Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn — End Of An Era

Witness the end of an era as the Eorzean Alliance clashes with the Garlean Empire in a bid to deliver the realm from certain destruction. The meteor Dalamud is striking the world of Eorzea, leading to the changes that will result in the relaunched game Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

World War Z Hits The Ground Running

World War Z looks to jack up the zombie movie to eleven with a NATO vs. zombie horde set up that seems intriguing. Though not really faithful at all to the book from which is draws its name, World War Z still looks action packed.

YouTube Channels Get The Funding Axe

YouTube has begun renewing funding for channels it partnered with last year, but not all 160 channels that were part of the program are making the cut. Google launched its YouTube program to support premium content channels last year with an estimated budget of $100 million. Content producers were given as much as $5 million to create shows that were exclusive to YouTube for a year. Much like a TV network, YouTube is now evaluating the hits and misses.

YouTube said which shows get their funding canceled comes down how much budget they were given and how they’re performing. For performance, the site is gauging not only views but also ‘watch time’, a new metric it began measuring and including in video rankings in late October.

Losing funding doesn’t mean the shows are necessarily canceled, they just won’t have YouTube’s money to play with. The company hasn’t said which shows it’s keeping in its roster but it estimated it would reinvest in about 40 percent of them. YouTube show rankings such as Deadline’s could be a good indicator of which shows return.

Source: All Things D

Claim The Magic Inside You

“Beautiful Creatures” is a supernatural love story set in the South that tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. Based on the first novel in the best-selling series by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, a new Facebook app called “Claim Your Fate” has launched where you can find out what kind of Caster you are and what supernatural powers lie within. Take this quiz, and reveal your fate!

Exclusive: Kinect Connects With TV

Sesame Street has been a television show for over 40 years, teaching children basic educational elements since the late ’60s. While their philosophy hasn’t changed, they’ve remained at the forefront of relevancy by embracing new trends and technologies . . . like Kinect. Sesame Street, along with National Geographic, teamed up with Microsoft to produce two Kinect 2-Way TV titles designed to create a space between television content and video games. We talked with Brandy O’Briant, Group Product Marketing Manager of Playful Learning Products at Microsoft, about the Kinect 2-Way TV titles.

Microsoft worked with Ayzenberg Group to develop the visual ID and packaging for Kinect 2-Way TV titles

What were the origins of the Kinect 2-Way TV titles and what did you hope to accomplish with them?

Brandy O’Briant: Microsoft Studios was looking for news ways to demonstrate the power of Kinect and transform entertainment for consumers. In the kids space in particular we were also purposefully looking for entertainment other than traditional games that would appeal to a growing audience for Xbox. The #1 entertainment activity for kids was TV consumption, and we wanted to be relevant where their eyeballs were directed. At the same time, we had pioneering partners like Sesame Workshop and National Geographic eager to extend their reach and connection with kids and bold enough to learn on-the-fly with us in creating an entirely new TV format.

Were there any lesson’s learned from Double Fine’s Once Upon a Monster?

“Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster” and Kinect Sesame Street TV are fundamentally different products but both were designed to provide users with a meaningful interactive experience through close collaboration with Sesame Workshop. Just as Sesame Workshop is known for being pioneers in education, we are known for making fun, interactive experiences. In both Double Fine’s “Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster” and the more recent “Kinect Sesame Street TV”, our team was able to collaborate with Sesame to deliver truly unique experiences that brought the beloved worlds of Sesame Street to life.

Talk to me about the branding and packaging and how you used that to make these products appealing to both kids and families.

We wanted to make the branding and packaging appealing to families, but we also had the added challenge of communicating the product. Something this new and innovative isn’t easy to communicate visually. People have no real reference point for 2-Way TV experiences. Our goal was to capture the magic of actually being in the TV show and the joy the viewer has in that transformation.

Are the educational benefits a large part of the messaging for the game to tout the educational benefits to parents?

 The partners we worked with — Sesame Street and National Geographic — are two of the best names in good-for-you learning content. To a large degree, they spoke for themselves. When a parent sees those brands, they know that there is trusted educational content inside.

How did you balance concerns from making sure the messaging got out about this 2-Way TV and already established branding for Nat Geo and Sesame Street at the same time?

The two messages worked well together, especially given that both products were based on actual TV shows, ‘Sesame Street’ and Nat Geo WILD channels ‘America the Wild’. This carried the TV message supported by two strong and established brands.

For the TV spots for the the Kinect 2-Way TV titles, was it seen as important to narrate them from the kid’s perspective in order to make them seem like a fun thing for them to do?

From a creative standpoint, we had kids narrate the spots to reinforce the idea that Kinect Sesame Street TV empowers kids to use their imaginations, their whole bodies, and their voices to control their 2-way TV experience.

Is Kinect 2-Way seen as an important extensions of the Kinect brand to more than just explicit video game titles?

Absolutely. Kinect is so much more than gaming and the 2-Way TV experiences are the tip of the iceberg. We see a lot of possibility for the future of television entertainment, with Xbox and Kinect as the centerpiece.

What sort of television programming will we see ads for Kinect 2-Way TV titles and where else will it be advertised?

2-Way TV experiences will be promoted in our Xbox channels and social networks, including, Facebook, Twitter, Live and email.  You will also see the Kinect Nat Geo TV ads on various National Geographic channels and media.

Brandy, thanks.

Presidential Vote Broken Down By Suffrage

The coalition that re-elected President Barack Obama is likely the most diverse in the history of the U.S. The easiest way to show how key it was for him to cobble together votes from such diverse groups is electoral maps showing what the same vote would look like in different eras.

This is what the map would look like before 1870 and the 15th amendment, securing the vote for non-white men for the first time in history.

Here’s the early 19th century map, showing how things would have shook out with just men voting.

Early 20th century impediments for citizens of color to vote in the U.S. meant that effectively only white men and women could vote — here’s what the map would look like.

For a long time, citizens had to be 21 or older to vote, and that would have altered the race from last week in a few subtle ways.

Finally, here’s how the race actually turned out.


BioWare Outlines The Future Of Mass Effect

Taking any mystery over whether or not BioWare will develop another Mass Effect game, the studio has revealed that development has already begun on the next title. It is being developed at BioWare Montreal, rather than at BioWare Edmonton like Mass Effect 3.

“The next Mass Effect game is already in development, driven by the team here in Montreal,” said BioWare Montreal studio director Yanick Roy. “This is the goal we have been working toward for years now, and every member of our team is proud, excited, and humbled to take on the responsibility for the next game.”

“To ensure a proper and effective transition, we’ll continue to be supported by the Edmonton studio through the game’s development, working with and learning from them on some critical initiatives. On top of that, Casey remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game. We all care very much about Mass Effect and make our decisions based on what’s best for the game.”

While the Edmonton studio is most readily associated with Mass Effect, Roy said that much of the cinematics and DLC for Mass Effect 2 and 3 were made in Montreal. “We started by building about half the cinematics for ME2, then most of its N7 missions, and finally we played an important role in the development of much of its post-release content,” said Roy. “Then on ME3, we took charge of the multiplayer portion as well as making significant contributions to the single-player campaign. Most recently, we built a large piece of DLC that will be released on November 27 and that you know under the name of Omega.”

Also revealed is the fact that the studio will shift to the internal Frostbite 2 engine (which powered Battlefield 3), rather than continuing on with Epic’s Unreal Engine 3. “There is really not much I can tell you about the game right now, except that it will be built with the amazing technology of Frostbite as its foundation, enhanced by many of the systems that the Dragon Age III team has already spent a lot of time building. The other thing I can tell you is that, while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling,” concluded Roy.


Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Enlists 4 Million Players

Marvel Super Hero Squad Online has hit over 4 million registered players. The game’s official website and portal will be relaunched and the game’s U.S. servers will be expanded to include European players.

“Breaking 4 million registered users is a tremendous achievement for Marvel Super Hero Squad Online and for Gazillion Entertainment,” said Gazillion president David Brevik. “We love the passion that our players have shown for the game, and we are excited to continue to put out new and exciting content for them to enjoy.”