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Candy Crush Saga developer King had a number of trademark issues rise to a head recently when they brought action against The Banner Saga to get them to change their game's name. Of course, The Banner Saga, an indie strategy game about Vikings, bears no resemblance to King's sugary match-3 game.
But keeping the issue front and center is Albert Ransom, the president of independent studio Runsome Apps, creator of CandySwipe. In an open letter on his website, Ransom points out the similarities between his game and Candy Crush Saga; CandySwipe was developed two years before Candy Crush Saga. Ransom also laments the fact that people confusing his game with the more popular Candy Crush has led to a slate of negative reviews.
But the issue Ransom is currently fighting deals with a trademark dispute. Ransom writes, "When you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for 'likelihood of confusion' (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don't have the right to use my own game's name."
Ransom alleges that King purchased the rights to a game called Candy Crusher, which allows them to challenge his own trademark containing Candy. According to the US Patent office, the Candy Crusher trademark is still held by Harrier Software, but this could be referring to a separate filing. Ransom provides a link to his own trademark opposition paperwork, which have gone back and forth with King, for the past year.
On why he's only bringing up the issue now, Ransom writes, "I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me."
Ransom opens his letter calling out King for trouncing on his livelihood by forcing him to fight for a game that was dedicated to his mother. "I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the android game, you will still get the message saying '...the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla...'"
We've reached out to King and the CandySwipe developer for further comments. King's stance on the issue was summed up in their own open letter, where they stated, "Our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others." Given their actions against Banner Saga developer Stoic and Ransom's studio, that statement seems slightly off.
The promise of getting deluged by weirdness awaits your every move in Jazzpunk, a cartoony cyberpunk first-person adventure that attempts to shoehorn as many perplexing and hilarious moments as possible into its meager two-hour length. This off-the-wall journey is far from a straight line from start to finish, however, since every retro-futurist setting you explore is riddled with secrets. The many comedic oddities you uncover multiple trips into this goofy indie odyssey worthwhile.
Jazzpunk's warped version of the special-agent life begins with its silent protagonist, Polyblank, being mailed through customs in a human-shaped suitcase and deposited on the doorstep of a top-secret espionage agency that's based out of an abandoned subway car. If the brain-warping neon psychedelic intro doesn't make you feel like you've been drugged, the ebb and flow of the many humorous absurdities layered thick throughout the peculiar opening moments certainly will. From there, the wild ride takes a more overt turn toward the bizarre when your director hands you a prescription bottle of mysterious pills to take in order to be "transported" to your first mission. Yeah. That's all just in the first minute or so.
The surreal missions that follow have you degaussing and smuggling pigeons, extracting mechanical organs from sushi-loving cowboys, cross-dressing for a vacation rendezvous briefcase swap, murdering a bionic pig with a six-string guitar, and even photocopying your backside to gain access to a secret facility. It's all excessively bizarre, which is a huge part of the fun. You never know what crazy thing you'll encounter next, and being diligent about investigating every nook and cranny rewards you with a slew of hilarious secrets and gags.
Overcoming obstacles in your way and sniffing out the path ahead isn't particularly challenging, though the often unusual nature of the many tasks you have to complete to progress makes them highly entertaining. Experimenting to see what happens when you interact with an object or trying out some new gizmo you've acquired on an unwitting test subject is often rewarding on its own. Like the moment I decided to spray pigeon juice on a hobo, spurring a swarm of the birds to affix themselves to the poor fellow. He stood there, birds flapping away at his face wildly, and informed me that I had to get my own peanut butter. What? Indeed, Jazzpunk's light puzzle play takes a backseat to its quest to make you laugh.
Humor is the heart of this demented adventure, and it's hard not to chuckle a bit when you're spraying liquid cheese into the mouth of a bespectacled gentleman or beheading pepperoni and cheese zombies with a giant pizza cutter. The situations you find yourself in from one moment to the next grow increasingly outrageous as you progress. References to Evil Dead 2, kids' cereal of the 1980s, old-school video games, and goofy nostalgia for the technology of days gone by are sprinkled in for good measure. It's a funny game to be sure, and I had more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. Not all of the gags hit the mark, though, and the laugh-worthy mileage you get depends in part on your amusement over scatological wisecracks.
And you thought toasters were just for making toast.
Retro-themed minigames modeled after classics from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras throw added variety into this crazy concoction. They're entertaining asides that break up the gag-heavy exploration and minor puzzle elements, though Jazzpunk leans on these diversions too heavily at times. It's fine when earlier minigames pop up as amusing Easter eggs as a reward for your meticulous tinkering and searching. But these interruptions wear thin when the final stretch of the adventure forces you to motor through a gauntlet of rather dull minigames. Sure, the mini-games tie in to the story progression in an amusing way. But by the time you're playing minigolf and racing gravy boats, it becomes painfully obvious that the substance and humor have waned considerably. It's an odd shift, considering the overall level of ingenious creativity thrown in elsewhere. The bonus multiplayer mode, Wedding Qake, is one big exception, however. Having a "let's get married" deathmatch where you "engage" opponents and blast them with champagne corks? Good times.
Even if the humor doesn't always click and the depth is lacking at moments, Jazzpunk's stylish presentation and great backing soundtrack set a slick atmosphere and cool vibe that inspire the need to stick around in its peculiar world a bit longer. Unless you're very diligent in your travels, revisiting past stages undoubtedly reveals additional jokes, secrets, and silly character encounters you missed the first time around.
Quirky humor and an abundance of outrageous antics keep things buoyant through much of the short but flawed journey. Jazzpunk is an enthusiastic attempt to answer the question of just how much weirdness you can possibly cram into a few hours of gaming. In that endeavor, at least, it's a great achievement.
Microsoft Studio's head of PC gaming division and strategy Jason Holtman has left the company after less than 12 months in the position. Holtman first joined Microsoft midway through last year, after departing from his position as director of business development at Valve.
Credit: Edge Online.
"We can confirm that Jason has left Microsoft, and we're grateful for his time at the company. We wish him the best in his future endeavours," a Microsoft representative told GameSpot today.
No further information was disclosed as to where Holtman may be heading or circumstances surrounding his departure.
Holtman's contributions at Valve include his work on shaping digital distribution platform Steam into what it is today. He left Valve amidst a round of layoffs that the organisation enacted in February last year.
The majority of World of Tanks players on PC never spend a penny on the free-to-play strategy game and this trend isn't expected to change for the Xbox 360 version, released worldwide today. Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi told GameSpot during a launch event last night in San Francisco that the studio is expecting the numbers to be "pretty much the same" at around 75 percent of people choosing not to pay.
Of course, Kislyi would like to see that percentage rise, but he's not willing to alter the World of Tanks experience in such a way that players are punished for not spending money. Players are too smart to fall for this kind of deception, he said.
"You cannot fool [non-paying players] for a long time. You can fool a bunch of people, or a lot of people, shortly, but then they realize it's a trap," Kislyi said.
If Wargaming were to introduce measures that negatively affect the experience for non-paying members, this news would spread like wildfire, and that would be bad for the game's image, he said.
"So if you do something wrong, or if you try to be greedy and milk [players for money], people will realize that [and] just start leaving [negative] feedback--not only inside our particular gaming community, but also on Facebook and on Twitter," Kislyi said. "So there is no way you can fool consumers who don't pay money."
The challenge for Wargaming, then, is to design World of Tanks in such a way that players who don't pay can still enjoy the experience, Kislyi said.
"That makes us honest and humble and thinking hard on how to provide a really enjoyable full-scale, all-the-way experience without any velvet ropes or closed doors which you can open only with the golden key, to everyone," he said.
Kislyi pointed out that everything in World of Tanks is attainable through gameplay, meaning the game should be thought of as "free-to-win." If you're a working professional with a family and various work obligations, you might consider paying real money to speed up your gameplay, Kislyi. But this is not required.
World of Tanks is technically "free" on Xbox 360, but you need to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription ($60/year) to play the game. Kislyi said he wishes this wasn't the case, but explained that he's not going to fight Microsoft on this position.
"We have to respect that [requirement]," he said. "Of course, for us it probably would be better if there was no [Xbox Live Gold requirement]. Let's be realistic. [but] If Microsoft [removed the requirement] for us, other publishers would probably be not very happy. We realize we are not in a position to break that kind of business model."
World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, the first console title ever from Wargaming, is available worldwide today. It was developed by Wargaming West, formerly known as F.E.A.R. 3 developer Day 1 Studios. If you don't have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can try out the game through a special 7-day trial.