Tag Archives: Double Fine

Naughty Dog wins everything (except for that Tim Schafer game) at DICE 2010

We knew Naughty Dog’s time was coming, but did the Santa Monica developer have to win 99% of the awards at the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards held at DICE 2010 in Las Vegas?

The answer is “yes.” Darn tooting. Naughty Dog is now officially in chapter 3 of its stunning career, the post Crash Bandicoot, post Jak and Daxter chapter, and it’s doing quite well, thank you. 

In addition to the AIAA award for best game of the year, the studio once known for its Crash Bandicoot games and now, clearly known for its Uncharted series, won nine others: Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction, Adventure Game of the Year, Outstanding Achievement in Animation, Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering, Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Story – Original, Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition, Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering, and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design.

Luckily, there were some other awards left, like sports, RPGs, and simulation. And hey, my other favorite games of the year, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Brutal Legend, took home awards, too.

One should put these awards in context of the bigger picture. You’ll notice there are almost no Japanese games included here. That’s because in order to become a contestant in a category, publishers have to pay a membership fee. I remember hearing my friend Matt Casamassina (from IGN) complain how Resident Evil 4, originally exclusive for GameCube, didn’t win in 2005 because Capcom wasn’t an AAIA member. Looks like Capcom remedied that issue since, as it won this year’s AIAA fighting game of the year award. So, yeah, the Annual Interactive Achievement Awards aren’t a good or complete global representation of all the games across the planet.

The full list of awards reads like this:

Game of the Year: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Producer: Sam Thompson
* Creative Director: Amy Hennig
* Game Director: Bruce Straley

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Producer: Sam Thompson
* Creative Director: Amy Hennig
* Game Director: Bruce Straley

Casual Game of the Year: Flower
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
* Developer: thatgamecompany
* Producer: Kellee Santiago
* Creative Director: Jenova Chen

Fighting Game of the Year: Street Fighter IV
* Publisher: Capcom
* Developer: Capcom
* Producer: Yoshinori Ono

Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year: Dragon Age: Origins
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: Bioware
* Producer: Mark Darrah
* Creative Director: Mike Laidlaw
* Game Director: Mark Darrah

Sports Game of the Year: FIFA Soccer 10
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: EA Canada
* Producer: David Rutter
* Creative Director: Gary Paterson
* Game Director: Kaz Makita

Racing Game of the Year: Forza Motorsport 3
* Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
* Developer: Turn 10 Studios
* Producer: Korey Krauskopf
* Creative Director: John Wendl
* Game Director: Dan Greenawalt

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design: Batman: Arkham Asylum
* Publisher: Eidos/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: Rocksteady Studios
* Lead Level Designer: Ian Ball

Adventure Game of the Year: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Producer: Sam Thompson
* Creative Director: Amy Hennig
* Game Director: Bruce Straley

Social Networking Game of the Year: Farmville
* Publisher: Zynga
* Developer: Zynga
* Producer: David Gray
* Creative Director: Mark Skaggs
* Game Director: Bill Mooney

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year: Brutal Legend
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: Double Fine Productions
* Producer: Caroline Esmurdoc
* Creative Director: Tim Schafer
* Game Director: Tim Schafer

Action Game of the Year: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
* Publisher: Activision
* Developer: Infinity Ward
* Producer: Mark Rubin
* Game Director: Jason West

Family Game of the Year: The Beatles: Rock Band
* Publisher: MTV Games
* Developer: Harmonix Music Systems
* Producers: Paul DeGooyer, Jeff Jones, Alex Rigopulos
* Creative Director: Chris Foster
* Game Director: Josh Randall

Outstanding Innovation in Gaming: Scribblenauts
* Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: 5th Cell Media
* Producer: Joseph M. Tringali
* Creative Director: Jeremiah Slaczka
* Game Director: Jeremiah Slaczka

Outstanding Achievement in Animation: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Lead Animators: Josh Scherr, Jeremy Lai-Yates, Mike Yosh

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Technology Director: Pal-Kristian Engstad

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Art Directors: Erick Pangilinan, Robh Ruppel

Outstanding Achievement in Story -Adapted: Batman: Arkham Asylum
* Publisher: Eidos/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: Rocksteady Studios
* Writers: Paul Dini, Paul Crocker

Outstanding Character Performance: Batman: Arkham Asylum – Joker
* Publisher: Eidos/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: Rocksteady Studios
* Writers: Paul Dini, Paul Crocker
* Voice Actor: Mark Hamill

Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
* Publisher: Activision
* Developer: Infinity Ward
* Lead Online Designer: Todd Alderman

Outstanding Achievement in Story – Original: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Writers: Amy Hennig, Neil Druckmann, Josh Scherr

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Composer: Greg Edmonson

Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack: Brutal Legend
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: Double Fine Productions
* Music Supervisor: Emily Ridgway

Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Lead Game Play Programmer: Travis McIntosh

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Sound Designer/Audio Lead: Bruce Swanson

Outstanding Achievement in Portable Game Design: Scribblenauts
* Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: 5th Cell Media
* Lead Level Designer: Matt Cox

Portable Game of the Year: Scribblenauts
* Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: 5th Cell Media
* Producer: Joseph M. Tringali
* Creative Director: Jeremiah Slaczka
* Game Director: Jeremiah Slaczka

Thanks to Gamasutra.com for the full list of winners.

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Brutal Legend Demo Slated for September

Electronic Arts today announced it will offer a free demo download of Brutal Legend on PSN and XBLA this September. Tim Schafer’s outrageous game is slated for October 13 in North America and October 16 in Europe.

If you value all that is right in this unholy world, you will download the metal goodness.

brutallegend_themouthofmadness_view

“We just couldn’t wait,” said Schafer, president of Double Fine Productions. “Villagers have surrounded our offices with torches, demanding the game. So we’re releasing a demo and hope that this taste of metal will keep the mob at bay until Brutal Legend comes out this Rocktober.”

For more on the Brutal Legend demo, go to brutallegend.com/demo.

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Brutal Legend Multiplayer Hands-on

You’ve heard the rants from what you think are extreme fanboys. Seen the accolades laid upon a studio that seems to take forever–four years–just to make a single game. And witnessed the drama from Microsoft’s punt of Psychonauts to Activision’s trite and meaningless lawsuit (recently settled out of court). It’s all a bit crazy, but in truth there is a reason for all the fuss: It’s a Tim Schafer game.

brutallegend_battlecry

In San Francisco last week at the Mighty Club, Schafer and Double Fine debuted a hands-on session of Brutal Legend’s multiplayer component, a distillation of the story campaign’s big band battles including all of the strange characters and vehicles from the single-player game and its strangely unique RTS gameplay. We got to play it. Hear Schafer narrative a demo, and watch the strangest looking RTS the world has ever known.

See the full hands-on preview on GamesRadar.com. And make sure to check the full 100-plus song list revealed here.

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Brutal Legend’s Eddie Riggs Gets Demonic

Eddie in hie new form, Ophelia, Mangus, and Lars (you know that's Robert Plant).

Eddie in his new form, Ophelia, Mangus, and Lars.

Every time I see Brutal Legend demoed, and it’s three times now, Double Fine Studios reveals something far more interesting and surprising than I expected.

The assumption I am making, of course, is that Tim Schafer makes really funny, well-written, and entertaining games, but that as games, the mechanics and technology behind them aren’t always on par with the high level of hilarity, premise, or dialogue. I still haven’t played Brutal Legend yet, but not only is the concept extremely creative, and the dialogue funny, but each new demo I attend reveals new gameplay elements, like massive army battles, new gameplay elements, and surprising twists.

The Roadie from Hell

The first twist is that yes, the wild, big-fisted, square-jawed Jack Black dude turns into a bat from hell. Just look at him.

His transformation isn’t sexual or mystical or spiritual, like Raziel from Legacy of Kain’s Soul Reaver. No, during a scene that introduces the battle of the bands on a huge grassy meadow where Eddie is organizing troops, he suddenly falls in his knees in pain. “Ohhhh, my back,” he says. Ophelia looks at him and asks what’s wrong. Nonchalantly, he simply gets up and says “It’s nothing,” as if that always happens. That’s a little foreshadowing, of course.

Quite quickly, we learn it’s not just a backache. Deeper into the battle of the bands scene, Eddie falls down again, but this time he won’t just brush off the pain. Instead, he transforms. Dark purple-black bat-like wings sprout from his back, his skin deepens in color, and his eyes turn yellow. Eddie responds as if he’d always kinda wanted wings. “Cool! I’ve got wings! But don’t worry about it darling,” he says again to Ophelia. “I’m still the same me!”

And they say looks are deceiving.

My guess is that Eddie is the reincarnation of one of the Metal Gods brought back to life to save the Land of Metal, and he just doesn’t know it. Just a wild speculation, of course; but after having seen a jillion movies and played a more jillion games, I’m guessing this isn’t his last transformation.

Eddie wields the Separator to cleave his enemies.

Eddie wields the Separator to cleave his enemies.

Staging the Battle of the Bands

Following my earlier preview (on GameDaily), in which I detailed Eddie Riggs’ fighting techniques and the game’s combat moves, this preview explores how Schafer’s latest demo opens up into massive real-time strategy battles.

Once Eddie has freed the head bangers from the mines, and Ophelia has freed all the chicks (you were wondering where, in the Era of Metal, all the chicks were, right?) from the evil Pleasure Tower, he, rebel leader Lars, Ophelia, and Lars’ sister form a big enough resistance to confront Emperor Doviculous in the first of several massive land battles.

They recruit all sorts of strangers, such as Mangus, a stoner stage technician who helps build a heavy metal-themed stage, and form a battle plan. In the giant meadow Eddie sizes up his army of Head Bangers (short-range fighters) and Runaways (long-distance fighter “chicks”), and creates an assortment or weapons to further explore the “metal as power” metaphor. Remember Eddie’s hot rod, the Deuce? Eddie builds a massive hot rod–a tour bus–to help wage his war.

Behold--it's a fan geyser.

Behold--it's a fan geyser.

Then he looks out across the meadow and notices it’s peppered with dried up geysers. I believe that in order to activate these geysers, Eddie must play a guitar solo, which plays like the simplified Guitar Hero mechanic on screen, to summon the power of “the fans.”

The fans, in this case, are a tappable raw power, sort of like ore, wood, or coal in an RTS game. Once summoned, the lifeless meadow’s geysers burst with the ghostly white flow of “the fans.” Without missing a cue, Schafer then points out how building “merch” (merchandizing) booths will keep the fans happy and flowing.

Battle for BladeHenge and the Blowjob Leeches

Once you’ve organized your Headbangers, Runaways, and built your Thunderhogs and Tour Buses, and outrageous stage, summoned “the fans,” sprouted wings and learned to fly, you are ready to fight General LionWhyte and his army of equally bad-ass dudes.

General LionWhyte is the evil...super lame '80s hairband guy. Wait 'til you hear his voice.

General LionWhyte is the evil...super lame '80s hairband guy. Wait 'til you hear his voice.

Eddie and the headbangers cause a ruckus.

Eddie and the headbangers cause a ruckus.

Like it or not in our society, the color black usually represents evil and white stands for good. But that’s not the case in Brutal Legend. Black is the color of metal, after all. So when the evil General LionWhyte shows up to confront the resistance, he isn’t an evil, black, demonic looking dude at all. He’s an ’80s hair-band leader, decked out in white skin-tight leotards with black dots, and has the biggest most heinous hair you’ve ever seen. His hair isn’t just a prop, mind you. His hair is his means of flight. I cannot convey how utterly silly and likable this scene is, but let me just say, his voice and manner equally match the ridiculousness of his hair. His followers, you’ll also notice, are equally flamboyant, a not-so-subtle jab at ’80s hair bands.

When the fight begins, you realize why Eddie’s wings are important. With the ability to fly, he can quickly transport across the battlefield to counter attacks, wipe out losing fights, or take on Doviculous. In conjunction with flight, the first three Dpad commands (left to follow, down to hold, up to attack a specific object) are followed by the fourth one, right, which sets a beacon, calling all forces to swarm to it.

How else can one stop the fans? Fan Leeches, of course.

How else can one stop the fans? Fan Leeches, of course.

You’ll command your forces to various areas on the map, fight enemies with your axe and guitar, fly around and be a bad-ass, and finally, counter Lionwhyte’s overtly, hilariously, hard-to-ignore sex, erm… fan leeches. Yes, it’s hard to turn away from the male-female mechanics here, so let’s just call it what it is: a Blowjob Leech. Remember the flowing fans gushing forth from the geysers? Well, Lionwhyte has a counter enemy, giant flying leeches which look, yes, like giant leeches. These creatures have a massive mouth, wings, and fly vertically. Their only purpose, it seems, is to suck the white flowing fan fluid out of the geysers. And, just like black is not evil in Brutal Legend, it’s your job to prevent these leeches from doing their “jobs.” Otherwise, the fans will dry up!  Dear lord, how much fun is Schafer having with this game?

During the fight, when you’re not busy looking for the flood of metal and sexual metaphors, you’re fighting the good resistance battle. Being your first big battle, you’ll have the ability to direct your army types, or all of them together, call upon Mangus to fuel more merch power or whatever, and use your guitar to pull off crazy magic attacks. Eddie’s solos summon the Face Melter attack, the Make the Sun Rise attack, and the Chains Come Off attack. Each one is summoned with little Guitar Hero-like mini-games (which appear on screen horizontally like a little musical chart). Additionally, you can use your troops to fight in various ways, such as forming a “mosh pit” around you for protection.

This all appears in what looks to be the first hour or two of the game!

I still haven’t played this game yet, so I cannot describe the exact mechanics, but I will say that from what I have seen, my early assumption could be off base. If the game is as much fun to play as it is to watch, Brutal Legend surely will be a fantastic new game in Schafer’s growing repertoire.

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Brutal Legend Preview

The evil mines are guarded by these ham-fisted baddies, who are all bark and no bite.

The evil mines are guarded by these ham-fisted "bouncers," who are all bark and no bite.

I posted a detailed preview of Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend on GameDaily.com last week…

“Tim Schafer always looks like he’s having fun. At EA’s Spring Break event in early April, the curly-locked and bearded Schafer manned a mic and led a throng of drooling journalists through an eyes-on presentation of his latest creation, Brutal Legend, due on PS3 and Xbox 360 this Roctober. (Sorry, it’s now officially Rocktober, Tim said so.)”

Check out the rest HERE and see the latest trailer.

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Brutal Legend Ships October 13

brutallegend_0421

Electronic Arts today announced it will ship Double Fine’s Brutal Legend October 13 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It will ship in Europe October 16.

Have you ever taken a good look at that lead character? Yes, he looks a little like Jack Black, but doesn’t he also look like Tim Schafer?timschafer_11

Ah, yes. Now you see it.

“Wooo! Having an official release date is awesome!” said Tim Schafer, President of Double Fine Productions. “And how cool is it that EA threw down the dough to have the name of an entire month changed to Rocktober?”

I’m not going to re-write this game description for you because I just ate lunch and I’m feeling slow. So here is what EA says this game is…

“Brütal Legend tells the tale of Eddie Riggs, played by Jack Black. The ultimate roadie, Eddie is the first person anyone calls when they need guitars tuned or stages rigged, and has a love for hot rods and a photographic memory for every Heavy Metal album cover, and the lyrics those albums contained. One night, a stage accident knocks Eddie unconscious, and he awakens in a world that looks very strange yet oddly familiar, a world where every Heavy Metal album cover and lyric Eddie knows has come to life, and where the evil emperor Doviculus and his demon army, The Tainted Coil, have enslaved the last remaining humans. When an oppressed people request Eddie’s knowledge of modern warfare, he pulls from his own experience in the only occupation he’s ever had, a roadie for a Heavy Metal band, and under his command, this barbaric force of hot-rods, Marshall stacks, leather, and chrome will bring this ancient world into the age of Metal.”

Go to Brutal Legend’s newly re-done Website to get free stuff–images, movies, concept art and “exclusive blogs” (Huh? Do those two words together make any sense??!!). Then check GDC 09: The Brutal Art of a Legend for images and a story on Lee Petty’s GDC session on the game’s art designs.

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GDC 09 Art: The Brutal Art of a Legend

At GDC 09, Lee Petty, the art director for Brutal Legend, gave an inspired, energetic talk on how the art of his team is grappling with the creation of art in Double Fine’s upcoming metal-powered game, Brutal Legend.

Brutal Legend is an action-adventure game combining massive open-world conflicts with a strange blend of musical actions, and of all things, driving gameplay. Players step into the shoes of a Jack Black-voice-over character, complete with belly, sideburns, and oogly eyes, and confront the visually arresting, organic world of metal. In truth, the lead character looks like a blend between Jack Black and Tim Schafer.

I captured a few shots from Petty’s slideshow presentation from the conference to show what some of the art looks like.

What I especially like about this conference was how rowdy, supportive, and enthusiastic this crowd was for Petty’s presentation. The entire presentation was interrupted with hoots and screams from the filled-to-capacity room. After having attended this meeting, it’s clear to me that the attending game developers see Tim Schaefer and his team at Double Fine as heroes of independent development.

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