Breakaway has a fresh new trailer out for Gamescom today, along with a run-down of all its toons. You’ll recall the game from its slow-cook reveal last fall as one of the new titles Amazon Game Studios is currently building out — this one’s the stream-centric 4v4 online brawler.
“Breakaway is a team battle sport that blends the speed, strategy, and teamwork of sports in a competitive multiplayer action game, and is being developed with constant feedback and input from the community. Amazon Game Studios has partnered closely with Twitch to design the game to be as fun to watch as it is to play, and has added special features to help broadcaster engage their audiences.”
Check out all the new assets from the con, and make sure you’re signed up for the alpha!
It has now been seven months since John Smedley shut down Pixelmage Games and took his team over to Amazon Game Studios to set up shop in San Diego. We’ve been greatly curious about what game he’s been heading — and if it is an MMO — but until recently Smed has stayed out of the spotlight to get work done.
This is why we’ve perked up to see him sit down with VentureBeat for an extended interview about his new employer and his take on the direction that the industry is heading. He has a lot of opinions on just about everything, ranging from virtual reality to Twitch integration to the rise of e-sports.
If you’re hoping that the notoriously chatty Smedley was going to reveal what game his studio is making, you’re in for disappointment. He indicates that he’s very excited about the project but is tight-lipped about specifics.
As the field of MOBAs and competitive e-sports titles becomes increasingly crowded, studios are turning to more… unorthodox methods to attract viewers and attention. Broadcast your tournament on cable TV? Recruit Steven Seagal for some reason? It’s been done, so very done, which is why Amazon Game Studios called up its friends in the Dutch navy and asked politely if they could borrow a battleship to host a Breakaway game match.
OK, so it was an “offshore patrol vessel,” but the stunt actually happened. Two e-sports teams came aboard the HNLMS Holland for a head-to-head match in the online sports game. The devs said that to their knowledge, this was the first e-sports match to take place on a battleship at sea.
While you ponder what lunacy marketers will come up with next — e-sports in a volcano! E-sports on death row! E-sports between presidential candidates! — you can check out the highlight reel after the break and marvel that you have lived to see such wonders.
Gamasutra is reporting this afternoon that Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet has picked up former Ubisoft Montreal Creative Director Jason VandenBerghe. His new title on the MMO? Director of Design. He explains the move in a Facebook post:
“The tl;dr version is that I went out [to Seattle] on a lark –and then fell head-over-heels in love. [ANet Lead Designer] Isaiah [Cartwright] did an amazing job of setting the table… but it was all the people that I met there there that sealed the deal. It’s a big step. I won’t be making games directly any more – I’ll be studio level, shepherding teams and growing people. I’m… sort of thrilled about how difficult that sounds. It’s exactly what I want to be doing right now.”
ArenaNet is currently working on the finale for Guild Wars 2’s current living season storyline as well as a heavily leaked expansion. It’s suffered a number of high-profile staff departures in the past couple of years, most of them moving to Amazon Game Studios.
Next month, big things are happening over at Daybreak: Daybreak is holding a job fair in which the studio will seek potential candidates for hire.
While the games and projects related to these positions haven’t been made public, we do know that Daybreak was looking for software engineers, software architects, programmers, game designers, UI designers and programmers, artists, a marketing analytics manager, project managers, project producers, and QA engineers. Also, and we cannot stress this enough, there will be delicious appetizers.
Speculation time! Is Daybreak gearing up for a new big project or is the studio attempting to fill in the gaps of its staff after losing team members to the likes of Intrepid Studios and Amazon Game Studios?
Last September, the internet was buzzing about Amazon Game Studios’ big reveals, including Breakaway, which the company teased for weeks ahead of time. It turned out not to be an MMO — we’ve got New World for that fix — but a “mythological sport brawler,” a 4v4, third-person MOBA-lite built from the ground up for streaming. Since then, the game’s run a few alpha tests and put the feedback to work, overhauling the characters one by one. Jarra was first up among the warriors, and now AGS has a huge dev blog out detailing changes to the rest.
For starters, several of the warrior-archetype characters got renames (Spartacus to Argus, Anne Bonny to Kyra, and Morgan Le Fey to Korryn) and style buffs; the studio tweaked power ranges, control, strafing, buildables, text chat, replays, the relic running system, and the gold economy.
“Don’t worry – Breakaway’s still about fast action, strategic teamwork, and dunking on fools,” AGS says. “We listened to your feedback and made changes we believe only refine what makes Breakaway great.”
Back in February, we learned the fate of MMORPG industry veteran John Smedley: He’s heading up a new game for Amazon Game Studios.
Smed is well known for his 20-year reign at SOE and then Daybreak, which he departed in 2015, and most recently for Hero’s Song studio Pixelmage Games, which closed down last year ostensibly for financial reasons.
While Smed wouldn’t speak about the game on the record back then, Amazon did cite his MMO experience when telling gamers that his game is “an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world.” We might have a clue today as he’s tweeted about PC shooters, soliciting opinions on gunplay.
Amazon Game Studios continues to lure talented developers away for its new multiplayer projects. Sebastian Strzalkowski became the latest to defect to the new studio, saying that he is joining the San Diego team after 13 years of work at SOE and Daybreak.
Strzalkowski’s portfolio covers a wide swath of Daybreak projects, including being art director for H1Z1 and having worked on Free Realms, EverQuest Next, and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures.
“Grateful for 13 rewarding yrs at SOE/Daybreak, honored to work with such talented folks,” Strzalkowski posted on Twitter. “Starting new job @AMZNGameStudios later this month!”
This time last year, I polled the Massively OP writers for their opinions on which MMOs had had the best year, or half year, up to that point in 2016 — which games were the most influential and important specifically in that time period. I was pretty surprised at the spread of answers too. Since we’re nearing the midpoint of 2017, I thought we should renew that question and see whether anything’s changed. So as last time, I’m asking everyone to pick three games that represent the MMORPG zeitgeist, using whatever combination of criteria they wish – revenue, playerbase size, hype, anticipation, update cycle, and so forth. What should we be paying attention to? Which games are a sign of the times? And just who is dominating now in 2017?
Here’s the million-dollar question of the day: What is John Smedley making for Amazon Game Studio’s San Diego branch? Ever since being handed the reins of a new sub-studio back in February with a bulk of his Pixelmage team, we’ve been intensely curious about whether Smedley is staying close to his MMO roots in his new project.
Perhaps we might glean a few details from the job listings on Amazon’s site. The studio is looking for several positions for art, combat systems, and engineering, and there are a few bullet points in the job descriptions that hint at the project in question.
One of the job descriptions has the best hint yet, with the position being tasked to “architect and develop the real time combat system for a cutting edge action multiplayer game.” Another intriguing entry mentions a “real time terrain deformation system based on physics simulation.”
A job listing for a player relations specialist may be inadvertently giving us a glimpse of a few details concerning Amazon’s upcoming New World MMORPG.
Tucked inside the job posting is a description of New World:
New World is a massively multiplayer, open-ended sandbox game that allows you to carve your own destiny with other players in a living, hostile, cursed land. How you play, what you do, and whom you work with or against is up to you. Live on your own amidst the supernatural terrors or join with others to build thriving civilizations. In this evolving world that transforms with the changing of the seasons, weather, and time of day, the only limit is your own ambition.
Cast your mind back to Christmas carols and unfortunate egg nog binges of late 2016, and you might recall that Amazon Games Studios was running its first title, Breakaway, through a short alpha test.
Clearly it was a beneficial test for the studio’s 4v4 brawler, as the devs said that they received a load of useful feedback for the game’s direction and development. “We identified four opportunities where we could tangibly change the gameplay for a better experience,” AGS said. “Give players better movement options, more options for combat capabilities, refine the buildable experience, and revisit the balance of gold in the game.”
As the team works on all of that, a new warrior steps onto Breakaway’s battlefield. This would be Jarra, the shadow huntress, a stealth assassin with low health and high burst DPS against single targets. The team announced her on a recent livestream, which you can watch below.
Hands up: Any Massively OP readers play the crap out of Command & Conquer back in the day? In the ’90s, Westwood Studios was a legend for that series (and how awesome was Red Alert? Here’s the Hell March theme for your Thursday listening pleasure) before the studio was purchased by EA and shuttered.
Well, one of the co-founders of Westwood, Louis Castle, is being given another chance at widespread glory. Castle was recently hired by Amazon Game Studios Seattle to head up the company’s sci-fi multiplayer title Crucible.
Castle told Games Industry that he’s thrilled to get to work on a brand-new IP: “I don’t know too many game developers who would prefer to pursue licensed IP over the chance to create something. The new IP problem space is wide open and the possibilities are endless. I’ve personally had about equal amounts of success in both adapting and building IP.”