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Designing the Xbox One – hardware trivia from Microsoft

August 30, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Director of hardware development Carl Ledbetter talks grills, sweat and Kinect.

The Xbox One looks simple on the surface, but every aspect of the console’s design has been carefully considered. Besides a games machine that doubles as a media box, it’s also now the physical emblem for a brand that extends across desktops, phones, tablets and web services. Director of development Carl Ledbetter had the unenviable task of rendering the console’s feature slate appreciable at a glance, while creating a look and feel for the brand that transcends the Xbox itself.

Click here to read the full article …read more

Designing the Xbox One – eight hardware trivia titbits from Microsoft

August 30, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Director of hardware development Carl Ledbetter talks grills, sweat and Kinect.

The Xbox One looks simple on the surface, but every aspect of the console’s design has been carefully considered. Besides a games machine that doubles as a media box, it’s also now the physical emblem for a brand that extends across desktops, phones, tablets and web services. Director of development Carl Ledbetter had the unenviable task of rendering the console’s feature slate appreciable at a glance, while creating a look and feel for the brand that transcends the Xbox itself.

Click here to read the full article …read more

Playing “What If?” With Madden NFL 15

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

One of the great things about Madden NFL 15 is that it allows players the freedom to create football scenarios that they can only dream of in real-life. What happens if you build your dream team from scratch? What if your team’s running back didn’t get injured in week two?

Building upon this notion, we present to you our Madden NFL 15 “What If?” scenario – wherein we take a seemingly impossible situation and just find out… what if this actually happened?

The Scenario

During a pre-season family dinner, brothers Peyton and Eli Manning remark on how lucky the other person is: Peyton with his amazing team and powerful arm, and Eli with his two Super Bowl rings and better comedic timing. The siblings, in a moment of wistful ennui, both wish upon a star, or speak at the exact same time while whizzing in a fountain (or whatever your body-switching movie cliché of choice may be)… and the next day, they wake up in each others’ body!

Now Peyton finds himself trapped in New York City with a beleaguered offensive line, while Eli is in the mountains, straining to throw far enough to hit his receivers.

(For the purposes of this experiment, we simply traded the Mannings to each other’s teams, though Madden NFL 15 allows you to change player ratings and tendencies – so you could actually swap their skill sets instead).

The Results: DISASTER!

If the intention was to teach Peyton Manning humility by being a tackling dummy, then we totally succeeded. Because, holy cow, does Peyton choke.

Without a decent offensive line to keep him safe in the pocket, and with only Victor Cruz to throw to instead of the trio of wide receivers he’s used to, Peyton Manning had a career low showing, passing for a measly 2,500 yards. That’s 1,200 yards less than his previous career low. Combine that with a pitiful six touchdowns in the entire season, and it starts to become clear that just maybe Eli’s 2013 debacle of a season had a lot more to do with the rest of the team. If the highest-rated quarterback in the NFL can’t complete a pass, it’s time to start blaming the receivers. The entire mess leaves the Giants last in their division, and well into the bottom half of the NFL.

Meanwhile, in Denver, Eli found that having a wide selection of receivers makes all the difference. By the end of the season, kid brother Eli was at the top of the NFL in passing yards. Unfortunately, those yards didn’t lead to touchdowns – thanks in part to Eli throwing the third-most interceptions in the NFL. The younger Manning’s inability to follow through could only bring the Broncos (one of the best teams in the last decade) to an 8-7-1 season, just barely squeaking into a wild card slot for the playoffs.

If this were a movie, they’d probably play against each other at this point… but considering that the brothers play in different conferences, they haven’t played together in over …read more

Predicting the Season with Madden NFL 15’s Franchise Mode

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Madden NFL 15, the hottest sports game of the year, dropped this week. And what better way to celebrate this week of Madden awesomeness then by taking it all the way in Franchise mode, and deciding who’s truly the best team? We should note that this is a largely unscientific, completely haphazard prediction that should not be taken seriously by, well, anyone.

Mid-season Check-in

No big surprises here: The current state of the NFL has frontrunners in nearly every division. The Patriots, Seahawks, Broncos, and Saints all look strong. On top of that, you’ve got the Vikings and the Redskins, looking to erase last season’s disappointing performances… and prove that their running backs aren’t too old, nor the quarterbacks too young and inconsistent to compete in this league.

Then you get to the AFC North, where there’s a four way tie for mediocrity. What are you doing, Steelers and Ravens? Get it together!

End of Regular Season

If our Franchise Mode simulation of Madden NFL 15 is any indicator (and, again, it really isn’t), this is going to be an interesting and strange season of football.

Just look at these AFC standings:



Did anyone expect the Chargers at the top of that list? Neither did we! But it looks like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates still got it. Division powerhouses Patriots and Broncos are right on San Diego’s heels, though – so the Bolts have a tough post-season ahead of them.

Things get even crazier when you look at the NFC:

Oh hey, what’s up, Seahawks and Saints? Good to see you again, welcome to the… whoa Vikings, Redskins, and Cardinals, how did you get in here!? It’s like underdog city up in the NFC. Minnesota upped its defensive game, Washington learned how to score touchdowns, and, like last year, the Cardinals flew in under everyone’s radar (like that bird joke?).

Post-season

Unfortunately, the ragtag stories quickly came to an end in the post-season, as the scrappy teams are crushed by the giants of the NFL (not the New York Giants; we mean the good teams).



The “wake-us-up-we’re-dreaming” Chargers manage to take down the Broncos, but turn around and get knocked out by the Patriots, who came off of a 33-0 win over Houston. Even the losses are bigger in Texas!

On the other side, the Seahawks triumph over their bitter rivals, the 49ers – only to lose by four lousy points to the Saints in the next round. Bye bye, birdies.

But there’s no time to cry, Seattle fans; we’re off to the big game in Arizona!

The Final Showdown – Saints at Patriots

Here are two teams that are no strangers to the Lombardi Trophy, though it’s the first time they’ve been up against each other for the title.

With both teams boasting considerable offense and defensive skills, we’re sure to get a close, well fought game that…



Oops, never mind! Guess it’ll be a bit one sided. Apparently, after losing their last two appearances in the big game, it looks like …read more

Gunsport announced for Xbox One, coming in early 2015

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

The deadliest game of keepy-uppy we’ve ever seen.

Imagine a world where global squabbles were settled though a game of footy. Forget 1984 or Brave New World, that’s probably the most terrifying distopia I can envisage, and it’s (kind of) the premise of a new game announced for Xbox One today.

Click here to read the full article …read more

Who’s afraid of women in games?

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

The games industry is growing, and that absolutely isn’t a problem.

I don’t handle confrontations well. Put me in a corner (or what I perceive to be a corner) and I’ll either freeze or blow up like a punctured beer can. These are among the most depressing moments in my life – the times when my rational faculties evaporate, the world shrinks to the arc of a swung fist, and all I can think about is erasing, brutalising whatever it is that has my back to the wall.

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State of Decay Xbox One confirmed for spring 2015, runs at 1080p

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Year One Survival Edition to include Breakdown and Lifeline DLC plus “entirely new content”.

The original State of Decay will, in fact, come to Xbox One, despite hesitation on the subject from Undead Labs in January. Microsoft has announced a Year One Survival Edition, which comprises a 1080p-capable version of the original zombie survival sim plus its two expansion packs, Breakdown and Lifeline, and some brand new content.

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State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition Coming to Xbox One in 2015

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

When State of Decay debuted on Xbox Live last June, it broke a number of genre gameplay conventions: characters die permanently, story progression isn’t pre-scripted, and the world continues to change even when players are offline. Fans responded enthusiastically to this “zombie survival fantasy” spin on the genre, ensuring a bright future for the State of Decay franchise.

So what’s next for State of Decay? In Spring 2015, Xbox One owners will have the opportunity to experience the definitive version of State of Decay with the Year-One Survival Edition. Earlier this week, we paid a visit to Undead Labs’ studios to learn more:

The State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition will include the original State of Decay, now running in glorious 1080p, previously released Add-on packs Breakdown and Lifeline, as well as some entirely new content. Undead Labs will reveal more on the new content closer to release, and you’ll read about it here when they do.

…read more

The Witcher 3, Cyberpunk and sorceresses – a quick chat with CD Projekt RED

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Art producer Michal Stec talks spells and spin-offs.

If Dragon Age prefers to be found at court, and The Elder Scrolls games often kick off in a prison cell, CD Projekt RED’s Witcher games are the kind of role-player you run into at the local tavern – sleazy, scarred, laden with borderline-illegal magical gadgets and oh so very calculating.

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Lockout Unveiled as the Fifth Re-Imagined Multiplayer Map for Halo: The Master Chief Collection

August 29, 2014 By: Sniper Category: Whats Up?

Lockout is the fifth of six classic Halo 2 multiplayer maps being re-imagined for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, joining the previously announced Ascension, Coagulation, Zanzibar and Sanctuary.

Set in an old Forerunner research laboratory in the frigid mountains of Delta Halo, Lockout features fast-paced, close quarters combat with its narrow corridors and vertical level design. With three levels to navigate, adept players can deftly traverse around the map by mastering specific jumping points, enabling them to secure power weapons faster and set up ambushes for unsuspecting opponents.

The re-imagined version of Lockout also includes a few new features that will surprise even the most hardened Halo 2 veterans.

“Lockout was hands-down the most popular small arena-style map in Halo 2,” said Max Hoberman, president of Certain Affinity and one of the original lead designers of Halo 2.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing this fan-favorite back, and are paying close attention to the details and subtleties that made the original great while also making a couple of very careful, very calculated enhancements. Most prominent among these are a bit of cover added to the ‘Elbow,’ the long walkway connecting the grav lift to the sniper tower, and a dynamic element that should help counter an entrenched group of enemies. Of course this can be disabled in Forge for players who want a near-match of the original experience.”

If you’re visiting PAX Prime in Seattle, WA (Aug. 29 – Sept. 1), Lockout will be playable at the Xbox Booth (#412, #422, #432), where 16 stations will be available for attendees to try out Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s multiplayer.

Throughout the weekend, 343 Industries will be hosting a number of activities for the Halo community, including a Halo: The Master Chief Collection panel, a developer signing, and the Halo PAX Prime Showdown – a weekend long tournament where fans can qualify and compete for $10,000 in prizes. The tournament will be broadcast live on the Halo Twitch channel.

Below is the PAX Prime schedule – for additional details, please visit Halo Waypoint.

Friday, August 29

Halo PAX Prime Showdown Qualifiers
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
ASTRO Gaming Booth #842
Skullcandy Gaming Booth #3117

Saturday, August 30

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Panel
Halo and the Journey of The Master Chief
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Benaroya Hall

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Panel Signing
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Paramount Theater

Halo PAX Prime Showdown Tournament
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
http://Twitch.tv/Halo

Sunday, August 31

Halo PAX Prime Showdown Tournament Finals
11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Grand finals: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
http://Twitch.tv/Halo

…read more