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Archive for May, 2009

12
May

Robot releases Halo Wars title update 2.0

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The second Halo Wars title update has been released by Robot Entertainment. You can find the patch notes as follows. Some pretty positive changes I think for all players. Fans can discuss the update on the official forum thread.

General

  • Flaming Warthog and Honor Guard Wraith skins now available in multiplayer to players who have those skulls.
  • The option to show Unit Hit Point bars above units is now available.

Balance

  • The number of points to reach all ranks has been reduced. General now requires 2.4 million, down from 3.2 million, and other ranks have been reduced accordingly.
  • The max number of points you can get in a single match has been capped.
  • The Prophet of Regret’s land speed is now reduced to match other leaders.
  • Vampire Tech Upgrades now increase damage done by 15% in addition to their other effects.
  • Anders Cryo Bomb Upgrades now cost 50% more supplies.
  • Anders Hawk Upgrade now costs 50% more supplies.

Bug Fixes

  • Multiplayer Matchmaking and Connection improvements have been put in. Players should find that their 2v2 and 3v3 teams no longer split up.
  • ‘Ready for the Sequel’ Achievement should now be rewarded properly.
  • Units on Exile and Crevice should find it easier to traverse the map.
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11
May

Robot Entertainment website goes live!

 

New Robot Website

Robot Entertainment has (finally) launched its website! The studio is responsible for Age of Empires and Halo Wars support along with developing thier own new game. Robot is headed up by Ex Ensemble Studios CEO Tony Goodman. 

The website has a news section and a detailed studio information section. Similar to the independent days of Ensemble Studios the website lists all staff members and thier role along with a pretty humours description of each! The brand is actually quite a wild change from the brand of Ensemble, Robot is young and youthful, despite having the talent of Ensemble Veterans.

Be sure to check out some pictures of the studio, the office looks very funky just take a look at some of these:

Robot_office1

Its a meeting, not dinnerrobot_office_2

Some funky chairsrobot_office_3

Thats a rather fancy desk! What are you working on? A new game? :ORobot_office_5

Mr Pottinger demoing the new conference room features. Is that Jerome on an iPhone?! What is with the Ensemble vets and iPhones?!?

Want to work here? I can understand why you would, but you cant as Robot isnt hiring at the moment.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Robot Entertainment website here: http://www.robotentertainment.com/

A list of Robot employees (bots) can be found on the website but also on the new “Robot Entertainment” page on this blog.

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9
May

Play Age of Empires 2 and Age of Mythology via Gametap

age2

A new agreement online games download company “Gametap” has signed a new deal with Microsoft Game Studios to offer classics such as Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires 2 and Age of Mythology. The GameTap model allows users to pay $10 a month to access a library of classic games. You can find out more details on the website.

If you havnt played Age2 or Mythology then what are you waiting for? Head on over to GameTap!

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9
May

“World War Robot” the next iPhone game to come from NewToy

World War Robot

NewToy formed by ex Ensemble programmers David and Paul Bettner who left Ensemble before its closure have announced thier second iPhone game “World War Robot”. The official press release from NewToy follows:

WORLD-RENOWNED CREATORS JOIN FORCES FOR NEW IPHONE GAME


May 5th, 2009 – McKinney, Texas – Newtoy, an independent video game developer, is pleased to announce it is collaborating with acclaimed artist and creator Ashley Wood, renowned for his work on the graphic novels Popbot and Zombies vs. Robots and credited with creating one of the world’s first digital comics for the Sony PSP – Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel. Newtoy is partnering with Wood to bring his WORLD WAR ROBOT universe to life in a new game designed exclusively for the iPhone and iPod Touch.


In World War Robot, the human race is split by religion and politics as they wage a savage war between Earth and Mars. Giant robots augment the destruction with incredible battles, intense human/robot drama, a little black humor and some political intrigue thrown into the mix in this epic story.


“We share a dream for a new kind of game development,” said Paul Bettner, creative director at Newtoy. “World class game makers from around the globe – artists and illustrators, designers, musicians, coders – joining forces to craft the highest quality entertainment experiences on the most cutting edge game platforms. We are moving away from the monolithic studio model of development. We want to redefine the way video games are made. This collaboration with Ashley is that dream, realized.”


Of the partnership, Wood says, “I’m excited to team up with game creators who I have admired and, more importantly, whose games I have enjoyed playing over the years!”


About Ashley Wood

Ashley Wood is an internationally acclaimed artist and creator. He lives with his wife, three children and cat in Australia. Ashley has been making up pictures and ideas for a long time and has worked with major publishing and entertainment companies, including Dreamworks, Warner Bros, Sony, Konami, Vivendi International, Random House, Marvel Comics and Todd McFarlane Productions. Ashley’s work has appeared in books, movies, magazines, comics, television and video games.  Ashley is a three-time Spectrum Award winner and a two-time Communication Arts award winner and the co owner of 3A Toys. His personal website is: http://ashleybambaland.blogspot.com.


About Newtoy

Founded in 2008, Newtoy is the realization of two brothers, Paul and David Bettner, creators of the internationally best-selling Age of Empires series and most recently the highly anticipated Halo Wars strategy game for the Xbox 360. Paul and David bring nearly two decades of industry experience to Newtoy, with over twenty million units sold and multiple “Game of the Year” awards. Together, they share a vision for creating revolutionary games for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Newtoy’s website is: http://newtoyinc.com.

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8
May

FuzzyCube preview iQuaterback 2.0 with preview screenshots

quaterback

Ex Ensemble Studios devs FuzzyCube have posted some more screenshots of thier upcoming version 2.0 of popular iPhone game “iQuaterback”. “Drjest” posts on the  touch arcade forums and you can find the post contents below:

 

Here are some fresh new screenshots for iQuarterback 2.0. We are putting the final touches on the 2nd and 3rd game modes right now.iquaterback2_1

iquaterback2_2  
iquaterback_2_3 iquaterback2_4 iquaterback_2_5

iquaterback_2_6 iquaterback_2_7

 We’ve added Achievements, over 50 at the moment and growing. A new game mode pictured below, called Shoot Out. Shoot Out has many targets racing across the field where you need to make snap decisions in order to score the highest points. A 3rd game mode is in the works and will make it into 2.0. Look for more screenshots and video of 2.0 at the end of May which will include the 3rd game mode! We are also continuing to improve the graphics and have added many more Leaderboards. The new Leaderboards show the Top 30 and allow you to flick scroll through each list.

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5
May

“Board” to Death: A Day in the Life of a Concept Artist

es_logo_mainsite 

Whats was it like to be a conecpt artist at Ensemble Studios? Aloysius today published a new article on the HaloWars.com website detailing the expierence of Bart Tiongson. The concept art team at Ensemble were responsible for some fantastic pieces of art much like this one below:  (click to enlarge)

halo wars conecept art

You might think that in order to produce such fantastic art the team at Ensemble would be under alot of stress but ho ho ho.. you might be mistaken! Ensemble Studios was well known for being a great place to work. But having too much fun means not so much work… so how did the team deal with work vs play? Well.. about 50/50 actually – sounds like a good ratio!

You can find out more by reading the insigtful blog post below:

“Board” to Death: A Day in the Life of a Concept Artist

Published Tuesday, April 28, 2009 3:02 PM by Aloysius 
When I was first approached to write something for the website from a Concept Artist’s viewpoint, I thought that I would just do a generic, “day in the life of an artist”, type of write-up that we’ve all seen before. I thought about it. I figured I could sum up in a few simple sentences how concept art gets created and eventually put into the game. I could write about how we receive a written description of a unit, building or environment; how we create rough drawings of what we think a unit might look like; and then when one “thumbnail” is approved, we polish it so that the 3D modelers can build it, animators can give it life and then that unit can get put into the game.

In a nutshell, that is what a concept artist does. Quick, clean and summarized in a tidy little paragraph with enough time to spare to go watch the NBA playoffs.

Then I thought about it again. And I realized that it wasn’t that simple; at least not on Halo Wars and definitely not at Ensemble Studios.

You see, in order to create artwork at the highest level, you not only need a team that is talented, dedicated and stays on schedule, but you also need a team that meshes with each another. For that team to be successful in what they do, they need to have chemistry. So instead of writing about our daily tasks and attaching images of artwork, I decided to talk about what the team did that wasn’t on the task list and include photos that illustrated the “chemistry” that we had.

Throughout the studio there are white boards that are used for a variety of things like jotting down tasks and ideas, descriptions of units and keeping track of deadlines. The artists, on the other hand, had a different use for them. The concept guys would draw caricatures and create “inside joke” drawings on a daily basis. I would walk in the office and at the end of each day there would be new and often inspiring drawings on the white boards. While these boards’ original purpose was to have drawings, diagrams and written statements to help keep the team on track, the random imagery, humorous and often non-work-related material, probably kept the team more focused than unit descriptions or schedule dates and deadlines. It wasn’t long before other artists joined in on the fun as well. It wasn’t unusual to poke fun at each other, or crack a joke at someone’s expense. The ratio of laughing and having fun to drawing was probably an even 50/50. I absolutely felt that this dynamic was essential to create the top notch artwork that was done on the project. There were a lot of late nights and long hours, and without a sense of humor the team probably would have driven each other insane.

I’ve always felt that if you enjoy what you are doing and who you are doing it with, success will ultimately follow. Take a look at the art-work in Halo Wars and I think that you’ll agree that we were successful in what we set out to do: create a beautiful looking game. Laughing the whole time.

During my short time leading the concept guys on Halo Wars, I realized something- I did a heck of a lot more learning than I did teaching. Thanks to the Halo Wars concept team.
-b

Below are some examples of the crazy pix that these guys did… I’ve “edited” a few of them. :P

conceptart_fun1 
conceptart_fun2 
conceptart_fun3 
conceptart_fun4
conceptart_fun5 
conceptart_fun6

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5
May

Stephen Rippy released new music samples

srippy

UPDATED: You can download music samples and purchase the CD by going to the official Stephen Rippy website. – Enjoy!

Stephen Rippy has released preview tracks on his official MySpace page of both new and old music from Age of Empires. Stephen is looking for feedback so feel free to comment on his MySpace what you think!

Stephen has also updated his official website and notes that he is now part of Bonfire Studios. The official MySpace blurb from Stephen follows:

“I’ve got a new “songs” CD out today: “Somewhere Close to Near.” You can hear a couple of tracks from it here on my MySpace page.www.stephenrippy.com – it’s been completely re-designed and features information on all of my game soundtracks as well as my more pop/rock-related records.

Please also check out

Hope you like what you hear!
-Stephen”

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