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DICE 2010


Alan Wake? More like Alan Wait, amIright? No, but seriously, Alan Wake is coming out in May, this time for real, after a long development cycle, and Remedy president Matias Myllyrinne spoke to the assembled throng at DICE 2010 and answered the question of what took so long.

Apparently, it was creativity. "[We] played around with some crazy things," he said, including making it a sandbox game... that idea was scrapped in favor of a more plot-driven game. Check out the video below, for a more in-depth look at Wake.

DICE 2010: "In the Wake of Alan" Presentation »


For all of our DICE 2010 coverage, including videos, interviews, news and more, check out our DICE site.

When you need to explore your world, there is seriously no one better to help you than an oceanographer. So DICE 2010 enlisted  David Gallo, Director of Special Projects Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, to deliver a presenation entitled "How To Explore Your World."  Check it out below:

DICE 2010: "How to Explore Your World" Presentation »


 

For more DICE 2010 videos, interviews, news and photos, check out our DICE 2010 page.












Uncharted 2 screenshot

Sony's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves won ten total awards last night at the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences at DICE 2010, including the coveted Game of the Year award.

Modern Warfare 2 won for Best Online Play and Best Action Game, and Dragon Age: Origins took home the prize for best RPG or MMO. In the handheld world, sleeper hit Scribblenauts took home Best Portable game. The complete list of winners is under the cut.

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Whenever Activision head Bobby Kotick talks, people listen. It’s kind of like the Howard Stern effect: I just want to hear what he says next. And you better believe when Kotick takes the stage at an event such as DICE 2010, you’re in for some quality material.

You need proof? Here are three articles for your reading pleasure:

The source of this material was Kotick’s DICE presentation, which you can view in its entirety right here:

DICE 2010: Bobby Kotick's "Creative Talent" Presentation »


 

Few topics in the video game world cause as much heated discussion as censorship. Just Google “Australia” and “video games” for proof. Of course, the reason this topic is volatile is because it’s about protecting the first amendment rights of the artists and designers behind the games we so adore.

If you are as fascinated as I am with first amendment law as it relates to video games, then you definitely owe it to yourself to check out the following DICE 2010 presentation by Entertainment Software Association senior vice president and general counsel Ken Doroshow. Granted, there are times when his speech does feel a bit like a law class (he even warns the audience beforehand), but that just means it’s high in knowledgey goodness. Feed your mind.

Free Speech, Gaming and You: DICE 2010 1st Amendment Speech »


 

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OnLive is the soon-to-be-released console-less gaming system that, if everything breaks correctly, will make a serious run for the market space consoles currently hold.

The secret to OnLive's potential success: Instant gratification. According to Perlman, "People have no patience. They want all media. They want what they want, when they want it and where they want it, and they want it instantly delivered." Say, that is what I want -- right freakin' NOW!

Perlman hinted that OnLive will be available on iPad, as well as TV, iPhone and other devices... very interesting. Check out the whole presentation in the video below:

 

DICE 2010: "Instant Gratification" Presentation »


 

DICE 2010

There are some black, asian and other minority characters in games, but typically, most game characters are white. They're also usually male. How come? The answer may seem obvious, but there's more to it, as explained by USC assistant professor Dmitri Williams at DICE 2010.

It's the fault of game developers. But why?

"You make games that look like you," said Williams.

The majority of game developers are, in fact, white and male. One way to help encourage diversity in the output of video games is to place more diversity in the development staff.

"The kind of characters featured in games are reflective of who is making them," he continued.

Prey was actually brought up several times during the panel, being one of the few examples in the entire history of video games that featured a Native American as a main character.

Watch Alan Wake's Look Evolve

One of the Alan Wake's most distinctive elements is its unique look. Remedy Entertainment is known for developing games that don't look like other games. Alan Wake is no different. Remedy president Matias Myllyrinne showed off how Alan Wake's look evolves as more layers of the studio's visual design are layered over the game during a presentation this afternoon at DICE 2010.

The above shot what the game looks like now. Let's start peeling back Alan Wake's layers.

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Alan Wake

We've all been waiting a long...long...long time for Alan Wake, the first game from Remedy Entertainment since Max Payne 2 shipped back in 2003. Remedy president Matias Myllyrinne tried to shine some light on what took Alan Wake so long to come to fruition at DICE 2010. In short?

"Freaky prototypes," he said.

"[We] played around with some crazy things," he added.

As a result, pre-production on Alan Wake went much, much longer than Remedy anticipated. Much of the pre-production spent on these "freaky prototypes" were largely what Myllryinne called "slack innovation," where Remedy was coming up with ideas that didn't necessarily help, but some actually did and Remedy finds that period to be crucial to their internal development process.

"[We] put all our eggs in one basket and watch that basket very, very closely," he said.

Alan Wake also ran into trouble during production because Remedy had originally envisioned their psychological thriller as a sandbox adventure. About six months of work was spent building that sandbox arena. Eventually, however, they decided to scrap it.

"It wasn't working," he said. "[It] took away from cinematic aspects and rollercoaster story."

Myllryinne admitted Alan Wake could have shipped with the sandbox elements intact with a series of band-aids and design patches to lift it up, but they ended up throwing it all out.

Gamers will finally see what they've been working for all these years in May.

Keep watching for more coverage from DICE 2010 all week long.

You might think making games is all about putting 40 percent awesome in a box, throwing in a pinch of zazz and calling it a SKU, but that's not true. Games, you may have noticed, are all around us, all the time.

In the video below, Carnegie Mellon professor and ex-imagineer Jesse Schell lays out a vision of the future in which our lives become, essentially, one big RPG.

DICE 2010: "Design Outside the Box" Presentation »


 

Schell's discussion kicks off with some of the most unexpected gaming developments over the last few years, including:

  • The sudden success of Guitar Hero.
  • The Wii winning the console wars
  • Webkins
  • The incredible popularity of Xbox Achievements.
  • Mafia Wars

"What do these have in common? A variety of psychological tricks," explains Schell, who then goes on to examine how these various gaming successes take advantage of humans instincts, and how we hunger "to get to anything real." He goes on to examine how gaming has extended to grading a class, driving a car, shopping and socializing, ending at a future where everything is a kind of game.

Seriously, watch the video. It's pretty mind-blowing. And check out the rest of our DICE 2010 coverage for more videos, news, interviews, photo galleries and more.

Facebook

Farmville. Farmville. FARMVILLE. Social-oriented, player-connected games are a hot topic at DICE 2010, especially so during Rise of Nation designer Brian Reynolds' talk this afternoon. He's now chief game designer at Farmville-developer Zynga and spoke at length about the development of these games. Reynolds said there's a very important litmus test he uses: will my aunt like it?

Think about the kinds of people you know who play Farmville. If you're like me, it's your mom, your aunt and other extended family members who would never consider themselves gamers.

Thus, for Reynolds, when they're considering a new social feature for Zynga's games, it has to be simple and make sense for his aunt. Would his aunt use this? Could she use this? Why not?

Of course, to know more about Farmville, you probably need to stop hiding those Facebook updates!

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We here at G4 are currently chest deep in DICE 2010 coverage. In addition to all of the fantastic articles that our killer team is churning out from the event floor, we’re also pleased to bring you a series of fascinating presentations and talks in video form that should enlighten as well as amuse.

First up is Naughty Dog developer Richard Lemarchand, who served as the co-lead designer on the brilliant Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. If you are at all serious about getting into game development, this is one presentation that you definitely need to check out. Hit play now.

DICE 2010: Naughty Dog Presentation »


Pretty great, right? There's plenty more where that came from over at our DICE 2010 page.

Rock Band 2 / Guitar Hero World Tour

The keynote presentation at DICE 2010 by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick started as an argument for why he got into video games in the first place, but he spent several minutes addressing various mistakes he's made at the company, including the decision to not purchase Harmonix.

"When we were buying Guitar Hero and buying RedOctane, the makers of Guitar Hero, we knew about Harmonix," said Kotick. "We had always known them as sort of a somewhat failed developer of music games. They always had really good ideas, but nothing that was really commercially viable until Guitar Hero and at first we thought, 'okay, it's a good piece of software, but if we gave it to Neversoft, they're going to knock the ball out of the park with this.'"

Neversoft ended up developing Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, which catapulted the Guitar Hero franchise into the stratosphere, while Harmonix went on to produce Rock Band.

"We really didn't even think 'hey, we should go to Boston and meet these Harmonix guys and see what they're up to," said Kotick. "And of course, had we gone, I think the world of Guitar Hero would have been rewritten and it would be a lot different today and probably a profitable opportunity for both of us and an opportunity where you'd have even more innovation in the category."

Kotick's reflection almost came across as an apology to Harmonix (and perhaps dismissive of what Neversoft ultimately did with the Guitar Hero franchise). It's very likely Harmonix founder Alex Rigopulos was in the audience here at DICE. The financials of the music games business have fallen substantially following the Rock Band and Guitar Hero explosion a few years back.

"A lot of times when you get caught up in a lot of the financial details of the business," admitted Kotick, "it sometimes makes you overlook what's really important, which is who's passionate, who's committed, who's inspired, where's the next great idea going to come from."

It's almost like an episode of Lost. What would have happened if Harmonix stayed on Guitar Hero?

Activision

It's easy for gamers to find reasons to dislike Activision CEO Bobby Kotick simply because he's the most powerful executive in video games. Kotick doesn't help himself, however, when he tells investors (even if it's in a joking manner) that he wants to "take the fun out of games."

At DICE 2010, Kotick took the stage and attempted to address the oft-quoted lines.

"It was a line that I used for investors," he said. "It was mainly because I wanted [to explain to our shareholders that] we were responsible in the way that we made our games and that it wasn't some Wild West, lack-of-process exercise and that we really did give some thought to the capital being used to provide a return to shareholders."

He's right (it did happen on a financial call), but there was probably a better way to say that.

Bobby Kotick

Likely the most anticipated, most talked about presentation at DICE 2010 was a keynote speech by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, a guy who doesn't have a whole lot of fans in video games.

But he came to DICE with the clear goal of imparting his passion for video games. The problem? He doesn't play them. Kotick has previously admitted he doesn't really play video games anymore and tried to explain the reason he doesn't play video games: addiction.

"I'm a single dad and I have three daughters and you could probably tell when I was walking out I don't really have the physique of a marathon runner," said Kotick. "I like to eat. I would pretty much say it's an addiction."

Kotick then tried to explain how he's in charge of the most powerful video game publisher in the world...but he doesn't even play or greenlight the products that make it successful.

"It got me thinking that trying to explain what it was like in the early days, in the 80s, when I used to play video games, [and today it] would have caused me to have the same kind of inability to control my behavior," he said. "I still have callusess from Defender. I play from time to time, but the nature of my personality is such that if I was regularly playing Modern Warfare 2, I would not be able to stop it. It would be at the expense at all my regular responsibilities."

His shareholders certainly don't seem to mind.

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