itagakiA new "Tecmo Bowl" game is still coming. That's what I learned at GDC as I wrapped up a quick interview with Tomonobu Itagaki.

He and I mostly talked about the Xbox 360's "Ninja Gaiden 2" (and gambling). But here's my exchange with him about the famous football series, which took place right after Microsoft's GDC keynote:

Multiplayer: People back in my office would be upset with me if I didn't ask you for an update about "Tecmo Bowl." About a year ago, there was an announcement that a new game was underway for an unspecified system. What can you update people about about that beloved franchise?

Itagaki: To be honest that was a totally different division that made that announcement, so I have no idea what's going on with that.

Multiplayer: So you're not working on any "Tecmo Bowl," right now?

Itagaki: I'm in a tough position because when I am making "'Dead or Alive," for instance, all the "Ninja Gaiden" fans say quit messing around with Dead or Alive and make a sequel to "Ninja Gaiden". When I'm making a new "Ninja Gaiden," all the "Dead or Alive" fans are like, "You have to quit that and start making "Dead or Alive." And that's tough enough as it is, but I also get letters all the time for the past 10 years from "Tecmo Bowl" fans saying, "When are you going to resurrect that franchise?" So it's tough being in my position.

Somewhere in the company there are people working hard to bring that to you. So I would suggest you wait for further announcements from them.

***

That's all I could get about "Tecmo Bowl," but I will have more from my chat with the Itagaki shortly. Stay tuned.

SporeWill Wright's modus operandi for "Spore" has always been about empowering the user to have a personalized experience from start to finish.

Such ambitions extend to even the game's music. Electronic Arts Audio Director Kent Jolly and Composer Aaron McLeran, who temporarily came in to work on "Spore'"s musical implementations, discussed the execution of their hard work at last week's GDC.

"Spore" uses what's called procedural music. The sounds generated are executed through processes designed by a composer. In this case, the composer is musician Brian Eno and the processes hidden in the various editors (creature, ship, etc.) found in "Spore."

Jolly's team has incorporated most of the user-influenced music into the game's creation editors (some bits show up elsewhere, such as the civilization building era), but it wasn't until Eno arrived that the team became really jazzed about the prospects.

"[Eno] was a very inspiring person," recalled Jolly. "He came and really just got everybody pretty excited about the idea of doing procedural music and I think that's one of the things that's just amazing about him as a person."

When McLeran came on board, he worked with Jolly on tools for Eno's procedural ambitions to be realized in "Spore." When the player is using one of the creature editors, building a UFO or alien or what have you, the ambient music alters based on the player's editing work. Moving the mouse over different icons produces small, but noticeable, alterations to the music, while placing a piece on a ship causes a much more substantial change.

Music is best understood heard. Click the player below for a quick example. Here, McLeran is building a ship in the same editor pictured above.



"Hopefully, the average user might not even notice that it's procedural music. In fact, if they don't notice, then I think aesthetically -- and they still like the music -- we've achieved something that's pretty awesome," concluded McLeran.

I have no musical talent, but "Spore" seems to take the hard part of creativity and make it an organic process without the user aware it's happening. There's something very compelling -- maybe even unnerving -- about that.



There was a time when PC gaming was in "disarray," or at least that's what I had been told back at DICE. And those comments is what has gotten many people riled up here and at Penny Arcade. But Cliff Bleszinski, the man who told me that just earlier this month, sat down with fellow Epic Games power player Mark Rein to tell me at GDC what the situation with PC gaming really is.

Specifically, they told me what the point of this whole PC Gaming Alliance is.

Rein: "Right now, if you have a laptop with integrated graphics and try to play our game, it doesn't play. Or if you're trying to play some games aren't capable of integrated graphics, they play terribly. So you just lose your interest in that. We don't want that. We want all these people buying laptops and reasonably priced PCs, to at least be able to be exposed to gaming. They can go out later and upgrade to something better, but let's at least give them a baseline experience."

Multiplayer: "Cliff, you buy it? PC gaming is back?"

Bleszinski: "Abso-frigging-lutely. The thing is, I think everybody coming together in that kind of way will essentially kind of help re-glue things back together and kind of help fix the market. I have a big PC gaming heritage and I love playing games with a keyboard and a mouse, as well as a console, and I'd just love to see it."


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This newsbrief has been airing on MTV and its sister channels. It should give readers of this site a hint at what's to come as we roll out more video from GDC. You'll be seeing more clips from most of those interviews we tease...soon.




Johnny Lee
, eat your heart out.

Some day gamers will be playing a PlayStation 3 first-person shooter and will simply lean your head to see around the corners. When that happens, you will likely be using the new head-tracking technology that was being demonstrated for the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Eye camera at GDC last week. I tried it out in the video above.

Unlike recent head-tracking video sensations, this clip shows a set-up that doesn't require strapping any Wii hardware to your head. Nor does it require fancy glasses, like this one made by a programmer from Sony.

No. This version requires just the official PS3 camera. And a person with a face and some mobility in their neck.

A Sony rep said the technology is not yet announced for any PS3 games, but if they were showing it at GDC, I assume it's ready to go. Okay, makers of "Killzone 2" and "Resistance 2," get cracking.

Video not available in Canada, The U.K., And Japan. Sorry! IPs are blocked.

drmarioMy throat is sore. I blame GDC.

And I'm probably not the only one.

Some of the other members of the Multiplayer team are fighting GDC sickness too. We're talking fever, flu-like symptoms.

Word is that 17,500 people attended GDC this year. The person who told me? He's out sick.

Funny enough, Kotaku's Mark Wilson and I were sitting together in a meeting area at GDC last week and overheard two attendees saying some... colorful... stuff. I started jotting some it down:

Guy #1: Half the time I ever got sick in the last 10 years was at GDC.

Guy #2: Yeah it's all those people from around the world with all their germs and their handshaking and s--t.

Mark and I laughed last week, but now? Tell us... who else among you went to GDC healthy and came home sick?

Final Fantasy Crystal ChroniclesSan Francisco — Change isn't easy. Square Enix learned this during the development of the WiiWare-targeted "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King." At GDC last week, Square Enix shared some lessons in a panel entitled "WiiWare Project Lifecycle: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, The Little King."

"My Life as a King" Designer, former "Final Fantasy XI" and "Front Mission Online" server programmer and self-proclaimed "token English speaker/programmer" Fumiaki Shiraishi and Producer Toshiro Tsuchida told a packed crowd they quickly discovered Square Enix's traditional development tactics -- which produce the sprawling epics beloved by gamers worldwide -- weren't going to work in this decidedly atypical development environment.

"With "Final Fantasy VII," we established a process for developing high-quality games," said Tsuchida. "All our games since then have been developed with a similar process." Additionally, Tsuchida humbly suggested the traditional process could be preventing some creativity at Square Enix.

"Creators need to be creative," he said.

What is Square Enix doing to make sure that continues to happen? Read on to find out.

Read More...

galactrix_gdc.jpgSan Francisco -- Who knew a "Bejeweled"-style puzzle game with RPG elements would become the year's sleeper hit?

Infinite Interactive's Steve Fawkner didn't.

At one of the final sessions during the Game Developers Conference last week, the CEO and Lead Designer of the Australian-based studio talked about how they created "Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords," which was released on multiple platforms last year.

According to Fawkner, the idea for "Puzzle Quest" came about pretty easily. "I really like 'Bejeweled,' and I really like RPGs," he said. The game was originally called "Warlords Champions," but after some focus testing done by D3 Publisher, it was changed to be more appealing to both hardcore and casual gamers as well as more androgynous to lure to both genders (although no one liked the name at first). Focus testing also led to a change in the game's graphical style; it was originally more in the vein of the medieval-style "Warlords" but was altered to something "more Eastern-oriented" and "heavily anime."

One of the biggest lessons learned was that there were too many words in "Puzzle Quest." The game had over 100,000 words, which caused painstaking localization issues for French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese. "You should not construct sentences as a designer," Fawkner warned. To boot, he found that players were often skipping the lengthy conversations within the game anyway.

However, Fawkner promised that the new science-fiction-themed "Puzzle Quest" called "Galactrix" will be different. Read More...

gdc08logo.jpgThis past week, the Multiplayer crew was out at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Come back next week for more from GDC!

Things We Learned At GDC:

* Xbox is bigger than music, movies and YouTube and -- surprise! -- "Gears of War 2" is on the way, along with Xbox Live Community Games.

* Not to be outdone, EA announced "The Sims Carnival," a free web-based portal for creating, sharing and playing free computer games.

* Miyamoto had the idea for "Wii Fit" long before the console's launch, but there were many challenges in creating the Wii Balance Board.

* "Home" trophies were revealed; an EA developer asked, "Why should we care?" (Awkward.)

* The makers of "Crackdown" spoke about their MMO, which is more "GTA" and "Counter-Strike" than "WoW."

* Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack and Saber 3D's Matthew Karch strongly disagreed with each other over the importance of story in video games.

* "Lost Winds" showed that a WiiWare game can be beautiful, mellow and innovative.

* "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" could've starred a Wookiee superhero and had exploding Rancor heads.

Read More...

apbcrowdSan Francisco -- Dave Jones, head of Scottish game development studio Real Time Worlds, had a new MMO -- his first MMO -- to show off at one of the most packed sessions of all of this year's Game Developers Conference. He was showing "APB" a cops and robbers MMO in the works for, I assume for PC (Jones didn't confirm for sure; and, after the session, Phil Harrison told me he was only in attendance out of curiosity).

So who needs an MMO from the makers of "Crackdown"?

Anyone who is interested in an MMO without a grind and who wants to play one set in something like the real world. Those are two of the priorities Jones highlighted at the beginning of his 45-minute presentation.

"I want to replace geek with chic," he said, though later admitting he had multiple level-70 "World of Warcraft" characters. In his MMO, experience points, do not belong. In his game, there is no leveling up. There's just a lot of character customization and lots of shooting.

Jones' talk really was about eye candy, though. The designer's voice became background sound to a series of impressive videos that left the crowd awed. Several of the videos features "APB"'s character-creation tool, which is designed to ensure that every player can create a unique character. The proofs of that concept were a scarred Asian gangster and then a geek squad of star game designers Richard Garriott, Shigeru Miyamoto, Peter Molyneux, and Warren Spector.

The famous designers were just samples. "We will not create any of the characters in the game," Jones said. "The players will create the characters."

apbrichardgarriott.jpgapbshigerumiyamotoapbpetermolyneuxapbwarrenspector

All images in this post were taken by camera, off of Jones' presentation screen. The images looked sharper in real life.
Read More...

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