Category Archives: GDC 2009
Mon, Apr 27, 2009 | 06:41 BST
Warren Spector convinced Will Wright at GDC that Cloud gaming’s going have a giant impact on the trade.
The famed developers went toe-to-toe on the issue during the Luminaries Lunch at the Californian show last month.
“For the first time in my life, at least, I actually got Will Wright to admit that I was right about something we were argued about — specifically, the big impact Cloud computing was likely to have on games and game development,” Spector said, writing on his blog.
“I think it’s going to be huge and he, at least at the start of the discussion, didn’t think it would change things at all.”
Wright told VG247 after the Lunch that, “In the future, if people are really browsing these things, it’s a great opportunity.”
There’s a full update on Warren’s first GDC day through the link, there.
Mon, Apr 20, 2009 | 15:08 BST
Star Wars: The Old Republic’s business model will depend on what’s considered to be the norm on other MMOs, BioWare’s told VG247, likely meaning the game will carry a subs model in the West.
“The way we look at these things is, ‘What’s the standard at the time?’ Obviously we’re not quite done yet. We’ve got a lot of work left to do. But we’ll be very conscious of how the market looks,” company head Greg Zeschuk said, speaking at GDC.
Both Zeschuk and BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka were at pains to stress the game’s business model has yet to be announced.
EA has previously said that the MMO, which as yet has no released date, will be a worldwide affair.
Thu, Apr 16, 2009 | 14:46 BST
Gears of War 2 executive producer Rod Fergusson has told VG247 that innovations in both games software and Microsoft services mean we’ve yet to see the limit of what can be achieved with Xbox 360.
Fergusson was quoted previously as saying the box had been maxed out, a comment he told us was taken out of context.
“I think there’s still more it can do,” the developer said, talking at GDC.
“Hardware, in some regards, always has limits, but it’s the software that takes advantage of that.
“The [Unreal] engine is evolving – it evolved dramatically from Gears 1 to Gears 2 – and I think you’ll see people continue to push that envelope about how they use the memory, and how they use the hard drive, and all those sort of things.”
He added: “I think you’re always going to see improvements for specific games and the way they can architect the technology to take advantage of the hardware in the best way possible.”
“I think there’s still lots of room to grow.”
Fergusson said that developments in 360 UI software and Live functionality would also help keep the platform fresh.
“I think a lot of it too comes from the services side, and knowing what’s coming to Xbox Live in the next couple of years,” he said.
Roll on Gears 3, is all we have to say.
Wed, Apr 15, 2009 | 17:03 BST
SCEA hardware marketing boss John Koller has claimed that console software “exclusivity” was a a last-gen concept, and that higher development costs have forced game-creators to become platform agnostic.
“Exclusivity is something that doesn’t truly exist in this cycle,” the exec told VG247, speaking at GDC.
“What does exist is first-party product. That’s your exclusive product.”
Koller explained that the reality of PS3 and 360 development spelled the end of Sony’s great third-party PS2 exclusives, saying that Microsoft now has “the same thing”.
“Exclusivity in the last console was a much different proposition, because developers would have smaller development costs, and they wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to advertise that across all platforms,” he said.
“At that time we had a Grand Theft Auto exclusive, we had EA Sports at the beginning of PS2, we had Final Fantasy. And then we had a tremendous line-up of first-party games, that started off with the Jak & Daxters but went to the SOCOMs.”
Koller added: “We go to the next gen and Microsoft has the same thing. So you either have your first-party line-up, or you write cheques, and you need to buy that down.”
He said in the same interview that, in his opinion, Micrsoft had a more lenient policy to paying for exclusivity than Sony.
Sony’s first-party dev effort, Koller said, was as big as Microsoft and Nintendo’s combined.
Tue, Apr 14, 2009 | 18:06 BST
During GDC, David Jaffe, Jeff Gerstmann, and Michael Pachter sat down with GameTrailers TV to talk about gaming in the recession. Watch the discussion after the break.
In it, Jaffe’s weighs in on the used game market, Gerstmann’s talks about OnLive, and Pachter’s looks into his crystal ball for the coming year.
It is definitely worth the watch. Follow the jump.
Tue, Apr 14, 2009 | 11:20 BST
Both having Microsoft as a publisher and concentrating on 360 as a single format has aided the Gears of War IP, executive producer Rod Fergusson has told VG247.
“Yeah,” said the developer when asked if keeping the franchise exclusive to 360 had been a benefit.
“Microsoft is just an awesome publisher. They’re a great partner for us. They help us in so many ways, both in terms of the obvious with marketing support, and also in terms of usability, tested, play-testing, design reviews, support on the art side and a whole bunch of different things.”
Fergusson described the restriction of having to keep Gear on 360 as a “tax” for working with Microsoft, but explained that the set-up allowed Epic to attempt to make the best possible title for one format.
“We benefit a lot by having Microsoft as a publisher, and one of the ‘taxes,’ if you will, of working with them is that we’re only on one platform, but also it allows us to focus our efforts in terms of development,” he said.
“UE3 runs great on PC, it runs great on PS3 and 360 as well, but for us as a team it allows us to focus and make the best game we can for that one particular platform, which has been great. I think it has helped the IP from that perspective as we’ve been focused on creating the best game possible.”
Gears of War 2 has sold around 4 million units so far.
Fergusson was talking at GDC.
Tue, Apr 14, 2009 | 09:34 BST
SCEA hardware marketing boss John Koller has told VG247 that Microsoft’s apparent need to pay for exclusivity on certain products – such as the Lost and Damned – is borne from a self-perceived lack of strength in its first-party line-up.
“Microsoft has had a much more lenient policy to writing cheques than we do,” he said.
“We don’t feel the need to write cheques necessarily with every publisher, like they did with the Lost and Damned and some other titles, because we feel very strongly in our first-party line-up.
“I think it’s safe to say that we’d put our first-party line-up against anyone’s, and Microsoft and other manufacturers probably lead a little bit when they’re writing cheques about how they feel about their own internal line-up.”
Microsoft reportedly loaned Rockstar $50 million for two episodes of GTA IV DLC, although the figure’s never been confirmed.
The first episiode, The Lost and Damned, is rumoured to have sold in the region of 1 million units.
Koller was speaking at GDC last month.
Thu, Apr 09, 2009 | 14:25 BST
Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux has told VG247 that it would be “pretty poor” if upcoming Fable II DLC See the Future didn’t relate to the next Fable game.
“Well, while it’s not easy for me to absolutely confirm that, it would be pretty poor to say ‘See the Future’ if it didn’t have some connection, wouldn’t it? It would be kind of, ‘See the Present,’” he said when asked specifically if the content had anything to do with the next Fable title.
He added: “If we were doing a piece of DLC, why not use the DLC to say something about the future? Why not? Rather than doing one of those trailer things. Why not?”
Molyneux dropped a not-so-subtle hint that fans should be watching Theresa in See the Future for hints on Fable’s… future.
“While it’s hard to be specific about it, we do have an idea of what the Albion world is about, and, for the fans that care about the Theresa character, I think she’s a really interesting character, and certainly playing the DLC will tell you more about that world and more about Theresa.”
See the Future releases in May. Details here.
Thu, Apr 09, 2009 | 12:20 BST
Good news, alien sex fans. Remember the “porn” scene from Mass Effect? The one pop psychologist Cooper Lawrence claimed contained “graphic” shagging? The one that actually didn’t?
BioWare’s promising more “emotionally engaging moments” for Mass Effect 2. We know because Steph asked BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk at GDC.
VG247: Anything controversial this time? In the same regard as the…
Greg: The big over-reaction?
Ray: We don’t shy away from emotionally engaging moments. We try to make them contextually appropriate. They’re not gratuitous for the sake of gratuity. We put them in to actually drive an emotional response, but the journey you’ve gone through to get to that point in the game, it has to feel like that is a real point, a real outcome that makes sense to the player to get that point. They’re not there for shock value.
If there’s surprise and delight in the emotionally engaging moment then that’s great too, but they have to feel contextually appropriate. We just make games with great stories and characters and, just like in real life, some of the interactions are emotionally charged between some of the characters. There could be all types of different emotions. And even the experience itself, we strive for emotion… We’re not shying away from it.
So there you go. Mass Effect releases in early 2010.
Wed, Apr 08, 2009 | 11:47 BST
SCEA hardware marketing boss John Koller has said that Blu-ray, and the public’s perception of the value it brings to PS3, will be a driving factor in increased sales for the machine this year.
“We are looking at a general move by the consumer to understanding the complete value of the PS3, inclusive of Blu-ray will is really gaining a lot of traction for us,” the exec told VG247.
Koller said that PS3 sales are expected to rise up to 15 percent this year compared to fiscal 2008.
PSP is to enjoy a similar rate of growth this year, he said, and that the handheld’s Remote Play feature would factor into the rise, just as Blu-ray will for PS3.
Despite appreciation of hardware features helping things along, though, software will play a vital role for the PlayStation family this year, Koller said.
“That’s being driven by, in a lot of ways, by our first-party software line-up, which is outstanding, but there’s some third-party titles coming,” he added.
“The line-up’s very strong.”
Wed, Apr 08, 2009 | 11:02 BST
Gears of War 2 executive producer Rod Fergusson has told VG247 that match-making issues with the title’s multiplayer – which initially saw game-breaking waits to access games on Live – were the result of “growing pains” and treading new ground in terms of scale.
“The match-making problems we had at the beginning of Gears 2 were really just growing pains,” he said.
“It was the first time we’d ever done non-server-browser match-making… We could test to a certain scale up to 1,000 players or so, but when [we went] up to a million players, with hundreds of thousands of players match-making all at the same time, certain things didn’t work in the way they were expected to.”
Fergusson told us that problems with match-making at this level are not unusual.
“Bungie, with Halo 2, had a similar thing,” he said. “Going into that kind of match-making system just has inherent problems that you have to go through yourself and experience before you can fix it and get it right.”
A first title update became a priority when problems arose. Once the match-making service stabilized, the game’s team went on to fix multiplayer exploits.
A third update introduced a new levelling system and new additions for online play, as opposed to fixes.
Tue, Apr 07, 2009 | 13:00 BST
Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux thinks games will surpass the level of storytelling seen in the Godfather. Bold claims. Not bold enough. He’s told VG247 that games will tell the best story in the world. Ever.
“The greatest story ever told? I think it’s going to be in a computer game,” he said.
“And I think that if I play the greatest story ever told in the same game as you play it, your greatest story is going to be different to my greatest story.
“And that is power.”
Not only will games tell the best story in the world, but if Molyneux has his way it’ll be his team that creates it.
He added: “That ambition to do that, to write that story, or to write that game that allows you to experience that story, is definitely something Lionhead Studios wants to do.”
The best story ever. Hopefully it involves chocolate cake and getting up later than 5.00am.
Tue, Apr 07, 2009 | 10:26 BST
SCEA hardware marketing head John Koller has claimed that Sony’s first-party development division is as big as that employed by Nintendo and Microsoft. In total.
“Our development studios – the Worldwide Studios team – is as large as Microsoft and Nintendo’s combined,” he said, talking at GDC.
Koller said that Sony’s first-party roster for the coming years would feature a mix of fresh ideas and surefire successes.
“We have a tremendously creative group, and a line-up for the next few years that will bring a lot of new IP to the market, but will also being a lot of [tried and tested] franchises and new iterations to the PS3 in particular, but also PSP,” the exec added.
Koller didn’t give a figure on how many people were employed in Sony’s Worldwide Studio division.
Both PS3 and PSP’s first-party slate for 2009 is looking nice and healthy, with games like God of War III, Heavy Rain and inFamous already hoving into view for PS3, and a new MotorStorm, a LittleBigPlanet SKU and more on the way for PSP.
Tue, Apr 07, 2009 | 09:36 BST
BioWare boss Ray Muzyka has told VG247 that fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Origins marks the launch of a fantasy “platform” for the company, one that will last for “years”.
“We want this to feel like a living world,” he said, speaking at GDC. “Like a rich, deep, living world. We’re seeing this as the launch of a new platform for us. It’s a landmark in fantasy.
“We want people to stand up and take notice and really feel as though this is an event when it comes to market.”
As reported yesterday, extensive DLC is planned for the game.
“We’re planning to invest heavily in post-release content as well,” Muzyka added.
“People are going to be able to play this for years afterward.”
Dragon Age: Origins – dubbed the “spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate” by the developer – will release for PC, 360 and PS3 later this year.
Mon, Apr 06, 2009 | 10:25 BST
Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux’s has said his previous claim that games will produce a story “equivalent” to Godfather’s quality by 2016 is “wrong”.
“I think I was wrong about that Godfather line… I think we can surpass where the Godfather is,” he told VG247, speaking at GDC.
The exec expanded, saying gaming’s interactivity is the key to its potential story-telling greatness.
“Here’s the thing about games: you’re involved in them. And part of the stories that we tell, if we tell them in the right way, and we give you access to the right tools as you’re playing, you will feel engaged and involved in them in a way that you cannot feel engaged and involved with any film, or even book.”
Molyneux’s GDC session failed to produce a look at Lionhead’s next game, but the developer’s promised more on future plans at E3 in June.
Mon, Apr 06, 2009 | 08:50 BST
SCEA marketing head John Koller has dropped a heavy hint that Gran Turismo’s future may not be limited to just PSP and PS3.
“[Polyphony Digital] report directly into our CEO, Kaz Hirai, so it’s a little bit of a ‘wait and see’,” the exec told VG247 when asked when we can expect to see GT5.
“But we look for that franchise to continue on as many platforms as possible.”
Koller said in the same interview, recorded at GDC, that Sony is currently looking at “GT5 across all platforms, just to see what makes the most sense.”
PC gamers may do well to get excited by the talk. Polyhony head Kazunori Yamauchi’s already said that “perhaps [GT5] comes to the PC,” talking specifically of a Chinese launch.
It doesn’t take the hugest leap of logic to guess Koller may be talking about a PC SKU here.
Sun, Apr 05, 2009 | 10:20 BST
Jason Della Rocca closed his stint as the executive director of the International Game Developers Association with a bang during GDC’s annual rant session last week.
Here is an excerpt from his speech, which he posted on his blog:
Serving the IGDA for the past 9 years has been extremely rewarding and challenging. I helped to get a lot done, but somehow feel that I failed the community.
Sorry for not having the leadership skills to beat the barriers of participation inequality. Less than 1% of the IGDA membership are truly active in driving the org forward… Sorry for not overcoming your general apathy and laziness.
Sorry for not doing a better job of roping in all the snipers from the sidelines. Turns out you are all pretty damn good at bitching and complaining and being critical. But then you don’t actually do anything about it and you don’t get involved…
Sorry for not getting you to be more serious about the profession of game development… This is a real art and science. We need to be way more deliberate and control the path the profession takes as it evolves into the future.
Most of all, sorry for not doing more to help you realize your power! … You are all having a massive impact on society. You are transforming the world day-by-day without even realizing it.
Oh well, fuck you, it’s not my job anymore!
Sat, Apr 04, 2009 | 06:59 BST
SCEA hardware marketing boss John Koller has claimed that upcoming multiplayer shooter MAG can only be built on PS3.
“MAG is a 256 online-player game which is spectacular,” he said, talking to VG247 at GDC last week.
“If you look at that competitively, it’s something that’s only possible on PS3. The processor speed, the ability of PS3 to showcase 256 players at any given time, and their actions.”
Koller went on to detail the Zipper Interactive game’s concept.
“It’s basically like an iteration of SOCOM, where you’re maybe commanding the SEALs, and someone else has the Rangers, and the Green Berets, and so on,” he said.
MAG was Sony’s “big” announcement at the end of its 2008 E3 press conference.
A movie was shown of the title, featuring soldiers, vehicles and lots and lots of guns.
It’s planned for release late this year.
Update: John Koller’s sent us the following statement as clarification to the comments made in this story:
“I wanted to clarify my comment as the broader point I was making is that our biggest franchises and our best developers from PlayStation 2 are continuing to transition to PlayStation 3, which will help spur PlayStation 2 fans to move toward next-gen gaming on PS3. Zipper Interactive is best known for its great work on the SOCOM franchise, and they’re building on their development experience to create a brand new IP in MAG. MAG is not a sequel to nor built upon SOCOM, and when the title launches this fall, PS3 owners will be able to experience intense 256-player combat, which is something that’s never been available on console before.”
Thu, Apr 02, 2009 | 15:16 BST
Uh oh. Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux’s dropped a reasonably unsubtle hint that Fable may have an online future. Like, online online.
“Whatever happens in the future of Fable, I don’t want you to think you know exactly what features are going to be in there,” he said to Eurogamer, speaking at GDC.
“Don’t think about this as an RPG franchise – think about it as the world of Albion.
“There’s a niche for Fable as there’s humour in there and there’s a Britishness and I think we’ll keep that side of it. But whether it’s more action or RPG or MMO or some new genre – that’s what we have to do.”
Is this the first-party 360 MMO you’re looking for? If it is, will everyone have their own dog?
Thu, Apr 02, 2009 | 10:22 BST
SCEA marketing boss John Koller has told VG247 that Sony expects both PS3 and PS3 sales to rise up to 15 percent on a global level in the coming year.
The company has yet to confirm complete hardware figures for its fiscal year – its fourth quarter ended in March – but said both consoles have seen record sales in the past 12 months.
“We’ve been very bullish on PSP,” said Koller. “We had our largest sales year ever last year, and we’d look to go about 10-15 percent north of that this year.
“It’s for a number of reasons, but primarily because of the entertainment packs and line-up of software that’s coming. The software line-up alone should drive a lot of hardware sales.”
Koller said the story for PS3′s current position was a similar one.
“For PS3 I’ll stay general as well, but we also had our best sales year for PS3 last year and we’ll look to go north of that by a similar percentage.
“That’s being driven by, in a lot of ways, by our first-party software line-up, which is outstanding, but there’s some third-party titles coming. The line-up’s very strong.”
The exec added: “What I mentioned there was North America-focused, but you could probably extrapolate that globally as well.”
Sony has yet to confirm when it’s to announce its final 2008 results, but news of upward-looking hardware sales will delight both fans and trade alike.
Sony showed rough figures for the third quarter, with game division sales for the Holiday season down 32 percent year-on-year.