Ah space combat games how I've missed you. Shame that like no one makes them anymore. Anyway here's a video on Black Prophecy.
And I'm stealing @Sidburn19 's thing of linking using images, makes so much more sense than what I was doing. Would be even nicer to actually embed Youtube but ah well. I like this game. I think that flying actually feels pretty good and there's a whole lot of customisation that you can do to your ship. As far as I know you only get to fly a fighter and not larger ships but that's fine I wouldn't have expected you to be flying much larger ships anyway.
I think the biggest problem I've had with the game is that the quest design in some spots is pretty poor. I like the parts where I'm flying around shooting other ships but the opening quests are not great. But there are many times where the quest just drags on far longer than it really should. Destroying ships in a turret is fine for like a minute but when it just keeps going and going that's just real boring. There's also quite a lot of interface and loading stuff that seems quite jarring. I figured that during the beta it was just hey this is something they'll polish up beacause it would take like 20 minutes to do. No, that didn't happen at all.
In any case this is a free to play MMO that's pretty different to other MMO's, it's pretty heavily instanced so you are never going to get super crowded or at least not that I saw. But there are spots that remind me of the great time I had with Freelancer like 8 years ago (man that makes me sound way older than it should). And that's not a bad thing at all.
I'm a bit late with this video but better late than never.
I iike this half life 2 mod rather a lot. It's quite proof of concepty in some ways but there is some rather excellent writing behind it. Level design certainly wasn't the priority with this mod and it shows. In any case it's worth checking out, it takes like 10 minutes to see pretty much any of the endings so it's not a massive time commitment.
And I shall also leave you with this image. Chocolate cupcakes with a coffee buttercream .
I can't believe I forgot to post this here . Anyways here's my latest video
The game's okay. I don't think it works particularly well as a bridge between King Arthur the Roleplaying Wargame and the upcoming King Arthur 2. Also it's not as good as the main game, it removes all of the real overworld map stuff and removes a lot of the stuff you can do there. The heroes you get aren't super customizable either, but the game in general still plays alright. The original King Arthur is a pretty darn good strategy game and is worth playing especially when steam sales hit. But the standalone expansion really isn't worth playing unless you've already played the orginal and the DLC packs for it, because I think all of those come together better than this does. Short post here, I'll make another video for next week.
At the time of writing this I have a couple more videos uploading and I'll update the relevant posts as soon as they're done probably tomorrow (silly ADSL upload speed). I think Eurogamer Expo is a great show, yes it's almost entirely a consumer directed show and being put on by Eurogamer it totally makes sense. I would like to see it grow further but also to do a couple things. First of all the indie arcade, give those guys more space. It was super cramped in there and they really do need more space than that to work in. Secondly, either make the careers section of the floor something good or drastically change it. As someone who did sort of go to the Expo looking for a job there were two whole development studios there. I get that it's not really up to Eurogamer who comes and wants booth space there but more needs to be done there. On the flip side I think that there was a really good number of careers sessions (that I didn't get a chance to see at all) that probably were very good so I don't think that abandoning the careers side of the event should be on the table, it just needs a bit of a rethink.
Eurogamer also not a huge cosplay show, there were a couple of good outfits and perhaps I shall take part in cosplay at some point but i didn't end up taking photos of cosplay at all. I made the decision pretty early on either to take pictures of all of it good and bad or to just not bother. And well that's the side of it I ended up on really.
One more bit of housekeeping, I probably won't have a video going up this week as I'm pretty busy doing actual work. Anyway here's links to all the other stuff that I've written about what I've seen at the expo because well all of it's now kind of buried:
Video Links in all their shakey cam glory:
Eurogamer has a section dedicated to just indie games and despite being somewhat overly cramped does actully have a couple of interesting games there.
Very similar to canabalt with a 3D engine and some music and also an end to the map. The point is to get high scores by running fast and collecting pink orbs. You hold down any key to run and by letting off you jump, pressing a key down will cause you to dive to the ground and by doing this as soon as possible lets you run and gain as much speed as you can. Again canabalt comparison.
Trading card game type thing with board game strategy elements. Doesn't help that the game I was thrown into was pretty much a foregone conclusion. But the game seems neat, managing resources and moving pieces on the board to block and stop your opponent (I was super annoying by putting a creature down that can only be killed by spells on my main base that he was right next to). If you lose your main stronghold you lose the game or if the other person gains the required number of victory points. It seems like a fun game but it's not for me.
Your job is to collect up molecats and then by twisting segments of the world lead them all to the exit without getting them all killed. It's takes a while to get your head round all the peices of the map and how you need to move all of them to meet your goal but once you do you get to do some pretty complicated things in the game. Also this game is really terrible to play if you're at the end of a show day and getting pretty tired and can't thing right.
Reimlands: Hammer of Thor
Turn based RPG where you have pretty visible dice rolls for attack and defence. Some of the equipement even striaght up says +1 attack dice. If this excites you this game might have something for you. In the days where games try to hide dice rolls it's kind of cool to see one that just exposes it like this. That said I didn't get a chance to play much more than the opening part of the game which only really touches the surface of the crafting and the combat.
This is probably the game at the indie games booth that I enjoyed the most. It's a PvP focused space combat game where you control a ship. There were a lot of Dota comparisons made by the guy who was manning the booth and it definitely shows. There is a skill upgrade system that you use inbetween rounds to increase the capabilities of your ship and also there is gear that you equip on your ship in between battles. In the battle I was using a heavy crusier against the developers tiny corvette. Guess who won. It was actually a really balanced fight because of the way that the firing arcs work. If you think of the ships more like traditional sea galleons it makes way more sense. You want to get a good broadside on your target and since the corvette is really fast and can cloak it was really easy for him during the first round to simply run rings around my crusier to pull of an easy first win. The next two rounds I managed to pull back some space by upgrading the speed on my crusier which evened up the odds greatly. But after that he upgraded his engines again and then quickly went back to beating my ship into the dust.
On the floor there was only the 1v1 demo but it does support for larger team battles (I want to say 6v6) and this game was cool. I think that some of the gameplay elements need a bit of polish to it but ideas wise it was definitely worth me checking out.
Two MMO's I got some hands on time both of which are quite a ways out. End of Nations and Guild Wars 2.
End Of Nations
This game was really disappointing, I played this before I saw the developer session so I was really surprised at how not fun it was. The demo that was on the floor was a 4v4 match with capture points. It definitely feels like a World in Conflict kind of game in which you have your units and you have your support abilities. So you can call in airstrikes or deploy turrets around. The problem really is in the unit/team balance. So I had a light army and there's no real way to change this during a match. Unfortnuately for my team at the time there was seemingly no one with any anti air capabilities at all so my army ended up getting destroyed over and over again.
When I did get into a land war it was fine but with such a limited unit count maybe like 10 or so units per player it really didn't feel like you had a whole lot of strategy available to you. Perhaps this was more the fault of the demo they were showing off than the game itself but I feel like it's a game that is doing a whole lot of things that have been done better by games that are kind of already out. It will be a free to play game and they still have a ways to go with development so there are plenty of things that are still subject to change. But something like the unit count and how the units move and interact (just feels like very Red Alert 3 kind of feel, units with special abilities) I'm just not sure how this game will have the kind of strategy and depth that it really needs to be great.
Guild Wars 2
Personal bias here. So be wary about everything I'm about to say on this game. I think this game is awesome. I had a quick go on the character creation before jumping to a high level area with an Asura engineer. The character creator isn't the most in depth thing that I've ever used but there is still potential for there to be a lot of room for customization, but don't expect something on the level of Champions Online or anything.
The combat in GW2 is very different from what you would expect from an MMO, much more action focused. And there really is some novelty to being able to kite an enemy in an MMO. The game has a dodging system that's goverened by a stamina bar. The mob I was fighting was a warrior, just kind of a throw away enemy so I combined my main knock back attack and backwards dodging and I ended up killing the mob without taking a single hit. I tried some of the water based combat and this was less impressive. There's still all the dodging and stuff but it didn't have quite the same impressive flow that I had on solid ground.
Events system instead of quests also works well, you literally just walk around and you run into stuff to do. But I am somewhat wary about how many different events there will be in the final game. Only time will tell.
As you've probably guessed by now I spent almost the entire 4 days of Eurogamer inside developer sessions. This doesn't really leave a whole lot of time for playing games particularly games that have long queues to them. So in no particular order here we go:
This is a cover based third person shooter that I didn't get a long with at all. There was something about the core shooting that felt off, at least the starting weapons. They just don't feel like they do the amount of damage that they should and ended up feeling that some of the enemies were better bullet sponges than they should've been. It does have some cool physics based powers to work with but some of it amounts kind of to, lift enemy from behind cover and then grab a floating object to throw at them or shoot them. I'm probably being harsher on this game than it probably deserves but that demo really isn't good, there isn't quite enough information as to what your physics powers can actually do and also I didn't end up seeing the weird stuff with enemies being on the walls and so on like in the trailer.
Third person cover based shooter. This seems to be set in the near future and you're in command of a small international strike team. You then fight through a city of terminator looking robot guys and you end up at a boss where you fight a giant mech. For better or worse it feels like a very Japansese shooter. So there's a scoring system for doing headshots but not quite as far as something like Bulletstorm. You can then spend this currency to get upgrades for your gun or improve your character. This felt decent, the shooting was alright, the currency/scoring system could be interesting but the weapons that were available seemed very standard fare modern day equipment.
Lord of the Rings: War in the North
This action RPG feels like it could make for a good co-op game but only if played with good actual co-operative play. My first experience with the game was awful because they had the demo machine set up wrong where you had a level 1 character in a level 20 area. Oops. But after getting on an actual real kiosk I had a decent amount of fun with it. I would have liked to see more scale to the battles than was there because the orcs take quite a few more shots than I would really have liked. Also doesn't help when you have limited bow amunition. The real moment in the demo where I felt this game really worked was when the 3 characers the wizard, the dwarf and with me as the archer were really next to each other. The wizard put up a a one way shield that protected us from arrow fire which allowed me to clean up the enemy ranged forces while our dwarven ally happily cut down any orc foolish enough to come close.
It was definitely the part where I really got what the game could do, the fighting system itself doesn't seem to be that deep although I know there is a block button that I didn't manage to find during my time playing so take that opinion with a grain of salt.
This game was actually surprising how much fun I had with it. The shooting feels good, the assault rifle I had seemed pretty crummy but I was fighting armoured enemies so I definitely did pull out my crossbow and used that for a good deal of time as well as plenty of grenades. Also the fact that the enemies I fought carried energy sheilds meant that I had to use emp grenades to disarm them before shooting added an extra layer of complexities to the me not dying campaign. Which I failed at pretty badly but it did give me a chance to play their self defibrilation mini-game and yeah that thing seems like a cool way to get out of a mess instead of just reloading. Unforutnately that was all the time I had with the game beacuse I then promptly crashed the debug machine.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Counterstike with a PS3 controller feels very very weird. But that game totally works with a controller and they've adapted it to make sure that it does. There are a couple new guns in the game but I stayed true to some old favourites. Which really made stand out that the guns in this are a lot less lethal than they were in previous CS games probably to balance the use of a controller instead of a mouse. The map we were playing on was de_dust but an adaptation of it so there were a couple of layout changes so that you don't just get stuck in the tunnel, there's a side exit to that now so it seems like they're rebalancing the maps smartly. Overall it still feels very much like a counter strike game which kind of means i'll be terrible at it but it feels like grounds for a great game.
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One
Played this co operatively with a couple friends, this played really really well. It was just kind of a blast playing a ratchet game with other people in the same place. It seems like the maps will be a little tighter due to the lack of camera control. But like any good co op game it is rife with opportunites to grief your buddies like suck them up with your vacuum and throw them off the edge. The weapons however weren't the most interesting and the lack of groovatron was kind of a big dissapointment for me. Also you resurrect your team mates with by picking them up with your vacuum with their backside to your vacuum and pressing the circle button. I shall say no more.
Dance Central 2
I made a fool of myself dancing on an Expo show floor. Also that game is totally Dance Central. I'm totally ignorant when it comes to music so do I need to say more on this one?
All I had was a 10 minute demo and I spent pretty much the entire time playing something so I didn't really get time to just explore the console properly, but it feels pretty good. The analogue sticks have a pretty good amount of room on them so you can get a nice range of motion.
In those 10 minutes I got the chance to play Uncharted for the system and I have real mixed feelings on that game. There is really an Uncharted one vibe to that game mechanically. Graphically, like the first game, it's really good and is a great showcase for what the system is capable of. However the controls leave something to be desired. The parts of the game that use the buttons and sticks work great. Drawing on the screen to create a path for Drake to climb on works, slightly clumsy and tacked on but they don't detract from the experience too much. On the other hand there are times when you are going to be forced to use the touch screen. It seems that weapons must be picked up using the touch screen and when I attempted to do a melee finishing move that also required that I swipe up on the screen. Probably the worst tacked on control in the demo I played though was using the motion controls to control my sniper aim (which also was left/right inverted as well which was extra weird). That was just bad and utterly pointless although from the photo you can see that this particular point is optional.
Uncharted 1 had us aiming with our grenades using the six axis and that was removed for Uncharted 2 because using the analogue stick worked better. It just so weird that this game goes back on kind of all the lessons of not forcing gimmicky control schemes on people. I'm not going to say that these new controls are bad in all cases because that would be dumb and short sighted, but this game really doesn't seem like the showcase for good use of new Vita control schemes.
Speaker: One of the Story Designers at CD Projekt Red who's name I didn't get, I'm not doing this on purpose really.
The first part of the session was really about showing off the 360 version of The Witcher 2 which from the demo they gave looks pretty good for a 360 game. You can definitely see that they made concessions with the graphics and other visual things compared with the PC version but it's still a great looking game. He mentioned that they don't really view the 360 version of the game as a port but more as an adaptation of the game. In accordance with this they've changed up the camera from the original PC release a bit as well as revamped the controls, so even though the PC version did have controller support right out the gate they have been modified somewhat for the 360 release. He also confirmed that the Red Engine that was used on the PC version is still the engine being used for the 360.
Also coming for the 360 version and the PC 2.0 version is a bunch of new content to the game which includes 4 minutes of new CGI which has been produced by Oscar nominee Tomasz Baginski as well as a new extensive tutorial, dark mode and an arena mode for the game. The new tutorial will take place before the original prologue and will be woven into the storyline and also serves to move the tutorialising that happened in the prologue to somewhere where you aren't quite as focused on the story.
Dark mode is a new difficulty for the game for hardcore players and includes some dark mode specific loot.
The arena mode is an infinitely replayable mode and it has it's own rewards tied to it. However it seems that these rewards will be specific to the arena and won't be able to be taken into your main game proper. There are also companions in the arena that you can hire to fight alongside you for a particular round, but you do need to be careful with them because those companion characters can die in the arena. One of the more interesting things is that the audience will react to how interesting the fight is. So if you are just running around not really doing anything the audience will react and become annoyed at the fight and throw things like apples into the arena to show their disapproval.
The Q&A session revealed a couple of details as well. The 360 version will probably be released on 2 disks although they haven't quite finished finalised that quite yet and also they are working on a way to get 360 players up to speed on the events of the first Witcher. A PS3 version of the game is also still on the table as a possibility but right now the entire team is concentrated on working on the 360 version so that won't really be a real possibility until that is out the door. Also when asked about an SDK or mod tools the response was that while they are thinking about it and it is something that they would like to do they would need to polish up the tools for the game before they would do it.
The Witcher 2 2.0 update will hit on September 29th and the 360 version will be coming out Q1 2012.
I recorded video of this entire session so I'll point you to the video links when they finish uploading tomorrow.
Overall though I can't say this game really wowed me all that much. As someone who's played a heck of a lot of the strategy games that have come out in the last decade or so I feel like the speaker was perhaps saying things that really don't make a whole lot of sense when you take into account how wide and varied the real time strategy market has been recently. We've come a long way since the days of the orginal C&C and Starcraft. I'll post more on my impressions on the game in my hands on segment but that's all for this one.
Speakers: Bret Ash and Raphael Lacostte from Ubisoft Montreal (sorry if I've completely butchered the spelling on your names)
They started off with showing the pre-rendered opening cinematic to the game. Most of this we've already seen in trailers but this time it has a voice over from Ezio to his sister sort of setting the scene for why he's going toMasyaf.
After that trailer was finished playing they talked about how central the Animus has been to the narrative from the story from how it's used by Abstergo and how the Assassins stole the tech to create the Animus 2.0. So in AC2 they introduced the concept of the white room as sort of like the loading room for memories, with Desmond now being in a coma he's been dumped into the black room a sort of low level critial part of the program. And they made note that you can actually see the white room in the distance of the black room as to say this is where you're trying to get to. The way in which to do this is by reliving Ezio's memories and Altair's and where they converge is a nexus point that he can use to get out of the black room.
They've also changed the outfit of Ezio a bit and the way that he acts, in previous AC games he was really about revenge on people that have killed those close to him. But this time he's on a bit more of an inward personal journey. So he's looking a bit more travelled and it's reflected in his outfit of having Mongolian fur and ottoman leather. The thing that attracts him to Constintanople from Masayaf is that the library that contains a lot of the old assassin lore is locked and requires 5 keys from the first civilisation to get inside and those keys are spread out across the Ottoman empire.
Constintanople has a more Orientalism architecture behind it instead of the more western roman architecture. It's also a bit more variation to it vertically because it's a city that exists across 7 different hills. Being the city that it is it allowed them to do a lot more with the character design because there are a lot more different people that come to the city being the main hub between Asia and Europe. This is reflected in the buildings as well. The commercial district is home to a lot of the spices and merchants of the city and so is really quite colourful and bustling with people whereas the rich imperial district is much more open and whiter than the commercial hub and bears much more resemblance to the renaissance architecture that we've seen before.
After this they showed the Demo that has been shown off before of the wounded Ezio. So if you want to go see that there is a video up of it somewhere but it's 1 am and I need sleep so you can go find it for yourself .
Speakers: Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zechuk the Bioware Doctors.
Very similar to the id session in that this was a lot about the history of the studio and a lot of the core philosopies that the studio is about. It was fun to hear how they decided after finishing med school they just decided to start making games on a whim (it probably wasn't quite like that but that's how they made it sound). And now after many many years it's grown into a studio with 7 locations world wide that has over 1000 staff members.
The core values of the company are, quality of the games and workplace, humility and integrity in what they do and also taking risks but in a way that is sustainable and responsible. Generally the games they want to make are essentially high quality games that are among the most emotionally engaging in the world. They then showed a trailer reel of their previous games and they pretty much showed their entire library including things like MDK 2 and Jade Empire the trailer only went as far as ME 1 though.
They then went to talk a little bit about players and what they want from games. Some players care a lot about action and combat, others about progression and customisation of their characters, some want a really good story with great characters and interactions with them and lastly those that just kind of like exploring. They went on to talk about each of these points in more detail and how thigns like their combat in more recent times was influenced by Shattered Steel and MDK 2.
They brushed a bit onto SW: The Old Republic but the main thing that they mentioned was that they have a release date. December 22nd in Europe and 20th in the US this year. So if you're interested in the Old Republic you won't have that long to wait.
This gets to be my shortest post because it was a gameplay demo only from Rocksteady who were the stand ins for the Dark Souls guys who were no shows (boo!). But they showed off the game a lot of which had been seen before, but it was cool to see the riddler challenge room and some of the challenge mode stuff first hand. The combat looks great as ever and I kind of feel that the speed of Catwoman I will probably enjoy more than the batman with his fancy toys.
The Riddler challenge map is really about thinking fast and puzzles. So how can you use the tools you have available in order to save the hostage in time before the Riddler's overly elaborate trap kills him. It definitely looks like a feature that could be made feindishly difficult. Also the scale of the fights has gotten bigger which is cool to see, but apart from saying the game is looking really good there really isn't that much more for me to say.
Speaker: Colin Johanson, Game Designer at ArenaNet
One of the major parts of Guild Wars 2 for the team at ArenaNet was that they wanted to innovate and create something that was really new and inventive in the MMO genre. They've done this with 3 main segments, dynamic combat, story and dynamic events. They wanted the game to be much more action oriented and to play much more like an action game than a traditional MMO where characters stood about using skills. The team wanted characters to move around and dodge out of the way of incoming attacks so many of the skills in Guild Wars 2 you will actually be able to use while moving.
The second was that all characters will have a personalised story, the character creator actually has you create a character bio which will affect your story and how that plays out. It's also a very branching story and the example that was given was that in the levels 1-10 alone there are 15 different branches and each one of those branches out further down the line. It's unclear at this point how diverse these changes are from branch to branch but there will at least be some significant depatures espcially given the nature of some of the character bios (the Charr legions are fairly different from the stealthy Ash Legion, the Soldier like Blood legion and the more mechanically minded Iron Legion).
The last thing and for me the most interesting thing are the dynamic events. They had the philosphy that traditional quest systems for MMORPG's don't really work from the story beats of go kill these guys doing bad stuff to find that they're just standing around in a field, to more mechanical issues in that the way that the rewards for the quests are doled out that they don't really incentivise playing with other people. So a kill quest becomes annoying when essentially players are stealing one anothers kills and really just slowing down the pace at which you are able to complete the quest.
In Guild Wars 2 you have people in the world that will be running around yelling guys are attacking the village and then you can go and stop the attackers from raiding that village. So you might prevent the attack and that is part of an event chain so the next event could be to go and counter attack towards their camp, or perhaps you failed the event and then that village would be over run and vendors in that town would be unavailable until players came to liberate that village from the enemy. And all of this stuff just happens in the world, you don't talk to anyone for them to occur, they happen and you choose if you want to react to it or not. The battles are scaled automatically to the number of "active participants" in the event, so if you're just a passerby it won't count you but if you're actively helping out, killing mobs, healing friendly NPC's the event will get harder. If you were participating in the event you get the full XP amount that everyone else got and you get loot drops for being a part of it and this also applies to just killing single mobs as well, so that you never get the feeling of someone stole my kill and so on.
Also some events in the world will link to each other in a slightly more indirect way. So you could be part of a convoy escort to a seige camp, and that convoy gets ambushed on the way. If that convoy was defended successfully the friendly NPC soldiers that were part of the seige event would get better armour and equipment so they would be more effective in that event. There is also an event specific reward called Karma which can be used to cash in for reward items so that you can decide what kind of reward loot you want from it all. I asked about if the team had considered using procedural generation when it came to the dynamic events system (I'm kind of big on procedural generation given that it's probably the only game related work I've done that's actually any good). His response was that it's all hand crafted stuff because they really wanted the specific feel that they all have and how those events tied together.
There is more to say on the subject of Guild Wars 2 but I have a bunch of videos uploading now that say it much better so I shall add these to the end of the post later when they finish probably some time tomorrow.
Edit: Video links to all the footage that I took bad quality and all . They were having pretty significant technical difficulties with the video feed.
Speaker: Hakan Abrak, Lead Producer at IO interactive
The demo shown at this session was the PS3 build. They have built their own engine for the game and the setting for this particular demo was in the dark and rainy Chicago night. It was also slightly different in that in this scenario Agent 47 was being the hunted one and he didn't really have any tools available to him at the start. What he has instead is his Instinct, and what this system allows is for 47 to see enemies through walls, their patrol routes and so on as a reflection of his past experience and know how to even the odds out a little bit. He also emphasised that one of the core parts of the Hitman series has been freedom of choice and that you will be able to go through these scenarios in many different ways.
The demo starts and Agent 47 is hiding out inside a derelict library where it seems every police officer in the district has shown up. He moves through the starting area slowly using his instinct to find the patrol route of an incoming officer and moves and hides out of the way. The lights in the libarary start malfunctioning a little and this draws attention to a small fusebox on the wall that can be sabotaged. By doing this he can draw some of the guards away and use this to move around them closer to the exit. Eventually however he's stuck in a bit of a corner with no way to sneak past the large group of police milling around the only exit to the building, instead he decides to take a nearby cop hostage and uses this to make his way slowly to the exit. It isn't long though before the police just decide to take him out and a firefight breaks out.
The next part doesn't look so great, mechanically it looks like a cover based shooter but some of the way that the shooting seems like and the animation seems off, but it is a pretty early build so it's likely that this will be ironed out before release. He kills a couple police and by climing up higher he evades the chasing police long enough to make it out onto the roof of the library where he's greeted by a police helicopter. After being shot at a bit, he comes across a lone copper on the roof who he promptly murders and changes into his clothes. Seeing the barcode underneath the police hat, skill kind of ridiculous.
Now safe from the helicopter he moves into a marijuana den in the next building where there is some comedy of the inhabitants trying to cover up their habit. Making his way out though he picks up a bong and then uses that to beat up two officers that are suspicious of him in that room. The melee animation looked pretty good and it essentially acted as kill button against those helpless police. After moving past the rest of the officers in the building he moves to a busy train station where there is a very impressively large and dense crowd of people where he can very easily get lost in.
The game is due for release in 2012 on 360, PS3 and PC. The game looked good I'm not going to dispute that but there was definitely something that in the age of things like Assassins Creed and Uncharted that seems missing from the game. Perhaps it was a issue with the demo and the lack of a target to hunt in creative ways but I definitely felt that there was something missing from this hitman game.
Speaker Peter Garza, Overseas producer for Team Ninja
The talk started off with Peter talking mostly about some of the back story of the game as well as there being a slide show that was basically taking the mick out of him the entire time which was pretty funny.
But on the sligtly more serious side he did say that the game has a slightly different tone than the previous ones in that they are trying to make Ryu Hayabusa into a character with slightly more depth rather than just a giant mass murderer. He specificially said that they weren't making him into some "emo" hero but basically letting you go along with him as Ryu does some pretty bad stuff to people.
There was also some talk as to what an overseas producer does and while a lot of it does boil down to translation, there is more work that goes into it than just taking the text and putting it changing it to english. It involves overseeing the english voice over cast as well as making sure that the tone of the Japanese is carried through and changed if it there is perhaps a better phrasing.
Afterwards there was a demo given and a lot of it did boil down to Ryu stabbing dudes and murdering a whole bunch of guys. It was set in Westminster, London, so you started off jumping off of Big Ben and you get to see the London Eye as well later in the demo. Overall there wasn't that much in the way of surprise, but there were a couple moments. There was a part where a soldier put down his gun and was basically begging for his life before you basically sliced his chest in half. It wasn't entirely clear if there was another way to go through this part but it did seem like it was a forced slightly interactive cutscene.
Seeing the Ninpo attack later on in the demo was cool where he turned into a dragon and that killed people as well as restored his health. There isn't a whole lot more to say other than it's totally a Ninja Gaiden game, there wasn't much in the way of surprises in the demo given but if that's what you come to Ninja Gaiden for it looks like there's a whole lot of it here.
Speakers: Richard Lemarchand and Nolan North
Opens with a previous trailer of Uncharted 3. Then talked a bit about how the games have come about. All 3 of them have some sort of real life historical backdrop from the game and then that is used and expanded into the Uncharted universe in this case the lost city of Ubar. There was also some discussion of the cruise ship level and the technology that was needed to create it as a physics simulation. Which was awesome to hear but there was a much better talk about it during the E3 edition of the Giant Bombcast with one of the Naughty Dog programmers John Bellomy. Well better if you're a programmer anyway .
They briefly showed off the cruise ship level again but the onstage banter by the guys on the stage was really the highlight of that segment, nothing actually useful mind you just good comedy. They then showed off a behind the scenes footage of the "Finding the Well" cutscene and it was cool to see that performance capture stuff be done. Two fun things about that video was that those suits they wear don't have pockets or anything so their "pockets" is a guy that walks up behind them and physically hands them stuff from where their pockets should be. Also they need to make exertion noises for pushing heavy objects and the do multiple sound takes in a row, which looks absolutely ridiculous.
The more impressive demo was set in the desert, I believe it was chapter 19 of the game so it's probably pretty far into the game.
Nathan Drake seems to be out in the middle of nowhere when he sees a town off in the distance at the bottom of some dunes. There does seem to be some very great looking sand technology in the way it deforms and flows under the feet of Drake. As he gets closer to the town he realises that it's broken and deserted and he's not very happy about that, and it looks like he's struggling just looking for some water. After jumping down a well and drinking out of a small pool of water he moves on to explore the town and breaking down a door he and some goons sort of comically stare at each other for a bit before the gunfight breaks out.
The battle looks a lot like Uncharted 2 but they showed off some of the melee combat and that looks more fluid in the game and showed off a disarming move which involved beating someone up and then catching the gun out of mid air before using it. In all honesty the gameplay of Uncharted 3 looked like a very predictable evolution of the gameplay from 2, which isn't a bad thing but it doesn't look like there are going to be much in the way of surprises mechanically.
After the demo Nolan North talked a bit about a book that he was working, Drake's Journal, about Uncharted's development process. Something which he apparently wasn't that educated about prior to working on the book. That book is supposedly available from gamespheres.comto preorder.
There was a bit of a Q&A session afterwards which had some amusing moments but the more serious note was from Nolan North on the facial capture done for LA Noire and how he personally would have found that sort of capture to be incredibly inhibiting. That kind of capture required the actors to be almost entirely still for that process and doing that you're unable to act and work alongside the other actors in the scene, something that can be done with the performance capture setup used for Uncharted 3.
Speaker: Tim Willits, Studio Director at id Software
This talk was about the history of id and the previous games they've done so the opening trailer reel that was shown ran the gambit from all the way back from Commander Keen, Wolfenstein and Doom up to the soon to be released Rage.
A lot of it was really about how influential some of those earlier id games really were on the gaming industry as a whole. Wolfenstein 3D was grandfather of all first person shooter games today, Doom was the game that created multiplayer FPS games, the original deathmatch. He did feel that Quake was the game that really popularised the multiplayer side of the gaming world and mod making which were both present in Doom but Quake was the one that really brought the concept into it's own.
There was more on the history of id but the real meat of the presentation was the Rage demo that was shown off. A lot of the history talk was why id is awesome. Which you know I kind of already knew before going into the presentation but moving swiftly on.
The demo was at the start of the game with a bunch of the later game weapons and ammo types. He showed off some of the driving on a quad bike where he rammed into a pole and sent himself flying through the air rather than just getting off the thing like a normal person, but that would be boring. He showed off some of the dynamic pain system that they have in place and I have to say, neat to see when it works, but that doesn't always happen. There seems to be some weird animation prioritisation where sometimes the pain takes priority other times they just walk through it like nothing happened. Regardless when it does happen enemies stumble when shot in the foot and trip up.
There was an in game cutscene where the he was gutted with a knife to give way to a defibrillator minigame where you can bring yourself back to life. It seemed to be a bunch of button presses, very quick time eventy but it worked and he stood up as if there wasn't a knife in his gut 5 seconds earlier.
The different weapons look good with the mind control bolts of the crossbow to the shotgun shells that are essentially rockets. The best thing to come out of the demo was showing off a Wolfenstein easter egg in the game. One of the things in Wolfenstein was using walls to open up doorways so there was one specific wall in the demo that when opened (and it seemed like there was no indication that the wall was anything other than just a normal wall) opened a full on pixelated Wolfenstein door, which opened into a 1992 looking room. There was something really wonderful about being inside that room and just looking out at the stark difference that the industry has come in 20 years.
Speaker: Creative Director at Human Head (who I didn't get the name of, sorry!)
This was almost entirely the same demo that I have seen before so I'm not going to give the same play by play as I did in the other posts just going to give my thoughts on what I saw. The game looks awesome, now I never played the original Prey mostly because it was kind of an okay game coming out at a time when there were far more awesome and better games to be spending my time with. So take this post for what you will.
The first part of the demo was basically at the very start of the game, the one thing that drew my attention was the complete lack of interface. There is a dot on screen for the crosshair, sometimes a slightly larger cross hair but that's really about it. After he gets knocked out at this stage the demo moves onto about a quarter the way through the game when your guy now has some cool guns and gadgets and is a full on bounty hunter.
The setting is supposed to be "Alien Noir" and it very much shows in it's rather Blade Runner-esque aesthetic. The free running system looks fairly fluid and reminds me a lot of Mirrors Edge in spots or perhaps a better comparison would be Brink but it looks really good. Another standout thing is how open the design is, so it looks like it's going to be an open worldish sort of game. I don't quite think it's going to be like a GTA or anything but probably similar to the hub cities that were in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
He shows off some of the random stuff that can happen in the world like a random alien getting beat up where he just walks off instead of helping the dude. Or just shoving someone off the side of a walkway to the depths below to get a warning from the cops, for murder. Yeah not sure if I want to live in that world. Also shows off some of the random smaller side missions, like a small investigative trail after a guy gets killed or just a bounty side mission.
After a while he goes on to do a main quest line and has to apprehend a teleporter. It was cool to see the teleporter try to get away while you use your free running skills and your hover boots to chase after him. If I could complain at all it would be that there seemed to be too many shootouts in the chase, which I think slowed down the pace of the chase a bit too much. It's probably possible to do it in a more fluid way but that remains to be seen. Anyway the demo ends with the guy getting arrested by you and sent off to the contractor. You're then contacted by kind of large bad ass alien that you apparently pissed off by arresting that guy who shows up to murder you. And the demo ends there.
I like the look of the game a whole lot and everything I've seen about Prey 2 kind of makes me want to try it for myself. I hope all of these systems and side quests come together in a whole well because they definitely have the parts of a great game.
Speaker: Steve Pearlman CEO of Onlive
This session was mostly an awareness session of what Onlive is and how it works. But there were a few things that were of note in this session. An Android version of the Onlive player is in the works. He also made some slightly dubious remarks on how Onlive can eliminate piracy for games and that will mean that will result in more money for developers and publishers. I've never really considered that a pirated game is a lost sale but perhaps that's best suited for another blog post in the future (I think I'm going to end up with a lot of these that will never actually get written).
The more impressive thing that was shown was touch version of From Dust built by Ubisoft for the Onlive service to work on the iPad. It was very impressive to see it running on the iPad and the visuals were better than that you would expect from an iPad game and pretty much on par with what you get in the 360 version of the game. The touch pad controls looked garbage and tacked on but as a proof of concept it's very impressive.
The other thing that was shown was about current pre-rendered scenes (like the Arkham City trailer) being the actual graphics in game. To render it in real time for modern consoles and even high end PCs isn't possible or utterly impractical for most. But with Onlive that can all be done in the cloud and then streamed to players. This part was very theoretical but the possibility exists and that probably means more than if it actually ever happens.