Posts Tagged ‘GDC’

The game industry needs to change and it begins now

gameworkersunitelogo

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Steve Kaplan was in GDC to take part in a roundtable discussion about the pros and cons of unionisation in the games industry. He works in the entertainment industry and had travelled from Los Angeles, where he organises unions for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, to be the union rep in the room during the talk. He gave the impression he wanted everyone to be at the table, even the one person in a room of between 150 and 200 people who tried to put across anti-union arguments.

The room was noisy, with applause, appreciative clicking of fingers, and some mocking laughter alongside the occasional raised voice, but the corridor outside had been quiet. The roundtable was removed from the expo’s usual bustle but it was one of the most important events of the show.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning the ancient language of Heaven’s Vault

heavens-vault-4

“That’s the Ancient word for ‘writer’,” says Jon Ingold, pointing to some indecipherable symbols on his business card. “What it breaks down to is ‘Person-who-speaks-without-speaking.’”

Ingold is the writer for Heaven’s Vault, an upcoming sci-fi adventure from Inkle (the folks behind 80 Days and Sorcery!) You play an archaeologist investigating the remains of an ancient civilisation in an otherworldly “Nebula”. He and some others from Inkle Studios have been watching me waddle around a garden of strange monuments, trying to discern meaning from the faded words I find carved into trees, walls, rocks and reliefs. In creating this game, they’ve constructed a fictional language of over 1000 words. They’re so proud of this new language, they’ve even used it on their business cards.

Ingold examines a card from Joseph Humfrey, the studio’s co-founder and programmer who is sitting nearby. He thumbs over the pseudo-ancient script.

“Joe’s means: ‘Person-who-controls-robots’.” Read the rest of this entry »

The battle royale of Mavericks is stalking a big game

mavericks-proving-grounds-int-2

A man in black scrambles through the overgrowth, looking lost. So I shoot him. Puffs of bloody air erupt from his body, but he runs on. Behind him something explodes from a stray bullet – my bulet or somebody else’s? I don’t know. But the man in black keeps moving, dodging behind some trees, over a ridge. Behind me, a wall of wobbly energy closes in. I give chase to the man in black, and we come face to face in a dirt glade with a tall, odd structure that might be a radio tower. I lift my MP5 submachine gun and mow him down. Soon afterwards, the game ends. I’ve won. I won’t claim my performance in the upcoming 400-person battle royale game Mavericks: Proving Grounds was a heroic victory. Because there were only 5 people playing. It also lasted less than 5 minutes, and the man in black was the lead devleoper. He definitely let me win. Read the rest of this entry »

Bad North and the golden age of micro-tactics

badnorthheader

Into the Breach is one of the most perfect games I’ve ever played. It’s tactical warfare with every sliver of fat trimmed away and I’d put it up there with Chess and Invisible, Inc. in the pantheon of turn-based games.

Bad North will not be entering that pantheon. Not because it doesn’t seem capable of reaching lofty heights – it absolutely does – but because its own take on micro-tactics takes place in real-time. It’s a game of positional play, providing a handful of units and gorgeous, tiny, procedural islands to defend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hands On: Gonner Is A Superb, Stylish Action Game

They had to drag me away from Gonner [official site] in the end. Well, truth be told, they were far too polite to drag me away but they came close to turning out the lights.

‘They’ are two members of Art in Heart, creators of the game, and half of Raw Fury, a new publisher made up of industry veterans. I was playing the game in a rented loft near the heart of GDC in San Francisco and I thought then – and maintain now – that it was the best pure action game I saw at the show.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wadjet Eye Interview: Urban Fantasy Adventure Unavowed Returns To World Of Blackwell Series

Part RPG, part adventure game, Unavowed is the next project from Wadjet Eye Games founder Dave Gilbert and even though it features entirely new characters, it takes place in the same world as the wonderful Blackwell series. I met with Gilbert at GDC and he explained the game’s origins and intricacies, as well as talking about his love of urban fantasy, and his development as a game designer and storyteller.

Read the rest of this entry »

Earthlight: How Devs Are Working With NASA To Create A Virtual International Space Station

As I try to detach a pipe on the virtual International Space Station, which I’ve been scrambling across, I’m suddenly thrown backwards into space. I don’t flinch but apparently most people who play the Earthlight [official site] demo do – it then makes sense to me why one of the team had offered to take pictures of me playing. Earthlight is a virtual reality experience which is aiming to recreate experiences aboard the International Space Station, which sits in low Earth orbit and acts as a research laboratory. The developers are working in collaboration with NASA to shape the experience.

I am flagging up the fact I was unfazed by being thrown off into space in case anyone from NASA is reading this and wants to recruit me as a cool astronaut space reporter, but while I still have a terrestrial job I should probably tell you about Earthlight and the conversation I had with its creative lead, Emre Deniz.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pool Nation Is The Perfect VR Litmus Test

I’ve deflected blaster shots using a lightsaber, standing in the shadow of the Millennium Falcon, fought off shambling horrors in the ruins of a city at night, and constructed fantastic contraptions, suspended on a grassy plain in a bright and breezy abstract world. No attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion yet, but VR has taken me to some wild and wonderful places.

And yet, the game that convinced me of the immersive qualities of the Vive’s roomscale and touch technology dropped me into a pub, in front of a pool table. Pool Nation, in replicating an experience that I’m familiar with, came closest to fooling my senses completely.

Read the rest of this entry »

System Shock Meets Open World Survival: P.A.M.E.L.A.

P.A.M.E.L.A. [official site] was one of the most exciting games I saw at GDC last week. I watched around twenty minutes of live play, showing off the construction of a safe haven as night fell on the beautifully rendered sci-fi city in which the game’s particular brand of survival horror takes place. It’s an open world game, but it isn’t quite like anything else in the genre. This is a claustrophobic open world and the game in question is an intelligent and bold exploration of the core concepts found in System Shock and Bioshock. Hell, if this were carrying the title System Shock 3, I’d be delighted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hands On: The Lab, Valve’s Portal-Themed VR Games

Our Vive hands-on experience with The Lab took place in Valve’s GDC booth. Actually, ‘booth’ isn’t the right word at all. Valve had transformed a large chunk of the Moscone North hall into a suite of sleek, white virtual reality chambers. The setting itself is a statement of intent, clean and minimalist in comparison to the usual attention-grabbing showfloor stalls, and quietly but efficiently guarded. As Pip and I sat in the waiting area on the final day of the show, the ‘Demos Full’ sign out front had two stickynotes attached: “No, really.” “Really, really, really.”

We were there to see The Lab, which I understood to be a Portal-themed collection of minigames (I suspect you’ll be reading about a lot of minigames in these early stages of VR). They turned out to be four small demos that took us back to the world of Portal and explored the possibilities of the Vive’s virtual spaces and impressive motion controls.

Read the rest of this entry »

Her Story Wins Big At IGF Awards

The 18th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards have just wrapped up, with the 16th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards to follow shortly. I was at the ceremony, which took place in a preposterously large ballroom within the conference centre in San Francisco. You can find a full list of the winners, nominees and my thoughts on the outcome below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Watch This, Please: GDC’s #1ReasonToBe Panel

Here at RPS, we are not shy about our support for gender equality in the gaming industry, both in terms of the representation in the games we play and at the various companies that make them. It’s a tremendously important matter from just about every standpoint imaginable, from so-called “practicality” (read: business) to common human decency. Nothing, however, beats a firsthand account of the problem at hand – not even a cheeky gallery of StarCraft II’s most cheek-ridden bits. And so, I highly, highly, highly recommend GDC’s absolutely excellent #1ReasonToBe panel. You can now view the entire thing online for free, and even in itsy bitsy box-shaped form, it’s a truly moving, important thing. The experiences Brenda Romero, Robin Hunicke, Leigh Alexander, and co outline – alienation, sadness, rage, doubt, loneliness, discomfort, fear – are why equality matters, and their continued love of gaming becomes all the more powerful in light of that. This is, in my opinion, required viewing. I very much hope you’ll agree.

Read the rest of this entry »

IGF Winners: The Habitual Voyeur Of What Is Known As…

….Cart Life, which scooped up an an impressive triple-whammy of Nuovo Award, Excellence in Narrative and the coveted Seamus McNally Grand Prize at last night’s Independent Games Festival 2013 awards. The warmest of all congratulations to Richard Hofmeier, whose affecting, brave game is well overdue for this kind of attention.
Read the rest of this entry »

IGF Awards Change Rules, Still Ignore Writing

Scenes at the IGF offices earlier today.

2012’s IGF Awards caused not a small amount of consternation behind the scenes. A good deal of this was bad sportsmanship, with developers claiming it was rigged against them in various ways that it absolutely was not. But other issues like games that had already won being re-entered did become a more serious issue. However, even before this year’s awards, IGF bossman Brandon Boyer has said that this shall no longer be allowed, with any finalists disqualified for another go. And he scraps the mobile category. And yet, even now, still bloody well ignores writing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Not Forgotten: Bioware On Baldur’s Gate

Hello! I’m currently out at GDC Europe, skipping around businessy talks to cover for my day job, but I ended up sat in on BIoware’s laidback and fascinating retrospective on the making of their breakthrough game, Baldur’s Gate. It’s a landmark title, and fascinatingly critical to what modern RPGs and MMOs are, but one we’ve surprisingly not talked about much on RPS. Thanks to my magic (and now rather broken) hands of transcripting +1, let’s change that…
Read the rest of this entry »

Spectators To Spectate Spector’s Speculation

Don’t tell anyone, but the real reason I wrote this story was purely so I could use that headline.

Yes, King Of Immersive Sims Warren Spector is to hold a keynote speech at GDC later this month. I’ll be in the crowd, which’ll be exciting. Maybe not as exciting as when I had a wee next to him at E3 once, though. Obviously Warren has broken our fragile little hearts and gone on to make some Mickey Mouse platformer for the Wii, but the theme of his speech is something we’re all likely to thrill to/howl at.
Read the rest of this entry »

John Carmack Gets Life

A Lifetime Achievement award, that is! Just my little joke there. Sorry. You hate me now, don’t you? It’s late and the punning part of my brain has been asleep for hours.

Yes, the idmeister general is be honored with said accolade at the upcoming Game Developers Choice Awards (I swear that should have an apostrophe somewhere), for his “his contributions to the art and science of games”. Which is a rather lovely way of putting it, to my mind. He follows in the gong-grabbing footprints of Will Wright, Sid Meier and that Mario bloke, and can bask in the warm glow of knowing a panel of his esteemed peers – from the likes of Bioware, DICE and Popcap – nominated him for it. Well done, big John. Now go and make sure Rage is brilliant, please.

Details of the award and a spot of Carmackian backstory below…
Read the rest of this entry »

IGF Student Showcase Winners Announced

Always reminds me of a young Chris Morris.

The 190 student entries to the IGF awards have been whittled down to the finalists. Or the “winners” as the IGF rather sweetly calls them, before later telling all but one of them that in fact they weren’t quite as winnery as the one that gets the IGF Student Showcase Award. The list and links are below. Congrats to all.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Game Journalism: GDC The Text Adventure

I do like that pixel art.

This is really neat. Picked up from Indie Games. They had Jim Munroe go to GDC with a press-pass and write up his experiences in the form of a text adventure. It’s actually more of a text-based game than a text adventure (i.e. you shouldn’t be having any problems with the parser as long as you REMEMBER the instructions at the start), and actually somewhat splendid. You can play it online in Java here, for the java-hating here and for those who use an IF interpreter, its actual code is here. And some more explanation follows…
Read the rest of this entry »

OnLive: The End Of Games Platforms?


At the last GDC the industry big brains were sat around telling us how games would one day be remotely rendered on big computing clusters and then streamed to our TVs. The big unveil at this year’s GDC has proved them to be correct. Maybe. OnLive is a service on which you use superfast broadband (1.5mbps minimum) to play games on a remote server. You just plug it in to any “entry level” PC or Mac, or hook it up to your TV, and play. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the latest 3D card: because the remote server does the rendering and streams the result to you. That’s the theory anyway, and it’s a theory a bunch of big name publishers have signed up to. Watch the OnLive spokesman Steve Perlman make his big claims after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »