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Epic Games launches Unreal Engine 5 early access, shows massive 3D scenes

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Epic Games launches Unreal Engine 5 early access, shows massive 3D scenes

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After years of work, Epic Games is launching early access for game developers for Unreal Engine 5, the latest version of the company’s tools for making games with highly realistic 3D animations. And to show it off, Epic Games released an amazing video that displays how the engine could render a game space that faithfully reproduced a huge area of the red rock formations of Moab, Utah.

Epic is no doubt pleased to be talking about something other than its three-week antitrust trial against Apple that just wrapped up on Monday. And while the company creates a lot of fun with Fortnite, the Unreal Engine goes back to the geeky roots of Epic and its CEO Tim Sweeney, who is one of the world’s graphics gurus. Founded in 1991, Epic now has 3,200 employees and the company is once again free to tout how it innovates in the gaming market.

And the Unreal Engine 5, which will officially ship in 2022, is the company’s crowning technical achievement. The early access build will let game developers start testing features and prototyping their upcoming games. Epic isn’t saying how long this took or how many employees are working on it, but it’s a safe bet that a large chunk of those devs are involved in Unreal Engine 5. It’s been seven years since the last engine shipped.

Unreal Engine 5 will deliver the freedom, fidelity, and flexibility to create next-generation games that will blow players’ minds, said Nick Penwarden, the vice president of engineering, in an interview with GamesBeat.

He said it will be effortless for game developers to use groundbreaking new features such as Nanite and Lumen, which provide a generational leap in visual fidelity. The new World Partition system enables the creation of expansive worlds with scalable content.

As it always does, Epic will battle-test the engine in-house, as it prepares to ship Fortnite on UE5 across all platforms down the line. Epic said it will empower creators across all industries to deliver stunning real-time content and experiences. The early access build has only been tested on game development workflows and offers a chance for game developers to go hands-on with some of the new features.

Additional features and other improvements for all industries will be part of the full Unreal Engine 5.0 release in early 2022. The current tech is not yet production ready.

Valley of the Ancient

Above: Echo goes up against the Ancient in an Unreal Engine 5 demo.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Developers can also download the new sample project, Valley of the Ancient, to start exploring the new features of UE5. Captured on an Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, Valley of the Ancient is a rich and practical example of how the new features included with Unreal Engine 5 early access can be used, and is the result of internal stress-testing.

The demo features a woman named Echo in a deserted mountain area. The team from Quixel, which Epic acquired in 2019, went out to Moab in Utah to scan tons of rock formations, using drones and cameras. And the artists who created the demo populated the scene with Megascans assets, as opposed to using anything procedural or traditional animation tools.

“We wanted to see how we could populate pretty much everything with Nanite content using Megascans assets,” Ivey said.

Chance Ivey, a senior technical designer on the project, walked me through a demo via a remote video. Even while viewing it remotely, I could see that it had massive amounts of detail, as Ivey could zoom in on a realistic rock and zoom out to show terrain that covered a couple of square kilometers of area. Ivey said the demo runs at 30 frames per second, which is slower than the fastest shooter games but is still realistic in its speed to the human eye. At some moments it can get up to 50 frames per second on a high-end machine.

“We are targeting 30FPS on next-generation console hardware” at 4K output with the demo, said Penwarden. “We expect people to be targeting 60 frames per second. It’s really a choice of the the gaming content itself, what you want to target, and UE5 is absolutely capable of powering 60 frames per second experiences. We chose to, in this case, absolutely maximize visual quality. And so we targeted 30fps. But we’re absolutely going to support 60 frames per second experiences.”

ue 12

Above: The Ancient is not very happy or nice, but he is slow.

Image Credit: Epic Games

The visual quality was amazing, and so I asked Penwarden what was the trick to getting millions of polygons into a scene with rich details that moved fast in real time.

“The trick is a lot of smart engineering that goes into the algorithms and techniques that we’re using,” Pendwarden said. “Nanite is able to make sure that we’re spending graphics cycles only on detail that you can actually see. As you are traversing the environment, it’s streaming data in and out. So we don’t need to pre populate memory with all of the triangles that you would potentially see. It’s very intelligently selecting which LODs [levels of detail] to render across the board in a very smooth and continuous manner so that so that we’re able to deliver that micro polygon detail in real time.”

In the demo scene, the world is one large map, not a bunch of prefabricated parts that are put together. Yet artists can work on the partitions without interfering with each others’ work. Artists can load and work on only the sections of the world that they need. Echo has body motions that are captured and brought into the scene so she can fluidly vault over some pixels and walk like a human without looking so much like a robot.

In the video, Echo runs into a giant robot creature called the Ancient, which was created completely inside the Unreal Engine by the Aaron Sims Creative Company. The creature is made out of Nanite meshes and 50 million polygons. Echo proceeds to attack it with a magical energy charge. She brings it down in a big pile of dust amid the Moab rocks. Sadly, Ivey confirms that Echo is just a demo character and the company isn’t building a game around her.

unreal 1

Above: Fire and magma.

Image Credit: Epic

“We’re targeting next-gen hardware, high-end PCs,” Ivey said. “The important thing is to give developers a look inside UE5. We want people to poke around at and give us feedback on it and prepare their next projects on it. There are a number of different transformative workflows for building maps that are coming in UE5, and they’re available in early access.”

Compared to Unreal Engine 4, which debuted for the first time in 2014, the visuals are much better.

“If we want to look at scene complexity, we’re looking at orders of magnitude more objects in the scene,” Penwarden said. “We’re looking at orders of magnitude more triangles so we’re talking hundreds of millions plus triangles, compared to maybe one or two million in a in a traditional game.”

Nanite

ue 10 nanite

Above: Nanite can capture the right level of detail in Unreal Engine 5 imagery.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Developers can modify the project and make it their own using Unreal Engine. The new Nanite virtualized micropolygon system lets developers create games with massive amounts of geometric detail.

One thing that Unreal Engine 5 does that couldn’t be done before is directly import film-quality source assets comprised of millions of polygons. Developers can place them millions of times, all while maintaining a real-time frame rate, and without any noticeable loss of fidelity. Nanite intelligently streams and processes only the detail you can perceive, largely removing poly count and draw call constraints, and eliminating time-consuming tasks such as baking details to normal maps and manually authoring levels of detail (LODs) —freeing creators up to concentrate on creativity.

Lumen

ue 9 lumen

Above: Lumen creates accurate light and shadows in Unreal Engine 5.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Lumen is a fully dynamic global illumination solution that lets developers create dynamic, believable scenes. With Lumen, indirect lighting adapts on the fly to changes to direct lighting or geometry, such as changing the sun’s angle with the time of day, turning on a flashlight, or opening an exterior door. This means creators no longer have to author lightmap UVs, wait for lightmaps to bake, or place reflection captures—they can simply create and edit lights inside the Unreal Editor and see the same final lighting as when the game is run on console.

The scene has global illumination, where the sun casts rays of light on every object, and that light bounces off of objects or changes the look of areas in shadows. As the time of day changes, you can see the shadows retreat behind every single rock in the scene. The Megascans library — which consists of real objects meticulously scanned into digital form — is available for artists to drag and drop items into the scenes they’re creating. Megaassemblies are groups of preassembled objects such as a bunch of rocks put together as one object.

Open Worlds

ue 6 open world

Above: Unreal Engine 5 can capture an open world.

Image Credit: Epic Games

One of Epic’s goals is to make the creation of open worlds faster, easier, and more collaborative for teams of all sizes. The new World Partition system in Unreal Engine 5 changes how levels are managed and streamed, automatically dividing the world into a grid and streaming the necessary cells.

Team members can also simultaneously work on the same region of the same game world without stepping on each other’s toes via the new One File Per Actor system. Data Layers allow creators to create different variations of the same world—such as daytime and nighttime versions—as layers that exist in the same space.

“Compared to our last demo last summer, this is quite a bit more open,” Ivey said. “We’re using the open world features to show that off. One of the features that comes along with World Partition, which is our new world building system, is a system called data layers, which allows us to very quickly change the state of the world. We had a team of artists build an entire dark world  representation of this area.”

Animation

ue 11 animation

Above: Choreographing animation in UE5.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Creators can author detailed characters in dynamic, real-time environments with Unreal Engine 5’s powerful animation toolset. Working in context, they can iterate faster and more accurately, without the need for time-consuming round-tripping.

Artist-friendly tools like Control Rig let developers quickly create rigs and share them across multiple characters; pose them in Sequencer and save and apply the poses with the new Pose Browser; and easily create natural movement with the new Full-Body IK solver. And with Motion Warping, developers can dynamically adjust a character’s root motion to align to different targets with a single animation.

When a camera moves through the world, the engine knows how to stream in the right data at the right level of detail so that the scene looks real but doesn’t slow the computer down to a crawl.

MetaSounds

ue 5 megasound

Above: MetaSound flow in UE5.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Unreal Engine 5 introduces a fundamentally new way of making audio, with MetaSounds, a high-performance system that offers complete control over audio digital signal processing (DSP) graph generation of sound sources. Users can manage all aspects of audio rendering to drive next-generation procedural audio experiences. MetaSounds is analogous to a fully programmable material and rendering pipeline, bringing all the benefits of procedural content creation to audio that the Material Editor brings to shaders: dynamic data-driven assets, the ability to map game parameters to sound playback, huge workflow improvements, and more.

“I think it’s going to change how people think about audio in games,” Ivey said.

Editor Workflow

ue 4 editor

Above: The Unreal Engine 5 editor workflow.

Image Credit: Epic Games

The revamped Unreal Editor provides an updated visual style, streamlined workflows, and optimized use of screen real estate, making it easier, faster, and more pleasing to use, Epic said. The demo video showed how artists can be looking at a scene in the Moab rock formations and insert black monoliths and other objects into the scene, without having to exit the scene or bring out another tool.

“With UE5, we’ve tried to get rid of as much complexity in that workflow as possible,” Penwarden said. “That entire world was actually just one big map file. And the Unreal Engine 5 just takes that map file and it breaks it up into a grid of cells for the purposes of the Edit time. And then for runtime, it’s it dices it up into into streaming chunks, that then it streams in and out dynamically. And the the details of how we break it up can be can be set up to be optimal for the platform that you’re targeting, or platforms that you’re targeting. On the Edit time side, we don’t store everything in one big file or one file for the entire level. Rather, we store data at the granularity of the individual actors and objects that you’re placing in the map.”

To free up more space for viewport interactions, Epic added the ability to easily summon and stow the Content Browser and to dock any editor tab to the collapsible sidebar. Creators can now quickly access frequently used properties in the Details panel with a new favoriting system, while the new Create button on the main toolbar lets them easily place Actors into the world.

“An artist would be able to build an environment like this without writing code,” Penwarden said. “Depending on the complexity of the game, it is absolutely possible to build games entirely out of Blueprint that is possible today in UE4 and it will continue to be possible in UE5. As the scope and complexity of your project grows, then the native C++ APIs are there for developers to start working with and really expand on on what their game is. And of course, just like with Unreal Engine 4, developers will have access to the full source code of Unreal Engine 5.”

The user interface is all visual, so artists don’t have to know how to code in order to create what they need to do.

“We wanted the user interface to get out of the way,” Ivey said. “The artist or designer can be as close as they can to the actual work that they are doing. There are more and more tools that keep you close to the creation, you can work in this space, and when you do that, you have less iteration time and you’re able to focus more on creating. This leads to better outcomes. You have tools that let designers and artists work more closely together rather than having to bring in engineering.”

One huge gain for productivity is being able to access so many photorealistic environment assets that artists can access without having to reinvent all of those things in a digital form.

“It’s really about trying to keep developers in the editor as much as we can, and allowing them to iterate and be productive,” Penwarden said.

MetaHumans

These people are not people. They MetaHumans.

Above: These people are not people. They MetaHumans.

Image Credit: Epic Games

To populate characters into the Unreal Engine 5 world, developers who build MetaHumans created in MetaHuman Creator are compatible with both UE4 and UE5. Developers can sign up for MetaHuman Creator early access to begin importing their own MetaHumans, or simply download any of over 50 premade digital humans from Quixel Bridge.

Quixel was an important acquisition in the development of the features of Unreal Engine 5, but so were other acquired companies such as 3Lateral and Cubic Motion, Penwarden said.

The whole goal is to make dramatic changes to workflows for everyone working on a game. Ivey said that the more people working on the same scene, the better. They shouldn’t have to wait for each other to get things done, he said.

“We just were able to let the artists go crazy and start building stuff and add to it again and getting other people’s changes without stepping on each other’s toes,” Ivey said. “It’s a wildly large productivity boost.”

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

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Coromon will bring its Pokémon-plus-puzzles game to Nintendo Switch in Q1 2022

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Coromon will bring its Pokémon-plus-puzzles game to Nintendo Switch in Q1 2022

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Coromon twists the Pokémon formula with how it approaches dungeons, customization, and puzzles for its monster-taming gameplay. It’s already been announced for PC and mobile, and during the Freedom Games 2021 Showcase at the digital Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) today, developer TRAGsoft said Coromon is coming to another platform: the Nintendo Switch.

This feels like a good fit, as Coromon sports visuals similar to the early Pokémon games and is also about, you know, catching monsters. TRAGsoft has added a puzzle layer; as you explore maps, you find yourself dealing with these little brainteasers. And when your monsters level up, you can play with their statistics, giving it more RPG depth and other monster-taming games.

Your character works for a high-tech company, and your goal is to extract Titan Essences from the world. As the name implies, Titans are larger beasts you find in dungeons, and you and your monster teams must defeat them to get the essences and learn more about these “cornerstones” of the world.

“And this journey will lead you into a story of full plot twists that are full of interesting events and side quests to do,” TRAGsoft’s Marcel van der Made said. He’s the CEO and story writer for the studio, along with being the “Second Ridiculously Ambitious Guy.” (TRAGsoft stands for “Two Ridiculously Ambitious Guys.” Van der Made is the second, and fellow CEO and programmer Jochem Pouwels is the first).

TRAGsoft has been working on Coromon for over seven years, and the project is the result in part for their fondness for the Game Boy, Pokémon, and grand adventures with puzzles like Zelda.

“We love games and spent thousands of hours playing those games,” Marcel van der Made said. “Why not make a game with every the aspect we love and put that together for the ultimate RPG experience. That’s how Coromon came to life.”

And, of course, leads to the studio name “Two Ridiculously Ambitious Guys.”

Full of potential

Above: You can tweak your Coromon’s stats.

Image Credit: TARGsoft

Colors show how strong your Coromon can be. Two may be of the same species, but one may be brown, and the other is purple. This is part of TRAGsoft’s potential system. Coromon gain XP as they fight, and you can use those points to customize their stats. Van der Made says you can do that to make one a glass cannon (meaning with powerful attacks but weak health and defense), or make one that soaks up enemy damage.

It also has a shiny system (this reminds me of foils in Pokémon card packs), which plays into how you allocate a Coromon’s stats. They come in three versions as well: normal, potent, and perfect (think of these as the evolutions in Pokémon).

Nice work if you can get it

final 60b8fc88992b5a00293fad5a 655395

Above: You’d better not say, “I choose you, Pikachu” in Coromon.

Image Credit: TARGsoft

In games like Pokémon or Monster Rancher, you’re goal is to be the best trainer or collector you can be. And while that’s an important aspect of Coromon as well, you’re also working for a big company. You get paid for your endeavors, and along the way, you encounter other employees who are there to help you.

“They actually pay you to battle,” van der Made said. I dig this, as one of my few gripes with Pokémon is starting every adventure at home and getting a goodbye from your mom. “There’s even an outer space aspect to it, you’ll find out from the story itself.”

Puzzles and traps

As we explored a sandy dungeon, we encountered some dart traps. This is all about timing, avoiding the darts as you make your way through that part of the maze. Some of these dart traps have patterns you must watch for. Other traps include trapdoors, and some of these combine to make for some nasty tests. You also have buttons to move walls. None of them are difficult, but they do require you to pay attention to your surroundings and break the gameplay loop of finding and fighting monsters.

Coromon

Above: As you explore dungeons, you’ll find some traps.

Image Credit: TARGsoft

“[The puzzles” should be accessible enough so that you can find out [the solution] yourself. And some have people who are there to explain the mechanics,” van der Made said. “Some of the puzzles are really rewarding. You get a special item to solve puzzles that aren’t really required to progress any further. We’re really trying to make it accessible, but also complex enough for those who like exploring.”

The name game

Coromon has more than 120 creatures. Coming up for names for that many monsters could be tough, especially when you want to avoid using any that sound like names from Pokémon.

Turns out the TRAGsoft team enjoyed it.

“That’s really fun process, actually. We have brainstorms with about three people working on it. Sometimes you just get a beer and have a long brainstorm session on it,” van der Made said.

They’d look at monster designs and come up with ideas (some funny) until they found those that worked for them. One aspect of the localizations of Coromon is that you don’t need names that translate well from one language to another; you just use a good name from that language for the monster. They do try to stay away from certain pronunciations, as that can make it harder for naming three varieties of the same creature.

The studio also did some naming contests with its community.

Correction, 1:30 p.m.: Fixed the studio name to TRAGsoft throughout. I apologize for the error.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

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Mythical Games launches early access for Blankos Block Party

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Mythical Games launches early access for Blankos Block Party

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Mythical Games has launched early access on the PC for its Blankos Block Party open-world multiplayer game, which offers unique game characters authenticated with nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

The Los Angeles-based Mythical Games is pioneering the idea of “playable NFTs,” using that technology to uniquely identify game characters so players can truly own them. NFTs use blockchain, the secure and transparent digital ledger, to authenticate unique digital items. Just last week, Mythical raised $75 million from WestCap and others to pursue the larger opportunity to license its NFT technology to other game companies.

CEO John Linden made the announcement today in a talk at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event, which is an all-online trade show. The company revealed some major fashion, music, and art collaborations for Blankos Block Party. It has deals with Burberry, DeadMau5, Quiccs, and El Grand Chamaco. The E3 talk included numerous artists talking about the potential they see in the blending of NFTs, art, and games.

“We’re moving the game into early access, which is exciting, and adding a lot of new features in the game itself,” said Linde, in an interview with GamesBeat. “The MMO hub has been redesigned. Deadmau5 is going to be involved. Burberry is going to be announcing their first NFT. And we have a lot of great artists involved too.”

Rob Manley, chief marketing officer at Burberry, said in the E3 talk that being a part of the gaming community is a big opportunity and it represents the company’s first move into NFTs.

Above: Burberry and Blankos have teamed up.

Image Credit: Mythical Games

Blankos Block Party has vinyl-style game characters who you earn (through gameplay), buy, or sell. It has begun testing its marketplace where players can buy and sell their characters, which can be customized or decorated with various things earned in the game.

The NFT craze

John Linden is CEO of Mythical Games.

Above: John Linden is CEO of Mythical Games.

Image Credit: Mythical

Mythical is one of many game companies offering a “play-to-earn” opportunity for gamers, enabling them to earn money from the time and investments they put into the game. NFTs have exploded in other applications, such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example. Built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $500 million in sales, five months after going public. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. But more recently NFTs have seen price declines as some say that the hype is running out of steam.

While many NFT projects have been dismissed as overhyped schemes to get rich quick, Linden said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company wants to drive mass adoption of ownership in games through playable NFTs.

The playable NFTS in Blankos Block Party have the same utility as any character or accessory you might buy or earn in another game, but because of the blockchain technology behind them, players actually own what they buy and can sell them in real-money transactions when they no longer want or need them, unlocking the value of their time and money spent.

NFT marketplace

blankos 7

Above: Blankos Block Party’s marketplace.

Image Credit: Mythical Games

Pre-blockchain, players invested billions of dollars into digital items in other online games without a tangible way to benefit from it beyond gameplay advantages (or just showing off their bling); content remains locked behind their account because their purchase is really just a lease or licensing agreement, with no capability to transfer or sell, Mythical said. And while other secondary marketplaces have existed in the form of gray markets and black markets, players who participate are exposed to unsafe transactions, scams, and even the threat of losing their accounts for terms of service violations, the company said.

“The marketplace is where they can sell things,” he said. “Our accessories are still curated. But what the players can do then is, with most of the characters, players can now customize so they can level them up. We’ll keep adding things into this world. ”

Linden said that the various brands will have a lot of options for their NFT characters. They can limit the number of them or the time period in which they’re sold to create scarcity. They can also offer them at different prices. What’s different about this game is that blockchain enables provenance, or the capability to trace the history of an NFT. That means that brands can get paid a percentage of the sale price every time one of their NFT characters changes hands. And so they can benefit from a rise in price for an object over time.

You can buy Mythical's blockchain-based limited items for $25 to $150.

Above: You can buy Mythical’s blockchain-based limited items for $25 to $150.

Image Credit: Mythical Games

But the tech isn’t really easy to create. Mythical Games has more than 100 employees, and it has been working on its tech and game for three years, Linden said. Adding NFTs to a game means that a company has to create a digital wallet for players to securely hold their digital property. It sits on top of a blockchain platform, and that platform often has to be modified to reduce transaction costs, speed up transactions, and use less energy than the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum. All of that takes engineering work, and Mythical is still hiring.

On top of that, Mythical Games is talking to other game companies to license its platform to them so that those game companies can create their own games with playable NFT characters.

Mythical wants to drive mass adoption of ownership in games through playable NFTs with the growth of its first game, Blankos Block Party; expansion to other gaming platforms; and new projects launching later this year and in 2022. Via its Mythical Economic Engine and Mythical Marketplace, the company says it is providing a platform for game developers to create their own player-owned economies, as well as new tools for content creators and brands to facilitate ownership of in-game assets.

Through the Mythical Marketplace, players can unlock the value of monetary, rarity, and time-based efforts by selling their NFTs to other players for real money, in safe and secure transactions with proof of authenticity.

Early access and influencer events

blankos 6

Above: Blankos Block Party has a marketplace for NFT characters.

Image Credit: Mythical

In the open beta for Blankos Block Party, Mythical has enabled player-designed levels. Players hold more than 100,000 NFTs; as the game’s audience continues to grow, earlier assets and specialized releases will become more scarce and likely more valuable in the secondary market, creating rarity on a mass-market scale and providing new sources of income for players.

Mythical streamers include KarlNetwork, Captain Sparklez, and KaraCorvus. Folks can tune in on Friday, June 18 to watch and even join some of their favorite streamers in Blankos and they can get a chance to get a playable NFT Twitch Drop.

Mythical's marketplace for the Blankos Block Party game.

Above: Mythical’s marketplace for the Blankos Block Party game.

Image Credit: Mythical

Mythical will work together with Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) on a Blanko and accessory package modeled after his beloved cat, Professor Meowingtons, and the infamous deadmau5 helmet. This will drop in summer 2021.

Burberry will do a Blankos NFT drop, releasing this summer as a way to reach gamers. And Mythical is also working with Marathon Clothing, a brand owned by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. They will work together on Blankos-related gear later this year.

And Mythical is working with El Grand Chamaco, an illustrator based in the small village of Los Ramones. El Grand Chamaco’s artworks are inspired by his Mexican roots, adopting the colorful vibrant palette of the culture into his 3D graphics. After years of perfecting his style, he gained his fame as a prominent illustrator and character designer—reimagining pop culture characters into his own depiction. And Mythical is working with Hackatao, an artist duo born in Milan in 2007. Hackatoo has pioneered crypto art since 2018.

alex pardee

Above: Alex Pardee is an artist who hopes to benefit from the NFT art craze.

Image Credit: Mythical Games

Blankos Block Party and the Mythical Marketplace are built on a private EOSIO blockchain using a proof of authority model that is more environmentally friendly and sustainable than the proof of work model (neither the game nor Blankos NFTs require any crypto mining). With Blankos Block Party and its Marketplace, Mythical aims to drive mass adoption of ownership in games through NFTs and blockchain technology, opening the door to a new kind of global game economy where creators are owners and players are asset holders. Mythical has raised $120 million to date and it has more than 100 employees.

Players can sign up now to join Blankos Block Party in early access on PC. The Mythical Marketplace, where players can buy and sell Blankos in peer-to-peer transactions for real money, is in its alpha phase and will continue rolling out to players this summer.

Linden said the game has had very good key performance indicators (KPIs) during its beta testing.

“We’re really taking the wraps off of all the fun stuff you can do in the game,” he said.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

Continue Reading

Tech

Intellivision Entertainment wants to own retro couch gaming

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The Intellivision Amico has a wood-paneled VIP model.

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Intellivision Entertainment CEO Tommy Tallarico made his pitch to gamers today to own the couch when it comes to retro console gaming, talking about the Intellivision Amico console in a speech at the online-only Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) today.

Intellivision has had to postpone its launch twice now, and its latest plan is to launch the Amico on October 10, about a year after it originally planned. Tallarico said the pandemic forced the company to postpone its launch, but it also gave the company an opportunity to get more games in place for its launch.

The focus is “that friendship, that multiplayer, that couch co-op experience,” he said.

The Amico has a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and its focus will be to enable multiplayer games that you can play with your friends in the same room, on the couch, like Tallarico used to do when he was young. The curvy, wedge-like console’s design is supposed to be friendly and accessible. They intend for the console to be something you can use right off the bat, and it isn’t aimed at the more limited audience of hardcore gamers. He thinks this is complementary to other consoles, and so he doesn’t view others as competition.

It’s not about screaming graphics, but having a good time with fun, simple, casual games that you can play with your friends.

A time machine

Above: The Intellivision Amico has a wood-paneled VIP model.

Image Credit: Intellivision

The original Intellivision is a game console from Mattel that gave Atari a run for its money in the early 1980s. It was more advanced than the Atari 2600, with better graphics, and it even had simple voices in some games.

Tallarico has been in the video game industry for 32 years, and he created the “oof” sound that became the signature sound for Roblox games. Tallarico, who created the Video Games Live concert series, announced in 2018 that he had acquired the rights to the console and its original games and planned to relaunch Intellivision as a retro brand.

He has rounded up many of the original Intellivision’s game creators. They’re remaking some of the original games for the old Intellivision, such as Breakout, but with modern designs.

Amico is the Italian word for “friend,” and October 10 is the birthday of Tallarico’s sister. “My mother is very proud,” Tallarico said.

A crafted console

Intellivision has a network of retailers who will sell the Amico.

Above: Intellivision has a network of retailers who will sell the Amico.

Image Credit: Intellivision

The machine has 40 independently controlled LEDs on the console base and 12 LEDs on each console controller, for a total of 64, product development director Todd Linthicum said. That provides for an endless amount of expression through lighting.

Some games will correlate colors on the controller’s lights with gameplay. The console’s wedge shape enables you to see the lights from all angles, and you can adjust the brightness of the LEDs or turn them off. The controllers can charge in 2 hours, and batteries last 4-6 hours.

The controllers have color capacitive touchscreens, gyroscopes, force feedback, speakers, microphones, and wireless contact charging. Two controllers nest inside the console base, which enables them to charge. You can also charge a controller with a USB-C cable. The controllers have four shoulder buttons and a touch wheel with a button. A Home button lets you pause or exit a game easily. The controller can be moved in 64 directions and the controller screen has touch sensitivity. If you take a controller to a friend’s house, you can play all the games that you own on your console on your friend’s machine.

The Amico has an HDMI out port, a USB-C connector, a power connection, and a microSD expansion slot for more memory. You can store up to 50 games on the device. Radio frequency identification (RFID) connectivity offers a new way to unlock features in games or to interact with the console. You can simply take an object like a gift card and tap it on the console to unlock something. Intellivision will talk more about boxed games later. There are no loot boxes or in-app ads. But there are online leaderboards where you can check your score against others.

Game lineup

Intellivision is targeting the Amico at families for couch play.

Above: Intellivision is targeting the Amico at families for couch play.

Image Credit: Intellivision

Tallarico mentioned some of the games that will be coming for the Amico.

The list includes:

  • Earthworm Jim
  • Night Stalker
  • Incan Gold
  • Shark Shark
  • Spades
  • Cornhole
  • Astro Smash
  • Retro Reimagined
  • Breakout
  • Asteroids
  • Tempest
  • Missile Command
  • Burger Time
  • Bump and Jump
  • Cloudy Mountain
  • Sesame Street
  • Care Bears
  • Finnegan Fox
  • Bomb Squad
  • Space Strikers
  • Rigid Force Redux Enhanced
  • Dyno Blaster
  • Major League Baseball
  • Blank Slate
  • Telestrations
  • Flying Tigers

The brands making games for the Amico include Hot Wheels and the Harlem Globetrotters, and there will be games based on charades, soccer, pool, card games, skiing, and more.

And he said the original Ecco the Dolphin team to create a new game called Dolphin Quest.

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