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Ghost Garden Games: Women-Led Independent Developer Studio Shares Their Experience at Xbox Game Studios Game Camp New Orleans

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Two years ago, a group of soon-to-be studio founders enrolled in the first ever Xbox Game Studios Game Camp in New Orleans, where they received the tools, resources, and mentorship to turn their studio dreams into reality.

Ghost Garden Games is an up-and-coming, women-led, gender-inclusive studio located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The team was officially formed in 2015, when a group of high school friends discovered a passion for telling narrative-driven stories in an interactive way.

“The original folks involved were Asher, Leslie, Claire and me,” said Kathryn Nastasi, producer and technical artist of Ghost Garden Games. “Claire was a teacher that was mentoring us in high school, and we remember meeting in her classroom every day and discussing the idea of Echo, which is this little sound wave and her ball-of-light companion, Hue. Over the course of a few years, we really developed this idea into a wonderful story and that was the project we ended up bringing to the first Game Camp.”

Game Camp was founded with the goal of empowering aspiring game creators from traditionally marginalized communities with access to subject matter experts, tools, and industry connections. The program offered a mentorship experience that taught foundational skills in game creation engines, programming, and game design through a mix of self-paced learning and live instruction.

While at the camp, the “Ghosts” realized that they needed to step back and build a strong foundation for their studio before developing Echo. Thus, during the program, they focused heavily on exploring their interests and defining the organizational structure of their team.

Participating teams were paired with mentors from Xbox Game Studios and even had the opportunity to discuss their ideas with industry legends like Shannon Loftis and Ken Lobb. The Ghosts received support from Erin Ali, a Game Camp mentor and lead producer at Turn 10 Studios, throughout the course of the program and have even continued meeting with her every six weeks post-camp. 

“I had been thinking about opportunities to work with groups and support the next generation of industry developers when I saw an article on our company intranet about Game Camp launching in New Orleans. I remember how hard it was both breaking into the industry and understanding what development was like,” said Ali. “I’ve always enjoyed seeing others achieve and mentorship has been a meaningful avenue for me to express that joy in the industry. I hope Ghost Garden Games has enjoyed their experiences with me as much as I have learned from them.”

Ghost Garden Games officially became an LLC in December 2020. “We left the first Game Camp feeling really confident about going out and making our studio dreams a reality,” said Nastasi. Since then, they have moved into their own studio space within a technology park and have blossomed into a nine-person team.

However, according to Nastasi, the team quickly became aware that although Echo was fueled by passion, it “was a little overambitious for [their] current skillsets and goals.” Consequently, the Ghosts sat down in their Baton Rouge studio space and began to evaluate their next steps.

 “We got inspired from something we noticed that Supergiant Games did with their latest release, Hades.  They took different systems from their various games...Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre… and perfected them for Hades,” said Nastassi.

The team decided to implement that strategy in their own work, and they have shifted their focus from Echo to Headspace. Headspace is a narrative, point-and-click, couch co-op game. The objective of Headspace is to solve a mystery inside the human body by exploring the left and right brain perspective to allow two players to collaborate and solve a mystery together. The studio is currently in the design and prototype phases for Headspace and will bring it to Game Camp New Orleans 2022 in hopes of getting feedback from Xbox Game Studios mentors.

“Ultimately, we decided to enroll in Game Camp 2022 because we are so much more organized as a studio now. We have such a greater idea of what we are doing, and we’d love to walk in and learn and focus on some of the areas we did not get to focus on the first time,” said Nastasi. “For those interested in developing games, this is the best opportunity to receive one-on-one guidance from professionals in the gaming industry.”

Xbox Game Studios Game Camp details can be found at xbox.com/gamecamp. Stay tuned to Xbox Wire for the latest news on Xbox Game Studios.





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Monster Hunter Rise Ascends to New Heights on Xbox

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Monster Hunter Rise Ascends to New Heights on Xbox

Summary

  • Coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and with Game Pass on January 20, 2023.
  • In Monster Hunter Rise, you’ll combine the series’ signature hunting action with exciting new acrobatic combat.
  • Enjoy enhanced visual options on Xbox Series X, plus content from the previously released title updates (up to version 10), and more to come with Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak in Spring 2023.

Welcome, new hunters! We’re excited to share that Monster Hunter Rise is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, plus Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, on January 20, 2023!

In Monster Hunter Rise, you’ll combine the series’ signature hunting action with exciting new acrobatic combat

Enjoy silky smooth action on Xbox Series X with the choice between 4K resolution and up to 60 FPS, or 1080P resolution with up to 120 FPS. Get lost in the atmosphere of the hunt with immersive 3D audio on both Xbox Series X|S systems. It’s a great time to jump in for Game Pass subscribers, and you can even continue hunting via Game Pass Cloud. You can also join the hunt by purchasing the game digitally starting at $39.99, with preorders (including a sweet bonus!) available now.

In Monster Hunter Rise, you’ll encounter a slew of new monsters inspired by Japanese folklore, like the flagship Wyvern of Malice, Magnamalo. Of course, iconic and beloved monsters from past titles also return, rounding out a roster of fearsome beasts that are sure to test your skills.

Through the game’s story, you’ll travel to the serene Kamura Village, home to everything you’ll need as a hunter. Unite with a colorful cast of characters as you become the village’s foremost hunter, some of which you’ll team up with to face the encroaching Rampage – a catastrophic event where hordes of monsters descend upon the village. Uncover the mystery behind the Rampage as you strive to forge a future for the people of Kamura.

Monster Hunter Rise

Seasoned hunters experienced with Monster Hunter World and Iceborne will feel right at home with the signature gameplay experience the series known for. Choose from 14 weapon types, each with their own unique playstyle and deep and rewarding mechanics to master. Defeat powerful monsters, and use materials carved from them to craft more and more powerful weapons and armor as you rise through the hunting ranks.

Monster Hunter Rise introduces several new unique elements to the hunter’s toolkit, with an emphasis on being more maneuverable and agile than ever. Wirebugs let Hunters shoot a special silk to unleash special attacks unique to each of the 14 weapons. Hunters can use them quickly zip up into the air and up walls, recover more quickly from impactful hits, maneuver into the right position to nail that perfect hit, and dodge a devastating hit just in the nick of time. Wyvern Riding is another unique Wirebug ability, where you can wreak havoc by controlling a monster, temporally turning one into an ally!

Monster Hunter Rise

The familiar Palico Felyne friends are back to lend their support, but this time they’re joined by the new Palamute Canyne companions. They’re a hunter’s best friend with their own set of special abilities, and you’ll be able to ride on Palamute’s back to quickly get around during a hunt. And yes, you can pet them!

Monster Hunter Rise

Choose to go it alone, or team up with up to three others online for cooperative hunts. You’ll be able to hunt together and continue your progress whether you’re hunting on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, or via the Xbox app for Windows PC.

At launch on Jan. 20, the game will come equipped with content and Event Quests from the previously released title updates (up to version 10), offering dozens of hours of intense hunting action and plenty of rewards to earn. This includes a number of fun collaborations quests from other series, where you’ll take on special themed quests to earn gear themed after Street Fighter, Okami, and Mega Man, just to name a few.

Monster Hunter Rise

In Spring 2023, the hunt gets even bigger with the launch of the Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak massive expansion, taking hunters on a journey to the kingdom to become a Master Rank Hunter and battle new threats, like the bloodthirsty Malzeno.

For the latest information on Monster Hunter Rise, keep an eye on the official Monster Hunter Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Happy hunting, and see you in Kamura!

Xbox Live

Monster Hunter Rise

CAPCOM CO., LTD.

$39.99

Pre-order bonus
– Palamute Retriever Costume layered armor
– Palico Forest Cat Costume layered armor
– Novice Talisman for some extra assistance in the early stages

Rise to the challenge and join the hunt! In Monster Hunter Rise, the latest installment in the award-winning and top-selling Monster Hunter series, you’ll become a hunter, explore brand new maps and use a variety of weapons to take down fearsome monsters as part of an all-new storyline.

Ferocious monsters with unique ecologies
Hunt down a plethora of monsters with distinct behaviors and deadly ferocity. From classic returning monsters to all-new creatures inspired by Japanese folklore, including the flagship wyvern Magnamalo, you’ll need to think on your feet and master their unique tendencies if you hope to reap any of the rewards!

Choose your weapon and show your skills
Wield 14 different weapon types that offer unique gameplay styles, both up-close and from long range. Charge up and hit hard with the devastating Great Sword; dispatch monsters in style using the elegant Long Sword; become a deadly maelstrom of blades with the speedy Dual Blades; charge forth with the punishing Lance; or take aim from a distance with the Bow and Bowguns. These are just a few of the weapon types available in the game, meaning you’re sure to find the play style that suits you best.

Hunt, gather and craft your way to the top of the food chain
Each monster you hunt will provide materials that allow you to craft new weapons and armor and upgrade your existing gear. Go back out on the field and hunt even fiercer monsters and earn even better rewards! You can change your weapon at any of the Equipment Boxes any time, so the possibilities are limitless!

Hunt solo or team up to take monsters down
The Hunter Hub offers multiplayer quests where up to four players can team up to take on targets together. Difficulty scaling ensures that whether you go solo or hit the hunt as a full four-person squad, it’s always a fair fight.

Enjoy an exciting new storyline set in Kamura Village
This serene locale is inhabited by a colorful cast of villagers who have long lived in fear of the Rampage – a catastrophic event where countless monsters attack the village all at once. 50 years after the last Rampage, you must work together with the villagers to face this trial.

Experience new hunting actions with the Wirebug
Wirebugs are an integral part of your hunter’s toolkit. The special silk they shoot out can be used to zip up walls and across maps, and can even be used to pull off special attacks unique to each of the 14 weapon types in the game.

Buddies are here to help
The Palico Felyne friends you already know and love from previous Monster Hunter adventures are joined by the brand new Palamute Canyne companions!

Wreak havoc by controlling monsters
Control raging monsters using Wyvern Riding and dish out massive damage to your targets!

Fend off hordes of monsters in The Rampage
Protect Kamura Village from hordes of monsters in an all-new quest type! Prepare for monster hunting on a scale like never before!

*This content is also available as part of one or more bundles. Please check your previous purchases to avoid duplication.

Xbox Live

Monster Hunter Rise Deluxe Edition

CAPCOM CO., LTD.

$49.99

Pre-order bonus
– Palamute Retriever Costume layered armor
– Palico Forest Cat Costume layered armor
– Novice Talisman for some extra assistance in the early stages

Includes Monster Hunter Rise and the Deluxe Kit content in one package!

Main game “Monster Hunter Rise”
– “Kamurai” Hunter layered armor set
– “Fish Collar” Palico layered armor piece
– “Shuriken Collar” Palamute layered armor piece
– “Jump” gesture set
– Samurai pose set
– “Kabuki” face paint
– “Izuchi Tail” hairstyle



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