After you're done shaking your head about that cringe-worthy use of syngestic marketing buzzwords maybe you should check out the latest dev diary behind one the biggest FPS series' latest installment, "Battlefield 4."
Since thatgamecompany started in 2006, they have amazed us with three games, “fl0w,” “Flower, “and “Journey.” Each one of them have been very different than the
We see video games as a form of interactive entertainment, but what kind of feeling do they communicate to you? They can hit a wide range on the emotional palette, but one thing they all communicate to you is a sense of accomplishment, which is something that watching a movie doesn’t do. But what about doing that, while also hitting appropriate and new emotional notes?
The reason we founded the company is to push the boundary for emotion in games. The idea for Journey came to Chen originally back in 2006, after a period where he had been playing “World of Warcraft” for three years. But the problem was that all of the players he met in the game only wanted to talk about how to bring down a certain boss, rather than sharing emotions or becoming friends, and as a result he felt very lonely in the game.
By Kevin Kelly
At 57.33 years old, according to him, Warren Spector has seen a lot of chaos in 35 years of video game development, which is was seeking to impart on some of the younger developers at D.I.C.E. Although on looking around when taking the stage, he wondered if he wasn’t seeing them because “they couldn’t afford to come out here.”
But before he began the core of his discussion, he addressed the elephant in the room to a degree. “As many of you may have heard, my studio Junction Point is not around any longer.” He didn’t use this opportunity to lambast Disney, but instead said that he was proud to work with a great team of people, and to be able to visit Disneyland and Walt Disney World as a contributor and not just a spectator, which is the amount of gracious commentary you would expect from the always classy Spector.
By Kevin Kelly
Gamers know Randy Pitchford as the president of Gearbox Software, but you might not know that he’s also a magician. He used to perform in Hollywood at a place called Wizard at Universal Citywalk, and was a member of the prestigious parlor of prestidigitation known as The Magic Castle … where he actually got married. So forget about experiencing the D.I.C.E. panel, instead we were treated to Randy Pitchford’s Magic Show!
Pitchford, while performing tricks, explained that much of the psychology behind magic tricks is the game psychology that goes into video game development. In the case of magic and the case of video game, you’re encouraging the audience to trust you and come along with you on a journey, and there will be a payoff at the end. With magic, the payoff is seeing something amazing, or impossible, and in video games, the payoff is a sense of accomplishment.
Kiki Wolfkill, who has one of the coolest names in the video game industry, and Frank O’Connor from 343 Industries took the stage at D.I.C.E. to talk about the challenges of building a brand-new studio, and taking over the massive "Halo" franchise.
O’Connor began by explaining the daunting challenges of building that new studio. The first challenge was to build the studio itself, while the second was to take over a beloved franchise that a lot of people had developed a deep love and appreciation for. That brings a tremendous amount of pressure to a team and a product, when you are expected to create something that the wants to be great right out of the box.
Communicating to the wide "Halo" audience was a new challenge for the company, which really began to stretch its legs when they released the "Halo: The Fall" of Reach novel back in 2001. According to O’Connor, that was pure opportunism on their part, but it opened up the transmedia options for the franchise as a strategy for communicating the nature of the universe and the backstory to the audience. All but two of their novels have been New York Times bestsellers, which has expanded the property beyond just the people who play the game.
By Kevin Kelly
You know it’s a treat when you get to hear the somewhat reclusive Gabe Newell talk two days in a row, and while he was J.J. Abrams-less for his second D.I.C.E. keynote, Newell decided not to focus on talking about sales-oriented things, or announcing new products (damn!). Instead, he talked about two tenets:
• The PC ecosystem is going to expand into the living room. Obviously this is what Valve has been moving towards with their Steam Box system that will attach a gaming PC to your television.
• He thinks there is going to be a fairly significant sea change in what we think a game is. This will expand throughout the video game ecosystem, and will wind up in your living room, and will incorporate people who don’t tend to think of themselves as “gamers.”
“A lot of people have an outdated notion about what is possible with a PC,” Newell said about bringing computing power into the living room. With the movement towards mobility, PC manufacturers have gone way beyond what would be required for a similar experience in the living room, where you don’t have to worry about things like thermal envelopes and power consumption.
Some issues are left to be filled, with audio synchronization and controller input, but he thinks that the price points for these solutions will be far below what is typically involved in a console gaming setup. But it’s not open transition to get in there. “It’s actually scary to think what Apple is going to do,” going on to explain that he thinks that Apple has a more natural progression into the living room, which is a large threat to moving PC gaming into the same space.
What he thinks will lend credibility to the experience itself is the fact that PC gaming systems are easily adaptable, and that the sheer horsepower you can get out of them will dwarf what you can get out of a console. This is already the case, obviously, with PC gaming, but for the millions of potential future consumers, it’s a fact that needs to be illustrated and grasped.
By Kevin Kelly
Julie Uhrman, CEO of the company, took the stage at D.I.C.E. with a montage of clips from famous television stunt “Who Shot J.R.?” from Dallas back in 1980. She has a self-proclaimed love of the television, but points out that most of us don’t admit that we love television in public, because it has become socially unacceptable.
Most people watch an average of 34 hours of television per week (!), but it has been taking a beating lately. It’s central to many of our lives, and often occupies a place that could be construed as the altar of worship in most living rooms. But Uhrman believes it is poised for a comeback, mostly because of the power of consoles. In a recent poll, 60% of all gamers have said they couldn’t live without a console, and the value of a console gamer is worth six times more than a mobile gamer.
She used the upcoming GTA V as a point: it’s a huge game, and will most likely do very well. Which is big for the consoles, and as a result, it’s huge for television. But, it also underscores the reason the console gaming is dying. As a result of games like GTA V, there are fewer and fewer developers working on console titles these days, due to the fact that there are very few companies that are making the big games that generate huge revenue. The smaller developers are shuttering and frequently leaving console development to work on mobile titles.
By Kevin Kelly
D.I.C.E. 2013 kicked off with a conversation with J.J. Abrams and Gabe Newell, who Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences President Martin Rae called, “Two incredibly accomplished storytellers who have changed the world of film, television and games.” Abrams started the ball rolling by noting that video games have gone from the days of Pong to today, which has been like going from cave drawings to the Renassaince. Newell interrupted Abrams to dispel the notion that games have been becoming more like the movies by showing a clip from Cloverfield.
“That was pretty good,” quipped Abrams. But Newell came back by remarking “As a gamer, I’m saying ‘Put the f**king camera down and run!’” Abrams then blasted back with a Half-Life 2 clip, where Freeman is playing around with the teleporter, while important story is happening behind him while he goofs off and isn’t driven forward. “It can be fun to do stuff like this, but it doesn’t really drive a story,” said Abrams.
Abrams pointed out that we see plenty of examples of idiots in movies, like the people who go outside in a Friday the 13th movie, when they know something bad is going to happen. He illustrated another point with another Half-Life clip, where a lot of exposition happens via talking heads. He mentioned that the characters don’t behave or emote like a real person would. Newell responded by saying that it’s more about the story for the gamer, such as when you’re playing Left 4 Dead, it’s not about Coach or Bill, it’s about you and me.
Are you ready for more Battlefield 3? While the game made quite a splash when it launched last year, EA has only released one update for the game in the form of the "Back to Karkand" DLC for the game that featured four Battlefield 2 maps updated and remade using the new Frostbite 2 engine, along with 10 new weapons, four new vehicles, and new achievements/trophies. That came out in December of last year, roughly two months after the game was released.
Last night at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, EA held a joint event with both DICE and Danger Close to announce new things. Danger Close will be releasing a new Medal of Honor game entitled Medal of Honor: Warfighter this October, while DICE announced three new DLC packs for Battlefield 3 coming this year, the first of which is "Close Quarters" available this June. That pack introduces four new small maps meant to highlight tight infantry fighting, along with 10 new weapons that can be brought into "vanilla" Battlefield 3.
Todd Howard gave the opening keynote at the DICE 2012 summit in Las Vegas entitled "Why We Create, Why We Play," which proved to be a highly entertaining speech with an equally hilarious PowerPoint presentation. Todd has been with Bethesda for 18 years, starting in 1984. When he joined the company, Terminator Rampage had just come out. E3 didn't even exist yet, and according to Howard, "We had CES, but the video games were in a big tent outside with the porn." Look how far we've come since then.
To put things in perspective, he noted that Doom came out right around the same time he was joining Bethesda. Terminator: Future Shock first game he worked on, which was promptly one-upped by id. "I've worked on a few games since then, and we bought id a few years ago. So..."
Check out Howard's full keynote below, which features things like a gorilla high-fiving a shark.