LOS ANGELES (AP) — How do you make a video game about World War I fun?
After nearly 15 years of creating shoot-’em-up games about World War II, the Vietnam War and fictionalized contemporary and futuristic military conflicts, the creators of the “Battlefield” series are going back — way back — with their latest installment. Uncharacteristically, the new “Battlefield” is set amid a century-old war rarely depicted in the interactive medium.
“In the beginning, we had many preconceptions, such as there were only single-bolt rifles and the action was primarily in the trenches,” said Lars Gustavsson, design director at Stockholm, Sweden-based studio DICE. “As we dug deeper, we realized the Great War was really the dawn of all-out warfare and paved the way for everything we’ve done in the past.”
For the interactive industry, it’s already a challenge to realistically and thoughtfully construct virtual wars based on real ones, but WWI has always been the ultimate tonal challenge. With its gruesome reputation and political complexities, it’s typically a no-fly zone for mainstream game developers who rely on easy-to-understand, good-versus-evil narratives.
The bold departure for the series is right there in the latest edition’s title: “Battlefield 1” — not “Battlefield 5,” as it would’ve traditionally been called. In the game, out Friday, players won’t only engage in ground skirmishes and dogfights across the Western Front, they’ll also do battle in the Great War’s lesser-known theatres, such as Arabia and the Italian Alps.
The series’ shift back to the early 20th century, when the tools of modern warfare were first emerging, has fundamentally changed the military shooter’s gameplay. For example, tech-savvy players can’t rely on missile guidance systems, fly drones into enemy territory or employ other military gizmos to take down combatants. It’s made for a grittier, more grounded game.
Gustavsson noted the throwback approach has also allowed game makers to explore the chaotic war’s cultural diversity, whether it’s showcasing Indian soldiers fighting alongside British troops in the multiplayer mode or creating downloadable content about the 369th infantry regiment, the predominantly African-American military unit known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.”
“For the campaign, we didn’t just want to focus on one soldier who was capable of everything, so we’ve taken this war story approach that presents many different perspectives from several different sides of the war,” said Gustavsson. “We’ve tried to paint as broad a picture as possible on the battlefields, where troops fought and destinies were changed.”
While the developers strived for accuracy in recreating the era’s locales, vehicles, weapons and other gear, “Battlefield 1” isn’t a true historical simulation. The game’s multiplayer mode, where players will spend most of their time, allows wannabe soldiers to pull off such outlandish feats as taking on tanks on horseback and reigning down on troops from airships.
“It’s a game,” said Patrick Soderlund, executive vice president at “Battlefield” publisher Electronic Arts Worldwide Studios. “It’s still meant to be fun. We’ve obviously gamified some of the equipment to make for a better experience. If it was completely authentic, the guns would jam a lot more on the battlefield. That wouldn’t make for a very enjoyable experience.”
It also means players can’t die of the Spanish flu. The pandemic isn’t in the game.
This year’s change of scenery has already distinctly differentiated “Battlefield” from that other big military shooter in the marketplace. Activision’s “Call of Duty,” which remains gaming’s most successful military shooter franchise, will push further into the space age on Nov. 4 with “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.” Soderlund is optimistic about EA and DICE’s unique turn.
“It took some convincing, but I think we have a better, far more groundbreaking product than if we would’ve just did the expected thing and made another modern-day military shooter,” said Soderlund. “This game has really galvanized the company in a way that I didn’t anticipate, to be honest. I think everyone here is really excited about it and wants to play it.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang .
NEW YORK (AP) — Stars of Hollywood and Broadway — including Julia Roberts, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Hugh Jackman, Emily Blunt, Neil Patrick Harris and Helen Mirren — put on a splashy fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.
The Democratic candidate could only address the group via a video message Monday evening. But daughter Chelsea and husband, Bill, were present at the sold-out event at the 1,300 seat St. James Theatre. Billy Crystal was host and Barbra Streisand lent her recorded voice to the show.
“What is at stake in this election is the future that we want our children to grow up in and whether or not we are going to have a country that we all can be proud of because all of us can be ourselves,” Chelsea Clinton said.
Bill Clinton called his wife “the single-best changemaker I’ve ever known.” He added: “It is not true that our best days are behind us. It is not true — unless we give it up. Don’t give it up. Grab it.”
The event alternated performances with readings or short speeches. Angela Bassett recited a Sojourner Truth speech, Mirren read one by Eleanor Roosevelt and Julia Roberts read a column by Molly Ivins.
Joel Grey and Sienna Miller sang “Wilkommen” from “Cabaret,” Parker and Andrea McArdle belted out “Tomorrow” from “Annie,” Anne Hathaway and Kelli O’Hara sang a tuneful medley of “Get Happy” and “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and Sara Bareilles sang her hit “Brave.”
Jon Hamm and Jake Gyllenhaal teamed up to perform a bit of Sinclair Lewis’s play “It Can’t Happen Here,” Alan Cumming spoke about LGBT rights, Lena Dunham recited part of Hillary Clinton’s concession speech in 2008 and new Tony Award-winner Cynthia Erivo closed the show with a gospel-tinged “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Crystal kicked off the night by cracking that it was the greatest collection of Broadway and Hollywood stars since liberal-leaning producer “Harvey Weinstein’s daughter’s bat mitzvah.”
Crystal then launched into a version of “Comedy Tonight” from the musical “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” — renamed “Hillary Tonight” — with the lyrics: “No racist baiting/No Muslim hating/Pantsuits for everyone/It’s Hillary tonight!”
Donald Trump was a constant target for Crystal, who at one point compared the Republican candidate to hurricane season: “Think about it: It starts with a lot of hot air spinning out of control. It hits America, causes a lot of damage and panic. But it’s completely over by November.”
Many of the songs were picked to tweak Trump, including one from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and “Children Will Listen” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” sang by Bernadette Peters with a children’s’ choir.
Other performances included Josh Groban singing “Over the Rainbow,” Stephen Schwartz and Kelli O’Hara dueting on “For Good” from “Wicked,” Harris reprised his Tony-winning title turn in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” with a powerful rendition of “Origin of Love.”
Tickets ranged from $45 in the rear balcony to $2,700 premium orchestra seats, with bundles of top tickets plus access to a post-event party going for $5,000. It was streamed live on Clinton’s Facebook page.
A few protesters — one holding a “Clinton 4 Jail” sign — stood across the street under the marquee for “The Phantom of the Opera.” Inside the Clinton event theater, which usually houses the musical “Something Rotten!,”many performers wore pro-Hillary T-shirts and at least one attendee wore a glittery “I’m With Her” top.
Toward the end of the 2½-hour show, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Renée Elise Goldsberry, the Tony-winning stars of the Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton,” took the stage for a riotous rap based on the song “The World Was Wide Enough” — “I have only one overwhelming feeling,” they asked. “Anybody here want to shatter a glass ceiling?”
Mark Kennedy can be reached at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
DETROIT (AP) — Mike Green had the best game of his career offensively, allowing Detroit Red Wings fans to truly celebrate the last home opener at Joe Louis Arena.
Green scored three times for his first hat trick and Darren Helm had two goals to help Detroit beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Monday night.
The Red Wings are leaving the venue they have called home since the 1979-80 season next year for a new arena nearby. Red-and-white clad fans filed into the arena that has been the home of four of the franchise’s Stanley Cup-winning teams ready to celebrate and they weren’t disappointed.
“You could feel the energy of the fans,” Green said. “That led right into the opening ceremony, in through the intros and then the game. We were excited and wanted to put on a good show.”
Green scored twice in the first period and his third goal restored a three-goal lead with 6:36 left in the game.
The 31-year-old defenseman entered the game with 120 goals in his career, which began during the 2005-06 season with the Washington Capitals and included a 31-goal season three years later.
“He certainly showed that he’s still has a lot of ability from a few years ago,” Andrew Hammond said after stopping 20 shots in his first start of the season for Ottawa. “He was the difference.”
The Red Wings signed Green last year and he had a relatively quiet season with seven goals and 28 assists.
“He’s coming into this season much more comfortable,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “He spent a whole career with another team and then he switched teams. It takes a little while as a human sometimes to adjust.”
Helm scored on a breakaway in between Green’s goals in the first period and added a second goal with 2:56 left in the third, giving the Red Wings three goals in a 5:34 stretch.
“That first goal just deflated us and there’s no way that one goal should deflate us,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “You’re asking for trouble when you react that way to one goal.”
Ryan Dzingel’s short-handed goal midway through the second period pulled the Senators within two goals.
“We tried to come back in the second period, but you can’t start out that way in the first period,” he said.
Detroit’s Petr Mrazek made 13 of his 31 saves in the second period to keep a relatively comfortable cushion.
After beginning the season with two losses, Detroit looked determined to start strong against the previously unbeaten Senators.
Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson fired up the crowd by dropping his gloves and fighting Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf less than 6 minutes into the game.
With more scoring and fights, fans had plenty of reasons to cheer the rest of the night.
“The home opener is one thing for sure, but certainly it felt more a little more a playoff game, given the last home opener in The Joe,” Blashill said. “You could feel that energy right at the drop of the puck. It’s an unreal building in terms of energy and I’m sure we feed off that.”
NOTES: The Red Wings, playing their first home game since the death of Hall of Famer Gordie Howe, honored the man known as Mr. Hockey with a video tribute during the first break in the game. Fans were asked to stand and to hold up No. 9 signs that were on each seat before the game. The Red Wings also will wear a “9” on their jerseys. Behind each net, “Howe 9,” is painted in red. … Ottawa F Matt Puempel played for the first time this season, replacing Phil Varone in the lineup.
Senators: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.
Red Wings: Play Wednesday night at the New York Rangers.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Washington University in St. Louis said Monday that it has stopped using sedated cats to train medical students how to insert breathing tubes down babies’ throats, effectively ending the practice in the U.S., according to a medical ethics group.
The university’s School of Medicine said in a statement that after a “significant investment” in its simulation center, it will now provide neonatal intubation training using only mannequins and advanced simulators, effective immediately.
The school said improvements in simulators made the change possible. Cats currently at the university are being adopted by employees of the medical center.
“In the 25-plus years the university has relied on cats in teaching this procedure, none was harmed during training,” the statement read.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a medical ethics nonprofit, applauded the decision, saying the practice was cruel to animals and unnecessary for students. The group said it was the last of the 198 U.S. pediatrics programs still using cats.
“The best way to teach emergency airway intervention is on human-relevant training methods. I commend Washington University for switching to modern methods,” said Dr. John Pippin, director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee.
Washington University’s use of cats has drawn criticism in recent years, with critics contending that the animals suffer pain and injuries ranging from cracked teeth to punctured lungs. Protests broke out in 2013 after an undercover video of the university’s training in pediatric advanced life support was released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The video shows a trainee putting tubes down the throat of a sedated cat, sometimes struggling to get it right. However, the medical school continued using sedated cats in other training programs prior to Monday’ announcement.
But university officials have said the lab consistently met federal Animal Welfare Act standards, including passing an inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture soon after the PETA video.
Other teaching labs have used simulators for years, but Washington University previously cited research indicating that pediatric doctors in training only succeed in 20 percent to 35 percent of their initial attempts to intubate infants, justifying the need for animals in training.
The program previously used ferrets, too, but university spokeswoman Judy Martin said ferrets have not been used for many years.
The military operation to wrest Mosul from the Islamic State group could potentially become the single largest, most complex humanitarian operation in the world in 2016, a U.N. official said Monday.
Speaking via video-link from Iraq, Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said that in the worst case scenario, some 1 million civilians could flee the city with 700,000 of them requiring shelter — overwhelming emergency sites that currently only have the capacity to hold 60,000 people.
“Our capacity to support 700,000 people in the short-term — we couldn’t do it. And certainly if we had to mount a response over the intermediate-term, if they couldn’t go back to Mosul quickly, if there was too much damage in the city, then it would test us to the breaking point,” Grande said.
She said that the U.N. was especially concerned about the safety of the estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million civilians inside Mosul who may get caught in the fighting. She said officials were also concerned that IS had already booby trapped parts of Mosul and positioned snipers within the city.
“In the worst case scenario, we can’t rule out the possibility that there may be a chemical weapons attack. We also fear that ISIL, as they did in Fallujah, may try and hold civilian populations either as human shields or forcibly expel huge numbers of civilians in the face of an attack by the Iraqi security forces knowing the Iraqi forces will not fire on their own people,” Grande said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group.
Grande said she has heard reports of people charging as much as $10,000 to smuggle people out of Mosul ahead of the operation to retake the city that was launched Monday. She said that, so far, the U.N. hasn’t detected any population movements but that they were expected within the coming days.
Largely due to a lack of funding from the international community, the U.N. and its partners have only set up six emergency sites with a capacity to hold some 60,000 people. But Grande said in the next few weeks 22 emergency sites should be in place with a capacity to hold over 400,000 people — far short of the 700,000 people who could potentially flood out of the city.
“W, we’re still short and everyone who’s working on this operation knows that. We’re continuing to discuss with authorities what might have to happen,” Grande said.
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to IS in the summer of 2014. Weeks later the head of the extremist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the formation of a self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque.
If successful, the liberation of Mosul would be the biggest blow yet to the Islamic State group.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix is testing the financial limits of its streaming video service as the rising cost of producing original programming pushes up subscription prices.
The latest reminder came Monday with the company’s third-quarter earnings report, which revealed that Netflix added 370,000 U.S. subscribers. That marks its second consecutive quarter of slowing U.S. growth since lifting a two-year rate freeze and increasing prices by as much as 20 percent for more than 20 million existing subscribers.
While the latest quarterly subscriber gain exceeded management’s modest projections, it fell far below the 880,000 U.S. customers that Netflix picked up at the same time last year. The deceleration occurred even though the latest period included the July debut of “Stranger Things,” which turned into one of the summer’s surprise hits.
Netflix is now faring far better overseas as it tries to diversify its video library to suit the tastes of 189 other countries. The company added 3.2 million international subscribers in the third quarter, surpassing the 2.7 million it gained at the same time last year when it was operating in about 130 fewer countries.
Investors were thrilled with the international progress and the better-than-expected showing in the U.S. Netflix’s stock surged nearly 20 percent to $119.91 in extended trading.
The drop-off in U.S. subscriber gains underscores the delicate balancing act the company is trying to pull off as it seeks to retain and attract customers while also financing its ambitious expansion overseas amid fierce competition from Amazon and HBO.
It’s an expensive challenge, which is why Netflix raised the price for its most popular U.S. plan from $8 to $10 per month. And the pressure to continue increasing rates every few years seems likely to continue, though Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Monday that that there are no plans to raise prices again anytime soon.
On average, Netflix said, it is collecting 10 percent more for its subscribers worldwide than a year ago. About 25 percent of the U.S. subscribers still covered by the rate freeze imposed in 2014 will have their prices raised by year’s end.
“With more revenue, we can reinvest to further improve Netflix to attract new members from around the world, while continuing to delight our existing customers,” Hastings wrote in a letter reviewing the third-quarter results.
After spending $5 billion on original programing and licensing rights to other shows this year, Netflix has earmarked another $6 billion for next year. Only Walt Disney Co. and NBC are spending more on programming, based on an analysis of 2015 data, according to the research firm IHS Markit. Netflix expects to offer 1,000 hours of original shows and movies next year, up from 600 hours this year.
But the price increases that help finance new shows threaten to become counter-productive if they drive away too many of the existing 47.5 million U.S. subscribers or discourage potential new customers from signing up.
Netflix does not disclose how many of its subscribers cancel each quarter, but Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter estimates that about 1 million U.S. households opened new accounts from July through September. That means about 600,000 subscribers abandoned the service during the third quarter, if Pachter’s calculations are accurate.
Even at $10 per month, RBS analyst Mark Mahaney contends that Netflix remains a bargain for the average U.S. subscriber, who watches about 60 hours of programming each month, more time spent viewing other popular cable TV channels. By Mahaney’s calculations, the average Netflix subscriber in the U.S. is paying the equivalent of 17 cents per hour of programming watched versus a range of 25 cents to 38 cents per hour for every hour of programming watching on AMC, FX, CNN, CBS, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
For that reason, Mahaney believes Netflix will still be able to raise its monthly prices by a few more dollars during the next four years and still reach 160 million worldwide subscribers in 2020. Netflix ended September with nearly 87 million worldwide customers.
For now, Netflix is leaning on its streaming and DVD-by-mail business in the U.S. to subsidize unprofitable overseas operations. The company is promising to make money internationally next year. Overall, Netflix’s third-quarter earnings nearly doubled from the same time last year to $51.5 million, or 12 cents per share.
Netflix had hoped to expand into China on its own, but said Monday that it will instead license some of its content to other providers that already have cleared the country’s regulatory hurdles governing the kind of video that can be shown there.