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Bethesda’s Collaboration with Titan Comics Expands Game Worlds

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Lately, Bethesda has gained a lot of popularity. Sure, the company became somewhat popular thanks to RPG franchises such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, but ever since Bethesda published games like Dishonored, The Evil Within, and Wolfenstein: The New Order (and DOOM, but we’re not here to talk about that game), it has transformed into a household name beloved by gamers the world over. And what popular game developer/publisher doesn’t have comic book tie-ins? Bethesda has teamed up with Titan Comics to create several tie-in comics, including The Evil Within, Wolfenstein, and seemingly out of left field Quake Champions. Yes, the arena shooter with little-to-no story that revolutionized competitive multiplayer FPS games has its own story-driven comic. Ryan O’Sullivan, Ram V, and Dan Watters joined the panel to tell us a little about these comics.

For those of you who were unaware these comics even existed (I counted myself as one of you prior to the panel), each one expands on their respective game worlds. For instance, The Evil Within comic takes place between the first and second game, but it isn’t a standalone story. No, the comic ties into the upcoming game and gives some important character motivations. The comic, much like the game, is intentionally vauge and emulates The Evil Within‘s ability to show things Americans know and fear through a Japanese lens.

Wolfenstein, meanwhile, primarily takes place between the first and second levels of Wolfenstein: The New Order, after B.J. Blazkowicz got his head filled with shrapnel and before he awoke from his coma to resume killing Nazis. The comic dives into the events that happened after Blazkowicz’s little accident, specifically how the Nazis conquered the world; this knowledge is almost essential for Wolfenstein fans, as the game only alludes to and hints at these events through journal entries and newspaper scraps. More importantly, the comic meshes the disparaging elements of the supernatural Nazi zombies and demons from Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein 2009 and the technological Nazi robots, Supersoldatens, and Panzerhunds from Wolfenstein: The New Order. You might not know this, but Wolfenstein: The New Order is actually a sequel to Wolfenstein 2009, which is a sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein. In other words, series antagonist General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strass canonically tried to enhance the Nazi army though occultism and magitechnology pilfered from the long-dead Thule civilization before he passed off stolen Da’at Yichud technology as his own high-tech inventions. But, readers are supposed to take the comic’s story with a grain of salt, as it is told by an unreliable narrator, so we have no idea just how much of the comic is actually canon.

Finally, there’s the Quake Champions comic, the only comic in the lineup not based on a recent, story-driven game. The Quake Champions comic takes place before the first Quake game and explores the characters and game world, giving them depth and context. While the game doesn’t have a proper story, it does have plenty of eldritch, lovecraftian backstory that just begs to be explored. Oh, and apparently while a Dishonored comic also exists, the mind behind that comic couldn’t speak at the panel so I can’t talk about that comic.

I know what you’re thinking: what makes a comic based on a video game better than a movie based on a video game? Well, Titan Comics has a track record for creating well-received licensed comics faithful to their source materials, including Robotech, Doctor Who, and Warhammer 40,000. Furthermore, the creators behind the The Evil Within, Wolfenstein, and Quake Champions comics are all gamers who draw inspiration from critically acclaimed games praised for their stories, including Heavy Rain, Planescape: Torment (haven’t heard that name in a while) and Dark Souls. But, most important of all, Bethesda trusts these comic creators, so much so the company actually sent Watters a full copy of the Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus script and occasionally includes stuff made for the comics in the canonicity of their game franchises. If these acts don’t demonstrate the amount of faith and respect Bethesda has for its comic tie-in creators, I don’t know what does.

Gamers and comic book readers can purchase one or two issues of each of the The Evil Within, Wolfenstein, Quake Champions, and Dishonored comics, and more are on the way. I look forward to the impacts these comics have on gamers and upcoming Bethesda games, including The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus.

All you have to do to get my attention is talk about video games, technology, anime, and/or Dungeons & Dragons - also people in spandex fighting rubber suited monsters.

Artificial Intelligence

Gaming models are created by Auctoria using generative AI

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Aleksander Caban, co-founder of Polish VR game developer Carbon Studio, noticed a major problem in modern game design several years ago. He manually created rocks, hills, paths, and other video game environment elements, which was time-consuming and laborious.

Caban created tech to automate the process.

In collaboration with Michal Bugała, Joanna Zając, Karolina Koszuta, and Błażej Szaflik, he founded Auctoria, an AI-powered platform for creating 3D game assets. Auctoria, from Gliwice, Poland, is in Startup Battlefield 200 at Disrupt 2023.

Auctoria was founded on a passion for limitless creativity, according to Zając in an email interview. It was designed to help game developers, but anyone can use it. Few advanced tools exist for professionals; most are for hobbyists and amateurs. We want to change that.”

Using generative AI, Auctoria creates various video game models. One feature generates basic 3D game levels with pathways, while another converts uploaded images and textures of walls, floors, and columns into 3D versions.

Like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, Auctoria can generate assets from text prompts. Or they can submit a sketch, which the platform will try to turn into a digital model.

All AI algorithms and training data for Auctoria were developed in-house, according to Zając.

She said “Auctoria is based 100% on our content, so we’re not dependent on any other provider.” It’s independent—Auctoria doesn’t use open source or external engines.

In the emerging market for AI game asset generation tools, Auctoria isn’t alone. The 3DFY, Scenario, Kaedim, Mirage, and Hypothetic startups create 3D models. Even Nvidia and Autodesk are entering the space with apps like Get3D, which converts images to 3D models, and ClipForge, which generates models from text descriptions.

Meta also tried tech to create 3D assets from prompts. In December, OpenAI released Point-E, an AI that synthesizes 3D models for 3D printing, game design, and animation.

Given the size of the opportunity, the race to market new solutions isn’t surprising. According to Proficient Market Insights, 3D models could be worth $3.57 billion by 2028.

According to Zając, Auctoria’s two-year R&D cycle has led to a more robust and comprehensive toolset than rivals.

“Currently, AI-based software is lacking for creating complete 3D world models,” Zając stated. “3D editors and plugins offer only a fraction of Auctoria’s capabilities. Our team started developing the tool two years ago, giving us a ready-to-use product.”

Auctoria, like all generative AI startups, must deal with AI-generated media legal issues. Not yet clear how AI-generated works can be copyrighted in the U.S.

However, the Auctoria team of seven employees and five co-founders is delaying answering those questions. Instead, they’re piloting the tooling with game development studios like Caban’s Carbon Studio.

Before releasing Auctoria in the coming months, the company hopes to raise $5 million to “speed up the process” of creating back-end cloud services to scale the platform.

Zając stated that the funding would reduce the computing time required for creating worlds or 3D models with Auctoria. Achieving a software-as-a-service model requires both infrastructure and user experience enhancements, such as a simple UI, excellent customer service, and effective marketing. We’ll keep our core team small, but we’ll hire more by year’s end.”

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Syphon Filter on PlayStation Plus Premium: Dark Mirror and Ape Academy 2 Have Awards

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Even though trophy support for older games on PS Plus Premium isn’t always great, you can always count on Sony’s first-party games to have it.If you like collecting these digital trinkets, you’re in luck, because today’s big PlayStation Plus update includes two classic games that can now be used to earn Trophies.

Each trophy list for Ape Academy 2 and Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror includes the platinum cherry on top. You can look at their respective listings here and here if you’re interested.

The list for Dark Mirror appears to be quite simple—you can basically earn them all by finishing the game. The trophies in Ape Academy 2 appear to be a little more complicated, requiring you to complete particular objectives in card battles and advance to specified rankings. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem too difficult, so we’re looking at a couple of quite simple platinums.

Ridge Racer: Type 4 is this month’s other premium classic game; sadly, it does not offer trophies. But it makes up for it by being a complete banger.

However, will you be obtaining some of these trophies with a nostalgic flavor?

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Beautiful New Book Teaches About the Art of Horizon Forbidden West

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This year, Sony produced some truly outstanding work, releasing four high-profile games on the PS5 and PS4 (not to mention the numerous PC ports). The earliest of these, Horizon Forbidden West, arrived in February of 2022 and got the year off to a strong start. One of Aloy’s sophomore journey’s greatest strengths, among the many other things we like about it, is its excellent art direction. The Art of Horizon Forbidden West allows you to now delve deeply into the game’s visuals.

This coffee table book, which was published by Dark Horse Books, contains 200 pages of concept art and developer commentary. It provides an inside look at the process used to develop engaging characters and settings, and Forbidden West is certainly not lacking in either.

 

 

 

 

 

There will be two editions of the book: standard and deluxe. Both are hardback books, with the deluxe edition having pages with metallic edges and a unique slipcase. These are now up for pre-order and will go on sale on April 25, 2023.

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