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8
May

Lay-offs at Robot Entertainment

We have some sad news about some staff changes taking place at Robot Entertainment following the release of Orcs Must Die! Unchained. Speaking on the ‘Orcs After Dark’ twitch stream this week, Community Manager, Laura “Harmonia“ Barrett commented that several staff are sadly leaving the studio following lay-offs that are taking place. Readers may be aware that in the gaming industry lay-offs sometimes happen after games are released.

Typically as games are being finalised there is a big push and need for resources to get a game out the door and then when a game does go live a studio may find itself with a larger workforce and needing to distribute those resources onto other projects which may be in early stages. Kotaku has an informative article on this topic. It is unfortunate that Robot Entertainment finds itself in a similar position of a scenario that is all too common in the gaming industry, the post-ship downsize. Robot is a smaller independent studio and no doubt managing striking these balances is incredibly difficult.

Speaking to REF, the studio commented:

Over the recent years, we have staffed Robot Entertainment to focus almost exclusively on Orcs Must Die! Unchained. After a tremendous effort from the entire studio, last month we launched the PC version. We are incredibly proud of it and are really excited about our plans to support the game, along with the upcoming PlayStation4 version, with new content and improvements. However, our studio demands are different now than they were during the core development of the game, and today we made the difficult decision to let go of 16 full-time employees and six contractors in order to better fit our current direction. These employees are our friends and we are doing all that we can to support them in their future endeavors.

 

SixOkay is among those leaving

It is with sadness that REF can report that one staff member affected includes Justin Korthof, Marketing Manager – aka SixOkay. Justin who has worked for the studio for around seven years following the announcement of Age of Empires Online, has spent the majority of his time at the studio as Community Manager and has been the main bot talking and engaging with the community and fans directly throughout those years. Justin’s hard work and dedication during that time has fostered a great relationship between the studio and its fans. Fans will miss him greatly on the forums and on Twitch streams. We have no doubt though that his legendary reputation and legacy will take him to big places in the future and we will keep an eye on where the future takes him.

Laura “Harmonia” Barrett will continue to support the community moving forwards as Community Manager. Robot will continue to engage with the community and its fans. Twitch streams such as Insider Access and Orcs After Dark will continue.

K2D2 is also departing

Other staff members include Kirst Kahler, aka K2D2, Associate Producer (localization) who previously worked on all the OMDU lore was a popular face on the twitch streams and Mitchell Waudbaurer, aka MitchellW, customer service is also departing. Mitchell was often found around the forums helping players with technical issues. Winter will continue to provide support for players. All staff affected will be sorely missed.

The studio moves forward with the continued development of OMDU and Hero Academy 2. Expect to see news on both these soon. This week is another episode of Insider Access with Shade that will cover the patch notes for the upcoming update. Be there!

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19
Apr

Orcs Must Die! Unchained has launched!

Orcs Must Die! Unchained has now officially launched and is available free to play from www.orcsmustdie.com and Steam. It has been a long road to release and the game has undergone alot of changes since it first became available on the beta programmes. Player feedback during the beta has been the heart of the design decisions made in todays release of Orcs Must Die! Unchained. The game is takes forward that classic formula from OMD1 and 2 and expands on it with new maps, minions, heroes and abilities. Plus introduces for the first time the new head to head mode “Sabotage“.

OMDU is free to play, if you have not already head on over to Steam or the OMD website to download and play! Be sure to leave your feedback on the game and the new Sabotage mode in the comments or forums!

Trailer

There is also a brand new launch trailer to check out below. The Orcs are back!

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20
Mar

Hero Academy 2 in development with BonusXP

Hero Academy fans rejoice! The turn based tactics game which proved very popular when it launched in early 2012 is set to get its sequel! The original marked Robot Entertainment’s first mobile game and was not only a hit with players but proved critically successful too, winning the “Best Mobile Game” at the DICE 2013 awards. It will soon be time to return to the Academy with Hero Academy 2 which is being developed by BonusXP.

What’s New

Hero Academy was a great formula and its looking like Hero Academy 2 will retain the core gameplay but will be taking it to the next level. The most notable change is that Hero Academy 2 will be using real-time matches. This means there will be no more long waits for players to make their moves. Instead players will be making moves there and then, this should greatly speed up the pace of games.

It also appears there is a new card collecting mechanic with players choosing the cards to bring into battle. This should mean more diverse matches with wider ranges of strategies. Mechanic improvements like this should really take the game to the next level of additional depth. The visuals have been given an overhaul too. According to the official website:

Hero Academy 2 builds on the original’s amazing tactical gameplay. We’ve added exciting new characters to the familiar fan favorites, all done in full-3d environments. Matches are real-time now. You can also customize your teams by collecting cards and building your own decks.

The game will be coming to both iOS and Android and will be launching some time in 2017. Get excited with the brand new teaser trailer below!

Trailer

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20
Mar

Orcs Must Die! EU service transitioning to Robot Entertainment

Some important news for Orcs Must Die! Unchained players in the EU. It has been announced today that from March 14th Gameforge will be transitioning Orcs Must Die EU services to Robot Entertainment. This means that on that date it will no longer be possible to play Orcs Must Die! Unchained on the EU client.

Never fear, however, EU players will be back up and running from the 21st March on a new unified account with Orcs Must Die NA players, managed by Robot Entertainment. All players currently on the EU client will have the option to migrate from their Gameforge account to a new Robot Entertainment account from March 21st.

Gameforge Producer, Andy Duthie comments:

This has been a very difficult decision for us to make but we believe this is the best for the future of the game. Robot Entertainment have proved to be excellent partners in getting to this stage and with the game now coming into fruition it is best for them to continue shaping it moving forwards.

 

What does this mean?

For the community this means that the EU and NA player base will now be combined, growing a new single, unified community between these new regions. This not only includes the in-game player base but also community forums and such like. You’ll now be able to add friends in-game for all players between these regions. The new blog on the Orcs Must Die website indicates:

We are still working out the specifics, but we fully intend to maintain EU and NA communities on the Orcs Must Die! website. Our goal is to foster one big, happy OMDU community as much as we can while still making sure we pay specific attention to regional communities.

There will still be actual servers in the EU region, so there should not be an impact on network performance.

Transferring your account purchases, account level etc

The migration tool that launches on March 21st will guide players through the process of transitioning to a new Robot account. All in-game purchases, gold and account level will be transferred to your new account. Gold will be converted at the correct Robot Entertainment rate. Players will not be losing out on anything via this conversion in terms of purchases and game progress.

However, unfortunately friends list and other social features cannot be transferred to your new Robot account. Additionally, if your username is already taken on the Robot account system, you will have to create a new one.

Week long maintenance also brings new patch

There will be one week long maintenance from when the EU servers close on the 14th until migration opens on the 21st March. This maintenance will enable Robot Entertainment and Gameforge to prepare for the upcoming account migrations. There is more good news to this maintenance, it will also see a new patch release for the game too. Mark the 21st in your calendar as a day to watch for new OMDU content and unified player-base!


It’s been a good ride on the OMDU EU servers. We have much enjoyed the excellent streams from FaTeReLLa before her departure late last year. The community forums have been full of useful discussion from Siege through to Survival. Good times await the unified playerbase and community. Thank-you Gameforge for supporting the EU players for the last three years.

To read more about this announcement be sure to check the new blog by Robot’s VP of Production, Chris Rippy on the link below:

https://na.orcsmustdie.com/#!/en/blog/robot-global-publishing

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28
Nov

Its RaceTime!

PeopleFun have released their latest mobile game on Android and Facebook (with iOS to follow).This time, its Racetime! This racing game goes by the motto “Simple to play but challenging to master” and indeed it lives up to that. The premise of the game is sort of like a flashback to the 90′s when things like Scalextric were all the rage, those electric race car sets. Racetime is just like that, there is only one control – acceleration. Players must race around the track trying to get the best time without leaving the track boundary and slowing down in the dirt.

The game is delightfully fun and addictive. The races are short and you always feel the need to “just try one more time” to beat your time by those few more seconds. There are leaderboards, both global and friends. You can also play against other players ghosts, including your friends. There are some pro tips you can pick up from faster players ghosts. Studying how they use their acceleration strategically to move between lanes.

Each day there is a brand new level to play.

The game is great fun and its free to play. There are plenty of vehicles to collect too which can be purchased via coins you collect on the track and as you rank up. There are achievements on the Google Play edition too. Hop on over to the Google Play store to play now or head over to the game on Facebook. Good luck on the track!

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13
Jun

Halo Wars definitive edition announced along with Halo Wars 2 release date

At Microsoft’s XBOX E3 event today there was some big news for Halo Wars fans. The previously announced Halo Wars 2 title, a follow up to Ensemble’s Halo Wars by 343 Industries and Creative Assembly will be landing in February 2017 and has two sweet, sweet new trailers. The Spirit of Fire is returning along with Captain Cutter and his crew. Blur Studio is also back on hand delivering the visuals. There is also an open beta which can be played right now! Not only that, but Ensemble Studios’ Halo Wars is also being re-mastered for Xbox One and Windows 10!

Trailers

There are two brand new trailers for Halo Wars 2, the first is an excellent CGI trailer and the second trailer shows more gameplay scenes. Both of these trailers look excellent and it seems that Creative Assembly are keeping the quality bar very high in testament to the great work on Ensemble’s legacy with Halo Wars. Check out these awesome new trailers:

CGI Trailer

Game trailer

Judging by the videos above it looks like Halo Wars is in safe hands, taking on where Ensemble left off. Its great to see Halo Wars in this generation. 343 Industries writes:

A New Kind of Strategy: Halo Wars redefined the real-time strategy (RTS) genre on consoles and Halo Wars 2 is set to take that evolution even further with a hybrid of action-oriented and classic tactical gameplay modes. Veteran developer Creative Assembly (Total War: Rome II, Total War: Shogun 2) brings decades of RTS experience to the Halo universe and delivers a game which will be action-packed fun for players new to strategy games and deeply challenging and rewarding for RTS experts.

The game will feature the classic multiplayer from Halo Wars, including new modes such as Strongholds where players race to capture the most bases in a certain time and a new mode called “Blitz” which promises “An all-new multiplayer mode that is an exciting addition to the Halo Wars series with a unique approach to RTS gameplay.” Sounds intriguing.

Open Beta playable now

As just announced at E3, a multiplayer beta of Halo Wars 2 is live now on Xbox One. Players can download the game now and take a look at how it is shaping up with this free multiplayer open beta which runs up until June 20th. Download it now. An open beta for Windows 10 is expected later down the line.

Halo Wars Definitive Edition announced

In amongst the Halo Wars 2 news, its has also been revealed that Ensemble’s original Halo Wars, which redefined console RTS, will be getting a re-release on Xbox One and Windows 10 with a remastered edition, featuring improved graphics. Recognising the greatness of the first Halo Wars its absolutely fantastic to see that the title is making a refreshed appearance for more gamers to enjoy and keep enjoying for many more years to come. It is a little odd though to hear that it is coming to Windows 10. There is no information if it will be gamepad only or if keyboard support is planned. Noting that Ensemble’s original vision was for it to work with gamepads and fitted the Xbox controller perfectly. It will be interesting to learn more about how this will be working.

Halo Wars is also the third Ensemble Studios game to be re-mastered in recent years, following Age of Empires 2 and Age of Mythology re-releases on Steam. You just can’t put a good Ensemble game down.

Its a great time to be a Halo Wars fan and to see the series continue, both with Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2 paying homage to its Ensemble legacy. Stand by for more news!

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23
Mar

Orcs Must Die! Unchained heads to Open Beta on March 29th!

Following a successful closed beta stress test last weekend, Robot Entertainment have today announced that Orcs Must Die! Unchained is entering its next release phase - Open Beta on March 29th. This is great news and means that anyone who wants to check out OMDU will be able to do so by registering and downloading the game on the website (OrcsMustDie.com), or via Steam.

There will be one more wipe as Open Beta arrives with all players having their accounts reset. However, this wipe is planned to be the last wipe with player progress from this point being maintained through to release. Any purchases or rewards earned by coin or code redemption will also be returned and available on open beta.

As part of the work that needs to take place to deliver the open beta for March 29th - the servers will NOT be available to play this weekend. Robot will be busy preparing for open beta to land on March 29th, next Tuesday! This also means that there will be no ‘Orcs After Dark’ stream or ‘Meet your Match’ with Nananea this week.

See you all in open beta!

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27
Feb

PeopleFun releases ‘Spell Blitz’ on Android, iOS and Facebook

Hot on the heels of PeopleFun’s last mobile game release in January, the excellent Adventure Smash. The studio is hot on the heels with their new game ‘Spell Blitz’ available from now on Android, iOS and Facebook. Spell Blitz lives up well to its name, its a word game where players are presented with a board and 90 seconds to try and spell out as many words from the letters on the screen in time. There are leader boards and higher points can be scored with longer words, special letters and bonuses for fast spelling!

The game is sort of like a mash up of titles like Bejewelled Blitz and Bookworm by PopCap Games. It’s a winning formula and PeopleFun have been able to craft this formula into an addictive game which is great fun to pick up and play and compete with friends. Alongside the core gameplay there are of course leaderboards, these reset weekly and there are both friends and global leaderboards. There is a connection to Facebook on all platforms for cross-platform play and friend sharing. Players can also stumble across ‘spells’ whilst playing to add to the excitement, such as “Lightning” which starts players off with the fast spelling bonus.

Before a game starts players can also choose upto three ‘charms’ from a set of seven. These charms are added bonuses such as starting the game with free multiplier letters or a bomb to clear the board and get a fresh set of letters. Players will like to experiment to find their best combination on charms that suit them.

Trailer

PeopleFun have a trailer of the game so that you can get a feel for it. Check out the trailer below.

Be sure to check out the game on your favourite platform using the links you can find on the official PeopleFun website:

http://www.peoplefun.com/spell-blitz

Prepare to get addicted – again!

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17
Jan

PeopleFun releases “Adventure Smash” on Android, iOS and the web

PeopleFun have recently released their third mobile game for Android and iOS. Meet ‘Adventure Smash’ the extremely addictive Match 3 game with lots of personality. The game is sure to be a hit and is already attracting many 5 star rating on the App and Play Store. Unlike your normal Match 3 game, Adventure Smash offers numerous objectives and challenges for each level. The variation of challenges and tasks is good and keeps the game fresh as players progress. When the game starts players pick between one of two adventurers (boy or girl) and then the fun begins as their character enters various worlds through paintings on the wall found in the attic. The motto of the game is ‘Easy and fun to play, but challenging to master’, a motto that sums up Adventure Smash very well.

Adventure Smash is like your typical Match 3 game, but with a whole lot more. Levels are varied, with differing objectives and also a number of abilities available. Each power up has a good deal of strategic depth of when to use it, tasking players to weigh up making move X or move Y. To give you an idea about how it works you can check out the trailer below.

 Trailer

With various worlds there are 145 levels in total to play so far.

PeopleFun have worked hard on this title to get that fine balance between a fun and challenging game, and not over loading it with numerous micro transactions. Sure, they are there, players can purchase utility items like ‘Flash Bang Brew’ which helps stun bosses, or the ‘Token Twister’ which shuffles the pieces on the board. The items are useful and can be earned through various means – the daily free spin, tournaments or micro-transactions. The game itself has an appealing art style with vivid colours and excellent boss designs.

Facing off against Blurg the boss of the space planet level

Each level has a three star system where players can not only try to complete the level for one star but also to get the second and third stars which require more points. Completing levels faster with better scoring matches enable players to get the extra stars. There are of course leaderboards both overall for each world and on a per level basis so that players can compete with friends. There is Facebook integration which also allows for cross-platform play between devices.

Friendly competition between friends with per level leaderboards.

In addition to the main game there are also weekly tournaments that take place, these tournaments involve playing several games and players can win prizes for high scoring levels. There is also a global leader board and top players overall can win bigger prizes. The tournaments offering regular differing challenges to keep players engaged even after the main story content is completed.

Work your way up the score board to win item prizes.

Overall Adventure Smash is a great game, its highly addictive much like Word Chums. Once you start, you won’t want to stop! The game is available on Android, iOS and also on the web via Facebook. With multi-platform play you can dive into Adventure Smash at anytime to get your fix of Match 3 fun with a spice of adventure. Be sure to check it out on the links below. I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty more Adventure Smash content!

app-store-apple.png
Play Adventure Smash on Facebook!
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20
Dec

The Incorruptibles: Ups and Downs

The second commercial for The Incorruptibles is now live. Its good to see BonusXP have their priorities right!

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