I’ve never wanted to play a non-existint game as much as this one

Working as a UI/UX designer myself I tend to do a lot of research into current trends and recent projects within the design industry. Scouring Bechance can often result in falling down a deep rabbit hole, bouncing from one wonderful project to the next. Bechance is a portfolio site where artists of all mediums can share their work in a tight knit community. Today I stumbled across some concept art for a fictional video game and just had to share this great find. Never have I wanted to play a game so much, a one that doesn’t even exist!

The setting for this game is featured in a Neo Japan in 2202. Never have I seen such beautiful concept artwork. By just looking at the images my mind runs with so many ideas of how this game could play, the setting, story, characters etc. The amazing talent behind this work comes from a Maylasian based concept artist called Johnson Ting.

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Just the vibrancy of this concept work instantly evokes every bit of hype within my body.

Graduating as an illustrator from The One Academy, Malaysia, Ting has already went on to work for some big dogs such as Activision, Infinity Ward, Black Tusk and Square Enix. He now currently resides in New York working for Project Triforce.

Ting has big plans and ideas for his Neo Japan 2202 project; such as turning it into a book for his readers before wanting to create a video game from it. The setting for Tings’ Sci-Fi universe certainly ticks every box for me, the artwork is just breathtaking.

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Above shows a fictional book that features the story, visuals and documentation from the Neo Japan 2202 Universe.

Ting has already began to shape and scope out this fictional world, setting the background for the project with this brief paragraph to the initial backstory.

In the year 2200, corruption in the world has reached its peak, even police officers are involved in terrorist attacks. In Japan, Neorai Industries has successfully launched its Neo Keisatsu joint project with the government, and replaced all existing human officers into A.I powered mechas. Mass riots appeared throughout Japan by ex-officers and worried citizens, but the riots were contained efficiently and almost immediately with the merciless Neo Keisatsus.

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Mobile police unit featured within the concept work

They soon proved that mechas are indeed better in handling tasks and duties than human beings, as crime rate lowers and corruption seems to fade out from Japan, they renounced “Japan” to “Neo Japan” in the year 2202. Many still doubts the Neo Keisatsu project till this day, as machines are still machines, it can still be controlled and if fallen into the wrong hands, the outcome would be unimaginable.

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I don’t know about you but this is certainly something I’d love to see get made. Japan is such a perfect setting for a world ran by A.I. powered mechs and something we’ve not seen a lot of within a game setting.  You can see more of his work at Behance, Deviant and Website but why not salivate over the images below before doing so.

/ CR

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A trip down memory lane with Star Wars: Battlefront

It’s not very often a video game series you thought was once gone and forgotten, a one you hold and treasure dearly, provides an inkling of hope in making it’s return. It’s even less likely that it becomes a reality. It seemed this was the case for me in 2013 when I first heard news of the valiant return of Star Wars Battlefront.

As a young lad I couldn’t really pinpoint the date Star Wars became apparent in my life. To me the series has always seemed omnipresent. If I had to pick an early memory it would probably date back to being a young child, watching various films from the original trilogy with my Dad on lazy, summer afternoons. I soon took a liking to the characters, settings, story and sheer awe I think many fans share.

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As a young child, seeing Darth Vader for the first time was a moment that I will never forget.

As I grew a little older the infatuation remained. I remember attending the opening night of each film released as part of the prequel trilogy, being around nine years old at the release of Episode I. I remember absolutely thriving on the joy of finally being able to experience Star Wars in a cinema setting for the first time.

Although many ridicule this trilogy, it will always hold a special place with me, being one of the most vivid memories I hold of my childhood cinema experience. Especially the intro scene – it doesn’t matter how many times I witness it, as soon as I hear that music my smile instantly beams, ear to ear.

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One of the most iconic opening scenes there has ever been to a film.

Star Wars has always felt part of my life, whether it be from being brought up watching the old films with my dad, experiencing the prequel trilogy within the cinemas for the first time or playing the various themed games that were released based on the series, the most significant to me being the Battlefront series.

In the days of pre-internet gaming, or at least in the days when online console gaming was nowhere near as prevalent as it is nowadays, you had to put up with playing against bots. This however was made a lot more fun when played alongside a companion, in this case the main person I remember playing split screen with was my brother and a few close friends.

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Although the game now looks very dated, Star Wars: Battlefront I & II provided endless hours of excellence when playing split screen with friends.

We’d play the Battlefront series endlessly on weekends or after school. It didn’t matter if you were playing against bots, because at the time we had nothing else to compare it to, because no such thing as online console gaming existed, at least not to us anyway. It was still as amazing as ever though and I hold very dear and fond memories of those times.

Which brings me onto my final topic, which is why we’re here in the first place – the recently announced Star Wars: Battlefront for next gen consoles. When I heard the news I filled with nostalgic glee, one of my most beloved video gaming series’ was finally getting a reboot! But as early rumours surfaced I became sceptical as to when it would happen, or if it even would happen.

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Early concept art that surfaced with the first initial rumours of Star Wars: Battlefront a few years back.

The game took the second spot in ‘My most anticipated games of 2015’ article, even with very little information surrounding the game, that’s how much the series means to me. It’s one that captivated me instantly, being able to relive those famous battles I’d seen time and time again, but this time from my own perspective.

Fast-forward to present day and an explosion of information has finally surfaced, bringing with it a, more than likely, cast iron release date. All of this rolled up and placed in a glorious in game engine footage video. Although this isn’t a carbon copy of actual game play, those who got the chance to see the game run on a PS4 first hand at Star Wars Celebration have preached nothing but high praises about it.

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Endor has never looked so beautiful as a Scout speeds through the forest floor.

But with great power comes great responsibility and boy oh boy has DICE got their work cut out. Die hard fans of the series expect a lot from the new instalment, although I’m extremely excited I still can’t help becoming a little apprehensive on what direction the game may take.

It’s similar to when a band you have adored for ages, always dreaming would reform, finally do, and you’re filled with fear more than you are excitement. You don’t want the precious memories you have of them to become tainted by something new, something that may not stand up to your expectation.

This is exactly how I feel about upcoming instalment of Battlefront. In a recent Reddit thread, Jesper Nielsen stated “As for expanding on strengths of the previous games; I think most people will find that it does expand on the strengths of the previous games, when it comes to core game play and what the feeling of a Battlefront game is.” Which gives a little ease to my already overwhelming worry.

As for expanding on strengths of the previous games; I think most people will find that it does expand on the strengths

With DICE and EA leading the project a lot have feared the worst. Such as having a Star Wars skin just slapped across the current Battlefield model or a disastrous launch that may relate to that of BF4. Or maybe something even worse, a game that is milked dry with micro transactions and over priced DLC. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s no one that wants this game to excel and succeed as much as I do.

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Concept art of Hoth, looking on to AT-ATs in the distance.

It seems so far so good from DICE, they’ve actually grasped the concept of what the user base wants from the game. Nielsen stated “Please don’t make me break what I can and cannot say, but if you think there’s anything we’re not including in the game to save it for DLC, I can tell you you’re 100% wrong. In this project, I’ve never heard anyone say ‘Let’s not do this for launch so we can do it as DLC instead’. Ever”

With this statement sitting alongside the fact that DICE plan to release free DLC, to coincide with the release of the film, it may seem that this isn’t going to be just a simple cash in. Along with this, authenticity is a big feature being pushed by the team at DICE, having unprecedented access to original Star Wars props and locations allows for photorealist visuals and authentic sound design to be taken straight from the films archives, something that I’m very happy about.

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DICE has been given unprecedented access to the vaults of the Star Wars achieve, allowing them to provide one of the most authentic video game experiences in the Star Wars universe.

Tie this up with the fact that veteran players of the series will also be able to revel in that sweet split screen couch co-op once more, something that became a fundamental feature in previous instalments. Many fans were also worried that first person would become a replacement to the iconic third person fans grew fond of, which is not the case here. Fans can easily swap between views with the simple click of a button, although I’m curious to see how balanced this may be when playing online.

It seems like both DICE and EA are certainly taking steps in the right direction. If the game is able to keep on reaching promises and expanding on the needs of the consumer and die hard fanbase, then it promises to be a highly sought after one among many fans. Speaking for myself and on the behalf of many others – Dice/EA, please, please, please DON’T fuck this up.

/ CR

What I’d love to see NeXt from Nintendo

It seems the life of the Wii U has been short and not so sweet for Nintendo. Less than two and a half year into its life and plans for a new console have already been revealed. It doesn’t really say a lot for Nintendo, chucking the towel in already, with not very many upcoming titles announced and word of a new home console already on the horizon. I think it’s fair to say I’d feel a little disappointed if I’d just bought a Wii U. But who can blame them for not wanting to stay on a sinking ship?

They’ve thrown a lot of heavy hitters at it recently to try and keep the console a float. Games such as Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and more couldn’t give the Wii U the sales that were desired. Yet the console still suffers massively and has one of the least appealing line-ups on a Nintendo console to date.

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U offered the best smash game since Melee, but could have reached a bigger audience if the console had sold more.

Now I’ve owned every Nintendo console since the SNES. I was brought up on Nintendo, if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have gotten into gaming. I was greatly drawn to each home console and handheld system they released, and then came the Wii. Don’t get me wrong the Wii was fantastic console and Nintendo always seem to lead the way with innovation, it seemed to open up the medium of video games for many, allowing them to edge more and more into the mainstream. For me it just wasn’t the type of console I wanted. Compared to the likes of the Gamecube, N64, SNES and NES – the Wii just didn’t seem to stack up.

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The Gamecube holds so many fantastic gaming memories for me.

Wii U wasn’t much better either, the gamepad controller seemed clunky and unneeded, although it may have been useful to some players, I just simply preferred the generic controller, so much so as soon as I bought a Wii U I instantly picked up the pro controller to go along with it. This is something I wish the console had shipped with in the first place.

The launch line up wasn’t much better either, from the start it looked like Wii U was going to continue to get the third party titles it needed. Fast-forward two year and the momentum from the Wii, which the Wii U was riding on, had seemed to greatly diminish. Third party support became a distant memory and the total lack of games made the Wii U an undesirable purchase for many.

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The Wii U launch games lacked any hard hitters, something that the 3DS also shared but thankfully recovered from.

I still have my Wii U but it doesn’t get half as much of a look in compared to my other consoles, it saddens me to be honest, I remember when I played nothing but Nintendo. Nowadays if they want to grab the attention of the average gamer there’s a lot of changes that need to be made. There’s so much the console doesn’t offer compared to its competitors, but there’s nothing I’d love more than to see Nintendo make a huge comeback!

With the announcement of the NX it got me thinking, what would I love to see in their next home console? Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has already said that a new control method is already in the works for the NX, offering a “brand new concept”. The name is something that got me thinking as soon as it was announced; NX sounds more mature, gritty, sharp and powerful compared to the likes of the Wii and Wii U – it doesn’t seem as out of place when lining it up with the naming conventions of the N64 or Gamecube.

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The New 3DS is one of the weirdest named consoles I’ve ever heard which seems like an unneeded improvement, maybe something to help Nintendo sell more.. along with Amiibos.

To me the NX holds another meaning, rather than thinking of the X spelt ‘ex’ I see it more as ‘cross’, insinuating cross platform, cross device. If Nintendo could some how combine the popularity of it’s handheld consoles and incorporate that into their home console then could that be something that creates vast popularity for both? The Nintendo 3DS seems to stand on a platform that can’t be matched by any other. Also with the introduction of Nintendo ‘s plans to create content for mobile then a home console that can some how combine (or cross) all these platforms together doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Now before I start ranting and raving about what I’d like to see next I’d just like to say I’m no console or marketing expert, I don’t have all the answers, this is all just my own personal opinion and ideas I’d like to see implemented. First of all, I’d like to see a console that harnesses the same power as it’s competitors, running in 1080p and holding the same frame rate and power of those that it stands amongst it. Seeing the likes of Wind Waker and MK8 in HD was a beautiful site. More power and even better graphic capabilities could do no harm for Nintendo.

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Games such as Wind Waker and Mario Kart 8 looked simply stunning in HD.

Another main feature that has been a struggling factor for Nintendo is third party support. Nintendo just HAS to be able to provide support for third parties if it’s to compete with other consoles. I’m not wanting it to copy exactly what the other consoles offer, but to compete, Nintendo should be able to offer the likes of popular franchises to consumers of their console – games such as GTA, Fallout, Call of Duty, Fifa, Destiny, Minecraft etc.

None of these games would have ever been possible on the Wii U, not just due to the consoles lack of power but because of the lack of support. If Nintendo could create a console powerful enough to harness games of this calibre as well as catering for it’s vast catalogue of Nintendo classics then it would have some of the richest array of games to offer.

On the back of that feature it’d be good to see a reworked identity and online system finally be implemented into Nintendo consoles, an actual profile for my Mii, similar to how avatars are used on Xbox, more customisation options and adding an identity that can be used over all systems, rather than using friend codes to interact with one another. I’d like to see an achievement system that actually offers the user something as opposed to Xbox Achievements and PS Trophies.

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Taking away Club Nintendo seemed like a somewhat odd decision, I’d love to see it make it’s valiant return offering many more features when the new console arrives.

Bring back a reworked Club Nintendo, something that offers the user a set amount of stars for completing a game rather than offering it to them on a plate, then allow the user to spend those stars on DLC for the game, costumes, new characters, game modes etc. Similar to the achievement system on Xbox, and having your stars total up but also being able to buy themes, avatar clothing for your Mii, allow the user to work for their stars and offer better incentives to play for them, rather than receiving them straight out of the box. This is something I’ve always wanted to see in video games, some sort of incentive for finishing your games or putting as much time into them as possible.

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The community aspect within Nintendo has always lacked any real foundations or structure. I think it’s something that has the potential to do much more, an area that could do with a needed makeover.

I’d like to see more emphasis on local co-op as well as a better online community aspect, it’d be great to find out more about what my friends were playing, what achievements they’d accomplished etc. Make it easier to drop into each other’s games, have a new re-worked controller that took note from the ergonomics of the Gamecube pad, a collection of games that catered for all audiences – young and old.

How about a strong launch line up? hell I’d even keep The upcoming Legend of Zelda for the NX rather than releasing it for Wii U. Releasing it alongside a new Mario game, Animal Crossing, Star Fox, FZero, Metroid a line up that was just to good to turn away from. I’d also like to see some new IP from Nintendo, Splatoon seems like it has the potential there to be an interesting contender, as much as I love the likes of Mario and company, when will it end? Surely it can’t go on forever, can it?

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Splatoon has the potential to be a great new IP for Nintendo, lets hope no rash decisions are made before release.

There are so many more features I’d add, but I could go on forever. By combining all these with the cross plat forming aspect mentioned earlier I don’t see how this couldn’t be a new introduction of a console that can cater for all gamers. I’d go in the opposite direction of having a media console and focus more on the games.

Offering the likes of Netflix, blu-ray players are great features to implement but the sole purpose of buying a console is usually always to play games, something I think some companies often forget. There’s nothing I’d like more than to see Nintendo back on top and here’s to hoping they can get everything right this time… as opposed to the majority wrong.