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The Behemoth helping other indies with funding, user experience & QA

The independent developer who brought XBLA gamers BattleBlock Theater, Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers has announced that, in addition to game development, it has two other ways it hopes will result in the best indie games possible making it “from conception to physical reality in the industry.” The Behemoth is now providing quality assurance and usability testing and what it describes as “no strings attached” funding for external indie developers.

Its testing lab, which the Sand Diego developer previously talked to XBLA Fans about at PAX East 2013, has been dubbed The Research Centaur and is said to staff testers with an average of six and a half years worth of experience in game testing. When he spoke of the testing center last year, The Behemoth President John Baez told us that it started as a purely internal department. Things went so swimmingly when testing BattleBlock Theater, though, that the developer decided to begin offering its testing services to external indie studios.

“I mean, one of the things we’ve done to kind of contribute to that [indie developer survivability] is we built a usability lab for Battleblock Theater, which has gone really, really well,” Baez said last year at PAX East. “It’s about a year old, and it’s only internal, and now we’ve opened it up. Well, there’s that and a QA department — very small, four people — but they’re very, very good at what they do. And now we’re beginning to open that up to other developers. So Bastion for all of iOS, we tested [it] and certified [it] to make sure that [Supergiant's] game was good.

“So we’re opening that up to independent developers as a resource so they don’t have to go — I mean it’s not any cheaper than going to a big, gigantic test firm — but you’ll get the absolute attention to detail.”

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4J Studios is working to get a fix out for Minecraft bugs

Minecraft TU14 fixes

4J Studios is coming off the release of their latest highly anticipated Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition title update, but that doesn’t mean their work is done. While the update introduced a massive number of new features, according to some tweets from the developer there are still some lingering issues they are working to resolve. Unlike TU14, however, there will be a much shorter timeline for this release: “There’s about 15 [bugs] we want to fix quickly, and get another update out…”

How is the latest update working for you? Sound off in the comments below!

Source: TotalXbox.com

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The Xbox 360 gets an update

Xbox Dashboard

As many users have noticed, an update rolled out for the Xbox 360 earlier this week. It is a fairly small update without many obvious changes since it takes care of “mostly back end stuff,” according to a tweet from Major Nelson. The only noticeable change allows videos rented through the Xbox Video app on the Xbox 360 to be accessed and played on other devices such as a smartphone or laptop. Previously, movies rented through Xbox Video on the Xbox 360 could only be watched on the Xbox 360.

An update to the Xbox One should also release this month.

Source: TotalXbox.com

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Sixty Second Shooter’s interesting journey to Xbox One

sssd

It’s not often a developer will stop production on a new game to update and re-release an older title. That is exactly what is happening with Sixty Second Shooter. Developer Jamie Fristrom recently recounted the recent changes in his project schedule. Quite possibly the most intriguing portion of the story is that over 1,600 Kickstarter backers were on board with a three-month delay in their game’s completion. Sony was also reportedly amicable and had no issues with allowing Energy Hook, the kick-started game, being delayed.

The reason for this schedule change is less sensational, but potentially extremely profitable. According to Fristrom, Microsoft’s Chris Charla mentioned that there were currently no indie “twin-stick shooters” being developed for the Xbox One. Fristrom quickly realized that filling that gap could both bring more attention to Sixty Second Shooter, as well as generate profit. This began the process of asking his Kickstarter backers to vote on what his course of action should be. The backers voted, and over 80 percent were supportive of the choice to delay Energy Hook. Microsoft stated that it certainly would do the same in a situation like this, as independent developers often have scheduling changes.

Source: Polygon

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Phil Spencer: ‘Xbox is a gaming brand’

Phil Spencer Xbox Boss

Following the announcement of his promotion to new Xbox boss, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer conducted a brief interview with Game Informer about his vision for the brand moving forward in which he continually stressed the importance of putting games first.

“My goal, first and foremost, is to make sure that everybody understands that Xbox is a gaming brand and it’s going to be gaming first,” Spencer told Game Informer. “That’s a leadership principle that I will bring to the program from day one. It’s not that it hasn’t been there in the past, but if you put the studio guy at the head, you kinda know what you’re going to get.”

Spencer headed up Microsoft Studios before taking over as the leader of all things Xbox. The brand took a huge hit in the eyes of the gaming public last year when its Xbox One reveal focused more on the next-gen console’s ability to play TV shows than to play video games. While Spencer said that performing multiple functions is necessary for any “incredible” electronic home entertainment product, he stressed again that games are priority one for the Xbox brand.

“We have always been, since the beginning, all about games at Xbox,” he said. “I want to make sure that shows up not only internally, but also externally.”

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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 ‘A Crooked Mile’ trailer revealed

After what seems like a relatively short wait since the often-delayed Episode 2, fans of the The Wolf Among Us can begin to prepare themselves for the next harrowing episode in this undoubtedly fine series by watching a brand new trailer. Although this short introduction movie does contain some slight spoilers, we won’t be revealing them here – needless to say, though, it looks like fans can expect Telltale Games to keep the twists and turns coming as we accompany Bigby the Wolf on his search for an ever more elusive serial killer.

Unfortunately, there is still no official release date for A Crooked Mile, but we can certainly hope that the emergence of a new trailer can only mean good things.

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Skullgirls Encore getting new character

Fukua

Earlier today, Lab Zero Games announced a new character for Skullgirls Encore. Fukua is a palette swap of an existing character and a throwback to a familiar, time-honored fighting genre tradition. In a conversation with Polygon, Lab Zero CEO Peter Bartholow confirmed that Fukua is available in both the beta and main versions of Skullgirls Encore.

Source: YouTube via Polygon

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New apps arrive for Xbox 360 and Xbox One

MLG App 2

A post on the Xbox Wire website reveals both new and updated apps for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The lion’s share of the coverage details the Major League Gaming (MLG) app’s release on Xbox 360.  With this app, Xbox Live Gold subscribers can view live streams of gaming tournaments, access an eSport report, as well as take in other original programming.  The most recent broadcast was for the Call of Duty Championship, which included a $1 million prize for the winning team.  Development of an Xbox One version is currently in progress.

Also on its way to Xbox One is MLB.TV.  Previously released and refreshed on Xbox 360, users who subscribe to both Xbox Live Gold and MLB.TV premium can watch all out-of-market regular season games for the 2014 season.

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Satya Nadella’s e-mail to Microsoft employees reveals vision for Xbox

15_low

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella yesterday made public an e-mail sent to all Microsoft employees detailing some of the new directions in which the company is turning. The company intends to continue to “thrive and grow in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

What that statement means specifically for Xbox is yet to be seen. Important announcements for the Xbox division include naming Phil Spencer to a new leading role, where he “will lead the Xbox, Xbox Live, Xbox Music and Xbox Video teams, and Microsoft Studios. Combining all our software, gaming and content assets across the Xbox team under a single leader and aligning with the OSG team will help ensure we continue to do great work across the Xbox business, and bring more of the magic of Xbox to all form factors, including tablets, PCs and phones.”  

In the section’s closing, Nadella praises “…the way the Xbox team is focused on great games and gaming experiences (go, Titanfall!), connects with its fans, pushes the boundary of entertainment and has embraced the power of the cloud in such interesting and impactful ways.” While cloud-computing and streaming has transformed our media environment on the Xbox One, the applications for gaming specifically have tended to lag behind. Hopefully this type of visioning language from Nadella leads to applicable cloud-based technologies for gamers as well.

Source: Microsoft

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Bound by Flame coming to 360 on May 9

Bound by Flame, an upcoming fantasy RPG by Spiders Studio, will be released on Xbox 360 May 9, 2014. The game was originally slated for late 2013 but suffered from a delay so it’s great to finally have a solid release date. Six new screenshots and a trailer featuring unedited gameplay were released to help fans wait until the game’s release. Click ahead for the new screens.

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