The first in our new series of industry job analyses is here! We're planning to talk with everyone in the different fields of gaming, and not just the designers, programmers, and artists. That's right: we're giving the spotlight to the audio developers, public relations representatives, in-depth fields like AI programmers, level designers, and anyone else you can think of. For the first in the series, I headed over to the Icarus Studios building, which houses developer Fallen Earth (of the same-named game) to talk to audio director Mike Franke.
"I'm Mike, and this is my baby."
Reflecting on a time of simple graphics and complex, intertwined stories has become a favored chore of the experienced gamer. It might just be the curmudgeon in all of us, but when truly given some thought, everyone reading this article possesses the ability to conjure up nostalgic memories of games that have come and gone. It was a time when female characters were composed of the same number of pixels as their male counterparts; a time when isometric graphics, a few thatch roofs, and mind-boggling character development was the pinnacle of all things righteous; and most certainly, it was a time when the cRPG dominated primitive gaming machines everywhere. Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II are, alongside Planescape: Torment, considered to be some of the best-crafted role-playing games of all time. They are the exact inverse of new-age 'RPGs,' where the guts of a story have been substituted for the guts of a monster - if you played them at all, you played them to become fully engrossed in fantasy.
EXOR Studios announced their second free expansion for the silly zombie killing game, Zombie Driver. The new Blood Race mode lets players race against one another in "a brutal tournament in which the only rule is survival of the quickest." New maps (race tracks) were released with the expansion, and boast of destructible environs and - of course - thousands of zombies to slow down racers. COO of EXOR, Pawel Lekki, stated the following:
"The first free expansion for Zombie Driver has created a lot more positive buzz for the game than we have expected, and allowed us to introduce the game to a lot of new players. Thanks to the warm response from gamers we are able to continue expanding the game with new play."
A currently disbarred Florida attorney once claimed that playing First Person Shooters drives people to killing other people. I disagree. I think 'Super Meat Boy' does.
Super Meat Boy had simple, humble beginnings as a small flash game on Newgrounds, which has amassed close to 900,000 views so far. Its player-base grew even bigger, accumulating plays by more and more people across the globe. The simple design coupled with hardcore gameplay made it a hit with just about everyone who stumbled upon its tiny hiding place within that vast sea that is the Internet. That small flash game, Meat Boy, would eventually grow until it got a publishing deal, first from Nintendo, then Microsoft. These deals would cement their status in arcade game history. Whether you enjoy Super Meat Boy or not, the fact that it exists on the Xbox Live Arcade at all is phenomenal. Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes are legendary developers in the making.
If H.P. Lovecraft made a video game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent would be it - it's the scariest game I've played in recent years. Unlike any other game I have played, Amnesia gives you no means of fighting back. Now, that might sound stupid, but being defenseless versus big-mouthed monsters helps the horror ten-fold; instead of fighting, you'll spend your time hunting for hiding places - closets, boxes, or dark corners seem to trick the nemeses effortlessly. Aren't demons supposed to have a good sense of smell? In most games you star as some near-invincible gun toting bad-ass, but in Amnesia you're just a normal guy. Immersion elevates Amnesia above most other games in the horror genre.
The graphics of Tron, the hilarious-yet-dorky aspirations of War Games, and a wave of indie innovation coalesce into a classic artillery-styled game by Lunar Workshop. Digitanks is all about careful placement of tanks and artillery in turn-based play, inevitably advancing to a game of hilltop supremacy: get in position, fortify your squadron, and rain pixilated balls of light down upon the opposition. Artillery games of the past stopped there, offering little more than an arcade battlefield for two passer-bys; Digitanks adds an expected level of strategy by enabling the construction and research of computer hardware-themed structures and upgrades. A few fancy buildings won't bring many artillery veterans back to the scene, although the gameplay just might.
The evolution of the Internet has brought a double-edged sword down upon the gaming masses. Our ability to purchase hardware and software at reduced prices via Newegg or Amazon has negated any reason to venture "out," and the humble household console has brought the arcades in. Yes - we have downloadable games at our fingertips, but here's the problem: what happens when you want to, you know, get out of the house? That creaky chair needs a break at some point! Websites have abolished any purpose to visit storefronts, arcades were brutally murdered by accessibility and convenience, and movies keep us occupied at a fifth the cost of a brand new game for a tenth of the duration. Enter Strafe Gaming, a new gaming 'lounge' fully equipped with couches, 40+ inch televisions, expensive projectors, and all the recent consoles.
EuroGamer Expo 2010. With the line-up of games we've had this year nothing could have stopped me from attending the annual gathering of gamers from around the UK and, in some cases, the world. While it's nowhere near as big as the likes of E3 and even PAX (which we also attended), over the last few years the relative size allows EuroGamer Expo to showcase games that are better suited to the people present, rather than just throwing everything possible into one cauldron and hoping for the best. There's something at EuroGamer Expo for everyone; whether you're a hardcore multiplayer gamer or just someone that enjoys playing on the weekends, there'll be something here that makes the trip the trip worth it. Earl's Court in the centre of London was the venue for this year's Expo and, despite my initial scepticism toward crowd size, I found it was attended by an impressive 20,000 people over the course of three days. It's not difficult to see the draw of EuroGamer Expo: not only was there a multitude of upcoming games to play on-site, but there was also a whole slew of developer conferences coupled with the GamesIndustry.biz career fair. Even if you're only attending to accompany your gaming friend, there's always something interesting to find.
The developers of Fallen Earth, the MMOG released late last year, have posted an exciting update on their forums. The team is anticipating a major overhaul in the coming months, and being a small developer, they live and die based on community feedback and interaction. The developers look to recruit players into their PTS (Play-Test Server), where gamers can try out changes and provide input on the forums or via bug reports.
The test server gives players access to nearly unlimited resources and level advancements in order to test rapidly, thus eliminating disproportionate time investments for something that will inevitably be wiped. Read the entire post below.
Legendary rally racer Ken Block posted photos of his 'test' run of DiRT 3 online recently. The game is a follow-up to the well-received DiRT 2 (except for that pesky Games for Windows Live), and is expected for release 2011. DiRT 2 was known for its graphics and ability to take advantage of DirectX 10 and 11, and Codemaster's won't have it any differently for the next time around.
Ken Block said the following on facebook:
I did some very fun “testing” at Codemasters today! They are in full swing on Dirt3 development right now so they had me in to test out some of the Gymkhana playgrounds...and I have to say it was one of the best times I have ever had playing a car video game. Seriously, the Gymkhana locations are amazing and my Ford Fiesta drives & slides very realistically. I took some pics to show you what's in store for you when it drops next year. Check it out!
Whether or not you believe Ken Block penned the statement (as opposed to a media worker), the photos are real - and they are included below!
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