Author Archives: Riley Blanton

Attack of the Shua – SWR #222

It’s the debut of good friend of us here – Jedishua! on this week’s SWR podcast!

Shua shares his journey into fandom in the modern era – Star Wars Celebration talk  – Being Star Wars apologists – and more!

10298932_10152419826958257_4441147112805785596_n

Star Wars Report is available on iTunes! Be sure to subscribe, rate and review!

subscribe_on_itunes_badge Continue reading

New Star Wars Game be “in the Cards”?

The vast and detailed Star Wars universe seems a good fit for collectible card games, and vice versa. When collectible card games (CCGs) first appeared in the ‘90s – think Magic – The Gathering (1993), a number of licensed and not-so-official star wars card trading games followed, attracting an enthusiastic and loyal fan base. Most CCGs have a fantasy setting, and Star Wars, with its vast and detailed universe, is as many parts fantasy as it is science fiction, so the two make for a good pairing.

Unlike in regular card games, in a CCG the player buys a starter deck and can then add expansions to it to obtain further cards, thus encouraging a culture of card-swaps and collecting amongst players. Cards are played off against each other as the game unfolds, with each card representing a particular combination of defensive and/or attacking stats. Buffs and debuffs are deployed, with an emphasis on strategy and tactical maneuvering. It’s a popular game model, but it’s been a while since we got the last big Star Wars CCG.

With the surge of publicity around Star Wars: The Force Awakens (now out on blu ray), and the upcoming release of the first standalone Star Wars movie Rogue One scheduled for December this year, there is a significant gap in the market. Perhaps the time is right to update this noble concept and take advantage of the extraordinary leaps forward in digital technology since the first star wars CCGs appeared on the scene.

Long ago, in a decade far away…

Decipher’s Star Wars: The Customizable Card Game kicked things off in 1995. Despite a hefty instruction manual, the 2-player game proved a massive hit, spawning 11 full expansion sets and various bolt-ons. Drawing its inspiration and artwork from characters, races and locations from the original trilogy (and umm The Phantom Menace), the game gave Magic: The Gathering a run for its money, and soon became a top-selling CCG in its own right.

The idea behind the game was simple enough: players choose a side (Light or Dark) and then set out to conquer the universe, one card at a time, by laying out their forces and maneuvering for battle. The complex rules allowed for enormous variety of gameplay, with the average game taking around an hour to complete.

As The Phantom Menace was hitting the cinemas, Decipher lost the license to make the card game.The final expansion set, Themed Palace, saw release in autumn 2001. Everything went quiet for a bit until 2012, when Fantasy Flight Publishing released Star Wars – the Card Game, again based around the classic trilogy, and again to popular acclaim. Designed by Eric M. Lang, this 2-player game was nominated for a number of Golden Geek Awards in 2013.

And then… along came Hearthstone and the CCG world moved online.

The Rise (and Rise) of Hearthstone

The publisher of War of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment first released Hearthstone on March 11, 2014. It was the first CCG video game, using lore from the Warcraft series and designed as a free-to-play turn-based online gaming experience.

The game client caters for Microsoft Windows, OS X and also supports iOS and Android devices, enabling players on different platforms to compete with each other using constructed decks of 30 cards apiece commanded by a selected hero with a unique power. The game ends when an opponent’s health has been reduced to zero… And then you swiftly start another one, because it’s seductive, easy to grasp, and very good fun. By April 2016, Blizzard reported a player base of over 50 million people and the game regularly features as a top Twitch stream. It’s easy to see why – Hearthstone is simple to play, yet fiendishly tricky to master. Individual games can be won or lost on a chain of critical moves. These are the requisite ingredients for a viewer-friendly sport, and so it has proved, with a number of high profile cash-prize tournaments hosted by Blizzard and other parties.

Hearthstone is so hot right now that even a series of celebrities have joined the ranks of its fans, from model Adrianne Curry to baseball pro Hunter Pence. Considering its heavily tactical gameplay, the hit game’s appeal to poker professionals is not surprising. Among the masters of the felt who play Hearthstone is Daniel Negreanu – who’s accumulated over $32 million to date in poker tournaments – and Bernard (ElkY) Grospellier. The latter in fact started his lucrative gaming career playing StarCraft II before moving to poker. ElkY often streams Hearthstone games on his popular twitch channel, just one of the reasons why he’s ended up in the top of the 2016 Social Power Table of poker players. Popular house DJs Zedd and Avicii – whose net worth is estimated at $75 million – also play the digital CCG, and there are tweets to prove it. Will they be this year’s surprise duelists at Blizzcon, just like Negreanu and ElkY played a live Hearthstone match there in 2015?

A New Hope

So what’s next? Enter HoloGrid: Monster Battle, which may turn out to be as radical a game changer as Hearthstone proved, stepping up the CCG format in decidedly futuristic (and familiar) ways. Star Wars Visual Effects Supervisor Phil Tippett is the name behind the game which is as yet still very much a work in progress. Tippett, winner of two Academy Awards for his special effects contributions, will be familiar to Star Wars fans as the man who created the famous Dejarik “Holochess” game played aboard the Millennium Falcon in the original film. Indeed, the two games, one fictional and the other virtual, bear uncanny similarities, as you can see below.

HoloGrid is something very new; a state-of-the-art digital modelling technique dubbed photogrammetry allows Tippett to scan in physical creature models and render them as 3D digital assets in the game. When played, physical cards will trigger miniature Augmented Reality creatures on a gameboard, wrestling for position in a way that looks an awful lot like Dejarik.

Tippett’s namesake visual effects company and now games developer is working closely with developer HappyGiant to bring their cast of alien monsters to snarling growling grappling life. It’s intended that the game be playable both online and offline, and also optimized for the new generation of AR hardware and Virtual Reality headsets. It’s certainly an ambitious idea, with some very intriguing possibilities.

“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen…”

The technology is (almost) there. The phenomenal success of Hearthstone shows there’s a market to be had for online CCGs. And Phil Tippett must be in a good position to try his hand at a Star Wars licensed game along the same lines as HoloGrid.

HoloGrid could, then, be the “dry run” for a future VR/AR game based in the Star Wars universe.  Live-streamed Dejarik tournaments on twitch.tv might be closer than any of us suspected, so fast does the online gaming world move. Such a game would truly be a Force to reckon with.

 

Phil Tippett and Dan Zehr – SWR #221

It’s coffee and holochess on this week’s SWR podcast!

After watching TFA for round 10, Riley brings a fellow AFROTC buddy on to get a fresh take on The Force Awakens. Then it’s on to the news this week with special guest Dan Zehr from Coffee with Kenobi. Last but not least we welcome Oscar winner and creature guru Phil Tippett on to talk about re-creating the holochess sequence for TFA, working with Lucas and ILM and his amazing new project Hologrid: Monster Battle! Check it out!

PicMonkey Collage

Star Wars Report is available on iTunes! Be sure to subscribe, rate and review!

subscribe_on_itunes_badge Continue reading

It’s a Thing – Now You Can Play Star Wars Holochess

Combining the elements of CCG, mobile gaming and augmented reality, check out Hologrid: Monster Battle – the ambitious project from Tippet Studio and Happy Giant:

15888ea28f1f21f1f1f929c4309f1373_original

VFX Legend Phil Tippett & HappyGiant
Launch Kickstarter for AR Game

HoloGrid: Monster Battle is a hybrid board/CCG/digital gaming experience using Augmented Reality

 

May 4th, 2015, Berkeley, CA – Today, Phil Tippett & HappyGiant announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for HoloGrid: Monster Battle, a new hybrid board game, CCG, and digital augmented reality game, recently named “Best Technology of PAXEast 2016” byhttp://www.MMOGames.com

“No other tech on the gaming floor combined so many cool, new ideas at once quite like this game. It managed to put together AR, CCG gaming and mobile gaming into a mixture that engages with its personality and depth of play.”, said MMOGames.com “HoloGrid could have easily leaned on its AR tech to make it simply a neat toy, but it has built a very compelling game in the process. It has managed to toe that difficult line between being accessible while also offering a strong level of strategy. In addition, it has a strong base to build on for more variety of cards. If HoloGrid can secure the right attention and make its game affordable, then Happy Giant has possibly caught lightning in a bottle.

Phil Tippett

Phil Tippett is a 2-time Academy Award winning Visual Effects Supervisor and Director best known for his work on the original Star Wars films, Jurassic Park, Robocop, The Force Awakens, and many more. Tippett also created the “Holo Chess” scene in the original Star Wars, which he recreated for the Force Awakens.

“For years I’ve been making monsters for Directors to play with, and now for the first time, I’m making monsters for YOU to play with,” said Tippett. “We’re excited about the new fields of Augmented and Virtual Reality, and to be working with our friends at HappyGiant to create HoloGrid: Monster Battle.”

HoloGrid: Monster Battle’s gameplay is similar to Collectible Card Games (CCG’s) such as Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone, but uses physical playing cards to trigger Augmented Reality creatures and a gameboard. Players will be able to play head-to-head, either locally or remotely, and offline, non digital play is possible as well through a physical board that will come with the product. A “Hybrid” Board Game, Collectible Card Game (CCG), and Digital Game in one, it delivers to players a new type of gaming experience.

Creatures battle on your tabletop with AR

HoloGrid: Monster Battle is being built for next gen AR & VR platforms, but will first release for mobile devices, giving players the feeling that the creatures of Phil Tippett are doing battle right in front of them.

“We’re excited to be launching this Kickstarter with Phil Tippett and his studio, and bringing to life a game so many of us have always wanted to play” said Mike Levine, President of HappyGiant. “This is our first step into a new world of AR gaming, and while we are launching it on mobile initially so everyone can play it, our long term vision is to bring it to emerging AR and VR platforms.”

Photogrammetry

Another exciting aspect of the project is the use of Photogrammetry to scan Tippett’s real life physical monsters into 3D digital assets for the game, giving them a level of detail and character unlike any other.

“We’d been doing experiments with Photogrammetry, but more on museum level artifacts,” said Levine. “At the same time we began exploring doing projects with Tippett, we had the idea, ‘What if we tried this on some creatures?’ The results blew us away. That’s really where this idea was born.” “And it’s the exact same technique we used on The Force Awakens,” added Tippett.

About Tippett Studio

Tippett Studio, founded in 1984 by animation pioneer Phil Tippett, is an Academy Award®-winning media production company specializing in CG animation and digital effects for feature films, television, commercials, VR and AR. The Berkeley, CA based company has created visual effects for blockbuster movies including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Ted, The Twilight Saga, Cloverfield, Starship Troopers, Jurassic Park and Robocop. Tippett Studio’s commercial work has garnered four Clio awards. Tippett Studio is currently in production on a large format ride for a Chinese Theme Park.

www.tippett.com

About HappyGiant

Founded by veterans of LucasArts, ILM, Hasbro and Pileated Pictures, HappyGiant is an independent developer and publisher of video games and entertainment for PCs, mobile, tablets and emerging platforms.

 

Analysis of the Rogue One Teaser – SWR #218

This week, it’s Mark and Riley on the Rogue One Trailer, Daisy Ridley hints at Ep. 8 and more!

Star Wars Report is available on iTunes! Be sure to subscribe, rate and review!

subscribe_on_itunes_badge

You can show your support of the Star Wars Report podcast by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/starwarsreport Get all kinds of exclusive bonus content for our patron supporters!

support-us-on-patreon

This week’s topics include:

  • Rogue One Trailer Breakdown
  • Exclusive: Daisy Ridley On Rey’s Parents, ‘Darker’ Episode VIII, And Whether She’s Really A Jedi http://on.mtv.com/1SQlEiq
  • Take a 360-Degree Look at Star Wars-Themed Land Groundbreaking at Disneyland Park | Disney Parks Blog http://bit.ly/1qMid63
  • Your email and more!

Boba’s Bounty

Download the mp3 HERE!: (Right-click and “save as”)

Also, for exclusive updates and content, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list! 

Be sure to jump below to subscribe to the show.

Email:         starwarsreport@gmail.com
Facebook facebook.com/starwarsreport
Twitter
:      twitter.com/starwarsreport
iTunes:     starwarsreport.com/itunes
RSS FEED: feeds.feedburner.com/starwarsreport_