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Feature | Interview with Watch Dogs 2 Shawn Baichoo ‘The Wrench’

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Shawn Baichoo is the pop-culture enthusiast that the masked anarchist ‘Wrench’ was practically made for as we recently had the chance to interview Shawn about his widely popular character from the highly acclaimed Watch Dogs 2 (and occasionally nerd out to games).

Known for a lot of his voice and motion capture work with Ubisoft in various games such as Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009), Watch Dogs (2014), and Tom Clancy’s The Division (2016), Shawn was also the motion capture take-down artist in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (2016) for Adam Jensen and also voiced the lead protagonist in Outlast (2013) and the second installment Outlast 2 (2017).

What was it that guided you in the direction of voice and motion capture work as a career?

When I was in theatre school, an actor came down to do a talk with us and he told us this great mantra that I really try to live my life by, especially in my career which is, “luck is merely preparedness meets opportunity.” The preparedness for me is learn your craft, be professional, be on time, be a good person to work with and pursue your passions. I tell people and actors who want to get into this line of work – whatever you’re doing, keep doing it, keeping loving it because one day your opportunity will come and you’ll be ready for it.  Now, voice acting is not the main state of what I do but it’s part of my craft as a bigger picture. I tend to diversify a lot as an actor and do as much as I can. I have been involved in theatre, television, film, voice and motion capture work. Voice and Motion capture work was never really a goal of mine when I graduated from theatre school and when I imagined my career. So, when I thought about doing original voice work for animation, I thought it was something that I would love to do and wanted to work towards. Ubisoft, Eidos Montreal, Warner Brothers and a bunch of other bigger and smaller companies too like Red Barrel for example had offered me quite a lot of work in video games. Eventually I landed Niccolo Machiavelli from Assassins Creed 2. I was the take down choreographer in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided where I designed all the take-downs and I was the main character in Outlast. From thereon I started to do all sorts of different projects which all lead up to my role as Wrench.

tumblr_oekh71m9ml1th3lmro2_1280-1Shawn Baichoo & Wrench Credit Jeremy Bobrow

What was the process that eventually led to landing your role as Wrench?

I had actually worked on the first Watch Dogs – I helped with their casting of that game and I was also a reader helping cast Clara. I played a whole bunch of secondary roles in the baseball stadium and quite a few living world characters. When Watch Dogs 2 came around, Lars Bonde who was directing and in charge of the project asked me to play Wrench in a demo of the game called a vertical slice to demonstrate the gameplay, character and setting. So I did Wrench for that with the assumption I wouldn’t play the character. But to my great surprise I got a call two weeks later and was told they were keeping me on as Wrench because they really liked how I did with him. For me it’s really cool to think that the biggest part of my career arguably is one that came to me through a long series of interconnected events. I’m just happy to work. Most of the work I do for Ubisoft is living world or secondary characters and I love doing that but it’s nice to come out of that and do something bigger.

How much do you feel like you were able to inject your sensibilities into Wrench? Was there freedom to improvise?

Oh absolutely, they were very open to what I brought. In theatre school I was always the funny guy – comedy for me is something that comes quite easily. When it finally came to Wrench, it gave me the opportunity to not only be funny, but be as funny as I wanted to be. Wrench is very much a large percentage of me so the whole character aspect about who Wrench is and what he wants, his interactions with people and finding moments to show his humanity or approachability, it was both very liberating to play him but also very challenging because I had to focus a lot of that into these moments. The writers deserve a huge amount of credit because we got along well as a group and it shows in the game and even though some of the dialogue was improvised and re-purposed by the actors to give it our own twist, that was because the writers were encouraging us that it was just scaffolding tape and they wanted us to make it our own.

There was a scene where Marcus was talking to Sitara where Wrench sort of meanders over and in the script it says “The car is ready, it’s this way” and I could have just walked over and said “Hey Marcus the car is this way” but to me that’s not fun or faithful, so when we shot it I strolled up and put on this weird British accent and said “Sir! Your carriage awaits!” and did a bow with a après vou (after you) with my hand. Ruffin was terrific with improvising and reacting organically with all the weird things I threw at him in the heat of the moment, always keeping him on his toes. So when he saw me do that he bowed and put on a British accent and said “Why, thank you very much” and it made it into the game because that was so much more natural. I know one of the writers adjusted his writing style to fit more of who I was as an actor and as a person because he knew it would just fit better. He saw how much I was into pop-culture, and how geeky and expressive I was so instead of trying to work around that, he embraced that and gave me some cool material to work with.

I remember sitting at home reading my script and I would just be laughing out loud continuously just reading Wrench’s lines because they were so comical. I got excited like, “Oh, there’s an Arnold line, I can say that as Arnold!” and I love doing voices and impersonations and I’m also a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan – he was an action hero growing up, I love that guy. So we all kind of grew up in the same kind of pop-culture and when things like that would come up I would be so thrilled that I would get to play with this stuff.

Was it difficult to showcase emotion whilst doing the motion capture work for a character that wears a mask?

Wrench hides, he spends his whole time hiding behind a mask – it looks cool but really, why is he wearing it? So because he hides behind it he doesn’t have to deal with people, you don’t see his eyes and you can’t see how he is really feeling. Wrench puts up a filter by wearing a mask and also keeps him from getting facially recognized by any technology. The animators did a really good job making an expressionless character and I always thought that was a huge challenge in film, but not impossible. Darth Vader for example is supper expressive in the Star Wars franchise which is crazy because he has no moving parts on his helmet – but the body positioning of the actor, his underlying body language, even stillness is a great method to tell a story. Wrench has emoticons on his eyes which helped but I didn’t have any face covering when I was doing the motion-capture work so they used a camera to see what my expressions were to better fine tune my performance to translate to emoticons. I made a point of looking at people with my head as opposed to with my eyes, so I would turn my head when I spoke to people I had to keep in mind that I couldn’t play on any kind of subtlety. However, because I’m such a physical actor that to me wasn’t too bad of a challenge but it was something I had to be reminded of.

watch-dogs-2-gameplay-walkthrough-desktop-background-wallpaper-full-freeWatch Dogs 2 Wrench & Marcus Credit Ubisoft

Watch Dogs 1 is very dark, gritty and serious while Watch Dogs 2 is very far from that – so why do you think they decided to change directions?

My point of view is that Ubisoft from what I could tell, both as someone who works for them and also someone who consumes their products, I find that they’re really good at listening to the community, hearing feedback from the fans on what works and what doesn’t work and addressing those things. Watch Dogs 2 is a sign that the concept of Watch Dogs is really original and it didn’t quite live up to its potential. The concept of Watch Dogs 1, if you boil it down, it’s kind of a silly concept, so Watch Dogs 2 really embraces that silliness – everything is colourful and vibrant and everyone is an exaggeration, commenting on society and the zeitgeists of the moment that we live in. So with the first in the series they tried to bury the premise of the game instead of celebrating it. What I find is a lot of people compare Watch Dogs 2 to Assassin’s Creed 2. The first Assassin’s Creed had a brilliant concept, great design and setting but ultimately some repetitive gameplay and some aspects that weren’t very fleshed out and they fell short like the first Watch Dogs game. Then Assassin’s Creed 2 came out where they tweaked the right amount of things and gave the game its full potential. So I feel like Watch Dogs 2 had the same kind of journey – the first one was almost like a proof of concept.

maxresdefaultWatch Dogs 1 Aiden Pearce (Left) Watch Dogs 2 Marcus Holloway Credit Ubisoft

Do you feel like Watch Dogs 2’s character representation was a step in the right direction on the diversity front in the video game industry?

The first Watch Dogs suffered a bit from predictability, especially with the lead a lot of people say he was very flat. There are so many straight, white male protagonists and there is nothing wrong with that but there is nothing wrong with getting something new for once. It’s not like that trope exists because it’s the best possible way to tell a story – it’s one way to tell a story. Diversity is very key for me, so I love the fact that Marcus is a black man, but he’s not a trope nor is it tokenism. It never pushes that to the forefront and makes it what the game is about but it does address it which is important. Josh is on the spectrum as he has Asperger’s, but he isn’t a caricature on Asperger’s. Jonathan Dubsky (Voice & Motion Captured Josh) did a tonne of research, he is really committed to his craft and didn’t turn it up to 11 because he wanted an award; he treated the role with respect.

There were so many dynamic relationships in the game between the Dedsec crew. Were they the same off screen?

Yes, but to a certain degree the relationships on screen were not necessary the same off screen only because we all got along better as people than the actual tensions that existed within the (Dedsec) group. Everyone I worked with had a terrific sense of play which is a willingness to offer up choices, be vulnerable and even take direction or suggestion from other actors. There were some tensions between Josh and Wrench, which Jonathan and I worked out while filming that Josh doesn’t like to be touched and Wrench knows this so he touches Josh at every given opportunity to bug him. There’s a scene where we’re on the rooftop and I bring in a bunch of beers to people and you can see my right hand slowly going up to Josh’s face and he pulls away and slaps my hand away. When we delve into deeper reasons and motivations I worked out that Wrench feels a bit threatened by Josh.

Wrench doesn’t have Sitara’s PR outlook or Marcus’s athletic ability or savvy in the field. Wrench thinks maybe he is not as indispensible as he thinks. I mean it’s not true because Dedsec loves him but Wrench is human and everybody has their insecurities. Characters for me aren’t interesting if they’re not flawed – if someone is a perfect hero that can do no wrong, that’s boring to me and ultimately no one can relate to that.

wd2-castShawn Baichoo (Wrench), Ruffin Prentiss (Marcus), Jonathan Dubsky (Josh), Tasya Teles (Sitara), John Tench (T-Bone) Credit Shawn Baichoo

John Tench (Raymond Kenney) and I automatically got along because we worked on the first Watch Dogs together and did a scene together in the Bad Blood DLC. T-Bone and Wrench also had a really big animosity between each other because Wrench felt like he was invading his space, but once Wrench figures out who T-Bone is as a person they do get along and they have a great friendship. In real life all of us were super tight; we had a lot of good times. Jonathan Dubsky just loves to laugh, Ruffin and I played up a sexual tension to a point where a lot of fans were shipping them together which is a reflection of how comfortable Ruffin and I are with each other. From Tasya Teles (Sitara) to Michael Xavier (Horatio) who were all amazing, all these dynamics were forged by the time I had spent with all the actors and because it was encouraged in the game.

If you want to learn more about Shawn and the project’s he has been involved in then head on over to his website http://www.shawnbaichoo.com. Be sure to follow him at @ShawnBaichoo on Twitter.

 

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Promotional Work For Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Collection Have Come To Light

UPDATE

Amazon Italy have now listed the Ezio Collection confirming that the title will launch on November 17.

ORIGINAL STORY 

A promotional image has come to light yesterday by the French gaming site Gameblog, shedding more information on the Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection rumors that were prompted from a Korean Games Rating Board.

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Gameblog reported that the Ezio Collection will include Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassins’s Creed Brotherhood, and Assassin’s Creed Revelations that will all be remastered in 1080p/30fps.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this remastered or ‘up scaling’ of these iconic titles – they have a special place in my heart as some of my most beloved games as well as being universal fan favourite titles compared to some of the other AC entries in the most recent years.

In 2012 however, there was an Assassin’s Creed Ezio Trilogy which came out in November of that year for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, so releasing another collection of the games which features Ezio does seem very odd.

In saying that, graphics have made massive improvements since 2012, so having those iconic titles appear on current gen consoles wouldn’t be a particularly negative thing (only to my bank account).

Gamers can relive Ezio's bloody past with the new trilogy pack

While all of this is still unconfirmed by Ubisoft, as previously mentioned what prompted the rumours were screenshots from a Korean Game Ratings board website that published age ratings for the supposed collection.

According to NeoGaf, the listings indicated that ratings were awarded recently for PlayStation 4 as well as an Xbox One version.

The collection is reported to also include all the DLC as well as the short films Assassin’s Creed: Lineage and Assassin’s Creed Embers.

It’s not unusual to have this collection focus again on Ezio Auditore – he is is one of the most beloved assassin protagonists in the series. Aside from his alluring Italian charm, he is one of the only protagonists from the series who has a couple titles dedicated to his story.

According to the report the collection is supposedly going to be available in November 2016 and will cost less than €70/$60.

It makes sense for Ubisoft to release this collection, as they aren’t releasing a new Assassin’s Creed title this year, so this is probably their idea of filling in that gap. while they work on their next title to be set in Egypt for 2017.

This trend of remastering beloved video game titles is definitely a recurring theme as we will see the release the BioShock Collection come out on September 13.

Games like BioShock and Assassin’s Creed have played integral roles in shaping our industry over the past decade, so I say roll on the nostalgia wagon.

For more news on Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Collection and many more collections to come, don’t forget to follow us on our official Twitter accounts at @Hackinfomer and @GeorgiaDanaG.

To view the original article click the Hackinformer link here

Oversized Overwatch Action Figures Appear Around The World

In light of the release for Blizzard Entertainment’s latest IP Overwatch which launches tomorrow May 24 on PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One, Blizzard have been uncovering some really interesting marketing from animated shorts focusing on heroes like Genji and Hanzo titled ‘Dragons’ to life-sized figurines which have popped up in three cities around the world. In the tweet seen below posted from the Overwatch account, the three locations Hollywood, Paris and Busan Korea highlighted “agents activating” however there wasn’t anything specific.

People first speculated that the aforementioned tweet below would be a reveal of new playable characters, but obviously now that’s not the case.

Once fans circulated the three locations, they were met with oversized Overwatch heroes in massive boxes showcasing: Tracer, Genji and Pharah. In the video bellow, Twitter user @BlueJacket and president of CSUF eSports, Jeremy Wan, was able to snap a short clip of the Tracer figure in Hollywood. The box outlines her in-game abilities and even a “Try Me” button which plays a sort of muffled sound.

Inside the box has the Tracer’s two guns along with her biography such as real name, location and her history. If you haven’t read our 8 Interesting Facts about Overwatch, click the link here to read more on Overwatch history and a couple of character bios.

Here is a shot from Twitter user @Mamytwink that he snapped up in Paris of the cyborg ninja Genji.

Finally, here is a shot of the Pharah action figure in South Korea snapped by twitter user @EscoBlades and Community Manager for Ubisoft Montreal Andrien Gbinigie.

View image on Twitter

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The fine print on the back of the box is a little bit tongue in cheek, outlining choking hazards regarding the over-sized figures.

While there is no physical or legal possibility to ‘play’ with the giant figures, you can play as 21 different heroes in Overwatch, releasing on the 24th May, 12:00 GMT, on major cosoles and PC. CHOKING HAZARD: It is impossible to choke on the figures due to their large size. However, choking during an actual Overwatch match is possible and may result in last-minute defeats, shame, embarrassment and public ridicule, courtesy of your peers. Prices and participation will not vary. The figurines are priceless, and participation is not possible.”

Below you can find a list of Overwatch launch times for all the different regions:

The Americas:

  • 4:00 PM PDT on May 23
  • 5:00 PM MDT on May 23
  • 6:00 PM CDT on May 23
  • 7:00 PM EDT on May 23
  • 8:00 PM ADT on May 23
  • 8:00 PM BRT on May 23
  • 8:30 PM NDT on May 23
  • 7:00 AM SGT on May 24
  • 9:00 AM AEST on May 24
  • 1:00 AM NZST on May 24

Europe:

  • 12:00 AM BST on May 24
  • 1:00 AM CEST on May 24
  • 2:00 AM MSK on May 24

Asia:

  • 7:00 AM CST on May 24
  • 8:00 AM KST on May 24
  • 8:00 AM JST on May 24

For more news and updates on Overwatch, don’t forget to follow us on our official Twitter pages @Hackinformer and @GeorgiaDanaG

To view the original article click on the Hackinformer link here

Persona 5 To Be Released September 15 in Japan

During a live-stream event today, Atlus has confirmed that Persona 5 is slated to launch on September 15, 2016 in Japan.P5JpRDAnn-610

The release date for Japan is actually scheduled five days before the series 20th anniversary, as the original title had been released on the PlayStation back in 1996 on September 20. Atlus to commemorate the long awaited title is going to release an “Anniversary Edition” which is going to feature an art book, official soundtrack, DLC and much more.

The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 RPG is set at ¥8,800 ($82) with the 20th-anniversary edition selling at ¥13,800 ($129).

Persona 5 director Katsura Hashino had previously commented that Atlus, “is going with a challenge that fuses together a juvenile school setting that is as large as life, together with a picaresque romance.”

“In the previous game, we wrote a story that involved having a justice group chase down a bad guy that could easily be feared by just about anyone.”

“This time, it’s about a group of high school students that are being ‘chased’ by unexpected occurrences due to the justice they believe in. We’re writing [the story] to convey a thrilling everyday life in the shoes of these characters, that are as large as life, in this juvenile school setting.”

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Back in 2013 Persona 5 had been announced as a PlayStation 3 game and was originally going to arrive in 2014, however had been pushed back to Q4 2015 for both Japan and North America.

There has yet to be a release date for the West, however in accordance to various sources, many suspect that a release will follow a couple months down the line – however, there aren’t any facts set in stone at this point.

As well as announcing the long awaited game, Atlus also plans to release an animated movie and/or series titled Persona 5 The Animation: The Day Breakers also set to release in Japan this September according to NeoGAF.

Persona 5 will be released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and we can expect to see more about the highly anticipated title at E3 2016.

To view the original article go to the Hackinformer link here

PS4.5 Codename NEO Upgrades CPU, GPU, RAM and more

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Reports last month indicated that Sony was working on an improved model of the PS4 where rumors were circulating at GDC this year.

Patrick Klepek at Kotaku commented that during the GDG back in March, Sony had briefed various developers regarding their plans for the NEO’s hardware, as one source commented that the, “device felt ‘exploratory’ but the device may not even be released this year.”

Rumors are now semi-factual as the new PS4.5 has been given an official codename, ‘NEO’ (ironically since the PlayStation VR Headset was titled Project Morpheus) which plans on improved CPU, GPU and RAM according to a report by Giant Bomb who claims to have seen documents outlining Sony’s plans for the current and new PS4 console.

Sony have yet to officially confirm and/or announce the PS4.5 at this point in time. According to various sources by GB, starting from October this year, PS4 games will be shipped with both a “Base Mode” and “NEO Mode”.

The facts are pretty straight forward: Base mode will be compatible with the current version of the PS4, whilst the NEO mode will be able to showcase the newer console’s specs to deliver a, “more stable frame rate and higher visual fidelity” according to Giant Bomb, i.e. 4K video content.

The report also outlines that rather than divide the market with the NEO, both consoles, “will exist alongside of it and use the same user environment”.

Not entirely sure what Sony’s official plan of action is when it comes to introducing the PS4.5 at this point especially if they don’t want to  ‘divide’ the market when they have already sold the PS4 console to 35 million users.

As far as the report by GB is concerned, the NEO won’t be receiving any exclusive titles as the interface, previously released titles and PlayStation Network

As for games which have already been released like The Division for example, the report states that developers would have to upgrade their titles to function on “NEO mode” versions which would then have to be released as a patch. I would be very curious to see which developers are going to actually engage in creating NEO modes for their previously released titles, seeing as they would have to release the update as a patch and not receive any particular profit for it.

Specs outlined in the report indicate that the NEO CPU will now consist of 8 Jaguar Cores set to run at 2.1GHz which is faster than the current 8 Jaguar Cores at 1.6GHz. As for the improved GPU, it states that it will have an AMD GCN which features 36 compute units running at 911MHz whilst the current GPU runs at 800MHz. The current consoles RAM bandwidth is 176GB/s whilst the improved RAM is 8GB GDDR5, 218GB/s.

The annual E3 gaming conference in June is will undeniably be revealing more about PlayStation NEO as well as the PS VR.

For more news on the PlayStation NEO don’t forget to follow the official @Hackinformer twitter.

To view the original article go to the Hackinformer link here

The Culling: A New Edition In The Battle Royale Genre

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The Culling, which is an under the radar battle-royale survival game from indie developer Xaviant is essentially Hunger Games, the game. The Culling is a 16 player fight to the death situation where one player emerges victorious at the end of it all.

The games description details, “as a contestant in the deadly game of The Culling, you must explore, scavenge items, craft weapons, and build traps that will enable you to slay your fellow contestants and emerge victorious before the end of the round. Only with the cunning, skill, and a little luck will you be able to prevail and survive the match.”

The Culling supports free-for-all or even team-based play styles with crafting, scavenging of items and trap building. At this point in time there seems to be 24 melee weapons like tomahawks, meat cleavers and tasers, as well as ranged weapons including firearms and poisonous blow darts.

The payment model The Culling utilizes seems to employ in-game currency called Func (Flexible Universal Nano-Compound) which is spent on crafting items, opening special chests and calling in airdrops. PC Gamer writer wrote in an article that the Steam description for the game states that Func is gained through exploration and combat, “but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it purchasable with real money as well.”

Although it may appear The Culling stands amongst many additions in a battle royale genre with other classics like H1z1, “King of the Kill”, and Ark: Survival of the Fittest, Xaviant described their game as, “the first stand-alone entry in the battle royale genre”.

“Our goal is to not only for The Culling to be the genre leader, but also to grow into a popular e-sport,” the developer in a statement on Steam.

“While those are lofty goals for a small indie studio like ours, our team is staffed with industry veterans and we know we’re up to the task. The initial heavy-lifting is already done. We are confident that we have a solid core game (we know because out whole team plays the latest build together for at least an hour every day).”
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“I asked a small, talented team to come up with their dream game and gave them the autonomy to build it. The Culling is a result of that effort.”

The closed alpha started the weekend beginning February 26 for Twitch streamers like summit1g and Fairlight_Excalibur.

“Launching a closed alpha will allow the community to have an active role in The Culling’s development, Xaviant founder and CEO McMain said in a statement. “The feedback gathered from the test will ensure that we are able to deliver the reliable and balanced experienced our players deserve.”

The game is set to release in full in 2017, but don’t worry Early Access for the game happens on March 8.

At this point even the pricing for The Culling has been confirmed at $15 when it launches through the Early Access. Also, anyone wanting to buy the game between March 8-14 will mean they will be allocated a 10 percent discount to the $15 allotted price, bringing it down to $13.50.

Take a look at The Culling Announcement Trailer below and tell us what you think on our official Twitter accounts @GeorgiaDanaG and @Hackinformer 

To view the original article at Hackinformer here

Oculus Rift Showcases controller Oculus Touch, Wireless Xbox One Controller and Myriads of new games

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The Oculus Rift is edging closer to hitting shelves in Q1 2016 which means that consumers will be able to get their hands on top of the range VR technology.

Various games announced for the VR technology mentioned at the conference included, Gunfire Games’ Chronos and Insomniac’s Edge of Nowhere. Various other games reported were Damaged Core from High Voltage, VR Sports Challenge from Sanzaru Games, Esper from Coatsing, and a version of Aimerch for VR from Carbon.

The VR teach company will also be pushing $10 million towards helping independent game developers fully realize their projects in an indie development accelerator fund.

New gameplay trailers were also highlighted at the conference for CCP’s EVE Valkyrie and Playful’s Lucky Tail. Industry giants Square Enix, Read at Dawn, 4A Games, and Signal Studios are reportedly working on titles.

After announcing that the company will be shipping a wireless Xbox One controller during an Oculus Rift pre-E3 press conference. Founder Palmer Luckey at the end of the event showcased the Oculus Touch, a device which can be held in each hand.

Luckey commented: “We see virtual reality input coming in lots of different forms.”

“One of the first things that a lot of people do [in VR] is they reach out into this virtual world,” said Luckey. “We wanted to create an input device that actually lets people reach out, that lets those people react with objects in the virtual world.”

“We wanted to deliver hand presence,” said Luckey, “the sense of feeling, as though your virtual hands are actually your real hands.”

Check out the link below for the Oculus VR Reveal trailer, “Step Into the Rift

To view the original article go to Hackinformer here