GDC has come to a close, and it's certainly been a busy week for news. Sony announced Project Morpheus, their entry into the virtual reality race, as well as some crazy eye-tracking tech. The second Oculus Rift development kit is up for pre-order, Ubisoft announced their Frenchest game yet,Assassin's Creed: Unity, which might be accompanied by another AC title, "Comet." There's a rumor aboutFar Cry 4 involving yetis and elephants, and we got our first look at Borderlands 2 on Vita.
With all the cool tech demos and innovative ideas on display at GDC Play, it's a bit surprising that a 2D side-scrolling puzzle platformer is one of the most worthwhile things to check out. But hey, good games are good games, and that's exactly what Monochroma look like it is.
At first glance, Monochroma invites comparisons to Limbo. Hell, executive producer Burak Tezateser said as much as soon as the demo started. For good reason too: the color scheme made up of hues of black and grey, the small boy protagonist, the unsettling environments -- it all positively smacks of the style popularized by Playdead. However, Monochroma has enough going on that it doesn't need to use these comparisons as a crutch.
Symphony of the Night assistant director and subsequent series producer Koji Igarashi just left Konami to become an independent developer. When Igarashi and the rest of his team began working on Symphony of the Night, they had a similar mentality. "[W]e figured we could do whatever we wanted so long as we treated it as a separate series."
"With action games, especially if it's a franchise, the more you cater to requests and the feedback of the experienced players, the difficulty is set higher," Igarashi explained. "As a result, even if they're players that enjoy action games, it gets increasingly challenging to attract new users."
The team wanted to improve on the controls, which meant eliminating medium staple cheap fall deaths. "I thought it was okay to penalize the player when they fell," he explained, but, "We hated, hate, hated falling to your death." They wanted to focus to be on bosses, enemies, and action rather than staged pitfalls.
Microsoft hasn't given up on PC gaming -- that's what Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer believes, anyway. "A renewed focus on Windows and PC gaming inside Microsoft is definitely happening," he said thi...
One of the neatest touted functionality with the Xbox One is the ability to turn retail consoles into development units, but it's still not something you can with the One now. In a GDC talk, Microsoft Game Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer explained that the company still wants to do it, but with its indie outreach program ID@Xbox, it's not top priority.
Thousands have apparently reached out to sign on with ID@Xbox. "We want to make sure the people that are signed up are getting the most support from us," Spencer explained. "Seeing all the games in development and trying to give the teams feedback on the games as they come through," is the focus, while "further down the road" we'll see a shift towards working on discoverability and the dev kit retail conversion.
"What we're trying to do is facilitate the games coming to the platform as quickly as possible and right now there's been focus on the people that can build today."
You know those games where you're responsible for creating your own entertainment -- the sort that drop you into a world and hope that you're creative enough to craft your own experience? They're usually pretty hit or miss. That's more or less what Gaslamp Games is doing with Clockwork Empires, but the developers are taking away this element of chance by ensuring that whatever scenario arises will be entertaining as all hell.
Clockwork Empires is a sandbox colony builder in a Victorian England setting. But, just because you have the theoretical ability to build an empire, doesn't mean it'll actually happen. Rather than assign tasks to the citizens of your township, you can only sort of suggest jobs for them to do. Most of the time they'll go and harvest resources or whatnot, but if they're feeling particularly uppity, they may just mope about.
That's why it's paramount that you keep those little buggers happy. You're responsible for keeping them fed, giving them shelter, and (most interestingly) balancing any social issues that come about. For instance, if two members from different social classes marry, it'll anger some of the townspeople. It may seem backwards now, but it was very much a real issue in the period the game takes place in.
There's no two ways about it -- Microsoft had a terrible reputation with independent developers during the last console generation. Not that indie's games didn't sell well on the platform, because many of them certainly did. However, the culture and attitude at Xbox was one that didn't mesh with a lot of small teams and many of them documented their experiences in a negative light.
That's not a good position for Microsoft to be in. With the audience for independent games growing at a tremendous rate, the "triple A" development process makes less and less sense from a business standpoint. After all, an indie game needs to move far fewer units to be considered a "success." Nothing needs to sell at an astronomically high rate to be worthwhile.
Microsoft's attempt at repairing this somewhat burned bridge within the indie community was to launch the ID@Xbox -- a program designed to be more accommodating to independent developers and make it as painless and attractive as possible to publish on the Xbox platform. Microsoft held an event at GDC to showcase 25 studios' games that are part of ID@Xbox and we got a chance to talk to some developers about their feelings about the program thus far.
Sony choose GDC as its coming out party for its virtual reality platform, Project Morpheus. The goal was to build interest at a show where just about every developer in the industry is in attendance. And from the look of the lines at their GDC floor booth yesterday, every one of those developers had someone in line to try it out.
We finally got our faces in the headset late last night to try out the new demos that Sony prepared for the show. We were surprised to find that Project Morpheus is already on a level playing field with Oculus Rift, and even shows it up in some places.
I've kept up cold indifference towards Mega Man 9 -- I mean Mighty No. 9 -- since its announcement and Kickstarter success. With the recent alpha footage coming out, though, I'm sold. Look how gorgeous those animations are. Look how smooth.
Mega Man is dead. Long live Mighty No. 9.
Capcom, you need to get right. The last six years have not been good compared to the six prior.
The wonderful Papo & Yo was successful enough for Minority Media to start production on a new game, Silent Enemy, which we haven't seen too much about in the year since its vague announcement.
It appears Minority is also ...
A new alternative controller exhibit made its debut at GDC this year. Amazing selections from 14 independent teams were shown at ALT.CTRL.GDC on the GDC show floor yesterday, and every one of them had my imagination running. ...
Along with Push Me Pull You, I got to finally see what Musclecat Showdown was all about. And. It. Was. Glorious.
You and another muscle bound cat have to strike your owners requested poses, and the person that's able to do them the best wins. The only controls are with the analog sticks on a controller, with each stick representing your cats glorious arms. That's it, that's the entire concept. Super simple, and super fun. Essentially think Pokemon, but instead of fighting, you're posing.
The main draw here is the lovely visual style, which was created by Adventure Time and Bee and PuppyCat artist Natasha Allegri. Here's some snippets of gameplay for you to get a better sense of what the game is all about.
Imagine never having to use the right analog stick to move a game's camera or reticle. Instead, you'd use your eyeballs to aim or move the camera -- simply look at what you want to shoot at or move to.
This sounds like some dream for the future of gaming technology, but Sony has a working eye tracking demo at GDC this year. I had my doubts at first, but after having the infrared camera system calibrated to my eyes, I played Infamous: Second Son...
Last night I got to play a round of Push Me Pull You during the Venus Patrol party here in San Francisco. It was, without a doubt, the weirdest and best time I've had with a videogame in a long time.
So here's the basic premise. You and a partner each control one end of the "sports-monster," a conjoined humanoid Catdog like person. You're going up against two other players in control of the same thing, and to win you need to keep control of a ball on your side of the court the longest for multiple rounds. You're able to shrink or increase the length of your body as needed, and you'll be adjusting sizes a lot as you vie for control.
It's such a ridiculous concept, and it's a little bit disturbing too. It's essentially a f*cked up version of the Tron light cycle battles, expect here you're naked man monsters getting entangled as each team tries to wrap up their entire being around a ball. Videogames are just the greatest.
I wasn't able to capture any video, but there are these animated gifs that can give you some insight to the gameplay over on Push Me Pull You's website.
The Game Developers Choice Awards, the premiere peer-based awards show in the gaming industry, took place today in San Francisco, and the big winner of the night was The Last of Us with Game of the Year.