Bungie’s Destiny is powered by Umbra

Bungie’s upcoming scifi-shooter Destiny will use Umbra’s Umbra 3 technology, the Finnish software developer has announced.

Umbra 3 is the latest product in a series of visibility solutions. The middleware boosts graphics performance with automatic occluder generation and software-based occlusion culling, and has been used in such titles as Mass Effect 3, Alan Wake and Guild Wars 2.

According to Umbra, the company has been working closely with Bungie, and many of Umbra 3’s features were developed with feedback from Bungie’s engineering team.

The long-rumored Destiny was announced last Sunday. The game is currently in development for PS3 and Xbox 360, though other platforms are also a possibility.

Reto-Moto: Always under development

The online game Heroes & Generals is one of the most ambitious Danish games ever to be developed – and it all started with a bald assassin.

Way back in the nineties, Danish game developer Reto-Moto was part of the foundation that IO Interactive sprung from leveraging the company to international success and fame. A few years ago, a group of game developers decided to reform Reto-Moto and embark on the very ambitious WW2 online shooter/strategy game Heroes & Generals.

We met up with Level Designer and cofounder Peter Fleckenstein to get the inside story on what is happening at Copenhagen based Reto-Moto.

MCV: What were the reasons for reforming Reto-Moto as a game developer?

PF: After some successful years at IO Interactive we felt like getting back to basics. IO was a wonderful place to work – but the dream of creating a new, small studio with focus on online gaming was strong, and we started with 12 guys – former founders of IO and some core employees.

MCV: Who are these 12 guys and how is the ownership of Reto-Moto set up?

PF: The partner group consisted of five former founders of IO Interactive, six key employees and our former executive producer from Eidos. Now four years later, we are still nine partners working full time at Reto-Moto. The partners own approximately half of the shares in the company, and the rest of the shares are owned by private investors.

MCV: What are you capable of doing at Reto-Moto that you could not do at IO Interactive?

PF: The main difference is the way we distribute the game. IO was a classic boxed-game developer, and in that model we did not have any contact with the ones playing the game at all. We wanted to create a company and a game where the community would play a significant part in the development. We listen to them, discuss with them – and we try to involve them as much as possible in the development process.

MCV: How is Reto-Moto financed?

PF: Reto-Moto is financed by both the partners and some strong, private investors. We actually had an almost signed deal with some international investors – but the deal just went down the drain, and we were self-financed for over a year. The interest from investors was good, but the game business is indeed high-risk investment, and the global fiscal crisis decreased the willingness to do high-risk investments for many investors. We were finally approached by some private Danish investors who knew about the company, and they are still on board.

MCV: What would an elevator pitch on Heroes & Generals sound like?

PF: Heroes & Generals is a Free2Play Massive Online FPS with a Strategic Multiplayer Campaign taking place in the European theatre of war during WWII. Players can play both as ‘Heroes’ in the FPS action game or manage battlefield assets, army units and reinforcements as ‘Generals’.The game is fought out continuously across Windows, iOS and Android devices, and the result of every battle alters the scope of the ongoing war campaign and affects the final outcome.

MCV: The game seems very ambitious and something that could easily in up in an eternal beta test?

PF: In my mind the game is always under development – but not just in Beta. When we remove the Beta tag, the mechanics work, the game is balanced, the monetization makes sense etc. But we will continuously deliver both smaller feature packs and larger expansion packs. Second World War was also fought in the Pacific, in the African desert, in Russia, in the North Sea, in Norway etc. and also consisted of several more factions, like the British, Russian, Italian and even partisans and resistance movements. So as you might imagine it is not ideas that we are in lack of.

MCV: What is the business model of Heroes & Generals put together?

PF: Heroes & Generals is, as mentioned, Free2Play so everybody can sign up and just start to play the game without paying a single dime. That would be as a standard Infantry Soldier, and while playing you will earn ‘Credits’. These can be spent on purchasing and upgrading weapons, buying new soldier types or strategic Assault Teams. You can also accelerate the earnings by using real money to buy Gold Coins which can be exchanged to Credits.

Our F2P model has two dimensions, the usual ‘Personal F2P’ where coins are spent on your own character – but in our case we are adding something we call ‘Social F2P’. Players can choose to upgrade their Assault Teams with e.g. thicker armour, more powerful mounted MG’s, better food, etc. so other FPS players benefits from this if they join a battle with an upgraded Assault Team. Stats and Rewards as a ‘General’ will get better according to how you manage your Assault Team and how they are doing in the action game. It is like buying new training suits and boots for your local football team – you get credits in the local community and pats on the shoulder.

MCV: A F2P model like that might take a bit of time to pay off. What are Reto-Moto’s financial horizons?

PF: Right now, we are in Closed Beta, and we are working intensively on our monetization model and assets. Of course, it will take some time, and of course it is still not profitable. But players are actually already using their credit cards and PayPal accounts for purchasing Gold Coins. Every day, our user base grows, and money earned are used for continuous development. We are never going to stop developing content for this game!

Be DICEs BFF – get a unique dogtag

The lastest MP update for Battlefield 3 introduced the DICE Friends dogtag – but how do you get it?

In a clever community building move, DICE introduced a new dogtag to their enormously popular Battlefield 3 – the DICE Friends dogtag. This dogtag is only awarded to selected members of the community who crate outstanding content and who have supported the community and DICE throughout the years. And not just in Battlefield 3, this can be in any Battlefield title.

“These dogtags can only be received through recommendations by other people and/or what we have seen so far from you in the community,” says Daniel Matros, Global Battlefield Community Manager, to MCV Nordic. “If you want to recommend someone, please hit us up on twitter, forums or anywhere you see fit. Of course we will need material in order to decide whether this person is worthy of the tag or not. We are rolling out the first batch of these dogtags later this week for 20 people. After that, we will take a look at more names and successfully add those to our DICE Friends dogtag list.”

Daniel also gave us a short list of things that might net you one of these elusive dogtags:

  • Mods
  • Videos
  • Apps
  • Stats sites
  • Websites
  • Newsposts
  • Forum moderators (Only official channels)
  • Community spokespeople
  • Community organizers

So anyone who really wants to stand out by sporting a super exclusive dogtag in-game had better get cracking on the next ‘guy shooting down a jet with a rocket launcher in mid-air’ video.

Why is Nintendo not at Gamescom?

As most of you know by now, Nintendo is not attending this year’s Gamescom in Köln, Europe’s biggest games show.

We thought this might be related to the rumors surrounding the release of the Wii U, Nintendo’s upcoming new console. The latest buzz seems to be that it will release in November in the USA, though rumors are less specific about when it will hit in Europe. We asked Bergsala, who represent Nintendo in the Nordic region, and they said that they never comment on rumors, as per Nintendo guidelines. We didn’t think they would. Instead we asked why Nintendo, and thus Bergsala, is not present at Gamescom this year.

“Whilst Gamescom is a fantastic show,” Bergsala PR Manager Patrik Johansson tells MCV Nordic, “Nintendo has taken the decision not to attend this year’s event. Instead Nintendo is planning a number of sampling events later this year inline with the European Marketing-, PR- and Event-activities in which Nintendo´s fans will have the opportunity to play upcoming games.  Further details will be announced soon.”

So there you have it. Or rather, there you don’t have it, Nintendo isn’t talking, and we still don’t know when the Wii U will be out. We’ll have to hope that their traditional pre-Tokyo Game Show (another show that Nintendo, in spite of being Japanese, traditionally does not attend) press conference will contain those details.

MineCon 2012 is over

The Minecraft convention, MineCon 2012, was held at Disneyland Paris this year, and is now over.

The convention introduced some new details, and apart from the information on the long-awaited modding API, the most interesting were those about the upcoming update, 1.5, or the ‘Redstone update’ as it’s been called.

The update should be out in January 2013, and includes some weird and wonderful new uses for the Redstone ore, which lets you build various electronic circuits and connections in the game. The redstone signal will now have variable strength, and there will be a capacitor block that lets you build more advanced circuits – you’ll have to mine in the Nether for it, though, if you’re playing in Survival mode.

The update also includes better minecarts, a daylight detector and a whole load of bug fixes. For more info, keep an eye on the official Minecraft page over the next two months.

Bach new (temporary) DICE CEO

Swedens largest developer DICE temporarily changed their CEO, with former senior producer Patrick Bach stepping up to fill his colleague Karl Magnus Troedsson’s shoes while the latter is claiming his paternity leave. If the move seems somewhat surprising for people outside the company, DICE has a policy that encourages employees to stay at home with their newborn.

“I think it is a bit unique at a big company and certainly in the gaming industry, but we want the people working at DICE to see their job as a long time investment,” says Bach.

Patrick Bach, who will hold the position for about four months, claims that the gaming industry in general is short-sighted when it comes to the attitude towards employees and that a policy similar to DICE’s is beneficial for the entire industry. The new CEO also points out that things will be pretty much business as usual at DICE, despite the change in his role.

“We will be trying to spread out the tasks of the CEO on a number of people. I will of course be responsible for the results but we will split the daily tasks.”

The release of Battlefield 3 was mainly a great success and the effects of it can be felt around the office, according to Bach.

“The spirits are really high and we are very excited that the game was so successful, as we laid a lot on the line for it.”

Patrick Bach will now be monitoring the work of putting together Battlefield 3:s second DLC, called Close Quarters.