Hi Tap! I’m out at GDC 2014 this week, reporting from the expo and talking to the people who make the games. I hope to post some previews and news throughout the conference! This first writeup is just a trip report with some highlights from my first two/three days.
Historically, when a studio is successful, its leadership attempts to capitalize on that success while continuing the trend.
Old-skool thinking, proclaim a new and ballsy generation of game developers. Entirely red ocean. We are pioneers of a new strategy. These days, rather than attempting to build on a successful model, it’s trendy to kill the studio and fire everyone. It worked for GSC Game World, where Sergey Grigorovich shuttered the place and sacked about a hundred people rather than continue development on the promising, money-printing STALKER franchise. Evidently emboldened by this, Ken Levine at Irrational Games has decided to do basically the same thing – he is “winding” Irrational Games down, letting the vast majority of its staff go, and starting something new and smaller under the Take-Two banner.
Last week, talented gamers from the Speed Demos Archive participated in their annual games for charity run: Awesome Games Done Quick. Watching the stream has been so fascinating that I’ve forgotten to do many other things I theoretically should have done. But that seems to have been the case for many, as, very late Saturday night, the AGDQ stream made an incredible goal of one million dollars collected for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Austin Powers jokes ensued.
We don’t usually bother with news around here, but sometimes it’s News and deserves a remark.
The Industry said a collective “whoa” on Friday when it learned that John Carmack, programming megamind and id Software co-founder, creator of Doom and Quake and Rage, has left the company he built. Several months ago Carmack took on a new role as Chief Technology Officer at Oculus VR – they of the eventual Oculus Rift headset – and it’s on this role that he is going to focus his attention.
Happy Halloween, Tap-Repeatedly!
Time for the news.
This weekend I’m going to be participating in the Extra Life game charity drive. I’m playing games for 25 hours as part of the Schell Games team, benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. I hope you will consider donating to my page here! I’m getting closer to my goal and every extra bit helps kids.
Hi, Tappers: just a public service announcement. Myself and my friends are trying to make games better. In order to make games better, we want some information about how you play games.
Easy, right? If you have a minute of time today – or this week, or whenever! – there’s a couple of quick surveys I hope that you will check out.
According to the ESA’s most recent fact sheet, women currently make up 45% of game players.
This isn’t really news. The stats about the increasing amount of female gamers have been available for years. But the common wisdom is that women are mostly interested in games on Facebook: casual games for which they are unwilling to pay actual money without being deceived by free-to-play monetization tactics. However, one company, Silicon Sisters, has been working on games targeted at young girls and sold with a money up-front model… and succeeding at it. Now, they’re planning on doing the same with a game targeted squarely at the adult female demographic. Their new game is called Everlove, and it is an interactive romance novel for an American audience.
Last year I shared a few vlogs from a little indie start-up called Kermdinger Studios as they set out on the journey of creating their first indie game. Eighteen months and one cross-country move later, the guys at Kermdinger have unveiled their first project, launching pages on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight. They call it Stunt Runner, a physics puzzler for PC and Mac with a humorous twist. The game’s already at the top of the video game staff picks on Kickstarter, which isn’t a bad sign at all.
If you’ve been curious what the Kermdinger guys (Kermdingers? Kermdingites? What is a Kermdinger, anywise?), check out the details on Stunt Runner. You can also visit them on their own site.
Lo! This quite-excellent news may have passed you by a week ago as it did me, so here as a public service, I offer you last week’s news: Stardock Corporation have acquired, from Atari, the rights to classic but never incredibly popular space fun franchise Star Control! They then immediately announced “now that we at long last own the rights to Star Control we’re figuratively burying it right beside that E.T. game which nobody also played but someone you know claims they did and you punched them for it. That was the right thing to do. Punch all liars!” Okay, I kid, they didn’t say that! Who ever would? No video game corporation is that evil.
Hark! There is a book you must buy. Marcus Sakey, my media mogul brother, Jaime Lannister to my Tyrion, Alan Wake to my Barry, has gone and written another novel. Brilliance, it is called, and it is available on this day for buying with your monies and reading with your eyes. Click upon this link to buy it.
Why that link in particular? Tell you what: first, click and buy, then come back and read this, then go read the book.
The new Neverwinter MMORPG is in open beta starting today! I mentioned when I was in the closed beta that I had some additional coverage to offer, so as part of the beta announcement, I’m going to share with Tap readers a Q&A that I did with Craig Zinkievich, the Executive Producer. I had a few pre-beta questions for the developers about Dungeons & Dragons lore, classes, and character customization plans. Those answers for you, after the jump!
Good news! Hidden Path Entertainment CEO Jeff Pobst and CFO Jim Garbarini took to the vide-webs today to announce that Defense Grid 2 is not just “happening,” development has been underway for a while and we can expect the game early next year. Full announcement and more below.
The experience of the Penny Arcade Expo is often one of line-waiting. If you want to see what the hot previews are, get in a line. If you want to check out a popular panel, there’s also a line. And at the start of the expo, there’s a line to wait in so that you can be at the front of the lines on the expo floor.
I did a little waiting today so I could try out some games that looked interesting. After the jump, two hands-on plays, for Red Barrels’ horror title Outlast, and Capcom’s Remember Me. I will preview both the games, and, review both of the lines, so you feel as if you got the true PAX East experience.
Hi, Tappers! Guess where I am! Wait, did the headline give it away? Or maybe the blurry photo of people’s heads as they rush through a crowded convention hall?
That’s right; I am at PAX East, and oh my god you guys they’re making a new remastered DuckTales game.
Below the jump: a Day One grab bag of a few indie games that caught my eye, the not-indie and sadly hands-off preview I saw of Saints Row IV, and did you know they’re remaking DuckTales? no seriously
My friends and I have a running in-joke about Infinium Labs’ cancelled “Phantom” console. I don’t mean to be cruel about a failed business model. It’s just that the whole story about a cancelled console that doesn’t exist, being called “Phantom”? You can’t really make that up.
But if Infinium had used Kickstarter in 2004, would we have funded the Phantom back then ourselves? How would things be different?