And Now, A Message From Gabe Newell (Half-Life 3)

Dorkly posted an immensely entertaining (satirical) article called “A Message From Gabe Newell.” Valve recently made several announcements on products with enormous potential to disrupt the gaming business (Steam OS, Steam Machines, Steam Controller). While many gamers and pundits have reacted to these announcements with excitement, there are many longtime PC gamers that have can’t get Half-Life 3 out of their heads. The (satirical) message from Gabe Newell addresses all of that and more. Here’s an excerpt from the end of the letter Continue reading “And Now, A Message From Gabe Newell (Half-Life 3)”

Watch the Evil Game Design Challenge

Here’s a long, but terribly fascinating, video featuring three veteran game developers participating in the “The Evil Game Design Challenge.” The panel is hosted by Scott Foe, known for his work on the Sega Dreamcast, the Nokia N-Gage, and, most recently, Douche Defender. The participants have been in the gaming business for a long time, but have recently been focused on free-to-play games. You’ll watch Greg Costikyan, Dan Rubenfield, and Ethan Levy — dressed as evil villains — compete to come up with the best monetization, retention, and virality plans for Super Mario Bros. 3. Yes, imposing modern monetization, retention, and virality methods on an all-time classic is evil.

Check out the clip below and let me know what you think of “The Evil Game Design Challenge” (I usually say please, but since the subject matter is evil, I’m leaving it out). Lastly, help me get over my hangup that “virality” is becoming a word.

Source

Beyond: Two Souls Gameplay Video

Here’s a sweet behind-the-scenes video of Beyond: Two Souls by Quantic Dream for PlayStation 3. In the video, the developers explain the features of the gameplay and the thought process behind it. Yes, it’s chockfull of quick-time events (as you’d expect in a Quantic Dream game), but the developers are trying to make things as transparent as possible. There are times when you’ll see the traditional cues for input (square, circle, etc.) but there are also times when you’ll see a simple white dot that indicates that an action has to be made. The goal is to make “the player forget that he has a controller in his hand.”

Also, the video explains why the Quantic Dream crew had to research “fishes swimming underwater.”

As a mark for the developer, I’m completely psyched for this game and really enjoyed this “making of” video. Check out the clip and let me know what you think (please!).

Noah Falstein Appointed Google Chief Game Designer

Between Android and Chrome OS, gaming has been a small but growing part of Google’s business. With Noah Falstein’s recent appointment as chief game designer, it looks like Google’s gaming ambitions are growing. However, there’s a lot of speculation as to what exactly those plans are and which products they’ll cover. Many have surmised that the company will up its Android gaming efforts, while others believe that Google Glass will be getting games.

For some background info on Falstein, here’s a clip from TechCrunch:

According to his bio Falstein’s been in the computer games industry since 1980, spanning companies such as LucasArts, 3DO, and Dreamworks Interactive, and is the designer behind a number of hit titles. He most recently ran his own consultancy, The Inspiracy, which offered companies help on game design, development and business, as well as being a regular on the lecture and speaking circuit.

A major interest of Falstein is the field of “Serious Games,” which he defines as “Using Games, Game Technology, or Game Industry Techniques for a purpose other than pure entertainment.” The list of Serious Games projects Falstein has been involved in spans anything from using game techniques to improve health and education, to financial projections.

The Google I/O developer conference is a few weeks away, so the company’s plans for gaming and Falstein’s role should be clarified then. For now, let’s play the speculation game! What do you think Google’s gaming plans are for the near future?

Source

Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition Postmortem

Overhaul Games president Trent Oster posted a long and excellent postmortem on Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition on Gamasutra. Oster goes over several things that went right and several things that went wrong during the remake of this BioWare classic. As a fan of the original game, the new game, and BioWare, I really enjoyed all five pages of the postmortem. In addition to the behind-the-scenes factoids you’d expect, the article covers a lot of BioWare history. It was one of the most enjoyable videogame postmortems I’ve read in years and I highly recommend checking it out.

Source

Kellee Santiago (thatgamecompany) Joins Ouya

Ouya has announced that Kellee Santiago has joined the company as DBF (Developer’s Best Friend). She’ll be heading up the company’s developer outreach. Santiago is best known as cofounder of thatgamecompany, the creators of Flower and Journey. In the official announcement, she said:

Oouya gets it. This is the first console company that really understands how important it is to remove the barriers to development. By freeing up the development process, Ouya is opening up new doors in console gaming.

This is a big score for Ouya. Santiago has a great reputation within the gaming business. Ouya will be leaning on independent and small developers to make games optimized for the system. Those kinds of companies will feel like they have a sympathetic ally in Santiago. Journalists view her as an “indie darling,” so it’s additional press for the company too.

What do you think of Ouya hiring Kellee Santiago? Will she help differentiate the company from others that are trying to console-ify Android?

Source

Coffee Talk #570: The Ewing Theory and Videogames

As a Bill Simmons fanboy, the “Ewing Theory” is far more relevant to my life than any scientific theory. When Simmons posted a column revisiting the Ewing Theory, I started thinking about it in videogame terms. Obviously videogames are larger team efforts than sports are, so some of the principles of the theory don’t apply, but it was a fun exercise. Over the last week, I asked a bunch of friends if they could think of any videogame franchises that improved when a “celebrity” developer moved on or left the team.

The most common answer I received was the God of War series. A lot of my friends feel…more

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Shia LaBeouf getting booted off a Broadway play, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. switching from HBO to Showtime, or celebrities wearing pajama pants, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

As a Bill Simmons fanboy, the “Ewing Theory” is far more relevant to my life than any scientific theory. When Simmons posted a column revisiting the Ewing Theory, I started thinking about it in videogame terms. Obviously videogames are larger team efforts than sports are, so some of the principles of the theory don’t apply, but it was a fun exercise. Over the last week, I asked a bunch of friends if they could think of any videogame franchises that improved when a “celebrity” developer moved on or left the team.

The most common answer I received was the God of War series. A lot of my friends feel that the series reached new heights after David Jaffe left the team. The answer surprised me. Part of it is because I hold Jaffe in high regard and part of it is that I believe the series simply progressed. Of course Cory Balrog and Stig Asmussen did wonderful jobs directing the next two God of War games, but I believe the series would have improved similarly with Jaffe at the wheel. (Hmmm, now I want to rewrite the song “Jesus Take the Wheel” with the lyrics “Jaffe Take the Wheel.”) While I understood their points, I don’t think it was a “Ewing Theory” situation. God of War definitely got better, but I don’t think it was because of David Jaffe taking a different role (II) or leaving the team (III).

A few people mentioned John Romero and the Quake series. I understood this argument morebut felt that the older guys I spoke with still had Daikatana on their minds. That said, Tim Willits and Graeme Devine definitely took the franchise to new heights.

Now it’s your turn! What videogame franchises can you apply the Ewing Theory to?