Itís been a busy two weeks at GameZombie with GDC and PAX East back to back. Both conventions had some great content. Iíll go over what I saw at GDC here, and leave PAX for later in the week.
The first booth I visited was NeuroSky, who were debuting their new Mindwave device. While the device doesnít yet replace a conventional controller, it is a cheap alternative for research into how people play games. They had a few demos on the exhibit floor, and the Mindwave looks like an interesting direction for gaming. At only $100, I wouldnít be surprised to see some interesting uses of the Mindwave soon.
Octodad is a weird indie game developed at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. I was a bit intrigued by the bizarre-looking controls and quirky music in trailers. Itís a silly idea mixed with an interactive environment. The challenge comes not in the puzzles but in controlling this land octopus. Itís available free on the site for anyone to check out.
I was lucky enough to watch the GDC award show and got to see Notch go up and accept five awards for Minecraft. Weíve plugged this game before, but if you still havenít played then you need to give it a try.
Tera had a playable demo I was lucky enough to get my hands on. Theyíve made several efforts to improve on Ďclassicí MMO gameplay. Another journalist and I played with two of the developers in one of the dungeons. While itís always a bit overwhelming to jump into the middle of an MMO like this, the UI was understandable, and there was a system that suggests combos for your character as you attack to make combat easier. The AI seemed to react well to attacks, rather than standing around weathering attacks. The boss battle the encounter ended in was a fairly epic affair, which required some quick attention on all our parts. The boss was over four stories tall, and the developers said there will be tons of giant monsters like that. Something they focused on was that enemies would telegraph big attacks so attentive players can avoid them. There will also be a dynamic encounter system, allowing for more re-playability for veteran players. Overall it looks like a cool MMO; I look forward to seeing the game when it releases.
GDC was a great conference. One of the main draws were the talks and round table discussions. I was lucky enough to attend the Better Writing in Games Workshop as well as one of the writing round tables. Almost a third of the exhibit floor was career booths where attendees could talk with recruiters. Especially impressive was the Blizzard career booth, and it had people lining up the entire convention. If you are a student, itís a great idea to try and muster up the money for GDC just for the career-building aspect. I wished I had more time to explore the convention floor, but before I knew it I was on the plane back to Wisconsin. Before I could really relax, it was already time to leave for PAX East. We took several writers, so youíll be seeing multiple articles this next week detailing our experience there.