Developer and founder of GDC Chris Crawford has been reminiscing on the old days of our beloved industry, looking back to the very first computers and how games have evolved over time. Has much changed? “What the player does has not changed in 30 years,” he said. Read on for more details.
Whilst things have not changed for the player, being a developer certainly has. “Back then to be a game programmer, you had to be a hero,” said Crawford. “You had to do everything! People in the game industry were basically working alone. We didn’t know each other.” This sense of isolation from the rest of the developer community convinced Crawford to establish GDC in 1988. “And it seems as though I’ve succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, because you are certainly not alone right now!” he joked.
“There was a lot of crap back then. Really bad games, but there was also a lot of diversity,” he said. Comparing them to modern titles, Crawford notes a distinct lack of variety in today’s games. “When you’re putting millions of dollars into a game, you can’t afford to be too creative.”
Crawford reminded his audience of his first law of software development: “Whenever you sit down to design a game, throughout the entire process, you must repeatedly ask yourself ‘What does the user do?’” He pointed out that since gamers play, rather than watch or listen, that the ‘doing’ is the most important aspect.
Crawford drew comparisons between old and new titles, noting that the core mechanics of platformers, shooters, and strategy games haven’t changed much. “What the player does has not changed in 30 years,” he said. “I want to be very careful here. I’m not saying that modern games are no better than ancient games,” he added.
Go to Source (PC Gamer)
At this point, Halfbrick’s gotta be in talks for a major motion picture deal, action figures, a television show, lunchboxes — all of it. To say Fruit Ninja is a “success” is an understatement:
Halfbrick’s Phil Larsen revealed to us during GDC that the game has reached a ridiculous 20 million downloads across all platforms, including iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch), Android and Windows Phone 7. The figure includes downloads of the free “lite” versions, but Larsen reminded us that the paid iPhone app has been purchased by 6 million players, accounting for a huge bushel of the total downloads.
So, where does the game go from here? Well, disregarding the aforementioned move and action figures, might we suggest making a Facebook game? Oh, right.
Packed with performance upgrades and a very cool exclusive livery inspired by NFS Underground 2, this car is bound to take you back to the NFS roots. You can purchase this car for 3,000 SpeedBoost from either the in-game Store or from the Webstore here.
But that’s not all, we’ve also made the Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec (R34) available to purchase with in-game cash. The Skyline R34 is a classic among the tuner community, so much so that it was the cover car for the original Need for Speed Underground. It is available for purchase from the in-game Car Dealer.
Go to Source (NeedForSpeed.com)
When Ubisoft first revealed Call of Juarez: The Cartel, fans of the series were confused. What does a game set in modern day L.A. have to do with the franchise’s Western theme? Recently, the publisher revealed some new information that explains the dramatic setting shift.
The Cartel tells the story of a ruthless drug cartel’s war against the American government in modern times. After the cartel bombs a U.S. law enforcement agency, the government creates a task force to stop the drug runners. Ubisoft has revealed the task force’s three key characters:
- Kim Evans: a “gang-affiliated street kid-turned-FBI agent.”
- Eddie Guerra: a “DEA agent with a chronic gambling habit.”
- Ben McCall: a “brutal LAPD detective” and descendant of the first Call of Juarez’s Ray McCall.
It’s up to these three characters to hunt down and stop the cartel’s kingpin. Over the course of the game players will travel through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Juarez, Mexico. Not only can you choose to be any of the three characters during the campaign (each character will have a unique story and ending), but there will also be an online three player co-op mode will have you and two friends controlling the trio together.
Ubisoft is promising a wide variety of mission types, including undercover missions and car chases, while keeping the “unique themes of the Wild West intact.” How developer Techland plans to accomplish this is anybody’s guess, but Ubisoft tells us that it will be revealing more details about the game soon, including “a twist on the three-player co-op storyline.” Until then, check out the announcement trailer and concept art below.
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Go to Source (Game Informer)
Call of Juarez The Cartel introduces gamers to the new Wild West as they fight to bring down a violent drug cartel.
Massively Speaking Episode 138 returns today with the second installment of our daily GDC 2011 updates. Shawn and Rubi run through their day 3 interviews and appointments, including their impressions of what they saw along the way. Plus, firetrucks are loud.
Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We may just read your email on the air!
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Read below the cut for the full show notes.
Massively Speaking is the official podcast of Massively.com. Hosted by Editor-in-Chief Shawn Schuster and Community Manager Rubi Bayer, Massively Speaking takes on the week’s biggest news and dev interviews with plenty of opinion, rants, and laughs thrown in for good measure. Join us every Wednesday afternoon to listen in and see what we’ll say next!
The PixelJunk series started off with Racers on PSN that eventually spun off into multiple genres such as tower defense and even shooters, with the most recent downloadable release being PixelJunk Shooter 2. Now with PixelJunk Shooter 2 available for download, we caught up with Q-Games producer Ariel Angelotti at GDC in San Francisco who came all the way from the developer’s studio in Japan to discuss the past, present, and future of the PixelJunk franchise.
Establishing the PixelJunk name
Dylan [Cuthbert, Q-Games founder] had this idea that the name would become the brand to tie in all of these games because they’re very different games if you look at the whole series. They focus on different kinds of genres. It was just a way to drive everything together and say “we are the same people making all of these games.” Even if they’re not necessarily tied in – same characters, same artistic style, even same genre – I think there is something very special about every game in the PixelJunk series that makes it a creative, unique experience, and is just a way to tie everything in so they have a common thread going throughout.
Success of the franchise
We have a unique look. You don’t need to be a full AAA title like Killzone 3 or like the latest Halo to have really kick a** graphics. It looks really pretty and I think it pulls you in even though it’s 2D. The artistic style is something. I also do think it’s because it’s easy to pick up and play, and that can pull in gamers that haven’t really played games before. I’m very into the fan community – I do a lot of community management with my job – and I get tons of letters talking about “my entire family loves PixelJunk Monsters or PixelJunk Shooter and they can’t wait for the next game!” It’s so good to hear that from people because maybe you have someone who is introducing their wife to the game, and maybe they’re hardcore, but the wife isn’t, and get drawn into it.
Fan favorites and the future of PixelJunk
Our fan favorite is Monsters. I can’t talk about what we have in the future, but it depends on fan response. We also have PixelJunk Lifelike in the works. It’s a music visualizer game and it’s really exciting. Unfortunately we can’t go into details…
Go to Source (Game Informer)
Jake Gaskill is currently playing inFamous 2 at GDC right this very second, which makes us all jealous of him. But more exciting than that is the announcement th …
Go to Source (G4TV.com)
Infamous 2 has something else to add to its ever growing list of cool stuff it does: a mission creation mode. Yes, Infamous 2 is entering the world of Play, Create, Share to become the first action adventure game on the PS3 to allow gamers to create their own missions albeit with a slightly limited toolset. Gamers won’t be able to unleash their full creative juices as the mission creation mode in Infamous 2 will solely be limited to creating mission scenarios and not altering the world itself by adding huge pieces of geometry like creating new buildings or changing the landscape
read more (Shogun Gamer)
It must be hard to be a Guardsman. You’re standing around staring at an uncaptured control point and a box full of something called Requisition, and suddenly an Ork appears three inches from your face. His name is Spookums, he is wearing a pirate hat, and now he has exploded. You’re killed instantly – that’s one of the worst parts of the job – but Spookums is merely flung by his own explosion into a bush.
Luckily, Dawn of War 2: Retribution lets you be the Ork.
If you’d asked me before I played it, I would have told you Retribution was all about making Dawn of War 2 closer to a proper strategy game. It’s standalone, and where Dawn of War 2 was all about micromanaging just a handful of units, Retribution allows you to build up your force from the headquarters you capture midbattle. In theory, the big change is that you’re now commanding an army instead of leading a squad.
As it turns out, that’s not at all what Retribution is about. And thank God. You can build up an army, certainly, but almost every unit in it would have several manually activated abilities to deal with. Quickly and accurately ordering that number of units to use cover and activate their abilities is the kind of manual and mental torture test you could use to find out if you have a heart condition. Dawn of War’s interface, zoom level and controls just weren’t built for battles of that scale.
Yet Retribution is startlingly good – it’s the best Warhammer 40K game I’ve ever played. Because it’s not really about numbers, it’s about diversity. If you played Dawn of War 2 and its first expansion Chaos Rising, you’ve spent upwards of 30 hours controlling some combination of the same seven units. Retribution lets you choose between six different factions, with a total of around 70 squads, vehicles and heroes to play with. It’s a massive breath of fresh air.
Joy of six
There are six campaigns of around eight hours each, all playable in singleplayer or co-op. One of the six races is largely new to the game, the Imperial Guard, and they’re also playable in competitive multiplayer. Then there’s a new map and a new hero for Last Stand, the superb three-player cooperative survival mode Relic added to Dawn of War 2 in a free update. And if you’re interested in any of these ways to play it online, there’s the enormously welcome news that it now uses Steam for matchmaking and friends lists, instead of the horrific Games for Windows Live.
Frankly, the last time anyone went this nuts with an expansion was, well, Relic – with Dawn of War: Dark Crusade.
These aren’t six completely unique campaigns, admittedly. Play two and you’ll find they have about ten of their twelve missions in common, just slightly repurposed to fit a different plot. That only really hurts the early missions: the first three are overly long and overly scripted tutorials, and replaying them as each new race gets painful.
But once you do fight through them, you have enough experience points to start customising your heroes, and that’s where Retribution suddenly turns around.
Dawn of War 2 was one great fight, repeated. You set up your heavy weapons in cover, snuck your scout in to snipe a prime target, tanked them with your commander, and jumpjetted your assault guys onto the enemy’s strongest shooters. It was satisfying, but by and large it was the same every time. It was often the same map every time.
Retribution comes up with five new formulae, composed of the same basic elements of stealth, suppression, jumps, melee and damage types. Formulae that evolve as you decide how to upgrade each hero, what you equip them with, and how you want to use them.
It’s still tactical and manually intensive – you need to move each hero individually and activate the right abilities just when you need them, preferably with hotkeys. You can bench heroes in return for a free squad or vehicle and an increased army size limit in the field. But for most races, each hero plays such an important role that it’s hard to see why anyone would.
So for the most part, you slip into playing Retribution much as you did Dawn of War 2: four heroes, each with special abilities that mix with each other in excitingly brutal ways. I added a few heavy weapons squads to support my biggest gunner, and the occasional vehicle when I could afford it, then spent the rest of my money on upgrading and reviving my heroes.
I mentioned the Orks earlier: as well as the commando/commander switcheroo (where Spookums can swap positions with Bludflagg), their ranged specialist Nailbrain is ridiculous. He can teleport into battle, and one of his perks causes him to explode every time he does anything. So when he teleports, he also explodes, flooring everyone. He can then turn on his force field so that incoming damage will drain energy rather than health when everyone gets back up. This causes him to explode. Damage taken to his forcefield also charges his static blast, an ability that causes him to explode. And since it is an ability, it also causes him to explode. In addition to the explosion.
That part of the Ork’s combat formula is a result of the way I’d specced my Nailbrain. Each hero of each race has three stats: health, damage and energy. Those can be upgraded from zero to five, and almost every upgrade comes with some ability or perk that changes the way the hero works. The static explosion is a perk for upgrading Nailbrain’s damage to level 3.
I was rude about Guardsmen earlier, and I will be rude about the rest of the Imperial Guard later, but for what it’s worth they do have a formula of their own. The Lord General is a terribly British chap who can call in free reinforcements for squads who’ve lost men. The Commissar is a more sinister officer who can spur a squad to fight harder by shooting one of them – not that the Imperial Guard need any help getting themselves killed.
I like to have my Commissar use Execute on a Stormtrooper to kickstart that squad’s damage output, then cast Draw Their Fire on my General, forcing enemies to attack him instead. The behatted Inquisitor can then cast a protective shield on the General so he survives the onslaught. And after the fight, he can have a new stormtrooper dropped off to make up their numbers so we can do it all again. They’re not going to make the Fortune 100 for best places to work, but it’s satisfyingly effective.
In fact, a sadistic number of the Commissar’s upgrades revolve around his Execute ability, including a perk which lets you use it on enemy squads to demoralise them. Nice, but at that point aren’t you just shooting the enemy? Is that really something that needs to be unlocked?
Heroes of chaos
The units, heroes and abilities of the Chaos faction are split between three of their four gods. The god of destruction is represented by a heavy weapons marine, the god of magic and change has a chaos sorcerer on the team, and the god of disease gets a brilliant muckspreading Plague Marine as his representative.
Kinky porno-god Slaanesh doesn’t get a hero – he’s always been the black sheep even in a family of pitchblack bloodgargling daemon deathsheep who burn in perpetual agony with the searing fires of the warp. Instead, your commander is a Chaos Champion who can choose his allegiance: each branch of his level-up tree serves a different Chaos God. I levelled up his health, enabling him to channel disease-god Nurgle in what is presumably Relic’s idea of irony.
As well as the usual tanking abilities, this changes the way your Chaos Cultists minions work. With Nurgle, they can worship on the battlefield to heal nearby Chaos units, and even build shrines that can then summon reinforcements from the warp. If I’d leant towards Khorne, shrines would periodically spew out daemons, while Tzeentch shrines cloak your units and fire doombolts at enemies.
But the highlight of the Chaos roster is the Plague Marine. He can spread a disease that heals Chaos units and rots enemies, and even ‘detonate’ the infection to wipe out a whole squad in an instant – or bring a pestilent friend back from the brink of death. A whole set of late-tier abilities cause the enemies he kills to come back as Nurgly diseasezombies. One of the most beautiful sights in the game is this guy squirting his horrible plague spreader into a fortified bunker, corpses falling out of the windows, then getting back up again and joining in the siege as zombies.
There are so many wonky and exotic options in the new races that it’s hard to imagine someone picking the Space Marines. But that campaign is kept relatively fresh in a clever way. Rather than bringing back the increasingly corrupt band of increasingly crazy brothers we’ve been playing in the last two games, we get a new team with only one familiar face. Their commander is similar and their scout is the same, but they now have a Tech Marine hero who’s all about deployables. And their fourth member, called simply The Ancient, can be specced to play any of three heroes’ roles you fancy: heavy weapons if you level up his damage, jumpjet assault if you level up his energy, or tactical tank if you level up his health. It’s a smart way of saying “Who did you like in the last game?”
Surprisingly, the weakest campaign is for the most potentially interesting race: the Tyranids. They only get one hero, who can summon a few free units on the field without the need of a base. But the limiting factor on your army is almost never the expense, it’s your population capacity. Summoned units consume that just as much as the ones you requisition at a beacon, so that whole set of abilities is effectively moot.
Without three other heroes to level up, there are few interesting interactions between Tyranid units. You don’t have the dopamine drip of constantly unlocking exciting upgrades, and there are no tough decisions to make between missions. Loot is rare and poorly judged – almost everything I found required a minimum level I wouldn’t reach until four or five missions later. Even the units seem poorly judged: I never found any combination as effective as massing the low-level Tyranid Warriors – tough, fast, cheap, and good against everything. They render the whole campaign easy, even on Hard.
The other bum note is the Imperial Guard campaign. They have some fun abilities, as mentioned, and it’s still worth playing if you’re after a challenge. But it’s a challenge not because the missions are harder, but because the race is a walking catalogue of inadequacies. The tactics that work – such as using your fragile melee units to bait enemies into large groups of heavy weapon emplacements – are the tactics that work for every race. The Imperial Guard’s twist is that they don’t have anything else.
Still, four great campaigns is impressive – it’s three better than Chaos Rising managed. And as usual, they can all be played with two players. That’s the other time requisitioning extra units in the field feels useful: controlling only two heroes each, you have the control bandwidth to take on a few more squads and use them well.
When Dan Stapleton and I played the Chaos campaign together, I tried benching my Sorcerer and taking the Dreadnought instead. It was fun to be able to requisition some cultists to follow it around and repair it, and easy to manage. Resources are shared, so generally you’ll check with each other before buying anything. It makes the individual missions more fun, particularly on harder difficulties. The only drawback is that however many units you build in the field, each of you only has two heroes to level up, so there are fewer interesting long-term decisions to make about kit and abilities.
The adversarial multiplayer is mostly unchanged, except for the addition of the Imperial Guard to the playable race roster. They’re a fine faction for it, since their vehicles are easier to come by than in singleplayer, but the design of the mode itself is still completely unsatisfying.
It has almost nothing to do with actually killing your enemy’s forces – any squad in jeopardy can flee at ridiculous speed to their headquarters to heal. In Victory Point mode, it’s just a game of weaponised musical chairs over three control points, and an early lead almost always means victory. Once you’re ahead, you only have to hold one control point to win, while your enemy has to take that from you while holding both of the other two.
Annihilation mode is better – you have to destroy each other’s bases – but it just takes hours to get the huge economic and military advantage you need to overcome the powerful home advantage a player has at his base. Most games drag out in an interminable stalemate.
Last Stand was always more successful: three of you control one hero each and slay waves of incoming enemies until you die – and level up. The new hero, the Imperial Guard’s Lord General, starts weak but suddenly becomes fun once he unlocks the ability to deploy turrets – the best of which is vast and absurd. The new map, bringing the total to two, is absurd in the other direction: frantic, desperate and brutal from the very first wave. Both additions work primarily because the mode itself is so smartly designed and endlessly replayable.
Dawn of War 2: Retribution is such a beast of an expansion that there’s room for some of its elements to fail without adversely affecting the ones that work – those being the four great campaigns, whether you play them alone or with a friend. For those alone, this is an essential purchase for anyone who enjoyed Dawn of War 2’s tightly focused tactical scraps – even if they were sick of them by the end. It’s a complete revitalisation of that format, and more fun than Dawn of War 2 ever was. Just don’t go in expecting a game that’s slickly designed for large scale conflicts, because that’s not where Retribution shines.
Go to Source (PC Gamer)
Before presenting the latest milestone in the development of InFamous 2 at GDC today, Sucker Punch Productions development director Chris Zimmerman told his captive audience, “What we saw as the biggest problem with InFamous was that, at some point, it ended.” That won’t be an issue in this sequel, thanks to user-generated content.
Zimmerman says that the developer has planned to integrate user-created missions from the outset, keeping the feature secret for two years. “That’s hard to do,” he said with laugh.
Players will have access to “All of the good guys, all of the bad guys, all of the props that we built for the game — vehicles, weapons and other stuff — and then a whole bunch of special stuff we built just for making user-generated content,” he confirmed. “
We figured we’d throw that all out there and let people create, because we think there are lots of people out there that dream of being a game designer, and this is our opportunity to give them the opportunity to share what they can do. To take all of this content we’ve built over the past two years and putting it together to make something we never thought possible.”
Gallery: Infamous 2 (GDC 2011)
FIA GT Champion of 2000, Jamie Campbell-Walter is your main rival in the FIA GT1 championship series in SHIFT 2 Unleashed. He made his debut in the Formula Vauxhall Junior Winter Series in 1993, taking second place in the championship. Since his debut Jamie has had a very impressive career in the TVR Tuscan Challenge, British GT Championship and the FIA GT Championship.
He will be driving the SUMO POWER Nissan GT-R GT1 and he will be driving it well. He’s got a standing offer that if anyone can knock him into second place, they deserve to win the GT-R.
Go to Source (NeedForSpeed.com)
Taking a page from its PlayStation 3 brethren LittleBigPlanet, Sucker Punch announced today that Infamous 2 will feature user-generated missions.
The surprising new feature will allow users to create missions for Infamous 2, drawing from a broad range of genres – defense, escort, search and destroy, survival, shooting gallery, platforming, obstacle courses, puzzles, and more.
The city of New Marais will be seamlessly populated with both officially developed missions and user-created missions, allowing you to continue experiencing fresh content even after you’ve completed the primary campaign. Unique colors will differentiate official and unofficial content, and filters will let you choose the type of games you want to play by genre, ranking, and so on.
Those interested in developing their own missions will have the ability to draw from the same pool of assets and behaviors used by Sucker Punch. Aspiring designers have the option of creating a missions from scratch or remixing an existing level by dragging and dropping items and determining the behaviors of NPCs.
Creating missions in Infamous 2 provides players a chance to become famous themselves. The higher quality the mission the better chance it will be showcased through a system of user rankings. The “Famous” tier is where most successful mission designers will land, with the elite being selected for the highest tier – Sucker Punch Featured Content. These are the missions that will default to everyone’s world by default.
In order to ensure a smooth release, a public beta is slated for early April. Details on how to participate will be provided March 14. The best missions from this beta will be chosen as Sucker Punch Featured Content and populate to the world when the game ships.
We’re about to get our hands on four missions designed to showcase the newly unveiled user-generated content, and will update accordingly with impressions.
Update: We’ve put four short missions through their paces to see what Infamous 2’s user-generated content has to offer. The first mission – Save The Cathedral – tasked Cole with escorting a group of allies through a slew of hostiles in order to disarm a bomb. The second mission felt similar to a tower defense game, with Cole perched on a bridge attempting to halt waves of enemies before they could break through defenses below.
The third mission harkened to a shooting gallery, with Cole picking up explosive barrels and tossing them at foes positioned throughout the environment. The last of the missions featured a race against time through a series of rings.
All of the missions were designed to showcase the newly announced feature in a short span of time, so none of them clocked in at more than two minutes. That being said, Sucker Punch representatives made clear that missions can be as long or as short as the designer desires, the only real consideration being to ensure the attention of the player is maintained in order to nab a high ranking.
There also appears to be some sort of XP system that stems from playing user-generated missions, but Sony wasn’t able to comment on specifics or how it would feed back into the core game.
Go to Source (Game Informer)
The developers of Project Vanishing Point, a dystopian future mod for HalfLife 2, have announced they will be releasing their first trailer featuring…
Go to Source (Planet Half-Life)
Defiants harness the power of the planes to fuel magical technologies to defend Telara, take a look at the races and some customization options you will have if you choose to create a Bahmi, Kelari, or an Eth.
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