Yes, Microsoft is still working on a ‘Halo’ TV series

Remember the Halo live action TV show Microsoft announced way back in 2013? Unlike Spartans that never die, it sure felt like the project’s been dead for quite a while. The tech titan told AR12Gaming in an interview, though, that it has never stopped developing the series and that it’s still working with Steven Spielberg and Showtime like it said years ago. 343 Industries, the Microsoft Studios subsidiary in charge of the franchise, said it’s merely taking its time to ensure that the final product can meet fans’ expectations.

AR12Gaming reached out to Microsoft to check on the project’s status, considering it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about it. Not to mention, Microsoft has cancelled a bunch of projects within the past few years, including Xbox Entertainment Studios and Xbox Fitness. Unfortunately, the company remains as secretive as ever and has yet to reveal any juicy info about the show, such as when we’ll finally be able to watch it.

Here’s the Microsoft spokesperson’s full statement:

“Progress on the Halo Television Series continues. We want to ensure we’re doing this the right way together with a team of creative partners (Steven Spielberg and Showtime) that can help us build the best Halo series that fans expect and deserve. We have no further details to share at this time.”

Yes, Microsoft is still working on a ‘Halo’ TV series

‘Pokémon Go Fest’ issues refunds after tech problems ruin event

After an up and down first year of existence, the Pokémon Go Fest was supposed to be a triumphant event where players could work together in news ways and earn unique awards. The event unfortunately suffered as cell networks and the game’s servers couldn’t keep up with the strain, preventing many attendees who had traveled from around the world from participating. Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke was actually booed when he appeared at the event, and later in the day the company announced it would refund attendees for their ticket costs, add $100 in PokéCoins to their accounts and give them the Legendary Pokémon Lugia.

The issues, and Niantic’s inability to deal with them before they derailed the event, recalled many of the problems Pokémon Go has dealt with since its launch. Incredibly popular right out of the gate, the game suffered with significant instability for months, and still occasionally has problems preventing players for logging in now. It’s the first augmented reality game with participation and appeal on a massive scale, but putting its most hardcore players through a day like yesterday is just another strike against it, even as the money continues to roll in.

For those who are still trying to catch them all, however, there are some new updates. If you’re in the Chicago area, special areas from the Fest have been expanded across a two mile area around Grant Park through Monday morning. For players everywhere, there are a number of bonuses that will be available through Monday evening at 8PM ET:

  • Double Stardust
  • Double Candy
  • Double XP
  • Increased Pokémon encounters
  • Reduced hatching distance
  • Reduced buddy distance

Also, beginning today, Legendary raids have been unlocked, featuring Lugia as well as Articuno monsters. They will be joined “soon” by Zapdos and Moltres.

‘Pokémon Go Fest’ issues refunds after tech problems ruin event

‘Minecraft’ novel by ‘World War Z’ author is now available

As strange as it sounds, Minecraft got the novelization treatment, and the final product is now out for purchase. The good news is that the Mojang team put Microsoft’s millions to good use by commissioning Max Brooks, author of the apocalyptic zombie novel World War Z. Minecraft: The Island apparently tells the story of a hero who got stranded on a mysterious island and ends up unraveling its secrets.

When the book was first announced, Mojang’s Marsh Davies described it as a “cuboid Robinson Crusoe, but madder: a hero stranded in an unfamiliar land, with unfamiliar rules, learning to survive against tremendous odds.” In the book, the cuboid hero will face hunger, the elements and, yes, zombies that roam the island at night.

Del Rey, the publishing house in charge of the project, called the book the launch of a series when the partnership with Brooks was revealed, so this might be the first of many. If you’re curious and looking for something to read for the weekend, you can get a copy right now from Microsoft’s Books store.

‘Minecraft’ novel by ‘World War Z’ author is now available

Australia learns that low gravity isn’t the best place to fight in the Overwatch World Cup

Don’t make Winston angry, or he’ll knock you out of the space station and into the depths of low gravity on Overwatch’s new map, Horizon Lunar Colony.

That’s exactly what Australian national Overwatch team tank Ashley “Trill” Powell, playing Winston, tried to do to Italy’s Tracer player in the map’s low gravity area during their Overwatch World Cup group stage match. But in space—as the commentator jokes—no one can hear you scream: And that worked in Italy’s advantage. Trill managed to knock Italy’s Tracer out the space colony’s doors and into the edges of the low gravity area, but her Blink ability was enough to pull her back to safety.

From there, all Winston could do was wave.

While most of Italy and Australia’s Overwatch players were fighting on the point, Winston got caught outside when backup—Italy’s Solider: 76—came in to relieve Tracer. By then, Trill accepted his fate and tumbled into the abyss.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen the low gravity area in a professional Overwatch tournament, though. In June, LuxuryWatch Red used the low gravity area to get closer to the capture point without taking fire from Meta Bellum during OGN Overwatch Apex’s Challenger Series.

And it worked. Using the unconventional flank, LW Red was able to capture the first point on Horizon Lunar Colony within seconds.

But moving back to the Overwatch World Cup, it wasn’t all bad for Australia. The Horizon Lunar Colony space mishap was not indicative of Australia’s overall play in Group C. Even without Trill, Australia managed to hold Italy on Horizon Lunar Colony’s first point to secure another point. Australia kicked off its home turf Overwatch World Cup debut with a massive showing, taking all four points on the first day of group play. Australia now leads Group C, followed by Sweden, Portugal, and Italy.

Over in Group D, Finland leads with a 4-0 record, followed by Japan, who upset Spain in a 3-1 series. A team full of players mostly unknown to an international scene, many expected Spain—which is packed with professional and former professional players—to perform better. Spain sits in third, with Vietnam rounding out Group D in fourth.

Overwatch World Cup Sydney begins again at 8pm ET on July 21. (That’s 10am AEST on July 22 for those local to Australia.) Sweden will take on Italy first, followed by Australia versus Portugal, Finland versus Spain, and Japan versus Vietnam. You’ll be able to catch all the action on the Overwatch Twitch stream.

Australia learns that low gravity isn’t the best place to fight in the Overwatch World Cup

Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2, Episode 1 review

Available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, iOS and Android

While it was pretty astonishing that we got a Minecraft-inspired Telltale experience to begin with, here we are in 2017 and the developer has unleashed the first episode in a second season entitled Hero In Residence. The concept itself remains as strange as it did when it was first announced, but by that same token, the franchise is still oddly entertaining and filled with personality.

The most enjoyable aspect of Minecraft: Story Mode is that it’s clearly aimed at a younger audience. This does mean adults may struggle to get into it – as you’d assume – but if you’re a Telltale connoisseur then this feels like a well-earned vacation. All the usual tropes from the studio are apparent, of course, so you’ll be making decisions and weaving your way through a somewhat unique plot. However, the ramifications are so light and what you’re asked to do so fluffy that you can’t help but have fun with it.

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minecraft story mode

Kicking off more or less directly after the end of season 1, where returning hero Jesse and friends have defeated the Wither Storm, you’re tasked with getting back to normal. Or, at least, as normal as being a giant block-faced person can be. Naturally, this doesn’t last long when a new threat emerges in the form of a neighbouring town known as Champion City with its leader Stella.

The plot never becomes too out of hand or overly complicated in the way of Batman: A Telltale Series, but this is the reason it’s so easy to play. It’s nonsense, at the end of the day, balanced out by some bizarre characters and ridiculous sub-plots that ensure the pace never lets up. It’s quite clear the developer understands its audience here and that having even an ounce of downtime probably isn’t what they’re looking for.

This doesn’t mean it goes overboard or bombards you with too much, because it doesn’t. Hero In Residence simply keeps events ticking over so that when you’ve reached the end of episode 1 – which takes around two hours or so – you’re more than ready for more.

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minecraft story mode

A big reason it works is the well-written dialogue and voice acting. There’s nothing here that’s going to be winning a comedy award, but it’s so keen not to take itself seriously that it’s open to everyone. Given that a large portion of people playing are probably going to be parents with their children, in the same way families will always head to the cinema to see a Disney movie, the whole thing is just very well pitched. You sit down, fly through an easy-to-understand and accessible story then sit back and wait for episode 2.

This is apparent in how Minecraft: Story Mode sets itself out, too. A lot more stripped back than other efforts that seek to introduce new combat options or complex mechanics, this is Telltale’s model in its most basic form – there isn’t that much to think about. Even the odd puzzle isn’t particularly taxing – but surely that’s the point, and a reason to nod proudly in the studio’s direction. This isn’t about pushing the envelope or turning Minecraft into something it isn’t. It simply exists to tie into a franchise that’s now bigger than life itself.

It’s a similar result in terms of the aesthetic. Countless times in the past titles from the developer have suffered terrible technical issues, which affect proceedings far more than they should. This isn’t the case here, mostly because we’re using that cutesy Minecraft look. It’s not hard to replicate a blocky aesthetic, and because of this fact everything looks really rather pleasant – especially the animations used on our band of would-be warriors.

It’s just all so stripped back and simple, and knowing you’re not about to be smacked in the face with serious visual or audio flaws is most definitely welcome. Even the soundtrack follows suit, reproducing the light-hearted tone the franchise is known for. You’ll have it in your head for days.

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minecraft story mode

All-in-all, then, Minecraft Season 2 has started off in very much the same vein as the first, but that does mean similar problems are apparent. Given that such things are intentional, it’s hard to pick holes, but if you’re looking for something deep and gritty then you shouldn’t give this a second’s thought – you’re barking up the wrong tree entirely.

This is akin to a hand-holding adventure than any kind of serious challenge or deep experience, and if you approach it as such you’ll be sorely disappointed. It’s cookie-cutter gaming at its most sweet, a way to expand Mojang’s universe to new territories and probably make a load of money in the process. It’s well put together and decent while it lasts, but that’s about as much attention as you should give it. When it’s over, it’s over.

There’s no doubt the Minecraft community will enjoy this as intended, and the fact it’s made it back for a round two will be all the information some need before jumping in, especially since the world has been established now. You just get to go on another journey with a cast of characters you recognise and understand. It doesn’t even matter if you haven’t played the original – there’s nothing here that you couldn’t figure out on your own.

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minecraft story mode

With that said, this is Telltale light, ticking the necessary boxes and ensuring that putting smiles on people’s faces is the number one priority. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but take it aboard before you make any decisions.

Verdict

Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2, Episode 1 is a nice return for the series as it continues to be as light and easy as before. The perfect next step for families who love Mojang’s absurdly successful creation.

Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2, Episode 1 review

We regret to inform you that you can’t vacation at this beautiful tropical ‘Minecraft’ resort

Minecraft players come up with some pretty creative creations, but this one in particular makes us wish we could live inside Minecraft, even just for a week or two.

Redditor FamilyCraft shared their own Minecraft rendition of a tropical resort, a stunning plot of land complete with palm trees, pools, and architecture reminiscent of Dubai.

Take a look at the tantalizing Minecraft resort posted on Imgur:

Don’t you just want to slip on your sandals and book your plane ticket right now? There’s even a helipad there.

Of course, its beauty partially comes from the add-on texture packs that brighten the colors and up-res the water and sky. Here’s the same resort in vanilla Minecraft:

Still impressive, from a creative standpoint. FamilyCraft said they were inspired by the Aperion Hotel project in Dubai.

The entire project took about one week with work being done by three or four active players and three or four more part-time players.

We regret to inform you that you can’t vacation at this beautiful tropical ‘Minecraft’ resort

Can you tell which picture is real and which picture is ‘Minecraft’?

Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada is a beautiful, picturesque scene: a crystal-clear lake surrounded by snow-touched mountains and green pine trees.

The lake’s beauty is so captivating that a Minecraft player who goes by JakBB recreated the real-world scene in all its glory, sharing it on Reddit side-by-side with an actual photo of the lake. The visual mod that JakBB used makes it extra realistic.

If you can’t tell, the Minecraft recreation is the one on the left, and the picture on the right is a real photograph.

JakBB said he used external software to generate the terrain, but the project still took about eight hours to complete.

Fittingly, while JakBB’s Moraine Lake recreation grew in popularity, an actual photograph of the lake was on the front page of the EarthPorn subreddit.

Earlier this month, JakBB posted another stunning Minecraft creation on Reddit: a recreation of the MacOS Sierra wallpaper.

Yes, that’s all created with Minecraft blocks.

Can you tell which picture is real and which picture is ‘Minecraft’?

These Devoted Minecraft Players Have Added Game Of Thrones’ Kings Landing To Their World – In Beautiful Fashion

Considering that Game of Thrones is all the rage right now – especially with everything that went down during last night’s episode – we couldn’t help but point out how the series’ world was expanding in an entirely different place. And that place is Minecraft.

Three years ago, a group of Minecraft players tasked themselves with recreating the world of Westeros in the game. The team made quite a bit of progress over the course of the following year, making the world about 70 percent complete at that time. But we haven’t heard too much from them since, indicating that it was either taking a break or investing even more time in making sure that Westeros looked better than ever, even with all the blocks.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done. The team recently provided an update to the project that shows just how much it’s grown over the past three years. We’ve included before and after shots below, and, as you can see, the team’s taken the extra time to improve on current models in the game, as well as expanding the world to three times the size of what it started with back in 2014.

According to the team, the map is hardly child’s play, as it was built using approximately 22,000 x 59,000 blocks, which measures up to around 501.14 square miles or 806.51 kilometers – and that measures out to about the size of Los Angeles, according to GameZone.

And, best of all, for those players that feel like roaming around Kings’ Landing and stirring up trouble, the downloads have been made available here, so you can add them to your world and have miles upon miles worth of terrain to explore in the fictional world of Westeros.

Game 2
Game 2

Granted, you won’t be seeing people jumping out of buildings or dragons tearing up the place, but there’s still something absolutely magical about how the team has managed to recreate Westeros without breaking a sweat. It makes us wonder what other equally talented teams may be capable of within the game.

Minecraft is available now for various consoles and PC.

These Devoted Minecraft Players Have Added Game Of Thrones’ Kings Landing To Their World – In Beautiful Fashion

Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 now available for your mobile device

Who would have ever thought that a whole engaging storyline could actually come out of a simple but popular mobile game that doesn’t have a storyline originally? Well apparently with the folks over at Telltale Games, nothing is impossible as here we are with the second season of Minecraft: Story Mode. We can assume that the first season was a success as Jesse and friends are back with a new adventure to explore on your mobile device when you buy the game from the Google Play Store.

Jesse probably thought that he/she and the gang would have pretty uncomplicated lives since they basically saved the world by vanquishing Wither Storm in the first season. But of course since we have a second season, they are now faced with an even more difficult challenge – go on an adventure to an ancient underwater temple and figure out how to get Jesse’s hand unstuck from that creepy gauntlet he/she inadvertently picked up.

You will get more of the same in this new Story Mode adventure as you get to face the usual tough choices you have to make in a game like this, together with all the characters you probably fell in love with in the first season. The first episode is entitled Hero in Residence and based on the trailer, you get the same brand of humor, the same graphics you enjoyed but with what we hope is a more challenging storyline.

The first episode will be at 10% off for the first 48 hours of the game’s release. You can expect four more episodes this season, although there will probably be a few more bonus episodes just like the previous one. The regular price of the first ep is $4.99 but as more episodes are released, it will eventually transition to free.

Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 now available for your mobile device

Pokémon Mod Gets Pulled from Minecraft, Official Pack Coming?

Microsoft and Minecraft developer Mojang do an excellent job at updating and bringing new additions to the game. Many skin packs evoke famous characters, such as the Power Rangers and Mario. However, for other non-official skins, mods are the way to go.

One of the most popular in recent times has been a Pokémon mod for Minecraft. Now, the company behind that modification has said it is pulling the plug. Pixelmon says that it is ending development of Pokémon on Minecraft due to a request from The Pokémon Company.

The Pokémon Company is the owner of the hugely successful franchise. A subsidiary of Nintendo, the company oversees everything to do with the series. Pixelmon says it has decided to pull away from Minecraft after the request.

“We have had a great time making this mod and creating such a wonderful community but after a request from the Pokémon company we will be shutting our doors,” reads the post.

“I’m sorry for the disappointment this will cause but let’s remember all the great times we had playing Pixelmon, discussing Pokémon, making awesome things inside this mod and everything else that we’ve done.”

Of course, it seems obvious that ‘the request’ means a little more than The Pokémon Company asking Pixelmon to stop development. We guess a request was really a legal threat.

Either way, the popular mod has gone. That’s going to be a shame for many Minecraft users as it was a very good modification. It let gamers capture and use Pokémon within the all-conquering sandbox building and crafting game.

Why Now

The only confusion is why The Pokémon Company is waiting until now to issue its request. The Pixelmon mod has been running on Minecraft for years, and it has never been targeted before.

Perhaps the company has struck a deal with Microsoft to bring an official Pokémon skin pack to the game? That would certainly explain why The Pokémon Company is clearing a patch now. Interestingly, the Japanese company has teased some big news for later this week.

We guess it’s a case of watch this space.

Pokémon Mod Gets Pulled from Minecraft, Official Pack Coming?