Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CES 2011

I so dig the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Partly, 'cause I digz the gadetz. But more, because I like to see technology trends positioned or realized.

Since this is primarily a gaming blog, I'm excited about the expected showings from folks like Turtle Beach for audio (I so need an all-in-one pair of gaming headphones); Mad Catz (for higher end, branded peripherals); and Nyko (for broad diversity and accessible peripherals).

And since 3D is "The Thing" (not a fad; I really believe it's A Thing, on the way to the glasses-less version), I expect to see 3D itself become a new platform for gaming hotness, with a lot of showcase media coming from gaming (I wonder how often Call of Duty: Black Ops will be used as the state-of-the-art for 3D gaming?). I expect NVIDIA to make a strong showing on this front.

And it wouldn't be 3D -- and gaming -- without one of the most anticipated forays in this space: Nintendo's new 3DS handheld device. Nintendo will actually be making an appearance at CES this year -- not a normal occurrence for a company that prefers to throw its own standalone quality debut shows.

Could be nifty...

Gamebryo lives!

As an update to this post about the sale of Emergent assets (the company behind the makers of game engine Gamebryo) -- Gamebryo lives again!

South Korean company Gamebase purchased the assets, is creating a new US-based company, and it will be run by the former VP of sales, David Brame.

From Gamebase president JY Park:
"The Gamebryo 3D engine has been a flexible, transparent, dependable solution for video game developers and publishers globally and has been used to develop hundreds of titles. Our first goal is to focus on the company's roots - working closely with customers and providing excellent customer service. This is one of the key reasons why Gamebryo evolved into such a popular development engine."
From new stateside president David Brame:
"This is an exciting day for Gamebryo customers. Over the next few weeks we will be actively communicating with Gamebryo developers around the world to update them on our future plans and activities."
I'm no longer associated with Emergent, but I'm glad to see something I invested some serious time and effort into back from the brink. Gamebase were great partners for us while I was there, and it's good to see the U.S. incarnation in the hands of someone as capable and supportive as Brame.

(Note, Gamebase in South Korea is different from the stateside, a much-needed initiative to make gaming accessible to gamers of all abilities.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gamebryo is dead? Long live Gamebryo!

Vincent Scheib over at his Beautiful Pixels blog links to a bit of news about the sale of assets from Emergent Game Technologies, and offers a bit of his own, typically eloquent commentary.

I'm frankly mixed about the news (assuming it's legitimate). Gamebryo did well for quite a while, and had even greater potential. I'm grateful for my time there, proud of what I was able to accomplish while I worked for them (both in Product Management, and as the producer for their demos), and -- most of all -- grateful for the relationships I forged.

I have an opinion about what happened, and what could happen with the assets from a biz dev perspective -- but I'm going to leave that alone for now.

Feels a bit too "jackals dancing around the kill" right now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Disney Epic Mickey and Comic-Con 2010

I'll be in San Diego for Comic-Con -- Since Disney Epic Mickey will be there, too.

The official line:
Game designer Warren Spector of Disney Interactive Studios' Junction Point and Peter David, award-winning comic writer and author of the upcoming Disney Epic Mickey "Tales of the Wasteland" themed comics, will share their insights on bringing the world of Wasteland to life in the upcoming Wii video game, Disney DigiComics and graphic novel.
Though you'll also want to pay attention to this little nugget from the press release:
The panel will include discussion, gameplay footage, artwork and a sneak-peak at the comics.
I'm just sayin' ...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

E3 2010 - A great and limited view

I'm a bit late on my post-E3 coverage, but that's (mostly) because I was in the thick of it for the event itself.

If you caught the Nintendo press event, yeah, I was that Adam Creighton blessed with sharing the stage with the amazing Warren Spector, as he and Nintendo announced Disney Epic Mickey as an exclusive for the Wii, due holiday of this year.

In addition to the Nintendo event, Warren and I spent probably 12-14 hours each day of E3 doing demos, interviews, and game- and studio-related meetings. The game (thankfully) has been tremendously well received, people are excited by what they've seen, they want to see more, and they have lots of questions.

Hang tight. I'm not the official outlet. ;-)

I will say I am stoked to be working on a game that -- as a core gamer and as a family gamer -- has me so wicked excited.

But that meant I didn't get to see a lot of E3 itself, other than the overall spectacle, and a few moments with various game devs. I still may write a bit about my thoughts of the games and tech of this year's show -- some really good stuff there.

Like the Nintendo 3DS. Spent a lot of time with that. That thing's Teh Shizzle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Junction Point (Disney) hiring environment artists in Austin

Junction Point Studios (a Disney Interactive Studios studio) in Austin, Texas, is hiring a number of temp environment artists.

Are you interested? Are you amazing?

If so, please contact me directly (with your contact and portfolio info) ASAP.

Those who get their resume/portfolio in early will get first shot at interviewing for open positions.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Halo 2: Not a bang, but a whimper

Anyone else play Halo 2 last night, during its supposed swan song on its last eve before being shut down for online play?

Did it suck as much for you as it did for me?

I've admittedly got a bit of a Halo fixation. Partly because I write about games, and it's a juggernaut in the market; partly because I genuinely enjoy the franchise. Enjoyed.

Last night, as Microsoft prepared to kill the game that is allegedly holding the Xbox Live service back (I'm sure it's not because it's potentially eating into other game sales and online play), I tried to get a bunch of long-standing Halo friends together to play.

In the end, there was only me.

See, you had to update Xbox Live to play the game. Then update the title (with artificially downrez'ed retro original XBL update screen, but points for trying). Then update all 4 map packs.

That was too much for people, and they fell away, went back to Modern Warfare 2, and it was just me.

Playing game after game that was only team slayer, and only ever on two maps. Glad I took the time to re-download all of the others.

And, like I posted last night, I was reminded why I don't like playing with those cartoons that make up online anonymous idiocy. I am frightened by how many dysfunctional people don't seem to realize they're racist social troglodytes.

And, Halo 2 evidently isn't dead, yet, as people have been playing it today, well after the midnight (PST) cutoff. Mistake? Mea culpa for a sucky last night? Unholy tryst?

Dunno. Stopped caring. Last night was aw bit of a stake in the heart of my sentimentality. Maybe I'll refresh it offline for my friend's once-a-year offline Halo / Halo 2 weekend, but probably not much beyond that.

Should have gone out with a bang, but it's just kind of fizzling out.

At least people who played last night will supposedly be getting free stuff.

Oh, wait; I haven't seen that, either.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wicked cool video game commercial

Written and directed by Patrick Jean and DPed by Matias Boucard, this may be one of the cooler commercial / video game vids I've seen in some time:

I'd love to link to these two guys, but "DIVISION" is a sucky name for a company when you're trying to Google it, and it turns out there are a ton of "Matias Boucard, Director of Photography" out there. Who knew?

Friday, February 12, 2010

How Street Fighter should look

A lot has been said about this already, so let me add my voice to the throng:
Street Fighter -- the gameplay -- should look like the stylistic trailers with which Capcom keeps teasing us.
Have you seen these? Watercolor! Splashes! Sandblasting!

Like this "Valentine's Day" trailer:


Give us beautiful innovative game visuals with the super fluid gameplay. Oh, and please take us out of "2.5D".

Put Okami, Street Fighter, and Mirror's Edge in a blender, please. Push the "Awesomate" button.

Iterate as needed.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Microsoft Drops Xbox Live Support for Original Xbox Games


In mid-April, Microsoft's pulling the online rug out from under original Xbox consoles and games, including Xbox games playable on a Xbox 360, and the Xbox Originals they sell in the Xbox Live Games Marketplace.

While it sucks that they're going back on Xbox Live support for the awesome that was the backwards compatible games list [sic], it's surprising they're also yanking network support for their Xbox Originals, which are Xbox v1 games downloadable and playable on 360, that they sell on Xbox Live Marketplace (granted, only like 4 of them support mutliplayer, but hey -- it's the principle).

Bigger, though, is Microsoft calling out that this will also include Halo 2. Now, the cynical savvy side of me says H2 (and maybe other Xbox 1 games) are waaay to popular on Xbox Live, and cannabilizing sales on online play of other 360 (and maybe even, specifically, Halo titles).

This is far from conspiracy theory. Back when Microsoft's resident mouthpiece, Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb (, was actually reporting breakout of Xbox Live activity, Halo 2 was far and away more played than 360 titles. He at one point even briefly removed original Xbox games from his list, until people cried foul, and it went back on the report -- but without the unique user data that was pretty damning for Xbox 360 online titles.

Admittedly, holding on to and supporting older tech can slow down forward movement quite a bit (look at Sony's waffling about PS2 support, first supported with what was basically a physical PS2 inside the PS3, and then later removed from post-launch versions of the console).

Worst case, this reduces cost for Microsoft (which is balls as far as benefits for gamers, since it's not like cost savings will be passed on).

Part of me is hopeful that the upcoming breaking changes that are "incompatible with" original Xbox games will be so compelling that folks don't even miss the dropped support for original Xbox titles.

And honestly, as a guy working in games, I find myself playing fewer and fewer older titles on a recreational basis, since it's kind of like designing the next version of an operating system and using Windows ME as my reference materials.

But, I am concerned Microsoft is making this change "because they can" -- what are gamers going to do?

Anyway, here's the official announcement from Xbox LIVE GM Marc Whitten (Notwen):

A Letter from Marc Whitten: Discontinuation of Xbox LIVE for Original Xbox Games

Dear Xbox LIVE Members,

On April 15 we will discontinue the Xbox LIVE service for original Xbox consoles and games, including Xbox v1 games playable on Xbox 360 and Xbox Originals. I want to start by saying this isn't a decision we made lightly, but after careful consideration, it is clear this will provide the greatest benefit to the Xbox LIVE community.

Seven years ago we laid out our vision for the connected console when we launched Xbox LIVE. We believed then that the power of the Internet to connect people would revolutionize living room entertainment. It started with amazing multiplayer games, and we've since seen that bet pay off again and again with the launches of Xbox 360, Marketplace, Netflix and powerful social features like Facebook, Twitter and None of this would have been possible without the success of LIVE as a multiplayer gaming network.

There’s no greater example of the power of the Xbox LIVE community than the “Halo” franchise. “Halo 2” has had an amazing run on LIVE, with a dedicated community more than five years after launch and well into the next generation of consoles. It has fundamentally changed the way we play video games. And while it’s difficult to see that run come to an end, the “Halo” franchise continues to act as the benchmark for multiplayer gaming in this generation, with “Halo 3,” “Halo 3: ODST” and soon “Halo: Reach” on Xbox 360.

Your Xbox LIVE community has grown to 23 million strong. And as we look down the road, we’ll continue to evolve the service with features and experiences that harness the full power of Xbox 360. To reach our aspiration, we need to make changes to the service that are incompatible with our original Xbox v1 games. We will contact the Xbox LIVE members directly impacted by this change and if this includes you, I encourage you to check your LIVE messages and associated e-mail account over the coming weeks for more details and opportunities. We view you as a partner in this process.

We’ll share more details soon, but in the meantime I want to assure you that the best is yet to come for Xbox LIVE. I believe we’ll look back on 2010 as a landmark year in gaming and home entertainment, and I couldn't be more excited about what we have in store with “Project Natal” and LIVE. The LIVE community is the driving force behind everything we do, and it’s because of the community that ground-breaking experiences on Xbox continue to be possible.

See you on LIVE,

Marc Whitten
Gamertag - Notwen