Sony finally unveiled their plans regarding the motion sensing and 3D registration capabilities of their new controller thingy called Move. The device capabilities look pretty awesome, so I think everyone expects the new hard- and software to be quite fast and accurate. On the official blog post you can see some photos and some game announcements. Well it looks like they have more or less the top sellers of the Wii all ported for launch :-D. Release date is “Fall 2010” and price (including the ps3 eye cam) 100 USD, so once again we don’t know nothing when and how much for Europe ;).
Lately I needed high resolution images of the XBox controller buttons for a simple game, but they where nowhere to be found. So I took my time and made images of the four most prominent ones. They are available in 800×800 pixels, free to use everywhere you want. The zip file contains 4 PNGs with transparent background. If you want to try yourself: basically I was following a tutorial, to be found here.
On Nov. 27th I organized a trip to Graz, where the Institute for Computer Graphics and Visualization (CGV) of Graz University of Technology has a 3D cave installation called DAVE (Definitely Affordable Virtual Environment). 26 people and me took the bus to Graz and experienced a whole lot of interesting virtual environment effects. The cave itself gives a great insight on “what is possible” and we all were really amazed what can be done with proper equipment and – of course – a lot of work. Marcel Lancelle and Volker Settgast were excelleent hosts and explained the whole things and virtually left no questions unanswered. Check out the photos and the videos of the trip 🙂
Blogs are buzzing and word got out that we might expect a launch of the infrared based XBox controller-free control thingy (basically a 3D camera) in Nov. 2010. 14 games using Natal are planned and a price tag of 55$ is mentioned 🙂
Second keynote for today was David Cage from Quantic Dream, which one might already know from Fahrenheit or from their title in development Heavy Rain. He made – unsurprisingly – a good chain of arguments against the mainstream game insdustry. In his opinion games are more or less build on primal emotions and feature no or only a very simplistic story. The sequence of narrative elements is constantly interrupted by action sequences, an people just play it for the action scenes …. just like a porn movie (David’s word 😉 )
He outlines a way to create games for a mature audience featuring more social and complex emotions. According to the figures he presented (which looked valid according to the studies I’ve read) 75% of the people buying games are 18+ years old, in average 35. This indicates that there actually is a mature audience. His propsed tool for this is interactive storytelling. You might now go and see a video (from E3 2009) of Heavy Rain, so I can stop writing 🙂
Byline: I found my seat beside the editor in chief of a major german game magazine, which I won’t mention but rhymes on games-car. By trying to communicate I found the complete absence of humour and small talk ability in this guy. I’m again impressed by the selectiveness of journalists towards people they don’t know.
A great talk 😉 Hilmar Petursson introduces CCP (developer and now also publisher and IP holder of Eve Online). He divides MMOs in thema parks and playgrounds, whereas WoW is the first and Eve of course is the latter. Within a playground people can make new friends compared to the theme parl easily, but the environment is more challenging and not so flashing and rewarding.
Obviously the whole Eve world is in the hand of the players, so there is minor interference by game masters etc. So compared to many other games divine intervention is reduced to a minimum. Hilmar has shown several good examples on how political and commercial alliances form and challenge each other. They even have an economic newsletter produced by an economist quarterly.
Hilmar also announced a new product, called “DUST 514”, a first person shooter integrated in and connected with the Eve Universe. It will be a console game with a lot of real time strategy. DUST mercenaries have to be contracted by Eve cooperations and will fight the infantry wars. It’s developed in Shanghai and kept secret now for three years. The trailer looks great, expect the video to be online soon.
Second talk for today for me was the “Lessons learned from social games” presented by Hugh de Loayza from Zynga Inc. He states that social games are meant for socializing, which is also the viral component. One plays, invitest friends, plays again, gets invited, … And thats different from casual gaming, which is not necessarily a social thing. Business models are mainly based on advertising or micro transactions, whereas the latter just starts in the U.S. Hugh states that this is not the end of possible models, but there will be new ones. An interesting thing he pointed out is that he came into Zynga as “the game guy” in a company full of “web 2.0 guys”, which was a clash of culture. They had to work on the integration of game mechanics and social interaction. The focus of social games is more on traffic and interactions (installs,invites, gifts, etc.) than actual game play. The benefit is that one can look at and adopt the game mechanics of other social games (so a big part of the innovation is in the interaction and socializing part). There are also some hints for first approaches:
- keep it more casual than casual (kiss),
- build viral mechanics into the game (gifting, competition, crewing like building up groups by invites, notifications, etc.),
- less game, more social,
- use ubiquitous technologies (e.g. flash, php) and
- think reach (which and how many social networks will be reached).
He also mentions how to bring a social game to market. One needs to seeds the game by
- buying installs,
- trading installs with other developers (cross promotion) or
- develop a brand, a social network within a social network based on your game.
Biggest mistakes in social games are
- licenses (people seem to be not interested),
- linking to a destination site (breaks the viral loop),
- converting existing games,
- overthinking everything (just try it!) and
- widgets (they just don’t work, e.g. they break the viral loop).
First presentation in the morning I listened to was the one from Stefan Baier and Rainer Banninga, both co-founders of Streamline Studios. They talked about how art, coding and production are interconnected and what is there approach to manage all this.
They state that it is crucial to communicate interdisciplinary and to know people personally (meet them at least one time). For the art side they point out how crucial it is to stay within limits (memory, hardware, etc.) and to allow streaming of content. Another point they make is that you have to buy in the right tools or that you afford having an in-house dev team for tools you need (e.g. a race track editor for a racing game). An interesting artist team streamline studios has is the SWAT team. That’s 2-3 people just taking care of unexpectedthings in projects like cleaning up, changing details, removing glitches, etc. Rainer Banninga stated they had no crunch time for the last 18 month, so the approach looks good 😉 Surprisingly the Stefan and Rainer elobarate the need of standardized metadata meaning keyords. That’s a good sign that industry doesn’t really know about whats going on in standardization and acadmia or the other way round that standardization and academia are not working on solutions that can be applied in industry.
Just coming out of the keynote of Matias Myllyrinne my head is still buzzing from the absolutely fabulous brand new trailer of Alan Wake (sorry folks, no spoiler allowed). He said one specifically interesting thing: everything you create should have a sense of “uniqueness” instead of “me-too”. so if there are shooters with muliplayer, why create the same? Also he elaborated the fact that many game bnames are composed of the same words like star, race, war, etc. and a sequel number like “race of war 2” 🙂
Also most interesting is, that Remedy unstands itself as Entertainment Company, not a game factory and puts an effort in creating mutlidisciplinary teams. Sounds for me a lot like there are still companies outside there who do not build their software on crunch time 😉
I just just had the chance to talk to James Cox Head of Development of Playstation Home from London Studio, SCEE. He was pointing out that developer access for teaching purposes to the Home development kit (HDK) is an issue and that there will happen something at a certain time 😉 He couldn’t tell me any details (yet), but there is definitely the idea too do that.