Eco: Getting Educated

Red Thomas interviews John Krajewski from Strange Loop Games, the studio behind Eco. They talk about how the game came about, early funding, and some of the ideas the team has for future growth.

Esports & Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering is one of the oldest, most venerated properties in the world and it’s priming itself for robust esports action. Garrett Fuller sat down with Wizards of the Coast Director of Esports Bear Schmiedicker to learn how that will look in 2019.

The Almost MMO and Me

I’ve noticed something of late – I haven’t logged into a real MMORPG, even my precious Elder Scrolls Online, in weeks. In ESO’s case, this is partly because I’m waiting for Elsweyr. But usually, between big content swells of ESO, I’m at least playing something else – GW2, WoW, FFXIV, Neverwinter, and so forth. But there’s a type of game that seems to be meeting my needs for persistence and online play. I’ve been trying to think of a name for them for ages, and I think Almost MMO just about cover

r/SF Radio podcast: Joe Munday talks with Sherry Jenix about the difficulty competitors face obtaining travel visas

Stay on top of the Street Fighter world with the r/SF Radio podcast!

ESE|Sherry Jenix is working hard to help international fighting game competitors confront a challenge that starts before they even pick up a controller. Getting travel visas to actually be able to attend tournaments can prove very difficult — so much that it can outright prevent a player from making it to some big competitive opportunities (such as Capcom Cup, for example). Enter the EFight Pass project:

Sherry Jenix joins r/StreetFighter’s Joe Munday on this week’s r/SF Radio podcast, where they talk about the details of what it takes to get a U.S. visa for fighting game players, and why it can be so challenging — and how EFight Pass is working to help.

You can listen to r/SF Radio on any of the following streaming platforms, or watch it out on YouTube. (The podcast includes some NSFW language!) For more info, head over to the r/StreetFighter subreddit.

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Source: r/StreetFighter

The RPG Files: What Is Epic Seven?

Epic Seven is a mobile turn-based RPG from Smilegate. It challenges players to unique visuals and strategies to challenge all players at all times. We had the chance to speak with Content Director Yuna Kim to learn more about Epic Seven.

FGC cosplayer Romanova shines a spotlight on the Lambert High School Esports Club in Suwanee, Georgia

With the continuing growth of competitive fighting games and esports in the United States and beyond, the pursuit of a career in these fields is becoming more viable every day. Even high schools such as Lambert High in Suwanee, Georgia are getting in on the action.

In this mini-documentary produced by well-known FGC cosplayer and competitor, Amanda “Romanova” Rose, she interviews a group of students from the Lambert High School Esports Club, who play competitive fighting games such as SoulCalibur VI, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and several others. In the video, they talk about how they got into competitive fighters as well as what they plan to do involving fighting games in the future, after graduation. Some of them also talk about how they balance their school life with the club activities, and what the goals of the team are in general.

I talked to Romanova about how and why she produced this video to highlight the Lambert High School Esports Club, and what the future might hold for these teens in the world of competitive gaming. You can watch the video and read the interview below.


Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: How and when did you come across this high school esports club in Suwanee?

Romanova: First of all, thank you for giving a chance to give these teens more exposure. They deserve it.

I came across the Lambert High School Esports Club by just attending my weeklies. Funny enough, my first encounter was their leader Ajax playing me at the Gwinnett Brawl weekly. He barely beat me, but popped off and I was like ‘Who is this young kid popping off like a maniac?’ He later came up and apologized for the excitement claiming he was actually a big fan of my streams and me playing DBFZ, and told me a bit about what they do (him and the team).

Their one member, Synebon, frequents my streams and was the one to officially invite me to come guest coach them. They have had a few people from our locals (like Max Blackwerk) come to give advice to help them get better at fighting games by sitting with their players individually and working on strengthening areas of their gameplay.

El Cubano Loco: Why did you choose to do this mini documentary on them in particular? What made them stand out and strike a chord with you?

Romanova: I chose to do this because there is always content being pumped out in the FGC and it’s amazing, but you don’t get to see too many of these inspiring tales. This may not inspire most people but seeing what these people were doing was so pure and heartwarming I wanted to share it with the FGC. I never had a team like this when I was younger. I know I would’ve felt so much better about being a nerd in high school if I had a group like this to kick it with for practices and gaming. I hope that it inspires other high schools to do the same. I know the other people who have come to coach them would agree also.

The way I did this all was using Twitch to raise the money to hire a videographer to come with me to interview them. I wanted it to be grassroots, but also good quality video. I also learned more about them while doing this doc, which made me end up including Ajax’s father in the video as well. I thought one of the most heartwarming things was seeing his dad say how his son was into esports so he ended up working on fight sticks and arcade cabs instead of cars with him and wouldn’t have it any other way. I really hope for the parents out there who see this video see how much it means to their children when they can support the hobbies their kids want to partake in, like gaming.

El Cubano Loco: Do you have any projects planned with them in the future? If so, what are they exactly?

Romanova: I do not currently have any future projects planned with them, but one big thing I’d love to do is this: some of them graduate next year, and it would be cool to raise money and send two of them to Evo next year if we could get a project going for it and to film their experience at Evo, since it will be their first time at an event of that grandeur. Another thing I’d love to do would be to send them to Combo Breaker, one of my personal favorite FGC events.

El Cubano Loco: Do these kids plan to grow their club into something bigger, and maybe branch out to compete at majors at some point as they mature?

Romanova: I think some of them want to continue to support each other even after they become alumni to the club. I really hope to see them come more often with time to the monthlies and weeklies as well. I see a lot of potential in them to grow as fighting game players as do my fellow players from the local scene here. I think the future looks bright for this group of teens.

Source: Romanova (YouTube)

Kabal and D’Vorah revealed for Mortal Kombat 11; Another female character to be shown on next Thursday’s Kombat Kast

The hooksword-weilding Black Dragon and Kytin Queen return to Kombat!

After a brief delay due to the Polar Vortex 2019 placing Chicago under literal sub-zero temperatures, the first Kombat Kast for Mortal Kombat 11 took place yesterday. Following a not-so-subtle tease at The Reveal last month, the hooksword-weilding Black Dragon warrior Kabal was finally revealed to be playable in Mortal Kombat 11 after missing out on Mortal Kombat XL.

The MK3 veteran has been slightly retooled to have his normals and strings focus more on his iconic hookswords than ever before, giving Kabal great reach and large footsie buttons to control neutral, in a similar vein to Skarlet. His low buzzsaws have returned, with the addition of an aerial version that replaces his iconic Gas Blasts (which have been removed in favor of Kabal utilizing a stationary cloud of gas that will do damage over time to his foes as long as they are standing in it, and will also disable their ability to jump). The former police officer’s Nomad Dash also returns granting him a rare meter less combo starter, that should prove very potent in the competitive meta. His fatality is also fittingly gruesome, as Kabal uses his speed to drag his opponent across the floor, ripping their face off before shredding them with his blades. You can see his full trailer, as well as the full Kombat Kast breakdown which also featured a look at Geras, below. It was also announced that a new female combatant will be revealed on the Kombat Kast next Thursday, February 14th, at 3:00 PM CT. Personally, I expect to see a member of the Edenian trio of Kitana, Mileena, or Jade, but we’ll find out together in eight days.

Shortly after the Kombat Kast’s conclusion, it was revealed on Inside Xbox that the female Kytin D’Vorah would be returning from Mortal Kombat XL, sporting a new look that gives an ever more insect-like appearance. Ed Boon has confirmed she will not be the female shown on the next Kombat Kast, but you can view her announcement below. Kabal and D’Vorah join Scorpion, Raiden, Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade, Skarlet, Baraka, Kano, and newcomer Geras, bringing the current known roster up to 10.

Mortal Kombat 11 will be released worldwide for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on April 23rd. However the European Switch version has been delayed until May 10th. An online beta will also be held sometime in March.

Sources: Mortal Kombat; MortalKombat (Twitter); Xbox

Shoryuken interview: Dead or Alive 6 director Yohei Shimbori talks about the open beta, NiCO, free to play possibilities, and more

SRK was given another opportunity to speak with the mind behind DOA6, and discuss the final rounds of development.

It’s been less than a year since Dead or Alive 6 has been announced, and its release is nearly upon us!

Nearly a month and a half before the release of Dead or Alive 6, Shoryuken was given the opportunity to travel to Koei Tecmo America’s headquarters and interview DOA6 Director and Producer, Yohei Shimbori, to discuss the beta, closing development, and future support.

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Austyn “Lazybones2020” Roney: Thank you all for having me again, it’s wonderful to be with you! With it being so close to the release of Dead or Alive 6, how are you feeling about development?

Yohei Shimbori: Of course we are doing our best with development, but at the same time since I am here and not actually watching over the development cycle, I’m a little bit worried. [laughs] We are hoping that the fans, of course, will continue to support us.

Lazybones2020: Even though there was a little bit of a delay, I am sure fans are looking forward to the game more than ever. Can we go into specifics of the two-week delay? What is going to be changed and why was it needed?

Shimbori: The cause for the delay was just small bugs here and there and so we wanted to resubmit the master for the game. At the same time, we wanted to make small character adjustments in balancing the gameplay.

Lazybones2020: And part of that I am sure was taking the information from the beta that you just had. Was there anything specific you have learned from the beta, or was it more of a stress test for online functions?

Shimbori: It would actually be both, we wanted to fix whatever we found as well as using the comments from the users as well as fixing the game including balance.

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Lazybones2020: Were there any specific gameplay mechanics that you have seen the fans give feedback about? I have seen a vocal segment of players discuss the sidestep and its speed not being what they expected.

Shimbori: Looking at the feedback, from mostly the North American players, the “ground game” was not received as well as we expected. That’s something we would like to improve in terms of balancing.

Lazybones2020: There is so much variety to the gameplay, with the basic strikes, heavy attacks, blocks, holds, and the break gauge system, it’s incredible to think of the mixups that are possible in this game. Nyotengu is especially fun to combine air and ground moves with, thanks to her flight. How do you keep all of the combat options together?

Shimbori: I’m a pretty big fighting game fan, it even shows up in my dreams. [laughs] I guess I just come up with it.

Lazybones2020: [Referencing Shimbori’s Bayman outfit] Do you have multiple costumes at home?

Shimbori: I’ve got a few! [laughs] I get made fun of with my other costumes, so that’s why I wear this one.

Lazybones2020: Well this one is great, it suits you!

Lazybones2020: I have read in other interviews that this game was unaffected by Sony’s recent policies regarding censorship. Was this ever a concern for this title’s development, considering there are two separate versions of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet, one for PlayStation 4 — which was censored — and one for Nintendo Switch, which remained unaffected?

Shimbori: Of course we are careful with making changes because if you look at DOA5 Last Round and Xtreme 3, they are very different games. Last Round is a fighting game of course, and we wanted to focus on the number of enjoyment players got from Last Round and making it better.

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Lazybones2020: NiCO, is the final new character that I’m aware of, that has been added to the game. Could you tell me a little bit about her development and how she fits in the universe? From what I understand, she is a scientist who is researching the other characters to make a kind of ultimate fighter.

Shimbori: Regarding the story, we can’t really talk about that since we want to keep it a secret, but as a fighter, of course, with DOA there are different fighting styles so we wanted to add a new fighting style to it. She uses Pencak Silat, a historic fighting style from Southeast Asia. We want to clarify some things about NiCO as well. When we had the reveal trailer for NiCO, it made it look like she mainly uses electric attacks, but she is also a master of this Pencak Silat fighting style.

Lazybones2020: When designing, NiCO, she’s obviously very cute and also appears as a genius, what brought you all to this appearance?

Shimbori: She was originally designed to be a Russian character, so we took a look at a lot of female Russian characters. We also took a look at pictures of different ages, from young to old, from both Russia and Ukraine. We asked our character designers have the facial design, known in DOA, and match it to the images we found. She actually ended up being Finnish!

Lazybones2020: Speaking of character designs, the overall look for Dead or Alive 6 is the best its ever been. Was there a style guide for establishing these characters in the newest iteration of this universe? How was the look determined?

Shimbori: With regards to the design, we actually didn’t change it completely from the previous designs, the new look all comes from the new engine. We had to look at how lighting works, shading, as well as character facial animations.

In the previous game there were no real time shadows, but with DOA6 since its a new engine, there were new challenges with the new technology, so we had to focus on smaller details. So for example, if a character makes a weird face, its really going to look like a weird face.

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Lazybones2020: Earlier, a couple of weeks back, I saw a listing on the Microsoft Store for “Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters”. Is this supposed to be viewable, or is it an early look at the future free to play initiative you previously mentioned?

Shimbori: It was a mistake actually, we didn’t mean to post that in the store. I’m actually pretty surprised to see it on the store. I can say that we have planned to make a free to play version of Dead or Alive 6, however, we haven’t announced what kind of content that is going to be in it or when it is going to be available, but it will most likely be a short time post launch.

Lazybones2020: Ah, interesting! I have seen some things pop up early on the Microsoft Store from time to time.

Shimbori: The fault was actually ours, internally, not the Microsoft Store.

Lazybones2020: Good to know! As a side note, there is a physical collector’s edition in Japan for Dead or Alive 6, is the only collector’s item coming to North America, the steel book?

Shimbori: Yes.

Lazybones2020: Will the pre-order DLC and Deluxe Edition DLC be available to purchase separately for those who might not be able to have purchased the game in time?

Shimbori: We can’t really promise anything right now, but for characters, we are planning on having them purchasable at some point, as well as the deluxe edition costumes. We are considering having Nyotengu purchasable at some point after launch.

DOA6_Brad and Nyotengu

Lazybones2020: Understood! Now that we have the full launch roster, are there any characters you would have liked to have in the game but couldn’t, or would you like to focus on adding more original characters moving forward?

Shimbori: Nyotengu and Phase 4 were added at a later time, and I’m pretty satisfied with that. In regards to adding characters at a later time, at the very beginning, we took out any characters that were not involved in the story. Based on fan reaction, we might add new characters, veteran characters, or even collaboration characters.

Lazybones2020: I saw a lot of the character customization in the new modes you have available. It’s nice to see that there are so many costumes available without requiring an additional purchase. What prompted you to include these costumes and allow them to be unlocked and what brought about the design of these costumes?

Shimbori: Of course, we don’t want to just give away the costumes for free, we want players to try out characters. During DOA5 we looked at how people would test out the game, especially in Core Fighters, then leave. So we wanted to add some motivation to that, so that’s why we added the in-game currency for players to get things they want. We added the Quest Mode to accomplish this!

Lazybones2020: The Quest Mode is quite a lot of fun! I enjoy having a concrete goal to strive towards and unlocking costumes makes it even better!

I’ve got time for one last question, for the esports side, now that the game is coming out, are there any plans for tournaments near the launch of the game?

Shimbori: It is still currently being looked at but as soon as we have something solid we will announce it as soon as we can. We are all striving towards this right now. Before launch, we are going to be a part of Evo Japan, it won’t be one of the main tournaments because it is prior to launch, but we do have a stage that will be available on day one, on February 15th.

Lazybones2020: Wonderful! We are all looking forward to seeing how the players react to the title once it’s launched and for its continued support. Thank you again for your time, it was great getting to meet you again! I hope we get to see each other again soon.

Shimbori: Certainly!

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Dead or Alive 6 is barely over a month away and players will have a lot to look forward to with the new title. Its been a great ride covering this game from announcement to finish, it’s only a few more moments until we all get to see what DOA6 has to offer!


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AxE: Alliance vs Empire – A Chat with the CEO of Nexon Red

Nexon has announced that AxE: Alliance vs Empire, an expansive massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG), will be launching to the App Store for iPhone and iPad and on Google Play for Android devices worldwide this winter. AxE ushers in the next generation of fully featured MMORPGs on mobile devices with a sprawling and ever changing open-world and an immersive fantasy story of a civil war between the Darkhaan Empire and the Galanos Alliance.

Scuf Vantage PS4 Controller Review

Every gaming accessory claims to make you a better gamer but how many actually accomplish that goal? Today we’re looking at one that might just deliver on its promises with the Scuf Vantage. It’s a premium controller with loads of customization but does it earn its $169.95 – $199.95 asking price? Join us as we dig in and find out.