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DICE 2010

Joseph Olin Steps Down From The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences

We've just learned that Joseph Olin, longtime president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, has decided to step down from the position. He will be replaced by Martin Rae, the president of Boss Game Studios. Olin will retain the title of president emeritus at the AIAS, an honorary title bestowed as recognition for exemplary service.

“It has been an honor and absolute pleasure to serve the Academy’s Board and members,” said Olin. “The dynamic nature within the interactive entertainment industry is always best served with new ideas – now is an appropriate time to transition from the Academy in a way that will ensure its continued growth through Martin’s leadership and energy. I look forward to working with Martin and the Board as their representative in the months ahead.”

Olin has headed up the AIAS for the past seven years, and in that time has grown the organization considerably. AIAS's DICE Summit has become one of the most important developer gatherings in the gaming industry, and their Interactive Achievement Awards are regarded by many as the Oscars of the video game industry. Through DICE, gaming scholarships, the Interactive Achievement Awards and the Into The Pixel art series, Olin has been instrumental in presenting gaming in a more serious light.

Check out our interview with Olin in the video below:

DICE 2009: AIAS President Joseph Olin Interview »


 



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Rumor Says Next World of Warcraft Races Revealed

With the amount of money that World of Warcraft generates on the PC and Mac, Blizzard Entertainment is used to getting this question: where is World of Warcraft for consoles?

The games industry hasn't had much luck getting MMOs off the ground on consoles, with Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI proving a rare exception to the rule. At DICE last month, I asked World of Warcraft lead producer J. Allen Brack what was stopping the genre from transitioning over.

"I think there's a lot of reasons," said Brack. "There's not one thing. One is, it takes a long time to develop an MMO. The lifecycle of consoles being what they are, you have to really time when your console's going to come out, what its projected lifecycle is going to be with when your game is going to be, which is challenging."

Naturally, the discussion quickly turned to his own ongoing MMO, World of Warcraft.

"In the case of WoW, we talk about it all the time," he said. "How would we bring WoW to the console?"

Brack immediately pointed to one huge problem: World of Warcraft's "footprint" (the total hard drive size for the game, patches and all) is around 15GBs. That's a pretty big memory commitment. Some Xbox 360s, for example, don't even have a hard drive and many of them are limited to just 20GB.

"There's those technical challenges," he explained, "there's patching challenges, there's the quality controls that we have vs. the quality controls that say, a Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo has. All those things sort of raise the bar in terms of the challenges and then specifically in the case of WoW, WoW was designed to be a keyboard game and its control scheme and its camera controls and the number of abilities that you have and the spells and how things work are very keyboard-centric. The idea of translating that to a gamepad is a very, very challenging proposition."

Even though the concept of a console version of World of Warcraft remains a hot topic even internally at Blizzard, Brack appeared to declare the near-final word on the fate of the idea. Brace yourself!

"I think it's unlikely that WoW comes to the consoles," he said, dashing hopes and dreams. "It is something that we talk about on a pretty regular basis, but someone is going to figure out how to make an MMO on a console and they're going to be wildly successful. I have no doubt about that."

Will that problem also be the case for the company's still-mysterious new MMO? Time will tell.

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time Getting Two Demos

The last developer I interviewed at DICE 2010 was someone I hadn't met: Insomniac Games president and CEO Ted Price. I've always enjoyed Insomniac's releases, especially their platformers. There aren't enough of those these days, so I feel obligated to champion them. It's Price's honest attitude towards games that makes him such an interesting character, which is why you'll hopefully find the following interview a great read. Price speaks humbly about the mistakes his company's made over the years, the lessons learned from this missteps, the kind of culture he started and has tried to maintain at Insomniac even as it's gotten bigger, what it means to take influence from other games, and much more.

G4: Looking back at 2009, what was the biggest takeaway? The was the year where the recession seemed to really impact games for the first time.

Ted Price: The biggest takeaway is that is we've all got to be careful about maintaining efficiency in our production practices and we're no longer in a world where, at least in my opinion, you can spend an insane amount of money and get away with it, just because you never know what will happen. The sales might not be there; there may be a global economic crisis, and all of a sudden, if you've made lots of big bets and your sales aren't there, you are going to be screwed.

G4: It seems like something you guys have had as a studio culture before it became a necessity. You guys have something coming out every year and that's how your dev cycle worked. Was that intentional when you started the company?

Price: When I started, Disruptor was our first game and two years later was our first Spyro. And then every year after that we released a Spyro, so Spyro 2, Spyro 3 came immediately. We took one year off and then released Ratchet and then Ratchet 2, 3, 4 and my assumption was that's the way you do it. You release a game every year because it mitigates risk and it keeps us moving. We don't have an opportunity to kind of just go off some awesome weird tangent. We like being focused on production, it's actually the most interesting part of the game development process. The hardest part is pre-production, when you're trying to figure out what you're doing. Once you get into production it's great because you're getting stuff up on screen, you're figuring out whether it works, you're putting the game together, so in the past we always try to get to production as quickly as possible.

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The first annual Indie Game Challenge awards held during DICE 2010 a few weeks back, and G4’s own Adam Sessler was on hand to host the awards and chat with the creators behind the impressive titles that deservedly found their way onto the finalists list.

In part one of DICE 2010's Indie Game Challenge awards, G4's Adam Sessler speaks with the creators of Galactic Arms Race, Altitude, Gear and Cogs.

Indie Game Challenge Awards: Part 3 »


 

Gears of War

It's been a few weeks since DICE 2010 wrapped up, but this week's events concerning Infinity Ward and Activision have sadly delayed me from publishing some of the interviews I conducted there. One of the most fascinating was with Epic Games president Mike Capps, who I caught up with after he'd finished awarding the winners of the latest Make Something Unreal contest. We talked about the state of PC modding, its decline and what can be done about it, whether Epic Games is really interested in working on the iPhone, and when we can expect to see Unreal Engine 4.

To see the entire lineup of winners for Make Something Unreal, check out the official page.

G4: So talk to me about what the "Make Something Unreal" contest here at DICE was, who won, and how did you guys go about picking those winners?

Mike Capps: The contest is basically a way to get folks making lots of different content for Unreal Tournament. We started almost two years ago now and five different phases of competition, where it was best character model, best school entry for [a] capture-the-flag level -- I mean just all certain ways to get folks using tools, seeing what can be done with it, because we like being able to show this isn't Epic's brilliant character model, this is kids at home who are starting school or haven’t done any professional work and [show] what they can do with our engine. It's for us to show how easy the engine is and also keeps that mod community alive because it's certainly, as PC gaming has been dipping, the mod community has kind of been dipping with it and we think it's vital. So many our best hires came from the mod community. I need those guys. Even if I don't hire them, my licensees need them, so I want that mod community to still be going.

The judging process has mostly been our guys at Epic, so our best character modelers are the ones sitting there looking at the characters seeing what's good and bad about them. I think the most frustrating thing for us has been playing these games phase after phase and we haven't been allowed to give any feedback, and it's just so painful 'cause we see somebody biting off too much, or just polish that one thing really well instead of taking on both things, and it's like it can be so much better, I mean, of course we got a lot of ego...we think we know what we're doing in game design, right?

But the best thing about having this contest, part of it is seeing the looks on those guys' faces when they're like, "Wow! I'm talking to Mike Capps and all these other people in the industry." But it's to be able to give them all the volumes of feedback for all those guys. I think The Ball came in number two and that's a really neat game, its got [Xbox] Live Arcade written all over it.

Read More »

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The first annual Indie Game Challenge awards held during DICE 2010 a few weeks back, and G4’s own Adam Sessler was on hand to host the awards and chat with the creators behind the impressive titles that deservedly found their way onto the finalists list.

In part two of DICE 2010's Indie Game Challenge awards, G4's Adam Sessler speaks with the developers of Vessel, Climb to the Top of the Castle, Aaaaaaaa! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, Dreamside Maroon and Miegakure.
 

Indie Game Challenge Awards: Part 2 »


 

The first annual Indie Game Challenge awards held during DICE 2010 a few weeks back, and G4’s own Adam Sessler was on hand to moderate the awards and chat with the creators behind the impressive titles that deservedly found their way onto the finalists list.

In part one of our three-part Indie Game Challenge video series, Adam speaks with the developers of the time-bending space shooter Zeit 2, the tower defense smash hit Fieldrunners and the elegant puzzler Waker.

Indie Game Challenge Awards: Part 1 »


 
For more Indie Game Challenge award goodness, follow these links:





Do you have any idea what it really takes to bring a huge game title to completion? What about two projects within a six month period? What about two incredibly deep, critically-acclaimed RPGs? What types of minds would be able to thrive in a high-pressure environment such as this? Why, two doctors naturally.

Adam Sessler catches up with BioWare's CEO/GM, Dr. Ray Muzyka and President/GM, Dr. Greg Zeschuk to discuss the success of Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2, the challenges of game development cycles and much more.

 

Adam Sessler Interviews BioWare's Dr. Muzyka And Dr. Zeschuk »


 

The Indie Games Challenge at DICE 2010 was a big deal. Why? Because it took time to recognize the little guys in gaming, those who tirelessly slave over lines of code and characters designs not because someone tells them to, but because they want to turn their passion into a career.

G4 is proud that we could be a part of this year's Indie Games Challenge where our very own Adam Sessler hosted the proceedings and introduced the world to twelve very awesome indie games.

Watch our extended web-only cut of the awards ceremony below and acquaint yourselves with the videogame icons of tomorrow.

 

DICE 2010: Indie Game Challenge with Adam Sessler »


 

 

There probably isn’t a hotter topic right now than casual games, so it just makes good old-fashioned sense that it serve as the basis for a DICE 2010 "Hot Topic" discussion hosted by X-Play's Adam Sessler.

Joining Adam on stage to talk about the past present and future of casual gaming are Pitfall creator and industry legend David Crane, and God of War developer David Jaffe. And in case you were wondering, yes, this is one of the most educational videos you'll watch today.

Hot Topics - Casual Games: Salvation or Damnation? »



Blizzard's Expectations For Sam Raimi's Warcraft Film? A Good Movie

With director Sam Raimi no longer involved with the next Spider-Man project, it's possible Warcraft's feature-length adaptation could be moving forward a few years ahead of schedule. While those details are still being worked out behind-the-scenes in Hollywood, two Blizzard Entertainment executives couldn't help but speculate about what's in store for the Warcraft movie at DICE 2010.

You might be surprised at their expectations for the movie.

"When I think about the Warcraft movie," said Blizzard VP of product development and co-founder Frank Pearce in an interview with me last week, "if it's a really cool movie with really cool effects, really cool story that is built in the foundation of the Warcraft lore and enhances the Warcraft lore and exposes the cool stuff that we've created to more people, that's great."

You might notice I haven't used the name World of Warcraft to identify the movie. That's because Raimi's production isn't necessarily based on World of Warcraft's narrative specifically. Based on what we do know about the Warcraft movie so far, it's borrowing from the entire Warcraft universe.

The lead producer on World of Warcraft, J. Allen Brack, agreed with Pearce's sentiment.

"I would just be content with a movie I enjoyed watching, that would feel hugely successful to me," said Brack. "In the litany of films that have come before, particularly video game films, the ones that have been not great are many and the ones are great are very few. I would just be happy with something that I enjoy watching."

Despite the success of World of Warcraft, Blizzard seems to have their ego in check. What about you?

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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DICE 2010

We had a small but very hardworking crew at DICE last week in Las Vegas. Andrew Pfister, Adam Sessler, myself and some key behind-the-scenes personell helped make everything possible in collaboration with the kind folks at DICE. With that behind us, what was your favorite panel?

As mentioned on Feedback, I couldn't help but marvel at the science panels at DICE 2010. No doubt part of that is being three years out of college and remembering what it's like to sit in a classroom atmosphere again (it almost made me miss it). Many of those presentations were only tangentially related to video games, but by the end, gave you a better understanding of what makes them tick.

In terms of games, the short-but-sweet speech by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick had me furiously tapping at my keyboard. You couldn't help but feel sympathy for the guy by the end, but as he's apologizing to Harmonix for dividing the music games business and shutting down RedOctane at the same time, it feels...disingenuous. It's hard to tell how much more we really got to know about the man steering the ship at the biggest game publisher right now. It was fascinating, nonetheless.

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Every year G4 covers tons of gaming conventions all over the country and across the globe. Most of the time it's a lot of fun, and every convention has it's own style, but the one that stands out for Adam Sessler is DICE. Having just returned from Vegas, this year's DICE is fresh on his mind, so Adam decided to sit down and explain to you why he loves this particular event. So take a listen and get a unique, insider's view on an insider's gaming convention in this week's episode of Sessler's Soapbox.

To see what Adam is talking about, check out all our coverage from the 2010 DICE Summit at G4tv.com/DICE

Sessler's Soapbox: Creativity vs. Big Business »



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Gearbox's Randy Pitchford Explains Why He Can't Develop A AAA-Natal Game...Yet

Microsoft has said little more about Project Natal since its unveiling at E3 next year. Developers have been trotted out to speak about the technology's potential, but right now, Project Natal remains largely that: potential. It's the mere potential for success that's keeping Gearbox Software CEO and president Randy Pitchford from committing to a big-budget game entirely reliant on Project Natal.

"I like playing with tech," said Pitchford during a DICE interview with me last week, as the loud noises of the busy just-off-the-strip Las Vegas Red Rock casino whistled away in the background. "I'm a technophile, but you can't build a business around guys like me -- so I'd be careful with that. [laughs]"

Pitchford's personal feelings, however, are vitally important -- he's the head of Gearbox Software, after all. With the critical and commercial success of Borderlands under his belt, Pitchford's in a position to take some risks going forward. But he needs to see something more tangible from Project Natal.

"No one can sanely rationalize an investment that's Natal-only that makes me believe that I can sell five million units, right?" said Pitchford, speaking from an independent perpsective. "So I can't spend the money that requires five million units in order to break even. What can I do? Can I do a million units? Can I do half a million units? How many units can I count on with [that] promise?"

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How An Insomniac Games Failure Created Today's Ratchet & Clank

Sometimes you have to learn "hey, it's okay to kill your babies." That's what Insomniac Games president and CEO Ted Price told me during an interview at DICE last week in Las Vegas.

Our conversation came about while discussing big topics at DICE 2010, including Remedy Entertainment's decision to axe months of development time spent making Alan Wake open world and Gearbox Software completely revamping their art style for Borderlands durring development. Price encountered a similar choice while developing the game that would become Ratchet & Clank.

"It [Ratchet & Clank] started out as as a game about a girl with a stick running around this Mayan-influenced environment and was probably going to be rated M [mature] if it had ever been released," said Price, laughing. "Not because of the girl but because it was a fairly dark game."

The "girl with a stick" project spent about six months in pre-production before Price began to realize the team at Insomniac Games just wasn't feeling it. He rationalized it would eventually make sense. It wasn't until a meeting with Sony, however, Price realized the real issue: himself.

"I kept pushing it because I felt at the time 'hey, you have to finish what you started' and I hadn't really learned that lesson that 'hey, it's okay to kill your babies.'" he said.

Read More »

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