Get Ready for GDC 2011

By | Events, Gaming

What you need to see at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference:

By Matt Sarrel
Just in case you didn’t know, this year’s GDC takes place at the Moscone Center from Monday, March 28 to Friday March 4th, 2011.  This is the most well attended (and useful) conference for game developers every year and this year a few special things are taking place that I’m really looking forward to.  In addition to private play sessions, exhibitor meetings, and parties, there are some great tutorials on the discipline-specific schedule in programming, design, art, audio, business and management, and production.

– In his first-ever major North American appearance, Access Games‘ Hidetaka ‘Swery’ Suehiro will present a talk on his work making the cult console title Deadly Premonition, explaining “his unique method of architecting games” with reference to the open world horror survival game . The in-depth talk, which will be simultaneously translated from Swery’s native Japanese, “touches upon the 7 points to check if your game’s storyline might already be dead”, also focusing on the detail and interactivity which contributed to the Deadly Premonition experience – one which I thought was essentially a cool story and concept that was poorly implemented (poor camera angles and video quality).

Another lecture that sounds good is ‘Prototype through Production: ProGuitar in Rock Band 3′, presented by Harmonix’s Jason Booth and Sylvain Dubrofsky.  The focus of this talk is how to go from concept to product, specifically “how do you go from an insane idea like ‘Lets teach non-guitarists how to play a real guitar in Rock Band 3?’ to a product in 20 months?’  They “will detail the process used to rapidly prototype this concept and evaluate ideas, through initial prototypes to user testing and final production”, revealing how the team “applied traditional game-play metaphors and techniques to the process of teaching” along the way.

Folks from Pixar are giving several talks, including, ‘Story Images and Character Arcs’, from the Bay Area animation company’s Matthew Luhn, who will discuss “how you can unlock forgotten images and memories to inspire new stories and characters”  and “why, or why not, you may need a character arc for your characters, and if so, how to create successful character arcs to compliment your stories”, using the new toys from Pixar’s Toy Story 3 to demonstrate the use of character arcs, and break down the inspiration behind the new toys.

I always find the postmortem lectures really interesting.  These go into deep detail about games that have already come out and what worked and what didn’t work as far as the project was concerned.  As someone who has run his fair share of software development projects, learning how to run a more efficient project is always key for success.  There’s a bunch of AI related lectures that I want to hit also, plus a few lectures about games and health (either health effect or games used to improve health).  That’s always been a fascinating topic for me personally as I started my career doing IT in a medical research setting, and at one point worked with publishers to donate Nintendo GBA and DS games to help kids relax while getting cancer treatment and dialysis.  It’s a great topic because it smacks all the game-haters right in the face to see the good we can do as a community.


2010 Tech Review

By | Gaming, Social Media

by Roberto Araujo

There’s no doubt that 2010 has been the year for technology, social media and mobility. New gadgets made their debut, social sites hit record numbers of users and the largest amounts of data and traffic were recorded. For all this developments to take place, many teams of geeks had to put their heads together to come up with clever and sophisticated campaigns. The following are these creative campaigns, listed by quarters.

January –  March

In the first few months of 2010 we saw an increase of interest from many consumer and enterprise companies in implementing a social media programs. Social media has proven to be of high value to many businesses and entrepreneurs. This led to Google’s launch of Buzz, a networking tool that promised to displace Twitter, but didn’t follow through growth.  Location based services such as Foursquare and Gowalla, began gaining a positive momentum in these first few months. Worpress proved to be the leader as the blog platform of choice, while Justin Bieber was a regular top trending topic on Twitter, showing signs of his future dominance as the Most influential Twitter Celebrity of 2010.

April – June

Taking advantage of their large number of active users, Facebook launched the “like” button social plug in, which rapidly spread throughout websites. YouTube exceeded 2 billion views a day and decided to also incorporate the “like” button on each of their videos. Meanwhile, people started raising security concerns on Facebook and other sites, which put Facebook in a controlled PR moment.

July– September

We saw the success of the viral “Old Spice Guy” campaign, which began on YouTube and earned hundreds of thousands of views within a few days. Apple, realizing the importance of social networks, launched Ping, which didn’t catch much buzz, but is still striving to survive.  By this time Facebook hit a new record of subscribers with 500 million. This news confirmed a direct battle against Google on the domination of the online space. This came along the realization that users spend more time on Facebook than any other website.

October – December

After several exciting and innovative previous months, people awaited the highly anticipated debut of the “Social Network.” A movie based in the story of Facebook, which ranked number one for the first two weeks, so far has grossed $193.6 million world-wide. Gamification was a trending topic for the month of October, especially considering the Foursquare record of 4 million users. Google hit a new home run by expanding user’s time and shortening the wait time for a query by 2 – 5 seconds. Meanwhile, the soccer World Cup took over the media and out came the vuvuzelas, even made into a YouTube button. November and December marked the months for “internet freedom,” after Wikileaks revealed classified government secret documents. Cyber security was a big concern throughout 2010, but particularly these months after an anonymous group launched DDoS attacks on companies that bailed on Wikileaks. Finally, the year couldn’t end without mention of the Angry Birds fever. People discovered the addictive pleasures of pitting Angry Birds against smug snickering pigs so much that the social game was made into a Play Station and PSP game.

2010: The year in gaming

By | Announcements, Gaming

From the desk of LMGPR gaming consultant Matt Sarrel:

2010 was a pretty sweet year for gamers.  From super sequels to innovative new games, every gamer was sure to find a treat.  Instead of simply continuing down the same path, publishers found new ways to bring us entertainment.  iPhone and Android are now considered viable gaming platforms.  MMO’s are flourishing in the cloud.  Microsoft Kinect and PlayStation Move bring motion controls to those who don’t have a Wii.

While I can’t speak for everyone, here are my top 5 games of 2010:

1.  Call of Duty: Black Ops – After setting records for the top grossing single day sales of any game every, COD: BO did not disappoint.  Not only did I love blowing people’s brains out with a gun that said Sally on it, but the story is worth playing through and online multiplayer means there’s no shortage of newbies waiting for my head shot.

2.  Gran Turismo 5 – The king of racing simulations returns, and while not perfect, it was worth the 4 years to get it.  Race over 1000 cars on 26 different locations and 71 different tracks.  And yes, in rally mode you can flip a car.

3.  Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty – Twelve years in the making and we were not disappointed!  This futuristic real time strategy epic was the best selling PC game of 2010 and, time to get excited, is only the first part of three.

4.  Mass Effect 2 – The magic continued with an entire new galaxy of new characters and witty dialogue in this star traveling action RPG.

5.  Civilization 5 – The best turn based strategy game of all time returned to the PC with several innovations to help you dominate civilization as we know it.

6.  Rock Band 3 – Innovative in that there is a mode where you can really learn how to play guitar or keyboards.  It’s not just a game anymore…

7.  Red Dead Redemption – Journey into a spaghetti western and enjoy an open world of outlandish law breaking.

8.  Heavy Rain – An absolutely gorgeous interactive murder mystery that may have redefined story based gaming as we know it.  The game brilliantly intertwined multiple playable story lines that kept me coming back for more.

9.  Fallout: New Vegas – Not exactly a sequel to the successful Fallout 3, yet still a compelling post-apocalyptic RPG worth playing.

10. Tropico 3 – special mention.  I think I’m the only one who played it. This simulation game allows you to take the reins of a banana republic and choose how to run it.  Military jefe or power to the people – it’s up to you.