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Halo composer Martin O'Donnell's music remains in Destiny after Bungie departure

After the surprise announcement that longtime Bungie composer Martin O'Donnell had been terminated, Joystiq confirmed with the studio's COO Pete Parsons that O'Donnell's music remains in Destiny. We were on hand at Bungie for a preview event, where Parsons told us, "Even the music you heard yesterday was from Marty and Mike Salvatori and C. Paul Johnson. All of their music is in." O'Donnell has collaborated with Michael Salvatori on the Halo series soundtrack for years, and more recently with Bungie sound designer and composer C. Paul Johnson.

Earlier this week, O'Donnell tweeted that Bungie's board of directors fired him "without cause" on April 11. Bungie community manager David Dague responded, saying O'Donnell and the studio parted "as friends," and wished him luck "in all his future endeavors." Later on the same day, Parsons addressed O'Donnell's departure, saying, "At Bungie, we don't take that kind of thing lightly. We don't make decisions lightly. We're a team that's committed to making an amazing game, set in an amazing universe."
[Image: Activision]

Greninja, Charizard fight it out in new Super Smash Bros. screens

Following up on a recent Nintendo Direct feature, Nintendo has released a new set of Super Smash Bros. screenshots showcasing Sheik, Yoshi and Zero Suit Samus alongside newly announced Pokemon challengers Greninja and Charizard.

Nintendo outlined its plans for online play in Super Smash Bros. earlier this month, revealing that gameplay will be split between casual-focused "For Fun" and tournament-styled "For Glory" modes. Nintendo also announced that the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. will feature a new dungeon-diving Smash Mode that replaces the Wii U's traditional Adventure Mode.

Super Smash Bros. will launch for the Nintendo 3DS this summer. A Wii U release will follow in the winter.

[Image: Nintendo]

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 won't swing onto Xbox One at launch


With only a couple of weeks before the launch of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 across ... like, every platform, the Xbox One will be a notable exception. Activision has postponed the launch of the game on Microsoft's console, but isn't sharing any details as to why.

"We are working with Microsoft in an effort to release The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game on Xbox One," the publisher informed Joystiq in a statement. "Currently, the game will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and the PC on April 29, 2014 as previously announced."

There's no timetable on when Peter will parker himself on Xbox One.

Gods will be patched with Age of Wonders 3 v1.09

The first official patch for Age of Wonders 3 is live. Version 1.09 of Triumph Studios' recent release corrects hardware-specific issues, registration problems, optimizes game performance and tweaks AI behavior as well as adding critical balance fixes to the game.

Based on feedback, the developer has also added a few other features, such as an option for quick saving and native high resolution support up to 2560x1440 / 2560x1600. The patch is available as an automatic download via Steam or as a separate file via GOG.com.

Age of Wonders 3 is a strategic role-playing game Joystiq's Earnest Cavalli called "as glorious a resurrection as the series could have hoped for," in his glowing review.

Age of Wonders 3 v1.09 change log can be found after the break.
[Image: Triumph Studios]

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Joystiq Discussion: When and why do you pay to skip ahead?


Joystiq's own Xav de Matos recently presented the crew with an all-too-familiar scenario: "My sister plays Candy Crush and couldn't beat a level," Xav told us, lamenting what today's youth has come to. "She paid real money to skip the stage. I told her she was the problem and yelled at her on everyone's behalf."

But there was no consensus amongst the staff! Some thought paying to skip challenges in games was the worst sort of design. Others thought that paying to skip chunks, whether in light games like Candy Crush Saga or heavier fare like Professor Layton, should come with penalties, such as perhaps blocking you from playing some content later on. Some even argued that plunking down cold hard cash for progress should get you other bonuses, like unlocking other cheats, to justify the cost. As it is with the entire gaming world, we're still trying to figure out how paying to play without needing to do the play part should work in quality game design - if it should work at all.

As we're wont to do, we're asking you to weigh in on the subject as well. Share your thoughts on paying for progress by answering these questions in the comments:

1) Why would you pay to skip parts of a game?

2) How should paying to skip affect the rest of the game, i.e. added penalties or bonuses?

3) What encourages you not to skip content?

Bonus: DId anyone out there pay to skip the boss pictured above? How did you do it?
[Image: Square-Enix via Game Informer]

Disney Infinity 2.0 arrives this August with Marvel heroes [Update]

Update: D23 has since posted a correction, noting it "erroneously reported about the launch of the next chapter of Disney Infinity" and that the information it provided was incorrect. It added that further information on the future of the series will be revealed on April 30.

Original story:

Disney Infinity 2.0 is slated to launch this August, according to a since-removed snippet from Disney's official fan club site, D23. While the D23 blog entry in question is still available to view, a cached version of it notes that the Disney Infinity follow-up "is coming in August 2014, and a teaser trailer can be viewed at Marvel.com," likely referencing the teaser posted by Marvel earlier this month.

"The teaser promises such Marvel-ous additions to the game as familiar Marvel characters, objects, and vehicles-the possibilities are infinite," the site continued. The previous sandbox-style adventure game from Avalanche Software did wonders for Disney Interactive, driving its revenue to $403 million in the first fiscal quarter of 2014. The company also saw losses in Q2 2013 and Q3 2013 to the tune of $54 million and $58 million, respectively. That led to layoffs in its games and Internet divisions in March that numbered 700, at which point Disney said it plans to scale back annual game output "by as much as 50 percent."

We've reached out to Disney to confirm the release window for Disney Infinity 2.0 and will update as we learn more.
[Image: Disney]

'Stiq Tips: A Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn starter guide


Any MMO can be daunting if you go in blind. Although Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn isn't nearly as hardcore as FFXI, it still has a few snags that newcomers can hit if you aren't careful. Since many of you will be jumping in for the first time with the PlayStation 4, I've compiled some tips to help you ease into the process.

First, understand that when creating a character, your race doesn't matter all that much. Yes, you can definitely do your research if you want to min-max and get that extra half a percentage of efficiency for your favorite class, but as a general rule the game is designed around the class system, so don't freak out when you're making your first step into the creation process.

Having said that, the game is also designed to accommodate one character -- no alternates (alts) needed. What I mean by that is one character can simply switch classes, start from level one, and go all the way up to the maximum of 50 at any time (once you've unlocked the ability in the main story). Say you're a Lancer; all you need to do to become an axe-wielding Marauder is visit the Marauder's guild in its major city, talk to the guildmaster, get your first axe, and equip it. Boom -- you've switched classes.

This encourages you to play the entire Realm Reborn experience with one main, in addition to full access to freely explore other classes and earn some select "cross-class" abilities to bring back to your other jobs. The other neat thing is that the game keeps the level of your highest class in mind, and gives you an experience bonus proportional to what level you are with your new class -- so experiment away!

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'Every Action Counts' in space shooter Galak-Z

Image In Galak-Z, every action counts! Why? Because in 17-BIT's upcoming PC, Vita and PS4 "roguelike spaceship shooter," death hits the reset button on your progress. Can you help maintain the exemplary 34% success rate? Find out this fall. [Image: 17-BIT]... Continue Reading

Curses 'N Chaos waves in reveal trailer


Mercenary Kings developer Tribute Games showed off its new game, Curses 'n Chaos at PAX East this past weekend, but if you weren't lucky enough to see it then, here's what it looks like.

Yup, what you see is pretty much the deal. It's an extremely minimalistic 2D action game where players survive wave after wave of baddies, collecting coins and special power-ups to survive whatever monster pops in from the periphery of the screen. Survive the horde mode this fall.

Nintendo turned down Skylanders exclusivity deal

Nintendo reportedly turned down a deal that would have launched Activision's highly successful toys-come-to-life series Skylanders exclusively for the Wii. A report from Polygon on the Toys for Bob franchise notes that, despite Activision's confidence in the product, it was looking for a partner to spread the risks of the venture.

"[Nintendo] spent a long time looking and looking," Toys for Bob co-founder Paul Reiche said. "They were just like 'we have never seen anything like this before.' I've always wondered about the full meaning of that comment [laughs]." Nintendo opted out of making a full commitment to the project, though the two companies did enter a co-marketing agreement for the series. "Clearly, they have got properties well suited to this world," Reiche added. "Why it is that they didn't rush in here will probably haunt them for the rest of their days."

Activision's Skylander series has since surpassed $2 billion in sales worldwide. The franchise has found its way to ten different platforms, including the recently launched Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Though Nintendo would later experiment with a similar game in the disappointing Pokemon Rumble, it would be Disney that would eventually invest in the genre with its Disney Infinity series, leveraging the company's multitude of popular characters.

"Nintendo could have kicked Disney's ass," Reiche said. "If I was running Nintendo I would have jumped on this."
[Image: Activision]

PlayStation Now-capable Bravia TVs launching in June

Sony has announced that its upcoming series of PlayStation Now-compatible 4K "Ultra HD" Bravia televisions, first revealed at CES 2014, will launch in June. A total of nine models from three series will hit the market with prices ranging from a $2,099 (49") to $24,999 (85").

With the ability to access Sony's upcoming PlayStation Now service, the Bravia sets will be able to stream PS3 games and play with a DualShock 3 controller (which, for the price, you'd hope would be included, but Sony's press release doesn't specify). The foundation for PlayStation Now is Gaikai, the games streaming service Sony purchased for $380 million in 2012.

Sony is one of many television manufacturers that continues to push HD technology into the 4K future. Ultra HD 4K televisions (also simply known as UHD TV) claim to deliver four times the picture resolution of standard 1080p sets; 4K televisions increase pixel count per image from two million to eight million.

"We strongly believe 4K is the future for entertainment and we remain committed to leading the 4K movement, from lens to living room, in a way that only a company like Sony can," said Mike Fasulo, president at Sony Electronics.

Japan gets Niconico PS4 streaming on April 30

PlayStation 4 owners in Japan will have the option to stream gameplay to Niconico, a site that lets users upload, view and share video clips, starting April 30, Sony announced (as translated by Gematsu). Those visiting the Nico Nico Super Conference 3 on April 26 and April 27 will be able to test the streaming functionality in person before it arrives via firmware update. While the two updates may not be related, the upcoming 1.70 firmware for the console brings the ability to save videos and screenshots to a USB drive.

The PS4 launched in Japan in February, selling 322,083 units in its opening weekend. According to a translation of the Niconico's website, it will begin offering free one-month trials for PS4 users shortly. The streaming service carries a monthly fee of about $5; it is unclear if the service will require a PlayStation Plus subscription as well.
[Image: Sony]

Watch Firaxis boldly bring Civilization to space from PAX East



Missed the PAX East panel that revealed Civilization: Beyond Earth to the world? Maybe you just want to relive the magic you already witnessed live in Boston? Firaxis has you covered either way, uploading its panel from the show, complete with a peek at the future of the Sid Meier series.

Civilization: Beyond Earth takes the addictive franchise into space this fall, though the developer has some experience with space exploration. The developer's decision to boldly go into space allows its designers and artists to free themselves from a "historical context," Firaxis designer and programmer Anton Strenger told Joystiq at PAX East.

"We, as designers, were free to come up with really fun new gameplay systems that didn't really make sense in a more historical game, or even like a fantasy game." In Beyond Earth, Strenger said for example, players may launch satellites over a planet, influencing the events below.
[Image: Firaxis]

Deadlight now free for Xbox Live Gold members

As promised, the Tequila Works-developed survival game, Deadlight, is the latest freebie for Xbox Live Gold members. The Xbox 360 game – regularly priced at $15 – will remain free until April 30.

In her review of Deadlight, Joystiq's Jess Conditt said the game "shines in its detailed world-building," though its gameplay "fails to live up to the standard" set by the game's "glorious" art direction.

The Xbox Live Games with Gold program offers two free titles per month to Live subscribers. Earlier this month users were offered a free copy of Hitman: Absolution. Unlike the program's PlayStation counterpart, players can continue to enjoy any games they have downloaded if their Live subscription lapses.
[Image: Tequila Works]

Behind-the-scenes 'Final Hours of Titanfall' app now available

The Final Hours of Titanfall, an in-depth look at the development of Respawn Entertainment's first game, is now available to download on iPad, Windows Surface as well as PC and Mac via Origin for $1.99. Versions of the app are also planned for Android and iPhone, and both a text-only version for Kindle as well as an audiobook version are being considered.

Created over a four-year span by Geoff Keighley, the app is a 25,000-word deep-dive on Titanfall's development and the legal issues that Respawn co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella settled with Activision in May 2012 pryor to West's departure from the developer in March 2013. Keighley conducted interviews with over 80 people to chronicle Respawn's beginnings, which cover the "toxic mix of office politics and creative struggles the build the next great videogame franchise." It also features concept art and videos from the early days of the game's development.

This isn't Keighley's first foray into longform app development, as the behind-the-scenes "Final Hours" series includes an episodic webseries on Square Enix's Tomb Raider reboot, an app for Portal 2 and one detailing the creation of Mass Effect 3.
[Image: EA Games]

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Show - 019: Game of the Year Talk 05

Latest episode: Friday, December 30th, 2011


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