Archive for the ‘epic’ Category

How Epic got such amazing Unreal Engine 5 results on next-gen consoles

May 14th, 2020

Watch this in full screen at 4K if at all possible.

After last week's somewhat blasé showcase of in-development Xbox Series X software, our expectations for the coming generation of new game consoles were somewhat tempered. But those expectations got a significant boost this week with Epic Games' unveiling of a jaw-dropping real-time demo of its Unreal Engine 5 technology.

The engine, which Epic says will launch next year, was shown running on PlayStation 5 development hardware, though the company said the same general level of fidelity should be possible on the Xbox Series X and high-end PCs as well. And it shows how the state-of-the-art in graphical quality on those platforms is quickly advancing past resolution and frame rate counts and toward new levels of lighting and modeling detail.

Lighting

The first pillar of Epic's new engine is what it's calling the Lumen system, a "fully dynamic global illumination solution that immediately reacts to scene and light changes."

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Fortnite’s “Party Royale” mode ditches the guns, asks players to “chill”

April 29th, 2020
The Papaya map for <em>Fortnite</em>'s "Party Royale" mode features apparent icons for racing, gliding, and a soccer match.

Enlarge / The Papaya map for Fortnite's "Party Royale" mode features apparent icons for racing, gliding, and a soccer match. (credit: @VastBlastt & @FNBRHQ / Twitter)

If you've played Fortnite with a group of teenagers recently, you probably quickly realized that, for many players, the game is less about killing fellow players and staying alive and more about just hanging out with friends in a shared 3D space. Epic is now explicitly leaning into this use case with a new "Party Royale" mode that asks players to "leave their weapons and [materials] behind."

That description comes from an email sent by Epic to a number of Fortnite content creators in recent days, inviting them to a test of the "experimental and evolving space" starting late Friday evening. Data miners ShiinaBR and Lucas7Yoshi have extracted an expanded description of the limited-time mode, which adds that players will be able to "hang out with friends, play games, perfect your skydive and more. The party’s just getting started!"

Dataminers have also extracted an overhead image of a new map for the Party Royale mode, apparently nicknamed "Papaya" in game files. Icons on that map, and variable names found in the code, strongly suggest mini-games based around gliding, races on foot and in vehicles, motorboat challenges, and even a soccer match, as well as "theater" and "hub" spaces for gatherings.

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Why one PC developer turned down the security of Epic’s exclusivity offer

August 19th, 2019
Artist's conception of <em>DARQ</em>'s developers sadly walking away from Epic Games Store exclusivity.

Enlarge / Artist's conception of DARQ's developers sadly walking away from Epic Games Store exclusivity.

If you've been following the PC gaming space in recent months, you know Epic has been throwing a lot of money around to secure exclusives big and small for its Epic Games Store (EGS) on PC. But there has also been a small and growing trend of developers who are publicly rejecting Epic's money and exclusivity terms for a variety of reasons.

Rise of Industry creator Alex Mochi, for instance, said in a screengrabbed Discord conversation that Epic's "deal didn't appeal to me" because "I want for as many people to have access to the game as possible." SkateBIRD developer Megan Fox tweeted that Epic told her they were "focusing on exclusives, and SkateBIRD promised Steam keys in its [KickStarter], therefore, nah [on Epic Games Store availability]." Factorio developers Wube Software said in a blog post it would see any potential exclusivity deal as "selling-out to big companies that would use the game as cash grab while destroying the brand." And so on.

Indie developer Unfold Games is the latest to publicly turn down an Epic exclusivity offer for its dream-like adventure game DARQ. The team went into more detail than most on the decision in a Medium post this weekend, explaining why "getting some upfront payment on top of guaranteed revenue" from Epic was not enough to entice them.

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Despite complaints, Epic stands behind Fortnite’s “anyone can win” mechs

August 16th, 2019
Who's up for a game of <em>Titanfall</em>?

Enlarge / Who's up for a game of Titanfall?

Epic is showing no signs of plans to remove the controversial mech-like B.R.U.T.E. from Fortnite, saying the powerful new combat option helps in the studio's mission "to bring players of all skill levels together to have a fun experience where anyone can win."

The launch of the B.R.U.T.E. earlier this month has been one of the biggest changes in the game's short history, letting two players team up in an armored automaton to hurl a barrage of missiles at relatively tiny, mech-less opponents. Angry players have been flooding online forums and social media with clips showing overpowered mechs destroying other players, claiming the addition is ruining the competitive balance of the game.

Epic has already tweaked the B.R.U.T.E. a bit in response to the complaints, adding a targeting laser to warn otherwise unsuspecting players of an incoming barrage. But in a new update posted yesterday, the Fortnite Team suggested the B.R.U.T.E. has actually been beneficial to their view of how the game should be balanced.

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After Epic purchase, Psyonix removes random loot boxes from Rocket League

August 7th, 2019
Yeeeeeehawwwww!

Yeeeeeehawwwww! (credit: Psyonix)

Players looking for specific cosmetic items in Rocket League will have an easier time buying them directly in the near future. That's because developer Psyonix has announced that later this year, it will "remove all paid, randomized Crates from Rocket League, replacing them with a system that shows the exact items you’re buying in advance." The company added that "Rocket Pass Premium, DLC Cars, and Esports Shop items will continue to be offered for direct purchase alongside our new system."

The announcement comes a few months after Psyonix was purchased by Epic, a company that announced a similar loot box phaseout for Fortnite: Save the World back in January. Psyonix cites that Fortnite decision explicitly in its announcement, which suggests that the new ownership may have played into the move.

Rocket League has used sales of randomized Crates to distribute cosmetic customization items for in-game cars since 2016. A year ago, the company revealed the rarities and odds for these Crates, showing that the rarest "Black Market" items appear in 1% of Crate purchases. Getting such items with "Painted, Certified, [or] Special Edition" modifiers was even rarer.

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Angry Shenmue III backers can get refunds after Epic Game Store move

July 2nd, 2019
Artist's conception of Kickstarter backers about to open up their email, expecting a promised Steam key...

Enlarge / Artist's conception of Kickstarter backers about to open up their email, expecting a promised Steam key...

Back at E3, Shenmue III developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver revealed that the PC version of the long-awaited sequel would be available exclusively on the Epic Games Store. That upset many of the game's Kickstarter backers, who were promised during the 2015 Kickstarter funding effort that the game would be available via Steam (they were also promised a "December 2017" estimated delivery, but at this point we all know what Kickstarter promises tend to be worth).

After initial reports that Ys Net was denying refund requests following the move, the company announced in a Kickstarter update today that it will indeed offer refunds to affected backers who request one. The developer writes that it was originally still planning to offer a Steam key option to satisfy those backers, but "coordination with the sales policies of the involved companies was untenable, and as a result we are not able to make a day one distribution option for Steam keys available."

"That we are not able to offer Steam keys for Kickstarter rewards at the time of the game’s release is a great [disappointment] and inconvenience for those backers who were expecting to receive them," the update continues. "We deeply apologize for the unrest caused by the announcement."

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Paradox exec: Steam’s 30 percent fee is “outrageous”

July 1st, 2019
Paradox exec: Steam’s 30 percent fee is “outrageous”

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Paradox Interactive (Cities: Skylines, Surviving Mars) seems to be getting fed up with the "standard" 30 percent fee on sales charged by Steam and many other game platforms. Speaking at a Gamelab panel hosted by GamesIndustry.biz last week, Paradox Chairman of the Board and former CEO Fredrik Wester called that state of affairs "outrageous," adding "I think the platform holders are taking too much money. Everyone in the press here, just quote me on that."

The 30 percent fee baseline, Wester argues, can trace its origins back to the economics of the home video market in the 1970s, when studios like Warner Bros. negotiated similar fees with retailers selling early VHS tapes. "That was physical. It cost a lot of money," he said. "This doesn't cost anything. So Epic has done a great job for the whole industry, because you get 88 percent. Fantastic move. Thank you very much."

Saying that it "doesn't cost anything" for stores like Steam to distribute and service a game is going a bit far. Beyond the simple costs associated with processing payments and providing download bandwidth, platforms often provide everything from multiplayer APIs to achievement and leaderboard systems to anti-cheat services and a whole host of other useful features. The Epic Game Store, with its undercutting 12 percent fees, does not provide many of these features as of yet (but the company does have a public roadmap for adding many of them in the near future).

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EA: Loot boxes actually “surprise mechanics” that are “ethical and fun”

June 20th, 2019
If this image seems irrelevant to the story, may I suggest you need to <a href='//www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xXY_5NLCNY'>catch up on your "Spaceship Surprise" viewing</a>.

Enlarge / If this image seems irrelevant to the story, may I suggest you need to catch up on your "Spaceship Surprise" viewing. (credit: YouTube / Sesame Street)

Representatives from EA and Epic Games spoke in front of a UK parliamentary panel Wednesday (transcript). They were there to defend the game industry against charges of addictive game mechanics and encouragement of gambling via loot boxes. But at least one of those representatives took issue with the basic premise that randomized item purchases should be labeled as "loot boxes" in the first place.

"That is what we look at as 'surprise mechanics,'" EA Legal and Government Affairs VP Kerry Hopkins told the panel when asked about the ethics of loot boxes. "It is important to look at this. If you go to—I don’t know what your version of Target is—a store that sells a lot of toys and you do a search for surprise toys, you will find that this is something people enjoy. They enjoy surprises. It is something that has been part of toys for years, whether it is Kinder eggs or Hatchimals or LOL Surprise!"

As implemented in a game like FIFA, Hopkins went on to argue that these surprise mechanics are "quite ethical and fun [and] enjoyable to people... We think it is like many other products that people enjoy in a very healthy way. They like the element of surprise.

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Posted in EA, epic, ethics, FIFA, fortnite, Gaming & Culture, loot box, parliament, surprise, uk | Comments (0)

Borderlands 3, other games temporarily removed from Epic Games Store sale [Updated]

May 17th, 2019
<em>Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2</em> took itself off of the Epic Games Store temporarily rather than take part in the recent "Mega Sale"

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 took itself off of the Epic Games Store temporarily rather than take part in the recent "Mega Sale"

[Update, May 18: Gearbox's Borderlands 3 is no longer available for pre-order on the Epic Games Store. The game was previously available for as low as $49.99 during the sale (before Epic's additional $10 off for all games over $14.99), down from its initial starting price of $59.99.

The Epic Games Store page for the game now simply lists a "Coming Soon" message where the pre-order links used to be. The "PC Digital" platform option has also been removed from the pre-order page on the official Borderlands webpage.

Epic and Gearbox representatives were not immediately available to comment on the pre-order pause for the Epic Games Store exclusive. But Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford appears to have deleted a recent tweet that read "Save $10 on Borderlands 3! Also works if you have already pre-ordered, I’m told. Epic sure wants to earn your trust."]

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Epic discounts entire Game Store library in storewide “Mega Sale“ [Updated]

May 15th, 2019
Epic discounts entire Game Store library in storewide “Mega Sale“ [Updated]

Enlarge (credit: Epic)

[Update, May 16: The first ever "Epic Mega Sale" is now live, with discounts of up to 75% on every game in the Epic Games Store catalog through June 13. On top of those sale prices, purchasers receive an additional $10 off every game currently listed for at least $14.99 on the platform. That offer excludes DLC and in-game purchases, but includes pre-orders for upcoming titles (previous pre-orders will receive an automatic credit to reflect the savings).

Epic is also increasing the usual biweekly pace of its free game offers for the duration of the sale. Through June 13, a new free game will be offered on the service every week, starting with narrative adventure Stories Untold.]

Original Story

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