It's like watching a pair of kids excitedly explain their make-believe games to one another, but in this instance, the kids are veteran developers and the games are real. We managed to get Richard Garriott (SOTA) and Chris Roberts (Star Citizen) in a room together to discuss the early days of the industry, and during camera setup, the two talked space.

Physically-based rendering promises photorealistic lighting in 3D environments by offering a mathematical, less production-intensive approach to the rendering of light. The three letter acronym – “PBR” – has circulated lately as industry frontrunners like Chris Roberts (Star Citizen) have touted its presence in triple-A titles. A few game engines come to mind when we think of advanced, hyper-realistic graphics capabilities; one of those engines is the CryEngine, developed and maintained by Crytek and best-known for advancing PC graphics with Crysis.

While at GDC, we had the opportunity to ask a pair of CryEngine developers to explain what PBR is, how it affects gameplay, and if it has any performance or production impact to games. Joining us in the below video is 3D Environment Artist Sina Els and Engine Programmer Scott Peter, providing a top-level definition of physically-based rendering and its uses.

For a week, our team wandered San Francisco and Boston, trekking between GDC and PAX East. We endured delayed flights, frozen rain, unseasonable (for us) heat in California, massive snow drifts (in Boston), smelly clothes, unfortunate public transport, and the overall frustration of travel and hotel. But for brief 10 minutes, fortune shined on me.

Three One Zero revealed new gameplay for its first-person space survival title Adr1ft at PAX East. I played through this never-before-seen demo, detailing my impressions of the game’s presentation, mechanics, and overall immersion.

Adr1ft puts players in the first-person perspective of an astronaut who wakes up following the destruction of her space station and the death of her crew. The game uses simple mechanics but challenges the player to wisely conserve oxygen and repair the astronaut’s suit to upgrade their health throughout the playthrough. Adr1ft debuts on PC this September and features Oculus Rift support, ranking it among the slew of impending “First-Person Experience” titles now trending.

For some background, I spent 8 years selling and playing board, miniature, and card games. That’s a whole lot of shuffling, rolling, measuring, and reading small text. So, upon meeting Colm Larkin of Gambrinous at GDC 2015, I was taken-in by the hand-drawn art-style of Guild of Dungeoneering. Its cartoonish style brought to my mind imagery of the popular Munchkins game, a tongue-in-cheek jab at D&D -- not far from Guild of Dungeoneering.

Deathtrap is a top-down tower defense game with action-RPG elements. Your hero is one of three classes – sorceress, mercenary, or marksman – who are each left alone to defend the world against creatures emanating from “chaos portals.” The portals are opening for the first time in thousands of years (et cetera, et cetera), unless you’re playing co-op, in which case you have some company.

We first discovered Castle Story in March of 2012, during an explosive period of indie game development and crowd-funding. 2012 was a somewhat magical year in this regard: Star Citizen began its initial push, Cube World gained traction, and Castle Story – an RTS/builder hybrid made by new graduates – raked-in three-quarters of a million dollars.

Richard Garriott is one of the industry's most experienced designers, and that's doubly so for RPGS, a genre he's managed to remain in for nearly the entirety of his career. Having started the Ultima series after inspiration from tabletop D&D games, Garriott is now focusing on Shroud of the Avatar under Kickstarted developer Portalarium. The team, which is independently publishing, has managed to sustain 24/7 uptime since November. That's an impressive feat.

The variety of games at PAX East’s Indie Megabooth supporting local multiplayer or cooperative gameplay always impresses. Not only is Kitfox Games’ action-RPG Moon Hunters a cooperative title for up to four players, but it also offers a unique setting far from generic fantasy or generic sci-fi.

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