Category Archives: Develop 2008
Sat, Aug 09, 2008 | 18:35 BST
Speaking to VG247 at Develop, Realtime Worlds has offered a God-sent glimmer of hope that we may yet see a sequel to free-roaming future cop blockbuster Crackdown, one of the most-loved Xbox 360 games. That’s the spirit.
“It was a horrible, horrible decision that we still dwell on,” said studio boss Colin Macdonald of the choice not to move ahead straight onto a second game.
“But I don’t think the door’s closed. Obviously, right now we’re tied up with APB and everything else, but hopefully in the future we’ll have the resource and something can be worked out with Microsoft.”
Good gravy. There are a great many people in the world that would dearly love to see that happen, we said.
“Including 200 people in Dundee,” Macdonald added. “We would have loved to have seen it. We poured five years of our lives into that game. You know, we’ve got guys on the development team that have Crackdown tattoos, permanent tattoos on their arms. We’re extremely passionate about it.
“But at the end of the day we’re a company that has to do what’s best for the company. We’ve got to stay in business. And the numbers just didn’t add up. We’re not in the business of doing things because we’d like to, if we can’t guarantee that it makes sense for the company. That doesn’t work.”
Microsoft: please, please, sort this out. Please. We didn’t get level four hand grenades for nothing, you know.
Thu, Aug 07, 2008 | 10:10 BST
Speaking with GI at Develop last week, Paul Wedgwood, the man behind Splash Damage, said that the idea of the UK games industry receiving tax breaks is “a complete pile of toss.”
“I absolutely love game development in the UK,” he said.
“I just don’t like all this rubbish about us needing charitable handouts to be successful as an industry, it’s a complete pile of toss. It isn’t why we’re suffering as an industry and I don’t think it’s going to solve it.”
His comments come after a flurry of recent ELSPA and Tiga lobbying activity on the subject of tax breaks as a developer aid. Wedgwood himself believes the problem rests with the publishers themselves.
“It is difficult to recruit if you pay crap money, and the UK as a whole was paying rubbish money,” he said.
“The money is there, the publishers have it, they can afford to pay staff in the UK exactly what they pay in the US, they’ve just got away with not having to.”
Full interview through the link.
By Mike Bowden
Thu, Aug 07, 2008 | 16:54 BST
Speaking with Eurogamer at Comic Con, DC Universe Online creative director Chris Cao said that you won’t be Batman or Superman in the otherwise extremely good looking MMO from SOE.
“The reason for that is, we want them to feel real,” Cao explains. “The best way to make Superman feel real isn’t to have you play just another Superman in another Superman game, but to have your own character, and earn the right to fight alongside him.
“So come the day Superman asks for your help, you’ll get a chill, because you know you’re good enough; you’re powerful and respected enough to have reached that echelon.”
By Mike Bowden
Wed, Aug 06, 2008 | 20:51 BST
Speaking to VideoGamer.com at Develop, Rare’s Nick Burton laughed off reports of Xbox 360 launch titles Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero bombing at retail.
“One of the things that I always find funny is when people always quote Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero as being flops at the launch of the 360,” he said.
“In the industry if you break even you’re lucky, you’re in the minority. If you make a decent amount of money you’re really in the minority. You’re in the top percentile. Those two games made a lot of money. For the install base they sold phenomenally well. Kameo is still selling now.”
More through the link.
Wed, Aug 06, 2008 | 18:04 BST
In an interview with GI at Develop last week, Bungie lead AI programmer, Damian Isla said the company won’t rule out working on other consoles in the future.
“For now we are working on Xbox 360 with Microsoft but I don’t know beyond that,” said Isla.
Bungie seems to be enjoying its re-discovered independence, with Isla saying the split from the Redmond giant is “like there’s definitely a new energy in the company and I think that’s exactly what the intention was [in going independent again],” he said.
“There’s a real optimism about where we’re going.”
Full interview through the link.
Wed, Aug 06, 2008 | 09:42 BST
Speaking to GI at Develop last week, Bungie’s lead AI programmer, Damian Isla, said that the developer has plenty to take away from Infinity Ward shooter-smash, Call of Duty 4.
“We have a lot to learn from their success,” he said. “They did some very innovative things to keep people going and their experience-rewards system was something that we paid a lot of attention to.
“I think it’s a great game and single player obviously is fantastic… they did a hell of a job with their set pieces, of scripting certain moments that they were really sure the player was going to actually see and experience first hand. The way that they use those moments to craft the player experience…Halo has a lot to learn from.”
More through the link.
Wed, Aug 06, 2008 | 16:01 BST
Speaking exclusively to VG247, Massive Entertainment’s senior execs have revealed that they’re already in talks for a potential sale of the World in Conflict developer, following now-confirmed news that Activision is to sell the outfit as a result of its merger with Blizzard.
“It seems like we have plenty of options,” said company president and founder Martin Walfisz, talking at Develop last week. “We’ve had some good meetings here.”
He added: “Being a part of a merger like this is a strange situation, because obviously the new organisation has to look over all of its assets, everything it owns and its strategy for the future. For the past six month’s we’ve been waiting for the merger to go through and to understand whether they see us as a part of their future or not.
“Apparently they didn’t want an RTS studio in Europe, and to be honest we would have loved to have worked with Activision, but we’re pretty confident in our capabilities and there are not many studios that can match our quality.”
The firm is currently working on the console versions of World in Conflict – Soviet Assault for PS3 and 360 – and has expanded expertise outside the PC space as a result.
“We’re working on the console versions [of World in Conflict] together with Swordfish,” said VP David Polfeldt. “In the past year or so we’ve been increasing our console capabilities, going from PC to having a really good understanding of console as well.”
Activision won’t publish the console titles, however, which are now also on the market.
“Activision won’t publish [Soviet Assault], no,” said Walfisz. “That’s part of the whole situation now. In theory they could sell World in Conflict separately from Massive. I think that any buyer would like to make sure it goes together, but we don’t own it. Activision owns it, so that’s their call.”
While options are opening for the developer, the company is now effectively in limbo. Walfisz was confident, though, that Massive will pull through.
“I think that right now everyone is in ‘wait and see’ mode and just want to know what the future holds,” he said.
“But Massive has been in tough situations before in the past 12 years, and we’ve always come out stronger. Most of the guys in the company at least have faith in our ability to find a really interesting future.”
Tue, Aug 05, 2008 | 20:12 BST
Speaking with Videogamer at the Develop conference in Brighton last week, Nick Burton, Rare senior software engineer, said much more is to come from Microsoft’s console in terms of power and performance.
“You never can push them as far as they can go,” he said. “The reality of the peak performance of the console is yes, you could look to a generation beyond where we are now and think, yeah, I could use that power.
“But the reality is in 360 and the PS3 and the latest generation PC graphics, the amount of power in the GPUs is such that you’re more bound by your creativity and the aesthetic you’re going for than you’re really bound by polygon-pushing power.”
He added: “You’re probably actually more bound maybe by art authoring and the amount of data throughput that, just the amount of memory you’d need, but I don’t think 360 has reached its limit.”
These comments, strangely, come in the wake of a Naughty Dog dev telling Threespeech almost the exact same thing. Uncanny.
By Mike Bowden
Fri, Aug 01, 2008 | 17:14 BST
Fri, Aug 01, 2008 | 09:59 BST
Speaking at Develop in Brighton this week, SCEJ’s Tatsuya Suzuki and JSPS’ Jun Fujiki confirmed that a 2D version of PSN puzzler Echochrome is to be released on Home.
No date’s been given for the game’s release, but you can read more detail on Develop.
Fri, Aug 01, 2008 | 08:04 BST
Speaking to VG247 at Develop today, Bizarre Creations head Sarah Chudley said that Activision, and not Microsoft, bought the Gotham developer as Microsoft’s “internal structure probably wasn’t in the right place to buy things at the time.”
“Obviously as the publisher they had to know what was going on, but their internal structure probably wasn’t in the right place to buy things at the time,” she said.
“And they’re a single format. OK, Xbox is doing fantastically, but who knows what’s going to happen in the future?
“Multi-platform is the only way.”
Chudley said that the approach from Activision came as a surprise but forced the developer to take a reality check.
“We weren’t up for sale. We absolutely weren’t up for sale. It wasn’t a case of, ‘Let’s go and pitch and sell ourselves,’” said the exec.
“We just got to the point where we were looking forward. The Club took us about a year to sign up. A year is a long time when you’ve got 50 staff sitting there twiddling their thumbs in early development stages, because obviously the publisher has quite an influence into what type of game is made.
“We’ve got a lot of money in the bank, but that used to be five years’ worth of money, and then three year’s worth of money. And then you think, ‘Well, there are a lot of people resting on this.’”
Chudley told us that selling the firm had allowed her and husband – Martin Chudley – to get back to what they enjoyed about the games industry in the first place.
“We’re not big business people,” she said. “We didn’t get into the games industry to be all-powerful, all expanding. It got to the point where we weren’t enjoying it.”
Develop concludes today.
Fri, Aug 01, 2008 | 08:03 BST
Speaking to VG247 at Develop in Brighton today, Bizarre Creations boss Sarah Chudley has revealed that the Activision-owned developer co-owns Project Gotham Racing’s Kudos dynamic.
Although the firm can still use the series’ trademark idea, however, the notion of a Bizzare-developed fifth game in the much-loved racing series – being considered after the release of Gotham 4 under Microsoft – died when the firm sold to Kotick’s publisher.
“Gotham’s owned by Microsoft,” said Chudley. “They will be doing with Gotham whatever they want. So no, we’ve said goodbye to the Gotham series.
“We still own the Kudos element,” she added. “We have a joint patent with Microsoft, so that’s something we could use in the future if we wanted to.”
Gotham 5 was being mooted at Bizarre when Activision moved on the developer.
“We were thinking about what to do in the future,” said Chudley. “Do we do Gotham 5? Do we stay with Microsoft, do we look for another publisher? Obviously we have a great relationship with Sega, so do we go down that route?
“And it was at that point that Activision came along and said, ‘Look guys, we need a really good racing game.’”
As well as deciding future direction, selling to Activision has given the company air to breathe away from Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport, said the exec.
“Obviously, Microsoft’s very protective of its Forza brand, and Gotham had to fit into that. So, going forward, we were obviously going to be restricted about what we could do, and now we’re not.
“I mean literally, Activision has said, ‘Just go and do the game you want to do,’ which has been absolutely amazing. It seems to have gone down very well.”
Chudley told us that the firm is working on two projects under Activision, one of which is, unsurprisingly, petrol-related.
“I think they obviously said that since they haven’t got any racing in their portfolio, I think it’s pretty obvious that there is a racing game coming up,” she said.
Fri, Aug 01, 2008 | 08:03 BST
Bungie told Eurogamer at Develop today that Ensemble 360 RTS Halo Wars is coming on well, thank you very much.
“Everything we’ve seen has been very, very encouraging – we’re very excited about it. And of course, [Halo Wars is] also getting right the basics, the general roles – even fictionally,” said Bungie AI man Damian Isla.
“What role do grunts play in the Covenant fighting forces, what role do the Elites play, what role do Warthogs play, what role do Spartans play… All this kind of thing. I think they really nailed that. It’s encouraging.”
More through the link.
Fri, Aug 01, 2008 | 06:53 BST
Speaking to VG247 at Develop yesterday, 2K Boston’s Ken Levine said that he didn’t understand why gamers had leveled criticism and the scope of innovation in BioShock’s gameplay compared to the steps forward the game made in terms of narrative.
“Honestly, I’ve been very open to criticisms in terms of narrative, etcetera – you’ve probably seen me talk about that, and I’ve tried to acknowledge things about it – but I’m not exactly sure I understand the complaint,” he said.
“If you think about the Big Daddies, if you think about the plasmids, if you think about the hacking, if you think about the security system, if you think about being able to upgrade your powers, compared to the Call of Duties, the Half-Lifes and Medal of Honor, I don’t understand [the complaint].”
He added: “Look at BioShock compared to Portal and other first-person shooters that came out last year. Portal, outside of the narrative, the gameplay’s innovative but on a fairly narrow axis, right? They do their one thing and they exploit it very well. I don’t mean ‘one thing’ in a derogatory sense: it’s a great thing.”
BioShock lead designer Bill Gardner, however, did concede that gameplay innovations may have lagged behind those made in the game’s storytelling, but that the stance was intentional.
“I think there’s an element of not wanting to throw too many curve balls at the player, and I think we knew early what the advancements were that we were going to make in the narrative, and we didn’t want to alienate people,” he said.
“That’s not to say we weren’t trying to do anything different… Certainly emergent gameplay’s been done in other games, but I like to think that things like the one-two punch and the way the plasmids work with the powers with the weapons, the environmental stuff [meant] we brought a lot of new things to the table.”
Develop concludes today.
Thu, Jul 31, 2008 | 07:49 BST
Speaking at Develop in Brighton yesterday, Frontier boss David Braben has decried the practice of selling used games in the UK, saying it’s “not tolerated by other industries.”
“More than half their floor area is dedicated to pre-owned and that is something as an industry we don’t see,” Braben said of UK retail chain Gamestation.
“Those same retailers are only carrying new copies of games from the past few months – if it’s a game that’s been out for two months and you want to buy one from a shop not Amazon and you don’t want pre-owned, it’s very hard.
“This is essentially rental, and it’s not tolerated by other industries… Why can we not introduce special ‘for rental’ copies?”
We had a one-on-one chat with David yesterday, the first fruit of which was this piece about The Outsider. We’ll have more from the interview soon.
Thu, Jul 31, 2008 | 16:45 BST
2K Boston’s Ken Levine has refused to comment on why a PS3 version of BioShock wasn’t released last year, saying the decision to stagger the 360 and PS3 versions was taken entirely by 2K.
“That’s above my pay grade,” Levine told VG247 when asked why the game didn’t release on PS3 at the same time as the 360 version.
“The only thing that I knew at that point was that we were working on the 360 version and we weren’t working on the PS3 version. And that comes down to a corporate decision level.
“Just strictly from a production stand-point, it was a luxury for us because we could focus on a single platform. So strictly from a production standpoint, we weren’t complaining.”
Levine added that he’s excited about the PS3 version, despite the fact he’s having nothing to do with its production.
“Now, especially, that the PS3 is coming into its own, it’s very exciting… I’m a gamer that buys every single platform the minute they come out, so I always forget that there are a lot of people out there that haven’t seen the game because they’re PS3 gamers, and that’s really exciting.
“There’s a whole audience that hasn’t seen that game. For me it’s kind of a kick to have it still be a new title for a lot of people a year later.”
Neither Levine or BioShock lead designer Bil Gardner would comment on the game’s additional content, saying it was a “2K thing,” although Levine did explain where the game was being produced.
“It’s a mix,” he said. “The PS3 technology was primarily developed by the guys in Australia. Some of the technology’s done in Boston… I think they have a few people at Marin and there’s Digital Extremes, and the additional content is being developed almost entirely in Boston.”
Levine said he had no control over the additional content for the PS3 version, and that the project was 2K-led.
Levine and core members of the original BioShock team are currently working on a band new IP at 2K Boston, which the dev boss described today as now being out of the “blue-sky period.”
Thu, Jul 31, 2008 | 09:43 BST
2K Boston’s Ken Levine has responded to rumour that certain members of the original BioShock team left to work at 2K Marin because of dislike for him personally by saying talk of its kind simply doesn’t matter.
“My wife finds it more upsetting than I do,” he said, talking to VG247 at Develop in Brighton today.
“I think the thing that was the most damaging is that it’s not something I can respond to. There’s no point in it. Look at the BioShock credit list and see how true that rumour is. My personality? I don’t know. Maybe I am an asshole.
“Honestly, the people I respect? Maybe I’m the nicest guy in the world, maybe I’m the biggest asshole. I couldn’t tell you. I think people choose to work with me because I can work with them and make a game called BioShock.
“Do you like to see people say you’re inconsiderate? No. When it comes to hiring, does it really matter? No.”
Levine reiterated the point that his wife takes the brunt of the scuttlebutt.
“It really, really hurts my wife,” he added. “But I could be Britney Spears with my gut hanging out on TMZ. It’s mild compared to that kind of stuff.”
Thu, Jul 31, 2008 | 09:43 BST
Ken Levine has confirmed that his new IP has entered development proper.
“We’re not in the blue-sky period any more,” said the developer, speaking to VG247 at Develop today. “We’re actually building design elements and building it out… But it’s, you know, it’s going to be pretty crazy ambitious.”
Levine refused to confirm specifically the identity of the new title, but did flesh out some primary details.
“I’ll say this about it. It’s important to us that whatever we do has the same impact on the gamer that BioShock did. And so, I think that the company’s position on us and what we do is that we’re going to be breaking down barriers and breaking down doors.
“Whether we succeed or not, that’s our goal. In terms of our timeline and the resources we have and the people we have working on it, I’m really fortunate to have Bill [Gardner, BioShock's lead designer - Ed] and Nate [Wells, 2K Boston’s art director - Ed] who designed the Big Daddy… that BioShock team, and sit around with the guys that did the original BioShock and come up with this thing that we’re working on now.”
Levine did said that he was “not substantially” working on BioShock 2.
“I’m doing my thing and making my game,” he said.
“It’s not Bioshock 2.”
It was confirmed that Levine would not directly work on BioShock 2 when the sequel was announced in March, and would instead embark on a new IP at 2K Boston.
Thu, Jul 31, 2008 | 09:42 BST
Speaking at Develop in Brighton today, Frontier boss David Braben’s given the first solid details on The Outsider, saying the game is an open-world action title based on the story of a framed cop.
“Obviously, we’d be mad not to consider GTA as competition because of the open-world nature, but in terms of the story-telling, I’ve not really seen people that are in that [place] yet, but I think that will come. I do think we’re genuinely innovating there,” he told VG247 today when asked which games he’d consider competitive to the secretive project.
“The themes: there are a lot of other where you get agents accused of terrible things. Certainly in cinema that’s very common.”
Braben added: “We’ve worked a long time on technology, and it’s been in game development now for more than a year.”
He described it as being pitched at the 18-35 year-old male.
“Yes, very much,” when asked if that was the target audience. “We’re writing the game for the sort of people that are working on it. You will get a game that’s very rewarding to play.
“It’s a very, very exciting project for us. It brings in some really interesting new issues to game development. It’s fantastic. Just dealing with a story that’s genuinely open presents lots of new challenges.
It’s open-world, but it’s getting the story [right]. If you think of most stories they’re very linear with the occasional branch: it’s not like that.”
The developer boss wouldn’t be drawn on a release date, saying he wants to keep the title under wraps to prevent fatigue.
“That’s intentional,” he said of the lack of information on the game. “We don’t want to put lots and lots of news about something in advance. It’s good to drip a bit out.”
The Outsider has previously been confirmed as an Xbox 360, PS3 and PC release.
Thu, Jul 31, 2008 | 08:24 BST
Ken Levine’s about to start his keynote speech at Develop 08 in Brighton. The talk’s called “BioShock and Awe: Immersing the Gamer in an Alternate World Without Drowning Out the Gameplay.” Trips off the tongue. We has internets and batteries, so we’re coming to you live. After the break. Latest updates at the top.