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GDC 09 – Quick Report

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GDC 09 – Report

Well, the Games Developer Conference 2009 has come and gone. Below are just a few of my little scribblings detailing some of the more significant things to come out of the event.

On-Live

One of the biggest surprises of GDC 09’ was the revealing of the On-Live gaming service; a perpetually active online service which allows users of a low end PC to attach a set top box of sorts that essentially streams games such as Crysis to their machine, running at high detail and frame rates.

Think about that for a moment.

While the potential of such a service is staggering, so also are the technical obstacles that are involved with it. Take Crysis as an example. Crysis requires a meaty rig to get the title running at a decent clip, let alone with high detail settings thrown into the mix. The way On-Live works is that powerful server side PC’s essentially run the games and stream them back to the client (you), which brings to mind the fact that firstly, you would need to establish a theoretical connection limit (how many PC’s per user would On-Live have to buy to support a user base of one million – the answer being truckloads) and secondly, streaming an ENTIRE game at high detail settings will simply take an insane amount of bandwidth (again raising a resource issue in regards to the purchase of connections that are able to stream such a huge amount of data in the first place).

Even if all goes well and somehow this madcap scheme is in some way feasible, nobody will want to play games that are laggy or hampered in anyway by performance issues. This again presses the point that the technology for On-Live would have to be achievable, widely available and spot on; all of which I don’t believe presently are.

At the GDC event, a version of Burnout Paradise was shown apparently streaming from the On-Live system. With only a small hint of lag, On-Live reps were keen to emphasise the fact that the game was being streamed off-site (a fact difficult to prove) and that the service is still requiring optimisation.

The fact remains however, that the technological requirements are simply not pragmatic at this point in time and that while the On-Live people seem bullishly aware of this and swot away such ideas without giving any hard evidence, they will have to ‘fess up the particulars (pricing, release, specific logistical concerns) of this plan sooner rather than later so that we can discern just what the hell they are trying to do here.

For those who want to see what all the noise is about below is a link to demonstrations of the new tech:

http://www.gametrailers.com/game/onlive/11029

CryEngine 3

Speaking of Crysis, developers Crytek chose GDC 09 to unveil their newest graphics engine known as CryEngine 3. This newest chunk of middleware allows optimisation for 360, PS3 and PC platforms; effectively playing to the strengths of each machine whilst allowing a huge range of performance customisation for PC owners to better match their individual hardware specifications.

Besides allowing all kinds of visual jiggery pokery to abuse our retinas, it’s the gaming implications of this new engine that I find to be the most intriguing. Reasonably assuming that CryEngine 3 will form the strong majority basis of future Crytek game development, console gamers will/should finally be receiving close to simultaneous releases of any forthcoming Crytek titles. Perhaps they should test the waters with a console version of Crysis, what do you think?

Link to the trailer and demonstration of the new pretty engine below:

http://www.gametrailers.com/game/cryengine-3/11027

New Zelda Game: Zelda Spirit Tracks Announced for DS

Nintendo fans hoping for a brand new Zelda title to take full advantage of the Wii’s capabilities, were instead forced to wait until E3 as they were sidelined by the announcement of a new Zelda title for Ninty’s dominating handheld.

Titled, The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, the brief footage that was shown appears to take visual cues from earlier Zelda titles The Phantom Hourglass and The Wind Waker.

Seemingly Link is controlled entirely with the stylus and in doing so can also control a secondary character (appearing to be a knight of sorts, clad in armour). The usual puzzle solving and monster mashing apparently returns, this time appended by (excuse the crappy pun) on-rails sections where Link is conducting a train whilst blasting trackside enemies with a trusty cannon.

A boss battle was also shown, with link fighting the boss with all of his usual abilities (sword attacks, bombs etc…) whilst the stylus controls the movement and combat abilities of his armoured sidekick. And that was pretty much all that was shown folks. The other detail to mention is that the game is due for release this holiday season. It certainly shows promise at this stage, but I guess we’ll have to see more of it at E3 to see if Nintendo are on the right track with this one (sorry, I had to).

Link to the trailer below:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/47155.html

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time Announced For PS3

Insomniac’s flagship platforming series welcomed yet another title into the series with the official announcement of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, due for release on the PS3 this autumn.

Details are predictably sparse at this juncture, but what has been made clear is that as per the title, the space faring lombax and his wise cracking robot sidekick will have to deal with time manipulation in their adventures, which will also be presumably platform/shooter based as they have been in the past. Nothing else was really shown of the title (again E3 will be the place for a proper reveal) with the teaser trailer showing off an exposition of story as opposed to one of gameplay. In fact below you can find the link for said trailer:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/47275.html

Mass Effect 2 Unveiling

Yep, not much was shown for this one other than the design process that forms the primary development ideology for the game. Apparently ‘keen to listen to players, journalists, respected figures whilst adding a whole bunch of shit on top’, we can best surmise at this early stage that Bioware is actively looking at what made the original Mass Effect not so great (inconsistent frame rates, poorly thought and repetitive side missions and sparse generic planets) and will be doing their best to improve it whilst adding extra features in.

It’s not much to go on I know, but the best thing to come out of the entire presentation was the mention of previous save games, and how you should hang on to them. Well that’s a relief, but then relief gives way to anxious speculation when one wonders just how previous saves will be implemented (which characters will be alive, which choices will be carried over, does this mean the game will have multiple beginnings?).

As an unveiling it was somewhat lacking in the juicy details, but this as with all things Mass Effect 2 will hopefully be made clearer at E3.

Unfortunately for PS3 owners however, any Mass Effect title on their system is strictly a ‘no comment’ situation.

Three New Final Fantasy Titles Due For Wii

Prior to GDC, we all had our suspicions that Square Enix would be announcing a Wii Final Fantasy title at the show. Well, it turns out the ‘one’ fell somewhat short of the mark, as the Japanese RPG giant announced no less than three Final Fantasy titles due out for the Wii.

The first of these titles is WiiWare title Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord. As if the title didn’t give it away, My Life as a Darklord is a sequel to last year’s My Life as a King, where players had to create their own kingdom and castle in what was a decent execution of a fantasy simulation concept. This time however, the boot is very much on the other foot as in My Life as a Darklord, players find themselves cast as a malevolent warlord, hell bent on pillaging and destruction.

The second of these titles was a confirmation of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, coming to the WiiWare platform. Billed as a sequel to original SNES classic Final Fantasy IV, The After Years casts players as the offspring of FFIV heroes Cecil and Rosa, this time tasked with taking up his/her parent’s mantle of saving the kingdoms and ensuring the safety of those important shiny crystals.

And lastly, Square Enix confirmed that the original 8-bit NES edition of the very first Final Fantasy title will be coming to the Virtual Console in its unaltered state, allowing players to relive exactly how it all began.

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Written by bitsnark

April 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

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GDC 09 – Quick Report

leave a comment »

GDC 09 – Report

Well, the Games Developer Conference 2009 has come and gone. Below are just a few of my little scribblings detailing some of the more significant things to come out of the event.

On-Live

One of the biggest surprises of GDC 09’ was the revealing of the On-Live gaming service; a perpetually active online service which allows users of a low end PC to attach a set top box of sorts that essentially streams games such as Crysis to their machine, running at high detail and frame rates.

Think about that for a moment.

While the potential of such a service is staggering, so also are the technical obstacles that are involved with it. Take Crysis as an example. Crysis requires a meaty rig to get the title running at a decent clip, let alone with high detail settings thrown into the mix. The way On-Live works is that powerful server side PC’s essentially run the games and stream them back to the client (you), which brings to mind the fact that firstly, you would need to establish a theoretical connection limit (how many PC’s per user would On-Live have to buy to support a user base of one million – the answer being truckloads) and secondly, streaming an ENTIRE game at high detail settings will simply take an insane amount of bandwidth (again raising a resource issue in regards to the purchase of connections that are able to stream such a huge amount of data in the first place).

Even if all goes well and somehow this madcap scheme is in some way feasible, nobody will want to play games that are laggy or hampered in anyway by performance issues. This again presses the point that the technology for On-Live would have to be achievable, widely available and spot on; all of which I don’t believe presently are.

At the GDC event, a version of Burnout Paradise was shown apparently streaming from the On-Live system. With only a small hint of lag, On-Live reps were keen to emphasise the fact that the game was being streamed off-site (a fact difficult to prove) and that the service is still requiring optimisation.

The fact remains however, that the technological requirements are simply not pragmatic at this point in time and that while the On-Live people seem bullishly aware of this and swot away such ideas without giving any hard evidence, they will have to ‘fess up the particulars (pricing, release, specific logistical concerns) of this plan sooner rather than later so that we can discern just what the hell they are trying to do here.

For those who want to see what all the noise is about below is a link to demonstrations of the new tech:

http://www.gametrailers.com/game/onlive/11029

CryEngine 3

Speaking of Crysis, developers Crytek chose GDC 09 to unveil their newest graphics engine known as CryEngine 3. This newest chunk of middleware allows optimisation for 360, PS3 and PC platforms; effectively playing to the strengths of each machine whilst allowing a huge range of performance customisation for PC owners to better match their individual hardware specifications.

Besides allowing all kinds of visual jiggery pokery to abuse our retinas, it’s the gaming implications of this new engine that I find to be the most intriguing. Reasonably assuming that CryEngine 3 will form the strong majority basis of future Crytek game development, console gamers will/should finally be receiving close to simultaneous releases of any forthcoming Crytek titles. Perhaps they should test the waters with a console version of Crysis, what do you think?

Link to the trailer and demonstration of the new pretty engine below:

http://www.gametrailers.com/game/cryengine-3/11027

New Zelda Game: Zelda Spirit Tracks Announced for DS

Nintendo fans hoping for a brand new Zelda title to take full advantage of the Wii’s capabilities, were instead forced to wait until E3 as they were sidelined by the announcement of a new Zelda title for Ninty’s dominating handheld.

Titled, The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, the brief footage that was shown appears to take visual cues from earlier Zelda titles The Phantom Hourglass and The Wind Waker.

Seemingly Link is controlled entirely with the stylus and in doing so can also control a secondary character (appearing to be a knight of sorts, clad in armour). The usual puzzle solving and monster mashing apparently returns, this time appended by (excuse the crappy pun) on-rails sections where Link is conducting a train whilst blasting trackside enemies with a trusty cannon.

A boss battle was also shown, with link fighting the boss with all of his usual abilities (sword attacks, bombs etc…) whilst the stylus controls the movement and combat abilities of his armoured sidekick. And that was pretty much all that was shown folks. The other detail to mention is that the game is due for release this holiday season. It certainly shows promise at this stage, but I guess we’ll have to see more of it at E3 to see if Nintendo are on the right track with this one (sorry, I had to).

Link to the trailer below:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/47155.html

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time Announced For PS3

Insomniac’s flagship platforming series welcomed yet another title into the series with the official announcement of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, due for release on the PS3 this autumn.

Details are predictably sparse at this juncture, but what has been made clear is that as per the title, the space faring lombax and his wise cracking robot sidekick will have to deal with time manipulation in their adventures, which will also be presumably platform/shooter based as they have been in the past. Nothing else was really shown of the title (again E3 will be the place for a proper reveal) with the teaser trailer showing off an exposition of story as opposed to one of gameplay. In fact below you can find the link for said trailer:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/47275.html

Mass Effect 2 Unveiling

Yep, not much was shown for this one other than the design process that forms the primary development ideology for the game. Apparently ‘keen to listen to players, journalists, respected figures whilst adding a whole bunch of shit on top’, we can best surmise at this early stage that Bioware is actively looking at what made the original Mass Effect not so great (inconsistent frame rates, poorly thought and repetitive side missions and sparse generic planets) and will be doing their best to improve it whilst adding extra features in.

It’s not much to go on I know, but the best thing to come out of the entire presentation was the mention of previous save games, and how you should hang on to them. Well that’s a relief, but then relief gives way to anxious speculation when one wonders just how previous saves will be implemented (which characters will be alive, which choices will be carried over, does this mean the game will have multiple beginnings?).

As an unveiling it was somewhat lacking in the juicy details, but this as with all things Mass Effect 2 will hopefully be made clearer at E3.

Unfortunately for PS3 owners however, any Mass Effect title on their system is strictly a ‘no comment’ situation.

Three New Final Fantasy Titles Due For Wii

Prior to GDC, we all had our suspicions that Square Enix would be announcing a Wii Final Fantasy title at the show. Well, it turns out the ‘one’ fell somewhat short of the mark, as the Japanese RPG giant announced no less than three Final Fantasy titles due out for the Wii.

The first of these titles is WiiWare title Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord. As if the title didn’t give it away, My Life as a Darklord is a sequel to last year’s My Life as a King, where players had to create their own kingdom and castle in what was a decent execution of a fantasy simulation concept. This time however, the boot is very much on the other foot as in My Life as a Darklord, players find themselves cast as a malevolent warlord, hell bent on pillaging and destruction.

The second of these titles was a confirmation of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, coming to the WiiWare platform. Billed as a sequel to original SNES classic Final Fantasy IV, The After Years casts players as the offspring of FFIV heroes Cecil and Rosa, this time tasked with taking up his/her parent’s mantle of saving the kingdoms and ensuring the safety of those important shiny crystals.

And lastly, Square Enix confirmed that the original 8-bit NES edition of the very first Final Fantasy title will be coming to the Virtual Console in its unaltered state, allowing players to relive exactly how it all began.

Written by bitsnark

April 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

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