The UpStream (Page 229)

Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Ends Internal Development

posted Saturday Apr 6, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Ends Internal Development

When Disney purchased LucasFilm for $4 billion, adding it to their list of iconic additions, we figured there would be good things in store for all involved. However, Disney has already made some big decisions, which includes the shutdown of LucasArts.

Disney has stopped internal development at the studio, which should mean the end of Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault. This all is happening due to the company wanting to shift to a licensing model instead of having in-house game development. A lot of people are obviously very upset over the termination of the popular studio and possible franchise titles. Disney had this to say about the decision,

After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we've had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.

On the business side, the move makes a lot of sense, as it both cuts costs and makes money at the same time through its licensing deals. Also, with LucasArts' latest creations of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Battlefront, we haven't seen much forward movement in the studio and the titles didn't really gain as much popularity as the team initially had hoped for. The good news is that we've been informed by a LucasArts rep that perhaps Star Wars 1313 might not be done for, after all. The rep said,

All of these things happened at once. Naturally, as any company that goes through a big announcement like this, you have to look through your whole portfolio and realign some things. 1313 was looking fantastic, the reception has been great. Our other unannounced titles are fine, it just got to a point where from a business standpoint we couldn't continue developing those internally and keep up with the direction that the company was going.

It is worth noting that we are looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans. We still believe in the video game industry, we still will provide Star Wars games, we're just looking at different models rather than (internal production)... They're evaluating everything. There's always a possibility that it (Star Wars 1313) can still come out via licensing.

So maybe they will keep some people onboard for current and upcoming titles, or maybe they will all be spun off into external teams who solely focus on the games and then are terminated; it's all up in the air at this point other than our knowledge of the studio itself no longer housing internal production. Sources are reporting that 150 employees have been let go and that the entire studio has been, obviously, not in the best morale. The rep did take time to also mention, though, that regardless of the shutdown, we should "realize that there still will be Star Wars games out there."

With a myriad of closures happening in development studios across the country, as always, the PLuGHiTz Coporation extends our deepest sympathies and thoughts out to all of those who are now seeking other employment. That said, I'm off to go play Monkey Island. I'll never forget.

DuckTales Remastered, Comes to Current-Gen Consoles in Summer

posted Sunday Mar 24, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

DuckTales Remastered, Comes to Current-Gen Consoles in Summer

"Few games are so rich...with such a wealth of character and adventure," says Doug Tennapel, the creator of Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood. Cliff Bleszinski says "this game taught me everything about a genre...that launched my career." I have no words to say other than a bunch of interjectory phrases like "Wow," "" and "holy @$%! I can't wait!" Why, do you ask?

Because DuckTales is being remastered and is making its way to the Xbox 360, PS3 and WiiU by way of Capcom in the summer!!!

Announced at PAX East over the weekend, Capcom made it official by saying the game will be available as a digital download on all of the mentioned platforms.

And there you are. No, really, this is such awesome news that it deserves its own article. You might understand if you're one of everyone who has ever played the game that say it's the best original Nintendo platformers ever! If you don't believe that, go break out your old NES, pop on eBay and pick up a copy and get back to me. Then, check after the break for the trailer. I don't know about you, but I can't wait. Also, the show was awesome too, so that's a bonus.

West Virginia Legislator Wants to Ban New Technology Because it Could be Scary

posted Sunday Mar 24, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

West Virginia Legislator Wants to Ban New Technology Because it Could be Scary

The government is afraid of technology yet again. This time, it's technology that may not actually end up being in the hands of more than a small percentage of people. At a time where Google Glass is working on teaming up with Warby Parker to make the glasses more stylish, the fact that the device even exists is enough to become a problem to government legislators. West Virginia's House of Delegates member Gary G. Howell is looking to ban DWG (as I've named it) or driving with Glass.

Howell says that the new augmented reality glasses would cause the same problems as texting while driving. He also said that it would more likely affect younger drivers who are less experienced behind the wheel are "are the tech-savvy (kids) that try new things." He just doesn't want the glasses used while driving. He said,

I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future... I am a libertarian, and government has no business protecting us from ourselves, but it does have a duty to make sure I don't injure or kill someone else.

Other governments, companies and privacy groups have been working to get the augmented reality glasses banned. The best known of these organizations is Stop The Cyborgs. They have even created the branding for corporations to place on their entrances to inform customers that Google Glass, and other AR devices, are not allowed on the premises. Companies like Burger King have already implemented new signage that informs customers that photography and video recording are not allowed.

Okay, so, a few points need to be made. First, if these are as distracting as texting then the new heads-up displays we're seeing on windshields from car companies like Mercedes and Ford have got to go out the window, too. The same argument could be said for a GPS, the radio or even the screaming baby in the back of the car but for some reason you're allowed to transport those. Second, with a $1,500 price tag, at least for now, these little gadgets aren't going to be able to be afforded by the masses. Of course, the Internet has a lot of interesting comments to say about the matter, which is kind of why I wanted to write about this. Putting aside the constant state of fear the government lives in which makes it feel like they're scared to leave their house on some days, comments on this news from across the web have been pretty humorous. Enjoy a gem or two.

Wouldn't this all turn out extra stupid if the bill specifically banned "Google Glass" and then any competing products could just walk right through that giant loophole?

I want them banned from my presence. Not because of privacy or safety, just generally douchebaggery that they facilitate. While we're at it, can we outlaw Bluetooth headsets when you're not actually on a phone call? Skinny jeans anyone? Yeah - them too.

What do you all make of this? Just another case of new things scaring our country's leader or is there a legitimate case to be made here? I know I could potentially be sparking a flame war, but have it out in the comments below.

Agawi Brings PC Games to Android

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Agawi Brings PC Games to Android

I think everyone is recognizing that mobile gaming is on the rise, and I am not talking about PSVita or 3DS. As more and more tablets make their way into the hands of consumers, gaming is becoming more common on the platform. Agawi has decided to bring a platform to allow developers to deploy existing Windows and web games to "iPads, Android devices, Windows 8 tablets, smart TVs, PCs, Macs and more."

This new platform, dubbed CloudPlay, requires no special work on the part of the developer. This is good news for indie game developers, who usually have little to no capital to work with. The platform relies on server conversion, streaming the game directly to your device. The platform allows for game trials, freemium and full-pay business models, allowing for almost any type of game to be ported.

This is not the first time streaming gaming has been launched. There was big-name OnLive, who has had troubles, trying a full corporate reboot, so far unsuccessfully. One of their products was a mobile streaming service, which never took off. Now, OnLive suffered from early lag on their servers and was never able to move out from under that cloud.

If Agawi wants to be successful in this industry, their lag will need to be low right from the beginning. There is no room for a botched launch, and if you need proof, call John Riccitello formerly of Electronic Arts. As a developer, I certainly like the idea of code once, deploy everywhere, especially for games, which have a different user interaction model from standard apps; what I don't enjoy is my user experience being damaged by something outside of my control.

Would you giving mobile game streaming a shot, or has OnLive ruined the concept for a while? Sound off below.

BlackBerry CEO Points Out Apple's Lack of Innovation

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

BlackBerry CEO Points Out Apple's Lack of Innovation

BlackBerry's new devices launched in the States this week, and with a recent purchase for one million devices from an unnamed buyer, things look to be going very well for the company formerly known as RIM. It seems the wave of good news has really uplifted BlackBerry's CEO, Thorsten Heins, to the point where he would like to speak up about his competitors.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Heins was quick to talk about Apple and their iPhone no longer being an innovative device. Due to the problems and repetition we've seen from Apple, we haven't called Apple innovative ever. I mean, they finally included copy and paste in 2010, but more power to you, Heins.

In his interview, Heins said that the iPhone, while innovative years ago, has refused to change and now is no longer the cat's meow.

The rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don't innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about, is now five years old. The point is that you can never stand still. It is true for us as well.

Granted, until the BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry hasn't really been innovative in the past couple of years, and almost went the way of Palm. Still, the company was pushing the boundaries of technology back in the day, as almost every executive and their mother had a BlackBerry device back in 2003 to 2007. I also want to commend the CEO for not only pointing out that this industry moves so quickly - as we see with the International CES every year - but for also pointing the finger at Apple for refusing to adapt to consumer's needs. As we've said countless times in the past, just because something is popular doesn't mean it's a great solution.

A lot of people are now responding to Heins by saying that he's not one to talk and perhaps the new Q10 copies a little off the Heins-quoted five-year-old interface, however he's well within his right to point out the lack of true update to the FruitPhone 5S+. What do you think? Is Heins correct to point this out? Will the BlackBerry Q10 push Apple into maybe really upgrading its product line? Do you agree with us that Apple really isn't innovative? The place to answers all those questions can be found below, in the comments section.

Eric Schmidt Ensures Android and Chrome OS Will Remain Separate

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Eric Schmidt Ensures Android and Chrome OS Will Remain Separate

As part of Andy Rubin's departure from Google, the Android and Chrome OS divisions were merged. While many saw this as a merging of leadership during a vacuum, some saw the beginning of the end for one of Google's operating systems. Since its introduction in 2009, many have wondered why Google would create a second operating environment in Chrome OS, and how long it could survive in an already shrinking marketplace.

The environment, designed to be web-centric like webOS, has had a tremendous amount of trouble gaining any traction with customers, developers and hardware partners. To date, it seems like only Acer and Samsung have attempted Chromebooks, plus Google's own recent entry into the market. Google had hoped that the OS could live in the space being created in the low-power netbook category, but when that market collapsed, so did any hope of a successful Chrome OS.

Unfortunately for Google, that all happened several years ago, and Chrome OS has floundered since. In fact, I would wager that more machines have been sold running android than Chrome OS. That leads us to the odd decision that was creating competing products within the same company. Google has had huge success with Android, on phones, tablets and even some in the netbook space. With all of that success, why would you compete with yourself? It's a little like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works, both of which had word processors, neither of which could read each other's files early in their life.

That leads to last week's decision to merge the departments for Chrome OS and Android into one. With the duality behind Google's OS strategy, it surely seems to suggest one will go away, but Eric Schmidt, Executive chairman of Google, ensures us that both will continue. He did suggest that the two might have more overlap in the future, however. My guess is that this is a Steve Jobs-level deception and that we will see one of these brands fade away in the future.

Would you be upset if Chrome OS vanished from the face of the Earth? Did you even know there was such a thing? Let us know below.

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