Indiana Jones Coming to Next-Gen

28 04 2006

via Gamedaily

LucasArts today announced that an Indiana Jones game for PS3 and Xbox 360 will feature the “revolutionary euphoria behavioral-simulation engine from NaturalMotion.” This new technology allows AI characters the ability to react more like human beings. They can apparently “move and adapt realistically to their given situations on the fly” all done “without the limitations of traditional animation.”

“With euphoria, A.I. drives character behaviors so that there’s a different payoff every time. The depth of this character interaction gives us true next-gen gameplay that you simply couldn’t do with earlier generations of hardware,” said Peter Hirschmann, vice president of product development at LucasArts. “We’ve been working with NaturalMotion since 2004 to help bring their groundbreaking technology to games, and there’s no better character to demonstrate it than Indiana Jones.”

“We have big plans for euphoria, and we are absolutely thrilled to be able to show it off in the first next-generation release from LucasArts,” said Torsten Reil, CEO of NaturalMotion. “LucasArts is an excellent partner with a real passion to raise the bar for next-gen games, and we look forward to working with them to apply euphoria technology to its games for years to come.”

Microsoft to Acquire Massive Inc.

28 04 2006


Doubters of the in-game advertising market, take note. Microsoft is set to acquire Massive Inc. in a deal worth upwards of $400 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

The in-game advertising sector is quickly growing and gaining more prominence in the video game industry as each week goes by. Now in a move that highlights the importance of in-game ads, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is about to acquire one of the leaders in the space, Massive Incorporated.

WSJ anticipates that in-game advertising will start playing a larger role in Microsoft’s Xbox Live service—it’s been rumored that the extra revenue stream could possibly lead to a free, ad-supported version and a “premium” version consumers could pay for that would have no ads. The real impetus behind the acquisition however, believes WSJ, is that Microsoft wants “to grab a bigger piece of the online advertising boom that’s fueling the growth of Google Inc. and others. Microsoft has struggled to take control of a larger piece of that market as Google extends its lead in the business of linking online ads to Internet search results.”

Added WSJ: “The software giant plans to tie its brokering service with Massive’s network, said people familiar with the company’s plan. Microsoft’s long-term goal is to have one online service that advertisers can go to buy ads across a broad range of Microsoft products. That vision may take time to realize, said a person familiar with the company’s plans. For now the Massive network will be part of a palette of advertising offerings Microsoft salesmen will offer clients, the person said.”

EA agree to pay $14.9 million to current and past employees for overtime

26 04 2006

Via Next-gen.Biz

Some 200 entry-level employees will now become hourly workers eligible for overtime payment and a single grant of restricted EA stock.

According to EA, any monies remaining unclaimed from the class action settlement fund will be paid to the Ronald McDonald House Charities and to establish scholarships for female and under-represented minority students wishing to study interactive entertainment and five universities. The publisher has also stated that it does not expect the settlement to have a significant impact on its fourth quarter 2006 financial results.

One of the high profile personalities in the debate over working hours at Electronic Arts was the famed EA Spouse. The anonymous woman brought the debate over working conditions at EA into the spotlight following her blog post in November 2004.
EA Spouse has now come out of the shadows and revealed herself to be Erin Hoffman, wife of former EA programmer Leander Hasty.
“We had received so many excuses, and they had done so much overtime and everyone was so tired,” said Hoffman said.
The couple now work together at 1st Playable Productions, an independent game development studio.

Life as a Game Developer can be a nightmare

26 04 2006

Actually, it is often a nightmare. Here’s somebody who will never, ever, consider making games for a living.

Digra 2007 : Tokyo

25 04 2006

The 2007 world conference of Digital Games Research Association is announced.
Research of digital games and related phenomena has attracted growing interest during the recent years, crossing disciplinary and national boundaries. Since its establishment, Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) has aimed to support the international games research community with academic events and other activities. In 2003 the “Level Up” conference was organised jointly with the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and in 2005 “Changing Views: Worlds in Play” with the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.
On behalf of the DiGRA board, we are delighted to announce that the next DiGRA conference will be staged by DiGRA Japan in Tokyo during September 2007. DiGRA Japan is a newly formed national association bringing together games researchers in Japan. The exact dates and the schedule for the submission of papers will be announced shortly. Please follow DiGRA-Announce and Gamesnetwork mailing lists and information at the website.

Develop 100

21 04 2006

Develop recently published its Develop 100 list –

an annual guide to the world’s most profitable developers, based on UK sales data collated by Chart-Track and ELSPA. has a run-down of all the studios featured. The empiricism of this approach makes the Develop 100 much more interesting and unpredictable than other more subjective guides to the ‘most important’ studios – it is all about money, not reputation or the perceived quality of the games on offer.

As such, there are plenty of surprises. While several generally respected studios lurk in the lower recesses of the chart the top 30 features a number of comparative minnows. UK veteran Travellers Tales, for example, claims the number nine spot thanks to its wonderful Lego Star Wars title, while The Collective takes 15 on the strength of just one title, Star Wars Episode III.
It’s interesting to note that there are 31 UK companies in the chart, suggesting that the domestic industry is a lot healthier than we are often led to believe. Alright, so aside from big names like Rare, Rockstar North and Criterion, some of these companies may not leap immediately to mind when we’re thinking of truly world-respected studios. Plus, more than a few are lackeys to, or local offices of, foreign giants (EA Chertsey, Sony London Studios, etc), but it’s clear Britain is still a key player, a hot-house of competitive development talent.

TIGA event at E3

21 04 2006

TIGA, the independent game developers association, has announced its annual seminar event taking place just before the E3 expo in May, designed to explore opportunities for UK developers in the American games industry.
The US Opportunities Seminar kicks off on Tuesday 9th May with a networking lunch at noon, followed by a series of presentations and discussions on the opportunities and obstacles of working within the US games market.
This year’s event will feature a keynote address from Diane Mermigas of The Hollywood Reporter, who will share some insights into Hollywood’s intentions and ambitions within the games industry, followed by two panels of speakers discussing opportunities in both the premium games market and the budget games sector.
Sony will be providing a presentation on the online market; with general sales figures, statistics and market trends provided by NPD. Additional speakers this year include Terry Thoren, CEO of Vibrant Animation, who will be offering his views on how Hollywood and the animation industry are targeting and aiming to enhance the interactivity of games on next-generation platforms.
Entry to the event is by registration only, and interested parties should visit theTIGA website for further information on attending this year’s seminar.

Microsoft buys UK’s most innovative studio

6 04 2006

Peter Molyneux’ development studio is Microsoft’s latest UK acquisition
Guildford-based developer Lionhead has become the latest addition to the Microsoft Game Studios group, with the studio behind Fable and Black & White being sold to the US platform holder in a deal announced today.
Microsoft and Lionhead previously worked together on Xbox title Fable, which has sold over two million units to date between the original game and the updated Fable: The Lost Chapters, making it into the best-selling role-playing franchise on the Xbox platform.
“We could not be more excited about being part of MGS,” Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux commented in a statement today. “They have long supported our creative vision, and this teamwork resulted in the hugely successful ‘Fable’ franchise.”

“This acquisition gives Lionhead the stability and opportunity to focus on creating world-class next generation titles,” he continued. “We are joining some of the most incredible studios in the industry, the combined talent of which will truly take next generation gaming to a new level.”
Microsoft Game Studios boss Shane Kim was equally effusive in his praise for Lionhead, commenting that “Peter Molyneux is one of the few true visionaries in our industry, and joining us is incredibly important to the future of both interactive entertainment and MGS.”
“Lionhead is a shining example of the innovative and creative talent that has delivered some of the most impactful and unique games experiences to date,” Kim commented, “and I am honored to welcome Peter and the incredible people at Lionhead Studios.”