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Archive For October, 2010

2010 GDC China Adds Happy Farm, Bigpoint, League Of Legends Talks

October 26, 2010 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

This December's Game Developers Conference China is debuting further new Chinese and Western speakers for its December 5th-7th Shanghai event, including major talks from Happy Farm's creators, Riot Games (League Of Legends) and German browser game giant Bigpoint.

These announcements, with all talks simultaneously translated between English and Chinese languages, add to multiple high-profile speakers already confirmed for the event. GDC China is run by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website, and takes place at the Shanghai International Convention Center.

Some of the the newly announced speakers include the following:

- In 'League Of Legends Postmortem: One Year Later', Riot Games president Marc Merrill will look back at the last year of live operation on the popular multiplayer online battle-arena title, recently the winner of multiple awards at the Game Developers Choice Online Awards in Austin.

Merrill will discuss "lessons learned and some key factors for developing, launching and supporting a core game that is operated as a live service", including surprises and challenges the team faced, spanning strategies to optimize the live feedback loop, key roles and live team structure.

- Presenting 'Philosophies and Principles of Creating Social Games for Everyone' is Shaofei Gao, CEO and co-founder of Five Minutes Inc., the noted social game developer and maker of Happy Farm (pictured), which launched in 2008 in Asia -- predating Zynga's famous Western social network game hit FarmVille.

Media Molecule's Alex Evans Talks About The 'Chisels Of The Video Game Industry' At Bafta

October 26, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Alex Evans, co-founder and technical director of LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule, recently delivered a talk at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' (BAFTA) Video Games Lecture 2010, talking more about the tools and process behind developing LittleBigPlanet than the actual game.

BAFTA has posted a video from the session, which is interspersed with clips recorded in a separate interview, online. Along with talking about his introduction to the game industry, Evans discusses the need for major publishers to take inspiration from indies, the value of failing quickly, and the "chisels of the video game industry".

"One of the great things about this lecture is very often when I talk to people ... we talk about [LittleBigPlanet], and we very rarely get a chance to talk about how it was made," says Evans. "And after all, a user-generated content game like LittleBigPlanet is all about the tools.

He adds, "I can't stress enough, the games that you play -- Red Dead Redemption, LittleBigPlanet, KillZone, any game -- that game is the way it is as much because of how it was made than the particular designer.

"Games are not made because there's a script or a design. Very rarely are they made because some person turns up, 'This is the game I'm gonna make", and three years later, out it pops.' It's actually a completely different process."

You can watch Alex Evans' presentation at BAFTA's Video Games Lecture 2010 here.

Game Developer Reveals Its '20 Companies To Watch' For 2010-2011

October 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

GSW sister publication Game Developer magazine has announced twenty 'companies to watch' for 2010-2011 in its recently debuted October 2010 issue, and we're reprinting them here with highlights from each profile.

The feature, run for the first time in the October 2010 issue of the leading worldwide magazine for video game creators, highlights companies -- and sometimes elements within those companies -- that have demonstrated great leadership or creative potential in the industry.

Along the way, Game Developer's editors select which organizations, from massive platform companies through smaller independent game developers, will likely have a significant impact on the evolution of games as an entertainment medium.

Below is a list of the companies honored in the feature, and the complete article can be found in the October 2010 issue of Game Developer Magazine, also featuring a Final Fantasy XIII postmortem (pictured), and now available via subscription or digital purchase:

- CCP Games: CCP has remained "uncompromisingly committed" to its unforgiving, yet successful MMO EVE Online, making the company stand out in a market that is swarming with casual, free-to-play titles.

- Nintendo for the 3DS: Nintendo's upcoming 3DS hardware could present interesting possibilities in the handheld market, and is certainly a "bold and expensive" move for the industry giant.

Dyad: Racing/Shooter/Puzzle Hybrid With 'Thought-Based Metagame'

October 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I'm not quite sure what's going on in this Dyad trailer, but indie developers Shawn McGrath and Pekko Koskinen tell us this is "a racing/shooter/puzzle hybrid where players move forward by manipulating other vessels on the track". I can almost see that going on here, so I'll take their word for it.

The pair of developers add, "Dyad also explores the mind state of a player: the game is designed to create a strong sense of flow, upon which it offers different contemplative approaches. The topics of contemplation, called Mantras, create a thought-based metagame on top of the audiovisual gameplay."

All of that left me lost, but again, I'll trust their judgment based on how fun this trailer looks and the quality of their previous releases: Koskinen worked on IGF-winning UTF2004 mods Dragonfly Variations and Spawns of Deflebub, while McGrath has released titles like Chain 3 and XIQ -- Jason "6955" DeGroot provided the music.

Koskinen and McGrath have entered Dyad into the latest IGF competition, but they haven't revealed much about the game other than it's loose release date of "2011". Look for the pair to post more information about Dyad in the future on its official site.

[Via IndieGames.com]

Ben Heck Creates Portal Shirt Without Disemboweling Himself

October 26, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

In the latest episode of his web show, internet-famous game console modder Ben Heck whipped up a Portal-inspired shirt with a wide hole that allows you to peer through to the other side of its wearer's stomach -- perfect for a geek or gamer's Halloween costume!

Heck assembled the outfit with a white t-shirt, a CCD camera, an LCD display, and a battery pack (with 10 rechargeable Ni-MH AA batteries). You can watch him put it all together and learn how to make your own Portal shirt in the episode embedded after the break:

Plants vs. Zombies DS Trailer Shows New Minigames, Shoot'em Up

October 26, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

If you don't already have too many copies of Plants vs. Zombies on your PC/Xbox 360/iPhone, the addictive tower defense game is also releasing to Nintendo DS next January for $20 with a bunch of new content, as outlined in this trailer.

Along with a two-player versus mode and the ability to play as Plants or Zombies, the dual screen edition will feature new achievements, new minigames (Heat Wave, Homerun Derby, Air Raid, Bomb All Together), and more.

Shown in this trailer but not necessarily promised for the game: zombie unicorn neighing "Brrrraaaains!"

COLUMN: Defying Design: New Moon

October 26, 2010 12:00 AM |

['Defying Design' is a bi-weekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Jeffrey Matulef analyzing gaming conventions and the pros and cons of breaking them. This week's column explores reboots, focusing on Silent Hill and Castlevania's most recent outings.]

Whenever a series tries to reinvent itself by handing the reigns to a new developer it's met with trepidation. Long time fans would complain that it looks too different, the story's not the same, or the design's been changed too drastically. While it's easy to understand such criticisms, I've found that the best reboots emulate the feeling of their predecessors, but achieve it through radically different means.

Last year we saw avante garde horror cult sensation Silent Hill reinvented by Western studio, Climax. While this wasn't their first foray in the beloved series (they worked on Silent Hill: Origins), it was the first time they changed the formula up dramatically.

More controversially, this was a “reimagining” of the first Silent Hill. Many oldschool Silent Hill fans were outraged, lamenting the loss of the series' occult lore, industrial otherworldy settings, and combat. Some argued Shattered Memories should be a new IP unto itself because the story veers off in a wildly different direction than previous installments in the series.

Richard Mitchell wrote in his review at Joystiq, “What really bothers me, though, is the Silent Hill name attached to the project... Apart from characters with the same names, the game has next to nothing to do with the first Silent Hill.”

Radiangames' Fluid Drips Into XBLIG

October 25, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Radiangames, developer of JoyJoy, CrossFire, and Inferno, has just put out a new title called Fluid on Xbox Live Indie Games, but this one focuses less on shooting like previous titles and instead has players collecting dots as fast as possible while avoiding swarms of killer jellyfish.

To complete Fluid's 30 stages plus "five extreme levels", you'll need to collect powerpills (which have a Pac-Man-esque effect, allowing you to eat up those jellyfish), vortices, speed pads. Really, each stage is like a puzzle in which you need to figure out ahead of time the best way to run through the environment.

You can purchase Fluid right now for 80 MS Points (or download a free trial) at the Xbox live Marketplace. As for what Radiangames is working on next, the studio is planning to put out a new title called Fireball and a sequel to Crossfire -- it's just not sure about the order those two will release in yet.

Happy Wheels: Bloody, 'Severe Consequences'

October 25, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Before hitting play on this trailer, please keep in mind that Jim Bonacci's take on the sidescrolling BMX/motocross genre isn't for the faint of heart. In Happy Wheels, you "choose your inadequately prepared racer, and ignore severe consequences in your desperate search for victory".

Those severe consequences include having your limbs torn off (or left barely hanging together by a tendon), being stomped on by a giant foot, and losing your child after slam-dunking him to impress the homeless folks hanging around the court. Yeah, it's a pretty violent game.

Happy Wheels features several playable characters with different vehicles (Irresponsible Dad being the best), the ability to view or save replays, 15 featured levels, more than 15,000 user-created stages, and a level editor.

Bonacci first released this several months ago, but I'm featuring Happy Wheels anymore because he recently created this new trailer for his IGF submission, because he recently added sound to the game, and because he's still putting out new updates (e.g. new characters, level items).

[Via @krispiotrowski]

In-Depth: PlayStation Network Sales Analysis, August-September 2010

October 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[GamerBytes editor Ryan Langley examines PlayStation Network's debuts and successes during August and September of this year, using Leaderboard and chart data to analyze how they're doing.]

Over the past two months we've seen a plethora of new titles appear on the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network -- with some well known licenses finding their way onto the digital platform, hopefully broadening the types of players that might find the PlayStation Store.

For this joint August-September analysis, we look at recent releases like Castle Crashers, Sonic Adventure and Earthworm Jim to see how they've fared on the PlayStation Network, and how well they've stacked up against their Xbox Live Arcade brethren.

Over the past two months, fifteen titles have been released on the PlayStation Store – quite a feat. Unfortunately, we were able to follow eight of these through Leaderboards, which track the amount of online players posting scores.

Earthworm Jim was the first release of the month – and it did remarkably well, with over 34,000 players added to the Leaderboards for a total of 43,027 across both August and September.

The Xbox Live Arcade version added 47,406 players in a similar timeframe, and is currently up to 67,995 total, so this new version of the classic game has likely garnered over 100,000 sales across both platforms:

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