Lunch with the President

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, PlatinumGames

The latest employee event here at PlatinumGames is birthday lunch month with the president! As the name implies, all employees who have their birthday that month are treated to lunch by president Minami.

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The company started 9 years ago with 40 or so members, but now, with over 170 employees, it has turned into quite a sizeable establishment (from our perspective, anyway). The president suggested this event because he wanted a chance to sit down and talk with all of the employees.

The lunch might also be a way of expressing his gratitude for our work? In any case, it’s a voluminous bento box that looks pretty fancy! (I’m getting jealous…)

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For lunch this time we had quite the range of participants: from new employees who only entered the company in April to veterans who’ve been with the company since its founding, for a total of 8 people.

First of all, the president wanted to know how everyone was doing! So he asked about what they do for lunch. One employee who usually brings her own lunch said, “I’ve been having trouble getting up in the morning to make my lunch these days…” The president shot back with: “But you’re not that busy right now!”

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Then there was some chat about the early days of the employees who’d been with the company since the beginning.

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Next, the president badgered a nervous new employee in his typical fast-talking Kansai dialect. “Don’t you feel homesick, living away from home? Are you doing okay?” It turns out the new employee’s first name is the same as his beloved daughter. His familial feeling must have kicked in, and he just kept spouting out the cantankerous old dad phrases. “Don’t have too much fun!” he chided, chuckling.

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By the time everyone had finished eating, the talk turned to serious work matters. Concerns about how to train new staff, the difficulty of sharing information throughout the development floor, how to pass on expert know-how, how to use lessons learned on subsequent projects… the topics just kept on coming. The lunch had turned into an exchange of opinions that crossed all boundaries of job type and position.

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At one point it got so serious that the president and the CTO, Ohmori, were both holding their heads in their hands in desperation!

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Well, the lunch was only an hour and a half long, so there’s no way all the issues were going to get solved. However, by continuing these opportunities, we hope that horizontal and vertical communication will become smoother, and employees will feel even more comfortable and motivated working here. And of course, we want to create amazing games to pass it back to all of you!

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This was a little longer than our usual lunch hour of 12:30-1:30, but it sounds like it was really worthwhile. Everyone’s looking forward to next month’s lunch!

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Club Activities at PlatinumGames!

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

Since a few months ago, the staff at PlatinumGames has been organizing something new: after-hours clubs. Not only is this a good opportunity for employees to hang out and get to know each other better, but it also serves to give them inspiration and new ideas that they can put to use while doing their job.
For this blog post, Eiro Shirahama, Director Extraordinaire of The Legend of Korra, wrote up his impressions of the first night out of his moviegoers club, “Cinema Paradise.”

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Hi everyone! Eiro Shirahama here.

In the Fall of last year, PlatinumGames started a new “club activities” initiative, and although things started off a bit slowly, they’ve really been picking up steam lately!
One of the main goals of the “club activities” initiative is to stimulate communication within the company, and since the higher-ups were kind enough to provide part of the costs involved in running these activities, we’ve already got a decent variety of clubs up and running, including a cooking club, a fishing club, a handful of games clubs (e.g. one focused on board games, and another on beat-em-ups), and several sports clubs.

Today I’d like to highlight the activities of Cinema Paradise, a club I organized for movie lovers like myself.

It works a little bit differently from most of the other clubs, though. Whereas most clubs get together every week, biweekly, or maybe once a month, Cinema Paradise operates on an “invitation-based free-participation” basis, meaning that we basically only have an activity when someone has a movie they want to see and they invite the others to come along.

Here’s a few pictures of what the process looks like.

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In this case, one of our female designers wanted to go and see a certain dark fantasy movie with an attractive male lead, and 8 out of the 9 club members expressed interest in participating, so we went ahead and booked the tickets online. Everything can be done online these days. Why, in my time, we stood in line in the cold for hours to get our movie tickets, not even sure if there would be any left when it was our turn, and we darn well liked it! (Please don’t take my internet away from me!).
Anyway, most of us tend to work late, so we ended up going for the late show, which has the benefit of being cheaper too!

So about 30 minutes before the movie started, we started moseying towards the cinema, which is only about a 12-minute walk from the company. Naturally, there was lots of talking and excitement. When we were finally inside though, everyone instantly switched to “shut up, I’m trying to watch this movie” mode.

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No smiles here, this is serious business!

Of course, after the movie, we all shared our thoughts while enjoying some drinks.

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That’s the Umeda Sky Building in the background! (Sorry about the blurriness)

I think that movies, being the same kind of products of passionate creators as video games, have a lot to teach to us game developers. And of course, as a professional within the same entertainment industry, I feel like I want to create even better products than the movies I watch! At least, that’s what I dreamt about as I dozed off on the last train home…

It was kind of refreshing to get to talk face-to-face with people you don’t normally talk with about your hobbies or other casual topics. I hope that these club activities will inspire us and give us new ideas that we can use for our future games!

Eiro Shirahama, Cinema Paradise Chairman

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A New Year’s Greeting from PlatinumGames

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, PlatinumGames

Happy New Year!

This year, we have a greeting from the president and a video from all our staff. See both of them below!

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Hi everyone, Happy New Year from PlatinumGames.

 

In 2014, we were able to see the sequel to Bayonetta, our flagship title, released to the world, as well as the release of The Legend of Korra, a game available only outside of Japan.

I’d like to express my thanks to all of our fans who supported us by purchasing and playing these titles, and to the staff who worked so hard to make these games’ releases possible.

As a video game developer, a new year doesn’t actually mark an achievement in the history of our company. Our milestones are made when we finish a game and can release it to our fans. Each of those successive milestones has brought PlatinumGames to where it is today.

One way we gauge the success of a game is if our users finish it and think, “I want more.” We strongly believe that Bayonetta 2 would not have been possible without the critical reception of the first. Both of these games represent important milestones for our company, and we are deeply proud of them.

Our other release of 2014, “The Legend of Korra,” involved the game adaptation of a highly popular TV show in the west that has never been released in Japan. The fact that we, a Japanese company, were entrusted with this property, reaffirmed our faith that PlatinumGames is respected across the world. This too, may have been a major turning point for us.

Looking back on last year, PlatinumGames may have advanced from where we were before 2014. Something tells me that, at least. To use videogame parlance, I feel we’ve come to our second playthrough.

In video games, there’s a term called “New Game +”. This is a term for starting the second run of a game with all the experience from your first playthrough carried over.

In a New Game +, you’re powerful enough that you can mostly button mash your way through the repeated areas of the game with little trouble at all, but that’s not what we mean when we say we’re on our second playthrough. We intend to challenge ourselves and explore possibilities we may not have been able to realize until now. This is the attitude we try to maintain everyday as we come to work.

The video game industry is one that is ever-changing. New technology and approaches to game development are introduced daily, constantly giving our staff volumes of new study material. We can’t rely on our past experience to get us through everything. We intend to press forward strongly in 2015, experimenting with new ideas for how to give our fans across the world a thrilling user experience that could only come from Platinum. Thank you as always for all your support.

 

PlatinumGames President and CEO

Tatsuya Minami

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Also, take a look at this New Year’s message from our whole team:

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PlatinumGames’ End of the Year Party

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, PlatinumGames

Hey everyone. This is Kazuyo Tsukuma, PR rep at PlatinumGames. Today’s our last work day of the year, but plenty of staff are still busy trying to wrap up the few final tasks they have. We had some company wide Spring Cleaning (though yes, it’s not Spring) today in between the furious typing away at keyboards.

Earlier this week we held our company-wide end of the year of the party. Including a few guests from outside, attendees totaled to be somewhere over 200.

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Kenichi Sato, head of HR, gives a toast.

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After the initial toast, everyone takes their glass and makes some rounds, expressing thanks to those who have helped you out over the past year. Up until this point it was the same ol’ end of the year party as every year. But…

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Suddenly, a mysterious figure appeared upon the stage. Hey, who the heck are you?

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Allow us to introduce the new unofficial mascot character of PlatinumGames: P-Man. He seems to have been put together in secret by the graduate hires who organized the party.

The designer who originally proposed the idea claimed to have the suit finished in a week. A month later, the suit was complete, just in time for the party. Everyone was pretty impressed with this display of young spirit, really putting in extra effort just to make the night that much more special. It’d be nice if we could eventually find some other way to use P-Man outside of this party…

At PlatinumGames, our end of the year party is typically five percent mingling and 95 percent bingo competition. This year we had over 150 presents donated by different members of the staff as prizes. A few days before the event, a catalog was distributed to everyone’s desks so staff could dare to dream of drawing the some of the more illustrious prizes. Or so they could start to fear how they would manage getting home some of the huger gag gifts.

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By some strange stroke of luck, it just so happens that the staff member who landed the prize contributed by President Minami himself was…

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P-Man?!? The luck of this guy… nice one, P-Man!

Thanks for all the support you’ve given PlatinumGames this year. It’s been a fantastic year for us, and we hope it will be for you as well. We’ll take a short break and see you back in 2015–let’s all make it a great year.

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Creating an Automated Bug Checker

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Games, PlatinumGames

Hi, I’m Morita, a programmer.

For this blog I’d like to talk about how we automated bug checking in Bayonetta 2.

Before a game is released and actually reaches your hands, there’re a lot of little things called bugs that we have to take care of. Here’s a refresher course on some of the types of bugs there are:

Freeze Bugs
The game stops responding to controller input, the game freezes, and the player’s only available option is to manually shut down the console.
These are serious bugs, even mid-development. If you don’t take care of them quickly, production of that section of the game comes to a halt.

Collision Bugs
These bugs occur when the player falls through an invisible hole in the ground, gets pushed by an enemy into some area they’re not actually allowed to go (and shouldn’t exist), or stuck inside the walls of a building somehow, etc. If you continue to mess around once these bugs happen, the game might freeze.

When you get close to the end of development, there’s a period called bug check where you try to find and fix all the remaining bugs in the game that you can. This check usually involves the whole internal team, plus dedicated professionals outside the company as well.

There are a few different methods people use to check bugs. For example:
– Full playthrough (seeing if the whole game can be played from start to finish without freezing)
– Playing the game extended periods of time
– Trying to go back after doing something and seeing what happens
– Trying to do something different from intended design
– (Etc…)

Now, do we need every aspect of bug checks to be handled by actual people? My policy is: if a machine can do it, let’s make a machine do it. In this instance, we determine a set of actions for Bayonetta to perform, and make the console play the game over and over and over again.

For example, our first method for bug checking, the full playthrough—if we’re just going to play through the game’s main story, we know what that route is, and what we need to do along the way, so shouldn’t this be possible?

Then there’s bug checking by playing the game for extended periods of time. People need to sleep, eat, and take breaks, but we can make a machine play the game as long as we want and it’ll never even have to use the restroom! This is where automated bug checking really shines.

There also happen to be these kinds of bugs that have a very low chance of reoccurring, sometimes even as low as only a 1/50 chance. If there’s a bug that we randomly came across at one point and want to find the exact conditions for reproducing it, we can program the game to try something in the most precise way possible, and experiment around until we figure out what’s causing the problem.

Looking at all that, you realize there’s a lot that a machine can take care of. If you let a machine handle part of the bug check, you slim down what the rest of the team has to do, meaning they can do a much more specific and faster check, and everything ends up being more efficient.

I started thinking about this autoplay tool around the time development for the first Bayonetta ended. Finally, with Bayonetta 2, I was able to try it out.

In total, the tool has accomplished beating Bayonetta 2 40 times in a row. In actuality, it could probably go a lot further, but by the time it’s played that long, we’re ready to add fixes and update old data, so we have to turn it off once, refresh our data, and then start it up again.

Okay, you’ve dealt with a long enough wall of text. Let’s try looking at a video.


*This video was taken during development, so it looks different from the actual game.

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In the image above, you can see some red cones connected by lines. This is the autoplay course for the game. I had to sit down and write in all this data piece by piece.

The overall setup is simple. Whenever Bayonetta gets to a cone, she performs a pre-determined list of actions for that cone in order. When she’s done with everything, she moves on to the next cone.

This doesn’t involve adding any special actions for Bayonetta. For movement, I started from the intended destination and camera angles and worked backwards determining what direction would need to be pressed on the controller.
It was important for me to make the tool so Bayonetta moved as if the controller had moved her.

The tool could control the following:
– Move to destination
Walk, jump, double jump, warp (this was a special debug-only feature)
– Controller input
Capable of full-circle spins and more.

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– Standby for certain conditions

Besides the basic features, it also has a variety of complex functions, such as “auto-battle,” or operations that are only used for debugging, like outputting a data log, taking screenshots, and so on.

Auto-battle is pretty cool. Bayonetta acts as if she has an Immortal Marionette equipped and pretty much fights as if someone was just mashing the buttons, randomly performing Torture Attacks and Umbran Climaxes when she fills her gauge.


*This video was taken during development, so it looks different from the actual game.

The commands can actually get pretty complex. We can have Bayonetta perform actions while moving between cones, and lots of crazy stuff. Some of the command patterns I programmed were like, “punch three times and then move,” or “do X,Y, and Z while warping in an infinite loop.”

Sorry… looks like I got carried away. I think I’ve written too much already. I’ll talk about the tool’s actual implementation another time.

The tool was used in various ways. I used it for repeating specific actions under individual staff members’ development environments, and I would refresh the data and put the game on autoplay before going home, so basically I was going around asking everyone: “Hey, if you’ve got a PC/dev kit to spare, can I use it?”

Then, when we came back to work the next day, we’d find the game frozen after trying to do this or that, thus helping us discover a lot of bugs that might’ve taken a long time to find otherwise. Next project I hope to make an even more improved version.

Thanks if you’ve read this far. I know it didn’t really have that much to do with Bayonetta 2 itself, but I hope you found it interesting.

I hope it gets across that I’ve tried my best to make sure your Bayonetta 2 experience is as bug free as possible :)
I look forward to getting to speak to you all again in the future.

If you ever want to message me on twitter, follow me @PG_morita!

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Celebrating the Launch of The Legend of Korra

Legend of Korra

Filed: Games, PlatinumGames, The Legend of Korra

Hi, everyone! How are you?
This is Eiro Shirahama, director of The Legend of Korra.

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I first saw Korra and fell in love with her.

After a tough development period, the game was finally released one month ago on 10/21 in the US and 10/22 in Europe.
Please try it on Steam, XBLA or the PS Store, if you haven’t already!

It’s a budget title, but it still manages to maintain that sharp and fast-paced action you’ve come to expect from us!

What’s that? You need more Platinum in your life!?
Well, Bayonetta 2 was released on 10/24 as well, so there’s a double serving of PlatinumGames goodness just waiting to be scooped up!

I’d like to thank all of the wonderful people who worked on The Legend of Korra. I couldn’t have done it without you!

I also want to give a great big hug to Robert Conkey, producer extraordinaire at Activision for giving us so much freedom in making this game. Thanks, buddy!

Also, lots of love and respect for Mike & Brian, creators of the original Avatar series. Your work is amazing, guys!

Thanks to everyone at Nickelodeon as well! The chocolate cake we had in San Diego was delicious!

And the biggest thanks of all to all of you fine people who downloaded the game!
I love each and every one of you!!

IMG_3568(Text on cake: Avatar State!!)

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Cut Scene Production in Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello!

My name is Kunihiko Tsuda, and I was in charge of cut scene production for Bayonetta 2.

Today, I’d like to talk about how we produced the cut scenes for this game.

Two of the many distinguishing characteristics of the original Bayonetta were its unparalleled over-the-top action, and its cast of unique characters.

Today, I would like to talk about how we incorporate these unique characteristics and action sequences into our cut scenes.

First of all, like Bayonetta 1, the scenario for this game was written by Hideki Kamiya. For fear of spoilers, I won’t go too deep into the story here, but I can promise you that the script is every bit as crazy as the first game (if not considerably more so), so you’ll just have to play the game and see for yourself!

Based on this script, we first created video storyboards to decide on the direction and the characteristics of each scene.

At this stage of development, it’s also common to use regular non-video storyboards, but since Bayonetta 2 has a lot of new characters, and since Bayonetta herself hasn’t remained unchanged since the first game either (not that she has a different personality or anything), we decided that it would be best to create video storyboards in order to make it easier for Yusuke Hashimoto (The game director), and Yuji Shimomura (The cut scene director. Thanks for all the hard work on Bayonetta 1 as well!) to reach a mutual understanding on how to convey that Bayonetta has changed and grown as a person since the first game.

Here’s an example:

For comparison, this is what Bayonetta was like in the first game:

As you can see, her clothes have changed quite a bit as well.
Actually recording the scenes allowed us to get a clearer impression of how each scene played out, so that we could settle on the details for the characters and stage direction at an earlier stage in the production process.

Of course, we make stage directions on which the production is based for the video storyboards for action scenes as well.

Next, we record the motion capturing based on these video storyboards.
At this point we make detailed adjustments and revisions to the stage direction as well, based on the backgrounds and cut scene trigger points, which we will have mostly worked out at this stage of development.

The motion capture data is then used to create the scenes with the help of 3DCG tools.
The data is applied to the backgrounds and character models and further tweaked.
This part of the process is very important, especially when it comes to action scenes.
This is where we give the cut scenes their typical Bayonetta-like qualities, by accelerating motions to a speed that is not possible for actual human beings, and by creating lots of physically difficult poses for Bayonetta herself.

Since Bayonetta 2 has many different kinds of gigantic monsters and enemies, this part of the process is even more important.


*This video was recorded while the game was still in development, so it looks different from the final product.

After this step, the camera direction and character motions are almost completely fixed. The only thing that remains is output to the console and postproduction work (lighting, VFX, screen filters etc.).

That’s the general flow of the process, in a very tiny nutshell.

It might be hard to believe, but I truly think that the cut scenes in Bayonetta 2 are even more crazy and over-the-top than the first game, so I hope you play the game to check them out for yourself!

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The Legend of Korra coming this fall!

Legend of Korra

Filed: Games, PlatinumGames, The Legend of Korra

“Water!

Earth!

Fire!

Air!

Only PlatinumGames can master all 4 elements to turn them into an AWESOME ACTION GAME!”

We are very proud to announce “The Legend of Korra™,” a joint project between PlatinumGames, Inc., Activision Publishing, Inc., and Nickelodeon. We are all huge fans of the show, so it was a great honor for us to get to work on an action game taking place in the Avatar universe. We’ve tried our best to do justice to the original animation, and we think that Korra aficionados, as well as long-time fans of our games, will not be disappointed!

— Atsushi Kurooka, Producer

Read the official press release below!

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NICKELODEON CONTINUES RELATIONSHIP WITH ACTIVISION PUBLISHING, INC. TO PRODUCE THE LEGEND OF KORRA VIDEO GAME

Fans Can Select Video Game Cover Art Via The Legend of Korra Facebook Page

 NEW YORK – June 26, 2014 – Nickelodeon and Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) today announced plans to develop and publish the first-ever video game inspired by the fan-favorite animated series, The Legend of Korra. The Legend of Korra digital video game is developed by PlatinumGames, Inc. and capitalizes on the studio’s pedigree of creating visually flourishing experiences with fast-paced, dynamic combat. The game is planned to be available for download this fall on Sony’s PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems; Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system and Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft; and Windows PC.

The Legend of Korra fans will have the unique opportunity to select the cover art for this digital video game by voting on three different concepts drawn by one of the show’s character designers, Christie Tseng. Fans can visit https://www.facebook.com/legendofkorra to cast their vote. Voting will run through June 30 at midnight PST.

“We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Activision Publishing, Inc. to bring the hit animated series from TV screens to gamers everywhere,” said Yaacov Barselah, Vice President of Games & Digital Publishing New Business, Nickelodeon. “Capturing the true essence and exquisite creative of the series, The Legend of Korra games are sure to captivate fans as they delve into the rich and exciting world of Korra.” The Legend of Korra video game follows Korra, a strong-willed young woman who, as the reincarnation of the Avatar, can bend the four primal forces of nature to her will. Scripted by staff writer Tim Hedrick and consulted by series cocreators and executive producers Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, the game’s original adventure takes place between Books Two and Three of the TV program allowing for an authentic Avatar experience. The game’s cell-shaded visuals recreate the beautiful look and immersive feel of the show, with colorful, vivid detail going into every action, elemental effect and animated story sequence.

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The Legend of Korra is a single player, action-packed brawler, in which Korra’s mastery of martial arts and the four elements – fire, earth, air, and water – can be used on the fly to bolster her combos and counters against foes. Throughout the game, Korra’s polar bear-dog, Naga, will aid her in high-speed traversal segments. The game also brings to life the series’ competitive sport, Pro-Bending, in which teams of three use the elements to fight for territory in an arena.

A handheld version of The Legend of Korra for the Nintendo 3DS™ hand-held system is also being developed by Webfoot Technologies, as a retail-only release. The handheld version of the game will feature a similar story, and is a single-player, turn-based strategy RPG, in which players focus on tactically maneuvering Korra and her allies on the battlefield.

 About The Legend of Korra Series

Set 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra follows the next Avatar after Aang–a teenage girl named Korra (Janet Varney) who is from the Southern Water Tribe. Korra lives in Republic City, the modern “Avatar” world that is a virtual melting pot where benders and non-benders from all nations live and thrive. Under the tutelage of Aang’s son, Tenzin (J.K. Simmons), Korra continues her Avatar training while dealing with the dangers at large. The series is co-created and executive produced by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, co-creators of the Emmy Award-winning Avatar: The Last Airbender. Joaquim Dos Santos is co-executive producer.

The Legend of Korra voice cast includes Janet Varney (Dinner and a Movie) as Korra, David Faustino (Married…with Children) as Mako, P.J. Byrne (Wolf of Wall Street) as Bolin, J.K. Simmons (The Closer) as Tenzin, Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) as Chief Lin Beifong, Seychelle Gabriel (Falling Skies) as Asami Sato, Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) as Jinora, and Eva Marie Saint (Superman Returns) as Katara.

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About PlatinumGames, Inc.

PlatinumGames Inc. is an independent entertainment developer based in Osaka, Japan, dedicated to making high quality, next generation games for a variety of hardware platforms. Under the slogan “Taking on the World as the Representative of Japan,” PlatinumGames works hard to deliver fresh surprises and new experiences to gamers all over the world.

About Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, now in its 35th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in almost 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 19 consecutive years.
For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B).

About Activision Publishing, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products.
Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, China and the region of Taiwan. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s website, www.activision.com.

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Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Publishing’s expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements about the expected release date of The Legend of Korra are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing’s actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Publishing and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Activision Publishing nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Publishing or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

Media Contacts:

Nickelodeon
Tori Fernandes
Tori.fernandes@nick.com

Activision:
Amanda Young
Sandbox Strategies
212.213.2451 ext. 227
amanda@sandboxstrat.com

 

And here’s a sweet little trailer!

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The Platinum Collection: Composers, Pt. 3

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

Hi, this is Hiroshi Yamaguchi. The piece I’ve selected from my works to talk about is “ST10 Roll Out, Wonderful 101!”

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For each game I’ve worked on here (Bayonetta, Anarchy Reigns, The Wonderful 101), each song has its own special meaning to me, so this was a hard question to answer. In the end, I decided to go with the staff roll of our most recent title, The Wonderful 101.

The staff roll has a special place in a game’s soundtrack. To the player, it’ s the music that gives you that sense of release after overcoming the game’s many obstacles and defeating its final boss. To the development team as well, this is the music we see while our names flash across the screen, telling us “well done” after a long, hard production cycle. It goes without saying then, that this music needs to be a triumphant, celebratory piece. The three keywords I always keep in mind as I write it are “catchy”, “lively”, and “moving.” As the production cycle comes to an end, I gather up my remaining strength and filter all of my energy into writing this song, so I always end up having strong memories of it.

As an aside, I’d say my favorite staff rolls would have to be Secret of Mana’s “The Second Truth from the Left” and Chrono Trigger’s “To Far Away Times.” Either piece still gives me the chills when I listen to it now.

Below are some of Yamaguchi’s other compositions. Which is your favorite?

From Bayonetta:
One Of A Kind
Riders Of The Light
Fly Me To The Moon (∞ Climax Mix)
Let’s Dance Boys!

From Anarchy Reigns:
Sound The Alarm
Play My Ass Off
Here We Go
Asylum

From The Wonderful 101:
The Won-Stoppable Wonderful 100
ST01 Roll Out, Wonderful 100! Battle in the Blossom City Burbs
Tables Turn
ST04-1 Defend Neo Mu

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Interview with Saurian Dash (Part 2)

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Community, Games, PlatinumGames, The Wonderful 101

Hello all, and welcome to Part 2 of our interview with Saur, renowned for his in-depth action game analysis and tutorials.

Read Part 1 of the interview here .

6. From your perspective, how have games changed over the years?
As someone who loves deep game systems and challenging tests for the skills developed within these systems, I am very disappointed with the treatment of skill-focused games recently. I grew up playing arcade games: smaller, skill-focused games which you played over a long period of time to hone your skills. These were games which I always used to play with other people. It was the melting pot effect of many different people all bringing different personalities, techniques, and skills to the table which enriched the games we enjoyed and the community and friendship we developed around those games.

These days, however, especially in the case of single-player games, many titles are treated almost like passive entertainment. The “personal experience” of the game’s narrative is placed above the quality of the core gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good narrative. I play role playing games quite often and love losing myself in the lore of such games. However, I am seeing that time and time again really brilliant skill-focused games are completely misrepresented and misunderstood because they are being judged on the quality of their narrative experience instead of the quality of their skill-focused mechanics and how much scope these mechanics allow for creative challenges and player self-improvement. These days you will often hear the phrase “This game is xx hours long”. The “value” of a game is quantified based on the total length of its narrative, not on the depth of the game’s mechanics or how long it holds the player’s attention as they strive to perfect their skills. This, I believe, is an attitude which is very damaging to the gaming medium as a whole. Games can be so much more than vehicles to tell stories.

I understand that professional game reviewers today have a very large number of games to review and cannot take the time to completely learn a particular game system, and at the same time it is also not reasonable for a studio to entrust the communication of a brand new set of game mechanics to the gaming press. But I would love to ask both parties to consider the implications of this situation: games which truly raise the bar in terms of play mechanics are suffering in reviews and in sales. What is the point of employing talented game designers to build new, original, and exciting game mechanics if the gaming press, and by extension the gaming public who trust in the press to provide them with information on new games, are not giving mechanically deep games an analysis which respects the purpose of these games?

I believe there are a significant number of players who want to be mentally stimulated by games which treat them with respect, and are brave enough to challenge themselves to the edge of their ability so that their eventual success is more meaningful. The whole point of these games is to learn how to play them well – it is this journey which makes them so satisfying to play and makes sharing ideas with other players so much fun. I would humbly ask that professional reviewers please consider trying to engage in this journey of discovery – if you need any help along the way I would love to provide it!

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7. What do you feel is the most important aspect of an action game?
I believe the most important aspect of an action game is the way it respects and reflects the potential of the player. As such, I value a game system which allows the player to express their individual creativity and ingenuity. I love the idea of a game system which allows the player a great deal of freedom to develop their own unique style of play, then presents that player with a course designed outward from that core system to test the skills they have developed. I also believe the communication of hazards should be treated with the utmost care: the player should be able to develop a precise sense of the exact moment enemy attacks are triggered. To this end, clear audio/visual signposts are an absolute must. I especially love the idea of linking audio cues to the triggering of enemy attack signposts. With an audio cue in place, the player can know the exact moment an enemy attack is triggered, whether the attack is activated on or off-screen. I find I have the most fun when I achieve an acute sense of the precise amount I can push my attack before I need to take evasive action, and audio cues especially enable me to achieve that sense.

Of equal importance is to build an incentive into the game system to encourage the player to play well. Far too many games today have very simple game systems with no incentive whatsoever for the player to improve their competence within that system. The last thing I want to see after blundering through an enemy encounter is the equivalent of a perfect rank and praise for my valiant efforts! No, I want to be rewarded a genuine victory for learning how to overcome a challenge.

8. What do you look for in a sequel?
I find sequels most interesting when the game designers are allowed to iterate and evolve the systems they had previously designed, allowing the player to explore new ways to think about established concepts. With a new set of weapons, abilities, and enemies which have been designed outward from the newly evolved player system, a sequel can feel completely fresh and mentally stimulating.

9. Where will people be able to find your work in the future?
I am very surprised that so many people have found my work helpful! I have very little confidence in my ability, but I try my best because I love these games so much. Lately I have received a lot of support and encouragement from other players I have become acquainted with through mutual enjoyment of action games, and I would like to try and do my part to give something back to the gaming community. I want to really step up my video production, I want to cover more games more often, and finally learn how to work with a microphone for voiceovers. I have bought a camera, a decent microphone, audio interface and video capture equipment and everything I need to get started on this project. Please subscribe to https://www.youtube.com/user/Saur and stay tuned as I will have brand new content to present soon!

10. Your tutorial videos for The Wonderful 101 are a helpful resource for many new people getting into the game. Do you have anything similar planned for Bayonetta 2?
Thank you very much, I’m glad that people found them helpful. Ultimately I would love to fully cover the system mechanics and enemy strategies of Bayonetta 2. Perhaps a Bayonetta retrospective would be interesting in the lead-up to the release of the game’s sequel? It would be very interesting to start playing the game again from scratch to rediscover the brilliance of the game system and help other players to get the most out of it!

Saur, thanks very much for taking the time for this interview. We’re looking forward to your next video!

Check out Saur’s YouTube channel here.

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