Earlier this year, Jonatan van Hove contacted the organization of GDC Europe to ask them if they had considered hosting an Experimental Gameplay Workshop, his favorite part of every GDC in San Francisco. They told Jonatan to organize it himself. A few weeks later, he had over 150 submissions in his mailbox, and became the host of what would be 9 short talks by creators of innovative games. Continue reading
The hardware has caught up with the ideal, but the design tenets have yet to do so. Should we look at theatre for inspiration?
After decades of not-so-stellar films and special Star Trek episodes, we appear to be catching up with our science fiction aspirations. The not-too distant release of the consumer Oculus Rift, together with the Morpheus, GameFace and various other Head Mounted Displays, means that we could well be enjoying a new paradigm of gaming within the year. However, there are as of yet very few dedicated games in development, and it won’t be a simple case of adding Rift integration to existing types of games.
New rules concerning in-app purchases take all responsibility out of consumers hands and place it firmly with developers of free-to-play games. Rightly so?
Following a ‘large number’ of complaints in EU countries concerning in-app purchases, the European Commission joined forces with national authorities and studied the free-to-play business. On July 18, they released a statement with their findings, including a number of new rules. EU Commissioner for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica calls the outcome of the study “significant for consumers”.
Like our own world, believable virtual worlds consist of millions of seemingly insignificant details. Get it right and players will call it home.
Many of us spend our free time inhabiting other worlds. We escape to outer space or fantasy realms and marvel at these constructed realities and their combat-capable natives suspiciously willing to sleep with our digital selves. We immerse ourselves in these seductive landscapes and compelling vistas and only rarely stop and appreciate the fact that these worlds were purposely built for our enjoyment by people with pencils and machines.
In a time of self-publishing and crowdfunding, a few young publishers discovered how to be relevant.
Sure, they’re still around. The old massive publishing houses that used to rule the games industry. They are still big and still a force to be reckoned with, but more and more they become a relic of days gone by. Because in an industry that is constantly changing, big isn’t necessarily a good thing. It means that it’s harder to cater to the little guy. And there are more little guys every day.
The debate on free-to-play games is the fiercest ever in the gamesindustry. Is that a problem? And why is it so hard to find common ground?
Heated debates are nothing new for the gamesindustry. For starters, there’s the ongoing discussion on whether or not games lead to real life violence, closely followed by the debate on game addiction. Participants are typically divided along the lines of industry versus non-industry. Put simpler: the gamesindustry versus the rest of the world.
Lately, a number of discussions arose within the gamesindustry. These range from a friendly professional conversation on games as a storytelling mechanism, to a much more fierce debate on inclusion and gender.
All over the world indie developers join forces to raise a fist against triple A studios and their big budget marketing campaigns.
Suppose you have a development budget worth of six months rent and a cupboard full of Cup Noodles. Once the game is done you might find it difficult, if not impossible, to actively market and promote it. All your money is invested in the game and you need cold hard cash for everything these days, right? Well… no. That’s not necessarily true.
Now that we know all the technical details of the next generation consoles, it’s time to talk about a more important issue: gameplay.
I died. Again.
It was my own fault – I chose to ignore the obvious signs. Just before I had entered the cavern, there was this red glowing message on the floor in front of me. “Beware of the trap ahead”, it read. I didn’t see one. What I did see however, was a ghost. A milky white, translucent warrior. Walking away from me before, suddenly, his body was jerked violently to the side, crumbling to the ground.
Consumers love it to pieces: Valve’s periodical sales. But what about the people actually selling the games? Control Magazine spoke with Abbey Games, the biggest surprise of the Summer Sale 2013.
A card up their sleeves
Valve’s recently introduced trading card system was incorporated into the Summer Sale, allowing players to craft a Summer Sale badge after they had unlocked sale-specific cards for discounted games, including Reus.
The trading cards are a metagame to keep players more engaged with the products available on Steam, although they are entirely optional. The cards can be traded or sold to other users, or exchanged to unlock player-profile extras like game-themed emoticons, background images or additional discounts. For Abbey Games, the trading card system required about 80 hours of work creating additional assets.
“Don’t get me wrong, this years’ Steam Summer Sale blew our minds”, recalls 25-year old creative lead Adriaan Jansen of Abbey Games. Reus, the debut title of this young Dutch indie studio sold pretty well after its release on Steam a couple of months ago, but by July the long tail had set in as sales dropped to about 300 per day.
Enter the Steam Summer Getaway Sale, which prominently featured Reus at half price. Within days, the 2D god game had sold over 120,000 units, more than all sales up until that point combined. The title’s total revenue before the Summer Sale hovered around 800,000 euros, the sale instantly added another 400,000. Not bad for a young studio of four university graduates with zero experience in running a business.
“Reus was one of ten daily featured games at the top of the storefront”, says Jansen. “We were featured in the same spot as Tomb Raider, Skyrim and BioShock Infinite, how cool is that? It’s safe to say 98 percent of our extra sales can be ascribed to that feature alone.”
Although Abbey Games didn’t turn its nose up at the extra cash involved, the team claims their decision to partake in the sale rather was motivated by long term opportunities. “The chance to connect with more players who notice and appreciate our work is most important”, says Adriaan Jansen. “Next time we release a game, people who bought Reus at a discount might remember they liked it and buy at full price.”
This morning’s Gamelab-talk by PlayStation 4 architect Mark Cerny was a parade of revelations on the development history of the new console. One of the bits Cerny disclosed was that he was not asked to become the Lead System Architect. Cerny put himself foward and Sony accepted.
Cerny is hyper intelligent and he is not afraid to share that with his audience. He tells that at the age of 16 he is already accepted as a student at the University of Berkeley “Two years younger than the average.” It turns out he finds the study boring and a year later Cerny is hired by Atari. “I was the youngest employee by far, at least five years younger than the others. Atari thought it was cool to have a child prodigy programmer working for them.”
Cerny gets away with patting himself on the back because he tells the story in the same businesslike fashion as the rest of his presentation — he kind of resembles Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. He talks about his adventures at SEGA, where he works on the first Sonic and becomes fluent in Japanese. Then about the time he spends at Crystal Dynamics as a Graphics Engine Developer and about his adventures at Universal Interactive Studios, where he gets promoted to President and scouts studios like Naughty Dog an Insomniac.
It is his friend Shuhei Yoshida, the current President of Sony Worldwide Studios, who convinces Cerny to leave Universal so he can get involved with the PlayStation 2 — the console that Sony is working on at that time. Cerny develops the first engines for the console and discovers the immense complexity of the Emotion Engine, the core of the PS2.