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GDC 2012


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Minecraft Will Be Getting Rain And Snow In Next Update

Minecraft contains a secret that has yet to be discovered, according to the game's creator, Markus "Notch" Persson. Notch dropped that word at his "Fireside Chat" at GDC 2012, as well as letting gamers know that there will be slight differences in the Minecraft crafting system on the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft.

As far as the secret goes, it's hard to believe there's anything about the game that hasn't been discovered. There are millions of players who are positively obsessive about Minecraft, so any undiscovered secret is likely to be buried very deeply within the game.

Any thoughts, Minecrafters? What kind of secret could possibly remain uncovered after all this time?

Star Wars The Old Republic

What the difference is between the development of an awesome game and a terrible one is, Bioware leads Richard Vogel and Dallas Dickinson laid it all out at GDC 2012. For Star Wars: The Old Republic developers, making the game awesome meant creating their own Death Star. Even triple-A games have to make sacrifices in order to be successful. That’s why in the last half year of the development cycle The Old Republic, they introduced the Death Star—basically an “imperial” review board that would evaluate team progress and make harsh cuts as needed.

“We brought everyone [on the team] to us to explain where they were. In the background we had a board that was twenty feet across and had magnetic strips of different things that outlined what we needed to do and were tracked daily,” Vogel said.

“It’s very important to cut your babies in half early and often. It’s also very important to that you don’t do nice-to-haves. That’s what everyone wants. We made people cry in the Death Star many times.”

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Journey

Chris Bell, the lead developer behind The Way and one of the developers behind Journey, believes that video games can create lasting friendships between players, and not just in the virtual realm. This experiment in digital bonding started out for Chris in the real world, Japan.

Running late for the last bus in Tokyo, Chris got lost and panicked. He quickly got the attention of a little old lady, but without knowing any Japanese, all Chris could do was show her a picture of where he wanted to go on his phone along with some frantic gestures. The old lady raced down the street with Chris following right behind her. Just as the last bus was about to pull away, Chris and the old woman made it just in time. The young developer points out that they worked together to overcome a problem even thought they spoke different languages. Through gestures and sharing information, the idea behind The Way was born.

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Quantic Dream's David Cage showed off some amazing motion capture video at GDC 2012.

The creator of Heavy Rain said that the Kara demo can be run on a PlayStation 3. It shows an android being built and gaining consciousness, as well as demoing some jaw-dropping motion and facial capture technology. Just look:

Cage says that Kara is just a demo, not indicative of his next game, but I remember back at E3 2005, when Sony was first showing off the PlayStation 3, there was a character demo from Quantic Dream that showed off amazing facial animations using at least one character who appeared in Heavy Rain. So you never know.

EA’s new frontier may just be in the mobile market. While we know of the powerhouses that it holds in the PC and console arenas, this giant is looking to spread out to the iPhone and iPad realms. At GDC 2012 this year, EA rolled out their line of games that you’ll be playing on those long trips to pass the time. I got my little paws on some of the hottest games that they have to offer and I’m delivering them straight to you.

EA Mobile GDC 2012 Gaming Roundup

Flight Control Rocket

iPhone/iPad
Release Date: End of March

Anyone familiar with the addictive nature of Flight Control should already know about this game. The original game put you in the control tower hot seat as you tried to land all the planes safely and in their respective runways. Flight Control Rocket takes it a step further, or should I say miles further, as you head out into space to keep an eye on the great dark yonder. As ships come in, you move them to their respective landing areas while keeping them away from each other. Fifteen different ships mean that you’ll have to switch strategies on the fly as you deal with ones that fire rockets, speedup, or split into two whenever you touch them.

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Hitman Absolution Embargo 1/11/12

As gamers, we’re often too caught up fighting for our lives in heated gun or melee battles to appreciate the countless hours of work that go into character animation. Motion capture has been standard fare for many action/adventure projects these days but there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome in terms of properly applying this animation to a specific game setting. This was evident in the high turnout for the GDC panel titled, “Animation Driven Locomotion for Smoother Navigation”.

Just as it takes countless man-hours for Pixar animators to design a garbage bag in Toy Story 3, it might surprise many how much work goes into making sure a non-player character’s feet animation looks realistic, let alone believable. The speakers at this panel know a thing or two about animation, namely:

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Battlefield 3

Electronic Arts has revealed the first details about Battlefield 3's next DLC pack, Close Quarters. It is one of three bits of DLC currently in the works for Battlefield 3, and is set for release in June. EA also announced that two more pieces of DLC, Armored Kill and End Game, will be released later this year as well.

As you can probably guess from the name, Close Quarters focuses on infantry gameplay as players battle through four interior maps focusing on tight spaces and vertical areas. Soldiers in the trailer that was shown during EA's GDC 2012 press event blasted through walls, decimated furniture, and completely obliterated what could have been some rather luxurious apartments before 10 pounds of lead aerated the walls.

Much like their previous DLC, Back to Karkand, developers promise a full experience out of the DLC such as 10 new weapons and added achievements. Close Combat drops this June with PS3 players getting it a week earlier.

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Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning

Artificial intelligence in games is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it's artificial, but no, it's not intelligent. It's still a program, following a decision gate and making choices based on pre-determined outcomes and priorities. But when these become complex enough, they can appear to make something sentient. That's something important in every video game where you're playing against the machine, which is pretty much every game if you think about it. Whether you're facing enemies in an FPS, or fighting off monsters in an MMO, you'll want smart foes to compete against, or there's no challenge to the game.

This is where programmers step in and do their work: building systems, paths, traits, and databases that will inform enemy constructs about what to do in nearly every possible situation in the game. This is why the AI Game Programmers Guild produces an AI track at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, bringing wisdom from those who have gone before to the up and comers. At this year's GDC, those three wise man were Michael Dawe from Big Huge Games/ 38 studios and his work on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Daniel Brewers from Digital Extremes on Darkness 2, and Borut Pfeifer from Plush Apocalypse Productions with Skulls of the Shogun.

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