TL; DW Nintendo Direct 8.18.2018: The Smash

Didn’t watch the direct at 7am like most people?! Don’t worry, I have it covered in this TL; DW for the Nintendo Direct. The game shown was Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and it showcased many new characters and info about the game. The animation was stellar in the direct.

New Characters!

  • Simon Belmont from the Castlevania series joins the list of fighters. His moveset is reminiscent of his NES/SNES whips, items, and attacks.
  • Echo fighter for Simon: Richter. The voice, animation, and a few moves are different.
  • King K. Rool joins the fray from the Donkey Kong series. Another big fan request! This fatty comes with his classic rifle, huge stomach strike, and castle!
  • Alucard is an assist trophy.
  • The Castlevania stage featuring the monsters, bosses, and Dracula is Dracula’s Castle. If you hit the candles, it will release items! No wall chickens yet but Dracula only appears at specific times…
  • Chrom from Fire Emblems Awakening and Dark Samus from Metroid Prime join as Echo Fighters!
  • You can have echo fighters on the fighter select option

New Stages:

  • New Donk City Hall from Mario Odyssey. Platforms are rising and falling as you move around the stage. The musicians and Daisy appear as well. The theme of Odyssey will also appear
  • Returning stages from Melee will include some rebalance changes.
  • N64 stages are meant to be classic and nostalgic for players
  • There are now 103 stages to choose from. Every stage has an Omega and Battlefield form.
  • Every stage now has 8-player mode!
  • You can turn stage hazards off
  • A new option called Stage Morph! You can have a stage change midmatch and alter the time when it occurs. Just select two stages before the fight.

    Not just Final Destination

Music:

  • Stages now have tracks based on the franchise. You will be able to hear different tracks and can change the frequency of how often it plays!
  • 900 tracks! It is separated by franchises. You can make a playlist
  • You can listen to it with the screen turned off. Not sure anybody will be casually carrying their Switch to listen to music.
  • Turn up the jam!

New Battle Options and Rules

  • You can finally start with stock instead of time.
  • Whatever option you left it at before is saved.
  • Stamina battle is now a standard option
  • Stages are selected before fighters. This gives you the option to choose your character based on the stage if you play competitively.
  • You can make the option to have the loser choose the stage.
  • Sudden Death will cause the screen to zoom in to add drama and shorten the KO borders!
  • Final Smash Meter rather than a Smash Ball. It will charge as you fight but it will be weaker than a Final Smash Ball version
  • Final Smashes can’t occur at the same time! So no Samus vs Dark Samus Final Smash beam clash
  • The options are meant for competitive play so it’ll be interesting to see how the Smash community changes with these new options!

Battle Modes

  • Squad Strike: 5v5 or 3v3
  • Start team fights online with players choosing multiple characters. You can do it solo or with multiple players
  • Tourney Mode: Start your own tournament and brackets! IT can go up to 32 players.
  • Smashdown: After each round, those fighters are unselectable and you’ll have to choose different characters. It continues until there are no more characters left
  • Training Mode Map: It will show you how the characters fight and how they will react based on hits
  • Classic: Fight through a set number of characters and stages similar to Melee’s adventure mode
Solve for X

Items:

  • Banana gun: Shoots one strong bullet before becoming a banana peel
  • Killing Edge: Sword which will glow to grow stronger
  • Bomber: Lift it up and it’ll explode and damage enemies around you
  • Death’s Scythe: It kills you…if you’re badly damaged
  • Staff: shoots a laser but it deals more damage the further the enemy is from you
  • Ramblin’ Evil Mushroom: Reverses opponents’ controls
  • Rage Blaster: The higher your damage, the stronger it is. For players who take hits a lot

Pokemon:

What a view!
  • Executor Alolan Form. It’s so tall you can wall jump on its neck!
  • Abra: Teleports your enemies over the edges
  • Solgaleo: The legendary Pokemon charges up and smashes into your enemies for huge damage!
  • Lunala: The legendary Pokemon shoots a huge laser from afar that deals major damage
  • Mimikyu: Grabs the enemy and gives it a big hug underneath its disguise.
  • Pyukumuku: Damage it and get hit with a huge fist!
  • Vulpix and Vulpix Alolan: Shoots a fireball which hits multiple times. Alolan form freezes you.
  • Marshadow: The mystic pokemon makes you dizzy and punches you
  • Ditto: transforms into you and attacks enemies

Assist Trophies:

X, you sure are small
  • Zero from Megaman X series slash, dashes, and teleports!
  • Knuckles from Sonic digs and punches your enemies
  • Krystal from Starfox hits you with her magic staff
  • Klaptrap from DK bites you. Not to be confused with the Borderlands character
  • Kapp’n from Animal Crossing kidnaps you off the stage and drives away to kill you
  • Chef Kawasaki from Kirby throws you in a pot and cooks you and makes food items appear.
  • GREY FOX from Metal Gear Solid reflects projectiles and slashes enemies
  • Nikki draws stuff to hurt your enemies
  • Shovel Knight shovels your enemies
  • Moon from The Legend of Zelda smashes into the stage and damages everybody
  • Rathalos from Monster Hunter appears as a boss and an assist trophy!

Sea of Thieves’ Player Pool Expands

Sea of Thieves release this March and was criticized for the lack of content. It found a niche with players and content creators who took advantage of the cooperative gameplay and quick gameplay. According to Xbox News, Sea of Thieves racked up 300M views on YouTube and more than 40M live broadcast hours on Twitch. With weekly challenges and a consistent stream of free content, Sea of Thieves continued to grow and now has 5 million “pirates” spanned across Xbox and PC platform.

Upcoming Content kept the game afloat

The early criticism was justified on Sea of Thieves. Considering the game was released for full price, players skeptical of the luster of the game. Microsoft and Rare announced released six free DLC at E3 which kept players invested in the long run. The Hungering Deep was released earlier this year and added more dangers to the sea. Cursed Sails releases today, July 31st, and will add time-limited content to bring players back. It will also have Skelton Ships, ghost bullets, and alliances to shake up the world.

Players raise their own stakes

The biggest gameplay influence is actual players. Forming crews, exploring islands, collecting treasure, attacking other player ships, and open negotiations are unique game features that players control. There is no set meta or a “proper” way to play Sea of Thieves which gives players the freedom to play however they like. Gameplay is fairly simple and it is easy for new players to jump in.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t think Sea of Thieves was going to do well but I am glad to see the game become a success for Microsoft and Rare. Many old fans of Rare worried that the company had died under Microsoft‘s acquirement. Rare’s most recent success was their Rare Replay which is a just collection of their past games. Hopefully, Sea of Thieves brings new energy to the studio. I hope to sea future impressive changes to the game.

Sources:

Xbox News

Polygon

Codemasters Defends huge layoffs and the Cons for Video Game Developers

Codemasters is a video game company with a focus on racing games. They are well-known for their racing games series such as Dirt, F1, and GridThey have been in the industry since 1986. Despite their longevity, not all of their games have been successful. Earlier this year, they released OnRush, a unique racer with a focus on destroying other cars during a race. The game sold extremely poorly and barely sold 1,000 units in Europe according to Eurogamer.

Whether in response or to make back the money from the development of OnRush, Codemasters laid off many senior staff members and lead designers -including Driveclub and OnRush director Paul “Rushy” Rustchynsky. Junior members were also let go. Some employees had to re-interview for a position at the company.  Employees felt the lay-off was sudden as most expected to support upcoming Codemasters titles and help develop less ambitious games.

Image result for onrush game

In response to the Layoffs

While it is common for Video Game companies to have large layoffs after a game has finished, releasing the senior staff will make it difficult for making future games. Despite this, Codemasters defends the layoffs by stating “It is normal course of business for game teams to evolve as projects launch and move into service, and as other new projects start.” The spokesperson is partially correct. To keep the cost of development down, many companies hire developers as contractors.

Image result for video game development

Difficulties of the Industry

According to TargetCW, a recruiting company, ten to fifteen percent of developers are contractors for big games. Since contractors don’t receive employee benefits, companies save 30% in cost. It is rare for contractors to ever be converted to full-time employees. Often, contractors stay on for a year or more in hopes of conversion. Many young developers will be contractors for many years. The gaming industry is idealized. As huge game budgets increase, more companies found alternative methods to save on cost. Perhaps what Codemasters said is partially correct that is common to lay off contractors and employees after a game development, it doesn’t mean it’s okay. With this news breaking, hopefully, more unions or changes to protect employees in the gaming industry.

Eurogamer – Original Interview with Former Employees

Polygon – Difficulties of Contract work

Gamersrevolutions

 

 

Guerrilla Games, developers of Horizon: Zero Dawn, grows

Horizon: Zero Dawn was one of the best selling games last year. It proved new intellectual properties and new games can be just as successful as a big sequel. The game sold almost 5 million units and was nominated for many Game of the Year awards. Thanks to its success, Guerrilla Games have grown! They are jumping for 250 employees to 400 and are taking more space in the office they currently reside in.

The goals of CEO Hermen Hulst are to release big games in a shorter time. Horizon took over six years to develop. Their idea is to “release games in two or three years, both new titles and games based on existing titles.” Although they have not announced their future games, they have also worked on the Killzone series. I look forward to more games from Guerrilla that will make people go ape.

Sources:

Eurogamer

Horizon Zero Dawn Sales