When it launches this holiday, Xbox Series X will be the most powerful console the world has ever seen.

One of the biggest benefits of all that power is giving developers the ability to make games that are Xbox Series X Optimized. This means that they’ve taken full advantage of the unique capabilities of Xbox Series X, both for new titles built natively using the Xbox Series X development environment as well as previously released titles that have been rebuilt specifically for the console. In our Inside Xbox Series X Optimized series, these creators will share the behind-the-scenes accounts of how they’re optimizing their titles for Xbox Series X and what that means for the future of gaming. Today, we’ll be chatting with Jacek Zięba, Producer at Bloober Team about optimizing The Medium for Xbox Series X.

Q: “What excites you most about developing and bringing The Medium to life on next-generation hardware?”

A: The simple answer is that thanks to the next-generation hardware, we can realize our vision for The Medium at all. Of course, theoretically, you could rescope any game idea, but in our case it would mean completely changing the core game features.

Thanks to the power of Xbox Series X, we can develop the game the way we have always envisioned it. I’m not talking only about graphics, although certainly it helps create an immersive and disturbing atmosphere, but also about gameplay.

Q: In addition to benefiting from the power and performance of Xbox Series X for quicker load times etc. what Xbox Series X features were you most excited to explore leveraging in the development of The Medium?

A: The SSD and how it allows for no noticeable loading times is certainly a big deal for us. Thanks to it, you can create a more cinematic and atmospheric experience, and keep the player immersed in the game – with no immersion-breaking loading screens.

Also, the sheer power of the CPU and GPU lets you go a bit crazy with your gameplay ideas, and we believe the new hardware will quickly change how games are being designed.

Q: How will these enhancements impact a player’s experience with The Medium?

A: We’re putting a lot of effort into creating a heavy, disturbing atmosphere in the game. We’re using a variety of means to immerse the player into both our worlds, including music and environment, and thanks to no loading screens these methods are so much more effective. Before, it was a bit of an uphill battle to keep the game immersive and cinematic despite obvious breaks, and now the next generation simply makes that problem go away.

Q: Why did your development team choose to focus on 4K resolution and DirectX Raytracing as enhancement areas for The Medium?

A: These are the features that fits our game and its genre the best. The 4K resolution helps us showcase the art style and environment of the real and the spirit world, while Ray-tracing will add to the atmosphere of the game. In other words, these features make the game’s strengths shine even brighter.

Q: How do you expect fans of The Medium will respond to playing it on Xbox Series X with these enhancements?

A: I hope they will love it 🙂 Unlike many cross-gen titles revealed so far, The Medium is a next-gen only game. We don’t have any porting plans for current-gen consoles, so the Xbox Series X will offer the experience we always meant for the game.

Q: What is it like developing on Xbox Series X?

A: It’s really exciting to be one of the first studios developing for Xbox Series X. This is truly a great piece of hardware, one that enables us to realize our vision of the game without compromises. I can’t wait for the fans to see what the console is really capable of.

Q: Which enhancement were you most excited about to explore leveraging for The Medium on Xbox Series X?

A: We’re heavily using the CPU and GPU for the interactions between the real world and the spirit world. We have still much to reveal about The Medium, including one of our core gameplay features. The marketing team will kill me if I say too much too soon, but we’re using the extra power to really push what’s possible gameplay-wise on the next generation, and I simply can’t wait for players’ reactions.

Q: What does Xbox Series X/next-generation development enable in current or future projects that you could not have achieved with the current generation of consoles?

A: As in the example with loading times, the next generation removes obstacles that until now consumed development time and resources. Now developers can devote more attention to creative gameplay. I also strongly believe that as we see more games developed specifically for the new generation, genuine breakthroughs and innovations will shortly follow.

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The Enslaved Grisha boss fight in Mortal Shell

When creating a Soulslike, a developer has two options. The first is to innovate on the formula in a way that makes your game memorable. The other is to simply pull off the formula so well that you become remembered not for new ideas, but for refining old ones. In many ways, Mortal Shell, the inaugural project from developer Cold Symmetry, represents the best parts of both of those approaches.

Read this article on TechRaptor

Neat Corporation’s Budget Cuts originally released in 2018 for Steam and Oculus. It won’t be long before the unique stealth title comes to the PlayStation VR, too. Budget Cuts will arrive on Sony’s VR platform in a couple of months on September 25th. Better still, Neat Corporation plans to launch Budget Cuts with the all-new Panopticon level.

An action-adventure stealth experience, Budget Cuts places players in the roll of a TransCorp employee. The protagonist performs grunt work for the mega conglomerate, filing papers and so on. However, such a role becomes redundant thanks to the advent of “cost-cutting robots.” After seeing yet another colleague dragged away to Human Resources, the player-character must fend for themselves, stealthily maneuvering through the office space to dispatch “deadly robot hunters.” The character’s weapon of choice, letter openers, should make disabling foes that much easier.

A PlayStation Blog post from Game Designer Olle Axelsson notes Budget Cuts is replete with content. The main story campaign boasts hours of gameplay that will see players explore offices, mail rooms, and factories. Puzzles, stealth and action mechanics, a boss fight, and a variety of collectibles should make the overall package worthwhile.

In designing the new Panopticon level, Neat Corporation emphasized the “importance of choice.” As such, players have a clear goal ahead of them–entering a circular green room in the map’s center. Players can either navigate the path with brute force or take on a more stealthy approach. Of course, the Panopticon name guarantees the primary goal always sits center-stage, informing the level’s “radial layout.”

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

The post Save Your Job in Stealth Game Budget Cuts, Due to Hit PlayStation VR in September appeared first on PlayStation LifeStyle.

Sony’s Visual Arts Development Studio–the “secret” San Diego team believed to be working on a new Uncharted entry–recently attracted new talent. Apparently, the recruit is Zak Oliver, a former Environment Artist for Naughty Dog who worked on the studio’s last four projects, including The Last of Us Part II. According to Oliver’s newly updated LinkedIn page, he left Naughty Dog in June and soon thereafter joined the San Diego team in question as a Senior Environment Artist.

Oliver’s hiring seems to add more fuel to the rumors that suggest the San Diego studio is hard at work on another Uncharted project. While there exists no undeniable proof that Uncharted counts as the team’s first game, there’s plenty to suggest it will serve as another narrative-focused adventure for Sony’s catalogue. This most notably holds true given a job listing from late 2018, wherein Sony sought out a Lead Character Artist in San Diego for the “next chapter of cinematic storytelling.”

Word about this not-so-secretive studio first began making the rounds in April 2018. This information also entered public consciousness thanks to a job listing posted by the publisher. At the time, it was merely known that Sony was in search of a Gameplay Engineer for a team created alongside the Visual Arts Service Group (VASG). In particular, VASG’s specialty is in animation and motion capture. The crew has most notably taken part in the production of exclusives like Death Stranding, God of War, and Uncharted.

When Sony intends to unveil its secretive San Diego-based team remains to be seen.

[Source: Zak Oliver’s LinkedIn via PlayStation Universe]

The post Sony’s Secret Studio in San Diego Recruits Former Naughty Dog Artist appeared first on PlayStation LifeStyle.

Tencent‘s continued rise to prominence in gaming is picking up steam once more with the announcement of a new LA-based studio. The developer, LightSpeed LA, sits beneath the umbrella of Tencent’s Lightspeed and Quantum subsidiary. Upon setting up shop in Orange County, LightSpeed LA aims to begin work on producing AAA games for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X platforms. Quite the talent is heading up Tencent’s new venture, too–Rockstar Games alum Steve Martin, who served as a Studio Director and Producer across multiple high-profile projects, GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2 included.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, Martin will assume the role of LightSpeed LA’s Studio Head and Executive Producer of Development. A team of developers are already on board, a number of whom have previously worked at 2K Games, Insomniac Games, Respawn Entertainment, and Rockstar Games.

Martin, in a statement, shared plans to develop a studio culture that is free from stress and crunch. The Studio Head’s comments on the matter read in part,

We’re ushering a new era of game culture by combining world-class development with a stress-free work environment. From day one, our teams will be focused on building the highest caliber games while promoting integrity, proactivity, collaboration, and creativity.

Details about what LightSpeed LA will develop first are sparse at best. However, the studio teased its debut project will be an open-world title for next-gen consoles.

Tencent has been in and out of the news for much of this year. In January, the Chinese conglomerate invested in PlatinumGames, a move allowing the Bayonetta creators to fully explore self-publishing. Tencent recently invested funds in Yager, too, the studio best known for its incredible work on Spec Ops: The Line. And, according to developer OtherSide, Tencent will prove integral to the future of the System Shock franchise.

[Source: GamesIndustry.biz]

The post Tencent Opens LA-Based Studio to Make AAA Titles for Next-Gen Platforms appeared first on PlayStation LifeStyle.

According to a new article from Hollywood Reporter, the Switch shoot ’em up game My Friend Pedro is getting its own TV series. David Kolstad, the co-creator of John Wick, will act as a writer and executive producer. Legendary Entertainment, DJ2 Entertainment, and 87North Productions are behind the adaptation. Hollywood Reporter says “the game will become an R-rated, half-hour dramedy…

The post My Friend Pedro getting TV series from John Wick co-creator appeared first on Nintendo Everything.

This week Joel, Ben, and special guest Logan Myer discuss their thoughts on The Last of Us Part II. This is a spoiler-heavy discussion from start to finish so if you have not finished the game, we recommend waiting until you complete Naughty Dog’s latest before listening. Each week, Joel and Ben discuss the biggest …

The Last of Us Part II Spoilercast | Final Checkpoint Podcast Ep. 43 Read More »

The post https://thegamefanatics.com/the-last-of-us-part-ii-spoilercast-final-checkpoint-podcast-ep-43/ appeared first on The Game Fanatics,.

Hey everyone, along with the rest of Sucker Punch, I am SO thrilled that Ghost of Tsushima will be in your hands soon. A lot of people have been asking about the game’s soundtrack and it is something the whole studio is really excited to share, so I wanted to talk a little bit about the music, the composers, and the process of creating this amazing score.

As is customary, when we first started fleshing out the world of Ghost of Tsushima, we would pull temporary music from film, TV, and other games that inspired us and presented the feeling and tone we were after. There were two composers whose work really stood out that we kept coming back to as we fleshed out more of the world and the story — Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru “Ume” Umebayashi. As we continued to be moved by their music during early development, we knew we wanted both of them to compose for Ghost.

You may be wondering why we chose to have two composers score the game. First off, Ghost of Tsushima is BIG. There is a lot of content and we knew we would need a lot of music to fill the world and support the evolution of Jin’s journey from samurai to the Ghost. Secondly, when done properly, having multiple voices sculpting the score can weave a more diverse and elaborate musical tapestry for the game’s story and action to sit upon. Ilan and Ume both brought something very special to the score that we used to craft the emotional backbone of the entire world: from the story to combat to exploring the island.

In our very first prototype, we created a small mission where you got on a horse, rode across a scenic expanse, and fought a mongol warlord inside a Japanese fort. We used a track from one of Ilan’s film scores for the horse ride section and the entire studio reacted to it electrically. This relatively mundane action took on an epic, emotional quality in large part due to this beautiful piece of music. Ilan has written scores for movies including Coriolanus, 47 Ronin, and Stardust, video games like The Sims franchise, and other cool projects including the European Space Agency’s Principia mission. The thing that struck us about his music was its strong melodic content and often unique instrumentation choices. We knew our score had to be heavily melodic and emotional to properly convey the story of Jin Sakai and the people of Tsushima, so Ilan seemed like a natural fit. We asked him to focus on crafting the character melodies and themes, and he immediately immersed himself in traditional Japanese instruments and musical scales. 

To tell you more about his music, we wanted to invite Ilan to share some words about his creative process in composing for Ghost: 

From the first moment of the first meeting, I realised that Ghost was about a very powerful emotional journey. The team at Sucker Punch and PlayStation were inspiring and generous with their creativity so I immediately knew that I was going to love working on the game.

Jin’s theme, “The Way of the Ghost,” was one of the very first pieces I wrote. Usually productions are ready for music after everyone else has been working on the game. As much as you might understand the story, it always takes time to really get under the skin and appreciate the depth of well written characters and story. While some of my first sketches evolved, this theme really stuck. It’s all about how the people of Tsushima see him. He is their hero: strong, infallible, inspiring and full of hope, but what really fascinated me about Jin is the contrast of what is going on inside him. In order to save his home and the people he loves he must go against everything he was taught to believe in and break the code of the Samurai. Throughout the game, Jin is a character in deep emotional conflict and this, above all else, is what drew me to Ghost.

The historical setting is fascinating. I began to study ancient Japanese music, folk songs, court music, sacred music and taiko, as well as the different pentatonic scales used in Japanese music. It is a very rich world full of a lifetime’s worth of exploration. In the game’s score I used Shakuhachi, Koto, Shamisen, Taiko Drums and Chants, and my favourite discovery, Biwa. The Biwa is an instrument that Samurai used to play and the art of it was almost lost — there are now only a few players in the world! Luckily, I was able to find one of them to play on Ghost. It’s a really special sound and you can hear it on “The Heart of the Jito.” 

I wanted to create an emotional world that would not only support the narrative and action beats of the game, but I hope it also completely draws the player into the heart and soul of Jin’s emotional journey.    

Taiko ensemble – Photo by Peter Scaturro

As for Shigeru Umebayashi, his catalogue of work is too immense to list, but some of his scores include House of Flying Daggers, True Legend, and The Grandmaster. What we continually got when pulling from Ume’s past scores was that sense of place. His music helped transport us back in time and halfway across the globe. It was truly magical and we knew that we really wanted him to help craft the sonic landscape of our world. We asked Ume to start sketching some themes focusing on the natural beauty of the world we were building. He really dug into the emotional arc of the world and developed a suite of themes based on some key words which were representative of the gamut Jin would experience: Serenity, Occupation, Exile, Haunting, and Sanctuary.

To share a little bit more about how he approached the themes for the open world, here is Ume:

I was born in Kita-Kyushu city, which is physically close to the island of Tsushima.  However, I have never been there personally, and I was not very familiar with the history of Tsushima before working on this game. Having joined this project, I think it would be a great opportunity to visit.

When I was composing music for the game, I was inspired by Japan’s nature, climate, traditional lifestyle, and classical Japanese music. My compositions feature various Japanese instruments, including shakuhachi, koto, and Japanese taiko.  But the instruments are nothing without the players.  For me, I view musicians as crucial avatars of myself. They materialize the music that I envision and want to tell, delivering it to the listeners.  Without this collaboration, I would merely be a street musician who nobody listens to.    

When listeners hear the music for the game, I hope that they feel the hearts of the people of Tsushima – those who love the land, living and plowing with the natural bounties it offers, and those of the warriors who take their katanas and follow the way of the samurai.

Recording at Abbey Road Studios – Photo by Peter Scaturro

Recording was truly a global undertaking, combining input from the composers, Sucker Punch and PlayStation’s internal music department. We recorded strings and brass in London at Abbey Road and Air Studios in addition to soloists and traditional Japanese instruments like koto and shakuhachi. We recorded additional solo traditional instruments including shamisen, percussion and shakuhachi and a taiko ensemble in Tokyo, as well as Buddhist monks from the Honjyuji and Myounji temples who provided chanting for the score. In Los Angeles, we were fortunate enough to enlist the talents of famed Tuvan musician Radik Tyulyush to record Mongolian chants and traditional instruments, and Doctor Osamu Kitajima helped us with recording even more Japanese solo instruments including biwa.

Shamisen, Sound City, Tokyo – Photo by Peter Scaturro

The last steps were for our wizards on the music team to take the score and deconstruct it into layered chunks which they then implemented into our music system to handle playback in-game based on player action, difficulty, and intensity.

The end result is a powerful, evocative score that brings to life the world of 13th century Tsushima and Jin’s difficult path from samurai to Ghost. Check out the short excerpts below and we really look forward to bringing you the rest of the score and the game on July 17. 

The official game soundtrack will be released by Milan Records on July 17 on all digital platforms and as a two-CD set. You can pre-order here, and all pre-orders of the digital soundtrack include an instant download of the track, “The Way of the Ghost (feat. Clare Uchima).” A vinyl edition will be coming in the future.

Thank you for reading and listening. We hope to share more exciting details about the sound of Ghost of Tsushima in the future! 

Hello! It’s the beginning of July, which means it’s time to look back at the best games of June.

Polls will open as you’re reading this, and we’ll keep them up until Sunday night. Next week, we’ll tally the votes and reveal the winner as an update to this post.

So get in there, help decide the best new game of June 2020, and let us know how you voted in the comments. See you next week!

How does it work? At the end of every month, PlayStation.Blog will open a poll where you can vote for the best new game released that month. Soon thereafter, we’ll close the polls, tally your votes, and announce the winner at PlayStation.Blog. PlayStation Store will also showcase some top Players’ Choice winners throughout the year.

What is the voting criteria? That’s up to you! If you were only able to recommend one new release to a friend that month, which would it be? In keeping with our long tradition in the Game of the Year Awards, remastered or re-released games won’t qualify. Ambitious, larger-scale rebuilds and remakes like Shadow of the Colossus and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy will.

How are nominees decided? The PlayStation.Blog and PlayStation Store editorial teams will gather a list of that month’s most noteworthy releases and use it to seed the poll. Write-in votes will be accepted.

Players’ Choice: What Was June’s Best New Game?