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GDC: Dave Perry’s Luminary Lunch – full report

Friday, 22 February 2008 07:21 GMT By Patrick Garratt

philharrison.jpg

Dave “Shiny” Perry decided to arrange lunch at a posh San Francisco hotel for some industry luminaries, and let us sit in on it. The session, which was hosted by ex-PC Gamer editor Gary Whitta, was attended by Sony’s Phil Harrison, EA’s Neil Young, Peter Molyneux, Gas Powered Games’ Chris Taylor, Mr Perry himself, and MMO visionary Raph Koster.

The lunch began on the topic of what “next generation” actually meant, taking its cue from recent discussions of the term by David Braben, who had argued it had been devalued by the latest hardware failing to deliver actual next generation gaming experiences. The diners decided that what was truly next-generation was, as Phil Harrison put it, what was “in the spaces between what we do,” with the community, with networking, and with user-generated content.

Koster summed it up most succinctly, saying “It’s not the graphics, right? Xbox Live is the next-gen game you play on 360. It’s the connectivity and the meta-games. Next-next-gen will cut across more platforms.”

Koster said that things like achievements across a number of games, and connectivity between them represented genuine innovation for the gaming platforms.

Harrison also highlighted the ideas of what Wii had been capable of in shifting the emphasis of how games are played to social, family gaming, the kind of stuff he’s long been talking about with the SingStar and dance games. Harrison noted that there was something informative in the fact that “the Wii adverts were all from the perspective of the TV, looking at the players”, rather than being focused on impressive game footage.

Molyneux, meanwhile, wanted to maintain respect for other advances, such as those in graphical fidelity. He argued that while the industry heads might call meta-gaming and Wii control systems “next-gen” a consumer was just as likely to tag Call Of Duty 4′s incremental improvement to the FPS as next-gen. “Call Of Duty 4 is about how much you experience, and I think that is next-gen,” said the veteran Brit.

Perry chimed in agreement, saying “the games I want to play aren’t on the Wii.” Molyneux did concede that the Wii was too valuable to ignore, saying “the numbers for Wii are massive, we have to bring games out for it.”

The discussion moved on, with Neil Young (the EA one, not the singer) saying that because of the cost of Wii game development was slightly less the big companies could “afford to be a little more experimental.” He argued that the development community needed to learn to utilise the specific features of what made the Wii appealing such as “family play”, rather than simply porting PlayStation 2 games over. Young highlighted action-quizzer SmartyPants as an example of how this could be done effectively.

This led Phil Harrison to point out that games are taking too long to make. “The speed of iteration has to change,” said the Sony giant. Koster argued that games were shamed by the web, whose speed of iteration of web-sites was lightening fast. “Flickr patches ever half hour!” he exclaimed.

All this talk of the status of traditional game development segued neatly into the second topic, which was the status of simplicity in gaming. Gas Powered’s Chris Taylor argued that “people want simple and deep”. He cited WoW, saying “When WoW starts out the screen is clear, when it’s level 70 it looks like a helicopter. That’s exactly right, and we know its right because of the numbers WoW has done.”

The discussion then moved rapidly into discussion of casual games, piracy, and all the other bugbears that terrify the classic large-scale development companies. Koster, ever the fact-machine, noted that PopCap’s casual gaming surveys had suggested that there were around 20 million people playing casual games like Peggle. Molyneux was aghast and didn’t seem to believe the figure: “200 million? It’s inconceivable!”

“There are 500 million phones going to be sold with games on in the next year,” offered Harrison. Again Molyneux was incredulous, only this time at the idea that people would really use those phones for gaming.

Returning, via love for the iPhone, to the notion of simplicity as a driving principle for game design, Neil Young argued that older generations, who had played the early arcade games and then been out off by difficulty and complexity, were now returning to gaming in droves. “The Wii is bringing people back to gaming,” he said. Harrison took it further: “It’s not just the Wii, it’s the web, and everything else.”

Perry agreed, telling a tale so many gamers have told about non-gaming friends picking up the plastic guitar and then wanting to go right out and buy a PlayStation. “The cost of making a peripheral is not too much,” said Perry, who argued that hardware costs should be accepted when developers can come up with such impressive design as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Hardware interfaces, he said, should not be a problem.

Molyneux agreed, saying that he wanted the new Fable game to be picked up by newbies: “We’re just using one button for Fable 2. For us there are too many buttons on the controller.” Koster had another fact, saying that there were “eighteen dimensions” of control across the 360 controller. “I counted,” he affirmed.

Harrison too wondered if the controller was the biggest stumbling block for accessible game design. He said that handing a non-gamer a gamepad was like “handing them a loaded gun, or a grenade with the pin pulled out.” He waved his hands about the emphasize the point in comedic fashion.

This brought the discussion full circle, with the lunch gang seeming to agree that next-generation interfaces would have to be simpler. Koster delivered a provocative tangent to this idea, saying that “Flash is the next gen console.” He illustrated this by citing the fact that he could play a Flash game at home on his PC, or with a stylus on his pocket PC, or even on his phone. “There are more Flash installs that there are consoles in the last two generations,” Raph pointed out. And it’s a technology that is evolving exponentially, as GDC keynote speaker Ray Kurzweil (who was referenced several times in the discussion) had highlighted. Koster also said that Flash will have 3D polygon transforms in Flash10, and OpenGL in the canvas tag was something that was being worked on for Firefox.

“Good luck making money on a Flash game,” said Neil Young. He saw the current trends as simply dispersing how and where games were played. Flash games might be ubiquitous, but they were not the future for the man from EA, who argued that the proliferation of platforms and interfaces simply served different needs for different games. He did have some suggestions about what that might mean for hardware, however. “Maybe there doesn’t need to be a device in the home,” he suggested. “Can it be rendered on a server and delivered via the network?”

Harrison said that the speed of light might have something to say about such undertakings, but journalist turned developer Gary Penn, sat in the background, said that it was already happening.

Chris Taylor seemed to think that something like that was close to the nature of where he wanted to go with gaming. “Secure PC gaming is the future,” he said. “All server based.”

At this point Whitta chimed in, paraphrasing something Harrison had said in a previous session. “Is this the last generation where physical media has any relevance?”

The group seemed unsure, but Harrison was admitted that “it’s moving away from the disc as a business model.” Was Whitta’s Blu-Ray collecting the behaviour of a dinosaur? Yes, they joked, but the reality seemed to be that no one saw physical media has having much traction in the coming years. Koster underlined he point by recalling a student recently asking, “What’s a CD player?”

Finally Molyneux made us all turn off our dictaphones so he could talk off the record about Fable 2. And… we can’t talk about that just yet, but obviously that was next-generation too.

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7 Comments

  1. Syrok

    “wondered if the controller was the biggest stumbling block for accessible game design. He said that handing a non-gamer a gamepad was like “handing them a loaded gun, or a grenade with the pin pulled out.””

    That’s certainly a big issue and I think motion sensetive controller are a step in the right direction. I recently, well a couple of month a go, handed the PS3 controller to my mum, saying she should give it try – she has never played a single video game in her entire life – and as was to be expected she couldn’t figure out how to control the car, so I told her what to do. She then was able to accelerate and reverse but somehow managed to crash into each and every rock on the track. Then I turned on the motion sensor and it suddenly became reasonably easy for her to find her way around the track without crashing that often.

    #1 7 years ago
  2. Raph Koster

    Just a minor correction — I actually said that Flash will have 3d polygon transforms in Flash 10, and that OpenGL in the canvas tag was something that was being worked on for Firefox. :) Not quite the same thing… though gosh, OpenGL in Flash would be nice!

    #2 7 years ago
  3. patlike

    Heh. Man in San Francisco typed it out very quickly. I’ll make an edit.

    #3 7 years ago
  4. patlike

    All done. Sorry about that.

    #4 7 years ago
  5. videogaming247 » Blog Archive » That was the news – Week 8, 2008: Unconvincing GDC governed by two main themes: flux and fear

    [...] Phil Harrison’s shitting himself. So is Peter Molyneux. At Dave Perry’s Luminaries Lunch, Molyneux was incredulous to the PopCap survey’s findings that 200 million people are now [...]

    #5 7 years ago
  6. videogaming247 » Blog Archive » GDC: “The web is kicking the console industry’s ass”, says Koster

    [...] this for a full report from the [...]

    #6 7 years ago
  7. VG247 » Blog Archive » GDC 2009: Wright, Harrison and Pardo confirmed for Perry’s Luminaries Lunch

    [...] inaugural event at last year’s GDC bore witness to some spectacular quotes from Harrison, who openly [...]

    #7 6 years ago

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    Destiny’s weekly update is here to determine the fate of all those Commendations you’ve been earning in the past few months. Bungie started off this week’s update with a recap of the details revealed during the recent livestream. There wasn’t really anything on this front that they haven’t talked about already. With the exception of […]

  • This GTA 5 trainer lets you play as almost anything and it’s the best thing ever

    Want to play GTA 5 as a monkey, a cat, a fish, a deer or some other non-human thing that we eat or keep as a pet? ScriptHook has you covered. Not only can you play as critters, it change other game values, according to an explanation from PC Gamer. These values include making changes […]

  • EA Sports moves Rory McIlroy PGA TOUR release date to July

    EA Sports has announced Rory McIlroy PGA TOUR will be released in July. Originally announced for June, the golf game will now release the same week as the Open Championship at St. Andrews, on July 14. EA also provided some more color on gameplay features such as the ability to customize the game by borrowing […]

  • Jason Voorhees joins Mortal Kombat X in May, Kombat Pack owners get first dibs

    Jason Voorhees will arrive for Mortal Kombat X players in May, NetherRealm Studios announced today during the latest Kombat Kast. Jason will be shown for the first time on Monday, May 4 during a special Kombat Kast. According to EventHub which watched the livestream, the developer will also show off the character’s move and Variations. […]

  • The Witcher 3: Nvidia heads to Poland for a behind-the-scenes look – video

    A video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been released, taking you behind-the-scenes with CD Projekt RED. Nvidia’s GeForce crew went to the firm’s studio in Poland to talk with the game’s executive producer John Mamais, who provides a look at the PC version of the upcoming RPG. CD Projekt, according to the video […]

  • Microsoft notes decline in Xbox unit sales for Q3 FY15 to 1.6 million

    Microsoft reported its Q3 FY15 earnings today, citing growth in Xbox Live usage as one of the contributing factors to the firm’s reported revenue. However, the firm noted a decline in units sales for its Xbox consoles during the quarter. Microsoft Q3 2014 (yoy comparison) Microsoft Q1 fiscal 2015 Microsoft Q2 fiscal 2015 The firm […]

  • Powerplay is a new feature included in the Elite: Dangerous May update

    The next update for Elite: Dangerous is coming next month and it includes a new feature called Powerplay. According to Frontier Developments, Powerplay allows players to participate in an ongoing battle that “enhances every aspect” of the game. Players can become allies with a number of galactic Powers and guide their strategy, pursue objectives in […]

  • Facebook says it’s “too early” to discuss large-scale shipments of Oculus Rift

    Facebook has said it is “too early” to discuss large-scale shipments of Oculus Rift as the VR headset is still in the development stages. Speaking during a call to investors, Facebook CFO David Wehner said the company had nothing to announce regarding the amount of stock it expected to ship. “We have not announced any […]

  • Battlefield Hardline’s first patch and rental server program hits next week

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch has a release date for both consoles and PC. PC & Console patch and RSP for Consoles coming April 28th. Fixes include TDM spawns and more: http://t.co/BZYJeomPlr pic.twitter.com/27TCiY8hmf — Battlefield (@Battlefield) April 23, 2015 The update will include fixes to Punkbuster, Nvidia DirectX drivers, TDM spawns, contains weapon balance tweaks and […]

  • Modders can now earn money through Steam Workshop starting today with Skyrim

    Valve has introduced a new functionality within Steam Workshop which will allow mod makers to earn money for their creations, starting with Skyrim. The update will allow content such as mods, items, or maps to be sold through Steam Workshop for titles which have the feature enabled. A new “streamlined process for listing” has been […]

  • Play Skyrim for free this weekend on Steam and take 75% off while you’re at it

    Skyrim is free this weekend on Steam providing wanna-be Dragonborns who have procrastinated on wetting their blades with Stormcloak blood the perfect opportunity to give the RPG a try. Head over to Steam and download the game and play for free until April 26 at 1am PDT. The game is also 75% off if you […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 “Ember” teaser video released ahead of full reveal

    Activision has released a Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 teaser video titled “Ember” and you can watch it right here. Here’s the video blurb: “In the next 50 years, technological advancements will lead us into a world where only those who risk going too far, will find out how far we can actually go.” […]

  • Dragon Age Keep update includes more customizability and control

    Bioware has updated Dragon Age Keep after listening to community feedback. The update includes more customization and control over heroes, world states, career and more. Players can now customize hero portraits or delete Dragon Age: Inquisition heroes from the Hero section. They can also remove playthrough states from the World State Manager and keep up […]

  • Here’s a look at some Conker community creations in Project Spark

    Conker’s Bug Reunion releases today, and below is a video showing some of the community creations you will be able to download using the creation pack. Project Spark is a free download on Xbox One and Windows 8.1, and you can download the Conker Creation Pack today. It contains 350 assets in order for users […]

  • Rainbow Six: Siege video shines spotlight on the British Counter Terrorist Unit

    Ubisoft has released a Rainbow Six: Siege video which gives you a look at the British Counter Terrorist Unit which features “the best of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.” The firm said that over the next few weeks it will introduce the public to each of the units in the game. Rainbow Six Siege […]

  • Mario Kart 8 DLC and Mewtwo for Super Smash Bros. headline eShop update in North America

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with an update and new DLC for Mario Kart 8 and the Mewtwo DLC for Super Smash Bros. Other highlights include Mario Kart DS on Wii U Virtual Console, the continuation of International StreetPass Week and more. Full update is below. Nintendo eShop Mario Kart […]

  • Square Enix host E3 2015 conference this year on June 16

    With Final Fantasy 15, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on the horizon, it should come as no surprise to learn that Square Enix will be hosting a dedicated E3 2015 conference this year. The presentation will take place Tuesday, June 16 at 9am PDT/12pm EDT/5pm UK. It will be broadcast […]

  • Final Fantasy 4: The After Years 3D remake releasing on Steam next month

    Final Fantasy 4: The After Years has been given a makeover and will be released on Steam of PC next month. You can now pre-order it on Steam and take 10% off for the time being. The game will be released on the digital service May 12 and will include trading cards and achievements. Thanks, […]

  • This Project Cars video shows off the racer’s multiplayer

    Project Cars developer Slightly Mad has released a new video giving you a look at the game’s multiplayer. The game is out next month, and if you would like to refresh yourself on the tracks included,  give this a look. While you are clicking links, here’s the minimum and recommended PC specifications which dropped last […]

  • Looks like Logitech is getting out of OEM mouse production business [Clarification]

    Logitech will no longer produce “low-end” mice, citing a decline in PC accessories. This story has been updated to include a clarification. According to a Reuters report, per MCV, the firm will instead focus on video accessories and streaming music, as its wireless Bluetooth speakers are now its best-selling product rage. This will help offset […]

  • Win! We have 1,000 Heroes of the Storm beta keys to give away

    Must have more MOBA? Win one of our 1,000 Heroes of the Storm beta keys and see if you’re more Blizzard than LoL. Can’t wait for June 2? Of course you can’t. We have 1,000 closed beta keys for Heroes of the Storm to give away this week, allowing you access before Blizzard’s MOBA goes […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X Nintendo Direct airs tomorrow, April 24

    A Nintendo Direct devoted entirely to Xenoblade Chronicles X will air this Friday, April 24. The video showcase will start at 11am PDT/2pm EDT/7pm UK. After the showcase, a new Nintendo Treehouse: Live presentation featuring the game will air. This is the second Xenoblace Chronicles X Nintendo Direct, but the first in English. The first […]

  • Blizzard will have 500 game stations set up at gamescom 2015

    Blizzard is heading to gamescom 2015 in August and it will have 500 game stations set up for attendees to get their hands on five of its titles. The developer will be set up in Hall 7 and those who stop by will be able to get hands-on with the latest content for Heroes of […]

  • PS4 price cut to £299 in UK

    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

    Harmonix has announced that those looking to export their song collection from Green Day: Rock Band into Rock Band 3 can only do so until the end of the month. April 30 will be the cutoff date for anyone who wants to export tracks from Green Day: Rock Band into their Rock Band 3 library, […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]