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Archive For April, 2011

GDC Europe 2011 Debuts Mass Effect 3, Slant Six, IMVU Talks

April 28, 2011 6:00 PM | Simon Carless

GDC Europe organizers have announced new lectures for the August show, including BioWare on Mass Effect 3's creatures, IMVU on "continuous deployment", and Slant Six (Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City) on production pipelines.

Taking place Monday through Wednesday, August 15-17, 2011 at the Cologne Congress-Centrum Ost, GDC Europe 2011 -- alongside the major gamescom trade show -- will again provide the essential pan-European perspective of game development and business trends.

Following the first set of announced Main Conference sessions, including Brink, Blue Fang and Crysis 2 talks, a major new lecture compares the radically different creature creation pipelines used on Mass Effect 2 and the upcoming Mass Effect 3.

Why, if you've just released a game that got a 96 score on Metacritic, would you completely change the process used to develop all of the creatures of the game?

Answering this question, Scylla Costa and Brenon Holmes of BioWare will present a Production track talk "From Boxes to Life! How to Prototype and Develop Creatures: Mass Effect 2 and 3 Case Study".

Elsewhere, GDC Europe attendees will learn how releasing updates to customers 20+ times per day is possible in the Programming track talk "Using Continuous Deployment to Move Fast and Release without Pain".

A Pig's Tale: Herbert's Day Out

April 28, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Pixelartist Caleb Hystad, the animation director that turned Doom monsters into those tiny any cute sprites, has released a fun looking "iPhone story game" called Herbert's Day Out.

The interactive short story follows Herbert the pig as he "escapes his farm to quest for delicious tuffles, all the while keeping one step ahead of the farmer's dog".

Players hold their iPhones or iPod Touches horizontally and tilt the device to whichever direction they want to send Herbert, then tap the sceen whenever prompted with menus or options.

So, to sum it up: simple controls, charming art, a short and light story, and music from a singing cowboy, all for free. Why haven't you downloaded it yet?

Juegos Rancheros: Austin Indie Dev Meetup, Gunstringer Playable This Weekend

April 28, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Juegos Rancheros, a new independent game collective in Austin, is putting together a free and public meetup at The Highball this Sunday where indie developers and others interested in the local scene will be able to gather, share drinks, and play games like Twisted Pixel's The Gunstringer.

This event will be the first in a monthly series hosted in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Arcade, and is styled after similar indie groups/get-togethers like Toronto's Hand Eye Society, Montreal's Mount Royal Game Society, and Denmark's Copenhagen Game Collective.

The Austin collective includes developers like Adam 'Atomic' Saltsman, Renegade Kid, TigerStyle, and many others. Twisted Pixel is bringing the highlight game for this first meetup, as this will be the first time its Xbox 360/Kinect title The Gunstringer has had a playable demo for the public since March.

Flat Black Films' Bob Sabiston, creator of the Rotoshop rotoscoping software (used in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly) and the recently released Inchworm Animation DSiWare app, will also be at the event showing off his new title. Oh, and make sure to bring your 3DS for StreetPass exchanges, too!

You can RSVP for Juegos Rancheros: The Gunstringer edition and find more information on the meetup at Facebook.

Darkspore Lead: Action-RPG Genre 'Getting A New Life'

April 28, 2011 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Kris Graft talks to Fred Dieckmann, lead designer on upcoming RPG Darkspore, about the re-emergence of the action-RPG genre and how "this whole genre ... is getting a new life again."]

With Maxis' release of Darkspore this week, the studio previously known for simulation-style games is embarking on new territory.

The PC-exclusive title, which shipped Tuesday, blends elements from loot-driven action-RPGs like Diablo with a character editor born out of 2008's more simulation-focused Spore.

Darkspore lead designer Fred Dieckmann told us in a phone interview that he thinks the top-down action-RPG genre is seeing a resurgence in popularity that has only strengthened over the course of Darkspore's two years of development.

"I would say this whole genre, just from my opinion, is getting a new life again," he said. "It's finding a new audience. I've always been a big fan of it -- I've played Torchlight and Diablo, and am looking forward to the new ones coming out. But it's definitely become one of those things where people are kind of rediscovering it, and enjoying it."

Torchlight in particular has done very well as a launch title for developer Runic Games. The game sold over 600,000 units as of summer last year, and that was prior to a console version that arrived on Xbox 360 as a download this year.

Zenonia 3 Releases To iOS

April 28, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

South Korean developer and publisher Gamevil has released the latest edition of its popular mobile RPG, Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story, to Apple's App Store. The new adventure has players guiding "Chael through a fateful journey in search for his destiny and the truth about his mysterious father, Regret."

Zenonia 3 features four different melee and ranged character classes (each with 13 active skills, 9 passive skills, and unique combos), 227 maps, 136 quests, a new Fairy helper system meant to add "another layer of leveling strategy, and streamlined inventory and item management.

The new action RPG also adds an Execution Room Mode for both single-player or aysnchronous co-op play, brings back the online PvP arena mode, and offers various character customization options ("184 weapons, 120 helmets, 120 armors, 100 gauntlets, and 100 footwear").

You can buy Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story for your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad for $4.99 now.

Photos From Growing Up In Arcades: 1979-1989

April 28, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Kotaku discovered this killer Flickr group called Growing Up In Arcades: 1979-1989, in which, naturally, members are invited to add photographs of people hanging out at game centers and share their memories.

The group pool has some awesome images of old cabinets and pinball machines, and captures the atmosphere of arcades in their heyday, but it's also a great (often hilarious) look at the fashions of kids and teens decades ago.

My favorite shot actually isn't inside an arcade -- it's the one I've embedded after the break of the kids hanging outside Chuck E. Cheese as they celebrate one of the boy's tenth' birthday. You can see more photos here.

PopCap, Make-A-Wish Help 9-Year-Old Create iOS Game

April 28, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

While PopCap's Unpleasant Horse seems interesting enough, I'm more excited to see Allied Star Police, the iOS game it created under the direction of 9-year-old Owain Weinert as part of his request to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the non-profit dedicated to helping children with life-threatening medical conditions realize their dreams.

After he was diagnosed with pre-B Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, Weinert told Make-A-Wish he wanted to create his own video game, and the group worked with PopCap to help make that happen. Weinert has been visiting the Seattle-headquartered developer every week to guide them in creating an iOS shooter.

PopCap held a pizza and cake launch party for Allied Star Police last night with Weinert, and it should be releasing the game to the App Store soon.

[Via KCPQ, @Capy_Nathan]

Incidental Character Choices in "Balloon Diaspora"

April 28, 2011 12:00 AM |

A screenshot from Balloon Diaspora['The Interactive Palette' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Gregory Weir that examines the tools and techniques of the digital games trade with a focus on games as art, using a single game as an example. This time - a look at incidental character choices in "Balloon Diaspora."]

Sid Meier, designer of Civilization, described games as "a series of interesting choices." Janet Murray, new media researcher, defines player agency as "the satisfying power to take meaningful action and see the results of our decisions." Emily Short, IF author, refines this further by claiming true agency requires the player to care about and be able to guess at the consequences of his actions.

In tabletop roleplaying games, players often construct elaborate backstories and personalities for their characters. In the best campaigns, these character details affect future stories and events. But in less integrated games, the choices made at character creation feel important to the player even if they don’t change anything about the rest of the game.

There is a conflict in the heart of any video game design between agency and authored story. The simplest game narrative is one which is linear: once which does not change in response to player action. However, this sort of narrative fails to take advantage of the most special aspect of games: their interactivity. On the other hand, accounting for every possible way a player could affect a story requires either an impossibly detailed simulation or a creative mind serving as Game Master in the style of a tabletop RPG.

How, then, can we resolve the conflict between the player’s desire to express himself and affect the game world in a meaningful way and the practical restrictions on the scope and complexity of the game’s story? How do we provide interesting choices that don’t require extraordinary design feats?

"Balloon Diaspora," a short game by Cardboard Computer, takes a clever approach. It presents the player with questions that carry emotional weight and visible consequences that paradoxically have little to no effect on the events of the game. This is emotional agency, not narrative agency, and it provides a startlingly effective way of making the player feel empowered while not requiring a complex story design.

Katakis Lives: Video For PC Sequel Surfaces

April 27, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

A sequel to Katakis/Denaris, the R-Type-esque shoot'em up released to Commodore 64 and Amiga (by Manfred Trenz and Factor 5 respectively), appeared at last weekend's Revision 2011 demoparty in Germany with a promotional video.

VIS-Games is developing the follow-up for PC using Unity3D and LightWave3D, according to Emme73, who has posted several renders from the game. As the trailer shows, Katakis II will feature four weapon systems and more than 10 levels when it releases in late summer.

Epic Win Developer Unveils Drive Forever

April 27, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Supermono Studios, developer of swanky RPG/to-do-list hybrid Epic Win, has unveiled a new iOS game called Drive Forever that's billed as a sort of "massively multiplayer OutRun-meets-SimCity, but set in the future."

Built on the studio's new 3D engine, Drive Forever allows player to create their own city and drop a winding road in between its skyscrapers. The city is stitched together with other user-created cities that players can then race through.

Supermono explains:

"The idea is that you never need to drive the same bit of road twice. You just press ‘drive’, and the game picks a section of track that somebody’s made, and downloads it. As you get to the end of that bit of track…it downloads a NEW bit of track, that somebody else has built, and seamlessly adds it to the end. And it keeps going! Forever! Or until you run out of time…

Imagine it as sort of like a YouTube playlist of the best tracks people have made, all laid out end-to-end. You can rate tracks, and save your favourites to play later. And the ratings from everyone around the world are used to automatically pick the best tracks for your never-ending driving pleasure."

As players drive through the game, they will earn achievements and unlock new cars, custom paintwork, and accessories. Those who create tracks will receive rewards like new buildings, themes, and accessories based on how people rate or drive through their creations.

Supermono says it's deep in production with Drive Forever, and expects to finish the game in the next two to three months. You can follow its development on the developer's blog.

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