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03/04/2007 - 03/10/2007

GDC 2007: Best Coverage So Far

March 09, 2007


I'm also a cartoon in real life. The 2007 Game Developer's Conference wraps up at the end of the day today, which is always a sad time. After a week of talking about their craft and discussing the huge potential of games, developers have to pack their bags and then head back to the day-to-day grind.

This year I've been laid low with pneumonia, so like you I've been poking around for coverage of the event on the web. Aside from tons of videos, screens, and previews (see the GameSpy index and the IGN Index for those), I've assembled this list of the most interesting coverage from the network. Reading is almost as good as being there:

It's hard to find a particular 'theme' running through this year's show, but I've noticed a movement among big industry players to stretch and distort the definition of gaming to help make the market bigger. Nintendo obviously leads the charge, but look at Microsoft: the company's casual games or Xbox Live downloads steal the show as much as it's big-name high-tech RPGs. And Sony's Home project, the virtual world I blogged about earlier, is definitely trying to reach out and bridge gaps between gamers and non-gamers alike. (Check out this IGN piece that goes into more detail -- one thing I didn't realize is that Home is also set up to prevent people from re-selling used games.)

Of course coverage of GDC will continue on the web throughout next week as reporters get home and finish going through their notes.
      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 10:02 AM PST
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Sony's New Virtual World. Plus: Phylon!

March 08, 2007


I'm also a cartoon in real life. Yesterday I talked about how Microsoft was making noise at this year's Game Developers Conference, but Sony isn't sitting on its thumbs (does a company have thumbs?). One of the most interesting tidbits to come this way from the show is the announcement of a new virtual world for the PlayStation 3, called simply Home. I could tell you all about it but it's better to see it in action by downloading the high-def movie from FilePlanet here:

See Home for the PlayStation 3! (High-Def)

Basically Home is a social virtual world, where people can mill around with avatars, chat with one another (keyboard and voice supported), and even build their own personal space. Unlike Second Life, people won't be able to craft their own content from scratch. But also unlike Second Life, it looks much easier to use -- my impression is that it will be much easier for your average couch-potato with a Sixaxis controller to decorate and customize a really cool environment. It also looked like Home would be a place to store your virtual game trophies (similar to Xbox achievements) or to play mini-games with your friends. The virtual world would be free but Sony hinted that people would then be able to buy additional content for their living space or avatar using the built-in store.

Although the demo looked pretty polished, I don't have a clear idea when Home will release. But if it takes off, it might kick off an interesting trend, where gamers begin to expect a virtual world to be integrated in with their console platform. Will Microsoft try to catch up? (Speaking of which, IGN News dug up this fun tidbit from the show).

Phylon: Beta Test This Wild New Game


Readers will notice that FilePlanet Subscribers can now Beta-Test Phylon, a new massively-multiplayer first-person shooter hybrid from Rapid Reality. We first saw this title in development a few weeks ago and it's got tons of potential: the engine runs fast, and can render these huge, sweeping landscapes with tons of enemies. It's fast paced and, most importantly, different than so many other games in development.

Agreed, this title still needs some work. But we really wanted to support the efforts of a smaller developer who's doing some cool things with online gameplay. So Give Phylon a try! Your feedback and play experience will really help shape the game. Plus... it's got frogs.       -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 10:23 AM PST
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Microsoft Kicks off GDC Strong

March 07, 2007


I'm also a cartoon in real life. The Game Developer's Conference is underway in San Francisco (see yesterday's post), and while the main expo and suite of speakers starts today, Microsoft has already been making some waves with a series of happy announcements.

First is that there are now more than 6 million Xbox 360 users connected to the Live service, which puts the company a few months ahead of its stated schedule. Unfortunately we don't know the breakdown of free users vs. paid subscribers, but the numbers put Microsoft in a leadership position for this generation which is clearly where the company wanted to be. Microsoft also released some fun stats about the service, including the fact that over two million voice and text messages are sent every day via Xbox Live. Halo 2 is the most played game on the service, followed by Gears of War and then the casual game Hexic HD.

Micorosoft followed up the announcements by showing off some works-in-progress to GDC attendees, including Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, and Mass Effect. MS also hosted a Roleplyaing Game Roundtable, video of which is available... obviously MS wants to leave a big mark at the show!

So why is Xbox Live taking off? I think there are a number of factors that are helping the service gain momentum. First is just a mainstream acceptance of having a networked home -- more and more people are setting up wireless networks at home, which makes it easier to get online with a box sitting next to your TV. (Compare today's environment with how things were when the original Xbox came out.) Then you've got the system itself, and how deeply integrated the online service is -- enabling your online connection feels like a natural part of setting up the box. Of course it helps that the basic online service is free.

Then there are the games available via Xbox Live Arcade. I agree that the selection and rollout could be better, but there's still a great mix of retro arcade games, new independent games, and both new and classic casual games. For everyone addicted to Geometry Wars there are people hooked on Uno. Compare this to the Nintendo Wii online offering -- a limited selection of old console titles -- and Xbox Live is looking pretty sweet.

I don't think the Xbox Live is the ultimate online service for consoles. There's room for improvement! But it's clearly the best on the market and I won't be surprised if it begins growing even faster throughout the rest of the decade.

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:
Mod News:
Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:

Posted by at 9:46 AM PST
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GDC Kicks Off This Week

March 06, 2007

Sick as a dawg The 2007 Game Developer's Conference kicks off this week in San Francisco. GDC is a fun show: it's when game developers from around the world all gather in one place to kick off their shoes and talk about the art and science of making great games. Nobody's trying to sell anything (well, except the technology vendors on the show floor) -- the point of the show is just to talk about games.

Like the games industry itself, the show has evolved dramatically over the years. Originally called CGDC (Computer Game Developer's Conference), it literally began as a dozen or so people meeting in someone's house. Nowadays the show is a lot more. It's for computer game developers, console game developers, massively multiplayer game developers, indie game developers, casual game developers, mobile game developers, serious game developers, not to mention students of game development. Plus, developing a game involves so many disciplines these days that you've got separate tracks for programmers, writers, artists... even game physics is getting so specialized that it requires it's own discipline.

Naturally GDC outgrew the relatively small convention center in San Jose California and it's exploded into the larger digs at San Francisco. But I wonder if the show is just too big for all it's trying to do nowadays.

Expect to see coverage from the show all over the IGN network over the next few days. I link the juiciest bits right here along with my own commentary.

      -Fargo

Today's Geek Stuff:

  • South Park goes HD on 360 -GameSpy
  • Wii-kly Virtual Console Update -GameSpy
  • Koei Opens Shop in Kyoto -IGN
  • PSP Gets First Platinum Title in Japan -IGN
  • Sony Moves Hot Shots Demo Up -IGN
  • UK Wiis "Like Gold Dust" -IGN
  • Q Entertainment Announces Every Extend Extra Extreme -TeamXbox
  • Activision Set to Acquire DemonWare -TeamXbox
  • THE HOT 100 GAME DEVELOPERS OF 2007 -Next Generation
  • Activision Confirms DemonWare Deal -Next Generation
  • EA Taps Into MySpace With Burnout Bandslam -GameDaily Biz
  • GDC: 'Mobile Can Be a First-Rate Platform' – Hawkins -GameDaily Biz
    Mod News:
    Hardware Links Courtesy of Voodoo Extreme:


    Posted by at 11:40 AM PST
    Edited on: March 06, 2007 11:45 AM PST
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