Cloverfield is an FPS

15 02 2008

Cloverfield ARG

Keith Stuart ruminates on Cloverfield’s similarity to Half Life over at the Guardian Games Blog:

I watched it last night, and was astounded by the number of similarities between Valve’s alien invasion series and the digi-cam monster movie. Just as Lost is essentially a survival horror game, Cloverfield is a narrative FPS, employing the visual tricks, shock tactics, weapons and creature concepts we all recognise from sci-fi shooters.

The piece contains a lot of spoilers between that and this:

Whatever, Abrams is at the vanguard of this new generation of movie and TV creatives who’ve had their visual sense filtered, not through grindhouse sleaze flicks or arthouse auteur genius, but through playing games.

Black Rock’s First Disney Game

15 02 2008

Black Rock Studio

Black Rock Studio have revealed their first Disney Interactive Studios game:

First game from Black Rock (formerly Climax Racing) is off-road racer Pure

Obviously building on their existing strengths, but I wonder what kind of spin the game will acquire from Disney.

Unreal Engine for Non-Games Applications

15 02 2008

Dallas Cowboys

Via Develop comes news of the Unreal Engine being licensed to create walkthroughs of stadiums. The link to Mark Rein’s February piece for Develop quotes them:

“It renders 30 frames per second instead of one per hour – that’s 3,000 times faster than traditional animation methods. This makes it a first (and only) in the architectural industry.”

(The image above shows a non-realtime, non-UEngine render of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium).

Epic, as well as a startup or two, really started pushing this stuff around 2002/2003. I’ve seen architecture students dismiss earlier versions of the engine as completely impractical for anything related to professional architecture, but realtime rendering, interactivity and smoother integration with third paty 3D packages was bound to push engines in this direction. It’s going to be an interesting transition to watch.

Off to GDC 08

14 02 2008

GDC 08

Pixel-Lab will next week effectively pack up and be off for 10 days to the States.  David & I will be attending GDC, the largest games industry conference, and are exited that as a company we will be there in force.

I am speaking at the IGDA Government & Associations Summit on the Monday, and at the IGDA education event on the Monday & Tuesday.

As well as having tonnes of meetings on regional support, tv and virtual world cross overs, pitching our new training, and generally getting about.  If you are going make sure to add us on MyGDC, if not we will see you when we get back.

apologies for lack of posting next week 🙂

GAS Idea Takeaway
The goal of this seminar is to identify what issues are best addressed by government and support organizations and to find strategies to deal with them. It is also a networking opportunity for the participants. The seminar is also intended as a source of inspiration that lasts.

Intended Audience
A broad definition of the intended participant is: someone who is involved with developing the structural factors for game developers, but not necessarily developing games herself. This includes civil servants in cultural-, economic development and technology fields, trade associations, policy-makers, researchers (cultural studies rather than tech or design), active IGDA-members (chapter organizer).

Education Event – Session Description
This 2-day summit will focus on nuts & bolts practices in curriculum and teaching methods for game development education. There will be two tracks, one aimed at novice educators just entering the game education genre, the second for experienced educators looking for additional tools teaching game design and development. There will be lectures, model curricula, case blasts, post-mortems, interactive hands-on sessions as well as great opportunities for networking and discussion throughout the workshop. Attendees will leave with useful examples and ideas on how to best develop and/or reinvigorate game development curricula in their institution.

Idea Takeaway
The goal of this workshop is to address educational issues by sharing examples of best practices in teaching and curricula. It is our hope that participants will collaborate and help create guidelines for the growing community of educators teaching video game design and development.

Intended Audience
The workshop has value for teachers, students and developers interested in a dialog between education and industry professionals. This workshop is aimed at higher education practices.

Tech Strategy Board Offers £7m

13 02 2008

Tech Strat

More potential funding for games projects:

The Technology Strategy Board, sponsored by the UK government’s Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, has announced that up to GBP 7 million will be made available in grants for projects that could be developed by games companies in the UK.

Amateur Versus Indie?

13 02 2008


It started with a GameSetWatch op ed:

The gaming press is conflating two trends in game development into a single category that they label the Independent Game. The first is commercial oriented, casual, independently produced games by people attempting to make a living from writing and designing games without committing to a publisher. These I’m happy to call Indie Games, and they operate much in the same way that the independent labels in the music industry, or independent studios in Hollywood.

The second is subversive, modded, copycat, patched together from pre-built parts, non-commercial or anti-commercial. Amateur game development is done by people who are scratching an itch, who can’t not write computer games, who want to see their ideas in pixel form ahead of trying to generate a return.

and went on to Gamesutra too. The comments on both have been just as polarised as the article itself, but I think he may have hit on a useful distinction, even if it is very rough right now. He’s absolutely right in saying “Most modding efforts are amateur games although their creators may deny it”, and I think the difference between an “arthouse” game and an indie effort aimed at commercial success is going to become more apparent over time as more indie games turn up via digital distribution and others languish in beta on obscure corners of the net.

People seem to feel attacked by the division, as if their work is being called valueless. Some developers are offended by the idea that their games might have no commercial value, and others are offended by the idea that their games have no cultural value.

I don’t think that’s what he’s getting at. Aesthetes and businessmen coldly eyeing each other is an outright caricature of the indie games scene, but such a controversial and quite arbitrarily polarised division raises an interesting question worth examination by all indie developers: Are people doing it for the money or their art? I’m certain most people would answer both, but if they had to give one up, which would it be?

(Pictured: Braid, which as an XBLA game with some very deep thinking and concepts behind it seems to be the most prominent example of both extremes together).

EA Testing Centre in Madrid

13 02 2008


EA are streamlining their testing and localisation operations to a centre in Madrid:

Electronic Arts, has opened a European test centre in Madrid, which will employ between 200 and 400 people from 20 European countries.

According to Sky News, Madrid was chosen over 27 other cities, including London, Prague and Warsaw, because of its geographical location and popularity as a travel destination.

“We decided several years ago that we needed to centralise all of our services,” said EA’s international VP for development services, Jaime Gine.

CC image from maveric2003’s flickr.

US Game Design Scholarships

13 02 2008

Carnegie Mellon

AIAS have announced $2500 scholarships for game design students:

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences has announced the creation of the Dr. Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund, established to support students pursuing careers in game design, development and production.

The fund, honoring Carnegie Mellon University professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design Dr. Randy Pausch, will provide four USD 2,500 scholarships to students attending accredited universities.

Creative commons image from brunkfordbraun’s Flickr.


13 02 2008


There they go, chipping away a little more at the uncanny valley. Not long now until we start climbing the other side, but all those photo-real, ersatz humans are going to act in a downright spooky way unless we can bootstrap AI to match the standards of their appearance.

GTA IV Wanted Posters

13 02 2008

GTA IV Poster

Bruce Everiss points out a viral campaign for GTA IV, and several reasons why it’s a well orchestrated one. The comments are a bit of a standoff over old media and new media, and the GTA IV campaign is an example of both working together.

I really wouldn’t like to look like Nico (The character on the poster) and live in the US right now, because most people will only register the word “wanted” and the face 🙂