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Archive For February, 2011

GDC 2011 Details Poster Sessions, EGS Speakers, 'Social Devs Rant Back'

February 23, 2011 1:00 PM | Simon Carless

GDC 2011 organizers are detailing specifics for next week's San Francisco-based show, including the return of 'Poster Sessions', the speaker line-up for Experimental Gameplay Sessions and the 'Social Devs Rant Back' talk.

The complete GDC conference schedule, including over 650 speakers, is currently available on both GDC Schedule Builder and the newly launched, smartphone-centric GDC Mobile site.

With the Moscone Center, San Francisco-based show just a few days away from its February 28th through March 4th run, organizers are highlighting the following lectures:

- A set of 'poster sessions' have been announced on Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 2 p.m., returning a popular format to Game Developers Conference in a higher profile setting.

As the description explains, poster sessions are "similar to a traditional lecture; however, these sessions are presented in front of an actual physical poster explaining his/her thesis, to a smaller group of attendees [including] one-on-one interactions."

The poster sessions, which occur on either Wednesday or Thursday, include Telltale's Bruce Wilcox on 'Beyond Facade: Pattern Matching for Natural Language Applications', as well as Volition's Jordan Lynn on 'How to Start a Usability Lab for $2500 or Less', plus High Moon's Daniel Holbert on 'Saying "Goodbye" to Shadow Acne'.

- The organizers of the lauded Experimental Gameplay Sessions event at GDC 2011 have revealed the speakers -- although not the specific games and prototypes -- for the return of the event that previously showcased early versions of Katamari Damacy, Portal, Rag Doll Kung Fu and Flower

The much-awaited two-hour lecture, compiled from submitted prototypes and games that "explore new frontiers in game design", includes Jon Blow (The Witness), Jason Rohrer (Inside A Star-Filled Sky), Richard Lemarchand (Uncharted franchise), Andy Schatz (Monaco), Robin Hunicke (Journey), Daniel Benmergui (Today I Die) and Frank Lantz (Area/Code/Zynga).

Road To The IGF: Supergiant Games' Dynamically Narrated Bastion

February 23, 2011 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[As part of a series of "Road to the IGF" interviews with 2011 IGF finalists, Kris Graft speaks with Amir Rao and his teammates at Supergiant Games about Bastion, an imaginative, isometric action RPG.]

Action-packed role-playing games set in apocalyptic wastelands are a dime a dozen, but Bastion has a few twists to set it apart from the pack. For one, a unique narration system actually reacts to the player's actions within the game, drawing the player deeper into the experience.

For another, the game's lush, isometric world forms and deforms dynamically around you as you move, creating a unique visual style that has to be seen in motion to be appreciated.

Now, after 17 months of development work, the team of former EA employees at Supergiant Games is almost ready to release their title this summer. We caught up with designer Amir Rao and his team to talk about what inspired them to start an independent studio and what they're trying to accomplish with their game.

What background do you have making games?

I started by making pen and paper games – I was a huge D&D fan and still am. When I was twelve, I wrote a letter to Gary Gygax about the rules modifications I make in my D&D campaigns and when he responded in an encouraging manner he pretty much sealed my fate to game design. After I graduated with my lit major (to enhance my Dungeon Mastering of course), I went straight into the game industry.

I was a designer at EALA on the Command & Conquer games for three years. Most of my time was spent putting together single-player levels for the campaign mode, fiddling around in the WorldBuilder tool we used there trying to make dramatic fights with little men.

I really loved my team there but watching what people like The Behemoth, 2D Boy, Twisted Pixel, Jon Blow and others were able to do with small, independent teams really inspired us to strike out on our own. I quit the company with Gavin Simon and we moved into a house together in the Bay Area in September 2009 to form Supergiant Games and start working on Bastion.

Jayenkai's SpikeDislike iOS Version Free For Today

February 23, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

SpikeDislike, a simple but very addictive and fun game from indie developer James 'Jayenkai' Gamble (Tetripong, Platdude), is free for iOS devices today, in honor of the "AGameAWeek" coder's birthday.

The action game is usually priced at $0.99 and has a free online version you can play here, so it's not that much of a deal, but you should still grab it anyway because it's that fun (and the iOS edition features eight interchangeable themes, three difficulty settings, and more).

In this one-button game, you need to bounce a ball across a sidescrolling stage full of randomly placed spikes, tapping the screen to move forward. Again, it's really simple, but the challenge comes in trying to clear multiple spikes at a time without stopping too often.

You can check out a SpikeDislike trailer after the break:

Vib Ribbon Clone Powered By HTML, SoundCloud

February 23, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Showing off the project at New York's Music Hack Day a couple weeks ago, Robert Böhnke demonstrated Vib Riboff, a browser-based/HTML5 homage to NanaOn-Sha's cult-classic PS1 rhythm game Vib Ribbon.

Like the original, Vib Riboff sends a bunny through a black and white level filled with loops, waves, pits, and blocks generated by whatever music's playing. The browser-based game streams music from online music platform SoundCloud.

This version Böhnke showed off only showed one track, but he intends to further develop the project and eventually release Vib Riboff for others to play and load any song from SoundCloud.

[Via Nobuooo]

Dreamcast Collection Trailer Shows Off Limited Offerings

February 23, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Even though you've probably played these games hundreds of times, Sega is trotting them out again to appeal to your sense of nostalgia) and convince you into buying its Dreamcast Collection that releases for Xbox 360 and PC this week.

The anthology includes four Dreamcast classics: Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Sega Bass Fishing, and Space Channel 5: Part 2. It's not the most complete collection (Where's ShenmueJet Set Radio? And a bunch of other Dreamcast titles?), but it at least adds new features and doesn't rely on just straight emulated games, unlike a recent release for a certain plumber.

Dreamcast Collection throws in HD graphics, widescreen support, achievements, online leaderboards, and more. Though it's a digital download release for PCs, Xbox 360 owners will have to pick this up at the store.

Interview: Making Friends With Carmen Sandiego On Facebook

February 23, 2011 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Blue Fang Games' Darius Kazemi talks to our own Leigh Alexander about the launch of Carmen Sandiego on Facebook, and adapting a classic computer gaming brand to a brand new social networking audience.]

Much talk surrounds the birth and growth of brand new design forms on Facebook, but the social network was recently a launchpad for the revival of two classics: Oregon Trail and Carmen Sandiego, mainstay brands from an era when gaming on the computer had a far different shape.

Blue Fang Games was the developer tasked with the challenge of bringing The Learning Company's familiar brands to a new platform, testing out how new models of social interaction and monetization could blend with gameplay considered familiar, even defining. Lead analyst Darius Kazemi tells us the aim was to stay true to the original design, while updating some of the key elements for new social audiences.

"We definitely wanted to keep the original tones of the game intact," Kazemi says. "If you look at the original Oregon Trail, it's an incredibly dark, brutal game -- and while our aesthetic style doesn't really match that, there's a lot more projectile vomiting than you'd find in most games."

"For Carmen Sandiego in particular, we really did try to retain the irreverent sense of humor and the sort of 'bad' puns -- I think Rob, Chris and Jay [Dubbin, Dahlen and Katsir, the game's writers] all did a fantastic job. We had many, many thousands of text bytes that had to be written for the game."

At the same time, having developed Zoo Kingdom on Facebook as a follow-up to its Zoo Tycoon brand, Blue Fang was already familiar with its options on the platform. Social features can be much more than just posting to each other's walls, Kazemi notes: In Carmen Sandiego, friends who are also playing the game can be revealed as criminals, and the world map shows small notes of the cities that friends are currently visiting on their crime-solving quests.

Adventure Time's Video Game Episode

February 22, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

In case you didn't catch it last night on Cartoon Network (really, you should set your DVR to record the show every Monday), our favorite current cartoon, Adventure Time, featured a great episode all about video games and the dangers of transporting yourself into them.

In the episode, Beemo, the show's affable, anthropomorphized portable game console, takes Jake the dog and Finn the human through a platform full of lava pits, cute but deadly enemies, tricky bosses, combos, and other tropes.

The episode isn't available to stream online (unless you visit some shady sites) at Cartoon Network's video site yet, but animation studio Frederator Studios has posted an early anomatic clip that shows a few jokes from "Guardians of Sunshine":

'Games We Play' Art Show Debuts Next Week

February 22, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Arrt and game studio Present Creative will launch its first "Games We Play" exhibit next week at San Francisco art gallery Nieto Fine Art, taking advantage of all the industry folk and independent developers that will be in town for the Game Developers Conference.

The show will feature work from 26 established and budding game artists who have contributed to titles like Mafia Wars, FarmVille, and Diablo II. Present Creative says the exhibit "honors the art origins within video game stylings and celebrates the rebellious nature of art in its many forms". 

Games We Play will open with a party at Nieto Fine Art on March 3rd (7PM to 11PM), which thankfully isn't the same night at "Game Over IV's kick-off at Giant Robot the night after. The show will run for four weeks. You can see poster for the event after the break, and find more info on the show here.

"Pixelated princesses and cutesy critters pay the bills", says Present Creative cofounder and CEO Ben Sutherland, "but, there's a wealth of imagination and talent that lies virtually unseen due to the commercial nature of the gaming industry. We're just providing an outlet for that creativity."

Analysis: Business Tips For Building Your Indie Game Team

February 22, 2011 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In this useful analysis for GSW, attorney Mona Ibrahim offers advice on business and legal decision-making for small video game teams, explaining how to distribute rights, defer leadership, document goals, and more.]

Building an independent game development team or think-tank for the first time is typically an organic and exciting process. Although going with the flow and letting things happen can be wonderful for the creativity and enthusiasm of your team, it doesn’t hurt to think ahead and plan for your success or failure.

Riding the euphoric tide of a brilliant idea may leave you and your team stranded on a desert island! Once the honeymoon period is over and your idea begins to take shape as a viable project or set of projects, it’s time to think about more than your design documentation.

This means paying attention to your business and legal relationships and developing some adaptable goals that fit your motives. Don’t misunderstand—developing is your priority, and will always be your priority.

It’s frustrating when you’re forced to take time away from development to concentrate on things you simply do not want to think about, like failure. However, anything you invest in, especially when you involve other people, will create risks and possible rewards.

Those risks and rewards deserve due consideration and diligence on your part. They will inevitably demand the creation of a business and legal strategy. Thinking about these things early on can save you a serious headache in the future.

This article will cover business and legal decision-making from the ground up: who makes the decisions for your project? What’s the purpose of what may now only be a loose cooperative of likeminded individuals? What will you accomplish and how will you evolve? And just as importantly, what business and legal issues should you consider based on your answers?

Valet Parking 1989: '80s Nostalgia, Paula Abdul On DSiWare

February 22, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Zordix AB wants to help you "relive the undeniable coolness of the 80s" with a new DSiWare game that drops you into a Grand Theft Auto-style, top-down perspective and charges you with... safely parking and delivering other people's cars as fast as possible, so you can save up money to buy your own ride.

It seems like a boring premise, buy Zordix does its best to liven up Valet Parking 1989 by setting it in "a time when pink was more pink than it has ever been before, a time when Hollywood celebrities really were celebrities, cars guzzled gasoline like there was no tomorrow and pedestrians weren't a protected and endangered species."

The downloadable game offers 15 songs that are "quite but not like, anything you heard before" -- tyou'll see what you mean when you hear Valet Parking 1989's homage to Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" in the trailer above. You can also look forward to 30 different characters that you "may or may not (n)ever have heard of".

Valet Parking 1989's other features include a "teen movie story", 12 story mode levels, an endless play mode, 15 cars with their own quirks, "handcuffs and ice cream", "mullets, mullets everywhere", and "shoulder pads galore". Yeah, I can't wait for this.

[Via Tiny Cartridge]

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