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Gaming | PencilGym.com - Part 2

Archive for the “Gaming” Category

Just read about this brand new support funding group called “Indie-fund“.

Started up by 7 of the industry’s most successful “Indies” (Independent developers), namely creators of “World of Goo” Ron Carmel & Kyle Gabler, “Braid”s Johnathan Blow (one of the most awesomely hand-painted games in my opinion of all time), Kellee Santiago from “Flower” (PS3), “Critter Crunch”s Nathan Vella, Matthew Wegner “Off-road Velociraptor Safari”, and Aaron Isaksen of “Armadillo Gold Rush”…the groups mission is to support fellow Indepedant Developers/”Indies” by

…helping indie developers get financially independent and stay financially independent.

Ron Carmel explained that indies going to publishers was a “system that never worked” because there was no “transparency” in the process. Also Indies that go to these publishers (ie. Activision/EA/Ubisoft) always mostly end up getting pushed around, hurting the original game design process, restricting the creative process, and these Indies get tied down by the publisher..publisher tells the Indies “what is better to do”.

With Indie Fund,

…A focus will be on flexible development.

The game development process requires experimentation and iteration, so the old methodology of coming up with big design documents ahead of time, with milestones attached that risk employee pay, ends up causing developers stress and ultimately risks game quality.

Under the Indie Fund model, the developer submits periodic builds to the fund along with a change list, so the game can be evaluated based on where it was last time it was evaluated, “not on where we think it should be”. This approach “respects the game design process as it should happen”.

Importantly, Indie Fund will not seek IP ownership. “We want the developer to own the IP and for the developer to be master of their own destiny.”

“We don’t want to tell you how to make your game.”

“If we provide funding for a game, then that’s a vote of confidence in the team that they have a vision and that they can execute it.”

If i know better than you what’s right for your game, then we probably shouldn’t be funding your game.”

- Leigh Alexander and
Simon Carless

GameDeveloperMagazine April 2010

Indie Fund is the bright light that many aspiring Indies will look to! Since the Fund only just launched, it is still a model in testing, and future funding for more games is still uncertain. They however, already plan to bring in bigger investors to support, if the funding model does prove successful.

This is great news for Indies. Especially today when “big houses” have been laying off so many people, regardless an industry veteran or not. Casual/Indie games have been booming, over Facebook, iPhone/iPad (mobile games), XBox Live Arcade, PSN, and other web platforms.

I am too personally, rooting for Indie Fund’s mission to be a success. I feel it’s a great time to break away from the developer/publisher model, let the hard work of indies pay off the way it should..encourage more people to explore Indie games as an option!

I would encourage anyone who’s interested in developing Indie games to check out Indie Fund further. :D

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just a quick blurb.. Steam currently has a Rockstar Week going on..

pretty much getting all the games from Rockstar studios for like.. the price of one.

Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto 2
GTA 3
GTA Vice City
GTA San Andreas
GTA 4
GTA Episodes from Liberty City
Bully
Max Pane
Max Pane 2
Midnight Club 2 (one of the best arcade racing games in my opinion)
Manhunt
Wild Metal

that’s 13 games for $40bucks…

what surprised me was that they even include up to the most recent title “GTA4 – Episodes from Libery City” which recently sold for 30bucks on its own.

to me, you’re not just buying 13 awesome games, you’re getting to watch and experience how a game grew through the years to what it is today (GTA series), which is awesome since there’s so many iterations.

but i’ve not made my purchase yet. x:

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ok so i just read this amazing article “Opinion: Be Wary Of The Innovation Bandwagon” (you guys should read it too!!) … and i thought i’d write down my thoughts about it, as i find every bit of that writeup very relevant to many aspects of my personal endeavors.

The writer basically says that you don’t necessarily need to come up with an entirely new ‘innovative idea’ for your game to be ‘successful’…and he talks about the 2 kinds of developers, “clean-slate” types and “reactive” types…

In a blog post from a few years ago, Warren Spector said there are some innovators who are the “clean slate” guys who come up with these borderline crazy yet ingenious new game concepts that nobody has ever heard of before. Not only can they come up with the ideas, but they’re also able execute on those ideas by creating a game that’s truly compelling.

But Spector said that he considers himself more of a “reactive” guy — he plays existing games, gets annoyed with their shortcomings, and comes up with his own game that fixes the problems that he identifies.

see video here

An example i can think of as “crazy yet ingenious new game concepts” would be the student-project-gone-professional “Portal”. What game can u think of?

…and i completely agree with the writer in regards to the innovation bandwagon.

I finally learnt what “type of developer” i can identify myself as..”reactive” (yesh, i consider myself a game developer already! wahaha) …if you read back at my rants from earlier (months/years), you will notice that i’ve done just about what a “reactive” person does. Play games, get annoyed, and improve upon those aspects. Only piece missing is actually executing, which i’m quite limited to as of now because of my education & my experience (i even made a post some months back to look for programmers to help me!).

I have friends that knows me not to complete games (not finishing/playing all the way through) and this is probably the reason…on my end, i just play the game to explore and see what the game has done and is about, why people recommend it, why the love it, why they don’t like it, and take notes! x]

A good place to find games would be Steam, there’s tons of demos available there, and demos are pretty much all you need. oh and there is the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) community as well (although i don’t have an xbox).

My favorite piece to take home from his writeup is the notion that

Most great games aren’t based on brand new, ground-breaking ideas. More typically, great games come from someone who has skillfully identified where existing ideas need improvement or further attention, and can execute on those observations.

I think he should have added something about sequels in that regard…everyone knows that the idea of a sequel to anything (game/movie/tv show) usually ends up on the two extremes as ultimate failure or epically successful, and i’m pretty sure these people making the sequels must have done some kind of  research on their originals feedback.

Game creators should still absolutely take risks and pursue innovation.

Now that is what i call Art.

Some day, reaaal soon, i’m gonna execute my ideas…stand on the edge of the cliff and risk plunging into the waters far down below!
Look out world, i’m coming to get ya! :D

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with the recent Starcraft 2 Beta promotion, people that pre-order the full game, will receive a beta key as a bonus, amongst other bonuses for pre-ordering.

and the numbers are showing already.. just last weekend, i saw no higher than 13000-15000 beta players on a friday night/saturday night, and this weekend, that number has doubled to over 25000.

many on the Starcraft 2 game forums are saying they’ve gone ahead to pre-order to get the beta key so they can play now…contributing to this sudden growth in the beta community.

if you do the math, that’s roughly around +10k players, we can assume such a big number because of pre-orders, that’s a lot of pre-orders already…and it’s only the first weekend.

the pre-order is a mere $5 , and with numbers like this, Blizzard is already banking in gold for a game that is just in beta form…pre-order will “upscale” to a further $50 or so when the game does launch.. since a pre-order secures the future product purchase.

looking awesome for Blizzard..yet again.

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Blizzard Entertainment’s phenomenal video game/MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) “World of Warcraft” aka “WoW” has recently released new downloadable content (DLC) for the player community.

This brand new virtual game item is a “Celestial Steed” or virtual Horse, that players can use to ride across the virtual game worlds. That’s all it does apparently, it makes your character travel quicker around the game.

and it costs $25.00 to purchase and download to your game account.

According to the reports/writeups on other websites, 4 hours in after the item was released (it was released around 9 or 10 in the morning), the Download Queue was already at 80,000 players..and rising.

4 hours, 80,000 units sold @ $25.00USD each. $2 million dollars by lunch break.

There’s alot of hateful comments and such circling this as well, something like “why so expensive? who would pay that? i could use that $25 so much better than a virtual horse.” Answers return with “It’s the person’s money, not yours. They decide not you.”

So, 80,000 players sounds CRAZY A LOT already.. but looking at it, the total online community stands at over 15million players (last i read reports of “14 million WoW players” couple years ago)..so 80k players is nothing really…instead, it does show that yes, the majority of players do feel that the item is not worth spending for. Nonetheless, it’s still $2million in 4 hours. Let’s see how many of us can say they even make $1k in 4 hours.

My source page: Blizzard Makes 2 million in 4 hours

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Ever wondered why a new Game costs $60? “Game are so expensive! 10 games would already be $600 at least before tax! My pockets!

Here’s an excellent video to explain why, and breaks down where each of your precious dollars go.

Those thinking of your careers, this video will help you get an idea what each discipline gets .. ;D

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o.o

just read a bit ago how the Industry had an average loss of 4% in salaries..and the difficulties they faced in the past year..

but look now!

sales have gone up! “Up 6% with PS3 (Playstation 3) making the most of that..”

The top ten console retail software titles for March 2010 are as follows:

1. God of War III (Sony Santa Monica/SCEA, PS3), 1.10 million
2. Pokemon SoulSilver (Game Freak/Nintendo, NDS), 1.02 million
3. Final Fantasy XIII (Square Enix, PS3), 828,200
4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (DICE/Electronic Arts, Xbox 360), 825,500
5. Pokemon HeartGold (Game Freak/Nintendo, NDS), 761,200
6. Final Fantasy XIII (Square Enix, Xbox 360), 493,900
7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo, Wii), 457,400
8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (DICE/Electronic Arts, PS3), 451,200
9. Wii Fit Plus w/ Balance Board (Nintendo, Wii), 429,600
10. MLB 10: The Show (Sony San Diego/SCEA, PS3), 349,200

- Gamasutra.com

Over 1 million units sold for just the month of March.. wonder how many in total sales now.. hmm x]

there’s also a breakdown list for number of gaming platforms (consoles/handhelds) sold, which i guess also accumulates into that 6% increase:

Retail console unit sales for March 2010 are as follows:

1. Nintendo DS: 700,800
2. Wii: 557,500
3. Xbox 360: 338,400
4. PlayStation 3: 313,900
5. PSP: 119,900
6. PlayStation 2: 118,300

Gamasutra.com

These hardware sales are most interesting to me..for example it shows that there’s like an average of 300,000 new homes to purchase a PS3 each month! More and more families are having the gaming console at home, which means a constantly growing community, which means more love for the gaming industry! :D

and just look at the number of people now with a Wii in thier homes…550,000 more in just a single month of March.. wow. o-o

Check out the full article: Industry Sales Up 6%

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woaaahh! Psyched!

I’ve finally received my official Starcraft 2 Beta Invitation from Blizzard Entertainment!

Millions and millions around the world have all but been anxious to get a chance to participate in this beta, only mere thousands worldwide has actually got their golden tickets in thus far.

The beta has been running for about 2 months in now, having launched around Febuary this year, with beta access keys being valued at over $300USD on EBay…look at how crazy people are about getting this game! So it comes naturally to be this hyped about getting your very own beta invitation..!

Hmm.. i wouldn’t mind selling the account..i could use the money better hehe and i’m not sure i’ll have enough time to fully participate with all my homework piled up here.. x]

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Wooo! And we thought our Game Industry was “recession proof”.

The annually conducted “Game Developer Salary Survey” has noted a 4% drop in the average salary someone in the industry earns!

Salary Breakdowns by Discipline: (annual average)

Programming – $80,320
Art & Animation – $71,071 (increase 2% from previous!)
Game Design – $69,266 (increase 3% from previous!)
Production – $75,082
Quality Assurance – $37,905
Audio – $82,085
Business & Marketing – $96,408 (drops 6% from previous)

Read full writeup over at Gamasutra.com!

Who says you can’t make a living from Video Games? hehehe.

That’s also just average salaries from working in the industry, i don’t think they take to account outside work like casual games (iphone apps/facebook apps/web games) x]

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Crytek studios is at it again, after showing off another outstanding CryEngine 3 Tech Demo at GDC, they’ve also left us with a brilliant game trailer..giving us a glimpse of the game’s post-apocalyptic New York city.

I for one absolutely love this trailer, it definitely holds true to Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli’s cinematic game approach…using a very dramatic sequence, coupled with a heart-warming soundtrack, it builds a powerful emotional response in us as we watch it. In the mere 1 minute, we already get attached to the soldier character the short cinematic focuses on, it’s beautiful. The “common trailer” would be to show how bad-ass your new game is going to be, with action packed sequences and guns blazing, but very very few games take on this cinematic-emotional approach..Crysis 2 being one of these (other games that have done it is Bioshock 2, Final Fantasy series).

Crysis 2 is looking fantastic needless to say. It’s ranked #1 on the GT Game Rank (i’m assuming #1 hyped-for) out of over 9000 other games, that shows alot lol. The new game is a depart from the original game’s lush tropical island environment, and now takes place in an urban landscape, New York City. The game is being built on the new CryEngine 3, which is “optimized” for consoles (booo.. dumbed-down engine from the original pc-power-oriented CryEngine). It still looks awesome, but i feel there’s something lacking/missing when i saw the tech-demo D: there’s just no same “oomph” i get from back when they demoed the first CryEngine. The only “new tech” i really digg is the new dynamic texture blending feature…something i’ve never seen before in any other game (maybe it’s been done before, but not in any of the games i’ve had the chance to explore).

Anyhows, enjoyyyyyyyyy the beautiful Crysis 2 trailer! I believe the trailer is all in-game real-time footage, not pre-rendered cinematic, which shows off just how powerful crytek’s game engine is…

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really motivating video, showing us the awesome studio of Epic Games, people responsible for the leading industry game engine “Unreal Engine”, also responsible for the award-winning “Gears of War” games.

the video has Cliff Bleszinski (aka “Cliffy B”) giving some basic information regarding the studio, as well as ways to get into the industry x]

gosh.. i’d give anything to work with Epic Games, just look at their facilities and offices! -dreams-
especially look at Cliffy B’s office…! tht’s pimp!

Epic Games Studio Tour Part 1 & 2:

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A recent release of DLC (Downloadable Content/Expansions) for Infinity Ward’s “Modern Warfare 2″ makes 2.5million sales (at $15 a pop) in just the first week, with 1million of which was sold on the very first day of launch (for xbox360).

plain Awesome. @_@

Well, to put into some perspective, the single title alone (MW2) already sold over $1billion net in sales (eat that, Avatar!)..there’s numbers around confirming a constant average of 20 million players online at any one time, worldwide..so 2.5million sales for just DLC is small in that sense, but for ANY game DLC to even manage 1million in sales is already painstakingly impossible…

in my personal opinion, i’m not really sure just what’s so hot about Modern Warfare 2′s multiplayer. The singleplayer campaign is short, but it does deserve a hand or two for its presentation..the sales though is because of the multiplayer, but really, isn’t it just another war-themed-first-person-shooter? i could be wrong x] (i’ve not had the chance to play the game yet)

hay, but the world plays it, loves it, and even wants more content (DLC)…i’d work to make it happen.

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Yeap.

as i previously posted, Activision’s new game “Modern Warfare 2″ (developed by Infinity Ward) has lived up to expectations in every perspective. The new game released and swept up $550million dollars in sales in just the opening 5 days!

This ginormous number has broken past records across the entire Entertainment industry (music, movies, tv..? etc. )…movies like Harry Potter and The Dark Knight (box office record holders) have lost their hand to the Gaming Industry :D

“The title’s success redefines entertainment as millions of consumers have chosen to play Modern Warfare 2 at unprecedented levels rather than engage in other forms of media,” says Kotick, CEO of Activision

As a cap to the triumphant announcement, Activision is quick to note it “remains cautious” about the current economy both domestically and globally, and points out that consumer spending remains a “significant concern.”

Doesn’t really look as though the economic crisis is preventing consumers from buying games.. :)

Isn’t this just inspiring? Makes you wanna work that much harder to get into such an expanding and fearsome industry :D

Read further! It’s really interesting!
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/26135/Activision_Modern_Warfare_2_Rakes_In_550_Million_FiveDay_Gross.php

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there’s a gigantic game release coming up just around the corner..!

it’s for the new Call of Duty game, “Modern Warfare 2″.

word is Modern Warfare 2 will be [the] biggest launch in the entire entertainment industry of 2009 (suprassing any movie launch, music album release, tv series, etc.).

this is absolutely music to my ears on a personal level. again we see here how much our society today embraces Gaming…our industry has been growing rapidly, and it’s growing so fast it’s hard to ignore these days. Major milestones date back to early 1998/99, and we’ve just been getting better and better at our job these many years.

Back to this upcoming Game Release news, there have been other prior “epic-monumental Game launches” in the past, such as Microsoft’s “Halo 3″ game..Microsoft reporting $170million in revenue within 24hours of the game hitting store shelves.

The Call of Duty series, or franchise, has been running for a great 4 or 5 years now, starting back with the very first “Call of Duty” game, that at the time, also made a very successful launch/premier into the Gaming market..needless to say, each of the successors of the game title have been steadily growing in sales, with the last “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” game, selling already 13million copies across all game platforms (ps3/xbox/pc, at like $50USD each copy).

The new game from Infinity Ward is gonna be plain awesome, with a what-seems excellent Co-Op game mode, fresh new visuals, and it’s gonna be one magnificent launch.

Keep an eye out for “launch day” numbers when it arrives!

Read further on about this on Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=24108

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deng.

didn’t i blog about this before some where… i personally believe very strictly in the micro transaction business model for games. There’s always been a new idea for how to make money off the game you work so hard to develop and put onto store shelves… the more accepted “episodic release” being one of the better favored “new successful distribution” method. Games like NCSoft’s Guild Wars for example was one of the early pioneers of ‘episodic release’ business model… customers buy the game, and get to enjoy the full content of the game for free, until, there’s a new “episode” or expansion, you pay for the expansion, and it’s the customer’s choice if he/she wants the additional content. Valve’s Halflife 2 Episodes are also a great example of this business model.

But that model seems to be… failing. It’s hard work to keep steady with a “6 month” develop-and-release cycle, especially if each new episode has to be as good, or even better, than the previous one (usually it has to be better otherwise why would fans continue to keep up with the game).

So introduce Micro Transactions. The general idea of it alone sounds so much more appealing already to any shopper. You pretty much buy the game free, play all you want, but, when you’re in-game with your character and friends, you start to realize you’re lacking something. So you continue on into the in-game shop, and purchase a new item or boost or armor or etc..for a measly fee of usually something around 2 or 3 real-life dollars. Every time you want something more, or a new kind of boost or upgrade or a new expansion chapter, you head back into that virtual store, and make another 3 or 5 real-life dollar purchase to get an in-game item. Developers are constantly updating and adding new content, usually very simple and quick content, bringing them into these virtual stores within that game, and everyone loves new stuff, so the masses will naturally horde in to grab that new item for 3 dollars a pop.

Alright so what about the iPhone??

well, now Apple has available this type of transaction for game/app developers that wish to make use of. It’s proven that this kind of distribution and business solution helps control piracy, and also increases the title’s distribution rate. Afterall, game is free, why won’t a person grab it? And the moment they do start playing it, that’s where the hook is…and they latch on, and they start micro-transactions, buying mini-game items for “just 1 buck” for the rest of their lives playing this game. Developers add something new and enticing into this virtual shop, and bam, the person goes to spend more money on the game.

I’m excited ’cause i’ve always dreamt to develop a game, which utilizes heavily this micro transaction model..and with the iPhone now capable of it, it’s another motivator for me to push on with my personal iPhone project. :)

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