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GDC 2010


While at the Game Developers Conference, Adam Sessler met up with LucasArts to learn more about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Specifically, Sessler was there to talk with lead writer, Daniel Erickson and producer Jake Neri about the Trooper class inside BioWare's upcoming Star Wars MMO.

 

Star Wars: The Old Republic Lead Writer Interview »


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Puzzle Quest fans unite!

Infinite Interactive CEO/Creative Lead Steve Fawkner, sits down with us to talk about the series return to the core puzzle gameplay while still adding much more RPG elements as well in Puzzle Quest 2.

Puzzle Quest 2 CEO/Creative Lead Interview »












Much hullaballoo was made up over the Euphoria Engine during the build up to games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Grand Theft Auto IV. The idea of such a dynamic physics engine propelled gamers dreams of frenetic gameplay into the stratosphere. Now, with the upcoming American football Backbreaker project from 505 Games and NaturalMotion, the imagination is aflame with the idea of a truer-to-life experience of one of the world's most violent real-life games.

To explain the efforts of the development team further, NaturalMotion Assistant Producer Rob Donald discusses how Backbreaker will attempt to be the "first live action video game sports title" and excite fans across the world, even sans an NFL license.

Backbreaker "First Live Action Video Game Sports Title" Int. »


 


Photographic Evidence Of High Voltage's Supposed Conduit 2 Tease Surfaces

While strolling through the Game Developers Conference, Eric Eckstein noticed a mysterious "2" poster hanging next to High Voltage Software's booth. We theorized this was a sly reference to a sequel to the studio's Wii shooter from last summer, The Conduit. High Voltage stopped us from taking a photo of the poster, but a GoNintendo user was able to get a snap of the poster. Looks like The Conduit 2 to me...

Source: GoNintendo

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



It's that time of the week again. Casey Schreiner is at your service to bring you the latest developments in the world of MMO gaming. This week you'll learn about a seemingly amazing MMO coming over from Korea called Vindictus, how great the Star Wars: The Old Republic GDC demo was, and how to make yourself look just like your avatar in WTF Second Life. It's not as gross as you'd expect.

The MMO Report: Thursday, March 18th »



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Stardock's Impulse::Reactor Toolset Makes Gamers Lives Easier Too

I've built a PC system or five in my day, but when it comes to understanding code, I'm at a loss.  So when walking in to chat with Stardock's Brad Wardell about their Impulse::Reactor development tool at GDC, I was a bit apprehensive.  I enjoy their games, but I knew the conversation was going to get technical.  So I'll do what Wardell did and explain it simply: Impulse::Reactor is a toolset which allows developers to easily integrate a variety of in-game features such as chat, achievements, DLC downloads and matchmaking, into their PC titles. 

How easily?  With a few lines of code.  Seriously.  Now, there's a little more to implementing it properly as any developer will want to skin the application or create custom achievements, but the process is easy.  For example, creating achievements is the equivalent of an IF THEN statement in the game itself: IF player kills 20 orcs, THEN "20 Orc Killer" achievement is unlocked.  Set up the picture and POOF! You've got Gamerscore.

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GDC's Gamma IV Games Suggest Maybe You Only Need One Button

Independent or publisher-financed, usually the biggest constraint on game development these days is money. Technology has opened the doors to pretty much anything a designer can imagine, and pretty soon that'll include every part of the human body, too. Video games used to be designed out of constraint because there was no other choice; technology was a limiting factor, putting designers in a box they had to work within. Creativity flourished. There's something to be said for restraint and rules, and that was exemplified at the Gamma IV setup tucked away in the back of GDC last week.

Each year, experimental game group Kokoromi assigns designers a rule for their gaming submissions to qualify. 2010 took a cue from the best iPhone games and demanded the games be designed with one button, and it was remarkable to watch what some clever developers came up with around that ruleset. It's not that big-budget releases couldn't achieve the same level of simplistic creativity found in the Gamma IV games, but innovation in "triple-A" games tends to happen in a much larger stroke.

There isn't a whole lot of media to explain the brilliance of the Gamma IV entries, but hopefully I've collected enough to compliment my explanations for why they're special and worthy of your attention.

It's not hard to pick my favorite Gamma IV entry, however. That mention goes to 4fourths from the duo that is Mikengreg (aka programmer and designer Mike Boxleither and artist Greg Wohlwend), an inspiring and stressful one-button shooter that relies on the strict cooperation of several other people, both directly and indirectly, in order to succeed. You cannot go it alone in 4fourths; that's the point.

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Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain is finally a reality. At this point, most of us have finished the game at least once and the different reactions -- both good and bad -- to the game certainly drove a number of my conversations at the Game Developers Conference last week. One point that came up several times, however, was the difficulty in explaining what exactly Heavy Rain is to other people. Quantic Dream co-CEO and Heavy Rain designer can sympathize -- he's been doing it for years. He's been trying to, anyway.

"Describing in the experience that is Heavy Rain's been my nightmare for the past two years," said Cage in an interview with Adam Sessler during GDC. "Because I've had to evangelize, I've had to talk about this game for two years just to make people aware what we were doing, etc, etc. I really got the feeling that no matter how hard I tried, people could not get what kind of experience it would be. Now, it's really funny to see players who played the game try to explain it to their friends and facing the same issues. Because if I ask you 'what do you do in Heavy Rain?' -- you know, if I ask you 'what you do in any shooter?' you say 'I shoot and it was exciting because of this or that,' but if I ask you 'what you do in Heavy Rain?' it's a difficult question to answer."

It's one thing to say you understand what Heavy Rain is about and another to actually head to the store and pick up a copy, though. Most of the industry seemed to be preparing itself for Heavy Rain to be a critical darling without much commercial success. It's impossible to know what would have been the impact of Heavy Rain being a commercial disaster, and while Heavy Rain's sales aren't necessarily indicative of a typical blockbuster, ranking in the sales charts for February proves resonance.

"When we were talking about the game," said Cage, "we always said that if this game a commercial success or failure, it's going to send a very strong message to the industry. If it's a failure, it's going to tell everybody that no one's interested in creating experiences for an adult audience based on interactive storytelling and emotions, but at the same time, if it's a commercial success, maybe it's going to open doors to other people and say that you can be creative and try something different and at the asme time have some kind of commercial success."

At least we have the Heavy Rain downloadable content to hold us over until Cage's next.

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


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Sam & Max: The Devil's Playground GDC 2010 Preview

The Sam & Max franchise is as beloved as they come, so naturally it's an exciting time when a new season of the popular adventure series rolls around. Enter Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse. G4’s Patrick Klepek checked out the latest installment during this year’s Game Developers Conference, and here’s some proof:

"The interface has been streamlined to reflect that many console gamers aren't necessarily used to managing and manipulating an inventory screen that's heavily reliant on guessing what the designer wants you to do. Telltale wants to encourage user experimentation without generating frustration."

You can find Patrick's full preview right here.

GDC 10: PlayStation Move and Sub-Controller Photo Gallery

Microsoft and Epic Games partnered to make Project Natal part of Unreal Engine 3, allowing any developer creating games via Epic Games' technology to also leverage Project Natal. I sat down with Epic Games VP Mark Rein shortly after PlayStation Move was revealed at the Game Developers Conference and asked whether Move would be incorporated into his company's technology, too.

"That's a good question," he told me, smiling. "Well, I saw one on someone's desk so I assume we're doing something with it. [laughs] I don't know the answer to that."

The reason he didn't have a concrete answer, Rein explained, was because Move is more of a traditional input device than, say, Project Natal, which doesn't even have a controller attached.

"We give you a basic controller code [in Unreal Engine 3] and then people go and take off," said Rein. "Even if we weren't doing it [adding Move support into UE3], I know there are several licensees doing games for Move. I'm not sure whether it's because we helped them figure out how to use, or it's just a controller so they figured out how to make it work."

There were no Move games announced at Sony's press conference that utilized Unreal Engine 3, but many more Move-related announcements are expected at events like E3 in the months ahead.

As mentioned, however, adding support for Project Natal was a bit more of an undertaking.

"There's a lot more code behind Natal because it's more than a controller," he said, "it's about controlling your avatar, it's about syncing your objects to your guy, it's about knowing where the bones in the body are, so clearly there's more to do there. But Microsoft's done a lot of that work already for Unreal Engine 3, so they're already in pretty good shape there."

The bottom line: there's motion coming to your Unreal Engine 3-developed games in the future.

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



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Metal-Driven Brutal Legend Track Pack Being Prepared For Rock Band

All of the games Tim Schafer has worked on can be categorized as games in an established genre, laced with comedic elements. Brutal Legend is an action-adventure with a hilarious storyline and characters. Psychonauts is a platformer that makes you (if you're sane, anyway) laugh out loud. Could a comedy genre exist in video games, a genre whose sole intent was to make you laugh? Schafer pitched this idea during a panel discussing humor in video games at GDC last week.

"I think it's useful to have genres," he said. "Sometimes you feel like watching a comedy movie -- you know in some ways it's going to be funny. Sometimes I cynically think that the games business is like any other business and it's very imitative and if there was just a huge, blockbuster game that was known as a comedy, then there'd all of a sudden there's be tons and tons of them."

The problem, he pointed out, was that because there's no benchmark for the industry to look towards, no publisher can justify spending a massive budget on a genre that hasn't been established.

"No one sits down at a meeting," he said, with the sarcasm we've come to expect from Schafer, "saying 'how can we mitigate risk on this new title we're spending millions of dollars on?' and [then says] 'a new comedy game, because those are always huge!'"

No one else on the panel agreed with Schafer's hopes for a comedy genre. Both Overlord writer Rhianna Pratchett and Telltale Games writer Sean Vanaman viewed comedy as a writer's tool.

"I don't think comedy games is a genre or should be a genre," said Pratchett. "I think comedy is just a very broad tool in writing."

Schafer countered by arguing games are missing out on an audience who might like to pick up a game just to laugh, rather than the current structure, which is a game with the added color of humor.

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

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It’s going to take a lot of convincing on Sony’s part to make longtime SOCOM fans put down their DualShock 3 controllers in favor of the PlayStation Move motion controller when they sit down to play Zipper Interactive’s upcoming SOCOM: US Navy SEALs 4 when it’s released later this year. But as Zipper’s game director Seth Luisi told G4’s Adam Sessler during this year’s Game Developers Conference, the PlayStation Move is designed to bring a fresh perspective to the acclaimed tactical shooter.

“[The PlayStation Move] allows for a new level of accuracy; at the same time making it very accessible to a whole new audience of gamers.”

Hands On With SOCOM 4 and PlayStation Move »


 

Capcom recently revealed that the slick Turkish wrestler Hakan will be joining the cast of Super Street Fighter IV. And while the appearance of a burly, greased up beast of a man needs no explanation in my book, X-Play caught up with the game’s producer Yoshinori Ono during the Games Developers Conference to find out more about the newly announced fighter.

"If you look at the history of Street Fighter, there have always been wacky or unusual characters. In IV, it felt like we didn’t quite have enough of that wacky in the game. So Hakan was our chance to bring things back in that direction.”

Super Street Fighter IV Hakan Preview with Yoshinori Ono »





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The Conduit 2 Teased at GDC?

We were enthusiastically optimistic about The Conduit, so even though it didn't shape up the way we wanted it to, I absolutely made sure to make time to visit with our friends at High Voltage Software at this year's GDC.  This time out, they were showing their fighting game, Tournament of Legends (formerly Gladiator A.D.), and The Grinder, which has been completely re-invented as a Hunter: The Reckoning-style action game versus a first-person shooting gallery.  More to come on that so look for those previews soon, but what caught my eye was that in the demo room there was a poster on the back wall.  And on the poster, in a Conduit-esque font, was a giant 2.  No date, no title, just the 2.

So my first instinct was to ask the designer giving the demo, "is that your subtle way of teasing the next Conduit game?"  To which he laughed and said, "There's more to come on that!"  I asked to take a picture, but was told politely that I could not.  No one was willing to confirm that this was indeed a tease for The Conduit 2 when asked, but the sly grins said a mouthful.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one.  Stay tuned!

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Bit.Trip Runner

Shame on you, gamers, if you haven't played anything in the consistently-excellent Bit.Trip series from Gaijin Games on WiiWare. Considering how difficult it's been for WiiWare games to garner notable word-of-mouth, however, I don't really blame you. That won't stop me from shamelessly recommending that you keep your eyes on Bit.Trip.Runner, which I had a chance to play at GDC last week, and pass on some bits from my time with Gaijin Games' energetic CEO and designer Alex Neuse.

I asked Neuse whether he'd planned out all six games proposed in the Bit.Trip series from day one (he did) and whether the ending for the series (Bit.Trip.Runner is game four) is already in his head.

"Oh yeah," said Neuse, smiling. "I'm not telling you that. It's too awesome. It's gonna be so rad."

We have two games to go until the Bit.Trip series, at least in its currently imagined form, has run its course. Bit.Trip could live on past the sixth game, but Commander Video probably won't.

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