Updates

Greetings acolyte,

The statue of Endless Vigilance overlooks a traffic circle near Butcher Heights. Here, beneath the grey-brick Romanesque facades of old Chicago, there is a palpable restlessness, a trace of some unseen presence.

In the shadows of this arcane centrum, Spellcasters engage in high-stakes duels in Pulaski Circle! In this close-quarters arena, there is little margin for error. Offensive spells land quickly across the short distance. Casting fully charged spells takes time, so it’s crucial to find a sheltered position to perform a Gesture or cast an Artifact. Here, Volley spells are particularly effective at rooting out your opponent—and Push spells are devastating when cast immediately after an opponent teleports to the exposed side of the arena. Keep an Ember at the ready for a reactive Guard spell. A quickly cast guard can be the difference between victorious life and death from a surprise attack.

The circular layout promotes thoughtful teleporting. Pedestals are arrayed around a central occluding statue, with open sightlines and protected positions that alternate with every teleport–players can effectively hide from each other for brief intervals. On each side, one position is low and protected, but exposed to attack from a single elevated pedestal. Every move to target your opponent can be countered with a move to a better position; Pulaski Circle pedestals are the most interdependent of first-wave arenas.

Monuments rise up from the nineteenth century cemetery plot buried below the manicured lawn. Cover points grow sturdier. One pedestal rises even higher as the match escalates. And if a player cracks the Summoning Orb, the spirit of Endless Vigilance rises up from the grave to relentlessly pursue a victim. A skillful Spellcaster might counter The Reaper, but at what cost?

Stay hidden as you seek the ascendant path, and perhaps your name will be inscribed in the ledger.

Ever Watching,

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Today’s release of The Unspoken marks a big day for us. Not only is it our fifth game launch of 2016, but it begins a shared journey with you into new, uncharted, exciting territory. Virtual Reality player versus player in our urban magic fight club. This is a game we have been thinking about making for the better part of a decade. And now it’s live for you to play, with the power of magic at your fingertips.

We couldn’t be more excited to get The Unspoken into your hands (pun intended). Once you get your Touch Controllers set-up, we hope you’ll jump online – as we will be jumping into Ranked matches over this week (and the weeks to come!) to duel it out with you. Don’t worry… we won’t stick around on the Leaderboards long!

Still waiting on your controllers? Never fear, we’ve got a bunch of live streams coming up this week so you can see the game in action. Join us on our streams for The Unspoken shirt and poster giveaways.

Here is a schedule for this week of our live streams and dev play sessions:

Tuesday – Dec 6

3pm EST / 12pm PST – Facebook Live stream
4pm EST / 1pm PST – Play with the Dev (look for Insomniac usernames!)

Wednesday – Dec 7

3pm EST / 12pm PST – Play with the Dev

Thursday – Dec 8

6pm EST / 3pm PST – Play with the Dev

Friday – Dec 9

5pm EST / 2pm PST – Play with the Dev livestreamed on Twitch

But wait, there is more!

More content that is. More arenas. More classes. More artifacts. More modes! Even more lore. All coming in 2017. December 6th might be the first time we enter this world, but we plan to stick around with updates and new content throughout 2017. We look forward to hearing your feedback as we try and build the deepest, most competitive VR experience ever.

Come join us. Release you inner arch-mage!

Greetings Spellcaster,

We’ve been watching you. You’re growing more attuned to the city. You can feel the vibrations of mass transit: the rise and fall of crowds, the waves of traffic, the crush of the El Train.

You can manipulate these unseen forces of movement as The Kineticist!

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This astral form directs city debris with blunt power. Feel kinetic energy course through your fingers as you master these Primal Spells:

  • Lift and redirect ambient objects with Telekinesis.
  • Repel opponent attacks with the Telekinetic Shield.

Embers energize three arcane gesture spells:

  • With a push gesture, attract detritus to ready a Debris Scatter, then project it outward in a concentrated cone of shrapnel. Charge up, then cast Debris Scatter at close range to damage an opponent with every deadly shard.
  • With a volley gesture, levitate a Mass Drop of automobiles to damage your enemy from above. The initial pose directs one car to your opponent; hold the pose to raise cars above up to three pedestals, selected by your gaze. Drop your arms with force for a higher-damage attack.
  • With a guard gesture, form a Force Bubble to repulse enemy spells. Cast quickly to counter, or hold the crossed-arm pose to generate a larger, more durable bubble.

The Kineticist wields heavy objects with a deliberate style. Time your Telekinetic Primal carefully. Defend with your off-hand shield while an object overcomes inertia to move to your primary hand.

A held object can act as an improvised shield. And a thrown object can nullify an enemy projectile. Your Primal defensive capabilities are second to none.

There are massive objects in every arena—concrete fountains, metal machinery, stone gargoyles. These inflict the most damage. Gesture toward an object with your offensive hand to draw it close. But choose carefully; heavy objects take longer to attract.

Debris Scatter excels at breaking enemy shields and shattering Summon Orbs.

Save your Embers. A quickly cast Mass Drop can divert an adversary while you move close to prepare a Debris Scatter spell. Multiple Mass Drops will leave your challenger with no safe haven.

To prevail, you must sense the ebb and flow of intangible waves as you manipulate the dense matter of the physical world. Duel with verve, but never forget the gravity of the ancient code.

May you crush your rival before your rival crushes you.

Ever watching,

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Greetings acolyte,

A power plant looms at the south branch of the Chicago River. Once, the station was an engineering marvel, with steam engine turbines that illuminated half the city even as they cloaked its skyline in black fog. But now it stands silent and ominous, shuttered long ago by a bleak safety record.

In this abandoned temple of industry, Spellcasters follow the ancient code of the duel! Burnham Station is a cavernous interior arena bisected by electrified machinery. These moving barriers test timing and precision—the physical techniques that underpin the art of spellcasting.

Victory follows grace. Ascendant arch-mages know that it’s not just the selected spell—it’s how well the spell is cast. Primal spells are different for each class, and each one requires proficiency in a new skill, so that each class is defined by its play style. The Anarchist’s Fireball grows more powerful with sustained ignition, and damages its target with an accomplished throw. The Blackjack’s Spectral Knives multiply with a controlled chargeup, and fly to a target with laser-like precision. The Kineticist’s Telekinetic attack is strengthened by the selection of a massive object, hurled at an opponent with blunt efficiency.

The head complements the hand. Balancing casting time with the strength of the Primal Shield and the cooldown of Teleportation is vital. A newly cast shield enables a magician to hold ground. But a deteriorating shield prompts a move to a new pedestal. And when an opponent teleports while a shield is in a cooldown state, there is a moment of exposure. Anticipating opponent movement maximizes damage. When timing is clicking, when casting and moving are in sync, duels feel sublime. Spellcasters enter a mind-altering state of flow.

Burnham station grows dark as a match progresses. Timeworn machinery whirs to life, powered by other dimensional energies. Distant rear pedestals are fortified, while forward pedestals offer a firing line through rotating wheels. As sparks fly between support columns, the Summon Orb manifests an antiquated dynamo. Assembling it brings the Electric Beast through the veil to punish an opponent with high-voltage tendrils. Was this monstrosity formed when Burnham station was operational? Or did it will the massive turbines into existence to act as an earthly vessel?

Acolyte, do not stare into the void. Keep your eyes and mind always on the battlefield.

Ever Watching,

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Greetings acolyte,

The street grid crawls toward the lake shore, then abruptly stops. In the deep recesses of a high-rise foundation, a construction crew makes a startling discovery: a great building of the promenade, long forgotten. The structure is packed tight in strata of dirt and ash. But still it gleams in electric light, an intact survivor of the fire of 1894.

Spellcasters meet in the mystic glow of this eldritch battle-pit to fight for dominance! The Jackson Digsite is a dramatically vertical arena, with sweeping elevation changes between low and high pedestals. The winning arch-mage maintains an otherworldly awareness of the full space, and chooses positions that offer an unobstructed view of the battlefield—all to remove opponent cover points and Embers one by one.

Focus is all-powerful. Skilled duelists hoard Embers, knowing that a single spell can be countered. But casting multiple spells in rapid succession forces a hapless opponent to choose between unfortunate options. A Pyrotechnic Volley targets all opponent pedestals from above, save one—coupling it with a homing Chaos Skull leaves no pedestal safe. A Spectral Cloak conceals the caster, even when teleporting—following it with a precise Disc of Blades exposes the enemy to a surprise attack. Cthulhu’s Grasp summons deadly tentacles, effectively herding an opponent into a position—pairing it with the close-range Debris Scatter increases the probability of a high damage attack. There are countless feints, manifold techniques for diverting attention and overwhelming an opponent. That is how true Spell casters buy time to ready their next spell.

Deep, dark Jackson Digsite demands extraordinary focus. One forward pedestal provides a destructible cover point. Another provides an advantageous casting angle. A rear pedestal looms high over the battlefield, but requires a defensive survey of the space. Here, blocking angles are obtuse, and homing spells rise up from below.

The very ground is impermanent. As it crumbles away, it reveals an abyss—straight down to the smoldering remnants of the White City itself, where the fiery Serpents of Sol Bloom’s Midway Plaisance arise to protect any magician bold enough to seize the Summon Orb.

The Council favors this hallowed space. May the Spellcaster’s code govern your duel.

Ever Watching,

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Greetings acolyte,

In the shadow of the El tracks, there is a neighborhood where no one lives. The streets here are deserted, save for scattered commuters and lost tourists. No packages have been delivered here in over fifty years. And yet when night falls, every storefront glows with neon light.

Unseen Spellcasters gather here to duel in the Elmhurst Avenue arena! In this uncommonly long battleground, pillars are far apart—so offensive Primal spells require exceptionally skillful aiming. And at long range, there is time to see an opponent attack and respond. Because of that, the balance in this arena tilts in favor of counters.

There is a counter for every spell. Counters can be Primal shields, guard spells, strategically deployed offensive spells, quickly cast Artifacts, or timely teleportation. Multiple fully charged Primal spells turn a Chaos Skull back at its caster. A Force Bubble diverts the trajectory of a Disc of Blades. A Dispelling Censer sends Cthulhu’s Tentacles back into the void. Understanding these relationships—and playing to the strengths of each class and Artifact loadout—is the key to transcendent spellcraft.

Duels in Elmhurst Avenue begin with the home pedestal, two flanking positions protected by barricades, and one exposed forward position. A mastery of Primal shield timing and position is critical at the forward pedestal. Long spell volleys happen frequently. Canny magicians observe their opponent’s shield health to exploit a moment of vulnerability, or teleport away just before their own shield shatters.

As the match escalates, the arena grows more vertical; structures crumble to reveal two high-elevation pedestals that offer a dominant vantage point over barricaded enemies. The Summoning Orb materializes very close to these high positions. When the Orb shatters, and its effigy assembled, arcane energies animate a powerful street debris Golem. If the Golem hunts you, may you find a Dark Forge or Dispelling Censer within your grasp. Otherwise the Obelisks that lie beneath Elmhurst Avenue may well mark your grave.

Heed the rules of the Council. Duel with grace. With style. And may the most skillful Spellcaster ascend.

Ever Watching,

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Greetings acolyte,

If you ride the elevator to the top floor of a North Side office tower—and if the sun is in the perfect position, with a sliver of light revealing the shadowy rowhouses below—you can just catch a glimpse of a rooftop garden. Yet if you search for the garden at ground level, you will never find it.

Here, spellcasters duel for supremacy in the shrouded Astor Garden arena! The Council designed this venerable battleground for skillful casting, with destructible trellises and close pedestals for surprise short-range attacks. Beware! Mindful opponents will try to flank you with elevated pedestal positions. And as the duel escalates, plants grow unchecked in the pollen-choked atmosphere, revealing a terrible secret: the malicious Devourer, imprisoned just beyond the veil. Will you unleash it on your opponent? Or will you cower behind a hedgerow as its pods spawn deadly seedlings over your positions?

Duel viciously, but fairly. And may the best arch-mage win.

Ever Watching,

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Greetings Spellcaster,

Open your mind. Can you sense the unrest? Can you feel the struggle of three million burning souls in a city of shattered glass?

These chaotic forces are yours to command as The Anarchist!

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This astral form channels the disorder of the city to cast destructive spells. These Primal Spells are at your fingertips:

  • Manifest a Fireball in your bare hands.
  • Deflect opponent spells with your Arcane shield.

Channel Embers to perform three unique gesture spells:

  • With a push gesture, track your opponent with a deadly and unpredictable Chaos Skull. Push a fast skull, or charge a skull that’s devastatingly massive–skulls distract your opponent while you prepare your next spell, and shatter the shields of inattentive spellcasters. But beware! Their allegiance is fickle. A well-timed fireball can send a Chaos Skull back at its caster.
  • With a volley gesture, summon Pyrotechnics to rain explosive fireworks down on the arena. Pyrotechnics target opponents on any pedestal, countered only by a skillful teleport or a well-placed shield.
  • With the guard gesture, pull glass shards together to protect yourself with a Plate Glass barrier. You’ll be free to charge gesture spells or reach for powerful Artifacts.

Cast these spells together; multiple Chaos Skulls and Pyrotechnics can overwhelm your opponent with multidirectional attacks. You’ll need to channel an Ember to cast each gesture spell, so visualize your strategy and plan ahead.
An all-offense loadout of three Dark Forge spells will give you the power to finish your opponent off while they’re distracted.

Or choose a more tactical loadout; the Clockwork Imp will steal your opponent’s Embers while you’re weaving together a devastating sequence of spells.

Destroy your opponent’s Embers to limit their casting options. An uncast spell needs no counter, and each broken Ember removes a pedestal. Controlling the arena is one key to victory.

But take heed: volatile magic consumes the unwise! Remember your training.

Ever watching,

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Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a momentous week for Insomniac. Most of you know we just launched Feral Rites, our second virtual reality game on Oculus Rift and the first VR brawler-adventure of its kind.

As we do with all our games, we’ve paid careful attention and responded to player feedback so far. We appreciate the support from everyone who has experienced Feral Rites, and we understand the concerns as well — especially about the game’s price. Effective immediately, the price of Feral Rites is $29.99. The game’s original price was largely based on all the work that went into it. We’re proud that Feral Rites is among the largest VR games of its kind available today.

Oh, and one more thing. You may have seen that the Oculus Fall Sale has begun. Feral Rites is a part of the sale, which means you can buy the game for $9.99 USD through Tuesday, September 20! That’s 66% off! After that point, Feral Rites will return to its $29.99 price point.

For those of you who bought the game at the original price, we’ve worked with Oculus to provide you with the following games for free to thank you for your early support.

  • AirMech Command
  • Damaged Core
  • Defense Grid VR
  • Chronos
  • Edge of Nowhere
  • The Climb

The games should automatically appear in your library by Sunday, September 18. If you have any questions about this, please contact the Oculus support team at support.oculus.com and click on Contact Us.

We deeply appreciate our Community’s passion for all the games we make, even when that feedback is sometimes difficult to hear. We’ll continue to monitor feedback about Feral Rites and Edge of Nowhere — and we cannot wait to show you more spellbinding details about The Unspoken very soon. Please continue to chat with us on Twitter and visit us on Facebook. We love hearing from you!

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Mike Acton is Director, Core at Insomniac Games. He has been with the studio since Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, heading up the Insomniac Engine team. Core Dump occurred over August 5-6, 2016 with nearly 90 attendees representing several development studios throughout the industry. CoreDump featured in-depth interviews and panels from the game-dev front lines along with tangible lessons learned and practical solutions for some of today’s toughest challenges.

***Note: Unfortunately we lost audio on the last 4 sessions from Day 1. We apologize for that. Below are all the other Day 1 videos. Day 2 had no such audio issue and those videos will be coming soon.***

View all sessions from Day 1 here.
View all sessions from Day 2 here.

I think #CoreDump was a success. There were lots of ways it could have gone wrong. Lots of ways it could have gone spectacularly wrong. But what we really discovered was the obvious: When you put a bunch of experts in a room together and discuss things they are expert in, there’s plenty to share and take-away. In fact, I think our main problem was that in two days you can barely scratch the surface of the problem spaces we encounter in the engine and tools of making games.

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Day 1 went essentially as planned. We interviewed people on the Core team and had panels discussing topics we felt were interesting. Keeping things working on time was important to us, and it was immediately obvious that a traditional open Q&A from the audience wasn’t going to work. We quickly settled on a Twitter format where people could tweet questions and we’d have someone watching the stream and quickly filtering them (and potentially rewording them) so that we could keep things moving as smoothly as possible. Surprisingly perhaps, there were people in the audience who didn’t use Twitter and were not interested in creating an account. But leaning over and asking the person next to them to send a question seemed to work for most.

During the day, we asked around during the breaks on what people thought was working and not working. Probably the most common feedback was that people wished other studios were participating. That multiple perspectives on a problem were really valuable. That we should do that “next time.” On one hand, I think people may underestimate the logistics of getting multiple studios to agree on anything like an untested conference beforehand and so I’m not convinced that would have been possible to arrange well in advance. On the other hand, we had a room full of people from other studios already in place. There was no good reason to wait for “next time” and so the format of the conference changed for Day 2.

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No one was trying to present a polished version of their “solution” to some problem implying it would “just work” for others. We were discussing the real-world issues and implications and causes and struggles and that’s always where the real complexity lies.

On Day 2, we invited anyone to join the interviews. I was pleasantly surprised that we could add someone from another studio to every single interview and panel for the day. I thought there were quite a few standout discussions that evolved from that. For instance, in contrasting the asset build solutions between Insomniac, Riot and Ready at Dawn, it was very interesting to discover how different things were even though we largely share the same problem space. It was also abundantly clear that no one solution was “right” or even “complete” and that we all had things we could learn from each other. And that, for me, reinforced the value of this type of conversation. No one was trying to present a polished version of their “solution” to some problem implying it would “just work” for others. We were discussing the real-world issues and implications and causes and struggles and that’s always where the real complexity lies. The devil is, as always, in the details. Your specific answer to questions like “How do you handle errors?” would radically impact what decisions you make regarding your build systems. The difference between systems that enforce hard constraints and those that try to make things work as well as possible when things are broken are enormous.

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The huge volume of unanswered or unanswerable questions that we all shared was also on display. How do you train? How do you impart specific, technical trade-offs? How do you really profile? How do you trace data through a system when things go wrong? How do you divide up your team? Who is ultimately responsible for making sure everything runs on the platform? How do you test? These are the kinds of discussions that most needed to be had (and will continue to be valuable topics) and that simply don’t work in a traditional lecture format when you don’t have a novel answer.

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I think we’ll do another CoreDump. I know it was valuable for me. And if we can judge by the comments we’ve gotten so far, I’m pretty sure it was time well spent for everyone who attended. If nothing else, in quite a few cases we just reinforced that hard problems are hard and that there just isn’t a magic solution. So no, you’re not doing it wrong. But we could all be doing it better. The ad hoc nature of the discussions was absolutely the heart of the event and that’s one thing I would not want to change next time. But I think having a bit more context like collecting screenshots and interesting tidbits over time to point to and discuss would be a valuable addition. And definitely it’s clear the thing to do is get other studios involved right from the start, if at all possible.