Deathgarden’s new feature could solve the promising game’s biggest problem

Deathgarden: Bloodharvest has the potential to become as popular as its creators’ last project, the horror multiplayer game Dead by Daylight. But first, its studio must solve one big problem: the Hunter’s instant execute mechanic. A new update might have the perfect fix.

Deathgarden pits five quick, fragile Scavengers against one deadly Hunter, who is tasked with preventing the group from escaping the titular arena. After downing a Scavenger, the Hunter can execute them. That removes the Scavenger from the game entirely.

The move is laughably powerful. It can be launched instantly, and the Scavengers have no counter. Should the Hunter insta-execute a Scavenger, the Scavenger has little else to do but watch their friends play the rest of the match. If solo, they can re-queue, but it’s still considered a rude move by many dedicated players.

To discourage this move, and encourage Hunters to impede Scavengers without instant-executing them, the game grants both the Scavenger and the Hunter significantly less experience. But when a move this powerful is on the table, a dip in XP often isn’t enough to dissuade Hunters from downing their rivals.

Instant executed now infuriate Scavenger players, who feel it’s a bad-faith move. So new Hunters will find that upon early executing a Scavenger, the survivors tend to stop attempting to fulfill their victory condition, and instead just hide and play in a way they perceive as equally bad faith.

Deathgarden: Bloodharvest - the Stalker aims her weapon Behaviour Interactive

This is obviously not ideal, and has seemingly been a priority for Behaviour to fix.

In a previous update, the studio made it far clearer to Hunters that if they downed a Scavenger and didn’t execute, they would receive a clearer indication that they would earn extra experience. The incentive would in theory motivate them to move on and attack other Scavengers. Experience is a powerful motivator, as players receive in-game currencies based on their total experience, which can be used to upgrade abilities and weapons.

However, this UI change didn’t solve the problem, simply because it’s difficult to explain to a Hunter that they have a win condition (execute all of the Scavengers), and then encourage them to take actions contrary to that win condition, even if it means a greater gain later on. Instant gratification is a powerful incentive for players, and Deathgarden failed to explain the tradeoff properly.

Now, Behaviour is introducing a mercy mechanic. They explain their reasoning in a tweet, saying that having to down Scavengers twice before executing them is a “feature that resonates with your community feedback.”

The rest of the game’s numbers, like the amount of resources the Scavengers have to collect to open the escape exits early, will be shifted around the mercy mechanic to try to keep an equal balance between the two sides of the map. Hunters are currently perceived as very powerful, and Scavengers as needing some buffs. The mercy mechanic, along with additional changes, may address that dynamic.

Deathgarden is also set to add a new Scavenger, Darius “Dash” Shaw, who uses a power that grants bonus speed to his additional Scavengers. This new character could further change the metagame, thanks to synergy with characters like Fog’s innate speed boost and Sawbones’ ranged heal and resurrect.

Behaviour has not announced a release date for this new patch, but they have stated they will be doing an insider stream where the developers can explain more information on these changes and what to expect.

Source: Polygon.com

Unraveling the romantic spacetime continuum of Yesterday writer Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis is the leading expert in pulling heartstrings, delivering warm and fuzzy laughs, and converting sap into a truly sweet substance. The 62-year-old screenwriter is best known for rom-coms like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Love Actually. His new film, Yesterday, which finds Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) achieving his musical dreams at the sacrifice of a relationship with Ellie (Lily James), fits squarely alongside them.

The twist is that Jack’s skyrocketing career is the result of an galactic anomaly with global EMP effects. The event also wipes out random inventions of Earth’s cultural history, including the entire Beatles discography, granting Jack the chance to swoop in and play “Let It Be,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and “Yesterday” as if they were his own.

Scrutinize Curtis’ long career, and the sci-fi premise doesn’t seem that out of whack with his whimsical sensibility. He also wrote the time travel romance About Time and the era-jumping reincarnation comedy Blackadder, and is known for temporal playfulness (looking at you, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). As Yesterday arrives in theaters, Polygon asked Curtis to reflect on his sci-fi curiosities, which just so happen to tie back to one of the genre’s greatest authors.

Polygon: How are you, Richard Curtis?

Richard Curtis: All right, thank you. I’ve got a cup of tea. I’ve got four squares of chocolate. I’m sitting in Liverpool.

So how did you become enamored by the spacetime continuum?

I certainly am a great enthusiast! [Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author] Douglas Adams was one of my closest friends. I’ve always thought that there was enormous range being funny in that area, and I’m a huge fan of certain sci-fi stuff as well, which I always find meaningful. I’m just realizing I did an episode of Doctor Who a few years ago, and a time travel movie, and then this, and I think I’ve just realized that it’s a great way of making a big, bold move and then pulling back from that to be realistic and quite small because that concept is so big. I think that’s what I love in this movie: that we’ve got a whopping great idea in the middle of it, which means that you can then tell quite a delicate, little love story and the context of it, instead of saying, “Oh, I need to make this love story bigger in order to make it a big film.” It’s quite a surprise to me that the last two movies have had a sci-fi element.

Did you struggle with making tinier love stories bigger for the sake of the movie business?

If you look at the journey from Four Weddings [and a Funeral] to Julia Roberts in Notting Hill and then, “Oh, come on, let’s just tell 10 stories in Love Actually,” you can see a kind of impatience and desire to make things bigger. I think you’re always aiming in your work — or I was — for a measure of joy and ecstasy. How can we give people a really rich experience? That’s what I wanted to do. And I think that’s connected back to the Beatles in my whole life. My first introduction to music, really, were these people who made this music that actually made you feel happy and made you feel as though the world is a wonderful place. And I’ve got a feeling somewhere in my bones that that’s what I’ve always tried to do.

an Indian man holding a guitar adjusts his microphone on stage with a big screen of himself behind him
Himesh Patel as Jack Malik in Yesterday.
Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures

To jump back: How did you befriend Douglas Adams?

It’s strange, and everything that has to do with Douglas makes me a bit sad now. He was at Cambridge with a lot of the people I knew, and I was at Oxford, but we’d never met. And then about five years after I left university, I was asked to write a film in America, and I went out there and I was having a terrible, terrible time. It was very lonely. So someone said to me, “Ring Douglas, because he’s living out there.” So I rang Douglas and I said, “You don’t know me, but it’d be lovely to have lunch.” And I had lunch with Douglas, then moved into his house. The first time I met him, I stayed with him for two months because he was such a sweet boy. He could see how unhappy I was and he just said, “Look, just come and stay with us, and Jane [Belson, Adams’ wife,] and I will take care of you.” And so we were very close friends after that.

What film were you writing at the time? You basically had your own Jack Malik moment.

I was writing a movie called Four Eyes and Fat Thighs, which never got made. And he was writing the film of Hitchhiker’s, and his version never got made.

Did you ever think of adapting Douglas’ work?

No […] he would have criticized it. [laughs] It’s a really tough format. In a way, I’m going for that, but not with anything like that energy. Douglas would have loved Guardians of the Galaxy. He would have been very interested in how that movie succeeds in being really proper sci-fi and action, but really funny.

As you were writing, how far did you lean into the thought experiment of, “What if the Beatles didn’t exist?” The paranormal event that zaps them out of existence also removes Coke and cigarettes from history, but we only see a few instances how the lack of the Beatles’ influence impacts culture.

There’s a limit to how much you can deal with in a film. There is a version of this film where the world is much more drab. The Beatles really did revolutionize social structure. Before the Beatles, everything was about respect. The prime minister was always a 60-year-old man. We were obsessed with the First and Second World War. It was a place where you knew your place and you respected age and culture. The Beatles said that, actually, young people are more interesting, and we’ve all got a right to really enjoy our lives. We don’t have to go on in a world of rations and worry. I think it’s the same sort of galvanizing effect that Elvis had on the U.S.

Also, that it’s possible to be funny as well. Musicians can be funny! Which was really quite an unusual thought. Musicians normally had to pretend that they were deep. So I could have done a very complicated piece of sci-fi where you notice that one of the streets was more crowded because there was no cancer, but everybody was still more boringly dressed, but we didn’t do that. What we just did was leave that one fact and everything else was unchanged because it wasn’t that kind of film. Because it was this huge idea, the thing I most wanted to do was keep everything ultra-realistic.

Danny Boyle, screenwriter Richard Curtis, Himesh Patel and Lily James (front, seated) on the set of Yesterday
Danny Boyle, screenwriter Richard Curtis, Himesh Patel, and Lily James (front, seated) on the set of Yesterday.
Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures

We’re in a moment where creators like J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele dangle clues and answerable mysteries in front of the audience, but Yesterday stands in contrast because we’re not sure what the hell happened the night the Beatles disappeared. But do you have the answers?

It’s funny you say that. I’ve always felt that you don’t have to explain much. In Four Weddings and a Funeral, there was a scene in that, because people complained a bit in that movie that nobody had jobs, as it were, and we didn’t know how they’d all met. I had written a scene, which was in the back of the car, in which Hugh Grant explained everything to Andie MacDowell. “I was at university with this person.” “She came to a party at my house.” “She never moved out.” I just decided it was unnecessary. Life doesn’t come at you with an explanation! When you meet someone, you don’t turn to them and ask, “How old are you? How many children do you have? Where were you born?” We’re just having a conversation. So I think that sometimes it’s more fun to just charge on and not spend time explaining. So I sort of know what happened. I’m unclear about how the records actually disappeared, the physical objects. That does seem strange.

I could explain it more than I do in the movie. I’m sort of thinking the reason why he wasn’t affected by it was because he was unconscious at that moment. Whatever happened in outer space, everyone else with brains was awake and they got removed, whereas his brain was asleep and therefore you couldn’t delete something from it.

You had a hand in the story for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which weaves through the spacetime continuum in its own way. How did that happen, and can we expect a third movie?

It’s such a sweet story. I’ll await the call, but I don’t know that anyone is thinking about a third part. And I think it might be getting a bit lean on songs, even though I know that Benny [Andersson] and Björn [Ulvaeus] have written a couple of new ABBA songs, which would be exciting.

So [Mamma Mia 2]: I was asked to write Mamma Mia! the stage show 25 years ago, but I was probably doing Notting Hill at the time, so thank God I didn’t do it, because the stage show was brilliant, and it’s such a sort of utterly lateral story. Who would’ve thought of that story? Then the movie came out and I had nothing to do with it.

Literally nine years later, Judy [Craymer, the producer,] rang me up and said, “I know you love ABBA, and we’ve just been having trouble developing a story for the second one, will you think about it for a day? Will you have two baths and a shower? Just as a personal favor.” And I was in town with my daughter, and I got back in the car and said to her, “Mamma Mia 2, what do you think?” She said, “It’s obvious.” I said, “It can’t be that obvious. It’s been nine years.” And she said, “It’s Godfather II. You go back to the summer, you cast young pretty people. Then in the end she gets pregnant and Amanda Seyfried gets pregnant, so you have the circularity of females running the world.” That literally was her reply to my question in the car, so I rang Universal that night and said, “I’ve had a great idea!” I didn’t mention my daughter. [Screenwriter] Ol Parker is my daughter’s closest adult friend, and then Ol and I gathered together for a weekend and worked out the cards. But it was from an idea by Scarlett Curtis, age 21.

Hear Richard Curtis’ thoughts on the more spoilery parts of Yesterday later this week.

Source: Polygon.com

We might get a Myst movie, TV series, and even a reality show

Village Roadshow Entertainment has acquired the film and TV rights to Cyan Worlds’ Myst franchise of video games, with the intention “to develop a multi-platform universe including film, scripted and unscripted television content.” Yes, the end of that sentence leaves room for a Myst reality program. Village Roadshow will develop and produce alongside the original co-creator Rand Miller and his brother Ryan Miller.

This isn’t the first time Myst has attempted to conquer TV — Legendary Entertainment had plans for a transmedia series with a companion video game in 2014. In 2015, the series moved to Hulu, but never materialized.

According to a news release from Village Roadshow, the company “will rely on and expand upon the game’s existing mythology.” That mythology follows the family of Atrus, portrayed in the games by Rand Miller himself, an explorer who learned the art of writing “linking books,” objects that become portals to the worlds described within them. Various things go wrong when his selfish sons and nefarious father use linking books to interfere with the balance of life in those worlds within them, called “Ages.”

The player of a Myst game usually finds themselves trapped in an Age and must manipulate an intricately crafted environment to escape, usually culminating in a tricky moral puzzle. For example, in Myst 3: Exile, if you choose poorly, Brad Dourif clubs you to death.

Though none of the projects have a home, it’s worth noting that Myst’s storytelling format aligns well with Netflix’s gradual push into interactive video.

Cyan recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a successful Kickstarter campaign to re-release seven core Myst titles in a very fancy linking book package.

Source: Polygon.com

eBay comes for Amazon Prime Day with a concurrent ‘Crash Sale’

Following Amazon’s announcement that its annual Prime Day sale will take place on July 15 and 16, eBay was ready with its own big summer sale announcement. Rather than simply offering competing deals, however, eBay is also taking some pointed shots at Amazon.

Dubbed the Crash Sale, eBay plans to “crash the [Prime Day] party” on the 15th with deals of its own. But the crash in Crash Sale has another meaning as well — eBay promises to release a fresh batch of deals if Amazon’s site crashes on Prime Day, as it did in 2018. eBay’s press release is full of tongue-in-cheek references to Amazon, with COO of eBay Americas Jay Hanson saying that “eBay is primed to deliver exactly what shoppers want during this year’s crash (sale).”

Amazon Prime Day dominates online shopping for all of July, and most of the summer. Other retailers have tried to grab a slice of the Prime Day pie in the past few years, but none have been as aggressive as eBay. Last year the online retailer offered “Primo Deals,” a blatant Prime Day nod, but didn’t go so far as to mention Amazon by name. This year, it’s firing a more obvious shot across the bow, mocking its biggest rival.

Online retailers have clearly accepted that Prime Day is a bona fide shopping “holiday” (for now), but we can all shop smarter by not getting swept up in the hype. As with all sales, do your research before making a big purchase. If you do shop eBay’s Crash Sale (last year the retailer did have better deals than Amazon on video game consoles), make sure that whatever you’re buying shows eBay’s Best Price Guarantee icon. Then check prices elsewhere, since the company will refund 110 percent of the price difference if you find it somewhere cheaper.

Source: Polygon.com

Epic Games CEO says exclusives are the ‘only’ strategy to shake up PC gaming status quo

The Epic Games Store pushed its way into the PC games marketplace war late last year with the promise that it would give developers a larger cut of revenue than Steam. Epic started locking down exclusive rights to sell certain games on PC to grow its platform, a decision that hasn’t sat well with some fans, but that Epic CEO Tim Sweeney feels is necessary.

In a recent Twitter thread, which originated from a tweet by Sweeney about GOG’s goal of connecting all of the various PC launchers together, fans brought their criticism of Epic Game’s exclusivity choice directly to Sweeney. After a lengthy back and forth in his mentions between fans arguing whether exclusivity was good or bad for gamers as a whole, Sweeney himself weighed in on the topic.

“We believe exclusives are the only strategy that will change the 70/30 status quo at a large enough scale to permanently affect the whole game industry,” Sweeney tweeted. “The 30 percent store tax usually exceeds the entire profits of the developer who built the game that’s sold. This is a disastrous situation for developers and publishers alike, so I believe the strategy of exclusives is proportionate to the problem. If the Epic strategy either succeeds in building a second major storefront for PC games with an 88/12 revenue split, or even just leads other stores to significantly improve their terms, the result will be a major wave of reinvestment in game development and a lowering of costs.”

According to Sweeney, he sees the exclusives route as disruptive, but that the ultimate question is whether this solution is proportionate to the problems developers are facing with the current profit splits that most storefronts are offering.

“We believe the lock-in effect of having a large library of games on a dominant storefront is more powerful than features, and hence a dominant store can only be challenged through exclusives,” he stated.

Sweeney concludes his tweets by saying, “I believe this approach passes the test of ultimately benefitting gamers after game storefronts have rebalanced and developers have reinvested more of their fruits of their labor into creation rather than taxation.”

This isn’t the first time Sweeney has made similar remarks on this subject. Back in April of this year, Sweeney said that the Epic Store would stop offering exclusives if Steam changed its model to provide a bigger cut to developers. That comment was similarly made in response to criticism of the store’s use of exclusives to try to build its user base.

Much of this criticism started after games like The Division 2 and Metro: Exodus accepted pre-orders on Steam before being made Epic Games Store exclusives.

Source: Polygon.com

The War of the Realms ended the biggest Thor event in ages: Here’s what happened

This week marks the end of Marvel Comics’ The War of the Realms event, the most spray-painted-on-the-side-of-a-van storyline the publisher may have ever released.

And you may be asking yourself, how could you possibly end an event that kicked off with an army of fire demons, frost giants, dark elves, and angels successfully conquering Earth while Loki was eaten alive by his own father?

In The War of the Realms #6, event architects Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman showed us exactly how. Let’s break it down.

[Ed. note: This post will contain big spoilers for The War of the Realms #6.]

Jane Foster/Thor, All-Father Thor, Thor Odinson, and Young Thor Odinson, in The War of the Realms #6, Marvel Comics (2019). Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman/Marvel Comics

Four Thors

You wanted more Thors? How about four Thors?

The mastermind of the War of the Realms has always been the Dark Elf Malekith, who you might know from his tragically forgettable film debut in Thor: The Dark World, and with his armies on the run all over the realms, he turns to a last personal gambit to bring about the end of Thor.

Malekith captured Thor’s parents, All-Father Odin and All-Mother Freya, as they successfully fought to destroy his Black Bifrost and thus his way of replenishing his troops. In The War of the Realms #6, he has brought them to Stonehenge and demands Thor come to face him personally. If Thor doesn’t show up, Malekith will kill them. If he brings anyone else with him, Malekith will also kill them.

So Thor doesn’t bring anyone else, he brings three other versions of himself: Jane Foster, transformed back into Thor by the godly power of the Mjolnir of a dead universe; and, thanks to some time travel help from the Fantastic Four, his younger and older selves, who have regularly appeared in backup stories and one-shot fables throughout Aaron and Dauterman’s years-long run on the Thor mythos.

The four Thors, with but two Mjolnirs between them, face off against Malekith’s war dogs and Malekith himself, who, following a series of earlier events, had merged with the Venom symbiote and bent it to his will.

Again, I’m pretty sure this is all painted on the side of a van somewhere, but let’s go back to Mjolnir.

Mjolnir reforged in The War of the Realms #6, Marvel Comics (2019). Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman/Marvel Comics

Mjolnir’s back, baby

Thor’s hammer is back and you’re gonna be in trouble hey nah, hey nah — Mjolnir’s back.

Mjolnir has been missing since last year, when — in order to save every Asgardian — Jane Foster bound the monster Mangog in the chains of Fenris, attached Mjolnir to those chains, and threw the hammer into the center of the Sun. And Thor hasn’t even been worthy to wield Mjolnir since 2014, when he lost faith in the purpose of the gods.

But in order to figure out the key to finding Malekith, Thor hung himself from the remnant of the world tree at the center of Earth’s sun, like his father before him, to gain wisdom. And while he was there, it seems that he made contact with some other forces as well, namely the God Tempest, Mother of Thunder — the ancient storm that Odin bound within Mjolnir at the dawn of history — which was still alive.

And with the heat of a star and the remnants of Mjolnir’s Uru metal that lay there, Thor wielded the God Tempest herself to reforge Mjolnir, with a branch of Yggdrasil as its grip. Mjolnir is back, and it’s back in the hand of Thor Odinson.

Odin addresses Thor as king of Asgard in The War of the Realms #6, Marvel Comics (2019). Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman/Marvel Comics

Thor is All-Father of Asgard

Long live the king

The final moment of The War of the Realms #6, after Malekith’s bloody defeat, is one with big implications for Asgardians everywhere. Odin — who has been working through a lot lately, including asking Tony Stark for help in sobering up — knelt before his son and declared him king of Asgard, All-Father of the Asgardians. What does that mean for Thor? We’ll likely find out in various War of the Realms epilogue issues, including War of the Realms Omega #1 and Thor #15 on July 10.

A smattering of set up

Valkyrie, and Loki, and Venom, oh my

Despite his own father, Laufey, crunching and swallowing him, Loki is alive. Daredevil, wielding the sword and all-seeing divine power of Heimdall as the God Without Fear, slung his blade down Laufey’s throat, allowing Loki to carve his way out of the frost giant king’s belly. And now that Laufey’s dead, Loki just might be rightful king of the Frost Giants? Expect that to come up in his new series, kicking off with Loki #1 on July 17.

Before she released it and her Thor powers for good, Jane Foster had a strange encounter with her alternate Mjolnir, where it appears that some kind of magic metal was grafted to her arm. Likely, what we saw was the creation of Underjarn, the All-Weapon (at the risk of repeating myself… UNDERJARN, THE ALL-WEAPON), which she will wield as the first of a new generation of Valkyries in her new solo series, Valkyrie: Jane Foster, kicking off on July 24.

And finally, the Venom symbiote hasn’t been doing too well lately. After nearly dying to save Eddie Brock’s life, it was left in a functional but comatose state — essentially, it was without a voice or mind. But the dark magic that flowed through it when Malekith forced it to merge seem to have restored its consciousness. We’re likely to see the fallout from that over in the Venom mythos, as the books prepare for August’s Absolute Carnage event, kicking off with Absolute Carnage #1 on Aug. 7.

Source: Polygon.com

The Teen Titans face themselves in first trailer for Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans

The original animated Teen Titans and their comedic Teen Titans Go! counterparts face off for the first time in the first trailer for an upcoming crossover movie. An end credits scene following Teen Titans Go! to the Movies teased the return of the original animated characters — which many hoped would be a sixth, conclusive season to the show — but in October, a brief teaser trailer included with the Teen Titans Go! to the Movies DVD announced a project entitled Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans.

The first trailer for the movie shows the bouncy Teen Titans Go! characters facing new opponents in a mysterious arena. The twist? It’s the more “serious” versions of themselves that they must battle.

The original Teen Titans animated show ran from 2003 to 2006, culminating with a TV movie send-off. The show had a sort of spiritual Cartoon Network successor in Young Justice, another animated show focused on a group of fresh-faced heroes that mixed lighthearted teen shenanigans with more serious storylines. In 2013, the goofy Teen Titans Go! took over the canceled Young Justice’s programming block on Cartoon Network’s DC Nation.

As with any reboot of a beloved childhood show, Teen Titans Go! garnered some criticism from fans of the original, but high ratings and viewership from its target audience still keep it in rotation on Cartoon Network. Teen Titans Go! regularly spoofs this criticism, with one episode featuring the team meeting the more serious Young Justice characters. This movie appears to continue that gag.

This will be the first appearance by the original Teen Titans since Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo in 2006. All five seasons of the original show can be found on DC Universe. Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans comes out later this year on DVD and Blu-ray.

Source: Polygon.com

July’s PlayStation Plus free games include Pro Evolution Soccer 2019

July is going to be a sporty month for PlayStation Plus subscribers.

First up on the list is PES Productions’ Pro Evolution Soccer 2019, last year’s simulation soccer game from Konami. The PES series is the only true competitor to EA Sports’ FIFA franchise, and although it’s missing some of the sport’s top-flight clubs and leagues (because EA can shell out for their expensive exclusive licenses), PES remains renowned for its soccer gameplay.

It just so happens that PES 2019 will go free on PlayStation Plus a few days before the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, although there’s no World Cup content in the game — because EA Sports holds the license for FIFA, which runs the World Cup, of course.

The other free game for July is Horizon Chase Turbo, an arcade racing title from Brazilian indie developer Aquiris Game Studio. The company originally released the game as Horizon Chase – World Tour on mobile devices in 2015, and brought it to Nintendo Switch, PS4, Windows PC, and Xbox One as Turbo in 2018. The port contains cars, tracks, and modes that were not available in the mobile version.

Both PES 2019 and Horizon Chase Turbo will be available free for PS Plus subscribers as of Tuesday, July 2. In the meantime, customers can still pick up the June free games: Sonic Mania and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection.

Source: Polygon.com

Call of Duty, Dead Space veteran joins PUBG team to lead a new studio

PUBG Corporation, the developer behind the popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is spinning up a new development studio. Helming the project is industry veteran Glen Schofield, co-founder of Sledgehammer Games. The new studio is called Striking Distance, and it’s based in San Ramon, California.

Schofield was most recently front and center for the launch of Call of Duty: WWII in 2017, which he co-directed and produced. Prior to that he filled a similar role on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. He’s also credited with leading the creation and development of Dead Space.

The addition of a new development studio is part of a pattern of change and expansion for PUBG Corporation. Previously, the company spun out of Bluehole, a South Korean developer and publisher known for its massively multiplayer games. Bluehole itself has since been reformed as Krafton Game Union. Now a multinational corporation, it’s clearly flexing its muscles by bringing on a heavy hitter like Schofield.

In a video posted today on Twitter, Schofield was shown appealing directly to fans of PUBG. But he was also clearly reaching out to potential employees eager to join his team.

“Freedom to explore the PUBG universe has me excited about the possibilities,” Schofield said, “which we view as beyond battle royale.”

“That vision is taken to the next level as our development and service portfolio expands and diversifies with Glen Schofield and Striking Distance,” said PUBG Corporation’s CEO, C.H. Kim. “We are thrilled to welcome Glen to the company. His unique blend of proven leadership and boundless creativity will help us create great synergy.”

Further evidence of PUBG’s attempts to diversify include reassigning the creator of its keystone franchise. In March, Brendan Greene, the Irish expatriate who created PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, left that game’s development team where he served as director. Since that time he’s been involved with a new internal group called PUBG Special Projects.

Source: Polygon.com

What happened to the Neon Genesis Evangelion live-action movie

Through a deconstruction of mecha anime and the threading of horrifying adult themes, Neon Genesis Evangelion changed the way global audiences thought about Japanese animation. Piloting giant mech was seen as a spectacular thrill, given the successful mecha shows from the late ’80s to early ’90s, but creator Hideaki Anno and Studio Gainax had a much more sinister idea. Children would still use mechs to battle mythical beasts, but the experience would break them mentally and physically. The way Evangelion explored weighty topics such as religion, philosophy, and psychological trauma during the course of its 26-episode run would stand the test of time.

In the ’90s, Evangelion revived the slumping anime market that was thought to have plateaued in Japan. ADV Films, led by John Ledford and Matt Greenfield, licensed the series for home video release in America and earned one of their biggest successes ever. Evangelion ushered in a new era and that came with a legion of devoted fans.

A live-action adaptation of Evangelion was a no-brainer.

The idea of adapting the series into a Hollywood blockbuster cropped up after the anime’s initial success, but the film went through years of false starts and stops, and eventually stalled in “Development Hell.” Why did this attempt to make a film fail and will we ever see a live-action Evangelion film?

Gainax, the studio behind Evangelion, and ADV Films, which licensed and distributed the series in North America, first approached Weta Workshop about Evangelion in 2002. It was a perfect confluence of two companies at the peak of their influence. ADV saw massive profits in its sector because of the monumental success of Pokemon and the boom of the Cartoon Network television block Toonami, which featured shows Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop, and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. The Japanese anime marketplace in the United States was peaking, and a bubble ready to pop, making it an urgent moment for the feature film.

Eva Unit-01 in silhouette in front of a sunset. Netflix

Weta CEO Richard Taylor had just launched their biggest success with the first entry in the Lord of the Rings franchise. After years of development, Fellowship of the Ring received multiple Academy Award nominations and its success would lead the visual effects studio to acclaim over the next two decades. At the 2003 Cannes Film Festival buyer’s market, Gainax, ADV Films and Weta Workshop made it official to the world: an Evangelion live-action film was happening.

“The three main players here represent something of a dream team for a project like this. Between the quality and significance of Gainax, Weta’s industry-leading skill in visual effects and our expertise in the marketing and promotion of anime and anime-related content, this project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Ledford at the time.

Even in those early stages excitement for a live-action Evangelion was immense. At the time, Taylor said he received more messages regarding the production of [Evangelion] than he did about Lord of the Rings. According to an article from CNN Money, Taylor took a proposed producer out for lunch, looking for extra help to jump-start production. During that meeting a fan noticed him and didn’t ask him about anything he’d already done, but wanted to talk about Evangelion. This meeting convinced Taylor that the movie had to be made.

Rumors swirled over which director would helm the project, but according to Tiffany Grant, who voiced Asuka in the original English dub of the series, and who was married to Greenfield at the time, “no one was ever approved or anything. The whole process went on for years and years.” Though rumors swirled over who’d take over, Grant tells Polygon, “All of that was bullshit. They … didn’t have a shooting script. How are you going to have a cast? That was in somebody’s fever dreams.”

The source of those rumors likely began at Tekkoshocon when Greenfield gave some insight into who Anno would like to see in the movie. Names such as Daniel Radcliffe for Shinji. Grant provided some additional background and said, “around 2002, 2003 somebody reported that Anno liked Emma Watson for Asuka. [She’s] almost thirty now. If [you try to cast] one of the children, within a couple of years, they’re already too old.”

An Evangelion movie coming together with any haste was made more difficult thanks to Japanese production companies who remained adamant on the age of the children. According to Grant, her colleague Carl Horn (editor of the Evangelion manga series for Viz Media) was asked about the ages of anime characters at a convention. “Carl looked to the sky and just as earnestly said, ‘it’s very important that the pilots are 14 years old, because 14 is the target age demographic for anime in Japan.’”

Over the years, the hurdles of making the live-action Evangelion have trickled out online. Richard Taylor did a lengthy interview about the project and Weta’s excitement.

“For us to be given that opportunity and to have the chance to reflect on where those design motifs are coming from and the culture that inspires them was a really wonderful gift from the ADV team to our group here at the workshop,” said Taylor. There was also some early concept designs that Weta contributed to the project. Artists who did designs for the project included Weta artists like Senior Designer Christian Pearce and Greg Broadmore.

“There was a group of four or five of us that did a few months of concept work, a real scatter-gun initial spread of ideas,” Pearce said. “We’d have calls with the guys at Gainax every week, it was pretty exciting but we never saw a script or heard of a director being attached […] To be honest I don’t think we were really ready for a project like that then.”

Pearce said they worked on the project until it “just gradually disappeared and we moved on to other projects, like Halo… which also never happened.” In a separate interview, Broadmore insists the team came away with tons of work to show for the illustrative exercise. “The conceptual work that ADV released was the tip of the iceberg.”

Weta wound up creating drawings that detailed character designs, concepts for the Evangelion, the control room for the military organization Nerv, and even some idea of what the antagonist, the giant mythical beasts known as Angels, would look like in the movie.

“My one contribution was when somebody at Weta asked [Greenfield] what the neural interface things are they wear on their heads,” Grant recalls. “Asuka wears hers all the time. The other pilots only wear them when they’re piloting the Eva. But I said, ‘Those are the hu hus.’ That’s in the actual Weta sketches.”

The sketches also provided a look into the decidedly Western approach to the source material. The children were given western names and designs. Whitewashing was a concern long before the movie ever began its casting, and would have added to a gluttony of similar business decisions. In a way, the live-action Evangelion may have been a crisis averted. Behind the scenes there was about to be turmoil that would turn the entire project on its head.

Anno had decided that he would make a new project for Evangelion that would come to be known as the Rebuild of Evangelion. The idea was to create four new, feature-length animated movies that would recount the Evangelion TV series, while bringing the story to a new conclusion. Anno decided that he needed to create a new studio, Studio Khara, so he could operate with complete artistic freedom. That meant taking Evangelion with him, leaving ADV and Gainax without the tools they needed to make their film. More so than anything else, Grant believes that was when the project was over. “Anno, when he got a divorce from Gainax, he took the children — the children being Asuka, Shinji, and Rei,” she says. Without Evangelion there was no movie.

Shinji, Asuka and Rei in Evangelion. Gainax/Netflix

Development of the live-action feature went from bad to worse. In 2011, ADV sued Gainax over whether they had gained specific rights, including those to the live-action Evangelion film. ADV claimed they had lost the opportunity to produce the film with a major studio. Alternatively, Gainax claimed that they had a right to veto the deal and returned any money that ADV had sent regarding the film rights.

Ownership of the motion picture rights for Evangelion have been muddled since as there has never been a resolution to the lawsuit. Following the battle between ADV and Gainax, Anno sued Gainax in 2016 for a repayment of a $100 million yen loan. According to the lawsuit, Gainax and Studio Khara signed a contract stating that Gainax would pay a set royalty to Studio Khara for the proceeds earned by Gainax in the productions that Anno had been involved in, meaning Anno was owed royalties for Evangelion and other projects. Anno ended up winning his lawsuit against his former company and due to the legal trouble, it’s unlikely that the creator, Gainax, and ADV would be excited about making an Evangelion movie together.

On November 26th 2018, Netflix announced that it had got the rights to Neon Genesis Evangelion and would launch the series on its service. The rights included the original TV series, and two feature films The End of Evangelion & Evangelion: Death (True) 2. The landmark series was a big get for Netflix.

While Evangelion on Netflix could ignite interest in a new live-action adaptation, the Evangelion live-action movie as envisioned in the early ’00s is dead. Infighting eventually undid years of pre-production and now the rights for a feature film are entangled in lawsuits. Grant added some extra context into why an Evangelion movie was a tough sell.

“We know Evangelion, but if you would poll people walking through a Walmart, if you found one out of a hundred who knew what Evangelion was, I would be impressed. It just didn’t have that mainstream public notoriety.”

Making a live-action Evangelion was never going to be easy and compared to another anime adaptation like Detective Pikachu, it would’ve been a tough sell to the masses. Fortunes could change for Evangelion as will be streaming into over 148 million holmes, and awareness is about to get a big bump.

There’s one person who may still cling to the notion: Richard Taylor. Even though the opportunity for this live-action Evangelion adaptation had seemingly passed, Taylor continued to be hopeful about Evangelion during conventions. In a 2008 video, Taylor said, “nothing would please me more than getting to make [Evangelion] into a film. It’s a sad thing that it hasn’t happened yet. Fingers crossed because wouldn’t it be fantastic to make a live-action film…” Whatever form that adaptation takes will be far different from the one from ADV, Gainax, and Weta.

Source: Polygon.com