Tagged: Twisted Pixel

Twisted Pixel Goes Independent

twisted-pixel

A couple of week ago [September 30th] news broke that Microsoft first-party studio Twisted Pixel were returning to their roots as an independent developer and leaving the ownership of Microsoft.

Twisted Pixel are based in Austin, Texas and were formed in 2006, since then they have had all 6 of their games published by Microsoft across Xbox Live Arcade, Xbox One and PC starting with The Maw then moving to the Splosion Man franchise, Comic Jumper, The Gunstringer for Kinect and finally their last release in November 2013 (February 2014 on XBLA and PC) Lococycle, they were purchased in October 2011 after the release of Gunstringer.

Here is the full press release they issues to announce the split, there are a few interesting things about this that have sparked my curiosity.

“The companies formalized their relationship in 2011 when Microsoft acquired the studio in a “minimally integrated” arrangement, a feature that kept the door cracked open for the development announced today.”

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Twisted Pixel working on a “AAA game”

TwistedPixel_logo

Some pre-E3 info I’ve noticed from a relatively new employee on Linkedin is that their next game, by one person at least, is being referred to as a “AAA” game.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 23.08.51

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 23.08.57

(Via Linkedin)

This is quite interesting, especially given the studio is only at 26 people according to Linkedin and even if that number was slightly wrong I doubt they are very far north of 30-35, I also like the enthusiasm of “amazing up coming AAA title” and “some super duper cool AAA game”, at least he is positive about the project being worked on!

So what does AAA mean? Well, AAA is often a budget/scope/resources indicator I’ve always thought, how much is the publisher spending on the game? Is it a big budget game for the studio? And this is where I think I understand what is meant in context here. (more…)

Microsoft stealth announce new studios (LXP, [Fun]ction, SOTA)

I’ve done multiple pieces on this information via Linkedin and job listings and we’ve finally come full circle as Microsoft have what amounts to officially announcing the new studios, given they don’t seem to want to talk about publicly. My earlier posts:

The news comes via the Microsoft Studios blog which recently (in the last few days, I think) has had a facelift with more information. Whilst we can see on Linkedin and Microsoft Careers that these studios exist, despite that recent leak Microsoft themselves haven’t officially acknowledged the studios, it doesn’t get much more official than your own website, though.

What is strange though is that Decisive Games, the new studio mentioned by Kudo Tsunoda is not on the list. Looking at the list, they have their 4 big franchises and most important studios at the top – Halo, Gears, Minecraft and Forza, these are the ones that during the recent re-organisation are still reporting directly to Phil Spencer, the rest of them are then listed in alphabetical order. (more…)

Job listings: Rare using UE4? Various Turn10, 343i, Lionhead, PressPlay and Twisted Pixel listings too

Link reliability may vary as positions get filled.

I’ve not done one of these in a while but I have been checking around the Microsoft Studios recruitment pages and Linkedin to find a few interesting things, even if there is nothing huge around.

I think the biggest thing I found really was that Rare may using Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 in their next project(s). This is somewhat of a surprise if you factor in the (impressive, in my opinion) tech that Rare have used to make their engines since they became part of Microsoft Studios and that they made a new engine for Xbox One and Kinect Sports Rivals, however considering that engine was likely developed heavily for Kinect, unless they wanted to spend time and go back to make changes to it using Unreal Engine 4 is likely the quickest way to get their next project underway.

Microsoft are using Unreal Engine 4 in several announced projects – Fable Legends, Scalebound, Crackdown and the next Gears of War so it’s unsurprising if they were going to use an existing engine that they would pick Unreal Engine 4 given their close relationship with Epic.

Rare UE4

(Via Rare’s Contract recruitment page)

There are a number of other Rare job listings via the Microsoft recruitment website mainly engineering roles but not entirely.. Theres all the usual talk of “games as a service” which what I found most interesting was that right at the bottom of the listing under “desirable experience” was “MMO development” as well as “cross-platform development including Windows”. Theres a lot of talk about Azure features so presumably whatever they’re planning obviously is considering multiplayer but I can’t say an MMO or heavily online based title was quite what I had in mind for Rare when Phil Spencer said they can be more than Kinect Sports. Interestingly as well it seems the game is further along than we might have anticipated: “Hot off the launch of 2014’s Kinect Sports Rivals for Xbox One, Rare is already deep into the development of its next eye-opening AAA adventure.”

Rare Services Rare Services 2(Via Microsoft recruitment)

Rare job listings: Software Engineer (Services) – Software EngineerUser Experience LeadLead Services Programmer

State of the Art (SOTA)

One of the studios that appeared on the recent LXP Studios website State of the Art (SOTA) also have a single job posting on the website as well as a couple of mentions on Linkedin although interesting the Kathleen Mulcahy has now changed her description to working for [Fun]ction Studios?

State of the Art (SOTA): User Experience Visual Designer (Incubation) – Kathleen Mulcahy LinkedinScott Wade Linkedin

343 Industries

343i have been hiring recently for a game which forms a “new product line in the Halo franchise” two of the 3 images are from earlier this year but the Lead Concept Artist listing and Software Development Engineer are more recent ones. 343i working with external partners is nothing new, including themselves Halo The Master Chief Collection had 4 developers – Saber Interactive (update graphics engines on CEA/2A), Certain Affinity (multiplayer maps, integration, 2A multiplayer) and Ruffian Games (Halo 3/4 ports) but the fact that they list it specifically as the publishing side of 343i and lists work on a AAA Xbox One title under experience suggests its for the new product line. Being AAA it rules out Spartan Strike for Xbox One and my guess considering the Head of Xbox Phil Spencer is a big fan of Halo Wars suggests it could be for a sequel, or another spin-off?

343 Industries: Lead Concept Artist – Software Development Engineer

Turn10 Studios

When Forza Horizon 2 was announced on IGN First earlier this year one of the articles they did with the news blowout of the new title was an interview with Turn10 Studios Dan Greenawalt and Alan Hartman and near the bottom Dan says this about the future of Forza:

“I’m not saying I know what the next 10 years are gonna be,” he says. “But when I look at the trajectory of the last 10 years, I don’t see how it’s possible that the only thing Forza would be is Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon. It’s gonna continue to grow, just as games have continued to grow.

“I don’t have a design on where the series will grow to, but I’m very excited about it because I think for us to have a greater impact in car culture and gaming culture it has to be more than just Motorsport and Horizon.”

IGN First: Third Forza game possible

With Forza Horizon 2 out now on Xbox 360 and Xbox One I’ve looked towards the future of Forza, I’ve always had Forza Motorsport 6 pegged in for release as a holiday 2015 title because Forza Motorsport has shipped every other year since its original release in 2005 and whilst I was rummaging through the Microsoft careers website I found two job listings that might hint at future expansion in the series to go along with the Forza mobile job listing I found earlier this year (link below)

Turn10: Franchise ManagerForza Franchise Management Program ManagerForza mobile job listing

There aren’t any megatons here but as usual gives an idea of what MS might be thinking about. Rare switching to UE4 isn’t a huge surprise, their next game possibly being online multiplayer focused somewhat is a surprise, and others like Forza are just building on what we already know. I’ll update the post if I see anything else relevant.

Lionhead Studios:

We’ve known for a while now that Lionhead incubation have been tasked with making a new IP for Xbox One with an 8 man team on the job and it seems in recent months Lionhead have been looking to expand that group with some new recruits as shown by the multiple job listings, nothing particularly gives away their plans though, unfortunately.

Lionhead Studios recruitment page

Twisted Pixel:

Developers of ‘Splosion Man and more recently Xbox One launch title (later released on PC and Xbox 360) Lococycle, it seems they may have switched from their internal Beard engine to one of the more well known engines such as Unreal or Unity. This wouldnt be a huge surprise, given how popular Unreal Engine for Microsoft titles as mentioned above but I suspect they’re more likely to be using Unity (which PressPlay used for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood) if they are actually using a new engine. The job listings themselves dont give away too much more than what we known already of their new project I would hope for a 2015 reveal and possibly even release, given that they only developed Lococycle for Xbox 360 and finished it at some point between E3 2013 and the Xbox One release (which was ported by Double Helix, as well as the PC version)

Their recruitment page has been empty for a long time but has recently seen a flurry of new activities appear which suggests they might be going through a small expansion phase as they continue along with their new project

 Twisted Pixel recruitment page

PressPlay

Based in Denmark the creators of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood are an efficient widespread studio working on a number of projects. At the moment it’s believed they’re working on a new IP, another game in the Max franchise as well as Project Totem which is imminently due to be given its final name (Kalimba?) and possibly a release date.

The most notable listings are for multiplayer or co-op experience and combat systems which suggests their next title could be quite different. They are also known to be using Lift London technology of some sort so it will be interesting to see how all this fits together.

PressPlay: ProducerGameplay Programmer

Twisted Pixel’s next game concept art and speculation

For full disclosure – I didn’t find this, I’d seen the images on Gaf before and didn’t know where they had come from but a simple google search (who knew?) brought up Gearnuke which had a story on it from last November, so the pictures aren’t even new. I did however make new pictures of the concept art so I wasn’t stealing anyone elses.

Last years Xbox One launch title from Twisted Pixel was a bit of a disappointment backed up by its poor Metacritic score and from my own personal experience it was certainly unique, but not particularly in a good way, I wrote about it back in January if you want to hear more about my thoughts.

When one project finishes another one begins and we have a hint about what they might be working on, but also some hints that might suggest its further along than we might expect.

For starters, here is the concept art and photo that can be found in Lococycle:

Twisted Pixel concept art 1Twisted Pixel concept art 2Twisted Pixel mocapTwisted Pixel mocap1Very interesting and clearly neither are related to Lococycle. (more…)

February 2014 Edition

First party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5 (Xbox One)
  • Big Park – Apps (Xbox 360/Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios – Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Connected Experiences – Unknown
  • Good Science Studio – Unknown
  • Kids and Lifestyle Entertainment – 1 vs 100 style download game (Xbox One)
  • Lift London – 4 unannounced F2P games (Mobile/PC)
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Anniversary (Xbox 360)/Fable Legends and New IP (Xbox One)
  • Playful Learning – Unknown
  • Press Play – New IP (Xbox One)
  • Rare – Kinect Sports Rivals (Xbox One)
  • Soho Productions – Upload Studio (Xbox One)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP (Xbox One)
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 5 DLC (Xbox One)
  • Xbox Entertainment Los Angeles – Halo TV series/TV content
  • Xbox Live Productions – Unknown

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Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (Jan 2014 Edition)

Following on from the post I did back in November, based on new information I will be making a new list every month:

First party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5 (Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios – Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Lionhead – Fable Anniversary (Xbox 360)/Fable Legends and New IP (Xbox One)
  • Rare – Kinect Sports Rivals (Xbox One)
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 5 – Post release DLC (Xbox One)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • Press Play – New IPs (Xbox One)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP (Xbox One)
  • Lift London – 4 unannounced F2P games (Mobile/PC)
  • Xbox Entertainment Los Angeles – Halo TV series/TV content
  • Soho Productions – Upload Studio
  • Big Park – Apps for Xbox One
  • Lifestyle Entertainment – 1 vs 100 style download game
  • Playful Learning – Unknown
  • Good Science Studio – Unknown
  • Xbox Live Productions – Unknown

Second party (publishing relationships): (more…)

Xbox One downloadable game impressions

Following my retail game impressions of Xbox One, I’ve now done a roundup of the games I purchased from the Xbox Store, I’ve bought a few most of which I’ve enjoyed a lot:

Powerstar Golf (Zoe Mode/Microsoft Studios/£16.99)

The first downloadable game I purchased on Xbox One and one I’ve had a great amount of fun with. It’s a slightly over the top relaxing golf game which fills a nice gap in the Microsoft’s line-up.

The art style is cartoony and fun, it can be considered a western version of Hot Shots/Everybody’s Golf, the game has boosters and upgrades via a in-game store system. Somewhat similar to Fifa Ultimate Team mode, you win tournaments and using the prize money can buy booster packs which come with better clubs, caddy perks, stat upgrades etc which help your golfer to become better.

(more…)

Microsoft have a lot of games announced for the Xbox One launch, I personally think its a surprisingly varied and decent line-up, there are some games I’m not sure about (Crimson Dragon and Lococycle) but I have high hopes for all of them. Here is the list with some gameplay videos:

Ryse: Son of Rome (Crytek/Microsoft Studios)

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