Adam Creighton's logo Adam Creighton
Other Blogs:
American McGee
Beautiful Pixels
Hideo Kojima
Hitachi Wasabe's Xbox 360

Xbox 360 Marketplace Updates: (

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

Adam Creighton, Computer and Video Gaming (Subscribe)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tokyo Game Show 2009

Crap in a kolache, I totally blew past The Tokyo Game Show, which is normally a pretty important gamer milestone (largely consumer, though there are a couple of biz-dev-ish days that precede the bulk of the show).

I blame it on GDC Austin, and a wealth of games coming out as the holiday season groans to life (Halo ODST, Bowser's Inside Story, Scribblenauts, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and L4D DLC) -- all of which I'm playing in rotation.

But for what it's worth, despite fewer games and lower attendance at this year's show, here are a handful of things from the event that floated my boat:
  • Natal buy-in -- Nay say as you will about motion controllers (I won't), but the train has left the station, and Microsoft for one is truly making it core to their business (I don't yet feel quite the same about Sony's offering, which doesn't even have a name yet). To add weight to the tech, at TGS Microsoft paraded 7 big-gun Japanese developers who are supposedly bought into Natal. This included Capcom's head of R&D Keiji Inafune (Dead Rising); Namco Bandai's GM Yozo Sakagami; Tecmo's Keisuke Kikuchi (Rygar); Kojima Productions's Kenichiro Imaizumi (Metal Gear Solid 4); Sega's Toshihiro Nagoshi (Monkey Ball); FromSoftware's Masanori Takeuchi (Ninja Blade); and Konami's Naoki Maeda.

  • Epic Games expands to Japan -- Sure, it's largely a support organization, but there's now way it's going to stay that way. And with top game dev talent in-country (and with recent, hefty, in-country game dev layoffs), the makers of the Unreal Engine are well positioned to make use of ground forces to directly address local game tastes, and conceivably work more closely with Japanese-HQed Sony and Nintendo.

  • Nintendo Wii price drop -- I'm not sure what I found more interesting -- Nintendo's price drop of the Wii to $199, or their brilliant timing of making the announcement during Sony's TGS press conference (which felt a bit lackluster anyway, and really lost live-blogging steam once their competitor's price drop was announced).

  • Square-Enix and billing innovation -- This was interesting, and got poo-pooed by a lot of gamers. Since I'm a financial services tech guy who moved into the game industry, and spent years in my previous life trying to push gaming payment solutions (I was told, "there's no money in that"; so I left), it's good to see a high-profile company raise awareness of the infrastructure innovations that must happen for games to evolve -- it's not just about hardware and game design innovation.

  • Universal video capture for 360 games? -- This one slipped a bit under the radar, but, allegedly, a gamer made a sideways comment about not building vid capture functionality into their game -- "... why work on something that the platform holder is already developing".

    Video capture, by itself, doesn't really float my boat (what is with me and boats, lately?) -- but theater capture (a la Halo 3) does. Why? Because this kind of capture captures (erm) the game data -- not just a video feed of the game being played. This lets you do all sorts of wicked cool things like play the scene over and over from multiple angles, from multiple cameras, speeding up and slowing down motion, etc., with a negligible memory footprint (especially when compared to raw video).

    Make that available in the Xbox XDKs for developers, and not only do you have cool functionality for gamers, but really useful stuff for game devs as they debug, test, and iterate on polishing their titles for gamers. This is tech on which to keep an eye.

  • Games -- Hey, I'm a gamer, so even if things weren't new, per se, I get stoked for new content for titles I like. For me, this included Snoopy Flying Ace (Snoopy versus the Red Baron on XBLA); Ni no Kuni (NDS RPG from Level-5 Studio (freaking) Ghibli); Dead Rising 2 (zombie games are not "old and busted"); Crackdown 2 (sequel to one of the most underrated games evahr); Alan Wake (I will not lose faith in this game); New Super Mario Bros. (co-op Wii franchise goodness); L4D2 (what is with this franchise? There are so many things that should make this not work, and I. Can't. Get. Enough.); and Dante's Inferno (a classic-made game; I hope it's success signals a Watership Down RTS).
Sorry for you letting you down on the real-time updates, Gaming Faithful. Still friends?

Anyway, get more retcon coverage from people here, here, and obviously here.

(And apologies to any folks in the kolache industry.)

Labels: , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Friday, September 18, 2009

AGDC: The Loner

I made one session amidst the day of mind-numbing negotiations, and that was Damion Schubert's "The Loner":
"This talk explores one of the more interesting puzzles of massively multiplayer game design: why do so many people choose to play these games alone? How should designers reach these customers? How important is solo play to games? Should game designers try to entice solo players to enjoy group mechanics like raiding, sieges or PvP? Or are MMOs destined to become 'massively single-player games'?"
I've known Damion (casually) for years, and I'm constantly impressed by his digging into the tougher (and/ or more important) game design challenges, with concrete takeaways. I don't like to summarize his talks, because theres so much rich content there. But I will anyway. Check out is blog,, for more of wisdom and wittyisms.

This talk was about the shift over the last five years in MMOs toward providing (really, requiring) solo play in addition to the "massive". He identified several types of "Loner" - both legitimate (personality type or good game design) and illegitimate (broken game states). Damion offered a large number of concrete design techniques that could help make great games (and avoid game-killing design mistakes)

Damion made an important observation that the "massive" is the differentiation for MMOs - "We can't compete in any other area". Despite this, it's not even an option to create an MMO without a solo aspect.

He also covered bits of psychology and usability -- like, many people don't want to learn publicly; but even more, they don't want to be embarrassed publicly.

Damion made some important real-world data analogies to MMO design (traffic, bars, casino design) that would serve game designers well to consider.

There are also gradations of solo players. Many people (like me) choose to play socially with friends, but solo if friends aren't online

Sociopaths, at their simplest, don't recognize social norms for the space they're in. But everyone who's new to a given MMO is a sociopath, until the designer explicitly trains them otherwise (you don't know the social norms for the new space until you're taught them, and they're ingrained). People who don't change or don't care need to be retrained, channeled, or booted.

From a game design perspective, being "a Loner" is OK; forced into being lonely is not, and is a borked game state.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Thursday, September 17, 2009

AGDC: Wizard101 - Lions and Tigers and Ninja Pigs, Oh My!

After a wicked busy (but productive) burst of partner and Customer meetings, I went to the post mortem for licensee KingsIsle's title, Wizard101 - "Wizard101 - Lions and Tigers and Ninja Pigs, Oh My!":
"In this post-mortem, WIZARD101 creator J. Todd Coleman discussed the challenges of making a kid-focused MMO, and the role of iterative design in discovering a games personality. How do you blend family-friendly characters, a cinematic combat system, and a collectible card game into a cohesive virtual world? Find out as the director discusses what worked (and what didn't) in KingsIsle's quest to introduce persistent world gaming to a new generation of gamers."
The game is tween MMO that runs lightweight on a PC, it's an 8 Mb download, and streams.

You might have seen the Game Developers Magazine article on the Wizard101 post mortem, but if you haven't, I encourage you to check it out.

One of the things I found particularly interesting from a planning / pre-production standpoint was their plan to create a game that had 3 areas of focus -- and if some 800-pound gorilla launched during their 3-year cycle, they would shift their focus to 1 or two of the other areas of focus. Very savvy from a risk-mitigation perspective.

What's Unique:
  • Personality (the game's got flavor)
  • Combat (card-based)
  • The World (The "spiral mechanic" - which allows for creation of oddly themed expansion worlds and side quests - is brilliant)
  • The story (At the same time, there is a single narrative thread-- as opposed to the typical MMO trope of multiple mini stories -- that keeps things cohesive
The game is ultimately about saving the world, with stark lines between good and evil, and each player is the hero.

Persistence? Respawning? Who cares? It's all about keeping it fun for the individual kid player.

The names in Wizard101 may be the greatest part of the game (Samoorai? Sherlock Bones? Meowriarty? Awesome.)

Combat is turn-based, cinematic, and uses a card collecting mechanic (the goal was approachable like Toontown, looks like Yu Gi O, plays like older Final Fantasy).

On the progression of the battle system, Coleman said they created a physical card game for focus testing with kids (sounds like they did a lot of focus testing throughout pre- and production). Next was a 2D prototype that let them further focus test the gameplay, and the AI. Then they did a canned cinematic to show how it would work together. Then they integrated everything.

What Went Right:
  • Scope - 30 people, and linear play made for needing less assets
  • Prototyping helped refine mechanics
  • Digital download/FTP mechanism for distribution
  • Minimum spec machine - Coleman asserts that kids get the lowest quality machine in a household; interestingly, he said this also enabled them to unexpectedly hit a chunk of the burgeoning netbook market
  • Steady, ongoing launch (as opposed to running up to a launch, getting big numbers, then dropping off sharply)
He showed comparative stats via that I'm going to have to dig into a bit more.

What Went Wrong:
  • Modular world building (bland, and the supposed re-use that drove the decision wasn't worth it)
  • Micropayment model (not enough variety at launch, not enough price points at launch)
  • Stats & Metrics ("too much is as bad as too little"; they had to many probes everywhere)
  • Design for growth (technology is scalable, but the design is not; this is due to things like using % for growth rather than absolute numbers, which causes problems when you need to raise your level cap)

There are social differences in a kids MMO - like for kids, everyone is a friend - but it's different (they'll friend you, but they won't socialize).

They offer a family pricing plan (Yay! Console service providers? Can you please do this?)

Labels: , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: Lead with Your Gut: How Courage and Common Sense Improve Efficiency

I had to duck out early for a partner meeting, but I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to catch any bits I could get from the AGDC session, "Lead with Your Gut: How Courage and Common Sense Improve Efficiency":
"This session provides insight into how studios can gain project efficiencies by communicating more effectively and engaging in constructive conflict. Using the trials and successes at Next Level Games, learn how efficiency drops and work gets derailed when people work in silos, don't communicate or 'assume' they know what's going on. Getting questions on the table at the beginning and throughout the project, along with planning for more face time, creates efficiencies that will reclaim hundreds of lost hours. Attendees will learn how common sense and the commitment to applying these principles consistently will put their team in a better position to turn out a superior product. It may sound simple, but if it was so easy, why isn't everyone doing it?"
Edoardo De Martin, Studio General Manager of Next Level Games, is an impressive fella. He was honest about his own experiences, shortcomings, and costs of genuine leadership (and the lack thereof).

He was a non-gaming leader poached into Black Box Games (then EA). Kudos to BB for recognizing talent outside the industry and hiring it into a senior position. Doesn't happen nearly enough.

Edoardo was actually going to leave the game industry and its burnout work ethos, until Next Level approached him -- and he said he wouldn't unless they did things differently.

This "differently" largely revolves around what Edoardo calls coaching, but not the touchy feely vapid non-coaching that tends to give the vocation and skill set a bad rap. What he described is akin to what I probably called mentoring leadership for the development teams I managed in past lives.

Other principals of his:
  • Avoid the "squish" (neither upper management or staff are happy with you) - naiive guys take it, but good leaders leave
  • Make then accountable (requires respect, integrity, constructive conflict, continuous learning)
  • Lead through action (have an idea? Act on it - quickly and consistently)
Edoardo reduced leadership in the games industry to business leadership (too often reduced/compartmentalized as producer) and creative leadership (same for game director) - which really requires purposeful conflicts to create genuine collaboration and work two very differnet leadership styles.

(Then I had to leave. So I didn't get all the "how to fix its". I need to call Edoardo.)

Labels: , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: The Universe Behind World of Warcraft

Day 2 of AGDC started with the Blizzard keynote, "The Universe Behind World of Warcraft":
"Design and implementation is only part of the process in running a massively multiplayer game. Maintaining the player base and achieving sustained growth requires a collective and consistent effort from numerous departments beyond the development team. This discussion will offer an in-depth look at the operational complexities of running a large-scale MMO, including some specific lessons Blizzard Entertainment has learned with World of Warcraft."
This was the third in a 3-year Blizzard series, starting 2 years ago with a design principles, followed up a year ago with the business side, and this year with the development and operational side. I've been at all 3. There should be an achievement for that.

Interestingly, the Warcraft team was working on now-defunct title, Nomad. Ithink I'd heard this before, but seeing the concept art again made me whistful for what might have been.

The talk revolved around detailed descriptions, charts, and numbers of all of the Blizzard WoW teams. While all of that is hugely interesting to me, more interesting is Blizzard's cultural principle of building the organization (and each department, and each team) around the individuals - not just slotting people into rigid org chart slots (no matter how often they may change).

I jotted down a bunch of the numbers and detailed org charts, and might post those later (maybe; that takes work). But the main takeaway is the structuring principle above, along with a recognition of the sheer complexity of the company which requires several discreet business units - which are uniquely organized, and appropriately (numbers-wise) staffed to successfully accomplish their charter.

And this was just about the Warcraft organization, Diablo and Starcraft have equivalent teams. One cool tidbit was the concept of strike teams from other game teams making sure game teams aren't getting too close to their game - at the game's expense.

And despite Blizzcon tickets being sold, the event operates at a significant loss - but to huge marketing gain.

Labels: , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Game Developers Conference Austin: Day 1

Another video, now that the Game Developers Conference Austin has kicked off?

Sure. Why not.

Labels: , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: Making an XBLA Game in 6 Months: A Splosion Man Postmortem

(Placeholder; full post coming when I get back to a PC.)

My final session of the day was "Making an XBLA Game in 6 Months: A Splosion Man Postmortem":

"Coming off the award-winning PC and Xbox Live Arcade title, THE MAW, Austin-based indie developer Twisted Pixel embarked on an unconventional XBLA title called SPLOSION MAN. In this in-depth postmortem, the lead programmer and lead designer look at how the splode-happy gameplay of the title evolved, including what went right and wrong during the project?s hyper-aggressive 6 month schedule, and lessons for indies wanting to make console downloadable games."

I'm a big fan of this game, so I was stoked to attend.

There were 4 full-time, 4 part-time people on the team for 6 months.

What went well: Iteration, Prototyping, Focus, Experience, and "One Level"

They had the game playable
The entire game is playable in the tools

"Ugly and quick"

Had room for only one in the schedule, so they chose "polish".

For milestones, they put harsh internal deadlines that were independent of the publisher milestones.

They made tough cuts (from 75 to 50 levels) prioritized, and (if necessary) re-prioritized.

Folks on the team were experienced, and people responded to that experience, check egos, and be open to criticism.

"One Level"
(Basically the vertical slice)

What went wrong
[I'll update this soon.]

Labels: , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: Emerging Trends in Gameplay: The Blurring Lines Between Casual And Hardcore

After a needed break from sessions for work meetings on the Exhibition floor, I ducked in to "AGDC: Emerging Trends in Gameplay: The Blurring Lines Between Casual And Hardcore":

"The line between what has traditionally been thought of as 'casual gamer' and 'hardcore gamer' has blurred considerably over the past few years, forcing developers to re-examine various gamer groups and their approach to marketing. Jon Radoff presents new behavioral gameplay data across multiple platforms and gamer groups, challenging the tired dichotomy of 'casual versus hardcore' and illustrating that gamers are more diverse than ever before. Providing analysis of current behavioral data, Jon will also help to answer the question of how to more effectively deliver and market a product to these various gamer groups."

While the info that the classification of games ("casual" versus "hardcore", etc.) isn't new news, Radoff had some great data, a la

While not a hardcore user, I've been on gamerDNA since I think the beginning, and I have been continuously impressed with their broad scope of intelligent data collection and data mining, and what they do with it (have you seen their Twitter heatmap?).

Radoff separated gamers into different segments for discussion, like social gamers. Play time for guild members in an MMO, for example, is far far higher than non-guild members. In addition, social gaming shows up in unexpected places (like Rock Band, as opposed to, say, Guitar Hero 3).

This resonates with me, because I'm a very social gamer. If I'm not playing a single-player title, I'm playing a multiplayer title because I want to touch-base with people -- to reconnect.

He also suggested breaking games into thematic segments, rather than gameplay types. His example was Bioshock, which should essentially have been a core game, but had play trends more akin to Rock Band interest.

His follow-on was each game has its own segmentation (social versus non-social, thematic tastes, brand-loyal and genre-loyal, competitive).

Radoff showed some great data for Halo 3 that is gold for biz dev, community management, and marketing folks. For example, DLC caused measurable spikes in player interest, but not as much among genre or franchise fans.

Interesting side tidbit: of the top 10 games also played by World of Warcraft players were Fallout 3 and Warhammer Online. Interestingly, Left4Dead consistently charted as a highly also-played among MMO players

Since 5/31/2009, Twitter has had a 7.6% weekly compound growth in tweets about games. That is phenomenal data. Just think about the analogy of a mutual fund.

Labels: , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: From Dragons and Daggers to Kart Racing, Cooking and Concerts...It's a Whole New MMO World

AGDC kicked off in earnest with the keynote, "From Dragons and Daggers to Kart Racing, Cooking and Concerts...It's a Whole New MMO World":

"In MMO development, companies can slip into habitual processes derived from targeting the same audience over and over. This session will explore Sony Online Entertainment's first tween/teen title, Free Realms, including market research, focus testing, business intelligence, online and retail distribution, and customer acquisition and retention strategies. Attendees will learn about the challenges and lessons learned when creating a full-blown MMO for kids together with a ground-breaking new business model; and how developers can re-educate their teams to move from stagnant and dated MMO design toward mass market success."

I like John Smedley - I think he's a sharp guy who's accomplished a ton for SOE and for the game industry (gamer gripes for Star Wars Galaxies aside).

To set context, Smedley shared some traditional MMO statistics (a la games like EverQuest) - like 33 is the average age of players, 85% are male, 15% are female, and SOE wanted to tap into more of the female / kid gamer market - thus birthing Free Realms, a free-to-play tween MMO, which represents a significant portion of SOE's new direction (DC Universe Online notwithstanding).

Free Realms is fascinating to me for a number of reasons.

First, I like the blue ocean(ish) aspirational aspect of the title.

Secondly, Smedley and a lot of the folks working on the game are family folks with kids, working to create a safe game that everyone can play. I appreciate they're working to keep it safe.

I like how serious SOE is about monetizing Free Realms as a free-to-play, genuine powerhouse of a worldwide brand, and paying attention to the significant differences in this gamer market.

To this end, they've really pushed formal usability testing (daily use of an on-campus focus testing lab, changing interfaces and user experience quickly to adapt to what the data indicates, etc.).

FR is a micro-transaction-based, with in-game items (clothes to pets to items that help your chosen profession, etc.), and I was surprised that they're doing back-end revenue share with retailers - which evidently is going very well. There is also in-game advertising, that seems to be tastefully handled, and largely within the Sony family.

There were also some compelling stats and anecdotes for the efficacy of TV ads for their target demographic.

Age breakdown of Free Realms players (to compare to traditional numbers above):
  • <13:51%
  • 13-17:29%
  • 18-24:12%
  • 25-34:5%
  • 35-44:2%
  • 45+:1%
Smedley could not emphasize enough how much data mining they do. Sounds like they're doing the business intelligence analysis to do something cool with it.

There's also some interesting gender data in the mining they've done. Boys and Girls are different. Shocking. (But not as shocking as those who pretend they're not. <flame/>)

Labels: , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: The Blurst of Times: How to Make a (Shader-Heavy, Physics-Based, 3D) Game in 8-Weeks

Heading back to the indie summit, I attended the very polished (and perhaps most important) session so far, "The Blurst of Times: How to Make a (Shader-Heavy, Physics-Based, 3D) Game in 8-Weeks":
"Matthew Wegner and Steve Swink of (Flashbang Studios) discuss how it is possible to create games like MINOTAUR CHINA SHOP and OFF-ROAD VELOCIRAPTOR SAFARI in an 8-week production cycle. You'll be surprised to learn that each Blurst game includes a two-week prototyping phase, multiple publicly playable beta versions, rigorous user testing, and detailed stat tracking and analysis. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that each game is produced with the team working 10am-3pm, Monday through Thursday. It's AAA game development in microcosm; each game is an experiment, both in production and design. Come reap the intellectual benefits of the results of's rapid fire approach."

The company is 6 people, and they, for example, spent 4 months on one of their bigger games, Jetpack Brontosaurus.

But this 8-week production cycle as the norm (goal?) is impressive, and is broken into 2-week prototyping, 5-week production, 1-week launch segments. That's a wicked little amount of time, and the company has to be laser-focused to make it.

Granted, you can arguably do quite a bit with a 6-person company, but there are principles that apply regardless of company size. (Think "The Four-Hour Work Week" or "The Cluetrain Manifesto".)

Flashbang Studios really seen to have a holistic attitude toward the company and employee quality of life (cross-fit memberships, etc.), a ridiculous amount of fun and respect, and (outside-in) seems to be the kind of company to which all companies should aspire. That may just be due to Wegner and Swink, but as a company's leadership goes, so goes the company.

Blurst puts a lot of emphasis on higher-level working efficiency, high-intensity work blocks.

They implemented 10:05-3:30, Monday-Thursday work days for 8-weeks, which created intense focus and productivity (Fridays are Google-style personal development days).

Along with this they recommend 48-minute time-boxing (not unique to them, but their discipline with them might be), Growl as a communication tool, real-time source control commits and notifications, company-wide stand-up meetings (with goals captured individually via custom Google widget and shared publicly, including how you do against them), pivotaltracker (which is rigidly Agile-based, but worked for them), an open office layout where everyone could talk to each other and collaborate instantly, etc. (they don't use bug reporting software, which is unique).

I had to leave the session early, which bums me out, so I hope to catch up with the guys at the show later.

(Blergh. This post doesn't capture the awesome of the session. Need to think how to do that.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 1 comment(s)  |  Review 1 comment(s)

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

AGDC: Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers

The final indie summit session I attended was "AGDC: Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers":

"How do you use your own website, social networking channels (from Twitter
through IRC and beyond), independent editorial content, and even pre-release
versions of your tools to build a robust community around your game before it
even ships? Wolfire's COO, John Graham,
explains in depth how his company has been building momentum around PC indie
title Overgrowth, what has worked, and what hasn't."

This was a decent little session, though it's probably better couched as case study of a small (4-person?) indie studio figuring out what worked and what didn't, and how they used what works.

It was interesting, not least of which because it's an be an advocacy for a formal PR function within an indie environment.

Graham's a sharp guy, and it's impressive to see what the team has done to build buzz and put out useful content for their community. I'd really like to understand the details and timeline of their core business, technology, and game, to have context on how the PR maps to the reality of the project.

Someone needs to do an in-depth case study on there guys (they'd totally do it).

Labels: , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: How To Operate Your Indie Game Business - For Fun And Profit!

Finally breaking free from the toy job shenanigans (don't get me wrong, I'm grateful), I gave the independent games summit again - glad I did.

The session was "How To Operate Your Indie Game Business - For Fun And Profit!":

"One of the most stable indies out there, Ninjabee has made a large number of very diverse games for digital download. They?ve released games from CLONING CLYDE to A KINGDOM FOR KEFLINGS. These games were developed for XLA, WiiWare, PC, and iPhone. The down-to-earth Fox, talks about how NinjaBee can maintain the creative indie edge and still stay in business. He discusses how they handle contracting vs. self-funded games and compares development and success on various platforms. Hear tips and tricks on pitching your games to publishers or getting them approved from gatekeepers like Microsoft for XLA and much more on practical matters of interest to every indie game developer."

Brent Fox, from NinjaBee / Wahoo Studios, was a wealth of knowledge.

Starting out in weird way -- talking about the employees, all of their young kids, their need for insurance -- had a purpose. There is a higher need (speaking from experience, sometimes desperation) to provide for families that forces a company to run itself like a business and drive to profitability faster than what indie studios of a bunch of single folks might do. The game industry has been slowly moving this direction as the workforce matures, any way. Slowly.

(Blergh. The rest of this post has been deleted. I'll try to find it or reconstruct it from my notes.)

Labels: , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: The Super Heroes' Journey: Storytelling in MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 2

Taking a selfish break from the business tracks to feed my internal fanboy with "The Super Heroes' Journey: Storytelling in MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 2", which comes out today:

"Building a strong narrative for video gaming's largest army of super heroes
requires a unique fusion of writing techniques, tools, and production
strategies. Join Lead Writer Evan Skolnick and Narrative Designer, Jonathan
Mintz, as they take a deep dive into storytelling for a modern, large-scale
Action RPG. You'll learn how they worked with the team to plan the narrative,
develop the game's characters and world, and integrate story with gameplay
They'll share best practices for creating and organizing the wealth of content
that modern games require - along with some hard-earned tips about pitfalls to

I wanted to attend this session not just because I'm a franchise fan. I was curious how the team was going to tighten the gameplay and cutscene storytelling depending on who you pick for your teams (a challenge in the first title), while ratcheting up the mechanics (a la the fusion mechanic) and maturity level, complexity, and player choice and cost.

Secondly (and work-related), I was curious as to how the narrative design informed the tools and production pipeline (more on that later).

Evan Skolnick, lead writer, and Jonathan Mintz, Narrative Designer were the session speakers, and did a stellar job of speaking, keeping content moving, and answering questions.

Vicarious Visions had a roughly 120-person development team for the project, which took
2.5 years to make, and adapted Disney's Marvel's "Secret War" and "Civil War" arcs.

It sounds like VV and Marvel did a good job of adapting Marvel's "What If" trope to the stories, and have better represented the two sides of conflicts so that no one's "wrong" and the player can honestly "choose a side".

VV has done some smart stuff with handling in-game conversations, and I really dig in concept the implementation of their dialog tree.

I had a pretty good sense of what the Narrative Designer's role was, based on conversations with Jonathan after MUA1, but the team has really refined the role, and genuinely leveraged the Narrative Designer and Lead Writer roles in a collaborative division of labor whose sum was greater than the parts.

On the tools side, they created an Excel tool for the Writing Workbook, for the mission designer, lead writer, and narrative designer. More than just a project plan, this has a very slick multi-purpose XML output, used to create text-to-speech placeholder audio, VO scripts, gameplay pacing, descriptive text cues, etc. Very nice process.

They also used that data to prioritize mission scope, complexity, and features to avoid headaches (or at least as many). Coming out of a formal requirements background, I was impressed with their application of prioritization to mission structure.

Surprisingly, there was a very nice mini-post mortem as part of the presentation -- very cool, given the game shipped today.

Aside -- I also got to chat with DB Cooper, one of the best voice over professionals in the business (and one of the most accessible and gracious), and AGDC is one of the places I get to see her in person each year. She's good peoples. Even better to run into her since a con call made me miss her session (damn you, toy job that keeps me employed!).

Labels: , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

AGDC: The Bit.Trip Series: Holistic Indie Console Game Design

After a brief intro of the whys and wherefores of the Independent Game Festival and related Independent Games Summit, the summit kicked off with Gaijin Games Mike Roush's session, "AGDC: The BitTrip Series: Holistic Indie Console Game Design":

"Having created the Bit.Trip series for WiiWare to significant acclaim, Gaijin
Games has melded retro game design aesthetics with a unified, holistic-feeling
style to create games with a special feel. In this design talk, Gaijin Games'
Art Director Mike Roush discusses how they created the retro-infused series,
giving tips on standing out on WiiWare and how to intelligently mine classic
gaming for a unique look."

I use "kicked off", but it more like shuffled along.

I like Gaijin Games and those folks (and what they've accomplished), but Roush is pretty relaxed, which isn't the best for an early morning game development talk (hey, it was also his first presentation of the type, so he gets a lot of slack).

The talk boiled down to leveraging all parts of a team (art, design, programming) as joint stakeholders in pre- and production to make a high-caliber indie game in 3 months (impressive).

The talk was too light on actionable details, but Q&A opened things up a bit -- like a little more process detail as to how the team resolves collaborative deadlock (domain experts can trump in their areas). Etc.

Labels: , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

2009 Game Developers Conference Austin

I'm in my home stomping grounds of Texas for the Game Developers Conference Austin.

Rather than spend words on it, here's a half-a$$ed video intro to the week. I'm hoping to do several travelog / videolog entries this week, but things are so crazy busy with meetings, this intro may stand as the pathetic, orphaned intro to the series that never was.

Labels: , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 2 comment(s)  |  Review 2 comment(s)

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gamescon 2009


The toy job has got me wicked behind, so despite working in the game industry, I haven't been able to do my normal pre-event post.

This week is GDC Europe and Gamescon 2009 -- check to the left for industry links (in the case of; blogger trope from Kotaku and Joystiq).

The skinny is Gamescon was Leipzig, and looks to be a big ol' show.

From a gamer perspective, expect a ton of new videos, announcements, and demos on the various console download services.

From a biz perspective, I expect some new partnerships, hopefully more info about Natal and other tech, and maaaybe some disruptive announcements. Maybe.

Emergent will be there in force (but not me; sorry). Check us out, and let me know if you need to set up a meeting.

More later.

Labels: , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Comic-Con 2009 (the games)

Comic-Con is arguably the meca of all things pop-culture (far more than "just" comics), and just like the last few years running, video games will be huge this year.

Links to the Comic-Con goodness from at least a few sites are to the left (including the listing of games-related panels and happenings), and below are some of the things I care in particular about.

Stan Lee is going to be in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 ("MUA2", which, to review, I'm phoneticizing as "m-oo-ah-tu"; Marvelites get the gag). It's about time Mr. Lee was in a game. Dude rocks. 86, and far more interesting than Hugh Hefner. I'm a big fan of the first game, too. There's a panel. Mr. Lee will now be on said panel.

The Iron Man 2 game will have an original script from Matt Fraction, current Invincible Iron Man scribe (and a writer I like), so it's not going to be locked into the movie. And it sounds like they've learned from some of the gaffs in the first game. SEGA will be showing other stuff, with only Bayonetta currently getting me excited (review: hair suit, not hirsute).

As far as more Marvel, be sure to check out the panel on Sunday: "Marvel: The Next Generation of Marvel Video Games: Ultimate Alliance 2, Super Hero Squad, and Iron Man 2". Nice guy Chris Baker will be moderating, and cool producer dude Todd "TQ" Jefferson will be on the panel. Super Hero Squad is a brilliant expression of the Marvel U., this upcoming Wii game looks to be an accessible brawler blast, and I'm working through my anger issues of not having been auditioned for the project. I'm just saying ...

I'm curious about Capcom's Spyborgs game. Sounds like they did a re-tooling, and it sounds compelling.

Electronic Arts is bringing a boatload o' titles to the con. I'm particularly interested in whether they can pull of Dante's Inferno (next up, The Ten Commandments the Movie the Game), and there's a panel. I think Dead Space Extraction (Zorsis's baby) may be a fantastic example of how to take a next-gen title onto the Wii (oh, and there's panel).

Astro Boy is a licensed game based on the movie that I hope does justice to the franchise, but it's being done by High Voltage Software, who -- since they did Hunter: The Reckoning on the original Xbox for me (yes, I'm saying it was for me) -- will always get my vote of confidence.

LucasArts will be making a number of "World Exclusive Announcements" (thank goodness, because the "Local Exclusive Announcements" are lame) at the convention, and while some people already know what they are, let's wait for the announcements, shall we? PR people gotta eat, folks.

Microsoft will be making an waves with an unannounced project at the (for them) atypical venue. I have hopes. I have wishes. I have knowledge. And, dammit, I have to sit on my lips.

Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2) -- I'm sure -- will not disappoint. I'm hoping Valve shows something that shuts up the "this game is coming out too soon after L4D1 so why can't it be DLC" whiners. Oh no, quick follow-ups to time-sucking great games! Whatever shall I do?

There's a "What's next" session for the Halo franchise, and it'd be refreshing if there was some genuine information, but I'm thinking this may feel like a sponsored session talking about how much money they're making from current franchise milking.

There's a "Writing for the Computer Gaming Industry" panel, but Susan O'Connor's not on it, so I bite my thumb at them.

Capcom has a panel about their games, and they have another panel -- "Capcom: Fighting Games". They have two panels. There is a panel just about Capcom's particular fighting games. We've reached that level of granularity at the cons. Discuss. (Oh, and there's a third panel, just for Lost Planet 2, which I would attend if I could, to see what they say / show for the Multi-Target 2 engine. Oh, and another another Capcom panel about how to break into the game industry. Sheesh, who's Capcom snuggling up to?)

I want the game industry to get out of its bubble and learn more from other industries. The "State of the Animation Industry" session is one such area of discussion from which we could benefit.

"Beyond the Gaming Medium" shows what the more creative folks can do to create new opportunities inspired by or spun off from games.

The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" panel is going cover the franchise spectrum, including games. They should so show the Vanilla Ice clip, and say absolutely nothing about it. Eastman (but not Laird) will be there.

Dynamite is doing a panel, and I suspect BOOM! Studios will be lighting it up, too. I'm a big fan of scrappy little comic publishing studios made big, and I'm watching these two guys to see when they move their licensed and original IP into games. It's happening.

Will there be a new Darkness video game? The Top Cow panel makes it sounds like there will be, but let's wait and see if they're just lumping in past and future projects in the abstract.

Gears of War is a franchise, and between panels and announcements, we'll likely hear more on the great game, jury's-out movie, and "ok" comic book.

Other things?

Oh, there will be slave Leias at the con. Dozens of them. Money on it.

Labels: , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sony E3 presser

Sony rounded out the big 3 E3 pressers, and while having the benefit of going last, had less than an hour to make any adjustments (if needed) in response to Nintendo's just completed press conference. The "press" crowd in attendance seemed a lot more animated than the other two platform attendees.

Their intro video was pretty slick, both in showcasing titles, and in providing the sub-text of power, growth, expansion, and history ( along with an explicit "One World. One Vision." background vocal riff).

Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA), lead off, and he was engaging and entertaining, despite a stated admission of nerves.

Tretton said 364 games are coming out on PlayStation platforms (PS3, PS2, and PSP) this year alone, designed to meet "Every taste. Every Budget. And Every Need."

He also made some understandably bold words about 2009 being everything they wanted.

Of the titles he listed out of the gate (Modern Warfare 2, FFXIII, Rock Band: The Beatles, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ratchet & Clank, and Heavy Rain), only the last two are PS3 exclusives.

Tretton led off with PS2 numbers, and touted it and its 2,0000-game library as the "perfect family console", and continued the party line of PS2 being the gateway drug to PS3 (he used different words).

Sony grew install base by 22 million units over the last year, and has 24 million worldwide PSN accounts, and said there will be more than 35 PlayStation exclusives this year.

On the games front, Tretton led off with Infamous, the PS3 exclusive which is selling and reviewing extremely well. Smart to show current success representative of what the PS3 can do commercially, technically, and critically.

Naughty Dog showed Uncharted 2: Drake's Fortune canned single player gameplay, which looks Assassins Creedish (in a good way) in places, and I like the duck, cover, and related combat and evade mechanics (Naughty Dog, like Sony dev Insomniac knows how to push the hardware). The game launches its multiplayer beta tonight (at least for those that bought Infamous).

MAG (one year later) finally got to show off its live multiplayer gameplay. Zipper Interactive guys brought us Socom, and now they bring us massive online firefights at a whole new level. I like what they've done with things like the player-controlled helicopters with mini-guns bringing in players who have died and respawned. I can't tell if the footage was "live live", or "recorded live". They said "live", but the live narration was a little too matched to events onscreen. The game comes out this fall.

Shifting to the PSP, Tretton gave a brief history of the handheld (hardware and software). The large number of titles he listed for teen and tween girls felt a bit like a bulkhead against the same kind of fare on rival Nintendo's handheld platfroms. But Sony'll be releasing a lavendar PSP.

Kaz Harai, President and CEO Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., absent at last-year's Sony E3 press event, took the stage to talk about changes to the design and features of the PSP that have built its successor -- the PSP Go. Not meant to be a replacement for the PSP or PSP 3000, per se, it will be marketed alongside those platforms. It will launch October first of this year, and sell for $249 / 259 Euros (the same price as when the PSP first launched).

All PSP titles moving forward will also be available via digital download (in addition to UMD for the non-Go versions of the PSPs).

There was a brief aside that PSP toolkits will drop 80% in cost to developers, which is a smart move in making it easier and lower risk for developers to get content onto Sony's handheld platform, and seemed an unintentional rebuttal to Nintendo's just-previous press conference statement that the Nintendo DS is low-cost platform on which innovative game developers can take risks.

Sony also smartly announced their new "Media Go" initiative / service / technology (I'm not sure the degree of each the "thing" addresses each), which replaces the current media interface. Media Go will make it easier to access media across the PSP, PC, and PS3 platforms, hopefully heading in the direction of a more leverage able media experience for a company that has a massive content library frankly not getting into Sony platform holders hands.

The PlayStation video service will be available natively on the PSP and PSP Go shortly, and Sony is launching new content from a host of content providers, from Showtime to Viz Entertainment.

Kazunouri Yamauchi (Polyphony Digital) annnounced Gran Tourismo PSP, and showed it running on PSP Go -- a launch title running at 60fps, 800 cars, huge number of tracks (and tons of variations on each track). It looks to be the be-all end-all of the full Gran Tourismo experience, and tailored to the unique features fo the PSP platforms (including the networking and social aspects of the platforms).

Harai re-took the stage to introduce Hideo Kojima (Kojima Productions), and he introduced Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker -- a PSP Go game that takes place 10 years after the first Metal Gear as a "true sequel" set in the 1970s. Kojima is deeply involved in writing the script and producing the title, and several Metal Gear Sold 4 devs will be involved in its production. The game will be published by Konami.

Tretton rejoined the stage to announce Resident Evil Portable. He also announced other PSP titles including Little Big Planet, Socom, Jack & Daxter, Motorstorm, Monster Hunter, Harry Potter, Guitar Hero, and more, coming to PSP this fall.

Tretton re-stated PSN has 24 million users (11 million in North America), Sony has seen 150% growth in console install base (I'm assuming that's across all platforms), and more than 90 unique titles this year alone.

He also said more than 50 PSOne titles will launch this year on PSN, starting wtih Final Fantasy VII from the PSOne on PSN today. I know people who's heads just exploded.

PlayStation Home currently has 6.5M users (and Sony wants us to know they have an 85% return rate), and Home Spaces are on the rise. They showed a brief video showing its growth and pervasiveness, but for me I didn't understand the differentiation between it and, say, Second Live branded islands.

Sony showed a really impressive PS3 title sizzle reel. With so many games and no title or developer / publisher text, I struggled to determine what the titles were, how many there were, how many were duped, and which were exclusive.

Agent from Rockstar North was announced as a PS3 exclusive. Rockstar can certainly deliver polished innovative content, and maybe Agent will take them in a direction with as high a caliber, but not the social contention, of the GTA series.

Reps from Ubisoft took the stage to show off Assassin's Creed II, set during the Renaissance, and shifting the story and character development to start with a non-assassin (who will become one). Using Renaissance personalities like inventor Leonardo DaVinci, new game mechanics like flight and the double-handed assassination (which got a great crowd response) are additions over the last game. Thirty total weapons (things like the smoke bomb) are available in the game, plus an additional 6 if you play and unlock them from Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines on the PSP. Both titles will be available holiday 2009.

Tretton used the PSP / PS3 connectivity in Assassin's Creed for what sounded like a launch point for more connectivity discussions, but instead showed new footage for Final Fantasy XIII.

Much bigger, Sony announced PS3-exclusive Final Fantasy XIV Online, I believe slated for 2010.

Tretton then intro'd next-gen successor to the controller / EyeToy synergy -- "true, one-to-one tracking" via the EyeToy and a prototype motion controller (alternately called that, a wand, and I think just an "Eye"). They showed off a variety of tech demos, which were interesting and representive of the functionality. Sony's message is you need both the camera and the controller.

Given the tech demo and the stilted presentation, I wonder if this was originally planned for the Sony presser, or was reactive to Microsoft's Natal announcement Monday.

I liked the RTS tech demo, because it showed a concrete game demo application, as did did the combat demo (sword and shield, throwing stars, and archery). Tretton says the tech will launch Spring 2010, which seems extremely aggressive.

Shifting gears, Sony announced Little Big Planet will be getting a ton of new content. PS3 owners tell me LBP is a console mover for them.

This was an stepping pad to announce another PS3 exclusive from United Front Games / Sony San Diego Studios -- ModNation Races (the next incarnation of the "Play. Create. Share." umbrella that includes Little Big Planet).

This game and customization looked like a ton of fun -- very stylish, and the track editor looks intuitive and powerful (5 minutes to create a brand-new track with variable elevations, levels, mountains and lakes, hills, props, weapons, upgrades, etc.).

Sony announced PS3-exclusive The Last Guardian from Team Ico / Sony Japan Studio. Looks freaky cool (the giant animal looks like a ginormous cross between a coyote puppy, gryphon, and a rat).

There was also a quick tease of Gran Tourismo 5, which I install has a huge install base for the franchise, but it felt really disjoint after the Ico reveal. Not sure why it wasn't used to bridge the conversation from Gra Tourismo PSP to the larger sibling platform. That's how I would have done it.

Finishing off, Sony live demoed God of War III as an appropriate capstone to the PS3 exclusives.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Nintendo E3 presser

Nintendo's E3 presser was geared toward toward "innovation and surprises", and "everyone's game".

Cammie Dunaway started the event, and despite using very biz analytic language like "even Mario is not enough to attract all people to our category", she at least did lead with the company's major strengths, intro'ing a brief Mario retrospective, which was a lead-up to a new Super Mario Bros. for Wii. The game has four-player, drop-in co-op (or not, if you're petty), and is is coming Holiday 2009.

Wii Fit Plus -- An updated, configurable version of the company's hugely successful workout and strength training software. It will be will be available this fall, and ship with the Balance Board, or as a stand-alone title for those folks who were able to get their hands on a Balance Board.

Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage to (re-)announce the MotionPlus add-on hardware (he's a very polished, articulate Nintendo advocate). The precision-control nature of the MotionPlus is, I think, going to very much help with fine-grain, core game mechanics, and the cutesy sky diving demo was a very good way to introduce the Wii MotionPlus Resort pack-in (?). The game is a collection of mini games to demonstrate (and get experience with) the new Wii remote add-on.

the Wii MotionPlus Resort demo lagged a bit from sky diving to archery to basketball, but while the banter lagged in the last demo, at least Fils-Aime brought the smack talk to the mini-competition. (I want him to the bring that snark to Microsoft and Nintendo.) Wii MotionPlus Resort launches in July.

In the next few weeks, Electronic Arts is backing the MotionPlus technology with upcoming titles Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 and Grand Slam Tennis, and SEGA's Virtual Tennis 2009 will support the tech, as will Red Steel 2 from Ubisoft will only be playable with the Wii MotionPlus.

Square-Enix will be releasing Final Fantasy the Crystal Bearers exclusively for the Wii. They are also releasing an exclusive version of the Kingdom Hearts.

On the DS front, Mario & Luigi Bowser's Inside Story looks like a great RPG, and will finally be out in North America and Europe this fall.

More exciting for me, Nintendo announced Golden Sun is coming back to the DS.

Dunaway came back to the stage to push the low cost of Nintendo DS development, coupled with the the huge install base, as a lower-cost way to take risks. That was a subtle (and I think wise) message to slide in the presser -- "prototype innovative gameplay on the cheap, and if you hit, hit big!"

THQ will be releasing author James Patterson's Women's Murder Club: Games of Passion for the DS. Style looks to smack of the Phoenix Wright franchise, and is obviously going after an exclusive demographic. Interesting.

Ubisoft's Cop: The Recruit looks to be a very slick, stylized GTA China Wars-esque DS offering for core gamers.

There was also a tween / pre-teen girl's game for the DS that I missed, but it plus the THQ and Ubi titles were all about showing the platform demographic and genre diversity. Dunaway kind of hit people over the head with it, but it's a valid differentiator for the handheld.

Dunaway then provided a market update on the Nintendo DSi (surpassing 1M units, plus there were 400,000 DS Lites sold, etc.).

FlipNote -- That user-generated mini movie content software for the DSi -- will be available this summer. I likes.

Mario versus Donkey Kong: Minis March Again (think branded Lemmings) for DS will allow for creating custom , shareable levels, and is available next Monday.

WarioWare DIY -- Glad Cammie told us it was short for "Do It Yourself" :-, is a title that lets you create and share your own games. This one plus FlipNote may make me upgrade to a DSi.

Starting this summer, photos from DSi will let you update photos to Facebook. Facebook is doing well; wonder if they have something to announce with Sony at E3, not that they've covered Nintendo and Microsoft.

Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks -- A DS gift for the franchise lovers and the Nintendo faithful hardcore.

Worldwide president Satoru Iwata took the stage, interestingly, to talk about Nintendo's research and market segmentation. He said Nintendo's research of North America, Japan, and 6 other countries showed an "Active gamers" (across all consoles) addressable market of 395M, and those that "Might Play" number ~149M -- his point being "for every two people actively playing games, there is a third, waiting to play").

Mr. Iwata said he has a goal to provide games that work for experienced and novice players at the same time. Lofty goal. I support it, as long as it doesn't suck for both.

He also announced the Wii Vitality Sensor, to expose "the inner world of your body". Think one of those pulse thingies you see at grocery story blood pressure stations. But, not as shared.

Dunaway re-took that stage to announce a new 3D Mario for the Wii -- Super Mario Galaxy 2 (another gift for the franchise and Nintendo faithful).

Fils-Aime re-took the stage to announce 3 exclusive titles for the Wii that are more targeted to the Core gamer:
  • The Conduit -- A great-looking FPS from one of my personal favorite devs, High Voltage Software (published by SEGA)
  • Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
  • Dead Space: Extraction -- Zorsis's baby. Which looks super slick and scary.

From Nintendo itself (plus Project M and Team Ninja), came Metroid: Other M -- looks to be a great addition to the franchise (Metroid plus deeper story plus Ninja Gaiden-esque gameplay).

And that finished up the presser.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pre-E3 2009

E3 is coming, and hopes to nod more toward its glory days from before the past few years -- and it may just do that.

I'm looking forward to several things, and while there are lot of predictions out there, I'm keeping mine fairly small and fairly me-centric.

And while I'm going to comment on some of the rumors out there, I'm not going to chat up anything I may have knowledge about thanks to my day job -- that would be bad form, and this industry has enough problems with loose lips.

First up and close to home, I'm excited about four titles powered by Gamebryo tech from Emergent Game Technologies that will likely be making a big splash next week. Two will definitely be on the show floor, two are likely, and I'm not going to announce any of them until they make their debut. And we have some long-time and new licensees that will be doing some exciting pitch work at the show, but I won't talk about that, either.

See, I'm starting out as a tease.

Here's the big presser line-up:

  • Microsoft conference – 6/1, 10:30 a.m. Pacific
  • Electronic Arts conference - 6/1, 2 p.m. Pacific
  • Nintendo conference – 6/2, 9 a.m. Pacific
  • Sony conference – 6/2, 11 a.m. Pacific

On the big announcements front, I hope Microsoft or Sony do an announcement similar to Microsoft's disruptive Netflix announcement from last year. I hope Sony doesn't just announce they have Netflix, too -- because that would feel me-too(ish), and not as fun. It would take away from Microsoft's differentiation, though, so that would be a smart business move.

There are all sorts of rumors for peripherals or some other announcement from the Big M, which as a consumer I've been expecting for a while. Have you been paying attention to what feels like really liquid pricing on the current 360 camera, including dirt-cheap pick-ups for in-game bundles of it? Noticed the wireless headsets selling for nearly half of its MSP? Etc.

Maybe Microsoft will do something with convergence -- what can they do to leverage the PC, Console, Zune, and windows mobile platform across each other? We've gotten a bit of this with the announcement of Zune HD and the Zune Store being made available to 360 owners. That's good convergence, and the Zune is seriously under-rated. Maybe there's a Windows Mobile 6.5 or Windows Mobile Microsoft - says - it - doesn't - exist - but - get - real version 7 crossover opportunity? Microsoft's exciting challenge there is to not cannibalize any of those platforms (for example, intro'ing an iPhone competitor would hurt both Zune and Windows Mobile)

But really, I'd like to know: Where the #### is Live Anywhere?

Sony needs to do something. I can't get my head around Microsoft doing so well on the media catalogue / media convergence thing against Sony -- They have a freaking extra-dimensional monster closet vault of music and video, so why aren't they doing something with it? Is there some mistaken notion that it will undercut the value-add of the PS3 as a Blu-ray player?

I'd like to hear some big announcements on Sony convergence, and maybe that'll be PS3 / PSP (or rumored PSP Go) or PS3 / Sony Ericsson phone or -- dare I dream -- an announcement for a massive, unified Sony device synergy that is real and awesome. I don't think the "PS3 Slim" will be there, and I don't think it would be wise -- I think it would hurt PS3 sales, and unless they've done power and heat dissipation magicks, I don't think it would be a full-featured PS3, which could cause consumer confusion (and raise gamer ire).

Nintendo is going to be Nintendo, which you can take as you will. They will be innovative, their handhelds and Wii own the commercial consumer non-core space, and the company is still printing money, if a little slower than they were. I hope they surprise everyone with yet another new peripheral. And by surprise, I mean something that makes people say, "Wii remotes and nunchucks and Balance Boards and MotionPlus and Wii Speak, and everything else -- those are cool, but this, this I must have!"

I do expect some game coolness for Nintendo, but think it may come uncharacteristically from 3rd parties (I'm hoping the High Voltage Software Wii FPS The Conduit does as well as that developer and SEGA hope it does).

Despite a ridiculous amount of pre-E3 leakage, Microsoft is uncharacteristically under wraps, so I'm hoping for bigness, because they're talking a big game.

And I honestly am hoping for a bit of competitive rodeo, because Microsoft's presser goes first this year, and if you're Sony or Nintendo, how do you head off the under-wraps Microsoft?

Traditionally (besides having big stuff of your own) you take away the differentiators -- take away Netflix, or something. Maybe do more with Miis on the Wii than Xbox Avatars are doing -- but watch out, because I don't expect Microsoft to keep those still). Better, leapfrog the differentiators by announcing Netflix, and something like an XM exclusivity.

And someone needs to add a social networking component. (In a way that matters.)

Yeah, but it's all about the games, right?

Right! (I'm lying, but the games are cool.)

What am I stoked about?

Besides the Gamebryo titles I hint at above (and genuinely, as I'm off the clock and out of shill mode), here are some of the titles or rumors I'm looking forward to.

Modern Warfare 2. Infinity War is top-notch. The previous game was fantastic, and this one continues on. And despite the reveal in Game Informer Magazine, they claim "big surprises" are still in store for this title. I hope we learn those at E3.

Crackdown 2. I don't think this is on anyone's radar for E3, but a sequel to one of the better games on the 360, after a premium theme randomly popped up for purchase? C'Mon, show me some super-cop love.

Dead Rising 2. Sure, the games not going to be shown, but the US arm of Capcom will likely be in attendance, so maybe it will. I so dug the first game, despite hating the save and escort mechanics. I really thought it was an indicator of what next-gen gaming could be, and it sounds like the sequel -- as long as gameplay is pushed as hard as raw polys -- could build on and explode that legacy. Plus we should all be practicing for the inevitable.

BioShock 2. If you don't know why, you haven't played the former. Go do that then come back and apologize.

Assassin's Creed 2. Sure, it was a bit of a super-polished more intricate period-piece Crackdown, but it was a rocking super-polished more intricate period-piece Crackdown.

New Splinter Cell. Ironically, wetworks dude Sam Fisher has gone dark in the real world, too. Ubi says he's back, so show him to us, and make us uncomfortable. Very.

God of War III. We need next-gen sacrilege on the PS3. It will move consoles.

Halo ODST will be there (it's not E3 without Halo), but I hope there's more excitement about it then announcing an attractive female actress as part of the voice cast. Maybe also give us an update on the Peter Jackson Halo effort (or tell us it's dead, so the mourning can begin).

Capcom could surprise and delight me with a new Marvel vs. Capcom (it's my fantasy, dammit), I wish Epic would update us on what People Can Fly are doing, they may announce Cliff's horror game (though the rumored PS3-exclusivity seems like an ungrateful thumbing at Microsoft for the the Gears and Gears 2 successes).

I still hold out hope that the 3D Realms is doing a masterful Duke Nukem feint, thought that's feeling less and less likely.

Shooters Singularity and Brink have me intrigued, given Raven's and Bethesda's / Splash Damage's pedigree (respectively).

I'm losing interest in Borderlands, and I want them to change my mind. Lost Planet 2 doesn't have to do much pwn me, because while I can't articulate it, the first game pwned me too.

Aliens vs Predator will be there. And it will rock. I listen to my gut on this one (just before it's used as a footstool for a chestburster).

And while the cinematics and roster aren't as big as the previous title, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 will be in my library, so I'm excited for more info that shows me this is doing comic books right again.

Mini Ninjas from Eidos looks cute and fun.

From EA, I don't think Brütal Legend can fail, so I hope it doesn't. Dante's Inferno is interesting, and I want my spiritual successor Dead Space Extraction to do well. Because I'm that kind of dad. Dragon Age: Origins needs to show me gameplay, I'm fanboy nervous about G.I.Joe, and I'm curious about Spore Hero. I go back and forth on The Saboteur.

I'm hoping Painkiller: Resurrection fits my previous guilty pleasure, but it'll probably make me upgrade my PC to do it.

I want A Boy and His Blob and Flip's Twisted World to be good for Majesco and for platformers.

Maybe the last 4 years have been good to Huxley?

Marvel Super Hero Squad may make me buy a personal Wii this fall. Wish they'd hire me for voice work.

I want Valve to wow me. I've got an itch in the back of my brain about a team that is using their tech that had some promising stuff, and it escapes me now. The itch tells me I'm mildly iterested if it's them.

On the more dark-horse(ish) front, BlActivision's been teasing an "all-new" game -- what if it was exclusive to one console? Square-Enix has teed up new games -- exclusives?

What about a 360 MMO?

And I want Heavy Rain to cross the uncanny valley. And build a bridge so others can follow.

And now I'm rambly.

It's going to be noisy, and I am concerned publishers will try to take advantage of the eyeballs to push everything -- not just their top-tier offerings. Think movie tie-ins, other licensed fare, and non-AAA sequels. That may take away from the good stuff, and the sleepers (who can ill-afford it).

I think E3 still suffers from an identity crisis (is it a consumer or industry show?) but maybe this year will help it suss out what it wants to be when it grows up.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Quiet Opportunity in Casual PC Games

I attended the session "The Quiet Opportunity in Casual PC Games", and while there was some good content, I worry about anyone attending the session who doesn't have a grasp and knowledge of the state of the industry.

Jessica Tams (President, Casual Games Association), and Lloyd Melnick (Co-Founder, Merscom) presented, with Jessica leading off.

To perhaps over-state it, Jessica's presentation was a mix of fluffy slides and divisive and outdated information on the casual market and casual gamer demographic. I give her props for voicing strong opinions (like not buying any of the GTA franchise "if you have morals"), and demerits for miss-stating the separation of core and casual gamers and advertising opps, and relying on outdated data from 2007. But she gets props for finishing out with passion and humor.

Lloyd from Merscom presented some interesting interesting.

Because Merscom is so big (40+ portals and aggregators) they're both one of the bigger "secrets" for those not familiar with the casual market, and they have direct access to a lot of current data. I was scribbling as I was blogging this, so I may do a follow-up with more data.

Other thoughts:

  • Casual Games fit media vehicle timelines better (film, etc.)
    Cooperation, aligned interests (lower risk, and more co-funding and co-development)
    - Share costs
    - Share Revenue
    - Interests Align
    - Incentive to keep costs reasonable
    - Low development budgets = 50% royalty

    > Mass market, rather than core gamers
  • Big portals
    > Big Fish (~50% of casual portal traffic)
    > RealArcade
    > Oberon
I really wish the game industry, and the casual market, would learn from other industries. I need to right my comparison to one particular "expressions-driven" vertical industry.

Official breakdown:

While much of the glamour and publicity goes to the major core game releases like GTA and GoW, it is the casual market that is enjoying the strongest growth of any sector of the game, let alone entertainment, industry. Casual games are PC titles that target the mass market but primarily 30+ women. They are sold via download on websites such as Yahoo! Games, Big Fish Games, RealArcade and hundreds others as well as retailers including Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Unlike their core game cousins, these projects often have a development cycle of less than six months and budget under $100,000. This session will explore opportunities for developers and small publishers in this fast growing space.

* Lloyd Melnick
Co-Founder, Merscom

As a co-founder of Merscom, Lloyd has marketed, produced and published over 150 games for both the casual and core gamer market. Lloyd played a key role in the development and launch of Merscom's number one hit title, Blood Ties, building a relationship with Lifetime Networks, selecting the game's developer and managing the launch. Lloyd secured relationships for Merscom with leading portals and aggregators including Big Fish Games, RealArcade and Oberon in the U.S., helping Merscom gain access to virtually all casual game customers.

*Jessica Tams
President, Casual Games Association

Jessica is the Founder and Managing Director of the Casual Games Association. Jessica oversees the Casual Games Association and the Casual Connect series of services. Previously Jessica was in development, publishing and distribution of casual, core and Xbox games in roles ranging from engineering to product planning & business development.

Labels: , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Talking to Each Other: Methods for Open and Successful Communication Across Disciplines

I attended the "Talking to Each Other: Methods for Open and Successful Communication Across Disciplines" session.

Brass tacks, this is where a lot of companies absolutely crater themselves. This was largely centered around conflict resolution (designers and engineers), applicable to a bunch of scenarios.

Gary Stelmack (representing design) and Marq Singer (representing engineering) drove the session.

This was one of those sessions (for me) that contained no new info, per se, but was still incredibly valuable in the restatement (and very encouraging to hear it presented to game devs.

Coming from a heavy requirements management background, I did like the reminder to to not start a dialog with the requested solution. Rather, starting with a general statement of what offer to be done, and the parameters the solution offer to meet.

Other bits:
*People to whom your talking don't necessarily have the same context you do.
* Do thinking about the problem, possible solutions, pros and cons, etc. - and be able to articulate them.
* Avoid a heavy use of lingo
* "I'm as smart as you" syndrome (being afraid of looking stupid, which is the flip side to cultural elitism, which wasn't addressed in the talk).
* Cool idea to tag people with internal "evangelist" (bridge builders) to work through cross-functional friction / disconnects.

I like how much energy Marq and Gary had, which made what was ostensibly a personnel process talk engaging. I also like how honest Gary was in talking about how he used to fall into the elitist trap, until people who cared enough broke him out on it.

My criticism of the session is - HUGE irony - there was no real dialog prior to the Q&A. They basicly tore through the content at us for 45 minutes.

Official breakdown:

We will discuss the basic framework and components that make up a typical cross-discipline discussion of a feature or feature request. This will delve into the tools that are required to properly initiate a discussion and cover the necessary types of information and goals that need to be developed before the discussion can start, providing a basis for identifying common problems that must be overcome before the discussion can successfully progress. Using examples that might be seen on a daily basis while developing a game, the types of common problems that hamper effective communication will be covered, along with techniques on identifying and rectifying those issues and finally, how these techniques can work with external communications and in dealing with online communities.


* Marq Singer
Red Storm

Marq Singer has had a long and varied career. He spent the late 80's and early 90's working in the film industry in a variety of projects and roles, which ranged from general crew for TV commercials to special effects for horror films, including the minor cult-classic Killer (1989). He is a co-author of "Java Applets and Channels: Without Programming" and has contributed to the popular "Game Programming Gems" series. He has given multiple lectures on a variety of game-related topics. Since 1998, he has been working in the games industry serving in a number of engineering functions including physics, animation, UI and AI. Currently, he is a physics programmer for Red Storm Entertainment, a division of Ubisoft, working with both the Havok(tm) engine and custom dynamics. The most recent title that he worked on was Rainbow Six: Lockdown for the PS2 and PC.

* Gary Stelmack
Red Storm

Gary has worked at Red Storm Entertainment for 11 years, assisting in the development of games from both the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon series. He started in QA and shifted into design, where he has been happily working for the past 8 years. Being involved in both disciplines and working with relatives who are engineers has helped him to develop solid communication skills that were often learned the hard way. Most recently, Gary has worked on America's Army: True Soldiers for the Xbox 360 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 for the Xbox 360.

Labels: , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Right to Game: An interview with Hal Halpin

Several of the 9:30 sessions for day #2 of the Triangle Game Conference got off to kind of an anemic start -- unfortunately, especially on the business and policy side.

I attended "Right to Game: An interview with Hal Halpin", a deeper dive into what the hell the ECA is doing for the game industry. Fortunately, the answer is "a hell of a lot".

Non-mic'ed, hard-to-hear session aside, the Entertainment Consumers Association has refocused to be advocates for consumer rights and educating, from DRM awareness to standardizing EULA. They're a good balance for retailer and industry advocacy groups.

Hal was very complimentary toward the ESRB, while echoing a concern I have about needing to better distinguish between Halo- and GTA-style M-rated games.

Hal also made the analogy too the AAA organization, and the same way that the ECA wants to do both advocacy and affinity benefits.

They're also hiring Jason Andersen (I think from ONE PR Studio) as a public-facing advocate.

Hal stifled himself a few times to not disclose upcoming announcements, and it sounds like they'll be meeting consumer demographic needs outside of gaming, per se.

I find it frustrating that games are saddled with restrictions more akin to toys, rather than the media they are.

Interesting side distinction was the fact that PC titles are much more of a "software-seat" style license, making resale a no-opp, but console titles are more of a traditional merchandise purchase, and can hence be resold.

Full disclosure - I'm an ECA member. And there are 50 chapters, so there's likely an opp to participate close to you.

The session was mediated by Themis Media Group co-founder and CFO Thomas S. Kurtz.

Here's the official digest:

Join us for a conversation between ECA President Hal Halpin and The Escapist's Russ Pitts over the future of games as a media and a business, the role of the Electronic Consumers Association and the many key issues facing consumers today, including DRM, Net Neutrality, the economy and the ESRB.


* Hal Halpin
President, ECA

Hal Halpin is the president of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), the non-profit membership organization which represents gamers. Mr. Halpin, a pioneer in the interactive entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience, has dedicated himself to creating organizations that help unite and advance the games business. In addition to the ECA, he also formed numerous influential publications, services and organizations. He is often called upon by members of the media and government officials to represent the interactive entertainment sector.

Panel Moderator
* Russ Pitts
Director of Video Content, The Escapist

* Thomas S. Kurtz
Chairman & CFO, Themis Media

Russ Pitts is the Director of Video Content for Themis Media, where he is Executive Producer for all of their web series, including Zero Punctuation. Russ has worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years, first as an independent video director and producer and later as a producer and writer for TechTV's groundbreaking series "The Screen Savers."

Labels: , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triangle Games Conference

The Triangle Games Conference kicked off today (or last night, if you count yesterday's excellent IGDA Triangle chapter conference kickoff drink fest party).

There are five track sessions at the conference, offering something for everyone in the biz:
  • Game Tech & Programming
  • Game Design & Production
  • Games & Media
  • Serious Games
  • The Business of Gaming

Keynotes will be from Mike Capps ("What Makes US Epic") and Peter Tamte ("Please Publish Six Days in Fallujah" "Brave New World: The 3 Forces Re-shaping the Videogame Industry").

With well over 600 folks attending, and conference-goers and presenters from at least as far as Germany (the wicked smart and very pleasant tech guys from Crytek), the Triangle's inaugural games conference has turned into anything but "just a local event".

Emergent Game Technologies will be well-represented at the show as well, with architect Vincent Scheib giving a talk about "Rapid Prototyping Technology", VP John Austin sitting in on the "Breaking into the Game Industry" panel, and a bunch of us running around there today and tomorrow attending sessions and getting caught up with our industry brethren.

Hope to see you there.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tokyo Game Show 2008

The Tokyo Game Show is in full swing, and other than putting some links over on the left to TGS tags or sections of industry sites (IGN, Joystiq, and Kotaku*), I haven't been able to write much -- though I've been keeping up.

So what's the big news at TGS?

Depends what you like.

If you're of a certain type, maybe it's all about the TGS "companions" and their "outfits".

I'm not writing to your type. Ever.

Industry Happenings:
From a lightweightish touchpoint of the industry perspective, the platform representation is a bit interesting. Not definitive by any means, but the percentage of titles per platform at TGS08 is an interesting indicator of commercial interest (and therefore, addressable market) for those platforms. Obviously, the data slightly skewed due to the regional (and, therefore, regional consumer interest) nature of show.

Unofficial breakout of platforms represented at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show
Attendance is down around 11,000 from last year (continuing a downward trend), probably due to Nintendo's continued absence, and the in-betweenness of big shipping titles and not-yet-playable titles, and/or Microsoft as one of the big publishers still not being the Japan draw that Sony is (or Nintendo would be, if they deigned to show).

But ignoring jaded gaming press's various wailing's about "not much happening" at TGS this year, for gamers who still love games, there's some good stuff, and Saturday's public attendance (from picts) at least looks respectable.

If you're an Xbox 360 fan, there was a lot of good noise on that front. Besides the formal announcement the New Xbox Experience (NXE) coming November 19th, (confirming what we already knew, based on an XBL ad), it sounds like the monolothic, twice-a-year Xbox dashboard updates of the past may give way to more fleet-of-foot updates, which as a gamer, program and former development manager, makes me happy. Plus, the videos of the new dashboard in use is pretty exciting.

And the laggard "Bringing it Home" downloadable content finally showed up (anyone else find it funny that Xbox Live's Major Nelson seemed surprised by the content?). Oh, but good luck finding it in one place on your Xbox, since I have yet to find the TGS08 button there, what with all of the "Shocktober", Quantum of Solace, Gears of War 2, and other noise on the dashboard. (UPDATED: Turns out I got to it by going to Marketplace --> Spotlight --> Games --> Tokyo Game Show 2008 (37 slots down from the top? Seriously?).)

If you're more on the 360 fanboy side, you should take glee in Microsoft's further eroding of the Sony exclusives by taking Tekken 6 (out next year), adding to the usurped Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy franchises.

Oh, and Halo junkies? Bungie finally got to make their late- and- undercut announcement of Halo: Recon, a boxed-title expansion pack for Halo 3, that will be a prequel (single player campaign and new multiplayer maps and modes), featuring a playable Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) marine -- a bad-ass looking character I've been waiting (and I'm pretty sure I've been promised I'd be able) to play since Halo 2. The trailer shows off the repeat top-notch, triple-A, traylor madd skilz we've seen in past Halo universe trailers. Some of the cool stuff is pretty subtle (which makes it cooler).

Of similar interest is the Halo Wars RTS, and I'm hoping it gets the love it needs from Microsoft and Ensemble, given the former's recent shuttering of the latter.

Public service announcement: I still want Otogi 3, but From Software's Ninja Blade will likely fill the gap until someone comes to their senses and makes that other thing happen.

And on the free- publicity- better- than- your- own- game- PR- could- do front, I'm not sure Microsoft could get better than Kotaku calling Banjo Kazooie "More Like LEGO Grand Theft Auto".

Sony folks? Were you bummed like I was that anticipated title White Knight Chronicles -- a game showing up this year -- wasn't playable on the show floor, and its session was a PowerPoint presentation? Hey, at least 4-player co-op news snuck out.

But the Resistence 2 (PS3) and Resistence: Retribution (PSP) interconnectivity sounds nifty (actually the whole "PSP Plus" tie between the PSP and PS3 (including DualShock functionality) feels cool, and I hope devs exploit it).

I'm watching to see if LittleBigPlanet becomes the atypical console mover I think it could be. But the brilliance of leveraging Sony's IP as Sackboys (Kratos from God of War, Nariko from Heavenly Sword, "Old Snake" from Metal Gear Solid 4, Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII), while kind of a "duh" move, showcases the kind of tactical marketing savvy I like to see. Now, if they could only do the same thing with their video and music catalogs on PSN...

On the multiplatform front, Resident Evil 5 is looking grr-eat, and the co-op deets (I'm a co-op bigot) make me happy.

Konami's going to get us a new Xbox 360 and PS3 Castlevania, but other details or neigh non-existent.

Namco Bandai's Afro Samurai? Looks wicked sweet.

And, no, Square Enix didn't announce a date for Final Fantasy XIII. [Sigh]

And this Street Fighter IV trailer? Art. Again. I want the game to look like the ink or watercolors or sand post-processing effect. Please?

Changing Business Models:
On the "changing business models front", Microsoft's NXE goes a long way in that direction, because it will give better access to the wealth of content that's made the 360 a victim of its own success, and it'll be an interesting experience in the "core, non-core, social interaction" realm (a la the avatars and LIVE Party). Sony making all first-party PSP titles downloadable is a very cool, moving- into- the- digital- distro move, and Level 5's surprising ROID digital distro (Steam?) competitor gets props for super sexy packaging, and console- transformer- red- herring tease (but they don't have any PC or mobile games in their portfolio, do they? Hmm.).

As a left-field kind of thing, I really like what I think is an important industry statement from Peter Molyneux (Fable II):

"More and more we are saying these ones here are core games and these one here are casual games. Actually I think that is an incredibly divisive thing and if we're not careful the amount of attention we put into these core games will get less and less because they are so expensive to make."

Show Floor:
Here's an embed of what the Tokyo Game Show floor must be kind of like, from / Kotaku (who, despite my rant below, I think are probably fine folks).

More as I think about it. Maybe.

* (What is up with Kotaku? Much as I like those guys, why the hell do I have to dig through so many fractured tags to get all of my TGS info? ("tokyo game show 2008"? "TGS08"? "Lets TGS" [sic]? WTF? Oh, and there's TGS content not tagged. Nice.)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share: Digg! |! | Reddit! | TinyUrl | Twitter

Contact Adam

     Contribute to 0 comment(s)  |  Review 0 comment(s)

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

View Adam Creighton's profile on LinkedIn

(More from ...)

(More from ...)

(More from ...)

(More from ...)

(More from ...)

Powered by Blogger