Saturday, August 23, 2008

Leipzig GDC

I've been wicked busy at the video game job, so my coverage of the 2008 Games Convention in Leipzig has been ... non-existent.

You can find tagged GC '08 coverage at Kotaku and IGN:
My too-brief sum-up:
  • Art travesty
  • I'm going to explode waiting for MadWorld and Left 4 Dead
  • I wonder if Heavy Rain will be the system seller for me
  • The inclusion of the Joker and Green Lantern (and associated gameplay mechanics) give me hope MK vs. DCU won't be too derivative
  • Sony is pushing MMO on consoles by adding Free Realms to DC Universe Online and The Agency
  • The PS3 Wireless Keypad looks like a usability mistake (above the gamepad? WTF?)
  • The PSP 3000 (sleeker, brighter screen, microphone (Skype), etc.) could give Sony a decent revenue lift
  • Sony certainly seems to get that making the console the center of the living room takes space, and is meeting that need with a new 160Gb model (though I cry "hypocrite!" at their original public badmouthing of Microsoft's multiple Xbox 360 SKUs)
  • I'm hoping the new 360 game pad with non-crappy D-Pad is not a region-based limited release -- even though that means I'll need to buy 4 new controllers
  • Upcoming Gamebryo-powered PC / 360 action RPGer Divinity 2 -- Ego Draconis showed well and was received well
  • Spider-Man: Web of Shadows may lift the franchise out of its video game doldrums
  • I want to play the likes of Little Big Planet, Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic, and more, but they're not enough for me to buy a PS3 (for reference, if I didn't have one, I probably would have bought a 360 for Braid)
  • I feel like Microsoft's split focus on GC 2008 and X08 has made it hard for me to get first-party coverage on either

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gamebryo for Casual Games

One of the initiatives I've pushed most recently as the Product Manager for Gamebryo at Emergent Game Technologies is making a bunch of waves in the industry:
Gamebryo Casual.
This is the full version of Gamebryo, targeted toward the real-world constraints of casual development timelines and budgets.

I'm stoked about this offering for a bunch of reasons.

First and foremost, I'm absolutely convinced we need to give developers and publishers the best tools so they can make great titles, and we need to meet teams where they're at with budgets, timelines, and other development restrictions.

Secondly, "Casual" is a bit of a misnomer, but the industry knows what it is. It's all of that stuff outside of "big box" development. It's also not "breezy, jump - in - jump - out - with - no - commitment" gameplay -- that's the player's experience with a lot of these titles.

The developer's experience is more along the lines of "holy - crap - I - have - no - money - and - no - time - and - I - have - to - get - a - high-quality - title - out - the - door - yesterday." There's an urgency and a desperation that requires the right titles to rise to the top to help folks see what the developer has to offer.

Gamebryo does that, and now we're raising awareness for casual game development on the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and PC.

Lotta info follows below, but I'm trying to do at least two things with the recent push.

First, we're raising awareness of the product we've had, and will continue to have, for casual game developers (or whatever the market segment ends up being called).

Second, by way of short-term promotion, we're making it really easy for folks to do multiplatform casual game development. It's not a one-size fits all promotion ("casual" development isn't "hobbyist"), you have to qualify, pricing isn't public, blah blah blah.

But if you're interested, contact Emergent and see if you qualify for this product and promotion.

Keep in mind, this is the same tech being leveraged for the likes of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Fallout 3 , and Spatterhouse, and is perfectly suited for developers faced with reduced budgets and development schedules who still want to make high-quality titles. Developers still have access to the same tools as big-box devs (content exporter plug-ins for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, and SoftimageXSI, our Scene Designer and Animation tools, the new Emergent Terrain system, etc.).

Gamebryo's flexible and extensible, so devs can leverage the pieces of the product they want, remove unneeded others, and optimize their titles for their distribution and platform needs.

Speaking o' flexible, Gamebryo's geometry system lets developers export their assets to target platforms and balance maximum detail and minimal download size (more objects for a game with a smaller footprint). The new system has the previous runtime efficiencies, and in version 2.5 we added increased load-time efficiencies (makes it faster). Data files are now smaller, and the end memory representation of those data files can be smaller (with pretty much zero perceptible loss to the end of the user).

Hundreds of titles in virtually every genre have used and are using Gamebryo. Casual developers should have the flexibility to build the title they want, in the genre they want, with the gameplay they want (a small sampling can be found at Even better, we're looking for you to create innovative new genres and gameplay models.

Casual titles need to maximize their commercial return. Using Gamebryo, developers can more easily put their same title on multiple platforms, increasing their additional revenue potential without significantly increasing their cash outlay.

And since we do technology integrations with other middleware, developers can leverage other technologies and systems for their use, picking additional tech to meet their game needs and distribution restrictions. Remember this post? Allegorithmic's offering is a great example of Emergent partner tech that meets challenges in the download / digital distro space.

So that's the skinny.

(This has turned out to be a pretty high-profile effort, so I'm curious to see what the competitive reaction is. Lately, other companies have been doing a lot of verbatim lifting of EGT messaging and collateral (which is an Unrealistic way to build credibility, and lacks Vision), so I'm curious to see what "me-tooism" comes in response to Emergent's focused efforts with this offering.)

Austin: Emergent Game Technologies is hiring

This is an update to my last post about a Friday (August 22) evening mixer at Dave & Buster's in Austin, TX.

I won't be there, but you should be. Tell 'em I sent you.

The officialness is here, but here's a cut-n-paste of the deets:
We are primarily looking for folks to support our Online Game Server product, but will be taking resumes for other positions as well. We are looking to create a core group of contract developers IN AUSTIN.

We are looking for:
  • Online Service Integration Experts ( XBOX Live, PSN, Wii Online Services)
  • Security and Deployed Testing
  • Networking Experts
  • Distributed Simulation Experience
  • Console Performance Optimization
  • Game Scripting in Python or Lua
Come trade your resume or business card for food and drink and find out more about these opportunities with Emergent.

WHAT: Emergent Meet and Greet Cocktail Hour
WHEN: Friday August 22 5:30PM to 8:30PM
WHERE: Dave & Buster’s
9333 Research Blvd. Suite A600 Austin , TX 78759 512-346-8015

Questions or RSVP to:

kristoffer.singleton[that at sign]emergent[the dot thingy]net
But, really, if you miss the RSVP, don't let that stop you from going. And don't miss the fact that if you've got mad skilz that don't fit in the above buckets, we are still wanting those other mad skilz.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Austin: Emergent is hiring video game professionals

Austin's got a few top-tier video game folks that have recently become available; this message is for them (and anyone else interested in a gig):
Emergent Game Technologies is hiring video game professionals.

Seriously, whether you're technical or art, if you're looking for a gig, we'd like to chat. We even have an event this Friday in Austin, so if you want in on that, you gotta let me know (seriously, it's day after tomorrow).

And, if you're in-between studios, and are blessed with the latitude to take advantage of recent workforce reductions to just hang out and work on that labor of love of yours -- you really should contact me; we've got something special to offer you to help make that happen.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gaming deals

Cheap Ass Gamer has its weekly deals up, and there are a couple in particular of which to take note.

On the games front, if you don't own the earned-excellence that is Call of Duty 4, you can pick it up at Circuit City for $39.99 -- and it's the "Game of the Year" edition, which includes all of the new maps for free.

If you want a console, Circuit City's giving a $30 gift card when you buy any XBOX 360 (now that we're living in mixed SKU/hard drives-ville). If you're a Madden fan (sorry sorry sorry, I just can't do it), at Target you get a $40 gift card when you buy Madden NFL ’09 and either a 60GB or 120GB XBOX 360. Or at Best Buy, you get a free wireless controller when you tag Madden '09 and any XBOX 360.

As an aside, I'm surprised to see the PS3's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots already discounted (even if slightly, at $54.99) at Target.

And while I don't believe PC gaming is actually on the decline, it is a bit sobering to see no PC entertainment titles listed for Target, Best Buy, or Circuit City this week.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Adam travelling to LA

I'm off to Los Angeles for a whirlwind trip for the toy job (EGT), and likely won't be fitting in any auditions or even game developer / publisher meetings while I'm there (and likely couldn't give you any deets if I was).

But for those Web 2.0ers who want to keep lightweight track of me (and for the moderately stalk-y minded), you can follow me on brightkite or twitter (no need to use both - they should be in synch).

By way of abbreviated Emergent Game Technologies updates, BottleRocket Entertainment announced their Splatterhouse resurrection is going to use Gamebryo:

And developers should be excited that Gamebryo licensees get to use Allegrithmic's ProFX procedural texture tools - for free (promotional until the end of September, and the offer excludes MMOs).