games, Square Enix and DONTNOD come to the table with an all-female leading cast. That’s a step in the right direction.

The world premier of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare multiplayer debuts today at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Tune in here to watch the live stream starting at 1 p.m. ET. Check back throughout the week for more updates from Gamescom.

Watch live video from xbox on www.twitch.tv