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1. Annecy 2015: Thoughts From a First-Time Attendee

Observations and tips from a first-time attendee of the world's largest animation festival.

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2. School visits

I had a few wonderful school visits recently...

In St Christopher's School I helped with a project where the kids made their own picture books. I did a day of tutorials, some sketching and in the end made a whole dummy book on stage.
They had a biology lesson in the gym, handling exotic animals, which was great fun to draw.





 In the Haberdasher's Aske's School for Girls I visited for a day with Alexis. We read them our books and drew monsters together.


Very important to have a party stomach. 
modular beasts.


It was awesome.
Thanks everyone!



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3. Staten Island Direwolves to Host George R.R. Martin Night

Stark Direwolf Game of Thrones (GalleyCat)The Staten Island Yankees will be hosting “George R.R. Martin Night” on August 8 in New York. During this event, the Staten Island Yankees will be called the “Staten Island Direwolves.”

According to MLB.com, Martin himself will be present and signing autographs. A wolf from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary will also be a guest; this animal will make an appearance on the field.

The players will wear specially-made jerseys with fabric that features a brown fur and gray material design. One jersey will be auctioned off to raise funds for the wolf sanctuary. (via DNAinfo.com)

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4. Build a Freelance Illustration Business with This 3-Day Workshop

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.31.50 PM

Are you a designer, illustrator or creative doodler? Have you ever wondered how you could turn your talents into a business? This three-day workshop will help you create a plan for leveraging your creativity into a successful freelance business.

Run by Sally S. Swindell and Nate Padavick (illustrators and co-founders of They Draw and Cook) this course will give you an inside look at how two artists have built a successful design & illustration studio by fostering a community of artists that empower each other to grow their businesses.

Join Salli and Nate for (3) hour-long sessions to learn how you can leverage community & online content to build a successful freelance business around your creative skills.

Click here for more info >>

 

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5. Comic-Con 2015: Nine Animation Events We’re Excited About

Cut through the clutter with our handy guide to the must-see animation events happening in San Diego this year.

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6. Literary Events This Week: Genevieve Valentine and a Summer Poetry Panel

wordstore1Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

Larry Kramer and Bill Goldstein will sit for a conversation on Kramer’s book, The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart. Check it out on Tuesday, June 30 at McNally Jackson starting 7 p.m. (New York, NY)

The Summer in Poetry City panel will feature five writers. Meet them on Tuesday, June 30 at the Housing Works Bookstore Café starting 7 p.m. (New York, NY)

Genevieve Valentine and Kelly Link will join forces for a discussion on Valentine’s book, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. Join in on Wednesday, July 1 at Word Bookstore (the Brooklyn branch) starting 7 p.m. (Brooklyn, NY)

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7. Mary Badham to Read New Harper Lee Novel at the 92Y

gosetawatchmanMary Badham, the actress who portrayed young Scout Finch in the 1962 film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, will celebrate the release of Go Set a Watchman at a reading event. She plans to read from both the first Harper Lee novel and the highly anticipated sequel.

This event is scheduled to take place on July 14 at the 92Y in New York. For those who can’t make it in-person, it will also be broadcast live on the organization’s website.

Badham gave this statement in the press release: “Of course at age 10 I wasn’t aware of the impact Mockingbird had at the time, or the impact the film would have later, but it has been a special part of my life ever since. Now I am really excited about Watchman and being able to share it with Miss Nelle’s loyal and passionate fans.”

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8. Deep Valley, Minnesota, Here I Come!

Today begins the Deep Valley Homecoming, a celebration of Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books in her hometown of Mankato, Minnesota (the real Deep Valley). I won’t be joining the fun until tomorrow—can’t wait!

I have visited Mankato once before, after the 2010 Kidlitcon in Minneapolis. The awesome Kathy Baxter took my pal Margaret and me around town, showing us All the Important Places From the Books, and I just about died of excitement (as Margaret chronicled in her photos). The brass bowl! Winona’s wall! Carney’s sleeping porch! Lincoln Park!

THE BENCH, for heaven’s sake!

Betsy and Tacy's bench on the hill. Photo by Margaret Berns.

Betsy and Tacy’s bench on the hill. Photo by Margaret Berns.

Yes, I looked exactly that goofy the whole time. What can I say? I’m a fan.

My Deep Valley Homecoming schedule

Sunday, June 28th
12:15pm: Children’s literature panel discussion at the Book Festival
2:15pm: I will read from one of my books

Monday, June 29th
11:30am: Presentation at the Historical Society. Topic: the publishing history of the Betsy-Tacy series.

I hope to see you there!

Related posts:
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
The Betsy-Tacy Songbook
Interview with Mitali Perkins, Jennifer Hart, and me about Maud’s books
Betsy-Tacy booksigning at ALA Midwinter
Photos of my visit to the real Deep Valley, as chronicled by Margaret in Minnesota
Why I love Carney
Why I love Emily
A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy

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9. Pasadena Loves YA Recap

Hi, guys.  Today I am a posting a very late recap of last month's Pasadena Loves YA event. This was the second year of the event and it just keeps getting better each year. 2015 boasted an amazing line up of 20 fantastic YA authors.

Attending authors included Mary McCoy, Katie Alender, Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Julie Berry, Livia Blackburne, Virginia Boecker, Jessica Brody, Stephen Chbosky, Brandy Colbert, Ava Dellaira, Kody Keplinger, Liz Maccie, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, Alexandra Monir, Jennifer Niven, Romina Russell, Sarah Tomp, & Kiersten White.

I was volunteering again this year so I didn't have a lot of time to go to the panels and signings. I was able to pop into a couple of them though for a few minutes. The photos in this post were taken by our good friend Katie F. Katie is an amazing photographer and we are lucky that she makes the time to come to our events to take photos. 

Keynote speaker Mary McCoy. photo by Katie Ferguson

Keynote speaker Mary McCoy. photo by Katie Ferguson

The day started off with a keynote speech by Dead To Me author and LAPL teen librarian Mary McCoy. We have known Mary for a while now and her passion and love for YA shines through in everything she does. She started off the event on the right foot with her wonderful keynote speech. 

First up was the Second Chances panel featuring Brandy Colbert, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, and Sarah Tomp. 

Brandy Colbert, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Brandy Colbert, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Unfortunately I was not able to see any of this panel but I heard later that it was a good one and that it was standing room only. The signing line for the panel was long but everyone was super patient and the authors took a little time with all of their fans.

Lauren Miller. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Lauren Miller. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Morgan Matson and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Morgan Matson and Sarah Tomp. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Next on the agenda was the The First Time: From Draft to Finish Line panel featuring Victoria Aveyard,  Alexis BassVirginia Boecker, Kody Keplinger. This was a really fun panel. Several of the authors came from northern California so it was a real treat to have them. Kody Kepliger was a favorite of mine and it was really cool to finally meet her.  Fans were so excited to meet the authors on this panel that they started a line during the panel. 

Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Virginia Boecker, and Kody Keplinger. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Virginia Boecker, and Kody Keplinger. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kody Keplinger and a fan. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kody Keplinger and a fan. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy was up next with Livia Blackburne, Jessica Brody, Romina Russell, and Kiersten White. This was another standing room only panel. Many of our authors were super nice and sat on the floor while watching panels in order to make room for fans. 

YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy panel with Livia Blackburne, Jessica Brody, Romina Russell, and Kiersten White. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy panel with Livia Blackburne, Jessica Brody, Romina Russell, and Kiersten White. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kiersten White and  Livia Blackburne. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Kiersten White and  Livia Blackburne. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The lovely Jessica Brody. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The lovely Jessica Brody. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The next panel of the day was Dial "M" for Murder. This panel featured Katie Alender, Julie Berry, Mary McCoy, and Alexandra Monir. 

Alexandra Monir, Julie Berry, and Katie Alender. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Alexandra Monir, Julie Berry, and Katie Alender. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Katie Alender and Mary McCoy. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Katie Alender and Mary McCoy. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Alexandra Monir. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Alexandra Monir. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The final panel of the day was Tough Topics with panelists Stephen ChboskyAva DellairaLiz Maccie, and Jennifer Niven. I was actually able to watch most of this panel. It covered some tough topics from bullying to writing honestly to favorite television shows. Jennifer admitted to being a huge "Supernatural" fan while Liz and Stephen said that they really liked "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." 

Ava Dellaira, Liz Maccie, and Jennifer Niven. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Ava Dellaira, Liz Maccie, and Jennifer Niven. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Liz Maccie and Stephen Chbosky. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Liz Maccie and Stephen Chbosky. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Amazing nails by Novels and Nail Polish. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

Amazing nails by Novels and Nail Polish. Photo by Katie Ferguson.

The signing line for the last panel was very long, but everyone was extremely patient and cool about the wait. The authors were super kind and stayed until the last person got their book signed.

Overall it was a very successful and, we hope, fun event. Many thanks to all of the authors and attendees. Also many thanks to all of the amazing volunteers for the event. There would be too many to name here but you know who you are. Big thanks to Jane Gov, Bridge to Books and the Pasadena Public Library for organizing such and amazing event. Thanks to all of the wonderful bloggers who participated in the blog tour and came out to the event and to Vroman's for selling books for the event.

If you want to see more pics, head over to Katie F's Flickr set and the Pasadena Loves YA Instagram account. If you attended or posted about the event, let us know in the comments below.

See you next year, Pasadena!

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10. This Week’s Literary Events Feature Candace Bushnell and Daniel Silva

bryant park reading room (GalleyCat)Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

The next session of the Thalia Book Club will focus on Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years. Join in on Tuesday, June 23 at Symphony Space starting 7:30 p.m. (New York, NY)

Candace Bushnell and Jay McInerney will sit for a conversation about Bushnell’s new novel, Killing Monica. See them on Wednesday, June 24 at the Bryant Park Reading Room starting 12:30 p.m. (New York, NY)

Daniel Silva will discuss and sign copies of his thriller fiction book, The English Spy. Meet him on Monday, June 29 at Barnes & Noble (Union Square branch) starting 7 p.m. (New York, NY)

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11. Valiant and Twitter team to livestream announcements next week

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Valiant is getting in on the Bay Area comics announcements train with an event next Tuesday that will be live streamed via Periscope Twitter’s live streaming app straight from Twitter HQ. #ValiantSummit, as is hashtagged will feature Robert Venditti (BOOK OF DEATH, X-O MANOWAR), Jen Van Meter (THE DEATH-DEFYING DR. MIRAGE), Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons, and Director of Marketing, Communications & Digital Media Hunter Gorinson giving news, announcements, and live Q&A.

The news will be preceded by a Valiant 101 catch-up for newcomers before moving on to news on the Venditti’s BOOK OF DEATH summer event and the reveal on more publishing news.

To join in, tune in to the @ValiantComics stream on Periscope on Tuesday, June 30th at 3 pm EDT/12 noon PDT.

Teaming with Twitter is a pretty smart way to get some news out there. I haven’t seen too many comics peeps using Periscope yet, so seems like an interesting move for all.

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12. E3 2015: The Week That Was / 100 Exclusive Photos From E3 and Xbox Fan Fest

The kiosks are torn down, the free shirts are all gone, and the YouTubers are in editing. Yep, another E3 is finally in the books. Now the hard part of waiting for the games on the show floor to find their way to our homes begins.  Now that the gauntlet of bouncing from appointment to appointment is done, you can read about all the games we got hands on time with.

The Games of Indiecade

Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst

Lego Marvel’s Avengers

Rock Band 4

Disney Infinity 3.0

Skylanders Superchargers

Mad Max

Who Won Media Monday?

For now I want everyone to take a peek at a slice of our week through the eyes of independent film maker Ricardo Ramirez.

Xbox Media Briefing and Fan Fest

Mysterious Xbox cube everyone in attendance wore Microsoft greeter! Head of Xbox Phil Spencer warms up the fan fest army before the show Xbox Media briefing stage The price of getting in is wearing a St. Patricks day shirt Xbox Fan fest party post briefing 051A4997 Fans playing Cuphead 051A5033 Battletoads! Xbox Elite Controller Touch it! Inspired by Tomb Raider Avalanche station 051A5010 Conker Halo Lego set More Legos Xbox fans not butchering songs on Rock Band 4 Fable Legends Forza 6 rig More Forza! Xbox Live's Major Nelson Fable! Hi! Gears of War Ultimate Edition

 


 

The week in E3

Banners all over LA Front of the West Hall Outside on the way to South Hall Outside Overall winner of E3 Concourse between halls back of concourse 051A5092 West Hall Lobby South Hall Lobby Mad Max Dark Souls Fountain pre blood Major Nelson The Major panders to his audience before Xbox Daily Samsung booth in South Lobby Overkill's The Walking Dead in West Hall Lobby Stairs to West Hall Zombie! Not Zombie! Call of Duty gun painting station Line to get into South Hall EA Mirror's Edge booth Mirror's Edge Demo EA Star wars queue had so much to look at 051A5153 star wars queue Take a picture on a speeder Battlefront wins all the awards Line to get into the BattleFront queue Luke Skywalker! Many waited upwards of 2hrs to play Battlefront PES Soccer bar inside Konami booth Outside the Capcom booth Inside Resident Evil Zero demo Street Fighter V stage Devil May Cry 4 exhibit Hadouken! They don't always fight caption this! Activision booth line for Skylanders Exhibit Spitfire 051A5168 Outside the Guitar Hero demo Don't let this fool you, the lines were huge choose between COD and Destiny Destiny line wrapped around the back of the booth and into a food court shoot Battleborn People did get to play games BattleBorn booth 051A5132 051A5157 Rainbow Six Siege Ubisoft Booth Be the Batman Look who's the Batman embarrassing myself on the Arkham Knight big screen Hulk smash WB booth Biggest headphones you've ever seen? Nintendo Treehouse stage 051A5248 Nintendo Skymiibos Skylanders more skylanders @ Nintendo Star Fox lines were capped very early in the day Mario Maker The cast of Little Big Planet 3 051A5183 Destiny Battlefront at Sony Booth was just as long a wait the surprise of the show from Guerrilla Games 051A5192 Black Ops 3 PlayStation theater 051A5209 051A5212 Cuphead at the Xbox booth getting into the Halo 5 Hololens experience Farm Simulator is swanky Happy Farmers. 051A5252 Oculus fighting Disney Infinity 3.0 Caption This!

All photos by Ricardo Ramirez

Thanks for the photos and that’s it for us from E3, read the E3 Wrap Up for a chance to win a prize pack from the show and we’ll do more at SDCC in a few weeks.

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13. ELCAF: Catifying The Public!

I did portraits of people coming to ELCAF today.
Here are some cool cats who turned up:










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14. E3 2015: Wrap Up and the Possibilities of Comics in Video Games

Before we move on to the next big show here at Comics Beat, I wanted to talk a little about the E3 2015 that was and the shape of two industries post show.output_a7TNf0

E3 2015 is done. Now the hard part of waiting for everything we saw to be in our actual hands begins. No wait, Arkham Knight comes out Tuesday. I happen to agree with what popular gaming site Kotaku said about this year’s show. Sure in the moment, you can’t help but feel anything except excitement for the future. Then shortly after the show when I walked down Figueroa and saw the giant Batman banner. It suddenly dawned on me, I’m actually glad it’s over cause I get to play that next week. We knew Halo and Fallout would be coming this year, but every surprise we saw seemed to be for a much later date. In a world of bacon wrapped pizzas, you don’t know if you have that kind of time.

051A5084

On Monday, I gave the overall E3 victory to Xbox. Once Tuesday rolled around and we saw longer versions of what Sony showed during their press event; the victory was still the same but the margin by which Microsoft came out victorious was smaller. “We won’t charge you to play the games you already own”, backwards compatibly was the announcement of the show and such a consumer friendly move. It’s a jab directly at Sony that states Microsoft’s intent. It might not be the top feature you look for in a console, but it’s certainly one worth putting in bold on the box. While it remains to roll out, if Xbox can pull off free backwards compatibility it gains them back so much good will they lost early on. For all I love about PlayStation including the Vita and PS Plus, its entire ecosystem is like the newer Terminator movies they just don’t speak to each other very well and that leaves an opening for Xbox.

What happens post show, well Sony has a chance that Microsoft won’t. Because of the punches that PlayStation took this time around, they’ll have another huge PlayStation Experience event like they did in Las Vegas. It’ll be the opportunity for them to regroup and sell fans on Morpheus, perhaps also backtrack on the PS Now. The event’s crowd will undoubtedly be biased in favor of Sony, so much so that even if PlayStation literally admitted charging their customers to stream old games they already own was a mistake, it would still be met with thunderous applause that drowns out media criticism. It’ll also be the point where Sony can either cancel Morpheus or drop a focused presentation that ends with major price news. With multiple VR headsets scheduled to come out in 2016, Sony has to do something to ensure the early adopters will be on their side. Let’s face it, this unproven technology doesn’t leave financial room for gamers to have multiple headsets. Just like Highlander, “there can only be one”… well in our homes anyway.

051A5098

That’s the thought of the overall show. Now I want to talk about what we’re all about here… comics! Mostly how they relate to the gaming industry after E3. The volume and direction of how comic books traverse the world of gaming speaks to the state of both mediums. One thing that particularly stuck out to me was how many games are being licensed by comics publishers as opposed to video games licensing comics. Such a gap leaves opportunity for comics publishers to make better inroads with gaming audiences.

mirrorsedge1

Look at all the books, either recently in stores or coming soon, that are based on video games. Halo: Escalation, Tomb Raider, Plants Vs Zombies, Mirror’s Edge: Exordium, Skylanders, Metal Gear and Persona 4 are just some that come to mind. Most of those titles are the result of deals where Marvel or any comics publisher approach studios with hopes of producing a book or two based on the most popular games. And why wouldn’t they, gaming has the largest captive young audience of any medium. It would almost be foolish not to.

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There’s also a flip side to that coin. Lately, most video game publishers aren’t in a hurry to license comics. Major exceptions are becoming more rare these days. Batman: Arkham Asylum was the first true quality Batman comic game. It came at a critical time when WB needed to capitalize on comics. We got Watchmen a few years after getting the taste of Superman Returns out of our mouths, but WB was on it’s way to producing a bad Green Lantern movie. With some of their major properties coming to an end in film, WB needed comics to be consistently viable in other places. Their game’s division was a perfect catalyst for something big and they had the right studio in Rocksteady. The rest is Arkham history.

BAK_Sshot168_1434448130

Can you remember a big comic book based game that didn’t come from the in-house parent company? Probably the best, most recent example would be Telltale Games The Walking Dead. Telltale is a studio with a rich licensed game library like Sam & Max and Back to the Future to name a few, but they weren’t on the map of mainstream media. That attention didn’t come till they crafted one of the best Walking Dead stories ever with Lee and Clementine. At this year’s E3 they announced a new project based in the comic book world of Walking Dead which features fan favorite character Michonne. Telltale themselves are a great developer and made fantastic story driven games before Kirkman, but I don’t believe they’d be where they are today without Walking Dead.

TWD_Michonne_E3_key_art_650px

 

Games carry a similar curse to film. Just because a studio taps a property doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll ever get to play that game. Some time ago there was talk of Aspen Comics’ Fathom being a game but that never happened and even though 2K’s partnership with Top Cow gave us back-to-back games based on The Darkness; the second ended on a cliffhanger that left us wanting a third we’ll never see.

LEGO_Marvels_Avengers_E3_2015_Hulk_1434442066

When you look at things objectively, the video game industry certainly doesn’t need comics. It’s emerged as the dominant form of entertainment and rightfully so. Comics just can’t match that level of volume sales and distribution, but there is room to grow through gaming. It just needs the flow to change. Marvel and DC didn’t accomplish this on the level it intended to with film. Moviegoers who don’t read comics are older and less likely to go from the theater to the comic shop. The immersive nature of gaming is a better primer for this in its younger audience. Sure the Arkham and Injustice books do well because their known properties, but there’s a significant percentage of their buyers that never picked up a comic book until they saw those titles and were easily accessible through digital platform.

Yes, it’s easier said than done but comic creators need to focus less on getting that movie deal and more on who would make a kick-ass game out of my comic. You could argue that only the major books from the big two have a chance at crossing into games, but then how you you explain The Wolf Among Us based on Fables or The Darkness. Both of those games are stellar examples of what could be accomplished with properties that aren’t part of the mainstream.

I know that neither industry is as simple as I just made it seem, and sure there’s tons of legal meetings people must have behind close doors before something can even get off the ground. We just aren’t as in the dark as we think. One of the benefits of the social media age is having access to the people who make your favorite games. Part of why more comics aren’t games is because we don’t tweet out things such as “hey I loved this game, and this comic would be awesome in that style” enough. Most of Image Comics line up would be awesome in gaming. I love what Dark Horse Comics did with The Last of Us, but I think a Hellboy game based on the comics and made by Ninja Theory would be a winner.

051A5099

In order to achieve the growth in comics readership we’d all love to see; gamers have to be exposed to Superman (better than before), Saga, and even Archie. Bringing games over to comics isn’t a bad start, but the flows can’t be as lopsided as in recent years. Why is Batman: Arkham Knight the only, based on a comic book, blockbuster game coming out this year. The goal should be at least two or three a year. Comic industry, instead of saying hey let us make a comic based on Mortal Kombat, it’s time to say have you thought about making a game based on our Teen Titans book!

Saga 028-000

If you’ve read through this then thanks and you definitely deserve a prize. So let’s giveaway a bunch of E3 stuff first person that follows @Comicsbeat on instagram and tags us in a shot of their favorite comic book game wins this and a few other pieces from E3 and it includes a shirt given away by the folks at Batman: Arkham Knight.

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If you aren’t on instagram, then follow and tweet the same thing at me.

 

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15. E3 2015 Hands On: The Games of Indiecade, From Butt Sniffing to Texting.

For every mega million dollar production in gaming there are hundreds of small independent games passionately crafted by coders, artists, and story tellers who’ve traded the safety of corporation for the wings of creative freedom. The memorable experiences in gaming aren’t always coming out of Microsoft or Sony, in fact if you wan’t to see the best parts of gaming you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger gathering than Indiecade.

Founded by a coalition of producers in 2005, Indiecade brings a slice of its Fall festival to the E3 show floor every year. Gamers could spend the entire day playing tons of great games you’ve probably never heard of and not even realize they missed any triple A games. In the short time we had at their booth, several games stood out but here are some of the ones that became embedded on our mind grapes.

SMS Racing

by Turbo Button

If there was ever a commercial for what not to do behind the wheel in real life, the developers at Turbo Button just came up with it. SMS Racing is part endurance mode and part racing game. The gauntlet you traverse only begins at city streets you’ll attempt to navigate while trying to beat competitors to the finish line. Your real objective in the game is to keep your friends who refuse to leave you alone on the road. When you begin driving random text messages appear and you must respond before the 10 second timer runs down. On an Xbox controller, you control the car with the left thumb stick while texting using corresponding letters to the X,A,Y,B buttons. When you fail, and you absolutely will, your friends will feel ignored. Once you lose three, it’s game over.

screen_2560x1440_2015-05-10_20-17-57
Sounds simple enough right? The challenge ramps up due to using the game in VR. Your field of view mimics that of you behind the wheel not what you’d see on a TV. If you were playing the game on a huge television, it wouldn’t be that complicated; but when you’re immersed in the VR screen your eyes are as distracted directionally as they would be in real life.

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Anyone whose ever said I can drive and text at the same time needs to play this game. Best part is, here they won’t kill anyone. In the words of a famous small town pizza lawyer “it’s all perfectly legal.” SMS Racing is as fun as the messages you’ll receive are cheesy and OMG they are, LOL. The game is still in development and will release for VR Platforms in late 2015.

Find out more at the SMS Racing’s website here.


 

Tripad

by Alexander Krasij

Tripad isn’t so much a new game as it is a new device to play games on. Constructed out of three Novation LaunchPad Mini devices arranged in a special configuration, controlled via MIDI commands. The game we played is a version of a soccer drill, called Gladiatorial, where the object is to keep the ball in your area till all the lights in your section glow. If you’re playing with three people boasting sharp reflexes the game could go on for hours. I don’t have them, so the volunteer I played against won like it was nothing. The device responds flawlessly while having to process three different sets of commands at once.  In the future, Tripad could be the next thing we use at parties or to pass the time waiting in line at conventions.

There’s a potential for other creators to design different kinds of party games on a device like this, but the tech would need to be something that could be manufactured for less money in order to have a shot at landing in homes. Until then we’ll dream about the Simon, Pong, and Battleship style games that could be on this.


 

The Lost Valley VR

by Paper Crane Games

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Did you hate Jurassic World? You might like this. Did you love Jurassic World? You still might like this. Founded by ex-Neversoft developers, Paper Crane Games are creating quality VR experiences. One of their latest, The Lost Valley VR shows off how detailed VR can be while also letting gamer’s eyes play photographer. When you strap on the Oculus Rift and take this journey, you’re put inside a boat going down a river where different creatures from the paleozoic era reside.

You’ll be equipped with a camera controlled by a button. As a photographer for scientists, it’s up to you to get the best composed and angled photos for research as you pass all the different forms of life. At the end of your trip your photos will be scored on usability, composition, etc. Even though everything is on a predictable rail going down stream, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the beauty and detail of this world thereby missing the perfect shot.

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Currently, The Lost Valley VR is available on the developers website as an experience for others with Oculus dev kits. A finished version will be available once VR starts to launch next year.

Find out more about The Lost Valley VR and Paper Crane Games on their website.


 

Butt Sniffin Pugs

by SpaceBeagles

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Our favorite experience at the Indiecade booth had us step into the adorable world of puglife. Game developer SpaceBeagles made a game simply called Butt Sniffin Pugs. As a pug you’ll pee, poop, and bark at objects and animals in the small patch of land called “Central Bark”. What makes the game irresistible is the controller.

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Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s a giant tennis ball and stuffed dog butt. The two buttons on top correspond to two abilities you’ll be able to use at a time such as peeing and pooping. If you want to bite something or bark at a duck in the pond you’ll need to get close to the other dog and tap the stuff dogged keister to sniff the other pugs butt. Just like in real life… I think, I don’t know I don’t have Animal Planet anymore.

As a pug in this park we got to pee on an old lady’s picnic, bite a bird, and catch a frisbee. Every action has a reaction and they’re all as captivating as watching puppies or cats on the Internet. There’s so much to unlock, you can even take a selfie or your pug in the game and upload it! I’m officially giving Butt Sniffin Pugs the Comics Beat “Certified Mint” E3 award. Even though it’s a thing I just made up, it’s no less prestigious. Congrats to every one at SpaceBeagles!

The team is targeting PS4 and PC platforms for a late 2015 release but there’s no word on how this unique hardware will be produced. But look at it in action!

Keep up with Butt Sniffin Pugs on SpaceBeagles website.

 

If you consider yourself a gamer, you owe it to the art you so love to check out the annual Indiecade festival in Culver City, CA this Fall. Even more independent games will be on display in a gathering of the community that is gaming.

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16. E3 2015 Hands On: MIRROR’S EDGE CATALYST, Parkour Got an Upgrade

The original Mirror’s Edge was one of those games you might have missed. It wasn’t based on anything, nor was it part of a movie franchise. Mirror’s Edge was a new idea from a big company, and that can often times leave consumers more skeptical than something from a little known publisher. Admittedly, I never played the original game till it was offered free maybe really cheap on Steam or PS Plus. After playing it, I regret not jumping on sooner. Mirror’s Edge is a great metaphor for technology trapping humanity in hell. We got some hand’s on time with DICE’s follow up Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst at E3, not only does it have us more excited for the game, but the upcoming Dark Horse published comic as well.

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The Mirror’s Edge mini theater inside the EA booth hypes you up for playing this small piece of the game with an introduction video outlining your objectives and how to use the game’s emphasis on “free run” to have the best experience.

This video also gives us an insight into the story of Catalyst. After the events of the original game, the whereabouts of our hero Faith and Kate are unknown, so DICE is going back to the beginning to tell an origin story. We’ll dive deep into the rebellious beginnings of Faith as a simple runner over the rooftops of the City of Glass.

As the doors in the back of the theater opened we were staged inside the EA booth to take on the first part of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. A portion that consisted of Faith walking through processing on her way to jail when she receives a message that tells her to make a run for it. This part is here strictly to get you accustomed to the game’s controls and tease a bit of the intense story.

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The second part of the demo sees players complete three objectives in the free roaming City of Glass. We first took on a courier mission that sees Faith use her fighting skills to take down enemy patrols. To say “flow” is important in this game is an understatement. Much like the Flash, Faith’s greatest weapon is speed. The smoother players can make her movements the more dangerous her attacks. As we ran from roof top to rooftop, when we could fluidly parkour our way across; enemies could be taken down with one hit. On the off times where movement was clunky from not timing obstacles right, hand to hand combat was our only recourse.

While some have been vocal about the problems with combat in the first game, here it’s easier to get the hang of. They’ve taken a few pages from the Arkham series, strikes are easy to chain among multiple enemies and the execution of finishing moves is spectacular.

Our second objective was a time trial of getting from one point on the map to the other under a specific time. Sprinting, leaping from ledge to ledge, seamlessly sliding through vents, and busting through locked doors; You’ll need to time these all just right to make the objective points in record times. In other games these objectives feel like after thoughts. In Mirror’s Edge it feels like a reward. There’s something gorgeous about the feeling of running from building to building in first person. As intense as it is on screen, publishers need to bring the Mirrors edge to their VR experiences. I can’t imagine how much my heart would pound in my chest from seeing something like that.

We didn’t get a chance to complete the third objective before our time was up. The only thing more disappointing is knowing we have to wait until February 23, 2016 to play the game. Fortunately, Dark Horse Comics is bring Faith’s story to comics in the six issue mini series, Mirror’s Edge: Exordium. We’ll only have to wait till September for comics to explore a part of Faith’s story.

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Fans have waiting seven years for the return of Mirror’s Edge and this feels like a game that used the time away to build an experience worthy of the new generation of gaming hardware. The City of Glass will be somewhere we want to visit come February.

Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst comes out February 23, 2016 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. See more of the game on their official website and find out more about the upcoming Dark Horse Comics series here

 

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17. E3 2015 Hands On: LEGO MARVEL’S AVENGERS, How Will New York Rebuild? Legos!

 

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When you think of Marvel games you think of… WB? I know it sounds strange but lately the best Marvel games have come from the corporation that owns their competition. Last time developer, TT Games did a game licensed from the “House of Ideas”, Lego Marvel Superheroes was an open free roaming good time full of laughs for everyone. This year they’re bringing block building magic to the MCU in Lego Marvel’s Avengers.

We played a small portion of the game on the E3 show floor, what follows is a bit of what you’ll get when the game releases this Fall. The slice of the game we started in put us right in the middle of the battle of New York from the first Avengers film. This part of the story had us switching between Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. As usual you’ll rescue civilians, smash things, and build new Lego creations out of the rubble. We battled countless Chitauri aliens using new team up attacks. Captain America is able to bounce Black Widow off his shield and while she’s in the air will obliterate the enemies using her dual guns. Puzzle solving also utilizes this feature as you’ll need to give agile characters a boost to reach high ledges and scaffolds.

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Hawkeye has much of the tactics, Batman used in Lego Batman 3. He’ll be able to shatter glass using a “sonar arrow” and melt gold bricks with a… let’s call it “heat arrow”. Once the Chitauri scout was taken down, our gamed transitioned to the bridge where we were met by Thor. His lightning attacks are more devastating this time around. Our session saw us get to the part where Bruce Banner rides in on a motorcycle and punches out the giant flying alien as he turns into the Hulk. This time around he takes a victory selfie. During this part players will need to work with Iron Man to target the monster’s weak spots. At the end of the demo we built a missile to launch at the invaders just as when Iron Man flew it into the portal at the end of the film.

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One thing we noticed while playing was the voice work in the cinematic seemed to be ripped from the movie. It didn’t feel like it was recorded for the game. No word on if this will be the final product or if voice will be added. Avengers has boasted to players about having iconic Marvel Cinematic Universe locations to visit. With some of those not being in strictly the Avengers movies, it’ll be interesting to see how TT Games handles voice work.

Fans can expect the same free roam world full of MCU easter eggs, Stan Lee saving cameos, and tons of characters from both Avengers films. WB, some Lego Infinity Stones might be nice.

Lego Marvel’s Avengers comes out this Fall for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation4, PlayStation3, PlayStation Vita, WiiTMU, Nintendo 3DSTM, Windows PC. 

Find more on the game’s Facebook.

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18. E3 2015 Hands On: ROCK BAND 4, The Game That Invented Social is Back

It wasn’t that long ago.

Kid’s parties, high school sleepovers, adults getting drunk because it was Saturday; all these were once strung through by rocking with your friends in games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. And why not. The fun of pretending to rock out with your friends to your favorite head banging tunes. Feeling that brief moment where you could let it all out and only a living room full of your friends would be the wiser. Then for a time, it all went dormant. If you look in your closet, you might find relics of the good times. Plastic guitars and usb microphones might be nestled in your garage, buried in boxes marked “Xmas ornaments”. But there’s hope for them… Rock Band 4 is coming.

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In 2015, the music gaming genre is ready for its comeback tour. Fresh out of celebrity rehab and ready to take the stage again, Rock Band 4 is more an evolution than a sequel. We were invited to check out the game first hand on Harmonix’s outdoor stage at E3 and speak with PR Lead, Nick Chester about the game’s upcoming features.

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The first thing we noticed is the direction of the visuals Harmonix decided on for the game. Rather than follow the competition by completely changing their art style; the developer upgraded the trademark style of Rock Band by having it go full 1080p 60FPS. What that means for players is a much smoother gameplay with little to no screen lag. Indeed, when you suck at this game; this time it’s on us.

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A new Rock Band for a new age means the shredding has to be turned up to 11. This time around guitarists will help the band really stand out in the new “Freestyle Guitar Solo“. During a song’s guitar solo, players will be able to compose their own face melting riffs using any combination of the buttons they can come up with. The better it sounds the more points the band scores overall. Rock Band is also helping out the vocalists who like to sing but sound like a cartoon chicken being rung by the neck. Not only does the USB microphone have a better more actual microphone feel, but the vocal range it can convey is much broader than before. The game will also help singers by letting you set your song to be a mix of your own vocal with one from the actual track. Harmonix managed to tweak this very well, to the point where you can distinguish yourself from the song while not completely butchering it. Rock Band 4 will also have a new story mode so players can bring their bands back together and conquer the world.

PS4-Instruments

If you still have your old instruments intact, dust them off because Rock Band 4 will support all previously released hardware. Though if you want to buy the new gear, it’s got a few upgrades of its own from Mad Catz. The guitar now has a gyroscope for better reading of your movements. Jumping off things never worked better (we do not endorse jumping off things).

Rock Band 4 will utilize the sharing features of the newer systems, but those plans aren’t ready to be fully revealed quite yet. Though the developer is looking forward to seeing what the players can come up with once the game is released.

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Now let’s talk about what really matters man… the music. Since the game’s last release in 2010, the music industry has added a few bands and Harmonix knows you kids want your Imagine Dragons and what not.  So far confirmed for the game is

  • Avenged Sevenfold – “Hail to the King”

  • Benjamin Booker – “Violent Shiver” *

  • Elvis Presley – “Suspicious Minds” *

  • Fleetwood Mac – “You Make Loving Fun”

  • Jack White – “Lazaretto”

  • The Killers – “Somebody Told Me”

  • Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk” *

  • Queens of the Stone Age – “My God Is The Sun” *

  • Scandal – “The Warrior” *

  • Spin Doctors – “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”

  • The Who – “The Seeker”

All that DLC you previously purchased isn’t going to waste either. Rock Band 4 will support all your previous purchases. There are a few notes to take on this though. For one, if your last Rock Band game was on Xbox 360 you’re better off getting the Xbox One version. Previous DLC won’t transfer cross platform. As Harmonix put it, playing purchases from one platform to the other is like “putting an Xbox disc in a PlayStation” it just doesn’t work that way. The good news is you will not need to purchase any additional license to transfer your previous DLC purchases. As the previous songs are added to the DLC list you’ll simply be able to re-download them for play on the new game.

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In our social, lip sync battle, world it feels like this is the right time for a return to music gaming. These games were social before social became something we did on our phones hundreds of miles away from other people. Rock Band is going to bring people back into living rooms while also letting them feel what its like for recording artist who collaborate in booths on different sides of the world, and that is what’s really cool.

One personal note. Harmonix, I need more Rancid. Please have the Blink 182/ Matt Skiba combination record something for you. While you’re at it how about The Descendents and some Minor Threat? Okay, now this is just a list of demands, sorry. What songs does everyone out there want in the game?

Rock Band 4 releases on the PS4 and Xbox One on October 6, 2015. You can pre-order the game or bundle at all game retailers for 30 additional DLC tracks. Find out more on the game’s website here.

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19. San Diego County Fair — Thursday!

I’ll be appearing at the San Diego County Fair on Thursday, June 18. Look for me at 1:30pm in the Children’s Garden and 4:30pm in the Creative Youth Tent. If you’re planning a visit to the Fair tomorrow, please come say hello!

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Garth Williams illustration from Charlotte’s Web

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20. Bath Kids Literature Festival Fundraiser



I just sent off my artwork to be auctioned off for this excellent fundraiser in aid of Bath Festivals:

This is your chance to own a unique piece of original art by one of the UK’s best and most popular illustrators. Come along on the night to bid on one of several framed pieces of art – each depicting the famous Bath Children’s Literature Red Chair.
Amazing artists including including Chris Riddell (Goth Girl), Ben Cort(Aliens love Underpants), Nick Sharratt (The Story of Tracey Beaker),  Korky Paul (Winnie the Witch), Alison Jay (Welcome to the Zoo), Michael Foreman (War Game) and Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) have all donated pieces featuring their own, entertaining interpretation of the Festivals’ iconic red storytelling chair.
Help secure the future of the Bath Festivals internationally renowned programme of popular Festivals and be in with a chance of acquiring a piece of artwork to treasure for your family, school or business.
An Online Auction of many more Artworks will be launched on the night.
My picture is painted using all materials I have picked for the art lessons and workshops I'll be giving soon via The Kraken Studio - all cheap stuff but really nice.

Go and admire the rest, there are some Mighty Fine Red Chairs to be had.

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21.

There's an Opera Flashmob happening in London, and you can be part of it...



The amazing Katherine Kontz devised a new piece for the Tête à Tête opera festival. I drew the poster for it and I'll be participating in some way or other... will you? Sign up if you want to be come a part of the art.


An invitation to bring your rolling suitcase along and embark on a musical journey of boisterous wheels and beatific voices in sunny King’s Cross. Prepare for a dose of flip-flopping holiday fun!
Read more here... It'll be great.

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22. DC Entertainment to Host Batman Day in September

Batman Day Logo (GalleyCat)The team at DC Entertainment intends to once again host “Batman Day.”

According to the press release, this day celebrates “one of the most popular and iconic Super Heroes and celebrating all things Batman from comics to video games and more. Fans everywhere are invited to partake in festivities with thousands of comic book shops, bookstores, schools, libraries and other retail partners participating in the bat-centric event.”

This event has been scheduled to take place on September 26th. Bookstore owners are invited to follow this link to request an official “Batman Day” event kit. The kits feature activity sheets, trivia, and games.

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23. E3 2015: SKYLANDERS SUPERCHARGERS, The Original Name in “Toys to Life” Revs its Engine

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Since pioneering the “toys to life” genre in gaming, the Skylanders franchise has generated over $3 Billion and sold over 250 million action figures. It’s become a yearly franchise for the game’s publisher, Activision, and this year at E3 the franchised announced the next step in the game. This year it’s about giving fans of two different gaming worlds moments they can both enjoy this Fall in Skylanders Superchargers.

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We were invited to a behind closed doors demo at the Activision booth featuring gameplay walkthrough with developer Vicarious Visions and a close look at how the Nintendo Skylanders characters work.

In Skylanders Superchargers, Kaos has unleashed The Darkness to take control of Skylands. Fortunately, a special team of Skylanders known as the SuperChargers has been assembled to pilot an incredible fleet of vehicles with the power to travel through the destruction – over land, sea, and air.

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Our demo took us through the main part of the game as we saw how the new vehicles work with the game. Everything you love about the previous games is here. Children and their family’s will see the puzzle solving, platform, and quirkiness these characters are known for. The new vehicle toys can be activated at any time but they really come into play accessing and exploring new areas of the Skylands. For example one area will only let you explore it if you have a water vehicle while another can only be traversed with an plane.

The demo wasn’t so much about the game’s story, but what this new element of gameplay would add. Each vehicle, when put on the portal for the first time, would show a unique animation that introduces it as the magic happens. Every one of these new types of toys also has the ability to be “supercharged” when paired with its corresponding Skylander. When Spitfire gets put on the portal with the new Hotstreak car, the game visually shows the hot rod beef up with new features and attributes including increased attack power for tougher bosses.

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What will really set Skylanders Superchargers apart for Nintendo fans are two big additions to the game. Bowser and Donkey Kong are coming to Skylanders through special new figures. As someone’s kids say, don’t get it twisted. These aren’t just Amiibos with cross functionality. They’re Skylanders first. Donkey Kong and Bowser each have unique attributes in Skylanders Superchargers and each will have their own vehicles inspired by games like Donkey Kong Country including supercharged abilities. When playing the game with Donkey Kong, players get to launch unique attacks such as throwing barrels or leaving a conga drum mine for enemies.  Turning over the Donkey Kong figure players can switch it from Skylander mode to Amiibo for use in supported Nintendo games such as Smash Bros.

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Vicarious Visions have listened to players and consumers alike in making this new Skylanders game. If you don’t want to add every new Skylander toy to your  hundred figure plus collection, you don’t have to. Every toy from every game will work on Skylanders Superchargers in some capacity. If you previously invested in Trap Team, even those special toys have a function in Superchargers. The new Superchargers portal has a slot for Trap figures. Though you will not be capturing your enemies in the same way as Trap Team; the toys will unlock different power ups in the game for the character on the portal.

Every Skylander can jump into any vehicle and the team has cashed in on any small element they could tweak in the game. For instance when you pair a bulky Skylander in a smaller vehicle it looks adorably awkward on screen as the team intended. Even Nintendo characters can ride in anyone’s vehicle.

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A new starter pack with portal and two characters will be available at launch, but any portal will work with the game. You can buy a digital version of the game by itself and use previously purchased portals. Though only the Trap Team portal will be able to use trap characters. Only the Nintendo characters will be available in a two pack of toy and car but that price hasn’t been announced.

  • $74.99 – Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack
  • $64.99 – Nintendo 3DS Starter Pack
    $14.99 – Individual vehicles toys
    $12.99 – Individual SuperChargers character toys

PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system
Xbox 360TM Xbox OneTM video game and entertainment system from Microsoft iPad®
Nintendo Wii UTM
Nintendo WiiTM system and the Nintendo 3DSTM hand-held system will have a different, complementary experience


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It’s remarkable what this franchise has accomplished since it spawned from Spyro the Dragon. Activision and the developers that work on Skylanders haven’t settled and they don’t take the new competition in the market lightly. While the Nintendo characters are exclusive to the Nintendo versions of the game; it does raise the question of possible crossovers with characters from those other platforms in future games. We can’t wait. Year after year the franchise has managed to deliver something that feels new and Superchargers is going to continue that tradition when the game releases on September 20, 2015.

Find out more about Skylanders on the game’s official website here.

 

 

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24. E3 2015 Hands On: MAD MAX, Welcome Back to the Thunderdome

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When you’re first dropped into the world of Mad Max’s E3 demo, Avalanche Studios don’t make any apologies for leaving you in a harsh and barren world that’s every bit as hostile as the one in the original films felt.

As Max, you’ve got only one objective in this game, survive. In order to do this you’ll need to build the ultimate apocalypse perseverance vehicle, the Magnum Opus.  When you begin the game you’ll be rebuilding your version of the iconic car piece-by-piece as you defeat enemies, salvage scrap, and destroy marauder vehicles.

During our invited hands on session, we were given the option of testing the game’s on foot combat missions or what we really all came to see, vehicular mayhem. As the demo began a rusted halfway constructed vehicle begs to tear up the waterless surface of the the desolate planet. The only thing it needs is an engine. In this game there’s no vendors or shop to buy parts from. You will fight for everything! Five seconds into the demo I was fighting a gang of three marauders in brutal hand-to-hand combat that had me finish off one of these thugs by blowing a hole through one of them — barrel to chest–.

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Once I picked up the engine they guarded and somehow magically lifted it into the car single handedly; my mechanic and I were off. For the demo our single mission objective was to acquire a better V8 engine for the car by destroying a boss vehicle in convoy, but before you can fight it you’ll have to catch up with it. Fortunately, your vehicle is equipped with boost and special weapons for combat.

After catching up to the convoy the real mayhem commences. If you took the vehicular combat of a Twisted Metal and poured it into the open world of GTA, you’d only begin to describe what went down in this battle. Once you begin the attack, the shield cars will pull out all the stops in order to keep you from your objective. The enemy AI in vehicle combat is relentless. Even when the cars managed to knock me off they continued a brutal tactical assault. Max isn’t defenseless, his car has different ways of taking down vehicles and even combining attacks yields different satisfying effects. He can hop in the back of the car and use a sniper rifle to shoot at the enemy vehicle or the driver. If controlling the car and aiming a gun prove to challenging there’s always good old fashion smashing. In addition to building a vehicle, you’ll be able to customize it with heavy armor, spiked grills, tires, and custom paint jobs to name a few things. Maybe he’ll get an iPod connection, who knows the possibilities feel vast.

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The most satisfying part of vehicle combat was the ability to target specific parts of enemy cars with a harpoon. You can rip off a door or take out a tire with it. If you’ve got the targeting chops, you can even yank another driver out of their own car. Getting the hang of all this requires a bit of a learning curve so we took down the lead car by smashing it into a mountain.

Once that was over and we had five minutes in the open world, it was time to take in the beauty of this post-apocalyptic land. There’s no cities, no gorgeous landmarks; it’s drab, vast, and you’ll see familiar unfriendly compounds. In short it’s Mad Max!

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Don’t expect this game to have connections to the recent Mad Max: Fury Road film. This game has been in production on its own path, one that resonates everything we love about the original movies. There could be room for Fury Road content later on but for now the group is focused on perfecting their own story that’s Avalanche Studios love letter to the original classics.

Mad Max the game releases on PS4, Xbox One, and PC this September. You can find more on the game’s official website hereMadMax_WarboysinPursuitofMagnumOpus_0413_1155_026_1434451110.

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25. E3 2015 Hands On: DISNEY INFINITY 3.0, Star Wars Cutest Battlefield Yet!

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Over the last few years, it feels as though Disney’s business model was listening to a five year old smash together her or his action figures while making up stories with raucous sound effects and accidentally spitting kook-aid every where. To consumers and fans alike, it worked! Disney not only owns the intellectual property of several great in house and Pixar characters, but they’ve roped in all characters Marvel Comics has ever published and the universe that George Lucas created.

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They aren’t missing any opportunities to capitalize. Their newest wallet cracker from Disney Interactive, for the first time, brings the Star Wars universe to Disney Infinity 3.0. The folks over at Disney Interactive gave us a guided tour of their lavish E3 booth and a sliver of hands on time with the upcoming Twilight of the Republic playset.

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From the moment you jump into the Disney version of the Star Wars universe it feels very familiar to the previous entries. The game’s platform elements have some neat things going on. As Darth Maul, I found myself rail grinding through a playful version of the lava factory Anakin battled Obi-Wan in. Once I force jumped my way onto a nearby platform the real difference in the game kicked in. Avalanche Software, the games lead developer, brought in studio Ninja Theory to construct Infinity 3.0’s light saber combat. You might know the studio’s work from fantastic action combat games like the newest Devil May Cry (DMC) and Heavenly Sword. The difference shows!

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Force characters have powered attacks like push and leap while light saber wielding attacks feel fluid and meaty. Both Jedi and Sith characters also have specific traits. For example running with Darth Vader automatically blocks incoming attacks. The combat is an evolution from the button mashing we’re accustom to from Disney Interactive games. It manages to feel slightly complex yet simple enough for kids to be proficient with. We also got to take on General Grevious in a harsh boss battle, four light sabers and all. It took both Darth Maul and Darth Vader to bring him down as these battles are tough but not overcooked steak tough.

Disney Infinity 3.0 will be one of the most ambitious launches in the franchise’s history. Once the Infinity 3.0 set launches with Twilight of the Republic characters other sets based on different Star Wars periods will be made available. Each play set is story-driven and provides players a multi- level, true-to-property experience.

Additional TOTR characters:

TOTR_DarthMaul TOTR_ObiWan TOTR_Yoda

 

Rebels TOTR:

REB_Ezra REB_Zeb REB_Sabine REB_Kanan

 

 

Rise Against The Empire:

EMP_IGP_Luke EMP_IGP_Leia EMP_IGP_HanSolo EMP_IGP_DarthVader EMP_IGP_Chewbacca EMP_BobaFett

 

Bobba Fett will be exclusive to PlayStation through the holidays and will even see a Fett themed starter pack.

The Star Wars™ Saga Starter Pack for PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems will be the only place that fans will be able to play as Boba Fett in Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition through the holidays, and will also allow fans to get the Star Wars™ Rise Against the Empire Play Set nearly a month before it hits store shelves. The limited edition exclusive Sony offering includes:
Star Wars Saga Starter Pack for PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 (suggested retail price: $114.99):
(1) Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition video game software
(1) Star Wars™ Twilight of the Republic Play Set piece, (1) Ahsoka Tano figure, (1) Anakin Skywalker figure
(1) Star Wars Rise Against the Empire Play Set piece, (1) Luke Skywalker figure, (1) Princess Leia figure
(1) Boba Fett figure
(1) Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition base
(1) Web Code card (unlocks content for PC/mobile)






Even Pixar’s newest animated film is getting in on 3.0

Inside Out Play Set:

Out_Sadness_Package_Final OUT_Joy_turn_Final OUT_Fear_Package_Final Out_Disgust_Package_Final Out_Anger_Package_teeth_Final

 

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Other sets are in the works that continue the Marvel inclusion from Infinity 2.0 including Hulkbuster Iron Man. Toy Box mode returns to Infinity 3.0 with a few new features including a new interface which makes it easier for players to choose from a variety of family-friendly gameplay options – from platform, racing and farming simulation games – and activities to inspire players to create their own worlds in the Toy Box. Players can either venture into a Play Set, or partake in short campaigns before creating their own Toy Box world. Creating and sharing their one-of-a-kind levels and mini-games with family and friends has never been easier with improved editing tools and linking system. Players can also summon Townspeople Sidekicks to accomplish feats, attack enemies or help them build in the Toy Box.

In additon, two new Toy Box expansion games will be included where players customize everything using unlocked toys from across all of Disney Infinity 1&2. Toy Box Speedway will be where characters can race across nine tracks to determine who’s the fastest. The other new game is Takeover, where you can enlist the help of friends in order to defend your Toy Box across six-levels from different Disney properties.

Disney fanatics won’t have to wait long as Infinity 3.0 will hit stores Fall 2015 on all Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles, including PC and a mobile version. We’re sure to see even more including near finished versions of play sets at this year’s D23 Expo.

Find out more about the game on the Disney Infinity website.

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