From a March 10th press release, Nintendo announced that they would be mounting a cross-country major city Nintendo 3DS promotional campaign in which "Pods" would be showcased in metropolitan areas around the United States (and Canada). Living in one of those major cities, I moseyed over to San Francisco's Pier 39 to check out what was going on.
The Pod has 8 play-testing spots with different games at each one. The games at the SF location included AR Games, Face Raiders, Street Fighter IV, Madden, Pilotwings, Steel Diver, and the much anticipated Nintendogs + cats. The latter is a Tamigotchi-style virtual pet raising game, in which you can pet your pets with a cursor, feed them, take pictures of them, post them to various social netoworks and even hold in the palm of your hand (thanks to an AR Card). Nintendo is also providing a Mii-maker kiosk adjoining the Pod, where you can make a Mii based on a couple default settings and an intuitive process that adds features based on a self-photograph. As you could post this to Facebook or send this to up to 3 email addresses, many people were enjoying this feature, including Mii. I mean, me.
Most popular game to demo was a three-way tie between Face Raiders, AR Games and Nintendogs + Cats. All of these games have AR elements or are entirely AR based, so this bodes very well for Portable AR experiences in the near future.
Want an iPad 2?! OMG of course you do!! You could wait for it to ship 2-3 weeks after you wait for a few hours in the absurd Apple Store line(s)- or there's another option! Improve the social media metrics of TechCrunch and you, too, can have a 1 in ~4000 chance to win an iPad 2. It's genius, and impressively formulaic. Get ahold of massively-desired Tech, and offer it at the low, low price of nothing, minus a one-click social media endorsement. Or, I don't know, 2-3 of them.
Just "like" their Facebook Fan Page, Tweet something about an iPad 2 with the #techcrunch hashtag, and if you're feeling especially saucy (Crunchy?), comment on the story. Hopefully something ironically insipid that insults yourself, your dignity, or is self-deprecatingly face-saving, like, "I never do this but" or "I hate social media but".
C'mon, le monde.
Either way- with over 3k tweets and counting, it's already a successful campaign (Lasts until March 12th 7:30 PM EST).
If you haven't had the chance to play SpyParty yet, it's a combination of Metal Gear Solid and that one level that exists in every FPS where you only have a sniper rifle. But more classic.
The IGF Seumas McNally Grand Prize runner-up (Minecraft won) was one of the most popular indie destinations at GDC last week, with people lined up to get in on the action. The game itself has a nostalgic arcade feel, but the gameplay is wonderfully and psychologically complex. One player is a Sniper, one is a Spy, and the former has no idea who the latter is. The Spy can blend into an entire dinner party of characters, and must complete a host of secret missions while simultaneously avoiding detection. This is difficult, because the Sniper has been "briefed" (i.e. the instructions to the game) on all of the "tells" a Spy could possibly evince. The Spy has the advantage of being able to see the laser-sight of the Sniper, and thus know where he or she is looking at all times. Catch is: there's a time-limit, so one of you has to make a move at some point.
EA's Frank Gibeau has said some good things about the future of PC gaming, as strongly as saying that he sees the PC platform as possibly being the biggest market for EA over the coming years.
He said to Gamasutra that 'The use base is gigantic, PC retail may be a big problem, but PC downloads are awesome.' With the recent success we've seen with Steam, this comes as no surprise - it's just good to hear from someone in the market who isn't whinging about piracy on PC. EA has also said that Battlefield: Heroes is doing very, very well with 368, 241 new users every month on the PC alone and now have over 7 million registered users since launch. The free-to-play title shows that it can do very well in the PC world.
Microsoft's latest press-release is out and with it comes the news of 10 million Kinect sensors being sold and over 10 million Kinect games sold since launch. With the news Microsoft is now able to proudly hold their chest high as they've broken a Guinness World Record: Kinect for Xbox 360 is the Fastest Selling Consumer Electronics Device.
Guinness World Records officially named the Kinect for Xbox 360 the fastest selling consumer electronics device after the smashing success that Microsoft has seen with the Kinect. Personally? I'm waiting for some games to really take advantage of it... but, kudos, Microsoft.
Before I was distracted by the AR.Drone cage's techno music at GDC last week, I spent some time at the 3dvia booth. I must have been in the French section of GDC, as 3dvia is part of Dassault Systèmes.
I was initially attracted to their augmented reality promotional game demo on the outside of their booth. There was a French Cereal Box resting, unattended beneath an external-camera-equipped flatscreen. Recognizing the giant AR marker on the back of the box, I lifted it to the camera to see what I was going to get. As I had expected, an interactive augmented reality game materialized on the screen in front of me. What appeared to be a cereal mascot seemed to be trapped on the right side of the box, standing on top of a spring. A marble rolled back and forth idly at the top left as my hand moved the box slightly. Tilting the box either way moved the marble, so I experimented. The object was to collect a series of wispy white light orbs positioned throughout the plinko style drop down "maze", and upon collecting them the spring jettisoned the mascot sprite outside the box where it did a little dance and offered to let me Rejouer.
I find this one a bit strange, Microsoft are only hiring people now for work on the next-gen Xbox? Surely they'd have R&D constantly going before the Xbox 360 was even finished, but anyway, on with the news. Microsoft has reportedly begun recruiting hardware engineers to work on the next-gen console.
Microsoft have yet to have confirmed the news, but have advertised three job positions on LinkedIn with each position looking for people to work on designing new console architectures. The roles currently being advertised include Graphics Hardware Architect, Senior Architect and Performance Engineer for the Xbox Console Architecture Group and Senior Hardware Design Verification Engineer. Quite the mouthful.
Dragon Age II launched today in North America and BioWire has decided to surprise PC gamers with a download of a high-resolution texture patch which adds an option to enable higher detail replacements for most textures in the game.
Obviously a beefy PC would be required, but it's nice to have the PC version having something over the console releases. To take advantage of the high-resolution textures, you'll need to have a video card with at least 1GB of memory. BioWire has also noted that most of the benefits from the high-res textures will only be seen when running the game in DirectX 11 mode.
GDC was all about the 3D engines and games- and none was so impressive as Crytek's passive 3D engine. I demoed at least 5 different passive and active 3D engines, and Crytek's shined more than any of them.
The Crytek section looked like a scene from Risky Business: GDC with all of the dudes wearing the Real 3D glasses, both spectating and playing. The camera really doesn't do it justice, but the 3D here is top of the line. And it would have to be, as the Crytek demo area was crowded from beginning to end of Friday's Expo.
Part of that is undoubtedly due to Crysis 2's environment within the game. Unlike a lot of FPS's these days, the surroundings in Crysis 2 are very subdued, and reactive rather than constantly shifting and moving. The player is immersed almost seamlessly within the action because of how easily accessible it is. Though the gameplay is enhanced, there are few 3D gimmicks here (flying random projectiles, unnecessary "gotcha" pop-ups, etc), which sets it apart from much of the 3D media out on the market now (Don't get me wrong, I know it was absolutely imperative that the Justin Beiber movie was in 3D).
The AR.Drone by Parrot might be the coolest video game ever, if you can even call it that. Imagine for a second that you could take the external camera on your iPhone and fly it around your backyard. Or your neighbor's backyard. Or have it follow you while you're on the 21 Bus going down Market Street in San Francisco. Now make the camera a bad-ass insectoid quadracopter. That's the AR.Drone.
While I was checking out 3dvia's 3D game development engine, I couldn't help but notice some reverberating techno dance music. I looked to my left and noticed the following:
Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the giant cage- I had to go check it out. I had heard a lot about the AR.Drone previously, but never seen it in person. I experience a moment of eager child-like euphoria as I realized there was no line, just spectators, and that I would be able to fly it like one of those annoying kiosk dudes in every mall in America- but I just as soon realized that they weren't allowing attendees to try it out. I spoke to the rep in French for a bit (no big deal) and he explained to me that the Moscone Center wireless was too spotty to let people test it out, and they had the Drone on automatic pilot. Damn you Moscone Center!
It seems a little late, but I'll be posting wrap up reviews and cool things we found on the Expo floor at last week's GDC, including video and more photos.
The Nintendo section was almost entirely devoted to showcasing the new 3DS. The active 3D engine was pretty impressive, and the 3DS has an adjustment slide that lets the user decide how much he or she enjoys it or finds it necessary (which for the most part, I didn't). No offense to the good people at Nintendo, I just find active 3D disorienting and just a tad bit gimmicky. Luckily, the 3DS didn't sacrifice or slack on any of the other features in the wake of 3D, and all I saw at the booth were wide eyes and smiles. My own eyes and smile were added to that mix when I tried out two of the augmented reality games that come preloaded on the system. Nintendo uses marker-based AR technology to run their games, launching the AR experiences from a small card (cARd? No? Okay, I'll stop) bearing the familiar Nintendo Question Mark logo. The user orients the 3DS camera toward the card until it recognizes it, and then a variety of things happen depending on what game you're playing.
Owners of Bulletstorms "Epic Edition" get access to the Gears of War 3 beta coming on April 18 - those without Bulletstorm get access on April 25 if they pre-order Gears of War 3 at GameStop in either standard, limited or "epic" edition form.
The beta wraps up on May 15 giving players a month of multiplayer thrashing, there's a tonne of content to unlock in the beta. Below is a list of what is able to be unlocked to those who have access to the GoW3 beta.
Rovio has been enjoying their sky-rocketing success lately and have TV/movie spin-offs happening but also a new 'collaborative' Facebook game coming out. Currently the PS3 has a version of Angry Birds out on the PSN with Wii and 360 getting their shot soon.
The Facebook version, "there will be completely new aspects to it that just haven't been experienced in any other platform," said studio boss Mikael Hed, who confirms that due to the social site's 'collaborative nature', "the pigs will have a more prominent role". Launching in a few days is "Angry Birds Rio" which is a tie-in with a Fox movie and swaps the evil pigs for monkeys.
I'm here at the last day of the GDC in dowtown San Francisco, hanging out and checking out the cool tech. Most of the things I'm going to see here are demonstrations of products and games that everyone already knows about from former press releases and the like, but it's still going to fun to play around with it. I wanted to get a first hand look at Nintendo's much-heralded 3DS, especially the AR interface, so my first stop was the Nintendo booth.
The Nintendo array is great- demos of many games including the new Zelda. A very helpful 3DS rep named Jamie introduced me to the AR games. The 3DS uses marker-based augmented reality, meaning the the images and experienced are anchored to a physical object, like a sign or a barcode. In this case, Nintendo uses a small card with the familiar Nintendo Question Mark logo.
The GDC is pumping out some great content today with Epic Games using the show as an opportunity to show off some updates to their Unreal Engine 3. The engine is now capable of DirectX 11 tessellation, subsurface scattering on characters, depth of field with bokeh effects for lights, fully modeled hair, and a new reflection effect that add a veneer of realism to the rain-soaked streets depicted.
The results of these additions are some very impressive looking screenshots, but for now the updates are near useless until we get some DX11-based next-gen consoles. The second we get next-gen consoles, I feel there will be an absolute explosion of graphics, right now we're very much held back. The tech and software is there, it's just a matter of time.
During the PlayStation Network Analysis panel at GDC, SCEA digital distribution manager Pierre Gravereau announced some platform stats to attendees, revealing that worldwide sales for the PlayStation 3 console sat at over 41.6 million.
More than 80-percent of consoles are connected to the internet and from those users, 70 million PSN accounts (obviously some people use duplicate accounts, one for proper play, one for OMFG HACKS YOU *enter all profanity here*). gravereau boasted the success of PSN in 2010 by saying that the PlayStation Store saw increases of 60-percent compared to 2009 whilst Sony saw a 70-percent spike in revenue.
Minecraft cleaned up last night at both the International Games Festival (IGF) and Game Developer's Choice Awards (GDC), winning no less than 5 different categories, including the Seamus McNally Grand Prize and Best Downloadable Game. Indie sensation Minecraft, developed by Mojang, has enjoyed a huge success in mainstream and independent gaming communities alike.
Quite a short story, but we'll update it as we get more information.
At the GDC 2011 this afternoon here in San Francisco, Crytek and EA let event-goers test their upcoming FPS Blockbuster, Crysis 2, out March 22nd.
Another portable/tablet device (re: iPad 2, Xoom, 3DS, Galaxy Tablet, Playbook) announces Augmented Reality capabilities. Yay. The Sony NGP unveiled some AR demos at the GDC 2011 in San Francisco yesterday. This bit of exciting news also got lost in the iPad 2 Internet Frenzy Of 2011.
[UPDATED WITH VIDEO]
Amidst the craziness that was the iPad 2 announcement yesterday, Nintendo's exciting news about their own portable device may have been obscured. President of Nintendo Saturo Iwata took the stage at the San Francisco 25th annual Game Developers Conference yesteday to deliver a keynote in which he spoke about the history of Nintendo and his own career.
For those of you old enough to remember Flashback, this news might come as a surprise to you. France-based VectorCell is the work of Paul Cuisset of "Moto Racer" and "Flashback" fame. They have a new title in the works dubbed, Amy.
The world of "Amy" takes place in December 2034, when global warming has taken its toll on human life with the spread of disease and the occurrence of natural disasters. The game is set in the small Midwestern town of Silver City where players take on the role of Lana, who wakes up in the aftermath of a meteor strike.