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Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Simpsons Meet Minecraft Xbox One and Xbox 360 Editions Today

Starting today, Minecraft players can bring their favorite characters from The Simpsons to life in The Simpsons Skin Pack, the newest downloadable content for Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition and Minecraft: Xbox One Edition, available for $2.99 USD. Create your own blocky version of Springfield with the entire Simpsons family—Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie— plus 19 of Springfield Elementary School’s beloved characters from the Emmy Award-winning animated show and the longest-running scripted show in television history.

A full character list follows: 
Homer Simpson
Marge Simpson
Bart Simpson
Lisa Simpson
Maggie Simpson
Principal Seymour Skinner
Mrs. Edna Krabappel
Groundskeeper Willie
Otto Mann
Milhouse Van Houten
Nelson Muntz
Jimbo Jones
Ralph Wiggum
Martin Prince
Kearney
Dolph
Wendell
Database
Üter
Janey Powell
Superintendent Gary Chalmers
Mr. Dewey Largo
Sherri
Terri

Stay tuned for more information on
The Simpsons skin pack on other platforms.
Posted By: Xbox One Games

How The Escapists Made a Clean Getaway on Xbox One

Good news: You no longer have to commit a horrific crime and be judged and sentenced by a jury of your peers in order to experience the exhilarating rush of a good old-fashioned prison break. In fact, the all-new Xbox One title The Escapists lets you stage a great escape from the comfort of your living room couch. It’s quite a unique little game, and we recently caught up with creator Chris Davis (from The Escapists developer Mouldy Toof Studios) and production director Kel Aston (from publisher Team17) to figure out just where the heck this innovative gem of a game came from.

Xbox Wire: What was the first inspiration behind The Escapists? How did it evolve from that initial idea?

Chris Davis:
It started life as a top-down, school-themed game – a tribute of sorts to one of my favorites from the ZX Spectrum era called Back 2 Skool. It was one of the very first sandbox-style games, and I loved the freedom it gave you to mess about in a school, skipping lessons and being a menace.

I can’t remember what triggered it, but a few weeks into development, I switched the theme of the game to a prison one instead. I felt it was a more unique angle with a better endgame (escaping), so I went with that.

Xbox Wire: Have you ever been to prison? Or is the game based mostly on what you’ve gleaned from watching various television shows and movies? Any in particular that really stand out?

Chris Davis:
Nah, I’ve never been to prison! I just watched every prison-based show, documentary, and movie I could get my hands on, harvesting anything that would translate well into a game. Standouts are obviously “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Escape from Alcatraz,” and “Prison Break.”

Xbox Wire: How did you guys end up coming to the pixel art aesthetic? Was that the plan from the start?

Chris Davis:
It wasn’t really a decision as such; it’s just the way I’ve always done my game artwork. I like to keep it simple, so I can focus on the gameplay. I think Minecraft taught everyone that pixelated retro visuals still have a place in gaming.

Xbox Wire: What were the biggest challenges you guys faced in bringing the game together? How long did the project take?

Kel Aston:
The biggest challenge was the sheer amount of events and outcomes the game has to handle. You’ve got all the A.I. for guards and inmates… then there are the opinions, reactions, and player stats on top of all this, as well the tracking of the days, escape routes, items, and so on. So with this huge amount of logic and data, you need to be ultra-careful when changing things, to ensure that you don’t bring the house crashing down. We spent around six weeks getting the Gamescom demo in place, then after that, we took about five months to build the game and get it ready for Microsoft submission at the end of 2014.

I guess another challenge was taking a mouse-and-keyboard game and getting it working on an Xbox One controller. We soon found that the paper designs we had for the game weren’t as intuitive when they were in there. So we constantly iterated and usability-tested the controls throughout the project. What we ended up with is awesome!

Chris Davis:
Another challenge was knowing where to draw the line. It’s quite a unique concept, and there were a lot of additional good ideas that could have been added, but there’s a point where you have to just stop adding things and polish what you have, or the game will never be finished.

Xbox Wire: The game seems to lean toward being a Roguelike. Is it intentionally challenging in that hardcore, Roguelike way?

Kel Aston:
It is intentionally challenging although we made is easier in the last few weeks of development due to the feedback we received from usability testing. We found that people were enjoying the game without really “getting” it (for example, one player was more than happy to spend his days walking about the prison, stealing socks, flushing them down the toilet, rinse and repeat – he’d gotten to day 10 without any attempts to escape, yet he said he was having a lot of fun with the game). So, we added the tutorial and redefined some of the controls. The tutorial is pretty basic, but it shows the player that there is both an underground and vent layer, plus it covers combat and crafting – which we found were being missed by players. With the basics understood, this equips the player with enough information to go out there, explore, experiment, and have fun.

Chris Davis:
I grew up playing games that didn’t hold a player’s hand as much as they do these days. I always loved the huge sense of achievement I had from solving something myself instead of just following a pointer around. That said, we didn’t want to make it frustrating, either. It was tricky trying to achieve a balance between the two, but we seem to have found a great balance that our players love!
Posted By: Xbox One Games

Xbox One March System Update: Screenshots and Suggested Friends Now Available in Preview

Earlier this month, we added a host of new features and improvements on Xbox One and starting today, members of the Xbox One preview program will get to check out even more new features – some of which are planned for the March system update.

Check out the list of features in the March system update preview that are starting to roll out tonight:

  • Screenshots New in preview is a highly requested feature by our community from the Xbox feedback site.  While playing a game, you can now take screenshots on your Xbox One console by simply double-tapping the Xbox button on your controller to capture a screenshot and pressing Y to save the screenshot. You can also say “Xbox Take a Screenshot” to take and save a screenshot.

    The Upload app is being updated so that you can manage your screenshots in addition to your game clips. You can use a screenshot as your background, by viewing the screenshot in full-screen mode from the Upload app, then, press the Menu button and select Set as background.  In coming preview builds, you will be able to use Upload to share screenshots to your activity feed, attach to messages, add screenshots to your showcase, and eventually share to Twitter. Also, your screenshots will be visible in your profile alongside your game clips.  In the initial preview build, the sharing functions are not yet enabled, but you can start capturing screenshots and using them for your backgrounds.

  • Suggested friends With the suggested friends feature, the Friends area in home and your friends list will help you find and add friends. Suggested friends will include people you might know, so you add more friends to game with, and top community broadcasters and clip creators, so you can get more great content in your activity feed. We’re also adding a new suggested friends page to the Friends area.
  • Sharing your name – This month in preview, we’re rolling out two new ways to share your real name; with all of your friends or to everyone in the Xbox Live community. You can also continue to share your real name with select friends, or with no one, if that’s what you prefer. Gamertags are still the primary method of identifying yourself on Xbox Live, but sharing your real name helps people recognize you who might not know you by your gamertag. The new name sharing options can be found under Friends > My profile > Name sharing settings.
  • Tile transparency – We continue to listen to your feedback and are adding a setting to enable you to vary the level of transparency for your background images, go to Settings > My Xbox > Tile transparency.
  • Privacy and online safety settings – We added a new setting for sharing voice search data to create an option for you to allow collection and analysis of voice data when using Xbox – Bing to search. You can go to Settings > Privacy and online safety > Share voice search data to change the setting.
  • Report spam – The Messages app has an added option to allow you to notify Xbox when you receive spam.  You can now select a specific message, press the A button and then select Report > Spam to report a specific message as spam.
  • OneGuide for Australia – Support for OneGuide will continue in preview in Australia for free-to-air TV listings.
  • Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in Australia – Xbox One owners in Australia with an Xbox Digital TV Tuner can now use it with the preview builds of this month’s release.

Let us know what you think of this month’s preview and stay tuned for more news on Xbox One system updates.

Posted By: Xbox One Games

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