COPENHAGEN--The future of games development in Denmark, and the national IT industry as a whole, could be under threat within five years because not enough high school students are opting for an appropriate level of high-level mathematics courses. This year only 10,000 students will study the subject at a sufficiently high enough level to allow them to pursue IT-related degrees at the university level. It is estimated that the figure required to maintain current levels of growth in the game industry should be nearer 35,000.
These concerns were raised by Soren Hebsgaard, manager of developer and platform strategy at Microsoft Denmark who spoke at a conference organised by CCP Games, the creators of EVE Online. The event, attended by journalists from around Europe, looked at the subject of narrative worlds and how different types of massively multiplayer online games approach the topic.
Hebsgaard went on to describe his notion of "gaming 2.0," which aligns the game industry with current ideas around "Web 2.0" and the trend that sees more user-generated content springing up not just across the Internet, but also within multiplayer online worlds. Linking the possibility of the "democratisation" of games development with the recent launch of Microsoft's XNA platform, Hebsgaard is hopeful that where the industry is failing to attract high school students, XNA might enthuse a new generation of bedroom programmers to spring up.
Also speaking at the event was Mark Wallace, journalist and 3pointD.com blogger. He compared how gamers relate to avatars in MMOGs as opposed to the way they do in more linear games, and listed four ingredients in a "primordial soup that gives way to these beings."
These were: complexity and the resulting breadth of choice for a player, agency and a significance to a player's actions, a sense of conflict, and critical mass of population. He went on to compare the social dynamics of small and large virtual worlds to those found in villages and cities in real life, and made the point that different-size worlds will tend to operate in significantly different ways.
Finally, the conference heard from EVE Online's senior producer, Nathan Richardsson, who explained some of the reasoning behind the game's development choices. He pointed out the differences between two approaches--the theme park approach, which is easy to access and has mass appeal, and the playground approach, which is nonlinear and has realism and depth.
His belief was that EVE Online contained around 80 percent playground and 20 percent theme park environments, and stated that while the game's player-versus-player content probably lost the game subscribers, it was crucial to the concept of risk in the game. In EVE Online there are high penalties for player "death," ranging from the loss of ships and equipment to the loss of skill points that have built up over time, although there are ways to insure yourself against such a loss.
The event ended with a new trailer showing more details from the Revelations expansion, and some indication of the graphical upgrades that players might expect from it.