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Saturday, March 12, 2005

GDC Xbox Updates

This week saw the 2005 Game Developer's Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, and we finally get the thaw on some good stuff for Xbox.

  • Microsoft's Chief XNA Architect J Allard talked about the "HD Era" in videogames, which will "enable the rock stars of game development to shake up the old establishment and redefine entertainment as we know it.” "HD" ("always connected, always personalized, and always in high-definition") includes:

    • Outrageous hardware. How 'bout "more than a teraflop of targeted computing performance"? A multicore processor architecture? A custom-designed graphics processor (thanks, ATI Technologies Inc.)?
    • Gamer Cards for an all-in-one look at Xbox Live info (and lets you find gamers with similar skills/interests/lifestyles).
    • A new gamers' Marketplace that'll let you get episodic content, game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins and (da-da-da-daaaa) new community-created content, which leads to ...
    • ... micro-transactions! Game developers/publishers and gamers get to charge as little as they want for content. Got an awesome car for PGR3? sell it for 99-cents.
    • Custom playlists. Supporting custom music in Xbox games is no longer on the shoulders of the developers. MS will give you instant access to your media library, and you can play your music to your games.
    • Even better, custom playlists, Xbox Live Friends list, voice chat, etc. are enabled at the chip level -- Developers can just focus on making games (and not juggling packets).

  • Microsoft announced XNA Studio, an implementation that builds on the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System to provide a single workflow/framework/file format for game development, marrying content and development. Now content creators, programmers, management and QA get to stay on the same page, speeding development and deployment of top-tier games. XNA studio adds asset management, defect tracking, project automation and work lists, and is supported by the bigs guns of the gamer middleware industry (AGEIA, Games Alias, Avid/Softimage, Discreet, Havok, Creative, etc.).
  • Bungie Studios is doubling its staff for Halo 3. That's great, but give us the rest of FRICKIN' HALO 2!!
  • Meqon Research AB (the physics engine folks behind Duke Nukem Forever), announced they'll be developing the Meqon Game Dynamics system for the next Xbox.
  • Epic Games announced Microsoft Game Studios will use Epic's Unreal Engine 3 technology and tools for games developed/published by MGS.
  • AGEIA is developing it's multithreaded NovodeX Physics SDK (and industry first) to leverage the multicore architecture of the next Xbox.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is looking like it could add to a powerful comic book resurrection in 2005. X-Men: Legends arguably did it by itself in 2004, and now we'v got the Hulk, Batman Begins, Darkwatch, possibly The Darkness for Xbox Next, and Raven Software's own sequel to their X-Men game. Comic book fanboys, rejoice!
  • Bioware (KOTOR I/II, Jade Empire) was recruiting hardcore at GDC. Yay!
  • Sony promises the PS3 is going to be "easy on developers". They may have a ways to go to catch up to Microsoft's integrated development/workflow/framework offering.
  • Nintendo's "Revolution" console will sport built in Wi-Fi, and (like everyone else) an IBM CPU.

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.


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